1 week from today - Louisiana Senate - Cassidy vs. Landrieu

Louisiana Senate - Cassidy vs. Landrieu

Comment: Landrieu will fall


It's Lumens not Watts

What are Lumens?


Watts measure the amount of energy required to light products, whereas lumens measure the amount of light produced. The more lumens in a light bulb, the brighter the light.
Comment: Nice deal on Woot today (image below)

Remembering the Sand Creek Massacre - The Sesquicentennial

My Great-Great-Grandfather and an American Indian Tragedy


As dawn broke over the eastern Colorado prairie on Nov. 29, 1864, a hastily assembled regiment of volunteer U.S. cavalrymen approached their target: a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho wintering on Sand Creek. Somewhere in the ranks rode my great-great-grandfather William M. Allen. His commander, a fiery former Methodist preacher, reminded the men of previous Indian attacks against settlers. “Now boys,” he thundered, “I shan’t say who you shall kill, but remember our murdered women and children.” Over the next nine hours, the troopers slaughtered up to 200 people, at least two-thirds of them noncombatants, then mutilated the dead in unspeakable fashion. The Sand Creek Massacre scandalized a nation still fighting the Civil War and planted seeds of distrust and sorrow among Native Americans that endure to this day.
Comment:One of the darkest elements of United States history. Other links: here, here, and here


Escape from "the mob"

Police: Driver who lurched into crowd was 'attempting to flee from the mob'


The driver who lurched into a south Minneapolis intersection packed with Ferguson protesters was “attempting to flee from the mob” when he ran over and slightly injured a 16-year-old girl as others were atop the hood of his car, police said Wednesday. The driver, a 40-year-old man from St. Paul, was questioned moments after the incident late Tuesday afternoon on eastbound E. Lake Street at Minnehaha Avenue S., and Minneapolis police said Wednesday that the case “remains under investigation.” The man was not arrested, and no charges have been filed. A few hours later, the man’s mother said in an interview that he was coming home from work and “didn’t even know what was going on” when he encountered the crowd of several hundred blocking the intersection. The girl who was run over by the horn-blaring Subaru station wagon was taken by emergency responders to Regions Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, police said. “The victim’s vehicle was damaged by a large group of people,” reads the report released Wednesday by police. “While [the driver] was attempting to flee from the mob, he struck a pedestrian. State accident report filed.” The report lists the driver as a “victim” and the injured girl under the “other” category. Much of the scene, unfolding within a few steps of the Police Department’s Third Precinct headquarters, was captured on a Star Tribune video. Additional aerial video from KSTP-TV, Channel 5, shows that the driver had paused behind a vehicle stopped in front of it, and then steered to the right around that vehicle and drove slowly into the crowd that was blocking the intersection. There were three people on the hood of his car as he knocked down the girl.
Comment: Our own drive home yesterday - a police presence was on our route. Re the girl being "other" ... you could have said "stupid"


Chuck Schumer states the obvious: "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform."

Chuck Schumer: Passing Obamacare in 2010 Was a Mistake

Sen. Chuck Schumer upbraided his own party Tuesday for pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010. While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies "are and will continue to be positive changes," he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession. "After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," Schumer said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform." The third-ranking Senate Democrat noted that just about 5 percent of registered voters in the United States lacked health insurance before the implementation of the law, arguing that to focus on a problem affecting such "a small percentage of the electoral made no political sense." The larger problem, affecting most Americans, he said, was a poor economy resulting from the recession. "When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, 'The Democrats aren't paying enough attention to me,' " Schumer said. The health care law should have come later, Schumer argued, after Democrats had passed legislation to help the middle class weather the recession. Had Democrats pushed economic legislation, he said, "the middle class would have been more receptive to the idea that President Obama wanted to help them" and, in turn, they would have been more receptive to the health care law. Schumer said he told fellow Democrats in the lead-up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act that it was the wrong time to pass the law.
Comment: Image source. What was wrong: \

Black Leadership needed in Ferguson case

Obama's Split-Screen Appeal Lost in Ferguson's Anger


It will be an image that may endure beyond Barack Obama's tenure: The president calling for calm on one side of the TV screen; the scene in Ferguson, Mo. escalating with sirens, smoke, flash grenades, and furious residents on the other. Obama emerged into the White House Briefing Room shortly after 10 pm ET, a little more than 90 minutes after prosecutors in St. Louis County announced that a grand jury had voted to not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the summer shooting death of Michael Brown.
Comment: More: Ferguson grand jury decision: Brown's death should be call to action not violence
Where is the black leadership now that a grand jury has decided not to indict the police officer that killed Michael Brown? Where is Al Sharpton? He advertises himself as a spokesman for the best interests of black America. But he is absent. Where is Jesse Jackson, another popular media personality who says he speaks for black America? He’s missing in action, too.
Example of incendiary speech: "Michael Brown's Stepfather Urged Protesters To "Burn This Bitch Down" After Grand Jury Announcement".

