News Report 3-2-17

COMMUNITY

New Orleans running back Mark Ingram said he and teammates Vonn Bell, Sterling Moore and B.W. Webb were not permitted entry into a London nightclub Monday evening because they were "too urban," ESPN.com reported Tuesday.   Don’t know what’s it going to take to get these celebrity black millionaires to realize wypipo just don’t like us and we need to build something for us by us so we won’t get rejected from their establishments.   Yet also ensure we put those business out of commission by not patronizing them. 

Atliens, this one is near and dear to us;  Traffic jams cost U.S. drivers an average of $1,200 a year in wasted fuel and time, and much more in Los Angeles, the city with the world's biggest rush hour traffic delays, according to a study by INRIX Inc released on Monday(Reuters, “Traffic Costs U.S. Drivers $1,200 a Year”). INRIX, based in Kirkland, Washington, aggregates and analyzes traffic data collected from vehicles and highway infrastructure. The company said the latest edition of its Global Traffic Scorecard report was based on 500 terabytes of data from 300 million sources. While Thailand was the world's most congested country in 2016, according to the study, the United States had the worst traffic among rich, developed economies. Five of the world's 10 most congested cities are in the United States, INRIX found. U.S. traffic congestion is not a new problem, but it could get renewed attention if President Donald Trump pushes for a large-scale infrastructure investment program as he has promised. Chronic traffic jams are a concern for global automakers, and some major cities have begun to limit private motor vehicle access to central city areas. The INRIX study sliced data in different ways. Los Angeles drivers spent an average of 104 peak drive-time hours fighting slow traffic during 2016. That put Los Angeles at the top of the list of cities where drivers spent the most hours stuck in slow rush hour traffic. But on a different measure, time stuck in congestion as a share of all driving, Moscow drivers had it worse.

Seven Baltimore officers were so unfazed by U.S. Justice Department scrutiny of abusive policing that they kept falsely detaining people, stealing their money and property, and faking reports to cover it up, according to a damning federal indictment.  Federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday against seven officers in Baltimore, where a consent decree approved in the final days of the Obama administration obligates police to stop abusive tactics and discriminatory practices, including unlawful stops of drivers and pedestrians.  No sh*t Sherlock, it’s amazing how you can arrest them for corruption but had a hard time arresting them for killing Freddie Gray.  

Barack Obama is turning his new home in the posh Kalorama section of the nation's capital - just two miles away from the White House - into the nerve center of the mounting insurgency against his successor, President Donald J. Trump.  Obama's goal, according to a close family friend, is to oust Trump from the presidency either by forcing his resignation or through his impeachment.  And Obama is being aided in his political crusade by his longtime consigliere, Valerie Jarrett, who has moved into the 8,200-square-foot, $5.3-million Kaloroma mansion with the former president and Michelle Obama, long time best friends.  What’s that saying about having two women in your house?  WTF!!!! 


DOMESTIC

At Donald John’s first address to Congress, the women of the Democratic party wore all white.   The move is a nod to the women's suffrage movement, which encouraged followers to dress in white as a symbol of purity. During last year's election, Democrat Hillary Clinton — the first woman to be nominated for president on a major political party's ticket — was known for wearing white pantsuits during key campaign appearances and also wore all white at Trump's presidential inauguration.

DHS Quietly Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition of Passengers *Exiting* U.S. for flights between Atlanta and Japan for a two month period

A federal audit of Indiana law enforcement found nearly $400,000 in federal asset forfeiture funds went to pay the salaries, overtime, and benefits for its officers, which the law does not allow.

The Trump administration plans to propose a one-fourth to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget, a plan that would end up laying off 20 percent of the agency’s staffers, according to reports.  Trump officials will propose a $6.1 billion for the EPA next year, a $2 billion cut from current levels, according to reports in E&E News and Politico, citing sources.  The agency’s staffing levels would fall to 12,000 workers, from 15,000 currently, according to the reports.An EPA spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

The widow of Joe Biden‘s late son Beau Biden is now dating the former vice president’s other child, Hunter, the New York Post‘s Page Six reports. Hallie Biden and Hunter, 47, began dating after Hunter split from his wife Kathleen, with whom he shares three children: Finnegan, Maisy and Naomi. In a statement to Page Six, Hunter said, “Hallie and I are incredibly lucky to have found the love and support we have for each other in such a difficult time, and that’s been obvious to the people who love us most. We’ve been so lucky to have family and friends who have supported us every step of the way.”

