Improve Your Finances with Habits That Require the Least Change First

When you’re getting your financial life in order, it can seem like it’s necessary to make big sweeping changes. Move out of your house, throw out your food plan, and start finding giant coupon books. In reality, the new habit that requires the least amount of change are the ones most likely to stick.

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Star Wars

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Aleppo schoolchildren pulled from rubble of bombed school – video

Rescuers pull children from the rubble of a school in Aleppo, Syria, which was allegedly hit by a barrel bomb dropped by President Bashar al-Assad’s troops on Sunday. This footage, which was posted on social media, shows injured survivors, most of them children, being carried away from the collapsed building after an aerial bombing. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least seven civilians including four children were killed in the attack Continue reading…







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Scott Miller’s Starting 9: The Astros, Yankees, A-Rod & More…Do We Believe?

1. Best and Worst of the First-Month Surprises

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The Astros: Not since Mike Scott was scuffing baseballs in 1986 has Houston raced off to a better start. At 18-7 entering this week, the Astros are off to the best start in club history. Their 10-game winning streak is the Astros’ longest since winning 12 in a row Aug. 27-Sept. 8, 2004.

Jose Altuve is hitting so many pitches on the screws from foul line to foul line, he is reminiscent of a young Dustin Pedroia. The Astros lead the majors in home runs (40), steals (31) and strikeouts (231) and they are 11-0 when leading after six innings this year, 11-0 when leading after seven and 13-0 when leading after eight.

“The players are doing a good job of worrying about today,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch tells Bleacher Report. “It’s a good combination of some people who have been here and understand where the organization is coming from, and new players who are fresh.”

For Real? No…and yes. The season will catch up to the Astros eventually and they will cool off. There are too many strikeouts in this lineup to avoid streakiness over six months, and rotation depth remains an issue. But the rest of the AL West is shaping up worse than expected, and that will help keep the young Astros in contention this summer.

Alex Rodriguez: A designer walk-in closet full strikeouts to go with his Armani suits, but six homers, 14 RBI and a .362 on-base percentage through his first 23 games? So far, it’s like your local weatherman trying to explain that the storm that just moved through did far more damage than expected.

For Real? No. Still not buying that a guy turning 40 in late July will continue at this pace and stay upright and ambulatory all summer.

The Yankees: Their bullpen can leap tall buildings (David Ortiz, Adam Jones, Miguel Cabrera) in a single bound and stop speeding bullets with its teeth. With an AL-leading 10 saves through 25 games, Andrew Miller is on a pace unmatched by even the great Mariano Rivera in his career. Miller and Dellin Betances started the week ranked 1-2 in the AL in strikeouts among relievers and hadn’t allowed an earned run in 28 combined innings.

For Real? No. No matter how good manager Joe Girardi is, he’s going to have to overwork that great bullpen because his starters won’t give him enough innings. That will lead to diminishing returns. Masahiro Tanaka’s re-appearance on the disabled list is no surprise. Worst-case scenario for the Yanks is last weekend’s sweep of Boston will be the season highlight.

The White Sox: Rank this one under a surprisingly bad start. Nobody in the AL had a better winter than the White Sox, who acquired Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson and Adam LaRoche. Yet here they are, ranked last in the majors in runs scored, 25th in on-base percentage (.296) and 27th in slugging (.341). Then they got their Bermuda shorts blown off over the weekend in Minnesota (well, had they been wearing those ugly old 1976 Sox Bermuda shorts…).

For real? No. Expect better things from the White Sox. For one thing, they’ve endured a funky schedule–rained out in Kansas City on April 25, then having two games postponed in Baltimore because of the riots on April 27 and 28, causing them to play just one game in four days. Just out of spring training, timing is very fragile for everyone this early in the season, and the White Sox’s will get better.

Dee Gordon: Not that the Dodgers regret trading him, because Howie Kendrick has worked out well at second base and they own the third-best record in the majors. But look at Gordon, leading the NL with a .440 batting average and second to the Reds’ Billy Hamilton in steals (11) as the Marlins come out of their early season doldrums.   

For real? No. And that’s no knock: Nobody these days is Ted Williams. But while the batting average will fall, he will continue to be a speed demon on the bases and help the Marlins remain in playoff contention all summer.

The Indians: Like the White Sox, a surprise in a bad way. So many expected the Indians to contend in the AL Central this year. Instead, Brandon Moss’ arrival has not boosted the offense as expected (yet) and Cory Kluber has not pitched like a Cy Young winner (yet). And it’s been a sloppy start–witness the fourth inning of Sunday’s win over Toronto, when the Indians surrendered six runs and Jason Kipnis said afterward, “We’re not good enough to play that stupid.” They are not. They also are too good to play that stupid very often.

For real? This poor start is not, no. Cleveland is too good not to be a factor in the AL Central race this summer.

