Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Breaking News: HBO to launch Internet-only service next year

Los Angeles Times | October 15, 2014 | 8:16 AM
HBO announced today that it will break the cable TV bundle by offering its service directly to consumers over the Internet in the U.S. beginning next year.

HBO is currently available only to subscribers of pay-TV packages. But growing competition and changing consumer behavior has forced HBO's hand.

"It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO," CEO Richard Plepler said at an investor conference in New York. "In 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States."

More soon at www.latimes.com/cotown.

Here Are Five Facts from the White House Report on Millennials

Today, the Council on Economic Advisers released a new report that looks at the so-called "Millennial" generation. And while you might think that this group of Americans -- mostly in their mid-20s -- is all about smartphones and mason jars, you'd be wrong.

The report comes ahead of President Obama's visit with Los Angeles entrepreneurs, technologists, and creatives -- and it takes a close look at the trends and circumstances that have shaped Millennials. It finds a generation shaped by transformation, that came into its own in the midst of the financial crisis, but is also more diverse and educated than any other generation.

Here are some of the most interesting facts from the report:

Millennials are now the largest, most diverse generation in the U.S.

They're shaped by technology, value creativity, and are innovative (see, founders of Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr).

More Millennials are going to college, especially women. But when you couple that with rising tuition, they're also left with an ever-increasing share of the student loan debt burden.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they are much more likely to have health insurance without being job-locked.

Millennials are moving into urban areas and they're paying rent. They're less likely to own a home during their 20s than previous generations.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/10/09/here-are-five-facts-white-house-report-millennials?utm_source=snapshot&utm_medium=email&utm_content=1092014-topper

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Why the Middle Class Gets Screwed—My Short Sale Taught Me How the Rich Really Think

I was taught growing up to “keep my word” and that your handshake “meant something.” Yet businessmen and individual wealthy people make decisions that are far less moral than a short sale. People “incorporate” so they can avoid legal responsibility for individual actions. It works great. You can stiff creditors, declare bankruptcy, pollute daily and raid pensions to enrich individual executives. If it all goes wrong, like it has so often for Donald Trump, you can keep your mansions and individual fortunes. It is no accident that the best-paid CEO in America has never made a dime for the company. If regular Americans acted like corporations and the moneyed class, our country would collapse in a week from systemic theft, corruption and greed.

I always knew business was getting over on me, but I had no idea the extent until I started looking to short-sell. I first learned all I could about private home financing. I called up some shady investment groups around town and questioned them at length. I didn’t end up using them, but they were frank, informative and unashamed.

“Who would pay 11 percent on a home loan?” I asked.

“Rich people,” said “Bill” from the legal loan-sharking company. “The rich have terrible credit.”

Rich people = bad credit: Just let that sink in.

Bill told me in roundabout ways that rich people never pay a bill if there is any way around it. If something goes wrong in an investment or a business, they always preserve their own assets first.

Most Americans are clueless about business and finance. Instead, we are a caste of customers. We consume short-term predatory lending, school loans that can never be discharged, inflated mortgages, high-interest credit cards, fast food and overpriced automobiles. We “invest” in basic IRAs, doomsday prepping or Ponzi schemes. The worst part is that no matter how much money we gain or lose, the investor class always gets paid.

During the same five- or six-year period my house value tanked, I also lost tens of thousands of dollars in retirement accounts. At the same time, my “money manager” collected a fee day after day, month after month. Since he is the dealer of America’s crack-based stock market, he got paid regardless of performance.

Middle-class Americans just aren’t the same species of human as the wealthy, but we refuse to even discuss the class issue in America. “Class” is for the British, even though the U.K. now has more upward mobility. There have been many great essays and movies about the parallel but unequal capitalist systems in America. There exists a baffling, byzantine maze of corporate and personal benefits enjoyed by the super-rich and investment class both indecipherable and unavailable to regular people.

Lest I be accused of “sour grapes,” because I’m not rich, let me be clear. I live what used to be a middle-class life. We vacation every year without fail, own a home and live in a nice neighborhood. My hands stay clean at work. Of course, it could all crumble tomorrow, but for the moment, I’m a “winner” of some kind. Because I’ve reached some small level of financial stability, I’ve had the time to look around and see how utterly broken the system has become for most people.

