Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Autumn in the Southern California Garden

The climate of Southern California is great for creating a garden that bursts with color and blooms virtually year-round. Fall and winter is the time to rest, but a little pruning, fertilizing, and organizing can give you a leg up on the rest of the year. Come springtime, garden activities include mowing and fertilizing, as well as plant prep for hotter summer temperatures. Prime growing season tasks include keeping on top of weeds and spent flowers and supplementing water when needed. Unlike much of the country, Southern California gardeners spend fall planting again before waiting for winter rains and restoration. Through all the seasons, help your garden by planting a few favorite, super-easy perennials and hardy native plants. Even though the sun shines almost year-round in Southern California, deer can be an issue; check out plants less palatable to these pesky animals. If you're looking for inspiration, tour a Southern California garden where the gardener uses spaces to create garden rooms. Rink Rats recommends in Claremont, California the wonderful Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

Two of The Best Perennials for Your Garden –

Every region has its share of extra-easy plants. These time-tested favorites have become classics of country and cottage gardens and are full of heirloom charm. Pick these perennials and you can enjoy a colorful, almost carefree yard. We've pulled together some of the easiest-to-grow perennials in the Southwest. Add them to your landscape for season-long color.


A sprawling native wildflower with pretty trumpet-shape flowers, datura blooms all summer long. The beautiful white flowers are fragrant in the evening hours and the gray-green leaves make a nice foil.
Note: All parts of this plant are extremely poisonous.
Plant Name: Datura meteloides
Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil
Size: To 4 feet tall and wide
Grow it with: Salvia, which offers wonderfully contrasting spiky blooms.
Zones: 7-11; often grown as a self-seeding annual in colder areas


This dramatic, shrub like succulent offers interesting texture and foliage. It's no wonder agaves are becoming favorites of gardeners everywhere -- their bold, architectural form really stands out in the landscape.
Plant Name: Agave americana
Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil
Size: To 25 feet tall in bloom and 6 feet wide
Grow it with: Western columbine for a bold combination of color and texture.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Another law school has joined the war of tuition. Wayne State University Law School in Detroit is the latest law school to slash its prices. Reports the Detroit Free Press: Wayne State University’s Law School will freeze tuition next year and give a scholarship to every incoming student in a move designed to make a law degree more affordable, while boosting sagging enrollment at the Detroit school.

In total, the tuition freeze and additional scholarship money will amount to the equivalent of a 14% tuition cut for all incoming students, the school is to announce this morning…

The move will keep annual tuition costs at $28,138 through at least the 2015-16 school year. By comparison, the University of Michigan law school costs $25,490 per semester. Like many law schools, Wayne has had to deal with shrinking enrollment. The school, which placed 87th in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent law-school ranking, saw its enrollment fall to 419 students this fall, down from 484 students the previous year, according to the Free Press. “For us, it is really important to ensure that everyone has access to quality legal education,” Wayne’s dean, Jocelyn Benson, told the paper.

In the last couple of years, several other law schools have trimmed their prices, seeking to lure price-sensitive students amid a national decline in applicants. University of Arizona, Penn State Law, Brooklyn Law School, University of Iowa College of Law and University of La Verne College of Law have also lowered their tuition.

The law schools may be taking a page from the “Crazy Eddie” school of marketing, but their strategy is not insane.

Three institutions that trimmed tuition for some or all students were set to boost their first-year class sizes by 22% to 52% this fall compared with 2013, according to an analysis of preliminary enrollment data by The Wall Street Journal from September.

NATURE OF THINGS – Many wild animals are returning to Southern California this time of year, specifically to Claremont. Students have returned to the numerous Colleges and Universities we have in the area. The Acorn Festival returns in November to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. The over hyped Christmas decorations and gift shopping returns earlier and earlier every year at this time. “The Snub” returns after a brief stint with the Republicans down south.

Finally, the Parrots have returned to the Southland and Claremont, flying west every day at 6:00 PM. The popular theory is that the Parrots came from Simpson's Nursery in east Pasadena on East Colorado Blvd in the Lamanda Park area. It caught on fire in 1969. (Alternately I've seen some stories state the name was Simpson's Gardenland and Bird Farm which burnt down in 1959) Either the parrots were released to save them from the fires or they managed to escape on their own in time. From these parrots, the Pasadena Parrots came about. Other stories claim that the parrots have migrated up from Mexico but others still state they were originally black market birds released by smugglers .

Although no one seems sure how they actually ended up in Southern California, at least six and possibly as many as thirteen different species have been spotted in southern California. The different species even inter-breed at times: Sources say that they are yellowhead amazon parrots, an endangered species that has been kept as pets for decades because they are some of the best "talkers" amongst the many different species of parrot. Additionally California's Parrot Project and California Flocks keep track and offer up information on the different species of parrots found in the state.