The former vice president and wife Dr. Jill Biden also said in a statement, “We are all lucky that Hunter and Hallie found each other as they were putting their lives together again after such sadness. They have mine and Jill’s full and complete support and we are happy for them.”  Wypipo ish!  Reminiscence of Marilyn Monroe dating the Kennedy boys and almost akin to former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young marrying his friend’s wife after he was widowed. 

There’s no easy way to say this: Americans are not saving for their futures (Alessandra Malito, MarketWatch, “It’s worse than you thought: Americans are drastically under-saved for retirement”).  The numbers for retirement savings already looked discouraging with the average American couple only having put away $5,000, but the situation may be worse: only a third of working Americans are saving money in an employer-sponsored or tax-deferred retirement account, according to U.S. Census Bureau researchers, as reported in Bloomberg. And that’s only if their employers even offer such plans, which, according to this research, only 14% do (and they’re likely large companies). Saving for the future has always been a problem for Americans, but it’s beginning to catch up with them now as life expectancy increases, and savings may have to last a lot longer. The consequences of not saving appropriately could be detrimental: women 65 and older, for example, are working more now than they did 20 years ago, mostly because they can’t afford not to do so. Many experts urge millennials to take note and begin saving as soon as possible, though many have trouble putting money away for such a distant goal and struggle to envision themselves as retirees. Younger workers may also question how to balance their paychecks: saving for retirement is important, but some place higher importance on saving for a home or another financial goal, said John Scott, director of the Retirement Savings Project, part of Pew Charitable Trusts, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit non-governmental public policy organization.

Walmart  (WMT) just took another step toward going completely cashless in its stores.  Executives at the world's largest retailer revealed a new feature to its mobile app that will allow its pharmacy and money services customers to sidestep long lines, TheStreet learned at an event attended on Monday. Whether it's refilling a prescription or wiring money, the onerous tasks of filling out paperwork and checking prescriptions can all be done before stepping foot in the store.  While customers will still have to come into the store to pick up prescriptions and verify payments made through money services, express lanes will be set up, reducing wait times to as little as 40 seconds compared to six to 11 minutes, Walmart estimated. The app and express lanes will roll out to 1,200 locations in March, with expectations of it being introduced to all of 4,700 U.S. stores by the fall.

Ben Carson was confirmed to lead HUD, although Urban policy experts and progressive activists have expressed intense concern about Ben Carson’s qualifications and conservative ideology.

Nearly half of millennials fear their addiction to social media is having a negative effect on their mental and physical health.  A new survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found about 90 per cent of people aged 18-29 were using social media, up from just 12 per cent in 2005.

Twin sisters attempting to apply for driving permits have exposed a flaw in facial-recognition software used by the state of Georgia. The program couldn’t tell the young women apart, so it decided they were the same person.


HEALTH/FITNESS

If you think that chicken sandwich you ordered at Subway did not fully taste like fowl, you may have been right.  According to a Canadian study, a DNA test showed only half of Subway’s oven-roasted patty is made with real chicken.  Subway was among five fast-food restaurants whose chicken the Canadian Broadcast Corporation had tested.

ASTROLOGY/RELIGION
INTERNATIONAL


Due to one of the lowest birth rates in the world (1.5p per family), thanks to the one-child policy, China is now considering offering incentives to its citizens to get out there and ‘screw for China’, a la Denmark.  Good thing Africans do not have this problem.  

The Spanish government has created a new post in an attempt to boost pregnancy rates and halt the country’s declining population. The role of the so-called “sex czar” is to be taken up by Edelmira Barreria Diz, a demographics expert, and senator in the Galician parliament. According to official statistics, Spain recorded a lower number of births than deaths last year, the first time this has happened since 1941.

