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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,807

Journal Archives

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Amtrak proposes adding passenger train route to Scranton, PA

Amtrak, the nation’s largest passenger railroad, proposes a possible route between Scranton and New York City as part of its nationwide expansion plan.

An idea first officially floated more than a decade ago, the proposal for Amtrak service between the two cities appears on a map that officials of the federally owned railroad have circulated lately as they lobby Congress for $25 billion over five years for expansion.

Ray Lang, Amtrak’s senior director for national-state relations, presented the map in September during a Zoom webinar hosted by officials of the Rail Passengers Association, which advocates for wider passenger rail development.

Repeated efforts to reach Lang were unsuccessful. His slide presentation focused mostly on untapped, larger markets elsewhere, but the map brightened the hopes of local advocates. They view the Amtrak proposal as one more possible funding source for a project that so far centers on New Jersey Transit developing and operating the train. New Jersey Transit handles that state’s mass transportation. ...........(more)


Vacancy Rate at Iconic Manhattan Tower with 899 Apartments Hits 26%: This Shows How Fast & Massive..

Vacancy Rate at Iconic Manhattan Tower with 899 Apartments Hits 26%: This Shows How Fast & Massive the Exodus Has Been
by Wolf Richter • Nov 30, 2020

Then there’s the “single-asset” commercial mortgage-backed security (CMBS) backed only by the mortgage of this tower.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

This is now happening in apartment towers in big densely populated cities around the US: Suddenly mind-boggling vacancy rates as a large number of tenants have left in recent months. And this is happening even at the best of them. And holders of the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) are waking up.

The iconic “New York by Gehry” 76-story tower on 8 Spruce Street in the Financial District of Manhattan, designed by architect Frank Gehry and built in 2011, with 899 apartments, plus an elementary school for 600 kids occupying the first five floors, had an occupancy rate of 98% in 2019. By September 2020, the occupancy rate had plunged to 74% – roughly 234 units of the 899 units were vacant!

The photos of the tower with the wrinkled-appearing stainless-steel exterior are from New York by Gehry’s website, which itself lists only about two dozen apartments for rent, ranging from a studio at $2,160 a month to a three-bedroom on the 71st floor for $11,229 a month. No way that it would list all 234 units. That type of catastrophic info is essentially a secret.

The plunge in the occupancy rate caused the mortgage, which was securitized in 2014 into a single-asset commercial mortgage backed security (CMBS), to be put on the servicer watchlist in November, citing the plunging occupancy rate as one of the reasons, according to a note this morning by Trepp, which tracks CMBS. ............(more)


Healthcare Workers Are Organizing Like Their Lives Depend On It

(In These Times) Reg­is­tered nurse San­dra Old field died of Covid-19 in May. Since March, she and fel­low nurs­es had been sound­ing the pan­dem­ic alarm about dan­ger­ous con­di­tions at the Kaiser Per­ma­nente Fres­no Med­ical Cen­ter, the Cal­i­for­nia hos­pi­tal where she worked for near­ly 20 years.

After Cal­i­for­nia declared a Covid-19 state of emer­gency on March 4, Old­field didn’t feel safe work­ing in just the sur­gi­cal mask issued to her by the hos­pi­tal. She joined co-work­ers who com­plained to man­age­ment, demand­ing access to N95 respirators.

That same month, one of Oldfield’s patients, ini­tial­ly admit­ted with gas­troin­testi­nal symp­toms, became acute­ly ill with a res­pi­ra­to­ry infec­tion and test­ed pos­i­tive for Covid-19. Old­field went home to iso­late March 26. With­in two months, Old­field, 53, was dead.


