Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The Federal Minimum Wage is not a bargaining point.

The climate crisis trumps any bargaining. There are many states that have already adopted a new minimum wage. The Federal Minimum Wage is important to move the entire nation forward, but, it is also a good political issue to leave at the ballot box.

The climate crisis and the minimum wage are unrelated and should stand on their own. I find it interesting though that the Republicans are willing to vote for the minimum wage in exchange for a vote on KXL. I thought the minimum wage was going to set the country into the next Great Recession.

Minimum wage by U.S. state and U.S. territory (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands), as of January 1, 2014. 

  States with minimum wage rates higher than the federal rate
  States and territories with minimum wage rates the same as the federal rate
  States with no state minimum wage law
  States and territories with minimum wage rates lower than the federal rate
  Territory with varied minimum wage rates lower than the federal rate

End the Fossil Fuel Subsidies

$2.4 Billion: subsidies to the Big Five producers debated and defeated in the Senate in 2011 and 2012 

The Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act, sponsored by Senator Menendez (D-NJ) was debated and defeated by the Senate for two years running, and would have eliminated $2.4 billion in annual tax deductions for the five major oil companies: BP, Exxon, Chevron, Shell and ConocoPhillips.

Although the move would have been an initial step, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. So called “independent” oil companies are hardly small businesses. Major integrated oil companies also include Occidental, Amerada Hess, Marathon, Murphy Oil and dozens of others. Together, these companies produced 53.5 percent of U.S. oil in 2009.

Does anyone know where Rob Ford is?

There are varied reports and some say he is missing.

Rob Ford left his home last Thursday and it was later learned he flew to Chicago. After maintaining for months that he is not an addict or an alcoholic, Toronto's mayor announced he would seek help for a "problem with alcohol." (Canadian Press) 

CBC News  
Posted: May 06, 2014 7:16 AM ET Last Updated: May 06, 2014 3:32 PM ET

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (click here) flew to Chicago last week, but subsequently "withdrew" his request to enter the United States and ended up leaving the country, according to the consul general of Canada in Chicago....

I hear Toronto is willing to take him back.

The law to limit speech is to inhibit the expression of free will of the Russian people.

Is Putin a virgin? I think one has to be a virgin to even speak Russian now, right?

He needs to be careful because politics and governing is a form of art and if he is found swearing while trying to bend a fry pan; it could get expensive.

"Excuse me, what did I hear you say?"

The Russian Artist Community is going to need a non-profit to facilitate all fines incurred. 

Perhaps there is a political leader of Russia birth with a command of the language that wants to Chair such a fund. 

President Putin doesn't appreciate real power. The power of the Veto of any President is an expression of power very few have on this Earth. It makes a clear statement about the direction and path of a nation and it's will when it elects a majority President to office, regardless of the politics and pressure of the minority. This was obviously a very big mistake by the Duma and President Putin.

The beauty of language is communication. Society bests understands itself when a full range of expression is understood. Art is precious in that it allows free thought of passive expression. Passive expression is extremely important to any society.  

Once again the Communists have it wrong. They believe they have to take on the entire world, especially The West, in order for Russia to be Russia. That is not correct.

If ever the USA were to fall under the power of a regime as terrible as Bush/Cheney or worse, Russia would need to be a partner to every other nation on Earth. Global leadership at that point would fall to that of Russia and China. Every other nation would be 'at risk.' It would be a huge paradigm shift, but, it would occur. The USA would be the enemy to all peoples. 

"Communism of Control" was never the answer. Oppression was never the answer. Benevolence has always been the answer. The power of benevolence cannot be understated. Quiet power. Steadfast power. 

I am sorry the Communists have it so wrong. There are so many other pursuits to chase to benefit all of mankind. In the year 2014 we are behind our own developments as a world community. The investment into bigger and better weapons to kill more and more people is mostly behind us except for the dead enders in the USA.

The future is uncertain, but, human nature is not.

The citizens of Crimea were intimidated by potential of death.


The website(click here) of the “President of Russia’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights” posted a blog that was quickly taken down as if it were toxic radioactive waste. According to the Council’s report about the March referendum to annex Crimea, the turnout was a maximum 30%. And of these, only half voted for annexation – meaning only 15 percent of Crimean citizens voted for annexation.

