Monday, March 19, 2012


When I started this blog on May 3, 2010 it was designed as a vehicle for sharing opinions, information, and an intellectual pursuit to become a better writer.

After 100 blogs, I can honestly say I am not a better writer but I have learned from this pursuit. I have learned to become a more disciplined writer, which is a plus. I have learned through my research for weekly blogs 90% of all people are good, but that other 10% you better watch out for. The Darth Vaders in this world are out there, the evil ones are those you do not see coming, who hide behind fancy words and spins.

It has become one of my positions of this blog to point out these Darth Vaders and expose them for what they truly are – we shall see how this works out.

Thank you for following along on this pursuit, hopefully it will get better.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Matthew Broderick (50), Glenn Close (65), Bob Costas (60), Aretha Franklin (70), Elton John (65), Peyton Manning (36), Danica Patrick (30), Tara Pugliese …the little colonel, Bobby Orr (64), Carl Reiner (90), Bruce Willis (57).

BP reaches $7.8 billion deal over Gulf of Mexico spill" - Does not include claims by Justice Department, or state and local governments -- "BP Plc has reached an estimated $7.8 billion deal with businesses suing over the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill ... BP said the cost of the proposed settlement [includes] a commitment of $2.3 billion to help resolve loss claims related to the Gulf seafood industry. It said the proposed settlement was not an admission of liability ... The oil giant still faces claims by the U.S. government, which is pursuing violations of the Clean Water Act and other laws, which could result in fines totaling billions of dollars. ... David Uhlmann, a University of Michigan law professor and former chief of the Justice Department's environmental crimes section, said the settlement ... 'paves the way for BP to negotiate agreements with the federal and state governments and begin the process of moving beyond the Gulf oil spill.'"

GOOLSBEE NOT CERTAIN ON RECOVERY – We asked Austan Goolsbee, now back at the University of Chicago after serving as a top White House economic advisor, how confident he is that the 2012 recovery has legs even though data keeps coming in mixed: 'No really knows the answer to that question. I'm inclined to feel a little hesitant against the idea that we are fully out of the woods because we have done this twice before, in 2011 and also the end of 2009. ... It's kind of hard to see how you unleash a growth rate in the short run that's well in advance of 3 percent. You look at the last GDP report and the private sector is growing 5 percent but the government sector is shrinking five percent so you wind up with a net 2.8. And we have 5 million vacant homes. One-third of a normal recovery comes from construction and we are not likely to get that. ...

'Unlike in other V-shaped recoveries from recessions, we cannot go back to what we were doing before ... We have to shift away from housing and consumption to exporting and investing and that's a very slow process ... And the world has not been tremendously friendly to enabling us to do that. Europeans have fumbled and fumbled their way to negative growth ... And China is slowing while the price of gas is going up. There are definitely some clouds. I'm not pessimistic. I'm just guardedly optimistic. ... Productivity grows 2 percent a year. So if the growth rate slows to around 2 percent then the job market will stop improving and the unemployment rate will start going back up again. ...

"What worries Republicans is that the cost of the extended primary season isn't just financial, but also ... in the impact of the beating Romney is taking ... plunging poll numbers with independent voters and a focus on issues that won't help the party recapture the White House. ... Santorum strategist John Brabender, talking to reporters Tuesday, suggested that they'd be hard-pressed to catch Romney if Gingrich doesn't drop out. 'I think the real key right now is: Can we get an opportunity to get a one-on-one shot with Mitt Romney?'"

YOUNG WORKERS FACE PRESSURE ON WAGES - "Young people entering the job market are taking the brunt of the downward pressure on wages caused by high unemployment, according to a new analysis of pay trends. In data compiled for a coming report, the Economic Policy Institute ... found that the average inflation-adjusted hourly wage for male college graduates aged 23 to 29 dropped 11% over the past decade to $21.68 in 2011. For female college graduates of the same age, the average wage is down 7.6% to $18.80. ...

"The drop in average wages for young adults is in contrast to U.S. government figures showing that average inflation-adjusted hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory workers of all ages and education levels are up 3% from a decade ago. The EPI data are another sobering sign for college students and have implications for the economy. With wages falling for many young people and about flat for the nation as a whole, consumers have limited ability to pay down debts and revive the economy with more spending."

THE TOP 3 CONTENDERS to succeed Secretary of State Clinton, who has said she would step down if President Obama were reelected: Sen. John Kerry ... national security adviser Tom Donilon ... Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

THE REASON TO BUY IT: "There's a new microphone icon on the iPad's virtual keyboard that can be pressed to dictate emails or other notes on the device. Just say a few sentences and the new iPad is supposed to automatically type up everything you said."

"The new iPad screen was billed as the best display ever on a mobile device. The tablet also features a five-megapixel camera and high-definition video recording. Apple said the latest model has the same 10-hour battery life as its predecessor, with the span cut by about an hour with constant use of high-performing 4G telecom networks.

"The third-generation iPad weighs 1.4 pounds and is 9.4 mm thick, slightly heavier and slightly thicker ... A new iPhoto application turns the iPad into a slick tool for editing pictures with simple touches ... [Apple] also released an updated Apple TV box used to stream movies, television shows and other content from the Internet to high-definition TV sets. The new box features a streamlined new user interface and will sell for the same $99 price."

TOP TALKER - "Inside Fenway Park: An Icon at 100," a one-hour National Geographic Special on PBS - Mon., March 26 (10 p.m.) and Tue., March 27 (8 p.m.): "features interviews with columnist Mike Barnicle, author Glenn Stout, commentator Dick Flavin, and ESPN Senior Writer, Howard Bryant, along with archival footage and photos interwoven with a Yankees-Red Sox matchup. ... 'I think I do know about the ball park and why it has such a hold on people,' says Mike Barnicle . 'If you think about it and the times that we live in, many people don't even know their next door neighbor. People have several different jobs during the course of their working lifetimes. The bricks outside the ballpark along Yawkey Way - they've been there for a hundred years. It's still the same. So you have a feeling of permanence here that you might not have elsewhere in your life.' ... Working with unprecedented access to the ballpark, the workers, and players, the cameras bring Fenway Park alive."
BULLETIN -- 'Apple to Pay Dividend, Plans $10 Billion Buyback,' by WSJ's Jessica E. Vascellaro: 'Apple Inc. said Monday that it plans to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program starting later this year. The ... company expects to initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share sometime in the fourth quarter ... Its board also has authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program starting in fiscal 2013 to be executed over three years.'
WORLD'S BIGGEST BANK? IT'S WELLS FARGO - "If you want to do business with the biggest bank in the Western world, don't get on a plane to New York or London. The new place to go is sunny California. Wells Fargo & Co., with its headquarters in downtown San Francisco, has shot ahead of the East Coast institutions that have long been the behemoths of the financial industry, including JPMorgan Chase ... and Citigroup Although Wells Fargo still has fewer bank deposits than its closest competitor, its total stock market value is now about $178 billion - that's about $70 billion more than Citigroup and about $9 billion more than JPMorgan.
"It has even overtaken the largest bank in Europe, London's HSBC. This newly assumed title is not just a quirk of the stock markets. ... The new favorites in the banking industry are institutions that focus on the more straightforward business of taking in deposits and doling out loans. Wells Fargo is the only one of the four U.S. banks with more than a trillion dollars in assets that does not have a major Wall Street operation."
Next week, Jackass of the Month.
Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
March 19, 2012

#II-47, 100

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