Safe and secure don’t work for the warrior activist. Standing on the sidelines watching the bully smack another kid, countless men beat, belittle, humiliate women to no end, or just looking out your window from a 5 story walkup and seeing 6 kids trying to stomp a young cat to death for the fun of it just doesn’t work for some people in life. You don’t get an invite to this way of life, you can’t train for it, you see wrong hurt and automatically step up as life calls upon you from somewhere within your soul and the rough ride stays with you until your last breath feeling that with all you gave it still wasn’t enough to stop the pain and wishing for one more moment to step and say; Hey, What The Fuck Are You Doing, Stop That! You can’t do that to…
Americans must account for the natives here when they came and the blacks they dragged over here kicking and screaming there will be no peace until this is settled…not because these groups will demand it, but you set the game up with your rules; law, accounting, finance: the energy in place once these rules have been implemented will demand it in order for their credence to have merit and continue or they will cease to exist of their own accord…there are no vacuums
© 2014, agentleman.
A GENTLEMAN’S VIEW CHALLENGE TO PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT: A Platform for 2016 Presidential election;
If we continue to do things the same way, they most certainly won’t change…
This is the National Agenda Of The Progressive Party.
- Economic Justice: Prosperity should be accessible to everyone, not merely the few.
- Civil Rights: Every individual’s civil rights must be protected; discrimination and harassment based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or physical and developmental ability should be banned.
- Health Care: Every individual should have affordable, quality health care.
- Education: It is essential that we invest in quality public education for all.
- Environment: We must commit to restoring and protecting our environment.
- Reproductive Freedom: Women and men – not politicians – deserve the right to make personal decisions about their reproductive health in accordance with their own personal and moral beliefs.
These are some specifics that address the issues of today’s reality and the stated Progressive agenda:
1. This country pays American taxpaying dollars subsidizing Fortune Five Hundred Companies during the last year to the tune of 63 Billion dollars. My understanding of the whole purpose of being one of elite prestigious companies on this list besides policies that make Wall Street happy is the ability to a) pay all employees a wage good enough to afford one wager earner per family as to allow real child rearing to take place in America and to do this without having United States subsidizing your employees with food stamps, to pay their fair share of corporate taxes if they have enough money to pay obscene bonuses to their CEO’s, to bring jobs home to America instead of utilizing sub standardly supported employees overseas. Meet those requirements and make them the standard then maybe some relief can be considered but during the last ten years of war in which much profit was made, very little was paid to support the patriotic work of our military much less the support the infrastructure updates needed all around this great nation by those companies making ever so much more profit. These savings will be the foundation funding education discussed below in item #8.
2. Immediate shutdown of all corporate subsides for foreign companies and any American Companies or business entities making profit during this support, manufacturing/operating overseas for avoidance of tax responsibilities (i.e. Apple). This should be about being an American citizen first an recognized American Business entity, proudly willing to participate in forwarding the American cause and Ideals. 50% of this savings should directly be put to education in addition to the savings from item #1 and would not be an added tax on any corporation or individuals to fund.This is simple, show profit, pay huge bonuses you don’t need United States government financial tax payer subsidized support for those benefits to the business or individuals. THIS ARGUMENT WILL NO LONGER BE ACCEPTABLE WITH PROGRESS: ‘Removal of subsidies equals tax increase’.
3. Refinance all outstanding mortgages at 3% and forgive related debt underwater and otherwise to include interest and penalties, give all financial institutions impacted an one time charge off without addition subsides for those outstanding balances. The point here is not to reward those who shouldn’t have taken part in the bad mortgage programs, but give a chance to homeowners who can afford to and not punish them as we did not the bankers. Let us be honest; many people will gain advantage from these saving including some responsible for causing this damage in the first place, so be it.
4. Forgive all student debt to include all interest and penalties, Banks were paid to stay in business while all others suffered, so no charge off for this loss period! The idea is to use avenues of revenue in place today and free up personal household debt. Take the government out of the business of profiting from educating its citizens which America should gladly welcome. See item #8.
5. Mandatory solar on all federal buildings by end of first term (2021). This is a no brainer when it comes to directly setting the tone for Uncle Sam’s responsible and representative behavior and policy about climate. The United States government has a mandate as a national security issue to take any action necessary to reduce this governments carbon footprint production, this and the next item starts us in that direction.
6. Electric government motor pool by 2025 for passenger vehicles, seeking full electronic transportation motor pool by 2040. Again making a statement that Uncle Sugar will take a conscience effort to a much smaller carbon footprint with the government’s motor pool and impact on climate.
7. Single payer modification made to the Affordable Care Act, Complete medical coverage for women’s health that allows for full range and control of choices. This would be the right thing to do to a system stolen from the opposition with the mission of giving to the client (health care patient) as little as possible for their money as put together by the Heritage Foundation in opposition to the Hillary Clinton Health Care plan.
8. Free full academic/vocational college education for all naturalized citizens who desire such education; vocational education and/for advancement can stand in its stead 10 year time limit to completion. See #2 for cost for implementing this educational national push.
9. Minimum wage standard at federal of 22 dollars an hour. $10.10 is not a ‘real living wage’ and an insult that doesn’t address family’s ability to have one parent at home, or childcare costs for single parents. If we claim to be about family we need to invest in the reality of what it takes to have and run a family today.
10. Fully subsidize purchases of electric personal passenger automobiles for 10 years . (Vehicles must meet standard of fully electric operational capability and can not be hybrid) This would be like the homes for vets after world war 2, with the intent of moving as many people as desired to convert to green mobility to be able to do so.
