The small U.S. agency that oversees offshore drilling doesn't write or implement most safety regulations, having gradually shifted such responsibilities to the oil industry itself for more than a decade.
Instead, the Minerals Management Service—now caught up in the crisis of the Deepwater Horizon rig that for weeks has sent crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico—sets broad performance goals for the industry. Oil producers and drilling companies are then free to decide for themselves how to meet those goals, industry executives and former regulators say.A Wall Street Journal examination of the MMS's track record found several instances of the agency identifying potential safety problems and then either not requiring follow-up or relying on the industry to craft a solution. In some cases, the industry didn't do its part.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
The great mystery surrounding the historic health care bill is how the corporations that provide coverage for most Americans -- coverage they know and prize -- will react to the new law's radically different regime of subsidies, penalties, and taxes. Now, we're getting a remarkable inside look at the options AT&T, Deere, and other big companies are weighing to deal with the new legislation.
Internal documents recently reviewed by Fortune, originally requested by Congress, show what the bill's critics predicted, and what its champions dreaded: many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.
That would dismantle the employer-based system that has reigned since World War II. It would also seem to contradict President Obama's statements that Americans who like their current plans could keep them. And as we'll see, it would hugely magnify the projected costs for the bill, which controls deficits only by assuming that America's employers would remain the backbone of the nation's health care system.
Hence, health-care reform risks becoming a victim of unintended consequences. Amazingly, the corporate documents that prove this point became public because of a different set of unintended consequences: they told a story far different than the one the politicians who demanded them expected.
At least Nancy Lollapelosi didn't lie when she said we'd have to pass the bill to know what's in it......
The editors at the biggestYou mean she's a dumb ass.on the West Coast, who were expected to endorse Sen. Barbara Boxer in her primary campaign against token opposition, have decided to remain neutral, saying the California Democrat doesn't display enough intellectual firepower.
The left-leaning Los Angeles Times on Friday declined to offer endorsements in all Democratic and Republican primaries for governor and Senate, saying the races have been undermined by politics and money.
But the newspaper's decision to sit on the sidelines for the Boxer race could prove to be the most damaging of all, given the newspaper's criticism of the three-term senator.
"On the Democratic side, we find that we're no fans of incumbent Barbara Boxer," the newspaper said in an editorial Friday. "She displays less intellectual firepower or leadership than she could."
One of the things I noticed several issues ago, Rolling Stone almost never trashes a new CD release. I believe in the past three months, I've seen maybe 3 CD's receiving a rating of less than 3 stars (out of five). Let's call it grade creep for the rich and famous.
Why is that?
See, because of Rolling Stone's lefty political leanings, they have no problem selling their soul for a star or two.
Seriously, Rolling Stone knows the game. Give a Justin Beaver CD a bad review and you don't get cover shot of Justin with no shirt next month. As a result, Rolling Stone decides everyone gets a participation metal so they can get that exclusive interview with Fergie or Taylor Swift or Jay Z or Chris Martin, no matter what pile of crap they release.
The same holds true of government officials.
Let's assume you are responsible for something like.......... oh........ say........ making sure oil platforms don't explode and leak billions of gallons of oil into the gulf. You don't get that job if there are no oil platforms in the gulf.
So, you become a defacto lobbyist on behalf of the oil business because you know more oil platforms in the gulf means more workers for you to supervise and the more likely you are to move up the government scrotum pole. You also realize that a company like BP isn't going to invest a billion dollars on a platform just so it will fall over so you pass on things like inspections because that's real work. Besides you need to investigate more important environmental hazards; like Grand Canyon oil spills.
The same holds true for FAA, FTC, DOT, ATF, MMF, JJU, LBJ, JFK, FUBAR, etc agencies. First, you need to offer up a good tragedy like....... say....... global warming and then you get to set up a government agency with a staff who gets cushy ass benefits. Then it's up to you to make sure that industry gets nice and large because so that you can justify big ass trips to Bora Bora to investigate sea levels on the beach while your sucking down on Pina Coladas.
