, Inc. (AMZN) Stock Surges on Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFM) Buyout   
InvestorPlace Stock Market News Stock Advice amp Trading Tips Amazon com Inc NASDAQ AMZN kept this summer Friday from being a boring one announcing it will acquire organics grocer Whole Foods Market Inc NASDAQ WFM for 13 7 billion in cash The
          Comment on On the Record with Michael Aron by KDinMorris   
Transportation FUND What BS. This state is insolvent. Decades of finger pointing,.... ' It's the other politicians that are irresponsible'. $32 + billion in tax & revenue and its not enough? We need more money we're melting.... Please get a articulate independent NJ citizen on this program, you know one of the majority.. in order to counter this nonsense.
          Ekspot Sarawak Diyakini Kukuh Tahun Hadapan   
Pengarah Wilayah MATRADE Sarawak, Leany Mokhtar ketika memberi penerangan mengenai rangkaian operasi MATRADE di peringkat global pada Program Outreach MATRADE & Agensi MITI 2016 di Bintulu
BINTULU: Eksport Sarawak diyakini terus berkembang kukuh sepanjang tahun depan walaupun berdepan pelbagai cabaran semasa susulan ketidaktentuan ekonomi global.

Malah, Perbadanan Pembangunan Perdagangan Luar Malaysia (MATRADE) menjangka negeri ini mampu mengekalkan kedudukannya sebagai pengeksport utama negara, dengan produk petroleum, khususnya gas asli cecair (LNG) kekal sebagai penyumbang utama.

Pengarah MATRADE Wilayah Sarawak, Leany Mokhtar, berkata keyakinan itu juga bersandarkan kepada peningkatan permintaan terhadap produk berkenaan dari kalangan negara pengimport, terutama Jepun, Korea, China, Taiwan dan India.

"Selain LNG, sektor pembuatan membabitkan produk perkayuan, elektrikal dan elektronik dikenalpasti antara penyumbang terbesar prestasi memberangsangkan eksport negeri ini, begitu juga minyak sawit.

"MATRADE mengambil pendirian optimis, malah yakin dengan keupayaan eksport negeri ini untuk terus berkembang tahun depan walaupun berdepan dengan pelbagai cabaran di peringkat global," katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian selepas menghadiri Program Outreach MATRADE & Agensi Di bawah Kementerian Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri (MITI) 2016, di sini semalam.

Keseluruhannya, 70 wakil syarikat pelbagai sektor, terutama  industri gas dan minyak menyertai program berkenaan yang juga sebahagian daripada inisiatif MITI ke arah usaha meningkatkan  penyertaan pengeksport dalam kalangan usahawan tempatan.

Leany ketika mengulas lanjut, berkata sepanjang Januari hingga Oktober 2016, Sarawak mencatatkan nilai eksport mencecah RM49.9 billion berbanding RM61 billion bagi tempoh sama tahun lalu.

"Berlaku sedikit penurunan dari segi nilai eksport antara tahun ini dan tahun lalu iaitu kira-kira 18..2 peratus. Ini disebabkan beberapa faktor yang tidak dapat dielakkan, khususnya peningkatan kos bahan mentah dan ketidaktentuan kadar tukaran wang disebabkan situasi ekonomi semasa.

"Namun, kita bersikap positif terhadap perkara itu, malah sedang merangka pelbagai pendekatan strategik dalam mendepani cabaran berkenaan," katanya.

Katanya, antara pendekatan dilaksanakan termasuk memperkukuhkan kerjasama dengan Kerajaan Sarawak melalui penganjuran misi eksport ke luar negara, khusus bagi meneroka pasaran baharu.

Pada masa yang sama, MATRADE turut merangka inisiatif meningkatkan penyertaan syarikat tempatan dalam pasaran eksport melalui penyediaan kemudahan berkaitan melalui rangkaian pejabatnya di seluruh dunia. -UnReportedNews™®

          LordAbnevWorks from Twitter Massive Following Reviewing Obesity Statistics   
The most recent research statistics on growing obesity disclose a dangerously overweight world population. During the last 10 years, there was a dramatic increase in obesity in the world, especially in the United States, England, and Canada. Over the years, the occurrence of obesity has also steadily increased among all genders, ages, all education levels, and ethnic groups.

Obesity is a severe health condition where a person accumulates an abnormally high proportion of body fat. This condition can increase risk of diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, hypertension, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. The body mass index (BMI) is the common method used to determine obesity and is based on the relation between height and weight.

Obesity statistics indicate that it is the biggest health threat that confronts America today. This warning comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity currently results in an estimated 400,000 deaths annually. It also costs the nation a crippling $122.9 billion.

This disease significantly reduces the quality of life among adults in our nation. This disease creeps right into the fabric of our lifestyle and can cause us to become a nation of social misfits. Other serious health diseases like hypertension and diabetes can result sooner or later when obesity is present.

People who become obesity statistics are usually affected in all areas of their life. But we can come to grips with this problem. We must begin to embrace the belief that we can do it. With consistent application, things will slowly begin to turn around for us.

In the year 2001 in the United States, the Surgeon General released a report outlining the crisis of obesity that the country had fallen into. The point of the report was to generate steps towards taking care of this health problem, which has reached epidemic proportions. The following year, the IOM (Institute of Medicine) was called upon to draw up a prevention plan to help decrease the rising numbers of obese and overweight children in the United States. The idea was to study the behavior and cultural and environmental factors that contribute to childhood obesity while trying to find ways of preventing this from occurring on such a large scale.

The problem of children being obese is a grave one, in that it can have lasting effects on one"??s emotional and physical health. In the year 2000, it was estimated that about a third of all children born in the United States are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes.

In addition, there are the emotional and psychological repercussions that come with being overweight and obese. Young people are often stigmatized for their weight in a society that has little tolerance for this condition.

The key to combating obesity seems to lie in energy balance "?" that is controlling the amount of calories that are consumed versus the amount of calories that are expended. So in other words, when we talk about fighting obesity, we have to talk about both eating and physical activity. This might seem pretty simple, but the fact is eating and physical activity are caught up in a number of complex social and environmental forces. In the last three decades that have seen the epidemic of obesity balloon out of proportion, the society has undergone major changes.

Read About Weight Loss Diet Also Read About Obesity Statistics and Diet Nutrition

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          Blue Apron Cuts IPO Price Range    
Blue Apron Holdings Inc. has cut the expected price range for its initial public offering amid worries about the potential impact on the food retail sector of Inc.'s recent deal to buy grocery chain Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.7 billion.
          Bank of America shares rise in after-hours trade after passing Fed test   

Bank of America shares climbed more than 1.3% in after-hours trading on Wednesday, following the Charlotte, N.C. lender's passing of a broad test of the banking systems' ability to withstand a big market shock. The bank's passage on Wednesday garnered it approval from the the Federal Reserve to lift its dividend 60% to 12 cents and announce a $12 billion share repurchase plan. All 34 of the financial-service firms tested passed their so-called stress test and received green lights for plans to return capital to shareholders. The exchange-traded Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF , a popular way to invest in the biggest U.S. banks, rose 1.1% in after-hours trade. Check out a live blog of the results from the stress test.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit for more information on this news.

          Father's Day - History of Neckties   
Neckties have always been one of the most popular gifts during Father's Day. Believe the statistics or not, Americans are actually known to spend more than a billion dollars every year to buy 100 million ties.
          Daydreaming About Dean   

MIAMI—Can we change horses in midstream? Democrats wanted Republicans and independent voters to be asking themselves that question at this stage in the presidential campaign, but with little more than a month to go before Election Day, some Democrats are asking it of themselves. It's the seven-month itch: The long general-election campaign has led the voters who settled down with Mr. Stability to wonder what would have happened if they had pursued their crushes on riskier but more exciting candidates. What if dreamy John Edwards were the nominee instead of John Kerry? Would he be better able to explain his votes for war and against the $87 billion to fund the war? Would his campaign have been leaner and more effective than Kerry's multitudes? Or what about Democrats' first love, Howard Dean? Remember him? Would his straightforward opposition to the war in Iraq look more prescient now than it did during the Iowa caucuses, which were held shortly after Saddam Hussein was captured?

The most surprising Democrat to engage in this daydreaming is one who never dated Dean in the first place: Peter Beinart, editor of the New Republic. Writing in Time, Beinart says, "[T]here's reason to believe [Democratic primary voters] guessed wrong—that Dean would be doing better against Bush than Kerry is." Deaniacs can be forgiven for being a little bit piqued at the timing of Beinart's conversion. After all, most Dean supporters thought Beinart's magazine did its best to torpedo the Dean candidacy for much of 2003, including an online "Diary of a Dean-o-Phobe." But TNR also ran glowing profiles of Dean and his campaign manager, Joe Trippi, and it never married Kerry, either. Although the magazine ultimately endorsed Joe Lieberman, its endorsement issue contained an article praising every other major Democratic contender—Dean, Edwards, Dick Gephardt—except John Kerry. So, it's understandable why Beinart would be one of the first to fantasize about divorce.

Beinart argues that Dean's clarity on the war, his straight-talking authenticity, and his lack of a Senate voting record would have forced President Bush to focus on the issue of Iraq, rather than the character of John Kerry. Not everyone who worked for Howard Dean during the primaries agrees that the Vermont governor would have been a stronger nominee—in fact, some say just the opposite or even burst into laughter at the notion—but one senior Dean adviser that I talked to Wednesday agrees strongly. "If Howard Dean were the nominee right now, nobody would be wondering where he stands on Iraq, nobody would be accusing us of not fighting back, and we wouldn't be fighting to hold on to our base," said the adviser, who asked that his name not be used. Kerry's "thoughtful and nuanced positions" might be an admirable quality in a president, but they're difficult to defend during a campaign.

A Dean general-election campaign would have contrasted Dean's record with Bush's in three ways: Dean being against the war versus Bush being for it; Dean's record of balancing the Vermont budget while providing health care versus Bush's largest deficits in history with no health care; and a new wrinkle that was only hinted at during the primaries, Dean's mysterious, infrequently mentioned "tax reform" vs. Bush's irresponsible tax cuts. Yes, Dean would have repealed the entire Bush tax cut, the senior adviser said, but he would have proposed replacing it with some Dean tax cuts, including the elimination of payroll taxes on the first $20,000 of income. The message: Bush cuts taxes from the top down, but Dean cuts them from the bottom up. Why didn't Dean introduce this during the primaries, when his tax-hiking ways made some Democrats think he would be an electoral disaster, the second coming of Walter Mondale, in the fall? He wanted to wait until after the Feb. 3 primaries because "he didn't want people to think he was pandering," the adviser said.

The Dean adviser did go out of his way to insist that he was not criticizing the Kerry campaign. The Republicans "might have destroyed Howard Dean," too, he said, but "I just think Howard would have matched up differently and better." The Dean adviser praised Kerry's maligned convention, which made voters believe that Kerry was a viable commander in chief who was as good as Bush or better on the issues of terrorism and homeland security. "They were in perfect position after the convention to win this thing," he said, quickly adding that he's not saying they've lost it. But then he added, "They basically are hoping that Bush shits the bed in the debates."

Of course, it's pretty obvious that the Republicans would have run a different campaign against Howard Dean than they did against John Kerry. But that doesn't mean it would have been any less effective. And if Dean couldn't beat Kerry, what exactly would have made him so formidable against President Bush? Would Dean's support for civil unions in Vermont have made gay marriage a much bigger issue in the fall? Was there something in his past that we didn't learn about? Would the aggressive campaign he would have waged in the spring and summer—leaping instantly on every bit of bad news from Iraq, from Abu Ghraib to Fallujah—have backfired? Would Dean have been able to build a campaign that brought together his divided Vermont and D.C. factions? It's impossible to know, though divining that impossibility is exactly what Democratic primary voters charged themselves with this time around.

Falling in love with Dean all over again ignores what made Democrats fall out of love with him in the first place. An incomplete list: his infuriating stubbornness and refusal to admit mistakes; his lousy white-background TV ad in Iowa; and his shift from a straight-talking, budget-balancing, health-care-providing Vermont governor to the shrieking leader of a cult movement. In Iowa, Dean's poor showing was exacerbated by the fact that he was the second choice of no one. He and Kerry found out that in American democracy, it's better to have a large number of people barely tolerate you than to have a smaller number like you a lot. By the weekend, it will be clear whether Kerry managed to rally a nose-holding majority to his side at Thursday's debate. If not, expect to hear a lot more conversations like this over the next 33 days.

          Kerry in Black and White   

CINCINNATI—John Kerry is so concerned about the plight of American manufacturers that he's taken to doing short advertisements during his campaign events. "Go to a Web site," Kerry exhorted his audience Tuesday in Greensboro, N.C. "It could be, or go some other place. Go to, if there is one. And find out what's really happening." So I went to, and I found out what was happening: "Truth Hardware designs and manufactures a complete line of hinges, locks, operators, and even remote controlled power window systems used on wood, vinyl, metal and fiberglass windows, skylights, and patio doors."

I'm hesitant to criticize Kerry for his extemporizing, because his Kerrymeandering (a word invented by my colleague Will Saletan) makes the repetition of campaigning more endurable. More important, overdisciplined Robopols who never say anything interesting are one of the many reasons to hate politics. And this Kerrymeander was merely amusing, not harmful, though a good rule of 21st-century campaigning should be, don't refer to Web sites that you haven't visited. Kerry even had the good fortune to refer to the Web site of a company that manufactures its products in Owatonna, Minn.—a swing state!

But Monday's impromptu comments were more damaging. In addition to making a joke in West Virginia about taking a shotgun with him to the presidential debates, Kerry decided it would be a good idea in Pennsylvania to talk about how he has difficulty deciding what to eat at restaurants. "You know when they give you the menu, I'm always struggling, what do you want?" he said. A cook at a local restaurant, though, solves Kerry's dilemma by serving "whatever he's cooked up that day. I think that's the way it ought to work for confused people like me who can't make up our minds what we're going to eat." Kerry has yet to mourn the fact that fewer and fewer gynecologists are able to "practice their love" with American women, but his handlers have so much confidence in him that on Tuesday they banned the national press pool from observing his satellite interviews with local TV stations.

Still, even Kerry wasn't as off-message as one of the local politicians who introduced him at the Greensboro town hall. Sure, Republicans say Kerry is a flip-flopper, the politician said, but so-called "flip-flopping" is a sign of skepticism, of being open to learning new things. "We call it thinking," he said to huge applause from the crowd. The guy must not have gotten the memo: Kerry no longer wants to be the thoughtful candidate of nuance. Like President Bush, he's discovered the virtues of moral clarity.

Bush describes the world in terms of black and white, good vs. evil. Kerry now describes the world in terms of right vs. wrong. "As the president likes to say, there's nothing complicated about this," Kerry says every time he begins his new "W. stands for wrong" speech. Kerry no longer brags about being complicated, as he did in his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention. He's now as simple as Bush. As Kerry said in Greensboro, "John Edwards and I believe, deep to the core of our being, that there's an easy distinction between what's right and what's wrong."

You won't be shocked to learn which side of the line Kerry thinks Bush falls on. Bush on the war: wrong. Bush on government spending: wrong. Bush on Medicare: wrong. Bush on Social Security: wrong. Bush on outsourcing: wrong. Bush on the environment: wrong. (Kerry also referred to mankind's "spiritual, God-given responsibilities" to be stewards of the Earth.) And in Greensboro, Kerry added a new element to his "That's W., wrong choice, wrong direction," refrain. Each time, he concluded with, "And we want to make it right." Kerry did get a little overzealous about his new theme when he referred to the treasury secretary as "John W. Snow—John Snow, excuse me." After some laughter from the audience, Kerry added, "Well, he's wrong, too."

Kerry has also begun to criticize Bush for breaking promises, for not being as unwavering as he pretends to be. In West Virginia on Monday, Kerry said Bush promised in 2000 to spend more money on clean coal technology, but the money never came. In North Carolina on Tuesday, Kerry mentioned the administration's overconfident estimates of war on the cheap: "He promised that this war would cost $1 billion, and that oil from Iraq would pay for it."

The audience liked the new black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us Kerry. He was doing so well that during the question-and-answer session he felt liberated to engage in some more improvisation. A woman stood up and announced, "I'm so excited to see you. I think you're hot." Referring to his 27-year-old daughter, Vanessa, who was in the audience, Kerry said, "My daughter just buried her head. That is not the way she thinks about her father. But at my age, that sounds good." While he was talking, Vanessa Kerry looked down and stuck her fingers in her ears.

          Kerry's Deathbed Conversion   

CLEVELAND—Everything you need to know about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential run—and therefore, everything a Democrat needs to know about taking the White House from an incumbent—is supposed to have been scrawled on a wipeboard in Little Rock 12 years ago by James Carville. "It's the economy, stupid," the phrase that has become holy writ, was only one-third of Carville's message. The other two tenets of the Clinton war room were "Change vs. more of the same" and "Don't forget health care." John Kerry has been running on two of those three planks, the economy and health care. But one day after talking with President Clinton on his deathbed—Kerry's, not Clinton's—the candidate has finally embraced the third: change.

Kerry offered a taste of his new message Monday morning at one of his "front porch" campaign stops in Canonsburg, Penn., but he waited until the afternoon in Racine, W.V., to unveil his new stump speech in full. The new message: Go vote for Bush if you want four more years of falling wages, of Social Security surpluses being transferred to wealthy Americans in the form of tax cuts, of underfunded schools and lost jobs. But if you want a new direction, he said, vote for Kerry and Edwards.

It's a simple and obvious message, but Kerry hasn't used it before. There were other new, even more Clintonesque wrinkles, too. Kerry talked about the same issues—jobs, health care, Social Security, education—that he's talked about in the past, but he had a new context for them: how Bush's policies were taking money out of taxpayers' pockets. The deficit, the Medicare prescription drug plan that forbids bulk-price negotiation and the importation of drugs from Canada, and the "$200 billion and counting" Iraq war all "cost you money," Kerry said, by increasing the cost of government. Kerry even pushed his health-care plan as a selfish device to put more money in voters' wallets (rather than an altruistic plan to cover the uninsured), in the form of lower health-insurance premiums ($1,000, he says). He also talked about a Clinton favorite, putting 100,000 new cops on the street during the 1990s, and he said he wanted to cut taxes for corporations by 5 percent to lower the cost of doing business in the United States. Talking about corporate tax cuts on Labor Day—if that's not a New Democrat, I don't know what is.

In West Virginia and later Cleveland, Kerry framed most of the new message around a mantra: "W stands for wrong. Wrong choices, wrong judgment, wrong priorities, wrong direction for our country." If you like those wrong choices, the lost jobs, "raiding Social Security," rising health-care costs, and "a go-it-alone foreign policy that abandons America," then vote for George W. Bush, Kerry said. If not, vote for me. The cost of the Iraq war is coming out of your pocket, he said, and it's taking away from money that could be used for homeland security. "That's W.; that's wrong," he said. With each issue Kerry raised—from Iraq to rising Medicare premiums to Social Security to jobs—he concluded his criticism of the president's policy by repeating, "That's W.; that's wrong."

It's not a perfect speech, nor is it delivered all that well. Kerry will never win an oratory contest with Bush, and he is fond of bizarre extemporizing. For example, he said, after being given a shotgun by a union leader to emphasize his support for hunting, "I'm thankful for the gift, but I can't take it to the debate with me." Still, even with Kerry's shaggy delivery, the speech—and more important, the message, if he sticks with it—should be good enough to get his campaign out of its latest sinkhole.

Sometimes, Kerry even improvises well. During the event in Canonsburg, Kerry was heckled by a small but noisy group of Bush supporters. But he managed to pull something out of Clinton's bag of tricks. When Kerry began talking about how the average family's tax burden has risen during the past four years, a man shouted, "Yeah, you're average, Kerry!" In response, Kerry adopted the tactic that Clinton used at the Democratic Convention in Boston: He embraced his affluence. "Just to answer that guy, 'cause he's right," Kerry said. "I'm privileged," just like President Bush. As a result, "My tax burden went down," Kerry said. "And I don't think that's right. I think your tax burden ought to go down."

Before today, Kerry's public image was starting to resemble that of a different Democratic candidate of recent vintage: the Republican caricature of Al Gore, a self-promoting braggart with a weakness for resume-inflating exaggerations. When Kerry was so angered by a Washington Post headline last week that he decided to speak directly after Bush's acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, he appeared to be imitating Gore's unfortunate tendency to let his campaign strategy be driven by the whims of the political media. Some Democrats feared that, by shaking up his campaign over the weekend and bringing in John Sasso and Michael Whouley, Kerry was overreacting in Gore-like fashion to some bad August press. On Monday, anyway, those fears seem overstated. The revamped Kerry campaign looks more like the Democrat who beat a president named Bush than the Democrat who lost to one.

          The Right Rev. George W. Bush   

COLUMBUS, Ohio—"I feel like a talk-show host," President Bush says midway through Thursday's first campaign event. He's standing next to a stool and a lectern, and he paces in circles to address the audience seated on all sides around him. Even from a distance, I can see why Bush charmed the press corps during his 2000 campaign. He's likable, winning, and self-deprecating. He's also quick on his feet, not with an instant recall of statistics but with snappy retorts that break up the room. This event was billed as an "Ask President Bush" forum, and although there didn't turn out to be much time for questions, from the outset the intimate setting made it more interactive than a typical presidential visit.

The president didn't get it quite right when he called himself a talk-show host. He opens more in the vein of a revival-tent preacher, albeit a subdued one, and he concludes as a standup comic. "I think you have to ask for the vote," Bush says near the beginning, as he always does. "You got it!" yells someone, the first of many call-and-response moments. Then Bush segues into something that sounds more like a sermon than a stump speech.

"All of you are soldiers in the army of compassion," the clergyman-in-chief tells the crowd. "And one of the reasons I'm seeking the office for four more years is to call upon our citizens to love your neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself." After his usual endorsement of the Golden Rule, Bush speaks of souls, which also isn't unusual for him: "We can change America one soul at a time by encouraging people to spread something government cannot spread, which is love."

Bush goes on to talk about his desire to have the government fund more faith-based initiatives. "If you're an addict, if you're hooked on drugs or alcohol, sometimes government counseling can work. But sometimes it requires a change of heart in order to change habit," he says. "There are people who are empowered to change hearts in our society. Not by government, by a higher calling, and therefore government ought to welcome these words of compassion and healing."

Bush isn't a fire-and-brimstone preacher, talking about sinners in the hands of an angry God. He's a hippie priest, emphasizing the Christian message of brotherly love. I can almost hear the guitars and tambourines. He says, "I know we can change America for the better by calling on those who are change agents, those who are willing to put our arm around someone who needs love and say, 'I love you, brother. I love you, sister. What can I do to help you have a better life here in America?'"

From there, Bush becomes a teacher, imparting "the lessons of September the 11th, 2001." "We'll never forget!" a man seated among the firefighters calls out. Bush's Lesson 1: "We're facing an enemy which has no heart, no compassion. And that puts them at an advantage in a way, because we're a country of heart and compassion." Lesson 2: "In order to defend the homeland, we got to be on the offense. We must deal with those people overseas, so we don't have to face them here at home." Lesson 3: "In order to be able to defend ourselves, we've got to say to people who are willing to harbor a terrorist or feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorists." Lesson 4: "When we see threats, we must deal with them before they fully materialize." Lesson 5 is a corollary of Lesson 4: "We saw a threat in Iraq."

Even while Bush is in his teaching mode, the whole event has a Sunday-morning air. Bush says of Saddam, "He had used weapons of mass destruction. Remember that? He had used them on his own people." The crowd murmurs back, "That's right, that's right." When Bush mentions that John Kerry and John Edwards were two of only 12 senators—whom Wednesday he called "a small, out-of-the-mainstream minority"—to vote against the $87 billion for the war in Iraq, someone else yells out, "Shame on them!"

Bush almost gets weepy later, when he tells a story "that touched my heart," about seven Iraqi men who visited him in the Oval Office. The men's right hands were chopped off by order of Saddam Hussein, and they had X's burned into their foreheads. An American organization provided them with prostheses. "A guy took my Sharpie, wrapped his new fingers and wrote, 'God bless America,' in Arabic," Bush says, his voice choking up. "What a contrast," he says. In America, "We want to heal you, no matter who you are," his voice catching again.

So, are we going to abandon Iraq? Bush asks the crowd. "Are we going to be a country of our word?" he asks. "Or are we going to go timid and weary and afraid of the barbaric behavior of a few?" The crowd shouts back: "No!"

As the event winds down, Bush gets looser and funnier. He points to a member of the crowd, one of the hand-picked Ohioans intended to represent a particular Bush policy, and says that she can explain it better than he can. Then he turns to another audience member and says, "You didn't have to agree with her." When another of the Representative Americans tells Bush that she recently received her associate's degree, magna cum laude, Bush replies, "That's better than I did, I want you to know."

Bush says a CEO in the audience has an interesting idea to share. The man doesn't say anything. "Flex time," Bush says. "I'm glad you told me what my interesting idea was," the CEO says appreciatively. Bush replies, "I'm not a lawyer, but it looks like I'm leading the witness." "I appreciate that," the CEO says, and Bush shoots back, "You appreciate the fact that I'm not a lawyer?"

After last week's Democratic convention, I felt that John Kerry had become the favorite in the presidential race. Now, after only two days with President Bush, I'm not so sure. He's that good. Unlike many people, I'm not threatened by the president's religious rhetoric. It must be the Midwestern Catholic in me. Like the people in the audience, I find it familiar and comforting. I can see why so many people believe the president is "one of us," no matter how rich or how elite his background. And I can see that Kerry will have a tough time besting Bush in all three debates.

Still, not everything goes perfectly. When Bush gets ready to leave, he announces, "I'm off to Saginaw, Michigan," forgetting what must be a central tenet of Buckeye State politics: Never mention the state that is Ohio State's biggest rival, especially in Columbus, home to the university. For the first time all day, two men near me boo.

          That '70s Campaign   

NASHVILLE—The Democratic Party's estimates of its chances of defeating President Bush in November have rebounded in concert with John Kerry's campaign. A little more than a month ago, most Democrats were overly pessimistic about the 2004 election. Now they're overly optimistic. Sunday afternoon, during a press conference prior to a Democratic Party rally at the downtown Hilton here, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., declared not only that "Bush 43 looks very beatable at this point," but also that 2004 could be a congressional "tidal wave year" for the Democrats, akin to 1994 for the Republicans.

And if 2004 isn't a Democratic 1994, maybe it's 1976. That was former Vice President Al Gore's message to the Tennessee Democrats Sunday night. In an angry, sweaty shout, sounding like the second coming of Huey Long, Gore drew an extended comparison between the post-Watergate election of 1976, the year of his first election to Congress, and the post-Iraq election of 2004. John Kerry's two main rivals in Tennessee, Wesley Clark and John Edwards, spoke to the party, too, but Gore was clearly the main event. And if he wasn't before he spoke, he was by the time he was finished.

"You know, there was a mood in '76, a spirit of unity, a feeling of determination that we were going to win that race that year," said Gore, clearly linking that feeling to the resolve of 2004 Democrats to win back the presidency. Gore, however, wasn't referring only to the feelings of national Democrats in 1976. He was referring to the feelings of Tennessee Democrats, who were bitter over a Senate race that had been lost six years earlier.

Gore's father, Albert Gore Sr., was defeated in his 1970 campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Gore made a number of comparisons between 1970 and 1976 in Tennessee and 2000, 2002, and 2004 in America. "President George W. Bush reminds me more of former President Richard Nixon than any of his other predecessors," he said, implying, it seemed, that Nixon smeared his father in the midterm elections of 1970 just as President Bush smeared Georgia Senator Max Cleland in 2002. "They tried to make out like my dad was an atheist because he didn't want a constitutional amendment putting the government in charge of telling children how they ought to worship God in the public schools," Gore said. "They came out with accusations that he was unpatriotic because he was opposed to the Vietnam War and the mistaken policy that got us into that war." Gore recalled his father's concession speech on Election Night: "He took the old Confederate slogan about 'The South shall rise again,' and he stood it on its head. And he proudly proclaimed, 'The truth shall rise again!'"

Gore was also drawing an analogy between his father and himself. He was expressing the hope that just as his father's loss was redeemed by the election of a Democrat, Jim Sasser, to his U.S. Senate seat six years later, so too could Gore be redeemed after his loss to George W. Bush, if the Democrats reclaim the White House in 2004. As Gore stood on stage before his remarks, I wondered, what must it be like to be Samuel Tilden? What's it like to be haunted by the fact that you're a historical footnote? Gore's speech provided some answers.

"We have seen an administration which in my view more closely resembles the Nixon-Agnew administration than any other previous administration," he said. "There's a reason I say that. I don't offer that as simply a casual slur." The crowd laughed. "I'm not above a casual slur," Gore added, in a "mind you" tone, to more laughter. "But I'm biased, I didn't vote for the guy." A man calls out, "Neither did America!" To which Gore responds, "Well, there is that."

He continued: "But here's the reason I say that President George W. Bush reminds me more of former President Richard Nixon than any of his other predecessors. Nixon was no more committed to principle than the man in the moon. He, as a conservative Republican, imposed wage and price controls. Hard to believe in this day and time. But he did. And he cared as little about what it meant to be really conservative as George W. Bush has cared in imposing $550 billion budget deficits and trillions in additions to the national debt. That has nothing to do with conservatism and everything to do with his effort to get re-elected!"

Gore then explained how he planned to travel to Iowa in September 2001 to deliver "a real ripsnorter of a speech" that would have harshly critiqued President Bush's first nine months in office and broken Gore's political silence. He abandoned his plan after the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, and instead swallowed his pride and told the Iowa Democrats of the man he clearly feels stole the presidency from him, "George W. Bush is my commander-in-chief."

"I think there were millions just like me, who genuinely, in spite of whatever partisanship they may have felt prior to that time, genuinely felt like they wanted George W. Bush to lead all of us in America wisely and well," he shouted.

"And the reason I'm recalling those feelings now is because those are the feelings that were betrayed by this president! He betrayed this country! He played on our fears! He took America, he took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure that was preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place!" Gore closed with his father's line from 1970: "And so I say to you in closing my friends, in the year of 2004, the truth shall rise again!"

The crowded erupted in a frenzy that recalled a Howard Dean audience circa August 2003. Which, if you think about it, is pretty much where Gore still is. Many Democrats took the 2000 election personally, and they saw the Dean campaign as the outlet for their anger and frustration. But no Democrat could have taken it more personally than Al Gore. To those who speculate that Gore's endorsement of Dean was a crude and ill-timed political calculation, this speech was a repudiation.

Not only does he believe that he should rightfully be president, he also thinks he performed his patriotic duty in the aftermath of 9/11, and Bush screwed him for it. To Gore, it seems that beating Bush wouldn't suffice. He wants to convince the world that Bush is one of history's worst presidents.

Gore is still popular with the Democratic base, but after this speech, the question for the party's nominee has to be, do you want this man to speak at the convention in Boston? Even if you like the sentiment behind this speech, if Gore delivers an address like this one in July, the historical analogy won't be to the Democrats of 1976 or to the Republicans of 1994. Instead, the comparison will be to the disastrous Republican convention of 1992. The angry white male is back. Do the Democrats really want him?

          Mystery Candidate   

MASON CITY, IOWA—Whatever John Kerry is doing right in this campaign, he isn't doing it on the stump. At least, that's my impression after watching him last night. Granted, it was the end of a long day for the senator, who spent much of it flying around Iowa by helicopter, and Kerry is a notoriously erratic speaker. The speech I watched him give had the quality of a rambling answering-machine message—Where is he going? What is he talking about? Will it ever end? But Kerry is the candidate that I've seen the least of in person, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I've just never seen him on a good day. If his momentum in the polls is for real, he must be doing something right.

There's a nugget of a theme in the middle of the speech, where Kerry uses President Bush's aircraft-carrier "Mission Accomplished" banner (derision of which is a surefire applause-getter in Iowa and New Hampshire alike) as a device to critique President Bush's domestic policy. "What mission?" Kerry asks. What about the mission to provide jobs for the unemployed, or to alleviate the high cost of prescription drugs, or to help family farmers, or to decrease the number of uninsured, or to clean up the environment? On those counts, "It's not even mission attempted," Kerry hollers. "It's mission deserted! Mission abandoned! Mission not even tried!" (Kerry returns to this theme at the conclusion, when he says Democrats will hang their own "Mission Accomplished" banner when they send President Bush back to Texas.)

In his first 100 days as president, Kerry says, he would issue an executive order that prohibits government officials from working as lobbyists for five years after they leave public life. He vows that every meeting between an official and a lobbyist in his administration would be public record. He makes an eloquent case for providing health care for the uninsured, saying, "Health care is not a privilege for the powerful and the wealthy. It is a right for all Americans." And he gets the automatic cheers any Democratic candidate gets when he refers to John Ashcroft by promising to "appoint an attorney general who is outside politics" and who will "not pursue a political and a religious agenda."

The audience doesn't seem wowed by Kerry, and he isn't bum-rushed by supporters the way I've seen crowds swarm around Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, and to a lesser extent on Thursday afternoon, John Edwards. What am I missing? I wonder. But driving between Dean events today, I hear a radio ad that might provide part of the answer. It supports Ryan Lizza's theory that Kerry is gaining ground by pushing an anti-tax message. Unlike unnamed other candidates, "John Kerry is not going to raise taxes on the middle class," the announcer says.

Kerry didn't directly criticize Howard Dean or Dick Gephardt on Thursday (though the veteran who introduced him did criticize Dean when he compared Kerry's Vietnam experience to "another candidate" who "asked for a deferment" and then went skiing). But he emphasized tax reform, not just the repeal of the Bush tax cuts. "I'm not looking for some great redistribution" or a "confiscatory" tax scheme, he says. "I'm looking for fairness." He also promises to "scour" the tax code for provisions that benefit "Benedict Arnold" companies and CEOs who move their assets offshore to escape taxes. Fifteen years ago, Kerry says, U.S. businesses had $250 billion in offshore assets. Today, it's $5 trillion. "This system is rigged against the average American," he says. "America is losing its democracy to a dollar-ocracy."

If Kerry's lead in the polls is accurate, and if it's attributable to his message on tax cuts (two pretty big ifs, in my opinion), Dean's decision to withhold his tax-reform plan until after the Iowa caucuses will be considered a major miscalculation. Instead of betting everything on Iowa and New Hampshire in an attempt to end the campaign before it began, Dean overconfidently decided to keep part of his platform in his quiver, presumably hoping it would have greater impact during a later stage of the campaign.

But what's bad news for Dean could be good news for the rest of the country. For years, pundits have complained that Iowa and New Hampshire have too much control over the presidential nominating process. This year, most people thought Iowa and New Hampshire would be even more important, because the condensed primary schedule would create unstoppable momentum for the winning candidates. But it looks like Terry McAuliffe's plan is having the opposite effect: By cramming so many primaries and caucuses into a small part of the calendar, McAuliffe created something much closer to a national primary than ever existed before. Joe Lieberman and Wesley Clark are taking advantage of the new game by staking their candidacies on the states after Iowa and New Hampshire. And if John Zogby is right about John Kerry, Howard Dean may be forced to do the same thing.

          UK businesses value young people’s digital skills at £6.7billion   

The post UK businesses value young people’s digital skills at £6.7billion appeared first on The Big Choice.

          Part Time Nabisco Merchandiser - Mondelez International - Millcreek, UT   
Mondelēz International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDLZ) is one of the world’s largest snacks companies, with global net revenues of $38 billion in 2015. Our dream is to $11 - $12 an hour
From Indeed - Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:56:58 GMT - View all Millcreek, UT jobs
          Analysis: GOP Health Bill Could Cost California $114B   
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 28: Demonstrators protest changes to the Affordable Care Act on June 28, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. After more senators said they would not offer support, senate Republican's yesterday announced they would delay a vote on their revised health-care bill. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)California officials say the state's budget could take a $30 billion annual hit if health care legislation proposed by U.S. Senate Republicans is passed.
          Senior Revenue Accountant   
TX-Dallas, Randstad US is a wholly owned subsidiary of Randstad Holding nv, a $24.5 billion global provider of HR services. As one of the largest staffing organizations in the United States, Randstad provides temporary, temporary-to-hire and permanent placement services each week to over 100,000 people through its network of more than 900 branches and on-site locations. We are partnered with an industry lead
          India and the Balance of Power   

India is arriving on the world stage as the first large, economically powerful, culturally vibrant, multiethnic, multireligious democracy outside of the geographic West. As it rises, India has the potential to become a leading member of the "political West" and to play a key role in the great political struggles of the next decades. Whether it will, and how soon, depends above all on the readiness of the Western powers to engage India on its own terms.


India's grand strategy divides the world into three concentric circles. In the first, which encompasses the immediate neighborhood, India has sought primacy and a veto over the actions of outside powers. In the second, which encompasses the so-called extended neighborhood stretching across Asia and the Indian Ocean littoral, India has sought to balance the influence of other powers and prevent them from undercutting its interests. In the third, which includes the entire global stage, India has tried to take its place as one of the great powers, a key player in international peace and security.

Three things have historically prevented India from realizing these grand strategic goals. First, the partition of the South Asian subcontinent along religious lines (first into India and Pakistan, in 1947, then into India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, in 1971) left India with a persistent conflict with Pakistan and an internal Hindu-Muslim divide. It also physically separated India from historically linked states such as Afghanistan, Iran, and the nations of Southeast Asia. The creation of an avowedly Islamic state in Pakistan caused especially profound problems for India's engagement with the Middle East. Such tensions intertwined with regional and global great-power rivalries to severely constrict India's room for maneuver in all three concentric circles.

The second obstacle was the Indian socialist system, which caused a steady relative economic decline and a consequent loss of influence in the years after independence. The state-socialist model led India to shun commercial engagement with the outside world. As a result, India was disconnected from its natural markets and culturally akin areas in the extended neighborhood.

Finally, the Cold War, the onset of which quickly followed India's independence, pushed India into the arms of the Soviet Union in response to Washington's support for Pakistan and China -- and thus put the country on the losing side of the great political contest of the second half of the twentieth century. Despite being the largest democracy in the world, India ended up siding with the opposite camp on most global issues.

The last decade of the twentieth century liberated India from at least two of these constraints; state socialism gave way to economic liberalization and openness to globalization, and the Cold War ended. Suddenly, New Delhi was free to reinvent its foreign policy -- positioning itself to face the rise of China, shifting its strategic approach to its other neighbors, and beginning to work closely with the world's existing great powers.


India's recent embrace of openness and globalization has had an especially dramatic effect on the country's role in the region. As the nations of the subcontinent jettison their old socialist agendas, India is well positioned to promote economic integration. Although the pace has been relatively slow, the process has begun to gain traction. The planned implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement this summer signals the coming reintegration of the subcontinent's markets, which constituted a single economic space until 1947.

At the same time, optimism on the economic front must be tempered by an awareness of the problematic political developments in India's smaller neighbors. The struggle for democracy and social justice in Nepal, interminable political violence and the rise of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh, and the simmering civil war in Sri Lanka underscore the potential dangers of failing states on the subcontinent. There are also the uncertain futures of Pakistan and Afghanistan: defeating religious extremism and creating modern and moderate states in both countries is of paramount importance to India. A successful Indian strategy for promoting peace and prosperity within the region would require preventing internal conflicts from undermining regional security, as well as resolving India's own conflicts with its neighbors.

In the past, great-power rivalries, as well as India's own tensions with Pakistan and China, have complicated New Delhi's effort to maintain order in the region. Today, all of the great powers, including the United States and China, support the Indian objective of promoting regional economic integration. The Bush administration has also started to defer to Indian leadership on regional security issues. Given the new convergence of U.S. and Indian interests in promoting democracy and countering extremism and terrorism, New Delhi no longer suspects Washington of trying to undercut its influence in the region. As a result, it is more prepared than ever to work with the United States and other Western powers to pursue regional goals.

Meanwhile, the external environment has never been as conducive as it is today to the resolution of the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir. The conflict has become less and less relevant to India's relations with the great powers, which has meant a corresponding willingness on New Delhi's part to work toward a solution. Of particular importance has been the steady evolution of the U.S. position on Kashmir since the late 1990s. The support extended by President Bill Clinton to India in its limited war with Pakistan in 1999 removed the perception that Washington would inevitably align with Islamabad in regional conflicts. But India remained distrustful of the Clinton administration's hyperactive, prescriptive approach to Kashmir. It has been more comfortable with the low-key methods of the Bush administration, which has avoided injecting itself directly into the conflict. The Bush administration has also publicly held Pakistan responsible for cross-border terrorism and has extracted the first-ever assurances from Pakistan to put an end to the attacks. New Delhi does not entirely believe these promises, but it has nonetheless come to trust Washington as a source of positive of influence on Islamabad.

These developments have opened the way for a peace process between the two governments. With the growing awareness that the normalization of relations with Pakistan would end a debilitating conflict and help India's regional and global standing, New Delhi has begun to negotiate seriously for the first time in decades. Although the pace of talks has not satisfied Pakistan, the two sides have agreed on a range of confidence-building measures. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rejected the idea of giving up territory, but he has often called for innovative solutions that would improve living conditions and for common institutions that would connect Kashmiris across the Line of Control. Singh has made clear that the Indian leadership is ready to risk political capital on finding a diplomatic solution to Kashmir.

India's recent effort to resolve its long-standing border dispute with China has been just as bold. New Delhi decided in 2003 to seek a settlement with Beijing on a political basis, rather than on the basis of legal or historical claims. As a result, during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi in April 2005, India and China agreed on a set of principles to guide the final settlement. The two governments are now exploring the contours of mutually satisfactory territorial compromises.

India's search for practical solutions to the disputes over Kashmir and its border with China suggests that the country has finally begun to overcome the obsession with territoriality that has consumed it since its formation. Ironically, the nuclearization of India and Pakistan in 1998 may have helped in this regard: although nuclearization initially sharpened New Delhi's conflicts with both Islamabad and Beijing, it also allowed India to approach its territorial problems with greater self-assurance and pragmatism.


Progress on the resolution of either of these conflicts, especially the one over Kashmir, would liberate India's political and diplomatic energies so that the country could play a larger role in the world. It would also finally release India's armed forces from the constraining mission of territorial defense, allowing them to get more involved in peace and stability operations around the Indian Ocean. Even with all the tensions on the subcontinent, the armies of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have been among the biggest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. The normalization of Indo-Pakistani relations would further free up some of the best armed forces in the world for the promotion of the collective good in the greater Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Even as the Kashmir and China questions have remained unsettled, India's profile in its extended neighborhood has grown considerably since the early 1990s. India's outward economic orientation has allowed it to reestablish trade and investment linkages with much of its near abroad. New Delhi is negotiating a slew of free- and preferential-trade agreements with individual countries as well as multilateral bodies including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the Southern African Development Community. Just as China has become the motor of economic growth in East Asia, a rising India could become the engine of economic integration in the Indian Ocean region.

After decades of being marginalized from regional institutions in different parts of Asia, India is also now a preferred political partner for ASEAN, the East Asian Summit, the GCC, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the African Union. Moreover, it has emerged as a major aid donor; having been an aid recipient for so long, India is now actively leveraging its own external assistance to promote trade as well as political objectives. For example, India has given $650 million in aid to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. Meanwhile, the search for oil has encouraged Indian energy companies to tail their Western and Chinese counterparts throughout the world, from Central Asia and Siberia and to western Africa and Venezuela.

On the security side, India has been actively engaged in defense diplomacy. Thanks to the strength of its armed forces, India is well positioned to assist in stabilizing the Indian Ocean region. It helps that there has been a convergence of U.S. and Indian political interests: countering terrorism, pacifying Islamic radicalism, promoting democracy, and ensuring the security of sea-lanes, to name a few. The Indian navy in particular has been at the cutting edge of India's engagement with the region -- as was evident from its ability to deploy quickly to areas hit by the tsunami at the end of 2004. The Indian navy today is also ready to participate in multinational military operations.


The end of the Cold War freed India to pursue engagement with all the great powers -- but especially the United States. At the start of the 1990s, finding that its relations with the United States, China, Japan, and Europe were all underdeveloped, India moved quickly to repair the situation. Discarding old socialist shibboleths, it began to search for markets for its products and capital to fuel its long-constrained domestic growth. Economic partnerships were easy to construct, and increasing trade flows provided a new basis for stability in India's relations with other major powers. India's emergence as an outsourcing destination and its new prowess in information technology also give it a niche in the world economy -- along with the confidence that it can benefit from economic globalization.

Barely 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, India's omnidirectional engagement with the great powers has paid off handsomely. Never before has India had such expansive relations with all the major powers at the same time -- a result not only of India's increasing weight in the global economy and its growing power potential, but also of New Delhi's savvy and persistent diplomacy.

The evolution of Sino-Indian ties since the 1990s has been especially important and intriguing. Many see violent conflict between the two rising Asian powers as inevitable. But thanks to New Delhi's policy of actively engaging China since the late 1980s, the tensions that characterized relations between them from the late 1950s through the 1970s have become receding memories. Bilateral trade has boomed, growing from less than $200 million in the early 1990s to nearly $20 billion in 2005. In fact, China is set to overtake the European Union and the United States as India's largest trading partner within a few years. The 3,500-kilometer Sino-Indian border, over which the two countries fought a war in 1962, is now tranquil. And during Wen's visit to India in April 2005, India and China announced a "strategic partnership" -- even though just seven years earlier New Delhi had cited concerns over China as a reason for performing nuclear tests, prompting a vicious reaction from Beijing.

India has also cooperated with China in order to neutralize it in conflicts with Pakistan and other smaller neighbors. In the past, China tended to be a free rider on regional security issues, proclaiming noninterference in the internal affairs of other nations while opportunistically befriending regimes in pursuit of its long-term strategic interests. This allowed India's subcontinental neighbors to play the China card against New Delhi when they wanted to resist India's attempts to nudge them toward conflict resolution. But now, Beijing has increasingly avoided taking sides in India's disputes, even as its economic and security profile in the region has grown.

China is not the only Asian power that India is aiming to engage and befriend. Japan has also emerged as an important partner for India, especially since Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has transformed Japanese politics in the last few years. During a visit to New Delhi just a couple of weeks after Wen's in April 2005, Koizumi announced Japan's own "strategic partnership" with India. (This came despite Japan's harsh reaction to India's nuclear test in 1998, which prompted Japanese sanctions and an effort by Tokyo to censure India in the United Nations and other multilateral forums.) Amid growing fears of a rising China and the incipient U.S.-Indian alliance, Japan has elevated India to a key player in its long-term plans for Asian security.

Recognizing the need to diversify its Asian economic portfolio, Tokyo has also, for political reasons, begun to direct some of its foreign investment to India (which has overtaken China as the largest recipient of Japanese development assistance). Since the start of the Bush administration, Japan has also shown increasing interest in expanding military cooperation with India, especially in the maritime domain. India, too, has recognized that it shares with Japan an interest in energy security and in maintaining a stable balance of power in Asia. Japan actively supported India's participation in the inaugural East Asian Summit, in December 2005, despite China's reluctance to include New Delhi. Neither India nor Japan wants to base their political relationship exclusively on a potential threat from China, but both know that deepening their own security cooperation will open up new strategic options and that greater coordination between Asian democracies could limit China's impact.

India's relations with Europe have been limited by the fact that New Delhi is fairly unimpressed with Europe's role in global politics. It senses that Europe and India have traded places in terms of their attitudes toward the United States: while Europe seethes with resentment of U.S. policies, India is giving up on habitually being the first, and most trenchant, critic of Washington. As pessimism overtakes Europe, growing Indian optimism allows New Delhi to support unpopular U.S. policies. Indians consistently give both the United States and the Bush administration very favorable marks; according to a recent Pew Global Attitudes poll, for example, the percentage of Indians with a positive view of the United States rose from 54 percent in 2002 to 71 percent in 2005. And whereas a declining Europe has tended to be skeptical of India's rise, the Bush administration has been fully sympathetic to India's great-power aspirations.

Still, India does have growing economic and political ties with some European powers. Although many smaller European countries have been critical of the U.S.-Indian nuclear deal, the continent's two nuclear powers, France and the United Kingdom, have been supportive. Paris, in particular, bet long ago (well before Washington did, in fact) that a rising India would provide a good market for high-tech goods; with this in mind, it shielded New Delhi from the ire of the G-8 (the group of eight highly industrialized nations) after India tested nuclear weapons in May 1998. In the last several years, the United Kingdom has also started to seize economic opportunities in India and has been generally accommodating of New Delhi's regional and global aspirations.

In the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, India also worked to maintain a relationship with Russia. The two states resolved residual issues relating to their old semi-barter rupee-ruble trading arrangements, recast their 1971 peace and friendship treaty, and maintained military cooperation. When President Vladimir Putin succeeded Boris Yeltsin, in 2000, India's waiting game paid off. A newly assertive Moscow was determined to revive and expand its strategic cooperation with India. New Delhi's only problems with Moscow today are the weakening bilateral trade relationship and the risk of Russia's doing too much to strengthen China's military capabilities.


At the end of the Cold War, the prospect of India's building a new political relationship with the United States seemed remote. Washington had long favored Pakistan and China in the region, India had in turn aligned itself with the Soviet Union, and a number of global issues seemed to pit the two countries against each other. Yet after the Cold War, India set about wooing the United States. For most of the Clinton administration, this sweet-talking fell on deaf ears, in part because Clinton officials were so focused on the Kashmir dispute and nonproliferation. Clinton, driven by the unshakable assumption that Kashmir was one of the world's most dangerous "nuclear flashpoints" and so needed to be defused, emphasized "preventive diplomacy" and was determined to "cap, roll back, and eventually eliminate" India's nuclear capabilities. Of course, Clinton's approach ran headlong into India's core national security concerns -- territorial integrity and preserving its nuclear option. Pressed by Washington to circumscribe its strategic capabilities, New Delhi reacted by testing nuclear weapons.

But even as it faced U.S. sanctions, New Delhi also began to proclaim that India was a natural ally of the United States. Although the Clinton administration was not interested in an alliance, the nuclear tests forced the United States to engage India seriously for the first time in five decades. That engagement did not resolve the nuclear differences, but it did bring Clinton to India in March 2000 -- the first American presidential visit to India in 22 years. Clinton's personal charm, his genuine empathy for India, and his unexpected support of India in the 1999 war with Pakistan succeeded in improving the atmospherics of the relations and in putting New Delhi on Washington's radar screen in a new way.

It took Bush, however, to transform the strategic context of U.S.-Indian relations. Convinced that India's influence will stretch far beyond its immediate neighborhood, Bush has reconceived the framework of U.S. engagement with New Delhi. He has removed many of the sanctions, opened the door for high-tech cooperation, lent political support to India's own war on terrorism, ended the historical U.S. tilt toward Pakistan on Kashmir, and repositioned the United States in the Sino-Indian equation by drawing closer to New Delhi.

India has responded to these sweeping changes by backing the Bush administration on missile defense, the International Criminal Court, and finding alternative approaches to confronting global warming. It lent active support to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan by protecting U.S. assets in transit through the Strait of Malacca in 2002, agreed to work with the United States on multinational military operations outside of the UN framework, and, in 2005 and 2006, voted twice with Washington against Iran -- an erstwhile Indian ally -- at the International Atomic Energy Agency. India also came close to sending a division of troops to Iraq in the summer of 2003 before pulling back at the last moment. Every one of these actions marked a big departure in Indian foreign policy. And although disappointed by India's decision to stay out of Iraq, the Bush administration recognized that India was in the midst of a historic transformation of its foreign policy -- and kept faith that India's own strategic interests would continue to lead it toward deeper political cooperation with Washington. New Delhi's persistence in reaching out to Washington since 1991 has been driven by the belief that only by fundamentally changing its relationship with the world's sole superpower could it achieve its larger strategic objectives: improving its global position and gaining leverage in its relations with other great powers.

But India's ability to engage everyone at the same time might soon come to an end. As U.S.-Chinese tensions grow and Washington looks for ways to manage China's influence, questions about India's attitude toward the new power politics will arise: Can India choose to remain "nonaligned" between the United States and China, or does India's current grand strategy show a clear bias toward the United States?

The nuclear pact unveiled by Bush and Singh in July 2005 -- and consolidated when Bush went to New Delhi in March 2006 -- was an effort by Washington to influence the ultimate answer to that question. Bush offered to modify U.S. nonproliferation laws (subject to approval by Congress, of course) and revise the global nuclear order to facilitate full cooperation with India on civilian nuclear energy. New Delhi, in return, has promised to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs, place its civilian nuclear plants under international safeguards, and abide by a range of nonproliferation obligations. India's interest in such a deal has been apparent for a long time. Having failed to test weapons before the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was drafted, in 1968, India was trapped in an uncomfortable position vis-à-vis the nuclear order: it was not willing to give up the nuclear option, but it could not be formally accommodated by the nonproliferation regime as a nuclear weapons state.

India's motives for wanting a change in the nuclear regime are thus obvious. But for the Bush administration, the deal is less about nuclear issues than it is about creating the basis for a true alliance between the United States and India -- about encouraging India to work in the United States' favor as the global balance of power shifts. Ironically, it was the lack of a history of mutual trust and cooperation -- stemming in part from past nuclear disputes -- that convinced the Bush administration that a nuclear deal was necessary.


Many critics argue that the Bush administration's hopes for an alliance are misplaced. They insist that the traditionally nonaligned India will never be a true ally of the United States. But such critics misunderstand India's nonalignment, as well as the nature of its realpolitik over the past 60 years. Contrary to a belief that is especially pervasive in India itself, New Delhi has not had difficulty entering into alliances when its interests so demanded. Its relationship with the Soviet Union, built around a 1971 peace and friendship treaty, had many features of an alliance (notwithstanding India's claim that such ties were consistent with nonalignment); the compact was in many ways a classic response to the alignment of Washington, Beijing, and Islamabad. India has also had treaty-based security relationships with two of its smaller neighbors, Bhutan and Nepal, that date back to 1949-50 -- protectorate arrangements that were a reaction to China's entry into Tibet.

In fact, there is no contradiction between India's alleged preference for "moralpolitik" (in opposition to pure power politics, or Machtpolitik) and the Bush administration's expectation of an alliance with India. New Delhi is increasingly replacing the idea of "autonomy," so dear to Indian traditionalists, with the notion of India's becoming a "responsible power." (Autonomy is thought appropriate for weak states trying to protect themselves from great-power competition but not for a rising force such as India.) As India starts to recognize that its political choices have global consequences, it will become less averse to choosing sides on specific issues. Alliance formation and balancing are tools in the kits of all great powers -- and so they are likely to be in India's as well.

That India is capable of forming alliances does not, however, mean that it will necessarily form a long-term one with the United States. Whether it does will depend on the extent of the countries' shared interests and their political capacity to act on them together. The Bush administration expects that such shared interests -- for example, in balancing China and countering radical Islam in the Middle East -- will provide the basis for long-term strategic cooperation. This outcome is broadly credible, but it is by no means inevitable, especially given the United States' seeming inability to build partnerships based on equality.

