Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday Globe Special: This Blog Slowly Dying

"It’s the kind of stuff that makes you ponder life, but emotionally, it’s hard to brace oneself for the realization that something that was once there is finally, completely gone....."


"Sears is dying, but workers’ loyalty lives on" by Michael Corkery New York Times   December 29, 2018

The annual Christmas luncheon was called for noon, but many members of the Atlanta Sears Family had arrived at the church hall by 10:30 a.m.

There was a lot to catch up on: birthdays, illnesses, and news of club members who had died over the past few months. There was baked ham, green beans, and cherry pie for lunch. There was music — oldies and Christmas carols mostly. One club member, 84-year-old Herman Atwood, danced to “My Girl,” twisting and twirling in his Sears Roebuck sweater vest as if he were at a wedding.

Sears may be struggling to survive after filing for bankruptcy in October, its rundown and empty stores symbolizing a has-been company that failed to adapt, but across the country, legions of former Sears workers like Atwood, a retired truck driver, gather regularly to reminisce about their long careers in retailing. The brands like Kenmore and DieHard that lasted for decades. The limitless creativity of shoplifters. The impossible task of selecting the women’s shoe inventory.

For an older generation of Sears retirees, their former employer remains a central part of their lives, a throwback in an industry now known for high turnover, low wages, and costly health care. Today, there are dozens of Sears alumni groups, from Bangor, Maine, to Sioux Falls, S.D., forming one of the largest and most active retiree networks in the nation.

“It feels like family,” Mattie Hughey said as she sat with three friends she met packing catalog orders in the Sears warehouse in Atlanta 30 years ago.

I guess the turnout for the funeral will be huge, huh?

Long before it went bankrupt, before it was taken over by hedge fund manager Edward S. Lampert, and before Amazon pioneered internet shopping, Sears was the nation’s largest retailer, with about 350,000 employees near its peak.

They let Amazon eat their lunch, and they should have known better. Sears pioneered the mail order catalog!

In its heyday, a period stretching from the end of World War II to the 1970s, Sears offered many of its workers a clear path to the middle class. The company paid well, shared profits, and provided retirement benefits that have helped many former employees live in relative comfort.

Madison Price, 87, comes every year to the holiday luncheon to see old friends and soak in the music. He grew up working on a farm in Georgia, helping grow cotton and corn. His father split the proceeds from their crops with the man who owned the farm. Price didn’t finish high school and often missed school because he was needed on the farm.

The practice was known as sharecropping, and it was a way for the white owner to steal what black labor made, perpetuating Jim Crow and $outhern $lavery.

After returning from the Korean War, Price got a job as a janitor in a store in Atlanta in 1958. When he retired after 34 years, Price sold the Sears stock the company had granted him over the years and took his pension in a lump sum.

He reinvested the money only in things that he uses: shares in Georgia’s power utilities and municipal bonds of DeKalb County and the Atlanta airport. Today, Price said he drew enough in dividends and interest from his investment portfolio, along with Social Security, to live comfortably. He paid for his son’s college tuition, and his wife, Earnestine, has been able to take trips with her friends.

“I am blessed,” Price said.

Many of the retirees at the luncheon said they viewed their time at Sears as being part of something bigger than just working at a successful retailer. They worked for a force in American culture and business. Sears sold everything: feed for chickens, Whirlpool washing machines, as well as the nightgowns, watches, and erector sets in the Christmas “wish book.”

“One man came by looking for a wagon for his horse,” said Jerril Parker, who worked in security at Sears in the Atlanta area for 45 years.

Sears workers became experts in their fields — heating systems, kitchen appliances, cosmetics, and they were proud of what they sold. Elder Penny, who started at Sears after serving as a Navy supply officer in World War II, was a regional buyer of women’s shoes. Penny, 94, still has the same Kenmore refrigerator he bought at Sears in 1974.

“I think I will wear out before it does,” he said.

There was also a feeling of camaraderie and support. Decades ago, the Sears headquarters in Illinois were referred to as “parent” — a telling symbol of the way employees viewed their employer.

They were all gung ho!

Experienced workers took new recruits under their wing. When a manager relocated to a new store, other employees there helped him look for a new home.

Sears today is nothing like the company many retirees remember. The retailer stopped profit-sharing in the 1970s, and employees hired more recently no longer receive pensions. Under its chairman, Lampert, the company has been selling off many of its most valuable stores and laying off thousands of workers.

On Friday, Lampert, through his hedge fund, ESL Investments, made a $4.4 billion bid to acquire many of the company’s remaining assets, including its retail stores. Lampert said the proposal would keep 50,000 workers employed.

Retirees warned long ago that Lampert’s involvement with Sears would end badly. When his hedge fund acquired the company in 2005 by merging it with Kmart, a group of former workers hired a plane to fly over the headquarters in Illinois pulling a banner that read, “Sears Unfair to Retirees.”

The retirees’ pensions are expected to survive the bankruptcy largely intact thanks to a backstop from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, but if Sears goes into a liquidation, which many analysts and investors say is likely, then the retirees would lose most of their life insurance benefits.

There was where my printed article ended, and WTF are they talking about?

The PBGC has been running out of money for years now (because of Bush's wars, doncha know?).

So they pass the pensions on to the already overburdened U.S. taxpayer, huh?

Time to start throwing rocks.

Oh, right, the incoming Democrats will fix it at least that is what they are serving up to you.

In the current incarnation of Sears, recruiting new members to the alumni groups has been difficult. Two decades ago, there were 250 clubs; now there are only about 45. More recent retirees, who did not receive pensions or profit-sharing, do not share the same allegiance as older generations.

Age is another challenge. The Atlanta club regularly updates its 160 members with a “bereavement report” listing local retirees who have died.

As the luncheon in Decatur finished, Lynn Walker Capland lingered in the church hall, helping clean off the tables and talking with friends. Capland, 66, is not only a former employee, she is what she calls a “byproduct of Sears.” Her mother and father met while working at the Christmas pickup window in the Atlanta store.

Walker left the company before reaching retirement age because she said she wasn’t suited for her final job in the collections department, but she still takes a day off from current work at an accounting firm to attend the luncheon every year.

“No one makes time for these types of things anymore. Everyone is so busy,” she said. “This way of life is almost gone.”

I hope you enjoyed this nonsensical trip down memory lane with all it's nostalgia.


Also seeWith pay raise, state pension chief’s salary hits nearly $500,000

I'm about ready to put down the Globe, sorry. 

Just lost the fire for it, I gue$$.

At least the classics are coming back to life.

Sunday Globe Special: Pigeon Shit

"A city in Spain plans to exile 5,000 pigeons. Will they stay away?" by Raphael Minder New York Times  December 08, 2018

MADRID — The exile solution to pigeon overcrowding is being presented as a more animal-friendly approach than that taken in other places, where pigeons are treated like flying rats to be culled or fed contraceptive pills that may also be consumed by other species.

Horeca, a regional federation of hoteliers, argued that pigeon excrement presents a health risk for waiters and other employees who have to clean pigeon-occupied dining and drinking areas.

“Nobody here has anything against pigeons or other animals, but something must be done when they proliferate to the point of presenting a health risk,” said Antonio De María Ceballos, a restaurant owner and the president of Horeca.

“Of course,” he added, “we want to avoid losing some revenues from tourists, but this issue is really about whether we believe it is important to keep Cádiz’s image as a clean and healthy city.”

Álvaro de la Fuente, the city official in charge of environmental policy, argued in a statement that fighting pigeon overpopulation can also helped avoid the spread of “other plagues like rodents.”



"Teenage hunter wields ancient, living weapon" by Hannah Reyes Morales New York Times  December 22, 2018

BAYAN-OLGII, Mongolia —The training of the birds starts soon after an eaglet is captured from the nest, often after a hunter has made a rugged climb up a cliff. The resulting relationship between hunter and eagle is close and lasts years; some last more than a decade, with a few hunters even talking about the eagle as if it were their child.

Hunters will often sing to their eagles to get them used to their voice.

Female eagles, larger and stronger than males, are used almost exclusively in the hunt. Once grown to about 15 pounds, the eagles ride with their hunters on horseback into the mountains, where they are released to scan the landscape for prey, typically foxes and rabbits, but wolves are the true prize, even if the hunters fear for their birds’ safety when they go in for the dangerous, and brutal, kill.

Eagle hunting almost vanished in the last century. It was kept alive by the Altai Kazakhs in western Mongolia in Bayan-Olgii province, where at least 400 ethnic Kazakhs have formally registered as eagle hunters.

The province is the only one in Mongolia that is majority Kazakh, and majority Muslim.

Now, for perhaps for the first time in its history, the art, and its essential role in Altai Kazakh culture, is being shared with outsiders.

