Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘greed’

iPhone Coronavirus Party In Vietnam

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 30, 2021

Who doesn’t like their iPhone?

The world’s most popular smartphone is ubiquitous.

And we Westerners must genuinely appreciate the slave labor used to manufacture the parts that go into the handheld electronic communication device.

And without access to cheap slave labor from our Oriental brothers and sisters in Vietnam, China, and other Southeast Asian nations, we couldn’t enjoy using the electronic devices that so captivate our attention, anesthetizing us to their, and others’ suffering.

The liberal ideal of so-called “free trade” has been perverted.

Rather than being used by our nation as a tool to sow seeds of freedom, and cultivate the fruits of liberty, it’s being abused to enslave others far from our shores in the guise of “profitability” and “progress.”

Aided and abetted by their Wall Street corporate masters and pecuniary overlords, American slavery has been exported as a material good to enrich the few at the expense of the many.

And Republicans scoff at Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren’s chastizement of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and other banksters who enriched themselves, and their corporate coffers, by TENS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS by simply continuing to charge overdraft fees to their customers who’d lost their livelihoods, jobs, and income during the the coronavirus pandemic – even though the Federal Reserve not only cut them significant fiscal slack, but also encouraged them to pass such beneficence along to their customers by forgiving such fees.

They did no such thing.

And what will democratic, freedom-loving American beneficence and largesse do in this instance?

My bet is on “Nothing.”

Gotta’ make no’ munny fuh massa’.


Vietnam Detects New Highly Transmissible Coronavirus Variant : Coronavirus Updates

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/05/29/1001590855/vietnam-detects-new-highly-transmissible-coronavirus-variant

Vietnam has detected a new coronavirus variant that is highly transmissible and has features of two other strains.

“Vietnam has uncovered a new COVID-19 variant combining characteristics of the two existing variants first found in India and the U.K.,” Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said, according to Reuters. “That the new one is Read the rest of this entry »

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NCAA Claims Student Athletes Who Make Them BIG BUCK$ Don’t Deserve A $hare

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Today, the NCAA is appearing before the United States Supreme Court today arguing about… money.

Yes, money.

This case verges on indentured servitude, and hypocrisy is open, and plainly evident.

But hey… what else is new when it comes to treatment of the impoverished, females, and minorities?

Meanwhile, the BIG BUCKS go to build lavish facilities for the male athletes, not all of which are for training, to the coaches for their $alarie$ and compen$ation, and to build extravagant stadiums and arenas.

Not even a fraction goes to the athletes.

And none of it goes to the students.

Not one thin dime.

Here’s an idea instead of paying coaches eye-popping salaries, how about capping their compensation, and placing about half of the money toward student scholarship?

It’d be an INVESTMENT in education, for that is the primary (hopefully) reason the athletes chose to become students at the university where they play.

And best of all, it would ALL come from the Private Sector, one of many “holy cows” of the GOP Brahmans.


Take To The Court: Justices Will Hear Case On Student Athlete Compensation
March 31, 2021, 5:00 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition
by Nina Totenberg

Nina Totenberg at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)

https://www.npr.org/2021/03/31/982836334/take-to-the-court-justices-will-hear-case-on-student-athlete-compensation

As March Madness plays out on TV, the U.S. Supreme Court takes a rare excursion into sports law Wednesday in a case testing whether the NCAA’s limits on compensation for student athletes violate the nation’s antitrust laws.

The outcome could have enormous consequences for college athletics.

The NCAA maintains that Read the rest of this entry »

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GameStop? GameOn? Face It: The United States Has Two Sets Of Rules

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 1, 2021

Unless you’ve been in a cave in Tora Bora for the past week, or so, by now, you’ve probably heard of the Reddit/GameStop/Robinhood ordeal.

Here are the “players”:
• Vlad Tenev, CEO of the trading app Robinhood
• National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC)
• Day traders using the Robinhood app who also were participants in a Reddit group Wall Street Bets (properly as “r/wallstreetbets” – a forum called a “subreddit” on the popular website Reddit, which is a social platform and discussion group that also rates web content.)
• GameStop, a electronics/video game retailer

Robinhood (the company) became the target of widespread outrage last week after it stopped users from purchasing shares of GameStop, AMC, BlackBerry, and other so-called meme stocks that had significantly increased in price over the past week, which was fueled by WallStreetBets Reddit users.

The long and short of it (a most befitting pun, wouldn’t you say?) is that a no-fees stock brokrage company named Robinhood, which uses an app for a mobile device to effectuate trades, had ceased processing orders on a company named GameStop, which raised the hackles of some observers, including Elon Musk, and other news reporting groups.

The reason why Robinhood ceased activity on trades for GameStop, and other companies was because a loose-knit group of day trader investors in the subReddit forum WallStreetBets – which totals over 4 million strong, and describe themselves as “degenerates” – decided to take on the abuses of Wall Street power players, most typically as hedge funds.


A NOTE ABOUT HEDGE FUNDS:

Investopedia writes this about hedge funds:

Hedge funds are alternative investments using pooled funds that employ different strategies to earn active returns, or alpha, for their investors. Hedge funds may be aggressively managed or make use of derivatives and leverage in both domestic and international markets with the goal of generating high returns (either in an absolute sense or over a specified market benchmark).

It is important to note that hedge funds are generally only accessible to accredited investors as they require less SEC regulations than other funds. One aspect that has set the hedge fund industry apart is the fact that hedge funds face less regulation than mutual funds and other investment vehicles.

Each hedge fund is constructed to take advantage of certain identifiable market opportunities. Hedge funds use different investment strategies and thus are often classified according to investment style. There is substantial diversity in risk attributes and investments among styles.

Legally, hedge funds are most often set up as private investment limited partnerships that are open to a limited number of accredited investors and require a large initial minimum investment. Investments in hedge funds are illiquid as they often require investors to keep their money in the fund for at least one year, a time known as the lock-up period. Withdrawals may also only happen at certain intervals such as quarterly or bi-annually.

A former writer and sociologist Alfred Winslow Jones’s company, A.W. Jones & Co. launched the first hedge fund in 1949. It was while writing an article about current investment trends for Fortune in 1948 that Jones was inspired to try his hand at managing money. He raised $100,000 (including $40,000 out of his own pocket) and set forth to try to minimize the risk in holding long-term stock positions by short selling other stocks. This investing innovation is now referred to as the classic long/short equities model. Jones also employed leverage to enhance returns.

In 1952, Jones altered the structure of his investment vehicle, converting it from a general partnership to a limited partnership and adding a 20% incentive fee as compensation for the managing partner. As the first money manager to combine short selling, the use of leverage shared risk through a partnership with other investors and a compensation system based on investment performance, Jones earned his place in investing history as the father of the hedge fund.

Hedge funds went on to dramatically outperform most mutual funds in the 1960s and gained further popularity when a 1966 article in Fortune highlighted an obscure investment that outperformed every mutual fund on the market by double-digit figures over the previous year and by high double-digits over the previous five years.

High-profile money managers deserted the traditional mutual fund industry in droves in the early 1990s, seeking fame and fortune as hedge fund managers. Unfortunately, history repeated itself in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s as a number of high-profile hedge funds, including Robertson’s, failed in spectacular fashion.

Since that era, the hedge fund industry has grown substantially. Today the hedge fund industry is massive—total assets under management in the industry are valued at more than $3.2 trillion according to the 2018 Preqin Global Hedge Fund Report. Based on statistics from research firm Barclays hedge, the total number of assets under management for hedge funds jumped by 2335% between 1997 and 2018.


The hedge funds had all “shorted” GameStop, which is well-known tactic to make money by the failure of a stock – “failure,” defined as a reduced price. In this case, Wall Street hedge fund managers had all “shorted” GameStop, and others, waiting for the price to drop before they sold the shares they were holding.

In a “short” sale (as it pertains to Wall Street trading), an entity “borrows” a stock from its owner, and holds it for a period of time, in anticipation that its price will drop enough so that they can then sell it (return its purchase price to the owner), and pocket the difference. It’s not illegal, and has been done for quite some time.

As you might imagine, by so doing (shorting), a stock can significantly, and adversely be affected.

But… a short sale can “go bad,” and that’s what the 4 million+ members of the subReddit group WallStreetBets did – ruin the day (or even longer) of many vulture capitalists hedge fund managers by driving up the price per share of GameStop.

GameStop, which has the ticker symbol GME, and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), has faced a decline in sales, 7 brokerages have issued twelve-month price objectives for GameStop’s shares which range from $3.50 to $33.00 per share. And on average, they expect GameStop’s per share stock price to be $11.93 in the next twelve months. That suggests that the stock has a possible downside of 96.3%.

For the last 5 years, GameStop stock price has been relatively stable, and only minimally changed, and has ranged from the lower $30 range to slightly over $4 per share. Their last dividend payment was March 14, 2019, which was $0.38 per share, which represented an increase from 2012 when it was $0.12 per share. Aside from the most recent price fluctuations, over its lifespan, GameStop’s price per share has ranged from $3.91 to $63.68 from February 2002 though August 2020.

At its highest, GameStop was valued at $483 per share on January 25, 2021. That’s where the Wall Street Bets Redditors (participants in Reddit) come into play. Their trading of the stock – specifically as purchases – drove up the stock to terrific heights, which in turn, caused problems with the hedge funds that held a short position on the stock – SIGNIFICANT problems.

In effect, the Redditors caused what’s called a “short squeeze” which is a market condition that occurs when investors who are betting against the stock (thinking it will fall in price) are forced to close out their position by buying the stock, which in turn, adds fuel to the fire.

So far this year, the Redditors have cost short-sellers over $19 billion in losses on GameStop alone. Much of Wall Street’s trades are now done by computer algorithm, which almost completely eliminates human involvement. So day traders, and others who may use apps to trade, are an anomaly in an otherwise almost-wholly automated market.

Melvin Capital, a roughly $12 billion hedge fund has suffered a more than 30% decline largely due to its short position in GameStop.

Maplelane Capital, another New York-based hedge fund, similarly faced a decline of about 30%, accoring to The Wall Street Journal’s report.

Andrew Left, a famed short-seller with Citron, also felt the heat from Reddit investors after he predicted last week that the stock would fall by 50%. He ultimately closed out his short in GameStop for a loss, as did Melvin Capital.

The epic short-squeeze in shares of GameStop last week focused attention upon the common practice of Payment For Order Flow by brokerage firms after Robinhood restricted trading in a handful of volatile stocks.

Payment For Order Flow (PFOF) is a practice in which brokerage firms are compensated to route their customers’ trading orders to certain market makers to execute the trades rather than directly to an exchange, which creates a potential conflict of interest between the brokerage and the customer.

The PFOF practice has enabled $0 commission trading, which was jump started by Robinhood’s launch in 2015, and was considered groundbreaking at the time when most investors had to pay upwards of $10 for every buy or sell order.

