Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reminiscent of of The Continental Army, the rag tag Libyan military won their revolution.

13 August - 20 October, 2011

Amani, Tripoli resident

After months (click here) of little progress, a major offensive by the rebels saw them push out from the west towards the towns of the coastal plain, breaking the deadlock. They took control of a series of strategic towns before capturing Tripoli....

The Libyans were not centralized in their military and bearly centralized in their government. As months rolled by the militias were considered the best alternative to a central military, which before now were all Gaddafi Loyalists. Those militates would hold power over communities and build their power base. They became the answer to their communities security, but, they were without rules and simply making their own as time transitioned.

The central government was friendly to The West and grateful for the work it had done to end the dangers to the people of Libya. The West was grateful for the revolution, although few will admit it, because it gave The West the opportunity to end the large scale forces still remaining in Libya. The Libyan Revolutionary War would last weeks and not years, would be fought in a desert and not the changing seasons of the northern hemisphere and would provide the removal of any threat to the Mediterranean and Europe from Libya ever again. Or. At least we hope, ever again.

By David Kirkpatrick
December 28, 2013
Benghazi, Libya

BOYISH-LOOKING AMERICAN DIPLOMAT (click here) was meeting for the first time with the Islamist leaders of eastern Libya’s most formidable militias.
It was Sept. 9, 2012. Gathered on folding chairs in a banquet hall by the Mediterranean, the Libyans warned of rising threats against Americans from extremists in Benghazi. One militia leader, with a long beard and mismatched military fatigues, mentioned time in exile in Afghanistan. An American guard discreetly touched his gun.
“Since Benghazi isn’t safe, it is better for you to leave now,” Mohamed al-Gharabi, the leader of the Rafallah al-Sehati Brigade, later recalled telling the Americans. “I specifically told the Americans myself that we hoped that they would leave Benghazi as soon as possible.”
Yet as the militiamen snacked on Twinkie-style cakes with their American guests, they also gushed about their gratitude for President Obama’s support in their uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. They emphasized that they wanted to build a partnership with the United States, especially in the form of more investment. They specifically asked for Benghazi outlets of McDonald’s and KFC....
...The Benghazi-based C.I.A. team had briefed Mr. McFarland and Mr. Stevens as recently as the day before the attack. But the American intelligence efforts in Libya concentrated on the agendas of the biggest militia leaders and the handful of Libyans with suspected ties to Al Qaeda, several officials who received the briefings said. Like virtually all briefings over that period, the one that day made no mention of Mr. Abu Khattala, Ansar al-Shariah or the video ridiculing Islam, even though Egyptian satellite television networks popular in Benghazi were already spewing outrage against it.
Members of the local militia groups that the Americans called on for help proved unreliable, even hostile. The fixation on Al Qaeda might have distracted experts from more imminent threats. Those now look like intelligence failures.
More broadly, Mr. Stevens, like his bosses in Washington, believed that the United States could turn a critical mass of the fighters it helped oust Colonel Qaddafi into reliable friends. He died trying....
The attacks in Benghazi were not conducted by al Qaeda. It is my opinion the militias are so intent on protecting their own territory, al Qaeda would have been a threat and not a welcome friend. The Libyans want to maintain control. They trust no one. Their central government struggles to achieve trust. But, to believe al Qaeda is present in a stranglehold of the country is lacking in the understanding how fearful the people of Libya were of Gaddafi. 
The New York Times and the twin article in The Boston Globe is a relief to the fact some still want the real truth to be known. The fact of the matter is, Libya was dangerous and obtaining intelligence very difficult. The changing landscape of militias made it impossible to predict the outcomes to safety. A single bullet achieving the death of a militia leader changed the entire landscape of who held power anywhere in Libya.
I appreciate this effort. It is remarkably a work of loyalty to this country and a willingness to have it based on solid ground rather than propaganda. 
I can't help but wonder if it is a further solace to the families of the people we lost that day.
Thank you and good night.

All this talk about the power of local economies is baloney, isn't it? You tell me. The function of government is not to support Wall Street, but, provide governance that benefits the populous.

Iowa State report sheds light on local food systems  (click here)

December 27, 2013 - 9:32pm

By Gavin Aronsen
Staff Writer

Locally produced foods may have more of an impact on Iowa’s economy than previously realized, but more can be done to support farmers and expand access to the foods as their popularity increases, according to a report released last month by Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture....