The fate of Crimea, therefore, was decided by the 15 percent of Crimeans, who voted in favor of unification with Russia (under the watchful eye of Kalashnikov-toting soldiers)....

The people were faced with ridiculous outcomes. Vote for the annexation and face the family and hardship with job losses or worse. Vote against the annexation and face the potential of violence on one's life. Why vote at all?

Official Kremlin results: 97% for annexation, turnout 83 percent, and percent of Crimeans voting in favor 82%.

President’s Human Rights Council results: 50% for annexation, turnout 30%, percent of Crimeans voting in favor 15%.

They would have to be fools to vote in that election.

It begins. Where is the book burning?

By Olivia Becker

Russian entertainers, (click here) filmmakers, and writers are going to have to find more polite ways of expressing themselves, thanks to a new law reportedly signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The bill, which Russian state news agency ITAR-Tass reports was signed into law Monday, outlaws cursing in public performances — which includes films, music, books, and plays.

If busted for swearing, individuals can face a fine up to $70, according to ITAR-Tass. And it’s worse for public officials, who will have to shell out $140 for every f-bomb or other cuss. Organizations or companies will pay $1,396 per swear, and face a suspension for repeated offenses.

The new law “bans the use of obscene language when ensuring the rights of Russian citizens to the use of the state language, and protecting and developing language culture,” according to a statement by the Russian government....

The Russian language is perfect, pure and better than a virgin. Russia will protect it whenever an imperfection exists.

A business can't advertise their way out of severe weather events.

5/06/2014 @ 8:39AM
Trefis Team

Dunkin’ Brands (click here) reported mixed results in the first fiscal quarter of 2014, as comparable store sales growth in the U.S. declined to 1.2 % compared to the 1.7% achieved during the same period last year. This was mainly due to the adverse weather conditions in North America. The decline in comparable store sales was more than offset by a significantly higher 6.2% increase in total revenues to $172 million, due to the increased sales of ice cream products as well as increased royalty income. Additionally, net income dropped 3.5% to $23 million, primarily due to a $13.7 million loss on debt extinguishment and refinancing transactions, as well as an increase in income tax expenses....

Shame on China. It should be celebrating along with it's people.

I take it those celebrating Tienanmen Square 25th anniversary will be flying the Chinese flag, right? What is the problem? There have been many leaders that have come through the government's Presidency and otherwise in the past 25 years. There is a problem to realize the Chinese like to express themselves? I think the episode in Tienanmen has been classified wrongly by the Chinese government. The tank stopped. Why? 

Give me a break. There was massive amounts of compassion shown by the Chinese government regarding the loss of the Malaysian jet. I don't think many other countries would have participated so closely with the families. China has come eons since the days of Tienanmen.

The Chinese people are evil and the tank driver was not? There was communication that day in Tienanmen Square. The communication was cultural. It told the world being a Chinese citizen was powerful to it's military. The Chinese government needs to think through this crack down. Seriously. China has to realize the incredible impact Tienanmen made on the positive image of the Chinese people. The first instinct by the tank driver was to protect a Chinese man. That translated an understanding of the Chinese the world has never witnessed before. It is huge and it isn't going away. 

Should the government ever be an enemy to it's people?

Prominent rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (bottom right) has been under detention since Sunday after attending a June 4, 1989 remembrance seminar in Beijing. Photo: Supplied

May 6, 2014 - 6:16PM

Beijing – Internationally-renowned Chinese rights (click here) lawyer Pu Zhiqiang has been detained as part of a widening crackdown aimed at intimidating activists in the lead up to the sensitive 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre next month.
Mr Pu, a student leader during the 1989 protests who has become a leading voice in the push for rule of law and freedom of expression in China, was taken from his home late on Sunday. Police then raided his house on Monday afternoon, confiscating his mobile phone, computer and some books. Lawyers and friends close to Mr Pu said he has been told he was being detained for ''creating a disturbance''.
Mr Pu’s detention came less than two days after he participated in a small seminar in Beijing with about 20 other Chinese scholars, lawyers and family members of victims, and which discussed the impact of the June 4, 1989 pro-democracy demonstrationsin which hundreds were killed.
Prominent activists and rights lawyers are routinely monitored in China, and their movement is often restricted during sensitive periods. Li Weidong, a political analyst, said the mood this year was ''much more sensitive, much more frenzied'' compared to previous years. Gao Yu, a prominent journalist who has been jailed twice in connection to the Tiananmen Square protests, has been missing since April 24....

