Warm Southern Breeze

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Posts Tagged ‘money’

Research: 550,000+ Firearm-Related Hospitalizations 2000-2016

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, May 5, 2021

States in the Deep South lead the nation in average per capita firearm-related hospitalizations.

Average Firearm Injury Hospitalization Rate per 100,000, 2000–2016

1.) Louisiana – 24
2.) Tennessee – 18
3.) Alabama – 16
4.) Missouri – 16
5.) Maryland – 16
6.) Michigan – 14
7.) Illinois – 13
8.) North Carolina – 13
9.) South Carolina – 13
10.) Mississippi – 13
11.) Arizona – 13
12.) Arkansas – 12
13.) Delaware – 12
14.) Pennsylvania – 12
15.) Nevada – 12
16.) California – 12
17.) Oklahoma – 11
18.) Texas – 10
19.) Kansas – 10
20.) Indiana – 10
21.) Ohio – 10
22.) Kentucky – 9
23.) Virginia – 8

The national average is 10.

Ongoing and recently updated research by the RAND Corporation – a nonprofit, nonpartisan, research organization working in the public interest to develop solutions to public policy challenges to improve communities nationally, and worldwide by making them healthier, and more prosperous, safer, and more secure – showed that nationally:

“In 2018, 39,740 individuals in the United States were killed by firearms, making firearm violence the second leading cause of injury death in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], undated).

“As part of the Gun Policy in America initiative, RAND researchers developed a longitudinal database of state-level estimates of inpatient hospitalizations for firearm injury between 2000 and 2016. This database was first released in 2021 and is free to the public.

RAND researcher Dr. Andrew Morral, PhD who is the Senior Behavioral Scientist, and Director of the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research there, tweeted recently (April 28) that:

“Why are firearm hospitalizations not correlated with gun ownership in observed state hospitalization data or our estimates? Because they chiefly result from criminal assaults (vs. suicides) and these are not correlated with household gun ownership.”

This type of research is a phenomenally difficult proposition, and highly complicated undertaking, and the entirety of the paper is spent detailing and explaining their methodology, and sources, because not every state provides information to, or participates in HCUP, the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

As well, data had to be compared and cross-referenced with other similarly related databases, such as the FBI’s annual UCR – Uniform Crime Report.

And then, they get into the math – the statistical analysis – and explain the formulae used, which then has to be checked with other external mathematical models to determine, and ensure a high level of accuracy. In short, this is not “relaxing reading” by any stretch of the imagination – it is highly technical explanations of phenomenally difficult work, which only indirectly points to the significance of their findings.

HCUP is the Nation’s most comprehensive source of hospital care data, including information on in-patient stays, ambulatory surgery and services visits, and emergency department encounters. HCUP enables Read the rest of this entry »

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FBI Data: Marijuana Arrests STILL Number 1 Nationally

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Federal Bureau of Investigation annually publishes a UCR, or Uniform Crime Report. It’s a statistical overview of crime and arrests in the United States compiled from reports from the Local, State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. Because of the vast volume of data, it takes quite a bit of time and concerted effort to organize the data into comprehensible form. Typically, such reports are at least a year behind. For example, the most recent year for which complete UCR data is available is 2019.

“The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program counts one arrest for each separate instance in which a person is arrested, cited, or summoned for an offense. The UCR Program collects arrest data on 28 offenses, as described in Offense Definitions.

Nationwide, law enforcement made an estimated 10,085,207 arrests in 2019. Of these arrests, 495,871 were for violent crimes, and 1,074,367 were for property crimes.

The highest number of arrests were for drug abuse violations (estimated at 1,558,862 arrests), driving under the influence (estimated at 1,024,508), and larceny-theft (estimated at 813,073).

– from “Crime in the United States, 2019” the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report

Other similarly-related substance misuse/abuse arrests, and their figures are Read the rest of this entry »

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Didn’t Feel The Bern? It Was Because Of Hillary.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, May 1, 2021

Donna Brazile, publicity photo

There are probably plenty of reasons to dislike Donna Brazile, the twice-former interim DNC Chair – not the least of which was the discovery that, following a WikiLeaks email dump, she’d been sharing debate questions with Hillary, and subsequent to a second release of the tranche, she resigned in shame from her position at CNN as a political commentator/pundit.

Perhaps she was trying to redeem herself, or, maybe she was trying to hold a light illuminating the damning evidence of HRC’s unethical behavior and corruption (though not illegal), or maybe she was hoping to drive another nail into Hillary’s political coffin, or “throw some others under the bus,” and even if it was a cathartic political “kiss and tell,” her motivation for what she wrote is not the question.

It is ~what~ she wrote in her book “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House” that tells the story.

She discovered that because of the party’s fiscal indebtedness, a backroom deal had been struck with Hillary and the DNC in August 2015, just Read the rest of this entry »

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What is socialism?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Socialism is when the government controls the means, and the method, of production.

In essence, socialism is a “government factory.”

But let’s examine some things that could be claimed are “socialist.”

Money.

The coinage and currency in your pocket is made by the United States government upon government-owned machines – stamping mills, and presses, with government-owned metals, government-owned paper, and government-owned inks.

But it’s not socialist.

Why not?

Because Read the rest of this entry »

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Topsy Turvy America

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 26, 2021

In America, you can get arrested for drinking a beer in public.

In Germany, one can legally walk around in public while drinking a beer. To do so is neither illegal, immoral, or unethical.

Of course, illegality, immorality, and unethical behavior are three entirely separate, and unique things. Suffice to say, they’re not the same.

In America, one cannot walk around in public while drinking a beer, or any other alcohol-containing beverage. In many, if not most, places, it’s illegal to do so – save, perhaps, for a few specially-designated areas, or upon certain occasions in those areas.

For example, it’s not uncommon to see pictures, or read news stories of college-aged students who can otherwise legally consume alcoholic beverages (being aged 21, or older), and even adults, who while enjoying almost any public beach in America, are accosted by local law enforcement authorities who either confiscate, or demand that the beer owner(s) destroy those ice-cold beverages by pouring them out, and sometimes, even arrest them, haul them off to jail, where they’re fingerprinted, photographed, and incarcerated, however briefly, as if they’re genuine threats to society, or had committed some grievously atrocious felony.

Of course, it almost goes without saying, that if anyone, anywhere in America was walking around in their local Wal-Mart, shopping while drinking a beer, the police would be called to the scene, and doubtlessly, the shopper/drinker would be arrested, and the story of it published on the worldwide web of the Internet for all the world to see.

Typically, in most all such instances, those individuals would be violating so-called “open container” laws, which forbid the public consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Yet interestingly enough, morbidly obese people can walk around in public eating hot dogs, doughnuts, and junk foods of seemingly innumerable variety and type, wash it all down with gallons of soda pop, and it’s not illegal to watch them commit their slow suicide in public, and no one dares think about calling the cops on them.

While it might seem that Read the rest of this entry »

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What Is Inflation?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, April 20, 2021

An inflation is defined as when prices in general go up. Not every price, and not each price the same amount, but a general rise in prices is all that the word “inflation” means. Goods and services, in general, go up in price. Number one.

Number two: Simple. The people who decide on prices are employers – the people who own and operate businesses – ’cause that’s where most goods and services come from. And under a private enterprise system, the individuals who set the prices are the owners, operators, chief executives of corporations. So the first question to understand, first point, is that, if you have a general rise in prices, it’s the business community that’s doing that.

Now, the next question: Why would the business community do it?

Well, the first answer again, is simple – is because it’s profitable. It’s the easiest, quickest, and best way to make more profits – which is to take whatever it is you’re producing, and charge more for each unit of it that you sell. In other words, to raise the price. So in many cases, there’s an inflation because businesses are raising prices to make more profits.

But of course, business Read the rest of this entry »

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Good News! Bernie Madoff Is Dead!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Some people make you happy with their arrival, while others bring joy with their departure. So it is with Bernard L. Madoff.

Scumbag Ponzi schemer, thief, liar, chronically habitual pathological prevaricator, con artist, good-for-nothing felonious criminal Bernard Madoff has died aged 82 this morning in Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, a facility in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, according to an anonymous source with direct knowledge of the matter and who was not authorized to speak publicly. The BOP acknowledged Madoff’s death later in the day.

The Associated Press and CNBC reported that Madoff died of apparently “natural causes” while serving a 150 year sentence handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin who sentenced Madoff to the maximum penalty in March 2009 after Madoff plead guilty to all charges against him. In July 2019, financial news network CNBC reported that Madoff had filed application the Department of Justice for commutation of his sentence from then-President Trump, which was summarily denied.

Bernard L. Madoff, USDOJ booking picture 2008

When U.S. District Court Judge Danny Chin sentenced Madoff, he said in part that, “Here, the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff’s crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of irresponsible manipulation of the system is not merely a bloodless financial crime that takes place just on paper, but it is instead … one that takes a staggering human toll.”

At his sentencing, Madoff appeared to attempt to minimize the catastrophic damage he’d inflicted which he had caused, and said that his actions were a “problem,” “an error of judgment” and “a tragic mistake.”

Following his arrest, Bernie Madoff was initially jailed briefly at the infamous Metropolitan Correction Center in Lower Manhattan after pleading guilty to 11 Federal felony criminal charges that carried a combined maximum prison sentence of 150 years, and was sentenced June 16, 2009 for masterminding the largest investment fraud in United States history. At the end of November 2008, his fraudulent firm, Bernard L. Madoff Securities, reported to his victim-clients that their so-called investments with him were valued at a total of $65 billion. However, he held but a very nominal fraction of that amount.

For several decades, Madoff was a considered a Wall $treet golden-haired guru, and even enjoyed a chairmanship of the NASDAQ stock market which he helped establish.

As a self-styled “investment advisor,” Madoff cast himself as a self-made man with a veritable sixth-sense for financial markets that defied their inevitable fluctuations.

The types of people whom he defrauded and bankrupted were as broad-reaching as his scam, and ranged from Florida retirees to celebrities including renown film director Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, and included the ruination of various charities and foundations.

Among Madoff’s client-victims were Read the rest of this entry »

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Tennessee’s Republican Legislators Seek To Cut Unemployment Benefits Time

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, April 9, 2021

Tennessee’s Republican State Legislators Have Lost Their Minds

Republican-written legislation being considered in the Tennessee General Assembly would kick to the curb over 65,000 unemployed Tennesseans who have lost their jobs due to the COVID pandemic.

Republicans are seeking to cut in half the time frame for collecting unemployment benefits.

Richie Townsend, 39, an East Nashville resident and former bartender at Rolf and Daughters in Germantown, has struggled to find work after losing his restaurant job when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020.

In the time since, he’s held various unstable, low-paying jobs from which he, and others, have been fired over three times, due to no fault of his own. During those times, he has applied for, and has been granted access to his State Unemployment Compensation, a type of insurance paid for by employers, and backed by the state government, which all 50 states have.

Fortunately, he has benefits remaining, but only because of the extensions granted by Congress.

He’s recently started a new job in Franklin, but even as the state told him it is expediting his request for benefits, he’s reached out to his state House member but hasn’t gotten any payments on his latest extension.

“It sounds like an over-exaggeration by our local government to try to react to the fact that unemployment was extended for a year and a half in total,” he said.

Though he hates to admit it, Townsend says he’s Read the rest of this entry »

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Matt Gaetz: Another Drowning Rat From Trump’s Sunken Ship

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

He’s a “Florida Man” to be certain, and his Twitter bio states as much. He’s the moral equivalent of Jeffrey Epstein. His “NAY” vote was the EXCLUSIVE – the SOLITARY – the ONLY vote against a human sex trafficking bill. And his flimsy “excuse” or rationale why, is as weak as water. He’ll be out soon as just another worthless, hypocritical, flash-in-the-pan piece of GOP garbage.


Matt Gaetz, On The Ropes From Juvenile Sex Trafficking Investigation, Finds Few Friends In The GOP

by Juliegrace Brufke & Mike Lillis
03/31/21 05:33 PM EDT

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/545850-gaetz-on-the-ropes-finds-few-friends-in-gop

In four years on Capitol Hill, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has experienced a meteoric rise to national prominence — one fueled by a close alliance with former President Trump, a penchant for political theatrics and a no-apologies brand of conservatism that’s made him a darling of the right-wing cable outlets.

Matt Gaetz now – with a slicked-back pompadour, and snazzy suit.

Yet this week, facing a federal investigation into allegations of a sexual relationship with an underage girl, Gaetz is finding himself in an unusual spot: On the ropes and virtually alone.

Few of Gaetz’s GOP colleagues are coming to the defense of the third-term Floridian following a New York Times report that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct with — and interstate trafficking of — a minor roughly two years ago. And a number of Republicans, while warning against jumping to premature conclusions about Gaetz’s conduct, also suggested they wouldn’t miss him if he were gone.

