Hotel sells cultural icon


Scumbag carpetbagger owners of the Palace Hotel remove a painting that was painted for the hotel by Maxfield Parrish and had been hanging in a famous bar there since 1909. They are putting the painting up for auction because “it is no longer practical for the hotel to display, an original work of this value and cultural significance, in a public area.” I guess they’ve never visited hotels in Las Vegas. This hotel is always full, so money isn’t a problem. How much do you want to bet that the CEO and a few others will receive year-end bonuses in the amount that match the the sale price of this beautiful painting?

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/articleComments/Palace-Hotel-removes-cultural-treasure-4377716.php?gta=commentform#commentform

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The week in hate and idiocy


It has been a busy week in the news. Here is my response to many things that have been said and done:

  • To anyone Asian, I apologize for the dickheads at ESPN for their racist “Chink in the Armor” headline about basketball star Jeremy Lin.
  • To anyone black, I apologize for the ‘stay away from the crack pipe’ comment on Fox News about Representative Maxine Waters.
  • To women, I apologize for the Republican party, the Mormon Church and the Vatican for thinking that you are not mature enough to make your own choices about birth control.
  • To anyone gay or lesbian, I apologize for the continued attack by Republicans, “Christians”, Mormons and Catholics for their constant demonization and their funneling of money into anti-gay causes.
  • To Latinos, I apologize for the racist, “hard on illegals” Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who threatened his secret gay lover with deportation, because the sheriff thought that he was illegal (Latino = illegal in some parts of Arizona)
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Prices raised on Whitney’s CD within 30 minutes of news of her death


The price on Whitney’s greatest hits CD was raised 60% within 30 minutes of the news of Whitney’s death, leaving many of us shaking our heads in disgust.

The current model for the ‘music industry’ is based, in part, upon 20th century unethical practices. It’s time for a new model. It’s no wonder that there is so much illegal copying of music. The music industry needs to purge the nearly-criminal and certainly unethical bosses from its ranks.

http://blog.sfgate.com/hottopics/2012/02/13/record-company-hikes-whitney-houston-music-price-briefly/

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Athens burns: New policy to protect creditors looked good on paper…


The Greek Parliament just voted in new austerity measures.  Apparently,  mandating cutbacks for people who are already dirt poor, all the while not arresting or even asking for sacrifices from those who caused and  profited (and continue to profit) from the global economic melt-down is not going over well.  If I were a member of the Greek Parliament, I’d quit the euro and use Iceland’s approach to handling debt.  But that’s just me.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/world/europe/greeks-pessimistic-in-anti-austerity-protests.html#commentsContainer

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Violence in Barcelona?


You may have seen the AP story by Emilio Morenatti with this headline:  “Barcelona soccer celebrations turn violent; 18 hospitalized, more than 80 arrested”

(AP story can be seen here)

This “violence” happened in Barcelona after their home-town soccer team Fútbol Club Barcelona beat Manchester United at Wembly in the Champions League.    But the article is a good example of poor reporting, as the background for this ‘violence’ is not mentioned.

The context for this “violence” is that since May 15th, there have been peaceful demonstrations and ‘sit-ins’ in many cities in Spain, including on the main plaza in Barcelona.   But on Friday, May 27th, the Mossos (State police of Catalunya) violently attacked the demonstrators, using police batons, rubber bullets, and other means, in order to clear the plaza because they said that the plaza had to be cleared for the after game celebrations if Barcelona were to win the Champions League.   But they went beyond ‘cleaning’ the plaza, beating up people, confiscating telephones, camera and computers.

The news media reported this and had live feed on TV, showing the beatings and people were outraged.  Thousands of people left their jobs and homes to go to the plaza and it was filled with people once again.  The police, being overwhelmed by so many people, left.

People all over Spain were angered by the images of the police beatings.  A photo of them beating a man in a wheelchair really provoked many people.

It was so bad that the people in Madrid, historically enemies with Barcelona in sports and other activities, were sending tweets supporting those in Barcelona.  What God could never unite, became united in moral outrage over police brutality.

Last night when the soccer fans showed up, the majority supported the protesters and signed petitions condemning the police.

As in the US and other places, after any ‘win’ by any team in a major sporting event, there are always a few who resort to vandalism (a word that in my mind is not equal to ‘violence’).

What was different last night is that people were still angry at the police and frankly, the police were abusive and underhanded.  So when they decided to ‘infiltrate’ the crowd, it doesn’t take an advanced degree to figure out that they were there to cause problems and that somebody was going to get hurt.

Why are there protests?  These protests started just before the election because the two main parties in Spain (PP on the right and PSOE on the left) do not represent the interests of the people in Spain.   Sound familiar?

