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NFL prospect out to disprove critics again after torn ACL

Written By kom Namsat on Senin, 21 April 2014 | 05.55

Dominique Easley was hoping for the best as he sat in a Florida hospital room in September. But soon, as the doctor entered with his head down, the defensive lineman and NFL draft prospect knew the worst was coming — not only had he torn his right ACL, but his right meniscus, too, after suffering a dreaded non-contact injury in practice three games into the season.

"I already know what time it is," the Staten Island product recalled telling the doctor, before the results of the MRI exam was relayed to him.

The first-team All-SEC preseason selection didn't stay down. Despite the injury, the chiseled 6-foot-2, 288-pound Easley remains a hot prospect.

Seventeen teams attended his Pro Day in Gainesville, Fla., Thursday, watching him show how far the knee has come, which he estimates is at 85 percent. He already has visits set up with the Patriots, Bears, Chiefs, Rams, Browns and Cowboys, and Easley is projected to go as high as the second round of next month's NFL draft.

"I was disappointed, but I'm not going to stay down," Easley said. "I never thought there's a point to dwell on something you don't have control over.

"I knew I was going to be back, because I just know myself."

He had additional reason for inspiration — his 18-month-old son, Dominique II. Dominique II forced him to mature this past year. Florida coach Will Muschamp noticed him calm down off the field and focusing even more on football.

"That's all of me," Easley said of his son. "Everything I do is for him. I try to give him the best life possible I can.

"It's a crazy thing to look at somebody being just like you, the way you are."

Dominique II was with him when he went under the knife, putting a smile on his face at a dark time.

"I can't ever be sad around him," Easley said.

A late bloomer, Easley didn't play organized football until arriving at Curtis High School. As a youngster, he was drawn to football and practiced with the Staten Island Hurricanes, but Easley was too big to be allowed to play, hence the nickname "Popeye" given to him by his father, David Easley Sr.

He quickly became a star at Curtis, winning two city championships and being named a U.S. Army All-American. He was ranked as the second-overall prospect in the country entering college, and enjoyed an impressive career at Florida despite myriad injuries.

"He's got the best initial quickness for a defensive lineman I've ever been around, and I've been around some good ones," Muschamp said.

Bluntly honest, Easley raised eyebrows at the NFL Scouting Combine when he told reporters he preferred watching cartoons to football. Teams have asked him about those comments frequently and his explanation is simple: He's honest. He's also a student of the game. He'll spend hours upon hours watching film. Passion was never a problem at Florida.

"He's got an edge about him," Muschamp said. "When those bullets start flying, he's the first one I'm looking for in that foxhole."

Easley's injury history — which includes two torn ACL's at Florida — began in the third grade, when he fractured his left knee riding a mountain bike down a steep hill without brakes because of a dare from his older brother, David. A doctor advised him to give up sports, a recommendation he didn't follow.

"I just looked at him like he was stupid," Easley recalled with a chuckle. "I have issues with people telling what I can't do."

He's used that same determination to prove his doubters wrong following the latest setback.

Easley attacked the rehabilitation process like it was a quarterback stepping up in the pocket. In December, he moved to Boca Raton, Fla., to work at XPE Sports, a sports training center.

Director Tony Villani's biggest problem with Easley was slowing him down.

"He never wanted to take a day off," Villani said. "You had to start playing games and tricking him."

Muschamp thinks Easley would be mentioned with South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney as the top defensive lineman in the draft if not for the injury, a notion NFL Network's Charles Davis doesn't necessarily subscribe to. The analyst, however, thinks Easley could still be a second-round pick.

"He's a big-time talent and he's so good that I know most people have him in their top 40 even though he's coming off that type of injury," Davis said. "If he doesn't have that injury, he's top 20 on most boards."

Davis said teams he has spoken to are looking at Easley as more of an investment for 2015 than someone they expect to produce in 2014, like a college player who will need to redshirt. He's versatile, able to play tackle and end, and is explosive off the line of scrimmage.

"I think he can be a player that is pushing for Pro Bowls," Davis said.

Where he is selected in the draft isn't important, Easley said. To hear his name called will be a dream come true, of course, but he's more focused on what comes next, getting onto the field as soon as possible and proving the injury was just a setback, not a derailment.

After all, he's not only playing for himself anymore.


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‘Everest Jump Live’ canceled after deadly avalanche

The Discovery Channel announced Sunday that it's canceling its "Everest Jump Live" special after an avalanche at Mount Everest killed 13 people – the worst disaster in the famed peak's history.

The network had just scheduled a date for the special, in which climber Joby Ogwyn would ascend to the summit before making a death-defying leap in a specially designed wingsuit.

Ogwyn and a seven-member NBC production crew were on the mountain during Thursday's massive avalanche preparing for the special, which was scheduled to air May 11, but were not harmed.

All 13 victims were Nepalese sherpas who were prepping the mountain for climbing season. Three more sherpas are still missing and presumed dead.

