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Susan Estrich - No road from Hollywood to UC-Santa Barbara

Of all the things that have been said in the nonstop chatter since an obviously deranged young man killed six college students here in Southern California last weekend, by far the dumbest comes from Washington, D.C., where The Washington Post's film critic actually said that these mass murders were tied to white men in Hollywood promoting "escapist fantasies" that "revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment."

Wrote Ann Hornaday, who hopefully knows more about film than about crime, "As Rodger bemoaned his life of 'loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire' and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as 'the true alpha male,' he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood's DNA."

There's more: "For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny)."

And more: "How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like 'Neighbors' and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of 'sex and fun and pleasure'? How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, 'It's not fair'?"

So Apatow, a happily married man and the father of beautiful daughters, is responsible for a seriously ill young man's murdering six students because that young man — unlike Seth Rogen or a character in an Apatow movie — didn't get the girl?

This is nuts. Just nuts. How many of us didn't get the girl or guy we wanted, didn't get the job we wanted, had our hearts broken any number of ways? We don't kill. This is not what people do after watching escapist movies and getting dumped by real people. If it were, our college campuses would be wastelands.

Maybe Hornaday is auditioning for a job as a loudmouth screamer who wants to blame Hollywood for everything.

Maybe she's out to become the new Ann Coulter of culture: wrong, tasteless and offensive, but plenty of airtime. No doubt she'll succeed. If I had more readers, I'd probably be giving her a boost.
It would be funny (okay, entertaining, because that is what this discussion is really about: ratings and attention. Maybe Hornaday will get her own show if she's crazy enough.) if this were not a life-and-death problem.

Elliot Rodger was a dangerous and sick young man. He should not have been buying guns and living on his own. His parents knew he was troubled, but clearly they didn't know just how seriously ill he was — or they didn't know what to do about it. He had therapists who didn't know just how imminent a danger he posed. He was a college student, but they apparently didn't know or do anything. He had parents who thought they were doing enough and weren't. I have no doubt that they (not Seth or Judd) will blame themselves forever, Ms. Hornaday.

And now six kids — it could have been any of our kids — are dead.

Could we please focus on the killer and not the movies? Could we please try to figure out how to keep sick and dangerous kids who have easy access to guns from killing our children?

I'm happy to rant and rave till the cows come home about discrimination against women in almost every aspect of life — from Hollywood to the op-ed pages of even The Washington Post (which has improved somewhat, in gender terms, since I self-immolated trying to make it an issue). I'm glad to see women with a voice in the op-ed pages. I realize that women, as Hornaday clearly proved, can be every bit as uninformed and offensive as men, but equality doesn't always mean excellence.

But as a parent and a professor, I would like to believe that campuses are safe places. We need to help the parents of deeply disturbed kids get help for their children, we need to help campuses step up to mental health issues, and we need to deal with the sale of guns to young people who should not be allowed to buy them. That's a big list. Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen really don't belong on it.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Froma Harrop - Fight heroin with marijuana

A plague of heroin addiction is upon us. Another plague. Heroin was the crisis that prompted Richard Nixon to launch the war on drugs in 1971.

Time marched on. Cocaine and then crack cocaine and then methamphetamine overtook heroin as the drugs of the moment. Now heroin is back — and badder than ever.

The war on drugs also grinds expensively on, an estimated $1 trillion down the hole so far. Amid the triumphant announcements of massive drug seizures and arrests of the kingpins, heroin has never been more abundant or so easy to find, in urban and rural America alike.

Still, marijuana accounts for almost half of drug arrests, and most of those are for possession, not selling. This may sound counterintuitive, but as states ease up on the sale and use of pot, opportunity knocks for dealing with the heroin scourge.

"If I had to write a prescription for the heroin problem," retired Cincinnati police Capt. Howard Rahtz told me, "the first thing I'd do is legalize marijuana."

Rahtz has fought this battle on several front lines. After serving 18 years as a law officer, he ran a methadone clinic to treat addicts. A member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Rahtz won't go so far as the group's official position, which is to legalize all drugs.

"I would not make heroin available as a recreational drug," he said. "But I would make it available on a medical basis."

Rahtz sees treatment as the only promising way to truly confront the heroin epidemic. He recalls his days as a police captain going after the traffickers:

"We started getting record amounts of drugs, money and guns, and I'm writing memos to the chief. But then I'd ask the guys, 'Is anyone walking around Cincinnati unable to find drugs?'"

Because drug cartels garner 60 percent of their revenue from the marijuana trade, legalizing pot would smash up their business model.

"I have zero problem with recreational marijuana," Rahtz said.
He would like Colorado and other states now taxing marijuana to earmark the money for drug treatment and rehabilitation. It's crazy that only 10 percent of heroin addicts get into treatment, according to federal statistics.

Why the heroin epidemic now? Much of the surge in heroin use stems from the recent crackdown on prescribed painkillers. Those addicted to pain medication went looking for an easily available alternative and found heroin.

(One might question the value of making it hard for those hooked on prescription drugs to get them. At least then, a doctor would be on their case.)

