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Stolen Country Stores

Abby Haight/SFGate-AP: Nurseries struggle with lagging economy:

A few, like Niklas' Clackamas Greenhouses, have gone bankrupt. "The family has poured money into it as we tried to restructure it and make new markets," said Niklas, who had to file bankruptcy after losing almost half his sales when his primary retailer was bought out. "Commercial lenders aren't talking to me because I'm coming out of bankruptcy. "They aren't even talking to GM, so why would they talk to a little nursery?"

Just so. If you have any questions about why and how we have been reduced to a "stagnation" nation, you need to look no farther than the confines of the White House, and the halls of Congress. The curious lack of interest and leadership has created anticipation of a coming Spring that looks like no relief for the masses. See, the f*cking financial industry already got theirs - and they don't produce anything, manufacture anything, or provide anything of any value to anyone anywhere. They grow . . . money.

Tell ya what, let's give the D.C. dipshits until somewhere around the 4th of July. No results by then, and I think we have to *fire* every single one of them and start all over again. You know: "Clean House".

Black Tar

Image @ Wiki

Sam Quinones/LAT:

A lethal business model targets Middle America [Part 1 of 3]

The dealers have been especially successful in parts of Appalachia and the Rust Belt with high rates of addiction to OxyContin, Percocet and other prescription painkillers. They market their heroin as a cheap, potent alternative to pills.

It's yet another kind of pyramid scam, only far more lucrative, and much easier to run. Get in for any amount, turn your neighbors and friends on, and *you* get back free product in exchange. And the damndest thing about the trade is, at some point the honcho at the top of that food chain has a nest egg in either a Swiss bank, or safely in the arms of, say, Goldman-Sachs.

You know, it's "god's work", and ya got to keep the customer satisfied.

The 'Atlantic's' Coast

The level of irrelevance increases daily over @ the Atlantic's "Politics" bar. They've gone from an 'ok', fast-food type of analysis, to this:

Question Of The Day: Cheney Vs. Biden--Who Won?.

The obvious answer is: 'oh look, a squirrel!'. But that's not important here - or there - which is precisely the point, isn't it?

Fear Itself

Image from Mars Attacks © Warner Bros., 1996

DEVLIN BARRETT and BEN FELLER are reporting on the administration's confusion - newly found - over the location and type of trial of the man who planned 9/11. The much-vaunted courageous New Yorkers have turned into a quivering mass of jelly, Eric Holder has devolved into a political sycophant, and on this particular issue, Obama is no different than Bush.

Maybe it's got something to do with that fancy new red bubbly weapon McConnell's pointin' at the Prez'? Some kinda disruptor 'r somethin? Nah. Just politics as usual.

Baby, Fat

Image: Bored Baby @ PanicButton

AFP: Start obesity prevention in the cradle, study urges:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A team of US doctors has urged that obesity screening start in the cradle after a study they conducted showed that half of US children with weight problems became overweight before age two.

Oh good christ. What next? Miniature treadmills? Probably. It's America, and the "O's" are involved: Obama, Oprah, and Dr. Oz.


Image: Robin Allen - Sheriff of Nottingham © BBC.co.uk

Duke Helfand/LAT:

Anthem's parent company defends health insurance rate hike

Company executives said that less than a quarter of affected Anthem customers in California will see rate increases of 35% to 39%. The average will be about 25%, while some customers will see rates fall, they said.

WellPoint is trolling for dollars for the same reason the legendary Sheriff of Nottingham demanded ever-higher taxes from the peasants: they lost the money on whores and gambling. Or more accurately, investment banks and derivatives.

Money For Nothing

Image © Pricks of the Trade Tattoo Supplies

Duke Helfand/LAT:

Congress opens probe into Anthem Blue Cross rate increases

Congress opened an investigation Tuesday into Anthem Blue Cross' impending rate increases in California as President Obama cited the premium hikes -- some as high as 39% -- in his bid to pass national healthcare legislation.