"In light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mt Everest and respect for the families of the fallen, Discovery Channel will not be going forward with Everest Jump Live," said network exec. Laurie Goldberg.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community."


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Raptors GM’s vulgarity was a much-needed outburst of honesty

TORONTO — Everything about this was…come on, let's be honest with each other. There's no other word that applies. It was awesome. No. It was AWESOME.

There was the act itself: bold, brazen, brassy. You've seen the video by now. A couple thousand people gathered in Maple Leaf Square outside the Air Canada Centre on Saturday, all of them fixing to watch the Nets-Raptors game on big screens. Toronto's general manager, Masai Ujiri, is greeting the crowd, and they politely keep the noise going, nothing too crazy.

Then Ujiri starts to exit stage left, before he is clearly seized by a wave of inspiration. He turns once more to the crowd and offers the money quote — "F— Brooklyn!" — and the camera literally starts to shake because the entire gathering goes crazy. And then Ujiri drops the mike — he really does — and that's that.

There was the non-apology apology: one of the great moments of honesty we'll ever again see in sports. Ujiri isn't an old-time basketball Moustache Pete; he knows about camera phones, knows you can't publicly utter the four-letter-iest of four-letter words without having to answer for it. So he answered for it, apologized to kids for using a word that's gotten mouths washed out with soap from the beginning of time.

Then added this: "You know how I feel. I don't like them, but I apologize."

Paul Pierce #34 of the Brooklyn Nets drives against the Toronto Raptors during Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2014 NBA playoffs on April 19, 2014Photo: Getty Images

Translation: "I stand by every syllable."

There was the rebuttal, a wonderfully ice-cold response from Jason Kidd, who never even twitched a face muscle as he said, in that yawning monotone of his: "I don't even know who the GM is. I could care less what they think about Brooklyn."

Translation: "Scoreboard."

And there was even this, from Toronto's Amir Johnson, who laughed when Ujiri's observations were relayed to him and then offered: "I'm with him 100 percent, so if he said 'F— 'em,' I say 'F— 'em'. So I'm with him. That's pretty funny."

It's more than funny. It's awesome. It was the kind of genuine back-and-forth that's gotten lost in a sporting world lousy with artificial trash talk and look-at-me. Everything about this was honest, even Kidd's chilly retort. And it forms the basic, fundamental narrative of any contest worth caring about:

We don't like you.

We don't like you, either.

Bring it.

Kevin Garnett #2 of the Brooklyn Nets tries to hold up DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors in Game One of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs on April 19, 2014.Photo: Getty Images

Forget the nonsense of bulletin-board material, of talking out of turn, of giving an opponent extra motivation. These are the NBA playoffs. If the Nets, with half the roster older than Methuselah, need any of that then they're cooked already. And if the Raptors believe any of that will impact the Nets or the series, then they're even younger and greener (and dumber) than we thought.

Besides, do the things people allegedly put on bulletin boards ever actually work? You would suspect the Colts would've had an entire wall, forget a bulletin board, devoted to Joe Namath before Super Bowl III. Didn't stop Joe Willie from carving them up and trotting out of the Orange Bowl with his index finger stabbing the air.

How about Muhammad Ali? He did pretty well for a guy who essentially kept the entire bulletin board industry alive and thriving from 1960 to 1980 or so. We like to think that stuff works. We like to think this stuff works, the way it worked for Ridgemont High when somebody wrecked Jefferson's car before the big game against Lincoln.

But as Garrett Kramer, a New Jersey-based author and mental-performance coach, has written: " 'Bulletin board material' does not work! Actually, it's impossible for it to work. Quite simply, an external factor has no ability to positively regulate a player's performance. There is only one place that an athlete, or anyone, can find the freedom necessary to perform with unbounded determination and effort, and that place is one's own soul."

So the impact of Ujiri's performance may be minimal. But that doesn't mean we can't cross our fingers and our toes and hope — dream! — that something precisely like it can happen again very soon. We always want the people in sports to tell us exactly how they feel. And this is why.


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Is it bad to take notes at a job interview?

I like to take notes when I'm on a job interview, but sometimes I get a weird vibe from the interviewer, like they think it's strange. Is there anything wrong with this?

First of all, I can tell you have really good instincts, because I think one of the reasons why you may be getting a weird vibe is because it IS weird to ask to take notes when you are on a job interview. What gives? There isn't going to be a pop quiz at the end, you aren't going to be asked to write a term paper on the experience, and if you can't remember the substance of this critical conversation without taking notes then you have a bigger problem. So hear me now: The interview is meant to be conversational, in which you express yourself in a way that reveals who the person is that they will be hiring. Your head buried in your notepad is a distraction and a turnoff, and you should stop doing it immediately.

I work in a small office of about 12 people, and there are no legal or HR departments. The men in the office use foul language fairly commonly and openly. It is never directed at another person — just used to be colorful — but I still find it offensive as a woman. The boss just laughs it off. Do I have any recourse?

