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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 73,697

Journal Archives

Les moutons de travail de Paris

[font size="1"]Francois Mori / AP
Sylvain Girard, owner of "Ecomouton" shows his flock used to graze the lawns in replacement of lawn mowers around a truck warehouse at Evry, south of Paris.[/font]

PARIS—Will the future see flocks of sheep baaing beneath the Eiffel Tower and bleating by Notre Dame cathedral?

Paris is enlisting a few hungry sheep to keep the city’s grass trim, replacing gas-guzzling lawnmowers.

The initiative, which started this week, sees four sheep from an island in Brittany put to work munching the bountiful grass of the Paris Archives.

The eco-experiment, which could expand around the capital from October, follows on from a stint last year by two goats that the Louvre hired to mow the lawn of Paris’ famed Tuileries gardens. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/04/05/paris_hires_sheep_to_mow_the_city_lawns.html

Salon: Abolish the 401(k)

Abolish the 401(k)
The real crisis facing America's aging society is not Social Security, but private retirement plans

By Michael Lind

(Salon) America’s retirement security policies are facing a major crisis. No, not the problem that Pete Peterson, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles and other so-called deficit hawks have become famous for exaggerating — the relatively minor mismatch between promised Social Security benefits and scheduled Social Security payroll taxes in the 2030s. The real crisis facing current and future retirees in America’s aging society is the failure of the private components of America’s mixed public-and-private retirement system.

When Social Security was created in 1935, it was not intended to be the sole source of retirement income for most Americans. It was assumed that employer-provided defined benefit pensions with guaranteed payouts would supplement Social Security checks for many workers after they retired.

Unfortunately, employers have been abandoning defined benefit pensions for decades. The number of private sector workers with defined benefit pensions has fallen from around 40 percent in 1980 to a mere 15 percent today. At the same time, among public sector workers, poor management by state governments, combined with years of economic trouble, has created a crisis for public pension systems in many states.

In order to save money and shift risks to individual workers, employers in the last generation have been switching from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans like 401Ks. 401K retirement plans and other defined contribution plans, including individual retirement accounts (IRAs), now cover about 42 percent of the workforce as opposed to only about 17 percent in 1979. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2013/04/04/abolish_the_401k/?source=newsletter

Magic Johnson speaks out about son’s sexuality: ‘He’s happy now that this is out’

(Toronto Star) Former NBA superstar Magic Johnson has spoken out publicly for the first time about that fact that his 20-year-old son, Earvin Johnson III, is gay.

Johnson told celebrity gossip site TMZ.com that a key message conveyed by him and his wife, Cookie, to their son was that “we want you to love yourself.”

Johnson said his son is “happy now that this is out.”

It was widely reported two days ago that Earvin Johnson III, a student at New York University, was seen on the Los Angeles Sunset Strip on Monday night holding hands with his gay partner. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thestar.com/sports/2013/04/04/magic_johnson_speaks_out_about_sons_sexuality_hes_happy_now_that_this_is_out.html

Lower Unemployment Is Only Fuzzy Math, Disaster on Payroll and Jobs Creation

from 24/7WallStreet:

Lower Unemployment Is Only Fuzzy Math, Disaster on Payroll and Jobs Creation
Posted: April 5, 2013 at 8:45 am

Friday’s report from the Labor Department is finally here. We had seen lowered expectations ahead of this report due to weaker reports from weekly jobless claims, ISM manufacturing and nonmanufacturing job growth, ADP and even from TrimTabs. This is a disaster for the recovery.

The official unemployment rate was magically lower at 7.6%, versus 7.7% in February, due to a lower counted workforce. Both Bloomberg and Dow Jones were calling for the reading to be flat at 7.7%.

Nonfarm payrolls grew by only 88,000. Bloomberg was calling for 193,000 and Dow Jones was calling for 200,000. Private sector payrolls grew by only 95,000. Bloomberg had projected 200,000.

