Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer Movies

Rink Rats picks for the movies to see this summer:

Moonrise Kingdom – a pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them. This movie seems like it will turn out to be the Midnight in Paris of the year (an opening night Cannes comedy romance that’s made by a famous director, has a great cast, makes some money, and then ends up maybe even getting a few Oscar nominations and one win). Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray.

Savages - This movie stars Benicio Del Toro, Taylor Kitsch (who described the movie as Pulp Fiction meets Goodfellas), Blake Lively,  Uma Thurman, John Travolta, Aaron Johnson, Demian Bramchir, Emie Hirsh, and Salma Hayek. It’s a drama thriller directed by two time Academy Award winner Oliver Stone. I also think that it’s the most Oscar friendly movie of the Summer. 

To Rome With Love - Woody Allen’s best reviewed movie of the 2000′s.  His latest movie is about people in Italy and the adventures and romances that they have. The cast isn’t as star studded as Midnight in Paris‘ but the movie still stars Woody Allen, Jesse Eisinberg, Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page, Judy Davis, Roberto Beginini, and Alec Baldwin.

THE ONE ARTICLE TO READ ABOUT THE MEXICAN ELECTION  - The Wilson Center's Andrew Selee, on PRI's win and the U.S.-Mexico relationship: "Mexico's elections have brought back the PRI, an authoritarian party that ruled Mexico for seven decades. This possibility had worried many observers and politicians in the United States, and yet ... it will make little difference for the U.S.-Mexico relationship. This is largely a tribute to how deeply interdependent the two countries are ... The PRI has been known in the past for its anti-American rhetoric and distrust of the United States. However, circumstances over the past 20 years have completely changed the relationship ... Mexico has developed a vibrant export-oriented economy that is growing at a respectable 3-4% a year. Its major destination for exports is ... the United States. 

"States ranging from Texas to Nebraska, Michigan, Tennessee and New Hampshire depend heavily on the trading relationship with Mexico. Indeed, the growing Mexican economy is helping to fuel the expansion of jobs in these states ... Policymakers in both countries have a vested interest in managing these economic ties ... The new government will almost certainly want to deepen cooperation against drug traffickers."

"Mexico's president-election to shift drugs war focus with 40,000-strong force, Enrique Peña Nieto, the 45-year-old candidate of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI), who won the election, said it was essential to put Mexicans' concerns before anything else. '[Violence] is the most sensitive issue for Mexicans,' he told the Financial Times in his first interview with an international newspaper. 'Mexico cannot put up with this scenario of death and kidnapping. ... There will be no pact or truce with organised crime.

"Peña Nieto beat his closest rival by just over 5 percentage points ... More than 55,000 people have died in during the past five years, and the murder rate in Latin America's second-largest economy has almost tripled from eight per 100,000 inhabitants to more than 22 today."

CALIFORNIA DREAMING -  "Now San Bernardino bankrupt: The city, facing the possibility of missing payroll, becomes California's third in weeks to authorize a Chapter 9 filing,"  : "The city's fiscal crisis has been ... exacerbated by escalating pension costs, lucrative labor agreements, Sacramento's raid on redevelopment funds and a city reserve that is tapped out ... City Hall was packed for Tuesday's emergency council meeting, which had been called to discuss San Bernardino's bleak finances. Bankruptcy was expected to be discussed as one option but an actual vote to file was not anticipated. ... San Bernardino's tax revenues have declined by as much as $16 million annually over the last few years, primarily because of drops in sales and property taxes.

"The city joins ... Stockton and Mammoth Lakes ... Stockton, a Central Valley agricultural hub, ... tried to remake itself during the last decade as a refuge for former San Francisco Bay Area residents. It spent money on a marina, a high-rise hotel and a promenade. They flopped. Residents also got swept up in the boom years, snapping up new tract homes on the city's outskirts. Soon, many of them were empty, victims of the nationwide foreclosure crisis.. ... Days later, the High Sierra town of Mammoth Lakes ... filed for bankruptcy [because] the town could not afford to pay a $43-million breach-of-contract judgment in a lawsuit brought by a developer .... nearly three times ... Mammoth Lakes' annual operating budget." The cities of Pomona, Vernon, and Compton could be next.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Spencer Davis (70), Bob Dole (89), Will Ferrell (45), Don Henley (65), Nelson Mandela (94), Brian May (65), Angela Merkel (58), Patrick Pugliese …famous roller hockey goalie, Carlos Santana (65), Robin Williams (61).

