Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tonight's Starting Line-Up

I submitted mine on Sunday. Hope my players do well tonight.

"DraftKings, FanDuel team up to defend integrity of games; Inside-information leak riles contestants" by Callum Borchers Globe Staff  October 06, 2015

The fantasy sports rivals DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. scrambled to defend the integrity of their big-money contests Monday, following a leak of inside information that raises questions about whether some of their employees have an unfair advantage when playing.


A DraftKings worker, Ethan Haskell, acknowledged last week in a comment thread on a fantasy news site, RotoGrinders, that he had released proprietary statistics too early — before all NFL games kicked off on Sept. 27.

The stats, posted online, showed the rates at which real players had been selected in DraftKings’ “Millionaire Maker” fantasy contest for the third week of the NFL season and could have given late entrants, or those making last-minute changes, an edge over competitors who had submitted rosters.

More troubling to fantasy contestants who vented their anger on online message boards, the leak suggested employees like Haskell might regularly use such information to put in their own entries and rack up winnings.

What, they don't like the rigged game of insider trading? Not enough fun?

While Boston-based DraftKings and New York-based FanDuel do not allow employees to play on the sites for which they work, it is common practice for workers to enter contests held by competitors.

In fact, on the same day that he posted stats too early, Haskell finished second in a FanDuel contest that had almost 23,000 entrants. He won $350,000.

Related: DraftKings employees reportedly won nearly $6 million playing daily fantasy sports at rival FanDuel

The ensuing online furor and media inquiries prompted the rivals to issue a joint statement in which they assured users that “nothing is more important to DraftKings and FanDuel than the integrity of the games we offer to our customers. Both companies have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data to only those employees who require it to do their jobs. Employees with access to this data are rigorously monitored by internal fraud control teams, and we have no evidence that anyone has misused it.”


“However, we continue to review our internal controls to ensure they are as strong as they can be,” the statement continued. “We also plan to work with the entire fantasy sports industry on this specific issue so that fans everywhere can continue to enjoy and trust the games they love.”

Yeah, forget about the fix. Pour your money in and play!

The incident comes at a sensitive time for the companies. DraftKings and FanDuel this summer raised $300 million and $275 million, respectively, and are spending heavily on marketing to lure players early in the NFL season.

The companies are valued at $1 billion each, and all that money is coming from the sports leagues and Wall Street investors. 

I predict nothing will come of this. People having too much fun. 

Meanwhile, some lawmakers and regulators have called for review of the companies’ exemptions from gambling prohibitions.

The New York Times reported that both companies have temporarily banned workers from playing on rival websites. A FanDuel spokeswoman did not respond to a Globe inquiry. A DraftKings spokeswoman said in an e-mail that the Times story is “factually inaccurate” but did not allege specific errors or respond to a request for clarification.

A move to block inter-site fantasy gaming would probably be highly unpopular among employees of both companies. Speaking at a conference at Babson College on Sept. 25, DraftKings cofounder Paul Liberman said, “We have some people who make significantly more money off of our competitors’ sites than they do working for DraftKings.”

OMG, this WHOLE THING is a $ELF-$ERVING $WINDLE (aren't all professional sports?).

Liberman went on to explain that allowing workers to play on FanDuel is a key to retaining top talent.

Looking more and more like a looting $cheme with each sentence.

“I was actually talking to my VP of analytics yesterday, and he was like, ‘Well, this guy that’s on our team can only work 9 to 5 during football and hockey season because he spends way too much of his time playing online,’ ” Liberman recounted. “We have to let him do that; otherwise he’s never going to work for us. He adds a lot of value in terms of understanding product, understanding content.”

Qualms about the integrity of fantasy sports present a new challenge for an increasingly scrutinized industry.

The short-term fantasy sports contests run by DraftKings and FanDuel generally require entrants to put down money for a chance to win cash prizes — a system that recently prompted Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts and US Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey to question whether they should be considered illegal online gambling.

I've seen the commercials, and they are my way to wealth and riches! It's easy money (average bet $7, average winnings $23 bucks?)!

DraftKings and FanDuel maintain that in all but a handful of states, their contests are perfectly legal, based on an exemption to the federal Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act, which distinguishes between betting on point spreads and entering fantasy sports contests that “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants.”

In football contests, DraftKings and FanDuel users draft real NFL players for their imaginary teams and score points based on how well those players perform on the field.

FanDuel has been the daily fantasy sports leader for several years running — a fact it touts proudly in commercials — but DraftKings claims to be catching up. At the Babson conference, Liberman said he expected DraftKings to collect more money in entry fees than FanDuel during the third business quarter of the year, adding that DraftKings had asked FanDuel to stop calling itself the “leader.”

FanDuel appeared to reject the request, as its marketing messages were unchanged over the weekend.


I did notice that ESPN covered the issue today, but I also note that many of their employees play and love it. They aren't going to ruin a good thing, and neither is Congre$$ (especially if they get their cut). 

Gotta get dressed for the game:

"City Sports files for bankruptcy, says it will sell itself off or close down" by Jack Newsham Globe Correspondent  October 05, 2015

City Sports Inc., the retailer launched more than 30 years ago in Boston by a pair of high school friends, plans to shut eight of its 26 stores and sell the rest after filing for bankruptcy protection on Monday.

If a buyer cannot be found the chain will be liquidated, acccording to documents submitted to US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

The filing came less than three months after the struggling chain brought in longtime retail executive Marty Hanaka as chief executive to help with a turnaround. City Sports, which is controlled by the Cambridge venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners, said that cost-cutting was not enough to offset a decline in sales caused by competition and bad weather last year.

City Sports was founded by high school buddies and tennis partners Mike Kennedy and Eric Martin on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston in 1983. It has nine stores in the Boston area, according to its website, with others in locations from Vermont to Virginia. It specializes in active wear and equipment for activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and yoga.

The company said it had $45 million in revenue from January 2015 through the day of its bankruptcy filing. It has about 815 employees, according to a declaration submitted to the court by Andrew Almquist, chief financial officer.

Despite cutting back employees’ hours, reducing shipping costs, cutting hours at several locations, and trying to bargain with its landlords for rent reductions, Almquist said the company couldn’t reduce its costs enough. His declaration did not disclose profits or losses.

Almquist told the court that it seeks to close eight stores and sell the remaining 18 by Oct. 30 to any of several buyers that have expressed interest. If no agreement is struck by the end of the month, the company will have Tiger Capital Group LLC liquidate the chain’s inventory in November and early December to “take full advantage of the upcoming holiday shopping season,” Almquist said.

Highland Capital Partners bought an 80 percent stake in the company in 2008 and owned 84 percent of it at the time of filing. When it acquired the chain, Highland said it anticipated expanding to 50 stores by 2013. Tom Stemberg, founder of the Framingham-based office supply chain Staples Inc. and a managing general partner at a Highland affiliate, said at the time that he anticipated the chain could grow to include 300 locations.

Almquist cited an “extremely competitive market” for athletic apparel, especially for products made by Nike, Under Armour, and Asics, as a reason for the company’s drop in business. City Sports stores also tend to be smaller and carry fewer products than big-box stores like those run by Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., which has added more than 120 locations in the past three years, and Sports Authority.

“We are actively seeking financial partners for the purpose of moving the company forward,” Hanaka said in a statement. “This filing gives us the opportunity to continue as a viable going concern.”

Unless it's liquidated. 

What is without the dung-shoveling denial?

Hanaka previously served as chief executive of Sports Authority Inc. and as chief operating officer of Staples.