When it comes to facing a rising China, India's tendency to engage in regional balancing with Beijing has not come to an end with the proclamation of a strategic partnership between the two nations. Indeed, preventing China from gaining excessive influence in India's immediate neighborhood and competing with Beijing in Southeast Asia are still among the more enduring elements of India's foreign policy. Despite Western concerns about the military regime in Myanmar, New Delhi has vigorously worked to prevent Yangon from falling completely under Beijing's influence, and India's military ties with the Southeast Asian nations are expanding rapidly. In 2005, when Pakistan pushed for giving China observer status in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, India acted quickly to bring Japan, South Korea, and the United States in as well. Given India's deep-seated reluctance to play second fiddle to China in Asia and the Indian Ocean region -- and the relative comfort of working with a distant superpower -- there is a structural reason for New Delhi to favor greater security cooperation with Washington.

In the Middle East, too, India has a common interest with the United States in preventing the rise of radical Islam, which poses an existential threat to India. Given its large Muslim population -- at nearly 150 million, the third largest in the world -- and the ongoing tensions stemming from the subcontinent's partition, India has in the past acted on its own to avert the spread of radical Islam. When Washington aligned with conservative Islamic forces in the Middle East during the Cold War, India's preference was for secular nationalist forces in the region. When the United States acted ambivalently toward the Taliban in the mid-1990s, India worked with Russia, Iran, and the Central Asian states to counter the Taliban by supporting the Northern Alliance. Now, although some in India are concerned that alignment with the United States might make India a prime target for Islamist extremists, there is no way India can compromise with radical Islam, which threatens its very unity.

But shared interests do not automatically produce alliances. The inequality of power between the two countries, the absence of a habit of political cooperation between them, and the remaining bureaucratic resistance to deeper engagement in both capitals will continue to limit the pace and the scope of strategic cooperation between India and the United States. Still, there is no denying that India will have more in common with the United States than with the other great powers for the foreseeable future.

While New Delhi has acknowledged that U.S. support is necessary for India's rise to be successful, Washington has recognized India's potentially critical role in managing emerging challenges to global order and security. As a major beneficiary of accelerating globalization, India could play a crucial role in ensuring that other developing countries manage their transitions as successfully as it has, that is, by taking advantage of opportunities while working to reduce the pain of disruption. Given the pace of its expansion and the scale of its economy, India will also become an important force in ensuring that the unfolding global redistribution of economic power occurs in an orderly fashion. Meanwhile, India could become a key player in the effort to modernize the politics of the Middle East. If nothing else, India's success in ensuring the rights and the integration of its own Muslim minority and in reaching peace with Pakistan would have a powerful demonstration effect.

To secure a long-term partnership with India, Washington must build on the argument of "Indian exceptionalism" that it has advanced in defense of the recent nuclear pact, devising a range of India-specific policies to deepen cooperation. India is unlikely, however, to become a mere subsidiary partner of the United States, ready to sign on to every U.S. adventure and misadventure around the world. It will never become another U.S. ally in the mold of the United Kingdom or Japan. But nor will it be an Asian France, seeking tactical independence within the framework of a formal alliance.

Given the magnitude of the global security challenges today, the United States needs more than meek allies. It should instead be looking to win capable and compatible partners. A rising India may be difficult at times, but it will act broadly to defend and promote the many interests it shares with Washington. Assisting India's rise, then, is in the United States' own long-term interest.

          Syrian refugee flood continues unabated: UN needs $1 billion   

GenevaLunch News GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The UN says it will need $1 billion for the first six months of 2013 to cope with the massive flow of refugees who continue to flee Syria, where the bloodshed and chaos of the country’s civil war continue unabated. The funds will be needed to handle the most basic needs of […]

Syrian refugee flood continues unabated: UN needs $1 billion © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.

          Nearly CHF1b of Arab spring dictators’ funds blocked by Swiss   

GenevaLunch News Returning assets to the people is a priority, says ambassador GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – More than CHF1 billion in assets linked to the regimes of dictators who fell during the Arab spring, as well as Syrian assets, have been frozen and it’s a priority for these to be returned to the countries, Ambassador Valentin Zellweger, who […]

Nearly CHF1b of Arab spring dictators’ funds blocked by Swiss © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.

          Swiss president, US attorney general discuss tax issues at IMF meeting   

GenevaLunch News Switzerland to share seat with Poland, pledges additional $10 billion to IMF BERN, SWITZERLAND – Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and US Attorney General Eric Holder met on the fringes of a key International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington 20-21 April. Bern’s statement was brief, noting that the two met “in order to discuss bilateral […]

Swiss president, US attorney general discuss tax issues at IMF meeting © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.

          Abacha retrial to go ahead   

GenevaLunch News GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss Federal Tribunal has ordered a new trial for Abba Abacha, son of former Nigerian General Sani Abacha, who ruled the country for five years in the 1990s. He was suspected of stealing more than $2 billion and after his death his sons managed the money. Abba Abacha was given a […]

Abacha retrial to go ahead © GenevaLunch News, See license terms.

          New York REIT shopping four office buildings as one large package   
As part of a $2.8 billion liquidation, New York REIT is looking to sell four of its remaining assets as a single package spanning about 750,000 square feet, sources told The Real Deal. The real estate investment trust expects to sell the four office buildings in Chelsea and the Garment District for a combined $700 million, sources said. The properties could still sell individually, sources added. The package consists of the Twitter-anchored 245-249 West 17th […]
          California lawmaker pushing bill to jolt electric car market with $3 billion in subsidies   

California’s electric car rebate program needs a recharge to meet the state’s clean air goals, said Democrat Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco.

His bill to provide $3 billion in subsidies for electric car buyers over 12 years is wending its way through the Legislature. On Wednesday, Ting held...

          What happened today?   

Arthur Wellesley, aka The Duke of Wellington, aka the guy who defeated Napoleon, was born on this day in 1769. Unfortunately (in his eyes nonetheless), he was born in Ireland. 

Now there are many greats in Ireland's history that were born in Ireland but whose parents, or at least one of them, were English. Take some literary figures for example. Swift, Wilde, Yeats and Stoker are not strikingly obvious Irish names (I bet ALL of them are not Irish names), yet we definitely count them in the list of great Irish literary figures. Heck, I'm one of the few who would even count Shakespeare in the list!

But, we don't know for certain which, if any, would actually prefer NOT to be counted in such a list. Wellington definitely did not really regard himself as an Irishman, or if he did, he resented such a tag. We don't care. If he didn't  want to be one of us, we don't want him to be one of us! So there, Wellington!

That's the way I see the 'label' of 'Irishness' - you can claim or deny Irishness, but only with legitimate principles: and "it's St. Patrick's Day, I'm Irish" is not legitimate!

I bring up this issue on today of all days because there's a royal wedding happening in London. It will be watched by a couple billion people around the world, among them many Irish. Nowadays, we Irish have a strange relationship with the British monarchy (a relationship that will get even stranger, I bet, once and after the Queen arrives for a visit) - many Irish bought 'Candle in the Wind' after Diane's death, and, doubtless, thousands have tuned in today to watch the royal wedding. I am not one of them.

 So I wonder if many people in Ireland today have done 'a Wellington'.

          Africa - China (Belt and Road Initiative); Comparing Kenya's old Railway to the new modern SGR    
As Kenya moves into the era of modern transport with the new Mega Railway soon to be launched, we take a look back at the century old railway system and what the future holds with the new one.

And now for the next installment of our special series ahead of the launch of Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway. Several Kenyan women train drivers have been sent to China to learn how to operate the SGR. They're back now, and four of them will be driving the train on launch-day. Take a look.

The Standard Gauge Railway links East Africa's biggest port -- Mombasa to Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. The official launch takes place on Wednesday the 31st of May. The 400 and 72-kilometre line will reduce travel time from 10-plus hours to less than five. The SGR is the biggest infrastructure project in Kenya since independence in 1963. It's also the first stage in a network that will eventually stretch across much of East Africa -- transforming transport, trade and economic development as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative.

The Standard Gauge Railway has been widely acclaimed as a signature feature for the East African country

The Managing Director of Kenya Railways, Atanas Maina, says the SGR will bring a range of benefits to the country.

After more than a century, Kenya is betting on a new Chinese-built route to cement its position as the gateway to East Africa. President Uhuru Kenyatta will see off the first cargo train later today, while the first passenger coach will undertake the 4-hundred and 72-kilometere journey on Wednesday. The multibillion-dollar railway links the Kenyan capital Nairobi with the port of Mombasa.

It will reduce the cost of transporting goods inland -- and cut travel time from 10-plus hours to less than five. The next leg of the SGR will connect Nairobi with the Rift Valley town of Naivasha. Authorities have hailed the economic benefits of the train.

China has officially handed over the Standard Gauge Railway to Kenya. President Uhuru Kenyatta has been joined at the Port of Mombasa by dozens of top officials from the Chinese companies that helped build and fund the railway project. The handover ceremony included traditional dancing and singing to mark this momentous occasion.

The railway will eventually link up to the entire East African region. It's been called a potential game changer for Kenya and the region. President Kenyatta is due to leave from the Mombasa station on Wednesday morning to take the inaugural train to Nairobi. Well, our team is in Mombasa and has been getting us more on the SGR, the projects that go with it, and the potential benefits. Here's Ramah Nyang with more.

          Namaste London   
First weekend in the city. Glorious day; bright, warm, sunny. Will go and check out the various summer sales going on in the city. Only hitch - short on cash before the first stipend payment. But hey, window shopping doesn't cost a penny! And since I've got the monthly travel card made, travel is also free. So, wait there London city, me cometh.


First day in office, day filled with form-filling and other stuff. The highlight of the day was the walking tour we had around the office with an official walking tour guide. As the gentleman said - "Every stone has some history in London." Starting with the Roman era, to the great fire of 1666, to the Victorian times - the city is filled with relics and monuments. Of course, we Indians do have lot deeper historical roots, but one has to appreciate the way the Western World preserves its past. Makes me sad to think about all the history spread all over India, ruining & dying slow death.

By the way, death does have some part to play in the history of London. All big monuments are either churches, with big grave yards (tombstones are still there, though all the bodies were exhumed and taken out of the city sometime in 1800's) or have someone important murdered there, after elaborate torture, of course. We saw a square where William Wallace, aka Braveheart, was executed.
[..]On 22 August 1305, following the trial, Wallace was taken from the hall, stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to Smithfield Market. He was hanged, drawn and quartered — strangled by hanging but released while still alive, emasculated, eviscerated and his bowels burnt before him, beheaded, then cut into four parts — at the Elms in Smithfield. His preserved head was placed on a pike atop London Bridge. It was later joined by the heads of his brother, John, and Simon Fraser. His limbs were displayed, separately, in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Aberdeen.
Who the hell used to come up with all that. Yikes! And yeah, the guide told us the executions there were still carried out even after London got the tube in 1860s. So you could actually come using the tube to see an execution. Beat that!


First day at the desk - mostly easy. Some stuff to be read and understood. Met almost the entire team. Had lunch at Subway with the two analysts from IIT Delhi. Left early. My manager was not in. London accounts for almost 50% of credit derivatives volume in the world and the volume runs in billion $; sitting on the floor where millions are made and lost was some thrill. Still don't understand many things, but surely this stuff ain't no rocket science!

Eventually got to meet my manager on the next day. Pretty busy and pretty aggressive guy. Heard he joined here after working in Chicago for quite some time. No wonder he is all full of the typical american aggression. Check out the meeting we had recently (all in good humor, mind you. Not really menacing)
Manager: We seriously are f**king around here. What happened to the slide I asked you to do?
Subordinate: Oh yeah. I know I was supposed to do it, but I guess it got lost in the process.
Manager: Yeah. In your world its "lost in process", in my world its called "f**king around!" See basically you f**k around because I am basically a nice guy.
Only if I could get a penny everytime he says f**k, my cash crunch will be solved for a very long time. Almost the entire desk works pretty hard and leaving before 7-8 is kind of stuff hallucinations are made of. Around me, I keep hearing lots of different languages, seeing lots of different colored people. The office is quite cosmopolitan and location wise its in the downtown London, sitting pretty just opposite the London Stock Exchange.


The place we (six of us: 3 from IIMC, 2 from A and 1 from B) are staying in is pretty cool too! Full of interesting restaurants (Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, Malaysian, blah blah) and shops, its considered among the better residential areas in London. We of course are staying in the company provided service apartments. The room, although a bit on the smaller side, is sufficient and quite comfortable. Usually I take a 15 minute ride in the tube to reach the office. The morning rush is nothing compared to the rush in Mumbai locals or even Kolkata metro.

So there, the routine is almost set and life is good.
          Human Resources Services Specialist   
GA-Alpharetta, Amec Foster Wheeler ( designs, delivers and maintains strategic and complex assets for its customers across the global energy and related sectors. Employing around 35,000 people in more than 55 countries and with 2016 revenues of £5.4 billion, the company operates across the oil and gas industry - from production through to refining, processing and distribution of derivative product
          03/24/17: New Biomateriality Lab   
New Biomateriality Lab in the Enter and Encounter exhibition presents new Finnish biomaterials, mainly based on wood. All materials have been invented and produced in multidisciplinary research projects.

Enter and Encounter – 24.3.–22.10.2017
Designmuseum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki

Historically, wood cellulose has had a remarkable role in Finnish industry, though mainly for high volume and low value products. The annual growth of wood biomass in Finland is 104 million m3 and about one fifth of this is not brought into use. This equates to about four million additional tonnes of cellulose per year.  If this additional tonnage could be refined into value-added cellulose products and if those products had an estimated price similar to that of cotton, then the value of that additional business for Finland could be worth five billion euros per year. However, we still need to closely monitor that we are using our precious forests in a smart and responsible way.

The ongoing collaboration between designers, architects, material scientists, engineers and business specialists aims to generate a new high-value industry. Through the combination of traditional large-scale and new start-up businesses, the Finnish cellulose ecosystem will be a strong player in the global market of the future.

Contact person:

Pirjo Kääriäinen
+358 50 3810 217
Cellulose from Finland

The exhibition is coordinated by Aalto University’s CHEMARTS collaboration and participating projects are DWoC, NoMa, Hiilinielu Designstudio and Trash2Cash. The main partners are Aalto University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Technical University of Tampere, Universities of Applied Sciences in Lahti and Tampere, University of Vaasa and Design Forum Finland, in collaboration with various companies, funded by Tekes and EU.


          When Is a Unicorn Really Worth $1 Billion?   

In an era of ambitious startup valuations, it’s important to remember how difficult it is to grow and sustain a viable ‘unicorn’ – a company with a billion-dollar price tag. Today, there are 185 companies worth ten figures or more and, according to CB Insights, just 1.28% of all early-stage investments reach this milestone.[1] Last…

The post When Is a Unicorn Really Worth $1 Billion? appeared first on Safeguard Scientifics, Inc. - Experience Growth..

          The Covenant and the Cargo Cult: Concluded   


Let's get this out of the way first - SPOILERS! Then this: Alien: Covenant is not a very good movie. 

It's not offensively terrible, in fact it goes out of its way to be as inoffensive as possible. Even the gore seems polite. 

I'd give you a synopsis but you can just as easily take all your favorite scenes from the Alien franchise, arrange them however you please, add in a cartoon villain whose motivations are entirely incomprehensible and then go fix yourself up some Jiffy Pop.

Alien: Covenant goes to great lengths to piss away the entire ontology proposed in the film it's meant to act as a sequel to, ostensibly annihilating the god-like Engineer race in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it CGI eruption that has all the heft and drama of a 80s video game. 

But at the same time it seems to tell a story beneath the surface narrative. And a lot of its riffs will be well familiar to anyone versed in Ancient Astronaut Theory. Which, let's face it, was arguably extraneous to the running plot of Prometheus (space mission finds remains of alien race mixed up with the xenomorph progenitors).

As Gordon and I discussed, it also feels like it meant to originally serve as the advance guard for a new AAT media blitz*, a plan that appears to have been scuttled in the wake of Hurricane Trump and the resultant cold (for the time being) civil war the country has been plunged into. 

I've never seen divide-and-rule politics as divisive as what we're seeing today, with the ostensible goal being to atomize the population into impotent, squabbling subsects in order to preempt any potential challenge to oligarchal rule, even if the oligarchy itself is itself carved up into mutually antagonistic camps. (I should mention here that this whole program seems to have fired up in the wake of the Occupy movements).

Of course there's also the fact that the easiest social grouping (tribe, country, empire, etc) to conquer is one that's divided against itself. 

Just saying.

But even this miserable turn of events seems to resonate with the AAT perspective as well, specifically the "gods at war" subplot running through Zecharia Sitchin's bibliography, as well as some of the theorizing emerging on the fringe science circuit.

Now, there's a strand of thinking among those who wrestle with the Fermi Paradox, essentially arguing that high technology is inherently anti-adaptive and inevitably leads to self-destruction. 

What this theory essentially proposes is that we've not had any (acknowledged) contact with extraterrestrial races because they've all been wiped out by their own advanced technology (read: 'weaponry'). This of course is a wildly egocentric assumption ("extraterrestrial races are all as savage and murderous as we are") and automatically presumes that our own high technology is not in fact some kind of alien intrusion, even if it behaves every bit like one.

I bring this up because there are two running themes in Alien: Covenant I do want to unpack, because they do (obliquely) reference some of the basic tenets of AAT (the film seems to keep a lot of its AAT on the DL).

First off is David's genocide of the Engineer planet. This was a fairly ridiculous subplot, essentially chucking everything we were told about these beings in the first film. This is a billions year-old race that seeded all life on Earth and yet they're all defeated by a lone android who had hijacked one of their spacecraft? Huh?

Wouldn't they naturally have some kind of defense infrastructure that would have intercepted this ship before it ever reached orbit? There's no attempt at following the story's own internal logic.

Now there are all kinds of ways you could have made sense of this. The Engineers had degenerated over the millennia and lost their high technology, that they'd become so drunk on their own power that they never expected any exterior challenge, etc etc etc. But the film makes absolutely no attempt to sell any of that.

But by the same token there's a fascinating allegory at work here, even if it's unintentional, and that ties back to the war of the gods theme running through a lot of AAT theorizing. 

Note that the Engineers aren't decked up in their Gigeresque finery in the apocalypse scene but look more like the kind of quasi-Medievals familiar to space fantasy fans. They also look pretty stupid gazing up at the approaching ship like the hapless New Agers in Mars Attacks. 

But were they in fact the Engineers? Some fans don't seem to think so.

A closer look at the (humanoid) aliens in the film may suggest that this in fact was another descendant race, the clue being the skintone (matte and pinkish as opposed to chalky white and moderately reflective). They also don't seem quite as black-eyed. Another clue is their reaction to the ship, arguably suggesting these people were expecting their gods to return.


Is this a fakeout or a reference to another covert subplot altogether? It's possible there was a revelation that this was just a descendant race in the original script but that all got lost in the rewriting process. 

Perhaps David's apparent plan to kill off the human colonists- who are both his progenitors and another descendant race- are the clue here. Either way, the story (mankind's cousins wiped out by a space invader) ties in pretty neatly with the theories put forth by plasma physicist Dr. John Brandenburg:
"Dr. Brandenburg has previously theorized that the red color of Mars and the radioactive substances in its soil are the result of a thermonuclear explosion from natural causes. He now says that the “high concentration” of Xenon-129 in the Martian atmosphere and uranium and thorium on the surface are remnants of two unnatural nuclear explosions, most likely triggered by alien invaders. 
"Who were these aliens invading and eventually wiping out? Brandenburg believes Mars once had a climate like Earth and was inhabited by two civilizations – one in a region called Cydonia Mensa and another at Galaxias Chaos. Why these two regions? 
'Analysis of new images from Odyssey, MRO and Mars Express orbiters now show strong evidence of eroded archeological objects at these sites.'
According to Brandenburg, the Martians maintained a high civilization, albeit a non-technological one:
He says Mars once had an Earth-like climate home to animal and plant life, and any intelligent life would have been about as advanced as the ancient Egyptians on Earth.
There's also David's genetic tinkering with the xenomorph genome. As a self-styled god, David here is playing the part suggested by AATheorists, who postulate that the Anunaki went through a series of experiments in creating the modern human genome and eradicated unwanted models while they did so. 

Strangely enough, this also correlates to the AAT-friendly origin myth put forth by the ancient Greek writer Hesiod in his landmark Works and Days. Hesiod, significantly, was apparently deeply influenced by Babylonian literature, the Enuma Elish in particular

And the war of the gods certainly correlates to the Titanomachy, or the wars between the Olympians and their progenitors, the Titans.

So is there an unspoken inference that David is the titular Prometheus, defying the "gods" and shepherding the engineered development of the xenomorph race? In the context of the film itself it's really hard to care one way or the other but it does suggest that there was in fact a lot more meat on the bone in previous drafts of the script.


But it's worth noting that the Alien franchise is not only another example of a major SF property that revolves around AAT it's also an example of a SF franchise onto which AAT was grafted midstream (at the same time it was grafted onto the Predator franchise). 

Some franchises have AAT baked into their genome at conception (Star Trek (more or less), the Space Odyssey series, Battlestar Galactica) but many more seem to have it implanted sometime into their runs (Quatermass, Doctor Who, X-Files, Indiana Jones, Transformers, Jonny Quest, Godzilla, Doom, Halo, Assassin's Creed). 

When the Olympics came to Hollywood

This raises a very simple question: why? Is there in fact a AAT cargo cult at work in the entertainment industry? I mean that sounds ridiculous, right? 

Well, maybe it seems a bit less so when you look at the influence the Nine had on the Star Trek franchise (relaunching on television this year) or the fact that one of the most powerful cults in Hollywood is explicitly AAT-oriented right down to its very core. There's also the Mormon Church, which is at the very least AAT-compatible.

On the other hand, there's also the Brookings Report. 
The report has become noted for one short section entitled "The implications of a discovery of extraterrestrial life", which examines the potential implications of such a discovery on public attitudes and values. The section briefly considers possible public reactions to some possible scenarios for the discovery of extraterrestrial life, stressing a need for further research in this area. It recommends continuing studies to determine the likely social impact of such a discovery and its effects on public attitudes…" 
One detail that caught the eye of researchers like Richard Hoagland is the mention of possible artifacts discovered on our neighbors, artifacts that might call our entire view of our planet and our very existence into question.
"While face-to-face meetings with it will not occur within the next twenty years (unless its technology is more advanced than ours, qualifying it to visit Earth), artifacts left at some point in time by these life forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the Moon, Mars, or Venus." 
And then there's this passage, which basically explains why so many STEM types are so deeply wounded by AAT:
"It has been speculated that, of all groups, scientists and engineers might be the most devastated by the discovery of relatively superior creatures, since these professions are most clearly associated with the mastery of nature, rather than with the understanding and expression of man. Advanced understanding of nature might vitiate all our theories at the very least, if not also require a culture and perhaps a brain inaccessible to Earth scientists."  

And the money quote: suggestions for how that eventuality- or some kind of alien contact- might be managed by the Managers.
Continuing studies to determine emotional and intellectual understanding and attitudes -- and successive alterations of them if any -- regarding the possibility and consequences of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life. 
Historical and empirical studies of the behavior of peoples and their leaders when confronted with dramatic and unfamiliar events or social pressures. Such studies might help to provide programs for meeting and adjusting to the implications of such a discovery. Questions one might wish to answer by such studies would include: How might such information, under what circumstances, be presented to or withheld from the public for what ends?  
And lo and behold, 57 years after the Brookings Report we get this:
The solar system that humanity calls home may have once been inhabited by an extinct species of spacefaring aliens, a top scientist has suggested. 
A space scientist has suggested ancient extraterrestrials could have lived on Mars, Venus or even Earth before disappearing without a trace. 
In a fascinating academic paper about “prior indigenous technological species,” Jason T. Wright from Pennsylvania State University raised the fascinating possibility that evidence of these extinct aliens could exist somewhere in the solar system. 
Wright is an astronomer who received global attention after suggesting an “alien megastructure” had been spotted in orbit around a distant star.Now the stargazer has said advanced aliens may have left behind “technosignatures” for us to find — if only we knew where to look for them.
Of course, this is exactly what Richard Hoagland has been talking about- and has been roundly attacked for doing so- for at least the past 40 years. But I suppose it's different when the very same theorizing comes from within the priesthood.

It's funny; last night I was cutting the grass and thinking about stuff. You know, like you do when you're cutting the grass. Then I started mulling over how simplistic and repetitive the Ancient Aliens show is and how quickly Giorgio Tsoukalos transformed himself into a cartoon character. 

But then I realized that's how educational indoctrination works in our culture. 

All kinds of teaching and training materials in public schools use cartoon characters, right? Walt Disney probably made a fortune licensing his characters for educational films. And it's through repetition that people really learn anything. 

So Ancient Aliens might chew over the same gristle year after year but that helps keep its messaging consistent as its audience ebbs and flows (read: enters/graduates high school). Love it or loathe it, you have to acknowledge that there's a cogent methodology at work there. 

Government-conditioning program or cult indoctrination, they all work out of the same toolbox.

Is it all leading up to some major revelation, the way 'Disclosure' advocates expect? Or is all leading up to some massive Project Blue Beam type of hoax? 

Well,  why would anyone expect it to? Why would anyone expect the skies to open- or not- as the climax of all this conditioning? 

The answer, of course, is Hollywood. Because that's the way it works in the movies. Real life doesn't usually work that way. 

However, no matter who or what is behind all this the fact remains that, like it or don't, AAT (and the UFO topic in general) have already dramatically changed our culture, our technology and our society. Certainly our popular culture. 

Being a bit long in the tooth it still boggles my mind how many younger people take the basic assumptions of AAT for granted, even if they haven't read a page of Sitchin or Von Daniken or even watched a single Ancient Aliens. They don't have to. So much of their favorite pop culture is neck deep in it.

*You can toss in the Sekret Machines project here, spearheaded by former Blink 182 guitarist Tom Delonge and Peter Levenda of Necronomicon and Sinister Forces fame, and involving all kinds of Deep State heavies such as John Podesta.

          Twin Peaks and the Metaphysics of Evil   

Well, after 27 years of waiting and a good 18 months of hype it's finally here. Showtime aired the two-hour Twin Peaks reboot premiere and posted the first four episodes (the premiere was broken in two) online. I binged the first three as soon as they went up and the last episode the following morning.

My first impression? Ye gods, it's weird.

I mean, even on the David Lynch sliding scale, it's weird. How weird? Well, it makes the weird bits of Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire play like Days of Our Lives. Some door in Lynch's unconscious seems to have gone well off its hinges. 

It's also maddeningly inconsistent, veering from long, flabby scenes where nothing seems to happen to random bursts of truly disturbing horror and violence. There are a number of high profile cameos that range from the numinous (the more-radiant-than-ever Madeline Zima) to the far less-so (Michael Sera comes across as the pretentious kid in your ninth grade drama club) and an extremely confusing subplot with a Dale Cooper-alike in Las Vegas, not to mention the actual Dale Cooper and his demonic doppelganger.

But you know me, this shit's right up alley. I was at turns bored, riveted, horrified and embarrassed but I'm counting the hours to the next episode (which will go live on June 4th).

But the rest of the country? Maybe not so much.

Since we live in a culture that measures the quality of art in dollars and demos the big story on Twin Peaks was the tepid ratings it got. From Vulture:
The owls are not what they seem, and neither was viewer interest in a Twin Peaks revival — at least if Nielsen ratings are your metric for success. Per the ratings giant, Sunday’s quarter-century-in-the-making Twin Peaks: The Return attracted just 506,000 same-day viewers to Showtime via the network’s main linear channel.
But same-day is an archaic metric, isnt it? I'm sure the overwhelming majority of the audience will be consuming Twin Peaks online. We cut the cord a while back and haven't missed it. No one was actually watching the cable feed anyways. Vulture again:
First, it’s worth remembering the 506,000 viewer number reported by Nielsen Tuesday represents only a fraction of the audience that will ultimately consume Peaks across various Showtime linear and digital platforms. When measured over the course of weeks, rather than a single night, it’s quite common for premium cable series to end up with three, four, or even five times as many unique viewers as the same-day Nielsen ratings suggest. The actual audience for Sunday’s Twin Peaks resurrection will likely end up in the 2–3 million viewer range — no doubt less than what Showtime execs hoped for when they green-lit the project, but not quite as minuscule as these early numbers suggest.
But do note that the Twin Peaks premiere was watched by a mind-staggering 34 million Americans. But the blush came off that rose fairly quickly, especially during the second season when the series was relegated to the death slot. Even so, it has to be said that David Lynch has never been box office. Instead his audience is "more selective," as Ian Faith might have it. From Forbes.
Although David Lynch has always been something of a critical darling and a cult hero, the quality of his work hasn't necessarily translated into box office dollars. Yes, Mulholland Drive got rave reviews and was even voted best film of its decade by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (full disclosure: I'm a member and did not vote for it, feeling that as a rejiggered TV pilot it wasn't as deep as people were giving it credit for). But in terms of box office, it only generated $20 million international. His follow-up,Inland Empire, was way down from even that, at merely $4 million international, less than $1 million of which was domestic.
Just how selective it can be is evidenced by this frankly arrogant passage in the Variety review, written by Sonia Saraiya:
The bankable popularity of “Twin Peaks” also makes for an inexplicably stupid scene at the Bang Bang where the indie-electronic band Chromatics performs to a room of middle-aged townies taking tequila shots. Nothing says rural, small-town, faded glory like an impossibly cool synthpop band.  
What time period is Saraiya living in? First of all The Chromatics are an 80s revival band so it goes without saying that they would appeal to the "middle-aged townies" who grew up on synthpop. Second, Twin Peaks is set in the Pacific Northwest, which last time I checked was pretty hep to pop culture. Third, Lynch has been using synthpop in his projects since Blue Velvet. 

The Forbes review seems to get it:
 (The)Chromatics, as well as whatever industrial band it is that plays underneath footage of a car journey at night, fit effortlessly into the Lynchian soundscape.
But overall I think the more savvy viewers will adjust themselves to the jumbled narrative Lynch is putting on the table. As agog as I felt during long stretches of my binge I came out of it with a strong sense of theme. 

Lynch sets up a number of different arcs in different settings. The story ranges from Twin Peaks to Manhattan to South Dakota to Las Vegas. Plus, what looks like outer space but may be some other dimension entirely. And oh yeah, the Black Lodge.

In Twin Peaks a phone call from the Log Lady to Deputy Sheriff Hawk reopens the Laura Palmer case. It's here where we get the strongest hit of that old time Peaks religion and a serving of familiar faces (maybe a little too generous a serving in some instances). We also get some rather stunning photography that would fit proudly on anyone's demo reel. Plus, an owl.

The story in Manhattan centers on a young man whose job it is to sit in a secure room and stare at a glass box on behalf of some shadowy billionaire. He's being courted by a gorgeous young woman (Zima, turning on her native charm like a flamethrower) who is inexplicably curious about his job.

Unlike some other reviewers I won't spoil this arc. But I will say you could cut out those sequences and have yourself a very fine Stevens-Stefano Outer Limits tribute on Lynch's part. I'm thinking "The Galaxy Being", "OBIT" and "Don't Open 'Til Doomsday" were spinning in very heavy rotation somewhere in Lynch's head, unconsciously or otherwise.

The South Dakota storyline updates us on the Dale Cooper doppelganger introduced in the final moments of the original series. There's another murder mystery on the menu and a very Twin Peaks undercurrent of small town sexual intrigue when a high school principal is accused of murdering his mistress. 

The Cooperganger comes across like Frank Booth on Xanax but no less lethal. To show us just how lethal he's featured in a murder scene that is frankly pretty hard to watch.

We encounter the original Cooper, still trapped in the Black Lodge. Which seems only to have gotten more insane in the intervening 27 years. Michael Anderson has been replaced by the One-Armed Man so you don't really miss a beat (Anderson disqualified himself after hurling some pretty wild insinuations against Lynch on his Facebook).

And plus there's a talking brain-tree thing which refers to itself as "the evolution of the arm" (Michael Anderson's character referred to himself as the Arm). Which is probably the least bizarre thing in the Cooper arc.

I mean, strap yourself in because the Cooper-Black Lodge arc goes absolutely bugshit, even more so than anything Lynch has ever filmed. If you thought the lodge stuff was crackers, you literally have seen nothing yet.

Although all these arcs might seem unrelated-- and most probably completely bewildering to anyone not acclimated to Lynch's surrealist vision-- I am sensing a very strong thruline here.

I may be projecting all over it but it feels to me that Lynch is presenting a new metaphysics for evil. 

There's been a debate as old as humanity about the origin of evil, whether it's an innate reality or an invader from without. With the Bob arc from the first series and now with the juxtaposition of the Black Lodge and the Glass Box Lynch appears to arguing that evil is in fact a foreign presence, a metaphysical force that intrudes into our reality to look for hosts. 

As if to concretize this we see that the evil Cooper is not of our Earth and once the real Cooper escapes from his imprisonment (a spoiler, but come on) he is weakened and himself imprisoned.

I would argue then that Twin Peaks is a narrative about the flowering of evil. 

It presents evil as an outside force that invades and sets up shop into our environment then goes about finding suitable hosts to express itself through. It destroys lives, ruins families and communities for no apparent reason then moves on. 

This theme was explored in the thorny and divisive Fire Walk With Me, with Laura Palmer's descent prefigured by her dream of the Black Lodge and with her father's possession by the evil spirit Bob (what a great name for a demon).

Of course, Lynch may well move onto other themes before the series is finished so this is a provisional analysis. But Lynch seems to be fairly consistent in his fixations if you get past the whimsy. 

A lot of people accused Mulholland Dr and Inland Empire of incoherence but they both make perfect sense when you figure out their secrets. They're also essentially the same film told from two different perspectives.

Anyhow, I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts on the series so far and any speculations you might have where all this is headed. I just hope the media doesn't just see it all as a numbers game.
          Chaos Magic vs The Robot Revolution    

There are two divergent streams at work in the Idea-o-Sphere, currents that are not only divergent in size, strength and assumption, but are in fact antithetical. 

The most dominant, of course, is the imminent AI-Robot Revolution, which threatens to bring a very real apocalypse into our world if in fact it flowers as predicted (and isn't just a big scare to keep the peons from asking for raises). 

So we're hearing that not only truck drivers, widget drillers and burger flippers are at risk of imminent penury, so too are lawyers, doctors, accountants and all manner of other professionals whose livelihood is based in their capacity to process huge chunks of complicated data and subsequently make decisions and judgments that are useful to others who can't. 

Programmers- and AIs themselves- are currently working around the clock to fill the shoes of these well-paid professionals with cheap, off-the-shelf software programs that will reliably get that same cognitive work done at a tiny fraction of the cost.

Elon Musk is (ostensibly) so terrified of the AI Revolution he is planning to colonize Mars as a life-raft for the human race, who presumably will have to flee a Skynet/Terminator type scenario. That Mars is utterly incapable of supporting human life- at least at present- seems to be besides the point.

Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire behind social media giant Alibaba, has suddenly turned Cassandra as well. Long a reliable source for corporate technohappytalk, Ma is suddenly warning of dark days ahead.
"In the next three decades, the world will experience far more pain than happiness," the billionaire said, adding that education systems must raise children to be more creative and curious or they will be ill-prepared for the future. 
Robots are quicker and more rational than humans, Ma said, and they don't get bogged down in emotions -- like getting angry at competitors.
Terrific. I was just thinking what the world needs now is more pain than happiness. But given his position as a Techno-Celestial, Ma couldn't serve up the medicine without at least a tiny spoonful of sugar:
But he expressed optimism that robots will make life better for humans in the long run. 
"Machines will do what human beings are incapable of doing," Ma said. "Machines will partner and cooperate with humans, rather than become mankind's biggest enemy."
"Make life better for humans in the long run," he says. Well, what exactly is "the long run?" Three decades is a long time- maybe even a lifetime- for that 99.99999999999% of the human race who aren't tech billionaires. Halfway through that painful three decades most of us aren't going to be thinking much about "the long run." 

And what exactly does "far more pain" imply? I'm not sure I want to know what Jack Ma's definition of pain actually means, given our disparate cultural contexts. 

It's here I begin to think back on last year's Lucifer's Technologies series (more accurately, Satan's Technologies) and wonder about where our modern electronic superstructure actually came from. Because that goes a long way in gleaning where it's actually going. 
Many have claimed that our present technology arose from contact with alien intelligences. Whether you believe that or not, one thing is certain; the rate of technological progress shot up like a rocket shortly after the end of World War II. 
And it must be said that technology seems more and more like an invasive-- or alien-- contagion, disrupting entire industries, economies, and communities.  
Now techno-utopians like Jaron Lanier and Douglas Rushkoff are techno-cassandaras, preaching a message of dislocation and social collapse.  
Look at it this way; steam engines had been known for almost 2000 years by the time the Industrial Revolution took hold, longer still if you consider prototypes. The Ancient Greeks knew them, they just didn't have any use for them. 
But the evolution from a computer that was was essentially the size of a suburban house and boasted the power of a pocket calculator to the working prototypes of the desktop, the Internet, computer animation, teleconferencing and nearly everything else we take for granted today took just a little more than two decades. 
An eyeblink of history.
For at least 5000 years-- five-hundred decades-- horse-drawn carriages and wooden ships with cloth or leather sails were the state of art in transportation technology. By contrast, we go from aeroplanes made of wood and canvas to the SR-71 Blackbird, a machine so advanced our best engineers today seem unable to match it*, in the space of four decades. 
In historical terms, this is as if your three year-old were in nursery school one day and then graduated from Harvard at the top of her class as soon as she turned four. There's simply no precedent for the high-tech explosion that began in the late 1940s... 
Yet no one stops to question how such a technology would arise so instantly, in historical terms. Go look at a book from the late 19th Century- hell, look at a children's book from that period- and tell me people weren't a hell of a lot smarter than they are today. Maybe even smarter than they were in the 1940s... 
Yet even the best and the very brightest were stymied by problems for decades, problems that seemed to solve themselves, literally overnight, shortly after World War II.
We take it all for granted now, especially if you were born at a time when a Commodore 64 and an Atari console were part of your natural landscape. But in fact all of this technology is so anomalous, so disruptive, so improbable in the entirety of human history (never mind natural history) that it is in a very real sense alien, even if (on the offhand chance) it's not actually "alien."

Well, we've been over all of that before, haven't we? What about that other current?

In Our Gods Wear Spandex I argued that Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult Revival were reactions to the massive dislocations- physical, spiritual, psychic- incurred by the Industrial Revolution. It wasn't unusual for the sensitives of the time- see Blake, William, to see the rise of large-scale factories  as an invasion of Hell onto Earth. 

There was very good reason to do so; these were black, belching, smogpits filled with hazardous machinery and/or chemicals that ripped the folk up from communion with the Earth and into virtual (sometimes actual) prisons, in which their humanity was stripped away in service of industrial manufacturing.

In response to the dehumanizing effect of these hells, the sensitives of the time reached back into humanity's childhood (in the case of Spiritualism) or its adolescence (as with the Classically-oriented secret societies). And it could be argued that it worked- that we didn't entirely surrender to the regimented reality of the factory writ large, that Industrial political systems like Nazism and Communism were held at bay (at least in their original incarnation) and that individuality was held up as a social good. 

Well, at least until it was subverted as a tool for political atomization.

The counter-Industrial spiritual movements of the 19th Century weren't shy about co-opting the means of mass-production (in this case, industrial-scale publishing) to pursue their aims. And so it is with the new breed of Chaos magicians and their fellow travelers (I'm not sure if meme magic counts here), some of whom are themselves well-paid Skynet employees, many of whom are tech-savvy and nearly all of whom are plugged deep into the Grid. Becoming the ghost in the machine is the basic idea.

Magic, in this context, acts kind of like Jacques Vallee's "Control System." Things get too hot (or cold, depending on your own worldview) with technology and regimentation and Magic comes in and turns on the AC (or cranks up the woodstove, again according to your POV). 

Magic and its cousin Psi are erratic and unreliable for most people at most times but when the pressure comes down they become attractive alternatives to the crushing predictability of the Black Iron Prison. It may also, in the form of collective ritual, grow in popularity as a tonic against the  the paradoxical effect of social media to grow loneliness in Meatspace.
While it offers an easy way to keep in contact with friends — and meet new people through dating and friendship apps — technology's omnipresence encourages shallow conversations that can distract us from meaningful, real-life, interactions. 
Researchers at the University of Essex found that having a phone nearby, even if we don't check it, can be detrimental to our attempts at connecting with others. Smartphones have transformed post office lines from a chance for some small-talk with the neighbors to an exercise in email-checking, and sealed the fate of coffee shops as nothing more than places of mutual isolation. And technology will only become more ingrained in our lives.
The isolating, dehumanizing effect of technology may once again find its match in the ancient power of ritual, everything from lighting candles at a Catholic shrine to meth-fueled fuck-a-thons while drenched in pig's blood. The collapse of conventional social mores and the now-standard presumption that anything you do that isn't harming anyone else is your lifestyle choice will certainly push all this forward. 

Remember too that this same impulse popped up as a reaction to the hyper-rationalism of Classical Greece with the rise of the Mystery Cults.

Magic almost seems like Nature asserting herself in the face of an outside intervention. Its like the doggedly-persistent vines rising out of toxic soil and strangling the rusted girders of an abandoned factory. Or a stubborn strain of virus slashing its way through some futuristic megalopolis somewhere in the Pacific Rim. 

Or a solar flare frying all of our electronics for good in the blink of an eye.

Now I know it's extremely unfashionable these days to discuss such things, especially with most Chaos magicians, but you have to ask yourself, if computer technology is not an alien virus why does it behave exactly like one?  I don't know about you but it sure as hell sounds to me like Elon Musk believes it is, though he'd never say so publicly. 

Computer technology has already destroyed entire industries, disrupted entire societies, and changed every aspect of our lives in 70 short years? And now we're being told that it threatens to create an entire infrastructure that will make most of us obsolete? I don't know about you but it sure as Hell sounds an awful lot like Borg-assimilation, only on a frog-boiling schedule.

The question becomes if the host can fight off the infection, or at least learn to manage it and coexist with it. I can't begin to pretend I know the answer but it seems to me that reasserting our messy, chaotic humanity is probably a good place to start.

          Siemens to Buy Oilfield Equipment Maker Dresser-Rand for $7.6 Billion   

HOUSTON -- German electronics and engineering company Siemens has reached a deal to acquire oilfield equipment maker Dresser-Rand for $7.6 billion. Under the dealaannounced early Monday in Germany, Siemensawill pay $83 a share for Dresser-Rand. Dresser Rand's market capitalization is $6.12 billion. The deal includes assumption of debt. Shares of Dresser-Rand rose 2.2% in premarket trading to $81.65. Siemensasaid in a statement that Dresser-Rand's portfolio of compressors, steam and gas turbines and engines complements itsaexisting offerings mainly in the growing global oil and gas and power generation businesses. a

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          The Deal: Regency Energy Pays Premium for PVR   

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Houston energy midstream services provider Regency Energy Partners said Thursday it agreed to buy PVR Partners of Radnor, Pa., for $5.6 billion, expanding it from the Permian Basin, South Texas and northern Louisiana into Appalachia's Marcellus and Utica shale plays and the Mid-Continent. The deal includes $1.8 billion in debt assumption.PVR was surging on the news, gaining 12% to $25.65, while Regency was losing 8% to $25.61. Holders of PVR common units, Class B units and special units will receive 1.020 common units of Regency for each PVR unit they hold and a one-time cash payment at closing estimated at $40 million. Together, the stocks and cash were valued at $28.68 per unit, a 25.7% premium over PVR's closing price Wednesday of $22.81. Both partnerships' boards have approved the deal. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014 if it clears PVR unitholders and Hart-Scott-Rodino. CreditSights Inc. analysts Andy DeVries and Charles Johnston wrote in a report Thursday that Regency is paying a full multiple for PVR at 19.5 times Ebitda for the last 12 months, 17 times this year's estimated Ebitda and 14 times next year's Ebitda, versus the bidding war for Southern Union Co. that went over 10 times Ebitda ("and everybody thought that was expensive," they wrote). "While the 14 times is high relative to historic norms, that is being driven by the Fed and investors chasing yield in MLP's," they said, noting that 14 times is in line with current merged GP/LP MLP valuations like MarkWest Energy Partners LP (13.9 times) and Enterprise Products Partners LP (14.2 times). CreditSights said it was surprised by the deal, as it expected Regency would instead get merged into Energy Transfer Partners LP. It was also surprised that Regency used equity to fund the deal, as Regency yields 6.7% while Sunoco Logistics Partners LP, also owned by Energy Transfer, yields only 3.7% and thus is a much more richly valued currency for making acquisitions. "We understand PVR is in a different business line than SXL [Sunoco] but we assumed SXL could find its own acquisitions," it wrote. CreditSights is also concerned about Regency picking up PVR's coal royalty business, which makes up 20% of its earnings. "While less than 10% of the combined company's Ebitda, coal is clearly a negative for MLP [master limited partnership] investors," it said. "We assume the negative of the coal business is offset by O&M [operations and maintenance] synergies." PVR also merged with its general partner in 2011 so there are no incentive distribution rights impacting financials, CreditSights noted.The two companies claimed that the deal will create a leading gas gathering and processing platform with a scaled presence across North America's premier high-growth unconventional oil and gas plays in Appalachia, West Texas, South Texas, the Mid-Continent and northern Louisiana. The combination will be slightly dilutive to next year's discounted cash flow. However, the partnerships said it's not expected to affect anticipated cash distribution growth next year, and the enhanced scale, balance sheet strength and diversification are expected to provide substantial Ebitda and discounted cash flow growth over time. Moreover, the deal is expected to better-position the combined company to capitalize on the long-term growth momentum of North American gas production through incremental, high-value expansions around its core asset base and other growth and acquisition opportunities. "This acquisition enhances our overall geographic diversity by providing Regency with a strategic presence in two prolific producing areas, the Marcellus and Utica shales in the Appalachian Basin and the Granite Wash in the Mid-Continent region," Regency CEO Michael Bradley said in a statement. "These are tremendously complementary businesses, and as a result, we expect the increased footprint and scale to create significant synergies and provide substantial organic growth opportunities that will continue to support our goal of increasing distributions and creating unitholder value." PVR chief executive William Shea Jr. said in a statement the merger creates a larger, more diversified operating platform that will be highly attractive to investors, customers, creditors and employees. "We believe that the size and scope of the combined enterprise will be highly beneficial to our unitholders, offering added diversification and critical mass which will provide the needed financial flexibility to fully execute and benefit from the significant portfolio of organic growth projects we have developed over the past three years, especially in our Eastern midstream operations." Bradley will continue as president and CEO, and Thomas Long will continue as CFO. Regency and PVR expect to establish a transition team made up of members of both management teams to prepare for and to oversee the integration. The partnerships said the combination will have assets in many of the most economic, high-growth unconventional oil and gas plays in North America: the Wolfcamp, Bone Springs, Avalon and Cline shale plays in the Permian, the Eagle Ford shale play in South Texas, the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in Appalachia, the Granite Wash play in Oklahoma and Texas and the Haynesville Shale and Cotton Valley formation in North Louisiana. The increased scale and footprint will position Regency to build deeper customer relationships and secure and execute additional accretive growth opportunities, the partnerships said. Regency used Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Michael Cannon and Andrew Castaldo, UBS Investment Bank's Rob Pierce and Carlos Rivero and a Baker Botts LLP team including Neel Lemon, Breen Haire, Joshua Davidson, Steve Marcus, A.J. Ericksen, Daniel Gottschalk, Rob Fowler, Paul Cuomo, Scott Janoe, Doug Rayburn and Luke Weedon. PVR tapped Citigroup Global Markets Inc.'s Claudio Sauer and Drew Horn; Evercore Partners' Ray Strong, Rob Pacha, Eric Bauer, Amit Bushan and Joyce Zhang; and Vinson & Elkins LLP's Mike Rosenwasser and Michael Swidler.--By Claire Poole in Houston

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          Energy Transfer Gains on ETP Holdco Deal   

HOUSTON (The Deal) -- To simplify a structure that has confounded investors, Dallas oil and gas transportation, processing and storage provider Energy Transfer Partners LP said Thursday, March 21, it would buy the 60% stake in ETP Holdco Corp. it doesn't own from affiliate Energy Transfer Equity LP for $3.75 billion in cash and units.

Shares of Energy Transfer were rising 2% to $49.49 mid-day on Thursday.

The transaction includes $2.35 billion of newly issued ETP units and $1.4 billion in cash. ETE, which owns all of ETP's incentive distribution rights, agreed to forego IDR payments on the newly issued ETP units for the first eight quarters beginning with the quarter in which the closing of the transaction occurs. For eight quarters after that, ETE will collect only half of the IDR payments. The partnerships expect to complete the deal in the second quarter. ...

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          Transocean Stock Jumps After Admitting Criminal Charges in Gulf Oil Spill   

Updated to include analyst comments from Credit Suisse and Wells Fargo

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Rig maker Transocean has plead guilty to a misdemeanor criminal violation of the Clean Water Act and will pay $1.4 billion in fines to settle criminal and civil claims with the U.S. Department of Justice related to a 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which was the worst manmade environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Transocean's fine follows BP's $4.5 billion settlement with U.S. regulators, which also led to guilty pleas on 11 felony counts and manslaughter charges for two of the British oil giant's employees. ...

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          Freeport's Energy Deal: the Real Reason Behind It   

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There were a number of points to examine regarding Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold's $9 billion purchase of two energy companies. Sadly, it doesn't appear that the Corporate Media has latched on to any of them.

One report characterized the deal as:

... a bold bid to diversify into the U.S. energy sector as copper's prospects wane. ...

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          BP Gets Biggest Criminal Fine After Biggest U.S. Oil Spill   

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- BP will pay the U.S. government $4.5 billion over a span of years to settle criminal claims against the British oil giant resulting from its April 2010 Macondo well oil spill, called the largest manmade environmental disaster in U.S. history.

In addition to what amounts to the largest-ever criminal settlement with federal authorities, BP said it will plead guilty to 11 felony counts and two of its employees will face criminal manslaughter charges for their role in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region," Bob Dudley, BP's chief executive, said in a statement. " We apologize for our role in the accident, and as today's resolution with the U.S. government further reflects, we have accepted responsibility for our actions," he added. ...

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          BP Near Settlement on Gulf Disaster: Hot Trends   

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Popular searches on the Internet include BP after the British oil company said it is getting closer to reaching a settlement with the U.S. over the Gulf of Mexico well explosion two years ago.

While BP said in a statement that no final agreement has been reached, the company said it is in advanced talks with U.S. agencies about settling claims from the disaster. According to BP, a settlement would not include civil claims under the Clean Water Act and other legislation.

In March, BP said it reached a separate settlement with more than 100,000 individuals and businesses affected by the explosion totaling an estimated $7.8 billion. ...

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          Energy Stocks Face Their Own Fiscal Cliff   

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- While the battle between Democrats and Republicans for the White House and Congress is very much up in the air, investors in the energy sector should prepare to fall off a fiscal cliff, regardless of how the vote unfolds in November.

Energy investors should prepare for integrated oil and gas giants -- and independent drillers -- to be constrained by high debts and spending levels, that may force CEO's to rein in exploration budgets sharply in 2013, impacting earnings across the sector.

Notably, as drillers try to extract what's been deemed a hundred year shale oil and gas resource, Chesapeake Energy has spent much of 2012 selling assets to meet a $14 billion cash crunch, in last-ditch financial moves that may speak to wider industry pressures as firms try to balance drilling budgets with earnings and debt levels. ...

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          BP's $24B Sale Doesn't Mean a Russian Retreat   

Updated to reflect Morgan Stanley, UBS analyst estimates.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Although BP is selling its stake in Russia's TNK-BP, in a deal that amounts to the British oil giant's largest ever asset sale, the company looks to be doubling down on its investment in Russia's oil and gas resources where political squabbles have hindered previous efforts.

On Monday, BP said it will sell its 50% stake in TNK-BP to Rosneft for $17.1 billion in cash and a share stake in the Russian driller worth $7.13 billion, as of Oct. 18. BP will then use $4.8 billion of the cash to build its stake in Rosneft to 19.75%. ...

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          British Royal Navy’s New HMS Queen Elizabeth Warship Runs Windows XP, What Could Go Wrong?   
British Royal Navy’s New HMS Queen Elizabeth Warship Runs Windows XP, What Could Go Wrong? The United Kingdom is basking in the glory of its latest warship: the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The 65,000-ton aircraft carrier cost nearly $4 billion to construct and began its first sea trials on Monday. But the carrier’s big budget price tag isn’t the only thing that is raising eyebrows; it is the British Royal Navy’s decision to allow critical
          Broken Genome Tracks Girl Scouts; Live!!   

Recorded in front of a live audience and benefitting Part Hall and KBCZ 90.1 FM, Boulder Creek, CA, we covered broken internet, vegetarianism permanently reshaping the human genome, Amazon buying Whole Foods, new browser tech, Meditation changing your DNA, court protecting your online social rights, and much more geek news of the week including questions form our live audience.

          MENGENAL DIRI YANG KE 93   


Berhubung dengan kalimah  لا اله الا الله  dan ilmu yang terkandung didalamnya. maka sebenarnya didalam kehidupan manusia di Planet dunia ini manusia belum lagi cukup untuk memahami ilmu yang Allah sediakan yang tidak terhingga banyak dan luasnya dan manusia belum lagi sampai ketahap memahaminya dengan berkesan, ini kerana disebabkan kita jarang mendengar pengkaji  ayat-ayat Allah dan rahsianya maka tamadun umat manusia teraba-raba hendak menyelesaikan sesuatu masalah ilmu

Kali ini kita focuskan pada kalimah  الا  pada kalimah  لا اله الا الله  kerana dari kalimah inilah banyak ilmu yang belum lagi kesampaian dengan sempurna dan kepada pengkaji ilmiah islam sendiripun belum lagi termampu membongkar istilah dan mengenalinya, mengikut maksud huruf kepada kalimah  الا  ini ialah  melainkan, ertinya sesuatu yang tidak mutlak atau tidak berdaya upaya, jadi mengikut ilmu sifat dua puluh  الا  ini adalah sifat qahar iaitu sifat kekerasan atau sifat penaklukan (Berkuasa mutlak) Tuhan yang mengandungi sifat ma'ani iaitu sifat qudrat, Iradat, Ilmu dah hayat, sedangkan sifat ma'ani itu ialah sifat makhluk 

Didalam al quran sifat ini disebut sebagai  وهو القا هر فوق عباده  (Al An'am ayat 61, ini bermaksud bahawa Allah menguasai seluruh hamba ciptaanNya, ia bukan sahaja mencipta akan tetapi menentukan segala keperluan hambaNya di langit ataupun di bumi, ertinya Dia sentiada dalam urusanNya sebagaimana firman Allah didalam surah Ar Rahman ayat 29  يسئله من فى السموت والارض كل يوم هو فى شأن  (Sekalian makhluk yang ada di langit dan juga bumi sentiasa berhajat denganNya, setiap masa Dia dalam urusanNya iaitu mentadbir dan menjadikan)

Apa yang penting pada N3 ini ialah mengenal asas makhluk didalam sifat qahar ini yang berpunca daripada empat sifat iaitu qudrat ataupun kuasa atau tenaga, Iradat ataupun berkeinginan atau cenderung,atau berkehendak  Ilmu atau pengetahuan atau mengetahui, dan Hayat atau kehidupan atau menghidupkan atau sumber kehidupan, didalam ilmu sifat dua puluh disebut sebagai kuasa roh kepada sifat qudrat, kuasa berkehendak kepada sifat Iradat, sifat mengetahui kepada sifat Ilmu dan sifat menghidupkan kepada sifat Hayat, persoalannya adakah sifat tersebut berbentuk jirim ataupun Jisim atau jauhar Fardhi atau Jauhar Basit ?