One always has recourse — you can tell them to shut the #%*! up, of course — but that would seem slightly inconsistent with your argument. The workplace must be respectful, and if anyone is offended by such language, then their sensibility should be respected. I'm afraid I don't believe you have any legal recourse based on the situation you describe. You could try getting creative and placing a big jar in the office and make everyone put in a dollar for every profanity they utter, then donate the proceeds to your favorite charity. If an appeal for a more civil tongue falls on deaf ears, your only other recourse may be to get the #%^! out of there and find a new job.


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Blueshirts will be living with regret

One by one, the Rangers stood in the losing locker room at the Garden — that would be their own — and spoke as if reading from a script.

One player after another solemnly swore nobody expected this opening round to be easy, which of course now it won't be, not following this 4-2 defeat that sends the series to Philadelphia knotted at 1-1, and with the Rangers needing to win one on the road in order to survive.

The problem is the Rangers' actions belied their words. They didn't do anything hard enough to earn this game or a 2-0 edge in the series, and certainly not after striking for two goals and a 2-0 lead by 8:22 of the first period.

They were beaten to pucks and beaten in battles. Their passes were of the hope variety. Nothing was crisp enough. No group of five was sharp enough at either end of the ice. The power play was shoddy. The penalty kill didn't get it done.

Brad Richards called it a "roller-coaster" game, but this ride was all downhill for the Rangers once Jakub Voracek beat Henrik Lundqvist on a right wing rush at 14:14 of the opening period — after beating Ryan McDonagh — to cut the lead to 2-1.

It's not as if the Blueshirts spent the remainder of the match pinned in their own zone, but the home team never again set the tone of the match or dictated its tempo. This was a nastier and more contentious affair than Thursday's opener that the Blueshirts captured 4-1. This was one played on the Flyers' terms.

The Rangers had trouble breaking out and generating speed on the rush through the neutral zone. They were more often than not stuck in the muck, forced to play in tight quarters.

As the game grew more and more contentious, the Rangers were less and less of a factor, able to generate perhaps two or three legitimate chances against Ray Emery — who stopped the final 27 shots he faced after being beaten on two of the first four — after Luke Schenn beat New York back-checkers to a rebound for the go-ahead goal at 11:18 of the second.

"They were able to grab the momentum and we weren't able to stop it quickly enough," said Marc Staal, who would have been a tad more accurate if he'd said, "…and we weren't able to stop it at all."

Game 1 was largely played on the Rangers' terms and largely dictated by the play of the Blueshirts' shut-down tandem of McDonagh and Dan Girardi against the Flyers' top line of Voracek, Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell.
Not so in Game 2. McDonagh had an uncharacteristically wobbly game defending, moving the puck and in getting in on the rush. Girardi, who had people in his face throughout, had a pedestrian affair. Indeed, Staal wound up with more five-on-five time against Giroux's line than did McDonagh. Girardi got only about 1:30 more than Anton Stralman in the match against the league's third-leading scorer.

The power play that essentially won Game 1 by scoring a pair of goals within 47 seconds on both ends of a third-period double minor converted on its second advantage on Sunday, but then failed on its final four; one with a 2-1 lead, one when it was tied 2-2, and two when trailing 3-2, getting just one shot over the final 4:00 of five-on-four play.

The Rangers want to play with flow. The Flyers — testy and confrontational but never over the edge in the manner of Brent Seabrook or Milan Lucic, for that matter — live to disrupt a finesse team's rhythm. That's what they did in Game 2, disrupting and chopping up the Rangers' nice game.

It might as well have been Dornhoefer, Kindrachuk and Lonsberry out there against Ratelle, Gilbert and Hadfield.

This wasn't a good enough effort from the Rangers under any circumstance, let alone with the opportunity to grab a 2-0 series edge over a team using its backup goaltender. The Rangers weren't necessarily lazy, but they were outworked. They ceded control of the pace and thus ceded control of the series.

On Friday, Lundqvist talked about the need for a killer instinct, about how the Rangers had learned lessons about the harmful effects of failing to seize control early in playoff rounds. Apparently not well enough, with this loss, the Rangers' eighth straight while up one game in a series dating back to 2012.

Lundqvist told The Post the club's mind-set was, "No regrets."

Chances are the Rangers are going to regret this Game 2. To coin a phrase, the rest of this is not going to be easy.


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Rangers need to stay disciplined in Game 2 vs. Flyers

Written By kom Namsat on Minggu, 20 April 2014 | 05.55

The mantra for the Rangers is "whistle to whistle." As in, no nonsense in post-whistle scrums that might result in penalties.

It is another way to define discipline — one of the best ways to define the Blueshirts, not only in Thursday's 4-1 Game 1 opening-round victory over the Flyers, but throughout the course of the 82-game regular season.

"We've been whistle to whistle all year long," coach Alain Vigneault said following Saturday's practice at the Garden. "Nothing changes for us."