The company declined to make anyone available for an interview. A City Sports spokeswoman said in a statement that it “[does] not intend to close any stores in the Boston area,” but she would not release a list of stores it plans to close.

Nike USA Inc. holds the largest unsecured claim, with City Sports owing it $1.3 million, according to the filing. Under Armour, Asics, and Patagonia are each owed just over $1 million, court documents show.


Also seePutnam signs sponsorship deal with the Celtics

Kane Case Confusing

Has something to do with a scandal regarding important people:

"Pa. high court suspends attorney general’s law license" by Marc Levy Associated Press  September 22, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s highest court ordered the temporary suspension of state Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s law license on Monday, a step that could trigger efforts to remove her from office as she fights criminal charges.

The unanimous order by the state Supreme Court’s five justices also could prompt a legal challenge from the first-term Democrat. In the meantime, it leaves the state’s top law enforcement official in charge of a 750-employee office and a $93 million budget but without the ability to act as a lawyer.

The state constitution requires the attorney general to be a licensed lawyer, but the court said in the order that its action should not be construed as removing her from office, raising questions about her ability to do the full range of duties associated with the office.

In a statement, Kane said she was disappointed in the court’s action, but grateful that it recognized her rights as an elected official.

Then, Kane called attention to a pornographic e-mail scandal uncovered by her office that involved numerous current and former officials there and claimed the job last year of a state Supreme Court justice.

It's actually worse than that.

Kane said she would continue the work of her office, including rooting out ‘‘the culture of misogyny and racially/religiously offensive behavior that has permeated law enforcement and members of the judiciary in this Commonwealth for years.’’

The office’s spokesman said Kane will continue performing all duties not prohibited by the court’s order, including setting priorities and making administrative decisions.

The first deputy attorney general, Bruce Beemer, a career prosecutor, will probably assume duties she can no longer perform, the spokesman said.

The order comes barely a month after Montgomery County authorities arrested Kane on charges that she leaked investigative information to a newspaper reporter and then lied about it under oath. She was charged with perjury, obstruction, and other counts.

Tell war lies that murder millions? No problem. Same government also turns around and prosecutes whistleblowers. This woman gets the double whammy.

Kane has maintained she did nothing wrong. Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, called on Kane to resign after she was charged Aug. 6.

What compromising stuff do they have of him?

Kane, whose term is up in 2017, will not resign, her spokesman said Monday.

Kane, the first woman to hold the position of Pennsylvania’s top prosecutor, has dismissed the inquiry against her as an unfair backlash over her challenge to what she calls the old-boys’ network in state government.

Old boys network in more than one sick way.


I'm looking at a true hero there, and a good and decent person.

Maybe this will help clear matter up:

"One of Kane’s attackers on PA Supreme Court subject of her e-porn investigation.

Risa Ferman, the pedophile-protecting district attorney of wealthy Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, hit Pennsylvania’s enterprising anti-pedophile Attorney General Kathleen Kane with a second perjury count after Kane vowed to release additional pornographic emails demonstrating the perversion of some of Pennsylvania’s top officials.

Kane also charged that Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin, a Republican, was one of the officials who was involved in the transmittal of pornographic images using the state’s email system. Kane is the first Democratic and female Attorney General of the state. Eakin’s GOP colleague on the court, Seamus McCaffrey, resigned last year after he was identified as one of the senders and receivers of porn mail of a misogynistic and pederast nature.

Kane says the email porn scandal involves judges, U.S. attorneys, attorneys general, district attorneys, and public defenders. In other words, some of Ferman’s district attorney colleagues have been the targets of Kane’s probe, which is an outgrowth of the stymied investigation of convicted pedophile, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and his Second Mile Foundation operation that targeted “troubled teens” for sexual exploitation by high-end donors to the non-profit foundation. Kane’s predecessor as Attorney General and former GOP governor Tom Corbett has been accused of covering up the Sandusky/Second Mile Foundation in order to protect Penn State, its late “sainted” football coach Joe Paterno, and top Republicans who supported Second Mile, including former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), a current contender for the GOP presidential nomination.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently suspended Kane’s law license in an attempt to force her from the Attorney General position.

It is clear why a rather obscure Republican district attorney, Risa Ferman, has been relied upon to bring Kathleen Kane down. The Sandusky/Second Mile Foundation scandal is linked to a wider one of global implications. [Open image in new window to see it in larger format.]



Burkino Faso Coup Confusing

Violence follows coup in Burkina Faso

"This week’s coup has been met with sharp international criticism. US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Washington would “review our foreign assistance to Burkina Faso in light of evolving events.” “We are deeply disappointed that the self-interested actions of a few are threatening the historic opportunity that the people of Burkina Faso have to cast their ballots and build a new future for the country,” Rice said."

That cleared things up.

Protests continue amid Burkina Faso negotiations
Burkino Faso talks continue amid unrest
Burkina Faso coup leader says he will hand back power
Burkina Faso coup leader expected to give up power Wednesday
Burkina Faso’s interim president returns to power, week after coup
Soldiers leave capital, Burkina Faso returns to calm
Authorities freeze coup leaders’ funds
Burkina Faso coup leaders refuse to disarm, citing promise of protection

The coverage was fascinating, but.... good to see 'em back under civilian rule, I guess.

One if by Land....

Just chugging along when:

"Falling rock may have led to Amtrak derailment in Vt." by Travis Andersen and Bryan Marquard Globe Staff  October 05, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — An Amtrak train carrying 98 passengers and four crew members derailed Monday in Vermont after striking rocks that had fallen on the tracks, sending at least seven people to area hospitals, authorities said.

The derailment occurred at about 10:30 a.m. in Northfield, approximately 10 miles south of Montpelier, jolting many passengers into the seats in front of them and forcing some to pry open windows and doors in an effort to escape, officials and witnesses said....


Two if by Sea....

Aircraft search off Bahamas for ship caught in hurricane

Debris spotted as crews search for ship lost off Bahamas

Family, friends wait for word on cargo ship’s fate

For those on shore:

Rescuers struggle to reach trapped S.C. residents

"The floodwaters appeared to be causing more inconvenience than tragedy. Still, there were indications that the threat was easing in some areas."

"As South Carolina reels, flooding shifts toward coastline; At least 12 dead, hundreds rescued; Thousands are without power" by Richard Fausset and Alan Blinder New York Times   October 06, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina is reel[ing] from days of record-breaking rainfalls that left at least 12 people dead.

I can't make out how many lanterns the propaganda pre$$ is holding.

“We are still very much in response mode,” Governor Nikki R. Haley said at a news conference near this partly flooded capital, adding that the authorities were shifting into “assessment mode and recovery mode” north of Columbia.

It offensive and ridiculous, but some times I wonder if a higher power isn't sending a message. This is where the Roof was blown of a church with a shooting psyop, remember? Or maybe it is the national government and the endless war lies. Maybe the Good Lord on high is noting such things.  

Maybe it is weather manipulation. Maybe it is climate change, whatever. Maybe it's Mother Nature. Whatever it is, it's not a pleasant experience for the people living there.


More than 500 roads and bridges were shut down Monday, including more than 70 miles of Interstate 95.

Now that is going to have an economic effect.

Some local governments, including Columbia’s, planned overnight curfews, and thousands of residents did not have electricity.

About 1,300 members of the South Carolina National Guard were deployed throughout the state, and Haley said 7,000 more soldiers were on alert....

Hurricane Joaquin missed the East Coast but fueled what specialists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called a ‘‘fire hose’’ of tropical moisture that aimed directly at the state.