House and Senate Republicans on Tuesday introduced legislation that would cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority under certain conditions. The bill would halt funding “to the Palestinian Authority if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members,” a release about the measure says.   These Israeli firsters will be the death of their America.   

Member of the US House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard, called for the US to stop aiding terrorists like Al-Qaeda and ISIL, while her guest at the presidential address to Congress, a Kurdish refugee activist, called for an end to the US policy of “regime change in Syria.”  She seems like the only one that has any sense on Capitol Hill.  

Four in five Canadians believe the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel is reasonable, a national survey released Wednesday suggests.  More than half of Canadians polled also oppose their parliament’s condemnation of the BDS campaign, which aims to pressure Israel to respect Palestinian rights and international law, and two-thirds would support government sanctions on Israel.   If this continues to gain traction in Canada, look for a major terrorist attack in Canada by ISIL/ISIS/CIA.   Surely if ISIS can get drones and release press releases they can see that the majority of Canadians polled are with the Palestinians, so there is no need to “bomb” them.  

Sales of Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been banned in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Two of the biggest trade associations in the region called for the boycott in favor of Indian products starting March 1.  The American soft drinks giants have been accused of taking too much water from rivers with local farmers left battling for proper irrigation of the land at the time of a severe drought.

British police are treating the death of conspiracy theorist Max Spiers as suspicious and have reopened their investigation into his death. Spiers was found dead on a sofa in Poland last year after allegedly vomiting over 2 liters of a mysterious black fluid shortly after he had uncovered evidence of an elite pedophile ring.  Must be related to the one that is in Hollyweird

With no solution to the food crisis in Venezuela, some people have begun looking for new strategies to make life easier on those that have to eat trash to sustain.

Controversial Priest and opponent to President Nicolás Maduro’s administration Father Jose Palmar posted on social media this week about labeling discarded waste so those looking through it for food can do so more easily and “with dignity.” Palmar called on Venezuelans to celebrate Lent by identifying bags where food has been discarded for those with nowhere else to turn. That way, they don’t have to dig through non-edible items to find it.  “Try to preserve food waste so that people who eat out of garbage cans can praise the Lord,” Palmar wrote.

ECONOMY/FINANCIAL

US President Donald Trump has hinted that he will bring back the Gold Standard and introduce it as the world’s global currency.

The dollar weakened against a basket of major currencies on Thursday, posting its steepest one-day drop in over two weeks, due to lower U.S. bond yields and uncertainty over the timing of the Federal Reserve's next interest rate increase (Reuters, “Dollar Falls as Traders Weigh Next U.S. Rate Hike”). The greenback posted losses for a second day, retreating further from a one-month high set during a winning streak where it touched a five-week peak versus the euro and a 2-1/2 week high against the yen. Traders have scaled back bets on a looming U.S. rate hike as they concluded Fed Chair Janet Yellen did not deliver enough conviction at her economic testimony before Congress on Wednesday on whether the Fed's next rate increase will come at its March 14-15 meeting. However, she signaled more than two rate increases may be possible this year as the economy approaches full employment and inflation closes in on the Fed's 2 percent goal. "The dollar rally that preceded Yellen's testimony wasn't given more fuel so we are seeing that move fade," said Richard Scalone, co-head of foreign exchange at TJM Brokerage in Chicago. Investors now await for details from U.S. President Donald Trump on possible proposals on tax cuts, looser regulations and infrastructure spending, traders said. "With the spotlight on Trump's policy agenda, the Fed has taken a backseat as their response has become more sensitive to the president's fiscal initiatives," said Peter Ng, senior currency trader at Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, California.