According to a SEC filing by Robinhood, they make a bulk of their money from the PFOF practice, and generated upwards of $100 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2020 from a number of market makers, including Citadel Securities.

Now, another free-trading brokerage firm is bucking the PFOF practice and shifting its business model to tipping.

In a blog post on Monday, Public.com said it would end the practice of selling its customers’ order flow to market makers, and would instead route them directly to exchanges like the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange.

The company issued a press release which stated in part that they would remove that inherent conflict of interest from their business model, “To align our incentives with those of our members, we will stop participating in the practice of PFOF and instead introduce a tipping feature on trades. Trades will remain commission-free and tipping is entirely optional.”

APEX, which is Public.com’s clearinghouse firm, was notified on January 30 of their intent to be taken off the “PFOF rails,” according to a blog post by the company, noting that all trade orders at the brokerage firm will be directly routed to exchanges for execution. The company said that transition away from PFOF and towards tipping could take a few weeks, but that “Transparency is a core pillar of building trust, and we think it’s important that we live up to our name. Direct routing to the exchanges is more expensive, and therefore we’re turning what used to be a revenue stream (PFOF) into a cost center and we’re optimistic that the difference will be offset by the optional tipping feature.”

Now, nearly every brokerage firm offers $0 commission trading.

But the PFOF practice is facing backlash from many, including venture capital investor Bill Gurley, who tweeted on Sunday, “If the SEC/government wants to ‘fix the plumbing’ the number one thing they should do is ban Payment for Order Flow.”

Gurley said that the practice “smells bad” and is already outlawed in the United Kingdom, and in Canada.


businessinsider.com

We’ve Seen This Before: The Current GameStop Drama Has Grassroots In The 2008 Housing Crash

by Liam O’Hara


• Main Street played by the rules, but Wall Street changed them mid-game.

• Retail traders on Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets had a simple buy-and-hold strategy for an overleveraged short position on GameStop held by Melvin Capital — until Wall Street shut it down.

• The game has been rigged all along and now it’s out in the open for all to see.

It’s been only a few days since news about the feud between Main Street and Wall Street entered the public’s awareness and the internet is already filled with more articles and stories about it than one could realistically hope to keep up with.

As a retail investor who bought a long position in GameStop (I am not a financial advisor, I just like the stock) only hours before its historic ascent, I only have my limited perspective and experience to offer. But, as a millennial who came of age during the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 — and decided to study finance and accounting specifically because of it — I believe I have a somewhat unique, but relatable viewpoint.

For many retail traders, GameStop was a chance to get in on the ground floor of an arguably undervalued stock with the added benefit of watching the high and mighty of Wall Street squirm after being caught in an embarrassing position.

We’ve been through this type of thing before.

It is impossible to escape the fact that many of these small-time traders have vivid memories of the financial equivalent of an atomic bomb that Wall Street and government regulators dropped on the world in 2008. In the fallout of the housing crisis, hundreds of millions of people’s lives were upended.

Save for a few, like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, many Wall Street banks came out ahead because of obscure and convoluted financial derivatives that left regular people holding the bag.

Unemployment skyrocketed, families’ houses were foreclosed on, pensions were decimated, and the middle class was suddenly forced to scrape by just to feed their families. To add insult to injury, the federal government awarded these same banks $700 billion dollars of taxpayer money because they were “too big to fail.”

I was only 18 years old then and didn’t understand much about what was happening, but seeing my family suffer motivated me to learn more, and I’ve learned much since then. In many ways I’ve been waiting 13 years to write about it.

I was raised in a working class family in the suburbs of middle America.

My parents both worked hard to provide the best upbringing and educationavailable to us. Both are college educated and have worked in a variety of jobs, with my mother eventually settling into a role working for the county, and my father working in mortgage lending until the subprime mortgage crisis when he was forced to look for work elsewhere which he found at a large manufacturing company.

As the dust of the crisis settled and the recession loomed on the horizon, my dad was eventually let go during one of the multiple rounds of layoffs by his employer. We were fortunate enough to keep our house, but had little more to spend since most of the jobs available at that point were minimum wage. Between meager wages, intermittent unemployment benefits, and trips to the food banks, we managed to make it through one of the deepest recessions in decades.

In October 2008, two months after I began my freshman year at university (only made possible by generous scholarships), the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, was Read the rest of this entry »

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The Chinese Own Smithfield, And Germans Own Krispy Kreme. Which American Corporation Will Sell Out Next??

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, January 29, 2021

So… today, this morning, I spent about $10 with Krispy Kreme.

If you’re a Southerner reading this, you know what that means.

If you’re not a Southerner, or are otherwise uninformed, Krispy Kreme is the North Carolina-heeadquartered company that has for years made the most delightfully light, fluffy, airy doughnuts.

They’re NOT at all like Dunkin’ Doughnuts, which are heavy, doughy, bread-cake like doughnuts. There is NO comparison whatsoever.

It’s like the difference between a Model-T, and a F1. Even though they’re both cars, they’re worlds apart.

But what I wanted to focus upon is a portion of the brief, pleasant exchange I had with the clerk in the store.

I had decided to stop in as I was returning home from taking Queenie to the veterinarian’s office for ACL surgery today. As I was nearing the area, the thought “doughnuts” occurred to me, and I knew the KK was nearby. As I drew closer, another thought occurred to me: The locally-owned-and-hometown-operated doughnut shop a little further down the road.

Not wanting to drive any further, even though it wasn’t far, per se, I opted for the nearest shop, which was the KK.

Even though I’m not a “shopaholic,” nor adherent, nor promoter of “retail therapy,” I’m fortunate to live in an area that’s conveniently located to many different shops and retailers. Some folks have to drive quite a distance to do so almost anything, whereas I do not. So, I count my blessings, in a manner of speaking.

I had donned a facemask before I walked in, looked around briefly – I was the only customer present – and Read the rest of this entry »

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In his last days in office, Trump gives to the rich.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Good-for-nothing bastard.

The late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had something to say about such abuse:

Whenever the government provides opportunities in privileges for white people and rich people they call it “subsidized” when they do it for Negro and poor people they call it “welfare.”

The fact that is the everybody in this country lives on welfare. Suburbia was built with federally subsidized credit. And highways that take our White brothers out to the suburbs were built with federally subsidized money to the tune of 90 percent.

Everybody is on welfare in this country. 

The problem is that we all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free enterprise capitalism for the poor. That’s the problem.”

From a sermon entitled “The Minister to the Valley,” February 23, 1968, from the archives of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.


Scores Of Private Charitable Foundations Got Paycheck Protection Program Money

https://www.npr.org/2020/12/16/946739398/scores-of-private-charitable-foundations-got-paycheck-protection-program-money

Scores of private charitable foundations, set up by some of the nation’s wealthiest people, received money from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which was created last spring to save jobs at small businesses as the coronavirus tanked the economy.

NPR has identified at least 120 foundations that collectively received more than $7.5 million in PPP funding. That’s a small slice of the overall program, which disbursed about a half-trillion dollars, but some of the foundations are linked to individuals of considerable means: An oil magnate, a cable television tycoon, a dermatologist called the father of modern hair transplantation, and an aviation entrepreneur who founded companies with annual sales of more than a billion dollars.

President Trump speaks as Jovita Carranza, Administrator of the Small Business Administration; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; and Ivanka Trump, advisor to the president, listen during a Paycheck Protection Program event in the East Room of the White House on April 28, 2020.

Recipients also include the Walt Disney Family Foundation, the Read the rest of this entry »

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David Perdue wrote a letter asking the POTUS to import cheap foreign labor.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, December 15, 2020

If you want to know what a person will do, simply look at their past.

That’s a generally good rule to observe, and that principle is found in practically every activity of human life – even in politics.

So, let’s examine Georgia’s Banana Republican Senator David Perdue, who was formerly Dollar General CEO from 2003 to 2007 of the Goodlettsville, TN-based business.

David Perdue has been selling out Americans for a long time. As long as it made a fast buck for him, or whoever hired him, he was okay with that.

A little-known fact about Perdue – but one well worth remembering, and publicizing – who is campaigning against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff (from whom he also hides and refuses to debate), is that when Perdue was Dollar General’s CEO, he was significantly responsible for driving manufacture of most of the company’s merchandise out of America, to Chinese factories. In a 2004 conference call with investors, he said in part that, “We have opened a sourcing office in Hong Kong, and I can tell you we have had a dramatic impact on our business by having direct contact with our manufacturers.”

Of course, Perdue Read the rest of this entry »

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Size Matters: The Beginning Of America’s End Can Be Stopped

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, October 24, 2020

When in the history of our nation have you EVER heard of ANY President denigrating the FBI and other agencies of the United States government – for ANY reason whatsoever?

So, what’s the endgame for the far right?

Total anarchy & chaos, or are they actually going for an authoritarian state?

What’s the difference between “Big Government” and autocracy?

The derisive term “big government” is one used by anti-government anarchists, even though they’d NEVER call themselves that. But then again, White Supremacists don’t call themselves anti-Constitutional terrorists, either.

Frankly, I have long maintained that, contrary to the numerous assertions we’ve heard spouted, our government is NOT “too big,” but rather is TOO SMALL to be either effective, or efficient.

Think of it in restaurant terms.

Go to a 5-star Michelin restaurant, and you’d expect to find only one cook, and one wait staff… right?

OF COURSE NOT!

For such a fine dining experience, with a patronage seating of 100 or so (minus bar space), it would be REASONABLE to have AT LEAST 25, or likely even more, staff of all kinds – ranging from maître d’hôtel, to sous chef, to chef de cuisine, to line cooks, kitchen porters, to wait staff, to sommelier, to bus staff, dishwashers, and others – including bartenders, runners, housekeepers, and more.

The beginning of America’s decline began in earnest with Ronald Reagan, who, in his grandfatherly-like tones, and “aw, shucks” disarming humor, won American’s hearts, and their minds followed. That included Democrats who voted for him in almost unprecedented numbers over incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter who introduced America to Energy Independence, Energy Conservation, Renewable Energy, and placed solar collectors/solar hot water heater panels atop the White House… which were promptly removed by the Reagan administration.

In his first Inaugural Address, “the Great Communicator,” as he was monikered, stated bluntly that “government is the problem.” It never occurred to anyone that if government was the problem, the obvious solution that problem is the elimination of it. And that’s precisely what he and the GOP set out to do. But it wouldn’t be called treason.

Of course, as a VERY skilled orator, having traveled across America on GE’s dime years earlier, he frequently gave talks that were very much sympathetic to BIG BUSINESS interests, all couched in patriotic language.