Species that have been identified in Southern California by CaliforniaFlocks.org include: Yellow Chevroned Parakeets, Mitred Conures, Blue Crowned Conures, Indian Ringneck Parrots, Nanday Conures, Yellow Head Amazons, Blue Fronted Amazons, Lilac Crowned Amazons, Green Cheeked Amazons, Red Masked Conures, Red Lored Amazon and White Fronted Amazons.

2014 ELECTIONS PICKS – WELCOME TO THE FINAL WEEK OF THE MIDTERMS (MAYBE) - The 2014 midterm elections should end next Tuesday. But there is a good chance they won't. In fact, they could easily drag into January and the completion of the likely (though not certain) Georgia Senate runoff between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue. And Louisiana, where Democrat Mary Landrieu is trying to hold on, is almost certainly headed to a December runoff. Republicans need six seats to take the Senate and are near certain to pick up three open seats currently held by Democrats in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana.

Rink Rats Election Picks:
California Governor – Jerry Brown    
CA 27th Congressional – Judy Chu
CA 41st Assembly – Chris Holden                              
CA Super. Public Ed. – Tom Torlakson
Claremont Measure W – No                                      
CA Proposition 1 – Yes
Michigan Governor – Rick Snyder
Illinois 17th Congressional – Cheri Bustos 

U.S. Senate – Republican 51, Democrat 47, Independent 2
U.S. House – Republican 241, Democrat 194


'Right to work' impact?

Kristin Dziczek, director of the Industry & Labor Group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said next year's talks with Detroit automakers will include a "whole list of things that are going to be really hard."

With younger, lesser-paid workers representing a bigger chunk of UAW membership than in 2011, the union will need to have their support to ratify contracts. That's why the UAW will need to win benefits for both new and older workers.

And because of "right-to-work" laws, Michigan workers will be able to opt out of the union if they don't like it. "We haven't been in this situation," Dziczek said. "We don't know how it will play out."

It's going to be a balancing act, Dziczek said. "I don't think they can get rid of second tier, but I think they can get darn closer." She said the UAW might be able to win a phase-out of the two-tier contract in the next negotiations in 2019.

Dennis Williams, President of the United Auto Workers said the fact that UAW members in Michigan will have the right to quit the union after the next contracts take effect is not going unnoticed: "This is new to our members, this is new to the state of Michigan — so we'll deal with it, but it's not going to be a total focus of mine."

He said that in other right-to-work states, the union has been successful in retaining the vast majority of its members. "I've always believed that if you do your job representing people, that people will be there to support you."

Beyond wages, other issues will be contentious. Dziczek said automakers likely will seek to reduce pension costs as they did with salaried retirees. GM and Ford Motor Co. both offered lump-sum buyouts to salaried pension recipients if they agreed to forgo future benefits. GM off-loaded its pension plans to Prudential, while last year Chrysler froze its salaried pension plans for 8,000 people.

Harley Shaiken, a University of California Berkeley professor and labor expert, said the labor talks will pose a challenge. A deal "is going to be tough. It's going to require some swallowing hard on both sides." Much may depend on the economic conditions a year from now and if U.S. automakers are still posting billions in profits.

Williams dismisses suggestions that the UAW will focus solely on the Detroit's Big Three automakers: "We're not going to give up on organizing. In fact, actually we have more organizing going on right now than we've had for a long time — but we're going to approach it in a different way."

Beyond negotiations with Detroit automakers, the UAW will have to negotiate major contracts with John Deere, Mitsubishi and UAW Local 6000, which represents 17,000 state of Michigan employees. "This is not going to be an easy task," Williams said. "It's a full plate."

Growth opportunities seen - Williams, who moved to Detroit four years ago, has kept a low profile since winning election in June at the union's constitutional convention in Detroit. He's been meeting members, visiting plants and local union halls.

Since taking office, Williams has met with GM CEO Mary Barra and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. He plans to meet with Ford CEO Mark Fields soon. The meetings haven't been a "deep dialogue," he says. Rather, he characterized them as sessions to get to know each other.

The 2015 contract talks will be the first with Fields and Barra at the helm. In an interview last week, Barra said GM has a strong relationship with the UAW and a good relationship with union leaders. "We're having productive conversations about our approach," she says. "We're going to work together. There's a lot of creativity."

In 2013, the UAW's membership rose about 2 percent, or nearly 9,000 members to 391,415 — the most since 2008. It was the fourth straight year of membership gains for the union. Membership is still down about one-third since 2005 and down dramatically from when its 1.53 million members in 1979. Williams says the union sees foreign automakers, parts companies, the gaming industry and higher education as potential areas for new members. "The UAW has a great opportunity to grow," he said.

Williams' election marked the first time in the union's history that the president is someone who has not worked in an automobile factory. Williams, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a younger man, got a job as a salvage welder at tractor company J.I. Case and joined the UAW in 1977. His past isn't lost on him: Williams sits behind the president's desk in a makeshift tractor chair with his name and UAW logo embossed on it. It was built by an Iowa UAW local.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: John Cleese (75), Rochelle Hanson …famous public servant and finance expert, Juli Roberts …famous educator.

