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09 декабря, 03:31

I, Daniel Blake sweeps Evening Standard film awards

Ken Loach’s drama wins best British film, best actress and most powerful scene, while Hugh Grant and Kate Beckinsale take acting honoursI, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach’s drama about a middle-aged carpenter recovering from a heart attack and trying to navigate the benefits system, has taken best British film at the Evening Standard film awards. At a ceremony in London hosted by the actor and director Richard Ayoade, the drama also picked up best actress for newcomer Hayley Squires, who plays a single mother also encountering obstacles claiming welfare. It capped the evening by winning the award for most powerful scene, for its harrowing sequence set in a foodbank in which Squires’s character is so hungry she eats from a tin of cold baked beans. Continue reading...

09 декабря, 03:00

Obama's mighty EPA falls into Pruitt's hands

The executive actions that propelled the president's climate agenda will make it easier for Donald Trump's pick to turn back the clock.

09 декабря, 02:34

Silence From Trump Tower On Buy America

The time is now for Donald Trump to take a stand in support of American workers by calling on Republican leadership in Congress to support strong Buy America requirements in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), also known as the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act (WIIN).  Just one week ago in Cincinnati, President-elect Trump said his infrastructure plan would follow two simple rules: “Buy American and hire American.” I support that position, but unfortunately the Republican establishment in Washington didn’t hear him. They have removed my Buy America standard from water infrastructure legislation and Trump Tower has since remained silent. I believe that the iron and steel used in water infrastructure projects should be made in America and that taxpayer dollars should go to support American jobs and manufacturers, not be spent on Chinese or Russian iron and steel. My provision to require this was included in a version of the water infrastructure legislation that passed the Senate 95-3. However, Speaker Ryan and House Republicans removed this Buy America reform from the Water Infrastructure Improvements Act and there hasn’t been a peep, or tweet, from President-elect Trump. They have removed my Buy America standard from water infrastructure legislation and Trump Tower has since remained silent. It is clear to me, and it should be clear to President-elect Trump as well, that Congressional Republicans are allowing corporate lobbyists working on behalf of companies who import steel from Russia and China to write the rules in Washington. Importers of cheap foreign steel from China and Russia have sought to eliminate or loosen these rules for their own benefit. According to media reports, including the Wall Street Journal, the importers and their foreign suppliers have hired the Washington, D.C. lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs to lobby the Republican leadership in the House against my Buy America standard, which would provide a long term and solid commitment to American workers. The firm’s strategy relies on the revolving door—the firm employs former House Speaker John Boehner and several former top Republican aides—to gain access and influence over Congress. These reports suggest that corporate lobbyists are using their influence over Congress to support clients that do business with Russian and Chinese steel companies at the expense of American workers.  I am calling on President-elect Trump to turn his words into action. That is why I am calling on President-elect Trump to turn his words into action and join me in demanding that Republican leaders in Congress restore our strong Buy America standard in the final water infrastructure bill. Together, with Senators Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey, we introduced an amendment to restore this reform and we have demanded a vote on it. American manufacturers and steel workers, like the men and women at Neenah Foundry in Wisconsin who help build our nation’s water infrastructure, support our amendment and they deserve a vote and a solid commitment from us on a strong Buy America standard. We welcome President-elect Trump’s support. President-elect Trump has said that we need to “drain the swamp” and that he will take on the lobbyists and special interests who are writing the rules and rigging the game in Washington against American workers. If he is serious about “draining the swamp” and supporting American workers, it is time for him to end his silence and speak out publicly in support of restoring Buy America to the water infrastructure bill before Congress. It is time for a vote on a Buy America standard that respects and rewards American manufacturers and workers. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

09 декабря, 02:00

Americans Don't Think The Government Needs 'Experts'

Americans, particularly those who voted for Donald Trump, are skeptical of civil service workers and the concept that expertise is an asset for government work, according to the results of a new HuffPost/YouGov survey. While 43 percent say they have at least a fair amount of trust in civil service employees who run federal government departments and agencies, 45 percent say they trust those employees not very much or not at all. Only about a third of Trump voters report trusting the civil service, compared with 64 percent who do not. A 53 percent majority of the public, including 71 percent of Trump voters, agree that “Everyday Americans understand what the government should do better than the so-called ‘experts.’” Thirty-six percent of those who voted for Hillary Clinton, and 55 percent of Americans who did not vote in this year’s election, feel the same way. (The non-partisan think tank PRRI, which first asked the question in September 2015, found an even wider disregard for expertise, with about two-thirds of Americans saying they mostly or completely agreed.) Trump’s cabinet, drawing heavily on loyalists from the military and private sector, is on track to be the least experienced in modern history, a prospect that worries some previous government officials. “Government is like any other profession ― it requires expertise,” Norman Eisen, a former ambassador who worked on President Barack Obama’s White House transition team, told HuffPost. “I don’t think you’d want that gang, if they had a similar lack of expertise in surgery, operating on you with that level of comparable medical experience. And the same is true in government.” Americans agree, to some extent. Fifty-one percent, including a majority of Trump voters and Clinton voters, say it’s more important that civil servants in charge of government departments and agencies have “the right education and experience.” Just 27 percent say it’s more important to have people who “can bring about change.” But respondents don’t necessarily believe “the right experience” means government experience. Although 39 percent want Trump to appoint people who have experience working in government, 24 percent would prefer he nominate people without previous government experience, and 38 percent were unsure or say it doesn’t matter to them. Trump voters say by a 32-point margin ― 49 percent to 17 percent ― that they’d prefer to see him appoint people who have not previously worked for the government. Forty-one percent of Americans say that the people Trump has selected for political appointments so far have been mostly more knowledgeable than the president-elect himself, with 9 percent saying that they’ve been less knowledgeable, and 26 percent that they’ve been about equally as knowledgeable. A 63 percent majority of Trump voters say his picks so far have been more knowledgeable than he is. The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Dec. 3 to Dec. 5 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here. Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Выбор редакции
09 декабря, 02:00

Using Merit To Settle The Delicate Issue Of Fairness

Reward business-active child(ren) with ownership based on written and communicated performance standards that increase cash flow and business value.

09 декабря, 01:50

Trump Must Confront Massive Institutional Free-Trade Bias in Order to Balance Trade, Create Jobs