Andainya ia bersifat tersebut maka makhluk itu tentunya bukan dari sumber yang nyata namun ia diujudkan Tuhan untuk menjadi asas makhluk yang ghaib seperti Roh, Nafsu, Akal dan Nyawa kerana dari sumber inilah yang menjadi kesempurnaan kehidupan semua makhluk ciptaan Tuhan tidak kira makhluk yang di bumi ataupun di langit, jadi bolehkah kita membilang berapa billion makhluk yang Allah telah jadikan  hanya dengan asas ilmu makhluk yang ada hanya pada empat sifat ma'ani pada sifat qahar didalam ilmu sifat dua puluh ?

Pengkaji atau penyelidik sumber makhluk dari empat sifat ini tentunya tidak akan berjumpa dengan suatu cara untuk mencungkil rahsia asal sumber kejadian alam (makhluk) selagi mereka tidak mengkaji arah tuju ilmu sifat dua puluh yang telah lama dibuang oleh orang berfahaman wahabi dan kemudiannya di ikuti pula oleh manusia di zaman ini, dan ilmu inilah yang sangat dimarahi oleh golongan sekular barat dan anak didiknya diseluruh bumi ini

Asal semua makhluk pada peringkat awalnya disebut oleh Allah sebagai  KULLUM MIN 'IENDILLAH (setiap sesuatu adalah datangnya daripada Allah) demikian Al Quran menyatakan pada ayat An Nisa 78 dan daripada Allah inilah para ulama yang muktabar didalam ilmu akidah ini menyatakan bahawa setiap sesuatu itu Allah jadikan daripada Nur dan dari nur inilah dijadikan pula Roh, Akal, Nafsu dan Nyawa dan dari sumber ini pula Allah jadikan ia sebagai keperluan semua makhlukNya
Apa yang perlu kita kaji tentang sumber ini ?
Sepatutnya kita perlu memahami erti maksud Jirim, Jisim, Jauhar Basit dan Jauhar Fardhi, mengikut agama bahawa Jirim itu ialah setiap benda yang memenuhi ruang, sama ada kecil ataupun besar, dan setiap Jirim ada permulaanya, Allah bukan Jirim, Maksud Jisim pula ialah Jauhar atau benda yang tersusun dari Jauhar Fardhi, Jisim adalah benda yang dapat dibahagi-bahagikan, Allah bukan Jisim, Jauhar pula membawa kepada maksud gambaran sesuatu benda yang tidak dapat dipecah-pecahkan atau dipisah-pisahkan, Jauhar Fardhi adalah benda yang paling halus yang tidak dapat dibahagi-bahagikan kerana terlalu kecilnya dan Jauhar Basit adalah sesuatu yang melapangkan kehidupan

Sambung ...

          Grains Worth BILLIONS Allowed to Rot in India While Poor Starve   
Contrary to popular belief, India is not a poor country. Just terribly selfish and heartless. After all, they worship millions of gods who are heartless (because they are no god). If you’ve been raised to believe India as synonymous with poverty, you’ve been lied to. …………….. NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Every day some 3,000 Indian […]
          Microsoft Enters VR: Why Project Scorpio (Xbox 2) Will Use Oculus Rift   
Xbox 2 Oculus Rift

Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio) has been announced and one of the most interesting things we know about Microsoft’s new console is that it will indeed support high-fidelity virtual reality. While we don’t have an exact answer as to which headset the console will support, there’s enough evidence to support our theory that Xbox 2/Project Scorpio will work with the Oculus Rift.

Join us as we look at the various breadcrumbs Microsoft has been leaving on the internet, and how we pieced together this revelation.

Project Scorpio (Xbox Two) Will Support VR, But Microsoft Isn’t Making It

Our first chunk of evidence comes from an interview between Head of Xbox Phil Spencer and Wired magazine. In this interview, Phil Spencer took some shots at both the Xbox One and the PS4, saying that when he spoke to VR developers, they told him that 6 teraflops of processing power were needed to provide a true VR experience.

To this point he added that today’s consoles don’t have that kind of power, specifically calling out the Xbox One and PS4. He’s right, but still, you can’t help but think he said that on purpose. As he went into more detail, Spencer said that the focus was on providing a high quality VR experience:

"The truth is, a console can run a 2-D version of Doom or Fallout today, which a PS4 and Xbox One can, is not going to be able to do a stereoscopic, high-framerate version of those games. We don’t want to force VR into a middle ground between the scale that we see in mobile, and what our customers expect."

He went on to say that the “best place for VR innovation is the PC,” and that Microsoft is seeking to take that innovation and bring it to the console space. This narrows down the candidates to Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. What about a Microsoft-developed headset, I hear you ask? Spencer shot down this idea in the interview, saying:

"Right now we are not focused on a first-party VR hardware device.”

Now that we’ve narrowed down the candidates to the PC virtual reality space, let’s find out why we believe the Oculus Rift is destined for Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio).

Everybody Loves Oculus: Microsoft’s Partnership With the Rift

Everyone remembers the underdog story of the Oculus Rift’s rise to success. What began as a Kickstarter campaign is now one of pioneers of VR on the PC. Even bigger waves were made when Facebook decided to buy the company for a cool $2 billion.

This wasn’t the end of Oculus Rift’s partnerships either. The following year, Microsoft also announced a partnership with the Rift. As part of this agreement, Oculus Rift headsets were set to ship with an Xbox One wireless controller and the adapter needed to use it wirelessly on the PC.

Furthermore, Xbox One games can be streamed to the headset and playable in a 2D format. Finally, the headset is also natively compatible with Windows 10. While this deal was originally for the PC space, it would be outside the realm of reason to assume it will extend to Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio) as well.

What About Fallout 4 VR?

Hold on a second, though, didn’t Microsoft confirm that Fallout 4 VR was coming to Project Scorpio at E3 2016? They did indeed, and Todd Howard of Bethesda Games seemed excited about the prospect saying:

"We’re moving Fallout 4 to VR, and to have a console that can support that, at the resolution and speed that we really want, I think it’s gonna be magical."

I couldn’t agree more, but what throws a wrench in our gears is the fact that the VR version of the game has been, up until now, only confirmed for the HTC Vive. Bethesda was very clear about this, and it brings to mind the question of why they didn’t mention Oculus Rift in their Fallout 4 VR announcement.

The answer lies in some bad blood brewing between the two companies. In 2015, there was a lawsuit between Bethesda’s owner, ZeniMax, and Oculus Rift. As part of this lawsuit, Oculus was being sued for “illegally misappropriating ZeniMax trade secrets relating to virtual reality technology, and infringing ZeniMax copyrights and trademarks.”

The lawsuit came about when Doom’s co-creator, John Carmack, left id software to join the Oculus Rift team. He is being accused of allegedly providing technology and information to Oculus before his department from the ZeniMax-owned id Software.

This debacle could be the very reason why Fallout 4 isn’t being developed for Oculus Rift. Since we know it’s coming to Scorpio, that puts a bind on our theory. If Bethesda isn’t making the game for the Rift, but they are bringing it to Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio), then that would suggest that Microsoft is pushing the HTC Vive to the console.

That would of course require them to partner with the Vive’s creator, Valve, which is a direct competitor to Microsoft in the PC space. It’s amazing how quickly politics can muddle a perfectly good theory.

Even so, we have until Holiday 2017 before the Xbox Two (Project Scorpio) is released. Hopefully by then this whole mess can be cleared up and Microsoft can extend their partnership with Oculus to the console, nice and smooth.

Personally, I think the HTC Vive is the superior headset in terms of technology, but I also know that the Vive costs $800, so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m leaning towards the rift, though its price isn’t much better.

In the end, most of the evidence points to the Oculus Rift as Microsoft’s chosen third-party headset for Project Scorpio (Xbox 2), but legal issues and the announcement that Fallout 4 VR would be coming to the platform put a few obstacles in the way of confirming this theory.

Which VR headset would you like to see on the Xbox 2? How do you think these legal matters will play into the ultimate decision? Do you wish Microsoft was doing a first-party headset besides the HoloLens? Let us know in the comments!

Note: The thoughts expressed in this article are the opinions of the author (Bradley Ramsey) and do not yet represent facts or the opinions of Microsoft. Although it will probably be accurate, for now it is pure speculation. Thanks for reading!

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          Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, The War in Iraq, and Campus Wide Strikes   

I won't be blogging on Wednesday March 5 in support of the Keene State College campus wide strike to stop the war in Iraq.  "Books not Bombs" will be the message that Professor Tony Stavely and I will push when we speak at 4:30 on campus. 

I don't think it takes a psychologist to see that our President is "working through" his conflicts with his father and trying to prove his worthiness by taking out the evil guy that his father let slide.  We'll be trying to override our President's psychoanalytic struggles by outlining the criteria for a "Just War."  We may have to remind people that Saddam Hussein is not the same person as Osama Bin Laden (recent polls show that many Americans are confused about this).  We'll also talk about better ways to spend billions of dollars going to the war (why not provide Ben and Jerry's ice cream to college students throughout the country?!?).  So, come to Keene on Wednesday afternoon...and bring your own spoon!

          Will food dominate 21 century geopolitics? (radio)   
One billion people in the world are going hungry–more than any other time in history. Yet food security remains a pretty low concern in most industrialized countries. That may not last long according to renowned environmentalist, Lestor Brown, who says that climate change, population growth, rising consumption of meat and dairy, and water issues could […]
          JDM Associates Awarded $20 Million U.S.D.O.E. Better Buildings Initiative Contract   

Better Buildings is a broad, multi-strategy initiative aiming to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s buildings by 20% over ten years. JDM will provide the leadership role in working with corporate leaders, utilities, universities, states, municipalities, government officials, commercial real estate investors and others to meet this ambitious goal; estimated savings in energy bills of more than $80 billion per year will be used to create jobs, hire more workers, invent new products and create additional shareholder and asset value.

(PRWeb June 05, 2015)

Read the full story at

          Why The Oil Price Implosion Didn’t Drag Global Markets Down   
Energy stocks have been the worst performing sector in the S&P 500 index so far this year. Last week, oil slipped into a bear market, but the benchmark U.S. index is holding up, and has gained 8 percent year to date. The correlation between the S&P 500 and oil prices has dropped to the lowest since January this year, mainly because energy stocks have lost much of their significance in the index. The oil price crash that started in 2014 wiped out much of the profits of oil and gas companies, dragging down their share prices and erasing billions…
          Washington Governor Seeks New Taxes as a Court Order Looms   
In an effort to meet a State Supreme Court order, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington has proposed $1.4 billion in new tax revenue, with much of it going to schools....
          As Oysters Die, Climate Policy Goes on the Stump   
In Washington State, where scientists say a rise in carbon levels is killing shellfish, Gov. Jay Inslee is working to pass climate change policies, aided by a billionaire friend....
          India's $20-billion N-plant deal to be reworked   
India’s $20-billion civil nuclear plant deal with bankrupt Westinghouse is being reworked. This will result in the American company branching out into a design and consultation role, while handing out the construction of the facilities to a local partner.
          The End of an Era?   
At the end my last post, I wrote briefly about some signs I noticed that seem to signal the general decline in the American spirit. The economy is in the crapper, unemployment is high, many people have lost their life savings and the government is more unresponsive and corrupt than I have ever seen. I saw first-hand on my trip last month how these things have a negative effect on the individual citizen's and the national collective psyche. The whole country is in a blue funk.

An event happened last week that twisted the knife of despair a bit more; the last US manned space flight mission ended as the Space Shuttle touched down at Kennedy Space Center. It was a good 50 year run that I personally thought would never end.

Final Space Shuttle Landing at Cape Canaveral

I have enough years under my belt to remember most of the manned space program, it was always an interest of mine and I assumed it would always be around to innovate, explore and inspire. Mercury, Gemini and Apollo......those names were known by all and generated excitement all over the world. Obviously, the lunar landings were the pinnacle of the manned missions.

Schematic of Mercury Spacecraft

Original Mercury Astronauts
Gemini Space Capsule
Apollo Schematic
Lunar Excursion Module. Your mobile phone has more computing power than this thing did! Yet they pulled it off!
The Eagle has Landed
Us Americans just HAD to get a car up there

The moon shots would prove hard acts to follow. The Space Shuttle was already on the drawing board during the Apollo program. It was conceived as a vehicle to usher in the next phase of space exploration, sustainability.. The design was to contain many reusable parts. Compared to the sleek Saturn V rockets of the Apollo program, the Shuttle was chunky and utilitarian as befitted its mission of hauling stuff into low Earth orbit.

The Space Shuttle failed to captivate the imagination of the public.The mission was boring but ended up productive.
Saturn V used in the Apollo Program

Saturn V Liftoff, Loud and Sexy!

Predictably, as the excitement and danger of the previous far reaching missions gave way to a "space truck" taking lab rats into low orbit, public interest waned even though a lot of valuable research was done that resulted in many things we take for granted today. The Shuttle program, although productive, just wasn't sexy.

The Space Shuttle needed to be retired. It was old technology even when it was new and proved to be way more troublesome and expensive than imagined. It never achieved the goal of almost monthly launches as envisioned by its architects.We lost two of them, Challenger and Discovery.. Challenger from brittle O rings and Discovery from some bad ceramic heat tiles. Time to put the old girl back in the barn.

Challenger Explosion

What upsets me is that there is no replacement on the horizon. For the first time in 50 years, the US is incapable of sending a human into space. Now we have to hitch a very expensive ride on Russia's Soyuz capsule that was designed in the 1960's. The Soyuz is currently the only game in town.

Russian Soyuz in Orbit
Soyuz Schematic
A Not so Subtle Soyuz Landing in Kazakhstan, Hey, But It Works!!!

Soyuz Post Landing. Vodka consumption  is part of the re-entry checklist.

If they pull the plug on that relic, I hope the last astronaut leaving the multi-billion dollar International Space Station remembers to turn the lights off as it will be awhile before anyone steps foot aboard again.

International Space Station, hide the keys under the doormat when you leave..

The rocket scientists at NASA knew the Shuttle retirement was coming at least 15 years ago and just sat on their hands. Oh, they did waste $9 billion trying to develop potential replacements such as the Constellation and other programs but when things got too difficult for them, progress was not made and the money dried up, they just said "screw it" and went back to whatever rocket scientists do when they are not making rockets. There was much motion but little progress.

Once an Icon,  but has recently lost their way.

NASA has become as bloated and inefficient as the US government so I am not surprised talent and innovation do not thrive there anymore. Too bad, that wasn't the case at one time. It looks like as the NASAsaur fades into irrelevance, we have to look toward the movers and shakers in the private sector to pick up the baton to keep manned space flight alive, Profit is a strong motivator and if there is money in it for these entrepreneurs, they will make it happen. There are already some bright spots on the horizon.

Well, to make a long story short (I know, too late), America's abandonment of its manned space flight program is just another symptom of a general malaise that is lingering in the country.  For 50 years these programs were a source of pride, inspiration, and a large part of America's identity.. The manned space programs motivated people from all over the world to look up to the night sky and maybe forget for a time the dreary details of daily life. We dropped the ball.

It doesn't bother me so much that the Space Shuttle program is no more, its that there were no replacement vehicles seriously considered.  This indicates an abandonment of the pioneer and "can do" attitudes of the past that the US and Americans are known for. Lately it has seemed we are just consumers of Chinese imports, producers of dodgy financial instruments, whiny wards of the State, world policemen and contemplators of our own belly button lint. Not a good path to follow. Remember what happened to Rome when Emperor Nero was plucking his fiddle

 In general, the US has been declining in spirit and purpose for awhile now. Maybe it is the inevitable maturing of a society. We have seen this before with other countries and empires in the past. America's heyday of the 1800s -1900s are over and maybe it is time to take a breather and hopefully we will rediscover the values and drive that made the US and Americans a unique country and culture. I am intolerant of mediocrity and hope that I can see a positive change in my country soon. There is still so much potential there.

          Earth’s Money Casino Visualized!   
The World’s money casino can be visualized below. What is striking is that all the silver in the world is only some 1 billion ounces (say $17 billion dollars @ $17/oz). This reveals why our Deep State wants to suppress the silver price using ‘naked shorts’ on the futures markets. The quantity is so small […]
          A Central Planner’s Perspective on Money, Society, and Economics!   
The MACRO perspective of a Central Planner starts with a viewing of our world at the global and/or planetary level! Planet Earth is one family of 7.4 billion people (now all interconnected)! Our Central Planners must now think of the entire global community as they plan their policies! As consumers and investors we look at […]
          How Homer Simpson, Immigrants – And Yes, Even You – Have All Broken the Law   
From Texas Standard: Remember the Takata airbag scandal? The company’s actions – though they took lives – were not criminal; Takata’s offenses were civil. Nobody went to jail. But the company was fined $1 billion. On the other end of the civil violation spectrum – we could use The Simpsons as an example. Remember watching the episode where Homer's car is in New York City? When he finds it the windshield is covered in parking tickets. Those are civil violations, too. By the way. Screaming out of control and being too noisy in New York City – as in many Texas cities – is also a civil violation. Remodeling your house without a permit is a violation. So is having a garage sale without the appropriate permit. Have you ever been guilty of any of these? Most of us have – sometimes without even knowing. You know what else is a civil violation? Overstaying your visa. So if overstaying a visa is a civil violation why are visa overstayers often called ‘illegals?” What is their crime? "The truth
          Picking a Credit Card In the UK   

Credit card companies are everywhere throughout the world

Credit cards that you get in the UK are the same from whatever other credit cards. The credit card companies offer different motivators to get clients like 0% APR for a particular day and age, no yearly expenses, and you may even have the capacity to apply for the credit cards on the web. Many credit card companies situated in the UK don't give their cards to customers in different nations because of security reasons. In any case, if you live in the UK, then many companies are sure to give you a chance to round out an application to get their particular credit card.

Many companies urge you to apply on the web. They overpower you with advertisements, promising a 60-second endorsement.

Credit card use in the UK can bring about money related issues similarly as it does everywhere throughout the world. Individuals in the UK owe several billions of pounds in credit card obligation at a financing cost of more than 16%, and this figure continues getting ever more elevated. Obligations more than 2500 pounds are regular to 10% of the general population in the UK and consolidated with high loan fees, this figure is close difficult to get the chance to descend.

There are a few advantages to having a credit card that a considerable number of UK shoppers find engaging. A portion of the credit card companies offers cash back with purchases, air miles, travel protection, and protection for your purchases. A credit card looks great to many UK shoppers, particularly when you include the markdown vouchers.

When you choose to apply for a credit card, you ought to research the more major part of your decisions to locate the one that is best for you. When you get it, you should be cautious in utilizing it, or you could end up in money related wreckage. On the off chance that you use your credit card carefully, then you will find that it will make your life less demanding, regardless of what nation you live as are credit cards. A portion of the credit card companies just offers cards to a particular nation or locale that they are in. On the off chance that you live in the UK, then you may require some data about credit cards that are accessible to you.
          Tax The Churches
How Churches Take $71 Billion From Taxpayers

Everyone needs to do right and avoid cheating and other sinful immoral things.  That includes you in the black gown and funny hat.  Pay your share of taxes!
And stop taking money from helpless poor people.
Orange Beach Church Heavily Damaged by Fire

Churches get fire protection and police services just like honest taxpayers.

          Office supplies chain Staples sold for $6.9 billion   
NEW YORK (AP) -- Private equity firm Sycamore is buying office supplies chain Staples for $6.9 billion....
          Correction: Google-Europe story   
The European Union's competition watchdog has slapped a record 2.42 billion euro ($2.72 billion) fine on internet giant Google for breaching antitrust rules with its online shopping service.
          Government Properties to buy First Potomac in $1.4B deal   
Government Properties Income Trust is acquiring First Potomac Realty Trust in a $1.4 billion deal that includes Government Pr -More

          What Do the Grenfell Tower Fire and Hurricane Katrina Have in Common? Disaster Capitalism   
Both catastrophes are case studies in the workings of the shock doctrine.

At first glance, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the devastating blaze at Grenfell Tower in London last week may not seem too similar. But a closer inspection of the circumstances leading to the two tragedies shows a deep connection to the same capitalist theory: the shock doctrine.

The term shock doctrine, also called disaster capitalism, was coined and researched by Naomi Klein in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine. The theory describes the rampant corporatization of the public sector, whether it's schools or housing, in the aftermath of a “shock,” which could come in the form of an economic recession, a terrorist attack or even a natural disaster. Pro-corporate politicians take advantage of the shock and trauma the public experiences when a disaster hits to ram through free market-inspired ideas that strip away the safety net and public services in exchange for corporatization and privatization.

In The Shock Doctrine, Klein uses Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans as a case study in disaster capitalism. Just weeks after the hurricane hit, a group of lobbyists (including Vice President Mike Pence) joined together to formulate a package of privatization and corporate policies that would transform the city’s landscape for the worse. Some of these policies included the rise of charter schools and school vouchers for families at the expense of the city’s public school system as well as the handing off of rebuilding destroyed houses to private contractors who caused more harm than good.

This same pattern could occur following the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed at least 79 people and was the deadliest fire in Britain in a century.

In the days following the blaze, British media outlets revealed that the fire was exacerbated by external material that easily catches fire and facilitated the quick and deadly spread of the flames. A report from the New York Times shows that wrapping the flammable material around apartment buildings like the 24-story Grenfell Tower is actually banned in the U.S. and several European countries. Yet builders still applied the cladding around Grenfell because of a cost-cutting deal made with British politicians; it was determined at the time that the cost concerns outweighed the safety risks posed by the hazardous material.

But the scaffolding was not the only factor contributing to the fire. Grenfell Tower also lacked basic precautionary measures, such as fire alarms, sprinklers and fire escapes. The building contained only a single staircase for its residents. For years, residents of the tower complained and warned authorities about the potential catastrophe awaiting the public housing building. Many residents also charge that the new flammable scaffolding was installed to beautify the building for adjacent, wealthier neighbors.

This failure to care for Grenfell residents, most of whom are among the area’s poorest, resembles the U.S. government's neglect of New Orleans, which multiplied the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina was classified as a Category 3 hurricane once it hit the Gulf Coast, bringing winds up to 100-140 mph. Because New Orleans lies below sea level, it faced particular risks from the hurricane. A system of levees built over the course of the 20th century was supposed to protect the city from mass flooding. However, the levees built to protect neighborhoods from Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne and nearby swamps and marshes were less reliable and weaker than other levees along the Mississippi River. These areas also housed the city’s poorest residents, a majority of whom were black.

For many years, public officials warned about the weakness of the levees and the potential for catastrophic damage if they could not sustain a powerful storm. But the levees were never fixed. The combination of the strength of the storm and the weakened fortification ultimately caused billions of dollars in devastation and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people following the storm.

The buildup to both the Grenfell Tower and Hurricane Katrina disasters poses striking similarities. Gross government oversight and a lack of urgency for protecting poor residents and people of color resulted in devastating disasters that killed many and displaced many more. With Grenfell Tower now in charred ruins, private contractors and money-hungry lobbyists and public officials may see the tragedy the same way Pence and his team of lobbyists viewed the aftermath of Katrina: a grand opportunity for capitalist privatization for the benefit of the rich and at the expense of the poor.


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           How Privatization Could Spell the End of Democracy   
Between Trump and tech, never before have so many powerful people been so intent on transforming government into a business.

It’s a hot day in New York City. You’re thirsty, but your water bottle is empty. So you walk into a store and place your bottle in a machine. You activate the machine with an app on your phone, and it fills your bottle with tap water. Now you are no longer thirsty.

This is the future envisioned by the founders of a startup called Reefill. If the premise sounds oddly familiar, that’s because it is: Reefill has reinvented the water fountain as a Bluetooth-enabled subscription service. Customers pay $1.99 a month for the privilege of using its machines, located at participating businesses around Manhattan.

Predictably, the company has already come in for its fair share of ridicule. In Slate, Henry Grabar called it “tap water in a suit”. But while Reefill is a particularly cartoonish example, its basic business model is a popular one within tech. The playbook is simple: take a public service and build a private, app-powered version of it.

he most obvious examples are Uber and Lyft, which aspire not merely to eliminate the taxi industry, but to replace public transportation. They’re slowly succeeding: municipalities around America are now subsidizing ride-hailing fares instead of running public buses. And earlier this year, Lyft began offering a fixed-route, flat-rate service called Lyft Shuttle in Chicago and San Francisco – an aggressive bid to poach more riders from public transit.

These companies wouldn’t have customers if better public alternatives existed. It can be hard to find a water fountain in Manhattan, and public transit in American cities ranges from mediocre to nonexistent. But solving these problems by ceding them to the private sector ensures that public services will continue to deteriorate until they disappear.

Decades of defunding and outsourcing have already pushed public services to the brink. Now, fortified with piles of investor cash and the smartphone, tech companies are trying to finish them off.

Proponents of privatization believe this is a good thing. For years, they have advanced the argument that business will always perform a given task better than government, whether it’s running buses or schools, supplying healthcare or housing. The public sector is sclerotic, wasteful and undisciplined by the profit motive. The private sector is dynamic, innovative and, above all, efficient.

This belief has become common sense in political life. It is widely shared by the country’s elite, and has guided much policymaking over the past several decades. But like most of our governing myths, it collapses on closer inspection.

No word is invoked more frequently or more fervently by apostles of privatization than efficiency. Yet this is a strange basis on which to build their case, given the fact that public services are often more efficient than private ones. Take healthcare. The United States has one of the least efficient systems on the planet: we spend more money on healthcare than anyone else, and in return we receive some of the worst health outcomes in the west. Not coincidentally, we also have the most privatized healthcare system in the advanced world. By contrast, the UK spends a fraction of what we do and achieves far better results. It also happens to provision healthcare as a public service. Somehow, the absence of the profit motive has not produced an epidemic of inefficiency in British healthcare. Meanwhile, we pay nearly $10,000 per capita and a staggering 17% of our GDP to achieve a life expectancy somewhere between that of Costa Rica and Cuba.

A profit-driven system doesn’t mean we get more for our money – it means someone gets to make more money off of us. The healthcare industry posts record profits and rewards its chief executives with the highest salaries in the country. It takes a peculiar frame of mind to see this arrangement as anything resembling efficient.

Attacking public services on the grounds of efficiency isn’t just incorrect, however – it’s beside the point. Decades of neoliberalism have corroded our capacity to think in non-economic terms. We’ve been taught that all fields of human life should be organized as markets, and that government should be run like a business. This ideology has found its perverse culmination in the figure of Donald Trump, a celebrity billionaire with no prior political experience who catapulted himself into the White House by invoking his expertise as an businessman. The premise of Trump’s campaign was that America didn’t need a president – it needed a CEO.

Nowhere is the neoliberal faith embodied by Trump more deeply felt than in Silicon Valley. Tech entrepreneurs work tirelessly to turn more of our lives into markets and devote enormous resources towards “disrupting” government by privatizing its functions. Perhaps this is why, despite Silicon Valley’s veneer of liberal cosmopolitanism, it has a certain affinity for the president. On Monday, Trump met with top executives from Apple, Amazon, Google and other major tech firms to explore how to “unleash the creativity of the private sector to provide citizen services”, in the words of Jared Kushner. Between Trump and tech, never before have so many powerful people been so intent on transforming government into a business.

But government isn’t a business; it’s a different kind of machine. At its worst, it can be repressive and corrupt and autocratic. At its best, it can be an invaluable tool for developing and sustaining a democratic society. Among other things, this includes ensuring that everyone receives the resources they need to exercise the freedoms on which democracy depends. When we privatize public services, we don’t just risk replacing them with less efficient alternatives – we risk damaging democracy itself.

If this seems like a stretch, that’s because pundits and politicians have spent decades defining the idea of democracy downwards. It has come to mean little more than holding elections every few years. But this is the absolute minimum of democracy’s meaning. Its Greek root translates to “rule of the people” – not rule by certain people, such as the rich (plutocracy) or the priests (theocracy), but by all people. Democracy describes a way of organizing society in which the whole of the people determine how society should be organized.

What does this have to do with buses or schools or hospitals or houses? In a democracy, everyone gets to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. But that’s impossible if people don’t have access to the goods they need to survive – if they’re hungry or homeless or sick. And the reality is that when goods are rationed by the market, fewer people have access to them. Markets are places of winners and losers. You don’t get what you need – you get what you can afford.

By contrast, public services offer a more equitable way to satisfy basic needs. By taking things off the market, government can democratize access to the resources that people rely on to lead reasonably dignified lives. Those resources can be offered cheap or free, funded by progressive taxation. They can also be managed by publicly accountable institutions led by elected officials, or subject to more direct mechanisms of popular control.

These ideas are considered wildly radical in American politics. Yet other places around the world have implemented them with great success. When Oxfam surveyed more than 100 countries, they discovered that public services significantly reduce economic inequality. They shrink the distance between rich and poor by lowering the cost of living. They empower working people by making their survival less dependent on their bosses and landlords and creditors. Perhaps most importantly, they entitle citizens to a share of society’s wealth and a say over how it’s used.

But where will the money come from? This is the perennial question, posed whenever someone suggests raising the welfare state above a whisper. Fortunately, it has a simple answer. The United States is the richest country in the history of the world. It is so rich, in fact, that its richest people can afford to pour billions of dollars into a company such as Uber, which loses billions of dollars each year, in the hopes of getting just a little bit richer. In the face of such extravagance, diverting a modest portion of the prosperity we produce in common toward services that benefit everyone shouldn’t be controversial. It’s a small price to pay for making democracy mean more than a hollow slogan, or a sick joke.




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          UBER rich   
And now the Wall Street automotive report, sponsored by Country Saab.

Al Gore started it, Bush approved it and Obama signed it.

Last week, the US government approved a $528 million loan from the U.S. Energy Department to Fisker Automotive Group, a start up automotive company based in California.

The car Americans are investing in costs $89,000, reach top speeds over 150MPH and go 330 miles without a charge.

A Toyota Prius for the UBER rich.

Production is being planned in Finland some 4200 miles away from Washington DC.

But no worries folks, the 528 million are part of the billions in TARP funds we put on the coffee table sometime last November.

They say good things happen to those that show up... Fisker wasted no time, with check in hand even Walt Disney couldn’t top the joy Fisker executives experienced on their way home.

This is Robb LoForese
          Three Reasons, Three Nos   
The following is the audio transcript from “Wall Street Automotive” – WTBQ - NY Radio 1110AM / 99.1 FM – show dated December 13, 2008.

Following a debate on loan guarantees for the big three:

VO: Robb

“As we all remember, in 1979-1980, Chrysler requested $1.5 billion in Federal loan guarantees. The structure of these Federal loan guarantees was underscored to provide "Chapter 11" type restructuring opportunities without its filling. [there was strings attached] Congress required Chrysler to obtain private financing for the $1.5 billion they were seeking (the government was co-signing the note, not printing the money) and Chrysler was also required to obtain another $2 billion in "commitments or concessions" for the financing of its operations. In essence most of Chrysler’s suppliers, union workers and contractors were forced to re-negotiate with Chrysler in order to assure their own viability. Some of Chrysler's suppliers accepted ten cents on each dollar rather than to loose Chrysler as a client.

Lee Iacocca stated openly "equality of sacrifice" and most Americans bought into his sales-man-ship, after all Mr. Iacocca spoke not of a pending doom, rather he talked to the opportunities to lead and how each and every American can participate in his turn-around. The loan was paid, the K-Car and the Mini-Van was created and Chrysler was on a roll again and Mr. Iacocca was an American hero.

Today (concerning) Chrysler

81% of Chrysler is owned by Cerberus Capital LLC, a privately owned company with over 100 billion dollars in assets. If you go to Cerberus' web page and read their mission statement its clear they are experts in turning under performing companies around, this is what they do, this is why they purchased Chrysler in the first place. It’s clear from Congressional hearings Chrysler's CEO Bob Nardelli has made no effort to tap into Cerberus capital quoting “loaning money to Chrysler would represent a conflict of interest with other Cerberus investments”.

Back in July 2008, when the price of oil started to escalate, Chrysler had over 71% of its production focused on trucks and SUV type vehicles, Chrysler's only objective was to make fast money, paying less attention to customer driven products, quality and its own future.

Giving Chrysler federal government money without the parent company participating, flat out no.

(concerning) General Motors:

This is easier, let’s just outline the following brands: Pontiac, Buick, Saturn, Hummer, and GMC. GM may be illustrating different brands representing different social milieus, however the truth is GM’s real reasons for its many brands was focused on the rewards of critical mass, shared platforms, common components - looking ahead only to increase its operating margins. GM’s critical mass approach became obvious to most consumers back in the mid 1970's and became chronic in the 1990's as overlapping carlines between its brands became more and more obvious.

Sometime during the early 2000's GM tried to turn this around, however most consumers simply got tired of waiting and found Honda's, Toyota's and other Asian brands most welcome to fill their automotive needs.

The loss of consumer brand loyalty between GM's divisions was rapid, and continues to this day.

Giving General Motors federal government money without a clean sheet business plan, flat out no.

(concerning) Ford Motor Company:

Without going into too much detail here, I have the most faith in Alan Mulally, an outsider to the auto industry. Ford has capital today only because it borrowed some money last year. Ford is a smaller "ocean liner" in the automotive sea and can maneuver faster even during these turbulent times.

Ford appears stronger; however their appearance is more about their financial condition rather than their products or consumer demand. So short term Ford looks like it has some viability, however the next 24 months future car launches will prove their real strength. The most successful, efficient and modern automotive assembly plant is owned by Ford in Brazil, look for this trend to continue.

Additionally, I anticipate Ford will sell Volvo within 60 days, this will raise $3 - $4 billion dollars to the balance sheet, at the same time anticipate a more robust common stock as well, as GM share holders flee to more stable ownerships.

Giving Ford federal government money when they haven't really asked for it, flat out no.

So there it is, three reasons, three nos.

Without loans anticipate Chrysler being the first to go Chapter 11, Cerberus shows least sincerity and care and Bob Nardelli (the same person that almost drove Home-depot to the ground) is (in my opinion) a terrible leader.

GM will survive - Chevy is GM's Honda if managed properly. GM will be smaller, leaner, more global than ever before, it may take some time and some relocation of assembly plants, but I'm confident GM will be around for another 100 years.

As discussed Ford appears to have already taken some measures on a turn around, suppliers and UAW negotiations will hang on Chrysler and GM's fate”.
          American Innocence   
The origins of oil production in the United States can be traced back to Titusville, Pennsylvania 1859. John D. Rockefeller turned oil into a “Standard” household name.

The origins of oil production in the Middle East can be traced back to Persia in 1908. King Ibn Saud, founder of modern Saudi Arabia was somewhat understated in his quest for oil.

Early Saudi oil production was similar to hosting a dinner party... foreign dignitaries came hungry and the Middle East was quick to learn how to entertain.

One Ford assembly plant and industrial revolution later, America's appetite for oil increased dramatically. World War I and II would prove to be the "coming out" parties for oil as a strategic tool - however it would take a Baby Boom to define oil as a real means to enjoy life.

The term "oil crisis" was founded in 1973 - members of OPEC announced, as a result of the Yom Kippur War, they would no longer ship oil to nations who had supported Israel in its conflict with Syria and Egypt.

Gas lines formed – American’s demanded answers!

Then, like a passing thunderstorm, the lines stopped and oil shined upon us once again.

The 1979 (or second) oil crisis began in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and the Ayatollah Khomeini taking control. The Ayatollah's immediate interest wasn’t oil, so he shut it down and unwittingly started a widespread panic among Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations. The immediate concern was Iran's stability and willingness as an oil partner. As Mid East oil production stalled - prices rose and shortages, either planned or accidential, were on the horizon.

Gas lines formed and once again American’s demanded answers!

Then, as before, the lines stopped and oil was everywhere.

Today, April fools day, Congress met with top executives of the country’s five biggest oil companies and pressed them to explain why they should continue to get billions of dollars in tax breaks when they made $123 billion last year and motorists are paying record gasoline prices at the pump.

Tomorrow we shall demand answers!

American innocence is applauded, the era of cheep oil is over.
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           Oprah abandons broadcast TV for a life in cable: Oprah, we need to talk...   

Just this Monday Sarah Palin told Oprah she was "the queen of talk shows." Which might mean there's no better time to abdicate the throne than when you're clearly on top (and when the #2 talk show, Dr. Phil is produced by you).

But Oprah didn't just announce that when she wraps her 25th season in 2011 she will wrap the show for good. No, she announced that she would also begin the next chapter in her mega-successful life: she's going to move to cable. Her cable network, titled OWN, for Oprah Winfrey Network, was actually announced some time ago, so while that's not news, the fact that Ms. Winfrey is moving away from daytime television's most-watched show to build a fledgling cable network is an eyebrow-raiser.

Because cable TV is no safe haven away from the woes of broadcasters.

Audiences are fragmenting, cable TV is having a harder and harder time maintaining viewers in the face of the DVR and Hulu one-two punch. In fact, OWN was supposed to be up and running this winter but was postponed because of the challenging advertiser climate. It's a climate that's not going to get dramatically better even if our economy continues to improve. That's because advertisers have many alternatives for their advertising dollars, including the Internet, where more and more spending is shifting every day, reaching nearly $26 billion this year (see our July 2009 Interactive Marketing Forecast report for more detail).

Read more

Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers Book 2
by Addison Cole

Genre: Sweet with Heat Standalone Romance

Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers features a group of fun, flirty, and emotional friends who gather each summer at their Cape Cod cottages. They're sassy, flawed, and so easy to relate to, you'll be begging to enter their circle of friends!

Dreaming at Seaside is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster's steamy romance novel Seaside Dreams. The stories and characters remain the same, and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.

Bella Abbascia has returned to Seaside Cottages in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, as she does every summer. Only this year, Bella has more on her mind than sunbathing and skinny-dipping with her girlfriends. She's quit her job, put her house on the market, and sworn off relationships while she builds a new life in her favorite place on earth. That is, until good-time Bella's prank takes a bad turn and a handsome police officer appears on the scene.

Single father and police officer Caden Grant left Boston with his fourteen-year-old son, Evan, after his partner was killed in the line of duty. He hopes to find a safer life in the small resort town of Wellfleet, and when he meets Bella during a night patrol shift, he realizes he's found the one thing he'd never allowed himself to hope for--or even realized he was missing.

After fourteen years of focusing solely on his son, Caden cannot resist the intense attraction he feels toward beautiful Bella, and Bella's powerless to fight the heat of their budding romance. But starting over proves more difficult than either of them imagined, and when Evan gets mixed up with the wrong kids, Caden's loyalty is put to the test. Will he give up everything to protect his son--even Bella?

“Bella? Are you here for the summer, or do you live here?”

She stacked the chocolate on top of a graham cracker, added the warm marshmallow, and then topped it off with another graham cracker. She stared at it for a minute before cocking her head in his direction and answering.

“I’m here until the s’mores run out.”

Then let me run to the store for more marshmallows.

She took a bite of the gooey treat and licked a streak of chocolate from her lower lip. She had a dab of marshmallow on her cheek, and once again, it felt natural to reach over and wipe it clean with his finger.

Bella narrowed her eyes. Oops. There was that invisible boundary again. Maybe she wasn’t into him after all.

“I was saving that for later,” she said. With her back to Evan, who was preoccupied with his own dessert, she grabbed his hand and brought it to her mouth. His pulse quickened with the expectation of a sensually evocative suck. With wide, amused eyes, she turned his finger sideways and nibbled the sticky marshmallow off like it was corn on the cob.

“I’ll teach you not to steal my sugar. Open up.” She shoved the s’more toward his mouth.

“No, that’s okay.” He leaned out of reach to tease her.

“Come on. No one can resist s’mores.” She leaned in closer, holding the s’more to his lips. Her knee pressed against his thigh. “You know you want it.”

Yeah, I do. He took a bite of the sweet, sticky treat. Heat flashed in Bella’s eyes as she dragged her finger along the edge of his lower lip and held it up to show him the smear of chocolate before she slowly, seductively, sucked her finger clean.

Holy. Moly.

Beautiful, smart, and sexier than any woman he’d ever met. Bella piqued curiosities and desires that had been slumbering for way too long.


(Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers Book 1)

Dreaming at Seaside is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster's steamy romance novel Seaside Dreams. The stories and characters remain the same, and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.

Bella Abbascia has returned to Seaside Cottages in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, as she does every summer. Only this year, Bella has more on her mind than sunbathing and skinny-dipping with her girlfriends. She's quit her job, put her house on the market, and sworn off relationships while she builds a new life in her favorite place on earth. That is, until good-time Bella's prank takes a bad turn and a handsome police officer appears on the scene.

Single father and police officer Caden Grant left Boston with his fourteen-year-old son, Evan, after his partner was killed in the line of duty. He hopes to find a safer life in the small resort town of Wellfleet, and when he meets Bella during a night patrol shift, he realizes he's found the one thing he'd never allowed himself to hope for--or even realized he was missing.

After fourteen years of focusing solely on his son, Caden cannot resist the intense attraction he feels toward beautiful Bella, and Bella's powerless to fight the heat of their budding romance. But starting over proves more difficult than either of them imagined, and when Evan gets mixed up with the wrong kids, Caden's loyalty is put to the test. Will he give up everything to protect his son--even Bella?

(Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers Book 3)
July 19, 2017

Hearts at Seaside by Addison Cole is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster's steamy romance novel Seaside Hearts. The stories and characters remain the same and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.


Jenna Ward is vivacious, spontaneous, and confident—except when she’s around the man who stole her heart years earlier, strikingly handsome, quiet, and reliable Pete Lacroux. After years of trying to get his attention and overwhelmed from dealing with her mother’s new cougar lifestyle, Jenna’s giving up on Peter—and is ready to explore other men.

As the eldest of five siblings, with an alcoholic father to care for, boat craftsman Pete Lacroux always does the right thing and has no time for a real relationship. He’s looking forward to seeing his friend Jenna, a welcome distraction who’s so sexy and painfully shy that she equally entertains and confuses him.

When Jenna picks up a hard-bodied construction worker, jealousy ignites Pete’s true feelings, and he’s unable to ignore the desires for Jenna he never realized he had. But Pete’s not the quiet guy he appears to be, and his life is anything but conducive to a relationship. Can Jenna handle the real Pete Lacroux—the most alpha male she’s ever seen—or will she crack under pressure? And can Pete reclaim the life he once had without tearing apart his family?

(Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers Book 4)August 23, 2017

Sunsets at Seaside by Addison Cole is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster's steamy romance novel Seaside Sunsets. The stories and characters remain the same, and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.

Jessica Ayers has lived a sheltered life with little more than cello lessons and practices taking up her day. Now a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she escapes the prim and proper symphony to vacation in the Seaside community in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, to determine if she is living life to the fullest or missing it altogether.

For the first time since developing the second largest search engine in the world, billionaire Jamie Reed is taking the summer off. He plans to work from the Cape and spend time with his elderly grandmother—and falling in love is not in his plans.

From the moment Jamie and Jessica meet, the attraction is white-hot. Once-overly-focused Jamie can think of little else than sweet, smart, and alluring Jessica, and Jessica discovers a side of herself she never knew existed. But when Jamie’s business encounters trouble and his attorney and best friend intervenes, he proves that the brown-haired beauty is too distracting for Jamie. To make matters worse, it appears that Jessica might not be who she says she is, turning Jamie’s life—and his heart—upside down. In a world where personal information is always one click away, Jamie must decide if he should trust his heart or watch the woman he loves walk away.

(Love in Bloom: Seaside Summers Book 1)

Seaside Summers is a series of stand-alone romances that may also be enjoyed as part of the larger series.

IN SEASIDE DREAMS... Bella Abbascia has returned to Seaside Cottages in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, as she does every summer. Only this year, Bella has more on her mind than sunbathing and skinny-dipping with her girlfriends. She's quit her job, put her house on the market, and sworn off relationships while she builds a new life in her favorite place on earth. That is, until good-time Bella's prank takes a bad turn and a sinfully sexy police officer appears on the scene.

Single father and police officer Caden Grant left Boston with his fourteen-year-old son, Evan, after his partner was killed in the line of duty. He hopes to find a safer life in the small resort town of Wellfleet, and when he meets Bella during a night patrol shift, he realizes he's found the one thing he'd never allowed himself to hope for--or even realized he was missing.

After fourteen years of focusing solely on his son, Caden cannot resist the intense attraction he feels toward beautiful Bella, and Bella's powerless to fight the heat of their budding romance. But starting over proves more difficult than either of them imagined, and when Evan gets mixed up with the wrong kids, Caden's loyalty is put to the test. Will he give up everything to protect his son--even Bella?

SIGN UP for ADDISON'S Sweet with Heat newsletter. Fun, flirty romance with a dash of heat.

Addison Cole is the sweet alter ego of New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Melissa Foster. She writes humorous and emotional sweet contemporary romance. Her books do not include explicit sex scenes or harsh language. Addison spends her summers on Cape Cod, where she dreams up wonderful love stories in her house overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

Addison enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Addison’s books are available in paperback, digital, and audio formats.


Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers Book 2
by Addison Cole

Genre: Sweet with Heat Standalone Romance

Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers features a group of fun, flirty, and emotional friends who gather each summer at their Cape Cod cottages. They're sassy, flawed, and so easy to relate to, you'll be begging to enter their circle of friends!

Dreaming at Seaside is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster's steamy romance novel Seaside Dreams. The stories and characters remain the same, and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.

Bella Abbascia has returned to Seaside Cottages in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, as she does every summer. Only this year, Bella has more on her mind than sunbathing and skinny-dipping with her girlfriends. She's quit her job, put her house on the market, and sworn off relationships while she builds a new life in her favorite place on earth. That is, until good-time Bella's prank takes a bad turn and a handsome police officer appears on the scene.

Single father and police officer Caden Grant left Boston with his fourteen-year-old son, Evan, after his partner was killed in the line of duty. He hopes to find a safer life in the small resort town of Wellfleet, and when he meets Bella during a night patrol shift, he realizes he's found the one thing he'd never allowed himself to hope for--or even realized he was missing.

After fourteen years of focusing solely on his son, Caden cannot resist the intense attraction he feels toward beautiful Bella, and Bella's powerless to fight the heat of their budding romance. But starting over proves more difficult than either of them imagined, and when Evan gets mixed up with the wrong kids, Caden's loyalty is put to the test. Will he give up everything to protect his son--even Bella?

“Bella? Are you here for the summer, or do you live here?”

She stacked the chocolate on top of a graham cracker, added the warm marshmallow, and then topped it off with another graham cracker. She stared at it for a minute before cocking her head in his direction and answering.

“I’m here until the s’mores run out.”

Then let me run to the store for more marshmallows.

She took a bite of the gooey treat and licked a streak of chocolate from her lower lip. She had a dab of marshmallow on her cheek, and once again, it felt natural to reach over and wipe it clean with his finger.

Bella narrowed her eyes. Oops. There was that invisible boundary again. Maybe she wasn’t into him after all.

“I was saving that for later,” she said. With her back to Evan, who was preoccupied with his own dessert, she grabbed his hand and brought it to her mouth. His pulse quickened with the expectation of a sensually evocative suck. With wide, amused eyes, she turned his finger sideways and nibbled the sticky marshmallow off like it was corn on the cob.

“I’ll teach you not to steal my sugar. Open up.” She shoved the s’more toward his mouth.

“No, that’s okay.” He leaned out of reach to tease her.

“Come on. No one can resist s’mores.” She leaned in closer, holding the s’more to his lips. Her knee pressed against his thigh. “You know you want it.”

Yeah, I do. He took a bite of the sweet, sticky treat. Heat flashed in Bella’s eyes as she dragged her finger along the edge of his lower lip and held it up to show him the smear of chocolate before she slowly, seductively, sucked her finger clean.

Holy. Moly.

Beautiful, smart, and sexier than any woman he’d ever met. Bella piqued curiosities and desires that had been slumbering for way too long.


(Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers Book 1)

Dreaming at Seaside is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster's steamy romance novel Seaside Dreams. The stories and characters remain the same, and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.

Bella Abbascia has returned to Seaside Cottages in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, as she does every summer. Only this year, Bella has more on her mind than sunbathing and skinny-dipping with her girlfriends. She's quit her job, put her house on the market, and sworn off relationships while she builds a new life in her favorite place on earth. That is, until good-time Bella's prank takes a bad turn and a handsome police officer appears on the scene.

Single father and police officer Caden Grant left Boston with his fourteen-year-old son, Evan, after his partner was killed in the line of duty. He hopes to find a safer life in the small resort town of Wellfleet, and when he meets Bella during a night patrol shift, he realizes he's found the one thing he'd never allowed himself to hope for--or even realized he was missing.

After fourteen years of focusing solely on his son, Caden cannot resist the intense attraction he feels toward beautiful Bella, and Bella's powerless to fight the heat of their budding romance. But starting over proves more difficult than either of them imagined, and when Evan gets mixed up with the wrong kids, Caden's loyalty is put to the test. Will he give up everything to protect his son--even Bella?

(Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers Book 3)
July 19, 2017

Hearts at Seaside by Addison Cole is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster's steamy romance novel Seaside Hearts. The stories and characters remain the same and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.


Jenna Ward is vivacious, spontaneous, and confident—except when she’s around the man who stole her heart years earlier, strikingly handsome, quiet, and reliable Pete Lacroux. After years of trying to get his attention and overwhelmed from dealing with her mother’s new cougar lifestyle, Jenna’s giving up on Peter—and is ready to explore other men.

As the eldest of five siblings, with an alcoholic father to care for, boat craftsman Pete Lacroux always does the right thing and has no time for a real relationship. He’s looking forward to seeing his friend Jenna, a welcome distraction who’s so sexy and painfully shy that she equally entertains and confuses him.

When Jenna picks up a hard-bodied construction worker, jealousy ignites Pete’s true feelings, and he’s unable to ignore the desires for Jenna he never realized he had. But Pete’s not the quiet guy he appears to be, and his life is anything but conducive to a relationship. Can Jenna handle the real Pete Lacroux—the most alpha male she’s ever seen—or will she crack under pressure? And can Pete reclaim the life he once had without tearing apart his family?

(Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers Book 4)August 23, 2017

Sunsets at Seaside by Addison Cole is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster's steamy romance novel Seaside Sunsets. The stories and characters remain the same, and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.

Jessica Ayers has lived a sheltered life with little more than cello lessons and practices taking up her day. Now a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she escapes the prim and proper symphony to vacation in the Seaside community in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, to determine if she is living life to the fullest or missing it altogether.

For the first time since developing the second largest search engine in the world, billionaire Jamie Reed is taking the summer off. He plans to work from the Cape and spend time with his elderly grandmother—and falling in love is not in his plans.

From the moment Jamie and Jessica meet, the attraction is white-hot. Once-overly-focused Jamie can think of little else than sweet, smart, and alluring Jessica, and Jessica discovers a side of herself she never knew existed. But when Jamie’s business encounters trouble and his attorney and best friend intervenes, he proves that the brown-haired beauty is too distracting for Jamie. To make matters worse, it appears that Jessica might not be who she says she is, turning Jamie’s life—and his heart—upside down. In a world where personal information is always one click away, Jamie must decide if he should trust his heart or watch the woman he loves walk away.

(Love in Bloom: Seaside Summers Book 1)

Seaside Summers is a series of stand-alone romances that may also be enjoyed as part of the larger series.

IN SEASIDE DREAMS... Bella Abbascia has returned to Seaside Cottages in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, as she does every summer. Only this year, Bella has more on her mind than sunbathing and skinny-dipping with her girlfriends. She's quit her job, put her house on the market, and sworn off relationships while she builds a new life in her favorite place on earth. That is, until good-time Bella's prank takes a bad turn and a sinfully sexy police officer appears on the scene.

Single father and police officer Caden Grant left Boston with his fourteen-year-old son, Evan, after his partner was killed in the line of duty. He hopes to find a safer life in the small resort town of Wellfleet, and when he meets Bella during a night patrol shift, he realizes he's found the one thing he'd never allowed himself to hope for--or even realized he was missing.

After fourteen years of focusing solely on his son, Caden cannot resist the intense attraction he feels toward beautiful Bella, and Bella's powerless to fight the heat of their budding romance. But starting over proves more difficult than either of them imagined, and when Evan gets mixed up with the wrong kids, Caden's loyalty is put to the test. Will he give up everything to protect his son--even Bella?

SIGN UP for ADDISON'S Sweet with Heat newsletter. Fun, flirty romance with a dash of heat.

Addison Cole is the sweet alter ego of New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Melissa Foster. She writes humorous and emotional sweet contemporary romance. Her books do not include explicit sex scenes or harsh language. Addison spends her summers on Cape Cod, where she dreams up wonderful love stories in her house overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

Addison enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Addison’s books are available in paperback, digital, and audio formats.

          Production Operator - VWR - Richmond, BC   
With sales in excess of $4.3 billion in 2015, VWR enables science for customers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, industrial, education, government and...
From VWR - Tue, 06 Jun 2017 22:15:33 GMT - View all Richmond, BC jobs
          Single-payer health insurance: Is it dead?   
Can California enact single-payer universal health insurance? It's a $400 billion question.
          Earth started 4.4 billion years ago as a flat, barren water world, scientists say -   
Ancient rocks in Australia suggest early Earth was flat, barren and mostly under water. The vast seas were interrupted by only a handful of small islands 4.4 billion years ago. Researchers determined the composition of early Earth by analyzing zircon mineral grains trapped  …
          The $9 Billion Witness | Rolling Stone   
She tried to stay quiet, she really did. But after eight years of keeping a heavy secret, the day came when Alayne Fleischmann couldn't take it anymore.  "It was like watching an old lady get mugged on the street," she says. "I thought, 'I can't sit by any  …
          U.K. Suit Against BNY Mellon on Argentine Debt -   
A group of hedge funds holding EUR1.3 billion ($1.71 billion) of Argentine government bonds has filed suit against the U.S. bank charged with overseeing payments to the nation's bond investors, seeking to gain access to interest payments they are owed.
          Office supplies chain Staples sold for $6.9 billion   
NEW YORK (AP) -- Private equity firm Sycamore is buying office supplies chain Staples for $6.9 billion....
          Microsoft exploits tax loopholes to dodge paying income taxes   

Microsoft, the software titan familiar to most Americans, has benefited handsomely from using loopholes in the federal tax code to avoid paying its fair share of corporate income taxes. The corporation has avoided paying $4.5 billion in U.S. income taxes in recent years, according to evidence presented by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI). ...