One of latest to die was McArthur Woods, 56, who police said drowned Sunday night after driving around a barricade, the AP reported. His passenger managed to climb on top of the sedan, which stalled in the rushing water. A firefighter rescued her after someone heard her screams.

The 16.6 inches of rain that fell at Gills Creek near downtown Columbia on Sunday represented one of the rainiest days ever recorded at a US weather station, the National Weather Service said.

Sunday was the wettest day in the history of Columbia.

At St. Andrews Middle School, dozens of military-style cots were arranged in the cafeteria, where students ordinarily gaze upon a mural with a placid lake scene. But on Monday, the school was closed and evacuees sat in a mostly quiet room.

Some gathered near one of the room’s entrances to watch Haley speak on television, while others kept their distance, quietly eating sandwiches and potato chips.

Elsie Sumpter, 81, said she had lived here for more than 40 years, said she had never before had to evacuate her northeast Columbia home.

Elsewhere in Columbia, the city was quiet. Downtown was mostly empty, and even along the busiest streets, such as Assembly and Main, there were few cars and pedestrians. In many spots, flattened leaves papered over the wet pavement.

The University of South Carolina said classes would not resume until at least Wednesday. The campus was among the places in Columbia where water service was disrupted, and the university said portable restrooms had been set up at the student union, residence halls, and in the Greek Village, which includes fraternity and sorority houses.

The state’s troubles stemmed from an unrelenting storm system, fed partly by moisture from Hurricane Joaquin, that pounded the state for days, shattering rainfall records in many cities.

More rain fell Monday, although it was expected to taper off by Tuesday morning....

That's what they said yesterday.


Remember the last big storm and who was in charge there?

RelatedBoat arrested as part of lawsuit

Then it will have to be Three by Air....

Heart attack eyed as cause of pilot’s death on Boston-bound flight

Monday’s episode was an exceedingly rare occurrence that nonetheless requires safety protocols that ensure crews are able to compensate for an incapacitated pilot.

Just wondering if they did a health check on the guy before taking off (do you think they are telling us the truth about that?).

Orange is the New Green

Starts with a black psyop:

"Man in custody after alleged threat on Orange Line train" by John R. Ellement Globe Staff  September 16, 2015

Transit Police arrested a man clad in black clothing who allegedly threatened to blow up an Orange Line train while wearing a Guy Fawkes “Anonymous” mask during the morning rush hour Wednesday, officials said. 

Yeah, thanks for the "help." With "allies" like them..... so what government agency was this agent provocateur drawing salary?

Lieutenant Detective Richard Sullivan, a Transit Police spokesman, said, “He was making threats, and people were very uncomfortable. He made references to blowing up the train.’’

Transit Police received several 911 calls about 9 a.m. Wednesday and officers greeted the train when it arrived at Back Bay station, Sullivan said.

But the man could not be located, and Sullivan said investigators later learned from the MBTA surveillance system that he had gotten off the train at the Tufts station.

Transit Police officers found the man still at the Tufts station around 11 a.m. and arrested him.

He was identified as Joseph Johnson, 30, of Boston, and he is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Boston Municipal Court on one count of making a false bomb threat, Transit Police said.

Joe Johnson? How generic. 

Where is his next assignment and under what name?

In a statement, Sullivan said Johnson’s arrest was designed to send a message.


“Our number one priority is the safety and security of our patrons and employees,’’ he said.

“A clear message must be sent; behavior and statements such as exhibited by Johnson will not and cannot be tolerated on the MBTA.’’


Stay off the T no matter what!


Sullivan said no bomb or bomb-making equipment was found by investigators.

So what was this, another training drill?

“At no time were our patrons and employees in danger from Johnson’s alleged threat,’’ he said in the statement.

“We apologize to anyone who may have been inconvenienced by this morning’s incident.’’


Train getting started again and I missed it:

"Weld, Dukakis to press Baker on North, South Station link" by David Scharfenberg Globe Staff  September 09, 2015

The meeting said something about the access afforded former chief executives on Beacon Hill. But the aftermath said something about the limits of their influence.

“My focus is to fix the T,” Governor Charlie Baker said, using shorthand for the MBTA subway and bus system that failed last winter amid historic storms.

Former governors Michael Dukakis and William Weld have taken full advantage of a summer lull in the local news cycle to draw renewed attention to a decades-old push for what is known as the North-South Rail Link.

They wrote a joint opinion article in the Globe in mid-August. And they’ve played the political odd couple in the press — one a Democrat, the other a Republican, one a policy wonk, the other a glad-hander.


The trouble, critics say, is that the project is pricey and cannot be a top priority for a public transit system in disrepair.

“It’s not a bad idea,” said James Aloisi, a former transportation official in the Dukakis administration. “The question is: Is it the right idea for the moment?”

He'll take you for a ride.

Dukakis, speaking to reporters after the meeting Wednesday, rejected that argument. North and South Stations are congested, he said, and the state must address the problem one way or another.

“There’s not an option not to build,” he said. “This has got to be dealt with.”

It was part of a detailed, 23-minute defense of the proposal delivered just outside the governor’s office.

Dukakis, dressed in a blue-checked dress shirt and khaki pants, spoke of federal loan programs that could help finance the effort, similar projects in Los Angeles and London, and a trip to Philadelphia with his wife.

He also criticized a competing proposal, the expansion of South Station, which he called a temporary, inferior fix.

But Baker, asked earlier if he saw the rail link as a viable alternative to a South Station expansion, left little doubt about where he stands.

“Not from my point of view,” he said. “Certainly from Governor Dukakis’ point of view, it would be. But not from mine.”


RelatedProcess blamed for Green Line project’s soaring cost

Also see: Red Light on Green Line

"Green Line extension supporters urge state not to drop project" by Nicole Dungca Globe Staff  September 09, 2015

On Wednesday, nearly 30 supporters, including Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, pressed Department of Transportation board members to continue the project, saying that it is critical for local communities and the entire region.

Curtatone said the Boston area is one of the most congested regions in the country, and that affects the local economy.

“We want the Green Line,” he said. “The Green Line must come, and the Green Line will come.”
Winter prep work to disrupt JFK-Quincy Red Line trains

Most weekend train service will be suspended between JFK/UMass Station and Quincy Center Station for the rest of September.

Rafael Mares, a vice president at the Conservation Law Foundation, said he believed the main contractor for the project, White-Skanska-Kiewit, has overestimated the cost. Mares’s organization successfully sued the T to force the agency to complete the Green Line extension.

Mares said he believes the T could put portions of the project out to bid again to save money, even if it means missing some of the deadlines for which the foundation pushed.

“If we cannot find a way to make this project happen,” he said, “what project can we complete in Massachusetts?”

Mares and others said the contracting process used by the T had resulted in the high costs. Under the process, the general contractor names the maximum price for each portion of the project. While the process can speed up a project, critics say it can limit the T’s ability to negotiate a good price.

But Stephanie Pollack, the state’s transportation secretary, said changing the contracting process would not necessarily decrease costs. And transportation board member Joseph Sullivan cautioned against further delay.

“A delay is time, and time is money,” he said. “So how do we make a determination that, in fact, trying to reduce the overall figure when we’re delaying the project is going to actually save us some money?”

T staff may redesign or eliminate a maintenance facility and a biking path planned for the project, or design less expensive stations. They could also seek additional money from the state or developers.

The agency will soon have to submit a new financing plan to the federal government, which pledged to pitch in nearly $1 billion for the project.