STEVE BALLMER TALKS MICROSOFT'S COMPETITION - Given the chance to do it all over again, what would former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (Detroit Country Day ’73) do differently? 'I probably would have started us doing hardware earlier so that we could have been more effective in the phone business,' he told Charlie Rose in an interview last week. A few other tidbits for the tech set: he still thinks Microsoft is the company to bet on in the long run. "If your time frame is one year, I'd probably take Apple, because they get the most earnings. If your time frame is 30 years and I'd probably take Microsoft and Google. And I - I'd pick Microsoft over Google because I am completely non-objective."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/1, 7:30 PM ET, Fox; Stanford Cardinal (5-3) at #5 Oregon Ducks (7-1); RR smells an upset Pine Trees 38 Ducks 35. Season to date (5-4)

1.      Mississippi State Bulldogs
2.      Alabama Crimson Tide
3.      Oregon Ducks
4.      Notre Dame Fighting Irish
5.      Florida State Criminals

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/1, 4:00 PM ET, Bravo; It is Homecoming at Maxwell Field, Willamette Bearcats (4-2) at #5 Linfield Wildcats (6-0).  No contest Wildcats 45 Willamette 14. Season to date (4-4)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/2, 8:30 PM ET. NBC;  Big game in the AFC North, Baltimore Ravens (5-3)at Pittsburgh Steeler (5-3). Big Ben prevails, Steelers 32 Ravens 28. Season to date (4-4)


Friday, October 31
Race #7, Dirt Mile – Goldencents; Rafael Bejarno Jockey, Leandro Mora Trainer
Race #9, Distaff – Untapable; Rosie Napravnik Jockey, Steven Asmussen Trainer

Saturday, November 1
Race #7, Turf Sprint – No Hay Never; Wes Ward Jockey, Lanfranco Dettari Trainer
Race #8, Juvenile – American Pharoah; Victor Espinoza Jockey, Bob Baffert Trainer
Race #9, Turf – Telescope; Ryan Moore Jockey, Sir Michael Stoute Trainer
Race #12, Classic – Shared Belief; Mike Smith Jockey, Jerry Hollendorfer Trainer

“Bet with your head, not over it.”

Season to date (61 - 51)


AMAZON TANKS ON BIG LOSS - Amazon reported one of the biggest losses in its history and admitted that some of its investments had not gone well as it vowed to be 'selective' about where it put its money in future. The ecommerce group's shares plunged 11 per cent in after-hours trading ... after news of a $437m loss in the three months to the end of September sharpened questions about its ability to generate long-term profits. ... Under pressure from analysts on a conference call to discuss its quarterly figures, Amazon's chief financial officer struck a tone that was contrite by the standards of a company that usually says as little as possible.

"With anything new that we do . . . there's certainly a wide range of outcomes,' said Tom Szkutak, Amazon's finance chief, when asked about its investments in hardware and overseas markets including China. ... Amazon's profits have been sapped by big investments in new Kindle devices, cloud computing infrastructure and warehouses across the world. ... But losses that exceeded Wall Street expectations have caused its shares to drop by close to or more than 10 per cent after each of the past four quarters' earnings announcements.

DRIVING THE WEEK – President Obama on MOnday meets with his "Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee" and plans to announce some new efforts to boost U.S. manufacturing ... Pending home sales at 10:00 a.m. Monday expected to rise 1 percent ... Durable goods orders at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.3 percent headline and 0.5 percent ex-transportation ... Case-Shiller home prices at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise 0.1 percent ... Consumer confidence at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise to 87.0 from 86.0 ... FOMC announcement at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday expected to include end to QE3 but continued dovish language on rates ... First read on Q3 GDP on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. expected to show growth of 3.0 percent ... Personal income and spending on Friday at 8:30 a.m. each expected to rise 0.3 percent ... Employment cost index at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to rise 0.5 percent from 0.7 percent, showing moderating wage and benefit costs ... Twitter reports third quarter results today with user growth still the big issue ... Facebook reports Tuesday.

Social Security checks will rise by 1.7% -- which translates into $22 more each month for the average retired worker.

In 2015, the average worker will receive $1,328 a month, or $15,936 a year, according to the Social Security Administration.

Next year's annual cost of living increase is up from 1.5% this year, but still less than 2012's increase of 3.6%. Seniors received no increases to their benefits for two years prior as prices fell due to the recession.

Next week: Dear Rink Rats, and Jack Ass of the month.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

October 28, 2014
#V-28, 237

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Peanuts, Charles Schultz

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Is Wall Street Smarter Than Us?

By a lot of measures, the United States economy is looking pretty good right now. The unemployment rate has fallen below 6 percent for the first time in half a dozen years, and jobs are being added at the fastest rate since before the Great Recession.

Things are looking better, that is, unless you turn your eye to Wall Street. There, the stock market’s main gauge, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, fell 0.8 percent last Wednesday after a wild ride during the day. It is off 7.4 percent since mid-September.