When Donald Trump embarks on his new trade agenda in January, he will face sustained resistance from those who opposed his primary and presidential campaigns, i.e., those whose views working Americans repudiated in the recent election. Essentially, Trump's trade/jobs agenda has been criticized from the moment the establishment realized back in March that he might actually win the primaries. There have been numerous op-eds, blogs, and TV appearances by the free-trade status-quo crowd suggesting that Trump will destroy the US and world economies if he tries to restore balance to the world trading system. Trump's antagonists are Wall Street institutions, multinational corporations, major business organizations, academic economists, editorial boards, business journalists, opinion writers, bloggers, and the generally economics-knowledge-free main stream media. All are opposed to Trump because they are wedded to a false, out-dated 'free trade' dogma, which has decimated the working/middle classes. On Capitol Hill, a minority of Democrats and majority of Republicans are partial to the same discredited free-trade theories. Speaker Paul Ryan admitted as much in his remarks on the election victory, noting that Trump alone had recognized the dire plight of average Americans. For the one-percenters and their shills, nothing in their bedrock beliefs changed with the election, and they will actively oppose Trump's trade platform with every maneuver and phony, distracting, pseudo-intellectual argument they can muster. Their arguments include: Trump will start a trade war; he will plunge us into a job-destroying depression; the jobs aren't coming back anyway; they were all taken by robots; trade deficits don't matter; U.S. output is near a high; government handouts in the form of supplemental income payments to manufacturing job losers, plus retraining and vocational education are the real answer. None of these is accurate and and none addresses the continuing economic advances made through the strategic trade/industrial/technology policies of our commercial rivals, who will take every last US manufacturing job if we let them. In spite of the raft of criticism, the president-elect appears determined to up-end 30 years of failed trade policies. In order for Trump to succeed, his trade agenda must be guided by several defining principles: First, the Trump administration must clean house of all the academically-trained, free-trade economists, bureaucrats, and negotiators inhabiting the trade functions of the federal government. Trump has called them stupid; they are in the sense that they keep following the same free-trade template, making the same erroneous assumptions in their models, and piling up the same massive goods trade deficits. Yet they expect the next free trade agreement to turn out to be more beneficial to the United States than the last disaster. Second, Trump needs his new team to develop a strategic vision for the US economy over the next several decades. US trade policy must be based on a comprehensive plan. Balanced trade is necessary because trade deficits have to be financed -- by borrowing from foreigners or selling them our domestic assets to pay for their goods. Both practices are problematic, to say the least. But balance, while desirable, should not be achieved just by selling more soybeans and pork, and importing fewer socks. While that may be part of the approach, the U.S. economy needs to move ahead on technology and productivity growth across a broad spectrum of industries, including high-tech and futuristic sectors in which the country is currently deficient. There will be howls of objection to a strategic plan and cries of 'communist central planning,' but strategic economic objectives are not central planning or 'picking winners and losers.' America's trade adversaries are already far ahead in many areas with next generation products and prototypes, thanks to their strategic implementation of explicit industrial policies, intellectual property theft, and forced technology transfer. In contrast, the United States simply doesn't possess a concerted national manufacturing strategy -- in part because, historically, trade was a small part of our large continental economy. But as the nation's economy has been globalized over the last 20 years by bad trade policy decisions (which are reversible, not set-in-stone, physics-like 'laws' as the free traders would have us believe), a strategic vision is imperative. One can't fight something with nothing, and our economic fate shouldn't be left to the randomness of the 'free market,' which is in fact manipulated and managed by our competitors through currency manipulation, non-tariff barriers, IP theft, subsidies, dumping, VAT taxes, inter alia. Third, America's response to the current situation of global trade imbalances and manipulation must be unilateral, and not dependent on the putative cooperation of foreign governments. Simply put, nothing will change if the United States continues to rely on 'the kindness of strangers,' i.e., other countries' promises to abandon their mercantilists policies by signing unenforceable, 'best efforts' agreements. Trump must dictate the new terms of trade, not negotiate them. His leverage: access to the largest market in the world -- which he must use before it is overtaken by China. Fourth, a strict timetable is needed. Trump's goal should be balanced trade in four years, with America's trade deficit declining by 25% annually to zero. This goal can be accomplished in a number of ways, including limits on the value and type of imports if necessary. Four years gives US companies dependent on parts or sub-assemblies from overseas operations plenty of time to relocate back home. Trump may have to pull out of the World Trade Organization and various trade treaties if our trading partners reject informal cooperation and seek to tie up his plans in trade lawsuits. Fifth, the US dollar must be kept continuously competitive -- priced to help US manufactured goods either in our home market or as exports in foreign markets. Republican presidents Nixon and Reagan were acutely aware that the price of the dollar had a large effect on our trade deficits and thus negotiated the Smithsonian and Plaza Accords, respectively. But our trading partners soon reverted to their old currency-manipulation ways. The Trump administration must not hesitate to counter currency manipulation via active, continuous Treasury Department involvement in foreign exchange markets to keep American products competitively priced. Sixth, Trump must impose a Value-Added Tax of 18-20 percent applicable at the border to all imports. Over 150 of our trading partners use such taxes to make American exports pricier in their home markets. We should reciprocate. The great irony is that as succeeding rounds of trade talks have successfully cut tariffs, our trading partners have raised their VAT taxes in response, thus offsetting the tariff cuts. This is a place our trade negotiators have truly been asleep at the switch. Additionally, on the campaign trail, Trump threatened to punish US companies that move jobs abroad by imposing tariffs on them. The problem is that the competitors of these companies who have already gone overseas, or foreign companies, will remain free to send products made with cheap foreign labor into the US market. Instituting a border VAT will create an big incentive to keep production here or move it here, by making the US a more cost-effective place to manufacture. Finally, as if all of these issues weren't enough, President Trump will confront a marketplace wherein commercial cyber warfare has become an almost daily scourge. One example: US Steel has filed a trade case against Chinese companies for stealing their technology for lighter, stronger steel products -- and selling ripped-off, competing products in the US market below the cost of manufacture. Thus, protection of IP and trade secrets (especially in the defense arena) must be addressed decisively. Time is short. The Trump administration must pursue trade enforcement remedies with a vengeance in cases like that of US Steel. America possesses anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws that should be utilized as quickly as expedited trade investigations can allow. Overall, a new, job-creating trade policy is central to Trump's success as president. He has promised repeatedly that jobs are going to come pouring home -- and soon. If they do not materialize, he will forfeit a large portion of his credibility. Yet he faces a dual battle against the entrenched, one-percent economic interests here and a global trading system rigged by the unfair trade practices of power-house, export-oriented economies in East Asia and Europe. Trump already knows the global trading system is rigged against average working Americans. He has been speaking about the problem since the 1980s. He needs to adopt the above approaches quickly and act decisively in order to blow past his powerful antagonists, domestic and foreign, and bring jobs home. The task will not be easy; restoring US economic greatness will inevitably involve some amount of painful economic readjustment both at home and abroad. However, the pain is worth enduring because the American and global economies are in a state of advanced imbalance that cannot be sustained. The United States cannot absorb year after year of $800 billion goods trade deficits and remain the world's leading economy. The readjustment toll will be far less painful than a global economic collapse caused by growing trade imbalances. It's a tricky ride, and one fraught with political and economic conflict. But it's a necessary one in order for President Trump to keep his promises, rebuild a preeminent U.S. economy, and create good jobs and a higher standard of living for all Americans. Kevin L. Kearns is president of the U.S. Business & Industry Council, a national business organization advocating for domestic U.S. manufacturers since 1933. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

09 декабря, 01:40

Defeating Trumpism with the White Working Class

Donald Trump was right. The system is rigged. Government doesn't work for working folks. It's not helping families make ends meet. And it is definitely not creating jobs for the middle class. And white people are mad as hell. The white working class, high school-educated, have since the 1990s, seen increased death and unemployment rates, and see no signs of relief. The president-elect's analysis blames this failure of government on corrupt politicians and insider elites like Hillary Clinton. As with all Trumpisms, it lacks any deeper analysis--including the real perpetrators profiting off a rigged system. Besides brief mentions of Goldman Sachs (who is definitely guilty as hell), Trump leaves out the main beneficiaries of neo-liberal policies over the last 40 years. Trump's favorite example of flawed government stealing jobs from working class white families is NAFTA--all of which he blames on the Clintons. Yes, NAFTA was bad for workers. Yes, the Clintons should take a lot of blame for it. But the real culprits are its beneficiaries--corporate elites, like Trump himself. The economic gains of NAFTA went straight into the bosses' pockets, at the expense of workers--home and abroad. Manufacturing jobs that used to be in Ohio and Pennsylvania were transplanted--all to make labor cheaper for billionaire capitalists. Millions of jobs were lost over the border, overseas and through "innovation." And lots and lots of white people were laid off. But there is almost no mention of the capitalists that made billions off of this deal. Take for instance General Electric, which benefited immensely from NAFTA. Many billionaires from Warren Buffett to Jeffrey Immelt to Steve Cohen have made millions from GE in their push for ever-expanding profit. Through stock buyback programs and dividends, they have extracted billions out of a company that in return cut costs by shifting workers' jobs abroad. Now repeat this process over and over for every company in America, with an interchangeable cast of billionaire investors, hedge funds and private equity firms, and you get millions and millions of unemployed folks with a declining standard of living and a very small cohort of billionaires. The Clintons helped push NAFTA through. But, let's be clear--the real culprit is the billionaire class profiting off of NAFTA at the expense of workers. This of course was an impossible argument for Hillary Clinton to make. She herself is a part of this group of elites. Of course, so is Trump. But, instead of basing his arguments against the billionaires like himself, he scapegoated immigrants. This allowed him to capitalize on the anguish of working-class white families across America--while completely avoiding any scrutiny of his own profiteering. Bernie Sanders and Trump had similar arguments on trade--arguments that incited working class whites. Sanders, though, correctly blamed billionaires and elites. Instead of making a horizontal argument blaming a separate exploited group (immigrants), it transformed the argument into a top-bottom analysis (everyone versus billionaires). What Sanders lacked was a connection to communities of color, which make up the base of the Democratic Party. His analysis of billionaires profiteering off of a rigged system didn't dig into the racist practices billionaires have used to extract profit from communities of color for centuries. As much as he could rail against billionaires and millionaires, he could not muster a consistent argument about racial inequities. Uniting angry white voters with black and Latino voters is possible when we take the argument beyond simple Trumpian epithets about immigrants. There is a common group that is making life unbearable for all working folks -- billionaires. The system is rigged in their favor. And the Clintons were a part of it. This argument cannot be made by other corporate Democrats. Like Hillary, it will come off hollow. Chuck Schumer and Corey Booker cannot carry this mantle. They in fact are the problem. We need to move beyond the old Democratic ideology of the Clintons and into a new wave of anti-capitalism. This is the only way we will defeat Trumpism. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