Frank DePaola, the T’s interim general manager, said the agency is trying to get the contractor to reduce its estimate, and seeking an independent audit to understand how the costs ballooned so dramatically.

The reassessment of the project comes as T officials take on the task of improving the agency’s finances. Governor Charlie Baker successfully lobbied the Legislature for a fiscal control board to oversee the T’s finances and management .

On Wednesday, the agency also laid out its anticipated deficits in the coming years: The MBTA could have a budget shortfall of nearly $427 million through fiscal year 2020 if it continues growing at its current rate, according to the T’s newly appointed chief administrator, Brian Shortsleeve.

Part of the increases will come from the T’s decision to shift the salaries and benefits of about 530 employees funded from its capital budget to its operating budget. That will cost the agency about $52 million in operating expenses during the 2017 fiscal year....

The unspoken killer is the debt interest payments that must be ponied up every month due to the Big Dig.



MBTA fiscal control board report cites ‘deep-seated’ problems

Wor$e than thought.

Computer system, policies contribute to T’s problems

Need more people.

MBTA unveils simpler system for performance statistics

Rigging numbers so they look better; will help avoid crippling fines.

New commuter rail schedules will target delays, MBTA says

They are going backwards!

Must be the downgrade before starting back uphill again.

MBTA tracks down artist who created iconic murals
Dewey Square mural’s meaning is a matter of choice

MIT pushed to address traffic in Kendall Square
MIT student builds real-time MBTA map into wall using LED lights

Winter prep work to disrupt JFK-Quincy Red Line trains
Red Line driver injects humor into his work
Baker reviews MBTA’s plans to prepare for winter

It's going to cost how much?

"MBTA repair bill up to $7.3b and may rise, panel says; Governor Baker not committing funds" by David Scharfenberg Globe Staff  August 31, 2015

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority would need to spend $7.3 billion to get its buses, trains, stations, and other assets in good working order, according to T officials.

The figure marks a substantial increase over a preliminary estimate of $6.7 billion issued in March. And officials said Monday it could grow even higher in the coming months as they refine their understanding of the scope of the problem.

The poor condition of the system’s trains and third rails is considered a significant driver of the MBTA’s breakdowns this past winter.

But Steve Poftak, a member of the fiscal and management control board that oversees the agency, said addressing the daunting backlog of repairs and upgrades is about more than preparing for snow and ice. It is the bedrock concern, he suggested, for an agency that needs to improve in all seasons.

“To me,” he said, “it’s the foundation of providing the MBTA service that riders deserve.”

A spokesman for Governor Charlie Baker, who has made overhauling the transit agency a centerpiece of his first year in office, praised the board for the thoroughness of its work but did not commit to more money for MBTA.

“The administration can now appropriately determine the best way forward in regards to funding while the financial health of the T is reformed,” Billy Pitman said.

The debate over fixing MBTA infrastructure has been a flashpoint in the discussion of what ails the nation’s fifth-largest public transit system.

Most observers agree the state has to do a better job of repairing and upgrading the T’s existing trains and switches. But Baker, who took office in January, argues that the T has been distracted from that core mission in recent decades by an unaffordable zeal for expansion.

Public transit advocates counter that the T has to continue expanding in order to foster economic growth in the region. The fundamental problem, they argue, is a historic lack of investment that has compounded the maintenance problems.

“This is the chickens coming home to roost,” said Rafael Mares, senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation.

The twin concerns, maintenance and expansion, were on full display Monday afternoon at a meeting of the fiscal control board, created to right the T after the agency’s winter crisis.

The panel reviewed the latest figures on the maintenance backlog. But it also took a first step toward hiring an outside consultant to examine how the estimated cost of a Green Line extension into Somerville and Medford exploded by $700 million to $1 billion.

Board members said getting to the bottom of the ballooning estimates, announced last week, is vital to restoring confidence in the T’s contracting procedures. And they suggested it would be politically difficult for the agency to proceed with the Green Line project without a review.

“I don’t think, at least for the public, that we can justify any decision going forward without giving them a full explanation of how we got here in the first place,” said board member Monica Tibbits-Nutt.

Board members suggested the review look at whether the T properly vetted a new contracting procedure, which some blame for the runaway costs. And the report, they said, should examine the agency’s broader management of the extension.

Joseph Aiello, chairman of the board, said the study should even contemplate bringing in an outside entity to oversee the Green Line expansion. “I’d like to get some radical thinking in there,” he said.


The true cost of getting the T’s equipment in a “state of good repair,” though, is almost certainly greater.

State Representative William M. Straus, a Mattapoisett Democrat who is co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation, “Then it does become a safety issue and a service issue, and as we learned this winter, that’s just intolerable.”


About as radical as it is going to get:

"Pollack finds self on other side in Green Line extension debate" by Stephanie Ebbert Globe Staff  August 31, 2015

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, a longtime transit advocate who for years had pressured officials to uphold their commitments to such transit improvements, holds what may often be one of the least enviable positions in Massachusetts government. An environmental advocate enlisted by a Republican governor with an aversion to tax increases, she assumed oversight of the state's transportation network in January as a relentless series of winter storms crippled the region's roads and rails and exposed systemic problems that had been years in the making.

Yet it is often said that no Cabinet member had a better sense of what she was getting into. A longtime leader of the Conservation Law Foundation, New England’s premier environmental advocacy organization, she wielded broad influence over city and state government, helping to shape not just transportation policy but also public access to the South Boston waterfront.

While working as a private sector consultant in recent years, she taught and led research efforts at the Northeastern University Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, presenting her own analyses of the state’s dwindling transportation finances and offering comparisons to those of other cities and states.

Pollack, 55, of Newton, is one of those rare figures on Beacon Hill who command respect from people on both sides of the aisle and from various corners of government. Mention her name and even wizened players admit to admiration without reserve.

“I’m a huge fan of Stephanie’s,” said Stephen J. Silveira, a Republican lobbyist who led an earlier study of the state’s transportation finances. “She is one of the smartest people I know and when it comes to transportation, she’s one of the most erudite people I know. I’m pretty good on the forest. She knows the leaves.”

A double-major MIT graduate (mechanical engineering and public policy) who then graduated from Harvard Law School, Pollack acknowledges an obsession with details; she scrutinizes the bids her agency is receiving every week.

Her wonkish style complements that of Governor Charlie Baker — once the state’s budget chief. But conservatives greeted Pollack’s appointment warily, viewing her more as an advocate than an expert. Charles Chieppo, a senior fellow at the conservative Pioneer Institute, said he “threw up in my mouth a little bit when I heard that announcement.”

Her name was inextricably linked with the Conservation Law Foundation, the hardball environmental group that had pressed the state to commit to MBTA improvements, including the Green Line extension, in 1990, at the tail end of the Dukakis administration. The commitments averted a lawsuit by the foundation and were enshrined in the state’s plans for compliance with the federal Clean Air Act, but attracted resentment for their lack of funding and unknown price tag. Chieppo calls the deal “the single worst state transportation decision of the latter half of the 20th century.”


A cynic might say that is because Pollack has worked so seamlessly within the Baker administration, without challenging the Republican dogma or agitating for the additional revenues that even the governor has acknowledged will be necessary. Pollack betrays no glimmer of disloyalty to the administration — even behind the scenes, said Rafael Mares, a senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation.

“She’s doing her job the way she’s supposed to be doing it — in clear coordination and in lockstep with the governor,” Mares said.