Helpful leadership: "A sunrise prayer vigil and dozens of clergy marching in the streets here Tuesday was a stark counterpoint to the destruction and looting that took place Monday night just miles away in Ferguson. Pastors in bright orange vests led a calm protest with more than 100 people here, blocking a few intersections and ending up in front of the building where the county prosecutor announced Monday evening that a grand jury wouldn’t indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old on, Aug. 9."


"Wealth is being spread with little to show for it"

More Redistribution, Less Income - Obama has spread the wealth, but the poor and middle class haven’t benefited.


On taxes, Mr. Obama often claims that the rich don’t pay their “fair share,” yet the most affluent one-fifth of taxpayers on average supplied 68.7% of federal revenue for 2011. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which last week updated its statistics on the U.S. distribution of income and taxes for 2011 and preliminary calculations for last year. As for the top 1%, they funded 24% of everything the government does in 2011. The CBO also estimates that the end-of-2012 fiscal cliff deal that lifted the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, plus ObamaCare’s taxes on high-income individuals, increased their average federal taxes by 4.3 percentage points to 33.3% of income. The Warren Buffett minimum-tax rule asserted that no millionaire should pay an effective tax below 30%. Mission accomplished. This has long been the reality of the highly progressive U.S. tax system, but the bigger news in the CBO numbers is that wealth is being spread with little to show for it. According to the CBO, the lowest 60% of earners all collect more in benefits on average than they remit to the Treasury. Yet even the supposed beneficiaries of Mr. Obama’s policies ended up with less in 2011 than 2007.
Comment: See also A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%. Image source:
...  the “fair share” phrase is just a fancy way of dressing up an argument that poses that someone else’s money is yours. It’s the adult version of two toddlers fighting over a toy. There’s no true “fair share” just dozens of ways to divvy up the spoils of a population.

Millennials, Budweiser, and the craft beer problem

Bud Crowded Out by Craft Beer Craze - Faded Beer Brand Unhitches Clydesdales in Favor of Fresher Pitches to Young People


The wall behind the bar at Jake’s Billiards has 69 taps offering beer choices that range from California’s Lagunitas Fusion 22 to Natty Greene ’s Buckshot, which is brewed across town. The last tap in the long row belongs to Budweiser, and it is about to be removed. ... The self-proclaimed King of Beers is more of an afterthought among young consumers at Jake’s and bars across the U.S.: Some 44% of 21- to 27-year-old drinkers today have never tried Budweiser, according to the brand’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. Young drinkers aren’t the reason Budweiser volumes have declined in the U.S. for 25 years, from its nearly 50-million-barrel peak in 1988 to 16 million barrels last year. Light beers like its sister, Bud Light, have chipped away at Bud’s share of the market for decades. Bud Light overtook it as the No. 1 selling beer in 2001, and Coors Light displaced it as No. 2 in 2011. Craft beers and flavored malts like AB InBev’s Lime-a-Rita have contributed to a 9% decline in shipments since then.
Comment: Image source. I find the tastes of Millennials interesting. Out: Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, Bud, etc cetera. In: Panera, Chipoltes, Stella Artois, et cetera.


"Serial": The Hae Min Lee murder case

Time Magazine: Family of Adnan Syed Reacts to ‘Serial’ Podcast


Millions have become obsessed with a 15-year-old murder case thanks to NPR’s “Serial,” a podcast from the team behind “This American Life” that explores a real-life mystery week-by-week. At the center of the case is Adnan Syed, who was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee when he was still in high school, and has been in prison ever since. Though Adnan plays an important role on the podcast and is interviewed in almost every episode, his family has refrained from publicly commenting on the show, until now. Adnan’s brother, Yusef Syed, spoke to CBS This Morning about Serial for the first time Thursday.

