Monday, June 30, 2014

Cold or Hot?

I live in the shadow of Starbucks. I pass their headquarters daily which sits atop the now closed Sears store another sign of a decaying working class bastion that provided many basics to homes - from clothes to tools. I used to be Howard Schultz neighbor in Madrona when he lived adjacent to the former Cobain home. Yes I lived in a very truly "mixed" neighborhood of Teacher's retail clerks, rock stars (the REM drummer lived a block away too!) and CEO's.

Howard moved to another custom built home down the road adjacent to the first and well only gated community in Seattle but he is clearly trying to move into public office, another road that seems to be the new CEO track. And that worked out well for Mitt Romney didn't it?

I don't know Mr. Schultz personally, met his wife at my gym and she seemed quite fabulous but that is my extent of my former neighbors. I met Kurt and Courtney and then he died so I have decided as Mr. Rogers is as well knowing my neighbors other than a friendly "hello" is sufficient. I wish it was different but it is the American way - good fences make good neighbors. Again another sign of how little we really do speak to each other but at each other.

I don't dislike the business of Starbucks but I frankly loathe the coffee it is something I drink if there is no other choice. As for its business practices I have never bought one word of it ever. The community or global engagement - the supposed helping small businesses with loans (I have no idea if any of that ever happened to what degree, etc), the wage and benefit structure which is quite misleading, to their corporate business relationships which have had a history of problems until they decided to do what all businesses end up doing, buying them out to their issues regarding corporate taxes here and abroad and of course the issue regarding unionizing employees. All of this has well documented articles about all of this if you should choose to Google. But like speaking to neighbors it is an effort. If you want to read his cheerleader's articles just go to Joe Nocera in the New York Times, to say slavishly devoted to the CEO is to say that Andrew Ross Sorkin is a kinda sorta apologist to the banking community.

But the most recent declaration by Mr. Schultz and the new education plan had more holes than the Titanic. Sometimes you have to read between the lines to find out the devil is in the details and these details have details on top of them.

But it is not just Starbucks that have suddenly announced great plans. My favorite is my Swedish Walmart friends, Ikea, announcing their new wage structure. This plan of course is loaded with more holes than Swiss cheese.

That comes on the announcement of the Gap and its intended wage rise and like the one's in Seattle it too has caveats and other but if's, and or's and other layers that are needed in the San Francisco and Seattle summer.

Let's end the corporate tax loopholes that end these businesses from not paying taxes, the global whack a mole nonsense, the sheer hubris that many of these companies fail to provide living wages and in turn place their employees on public assistance while eschewing government fall back programs while ironically or hypocritically taking their own (ask about that Walmart museum Alice Walton built using tax breaks), expecting the Government to pay for education while demanding more tax breaks that cause funding issues for all education K-12 and beyond, to the concepts that a CEO needs 300% increase in pay for what exactly?

 These are just some of the many many problems that we sit idly by and then actually buy shit from them. Shit literally as much of it is as it is made literally in shitholes in China or SE Asia by exploited workers in utterly corrupt Governments. Why?

And I read the below article and I thought once again another's words may serve better purpose in explaining what the problems really are when it comes to the concept of wages and benefits and the roles Corporations should serve in the community. They are not good neighbors and they have well established fences that protect their class of those of the working ones.

The Corporate Daddy
Walmart, Starbucks, and the Fight Against Inequality

JUNE 19, 2014
Timothy Egan

For some time now, Republicans in Congress have given up the pretense of doing anything to improve the lot of most Americans. Raising the minimum wage? They won’t even allow a vote to happen. Cleaner air for all? They may partially shut down the government in a coming fight on behalf of major polluters. Add to that the continuing obstruction of student loan relief efforts, and numerous attempts to defund health care, and you have a party actively working to make life miserable for millions.

So, our nation turns to Starbucks. And Walmart. In the present moment, both of those global corporate monoliths are poised to do more to affect the huge chasm between the rich and everybody else than anything that’s likely to come out of John Boehner’s House of Representatives.

As long as the Supreme Court says that corporations are citizens, they may as well act like them. Starbucks is trying to be dutiful — in its own prickly, often self-righteous, spin-heavy way — while Walmart is a net drain on taxpayers, forcing employees into public assistance with its poverty-wage structure.

“In the last few years, we have seen the fracturing of the American dream,” said the Starbucks chief executive, Howard Schultz, in announcing a company plan to reimburse the cost of college tuition for employees. “The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try to do something about it?”

It’s a sad day when we have to look to corporations for education, health care and basic ways to boost the middle class. Most advanced nations do those things for their people. We used to — witness the G.I. Bill, which helped millions of returning soldiers get a lift to a better life. But you go to war against the income gap with the system you have, and ours is currently broken. By default, we have no choice but to lean on our corporate overlords.

Walmart, the nation’s top private employer and the world’s largest public corporation, is a big part of the problem — and could be a big part of the solution. Their humiliating wages force thousands of employees to look to food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of welfare. A sign appearing at a Walmart in Ohio last year, asking people to donate food so that the company’s employees “could enjoy Thanksgiving,” was a perfect symbol of what’s wrong with the nation’s most despised retailer. Working at Walmart may not make you poor, but it certainly keeps you poor — at the expense of the rest of us.

By one measure, done by House Democrats last year in looking at data from Wisconsin, the average Walmart superstore cost taxpayers $904,000 a year in various subsidies, or more than $5,000 per employee.

Walmart disputes these figures, claiming the average full-time store worker makes at least $12 an hour, or enough to be just above the poverty level for a family of four. But these numbers are skewed by higher pay for management. The average “associate” at Walmart makes $8.81 an hour — poverty wage — according to the market-research firm IBISWorld, as of 2011. Another independent source, Payscale, says the average is under $11 an hour. No matter the exact figure, there’s no dispute that Walmart’s business model forces thousands of hard-working people to look for outside help just to get by.

And under that model, Walmart has made a fortune — $17 billion in profits last year, executive compensation for one man at the top in excess of $20 million a year, and a windfall making the six heirs of the founding Walton family worth at least $150 billion.

Walmart could make life easier for its 1.4 million workers, without diminishing its stock value. Writing in, Stephen Gandel concluded that Walmart could give workers a 50 percent raise without hurting shareholder value.

What could change Walmart is growing public disdain for the company. A new poll by Lake Research Partners found that 28 percent of consumers surveyed have an unfavorable view of Walmart — almost five times the negative sentiment felt for Costco. Poor treatment of workers was cited most often as the reason not to shop there.

At Starbucks, the work force is barely a tenth of Walmart’s, 135,000 employees in the United States. But the company has long been a leader in providing decent wages, stock and retirement benefits, and health care — even for part-time employees. Now it’s offering what it says is free college tuition for any employee.

The fine print is less flashy. The college is online, at Arizona State University, and the tuition would be paid by way of reimbursement, after students have already spent thousands out of pocket.

Walmart in 2010 pledged to spend $50 million over three years to offset some of the cost for a small percentage of employees who enrolled in a for-profit, online university. So far, it’s been a bust — only about 400 have earned degrees. Why not follow the Starbucks model and offer free tuition to all employees?

Sadly, this is the future. Congress could raise the minimum wage, make college more affordable, or even make it universally accessible for all qualified applicants. At the very least, it could reduce the student loan burden. These obvious remedies are anathema to Republicans.

In the conservative view, the free market can take care of everything. But what you’re hearing from bottom-line capitalists is that the system is in deep trouble. “Labor and capital have to share in the rewards of a productive economy, and for the last 25 years labor has gotten the short end of the stick,” said Bill Gross, the founder of the investment firm PIMCO, in a recent interview with Yahoo. Eventually, he said, “it will be destabilizing.”

One corporate titan says the American dream is shattered. Another captain of big money says we’re reaching a breaking point. When the 1 percenters start talking this way, you know we’re in trouble.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

And Another Word

I also agree with the sentiments here. Met a recent graduate? They are idiots. Ed reform is not just needed K-12, try post secondary. Great building with some schools meeting the needs and demands of very specifically funded programs but we love and live on legacy. Frankly the adoration of the Ivy League has always left me wondering what makes them special because dead smart people once went there? Or the fact that it is largely a legacy school with a well funded alumni that keeps the dream alive while their progeny are utter morons. They have way surpassed idiots as morons are rich idiots.

Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.

JUNE 28, 2014
Kevin Carey

Americans have a split vision of education. Conventional wisdom has long held that our K-12 schools are mediocre or worse, while our colleges and universities are world class. While policy wonks hotly debate K-12 reform ideas like vouchers and the Common Core state standards, higher education is largely left to its own devices. Many families are worried about how to get into and pay for increasingly expensive colleges. But the stellar quality of those institutions is assumed.