Moreover, longer-term interest rates are down sharply, which normally signals pessimism in the bond market about the nation’s economic future. A measure of expected volatility hit its highest level since 2011 on Wednesday, signaling that more manic days could lie ahead.

This apparent contradiction — and how it is resolved — points to the basic question for the United States economy and for Federal Reserve policy makers right now. How powerful is that underlying economic strength? And will the recent market volatility prove ultimately inconsequential, or does it presage harder times ahead for a nation still trying to muddle its way out of a downturn that technically ended more than five years ago?

In other words, does Wall Street know something that the rest of us don’t?

There are some reasons that, unnerving as these market moves have been, people who do not trade stocks and bonds for a living should still feel reasonably good about where things stand. Yes, the market sell-off of last week was driven partly by a weak reading on United States retail sales, which fell 0.3 percent in September. But some of the most direct effects of the market action are actually positives for ordinary Americans.

The price of oil is down about 20 percent since summer, which is making a wide range of fuels less expensive. Gasoline now averages $3.18 a gallon, down 14 percent since the spring, according to data from AAA. A slump in the prices of agricultural commodities like corn, soybeans and wheat should, over time, make trips to the grocery store cheaper.

And with money gushing away from risky investments like stocks into safer bonds, long-term interest rates have fallen steeply; the yield on a 10-year Treasury note briefly dipped below 2 percent last week, the lowest it has been in more than a year. (It closed the week at 2.13 percent.)

Those lower rates are likely to be passed through in the form of lower home mortgage interest rates, which could bolster a still-struggling housing market. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.13 percent last week, according to Bankrate.com, a number that could tumble further as the latest bond market moves are priced into consumer mortgages.

But perhaps the overriding message is that this market sell-off, to the degree it is a sell-off at all (the S.&P. 500 decline of 7.4 percent was matched by a similar fall in late 2012), may be bringing market prices more in line with the brutal realities of the economy.

While job growth has been solid this year, wages are rising barely faster than inflation, and the United States economy is producing far below its economic potential by most official estimates. Yet the stock market and other risky investments have generally been on tears since early in 2009, soaring to relatively high valuations relative to earnings. The Fed’s policies of printing trillions of dollars to buy bonds have been an important factor.

So the correction may not be about Wall Street knowing something about the outlook for the future that the rest of us do not, but rather about markets adjusting to more realistically reflect economic reality. Yes, things have improved, but maybe not enough to justify stock prices that are quite so high relative to corporate earnings.

“Due to excessive confidence in central banks, investors eagerly decoupled high market valuations from what was warranted by the sluggish fundamentals,” said Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief economic adviser of Allianz, the financial services company. That disconnect, he said, has been undermined over the last few weeks by signs that the global economy’s fundamentals are weaker than they seemed and concern that the European Central Bank will not adequately fight that continent’s economic drift.

The renewed bout of volatility partly reverses a trend through the first half of the year in which almost all global assets — both safe ones like Treasury bonds and risky ones like stocks and real estate — were increasing in value. Now money is shifting out of risky assets and toward the safe ones, which is a more normal pattern.

There is a big question, though, as to what, if anything, global policy makers ought to do about it. Fed officials have been clear that they expect to start raising interest rates from their longstanding near-zero levels in the middle of 2015. Until this month, markets have believed them.

On Oct. 1, futures markets priced in only about 9 percent odds that the Fed would not raise rates by December 2015. By Wednesday, that had risen to about 40 percent. That means investors are now betting, given the recent declines in stock prices, bond yields and inflation expectations, that Janet L. Yellen, the chairwoman of the Fed, and her colleagues at the central bank are quite a bit less likely to follow through with their plans to increase interest rates next year. There have even been some early rumblings of a new round of quantitative easing, or bond buying (the previous round is set to end in the weeks ahead).

The decision whether to increase interest rates next year will be Ms. Yellen’s first big test in a tenure as chairwoman that began in February, but has thus far largely carried out policies shaped by her predecessor, Ben S. Bernanke.

The quandary for Ms. Yellen, and for anyone reading scary headlines about the latest market moves, is this: Are these the kinds of routine gyrations on Wall Street that can be safely ignored? Or are they a signal that something is seriously wrong and the Fed needs to re-evaluate the path it has embarked on?

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Also Cartoon of the Week: Doonesbury


The new president of the United Auto Workers is moving to restructure the union as it gears up for one of its toughest challenges in years: next fall's critical labor talks with U.S. automakers as it seeks pay raises for veteran workers and more equitable wages for newer workers.

"We're shaking it up a little bit. We're actually restructuring internally," Dennis Williams told The Detroit News in his first wide-ranging interview since taking office in June. "We know we have a lot to do — but we don't want to put so much on our plate that we can't achieve nothing."