“I don’t know anything about this situation other than to say he has certainly made enemies and painted a bull’s-eye on his back,” said one Republican lawmaker, who requested anonymity to speak freely on a sensitive topic. “This appears to be a self-inflicted wound.”

Gaetz has vehemently denied that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old-girl — the central allegation of the Justice Department probe, which was launched under the Trump administration. Gaetz contends that he and his family have been targeted by a former DOJ official in an extortion scheme seeking millions of dollars to have the allegations vanish.

In a series of tweets, statements and media interviews Tuesday evening, he maintained that 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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STOP THE ABUSE: Prime Examples Why ALL Churches & Religion Should Be TAXED

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Associated Press has reported today that Catholic parishes in dioceses throughout the nation have fallen at the feet of government for a pandemic bailout – all while sitting on massive piles of cash that GREW SIGNIFICANTLY during the pandemic – and without any government help.

(see: Sitting On Billions, Catholic Dioceses Amassed Taxpayer Aid)

That is at least TWO forms of fraudulent abuse of government:
1.) Asking for help when it’s NOT needed, and;
2.) Religion asking Government for help.

That the government has become involved in the promotion and promulgation of religion is a stench in the nostrils of our nation’s Founders, is a violation of our United States Constitution’s “Establishment clause” in the First Amendment, and a perverted corruption of Heaven – for those who believe religion is above the political fray.

For those who adhere to the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson had some STRONG words to the Danbury Baptists who sought assistance from him, shortly after he had become President in 1801. It was on January 1 the following year, that Jefferson replied to a letter sent to him by the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut.

While much is rightfully made of Jefferson’s reply, not much is ever said about what the Baptists had written to him. In a letter dated “[after 7 Oct. 1801],” the Danbury Baptist Association had composed a letter to Jefferson of much greater length than was Jefferson’s brief reply to them – 503 words versus 226 words.

Jefferson was newly President, having been inaugurated as the 3rd President, March 4, 1801, and served two consecutive terms – until March 3, 1809. A mere 7 months into his first term, the Danbury Baptist Association wrote to him, in part, that;

“… religion is consider’d as the first object of Legislation; & therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expence of such degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistant with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondred at therefore; if those, who seek after power & gain under the pretence of goverment & Religion should reproach their fellow men—should reproach their chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion Law & good order because he will not, dares not assume the prerogative of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.

Sir, we are sensible that the President of the united States, is not the national Legislator, & also sensible that the national goverment cannot destroy the Laws of each State; but our hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved President, which have had such genial Effect already, like the radiant beams of the Sun, will shine & prevail through all these States and all the world till Hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the Earth. …”

The style and use of language then, of course, is significantly different from style today, and is much more “flowery,” formal and ornamental. Today’s language is more straight-forward, and to-the-point… blunt, even. There are advantages and disadvantages to each style, of course, but the point is, for that reason, sometimes it can be difficult to “interpret” what the writer(s) are attempting to say, or what matter they’re trying to address. That can also be complicated by variants in spelling of words commonly used today, which are considered obsolete, and archaic. One such example or archaic spelling in their letter is the word “ancient” which they spell as “antient.”

But the the excerpts in the paragraphs above are the veritable “heart” of the matter in their letter. In essence, what the Danbury Baptist Association is asking Jefferson to do, is to “settle” a matter – in their favor – in a disagreement they had with a dissenting religious faction.

A bit of background knowledge is necessary for a more full understanding the matter which the Danbury Baptists’ letter addressed. The National Archives provides an excellently succinct backgrounder for the matter, as follows:

“At its October 1800 meeting, the association initiated a petition movement to redress the grievances of the dissenting minority against the Congregationalist majority in the region. Although disestablishment had not been an issue in the 1800 election in Connecticut, the movement was a call for the statewide repeal of all laws that could be understood as supporting an established religion. [Emphasis added. Ed.] In 1801, the petition movement tried to remain above partisan politics and cultivated support of some Congregationalists, Episcopalians, and other dissenters who might be sympathetic to their cause. On 8 Oct. 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association, meeting at Colebrook, Connecticut, voted that Elders Stephen Royce (of Stratfield), Daniel Wildman (of Wolcott and Bristol), Nehemiah Dodge (of Southington and Farmington), Stephen S. Nelson (of Hartford), and Deacons Jared Mills (of Simsbury) and Ephraim Robbins (of Hartford) “be a committee to prepare an address to the President of the United States, in behalf of this association.” The address and President Jefferson’s reply of 1 Jan. 1802 were reprinted in newspapers across the country, including Denniston and Cheetham’s American Citizen on 18 Jan. 1802 (Minutes of the Danbury Baptist Association, Holden at Colebrook, October 7 and 8, 1801; Together with Their Circular and Corresponding Letters [Hartford, 1801]; Shaw-Shoemaker, No. 109; McLoughlin, New England Dissent, 2:920, 985–8, 1004–5; Connecticut Courant, 25 May 1801).”

The letter by the Danbury Baptist Association dated October 7, 1801 was received by Jefferson on 30 December 1801, and is enumerated in Jefferson’s “Summary Journal of Letters.”

In essence, the Danbury Baptists were asking Jefferson to
rule in a semi-private matter
(a disagreement between Danbury Baptists,
and a differing Christian sect),
in which any hint of religion was going to be
eradicated from
the laws in Connecticut.
The Danbury Baptists opposed the measure.

Thus, it can easier be understood Jefferson’s reply to them. And while Jefferson’s letter is half the length of the one addressed to him by Danbury Baptists, it is much more succinct. In essence, Jefferson “shut them down” (at least quieted their clamor) by his reply, which in pertinent part read:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

“A wall of separation between Church and State.” There could perhaps be no more clear example for a case of “laissez-faire” than in Jefferon’s letter of reply to the Danbury Baptists.

And now, we have a multi-billion dollar, tax-free corporation coming and begging for a taxpayer-funded handout.

Could there be anything more onerous?

Could there be any greater example of an violation of the First Amendment’s “Establishment clause” – that government should not endorse any religion, nor show deference to any religion by providing special support and succor to that religion?

No.

When the Catholic church – or any religion – lobbies the government for special consideration and gets $1.4 BILLION in taxpayer-funded handouts, what is there to be said?

You read that correctly.

On July 10, 2020, in a story headlined “AP: Catholic Church Lobbied For Taxpayer Funds, Got $1.4B,” the Associated Press reported that;

“The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.

“The church’s haul may have reached — or even exceeded — $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found.”

How about THEM apples, eh?

Sexual predators in the Catholic church, most often as clergy who were long known to be habitually chronic sexual predators, were found out, and rather than ‘fessing up, apologizing, and offering some kind of universal class-action settlement with all affected individuals, and forever closing out their case, the Catholic church deliberately shuffled money around to hide it from any prospective legal action, and applied for, and was granted, special protection under bankruptcy laws to stash their cash away from the victims, and their lawyers, who were preparing to, or were already suing the church for allowing their sexual abuse to continue, in some cases, for well over 40, or 50 years, or even longer.

If that is not the picture of corruption, I do not know what it.

And to think… the QAnon folks ~could~ have sunk their teeth into that meat, but instead chose not to, and rather, fabricated some far-fetched bullshit story that has so little substance, that it’s laughable. And right-wingers believed them!

THERE IS MORE GLOBAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSES RIGHT UNDER THEIR NOSES THAN THEY COULD EVER SHAKE STICK AT – INCLUDING ACCOMPANYING CRIMES AND CORRUPTION – AND QANON TYPES DELIBERATELY CHOSE TO IGNORE IT.

And, I can guarant-damn-tee it, that they’ll DO NOTHING ABOUT IT.

The United States Congress should pull the rug out from under the Catholic church’s feet – along with ALL other luxuriating religious criminal cabals – and:
1.) PERMANENTLY REVOKE ALL religious organizations’ tax-exempt status;
2.) MANDATE that they ALL pay taxes;
3.) ELIMINATE laws providing special treatment to ALL religious entities, including tax status, by changing tax code to reflect status change.

If churches and other religious organizations want taxpayer money, they ought to pay for it through taxes. That way as well, ALL churches would be free to their heart’s content to preach from the pulpit any kind of political tripe that they see fit, and not have to worry about losing their tax-free status… because it’d already be gone.

It is
LONG OVERDUE
for this
Government-supported
Criminal Clown Theater
TO STOP!

And the ONLY way to put an end to religious corruption and governmental support of religious corruption, is to REMOVE TAX FREE STATUS FOR RELIGION.

There is NOTHING in the Constitution that states, nor suggests, that religion should be tax-free.

NOTHING!

James A. Garfield, a Republican, who later became President, had something to say about the matter. And, at the time when he made the following remarks – Monday, June 22, 1874 – was a Member of Congress in the House of Representatives from Ohio’s 19th Congressional District.

Mr. GARFIELD. I desire in a very few words, not to argue the merits of this case but to give the ground on which the Committee on Appropriations made their recommendation. Having stated that ground, I shall leave the question to the discretion of the House.

James Abram Garfield (November 19, 1831–September 19, 1881) was a Republican, and 20th President of the United States from March 4, 1881 until his assassination September 19, 1881. Before being elected POTUS, he was Member of Ohio State Senate, 1859-61; Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1863-80, and; Elected to United States Senate, 1880. He was a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination, graduated college Phi Beta Kappa salutatorian from Williams College where he first worked as janitor, later becoming a teacher there, United States Army Veteran of the Civil War rising to the rank of Brigadier General, teacher, lawyer, and public official.

I agree with everything that the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. E. R. Hoar] has said about the worthy charitable work of this organization known as the Little Sisters of the Poor. I agree that they distribute their charity without the slightest regard to denominational belief. The only ground on which I make a distinction (and it is a distinction I wish the House to understand) is this: Here is an organization composed exclusively of people of one religious denomination. Under its charter the members are wholly and only of one religious sect, and of one society within that religious sect. I take it that no woman in America, not a Catholic, could be one of the corporators in this home. At any rate I take it for granted that the members would not act in conjunction with any corporation not of that sect as a joint controller of the institution.

Now, I make the point – and the Committee on Appropriations made the point – that we ought never to commit ourselves to the aid of an exclusively sectarian institution. I would say the same were this institution under the control of a Protestant church, even if it were a church to which I myself belonged. The divorce between the church and the state ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no church property anywhere in any State or in the nation should be exempted from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a church tax upon the whole community. [emphasis added]

If the House deems this a point that ought not to be considered, I shall be very glad to see these Little Sisters of the Poor helped. If the fifty-sixth amendment, making an appropriation for the work for the Women’s Christian Association were in favor of any one sect, I should vote very quickly to strike it out.”

–– James A. Garfield, Republican, then Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio’s 19th Congressional District, Congressional Record, 43rd Congress, Monday, June 22, 1874, Volume 2, Part 6, p5384

The United States Federal Government has also FAILED The People by FAILING to initiate a RICO case against the Roman Catholic Church. RICO is Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization, and if any organization was ever corrupt, it is the Roman Catholic Church, for their DELIBERATE NEGLECT of known child sexual predators in their ranks, predominately in the clergy.

TAX ALL CHURCHES!

When the coronavirus forced churches to close their doors and give up Sunday collections, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte turned to the federal government’s signature small business relief program for more than $8 million.

The diocese’s headquarters, churches and schools landed the help even though they had roughly $100 million of their own cash and short-term investments available last spring, financial records show. When the cash catastrophe church leaders feared didn’t materialize, those assets topped $110 million by the summer.

As the pandemic began to unfold, scores of Catholic dioceses across the U.S. received aid through the Paycheck Protection Program while sitting on well over $10 billion in cash, short-term investments or other available funds, an Associated Press investigation has found. And despite the broad economic downturn, these assets have grown in many dioceses.

Yet even with that financial safety net, the 112 dioceses that shared their financial statements, along with the churches and schools they oversee, collected at least $1.5 billion in taxpayer-backed aid. A majority of these dioceses reported enough money on hand to cover at least six months of operating expenses, even without any new income.

The financial resources of several dioceses rivaled or exceeded those available to publicly traded companies like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, whose early participation in the program triggered outrage. Federal officials responded by emphasizing the money was intended for those who lacked the cushion that cash and other liquidity provide. Many corporations returned the funds.

Overall, the nation’s nearly 200 dioceses, where bishops and cardinals govern, and other Catholic institutions received at least $3 billion. That makes the Roman Catholic Church perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the paycheck program, according to AP’s analysis of data the U.S. Small Business Administration released following a public-records lawsuit by news organizations. The agency for months had shared only partial information, making a more precise analysis impossible.

Already one of the largest federal aid efforts ever, the SBA reopened the Paycheck Protection Program last month with a new infusion of nearly $300 billion. In making the announcement, the agency’s administrator at the time, Jovita Carranza, hailed the program for serving “as an economic lifeline to millions of small businesses.”