Yet a recent multinational study of adult literacy and numeracy skills suggests that this view is wrong. America’s schools and colleges are actually far more alike than people believe — and not in a good way. The nation’s deep education problems, the data suggest, don’t magically disappear once students disappear behind ivy-covered walls.

The standard negative view of American K-12 schools has been highly influenced by international comparisons. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, for example, periodically administers an exam called PISA to 15-year-olds in 69 countries. While results vary somewhat depending on the subject and grade level, America never looks very good. The same is true of other international tests. In PISA’s math test, the United States battles it out for last place among developed countries, along with
America’s perceived international dominance of higher education, by contrast, rests largely on global rankings of top universities. According to a recent ranking by the London-based Times Higher Education, 18 of the world’s top 25 universities are American. Similarly, the Academic Ranking of World Universities, published annually by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, gives us 19 of 25.

But there is a problem with this way of thinking. When President Obama has said, “We have the best universities,” he has not meant: “Our universities are, on average, the best” — even though that’s what many people hear. He means, “Of the best universities, most are ours.” The distinction is important.

PISA samples the whole population of students. When Mr. Obama said, “In eighth-grade math, we’ve fallen to ninth place,” he was referring to the average score of eighth graders. He didn’t say anything about how many of the world’s 13-year-old math geniuses were American.

International university rankings, moreover, have little to do with education. Instead, they focus on universities as research institutions, using metrics such as the number of Nobel Prize winners on staff and journal articles published. A university could stop enrolling undergraduates with no effect on its score.

We see K-12 schools and colleges differently because we’re looking at two different yardsticks: the academic performance of the whole population of students in one case, the research performance of a small number of institutions in the other.

The fair way to compare the two systems, to each other and to systems in other countries, would be to conduct something like a PISA for higher education. That had never been done until late 2013, when the O.E.C.D. published exactly such a study.

The project is called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (known as Piaac, sometimes called “pee-ack”). In 2011 and 2012, 166,000 adults ages 16 to 65 were tested in the O.E.C.D. countries (most of Europe along with the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and South Korea) and Cyprus and Russia.

Like PISA, Piaac tests people’s literacy and math skills. Because the test takers were adults, they were asked to use those skills in real-world contexts. They might, for example, be asked to read a news article and an email, each describing a different innovative method of improving drinking water quality in Africa, and identify the sentence in each document that describes a criticism common to both inventions. The test also included a measure of “problem-solving in technology-rich environments,” reflecting the nature of modern work.

As with the measures of K-12 education, the United States battles it out for last place, this time with Italy and Spain. Countries that traditionally trounce America on the PISA test of 15-year-olds, such as Japan and Finland, also have much higher levels of proficiency and skill among adults.

Of course, all 15-year-olds are required to go to school. College is voluntary. But when the Piaac numbers are calculated for people with different levels of education, America stills falls short of most other countries.

Only 18 percent of American adults with bachelor’s degrees score at the top two levels of numeracy, compared with the international average of 24 percent. Over one-third of American bachelor’s degree holders failed to reach Level 3 on the five-level Piaac scale, which means that they cannot perform math-related tasks that “require several steps and may involve the choice of problem-solving strategies.” Americans with associate’s and graduate degrees also lag behind their international peers.

American results on the literacy and technology tests were somewhat better, in the sense that they were only mediocre. American adults were eighth from the bottom in literacy, for instance. And recent college graduates look no better than older ones. Among people ages 16 to 29 with a bachelor’s degree or better, America ranks 16th out of 24 in numeracy. There is no reason to believe that American colleges are, on average, the best in the world.

Instead, Piaac suggests that the wide disparities of knowledge and skill present among American schoolchildren are not ameliorated by higher education. If anything, they are magnified. In 2000, American 15-year-olds scored slightly above the international average. Twelve years later, Americans who were about 12 years older scored below the international average. While American college graduates are far more knowledgeable than American nongraduates, creating a substantial “wage premium” for diploma holders, they look mediocre or worse compared to their college-educated peers in other nations.

This reality should worry anyone who believes — as many economists do — that America’s long-term prosperity rests in substantial part on its store of human capital. The relatively high pay of American workers will start to erode as more jobs are exposed to harsh competition in global labor markets. It will be increasingly dangerous to believe that only our K-12 schools have serious problems.

Divided We Fall

I think this summarizes it all quite succinctly.   I have nothing to add to the great thoughts of Mr. Stiglitz. Currently we are a nation divided and the Continental Divide is no better metaphor for the reality of our two tier economy.

Inequality Is Not Inevitable

June 27, 2014

AN insidious trend has developed over this past third of a century. A country that experienced shared growth after World War II began to tear apart, so much so that when the Great Recession hit in late 2007, one could no longer ignore the fissures that had come to define the American economic landscape. How did this “shining city on a hill” become the advanced country with the greatest level of inequality?

One stream of the extraordinary discussion set in motion by Thomas Piketty’s timely, important book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” has settled on the idea that violent extremes of wealth and income are inherent to capitalism. In this scheme, we should view the decades after World War II — a period of rapidly falling inequality — as an aberration.

This is actually a superficial reading of Mr. Piketty’s work, which provides an institutional context for understanding the deepening of inequality over time. Unfortunately, that part of his analysis received somewhat less attention than the more fatalistic-seeming aspects.

Over the past year and a half, The Great Divide, a series in The New York Times for which I have served as moderator, has also presented a wide range of examples that undermine the notion that there are any truly fundamental laws of capitalism. The dynamics of the imperial capitalism of the 19th century needn’t apply in the democracies of the 21st. We don’t need to have this much inequality in America.

Our current brand of capitalism is an ersatz capitalism. For proof of this go back to our response to the Great Recession, where we socialized losses, even as we privatized gains. Perfect competition should drive profits to zero, at least theoretically, but we have monopolies and oligopolies making persistently high profits. C.E.O.s enjoy incomes that are on average 295 times that of the typical worker, a much higher ratio than in the past, without any evidence of a proportionate increase in productivity.

If it is not the inexorable laws of economics that have led to America’s great divide, what is it? The straightforward answer: our policies and our politics. People get tired of hearing about Scandinavian success stories, but the fact of the matter is that Sweden, Finland and Norway have all succeeded in having about as much or faster growth in per capita incomes than the United States and with far greater equality.

So why has America chosen these inequality-enhancing policies? Part of the answer is that as World War II faded into memory, so too did the solidarity it had engendered. As America triumphed in the Cold War, there didn’t seem to be a viable competitor to our economic model. Without this international competition, we no longer had to show that our system could deliver for most of our citizens.

Ideology and interests combined nefariously. Some drew the wrong lesson from the collapse of the Soviet system. The pendulum swung from much too much government there to much too little here. Corporate interests argued for getting rid of regulations, even when those regulations had done so much to protect and improve our environment, our safety, our health and the economy itself.

But this ideology was hypocritical. The bankers, among the strongest advocates of laissez-faire economics, were only too willing to accept hundreds of billions of dollars from the government in the bailouts that have been a recurring feature of the global economy since the beginning of the Thatcher-Reagan era of “free” markets and deregulation.

The American political system is overrun by money. Economic inequality translates into political inequality, and political inequality yields increasing economic inequality. In fact, as he recognizes, Mr. Piketty’s argument rests on the ability of wealth-holders to keep their after-tax rate of return high relative to economic growth. How do they do this? By designing the rules of the game to ensure this outcome; that is, through politics.

So corporate welfare increases as we curtail welfare for the poor. Congress maintains subsidies for rich farmers as we cut back on nutritional support for the needy. Drug companies have been given hundreds of billions of dollars as we limit Medicaid benefits. The banks that brought on the global financial crisis got billions while a pittance went to the homeowners and victims of the same banks’ predatory lending practices. This last decision was particularly foolish. There were alternatives to throwing money at the banks and hoping it would circulate through increased lending. We could have helped underwater homeowners and the victims of predatory behavior directly. This would not only have helped the economy, it would have put us on the path to robust recovery.

OUR divisions are deep. Economic and geographic segregation have immunized those at the top from the problems of those down below. Like the kings of yore, they have come to perceive their privileged positions essentially as a natural right. How else to explain the recent comments of the venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who suggested that criticism of the 1 percent was akin to Nazi fascism, or those coming from the private equity titan Stephen A. Schwarzman, who compared asking financiers to pay taxes at the same rate as those who work for a living to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

Our economy, our democracy and our society have paid for these gross inequities. The true test of an economy is not how much wealth its princes can accumulate in tax havens, but how well off the typical citizen is — even more so in America where our self-image is rooted in our claim to be the great middle-class society. But median incomes are lower than they were a quarter-century ago. Growth has gone to the very, very top, whose share has almost quadrupled since 1980. Money that was meant to have trickled down has instead evaporated in the balmy climate of the Cayman Islands.