The Detroit union wants to convince U.S. automakers — who made $14.4 billion in profits last year — to agree to significant improvements in compensation, including for older workers who haven't had a raise since 2007. Williams is under heavy pressure to bridge the gap with newer employees known as "Tier 2" workers who earn significantly less than veteran employees — and get less in the way of benefits, including no defined-benefit pensions.

"We have to be focused on bridging that gap," the 61-year-old Williams said last week in his office overlooking the Detroit River at Solidarity House, the UAW's headquarters. "The companies need to recognize the fact that the (veteran employees) haven't had a raise."

The UAW faces significant pressure to deliver, in part because thousands of UAW members in Michigan will have the right to opt out of membership for the first time after Michigan approved controversial "right to work" legislation.

At the same time, Williams says, the union has to be "mindful that we are in a global economy with real competition."

Next year's contract talks are the first since 2007 in which workers at General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC have the right to strike; the UAW gave up that right for the 2011 talks as one of the conditions of the government bailouts for the automakers. Workers in June approved the first dues increase since 1967 — a 25 percent hike — to replenish the strike fund that had fallen to about $600 million. Union leaders said they needed a healthy strike fund so companies would take seriously the threat of a work stoppage.

Williams said a strike is not inevitable next year in contract negotiations, despite suggestions by some observers.

"We don't want to have a confrontation unnecessarily. I just think there's too much at stake for any of us to pick a fight with one another," he said. "We have big issues — there's no doubt about it — but I think, realistically, companies have to know... our members have sacrificed. I think that new people coming in want a higher standard of living and I don't think that's unreasonable. We'll find out when we get to the table."

Williams, who previously was secretary-treasurer of the union, said he is rethinking all of its operations. He says the UAW is making progress in its bid to win representation for workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant. He confirmed the union expects to launch a similar local for workers at Daimler's plant in Vance, Ala., asking to workers to volunteer to join.

He plans to again push the automakers to add more jobs in the United States. The 2011 labor agreements resulted in Detroit's Big Three automakers adding or retaining 28,000 jobs, and resulted in record-setting profit-sharing checks for UAW workers and pay raises for newer workers. By next year, those newer workers will make at least $19.28 an hour, up from about $15.50 in 2011. Part II next week.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: F. Murray Abraham (75), Tom Petty (64), Jaclyn Smith (69).

COVERING COSTS - Autumn is typically when U.S. companies reveal changes to employee insurance plans. As corporations push to contain costs, Wal-Mart, the country’s largest private employer, is cutting health insurance for another 30,000 part-time workers and raising premiums for its other employees. Several other retailers have also moved away from providing health insurance to part-time workers. For Wal-Mart the health law’s individual mandate, which requires most workers to have health insurance or pay a penalty, contributed to an influx of workers who signed up for coverage.

APPLE PAY GOES LIVE MONDAY, AND CUPERTINO'S TOUTING ITS PRIVACY - Apple's second event in two months wasn't the barn burner, but it did have a few newsy nuggets. Apple Pay, Apple's mobile payment system announced last month, goes live on Monday, with more than 500 banks making up 83 percent of the credit card purchase volume in the U.S. and 262 retail stores. Apple Pay will also work within online apps such as Groupon, OpenTable, Staples, Panera Bread, Staples, Target and Uber, with others like Sephora, Disney Store, Starbucks, StubHub and Ticketmaster coming on later. Apple CEO Tim Cook called Apple Pay "the private way to pay" for things. As anticipated, Apple also announced that it is adding Touch ID to the thinner, faster iPad Air 2. The iPad will also get Apple Pay, but unlike on the iPhone, Apple Pay on the iPad can only be used for online purchases. There were also plenty of oohs and aahs for the new iMac Retina 5K screens. Cook also took a victory lap for the latest iPhones, the fastest-selling iterations in the company's history.

GOOGLE'S STILL RAKING IN THE CASH, BUT IT MISSED ESTIMATES -  With more than 90 percent of Google's revenue coming from advertising, Google didn't bother with much else on its third-quarter earnings call. Nothing on Glass, or Fiber, or the self-driving car, or Nest, or Google drones. The company still rakes in quite a take, more than $16.5 billion in revenue for the quarter, up 20 percent from last year, but that still missed Wall Street estimates, sending the stock down more than 5 percent in after-hours trading. In answer to a question about where Google Wallet stands, Google CFO and Senior Vice President Patrick Pichette talked around the edges. "Our goal is to achieve mass merchant adoption and make it easier for customers to use their smartphone instead of their wallet," he said. On the potential changing tax laws in Europe, Pichette pretty much repeated the company line. "We've always said, it's for politicians to decide and for companies to comply with those laws. We're deeply committed to Ireland; we have 2,500 employees there. We'll work with authorities to understand this, but it's too early to tell what will happen," he said.