The post Microsoft exploits tax loopholes to dodge paying income taxes appeared first on The Progressive Pulse.

          Closing tax loopholes would be a step closer towards corporations paying their fair share   

The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (S. 1533) would raise about $220 billion over the next decade by closing tax loopholes that encourage U.S. corporations to move jobs, profits and operations offshore and allow them to not pay their fair share of taxes.  As my colleague has noted, these costly tax breaks are undermining our ...

The post Closing tax loopholes would be a step closer towards corporations paying their fair share appeared first on The Progressive Pulse.

          Curbing foreign tax havens would strengthen federal budget   

Blog contribution provided by Tazra Mitchell, Public Policy Analyst with the NC Budget and Tax Center The federal budget process would become a bit more stable and predictable if the recently introduced Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act is enacted. This bill, which has been introduced by Senator Carl Levin, would raise at least $200 billion over the ...

The post Curbing foreign tax havens would strengthen federal budget appeared first on The Progressive Pulse.

          Walmart Workers Can't Be Paid Much More    
Sorry for the quiet around here. We've been busy with real projects. But to keep the lights on I thought I'd re-post something I wrote on Facebook that got long enough to be of bloggish length. It's not normal subject matter for us, but it is related to some these we discuss from time to time. It concerns Justin Fox's claim that low wages for employees of corporations like Walmart are a "social decision" distinct from economic logic. I think he's right, but not really in the way that he means.

There's a much better way to get at this. Walmart and other low-end retailers are both producers (of goods/distribution of goods) and consumers (of labor). Their business model is to forego some of their producer surplus (hence the very low profit margin, around 3% of revenues) in order to boost volume. Per store, Walmart makes around $1.4 million/year... it's just that they have over 10,500 stores so their overall profits (~$15bn) sound impressive and their revenues (~$450bn) are astounding.

If you considered each store as its own "small business" you'd wonder what the hell they were doing, because to staff those stores they have to hire a ton of people to accommodate all that volume. That's why this model only works at scale. To maintain even a 3% profit margin they have to extract some of their workers' producer surplus to make up for the surplus they have given to consumers to capture market share. This is what a high volume/low margin business looks like. It's even more severe at Amazon. But they don't capture as much of their workers' surplus as people think.

Walmart's stores are staffed on average by about 300 people who make on average $12.67 per hour or ~$25k/year if they work full-time and take two weeks of unpaid vacation. $1.4mn profit per store /300 workers = ~$4,500. So that's how much surplus value Walmart is "extracting" from labor, if you don't factor in anything else like retaining earnings, paying shareholders, investing in new stores/products, etc. That's a lot of trouble to make a measly $1.4mn! The only way it makes sense (for shareholders) is if volume is HUGE. Which it is. Since the shareholders are relatively concentrated -- six Waltons own nearly half of the shares -- they make a killing. But it's practically all volume.

Anyway, $3k or so is the upper limit of how much more each worker could earn under the current business model. Say it's the difference between $25k and $30k. That's certainly not nothing, but it does not represent such a qualitative difference in standard of living that anyone would consider Walmart employees to be well-paid if they all got the full $4,500.

So what else could be done other to increase that $4,500/year? Walmart could claw back some of their producer surplus from consumers by raising prices and using the proceeds to raise wages, which would constitute a simple redistribution from customers to employees assuming no money taken by management/ownership and completely inelastic consumer demand. Both assumptions are pretty heroic in this case. That would basically just shuffle cash from some poor people (Walmart's customers) to other poor people (Walmart's employees). Or they could reduce margins even further, but 3% is already pretty thin. Or they could raise margins by paying their suppliers (e.g. poor Chinese workers) even less, and give the extra profits to their American workers. They could redistribute salaries from management -- their CEO makes $20 million to manage a company with $450 billion in revenues -- but Walmart employs over 2 million people... we're talking 10 bucks per worker per year if the CEO was paid nothing at all.

So any redistributionary choice that would fundamentally change the situation would seem to involve deciding which group of poor people are made worse off: Walmart's customers, its employees, or its suppliers. The political equilibrium right now is a mix of employees and suppliers. Changing policy -- say, by raising the minimum wage -- involves changing two of those variables: one goes up, one goes down. There's just not enough cash which can be taken from management to make all that much of a difference on a per worker basis, even if you reduced managements' salaries to $0 and retained no profits for future investments or any other purpose. And per-worker profit is so low that there's a pretty firm limit on how much more they can be paid.

Now, Walmart's business model of extremely high volume at very low margins does not represent the entire economy, although I see a number of trends pushing more and more of the retail economy in that direction, so this logic won't always apply. But it's about as close to the competitive equilibrium models of econ 101 as contemporary markets get. So if there was ever a case to be made that wages are social decisions rather than economic decisions -- and there is, although I'd prefer "political decisions" over who captures the producer and consumer surplus to "social decisions", which just sounds slippery -- Walmart probably isn't the best example for Fox to use.

UPDATE: Tyler Cowen's column today speaks to a related issue: the politics of wealth vs income.
          A Brief Theory of the Great Stagnation   
World War II left industrialized societies with two main features: a lot of industrial capacity, and a lot of dead men. These combined to drive up wages for workers, and for cultural and pragmatic (high wages mean no need for dual income households; high fertility was encouraged to replenish the population) reasons workers were overwhelmingly men. The marginal unit of labor was thus very valuable and labor supply was restricted since the baby boom generation needed twenty or so years to grow up.

By the end of the 1960s the baby boomers were entering the workforce but industrial capacity had not grown at the same rate as the population. Thus, new entrants into labor markets -- which increasingly included women and minorities as well as young white men -- put downward pressure on wages. The marginal unit of labor was no longer very valuable. Median wages began to stagnate at the same time that over-crowding of cities was leading to social unrest. Governments did not do a good job of managing these duel pressures. The 1970s are a period of stagflation and urban decline.

The post-baby boom economy has lots of labor, so income gains are not broadly shared. Who benefits? Those who can sell the product of their labor into the biggest markets. That means the heads of major corporations, financiers, professional atheletes. The rise of information technology increases these opportunities, but only for a minority. Think of these as the prominent nodes in a network.

This isn't so much capital-versus-labor anymore. The beneficiaries aren't the landed elite or the factory owner. Instead, the beneficiaries are those in managerial positions in large corporations, those who are able to leverage technical education to create consumer products that are popular, and those who are very good (or not so good, as the case may be) at managing peoples' money. That is... it's labor. It's labor that has put itself in a central position in the economic network of late-capitalism. Michael Jordan didn't become a multimillionaire by extracting the surplus value of anyone else's labor. He did it by selling his own labor to millions of people simultaneously, and then leveraging his celebrity to move into high positions in the corporate hierarchy. Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire by giving his product away for free. Steven Spielberg gets rich on volume, not margin, and has made more from Dreamworks than from directorial fees. And some dude at Goldman Sachs gets rich by making sure all of their money doesn't go away.

The political left and right do not understand this. This is not a dynamic that will lead to wealth trickling down, nor will increasing the strength of labor unions be able to alter it. This is a new economy, but we're treating it like it's the old economy.

          Tree Don't Care What A Little Bird Sings   

I have not read much of Robert Fogel's work, not much at all, but I may need to read more of it. A Fine Theorem, one of the more under-appreciated blogs, has a summary of Fogel's Without Consent or Contract. Here's part of it:
... the paradox rests on the widely held assumption that technological efficiency is inherently good. It is this beguiling assumption that is false and, when applied to [American] slavery, insidious.”  

Roughly, it was political change alone, not economic change, which could have led to the end of slavery in America. The plantation system was, in fact, a fairly efficient system in the economic sense, and was not in danger of petering out on its own accord.
Here's the rest.

There are multiple views of the politics of technology. (Technology is, at its core, information aggregation.) One says that technology is liberating. Another says that technology is enslaving. Another says that technology is fueled by the state for purposes of control. (Oddly, skeptics of markets often make the first point of that point without understanding that the second point is the corollary.) Technology can destabilize the political equilibrium (but does that only apply if it goes in one direction? I doubt it). It's worth googling a bit for the views of Farrell, Drezner, and Lynch on this. It's worth noting that modern authoritarian regimes try to get to the technological frontier as rapidly as possible but they tend to have a tough time managing it. Francis Spufford's Red Plenty is on sale at Amazon right now, if you don't mind probably giving some of your metadata to the NSA.

Sarah Jaffe (on Twitter) asked for a political economy of the surveillance state. (Here's a short take, not very good.) I haven't got the time or background knowledge to build a real model, but if I was going to I'd start with Tilly and Scott and Weber at the foundation and ask what purpose this really serves. Knowledge is power, is it not? Power is needed for protection (in the Tillian sense), is it not? After that I'd go to Orwell like everyone already is, but not the dystopian cliches. Remember in 1984 that Winston Smith was pretty much the only one in society bothered by Big Brother. (Probably not, if you've read your Timur Kuran, but as far as Smith could tell he nearly enough was.) Everybody else just got on with it. The proles sang their songs and read their magazines. Sure, Julia was a bit inconvenienced by the whole thing, but it's not like she really had principles.

Now think about Havel. Now think about samizdat. Is information so easily controllable? Can the state not oppress on the basis of allegation, innuendo, or missing data? Can the citizenry not resist simply by living? Does the state need all information to "keep the locals in line" or just a vague threat -- the vaguer the better? Corey Robin addresses this and gives a precis of his book on the politics of fear. Stalin didn't have Bukharin's metadata... just the ability to credibly say "we know where your kids are". That hasn't changed. Yglesias is right: the biggest thing to fear from the surveillance state isn't the state, per se. But that's a micro story, and micro stories can dictate macro policies.

The U.S. public is not concerned about this. To the extent they are it's for partisan reasons, not out of principle. Note that this is not new. Note that, so far, it appears that these programs are legal at least in broad terms. Intellectuals are more concerned that the median pollee, as they should be, since they are much more likely to be targeted than a randomly-selected person. (If I was Glenn Greenwald I'd go back to snail mail and pay phones for a good long while.) But so? Democratic politics does not guarantee puppies and roses. As we debate whether or not this is constitutional we should remember that James Buchanon's insights do not only apply to economic policy. We should also remember that politicians and celebrities have been subject to heavier levels of scrutiny than this for as long as there has been human society.

Data, even metadata, can be used for ill. (Or good, as the case may be, since the 21st century version of Paul Revere is probably someone Healy wouldn't meet for a beer at Ye Olde Tavern. Possibly this isn't what Healy's driving at.) But let's not get carried away. The U.S. government is sophisticated in many ways, but this program has only $20mn in funding. Let's say they spend $5mn of that on high-powered computers (that's probably less than what the supercomputer I ran a bunch of my dissertation on cost), and the rest on twenty-somethings making $200k/year each (as Snowden apparently did). That's 75 guys trying to make sense of the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day. Good luck with that. (No I don't believe only $20mn was funneled into this. Not for a moment do I believe that. But I'm not sure how much $20bn could really do absent some good old fashioned police work.)

So after you've read the Spufford (or even before) you might want to read some of the discussion at Crooked Timber on the book. See especially this wonderclass by Shalizi which has as much to say about social science theory and methods as it does about historical political systems or the contemporary political economy of the surveillance state or novels. The key question is Shalizi's first one: what is being optimized?

Then recall that Hayek's slippery slope is a logical fallacy to which the historical record is not kind. Should we be less concerned? Probably depends on how concerned you were in the first place... anonymity is a myth.

Remember too that the government oppresses and kills and makes terrible decisions when it doesn't have good intelligence. Given that, is the expected utility of (American or other) society better or worse with PRISM or without it? Apparently this program stopped one or more attacks at the London Olympics. What would the cost of those attacks have been? Was preventing them worth $20mn dollars plus some false positives? (The TSA spends $6.5 billion a year and probably gets almost nothing for it.) Could PRISM have stopped Nidal Hasan had it been better-implemented? If it could have, would it be worth it? We are quite literally behind the veil of ignorance at the moment (just a bit less in the wake of Snowden's leaks), but if we take engaged citzenry to be a desirable normative end in itself we need to put our Bayesian caps on now and start updating our priors.

What tail event has a greater probability: that this program is abused in such a way that it devastates liberal society, or that it prevents a significant attack the fallout from which would devastate the same society?

In the end the biggest repercussions of NSA spying might be felt in the US-EU trade negotiations.

Nevertheless, I oppose PRISM and related programs very strongly. I do so because I am not risk-averse.

I believe this is the most Cowen-esque thing I've ever written. I also believe that every link in this post is worth clicking on.
          Pfizer & Allergan Combining In $160 Billion Deal   
Pfizer and Allergan will join in a $160 billion deal to create the world's largest drugmaker. It's the biggest health care deal ever and the largest so-called inversion in history.
          Sacrificing Atiwa Forest for ‘China Bauxite’ wrong – Inusah Fuseini   
China’s move to commit to $15 billion into Ghana’s economy could have some far reaching implications on the environment, given the deal will be anchored by Ghana’s natural resources, specifically bauxite.
          Parliament needs to scrutinise $15 billion Chinese loan - Dr. Joe Abbey   
Economist Dr Joe Abbey is pushing for parliamentary scrutiny for the $15 billion package from China to ensure that the country actually secures the facility.
          Parliament needs to scrutinise $15 billion Chinese loan - Dr Joe Abbey   
Economist Dr Joe Abbey is pushing for parliamentary scrutiny for the $15 billion package from China to ensure that the country actually secures the facility.
          Comment on Return of the Exiles: Not if, but when – a billion person campaign. by Mike   
Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content! _________________________________ Making Money <a href="" rel="nofollow">$150 An Hour</a>
          President Trump Defends Fox's Bill O'Reilly: "I Don't Think Bill Did Anything Wrong"   
A few days ago, the New York Times broke news about  sexual harassment lawsuit settlements involving Fox "The Factor" host Bill O'Reilly:

For nearly two decades, Bill O’Reilly has been Fox News’s top asset, building the No. 1 program in cable news for a network that has pulled in billions of dollars in revenues for its parent company, 21st Century Fox.
Behind the scenes, the company has repeatedly stood by Mr. O’Reilly as he faced a
Bill O'Reilly
series of allegations of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.
An investigation by The New York Times has found a total of five women who have received payouts from either Mr. O’Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations against him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.
Two settlements came after the network’s former chairman, Roger Ailes, was dismissed last summer in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, when the company said it did not tolerate behavior that “disrespects women or contributes to an uncomfortable work environment.”
The women who made allegations against Mr. O’Reilly either worked for him or appeared on his show. They have complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating, according to documents and interviews.
The reporting suggests a pattern: As an influential figure in the newsroom, Mr. O’Reilly would create a bond with some women by offering advice and promising to help them professionally. He then would pursue sexual relationships with them, causing some to fear that if they rebuffed him, their careers would stall.
O'Reilly has tried to dismiss the settlements as merely payoffs for nuisance suits. As an attorney, I've seen many nuisance suits.  Settlements for nuisance suits are generally a few thousands of dollars, certainly never millions.  These suits would not have been settled for such sums if there wasn't serious wrongdoing involved.

President Trump, however, disagrees.  In an interview with the New York Times, Trump stated:

“Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled,” Mr. Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office with Times reporters. “Because you should have taken it all the way; I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” Mr. Trump said.
President Trump likewise thought the sexual harassment suits against former Fox News Chief Roger Ailes were also baseless:
"I think they are unfounded just based on what I've read," Trump said of the accusations against Ailes. "Totally unfounded, based on what I read."
I guess we shouldn't be surprised by Trump's reaction considering his own history with women.

          Governor May Consider Imposing Tolls on Indiana Roads   
WIBC reports:
Tolls are in and cigarette taxes are out if Governor Holcomb gets his way in a final road funding bill. 
Gov. Eric Holcomb
Holcomb is offering his most specific ideas so far on the final shape of a road funding plan. He says the cost of building and maintaining roads should fall on those who drive on them, and says provisions in both the House and Senate bills calling for the state to apply for federal tolling approval probably have to be part of a final plan. 
Neither the House nor the Senate package reaches the one-point-two-billion dollars a year the state says it needs in order to fully fund roads, but Holcomb says their combinations of gas taxes and tire and vehicle fees would be enough to pay for road maintenance for the next 20 years. He says in six or seven years, the state will have to take "a hard look" at imposing tolls to raise money for new construction. But he says he doesn't want tolls on urban bypasses -- he's thinking more of truckers going state line to state line.
Hopefully the legislature and the Governor will come to their collective senses and not inflict toll roads on Hoosiers.  I'm confident that most drivers loathe tolls and would rather pay for roads through taxes.   Personally I cannot imagine ever voting for a politician who imposed tolls on Indiana highways.

          “100 Billion for Everyone Who Signs” [McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XVII of an Investigative Report]   
"Throughout this series, the interlocking directorate that comprises the NPIC has been shown to be nothing less than formidable. But perhaps nowhere is this evidenced as in the case of the rather new organization, We Mean Business."
          Comment on What They’re Not Telling You About Trump’s Fake Time Magazine Cover by indie   
Why oh why? Now come on... This is not some duffus billionaire. It's your president... and he has a fake Time magazine cover on the wall of his hotel. No need to make a blog post about it. it's retarded. Period.
          Kinder-Rechte, unser Eigentum und Millionenerbe. Was tun ?
Kinder im Alter zwischen Eins und Acht haben ein juristisch äußerst unsauberes Verhältnis zu den Rechtsbegriffen Eigentum und Besitz. Überall auf der Welt und in nahezu allen Kulturkreisen gilt ein ultimatives Kinder-Sachenrecht, ein merkwürdiger, diktatorisch-kommunistischer Albtraum auf der Grundlage des Prinzips "Mein Besitz ist alles. Dein Eigentum ist nichts".

Ein Auszug.

    § 1 WeltKiSaG (Weltkindersachenrechtsgesetz):
    (1) Berührt ein Kind einen beweglichen Gegenstand, zumindest mit einem Teil seines Körpers, so gilt dieser Gegenstand automatisch als dessen Eigentum.
    (2) Dieses Eigentum wird durch freiwillige Herausgabe oder durch gewaltsames Entreissen  wirksam an ein anderes Kind übertragen.
    (3) Der tatsächliche Wert einer Sache hat für die Wirksamkeit eines eventuellen Tauschgeschäftes keinerlei Bedeutung. Wucher oder arglistige Täuschung gibt es nicht, es gilt das gesprochene Wort oder der konkludente, wortlose Besitzwechsel.
     (4) Herrenlos herumliegende Gegenstände, ebenso Pflanzen, Tiere, Insekten oder Müll, fallen sofort demjenigen Kind zu, welches diese als erster erreicht oder am lautesten Ansprüche darauf anmeldet.
    (5) Eine mangelnde Körperlichkeit oder Greifbarkeit stehen einem Eigentumserwerb nicht entgegen. Demgemäß können vom Kind auch Luft, das Meer, übernatürliche Kräfte und Erscheinungen, die Welt und/oder der  Weltraum als ihm gehörend beansprucht werden. In diesen Fällen wird gnädig und inzident die Nutzung durch andere Lebewesen geduldet.
    (5) Die Diktate "Geschenkt ist geschenkt! Wieder holen ist gestohlen" und "Weggegangen, Platz vergangen!" haben Gültigkeit bis zum Tag des jüngsten Gerichts und können ausschließlich durch den Ursprungs-Diktator rechtswirksam aufgehoben werden. 
    (6) Die Straftatbestände Drohung, Nötigung, üble Nachrede, Beleidigung oder Körperverletzung haben keinerlei Relevanz. Es gilt das Recht des Stärkeren und/oder des Kindes mit der effektiveren Waffe oder der ältesten Geschwister.
    (7) Die Formierung von Banden oder Truppen mit der Zielrichtung der Eigentumsvermehrung nach diesem Gesetz ist straflos. 
    (8) Die Nichtbeachtung des Gestzes wird hart sanktioniert. Das Waffengesetz wird bezüglich Hieb- und Stichwaffen (Schaufeln, Eimer), Wurfgeschosse ( Sand, Wasser, Quallen) und Körperteilen (Füße, Ellenbogen, Fäuste) eingeschränkt. Geltendes Kriegsrecht ist  außerdem subsidiär. Es dürfen Gefangene genommen werden. Außerdem darf noch Monate oder Jahre nach Gesetzesverstößen heimtückisch und völlig unverhältnismäßig Rache genommen werden.
    (9) Einmischungen und Schlichtungen durch mindestens beschränkt geschäftsfähige Personen  werden nicht anerkannt.

      Eigentum und Besitz bei Erwachsenen

      Für uns Erwachsene sieht die Lage deutlich langweiliger, aber dafür auch erfreulich rechtssicherer aus. Das beruhigt schon einmal, oder nicht?

      Was uns gehört, gehört uns automatisch gegenüber allen anderen Menschen, wir müssen also nicht den ganzen Tag durch die Gegend laufen und jedem mitteilen, was uns alles so Schönes gehört. 

      Wie oben erläutert, ist die Situation für Kinder ganz anders, weswegen sie permanent und ungefragt erwähnen müssen "Das ist meins" oder konkret :"Zu Hause habe ich einen echten Drachen. Und Hausschuhe mit Krallen". Das liegt im Kindersachenrecht begründet und kann erzieherisch nicht sanktioniert werden. Ist klar.

      Eigentum kann also nur mit unserem Einverständnis an einen anderen übertragen werden. Meistens geschieht das durch einen Vertrag, also zum Beispiel durch Kauf, Tausch, oder eine Schenkung. Oder eben gesetzlich durch eine Erbschaft. Vermieten wir unser Eigentum oder leihen wir jemandem nur etwas aus, geht kein Eigentum über, nicht mal für eine einzige Millisekunde. Da besteht lediglich ein popeliges Besitzrecht am Eigentum eines Anderen.

      Was passiert aber nun mit unserem ganzen Krempel und unseren Millionen auf dem Konto wenn wir, in hoffentlich gesegnetem Alter, versterben? 

      Weiß jeder: Den Klimmbimm erbt jemand.
      Das Prinzip hat sogar mein 4-jähriger Sohn schon verstanden, der unlängst und kindlich pragmatisch eine Todesreihenfolge der Familie aufstellte. 
      Ich habe Glück! Ich trete erst nach Oma, Opa und meinem Mann ab, allerdings deutlich nach unserer Nachbarin Gesine. Die ist zwar ca. 30 Jahre älter als ich, aber bei ihm so populär, dass er regelmäßig verkündet bei ihr einzuziehen, wenn er nicht noch länger KiKa schauen darf. 
      Gesine und Mausi bekommen auch im Falle seines Ablebens alle seine Spielsachen, zu gleichen Teilen, vererbt. (Mausi ist eine verdreckte, verlauste und zerfetzte Kuschel-Ratte von IKEA.) 
      Seine Schwester und auch wir Eltern gehen unglücklicherweise leer aus. Schade!

      Was mein Kind hier rechtlich gemacht hat, ist nichts anderes, als seinen "letzten Willen" formuliert. Wenn er dann mal schreiben kann, geschäftsfähig ist und das alles dann auch noch ordentlich zu Papier bringt, dann hat er -schuppdiwupp- ein Testament gemacht.

      Womit wir beim "erben und vererben" wären.

      Wenn wir, wie die meisten Deutschen, kein Testament machen und somit explizit regeln, wer nach unserem Ableben zu welchen Teilen erben soll, dann gilt die normale, gesetzliche Erbfolge. Die muss man aber kennen, um zu wissen, ob man das alles gut findet, oder ob man das eigene Erbe nach den eigenen Vorstellungen abändern möchte - mit einem Erbvertrag oder einem Testament.

      Einen Notar braucht man für ein Testament übrigens nicht zwingend. Der ist nur Pflicht, wenn man Dinge vererbt, die man auch zu Lebzeiten nur notariell beurkundet an jemand anderen weitergeben kann. Immobilien zum Beispiel. 
      Ratsam ist eine Rechtsberatung hier aber trotzdem, die Materie ist schwierig und heikel, schließlich wollen wir nicht, dass sich die Prinzipien des Kindersachenrechts (s.o.) unter den Erben breitmachen und Onkel Hubert mit dem Tafelsilber die Biege macht.

      Der Wert des Erbes ist aber immer unerheblich, man kann also theoretisch den superwertvollen Oldtimer auf einem Bierdeckel an einen Kumpel vermachen. Das Auto fällt dann aus der sogenannten "Erbmasse" für die gesetzlichen Erben hinaus, vorausgesetzt der Bierdeckel ist unterschrieben und mit Datum versehen und täuschungsecht vom Verstorbenen verfasst.

      Aber wer erbt eigentlich ?

      Wenn es kein Testament gibt, gilt das deutsche Erbrecht und die darin vorgesehene Erbfolge. Die teilt unsere Erben in eine Art Rangfolge ein. Immer wenn noch jemand aus einem höheren Rang am Leben ist, gehen diejenigen aus einem niedrigeren Rang komplett leer aus.

      Für Familien mit Kindern sind vor allem die Erben der 1. und der 2. Ordung, von insgesamt vier Ordnungen, praxisrelevant.
      Unsere Kinder und Enkelkinder sind Erben der 1. Ordung. Leben alle unsere Kinder zum Zeitpunkt unseres Todes noch, bekommen die unser Erbe, allerdings weder unsere Enkel, noch die Erben der 2. Ordnung.
      Die Erben der 2. Ordnung sind unsere Eltern und deren Kinder, also unsere Geschwister. Die erben nur dann von uns, wenn wir keine Kinder (mehr) haben. Oder keine Enkel (mehr). Unsere Geschwister erben auch nur dann, wenn von unseren Eltern keiner oder nur noch ein Elternteil am Leben ist.

      Mit anderen Worten, hält unser Erbrecht also quasi die "gottgewollte" Todeskandidaten-Reihenfolge ein und schustert unseren Kindern und Kindeskindern unser Vermögen zuerst zu, erst wenn da keiner ist, kommen die Älteren an den Schotter.

      Der aufmerksame Leser merkt an: "Ey, das Erbrecht hat die Ehe- und Lebenspartner vergessen, wo sind die bitteschön?!"
      Die erben neben den Blutsverwandten je nachdem ob und in welcher Form sie verheiratet sind, oder nicht. 

      Wer erbt also in welcher Höhe?

      • Unverheiratete Eltern vererben nichts an ihren Partner und alles an ihre Kinder. Der Partner hat nur einen Unterhaltsanpruch an die Erben für 30 Tage, den dennt man "Dreißigsten". Das war's aber. Mehrere Kinder müssen die erhaltenen Reichtümer und Ländereien immer gerecht zu gleichen Teilen teilen. Wenn man also zusammen lebt, aber nicht heiraten möchte, dann sollte man dringend einen Erbvertrag oder ein Testament machen, gerade wenn man gemeinsames Eigentum hat. - Man stelle sich nur die Situation vor, wenn ein pupertärer Teenager den Hausverkauf des gemeinsamen erworbenen Eigenheims blockieren kann, weil er seine Hälfte beansprucht - denn die hat er ja geerbt! Grande catastrophe!
        Everett Collection/
      • Verheiratete haben es einfacher, da erbt der überlebende Ehegatte immer etwas. (Yay!) Vorsicht, auch Schulden (Buh!). Wer, wie die wenigsten Deutschen, einen Ehevertrag gemacht hat, der vererbt wie folgt: Der überlebende Ehepartner bekommt mindestens ein Viertel, die Kinder insgesamt drei Viertel, die sie dann unter sich gerecht aufteilen.
      • Lebte man verheiratet, wie die meisten ohne Ehevertrag, zusammen, also im (Achtung, schlimme Juraworte!) "gesetzlichen Güterstand der Zugewinngemeinschaft", dann bekommt man als überlebender Ehepartner nochmal ein Viertel zu dem Viertel hinzu. Trotz meiner mathematischen Schwerstbehinderung, kann ich nun also verkünden, dass der Ehegatte dann die eine Hälfte, die Kinder die komplette andere Hälfte des Vermögens bekommen. 

      Ich werde diesen Link meinem ehemaligen Mathematik- und Informatik Lehrer Herrn Terborg schicken müssen. Korrekte Bruchrechung und ein Web-Blog. Der fällt vom Glauben ab.

        Soviel also zum Erbrecht in Grundzügen. Hoffen wir, dass ihr alle Eure Urenkel noch kennenlernt, aber kümmern muss man sich leider schon früher darum. 

        Oder zumindest mitreden und eine Meinung dazu haben können. 
        Oder Klugscheissen wenn mal wieder jemand über Testamente daherredet. 

        Dafür ist dieser Blog da: Klugscheissen auf hohem Niveau.

        Ich hole jetzt meinen Sohn von Nachbarin Gesine ab und grüße Euch wärmstens,

        Eure Juramama

        P.S.: Falls ihr ein Thema auf dem Herzen habt, über dass ich auch mal schreiben sollte, dann scheut Euch nicht mir eine Nachricht zu schreiben.

        **** Ihr findet mich auch auf Facebook unter Juramama und auf Twitter unter Die_Juramama.****

        **** Meine Artikel stellen ausserdem keine Rechtsberatung dar und enthalten zum Teil sowohl sarkastische als auch ironische Bemerkungen. Bitte holt immer anwaltlichen Rat ein und verlasst euch nicht auf ein Blog das Juramama heißt. Ich werde hier journalistisch und nicht juristisch oder rechtsberatend tätig.****

                  The budget bill provision that aims to lure thousands of jobs to N.C.   
        As Republicans override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto and put the official stamp of approval on North Carolina’s $23 billion budget, economic developers are eyeing a new incentives provision.

                  2012 shout   
        itunes pic
        Lyrics: You scratch my body you mark my soul you want me to behave but you don't me to go…. That s what you call society where noone is brighting blind eyes and fallen minds Why you do that for? You may count until billions But no one of them are mirrors You get easily lost Are you a weak bro??? 2012 is arising and there's always time to make good things synchronizing Love
                  Over 2.1 million Android devices downloaded malware in 2015   

        Quite a shocking headline in many ways, though it ought to be borne in mind that there are somewhere in the region of 1.5 billion Android devices registered for use around the globe.  The information comes from Google’s second annual security report.  Despite this figure, Google are quick to emphasise that the number of infected apps is down compared to 2014, and that there is now a 40% lower chance of installing such an app provided that you stick to the official Google Play app store. There are two explanations to account for this: better software for scanning malicious apps

        The post Over 2.1 million Android devices downloaded malware in 2015 is original content from Coolsmartphone. If you see it on another news website, please let us know.


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      •           Republican Legislative Leaders: We Balanced the Budget and Didn’t Raise Taxes   
        This guest post was submitted by House Majority Leader Al Carlson and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner As the legislature leaves Bismarck, we are returning home with a balanced budget and no tax increases. This session has proven the importance of exercising fiscal responsibility and saving for lean times. Despite facing one of the largest...
        The European Commission has looked at the Spanish economy and suggested higher taxes and more activity to generate jobs but it totally overlooks the private debt built up by businesses and families during the euphoric years between 1996 and 2007.

        The economic crisis amongst the banks has closed off the credit lines. Also the foreign investment in to the property market has ceased with the bursting of that market’s bulb.

        Without internal demand Spain can only grow by exporting. However to export to Germany which is the leader of European growth this country would have to improve its competitiveness. As Spain cannot devalue its currency the pressure is on to reform structures with the cutting of workers’ rights and the real threat that there will be a regression in the standards of people’s lives.

        In to this scene comes the 15-M democracy movement that insists that politics cannot be dictated by the markets. It is calling for “popular sovereignty” and “economic sovereignty” What does it serve to vote if the government is in the hands of the markets and banks, it asks?

        According to Professor Emiliano Carluccio: “the debt in the private sector grew greater than in other developed countries” over this period. Now the crisis in Spain is not the public debt.

        The level of debt of the central government, the autonomous regions and the town halls is more than 60 per cent of GDP, the wealth that Spain generates each year. Surprisingly this is less than the European average of 80 per cent or the rest of the major European countries.

        However whilst the various arms of the State have accumulated debts of 639,767 million euros the debt level amongst Spanish families dwarfs that total. Private debt stands at 886,460 million euros, 38.6 per cent more than all the State debt. (Curiously as I posted this blog Reuters issued an article highlighting the growth in Spain’s public debt but saying nothing of the private total).

        To be added to the family debts are those of businesses which come in at 1.2 billion euros more. This means that the debt in private hands is a massive 189 per cent of GDP.

        Another problem faced by Spain is the size of its external debt. Japan (200 per cent), Italy (117) and Belgium (101) all have far greater levels of public debt than Spain. However that money is owed to the nation’s nationals whereas in Spain the majority of the debts are international.

        In the case of Spain the exterior debt (the majority of it private) is equivalent to 170 per cent of GDP. In hard figures it means that Spain has to pay back to the rest of the world 1.87 billion euros. That is because during the good years Spain was importing two thirds of the financial resources demanded by its businesses and families.
                  Pope Tells New Cardinals: Be Humble, Help Poor, Fight Injustice   
        Pope Francis elevated five senior clerics from outside Italy and the Vatican to the top rank of cardinal on Wednesday, urging them to be humble and not forget refugees and victims of war, terrorism and injustice. Appointing new cardinals is one of the most significant powers of the papacy, allowing a pontiff to put his stamp on the future of the 1.2 billion-member Church. Cardinals are the pope's closest advisers in the Vatican and around the world and those under 80 years old are...
                  Correction: Google-Europe story   
        BRUSSELS— In a story June 27 about European regulators' $2.7 billion fine against Google, The Associated Press, relying on incorrect information from a press representative, misspelled the name of an antitrust expert at Georgetown. BRUSSELS— European regulators fined Google a record 2.42 billion euros for abusing its dominance of the online search market in a...
                  What Tiger was thinking   

        The headline “what was Tiger thinking” betrays the worst kind of naiveté. It’s not that I expect men to commit adultery. But it is certainly no surprise. Men are inclined toward pleasure and power. Money and fame facilitate pleasure and power. But love, the real thing, is made of tougher stuff.

        Often rich and powerful men who stray say they did it simply because they could. Not because they wanted to in any calculated way. The opportunity was just there. Available. For men without such means, those opportunities are a fantasy, or passing fancy. Even Jesus of Nazareth was tempted in every way common to man.

        What makes a man submit to such an opportunity? Or perhaps a better question is what makes a man resist. Years ago a friend told me he was presented with just such a pretty scenario. He was in a position of trust, she was of legal age. The liaison would have been legal, but not moral or ethical. And besides, he loved his wife. He told her, “Sorry, it’s just not worth it.”

        Do men operate on a value system, ranking relative risks and rewards? Do men make choices based on danger? Do they just respond to “the feeling,” act on the passion of the moment, and pursue the brief desire of the eyes? Another ancient reference comes from the Apostle John who wrote about “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life.”

        Would our Favorite Golf Star been better off flying his family (or his wife) to the final day of all his tournaments? Ah, hindsight. (Or was it “hindsight” that got Tiger in trouble in the first place? Sorry, last joke.)

        (photo by thelastminute/flickr)
        Tiger’s well-crafted apology  was one part contrition, one part plea for privacy. His tone was sorrowful. His account was sufficiently specific without dwelling on the details. Surprisingly, he approached the concept of repentance, as in “I will strive to be a better person…” This raises his score on the apology index (as opposed to, “I’m sorry if anyone was offended”).

        Married men who freelance are basically childlike. Note Tiger’s playful banter 12 years ago, when he was just 21. The April 1997 GQ cover story “The Man. Amen”  caught the sports billionaire on his way to the top of the sports world.

        "What I can't figure out," Tiger Woods asks Vincent, the limo driver, "is why so many good-looking women hang around baseball and basketball. Is it because, you know, people always say that, like, black guys have big dicks?"

        …being ferried by a limousine and being handled by beautiful women and being photographed for a magazine cover that will get him laid 296 times in the next year, if he so chooses, can be very exhausting work.

        The story exalted young “Tiger of the Woods” as a sort of golf messiah. It is a lofty, precarious perch. Seven years after it was printed, Tiger was married, but it appears he never lost his appetite for women… until now.

        Writer Charles P. Pierce concluded in GQ, “Can he blaspheme against his own public creation, his own unique role, as determined by his father, his management team and his shoe company? Can he blaspheme against the image coddled and nurtured by the paid evangelists of his own gospel?”

        Yes, apparently.

        As the world mutters and meddles in the Woods’ home life, I think they need a few of us to pray and hope that they work things out. I wished that for NASCAR glamour boy Jeff Gordon, NFL icon Tom Brady, Brad Pitt, Eddie Murphy and other guys I kind of envy, even though I have a 29 year marriage and they do not, yet.

        The amount of the pre-nuptial terms ($300 million?) is wholly irrelevant. There is so much money on the table, neither he nor she has to worry about provision. Beware the lawyers who will be more than happy to handle the dissolution, and endless revisions to any settlement, and the most painful custody hearings to follow.

        What is the price tag of true love, mutual respect, fidelity, a lasting marriage? Who values such things anymore? What are people willing to pay for such things? May the Woods couple work things out, God help them.

        El Tigre is not yet the world’s greatest golfer (his 14 major victories, as compared to Jack Nicklaus’ 18), but verily he shall be. Unlike normal humans, I believe that great performers employ stress and off-field “distractions” to drive them in to their game. Pure anger over the tabloids, anger over the cheap women who betrayed him, and anger over his own stupidity will clarify things for him on the course. He will focus more deeply to overcome the chattering noise of gossip-mongers all over the world. Did you know that celebrities can literally hear the things we are saying about them?

        If Mr. Woods meant what he said about “I have not been true to my values,” then his values have changed, and he may have discovered something as valuable to him as his game: family.
                  Prince - Ol' Skool Company   
        Everybody talkin’ ‘bout hard times,
        Like it just started yesterday
        People I know, they been strugglin’
        At least it seems that way

        Fat cats on Wall Street – they got a bailout
        Think it was A I G
        700 billion – but my old neighborhood
        Ain’t nothin’ changed but me

                  Evans sues police for not charging him to court   

        Suspected billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a. Evans, on Wednesday, filed a fundamental rights enforcement action before the Lagos Federal High Court in Lagos, urging the court to order the police to charge him to court [...]

        The post Evans sues police for not charging him to court appeared first on Leaders NG.

                  Mall Madness.   

        Same day we had the movie fail---we headed over to the mall in my mom's town. Eliette hit Claire's for the first time.

        Oh my.
        Seriously, about a billion pics are to follow because this pacifier princess was in a girly-whirl of Heaven.

         "I wear all the necklaces."

         In this next picture, right behind her---that's her little basket of treasures.
         Pigtail headband for the hair-challenged....

         "Oooooh, Minions! Don't mind if I do...."

         She wanted ALL of the little compacts....

                  3rd Shift Machine Operator (CNC)   
        NE-Hastings, Eaton is a power management company with 2016 sales of $19.7 billion. We provide energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton is dedicated to improving the quality of life and the environment through the use of power management technologies and services. Eaton has approximately 95,00
                  2nd Shift Machine Operator(CNC)   
        NE-Hastings, Eaton is a power management company with 2016 sales of $19.7 billion. We provide energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton is dedicated to improving the quality of life and the environment through the use of power management technologies and services. Eaton has approximately 95,00
        A map of 1.3 billion taxi trips in New York, taking advantage of the underappreciated principle that there’s no point having more detail than the screen can display.  Also, GPS error naturally gives an attractive glowing effect that you’d usually have to add in afterwards “In the summer of 2015, Alexandra Franco got a letter […]
                  Assess demand first to make CIL’s $1 billion investment plan work   
        A careful assessment of coal demand for the power sector is needed so that the over $1 billion annual investment plan by CIL for raising its productio...
                  Комментарий к записи Куайба, штат Мату Гроссу (Виктор Родин)   
        Restoring affluent and purity of the Amazon and other rivers of South America. A new kind of business for any investor. Niche is open. To date, the production of fresh water in South America is the most profitable business. With a minimum yield 1.8-2.3 dollar on the dollar invested, sponsors can earn up to 0.5-0.7 trillion dollars a year. As an example, I give indicators of a river: Brazil. Amazon River. In the Amazon, from the source of the river to the mouth can be made: Up to 20 cubic kilometers of irrigation water; And up to 1.5 - 2 cubic km of crystal clear, mineral-rich drinking water. And drinking and irrigation water will be sold and generate income. Expenses. Necessary equipment. The sequence of works. Revenues. The cost - 4-5 billion euros. But you can start with a 2 billion euro. Revenues. Read carefully! In the second or third year, you can produce up to 20 cubic kilometers of water. The cost of water in Germany around 2 euros per tonne. Selling water at 0.2 euros per tonne - 10 times cheaper - the sponsor can earn 4 billion euros per year, ie EUR 2 to receive the income on invested euros. Selling 0.5 - earn 10 billion, one euro - 20 billion per year, according to two euros - 40 billion, and so on. That is, there is a large grid in which you can choose between the interests of producers and consumers. Consumers - all states in South America. In addition, the clean water produced annually to dilute contaminated water and slowly bring the water of the river into a state where it can be drunk straight from the river. This revenue producer. Income and benefits for the state: The growth of productive land, pastures and areas under forests - 40 thousand square meters. km. The number of new farms - 2.5 million. Two years later, the program will stop forest fires, and for 10 years the forest area increased by 1.5-2% per year, followed by increases. Sincerely, a developer of environmental programs, Victor Rodin. 30100, Ukraine, Khmelnitsky region., Neteshin. (Khmelnitsky NPP). Tel. Kiev Star: 961336344. Internet Addresses;; Skype - kuzmitch36. --- --- --- Восстановление полноводности и чистоты реки Амазонки, и других рек Южной Америки. Новый вид бизнеса для любого инвестора. Ниша пока открыта. На сегодняшний день производство пресной воды в Южной Америке является самым доходным бизнесом. При минимальной доходности 1,8-2,3 доллара на вложенный доллар, спонсоры могут зарабатывать до 0,5-0,7 триллиона долларов в год. Как пример, даю показатели одной реки: Бразилия. Река Амазонка. На Амазонке, от истоков реки до устья можно произвести: До 20 куб км оросительной воды; И до 1,5 – 2 куб км кристально чистой, обогащённой минералами питьевой воды. И питьевая и оросительная вода будет продаваться, и приносить доход. Затраты. Необходимая техника. Последовательность работ. Доходы. Затраты – 4-5 млрд евро. Но начать можно с 2 млрд евро. Доходы. Читать внимательно! Во второй-третий год можно произвести до 20 куб км воды. Стоимость воды в Германии порядка 2 евро за тонну. Продав воду по 0,2 евро за тонну, - в 10 раз дешевле – спонсор может заработать 4 млрд евро в год, то есть, получить доход 2 евро на вложенный евро. Продав по 0,5 – заработать 10 млрд, по одному евро – 20 млрд в год, по два евро – 40 млрд, и так далее. То есть, есть большая сетка, при которой можно выбирать между интересами производителей и потребителей. Потребители – все государства Южной Америки. Кроме того, произведённая чистая вода будет ежегодно разбавлять загрязнённую воду и постепенно приводить воду реки в состояние, когда её можно будет пить прямо из реки. Это доходы производителя. Доходы и выгоды для государства: Прирост продуктивных земель, пастбищ, и площадей под леса – 40 тысяч кв. км. Количество новых фермерских хозяйств – 2,5 млн. Через два года программа остановит лесные пожары, а в течение 10 лет увеличивать площади лесов на 1,5-2% в год с последующим их увеличением. С уважением, разработчик экологических программ, Виктор Родин. 30100, Украина, Хмельницкая обл., г. Нетешин. (Хмельницкая АЭС). Тел. Киев Стар: 961336344. Адреса в Интернете;; Скайп - kuzmitch36.
                  TuneCore Artists Close In On Earning One Billion Dollars In Revenue   

        When TuneCore launched in 2006, our mission was simple and clear: to help independent artists sell their music online, without sacrificing sales revenue or giving up their rights. At that time, there was only a fraction of the digital platforms by which artists can have their music streamed, downloaded and discovered in 2017. iTunes ruled, … Continue reading TuneCore Artists Close In On Earning One Billion Dollars In Revenue

        The post TuneCore Artists Close In On Earning One Billion Dollars In Revenue appeared first on TuneCore.

                  KFC's Regency romance is gloriously cheesy   
        Kentucky Fried Chicken has released their own Regency romance novella for Mother’s Day, because it’s 2017 and nothing makes sense anymore.

        Tender Wings of Desire centers on young Lady Madeline Parker, who chickens out of her betrothal to the hunky yet boring Duke of Sainsbury. She has many reasons for doing this, from the fact that he resembles a “vanilla biscuit,” to girl power and wanting to travel somewhere she doesn’t have to embroider babies or pump out useless tapestries for the rest of her days. Something like that, anyway.

        Of course she runs away, ending up in The Admiral’s Arms, a tavern that caters to amazingly well-behaved sailors, and meets the mysterious Harland Sanders. In a small show of compassion, Harland isn’t portrayed as an elderly Southern spokeshead in the book; a girl wondering if she’s old enough to marry and her romance with an old Colonel Sanders would be too creepy for everyone involved. Madeline meets him when he’s young, seeing the world, and still yet to inherit the massive American restaurant empire that illogically exists in the Victorian era. Once our headstrong heroine meets Harland, he sticks in the back of her mind like a piece of gristle wedged between her teeth. Eventually feathers fly, drama hatches, and everyone receives a Happily Ever After, even the Vanilla Biscuit Duke.

        The plot is painted with large, wide brushstrokes, a winking parody of all those tumultuous romances I read in the 1970s. It’s fun and overblown, never taking itself seriously. My favorite line was “Madeline herself did not mind balls,” which made me snort before I finished the sentence about dancing and all the beautiful gowns. Follow that up with “You are too much. Our Madeline is going to have her hands full with you,” and I was cry-laughing through the rest of the book. Aside from the wicked humor sprinkled throughout, there’s only one sex scene, and it was so subtle I had to read the page three times to make sure they HAD done it, and not just participated in a stellar make-out session. Some news outlets have labeled this a “steamy” read, but they don’t read the same books I do.

        While the novella itself may be a light-hearted PR move, KFC’s intentions are not. They know that the romance novel industry is worth $1 billion every year. They also know that Mother’s Day is their busiest day of the year. It’s nice to see them recognize that romance sells, and everyone needs an escape now and then, even if it’s with a bucket of chicken and a free cheeseball read for dessert. Maybe for Halloween, Yum! Brands will give us star-crossed lovers and a werewolf romance in Taco Bell.

        **This piece also appeared on The Huffington Post**
                  Trump's Lawyers Deny He Has Russian Income Or Debt, 'With A Few Exceptions'   
        In a letter released Friday, President Trump's lawyers said a decade's worth of his tax returns show that he doesn't owe money to Russian lenders and that he has received no income from Russian sources, "with a few exceptions." The exceptions include this: "In 2008, Trump Properties LLC sold an estate in Florida, that it had acquired in 2005 for approximately $41 million, to a Russian billionaire for $95 million." That buyer was Dmitry Rybolovlev, who never moved into the 62,000-square-foot mansion before tearing it down. Another exception was the $12.2 million made from holding the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, according to the letter signed by attorneys Sheri A. Dillon and William F. Nelson. The lawyers also noted that Trump very likely has received undisclosed payments from Russians for hotel rooms, rounds of golf and Trump-licensed products, such as wine, ties and mattresses. The March 8 letter was addressed to Trump, who passed it along to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
                  8 Stocks To Watch For June 28, 2017   

        Wall Street expects General Mills, Inc. to report quarterly earnings at $0.71 per share on revenue of $3.76 billion before the opening bell. General Mills shares slipped 0.94 percent to $55.00 in after-hours trading.

                  Deficit for July Exceeds Wall Street Prediction   
        The federal budget deficit soared in July, pushed higher by economic stimulus payments and $15 billion in outlays to protect depositors at failed banks.

                  Hong Kong's Balance of Payments and International Investment Position statistics for first quarter of 2017   
        Hong Kong recorded a BoP surplus of $45.3 billion (as a ratio of 7.2% to GDP) in the first quarter of 2017, compared with a surplus of $21.7 billion (as a ratio of 3.2% to GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2016. At the end of the first quarter of 2017, Hong Kong’s net International Investment Position amounted to $9,454.4 billion (as a ratio of 374% to GDP).
                  Student loan consolodation - How Does Student Loan Consolidation Work?   
        Student loan consolodation: Nowadays, the cost of higher education is getting more and more expensive. Some families may not be able to afford to send their son or daughter for further education. Getting a student loan will help.

        There are 2 broad categories of student loans available. Government student loans and private student loans

        Government or federal student loans are funded and administered by the US Department Of Education. It is classified under Federal Student Loans Aid Program. They have very few requirements other than you are studying in a US college or university. International students may also apply though approval is on a case by case basis.

        Every year, the student loan aid program disburse nearly 60 billion dollars so it is a good choice for get a student loan from the government. Thus the interest rates are pretty low.

        Private student loans are funded and administered by banks and other financial institutions. These lenders provide student loans at a higher interest rate compared to federal student loans. Some common student loans available are from Citibank and Sallie Mae

        You are allowed to apply for both private and federal student loans for your education needs although I would not recommend it.

        For some students who have a few student loans to repay concurrently, it can be a financial drain on their family finances. That is where student loan consolidation comes in.

        Student loan consolidation basically consolidates all your student loans into one loan so that it is easier to manage and make payments. When you are getting a student loan consolidation whether from the government or the private market, your existing student loans are paid for and erased by the student loan consolidation lender. The balances are transferred to the new student loan consolidation. Thus you start a new loan and only needs to make a single payment each month.

        There are many advantages to using student loan consolidation. The interest rates will be lower since it takes the average interest rates of your previous student loans. Thus due to government legislation, the maximum interest rate cannot be higher than 8.25 percent.

        It becomes a lot easier to manage a single student loan and payment are easier. The repayment options are quite flexible. For federal student loan consolidation, you can opt to start repaying after you have graduated from school. There are also several other options.

        Another beneficial side-effect of student loan consolidation is that it can also improves your credit score. Since you are effectively clearing all your old student loans and taking a new one, your credit score will increase and is important if plan to take other types of loans in the future.
                  OK, Here's What We Know About Rihanna's New Billionaire Boyfriend   

        After Rihanna was photographed mugging down with a mystery man in a pool in Ibiza this week, eagle-eyed and excited fans on Twitter were buzzing about who the guy could be. Many assumed he was a Spanish athlete or maybe a model, but it turns out that the gentleman Rihanna was packing on the PDA with is actually a Saudi billionaire named Hassan Jameel.

        Hassan is 29, just like Rihanna, and is the heir to a huge fortune. He's the deputy president and vice chairman of the family business Abdul Latif Jameel, and since 1955, the company has owned the rights to Toyota distribution in Saudi Arabia. His family is worth nearly $2 billion. On top of that, he's also said to own a soccer league in Saudi Arabia called the Jameel League. In 2016, he was linked to Naomi Campbell after the two were spotted at the British Summer Time music festival in London.

        While it's not clear how long Hassan and Rihanna have been dating, it is clear that they have major chemistry. And with all the bullsh*t she's had to deal with lately, we're really glad Rihanna is getting some lovin' from a tall, dark, and handsome hottie. Just one question remains: has anybody checked on Drake?

                  One Mighty White Elephant   
        Reading the paper this morning, I saw this article about an airborne laser "gun" designed to kill tanks from 10 miles (15kms) away. Pretty impressive considering that tank armour can be 300mm thick and beyond.

        Whilst a great idea in theory, and obviously big-shiny technology always looks impressive (which is why billions are spent on high-tech planes rather than making them cheaper and in greater quantities), I do feel that this plane is going to be rather limited as it is totally reliant on air superiority.

        Currently it is mounted on a converted 747, with plans to later fit in to the venerable Hercules. Certainly on my travels, I have not considered the 747 to be the most agile of craft and while 10 miles sounds like a considerable distance, it is not that deep for a battlefield as they can stretch to several miles by the time reserves are taken into consideration. As such, its use is going to be limited to insurgent situations and the flight crew will have to hope like hell that they don't possess any cheap anti-aircraft missiles, which the US government would have in no way supplied to them. And if you believe what's in store for the future, it's not going to be of much use.

        Even assuming that the future is not so bleak, the limits of the laser means that at maximum range the laser is going to be degraded substantially by atmospheric conditions (smoke and dust from the battlefield, water vapour in the atmosphere), which will causing "blooming" and reduce the effectiveness of the beam. Still, with a skilled controller they should be able to beam "USA! USA! USA!" into the clouds.
                  The use of antibiotics can lead to weight gain   

        The study, published in the journal Gut Microbes also shows a link between the metabolic activity of intestinal bacteria with body mass index, fasting glucose and insulin resistance.

        The intestine is inhabited by billions of bacteria that interact with each other and are known as microbiota or gut flora. "These bacteria can provide activities and molecules could not acquire for ourselves and are essential for the proper development of human beings. The age, geographic origin and other factors such as obesity and diet, pregnancy, or the use of antibiotics, can significantly alter intestinal microbial diversity, "explains Manuel Ferrer CSIC researcher who works at the Institute of Catalysis and Petroleoquímica.

        The researchers first analyzed the metabolic activity of enzymes of intestinal bacteria present in stool samples of obese and thin and treated or not with antibiotics. For the first author Ester Hernandez, the study shows that obese people or a high body mass index and those treated with antibiotics have a similar metabolic behavior, which would impact on the ability to metabolize dietary sugars.

        "The study suggests that the development of obesity and prolonged antibiotic treatment modifies the intestinal flora so that the enzymes become more active, which favors rapid and uneven absorption of carbohydrate and, in turn, develop obesity, eating disorders, and ultimately diabetes, "explains Ferrer.

        The study lays the groundwork for future research that ultimately may enable the design of customized diets based on polysaccharides potential digestibility of the diet in terms of intestinal activity profiles to regulate weight gain. This would suggest, in particular, define the set enzimotipos or intestinal enzymes of each person and prebiotics design that ensure healthy intestinal microbiota.

        "In addition, these cocktails could become part of standard treatment guidelines on antibiotic treatment in order to minimize side effects. Only through a comprehensive and detailed analysis of different antibiotics and people of different geographical origin, age or health status can develop personalized therapies and surgical interventions, "write the researchers.

        The research, which has had the collaboration of the University of Granada, Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, and the Centre of Public Health Research, is part of a series of projects funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, the Instituto Carlos III and the Generalitat Valenciana. Researchers have also been supported Eranet PathoGenoMics2 program promoted by the European Union. Some of the scientists are part of the Biomedical Research Centre Network for Epidemiology and Public Health.


        • Hernández E, Bargiela R, Diez MS, Friedrichs A, Pérez-Cobas AE, Gosalbes MJ, Knecht H, Martínez-Martínez M, Seifert J, von Bergen M, Artacho A, Ruiz A, Campoy C, Latorre A, Ott SJ, Moya A, Suárez A, Martins Dos Santos VA, Ferrer M. Functional consequences of microbial shifts in the human gastrointestinal tract linked to antibiotic treatment and obesity. Gut Microbes. 4: 306-3015
        • Fotografía: Vicente Segarra taken with a Galaxy SII on July 31, 2013

                  A nanosensor made ​​from DNA origami   

        With this technique, known as origami (Japanese, origami) DNA, an investigation of the National Research Council (CSIC) have developed a nanoscale sensor with the ability to detect the activity of a human enzyme Hagt, involved in the repair DNA.