Hunters come together for the Golden Eagle Festival to compete in a two-day gathering open to tourists.

A popular 2016 documentary film about Aisholpan, a young eagle huntress who won the festival’s hunting competition in 2014, helped bring the Altai Kazakh culture to international attention.

Just gathering the hunters together is a logistical feat, since many are pastoral nomads, some without cellphones or a fixed mailing address. Many will arrive on horseback, clopping down dirt roads clad in wolfskin and fox fur.

During the festival, Soviet-era vehicles dot the steppe, with local vendors selling tapestries depicting Kazakh life, leather-bound books with Mongolian sayings and intricate bottles for Mongolian snuff. Children sit on the ground, playing games with shagai, sheep knuckle bones.

The number of foreign tourists coming to the festival is growing, with a record of more than 1,000 this year, according to government officials.

This year, 120 eagle hunters took part: From the top of a mountain, the eagle is released as its hunter waits on horseback in a makeshift arena set up at the mountain’s foot.

The goal is to have the bird meet its hunter within a targeted area some 20 yards wide. To prod the eagle, the hunter holds aloft a piece of meat, and makes a loud cry for the bird.

A reunion within the target area is no given: This year, just 18 eagles made it. For each successful convergence between hunter and eagle, gasps and cheers of awe erupted across the steppe.

The winning eagle is chosen after a second round, judged on how they hunt a mammal carcass tied to a galloping horse.

Some scholars worry that the festival presents eagle hunting as performance rather than showing it in its cultural context, as a search for fur and food, but many eagle hunters see the festival as a way to celebrate their heritage.

Asker, the father of another young hunter, said he welcomed outsiders and enjoyed the attention of photographers from around the world, but for Altai Kazakh youth, in a time of smartphones, photographs are just another fact of life, like wolfskin, eagles, and gers.....


The eagle was let go.

Sunday Globe Special: Surfing Rockaway

Just a notion, readers:

"On beaches in New York’s Rockaways, there’s a new look among the surfers" by Michael Adno New York Times   December 22, 2018

NEW YORK — Three years after Hurricane Sandy lashed the Rockaways, the boardwalk marched down the beach in broken segments as the public housing built under Robert Moses was hemmed in by condos. Out in the surf, not much changed as the bathymetry returned to normal, but the predominantly white, male crowd of surfers had.

Part of that shift happened when Louis Harris, 46, founded the East Coast chapter of the Black Surfing Association in 2016.

Surfers like Harris are carving out a space for themselves in the Rockaways, and are challenging the notion that surfing belongs to white men.

In 2014, 14-year old Marcell Dockery set a mattress on fire in his Coney Island apartment building. The blaze killed one responding officer, critically injuring another. When asked why, Dockery cited boredom. The response haunted Harris. That same year, Harris read in The Surfer’s Journal about Tony Corley, who founded the Black Surfing Association in 1975 in California. Corley’s departure point was assembling some sense of belonging as he felt like the sole black surfer in central California, and then in 2015, Corley’s story coupled with Dockery’s moved Harris to the point where he proposed creating an East Coast Chapter.....

Just lost my board as I got bored.


I suppose they will have an article on an all white man's hoop league next week. 


Did you give the money back to FEMA yet?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Slow Saturday Special: Out of Oxygen

 The Ma$$achuSetts Looti$lature stole it all (full of hot air, too).

The above the fold front-page feature should be enough to take the air out of you:

"Baker signs long-awaited Airbnb bill, opening new era for industry" by Matt Stout Globe Staff  December 28, 2018

Governor Charlie Baker on Friday signed first-of-its-kind legislation to tax and regulate the short-term housing rental market in Massachusetts, capping years of debate over how to navigate an industry that has exploded through companies like Airbnb.

Yup, you get $omething going and they gotta get their cut!

The new rules will take effect July 1 and could transform a market that spans the state, from Cape Cod summer homes to Boston apartment buildings to Western Massachusetts vacation retreats.


The bill requires every rental host to register with the state, mandates they carry insurance, and opens the potential for local taxes on top of a new state levy. A chief negotiator for the House said the goal is to register every short-term rental in the state by September, and local officials, including in Boston, say the new law will help buttress their own efforts to regulate the booming market, but before Baker’s ink could dry, the law drew a sharp rebuke from Airbnb, which called it “flawed” and unnecessarily complex. Advocates who have closely followed the process — including Airbnb’s decision to sue in federal court to overturn Boston’s municipal regulations — warn a lawsuit against the state could also follow.

I sure as hell hope $o.

“Our administration has long supported leveling the playing field for short-term rental operators who use their properties as de facto hotels,” Baker said in a statement Friday after signing the bill. “I appreciate the Legislature’s work to reach a compromise on this bill that adopts our proposal to avoid placing undue burdens on occasional renters.”

No, what they are doing is titling it back towards the "hospitality" indu$try and the real estate developers, for that is where campaign cash comes from.

The law followed a twisting, yearslong path through Beacon Hill, where as recently as this month its prospects for passing appeared unclear.

But somehow they got it done lackey-split, huh? 

During a period when the Looti$lature wasn't even in session!

House and Senate lawmakers in July passed a similar bill, but Baker blocked it, saying the rules were onerous for people who rent their homes only a few nights a year.

Faced with a ticking clock — the new legislative session begins Jan. 2 — lawmakers emerged on Dec. 20 with a compromise plan, and pushed it to Baker’s desk through sparsely attended informal sessions.

Gee, they can get thing$ done when they really want to, huh?

Only problem is, I don't want them doing anything!

This thing should have been suffocated in its crib!

Beyond requiring all hosts to register and carry insurance, it also subjects short-term rentals to the same 5.7 percent state levy now paid by hotels — but exempts people who rent their homes 14 or fewer nights a year. Officials have estimated that tax could raise at least $25 million annually.

They budgeted $60 million from pot and are going to receive a pittance of it because the CCC drags its heels on licensing, and that's what it is all about, the licen$e -- in the Land of the Free and $tate of Ma$$achu$etts!!

It also would allow cities and towns to impose their own taxes of up to 6 percent, except in Boston, where it would be 6.5 percent, with occasional hosts also exempted.

Additional taxes would be levied on hosts who own multiple units, and an extra fee would also fall on units in Boston, Cambridge, and a handful of other cities that support the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, but only after bonds are paid off on the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston.

Got all that?

Btw, the extra fee comes after money has been spent to pay off the inve$tors who bought bonds!

Some cities, including New York and San Francisco, have used short-term rental registries to rein in the industry, but this law makes Massachusetts the first state to require all hosts to register. That, more than the taxes, has been the focus of debate in recent months.

All about the $$$$$$$$$ in Ma$$achu$etts!

Hotel industry groups and housing advocates pushed for a comprehensive registry that would allow people to see whether their neighbors were renting a house or apartment short-term. Cambridge and Boston, meanwhile, have passed regulatory regimes of their own but say a statewide registry would aid enforcement, which in Cambridge has been hampered by hosts not signing up.

Then the bill is no $urpri$e then, and they used to call that under the table.

The new law will list the community and street name on the registry, but not specific addresses. Cities and towns, though, could choose to publish full addresses.

Yeah, why worry about your privacy or hackers and such?

“This is a tremendous victory for municipal leaders,” said Paul Sacco, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Lodging Association. “By adopting a more level playing field between short-term rentals and traditional lodgers, lawmakers made great strides toward a more fair and sensible system.”


Think bed and breakfasts going against hotels and inns!

Airbnb, however, has pushed back on the measure, saying the registry could put hosts’ privacy at risk. Andrew Kalloch, the company’s head of public policy for Massachusetts, also criticized its tax structure as overly complicated and “layered,” and warned it could hinder the platform’s ability to accurately collect the levies.

Welcome to Ma$$achu$etts!!

Why don't you just drive on through?

“Massachusetts has chosen a pathway here that nobody else in the country has chosen,” Kalloch said Friday. “Sometimes first in the nation is bad because it means . . . what you have chosen to pass is a flawed measure.”

You have to forgive them. It is the greed that blinds them.

Kalloch said he couldn’t say whether the company would challenge the law in court, as it has done for Boston’s new rules, which are slated to go in effect Jan. 1. Airbnb is claiming that Boston’s regulations requiring online rental platforms to police their listings and share user information with the city violate state and federal laws, but others say it’s possible, if not likely, that the new law draws litigation.

You are in Ma$$achu$etts now, $eat of the Re$i$tance like 250 years ago!

“I think it’s just a matter of time,” said Ford Cavallari, chairman of the Alliance of Downtown Civic Organizations, which supports the measure.

Requiring all hosts to register, Cavallari said, “is the light of transparency. I think Airbnb is going to have a better business because of it.”

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu said the state’s decision to create a registry should bolster the city’s own plans to “ensure compliance.”