All of this he/she could do by executive order, two for each of Her/His first week in office. These executive orders would directly impact the financial status of the middle and lower strata Americans across a broad spectrum of households in a way that would immediately stimulate economic growth and activity for continued expansion by freeing up money that was being paid to continue to be buried under all this debt. Wall street was taken care of without begging Congress to get off their asses and do what they were elected to do and that is legislate instead of the traitorous behavior this country has witnessed to date. This would adjust the playing field for awhile, there is still much work to achieve a level one. This is where I fail to see the boldness of today’s Progressive Movement…
Pick a point, the economy, make a stand, suggest practical solutions, then put people on the spot, arguing with a fool only proves there are two, we have five years of two parties of fools arguing… Any of my followers who can suggest an even stronger platform, I will post their suggestions, I just thought we should at least attempt to care about and take care of the home front first. These suggestions attempts to address the financial difficulties everyone but the people who cause the catastrophe in the first place are experiencing. If we are not doing anything to give back/restore/build some trust with those who been devastated by the impact of this recession then the rest is straight bullshit! These 10 items address actions that can be taken presently and will positively impact many Americans across the spectrum no matter the party and that would be a good thing for America not just for Wall Streets Billionaires…
A Lesson From Ecuador: “Health is a right guaranteed by the state and whose fulfilment is linked to the exercise of other rights, including the right to water, food, education, sport, work, social security, a healthy environment and everything that promotes well-being. The state shall guarantee this right by implementing economic social, cultural, educational and environmental policies. It shall guarantee permanent, timely and non-exclusive access to programmes, actions and services promoting and providing comprehensive healthcare and reproductive health. The provision of healthcare services shall be governed by the principles of equity, universality, solidarity, interculturalism, quality, efficiency, effectiveness, prevention, and bioethics with a fair gender and generational approach.” President of Ecuador statement about the citizens of his country which we could learn from…A Third World Country like that.
© 2013 – 2014, agentleman.
Catholic Bishops Scrap Welcome To Gays
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays Saturday, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families.
The bishops failed to approve even a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals that stripped away the welcoming tone of acceptance contained in a draft document earlier in the week.
Rather than considering gays as individuals who had gifts to offer the church, the revised paragraph referred to homosexuality as one of the problems Catholic families have to confront. It said “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy,” but repeated church teaching that marriage is only between man and woman. The paragraph failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
Two other paragraphs concerning the other hot-button issue at the synod of bishops – whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion – also failed to pass.
The outcome showed a deeply divided church on some of the most pressing issues facing Catholic families.
It appeared that the 118-62 vote on the gay section might have been a protest vote by progressive bishops who refused to back the watered-down wording. The original draft had said gays had gifts to offer the church and that their partnerships, while morally problematic, provided gay couples with “precious” support.
New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, said it was “very disappointing” that the final report had backtracked from the welcoming words contained in the draft. Nevertheless, it said the synod’s process “and openness to discussion provides hope for further development down the road, particularly at next year’s synod, where the makeup of the participants will be larger and more diverse, including many more pastorally-oriented bishops.”
The draft had been written by a Francis appointee, Monsignor Bruno Forte, a theologian known for pushing the pastoral envelope on ministering to people in “irregular” unions. The draft was supposed to have been a synopsis of the bishops’ interventions, but many conservatives complained that it reflected a minority and overly progressive view.
Francis insisted in the name of transparency that the full document – including the paragraphs that failed to pass – be published along with the voting tally. The document will serve as the basis for future debate leading up to another meeting of bishops next October that will produce a final report to be sent to Francis.
“Personally I would have been very worried and saddened if there hadn’t been these … animated discussions … or if everyone had been in agreement or silent in a false and acquiescent peace,” Francis told the synod hall after the vote.
Conservatives had harshly criticized the draft and proposed extensive revisions to restate church doctrine, which holds that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered,” but that gays themselves are to be respected, and that marriage is only between a man and woman.
“We could see that there were different viewpoints,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracis of India, when asked about the most contentious sections of the report on homosexuals and divorced and remarried Catholics.
German Cardinal Walter Kasper, the leader of the progressive camp, said he was “realistic” about the outcome.
In an unexpected gesture after the voting, Francis approached a group of journalists waiting outside the synod hall to thank them for their work covering the synod.
“Thanks to you and your colleagues for the work you have done,” he said. “Grazie tante.” Conservative bishops had harshly criticized journalists for reporting on the dramatic shift in tone in the draft, even though the media reports merely reflected the document’s content.
Francis’ gesture, and his words inside the synod hall chastising bishops who were overly wed to doctrine and were guided by “hostile rigidity,” as well as those bishops who showed a “destructive goody-goodiness,” indicated that he was well aware of the divisions the debate had sparked. His speech received a four-minute standing ovation, participants said.
Over the past week, the bishops split themselves up into working groups to draft amendments to the text. They were nearly unanimous in insisting that church doctrine on family life be more fully asserted and that faithful Catholic families should be held up as models and encouraged rather than focus on family problems and “irregular” unions.
The bishops signaled a similar tone in a separate message directed at Christian families released Saturday. There was no mention whatsoever of families with gay children, much less gay parents, and it spoke of the “complex and problematic” issues that arise when marriages fail and new relationships begin.
“Christ wanted his church to be a house with the door always open to welcome everyone, without excluding anyone,” the message read. (Oddly, the English translation was less welcoming than the official Italian, ending the sentence after `everyone.’)
Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa, who helped draft the revised final report, told Vatican Radio the final document showed a “common vision” that was lacking in the draft.
He said the key areas for concern were “presenting homosexual unions as if they were a very positive thing” and the suggestion that divorced and remarried Catholics should be able to receive Communion without an annulment.
He complained that the draft was presented as the opinion of the whole synod, when it was “one or two people.”
“And that made people very angry,” he said.
Annalisa Camilli contributed to this report.
© 2014, agentleman.
6 Idiotic Right-Wing Statements This Week: O’Reilly Goes Off the Deep End Edition
Even his fellow Fox Newsians can’t take the stupidity anymore.