Today's astounding heroin death tolls reflect the reality that heroin sold is now 10 times more pure than it was in the '70s. Adding to the tragedy, tolerance levels for heroin drop for those in treatment. The relapse rate in drug programs is high, and those who go back are killed by the strength of the drug on the street.

What should be obvious is the futility of dumping all this money into the war on drugs while putting those wanting treatment on waiting lists. Even if many of those treated end up going back into the dungeon of drug use, their weeks or months off the drug ate into the dealers' profits.

Bringing heroin addicts in for treatment deprives the cartels of their best high-volume customers. Legalizing pot puts them out of their most lucrative business. Using tax revenues from the legal sale of marijuana to pay for treatment completes the virtuous circle.

This virtuous circle can replace the vicious circle of the drug war. As odd as this sounds, we can fight heroin with marijuana.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Sanborn – The April Lakes Region Residential Sales Report

OK. Spring is here and I have to wonder what is going on with the real estate market. There were only 52 single family residential home sales in April at an average of $239,018. We had 62 sales in March and last April there were 77 sales at an average price of $299,681. We are definitely headed in the wrong direction as far as sales volume. There have been 224 sales so far this year compared to 248 for the first four months of 2013. That's not a huge difference as long as the trend doesn't continue. I don't think I will concede to blaming the shortfall on global warming, but I guess the extremely long, difficult winter could have something to do with it.

The good thing is that the average sales price is going up. For the first four months we averaged $297,698 compared to $242,367 in 2013. That most likely means that a greater number of higher priced homes are selling rather than any rise in overall home values.

Another good stat this month was that homes, on average, brought 99 percent of their asking price at the time of sale. But that's just one month. So far this year, sales prices have been averaging of 94 percent of the asking price (compared to 93 percent for the same period last year.) It should be noted that in both 2013 and 2014 the asking price at the time of sale averaged 5 percent lower than the original list price.

In some areas homes sold pretty quickly, too. The average time on market for the four sales in Alton was only 5 days last month! I decided to take a close look at what sold in Alton and see if I could get some insight to help me sell my listings quickly.

The least expensive sale was the home at 516 Alton Mtn Road which sold for the asking price of $65,000. It sold the same day it was put on the market. This property was actually a single wide manufactured home built in 1995 on a two acre lot. It has 1,000 square feet of space, 3 bedrooms, and two baths. The thing that really impressed me and opened my eyes to a new marketing strategy was that there are just two pictures on the MLS; the main picture was of the toilet and the other was of a very narrow hallway. I kid you not! It seems that this marketing approach is intended to make buyers so curious about the property that they are compelled to come see it and immediately purchase it. Yeah, I know, the agent likely had a buyer already in hand when she listed it, but would you use a toilet photo as the main picture regardless? The agent was from Rochester. Maybe they do things differently down there?

The next sale was at 58 Spring Street; this property was listed right at its assessed value of $85,900 and sold for $82,500 in just 1 day. No great surprise here, just a modest 1960's vintage, 1,000 square foot, five room, two bedroom cottage with lots of upside potential.

The third sale was a charming 1801 vintage cape style home on 5.8 acres at 407 Stockbridge Corner Road. This 1,973 square foot, three bedroom, two bath home has lots of character and some recent updates including a new septic system. It was listed for $175,000 and sold at full price after just 11 days on the market. It is assessed at $162,100. This was a pretty nice property for not a lot of money.

The last, and largest sale, was at 122 Smith Point Road in Alton which most people consider to be a suburb of Gilford. This 3,500 square foot, contemporary style, multi-level waterfront home has been very well maintained. It has three bedrooms, three baths, large kitchen, open concept living and dining area, plus a large deck with great views of the lake. It sits on a .47 acre nicely landscaped lot with bluestone patios, gardens, lawn, and 100 feet of water frontage. This property was listed at $979,000 and sold for $950,000 after 9 days on the market. It is assessed at $861,000. Nice house, good price, quick sale.

So last month in Alton we had a mobile home, a small cottage, an antique cape, and a nice waterfront all sell very quickly with two at full price and two very close to the asking price. It seems like the key here is to either price a property correctly or... just put one picture of the bathroom toilet on the MLS. Which way do you want to go?

Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 5/21/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Froma Harrop - Don't privatize the veterans' hosptials

President Obama can do himself a big political favor this month by saying simply this: "I will not privatize the VA hospitals."

That's the bottom line for the current right-wing crusade mixing patriotic posturing with loathing of government in general and Obama specifically. We speak of allegations that a Phoenix hospital (and perhaps others) run by the Department of Veterans Affairs hid deadly delays for treatment by using secret waiting lists.

The theme is government can't do anything right. And if you're Rush Limbaugh, it's also running death panels for veterans. "There's nobody that has any real-world, private-sector experience running anything to do with health care or medical treatment or medical care," El Rushbo declared from happy orbit.

Actual veterans could not disagree more.

"We're against privatizing the VA system," Joe Davis, national spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, told me in no uncertain terms. "To privatize the VA puts us on a waiting list with everyone else out in the United States."

You see, getting medical care can be rougher outside government-run programs than inside them, as contented veterans and Medicare beneficiaries repeatedly tell pollsters.