While tra­di­tion­al union­iza­tion has slowed in 2020, includ­ing in the health­care sec­tor, there are indi­ca­tors of grow­ing inter­est in orga­niz­ing with­in hos­pi­tals, nurs­ing homes and oth­er front­line health­care facil­i­ties. Thou­sands of work­ers have gone on strike. And while it’s dif­fi­cult to esti­mate how many work­ers have tak­en part in small­er on-the-job protests and pick­ets, health­care work­ers are fil­ing more NLRB com­plaints alleg­ing retal­i­a­tion for work­place orga­niz­ing than in pre­vi­ous years.Meanwhile, sev­er­al health­care unions report they are mak­ing inroads with non-union work­ers. They espe­cial­ly see poten­tial to improve the ratio of patients to staff, which has steadi­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ed in the con­text of con­sol­i­dat­ed cor­po­rate health­care systems.“Our phones are ring­ing in a way they haven’t in the past,” says Matthew Yarnell, pres­i­dent of SEIU Health­care Penn­syl­va­nia, which rep­re­sents health­care work­ers at three new facil­i­ties fol­low­ing suc­cess­ful union dri­ves dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Vir­tu­al­ly every facil­i­ty shares the same core issues, Yarnell says: ​“chron­ic short staffing, low wages, not being pre­pared for a high­ly con­ta­gious air­borne pan­dem­ic virus.” The trag­ic sit­u­a­tion has become a cru­cible for ​“enhanced work­place action and organizing.” ............(more)


New questions: What did David Perdue know about COVID technology before big stock buyback?

(Salon) Earlier this year, embattled Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, one of two multimillionaire Republicans facing tight runoff elections that could decide control of the Senate, sold $1 million worth of stock in Cardlytics, a financial firm where he once sat on the board. What makes this stock sale especially interesting is that six weeks later, an executive shake-up at Cardlytics that sent the stock tumbling. After the share price hit its low point in March, Perdue bought back up to $500,000 worth of stock, which has since quadrupled in value.

The trades drew federal scrutiny, but Perdue argued that he did not personally direct any of his transactions. The New York Times reported last week, however, that Department of Justice investigators have found that Perdue had instructed his Goldman Sachs wealth manager to make the sale two days after receiving a personal email from the Cardlytics CEO that advised of "upcoming changes."

Now, new information raises questions about what else Perdue may have known was in store for the company in March, when he scooped up as much as half a million dollars worth of shares on the cheap.

Around the time of Perdue's buyback, the company quietly rolled out a "COVID-19 Dashboard" to help its clients track and target consumer spending during the pandemic. Executives appear to have first mentioned this dashboard in public, however, during a first-quarter earnings call in May. ...........(more)


Don't be fooled: Trump's conspiracy theories won't discourage Georgia Republicans

(Salon) Republican Party muckety-mucks in Georgia are worried about the upcoming Senate runoff elections in January. No, not about the threat of massive Democratic turnout, which is certainly possible. They're worried that their own voters will sink the chances of both Republican incumbents, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

The problem some Republicans perceive is that Donald Trump and the various conspiracy theorists he has empowered keep declaring that the Nov. 3 election was "rigged" and that Democrats — especially in cities with large Black populations — are somehow manipulating vote totals.

That's completely false, of course. But the claim is being pumped throughout right-wing media, from Trump's Twitter account to Fox News to email lists to all the sleazy sub-Fox knockoffs like Newsmax and OAN to viral Facebook posts. Polling shows that it's working, with 63% of Republican voters claiming they don't believe the election was "free and fair."


But the fact that Don Jr. doesn't even seem to register that he's contradicting his father's outrageous lies is exactly why I don't believe that all these bewildering claims will actually depress Republican turnout. Don Jr. clearly understands and expects his audience to understand that Trump is lying about the 2020 election, and that they should go ahead and vote without any worry that Trump actually means what he says or that the elections are actually rigged. .............(more)


Blame for Democrats' down-ballot losses lies with the party, not social movements

(Salon) In the aftermath of many down-ballot Democratic losses, from U.S. Senate races to the House to several state legislatures Democrats were hoping to flip, we are in the finger-pointing phase of the 2020 election. While some are blaming grassroots social and political movements, the fact is that this is the second cycle in a row in which Democrats had no clear positive and substantive message to offer voters.

While Republicans seized on racial fear and division to tell a compelling, if bleak, story to moderate white America — and even some swaths of communities of color, including Black, AAPI and Latino voters — Democrats completely failed to tell an equally compelling narrative based on movement priorities such as economic justice, climate justice or criminal justice reform.