With his blessing, and encouragement, and the insidiousness of Newt Gingrich of Georgia as Speaker of the House, and their misguided fallacious “Contract With America” the GOP began to Read the rest of this entry »

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Arrogant Kelly Loeffler

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, May 22, 2020

Loeffler: “Not dropping out” of Georgia US Senate race after stock trade controversy law violation

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/499116-loeffler-says-she-wont-drop-out-of-georgia-senate-race-after-stock-trade

Kelly Loeffler was appointed by narrow-margin-of-victory Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp to fill the unexpired term of three-term Georgia Republican US Senator Johnny Isakson who resigned from office at the end of 2019 due to Parkinson’s disease.

The gubernatorially-appointed temporary fill-in “Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler told Politico she is not dropping out of the Georgia Senate special election despite facing scrutiny over $20 million in stock sales she made following a closed-door Senate briefing in January about the coronavirus.

“Not only am I not dropping out, but I’m gonna win,” Loeffler told the news outlet Thursday.

“Loeffler, who is married to New York Stock Exchange CEO Jeff Sprecher, has said she does not control her own stock portfolio and that she was unaware of the exchanges. She has submitted documents to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, both of which are investigating trading action among senators around the coronavirus pandemic.”

Loeffloer’s net worth is reportedly well over $500,000,000, and is being investigted by the FBI and the Senate for suspicious stock sales timing in response to insider knowledge of the coronavirus obtained in the Senate.

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Greedy Corrupt U.S. Senators

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 20, 2020

Appointed Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, R

The United States Senate is controlled by a corrupt cabal of Republicans, none of whom are racial/ethnic minority. It’s LITERALLY (at least on the GOP side) an all-White enclave – with one extraordinary exception: Tim Scott of South Carolina – the Senate’s only Black Republican.

Yesterday at his incessant bully pulpit coronavirus harping press conference, the Liar in Chief claimed to not have known about her insider trades. That, strangely coming from a man who prides himself in, and publicly boasts about having all sorts of knowledge, and whom is known to be well-attuned to media (especially television, and Twitter) of all kinds.

Here’s the pertinent excerpt from the “Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing” (linked above) held in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, April 19, 2020, 6:28 P.M. EDT:

Q: Mr. President, why on that task force did you include Senator Kelly Loeffler? There’s some questions about whether she may have —

THE PRESIDENT: Well, because she’s the senator from a great state, a state that I love: Georgia.

Q: But there’s some insider trading issues with her.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I — that, I don’t know. I really don’t know about that. But she’s a senator from Georgia, and she was included in the list, absolutely.

Go ahead. A couple of more. Go ahead, please. Yeah.

Most folks want to talk about Richard Burr, the first known case of Insider Trading on coronavirus information in the Senate..

But when we’re talking about Insider Trading, let’s not forget the gubernatorially-appointed Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, whom $old million$ of dollar$ of $tock THE VERY DAY (January 24) she attended a private, Senators-only meeting about coronavirus, and Tweeted about it. The Daily Beast was the first news outlet to report her nefarious deed.

But, let’s take a look at who’s shafting the American public by NOT playing fair and square and abusing their insider knowledge:

• Richard Burr, Republican North Carolina Senator – Net Worth $3M+

• Kelly Loeffler, Republican Georgia Senator – Net Worth $500M+

• James M. Inhofe, Republican Oklahoma Senator – Net Worth $9M+

• Ron Johnson, Republican Wisconsin Senator – Net Worth $30M+

Senator Richard Burr, R-NC

• Diane Feinstein, Democrat, California Senator – Net Worth $90M+

Nope, no trend or common denominators at all. Totally random. /sarcasm

All Senators,
80% Republican,
60% Male,
97% White,
100% Multi-Millionaires

• When he retires from the Senate in 2022, Burr will have been in Congress (House & Senate) a TOTAL of 27 years

• Loeffler is married to the CEO of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, and numerous other fims, is a political “newbie” appointed by Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp to temporarily fill the unexpired 2016 term of Johnny Isakson who resigned 31 December 2019 to care for his Parkinson’s disease. Loeffler intends to campaign for the office during a Special Election.

• Inhofe has been in Congress 33 years, and 17 years in Oklahoma State & Local politics TOTAL POLITICAL TIME=50 years

• Johnson is a political newcomer, and was first elected in 2010 to the US Senate
TOTAL POLITICAL TIME=10 years

• Feinstein was first elected to the Senate in 1992, before that she was 18 years in California Local politics
TOTAL POLITICAL TIME=46 years

Here’s a very simple solution:

Require all such financial assets (stocks, bonds, securities, including real estate, etc.) to be placed into a Blind Trust for the duration of their term of office.

Problem solved.

Insider trading by Congress? It’s time to fix the law

By Patrick Augustin, Francis Cong and Marti G. Subrahmanyam, Opinion Contributors — 04/19/20 01:30 PM EDT


Is trading by Congress illegal? Should members of Congress be allowed to trade financial securities that are sensitive to private information? The “coronavirus trades” made by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and his wife just prior to the March ’20 market crash raise these questions and signal the need for changes to the law. Some proposals go as far as banning stock trading by members of congress outright. The other extreme is to allow full discretion. The right solution is in between: Only allowing public officials to trade securities based on broad market indices.

The concern over insider trading by members of Congress is not new. Academic research shows that investment strategies that mimic trades by members of thU.S. Senate and thHouse of Representatives outperform the market by more than Read the rest of this entry »

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Billionaire Explains Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 18, 2020

linkedin.com

Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed (Parts 1 & 2)


By Ray Dalio

Co-Chief Investment Officer & Co-Chairman of Bridgewater Associates, L.P.

Summary

I was fortunate enough to be raised in a middle-class family by parents who took good care of me, to go to good public schools, and to come into a job market that offered me equal opportunity. I was raised with the belief that having equal opportunity to have basic care, good education, and employment is what is fair and best for our collective well-being. To have these things and use them to build a great life is what was meant by living the American Dream.

At age 12 one might say that I became a capitalist because that’s when I took the money I earned doing various jobs, like delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, and caddying and put it in the stock market when the stock market was hot. That got me hooked on the economic investing game which I’ve played for most of the last 50 years. To succeed at this game I needed to gain a practical understanding of how economies and markets work. My exposure to most economic systems in most countries over many years taught me that the ability to make money, save it, and put it into capital (i.e., capitalism) is the most effective motivator of people and allocator of resources to raise people’s living standards. Over these many years I have also seen capitalism evolve in a way that it is not working well for the majority of Americans because it’s producing self-reinforcing spirals up for the haves and down for the have-nots. This is creating widening income/wealth/opportunity gaps that pose existential threats to the United States because these gaps are bringing about damaging domestic and international conflicts and weakening America’s condition.

I think that most capitalists don’t know how to divide the economic pie well and most socialists don’t know how to grow it well, yet we are now at a juncture in which either a) people of different ideological inclinations will work together to skillfully re-engineer the system so that the pie is both divided and grown well or b) we will have great conflict and some form of revolution that will hurt most everyone and will shrink the pie.

I believe that all good things taken to an extreme can be self-destructive and that everything must evolve or die. This is now true for capitalism. In this report I show why I believe that capitalism is now not working for the majority of Americans, I diagnose why it is producing these inadequate results, and I offer some suggestions for what can be done to reform it. Because this report is rather long, I will present it in two parts: part one outlining the problem and part two offering my diagnosis of it and some suggestions for reform.

Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed

Before I explain why I believe that capitalism needs to be reformed, I will explain where I’m coming from, which has shaped my perspective. I will then show the indicators that make it clear to me that the outcomes capitalism is producing are inconsistent with what I believe our goals are. Then I will give my diagnosis of why capitalism is producing these inadequate outcomes and conclude by offering some thoughts about how it can be reformed to produce better outcomes.

Part 1

Where I’m Coming From

I was lucky enough to Read the rest of this entry »

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Welcome to our Incestuous Fiscal Orgy – State Farm Privacy Policy

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, March 5, 2020

Take notice of this text of the upper area of the note:
Why are we sending you a Notice of our Privacy Policy?

“Federal law permits banks, investment companies, and insurance companies to provide all their services under one organization. This same law requires State Farm to share our Notice of Privacy Policy in writing with you each year you are insured with us or maintain an account with us.”

Let me re-emphasize this point:
“Federal law permits banks, investment companies, and insurance companies to provide all their services under one organization.”

This law – the Glass-Steagall Act – since its inception in Great Depression era America in 1933, FORBADE the incestuous fiscal orgy under which this nation now suffers.

The Glass-Steagall Act was the subject of intense lobbying efforts by Banks, Insurance Companies and Stock Brokerage Houses to repeal the law, and especially intensified circa 1960’s, climaxing in the late 1990’s under a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

The 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act allowed commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies to consolidate, or commingle, their business.

Previously, it prohibited any of those institutions (banks, insurance companies, and stock brokerage houses) from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, or insurance company.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, (Public Law 106-102, 113 Stat. 1338, enacted November 12, 1999), was signed into law by President Clinton.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO YOU and ME, AND HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU and ME?

The recent financial melt-down in this nation – now being called “The Great Recession” – is due in large part to the elimination of the Glass-Steagall Act, because the banks that made bad loans, the insurance companies that insured the real estate and commercial paper, and the stock brokerage houses that traded the stocks of both, and owned both, were greedy for more gain, and eventually began to invent complex mechanisms and artificial commercial paper which came to be known as “derivatives.”

In essence, those “derivatives” were based upon Credit Default Swaps – another complex and inherently evil type of financial thing/device – which was described by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in March 2010 as “Credit-default swaps, where you insure your neighbor’s house just to destroy it and make money from it, that’s exactly what we have to curb. We must succeed at putting a stop to the speculators’ game with sovereign states.”

The types of investments that most people tend to be familiar with, such as stocks and bonds, involve betting that a company or government will do well. In stark contrast, a credit default swap (CDS) allows an investor to bet that a certain bond issuer will do poorly, or fail – not be able to meet its obligations. In financial markets, the CDS is sometimes thought of as a form of Read the rest of this entry »

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Even MORE Famous Last Words

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, December 7, 2019

“You all just got a lot richer.”

– POTUS Donald Trump, to friends Friday night, December 22, 2017 at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, FL, after signing his tax cut bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-97)

In response, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders Tweeted that “At least Trump is finally telling the truth about his tax bill.”

The Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan, objective investigative branch of Congress, reported that the Trump tax cuts did not benefit the average American worker. Only $28 Read the rest of this entry »

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How did we ever get into the mess we’re now in?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Democratic Presidential nominee candidates Senators Bernie Sanders (VT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) continue to make the case that corporate America has harmed, and continues harming, the very field upon which they sow the seeds of their profit.

They further make the case that such governmentally-approved behavior is not merely injurious, but is unsustainable – if not fatal – to those same corporations, and ultimately, to the American economy upon which it feeds.