We warned on Thursday that unofficial estimates were likely lower around 175,000 or 180,000 on payrolls. The report was far worse than what we expected, and they were way under the bottom ranges of 170,000 to 175,000 on the numbers from Bloomberg. ...............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://247wallst.com/2013/04/05/lower-unemployment-is-only-fuzzy-math-disaster-on-payroll-and-jobs-creation/#ixzz2PaqCyfAW

Schools & Prisons (cartoon)


America's Intersection (cartoon)


Toronto: Streetcar shortage looms

from NOW Toronto:

Streetcar shortage looms
TTC expects to run buses on crowded streetcar routes by the end of the year

By Ben Spurr

The TTC is about to run out of streetcars.

As ridership continues to grow, the commission announced on Tuesday that it is increasing service on three dozen of its busiest bus and streetcar lines.

The changes necessitate putting eight more streetcars on the road during morning peak periods, and according to TTC planner Scott Haskill, that means that every operable streetcar in the aging fleet will now be in service during morning rush hour.

“We’ve used up all the streetcars we have,” Haskill says. “We have no more streetcars that we can add… until our new streetcars enter service next year.” .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=191877

National Review heralds the ‘wonderland’ of tar sands with a photo of a blighted hellscape


from Grist:

National Review heralds the ‘wonderland’ of tar sands with a photo of a blighted hellscape
By Jess Zimmerman

National Review is not the worst conservative rag out there — it’s like the Daily Caller after it aged 10 years, bought a suit, stopped doing coke, and had to live through an uncomfortable coming-out conversation with its college buddy. But it sure prints some dumb BS (I’m just dying to hear what the editors say about “Marriage and the Court,” NOT). Still, this is the first time I’ve seen the magazine run a cover that literally looks like a Photoshop someone mocked up to make everyone on the masthead look like assholes.

If some closet liberal in the design department isn’t trolling the National Review editors with this, then National Review is definitely trolling us. “Go ahead,” it’s saying. “We DARE you liberal reactionary ninnies of the press to tell us this isn’t a photo of a beautiful, idyllic miracle wonderland.” Honestly, though, I totally support its contention that the tar sands represent a many-splendored bower of bliss. Go live there, guys! Live there in pastoral ease and leisure! Jealousy guard your miracle home against minorities and illegal immigrants! You deserve it. We will just wait here in our inferior non-wonderland and feel really, really jealous.

Roy Blunt, R-Monsanto

from Grist:

Meet Roy Blunt, the senator from Missouri — and Monsanto
By Susie Cagle

After much hemming, hawing, and Hulking, some crack reporters have solved the case of the Monsanto rider, the new law that gives GMO crops legal immunity.

It was Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in the boardroom with the inappropriate relationships with Big Ag lobbyists!

Politico first broke the Blunt story, but Tom Philpott at Mother Jones highlights just how cozy the Missouri senator is with the GMO giant, who he “worked with” to write and pass the rider. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/news/meet-roy-blunt-the-senator-from-missouri-and-monsanto/

It’s Not Raining, We’re Getting Peed On: The Scam Of The Deficit Crisis (Second Edition): Chapter 3

from the Working Life blog (Jonathan Tasini):

It’s Not Raining, We’re Getting Peed On: The Scam Of The Deficit Crisis (Second Edition): Chapter 3
Posted on 04 April 2013.

The president has played a big role in this foolishness so all his promises about focusing on the “middle class” won’t mean much if he doesn’t get off the bandwagon of a policy that is our social Armaggedon. It was the president, after all, who created the debt commission, formerly known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform—the tale of which is part of the revised edition of the book.

Do you like sports? Most people do. So, think about this: let’s say you started a new baseball season with everyone, as usual, looking to capture the ultimate prize: winning the World Series.

You start out the season with the Commissioner of Baseball announcing the following ground rules: everything is on the table, everyone is a part of this race and every option is available to your team.

Except any team that has a stadium within 25 miles of an ocean can’t qualify for the World Series. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.workinglife.org/2013/04/04/its-not-raining-were-getting-peed-on-the-scam-of-the-deficit-crisis-second-edition-chapter-3/

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