Appeal in the case of Adnan Syed, subject of popular podcast 'Serial,' ongoing 


As the true-life mystery podcast "Serial" continues to captivate millions, an appeal attempting to throw out the life sentence of the convicted murderer at the story's center is winding its way through court. The Maryland attorney general's office and state prosecutors were granted an extension last week to offer opinions on whether Adnan Syed received effective legal counsel when he was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1999 killing of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.


Comments: I've listened to 3 episodes. Interesting stuff. I've drawn no conclusions about the case. The above website has additional materials: maps, et cetera. 


"John Wyclif" takes bullet saving FSU student

The library book that saved my life: Student shows off pages that stopped gunman's bullets


A student believes a book he was carrying in his back pack saved his life during a shooting at a Florida State University library. Three people were wounded in the attack by gunman Myron May, a lawyer and school alumnus, who opened fire at 12.30am on Thursday morning. He was then shot dead by police outside of the Stozier library which was full of students studying for their exams. Jason Derfuss was walking out of the building when he was shot in the back. However he did not know he had been hit until his roommate emptied his bag at home. He found bullet holes in two of the books he had checked out just minutes before the rampage.
Comment: The book John Wyclif (Great Medieval Thinkers). My wife is a FSU grad.


Imagine a Return to "Normal" Interest Rates

Charles Schwab: Raise Interest Rates, Make Grandma Smile - With the Fed’s near-zero policy, households headed by someone 75 or older have lost $2,700 annually in interest income.


Normalized interest rates are also good for the economy broadly. Total short-term interest-bearing assets are today close to $11 trillion. Based on that, a 1% increase in interest rates will generate over $100 billion in increased income. And there is ample room to raise rates. Today the one-year return on a CD is just north of 1%. In a more normal environment, the annual return on a one-year CD has been about 6.15%. As interest rates begin to normalize, increased personal income will drive spending, economic growth and jobs. Will more historically normal interest rates have negative impacts on others? The cost of homeownership may be higher and borrowing in general will be more expensive. But these costs are largely born by middle-class and higher-income families and they will see that impact lessened over time through inflation. But is it fair that seniors subsidize cheaper credit for others? Most people wouldn’t think so

Long-Term Interest Rates Have Been This Low Only Twice In The Last 214 Years


As of the close of business on Tuesday, long-term US Treasury bonds were yielding 2.83%. The long-term Treasury composite rate is a combination of bonds that aren't due or callable within 10 years. This rate is historically low. And if you mentioned that yields are "historically low" to most folks on Wall Street, they would likely say that they know that. But here's some context. This chart, via Credit Suisse, shows the long-term composite rate on US Treasury bonds dating back to 1800.
Comment: Image is screen capture from 2nd article.  With rates as low as they are,  there is little incentive to save.


Al Sharpton's Tax Dodge

Questions About Sharpton’s Finances Accompany His Rise in Influence


Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses. And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees. With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful. Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters’ private school tuition.
Comment: If NYTimes artcile won't load, also here. Image source.  Just for fun ... images of Al and Obama together.

I'll be there in a "punct" (and other weird time terms)

10 Little-Known Units of Time

  • Atom: about 1/6th Of A Second
  • Ghurry: 24 Minutes
  • Lustre: A Period Of Five Years
  • Mileway: Amount Time It Takes To Walk One Mile (20 minutes)
  • Nundine: A Period Of Nine Days
  • Punct: In Medieval Europe A Punct Was A Quarter Of An Hour
  • Quadrant: A Period Of Exactly Six Hours
  • Quinzième: a period of 15 days
  • Scruple: In the early 17th century scruple also came to be used as another name for 1/60th of a degree of a circle (i.e. one minute), 1/60th of a minute (i.e. one second), and 1/60th of a day (i.e. 24 minutes).
Other interesting links on time:

What Is Greenwich Mean Time?
Decimal Time: How the French Made a 10-Hour Day

Will Ford's aluminum-bodied F-150 drive their stock? I think so!