Citing examples of such greed and rapacious corporate profiteering by their über-wealthy owners and Wall Street overlords (to whom they are fiscally accountable and must share profits), and in conjunction with misguided Federal tax policy (led almost in whole part by Republicans), Senators Warren and Sanders show how overseas and foreign “outsourcing” – all in the name of increased corporate profits – have damaged average American families, including the cities, towns, and states wherein they reside, whom have all witnessed and suffered from wholesale corporate abandonment to foreign soil.

Slow learners are discovering that America’s narsicisstic wealthy “businessman” president – whom they elected, hoping he would be their knight in shining armor coming to their economic rescue – has also sold them out for his own self interests, exactly like his party’s predecessors. They were merely expendable pawns whom he deceived in his egocentric reality show/chess game. They’re merely the red-capped collateral damage in his monkey-business trade war.

Nowhere are the result of such policies more
plainly and painfully evident than in middle America,
where once-thriving factories have become hollowed-out shells

the veritable rotting skeletal corporate detritus which has
fostered and driven
the Opioid Epidemic in many states.

Once-renown industrial cities like Detroit, where the Big Three of the automobile industry – Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors – reigned since the early 1900’s, and supplied high-paying Labor Union wages with genuine, and significant healthcare and retirement benefits to generations of families. Children attended well-funded public schools, states and cities prospered, thrived and expanded exponentially. Teens who chose to attend college or university did so without incurring debt, and training for technically-skilled jobs and labor was supported by almost all secondary schools.

Then, as if seemingly unnoticed, small things began to change. It was if America’s hard-working men and women, and middle-class families had become the proverbial frogs in a pot of water, never noticing the water temperature was increasing, until they were boiled to death… while yet alive.

Life-saving medications like insulin for diabetics, antibiotics to treat and cure once-deadly infections, blood pressure medications which reduced strokes and many other hypertension-associated health problems, even the plastic bags which contained Normal Saline – typically given as adjunctive intravenous therapy in hospitals – began to be manufactured overseas, and along with it, came precipitous price hikes. So-called “pharma bros” took shockingly unjust and unimaginably avaricious pecuniary advantage of old-line medications – which had for years been off-patent – and jacked up their prices 5000%, or more, which placed them out of reach for many whose very lives depended upon them.

The giant, sloppy, wet kiss given to the Pharmaceutical Industry by Republicans under President George W. Bush in Medicare Part D didn’t help. Pharmaceutical companies were allowed to, and did, raise their prices, and Medicare – the single largest purchaser of medications in the world – was forbidden from negotiating for better, lower prices by that same law, which in turn, passed the price increases along to the insured, most of whom live on nominal, and fixed incomes.

Exorbitant pharmaceuticals hold patients hostage to disease,
as hapless physicians and feckless regulators are
paralyzed to become
Wall Street extortionists’ socioeconomic ransom.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/southernbreeze/4611472833/

The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” which solidified corporate personhood, and essentially said that “money is free speech” has neither helped. For if money was free speech, then the poor man would have none (thus violating the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and the First Amendment which guarantees Freedom of Speech), and our laws were, and are, written for all equally.

Neither has the subsequent 2014 Alabama case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission which “struck down Read the rest of this entry »

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“Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 15, 2019

Self dealing.

You’d think it was a crime, eh?

But, did you know that it is NOT illegal to shift campaign money into your private account?

Actually, directly, it is.

On their website, the Federal Election Commission states in part that, “Using campaign funds for personal use is prohibited.” (https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/making-disbursements/personal-use/)

They state further that, “Commission regulations provide a test, called the “irrespective test,” to differentiate legitimate campaign and officeholder expenses from personal expenses. Under the “irrespective test,” personal use is any use of funds in a campaign account of a candidate (or former candidate) to fulfill a commitment, obligation or expense of any person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a federal officeholder.”

But indirectly?

That’s a horse of an entirely different color.

In the white-collar criminal underground, that’s called “money laundering,” which is the practice of shifting money through legitimate business enterprises in order to make it appear as if the money was obtained legitimately.

And that is but one reason why the FBI encourages accounting majors in university to consider joining their service – because scouring the financial books of businesses and other entities takes a well-trained eye to discern criminal wrong-doing.

On June 16, 2015, Donald Trump stood in Trump Tower, New York City, and said, “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.” (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-donald-trump-announces-his-presidential-candidacy/)

With that remark in part, he announced his candidacy to be the GOP’s nominee for President.

Of note, that was also when he’d made his now-infamous remark that, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people. It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably — probably — from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”

But earlier – 5 years earlier, in fact – he’d said to Fortune magazine in April 3, 2000, that, “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” (https://fortune.com/2000/04/03/what-does-donald-trump-really-want/)

In December 2018, Forbes magazine reported that Read the rest of this entry »

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POTUS Obama: Sen. Warren is “absolutely wrong” on Trans-Pacific Partnership. But is she?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 2, 2019

Editor’s Note: This article was originally written 11 May 2015, though unpublished. The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), is/was a “free-trade” pact among the nations of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and United States signed on 4 February 2016, though it was NOT ratified, and thus, did NOT take effect. All 12 members nations signed the TPP 4 February 2016.

However, because it was NOT ratified by all signatories before 4 February 2018, it will become effective ONLY after ratification when at least 6 nations with a combined GDP of more than 85% of the GDP of all signatories have signed.

Further, because the United States withdrew from the TPP, it also significantly and adversely affected it. The TPP agreement will become active only after all signatories have ratified it within two years of signing.

—//—

President Obama recently criticized Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) for her clarion call warning of the potential damage the Trans-Pacific Partnership could do to United States’ economy.

Sen. Warren has said that “This is hardly a hypothetical possibility: We are already deep into negotiations with the European Union on a trade agreement and big banks on both sides of the Atlantic are gearing up to use that agreement to water down financial regulations.”

The President countered saying, “This is pure speculation. She and I both taught law school, and you know, one of the things you do as a law professor is you spin out hypotheticals. And this is all hypothetical, speculative.”

President Obama further dismissed her criticisms out of hand saying, she’s absolutely wrong,” about the concerns she and others have raised, and appeared to throw down the gauntlet for open, frank discussion of the still-secret trade pact which would include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

The President gives the USTR broad power to keep secret information about the trade policies it advances and negotiates.

United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) said, “More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing.”

A Senate bill – S. 3225 – which would require the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to disclose all its TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) documents to every member of Congress was introduced May 23, 2012 by Sen. Wyden, who is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness. In that capacity, his office is responsible for conducting oversight over the USTR and trade negotiations.

Speaking from the Senate floor, Sen. Wyden said the purpose of the bill was “to ensure that the laws and policies that govern the American people take into account the interests of all the American people, not just a privileged few. Congress passed legislation in 2002 to form the Congressional Oversight Group, or COG, to foster more USTR consultation with Congress. I was a senator in 2002. I voted for that law and I can tell you the intention of that law was to ensure that USTR consulted with more Members of Congress, not less.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Merry F’n Christmas… there’s not enough love on the borderline, or anywhere else.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Musicians and artists are the voices of the prophets.

They ARE our prophets.

Their consciences are often our nation’s collective voice of conscience. For many radio stations, the only profit they care about is traded on Wall Street, and their consciences are not tethered to trouble, or pricked by care for others’ problems. Their profit is all that matters, for their god is green and cold, and easily fits into any wallet. It has crowded out natural love in the calculi of their now-inhuman hearts.

And, for one reason, or another, it seems that these days, there are very few voices “crying in the wilderness,” or elsewhere, about social injustice.

But three years ago – in 2015 – musician/artist Chip Taylor wrote a song entitled “Refugee Children.” It should be heard by everyone, though it certainly hasn’t.

Whether one is a believer in the story of the virgin birth, or any god, the basic fundamental element of that ageless story is that a small family with a young pregnant bride were refugees, homeless, with only the clothes on their backs.

Any well-read person, regardless of any religious belief, or not, should be familiar with the story told in Read the rest of this entry »

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America To Take 5th Place To Australia On Drone Safety

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, December 24, 2018

But not in ‘Murka. We’se too smart f’dat!

Why can’t America have nice things?

Because the Republicans are stealing the money to pay for any of it, and giving it to their rich friends.

Authorities in Australia have expressed worries about the number of drones being flown in restricted areas in recent months.

Almost 140,000 air travellers were delayed last week after reports of drone sightings caused huge delays at Gatwick Airport in England. UK police are still searching for the culprits, although they have also raised the possibility that witness reports of the aircraft were mistaken.

The incident “highlights” the need for a drone-spotting capability, Casa spokesman Peter Gibson told the news agency Agence France-Presse.

The surveillance system would be able to spot the types of drone being flown, read their serial numbers and work out where the pilot was located, he said.

Efforts to identify pilots would be aided by the introduction of the registration scheme for commercial and casual drone owners, he added.

Anyone breaking rules could face fines of up to 10,000 Australian dollars ($7,058; £5,600) as well as checks on the safety of their craft.

“2019 will be a drone safety crackdown,” said Mr Gibson.

As well as airports and other sensitive locations, the drone-spotting systems will be installed in other places known to be popular with drone owners such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46672940

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Why Alabama Can’t Have Nice Things, Including Internet Service

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, December 21, 2017

Why Can’t Alabama Have Nice Things?
-or-
Why FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal Could Be Good For Alabama’s Economy

Already, following quickly on the heels of GOP FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s (a former corporate lawyer for Verizon) Net Neutrality repeal, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) such as Comcast, Cox Communications, and Frontier Communications have announced increased costs starting January. see: https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2017/12/19/comcast-cox-frontier-net-neutrality/

<sarcasm>I suppose the “savings” regular families get from the GOP’s Tax Scam bill will offset any additional costs.</sarcasm>

Now, here’s the (easy to understand) “deal”:

Those firms want to increase sales, and by extension, increase profits. Not merely margins. In order to do that, one must TRULY compete on a “level playing field.”

But, let’s consider another thought, that being of service. There are, even now, many areas in our nation WITHOUT ISP, or options. It’s VERY “close to home.”

For example, I can drive 30-45 minutes and be in a VERY remote area… which, until this point, had NO ISP, save for satellite service. At my urging, relatives, whose example I am referencing, began to collaborate with their neighbors to get ISP to “lay line” to their, and others’ residences.

They (area residents) were already paying for a service (satellite ISP) which quality was poor, unreliable, and costly. The “wire line” ISP (falsely) claimed that to extend service to that area (even though it was already nearby – at the road), would not be “profitable.” I demurred, urged and encouraged them ALL THE MORE to Read the rest of this entry »

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Follow The Money: Paul Manafort, Donald Trump & Michael Flynn

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 6, 2017

By now, you’ve likely heard, or read about Paul Manafort’s bail being revoked.

Manfort, of course, was briefly then-candidate Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign Manager, and has been arrested by the FBI as part of former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s (b.1944) ongoing investigation into illegal activity by foreign nations in the United States, some of which may have been related to the General Election of 2016.