What we know about movements — whether it's the movement for Black lives or the youth-driven Sunrise Movement for climate justice — is that it's their job to create new space for what's possible in society. Martin Luther King Jr. and the leaders of the civil rights movement did not craft their message in terms of what they thought was politically feasible in the mid-1960s, but rather as bold vision and rallying cry that attracted millions of people.

Movements come out of real-life experience, and are often born in pain and injustice. Organized Black communities, despite years of calling for reform, watched an innocent Black man choked to death under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis in 2020. Organized young people, seeing their futures crumble before their eyes under the weight of climate change, have had enough of government, largely led by people over 60, doing nothing to stop it. .............(more)


Another day. Another spam lawsuit.

(Detroit Free Press) Allies of President Donald Trump want a federal court in Michigan to force state leaders to set aside election results and award its 16 electoral votes to the president.

A separate conservative group also wants the Michigan Supreme Court to invalidate the results that show President-elect Joe Biden won the state.

The latest lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Michigan and before the state's highest court, rely on unfounded allegations of widespread fraud and misconduct that judges in the state and across the country have previously rejected. Neither has a high likelihood of success.

There is no evidence of mass fraud or wrongdoing that affected election operations in Michigan or elsewhere. Biden earned roughly 154,000 more votes than Trump in Michigan. .........(more)


Some Wall Street Democrats Are Sitting Out Georgia Senate Races

(Bloomberg) -- As deep-pocketed Democrats on Wall Street celebrate the ouster of President Donald Trump, some are privately showing little appetite for backing the party’s remaining skirmishes in Georgia.

Employees of securities and investment firms poured about $77 million into President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign and the super-PACs supporting him, more than quadruple what they steered toward Trump. But the pair of Democrats facing runoff elections in Georgia against Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on Jan. 5 are unlikely to see such lopsided support -- even with control of the chamber at stake.

For Wall Streeters, keeping the Senate in Republican hands means thwarting tax hikes for corporations and capital gains, as well as other policies that don’t align with their financial interests.

“Most Wall Street Democrats and certainly all Wall Street never-Trumpers -- Republicans that voted for Biden -- want a split government,” said Mike Novogratz, a long-time hedge fund manager and founder of Galaxy Digital. .........(more)


Trump and his allies won't drop claims of stolen election -- because they're cashing in

(Salon) On Sunday morning, Donald Trump let loose with what may be his most unhinged performance yet — which is really saying something — of his extended effort to pretend the election was stolen from him by President-elect Joe Biden. In a 45-minute interview on Fox News with host Maria Bartiromo, which was more like an uninterrupted dramatic monologue, Trump unloaded an absolute truckload of lies. He lied about ballots and voting machines, claiming that millions of fake votes were recorded. He suggested the FBI was "involved" in the imaginary conspiracy against him. He even said he "came up" with the coronavirus vaccines, a claim that is utterly ludicrous but will be swallowed without complaint by all the people who still mock Al Gore for claiming to have "invented" the internet — which Gore never actually said.

What's especially weird about this whole situation is that Trump is doubling down on these false claims in the face of an epic failure to get his attempted coup off the ground. The recount that Trump demanded in Wisconsin — although his campaign only paid for a recount in two overwhelmingly Democratic counties — not only affirmed Biden's win in that state, but increased the president-elect's total by 87 votes. Meanwhile, Trump's losing streak in the courts only got worse over the weekend, with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissing one Trump lawsuit with prejudice (meaning he can't sue again regarding this matter) and another suit failing in the Third Circuit federal appeals court.

"Voters, not lawyers, choose the president," federal judge Stephanos Bibas — a Trump appointee! — wrote in deciding the latter case.

And yet, Trump continues to invite more humiliation. He continued to rant on Twitter, promising, "We have some big things happening in our various litigations on the Election Hoax." (Whoever he means by "we," they do not.)


Charlie Kirk, Alex Jones, Candace Owens and many other right-wing parasites are hammering their lists of subscribers and supporters with pitches like, "Will you help me fight with President Trump and ensure only legal votes are counted? Rush $25 right here," and "One thing is clear: the fraud was happening everywhere, and there is a lot of it that still needs (to be) exposed," all for the low, low price of $25 (or more). ...........(more)


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