With almost a quarter of American children younger than 5 living in poverty, and with America doing so little for its poor, the deprivations of one generation are being visited upon the next. Of course, no country has ever come close to providing complete equality of opportunity. But why is America one of the advanced countries where the life prospects of the young are most sharply determined by the income and education of their parents?

Among the most poignant stories in The Great Divide were those that portrayed the frustrations of the young, who yearn to enter our shrinking middle class. Soaring tuitions and declining incomes have resulted in larger debt burdens. Those with only a high school diploma have seen their incomes decline by 13 percent over the past 35 years.

Where justice is concerned, there is also a yawning divide. In the eyes of the rest of the world and a significant part of its own population, mass incarceration has come to define America — a country, it bears repeating, with about 5 percent of the world’s population but around a fourth of the world’s prisoners.

Justice has become a commodity, affordable to only a few. While Wall Street executives used their high-retainer lawyers to ensure that their ranks were not held accountable for the misdeeds that the crisis in 2008 so graphically revealed, the banks abused our legal system to foreclose on mortgages and evict people, some of whom did not even owe money.

More than a half-century ago, America led the way in advocating for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948. Today, access to health care is among the most universally accepted rights, at least in the advanced countries. America, despite the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, is the exception. It has become a country with great divides in access to health care, life expectancy and health status.

In the relief that many felt when the Supreme Court did not overturn the Affordable Care Act, the implications of the decision for Medicaid were not fully appreciated. Obamacare’s objective — to ensure that all Americans have access to health care — has been stymied: 24 states have not implemented the expanded Medicaid program, which was the means by which Obamacare was supposed to deliver on its promise to some of the poorest.

We need not just a new war on poverty but a war to protect the middle class. Solutions to these problems do not have to be newfangled. Far from it. Making markets act like markets would be a good place to start. We must end the rent-seeking society we have gravitated toward, in which the wealthy obtain profits by manipulating the system.

The problem of inequality is not so much a matter of technical economics. It’s really a problem of practical politics. Ensuring that those at the top pay their fair share of taxes — ending the special privileges of speculators, corporations and the rich — is both pragmatic and fair. We are not embracing a politics of envy if we reverse a politics of greed. Inequality is not just about the top marginal tax rate but also about our children’s access to food and the right to justice for all. If we spent more on education, health and infrastructure, we would strengthen our economy, now and in the future. Just because you’ve heard it before doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it again.

We have located the underlying source of the problem: political inequities and policies that have commodified and corrupted our democracy. It is only engaged citizens who can fight to restore a fairer America, and they can do so only if they understand the depths and dimensions of the challenge. It is not too late to restore our position in the world and recapture our sense of who we are as a nation. Widening and deepening inequality is not driven by immutable economic laws, but by laws we have written ourselves.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Justice Denied

Nothing says fun more than seeing a Judge doing the perp walk.

The below article was the front page of the New York Times this morning which gave me a laugh over my coffee. While this is about Broward County, Florida, I question that this is limited to just Florida which competes with Texas for the crazy for coconuts campaign for Jurisprudence.

We have this Judge in Texas (natch) who denies people their Constitutional Rights. So much that they are passing out warning cards to prospective defendants who enter at their own risk. And yes you have a choice which many Attorney's know but that requires motions, work and stuff, so don't ask.

And this Attorney knows this and actually gave a shit and wrote a letter which I am sure was promptly tossed into the file and ignored.

Trust me as a person who communicates largely in writing I have found that to be most true.

And we have had a series of Judges and former Prosecutors here who are less than reliable but hey they still have their jobs. There is this one. And this one. Or the shoplifter. Or this one Or even one from our Supreme Court. Or this one that obstructed Justice then promptly became one.

They have this Judge in Pennsylvania who just took evidence for personal use. Hey cops do it.

Even ex TV Judge Joe Brown was arrested. Not on the bench or in a bar but he should know better, right?

And speaking of former Judges, there is this one arrested for child exploitation. He should know better, right?

Or how about this one. Even has a "Bubba" person in it.

And I am sure I could find many many more stores of Judicial impropriety. And this is just one of the dependent variables in the system of Jurisprudence. You can see why we have what we have - a broken system that is not working and must be changed. From the election/appointment process of Judges, to eliminating the rule that they and Prosecutors cannot be sued for misconduct.

 Buffer zones anyone?

Here Comes the Judge, in Cuffs
In Broward County, Fla., Spate of Judges in D.U.I. Arrests

JUNE 27, 2014

MIAMI — Lawyers gawked from office windows last month when a BMW S.U.V. swiped a parked police cruiser in the parking lot of a courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, then slammed into a gate over and over again.

A judge was at the wheel.

As lawyers used smartphones to snap pictures of the morning spectacle, Judge Lynn D. Rosenthal became the third Broward County judge in six months to be arrested on charges of driving under the influence. A colleague, Judge Gisele Pollack, had been suspended five days earlier after getting arrested on a D.U.I. charge while already on leave for taking the bench intoxicated — twice.

Even for South Florida, where absurd news events are routine and the sheriff went to prison for corruption, the spate of judicial scandals has raised serious questions about whether the arrests in Broward are a bizarre coincidence or underscore a larger systemic problem. In a county where the judiciary is known for old-school nepotism and cronyism, and judges have been caught smoking marijuana in a park and found drunk and partly naked in a hotel hallway, some lawyers find themselves wondering: At what point do isolated instances of misconduct point to something bigger?

On Wednesday, WPLG, an ABC affiliate, citing anonymous sources, reported that a Broward family court judge was under federal investigation on suspicion of allowing a now-convicted Ponzi schemer to influence a case.

And this month, a former judge in Broward was disbarred for exchanging 949 phone calls and 471 text messages with the prosecutor during a death penalty case. Yet another judge was ordered removed in April after being accused of cheating clients and a co-counsel in the settlement of a civil suit she handled as a private lawyer a decade ago.

As it turns out, bad behavior by judges has become distressingly common across Florida in recent months. Judge John C. Murphy in Brevard County is on leave after he was caught on video this month threatening a public defender, who later accused the judge of punching him in the head. In the Keys, a judge who was replaced on the bench after dozing off told a local news reporter that Ambien made him hallucinate about “ ‘Fantasia’ and the dancing brooms.” Another stepped down because a blogger exposed a sexually explicit profile the judge had posted on a gay dating site.

But Broward — a heavily Democratic county of 1.8 million people with many judges who are the children, spouses, siblings and fraternity brothers of other judges and some of the region’s most powerful people — seems to be ground zero for allegations of judicial misconduct. The system’s critics say that is because Broward has a highly politicized and clannish culture that is known for protecting its own, which has led some in the judiciary to feel invincible, even as they preside over a county court system that produces the state’s highest exoneration rate.

“I do think it belies an underlying systemic problem in Broward County,” said Howard Finkelstein, Broward’s elected public defender. “I don’t think this stunningly embarrassing fact of having all these charges pending at the same time is indicative of a judiciary with substance abuse problems, but I do think it is a manifestation of the greater problem of a circle-the-wagons mentality.”

Records posted online by the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the independent agency that investigates misconduct by state judges in Florida’s 67 counties, show that 17 percent of the 62 formal disciplinary cases filed against sitting judges since 2001 have been in Broward.

Those figures do not include two judges who were recently arrested or those who resigned before a case was made public, such as Judge Lawrence L. Korda, who, in 2007, after presiding over parts of the Anna Nicole Smith case, was caught smoking marijuana in a park. (Not to be confused with Larry S. Seidlin, the Broward judge who sobbed on the bench during a nationally televised ruling on where the reality TV star should be buried.)

Many judges accused of wrongdoing remain on the bench, such as the family court judge who took in a foster child who had appeared in his court, only for the teenager to accuse the judge years later of molesting him.

“Tell me one other courthouse that at any time ever had three judges pending criminal charges, a fourth judge disbarred by the Supreme Court and another judge awaiting removal,” Mr. Finkelstein said. “And that doesn’t include the naked judge!”

In 2001, a Broward County judge was arrested on charges of public intoxication after being found drunk and naked from the waist down at a resort that was hosting a state judicial conference. Mr. Finkelstein has been there: A recovering addict, he, too, was once arrested, after using cocaine and crashing into a police car.

William J. Gelin, a defense lawyer in Broward who runs a blog,, that chronicles courthouse antics and posted a photo of Judge Rosenthal’s arrest, noted that the Judicial Qualifications Commission only reveals cases that result in misconduct charges. Most complaints against judges remain secret, which he said adds to the perception that judges feel omnipotent.