The watch dog becomes a lazy hound.
The best thing about it. You never lose your job. Because, in the world of government, when you get a call in the Grand Canyon that a oil platform collapsed, you simply say you didn't have the resources or authority to prevent the tragedy and Wallah! You get even a bigger budget! It's a win win for everyone.
Except for the taxpayer.
See, BO (Before Obama) businesses were required to issue 1099 forms to any sole proprietor, partnership or LLC who was paid more than $600 for services rendered. I guess somehow it was deemed important to country's healthcare bill to add corporations to that.
So what does this mean? It means that my utility company gets a 1099, my phone service, Intuit, Office Max, Office Deport, Shell Oil, Sam's Club, Costco, etc., etc..... In fact, where I used to issue two 1099's a year, now that number is going to be at least 20.
An all-but-overlooked provision of the health reform law is threatening to swamp U.S. businesses with a flood of new tax paperwork.
Section 9006 of the health care bill -- just a few lines buried in the 2,409-page document -- mandates that beginning in 2012 all companies will have to issue 1099 tax forms not just to contract workers but to any individual or corporation from which they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a tax year.
The stealth change radically alters the nature of 1099s and means businesses will have to issue millions of new tax documents each year.
Right now, the IRS Form 1099 is used to document income for individual workers other than wages and salaries. Freelancers receive them each year from their clients, and businesses issue them to the independent contractors they hire.
But under the new rules, if a freelance designer buys a new iMac from the Apple Store, they'll have to send Apple a 1099. A laundromat that buys soap each week from a local distributor will have to send the supplier a 1099 at the end of the year tallying up their purchases.
Guess who's going to make lot's of money off of this? Gordon that's who.
But hey, businesses don't need that money and time for more important things, like workers' wages........
Thanks Reader Jeremy for the link.
More at Taxprof
Thursday, May 06, 2010
In the plating business, there are lot's of chemicals discharged into the sewage and companies are accountable for that discharge with the local sewage district.
In any event, this owner was telling me that their system kept going off for unusually high levels of phosphorous in their discharge; something not related to their production. No one could figure out where this discharge was coming from, until one day the plant foreman walked by a utility tub and saw some aprons soaking in your common everyday laundry detergent and that was the cause of the alarms.
He made the point that if your everyday consumer had to abide by the laws of businesses, there would be riots in the streets.
The same is true of lawn treatments. You can go to Lowe's and dump as much fertilizer, insecticide and herbicide in your yard but if a lawn treatment company does the same; there will be fines and licenses revoked.
In addition, you sit in your home with your $30 a month phone line, while a commerical business line is $65 a line. Your high speed line is $30, mine is $70. Your utility rates are capped by PUCO, a small business gets no such treatment.
What about taxes? You file a federal, state, and local income tax return a year, what about businesses?
Tax Girl has a post on the PA amnesty plan...........
I’ve also assumed that returns are required to be submitted quarterly. For some businesses, the requirement is for monthly filings – boosting the number of returns due by an amazing twenty-four additional submissions per year.
So, just for the basics, a small business can expect to pay up to – and in some cases more than – forty-three tax returns. In one year.
Do you think it’s possible – just possible – that a small business owner might miss one or two? Or three or four?
Does that make him or her a scofflaw? I say no.
But you don't have any compassion for that small business guy because he probably makes too much money.
A school district in Michigan is defending its intentions after a field trip by African-American elementary students drew complaints from excluded children and their parents.
Officials said Wednesday that 30 students from Dicken Elementary School in Ann Arbor met last week with an African-American rocket scientist at the University of Michigan. It was part of a larger effort to help close persistent test-score gaps between black and white students.District spokeswoman Liz Margolis says the students were booed by others when they returned, and Principal Mike Madison admonished those children for their response. Madison told parents in a letter that the activity could have been approached better but the goal was positive.
Once again, it seems that "progressives" love to go back to the 1950's where dividing people by race was the way of the day.
Isn't it interesting that the people who claim they want a color blind are the people most apt to see people in color only.