Church officials have said their employees were as worthy of help as workers at Main Street businesses, and that without it they would have had to slash jobs and curtail their charitable mission as demand for food pantries and social services spiked. They point out the program’s rules didn’t require them to exhaust their stores of cash and other funds before applying.

But new financial statements several dozen dioceses have posted for 2020 show that their available resources remained robust or improved during the pandemic’s hard, early months. The pattern held whether a diocese was big or small, urban or rural, East or West, North or South.

In Kentucky, funds available to the Archdiocese of Louisville, its parishes and other organizations grew from at least $153 million to $157 million during the fiscal year that ended in June, AP found. Those same offices and organizations received at least $17 million in paycheck money. “The Archdiocese’s operations have not been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak,” according to its financial statement. [emphasis added]

In Illinois, the Archdiocese of Chicago had more than $1 billion in cash and investments in its headquarters and cemetery division as of May, while the faithful continued to donate “more than expected,” according to a review by the independent ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service. Chicago’s parishes, schools and ministries accumulated at least $77 million in paycheck protection funds.

Up the interstate from Charlotte in North Carolina, the Raleigh Diocese collected at least $11 million in aid. Yet during the fiscal year that ended in June, overall offerings were down just 5% and the assets available to the diocese, its parishes and schools increased by about $21 million to more than $170 million, AP found. In another measure of fiscal health, the diocese didn’t make an emergency draw on its $10 million line of credit.

Catholic leaders in dioceses including Charlotte, Chicago, Louisville and Raleigh said their parishes and schools, like many other businesses and nonprofits, suffered financially when they closed to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Some dioceses reported that their hardest-hit churches saw income drop by 40% or more before donations began to rebound months later, and schools took hits when fundraisers were canceled and families had trouble paying tuition. As revenues fell, dioceses said, wage cuts and a few dozen layoffs were necessary in some offices.

Catholic researchers at Georgetown University who surveyed the nation’s bishops last summer found such measures weren’t frequent. In comparison, a survey by the investment bank Goldman Sachs found 42% of small business owners had cut staff or salaries, and that 33% had spent their personal savings to stay open.

Church leaders have questioned why AP focused on their faith following a story last July, when New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote that reporters “invented a story when none existed and sought to bash the Church.”

By using a special exemption that the church lobbied to include in the paycheck program, Catholic entities amassed at least $3 billion — roughly the same as the combined total of recipients from the other faiths that rounded out the top five, AP found. Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Jewish faith-based recipients also totaled at least $3 billion. Catholics account for about a fifth of the U.S. religious population while members of Protestant and Jewish denominations are nearly half, according to the Pew Research Center.

Catholic institutions also received many times more than other major nonprofits with charitable missions and national reach, such as the United Way, Goodwill Industries and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Overall, Catholic recipients got roughly twice as much as 40 of the largest, most well-known charities in America combined, AP found.

The complete picture is certainly even more lopsided. So many Catholic entities received help that reporters could not identify them all, even after spending hundreds of hours hand-checking tens of thousands of records in federal data.

The Vatican referred questions about the paycheck program to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which said it does not speak on behalf of dioceses.

Presented with AP’s findings, bishops conference spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi responded with a broad statement that the Paycheck Protection Program was “designed to protect the jobs of Americans from all walks of life, regardless of whether they work for for-profit or nonprofit employers, faith-based or secular.”

INTERNAL SKEPTICISM

The AP’s assessment of church finances is among the most comprehensive to date. It draws largely from audited financial statements posted online by the central offices of 112 of the country’s nearly 200 dioceses.

The church isn’t required to share its financials. As a result, the analysis doesn’t include cash, short-term assets and lines of credit held by some of the largest dioceses, including those serving New York City and other major metropolitan areas.

The analysis focused on available assets because federal officials cited those metrics when clarifying eligibility for the paycheck program. Therefore, the $10 billion AP identified doesn’t count important financial pillars of the U.S. church. Among those are its thousands of real estate properties and most of the funds that parishes and schools hold. Also excluded is the money — estimated at $9.5 billion in a 2019 study by the Delaware-based wealth management firm Wilmington Trust — held by charitable foundations created to help dioceses oversee donations.

In addition, dioceses can rely on a well-funded support system that includes help from wealthier dioceses, the bishops conference and other Catholic organizations. Canon law, the legal code the Vatican uses to govern the global church, notes that richer dioceses may assist poorer ones, and the AP found instances where they did.

In their financial statements, the 112 dioceses acknowledged having at least $4.5 billion in liquid or otherwise available assets. To reach its $10 billion total, AP also included funding that dioceses had opted to designate for special projects instead of general expenses; excess cash that parishes and their affiliates deposit with their diocese’s savings and loan; and lines of credit dioceses typically have with outside banks.

Some church officials said AP was misreading their financial books and therefore overstating available assets. They insisted that money their bishop or his advisers had set aside for special projects couldn’t be repurposed during an emergency, although financial statements posted by multiple dioceses stated the opposite.

For its analysis, AP consulted experts in church finance and church law. One was the Rev. James Connell, an accountant for 15 years before joining the priesthood and becoming an administrator in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Connell, also a canon lawyer who is now retired from his position with the archdiocese, said AP’s findings convinced him that Catholic entities did not need government aid — especially when thousands of small businesses were permanently closing.

“Was it want or need?” Connell asked. “Need must be present, not simply the want. Justice and love of neighbor must include the common good.”

Connell was not alone among the faithful concerned by the church’s pursuit of taxpayer money. Parishioners in several cities have questioned church leaders who received government money for Catholic schools they then closed.

Elsewhere, a pastor in a Western state told AP that he refused to apply even after diocesan officials repeatedly pressed him. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of his diocese’s policy against talking to reporters and concerns about possible retaliation.

The pastor had been saving, much like leaders of other parishes. When the pandemic hit, he used that money, trimmed expenses and told his diocese’s central finance office that he had no plans to seek the aid. Administrators followed up several times, the pastor said, with one high-ranking official questioning why he was “leaving free money on the table.”

The pastor said he felt a “sound moral conviction” that the money was meant more for shops and restaurants that, without it, might close forever.

As the weeks passed last spring, the pastor said his church managed just fine. Parishioners were so happy with new online Masses and his other outreach initiatives, he said, they boosted their contributions beyond 2019 levels.

“We didn’t need it,” the pastor said, “and intentionally wanted to leave the money for those small business owners who did.”

WEATHERING A DOWNTURN

Months after the pandemic first walloped the economy, the 112 dioceses that release financial statements began sharing updates. Among the 47 dioceses that have thus far, the pandemic’s impact was far from crippling.

The 47 dioceses that have posted financials for the fiscal year that ended in June had a median 6% increase in the amount of cash, short-term investments and other funds that they and their affiliates could use for unanticipated or general expenses, AP found. In all, 38 dioceses grew those resources, while nine reported declines.

Finances in Raleigh and 10 other dioceses that took government assistance were stable enough that they did not have to dip into millions they had available through outside lines of credit.

“This crisis has tested us,” Russell Elmayan, Raleigh’s chief financial officer, told the diocese’s magazine website in July, “but we are hopeful that the business acumen of our staff and lay counselors, together with the strategic financial reserves built over time, will help our parishes and schools continue to weather this unprecedented event.” Raleigh officials did not answer direct questions from AP.

The 47 dioceses acknowledged a smaller amount of readily available assets than AP counted, though by their own accounting that grew as well.

The improving financial outlook is due primarily to parishioners who found ways to continue donating and U.S. stock markets that were rebounding to new highs. But when the markets were first plunging, officials in several dioceses said, they had to stretch available assets because few experts were forecasting a rapid recovery.

In Louisville, Charlotte and other dioceses, church leaders said they offered loans or grants to needy parishes and schools, or offset the monthly charges they assess their parishes. In Raleigh, for example, the headquarters used $3 million it had set aside for liability insurance and also tapped its internal deposit and loan fund.

Church officials added that the pandemic’s full toll will probably be seen in a year or two, because some key sources of revenue are calculated based on income that parishes and schools generate.

“We believe that we will not know all of the long-term negative impacts on parish, school and archdiocesan finances for some time,” Louisville Archdiocese spokeswoman Cecelia Price wrote in response to questions.

At the nine dioceses that recorded declines in liquid or other short-term assets, the drops typically were less than 10%, and not always clearly tied to the pandemic.

The financial wherewithal of some larger dioceses is underscored by the fact that, like publicly traded companies, they can raise capital by selling bonds to investors.

One was Chicago, where analysts with the Moody’s ratings agency calculated that the $1 billion in cash and investments held by the archdiocese headquarters and cemeteries division could cover about 631 days of operating expenses.

Church officials in Chicago asserted that those dollars were needed to cover substantial expenses while parishioner donations slumped. Without paycheck support, “parishes and schools would have been forced to cut many jobs, as the archdiocese, given its liabilities, could not have closed such a funding gap,” spokeswoman Paula Waters wrote.

Moody’s noted in its May report that while giving was down, federal aid had compensated for that and helped leave the archdiocese “well positioned to weather this revenue loss over the next several months.” Among the reasons for the optimism: “a unique credit strength” that under church law allows the archbishop to tax parish revenue virtually at will.

In a separate Moody’s report on New Orleans, which filed for bankruptcy in May while facing multiple clergy abuse lawsuits, the ratings agency wrote in July that the archdiocese did so while having “significant financial reserves, with spendable cash and investments of over $160 million.”

Moody’s said the archdiocese’s “very good” liquid assets would let it operate 336 days without additional income. Those assets prompted clergy abuse victims to ask a federal judge to dismiss the bankruptcy filing, arguing the archdiocese’s primary reason for seeking the legal protection was to minimize payouts to them.

The archdiocese, along with its parishes and schools, collected more than $26 million in paycheck money. New Orleans Archdiocesan officials didn’t respond to written questions.

PURSUING AID

Without special treatment, the Catholic Church would not have received nearly so much under the Paycheck Protection Program.

After Congress let nonprofits and religious organizations participate in the first place, Catholic officials lobbied the Trump Administration for a second break. Religious organizations were freed from the so-called affiliation rule that typically disqualifies applicants with more than 500 workers.

Without that break, many dioceses would have missed out because — between their head offices, parishes, schools and other affiliates — their employee count would exceed the limit.

Among those lobbying, federal records show, was the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Parishes, schools and ministries there collected at least $80 million in paycheck aid, at a time when the headquarters reported $658 million in available funds heading into the fiscal year when the coronavirus arrived.

Catholic officials in the U.S. needed the special exception for at least two reasons.

Church law says dioceses, parishes and schools are affiliated, something the Los Angeles Archdiocese acknowledged “proved to be an obstacle” to receiving funds because its parishes operate “under the authority of the diocesan bishop.” Dioceses, parishes, schools and other Catholic entities also routinely assert to the Internal Revenue Service that they are affiliated so they can maintain their federal income tax exemption.

Estimates of the total subsidies enjoyed by religious groups did not take into account the amounts received from subsidies such as the sales tax subsidies, local sales and income tax subsidies, volunteer labor subsidy, and donor-tax exemptions.
Researchers at the Institute claimed that the tax subsidies which were unaccounted for could also amount to billions in tax savings.
Further, the Institute claimed that the subsidies should be cut for religious groups, or at least restricted to being applied solely to the charitable works of the marginalization.
Religious organizations also enjoyed approximately $6.1 billion in state income tax subsidies, along with $1.2 billion of parsonage, and $2.2 billion in the faith-based initiatives subsidy.
Churches in the USA receive approximately $71 billion in tax credits and tax breaks each year, according to the results of new research released on October 16th by the Secular Policy Institute.

While some Catholic officials insisted their affiliates are separate and financially independent, AP found many instances of borrowing and spending among them when dioceses were faced with prior cash crunches. In Philadelphia, for example, the archdiocese received at least $18 million from three affiliates, including a seminary, to fund a compensation program for clergy sex abuse survivors, according to 2019 financial statements.

Cardinals and bishops have broad authority over parishes and the pastors who run them. Church law requires parishes to submit annual financial reports and bishops may require parishes to deposit surplus money with internal banks administered by the diocese.

“The parishioners cannot hire or fire the pastor; that is for the bishop to do,” said Connell, the priest, former accountant and canon lawyer. “Each parish functions as a wholly owned subsidiary or division of a larger corporation, the diocese.”

Bishops acknowledged a concerted effort to tap paycheck funds in a survey by Catholic researchers at Georgetown University. When asked what they had done to address the pandemic’s financial fallout, 95% said their central offices helped parishes apply for paycheck and other aid — the leading response. That topped encouraging parishioners to donate electronically.