Manfort (b.1949) is a Georgetown University School of Law-educated attorney, and among other activities, has made his money lobbying for, and advising the national political campaigns of such presidential candidates as Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Robert “Bob” Dole.

Manafort has also advised political campaigns in totalitarian dictatorial regimes, and has lobbied for, advised, and represented some highly unsavory international criminal characters including Read the rest of this entry »

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Charter Schools Hoodwinking Hypocrisy 

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, August 6, 2017

Mark Weber, who blogs as “Jersey Jazzman,” is earning his Doctorate in Research and Statistics while teaching in a New Jersey public school. He is a sharp critic of shoddy research, especially of charter schools’ fantastical claims.

In his latest post, he asks why CREDO, the charter-evaluating institute at Stanford University run by Macke Raymond, continues to use an invalid metric – one which has never been scientifically sound – to evaluate charter schools’ performance.

Journalists, who have little expertise in evaluating research claims, eagerly, though ignorantly, promote such unsound claims by writing things like School X produces an additional “number of days of learning.”

That happened most recently in Texas, where charter schools finally matched the test scores of public schools – aka so-called “failing schools” for which charter schools are supposed to be the rescuers.

Continue learning…
http://wp.me/p2odLa-hSK

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Russia Is Not Now, Nor Has It Ever Been, The United States’ “Friend”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 1, 2017

Recently, in response to posts of the images herein, some made remarks pursuant to Americans’ involvement in Russian matters. More specifically, they concerned visits by retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn’s December 2015 visit to Russia in December, and Rex Tillerson’s 2013 award by Vladimir Putin.

A: “But not from made up stories…..”

In 2013, Vadimir Putin (LEFT) personally awarded Rex Tillerson (RIGHT) with Russia’s Order of Friendship medal, which is the highest honor Russia bestows on foreign citizens, and is given to foreigners whom the Russian government believes have helped Russia and its people.

Me: “The image of United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Putin is from Putin’s award to him with Russia’s Order of Friendship medal in 2013.

“Here’s another goodie!

“Michael Flynn and Vladimir Putin at a 2015 dinner for the RT news channel in Moscow. RT is Russia’s propaganda “news” agency, along with “Sputnik.” Photograph: Michael Klimentyev/ Sputnik/Kremlin/EPA”

A: “You can also find where Obama and his cronies met with Russians too”

Me: When President Obama met with Putin at the G8 and G20 summits, it was in his official capacity as President and world leader.

“When Mike Flynn met with Putin December 10, 2015, he did so as a private citizen/civilian, because he retired from the Army in April 2014 after he had been fired from his position as Director of Defense Intelligence Agency because, which as Colin Powell had been told by Defense Intelligence Agency director Vincent R. Stewart, was because Flynn was “abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc.”

Michael Flynn (seated LEFT, holding device to ear) and Vladimir Putin (seated RIGHT) at a December 10, 2015 dinner for the RT news channel in Moscow. RT is Russia’s propaganda “news” agency, along with “Sputnik.” Photograph: Michael Klimentyev/ Sputnik/Kremlin/EPA

“After he retired from the Army, Flynn went to work for RT, which is the Russian government-supported propaganda agency. Flynn is also a Registered Foreign Agent with the Justice Department.

“In their January 2017 report “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections,” America’s intelligence agencies reported that RT was “The Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet” and that RT America is set up as an autonomous nonprofit organization “to avoid the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”

“Same thing for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – who has never held public office or trust – he was a private citizen when Putin awarded him Russia’s Order of Friendship medal.

“And let me tell you something and make it EXPLICITLY CLEAR:
Anyone friendly to Russia is Read the rest of this entry »

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Free Enterprise And #Beer

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 6, 2017

I am a FIRM PROPONENT of ENTREPRENEURSHIP, FREE ENTERPRISE, and FAIR COMPETITION.

budweiser-beer-original-logoabinbev-china-logoFor that reason, and others, I have NOT purchased an AB-InBev product in quite some time, not only because of the inferior quality of their products, but because it is a greedy, global, monolithic oligopolic (virtually monopoly) enterprise.

It is NOT an American company, and ceased being an American company when it SOLD OUT to the Belgian brewing company InBev for around $52 billion in 2008. From then, the company was named AB-InBev.

Molson Canadian Lager beer, original bottle, brewed in Montreal, CanadaTo add insult to injury, the U.S. Department of Justice OK’d a deal in 2016 in which AB-InBev BOUGHT SABMiller’s U.S. business which in turn, would allow Molson Coors to Read the rest of this entry »

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Citizens United Ruling Violates Equal Protection Clause

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 6, 2017

Nick Hanauer, a multi-billionaire about whom few have likely heard, authored a highly publicized article not too long ago warning about wealth inequity. Increasingly, the wealthy are realizing that a strategy of cutting taxes upon the wealthy and their corporations is not a recipe for American success, precisely for the reason that it adversely affects economic infrastructure, and jobs, among other damages.

However, one needn’t be wealthy to realize and understand that money, and the unreasonable desire for it known as avarice (an extreme form of greed), and the unwieldy power that accompanies it, are corrupting influences in any nation, and particularly in our United States because of SCOTUS ruling in the 2010 Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision which Read the rest of this entry »

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Thoughts On Fidel Castro’s Death & American Foreign Policy

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cuban President Raoul Castro – Fidel Castro’s younger brother – announced on Cuban television late last night (Friday, 25 November 2016) that Fidel had recently died, aged 90.

There are powerful lessons in Cuba for America.
Among them:

• When Corporations rule government, corruption inevitably ensues.

• American Foreign Policy has almost always favored Corporate Business Interests, especially in modern history.

• For well over 60 years, American Foreign Policy has largely been a disastrous failure.

The United States had dominated Cuba ever since the island nation became independent from Spain following the Spanish-American War in 1898, and Castro deeply distrusted America for that reason. Shortly after he assumed power in Cuba, at the invitation the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Fidel Castro made his only trip to the United States, and later met with then-Vice President Richard Nixon April 15, 1959 shortly before returning to Cuba. Eisenhower purposely avoided Castro, and specifically played golf that day to avoid any possible opportunity of meeting with him. Within four months of Castro’s trip to Washington D.C., the Eisenhower administration had drawn up a plan to overthrow him.

“In a manner certain to antagonize the Cuban people, we used the influence of our Government to advance the interests of and increase the profits of the private American companies, which dominated the island’s economy. At the beginning of 1959 U.S. companies owned about 40% of the Cuban sugar lands – almost all the cattle ranches – 90% of the mines and mineral concessions – 80% of the utilities – and practically all the oil industry – and supplied two-thirds of Cuba’s imports.”

Remarks of then-Senator John F. Kennedy at a Democratic Dinner, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 6, 1960, from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

Acknowledging that it was a “glaring failure of American foreign policy… that our own shortsighted policies helped make,” then-Senator John F. Kennedy, remarked at a Democratic Dinner, Cincinnati, Ohio, October 6, 1960 that Cuban regime change under Castro ended in the overthrow of the brutal, bloody, and despotic dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.”

Ironically, under Batista, the twice-president tyrannical military dictator of Cuba, the idyllic island nation was Read the rest of this entry »

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Criticizing Stephen Hawking

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Renown astrophysicist Stephen Hawking appeared on the Larry King Now show June 2016, and was interviewed by the esteemed long-time journalist.

In the interview, among the comments Hawking made was that “We certainly have not become less greedy or less stupid. The population has grown by half a billion since our last meeting, with no end in sight. At this rate, it will be eleven billion by 2100.”

News of the interview was covered by USA Today, and subsequently by The Intellectualist website, both which focused upon Professor Hawking‘s remark as referenced above.

This is worth noting:
The article quoted Hawking as saying, Read the rest of this entry »

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On Executive Compensation

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Mosaic Scriptural principle (which is also referenced in the New Testament) that “you should not muzzle the ox that treads out the grain” is certainly a principle with and by which we should compensate people for their labor. However, there is little disagreement that the committees that set the rewards far too often overcompensate those whom are charged with organizational oversight.

There is something to be said for fair and just compensation according to the terms of a contract, and the wishes and desires of those whom issue them. 

Why then, is it that when Read the rest of this entry »

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Strain A Gnat, Swallow A Camel: How the Church has ignored Christian Principles to their peril

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 20, 2015

In 9 Sins the Church Is Okay With, Frank Powell asks “Are we changing the Bible to fit our culture or are we changing our culture to fit the Bible?”

“What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat to your joy and the church’s mission?

“Maybe it’s the sins lying underneath, the ones considered normal or acceptable, the ones going undetected, that are affecting the church the most.”

His questions are, of course, spot on.

In fact, one could hardly argue with the evidence which consists of vast, tax-free empires built upon the backs of the faithful by the likes of:
Joel Osteen (USA) Net Worth $40 Million;
Robert Tilton (USA) Net Worth $830 Million;
Benny Hinn (USA) Net Worth $42 Million;
Joyce Meyer (USA) Net Worth $8 Million;
Kenneth Copeland (USA) Net Worth UNKNOWN (has claimed he’s a billionaire, no such public records exist documenting his claim);
Creflo Dollar (USA) Net Worth $27 Million;
Eddie Long (USA) Net Worth $5 Million;
Randy & Paula White (USA) Net Worth $2 Million;
Joseph Prince (Singapore) Net Worth $5 Million;
Chris Okotie (Nigeria) Net Worth $10 Million;
Matthew Ashimolowo of Nigeria Net Worth $10 Million;
T.B. Joshua (Nigeria) Net Worth $15 Million;
T. D. Jakes (USA) Net Worth $18 Million;
Paul (late) & Jan Crouch (USA) Net Worth (estimated TBN $1 Billion+);
Chris Oyakhilome (Nigeria) Net Worth $50 Million;
David Oyedepo (Nigeria) Net worth: $150 Million.

Obviously, their “prosperity gospel” message is working quite well for them.

For others, no so much.

And that’d probably cover Avarice, Hubris, and Boasting – or, if you prefer, Greed, Extravagance, and Pride.

But there again, our nation’s laws actually encourage greed through religion by not taxing churches. In fact, John Oliver recently pointed out that “U.S. tax law allows television preachers to get away with Read the rest of this entry »

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Sodomy: A prime example of what’s wrong with #ALpolitics

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 12, 2015

A dear friend who is a long-time retiree, aged 78 years, entire subsistence is from a meager pension (earned from a lifetime of work in a unionized organization), supplemented with a paltry Social Security check.

She’s lived through breast cancer surgery (mastectomy) & reconstruction, other major surgeries (knee replacements) and procedures, and lives in a trailer which she owns, situated upon a lot which she rents. She has resided there many, many years.