The Flyers certainly will make changes in their game plan for Sunday afternoon's Game 2 in Manhattan, so the Rangers will be obliged to fine-tune their approach as they aim for a 2-0 edge in advance of Tuesday's Game 3 in Philadelphia.

But the Blueshirts are not obsessing over the Flyers. The Rangers' attention is focused on the details of their own game, one of which is avoiding senseless and/or lazy penalties.

The Rangers were shorthanded 232 times during the season, second-fewest to the Sharks' 219. They were shorthanded no more than twice in 19 of their final 41 matches. On Thursday, they were down a man only once, when Ryan McDonagh was sent to the box in the first minute of the third period for high-sticking Scott Hartnell with the score tied 1-1.

"I was thinking on the bench that we'd better kill this off or we'd be in for a battle," Brad Richards said. "If we hadn't, we might be here talking about something else."

The Blueshirts — third best on the penalty kill during the season at 85.3 percent, behind the Devils and Blues — killed off the penalty in style, with the Flyers unable to get a shot against Henrik Lundqvist.

Indeed, the kill unit refused to give up the puck as the clock wound down on the power play, with Rick Nash looking like a latter-day Billy Fairbairn, ragging it up and down the left side before pitching the puck back to his defense as the power play expired peacefully.

"The idea is to keep the puck away from them, isn't it?" Nash, who has emerged as a penalty-killing weapon, asked rhetorically. "Why give it up if you don't have to?"

They gave up little to the Flyers on the kill and at even-strength. The Rangers' 69-42 overall advantage in shot attempts was skewed by a 20-2 edge over the final 12:25, but Philadelphia rarely was able to set up in the New York end.

Again, much of that was a function of Rangers puck possession, and especially in the matchup against the Flyers' top line of Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek that was discombobulated most of the night as Vigneault mixed his matches.

The Nash-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis line and the McDonagh-Dan Girardi defense pair got most of the work against the Giroux unit, but Vigneault also sprinkled in the Brian Boyle-Dom Moore-Derek Dorsett line and Marc Staal-Anton Stralman tandem against Philadelphia's most dynamic and creative combination.

"For sure I'm more concerned with my defensive responsibilities against a line like that," said Nash, who has dramatically stepped his play without the puck since the Olympics. "But it's also true that the best way to defend against players like that is to have the puck in the offensive zone.

"It's the same with our [more offense-minded] guys. You don't want to be playing in your end of the ice."

The Rangers recognize the importance of holding serve, and they understand the effort that was good enough to earn them a Game 1 victory isn't likely to suffice in Game 2.

"I would anticipate that they are going to be a lot different," Brad Richards said of the Flyers' approach Sunday. "We can't get caught relying on Game 1.

"There's going to be a whole new level of intensity and a whole new level of speed, and we have to be ready for that. There's going to be more hitting. We're going to have to be a half-step to step quicker."

And equally as disciplined.


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Chefs mix up the Scotch egg, just in time for Easter

A hard-boiled egg encased in pork sausage that's then breaded and baked or fried, the traditional Scotch egg is typically known more for its hearty, gut-bomb qualities than tongue-tingling refinement and culinary creativity.

But chefs around town are taking the British bar snack in new directions, just in time for Easter, using unexpected ingredients and techniques to make uniquely flavorful Scotch eggs. Have a bite:

The classic

East Pole's variation of the Scotch egg.Photo: Handout

The Scotch egg at uptown farm-to-table hot spot the East Pole (133 E. 65th St., 212-249-2222) is fairly traditional, but the focus on the egg's sourcing isn't. Head chef Nicholas Wilber takes pains to get especially flavorful, organic, pastured eggs from a small family farm in the Adirondacks. "Where others focus on the sausage," he says, "we want the egg to shine through."

The egg ($10) is cooked just six minutes, rather than hard-boiled, and the sausage layer is just thick enough so that the meat cooks through while allowing the egg yolk to remain runny. "It's got to be just the right amount of sausage," says Wilber. "It's a great little starter."

The avant-garde

Alder's variation of the Scotch egg.Photo: Gabi Porter

At Wylie Dufresne's Alder (157 Second Ave., 212-539-1900), the Scotch quail eggs ($15) bear little resemblance to the British original. The tiny eggs are hard-boiled and coated in ricotta to add bulk, then covered in Andouille sausage and panko bread crumbs and deep-fried. Each egg is topped with a quail-yolk custard — "to give it an extra eggy feeling," explains executive chef Jon Bignelli. To counteract the richness, Bignelli adds a smear of watercress pesto and a vinegar-and-onion marmalade to the plate. "You need something to cut it," he says.

The Italian

Sotto's variation of the Scotch egg.Photo: Gabi Porter

Chef Ed Cotton has long been a fan of Scotch eggs — "the crunchy exterior of the meat . . . that ooey-gooey runny egg yolk," he enthuses — so when he started working at Sotto 13 (140 W. 13th St., 212-647-1001) earlier this year, he added a Scotch egg ($12) with continental flair to the brunch menu. The homemade spicy fennel sausage is more "Mamma Mia" than "Queen Mother" — and the egg is served on a bed of arugula, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. "We are an Italian restaurant," Cotton says, "so it's a slight Italian twist."