Twelve years before she joined a Republican administration, her predecessor at the Conservation Law Foundation, longtime president Douglas I. Foy, went to work for Governor Mitt Romney. An iconic figure with a towering reputation, Foy was largely sidelined by Romney, who began taking more conservative views as he edged toward his first campaign for president.

Pollack resisted comparisons to Foy, and many following news of the Green Line extension — an on-again, off-again plan that had already begun and that has been driving development plans and influencing property values along the Somerville route — expect that the plan will move forward in some, less costly fashion. Still, Pollack insists the cancellation of the project cannot be ruled out....


Another red light inside the tunnel.

Yeah, the car took forever to arrive -- as if it had come from China or something.

Better off taking the bus:

"Woman apologizes for scuffling with T officer on bus" by John R. Ellement Globe Staff  September 21, 2015

A Somerville woman Monday apologized for her actions on an MBTA bus during a volatile confrontation with a Transit Police officer, but she insisted the officer lost control of himself and should not have used chemical spray, a baton, or deployed his firearm against her.

The incident between Shelisa E. Bittle and the Officer Herby Jean took place on an MBTA bus at the Dudley Square station last Friday and was recorded by several passengers, one of whom posted his version on YouTube.

Bittle pleaded not guilty in Roxbury Municipal Court Monday to five charges, including assault and battery on a police officer and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Bittle, 26, is now being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and staff attorney, Carl Williams.

Bittle, who was accompanied to court by her mother, aunt, and brother, was released on personal recognizance. Several organizations, including representatives from Black Lives Matter and Boston Coalition for Police Accountability, were in court to show her support.

Standing outside the courthouse, Bittle spurned warnings from Williams and spoke briefly to reporters. “I apologize for my behavior,’’ Bittle said. “All I have to say to the officer is if you had done your job properly, it would not have escalated that far. . . I would have given him my bag. I would have let him search it. . . But he was way too aggressive, way too aggressive.’’

Williams, whose organization has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Transit Police on behalf of another woman, said that the video showed a Transit Police officer taking wholly unwarranted actions against a small woman who exercised her right not to answer questions from police....

When police ask you something, you just disperse!


I want to know who is their boss.

Time to hit the Pike:

"For 600 retirees, no more free rides on Mass. Pike" by Andrea Estes Globe Staff  September 04, 2015

For years, state officials have handed out a generous perk to hundreds of retiring employees of the old turnpike authority: a transponder or pass card that lets them skip the tolls on the turnpike, the Tobin Bridge, and the airport tunnels.

Being a member of the Party has its privileges.

Now, transportation officials are ending the retirement benefit for more than 600 former employees, saying they had inadvertently continued a practice that should have ended in 2009, when the Turnpike Authority was merged into the state Transportation Department.


The transponders or pass cards will be deactivated on Sept. 11.

Ominous date.

The change of heart came after the Globe questioned transportation officials’ claim that they were required by law or union contract to let turnpike retirees travel toll roads, tunnels, and bridges for free. As recently as this week, transportation officials said former turnpike employees were “grandfathered” under union contracts.

Former Turnpike Authority board member Mary Z. Connaughton called the state admission “truly startling.”

“The public should rightfully question what else could be going wrong,” said Connaughton, who is now director of government transparency at the Pioneer Institute, a public policy think tank.


The new agency continued some of the lingering benefits of the old system, including the free transponders and passes for former Turnpike Authority employees.

They let the practice continue even though it was not a benefit contained in agreements with the unions representing the workers, Verseckes told the Globe.

In fact, one union official, Robert Cullinane, principal executive officer of Teamsters Local 127, said his union explicitly gave up the post-retirement perk in 2012. Even so, he said, members of his union have continued to receive the benefit upon retirement, including many who took advantage of Governor Charlie Baker’s recent early retirement incentive, which was designed to cut costs.

Another union official, John Dumas, president of IBEW Local 103, said that although the benefit was not contained in any of its agreements, the union’s lawyers believe it is a past practice and should continue unless it is bargained away. His union, which represents electricians and telecommunications specialists who worked for the Turnpike Authority, may fight any unilateral change, Dumas said.

But even if the former Turnpike employees lose the toll-free privileges, another group of state retirees will continue to get free transportation, say state officials. More than 3,400 retired MBTA workers are allowed to ride the system’s buses and trains for free by tapping their ID card at fare boxes and fare gates, an agency spokesman said....

It's in the union contract -- as if those things could never be opened up and redone!


Be careful crossing the bridges:

"Mass. bridges are in danger of falling down" by RenĂ©e Loth Globe Columnist  September 03, 2015

Massachusetts prides itself on being at or near the top of the states on any number of indices: student test scores, job creation, health care. Why, then, are we not more embarrassed by this dubious achievement: Massachusetts is second only to Rhode Island in the percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. A recent estimate for repairing these clunkers is $14 billion. When it comes to the state’s neglected transportation burden, the Green Line extension isn’t the half of it.

Where has all the money gone?

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 52 percent of the state’s bridges — 2,673 structures in all — have some kind of deficiency. It might be structural: a crack or other flaw in a deck, culvert, or retaining wall. Or the bridge may just be “functionally obsolete,” meaning it isn’t adequate for current use: maybe it wasn’t designed for today’s traffic volumes, or it lacks adequate safety shoulders. Either way, the state’s eight-year Accelerated Bridge Repair program, which has pushed the number of structurally deficient bridges down to 408, is badly overmatched by the age of our infrastructure, our weather, and our seeming inability as a society to pay for an obvious shared need. And the bridge repair program ends next year.

It was not reassuring to find that a span of the Mass. Pike over Brooks Street in Brighton, which I travel under several times a week, is among the top 10 structurally deficient bridges in Massachusetts, based on the number of daily crossings. But almost every county in the state has a few trouble spots.


You have to wonder what has become of that grand coalition of responsible business and political leaders – the Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, the mayors of several cities – who opposed the tiny inflation index for the gas tax on last year’s ballot. If it had not passed, Massachusetts could have had an extra $100 million to help support road and bridge repairs this year. And with the average price of a gallon of gasoline down by six cents this week, it is unlikely anyone would have noticed.

Yeah, rai$ing taxes is always the an$wer.

Indeed, states across the country — including seven with Republican governors — raised gas taxes last year or shelved plans to lower them. They include those notorious tax-and-spend states Georgia, Utah, and Idaho. The gas tax is not the perfect method of funding transportation repairs, since more fuel-efficient cars eventually will reduce the state’s income from the tax. But it is the payment system we’ve got....

The new highway bill that Congre$$ is drawing up should fix things.


Maybe you should just call a cab:

Police official says Uber lied about vehicle inspections
Evans renews call for extensive background checks at Uber
Needless rules won’t make ride-sharing any safer
Baker officials on Uber: ‘Disruption is a hallmark of innovation’
Uber says 21 percent of Boston cabbies have signed up to drive with service
Lyft’s ‘Line’ carpool service hits Boston, following Uber’s lead
Livery cab driver guilty of raping female passenger

I Said you needed to be careful and say stop.

Google hires auto veteran to lead self-driving car push
Automakers commit to put automatic brakes in all cars
Report says Apple moves forward on building a car

Maybe that is a better idea for the cabs.

Tesla’s first SUV is hitting the road

They are also looking at developing a limousine.

At this point, I'm lost. About the only thing that I have left is a bike to deliver this post to you.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Greece's Rigged Vote Narrative

Oh, how the tone of the banker's press has changed since Tsipras capitulated to the bankers. He's now the boy wonder.