09 декабря, 01:00

Here's How Concerned Republicans Are With Trump's Conflicts Of Interest

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― In the absence of a clear plan to address the unprecedented conflicts of interest facing Donald Trump’s presidency, you might think congressional Republicans would be planning aggressive oversight of the incoming president’s financial entanglements and looking to establish clear firewalls between Trump and his business dealings. Or you might think that Republicans don’t really care about Trump’s conflicts of interest. In interviews with The Huffington Post over the last two weeks, congressional Republicans gave the impression of the latter. “I don’t think that Mr. Trump has as big of a problem as people would like him to have with it, so, no, I have no problem,” Rep. Michael Kelly (R-Pa.) told HuffPost this week. When pressed for clarification, Kelly asked who we worked for. We then asked about Bahrain renting out Trump Hotel on Wednesday, a potential opportunity for the Middle Eastern kingdom to influence the incoming president by directing money to him. Instead of answering that, Kelly attacked HuffPost. “I think you folks are going to have a great four years,” he said. Asked what that meant, Kelly shut down. “Well, it just means exactly what I said. I mean, listen, how about call my office if you want to and give me a list of what you want to talk about?” Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) ― famous for shouting “You lie!” during one of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses ― repeatedly said he wasn’t concerned at all with foreign or business interests using the open pipeline into Trump’s pocket to try to influence him. “Hey, my view is I voted for Mr. Trump because I knew ― and I was really sold by my wife, all right, she was the one who identified ― he’s such a good businessperson, he surrounds himself by very talented people and would make a good president,” Wilson said. Pressed again on potential conflicts of interest, though, Wilson said Trump was turning over his businesses to his children. And asked if that was sufficient, given the role that Trump’s children seem apt to play in the presidency, Wilson stressed once more that he wasn’t concerned. “I’m sure that they’ll adjust for that too,” he said. Even Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the top watchdog in Congress who had vowed vigorous oversight of Hillary Clinton when he expected her to win the presidency, has taken a decidedly less aggressive tone with Trump. “It’s sort of ridiculous to go after him when his financial disclosure is already online,” Chaffetz told HuffPost recently. While he didn’t rule out eventual investigations, Chaffetz made it clear he had no intention to hold any hearings before Trump takes office, even though the second Trump assumes the presidency, he will be in violation of the lease agreement he signed for Trump Hotel in the historic Old Post Office in Washington, D.C. That lease states that no elected official “shall be admitted to any share or part of this lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom,” meaning elected officials aren’t supposed to make money from the Trump Hotel, which Trump, an elected official, will obviously do. And this is just the beginning of the incoming president’s conflicts of interest.  Trump has hundreds of businesses with his name on them that could be used by foreign governments and other individuals or organizations to potentially influence him; hundreds of millions he owes to foreign banks that could complicate U.S. relations; and seemingly endless executive rulemaking opportunities that could affect his wallet. (Trump gets to decide, for instance, whether people making less than $47,476 a year, many of whom work in his hotels, will get overtime pay.) The issues are real and immediate, but Republicans are treating them as if they’re theoretical and far down the road. It wasn’t always this way. For the last eight years, Republicans have forcefully gone after the Obama administration, from the Benghazi investigation and Fast and Furious to ACORN and the supposed political targeting at the IRS. Republicans have also spoken out about alleged self-dealing at the Clinton Foundation and the need to ensure elected officials aren’t enriching themselves. In 2012, the GOP overwhelmingly supported legislation meant to prevent members of Congress and executive branch employees from using insider information to profit. It was Republicans, in fact, who insisted the president be included in the legislation, the STOCK Act.  Then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), that, “‘If we’re going to play by these rules, then President Obama is going to play by these rules,’” Walz recounted this week. “It was smart.” All but four Republicans in Congress supported the STOCK Act ― Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia and John Campbell of California voted against it in the House, and Richard Burr of North Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma opposed it in the Senate ― and Republicans made impassioned speeches on the floor, railing against elected officials using their offices to make money. “One of the great causes that impels the separation from Great Britain was the common practice of public officials using their office to increase their personal wealth,” Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) said at the time. But now, Ross told HuffPost, Congress should “wait and see” how Trump separates himself from his business dealings before lawmakers go after him. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House science committee, said in 2012 that government exists to promote the public good, not to enrich elected officials and government employees. “Those who are entrusted with public office are called public servants because their work should always serve the public rather than themselves,” Smith said on the House floor. “No one should violate the sacred trust of government office by turning public service into self-service.” And now that Trump is going to be president? Smith referred us to his office for questions about the STOCK Act and the incoming president. Of course, some Republicans have suggested there might be some issues with Trump’s finances. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) has consistently said Trump’s explanations of his conflicts of interests are insufficient. Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), one of Trump’s earliest supporters, said he wanted to see Trump follow the law. “He shouldn’t be making money off being the president for his personal interests, so I definitely think that needs to be looked into, and I think he agrees,” DesJarlais said. Even Ross and Chaffetz have indicated they may support investigations at some point. But for those Republicans who are concerned, the “wait and see” approach seems to be the norm ― if Republicans are concerned at all. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) aggressively went after Clinton in July. “No one should be above the rules, no one should be above the law, and that’s what we’re looking for, equality,” Ryan said on CNN. “So that people should be held to the same set of standards. That’s the problem with Washington, is people think there’s self-dealing and they think that everybody is being held to different standards. And the problem is that that’s true!” And yet when Ryan was asked on Wednesday how Trump should handle his conflicts of interest, Ryan’s answer was “however he wants to.” “This is not what I’m concerned about in Congress,” Ryan told CNBC. “I have every bit of confidence he’s going to get himself right with moving from being the business guy that he is to the president he’s going to become.” He’s not alone in that assessment. He just has no evidence that it’s true. And he doesn’t seem interested in getting proof. Christina Wilkie and Paul Blumenthal contributed reporting. Video produced by J.M. Rieger. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