1. Fox’s Eric Bolling demonstrates that if ever there was a “boob on the ground” he is it.
President Obama saluted the troops with a latte in his right hand this week, thus launching a flurry of some of the most inane commentary about patriotism the world has yet witnessed. A round of golf and a tan suit have nothing on latte. On Fox, it was all-latte-all-the-time, they were so hopped up on the stuff. This incredibly minor incident is all the right-wing needs to prove that the president has “no respect for the men and women in uniform.” And Fox’s Eric Bolling, co-host of “The Five,” is just the man to set the president right on that. But first, he just has to tell everybody this really funny line he thought of about the first female fighter pilot for the UAE, who is helping drop bombs on ISIS targets. “Would that be called ‘boobs on the ground?’” Bolling quipped Oh, good one, Eric. Hahahahahaha.
Even his co-hosts, and other Fox Newsians, like Greta van Susteren, collectively groaned. They wanted to know, Eric, how are we going to score points against Obama disrespecting the military when you make jokes like that?
Later, after his wife apparently gave him a dirty look when he arrived home that night, Bolling apologized on the air twice. So you know how heartfelt it must have been. Wifey’s reaction is likely the only reason he apologized. It is also likely that he has many other boob jokes ready to go, because he just loves using that word.
2. All of Bill O’Reilly’s Fox co-workers say his plan for a huge mercenary “strike force” to fight Islamic extremists is beyond absurd.
Bill O’Reilly was so pleased with himself this week. He had come up with a solution to the problem of violent Islamic jihadist extremists, and it was brilliant. All we need is a 25,000-person, well-paid, mercenary “world-wide strike force,” he told viewers. “You wouldn’t believe how many military people who have called me and gone, ‘that’s a great idea.’
He was right. No one believed him.
Charles Krauthammer said: “You’ve gone from out of the box to off the wall. Do you really want to be running around the world responsible for a band of desperadoes?”
A guest military expert said: “It’s a terrible idea. We’re not going to solve this problem by creating a band of Marvel’s Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy.”
It seems that no one is taking O’Reilly seriously any more.
Back to the drawing board, Bill. Time for another cartoonish plan.
3. Sarah Palin no longer seems to recognize or care that her words make absolutely no sense.
“Don’t retreat: You reload with truth, which I know is an endangered species at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue. Anyway, truth,” Sarah Palin told the crowd at the intellectually scintillating Value Voter Summit this week.
Of course, 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue is the famous address of, uhh, the plaza in front of the Willard Hotel? But you get her drift, don’tcha?
Another excerpt: “Bush’s war was bad, but Barack’s bombs, oh baby those red lines, the strategery [sic] there that was thought up on the back nine, Barack’s bombs, oh they’re the bomb.” Palin seems to have reached the point where she mimics speech by stringing random thoughts and right-wing memes together, and it sounds to her like language. How she got this way is unclear. Too many family brawls, a blow on the head during a moose-hunting expedition, too much Fox News, having been given a national platform before her brain was fully formed? Those are some of the theories kicking around. The audience looked a bit bewildered, so she topped it all off with her version of the now infamous latte salute.
Everyone laughed and laughed. At last a recognizable joke.
And yes, that’s right. She used the word “strategery.”
4. Michele Bachmann: Declare war on Islam; bet no one’s ever tried that before, and it worked out great.
Palin was not the only looney tunes speaker at the Values Voter Summit. Her pal Michele Bachmann managed to take our breath away with her stunningly ignorant, bigoted speech suggesting we “declare war” on Islam. In his speech to the nation, President Obama had the audacity to say that the airstrike war he was launching against ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. That is just not acceptable to xenophobes and Islamophobes like Bachmann, who is just dandy with the idea of a modern-da crusade. Perhaps someone should gently inform her that this is precisely the narrative ISIS would like to disseminate.
“Yes, Mr. President, it is about Islam!” Bachmann bellowed to the conservative crowd. “And I believe if you have an evil of an order of this magnitude, you take it seriously. You declare war on it, you don’t dance around it. Just like the Islamic State has declared war on the United States of America.”
She then said Obama should be more Reagan-like, and that he should practice “Peace through strength,” as Reagan did with the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. Confusing, because we could have sworn that peace is precisely the opposite of what she had just suggested.
Neither historical accuracy, nor logical consistency shall dim her wild-eyed passion.
5. Laura Ingraham says fighting ebola is all about redistributing wealth. (Yes, she said that.)
Laura Ingraham perseveres in her role as one of the wickedest witches on the right-wing fringe. Her preferred target of unaccompanied minors and illegal immigrants of all ages has now become intertwined with her hysteria and meanspiritedness about ebola. She just resents the hell out of the fact that American troops are being deployed to help fight the worst ebola outbreak in history. Can’t we just lock the doors, close the gates, put a pillow over our heads and wait for it to kill off a bunch of Africans? she wonders.
The above is not much of an exaggeration of Ingraham’s actual words on her radio show this week, which were:
“If we are really serious about ebola being a threat to the United States of America, we have to shut down our border because you never know who could come across–probably not people with ebola, but who knows. We gotta be much tougher on who we allow to come into this country legally on planes….”
Of course, this is all Obama’s fault. He’s the one who sent our troops to help fight the outbreak, which just makes her hopping mad, in both senses of the word. Also, up to this point, she’s acutally been holding back from being as deeply offensive as she really wants to be. But like the ebola virus, her virulence is hard to restrain. (Warning: protective clothing recommended for the following.)
“The military is just another tool in his arsenal to level the playing field, right?” Ingraham argued. “I mean, in other words, Africa really deserves more of America’s money because we’re people of privilege. We’re people of great privilege, so we should do what we can, we the American taxpayers, to transfer wealth over to Africa. It’s his father’s rage against colonialism, as Dinesh D’Souza wrote about, and maybe this is a way to continue to atone for that… If a few American military personnel have to be exposed to the ebola virus to carry out this redistribution of the privileged’s wealth, then so be it.”