The Mets: Somewhere, Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Lenny Dykstra are smiling big. Terry Collins’ crew is 11-3 at home this year, but this is a key week as they’ve lost six of eight and three of four over the weekend to Washington in their first significant NL East test this year. Shortstop Wilmer Flores’ error in the Nats’ series opener last Thursday didn’t help. “They’ve needed a shortstop for two years now,” one NL scout says, utterly mystified. “How many of them are available? And they won’t go get one.”

For real? Yes. In Matt Harvey We Trust. Now go out and get a darn shortstop.

Jeurys Familia: Tied with the Yankees’ Andrew Miller and the Tigers’ Joakim Soria for the major-league lead with 10 saves entering this week, Familia had a save in each of his appearances this season until throwing one inning in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the Nationals. Before that, only Armando Benitez (2001) and John Franco (1999) had earned saves over 10 consecutive outings in a single season for the Mets.

For real? Yes. His two-seamer has terrific movement and his sinker dives hard, and at 25, this guy is just coming into his own. With Jenrry Mejia serving an 80-game suspension, Familia is a godsend.

 

2. New Brew Crew Skipper

Ron Roenicke paid for Milwaukee’s painful start with his job Sunday night, but as new manager Craig Counsell takes over, just as the Brewers are starting to play better, he inherits one of the same crippling problems that Roenicke could not overcome.

To wit: Ryan Braun is nowhere close to the franchise player the Brewers believed he was a few years ago, and we all know why. Cornered in the Biogenesis steroid scandal and having served his 65-game suspension two summers ago, Braun is nowhere near the same hitter now that he is testing clean.

This isn’t to dump all of the blame for Milwaukee’s issues in one location. The Brewers rank 13th in the NL in runs scored, 14th in on-base percentage, 13th in slugging percentage, 14th in overall ERA and 13th in starters’ ERA. The 2-13 and 5-18 starts were a complete team collapse.

Roenicke’s problem, in the end, included the last two months of last season as well: The Brewers lost 22 of their final 31 games last season in an epic collapse, missing the playoffs entirely after leading the NL Central for 150 days during the 2014 season.

At one time, Braun was the type of franchise player who could carry the offense on his back. But as the Brewers swooned last season, he was nursing a thumb injury that plagued him for most of the season’s second half. This year, though he has five homers, he’s hitting .229/.273/.410.

Counsell is a terrific baseball man and beloved in Milwaukee, where his father worked for the club (community relations) and Counsell grew up to play for the Brewers.

It will be a great story if he can turn the Brew Crew back into winners. But to do that, among other things, Braun must come back from the dead, and good luck with that.

 

3. Adam Wainwright’s Achilles and What It Means

One of the worst moments of the season came a week ago Sunday, when Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright ruptured his left Achilles tendon and was lost for the season. That injury will have two significant repercussions the rest of the way:

First, despite St. Louis admirably winning six of eight games since then, you have to figure the NL Central is much more wide open today than it was a month ago. Lance Lynn, John Lackey, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez can be a formidable front four, but you don’t need to be Red Schoendienst to understand how big of a hole Wainwright leaves in St. Louis’ rotation, and how this affects its depth. The gap between the Cards and the Cubs, Pirates, Reds and, heck, even the Brewers (Craig Counsell for manager of the year?) just closed.

Second, because of the above, the Cardinals likely are going to have to work the trade market and could become players in the Cole Hamels talks. It could be the impetus Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro needs to stoke the Hamels market and acquire the package he wants/needs.

The current Hamels players, and why they need the ace lefty:

Red Sox: Starters’ 5.66 ERA currently ranks 29th in the majors.

Blue Jays: Starters’ 5.70 ERA currently ranks 30th in the majors.

Dodgers: Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) may not be back until June, and Los Angeles lost Brandon McCarthy (Tommy John surgery) for the season last week.

Cubs: Not only are the young prospects coming along and positioning the Cubs to win now, acquiring Hamels would strengthen the Cubs’ rotation significantly at a time when the division-rival Cardinals’ rotation has been weakened.

 

4. Global Warming, the California Drought and the NL West

Remember when the division was known as the home of pitcher-friendly parks (well, this side of Coors Field)?

Take a look at the majors’ homer-friendliest parks so far this season (numbers entering this week, courtesy of hittrackeronline.com):

1. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles: 41 home runs (15 games)

2. Petco Park, San Diego: 38 (16)

3. Minute Maid Park, Houston: 37 (13)

4. Camden Yards, Baltimore: 33 (10)

5. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati: 32 (11)

Under no circumstances, ever, would you expect Dodger Stadium and Petco Park to rank 1-2. Reasons?

Well, the Padres’ lineup is significantly better. It has been cold in the East and Midwest, undoubtedly depressing power numbers. And it has been hot in the West.