The deviled twist

Colonia Verde's variation of the Scotch egg.Photo: Zandy Mangold

At the new Fort Greene South American restaurant Colonia Verde (219 Dekalb Ave., 347-689-4287), El Diablo Escoces ($11) is both a Scotch egg and a deviled egg. The egg is boiled, encased in sausage, fried and split open; the yolk is then removed and whipped with corn, mayonnaise, chili powder and cotija cheese to simulate the Mexican street food esquites. Finally, it's piped back into the egg. "The esquites bring a spicy, sweet flavor to it all," says chef de cuisine Carolina Santos-Neves. "All the flavors come together really nicely."

The biggie

Zeppelin Hall's variation of the Scotch egg.Photo: Astrid Stawiarz

Because a traditional Scotch egg isn't rich enough, New Jersey biergarten Zeppelin Hall (88 Liberty View Dr., Jersey City, 201-721-8888) ups the antacid potential with a Scottish duck egg ($6.95). "The duck's eggs are way bigger, dense and have more flavor than chicken eggs," explains executive chef Franco Robazetti. It's not only encased in sausage but also bacon. "We do things over the top here," Robazetti adds.

Bloody good

The Peacock and The Shakespeare's variation of the Scotch egg.Photo: Gabi Porter

At the William Hotel's new British pub and restaurant, The Peacock and The Shakespeare (24 E. 39th St., 646-837-6776), chef Robert Aikens adds depth to his warm Scotch egg ($9) by seasoning the sausage with the herbs and spices — smoked paprika, cayenne, sage and thyme — typically used in Irish black pudding (blood sausage) instead of just plain salt and pepper. There's also a touch of black pudding added to the mix, but more timid eaters needn't worry. "It's very subtle," says Aikens. "It just elevates the seasoning all around."


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3 epic fails that prove Uncle Sam is a terrible venture capitalist

Before taxpayers lost $529 million on solar energy company Solyndra and $10.5 billion on GM, the US government had a long history of backing the wrong horse.

Many of the great industries in US history — from the fur trade to steamships, railroads, chemicals and airplanes — failed in the hands of government but succeeded thanks to private entrepreneurs.

A closer reading of American history may have avoided the colossal mistake of President Obama's $700 billion stimulus bill.

The government has learned over and over again that when it comes to business, it's a terrible boss. Here are a few examples to keep in mind the next time you hear about a government investment — and why you should quickly bet on the private competitor.

Flubbing the fur trade

Beaver pelts were one of the first targets of government subsidies in the United States — and it helped one of New York's richest men make his fortune.

John Jacob Astor established his Pacific Fur Company at Fort Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. British troops from Canada forced Americans to surrender at the fort in 1813.Photo: Encyclopedia Britannica

The man who confounded the normal development of private enterprise in furs was none other than President George Washington.

Washington analyzed the British fur trade in the Michigan area (then called the Northwest Territory), and he considered British interference a menace to America's future. British agents might stir up the Indians, win their loyalties and thwart US expansion.

With Washington's support, Congress appropriated $50,000 for government fur factories in 1795 and raised it steadily in later years to $300,000.

The government created a bureaucracy — the Office of Indian Affairs — to conduct the fur trade. It used the money from Congress to set up trading posts (usually near military forts), stock them with goods and pay American agents to buy, store and transfer furs from the trading post to Washington, DC, where they would be sold at auction. Once the factories were funded, they were supposed to be self-supporting.

Almost from the start, however, the factory system struggled. The factories were so poorly run that many Indians held them in contempt and refused to trade there.

In 1816, President James Madison appointed Thomas McKenney, a Washington merchant, to take charge of the Office of Indian Affairs and help the factories expand their business.

Indians needed to be assimilated into American life, McKenney argued. Schools and farms, not trapping and hunting, were McKenney's vision for future Indian life. And he believed that an active government was the best way to trade with the Indians and help them assimilate into American culture.

McKenney tried to slash costs by limiting credit and gifts — some called them bribes — to the Indians.

George WashingtonPhoto: Getty Images

John Jacob Astor, founder of the American Fur Company in 1808.Photo: Getty Images

McKenney so much wanted Indians to become farmers that he stocked the factories with hoes, plows and other farm equipment. It was part of his campaign to "amend the heads and hearts of the Indian."

His ideas were a disaster. Indians wanted gifts, needed credit and shunned plows. But since McKenney was funded regularly each year by government, regardless of his volume of trade, he had no incentive to change his tactics.

Private traders, however, had to please Indians or go broke. As private traders grew in numbers and dealt successfully with the Indians, an immigrant named John Jacob Astor joined their ranks, learned the business and began to prosper.

Astor, the son of a German butcher, came to the United States in 1784 at age 20 to join his brother in selling violins and flutes.

