June 23, 2011 archive

The Nation’s Most Ambitious Energy Efficiency Program

It is not easy finding good news or working government information anymore. So seeing “New York can now claim the nation’s most ambitious energy efficiency program” in a letter from the Working Families Party was thrilling!

Below the fold, check out “Green Jobs/Green New York.” Check out a little bit of progress.

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Due to playing in the mud (don’t ask, trust me it’s messy), the Evening Edition this week will be an Abbreviated Evening Edition by c’est moi.

Our regular featured content-

This featured article-

The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is an Open Thread

Brit Inquiry: Veterans and One Result of Wars

And for my own long held thoughts on, Especially as related to Wars of Choice!

Not adding anything, no need, been saying for over a decade now and most folks just move on, “what on reality tv tonight”, without a thought unless something comes up about, like a speech about by the President, complain about and then wonder about things like “what’s that grifter from Alaska up to today”, hint: wanna know visit huff post.

The (new) Broadway Stage Revival of West Side Story; My Take on it:

The Broadway stage revival of West Side Story that my sister in law, my niece and I saw this afternoon was enjoyable, but, being a devout fan of the film version of WSS who’s also seen several really good stage productions of West Side Story prior to seeing this one, there were some stuff that bothered me about this particular revival of West Side Story:

A)  The finger-snapping and the Jet gang whistles, which, imho, were a rather vital part of the story in the stage production and the film version, were taken out of this revival of WSS altogether.  It’s a shame, because it’s sort of messing with a classic.

B)  It’s all very well to have the Sharks speaking in Spanish, which is an interesting idea on the face of it, but this, too, is another example of messing with a classic, plus I admittedly felt kind of lost whenever the Spanish dialogue came on.

C)  Having seen a number of other stage productions of West Side Story, I also felt that, while the dancing was good, and some of the voices were good,  I have never seen a production of WSS that sort of screamed at you pretty much the whole time, and that was so overly emoted by the various characters.   Inotherwords, this particular production was somewhat bombastic for my tastes. Moreover,  Tony’s voice sounded very artificial, with very slow, wide vibratos that one could practically skip-rope through (if one gets the drift), plus it sounded really forced in many places.

D)  The basic musical score was retained, and it was interestingly, a somewhat more jazzed up flavor, but it did sound somewhat shrill and tinny in many places.

E)  In both the film version of West Side Story and the several other stage productions of WSS that I’ve seen prior to this particular production, several Jets and Sharks come together to carry Tony’s body off after he’s been shot, providing a hint of and possibility of reconciliation between both sides.  Unfortunately, this production of West Side Story lacked that scene, which was sort of a downer.  

Cellphone Use and Texting in Movie Theatres–Possible Consequences.

This week, I’m going to write about something completely different than what I’ve written about in previous Thursday Open Thoughts Threads here on firefly-dreaming, but it’s something that affects pretty much every moviegoer (myself included) who’d much rather view movies on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low, among other people, whether one knows them or not;  cellphone use and texting.  This is a practice that, whether or not the offender’s cellphone is on “silent” or vibration, is offensive and distracting to other nearby movie theatre goers, because the light on the cellphone, although it’s quite small, is also quite bright, and somewhat blinding and distracting.  

Although this problem is especially acute in the great big multiplex  cinemas that dot the highways and byways of the United States, it seems to be considerably less of a problem in the movie theatres that show better-quality movies.  This is not to say that people don’t ever text or use their cellphones in these particular movie theatres, but, from my own personal experience with texters/cellphone users in such theatres,  just politely and matter-of-factly asking the offending person to please stop is enough to produce results.  Yet, I’ve also read/heard of other, nastier results in the multiplex, antiseptic-looking cinemas that show junkier movies, where parents either drop their kids off when they can’t find a sitter, or want to get the kids our of their hair for awhile, or where people, including the offenders just simply don’t care.  One woman I read/heard about who attended a movie in one of these multiplex theatres and asked a person to stop texting and using their cellphone not only got a huge bucket of popcorn dumped on her head, but also woke up in a hospital emergency room!  Another person I read about was actually shot in a movie theatre for speaking up against an offending cellphone user/ texting individual.  As it turned out, however, both of the people involved in this particular altercation knew each other, and had an ongoing vendetta between them.

Afghanistan Withdrawal: Not Fast Enough (Up Date)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Up Date: The President’s speech with a link to the transcript is below. As expected, not big enough or fast enough nor will all the troops ever be withdrawn.

