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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,368

Journal Archives

As Evergrande Teeters, Chinese Media Walks a Fine Line

Officials want to avert public panic about the property developer’s financial woes. But they also want to send a message to spendthrift corporations.

As China Evergrande Group teeters on the edge of collapse, videos of protesting home buyers have flooded social media. Online government message boards teem with complaints and pleas for intervention to save the huge property developer. The hashtag “What does Evergrande mean for the real estate market?” has been viewed more than 160 million times on one platform.

But if trouble threatens for China’s economy, you wouldn’t know it from reading the country’s front pages.

The name “Evergrande” has barely been mentioned by top state-run news outlets in recent weeks, even as the company’s uncertain fate has rattled global financial markets. Coverage of its recent troubles has been concentrated in a handful of business publications.

Only on Friday did the country’s central bank comment on the company by name, more than a month after anxiety about its debt crisis began lighting up the Chinese internet — and then only to say the situation was under control.


Exxon tells Texas refinery workers lockout will end if contract approved or union removed

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp on Sunday told workers at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery their six-month lockout will end if they ratify the company's contract offer or remove the United Steelworkers union (USW) as their representative.

"As we have told the Union, the conditions which would end the lockout remain the same: the company will end the lockout when we have a signed, ratified agreement," Exxon said in a message posted on-line.

"This has not changed, and anything said to the contrary is untrue. Additionally, if employees were to decertify, the company would return employees to work."

Decertification is the process to remove a union from representing employees at a given location. The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is reviewing a petition signed by at least 30% of the locked-out workers that could lead to a vote to decertify USW Local 13-243 in Beaumont as their representative. No date for a vote has been set.


Writing "Eleanor Rigby"

How one of the Beatles’ greatest songs came to be.

My mum’s favorite cold cream was Nivea, and I love it to this day. That’s the cold cream I was thinking of in the description of the face Eleanor keeps “in a jar by the door.” I was always a little scared by how often women used cold cream.

Growing up, I knew a lot of old ladies—partly through what was called Bob-a-Job Week, when Scouts did chores for a shilling. You’d get a shilling for cleaning out a shed or mowing a lawn. I wanted to write a song that would sum them up. Eleanor Rigby is based on an old lady that I got on with very well. I don’t even know how I first met “Eleanor Rigby,” but I would go around to her house, and not just once or twice. I found out that she lived on her own, so I would go around there and just chat, which is sort of crazy if you think about me being some young Liverpool guy. Later, I would offer to go and get her shopping. She’d give me a list and I’d bring the stuff back, and we’d sit in her kitchen. I still vividly remember the kitchen, because she had a little crystal-radio set. That’s not a brand name; it actually had a crystal inside it. Crystal radios were quite popular in the nineteen-twenties and thirties. So I would visit, and just hearing her stories enriched my soul and influenced the songs I would later write.

Eleanor Rigby may actually have started with a quite different name. Daisy Hawkins, was it? I can see that “Hawkins” is quite nice, but it wasn’t right. Jack Hawkins had played Quintus Arrius in “Ben-Hur.” Then, there was Jim Hawkins, from one of my favorite books, “Treasure Island.” But it wasn’t right. This is the trouble with history, though. Even if you were there, which I obviously was, it’s sometimes very difficult to pin down.

It’s like the story of the name Eleanor Rigby on a marker in the graveyard at St. Peter’s Church in Woolton, which John and I certainly wandered around, endlessly talking about our future. I don’t remember seeing the grave there, but I suppose I might have registered it subliminally.


Ivermectin frenzy: Despite warnings, doctors assist Florida patients with anti-parasite drug

An Ocala doctor writes 20-30 prescriptions per week. A Tampa-based pharmacy has supplied 'alternative COVID drugs' to more than 150,000 patients.

In recent months, Dr. John Littell has seen a surge in new patients at his offices in Ocala and Kissimmee. Word has gotten out around the state and beyond that he's willing to help people get their hands on ivermectin.

There’s currently insufficient evidence from clinical trials and observational studies to prove the anti-parasite drug treats or prevents Covid-19, according to the drugmaker's website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

A top official with the Food and Drug Administration has advised doctors not to prescribe the drug, calling it a potentially “tragic mistake.”

But Littell, a family medicine physician for more than 30 years, said he doesn’t trust the vaccine or information disseminated by the federal government. He writes between 20 to 40 prescriptions for ivermectin a week — some via telemedicine — to patients across the nation.