Soon, however, he changed his tune. He became fascinated with the fur trade and studied it day and night. He learned prices, markets, and trade routes for all kinds of pelts.

Astor founded the American Fur Company in 1808. Where McKenney and his predecessors built trading posts and forced Indians to come to them — sometimes hundreds of miles — Astor's fur traders lived with the Indians and bought and sold on the spot.

One reason Astor excelled was that he accepted the Indians as they were, not as he wanted them to be.

Astor surpassed the government factories and emerged as the leading exporter of furs in the United States. By the 1820s, his American Fur Company employed more than 750 men, not counting the Indians, and collected annual fur harvests of about $500,000, which made it one of the largest companies in America.

Meanwhile, the government, on its $300,000 investment, received a return of only $56,038.15.

Monopolizing the steamboat

After 20 years in Europe perfecting his steamboat, an inventor named Robert Fulton returned to the US in December 1806.

He knew that a legislator, Robert Livingston of New York, would back him to the hilt. Livingston was a Founding Father who believed that steamboats would work well on the wide rivers of North America. Livingston and Fulton obtained a monopoly from the New York legislature for the privilege of carrying all steamboat traffic in New York for 30 years, if they could produce a working steamboat within two years.

From the book "Uncle Sam can't count: A history of failed government investments, from beaver pelts to green energy", by Burton W. Folsom Jr., and Anita Folsom. (HarperCollins)

Thus, when Fulton sailed the North River up the Hudson River on a hot summer day in August 1807, he had built the first viable steamboat and had just begun the first steamboat line with any measure of success. Fulton opened up new possibilities in transportation, marketing and city building.

One problem with Fulton's monopoly, however, was that it affected shippers in neighboring states. As steamboats became more common, the Fulton monopoly meant that other companies couldn't sail in New York waters without fear of fines. The monopoly also kept ticket prices high.

Finally, in 1817, Thomas Gibbons, a New Jersey steamboat man, tried to crack Fulton's monopoly when he hired young Cornelius Vanderbilt. Gibbons asked Vanderbilt to run steamboats in New York and charge less than the monopoly rates.

Vanderbilt was intrigued by the challenge of breaking the Fulton monopoly. On the mast of Gibbons' ship, Vanderbilt hoisted a flag that read: "New Jersey must be free."

For 60 days in 1817, Vanderbilt defied capture as he raced passengers cheaply from Elizabeth, NJ, to New York City. He became a popular figure on the Atlantic as he lowered the fares and eluded the law.

Finally, in 1824, in the landmark case of Gibbons v. Ogden, the US Supreme Court struck down the Fulton monopoly. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that only the federal government, not the states, could regulate interstate commerce.

This extremely popular decision opened the waters of America to competition. A jubilant Vanderbilt was greeted in New Brunswick, NJ, by cannon salutes fired by "citizens desirous of testifying in a public manner their good will."

On the Ohio River, steamboat traffic doubled in the first year after Gibbons v. Ogden and quadrupled after the second year. The real value of removing the Fulton monopoly was that the costs of traveling upriver dropped. Passenger traffic, for example, from New York City to Albany immediately dipped from $7 to $3 dollars after the court decision.

Picking the wrong airplane

Alexander Graham Bell sat calmly in his rowboat, camera in hand. The great scientist Samuel Langley was on the shore holding a stopwatch, about to launch his miniature "aerodrome."

Suddenly, Langley signaled, and his flying machine took off from the nearby houseboat into the air. After a wobbly start, the two wings steadied, the small engine buzzed and the unmanned plane soared over the Potomac River in a circular path. Bell was so excited, he almost forgot to snap the picture.

Samuel Langley, right, inventor of the failed flying machine, stands with his pilot, Charles Manly, left, in 1834.Photo: Getty Images

Langley clocked the flight at 90 seconds and computed the distance at a half-mile. His triumph on May 6, 1896, made him the favorite to fulfill man's dream of flying. But he needed money.

Then, on Feb. 15, 1898, the Maine blew up in Havana harbor, and the United States and Spain lurched toward war. Congress appropriated $50 million for defense, and Langley developed an argument about the military value of flight.

Teddy Roosevelt, assistant secretary of war, was especially exuberant: "The machine has worked. It seems to me worthwhile for this government to try whether it will not work on a large enough scale to be of use in the event of war."

Roosevelt's endorsement was important because the subsidy disasters with railroads and steamships had, for the past generation, knocked the government out of economic planning. Many politicians doubted the government's ability to pick winners and losers through federal aid.

But Langley and his Great Aerodrome seemed to be different — he was authorized a $50,000 subsidy.

Langley made his top priority the building of an engine, light in weight and strong in power. But a bicycle mechanic named Wilbur Wright disagreed. He concluded, after studying Langley and his work carefully, that stressing engine power over glider maneuvering was wrong.

When asked later about Langley's strategy of engine first, then wind control later, Will responded, "Unfortunately, the wind usually blows."