This is Anti-American, but, what else is new about the petroleum industry.

A fracking site owned by Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation in South Montrose, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images 

Cabot Oil thinks it actually has a right to inhibit freedom of speech?

Wednesday 29 January 2014 08.44 EST

Vera Scroggins, (click here) an outspoken opponent of fracking, is legally barred from the new county hospital. Also off-limits, unless Scroggins wants to risk fines and arrest, are the Chinese restaurant where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets and drug stores where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire terrier, bowling alley, recycling centre, golf club, and lake shore.

In total, 312.5 sq miles are no-go areas for Scroggins under a sweeping court order granted by a local judge that bars her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest drillers in the Pennsylvania natural gas rush, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation....

..."They might as well have put an ankle bracelet on me with a GPS on it and be able to track me wherever I go," Scroggins said. "I feel like I am some kind of a prisoner, that my rights have been curtailed, have been restricted."

In court filings, Cabot said it holds leases on 200,000 acres of land, equivalent to 312.5 sq miles. That amounts to nearly 40% of the largely rural county in north-eastern Pennsylvania where Scroggins lives and where Cabot does most of its drilling.
The temporary injunction granted on 21 October does not require Cabot to identify or map the lands where it holds drilling leases, putting Scroggins in the bizarre position of having to figure out for herself which areas were off-limits.
Cabot later offered to limit the scope of its exclusion order in court filings seeking to make the injunction permanent. The next hearing on that injunction is scheduled for 24 March.
Scroggins, who now has a lawyer, is fighting to overturn the injunction....

The KXL would cause a greater problem for the global economy. It would begin to crash markets and continue to damage world economies.

While labor leaders weigh the pros and cons of building KXL, they should keep in mind that the pipeline is as much a threat to our economy as it is to our planet. After a year of extreme weather — at an extreme cost to the economy — this age old jobs vs. environment debate is emerging as a false choice. Hurricanes, floods, and droughts are already having a devastating effect on American jobs, and that is nothing compared to what will happen if we throw open the spigot to the tar sands from Canada, considered the dirtiest oil in the world.

There is no good balance sheet for the KXL, either environmentally or fiscally.

The KXL is another dolt project. The price of oil collapse alone would assault the Saudi Arabian economy. 

Green energy is cleaner and safer when it comes to work. There aren't physical maladies to the Green Industry that is found in the petroleum industry. There are no explosions and deaths. People actually live to collect their pensions. 

There are no earthquakes or deadly water supplies. The jobs are sustainable. The Green Energy jobs are not temporary. It is a growing market.

The Green Energy Revolution is bringing back local economies.

May 7, 2009 at 3:32 pm
Christina Rogers 
The Detroit News

Manistee --Not long ago, (click here) MasTech Manufacturing's (click here) future looked bleak.
The latest auto industry downturn had nearly halted production on the factory floor. The plant, which made high-tech machinery for car and truck plants, was limping by with only five workers. And parts orders were drying up.
But today, the cavernous, two-story factory is ramping up production of another sort, churning out wind turbines to meet a fast-growing demand for this renewable power source. MasTech has restored its workforce to more than 40 employees -- hiring many former auto workers -- with plans to grow as the firm seeks to meet a 2,500-unit back order.
"If we didn't have these wind turbines," said John Holcomb, the plant's manager, "we wouldn't be here talking today. The doors would be closed."

The small factory in Manistee, a former industrial stronghold on the shores of Lake Michigan that once served as a hub for salt mining and lumber mills, is helping usher in a new, greener era for Michigan manufacturing, one state officials hope will transform the Great Lakes State into a hub for milling parts for the nation's growing number of wind farms....

2. The same fossil fuel interests pushing the Keystone pipeline have been cutting, not creating, jobs: Despite generating $546 billion in profits between 2005 and 2010, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and BP reduced their U.S. workforce by 11,200 employees over that period. In 2010 alone, the top five oil companies slashed their global workforce by 4,400 employees — the same year executives paid themselves nearly $220 million.

