Saturday, July 7, 2012

France's one off tax on oil companies damages its struggling refining industry

Once again France showing why its France.

France confirmed this week it would impose the tax on the oil sector to raise some 550 million euros, helping depleted government coffers but hurting its struggling refining industry.

"What is bothering us really is that the refining sector, which will be hit by these taxes if we target crude oil stocks, is a loss-making sector, and it's always a nuisance when you overtax a sector which is not doing well in the first place," de Margerie told reporters.

European refiners have been struggling for years due to poor margins and weak demand for fuel products in the crisis. The traditional market for French exports of refined oil products, the United States, has also dried up.

De Margerie also said he was confident on the outcome of Total's talks with Gazprom (GAZP.MM), Russia's gas export monopoly, to remain part of a consortium charged with developing one of the world's biggest natural gas fields.

AP: Obama's IRS comin to police you on Obamacare.

Happy Tax day!

The Supreme Court's decision to uphold most of President Barack Obama's health care law will come home to roost for most taxpayers in about 2½ years, when they'll have to start providing proof on their tax returns that they have health insurance.

That scenario puts the Internal Revenue Service at the center of the debate, renewing questions about whether the agency is capable of policing the health care decisions of millions of people in the United States while also collecting the taxes needed to run the federal government.

Under the law, the IRS will provide tax breaks and incentives to help pay for health insurance and impose penalties on some people who don't buy coverage and on some businesses that don't offer it to employees.

The changes will require new regulations, forms and publications, new computer programs and a big new outreach program to explain it all to taxpayers and tax professionals. Businesses that don't claim an exemption will have to prove they offer health insurance to employees.

The health care law "includes the largest set of tax law changes in more than 20 years," according to the Treasury inspector general who oversees the IRS. The agency will have to hire thousands of workers to manage it, requiring significant budget increases that already are being targeted by congressional Republicans determined to dismantle the president's signature initiative.

Here is the easy way to screw up Obamacare, keep targetting and defunding the enforcement arm of Obama(IRS) and all ancillary positions.

Dumbass California approves its boondoggle High speed Train system.

It will be great to watch this crash and burn while Cali taxpayers pay for it in the coming years. It will fail and fail hard.

In a narrow 21-16 party-line vote that involved intense lobbying by the governor, legislative leaders and labor groups, the state Senate approved the measure marking the launch of California's ambitious bullet train, which has spent years in the planning stages.

"The Legislature took bold action today that gets Californians back to work and puts California out in front once again," Brown said.

Brown pushed for the massive infrastructure project to accommodate expected growth in the nation's most populous state, which now has 37 million people. State and federal officials also said high-speed rail would create jobs.

"No economy can grow faster than its transportation network allows," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "With highways between California cities congested and airspace at a premium, Californians desperately need an alternative."

One dissenter, Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said public support had waned for the project, and there were too many questions about financing to complete it.

"Is there additional commitment of federal funds? There is not. Is there additional commitment of private funding? There is not. Is there a dedicated funding source that we can look to in the coming years? There is not," Simitian said.

China dismisses Obama's complaint over auto tariffs

Its not like Obama is going to do anything to actually bring this to a head in an election year.
The Chinese government issued an uncommonly mild response on Friday to a United States trade complaint challenging China’s imposition last December of steep tariffs on American-made sport utility vehicles and midsize and large cars.

The Obama administration told the World Trade Organization on Thursday that China’s antidumping and antisubsidy tariffs, totaling as much as 22 percent, violated free trade rules.

When the United States, the European Union and Japan filed a joint complaint with the W.T.O. in March accusing China of improperly restricting exports of rare earth metals, the Chinese government responded with a vigorous public denial of wrongdoing. But the response Friday to the automotive trade complaint was considerably more reserved.

Liu Weimin, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said at a regularly scheduled briefing Friday afternoon that “Sino-U.S. trade cooperation is beneficial to both countries, and as the two countries trade, it would be hard to avoid some friction and differences — the important thing is that both sides act in ways that mutually benefit, show mutual understanding and allow mutual coordination.”

China’s Commerce Ministry issued only a succinct statement that said, “China will handle the consultation requests in line with the procedural rules of W.T.O. dispute settlement.” The first step in a W.T.O complaint is a series of bilateral consultations, which almost always fail. After that, a panel of trade experts decides the issue.

China is trying to avoid making trade issues a big theme of the American presidential election campaign.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Best Buy to cut 2,400 jobs in turnaround effort

Beginning of the end with Best Buy in its current state.

Electronics retailer Best Buy Co. is laying off 600 staffers in its Geek Squad technical support division and 1,800 other store workers as it seeks to restructure operations and improve results, the company said Friday.

The cuts amount to about 1.4 percent of the company's total staff of 167,000.

Best Buy is trying to combat the "showrooming" of its stores, as consumers test out products at its stores but go home and buy them cheaper online or at discounters. Interim CEO Mike Mikan has vowed the company is committed to fundamentally changing operations to improve results

Best Buy spokesman Bruce Hight says the layoffs are part of the company's "ongoing turnaround plan."

Nikki Finke scares HBO into dropping Roger Ailes movie.

Nikki Finke is more powerful than you.