...“We know that it’s a small snapshot, but the limitations are also its strength,” said Corry Bregendahl, an assistant scientist at the Leopold Center, who coauthored the report.

The report estimated there are more than 22,000 such markets in the state. They could potentially generate upward of $2 billion in annual local food purchases, although 43 percent of 35 markets responding to the surveys said local foods currently made up no more than 5 percent of their budgets.

Still, the 103 farmers included in the Leopold Center data reported $10.5 million of sales, both direct and to intermediate and institutional markets, in 2012.

The most recent available data from the United State Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture, from 2007, reported only direct sales of $16.5 million from 3,000 Iowa farmers....

I am impressed there is 5 percent of the income from local interests. Iowa produces many products marketed through 'commodity' markets, so there would be only a small amount of the market to local interests. 

The challenge is for the "Organic Food Market" to build national and possibly internatioal networks that provide products. Basically, it is building a product market in parallel to what currently exists. The products are the same, but, the sources are different. No GMO market can grow and probably rapidly with networking. Of course, transportation adds cost because of fuel and it also adds carbon to the products food print. Such concerns could spawn 'hubs' to transportation. 

In the past, wholesale farmer markets is where products came for auction to local interests. The wholesale market then was the hub where local retailers would gather to purchase and transport.

The wholesale markets I am thinking of were primarily seasonal catering to produce. Grains were handled through the local elevators, which is the global prices. Pork, beef, chicken, etc. is usually large commodity markets, but, the potential for local butchers to purchase at a farmer's wholesale market is more than a viable opportunity. The intricacies of livestock handling can be a bit of an obstacle because of USDA inspections. But, if the private, local markets were significant enough to dictate the concern of the government in the volume handled to consumers, the inspections to them would take priority.

The NO GMO Market is no joke and growing. It is time to take it seriously. While the industry is identifying their share of the local market accounts for 5% of their product sales, that doesn't mean only five percent of the population purchase them.

Iowa Economy (click here)

In terms of revenue generated, Iowa's top five agricultural products are corn for grain, hogs, soybeans, cattle and calves, and dairy products....

From the same article above:

...Larger markets have recognized the increased focus on local foods, too.

“Now that people are really attuned to it, we are devoting more time and more resources to telling the story of our food products and where they come from,” said Ruth Comer, a Hy-Vee spokeswoman.

Hy-Vee has 235 grocery stores in Iowa and seven other Midwestern states. It boasts annual sales of about $8 billion from all its products, although Comer said she didn’t have data on exactly how much of that comes from local foods.

“Whenever we can source products here in the Midwest, we try to do that, because customers like it, it helps our local economies, which is good for our business, and it reduces transportation expenses and delivery times,” Comer said. “It’s a win for everybody.”...

Wants and needs. That is the very basic beginnings of markets. It is completely doable if the larger marketers are seeking to maintain their customers by measuring themselves against the success of the growing NO GMO markets. The larger markets would not bother if the impact was little to none of these new highly sought after products.

This past Thanksgiving, our local supplier could not produce enough turkeys to satisfy the 'last minute purchaser.' So, while the farmer manages the supply to demand closely, this year it would have paid them to grow at least 5% to 10% more turkeys in anticipation of the 'last minute' purchaser. In taking less risk and more profit it means sustaining the operation, but, also inhibits it as well. It a very fine balance. So much can go wrong with agricultural commodities, but, for these farmers their markets are guaranteed and they set their price for their products, not global commodity prices. These operations are farm for profit and it works for everyone.

I might add, the stores that sell NO GMO products weren't in existence 15 years ago and now they can't stock their shelves with enough merchandise for their consumers. They employee many people where there was no need for them before. It is all working and it is a good thing.

When governance caters to Wall Street rather than a good economy and 'the citizen.'

When Wall Street destroys it's consumer base by impoverishing 'the peasants' even further to soak up profits instead of investment in it's future, it also collapses the tax base of the government at all levels. The most dramatic example of the tax base collapse was in the investment Americans made and their cities made in the value of housing, namely Property Tax that supports schools and local services.

When the housing market collapsed, it was more than Americans that lost their investment in their own homes, it was the local and county governments that lost their income. What then occurred was more and more contraction of government employees and services. Cities and towns are still recuperating from 2007 and 2008. 