3. Unemployment will rise: According to Mark Zandi, the Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics: “Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the job market in November, slicing an estimated 86,000 jobs from payrolls.” In the wake of Hurricane Irene, the number of workers filing unemployment claims in Vermont went from 731 before Irene to 1,331 two weeks afterwards. Hurricane Katrina wiped out 129,000 jobs in the New Orleans region — nearly 20 percent. For the U.S. economy as a whole, 2011 cost US taxpayers $52 billion. 

4. Poor and working people will be disproportionately affected: KXL and projects like it result in disproportionately negative impact on already struggling working families. According to a recent report by the Center for American Progress called “Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower-Income Americans, lower-and middle income households are disproportionately affected by the most expensive extreme weather events. Sixteen states were afflicted by five or more extreme weather events in 2011-12. Households in disaster-declared counties in these states earn $48,137, or seven percent below the U.S. median income....

...Research by the Solar Foundation shows a 13 percent growth in high-skilled solar jobs spanning installations, sales, marketing, manufacturing and software development — bringing total direct jobs to 119,000 in the sector. And according to the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, investment in a green infrastructure program would create nearly four times as many jobs as an equal investment in oil and gas.

Advocating for KXL is the same as advocating fiscal, environmental and citizen death. The reasons to refuse to build this disaster far outweighs any other. It is stupid project. It is a project of "Greed, not Need."

The unions are wrong about this. They need to expand their interests into the Green Energy Industry rather than holding on to old energy paradigms. Unions are successful in Michigan. They need to talk to the folks at MasTech Manufacturing. The unions need to promote the new technologies. They need to be a friend as well as a support.

A study by Synapse Energy Economics developed a Transition Scenario for the electric power industry based on reducing energy consumption, phasing out high-emission power plants, and building new, lower-emission energy facilities. The study estimated the number of “job years” — one new worker employed for one year — that would be created by the Transition Scenario over a decade:

  • 444,000 job-years for construction workers, equivalent to 44,400 construction workers working full time for the entire decade.
  • 90,000 job-years for operations and maintenance workers, equivalent to about 9,000 full time workers employed over the decade.
  • 3.1 million indirect jobs for people designing, manufacturing, and delivering materials and jobs in local economies around the country induced by spending by workers hired in the Transition Scenario.
Organized labor is right to demand that public policy pay attention to our desperate need for jobs. But the Keystone XL pipeline will only make our jobs crisis worse by making our climate crisis worse. Plus, there are lots of pipelines that need fixing. Construction workers can be put to work rebuilding our crumbling natural gas transmission pipeline system — this will create good union jobs and cut carbon emissions. And these same workers can rebuild our crumbling water infrastructure. If labor is going to fight for jobs, let’s fight for jobs that build the future we want for ourselves and our children, not ones that will destroy that future.

Penson Funds!

Exactly. And this is happening in Europe as well. These investment banks like Goldman Sachs have sterling reputations and all they want is more capital to drizzle it all over 'ideas' of making a greater fortune. But, the fortune they have in mind is not that of the pension fund, it is the lining of their own pockets.

ie: "London Whale"

JP Morgan Chase for as solid a bank as it is expects everyone to accept the fact they had this huge loss and 'they cover it' so it's time to move on. That was a lot of money. It wasn't simply the stockholders that lost a great deal of money.

I remember a House hearing on banking finance and the run away train it had become and the Republicans fawned all over Jamie Dimon. A question came up about the banks future plans and Dimon stated they were moving their main office to London. Some of the members on the committee were obviously surprised and others wanted to know why and the reasons Dimon gave were primarily aesthetic. I am quite sure Dimon was looking to be a part of LIBOR. In my opinion, that would be a stabilizing effect simply because Dimon has been pragmatic enough to build the only bank that actually survived the 2008 global economic collapse. To some extent LIBOR is a worry to him and he wants to get involved 'enough' to protect his assets. The thing is if Morgan was the only well managed bank in the world then what is everyone else about? And even with Dimon's steady hand on the bank, the London Whale still occurred. 

By David Sirota
On May 5, 2014

When you think of the term “public pension fund,” (click here) you probably imagine hyper-cautious investment strategies kept in check by no-nonsense fiduciary laws.
But you probably shouldn’t.
An increasing number of those pension funds are being stealthily diverted into high-fee, high-risk “alternative investments” that deliver spectacular rewards for the Wall Street firms paid to manage them – but not such great returns for pensioners and taxpayers....