The New York Teamsters Road Carriers Local 707 Pension Fund has won the unfortunate award for "First Pension to Officially Run Out of Money." According to the New York Daily News, and a host of angry former truck drivers who've had their pension benefits slashed, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) has officially been forced to step in and take over payments to retirees of the Local 707, albeit at a much lower rate.  Also on the brink of drying up are the pensions for two Teamster locals — 641 and 560 — in New Jersey, union officials said. Plus 35,000 Teamster members upstate who are part of the money-hemorrhaging New York State Teamsters Pension Fund.   Bigger than all of New York’s Teamster locals combined is the Central States Pension Fund — another looming financial disaster that could leave 407,000 retirees without pensions across the Midwest and South.   I don’t know how long I’ve been reporting on this, but I hope ya’ll are paying attention.   You may want to look at not investing so much into your 401K as this issue is getting worse.   Don’t believe me, check out this next story

CalPERS was threatening to slash pension payments to a group of retired city workers after the Loyalton, California City Council members failed to understand basic pension accounting and the unintended consequences of terminating their plan. Now it seems as though retirees of the East San Gabriel Valley Human Services Consortium may be facing a similar fate after their former municipal employer failed to pay their pension dues.   So as you see this is happening on the East Coast, Mid-West (Detroit) and West Coast.   

Lured by low interest rates, low gas prices, and a crop of seductive vehicles that are faster, smarter, and more efficient than ever before, American drivers are increasingly riding in style (Kyle Stock, Bloomberg, “The Next Financial Crisis Might Be in Your Driveway”). Don’t be fooled by the curb appeal, though—those swanky machines are heavily leveraged. The country’s auto debt hit a record in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, when a rush of year-end car shopping pushed vehicle loans to a dubious peak of $1.16 trillion. The combination of new car smell and new credit woes stretches from Subarus in Maine to Teslas in San Francisco. It’s an alarming number, big enough to incite talk of a bubble. In fact, the pile of debt would cover the cost of 43.4 million Ford F-150 pickups, one for every eight or so people in the country. Another way to look at: Every licensed driver in the U.S., on average, owes about $6,100 in car payments. But the market for cars is a lot different than that for houses. For one, vehicles are a much more fluid asset—they are far easier to repossess and resell. What’s more, car payments tend to be cheaper than mortgages and people tend to use their vehicles a lot, so when it comes time to prioritize bills, the auto loan typically takes precedent over other things. Indeed, delinquencies on vehicle loans, though rising, are still lower than late payments on student loan debt and credit card balances. So preppers getting ready for global economic collapse shouldn’t panic about car payments just yet.

Memo to job-seekers: You've probably got more of a chance walking dogs for a living than teaching kids in the coming decade's labor market. (Rich Miller, Daily Labor Report, “Dog Walkers Will Be More in Demand Than Teachers in Aging U.S.”) That's one of the implicit messages in a new report from the New York-based Conference Board on the changing composition of consumer demand—the main driver of the economy—over the next 10 years. Its focus is on demographics, both the well-known aging of the Baby Boom generation and the less-publicized baby bust that began during the Great Recession as fertility rates dropped. Thus the choice of profession suggested by the business membership and research association's report. Spending on pets is forecast to rise strongly as boomers—perhaps pining for children who have flown the coop—shower their attention and money on new-found furry friends. Outlays on education will lag, though, as the potential student population comprising five- to 24-year-olds grows very slowly due to the downsized, post-Millennial Generation Z.

Macy's stock soared 10% Friday after the Wall Street Journal reported that Hudson's Bay, the Toronto and New York-based parent company of Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, might be interested in buying the iconic retailer.  A source familiar with the matter confirmed to CNNMoney that an offer has been made but that discussions are still in preliminary stages.

Shares of Sears (SHLD) surged more than 30% in early trading Friday after the company, which also owns struggling Kmart, announced plans to cut at least $1 billion in operating costs a year and reduce its debt and pension obligations by $1.5 billion. (The stock was up as much as 50% in premarket trading.)   Sears also said it has amended an existing deal with creditors that will allow it to borrow $140 million more. That will help Sears as it closes more stores and tries to invest more in its online retail operations.


Office Depot Inc. expects its sales to be lower in 2017 than they were in 2016, according to an annual report released by the company Wednesday.

The Boca Raton-based office supplies retailer (Nasdaq: ODP) reported $11 billion in sales for fiscal 2016 ended Dec. 31, a six percent decrease compared fiscal 2015. However, the company made major gains in net income, which rose to $531 million for fiscal 2016 compared to $183 million in the prior year period. Multiple reports say the company’s earnings exceeded analysts’ expectations.