A 2004 RAND study determined that the VA system delivered higher-quality care than private hospitals on all measures except acute care. (They were even on acute care.) And the American Customer Satisfaction Index, run by the University of Michigan, found 85 percent of patients in VA hospitals satisfied with their care, versus 77 percent in private hospitals.

"The people who receive VA care by and large rave about it," the VFW's Davis said.

But that's no reason not to mess with it, right? In 2010, Ken Buck, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Colorado, said privatization would make the hospitals "better run." Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wanted to give veterans vouchers to shop for care in the private sector.

(Both later backed away from their proposals when veterans loudly objected.)
Now, the latest allegations — that the Phoenix VA Health Care System covered up long wait times by manipulating the waiting list — are serious. But they're still allegations. And so are reports that 40 or more veterans died as a result.

"The story has taken on its own truth," Davis said with exasperation in his voice.

Many in the media are taking the death toll number as gospel truth, but at least one probing reporter, Brian Skoloff of The Associated Press, probed into the sources of it. One was Dr. Samuel Foote, who, before retiring from the Phoenix hospital, was repeatedly reprimanded for taking Fridays off. Another employee raising the concerns had been fired last year and has a pending wrongful termination suit against the hospital.

"What we want is the (VA Office of Inspector General) report, and we know it won't come out until August," said Davis. "Do you want it good, or do you want it now?"

The hospital's administrators vehemently deny the allegations. Director Sharon Helman is now under police protection after receiving numerous death threats.

No surprise, given such hysterical and uncorroborated headlines as this one by CNN: "Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list."

Here's a sturdy spark to send the fringe right's manic hatred of government into high boil once again. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, summed up the situation nicely when he said: "What I don't want to see is this issue politicized by these same folks who don't like Social Security, they don't like Medicare, they don't like Medicaid, they don't like the Postal Service."

Too late, Bernie. Too late.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Roy Sanborn - A record-setting Winnispeaukee waterfront sale

There were seven Winnipesaukee waterfront sales in April at an average price of $2.05 million, compared to 10 last April at an average sales price of $805,588. The big news is that a record was set for the highest residential sale ever in New Hampshire and it was right here on Lake Winnipesaukee at 144 Springfield Point in Wolfeboro! Think about that for a moment, the most expensive properties in the state are right here on Winnipesaukee. That's pretty impressive, but so was this property!
This Arts and Crafts style home was built in 2006 and has won numerous architectural awards. The home encompasses 37 rooms equaling 17,300-square-feet of exquisitely done, but not over done, space to create a very livable lake front home.

The home features beautiful wood flooring, fine wood details including rich wood paneling, massive columns, and curved wood moldings on the ceiling that echo the curved tower staircase that leads up two more levels. The center of the home is the two story, open concept great room featuring a thirty foot stone fireplace, cathedral ceilings, beautiful moose motif light fixtures, multiple sitting areas, and a wall of glass facing the lake. The gourmet kitchen features every imaginable high end appliance known to man, a pantry, a dining service room, a breakfast bar as well as an informal dining area with views of the lake.

The sumptuous first floor master has a gas fireplace, hardwood floors, access to the outside deck, a luxurious bath, and a master laundry room. This is one of five luxury suites that make up a total of eight bedrooms, two of which are in a separate guest wing complete with its own kitchen, dining, and living room. There is also an eight bed bunk room up on the third floor with built in bunks, storage closets and drawers. Of course you have an office, four season room, indoor spa room, exercise room, a wine cellar, sauna, indoor and outdoor grilling areas, and not one but three elevators. It even has a dedicated X-box room (?) and a huge movie theater with tiered floors, plush seating that reclines electronically, a massive 110-inch theater screen, and a custom speaker system.

Down on the lower level is the World's Ultimate Mancave with a full bar plus dedicated areas for poker, darts, game tables, and of course a pool table. And if that isn't enough for the man of the house, there is a six bay heated garage and workshop area complete with an automobile lift, custom cabinetry, and heated floors. And, there's plenty of room for watercraft in the 3,800-square-foot three bay boat house. The home sits on a 7.1 acre exquisitely landscaped lot with 841-feet of frontage.

This home was listed at $9,999,998 and sold for $8,975,000 after 342 days on the market. My hat goes off to Jodi Hughes at Prudential Spencer Hughes in Wolfeboro who marketed and sold this tremendous property. The bar has been raised on the big lake!

There were no sales on Winnisquam last month, but Squam posted one at 59 Squam Lake Road in Holderness. This year round, circa 1923 lake cottage is the quintessential lakeside retreat. It has a grand living room with high ceilings, exposed beams, knotty pine walls, and a brick fireplace. Just off the living room is a classic enclosed front porch overlooking the lake. There are four bedrooms and four baths in the main home plus a two bedroom apartment for your chauffeur over the three car garage (we all have a chauffeur, right?) The house sits on a private 2.2 acre lot with 280 ft of frontage. This home was listed at $1.125 million and sold for $945,000 after 45 days on the market. It has an assessed value of $826,630.

Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 5/13/14. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

Hits: 1199

 
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