I scooped yesterday that HBO had done a secret deal for an Untitled Roger Ailes Project being executive produced by Fox News rivals from MSNBC. Today I’ve received this email from HBO Films President Len Amato: “We recently decided not to pursue the Ailes project. It had become clear to us before even receiving a script that due to our company’s CNN affiliation the film could never be seen as objective.” 
Interesting, because today I’ve confirmed that none of the dealmakers have yet been informed by HBO that the project isn’t going forward. “HBO was trying hard to keep the project under wraps,” one of the dealmakers tells me. My reporting blew that.

Obama kills off no child left behind law, crap schools still crap.

yet another way Emperor Obama has decided to get around a law he doesn't like and allows his union buddies to keep schools in a state of mediocrity.
In just five months, the Obama administration has freed schools in more than half the nation from central provisions of the No Child Left Behind education law, raising the question of whether the decade-old federal program has been essentially nullified.

On Friday, the Department of Education plans to announce that it has granted waivers releasing two more states, Washington and Wisconsin, from some of the most onerous conditions of the signature Bush-era legislation. With this latest round, 26 states are now relieved from meeting the lofty — and controversial — goal of making all students proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014. Additional waivers are pending in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

“The more waivers there are, the less there really is a law, right?” said Andy Porter, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

While No Child Left Behind has been praised for forcing schools to become more accountable for the education of poor and minority children, it has been derided for what some regard as an obsessive focus on test results, which has led to some notorious cheating scandals. Critics have also faulted the law’s system of rating schools, which they say labeled so many of them low performing that it rendered the judgment meaningless.

No it means those schools are low performing unless you buy into the fantasy that most public schools are actually good.

The waivers appear to follow an increasingly deliberate pattern by the administration to circumvent lawmakers, as it did last month when it granted hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a reprieve from deportation. The administration has also unveiled policies to prevent drug shortages, raise fuel economy standards and cut refinancing fees for federally insured mortgages.

Lord King Obama says its so it must be done.

Instead of labeling all struggling schools as failing, the waivers direct states to focus most attention on the bottom 5 percent of low-performing schools. “With the waiver we can focus on those schools that really need a lot of help,” said June Atkinson, North Carolina’s state superintendent of public schools.

One of the most practical effects is that waivers will remove many schools from being branded with the tag that they had failed to make what the law deemed “adequate yearly progress” in getting more students to pass standardized tests.

Across the country, nearly half of all schools missed their targets under No Child Left Behind in the 2010-11 school year.

In some states, the rate was much higher. In Massachusetts, for example, 80 percent of schools did not make adequate progress during that school year, and in Virginia, the figure was 61 percent.

Charles Pyle, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education, said that in some cases, schools that had improved test performance still failed to meet federal goals. “The idea that 6 out of 10 Virginia schools are failing is preposterous,” Mr. Pyle said.

But critics say putting a priority only on the lowest-performing schools will let too many others off the hook, especially those that serve minority students, poor children or high populations of students with special needs.

“Are we saying all the schools are good except for 5 percent?” asked Margaret Spellings, education secretary under President George W. Bush, who now oversees education policy for the United States Chamber of Commerce. “I just don’t get it.”

The administration said all schools would be required to show yearly improvement. “To label an improving school a failure is the worst thing you can do,” Mr. Duncan said. “If they’re doing the hard work to get better, it’s like, ‘Why are we killing ourselves to improve if we’re going to get slapped in the face for it?’ ”

If a school gets a bad grade say a 45 out of 100 but the next year they get 48/100 we should say its improving and let it go or point out it is still a failure? This is why we have so many mouth breathers getting a diploma from high schools and why they can't handle college.

California Senate passes "anti-Arizona" immigration bill

Good, now everyone direct illegal immigrants to go to California.
The California Senate on Thursday passed a bill supporters dub the "anti-Arizona" law, which seeks to shield illegal immigrants from status checks by local police and challenges Republican-backed immigration crackdowns in other U.S. states.

The Democrat-led state Senate voted 21 to 13 for the California Trust Act, which blocks local police from referring a detainee to immigration officials for deportation unless that person has been convicted of a violent or serious felony.

The bill has the backing of about 100 immigrant rights groups, police chiefs and mayors.

It has already passed the state Assembly in a 47-26 vote. It will go back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote following the summer recess before heading to Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat.

The measure seeks to create a national model to counter what backers say is racial profiling inherent in the part of Arizona's anti-immigrant law allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

Microsoft admits their android botnet report is just a guess.

At some point, Google needs to drop do no evil and just go into beast mode on Microsoft.

Via WSJ.
Internet security researchers said Thursday they may have been mistaken about claims that mobile devices powered by Google Inc.’s Android operating system were hacked and used to send spam emails.

The researchers from security company Sophos Ltd. and Google rival Microsoft Corp. each had written blog posts in recent days identifying what they said were incidents of Android devices being used to generate spam emails from Yahoo Mail’s app. A “spammer has control of a botnet that lives on Android devices,” Microsoft engineer Terry Zink wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

Chester Wisniewski, senior security adviser at Sophos, said he is rechecking his findings after Google and some other security researchers disputed findings of an Android “botnet,” or a cluster of computers hijacked by hackers.

In an interview Thursday, Mr. Wisniewski said that the spam he identified generated by Yahoo’s free Web-based email service was different than normal patterns of email spam but “we don’t know for sure that it’s coming from Android devices.”

Husband hunters of the Raj: how UK women went to India for marriage and love

Thats a long way to get some status in your life.

Cleaving their way through the sapphire waters of the Indian Ocean, the ships bore their cargo into port.