For the life of me I don't understand why any government provides tax incentives for failing businesses. It only creates failure in the government. If a company is marginally struggling then it is a benefit for the local economy, but, if there is major failure, the government should simply let it happen. Best example of that is Dell computers and North Carolina. It was a complete failure. Why even go there? Why allow loss of revenue to the treasury? It was more hope than actual product base. "Build it and they will come."

The future of Wall Street is anti-trust and collapse. The best example of that is Goldman Sachs and Pacific Health Systems.

The year was 2003.

Pacific Health Systems, Inc. (click here) announced today that Howard G. Phanstiel, president and chief executive officer, is scheduled to make a presentation at the Goldman Sachs Global Healthcare Conference at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel on Tuesday, June 10, 2003....

As first glance it looked as though Goldman had a real find and would increase the competition in the health care industry. Competition is good, it brings down prices and increases quality. At least that is what is suppose to happen with capitalism. Economic pressures bring about excellence.

Pacific Health Systems, Inc. was founded in 1983. It was a very unique and smart company. Besides providing an insurance base, it also invested in the industry. It had an income from premiums, but, also from sales of products within the industry. One complimented the other. What could go wrong? By every estimation this company would chug along nicely providing a good product to consumers while returning modest profits to stockholders.

Pacificare Health Systems, Inc. (click here) provides managed care and other health insurance products to employer groups, individuals, and Medicare beneficiaries in the United States and Guam. Its products include health insurance; health benefits administration; and indemnity insurance products, such as Medicare Supplement products offered through health maintenance organizations (HMO) and preferred provider organizations. The company also offers various specialty managed care products and services as a supplement to its basic commercial and senior medical plans or as stand-alone products.... 

Pacific Health Systems, Inc. marketed their insurances under two names, PacifiCare and SecureHorizons. As a matter of fact those names are still marketed. SecureHorizons was even marketed by AARP. Below is an example of the insurance over the years and some of the complaints dating back to 2010.

February 7th
AARP Scure Horizons - Insured (click here)
Secure Horizons denied my husband's claim because his doctor was not listed in their records. The Doctor's name is listed on my husband's Secure Horizon card as the Primary Care Physician. Secure HOrizon sent him this card more than a year ago. In order for us to get assistance in this matter we have to go through an appeals process. Just because they don't keep accurate or...

Why would Goldman Sachs be interested in such an investment in 2003?

Medicare Part D was passed by the US Congress in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and would go into effect in 2006. But, Goldman couldn't make it to 2006 with it's investment. Instead, Goldman went for a quick profit rather than long term investment and the healthy practice of capitalism.

So, in 2003 Goldman Sachs said to their investors this is a great idea, invest in Pacific Health Systems, Inc. and indeed they did. But, instead of the investment creating a sustainable company, it was turned around for a relatively quick profit and sold in 2005.

Published: July 7, 2005
Correction Appended

UnitedHealth Group, (click here) the nation's second-largest health insurer, made a big push into the rapidly growing Medicare market yesterday by agreeing to buy PacifiCare Health Systems for $8.14 billion in cash and stock.
By adding PacifiCare's 3.3 million enrollees, UnitedHealth will have 25.7 million members. That would make it a bigger competitor to the leader in health insurance, WellPoint, which has 27.7 million members and was created by last year's $16.5 billion merger of WellPoint and Anthem....

United Health Care, Inc. has continued to market those names and people who originally purchased policies with Pacific Health Systems in 1983 thought they would continue to have the quality they were paying for, but, with United Health Care becoming a huge conglomerate things changed.

This is the future of Wall Street. It is reflected by the fact exists a 1%. More and more companies are being swallowed up by large conglomerates. As these Mega-Companies, such as United Health Care, increase their scope to bring in more profits and decrease competition they are reducing the number of employees in mergers and decreasing their payroll when mergers are a chronic threat to employment and employees 'take what they can get.'

This is not good governance. Anti-trust exists everywhere in Wall Street. Do I have to remind we are looking at Mega-Banks? When Mega-anything occurs government loses control over governance. We know that for a fact, we witnessed it in 2008 and we are still plagued with this reality as companies seek higher and higher profits on the backs of governments and employees. There is only one scenario that is going to end this draconian capitalism that destroys markets. They will either be split up through anti-trust suits as should occur or they will collapse and the world won't be surprised. 