"Political stability is the focus of latest Greek vote" by Nicholas Paphitis Associated Press  September 19, 2015

ATHENS — Both front-runners, the radical left Syriza party and the center-right New Democracy party, accept, with varying degrees of grace, the new tax increases and reforms that international creditors have demanded to keep Greece afloat.

"Radical left" and "center-right' agree, huh? Then those terms don't mean anything.

‘‘Given that the [third bailout] has been voted by an overwhelming majority of members of the Greek Parliament, there is nothing at stake in these elections,’’ said Dimitri A. Sotiropoulos, assistant professor of political science at the University of Athens.

Then why bother voting?


Former prime minister Alexis Tsipras, 41, performed a remarkable U-turn under duress, dumping the antiausterity platform that brought him to power in January.

The first stench of a rig job, and let's face it, the legitimate election is a rarity these days.

To avoid bankruptcy, social meltdown, and an exit from Europe’s monetary and political union, he agreed to a third $97 billion bailout with tight strings attached — triggering a party revolt that cost him his parliamentary majority. 

That revolt that split the party apparently dissolved right down the memory hole.

In what might prove a big miscalculation, Tsipras then called an election to boost his majority. Until July, Syriza was much more popular than New Democracy, for which the ratings rose under interim leader Vangelis Meimarakis, 61. The gap has shrunk massively and an outright majority is out of either party’s reach....

Most likely, a three-party coalition will be required — and should be quite easily achievable with help from two small centrist, pro-European parties. A total of nine parties could enter Parliament in this vote, including the Nazi-inspired, ultra-right Golden Dawn party that came in third in the last election and is still polling high.

Whenever the Jewish press trashes someone with such slurs I suspect they are okay. True fa$ci$m is what governs AmeriKa today, not that mislabeled nationalism from my history books.

J.P. Morgan analysts Malcolm Barr and Aditya Chordia said in a note that coalition talks may be difficult, but cannot take too long, as bailout creditors are to review the country’s reform progress next month.

Yes, the Na$is of today were tailored suits and ties.

Over the next couple of months, Greece has to draft the 2016 state budget and a three-year fiscal strategy, double taxation on farmers, reform its pension system, merge all social security funds, and privatize its electricity transmission system.

Also, by the end of the year, it must oversee a bank recapitalization program, without which depositors with over $113,000 in their accounts will be forced to chip in. 

It's everything the alternative media has been saying. The deal is everything the banker's wanted with average citizens also having their savings stolen.

Megan Greene, chief economist at Manulife Asset Management, said there is little chance the immediate targets can be met, meaning creditors will end up back at the negotiating table. She said new talk will arise of Greece possibly being forced out of the 19-nation euro currency club.

Not with the migrant crisis demanding a united response.

Greece has survived on international bailouts since 2010, when it lost access to bond markets after running — and keeping quiet about — a huge budget deficit.

Then a $ociali$t took over and, well, you know the rest.

Syriza’s defection to the probailout camp has taken much of the sting out of a debate formerly peppered with accusations of treason and kowtowing to creditors. One remaining advantage for Tsipras, despite his signing of the third bailout, is that he is still considered the new kid in town, and an agent for reform.

Oh, that made me want to puke, and it is where the print ended!

One remaining advantage for Tsipras, despite his U-turn and signing of the third bailout, is that he is still considered the new kid in town. He has campaigned on the theme of new versus old, clean versus corrupt, the likable youngster against the cynical representatives of the old regime. 

Praying to the porcelain God now.

‘‘I will vote for Syriza, because that’s the only chance for this place to get cleaned up from the dirt that was established in 1974 by all the parties,’’ said retiree Vassilis Betzelos.

‘‘I will give a second chance to Mr. Tsipras,’’ concurred tourism worker Despina Savvidou.

Teneo Intelligence analyst Wolfgango Piccoli said the campaign has highlighted both parties’ ‘‘manifest inability to put forward credible policies,’’ adding that the overall prospects are gloomy.

‘‘In the best-case scenario, another phase of improvisation, hesitation, missed deadlines and much political wrangling will follow the calm of what has been a singularly apathetic election campaign,’’ he said.

Polls indicate many of the 9.9 million voters remain undecided or may not vote at all.

Yannis Xerakias, an unemployed shipyard worker in the depressed Athens suburb of Perama, said Tsipras ‘‘proved to be a hot potato, just like the rest of them all of these years.’’

‘‘As for what I’ll vote for on Sunday?’’ he asked. ‘‘My bed. I will enjoy it.’’


And the winner....

"Greeks return Alexis Tsipras to power" by Suzanne Daley New York Times   September 21, 2015

ATHENS — Alexis Tsipras, who won election as Greece’s prime minister in January on an anti-austerity platform that he was later forced to abandon, was returned to power by Greek voters Sunday, many of them saying that he had fought hard to get them a better deal from the country’s creditors and deserved a second chance at governing.

With more than 80 percent of the vote counted, Tsipras’s left-wing Syriza party led with 35.5 percent to 28.3 percent for New Democracy, the main right-leaning party. The third largest number of votes was for the Golden Dawn, a neo-fascist party, which received 7 percent, about 1 point higher than in January’s election.

I'll bet they also oppose private central banking.


By calling last month for elections, Tsipras had gambled that he could consolidate his power and rid his Syriza party of its more radical elements — members who refused to support the measures Greece’s creditors were demanding.

Apparently they came right back into the fold with the 35% total. 

What a steaming stink of a stench on this one.

At first he seemed to maintain his popularity among Greek voters just for having fought so hard. But in recent days crowds at his rallies were anemic.

And yet somehow the sell-out won big against all odds! 


Outside the polling station in the working-class neighborhood of Koukaki, many voters said they still applauded Tsipras’s gumption even if he had failed to change Greece’s relationship with the creditors. More than that, they said they liked his youth and his distance from the corrupt politics of the past, which they said served the interests of Greeks oligarchs rather than those of the average citizen.

So I'm being told by a medium I no longer believe.

“He is much younger, more spontaneous,” said Costas Kapnisakis, 64, a retired math teacher, who voted for Tsipras. “He is more dynamic, more confident. I am disappointed about the U-turn, of course. But I still think he is better than the old ways.”

Giannis Papadopoulos, 30, and his wife, Maria, 29, said they wanted to give Tsipras a second chance, too. Others, however, disagreed vehemently. As they talked about their support for Tsipras, an elderly voter passed by and expressed her opinion. “A second chance to take us to hell,” she yelled.

The next government will need to continue implementing deep economic reforms required by the bailout agreement Tsipras brokered in August, a recapitalization of the country’s banks, and the unwinding of capital controls.

A misstep could send the country crashing out of the eurozone. Greece’s relations with Europe are in a fragile state, and several of its leaders are showing impatience, unlikely to tolerate the foot-dragging of past administrations. Under the terms of the bailout, Greece must pass dozens of laws before the end of the year, many of them measures that were supposed to be passed years ago.

Looks like a THREAT!

Tsipras has said that he did not want to enter into a coalition with the two parties that had ruled Greece for the last 40 years, New Democracy and the center-left PASOK party. Tsipras’s party won enough seats to keep him from having to, Syriza officials said....

Oh, STINK!!!!


Also seeAlex Tsipras becomes Greek leader for second time

He either "pulled off a remarkable gamble," or the game was fixed.