        The advance, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, describes how DNA origami has enabled the creation of this sensor 100 nanometers (a nanometer is a billionth of a meter) in size. Through atomic force microscopy, this sensor allows visualizing binding between a marker protein and DNA sensor. This interaction may be proportional to the activity of the enzyme Hagt.

        Besides its involvement in DNA repair, according to the article, this enzyme is considered a "major" marker in the diagnosis of cancer and a potential therapeutic target. The researcher at the Institute of Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia, CSIC Carmen Fabrega, who led the research, believes that "the sensor is extremely effective and reliable, and that the results can be viewed through an atomic force microscope."

        Similarly, the researcher believes that "the work represents a significant advance in the development of DNA as starting material for nanoscale biomedical devices."

        María Tintoré, Isaac Gallego, Brendan Manning, Ramón Eritja and Carmen Fábrega. DNA Origami as DNA Repair Nanosensor at the Single-Molecule Level. Angewandte Chemie. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201301293

        Picture By KES47 (File:Chromosome zh.svg) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

                  A barometer inside cells   

        This pressure may vary depending on environmental changes, which subjects the cells to a mechanical force whose influence is not entirely known. An investigation by the National Research Council (CSIC) has designed a device capable of detecting pressure changes inside the cell. Progress has earned the cover of the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

        The chip is 4 microns (equivalent to one millionth of a meter) wide, 6 microns long and 0.4 microns high. For the researcher of the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona CSIC José Antonio Plaza, responsible for the work, "one of the greatest achievements of the research has been to achieve such a level of miniaturization that allows the chip to enter the cell, where it resides without affecting its viability. "

        Chip base two silicon membranes 50 nanometers (one billion times smaller than a meter) thick which are deformed by the action of pressure. Both are joined to an optical resonator that modifies the light reflecting function of the force at which the membranes are subjected.
        Experiments on HeLa cells (a type of cell culture, particularly resistant) show that increasing extracellular pressure, it is transmitted inside the cell without its membrane and cytoskeletal oppose resistance.

        For its part, the researcher at the Center for Biological Research of CSIC Teresa Suarez, who led the biological work, explains: "The ability to measure pressure changes inside the cell it is essential to study cell deformation" . This cellular mechanical phenomenon is related to other processes such as development, migration and cell disease.

        Square believes that "this multidisciplinary research is a first step in the path of intracellular Nanochips sophisticated manufacturing". Advancing this field will create more devices with various functions such as the measurement of parameters mechanical, thermal, biochemical, and magnetic, and drug delivery. CSIC researcher concludes: "These chips could act as sentinels inside cells, always alert to check their status, inform the same and repair, if necessary.."


         Rodrigo Gómez-Martínez, Alberto M. Hernández-Pinto, Marta Duch, Patricia Vázquez, Kirill Zinoviev, Enrique J. de la Rosa, Jaume Esteve, Teresa Suárez and José A. Plaza. Silicon chips detect intracellular pressure changes in living cells. Nature Nanotechnology. DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2013.118

                  June 5th: World Environment Day   

        That date was chosen because on that day had started United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, following which created the United Nations Program for Environment (UNEP).

        This year, the main event of the day will be borne by the Government and the people of Mongolia. The main theme will be the new campaign of the United Nations Program for Environment (UNEP) and the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), Piensa.Aliméntate.Ahorra. Reduce your food footprint, which aims to reduce food waste.

        It is estimated that, every year, one third of the food produced worldwide for human consumption ends begins to spoil in the garbage containers and consumers, merchants, farmers and transporters. These 1.3 million tons, the value would amount to about $ 1 trillion, would be enough to feed several times the 870 million people who go hungry every day.

        The amount of uneaten food, which could be significantly reduced with very simple measures implies also a waste energy in the form of electricity and fuel used for food production and transport over long distances. In addition, decaying food from landfills generate significant amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, while forest loss to dedicate the land to livestock and food production contributes to global warming.

        If the new campaign was beginning to spread the message that every individual and every organization have, the World Environment Day aims to reinforce this idea.

        Although WED activities are not limited to a single day, the main celebrations take place on June 5 each year. Over half a million people have already registered on the website of the World Environment Day ( / wed). If you have not already, is still time to register your activity on the website and register to participate in the initiative WED Thunderclap, with which it plans to launch the world a strong message.

        As part of the celebrations, UNEP and its partners, including the World Resources Institute and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, presented two reports: one in which are a number of alternatives to reduce waste and food waste , and another in which it highlights the potential of small farmers to lift a billion people out of poverty, provided that the necessary conditions and provide adequate support.

                  Blue Apron IPO price values company at $1.9 billion: Dow Jones Newswires   
        Reported by MarketWatch 9 minutes ago.
                  Blue Apron Prices IPO At Bottom Of Deeply Discounted Range   
        Blue Apron Prices IPO At Bottom Of Deeply Discounted Range Perhaps impacted by Amazon's Whole Foods' deal, *Blue Apron just priced its IPO at $10 (30 million shares)*.

        Blue Apron Holdings #IPO - $APRN $IPO priced 30mm shares at a price of $10.00, and will debut tomorrow (6/29).

        — IPO Boutique (@IPOBoutique) June 28, 2017

        *The food-kit-delivery company slashed its marketed initial public offering price by 34% Wednesday*, cutting the range from $15 to $17 a share to $10 to $11, *the second biggest cut in five years*.


        *Perhaps the crushing discount on the IPO is because of this...*

        Via Daniel McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Emory University,

        *Good companies can acquire many customers cheaply, retain existing customers for extended periods of time, and generate a lot of revenue while those customers are alive.* Putting it simply, the litmus test of any company’s financial success is the ability to acquire many high lifetime value (LTV) customers. Being LTV-centric is at the heart of being customer centric.

        *Does Blue Apron, which recently priced its IPO at a very healthy ~$3 billion implied valuation (or almost 3.5 times trailing twelve month revenues), pass the test?* In my last note on Blue Apron, which was recently cited in the Wall Street Journal, I showed that while Blue Apron disclosed nothing explicitly about its customer retention, and very little about how its customer acquisition cost (CAC) has been changing over time, it disclosed just enough to use the modeling approach that I advocated in a recent journal article to “back out” what these figures are most likely to be. The conclusion: Blue Apron doesn’t retain customers for very long, and the cost to acquire customers has been on the rise lately. These are important ingredients to the overall customer-based corporate valuation recipe. At the same time, there is a lot more that we can learn from Blue Apron’s S-1 disclosures.

        I went back and built a much more complete model to leverage all the data that Blue Apron has disclosed. I explicitly model how customers are acquired, how long they remain customers before churning, how many orders they make while they are retained, and how much they spend on each of those orders. This more general model allows us to incorporate all the metrics that Blue Apron has disclosed, such as six-month cumulative revenue for annual customer cohorts. It allows us to refine answers to previous questions, such as what Blue Apron’s retention curve looks like, and answer new ones, such as how the post-acquisition profitability of customers has been changing over time, and whether younger customers generate more revenues as they age or not (e.g., that the customers who stick for a long time around reorder a substantial amount).

        The results continue to suggest challenges ahead – retention is even weaker than I had originally estimated it to be, new acquisition cohorts are generating less revenues than old ones, and as customers age, they spend less and not more with the firm. In recent months, I estimate that Blue Apron is losing money on ~70% of the customers that it acquires. I dive into the model briefly next, before expanding on these conclusions.

        -*The Model*-

        My model for the acquisition and retention of users remains the same, using only the cost per acquired customer, historical marketing expense, and active customer data as inputs. However, I built additional models for how many orders customers make while they are alive, and how much they will spend on a particular order. I estimate parameters for each of these models so that what we expect the data to be is as consistent as possible with the disclosed data. As before, wonkish comments are provided below.

        The resulting relatively simple composite model does an excellent job of fitting the observed data. As shown below, it provides a very reasonable fit to all the data – the number of active customers, total customer acquisitions, orders, revenues, and cumulative revenue per acquired customer metrics. I provide a series of charts summarizing this performance below, all of which are accessible in Excel spreadsheet form here (download), if you would like to examine the numbers yourself. On to the charts!

        Quarterly total number of active customers:

        *Aside: Total active customers must be larger than total subscribers, and it is unconventional for a subscription business such as Blue Apron to report the former instead of the latter.* Blue Apron defines active customers to be the total number of customers who have placed at least one order during the quarter, regardless of whether or not that customer has churned by the end of the quarter or not, from what I can tell. Active customers is a more appropriate metric for (and traditionally only disclosed by) non-subscription businesses such as social networking companies, mobile gaming companies, and e-commerce retailers (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Zynga, and Amazon’s e-commerce business).

        Cumulative customers acquired, Q1 2014 to Q1 2017:


        Quarterly total orders:

        Quarterly total revenue:

        Cumulative revenue per acquired customer for customers acquired between Q1 2014 and Q1 2017, 6 to 36 months out:

        Cumulative revenue per acquired customer over next six months for customers acquired in 2014, 2015, and 2016:


        The fact that my relatively simple model is consistent with the data along so many key dimensions at the same time provides some comfort that we can trust the results of the model. Let’s discuss those results next.

        -*The Results: Anti-stickiness – Low Retention and Declining Revenue per Customer, Over Time and Across Cohorts*-

        Here is a summary of what I found from the deeper dive:

        *1.   The retention curve is worse than I originally had estimated it to be. *While my substantive conclusion remains the same, I estimate that *72%* of customers will churn by the time they are six months old. Because Blue Apron cannot retain customers for extended periods of time means that CAC is effectively part of cost of goods sold. CAC should go down relatively sharply over time as a percentage of sales at healthy businesses, as sales are increasingly derived from loyal customers who have been around for a while. When customers churn out very quickly, that pool of loyal customer revenue remains small, making CAC effectively variable in nature.

        *2.   The revenue that Blue Apron is generating from more recently-acquired customers is less than from customers acquired in the past.* Every new acquisition cohort generates, on average, about $7 less in revenues over the next 6 months than the cohort which preceded it, which adds up quickly over time. In other words, while the cost to acquire new customers is going up, the go-forward value of those newly acquired customers is going down. Both trends are driving LTV lower over time. I suspect that this is due at least in part to the vast sums of money that Blue Apron is spending upon subscriber acquisition expenses (SAE). It is very common to see LTV go way down when SAE goes way up.

        *3.   While customers are alive, the amount of revenue that Blue Apron generates from them tends to go down, not up, over time. *This makes it unlikely that long-time loyal customers will “bail out” the firm because they are also high spenders, a common trend at mobile gaming companies, for example – in fact, we infer that the opposite has been taking place. As customers get older, they place fewer orders on average, which is only slightly offset by a marginal increase in spend per order over time. Customers are not “sticky.” Moreover, at subscription-based businesses like Blue Apron, there is only so much that big spenders can spend, while there is no such upper bound at non-subscription businesses.

        *4.   70% of recent Blue Apron customers will not break even.* We estimate that CAC in Q1 2017 is $147. To break even at this CAC, new customers must generate at least $565 of net revenue (i.e., gross revenue minus returns and promotional discounts), assuming Blue Apron’s variable contribution margin is equal to ~26%. The chart above shows that newer customers must remain subscribed for about 4.5 months to generate this much revenue. However, almost 70% of customers churn by this time and thus do not break even. Even though Blue Apron turns a profit on the remaining 30% of customers, the break-even point is moving farther away with every new cohort due to declining revenue and growing CAC for newer customers.

        *In summary, this customer-based analysis spells trouble for Blue Apron, with important measures of customer health in decline.* Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods is likely to make it even more difficult to keep those Blue Apron subscribers coming back. I recommend that Blue Apron redouble its efforts upon activities that will make customers “sticky” in the long run. Investors are clamoring for customer metrics so that they can go beneath surface-level financial metrics to better understand Blue Apron’s underlying unit economics. I hope that this analysis takes investors a step closer to what they are looking for, and that Blue Apron will begin disclosing a few more.

        A big acknowledgement goes to Valery Rastorguev. All errors and omissions are mine.

        -*Wonkish Comments*-

        1.   The model for the acquisition and retention of users over time is essentially unchanged from our previous analysis, except for two factors:

        · I re-incorporate marketing spend into the acquisition process. More than ever, the data demanded that this covariate be included because it had a strong positive relationship with customer acquisition. While I would not read too deeply into its coefficient estimate, including it gives us a much “cleaner read” into the company’s retention trends, as well as the evolution of CAC over time. It implies acquisitions are more front-loaded than previously estimated, which as I suggested in my previous post, led to worse retention trends.
        · I accounted for the aforementioned fact that Blue Apron reports active customers and not total subscribers.

        2.   The total orders model assumes that customers by definition place an order the week they are acquired as customers. They will make purchases in subsequent weeks with some probability, which is a function of how tenured the customer is, and when they were acquired as a customer. The model allows for seasonal fluctuation in the order rate over time.

        3.   The spend per order model assumes that the expected revenue derived from a particular customer’s order is some function of a time-invariant baseline, how tenured the customer is, and when they were acquired as a customer.

        4.   The retention, order, and spend processes are assumed to be independent of one another a priori (but not a posteriori, if individual-level data were available).

        5.   The variable contribution margin is assumed to be equal to Blue Apron’s most recent gross margin (31%), less 5% of sales from non-SAE operating expenses which are assumed to be effectively variable in nature. This is substantively consistent with Lee Cower’s assessment of fully loaded contribution margin. Had I optimistically assumed that no non-SAE operating expenses are effectively variable in nature, the current break-even point is closer to four months.

        6.   I agree with Lee Cower’s comments regarding margin improvement over the past few years. However, I also agree with his opinion that gross margin improvement appears to have stopped and thus is unlikely to resume in the future.

        7.   The proposed model’s implied six-month retention rate of approximately 30% is consistent with the retention rate estimated by business intelligence firm SecondMeasure, and implies that business intelligence firm 1010data’s 10% retention rate estimate is pessimistic. A helpful benefit of methods such as the one proposed in this note, which leverage first-party disclosures, is that they do not rely upon data from a panel of users which may not be representative of the overall customer base of the focal firm in question.

        *  *  *

        But apart from that we are sure BNob Pisani will see it a success tomorrow morning when it opens... Reported by Zero Hedge 16 minutes ago.
                  Nepal Rastra Bank : Frankly my Dear, I don't give a damn!   
        Disclaimer! : This isn't a sarcastic post. Just a personal frustration over the central bank behavior

        First, they gave license to any business entity trying to get into Banking and Financial Sector. Their logic was that it will increase access to financial services in the nation. But, all the BFIs were urban area centric. Even their policy to make BFIs have mandatory branches in the rural areas isn't having any impact on overall access to financing. Far better are the smaller cooperatives and microfinance institutions, who are active in the grassroot level. But, impact of this sector too is corrupted by high interest rates.

        After few years and few governors,  the NRB fellas found that there were too many BFIs in the nation. They brought Merger Bylaws and then Acquisition Bylaw. Their point was that the nation is too small to have so many institutions. NRB states that they have far few people to oversee so many institutions? Haven't they learnt anything from 2008 Financial crisis? Are they not creating institutions too big to fail? One Gurkha Development Bank had such big ripple effect in the economy. Imagine what would a failure of commercial bank with over 20 billion in deposits have  in the economy? Fewer institutions also means that the sector is moving towards monopolistic economy. (See for Herfindahl index). How will this further suck the consumer interests?

        And, after years of downturn and consolidation, the Nepalese economy is finally coming up. The domestic and foreign investors are upbeat about the economy. Investments and investment commitments are rising. The budget has prioritized capital investments and has created favorable environment for infrastructure development. Be reminded that infrastructure projects are capital intensive. Right then NRB comes up with monetary policy to suck up the "extra- liquidity" from the market. Agreed that the market is high on liquidity, and agreed that this could lead to bubbles in stock market and real estate. But there could have been directions to avoid these bubble creations rather than just increasing the CRR, which is expected to drain the market with NPR 6 billion instantly. (This is like 60 MW hydropower project with full equity). The ripple effect of this will be swift. I don't think the government doesn't have enough expertise and resources to take on all the infrastructure projects single handed. It needs equal, if not more, participation from the public. With NRB trying to mop up " excess- liquidity", the interest rates are bound to increase, so will the costs of projects. This will further damage the investment environment.

        It seems NRB is always on trial and error mode. Maybe, it is because the governors and the board changes after their tenure and are not accountable to anyone for their decisions and policies. What happens if their decisions backfires or their tests fail? Who is NRB accountable to?

        Do they really care for the public or the development of Nepal or they just churn out policies and bylaws because some damn economist published these in some weird journos. I think it is time NRB is held accountable for their policies. Only, then will they see the bigger picture and analyze the impact of their policies on the overall economy. 

                  The Way Ahead for Wal-Mart   

        On one hand, Wal-Mart is losing its competency in price leadership in the US, while its international expansion activities are problem-rich. It suffered net loss of $15.699 billion for the year 2012. According to a report by Forbes, the products at Wal-Mart are 19% more expensive than at Amazon.
        Moving forward, Wal-Mart must first try to strengthen its competency in price leadership and then expand in the international market. We thus recommend a sustainability strategy followed by growth strategy for Wal-Mart.
        Sustainability of its price leadership competence is under fire, causing serious questions on its value proposition. The following strategies could help Wal-Mart regain its competitive edge in retail business in terms of prices:
        ·         E-Commerce and Mobile Presence
        In 2011, online purchases from Wal-Mart website accounted to just 1.1% of total sales. At $4.9 billion sales, it lags even the likes of Apple Inc. in terms of online sales. With lower overhead costs in terms of reduced staff, rental and utility expenses, Wal-Mart would be more competitive in terms of prices if it were to expand its sales percentage through online sales.
        Interactive website should be developed to handle the maximum purchase activity. Massive investments are to be put into place for successful delivery of online sales. Integration with mobile applications could help the matter further. But, the return in competitive advantage in terms of pricing means it can then sustain its value proposition.
        ·         Remodeling Physical Stores
        Physical stores could be modified to deliver services. For products, apart from being a sales store, it could act as a showroom with focus on brand promotion and customer acquisition. Sales orders could be taken in store or via the online services, and delivery made through the distribution hubs. Similar model is being followed by the Brazilian retail chain Casas Bahia. This model would help sustain the cost competitiveness of the retail chain by reducing space required for stores, focusing on competency, i.e. SCM, and reduced staff requirements.
        ·         SCM Improvements
        There has been news of empty shelves at Wal-Mart. This means the SCM needs further fine-tuning. In addition, to be able to provide home delivery at humongous proportions, SCM needs to be further improved. 
        Ø  Relationships with Suppliers and Employees: Cases of poor working conditions at the suppliers of Wal-Mart have been the talking point for numerous pressure groups. In addition, the employee issues at Wal-Mart are creating lot of negative sentiments in the developed world. Wal-Mart should work with the suppliers and the employees to create better working conditions by creating and strictly following code of conduct. On the long run, the associated costs due to these activities would seem minimal compared to the losses in brand name and legal suits.
        ·         Social Media and Data Analytics
        Social media should be further integrated in the marketing approaches to understand the consumer behavior and serve the customers. With the integration of this into the central MIS, efficient decisions on SCM and other operational activities would be ensured. MIS should be developed to determine demand of customers more accurately throughout its stores to achieve cost advantage by holding the correct inventory. This would further lead to optimum utilization of resources and thus reduce costs.
        These activities should be integrated and should consolidate each other to create a synergy and help retain the cost competitiveness to Wal-Mart.
        Major part of profits of Wal-Mart is being contributed by the market outside of US. With purchasing power of customers rising significantly in the emerging nations, Wal-Mart has no option but to expand in these markets. Nevertheless, as shown by the failure in South Korean market, Wal-Mart needs to understand that the strategy made for US will not necessarily work in other markets. Customization to cultures and customer behavior are the key; so is the relation with the government. We propose the following model for Wal-Mart in its international expansion:
        ·         Joint Ventures
        The retail industry in the emerging nations is comprised of few organized retail chains and numerous smaller local stores. To understand the consumer behavior and supplier relations, Wal-Mart should enter these markets by joint-ventures with successful local business houses. This will reduce the risks of government intervention too. After understanding the operations and the needs, Wal-Mart can then go for maximum allowed stake (by government of concerned nations) in these partnerships.
        ·         Customization
        As discussed earlier, understanding and customizing to diversity would be a key to success for Wal-Mart in the emerging economies. For this, apart from the local partners in JV, MIS should guide the decisions in the operations in these stores.
        Wal-Mart should focus on transnational strategy where it will be able to adapt to local needs of the market like in China, leverage unique advantage of local markets to drive sales, market share and profit growth but with a central corporate facility. Knowledge of customer behavior would strengthen the validity and acceptance of actions.
        ·         Develop and Follow Standards
        One dilemma faced by organizations headquartered in US while expanding in the emerging markets is what standards to follow? - The ones of US or those of the home country. On the short run, the latter may be beneficial, but on the long run, this will come to haunt the organization. A lot of such issues have surfaced for Wal-Mart over the years. While moving ahead, Wal-Mart should develop “code of conduct” for its global operations and comply to it strictly. This will ensure that the international expansion is sustainable and accepted by the home country government and citizens.
        Even while following growth strategies, Wal-Mart should work on the sustainability strategies: - strengthening its resources for sustaining its competitiveness in price leadership.

                  Envisioning the Future of Retail Market   

        Online Stores
        Internet has brought paradigm shifts in all the industries. Internet enables companies to increase their connectivity while reducing the overall costs. In retail industry, online stores have an advantage over brick and mortar stores with their lower overhead costs. This makes players like Amazon extremely competitive in cost leadership segment. With the development of internet payment gateways and consumer acceptance over the credibility of stores, online purchases are likely to grow significantly over the coming years.
        Even in emerging economies, where credit cards and internet payment gateways are not accessible to mass, “cash on delivery” services enable online stores to foster. E.g.: Flipkart in India.
        According to technology and research firm Forrester, we can expect e-commerce to increase (in US) by 13 percent in the year 2013, to a whopping $262 billion.
        Mobile Stores
        Smartphones have presented a new market to the retailers. Enabled with rich applications[1]and QR code integration, smartphones have fostered the development and incorporation of virtual shopping screens and even robotic store displays in the retail industry[2].
        Consumers have been empowered of being able to buy things online straight from their phone and being able to buy things in store with their phone[3]. Companies like Square are further pushing this trend with devices and applications to make purchases from phones a commonality.
        Store within a Store
        One of the major issues faced by physical retail stores like Wal-Mart is the growing staffing costs. Retailers like J.C. Penney have found innovative concept of “store within a store”. The retailer sub-lets the space to the product maker and the counter is staffed by an employee of the product maker, not the retailer. Whether it is Chanelor Lancomeor some other brand, each product maker is “showcased” at its own counter[4]
        While competing in the cost leadership segment, reduction in the overhead costs gives an improved competitive edge to the retailers. Thus, acceptance and appliance of this model in the future by more retailers is a reality.
        Shopping Experience: New Types of Value for Customers
        It is going to very difficult for traditional retail stores to compete with online stores in terms of price. To pull the customers from comfort of their home to the stores, retailers have to create and sell shopping experiences[5]. Strategic alliances with brands to develop retail stores as brand and product showroom could be the way ahead[6].
        Online stores still lack browsing and discovery experiences that satisfy curiosity. Retail stores can work on new types of value addition for customers. Retail spaces can relax customers, offer refreshments, and provide entertainment while creating the conditions to engage in a conversation that builds brand loyalty.
        As retailers expand across the globe, there will be a need to customize strategies as per the customer’s behavior. Wal-Mart accepted this fact in 2006 and developed merchandising strategy to reflect each of six demographic groups. As retailers plunge into international expansion, one-size-fits-all strategy will not work. The successful retailers in the future will incorporate customer preferences across geographies and ethnicities, and customize accordingly.
        Data Analytics
        As the world is becoming more and more digitized, there will be hoards of information available for retailers to analyze and better fit their strategies to the needs of the consumers. More insights on consumer behavior and strategizing accordingly will ensure better performance. Use of social media will be a key to the extraction of this information. Retailers will increasingly use omni-channelapproach to track customers across all channels.


        [1] (Kanada, 2013)
        [2] (Silverstein, 2013)
        [3] (Phillips, 2012)
        [4] (Ganos, 2013)
        [5] (Jhonson, 2011)
        [6] (Geddes, 2011)

                  Nepalese RMG Industry: Reviving the lost glory   

        From the heights of 1999/2000, when the total RMG export was about NRs 12 billion to the lows of 2011/2012, when the total RMG export was NRs 4.05 billion, Nepalese RMG industry has continuously loosing international market to African and the South Asian manufacturers. One of the major damage was due to the removal of duty-free and quota-free access to its market by the then largest importer of Nepalese RMG – USA in 2004. Add to this, USA gave special preference to RMGs from African nations. The exports of RMG from Nepal declined sharply during this period, i.e. NRs 12 billion in 2002/2003 to NRs 6.7 billion in 2004/2005, with almost all the decline in the US market.
        Picture Source:

        To sustain, Nepalese RMG industry searched for other markets where it enjoyed preferential treatment. Japan, Canada and the EU market were the places to go. All these markets gave preferential treatment to the garment exports from Nepal. But, the industry must be cautious in terms of serving these markets. Japan and Canada could be just another USA. On the other hand, EU policies are very less subject to changes. Also, the EU gives special treatment to Nepal, along with Laos, through the derogation facility – the products needn’t fulfill the stringent criteria of rules of origin in order to get the duty-free access to the market. Another advantage of putting a lot of effort in this market is the sheer size of it – population of over 500 million.

        But, the industry should take the treatment as only the stepping stone to these markets. In order to sustain and grow in the market, the industry has to build its core competency and build its competitiveness as soon as possible. One of the most important features of the industry is that it can provide the quality preferred by the customers at the lowest prices. Another major advantage is that the customers trust Nepalese manufacturer over their South Asian counterparts due to past experiences.

        In order to make an impact in the European market, the RMG industry has to be able to partner with bigger retail chains and deliver their large orders – running in millions of pieces. But, due to regular load shedding, requirement of large labor force which would give rise to stronger unions flexing their muscle, irregular raw material supply and no standards on quality of end products which result in rejection of orders after they are shipped to the markets, the garment producers haven’t been able to accept and deliver large orders.

        Strengthening the existing association – Garment Association of Nepal (GAN) in order to share risks and opportunities among the members, should be able to solve the issues. GAN should act as a virtual company with the members acting as its satellite plants. The volume of raw material from the suppliers would be massive if the members acquired from GAN, which in turn purchased from the suppliers. This would increase the bargaining power of the purchasers and thus the timely delivery of materials with consistent quality would be possible. Also, taking huge orders from the European retailers would be possible, with GAN dividing the orders among the members as per their competency. Developing quality standards for the products and the production process by the association would remove the possibility of the customers rejecting the orders after they have reached Europe. Also, collaborative shipping would be possible. Huge volume of shipments would also mean lower costs via the concept of economies of scale. 

        These activities would sharpen the core competency of the industry, i.e. to provide quality at lowest prices. This will not just enable the industry to sustain in the European market but also grow there and in other markets, reviving the lost glory of the industry.

        (The article is based on the research done by a group (named Kanzen) of MBA 3rd term students of KU School Management, as per the requirements of their course – Global Business Management)

                  Why I didn't buy Janata Bank IPO shares   
        Last week was big for Nepalese investors. After a long gap, the investors got the opportunity to gain from an IPO listing in the form of Janata Bank IPO shares. Going by the trend in Nepal, the IPO shares are expected to at least double once the shares get listed in the share market, i.e. in two months time. This was enough for most of the Nepalese investors. The IPO shares were subscribed 3 times the allocated shares of 60 million.

        Even though my friends were busy filling the IPO share forms, I was stubborn on not participating in this IPO. The reasons were purely based on my financial analysis of the bank rather than anything else. The main reasons were:-

        1) Too much of leverage:
         In its two year of existence, Janata Bank had used a huge level of leverage (87%) to gain rapid growth. But with rapid growth came risky approach. As per Janata Bank statements, they thought a significant number of employees would be appropriately used after the IPOs. This means these employees are currently either under-performing or not needed by the company. The 60 billion Janata Bank raised from IPOs will reduce the leverage to 80%. This is a ceiling for many banks in the world. So, seeing the future, it will be very hard for Janata Bank to gain quick extra money to continue its rapid growth. All it can do for few years is to consolidate its growth.

        2) Uneven distribution of Provisions for Bad loans in the past two quarters:
        If you compare the income statements of last two quarters just before Janata Bank opened the IPOs, there seems significantly uneven distribution of Provisions for Bad loans. In the quarter ending 30.09.2068, the provisions is in the amount of about 60 million and in the quarter ending 30.12.2068, i.e. just before the IPOs were opened, the provisions is just for 23 million. Not surprisingly, the quarter ending 30.09.2068 has net loss of about 6 million, while the next quarter has net income of about 43 million. This could be a strategy of the bank to set a large portion of bad loans in the previous quarter, so that the statement just before the IPOs are very attractive to the potential investors.

        3) Increase in exposure to real estate loans:
        As all other banks in the country are trying to reduce their exposure to real estate loans, Janata Bank has increased the real estate loans by more than 3 times.  This is a very scary thing to do in the current scenario when the real estate prices are sliding down.
        Picture Source :

        Although the IPOs "may" give to 10-40% gain in 2 months time, Janata Bank shares may not be ideal for long term investments.

        Well this is just my thought. You can post in yours.

                  Mid-Trial, ABC and Beef Producers Settle ‘Pink Slime’ Case   

        Wednesday morning in the basement of the Union County courthouse in small-town South Dakota, the presiding judge arrived at her bench and announced the two sides in a defamation case worth billions had reached a settlement after four weeks of trial.

        The post Mid-Trial, ABC and Beef Producers Settle ‘Pink Slime’ Case appeared first on .

                  TSO and DSO transit to digital   

        At the InnoGrid2020+ conference,  European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič  highlighted that €3 billion of EU funding has been  made available for energy network infrastructure and research in the period 2014-2020, thanks to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and Horizon 2020 programmes. Discussions in opening panels pressed sensitive buttons calling for acceleration of  digital network operating. The CEF program seeks to connect all critical infrastructures as intermittent renewable energy is connected to electric and autonomous transport. Hydrogen was not part of the discussion on the first day as the Renault Nissan Alliance was invited as new kid "on the net". Digital Hydrogen Network operations has not yet been in the picture yet although the EHA in its monitoring of first stations still sees a variety in payment methods and the first offerings of HRS apps. (Photo: courtesy DG Energy)
                   Zara founder Amancio Ortega relaxes in St Tropez    
        The notoriously private businessman, 80, who is worth £65 billion, still goes into work and puts in nine hours most days  at Inditex - the parent company of brands such as Zara, Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti.
                  Webstock: The Shape of Things    

        In his The Shape of Things presentation at Webstock 2016 in Wellington New Zealand, Tom Coates shared his latest thoughts on designing for the Internet of Things. Here's my notes from his talk:

        • People used believed there would just be a few large computers that took care of our needs. They genuinely believed there wouldn’t be lots of little computers everywhere.
        • This year there will be 1.5 billion smartphones sold. In one human lifetime we went from essentially nothing to billions of computers shipped each year. There’s no sign of a slow-down.
        • In the future computers will be integrated into everything even when they only make tiny improvements. We already have smart ovens, scales, cleaners, security systems, batteries, etc.
        • You should use the network to amplify a tool’s core purpose not to be another Web browse or Twitter client.
        • There’s a push in the design industry to integrate software and physical objects. But we should be doing the reverse.
        • Many believe the world of screens and icons is an abstraction and that we should get back to manipulating the World as we used to: with our hands. The metaphor is enhancement: take an ordinary object and give it magical properties through network integration. The process is moving from abstraction to tangible interactions.
        • But is this really the answer to how we interact with networked objects? Perhaps not because the power of connected objects is in the connections. And those are hard to display physically.
        • An embodied object is not the same as the Internet of Things. We want our environment to respond to us not each individual objects.
        • Imagine if every object is completely intuitive because of interfaces optimized for specific tasks. You have to learn each of these UIs. But with a general purpose interface, you only have to learn to use it once to enable a variety of tasks.
        • What we should do instead is push the service layer further: to detach even more from objects. As an example, ZipCar uses very little hardware and is 95% service layer. All the value lies at this layer.
        • The ideal service layer: gives you control; supports you from initial set-up to the day you recycle it; understands it will be used by multiple people (the World is multi-user); is able to work easily with other devices; does not expect you to be a programmer; communicates clearly and politely in ways that are timely and familiar.
        • These six principles are important for any Internet of Things service layer. Thingdom is trying to build a UI layer that is rooted in social networking models and includes “robot butler” style prompts.
        • This type of service layer will ultimately exist for the planet. It will define how we interact with the World. Someone will build this, and infuse it with their ethics and beliefs. Get involved so your views are integrated.

                  Buffett's Berkshire on verge of becoming BofA's top shareholder   

        By Jonathan Stempel

        (Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc may be on the verge of becoming Bank of America Corp's largest shareholder, after the bank raised its dividend in the wake of a positive assessment of its ability to handle market stresses.

        Bank of America on Wednesday boosted its annual dividend 60 percent to 48 cents per share from 30 cents, beginning in the third quarter.

        Buffett has said a boost of that size would likely prompt him to swap Berkshire's preferred shares in the second-largest bank into common shares now worth about $16.7 billion.

        Berkshire did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

        An exchange would made Berkshire the largest shareholder of both Bank of America and Wells Fargo & Co , the third-largest U.S. bank, and more than triple a $5 billion investment made fewer than six years ago.

        It would also signal Buffett's confidence in Brian Moynihan, Bank of America's chief executive.

        Moynihan has worked to restore investors' confidence in his Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank after it spent more than $70 billion since the global financial crisis to resolve legal and regulatory matters, largely from its purchases of Countrywide Financial Corp and Merrill Lynch & Co.

        "Buffett has said he is very happy with what Moynihan's doing, and it's easy work for him to get more dividends," said Bill Smead, whose $1.16 billion Smead Value fund includes shares of both companies. "For Bank of America, it would mean a further endorsement by the most spectacular large-cap stock picker of all time."

        Buffett is worth $76.1 billion, Forbes magazine says.

        The dividend increase required approval by the Federal Reserve, which conducts annual "stress tests" of big banks' ability to handle tough economic and market conditions.

        On Wednesday, the Fed approved capital plans for Bank of America, which also announced a $12 billion stock buyback plan, and 33 other large U.S. banks.


        Buffett had bought $5 billion of Bank of America preferred stock with a 6 percent dividend, or $300 million annually, in August 2011, when investors worried about the bank's capital needs.

        The purchase included warrants to acquire 700 million common shares at $7.14 each, less than one-third Wednesday's closing price of $23.88.

        In his Feb. 25 letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett said he "would anticipate" swapping the preferred stock into common stock if the annual dividend rose above 44 cents per share.

        If Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire made the swap now, it would have a $11.7 billion paper profit and begin collecting $336 million of annual dividends, on top of roughly $1.7 billion of dividends already paid.

        A swap would also let Berkshire enjoy gains if Bank of America's stock price rose. In contrast, the value of the preferred shares will not change so long as Bank of America does not collapse. Berkshire's warrants expire in September 2021.

        Buffett's bet was among more than $25 billion of high-yielding investments he made from 2008 to 2011 in such companies as General Electric Co and Goldman Sachs Group Inc .

        The investments shored up confidence in the companies and helped give Buffett a reputation as a lender of last resort when times were tough.

        Bank of America's largest shareholder is Vanguard Group, whose 652.4 million shares give it a 6.6 percent stake, Reuters data show.

        (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler and Dan Grebler)

                  Stock market makes biggest gain in 2 months   
        The U.S. stock market notched its biggest gain in two months Wednesday, bouncing back from losses a day earlier. Banks and other financial companies led the rally as investors bet on interest rates climbing further. Energy stocks also rose as the price of crude oil closed higher for the fifth straight day. “These equity markets are perhaps in more of a relief rally, with investors coming back in after being away a bit here,” said Chris Gaffney, president of World Markets at EverBank. Traders bid up shares in financial sector companies amid heightened expectations that interest rates could be headed higher. Investors also bid up shares in companies that reported improved quarterly results. Homebuilder KB Home climbed $1.24 to $24.06, while wireless communications company CalAmp gained $1.19 to $20.44. Spectranetics surged 26.2 percent after Dutch electronics and health care technology company Philips said it agreed to buy the medical device company for $38.50 a share, or $2.2 billion. FedEx shares temporarily halted trading before the package delivery giant disclosed that an information system virus significantly affected the global operations of its TNT Express subsidiary.
                  WienerDrone takes flight; John Deere opens San Francisco lab   
        Oscar Mayer is rolling out the WienerDrone, the “first unmanned hot dog-carrying aircraft designed for remote location delivery.” Facebook, founded in 2004, took eight years to hit 1 billion; it hit this new milestone in five. The social network is now emphasizing private sharing in groups, which it said more than 1 billion people use. John Deere has opened a lab in San Francisco, with plans to hire eight to 12 people, Axios reports. Many tractors have actually been self-driving for years, with the autonomous vehicles freeing farmers to monitor seed and fertilizer application.
                  Business News Roundup, June 28   
        Facebook said Tuesday that it has deleted about 66,000 posts a week in the last two months as the social media giant cracks down on what it deems to be hate speech. The company said in a blog post that deleting posts can “feel like censorship,” but that it is working on explaining its process better and improving its enforcement of hate speech guidelines. Facebook defines hate speech as attacks on people based on their race, sexual orientation and other “protected characteristics.” Facebook plans to hire an additional 3,000 people in the next year to review posts. Home prices rose at a healthy clip in April, though the increase slowed a bit from the previous two months. Home prices are rising roughly twice as fast as average wages, a dynamic that may eventually stifle sales. Bidding wars among buyers competing for a limited supply of available homes are driving up costs. Low mortgage rates are also encouraging more Americans to buy homes. The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 118.9 this month from 117.6 in May. More consumers described current business conditions as good and jobs as plentiful. Market observers are watching for signals about when the central bank will start scaling back its $67 billion in monthly bond purchases, a program designed to increase inflation and growth. Two groups of offshore funds that invested in Bernard Madoff’s fraudulent securities firm agreed to pay a combined $370 million to resolve lawsuits by the court-appointed trustee raising cash for victims. Lagoon Investment and related funds will hand over about $240 million, while Thema Fund and its affiliates will pay about $130 million, trustee Irving Picard said in a statement Tuesday. Lagoon, which is based in the British Virgin Islands, and Thema, with headquarters in Bermuda, were among many feeder funds that directed cash to Madoff’s investment-advisory business, often without their customers’ knowledge. The deals with Lagoon and Thema were struck just one day after the estates of Madoff’s dead sons, Andrew and Mark, agreed to pay a total of more than $23 million to settle similar lawsuits. Martin Shkreli’s criminal fraud trial jury hasn’t been selected yet and already the brash pharmaceutical executive is trying to get the case thrown out of court and lashing out at reporters. Once in court, Shkreli’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman asked to start the trial over because news reports cited negative opinions prospective jurors had expressed about his client. More than a dozen people were dismissed from jury service Monday, including a woman who called Shkreli “an evil man,” and another who said she knew he’d been labeled “the most hated man in America.” Brafman also asked U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in Brooklyn to dismiss the entire pool of jurors, saying they were tarnished by the bad publicity and asked to restart the trial in a few weeks. By requesting a mistrial, Brafman is free to raise the issue of a tainted jury on appeal, should Shkreli be convicted. Shkreli, the 34-year-old founder of Retrophin and Turing Pharmaceuticals, is accused of defrauding investors in two hedge funds and using $11 million of Retrophin assets to pay them off.
                  Google hit with record fine by EU antitrust regulators   
        BRUSSELS — After a seven-year legal battle, European authorities came down hard on Google on Tuesday for taking advantage of its dominance in online searches to direct customers to its own businesses, fining the tech giant a record $2.72 billion and raising the prospect of more. A years-long analysis of Google’s online search results showed that the company lists links to its own online shopping services above those of rivals, European regulators said. On average, Google lists search results to its biggest rivals in online shopping only on the fourth page of results — and smaller rivals even lower. The ruling that Google is taking advantage of its market dominance in online searches paves the way for a broader crackdown by the EU, which is investigating several other Google businesses, like its online images and travel businesses. Google says it is considering an appeal and maintains it’s just trying to package its search results in a way that makes it easier for consumers to find what they want. “We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Kent Walker, senior vice president at Google, said in a statement. [...] there are plenty of search tools — from Camelcamelcamel, which tracks Amazon prices over time, to eBates, a shopping portal that offers coupons and cash back from 2,000 online retailers. “Google has become a shortcut to buying, not a shortcut to saving money,” said Benjamin Glaser, features editor of DealNews, a comparison shopping site. More broadly, Vestager said, the probe has established that Google is dominant in general Internet search in all 31 countries of the European economic area.
                  CBO: Senate health bill would lead to 22 million fewer insured   
        The Senate health care bill introduced last week would lead to 22 million fewer Americans having health insurance by 2026, while reducing the federal deficit by $321 billion, according to an analysis released Monday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Like the House bill, it would eliminate the requirement for individuals to buy insurance and repeal the taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans that paid for the expansion of coverage to millions of people since the law took effect in 2014. On Monday, GOP Senate leaders added a so-called “continuous coverage” provision that would require people who had gaps in insurance coverage of at least 63 days the previous year to wait six months, after signing up for insurance, before their new coverage kicks in. The Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would end the increased federal funding to state Medicaid programs that began under the ACA. [...] it would change the way Medicaid — called Medi-Cal in California — gets funded in the long run by capping the amount of money the federal government provides states each year, and tying that number to a growth rate that is slower than the growth rate of health care costs. The subsidies under the Senate proposal would be linked to a less generous insurance plan with a higher deductible — meaning even those who would continue to receive assistance would probably shoulder higher out-of-pocket costs. Older Americans, regardless of whether they receive subsidies, could pay much higher premiums under the GOP plan because both the House and Senate bills would allow insurance companies to charge older people up to five times more than what they charge younger people. Changes to the Senate bill are anticipated this week, as several GOP senators — from both the moderate and conservative wings of the party — have expressed reservations about the measure and could lobby for amendments.
                  Indian guru's festival on Delhi floodplain riles greens, worries police   

        By Tommy Wilkes

        NEW DELHI, March 9 (Reuters) - Indian environmentalists areaghast at the hosting of a huge cultural festival on thefloodplain of Delhi's main river that begins on Friday, warningthat the event and its 3.5 million visitors will devastate thearea's biodiversity.

        The "World Culture Festival", organised by one of India'sbest-known spiritual gurus, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spreads across1,000 acres (400 hectares) on the banks of the Yamuna. Itfeatures a 7-acre stage for 35,000 musicians and dancers, newlybuilt dirt tracks and 650 portable toilets.

        Green groups accuse organisers of ripping up vegetation andruining the river's fragile ecosystem by damaging its bed anddisrupting water flows. They want authorities to cancel theevent before more harm is done.

        "This land is not meant for any of those things. Thebiodiversity of the land has been completely destroyed," saidAnand Arya, one of several environmentalists who petitionedIndia's top green court.

        "Where will the sewage and the excrement go? All across thefloodplains!" he said, adding that the waste left by visitorswould endanger a nearby bird sanctuary.

        Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who like Ravi Shankar is ayoga devotee, was due to attend Friday's opening, but it is notclear whether he will do so after the event sparked such uproar- and not just among environmentalists.

        Delhi police have warned of "utter chaos" at the eventunless safety lapses are addressed, the Indian Express reportedon Wednesday, citing a March 1 letter to the federal governmentthat says the stage lacks a structural stability certificate.

        Ravi Shankar, who enjoys a cult following in India andabroad, has rejected the criticism. He has said he should berewarded for hosting the event alongside one of the country'smost polluted rivers.

        His organisation's lawyer, Saraswati Akshama Nath, saidnecessary approvals including safety certificates were grantedin December before construction began, and that the structureswould be removed once the three-day festival ends.

        "Consent was given to us by all the authorities," she toldReuters outside the court on Tuesday. "We have only usedeco-friendly material."

        The National Green Tribunal has recommended Ravi Shankar'sArt of Living Foundation be fined 1.2 billion rupees ($18million) to restore the land, and is expected to make its finalruling on Wednesday.

        Meanwhile, back at the festival site, builders are rushingto finish what they say is the world's biggest ever performingstage.

        "This here will have a symphony of 8,500, and this 20,000performers on stage at any one time," said Prasana Prabhu, atrustee of Ravi Shankar's foundation. (Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Douglas Busvine, RobertBirsel)

                  'Superstorm' crafts narrative from Sandy's wrath   
        <>"Superstorm" (Dutton), by Kathryn Miles

        It's been a weak hurricane season in the Atlantic so far, with little to worry U.S. coastal residents, but any forecaster will tell you: It only takes one storm to make a bad year.

        In 2012, that one storm was Superstorm Sandy, a hurricane that grew larger even as it lost its tropical characteristics and combined with an early winter storm and blast of arctic air. The "Frankenstorm" slammed the mid-Atlantic coast with a devastating storm surge, causing an estimated $62 billion in damage and losses in the U.S., leaving millions without power and killing at least 125 people in the U.S. and 71 in the Caribbean. It's the second-costliest storm in U.S. history after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

        Kathryn Miles' "Superstorm" explores the human drama that unfolded in the storm's path from its late October genesis in the southwestern Caribbean through its terrifying landfall near Brigantine, New Jersey.

        Miles has crafted a true narrative around Sandy's track over the Atlantic, not just a forecasting play-by-play for weather nerds. She weaves in the history of the "hurricane hunters" that fly into storms to collect data, the limits of forecasting technology and the tricks of psychology and risk assessment that sent one doomed ship into Sandy's path. Amid the drama, Miles finds ways to flesh out the forecasters, emergency responders, victims and survivors whose stories converged in Sandy's wrath, making their plight immediate and relatable to any reader, not just coastal residents accustomed to weather hype.

        If no more storm threats are looming on the horizon this year that leaves plenty of time to read Miles' wise and harrowing "Superstorm" — and to get prepared for the next disaster.



                  The £2billion hidden world of black market cigarettes revealed   
        Here are some of the sneaky ways shopkeepers hide black market cigarettes from the authorities
                  Drive expansion in China   
        Are you up for a year of adventure? We are looking for someone to be a part of a team whose main purpose is to help IKEA grow on the Chinese market. The assignment is initially for one year with an optional extension. Your employment will be within Capgemini Sweden but you will be located in Shanghai
        Be Inspired
        This is an opportunity to be a part of a growing team and to break ground in an expanding market. You will be faced with challenges that can offer you personal growth and give you global experience
        Be Challenged  
         In this role we´ll be expecting you to:
        •  Engage in the development of the local business together with the sales team in China. 
        •  Coach our colleagues in China in recruiting and develop the competence needed.
        •  Be an upholder of culture explaining and paying forward the IKEA spirit.
        •  Ensure that knowledge and solutions within the IKEA account is transferred to colleagues in China. 
        Be Valued 
        In order to thrive in the role you have excellent knowledge of the IKEA account and the processes that comes with it. You are currently grade C or above
        Contact us:
        If you have questions regarding the position, please contact us.  
        Contact Person: Roseanna Schultz 
        About Capgemini
        With more than 190,000 people, Capgemini is present in over 40 countries and celebrates its 50th Anniversary year in 2017. A global leader in consulting, technology and outsourcing services, the Group reported 2016 global revenues of EUR 12.5 billion. Together with its clients, Capgemini creates and delivers business, technology and digital solutions that fit their needs, enabling them to achieve innovation and competitiveness. A deeply multicultural organization, Capgemini has developed its own way of working, the Collaborative Business Experience™, and draws on Rightshore®, its worldwide delivery model.
        Learn more about us at
        Rightshore® is a trademark belonging to Capgemini
        SWE00768 SWE00768
        Mark as US content ?: 
        Worldwide content

                  Automotive Plastics Global Market Research Methodology, Research Scope Forecast 2022   
        Automotive Plastics Global Market Research Methodology, Research Scope Forecast 2022 According to Publisher, the Automotive Plastics Market is expected to reach $48.8 billion by 2022 growing at a CAGR of 14.7% during the forecast period 2015 to 2022. Rapidly growing automobile market, enhancement in vehicle design to reduce weight and

                  Airborne Fire Control Radar Market is Anticipated to Grow at a CAGR of 15.5% from 2016-2022   
        Airborne Fire Control Radar Market is Anticipated to Grow at a CAGR of 15.5% from 2016-2022 Airborne Fire Control Radar Market Report, published by Allied Market Research, forecasts that the global market is expected to garner $198 billion by 2022, registering a CAGR of 15.5% during the period 2016-2022. X-band segment is expected to witness highest

                  Commercial Aircraft Market Forecasts Healthy Growth by 2022   
        Commercial Aircraft Market Forecasts Healthy Growth by 2022 Global Commercial Aircraft Market is expected to reach $209 billion by 2022, according to a new report published by Allied Market Research.The turbofan engines segment is expected to dominate the market throughout 2016 - 2022. Asia-Pacific would probably continue to

                  Commercial Avionics Systems Market Analysis - Size, Share, Growth, Industry Demand, Forecast to 2022   
        Commercial Avionics Systems Market Analysis - Size, Share, Growth, Industry Demand, Forecast to 2022 Commercial Avionics Systems Market Report, published by Allied Market Research, states that the commercial avionics systems market was valued at $16 billion in 2014 and is projected to reach $26 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 7.1% from

                  Comment on Question Of The Day:- Would You Go Back To JSS 1 For 50 Billion Naira? by paper   
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                  Senior Revenue Accountant   
        TX-Dallas, Randstad US is a wholly owned subsidiary of Randstad Holding nv, a $24.5 billion global provider of HR services. As one of the largest staffing organizations in the United States, Randstad provides temporary, temporary-to-hire and permanent placement services each week to over 100,000 people through its network of more than 900 branches and on-site locations. We are partnered with an industry lead
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                  Great Barrier Reef worth $56 billion - Whitsunday Times   

        Whitsunday Times

        Great Barrier Reef worth $56 billion
        Whitsunday Times
        The Deloitte Access Economics analysis warns of vast economic consequences unless more is done to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Robert Irwin. Popular Stories. Caffeine and obesity link will make you order a double · Island caretaker has weeks to live ...
        Scientists find evidence of coral bleaching at iconic Heart
        Coal or coral? The Queensland Government seems undecidedGovernment News
        'Too big to fail'Fiji Times
        National Geographic -BABW News -Yahoo Singapore News -International Environmental Technology
        all 28 news articles »

                  Comment on Guest Opinion: R.I.P. OMMP by Davidfat   
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                  Nordheim Waits For Word On Fracking Fate   
        Sometime in November the one billionth barrel of oil was pumped out of the Eagle Ford Shale play – that’s according to the research firm Wood Mackenzie...
                  Duterte approves P305.6-B infrastructure, other projects   

        President Rodrigo Duterte has approved 11 priority projects worth P305.6 billion, mostly infrastructure, including the proposed P211.43-billion Malolos-Clark railway, Malacañang announced on Wednesday. Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board, headed by the President, approved “all items” submitted at Tuesday’s board meeting in Malacañang. The biggest [...]

        The post Duterte approves P305.6-B infrastructure, other projects appeared first on The Manila Times Online.

                  DPWH, Korean consultants sign Panguil Bridge deal   

        The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said on Wednesday it has signed a memorandum of agreement with Korean firms covering consultancy services for the P4.9 billion Panguil Bay Bridge Project in Northern Mindanao. The Korean companies are Yooshin Engineering Corporation, Pyunhwa Engineering Consultants Ltd., and Kyong-Ho Engineering & Architect Co. Ltd. The consultants [...]

        The post DPWH, Korean consultants sign Panguil Bridge deal appeared first on The Manila Times Online.

                  JG Summit sets P48.2B capex for expansion   

        GOKONGWEI-LED conglomerate JG Summit Holdings, Inc. is spending P48.2 billion ($960 million) this year to fund the expansion of its businesses including in petrochemicals. Of the total amount, JG Summit is allocating about P18 billion to P20 billion for its airline business, Cebu Air, Inc.; P7 billion for its food unit Universal Robina Corp.; P15 [...]

        The post JG Summit sets P48.2B capex for expansion appeared first on The Manila Times Online.

                  Taiwan Mining Billionaire Backs Down As Environmentalists Get Mad   
        A mining project run by a firm owned by Taiwanese billionaire Douglas Hsu is facing criticism from environmental groups.
                  Making History at Standing Rock: Tribes Are Leading Action to Preserve the Planet   
        Tony Webster/CC BY-SA 2.0

        In North Dakota, thousands of people are now encamped on the banks of the Cannonball River to oppose the Dakota Access pipeline with the Standing Rock Sioux.  Routed through sacred sites, the $3.8 billion pipeline would transport Bakken oil under the Missouri River, where a break or leak would poison water for Standing Rock and potentially millions of people downstream.  Members of at least 280 tribes and First Nations have come from around the U.S. and Canada to peacefully demonstrate, making this the largest gathering of tribes in generations.

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                  Edmonton should be 'cautious' about bringing mega events, like the Olympics, to the city: Iveson   

        Outcome comes after Calgary continues to debate whether or not they should bring the Olympics at a cost of $4.6 billion
                  Province commits to building 4,100 new affordable housing units   

        The $1.2 billion over five years will also go towards repairing 70,000 current units.
                  What the EU $2.7 Billion Antitrust Fine Means for Google Global Search Business   
        The European Union’s $2.7 billion antitrust fine by itself will hardly cripple Google’s global search business, but it is in the position of having to […] Read the original post by Evan Selleck
                  EU to slap Google with record fine this week   
        EU to slap Google with record fine this weekLed by hard-charging European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager, the EU will impose a massive penalty against Google that would break the previous record of 1.06 billion euros set in 2009 against Intel, the US chipmaker.
                  Cruising the Web   
        I never thought that Trump's travel order was necessary, but I didn't doubt that he had the power to issue that order. Given that he first issued the order about five months ago and it was only temporary while the administration figured out new vetting procedures for issuing visas. Well, that original time has now just about elapsed and there are going to be three to four months until the Supreme Court hears the case. So, the whole question may become moot by then if the administration actually does what it said it was going to do.

        Jonathan Turley chastises the legal pundits and appellate judges who thought that the order wasn't within the president's executive authority.
        For those of us who have long argued that the legal authority supported Trump, the order was belated but not surprising. However, the order does offer a brief respite for some self-examination for both legal commentators, and frankly, the courts. At times the analysis surrounding the immigration order seemed to drop any pretense of objectivity and took on the character of open Trump bashing.
        Turley argues quite accurately that Trump's persona and his own attacks on the media have driven the media so crazy is that they've dropped their supposed standards and ethics. The same appeared to be happening with the lower courts.
        For those of us who have long argued that the legal authority supported Trump, the order was belated but not surprising. However, the order does offer a brief respite for some self-examination for both legal commentators, and frankly, the courts. At times the analysis surrounding the immigration order seemed to drop any pretense of objectivity and took on the character of open Trump bashing....