09 декабря, 00:20

These Are The Unsung Winners And Losers Of Donald Trump's Boeing Tweet

President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday directed one of his infamous impulsive tweets at Boeing, which currently has a contract to build the next version of Air Force One. Specifically, he said: “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” Boeing’s stock took a wild ride downward in the immediate aftermath of the outburst, but bounced back to roughly where it began by the time the closing bell rang. As it turned out, the Department of Defense had budgeted $1.65 billion ― not $4 billion ― and Boeing said it currently has a $170 million contract with the Air Force. Such clarity aided the company’s late-in-day stock rally. But the tweet touched off a furious round of “Where did Donald Trump get his information?” questions. Reporters were subsequently tasked with the job of questioning whether Trump had any skin in the game with regard to Boeing. Spokespersons for the president-elect said ― without providing documentation ― that he had sold all of his stock holdings earlier in the year. The whole incident revived concerns about the potential for Trump’s tweets to suddenly manipulate markets for no good reason. But it also uncovered other winners and losers that went relatively unnoticed. BIG WINNER: THE PENTAGON Perhaps the day’s biggest irony is that Trump’s complaints about imaginary Air Force One cost overruns pushed an even bigger story about government waste right out of the newshole. Prior to Trump’s Boeing complaint, most of the media was still absorbing a blockbuster story from The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward. They described how the Pentagon went in search of wasteful spending, found a nonsensical amount of it, and then buried its own findings. As the Post reported: The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post. Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, $125 billion is greater than $4 billion. And yet I have a really good feeling about which story will attract the lion’s share of attention on the Sunday morning political chat shows. The Pentagon caught a nice break. BIG LOSER: CORPORATE CEOS It’s hard to feel bad for our nation’s chief executives, who over the past four decades have enjoyed skyrocketing increases to their take-home pay that don’t align with the relative quality of American CEO-ing over the same period of time. But the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Reed argues that we should feel some concern over the “chilling effect on corporate CEOs speaking out in public.” While not hearing from CEOs isn’t a major hardship for most people, this backing away threatens to damage the already shaky dialogue that exists between business leaders and the rest of us. Even in a controlled environment of a Chamber of Commerce occasion or similar event, businesspeople get out there and share their views about the issues of the day, whether it’s public safety, the environment, markets, free trade or community development. [...] Sounds corny, but at such events the protective corporate bubble can be pierced, if only a little. Community activists, media members, employees, students and other stakeholders get to quiz executives about their corporate strategies and decisions. “We need more healthy CEO dialogues, not fewer,” Reed writes. ALSO WINNING: EVERYONE WHO DIDN’T WRITE THIS CNBC PIECE ASKING US TO CONSIDER THE COST-CUTTING VALUE OF TRUMP’S PRIVATE JET For some reason, CNBC’s Robert Frank wrote a piece titled, “As Trump pushes back on Boeing, consider his private jet cost a fraction of Air Force One.” Hmmm, yes, let’s consider. So, after about two seconds of considering, I’m thinking that maybe one of the big reasons that Trump’s own plane “cost less then a tenth of Air Force One” is because Air Force One was specifically designed with the goal of making sure the president of the United States isn’t getting shot down all the damn time. This isn’t something that I thought we were ready to rethink. But as Frank points out, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s secondhand plane cost Trump merely $60 million after all the renovations were done. Let’s definitely see if Allen has any more planes laying around. Frank pauses momentarily to ponder the innovative way Air Force One has been designed to “the president shouldn’t die” specifications, but dismisses such thoughts in the next breath: Aviation experts say Trump’s plane is more luxurious, but Air Force One is a technology marvel, with an anti-missile system, scramblers, massive communications systems and back-up systems. So the two aircraft are not really comparable. But based on the Trump-gold standard for private jets, it’s no wonder he’s demanding a cost cut from Boeing. Again, based on the “Trump-gold standard for private jets,” you don’t have an anti-missile system or other state-of-the-art countermeasures to being blown out of the sky, but it really makes you think, man. TOO EARLY TO TELL: HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADERS Redeeming CNBC’s coverage of Boeing Tweet Day, Eamon Javers digs into the notion that traders might be able to game Trump’s Twitter activity with computerized algorithms designed to start immediately capitalizing on Trump’s market manipulations. That sounds great, just great. Naturally, people are already working on figuring out a way to do this. Efrem Hoffman, founder of a market analysis firm called Running Alpha, said Trump’s tweets represent a new source of market information for those willing to study them and identify patterns. “One specific strategy that I am working on is looking at tweets that come from Trump’s Android phone — as these have been shown to reflect his personal beliefs and convictions,” Hoffman said. “Somewhat more unfiltered than tweets coming from other mobile devices that reflect the opinions of his colleagues/staff.” Hoffman said he is analyzing the sequencing of Trump’s tweets in terms of volatility between Trump’s episodes of anger or jubilation, and cross referencing those episodes with keywords associated with specific industries of policy categories. He said he is looking at the sentiment of Trump’s followers and how the tweets are received as a possible measure of market player uncertainty. There is a healthy amount of skepticism as to whether something like this could be pulled off, and Javers notes that it “is always possible that algorithmic traders are already analyzing Trump’s tweets and simply decided that the [Boeing] tweet was too vague to trade on.” Nevertheless, that 10-second delay between Trump’s Twitter missive and the market’s convulsions remain exploitable terrain. Someone is sure to find a way to get rich off Trump’s tweets. Probably not you, though! ~~~~~  Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.  -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

09 декабря, 00:18

A Closer Look at Under Secretary Sheets’s Remarks at the Institute of International and European Affairs

​ During an event hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs, Under Secretary for International Affairs Nathan Sheets gave remarks that reviewed the significant steps taken since the global financial crisis to enhance the resilience of markets and strengthen financial institution balance sheets.  He discussed the G-20’s financial regulatory achievements and priorities, and the importance of U.S.-EU cooperation in these areas.   Under Secretary Sheets highlighted important steps G-20 members have taken to foster a more resilient financial system and how these reforms are already making the financial system safer.  “These steps greatly reduce the risk of systemic crises while ameliorating the possible consequences of such crises, thus allowing banks to continue to play a critical role in intermediating credit for the real economy.”    Under Secretary Sheets explained that “G-20 and Basel Committee members have made important strides under Basel III to improve both the quantity and quality of capital for internationally active banks and introduced internationally consistent leverage and liquidity ratios.”  He underscored that the current priority is to finalize the Basel III framework in order to ensure a level playing field among banks and eliminate differences that might threaten to undermine market confidence in the adequacy of bank capital.   On bank resolution, Under Secretary Sheets explained that the “task now is to ensure that the necessary components are in place, and properly operationalized, to enable a systemically important financial institution to be resolved in an orderly manner.”  Part of the operationalization was the FSB’s finalization of its total loss absorbing capacity (TLAC) standard in November 2015 -- an important milestone for establishing a framework that allows for the resolution of global systemically important banks.  He indicated that the Bank of England has already written its rules, the Federal Reserve plans to finalize its own rules this year, and a European Commission proposal is expected soon.   Outside the banking sector, the Under Secretary stressed that the G-20 and FSB are working to promote consistent and robust frameworks for sustainable market-based finance.  He added that the G-20 Leaders set out a comprehensive approach to promote clearing, trading, and reporting of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives contracts to address risks exposed during the global financial crisis.  He encouraged all jurisdictions to move promptly to implement these measures.    Turning to U.S.-EU financial regulatory cooperation, Under Secretary Sheets highlighted the importance of core reforms to the United States and Europe.  He noted that the large size and interconnectedness of trans-Atlantic markets demonstrates why it is necessary for the two sides to cooperate closely and provide global leadership on financial regulatory reform.  He added that “our shared interest is in maintaining open, integrated, and well-functioning global markets.”    Under Secretary Sheets concluded his remarks by noting that the ultimate goal of Treasury’s efforts is a more robust and resilient financial system: “We need to continue to strive for an efficient, globally-integrated, and inclusive financial system that fosters economic growth and financial stability.”   Kay Turner is a Senior Financial Analyst for International Affairs at the Treasury Department.   ###

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09 декабря, 00:13

British Cycling must come clean over Shane Sutton and Jess Varnish

Governing body’s latest mishap is yet another example of its lack of openness and transparencyFor all its successes on the track in 2016, British Cycling continues to lurch unsteadily through a series of public-relations mishaps off it – many of them of its own making.Yet even by its standards, contriving to upset Jess Varnish and Shane Sutton in an internal review designed to find the inner truth of their dispute – while also generating more fears about its lack of openness – is not a good look. Continue reading...