Whether at Colombo, on the island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) or one of the Indian ports such as Madras, Calcutta or Bombay, the cargo was the same: hordes of eager young women, sweltering in the corsets, stockings and flannel underwear they were required to wear beneath their dresses — some still suffering from sea sickness as they staggered down the gangway into the searing heat.

These were the girls of the ‘Fishing Fleet’, and they had come to India for the purpose of landing their catch — a husband.

If they succeeded in their quest, they might soon find themselves ensconced in a spacious bungalow with a retinue of servants, as the wife of a senior official or officer.

(Video) How a human face is formed within the womb.

Interesting and very cool.

It's what every expectant parent wants to know - who their baby will look like.

And this fascinating video goes some way to showing how.

Produced for the BBC series Inside the Human Body that was aired last year, the animation is based on scans of a developing embryo and captures the formation of the face in the womb

UK- White Muslim one of six arrested over ‘terror plot'

Expect to see a lot more of this in the run-up to the Olympics.
Richard Dart, who was radicalised by the cleric Anjem Choudary, was held following police raids in east and west London.

A former PCSO and two of his brothers, who were living just over a mile from the Olympic site in Stratford, were also among those detained during the police and MI5 operation to prevent a suspected terror assault.

One of the brothers was Tasered by officers. Counter-terrorism police had first searched their home last November.

The Daily Telegraph understands the police moved over fears that a group had obtained a sword which could potentially be used in a terrorist attack.

Mr Dart, 29, the son of Dorset teachers, featured in a BBC documentary last year filmed by his own brother about his conversion. During the film, called My Brother the Islamist, he was seen protesting about British soldiers in Afghanistan and accused them of being “murderers”.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Student murder stokes fears of Egypt's Islamists

Congrats, Egypt going backwards with radical Muslims in power. Also a good example of why some places are in need of a strongman in power.

Three bearded men approached a university student and his girlfriend during a romantic rendezvous in a park and ordered them to separate because they weren't married, according to security officials. An argument broke out, ending with one of the men fatally stabbing the student.

The June 25 attack has alarmed Egyptians concerned that with an Islamist president in office, vigilante groups are feeling emboldened to enforce strict Islamic mores on the streets.

Islamists, including members of one-time violent groups, were empowered after last year's ouster of Hosni Mubarak's secular regime by a popular uprising. They formed political parties and won about 70 percent of parliament seats in elections held some six months ago, although a court dissolved the legislature.

Moderate Muslims along with liberal and women's groups now worry that Mohammed Morsi's presidency will eradicate what is left of Egypt's secular traditions and change the social fabric of the mainly Muslim nation of 82 million people.

.....Such killings are extremely rare, but activists say Islamists are trying to impose their will on communities outside Cairo.

For example, Islamists in the city of Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean are distributing leaflets to patrons of seaside cafes and beaches urging them not to listen to music or watch football on television.

Some concerts at university campuses reportedly have been canceled following threats by Islamists and others have enforced the separation of men and women in classrooms and during out of town excursions.

"A lot of minibuses now play Quranic recitations on their radios instead of loud popular music as it is custom," said Ali Higris, a student from Maasarah, a working-class suburb south of Cairo.

Fully veiled women are also harassing women not wearing a veil or wearing colorful ones while traveling on the women-only train cars of Cairo's busy subway, according to activists monitoring women's rights.

Best Buy to use Apple's retail model, will fail miserably.

Best Buy problem isn't they have become a showroom for people to buy stuff online but their prices are not on par with online retailers. That is why they are getting hurt badly.
Best Buy Co. BBY -2.03% is testing a new turnaround strategy: making its cavernous electronics emporiums look more like Apple Inc.'s AAPL +1.16% sleek retail outlets.

The heart of a test store near Best Buy's headquarters here is a Solution Central help desk, rimmed with chairs and manned by the company's black-tied Geek Squad. It strongly resembles the Genius Bar at Apple's stores.

Best Buy's prototype has taken another cue from Apple, letting customers pay for products in several locations, rather than forcing them into checkout lines at the front of the store.

Best Buy said its slimmed-down store, which opened a few weeks ago, is focused less on displaying every conceivable gadget and more on connecting customers with employees who can answer questions or help program equipment.

Skeptics already are asking whether the new format goes far enough to attract customers and fight "showrooming," in which shoppers who browse in stores buy merchandise more cheaply elsewhere, usually online.

France slaps 7 billion euros in taxes on rich and big firms

Here we go as the stupid meets the road.

France's new Socialist government announced tax rises worth 7.2 billion euros on Wednesday, including heavy one-off levies on wealthy households and big corporations, to plug a revenue shortfall this year caused by flagging economic growth.

In the first major raft of economic measures since Francois Hollande was elected president in May promising to avoid the painful austerity seen elsewhere in Europe, the government singled out large companies and the rich.

An extraordinary levy of 2.3 billion euros ($2.90 billion) on wealthy households and 1.1 billion euros in one-off taxes on large banks and energy firms were central parts of an amended 2012 budget presented to parliament.

The law, which includes tax increases on stock options and dividends and the scrapping of an exemption on overtime, should easily receive approval by a July 31 deadline after the Socialists won a comfortable parliamentary majority at elections last month.

Hollande says the rich must pay their share as France battles to cut its public deficit from 5.2 percent of GDP last year to an EU limit of 3 percent in 2013 despite a stagnant economy and rising debt.