Review: 2015 Ford F-150

Excerpt "the lightweight metal is also an indicator of a better truck":

Despite aluminum’s cost premium over steel, Ford kept price increases for its F-150 to less than $500 in some cases, but that doesn’t temper the shock of just how expensive full-size trucks have become. We drove a low-spec four-door XLT model with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, cloth seats, rear-wheel drive, and relatively few creature comforts that carried a sticker price of $42,875. That’s a problem that doesn’t plague just Ford, but the entire full-size-truck segment. If you’re going to spend that kind of money on a truck, though, the F-150 best justifies its price. Its aluminum body and bed mark a sea change in an industry that so often drifts with the current. Just as aluminum often indicates top-shelf beer these days, the lightweight metal is also an indicator of a better truck
Truck Wars: The Ultimate Question Facing Ford Motor Company's 2015 F-150


It appears that consumers are indeed ready to accept an aluminum-bodied truck. It only appears that Ford's 2015 F-150 is too far advanced because its competition is so far behind. Make no mistake, this is a huge gamble on Ford's part, and it could become a huge and costly mistake -- but if Ford executes the launch flawlessly and consumers follow through on their interest, it could be a huge win.
This chart shows huge gains ahead for Ford


The stock appears to be targeting a return to its 52-week highs at $18.12 per share, he said. “Ford continues to look very bullish here technically,” Newton said. “It looks very good.” Despite a large pullback in the stock over the summer, Ford’s stock held what Newton sees as a long-term uptrend in place since 2008. The stock’s low at $13.26 in October tested the uptrend and coincided with the 50 percent retracement level of the stock’s 2012 to 2014 rally. It subsequently bounced from there.
Comment: 5 years ago (July 2009), in one of my first stock trades, I bought 100 shares of Ford for under $ 7. Image source is screen capture from Ford

Yet another "Preparing for Retirement" post

5 Issues to Face Before You Retire


  1. Do a rough draft of your retirement budget
  2. Determine your post-retirement investment plan
  3. Start making plans for your new living arrangement
  4. Give yourself a health checkup
  5. Make a plan
Comment: Our three legged stool ... IRAs, 401Ks (to be rolled over into IRAs), 2 pensions, and social security. It is coming together. I was doubtful just 5 years ago. On the above points:

  1. Do a rough draft of your retirement budget: We basically have this in place because we track everything.
  2. Determine your post-retirement investment plan: I think that in the early years, we will be able to continue to save but at a reduced rate. We have a plan on the remaining roll-over from 401Ks to IRAs
  3. Start making plans for your new living arrangement: Our plan is to stay in our existing home for at least two more years. We continue to shop condos but not ready to make that move yet.
  4. Give yourself a health checkup: Need to lose weight. Working on it.
  5. Make a plan: This is in flux. I am going to have a lot of free time I will need to fill. On the travel front, we would like to get away to Florida or Arizona for 2-3 weeks every Winter


The Have and Have Nots of Apple Pay

Is It Time to Cut Bait on Banks Excluded from Apple Pay?

Current Apple Pay entities are American Express, Bank of America, Barclaycard, Capital One, J.P. Morgan and Chase, Citi, M&T Bank, BofA's Merrill Lynch, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions Bank, US Bank, BofA's US Trust, USAA and Wells Fargo. The books are not closed on Apple Pay. Apple itself has said it has 500 institutions in its queue. Some will come aboard in 2014, probably in the next four weeks, several sources said. But those sources -- executives in credit card processors who are working to get customers enrolled -- have controlled optimism. Some figure just a few dozen will be added before the year closes.

... roughly 12,500 institutions are excluded from Apple Pay. Such institutions may be in trouble. Chris Stulpin, a senior vice president at Pennsylvania-based Capital Markets Group, wrote in a recent research report, "Apple Inc. has potentially handed a major competitive advantage to the largest U.S. banks at the expense of their smaller counterparts.”
Comment: Image capture from CapitalOne360 website


Riot Time?

Ferguson Steels for More Unrest

Walk down West Florissant Avenue, and the scars of the summer are still there. The door and display window of a beauty supply store remain covered with plywood; a glued-up poster, “Beauty Town Is Back,” is the one hopeful sign of the life inside. A cellphone store, too, still has the plywood up from when riots and confrontations with the police shook this neighborhood. And the Family of Faith Baptist Church uses its billboard to proclaim, “Join us as we pray for peace.” But few are expecting peace as this St. Louis suburb prepares for a grand jury decision, expected in the next few weeks, on whether to indict the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in August, inciting months of protests and putting Ferguson at the center of a national debate over the police and race. Here, where heavily fortified police officers faced the demonstrators and the nights sometimes turned violent, even those shopkeepers who put in new windows are boarding up again.
Comments: Image source. Seems predictable. One group doesn't get their own way ... violence and destruction is resorted to.

Will SCOTUS ruling on King v. Burwell be "nail in coffin" for Obamacare?