“You tell me,” says Alonzo Powell, the Padres’ assistant hitting coach. “Maybe the barometric pressure is changing.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that perhaps global warming is to blame. Andre Ethier says the drought conditions in California have made things so dry that in the later part of games at Dodger Stadium, when dew is usually beginning to cover the grass and the dugout railings, it isn’t.

“It has been dry and warm,” Padres manager Bud Black agrees. “No clouds. I don’t know what effect the new scoreboard has (the Padres installed a giant new board in left field that could be blocking some wind currents). We moved the fence in left field in two feet.”

Whatever, it is a trend that bears watching.

 

5. This Week in Weird

If Huston Street is called upon to convert a save opportunity this weekend when the Angels host the Astros, he will work to do so for a second time against a manager in the opposing dugout who traded him last season.

The Astros’ A.J. Hinch was the interim general manager in San Diego last summer after Josh Byrnes was fired, and it was during that time that part of Hinch’s charge was to guide the Padres through the July 31 trade deadline.

Street, at the time, was one of San Diego’s biggest trade chips. And sure enough, Hinch finally pulled the trigger on July 18, shipping Street to the Angels in a six-player deal.

The Angels played in Houston last month and, sure enough, Street converted the save in a 6-3 Angels’ win on April 17.

“I told him, ‘Why don’t you take the series off?'” Hinch quips. “You live in Texas in the off-season. You have a lot of friends here.”

Street, chuckling, says Hinch also told him not to be afraid to walk a few batters during the series.

“A.J. is one of my good friends in the game, and he was a leading component in San Diego of me being treated so well,” Street says. “He treated me so fantastically well in the process.

“A.J. has always wanted to be on the field. He belongs on the field. He has a phenomenal baseball mind. I was excited as a friend to see it happen to him.”

Since the day Street notched that save against Hinch’s Astros, Houston has gone 14-1.

6. This Week in the DH Debate

Wainwright’s Achilles injury instantly provoked another national debate on why pitchers continue to hit in the NL and how soon the DH should be incorporated into the league.

Adding fodder was the Nationals’ Max Scherzer suffering a sprained thumb on a bunt attempt and having to miss a start.

Two prominent NL pitchers, however, quickly stepped up and said, “Whoa.”

“He knew the rules,” Giants ace Madison Bumgarner told the San Jose Mercury News. “Whatever much he signed for – what did he get, again? – he didn’t have a problem signing his name. He didn’t have a problem with hitting then. I’m sure he had his pick of anywhere he wanted to go.”

Then there was a fella named…Wainwright.

“I could have been carrying my daughter up the stairs and it happened,” Wainwright told reporters. “So you outlaw carrying your daughter up the stairs? Or outlaw covering first? Outlaw fielding a bunt? It was a fluke thing, and baseball needs to stay just the way it is.”

7. Sometimes a Little Baseball Chatter Works

Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen won the NL MVP award in 2013 but has been playing nothing like an MVP so far this year (.193/.291/.307). But you can expect that to change soon:

 

8. Weekly Power Rankings

1. Baltimore: The curfew has been lifted, the streets are calm and now can we please have a standing ovation when the Orioles return home next Monday to open a series against the Blue Jays? For the city, for the citizens and for the future.

2. Willie Mays: Say Hey, what a classy congratulatory statement from Mays when Alex Rodriguez tied him on the all-time homers list at 660. Not that A-Rod can carry Mays’ jock.

3. Astros: What a run. Only thing that could make it better would be if they were wearing those crazy orange-and-yellow rainbow unis from the 1970s.

4. Bryce Harper’s stirrups: So great that everybody else should begin imitating Harper’s throwback passion.

5. David Letterman: One of the greatest ever is in his final three weeks, and man, will we ever miss him. Who can ever forget the time Terry Forster, then a reliever with the Braves, stopped by, entering while eating sandwich?

9. Astros By the Numbers

Check this out:

 

9a. Rock ‘n’ Roll Lyric of the Week:

Tell me, what other baseball columnist makes dedications? Still thinking of Baltimore….

“Mother, Mother
“There’s too many of you crying
“Brother, brother, brother
“There’s far too many of you dying

“You know we’ve got to find a way
“To bring some lovin’ here today

“Father, Father
“We don’t need to escalate
“You see, war is not the answer
“For only love can conquer hate

“You know we’ve got to find a way
“To bring some lovin’ here today

“Picket lines and picket signs
“Don’t punish me with brutality
“Talk to me so you can see
“Oh, what’s going on?
“What’s going?
“Yeah, what’s going on?
“Ah, what’s going on?”

– Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On?

 

Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball.