"We are in an extremely difficult economic and financial situation," Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici told a news conference. "In 2012 and 2013, the effort will be particularly large. The wealthiest households and big companies will have to contribute."

"Stop and frisk" polarizes New York among stupid people

You live in one of the highest crime ridden ghetto areas in the state and you complain about the tactics to make sure you don't die when you walk out your apartment? What NYPD should do is just stop all stop and frisk, sit back and when crime skyrockets go this is what you wanted, so stop bitching.

Deborah Richardson, 60, a black postal worker, has delivered mail in east Brooklyn's Brownsville for 14 years. She takes a different view of the New York Police Department's contentious Stop, Question and Frisk policy. "I'd like to see more stops and frisks," she said, leaning out of her postal truck. "This is a dangerous neighborhood. I won't even go up in those monstrosities anymore," she said, gesturing toward one of the towering housing complexes where she once pushed a mail cart. After four years of what she says was harassment from residents, many waiting for welfare checks, she got a transfer to a parcel truck delivery route.

For nearly two months the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy has drawn New York City into an emotional debate about race, policing and Fourth Amendment rights. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have fiercely defended the program against an onslaught of criticism from judges, civil rights leaders and a vocal block of Democratic politicians. It has become a defining issue for next year's mayoral election.

....Brownsville is in NYPD Precinct 73, which last year had 14.1 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Among the city's 76 precincts, its violent crime rate was a close second to Precinct 41, in the Hunts Point-Longwood area of the Bronx. The rate may be significantly lower than its crack-cocaine-driven peak in 1990, but it is still almost three times the citywide rate.

Precinct 78, which encompasses most of Park Slope, had 4.1 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, 17 percent below the city rate.

Long the epicenter of NYPD stop-and-frisk activity, Brownsville was the subject of a New York Times report two years ago that found police were conducting stops there at a rate unmatched elsewhere in the city. (Disclosure: Co-author Janet Roberts worked on the New York Times story.) The Reuters analysis shows that is still true two years later.

Residents tell stories of cops peering down from rooftops, monitoring movement with a ubiquitous network of security cameras, patrolling halls and occupying lobbies.

...For Gulotta, whose grandfather grew up in turn-of-the-century Brownsville when the neighborhood was populated by Italian immigrants, stop-and-frisk is a tool, not a question for debate.

"The people I'm talking to are the people behind closed doors at night … the good people who work hard and own businesses here, the clergy, the people that own private homes here, and they are not saying, ‘We're living in a police state.' They are saying the exact opposite, that we need more police work, not less.

"Violence is absolutely my first priority. I have no other choice. We can say, you know, it's better than a previous year, but one shooting is too many," he said. "The baseline is zero."

Read the whole article.

California may pass bill to make state illegal immigrant haven.

I am all for it and when its passes let other states point to illegals that California is the way to go for all sorts of services.

Last week, the top U.S. court upheld the most controversial aspect of Arizona's immigration statute: a requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they stop, even for minor offenses such as jay-walking.

Enter California, a border state that is home to the largest number of illegal immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic, and is considerably more liberal than its neighbor Arizona.

A bill currently working its way through the California legislature would block local law enforcement from referring a detainee to immigration officials for deportation unless that person has been convicted of a violent or serious felony.

"California cannot afford to become another Arizona," said California Assembly member Tom Ammiano, the bill's sponsor. One of the bill's sponsors, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, calls the effort the "anti-Arizona."

NYC's McCarren Park pool a mini-war zone less than a week after opening

This is why we can never have nice things especially for free. Pay a fee to get in is enough for all the rifraffs to go away.

In less than a week, the city’s $50 million “crown jewel’’ pool in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park has turned into a mini-war zone, where frightening melees have injured two cops and a lifeguard.

The Greenpoint pool reopened last week with a splashy ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Mayor Bloomberg speaking of its “illustrious past and bright future.’’

But yesterday, hundreds of frustrated people were forced to stand in lines that stretched around the block as they waited to be searched by members of a force of 30 security officers that included 20 cops.

Even NYTIMES has taken noticed.

Some of the blog posts and comments in recent days have echoed the racially tinged dialogue of the 1980s, with neighbors of the pool blaming teenagers from outside the community. In fact, two of the men arrested came from a public housing complex, the Marcy Houses, on the border of Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant. The other lives across the street from the pool.

The area around the pool has changed significantly in the past few years. Census data show that both the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods, which border the pool, have had an influx of white residents in the past decade.

For example, in Williamsburg, which has attracted waves of artists in recent years, the non-Hispanic white population increased by 24,000 from 2000 to 2010, while the Hispanic population fell by 10,000. Hispanics now make up 33 percent of the 111,000 residents, with blacks representing 6 percent.

Some of the pressure on McCarren reflects the fact that the neighboring communities of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy lack large outdoor pools. On Tuesday, a number of visitors to McCarren were from Bushwick, waiting on a long line after the pool filled to capacity.

“Just because you come from another neighborhood or another borough or the other side of Brooklyn doesn’t mean you’re the one causing trouble,” said Luis Morales, 42, of Bushwick. “It has to do with a few individuals who are spoiling it for everybody. There are good ones and bad ones, from every neighborhood. Judging isn’t right. You could be black, white, green — it doesn’t matter as long as you’re not bothering anyone.”