KILL OR CURE - The world had little interest in Ebola in 1997, when cell biologist Nancy J. Sullivan took up her research work. Today, Dr. Sullivan is likely to be at the center of any potential answer to the world’s severest outbreak of the deadly virus. So far Dr. Sullivan’s vaccine has been proven to block Ebola in monkeys. However, it is scheduled to undergo full human testing by early next year. Meanwhile, a top U.S. health official said that new hospital guidelines for health-care workers treating Ebola patients will require full body coverings and mandate that they be monitored while putting on and taking off protective clothing. And in a piece of good news, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, which had reported a handful of cases of the virus, was declared Ebola-free this morning by the World Health Organization.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/25, 7:15 PM ET, ESPN; #3 Ole Miss Rebels (7-0) at #24 LSU Tigers (6-2). Just how good are these Rebels? Not so, LSU 38 Ole Miss 28. Season to date (4-4)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/25, 8:00 PM ET, Bravo; #12 North Central Cardinals (5-1) at #19 Wheaton Thunder (6-0). A battle of first place in the CCIW Conference, we like North Central to pull the upset, 24 – 21.Season to date (4-3)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 10/23, 8:25 PM ET. CBS; San Diego Chargers (5-2)  at Denver Broncos (5-1). Broncos romp 42 – 28. Season to date (3-4)


(NCAA, Oct. 25) Michigan Wolverines (3-4) 14 at #8 Michigan State Spartans (6-1) 30

(NCAA SCIAC, Oct. 25) Chapman Panthers (4-1) 32 at Cal Lutheran Kingsmen (2-3) 20

(NHL, Oct. 25) Chicago Blackhawks (3-0-1) 3 at St. LouisBlues (2-2-1) 4

(NFL, Oct. 26) Baltimore Ravens (5-2) 17 at Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1) 21

Season to date (57 - 51)

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama is in Chicago Monday for Gov. Pat Quinn ... Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is in New York to meet with "business leaders" to discuss the economy ... Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin is in Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Finance Ministers Meeting ... Existing home sales at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise to 5.10M from 5.05M ... Consumer prices Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. expect to be flat headline and up 0.2% core ...

Index of leading indicators at 10:00 a.m. Thursday expected to rise 0.7% ... New homes sales at 10:00 a.m. Friday expected to drop to 470K pace from 504K ... Amazon, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Yahoo, GM and Ford among the big earnings reports this week ... Financial Services Roundtable along with the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI today co-host a financial cyber-security summit.

Next week: Fall in the garden, Mid Term election picks, Dear Rink Rats, and Jack Ass of the month.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

October 20, 2014

#V-27, 236

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Reality Check

I am very fortunate, I live in what I believe is one of the finest areas to live in the United States: Southern California, the Inland Empire, the Pomona Valley, Claremont.

The area has a wonderful climate, culture, entertainment, sports,  KTLA Morning News, and too many Republicans. What more could I ask for. But like anywhere in America problems exist. Many areas of the country currently are having problems between Police and their citizens: Ferguson, Missouri; Brooklyn, New York; Miami, Florida; relations strained, due to race, gender, income.

It so happens I observed these strained relations even in Claremont, California.

I was purchasing gas at a local station, while waiting in line to pay, a Claremont Police Officer entered the store and proclaimed and I quote: “Do you want that piece of human crap to leave?” The Officer was referring to a homeless gentlemen sitting on a bench in front of the store. The gentlemen working the cash register of the store said, “No he is okay, leave him alone.” I smiled good for him.

The Officer did not let up, again, “What a piece of crap, I will run him off.”  The Officer exited the store with the employee following behind telling him it is okay. The Officer treated the individual minding his own business sitting on a bench with disrespect and forced him to leave the area.

I was shocked on many fronts: the total disrespect of a human being, who was not harming anyone, the totally inappropriate nature of the Officer’s use of language and procedure, and finally, how this could happen in Claremont?

I love my life in Claremont, but also I realize Claremont is not perfect, it is my duty as a citizen to make the quality of life here better. I am bringing this incident to the attention of our Police Department. We shall see.

WHAT IS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA? - Southern California, often abbreviated as SoCal, is a megaregion or megapolitan area in the southern portion of the US state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The region generally comprises California's southernmost 10 counties, stretching along the coast from about San Luis Obispo County to the United States and Mexico border, and from the Pacific Ocean inland to the Nevada and Arizona borders. The heavily built-up urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura, through the Greater Los Angeles Area, the Inland Empire and down to San Diego. Southern California is a major economic center for the state of California and the United States.

Southern California's population encompasses eight metropolitan areas, or MSAs: the Los Angeles metropolitan area, consisting of Los Angeles and Orange counties; the Inland Empire, consisting of Riverside and San Bernardino counties; the San Diego metropolitan area; the Bakersfield metropolitan area; the Oxnard–Thousand Oaks–Ventura metropolitan area; the Santa Barbara metro area; the San Luis Obispo metropolitan area; and the El Centro area. Out of these, three are heavy populated areas: the Los Angeles area with over 12 million inhabitants, the Riverside-San Bernardino area with over 4 million inhabitants, and the San Diego area with over 3 million inhabitants. For CSA metropolitan purposes, the five counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura are all combined to make up the Greater Los Angeles Area with over 17.5 million people. With over 22 million people, southern California contains roughly 60% of California's population.