After Congress approved the paycheck program, three high-ranking officials in New Hampshire’s Manchester Diocese sent an urgent memo to parishes, schools and affiliated organizations urging them to refrain from layoffs or furloughs until completing their applications. “We are all in this together,” the memo read, adding that diocesan officials were working expeditiously to provide “step by step instructions.”

Paycheck Protection Program funds came through low-interest bank loans, worth up to $10 million each, that the federal government would forgive so long as recipients used the money to cover about two months of wages and operating expenses.

After an initial $659 billion last spring, Congress added another $284 billion in December. With the renewal came new requirements intended to ensure that funds go to businesses that lost money due to the pandemic. Lawmakers also downsized the headcount for applicants to 300 or fewer employees.

A QUESTION OF NEED

In other federal small business loan programs, government help is treated as a last resort.

Applicants must show they couldn’t get credit elsewhere. And those with enough available funds must pay more of their own way to reduce taxpayer subsidies.

Congress didn’t include these tests in the Paycheck Protection Program. To speed approvals, lenders weren’t required to do their usual screening and instead relied on applicants’ self-certifications of need.

The looser standards helped create a run on the first $349 billion in paycheck funding. Small business owners complained that they were shut out, yet dozens of companies healthy enough to be traded on stock exchanges scored quick approval.

As blowback built in April, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned at a news briefing that there would be “severe consequences” for applicants who improperly tapped the program.

“We want to make sure this money is available to small businesses that need it, people who have invested their entire life savings,” Mnuchin said. Program guidelines evolved to stress that participants with access to significant cash probably could not get the assistance “in good faith.”

Mnuchin’s Treasury Department said it would audit loans exceeding $2 million, although federal officials have not said whether they would hold religious organizations and other nonprofits to the same standard of need as businesses.

The headquarters and major departments for more than 40 dioceses received more than $2 million. Every diocese that responded to questions said it would seek to have the government cover the loans, rather than repay the funds.

One diocese receiving a loan over $2 million was Boston. According to the archdiocese’s website, its central ministries office received about $3 million, while its parishes and schools collected about $32 million more.

The archdiocese — along with its parishes, schools and cemeteries — had roughly $200 million in available funds in June 2019, according to its audited financial report. When that fiscal year ended several months into the pandemic, available funds had increased to roughly $233 million.

Nevertheless, spokesman Terrence Donilon cited “ongoing economic pressure” in saying the archdiocese will seek forgiveness for last year’s loans and will apply for additional, new funds during the current round.

Beyond its growing available funds, the archdiocese and its affiliates benefit from other sources of funding. The archdiocese’s “Inspiring Hope” campaign, announced in January, has raised at least $150 million.

And one of its supporting charities — the Catholic Schools Foundation, where Cardinal Sean O’Malley is board chairman — counted more than $33 million in cash and other funds that could be “used for general operations” as of the beginning of the 2020 fiscal year, according to its financial statement.

Despite these resources, the archdiocese closed a half-dozen schools in May and June, often citing revenue losses due to the pandemic. Paycheck protection data show four of those schools collectively were approved for more than $700,000.

The shuttered schools included St. Francis of Assisi in Braintree, a middle-class enclave 10 miles south of Boston, which received $210,000. Parents said they felt blindsided by the closure, announced in June as classes ended.

“It’s like a punch to the gut because that was such a home for so many people for so long,” said Kate Nedelman Herbst, the mother of two children who attended the elementary school.

Along with more than 2,000 other school supporters, Herbst signed a written protest to O’Malley that noted the archdiocese’s robust finances. After O’Malley didn’t reply, parents appealed to the Vatican, this time underscoring the collection of Paycheck Protection Program money.

“It is very hard to reconcile the large sums of money raised by the archdiocese in recent years with this wholesale destruction of the church’s educational infrastructure,” parents wrote.

In December, the Vatican turned down their request to overrule O’Malley. Spokesman Donilon said the decision to close the school “is not being reconsidered.”

Today, the three children of Michael Waterman and his wife, Jeanine, are learning at home. And they still can’t understand why the archdiocese didn’t shift money to help save a school beloved by the faithful.

“What angers us,” Michael Waterman said, “is that we feel like, given the amount of money that the Catholic Church has, they absolutely could have remained open.”

___

Contact AP’s global investigative team at Investigative@ap.org.

Contact the reporters at https://twitter.com/reesedunklin and https://twitter.com/mikerezendes.

___

Contributing to this report were Justin Myers, Randy Herschaft, Rodrique Ngowi, Holbrook Mohr, Jason Dearen and James LaPorta.

https://apnews.com/article/catholic-church-get-aid-investigation-39a404f55c82fea84902cd16f04e37b2

Posted in - Business... None of yours, - Faith, Religion, Goodness - What is the Soul of a man?, - Politics... that "dirty" little "game" that first begins in the home., - Read 'em and weep: The Daily News, WTF | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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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Publix Grocery Stores Supports Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, January 30, 2021

Publix grocery store’s prices are SIGNIFICANTLY higher, too.


miaminewtimes.com

Publix Gave $100K to DeSantis’ Re-Election Campaign Last Month

by Jessica Lipscomb<
January 12, 2021 – 10:26am


If you’ve been paying attention, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Publix — Florida’s cult-favorite grocery store — made a six-figure contribution to the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, last month.

For years, the Lakeland-based company and members of its founding family have supported conservative causes and backed efforts to oppose progressive legislation, including the legalization of medical marijuana and the regulation of polystyrene, better known by the brand name Styrofoam. In 2018, Publix leaders gave $670,000 to a campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam. The next year, heirs to the Publix fortune donated $28,000 to Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and $25,000 to a PAC supporting DeSantis’ re-election bid.

Last month, Publix doubled down on its support for the business-friendly governor. In December, the grocery chain made four $25,000 contributions to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC, which has raised more than $50 million to date. Publix previously donated $25,000 to the committee in January 2020 and another $25,000 in November 2019, according to state records.

A spokesperson for Publix’s Florida stores did not respond to an email from New Times asking why the company supports DeSantis’ re-election.

The grocery chain has previously come under fire for its political donations. After survivors of the Parkland shooting reamed Publix for its support of Putnam, who described himself as a “proud NRA sellout,” the company in 2018 said it would re-evaluate its corporate processes for political advocacy. But the controversy died down weeks later, and Publix continued to make campaign contributions.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a Publix COVID vaccine announcement.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a Publix COVID vaccine announcement.

While many businesses have suffered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery stores like Publix have enjoyed record sales as more people shifted to eating at home. The Lakeland Ledger reported that Publix’s profits rose 41 percent for the first nine months of 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019.

Now, the pandemic is Read the rest of this entry »

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A Simple Pandemic Economy Fix: Give 10.25M People $40,000

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 28, 2021

Give money to everybody who needs money.

It’s just that simple.

How much, how many?

10,252,500 people

$30,000 cash

$10,000 in their FICA/SECA accounts

That’s a total of $40,000 per person.

The Quick-N-Easy math looks like this:

We’ll use 10,252,500 unemployed people (discussion, rationale, and calculations for that figure are later in this entry)

10,252,500 unemployed people
x $30,000 = $307,575,000,000 ($307.5 billion)

10,252,500 unemployed people
x $10,000 = $102,525,000,000 ($102.5 billion)

$307,575,000,000
+ $102,525,000,000 = $410,100,000,000 ($410.1 billion)

10,252,500 unemployed people
x $40,000 = $410,100,000,000 ($410 billion)

That’s MUCH LESS than the $1.9 TRILLION proposed.

Plus, the $10,000 FICA/SECA money would be for their employers, a $10,000 tax deduction!

Why do something like that?

First, it puts a significant amount of money (delivered in a lump sum) into the hands of hurting people. And they need that help DESPERATELY. It keeps them from being evicted/foreclosed upon, it keeps the lights turned on, and water and gas turned on, etc.

Second, it significantly helps employers, many which are also hurting, and need help. In the case of small businesses, many owners are employees of their companies, so they would also get $30,000 checks. PLUS, they would also get $10,000 checks (per se), which would be credited to the company’s books as a deduction in operating expenses, thereby increasing their profit (perhaps they’ll use it to pay down long-term debt). How they use the value of the deduction is entirely up to them, but it (the money) MUST BE PAID TO THE EMPLOYEE’S FICA ACCOUNT. In fact, the mechanics of the transaction are Read the rest of this entry »

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Can you survive on $4.50/day? The Banana Republicans think you can.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, December 23, 2020

$600?

Really?

For 9 months?

The POTUS has suddenly come out of his hidey hole and said that The People need more, and that 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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Guess Who Doesn’t Pay State Income Taxes?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, December 11, 2020

Let’s get some perspective on the unimaginably massive amount of wealth just ONE of these three men (in the article below) have.

Jeff Bezos, Founder, and CEO of Amazon dot com is, as of this writing, the wealthiest man in the world, bar none. With an estimated net worth of $183.3 billion it’s often difficult to get a grasp on the amount of money that is. So, lets give it the good ol’ college try.

$183,000,000,000 –– it’s sometimes good to simply see the number of zeros in the figure.

If, from this point forward Mr. Bezos NEVER MADE ANY MORE MONEY, and spent $100,000 every day, it would take 5013 years to spend it all.

So, let’s up the ante… SIGNIFICANTLY.

Again, using the same premise, NEVER MAKING ANY MORE MONEY, and spent $1,000,000 ($1 million) every day, it would take 50 years. Mr. Bezos is presently aged 56. And, given the current life expectancy for men in the United States – especially, and particularly men of wealth, who have the finest of everything, including health care – he could reasonably be expected to live to age 86, or 30 more years. That’s according to figures from the Social Security Administration. So clearly, spending at that rate – $1,000,000/day – he couldn’t spend it all in his lifetime.

But, let’s examine it one more way.

If he were to Read the rest of this entry »

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Sex Entertainers Have More & Better Paying Platforms Than OnlyFans

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, November 29, 2020

businessinsider.com

OnlyFans isn’t the only site for sex-work entrepreneurs. Here are 7 other platforms, with the exact cut that creators take on each.

Mark Stenberg

MelRose Michaels
MelRose Michaels, a popular sex worker with accounts on FanCentro and OnlyFans, is one of many high-profile creators using multiple platforms to extend her reach.
FanCentro

This year, as stay-at-home measures across the country led to a surge in traffic to adult entertainment websites, the rising popularity of the subscription-platform OnlyFans brought a fresh wave of criticism to the site.

Sex workers, who are largely responsible for OnlyFans’ rise in prominence, told Rolling Stone that the platform has mistreated them, mishandled their money, and sometimes kicked them off inexplicably. As OnlyFans’ burgeoning popularity attracted celebrities, sex workers complained to The New Statesman that the site they had made famous was now abandoning them to cater to its newly joined, more influential creators.

In the wake of this growing animosity, a number of OnlyFans competitors have gained traction. Like OnlyFans, these sites use a subscription model and similar payout rates, meaning creators can profit directly off their content. Some even offer components that make their pages feel more like social media, such as stories and the ability to “follow” creators without subscribing to them, features that OnlyFans lacks.

They also differ from OnlyFans in another important way: They champion their sex workers and broadcast their committment to giving them a platform.

“The main reason I decided to leave was because I have read articles and seen people talking on Twitter about how OnlyFans has been deleting sex workers’ accounts with no reason and no warning, and sometimes people have lost thousands of dollars,” said sex worker Jamie Zella in a YouTube video.

Still, with more than 70 million registered users, OnlyFans remains the most popular of these subscription-based sex-work platforms, meaning the site’s network effects make it hard to quit; creators flock to where the traffic is, no matter their misgivings. To accomodate this reality, creators like MelRose Michaels have accounts on more than one platform.

Nonetheless, many of these OnlyFans competitors see the site’s dismissive treatment of their core users as a clear business opportunity. If OnlyFans won’t appreciate their sex workers, these sites will. Below is a list of OnlyFans competitors that employ similar business models but more openly support their sex-work creators. Read the rest of this entry »

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$16T Is Not COVID-19 Costs, It’s Racism’s Costs

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

40 acres and a mule.

That was the promise which was authorized and made to freed slaves by General Tecumseh Sherman in Special Field Order No. 15 on January 16, 1865, during the last days of the Civil War.

It was promptly broken by President Johnson, who was a slave owner, and had become President upon Lincoln’s assassination.

America has been breaking promises at least since 1776.

America has broken numerous promises to, and treaties with Indians (Native Americans).

America broke numerous promises to Blacks – and, still is.

And, in large part, America has broken faith with the Common Man at least ever since 1980, so that now, “corporations are people, my friend.” {So said Mitt Romney while campaigning at the Iowa State Fair to be the Republican party’s Presidential Nominee in August 2011.}

I wish that America’s politicians
(especially the GOP)
cared more for The People
than for corporations.