Lets be real. Bad areas have bad people who spoil it for the rest of us. Take a note of who is causing the trouble and where they are living and it will prove correct.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Miami-Dade approves ‘responsible wage’ requirement

You to raise wages okay but don't try circular logic like below to justify higher costs to taxpayers.
Arguing that construction workers on public-private partnership projects should not be relegated to the status of “working poor,” Miami-Dade County commissioners on Tuesday approved a requirement that private buildings constructed on county-owned land must pay their construction workers a “responsible” wage.

The legislation, sponsored by Commissioner Sally Heyman, is similar to existing living-wage laws that govern payments to various service workers who are paid with county dollars.

Concerns were also raised by Miguel Southwell, the deputy aviation director of business retention and development at Miami International Airport. Southwell said local airlines were skittish about the new rules, which could affect airport projects such as building a new airline hangar on county land.

Representatives of construction workers, however, countered by citing research that higher-paid workers demonstrate greater productivity, and can therefore complete projects on the same budget, despite being paid more.

Bill Riley, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said paying workers a more-generous salary had a direct effect on building quality, leading to projects that are “built to last.”

“The policy is simple,” Riley said. “If a private developer wants to build a project on county-owned land, land that is owned by the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County...the workers earn a responsible wage.”

Paying costs go up but the budget remains the same... okay, why is that again?

Commissioners, in approving the new law, said that even if construction costs increase slightly on these projects, that extra money will come from developers’ profit margins, and not from taxpayers.

“We need to treat our labor force properly,” Commissioner Jean Monestime said.

Right since the companies won't add the costs to the budget of construction which the taxpayers end up paying? Stupid.

Feds shut down two fireworks displays over bird concerns.

First in Oregon.
An Oregon town has reportedly canceled its annual fireworks show out of concern the Fourth of July pyrotechnics will scare sea birds roosting nearby.

Town officials in Depoe Bay have announced the cancellation of the annual pre-Independence Day fireworks show on July 3 following pressure from federal wildlife managers who said the noise disrupts sea birds in the area, the Oregonian reports.

The move has irked local business owners who count on the popular show to bring foot traffic.

"It's a great loss to our community," Peggy Leoni, co-owner of Trollers Lodge, a small motel in Depoe Bay, told the newspaper.

and in Narrowsburg, N.Y.

The traditional parade through the tiny downtown of Narrowsburg, N.Y., will still go on as planned on Wednesday. Residents of the hamlet, population just over 400, will feast on barbecued chicken, as they do every Independence Day. But the annual fireworks display, held on the Fourth of July for decades, has been canceled — a victim of a clash with another historical symbol of patriotism.

The local volunteer Fire Department that was to sponsor the display announced last week that it was canceling the event after it was told by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service that it could face up to $200,000 in fines if the fireworks caused any harm to any of the bald eagles that live in the area.

The welfare of the bird that is the official emblem of this nation is not taken lightly in the community — about 100 miles northwest of Manhattan — which is known as the Bald Eagle Capital of New York State.

“The eagles have lived here, and the fireworks have been here, too, so they are obviously used to it,” said Bruce Gettel, a member of the Lava Volunteer Fire Department, which had planned to put on the fireworks. “It’s real ironic that we’re celebrating our independence, but you can’t be independent with our celebration.” He said more people in the community were likely to complain now than they had in the past.

Questions were raised after last year’s celebration when an unidentified resident went to a local newspaper, The River Reporter, and said that the fireworks had startled an eagle. Word eventually reached the Fish and Wildlife Service, and federal officials met with local leaders last week to reiterate the rules and regulations for eagle preservation: no fireworks within a half-mile of a nest if it is in a wooded area; none within a mile of nests in open areas.

AP touts MASS health care law for Obamacare.. hides the dirty.

AP doing cheerleading for Obamacare.

Supporters of the Massachusetts experiment are quick to point out its successes.

An additional 400,000 individuals have gained insurance since 2006, meaning about 98 percent of residents have coverage.

A recent study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation found that between 2006 and 2010, the use of emergency rooms for non-emergency reasons fell nearly 4 percent. That was a key goal of the law, since using emergency rooms for routine care is far more expensive than visiting a doctor.

State health officials also point to what they say are increases in mammograms, colon cancer screenings and prenatal care visits and a 150,000-person reduction in the number of smokers after the state expanded coverage for smoking cessation programs.

"Since Gov. Romney signed health care reform here in Massachusetts, more private companies are offering health care to their employees, fewer people are getting primary care in an expensive emergency room setting, and hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors have access to care," said Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat and co-chairman of Obama's re-election committee.

Another reason the law remains popular may be that so many Massachusetts residents receive insurance through work and have been largely untouched by its penalties

The problem?

A survey last year by the Massachusetts Medical Society found long waits for appointments with primary care doctors: an average of 48 days for an internist and 36 days for a physician of family medicine. More than half of primary care doctors were no longer taking new patients, a slight increase from the previous year.

At the same time, since the law was approved in 2006, Massachusetts residents are more likely to have a place they usually go when they are sick or need advice (up 4.7 percent), more likely to have had a preventive care visit (up 5.9 percent), more likely to have had multiple doctor visits (up 5 percent) and more likely to have had a dental visit (up 5 percent), the Blue Cross Blue Shield report found.

The charge that the law has been a "budget-buster" in Massachusetts has also been challenged.