Again, nobody beats Ingraham, not even relatively tepid and tame Ann Coulter, for sheer green venom issuing from her mouth.
6. MIT frat president Bill Frezza gets all mixed up about the purpose of “drunk female guests” at frat parties.
A number of things seem screwy about the op-ed from the president of the Beta Foundation, a person you’ve likely never heard of until now, named Bill Frezza. In a column published briefly in Forbes this week, the MIT genius alum argued that “drunk female guests are the gravest threat to fraternities.” Wait, has ISIS heard about this grave threat to our way of life?
And also, where is he getting this notion? Drunk female guests are essential at fraternity parties. Who else are you going to have sex with when they pass out?
The trouble is that drunk female guests lie, Frezza believes, and not in a good way, which would be to lie still.
This human mix of lint and phlegm really argued this, which can only mean that he really thinks it, which does elevate his woman-hatred to the level of Rush, “No means yes if you know how to spot it” Limbaugh.
Like Limbaugh, Frezza knows full well that the feminazis will unfairly attack him for, well, blaming women for everything including being raped.
“Before feminist web vigilantes call for my defenestration, I single out female guests for one simple reason,” he wrote. “Fraternity alumni boards, working with chapter officers, employ a variety of policies designed to guide and police member behavior. Our own risk management manual exceeds 22 pages.”
Wow, 22 whole pages! That’s tough, we had no idea MIT students had to do all that reading.
“But we have very little control over women who walk in the door carrying enough pre-gaming booze in their bellies to render them unconscious before the night is through.”
Fear not, Frezza has a plan to deal with the Greek life-threatening enemy: “Identify drunks at the door.” Bar the door. Keep them out. Drunk women, that is. Because fraternity brothers never get drunk.
He said all this and more. And Forbes published it. Then they took it down and fired him, because apparently, they had to be told that this screed was utterly offensive.
© 2014, agentleman.
8 Heartbreaking Cases Where Land Was Stolen From Black Americans Through Racism, Violence and Murder
In his 2007 documentary Banished, filmmaker Marco Williams examined four examples of primarily white communities violently rising up to force their African-American neighbors to flee town. This became one of the techniques used to sabotage Black land ownership, a devastating trend in the 19th and 20th centuries that robbed Blacks of millions in generational wealth.
In 2001, results from an 18-month investigation of Black land loss in America were published by The Associated Press. It turned up 107 of these land takings, 57 of which were violent, the other cases involved trickery and legal manipulations. Here are eight of these heartbreaking stories.
Today, the town of Birmingham, Kentucky, lies under a floodway created in the 1940s. But at the start of the 20th century, it was a thriving tobacco town with a predominantly Black population. It also was a battleground during a five-year siege by white marauders called Night Riders. On the night of March 8, 1908, about 100 armed whites on horseback raided the Black part of the town, shooting seven people, three of them fatally. The AP documented 14 cases where Black landowners were driven from Birmingham. Together, they lost more than 60 acres of farmland and 21 city lots to whites – many at sheriff’s sales, all for extremely low prices.
In Pierce City, Missouri, 1,000 armed whites burned down five Black-owned houses and killed four blacks on Aug. 18, 1901. Within four days, all of the town’s 129 African-Americans fled, never to return, according to a contemporary report in The Lawrence Chieftain newspaper. The AP documented the cases of nine Pierce City Blacks who lost a total of 30 acres of farmland and 10 city lots. Whites bought it all at bargain prices.
A total of 330 acres plus 48 city lots owned by 18 Black families living in Ocoee, Florida, were lost after a violent Election Day attack on the Black community in 1920, known as the Ocoee Massacre. Some were able to sell their land at a fair price, but most were not. In 2001, the land lost by the 18 Ocoee families, not including buildings now on it, is assessed by tax officials at more than $4.2 million, according to the AP report. The true market value is probably a lot more.
After midnight on Oct. 4, 1908, 50 hooded white men surrounded the home of a Black farmer in Hickman, Kentucky, named David Walker. The mob burned his house down after Walker shot at them and refused their orders to come out, according to contemporary newspaper accounts. Walker ran out of the burning house with four young children and his wife, who was carrying a baby in her arms. The mob shot them all, wounding three children and killing the others. Walker’s oldest son died in the flames. No one was ever charged with the killings, and the surviving children were denied access to the land their father died defending. Land records show that Walker’s 2 1/2-acre farm was added to the property of their white neighbor. The neighbor soon sold it to another man, whose daughter owns the undeveloped land today.
According to county residents, during the 1950s and 1960s, Holmes County, Mississippi, Chevy dealer, Norman Weathersby, then the only dealer in the area, required Black farmers to put up their land as security for small loans for farm equipment and pickup trucks. Weathersby’s accomplice, William E. Strider, ran the local Farmers Home Administration – the credit lifeline for many Southern farmers. Area residents told the AP that Strider, now dead, often delayed releasing the operating loans to Blacks. When cash-poor farmers missed payments owed to Weathersby, he took their land. The AP documented eight cases in which Weathersby acquired Black-owned farms this way. He died in 1973, leaving more than 700 acres of this land to his family, according to estate papers, deeds and court records retrieved by the AP.
In 1964, the state of Alabama sued Lemon Williams and Lawrence Hudson, claiming the cousins did not rightfully own two 40-acre farms their family had worked in Sweet Water, Alabama, for nearly a century. The land, officials contended, belonged to the state. Circuit Judge Emmett F. Hildreth urged the state to drop its suit, declaring it would result in ”a severe injustice.” But when the state refused, saying it wanted income from timber on the land, the judge ruled in favor of the state. The state’s internal memos and letters on the case are peppered with references to the family’s race. In the same courthouse where the case was heard, the AP located deeds and tax records documenting that the family had owned the land since an ancestor bought the property on Jan. 3, 1874. Surviving records also show the family paid property taxes on the farms from the mid-1950s until the land was taken.