Anyone that loves America, loves her people, loves the idea of liberty, of equality, and guaranteed rights under law, should also love honesty, justice, and responsibility. And one simply CANNOT examine any segment of American history without acknowledging the horrific and grotesque inequity present FROM THE BEGINNING of this nation. It’s written in the Constitution, for heaven’s sake!

Women did not have the right to vote (suffrage).

Blacks were enslaved. Then, Blacks were continually discriminated against in seemingly countless ways – ranging from the denial of voting rights, of commerce, of justice, and more. And, as if to add insult to injury, the 13th Amendment has an exclusion clause FOR the purpose of perpetuating slavery. The amendment reads: Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

“…except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted…”

Yes, slavery IS 100% Legal in the United States. The Constitution says so.

And to ANYONE who claims or asserts that there is not now institutionalized racism in this country need only look to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to see that racism is institutionalized, and alive and well in the United States.

In the 1999 Class Action case Pigford v. Glickman(Timothy Pigford, et al., v. Dan Glickman, Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture), “the suit claimed that the agency had discriminated against black farmers on the basis of race and failed to investigate or properly respond to complaints from 1983 to 1997.” Members of the class included those who received allocation of farm loans and assistance between 1981 and 1996. (See: “Black Farmers Win $1.25 Billion In Discrimination Suit,” By Jasmin Melvin, February 18, 2010, online at
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-farmers-pigford-idUSTRE61H5XD20100218)

• The 2007 Census of Agriculture reported that 2.20 million farms operated in the United States. Of this total, 32,938, or approximately 1.5% of all farms, were operated by African Americans.

• Over 74% (24,466) of African American farmers in the United States reside in Texas, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Louisiana.

• Average annual market value for farms operated by African American farmers in 2007 was $30,829. The national average for white U.S. farmers was $140,521.

• Overall, the number of farms operated in the United States increased by 3.2% between 2002 and 2007. Farms operated by African Americans increased from 29,090 to 32,938, an 11.7% increase over the five-year period.

• In 2007, 348 (757 in 2002) African American farmers received Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) loans amounting to a total of $9.9 million. This averaged $28,408 per participating African American farmer, about 32% of the national average ($87,917). Average CCC loan value to white farmers was $88,379.

• Other federal farm payments to African American operated farms averaged $4,260, half the national average government farm payment of $9,518. About 31% of all African American farmers received some government payment compared to 50% of white farmers.

The Congressional Research Service has written about the Pigford v Glickman case in Read the rest of this entry »

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The Direction America Should Go In, Is…

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Most polls which ask the question “Do you think America is headed in the right direction?” find that an exceeding majority of respondents answer “NO” to that very simple, straight-forward question.

Since January 2009 to today (October 13, 2020), those who believe the country is on the wrong track has ranged from a high of 76.5% to a low of 45.8%, with the majority occurring in the 60% range for most of that time, who think the country is headed in the wrong direction. That’s according to the averaged aggregate polling data collected by RealClearPolitics from a variety of polling organizations.

About the President, some have intoned sarcastically, “Poor ol’ Trump is the only President that has ever made mistakes.”

No, of course not, and it’s easy to understand the tenor and gist of such sarcasm.

Flooding by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans

I can say, have said, and will say this, however, and it is that, to date, in our nation’s history, he is the ONLY President whom has NEVER held any office of Public Trust of any kind, whatsoever – neither elected nor appointed – nor has he EVER volunteered for or with any kind of Public Service in ANY capacity with any public policy or public service-based organization. And for that reason, he is as unfit for duty as his bone spurs made him during Vietnam.

While many criticize and make political hay out of regarding a candidate’s “inexperience,” and tout that as being a strong point of benefit, there is this to consider – which I’ll explain using analogy.

Most people are employees. They have a job to do, and do it well. But they’ve never owned, nor run a company of any kind.

So it would be utterly preposterous, absurd, and even stupid, to imagine that just anyone would be able to step into Jeff Bezos’s shoes (Amazon’s Founder, President, CEO) and perform his job at least as good as he does.

We would be utter failures… just like the President is.

Another part of that problem is that the President’s “mistakes,” or “failures,” as they’re properly called, affects 330,441,455 people, and the world’s LARGEST economy.

And on that note, I’ll make this observation:

As the world’s 3rd most populous nation, to China and India, respectively, each with over 1 BILLION MORE people than we have, it is the height of absurdity and preposterousness to imagine for even a moment that somehow, with that many people and STILL GROWING, that we should somehow have a “smaller” government is not merely stupid, it is moronic.

Analogously again, it’s like imagining that you should wear smaller clothes the bigger you get. It’s nonsensical on the order of Alice in Wonderland.

VERY few people want to talk about it, and even FEWER want to hear it, but… because our elected officials Read the rest of this entry »

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A Family First: Joe Kennedy III first in the clan to lose a Massachusetts election

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, September 2, 2020

To which I say,

GOOD!

It’s about damn time!

Joe Kennedy III, who is the 40-year old grandson of slain Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, challenged incumbent Ed Markey for the state’s upcoming U.S. Senate seat in the Democratic primary.

Kennedy lost.

It was a landmark, a high water mark, an event of immensely significant importance.

Perhaps it even intoned cataclysmic changes ahead.

Good ones, of course.

Just like “good trouble.”

The Boston Globe characterized Kennedy’s campaign style as an “increasingly bare-knuckled offensive,” while the headlines across the world were interesting… if not telling.

Let’s examine a few of the headlines from throughout the nation, and then, we’ll move along to WHY it’s a good thing that not-so-poor little Joe P. Kennedy III lost.

• The Boston Globe had a straight-forward “Ed Markey beats Joe Kennedy in Senate primary.

• While the Boston Herald wrote a more colorful, “Joe Kennedy, others lose out to the old geezer incumbents.”

• The Daily Mail of the United Kingdom, however, had a more telling, embarrassing, and detailed pronouncement, “The end of a dynasty: RFK’s grandson Joe Kennedy III becomes the first member of his family to lose a Massachusetts election as he is defeated in Senate primary in JFK’s old seat.

• New York’s venerable “Gray Lady” wrote semi-wishful we-wish-it-was-almost-a-contest type of headline as, “Markey Holds Off Joseph Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate Race.”

• The Rupert Murdoch-owned right-leaning tabloid-type New York Post wrote, “Joe Kennedy III suffers stinging defeat to Ed Markey in Mass. Senate primary.

• The Daily Beast wrote an unvarnished sobriquet, “Sen. Ed Markey Fends Off Challenge From Rep. Joe Kennedy III-Camelot Lost.”

• NPR wrote a steady-as-she-goes observation that, “Markey Fends Off Kennedy Challenge In High Profile Mass. Senate Primary.

• The Los Angeles Times wrote a semi-obituary with, “A Kennedy loses in Massachusetts and a storied dynasty fades.

• The Hill composed a  bare bones headline with, “Markey defeats Kennedy in Massachusetts.

• POLITICO wrote a blame-game headline with, “The Unlikely Kennedy Who Ended the Kennedy Dynasty.

• Ever the standard, the Associated Press wrote, “Markey defeats Kennedy III in Massachusetts’ Senate primary.”

• Business Insider wrote a more opinionated headline with, “Ed Markey defeats primary challenger Rep. Joe Kennedy, in a major victory for the left.

• Bloomberg wrote a fact-based, plain-Jane headline with, “Ed Markey Wins Massachusetts Democratic Primary, Defeating Joe Kennedy.

• The Chicago Tribune similarly wrote a fact-based headline with, “Sen. Edward Markey defeats Rep. Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts’ Senate primary.”

• CNN had a different historical name recognition perspective with, “Sen. Ed Markey defeats a Kennedy in Massachusetts.

• CQ RollCall wrote, “A Massachusetts first: Kennedy loses Senate primary to Markey.”

• The Guardian wrote a fact-based, “Edward Markey defeats Joe Kennedy in Massachusetts Democratic primary.

• United Press International wrote a no-frills, straight-forward, “Ed Markey defeats Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts primary race.”

Here’s also a wee bit of background to aid understanding.

Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr. (wearing glasses) family portrait

The Kennedy name, of course, is renown in American politics. And for perspective, Joe P. III is the grandson of the slain Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968). And Joe P. III is named for the family progenitor, Joseph Patrick Kennedy (1888-1969) – long rumored by numerous sources to have been a bootlegger during Prohibition, which, if the sources were lying, and the claim not true, would question their motives, since the senior Kennedy has long been dead.

That piddling matter aside, however, suffice it to say that the Kennedy family is wealthy… VERY wealthy. Maybe not Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet wealthy, but wealthy nonetheless. Forbes magazine writer Carl O’Donnell in the July 8, 2014 online edition, wrote about the Kennedy family wealth as follows:

“If America had an aristocracy, the most titled bloodline would certainly be the Kennedys. In the past half century, one Kennedy after another has occupied nearly every political position America has to offer, including the roles of congressman, senator, ambassador, mayor, SEC chairman, state representative, city councilman, and, of course, President.

“The sustaining force behind the Kennedys reign is hardly a secret. Thanks to Joseph P. Kennedy, who made a fortune from insider trading only to later chair the SEC, the family is fabulously rich. But exactly how much is America’s first family worth? Forbes pegs the extended family’s fortune at $1 billion.

“Protected by a labyrinth of trusts, as well as tax strategies that would make Joseph P. Kennedy proud, the Kennedy fortune now spans approximately 30 family members, and includes the surnames Shriver, Lawford and the Smith. At nearly $175 million as of 2013, Caroline Kennedy is the richest descendant by far, but more modestly endowed relatives, such as Robert Shriver, who is running for Los Angeles County Supervisor, still possess assets in the tens of millions, according to public financial disclosures required of government officials.

“The bulk of the family’s wealth is held in dozens of trusts, which range in value from tens of thousands to as much as $25 million. Nearly all are managed by Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises, a family office located in New York City with assets dating back to 1927, according to Christopher Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy family who sits on the office’s board.

“Joseph P. Kennedy’s choice to place his fortune in trusts is possibly the single most critical reason why the family wealth is still around today. The most obvious benefit was to protect the fortune from the prying fingers of ne’er-do-well heirs, said Laurence Leamer, who wrote three Kennedy biographies. Trusts often prevent beneficiaries from tapping more than 10 percent of principal, said Rick Kruse, principal at Kruse and Crawford, which offers estate management advice.

“The trusts also protect the family assets from another set of prying fingers: Uncle Sam’s. By holding assets in so called “dynasty trusts,” which are passed from heir to heir for decades, if not longer, the Kennedy family fortune is largely insulated from the estate tax, Kruse said. Handled correctly, a dynasty trust could potentially maintain an un-taxable fortune indefinitely. The oldest Kennedy trust on record dates back to 1936.

“Like politics, tax savvy seems to run in the Kennedy family. The most recent example is Read the rest of this entry »

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Robert Reich: GOP Is A Clueless One Trick Pony

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, August 16, 2020

It’s true what Madam Speaker Pelosi said about the GOP to host Jim Cramer, August 6, 2020 on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” program:

“That’s the problem. See, the thing is, they don’t believe in governance. They don’t believe in governance, and that requires some acts of government to do that.”

Until such time as the GOP figures out that Donald “DJ” Trump has been BAD for America, and BAD for the Republican party, they’ll drop his sorry carcass like a hot potato. He’ll be anathema, a practical political pariah to them.

But, the damage has already been done.

Time to move along.

Progress.

Something alien to the GOP.

Eliminating agencies, and cutting taxes can only go so far.

Under their plan, soon enough, there’d be no government, and no money to run it.

We’re a nation of 330,000,000 people… and growing daily.

We have SIGNIFICANT, unaddressed needs in this nation that require diligent attention, and bravery to remedy. Cutting taxes won’t cut it. Eliminating laws, policies, and agencies is contrary to the very premise of the increased needs that accompany increased population.

The GOP just doesn’t get it.


US voters can replace a party that knows how to fight with one that knows how to govern

The division between Republicans and Democrats is no longer between left and right but between different core competences.

by Robert Reich

Sunday 16 Aug 2020 01.00 EDT
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/16/us-election-democrats-republicans-trump

As America heads into its quadrennial circus of nominating conventions (this year’s even more surreal because of the pandemic), it’s important to understand the real difference between America’s two political parties at this point in history.

Instead of “left” versus “right”, think of two different core competences.

Robert Reich served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton, was Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997, and was a member of President Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board.
As well, since 2006, he has been the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California Berkeley, was formerly Professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Professor of Social and Economic Policy at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

The Democratic party is basically a governing party, organized around developing and implementing public policies. The Republican party has become an attack party, organized around developing and implementing political vitriol. Democrats legislate. Republicans fulminate.

In theory, politics requires both capacities – to govern, but also to fight to attain and retain power. The dysfunction today is that Republicans can’t govern and Democrats can’t fight.