08 декабря, 23:29

Keith Ellison Secures Nation's Biggest Labor Endorsement

WASHINGTON ― America’s largest federation of labor unions on Thursday endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Representative Ellison meets the high standard working people expect from leaders of our political parties,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a written statement. “He is a proven leader, who will focus on year-round grassroots organizing to deliver for working families across America.” The AFL-CIO represents 56 different labor unions. The New York Times reported last week that a few labor unions had pushed back against the federation offering an early endorsement in the DNC Chair race, but several large unions, including Communication Workers of America and United Steelworkers, had already announced their support for Ellison, as had key labor figures like the chiefs of the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The official nod from the AFL-CIO, moreover, suggests that a recent smear campaign attempting to brand Ellison as anti-Semitic is not scaring off major Democratic-allied institutions. Ellison would be the first Muslim to head the party. Ellison has long been one of the most aggressive congressional supporters of the American labor movement. He has repeatedly rallied with striking workers, and participated last month in a demonstration by Minneapolis fast food employees seeking a $15 minimum wage. His DNC policy platform calls for Democratic leaders to embrace “labor as a full partner,” which would represent a shift from recent decades in which union concerns have been subjugated to Wall Street and Silicon Valley interests within the party. function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Ellison backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the Democratic presidential primary, and his candidacy has quickly converted the DNC race into a proxy battle over the direction of the party after Hillary Clinton’s loss to president-elect Donald Trump. Ellison is pressing to refocus party attention on working people by emphasizing small-dollar fundraising, much as the Sanders campaign did. Most recent DNC chairs, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), have focused on major corporate donors. The AFL-CIO endorsement consolidates Ellison’s status as front-runner in the DNC race. More than 100 lawmakers have already backed his candidacy, including Sanders and progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with establishment leaders like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). But the DNC election remains more than two months away, and other candidates have also secured prominent supporters. South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, a former corporate lobbyist, has been endorsed by the third-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). President Barack Obama has signaled support for either Labor Secretary Thomas Perez or former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who both endorsed Clinton in the Democratic primary. New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley won the endorsement of his state’s all-woman Democratic congressional delegation on Thursday.   -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

08 декабря, 23:29

Keith Ellison Secures Nation's Biggest Labor Endorsement

WASHINGTON ― America’s largest federation of labor unions on Thursday endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Representative Ellison meets the high standard working people expect from leaders of our political parties,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a written statement. “He is a proven leader, who will focus on year-round grassroots organizing to deliver for working families across America.” The AFL-CIO represents 56 different labor unions. The New York Times reported last week that a few labor unions had pushed back against the federation offering an early endorsement in the DNC Chair race, but several large unions, including Communication Workers of America and United Steelworkers, had already announced their support for Ellison, as had key labor figures like the chiefs of the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The official nod from the AFL-CIO, moreover, suggests that a recent smear campaign attempting to brand Ellison as anti-Semitic is not scaring off major Democratic-allied institutions. Ellison would be the first Muslim to head the party. Ellison has long been one of the most aggressive congressional supporters of the American labor movement. He has repeatedly rallied with striking workers, and participated last month in a demonstration by Minneapolis fast food employees seeking a $15 minimum wage. His DNC policy platform calls for Democratic leaders to embrace “labor as a full partner,” which would represent a shift from recent decades in which union concerns have been subjugated to Wall Street and Silicon Valley interests within the party. function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Ellison backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the Democratic presidential primary, and his candidacy has quickly converted the DNC race into a proxy battle over the direction of the party after Hillary Clinton’s loss to president-elect Donald Trump. Ellison is pressing to refocus party attention on working people by emphasizing small-dollar fundraising, much as the Sanders campaign did. Most recent DNC chairs, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), have focused on major corporate donors. The AFL-CIO endorsement consolidates Ellison’s status as front-runner in the DNC race. More than 100 lawmakers have already backed his candidacy, including Sanders and progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with establishment leaders like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). But the DNC election remains more than two months away, and other candidates have also secured prominent supporters. South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, a former corporate lobbyist, has been endorsed by the third-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). President Barack Obama has signaled support for either Labor Secretary Thomas Perez or former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who both endorsed Clinton in the Democratic primary. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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08 декабря, 22:08

Would You Pay $10 For A Cup Of Coffee? Starbucks Thinks You Will

Starbucks recently announced that it is doubling down on some of its more upscale store experiences. Take a look at what the company has planned for its "Roastery" and "Reserve" concept stores.