For the last couple of days this has been writ large in the nation's print, yakked to death on the 24/7 news, and has finally resulted in bi-coastal government demands for the CEO of WellPoint to appear before Committees of Import.


21st Century Tribal Warfare

Karl Malakunas/AFP: 197 people charged with murder over Philippine massacre:

In total, 197 people were charged, including other senior clan members, local government officials and policemen who allegedly helped organise the killings, as well as thugs accused of abducting and shooting the victims.

Power corrupting absolutely in a very small pond indeed.

How Low Can You Go?

Commercial Construction (Sacramento, CA)

Are you looking for an amazing long term opportunity with an eco-friendly expanding company? We are looking for candidates with Commercial Construction or Glazing experience to work in the Sacramento area. All candidates interested in this opportunity must be able to pass a pre-employment drug screen and background check.

Compensation: $10.00/hr

'Eco-friendly' in the description usually means energy retrofits, which usually means Federal Stimulus, which means prevailing wage, which means fair value for labor. So at a base wage for apprentice laborers of $18+/hr, plus benefits, these guys missed the mark by half. Makes you wonder where the labor compliance people are, eh?

Gone. The Republicans wouldn't stand for monitoring. I mean, they hung Katrina funds out to dry until the Dems bent over forward and removed labor protections. And today they're hanging up the appointment of one more labor commissioner to enable a quorum at the NLRB, because, well, they *can*.

Change we can count on? None.

So if you're a local contractor getting federal cash filtered through a State contract for retrofits, no worries. Pay the poor bastards whatever you think you can get away with.

Those Magnificent Men & Their Lying Machines

Lipstick on a Flying Pig[Minor edit: added lipstick on flying pig image. CM1]

We can no longer afford to pay more for - and get less from - our government. The answer for every problem cannot always be another program or more money. . . We must reward the people and ideas that work and get rid of those that don't.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore, National Performance Review, 1993

Andrew McIntosh/sacbee: Lawmakers lash out at EDD (9 Feb):

The latest overruns come on top of a five-year delay and $80 million more in cost increases on other computer modernization projects at EDD, according to a report produced for the Assembly Insurance Committee.

Change we can count on.

Some Plans

Image @ CompareNow.com

Duke Helfland/LAT: California cracks down on discount health plans:

In 2001, the former director of the Department of Managed Health Care decided that the agency had no jurisdiction over the discount outlets because they did not [meet] the state's definition of health plans.

Four years later, however, the department's current director reversed the policy, arguing that the discount firms met the definition by arranging for services in exchange for fees.

Ain't that America.

The Value of Things

Zillow Home Value Index


Just a reminder about the fluctuations in value being dependent on geography, date of purchase, and projected life of the of the product. Begs the simple question: how much is a particular *property* worth? A particular *mortgage*?

Aye, there's the rub. Not one of the 'experts' who invested in a 1/10000th share of my mortgage has a f*cking clue. And because of that battle between bullshit and bearshit, the entire planet is suffering? More or less, yes.

Clean Energy: 'We suck'

Martin Lamonica/CNET: In clean energy, U.S. needs more steel in ground:

"We're still pretty good at invention or discovery but in terms of deployment, we're losing ground. In fact, you could say we suck," said Mike Davis . . Pacific Northwest National Laboratories . . "Our ability to throw sand in the gears in terms of development in this country is just phenomenal. We've perfected it."

Guy must be a holdover from the Reagan years. Or be a Norquist fanatic. Yes, we're very good at invention, but it isn't "we" who suck. The problems arise when big development truly believes in "forgiveness is easier than permission" as a business plan. Like Love Canal, Three Mile Island, half the military bases in the Country, virtually all of our major cities, Bhopal . . .

You get the idea.

The remedy for development delays is simple: get those multi-million and multi-billion dollar multinationals to cough up the money to pay for enough professional staff to review, analyze, and advance the projects in less time.

After all, it's only money. They have it. "We" don't.