Donald Trump is the culmination of a half-century of Republican belligerence. Richard Nixon’s “dirty tricks” were followed by Republican operative Lee Atwater’s smear tactics, Newt Gingrich’s take-no-prisoners reign as House speaker, the “Swift-boating” of John Kerry, and the Republicans’ increasingly blatant uses of racism and xenophobia to build an overwhelmingly white, rural base.

Atwater, trained in the southern swamp of the modern Republican party, once noted: “Republicans in the south could not win elections by talking about issues. You had to make the case that the other guy, the other candidate, is a bad guy.” Over time, the GOP’s core competence came to be vilification.

The stars of today’s Republican party, in addition to Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump Confirms He’s Interfering With 2020 Election

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 13, 2020

This is about the 2nd, or 3rd time POTUS has stated that he is specifically denying funding for the Constitutionally-mandated United States Postal Service in order to delay the tallying of ballots sent through the USPS.

This is blatantly – as he has so stated this time, and others – an attempt to thwart the will of The People by interfering with the election.

Furthermore, it would make perfectly good, and logical sense for the USPS to have the money they need to resolve any problems, just as much as it would for states and municipalities to have the money they need in the matter of balloting.

Frankly, it’s nonsensical to assert that a problem exists and to refuse to provide the resources, financial, or otherwise, necessary to remedy the problem.


https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/6180774889001/?playlist_id=3166411554001

Trump calls in on Maria Bartiromo’s “Maria in the Morning” show on Fox Business News

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Trump: Coronavirus stimulus negotiations sticking point is mail-in voting

Aug. 13, 2020 – 40:46 – President Trump speaks exclusively to FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo in a wide-ranging interview on Kamala Harris, what the economy will do if Joe Biden wins the presidential election, Read the rest of this entry »

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How Does Trump Prop Up His Failing Coronavirus Economy?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, August 11, 2020

He orders the Federal Reserve Chairman to buy stocks, bonds, and Exchange Traded Funds.

Yep… buying stocks and bonds will work just perfectly, because BUSINESS!

How much sense does that make, eh?

Buying stocks in companies that could go belly-up because NO ONE is BUYING their stuff is nonsensical – it’s a non-starter, a non sequitur.

Jerome Powell, Chair, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve speaks to guests during a conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, June 4, 2019.

Then who’s left holding the bag, eh?

You, me, and the taxpayers.

Instead, the Fed should just GIVE MONEY TO PEOPLE… who in turn will SPEND IT.

And THAT is what those firms need – paying customers.

You see?

It’ll end up in the companies’ hands, anyway.

So as long as Read the rest of this entry »

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What Condition Is Our Condition In?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 6, 2020

“I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.”

– partial lyric from “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” as popularized by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition, 1968

Some critics would point to the recent economic downturn caused by our nation’s inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic as proof positive that we should completely forego any attempts or efforts to control spread of the disease.

With cries of “I want my freedom!” and other similar remarks, of right-wing extremists, in conjunction with their attacks on states’ capitols (most notably in Wisconsin) with loaded assault rifles, and their attempts to disrupt the legislatures, are evidence, and proof positive that the “wrong wing” is purely misguided, and even

The American Industrial Production Index (IPI) “measures levels of production by the manufacturing sector, mining – including oil and gas field drilling services – and electrical and gas utilities. It also measures capacity, an estimate of the production levels that could be sustainably maintained; and capacity utilization, the ratio of actual output to capacity.”

The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) publishes the IPI in the middle of every month, and revisions to previous estimates are released at the end of every March.

In short, it is a head-on, unvarnished examination of the underlying ability of the industrial sector to meet the demands placed upon the economic infrastructure in order to continue and sustain economic growth.

If you’re really froggy, the Federal Reserve states this about the IPI, which they call the INPRO:

The Industrial Production Index (INDPRO) is an economic indicator that measures real output for all facilities located in the United States manufacturing, mining, and electric, and gas utilities (excluding those in U.S. territories).(1)
Since 1997, the Industrial Production Index has been determined from 312 individual series based on the 2007 North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes. These individual series are classified in two ways (1) market groups and (2) industry groups. (1) The Board of Governors defines markets groups as products (aggregates of final products) and materials (inputs used in the manufacture of products). Consumer goods and business equipment can be examples of market groups. “Industry groups are defined as three digit NAICS industries and aggregates of these industries such as durable and nondurable manufacturing, mining, and utilities.”(1)(2)
The index is compiled on a monthly basis to bring attention to short- term changes in industrial production,. It measures movements in production output and highlights structural developments in the economy. (1) Growth in the production index from month to month is an indicator of growth in the industry.
For more information regarding the Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization index, see the explanatory notes issued by the Board of Governors.

References
(1) Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. “Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization.” Statistical release G.17; May 2013.
(1) For recent reports on market and industry groups, please visit the Board of Governors.

Now, if you’ve managed to slog through (or skip over) the preceding information, you’re in good shape to continue.

The American economy as demonstrated by the Industrial Production Index has NOT changed significantly since 1999.

Simply look at the “90” line along the vertical column, and follow it through to April 2020.

Because of President Pollyanna’s approach to governing, decline in the economy – which could have been prevented – the economy is essentially back to where it was in 1999.

Federal Reserve Economic Data, Industrial Production Index, January 1998-June 2020

Up, down, up, down… it’s like a roller coaster – until about 2015, when it hits a high in November 2014 of 106.6634, then “recovers” slightly to March 2016 at 101.4155, then increases again, until it peaks in December 2018 at 110.5516, then pegs along around 109/110, and then, in February 2020 at 109.3246, thereafter falls to 91.1991 in April 2020, where it begins to show some modest improvement through June to 97.4587.

As we all know, things don’t stay down, and once again, it’ll eventually return to elevated levels, but we don’t know exactly how long it’ll take.

Federal Reserve Economic Data, Real Disposable Personal Income (RDPI) 2010-June 2020 –– As shown here, the CARES Act provided a GENUINE and substantial economic stimulus, which is still ongoing.

And in an effort to stave off almost certain practical wholesale economic collapse, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020.

As seen in the FRED graph (Federal Reserve Economic Data), even though Real Personal Disposable Income (RDPI) has declined somewhat since significant boost to a high in April, as of June, the effects of the CARES Act were still ongoing, and have not fallen below February, or March levels – which is a good sign. It means that the economic boost WORKED by placing money in the people’s hands.

And now, the GOP wants to stop it all.

Madam Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it best today on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” program when interviewed by the host Jim Cramer who asked,

 “I like your spirit of being more upbeat, more optimistic so I will offer this: why can’t you go across the aisle and say, ‘Representative Lewis, civil rights legend, would have loved it if we could do something for the totally disenfranchised in this country. No matter what, can we give a huge chunk of money to the people who are disenfranchised, to minorities who want so badly to stay in business and can’t and to people who are trying to go to college or have student loans who are minorities who are the most affected because they had the least chance in our country?’ That’s got to be something both sides can agree to.”

In reply, Madam Speaker Pelosi said,

“Yeah.  That’s the problem.  See, the thing is, they don’t believe in governance.  They don’t believe in governance, and that requires some acts of government to do that.  But just what you described is what Mr. Schumer, Chuck Schumer, is proposing that we do with some of the resources in the bill.  And that – you described Chuck Schumer’s proposal exactly, in addition to the Heroes Act.

If we’re talking about how much and how long and how targeted, if we’re going to juggle some of this money, let’s focus it where it’s going to do the most good.  And basically, economists tell us, spend the money, invest the money for those who need it the most, because they will spend it.  It will be a stimulus or at least a stabilization of – and that’s a good thing.  Consumer confidence is a good thing for the economy.  You know that better than anyone.

And one of the things we want to do just before we leave on this, what we’re trying to do to help hotels, which are big employers, restaurants, which are big employers and the rest, is to lower the threshold for how someone can qualify for a second loan.  Republicans have it at 50 percent.

Nydia Velázquez, our Chairman, is urging a 30 percent threshold or 30 percent of revenues, of losses from the previous year.  It was based on the previous quarter – the similar quarter of the former year.  Now, we’re talking about the whole year, and 30 percent rather than 50 percent, which would make, I’m told by the hospitality industry, a big difference for them.  Many jobs, many entry level jobs, many union jobs, many people of color jobs, and I would hope that they would consider that.

Jim Cramer:  Okay.  I’m so glad you mentioned Congresswoman Velázquez, who is my Congresswoman.  I think she knows small business better than anyone.  I also believe that Chairman Powell would agree with that.

Speaker Pelosi, thank you for coming on Squawk on the Street.

Speaker Pelosi:  My pleasure.  Thank you.  Always a pleasure.  Thank you.

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How BAD is Trump’s Economy?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, August 2, 2020

Trump’s economy is so bad, that…

Before we talk about how BAD it is, first…

Let’s turn to some official agencies to answer that question.

We’ll start with information from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s Economic Data.

Here’s a picture – it’s said that they’re worth 1000 words.

The DARK GRAY is Trump’s term in office, while the white line reflects the Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP – “real” means adjusted for inflation year-to-year) – which has consistently increased since Obama’s first quarter in his first term in office.

The MEDIUM GRAY (and DARK GRAY) areas represent the extent of Trump’s Economic Losses.

The LIGHT GRAY (at G.W. Bush’s end of term in office -and- presently) are representative of Economic Recessions.

So now that you’ve had an opportunity to examine the chart, let’s Read the rest of this entry »

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Congressional Apportionment & Illegal Aliens

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, July 24, 2020

Mo Brooks is Alabama’s 5th Congressional District Republican Representative.

Earlier yesterday, Alabama’s 5th Congressional District Representative Morris Jackson “Mo” Brooks appeared on the NPR program On Point.

His appearance was in reference to a Federal lawsuit in which he, and the State of Alabama (through its Attorney General Steve Marshall), are plaintiffs, which raised a question about enumeration, and apportionment.¹

(Read the lawsuit here: State of AL & Mo Brooks v US Census Bureau)

Specifically, the state is concerned that they might lose a seat in reapportionment – along with the Federal dollars that accompany it – because of concern that other states might increase their apportionment of the 435 Members of the House of Representatives.

Now, if you think about it, that’s ironic, if not outright hypocritical, because Alabama is a significant recipient of government largess, aka “tax dollars” more so, than they send in. In other words, Alabama is a welfare recipient state. And welfare is something anathema to GOPers.

But it’s not as if Alabama hasn’t been shortchanged before. The “Alabama Paradox,” which interestingly – and, again ironically – is the inversely proportional phenomenon in which a state’s population increases, yet Congressional representation decreases, which was first discovered in 1880 by C. W. Seaton, Chief Clerk of the United States Census Bureau, who calculated apportionments for all House sizes between 275 and 350, and discovered that Alabama would get 8 seats with a House size of 299, but only 7 with a House size of 300. The same phenomenon was discovered to exist with new states admitted to the union (such as with Colorado in 1900), and generally refers to an apportionment scenario in which increasing the number of Representatives would decrease at least one state’s number of representatives in the House.

Mathematically, of course, it’s impossible to have a perfectly equal representation, which was proven in 1983 by two mathematicians, Michel Balinski and Peyton Young, who discovered that any method of apportionment which does not violate the quota rule – being that the number of seats to be allocated should be between the upper or lower roundings of its fractional proportional share – will result in paradoxes whenever there are three or more states. Earlier, in 1980, the Balinski–Young theorem proved that if an apportionment method satisfies the quota rule, it must fail to satisfy some apportionment paradox.

But, determining methods to apportion is getting much too complex, and practically misses the entire point, which is that the Constitution plainly states that ALL people should be counted, and Alabama is claiming that all people should NOT be counted, alleging that illegal aliens constitute an inordinate number of people in the nation.

Again, Alabama has been down that path before with their HB56 law written by Kris Kobach when he was Kansas Secretary of State, which sought to exclude people from legal rights (freedom of movement, etc.) and long-standing protections, based upon their immigration status, which was typically determined by looking at skin color, or surname, and little else. Federal courts have since struck down most of the law.

The wording in the recent Alabama & Mo Brooks v Census Bureau suit states that “plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that the Residence Rule is unconstitutional because an apportionment of members of the House of Representatives and Electoral College votes among the states based on population figures which include illegal aliens would violate § 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, Article I, § 2’s requirement of an “actual Enumeration” of the population of the United States, and Article II, § 1 of the United States Constitution.”