Sorry, no room to rent here even if you are Jesus himself -- and you can thank the $tate of Ma$$achu$etts for that!


They want their nose in everything, but first we flip the page to see the story at the top of page A2 and the beginning of my Saturday Metro section:

"Cabinet heads, Baker’s top aides getting 5.5 percent pay raise" by Matt Stout Globe Staff  December 28, 2018

Governor Charlie Baker is giving an array of top deputies, from members of his Cabinet to dozens of department heads, a 5.5 percent pay raise in the new year, a first for many since Baker took office four years ago.

Well, at lea$t you know where the taxes on the room are going.

Baker’s nine Cabinet secretaries will see their salaries rise from $161,500, the same salary several started at when appointed in 2015, to $170,400 a year. Most members of Baker’s direct staff — 66 in total — will also receive the same 5.5 percent increase, according to a Baker spokesman, because they have not gotten the same “merit” pay raises that other executive branch managers have gotten over the past four years.

Another 39 agency heads will also receive a raise within the executive branch‘s sprawling bureaucracy, which includes dozens of departments and divisions overseeing everything from energy resources to elder affairs to public safety, but commissioner salaries aren’t uniform, meaning the exact increase each official receives will vary. For example, Christopher Harding, the state’s revenue commissioner, currently makes $158,000, and will get an $8,690 pay bump. Monica Bharel, the commissioner for the Department of Public Health, has a $140,000 salary and will make $7,700 more next year, and Ronald Amidon, the fish and game commissioner, will get $6,985 added to his current $127,000 salary.

The Globe reported on the pocket-$tuffing over at the DoR, but Baker got mad and they haven't mentioned it since.

Ronald J. Arigo, Baker’s chief human resources officer, said agency heads or commissioners hired after Jan. 2, 2018, will not be eligible for a raise, nor are any acting, interim or so-called 120-day appointees.

The news comes as an array of Beacon Hill officials prepare to take home bigger paychecks.....

They are already looking for ways to go around the voter-mandated tax cut, and don't worry about those unemployment benefits, either. By the time they get around to fixing the error in the legislation, the disagreement will be over.

That was the rea$on for the in$ertion of the error, wa$n't it?

If only we could recall the bastards (Globe wasn't against it in Wisconsin, but you aren't supposed to see the naked hypocrisy). He should have recused himself rather than force the citizens to go through a recall election (why does he look high?), but skipping the hearing will surely lead to a loss at the polls as it all falls apart.


"Governor Charlie Baker quietly slipped away Wednesday to Arizona to attend an annual gathering of the Republican Governors Association, weeks after it poured millions of dollars into his successful reelection bid. Baker will return Friday from the two-day meeting in Scottsdale, according to his office. The Swampscott Republican, who has otherwise shunned national GOP politics, has regularly attended the partisan organization’s confabs since his election in 2014, sometimes with little public notice. Jim Conroy, a Baker campaign adviser, said the governor is expected to speak at the event, and is also sitting on a selection committee for the RGA’s new executive director. The committee is expected to interview candidates at the conference, he said. After Baker departed Wednesday morning, his aides did not announce his attendance at the event. His office did not release a schedule for his travel, but signaled he was traveling when it identified Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito as “acting governor” in a public itinerary it distributed for her just after 8 a.m. The lieutenant governor serves in an acting capacity whenever the governor is out of state. The RGA spent heavily in Baker’s bid for a second term, dropping $6.6 million into a local super PAC to fund a series of TV ads touting his work in the corner office. The association spent more than $11 million on his behalf in 2014, when he won his first term over then-Democratic nominee Martha Coakley."

Are you sure he didn't steal it like in North Carolina?

Despite getting “900 more legal votes,’’ over the Democrat, he is being refused a seat by the incoming Democratic leadership because of so-called ballot harvesting that won them the House

That could start a revolt (or not) after the Democrats did a Russia in Alabama, even if no one gives a hoot?

Speaking of stealing things

Yeah, some problems take years to fix before they disappear from sight.


Speaking of getting fucked:

"The rector of a Brighton seminary who has been on sabbatical during an investigation of alleged misconduct there will be returned to his home diocese in Worcester, according to an announcement Friday by church officials......"


"It was apparently an open secret for some that ‘‘Uncle Ted’’ slept with adult seminarians......"

I no longer hear the Church, and think it should be totally and entirely dissolved. 

It's a centuries-old clique of child pedophiles for God's sake!

At least Spacey has seen the light, 'eh?

"Kevin Spacey is trying to avoid showing up for his arraignment in Nantucket assault case" by Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  December 28, 2018

Actor Kevin Spacey is seeking permission to avoid appearing at his upcoming arraignment on a felony charge that he sexually assaulted an 18-year-old man at a Nantucket bar in 2016.

Defendants are required to appear for court arraignments unless their appearance is waived by a judge, according to Massachusetts court officials.

Spacey’s attorneys have filed a motion asking to excuse his presence at the hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. on Jan. 7 in Nantucket District Court.

He's not going to face the music?

Court officials did not immediately provide a copy of that filing Friday, but they did provide the Globe with a copy of prosecutors’ response opposing that motion and asking the judge in the case to deny it.

Spacey, 59, faces a felony count of indecent assault and battery, which carries penalties of up to five years in prison or up to 2½ years in jail or a house of correction and a requirement to register as a sex offender, according to court documents.

Spacey faces numerous other criminal investigations into sexual assault accusations, which began surfacing in the fall of 2017 and prompted his removal from the TV show “House of Cards.” His role in a Ridley Scott film was also cut.

The Nantucket case first came to light in November 2017 when former Boston news anchor Heather Unruh publicly accused Spacey of groping her then-18-year-old son at the Club Car bar on the island.

On Monday, the Globe first reported Spacey was facing charges. Shortly after that, Spacey broke his year-plus Twitter silence Monday by sending out a bizarre, cryptic video in which he seemed to be portraying Frank Underwood, his character from “House of Cards.”

An insanity defense in the offing? 

Why he can't appear?

Thinks he IS Frank Underwood, huh?

Spacey and his lawyers have not spoken publicly about the case since the criminal charge was filed, but an audio recording of a court hearing held earlier this month provides some insight into how the attorneys plan to defend him.

Is there any defense for what he has done?

Also at that Dec. 20 hearing, the attorneys tried to rush Spacey’s arraignment, asking that it be held that day, but court officials told them no judge was available.

During a subsequent exchange with the clerk as they discussed picking an arraignment date, one of Spacey’s attorneys, Los Angeles-based lawyer Alan Jackson said of Spacey: “He’s available anytime.”

So his attorney lied, huh?


There is that grin again!

There once was a man from Nantucket.....

I can't remember the rest.

"Commission reverses course on recommended penalties for impaired drivers" by Naomi Martin Globe Staff  December 29, 2018

Suspected stoned drivers should not be penalized for refusing to answer police questions, a state panel said Friday, in revisiting its earlier decision.

Last week, the commission on impaired driving said that drivers suspected of being high should face an automatic six-month license suspension for refusing police demands for a saliva test, blood test, or 12-step “drug recognition expert,” or DRE, assessment that includes a urine test, but on Friday, the commission decided that pressuring drivers to answer police questions as part of the DRE evaluation would violate drivers’ constitutional rights to not incriminate themselves. The panel said police could examine a driver for physical signs of drug use — such as reddened eyes — but not interview suspects without first advising them of their so-called Miranda rights.

You are already paranoid so who is going to refuse police?

I'm wondering when the pi$$ te$ts to get your license are coming.

“You can’t have a situation where you have the right to remain silent, however we’re going to punish you if you don’t talk,” said attorney Peter Elikann, representing the Massachusetts Bar Association. “That’s just not going to fly.”

That tweak was among a slew of recommendations the commission voted to provide to lawmakers for the legislative session that starts in January. As five recreational pot stores have opened since November and more are coming, officials have struggled to address a potential rise in stoned drivers without an accurate test that can detect marijuana impairment. Saliva, blood, and urine tests only show past marijuana use, possibly from weeks earlier, not current impairment.

To combat a widely-held belief that people drive better when they’re high, the commission voted to include its consensus, based on scientific research, that THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive compound, impairs key driving skills, such as cognitive attention, motor function, reaction time, tracking, decision-making, impulse control, and memory. Impairment is worsened when marijuana is mixed with alcohol.

Where is that "widely-held belief" held, and by who?

Smells like more pre$$ weed to me!

Among other recommendations the commission passed:

■ Hospitals and other blood-drawing labs should be required to comply with search warrants to draw a suspected impaired driver’s blood. They should be compensated for their work and protected from legal liability.

■ All Massachusetts police officers should complete a specialized 16-hour impaired driving enforcement course.

