Monday, June 1, 2015

Summer Movies

Like any other summer the summer movies for 2015 appeal to the young and social network set – but there may be a couple of bright spots…you decide.

May 1: The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Iron Man is the head of the pack this time, as he tries to initiate a peacekeeping program after SHIELD has been destroyed. However, it backfires, and it’s up to the Avengers to save the world. With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo.  Huh?

May 15: Pitch Perfect 2
The sequel follows Beca (Anna Kendrick) and her a cappella group through their senior year at Barden University. With Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow and Elizabeth Banks. Chick Flick.

May 22: Tomorrowland
A mixed group of people set out to find and unravel what happened to Tomorrowland in order to save the world. With George Clooney. Dog with fleas.

May 22: Poltergeist
A new take on the classic horror film. A family relocates to a suburban home where a spirit kidnaps their daughter. With Jared Harris, Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt. Really?

May 29: San Andreas
A massive earthquake hits California, and a rescue helicopter pilot sets out across the state to find his daughter. With Dwayne Johnson. No Oscar here.

June 5: Entourage
Movie star Vincent Chase and his entourage are back. With agent/studio head Ari Gold in tow, they conquer the realm of Hollywood once again. With Adrien Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven and Kevin Dillon. Pretty Faces.

June 12: Jurassic World
Taking place 22 years after the events depicted in Jurassic Park, a new adventure park has been opened at Isla Nublar as envisioned by John Hammond. Owen, played by Chris Pratt, conducts research on velociraptors as a new attraction backfires. With Bryce Dallas Howard and Jake Johnson. Enough with the lizards.

July 1: Terminator: Genisys
The fourth movie in the installment includes time travel, dangerous new enemies and Arnold Schwarzenegger. With Emilia Clarke and Jason Clarke. What is Arnold's hair color now?

July 24: Pan
In yet another remake of the classic, the film follows an orphan who travels to Neverland, where he ultimately becomes Peter Pan. With Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried and Cara Delevingne. Huh?

July 24: Pixels
A group of video game characters attack New York City and video game experts are hired by the government to deal with the threat. With Kevin James, Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan and Jane Krakowski. Stellar cast.

July 31: Mission: Impossible 5
A movie about Ethan Hunt and the IMF team. With Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner and Alec Baldwin. Enough is enough.

August 7:  Fantastic Four
The comic book team gets rebooted in this blockbuster about four scientists who try to save the world with their superhuman abilities. With Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan. ????

August 14: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Based on the classic TV spy series, the film centers on a CIA agent who teams up with a KGB operative to thwart a terrorist threat. With Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Hugh Grant. I don't think so.

See what I told you, not much – Netflix here I come.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – At the annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education, it’s not hard to get people thinking about diversity and inclusion: They already are. The challenge for the chief diversity officers, other administrators, professors, and students who met here last week lies back home — keeping those ideals on colleagues’ and classmates’ minds every day, not just when prompted by a complaint or a scandal.
While many colleges now have top-level administrators and offices devoted to diversity, a hot topic of conversation here was how to make it a campus wide priority. For all students and employees to feel included, everyone has to be involved.

That means those committed to inclusion have to be strategic in working with fellow staff, faculty, and students to build a diverse, welcoming community. And they have to cultivate the involvement of top administrators, linking diversity efforts to the institution’s broader goals. For example, in an era when enrollment is a challenge for many colleges, and students’ success is under ever more scrutiny, attracting and retaining more students from underrepresented minority groups can help increase tuition revenue as well as serve a greater mission.

To make diversity and inclusion everyone’s responsibilities, some institutions are taking a new approach. Last summer, for example, Virginia Tech got rid of its Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the vice president’s position that went with it.

In their place, the university set up the President's Inclusion and Diversity Executive Council. Led by Timothy D. Sands, Virginia Tech’s president, the group, which meets monthly, includes 13 vice provosts and deans, plus six "inclusion coordinators" who are charged with raising issues and proposing effective strategies.

The idea is to spread out the responsibility. The former office was sometimes "scapegoated," said Dannette Gomez Beane, director of the Office of Graduate Recruiting and Diversity Initiatives and an inclusion coordinator on the council. "People would turn to that office for help and support, but also would turn to it for blame," she said, when a problem wasn’t easily solved. (The university plans to hire a new vice provost for inclusion and diversity, but the president’s council will remain in place.)

The new structure is supposed to force decision makers at Virginia Tech to assess all units’ needs in terms of diversity and inclusion, as well as their progress. Ideally, Ms. Beane said last week, it will discourage people from the highest levels on down to stop asking why someone isn’t doing something. They should start asking, she said, "What should I be doing?"