A recent study by the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation found that during the five full fiscal years since it was implemented, the law has cost the state an additional $91 million a year after federal reimbursements - well within initial projections.

The idea of exporting Massachusetts' law to the rest of the nation has its critics too.

Josh Archambault, health care policy director for the Pioneer Institute, a conservative-leaning Boston-based think tank, said a narrower approach would be better.

"There are many unintended consequences when Washington tries to design a policy that meets the very different needs of states as diverse as Massachusetts and, say, New Mexico," he said. "We need some specific federal actions to increase access to affordable health care, but the (federal law) went too far."

There's also at least one big cautionary note: Massachusetts still struggles to slow the spiraling cost of health care for residents.

This year both the Massachusetts House and Senate have approved bills aimed at trimming projected health care costs in the state by $150 billion to $160 billion over the next 15 years. A committee is hoping to iron out the differences between the two bills before the end of the formal session July 31.

As immigrants move in to East Hamptons, tension rises.

East Hampton is where the people who work for the people who live in the famous South Hampton. More immigrants(illegal if you read into it) are moving in with multiple families with kids overburdening the public schools. Residents protests and of course get hit with charges of racism.

When one thinks of the Hamptons, what jumps to mind are masters of the universe and their mansions by the sea. But a strong, steady stream of immigrants has been flowing to the area for years, drawn by a service economy that demands hedges be trimmed and houses be cleaned. In the Springs, a hamlet in the town of East Hampton, where most of the houses are small and the year-round population is relatively large, the Hispanic population has tripled in the past 10 years — and tension has emerged.

Some longtime residents of the Springs and similar areas complain that homes are being illegally crowded, that houses with half a dozen cars parked outside are a blight on the street, and that the many children living inside are overwhelming the local schools and causing property taxes to rise.

“When you tell people you live in East Hampton, the first words out of their mouth are usually, ‘Do you live next to P. Diddy or Alec Baldwin?’ ” said Dennis Michael Lynch, an East Hampton resident and a filmmaker who made a documentary about illegal immigration called “They Come to America.”

“People have a perception of the Hamptons,” Mr. Lynch continued. “They don’t have an image of illegal immigrants packed like sardines into houses.”

.....Mr. Lynch and others who have raised the issue of crowded houses — at Town Board meetings or in property owner association newsletters — say it has nothing to do with race or ethnicity, but rather enforcement of existing codes that designate homes for single-family use. If a house is crammed with several families, they say, or occupied like a rooming house, that can hurt a whole street. Or when neighbors pack houses full of children, their critics complain of ending up shouldering an unfair portion of the school tax burden.

“This is really about property values and the neighborhood,” said Carol Saxe Buda, who helped begin a group called Unoccupy Springs about a year and a half ago to address crowding.

“A substantial number of illegally occupied homes reflect a certain community,” she added, referring to immigrants, but she emphasized that where the residents came from was never the reason her group singled out a home. The group’s members highlight only places that are, by their crowding, straining the local schools or threatening neighboring property values, she said. “We report houses that are problems," she said. “We don’t care who’s in them.”

The East Hampton housing code allows no more than four unrelated people, or one family, to occupy a single-family home, and town officials acknowledge that crowding does exist. They receive a few complaints each week, most frequently in the Springs, and some of those do result in violations. And the deputy town supervisor, Theresa K. Quigley, said the Springs had some of the highest per-acre taxes around.

Nonetheless, some residents, including Ms. Quigley, say the objections are more sinister. “The people who came to the Town Board insist there is nothing racial intended,” said Ms. Quigley, who was born and raised in the Hamptons. “They say they’re talking about overcrowding, but they’re talking about Latinos.”

Another U.S. immigration agent shot and injured in Mexico border shooting

But no need to put resources on the border.

A U.S. immigration agent was shot and wounded during a surveillance operation on a desolate stretch of highway near the Texas-Mexico border on Tuesday, law enforcement officials said.

Authorities have not released many details surrounding the circumstances that led to the shooting of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent about 30 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, near McAllen, Texas.

ICE agents and other law enforcement officers were conducting a surveillance operation when at least one unidentified person opened fire early on Tuesday, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said.

No arrests have been made, nor have authorities disclosed if there are any suspects or a motive in the case.

North Carolina Dem accidentaly legalizes Fracking

She is an idiot but her mistake is actually economically beneficial to the state so there is that bit of good news.

State House lawmakers have apparently accidentally legalized fracking in North Carolina, due to a deciding vote one Democrat says was a mistake.

Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, says she did not intend to cast the key vote that overrode the governor's veto of the bill.

The vote was 72-47, exactly the number needed for an override. Without Carney's vote, the veto would have been sustained.

Carney characterized her vote as "very accidental."

"It is late. Here we are rushing to make these kind of decisions this time of night," she said.

Carney pointed out that she has voted against fracking in the past, and said she spent the day lobbying other Democrats to uphold the veto of Senate Bill 820.

"And then I push the green button," she said.

Just after the vote, Carney's voice could be heard on her microphone, saying "Oh my gosh. I pushed green."

France to tackle crushing debt by raising taxes and spending more.

Its the socialists and to them this makes totally sense.
French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault has called on the French people to rally behind the government to tackle a "crushing" and "unprecedented" debt crisis.

He is outlining the new Socialist government's plans in a keynote speech to parliament for the next five years.

He confirmed those earning more than 1m euros (£800,000) would be taxed at 75%.