Doctor doesn't trust the vaccine or information disseminated by the federal government, but doctor trusts what's out on the internet. His patients need to find a new doctor.

Tarpon Springs teen identified as suspect shot, killed by police officers

Alexander King, an 11th grader at Tarpon Springs High School, was pointing an Airsoft rifle at passing vehicles when he was shot Saturday night, police said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating after an officer-involved shooting in Tarpon Springs that left a 17-year-old boy dead, according to the Tarpon Springs Police Department.

The boy who was shot and killed by officers Saturday night was identified during a news conference Monday as Alexander King, an 11th grader at Tarpon Springs High School.

Police said they received several calls Saturday evening about a white male walking down Pinellas Avenue/U.S. 19 Alternate and pointing what appeared to be an AK-style rifle at passing vehicles.

When officers arrived at the southeast corner of the intersection of U.S. 19 Alternate and Tarpon Avenue around 9:30 p.m., they spotted King on the northwest corner of the intersection. King pointed the gun at them and at several occupied cars on the road, according to police.


Sounds as if the kid was pretty messed up, but I'd like to know why his parents weren't around.

Another phony Republican campaign about a fake 'issue'

In theory, campaigns are supposed to be about what happens after they’re over: Candidates debate issues and present agendas, voters decide which person and program they prefer, and then the one who wins has to follow through and deliver what they promised.

In Washington, we’re seeing Democrats wrestle with the complications of governing as they try to pass something resembling the agenda President Biden ran on. Meanwhile, across the Potomac in Virginia, we’re seeing why Republicans don’t have to worry about that kind of struggle. They’ve run so many campaigns built on pandering, outrage, and phony “issues” that are forgotten the moment the campaign is over that the very idea that the way they govern should have something to do with the way they ran is a joke.

The Virginia governor’s race has been swallowed up by angry school board meetings and critical race theory. That’s the main dish in Republican Glenn Youngkin’s campaign, along with side orders of Trumpist voter fraud pandering and mask mandate hysteria.

Youngkin has followed a familiar pattern for Republican candidates. A wealthy businessman from the corporate wing of the party gets its nomination, in what could signal a campaign aimed at swing voters. He then decides the race will turn on enthusiasm from the base, so he transforms himself into an imitation culture warrior. A new issue emerges, one that promises to produce rage and fear among GOP voters. Burying any semblance of integrity he might have had, he embraces its potential for demagoguery and fearmongering.

Then if he wins, the issue on which he built his campaign is immediately forgotten.


The G.O.P.'s Race to Out-Trump the Trumpists

The midterm elections are approaching, and the Republican Party is heading into them with the former President as its leader.

Anyone in need of a warning about what the 2022 midterm elections could bring might consider what took place last month at a candidates’ forum sponsored by the Republican Women of Coffee County, Alabama. Katie Britt, a contender for the Republican nomination to replace Senator Richard Shelby, who is retiring, was asked if she had supported Roy Moore in the 2017 special Senate election. Moore is the Constitution-defying judge who was accused of sexually pursuing teen-age girls; he denied the allegations, but lost to the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones. “I have never supported or voted for a Democrat in my life,” Britt said, but added, “I also think it’s important to stand with women.” That hedged response appeared to provoke the next candidate to speak, Representative Mo Brooks, who accused her of lacking party loyalty. “We are a team,” he said. “We have a belief system.”

What was most notable in this exchange was Britt’s reply: she accused Brooks of being the disloyal one. “Every single time, I voted for Donald Trump, and stood with him,” she said. “That wasn’t the step you took.” During the 2016 Presidential primaries, Brooks initially supported Senator Ted Cruz. But the congressman is now best known for the speech he gave at Trump’s January 6th Save America rally, in which he told the crowd that the time had come for “kicking ass.” At a more recent Trump rally, he warned of “godless, evil, amoral socialist Democrats.” Trump has enthusiastically endorsed Brooks, and has derided Britt, who once served as Shelby’s chief of staff, as an unqualified “assistant” to a “rino.” Britt has the backing of Alabama’s business establishment, yet she apparently thought that her best move was to try to out-Trump an unapologetic insurrectionist.

She’s not the only one. Earlier this month, Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, a purported establishment figure who, at eighty-eight, is running for an eighth term, came onstage at a Trump rally in Des Moines. “If I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got ninety-one per cent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart,” Grassley said, grinning. The number he cited came from a Des Moines Register poll, which also found that Trump’s favorability rating was forty-eight per cent among Iowa independents. A CNN poll last month indicated that, nationally, seventy-eight per cent of Republicans believe that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected President. Increasingly, they seem to expect their party’s candidates to agree.