Living a middle-class life is an impediment to meaningful change. We are taught that we have everything we should dare to expect and capitalism has “worked” for us. Middle-class people are also urged to hate poor people, and those who cannot or will not work. They are the “other,” the moocher class. Poor people are the reason you haven’t gotten a raise in five years or that your house is worthless or that your company only gives you one week off a year. Those who have something detest those with nothing. We’re letting rich people get away with fleecing America, while turning our rage on poor people.

When you examine it, you cannot blame the rich for the oligarchy we’ve become or for what looks more and more like the return of Dark Age feudalism. Rather, the blame lies with my fellow work-a-day slobs who vote for politicians and policies that favor investment and wealth over the work of regular people. Middle-class Americans are self-flagellating and dispirited over their own lack of wealth, as if it were a character flaw. At the same time, they fall for the deception that everyone can be rich when, of course, most people lack the connections, education and plain old luck to even get close.

I can uncover an individual’s actual potential for wealth with one easy test: If you equate business opportunity with a multilevel marketing scheme, like Amway, you will never be rich. If that doesn’t work, just ask yourself if you think you’ve got a shot at winning the lottery. If the answer is “yes,” you will most assuredly die poorer than you are now.

Read full story:
http://www.alternet.org/economy/why-middle-class-gets-screwed-my-short-sale-taught-me-how-rich-really-think?page=0%2C2

North Carolina GOP Senator/Candidate Accused Of Welfare Fraud


The word 'fraud' is becoming a bitter pill for the North Carolina GOP to swallow this week. After the alleged voting fraud committed by the Koch brothers via AFP/Americans For Prosperity, there is now a welfare fraud allegation against Republican candidate, Senator Wesley Meredith. This from the Conservative party extremists that basically call America's poor, unemployed, and welfare recipients, 'lazy, undeserving, benefit-sucking, scum of the earth.'
North Carolina's ABC11.com reports:

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, (Republican) party chair Linda Devore said the Cumberland County GOP looks forward to Senator Meredith refuting the allegations made Tuesday by his opponent, (Democratic) Fayetteville attorney Billy Richardson.
On Tuesday, Richardson released a load of Meredith's public and private financial and public assistance documents. They indicate Meredith and his ex-wife, Elizabeth Meredith, received welfare in the late 1990s. At the time, the couple earned annual incomes in the six-figure range.

The linked article above is the GOP trying to save face. Of course, Meredith called Richardson's document release a 'below the belt' personal attack. That said, Meredith has not denied the allegation.

This story follows news of a new Republican Koch Brothers investigation for allegedly sending out false, misleading, and confusing voting information to hundreds of thousands of NC residents.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/02/1333798/-North-Carolina-Senator-Wesley-Meredith-Accused-Of-Welfare-Fraud-And-He-s-Not-Denying-It?detail=email

WTF...Arizona Teacher Fired for Breaking up Racist Bullying of 4th Grader


25 year veteran Elementary Teacher Pam Aister was fired this week by the Fountain Hills Arizona School District after breaking up an incident of Racial Bullying by Four Students against one other.

“He was called the n-word, ‘monkey’, and ‘coon,’ Aister told KNXV.

Ainster told KTAR-FM that she also said to the group, “If you’re picking on him, you’re picking on me. It’s not five against one, it’s five against two, and there will be no more taunting, teasing or racial names.”

But parents of the alleged offenders claim that Ainster used abusive language telling them to "shut up" and that one had an "ugly face", an allegation that Ainster denies. In the end the School Board, following the recommendation of their attorney, voted to terminate Ainster on the basis of reports from the parents.

Isn't it an interesting world, assuming Ainster's claims are essentially true and even that the counter claims against her are valid, where a pack of bigoted bullies can rely on their parents to protect and escalate their bullying in order to remove a teacher whose primary crime was to stand up against their racist taunting - even if somewhat vehemently - in order to protect and defend a vulnerable child?