He promised people on lower incomes would be spared the brunt of budget cuts and tax increases.

He also said his government would go ahead with plans to hire thousands more teachers and police, as well as creating 150,000 state-aided jobs. The moves are some of the other election pledges made by newly elected President Francois Hollande.

He also said he would not be introducing austerity measures, and that a number of summits - on social issues, the environment, education - would be held in the next few weeks.

This incoming debacle will be tremendous to watch fail.

UK's High street closed for two hours over stink bomb

I have no pun for this..
Police, firefighters and council workers went to Streatham High Road in Streatham, south London, after locals dialled the emergency services.

The 2.2 mile high street - the longest in the UK - was cordoned off while the source of the smell was investigated.

Traffic chaos ensued, with bus drivers ordered to get their passengers off the bus and motorists diverted along side streets away from the 'spill'.

It was only after cops found that a stink bomb had been dropped outside the Solarium Sunset Tan shop that they realised it was a false alarm - with the street re-opened at 1.30pm last Thursday.

One bus driver, who did not want to be named, said: "I was just sat there for maybe 15 or 20 minutes and then told the let the passengers off.

"A fireman told me they were investigating a possible chemical spill and everyone should clear the area."

Local Simon Hoskins, 43, said: "The smell was pretty bad in the area near the shop, but to be honest the reaction was a bit over-the-top.

"To close off the longest high street in the UK over a stink bomb is just overkill.

Chuck E. Cheese goes with hipper image

Any parent or older sibling over the age of 14 knows that if you get invited to a chuck e cheese. Its going to be ghetto, cheap and the odds of a fight breaking out between two overweight parents are extremely high. You can remake it as much as you want but its still the stigma of Chuck E. Cheese.

The company that operates the chain of children's pizza restaurants is retiring the giant rodent's outdated image — and the man who voiced its character for nearly two decades. CEC Entertainment Inc. says it plans to launch a national ad campaign Thursday with a revamped image of Chuck E. Cheese as a hip, electric-guitar-playing rock star.

It's just the latest makeover for the 35-year-old mascot, which started life as a New Jersey rat who sometimes carried a cigar.

CEC Entertainment, based in Irving, Texas, is struggling to revive sales at its more than 500 pizza restaurants, which offer games, prizes and a musical variety musical show.

In May, CEC said revenue at its locations open at least a year fell 4.2 percent in the first quarter. The company also lowered its outlook for the year, citing factors such as higher prices for cheddar cheese and rent.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Eurozone unemployment hits new record in May

Europe was not built in any to deal with problems like this and now its coming back to bite them.
Unemployment in the 17-country euro currency bloc hit another record in May as the crippling financial crisis pushed the continent toward the brink of recession, official figures showed Monday. Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said unemployment rose to 11.1% in May from 11% the previous month. 
May's rate was the highest since the euro was launched in 1999 and adds further urgency to the eurozone countries' plan to create economic growth and cut excessive government debt.  
At a summit Friday, eurozone leaders unveiled a limited economic growth package and agreed on a set of short- and long-term measures to shore up the euro. Markets responded positively with a stock market rally which, if sustained, would help buoy economic confidence in the eurozone — a key step to easing the crisis.

France has to cut spending up to $54 Billion , Socialists stunned.

Francois Hollande meet reality, reality bitchslaps Francois Hollande. Delicious.

PARIS (AP) — Welcome to reality, Monsieur Hollande. That's the message France's accounting watchdog sent to new President Francois Hollande with an audit Monday that says his Socialist government must cut up to €43 billion ($54 billion) in spending this year and next if it wants to meet its deficit targets.
The audit's findings, while roughly in line with economists' forecasts, are sobering for a man who rose to power decrying the budget-cutting juggernaut that has squeezed countries across Europe struggling with high debts.

"Austerity can no longer be inevitable!" he cried triumphantly when he won election May 6.

His prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, sounded a more somber tone after the audit Monday, less than two months into Hollande's term. "Public spending will be brought under control," Ayrault said in a statement.

The governing Socialists note that former President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative government ran up a state debt worth 90 percent of gross domestic product, and accuse Sarkozy's administration of underplaying France's economic weaknesses in the run-up to the presidential election.
The auditors also targeted Sarkozy's government, saying its efforts to trim spending were "belated" and that the biggest cuts will fall on Hollande's presidency.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Justice Roberts switched votes because of media pressure over Obamacare.

If this is all true, he is a contemptible coward of the worst kind.
Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court's four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama's health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.

Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy - believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law - led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.

"He was relentless," one source said of Kennedy's efforts. "He was very engaged in this."

But this time, Roberts held firm. And so the conservatives handed him their own message which, as one justice put it, essentially translated into, "You're on your own."

The conservatives refused to join any aspect of his opinion, including sections with which they agreed, such as his analysis imposing limits on Congress' power under the Commerce Clause, the sources said.

Instead, the four joined forces and crafted a highly unusual, unsigned joint dissent. They deliberately ignored Roberts' decision, the sources said, as if they were no longer even willing to engage with him in debate.

...Over the next six weeks, as Roberts began to craft the decision striking down the mandate, the external pressure began to grow. Roberts almost certainly was aware of it.

Some of the conservatives, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, deliberately avoid news articles on the Court when issues are pending (and avoid some publications altogether, such as The New York Times). They've explained that they don't want to be influenced by outside opinion or feel pressure from outlets that are perceived as liberal.