Sunday Globe Special: Obama Abandons Children

Obama trades college-ranking plan for a data clearinghouse

RelatedDuncan will step down as education secretary after seven years in post

No Dirty Dancing in Connecticut

"Stonington High School in Connecticut has instituted a new policy beginning with Saturday’s homecoming dance that prohibits ‘‘grinding and other forms of inappropriate dancing and touching,” The Day reported. Students will be given a warning the first time they violate the policy. A second offense will result in ejection from the dance. Students must also dress ‘‘tastefully’’ for all dances and if any attire is found to be inappropriate, they will be asked to leave. All students and their parents must sign the policy in order to buy dance tickets (AP)."

Cleaning Out the Chimney in Colorado

Well, you know, winter is coming.... 

"Body of teen missing for 7 years found in chimney" AP  September 30, 2015

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — The remains of an 18-year-old man reported missing seven years ago were found in the chimney of an abandoned cabin less than a mile from his home, and the details of his death are likely to stay mysterious, Colorado officials said Wednesday.

The remains were found last month as contractors tore down the cabin in Woodland Park that had been abandoned for more than a decade. Joshua Vernon Maddux was probably trying to shimmy down the chimney when he got stuck, Teller County coroner Al Born said.

His death was ruled accidental, and there were no signs of trauma, Born said. It’s unclear how long Maddux’s remains had been in the chimney.

‘‘There are going to be some questions out there that are unanswerable,’’ he said.

Family members say Maddux was bright and doing well in school, and they are not sure why he was at the cabin.

‘‘I got up one morning and he was there, then he just never came home,’’ said his father, Michel Maddux. ‘‘We thought he was with friends, but no one had seen him.’’

Michel Maddux said the family searched for him for years.

‘‘It’s a long-term thing where you’re grieving on hold,’’ he said....


Oh, look at all the dust and soot:

"Federal health program for Sept. 11 responders expires" by Mary Clare Jalonick Associated Press  October 01, 2015

WASHINGTON — A law that provides medical monitoring and treatment for Sept. 11 first responders expired at midnight Wednesday due to the failure of Congress to act.

For now, first responders who rushed to the World Trade Center after the 2001 terrorist attacks, worked for weeks, and now suffer from such illnesses as pulmonary disease and cancers will still be able to get their health care. But federal officials who administer the program say it will face challenges by February and will have to start shutting down by next summer.

Letting the program expire creates ‘‘enormous anxieties and fears in the minds of very sick people,’’ said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York who has been lobbying her colleagues to make the program permanent.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was unacceptable for Congress to let it expire.

‘‘Congress must stop putting politics ahead of our heroes’ health,’’ he said in a statement.

The Zadroga Act, named after a responder who died after working at the World Trade Center site, first became law in 2010 after a debate over the bill’s cost. Proponents are seeking the law’s permanent extension in part because some illnesses may not manifest until years later, after the statute of limitations for worker’s compensation or certain state laws may have run out.


Monday's Mooning

"Boise residents are trying to save a tree that was grown from seeds taken aboard the Apollo 14 mission to the moon....

I've already seen enough cheek.


Also see: MIA Monday

Befuddled Fed

The question for me is why am I still covering this rank rot?

"Federal Reserve aims to prevent crises, but how is a thorny issue" by Binyamin Appelbaum New York Times  October 05, 2015

The 2008 financial crisis convinced most people in the world of central banking that it would be a good idea to try to prevent that kind of thing from happening again. But policy makers have made little progress in figuring out how, a troubling reality highlighted at a conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. 

Dodd-Frank, WTF?

The Fed has committed itself to so-called macroprudential regulation, meaning it is focused on the stability of the financial system as well as the health of individual companies. But senior Fed officials at the conference described that as more of a goal than an achievement.

“While the use of macroprudential tools holds promise, we are a long way from being able to successfully use such tools,” said William C. Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The importance of prevention has only increased, because the Fed’s ability to respond to a crisis has diminished. The Dodd-Frank Act prevents it from repeating some aspects of its 2008 actions. And the Fed expects interest rates to remain below historic norms for the foreseeable future, leaving less room to cut rates, long its first line of defense.

Look at this. The Dodd-Frank fraud and failure has actually hurt the effort to prevent banks from $crewing us all over again. Talk about being a banker's mouthpiece!!

I'm sorry, folks, but I simply can no longer take reading this slop, if for no other reason than my good health.

“If you ask people who is responsible for financial stability they would say the Fed,” said Donald Kohn, a former Fed vice chairman. “But the Fed doesn’t really have the instruments. It doesn’t really have the tools. And I think this is a dangerous situation if people perceive that it has the responsibility and it doesn’t have the tools.”

The basic problem is crises are hard to predict. A 2012 study by the International Monetary Fund said about one-third of credit booms ended in crashes. And even in retrospect, researchers found it hard to identify warning signs.

Look at this apologetic and excu$ing slop for their recklessness and looting schemes. We dunno! Then why am I reading this $hit?

Eric S. Rosengren, the Boston Fed president, argued in a paper that financial stability should join inflation and employment as explicit objectives of monetary policy. Moreover, he and his coauthors presented evidence the Fed already treats financial stability as a goal.

End print.

Seven years after the peak of the 2008 crisis, the Fed has not been able to drive unemployment or inflation back to normal levels. The unemployment rate is 5.1 percent — a level usually associated with a robust economy — but that figure overstates the current health of the labor market. Prices, meanwhile, rose just 0.3 percent in the 12 months ended in August, far below the 2 percent level the Fed would like to achieve to support healthy spending and investment.

So popping bubbles probably means curtailing some beneficial booms, too.

“We’ll have to make a choice about how much growth we are willing to give up in good times to limit the likelihood of a future financial crisis,” said Loretta J. Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Some officials, however, argue a more drastic shift may be necessary. They want the Fed to use its most powerful tool — raising and lowering interest rates. The Fed might curb speculative excesses by raising interest rates. Or, it could soothe fragile financial markets by holding rates steady, as it is doing now, or by cutting rates, as it does during downturns.

Janet L. Yellen, the Fed’s chairwoman, has generally resisted this suggestion, arguing in a 2014 speech that monetary policy should remain focused on moderating inflation and minimizing unemployment. Raising interest rates to limit speculation in a particular area is the rough equivalent of weeding a garden with a bulldozer. Yellen has suggested she would consider it only as a last resort.

But Fed vice chairman Stanley Fischer said at the Boston conference that the use of monetary policy for such goals deserves consideration. “There may be times when adjustments to monetary policy should be discussed as a means to curb risks to financial stability,” he said.

Jeremy C. Stein, a former Fed governor, has argued that the broader effects of raising interest rates actually numbers among its virtues, because it potentially enables the Fed to discourage risky speculation it has not even managed to identify.

They showed that the movement of the Fed’s benchmark rate tracks discussions of financial stability at Fed policy making sessions.

Others, however, said it was not clear that raising rates was a more effective means of addressing risks to the financial system than sensible regulation.

“I’m a skeptic,” Kohn said. “I think that monetary policy, changes in interest rates, are likely to be not very effective in damping a lot of these cycles.”

The current discussion is largely framed by the details of the last crisis. Mark Gertler, a professor of economics at New York University, said he saw little reason to think the Fed could have curbed the rise of housing prices in the years leading up to the 2008 crisis by raising interest rates more quickly. He noted that Britain had higher rates than the United States and just as severe a housing bubble.

Instead, Gertler said: “We can certainly imagine that some kind of restrictions on the subprime market might have been a more effective way to contain this mess.”

Nellie Liang, director of the Fed’s office of Financial Stability Policy and Research, presented a study showing that changes in interest rates have a limited effect on credit booms in the early stages, and then even that fades away. That suggested that macroprudential measures had a role to play.

