Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Friday, December 12, 2014
Take a moment to watch here what Sen. John McCain the GOP's 2008 candidate for Pres. and a much decorated Vietnam War era Vet has to say on the topic of torture. Keep in mind Sen. McCain spent years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese and was tortured repeatedly, by them. He qualifies as an expert on the topic from this 1st hand experience.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
|English: Lucy the Margate Elephant, Atlantic Avenue & Decatur Street, Margate City, Atlantic County, NJ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
|El Niño effects upon North American weather and atmospheric circulation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Japan weather bureau declares first El Nino in five years
VieTOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's weather bureau said on Wednesday that an El Nino weather pattern, which can trigger drought in some parts of the world while causing flooding in others, had emerged during the summer for the first time in five years and was likely to continue into winter.
That marks the first declaration by a major meteorological bureau of the much-feared El Nino phenomenon, which had been widely expected to emerge this year.
El Nino - a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific - can prompt drought in Southeast Asia and Australia and heavy rains in South America, hitting production of food such as rice, wheat and sugar.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) forecast last month that the possibility of an El Nino pattern forming this winter was higher than the 50 percent it had projected in its previous monthly prediction.
But on Wednesday it said that an El Nino had emerged between June and August, continuing into November.
"We can't tell whether or not El Nino will continue until spring, but we can say that there is a higher chance of it continuing in the winter," said Ikuo Yoshikawa, a JMA forecaster.
The Japanese weather bureau does not classify or predict the size of El Nino, he said.
Last week, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said that climate models suggest El Nino weather conditions would occur over the next three months, although related weather patterns are already being witnessed.
The U.S. weather forecaster also projected last week a 65 percent chance of El Nino conditions during the Northern Hemisphere winter and into spring, up from a 58 percent chance predicted early in November.
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Alan Raybould and Joseph Radford)
Thursday, December 04, 2014
|Lucy the Elephant in Margate City, New Jersey|
LUCY ABIDES !!
Update: !! Margate WINS the first round, a Federal judge in Camden has just ruled that the State cannot simply wave an Administrative wand and take our land for its Project. The Judge essentially told The NJDEP / A.C.O.E. and the Gov. to follow the law and go back to State Ct. and try and take the land they need through the Eminent Domain process in the US Constitution and the NJ State Constitution. This is a victory for Margate's legal team since that was exactly what they were hoping for. Once in the State Ct. the parties involved must follow a much more drawn out process to get control of the beach. The hope is that the State will instead sit down with Margate and make some kind of deal. Considering whom were dealing with in this I kind of doubt that's what will happen. We'll see, anything is possible now. At least in the short we've headed off and immediate seizure. Today's ruling essentially means No bulldozers any time soon. It doesn't however mean we've won yet. Far from it.
To Counter Rise of Oligarchy, Sanders Pitches Progressive Economic Vision
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
|Slot machines in the Trump Taj Mahal Taken by Raul654 on August 24, 2004. Released under the GFDL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
I've been reflecting of late on the recent Steve Perskie interview, in the AC Press. The most I can say of it is this, Steve's basically right, it's easy to play Monday Qtr. back, as concerns what could have happened in AC. Having been someone who was actually living here back when Steve was working hard to bring Casino gaming to AC. I've come up with one very clear observation about the whole Enterprise, which is that Casino gaming, as a tool for general economic redevelopment turned out to be a bust for much of the local community. However, who knew that back in 1974? Of course, for people like Steve and a tiny minority of others it's been a huge bonanza and still is and so from his perspective, what's not to love about what happened? It was understandable then , that Steve's interview waxed so positive about those years. The truth is, Casino gaming turned out to be some what of a mixed blessing at best for much of the community, especially most of the existing resort oriented business community of that time and now. As an example, the business I once was in , the nightclub business, back in the 70's and 80's there were dozens of independent nightclubs in the area, by 2005 there were almost none existing outside the Casinos. The same could be said for local restaurants in AC, before the Casinos there were hundreds of family owned and operated restaurants of all sizes, today most are just a distant memory. The Casinos did to these businesses what malls did to retail and Corp. Pharmacys did to the corner drug store. Progress? Hardly.