But Roberts pays attention to media coverage. As Chief Justice, he is keenly aware of his leadership role on the Court, and he also is sensitive to how the Court is perceived by the public.

There were countless news articles in May warning of damage to the Court - and to Roberts' reputation - if the Court were to strike down the mandate. Leading politicians, including the President himself, had expressed confidence the mandate would be upheld.

Some even suggested that if Roberts struck down the mandate, it would prove he had been deceitful during his confirmation hearings, when he explained a philosophy of judicial restraint.

It was around this time that it also became clear to the conservative justices that Roberts was, as one put it, "wobbly," the sources said.

It is not known why Roberts changed his view on the mandate and decided to uphold the law. At least one conservative justice tried to get him to explain it, but was unsatisfied with the response, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation.

Some informed observers outside the Court flatly reject the idea that Roberts buckled to liberal pressure, or was stared down by the President. They instead believe that Roberts realized the historical consequences of a ruling striking down the landmark health care law. There was no doctrinal background for the Court to fall back on - nothing in prior Supreme Court cases - to say the individual mandate crossed a constitutional line.

The case raised entirely new issues of power. Never before had Congress tried to force Americans to buy a private product; as a result, never before had the Court ruled Congress lacked that power. It was completely uncharted waters.

To strike down the mandate as exceeding the Commerce Clause, the Court would have to craft a new theory, which could have opened it up to criticism that it reached out to declare the President' health care law unconstitutional.

Roberts was willing to draw that line, but in a way that decided future cases, and not the massive health care case.

France's socialist government to tax computer screens

Its the French so yeah this has to be true.
The French government is considering extending the television licence fee to include computer screen owners to boost revenues for public-sector broadcasting operations, the culture minister said on Saturday.

President François Hollande's Socialist government aims to raise an extra €7.5bn (£6bn) this year through tax rises included in an amended budget bill to be unveiled next week.

"Is it necessary to extend the fee to [computer] screens when you do not have a television? It is a question we're asking ourselves, but obviously it would be a fee per household and you would not have to pay an [additional] fee if you have a computer and a television," Aurélie Filippetti said on RTL radio.

She said the government would study the new measure in 2013.

The licence fee – €125 in mainland France and €80 in its overseas territories – is used to finance public television and radio.

NBC News chief Steve Capus admits Ann Curry couldn't hack it as morning host.

He tries to make his point as nice as possible but can't hide the fact she wasn't cut out for the job.
Asked why Curry did not work out as a morning TV host, Capus allowed that her weakness was convincingly presiding over morning TV staples such as cooking segments and celebrity interviews that make up a big chunk of the job.

“I think it was not where her real passion was,” he said. “In her heart of hearts, I think she would admit that. I think her real passion is built around reporting on international stories. It’s tough to convey a sincere interest in something if you don’t possess it. We live in a HD world. Dan Rather used to say the camera never blinks. Well, this is an HD world now, and the camera picks up everything. And you could tell with her, you can tell with any anchor, whether they’re into it or not. And I think we’ve now come up with a role that will play to her strengths.”

Stupid - (NYTIMES) Public Workers Face New Rash of Layoffs, Hurting Recovery

At some point it has to dawn on even the most idiotic person that public workers who get paid with taxpayers money is not the same as private workers who get laid off. Public employment goes up with the private sector is working. If the private is dog crap, government doesn't have the money to pay public workers thus layoffs. So for all the public worker lovers, you are either stupid or liars.

But the other options is to just keep hiring government workers with money we don't have and go bankrupt like Stockton, CA.

Government payrolls grew in the early part of the recovery, largely because of federal stimulus measures. But since its postrecession peak in April 2009 (not counting temporary Census hiring), the public sector has shrunk by 706,000 jobs. The losses appeared to be tapering off earlier this year, but have accelerated for the last three months, creating the single biggest drag on the recovery in many areas.

With the economy expanding, albeit slowly, state tax revenues have started to recover and are estimated to exceed prerecession levels next year. Yet governors and legislatures are keeping a tight rein on spending, whether to refill depleted rainy-day funds or because of political inclination.

At the same time, costs for health care, social services, pensions and education are still rising. Fourteen states plan to resolve their budget gaps by reducing aid to local governments, according to a report by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers.

So while the federal government has grown a little since the recession, and many states have recently begun to add a few jobs, local governments are making new cuts that outweigh those gains. More than a quarter of municipal governments are planning layoffs this year, according to a survey by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence. They are being squeezed not only by declining federal and state support, but by their devastated property tax base.

“The unfortunate reality is our revenue streams have not rebounded,” said Timothy R. Hacker, the city manager of North Las Vegas, which has cut its work force to 1,300 from 2,300 and is about to lay off 130 more. “Shaking this recession is becoming increasingly difficult.”

Pennsylvania, for example, has shed 5,400 government jobs this year, and many school districts and social service agencies are contemplating more layoffs. “We have slipped to the middle of the pack in terms of job growth,” said Mark Price, a labor economist at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. “And that was driven mainly by the fact that we lost so many jobs in the public sector.”

75% of Obamacare Costs Will Fall on Backs of Those Making $120K or Less


Rupert Murdoch goes after Scientology with tweets calling followers creepy, evil.

Even Rupert Murdoch thinks scientology is creepy given the Katie Holmes/ Tom Cruise divorce.