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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 15,244

Journal Archives

The worst-case scenario for the economy under Trump just happened in another country

It is hard to compare Donald Trump to anyone else in American politics, especially when it comes to the economy. The president-elect plans to combine restrictions on goods imported from abroad, which are usually advocated by liberal politicians, with conventionally Republican policies, such as tax relief for the wealthy and major corporations, along with more federal borrowing.

More than any U.S. politician's platform, Trump's agenda on the economy resembles those of populist leaders abroad. In particular, the policies he has proposed are very similar to those of Dilma Rousseff, the former president of Brazil who was ousted from office in August.

As Trump has planned to do, Rousseff enforced restrictions on imports. She promised new spending on infrastructure and granted generous subsidies to corporations with the goal of stimulating the economy, especially manufacturing.

“It’s a very similar program,” said Riordan Roett, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University and an expert on Latin America.


In intimate ally Venezuela, tears and cheers over Castro's death

Venezuela's ruling socialists mourned former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, while opposition hard-liners exulted over the death of a man they called a dictator who helped wreck their economy and whose country for years had an easy ride with subsidized oil.

The two leftist Latin American governments became intimate allies under Castro and his younger disciple, the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, a relationship buttressed by generous oil shipments from the OPEC country to the Communist-run island in return for thousands of Cuban doctors, teachers, sports trainers and security advisers.

But that economic lifeline to Cuba ebbed in recent years as Venezuela, in the throes of a brutal economic crisis that has seen millions skipping meals, has cut back on the subsidized crude.

Venezuela used to send Cuba some 100,000 barrels of oil per day, but data seen by Reuters showed a 40 percent decline in crude shipments in the first half of the year compared with 2015 and that could fall further amid a production slump.


Trump seems ready to fight the world on climate change, and it could cost the U.S.

Donald Trump is branded with all manner of unflattering labels, but one that hasn’t seemed to much bother him is “climate pariah.”

The president-elect is unabashed in his disdain for America’s global warming policy. He has placed a staunch climate-change doubter and antagonist of mainstream science in charge of reshaping — or as Trump has suggested, dismantling — the Environmental Protection Agency. He has talked frequently about reneging on the historic Paris global climate treaty the U.S. took a lead in drafting. And he has said he wants every federal green-energy program eliminated.

Environmentalists take little comfort in Trump’s recent comments that he accepts “there is some connectivity” between human activity and climate change and that he has an open mind about it, as what he’s said elsewhere and done so far suggests otherwise.

And even those comments gave scientists cause for alarm. “You can make a lot of cases for different views,” Trump told the New York Times, casting doubt on the finding by more than 90% of climate scientists that emissions are accelerating global warming. “I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know.”


For some in middle class, Trump plan would mean tax increase

President-elect Donald Trump's proposals would modestly cut income taxes for most middle-class Americans. But for nearly 8 million families — including a majority of single-parent households — the opposite would occur: They'd pay more.

Most married couples with three or more children would also pay higher taxes, an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found. And while middle-class families as a whole would receive tax cuts of about 2 percent, they'd be dwarfed by the windfalls averaging 13.5 percent for America's richest 1 percent.

Trump's campaign rhetoric had promoted the benefits of his proposals for middle-income Americans.

"The largest tax reductions are for the middle class," said Trump's "Contract With the American Voter," released last month.


A congressman's journey from political star to criminal defendant

Aaron Schock was 27 years old when he was elected to Congress and became the first member of the House born in the 1980s.

Already a political veteran — he won a write-in campaign for the Peoria, Ill., school board at 19 — Schock was seen as one of Capitol Hill's up and comers. It didn't hurt that he was a gym disciple with a camera-ready face.

But six years after being sworn in as a congressman from Illinois’ 18th District in 2009, Schock resigned amid a federal and state criminal probe into how he spent campaign dollars and his $1-million-plus annual office budget.

Now, Schock, 35, faces a 24-count federal indictment handed down this month by a Springfield, Ill., grand jury that accuses him of pilfering his campaign accounts and his House allowance for personal expenses that included travel, a flight aboard a private plane to watch the Chicago Bears and even rent payments.