■ Massachusetts should more than double its number of highly trained DRE officers at departments around the state, from 150 now to more than 351 in the near future.

■ Marijuana tax revenue should fund police training.

I'm regretting my vote for recreational marijuana as this joint burns down.

It was without a doubt the single worst vote I ever cast, and will vote for a repeal if it makes the ballot.

■ Massachusetts should implement electronic search warrants so that law enforcement can quickly obtain blood or saliva tests before a possible drug has left a suspect’s system.

Just in case you have cotton mouth.

■ The state should add a module to its required driver’s education course that covers impairment by marijuana.

Commission members debated whether lawmakers should make saliva tests that detect marijuana use automatically accepted as court evidence the way breathalyzers are. They ultimately decided against that, as those tests only show past use, not current impairment. The test results could still be used against a defendant in court, but prosecutors would have to show their validity first through an expert witness.

The commission should “leave it as a case-by-case basis until we’re at the point where we have a breathalyzer-like tool,” said attorney John Scheft, an appointee of Attorney General Maura Healey.

Now blow!

See resultThousands convicted of OUI could seek new trials under tentative deal on breathalyzers

Smoking pot must have made them forget the flawed breath tests!

Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael said the blood, saliva, or urine tests would only come as a result of other signs a driver is impaired. “Nobody’s going to be taken out of the car [for] using marijuana two weeks ago,” Carmichael said.

But they will get you out of the car anyway and then ride shotgun with you to monitor how high you get.


Even the legal marijuana was a money grab in an attempt to sniff you out!


"Slick roads caused scores of crashes in Central Massachusetts and parts of New Hampshire on Friday, complicating both the morning and evening commutes in some areas, officials said. Remarkably, none of those crashes resulted in serious injuries, but the chaos gripped local residents who took to social media to document the morning mayhem. Precipitation had ended, but ice was still possible as temperatures hovered around freezing in communities like Colrain and Townsend. In New Hampshire, 88 crashes or vehicles off the road had been reported on state highways as of around noon, according to the state Office of Highway Safety....."

We are going to be worse than Utah, and please don't drink and drive.

"State GOP committee member calls party ‘all but irrelevant’ in Mass." by Matt Murphy State House News Service  December 28, 2018

One member of the Republican state committee penned a blistering post-Christmas indictment of party leadership in Massachusetts this week, calling for his fellow party leaders to “face the bitter truth” that the state GOP has become “all but irrelevant.”

Steve Aylward, of Watertown, wrote a lengthy e-mail to his fellow committee members lamenting how far party enrollment has fallen and how the party, apart from winning the governor’s office, has not made gains on Beacon Hill since 2010.

And the governor is basically a moderate Democrat!

“We will stay irrelevant until such time if any that we as a State Committee choose to stop listening to those who are in this thing for their own personal gain, and instead start listening to those who are in it for unselfish reasons,” Aylward wrote.

Good luck with that one in Ma$$achu$etts!

The letter comes as state Republican chairwoman Kirsten Hughes is preparing to step down after six years leading the party, and as treasurer Brent Andersen and state representatives Peter Durant and Jim Lyons are locked in a race to replace her.

SeeState GOP leader Hughes to step aside

RelatedOutgoing state GOP chair lands $75,000 contract with sheriff

She was one of the last ones to be in it for unselfish reasons and not personal gain!

Aylward challenged Hughes for the party chairmanship in 2017, but lost with 30 votes of the 76 cast. He is a conservative activist who partnered with Representative Geoff Diehl in 2014 to repeal a law tying the gas tax to inflation. In an interview, Aylward said he is supporting Lyons for party chair.

Lyons got into the contest last week after Diehl, a darling of the conservative grass roots, opted against running for party chair following his unsuccessful challenge of US Senator Elizabeth Warren this fall.

That was a surprise.

“We have good representation with Jim,” Aylward said, referring to the anti-establishment wing of the party. Aylward did not directly blame Hughes for what he considers to be the weakness of the Republican Party in Massachusetts, writing that the chairperson in “recent cases” has just been a “front person, put there to carry the water.”

“I lay the blame across the entire spectrum of our leadership,” he said.

Aylward said that for too long Republican Party leaders have blamed the climate in Massachusetts for electoral losses, overlooking successes like Scott Brown’s US Senate win in 2010 or the gas tax ballot campaign that he helped run.

That is because of the Ma$$achu$etts myth -- propagated by the Bo$ton Globe -- of a deep blue, altruistic, liberal sanctuary and haven when it is really nothing but a band of money-grabbing looters that $ee only green!

He faulted party leaders for doing a poor job recruiting candidates at the local level, for failing to engage with Republican town committees on a regional basis, and for not being more aggressive about seeking to register voters or have “visibility” in minority communities.

He also said that party enrollment had fallen to “less than 10 percent” and that the base was “disheartened and demoralized.”

Maybe I should reregister -- and maybe run for office!

“I could go on and on about our failings, why we lose and how our leadership maintains control in spite of those habitual losses. But while we fiddle, the country burns,” Aylward wrote.

Republican Party enrollment was actually 10.3 percent this past general election, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Look at the Globe finally nitpick details. 

Where you been?

Aylward, however, said he is not a pessimist.

He said he believes it is entirely possible to turn Massachusetts from a “blue state” to a purple one. He also said he is supporting Lyons for party chair because he believes that Lyons understands the importance of engaging with the grass roots of the party without the party turning its back on what has worked for the moderate and popular Governor Charlie Baker.

Why not turn our back on Baker? 

He's turned his on us!

Aylward has opposed Baker’s political agenda in the past. “I know there a lot of people in the party who are maybe disappointed in Baker, but he’s the governor and I think Jim showed us you can be for the grass roots while still supporting the governor,” he said, referring to Lyons.

Or you can be grass root and NOT support the RINO governor.

In his e-mail, Aylward didn’t lobby on Lyons’s behalf or even mention the three men running to succeed Hughes as party chair. Instead, he advocated for an approach that would “strike a blow against all of the crazy left-wingers who want nothing more than to destroy the country we love.”

We don't have those here. We just have looters.

“To crawl out of this darkness, we must always act with the awareness that we are in a war for our beliefs and our country,” he wrote. “Let’s stand by our President, and not be a slave to political correctness. And let’s listen to our constituents and our conscience instead of failed leaders.”

With that I agree, and always will be.


With no oxygen, it's impossible to get a spark:

"Woman survives knife attack by date, who dies after police use Taser" by Travis Andersen and Jackson Cote Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent  December 28, 2018

COHASSET — It started like countless other dates: on Tinder, the popular dating app. That’s how Erich Stelzer, a 25-year-old Cohasset resident, is said to have connected last week with a 24-year-old woman. 

I see. The tasering of a Jewish man is front page news!

It ended Thursday night, law enforcement officials say, when police officers were called to Stelzer’s house around 10 p.m. and found him repeatedly stabbing the young woman.

Was he on any SSRIs?

Officers used tasers as part of their efforts to subdue Stelzer, who was then treated by EMTs but became unresponsive on the way to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to a statement Friday by Norfolk District Attorney William W. Morrissey’s office. The hospital was not identified.

Attempts to reach Stelzer’s family for comment weren’t successful Friday, but his father, Harry Stelzer, posted a photo of his smiling son as an infant to Facebook and said he was overcome with grief. “My Son. Killed by Cops. Here comes the cover up,” he wrote.

I'm sorry someone died, but I had nothing to do with it.

Some people's deaths are more important than others, I guess.

Cohasset Police Chief William P. Quigley referred all questions to the Norfolk district attorney’s office.

In its statement, Morrissey’s office said that when officers responded to a report of a disturbance at 13 Church St., where Stelzer was living, they saw him “actively assaulting a 24-year-old woman with weapons including a knife. . . .  In an effort to rescue the victim and disarm Stelzer, Cohasset police officers used tasers to subdue Stelzer.”

Prosecutors said the woman “was able to escape from Stelzer and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.”

The woman’s condition wasn’t immediately available, and officials did not disclose her name.

She a Jew, too?

An official with knowledge of the case said Stelzer and the woman met last week on Tinder, a dating app used by millions of people nationwide. Representatives for Tinder couldn’t be reached for comment.

Harry Stelzer wrote on Facebook that he learned of his son’s death the night before.

“There was a [violent] confrontation at his house last nite,” the elder Stelzer wrote. “Police came and tased him 4 times. 4 times. He died on the way to the hospital. 25 years old. He was my life. This is not over. Let me bury my dead and then the show begins. Rest In Peace my son. Love you for ever. I am hurting.”

Last January, a bearded, burly Erich Stelzer posted to his Facebook page a photo of himself in workout clothes. A few months later, he posted a message quoting from Aaron Lewis’s song “Country Boy.”