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Health Law Subsidies - Challengers Argue Affordable Care Act Only Permits Tax Credits on State-Run Exchanges
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review whether consumers can receive subsidies through the Affordable Care Act for insurance purchased through a federal exchange, taking up a key piece of the Obama administration’s health-care law. The move puts before the high court one of several cases over the subsidies. The justices accepted a challenge from Virginia that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., had rejected. The Fourth Circuit in July found in favor of an Internal Revenue Service rule extending tax credits to lower-income Americans who purchase coverage through the federal insurance exchange. Conservative groups, seizing on wording in the Affordable Care Act, have sued, arguing the subsidy is limited to people who buy insurance through state-run exchanges. Federal exchanges are in place in more than 30 states that haven’t established their own exchanges.
Comment: See The real threat to the ACA
A lawsuit known as Halbig v. Burwell has been winding through the courts, and if plaintiffs succeed it could mean the elimination of federal subsidies for as many as 7 million people covered under the program by 2016. It could still take a year or two for the legal maneuvering to play out, and the case could ultimately land at the Supreme Court. The thing to know is that this is a sleeper case with potential ramifications more serious than anything likely to get through Congress during the next two years.
Comment: Image source

Several updates (on 11/8):

The "Big Apple" REITs

Investing In New York City REITs

New York City’s real estate market includes some of the most high-profile properties in the world. It is also one of the most expensive in which to invest (and why so many residents are renters). If you can’t afford to invest directly in New York City’s real estate market there are several publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) that can give you exposure.
Comments: The stock symbols: NYRT, ESRT, SLG. Links to sites: Empire State Realty Trust, Inc., New York REIT, SL Green Realty Corp.


Remembering Stephen Goldfarb

Stephen M. Goldfarb - May 26, 1939 - July 14, 2014

Obituary for Stephen M. Goldfarb:

Stephen “Zaidie” Goldfarb, age 75 of St. Louis Park, passed away July 14th . He is preceded in death by his parents Aleck & Lillie Goldfarb and son Yechezkel. Survived by wife Barbara “Bobbie”; children Michael (Karen), Leah, Alex (Leela) and Alena; grandchildren Lily, Isabel, Jacob, Kayla and Eva; siblings Mace (Audrey) Goldfarb, Charlene (Jon) Baskin and Betty Gee; many loving nieces, nephews, other relatives and dear friends; David Rosenthal. His legacy to all of us is love and laughter. Funeral service 2:00 p.m. TUESDAY at the UNITED HEBREW BROTHERHOOD CEMETERY CHAPEL, 70 ½ at Thomas Ave. So., Richfield. In lieu of flowers memorials are preferred to Southern Poverty Law Center or Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Mpls. SHIVA, 5700 West Lake Street, St. Louis Park.
Comment: Attorney Goldfarb represented me in my court case stemming from my arrest nearly three years ago. He ably defended me. Thoughts and prayers to his widow and family! Image source.


The 'Overcriminalization' of John Yate's 3 shredded groupers

Something Fishy in Sarbox Land - How many groupers does it take to expose federal overreach and a flawed law gone wrong again?


On Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing argument in Yates v. United States. Since the case turns in part on the fate of missing fish, the court’s decision to take it up has been easily mocked in some quarters. But there’s nothing frivolous about this dispute. Fisherman John Yates, accused of hiding some of his catch from officials, has been charged with violating the Sarbanes-Oxley financial reform act and could have spent 20 years in prison. Yates presents the Supreme Court with the opportunity to slow down the overcriminalization of America. The ordeal of Mr. Yates began in 2007 on his commercial fishing boat, the Miss Katie, in the Gulf of Mexico. During a routine stop at sea to measure the size of his catch of several thousand fish, fish-and-game officials counted 72 alleged undersized grouper. Three days later, a count by agents at the dock found only 69 grouper. Mr. Yates was eventually charged under the anti-shredding statute of Sarbanes-Oxley. Specifically, the Justice Department claimed that Mr. Yates had knowingly “altered, destroyed, mutilated, concealed, covered up, falsified, or made a false entry in a record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede or obstruct an investigation.”
Post-Enron Law Snags Fisherman - Supreme Court to consider whether case represents 'overcriminalization.'