Foot Locker closed 51 stores during the fourth quarter the retailer said Friday. It plans to close 100 in 2017. 

CVS Health is in the process of closing 70 stores due to uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act. Office Depot closed 123 stores in 2016 and expects to shutter 75 more in 2017.  Abercrombie & Fitch closed 54 stores in 2016, mostly in the U.S.

The figures below show that, since the late 1980s, about 80 percent of the value of the market has been held by the top 10 percent. Within that top 10 percent, the share of stock wealth held by the top 1 percent is about equal to the share held by the 90-99th percentiles; both groups’ shares are twice as large as the share that the entire bottom 90 percent holds.

Snap (SNAP), the parent company of Snapchat, will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday amid strong investor demand -- but more than a few doubts about its business. The company priced its initial public offering at $24 a share Wednesday, above its previously proposed range of $14 to $16 a share. At that price, Snap has a market value of about $24 billion.  Snap is the biggest U.S. tech IPO since Facebook (FB, Tech30), which went public with a $104 billion valuation in 2012. In fact, Snap will be worth twice as much as Twitter (TWTR, Tech30)'s current market cap.  "The demand for the Snap IPO has been very, very strong," says Jeff Zell, an analyst with IPO Boutique, a research firm. There was enough investor interest for Snap to raise its IPO price more, according to Zell, but it likely wants to see the stock pop on the first day of trading.  Investors are flocking to buy up Snap shares even with some significant red flags

The White House hinted, last week, that it may crack down on states that have legalized recreational marijuana.  Marijuana industry experts hope a new jobs prediction report might take the target off of the legal pot business. According to a report from Frontier Data, marijuana-related jobs are set to outpace manufacturing jobs in the United States by 2020. The report estimates over the next three years, legalized marijuana will create 300,000 jobs. Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in the United States, and the booming business there has created 20,000 jobs as well as providing a boost to ancillary businesses. "With the new industry comes all the support services, which is why there is such a huge multiplier effect every time a new cannabis market opens," said Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. That job growth prediction is based on just the 28 states that currently have marijuana legalized in some form, and not states which may legalize in the coming years.

A prominent 47-year-old hedge fund trader was killed when he jumped from a luxury apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side, in an apparent suicide, authorities told the NY Post.  Kevin Bell, most recently head of Credit Risk at Arrow grass Capital, jumped from a ninth-floor kitchen window at the Apthorp building on West End Avenue near West 79th Street around 7:20 a.m. He landed on scaffolding that was set up in front of the building and was pronounced dead at the scene.  Bell left a note indicating he had been depressed, the source said. He had a history of depression, the source added.  According to the NY Post, Bell left behind a wife and two daughters. His family was at home when he jumped, according to the source. “The family is hysterical. He was under a lot of meds.  Beside the possibility he was on anti-depressants, I wonder what the real deal was,  was it the economy?

Two months into the city’s sweetened-beverage tax, supermarkets and distributors are reporting a 30 percent to 50 percent drop in beverage sales and are planning for layoffs. One of the city’s largest distributors says it will cut 20 percent of its workforce in March, and an owner of six ShopRite stores in Philadelphia says he expects to shed 300 workers this spring.

The boycott against Target over its bathroom policy is costing the retailer more than anybody expected, as a record share price plunge and weak sales drive the big-box retailer to the brink of financial collapse.  In April last year after Target announced that it would welcome transgender customers to use any bathroom or fitting room that matched their gender identity.

Fidelity Investments on Tuesday said it is offering voluntary buyouts to 3,000 of its longer-tenured workers, the first program of its kind for the Boston money manager.  The firm on Tuesday began offering buyout packages to employees who are at least 55 years old and have been with the firm for a minimum of 10 years, a spokesman confirmed. The packages were offered to 6.7% of Fidelity’s 45,000 employees globally.  Payouts as part of the buyout program can range from six months of salary to more than two years for senior and longer-tenured staff. The offers include base pay and a special bonus. The buyouts are expected to be effective at the end of June and employees have several weeks to consider the offer.