White farmers known as White Caps, angered by the prosperity experienced by successful Black farmers, often used violence and intimidation to force African-Americans off their land. The Brookhaven Leader newspaper reported at the time that Eli Hilson of Lincoln County, Mississippi, got a warning on Nov. 18, 1903, when White Caps shot up his house just hours after his new baby was born. Hilson ignored the warning. A month later, the 39-year-old farmer was shot in the head as he drove his buggy toward his farm, the newspaper said. The horse trotted home, delivering Hilson body to his wife, Hannah. She struggled unsuccessfully without her husband to raise their 11 children and work the 74-acre farm, losing the property through a mortgage foreclosure in 1905. According to land records, the farm went for $439 to S.P. Oliver, a member of the county board of supervisors. Today, the property is assessed at $61,642.
In Jasper County, Mississippi, according to historical accounts, the Ku Klux Klan, resentful that African-Americans were buying and profiting from land, regularly attacked Black-owned farms, burned houses, lynched Black farmers and chased Black landowners away. On the night of Sept. 10, 1932, 15 whites torched the courthouse in Paulding, where property records for the eastern half of Jasper County, then predominantly Black, were stored. Records for the predominantly white western half of the county were safe in another courthouse miles away. The door to the Paulding courthouse safe, which protected the records, usually locked, was found open with most of the records reduced to ashes. Suddenly, it conveniently became unclear who owned a big piece of eastern Jasper County. In December 1937, the Masonite Corp., a wood products company and one of the largest landowners in the area, was granted a clear title for 9,581 acres of land, which has since yielded millions of dollars in natural gas, timber and oil, according to state records. From the few property records that remain, the AP was able to document that at least 204.5 of those acres were acquired by Masonite after Black owners were driven off by the KKK. At least 850,000 barrels of oil have been pumped from this property, according to state oil and gas board records and figures from the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council, an industry group. Today, the land is owned by International Paper Corp., which acquired Masonite in 1988.
© 2014, agentleman.
Alabama Pastor Had Sex With Church Members Despite Known AIDS Status
He also admits to mishandling church money but refuses to step down.
An Alabama pastor is being sued by members of his congregation after he admitted to sleeping with worshippers at his church despite knowing of his AIDS status, reports WECT 6.
Juan Demetrius McFarland, who served as pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Montgomery, Ala., told his congregation on Sept. 14 that he had contracted HIV in 2003 and learned in 2008 that he had AIDS. One church member said that the congregation was very accepting of McFarland when he made the announcement, according to WSFA 12.
However, McFarland’s next several sermons led the congregation to push him to step down. In a resolution read aloud at church, McFarland, pastor of the church for 29 years, admitted to drug use and mishandling church funds, church deacon Nathan Williams Jr. said. But that wasn’t the worst part.
“He concealed from the church that he had knowingly engaged in adultery in the church building with female members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church while knowingly having AIDS,” Williams said.
McFarland refused to step down after admitting his behavior. The church responded by overwhelmingly voting him out on Sunday, Oct. 5 in an 80-2 vote. But that hasn’t stopped McFarland from appearing at the church. He delivered a sermon this past Sunday on divine healing.
The church has obtained legal counsel to sue McFarland.
“The majority of the members were shocked,” Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips, a lawyer hired by the church, said. “There were only about 50 people there. But why show up to a church you have been voted out of? A lot of members are intimidated. He has run that church like a dictator over the years.”
Deacon Chair Nathan Williams, Jr. said the congregation just wants to move on. “We want peace. We are not trying to hurt him. We want to move forward the right way and start healing,” Williams said.
McFarland doesn’t have a lifetime contract with the church.
“Even if he did, you have to remain in good standing when you sign any contract and he has proven with his own confessions that he has not. So it would be void anyway, but the fact is he does not have a contract with the church,” McPhillips says.
Terrell Jermaine Starr
© 2014, agentleman.
How to Protect Public Revenues From the Next Meltdown
By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt
This piece first appeared at Web of Debt.
Concerns are growing that we are heading for another banking crisis, one that could be far worse than in 2008. But this time, there will be no government bailouts. Instead, per the Dodd-Frank Act, bankrupt banks will be confiscating (or “bailing in”) their customers’ deposits.
That includes local government deposits. The fact that public funds are secured with collateral may not protect them, as explained earlier here. Derivative claims now get paid first in a bank bankruptcy; and derivative losses could be huge, wiping out the collateral for other claims.
In a September 24th article titled “5 U.S. Banks Each Have More Than 40 Trillion Dollars In Exposure To Derivatives, Michael Snyder warns:
Trading in derivatives is basically just a form of legalized gambling, and the “too big to fail” banks have transformed Wall Street into the largest casino in the history of the planet. When this derivatives bubble bursts (and as surely as I am writing this it will), the pain that it will cause the global economy will be greater than words can describe.
The too-big-to-fail banks have collectively grown 37% larger since 2008. Five banks now account for 42% of all US loans, and six banks control 67% of all banking assets.
Besides their reckless derivatives gambling, these monster-sized banks have earned our distrust by being caught in a litany of frauds. In an article in Forbes titled “Big Banks and Derivatives: Why Another Financial Crisis Is Inevitable,” Steve Denning lists rigging municipal bond interest rates, LIBOR price-fixing, foreclosure abuses, money laundering, tax evasion, and misleading clients with worthless securities.
Particularly harmful to local governments have been interest rate swaps misrepresented as protecting government agencies from higher rates.
Yet as Michael Snyder observes:
At this point our economic system is so completely dependent on these banks that there is no way that it can function without them. . . . We are steamrolling toward the greatest financial disaster in world history, and nobody is doing much of anything to stop it.