“It’s time to shine a light on these individuals and their performance, as the founding fathers intended,” Mr. Gelin said.

Michael L. Schneider, executive director and general counsel of the commission, acknowledged that the recent run of Broward judges being arrested is unusual, but that the agency dealt with cases “one at a time” and not systemically.

“The commission isn’t a punishment group,” he said. “It’s designed to evaluate fitness of somebody to be a judge.”

Broward’s chief judge, Peter M. Weinstein, said the rash of arrests was an “anomaly” that did not reflect the hard work judges do every day at the courthouse.

“It’s a big court system — we have 103 people making decisions every single day,” Judge Weinstein said. “Over all, we have excellent judges, and nobody ever reads or hears anything about them.”

A lawyer for Judge Rosenthal, Brian Y. Silber, declined to comment.

Two of the arrested judges refused a Breathalyzer test, but the test conducted on Judge Rosenthal showed that she had not been drinking. She told the police that she had taken Ambien the night before, but after failing a field sobriety test, she refused to take urine or blood tests, according to the police report. The police, suspecting that she was impaired by drugs, charged her with D.U.I.

Judge Pollack was suspended without pay, despite a request from her lawyer, J. David Bogenschutz, that her alcoholism be considered a disability. She has sought treatment and hopes to return to the bench, Mr. Bogenschutz said.

“Where a judge has the same problem 5,000 other people have, it makes news,” he said. “They are not supposed to have human feelings and human failings.”

Mr. Bogenschutz, who has represented dozens of Florida judges, recently married one of his clients. His wife, Ana Gardiner, is the former Broward judge who was disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court this month for lying about an “emotional relationship” with a prosecutor during a 2007 case. (The defendant was granted a new trial and is now serving a life sentence instead of being on death row, as Ms. Gardiner had ruled.)

“You shouldn’t get special treatment because you’re a judge, and you shouldn’t be treated more harshly if you are a judge,” said Marc Shiner, who represents Judge Cynthia G. Imperato, who was arrested in November for driving under the influence. “They are trying to make an example out of her.”

Golden Oldies

When you hear the classic phrase as used in the below title or the "back in my day" you know you are speaking to an oldster. I shutter to think what the aspirant class of the millennial generation will analogize about. Back in my day you could put a phone in your pocket! And we had to speak to people to order coffee! Technology is their only touchstone

But when it comes to a matter of building, which is more than just housing, there are few interested in the actual technology that requires solid build. Yes instead of STEM education we should consider VOTE - vocational occupational technological education. That would include all the skills of varying trades - from commercial to residential construction and design, repair vs replace in all fields - from cars, roads to shoes, building maintenance, and assorted other trades - electrical, plumbing.

For awhile there were some trade programs that were looking into the green trades and including how to deconstruct houses (a skill Detroit could use), energy efficiency and other related skills required to move forward into a more sustainable focus regarding building infrastructure. I hear little about it anymore. I used to go to the Sustainable meetings and other "green" meet and greets, I quit going. Frankly I was shocked how little people knew or cared about the actual reality of what that meant and required.

I spent two years just researching materials to understand their claims to green, how they worked and their effectiveness and then I quit when I realized no one cared. There are those firms that are highly focused on the subject and needs but there are fewer and fewer of them as they go where the real green is.

It is money. That is all it is. And the skills needed are no longer encouraged and developed as it would require money to hire, train and in turn that is long term focus versus a short one. And in the Polaroid nation where we don't bother to wait for full development before on to the next this is why this shit falls apart.

We have made our entire country one of planned obsolescence. I guess that is one way of job creating by having to constantly rebuild what we did not do right the first time.

They Don’t Make ’Em Like They Used To
Inferior Products and Labor Drive Modern Construction

JUNE 26, 2014

ARROWSIC, Me. — TO reach our house in Maine, my wife and I drive hundreds of miles on highways, cross scores of bridges and even go through a tunnel or two. And as we come down the home stretch on a dirt lane full of rocks and ruts, I am reminded of how a piece of private real estate is a microcosm of our national infrastructure.

These days the word “infrastructure” is mostly associated with large, extensive public works: airports, harbors and highway systems. Although they play a key role in the nation’s economic well-being, these facilities are too often poorly designed, built, maintained and funded.

But infrastructure can also refer to things on a much smaller scale, like private homes and their appurtenances. Thinking about the construction, aging and care of this domestic infrastructure can provide insight into how we as a nation might better respond to our mounting public works problems.

Our 60-year-old home is an example of how infrastructure can be built to stand strong, age gracefully and be almost maintenance-free. The foundation sits firmly on solid granite. From the full basement you can see how the exposed beams, joists and underside of the flooring were made of good wood, built to last.

When I see a commercial building under construction today, I see nothing like this in the materials and workmanship, perhaps because it is simply a function of finance, expected to survive only until it is fully amortized in a company’s budget.

I can see the same decline in quality when I try to do work on our house. When it was built, two-by-fours were actually only an eighth of an inch short of those nominal dimensions. Today, a two-by-four is a full half-inch shy. This sort of thing frustrates carpenters and do-it-yourselfers alike, making old construction more difficult to fix and encouraging tearing down and starting over with inferior newer materials and less skilled labor. What a waste of time, effort and money — and, more important, superior infrastructure.

Our house’s sturdy balloon frame is covered outside with cedar clapboards and inside with knotty-pine paneling, whose stained and varnished finish looks as good as new. In contrast, newer homes have been clad outside in shingles that have deteriorated and inside with imported drywall, which, as it breaks down, releases fumes that sicken the occupants.

Workmanship has declined in parallel. There continue to be expert craftsmen — carpenters, roofers, painters — who work with precision and pride, but they are increasingly being pushed out by cheaper labor with inferior skills (which is, of course, why the labor is cheaper). I have had paint jobs that blistered within days and had to be redone — at my expense. And I have heard and read of many analogous experiences.

This is not the fault of homeowners, but of the industries whose practices favor the use of inferior products and labor that drive modern construction: the developers, lenders, builders and Realtors who, to make quick money, have created a stock of domestic and commercial infrastructure that is a waste of resources and will not last.

Understandably, many people wonder about throwing good money after bad. They wonder why hastily repaired potholes reappear in weeks, if not days; why a newly repaved highway feels like a washboard; why a bridge that seems to be perfectly serviceable is being replaced when the road leading to and from it appears to be in worse shape; and why it seems to take forever to complete a highway project.

We do not have to be citizen-craftsmen who work on our own homes to know that it does not have to be this way. And we do not have to be homeowners or highway engineers to know that good materials are better than poor and a job done well from the outset will outlast one done shabbily.

As we debate how to pay for infrastructure, we should also have a discussion about raising expectations for what we’re buying. Homeowners, project managers and legislatures alike must call to account suppliers and contractors who do not produce the quality of materials and work they promise. A roof or road that does not meet agreed-upon standards needs to be redone, at the irresponsible party’s expense.

Such challenges will naturally lead to delays and legal proceedings, but this is the price for getting things done right. In time, doing it right the first time will once again become wise and standard business practice, and we can look forward to infrastructure that looks good, works well and lasts.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Jail Ain't Cheap

As I have been covering the criminalization of poverty and the incessant costs, fees and absurd charges that are incurred by those who have the misfortune to enter the system of injustice, the added costs of just being in jail will soon rival that of a 4 star hotel.

Nickel and dimed, more like dollars and cents.  To get anything, anything in prison you must pay.  You pay in many ways and as I have said soon families or heirs of those who face the death penalty will be billed for those costs as well.  Someone has to pay for those drug cocktails.

And of course the grubbiest fingers in the pot of gold and the end of the bars are hedge funds.  Nothing says betting more on the incarceration nation and our obsession with jailing anyone we don't like.  I wonder if any of those bankers in the slammer have a pay as you go card.  I bet they can buy a lot of favors in exchange. As there is nothing corrupt going on in there at all.  And they have hands on experience in money laundering, its a perfect fit.

In Prisons, Sky-High Phone Rates and Money Transfer Fees

By:  Stephanie Clifford & Jessica Silver-Greenberg
Published New York Times, June 27, 2014SE

Inside the razor wire on Eagle Crest Way, in rural Clallam Bay, Wash., telephone calls start at $3.15. Emails out, beyond the security fence, run 33 cents. Money transfers in, to what pass for bank accounts, cost $4.95.

Within that perimeter lies the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, a state prison — and an attractive business opportunity. One private company, JPay, has a grip on Internet and financial services. Another, Global Tel-Link, controls the phones.

These companies are part of a new breed of businesses flourishing inside American jails and prisons.

Many of these players are being bankrolled by one of the most powerful forces in American finance: private equity. Private investment firms have invested many billions of dollars in the prison industry, betting — correctly — that it is a growth business.