The suit seeks remedy through a rather perverse – and un-Constitutional – means, making accusation that illegal aliens (aka undocumented immigrants, otherwise known as people who are here in violation of immigration law, such as Canadians, who illegally overstayed their visas, which research showed are far more abundant than Hispanics, or Mexicans, and in 2016-17 accounted for at least 93,000 – more than any other nation), and that such contravention is anathema to the purpose of the Census, which states that all people shall be counted, making no differentiation among citizens, and non-citizens… at least none that we now know of – except for the Indian thing (“excluding Indians not taxed”)… and the Three-Fifths Compromise and the 13th Amendment, which still allows slavery, albeit “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

Most recently, on July 21, 2020, the White House wrote a “Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce” which was entitled “Memorandum on Excluding Illegal Aliens From the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census,” and acknowledged in part that, “The Constitution does not specifically define which persons must be included in the apportionment base.” That’s interesting, because as they continue down the rabbit hole of their illogic, they conclude with the President having the final say in the Census by writing “The President, by law, makes the final determination regarding the “whole number of persons in each State,” which determines the number of Representatives to be apportioned to each State, and transmits these determinations and accompanying census data to the Congress (2 U.S.C. 2a(a)).”

However, the law which they quote 2 U.S.C. 2a(a) states in pertinent part, that “the President shall transmit to the Congress a statement showing the whole number of persons in each State…” not that the President shall make any changes, or additions.

Moreover, there’s likely little disagreement that Read the rest of this entry »

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Should We Give Tax Dollars To Churches?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, July 13, 2020

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

Since before our nation’s founding, the framers of the Constitution had very powerful feelings about religion. Not that they were religious men and women, per se – some were, some weren’t – but that they didn’t want the government to tell them how they ought to worship, if they so chose to do.

In fact, they despised the idea so much that some folks (think “pilgrims”) traveled across an ocean in a small wooden sailboat which was little more than an over-sized primitive row-boat, to a far-away land, where literally no one knew them, just in order to escape the overbearing behavior of the ruler of the government (a king), who also just so happened to also be the head of the officially-recognized, governmentally-supported and approved state-sponsored religion – The Church of England.

Yeah.

Governmentally supported.

“Supported” as in “took tax money to give to the church” – the state-sponsored church… the one of which the king was the head – the chief priest, if you prefer.

Yeah.

THAT church.

So, they got so sick and tired of the “long arm of the law” reaching into their pockets and Read the rest of this entry »

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All The Gold In California

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, July 6, 2020

Y’know… one thing which I appreciate about the Bloomberg site, is that they don’t seem to be exclusively limited to interests of business, per se.

That is, matters of business MUST, and do, involve people – as employees, and customers – and without either of those two groups of people, no business would exist.

For many years – I don’t know how many, but for a very L – O – N – G time – I have taken exception to, and disagreed with the statement that “the customer is the most important person in any business.”

From my perch in the catbird seat, I demurred, and stated that the EMPLOYEE is the most important person in any business, because a disgruntled employee can cost beaucoup bucks in lost sales/revenues. And many disgruntled employees will sink a company – regardless of who is at the helm. That’s because the adage is true, that the sailors run the ship, not the captain. And they allow the captain to do so (to lead them) by their consent – the consent of the governed. A mutiny is a very serious matter.

Point being, is that happy employees make happy customers, and happy customers buy things, and say good things about the company, and the employees.

It was only relatively recently that I learned that Sir Richard Branson – Founder of the Virgin Group, a privately-held multinational venture capitol conglomerate – says the same thing, that employees are the most important people in any business.

The irony of ironies is that despite the political differences in the many seemingly disparate voices today, is that Republicans, Democrats, and all others, want the same thing: A good job, a decent place to live, secure transportation, ability to feed themselves and their family, education for their children, and to be healthy enough to enjoy it all. Food, clothing, and shelter… those are not hard things to understand. Neither are they difficult to obtain. They’re not like the mythical “unobtainium.”

But we the people, despite what some may say otherwise, are not in a good place in this nation for the long-haul. What has happened, is that within our lifetimes, we the people have been sold a bill of false goods that somehow less is more, that the larger and more populous our nation becomes (we’re right at 330,000,000 – the third most populous on Earth, behind China and India, respectively each with over 1 BILLION more than us), the smaller the government will become, that somehow, mysteriously or magically, at some point, it will eventually disappear – because we’ll all be able to self-govern and therefore do not need external governance.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

And yet, that’s PRECISELY what “the Great Communicator” Ronald Reagan said in his first Inaugural Address immediately after he proclaimed that “government is the problem.”

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.”

Now, my point is NOT to “bash Regan” per se, but to point out the obvious – which is that Read the rest of this entry »

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Which is more important – money, or life?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 25, 2020

One again, Republicans are demonstrating their lackadaisical reckless attitude toward human life, and thereby proving that they care little, if anything, about Americans of any stripe.

Whether young, old, infant, geriatric, sick, healthy, able, disabled, veteran, civilian, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, well-educated, poorly-educated, gay, straight, bi, gender non-conforming, or anything of all points in between – it makes no difference. Money is their god. The Almighty Dollar rules.

They and their feckless titular leader are forcing ALL Americans to bow before the altar of Mammon, sacrificing our wise elders, children, even the unborn, to the all-consuming selfish fires of commerce.

The radicalized members of the Party of Trump are your “Death Panels.” They are the very thing Republicans warned America which would happen if the PPACA were to become enacted — which is not even anything even remotely close to Single Payer/Medicare For All.

And yet, even though they’ve continually tried their damndest to kill the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka “ObamaCare,” and every vestige of it since the day it was enacted on March 23, 2010, they’ve still not managed to come up with any alternative whatsoever.

Nada.

Bupkis.

Not only have the GOP’s dire predictions not come true, nor have they even remotely happened, but they’re still showing America what they think is TRULY important – money, money, money… MONEY!

––//––

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/13/poll-coronavirus-reopen-trump-republicans-252726

Republican voters have undergone a significant shift on the coronavirus in a few short weeks.

A month ago, half of GOP voters said they were more worried about 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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Guess What’s a Matter of National Security?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 10, 2020

Even our spooks see it.
Why?
It’s a matter of National Security.
Period.
End of conversation.
“Long-term problems for the US include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits.”  
 
“But the globalization of trade, and especially the rise of low-wage producers such as China, has put additional downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the return to capital. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income.”
The ONLY question remaining is:

What are we 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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“Radical reforms” are needed to stabilize economy.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 6, 2020

The Financial Times is no slouch organization – neither are they “left-leaning,” nor “liberal,” per se – at least not in the common, modern political sense.

They’re as “conservative” as they come.

And to read that “an irregular and precarious labour market,” combined with “monetary loosening by central banks [that] will help the asset-rich,” the loss of income by ” the young and active,” multiplied by

In short, nothing but “radical reforms” – defined as “reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades” – will save individual nations’ economies, and the global economy at large.

The “laissez faire” attitude toward business, economy, and finance must be replaced by governments taking “a more active role in the economy,” including making “labour markets less insecure.”

Investing in public economic infrastructure, i.e, considering “public services as investments,” reconsidering the notion of “redistribution” of wealth, in conjunction with eliminating “the privileges of the elderly and wealthy,” and implementing “basic income and wealth taxes” will no longer be “considered eccentric.”

In short, “you must offer a social contract that benefits everyone.”

Suddenly (it seems), Bernie’s ideas aren’t so “radical,” anymore.

Suddenly (it seems), Elizabeth Warren’s ideas aren’t “way out in left field.”

Suddenly (it seems), Andrew Yang’s “Freedom Dividend” isn’t “extremist.”

Suddenly (it seems), everything old is new again.

But, you know the saying,

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

–– George Santayana (1863-1952), Spanish philosopher, writing in The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress (1905-1906), “Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense”

The post-WWII Bretton Woods agreement, which pegged international currencies to the U.S. Dollar, which was itself based upon the “Gold Standard,” will again be in the fore of discussion, and was unilaterally abolished by then-POTUS Richard Nixon through a series of measures called the “Nixon Shock” which effectively destroyed the Agreement, which was created when the world’s nations assembled in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to establish a globally stabilizing economic system.

The Federal Reserve writes this about the Bretton Woods agreement:

“The international monetary system after World War II was dubbed the Bretton Woods system after the meeting of forty-four countries in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944. The countries agreed to keep their currencies fixed (but adjustable in exceptional situations) to the dollar, and the dollar was fixed to gold. Since 1958, when the Bretton Woods system became operational, countries settled their international balances in dollars, and US dollars were convertible to gold at a fixed exchange rate of $35 an ounce. The United States had the responsibility of keeping the dollar price of gold fixed and had to adjust the supply of dollars to maintain confidence in future gold convertibility.”

Up until the time of the “Nixon Shock,” employees’ wages in the United States had generally kept pace with increases in GDP, or economic output. But after the “Nixon Shock” in 1971, wages have essentially flat-lined, while GDP has risen.

In response to Nixon’s unilateral decision, the ten leading developed nations in the world – Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States – entered into an agreement monikered as the Smithsonian Agreement which was a temporary agreement negotiated in 1971 which adjusted the system of fixed exchange rates established under the Bretton Woods Agreement and created a new standard for the dollar, to which other industrialized nations then pegged their currencies to the U.S. dollar.

As Certified Financial Analyst Michael Lebowitz, wrote in 2016, “unshackling the U.S. monetary system from the discipline of a gold standard, allowed the Fed to play a leading role in replacing the Virtuous Cycle with an Un-Virtuous Cycle. Eliminating the risk of global redemption of U.S. dollars for gold also eliminated the discipline, the checks and balances, on deficit spending by the government and its citizens. As the debt accumulated, the requirement on the Federal Reserve to drive interest rates lower became mandatory to enable the economic system to service that debt. And this effectively changed the course of U.S. economic history.”

These observations, and others, are, and have been, borne out by others, as well, such as in February 14, 2019, by Bloomberg writer Noah Smith, who wrote about wage stagnation in part that, “Workers lost a lot of ground between 1973 and 1994, and didn’t make up enough of it between 1994 and 2009. Stronger worker representation within companies, as well as government health care, would help restore some of those losses.”

But perhaps the simplest explanation I’ve ever heard, or read, about the value of good, strong and effective regulation is one which I’ve said for many years, which is this:

Regulations strengthen markets the same way that regulations create competitive sports, and operate machinery. Remove regulations and games become a pointless free-for-all, while removing or changing regulations on an automobile engine (such as through changing timing), and it will self-destruct fairly quickly.

But again, it seems that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Are our memories truly that Alzheimered?

Or, do we just not give a damn?

I contend that for some, Read the rest of this entry »

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Report: Renewable Energy Cheaper

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Read the original report here:
https://carbontracker.org/reports/handbrake-turn/

Nearly $640 billion coal investments undercut by cheap renewables: research

by Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters) – Nearly $640 billion of investment in coal power capacity worldwide is at risk because it is cheaper to generate electricity from new renewables, research by think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative showed on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Smoke billows out of the towers of the coal-powered Kosovo Power Plant A in Obilic, near Pristina December 5, 2013. REUTERS/Hazir Reka/File Photo

Institutional investors are increasingly withdrawing from fossil fuel companies due to the risk their assets will become stranded as tougher emissions-cuts targets discourage their use and renewable energy becomes even cheaper.

The report examined the economics of 95% of coal plants which are operating, under construction or planned worldwide.
Globally, 499 gigawatts (GW) of new coal power capacity is planned or under construction with an investment cost of $638 billion.

More than 60% of global coal plants are currently generating electricity at a higher cost than could be produced by building new renewables.

By 2030 at the latest, it will be cheaper to build new wind or solar capacity than continue operating coal in all markets, the report said.

The capital recovery period for new investments in coal capacity is usually 15 to 20 years, making these investments risky.

“Renewables are out-competing coal 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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Alabama Man Pleads Guilty To Selling Cars He Didn’t Own: Where’s the crime?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, February 24, 2020

According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, and various related published stories, 35-year-old Robert Brandon Malone of Prattville, AL plead guilty Tuesday, February 18, 2020 in Federal court to three counts of wire fraud, and one count of transporting a stolen vehicle in a scheme in which he sold cars he did not own.

United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr., FBI Special Agent in Charge James Jewell, and Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson made the announcement.

The United States Attorney’s Office issued a news release 20 February which outlined the facts of the case, as follows:

“According to court records, in April of 2017, Malone posted a Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck for sale on the advertising website craigslist. However, the truck was actually a trade-in vehicle to the dealership for which he worked at the time. After the post, he was contacted by a potential buyer and represented to him that he was the actual owner. The buyer made the purchase, but returned the vehicle after learning that Malone did not own the truck. Malone did not refund his money.

“Later, in January of 2018, Malone was working on a Chevrolet C-10 pickup truck for someone and was storing it at his shop. Once again, he created a craigslist post listing it for sale although the owner had not given him the authority to do so. A potential buyer contacted Malone and arranged a trade for another vehicle. Once he learned that Malone did not own the truck, it was returned to the rightful owner. However, the vehicle that was traded was not returned.