Those that manage pension funds have fewer choices that are trustworthy. The example of Morgan and the 2008 banking failure proves there are dearly few investment banks/firms trustworthy enough. So where are pension managers suppose to turn as the theory is 'diversity is safer.' Who is to say that Dimon won't really screw up and next time the London Whale will be the LIBOR Black Hole?

I guess the financial markets today are more like a cartel than an investment. There are fewer and fewer diverse interests in the world. I sincerely believe that is by design. So far the USA Dollar is still the safest investment and it's treasury bonds, but, the winds can change. They rarely do, but, there is the potential. China would love to see the US Currency disappear as the global bench mark. There are plenty in the financial markets that would like that too.

I always come back to 'local economies' and 'local investment.' It is where the growth is and isn't that what pension fund managers are looking for. They are managers. They ought to be doing their job and not handing over their funds to huge banks that have treated the American Dream as a toy. It takes 40 hours a week and getting out from behind the desk to 'walk the territory' and find out where there is potential and where potential is failing. That is what pension managers should be doing, but, they aren't. The best example of an excellent public pension is still New York City. 

Besides Dimon, Spitzer is still the best sheriff the public has to date. Of course no one will give him traction again because he has no problem taking care of the 'Little Guy.' 

He recently divorced and his wife's settlement was generous. He probably would continue to accept any opportunity to help and/or even take care of pension funds as an independent adviser. The public managers would find better success if they had a skeptic to their portfolios rather than simply a cheerleader.

Elliot Spitzer is very correct actually. Taking care of the Little Guy is where growth happens. Now as a huge financial manager viewing growth the Little Guy is so microscopic the cascade of events leading to catastrophe isn't even within their purview. They are about investors and their own interests. Ego. Where do you want your investment manager's ego? Fighting the progress, through government strings, of industries like "Tesla Motors" or do you want Tesla to actually grow and increase it's market to bring Upper Middle Class on board? There has to be a vision for growth otherwise it is dependent on wars, the petroleum industry and Dick Cheney. 

Get for real. At least Elliot Spitzer had the best focus. Protect the Little Guy and the rest mostly takes care of itself. Sort of. 

The entire global market is dependent on the marketing to the American Little Guy. There is no investment abroad that has lifted China or India out of poverty. Cheap wages and the Chinese and Indians are lucky to have it. The investment idiots have over 2 billion Little Guys in China and India and what do they do? They pay them less than poverty wages and focus on growth in the USA as population increase. Talk about stupid. That is not a dynamic market. Even Nixon didn't expect USA companies to outsource jobs to realize profits. That came from dolt CEOs. The idea behind the relationship with China was to give them a leg up to start their own growth. That didn't happen. The CEO dolts simply wanted their ego driven bonuses without caring about the implosion of the USA markets at the cost of good paying jobs. 

Now, China realizes it needs a Middle Class. China has ambitions and it cannot rely on American markets to fill those ambitions. China finally 'got it.' But, it didn't come until it realized how important growth was within it's own borders to insure it's future and bring quality of life to citizens. But, it takes time to grow a billion people into a sustainable economy with sovereign growth as it's goal. 

China still is addressing 'product quality' and that is a huge issue because the burgeoning Middle Class rather devote their entire income to purchasing safe baby formula and spend their money on imports than have a good quality domestic product. Until there are high quality Chinese products for the Chinese themselves the Middle Class growth will falter. China has a lot to do before they are exploding in economic growth, but, it will happen. In the meantime, the financial markets are 'on the hunt' for any and all big wads of money no matter where they can find it and they are still devouring companies rather than repairing them. That is growth? In what definition? For whom is that growth?

I am telling you these bozos are dolts. I have to wonder what the real standards at Harvard are. If Benazir Bhutto hadn't come out of Harvard Law, I'd have no faith in them at all. If the truth be known, Benazir Bhutto obtained her academic focus from Radcliffe. After Radcliffe, Harvard Law was a walk in the park. I hate it that she is dead. You talk about waste. She was great. Her first thoughts in her final political campaign were for the people of the Tribal Areas. She loved them. She knew they were oppressed and control by very evil people. But, she didn't long for wealth, she longer for peace.