To the east of southern California are the Colorado Desert and the Colorado River at the border with the state of Arizona and the Mojave Desert at the border with the state of Nevada. To the south lies the international border with Mexico, and to the west lies the Pacific Ocean.

WHAT IS THE INLAND EMPIRE? - The Inland Empire (I.E.) is a metropolitan area and region of Southern California. It is situated directly east of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The term "Inland Empire" is most commonly used in reference to the U.S. Census Bureau federally defined Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area, which covers more than 27,000 square miles (70,000 km2). The metropolitan area consists of Riverside County and San Bernardino County.

According to the Census Bureau, the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside are home to over 4 million people and is the 13th-most populous metropolitan area in the United States, and the third-most populous in the state of California.[2] Most of the area's population is located in the southwest of San Bernardino County and the northwest of Riverside County. At the end of the 19th century, the Inland Empire was a major center of agriculture, including citrus, dairy, and wine-making. Agriculture declined through the 20th century, and since the 1970s a rapidly growing population, fed by families migrating in search of affordable housing, has led to more residential, industrial, and commercial development. The U.S. Census Bureau also combines the Los Angeles metropolitan area and the Inland Empire into one larger region known as the Greater Los Angeles Area with a population of over 17 million.

WHAT IS THE POMONA VALLEY? - The Pomona Valley, located between the San Gabriel Valley and Cucamonga Valley in Southern California, straddles the border between Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County. The alluvial valley is formed by the Santa Ana River and its tributaries.

Physical dividing lines separating Pomona Valley from San Bernardino Valley on the east include San Antonio Creek, which runs south out of the San Gabriel Mountains watershed around Mount San Antonio (known locally as Mt. Baldy) and joins the Santa Ana River south of Chino. Pomona Valley is separated from San Gabriel Valley to the west by the northeastern end of the San Jose Hills, running approximately along State Route 57. The northern boundary is the San Gabriel Mountains; on the south lie the Chino Hills. Historic U.S. Route 66 runs east-west across the north side of Pomona Valley.

On March 1, 1893 the California Assembly voted 54-14 for a new county to form in the region, to be named San Antonio County, with Pomona as its seat. Los Angeles interests in the Senate rejected the concept, however, and today the eastern and western portions of the valley remain divided between San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

WHAT IS CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA? - Claremont is a college town on the eastern border of Los Angeles County, California, United States, 32.5 miles (52.3 km) east of downtown Los Angeles. Claremont is located at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and Claremont Colleges are located there. The population, as of the 2010 census, is 34,926. Claremont is known for its many educational institutions, its tree-lined streets, and its historic buildings. In July 2007, it was rated by CNN/Money magazine as the fifth best place to live in the United States, and was the highest rated place in California on the list. Due to its large number of trees and residents with doctoral degrees, it is sometimes referred to as "The City of Trees and PhDs".

The city is primarily residential, with a significant portion of its commercial activity revolving around "The Village", a popular collection of street-front small stores, boutiques, art galleries, offices, and restaurants adjacent to and west of the Claremont Colleges. The Village was expanded in 2007, adding a controversial multi-use development that includes a cinema, a boutique hotel, retail space, offices, and a parking structure on the site of an old citrus packing plant just west of Indian Hill Boulevard. Some critics say that the expansion negatively altered the original, small-town feel of The Village.

Claremont has been a winner of the National Arbor Day Association's Tree City USA award for 22 consecutive years. When the city incorporated in 1907, local citizens started what has since become the city's tree-planting tradition. Claremont is one of the few remaining places in North America with American Elm trees that have not been exposed to Dutch elm disease. The stately trees line Indian Hill Boulevard in the vicinity of the city's Memorial Park.

The Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank (lets’ keep that quiet), is located in Claremont. Several retirement communities, among them Pilgrim Place, the Claremont Manor and Mt. San Antonio Gardens, are also located in Claremont. Also Claremont is the home of Rink Rats.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Mark Cuban is fighting back against student loan sharks who are drowning thousands of college students, and the economy, in a sea of debt.

Cuban went on CNBC to pitch his plan to tackle the country’s student loan debt crisis, which has now eclipsed $1 trillion. The best way to fix the crisis, he says, is to limit the amount each student is allowed to receive a year to no more than $10,000.

Cuban said that a cap on student loans would force universities to lower tuition cost and curtail spending. Rising tuition cost are putting a strain on an already fragile economy, and lowering tuition costs would improve a student’s purchasing power, Cuban said.

Tuition revenue has become the primary source of revenue at universities across the country, and Cuban equates this revenue source as “easy money,” and that colleges are using the money to embark on spending sprees: “[It's] just easy money, and easy money goes to a college administrators’ head just as much as anybody else. Anytime you create easy money, you’re gonna create a bubble or inflation, and that’s what’s happening with college tuition.”

And the bubble is on the verge of bursting.