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH – This month’s Jack Ass is not a particular person but a type of person. You all know the person or persons: a boss who does not accept responsibility for his or her actions, the boss who passes the buck, the leader who does not lead but follows, the leader who takes short cuts and the easy way out,  and finally the supervisor who has no clue what their subordinates do for him or her.

Yes there are plenty of these types to go around. Why they are in a position of leadership? The simple answer is their supervisors have no clue. But the realistic answer is that in many professions, industries, vocations – why rock the boat? I am sure there are people reading this blog who know of these Jack Asses, in fact some people reading this blog are those Jack Asses but can’t figure it out.

Figure it out people, for everybody’s benefit.

NBC Sports, "Facts about the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London": "The official dates of the Games of the XXX Olympiad are Friday, July 27, through Sunday, August 12, 2012. The Games will last 17 days, including one day for the Opening Ceremony, and span three weekends with the soccer preliminaries, there are 19 days of competition. ... London will be the first city to host the Olympic Games three times (it previously hosted in 1908 and 1948). ... The 2012 Olympics will welcome approximately 10,500 athletes and 204 countries. ... There will be 302 official events on the 2012 Olympic program, 259 more than were on the 1896 program 116 years ago. ... The London Games will take place across 34 competition venues. 

"Four sports - fencing, gymnastics, swimming and track & field - have appeared in every modern Olympics. ... The United States has won a medal in every sport on the 2012 Olympic program except for badminton, table tennis and team handball. (Rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline, disciplines in which the U.S. has never won an Olympic medal, are both under the sport heading of gymnastics.)... There will be 8.8 million ticketholders at the London Games. ... It took three years to construct the Olympic Stadium, which is 53 meters high and contains 10 tons of steel." 

LOW TAX RATES - "Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday. ... [A]t the very moment anti-tax protesters were emerging as the most powerful force in American politics, handing Republicans landslide control of the U.S. House, the data show that people were sending the smallest portion of their income to the federal government since 1979."

CHINA's BLUES - China's GDP growth slowed to its slowest rate in 3 years, the country's National Bureau of Statistics has reported, adding to a growing list of signs that the world economic recovery is slowing. Decelerating trade and manufacturing slowed the country's growth to 7.6 percent in the most recent quarter, a development that could push Premier Wen Jiabao to step up the central government's stimulus efforts as it prepares for a perilous political transition.

WALL STREET WEEK - Wall Street comes off one of its strangest positive weeks in quite a while: both the Dow and the S&P 500 finished with slight gains for the week, despite the fact that Friday saw the first gains for both averages in seven sessions. The stock market’s resilience faces a handful of tests in the week ahead, including Fed chief Bernanke’s Congressional testimony, a handful of economic reports, and the acceleration of earnings season.

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama is in Cincinnati today for an economy-themed event. He visits Texas on Tuesday for fund-raisers and campaigns in Florida on Thursday and Friday ... VP Joe Biden is in NYC on Tuesday for a DCCC event ... Mitt Romney is in Pennsylvania on Tuesday where he will step up efforts to brand Obama a "crony capitalist" who rewards top donors with political goodies. ... Romney is in Ohio for an event on Wednesday ...

... Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is on the Hill on Tuesday (Senate Banking) and Wednesday (House Financial Services) for his semi-annual testimony on the economy and monetary policy. Lawmakers will have plenty of questions about whether the Fed will take any more steps to boost growth. Republicans will suggest the central bank risks inflation if it does more and Dems will say it risks long-term, above 8% unemployment if it doesn't. Bernanke is also likely to face Libor and Dodd-Frank implementation questions, especially on the Volcker Rule ...

House Financial Services has a hearing on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. on the impact of Dodd-Frank on "families, communities and small businesses." ... House Financial Services has more Dodd-Frank hearings Thursday afternoon and Friday ... Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein speaks on the U.S. and global economies on Wednesday before the Economic Club of Washington, DC in conversation with Carlyle's David Rubenstein (open press) ... CFPB has a field hearing in Detroit today on the credit reporting industry.

Top economic data include industrial production on Tuesday (expected to rise 0.3%); Housing starts Wednesday (expected to rise to 745K annual pace from 708K); Philly Fed on Thursday (expected to improve to -8.0 from the recessionary -16.6 last month) ... Goldman Sachs reports earnings on Tuesday, Bank of America on Wednesday and Morgan Stanley on Thursday, among other second quarter results.

Next week, words of the month and restaurant review.

Until Next Monday, Tchau.

Claremont, CA
July 16, 2012

#III-12, 117

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