Venezuela's Maduro threatens legal action against JPMorgan

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday ordered state oil company PDVSA to look into legal action against JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> after the U.S. investment bank reported delays in $404 million in bond interest payments.

PDVSA said on Monday it was using a 30-day grace period for coupon payments on its 2035 bond but that reports of other payment delays were wrong. It suggested paying agent Citibank was creating a backlog that had spooked markets.

"JPMorgan's attitude is of a criminal nature," Maduro said during a salsa music program he broadcasts from the presidential palace. He said local and foreign opponents were conspiring to give a false impression that Venezuela is on the verge of a debt default.

Maduro accused JPMorgan of falsely reporting that PDVSA was in default.


Venezuela suspended from Mercosur beginning December

Venezuela will be suspended from South American trade bloc Mercosur at the beginning of next month, a top official said Monday.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government has not adopted 112 resolutions as Venezuelan law, routine procedure for members, leading to its sidelining beginning December 1, Paraguay's Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga said.

Venezuela has said it cannot adopt the text because it conflicts with its domestic laws.

"If you join an international agreement and something conflicts with local law, you indicate reservations," and Caracas has not, Loizaga said.


Suicide bomber squirrel hospitalizes Chicago politician who spoke out against squirrels

Howard Brookins Jr., the alderman for Chicago’s 21st ward, had publicly spoken out about a toothy menace plaguing the city’s garbage carts: urban squirrels, which in Brookins’s view were “aggressive,” and aggressively damaging the trash cart lids.

He now has another reason to dislike the rodents. One recently sent him to the hospital with a skull fracture in a “freak bicycle accident,” as the alderman wrote on Facebook.

Brookins was biking along Cal-Sag Trail on Nov. 13, when a squirrel darted into his path. The squirrel cut Brookins’s bike trip short by wrapping itself in the spokes of the alderman’s bicycle. The alderman flipped over the handlebars and landed with such a severe impact that he fractured his skull, broke his nose and knocked out a handful of teeth, the Chicago Tribune reported. A woman who passed by called 911. Brookins was only able to leave the hospital Thursday.

“I can think of no other reason for this squirrel’s actions than that it was like a suicide bomber, getting revenge,” the alderman said to the Tribune on Monday. He told the newspaper a full recovery was expected to take months.


When squirrels go bad...

Venezuelan first lady's nephews convicted in U.S. drug trial

Two nephews of Venezuela's first lady were found guilty on Friday on U.S. charges that they tried to carry out a multimillion-dollar drug deal to obtain a large amount of cash to help their family stay in power.

Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, nephews of Cilia Flores, the wife of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, were convicted by a federal jury in Manhattan of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.

The case has been an embarrassment for Maduro amid economic and political crises in the South American nation. The case was one of several in which U.S. prosecutors have linked individuals tied to the Venezuelan government to drug trafficking.

They face up to life in prison when they are sentenced. Their lawyers indicated in court they planned to file post-trial motions challenging the convictions, though did not specify on what grounds.


Tesla's bid to buy SolarCity is approved by shareholders, but challenges remain

Source: LA Times

Shareholders of Tesla Motors and SolarCity have handed Elon Musk the keys to what will be the world’s largest integrated green energy company, but challenges abound for the entrepreneur’s vision to transform how people power their lives.

Tesla and SolarCity shareholders on Thursday overwhelmingly approved Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity in a stock transaction, valued at about $2 billion, that is designed to create one-stop shopping for homeowners’ power generation, energy storage and electric vehicles.

Building on Musk’s big idea approach to business, the Tesla chief executive aims to rewire the energy sector in ways that give consumers more control over how they power their homes and cars — much as changes in the telecom industry combined phone service and computers into the palm of people’s hands.

Musk’s grand plans, though, face changing political winds with the election of Donald Trump, who supports expanding fossil fuel production. A Republican administration and Congress is thought unlikely to support subsidies for renewable energy or clean vehicles, analysts have said.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tesla-solar-city-20161117-story.html

I'm quite interested in the solar shingles Musk was touting a couple of weeks back.

I wouldn't bet against him making this another transformative technology.
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