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/02/1333771/-Arizona-Teacher-Fired-for-Breaking-up-Racist-Bullying-of-4th-Grader?detail=email

Friday, September 19, 2014

10 Republican Red States That Mooch off Coastal Liberal States

One of the most hilarious talking points coming from far-right Republicans and the Tea Party is that when “red states” like Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana are asked to bail out California or Massachusetts, that’s when they will finally become “fed up with socialism” and secede from the Union once and for all.

The problem with that meme is that it has no basis in reality: the more prosperous and Democrat-leaning areas of the United States are likely to be subsidizing dysfunctional “red states,” many of which are suffering from insufficient tax revenue and an abundance of low-wage workers who don’t have much to tax. Tea Party Republicans like to point out that poor cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Camden, New Jersey are run by Democrats, but they neglect to mention that some of the most affluent parts of the United States—from Manhattan to the Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area to Cambridge, MA to Seattle to Chicago’s North Shore suburbs—are dominated by the Democratic Party. People in those heavily Democratic areas pay a lot of federal income taxes, and quite often, their tax dollars go to red states.

1. Mississippi: Mississippi was receiving $2.47 from the federal government for every dollar it was paying in.

2. Alaska: Alaska receiving $1.93 from Uncle Sam for every dollar paid in.

3. Alabama: Alabama receives 37% of its revenue from the federal government and receives $3.28 for every dollar it pays in federal taxes.

4. Louisiana:Louisiana receives $3.35 from the federal government for every dollar it pays in; 44% of Alabama’s funding, WalletHub says, comes from Washington, DC.

5. Indiana: Indiana receives $2.01 from the federal government for every federal tax dollar it contributes and receives 33% of its funding from Uncle Sam.

6. Montana: Montana’s intake from Uncle Sam was $1.92 for every dollar paid.

7. South Carolina: South Carolina was receiving $1.92 from the federal government for every federal tax dollar it was contributing.

8. West Virginia: West Virginia receives $2.22 for every dollar it pays.

9. Tennessee: Tennessee, according to WalletHub, receives $1.64 from the federal government for every federal tax dollar it contributes—and WalletHub notes that 41% of Tennessee’s funding comes from Uncle Sam.

10. Kentucky: Kentucky receives $2.39 from the federal government for every dollar it pays.

Data shows that these hypocritical GOP-leaning states are likely to be the biggest recipients of federal tax money.

http://www.alternet.org/10-republican-red-states-mooch-coastal-liberal-states?page=0%2C3&akid=12263.255017.kiI5lF&rd=1&src=newsletter1019911&t=2

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Outbreak of virus affecting children reaches California

Los Angeles Times | September 18, 2014 | 1:18 PM
Four cases of a virus that can cause severe respiratory illness in young children -- especially those with asthma -- have been identified in California, state health officials announced today.

Officials confirmed three cases of enterovirus D68 in San Diego County and one in Ventura County.

The illnesses marked California’s first 2014 cases of a virus known to have infected 153 people in 18 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the latest information go to www.latimes.com.

Home Depot data breach: 56 million payment cards put 'at risk'


me Depot Inc. said an investigation found that a data breach exposed about 56 million payment cards, part of a cyber attack that trumped even Target's massive hack last year.

The home improvement chain said hackers built unique malware to penetrate the company's systems between April and September. In comparison, Target's data breach compromised 40 million credit and debit card accounts over a period of about three weeks.

"The malware had not been seen previously in other attacks," Home Depot said in a Thursday statement. "The hackers' method of entry has been closed off."

The Atlanta company said the malware has been removed, security has been tightened at its U.S. stores and any terminals with malware have been removed.