There was no visible police presence Friday evening at the duplex-style home where the alleged attack occurred. No one answered the door. Electric holiday candles in the window were dark.

Mary Burnieika, 48, who lives two doors down from Stelzer’s home, said she did not know him or his mother well.

“I’m just sad that whatever happened happened,” she said. “It’s just awful.”

Dan Tarpey, 63, who lives in the neighborhood, said it was a “huge surprise to look out last night and see the emergency lights.”

Although Tarpey did not know Stelzer, he said he passes by the Church Street home every day when walking his dog.

“It’s a very quiet neighborhood,” he said.....

Except for the screaming.


He is fortunate this isn't Georgia.

UPDATE: Family sought help for man tasered by police while he allegedly stabbed woman

The irony is he was killed by police who were most likely trained in Israel.

Notice how the stabbing is alleged (probably because of the religious persuasion of the perp). I thought you were supposed to believe the woman.

Speaking of quiet neighborhoods:

"‘Better dead than coed’: Deerfield Academy confronts its male-only past" by Kay Lazar Globe Staff  December 28, 2018

DEERFIELD — The slick, student-produced video could be a recruitment tool: a sun-washed campus, nestled in rich Western Massachusetts farmland, featuring students dancing, singing, and living a seemingly idyllic life.

“There is so much to learn here,” says a young man in a green Deerfield Academy cap, looking into the camera. “I’d send my son here for sure.”

Then he pauses, and looks down. “I’d have to think about sending my daughter here, but I’d definitely send my son.”

Another young man states matter-of-factly: “It’s a pretty toxic place for girls.”

Thirty years after boys chanted “better dead than coed” in protest of the school’s decision to admit girls, one of the nation’s oldest and most elite boarding schools remains a place where female students have a sense this is not their Deerfield.

I know someone who works there, and they say it is a great place!

It’s a place, students say, where boys get away with breaking rules that girls can’t. Where girls have been shunned from prime seating at hockey games, and where a letter of apology was punishment enough for groping a girl.

I was going to say maybe they are gay, but the groping disproved that theory.

So female equality is about hockey seats, huh?

Many of these issues are laid bare in a federal sexual discrimination lawsuit, in which a popular former teacher said young women faced unequal treatment in disciplinary hearings and when they filed sexual harassment and misconduct complaints. The ex-teacher, Sonja O’Donnell, alleged she faced administrators’ wrath for years for standing up to the school’s unwritten rule that “boys will be boys.”


Separately, a 2015 graduate told the Globe she is still stunned that a male student who groped her several times in class was only made to apologize in a letter.

“Deerfield had many great professors and I learned a lot,” said the woman, now a senior at an Ivy League college. “But the culture is really backwards.”

The elite don't live in the same world as we do.

Though the student body is split nearly equally along gender lines, inequity is spread across campus and woven into the way of life, according to 17 current and former students, most of whom asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from Deerfield and classmates.

Then they are getting a good ejewkhazion in regard to the world that awaits their leadership and management skills.

Until recently, girls were not welcome in the sought-after upper bleachers at hockey games, long a males-only seating area, and hadn’t been considered for the coveted position of Captain Deerfield, the school’s mascot.

I am glad you girls got your priorities in order. 

I suppose wealth isn't really a concern, huh?

Students and alumni are still chafing over a message earlier this year from Deerfield’s top administrator to “Deerfield girls,” with the subject line of “self worth.” It suggested female students more “carefully consider [their] clothing choices” after visitors to campus were shocked by some girls’ short skirts and high-heeled boots.

The girls are dressing like women of ill repute?

“I wish there was more of an acknowledgment that being a girl at Deerfield is tough,” said one 2017 graduate.

It's not easy being green, either.

The 300-acre campus of red brick buildings and rolling fields, book-ended by a tiny village of 18th-century houses along Old Main Street, seems a quaint outpost. Or as some students describe it, a bubble separated from the outside world.

It's an elite school!

Leaders of the 220-year-old academy say they are trying to shed the vestiges of an all-boys school and deny the allegations in the lawsuit. Drawing on its $590 million endowment, Deerfield hired an inclusion officer and has ramped up antibias initiatives to tackle these issues.

In a statement to the Globe, Deerfield denied O’Donnell’s allegations and said its actions against her — including cutting her pay, barring her from serving as an advocate in student discipline hearings, and not renewing her contract — were “entirely legitimate.” It called discrimination and retaliation “antithetical to who we are and what we teach.”

So she was a troublemaker?

In legal filings, Deerfield said O’Donnell engaged in “multiple incidents of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct,” including aggressively criticizing colleagues and violating school rules in student disciplinary hearings.

A federal court judge ordered portions of the lawsuit, filed last year in US District Court in Springfield, unsealed in the spring, and word of the legal action trickled out until it was featured last month on the front page of the student newspaper, The Deerfield Scroll.

“It’s a big step forward for Deerfield to have this in the open and set a precedent of being transparent,” said senior Joshua Fang, a co-editor-in-chief who wrote the story. “We can’t shy away from uncomfortable conversations if we want to make our school better.”

O’Donnell, an English teacher at Deerfield for 18 years until administrators opted not to renew her contract this year, said the school offers students incredible educational opportunities. She and her husband, Michael O’Donnell, a Deerfield teacher who resigned in August because he said the situation had become untenable, sent their son there and he graduated in May.

“I love Deerfield,” Sonja O’Donnell said. “I have never stopped believing in the potential for that community.”

And she wanted to stay! 

I think we just found the motivation for the lawsuit!

On campus, pictures of Abraham Lincoln and other historic figures line the reception area of the administration building. Two statues, a confident “Deerfield Boy,” books casually slung under an arm, and a “Deerfield Girl,” clutching her books at her chest, still stand in the library.

They need to start reevaluating those guys for racism, sexism, and any other moral, legal, or ethical transgression at any point in their entire lives, and if they are found to have transgressed beyond the bounds of contemporary proprieties their pictures should be removed and their names banished for eternity.

In a 2009 survey, conducted by a consortium of private schools, nearly 90 percent of Deerfield’s 12th-grade girls said boys enjoyed more influence than girls at the school. Some students say things haven’t changed much in the nine years since.

One frustration repeatedly shared by current and former Deerfield students is disparity in discipline.

One 2016 graduate said she and three friends witnessed from her dorm window two drunken, rowdy male classmates, out after curfew, trashing a tent used for graduation luncheons. She said they saw two school administrators march the young men to the campus health center for drug and alcohol testing, but two days later, the boys strode up to accept their diplomas, she said, despite a rule that forbids senior scofflaws from closing ceremonies if they break school rules within 16 days of graduation.

Busybodies that have to ruin the fun, huh?

Shortly after that, an anonymous flier plastered around campus urged young women to stand up against a litany of inequities.

“Rich white boys drank, puked, and broke school property, with video evidence, but were allowed to walk two days ago at graduation,” the flier said.

It described a “cycle of white male power” at Deerfield, unequal punishments for male and female students, and the silencing of female students and teachers who object.

The 2016 flier concluded, “Would you send your daughter to Deerfield?”

That spurred Alexander Guo in his 2017 class video to ask classmates a similar question — one that prompted hesitant answers.

Guo, now a student at MIT, said school administrators tried to confront the concerns, organizing gatherings and classes to combat discrimination.

“I think the school tried to make it more inclusive,” Guo said, “but I guess many felt that didn’t change the fundamental culture of the school.”

Deerfield said it has taken robust steps to tackle these issues, including housing ninth-graders exclusively in a village of dorms to foster healthier male and female friendships from the get-go.

The kids are at least 18 years old, and if that's true, then elementary and secondary schools have failed tremendously in their function of social interaction.

It also said it has added extensive gender sensitivity training and reviewed the selection process for student leadership and faculty positions, with an eye toward gender balance.

“These efforts — and our ability to learn from events like [the 2016 flier and 2017 video] — have allowed us to quicken the pace of positive change at the school,” Deerfield’s statement to the Globe said, but quickening the pace isn’t enough, some students said. A 2017 alum recently wrote a searing letter to school administrators about a male classmate who posted sexually crude, aggressive statements about other female classmates on social media in 2016. She said the young man then sexually assaulted her at a prominent East Coast college in April. She blamed Deerfield’s “toxic” culture and previous hands-off treatment of the young man as directly contributing to her assault.

Why did Bill Clinton just come to mind?

He didn't go to DA, did he?

In her lawsuit, O’Donnell alleges Deerfield has been dismissive of many sexually charged complaints. She lists several between 2011 and 2016 — the details redacted, under court order — in which boys accused of sexual assaults, stalking, bullying, or harassment were allowed to retain leadership positions on campus and escaped punishment, or were quietly issued letters of reprimand.