        The court ruled “when it comes to refugees who lack any such connection to the United States, for the reasons we have set out, the balance tips in favor of the Government’s compelling need to provide for the Nation’s security.” The preliminary ruling on this type of stay indicates that, when the final merits are decided, a majority of the court is likely to make the changes permanent and binding.

        Indeed, three justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch — did not want any limitation on lifting the injunction and dissented from that part of the opinion. To use Johnson’s rhetoric, the date of the hanging is set for the October term absent a dramatic shift on the court. That gives us some time to contemplate how this controversy has impacted our core institutions.

        I previously wrote that Trump seems at times to bring out the worst of people — supporters and opponents alike. Yet, his signature attacks often cause people to fulfill the very stereotypes that he paints, particularly among some reporters and judges. Ironically, Trump’s attacks on the media as biased may not have been true at the outset but they are true now. Mainstream media have become openly hostile to Trump.

        There is often little distinction on some cable networks between the hosts and their guests in attacking Trump, who brings much of this criticism on himself in ill-considered and often insulting attacks. However, the media is trained to resist such personal emotions and retain objectivity. Throughout much of its history, it has done precisely that ... until Donald Trump.

        He seems like the itch that reporters and commentators just have to scratch and frankly sometimes it seems like a few are enjoying it too much. With ratings soaring, hosts and legal experts have shown little interest or patience in the legal arguments supporting his case, even though the Obama administration advanced similar arguments in court.

        The hostile (and often distorted) analysis in the media was disconcerting but predictable, given the trend toward greater opinion-infused coverage. Networks are fighting for greater audience shares based on formulaic coverage — offering echo-chamber analysis to fit the ideological preferences of viewers. For the anti-Trump networks, the legal analysis is tellingly parallel with the political analysis. These cable shows offer clarity to viewers in a world without nuance. The law, however, often draws subtle distinctions and balancing tests. In this way, viewers are being given a false notion of the underlying legal issues in these controversies.

        What has been more concerning is the impact of Trump on the courts. Trump shocked many in both parties by his personal attacks on judges as well as general disrespect shown to our courts. These were highly inappropriate and inaccurate statements from a president. However, once again, courts seemed to immediately become the very stereotype that Trump was painting.

        Of course, the White House gave the courts a target-rich environment in the first travel order, which was poorly drafted, poorly executed and poorly defended. Yet, the courts did not just strike those portions that were problematic. Where existing case law requires courts to use a scalpel in striking down provisions, judges pulled out a meat ax. They enjoined the entirety of the order while lashing out at Trump’s most sensational campaign rhetoric....

        In the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, judges brushed over the obvious improvements and again relied on Trump’s own comments and tweets. It seemed like sensational tweets were more important than long-standing precedent or official statements from the administration.

        The level of reliance on campaign statements by the courts was wrong in my view, as I have repeatedly stated. The record had conflicting statements from Trump and his associates but courts seemed to cherry-pick statements, relying on those that fulfilled their narrative while ignoring those that did not. The analysis of the order should have turned largely on the face of the document. While such political statements can be relevant to analysis (particularly in areas like racial discrimination), the court has always minimized such reliance in favor of more objective textual analysis.
        That doesn't mean that the order was good policy. But the basis on which the lower courts decided was to stretch the law just to deliver a blow to Trump.
        Courts that once gave President Obama sweeping discretion in the immigration field seemed categorically opposed to considering the same accommodation for President Trump. For commentators, viewers were given a highly distorted view of the existing law — brushing aside decades of cases while supporting the notion that a major federal policy could live or die by the tweet.
        The Supreme Court notably didn't pay any attention to Trump's statements. If all you knew about the executive order was what you heard in the MSM, you would be amazed that the Supreme Court struck down most of the injunctions against the implementation of the order. The media will have to search out

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        Andrew McCarthy explains why the Supreme Court order on the travel order is not as big a deal as perhaps President Trump would like to brag.
        This ruling is unworkable and actually doesn’t much narrow the lower-court stays.

        Let’s try to keep it simple here. The lower courts granted standing to challenge the travel ban to American persons and entities that had special relationships with aliens outside the United States. Ostensibly, the lower courts claimed that the rights of these Americans were harmed by the travel ban’s exclusion of aliens — specifically, aliens who a) are close relatives whose exclusion would deny family reunification to an American; or b) are scholars whose exclusion would deprive their contributions to American universities that had extended offers to them. In effect, however, the lower courts were vicariously granting American legal rights to aliens outside the United States, despite the judges’ grudging admission that the aliens technically had no such rights.

        In its order this morning, the Supreme Court did not disturb this arrangement.

        To be sure, the justices rejected the lower courts’ extension of vicarious rights to aliens who did not have such special “bona fide relationships” with American persons or entities. The lower courts’ reasoning for that extension heavily relied on the imputation to Trump of anti-Muslim bias — that’s part of why we can infer that most of the justices are not persuaded by that rationale. Nevertheless, six of the nine justices, at least for now, appear inclined to rule that Americans in these “bona fide relationships” with aliens have not only standing but legal interests sufficiently compelling to block enforcement of presidential orders that address national-security threats.
        Read the rest of his post for the evidence he marshals to criticize the Supreme Court's Monday ruling.

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        Rich Lowry refutes the idea that the GOP health care bills are doing anything all that radical in reforming Medicaid. What was radical is how the program expanded on Obama.
        The Democrats now make it sound as if the Obama expansion is part of the warp and woof of Medicaid. In fact, it was a departure from the norm in the program, which since its inception has been, quite reasonably, limited to poor children, pregnant women, the disabled and the ailing elderly. ObamaCare changed it to make a priority of covering able-bodied adults.

        ObamaCare originally required states to enroll able-bodied adults with incomes less than 138 percent of the federal poverty line starting in 2014. The Supreme Court re-wrote the law to make the expansion voluntary, and 31 states and the District of Columbia took it up.

        Traditionally, the federal government had paid more to poor than rich states, with a match ranging from 75 percent for the poorest state, Mississippi, to 50 percent for the rich states. ObamaCare created an entirely new formula for the Medicaid expansion population. It offered a 100 percent federal match for the new enrollees, gradually declining to a 90 percent match — supposedly, forever.

        So, perversely, ObamaCare had a larger federal match for the able-bodied enrollees in Medicaid than for its more vulnerable populations.

        “This higher federal matching rate,” writes health-care analyst Doug Badger, “allows states to leverage more federal money per state dollar spent on a non-disabled adult with $15,000 in earnings than on a part-time minimum-wage worker with developmental disabilities, who earns barely half that amount.”

        According to Badger, West Virginia received seven times as much federal money for spending $1 on an able-bodied adult than for spending $1 on a disabled person.

        This obviously makes no sense, and the Senate health-care bill phases out the enhanced funding over four years. But it doesn’t end the expanded Medicaid eligibility for the able-bodied. And a refundable tax credit will be available for low-income people that is meant to pick up any slack from Medicaid. This is hardly social Darwinism.
        THe other change is a change in how the federal government funds Medicaid in the states.
        The other, longer-term change in the House and Senate bills is moving to a per-capita funding formula for Medicaid, with the Senate bill ratcheting the formula down to per-capita growth plus the inflation rate — in 2026. Maybe this will prove too stringent, but it used to be a matter of bipartisan consensus that the current structure of Medicaid creates an incentive for heedless growth in the program.

        The way it works now is that Mississippi, for instance, gets nearly $3 from the federal government for every $1 it spends. Why ever economize? In the 1990s, the Clinton administration advanced what it portrayed as an unobjectionable proposal to make Medicaid more efficient while preserving the program’s core function — namely, a per-capita funding formula.
        So remember all this when you hear Democrats moaning that the GOP is set to kill millions of people. As Lowry analogizes, for progressives, the welfare state has become the equivalent of the Brezhnev Doctrine that once the Soviets dominated a country, it could never break free. Now once the welfare state has been expanded, it should never be trimmed back.

        Guy Benson is also trying to refute the Democrats' demagogic hysteria about the Senate plan.
        Republicans' plan would make Medicaid fiscally sustainable, and gradually revert back to a model that prioritizes help to the poorest people, who need the most help. It's perverse that the federal government provides a more generous funding formula for Medicaid's better-off, better-situated expansion enrollees than the original, neediest population for whom Medicaid was supposedly created in the first place. And while the GOP proposal would reform the structure of the program by offering a capped per-capita annual allowance to each state (which would foster restraint, prioritization, innovation, and creativity), the notion that it makes drastic "cuts" to the overall program is deeply misleading. ...

        This funding increase of tens of billions of dollars is nevertheless cast as a "cut" because it would spend less than Obamacare would.

        Just imagine what the media would be saying if Claire McCaskill were a member of Trump's administration.
        n March, Sen. Claire McCaskill was unambiguous. The Missouri Democrat said she never once met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in her 10 years serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

        "No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever," McCaskill tweeted. "Ambassadors call members of Foreign [Relations Committee]."
        Soon after that tweet, it was revealed she did interact with the Russian ambassador.

        And now, CNN has learned, McCaskill spent an evening at a black-tie reception at the ambassador's Washington residence in November 2015.

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        Yesterday I speculated that the Supreme Court's ruling in the Trinity Lutheran case might be used to overturn states' Blaine amendments blocking state aid to schools with a religious affiliation. Well, it seems that that was indeed the Court's intention with an order remanding a case back to the lower courts that they issued on Tuesday. The WSJ reports,
        In 2011, Colorado’s Douglas County adopted a Choice Scholarship Program to let 500 students attend a local private school. But groups including the American Civil Liberties Union sued. The Colorado Supreme Court killed the program citing the state’s version of the Blaine Amendment, one of many state anti-Catholic laws from the 1800s to prevent public money from funding religious schools ( Doyle v. Taxpayers for Public Education).

        The Douglas County School District and the Institute for Justice, which represents three families in Colorado, appealed to the Supreme Court in 2015, but the Justices held the petition pending the resolution of Trinity Lutheran v. Comer on Monday. On Tuesday the Court vacated and remanded Doyle to the lower court for reconsideration in keeping with Trinity Lutheran’s holding that Missouri’s application of the Blaine Amendment violated the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.

        The High Court typically vacates and remands only when the Justices think there is a “reasonable probability” that the lower court got it wrong. Colorado’s do-over is a warning to other states that might use Blaine Amendments to derail school choice programs that threaten teachers unions and the public school monopoly.
        I'm for as much choice as possible in education. I've seen what it means at the charter school where I teach and at the charters in Washington, D.C. where my daughter has worked. The more opportunities there are for students to get out of bad schools and for their parents to choose other options, the better.
        The win comes at a good time for school choice advocates who have been building momentum in the states. In May three families successfully challenged a Montana rule that prevented a voucher program from being used at religious schools. On Monday the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously upheld a program of tax credits for scholarships to some 13,000 students to attend private schools.

        School choice is spreading because parents want the chance to get their child a better education than they receive in local public schools. Sometimes that enhanced opportunity is offered by religious schools, and the First Amendment does not allow the state to discriminate on the basis of religion.

                  Italy to pay up to 17 bln euros to save two troubled banks   
        Italy to pay up to 17 bln euros to save two troubled banks"The total resources mobilised could reach a maximum of 17 billion euros -- but the immediate cost to the state is a little more than five billion," said Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan.
                  August 2015 Site Visit Campaign   

        As part of the FY 2016 Homelessness Funding Campaign, the Alliance is launching an August 2015 Site Visit Campaign to encourage advocates across the country to engage with their Members of Congress while they are home for the August recess. The Campaign aims to:

        • Raise awareness among the public and Congress about the issue of and solutions to homelessness;
        • Educate Congress on the need for increased resources for HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants and Housing Choice Vouchers and to ensure that it provides enough funding for these programs; and    
        • Ask Members to lift budget caps to allow appropriators to increase resources for homeless assistance and affordable housing programs in the final FY 2016 spending bill. Specifically ask them to commit to communicate the messages that “providing $2.480 billion for the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in FY 2016, including $40 million for homeless youth initiatives, and sufficient funding to renew all existing Housing Choice Vouchers and an additional $512 million to restore vouchers lost to sequestration are high priorities” to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

        The best ways advocates can achieve these goals are by taking the below actions:

        1. Host A Member for a Site Visit

        2. Conduct In-District Congressional Meetings

        If your Members do not have time in their schedules to attend site visits, or if you do not have the capacity to plan one, the next best thing you can do to engage your Members this August is to conduct in-district (or state) congressional meetings. The Alliance has materials to help you plan and execute these meetings, including the following (that denoted with a * is specifically meant for use during the August 2015 Site Visit Campaign):

        We are happy to work with you every step of the way to help you customize these materials, strategize about which Members of Congress to engage, and with anything else for which you may need assistance. Please contact Julie Klein or Jaime Colman to get involved!

                  Staples in $6.9 billion sale to private equity firm Sycamore   
        (Reuters) - Sycamore Partners said on Wednesday it would acquire U.S. office supplies chain Staples Inc for $6.9 billion, a rare bet by a private equity firm this year in the U.S. retail sector, which has been roiled by the popularity of internet shopping.

                  What Could Be More Democratic Than Pushing Vouchers for a Billionaire US Ed Sec?   

        What Could Be More Democratic Than Pushing Vouchers for a Billionaire US Ed Sec? By Mercedes Schneider | From Mercedes Schneider’s EduBlog | 2017 | Follow Mercedes Schneider @deutsch29blog | Photo credit: Gage Skidmore | Syndication made possible through Patreon. By Mercedes Schneider US ed sec Betsy DeVos has one principal goal for American public education: Slice […]

        The post What Could Be More Democratic Than Pushing Vouchers for a Billionaire US Ed Sec? appeared first on Garn Press.

                  Global Valve Market is expected to Reach USD 92.65 Billion In Terms of Revenue and 427.2 Million Units in Terms of Volume by 2020   
        Global Valve Market is expected to Reach USD 92.65 Billion In Terms of Revenue and 427.2 Million Units in Terms of Volume by 2020 Global Valves Market: Snapshot The global valves market earns a dominant share in revenues owing to applications across manufacturing and oil and gas industries. These sectors have either been hit drastically or have seen sizeable slowdown in the past few years.

                  Global Platform as a Service (PaaS) Market to Expand at 25.7% CAGR, Driven by Outstanding Performance by Leading Vendors   
        Global Platform as a Service (PaaS) Market to Expand at 25.7% CAGR, Driven by Outstanding Performance by Leading Vendors Platform as a Service’ (PaaS) in combination with IaaS and SaaS is a cloud computing service model. The global Platform as a Service (PaaS) market was valued at USD 1.60 billion in 2013 and is forecast to grow at a

                  Home Automation System Market Expanding with Growth in HVAC Applications   
        Home Automation System Market Expanding with Growth in HVAC Applications Global home automation market was valued at USD 4.41 billion in 2014, growing at a CAGR of 26.3% from 2014 to 2020. Home automation systems refer to all such systems, whether used as a single application or as integrated solutions

                  Automotive Radar Global Market Trend, Research Approach, Data Analysis and Forecast to 2022   
        Automotive Radar Global Market Trend, Research Approach, Data Analysis and Forecast to 2022 According to Publisher, the Global Automotive Radar market is accounted for $1.2 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach $3.9 billion by 2022 growing at a CAGR of 18.7% from 2015 to 2022. The factors such as increasing advancements

                  Academy’s Response to Budget Agreement   
        The Academy for Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research (Academy) issued the following statement in response to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending package released today, which provides $34.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a $2 billion increase including $352 million provided in the 21st Century Cures Act for targeted initiatives.   The [...]
                   Office supplies chain Staples sold for $6.9 billion    

        NEW YORK (AP) — Private equity firm Sycamore is buying office supplies chain Staples for $6.9 billion. Reports back in April said the chain was in deal talks, less than a year after it dropped a $6.3 billion merger with rival Office Depot because of opposition from antitrust regulators.

                   Spectranetics and General Mills climb; Paychex slides    
        The medical device company agreed to be bought by Dutch conglomerate Phillips for $38.50 a share, or $1.68 billion. The wireless communications company had a better first quarter than Wall Street anticipated. The Wall Street Journal reported that the office supplies retailer agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Sycamore Partners.
                  Facebook reaches 2bn users   
        Mark Zuckerberg has added another billion to its already extensive user base. Yes, now Facebook has 2 billion monthly users. That’s basically two-thirds of the world’s population with Internet access. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the milestone on a post and said, “As of this morning, the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people! […]
                  Genetic Testing for the Healthy   
        Whole genome sequencing involves the analysis of all three billion pairs of letters in an individual’s DNA and
                  1 billion suns: World’s brightest laser sparks new behavior in light   
        Physicists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are seeing an everyday phenomenon in a new light. By focusing laser
                  Secret Saudi-Israel Arms Deals   

        The “landmark” $110-billion arms deal Donald Trump announced on his visit to Saudi Arabia is like the president himself – a lot of hype but little substance. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA counter-terrorism expert and National Security Council advisor in four administrations, said there’s no deal, just “a bunch of letters of interest or intent, […]

        The post Secret Saudi-Israel Arms Deals appeared first on The Blogs | The Times of Israel.

                  22 Million Americans Could Lose Health Insurance Under Senate Bill   


        The Congressional Budget Office says the number of uninsured people in the United States would rise to 22 million within the next ten years under the Senate health care bill.

        The Senate’s bill would replace the Affordable Care Act, a law that former President Barack Obama supported. The Affordable Care Act is often called Obamacare. Republicans have spent about seven years attempting to cancel Obamacare.

        The CBO said in a study released Monday that the Senate bill would decrease the federal budget deficit by $321 billion by 2026.

        This is the second health care bill to be considered in Congress. Both the House and the Senate have different health care bills. In order for a bill to become law, it needs to pass both the House and the Senate and be signed by the president.

        Senate leaders plan to vote after the July 4th holiday on their version of the bill. Currently, Americans are required to buy health insurance or pay a fine if they do not. The Senate’s bill would end that requirement.

        In addition, the bill would end subsidies meant to help lower-income people buy insurance. It would also decrease some taxes on higher-income people. And it would cut billions of dollars of government funding for the health care program for poor and disabled people over the next few years.

        Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. and his fellow Democratic Senators, hold photographs of constituents who would be adversely affected by the proposed Republican Senate healthcare bill Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y. and his fellow Democratic Senators, hold photographs of constituents who would be adversely affected by the proposed Republican Senate healthcare bill

        Opposition to the bill

        To pass a bill in the Senate, a majority of senators must vote for the bill. If there is a tie, the vice president can vote to break the tie. Currently Republicans hold 52 of the 100 seats in the Senate. All 46 Senate Democrats are expected to vote against the bill. In order for the bill to pass, Republicans can risk losing only two of their senators.

        A group of Republican senators has already said they will not vote for the bill in its current form.

        When Obamacare became law in 2010, it passed without any Republican votes. Since the 2016 elections, Republicans gained control of the presidency, the House and the Senate. A change to Obamacare could be possible now.

        About 20 million people have received insurance with Obamacare. Many of those people are covered under the government’s Medicaid program for the poor and disabled.

        The two bills to change Obamacare propose to cut about $800 billion in federal funds for Medicaid over the next few years. President Donald Trump had stated during his campaign for office that he would not cut Medicaid funding.

        Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told ABC that he hopes that Republicans will talk with Democrats and work together on a solution to make Obamacare better.

        I’m Mario Ritter.

        And I’m Olivia Liu

        Olivia Liu adapted this story for Learning English from VOA News and AP reporting. Mario Ritter was the editor.

        Words in This Story

        uninsured –adj. not having an agreement with a company or agency that helps pay for the cost of a service such as health care

        subsidiesn. government payments to producers or individuals that reduce the cost of a good or service to make it easier to get

        We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

                  US Tech Companies Face Big Legal Problems in Europe   


        The European Commission (EC) has fined Google $2.7 billion for unfairly influencing online search results for its own businesses.

        It was the largest fine ever ordered by the EC against a single company in an antitrust case. Antitrust laws are designed to protect trade from unlawful restrictions and unfair business activities.

        European Union (EU) investigators said that in online searches with Google, the company listed links to its own online shopping services above those of competitors.

        “What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules,” said European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate,” she added.

        Google, which operates under parent company Alphabet, denied any wrongdoing.

        'We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today,” chief lawyer Kent Walker said in a statement.

        Google said research shows users of its website like when they link directly to products they are looking for.

        “When you shop online, you want to find the products you are looking for quickly and easily,” Walker said. “And advertisers want to promote those same products. That is why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.”

        The EC investigation lasted about seven years. It was launched after consumer websites accused Google of unfair business practices.

        Visitors talk to staff members at a Google stand during the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing, China, April 28, 2017. Google's search engine and email service remains blocked in mainland China but Chinese companies make use of its ad se Visitors talk to staff members at a Google stand during the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing, China, April 28, 2017. Google's search engine and email service remains blocked in mainland China but Chinese companies make use of its ad se

        In addition to the fine, the company is required to develop a plan to give competing shopping services equal treatment. Google has 90 days to stop suggesting its own links over those of competitors. If it does not make changes, it faces fines of up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide earnings.

        The EU consumer group BEUC praised the fine. “This decision is a game-changer,” said director general Monique Goyens. “The Commission confirmed that consumers do not see what is most relevant for them on the world’s most used search engine, but rather what is best for Google.”

        In the past, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated Google for possible antitrust practices. Part of that case also involved accusations that the company used its search engine to support its other businesses.

        The company ended up reaching a settlement with the FTC in 2013. At that time, the FTC said Google had “agreed to change some of its business practices to resolve (FTC) concerns that those practices could stifle competition.” Some of the changes related to Google’s online search advertising.

        American tech companies face legal problems

        Other American technology companies have also faced legal troubles in Europe. Facebook was recently fined $122 million for giving misleading information to officials during its purchase of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014.

        Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an event to announce new products at Apple headquarters, Monday, March 21, 2016, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an event to announce new products at Apple headquarters, Monday, March 21, 2016, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

        In 2016, the European Commission demanded that Apple pay about $14 billion in back taxes. The EC said Apple owed the money because it had received unfair tax assistance from Ireland that amounted to a form of “illegal state aid.”

        Apple, one of the world’s biggest companies, denied any wrongdoing and appealed the case. It said the EC findings were based on “fundamental errors” made during the investigation. The company criticized the commission for not explaining exactly how it reached its ruling.

        The EC said Ireland gave too many tax breaks to Apple. It said this resulted in an effective tax rate on Apple’s European profits of just 0.005 percent in 2014.

        I’m Bryan Lynn.

        Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from AP and Reuters. George Grow was the editor.

        We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

        Words in This Story

        merit n. a good quality

        innovatev. do something in a new or different way

        promotev. help or develop something

        consumer n. someone who buys or uses goods or services

        relevantadj. how something relates to something else

        stifle v. stop something

        fundamental adj. relating to the main part of something

        shoppingadj. of or related to buying goods or products

                  Google to Stop Searching Email to Sell Advertisements   


        Google says it is going to stop searching the email of its users to sell online advertisements.

        The technology company said on Friday that, 'Consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization after this change.'

        The company announced the change on its website. It said it would stop scanning email at a time later this year.

        For years, privacy rights activists and many users had raised concerns about the email scanning.

        Competitors Microsoft and Apple also have criticized Google for mining users’ emails in order to sell advertising.

        Google has been scanning email in its Gmail service in order to match subjects that people were writing about with advertisements. For example, someone writing about food might start seeing ads for cooking equipment.

        Advertisements are still going to appear in Gmail, says Google. However, instead of scanning email content, the company says it will use other signals to find out what ads will appeal to its users.

        It notes that ads shown on users’ email accounts can be controlled with the user’s settings. Google says it is possible to disable the ad personalization at any time using the settings.

        Google introduced Gmail in 2004 at no cost to the user. The company says about 1.2 billion people use the electronic message service.

        The company noted that the decision “brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products.”

        More than three million companies pay to use Google G Suite for businesses, according to Google.

        The service does not have ads and does not scan emails. However, Google said that some of its business users believed that the company was scanning email in its business email service.

        By ending scanning for all its email services, Google may be hoping more businesses will use the G Suite service.

        I’m Mario Ritter.

        Mario Ritter adapted this report for VOA Learning English from AP and other sources. Hai Do was the editor.

        Words in This Story

        content –n. any kind of material ideas, facts, or images that are read, heard or watched

        scan –v. to search

        personalization –n. a process of changing something for a particular person

        mine –v. to look for something valuable or useful

        We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

                  Worst Case Possible Comes True: Louisiana Sinking Fast   


        For the last 80 years, the coast of the U.S. state of Louisiana has been losing land to water in the Gulf of Mexico. The land has been disappearing through a natural process called subsidence.

        But scientists now say Louisiana is sinking faster than they thought.

        Worst-case scenario

        A new study shows that the Louisiana coast is sinking at an average rate of nine millimeters – almost one centimeter – per year.

        Torbjörn E. Törnqvist is a geologist at Tulane University in New Orleans. He is one of the writers the study, published June 14 in the Geological Society of America’s GSA Today.

        He says the new rate is higher than other recent studies have shown. And, he adds, the finding is not good news.

        “That rate is about the same as what in previous studies has been cited as the worst case scenario. So the more pessimistic numbers that people have used in the past. Well, it turns out that those are the rates that are actually happening.”

        And the news gets worse. Törnqvist says that, in addition to the land dropping into the water, climate change is causing sea levels to rise at a rate of about 3 millimeters a year in the area.

        He says the sea level rise is “almost certain to increase in the future,” and at a faster rate by the end of the century.

        The combination of the land sinking and the sea rising means the Louisiana coast “has one of the highest rates of sea level rise to the land anywhere in the world.”

        “You can look at maps or satellites images of parts of the coast and see what it looked like, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago and compare that to what it looks like today and the differences are staggering in many cases. There are areas that were still solid marshland 50 years ago and now it’s entirely open water.”

        Buras, Louisiana 1932 (Credit: US Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS) Buras, Louisiana 1932 (Credit: US Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS)

        Buras, Louisiana in 2006, 74 years later. (Credit US Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS) Buras, Louisiana in 2006, 74 years later. (Credit US Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS)

        For their study, the researchers used a new method. They combined GPS, or satellite system measurements, rods and instruments to measure both deep underwater and surface rates.

        They measured 274 sites along the Louisiana coast. While they found the average loss rate was 9 millimeters a year, some areas lost more than 2 centimeters, and others almost none.

        Researchers created a map showing where – and by how much – land is sinking along the coast.

        Why is Louisiana so vulnerable?

        Louisiana sits where one of America’s largest river, the Mississippi, empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The river has been naturally dropping mud and sediment along the coast for probably thousands of years.

        However, the coastline lacks strong bedrock, so the land washes away easily.

        Jimmy Frederick works for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL). He explains that human activities have changed the natural process of the river adding and removing sediment.

        For example, the levees built to protect New Orleans and other cities changed the flow of sediment. Now the sediment moves farther into gulf waters instead of along Louisiana’s coast.

        Don Noel carries his daughter Alexis, 8, with his wife Lauren, right as they walk through a flooded roadway to check on their boat in the West End section of New Orleans, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Don Noel carries his daughter Alexis, 8, with his wife Lauren, right as they walk through a flooded roadway to check on their boat in the West End section of New Orleans, Wednesday, June 21, 2017.

        The state of Louisiana is also rich in oil and gas. Half the nation’s oil refining ability is in the state. Its busy ports carry goods up and down the river. Trucks then carry them across the country.

        Frederick says extracting the oil and gas has meant cutting into the marshland and harming some areas along the coast.

        At the same time, losing coastline affects the oil, gas and other industries – and, therefore, the U.S. economy.

        When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005, oil production was shut down for three days. As a result, the price of gasoline nationwide rose an average of 46 cents.

        What can be done?

        Jimmy Frederick’s organization, the CRCL, worked on a state plan to stop the land loss. The $50 billion plan aims to restore Louisiana’s coast.

        It also aims to protect the state from its frequent tropical storms and hurricanes. Just last week, Tropical Storm Cindy damaged the levee on Grand Isle, Louisiana, and left a highway covered in water.

        The Louisiana state plan is to move sediment back into the wetlands. Frederick explains that, simply said, the engineers would cut holes in the levees.

        “So that at times the river can then flow as it naturally would and replenish the wetlands, and that will help a couple of things. That will help keep up with sea level rise a little bit better because Louisiana, as you know, is sinking very, very quickly, because of our geology but also because of sea level rise.”

        When the projects are completed, they will add or maintain almost 1,300 kilometers of coastal land and wetlands.

        The project is delayed until the U.S. government approves the plan.

        The CRCL says help cannot come soon enough because, on average, Louisiana loses 91 meters of land to the gulf every hour. Since 1932, the state has lost over 3,050 kilometers.

        Geologist Torbjörn E. Törnqvist says the most important way to fix the coastline is to do something about climate change. If we do not, he warns, “then it’s going to be an unfixable problem,” and sea levels will rise at much higher rates than we see today.

        I’m Anne Ball.

        Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

        Words in This Story

        subsidence – n. the sinking or lowering of an area of land.

        worst case scenario – phrase. the most serious or damaging thing that could happen in a situation

        pessimistic – adj. having or showing a lack of hope for the future : expecting bad things to happen

        staggering – adj. very large, shocking, or surprising

        marshland – n. an area of soft and wet land

        rod – n. a straight, thin stick or bar

        sediment – n. material that sinks to the bottom of a liquid

        bedrock – n. the solid rock that lies under the surface of the ground

        levee – n. a long wall of soil built along a river to prevent flooding

        extract – v. to remove (something) by pulling it out or cutting it out

        replenish – v. to fill or build up (something) again

                  Foxconn May Spend Over $10 Billion in US Expansion   


        A Taiwanese electronics company says that it may spend more than $10 billion to develop factories in the United States.

        Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn, made the announcement to reporters Thursday. In January, the company said it would build a display panel factory, estimated to cost as much as $7 billion. Gou did not provide details Thursday about where building might take place.

        Manufacturing Giant

        Foxconn is the biggest contract manufacturer for smartphones. It makes products for Apple, Sony, Blackberry and other companies.

        Gou told shareholders that Foxconn will create U.S. manufacturing and software development operations in artificial intelligence and automation.

        He said that Foxconn has been in contact with the Trump administration. He added that he expects to finish negotiations by the end of July or early August.

        The first investment agreements could involve at least three U.S. states. Three others could be added later, Gou said.

        'We will provide at least tens of thousands of job opportunities,' Gou said Thursday.

        He said Foxconn hopes to work with American states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Texas.

        Implications of Foxconn's expansion to the U.S.

        In January, Gou said that Pennsylvania was the top candidate for the panel factory. It would be linked with the Sharp electronics company.

        Foxconn bought the Japanese company in March 2016 for $3.5 billion.

        Expansion into the United States would decrease Foxconn's dependence on China. The company has about 1 million employees and most of its operations in that country.

        I'm John Russell.

        Joe McDonald and Johnson Lai wrote this story for AP. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

        We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

        Words in This Story

        display panel – n. a part of an electronic device (such as a computer monitor) that shows information

        contract - n. legal agreement between companies, people, etc..

        smartphone – n. a mobile telephone that can be used to send and receive e-mail, connect to the Internet, take photographs, etc.

        artificial intelligence – n. an area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to seem like they have human intelligence

        automation – n. running or operating (something, such as a factory or system) by using machines, computers, etc., instead of people to do the work

        opportunity - n. a situation in which something can be done

                  Mitt's Pyrrhic Victory   

        Most people agree: Mitt won the first debate against the President. The question, therefore is, how did he win it?
        Governor Romney and President Obama
        He was clearly the aggressor and people generally like their President to be aggressive. Romney correctly figured out that if he was to have a shot at the presidency, he would have to take the fight to the incumbent. Just like in boxing, the challenger has to clearly put the champ on the defensive.
        But how did he do it?
        In short, he did it by changing his positions one more time, by re-inventing himself. If one is keeping track of Romney's positions over his career you could be forgiven if you thought he had multiple personalities. Since Mr. Romney does not have the burden of leading the free world, he is free to change his positions on just about anything to suit his purpose. His hammering away at Obama may have consequences that may not be helpful to the challenger, however. For one, there will be increased scrutiny of Romney’s more outlandish claims.
        Let's start with the opening of the debate. Romney and Ryan both have been talking about lowering taxes on the “job creators.” [for a discussion about job creators, read “The Real Job Creators” on this blog] It is practically Republican gospel that lowering taxes on wealthy people is the path to job creation. George W. did it with disastrous results and, while Obama wants to let the Bush tax cuts die, Romney has indicated that not only does he want to keep the Bush cuts to the very rich, but then lower them even more.

        “I will not reduce the taxes paid by 
        high income Americans.” - Mitt Romney

        During the initial exchange of last night's debate, however, we learned that no, no, no, the Governor is not about to give any breaks to the rich. His exact words were “I'm not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high income people.” I did a double take so fast that I think I sprained my neck. Later on, in the same segment he said that he wants to bring tax rates down “both for corporations and for individuals.” Romney has raised flip-flopping to a new height -- he is now flip-flopping within the space of five minutes! He topped his thought when he boldly stated that he would not introduce any tax cut that would “add to the deficit.” He doubled down when he reiterated “I will not reduce the taxes paid by high income Americans.” Well, that clears it up then. I guess if you have this level of shamelessness, and you don't care about math, it is easier to score debate points.
        This is not some small detail in an otherwise great plan. It is the core of Romney's plan, similar to Ronald Reagan's and both Presidents Bushes' plans which gave us astronomical deficits. The older Bush had to actually renege on his “no new taxes” pledge just to prevent the deficits from getting any steeper.
        But the whoppers did not end there and we haven't even left the first segment yet. Romney has found a new love for the middle class and wants to lower taxes on them too because he knows that is what people want to hear. And to top it off, he wants to raise defense spending, a cute trick on the way towards his claim of balancing the budget.
        In the next segment, when the President repeated his desire to end any tax incentives for companies to ship jobs abroad, Romney played dumb and said he never heard of such a thing in his years in business when his company, Bain Capital took full advantage of that loophole. After many attempts to eliminate the loophole failed in Congress due to Republican opposition it is the height of hypocrisy for Romney to pretend he never heard of this tax break. Again, when you don't have the responsibility of governance, you can make outrageous remarks like this.
        On the hot topic of Medicare, after lambasting the President for finding savings in the program, he vaguely alludes to younger recipients that they will be taken care of without specifying how. He is telling young people to just trust him.
        On healthcare, Romney elevated hypocrisy to a another level. He finally came across praising his own “Romneycare” which he had been ducking until now and had the gall to say how well it worked in Massachusetts and how “Obamacare,” which is based on the Massachusetts model was going to be a disaster for the Nation. He had previously avoided talking about his own healthcare success for fear of being compared to the President's reform. Last night, he threw caution to the wind and just boldly stated that what worked so well in Massachusetts could never serve as a model for the Nation.
        When Obama made his case for the federal government having a role in helping education, Romney replied by assuring Americans that he too, supported education, not exactly in the same way as the President, but he too was a believer in teachers, in quality education even though his budget belies his allegations. Obama actually put resources and programs to work to help education, including taking away billions the banks were making at the expense of students seeking college loans. Romney would never have supported that, but claims he is a strong supporter of education. There was no end to the Romney double talk.
        One of the truisms Romney uttered last night was that the private marketplace in order to work properly needs rules and regulations. The same applies to debates, one of the ultimate expressions of the free market of ideas. But unlike in boxing, in debates there is no referee. There is nobody taking away points for sucker punches. In boxing, the ref can even disqualify a fighter for fighting dirty. No such things happen in a political debate. There are no rules, no points taken away for low blows, or even for bringing a knife to the fight. Anything goes in politics.
        There is an important difference between boxing and debates, however. In boxing the decision is made immediately after the fight and that's all she wrote. In politics winning a debate is more like winning one round. The people are the ones who will ultimately decide what the impact of this first round win will be. There will be at least two weeks of poll numbers to judge whether Romney moved the numbers significantly in his direction. Will the celebrated swing states swing in his direction or will they stay with the President, for example. The next debate between the two Presidential candidates will be round two and you can bet that it will go differently depending on where the two stand in the battleground states.
        I think Romney may yet regret that he got what he wished for. Winning the first round can produce many unpredictable consequences.

        Link to C-SPAN for debate archives and more.

                  Bopp 'til you Drop   

        James Bopp, is a rather obscure lawyer from Terre Haute, Indiana. I say obscure, because he is not known by the general public, but to the anti-abortion crowd he is kind of a hero. He has served as the general counsel for National Right to Life since 1978 and as the special counsel for Focus on the Family since 2004. Bopp was the editor of Restoring the Right to Life: The Human Life Amendment. (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1984)
        James Bopp
        This story is not, however, about Bopp's abortion bona fides. He is better known as the guy who brought us rivers of money to political campaigns as he argued successfully for Citizens's United in front of the Supreme Court.
        His success had a improbable start. He was literally laughed out of court when he had the temerity to state that the hit piece on Hillary Clinton, Hillary: The Movie, was legitimate news and should be allowed to air on TV as would any news piece. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) told Citizens United that it couldn't air the film during primary season, because it amounted to a 90-minute campaign ad. In court, Bopp argued that the movie wasn't so different from what you'd see on 60 Minutes, and its creators deserved First Amendment protections. At that point, US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth laughed out loud. "You can't compare this to 60 Minutes," he said. "Did you read this transcript?"
        But funnier things happened on the way to the Supreme Court since the justices saw fit to overturn the FEC's decision, thereby ushering in a new age of unlimited campaign spending whereby billionaires could contribute unlimited cash – anonymously if they wish – to support the candidates of their choice, virtually annihilating the years of campaign reforms that had been painstakingly achieved on a bipartisan basis over many years. One stroke of the pen eliminated years of legislative work. President Obama famously predicted that the decision would go down in history as a terrible experiment much to the visible disapproval of justice Alito during a State of the Union address.
        The assumption, of course, by both Democrats and Republicans, was that the Republicans, with their billionaire minions would have a huge advantage and that cash advantage does seem to have materialized in that candidate Mitt Romney, the self-confessed candidate of the plutocrats, has been awash in campaign cash, much of it of dubious origin and difficult to account for. He used his cash advantage to blow away his Republican primary competition which is certainly evidence of poetic justice since Republicans generally welcomed the Supreme Court decision with open arms, not to mention open wallets. The Romney rivals never had a fighting chance as they were severely outspent by the faux conservative Romney and, in an ironic twist worthy of an Agatha Christie novel, the more conservative candidates were pulverized by the very money they worshiped, allowing the moderate and more “flexible” Romney to win the nomination. Never was the saying, “Be careful what you wish for...” more true.

        Never was the saying, “Be careful 
        what you wish for...” more true.

        Romney has demonstrated that the well-heeled are the ones in the best position to rake in the cash, not necessarily the ones with the most conservative ideas, which is why we have a Romney/Ryan ticket and not the converse. There is even loose talk among the conservative claque that Romney should step aside and allow for the ideologically more “pure” ticket of Ryan/Rubio.

        But it is too late.

        Romney, the poster child of unfettered capitalism, has won the money race fair and square under the new Bopp rules, and Bopp, as a modern Dr. Frankenstein, has joined his newly created monster who turns out to be exactly what the system created. He is an unfeeling money hound with no scruples or core principles aside from a strong desire to win at any cost, much like the mythical Gordon Gekko, that fictitious lizard of Wall Street fame.
        The final irony is this. All that humongous horde of cash cannot hide the fact that Romney is a deeply flawed candidate and the instincts of the American people are proven correct once again. Romney is perceived as the phony he is by friend and foe alike. The only thing keeping his campaign even remotely competitive is that 1) there are people who genuinely dislike the President and would vote for Joe the Plumber before voting for Obama, and 2) the economy is in a sluggish recovery so therefore there is more pain out in the country than usual.
        If it wasn't for these two factors, all the money in China wouldn't be enough to save Mitt's candidacy. What will be interesting to see is after the Bopp experiment has run its course, and the big money fails to win, what will the Congress do about campaign finance reform? To quote the great poet ee cummings,
        “how do you like your blueeyed boy
        Mister Death”

        Link to C-SPAN for debate archives and more.

                  Dirty Harry Meets Harvey   

        Clint Eastwood at the Republican Convention
        Film buffs remember Jimmy Stewart's iconic portrayal of a simple man who had a six foot two invisible rabbit as a friend. Stewart carried the 1950 film classic, Harvey which centered around the question of whether Jimmy Stewart's character was sane or insane.
        There is no question that the rambling Clint Eastwood is sane. His performance at the Republican National Convention, where he conversed with an invisible Barack Obama, may have been a bit bizarre but it nicely encapsulated the fiction that continues to be the criticism of the President. Clint Eastwood was short on specifics, but he tried to reinforce the myth that the President is a nice guy but in over his head, that he is not up to the job.

        The media generally has panned Eastwood's convention performance, alleging that he sounded like an “old,” almost senile man who was generally an embarrassment and out of synch with the Republican convention. Certainly, he was a shadow of himself if you compare his performance in Tampa with the powerful Superbowl commercial he did for Chrysler. The Chrysler commercial was criticized by Republicans for sounding too pro-Obama. Somehow, truth-telling, which is what Eastwood was doing in the commercial, seems to benefit the President. But Eastwood went beyond truth-telling in that hard-hitting Dirty Harry style spot. The commercial not only reminded Americans of the critical role the President had in saving the US automobile industry, but Clint made that all-American pitch, that we were merely at halftime, alluding to not only the break in the football game but also, some concluded, to the halfway mark of Obama's presidency. Therefore, it became imperative for the Republican Party to make clear to the voters that Eastwood was a supporter of the Republican ticket.
        But Eastwood is no old senile man. Far from it. He is as clever as a fox. His performance was not only designed to pander to the delegates at the convention but was also designed to plant seeds of doubt among the undecided voters. Unfortunately for Clint, it was too clever by half and he got lost in his contradictions. It is hard to make the point that Obama is a “nice guy” who is in over his head while simultaneously attributing epithets such as “go fuck yourself” and “shut up” to him since most people think of their President as a mild-mannered man. Eastwood did, however, capture the essence of the Republican message and talking to a non-existent Obama pretty much says it all. The Romney/Ryan campaign is entirely dependent on perpetuating a critique of a non-existent Obama. The following is a small representative sample:
        The Stimulus was a Failure
        It is a classic fallacy that if something does not solve every problem it must have failed. In order to make this statement believable one must suspend all reality. The only legitimate critique is that the stimulus could have been larger, but that is counter to Republican orthodoxy that government is powerless to solve anything. Thousands of jobs were either saved or created. All manner of projects, both in the public sector and private, were brought to success. For example, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, would never have been able to balance his budget without stimulus funding. All manner of infrastructure work was accomplished in spite of a few projects which were not quite “shovel ready.” The Republican critique only works if one concentrates on the few failures. A short quote from tells a small part of the story:
        Today, the Obama Administration announced the selection of the first public-private pilot institute for manufacturing innovation in Youngstown, Ohio, to help revitalize American manufacturing and encourage companies to invest in the United States. This new partnership, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), was selected through a competitive process to receive an initial investment of $30 million in federal funding and matched by $40 million from the winning consortium of manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations from the Ohio-Pennsylvania ‘Tech Belt.’ August 16, 2012 [source: Department of Commerce]
        There are countless initiatives that did not make the news. Unlike the simplistic slogans characterizing the media as “liberal,” the media gravitate more to sensational stories. For example, the closing of a single plant such as Solyndra in California is simple to report, while telling the bigger story of NAMII (the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) is more complex and nuanced and therefore a more difficult story to tell in a five minute segment.
        The Elimination of the Work Component of Welfare Myth
        This blatant falsehood is essential to paint Obama as a protector of the shiftless and lazy class, complete with racial overtones since so many people assume that welfare recipients are mostly blacks. The best numbers available on welfare recipients: Black – 39.8%, White – 38.8%, Hispanic – 15.7%, Other – 3.3%, Asian – 2.4%. [source:]
        All the fact-checkers agree that Obama did not eliminate the work component for welfare recipients. He simply gave, within the provisions of the law, some flexibility to governors, such as Mitt Romney himself, regarding how to attain the work requirement. For a party that is constantly promoting states rights not only is this critique a lie but it is disingenuous as well as hypocritical.
        The Gutting of Medicare Myth
        This is clearly one of the most pernicious of all the Republican lies. The $716 billion number Republicans bandy about as “taking” from Medicare is really a tightening of the program by negotiating with hospitals and other providers smaller reimbursements based on the expectations of an expanded population insured under the American Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The Republicans, on the other hand, have made no secret of their desire to eliminate Medicare by forcing future seniors into the private insurance market with the promise of a fixed subsidy that may or may not cover the insurance premiums, which will undoubtedly be extremely high based on probability factors. Ironically, only the full implementation of Obamacare with its insistence of insuring people with pre-existing conditions might palliate the Republican voucher plan. Of course, to add insult to injury, Ryan has the exact same cut to Medicare in his plan as Obama does.
        Obama Believes Jobs Come from Government
        This particular myth is actually quite easily disproved, although Republicans have repeatedly demonstrated that repeating a lie over and over again has an effect on the body politic. Public sector jobs grew by 4% under George W. Bush and shrank by 3% under Barack Obama, a fact that is just not generally known thanks to a failure of the Obama administration to push that point coupled with the media's infatuation with more sensationalist stories. Not only do too many people believe Obama is “growing” government but too many people don't realize he cut most of their taxes as well.
        This is why Clint Eastwood's dialog with a non-existent Obama rings true. Critics have had a field day accusing President Obama of the most outrageous fantasies. The above examples are merely a few selected policy fabrications, but the concoctions have been many and varied. The smears on his reputation seem to be endless, from raising doubts about his own birth, his faith, his convictions, almost everything about him has been called into question – not as legitimate inquiry, but as deliberate fraudulent statements designed to misrepresent. The Republicans have been criticizing a non-existent Obama for years and getting away with it.
        Clint indeed made their day.

        Link to C-SPAN for debate archives and more.

                  The Lessons of the Walker Recall   

        “Money talks; Bullshit walks.”
        - American proverb
        Americans have some quaint and colorful sayings, some of them very earthy. In the case of the singular recall election in Wisconsin yesterday, this is one case where American popular wisdom seems to have prevailed.
        Because of the complexity of the funding for this recall election the numbers vary depending on how you count. There was money spent on media advertising, organization, consultants, and so much more. Most fair pundits put the estimated funding discrepancy between Governor Scott Walker and Mayor Tom Barrett ranging from 7-1 in favor of Walker to 10-1. The latest figures I have seen show approximately $40 million spent on Walker's campaign and $4 million spent on Barrett's campaign.
        Governor Scott Walker 
        Whatever the actual final numbers will be, one thing is fairly clear. The Supreme Court ruling on the Citizen's United case has unleashed unlimited funds from the corporate sector and independent billionaires intent on influencing elections. The most disturbing aspect of this new legal experiment is that much of this money is donated anonymously.
        One of the lessons learned from this unusual election is that it is hard to know with any precision what role big money played in Wisconsin's election. Still, it is not unreasonable to assume that money played some role. There are many factors that went into the Walker victory, the main non-partisan point being that many voters did not think recall elections should be used for anything other than for criminal wrongdoing. Although there is vast discontent with Walker's policies in Wisconsin, Americans by and large are strong believers in fairness and don't usually support unusual remedies to remove politicians from office. The classic case, of course, is Bill Clinton's Monica Lewinsky scandal which left Americans with a bad taste throughout the country, but resulted in the impeachment attempt by a partisan Republican Party being rejected by a country tired of the overreaching by the opposition.
        Mayor Tom Barrett
        It could be said that the opposition to Governor Walker overreached, that the recall remedy was more than the public wanted. Perhaps the public would have settled for a reprimand, but our system does not really allow for that so a recall election is one of the few ways the public can register their disapproval.
        However, it is dangerous to read too much into this election. Yes, it is true that the unions in Wisconsin were not successful in removing their Governor from office in a special election. That is the bottom line and one cannot underplay that. But beyond that, it is not very clear what are the main consequences of this election. Not as reported, however, is the real possibility that the Wisconsin Senate is likely to go back into the the hands of Democrats, giving Walker a setback he did not get from his personal recall election. The recall will likely turn the Senate from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority, a major defeat for Walker's agenda.
        Anti-Walker protests at the Wisconsin Statehouse
        It will be interesting to see if Walker will continue his onslaught on Wisconsin's middle class. Although prognostications are always dangerous, it seems that Walker might become a bit more humble in his approach to governing and the legislature in Wisconsin will be more balanced as a result of all the recall efforts. After all, most Americans wish for a more balanced approach to government and generally reject all the hyper-partisanship that have become the norm in Washington D.C. these days.
        Governor Walker would be well served if he does not allow his victory go to his head and believe that he now has carte blanche to pursue a right-wing agenda. That would be a big misreading of the electoral results. Governor Walker has been given a second chance but a most telling number is that a full 60% of the voters in Wisconsin believe that their Governors should only be recalled or impeached for serious misconduct and policy differences do not really qualify.
        One thing seems clear, however, that there is too much unaccountable money in politics as a result of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Mitt Romney took advantage of this new law to overwhelm his competition for the Republican nomination. He obliterated competitors like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich with massive TV advertising subsidized by unlimited spending by mostly anonymous billionaires. This is an issue that will not go away soon.
        America has to decide whether a few billionaires should have special rights due to their financial position. Is money really the same as speech? Are Corporations really people? Aside from being the name of this blog, this is a question that will haunt America for the foreseeable future.

                  The Real Job Creators   

        “It's the economy, stupid.” Those prophetic words uttered by James Carville characterized the rise of Bill Clinton and were the driving force behind his upset win over George Bush senior, considered by many a shoo-in for a second term.
        Mitt Romney, hardly a fan when Clinton was President, currently praises the Clinton economy and has staked his run for the Presidency on making the case that he has what it takes to turn this economy around. He claims that Barack Obama is hopelessly in over his head. Romney boasts he is a “job creator” a phrase that no doubt has come from the laboratory of the dark Dr. Frank Luntz (see, “The Most Dangerous Man in America” on this blog). But whatever its origin, this phrase has become the mantra for the entire Republican Party with little push back from the Democrats who usually don't know when they are being played.
        Romney posits his company Bain Capital as Exhibit A. Exhibit B is his successfully turnaround of the Winter Olympics. Exhibit C is his stint as Governor which he will only talk about if severely water-boarded.
        The reasons Romney is loathe to speak of Exhibit C are obvious. First, he was the one who came up with “Romneycare,” the father of “Obamacare,” that he claims is an abomination and which he will repeal the first day he gets into office. Let us put aside the impossibility of eliminating “Obamacare” with a stroke of a pen because it would be violating the Constitution, a minor point to be sure, but as a newly elected President he would be wise to conform to the law for at least a day or so. Romney's problem is that his party has demonized “Obamacare” so much that he cannot take credit for his only real achievement as Governor of Massachusetts.
        It gets worse. His claim to be a "job creator" flies in the face of his miserable performance as the Governor of the Bay State when it was ranked 47th out of 50 states on this topic. Very hard to explain that considering Massachusetts has some of the best universities in the world and is a high tech center with innovations only rivaled by Silicon Valley in California. His claim to fame as a great job creator while leading a state leaves something to be desired so he has decided wisely to keep quiet about it hoping nobody will notice.
        His claim to fame as a great job creator 
        while leading a state leaves something 
        to be desired so he has decided wisely to 
        keep quiet about it hoping nobody will notice.

        Exhibit B is just as problematic as Exhibit C but for different reasons. Yes, Romney was the hero of the Salt Lake City Olympics. He inherited a scandal and ended in a profit. There is no question that without Mitt Romney the Salt Lake games would have been a bust. He did indeed put shoulder to the wheel – he bowed and scraped, saved here and there and raised funds from private sector companies that had never pitched in before. He lived and breathed Olympics. But there is one small detail that gets lost in all the laudatory praise heaped on Romney's white knight role. He successfully lobbied the Federal government for a cool $1.5 billion. Yes, the games generated a $100 million dollar profit which he likes to brag about, but without the $1.5 billion from the Feds he would still be paying off debts. Thus, Mitt has to tread lightly on the turnaround of the Olympics as a feat of his private sector job creating prowess. Maybe, due to the events of 9/11, the country needed a shot in the arm and the $1.5 billion was money well spent, even though many leaders of his own party were against this kind of bailout. Ultimately, however, the taxpayer was the final decider of success in that particular venture, not Romney.
        Exhibit A is Mitt's strongest suit. Some might even say, his only suit. And this is where Bain Capital comes in. Here's a taste of how they see themselves:
        • “Established in 1984, Bain Capital is one of the world's leading private investment firms managing approximately $60 billion in assets under management. Our affiliated advisers make private equity, public equity, leveraged debt asset, venture capital, and absolute return investments across multiple sectors, industries, and asset classes. Since our inception, our competitive advantage has been grounded in a people-intensive, value-added investment approach that has enabled the firm to deliver industry-leading returns for our investors.”

        Presumptive GOP Candidate Mitt Romney
        Nowhere in this description is there even a hint at job creation. Not even company creation. The emphasis is on the delivery of “industry-leading returns for our investors.” That is the bottom line for Bain and for Romney himself. And their track record speaks for itself: What ever it takes to make a buck. Sometimes companies thrived and Romney is quick to point out his successes which are not trivial. Companies like Steel Dynamics, Staples and Sports Authority were indeed rescued by Bain. In these cases there was more money to be made keeping the companies alive. But that was almost incidental, because in other cases, piling on debt and liquidating was the better way to turn a profit. Companies, for Romney and the folks at Bain, are just instruments to generate profits for themselves. It matters little if the company thrives, goes under, or is shipped overseas. Romney and his gang always walk away with a huge chunk of change. There is no down side for them. So when GM and Chrysler were on the ropes Romney famously wrote in the New York Times “Let Detroit go Bankrupt.” By that he meant a restructuring à la Bain, that is, figure out the maximum profit potential for the equity stakeholders. Except that in this case there were no takers. Not even Bain was willing to risk a dime on the industry that made America the powerhouse of the world. Nothing, nada, zilch. So very much against his Republican instincts, President Bush initiated a restructuring using public funds, an effort President Obama saw to its final (and successful) conclusion. Not only was the Romney formula doomed to failure, but now the Republican presumptive candidate has the audacity to claim credit for both Bush's and Obama's successful rescue of the auto industry. That is a new definition of the word chutzpah.
        Lest people think that all equity capitalists are the same, lets look at another firm: Second Avenue Partners. First, their public statement:

        • “Second Avenue Partners is a Seattle-based provider of management, strategy, and capital for early stage companies. The partners invest their own money, typically directed at emerging Internet businesses in the high-tech field. Second Avenue Partners' investment approach is to make early-stage investments in promising ventures and build long-term relationships, actively assisting its portfolio companies in becoming market leaders.”