Sidestepping the Steamroller
California Governor Jerry Brown sees it coming. Rather than rebuilding the state’s crumbling infrastructure, rehiring teachers and other public employees, and taking other steps to restore the Golden State to its former prosperity, he has proposed a constitutional amendment requiring all excess state revenues to go into a rainy day fund to prepare for the next crisis.
But there is a better way forward.
In North Dakota – the only state to post a budget surplus every year since 2001 – the state owns its own bank. When the state last went over-budget in 2001 due to the Dot.com crisis, it merely issued itself an extra dividend through the Bank of North Dakota – the only state-owned depository bank in the country – and the next year it was back on track.
Other local governments would do well to follow suit, not just for the promising profit potential, but as protection against a “bail in” of public deposits.
Forming their own banks can also protect local governments from a looming and unaffordable rise in municipal bond interest rates. State treasurers fear that the Fed’s September 2014 exclusion of municipal bonds from the category of “high quality liquid assets” that big banks must hold will drive up bond rates, as it shrinks the market for those bonds and drives up the interest required to attract buyers.
There is also the big money local governments lose to Wall Street just in fees. A 2013 study found that the city of Los Angeles spends over $200 million annually on big bank fees and management – more than its budget to maintain its extensive streets and highways.
In a recent press conference, Mayor Javier Gonzalez of Santa Fe raised provocative questions facing all elected officials today. He said:
Right now our bank is Wells Fargo. They serve the City according to our contract. But they also take city revenues, taxpayer dollars, and they use those taxpayer dollars as part of their loan portfolio that goes to places outside of Santa Fe and certainly outside of New Mexico. And when you think of that most basic concept of taxpayer money being used to earn revenues for national banks that have reduced their small business lending by 53%, you have to pause and wonder – is this the best structure for our community?
Addressing these concerns, Mayor Gonzalez has launched a formal process to study the feasibility of a city-owned bank of Santa Fe. Public banking efforts are also underway in other cities and states.
How to Start a Bank Overnight
Forming a state or municipal public bank need not be slow or expensive. An online bank could be run out of the Treasurer’s office and operational in a few months. And the bank could be turning a profit immediately – without spending the local government’s own revenues.
How? The way Wall Street does it with our public deposits and investments: by leveraging. We could reclaim those funds and put them to work for our local economies.
The bank could be capitalized with a bond issue (borrowing from the public), and this capital could be leveraged into a loan portfolio that is about eight times the capital base. The bond issue could be financed with 1/8th of the interest accruing from this portfolio. The remaining 7/8th could be pocketed as profit.
This profit could be earned immediately and without risk, by buying municipal bonds rather than issuing loans. That move could also help municipalities, by guaranteeing that their bond rates remain low in the face of threatened interest rate rises on the private market.
How to Start a Bank at Virtually No Cost or Risk
To demonstrate the safety and viability of the model, the bank can start small and build from there. For startup capital, a new bank needs anywhere from a few million to $20 million nationwide. (The amount varies from state to state.) To be cautious and conservative, however, let’s say $40 million.
Many cities have this money available in “rainy day” or reserve funds. Many others have substantial investments, often underperforming, that could be more responsibly invested as an equity position in a bank. In California, for example, a whopping $55 billion is languishing in the Treasurer’s Pooled Money Investment Account, earning a mere 0.23% interest.
Moving a portion of those funds into the state’s own bank would just be good portfolio management. State pension funds are another investment option.
If surplus funds are not available, capital can be raised with a bond issue. (That is how the Bank of North Dakota got its start in 1919.) Assume the interest due on these bonds is 3%. The local government’s cost of funds will be $1.2 million annually.
At a 10% capital requirement, $40 million is sufficient to capitalize $400 million in loans. But again assume the bank is started conservatively at a 20% capitalization, for a loan portfolio of $200 million.
To make those loans, the bank will need deposits. These can be acquired without advertising or other costs, by moving $200 million out of the local government’s existing deposit account at JPMorgan Chase or another Wall Street bank. (In North Dakota, all of the state’s revenues are deposited by law in its state-owned bank.) Assume the new bank pays 0.3% interest on these deposits, or $0.6 million annually as its cost of funds.
To satisfy the 10% reserve requirement for deposits (something different from the capital requirement), $20 million of this deposit pool would be held in reserve. The remaining $180 million are counted as “excess reserves,” which can be used to make an equivalent sum in loans or bond purchases.
Assume the excess reserves are used to buy local municipal bonds paying 3% annually. The return to the bank will be $5.4 million less $0.6 million in interest on the deposits, for a total of $4.8 million annually.
To recoup the cost of the bond issue, $1.2 million can be paid from these profits as a dividend to the local government. The bank will then have a net profit of $3.6 million annually; and this profit will have accrued to the local government as the bank’s owner, without needing to advance any money from its own budget.
What if the state needs its deposits for its budget?
That is the beauty of being a bank rather than a revolving fund: banks do not actually lend their deposits, as the Bank of England recently acknowledged. Rather, they create deposits when they make loans. If the state or local government needs more cash for its operating expenses than the bank has kept in reserve, the bank can do what all banks do: it can borrow. And if it has grown to be a large bank, it can borrow quickly and cheaply – from other banks through the Fed funds market at 0.25%, or from the money market at 0.15%.
A smaller public bank might want to keep a larger cushion of deposits in reserve for liquidity purposes. If it keeps 30% in reserve, in the above example $140 million would be left to invest in bonds, generating $4.2 million annually in interest. Deducting $1.8 million as the cost of servicing deposits and capital, the bank would still generate $2.4 million in profit, while providing a safe place to park public revenues.
What of the bank’s operating costs? These can be kept quite low. The Bank of North Dakota operates without branches, tellers, ATMs, retail services, mega-salaries or mega-bonuses. All those saved costs fall to the bank’s bottom line.