With the Senate divided fifty-fifty, just to maintain a status quo in which Biden’s agenda depends on the whims of Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, Democrats need to concentrate on holding on to Mark Kelly’s seat, in Arizona, and to Raphael Warnock’s, in Georgia. (Both men won in special elections, and are seen as vulnerable.) Or they need to pick up seats, perhaps in North Carolina or Pennsylvania, where the incumbents are retiring, or in Florida, where Representative Val Demings is challenging Marco Rubio. In the House, the Democrats’ margin is just eight seats, and midterm voters tend to turn against the party of the incumbent President. At the moment, Biden’s approval rating has dropped to forty-three per cent. The task for Democrats could hardly be more crucial: so much depends on so few seats—including, possibly, another Supreme Court appointment.


Toyota, Stellantis to Build EV-Battery Factories in the U.S.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Car makers accelerate push into the American electric-vehicle market as President Biden toughens fuel-efficiency standards

Toyota Motor Corp. and Jeep parent Stellantis NV said separately Monday they would build battery factories in the U.S., the latest in a string of big-ticket investments by auto makers looking to sell more electric cars.

Stricter fuel-efficiency targets set by the Biden administration, combined with broader efforts around the globe, are pushing car companies to spend tens of billions of dollars collectively on new factories for EVs and the batteries to power them.

Toyota said it planned to spend $3.4 billion through 2030 to build electric-car batteries in the U.S. Previously it said it would spend roughly $9 billion building battery factories around the world as part of a $13.5 billion battery plan that includes research, but it hadn’t specified how much would be spent in the U.S.

Toyota didn’t present a full breakdown on the U.S. spending, but it said it and an affiliated company would spend $1.29 billion on a new battery plant. The plant aims to start production in 2025.

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/toyota-stellantis-to-build-ev-battery-factories-in-the-u-s-11634551200

Looks like Toyota is doing a slight backtrack on its hydrogen fuel cell commitment.

John Eastman isn't going away quietly

John Eastman isn’t going away quietly.

Today, Eastman is notorious as the author of a legal memo asserting that Vice President Mike Pence could delay election results from seven states, potentially creating a pathway for President Donald Trump to “win” the 2020 election. But when I first met him, in 2010, he didn’t seem like a budding seditionist. Back then, the former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was running an uphill campaign to become California’s attorney general and came across as just your average eccentric law professor.

It was a mistake to write off Eastman then. And tempting as it is to dismiss him as a threat neutralized with Trump’s removal from office, it would be an even bigger error to write him off now.

Because Eastman, 61, has plans. Ever since Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, “Peril,” surfaced his election memorandum, his legal reasoning has been widely criticized. But it isn’t stopping him from using the law to advance his agenda. Along with his former Chapman University law-school colleague Anthony Caso, Eastman has founded a new firm in Orange County called the Constitutional Counsel Group. (Eastman and the Chapman University law school, where he was once dean, parted ways after Jan. 6.)

Eastman says he expects to be the “tip of the spear” on litigation over the separation of powers, using lawsuits to challenge executive-branch overreach — such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration directives related to covid-19. The executive branch, his theory goes, is acting in areas that it can’t, absent laws passed by Congress. It’s an interesting take from the guy who suggested the vice president had authority to block Congress from certifying official state vote tallies.


Researchers asked people worldwide about divisiveness. Guess where U.S. ranked

WASHINGTON — Perhaps the most unrealistic of President Biden’s campaign promises was his repeated suggestion that he could bridge the deep gulfs that divide American society.

As the anniversary of his election approaches, the U.S. is more split than ever. That’s mostly not Biden’s fault — the social trends that have pushed Americans apart for the last 20 years go far deeper than any president can reach. But it does clearly limit his effectiveness, as Biden has found with the roughly 1 in 4 Republicans who adamantly refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

The same social trends have affected other wealthy nations, but the U.S. stands out for the degree of divisiveness that afflicts it. When the nonpartisan Pew Research Center recently surveyed people in 17 countries in Europe, Asia and North America, Americans were the most likely to say their society was split along partisan, racial and ethnic lines. The U.S. also reported more religious division than almost any other country surveyed.

The U.S. was also one of five countries in which more than half the public said their fellow citizens can’t agree on basic facts.

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