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When government behaves like business


BART’s General Manager quits with $1 million severance

Embattled BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger, whose job has been endangered since a vote to fire her in February, resigned on Wednesday after reaching a severance deal worth nearly $1 million. . .

. . .The BART Board of Directors will consider today whether to accept her resignation and ratify the $958,000 settlement, which was negotiated by a committee of directors. The board is also expected to hire an interim general manager and start a search for a new leader for the regional rail transit agency. . .

. . .Director Joel Keller, who voted against firing Dugger in February, said he supported the deal. He said the district needs to be fair to the general manager and needs to move quickly to hire a replacement. . .

. . .Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said it is not uncommon to see big-dollar settlements for government executives who are dismissed.  “It’s similar to what happens in private industry – the golden parachute,” he said. “We’re seeing more of it in government, usually to avoid lawsuits”. . .

Read more at SFGate:

While dollar-wise, this is hardly in the same league as corporate greed, it is emblematic of an attitude that the people in these positions are so valuable that we have to pay criminally high salaries and benefits to keep them.  Because, you know, the job market is so hot – they can just go anywhere and live high on the hog.

Yes, this is disgusting and it needs to stop.  But it is even more disgusting that the supporters of unregulated capitalism focus upon examples such as this, claiming it is ‘government out of control’ even though in the ‘business world’ the daily multi-million dollar theft of funds and public trust that takes place and a well-paid-for, government-sanctioned pace.

Mark Twain was right – we do have the best government that money can buy.

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Ruin a business and ask for millions in bonuses


While out shopping last Saturday, I saw many of these signs, and I felt bad that yet another bookstore is closing. But then, I started doing some research about Borders for a project I’m working on and I found this article in the Wall Street Journal:

Borders Seeks to Pay $8.3 Million in Bonuses

Book retailer Borders Group Inc., which is shuttering hundreds of stores in a bid to stay alive, is seeking bankruptcy court approval to hand out as much as $8.3 million in executive bonuses, including nearly $1.7 million to President Mike Edwards. . .

. . .For Borders’ five highest-level executives, the bonuses would mean extra pay of between 90% and 150% of their base salaries, depending on how quickly the company exits bankruptcy or is sold as a going concern.

This is yet another example of executive greed.  When does it stop?   How many employees will be out of jobs at Borders because the very well paid executives continue to see the business as nothing more than their personal slush fund?

According to the WSJ article, the bonuses are “necessary”  to retain these executives – most who have been with Borders for less than 18 months – in order to have a smooth transition out of bankruptcy.  Because, you know, if they don’t get their million-dollar bonuses, they’re going to jump ship as it is a very hot job market, right?

I have an idea.  Any time an executive recklessly ruins a business, causing employees to lose their jobs, etc., how about we throw them in jail?  Let’s use this proposal as a starting point for “bonus negotiations” the next time these greedy bastards forget why they are being paid in the first place.

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GE makes $14.2 billion profit/pays NO taxes


And yet, it is school teacher’s pensions that are bringing down the country, right?

From the New York Times:

“…Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=ge%20taxes&st=Search

And GE’s executives benefit from the Bush-era ‘tax cuts for the rich’ that were renewed under Obama.   This is the fleecing of the middle class and people living in poverty by the ultra-wealthy.

Ready for a change?

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Wells Fargo CEO needs your money


from SFGate:

Wells CEO criticizes limits on debit-card fees

Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf said limits on fees charged to merchants for debit card transactions “make no sense” and distort free-market economics.

“What’s next?” Stumpf, 57, wrote in his annual letter to shareholders of the San Francisco bank. “Will the government require car dealers to sell a new vehicle for $5,000 or grocers a gallon of milk for 50 cents?”

…”Banks should be fairly compensated for the value that debit cards create for merchants and their customers by reducing fraud risk and the cost of carrying cash or handling checks,” Stumpf wrote. “An 80 percent cut in this fee wouldn’t even enable us to cover the cost of providing the service.”

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I have a question: Why are the CEOs of banks and Wall Street brokerages still not in jail? They were the primary ‘movers and shakers’ that sank our economy and the economies of several other countries.

Mr. Stumpf is a vile human being. Demanding to gouge people in the worst economy – that he helped cause – is pure greed.   Oh and speaking to his argument that the fees don’t cover the cost, given that the average fee was over 1%, is he saying that a $5,000 debit-card transaction actually did cost the bank more than $50?  If so, Wells need to consider getting out of the banking industry.

And this from the man who made $19 million last year.

If revolution comes to the US, it will be because of the obscene distribution of wealth.  We now live in a country where the top 400 wealthiest individuals have more wealth than the ‘bottom’ 50% of Americans combined.  And yet, the tax breaks for the wealthy continue.

And Mr. Stumpf has made it clear that he thinks that the bottom 50% have too much.

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