The secret courts enabled them to flip the script, and it's a good thing there was no sexual predation by professors on campus, 'eh?

Should have gone to Northfield Mount Hermon instead. 

That is where they groom leaders.

One young woman who reported a 2015 sexual assault to the school was told by an administrator that the outcome — no discipline for the boy — was based on “the very difficult choice” between “a boy’s future and her feelings,” according to O’Donnell’s suit.

“I believe a lot of the culture at Deerfield is connected to the way these cases are adjudicated,” O’Donnell told the Globe.

Deerfield’s reckoning has come later than others. As a wave of boys-only prep schools started opening their doors to girls in the 1970s, Deerfield’s trustees twice voted to stand firm, but in the fall of 1989, faced with a declining pool of applicants, Deerfield acquiesced.

It's ALWAYS ABOUT THE FUCKING $$$$$$$$$!!!!!!!!!!

Today, Deerfield enrolls about 650 students in grades 9 through 12. Its $590 million endowment is the fourth largest among more than 300 US and foreign schools tracked by Boarding School Review, a clearinghouse for boarding schools.

With tuition and fees about $60,000 a year, Deerfield draws from a largely affluent applicant pool. Fewer than one out of every five applicants is accepted, according to the school’s website.

Even with the declining pool?

Polished, but pleasant, students may be the images highlighted in Deerfield class videos going forward. After the 2017 video featured several boys and girls voicing hesitation about sending their daughters there, the producer for 2018 said she was told by administrators to keep things upbeat.

“They said remember to make this positive,” said Maya Rajan. “Your [class] wants to go out on a good note.”


Class dismissed!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Up, Up, and Away

See: Into the Wild Blue Yonder

"Stocks rise as Wall Street’s roller coaster rolls on" by Emily Flitter New York Times  December 28, 2018

NEW YORK — Wall Street’s roller-coaster ride extended into Thursday, with stocks staging a late-day recovery as investors turned their attention to fresh data about the US economy.

There were only a few new clues about the economy’s health, and they sent mixed signals.

I'm sick of getting lied to, I mean, getting mixed me$$ages from my corporate pre$$.


"Filings for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest since September, returning to hover near an almost five-decade low and signaling the labor market remains tight after what some economists saw as possible cooling signs...... Filings for unemployment benefits decreased for the third time in four weeks, hovering near an almost five-decade low that reflects a robust job market, Labor Department figures showed Thursday."

At lea$t the Fed's job is safe.

Concerns about the White House’s response to Wall Street’s decline grew last week as President Trump used Twitter to vent his frustration over the Fed’s decision to keep raising interest rates and sought guidance from aides about whether he could fire Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman. Despite the president’s frustrations, a number of White House officials have tried to reassure investors that Powell’s job is safe.

Traders have had their own concerns with Powell, as well. The partial shutdown of the federal government could also begin to wear on investors as they are forced to operate without official data that could help answer lingering questions about the health of the US economy. On Thursday, for instance, a Census Bureau report on new home sales was delayed because of the shutdown.


What would the shutdown have to do with home sales?


"In the woodsy back corner of the 77-acre Hanover Mall, the new owners of the long-struggling shopping center see an opportunity to change its fortunes. It’s not the movie theater that sits there now, or another big box store. It’s housing. If it wins town approval, PREP Property Group, an Ohio-based company that bought the mall in 2016, would sell the land to a housing developer and use the proceeds to blow up the half-century-old indoor mall and turn it into an outdoor-oriented “lifestyle center,” like many of its newer competitors, with hundreds of customers in those apartments, just steps away. “When I heard about their plans, it was like a revelation,” said Ed Callahan, who has managed the Hanover Mall through years of foreclosure, bank ownership, and slumping sales. “We really lucked out with a new owner that saw this place as an opportunity.” It’s the sort of opportunity mall owners are seeing all over Greater Boston these days, and it’s the latest sign of the fast-changing landscape for brick-and-mortar retail......"

Even with mortgage rates being down?

Must be because it is hard for the state to make even limited changes (regarding $ome things, anyway).

Investors got some data to digest Thursday, and it was not encouraging.


A report on consumer confidence by the Conference Board, a business group, showed Americans growing more pessimistic about economic conditions.


"US consumer confidence tumbled this month as Americans began to worry that economic growth will moderate next year, but consumer spirits are still high by historical standards....." 

WTF are they talking about?!!!

In China, officials said industrial profits had declined in November for the first time in three years, a reminder that the growth of the nation’s economy, the world’s second-largest, continues to slow.....

They also talked to a Mr. David Donabedian, the chief investment officer for CIBC Private Wealth Management in Atlanta, and a Mr. Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst for S&P Dow Jones Indices who tracks and catalogs market performance.


"Blip or correction? Tech sector declines leave many investors wondering" by Hamza Shaban The Washington Post  December 27, 2018

Facebook is down 38 percent from its peak. Netflix is down 40 percent. Apple slipped 33 percent, and Amazon 28 percent. Alphabet, owner of Google, is down 19 percent.

The nation’s top-performing tech companies — known colloquially as the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) — have led the sharp US market sell-off over the past few months, which has unnerved most people who own stocks. It’s a far cry from last summer, when the question was whether Apple or Amazon would be the first US company to be valued at more than $1 trillion.

Now the question facing the tech industry — and the millions of ordinary investors with disproportionate exposure to tech — is whether the decline represents a healthy correction after years of gains or more fundamental changes that could limit the sector’s upside in the years to come.

Some analysts argue that the tech sector is being hit by some of the same factors pushing down stocks overall; however, the biggest tech companies are also facing new, more enduring doubts about their future — such as whether they’ll be able to use personal data as profitably as they have, whether they’re getting too big, and whether consumers are growing less attached to their platforms.

Yup, and me gone soon, too. I'm sick of agenda-pushing $pew passing itself off as newz!

The implications are significant.....

Once again they turn to a Mr. Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst with S&P Dow Jones Indices before asking the opinion of David Kass, a finance professor at the University of Maryland.


The FAANGs are out for Facebook.

UPDATE: Stocks finish week by sliding once again

Time to get some food and watch some TV (maybe Musk can help you there):

"Chain restaurants had a tough year, and 2019 looks worse" by Leslie Patton Bloomberg News  December 28, 2018

It’s not going to get much easier for the restaurant industry.

After facing stagnant sales and weak customer traffic in 2018, US restaurants will encounter more headwinds next year, including rising food and wage costs, that may stall profit and hinder efforts to jump-start growth.

Even the industry stalwarts are dealing with such issues in a fiercely competitive and increasingly crowded field. Starbucks Corp. is closing some US locations amid oversaturation worries. McDonald’s Corp., the world’s largest restaurant company, has been tweaking its value offering to stay relevant in the price wars and expanding delivery with Uber Eats to spur sales.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom this year. Amid a stock market rout, restaurant stocks fared better than the broader market, bolstered by a couple of standouts like Domino’s Pizza Inc. and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.

They survived the corporate sabotage over their rejection of GMOs, 'eh? 

Or did they capitulate?

Chipotle, while far from reclaiming its position as a Wall Street darling, is beginning to recover following a string of food-safety issues that damaged the brand.

Here’s a look at issues — both obstacles and opportunities — facing the restaurant industry in 2019.....

I've had enough (puke).


"Massive media company disputes could keep millions of TV viewers from watching football playoffs" by Brian Fung Washington Post  December 28, 2018

Sports fans nationwide may soon find themselves cut off from some of the most anticipated televised football games of the year as massive media and television companies go to war with one another over the programming fees required to air those matches.

Why must my altrui$tic pre$$ frame every issue in the context of war, and do the propagandists, 'er, reporters even know they are doing it or have they self-internalized the values of their masters?

Beginning next week, TV customers on Verizon FiOS and Charter’s Spectrum service could be hit by widespread channel blackouts after the companies’ contracts with major programming giants expire.

Verizon’s 4.5 million TV customers could lose access to ESPN, Freeform, and the Disney Channel and other networks belonging to Disney, as well as ABC affiliates based in Philadelphia and New York, on Dec. 31. Meanwhile, some 6 million Spectrum viewers could miss out on programming from Tribune Media in as many as two dozen markets across the country starting Jan. 1.

The disputes highlight how rising media consolidation in America, along with the pressures brought by cord-cutting, have increasingly turned contract-renewal talks into a high-stakes, winner-take-all affair. As more content has come under the ownership umbrella of a shrinking handful of powerful firms — and with many Americans restricted to just a few cable options — companies now undergo bruising, monthslong fights over content pricing and terms. In November, HBO went offline for Dish Network customers for the first time in the premium channel’s history; the spat remains unresolved.

The contract fight between Verizon and Disney spilled out into the public this week, with both companies sending messages to customers notifying them who will be to blame if a new deal isn’t signed.