Up, up .. and down. The Langley "Aerodrome" on the "houseboat" launch platform on the Potomac River on Aug. 12, 1903.Photo: Getty Images

On the two launch attempts, piloted by Charles Manly, it plummetted into the Potomac River and discredited his efforts.Photo: Getty Images

That statement spoke volumes about the practical and financial side of Will's thinking. He wanted to invent the airplane, in part, to make a profit. But Will knew that to make a plane that people would want to buy, or to fly in, he would have to invent one that could fly safely in all kinds of weather. What good was a plane that could be used to drop bombs, deliver mail or carry passengers if it was regularly grounded by even light winds?

Langley, by contrast, wanted fame but not profits. His Great Aerodrome, funded by taxpayers, would be his gift to the nation and his legacy to science. If it had the potential to make money, that task would be left to others.

But Langley flopped. After taking more money from the government, his aerodrome plunged nose-first into the Potomac on Oct. 7, 1903.

Two months later, the Wright brothers — funded by their bike shop, not the government — stayed aloft for 59 seconds and traveled 852 feet in Kitty Hawk.

By 1908, the Wright brothers were the undisputed inventors of the airplane. And the government did what it should have done in the first place — it paid for results, not experiments. It paid $25,000 for a Wright Flyer.

From the book "Uncle Sam Can't Count: A History of Failed Government Investments, From Beaver Pelts to Green Energy" by Burton W. Folsom Jr., and Anita Folsom. Copyright © 2014 by Burton W. Folsom Jr. Reprinted by permission of Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


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Dems want health care for all — no matter the cost

With little fanfare, Vermont is preparing to become the first state to implement a single-payer, government-run health-care system. The Vermont plan, if implemented, would abolish private health insurance in the state and replace it with a taxpayer-funded system under which the state government directly pays doctors and hospitals.

Of course the state is having a bit of trouble figuring out how to pay for the program's estimated $2 billion price tag, considering that the entire state government's operating budget is currently just $2.7 billion. Currently under consideration is an increase in the state sales tax from 6.9% to 29%.

At the same time, opponents of ObamaCare have often suggested the massive health-care program is really a stalking horse for such a government-run system. ObamaCare's fans have sometimes suggested the same. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that the health-care law is "as step in the right direction" toward abolishing private health insurance.

But a single-payer system — or at least government-run health care — may already be a reality in far more ways than most Americans realize.

Already the government directly pays for more than half of every dollar spent on health care in this country. This compares to just 13 cents directly paid by the individual purchasing or consuming the health care. (Virtually all of the remaining 37% is paid for through insurance, much of which is also subsidized, directly or indirectly, by the government).

In fact, consumers in many countries that we associate with "socialized medicine," such as France, actually pay more out of pocket for their health care than do Americans.

Medicare is the single biggest government health care program. At a cost of $612 billion this year, the massive insurance program for seniors alone accounts for one-fifth of all US health care spending. Medicaid pays an additional 15%. Altogether, there are at least a dozen government programs to provide or pay for health care.

In 2012, nearly 41% of New Yorkers receive health care through one or another government program, Medicaid in particular. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly 23% of New Yorkers are on Medicaid. By comparison, just 15% of Connecticut residents and 12% of New Jerseyans are on Medicaid.

Medicare is the second-largest health-care payer in New York, providing coverage for 12% of residents, slightly below the 14% in Connecticut and New Jersey.

But Medicare's influence extends well beyond the number of enrollees. Because the program is the 800-pound gorilla in terms of paying for health care, it establishes the standards that private insurers use to set reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals. Thus, directly or indirectly, the government is already involved in setting health-care prices.

ObamaCare will further expand the governments reach into health care. Based on CMS figures, it is likely that 3 to 4 million people enrolled in Medicaid as a result of ObamaCare's expansion of the program. (The administration has claimed more than 8 million Medicaid enrollees, but most are simply part of the normal churn within the Medicaid program, not new sign-ups.) This represents a 5.2% increase in the number of Americans on Medicaid. In New York, the percentage of people receiving health care through the program will shoot up to more than 28%.

The evidence suggests that at many those new Medicaid recipients previously had private insurance before, but either were dumped by their employers or chose to go on "free" insurance.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, long a supporter of Medicaid, has amply documented this "crowd-out effect," concluding that in some cases, loss of private insurance could completely offset the increased gains from Medicaid expansion.

Similarly, a study by Jonathan Gruber of MIT, one of the architects of ObamaCare, and others found that for every 100 children who received coverage through Medicaid or SCHIP from 1996-2002, 60 lost private insurance. Given how far up the income scale ObamaCare expands Medicaid, such "crowd out" is liable to be even more common than before.

When not expanding the number of Americans receiving government health care through Medicaid, ObamaCare will be adding to those whose purchase of private insurance is subsidized by taxpayers. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and outside organizations such as the Kaiser Family Foundation, possibly as much as 83% of the 7.5 million Americans who signed up for insurance through exchanges received a subsidy to help pay for their insurance. That could amount to more than 6.2 million people.