        OK, to be fair, their goal does not explicitly say anything about job creation either, but it does have a different tone altogether. Gone are references that the business is all about maximizing profit potential. Rather, it seems that helping companies succeed is the main objective. A real treat is to listen to the CEO himself, Nick Hanauer. See if you can distinguish the difference between this equity capitalist and Mitt Romney. This guy is as far from Romney as you can get and yet he is in the same business and also a member of the almost mythical 1%. So the problem is not with equity capitalists in general, but as Governor Rick Perry told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, “There’s a real difference between venture capitalism and vulture capitalism...Venture capitalism we like. Vulture capitalism, no. And the fact of the matter is that he’s going to have to face up to this at some time or another, and South Carolina is as good a place to draw that line in the sand as any.”
        In a rare act of candor, Mr. Perry explained the difference between the venture capitalism that Mr. Hanauer and others like him practice and the “vulture” capitalism that Mitt Romney practices. The real dark secret Romney is hiding from all of us is that rich folks are not job creators. The job creators are the rest of us. Just ask a real venture capitalist.

                  The Wall Street Journal: ABC News settles potentially costly ‘pink slime’ libel lawsuit   
        ABC News has reached a settlement with the maker of a processed-meat product that critics dubbed “pink slime,” bringing an end to a defamation lawsuit that threatened the network with billions of dollars in damages.

                  A never-ending night, and longer day   

        A rolling post, updating the tortuous path towards a Bali agreement. Update 1: a tentative agreement that will be debated further, 8am tomorrow morning. Update 2 (the next morning): the agreement begins to unwind. Update 3: misprint in the text! Update 4: farce. Update 5: Shameful scenes - Yvo de Boer in tears. Update 6: Just when it seemed impossible, Bali roadmap agreed. Update 7: De Boer returns.

        The story so far

        According to the UN's Yvo de Boer, a small group of ministers have agreed text on adaptation, technology transfer and finance. That's the good news, though their work could be unpicked later on in plenary.

        Another group, meanwhile, has agreed text that covers developed country commitments to cut emissions. It's now arguing about arrangements for developing countries, an acrimonious discussion that we believe pits the US, Canada and possibly Japan against the 155 members of the G77.

        Then, the group will move onto the question of the charmingly named ‘preambular text'. The EU is desperate to see this reflect IPCC findings and to specify a ‘range' of emission cuts by developed countries. The US is said to ‘agnostic' about IPCC science on these issues.

        The next stage is to agree an end date for the negotiations. Most countries want 2009, though arguments over another date are still possible.

        Finally, the question of the status of the negotiations needs to be agreed. Will it be a formal process? Or just an informal dialogue?

        Once all this is settled, the small groups will report back to the conference President. And then, the proposed text will be presented to a plenary at which all countries have a chance to say their bit.

        (First of course, it will need to be translated into six languages and photocopied a few billion times.)

        Hopefully, countries will endorse whatever is given to them, but there will be plenty of scope for delegates to get picky about the details. That could add hours onto the schedule of a conference that was supposed to end hours ago.

        Ban Ki-Moon, we have just heard, is flying in to assist the process. And he'll give a press conference at eleven tomorrow. I desperately hope everything will be done by then...

        Update: A tentative agreement

        It all ended suddenly - and inconclusively. The small island states had thrown a party in the corridors, while ministers struggled to iron out disagreements on the Bali text. The islands were drowning their sorrows while waiting to drown, a handwritten sign said.

        Then, at around, 2 am, the ministerial meeting broke up. An agreement had been reached, ready for approval at a final session of all countries tomorrow morning. Bali was on its final straight - or was it?

        As ministers attempted to break through a scrum of reporters, activists and other onlookers, rumours began to swirl round the convention centre.

        The Japanese and Indonesian ministers briefed their domestic media, while German Environment Minister, Sigmar Gabriel drew the biggest crowd as he stopped repeatedly to put the European side of the story.

        It had not been a good night for the EU, it seemed. A key battle had been over whether to include reference to IPCC science in an agreement that merely sets the stage for two years of negotiation that should lead to a new global deal on climate.

        It seems that all numbers have been excluded, a key American demand. Instead, IPCC findings are referenced in a footnote, a somewhat undignified relegation in the week it picked up its Nobel Peace Prize.

        For developed countries, negotiators appear to have adopted for a simple expedient. Throw as many words at the problem as possible. The rich world must take on "measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives," the text we have seen says.

        Importantly, all countries are asked to make comparable efforts to reduce emissions. This is a pointed reference to US, which will be expected to do as much as countries that are already attempting to implement the Kyoto protocol.

        But it's the provisions for developing countries that have prompted the most acrimonious conflict. Gradually it became clear that at least two options had been left undecided in the proposed text.

        I got caught in an eddy as the German minister swept by, bouncing off a Japanese cameraman, and ending up pressed against Herr Gabriel's well-fed flank. Rewarded by a benign smile, I asked why ministers had given up for the night when key issues were unresolved.

        "Ask the United States and the G77," he said, "it's got nothing at all to do with Europe."

        So the two foes have decided to sleep on their differences and the EU, it appears, has grown sick of acting as referee. But taking a still incomplete agreement to plenary is a risky strategy. According to the minister, it is now up to Rachmat Witoelar, the Indonesian environment minister and conference President, to save the day.

        Even if we get an agreement tomorrow, it may well be an ambiguous one. And that was the result the UN's Yvo de Boer most wanted to avoid. Angus Friday, who represents the small island states, agrees

        "By not being ambitious here, we are going to end up having to use a huge amount of time to reach agreement, and we do not have that time," he said.

        Update 2: A great unravelling?

        After minimal sleep, we're all back in the convention centre for the overrunning UN climate conference. We were due to start at 8, but the session doesn't open until 9, kicking off with some mind numbingly boring procedural stuff.

        But suddenly, we're onto the main course - the text that will launch two years' negotiation that should culminate in a new global deal for climate.

        In the chair, the Indonesian environment minister explains the tortuous path that the negotiations have taken and tells delegates that he has been forced to decide an issue left unresolved by last night's ministerial discussions.

        He begs countries not to start unpicking the proposals that are in front of them. "Even minor changes will compromise our ability to reach an agreement here in Bali," he warns.

        Then he opens discussion up to the floor. Portugal is first to speak, on behalf of the rest of the European Union. No text can be perfect, the delegate says. But the EU welcomes the compromises that have been reached and urges others to support it.

        There is a pause and we all hold our breath...Then a smattering of applause - the core of the Bali roadmap appears to have passed without objection.

        But wait, India has an intervention to make.

        The text on developing country commitments is not the one proposed by the G77, India says, reading out a preferred alternative.

        Here's the President's proposal:

        Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported by technology and enabled by financing and capacity building.

        And here's India's preference:

        Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported by technology and enabled by financing and capacity building in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner,

        Huh? Yes it took me a while to see the difference. But look at what is being measured and verified in the two options. In the first, it's developing country efforts to cut emissions. In the second, developed country efforts to transfer technology, provide finance etc.

        The President begs India to accept the original, but now the other 800 pound gorilla wants to speak - in Chinese, which sends delegates scrambling for translation units.

        Eventually, the President tells everyone the gist of what has been said. According to China, consultations are taking place outside the hall and no decision can be taken until they're completed.

        And with that, the session is suspended. The President's attempt to force through a decision may have backfired. We'll soon know if this is a minor hiccup or the beginning of a great unravelling...

        Update 3: Misprint in the text

        My friend Ron Bailey, the libertarian science correspondent, has just spotted...a misprint in the text. And it's a real howler.

        "Mobilization of public- and private-sector funding and investment, including facilitation of carbon-friendly choices."

        Carbon-friendly? Shouldn't that be climate-friendly, guys?


        Update 4: Another false start

        We're off again with the President asking the Indian delegation to repeat its statement from earlier, but it turns out the Indian minister is not in the room.

        Then the Chinese ask to speak. And it turns out they are furious. Various G77 delegates are in a meeting with the Indonesian minister of foreign affairs, they claim. They sense a conspiracy to push through decisions while representatives are out of the room.

        The complaint is uncompromising: "The secretariat did this intentionally. I would like to ask if this secretariat is our secretariat. I want an apology from the secretariat."

        It is an embarrassing - even humiliating - moment for the Indonesian chair and, when the Pakistan delegate chips in to complain as well, he bows to the inevitable. After a farcical few minutes, the session is suspended again.

        But we close with a plea for as short a break as possible. "We are running out of time," the President warns.


        Update 5: Yvo de Boer in tears.

        Astounding events as we reconvene. First, the Indonesian prime minister and UN Secretary General arrive to read the riot act to delegations.

        Their message is carefully co-ordinated. The world's leaders demanded progress when they met in September. The science says the world needs to act immediately if it is to have any chance of stopping dangerous climate change.

        The conference President, meanwhile, increasingly resembles a rabbit stuck in the headlights. He apologies profusely for allowing parallel meetings to take place before the first two suspensions. But China will not let the matter drop. The issue demands further explanation, its delegate says. China wants the UNFCCC secretariat to tell them what went wrong and why.

        Then the bombshell. The floor is given to Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC head, a man who is normally unflappable, urbane and good humoured.

        But now he looks devastated and sits head in hands, unable to speak. Eventually, he squeezes out a few words. He did not know that another meeting was taking place, he says, now openly in tears.

        There is warm applause but de Boer has had enough and rushes from the room. I wonder whether that's the end of the line for him...


        Update 6: Dawn follows the darkest hour

        Back to the substance.

        India repeats its proposal and the debate begins. The European Union, represented by Portugal, follows quickly to support the proposal. It just wants an agreement, it says.

        But there is a split emerging in the G77. Bangladesh brings it out. Less developing countries feel the proposal is too hard on them, and by implication too soft on larger developing countries.

        They want a caveat applied, similar to that used for the industrialized countries. All actions must take into account differences in the "national circumstances" of countries in the developing world.

        This is, it seems, a widely held position among the less developed countries and small island states. Many come in to support the Bangladesh proposal, though some suggest a slightly different textual amendment and others say they like the idea in principle, but will respond to pleas not to unpick the text.

        However, some of the richer developing countries are not so keen. Saudi Arabia, in particular, is adamant that no changes should be made to the text, apart from the one suggested by India. (Pakistan also chips in favour and adds another minor change.)

        And then a new front is opened up when the US speaks. Developing countries have talked the talk, but failed to walk the walk, Paula Dobriansky tells a hushed floor. Their amendment completely changes the type of commitment they must take on.

        The United States is not prepared to adopt the Indian proposal to change the text, she says. Her words are met with a chorus of boos.

        Japan speaks next, giving the United States some kind of fuzzy support. But South Africa issues a ferocious and articulate denunciation of the American position. Developing countries have gone much further than they needed to. It's the United States that has failed to take on strong commitments.

        The mood is now bleak, as countries speak to argue for more favourable treatment for the world's poorest, or to denounce the US position. It becomes hard to see where agreement will come from.

        But then suddenly, the US flags its wish to speak again. Dobriansky argues that the US has shifted its position considerably, agreeing to the principle of taking on a "quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives."

        And then we get to the turning point. The US wants a shared vision, Dobrianky says, and to agree a Bali roadmap. In a spirit of co-operation and responding directly to the words of South Africa, she is prepared to withdraw her objections and go with the consensus position.

        Surprised applause follows and builds, as delegates realise the talks have been pulled back from the brink. It all moves rather fast after that. South Africa welcomes the new United States position.

        But South Africa is not done yet. The delegate ‘interprets' the text that applies to developing countries and shows that it can be interpreted as meeting the needs of the poorest people.

        This has been teed up with Costa Rica, it seems, which now withdraws its proposal. It will accept South Africa's mediation.

        With that a final denouement is only a few minutes away. The Indian proposal is read out and the President asks whether there are any objections.

        The applause starts slowly, but turns into cheers. Agreement has been finally been reached, but only after it seemed almost to have slipped out of reach.


        Update 7: De Boer returns

        Yvo de Boer, last seen rushing from the stage in tears, slipped back onto the platform fifteen minutes or so later.

        Costa Rica speaks of its confidence in him and its huge appreciation of his work. Enormous applause. More tears on the stage. The Bali deal is done and Yvo de Boer is back in his seat.

                  Fuel from Chicken Feathers?   
        Biodiesel Fuel | Biofuels | Waste to Energy

        If we go by the stats, every year 11 billion pounds of poultry industry waste accumulates annually, because we have gigantic appetite for poultry products. They can’t be stuffed into pillows. Mostly they are utilized as low-grade animal feed. Scientists in Nevada have created a new and environmentally friendly process for developing biodiesel fuel from […]

                  Top Stories: White House Warns Syria; Google Fined Billions By E.U.   
        Good morning, here are our early stories: -- Google Hit With $2.7 Billion Fine By European Antitrust Monitor. -- White House Suspects Syria Is Preparing For Another Chemical Attack. -- From Birth To Death, Medicaid Affects The Lives Of Millions. And here are more early headlines: Federal Judge Extends Hold Nationally On Iraqi Deportations. ( ) Court Finds Dutch Peacekeepers Partly Responsible In Srebrenica Massacre. ( Deutsche Welle ) Brazilian President Formally Accused Of Corruption. ( Reuters ) Second Landslide Hits Chinese Village Buried By Earlier Landslide. ( AP ) U.S. Firm Won't Sell Siding In Deadly London Fire. ( New York Times ) Hurricane Dora Continues To Pull Away Mexico's Pacific Coast. ( NHC ) Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chief Confirmed To New Term. ( The Hill ) Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit
                  Top Stories: Tropical Storm Cindy; ISIS Destroys Historic Mosul Mosque   
        Good morning, here are our early stories: -- Heavy Rains And Flooding As Tropical Storm Cindy Makes Landfall. -- ISIS Destroys Historic Mosque In Mosul As Iraqi Forces Close In. -- After Georgia Win, A Triumphant Trump Returns To Campaign Trail In Iowa. -- Virginia Community Mourns Muslim Teen Killed On Her Way To Mosque. And here are more early headlines: GOP To Release Proposed Senate Health Care Bill Today. ( ABC ) Man Who Fired Into D.C. Pizzeria On Conspiracy Theory To Be Sentenced. ( WTOP ) Report: U.S. Forces Reportedly Question Detainees In Yemeni Prisons Where Torture Is Alleged. ( AP ) House GOP Proposes Bill To Privatize U.S. Air Traffic Control. ( USA Today ) U.N. Says World Population Near 10 Billion By 2050. ( U.N. News Centre ) Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit
                  🎧 Drake is the Most Emoji-ed Artist on Spotify, With 🔥 Most Associated with the Canadian Rapper 🎧   
        To celebrate arguably the most universally-understood language in the world, the emoji, Spotify looked at the relationships between emojis and the music and artists they describe. Spotify has over two billion user-generated playlists of which over 35 million have at least one emoji in their titles. The top ten most emoji-ed artists and the emoji […]
                  Rich people in America have too much money, says multi-billionaire Warren Buffett   
        The wealthy investor also criticised the GOP's healthcare plan as a 'Relief for the Rich Act'
                  LeEco facing continued cash shortage amidst market expansion, business turbulence   
        Over-extending at a time of lowered sales and under-performing units is a bad combination. LeEco's troubles in 2017 have been numerous and well-documented, but it seems the issues with cash flow have continued and expanded as of late. Speaking this week, LeEco chairman Jia Yueting said the company's cash issues are "far worse than expected" despite a massive $2.4 billion investment earlier this year. Despite LeEco's U.S. launch reaching the point of taking on the "failure" tag, issues with the company run far deeper. Launching a suite of TVs and phones in the U.S. was an ambitious move for sure, but it was really just an example of LeEco perhaps extending itself too widely when it didn't have the cash flow to cover operations. LeEco decided to pay back a considerable amount of debt at a time in which its overall business was in a downturn — a confluence that really hurt the company. Despite LeEco's U.S. launch reaching the point of failure, issues with the company run far...
                  Part Time Nabisco Merchandiser - Mondelez International - Millcreek, UT   
        Mondelēz International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDLZ) is one of the world’s largest snacks companies, with global net revenues of $38 billion in 2015. Our dream is to... $11 - $12 an hour
        From Indeed - Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:56:58 GMT - View all Millcreek, UT jobs
        Am I the only one who has noticed how effeminate that pastor is - the one who said that Mormonism is a cult and then went on to throw his arms out toward Rick Perry in a gesture that must have been the envy of drag queens everywhere.  I am guessing we are just about one lacy ruffle from our next clergyman scandal; I only hope drugs are involved.  It's just more fun that way.
        I listen less and less either to the news or to any of the talking heads, but there are a few things I have noticed lately from the little I have seen.  One is that those who are not raging against the Occupy Wall Street folks with small flecks of foam flying from their lips, are nonetheless baffled at what it is, exactly, that "those people" want.  I have also heard comments that ranged from gleeful gotcha-type snark to rueful bafflement as to why these folks who "can't be that poor" because they have iPhones or iPads (or both) seem to have so little resentment of Steve Jobs since they are "against the wealthy".  
        It is clear to me that first of all, the idea that they are against not the wealthy per se, but rather against those wealthy people who have not earned their wealth, or those who use their wealth to unfair advantage.  Steve Jobs is eminently not among those.  Old Habakkuk said it well in his own little book of the bible: "Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain".  Looks like Habakkuk had more going for him than a cool name.
        In general there is now, as there always has been in the USA, three things going on.  There is the legitimate disagreement about social issues - the place of religion, abortion, gay rights, marriage, parental rights and responsibilities, crime and punishment, gun issues, the role of schools and so forth.  Secondly, there is the issue of spending - how much and whence the money to pay for it, and on what to spend public money.  These are two separate issues - fiscal and social - which are constantly being conflated so that many people who have strong feelings about social or 'moral' issues find themselves willingly or otherwise, allying themselves with people who have a particular stance on the spending issue, and vice versa.  Anyone who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative or socially conservative but fiscally liberal is reviled as a moderate, a fraud, or what have you.  Many people who feel strongly about social issues but less so on fiscal issues, or those who feel the reverse, must actually become frauds to be heard or elected by espousing strong positions they do not actually care about as much, in areas they find secondary in their beliefs about how to 'fix things'.  
        As I said there are three, not two, things going on all the time.  The third thing is the growing power of those who win either way and who make every effort to keep the public focussed on emotional issues and acrimonious debate: the gotcha commentary, the 'assault' upon 'our rights' or upon the poor or upon those who 'earn their money and don't go looking for a handout' or the decline of the middle class or whatever resonant phraseology is current.  If every single congressman and senator were replaced by his or her chief opponent in the coming election, the effect would be miniscule.  There is no difference, really, between George Soros' political spending and that of the Koch brothers.  
        In the antebellum South a small group of landowners oppressed both the poorer whites and the enslaved black population.  After the Civil War, this group - with a few desertions by leaders who fell from power and a few additions from both Southern and Carpetbagging Northern opportunists - pivoted smoothly into the Jim Crow era, where the poor whites were kept in line by threats of what would happen if blacks got rights and the blacks, poor or otherwise, were kept in line by what they had to lose from the little they had if the 'poor white trash' gained control.  The degree to which the poor whites had some awareness of their lack of real commonality with the aristocracy is reflected by the number of poorer mountain folk from slave-holding states who chose to join the Union army - there were rather a lot of these.  In Virginia, the poor mountain people seceded from the Secession majority in the state and formed the state of West Virginia, which remained with the North.  The passionate hatred between the "white trash" and the blacks was subtly stoked by those few who profitted either way; these poorer folk found themselves consistently supporting the lesser of two evils, as indeed we all find ourselves doing today with almost every vote we cast.  The problem is that the lesser of two evils is increasingly not all that much different from having to decide whether you'd prefer to be murdered by a serial killer or by a guy who just lost his head that one time.  Hmm; still dead.
        It matters who wins an election in regard to the outcome of social issues, in regard to fiscal issues it matters somewhat also, in terms of where the money will come from and where it will go - although things will be far more the same, no matter who wins - than the rhetoric implies. However, it makes much less difference - almost none - in terms of how much money will be at issue.  In order to support our social beliefs we are sadly forced to accept the status quo politically and fiscally.  People who vote Democratic lose, people who vote Republican lose, and people who proudly proclaim that they never vote because it makes no difference lose.  
        There is only one thing that would make any difference. It is something that the wealthy government officials - which includes every Justice on the Supreme Court, all the decision makers in the White House and Cabinet and all of the Congress - (although a few of the newer Congressmen may not be wealthy yet, their future wealth is guaranteed by their ability to slide smoothly into lobbyist firms or to start charging four, five or even six figures for a single hour of speaking at various venues for the rest of their life).  And that one thing is to add an amendment to the constitution divorcing the idea of spending unlimited money from the right of free speech.  There is no seat in Congress that isn't beholden to some wealthy person(s) or other.  None.  We all know this.  These wealthy few may be disguise themselves as interest groups or PACs or charities or any number of things, but in the end the money comes from people who had money to spare.  It is obscene how much it costs to run for office, and how much time most office seekers and office holders must spend seeking funds.  So much time is spent thusly that even the most conscientious of men or women must leave their research or decision making to a staff that has been largely chosen on an ideological basis or to a friendly lobbyist who will help him or her out by writing the legislation which he or she is to present or vote on.  
        There will always be crooks in government but increasingly everybody is forced, by the cost of running for office and of countering expensive misinformation campaigns, into compromising independence and integrity if not into flat out dishonesty.  Whether it is hope and change or 9-9-9, no candidate for President will ever deliver, because Presidents do not make law, Congress does; and Congress won't because no Congressman is entirely free of indebtedness to the wealthy, and by wealthy, I am not talking of those who have five or ten million socked away, I mean those few families wealthy enough to buy a state.  Term limits don't help because two crooks are not better than one.  Campaign reform laws are useless, even in the rare case where they are meaningful, because the wholly-owned Supreme Court routinely overturns any real reform.  The one hope is a Constitutional amendment, because (so far) even the Court cannot declare an amendment unconstitutional. Unfortunately no amendment can be passed because the legislatures which would have to ratify it consist of men and women who are also beholden to the same wealthy few.  
        What the Occupy Wall Street people are reacting to is the complete powerlessness of most of us to get out of this awful bind.  One of the last times such an all-powerful establishment was truly reformed a guillotine was involved.  The longer reform is suppressed, the more cataclysmic the reform will eventually be.  That is the way it has always been. 
        It is not envy of the wealthy that is fueling this latest protest.  As I said, I have heard of few who begrudge the wealth of Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, or any of the others who actually DID something to earn what they have.  It is the CEOs who get seven, eight or nine-figure bonuses and payouts when they ran their firms into the ground, or wealthy people who are using money they never earned to demonize poor people for using, or trying to use, wealth they never earned - i. e. welfare.  People who do nothing but live well off the money some ancestor made should not be so quick to castigate people who receive medical care they cannot actually afford.  It is disheartening that those who rob a bank of billions are all over the society pages while those who rob the same bank of a couple of hundred dollars are, if caught, doing hard time.  
        Poor people are notorious for not bothering to vote, but for whom should they vote?  They should, perhaps, run themselves, but they'd only be spending money to do so that they don't have or can't spare - and if they raise the funds to run, they will be raising them from rich or at least richer people, and then here we are: back at square one.   
        I don't expect any improvement; I think it quite possible that we have passed the point where real reform can occur.  But I shall be watching the protest movement with great interest.
        By the way, the Blogger KING OF NEW YORK HACKS has talked to a lot of different folks in the Occupying crowd and has published some excellent pictures and commentary showing who's there.

                  Web Design Wolverhampton Dont expect too much too soon   
        Every single week I meet people who are so excited about their new website that they can't wait to tell me all about it and how it's going to make them a lot of money very quickly. They're almost jumping up and down because they've probably been to a seminar when they were told that the best way to live the dream is to first dream it and then visualise it and think about all the things they can do with the money they will earn from it.

        Life's going to be brilliant.

        Really, life is going to take off soon because there are so many millions of users on the Internet and all you need to do is attract a small fraction of those for your new widget to sell by the truckload and finally you'll be an Internet Millionaire. Except it doesn't happen.

        So many people are sold the dream of SEO in such a way that they believe it's easy to do and you can suck visitors to your site like a vacuum cleaner sucks dirt. E-tailing is easy, selling is easy and attracting visitors is easy, except it isn't; it's difficult and it's a hard slog.

        Just getting on Google is difficult

        You need to be listed on Google in the first place and this is the initial hurdle - and what a whopper! Google indexes approximately 50 billion web pages and it grows at a phenomenal rate, probably hundreds of thousands a day. Why should they index yours? Why should they even care about yours? The answer is, they shouldn't and so they don't.

        When your website is finished it just joins a very big queue and even though there are ways you can get yourself listed quickly, these are quite complex for the complete beginner and it's very easy to do it wrong.

        So, when the site is live, there then begins a huge process of what many people call 'optimisation' and that's where us SEO type have really upset people. You now believe that 'optimisation' means changing some words on your site so that Google automagically pushes you to the top of search whenever someone types in your product. You probably believe that it's a one-step process and when it's done, you're good to go. That's not what optimisation is about at all and we should really call it 'marketing'.

        Marketing is the process of getting your product in front of your customers (whoever they may be) and traditionally this is a lengthy process, even when you're competing with just a few people in your local area. Imagine competing with millions of people globally!

        The more competitive your market, the longer it's going to take too, for example you're unlikely to beat B&Q if you're selling DIY equipment. Just face it - your site isn't going to beat anyone unless you are committed to spending a lot of time promoting it and this is where the second hurdle rears it's ugly head.

        I'm still not on Google and it's been a month!

        It's probably the most common complaint I hear from people. They (or we) 'optimised' their site a month ago and it's still not found anywhere when somebody searches for it. You can't find it anywhere at all and you're therefore not selling anything and so you're really hacked off.

        You probably think that SEO is a whole bunch of hogwash and so you have decided to end it now before you waste anymore money. Giving up is too easy but you'll probably do it because you can't think of any other option.

        This isn't just about SEO, it's about many things in life - it becomes too difficult so you just walk away and blame Google or something. You probably think you've been banned or Google doesn't like you or your web designer has done something wrong.

        Let me just make it really clear - if you've got a new website and it's just been launched you're going to wait a long time before people are finding you on Google. We estimate between 8-12 months before it's getting anything like the amount of traffic an ecommerce site needs to work and so you need to do something else. SEO isn't the magic bullet and so you shouldn't rely on it at all.

        You should also look at other marketing streams such as email marketing, AdWords and maybe even some of-line things like advertising. Seriously, even though the world has gone Internet mad, it doesn't mean you should ignore traditional methods of advertising.

        The real killer marketing method

        I've saved the best to last because this is where you can make a fortune if you really want to. So many people think that Google is the only way to make online riches that they completely miss the biggest barrier to sales - themselves. Look at all the really good business people and you'll notice something about them that's missing in many others - they're good at networking. They're usually quite happy to speak in public and they're always chatty. If you find a really great Internet entrepreneur, you'll probably find that most of his business has come through word of mouth and networking.

        Some of the best marketers do not rely on Google, in fact, neither should you. Expecting to make money through a search engine is crazy, especially for brand new sites. You need to realise that you are the most important part of your business and you need to get yourself out there promoting it.

        You don't even have to do this all through face to face marketing. There's even a saviour for those who hate talking to other people in the form of social networking online. Facebook, Twitter and MySpace for example are great places to promote yourself without having to actually meet someone in the flesh.

        You've probably heard of a few bands that have made it big through social networking and their rise to fame has been touted as success for the Internet as a whole. But it's not, it's success for people talking to each other, social media and the Internet is just a tool and the minute you realise that, you'll find it much easier to cope with the fact that your site isn't currently number one.
        Andy Calloway is the online marketing director at Calloway Green Ltd, a website design and optimisation company based in Wolverhampton in the UK. Calloway Green take fantastic website design and turn it into a marketable and usable product that will actually make you money. They specialise in Birmingham Web Design for West Midlands based organisations that are looking to sell their products to a wide audience.

        Web Design Wolverhampton
                  Water Resources Engineer   
        SC-Columbia, Amec Foster Wheeler ( designs, delivers and maintains strategic and complex assets for its customers across the global energy and related sectors. Employing around 35,000 people in more than 55 countries and with 2016 revenues of £5.4 billion, the company operates across the oil and gas industry - from production through to refining, processing and distribution of derivative product
                  Office supplies chain Staples sold for $6.9 billion   

        NEW YORK (AP) — Private equity firm Sycamore is buying office supplies chain Staples for $6.9 billion. The companies said Wednesday that shareholders of Framingham, Massachusetts-based Staples will get $10.25 per share. Staples stock had closed Wednesday up 77 cents, or 8.4 percent, to $9.93 on a late-afternoon report of a deal. The stock rose […]
                  FirstNet Names AT&T Partner to Build $46.5 Billion Network for First Responders Nationwide   

        On March 30, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the First Responder Network Authority will partner with AT&T to build the nation's modern, mobile broadband LTE network for first responders.

                  Senate health care bill would affect 4 million Californians, cost state $30 billion a year   
        The U.S. Capitol as seen from the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

        File: The U.S. Capitol as seen from the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.; Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

        KPCC Staff

        The health care bill under consideration in the U.S. Senate could lead to serious reductions in Medi-Cal coverage, including reducing or ending coverage for more than 3.8 million people enrolled in the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, according to a new analysis by California's Department of Health Care Services and Department of Finance.

        The bill could add more than $30 billion per year in additional health care costs to the state budget over the next 10 years, shifting responsibility and costs for health care from the federal government to California. It would add nearly $3 billion in costs by 2020, growing to $30.3 billion per year by 2027, according to the analysis.

        "This bill takes a sledgehammer to the improvements we have made in our state’s health care delivery system," DHCS Director Jennifer Kent said in a statement.

        The total costs from 2020 through 2027 for California: $114.6 billion, including $92.4 billion of the state's General Fund, according to the analysis.

        The analysis is similar to that of the House version of the health care bill, according to the DHCS, costing less up front by an additional $12 billion per year by 2027.

        Check back for updates to this story.

        This content is from Southern California Public Radio. View the original story at

                  LA campaign to eliminate traffic deaths raises concerns over policing, gentrification   
        Vision Zero South LA 1

        South Los Angeles resident James Harris stands at the intersection of Manchester and Western avenues, two of the most dangerous corridors in the city, according to L.A. Department of Transportation data. He hopes Vision Zero projects will make his neighborhood streets safer.; Credit: Meghan McCarty/KPCC

        Meghan McCarty Carino

        The city of Los Angeles' ambitious program to reverse a rising trend of traffic deaths and eliminate road fatalities by 2025 is having unintended consequences in communities sensitive to increased traffic enforcement and mistrustful of street improvements seen as signs of gentrification.

        Los Angeles embraced an international initiative to cut traffic fatalities started in Sweden called Vision Zero as it tries to grapple with traffic crash fatalities that have risen by 43 percent between 2015 and 2016.

        With an average 6.27 traffic deaths per 100,000 residents each year, L.A. has the highest traffic death rate of any major city in the country. Last year, 260 people died in L.A. street crashes, about 30 fewer than died in homicides in the city in 2016.

        Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children between 2 and 14 in L.A. and kill cyclists and pedestrians at a disproportionately high rate. Despite being involved in only 14 percent of collisions, walkers and bikers make up half of those killed.

        While the toll from traffic deaths cuts across all sectors of society, many of the most dangerous streets in the city are concentrated in low-income communities of color like South L.A., home to 16 of the 40 most dangerous corridors identified by the city Department of Transportation.

        Local resident James Harris lives near the intersection of Manchester and Western Avenues, two of the most dangerous corridors in L.A, according to the city. He needs no convincing that traffic safety initiatives like Vision Zero are needed.

        "It’s an issue. People are dying, people are getting hurt, their lives are never the same. This is another tool to address the violence in our community," said Harris.

        Hardly a week goes by that he doesn't see a horrible crash in his neighborhood, he said.

        He has a running bet with his neighbors: "That this weekend who can guess the closest number to the cars that’s gonna get crashed on those corridors. Somebody always wins because the number is never zero."


        So far this year, 13 people have died in traffic crashes in South L.A. City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson's district.

        "Black lives matter, right? I think they matter in a lot of ways," said Harris-Dawson, who has championed the Vision Zero effort. 

        "I don’t want to be here three years from now still getting emails that people are getting killed at the same spot. It’s unacceptable to me, and I think it’s unacceptable to the community," he said.

        During recent budget negotiations, Harris-Dawson pushed for more funding for the program that aims to save lives. The council eventually agreed to allocate about $27 million to Vision Zero-related projects, a nine-fold increase over the previous year's funding, but still less than the $80 million that the Department of Transportation said is needed to meet the program's stated goal of reducing traffic deaths by 20 percent this year.

        In early June, Harris-Dawson led one of several community open houses held in South L.A. to highlight Vision Zero projects in the area. He invited community members to offer their feedback on proposed safety measures like longer pedestrian signals and curb bulb-outs that force cars to make wider, slower turns.

        Harris-Dawson acknowledged there are obstacles to getting buy-in from his constituents. Historically, city planning efforts — building the freeways, for example — have not been kind to neighborhoods like South L.A., and improvements like bike lanes are sometimes viewed suspiciously as the first signs of gentrification.


        One major component of the plan is proving especially controversial: increased policing of traffic violations. There is concern that this part of the Vision Zero plan could do more harm than good in neighborhoods like South L.A.

        The city is spending an extra $1.5 million to beef up traffic policing on the most dangerous streets, which are concentrated in low-income communities of color.

        "For black people, for people in color, if you’re undocumented – there is this feeling of when you get pulled over how that can escalate quickly," said Tamika Butler, the director of the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition.

        Her organization is working with the city through the Vision Zero Alliance, a coalition of community groups providing guidance and feedback on implementing the safety program.

        Butler has argued that an emphasis on traffic stops will sow more fear and distrust of law enforcement in neighborhoods where relations are already strained.

        "That might have a lot to do with the fact that I’m a black person who continues to see people on TV who look like me who have been shot by cops," she said.

        Lt. Dave Ferry with the Los Angeles Police Department said if giving tickets is needed to save lives, his department will do that. 

        "We’re not gonna pick and choose where we do lifesaving measures like traffic enforcement," he said. The department adheres to a no-bias policing policy and racial profiling is against state and federal law, he added.

        But Butler wants to see L.A. go further in addressing community concerns by following the lead of cities like Portland. That city's Vision Zero plans prioritize street redesign and education rather than increased traffic enforcement because of concerns over racial profiling.

        In San Francisco, police are directed to focus on the five most dangerous driving behaviors, like running red lights. The department generates monthly reports to monitor the percentage of citations given out for those infractions.

        Lt. Ferry said LAPD currently does not have the capacity to do similar tracking in a timely manner because citations are not digitized in real time. However, the department has applied for a state grant that would make such monitoring possible.

        Some cities are also using automated speed cameras and alternatives to hefty traffic fines, like education programs or income-based fees, to ease the burden on people with lesser means.

        "A small fine for folks in low-income communities is the difference between being able to feed their kids, being able to pay rent," said Butler.

        South L.A. resident Harris sees an opportunity in Vision Zero for his community and law enforcement to come together, despite the challenges.

        "To get people to agree with the police over here is like pulling a tooth from a 800-pound gorilla," he said. "This just happens to be one of the ones where we on the same page."

        One change Harris would like to see is LAPD placing as much emphasis on community policing as traffic enforcement. And, most of all, he wants to see action soon.

        "We have so many problems here in South Los Angeles and we always have to be watchdogs on any place where we get a opportunity to reduce violence. We have to jump on it," he said.

        This content is from Southern California Public Radio. View the original story at

                  BHP says work on Jansen mine moving ahead   
        Giles Hellyer is optimistic about the multi-billion-dollar Jansen potash mine project.
                  U.S. budget deficits: How much debt is...   
        The U.S. ran a budget deficit of $88 billion in May, a jump of 66% from a year ago. Politicians pay lip service to cutting deficits and debt, but almost never do.
                  Commerce Data Service: Using Weather Data to Protect Lives and Property   

        This blog is a re-post from the Economics & Statistics Administration website, originally posted November 19, 2015.
        Tornados, hail and other severe weather events cause billions of dollars of damage each year. The chance these events will occur and the severity of impact varies dramatically across the country. The impact of hail can range from having no discernible impact to causing millions of dollars of damage in a community.

                  "Trump Seeks To Sell Off Half Of The Strategic Petroleum Reserve"   

        "As part of its 2018 budget, the Trump administration is proposing to reduce by half the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a cushion against global price shocks and supply disruptions. The administration said it expects the drawdown to reduce the federal deficit by $16.6 billion, part of a package of deficit reduction measures over the next 10 years."

        Source: ,

                  Tun Dr.Mahathir's offer to be the next PM. My thoughts on this.   

        Well, it is now no longer a rumor, isn't it? The nation's 4th former Prime Minister , the 92 years old Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohamad has repeated his desire to be the next Malaysian Prime Minister IF, and that's a very big IF, the loose Opposition bloc @ Pakatan Harapan comprising of the DAP, PKR, Amanah and his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia really get to do the unthinkable which will be to defeat the humongous, firmly entrenched Barisan Nasional @ National Front which is a coalition of 13 Malaysian right wing nationalist political parties which has been ruling Malaysia since Independence in 1957 from the British Colonialists.

        For Tun Dr. Mahathir's fledgling party @ Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to succeed in making inroads into the BN's strongholds in the Malaysian Peninsular, it will be quite a challenging task for his party is made up of all those former top leaders who have been rejected by the people when they lost their respective positions as the Deputy Prime Minister, Menteri Besar @ Chief Minister, Federal Ministers, etc. when the current Malaysian PM Dato Seri Najib Razak sacked and removed them from the Malaysian Federal Government Cabinet.

        The trend here in Malaysia is that when you lose power and position, it is just similar to those who slip and slide all the way to the abyss of political has been's. It's not easy to scratch, grab and pull oneself back up after such an inglorious fall. As the saying goes, the damage would have been done!

        Here in Malaysia, voters tend to reflect back on whatever nasties has been attributed to the contesting candidate in the past. No matter if you try to pass yourself off as the nicest guy on the electoral list, someone somewhere will always be able to dig and find some dirt on you.

        Not to forget that loyalty can easily be bought over by a RM50 banknote or even lesser come Election Day as proven in all the past General Elections. A batik sarong, a bag of rice, an envelope containing 'Duit Raya' and the receiving person will forever be indebted to the one dishing it out as PM Najib so deftly put it before that 'Cash is King!'

        He doesn't have to worry or lose sleep because there are legions of the following aunties who will give thanks and pray for his well being and victory!

        It doesn't take much to sway opinions and loyalties here in Malaysia. Just a friendly smile and a fistful of ringgits will surely buy you a nice thumping victory over the cash-strapped Opposition save maybe for the PKR in Selangor and their partner the DAP in Penang.

        PAS is notorious for milking their own supporters with their ever-emerging donation boxes called 'Tabong Jihad'. [photo below]

        What more Tun Dr. Mahathir's party Parti Pribumi Bumiputra Malaysia where he himself admits on countless occasions that he's quite stingy and miserly! :P

        Jokes aside, let us view the reality facing us.

        It is true that Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was the Father of Progress and Development for our country.  He ruled from 1981 to 2003 with a firm hand and transformed Malaysia from being a 3rd world agriculture based country into one of South East Asia's leading developing nation.

        After 22 long years of running the Federal Government of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir chose to resign in 2003 and handed over the reins to his Deputy, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

        Tun Abdullah Badawi was not as firm as Mahathir was and the Opposition especially the DAP and PKR managed to wrest Penang and Selangor respectively from the BN's grip and forced Abdullah Badawi to hand over power to his Deputy then namely Dato Seri Najib Razak in 2008.

        PM Dato Seri Najib Razak learned well from his predecessors and started to fortify his position by removing each and every thorn by his side especially Tun Dr. Mahathir's own son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir as the Kedah Menteri Besar and removed Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin from being the Deputy Prime Minister.

        He appointed Datuk Seri Dr.Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as his Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister as Dr.Zahid had been his steadfast supporter all through the years and stuck to his side no matter what.

        He has also appointed his cousin brother Dato Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn as His Special Affairs Minister besides the latter being the Malaysian Defense Minister.

        Tun Dr.Mahathir's abrupt turn from being the nemesis to best buddies with the DAP's Lim Kit Siang astounded many including myself for as far as I know the DAP has always been against the dominance of the Malays and Islam as the ruling powers here in Malaysia.

        Tun's willing to change alliances and embrace the DAP 'devils' only goes to prove how desperate he is right now in trying to gain a political foothold for his son, Mukhriz albeit it be on the Opposition's platform.

        Guess there must be some truth to the adage that 'Beggars can't be choosers!'.  Not to say that Mahathir and his son are dirt poor but on the contrary. They are multi millionaires if not billionaires for their wealth and fortune spreads all over but we the common citizens of Malaysia really don't give a rats ass as to who is rich or who's poor?

        All we want is good governance no matter who calls the shots here in our beloved country.

        At 92, Mahathir is already way too old to be depended upon to bring about Malaysia to the stage it was when he was in power. It is also a case where you can't actually run a one man show at Putrajaya.

        We need a whole bunch of new, energetic, knowledgeable, trustworthy persons to lead Malaysia into the future. A future where each Malaysian can be assured of fair treatment regardless of one's creed or skin color.

        Yet the reality of a very deeply embedded culture of corruption and cronyism exists today staring sharply at us in the face.

        To expect Mahathir to be elected as the Opposition's choice to be the PM is something that can only be classified as pure fiction.

        Mahathir would do better to just call it a day and really take care of his own needs to shower his family with his attention and also to the fact that he might soon leave us all and return to Ar Rahman.

        May commonsense prevail here in Mamluk al Malaisie. Ameen.

                  Adultery ~ If Christians really practiced their Biblical Laws, almost 90% of the USA, UK, Europe will perish!   
        These are not my words! They are sourced from the Christian Bible itself. Click here to see for yourselves.

        Yet today, most of the modern world are zooming in onto the misdeeds of those few ignorants so called Muslims who abuse and misrepresent the faith of the billion over true practicing Muslims and start accusing Islamic Sharia as being harsh and barbaric!
        Here in Malaysia, every now and then, my fellow Muslims especially amongst the Dakwah activists, the alarm would go off amongst them that the Christians especially the Evangelists and Missionaries are actively brainwashing the weak ones amongst the Muslim masses into Christianity!

        Allahyarham Sheikh Ahmed Deedat had very easily defeated these so called Christian Evangelists and the Missionaries during his lifetime! 

        His comprehensive knowledge and mastery of the Al-Qur'an and Bible plus many other Scriptures often catches these evangelists and missionaries plus Biblical scholars dumbfounded and tongue tied when Sheikh Deedat nails them to their cross [figuratively speaking of course] and exposes their lies and deceit!

        Use the published verses [like the ones above] from the Christians own Bibles [Old Testament, New Testament, Revised Standard Version, Etc.] and nail them down where they cant squeeze themselves out from the reality of their fellow Christians screwups! Click here to read the statistics about their Infidelity!

        Has any Christian country dared to uphold what their own Biblical Laws prescribe as the rightful punishment for adultery? 

        Anyone here has any knowledge of such a case where the Christians have practiced what they preach to the world?

        Please enlighten me.

        Occasionally we hear of cases where someone apostatizes from the Islamic Faith and the whole nation is up in arms over this murtad and there are calls to put him or her to death.

        In Islam, the method to deal with such cases of apostasy, is for the religious authorities of the land to counsel the apostate to return to the faith and believe in Allah.

        If the apostate refuses and remains firm in his or her disbelief, the authorities are to give him or her at least 3 more chances before putting the said apostate to death.

        In the Bible, Book of Deuteronomy Verses 8-9, it calls for the same punishment!


        So, why all the nationwide brouhaha by the Disbelievers out there when the Islamic Sharia calls for the same punishment for those who apostate from believing in Allah and call such a law as barbaric?

        Actually there are too many verses and descriptions in the Bible which are quite vulgar and pornographic in nature which I am not comfortable in disclosing them here.

        Download Sheikh Ahmed Deedat's Combat Kit against Bible Thumpers here and read about them yourself.

                  Staples in $6.9 billion sale to private equity firm Sycamore   
        (Reuters) - Sycamore Partners said on Wednesday it would acquire U.S. office supplies chain Staples Inc for $6.9 billion, a rare bet by a private equity firm this year in the U.S. retail sector, which has been roiled by the popularity of internet shopping.

                  Trees Beat Lawns for Water-Hungry L.A.   
        Evaporation from overwatered lawns cost the city of Los Angeles 70 billion gallons of wasted water a year. But the city's trees were much thriftier. Christopher Intagliata reports.

        --

                  San Diego Schools Embrace Untested “Depersonalized” Learning   
        By Thomas Ultican / Tultican San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) is spending lavishly on technology despite their budgets being decimated by California’s unaccountable charter school industry. During the 2016-17 school year, SDUSD bought digital badging and 16,000 new Chromebooks. “The district is struggling with a projected $124 million shortfall to its $1.4 billion budget, and have issued in the neighborhood of 1,500 layoff notices to full and part-time employees” reports the San Diego Union. This kind of insanity seems to be a national movement. There is almost no evidence supporting these new theories of technology driven education. Yet, the leaders of financially strapped SDUSD are spending to have their students become experimental subjects for learning products produced by technology companies.   [Read more...]

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        At Large

                  François Pinault to Turn Former Paris Stock Exchange Into New Museum   
        The billionaire who owns Christie's auction house, and happens to also be a noted art collector himself, revealed designs for a new modern art museum, the Pinault Foundation, set to open in 2019.
                  U.S. Justice Dept. Sues To Block AT&T + T-Mobile Merger   

        A little over 5 months ago AT&T publicly announced their agreement with Deutsche Telekom for the $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA.  But, despite their plans –it might not work out….  Hopefully you’re not a T-Mobile customer waiting for an iPhone because earlier this week the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit to block the […]
                  New plan for LRSD   
        Massive poor to rich transfer, Griffen ruling and more.

        Stat of the week

        The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that, in the House Republican bill to replace Obamacare, which is largely mirrored in the newly unveiled Senate GOP's Better Care Reconciliation Act, the 400 top income households in the U.S. would receive $33 billion in tax cuts between 2019 and 2028. That sum is equal to the bill's proposed savings by ending Medicaid expansion in four states — Alaska, Arkansas, West Virginia and Nevada.

        Next: lawsuit

        A 6-foot-tall Ten Commandments monument was installed outside the state Capitol on Tuesday. Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway), the evangelist who sponsored legislation to enable it, was on hand to preen before the cameras. He insisted the monument — paid for with private contributions — will withstand the legal challenge promised by the ACLU and others to state promotion of religion on the Capitol grounds. He rests his case on Texas' similar monument — a relic from a movie decades ago that had become so enshrined and essentially invisible that the courts allowed it to stand when a challenge was raised many years later. More recently, courts ordered removal of a monument in Oklahoma.

        New plan to pay for LRSD facilities

        State Education Commissioner Johnny Key has approved a plan by Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore to raise $90 million through second-lien bonds to build the proposed new high school in Southwest Little Rock and pay for other facility improvements, including roof and heat/air repairs. Since the LRSD was taken over two years ago by the state for low test scores at a handful of its 48 schools, Key has served as the school board. Second-lien bonds do not require voter approval; they are repaid with surplus debt millage. That's currently some $27 million in excess of the amount necessary for current bond payments, but it would come at the expense of operational funds, which likely means budget cuts somewhere else.

        On May 9, LRSD voters overwhelmingly defeated a proposal to extend 12.4 mills in debt for 14 years to allow a $200 million bond sale to pay for various district improvements and build a high school.

        Griffen rules new juvenile sentencing law unconstitutional

        Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen ruled last week that a 2017 law addressing sentencing of juvenile killers was unconstitutional.

        He said the law unconstitutionally took sentencing out of the hands of a jury by setting a mandatory life sentence for capital murder, first-degree murder and treason, with a possibility of parole after 25 years for first-degree murder and 30 years for capital murder.

        The law was an effort to amend Arkansas law to comport with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held life without parole sentences unconstitutional for juvenile offenders 17 and younger.

        Since that Supreme Court decision, the Arkansas Supreme Court has begun hearing cases from people sentenced to life as juveniles. It has held that they should receive sentencing hearings and be given a chance to present evidence about age, the nature of the crime and other issues and given a sentence within the range for Class Y felonies.

        The legislature failed in its effort to create "age appropriate sentencing standards," Griffen ruled. The right to a jury trial includes jury sentencing, he said. "The issue of sentencing is not determined by the General Assembly. The General Assembly only determines the range of punishment for given sentences."

        The mandatory sentence in the 2017 law deprives defendants of the ability to present mitigating evidence on sentencing, Griffen said. The so-called Fair Sentencing of Minors Act doesn't pass constitutional muster because "it denies individualized sentencing," according to Griffen.

        Griffen also said the law encroached on separation of powers. The state argued that the law provides parole hearings at which defendants can offer mitigating evidence. But Griffen said parole hearings are not sentencing hearings. They are a condition of release subsequent to sentencing, he said. He said the legislature overstepped its authority because parole is an executive branch function.

        Bathroom bill revived

        The Senate Judiciary Committee voted last week to have interim hearings on a bathroom bill by Sen. Linda Collins-Smith (R-Pocahontas). The bill is an effort to prohibit transgender people from using facilities that match their identity.

        It's mean stuff, and the intervention of Governor Hutchinson and his nephew, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock), kept it off the statute books in 2017. But the enemies of transgender people haven't quit fighting, with a recent victory in Texas to their credit. They are red hot to continue pursuit of a nonexistent problem in Arkansas and will at least have some hearings before the next regular legislative session. (In theory, only budget matters may be discussed at the 2018 assembly.) If we're lucky, a Republican challenger will defeat Collins-Smith in the 2018 primary.

        Corrections: In Gene Lyons' June 22 column, "Megyn vs. Alex," he mistakenly wrote that the Sandy Hook massacre happened in 2015. It was in 2012.

        The June 22 Arkansas Reporter, "Two suits challenge new abortion laws," mistakenly referred to a 48-day waiting period for those seeking an abortion, rather than a 48-hour period.

                  Microsoft, Skype, and 8 Billion Dollars   

        At a whopping price of $8.5 billion, Skype is now officially under new ownership.  Even for a company like Microsoft, that price tag is far from chump change.  Rumors were circulating that Google, Facebook, and Cisco were also interested, but Google only offered a rumored $4.5 billion and others never actually made one.  From what […]
                  Look to Kansas   
        The grand austerity experiment of the once great state of Kansas has finally collapsed.

        Look to Kansas

        The grand austerity experiment of the once great state of Kansas has finally collapsed. The Republican dominated state legislature of Kansas passed a bill to reinstate some previous taxes in an effort to raise $1.2 billion in two years, but Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed the bill, which forced the legislature to override the veto. The Kansas state budget already faced a whopping $900 million shortfall over the next two years, according to CNN reports. Can this kind of Republican madness occur in Arkansas?

        The mainstream media may not have caught on yet, but there are two factors driving the Kansas fiscal calamity. The first factor is the Republican lack of will to cut Republican spending. Austerity cannot work until everybody cuts spending. The second is the Koch factor. The infamous king makers, the Koch brothers, are headquartered on 37th Street in Wichita, Kan., which makes Kansas the veritable ground zero for austere Republican directives. A better analogy is that the Kochs have created a black hole in Wichita, which is destroying all common sense in the surrounding red states and swallowing up Arkansas. For instance, just five months ago, President Obama left our nation and Arkansas with low unemployment and a booming economy. Governor Hutchinson and his General Assembly of Koch zombies cannot even fund a highway bill.

        Hey, Toto! We're in Kansas!

        Gene Mason


        From the web in response to Ernest Dumas' June 22 column, "Obamascare":

        As H.L. Mencken once observed, in somewhat different terms, one should never rely on the intelligence of American voters, Ernie. One of his supporters once enthusiastically told Adlai Stevenson, in the 1956 campaign against Ike Eisenhower, "Mr. Stevenson you have the support of every thinking American." To which, he calmly replied, "That's not enough, ma'am. I need a majority."


        From the web in response to the June 26 Arkansas Blog post "Supreme Court orders Arkansas to stop birth certificate discrimination":

        Another big win for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, heh heh.


        Is there anything in the Obergefell decision that would treat same sex married couples any different than the protected classes of the Civil Rights Act? If not, an overturning of the Colorado baker decision would relegate all protected classes equally vulnerable to discrimination on the grounds of sincerely held beliefs. Not just LGBT people, but also blacks and Jews and women. Woolworth's could then say that blacks at their lunch counters offends their religious beliefs, and the entire Civil Rights Act would be moot.


        While, of course, celebrating this and all other decisions favoring gay rights, I do wonder if we may need a parallel system to track strictly genetic origins. Otherwise aren't sperm and egg donation going to make true ancestry tracking problematic? When the doc asks if there's a history of heart disease in your family, you kinda need to know where your genes came from.


        We're reaching the point that DNA can identify medical conditions better than personal/family history. Especially when, and it's true, ancestral history may not be what it seems. Just saying.


        From the web in response to the June 23 Arkansas Blog post, "Little Rock to sell $90 million in bonds to build Southwest High School, do other work":

        Excellent explainer on the difference between the failed bond extension and this method of financing the school construction, but coming on the heels of the vote, it's hard not to see this as a calculated FU by Key to the voters of the district.


                  The Social Network   
        I was sitting in the theater with my friends Brodie and Caroline, about to see The Kids Are All Right, when the trailer for The Social Network came on the screen. It was ridiculous, showing Facebook posts with a terribly dramatic version of “Creep” sung by a children’s choir. I started laughing: the movie was taking itself entirely too seriously: it’s about a website, for heaven’s sake. I turned to Brodie and Caroline and said, “This looks absolutely awful.” Then Caroline said, “Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay,” and my internal debate began.

        See, I think Aaron Sorkin is a brilliant writer; I love The West Wing. If he wrote the screenplay, the movie was probably going to be good. But a movie about Facebook? I couldn’t quite believe that would be worth watching. When Justin Timberlake came on the Daily Show to promote it, which meant that I had to see the movie, I still wasn’t willing to put down the money and go to the theater. Even when everyone and her best friend started saying, “Oh my gosh, it’s so good,” I stayed away. But last week it arrived for me at the library. And last night—just before it won Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Adapted Screenplay—I sat down to watch The Social Network. And, yes, it was pretty darn good.

        For those of you who have managed to avoid the hype, I’ll give a brief synopsis. Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) creates a website that crashes Harvard’s servers and brings him to the attention of the Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer) who are looking for a programmer for a Harvard-exclusive dating-site they’ve designed. At the same time, Zuckerberg turns to his friend Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) to help him fund and create The Facebook, an idea that may or may not have been influenced by the Winklevoss’s website. Eventually, when The Facebook takes off, Zuckerberg gains the attention of Napster creator Sean Parker (Timberlake) whose influence causes a rift between Zuckerberg and Eduardo. This plot is interspersed with flash-forwards to the two trials regarding Facebook that Zuckerberg faces from the Winklevoss twins and Eduardo respectively.