FOR CLASS OF 2015, LABOR MARKET STILL STINKS - Justin Lauria-Banta graduated in December from the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse with a perfect 4.0 grade point average and a major in economics. In an ordinary economy, the 24-year-old could expect a number of promising job options. But as he fired off scores of resumes with nothing to show for it, Lauria-Banta got worried. So he went back to college to finish up a double major in finance. He wound up with just three interviews.

Lauria-Banta has since landed a job as an entry-level financial analyst for IBM in Rochester, Minnesota at a modest starting salary of $40,000 per year, well below what he expected. And he counts himself among the very lucky ones. 'There is still a lot of trepidation and uncertainty out there,' Lauria-Banta said. 'I've got 10 or 15 friends coming out of business school and only a couple of them have jobs. And I only have a small loan so I'm lucky. Some of them have $80,000 or $90,000 or more to pay off.

BETTER BUT NOT GOOD - That is pretty much the story of the college Class of 2015. Job prospects are better for graduates that at any time since the Great Recession crested in 2009 and began its fitful roll back. But they are still pretty bad. And nearly six and a half years into Barack Obama's presidency, a promise he made in a 2009 address to a joint session of Congress remains unfulfilled. ...

You don't need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day,' Obama said at the time. 'But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.'

For the Class of 2015 - many of whom were in high school at the time of Obama's speech - that is still far from the truth. A White House official noted that the unemployment rate for recent college grads is dropping and that Obama has pushed for lower college tuition and student loan debt relief, among other initiatives. ... Still, according to research coming out on Wednesday from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the unemployment rate for young college graduates is now down to 7.2 percent, lower than it was during the worst of the Great Recession but still well above historical norms.

And the 'underemployment rate' for recent college grads - which includes part-time workers who want full-time jobs or have simply given up looking - is 14.9 percent, well above the 9.6 percent in 2007 before the recession began. According to another method of calculating underemployment that takes into account those with college degrees working in fields that don't require them, the rate is actually 44.6 percent - miserable by recent standards.

INT'L BLAST: BRAZIL CONTRACTS - Brazil's economy is expected to contract by nearly one-quarter this year in dollar terms due to a depreciating currency and a deepening recession, according to government figures. Brazil's planning ministry revealed in a budget presentation that gross domestic product was expected to be $1,812bn this year, down 23 per cent from $2,353bn a year earlier, as President Dilma Rousseff tries to unwind a multiyear stimulus programme that has left government finances bleeding red. ...

Brazil's economy is facing a hangover with the end of the commodities supercycle and government efforts to prolong a consumption and credit-led boom. Much of the expected fall in Brazil's economy in dollar terms this year is due to a projected depreciation of about 21 per cent in the real against the dollar from R$2.66 at the end of 2014 to an estimated R$3.22 by the end of 2015, according to the planning ministry. But the extent of the depreciation shows the challenges facing Brazil as it seeks to stabilise its contracting economy.

INTERNET FORECAST: ADDITIONAL 1B PEOPLE, 10B DEVICES WILL CONNECT BY 2019 - In a new forecast to be released today, Cisco predicts 1.1 billion people around the globe will gain Internet access by 2019, bringing the total to 3.9 billion. In that same time, an additional 10.2 billion devices will go online, for a total of 24.4 billion devices, the company predicts. Those stats come from the Cisco Visual Networking Index, which studies trends in fixed and wireless Internet traffic. The report predicts that Internet traffic will triple in the five years between 2014 and 2019, driven by the increase in Internet users, personal devices, broadband speeds, and machine-to-machine connections.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to:  Annette Bening (57), Pat Boone (81), Barbara Bush (90), Kathy Culligan …famous college administrator, Morgan Freeman (78), Heidi Klum (42) Al Unser (76).

JACK ASS OF THE MONTH - You may have just seen this headline, or a related one: “Sepp Blatter Re-elected as FIFA Boss Despite Charges” What does it mean? Which of those words are nouns, which are verbs, and which refer to human beings? Allow me to guide you, non sports fan.

Many Americans describe soccer as: boring, slow, nonviolent, “not really my thing,” dull, very boring, almost impossibly boring. And while it is true that soccer is all those things, sometimes, there’s at least one more way to describe it: incredibly corrupt.

On Wednesday, U.S. Department of Justice officials announced a wide-ranging indictment against more than a dozen officials connected to soccer’s reigning body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, also known as FIFA (pronounced FEEFA) (or Fife-ah if you are a schmuck).

Formed in 1904, FIFA—as I said above, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association—is the worldwide governing body for soccer (or, as it’s known to pedants, association football). Its essential function is to organize tournaments on both regional and international levels. The biggest of these, the men’s World Cup, is held once every four years. The women’s World Cup is also once every four years. Is this relevant information? That’s really up to you to decide. FIFA is also the governing body of futsal and beach soccer, whatever those are.