Comcast also now offering Amazon Prime, and it's led to higher TV bills.

Disney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but the company is now running ads targeting FiOS customers, urging them to call Verizon ‘‘to keep the networks you are paying for!’’ The ad features logos for key channels and events that could go dark, including the Disney Channel and the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Rose Bowl game. ABC and ESPN are also expected to carry one of the National Football League’s wild-card playoff games and the Pro Bowl.

Time to go one a cruise:

"A middle-aged male former labor analyst at Disney Cruise Line claims his younger female manager created a hostile work environment by bullying him about his age, bragging about sleeping with married men in the office, and passing him over for promotions, according to a federal lawsuit, a scenario that legal experts say is rare, given the genders of the employee and supervisor. Disney Cruise Line said in a statement that the claims are without merit and ‘‘we will respond to them in court.’’

Been a real roller coaster, huh?


NFL playoffs could also become harder to access for Spectrum customers as a result of its dispute with Tribune, according to a company spokesman, because Tribune operates CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates in various markets.

‘‘We want football fans in our markets to be able to watch these games and root for their favorite teams — we want to reach an agreement with Spectrum,’’ said Gary Weitman, Tribune’s senior vice president for corporate relations.

Despite the looming headache for pay-TV subscribers, those with digital TV antennas could still get around a blackout by tuning into broadcast networks directly.....




"The Justice Department urged a federal appeals court Thursday to reconsider AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, arguing that the judge who approved the deal in June misunderstood fundamental economic principles and ignored how AT&T could unfairly extract higher fees from rivals by threatening to black out popular TV channels....."

At lea$t somebody is getting a pay raise:

"Legislative leaders to collect 3 pay bumps in 2019" by Matt Stout Globe Staff  December 28, 2018

State legislative leaders stand to collect not one, not two, but three different pay raises in January thanks to a humming economy and a controversial state law, promising to swell some lawmakers’ paychecks by nearly $12,000 just two years after they awarded themselves a pay hike.

All of the state’s 200 senators and representatives are in line for a $3,700 increase to their base salary and a separate 8.3 percent hike to their office expense accounts, which currently range between $15,000 and $20,000, depending on how far they live from the State House.

Are you flipping kidding? 

This is what they wrote into their own pay raise law, huh?

When they’re sworn in Wednesday, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Senate President Karen E. Spilka — both already among the highest-paid legislative leaders in the countryand dozens of their top deputies will also get a third increase — an 8.3 percent raise to their legislative stipends, the lucrative add-ons the Legislature affords to its highest-ranking officials and committee leaders, and the good economic tidings don’t stop with the Legislature. Governor Charlie Baker is entitled to take home an additional $21,000 on top of his $250,000 pay package, though aides say the Republican doesn’t intend to take the extra pay. Other constitutional officers could score increases of up to nearly $15,000.

I'll get to the governor later, just remember that they gave themselves Christmas bonuses with the pay hike law, and remember all this when the economy tanks and the budget cuts come in about four months.

The windfall for elected officials is, in part, a confluence of two different pay adjustments — one guaranteed by the Massachusetts Constitution, the other newly baked into state law — each designed to tether the pay of the state’s most powerful leaders to changes in the state’s wage levels every two years.

Windfall is unexpected good fortune, and the newly baked law(?) wasn't riddled with loopholes like everything else they pass? 

The fawning sycophant that is called a reporter must not have wanted to get state leaders mad!

The first, a constitutional amendment, ties lawmakers’ base pay to household median income, but gives the governor leeway to set the exact amount of the change. In a letter to state Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg on Thursday, Baker ordered a 5.9 percent increase for legislators, pushing their base salary from $62,550 to $66,250.

For the people who say that's not much for public $ervice, we need to pay to get good people, where are they? That pay is already more than what 75% of what the citizens of this state make.

We would all be better off without the looters of Beacon Hill and Washington D.C.

The second trigger is more complicated. In ramming an $18 million pay raise package into law in early 2017, lawmakers boosted their own compensation by increasing the stipends they could receive, while also hiking the pay of an array of state officials.

I $uppo$e he means overriding Baker's veto, and that certain; looks like a $elf-$erving $hell game of blame.

Oh, yeah, and we know who got f***ed, too.

The Legislature also established a separate process, similar to the mechanism in the constitutional amendment, that ties the salaries of the six constitutional officers and lawmakers’ additional pay to changes in state wages over the previous two years.

That first biennial change under the legislation comes due next week, but while the pay raise package specified what type of federal data on which to base the adjustment, its vague wording did not task a certain office or official with actually determining it.


Goldberg’s office, which handles legislative pay, said Thursday that “by default” it would take on the duty, and determined those pay scales would rise by 8.3 percent in 2019. Chandra Allard, Goldberg’s deputy chief of staff, said the office would apply it to both legislative stipends and expenses, as well as Goldberg’s own salary, which will jump to nearly $190,000.


Allard said the treasurer’s office would share the recommended increase with the other constitutional officers as well, though it will ultimately be up to them whether to accept it.

For the Legislature, the move promises an array of increases.

DeLeo, for example, made $157,500 last year, thanks to his base salary, an $80,000 stipend, and $15,000 in office expenses. After the hikes go into effect, his total compensation will balloon to $169,100 — a jump of $11,600. That same pay package will also welcome Spilka when she starts her first full term as the Senate leader.

Spilka on Thursday defended the increases, noting that the process for meting them out has been in place since early 2017.

Yeah, a proce$$ set up by YOU!

“This law, passed two years ago, created a transparent and standardized method to adjust pay and stipends for constitutional officers and legislators,” Spilka said. “We expect these adjustments to be made, in accordance with the law, through normal payroll mechanisms beginning in the new year.”

How bold of her!

That would be a first for Ma$$achu$etts, too! As the Globe has reported, our public records law is the worst in the nation, everything behind closed doors and secret (what is known as democracy 'roun' h're) with the Speaker dictating how you vote or you lose your chairmanship and parking place.

State Senate President Karen E. Spilka is among the leaders in the state Legislature who will see three pay increases in 2019.
State Senate President Karen E. Spilka is among the leaders in the state Legislature who will see three pay increases in 2019 (Lane Turner/Globe Staff/File).

That's what is known as a $hit-eating grin!

Meanwhile, Stan has been relegated to public access TV appearances.

A spokeswoman for DeLeo did not respond to questions Thursday about the pay increases.

DeLeo did it himself:

In this Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, photo, Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo speaks at a bill signing ceremony at the Statehouse, in Boston. Lawmakers in Massachusetts and other Democratic-leaning states are considering ways to flex their muscles in response to the policies of President Donald Trump. House Democrats have scheduled an unusual caucus for Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, at the Statehouse to discuss a response to "recent actions" by the Trump administration. DeLeo acknowledges that lawmakers have limited power to override presidential directives. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo spoke at a bill signing ceremony at the Statehouse, in Boston (Elise Amendola/Associated Press/File 2016). 

It's the same kind of grin!


"The Massachusetts Senate is teeing up a bill for Thursday designed to extend by months potentially the unemployment benefits for 1,250 workers locked out by National Grid, marking another foray by the Legislature into the heated labor dispute, but the legislation would differ from a bill the House passed this month, albeit with an admitted “error,” underlining a divide between the two chambers in how to respond to workers’ pleas for help....." 

The language was a “drafting error,” and the moratorium has been lifted.

Yeah, the Grid guys have been locked out since June (during which the Colombia gas explosion occurred) and the the Looti$lature still can't get unemployment benefits to them because of an "error" in what they wrote.

How about next time you make an error and rescind this God-awful money grab, you greedy $cum?

Baker — whose veto of the pay raise bill was overridden in 2017 — has said he intends to take the full $250,000 pay package afforded to him under the law in his second term, which includes a $65,000 housing stipend. His salary is currently $151,000. Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who makes $122,000 now, also plans to take her statutorily set $165,000 salary, but both said Thursday that they would not take any additional pay generated by the biennial adjustment tied to state wage levels. For Baker, that could have meant another $20,800, and Polito, an additional $13,700 in annual pay.

RelatedBaker giving Cabinet, agency heads pay raises

Yeah, a nice 5.5 percent rai$e on a Friday afternoon in between Christmas and New Years when the news cycle and public attention span is at its lowest point of the entire year. 

You win reelection around here, you become a money-grubbing $lea$eball (with deep apologies to grubs for use of the term).

Also seeTop Baker aide Jay Ash lands job as CEO of powerful business group

He shouldn't have left!

The state auditor and secretary of state, who under the law can make up to $165,000, would also be in line for $13,700 more through the 8.3 percent increase. Similar to the treasurer, the $175,000 salary afforded to the attorney general would also rise to more than $190,000 — a $14,560 difference.