Wall Street previously championed companies like Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private corrections company. But unlike companies that have thrived by running prisons, the likes of Global Tel-Link and JPay are becoming de facto banks, phone companies and Internet service providers for inmates and their families across the nation.

It is a lucrative proposition, in part because these companies often operate beyond the reach of regulations that protect ordinary consumers. Inmates say they are being gouged by high costs and hidden fees. Friends and families say they have little choice but to shoulder the financial burden.

But private enterprises are not the only ones profiting. Eager to reduce costs and bolster dwindling budgets, states, counties and cities are seeking a substantial cut in return for letting the businesses into prisons, a review of dozens of contracts by The New York Times found. In Baldwin County, Ala., for instance, the sheriff’s department collects 84 percent of the gross revenue from calls at the county jail. A Texas company has guaranteed the county at least $55 a month per inmate, according to a copy of the contract.

Similar stories are playing out in places like the Emanuel Women’s Facility in Swainsboro, Ga.; MacDougall Correctional Institution in Ridgefield, S.C.; and the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, The Times found. Some corrections departments use the commissions to provide services, said Steve Gehrke, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Corrections. In Washington State, all commissions go toward compensating victims and improving services like libraries.

But even some industry executives see problems with the current setup, saying the commission system encourages providers to charge inmates more, not less, for services. Companies often win contracts based on how much they will offer states via commissions, rather than the rates they charge inmates.

Global Tel-Link, of Reston, Va., has contracts with 2,200 correctional operations serving at least 1.1 million inmates. It argued in recent comments to the Federal Communications Commission that the more states and cities demand in commissions, the more it will charge inmates. “There is no free lunch,” the company said.

“It is clear that it drives up the prices for these services and the commission system should be modified,” said Ryan Shapiro, the chief executive of JPay, which is based in Miami. Doing that, he added, can be difficult because many state budgets are strained.

Not that JPay is shying away from the business. It has deals in 33 states to provide money transfers, and contracts in 17 states to provide email, along with other services in states across the country. Now, it is offering a $50 tablet that allows inmates to download MP3s and get limited access to email, educational videos and books. The response from corrections departments has been overwhelming, Mr. Shapiro said.

The response from inmates and their families has been less enthusiastic.

Ely Peterson often wires a small amount of money each month to the commissary account of his fiancée, who is serving a 15-year-sentence at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville for acting as an accomplice to murder. But transferring $25 costs Mr. Peterson $6.90. Mr. Peterson, who is 72 and a retired Marine, said that some months he can barely afford to send $15 to his fiancée, who uses her commissary account to buy food.

Walter Chruby, who has served 19 years of a life sentence for murder, calls such rates “unjust and unreasonable.” Mr. Chruby, 51, who is at State Correctional Institution-Laurel Highlands, in Somerset, Pa., argued in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va., in April against Global Tel-Link that prisoners had no choice but to pay the high rates.

Mr. Chruby’s sentiment was echoed in dozens of lawsuits filed by inmates against Securus, Global Tel-Link and other providers. While the F.C.C. capped interstate telephone rates at 25 cents a minute earlier this year, after agitation from prisoners’ rights advocates, local phone rates can still be steep and other fees vary widely from state to state. For instance, using a phone to transfer $10 into an inmate’s account via JPay to the Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Mo., costs $3.95, while a similar transfer to the Illinois Youth Center in Chicago runs $5.95.

Placing a 15-minute in-state call from a Union County, N.J., jail costs $8.50, according to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, which recently filed a petition asking for lower in-state rates. In New York State, which does not accept commissions from providers, a 15-minute phone call costs just 72 cents.

Donna Starkey, of Nashville, Tenn., said that even dropped calls eat up money when she calls her son, who is serving a three-year sentence at Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility.

Securus, Global Tel-Link, another company, CenturyLink, as well as corrections departments in Arizona, Mississippi and South Dakota, have challenged the F.C.C.’s rules in court. The companies say they need to charge high rates for security concerns — inmates’ access to financial services, telephones and the Internet is limited and, in most cases, monitored by providers. Even after prisoners are released, high fees can be difficult to escape. Rather than giving released inmates checks for the money they had when they were incarcerated, as well as any prison earnings, many prisons are putting the money on prepaid debit cards, which often come with high fees.

On its EZ Exit prepaid card, for instance, EZ Card & Kiosk of Irvine, Calif., charges $15 to replace a lost card, $4.95 a month to maintain it, $4 to receive a paper statement and $2.99 to withdraw money from an A.T.M.

Ronald Hodge, the company’s chief executive, said that EZ Card tries to keep fees low but must balance that with administrative costs. “We, along with our jail customers, are very concerned about the cost and impact of the card,” he said.

Junk and Science

The headlines have been most provocative of late with the screams that many Americans are booze hound drunks on the verge of death at any moment. The confusing media reports have anyone labeled chronic drunk if you are a man and drink 15 drinks per week, aka 2 drinks a day and for women at 8 or 1 a day. We get a second glass on the weekends apparently while binging.

Once again I asked what was the science that determined this ratio and what is the intended outcome? I am guessing this is much like the junk science the NHTSA uses to bribe or extort states to conform to the .08 per se limit for DUI convincing most Americans that they are dangerous drunken drivers after a beer or drink and they have the audacity to get behind a wheel as they will immediately kill people. This statistic is of course jiggered (a little alcohol pun humor there) to reflect that any accident where anyone in the accident, regardless of actual impairedness, is labeled a "drunken driving accident."

 Now on the eve of the ever increasing move to legalize Marijuana the DUI chops are a flying. I have read that more Schizophrenics use Marijuana or even more unclear become schizophrenic after smoking pot. I can't wait to see that Glenn Close PSA soon! And add the issue of binge drinking and the r.a.p.e "epidemic" on college campuses which might have something to do with it, but really the CDC trying to manipulate America? No....

So this new "study" I found most interesting. And then I looked at how it was determined. I reprinted it below for those curious but once again it is one size fits all equation and in turn more media histrionics up there with the crack babies, meth heads and heroin addicts roaming the streets in search of a fix.

Just the metrics alone are bizarre. Ages 20-64 a 40 year spread, then we have no factors for race, ethnicity, family medical history, economics or psycho-social factors and limited to these states: California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. I see the similarities and consistencies right there!

I highlighted the flaws and bolded what the outcome intent is of this study. It is always money. Stopping sales of alcohol not going to happen as we saw in Boardwalk Empire that doesn't work out so good.

And we have the real issue which is our "relationship" to alcohol and this type of study does nothing to help this at all.  Just label everyone a drunk and stoner and then what is the purpose other than to sell more drugs and bullshit fake rehabilitative centers.  In Denver you are not often taken directly to jail when caught for a DUI but to a rehab center to sober you up and of course diagnose and eventually treat you for your "alcoholism" or "pot addiction."  This too is a money making scheme tied to the agenda.

As noted in a Aurora, Colorado site,  DUI arrests is a challenge for Arapahoe House, a detox center that temporarily treats intoxicated drivers. After a 33 percent rise in police referrals, Arapahoe House plans to partner with Aurora Mental Health to expand its services.

With referrals expected to spike 44 percent in 2013, Aurora City Council approved $144,450 in additional funding to hire additional staff for the facility, including two nurses and a full-time case worker.

So when the sudden pronouncement that Americans are drunken nuts on the verge of near death and destruction the media fails to mention the limited scope and scale of this study, how the data was obtained and in turn how the needed adjustments for age, etc were made and in turn how it affects the results. I so want Harvard to look at this and drive me to drink with his data analysis. I feel this is right up his alley.

What I did love is that actual estimated DUI deaths (13K) versus alcohol related diseases (25K). So really which is more fatal, lets get some laws on that right away.

But hey the headlines edited make it sound really bad! And media likes it really bad! Brian Williams doesn't have time for questions and stuff. He is a busy man reading this shit to us.