Ballpark operating expenses for a small but growing public bank with a President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Lending Officer, Chief Credit Risk Management Officer, Compliance Officer, and the systems required to support a banking function are estimated at under $1 million per year. A start-up focused on municipal bonds could be operated for even less. This expense could come out of the initial $40 million in capitalization, again without impairing the local government’s own operating budget.
Manifesting the Bank’s Full Potential
Once a charter has been obtained and sound banking practices have been demonstrated, the capital ratio can be dropped toward 10%. When the bank has built up a sufficient capital cushion, it can begin to work with community banks and other financial institutions for the broad range of commercial lending that creates jobs and prosperity and generates profits as non-tax revenue for the municipality, following the Bank of North Dakota model.
The public bank can also invest in infrastructure loans to the state or local government itself. Interest now composes about half of capital outlays for public projects. Since the local government will own the bank, it will get this interest back, cutting infrastructure costs in half.
These are just a few of the possibilities for a publicly-owned bank, which can provide security from risk while generating a far greater return on the local government’s money than it is getting now on its Wall Street deposit accounts. As we peer into the jaws of another economic meltdown, moving our public funds into our own banks is an investment we can hardly afford not to make.
Ellen Brown is an attorney,
© 2014, agentleman.
How Tesla and New Car Technologies Could Send Auto Dealers the Way of the Dodo Bird
When auto dealer lobbies cry foul, they are sure to be coddled by state lawmakers.
Consumers hate the new-car buying experience.They hate the haggling and the cheesy sales tactics, and they hate leaving feeling ripped off, even if they drove off with a good deal. Car salespeople are the least trusted professionals in the nation, even beating out members of Congress for the dubious title.
But for 80 years, that’s been the only game in town. If you’ve ever bought a new car, you’ve had to do it at a car dealer and on its terms. Unless you recently bought a Tesla, that is.
The direct-sales model Tesla uses threatens the very existence of car dealers. The electric-car company markets its cars through stores called galleries and over the Internet. There’s no dickering, bait-and-switch or trade-ins, and no sales people if you don’t want them. All prices are set, you pick the features and options you want from a menu and your car is delivered to your door. The entire experience is often described as being as easy as buying from the Apple Store.
John Voelker, editor of Green Car Reports, says that if Tesla’s direct-sales model catches on, it could be a huge “crack in the dam” for dealers as consumers will naturally gravitate to the better car-buying experience.
“The dealers are afraid that the public will find that this is a process that is vastly more appealing,” says Voelker. “And if Tesla gets big and is selling 500,000 cars in 10 years, then people are going to talk about their experience, and others will demand the same when they buy. The dealers know this.”
Automotive analysts say that if Tesla’s model proves successful it could inspire other car makers like General Motors, Ford or Toyota to once again try direct sales themselves (as they have, unsuccessfully, on a few occasions since World War II). The dealers believe this might doom them.
But the auto dealers — knowing their business model is flawed, antiquated and imperiled — are not going down without a fight. Dealer associations are aggressively protecting their turf using their powerful state lobbies to pump legislators and governors either to shut Tesla down or hobble it so it can’t become a threat. Many states already have laws stating that automakers can’t sell cars directly to the public and compete with the independent dealerships that sell their brands. But now, dealers want statehouses to rewrite those laws to apply to automakers that don’t have dealers, like Tesla.
Last month, Iowa became the latest state to challenge Tesla Motors’ right to sell its cars directly to consumers. The state’s Department of Transportation told the electric-car manufacturer that it must stop offering test drives in the state, because it isn’t registered as an auto dealer there. The state’s DOT ordered Tesla to halt its test drives only after it was tipped off by the state’s Automobile Dealers Association, according to the Des Moines Register.
Iowa joins Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, and Texas in restricting the direct sales of Teslas. The only states to formally approve of Tesla’s direct-sales model are California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Virginia
Tesla’s ability to sell cars directly is being vigorously challenged across the country. According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing the 12 largest automakers, dealers have pushed 33 bills in 26 states so far this year. Auto dealers have also tried to challenge Massachusetts laws allowing Tesla sales operations there, taking their case to the state’s courts; however, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled in the car maker’s favor.
Why Are Dealers Afraid of Tesla?
It might seem curious that a state would prohibit an automaker from selling its cars directly to consumers, and that state lawmakers are so quick to act against Tesla. But the legal objections to Tesla’s sales model are rooted in states’ laws, some written decades ago, that forbid automakers from competing against franchised car dealerships.
Dealerships have been at odds with the concept of direct sales by the automakers since the Depression era. Back then, dealers were considered independent and therefore more accountable to their buyers, with whom they stayed in contact through the entire ownership experience. So regulations were put in place to stop the car companies from competing against dealers as they could have an unfair pricing advantage and could possibly shut them down. Consumers would suffer because they would be at the mercy of a large corporation, not a local proprietor.
Jim Ziegler, an automotive sales trainer, says that Tesla will eventually bust the dealer franchise laws on the books and allow for all car makers to sell directly to consumers. But he still believes that the laws, as they were written then, are a public benefit.
“Franchised dealers give consumers a competitive advantage with service and pricing. Factory-owned stores do not provide that,” argues Ziegler in an article in Ward’s Auto. “Politically, consumers might think the protected dealer franchise system is not in their best interest. Dealers generally sell their cars at a loss or break even. The manufacturers make the lion’s share of the profit. With manufacturer control, margins and prices will increase.”
This Year’s Model
One of the reasons Tesla gives for eschewing the dealer business model is that the service and maintenance on its cars is distinct from that of internal-combustion engine cars. The all-electric Model S (the only Tesla currently on sale) requires no oil, spark plugs, fuel filter changes, or tuneups. There are no emissions to be tested. If something goes wrong, it can often be fixed with a software update or patch sent over the Internet. If there’s a need for physical service, Tesla sends over a flat-bed to pick up the car and leaves a loaner, all for free. Thus, Tesla maintains it has no need for a service department, one of the most integral parts of a dealership.