Pacquiao Could Face Discipline For Not Disclosing Shoulder Injury

LAS VEGAS (CBSNewYork/AP) — Manny Pacquiao could face disciplinary action from Nevada boxing officials for failing to disclose a shoulder injury before his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Nevada Athletic Commission chairman Francisco Aguilar said Monday that the state attorney general’s office will look at why Pacquiao checked “no” a day before the fight on a commission questionnaire asking if he had a shoulder injury.

“We will gather all the facts and follow the circumstances,” Aguilar said. “At some point we will have some discussion. As a licensee of the commission you want to make sure fighters are giving you up-to-date information.”

Pacquiao could face a possible fine or suspension for not answering the question accurately on a form he filled out just before Friday’s weigh-in. He would go on to lose a unanimous decision to Mayweather in the richest fight ever.

Meanwhile, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache told ESPN.com that Pacquiao will undergo surgery later this week to repair a “significant tear” in his rotator cuff. ElAttrache examined Pacquiao on Monday at his Kerlan Jobe Orthopedics office in Los Angeles.

“Once you know he has a tear that’s not going to heal on its own, then the decision for an active person is you want to try to fix this before it gets bigger,” ElAttrache said. “If all goes as expected with the surgery and the rehab is successful, Manny could be back training in about six months. At that point, he will be regaining strength and endurance, and competition is reasonable within nine months to a year. But this is a severe enough tear that it won’t heal without being repaired.”

Pacquiao’s promoter put out a statement on behalf of the fighter late Monday afternoon saying that the injury was disclosed to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which approved the use of an anti-inflammatory shot for the fight. But USADA was only a third party to the fight, charged only with testing the fighters for banned substances in training and the night of the bout.

“We had no medical information, no MRIs, no documents,” said Travis Tygart, who heads the USADA. “It was not an anti-doping issue. The real question is why his camp checked ‘no’ on the disclosure. Either they made a terrible mistake to not follow the rules or they were trying not to give information to the other side. I’m not sure there’s a middle ground.”

Tygart said his agency, which was hired by promoters to oversee drug testing for the bout, was contacted April 7 asking about the use of various substances and whether they were allowed under anti-doping rules. He said there was another call 10 days later asking about using a different substance, again for what the USADA was told was an unspecified shoulder problem.

A little more than two hours before the fight, Pacquiao’s corner asked Nevada regulators if he could be given a shot of Toradol, an anti-inflammatory. Aguilar denied it, saying the commission had no previous indication there was an injury and could not allow a shot in fairness to the Mayweather camp.

“Our job is to protect the health and safety of fighters and the integrity of the sport,” Aguilar said. “We expect our fighters to be forthright.”

Pacquiao said after the fight that his shoulder had improved and he was hopeful of fighting with the shot. He said it didn’t bother him until the fourth round, when he hit Mayweather with a big left hand and went after him with a series of punches.

Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, said the shoulder was getting better by the day in training camp.

“We thought at one time we’d postpone the fight, but as the weeks went on it was getting better and I was happy with his performance,” Roach said. “I thought the progress was good enough.”

Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett said Pacquiao filled out the form himself and understood the questions. A copy of the form was posted earlier on the True.Ink website, signed by both Pacquiao and his manager, Michael Koncz.

“It’s not just the fact he didn’t fill out the question completely, it was that he wasn’t honest and they didn’t tell us a month ago when he had the shoulder injury,” Bennett said. “They’re not obligated to, but two hours before the fight they wanted a shot that’s a pain killer in essence. That put us in a very precarious position.”

In the statement released by Pacquiao’s camp, they said Pacquiao decided to proceed with the fight even without the shot.

“As Manny has said multiple times, he makes no excuses,” the statement read. “Manny gave it his best.”

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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Let’s go to … Portsmouth

It’s home to Ben Ainslie’s new sailing HQ and will host the America’s Cup in July but the city isn’t just about sailing, there are some great festivals on the horizon

Ben Ainslie’s new British racing HQ opens this month, a sail-like building at the Camber in Old Portsmouth. Visitors can watch the team training on the Solent, ahead of the America’s Cup there in July. May also marks the 250th anniversary of HMS Victory’s launch; it’s on view at the Historic Dockyard.

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Listen to Vince Staples’ New Track “Señorita” feat. Future

Those lucky enough to catch Vince Staples on tour of late would have witnessed the Long Beach rapper cooking up a frenzy for his new number alongside Future. Titled “Señorita,” Staples anchors the track with his unrelenting pace, paired with Future’s signature rapid-fire cadence. Backed by an ominous production, the studio quality version is surely of note for fans of Vince, while we can only hope to see the duo get on stage together sooner rather than later.

Listen to the track below and watch Vince Staples deliver a ferocious performance of “Señorita” at SXSW.

The post Listen to Vince Staples’ New Track “Señorita” feat. Future appeared first on Highsnobiety.

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Letting The Freedom Of Truth Uncover The Value Of Life

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