Alcohol-Attributable Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost — 11 States, 2006–2010
March 14, 2014 / 63(10);213-216

Katherine Gonzales, MPH1, Jim Roeber, MSPH2, Dafna Kanny, PhD3, Annie Tran, MPH4, Cathy Saiki, MS5, Hal Johnson, MPH6, Kristin Yeoman, MD7, Tom Safranek, MD8, Kathleen Creppage, MPH9, Alicia Lepp10, Tracy Miller, MPH10, Nato Tarkhashvili, MD11, Kristine E. Lynch, PhD12, Joanna R. Watson, DPhil13, Danielle Henderson, MPH14, Megan Christenson, MS, MPH15, Sarah Dee Geiger, PhD16 (Author affiliations at end of text)

Excessive alcohol consumption, the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States (1), resulted in approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) annually during 2006–2010 and cost an estimated $223.5 billion in 2006 (2). To estimate state-specific average annual rates of alcohol-attributable deaths (AAD) and YPLL caused by excessive alcohol use, 11 states analyzed 2006–2010 data (the most recent data available) using the CDC Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) application. The age-adjusted median AAD rate was 28.5 per 100,000 population (range = 50.9 per 100,000 in New Mexico to 22.4 per 100,000 in Utah). The median YPLL rate was 823 per 100,000 (range = 1,534 YPLL per 100,000 for New Mexico to 634 per 100,000 in Utah). The majority of AAD (median = 70%) and YPLL (median = 82%) were among working-age (20–64 years) adults. Routine monitoring of alcohol-attributable health outcomes, including deaths and YPLL, in states could support the planning and implementation of evidence-based prevention strategies recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force to reduce excessive drinking and related harms. Such strategies include increasing the price of alcohol, limiting alcohol outlet density, and holding alcohol retailers liable for harms related to the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors and intoxicated patrons (dram shop liability) (3).

The ARDI Custom Data module* was used for this analysis by 11 states (California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin) participating in the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists' Alcohol Subcommittee. ARDI estimates AAD and YPLL resulting from excessive alcohol use by using multiple data sources and methods (4).† ARDI estimates AAD by multiplying the number of age- and sex-specific deaths from 54 alcohol-related conditions by the alcohol-attributable fractions (AAF) for that condition. AAF are used to express the extent to which alcohol consumption contributes to a health outcome. AAF estimate the proportion of deaths from various causes that are directly or indirectly attributable to alcohol consumption. The AAF range from 1.0 for 15 conditions (e.g., alcoholic liver disease and alcoholic polyneuropathy) to as low as 0.01 (e.g., hypertension and hemorrhagic stroke in females). The AAF used in ARDI and for this analysis are provided in the application. YPLL by age, sex, and race/ethnicity were calculated by multiplying age- and sex-specific AAD estimates for each cause by the corresponding life expectancy estimate at the time of death.§ For chronic causes of death (e.g., liver disease), AAD and YPLL were estimated for decedents aged ≥20 years; for acute causes, they were estimated for decedents aged ≥15 years. AAD and YPLL also were estimated for persons aged 15 -54

Prevalence data on alcohol use for 2006–2010 were obtained from state Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Systems and used to calculate AAF for most chronic conditions profiled in ARDI. Average annual state rates for AAD and YPLL per 100,000 population for 2006–2010 were calculated by dividing the average annual AAD and YPLL estimates for 2006–2010 by the average annual bridged-race population estimates from the U.S. Census for 2006–2010, and then multiplying by 100,000. The rates were then age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. population.

During 2006–2010, the median age-adjusted AAD rate was 28.5 per 100,000 (state median AAD = 1,647; rate range = 50.9 deaths per 100,000 in New Mexico to 22.4 per 100,000 in Utah) (Table 1). The median AAD rates increased with age, and the majority of AAD (median 70%) involved working-age (20–64 years) adults. The median AAD rate was highest (60.3 per 100,000) for persons aged ≥65 years and lowest (4.1 per 100,000) for persons aged 0–19 years. The median age-adjusted AAD rate for men (42.4 per 100,000) was more than twice the median age-adjusted AAD rate for women (15.8 per 100,000). AAD rates varied substantially by race and ethnicity; some states (e.g., North Dakota and South Dakota) had very high rates of AAD among American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN), whereas rates in other states (California, Michigan, and Virginia) were highest among blacks (Table 1).

During 2006–2010, the median age-adjusted YPLL rate was 823 per 100,000 population (state median YPLL = 42,756; rate range = 1,534 YPLL per 100,000 in New Mexico to 634 YPLL per 100,000 in Utah) (Table 2). The median YPLL rates were highest among persons aged 35–49 years (state median YPLL = 12,486; median state rate = 1,183 per 100,000) and lowest among persons aged 0–19 years (state median YPLL = 3,285; median state rate = 256 per 100,000). A median of 82% of all alcohol-attributable YPLL involved working-age adults (range = 85% in New Mexico to 78% in Nebraska). The median YPLL rate for men (1,215 per 100,000) was more than twice the median rate for women (456 per 100,000). YPLL rates were highest for AI/AN, ranging from 4,195 YPLL (South Dakota) to 200 YPLL per 100,000 (Virginia) (Table 2).
Editorial Note

During 2006–2010, excessive alcohol use resulted in a median annual age-adjusted AAD rate of 28.5 per 100,000 population and a median YPLL rate of 823 per 100,000 in the 11 states studied. Approximately two out of three deaths and four out of five YPLL were among working-aged adults, and more than two thirds of AAD and YPLL involved males. Although the majority of AAD involved non-Hispanic whites, the median AAD rate for AI/AN (60.6 per 100,000) was twice as high as the AAD rate for any other racial or ethnic group. These findings are consistent with other published estimates on the distribution of AAD and YPLL by sex (4), disparities by race/ethnicity within states (5), and differences in AI/AN rates among states (6).

The findings in this report highlight the ongoing public health impact of excessive drinking in the United States, as well as the geographic and demographic disparities in AAD and YPLL. Differences in age-adjusted rates of AAD and YPLL among states probably reflect differences in the prevalence of excessive drinking (7), which is affected by various factors, including state and local laws governing the price, availability, and marketing of alcoholic beverages (8). These death rates also might reflect the influence of other factors (e.g., rurality and access to trauma care) that could affect the risk for death from alcohol-attributable conditions (9). The high rates of AAD and YPLL among working-age adults further highlight the impact of excessive alcohol use throughout a person's lifespan, and were a major contributor to alcohol-attributable productivity losses from premature mortality that, together with lost wages, were responsible for 72% of the estimated $223.5 billion in economic costs in 2006 (2). The AAD and YPLL rates were lower among the 0–19 years age group because this age group had fewer AAD compared with other age groups.

The findings in this report are subject to at least seven limitations. First, ARDI exclusively uses the underlying cause of death and does not consider contributing causes that might be alcohol-related. Second, ARDI does not include AAD estimates for several causes (e.g., tuberculosis) for which excessive alcohol use is believed to be an important risk factor. Third, the alcohol data used to calculate AAF estimates were based on self-reports and might underestimate the actual prevalence of excessive alcohol use (10). Fourth, state estimates calculated in this study might be different than those available in the ARDI application. Fifth, national AAF data were used, even though studies suggest that there are important state differences in AAF for some causes of alcohol-attributable deaths. Sixth, AAD and YPLL rates could not be calculated for some age and race/ethnicity categories because of the small number of AAD in some of these groups. Finally, some AI/AN might have been misclassified by race on death certificates, which could have resulted in an underestimate of the number of AI/AN deaths and YPLL in states (6).

The Community Preventive Services Task Force has recommended several population-level, evidence-based strategies to reduce excessive drinking and related harms, including increasing the price of alcohol, limiting alcohol outlet density, and holding alcohol retailers liable for harms related to the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors and intoxicated patrons (dram shop liability) (3). Routine monitoring of alcohol-attributable health outcomes, including deaths and YPLL, in states could support the planning and implementation of evidence-based prevention strategies to reduce excessive drinking and related harms.

Last Word

On the subject and issue of rape, sexual violence, "rape culture", rape "epidemic" or anything to do with those issues that have been of late mocked, debated, discussed, analyzed, etc. etc etc.

I cannot ever find out what happened to me.  There will be no justice no peace in my case and if I am ever to heal I need to move on.  Sadly, I cannot.  I have a calendar full of legal obligations that dominate my schedule for the rest of the year.  And none of them related to the maniac who chose to slip a drug in my drink, propelled me to consume outrageous levels of alcohol to ostensibly cover the drugs affects and in turn propel me into a vehicle that nearly killed me and could of killed others.

If anyone ever says to me why I have not ever been able to go after the maniac I will give them the number of the City of Seattle Prosecuting Attorney who refused to help me. She could have easily gotten a Court Order for Verizon to verify phone ownership and in turn found the predator, but no it was easier to prosecute me.   Ask her why.  Her name is Jennifer Miller.

And whenever I read the varying tweets, blogs, posts on "rape" I know they fall into two categories - the rape apologists and the victims.  There are every now and then just supportive people who truly empathize with the pain people go through this act of violence often confused with sex.

NO ONE has to this day helped me.  If you mean my Attorneys, they did not. I paid  them and went into debt to do so (as many do when the choice is an overworked PD)  and again we have a calendar full of appeals and motions awaiting.  But help me other than their professional obligation, no.  Even that came at a cost beyond the check.