Friday, September 12, 2014

An Untapped Force in the Fight for Literacy


People disagree, quite strenuously, on the best curriculum for teaching children to read. But all participants in the reading wars agree on some other things: Early reading is crucial — a child who does not read proficiently by third grade will probably fall further and further behind each year. American schools are failing: two out of three fourth graders don’t read at grade level.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/an-untapped-force-in-the-fight-for-literacy/?_php=true&_type=blogs&partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

OjO....Heat Alert Issued for Valleys, LA Basin

Triple-digit heat is likely through Monday for Southern California valleys

Brown Signs Bill Guaranteeing Paid Sick Leave for California Workers - California Healthline

On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a bill (AB 1522) that requires a minimum of three paid sick days per year for employees who work 30 or more days in a calendar year, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 9/10).

http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2014/9/11/brown-signs-bill-guaranteeing--paid-sick-leave-for-calif-workers

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lawsuit Claims Sushi Rice Sold To California Restaurants Tainted With Rodent Soiling, Black Mold

Attorney Brian Kabateck discussed flush with CBS2’s Elsa Ramon.

“The rice is adulterated with what’s called flush in this industry,” Kabateck said. “And flush in the industry is anything that is not supposed to be in the rice.”

In the lawsuit, Farmer’s Rice Cooperative is accused of selling the tainted rice to thousands of grocery stores across California.

Particularly, the names New Variety, New Rose and Imperial Rose are associated with the bad rice.
The complaint alleges the company would “allow substances, such as insects, rodents and their soiling, bird remains and black mold to be present in its processed rice.”

Later, the complaint claims that restaurant and store owners were led to believe they were buying U.S. No. 1 Extra Fancy rice.

What they received, however, according to the complaint, was not edible.




http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=10568097

Friday, August 29, 2014

Something to think about....Ferguson and the cult of compliance


The protests in Ferguson, Missouri, set off by a policeman’s shooting of an unarmed black teen last week, appear to be spinning out of control — not because crowds are rioting nightly but because law enforcement is operating as though they are in a war zone. Peaceful protesters are facing nothing short of a domestic army, armed with military equipment, waiting for a provocation.

As the protests progressed, the police have used noncompliance, or the failure to obey their every order, as their justification for whatever violence came next. That’s also the excuse that the police used to explain why an officer shot Michael Brown. They said the incident started because Brown didn’t comply with an order to move, so it is he who is to blame.

What happens if you don’t comply when the police give you an order? What rights do you really have? How free are you, really, when the authorities have weapons pointed at you or when they have the right to draw a weapon and use it with relative impunity?

Over the past few years, I have been tracking the rhetoric that police and other authority figures use to justify all kinds of violence. In cases that seem very different, separated by factors such as age, race, gender, sexuality, geography, class and ability, police explain away their actions by citing noncompliance. They do it because it works. They do it because according to their beliefs, any sign of noncompliance is an invitation to strike.

To fight back, ordinary citizens need not only to push specific reforms but also to transform the culture of law enforcement.//

It’s a link that needs to be made. In the vast majority of cases, especially those involving young black and Latino men, police can punish someone for noncompliance with impunity, and because of deeply entrenched racism, little is done in the way of reform. But when someone is disabled or unwell, violent police action reveals itself as what it is: disproportionate, crude and uncalled for. It is therefore imperative to consider the two situations side by side and integrate them into a broader discussion about how the police treats people who, for whatever reason, do not comply with their every whim.//

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of similar examples in which noncompliance led to violence. Ersula Ore, a black woman in Arizona refused to hand over her ID and was flung to the ground. A drunk woman in Skokie, Illinois, didn’t look into the camera when being booked, so the police threw her onto a bench, breaking her face. They claimed she was resisting arrest.

Fixing the problems will involve working on racism in police departments across the country, enforcing bans on chokeholds, all kinds of better training and building a national mental health system focused on care rather than incarceration. Mandatory cameras are a good idea too. Let’s treat all these symptoms but keep our eye on the disease that’s causing them.

The public must stop blaming these events on bad cops or bad departments. Too many people are willing to accept that because being a cop is risky, they have to punch, shoot or tase at the slightest provocation. Such attitudes enable the cult of compliance.

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/8/ferguson-police-shootracismcompliance.html

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

California passes law mandating smartphone kill switch


Smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen.

The demand is the result of a new law, signed into effect on Monday, that applies to phones manufactured after July 1, 2015, and sold in the state.

While its legal reach does not extend beyond the state’s borders, the inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the U.S. and around the world.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2598680/california-passes-law-mandating-smartphone-kill-switch.html