A Gulf Coast fisherman, caught in the wide net cast by a post-Enron financial fraud law, will ask the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 5 to reverse his conviction for destroying undersized red grouper. The facts of John Yates' case read like either a tale of the one that got away or of prosecutors run amok. But underlying Yates v. United States is a purported "overcriminalization epidemic" that has united the nation's business community with the criminal defense bar against the federal government and a tool designed to prevent the destruction of evidence. "It's an issue that brings people together from all walks of the political spectrum," said William Shepherd of Holland & Knight, who filed an amicus brief for the criminal defenders. "John Yates got caught up in it, but it could just as easily have been your cousin or your mom." Overcriminalization at the federal level is "definitely a problem," said Kevin Walsh of the University of Richmond School of Law. "But it's also a problem to have the judiciary giving artificially narrow constructions to deliberately broad provisions, especially when they relate to evidence destruction." The story began on a summer day on the Gulf of Mexico, with Yates' boat, the Miss Katie, six days into the commercial harvest of red grouper. A federally deputized state fish and wildlife conservation officer boarded for a routine inspection. Federal law requires harvested red grouper to be at least 20 inches in length. The officer found 72 grouper measuring between 18 3/4 and 19 3/4 inches. He issued a civil citation for harvesting undersized fish and ordered that they be separated so that they could be destroyed when the boat returned to dock. Two days later, the boat docked and an inspector remeasured the fish. After finding discrepancies in the count and the measurements, he suspected they were not the same fish he had set aside at sea. A crew member later told federal agents the captain had directed the crew to throw the original undersized fish overboard and to catch others — apparently also undersized — to replace them.
Comment: Too many laws! Too much Federal reach! See You Commit Three Felonies a Day. Image source. Screenshot from 2nd article and the fish in question.

Republicans win Alaska's Senate Seat

Sullivan lead holds in Alaska U.S. Senate race; Begich won't concede


Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan appeared to grab an insurmountable lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich early Wednesday, with all of Alaska's precincts reporting. With results from all 441 precincts counted, Sullivan led 49 percent to 45 percent. The margin remained essentially the same from the first returns early in the evening. Speaking just after midnight at his election night party in a packed ballroom at the Hotel Captain Cook, Sullivan praised his supporters and told them: “We are taking back our country!” “We’re still going to be respectful of the process,” Sullivan said. But he nonetheless touted Republicans’ successes in Senate races across the country Tuesday, and to hearty cheers, he proclaimed that the party had sidelined Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate. “We’re going to take back America, the land that we love,” Sullivan said, as the crowd erupted in chants of “USA! USA!” Shortly before midnight, Begich’s campaign issued a statement saying he wouldn't be commenting on the race until all the rural Alaska precincts were counted.
Comment: Official Election Results

Herbalife's Funny Numbers - Avoid this Stock! Avoid it Altogether!

Pyramid scheme or not, Herbalife is tanking


So far this year, Herbalife's shares are down about 43% -- including a roughly 20% drop Tuesday (as of this writing) after the company shocked investors with a bad quarterly report and a pessimistic view of the future Monday.
Where does Herbalife find 1.9 million new distributors a year? 80% of the company’s “net sales” are generated outside of the United States, so it’s safe to assume that the bulk of the recruiting is going on overseas as well


Second, I can tell you that consumers are largely ignorant of the truth behind multi-level marketing. I have been researching and educating consumers on MLM for more than 8 years, most notably on my anti-Mary Kay Cosmetics site Pink Truth. I continue to be astounded by the number of intelligent, otherwise savvy consumers who can be drawn in by MLMs. These scams have perfected “overcoming objections” and convincing people to sign up and part with hundreds or thousands of dollars. And multi-level marketing companies try their best to shut up any dissenters or truth-tellers. While Herbalife as a whole has not collapsed over the last 30 years, individual markets have. And this demonstrates the precarious nature of pyramid schemes. They collapse from within before the company as a whole collapses.
Comments: Direct link to extensive PPT presentation. Image source. Stock quote.