While the Model S, introduced last year, may have fewer parts to service, it has had some dependability problems and glitches early on, though that’s not unusual for any first-year model, despite the drivetrain. And while Tesla says it won’t make servicing its cars a profit center, it doesn’t mean its cars are bulletproof.
“Tesla’s are still electro-mechanical devices,” says Voelker, “Their mechanical parts will still wear out. They’re still going to need servicing over time.”
So, with a high-tech sales and service operation to go with its electric car, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he found little need for the dealership-style business model.
“When Tesla came along as a new company with no existing franchisees, the auto dealers, who possess vastly more resources and influence than Tesla, nonetheless sought to force us to sell through them,” says Musk. “The reason that we did not choose to do this is that the auto dealers have a fundamental conflict of interest between promoting gasoline cars — which constitute virtually all of their revenue — and electric cars, which constitute virtually none.”
Voelker agrees with Musk and argues that it wouldn’t be the best model for electric-car education or sales to pit electric cars against gasoline cars in the showroom. “Dealers will just want to continue to do what they’ve done in the past, because they understand gasoline cars. Also, it takes three to four times longer to sell an electric car, so there’s less incentive for them, too.”
Salespeople at Nissan dealerships have tried hard to talk buyers out of the all-electric Leaf in favor of the gasoline-powered Sentra, says Voelker. They’ve reportedly gone as far as to convince buyers that the Leaf electric car, which has a very limited driving range, “could leave your wife stranded at 3am.”
State House Battles
Auto dealer lobbies have strong ties to state legislatures across the U.S. stemming from their political contributions. According to Open Secrets, the National Automobile Dealers Association, a lobbying group that represents car and truck dealers nationwide, spent $3 million on political contributions in 2012 and another $3 million on lobbying. This figure does not include the large amounts regional dealership associations and dealers contribute to state campaigns and lobbying efforts. Thus, when auto dealers cry out, it is sure to induce heart pangs in lawmakers.
In Texas, the automotive dealers have been successful in making sure the state’s current laws protecting dealerships are enforced. This bars Tesla from selling cars in the state. However, Tesla has kept its galleries in Houston and Austin open by prohibiting its employees there from discussing pricing and purchasing options or even offering test drives. Employees at the galleries are also prevented from referring customers to any outstate or online retailers. Tesla says that leaves Texans frustrated as they can’t even get the most basic information from the galleries.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has also been aggressive in barring Tesla from operating in the state, saying the company doesn’t have the right to unilaterally change the way cars are sold there. This prompted a legal challenge by Tesla and two versions of compromise legislation that would allow the electric-car maker to run four stores in the state as long as it opened two service centers, forcing it to forsake its business model. If Tesla wanted to open a fifth store in New Jersey, it would have to be operated by an independent franchisee.
In nearby New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators on both sides of the aisle have also threatened to end Tesla sales, but the car maker recently worked out a last-minute deal to keep selling there by promising not to open more than the five direct-sales outlets it now has. Tesla has worked out a similar deal in Ohio.
Georgia’s Department of Revenue is considering action against Tesla after the state’s Automobile Dealers Association filed a complaint saying Tesla sold 173 cars at its suburban Atlanta store, when it was only allowed to sell 150 cars.
Missouri’s efforts to ban Tesla sales might be the most pathetic. There’s no law in the state barring direct sales of automobiles; instead, Missouri’s laws only bar car makers from competing against their franchisees. Earlier this year, state senators tried to sneak anti-Tesla language into a bill originally pertaining only to off-road and all-terrain vehicles. The bill, HB 1124, passed the Missouri House earlier without any anti-Tesla language. However, the Senate version, which passed with no notice or public consultation, sought to limit the sales of all new cars and trucks only through franchised dealerships. The House balked at reconciling the two versions of the bill.
“This debate should be held in the full light of day with all sides being given an opportunity to make their case,” Musk declared on Tesla’s company blog. “Instead, the dealers are again trying to ram through a provision under the cover of darkness and without public debate. The people of Missouri deserve better from their elected officials.”
What’s Best for Consumers?
The Missouri bill also got the attention of the Federal Trade Commission, which came out in support of Tesla’s right to sell vehicles directly to consumers. In a blog post, the commission said: “Regulators should differentiate between regulations that truly protect consumers and those that protect the regulated.”
The FTC’s opinion follows the lead of the U.S. Department of Justice Economic Analysis Group, which is part of the department’s Antitrust Division. Back in 2009, before Tesla had opened a single gallery, it found that state prohibitions against direct sales from car makers may harm consumers. The paper on the DOJ’s website recommends “eliminating state bans on direct manufacturer sales in order to provide automakers with an opportunity to reduce inventories and distribution costs by better matching production with consumer preferences.”
The report argued further that direct-sales models might be more in sync with emerging consumer buying choices.
“Just as Dell has altered its distribution model in the personal computer industry to better meet evolving consumer preferences, car customers would benefit from elimination of state bans on auto manufacturers’ making direct sales to consumers,” said the report’s author, Gerald R. Bodisch.
Separately, a letter signed by more than 70 leading economists dismisses every dealer argument against direct sales and concludes that bans are only motivated by “economic protectionism that favors dealers at the expense of consumers and innovative technologies.”
The government and economists are joined by consumer advocacy groups, including the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Auto Safety, which contend that direct sales by automakers would benefit car buyers. Consumer Reports, which gives the Model S its highest score among the cars it’s tested, has yet to take a definitive stand on the issue of Tesla’s sales model. “Consumer Reports is closely observing Tesla and its efforts to sell vehicles through its own stores,” a spokesperson told AlterNet. “But the organization hasn’t taken a formal position on the matter yet.”
© 2014, agentleman.