No rape group, support network, no women. NOT one ## or concerned message from anyone.  I was truly ill, I sustained serious injuries from my accident  and in the process had NO medical help as it came between paying Lawyer or Doctors?  (and no I never liked either before this began and this only confirmed my worst fears)

So, in addition to the criminal case I have a second civil case against the supposed medical providers who did NOTHING to help me.  NOTHING.  I go without Attorneys there, I could not do worse after what I experienced in criminal court.

Yes two cases - civil and criminal.  And I go alone. No indignity by any media, by any group, no crowd sourcing, no fake signed protests, no ## or kindly soul who would offer me help of any kind.  And I could use help.

I have been called more names and been given more bullshit "good lucks" than any human should hear in a lifetime than I have over the last two years.

To say I am consumed with rage would be an understatement. I have no idea how to abate any of it.  I used to think just a conversation with an intelligent being would assuage that pain.  Well in that formula  I would need two variables, but I can find no one intelligent enough to just talk about anything. Anything other than sports.  We are proud of our ignorance and we assume that operating a computer and functioning upright marks intelligence.

I get now why people hate many smart people as they are also often rich so in my case I need the rich part then it would not matter.  Social isolation comes and requires a huge price tag.  Funny genius IQ is often linked to mental illness.

So when I started to read Law blogs it was to see what I needed to know and to quickly get up to speed on both criminal and civil matters.  I was cramming in law school in a very do it yourself mode.  I found that they fall into about three categories:  Largely advertising, with some story or incident that is followed by one of two quotes:  "nothing in this blog is legal advice if you need legal advice you need to contact an Attorney."  or the other "if you need an Attorney for .... then call.... who can provide you with a free consultation about your case."

The next is the "blawger" (even the idiotic name says it all).  This is a group of inbreds whoops I mean incestuous.... whoops I mean interconnected Attorneys usually criminal defense ones who basically are the online equivalent of cable television. They lather rinse and repeat their talking points and pat each other on the back by jabbering to each other online.  Aside from the obvious "blawg" roll awards they self masturbate each other with... whoop I mean self congratulate each other with. They are so proud of their fake awards, such as the Top 100 New Attorney of Meaning, which ostensibly means they are advertisers in the magazine awards such titles it is hilarious.  I would love to know what Red Roof Inn they have their annual circle jerk in so I can avoid it like the plague.

These "blawgs" are also easily identified by the  amazingly rude disclaimers that insult you before you even bother to think about commenting as they need you to know you are an idiot for even considering you are worthy of publishing your mundane thoughts in  this  their private clubhouse.  Look at Popehat blog for an example of assholes on parade.  And most of their links are their Libertarian brotherhood,   however, on the rare click some have clearly not been vetted enough as they are useful.

The third is the actual real Attorney blog. They are rare but they are there. Real Lawyers talking about real laws and cases.  I have learned and actually applied some of their lessons.   I would thank them but I fear a bill would come as a result.  They are very rare and troll is an applicable term for what is tantamount to this endeavor as you have to crawl under rocks to find these sites.

Blogging is an odd obsession for some of them.  It was in fact a former Attorney whom I hired and fired who found my first blog and felt compelled to read it and attack my current Attorney. Disturbing as I have never used his name even in open court to either denigrate or demean him.  And I was asked by Jennifer Miller (the only name I will ever use openly as she is public figure so she cannot sue me) about "all" my Attorneys I had hired.  The first I never met nor showed up but yet he still emails me, mails me flyers and wants to Link In.. HILARIOUS.    So I hired this one on public transport while enroute to fire the lawyer I had to get the check back from.  Yes I paid a deposit for an Attorney I never met.  So anyone who thinks when shit hits the fan you will know who to call, how to find them, get appropriate references and so forth.. WRONG.  That does not happen in criminal situations.

 I  simply fired Attorney #2 because I did not think he had enough experience with forensic (aka blood) evidence.  That was the primary reason which became the secondary reason once he treated me as a recalcitrant child upon receiving the termination notice.  Then I realized later they all do that.   Attorney's are assholes.  At least Harvard admitted that to my face and he earned my respect right there.

So when I saw this on Jezebel about the Daily Show's smackdown of the issue of college rape and the failure to do anything I realized that smart minds have smart thoughts on the subject and then I knew I was done.  It was after reading some Libertarian blawgers smackdown on rape in college as some equivalent to what I heard in Court said about me.  And I thought who knew that these supposed defense Attorneys really identify with the criminals they defend.  They seem to find false equivalency of the Duke Rape case and the Central Park Jogger one to the ones happening on the campuses.   Well Duke and Central Park are appropriate comparatives for their Prosecutorial Misconduct, Media obsession and the manta to "see justice done" not the cases in Montana, Florida or any other of the now 63 colleges under investigation.

The idea of equivalency could be applied to numerous other cases - McMillan or the Friedmans.  Those were famous child sexual abuse cases that were utter bullshit.  Add the Nanny cases of shaken baby syndrome and we can pretty much go through a checklist of bad cases that prove how innocent people are convicted for crimes based on shitty junk science and bad lawyering on BOTH sides.   And shoe other foot, under prosecution as in the Trayvon Martin case.

So when this same crew found some Brown University idiot who came forward to cry about his year off of school when he was falsely accused of rape, they were sure it was the equivalent of the tossed condom.   This punk's  story was published in the Daily Beast (I refuse to link such bullshit)  is so pathetic and unnecessary that I thought "dude you could have gone to Europe and studied there for a year and no one would know anything about this tragic incident."  But going public is what we do in this victimization nation.  The Libertarians, such as Radley Balko, whom I do respect,  seem to think this is all the ammo they need to ensure that cries of rape are highly exaggerated.

I am not even sure the problem is confined to rape "culture" (whatever that is)  but the whole fraternity, patriarchal, sports "culture"  society of University life. It is to the point now some Universities have removed fraternity's from their campus.  Again there are many many problems and sex is just a part of it.

So to the Libertarian Cato Institute brethren.. let me use your term... check your white male privilege at the frankly I am bored with your derogatory misogynistic rants about the issue.  Stick with civil rights and true issues about the military nation that is defining America.  On that we agree.

We have massive problems in this country.  The recent announcement that the CDC found that the problems with alcohol and drugs contributing to increased death and health problems speaks volumes about the issues also regarding campus life.  And of course contributes to the mixed emotions and lack of understanding about engaging in sexual contact.  It might of explained why no one helped me, I was just thought as binge drunk on a bad trip. Well that is what Jennifer Miller explained to the Jury. That I was just a tarted up slut on a night of bad fucking.

One day my story will be told my way on my terms.  But I am done with it for now.  We have a problem not with rape but with sex, with communication between people. So they rely upon machines to do it and when forced to contact each other they use excess booze and drugs.  That is the problem.

The Daily Show's Take on Sexual Assault Is Devastatingly Good


How good is it? It's got everything a lady could want: Jessica Williams in top form. Jon Stewart growing agitated over gender-related injustice. A subtle shoutout to "Not All Men!" The Daily Show's take on sexual assault is so good I feel like I need to lie down for awhile after watching it.

Jon Stewart opens the segment by drawing attention to the case at James Madison University, where three frat bros taped themselves sexually assaulting a visibly incapacitated classmate while on spring break. The tape was forwarded to other bros, who forwarded it on, etc, etc, etc. The girl didn't discover until it had already spread like wildfire what had happened to her. The boys' punishment? Expulsion upon graduation. Or, as Stewart points out.... "graduation."

The problem just isn't occurring at James Madison; dozens and dozens of colleges and universities are currently being investigated by the Department of Education over their mishandling of sexual assault (the clip used in the segment refers to 55 schools under investigation, but the number is now actually 63). 

Economics of Climate

Whenever you want to resolve an issue in this world of Oligarchy you find that the best way to do so is via Economics. This strategy is what has suddenly gotten the American elite to take note of the obsession of criminalization of America. It is not the fact that our jurisprudence system is utterly corrupt and ineffectual it is a matter of costs that has drawn their attention but hey any port in a storm and the same goes for climate change.

As I frequently point out that the science of any matter is in fact a matter of finance. Who funds the research, the studies and ultimately the affect is the outcome. It is why I support and endorse Governmental research in the belief it is for the benefit of all and not of an agenda, ideally. And history has supported that even when that research is for negative outcomes, say global destruction vs global restoration.

The costs of climate change is that of economics. We have cities utterly destroyed due to the powerful storm surges, crops and food development globally is at risk, the health and survival of man and animal is finally so significant that we sadly now can see the trees of this deteriorating forest. The trees are much like the fading middle class and the costs of our environmental destruction are in fact costing our economic growth.

Hate, Like or are indifferent I agree with President Obama's assessment of this situation. You can read more here.

