11.26.2014

Escape from "the mob"



Police: Driver who lurched into crowd was 'attempting to flee from the mob'

Excerpt:

The driver who lurched into a south Minneapolis intersection packed with Ferguson protesters was “attempting to flee from the mob” when he ran over and slightly injured a 16-year-old girl as others were atop the hood of his car, police said Wednesday. The driver, a 40-year-old man from St. Paul, was questioned moments after the incident late Tuesday afternoon on eastbound E. Lake Street at Minnehaha Avenue S., and Minneapolis police said Wednesday that the case “remains under investigation.” The man was not arrested, and no charges have been filed. A few hours later, the man’s mother said in an interview that he was coming home from work and “didn’t even know what was going on” when he encountered the crowd of several hundred blocking the intersection. The girl who was run over by the horn-blaring Subaru station wagon was taken by emergency responders to Regions Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, police said. “The victim’s vehicle was damaged by a large group of people,” reads the report released Wednesday by police. “While [the driver] was attempting to flee from the mob, he struck a pedestrian. State accident report filed.” The report lists the driver as a “victim” and the injured girl under the “other” category. Much of the scene, unfolding within a few steps of the Police Department’s Third Precinct headquarters, was captured on a Star Tribune video. Additional aerial video from KSTP-TV, Channel 5, shows that the driver had paused behind a vehicle stopped in front of it, and then steered to the right around that vehicle and drove slowly into the crowd that was blocking the intersection. There were three people on the hood of his car as he knocked down the girl.
Comment: Our own drive home yesterday - a police presence was on our route. Re the girl being "other" ... you could have said "stupid"

11.25.2014

Chuck Schumer states the obvious: "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform."



Chuck Schumer: Passing Obamacare in 2010 Was a Mistake
Excerpt:


Sen. Chuck Schumer upbraided his own party Tuesday for pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010. While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies "are and will continue to be positive changes," he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession. "After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," Schumer said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform." The third-ranking Senate Democrat noted that just about 5 percent of registered voters in the United States lacked health insurance before the implementation of the law, arguing that to focus on a problem affecting such "a small percentage of the electoral made no political sense." The larger problem, affecting most Americans, he said, was a poor economy resulting from the recession. "When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, 'The Democrats aren't paying enough attention to me,' " Schumer said. The health care law should have come later, Schumer argued, after Democrats had passed legislation to help the middle class weather the recession. Had Democrats pushed economic legislation, he said, "the middle class would have been more receptive to the idea that President Obama wanted to help them" and, in turn, they would have been more receptive to the health care law. Schumer said he told fellow Democrats in the lead-up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act that it was the wrong time to pass the law.
Comment: Image source. What was wrong: \

Black Leadership needed in Ferguson case



Obama's Split-Screen Appeal Lost in Ferguson's Anger

Excerpt:


It will be an image that may endure beyond Barack Obama's tenure: The president calling for calm on one side of the TV screen; the scene in Ferguson, Mo. escalating with sirens, smoke, flash grenades, and furious residents on the other. Obama emerged into the White House Briefing Room shortly after 10 pm ET, a little more than 90 minutes after prosecutors in St. Louis County announced that a grand jury had voted to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the summer shooting death of Michael Brown.
Comment: More: Ferguson grand jury decision: Brown's death should be call to action not violence
Where is the black leadership now that a grand jury has decided not to indict the police officer that killed Michael Brown? Where is Al Sharpton? He advertises himself as a spokesman for the best interests of black America. But he is absent. Where is Jesse Jackson, another popular media personality who says he speaks for black America? He’s missing in action, too.
Example of incendiary speech: "Michael Brown's Stepfather Urged Protesters To "Burn This Bitch Down" After Grand Jury Announcement".

Helpful leadership: "A sunrise prayer vigil and dozens of clergy marching in the streets here Tuesday was a stark counterpoint to the destruction and looting that took place Monday night just miles away in Ferguson. Pastors in bright orange vests led a calm protest with more than 100 people here, blocking a few intersections and ending up in front of the building where the county prosecutor announced Monday evening that a grand jury wouldn’t indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old on, Aug. 9."

11.24.2014

"Wealth is being spread with little to show for it"



More Redistribution, Less Income - Obama has spread the wealth, but the poor and middle class haven’t benefited.