        Sounds complicated? It kind of is, but somehow it is entirely followable. Even though the movie is terribly dramatic (though not quite as much as the trailer might lead you to believe), it didn’t bother me. A lot of that is due to Sorkin. Throughout the movie I often felt like I was watching an episode of The West Wing—even though the subject matter was entirely different. Though Sorkin’s fast-paced, witty dialogue is not how people speak in real-life, I find it so entertaining, I wish it were. Despite the fact that none of the characters were particularly likeable (so there was no one to cheer for), I was invested for the entire movie.

        Eisenberg, who won me over when he hosted SNL a few weeks ago, portrayed Zuckerberg with a robotic simplicity, which somehow made his jerkish actions more explainable. This was the first movie I’ve seen Eisenberg in where I didn’t think of him as a poor man’s Michael Cera. Hammer made the Winklevoss twins a great enemy and managed to show each twin’s distinct personality so they weren’t always grouped as one person. And Garfield’s Eduardo was the only character who I felt any sympathy for—he did great. (Who’s excited to see him as the new Spiderman? I am!)

        There’s been a lot of drama over how much of The Social Network is true and how much was creative license. It was based on The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, who claims his book is entirely true. The librarian in me wants to sit down and research the veracity of the entire movie, but then I remember that library school has left me with no time to do that (ironic, no?).

        In the end, despite entirely enjoying the movie, I’m giving it a 4/5. It’s certainly worth watching, but it also isn’t as life-changing and wonderful as some people may claim.

        Watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Justin Timberlake

        Buy the DVD
                  People Advisor SAN - Accenture - Bangalore, Karnataka   
        Human Resources are at the heart of Accenture, unleashing the power of talent in everything we do. Be the engine that powers Accenture, a $31 billion company...
        From Accenture - Fri, 23 Jun 2017 23:46:51 GMT - View all Bangalore, Karnataka jobs
                  California lawmaker pushing bill to jolt electric car market with $3 billion in subsidies   

        California’s electric car rebate program needs a recharge to meet the state’s clean air goals, said Democrat Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco.

        His bill to provide $3 billion in subsidies for electric car buyers over 12 years is wending its way through the Legislature. On Wednesday, Ting held...

                  'Dead Aid,' Dead Wrong   

        Moyo is on firm ground in criticizing decades of direct foreign assistance to African governments. Such aid has often propped up corrupt elites, shielded leaders from the consequences of their own incompetence and delayed reforms necessary for the development of working markets. She is correct in emphasizing the decisive role of trade, direct foreign investment and local capital in the development of poor nations -- sources of opportunity that dwarf aid flows in size and importance.

        I'd go further. Through most of the last several decades, the development of Africa has not even been the purpose of foreign aid. Europeans often provided money to elites in former colonies to assuage guilt. During the Cold War, Americans often used aid to reward loyalty. Most Westerners seemed to view developing nations as basket cases from which little could be expected anyway.

        But Moyo does not take sufficient account of the broad reaction against this kind of direct aid beginning in the 1990s. The United States started taking a much more targeted and strategic approach. The Millennium Challenge Account directed new aid to nations willing to work as responsible partners, dedicated to reform and transparency. Initiatives on AIDS and malaria required and achieved measurable outcomes and have often worked through civil society instead of giving money directly to African governments.

        Moyo dismisses these efforts, stating that her book is "not concerned with emergency and charity-based aid." But America's AIDS and malaria programs are more than "charity." They herald a new approach to foreign aid -- focused, centrally directed and results oriented. PEPFAR, for example, a program I advocated while I worked at the White House, has helped more than 2 million people get treatment for AIDS. The scale of the program has also resulted in the strengthening of African supply, management and human resource systems -- encouraging a professionalism that bleeds through an entire health system and beyond.

        But it is perhaps for the best that Moyo did not write on these issues, because she knows little about them. Referring to America's AIDS program, she states: "In 2005, the United States pledged US $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS (mainly through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). ... But this had strings attached. Two-thirds of the money had to go to pro-abstinence programmes. ... " The year of the pledge was 2003. And last year about one-thirteenth of the program was dedicated to both abstinence and marital faithfulness programs. It is not a small thing for an economist to be off by a factor of nine. And it is not a minor thing for Moyo to dismiss and distort the achievements of a foreign aid program that helped save her homeland of Zambia from social and economic ruin. In 2004, 7 percent of Zambians who needed AIDS drugs were receiving them. By September 2009, that figure should exceed 66 percent. AIDS drugs, admittedly, do not guarantee economic growth. But I suspect that a generation of hopeless mass death would have undermined Zambia's economic prospects.

        There are other limitations to "Dead Aid" -- its assertion that decimated global capital markets are a ready alternative to aid for African nations; its naive attitude toward Chinese engagement in Africa; its strange contention that African nations might be best served by "a decisive, benevolent dictator."

        But Moyo's largest error is an overbroad condemnation of aid itself. "Aid fosters a military culture." "Aid engenders laziness on the part of the African policymakers." Surely there is a difference between aid provided to oppressive kleptocrats and aid given to faith-based organizations distributing AIDS drugs.

        If Moyo's point is that some aid can be bad, then it is noncontroversial. If her point is that all aid is bad, then it is absurd. The productive political agenda is to increase the good while decreasing the bad. The productive academic debate is distinguishing between them.

        Instead, "Dead Aid" chooses to push the envelope of absurdity, proposing a "world without aid" on a five-year timetable. Moyo does not detail the possible outcomes. But we can reliably predict one of them. Many now alive would be dead.

                  A Week of Revelation   

        On domestic policy, the revelation was different. Candidate Obama was a tonal moderate -- a pragmatist determined to muddle the old divisions of blue and red into a pleasing, post-partisan purple. His mainstream economic appointments seemed to confirm this intention. His stimulus package and bank bailout proposals were expansive and expensive, but not ideologically radical.

        And then the budget came -- ideologically ambitious, politically ruthless and radical to its core.

        Obama chose a time of recession to propose a massive increase in progressivity -- a 10-year, trillion-dollar haul from the rich, already being punished by the stock market collapse and the housing market decline. This does not just involve undoing the Bush tax reductions but capping tax deductions to collect about $30 billion a year. Despite all the rhetoric of "responsibility" and shared sacrifice, the message of the Obama budget is clear: The wealthy are responsible for the economic mess and they will bear the entire sacrifice so that government can "invest" in the people.

        But governments do not "invest," they spend. Such spending can be justified or unjustified. It is wealthy individuals, however, who actually invest their capital in job creation. Most have much less capital than they used to. Under the Obama budget, they would have less still. This does not seem to matter in the economic worldview of the Obama budget. Equality is the goal instead of opportunity or economic mobility. And government, in this approach, is more capable of investing national wealth than America's discredited plutocrats -- meaning successful two-income families, entrepreneurs and professionals.

        This is not merely the rejection of "trickle-down economics," it is a weakening of the theoretical basis for capitalism -- that free individuals are generally more rational and efficient in making investment decisions than are government planners.

        This ideological shift is also evident in Obama's treatment of charitable giving. The new budget seeks to raise billions for health reform by limiting the charitable deduction for the wealthy. This is a direct claim that the good done by government spending will be more important than the good done by the wealthy. But it is often wealthy people who make the large donations that sustain colleges, universities and teaching hospitals. If government is inherently superior at making such charitable choices in the public good, why not make our entire education and medical systems public? Which seems to be the goal.

        As a practical matter, the promise of expensive, shared public goods entirely at the expense of the rich is a transparent deception. A good portion of the budget's spending reduction is illusory -- based on the phony assumption that Iraq and Afghanistan war outlays would have continued at similar levels in perpetuity. The budget's growth assumptions are not remotely realistic. It does little to address the crisis of unsustainable Social Security and Medicare obligations. And its $634 billion health care reform "fund" is merely a down payment -- perhaps a third of the future cost.

        So who is going to eventually pay for this accelerating debt, temporarily held by the Chinese and others? As the national debt's percentage of GDP moves from about 40 percent to perhaps 70 percent, there will not be enough wealthy people left to bleed. Once the economy recovers, broad tax increases will be unavoidable. Or Obama's "once-in-a-generation chance" will actually involve the imposition of massive burdens on the next generation.

        Conservatives hope Obama's overreach and Harry Reid's and Nancy Pelosi's arrogance will provoke a backlash -- leading markets to revolt, uniting the Republican base and causing doubts among fiscally conservative Democrats. But as an academic at Princeton recently reminded me, "It is only overreach if you fail."

        In the meantime, we have learned some important things. On defense policy, the peace candidate is not a radical. On economic policy, the post-partisan could hardly be more partisan. Obama does not want to cultivate conservatives; he wants to crush them. And that is a revelation.

                  Rihanna’s new billionaire lover ‘revealed’   
        SUPERSTAR Rihanna’s mystery lover is believed to be a Saudi businessman from one the richest families in the world, reportedly worth $US1.5 billion ($1.97 billion).
                  The Twin Cities have too many stadiums, but they are in the right places   
        At the intersection of Snelling and University Avenues in St. Paul on Tuesday around 6:30 p.m., I was stopped at a red light in the left turn lane. A man with a sign simply asking “please help” stood in the median. My 3-year-old daughter started to wave to him from the back seat while my 7-month old daughter drifted off into sleep. I froze for a couple seconds, then contorted in my seat to try to get my wallet out of my pocket to give him a dollar (knowing full well I could give him more, which is a different level of guilt). But the light turned green with a row of cars behind me. I made my left turn as the man stared blankly ahead. My 3-year-old asked what the man had been doing there. I told her that he was asking for money because he was having a hard time — that he probably didn’t have enough money to afford a place to live or perhaps even buy food to eat. She replied that it was OK, he could just live under the stoplight. I told her that he was dry and warm for now, but in Minnesota it gets cold and rainy — and worse. Overnight, in fact, it did rain. I told her that I was going to try to give him a little money so he could buy some food, but that the light changed too soon. She thought about it for a few seconds and said, “When people don’t have enough money to buy food or a house, we should give them money.” Two minutes later, we were inside a store where we bought $200 worth of groceries and other things. We went back to a house full of beds and comforts. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the exchange with my daughter, but it wasn’t until many hours later that I could attempt to connect the dots between what happened at that intersection and some other thoughts rattling around in my head about sports stadiums. Bear with me: *The Twin Cities area has spent a lot of money — some might say too much — on many new and/or refurbished sports stadiums. This is not the fault of any one team — rather a one-by-one reflection of the times we live in — but it’s pretty staggering. Consider that from 2009 through 2019 — a span of 10 years — the metro area did or will open a new college football stadium (TCF Bank Stadium, 2009), a new Twins ballpark (Target Field, 2010), a new St. Paul Saints ballpark (CHS Field, 2015), a new Vikings stadium (U.S. Bank, 2016), a remodeled Wolves/Lynx arena (Target Center, 2017) and a new United stadium (2019). Add in the new Gophers practice facilities/athletes village and don’t discount how nice Xcel Energy Center still is almost two decades after opening, and look at what we’ve done. It’s beautiful and staggering. It’s too excessive, however you choose to view the word. Whether the money was public, private or some combination, there was a choice made to spend billions of dollars on places for teams to play. The Wild and Wolves could easily share an arena, as the NBA and NHL teams do in other markets. There was talk for a time of the Vikings and Gophers football combining on a new stadium — and this talk was going on while those two teams, plus the Twins, shared one building. Minnesota United could play in an existing venue instead of building its own facility. This is proven by the fact that one ownership group bid to have them play in U.S. Bank Stadium, while for now Loons are playing in TCF Bank Stadium. *We have built too much and paid too much, but if we have done one thing right it’s this: at least we have built (or are building) these facilities in the right places. Every single new stadium built in that 10-year span is in Minneapolis or St. Paul. Each one is reasonably accessible from all corners of the sprawling metro area. Sure, it’s a haul to go from Plymouth to downtown St. Paul or from Woodbury to downtown Minneapolis. But you’re not trying to go from Plymouth to Woodbury, Lakeville to Blaine, or vice-versa. More importantly in the bigger picture, each of those facilities is accessible on the light rail and via other public transportation. None of those teams, by virtue of where there stadiums/arenas are built, have decided to run away from the core of this metro area. When you go to any of them, you will know you are in a city. By extension, you will be confronted by the realities of a city — including people who are so less fortunate than you that they do not have a place to live or enough to eat, as was likely the case with the man Tuesday night holding the sign not far from where Minnesota United’s new stadium will be built. These are all good things, even if they are not all pleasant things. Stadiums should be reasonably accessible for everyone. They should give you a sense of place. And they should remind us of the choices we have made when building them. *I just got back a couple days ago from Atlanta, which for a long time had the same philosophy. The Falcons and Braves shared Fulton County Stadium for more than a quarter-century. Then the Falcons moved into the Georgia Dome and the Braves moved into Turner Field. The Hawks play in Philips Arena, which also hosted the Thrashers when they were in the NHL. All of those stadiums/arenas are in the downtown Atlanta core, as is the new Falcons stadium, which will also house Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United. The Braves, though, are not. After deciding 20 years at Turner Field (seriously, 1997-2016) was enough time at a ballpark, the Braves began play this season at SunTrust Park in the suburbs. Now, first: there is nothing wrong with the suburbs. I don’t live in one, but I go to the suburbs a lot. I have a lot of friends who live in various suburbs, and they are good, happy people. There are plenty of good reason to decide to live in one. But the Braves’ move to the northwest suburbs was notable for many reasons, several of which are nicely summarized in this Forbes piece from four years ago when the plans were announced. Essentially, they moved to a less racially diverse area that is less accessible both on mass transit and from various other parts of an already sprawling metro area that is TERRIBLE when it comes to traffic. It was a symbolic move, even if it wasn’t intentionally so. The new ballpark, which I visited Sunday for a Braves/Brewers game, is nice enough. (Photo above of the sparse crowd is from just before first pitch). It was described perfectly by another member of our Great Baseball Road trip as, “If Coors Field and Target Field had a baby, but then they forgot they needed lights and got them at a Jacobs (Progressive) Field garage sale.” We went on a weekend, when traffic was not as much of a problem, but I cannot imagine what it’s like to attend a weeknight game after spending more than 90 minutes trying to make it 35 miles both Thursday and Friday in the Atlanta area. The best local comparison for the ballpark location and surroundings — which sprang from an empty lot as far as I’ve been told — is if you dropped a new baseball stadium right in the middle of the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove. Outside of SunTrust Park, you are not confronted by anything other than more opportunities to buy things. Our parking for the game was $50, but they validate the whole thing if you buy $50 worth of stuff at the surrounding bars/restaurants/shops (which we did, playing right into their design, by eating and drinking perfectly nice but not memorable at all meals and beverages at Establishment X postgame). I’ve been told by a few Atlanta locals — some of whom wrote to me after I wrote the other day about the Braves’ unspectacular attendance in spite of this new ballpark — that the bad traffic combined with the distance from a lot of parts of the metro area has led plenty of residents to already conclude “why bother” when it comes to trying to see the Braves. Atlanta struggled to support even the best Braves teams of the 1990s and 2000s when they were more centrally located, and putting them further away at a spot where two congested freeways meet might not be helping. If you don’t mind the commercialism and don’t want to get a feel for the city you’re in when you attend a game, it’s fine. But you still have to wrap your head around approving $400 million in public money for a new stadium 17 years after starting play in another new stadium, and doing it in a city that in many years is ranked as having the largest income disparity between rich and poor in the nation. But what do I know? It might just be my guilt talking, but I’m still inclined to agree with a 3-year-old in thinking that people who don’t have money and a place to live should get our help, too, because they sure can’t live under stoplights.
                  Neither Obama nor Mc Cain! The United States needs a revolutionary government. It is necessary to destroy capitalism like a furious animal and ...   

        by Yanick Toutain
        MONSYTE oct 30, 2008
        REVACTU oct 14 2016

        Obama is a puppet with a program of Wall Street

        To drive out the capitalists and their puppets is needed a revocable govt
        (written  oct 30, 2008)

        US CITIZENS NEED IN 2016 AS IN 2008


        The current joke is a modern form of dictatorship.

        The cranium stuffing of Obama and the million and the million dollars of the bank are the response to the stuffing of the ballot boxes and fakings of the Bush gang of 2004.

        All that to make more than 700 billion dollars gifts to the friends Obama: a capitalist socialism!

        All that is a carnival in front of the tanks and the guns of the traders.




        The citizens must meet by 25 to choose a revocable delegate among them.

        They can also choose an intermediary which will represent 5 people, 5 délégateurs, then 5 intermediaries will choose a delegate (who will represent the 25 délégateurs)

        These delegates are revocable at any moment.

        With 5 stages of delegates, a delegate represents 9.76 million délégateurs.

        25 delegated 5° stage thus represent more than 240 million délégateurs

        These delegates are revocable constantly.

        There is no list system. There is no time of mandate.

        It is not possible any more to corrupt a delegate: he would be ejected at once.

        These delegates are it by all the citizens knowing to read. Youth, as from 7 years will be able to choose its delegates.

        JEUDI 30 OCTOBRE 2008

        Neither Obama nor Mc Cain! The United States needs a revolutionary government. It is necessary to destroy capitalism like a furious animal and ...

        automatic translation with Babelfish Systran Yahooo
        (if you find some mistakes, you can give your help ! thanks !)

        Neither Obama nor Mc Cain! The United States needs a revolutionary government. It is necessary to destroy capitalism like a furious animal and to found an egalitarian liberal system.


        What would make an egalitarian government in the USA?


        As of the first day, the government will take 5 simple measurements.

        1) 1000 DOLLARS for consumption

        The urgency is to pour 1000 dollars per month for each citizen of more than 14 years, 500 dollars per young person of less than 14 years.

        An egalitarian government will give a Web page to each unemployed, with each person in looking for a job, each person having a project, each student, each person leaving her employment to be made, truly, useful, with each person wanting to leave her employment.


        Each recipient of these 1000 dollars per month will return account to its fellow-citizens of the social activity which it will have decided to implement.

        The disappearance of wage-earning, it will be the single wages.

        The trade unions formois with their “always more! ” lie you.

        A revolutionary government will ensure each citizen a decent life

        A dream formois, a middle-class dream: to be owner of a house, to be owner of a ground.

        Each house will be rented a moderate price: 5 dollars the square meter.

        All houses.

        In the event of competition, free biddings between the new citizens (paid 1000 euros) will decide between the concurrents*.

        Egalitarianism does not accept the property of the grounds, the property of the buildings.

        The 70% of States-Uniens owners are the superones, robbers of the Third world, robbers the Land ones.

        The revolution will be done for the benefit those which America crushed, for the benefit of the 30% of poorest of the States-Uniens and those which are crushed by the iron Heel to be precipitated towards poverty.

        Perhaps to conclude their projects, their social proposals, the new citizens will need investments.

        2) 300 DOLLARS FOR the INVESTMENT

        In a world without banks, without capitalists, credit, the construction of the future is not made the democratic investment.

        Each manufacturer of project, the new Bill Gates, new Walt Disney, the new pupil of Google will need investments, of buildings to be rented, machines to be bought, working capital.

        The world to come will be a true liberal world.

        But not a world of asses which advance for carrots!

        To work will not bring back anything except the pleasure of being useful: Here is the key of the New World, the New Border!


        They will be the citizens who will hold the investment: they will pour 300 dollars with their preferred projects.

        More taxes to be paid for the new citizens. The reverse. The exact opposite one.



        A company which functions needs investments. They are the citizens, who, by Internet, will pour their investments citizens.

        For the car, for space research, the biological research, research in physics, the armed forces, the assistance with the cousins of the colonized countries, for education, health, the construction of shopping malls, of various factories, for the financing of films, video games, of software, for the implementation of ecological projects, of natural parks, it is the citizen who will decide.


        Will each citizen be the Master of his 300 dollars?

        The only condition will be its satisfying.

        Each financing will be public: each citizen invests his 300 dollars on his site of citizen, each one can consult the financings of each one.

        It is out of the question that somebody can fake his investment by transforming it into disguised consumption.

        Not question of financing the restaurant of your cousin or a friend in exchange of free meal, not question of financing the recording of the group which sings your own songs, not question of financing a project in exchange of the financing of another project.


        In the event of faking, the citizens corrupt officials will quickly be sanctioned: the reputation which is theirs will go down in freefall.

        Consequently, their capacity to assemble their own projects will take a severe blow.

        As well as the reputation of their accomplices.

        The companies will be companies with nonlucrative goal.

        Free associations of contractors.

        But nobody has anything.


        The current joke is a modern form of dictatorship.

        The cranium stuffing of Obama and the million and the million dollars of the bank are the response to the stuffing of the ballot boxes and fakings of the Bush gang of 2004.

        All that to make more than 700 billion dollars gifts to the friends Obama: a capitalist socialism!

        All that is a carnival in front of the tanks and the guns of the traders.




        The citizens must meet by 25 to choose a revocable delegate among them.

        They can also choose an intermediary which will represent 5 people, 5 délégateurs, then 5 intermediaries will choose a delegate (who will represent the 25 délégateurs)

        These delegates are revocable at any moment.

        With 5 stages of delegates, a delegate represents 9.76 million délégateurs.

        25 delegated 5° stage thus represent more than 240 million délégateurs

        These delegates are revocable constantly.

        There is no list system. There is no time of mandate.

        It is not possible any more to corrupt a delegate: he would be ejected at once.

        These delegates are it by all the citizens knowing to read. Youth, as from 7 years will be able to choose its delegates.


        The totality of the soldiers imperialists, abroad, will be called, as of the first day to remain in their barracks and to prepare their immediate return in the USA.

        The generals and with graded fascistic will be delivered to justices of the occupied countries. Whatever the shapes of governments!

        In order to be there judged according to the laws of the countries that the fascistic government of Wall Street will have decided to occupy.


        All the taxes and excise duties will be removed and replaced by a single tax.

        The tax carbon.

        This tax will be based on the purchase of ration coupons carbon bought to the poor Mexicans and in all the South American who emit less than 1,8 kilos of carbon per day.


        These tasks will be, well, obviously, the complement of defensive measurements that such a government would be obliged to take against the plotters and other counter-revolutionaries who put the country at his boot since the time when the writer visionary Jack London denounced the Iron Heel.

        *Only the citizens without fortune, having only 1000 dollars per month of incomes, will be able to profit from such biddings.

        The owners will pour them-also to them rent of 5 dollars: the revolution does not recognize the real estate.

        With wages of 1000 dollars, the biddings will not go up very high.

        As for great fortunes, lawsuits in criminal monopolization will reduce the number of gangster in the country.

        A Michael Jackson will quickly find in one 2 room appartment and her properties transformed into universities for all the ages.

                  The importance of DMARC   

        With over 144 billion emails sent every day, spammers and phishers have a rapidly growing playground for their attacks. In order for your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to determine that the emails your company sends are indeed from a verified sender and not spammers, you must authenticate your sends.

        Find out about Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) which has been created as a standard to help properly authenticate your sends and monitor and report phishers that are trying to send from your name.

                  Should I use advertising to monetise my product?   

        The Internet has come a long way since the early days of banners, skyscrapers and popup advertising, however the majority of large scale, online first, consumer companies still use advertising as their main source of revenue. Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter have shown that you can earn billions of dollars every year once you […]

        Should I use advertising to monetise my product? was written by Philip Brown on Culttt - Articles on business, technology and the Internet

                  Why This Hot U.S. Razor Startup Just Made a Leap Across the Pond   
        The New York startup takes aim at the $17 billion men's grooming sector.
                  Draghi Now Sings A Hawkish Tune   
        While it definitely was dovish of Mario Draghi to say the ECB hadn’t discussed unwinding the balance sheet, it didn’t imply the ECB wouldn’t taper the 60 billion euro bond buying program in December.
                  4.5 billion-year-old meteorite found in back garden   
        The discovery of a 500 gram (1 pound) meteorite could help shed light on the origin of our solar system. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

                  Westinghouse blocked in bid to seek $2B over nuclear plants   
        WILMINGTON, Del.— A Delaware court has reversed a decision that would have let Westinghouse Electric Co. try to recoup about $2 billion from a business partner over cost overruns at nuclear plant projects in Georgia and South Carolina. Toshiba-owned Westinghouse has been mired in a dispute linked to its 2015 acquisition of Stone& Webster from Chicago Bridge&...
                  SMEs failing on energy efficiency says E.ON   
        As part of its campaign to make British businesses energy fit, E.ON has warned that around four million of the 4.8 million small businesses in the UK are failing to implement energy efficiency measures. According to E.ON’s research, this means that they are missing out on £7.7 billion every year. SMEs could soon improve their […]
                  By: Mark   
        Ginger, your argument is not against the institution of the Senate, it is against the individual Senators and the PMs that have put them there, which I agree with. That is the point myself and the other were trying to make, it is not the institution, it is how it has been used. The institution serves a useful role why don't we demand that it be used properly rather than, the very difficult process, of trying to abolish it? The Senate costs approximately $100 million per year, which relatively speaking, is a drop in the bucket of a federal budget of circa 200 billion dollars. A conspiratorial minded person might even think that people wanted public perception of the Senate to turn this way over the long run, but I'm not about to run around Ottawa looking for grassy knolls.
                  Even a $2.2 billion investment couldn’t solve LeEco’s money problems   

         LeEco wanted too much too fast, and its overzealousness caught up with it almost immediately. Chairman Jia “YT” Yueting has long acknowledged the company’s cash problems in the wake of its rapid growth, but while PR has tried to backtrack and otherwise spin his statements in the past, new comments this week paint an even […]

        The post Even a $2.2 billion investment couldn’t solve LeEco’s money problems appeared first on IT Jockies Technology.

                  Coca-Cola has built a commercialization ‘Bridge’ to startups worldwide   

         Why would a 131-year-old soda company with $44 billion in international sales possibly want to partner with small, pre-revenue technology companies emerging from places far-flung from its Atlanta headquarters? If the company is Coca-Cola (and it is), the answer is all about strategy. Read More Source

        The post Coca-Cola has built a commercialization ‘Bridge’ to startups worldwide appeared first on IT Jockies Technology.

                  Palmer Luckey   

        Today on the 5: Many are condemning Oculus over the fact that Palmer Luckey is likely a pro-Trump supporter. I find that troubling.

                  The Deeper Truth   

        Today on the 5: Microsoft has said it will miss the billion install mark it projected for Windows 10. The reasons given don't add for up to me.


        Today on the 5: Microsoft is buying LinkedIn. Will this finally give the rudderless 'networking tool' a purpose?

                  Why investors might welcome the end of First Potomac Realty Trust   
        The company's sale for $1.4 billion might not be what some stockholders hoped for, but it presents the chance for a clean break for the troubled Bethesda REIT.

                  Asian Cash Losing Its Cachet? A Vancouver Realtor offers comfort to Reuters American readers   

        On a day when all the local attention is focused on the release of the BC Provincial Budget, let's turn our attention to a small news item that probably slipped under your radar today. posted an article by Reuters news service titled "Chinese investors find their cash is losing its cachet".

        Apparently China's tightening capital controls are beginning to be felt in North America as Chinese firms struggle to close deals owing to lack of FX. As a result,  overseas direct investment is dropping sharply.  North American sellers want Chinese buyers to provide proof of funds and such deal scrutiny is hurting investor confidence.

        According to Reuters:
        "Chinese investors have been highly sought after the world over. Now, their cash is losing its cachet. China's increasing efforts to prevent capital from leaving the country are eroding the confidence of domestic and foreign investors about getting deals done inside and outside of the world's second-biggest economy. Chinese bidders had become ubiquitous in deals in the past two years and were welcomed, said Severin Brizay, head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa mergers and acquisitions for the investment bank UBS. 'Clients were asking if it would be possible to make sure they are involved. Now, we are seeing the reverse: some clients are asking if we can do it without Chinese bidders because of the domestic challenges they face,' he said.
        Those at the heart of brokering investment deals with Chinese investors say that many Chinese firms are unable to close deals because they can not secure official permission to transfer yuan into foreign exchange.

        This, of course, follows a series of capital control measures China implemented late last year to tighten restrictions on capital outflows and rein in what officials have called "irrational" outbound investment.

        The Institute of International Finance estimated capital outflows surged to a record $725 billion last year and it expects even higher outflows this year. The yuan fell more than 6.5% last year against the US dollar, its steepest decline since 1994, prompting the central bank to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in reserves to prevent the slide from turning into a slump.

        The most interesting of the facts presented are that Overseas Direct Investment (ODI) by Chinese in December fell almost 40% from a year earlier to $8.41 billion, the lowest monthly level in 2016.

        In January, overseas property purchases by Chinese corporations plunged. In one case, a Chinese investor was unable to get permission from authorities to exchange yuan into $30 million to close a U.S. deal, a consultant involved in the project said. The planned $100 million investment in a U.S. residential property portfolio fell through.
        "Sellers nowadays will request certain proof," said Jeffrey Sun, a Shanghai-based partner at the legal practice of Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe. "From the sellers' side, the worry is justified."
        Reuters goes on to outline how fund managers that help Chinese investment abroad are "freaking out" and are searching for creative ways to circumvent capital control regulations.

        But perhaps the best part of the article is the ending, which turns to the Village on the Edge of the Rainforest for reassurance and I'm sure will warm the hearts of all local real estate agents... and infuriate many frustrated with government complacency:
        "Chinese conglomerate HNA Group announced about $20 billion in outbound deals last year. Thomson Reuters data shows it raised at least $17.05 billion in loans abroad in 2016. Overall, China's outbound investment hit a record last year but could have been much higher, said the Rhodium Group, a consultancy that tracks direct investment from China. It said a record 30 deals worth $74 billion and involving Chinese companies were cancelled in the United States and Europe in 2016.
        "Right now everybody is thoroughly freaked out by capital controls," Daniel Rosen, a Rhodium partner and adjunct professor at Columbia University, said. Still, on Vancouver's upscale West Side, a neighborhood popular with foreign buyers where the price of homes runs in the millions of dollars, realtor Tom Gradecak was less worried about Chinese demand. In the past, Chinese investors have tended to find ways around capital controls, he said. "It won't take them long," he said. "The people that really want to come here, I don't think it's going to stop them."
        Of course Gradecak would say that. Krusty just gutted the Foreign Buyers Tax to help make that happen, didn't she?


        Click 'comments' below to contribute to this post.

        Please read disclaimer at bottom of blog.

                  So how come we haven't heard much about the Chinese New Year home buying spree this year?   

        So it's mid February and usually the real estate cartel is barfing out stories about how Chinese have come over to our shores on home buying trips for their kids.

        It's become an annual tradition to hear this crap.  Here's just a couple of twitter posts from 2015/2014 to illustrate (click image to enlarge):

        And with Premier Krusty gutting the Foreign Buyers Tax at the end of January (presumably it's news of this glorious move that's in those little red envelopes above), expectations soared that Cam Good's yellow helicopter might once again fly over the Lower Mainland.

        In fact the Real Estate TV Network (RETV)... err... Global BC announced the wet coast's annual heralds of spring just three weeks ago...

        Said Global BC:
        "Vancouver’s slow-churning real estate market might see a slight uptick next week due to an influx of Chinese New Year vacationers. 
        The Chinese national holiday – celebrated widely in Vancouver and around the globe – begins Friday night with a week-long holiday. Many take the time off as an opportunity to travel abroad. Last year, six million Chinese left the country for vacation., a China-based website for international real estate, says a quarter of Chinese consumers surveyed plan to travel internationally during Chinese New Year, with 42 per cent of those saying they plan to shop for property while away. In total, just under 11 per cent of all people surveyed said they’ll spend the holiday property hunting. 
        The website also surveyed 163 realtors in Canada and found 17 per cent of international agents and 16 per cent of Canadian agents had been contacted by buyers who plan to visit during Chinese New Year. 
        “We also see Vancouver getting a steady stream of Chinese visitors seeking a ‘lung cleansing’ holiday,” Charles Pittar, CEO of, said. “Canada is a top-five country for these trips. Other top lung-cleansing spots are Japan, Thailand, Australia and Switzerland. One-half billion Chinese were affected by hazardous smog this winter. They come to Vancouver for clean air, among other things.”
        So how has the 'lung cleansing' gone so far this year?

        Not that we have heard it on RETV Global BC, but reports are that Chinese New Year Sales of Vancouver Real Estate Are Down 78%.

        Now besides debilitating Cam Good, an 80% drop in sales is nothing short of devestating. But the  drop in single family home sales - the bread and butter of the foreign Asian market - is even more spectacular. As the above article notes, "Sales of detached homes had the largest drop during this Chinese New Year vs the years prior. Just 119 sales were logged this year, an 87.28% decline from last year."

        Yikes. And it's not just the detached market. Chinese New Year Condo sales are reported to be down 72% and townhouse sales down 78%.

        Rumour amongst some agents is that pressure is being applied to the BC Liberals to cut what remains of the Foreign Buyers Tax, currently sitting at 15%, to something much lower.

        We will see what happens next.


        Click 'comments' below to contribute to this post.

        Please read disclaimer at bottom of blog.

                  Wed Post #1: Is Horgan as incompetent as Adrian Dix?   

        A few years back we criticized the BCNDP: before the election for choosing a Dix - a candidate the electorate would have difficulty voting for; and after the election for choosing Horgan - a candidate who we've suggested wasn't the right person for the job if the BCNDP wants to form the next government.

        We see little today to alter that impression.

        As you will recall our current Premier, Krusty, adeptly remade the BC Liberals after the resignation of Gordon Campbell and leveraged the built in weaknesses that Dix brought to the table as the BCNDP candidate in the last election (his inherent ties to the corrupt Glen Clark government) and swept to a victory almost no one saw coming on election night. A victory on par for shock value that Donald Trump recently executed over Hillary Clinton.

        Four years later, Krusty had seemly failed to heed the lessons of the Gordon Campbell implosion and - until last summer - looked destined for a loss in the upcoming May Provincial elections.

        In early 2016 the BC Liberals were being hammered by the BCNDP's David Eby.

        Eby is a relative newcomer and a bit of a rising star. He first shot to prominence when he was elected the BCNDP MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey in the 2013 provincial election shocker. In an upset victory for the ages, victory was tempered for Krusty by the fact Eby actually defeated her in Clark's own affluent west side Vancouver riding by 1,063 votes.

        Krusty was forced to get into the house through an Okanagan by-election months later.

        Since then, as housing critic, Eby has masterfully leveraged the havoc that massive worldwide excess credit is wreaking on the Lower Mainland.

        This is no small accomplishment considering it's the policies of the Bank of Canada, CMHC and federal government that are to blame, not the BC Provincial Government.

        But inaction by Krusty to do what she could to mitigate the damage was creating a rising tide of public resentment. Eby acurrately painted the BC Liberals as being in bed with their Real Estate Development cronies and tied that connection into exacerbating the Vancouver situation.

        It struck a chord with the public and Eby was making massive inroads into the BC Libs political support.

        Some even wondered if Eby's performance was Leader worthy.

        Krusty responded - big time. In a move that astonished even this humble scribe, the BC Liberals imposed a 15% Foreign Buyers tax. Krusty read the mood of the people and moved with lightening speed to enact a significant policy change.

        It was roundly cheered by many - both as significant and potentially effective.

        By mid September, 2016 the BC Liberals were able to ride the benefits of both a runaway housing market and their attempts to contain it. They announced that, "the B.C. government had raked in $2.2 billion in revenue from the property transfer tax and the new 15-per-cent tax on foreign buyers of Metro Vancouver homes."

        That’s a billion dollars more than the government had projected.

        As the National Post noted, "That enormous windfall caused Liberal MLAs to break out into a spontaneous conga line through the legislature. Finance Minister Mike de Jong was forecasting a surplus of $1.94 billion, up from an earlier projection of $264 million. He then announced that $500 million from the property tax would fund a housing affordability program and another $400 million would go into the B.C. prosperity fund “as a legacy for future generations,” he said. And this, for the cherry on top: The surplus allowed the government to scrap a planned four-per-cent increase in medical service plan premiums. It wasn’t as tasty a treat as an announcement to revamp or scrap the loathsome MSP entirely would have been. But it did make the medicine go down more easily."

        Krusty had neutered the BCNDP criticisms and turned the tide heading into the May 2017 Provincial election.

        But in the last three weeks there has been an astonishing about face in the BC Liberal position. Faced with a total collapse in real estate sales (luxury sales down 91% and Vancouver home sales plunged 40%) Krusty has been under enormous pressure to undo the steps she took last September.

        Finally she cracked, backtracked and bowed to the pressures of the Real Estate Developers - to the major donors to BC Lib political coffers.

        So where is David Eby as this happens? He has been all but invisible.

        And now as Toronto housing market starts replicating the excesses seen in Vancouver, the Bank of Montreal publicly declares that Toronto's housing market in a bubble.

        And what is a bubble as per BMO economist Douglas Porter?;
        “It’s when prices become dangerously detached from economic fundamentals and start rising strongly simply because people believe they will keep rising strongly, encouraging more buying."
        That's a definition that describes Vancouver to a tee.

        So here you have Canada's major banks finally calling the situation for what it is. And in the midst of it all, Krusty and the BC Liberals are throwing gasoline on a raging fire by gutting the 15% Foreign Buyers tax and introducing the new 'first time homebuyers' giveaway. And it appears to be directly linked to threats by BC Real Estate Developers to yank political donations.

        Why isn't David Eby front and center holding the BC Liberal's feet to the fire over this?

        You have to wonder if there is a backstory within the BCNDP here.


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        Please read disclaimer at bottom of blog.

                  Thur Feb 2nd Post #1: BMO returns to offering cash back to first time home buyers   

        In the next day or so we will start to see the monthly real estate stats for January 2017 released. Early word is that they are ugly. Real ugly.

        Part of that has to do with the brutal frankenumber HPI the industry uses. Critics have denounced the formula as a method to hide any collapse from the public... or at least hide it for a while.  Eventually any long term slide will become very evident and the chatter is that time has come.

        Bearing the brunt of the blame has been the 15% Foreign Buyers tax implemented by the government of BC last September. This is now compounded by the recent capital controls announced by the People's Bank of China (PBoC).

        With reports that high end developers are panicking and have threatened withholding political donations to the BC Liberal Party (crucial with an election looming in May),  the BC government had announced that starting Jan 16 a program was launched to oan first-time homebuyers some of the cash they need to afford their down payment.

        The program provides a government-backed loan of up to $37,500, or five per cent, of the purchase price of a home for qualified buyers. The goal is to match part of a person's down payment to help them afford to buy their first home, as long as they already qualify for a mortgage under federal rules and the home is worth less than $750,000.

        This attempt to shovel incentive money to first time buyers is being roundly denounced from all quarters nationwide.

        And now we learn banks in BC are climbing back on the free money bandwagon.

        Last week the Bank of Montreal (BMO) announced they are chasing first-time home buyers with a cash back mortgage promo. First-time home buyers taking out insured mortgages with terms of at least four years are eligible for $500 cash on mortgages of less than $250,000, and $1,000 on larger loans. Once the mortgage is booked, the cash is credited to the customer’s BMO chequing account.

        In a statement, BMO called its new offer a “timely” companion to a new interest-free loan program British Columbia’s provincial government launched to help new buyers cobble together down payments amid soaring housing prices. The federal government recently expanded stress tests aimed at ensuring a home buyer could still afford a mortgage at higher rates, making it harder for some prospective buyers to qualify.

        “While the provincial government’s offer is exclusive to B.C., our hope is to support all Canadians who come to us for this important milestone and investment,” said Michael Bonner, BMO’s senior vice-president and regional head for British Columbia and Yukon.

        Of course sceptics might say it has less to do with 'supporting' Canadians and more to do with the fact that BMO has acknowledged that its residential mortgage portfolio in Canada, which totalled $103.6-billion in Canada as of Oct. 31, 2016, trails when compared with some key competitors.

        Canada’s mortgage market is showing signs of slowing growth. Interest rates have risen from rock-bottom lows, consumers are heavily indebted, the federal government has introduced stricter rules on new mortgages in an effort to cool overheating prices in Toronto and Vancouver, the PBoC is implementing capital controls and the 15% Foreign Buyers tax was working far better than everyone imagined.

        Now, it appears, there are massive efforts to plug the exact holes the changes were designed to create.


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                  Wed Feb 1st Post #2: Did you know the Housing Bubble in North America was deliberately created by the Feds?   

        Since we are returning, we thought we'd throw up a few posts reviewing how we got to where we are with our Canadian Housing Bubble.

        With all the intense press attention on our housing bubble over the last year or so, China has become the scapegoat for all our housing woes.  And while the world is awash in Chinese money today, it's important to acknowledge the home grown roots of our problem.

        And to understand that... it's crucial to recall how the CMHC was specifically instructed by the Harper Conservatives to create our housing bubble.

        "Say what?", you exclaim!

        It's true.  What is even more astonishing is that the United States also deliberately created their housing bubble too.

        Both nation's predicaments were deliberately crafted.

        After the dot com crash of 1999 and the 2001 terrorist attacks, America had a choice of entering a painful recession (which critics say was desperately needed to correct the imbalance of excessive monetary stimulus in the 1990s) or politicians could kick the can down the road and artificially inflate the economy.

        Economist Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times on August 2, 2002,  identified the problem:
        The basic point is that the recession of 2001 wasn't a typical postwar slump, brought on when an inflation-fighting Fed raises interest rates and easily ended by a snapback in housing and consumer spending when the Fed brings rates back down again. 
        This was a prewar-style recession, a morning after brought on by irrational exuberance. 
        To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.
        Yes... you read that correctly. To offset a morbid economy, leading economists were recommending that the US Government and the US Federal Reserve create a housing bubble so that consumers could use that 'sense of wealth' to drive the economy with consumer spending.

        The creation of a housing bubble was a deliberate economic stimulus move.

        And Canada followed America's lead on this.

        In America, from 2002-2008, President George W. Bush almost singlehandedly, through cheap rates, lax regulation, government housing subsidies, presidential boosterism and financial engineering, managed to get the home ownership rate to 70%.

        Following the lead of Republicans in the US, the Canadian Government saw the success of this plan and began pumping the Ownership Society as well. Gifts, incentives and inducements were showered on home buyers and the result was demand swelled, prices popped and a bubble was born.

        The main vehicle for these inducements was the CMHC, or the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Founded after World War II to provide housing for returning soldiers, the CMHC's role has grown dramatically in the following 70 years.  A Crown corporation owned by the Government of Canada, it's main function today is  providing insurance for residential mortgage loans to Canadian home buyers. (Note: This insurance isn't for the Canadian who buys a home, rather it protects mortgage lenders against mortgage defaults by home buyers on mortgages with less than 20% down)

        Here's how CMHC and mortgages in Canada evolved in the 2000s:
        • Prior to 1999 you needed 10% for a mortgage and that mortgage had a maximum amortization of 25 years.  CMHC also had limits on how much you could buy with their insurance.
        • Just after 1999 CMHC lowered the down payment to 5% with price limits on how much they would insure depending on the area. Amortizations were still 25 years. There would be no price limit on what they would insure if 10% or more was put down.
        • By Sept. 2003 CMHC allowed 5% down on 25 yr amortizations but they removed all price ceiling limitations. Now any mortgage would be insured regardless of the value of home purchased. 
        • In March 2004 CMHC began allowing Flex-Down products which permitted the 5% down to be borrowed and 1.5% closing costs to be borrowed (essentially zero down, but 95% insured).
        • In March 2006 you had  0% down, 30 yr amortizations. This became 0% down, 35 yr amortizations later in the year.  Interest only payments were allowed for 10 years.
        • In November 2006 CMHC began allowing 0% down, 40 yr amortizations along with interest only payments for 10 years. 
        • Canadian banks ramped this up by allowing up to 7% cash back offers is you would take on a mortgage with them.  You could basically get paid if you bought a house.
        • Not only were the rules surrounding the granting of money loosened, but CMHC's cap for granting mortgages grew from $100 Billion in 2006 to almost $600 Billion by 2014.
        Right there, in all those details, is where all the money originated to fund our housing bubble.

        Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government altered mortgage and tax rules to the point we had the zero down, forty year mortgage. They allowed Canadians to raid RRSP's for down payments. They created the Home Reno Tax Credit. They gave us the first-time buyer's closing cost gift and they instituted the infamous 'emergency interest rate' which has kept interest rates artificially low since 2009 - an astonishing 8 years! 

        Harper's Conservatives gave us more pro-real estate initiatives than Canadians had seen in the last quarter-century.

        But wait... there's more!

        The most astonishing element, in addition to of all this, was something that has been effectively buried. Something that, now that the mainstream Canadian media have finally turned their attention to the chaos being created by all this malinvestment in Real Estate, are completely unaware of.

        Back in 2009 we profiled series of excellent articles put out by Murray Dobbin. One of them, Dobbin's 2009 article titled 'Why Canada's Housing Bubble Will Burst', garnered significant interest in the blogosphere. In that article he stated:
        • In an effort to prop up the real estate market in 2008 (when affordability nosedived), the Harper government directed the CMHC to approve as many high-risk borrowers as possible and to keep credit flowing. CMHC described these risky loans as "high ratio homeowner units approved to address less-served markets and/or to serve specific government priorities." The approval rate for these risky loans went from 33 per cent in 2007 to 42 per cent in 2008. By mid-2007, average equity as a share of home value was down to six per cent -- from 48 per cent in 2003. At the peak of the U.S. housing bubble, just before it burst, house prices were five times the average American income; in Canada today that ratio is 7.4:1 -- almost 50 per cent higher.
        That's a stunning statement. He's saying the Harper Government specifically directed the CMHC to approve risky loans in an attempt to keep the economy afloat and blow the Housing Bubble even bigger.

        Shortly after the article was written, this blog contacted Dobbin and asked him about the source for this comment.

        Dobbin stated he got the reference from a CMHC report which was freely available on the CMHC website.  

        Your dutiful scribes from this blog checked out the document and read it personally.  Unfortunately we did not download a copy (and if anyone out there did, we would love to know).

        Dobbin's statement was confirmed, CMHC stated in that document that they had been directed by the government to approve as many high-risk borrowers as possible.

        A few months later, when a curious reader asked us about the source for this quote, we went to the CMHC site to forward the link to the report.  It was then we noticed the report had been removed.   When we asked Dobbin about it, he also noted (with surprise) that the report was gone from the CMHC website.  Dobbin also had failed to download a copy.

        Dobbin columns had obviously struck a nerve and CMHC were directed to remove the document from their website.

        Curiously Wikipedia incorporated Dobbin's information into it's database about the CMHC.

        Don't bother to look for it now, tho. Curiously, when we went to reference the site for our original post on this several years ago we discovered that the Wiki CMHC page had undergone a significant sanitization.

        Gone was the notation about CMHC being directed by the Conservative Government to change policy to approve more high risk borrowers.  Also removed were all the statistics about the ballooning level of CMHC backed mortgages.

        In it's place are bland descriptions of CMHC functions. 

        At the top of the page is this warning bar (click on image to enlarge):

        If anyone is interested what the Wiki page used to say, you can still find it at a website called 'the full wiki'. It contains the old information that the Wiki page used to hold. 

        In Slide #7 it states: "In 2008, Canadian home prices started to dip as affordability become the worst on record in many cities. CMHC publicly admitted that it was ordered to approve as many high risk borrowers as possible to prop up the housing marked and keep credit flowing."

        That is a stunning acknowledgement.

        When the American housing bubble popped in 2008, the Conservatives bet heavily they could shield our boom from the 2008 financial crisis. What they did to add fuel to a powder keg which has now grown insanely large as other Central Banks (US Fed and Peoples Bank of China) have flooded the world with Quantitative Easing and excess credit.

        But make no mistake. The foundation of this massive bubble started at home - with the manipulation of CMHC policies.

        (Below are the screen shots of the original Wiki site on CMHC before it was sanitized)


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                  It's simple math - be it for our housing bubble or the American National Debt   
        When it comes to our housing bubble, it's simple math.

        Any boom created by excess credit will always bust. And our housing boom was created by excess credit.  CMHC has gone from $100 Billion in 2006 to $600 Billion today.

        Canadians are in debt to an extent never before seen in Canadian history.Much of this debt is invested in home ownership.

        In 1980 the ratio of household debt to personal disposable income was 66%; that ratio is now in excess of 164%.

        It doesn't require a sage to foresee where we are headed.


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                  How bad could it be?   

        he numbers are becoming increasingly clear; the bloom is off of the Canadian real estate bubble and boom.

        Among a variety of indicators, sales of condos in the second quarter of this year in Toronto have fallen by half and a record number of units were left unsold. In Vancouver July residential sales were the lowest for any July in ten years and fell 11.2% from the month of June.

        While prices are not dropping yet, the fact that commentators from the business and real estate communities themselves believe a 15% downward adjustment in prices is imminent means that we can likely expect a greater decrease. These are, after all, people whose best interests are served by minimizing any potential housing market panic.

        The increasingly interventionist actions being taken by the Conservative government and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to dampen the market, counter-intuitively if one does not really understand what is behind the real estate market boom of the past few years in the first place, also shows that the powers that be are worried. Very worried.

        And they are worried for good reason. It was the government itself that facilitated the creation of the overheated market and it is the government that is ultimately on the hook for the tab should an American style meltdown occur. Which means that, in the end, you are on the hook.

        Many of us have, from grade school on, been inculcated with the notion that we live in a "free market" society where prices reflect the interplays between supply and demand that fluctuate due to the rational economic decisions of buyers and sellers. For those who truly enjoy simplistic fantasies our own publicly owned broadcaster, the CBC, has programs with imbecilic "commentators" like Kevin O'Leary or that are cheerleaders for a world that exists only in the demented dreams of libertarians, such as the hilariously summer school economic "thinking" that the radio show "The Invisible Hand" soothes those who might doubt neo-conservative ideas with. Both on, ironically, a "tax-payer" funded network.

        But the actual economy is much more of a planned Pyramid Scheme where the greater a company or sector's economic clout and the higher up they are in the pyramid in terms of importance to the fundamental soundness of the country's economy in the eyes of the government, the less they face the vagaries of actual market forces. The nearer to the pinnacle, the more the government intervenes, directly and indirectly. This has been true for decades, but was made most obvious during the 2008-2009 bailouts.

        In the case of housing, Canadian society has raised the concept of personal home ownership to near fetishistic levels. It is part of the "Canadian Dream" that you will own your own little plot of land (or sky, in the case of condos). It is a logical extension of what originally brought many to the so-called "New World" in the first place a hundred or more years ago; only now the land is far from free for those who wish to settle it. A staggering number of citizens buy into the notion that owning a home represents some kind of freedom, despite the reality that "their" home is actually usually owned, for at least the first twenty-five years, by whoever provided them with a mortgage. Missing a few mortgage payments will make this abundantly clear.

        Given the centrality that personal home ownership holds to the sense of self-actualization of much of the electorate, it is hardly surprising that, especially if it felt that the economy might be stalling, a government might chose to make sure that the "free market" worked in such a way that it would continue to facilitate this dream as a highly dangerous form of "stimulus".

        And this is precisely what the Canadian government did in the period after 2008.

        Under the auspices of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) the Canadian government has insured the mortgages that Canada's banks have provided to Canadians to the tune of a projected $558 billion this year. This figure, one might note, represents over one-third of Canada's total GDP! This is up dramatically since 2007-2008, directly due to the fact that the government raised the limit on mortgages that CMHC could insure from $450 billion to $600 billion and loosened the rules on what types of mortgage would qualify.

        Insured means exactly what you think it does. In the event that Canadians begin to default on their mortgages, and in the event that this default level were to reach the point where the CMHC could no longer cover defaults, the government of Canada, and, therefore, you will be on the hook for the bank's "losses". As Chris Horlacher of the free market, right-wing think-tank, the Ludwig-von-Mises Instistute of Canada shows, the inability of the CMHC to cover defaults in the event of a real bubble burst is highly likely. This is due to the fact that the CMHC's "assets" are largely identical to what it is insuring, namely mortgages! "In the event of a severe downturn in the mortgage market, claims will start pouring in. The CMHC (nor any kind of insurance company) never possesses enough cash to cover all of these potential liabilities, they invest it. The problem here is that the CMHC has bought the very same assets they are insuring against. If the mortgage market collapses, so too will the value of the assets of the CMHC, making them extraordinarily difficult to liquidate in order to raise the cash necessary to pay out their claimants. It’s a catch-22 that spells potential disaster and deeply impairs their ability to actually insure against this particular type of credit risk."

        Given this, Horlacher goes on to conclude that "The CMHC remains highly susceptible to even a slight increase in the rate of mortgage defaults, or a rise in interest rates. With the federal government, and ultimately the Canadian taxpayer, on the hook for all of the CMHC’s liabilities we could soon find ourselves in an extremely difficult financial position."

        In other words, to facilitate the accessibility of easy credit the federal government took the risk to the banks out of potentially risky mortgages and laid them at our doorsteps.

        In addition, for several years, in response to the economic crisis that began in 2008, the government allowed the CMHC to insure mortgages with amortization periods above 25 years, with lower down-payment requirements and with unsustainable, artificially low interest rates courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

        This had a direct and intended consequence. It allowed the banks to offer mortgages to people who, in reality, could not really afford to enter the market and this, in turn, allowed those people to, in fact, enter the market. The reality of how this plays out can be seen from the fact that housing prices have risen far more rapidly than income. (These figures also lay to the rest the myth that the Canadian housing market is only experiencing a bubble in two of its major centres. The bubble is far more widespread than that.)

        Taking these steps did stimulate growth in the construction industry and helped to dig the banks out of their recently uncovered, and previously denied, liquidity crisis. But it also had the effect of creating what amounts to artificial "demand" for houses and condos in many urban markets, most notably, but far from exclusively, in Vancouver and Toronto. This, in turn, drove prices up in dramatic ways, leading the banks to extend riskier credit to citizens desperate to get in on the action who, in turn were encouraged by the government created environment to buy properties that, by any objective standards, are out of their price range.

        The CMHC, an organization that was originally formed, in part, to help to put home ownership within the reach of the average Canadian has recently done so by placing them into dangerous debt situations in an artificially created price bubble where even relatively minor downturns in the economy or drops in housing prices can create an economic disturbance whose ripple effects could lead to economic consequences akin to what is happening in Spain.

        The basic facts of this situation have been acknowledged by Flaherty himself who has clearly and repeatedly stated that household debt in Canada has reached levels that threaten economic stability. He has made these cautionary comments in ways that make it seem that he is warning citizens for their own benefit and against their own behaviour.

        But there is more to it than that.

        The real worry, enough to keep finance ministers awake at night and to get them to try to manage the burst of a bubble, is what will occur should the markets in Toronto, Vancouver and elsewhere experience a rapid downward market adjustment in both prices and demand, especially if people who bought residential units for speculative purposes (and there are more of these than is commonly understood) or at the height of their value suddenly find themselves holding on to mortgages that face higher interest rates down the road and making payments on properties whose values have declined by 15-20% or more (should a runaway effect occur). Given that, in many cases, these people may actually have far less equity invested in their properties than one might suppose, there is a point where default makes a lot more "rational" economic sense then the decision to buy in the first place did.

        The worry of financial analysts, and our finance minister no doubt, is compounded, as Finn Poschmann a vice-president at the C.D. Howe Institute noted, by the fact that "Since 2007, Canadian banks have increasingly come to the covered bond market with bonds backed, in whole or in part, by mortgages indivi