To save money, she recently Read the rest of this entry »

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How Much Could Alabama Save By Not Paying Legislators?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, April 30, 2015

UPDATE: Sunday, 14 June 2015 – Found following main body

Today (Thursday, 30 April 2015) the Alabama State Senate knocked off at 11:30, and reconvened 1PM. It’s also the final day of the Legislative Session for the week – they only work three days each week – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

An hour and a half – that’s a nice, long lunch break for a wealthy man, a powerful man – not a working man. It’s pretty cushy for someone who works three days a week, only 30 days a year. Reckon how your boss would respond if you asked for a three-day work week and a 30-day work year?

How long do you get for lunch?

Most folks get 30 minutes.

The Alabama Senate gets THREE times longer than most working folks.

But then, excesses in Alabama state politics is nothing new.

Recall that – by law – the Alabama Legislature is limited to work <30 days/year (in a 105 day period) & for that privilege, citizens & taxpayers fork over $50K+/yr in pay & compensation to them – 35 in the Senate, and 105 in the House.
TOTAL=140 men (mostly) & women.

In stark contrast, New Mexico’s State Legislators are a Volunteer Legislature (they’re elected, yes, but unpaid), and during Session, by State Law receive a Daily Federal Per Diem, and Two-Way Mileage once during a session EXCLUSIVELY.

Legislative pay in Alabama has been a hot-button issue, particularly in recent years – and, it’s unnecessarily complicated. By State Constitutional Law, their “official” pay is Read the rest of this entry »

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To What Extent is the American Economy Propped Up by Arms Sales?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What should one expect when the whole damn defense industry has been whored out to arm the krazees of the world?

In a very prophetic manner, in his Farewell Address to the nation, January 17, 1961, then-President Dwight David Eisenhower warned about the “military industrial complex,” saying:

“We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations.

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

US sells $11 BILLION worth of arms to Qatar

Published time: July 15, 2014 09:46
Edited time: July 16, 2014 12:55

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Qatar's Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah (C) arrive for a weapons sales signing ceremony at the Pentagon on July 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah (C) arrive for a weapons sales signing ceremony at the Pentagon on July 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (L) and Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Atiyah (C) arrive for a weapons sales signing ceremony at the Pentagon on July 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)

Washington and Doha have signed the largest arms deal of the year, preparing to enhance Qatar’s military capabilities with $11 billion-worth of Apache assault helicopters, PAC-2 missile defense complexes and Javelin man-portable anti-tank missiles.

The deal has been signed on Monday in Pentagon by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Qatari Defense Minister Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah. Altogether Qatar is buying 10 batteries of Patriot missile defense systems and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles manufactured by US defense industry giants Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, and 24 Apache helicopters made by Boeing, an anonymous US official told the AFP.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Who Pays Unskilled Labor US $80,000/year?!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, June 22, 2014

“For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
-1Tim5:18

Lately, much has been made of raising the Minimum Wage, which does nothing more than establish a minimum standard.

But who cares about minimums?

We should strive to exceed!

Some well-known, publicly-traded, highly profitable firms, however, revel in greed, and wallow in the slop, when they can do far better for the employees who operate their businesses.

The question is often asked “why pay unskilled workers $10 or even more per hour?”

It’s a valid question, and deserves a genuinely thoughtful response.

So, let’s pose that question to BIG OIL COMPANIES in Williston, North Dakota, where…

“oilfield companies pay unskilled 19 year-olds $80,000 a year.”

 

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/mall-middle-what-used-be-nowhere

by Dan Weissmann
Monday, June 16, 2014 – 15:21

Williston, North Dakota, has the nation’s highest rents. Thanks to the fracking boom, a basic apartment in Williston costs more than something similar in New York or San Francisco. And it comes with a lot fewer amenities.

For instance, shopping. If Walmart doesn’t have it, the nearest outlet is at least two hours away. Now, a Swiss investment firm has announced plans to Read the rest of this entry »

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BIG OIL’s Corrupting Influence in American Politics: Propping up Corrupt Regimes to Prop Up Profits

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, March 7, 2014

Report

Slick Moves

The SEC could help tackle corruption in resource-rich countries around the world — but the oil industry is getting in the way.

Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, is regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And American oil lobbyists are only making the situation worse: They are exploiting Angola by seeking to delay and weaken the implementation of a crucial U.S. transparency law.

That law, Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act, also known as the Cardin-Lugar amendment, promises a breakthrough in preventing dirty deals and illicit payments being made for natural resources around the world, similar to the shady transaction recently uncovered by Foreign Policy. If implemented fully, the law would make U.S. oil and mining companies disclose the payments they make to governments across the world, including in Angola. However, oil lobbyists have been making misguided arguments that laws in Angola and three other countries prevent the required disclosures.

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig

Off Shore Oil Drilling Rig – MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

Angolan officials secretly profiting from the country’s oil riches is not a surprise. It is only the latest episode in a sad history that goes back for decades. Global Witness, where we work, began exposing the complicity of the international oil and banking industries in the plundering of state assets during Angola’s 40-year civil war in our 1999 report A Crude Awakening. This was followed by our 2002 report All the Presidents’ Men, which called on the oil companies operating in Angola to “Publish What You Pay” (PWYP). Under this rallying call, Global Witness co-launched the PWYP campaign, which is now an international coalition of more than 790 civil society organizations in over 60 countries, including Angola, advocating for transparency laws such as Section 1504.

These efforts are intended to prevent scandals similar to the Trafigura deal covered in Foreign Policy, which provide a glimpse of the endemic corruption in Angola‘s oil industry. Only a few days before Foreign Policy published its story, media reports about leaked documents relating to other corruption claims caused the share price of SBM Offshore, a Dutch oil services company operating in Angola, to plummet 17.9 percent when markets opened. SBM released a statement challenging the validity of the leaked documents, saying that they are partial, taken out of context, contain outdated information, and are not representative of the facts. SBM had also already disclosed to its investors that it was conducting an internal investigation into questionable payments in Angola. However, the dramatic stock drop suggests that SBM investors had not anticipated the scale of the corruption risk exposure.

Another oil services company active in Angola, Weatherford International, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and headquartered in Switzerland, has recently pleaded guilty to violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including bribery of the executives of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil company. It has agreed to pay fines of $253 million to settle the case, one of the largest FCPA settlements ever.

These cases illustrate the urgent need for transparency in Angola’s oil sector. The successful implementation of Read the rest of this entry »

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Cullman Alabama Used Car Dealer Pleads Guilty: Cheated Active Duty National Guardsman, Violated Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, July 4, 2013

Reverend Carl Ralph Nuss, Cullman, Alabama, has plead GUILTY to violating Federal Law - Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Reverend Carl Ralph Nuss, Cullman, Alabama, has plead GUILTY to violating Federal Law – Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

This is how he treats our troops?

I have nothing good to say about this, save that he plead guilty.

I hope the judge gives this criminal the maximum sentence.

And you know what else is REALLY sad?

Reverend Carl R. Nuss

Reverend Carl R. Nuss

Carl R. Nuss is a minister of the Gospel.

Apparently – and sadly so – he doesn’t know the Gospel too well.

Hopefully, this criminal and his criminal enterprise will soon be put out of business.

Cullman Car Dealer Pleads Guilty to Violating Legal Protections for Active-Duty Service Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 27, 2013

BIRMINGHAM – A Cullman used car dealer pleaded guilty today for violating federal protections for active-duty military service members by refusing to reduce the loan interest rate and repossessing the vehicle he sold to a man who was later deployed overseas with the Alabama National Guard, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr.

CARL RALPH NUSS, 75, entered his guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Harwell G. Davis III to the two counts of the March indictment charging him with violating Read the rest of this entry »

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How much is enough? A guide to dissatisfaction & satiety.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, June 9, 2013

Late Southern humorist & columnist Lewis Grizzard once wrote a book entitled “Elvis is dead, and I don’t feel so good myself.” The title seems apropos, especially since economics is colloquially known as “the dismal science.” 

And then, there’s former Soviet Union premier Nikita Khrushchev who once famously said during the early stages of the Cold War in 1956, “We will bury you!

Either way, it means somebody’s gonna’ die.

Considering the implications, however, I ask these questions:

How many beds can a man sleep in at once? How many meals does he need before he is full? In how many cars can he ride at once? In how many showers can he bathe at once? How many shoes can he wear at once? In how many houses can he live at once?

How much is enough?

A pessimist’s guide to the Great Recession

Review by Ferdinando Giugliano
June 9, 2013 4:36 pm
A provocative critique of policy makers’ response to the economic crisis

When the Money Runs Out: The End of Western Affluence,
by Stephen King, Yale University Press, RRP£20/RRP$30

Academic debates over the right policy response are one of the few abundant commodities during an economic crisis. Just as in the 1930s and 1970s, the financial crisis that began in the late 2000s has divided economists into two camps. The neo-Keynesian troops have Read the rest of this entry »

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Smithfield Foods Chinese Pork Project is a Wall Street Happy Meal Deal: American Prices Will Increase

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, May 29, 2013

If you like bacon, ham, pork sausage, barbecue, ribs, or any other pork product – including cold cuts & pizza – get ready to pay at least 2 – 4 times more, and for shortages.

Why?

Wall Street minions – who manage Smithfield, an American company no more – have no patriotic qualms about taking food off your table and out of your mouth to feed the mouths of the people who steal our nation’s military secrets, defraud our motion picture & music copyrights, and have an historical track record of Shanghai-ing anyone & everyone who gets in their way.

You think I’m kidding, or that I don’t know what I’m writing about?

Just recollect back a few months – oh, say about 7 – to Thanksgiving in November 2012 when pecans were 2x – 3x the price they were usually.

And why was that?

After all, pecan farmers had a record bumper crop… and that typically translates into lower prices for consumers.

It’s because the Chinese suddenly discovered they liked pecans, and were willing to pay premium prices (translate: much MORE then you’re willing to pay), and so the growers shipped pecans over to China.

As I continue to contend, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

Okay… so it may cost more. So what?

How about this?

Were you aware that the Chinese company that bought Smithfield sold pigs that had been fed a substance banned in the USA & England & other nations?

Yup.

Shuanghui Group, China’s largest meat processor, sold pigs fed Clenbuterol in 2011. Here are three links about the ordeal.

And, would it surprise you to find out that Goldman Sachs is one of the top investors?

1.) “According to Chinese government data, 18 outbreaks of food-related clenbuterol poisoning occurred between 1998 and 2007. The most recent report indicates one person died and more than 1,700 others fell ill.”

2.) “Meanwhile, at Jiyuan Shuanghui’s processing facilities, of the 689 pigs awaiting slaughter, 19 tested positive for clenbuterol. Shuanghui, which counts Goldman Sachs among its investors, has shut down the Jiyuan branch affected by the contamination so it can conduct its own inspection.”