Only 10,000 troops from the last surge of 33,000 are to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012 the end of next summer. Seriously, another 18 15 months. There are 100,000 service men and women serving in Afghanistan alone. Leaving the money aside, what about the them? How many more killed, maimed and psychologically scarred? For what? A war that is not winnable where the US is doing more harm than good and is not wanted. I haven’t even mentioned the cost and suffering of Afghan civilians.

No, Mr. Obama, this is not good enough.

Cost of Wars a Rising Issue as Obama Weighs Troop Levels

WASHINGTON – President Obama will talk about troop numbers in Afghanistan when he makes a prime-time speech from the White House on Wednesday night. But behind his words will be an acute awareness of what $1.3 trillion in spending on two wars in the past decade has meant at home: a ballooning budget deficit and a soaring national debt at a time when the economy is still struggling to get back on its feet.

I’m not alone in my anger and frustration with the president’s policy. Since last year the vast majority of Americans are opposed to the war in Afghanistan. That number is now two thirds, two of every three Americans.

A new poll from the Washington Post shows American have turned decisively against our military engagement in Afghanistan. Nearly two-thirds oppose the war, and even larger percentage believes in a considerable withdrawal from the region

US Mayors meeting last week in San Francisco called for the president to “bring the war dollars home” and invest in America.

That resolution will now become official policy of the mayors’ organization — a small symbol of growing opposition to the war in Afghanistan. The mayors are asking that money spent on wars abroad be used in the United States to develop cities and towns. The last time the conference approved a resolution like this was during the Vietnam War.

Nor will there be any discussion about the 865 foreign bases that the US has scattered around the world that eat up precious tax dollars:

President Obama may claim he’s got to go slow in drawing down U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan but what’s his excuse for keeping open 268 U.S. bases in Germany? Is he expecting an attack by the Red Army? There are folks living well on those 268 bases at public expense as well as the military contractors supplying them.

No other nation begins to operate even a tiny fraction of the 865-plus bases the Pentagon runs overseas to, depending on your viewpoint, (a) protect America from dangerous potential enemies who are lurking everywhere, or (b) to dominate the rest of the world. And since 95% of all overseas bases located in somebody else’s country are operated by the USA, millions of people suspect (b) is the answer; indeed, foreigners fear Uncle Sam might subjugate them.

Democrats in congress are getting impatient as well

On Tuesday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of the most conservative Democrats in the chamber, sent Obama a letter urging a change of course in the war and an acceleration of the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

“After 10 years and $443 billion, I believe it is time [to] focus our resources on rebuilding America, not on rebuilding Afghanistan,” he wrote. “It is time for the Afghan people to decide their destiny and take responsibility for governing themselves. … It is my hope that by redefining the mission in Afghanistan away from nation-building, you will pursue significant troop reductions immediately and end the scope of our current mission well before the 2014 deadline.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) is calling for a minimum withdrawal of 15,000 troops:

“In my judgment, a minimum of 15,000 reduction in troops would be needed for this to be a significant reduction, and since the president has committed himself a few months ago to a significant reduction, I think that’s what will happen,” Levin told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

When asked how he came up with that number, Levin replied, “It’s based on what would it take to let the Afghans know the significance of the importance of shifting the responsibility — the principal responsibility to them for the security of their own country.”

Americans and Afghans will be paying dearly for years even after the last service person is gone from both Afghanistan and Iraq. This cannot happen fast enough for all our sakes.

Up Date: Obama spoke tonight about the troop withdrawal. 10,000 troops will leave by the end of this year. By the end summer in 2012, the other 23,000 will have left. By 2014, all combat troops will have departed but a residual force of about 25,000 will remain, forever and ever. The rest was pure political rhetoric. You can read the transcript to spare yourself the vision of another lie.  

Six In The Morning

Afghanistan: France follows US in troop withdrawal

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced the phased withdrawal of its 4,000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

The BBC   23 June 2011

A statement said the French would follow the timetable of US withdrawals announced by President Barack Obama.

Mr Obama said 10,000 US troops would pull out this year, with another 23,000 leaving by the end of September 2012.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed the move, but the Taliban dismissed it as “symbolic” and vowed to continue fighting until all foreign forces left.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

Our mission will change from combat to support”

President Obama

As it happened: Speech reaction

At least 68,000 US troops will remain in the country after the 33,000 have been withdrawn, but they are scheduled to leave by 2013, provided that Afghan forces are ready to take over security.