Worse, since it's possible that fewer than 2 million enrollees were previously uninsured, millions of Americans who were paying for their own insurance have now moved into a system where the government is paying most of the cost.

And it's not as though those subsidies are going only to the poor, who otherwise could not afford insurance. Although more generous to those earning 250% of the poverty line ($58,875 for a family of four), some level of subsidy is available up to 400% of poverty ($94,200 for a family of four). In fact, taking into account various income disregards, some families with even higher incomes could receive a subsidy. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that as many as 700,000 people with incomes more than three times the poverty level will receive a subsidy next year.

Nor should we forget that government also sets the rules for private insurance, regulating premiums, and mandating coverage for various medical conditions and provider groups. At the same time, certificate-of-need laws let state governments control where and when hospitals can be built or what medical equipment they may purchase.

ObamaCare may indeed take us further down the road to a government-run health care system, but it's a road already well-traveled.

Now we face the same question as Vermont: Can we afford it?

Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.


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Photographer put Lennon, KISS, and The Clash front and center

If you grew up in a bedroom plastered with images of the Ramones, the Clash or Debbie Harry, chances are Bob Gruen took at least one of them. Now, the life-long New Yorker, 68, has a new photo exhibition at POP International Galleries in SoHo which collects around 100 of his rock 'n' roll images — including the famous one of John Lennon wearing a "New York City" T-shirt.

"These pictures were not taken with the idea of having a framed picture in a gallery," Gruen tells The Post. "They were taken to go into magazines, which people lived with and put on their walls." In fact, the exhibit is staged to look like a teenager's bedroom. Three out of five people come through the show, look at the bedroom installation and say, 'That's what my bedroom was like! ' "

This is his rock 'n' roll photography New York.

KISS

KISS poses for their 'Dressed To Kill' album cover.Photo: Bob Gruen

Corner of Eighth Avenue and 23rd St., 1974

"Gene [Simmons, bassist] was actually wearing my suit and my wife's clogs. The suit is three sizes too small for him so it makes him look like the Hulk. Even though they had makeup on, no one really stopped to bother us that day. In New York, you have to be more than weird to get attention!"

Richards and Turner backstage at The Ritz.Photo: Bob Gruen

Keith Richards and Tina Turner

The Ritz, formerly at 119 E. 11th St. at Third Avenue (now Webster Hall), 1983

"This was the [show when] Tina came back to launch her career without Ike Turner. Keith was there, David Bowie too, and even John McEnroe. Everyone was very happy for her. You can see that in the photo. I think it was taken [backstage] about 2:30 a.m. They're holding a Jack Daniels bottle, but they're holding it as if it's a Grammy Award! Every Tina show I've ever seen has been mind-blowing."

Courtney Love

Love performing at The Bowery Ballroom.Photo: Bob Gruen

Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. at Bowery, 2004

"The night before this show, Courtney was put in jail. She had played [a concert] the night before, and something had fallen offstage and struck a girl in the crowd. The girl claimed Courtney had hit her, so they arrested Courtney and kept her up all night. But she arrived only a few minutes late for the [next] show and rocked the house. You can see Courtney using the crowd to support her — she walked on top of them to the the bar, got a drink, then walked back to the stage!"

Foxboro Hot Tubs

Foxboro Hot Tubs at Don Hill's.Photo: Bob Gruen

Don Hill's, formerly at 511 Greenwich St., at Spring Street, 2010

"This is the [garage-rock side project] of Green Day, who usually play rock stadiums but also like to play small venues. To see them this close up is always an exciting experience — instead of 60,000 people, it's 100, and it's 2 1/2 hours of full-tilt, nonstop rock 'n' roll. They have a song called 'It's F–k Time' and they must have played it six times that night. Every 20 minutes, Billie [Joe Armstrong, singer] would just go, 'What time is it? It's f–k time!' and do the same song again!"

The Ramones outside of CBGB's.Photo: Bob Gruen

The Ramones

CBGB, formerly at 315 Bowery, 1975

"We started out in Forest Hills and took the subway to CBGB, where the Ramones were playing a show. They played two sets — each was about 12 songs long, so that meant it was about 15 minutes total! They had attitude and it felt like they were out to conquer the world — which they did."

The Clash at the Top of the Rock.Photo: Bob Gruen

The Clash

Atop the GE Building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 1981

"The New York Post front page printed on [Joe Strummer's T-shirt] wasn't real. Some guys who worked with the band told me Joe had gone to one of those places where you can get your own headline printed. There was actually a 'clash' in Times Square when they played at Bonds in 1981 because the show was oversold."

Debbie Harry

Harry in front of The Thunderbolt in Coney Island.Photo: Bob Gruen

Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1977

"Punk magazine was [doing a photo shoot with Debbie Harry] that day. I wasn't shooting that, but I went along because the people involved were friends. Debbie was walking towards me, and it worked out perfect. You can't take a bad picture of Debbie, especially then. She was the Marilyn Monroe of her generation."


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