3.) “And in recent months the additive has earned notoriety in China after a string of people got sick from eating pork products full of it. Hundreds took ill in one incident in March, and this week, 286 people in Hunan province after eating pork contaminated with ractopamine, a chemical very similar to clenbuterol. Chinese livestock farmers began using clenbuterol in pig feed in the late 1980s to boost growth and get animals to market faster, but it was banned in 2002 as the health risks of eating the meat became better understood. Clenbuterol-tainted meat dizziness, headaches, hand tremors, and other unpleasantness. It’s especially risky for people with heart troubles.”

Shuanghui Agrees to Acquire Smithfield Foods for $4.72B

By Shruti Date Singh and Jeffrey McCracken – May 29, 2013

Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest pork producer, agreed to acquire Smithfield Foods Inc. (SFD) for about $4.72 billion to boost supplies for the nation that’s the biggest consumer of the meat.

Closely held Shuanghui, parent of Henan Shuanghui Investment & Development Co. (000895), will pay $34 a share for the Smithfield, Virginia-based producer, both companies said today in a statement. The offer is 31 percent more than yesterday’s closing share price.

China’s consumption of pork is rising with the expansion of its middle class while there are questions being asked about the safety of the country’s food supply. Smithfield’s livestock unit is the world’s largest hog producer, bringing about 15.8 million of the animals to market a year, according to the company’s website. It owns 460 farms and has contracts with 2,100 others across 12 U.S. states.

The takeover is valued at $7.1 billion including debt, which would make it the largest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company, according to Read the rest of this entry »

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Senator Jeff Sessions REFUSES to give up part of his salary for sequestration

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 27, 2013

Be sure to ask Sen. Sessions if he is going to voluntarily give up a portion of his Senatorial salary since the Senate last month passed a measure urging their members to forgo 20% of their salaries as part of sequestration.

Kudos, however, to Sen. Bob Corker R-TN, who has NEVER pocketed any of his Senate salary.

Why?

He donates it ALL to charity.

Why?

He’s worth over $19 Million.

Few senators sacrifice pay amid cuts

By Russell Berman – 04/03/13 05:00 AM ET

Only a few senators are planning to forfeit a portion of their salaries to charity or the U.S. Treasury while sequestration is in effect, according to a survey conducted by The Hill.

The Senate last month passed a measure urging members of the upper chamber to forgo 20 percent of their salary during sequestration. Most senators, however, are keeping quiet on whether they will follow through.

During a marathon session of budget votes, the Senate approved by voice vote an amendment from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) calling on lawmakers to donate 20 percent of their pay to charity or return it to the U.S. Treasury.In his floor speech, Graham noted that about 500,000 to 600,000 federal employees will be furloughed because of sequestration and that senators should “feel what other people are feeling.”

Yet in a survey of Senate offices by The Hill, only Graham and Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) have indicated they would give up some of their take-home pay.

In a recent press release, Begich — who is up for reelection in 2014 — said Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama residents overcharged for electricity by Alabama Power

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 20, 2013

Despite cheaper production costs, Alabama Power bills higher than Georgia Power

By Ben Raines | braines@al.com
January 20, 2013 at 6:11 AM, updated January 20, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Though it costs less to produce power in Alabama, the state’s residents and businesses pay more for electricity than customers in neighboring Georgia.

The price difference is substantial, according to an AL.com analysis of the annual reports of Alabama Power and Georgia Power, sister companies owned by Southern Co.

Between 2006 and 2011, Alabama Power produced the electricity sold to residential and commercial customers for $1.1 billion less than Georgia Power would have spent to make the same amount of electricity.

But despite that savings, Alabama Power charged its residential and commercial customers $1.5 billion more for electricity than Georgia Power would have charged during the six-year period.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Grand total
Difference in Alabama’s higher rates versus Georgia Power rates for commercial and residential $181 million $279 million $330 million $316 million $377 million $33 million $1,517,725,500

Alabama Power executives said that it was Read the rest of this entry »

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Another Example of how Corporate Greed Killed American Jobs

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, January 12, 2013

This time, it’s Hawaiian Pineapple Production.

And, it’s an old story.

Del Monte to End Pineapple Production in Hawaii

Last Crop Will Be Harvested in 2008

By , About.com Guide

Del Monte to End Pineapple Production in Hawaii

Pineapple Growing in Central Oahu;
Photo by John Fischer

Sugar and Pineapple – those two words used to be synonymous with Hawaii. In a year where Hawaiians of Filipino decent are celebrating their 100th anniversary in the islands, one of the two cash crops which brought them to Hawaii along with immigrants from China and Japan is facing another long-time grower abandoning the islands for cheaper production elsewhere.Where once sugar cane and pineapple fields were strewn across most of the Hawaiian islands, now you’ll find housing developments, resort hotels and condominiums and more often, just barren fields.

Del Monte to Cease Pineapple Production in Hawaii

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. announced last week that after 90 years in Hawaii, they will plant their last crop of pineapple on Oahu this month and will cease all operations by 2008 when that crop is harvested.Citing the expense of Read the rest of this entry »

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Investigation: Twinkies maker Hostess Brands stole employee pension funds.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, December 29, 2012

It’s been amazing to me to hear that many who have followed this issue – or even had some passing familiarity with the story – have been so blatantly ignorant of the abuses and frauds perpetrated by the corporate executives of the Hostess Corporation. Frankly, those who demonized the unfortunate demise of this iconic American enterprise blamed unions, and completely overlooked corporate malfeasance. However, this enterprise, which, in the course of their operations, once treated their employees well, was miserably raped by greedy and incompetent executives. Why they have not been charged with theft or fraud is beyond my comprehension.

Hostess Maneuver Deprived Pension

By JULIE JARGON, RACHEL FEINTZEIG And MIKE SPECTOR

  • Updated December 9, 2012, 8:03 p.m. ET

Hostess Brands Inc. said it used wages that were supposed to help fund employee pensions for the company’s operations as it sank toward bankruptcy.

Ryan Nicholson for The Wall Street Journal

After nearly 22 years at Hostess, former forklift operator Craig Davis is pondering his future on the front porch of his home in Emporia, Kan.

It isn’t clear how many of the Irving, Texas, company’s workers were affected by the move or how much money never wound up in their pension plans as promised.

After the company said in August 2011 that it would stop making pension contributions, the foregone wages weren’t put toward the pension. Nor were they restored.

After nearly 22 years at Hostess, former forklift operator Craig Davis is pondering his future on the front porch of his home in Emporia, Kansas. Ryan Nicholson for The Wall Street Journal

After nearly 22 years at Hostess, former forklift operator Craig Davis is pondering his future on the front porch of his home in Emporia, Kansas. Ryan Nicholson for The Wall Street Journal

The maker of Twinkies, Ho-Hos and Wonder Bread filed for bankruptcy protection in January and shut down last month following a strike by one of the unions representing Hostess workers. A judge is overseeing the sale of company assets.

Gregory Rayburn, Hostess’s chief executive officer, said in an interview it is “terrible” that employee wages earmarked for the pension were steered elsewhere by the company.

“I think it’s like a lot of things in this case,” he added. “It’s not a good situation to have.”

Mr. Rayburn became chief executive in March and learned about the issue shortly before the company shut down, he said. “Whatever the circumstances were, whatever those decisions were, I wasn’t there,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Hostess’s previous top executive, Brian Driscoll, declined to comment.

Hostess hasn’t previously acknowledged that the foregone wages went toward its operations.

The maneuver probably doesn’t violate federal law because the money Hostess failed to put into the pension didn’t come directly from employees, experts said.

“It’s what lawyers call betrayal without remedy,” said James P. Baker, a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP who specializes in employee benefits and isn’t involved in the Hostess case. “It’s sad, but that stuff does happen, unfortunately.”

The decision to cease pension contributions angered many employees. After the bankruptcy filing, Hostess tangled with Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Business Profit Model Harms Long Term Profitability

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Perhaps the most telling rationale, or motivation for the course upon which corporations have set is explained in this statement by ANDREW SMITHERS: Yes, the current way in which managements are rewarded is perverse from an economic viewpoint. Adam Smith pointed out that some characteristics of human beings such as greed, which are often unpleasant at a personal level, can nonetheless bring social benefits. But this is not necessarily the case under current remuneration systems; greed is increasingly the cause of harm rather than help to the economy.

The long and short of it, is greed. And in that paragraph is the solitary mention of the word or practice.

Philosophically, this time, this period in our nation’s history – and in the history of the world, and in the greater, long term picture of humanity – is yet another prime example, and case in point illustrating why and how the selfishness of greed is unsustainable and genuinely evil.

Capital Wins, Labor Loses, But Andrew Smithers Says It Can’t Go On

MAKING SENSE — December 26, 2012 at 4:48 PM EDT

BY: PAUL SOLMAN

Warehouse manager at operations desk on computer. Photo courtesy of John McBride & Company Inc.

Warehouse manager at operations desk on computer. Photo courtesy of John McBride & Company Inc.

Paul Solman: Jon Shayne is not just the world’s No. 1 econo-crooner, belting out economics tunes of his own invention under the stage name Merle Hazard at his own website and for the PBS NewsHour audience on inflation, on the Greek debt crisis, on the euro crisis in general, on too-big-to-fail banks, and most recently, on the fiscal cliff.

No, Shayne/Hazard is no one-trick pony. He is also a noted money manager, recently highlighted by Forbes magazine for his perspicacity in stock-picking. Wrote Forbes: “If you follow the stock market, Jon Shayne is worth a good, long listen. Especially now.”

Having listened to Jon plenty over the past few years, I agree, especially with his emphasis on the increasing share of national income commanded by the owners of capital, in contrast to labor. This angle is the focus of Forbes’ story as well.

So I asked Jon to elaborate for the Making Sen$e audience. He has done so by interviewing the person who inspired his thoughts on the subject, British economist Andrew Smithers, who formerly ran the asset management business of S.G. Warburg, and now Read the rest of this entry »

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Research: WalMart’s Low Wages Burden Taxpayers

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, November 23, 2012

The high cost of low living…

“Walmart’s employees receive $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store.
They are also the top recipients of Medicaid in numerous states.
Why does this occur?
Walmart fails to provide a livable wage and decent healthcare benefits, costing U.S. taxpayers an annual average of $1.02 billion in healthcare costs.

This direct public subsidy is being given to offset the failures of an international corporate giant who shouldn’t be shifting part of its labor costs onto the American taxpayers.”

You’re the life of the party, everybody’s host
Still you need somewhere you can hide
All your good time friends
And your farewell to has-beens
Lord knows, just along for the ride

You think you’re a survivor
But boy, you better think twice
No one rides for nothin’
So, step up and pay the price

Dedicated to the GOP & other radical TEApublicans who worship the “almighty” dollar, tax cuts for the über wealthy, and their multinational corporate prophets.