It is this corruption and dysfunction we award the Jack Ass of the Month to Sepp Blatter FIFA President, you better get a good lawyer!

CLIP AND SAVE -  A handy list of upcoming Congressional deadlines:

June 30: Export-Import Bank
July 31: Surface Transportation
Sept. 30: Child Nutrition & WIC
Sept. 30: FAA Authorization
Sept. 30: End of the Federal Fiscal Year
End of September or October: Extraordinary Measures for dealing the Debt Ceiling run out and default becomes possible.

NO CANDIDATE LEFT BEHIND: Hillary Clinton has a new Democratic challenger - former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is expected to announce his run for president this week. As governor, Chafee clashed with Education Commissioner Deborah Gist over a number of education reform issues, including charter schools.

And the Republican field will continue to grow this week too, with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham expected to announce his bid today and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry announcing Thursday.

REMEMBERING BEAU BIDEN – Vice President Joe Biden spoke of loss, aware of more to come:  At Yale, he reminded graduates that 'reality has a way of intruding,': Hiding behind a pair of aviator sunglasses that played along with the irreverent traditions of 'Yale Class Day,' Biden delivered the speech [May 17] knowing that his eldest son was dying of cancer - the same son whose injuries in the crash forced Biden in 1973 to take the Senate oath in a hospital room, beside his son's bed. Beau Biden had already been admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda for ... 'aggressive treatment' of brain cancer. ...

In the stoic tradition of Irish Catholicism , the vice president kept his son's deteriorating condition to a tightknit circle of family, his closest friends, top advisers and President Obama. The president, along with first lady Michelle Obama, visited the Biden home at the Naval Observatory on Sunday to pay their respects to the vice president and his wife, Jill. In a rare Sunday session, ... senators began with tributes to the Bidens. Joe Biden's adult life, spent almost entirely in the public eye, has now been bookended by tragedy."

--From Biden's Yale Class Day speech: "Try to look beyond the caricature of the person with whom you have to work. Resist the temptation to ascribe motive, because you really don't know ... Resist the temptation of your generation to let 'network' become a verb that saps the personal away, that blinds you to the person right in front of you, blinds you to their hopes, their fears, and their burdens. Build real relationships -- even with people with whom you vehemently disagree. ...

"I've worked with eight Presidents,  hundreds of Senators. I've met every major world leader literally in the last 40 years. And I've had scores of talented people work for me. ... Regardless of their academic or social backgrounds, those who had the most success and who were most respected -- and therefore able to get the most done -- were the ones who never confused academic credentials and societal sophistication with gravitas and judgment."


Chicago Black Hawks win the Stanley Cup in 5 games.
Golden State Warriors win the NBA Championship in 6 games.
Carpe Diem to finish Third in the Belmont Stakes
Frosted to finish second in the Belmont Stakes
American Pharoah to win the Belmont Stakes & the Triple Crown
Season to date (56-22)

MARKET WEEK – Greece faces a week of tough decisions as negotiations over a financial lifeline edged closer toward endgame with creditors showing no signs of budging over what it will take for them to release more money. As another of the government's self-imposed deadlines for securing a deal on its finances slipped away, disagreements between the two sides on budget targets persisted ... Greece must make four payments totaling almost 1.6 billion euros ($1.78 billion) to the International Monetary Fund this month and its bailout package backed by the euro region expires at the end of June.

While Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wrote in French newspaper Le Monde that any intransigence wasn't the fault of his four-month-old administration, a senior German lawmaker said it was down to Greece to adhere to reforms agreed to before Tsipras took power. An international official who asked not to be identified said creditors were discussing a deal to be presented to Greece as a way of ending the impasse.

DRIVING THE WEEK – TPA moves to the House with the measure right not well short of a majority ... . President Obama today welcomes King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands to the White House for a meeting ... In the afternoon, Obama hosts a discussion with Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative fellows ...

Brookings hosts its QE event at 9:30 a.m. ... Senate Banking has a hearing Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. on the Ex-Im bank ... The ABA has news conference at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to present economic forecast and monetary policy predictions ... House Financial Services has a flood insurance hearing at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday ... Senate Banking holds a another Ex-Im hearing at 10:00 a.m. Thursday ... Personal Income and spending Monday at 8:30 a.m. expected to rise 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively ... ISM Manufacturing Survey at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise to 52.0 from 51.5 ... ADP Employment at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday expected to show a gain of 198K ... . ... May jobs report at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to rise 225K with no change to the 5.4 percent unemployment rate.

Next week: Words of the month and Summer Reading.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Tucson, AZ
June 1, 2015


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