1974 - 2014
Certainly, what many of us thought was happening in AC back in 1974 wasn't working. AC's glory days were by then long gone and the town was visibly becoming a shabby worn out version of its former self. Like an old hooker, her charms rapidly fading, AC was no longer attracting many customers. In retrospect, we also thought, what did we have to lose to let the Casino Corps.into town? It tuned out, unfortunately, we still had lots to lose. Today, 40 yrs. since the start of the Casino Era, AC is a largely a hollowed out Big Corp. / Big Gov't filled cartoon caricature of a living thriving city. Existing in and among this rapidly fading facade is a poverty stricken, violence plagued, drug, alcohol & gaming addled remnant of the town's former inhabitants. Today AC crawls with petty criminals and Corp. crooks, prostitution and drug gangs are really the two biggest private employers in town today, not the Casino / hotels anymore. The real winners at least temporarily, are the lucky few with still relatively safe public service sector jobs, but even this once unassailable safe haven is now under assault as AC 's private economy begins to crumble and tax revenues along with it. How far off are the mass layoffs of public service employees? Could AC go bankrupt, as many other cities in America are doing lately? Its certainly a possibility given the present situation.
ALL THOSE CASINO JOBS ARE GO GO GOING AWAY
In his Press interview, Steve Perskie wants everyone to believe that the remaining 30 K Casino jobs ( actually its more like 20 K full timers and another 10 K part timers) didn't replace 20 K full time jobs and 10 K part-time jobs that once existed in the small and mid-sized family owned local businesses that existed in AC back in 1974, business and jobs that the Casinos clearly wiped out. So the truth is, Casino gaming today is a wash as far as job creation is concerned. Granted,that wasn't the case 15 yrs. ago at the time of the industries peak ( in 1999.) Since then however, almost half of the jobs they created have vanished along with five of the Casinos of that era and very probably a sixth ( The Taj Mahal) in the not too distant future.
IS AC BETTER TODAY?
Lets get one thing straight here, the Casino Corps. didn't transform AC into anything better. What they might still do on the way out however, is to leave it far worse off then when they first arrived.
The question then, will once again be, as it was in the early 70's, WHAT NEXT? The big difference from that era is that once the Casinos leave there isn't going to be much of a base of locally owned businesses left to re-employ all the unemployed ex-Casino workers they leave behind. The truth is, many of these people will have to leave to find new jobs elsewhere. This is a reality Perskie and his ilk in the professional political class doesn't care to talk about. Why? Because, they have nothing to offer these folks and their families and they know it. Not even bus fare.
CREDIT WHERE ITS DUE
Nonetheless, one must give credit where its due and I think its accurate to say that Judge / Senator / Commissioner / Chief of Staff Perskie thought what he was doing back then was going to largely benefit the whole community, not just a few large landowners and investors, nor some distant Big banks or large Corps. Nor, do I believe he thought it would become a golden patronage pot for the political class and their friends and families. On that score, he should have known better, especially considering this was still Atlantic County in NJ, arguably one of the most corrupt places in America. He was right though in saying that his work largely excluded the known ( Italian mafia ) from openly participating in the operation of the local Casinos ( kind of.) The truth is, nothing stopped these same gangs from indirectly investing in the Casinos and using their economic clout as stockholders to have some indirect control of them. Nor, for a time did it stop them from having a hand in some of the Unions and the companies that supplied and did construction work for these Corps. So, its somewhat disingenuous for Steve to say that the mob didn't profit from legalized gaming here, sure it did.
Today however, as we now know, in America most of the big criminals wear fancy suits and have fancy Ivy League business / law degrees. These crime lords buy and sell politicians, who they pay for with "campaign contributions" ( AKA legalized graft) to write the rules of the game to give themselves and their cronies a leg up. What was once called open corruption has now been "legalized" and re-framed as LOL the "Public / Private Partnership." Back in the 30's we called this deal FASCISM and millions died in the 40's fighting to kill it. Little did we know then, that it wasn't an idea that would be easily squelched. Over the course of the last 70 yrs. FASCISM and its ardent backers have been busy re-making it into something a bit softer and more palatable. Today, it's called what its creator Benito Mussolini first called it CORPORATISM. ( the marriage of BIG Public and BIG Private interests.) In AC today, it's all the rage. DO /AC INC. indeed !!