Excerpt:

On taxes, Mr. Obama often claims that the rich don’t pay their “fair share,” yet the most affluent one-fifth of taxpayers on average supplied 68.7% of federal revenue for 2011. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which last week updated its statistics on the U.S. distribution of income and taxes for 2011 and preliminary calculations for last year. As for the top 1%, they funded 24% of everything the government does in 2011. The CBO also estimates that the end-of-2012 fiscal cliff deal that lifted the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, plus ObamaCare’s taxes on high-income individuals, increased their average federal taxes by 4.3 percentage points to 33.3% of income. The Warren Buffett minimum-tax rule asserted that no millionaire should pay an effective tax below 30%. Mission accomplished. This has long been the reality of the highly progressive U.S. tax system, but the bigger news in the CBO numbers is that wealth is being spread with little to show for it. According to the CBO, the lowest 60% of earners all collect more in benefits on average than they remit to the Treasury. Yet even the supposed beneficiaries of Mr. Obama’s policies ended up with less in 2011 than 2007.
Comment: See also A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%. Image source:
...  the “fair share” phrase is just a fancy way of dressing up an argument that poses that someone else’s money is yours. It’s the adult version of two toddlers fighting over a toy. There’s no true “fair share” just dozens of ways to divvy up the spoils of a population.

Millennials, Budweiser, and the craft beer problem



Bud Crowded Out by Craft Beer Craze - Faded Beer Brand Unhitches Clydesdales in Favor of Fresher Pitches to Young People

Excerpt:

The wall behind the bar at Jake’s Billiards has 69 taps offering beer choices that range from California’s Lagunitas Fusion 22 to Natty Greene ’s Buckshot, which is brewed across town. The last tap in the long row belongs to Budweiser, and it is about to be removed. ... The self-proclaimed King of Beers is more of an afterthought among young consumers at Jake’s and bars across the U.S.: Some 44% of 21- to 27-year-old drinkers today have never tried Budweiser, according to the brand’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. Young drinkers aren’t the reason Budweiser volumes have declined in the U.S. for 25 years, from its nearly 50-million-barrel peak in 1988 to 16 million barrels last year. Light beers like its sister, Bud Light, have chipped away at Bud’s share of the market for decades. Bud Light overtook it as the No. 1 selling beer in 2001, and Coors Light displaced it as No. 2 in 2011. Craft beers and flavored malts like AB InBev’s Lime-a-Rita have contributed to a 9% decline in shipments since then.
Comment: Image source. I find the tastes of Millennials interesting. Out: Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, Bud, etc cetera. In: Panera, Chipoltes, Stella Artois, et cetera.

11.21.2014

"Serial": The Hae Min Lee murder case



Time Magazine: Family of Adnan Syed Reacts to ‘Serial’ Podcast

Excerpt:


Millions have become obsessed with a 15-year-old murder case thanks to NPR’s “Serial,” a podcast from the team behind “This American Life” that explores a real-life mystery week-by-week. At the center of the case is Adnan Syed, who was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee when he was still in high school, and has been in prison ever since. Though Adnan plays an important role on the podcast and is interviewed in almost every episode, his family has refrained from publicly commenting on the show, until now. Adnan’s brother, Yusef Syed, spoke to CBS This Morning about Serial for the first time Thursday.

Appeal in the case of Adnan Syed, subject of popular podcast 'Serial,' ongoing 

Excerpt:

As the true-life mystery podcast "Serial" continues to captivate millions, an appeal attempting to throw out the life sentence of the convicted murderer at the story's center is winding its way through court. The Maryland attorney general's office and state prosecutors were granted an extension last week to offer opinions on whether Adnan Syed received effective legal counsel when he was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1999 killing of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.

serialpodcast.org

Comments: I've listened to 3 episodes. Interesting stuff. I've drawn no conclusions about the case. The above website has additional materials: maps, et cetera. 

11.20.2014

"John Wyclif" takes bullet saving FSU student



The library book that saved my life: Student shows off pages that stopped gunman's bullets

Excerpt:

A student believes a book he was carrying in his back pack saved his life during a shooting at a Florida State University library. Three people were wounded in the attack by gunman Myron May, a lawyer and school alumnus, who opened fire at 12.30am on Thursday morning. He was then shot dead by police outside of the Stozier library which was full of students studying for their exams. Jason Derfuss was walking out of the building when he was shot in the back. However he did not know he had been hit until his roommate emptied his bag at home. He found bullet holes in two of the books he had checked out just minutes before the rampage.
Comment: The book John Wyclif (Great Medieval Thinkers). My wife is a FSU grad.

11.19.2014

Imagine a Return to "Normal" Interest Rates



Charles Schwab: Raise Interest Rates, Make Grandma Smile - With the Fed’s near-zero policy, households headed by someone 75 or older have lost $2,700 annually in interest income.