Will Wall Street be bailed out again? 



Because the countries they rely on to bail them out won't have anything but debt and a country impoverished and where is the tax base to provide a bailout. This is NOT fantasy, this is reality. How did we get here? Because the governance of the past decades have pandered to the idea Wall Street must survive otherwise we don't have an economy or a political party for that matter. The Supreme Court after all increase the "Ante" in politics to be sure they sell out to Wall Street. 

Interesting word, 'ante.' It is used in poker as a fixed but arbitrary stake put into the pot by each player before the deal. "Ante Up." 

But, the Robert's Court has now demanded Wall Street to not only exist, but, dominate the politics, hence the economy of the USA. In doing so it destroyed a democracy and it's economy.

So, when the Right Wing screams about the national debt are they worried about the future of the country or the future of Wall Street when it needs it's next bailout?

Local economies, counties and states have to build their own economic base driven by interests that support a nation. So, when a state is faced with hostage taking as faced by Washington State, it needs to take a step back from the brink and examine what exactly is occurring and how far the blood sucking CEO will go today and in the future to secure his/her bonus. There are alternatives and unions need to have alternative answers for their members, including employee sponsored businesses that will promise to grow bigger and better than the employer they currently are negotiating. 

That brings me to the dilemma the unions are facing with the health care market and their need for assistance in resolving the matters. I think there is actually great opportunity for unions in this issue. 

Currently, the definition of Small Business by the SBA (include here) can include:

Manufacturing: Maximum number of employees may range from 500 to 1500, depending on the type of product manufactured;

Wholesaling: Maximum number of employees may range from 100 to 500 depending on the particular product being provided;

Services: Annual receipts may not exceed $2.5 to $21.5 million, depending on the particular service being provided;

Retailing: Annual receipts may not exceed $5.0 to $21.0 million, depending on the particular product being provided;

General and Heavy Construction: General construction annual receipts may not exceed $13.5 to $17 million, depending on the type of construction:

Special Trade Construction: Annual receipts may not exceed $7 million; and

Agriculture: Annual receipts may not exceed $0.5 to $9.0 million, depending on the agricultural product.

Why aren't the unions seeking to bring their employees of small business under one insurance umbrella? In other words if an employer is unreasonable in providing their own insurance, the union can enhance the options by bringing them into a large pool of it's own members. 

Unions need to seek input from the federal government in allowing small employers to place their employees into a common pool that will not only benefit the members, but, the employers as well. The employers will remain an attractive employer offering benefits much larger companies offer and still attracting employees they seek. Additionally, the insurance company(ies) will increase their client base and the ability to reduce premiums and costs.

This is a special need in our society, but, it exists. The federal government can assist solving this problem to stabilize the economy and continue valuable employee benefits being sure Americans have a good income and the benefits needed to sustain their wellness. There is a reason for the federal authority to act in solving this problem rather than simply writing waivers or throwing Americans to state pools.

It would seem as though someone through a party and the last song was "Stick it to 'em for profits."

Solidarity Rally - Jan. 2 at 4 p.m., Seattle Union Hall, 9135 15th Pl. S (click here)w

Where is the NLRB when you need them? This is exactly what the labor union complained of, the companies are escalating their profits to destroy unions. Wall Street is making profits on the backs of citizens and destroying their own consumer base.

The real message about 2008 and the Bush Bailout was the fact it pushed Wall Street over the top to destroy the economy of the USA and it wasn't just in housing. The exorbitant profits of Wall Street are obscene. They are unethical simply because it is creating a Third World in all nations and soaking up the income to what was normally the Middle Class.

It isn't just the airline industry. But, this example with Boeing and Delta is more than interesting. This is from the Huffington Post.

Updated: 11/18/2013 3:51 pm EST
Earlier this week, (click here) the legislature in Washington state agreed to give Boeing $8.7 billion in tax breaks through 2040 in an attempt to convince the company to locate production of a new jetliner fleet in the state. It's believed to be the largest state tax break for a company ever. But the huge concession still may not satisfy Boeing.
The company is now threatening to take production of the jetliner fleet elsewhere over a contract dispute with its machinist union. On Thursday, the union shot down a proposal from Boeing that would have replaced worker pensions with a contribution retirement savings plan and guaranteed raises of just 1 percent every other year, according to the Seattle Times. The New York Times reports that the proposed biannual 1 percent raise would have been in conjunction with some cost-of-living escalations....