CASINO PIXIE DUST
For those of you that continue to believe that the Casino fairies coming soon to bestow economic pixie dust AKA economic renewal on your community, ( pay attention N. Jerseyans reading this,) I've re-published an interesting little article below that I found that speaks directly to how the Casino as a community development concept has been working out elsewhere today. Enjoy!
|By: Peter Van Buren Monday December 1, 2014 8:13 am|
It wasn’t just a business, it was a way of life– what residents of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania referred to simply as “The Steel”– a mill once America’s second largest steel producer with 31,500 souls working in a single facility.
The mill made the steel for the Empire State building and the Golden Gate Bridge, and for WWII warships. After cheap imports flooded the United States in the 1980s, the Bethlehem Steel facility closed, leaving behind a mile-long scar of rusted out buildings people call the brownfields, along the Lehigh River. Allentown, Billy Joel’s bitter saga of industrial decline, name-checked the town.
The Promise of Legalized Gambling
So as soon as Pennsylvania legalized casinos in 2004, Bethlehem scrambled for one of the first, and won. Symbolically, Las Vegas’ Sands corporation would build right on top of the old mill. Everyone hoped the casino would replace a decent portion of the jobs lost when The Steel left. But by 2014, there were only 2,200 positions at the casino, plus 700 at leased businesses inside. Was a casino really the answer?
Even those new jobs didn’t come for free. Roads, some $10 million worth, had to be built or repaired to make it easier for out-of-towners (New York is only 75 miles away) to reach the casino. The city added to its police force. Since the casino was located outside the downtown business district, the city paid for a shuttle bus to try and draw players to their shops. But the casino had its own retail mall competing with anything local. No one should “plan on a casino to bring about urban renewal,” said a Wynn Casinos property manager in nearby Philadelphia, “because that’s not what casinos do.”
The House Always Wins
Still, there was money to be made in Bethlehem. Casino profits, of course, were repatriated to the owners in Las Vegas. Pennsylvania requires casinos to pay a 55 percent tax on revenues, but only four percent of that goes to the host community. For Bethlehem in 2013, that totaled $9.5 million, not game-changing money for an area so economically devastated for so long. Baltimore, an early adopter of casino gambling as an economic resurrection strategy, has seen similar results. In Atlantic City, the first major destination outside Las Vegas to feature legalized gambling, four major casinos closed in the past year.
Bringing in a casino is about jobs and money. Jobs created statewide in Pennsylvania via gaming do not even equal the number lost in Bethlehem alone. As of 2013, Pennsylvania casinos directly employed only 17,768 people, leaving significant questions about the role of gaming in lifting America’s devastated rust belt towns out of unemployment-driven malaise.
As for money, a report notes that after some initial successes, revenues in Pennsylvania from gaming declined by 2013. Statewide, casinos did contribute about $81 million in taxes last year. However, it is unclear how much of the revenue behind those taxes came from local residents, what might be called churning rather than creation, a back-door tax on those ill-prepared to lose money at the slots (affluent people visit casinos less often than poorer people do.) One group of frequent visitors who have found a way to beat the house come from New York’s Korean community; they sell the promotional meal vouchers from the casino on the black market.
Competition is a serious problem, as new casinos open in surrounding states. For example, New Jersey is considering a casino at the Meadowlands, only 30 minutes outside New York City, which will pull many away from Bethlehem’s new bright lights. Pennsylvania is also among the states with the highest casino tax rate in the nation, raising further the question of market cannibalization should gaming corporations seek out lower rates in adjoining states. Casino revenues nationwide have not recovered their 2007 peaks, and Moody’s projects a drop through 2015, cutting industry earnings by as much as 7.5 percent.
Don’t Gamble if You Can’t Afford to Lose
Only a generation ago, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania had a steel mill employing tens of thousands of people at good wages. Including benefits, an average union steelworker made $26.12 per hour then, the equivalent of $40.66 today. It was enough to create one of the most powerful economies on earth, supported by a robust middle class driving demand for housing, cars, everything. They could afford to gamble a bit on yearly vacations, too.
The typical casino worker today in Bethlehem makes $10-12 an hour. Many are part-time. They labor in the shadow of the mill that helped build the Empire State building and the Golden Gate Bridge, a new way of life that may flounder on a bad roll of the dice.