+Thursday’s Headlines:

Net neutrality enshrined in Dutch law

Dissident artist bailed after ‘confessing his crimes’

Journey Through a Divided Syria

Sudan army arrests six UN staff

Political party of youth splits from Egypt’s Brotherhood

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

If I speak of myself in different ways, that is because I look at myself in different ways.

–Michel de Montaigne


Late Night Karaoke

But We Can’t Raise Their Taxes

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

While CEO’s are rolling in more money than any average workers could imagine in a lifetime, raising their taxes and closing the tax loop holes that allow then to pay even less or, in some instances, nothing at all. According to a USA Today analysis, CEO’s pay went up 27% in 2010 while workers’ pay rose only 2%.

Paychecks as Big as Tajikistan

By Gretchen Morgenson

WHEN does big become excessive? If the question involves executive pay, the answer is “often.”


Answers to that question come fast and furious in a recent, immensely detailed report in The Analyst’s Accounting Observer, a publication of R. G. Associates, an independent research firm in Baltimore. Jack Ciesielski, the firm’s president, and his colleague Melissa Herboldsheimer have examined proxy statements and financial filings for the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. In a report titled “S.& P. 500 Executive Pay: Bigger Than …Whatever You Think It Is,” they compare senior executives’ pay with other corporate costs and measures.

It’s an enlightening, if enraging, exercise. And it provides the perspective that shareholders desperately need, particularly now that they are being asked to vote on corporate pay practices.

Let’s begin with the view from 30,000 feet. Total executive pay increased by 13.9 percent in 2010 among the 483 companies where data was available for the analysis. The total pay for those companies’ 2,591 named executives, before taxes, was $14.3 billion.

That’s some pile of pay, right? But Mr. Ciesielski puts it into perspective by noting that the total is almost equal to the gross domestic product of Tajikistan, which has a population of more than 7 million.

Warming to his subject, Mr. Ciesielski also determined that 158 companies paid more in cash compensation to their top guys and gals last year than they paid in audit fees to their accounting firms. Thirty-two companies paid their top executives more in 2010 than they paid in cash income taxes.

The report also blows a hole in the argument that stock grants to executives align the interests of managers with those of shareholders. The report calculated that at 179 companies in the study, the average value of stockholders’ stakes fell between 2008 and 2010 while the top executives at those companies received raises. The report really gets meaty when it compares executive pay with items like research and development costs, and earnings per share.

Using Disney CEO, Robert Iger and workers at Disney World in Florida as an example, Time looks at the ever widening income gap:

Disney’s Robert Iger got a 45% bigger bonus in 2010

The corporate PR teams are defending these bonuses by saying that the executives deserve the pay because stock prices and earnings are up. A Walt Disney spokesperson says that shareholder return at the company was up nearly 24%, substantially more than the Standard & Poors 500. But haven’t we already learned, through bubble after bubble, that stock prices are a poor indication of anything. They are irrational, give us false positives, and crash.

But here’s what is the real problem. Yes, if higher profits and a higher stock price warrant better pay for CEOs, why doesn’t the same ring true for the average employee. Workers at Disney’s Florida amusement park Walt Disney World fought for months last year and early this year for higher wages. What they finally ended up getting, in a new contract settled earlier this month, was an annual raise of 3% to 4% over the next three years. The workers will get a bonus, too, of $650, a mere 20,769 times less than Iger’s bonus. As long as it remains that only a small segment of our population will be rewarded for better performance, while the rest of us do more and more work for the same pay, the wealth gap in America is certain to get worse.

It is very evident that the White House, Congress and many state governors and legislatures have not learned that tax cuts for the wealthy will not improve the economy or create jobs. They have done nothing to reverse the trend of the widening income gap. They have dug themselves and us into a hole so deep that they cannot hear rational ideas for even stopping the spiral into a economic morass.

My Little Town 20110622: Forgotten Brands

Those of you who read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I rarely write about living people except with their express permission, but this installment is more about THINGS, particularly brands of things, that have essentially disappeared now.  Many of them were foods, but some were non food items.

I was raised eating mostly from scratch, home cooked food that Ma, my mum, or my dad (he was very good at a few things) cooked.  I have introduced you to Ma before, here, and as soon as I introduce you to my mum I shall use a more personal term for her in future.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

If you do not get Current TV you can watch Keith here:

Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv

If you can’t watch here Timbuk3 has supplied a link to DU