Excerpt:

Normalized interest rates are also good for the economy broadly. Total short-term interest-bearing assets are today close to $11 trillion. Based on that, a 1% increase in interest rates will generate over $100 billion in increased income. And there is ample room to raise rates. Today the one-year return on a CD is just north of 1%. In a more normal environment, the annual return on a one-year CD has been about 6.15%. As interest rates begin to normalize, increased personal income will drive spending, economic growth and jobs. Will more historically normal interest rates have negative impacts on others? The cost of homeownership may be higher and borrowing in general will be more expensive. But these costs are largely born by middle-class and higher-income families and they will see that impact lessened over time through inflation. But is it fair that seniors subsidize cheaper credit for others? Most people wouldn’t think so

Long-Term Interest Rates Have Been This Low Only Twice In The Last 214 Years

Excerpt:

As of the close of business on Tuesday, long-term US Treasury bonds were yielding 2.83%. The long-term Treasury composite rate is a combination of bonds that aren't due or callable within 10 years. This rate is historically low. And if you mentioned that yields are "historically low" to most folks on Wall Street, they would likely say that they know that. But here's some context. This chart, via Credit Suisse, shows the long-term composite rate on US Treasury bonds dating back to 1800.
Comment: Image is screen capture from 2nd article.  With rates as low as they are,  there is little incentive to save.

11.18.2014

Al Sharpton's Tax Dodge

Questions About Sharpton’s Finances Accompany His Rise in Influence

Excerpt:


Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees. With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful. Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters’ private school tuition.
Comment: If NYTimes artcile won't load, also here. Image source.  Just for fun ... images of Al and Obama together.

I'll be there in a "punct" (and other weird time terms)



10 Little-Known Units of Time

Excerpt:
  • Atom: about 1/6th Of A Second
  • Ghurry: 24 Minutes
  • Lustre: A Period Of Five Years
  • Mileway: Amount Time It Takes To Walk One Mile (20 minutes)
  • Nundine: A Period Of Nine Days
  • Punct: In Medieval Europe A Punct Was A Quarter Of An Hour
  • Quadrant: A Period Of Exactly Six Hours
  • Quinzième: a period of 15 days
  • Scruple: In the early 17th century scruple also came to be used as another name for 1/60th of a degree of a circle (i.e. one minute), 1/60th of a minute (i.e. one second), and 1/60th of a day (i.e. 24 minutes).
Other interesting links on time:

What Is Greenwich Mean Time?
Decimal Time: How the French Made a 10-Hour Day

Will Ford's aluminum-bodied F-150 drive their stock? I think so!



Review: 2015 Ford F-150

Excerpt "the lightweight metal is also an indicator of a better truck":

Despite aluminum’s cost premium over steel, Ford kept price increases for its F-150 to less than $500 in some cases, but that doesn’t temper the shock of just how expensive full-size trucks have become. We drove a low-spec four-door XLT model with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, cloth seats, rear-wheel drive, and relatively few creature comforts that carried a sticker price of $42,875. That’s a problem that doesn’t plague just Ford, but the entire full-size-truck segment. If you’re going to spend that kind of money on a truck, though, the F-150 best justifies its price. Its aluminum body and bed mark a sea change in an industry that so often drifts with the current. Just as aluminum often indicates top-shelf beer these days, the lightweight metal is also an indicator of a better truck
Truck Wars: The Ultimate Question Facing Ford Motor Company's 2015 F-150

Excerpt:

It appears that consumers are indeed ready to accept an aluminum-bodied truck. It only appears that Ford's 2015 F-150 is too far advanced because its competition is so far behind. Make no mistake, this is a huge gamble on Ford's part, and it could become a huge and costly mistake -- but if Ford executes the launch flawlessly and consumers follow through on their interest, it could be a huge win.
This chart shows huge gains ahead for Ford

Excerpt:

The stock appears to be targeting a return to its 52-week highs at $18.12 per share, he said. “Ford continues to look very bullish here technically,” Newton said. “It looks very good.” Despite a large pullback in the stock over the summer, Ford’s stock held what Newton sees as a long-term uptrend in place since 2008. The stock’s low at $13.26 in October tested the uptrend and coincided with the 50 percent retracement level of the stock’s 2012 to 2014 rally. It subsequently bounced from there.
Comment: 5 years ago (July 2009), in one of my first stock trades, I bought 100 shares of Ford for under $ 7. Image source is screen capture from Ford

Yet another "Preparing for Retirement" post

5 Issues to Face Before You Retire

Excerpt:

  1. Do a rough draft of your retirement budget
  2. Determine your post-retirement investment plan
  3. Start making plans for your new living arrangement
  4. Give yourself a health checkup
  5. Make a plan
Comment: Our three legged stool ... IRAs, 401Ks (to be rolled over into IRAs), 2 pensions, and social security. It is coming together. I was doubtful just 5 years ago. On the above points:


  1. Do a rough draft of your retirement budget: We basically have this in place because we track everything.
  2. Determine your post-retirement investment plan: I think that in the early years, we will be able to continue to save but at a reduced rate. We have a plan on the remaining roll-over from 401Ks to IRAs
  3. Start making plans for your new living arrangement: Our plan is to stay in our existing home for at least two more years. We continue to shop condos but not ready to make that move yet.
  4. Give yourself a health checkup: Need to lose weight. Working on it.
  5. Make a plan: This is in flux. I am going to have a lot of free time I will need to fill. On the travel front, we would like to get away to Florida or Arizona for 2-3 weeks every Winter