“People don’t like gas prices going up; they are concerned about electricity prices going up,” Mr. Obama said in a speech at an annual dinner for the League of Conservation Voters. “If we’re blithe about saying, ‘This is the crisis of our time,’ but we don’t acknowledge these legitimate concerns — we’ve got to shape our strategies to address the very real and legitimate concerns of working families

Eduardo Porter of the New York Times had an excellent column with regards to the subject and Paul Krugman did a column responding to another editorial by yes a Republican, Hank Paulson (former Treasury Secretary and Bank apologist for a Republican administration) and the ways that need to be examined on how to pay and support a move towards sustainable policies that encourage reducing that ubiquitous carbon footprint.

The idea that this is a political party issue and is one associated with an ideology needs to realize that despite the differences in how to do this, it has to be done. You cannot on one hand demand the government to cut spending for the future of the children while simultaneously destroying the planet in which these same children live. One hand in this case does watch the other and the right hand does know what the left hand is doing.

I think of the phrase grow up and wonder what that now refers to? Ignorance is bliss? No it's ignorance.

Taking Effective Action Against the Unstoppable
Carbon Cuts Now Won’t Stop Climate Change, but Could Limit Damage

JUNE 24, 2014
Eduardo Porter

Climate change is not an event in your children’s future. It is bearing down upon you now. And there is nothing you — or anyone else — can do to prevent the hit.

Over the next quarter-century, heat-related death rates will probably double in the southeastern states. Crop losses that used to happen only once every 20 years because of cataclysmic weather will occur five times as often.

This is our future even if every person on the planet abruptly stopped burning coal, gas, oil, wood or anything else containing carbon today and we hooked the world economy onto the wind and the sun tomorrow. The change is baked in, caused by CO2 spewed into the air long ago.

This stark future is rendered vividly in a comprehensive report released on Tuesday by the Risky Business Project, a coalition of political and business luminaries representing widely different political views — including the former Treasury secretaries George P. Shultz, Robert E. Rubin and Henry M. Paulson Jr. — that is intended to raise awareness about the impending perils of a changing climate.

The report is aimed squarely at corporate America, offering the kind of risk modeling a financial firm might make to assess the probable impact of a changing climate on an investment portfolio whose “assets” included farming, housing, labor productivity and crime.

Together with the latest assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reported in April, last month’s National Climate Assessment and the new rules proposed by the Obama administration to combat carbon pollution from power plants, it contributes to a new picture of climate change. And it is not pretty, puncturing the hopes held by some of the most uncompromising environmentalists and the most compromising politicians that humanity can still prevent climactic upheaval if we only start replacing fossil fuels today.

For starters, it seems clear by now that the world’s temperature will almost certainly rise more than two degrees Celsius — or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit — above the average of the late 19th century, a ceiling that the world’s leaders have repeatedly promised never to breach and a point at which climate-related risks rise even more sharply.

One prominent energy economist told me, speaking anonymously to avoid looking too gloomy, that the world would be “extraordinarily unlikely” to stay below the two-degree ceiling. Every country would need to decarbonize at the same pace that France did during its nuclear renaissance in the 1980s and keep up the pace for decades. Then we would have to start taking CO2 out of the air.

Second, despite the rising awareness of the risks caused by our unrestrained consumption of fossil fuels, there is no evidence that we plan to break the habit and leave a substantial portion of the Earth’s oil, gas and coal in the ground.

“We are swinging to fossil fuels in ways that couldn’t have been imagined a few years ago,” said Michael Greenstone of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We’ve made substantial progress in renewables, but there’s been even more innovation in fossil fuels. Incentives to invest in low-carbon energy are going down.”
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

As the Risky Business report lays out in detail, climate change over the next few decades is already a done deal. Whether we continue emitting CO2 at the current pace or somehow manage to buckle our belts and shift our economies onto something else, temperatures will increase by about the same amount.

“The economic benefits of mitigation do not start to be felt until midcentury and are most obvious in the second half of the century,” notes the report. Under the most pessimistic forecast — in which we do nothing to burn fewer fossil fuels — the average global temperature rises up to 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit over the next five to 25 years. Under the most optimistic, it rises about 1.6 degrees.

Reducing carbon emissions now is about helping prevent even more serious damage 50, 75 and 100 years from today. To address the more immediate risks, notes Trevor Houser, who heads the energy practice at the Rhodium Group, the economic modeling firm that performed the risk analysis for the Risky Business report, the best we can do is “invest in adaptation.”

What to do with this awareness? Homeowners in New York’s Red Hook and Coney Island neighborhoods should probably consider waterproofing, as both will fall into the one-in-100-year flood area over the next 25 years. Hospitals in the Southeast might want to staff up. The federal government may want to consider what will happen to the budget when it is left to reconstruct every city that gets pounded by a hurricane, not to mention the higher costs of heavily subsidized crop and flood insurance.

But there is more to be gained. A more realistic, detailed and nuanced assessment of both the damages that await us might allow for a more effective response.

Two degrees or bust not only commits the world to a probably unattainable goal, it promotes despondency once it becomes obvious we won’t meet it.

By contrast, the Risky Business analysis, which dispassionately lays out damages to specific places and economic sectors along a probability curve as the temperature rises well past two degrees, allows for the kind of cost-benefit assessment that could mobilize effective action.

By 2100, up to $507 billion worth of coastal property will be underwater if we continue emitting CO2 at the same pace as we have over recent decades. New York will face a one-in-100 chance of seeing the sea rise almost seven feet. Crop yields in the Southwest, Midwest and the lower Great Plains could fall up to 70 percent as extreme heat spreads throughout the middle of the country.

By the final decades of the century, Nebraska will face a one-in-20 chance that climate change will reduce its agricultural production by almost $2,000 for each man, woman and child in the state. North Dakota will face a one-in-20 chance that declining productivity will cost the state $1,600 per person, as workers stay indoors out of the sun. Arizona will face one-in-20 odds that energy costs will rise by $800 per person.

These odds are easier to understand than the panel on climate change’s abstract, abstruse estimate that keeping the temperature from increasing more than two degrees Celsius above the preindustrial era will cost up to 11 percent of consumption by 2100, in a world economy that would be three to nine times as large as today’s.

The question, for corporate chieftains, business leaders and voters remains: What is it worth to prevent these costs?

Perhaps our new understanding — detailed and specific — of their magnitude and timing will compel us to act. Mr. Paulson laid out an action plan in The New York Times on Sunday, centered on a tax on carbon emissions. Professor Greenstone supports a tax coupled with a major expansion of investment in research to develop cost-competitive technologies, which the United States could also make available to the big polluters of the future: China and India.

But don’t hold your breath.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Top 10 List

David Letterman really owns the trademark on this so I won't compete.

This is an article from last year and is still of course appropriate as it is not yet half of this one yet, but in line with the last blog entry, God's Work,  it discusses the Top 10 highest paid jobs in America.   And of course not shocking.

Below that is a map of each state with each State's highest paid profession.  Now the source I took it from did not validate where he found this map so I have no way of verifying it but I have this odd feeling it is not that outrageous.

The 10 Highest-Paid Jobs in America

By Danielle Kurtzleben March 29, 2013
US News and World Report

It's college acceptance letter season, and as students prep for four years of higher education, parents would do well to give them one piece of advice: go pre-med.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its latest rundown of occupational statistics, which dates to 2012,and of the 10 highest-paid positions, nine require medical training. Anesthesiologists lead the field, making slightly more money putting patients to sleep than the people cutting those patients open. The only non-medical workers that make it onto the list are chief executives, who come in at No. 10 with around $177,000 in annual wages, or around 24 percent less than the anesthesiologists.

Below, the 10 highest-paid occupations in America as of May 2012:

Occupation Average Annual Wages
1. Anesthesiologists $232,830
2. Surgeons $230,540
3. Obstetricians and Gynecologists $216,760
4. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons $216,440
5. Internists, General $191,520
6. Orthodontists $186,320
7. Physicians and Surgeons, All Other $184,820
8. Family and General Practitioners $180,850
9. Psychiatrists $177,520
10. Chief Executives $176,840

That's perhaps unsurprising—everyone knows doctors are handsomely compensated—but what is striking is the extent to which medical occupations dominate the top of the wage ladder. You can still make a decent living even if you are not a doctor, as the list below of 10 top-paying non-medical professions shows:

Occupation Average Annual Wages
1. Chief Executives $176,840
2. Petroleum Engineers $147,470
3. Architectural and Engineering Managers $133,240
4. Lawyers $130,880
5. Natural Sciences Managers $130,400
6. Marketing Managers $129,870
7. Computer and Information Systems Managers $129,130
8. Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers $128,760
9. Financial Managers $123,260
10. Sales Managers $119,980