When lawmakers passed the pay raise package in 2017, only Auditor Suzanne M. Bump took the full pay raise among the state’s six constitutional officers, and each would have to decide whether to accept the new pay as well.

Maybe $he can conduct an audit on her$elf.

Goldberg, for example, declined the initial raise to $175,000 in 2017, but Allard said she would take that salary, and the additional adjustment, when she begins her second term in January.

Why not? 

Everyone else is feeding at the taxpayer trough!

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Maura T. Healey said the Charlestown Democrat will also accept the increase to $190,000 given she “declined to take the midterm raise two years ago.”

Oh, if only women ran government, 'eh?

Efforts to reach aides to Bump and Secretary of State William F. Galvin were not successful Thursday night.

The 2017 pay raise legislation also increased the salaries for the state’s judges and a slew of other officials, from court clerks and assistant clerks to the Suffolk County register of deeds, but it did not bake in biennial adjustments for them as it did for the constitutional officers and legislators.....

At lea$t you now know what the taxes are for.


That's today's big story, and it's getting to be tar and feather time (looks like he was silenced instead, and the Globe isn't asking any questions).

Maybe they can hide from the long arm of the law as they make themselves at home in the barbershop to escape the lynching they would get in China. Maybe some protection will even be provided to keep them from being beaten, although they are the least likely to go to jail.

Btw, whatever happened to the sexual harassment scandal up on the Hill?

Yeah, it's ‘‘almost as if forensics and DNA has let us down,’’ even though we are living through a defining moment in the fight for gender equality,” and you need a bucket-loader to through the $hit in Washington D.C.

"UAE reopens embassy in Syrian capital closed in 2011" Associated Press  December 28, 2018

BEIRUT — The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Syria’s capital on Thursday for the first time in seven years, a reflection of improved relations between President Bashar Assad and some of his Arab foes as the war winds down.

Will someone please tell that to the Deep State and it's mouthpiece media?

On Thursday afternoon, United Arab Emirates charge d’affaires Abdul-Hakim Naimi visited the embassy and witnessed his country’s flag being raised again on the compound in central Damascus.

The move provides a major boost to Assad, whose forces have won a series of military victories in recent years with the help of Russia and Iran. Sudan’s president, Omar Bashir, visited Damascus earlier this month, becoming the first Arab head of state to visit Syria since the start of the war.

He's currently suffering a destabilization campaign at home; however, the military is still backing him.

Did you know that Sudan was one of the world's top supporters of Palestinians?

The United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Ministry said in a statement that ‘‘the step confirms that the UAE government is keen to restore relations between the two brotherly countries back to normal.’’ It added that the move is ‘‘to activate the Arab role in supporting Syria’s independence, sovereignty, unity and safety and prevent the dangers of regional intervention in Syria’s Arab affairs.’’


This comes from one the two primary countries that funded and filled with manpower the terrorist groups that attempted regime change.

What it tells you is that the world is moving away from the neocon war plan and ignoring the EUSraeli Empire.

The United Arab Emirates was a supporter of the Syrian opposition, which is now largely confined to the northern Idlib province after losing its strongholds elsewhere. Some opposition fighters have joined Turkey for an expected assault on Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

The United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Arab supporters of the Syrian opposition view Turkey with suspicion because of its embrace of regional Islamists.

In October, Assad told a little-known Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria had reached a ‘‘major understanding’’ with Arab states after years of hostility. He did not name the Arab countries in the interview, which was his first with a Gulf paper since the war erupted, but said Arab and Western delegations had begun visiting Syria to prepare for the reopening of diplomatic and other missions.

The interview came on the heels of a surprisingly warm meeting between the Syrian foreign minister and his Bahraini counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September. The meeting turned heads because it featured hugs between the two ministers.

Very important because the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain. That's the force that patrols the Persian Gulf.

What if they ask us to leave?

The encounter raised questions about whether the Gulf countries, most of them sworn enemies of Assad ally Iran, are reconsidering their relations with Syria.....

Does that include Saudi Arabia?


Looks like we may be forced (part of the plan?) to get out of Iraq, too! 

That's what makes the AmeriKan Empire different from all others. We don't stay where we are not wanted (or so I've been taught and told). 

Thank you, Superman!

Also seePalestinian families depend on humanity

Good to see the Globe finally recognizing them.


"They’d met for a lunch earlier that fall. The subject of politics had never come up before, but it sure did that day. It emerged that the older woman thought Donald Trump was terrific: smart and ethical and just what this country needed. She talked about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and Benghazi and the “antics” of the Clinton Foundation. The younger woman was appalled. They argued in the restaurant, tried to change the subject, kept returning to the argument. Their hug in the parking lot was strained....."

Yes, what is one to do in the era of Trump?

Yeah, if only women were running the planet:

"Michelle Obama, who’s touring the country to promote her autobiography, was named the most admired woman by Americans in a Gallup poll released Thursday. It’s the first time in 17 years that Hillary Clinton didn’t top the list....." 

Forget that 2020 run.

"Indonesia raises alert level as volcanic eruptions intensify" by Stanley Widianto and Simon Denyer Washington Post  December 28, 2018

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia raised its alert level, widened an exclusion zone, and rerouted flights on Thursday, as eruptions again intensified from an island volcano that triggered a deadly tsunami at the weekend.

A landslide that followed a large eruption of Anak Krakatau on Saturday night sent waves between 6 and 10 feet high crashing into fishing villages and beach resorts on the densely populated islands of Java and Sumatra, killing at least 430 people, but the volcano is still erupting and is almost obscured by huge clouds of ash and lava billowing into the air. Meanwhile, heavy rain and stormy seas have raised fears that the volcano’s slopes could collapse again, potentially triggering a second tsunami.

They are on ‘‘red alert’’ for it, and ‘‘people are advised to keep calm and stay alert.’’

Haven't they been through enough already?

Rain is also hampering search and rescue efforts, while blocked and clogged roads forced search and rescue teams to use helicopters to assess damage, search for bodies, and evacuate people around the village of Sumur near the southwestern tip of Java.

‘‘Our main obstacle is with the weather, but the operation is still underway,’’ said Yusuf Latif, spokesman for Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency. ‘‘We got through to areas that were previously deemed isolated, like the Sumur village and some areas on the west coast of Banten province.’’

The seawaters have left behind a coastline littered with the debris of crushed homes, wrecked vehicles, and fallen trees. They also left dozens of turtles stranded on land, with volunteers helping them back out to sea, Reuters reported.

The tsunami was the third major natural disaster to hit Indonesia this year, after an earthquake killed more than 500 people on the island of Lombok in August and an earthquake and tsunami killed more than 2,200 on Sulawesi in September. It also evoked painful memories of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that struck on Dec. 26, 2004, killing more than 220,000 people in a dozen countries. More than half the fatalities were in Indonesia.....

There was also the recent plane crash.


I couldn't stay silent about Indonesia anymore.


"The fall got colder gradually, scientists said. September was warmer than usual, October temperatures were around average, and November was colder than usual. Extreme rainfall could be a result of climate change, said Don McCasland, Blue Hill Observatory's program director, but the causation is difficult....." 

For some reason, the Globe decide to stay silent on that

I think we all know why; it conflicts with the agenda-pushing narrative.

"A total lunar eclipse in January will showcase the ‘super blood wolf moon’" by Katie Camero Globe Correspondent  December 27, 2018

Astronomy fanatics are in for a treat Jan. 20, when Earth will pass between the sun and full moon to create a total lunar eclipse that will turn the moon’s silvery shine into a blood-red glow.

The perfect celestial alignment will be enhanced by the fact that it coincides with a “supermoon,” which means it will look bigger and brighter than usual. This happens just a few times a year, when the moon comes closest to the earth.

Together, the events will create a phenomenon known as the “super blood wolf moon” — a nod to a Native American term for full moons in January.

Some tribes named full moons based on the behavior of the plants, animals, or weather during that month. The “wolf” moon was named after the wolves that would howl out of hunger in the dead of winter.

The super blood wolf moon will appear in the night sky on the evening of Jan. 20 and last approximately 62 minutes, according to NASA.....

They have been shut down, and this is a BAD SIGN!


The prophecy says the official beginning of World War III will be January 21st.

Do they dare assassinate the president two years to the day of his inauguration?

It's just the sort of mind-f*** thing the string-pulling globe-kickers would do to fuck with us all.

May God protect the President of the United States.


"In a year of conflict and war, it was a moment of conciliation. There never has been a year quite like 1968, with war raging in Southeast Asia and in the streets of America; with assassinations depriving the nation of two inspiring leaders; with a presidential campaign catapulting to power a man who vowed to “bring us together’’ even as his election drove Americans apart......"

That time might as well be on the dark side of the moon.