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08 декабря, 21:00

A Neighborhood Gun Range’s Legacy: Lead Contamination

This story originally appeared in Capital & Main. Sign up for email alerts from Capital & Main. Last April, residents of Sacramento’s working-class Mangan Park neighborhood were invited by city officials to a meeting to discuss a health scare involving the presence of lead particulate in their community. Days before, a front-page Sacramento Bee investigation explored how the shuttered James Mangan Rifle and Pistol Range had operated for years, despite the fact that toxic levels of lead dust coated nearly every surface of the building. The indoor gun range was situated in the middle of a public recreational facility, James Mangan Park. The range was closed in December 2014, but the public was not informed of the lead hazard in and, possibly, outside the building. See documents related to this story After the ensuing uproar, state and county regulators were put in charge of overseeing the city’s cleanup and testing of the surrounding area. The Centennial United Methodist Church, where the meeting was held, overflowed with angry residents worried that their homes and the rest of the park could also be contaminated. Less than a year before, lead-contaminated water had created a health crisis in Flint, Michigan. See Sidebar: How Sacramento Fumbled a Lead Cleanup Program “If I have lead in my home I’m going to deal with it,” said one resident who wondered why the city neglected to tell the neighborhood about the lead contamination for so long. “Was this just ineptness — government by omission?” Sacramento City Councilman Jay Schenirer, who represents the Mangan Park neighborhood, acknowledged that the city “should have done more externally.” Schenirer made a pledge: “Our number one concern is the safety of the neighborhood, for you and all your neighbors, and for people who frequent the park.” However, a Capital & Main examination of emails, lead reports and interviews with national lead experts shows the city has fallen well short on that pledge to protect residents. For example, homes situated fewer than 80 feet from the contaminated gun range were left untested for six months, leaving a pregnant mom to wonder if, as in Flint, she wasn’t important enough for swifter action. And the problem hasn’t been with just with the city. While the area with the most contaminated soil immediately next to the gun range has been decontaminated, county and state regulators have been slow-footed in other areas, taking months to order additional tests and going out of their way to find other possible sources of lead, when the seemingly most obvious candidate was a former gun range now wrapped by a chain-link fence. As was the case in Michigan before a flood of national attention over Flint changed the tide, California regulators have shown little or no appetite to criminally investigate what appears to have been glaring negligence that allowed the lead problem to fester for years. No fines or sanctions have been levied against the city for creating the lead hazard, and none seem to be on the horizon. Was this just ineptness — government by omission? Charles Stone, a criminal investigator assigned by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to look into the Mangan gun range, acknowledged in a phone conversation that his efforts had been focused on “what had transpired since the issue became a public controversy,” and that he had spent little time looking into how the gun range had become so contaminated in the first place. Our investigation also found that following the April church meeting, the city, with the county and state’s acquiescence, failed for four months to close a contaminated portion of the park popular with children. When those nearby homes were finally tested in October, questionable testing methods ensured that the results would almost certainly “hide the worst of the bad news,” according to a leading lead expert. Even with testing methods that likely understated the problem, test results of nearby homes released November 15 revealed lead contamination at 11 homes. At one of the contaminated homes directly across the street from the gun range, Sandra Levario said her grandson loved to play in the backyard of her tidy house as a toddler. She suspected the profound attention deficit hyperactivity disorder the now-11-year-old boy developed is connected to lead poisoning. “Now I won’t let my grandkids even play in the yard,” Levario said. Several studies, including a University of Oregon study published earlier this year, have shown that lead exposure makes ADHD symptoms more severe in children. Levario is an avid gardener and in summer is proud of her fresh vegetables. But she now wonders if an auto-immune disorder she suffers from is also connected to lead dust that migrated from the gun range to her garden. No government agency has offered Levario or other Mangan Park residents any medical assistance or blood tests to detect lead. Dr. James Wells, a lead expert who has helped oversee cleanups across the nation for 20 years, and who is a technical advisor for the massive cleanup of the former Exide Technologies battery plant near downtown Los Angeles, said the Sacramento cleanup raises questions about the fundamental ability of government agencies to regulate one another. “If this was a private company like Exide,” he said, “the response might well have been tougher.” An unusual aspect of the Mangan gun range is that while it was a public facility funded by tax dollars, it was used mostly by private security companies that needed firing ranges for weapons training. Two former instructors who frequented the range are suing the city because they say they have permanent lead poisoning, and a third filed a complaint with the city. Mangan Park residents confirmed that the range was heavily used. The pop-pop of muffled gunfire from as many as 30 students engaged in firearm training was “just something you got used to,” said longtime resident Monica Corbella, who adds that she never thought the range would contaminate her home or threaten her children’s health. Corbella says what makes Mangan Park special also allowed for her community to be exploited. It is a melting pot of Latino, Vietnamese, African American and white residents. “Many of us don’t even speak the same language,” she said. “I don’t think this would have ever happened in Land Park” – a more affluent Sacramento neighborhood where many lobbyists live. According to city-commissioned lead tests obtained through public records requests, Sacramento officials knew of lead contamination inside the gun range as far back as 2006. In 2012 a consultant hired by the city warned that exhaust fans from the highly contaminated range building were venting “indoor air directly to the outside without any filtration.” In late 2014, after Sacramento’s auditor started looking into concerns about lead, the range was finally padlocked. But the neighborhood was simply told it was temporarily closed for cleaning. There was no mention of lead. Emails obtained by Capital & Main show that, despite the lack of public warnings, the city was well aware of the health threat. In a January 2015 email, Jim Combs, the director of city parks at the time, posed a question to a half-dozen city hall officials, including Assistant City Manager Howard Chan (who was recently named city manager): “What if we just closed the doors and did nothing else at this time?” Sacramento’s Loss Prevention Manager, Barbara Brenner, responded by making it clear that inaction was potentially illegal. “There are regulations prohibiting storage of hazardous waste for more than 90 days,” Brenner wrote, adding, “the roof should be cleaned of lead dust ASAP and soil around the down spouts tested to determine if there is any further external contamination that needs to be removed.” Despite Brenner’s call for action, the roof wasn’t cleaned and no lead tests were conducted in the park around the gun range building for 445 days. And it took two tries to get it right. On April 1 of this year, according to emails obtained for this article, a city employee directed a technician from the consulting firm Stratus Environmental where to test in 14 spots around the building. Those tests delivered a clean bill of health showing no lead hazard, findings that top city officials internally trumpeted and discussed disclosing to the public. “Great news. Now how do we get this out?” read one email. Another suggested there was no “scientific reason” for conducting additional tests because of the “initial clean results.” But there were two fundamental problems with the city’s first lead tests. Lead typically is found close to the surface and, according to multiple experts interviewed for this article, rarely penetrates one foot below the ground’s surface. The technician tested one to two feet underneath the soil, thus avoiding toxic soil on the surface. Furthermore, the technician lacked the required certification required under California law to conduct lead tests. According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH),  the department found no certification for the technician “that would allow this person to perform a lead hazard evaluation, including sampling for lead in soil or a dust wipe.” Stratus Environmental deferred all questions to the city of Sacramento. A city spokesperson acknowledged that the technician had no lead certification, but said none was required because “state lead inspection certification is only required if testing buildings for lead paint or asbestos, not lead soil testing.” The CDPH says that is simply incorrect, that “an uncertified person may not perform a lead hazard evaluation in California.” That certification requirement, CDPH told Capital & Main, includes soil testing next to a public building. “A subsequent email from Sacramento County to the city strongly insisted on hiring certified personnel to conduct lead tests and to clean up the lead hazard. It’s unclear if the flawed tests could have allowed the public to be kept in the dark about toxic levels of lead in a public park. Increased scrutiny helped ensure that was not the case. The day after the Bee article appeared, Sacramento Assemblyman Kevin McCarty wrote a letter to the DTSC, saying he was troubled by “the threat to public health” in a neighborhood he called “a mix of working class and lower income communities which include many families and young children.” A meeting between state regulators and city officials ensued. Finally, four days after the Bee article appeared the city did what had been urged 15 months earlier — it conducted soil tests (this time by licensed testers) that could detect health hazards. The results were disturbing: The grounds around the range building were highly contaminated, with lead levels registering as high as 762 times above what the DTSC considers toxic. Sacramento’s current parks director, Christopher Conlin, briefly mentioned the city’s first lead tests at the April community meeting. “The next day after we got those results we went in and talked to the folks at county and at state and we agreed that we needed to go out and do another testing regime,” Conlin said. At that same April church meeting, the message from city officials was that the problem had now been contained by a fence, erected around the gun range days before. I assumed government officials in California have our back when it would come to protecting kids from any kind of dangerous level of a toxic substance like lead. Standing before an oversized photo of the park, Conlin, a confident and well-spoken former Marine commander who served as a provincial governor in Iraq, was effective in easing fears. He pointed to the results from a test at an archery range located next to the gun range building. The test showed barely detectable levels of lead, well below any “threshold of contamination,” Conlin told the crowd. Listening attentively was Eric Janssen, a volunteer coach of a kids’ archery club. Janssen found Conlin’s presentation convincing. “I assumed,” he later said, “government officials in California have our back when it would come to protecting kids from any kind of dangerous level of a toxic substance like lead.” The city’s website echoed Conlin’s message: “Tests this week show that Mangan Park play areas are free of any unsafe levels of lead in the soil or on surface areas. This includes the playground, archery range, soccer field and picnic area.” Heman Smith, another community member present at the church meeting, was composed but clearly emotional as he spoke, his wife gently calming him with a hand on his back. “I live 71 feet and six inches from the facility,” he said. Smith wondered if the fence that had been erected around the building was really enough to protect his family. Charlie Ridenour, a DTSC supervisor overseeing the range cleanup, downplayed the possibility of widespread contamination, telling the assembled that the dust inside the building was largely contained. “It’s heavy dust that falls mostly near the building,” Ridenour said, adding, “If I lived across the street, based on the data I have seen, I would not be concerned.” But Ridenour and Conlin’s assurances were based on incomplete evidence. The only comprehensive lead soil tests that had been conducted were done within five feet of the building. Only three additional soil samples had been collected in the rest of the vast park, with its picnic areas and soccer fields. In fact, much of the park, including several heavily used soccer fields, remains untested today. Peter Green, a University of California, Davis expert in urban lead contamination, warned me in April that officials were exuding a false sense of security, especially given the extent of the contamination outside the building. “What we have is a little bit of good news mixed with a whole lot of contamination,” Green said, explaining that lead does not spread evenly. Contamination almost always comes in the form of “hot spots.” What was needed, Green said, was a systematic and scientific approach to assess the problem involving “step-out tests.” “We’re talking 10 to 20 samples around the perimeter of the building, and 10 to 20 samples in another circle at a more moderate distance,” he said. “If all those tests are close to the natural levels, then that is remarkably good news.” But, Green added presciently, “I would guess that some of those would show up higher, in the hundreds or even thousands of parts per million, [well above toxic levels].” It’s now clear that the city gave the all-clear signal far too soon for areas like the archery range. Tests performed in late June and July showed that the archery range was extensively contaminated. Eleven soil samples showed levels above what DTSC considers potentially toxic. Yet regulators did not order the archery range fenced off until August 16th — 123 days after the city declared the archery range “free of any unsafe levels of lead.” There are two agencies overseeing the testing and cleanup of James Mangan Park and the Mangan Park neighborhood: Sacramento County’s Environmental Management Department (EMD) and, at the state level, the DTSC, which is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency. The city of Sacramento is responsible for hiring the lead testers and the cleanup crew, but the work must be approved by the county and state. A review of emails between the two agencies and the city shows that while some important tasks, such as removing tainted dirt around the gun range building, have gotten done, the three government entities showed little urgency when it came to carrying out lead tests, and in the case of the archery range, reacted slowly when notable levels of lead were found. The archery range begins less than 40 feet from the gun range, yet additional tests did not occur for more than two months after the church meeting. When new tests showed multiple readings over the level the DTSC considers potentially toxic, officials delayed fencing off the area for more than a month. More than a dozen neighborhood residents interviewed for this story say the archery range is simply part of a large open space. When the targets are not in use, dog walkers use the same space, kids frequently play there, along with soccer players and family picnickers. In a July 15 email, Charley Langer, an EMD official, made an argument for holding off on the fence because “it is an active archery range” and that “a reasonable parent would not let a child play there.” Langer declined a request to explain his statement. “You will be receiving a response to this via Brenda Bongiorno [a Sacramento County spokeswoman],” Langer wrote in an email. “EMD and DTSC discuss and deliberate regarding the best methods to apply in protecting the public health regarding specific locations,” Bongiorno stated in a subsequent email. “Based on these discussions, to protect the public while appropriate mitigation activities could be carried out, fencing was erected at Mangan Park encompassing the areas where lead levels above 80 mg/kg were found in the soil.” This just feels like a violation of the compact between government and the public to protect us. Officials created further delays by expressing doubts that the lead in the archery range’s soil came from the nearby highly contaminated building – because it contradicted their meteorological models for wind vectors. Lead expert James Wells claimed this obsession with finding another culprit responsible for the lead so near the gun range represents a loss of perspective. “You’ve got to assume that lead contamination in soil in such close proximity to a known source originates from that source,” he said. “It’s unscientific, and defies common sense, to attribute the archery range findings to some mysterious, unknown source when you’ve got the gun range 40 feet away.” “It’s also a mistake,” Wells added, “to rely solely on air dispersion modeling to justify disregarding the gun range. There are a million ways that contamination can spread from point A to point B that aren’t recorded at the regional weather station.” It is important to note that, while the lead levels in the archery range are of concern to parents, the levels set by the DTSC are intended to protect the long-term public health. Even if the kids who visited the archery range were exposed to lead dust in the soil, they would not be in any danger unless they ingested the toxin, a possibility with toddlers, but less likely with older kids. Still, the archery coach Eric Janssen bristled when he was told that, while he brought kids to use the archery range three times over the summer, regulators knew the levels were above California’s standards: “This just feels like a violation of the compact between government and the public to protect us.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