“Finally, in November of 2018, Malone went to a car dealership in Georgia and was in the process of completing the paperwork to purchase an Audi R8. However, before the purchase was complete, he drove the vehicle off the lot and back to Prattville. He contacted someone that he knew was in the market for an Audi and they drove to Prattville to look at the vehicle. The purchaser gave him a down payment for the car and left his F-150 with Malone to hold temporarily until he could return to pick it up. Malone did not wait for the owner to return, instead, he listed the truck on Instagram and sold it to another individual. Ultimately, the Audi was returned to the dealership and the truck to the Audi purchaser. However, neither victim recovered their losses.”

Now, this is where things get interesting.

Just in the case you’re not aware of it (and I wouldn’t expect 95-98% of readers to be, though I could be surprised), such an activity isn’t illegal on the stock market… per se.

First, let’s review the core facts of the above-mentioned case.

1.) In the first instance, by virtue of his employment, he (Malone) was in possession of a vehicle, which he sold to a willing party. The willing party returned the truck when he discovered that Malone didn’t have title to it, and Malone didn’t refund his money. A case for theft could possibly have been made, but was not, because under Federal law, Read the rest of this entry »

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GAO: Trump Violated Law

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

Ukraine, schmookraine.

Who gives a rats rip what Trump did, eh?

Seriously.

And yet, that is precisely the attitude that some have about the matter in which the President has found himself placed, which has also led to his impeachment.

Some say, “Ukraine got their money. What’s the big deal?”

Yet others say, it’s all water under the bridge, or worse.

So, let’s examine the matter more fully in order to understand exactly what’s going on, and what’s at stake.

And, for the most part, we’re going to ignore many remarks the Democrats have been making. Well, at least much of them. We’re concerned with the basis for the claim. As it turns out, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is also concerned with that matter – that matter being the question, “Did the President of the United States violate any law in the Ukraine affair?”

But before we proceed further, let’s first answer a couple of important questions about the Government Accountability Office:

What is the GAO, what do they do, and what authority do they have?

The GAO states this about their agency:

“The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Should Churches Should Be Taxed?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Ownership of these churches in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was transferred to the parishes. As a result, the churches are excluded from the bankruptcy estate available to clergy abuse victims. [Photographer: William LeGoullon for Bloomberg Businessweek]

Tax churches because they’re businesses, plain and simple. The product or service they provide is religion and/or spirituality.

Bloomberg Business News published the findings of their most recent financial investigation, which showed that – as expected – like any nominally competent business organization, or conglomerated international corporation, the Catholic Church in the United States has moved to protect its assets from being considered part of any potential judgments/settlements arising from individual or Class Action lawsuits initiated by individuals (plaintiffs) who as children were abused by priests, and now are adults.

From a business perspective, one could think of it as the Church opposing members who may be potential or prospective “creditors” in any liability arising from sex abuse cases.

The Federal Government needs to RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) them, because they’re clearly corrupt as evidenced by:
• Perpetrating, and perpetuating, sexual abuse, by;
• Deliberately hiding and shuffling perpetrator priests, and by;
• Deliberately shifting and hiding assets in response to lawsuits.

Catholic Church Shields $2 Billion in Assets to Limit Abuse Payouts

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-01-08/the-catholic-church-s-strategy-to-limit-payouts-to-abuse-victims

“In many cases, churches precede bankruptcy by transferring and reclassifying assets.

The effect is to shrink the pot of money available to clergy abuse victims.

“That and Chapter 11’s [bankruptcy] universal settle­ments and protections from further claims have been an effective Read the rest of this entry »

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Pentagon Excesses, Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, December 13, 2019

Recently, the Washington Post published the results of a lengthy, in-depth, years-long investigation into the War in Afghanistan, which were published only after even more years of prolonged court battles.

See: The Afghanistan Papers A secret history of the war

At war with the truth

U.S. officials constantly said they were making progress. They were not, and they knew it, an exclusive Post investigation found.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/

“A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

“The documents were generated by a federal project examining the root failures of the longest armed conflict in U.S. history. They include more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished notes of interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, from generals and diplomats to aid workers and Afghan officials.

“The U.S. government tried to shield the identities of the vast majority of those interviewed for the project and conceal nearly all of their remarks. The Post won release of the documents under the Freedom of Information Act after a three-year legal battle.

See:

The Afghanistan Papers

Part 1: At war with the truth

“In the interviews, more than 400 insiders offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare.

“With a bluntness rarely expressed in public, the interviews lay bare pent-up complaints, frustrations and confessions, along with second-guessing and backbiting.

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

News of the Washington Post’s news was widespread, and numerous news reporting outlets and agencies reported on and shared the Post’s findings. One such outlet was The Guardian.

See:

Afghanistan papers reveal US public were misled about unwinnable war

Interviews with key insiders reveal damning verdict on conflict that cost 2,300 US lives

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/09/afghan-papers-reveal-us-public-were-misled-about-unwinnable-war

“Hundreds of confidential interviews with key figures involved in prosecuting the 18-year US war in Afghanistan have revealed that the US public has been consistently misled about an unwinnable conflict.

“Transcripts of the interviews, published by the Washington Post after a three-year legal battle, were collected for a Lessons Learned project by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar), a federal agency whose main task is eliminating corruption and inefficiency in the US war effort.

“The 2,000 pages of documents reveal the bleak and unvarnished views of many insiders in a war that has cost $1tn (£760bn) and killed more than 2,300 US servicemen and women, with more than 20,000 injured. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have died in the conflict.” …

Imagine that… ONE TRILLION dollars wasted down a rat hole, and being lied to about it all. What could we have done with that money? What would an extra $20 Billion looked like to each of the 50 states? That’s how much they would’ve had were it divvied up that way. Or, expressed another way, that’s a little over $3000 for every man, woman, and child now residing in the United States.

Oh… how about improved our national infrastructure?

Or, how about improved delivery of healthcare to our citizen-residents, their families, children, and elderly?

Or, how about improving and shoring up Social Security Trust Fund? That one could be more easily and readily accomplished by making it a “HANDS OFF!” account, and forbidding use/disbursement of its money for any other purpose than for claims upon it, thus making is solvent into perpetuity. But, Congress likes to use that money as a practical “slush fund” to pay for things that they don’t have the guts to raise taxes to pay for. THAT MUST CHANGE!!

But, nearly 20 years ago, exactly one day BEFORE the now-infamous day of September 11, 2001, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld delivered an address which was broadcast live throughout all DOD installations worldwide, was published on the DOD website, and was entitled “Bureaucracy to Battlefield.

On the DOD website, the page was entitled as “Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld at the DOD Acquisition and Logistics Excellence Week Kickoff – Bureaucracy to Battlefield, Sept. 10, 2001,” and in pertinent part, his speech included the following remarks: Read the rest of this entry »

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Matt Bevin can rot in hell.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, December 13, 2019

Thus read Friday the 13th’s headline in the December 2019 edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal in Kentucky.

Why such a votriolic headline?

Shitbag former KY GOP Governor Matt Bevin did this on his way out the door following his re-re-election loss, as reported by NPR:

“Bevin, a Republican who narrowly lost a bid for a second term last month, issued pardons to hundreds of people, including convicted rapists, murderers and drug offenders.

“In one case, Bevin pardoned a man convicted of homicide. That man’s family raised more than $20,000 at a political fundraiser to help Bevin pay off a debt owed from his 2015 gubernatorial campaign.

“In all, the former governor signed off on 428 pardons and commutations since his loss to Democrat Andy Beshear, according to The Courier-Journal. The paper notes, “The beneficiaries include one offender convicted of raping a child, another who hired a hit man to kill his business partner and a third who killed his parents.””

As the BBC reported in reported their story, “US governor issues 428 pardons during final days in office,”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-50786368

“The Republican pardoned a convicted child rapist as well as a convicted murderer whose brother raised money for Mr Bevin’s election campaign. 
“Mr Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear in November after a contentious election. 
“The flurry of pardons sent shockwaves through the state’s legal system. State prosecutors told local media they had not been consulted on Mr Bevin’s decision, and families of the victims were not notified in advance. 
“”I’m a big believer in second chances,” Mr Bevin said in a statement to the Washington Post newspaper. “I think this is a nation that was founded on the concept of redemption and second chances and new pages in life.””

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) on Friday night defended his controversial pardons as reflections of America’s foundational “support for redemption,” a statement that followed a Republican state leader’s call for a federal investigation into Bevin’s actions.

The former governor, who lost his bid for reelection in November, made national headlines this week after he pardoned hundreds of people during his final days in office, including a man convicted of reckless homicide, a child rapist and a woman who threw her newborn in the trash. In one case, Bevin pardoned a man convicted of homicide who was the brother of one of the former governor’s campaign donors.

The pardons outraged local attorneys and prosecutors, who said they were not consulted during the process. As the backlash continued to build Friday, Republicans in the Kentucky state Senate issued a statement blasting Bevin.

And, as reported by the Courier-Journal, “.”

Kentuckians are outraged, and even his most ardent former supporters are shocked. “Nonplussed” is far too diplomatic a word to describe their thoughts of his actions.

“Bevin was known to issue pardons on July Fourth and Christmas Day during his time in office as a way to mark the country’s independence and holiday season. The individuals who were pardoned in those situations typically were Kentuckians who committed minor crimes and had demonstrated good behavior while incarcerated.

“But before leaving office, Bevin’s pardons included many violent and sexual offenders such as a man convicted of raping a 9-year-old, another who hired a hit man to kill his business partner, a man who killed his parents and a man who beheaded a woman before stuffing her in a barrel.”

https://amp.courier-journal.com/amp/2639681001

—//—

While pardons, sentence commutations, and other types of clemency are within executive privilege, they should be righteously and judiciously wielded with wisdom, rather than wantonly abused as returned favors, or reckless examples of personal vendetta, and should be targeted to include resolution of actual or possible miscarriages of justice, such as restoration of voting rights following conviction, or other realistic social/civic benefits.

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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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Re-Examining Personal Income Taxes

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, November 18, 2019

Those who encourage tax cuts on the wealthy & corporations are misguided.

Here’s why:
They mistakenly believe that by reducing taxes upon the wealthy, it will increase their consumption – or, that in their benevolence, they’ll “create jobs” for the masses. (Which is also why they’re treated like “sacred cow job-creators.”)

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The wealthy already consume more. They consume more conspicuously, and they consume more governmental services.

No one “hates” the wealthy.

At least I don’t.

But, we ALL expect them to pull their fair share, not shirk their responsibilities, and we expect them NOT push their fair share onto others who are less capable.

I continue to analogize the matter this way:

There are THREE people who MUST move an 800-pound boulder:
1.) A Strongman body builder;
2.) An 80-year old, 80-pound Granny, and;
3.) An Average man.

Should we tell Read the rest of this entry »

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Dying Skills

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, August 25, 2019

America is a wealthy nation.

There’s no question about it.

Even with the scourges of poverty, and homelessness affecting it, the United States is, per capita, among the wealthiest nations in the world.

The United States Census Bureau reports that “The official poverty rate in 2017 was 12.3 percent, down 0.4 percentage points from 12.7 percent in 2016. This is the third consecutive annual decline in poverty. Since 2014, the pov­erty rate has fallen 2.5 percent­age points, from 14.8 percent to 12.3 percent.”

The 2018 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) by the Department of Housing and Urban Development found that “On a single night in 2018, roughly 553,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. About two-thirds (65%) were staying in sheltered locations—emergency shelters or transitional housing programs—and about one-third (35%) were in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not suitable for human habitation. Homelessness increased (though modestly) for the second year in a row. The number of homeless people on a single night increased by 0.3 percent between 2017 and 2018.”

According to various census measures internationally, there are very nearly 7.6 BILLION people in the world today. The United States ranks third globally in population with very nearly 330 Million. Only China and India respectively, are more populous, each with over 1.3 BILLION residents.

Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, and Mexico, in order, round out the Top 10 most populous nations.

Extrapolating from the population, that’s nearly 1 out of every 597 people who are homeless in the United States. Expressed as a percentage, that’s 0.16757575% – a little over 1/10th of 1%… well UNDER 1%.

The International Monetary Fund in 2018 ranked the United States as the 10th wealthiest nation globally. The World Bank in 2017 ranked the United States as 11th wealthiest, and the Central Intelligence Agency from 1993-2017 ranked the United States as the 13th wealthiest nation as measured by Gross Domestic Product per capita.

When measured by adult median wealth, the United States ranks 21st, according to a 2018 Credit Suisse report.

That’s among a ranking of 170-190 nations for all four measures.

And when a ranking of total wealth is considered, the United States ranks first globally – again, according to the Global Wealth Report 2018 by Credit Suisse.

Using the Gini Index – a measure of the overall equality of life – the United States ranks Read the rest of this entry »

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