Debt has become the new black for millenials, as TransUnion, a Chicago-based credit management firm, released a report that shows student loan debt is hampering the ability of 20-somethings to take out additional loans.

How bad is the crisis? Student loan debt is now carried by 36.8 percent of people ages 20-29, a jump from 12.9 percent just a decade ago. To put it in raw numbers, the average student loan balance jumped from $12,442 in 2005, to $29,575 today, and according to a study by Pew Research, even the rich have turned to borrowing for college.

This is the problem that Cuban is trying to find a solution to, as he believes solving the student loan debt crisis among college students will go a long way towards fixing the economy.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Paul Abbondante …enough said, John Dean III (76), Shannon Higgins …she does it all, Ralph Lauren (75), Roger Moore (87), Paul Simon (73).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/18, 8:00 PM ET, ABC; #5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0) visit #2 Florida State Criminals (6-0). Against all out better judgment, we pick The Irish to send Florida State to jail, 32 – 30.  Season to date (4-3)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/18, 5:00 PM ET, HGTV; The central Michigan rivalry continues: Albion Britons (3-2) visit Adrian Bulldogs (4-1). They will be 3,000 strong in this MIAA traditional clash – Bulldogs 28 Britons 10. Season to date (3-3)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 10/19, 8:30 PM ET, NBC; San Francisco 49ers (4-2) at Denver Broncos (4-1). We smell an upset here, 9ers 35 Broncos 32.  Season to date (3-3)

THE SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS – Swami had a bad week all around last week, we seek redemption this week.

(NCAA, Oct. 18) #15 Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-1) 45 at #12 TCU Horned Frogs (4-1) 35

(NCAA SCIAC, Oct. 18) La Verne Leopards (1-3) 42 at Whittier Richard Nixons (1-3) 28

(NHL, Oct. 19) Toronto Maple Leafs (1-2) 3 at Detroit Red Wings (1-1) 4

(NFL, Oct. 19) New York Football Giants (3-3) 24 at Dallas Cowboys (5-1) 21

Season to date (55 - 49)

MARKET WEEK - MARKETS KEEP SINKING: Asian stocks got off to shaky start on Monday in step with a steep decline on Wall Street as worries about global economic growth sapped confidence, keeping crude oil prices stuck near four-year lows. ... Japanese financial markets are closed on Monday and other major centers including the United States and Canada will be partially, or fully, shut for holidays as well. The declines in Asian markets came after U.S. stocks skidded 1.2 percent on Friday and Wall Street's fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility Index, jumped to a near two-year high.

With Europe staring at the prospects of a recession, Japan's economy floundering, China's expansion slowing and the Federal Reserve on track to end its bond-buying stimulus soon, investors have been cutting back on risk assets in earnest.

THE CORRECTION IS ALREADY HERE - For most American stocks, the correction has arrived. While gauges such as the Standard & Poor's 500 Index cling to gains for the year, declines that exceed 10 percent are spreading in the broader market. In the Russell 3000 Index, for example, 79 percent of companies are down that much from their highs ... Concern the rate of global growth is slowing and the Federal Reserve is preparing to raise interest rates has pushed the S&P 500 down 5.2 percent from its September record. The 1,700-stock Value Line Arithmetic index, which strips out weightings related to market value to show how the average U.S. stock has fared, is down 10 percent since July. Three weeks of declines have broken the almost unprecedented calm that had enveloped markets for most of 2014. Eight trading days into October, the S&P 500 has posted six single-day moves exceeding 1 percent. The market went without any swings of that size for 62 days in May, June and July, the longest stretch since 1995. At the same time, the 5.2 percent decline that started in September is only slightly bigger than the last two retreats that exceeded 3 percent, in April and August. Both gave way to larger advances. At about 15 times forecast earnings, the S&P 500's valuation has climbed 40 percent from the bottom in 2011.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Wall Street banks begin reporting third-quarter results this week with JPMorganChase kicking things off on Tuesday. JPM execs will face lots of questions over the latest cyber attack that hit 76 million accounts. Citigroup and Wells Fargo also report on Tuesday followed Bank of America Wednesday and Goldman Sachs Thursday, among others ... President Obama makes a rare public campaign appearance on Wednesday but it is in deep-blue Connecticut for a rally featuring Gov. Dan Malloy ...

CHINA EXPORTS RISE: China's exports rose more than estimated in September and imports rebounded as global demand helps underpin growth in the world's second-largest economy. Exports increased 15.3 percent from a year earlier ... compared with the 12 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. Imports rose 7 percent, against projections for a 2 percent decline, leaving a trade surplus of $31 billion. ...

China is benefiting from a U.S. recovery, bolstering an economy weighed down by a property slump and slowdown in industrial-output growth. Analysts forecast China's expansion this year will moderate to 7.3 percent, the slowest since 1990, and to 7 percent in 2015.

Next week: Fall in the garden and auto contract negotiation time.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

October 14, 2014
#V-26, 235

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – eflake The New Yorker