08 декабря, 21:00

A Neighborhood Gun Range’s Legacy: Lead Contamination

This story originally appeared in Capital & Main. Sign up for email alerts from Capital & Main. Last April, residents of Sacramento’s working-class Mangan Park neighborhood were invited by city officials to a meeting to discuss a health scare involving the presence of lead particulate in their community. Days before, a front-page Sacramento Bee investigation explored how the shuttered James Mangan Rifle and Pistol Range had operated for years, despite the fact that toxic levels of lead dust coated nearly every surface of the building. The indoor gun range was situated in the middle of a public recreational facility, James Mangan Park. The range was closed in December 2014, but the public was not informed of the lead hazard in and, possibly, outside the building. See documents related to this story After the ensuing uproar, state and county regulators were put in charge of overseeing the city’s cleanup and testing of the surrounding area. The Centennial United Methodist Church, where the meeting was held, overflowed with angry residents worried that their homes and the rest of the park could also be contaminated. Less than a year before, lead-contaminated water had created a health crisis in Flint, Michigan. See Sidebar: How Sacramento Fumbled a Lead Cleanup Program “If I have lead in my home I’m going to deal with it,” said one resident who wondered why the city neglected to tell the neighborhood about the lead contamination for so long. “Was this just ineptness — government by omission?” Sacramento City Councilman Jay Schenirer, who represents the Mangan Park neighborhood, acknowledged that the city “should have done more externally.” Schenirer made a pledge: “Our number one concern is the safety of the neighborhood, for you and all your neighbors, and for people who frequent the park.” However, a Capital & Main examination of emails, lead reports and interviews with national lead experts shows the city has fallen well short on that pledge to protect residents. For example, homes situated fewer than 80 feet from the contaminated gun range were left untested for six months, leaving a pregnant mom to wonder if, as in Flint, she wasn’t important enough for swifter action. And the problem hasn’t been with just with the city. While the area with the most contaminated soil immediately next to the gun range has been decontaminated, county and state regulators have been slow-footed in other areas, taking months to order additional tests and going out of their way to find other possible sources of lead, when the seemingly most obvious candidate was a former gun range now wrapped by a chain-link fence. As was the case in Michigan before a flood of national attention over Flint changed the tide, California regulators have shown little or no appetite to criminally investigate what appears to have been glaring negligence that allowed the lead problem to fester for years. No fines or sanctions have been levied against the city for creating the lead hazard, and none seem to be on the horizon. Was this just ineptness — government by omission? Charles Stone, a criminal investigator assigned by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to look into the Mangan gun range, acknowledged in a phone conversation that his efforts had been focused on “what had transpired since the issue became a public controversy,” and that he had spent little time looking into how the gun range had become so contaminated in the first place. Our investigation also found that following the April church meeting, the city, with the county and state’s acquiescence, failed for four months to close a contaminated portion of the park popular with children. When those nearby homes were finally tested in October, questionable testing methods ensured that the results would almost certainly “hide the worst of the bad news,” according to a leading lead expert. Even with testing methods that likely understated the problem, test results of nearby homes released November 15 revealed lead contamination at 11 homes. At one of the contaminated homes directly across the street from the gun range, Sandra Levario said her grandson loved to play in the backyard of her tidy house as a toddler. She suspected the profound attention deficit hyperactivity disorder the now-11-year-old boy developed is connected to lead poisoning. “Now I won’t let my grandkids even play in the yard,” Levario said. Several studies, including a University of Oregon study published earlier this year, have shown that lead exposure makes ADHD symptoms more severe in children. Levario is an avid gardener and in summer is proud of her fresh vegetables. But she now wonders if an auto-immune disorder she suffers from is also connected to lead dust that migrated from the gun range to her garden. No government agency has offered Levario or other Mangan Park residents any medical assistance or blood tests to detect lead. Dr. James Wells, a lead expert who has helped oversee cleanups across the nation for 20 years, and who is a technical advisor for the massive cleanup of the former Exide Technologies battery plant near downtown Los Angeles, said the Sacramento cleanup raises questions about the fundamental ability of government agencies to regulate one another. “If this was a private company like Exide,” he said, “the response might well have been tougher.” An unusual aspect of the Mangan gun range is that while it was a public facility funded by tax dollars, it was used mostly by private security companies that needed firing ranges for weapons training. Two former instructors who frequented the range are suing the city because they say they have permanent lead poisoning, and a third filed a complaint with the city. Mangan Park residents confirmed that the range was heavily used. The pop-pop of muffled gunfire from as many as 30 students engaged in firearm training was “just something you got used to,” said longtime resident Monica Corbella, who adds that she never thought the range would contaminate her home or threaten her children’s health. Corbella says what makes Mangan Park special also allowed for her community to be exploited. It is a melting pot of Latino, Vietnamese, African American and white residents. “Many of us don’t even speak the same language,” she said. “I don’t think this would have ever happened in Land Park” – a more affluent Sacramento neighborhood where many lobbyists live. According to city-commissioned lead tests obtained through public records requests, Sacramento officials knew of lead contamination inside the gun range as far back as 2006. In 2012 a consultant hired by the city warned that exhaust fans from the highly contaminated range building were venting “indoor air directly to the outside without any filtration.” In late 2014, after Sacramento’s auditor started looking into concerns about lead, the range was finally padlocked. But the neighborhood was simply told it was temporarily closed for cleaning. There was no mention of lead. Emails obtained by Capital & Main show that, despite the lack of public warnings, the city was well aware of the health threat. In a January 2015 email, Jim Combs, the director of city parks at the time, posed a question to a half-dozen city hall officials, including Assistant City Manager Howard Chan (who was recently named city manager): “What if we just closed the doors and did nothing else at this time?” Sacramento’s Loss Prevention Manager, Barbara Brenner, responded by making it clear that inaction was potentially illegal. “There are regulations prohibiting storage of hazardous waste for more than 90 days,” Brenner wrote, adding, “the roof should be cleaned of lead dust ASAP and soil around the down spouts tested to determine if there is any further external contamination that needs to be removed.” Despite Brenner’s call for action, the roof wasn’t cleaned and no lead tests were conducted in the park around the gun range building for 445 days. And it took two tries to get it right. On April 1 of this year, according to emails obtained for this article, a city employee directed a technician from the consulting firm Stratus Environmental where to test in 14 spots around the building. Those tests delivered a clean bill of health showing no lead hazard, findings that top city officials internally trumpeted and discussed disclosing to the public. “Great news. Now how do we get this out?” read one email. Another suggested there was no “scientific reason” for conducting additional tests because of the “initial clean results.” But there were two fundamental problems with the city’s first lead tests. Lead typically is found close to the surface and, according to multiple experts interviewed for this article, rarely penetrates one foot below the ground’s surface. The technician tested one to two feet underneath the soil, thus avoiding toxic soil on the surface. Furthermore, the technician lacked the required certification required under California law to conduct lead tests. According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH),  the department found no certification for the technician “that would allow this person to perform a lead hazard evaluation, including sampling for lead in soil or a dust wipe.” Stratus Environmental deferred all questions to the city of Sacramento. A city spokesperson acknowledged that the technician had no lead certification, but said none was required because “state lead inspection certification is only required if testing buildings for lead paint or asbestos, not lead soil testing.” The CDPH says that is simply incorrect, that “an uncertified person may not perform a lead hazard