Hidden Taxpayer Costs

Disclosures of Employers Whose Workers and Their Dependents are Using State Health Insurance Programs

Updated January 18, 2012

Since the mid-20th Century, most Americans have obtained health insurance through workplace-based coverage. In recent years there has been a decline in such coverage caused by a rise in the number of jobs that do not provide coverage at all and growth in the number of workers who decline coverage because it is too expensive.

Faced with the unavailability or unaffordability of health coverage on the job, growing numbers of lower-income workers are turning to taxpayer-funded healthcare programs such as Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

This trend is putting an added burden on programs that are already under stress because of fiscal constraints caused by medical inflation and federal cutbacks. Many states are curtailing benefits and tightening eligibility requirements.

It also raises the issue of whether states are being put in a position of subsidizing the cost-cutting measures of private sector employers.

Across the country, policymakers and others concerned about the healthcare system are pressing for disclosure of information on those employers whose workers (and their dependents) end up in taxpayer-funded programs.

The following is a summary of the employer disclosure that has come to light so far. It includes two cases (Massachusetts and Missouri) in which the information was produced as a result of legislation. The other cases involved requests by legislators or reporters. The latter situations have sometimes resulted in data that are incomplete or imprecise, which suggests that only legislatively mandated, systematic disclosure will tell the whole story.

This compilation was originally produced by Good Jobs First as part of its preparation of testimony given before the Maryland legislature on an employer disclosure bill. A version of that testimony can be found here [1].

Alabama
In April 2005 the Mobile Register published an article citing data from the Alabama Medicaid Agency on companies in the state with employees whose children are participating in Medicaid. The newspaper obtained a list from the agency of 63 companies whose employees had 100 or more children in the program as of mid-March 2005. At the top of the list was Wal-Mart, whose employees had 4,700 children in the program. Following it were McDonald’s (1,931), Hardee’s (884) and Burger King (861). The data were similar to information obtained from the same agency by the Montgomery Advertiser two months earlier.

Sources: Sean Reilly, “Medicaid Providing Health Care for Kids of Working Families,” Mobile Register, April 17, 2005 and John Davis and Jannell McGrew, “Health Plans Not Family Friendly,” Montgomery Advertiser, February 22, 2005, p.B6.

Arizona
In July 2005 the state Department of Economic Security issued data on the largest private employers with workers receiving taxpayer-financed medical insurance through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. At the top of the list was Wal-Mart, with about 2,700 workers–or 9.6 percent of its Arizona workforce–participating in the program. It was followed by Read the rest of this entry »

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Hostess with the mostess? Try CEO with the mostess. Hostess executives attempted to deceive investors, creditors & legal system before filing bankruptcy.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, November 19, 2012

As the saying goes, It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”

At this point, apparently, she’s not yet begun, although she is “in the house.”

And, from our “WTF?!?” files, comes this item:

In early February, Hostess had asked the bankruptcy judge to approve a sweet new employment deal for Driscoll. Its terms guaranteed him a base annual salary of $1.5 million, plus cash incentives and “long-term incentive” compensation of up to $2 million. If Hostess liquidated or Driscoll were fired without cause, he’d still get severance pay of $1.95 million as long as he honored a noncompete agreement.

The committee representing Hostess’s unsecured creditors alleges that information it has gathered suggests “the possibility” that the company converted a chunk of its top executives’ pay from performance-based bonuses to salary, “at least in part to sidestep” rules designed to ensure that companies in bankruptcy aren’t enticing their employees to stay on board with the promise of cash, according to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, N.Y.

This solitary example is a wonderful one for illustrating what is WRONG with corporate governance and corporate operations in the United States. It’s an even more sad commentary that laws must be enacted to require people to do the right thing. At this juncture, the judge overseeing the Hostess Brands Inc. bankruptcy is doing precisely that.

Hostess and Bakers Union Asked Accept Strike Mediation

The judge overseeing Hostess Brands Inc. declined to approve the company’s liquidation today and asked management and the bakers’ union to enter mediation tomorrow to resolve the strike that the maker of Twinkies and Wonder bread said forced it to shut.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain said at a hearing in White Plains, New York, that there are “serious questions as to the logic behind the decision to strike.” Hostess and the bakers’ union agreed to Drain’s request to enter confidential mediation under his supervision.

“To me, not to have gone through that step leaves a huge question mark over this case which I think will only be answered in litigation,” Drain said. “My desire to do this is prompted primarily by the potential loss of over 18,000 jobs, as well as my belief that there is a possibility to resolve this matter, notwithstanding the losses the debtors have incurred over the last week or so.”

Hostess CEO & executive pay outrageous

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Hostess hasn’t spoken with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union since August, said Heather Lennox, a lawyer for the company. Hostess is seeking permission from Drain to pay bonuses to key managers while closing operations that will leave most of its 18,500 workers unemployed. Any agreement arising from the mediation would probably come too late to save the company, Lennox said.

“Things have gone too far to repair themselves under the current form,” Lennox, a partner at Jones Day, told Drain. “It would be very hard for us to recover from this damage even if there were to be an agreement in the near term.”

‘Best Shot’

“Our best shot is to see what we can sell as going concerns and have the company continue that way,” she said. The hearing to consider Hostess’s request to wind down was postponed until Nov. 21.

Hostess said Nov. 16 that it would shut, claiming that a weeklong strike by the bakers’ union forced liquidation. The union blamed management’s concession demands, while some employees blamed both sides. Strikers were still outside the company’s facilities today, Hostess’s lawyers said.

Corrina Christensen, a spokeswoman for the bakers’ union, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the mediation.

Teamsters

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, whose members distribute Hostess products, had ratified a new contract with 8 percent in wage concessions and 17 percent in benefit reductions.

“The Teamsters will closely monitor the mediation between the BCTGM and Hostess management and assist in any way we can to help the two sides reach an agreement that keeps the company’s doors open,” Ken Hall, the Teamsters general secretary- treasurer, said today in a statement.

The judge may be creating risk for both sides that encourages them to reach a deal, Ken Russak, a bankruptcy attorney at Frandzel Robins Bloom & Csato in Los Angeles, said today in an interview. “The bankruptcy judge would much prefer to have the parties work something out than having to Read the rest of this entry »

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The Oracle at Delphi: Mitt Romney’s direct tie to increased unemployment in North Alabama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, October 20, 2012

The average reader may not be aware that there was once a huge Delphi plant in Limestone county, Alabama, which facility was located directly across from Calhoun Community College.

American Industry... closed. - M1510 h712

Mitt Romney owned a significant interest in a firm that profited by laying off workers, dumping their pensions, moving to China, and then profiting rapaciously from the TARP bailout. That large plant – one among many, with the largest one being in Alabama – was the Delphi Steering Gear facility in Tanner, near Decatur, in Limestone County.

It was one of North Alabama‘s LARGEST employers – with emphasis on “was.”

The men & women who made careers there, whose labors enabled their children to attend college, provided their families’ clothing, groceries, housing & healthcare, and provided for their own retirement, and which was a union shop, was shuttered several years ago.

Most of what news I recall about it centered around how corporate traders, not unions, were wanting even more & more profit when they were already profitable. Time and time again, the workers took cuts in benefits & pay to keep their jobs for as long as they could… all to no avail.

Like a gazelle savaged on the plains of the Kalahari Desert in Africa, that once prosperous plant has been laid to waste, and there are only industrial skeletal remains. Even the human buzzards, scavenging metal for recycling from the industrial carcass, have left. For many years now, the hollow exterior hulk, instead of employees, materials & labor, has been drawing cobwebs, dust & rust. And soon, like all things left unattended, it too will crumble.

There are no taxes paid to Limestone county, or to nearby Decatur, Athens or Huntsville, or to Alabama for roads, schools, police & fire protection. But there is an even greater issue, one which is exceedingly more weighty and sorrowful. As a result of it all, there is no hope, there are no jobs, and there is no future.

Here’s the even more disturbing part: Mitt Romney had his hand in that pie.

And yet the saddest and most perplexing part is, that most Alabamians will vote for the GOP nominee/candidate.

Following the economic investigative report are historical local news reports that show the progression about the issue (which validate the economic investigative report by Greg Palast), from the:
Decatur Daily,
Huntsville Times,
• Associated Press,
• Athens-Limestone News Courier,
• Saginaw News (via MLive.com), and
• Wall Street Journal,
dating 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010.

For the benefit of the reader, Greg Palast is an economist and financial investigator turned journalist whose series on vulture funds appeared on BBC Television’s Newsnight. He is the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (Penguin) and, most recently, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps (Seven Stories). For additional information about him, his website is: http://www.gregpalast.com.

Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza

Greg Palast, October 17, 2012   |    This article appeared in the November 5, 2012 edition of The Nation.

This investigation was supported by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute and by the Puffin Foundation. Elements of it appear in Palast’s new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps (Seven Stories). Research assistance by Zach D. Roberts, Ari Paul, Nader Atassi and Eric Wuestewald.

Mitt Romney

2012 GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout has haunted him on the campaign trail, especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio. There, in September, the Obama campaign launched television ads blasting Romney’s November 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.

It all starts with Delphi Automotive, a former General Motors subsidiary whose auto parts remain essential to GM’s production lines. No bailout of GM—or Chrysler, for that matter—could have been successful without saving Delphi. So, in addition to making massive loans to automakers in 2009, the federal government sent, directly or indirectly, more than $12.9 billion to Delphi—and to the hedge funds that had gained control over it.

One of the hedge funds profiting from that bailout—
$1.28 billion so far—is Elliott Management, directed by 
Paul Singer. According to TheWall Street Journal, Singer has given more to support GOP candidates—$2.3 million—than anyone else on Wall Street this election season. His personal giving is matched by that of his colleagues at Elliott; collectively, they have donated $3.4 million to help elect Republicans this season, while giving only $1,650 to Democrats. And Singer is influential with the GOP presidential candidate; he’s not only an informal adviser but, according to theJournal, his support was critical in helping push Representative Paul Ryan onto the ticket.

Singer, whom Fortune magazine calls a “passionate defender of the 1%,” has carved out a specialty investing in distressed firms and distressed nations, which he does by buying up their debt for pennies on the dollar and then demanding payment in full. This so-called “vulture investor” received $58 million on Peruvian debt that he snapped up for $11.4 million, and $90 million on Congolese debt that he bought for a mere $20 million. In the process, he’s built one of the largest private equity firms in the nation, and over decades he’s racked up an unusually high average return on investments of 14 percent.

Other GOP presidential hopefuls chased Singer’s endorsement, but Mitt chased Singer with his own checkbook, investing at least $1 million with Elliott through Ann Romney’s blind trust (it could be far more, but the Romneys have declined to disclose exactly how much). Along the way, Singer gained a reputation, according to Fortune, “for strong-arming his way to profit.” That is certainly what happened at Delphi.

* * *

Delphi, once the Delco unit of General Motors, was spun off into a separate company in 1999. Read the rest of this entry »

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