But the skeptics held sway.

Luc Laeven, director general for research at the European Central Bank, provided a fitting, if disheartening, summary of the conference. 


“Both monetary policy and macroprudential policy are not really very effective,” Laeven said.

He added a plaintive question. “Do we have other policies?”


Blah, blah, blah. I'm sorry, I don't speak banksterspeak.

Related: Fed to F**k Us All

The $ign language I understand, and I offer that salute here:

"Former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says that some Wall Street executives should have gone to prison for their roles in the financial crisis that gripped the country in 2008 and triggered the Great Recession. Billions of dollars in fines have been levied against banks and brokerages since the meltdown, which was in large part triggered by reckless lending and shady securities dealings that blew up a housing bubble. But in an interview with USA Today, published Sunday, Bernanke said individuals also should have been held accountable. ‘‘It would have been my preference to have more investigations of individual actions, because obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm,’’ he said. Asked if someone should have gone to jail, he replied, ‘‘Yeah, I think so.’’ He did not name any individual he thought should have been prosecuted and noted that the Fed is not a law-enforcement agency. Bernanke is promoting his 600-page memoir, ‘‘The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath,’’ which is scheduled to be published Monday. He began the book after leaving the Fed in 2014. It details his take on the crisis, in which the government took over the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and provided hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to the biggest financial institutions. He writes that the taxpayer-provided bailouts were hugely unpopular, but argues they were necessary to avoid an economic catastrophe." 

Someone also prepare a cell for him, please.


Ominous Opening to October

Mixed Me$$ages

I'm sick of them, sorry.

US stocks survive barrages as selloff low becomes rally point 

Low is high, down is up, peace is war, freedom is $lavery, aaaaaaaaagggghhhhh!!!!!!

China weighs on developing East Asia, World Bank says

US and 11 nations close to accord on trade pact

Yeah, that corporate monstrosity will fix everything.

For state’s Gateway Cities, a long-awaited rebound

Yes, just stay positive and think like an owner!

(Is that why I'm thinking of suspending publications at this blog for an indefinite period?) 

State’s rainy day fund has dwindled over past decade

How can that be when we have an economy that.... never mind.

Group effort helps city tackle homelessness

How can that be when we have an economy that.... never mind.

As long as they stay out of the way of the tourists (that was the tone of the article above), and the Globe has important people discussing the issue this week.

Sorry for zipping through those stories, but it is time to park this post.


They gave me a parking ticket, can you believe it?

Markets snapshot: S&P 500 rises a 5th straight day

"Deal reached on Pacific Rim trade pact" by David Nakamura Washington Post  October 06, 2015

ATLANTA — President Obama hailed the completion Monday of a historic 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal that he said ‘‘reflects America’s values’’ as his administration turned quickly from the global negotiating table to selling the deal on Capitol Hill.

It does reflect AmeriKa's values in that it is a gift to multinational corporations, and why do you have to $ell $omething that $hould $ell it$elf? That befuddles me.

Obama pledged that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest free-trade accord in a generation, would open new markets for US goods and services and establish rules that give ‘‘our workers the fair shot at success they deserve.’’

That's what the corporate lackeys called presidents have said about all the disastrous deals that benefited a few from their cla$$, that's it.

But in a sign of the tough fight ahead to win final ratification from Congress next year, lawmakers from both parties lambasted the pact as falling short, raising the prospect that the White House could lose support from allies who had backed the president’s trade push earlier this year.

Orrin Hatch is unhappy, and I love bipartisanship!


The United States, where the 2016 presidential campaign is underway, is not the only nation with a turbulent political climate. Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, who backed the deal, is facing a tough reelection vote this month, and the opposition party has said it won’t be bound by the terms of the deal. Leaders of Australia, New Zealand, and several other countries made tough compromises that face stiff opposition at home.

On the US campaign trail, Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, slammed the deal, saying, ‘‘Wall Street and other big corporations have won again.’’ Republican front-runner Donald Trump has consistently criticized big trade deals, and Democrat Hillary Clinton has hedged on the TPP deal, despite having supported it while serving as Obama’s secretary of state.

‘‘I’ll leave the presidential politics to someone else,’’ US Trade Representative Michael Froman said during a news conference in Atlanta. ‘‘Our job is to reach agreement and explain it fully to the American public.’’ 

Then why was it negotiated in secret with certain parties kept out of the loop?

Obama must wait at least 90 days after notifying Congress of the deal until he can sign it and send it to Capitol Hill, and the full text of the agreement must be made public for at least 60 of those days. Under the terms of ‘‘fast-track’’ trade legislation approved by Congress in the spring, lawmakers will not be able to amend or filibuster the pact.

Then vote it down. I know there will be lobbyi$ts paying visits and making but threats, but.... vote it down.

Capitol Hill staffers said votes in the House and the Senate are unlikely before mid-April, at the earliest. A reshuffling in the House Republican leadership after the announced resignation of Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, could introduce additional uncertainty.

While the GOP has been more supportive of Obama’s trade agenda, some conservatives have opposed a pact negotiated by a Democratic White House.

Opponents in Obama’s own party have vowed to turn the trade deal into a political issue in an attempt to block it.

‘‘That’s perfect timing because a presidential election year is the best opportunity to shine a light on all the bad trade provisions in this deal,’’ said Representative Rosa L. DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, a critic of the deal. The administration ‘‘is supposed to be fighting for the American public, not high-priced lobbyists, but, unfortunately, this administration’s approach has been the exact opposite.’’

Look, it's another in a long line of broken promises or false friend fronts this guy has put up. I'm over the disappointment and expect such things now.

The pact, negotiated for eight years, is a multiple-chapter pact that addresses tariff reductions for agriculture and automobiles, intellectual property rights for pharmaceutical drugs and movies, the free flow of information on the Internet, wildlife conservation, online commerce, and dispute settlements for multinational corporations. 

In other words, it is going to have vast implications.

Negotiators were under mounting pressure to close the gaps on several issues.

Whenever anything is urgent or the pre$$ure is on, I say BRAKE!!!!

Efforts to reach final consensus during the last negotiating round, in Maui in July, broke off in the face of deadlocks over dairy tariffs, rules governing where automobiles are manufactured, and market protections for next-generation biologic drugs.

US officials described marathon talks in Atlanta that stretched deep into the night. But members of Congress warned that pressure to close a deal could lead to bad compromises. Hatch is reportedly upset over terms that govern how long pharmaceutical companies will maintain market exclusivity on genetically engineered drugs.

Yes, the pharmaceuticals are already complaining, and part of the deal looks like drug price controls for Obamacare with foreign suppliers. That means health, safety, and quality issues.


Other lawmakers hailed separate portions of the agreement, including new labor standards to protect workers and a last-minute provision that would not allow cigarette companies access to a new international dispute settlement panel.

Oh, yeah, I'm sure this thing is great for workers. 

Fact is, all these trade deals $crew workers. The "free market" means production flows to the lowest wage, least regulated nations.

Critics of such panels, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, have charged that the pact will allow large corporations to sue TPP member nations for lost profits if they change their public health laws or other regulations.

Why not just turn over the state treasuries to them all and save time and aggravation?

Officials in Atlanta said the agreement will pay long-term dividends, deepening multilateral relations in a way that develops common interests and reduces volatility in global markets.

Have you seen the stock market the last month or so? 

Yeah, these deals really reduced volatility!

The pact represents the largest US trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico in 1993.

Working on even bigger one with Europe.