evaluation in California.” That certification requirement, CDPH told Capital & Main, includes soil testing next to a public building. “A subsequent email from Sacramento County to the city strongly insisted on hiring certified personnel to conduct lead tests and to clean up the lead hazard. It’s unclear if the flawed tests could have allowed the public to be kept in the dark about toxic levels of lead in a public park. Increased scrutiny helped ensure that was not the case. The day after the Bee article appeared, Sacramento Assemblyman Kevin McCarty wrote a letter to the DTSC, saying he was troubled by “the threat to public health” in a neighborhood he called “a mix of working class and lower income communities which include many families and young children.” A meeting between state regulators and city officials ensued. Finally, four days after the Bee article appeared the city did what had been urged 15 months earlier — it conducted soil tests (this time by licensed testers) that could detect health hazards. The results were disturbing: The grounds around the range building were highly contaminated, with lead levels registering as high as 762 times above what the DTSC considers toxic. Sacramento’s current parks director, Christopher Conlin, briefly mentioned the city’s first lead tests at the April community meeting. “The next day after we got those results we went in and talked to the folks at county and at state and we agreed that we needed to go out and do another testing regime,” Conlin said. At that same April church meeting, the message from city officials was that the problem had now been contained by a fence, erected around the gun range days before. I assumed government officials in California have our back when it would come to protecting kids from any kind of dangerous level of a toxic substance like lead. Standing before an oversized photo of the park, Conlin, a confident and well-spoken former Marine commander who served as a provincial governor in Iraq, was effective in easing fears. He pointed to the results from a test at an archery range located next to the gun range building. The test showed barely detectable levels of lead, well below any “threshold of contamination,” Conlin told the crowd. Listening attentively was Eric Janssen, a volunteer coach of a kids’ archery club. Janssen found Conlin’s presentation convincing. “I assumed,” he later said, “government officials in California have our back when it would come to protecting kids from any kind of dangerous level of a toxic substance like lead.” The city’s website echoed Conlin’s message: “Tests this week show that Mangan Park play areas are free of any unsafe levels of lead in the soil or on surface areas. This includes the playground, archery range, soccer field and picnic area.” Heman Smith, another community member present at the church meeting, was composed but clearly emotional as he spoke, his wife gently calming him with a hand on his back. “I live 71 feet and six inches from the facility,” he said. Smith wondered if the fence that had been erected around the building was really enough to protect his family. Charlie Ridenour, a DTSC supervisor overseeing the range cleanup, downplayed the possibility of widespread contamination, telling the assembled that the dust inside the building was largely contained. “It’s heavy dust that falls mostly near the building,” Ridenour said, adding, “If I lived across the street, based on the data I have seen, I would not be concerned.” But Ridenour and Conlin’s assurances were based on incomplete evidence. The only comprehensive lead soil tests that had been conducted were done within five feet of the building. Only three additional soil samples had been collected in the rest of the vast park, with its picnic areas and soccer fields. In fact, much of the park, including several heavily used soccer fields, remains untested today. Peter Green, a University of California, Davis expert in urban lead contamination, warned me in April that officials were exuding a false sense of security, especially given the extent of the contamination outside the building. “What we have is a little bit of good news mixed with a whole lot of contamination,” Green said, explaining that lead does not spread evenly. Contamination almost always comes in the form of “hot spots.” What was needed, Green said, was a systematic and scientific approach to assess the problem involving “step-out tests.” “We’re talking 10 to 20 samples around the perimeter of the building, and 10 to 20 samples in another circle at a more moderate distance,” he said. “If all those tests are close to the natural levels, then that is remarkably good news.” But, Green added presciently, “I would guess that some of those would show up higher, in the hundreds or even thousands of parts per million, [well above toxic levels].” It’s now clear that the city gave the all-clear signal far too soon for areas like the archery range. Tests performed in late June and July showed that the archery range was extensively contaminated. Eleven soil samples showed levels above what DTSC considers potentially toxic. Yet regulators did not order the archery range fenced off until August 16th — 123 days after the city declared the archery range “free of any unsafe levels of lead.” There are two agencies overseeing the testing and cleanup of James Mangan Park and the Mangan Park neighborhood: Sacramento County’s Environmental Management Department (EMD) and, at the state level, the DTSC, which is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency. The city of Sacramento is responsible for hiring the lead testers and the cleanup crew, but the work must be approved by the county and state. A review of emails between the two agencies and the city shows that while some important tasks, such as removing tainted dirt around the gun range building, have gotten done, the three government entities showed little urgency when it came to carrying out lead tests, and in the case of the archery range, reacted slowly when notable levels of lead were found. The archery range begins less than 40 feet from the gun range, yet additional tests did not occur for more than two months after the church meeting. When new tests showed multiple readings over the level the DTSC considers potentially toxic, officials delayed fencing off the area for more than a month. More than a dozen neighborhood residents interviewed for this story say the archery range is simply part of a large open space. When the targets are not in use, dog walkers use the same space, kids frequently play there, along with soccer players and family picnickers. In a July 15 email, Charley Langer, an EMD official, made an argument for holding off on the fence because “it is an active archery range” and that “a reasonable parent would not let a child play there.” Langer declined a request to explain his statement. “You will be receiving a response to this via Brenda Bongiorno [a Sacramento County spokeswoman],” Langer wrote in an email. “EMD and DTSC discuss and deliberate regarding the best methods to apply in protecting the public health regarding specific locations,” Bongiorno stated in a subsequent email. “Based on these discussions, to protect the public while appropriate mitigation activities could be carried out, fencing was erected at Mangan Park encompassing the areas where lead levels above 80 mg/kg were found in the soil.” This just feels like a violation of the compact between government and the public to protect us. Officials created further delays by expressing doubts that the lead in the archery range’s soil came from the nearby highly contaminated building – because it contradicted their meteorological models for wind vectors. Lead expert James Wells claimed this obsession with finding another culprit responsible for the lead so near the gun range represents a loss of perspective. “You’ve got to assume that lead contamination in soil in such close proximity to a known source originates from that source,” he said. “It’s unscientific, and defies common sense, to attribute the archery range findings to some mysterious, unknown source when you’ve got the gun range 40 feet away.” “It’s also a mistake,” Wells added, “to rely solely on air dispersion modeling to justify disregarding the gun range. There are a million ways that contamination can spread from point A to point B that aren’t recorded at the regional weather station.” It is important to note that, while the lead levels in the archery range are of concern to parents, the levels set by the DTSC are intended to protect the long-term public health. Even if the kids who visited the archery range were exposed to lead dust in the soil, they would not be in any danger unless they ingested the toxin, a possibility with toddlers, but less likely with older kids. Still, the archery coach Eric Janssen bristled when he was told that, while he brought kids to use the archery range three times over the summer, regulators knew the levels were above California’s standards: “This just feels like a violation of the compact between government and the public to protect us.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. 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23 июня 2014, 14:12

Standard & Poor.s: каковы основные риски для российской экономики

Невыплата долгов "Нафтогазом" не будет считаться дефолтом всей Украины. Тем не менее, страна может официально стать банкротом в ближайшие год - два. Такой прогноз озвучил Моритц Краемер - он возглавляет группу суверенных рейтингов Standard & Poor.s. Поможет ли Украине МВФ, что ждет российские госкомпании и как ответить на обвинения в политической ангажированности?