Why CurrentC Is Like The Three Stooges

CurrentC And The Big Merchant Mess


Whoever said there’s no such thing as bad PR obviously wasn’t on the receiving end of the whooping that Rite Aid, CVS and CurrentC took last week over their decision to turn off support for Apple Pay in their stores. It’s unlikely that anyone thinks that the coverage last week had even the tiniest glimmer of goodness associated with it for any of those guys. Wait, I take that back. It did actually popularize the new CurrentC brand name. Everyone now knows that CurrentC is the name of the mobile payments scheme that won’t let consumers use Apple Pay at their favorite retailers. Unfortunately, for CurrentC, this is also the story that just won’t die, and in fact is now riding a fever pitch. If anything, the invite-only press briefing mid-week only made matters worse for them as contradictions and vagaries were in abundance. And, that only caused the media, now totally dialed into this story, to dig in even more. In particular, the claim made by CurrentC’s CEO that its merchants can do what they want, at the same time they are bound contractually and exclusively to CurrentC’s in-store mobile payments scheme was only slightly more hilarious than the tease that it might include general purpose payments cards in its wallet one day
Why The USA Today Says CurrentC Is Like The Three Stooges


USA Today has weighed in on the Apple Pay MCX CurrentC issue and is not pulling any punches. MCX seems to be what would have happened had “the Three Stooges had been given the assignment of introducing a new and safer way for consumers to pay at some of the biggest retail stores.” For those who don’t know, the Three Stooges was a popular American comedy team popular from the 1930s through the 1960s and were essentially known for broad slapstick, including poking people in the eyes and lots of violence. In short, the comparison is not likely to be seen by MCX backers as a compliment. (Then again, it could also offend some hardcore Three Stooges fan, so it works for many things.) The argument that USA Today made is that Apple Pay has been well received, is easier to use than CurrentC and is likely more secure. But the column is not solely arguing that CurrentC will not do well. It is arguing that it CurrentC will never even launch. “The odds that you’ll ever see CurrentC rolled out nationally are slim to none,” penned columnist Jefferson Graham. The fact that MCX has already been attacked by cyberthieves—who grabbed data from E-mail—gave the columnist his strongest talking point. “The new iPhones have built-in NFC (near field communication) chips that talk directly to pinpads near the cash register. Put your credit card information into the Passbook app on the iPhone for Apple Pay. Wave the phone at the pinpad, and secure the transaction with your fingerprint from Apple’s TouchID. CurrentC doesn’t work with credit cards. You heard me. This mobile payment system connects your checking account, and MCX says the advantage is it can add in coupons and loyalty information from the retailers,” the column said. “But those free airline miles that millions of consumers have come to love from their credit cards, which encourage them to make big purchases? Nah, not at our store. Instead of fingerprint technology, CurrentC uses the clunky QR code system, an idea whose time has yet to come. To register, you have to give MCX your social security number and banking information. And, the system has already been hacked. Would you trust these folks with your info?”
Comment: See CurrentC Is The Big Retailers’ Clunky Attempt To Kill Apple Pay And Credit Card Fees and Analysis: Retail's answer to Apple Pay probably doomed.I shopped for the CurrentC app for my IPhone and the reviews were terrible. 


The Minnesota 8th District - One of the most expensive congressional races in the Nation

Negative ads propel, repel votes in tight 8th District race Excerpt:

As Democrats paint Mills as a rich party boy who's more concerned about his hair than helping the working people of the 8th District, Republicans are portraying Nolan as a big spending, gun-seizing liberal who doesn't care about veterans. "So when it comes to our Second Amendment freedom don't be fooled. Rick Nolan is nothing but a poser," says an announcer in an ad by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. Another, by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accuses Nolan of causing layoffs by voting to keep a tax that is part of the Affordable Care Act. "Rick Nolan's what's wrong with Washington," an announcer says.
In the final days of closest race, Nolan, Mills battle for every last vote Excerpt:

The district now ranks second among all U.S. House races for outside cash pouring in, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A recent Star Tribune analysis showed that independent groups have pumped more than $12 million into ads, mailers and other efforts to influence the outcome. The nation’s top politicos have beaten a path to northern Minnesota, with Vice President Joe Biden praising Nolan’s leadership at a rally in Hibbing last week. On Friday, National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Rep. Greg Walden turned up in this dusty industrial suburb of Duluth to thank Mills supporters. Once a DFL stronghold, the Eighth has morphed into more of a swing district. Voters here bounced longtime Rep. Jim Oberstar in 2010, replacing him with Republican Chip Cravaack. That lasted two years, and in 2012 — a presidential year — voters swung back to the DFL, electing Nolan. This time, every major national political forecaster is calling the race for the Eighth a tossup. Days ago, national political expert Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia went further, becoming the first to change the race to “lean Republican.” A win for Republicans here would be a blow to Democrats, and strong GOP turnout could affect the races for governor, senator and control of the Minnesota House.
Comment: Not a clue of how this will go - but will be watching closely.