I think Washington State expected some loyalty from Boeing, but, it just isn't enough. What Washington State should have done was to take the $8.7 billion and provided a reason for the union at Boeing to be competition that would rein in the arrogance of the company.

The talent at Boeing in Washington State is incredible. The problem with Boeing is the management. It is proven and real. But, the Boeing talent could begin their own company in a blink of an eye with some backing to take over the construction hanger.

As a matter of fact if the unions in Washington State were provided monies to develop a MADE IN AMERICA jet, they could bring it in EFFICIENTLY under the cost of any Boeing product. It would be an employee owned shop and the draconian management would be gone and efficiency and QUALITY would return.

The State governments where Wall Street dominates their economy have to begin to build a better economy. The future of Wall Street is a complete collapse of it's profitability. They are not paying their employees enough and skimming profits form those payrolls and Wall Street will collapse of it's own greed. Wall Street is destroying it's own consumer base and the state of the USA have to get out of the way of it's blood sucking strategies.

Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:52pm EDT
(Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N) reported (click here) a surprising 12 percent jump in quarterly profit and raised its full-year forecast on soaring commercial aircraft production and margins, sending its shares up as much as 6 percent to an all-time high....

...The strong third-quarter results from the commercial airplane business, which churned out more planes at higher profit margins in the quarter, compensated for weakness in the defense unit, where revenue rose just 3 percent, margins contracted and profit fell....

As a matter of fact, Washington State would have received it's $8.7 billion back if it had provided the opportunity for the union to create it's own employee owned company because all the defense contracts could go to the new company and not touch the profitability of the commercial airline industry.

Best of all worlds, while the USA brings their industries home and puts their economy back where it belongs.

By Dan Catchpole
"Here they're making record profits (click here) and doing millions in stock buybacks, and Boeing is crying poor house," said Scott Hamilton. "There's a real disconnect."

Who needs a management that makes poor decisions that compromise the company and endanger jobs?

Saturday, December 28, 2013 10:00 p.m

In the air and on the ground, Boeing flew through the headlines this year. (click here)

From burning batteries and grounded fleets of 787s to land deals, union votes and a shiny new jet that hasn't been built yet, Boeing weathered a public relations nightmare over its problem-riddled Dreamliner while at the same time played a chess game with several states in the high-stakes prize for the forthcoming 777X passenger jet....

Putting the Guilt on the Consumer. Another Wall Street defense for profits.

October 22, 2013

Delta Air Lines' quarterly profit (click here) soared into the billions, topping Wall Street expectations as more passengers flew amid a continued uptick in fares and a decline in fuel costs.

Delta's net income for the third quarter jumped 31% to $1.37 billion, the carrier announced Tuesday in an optimistic report that also said holiday bookings have been strong and that the company's revenue outlook appeared "solid" through the year's end.

Without one-time items — such accounting gains from the carrier's fuel hedges — Delta's profit would have been $1.2 billion, or $1.41 per share. That topped Wall Street expectations by 5 cents per share, according to analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Delta's strong results were helped by an increase in passengers and fares.

Delta's passenger traffic inched up by 2% for the quarter while the average fare paid by passengers on a per-mile basis jumped nearly 5%. Overall, total operating revenue rose 6% to $10.49 billion over the same period last year, an increase that was in line with analysts' projections.... 

Turning the tables to focus on consumers doesn't make Delta's error a matter of ethnics when the airline itself is unethical in their victimization of it's "passengers for profit." I don't mind that Delta raises it's prices, it has a right to do so, but, don't tout ethics in consumerism when the airline itself is unethical in their pricing.

"From about 10 a.m. to noon ET [Thursday], (click here) certain Delta fares on the airline's own website and other airfare booking sites were showing up incorrectly, offering some savvy bargain hunters incredible deals. A roundtrip flight between Cincinnati and Minneapolis for February was being sold for just $25.05 and a roundtrip between Cincinnati and Salt Lake City for $48.41. The correct price for both of those fares is more than $400."

It isn't known just how many folks snapped up the bargains, but Delta says it will honor the fares....

...Why would it be all right, ethically, to purchase tickets at prices that were so obviously wrong? Is it just because "you" weren't to blame and no human being was involved at the other end?...