Segregating field trips based on race? Now that's "progressive"!
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
I wonder when the main stream media is going to end their narrative that tea partiers are violent.
Let face it, you're more likely to get killed by a lefty than tea partier. If you go to a tea party riot, the only danger you face is someone cutting you off to get to the Portolet.
Rich Lowry on the Greek meltdown.......
The European Union and the International Monetary Fund have extended Greece a $145 billion bailout over three years in exchange for a budgetary clampdown so severe it would make even fiscal ascetics yelp in pain. As the financial analysts say, there's considerable "implementation risk." In other words: Don't hold your breath.
The Greeks got to this point the old-fashioned way: They spent more money on the public sector than they possibly could afford, and then lied about it. Last year, they announced that their deficit wasn't 3.7 percent of gross domestic product as advertised, but 12.7 percent. Only in Athens does a multiplier of more than three qualify as a rounding error.
Rich, did you see the numbers on the Healthcare bill?
Below are maps from the Bush-Kerry and Bush-Gore elections which I believe really illustrate the Blue-Red Divide by county.
While there are some exceptions, here's what we can derive from the maps.
First, that the country is predominately red except for nearly every urban county in the country; the rural and suburban areas tend to be conservative, the urban centers blue.
Second, in nearly every one of these urban centers, here's what we know about them in comparison to "Redville"
1) They have shitty schools
2) They have more crime.
3) They have higher unemployment
4) They have higher taxes
5) They have bigger budget issues despite their higher taxes
6) Higher housing costs
But hey, you don't have to take my work for it. Just look at the number of people fleeing the urban centers like Detroit and Cleveland. Moses couldn't rally a larger exodus.
About twenty years ago, as a flaming liberal I finally had to ask the question. Why is it that every city is a shit hole while the outlying suburbs actually function?
And given that every city in this country is run by liberal democrats, I came to the conclusion that liberal policies just don't work; for anyone. When you add to the equation the transformation New York City has gone through with the leadership of just two politically moderate mayors, it just reinforces my treatise.
I don't know what liberals like Sidney Independent would consider better run but I'm thinking that if the quality of life is so damn good in the city, people would be moving there, not leaving; including myself.
Earlier this week, I did a post about violence on an Oakland city bus. Sidney Independent was nice enough to comment with this one.
"And there are plenty of towns that have had nothing but conservative leadership that are run just as bad as you would characterize Oakland."
Really? Well first, I guess we need to determine just how bad is Oakland run...........
LAST JUNE, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums publicly proclaimed that he would take a 10 percent pay cut. Eighteen thousand dollars wasn't going to make much of a dent in the city of Oakland's then $83 million shortfall. However, the gesture was clearly meant to give Oakland residents the impression that the city's top elected official was willing to share some of the pain brought on by the city's budgetary woes.
So far that's not really backing up Sidney's comment. But hey, Mayor Dellums is competent, right?
The mayor's embarrassing financial problems are a matter of public record. He and his wife, Cynthia, still owe the Internal Revenue Service more than $252,000 in back taxes and penalties — which one can reasonably presume was a major factor in the mayor's decision not to honor his pledge.
Dellums also has been trying to sell a house he inherited from his mother to pay off his debts.
Yet Dellums' financial problems do not excuse that the mayor misled the public into believing that he had taken a pay cut, when he had not.
But when you factor in that Oakland has one of the highest murder rates in the country as well as depression like unemployment numbers I think one would be hard pressed to find few cities run worse than Oakland. Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland and Washington DC all come to mind but there hasn't been a republican in those cities since man invented time.
But hey, I'm still open. If anyone out there can educate me on what conservative run city is actually worse than Oakland, I'm all ears.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Court records show that the suspect in the failed Times Square bombing defaulted on a $200,000 mortgage on his Connecticut home and that the property is in foreclosure.
Records obtained by The Associated Press show that Chase Home Finance LLC sued Shahzad in September to foreclose on the home in Shelton.
The foreclosure records show Shahzad took out the mortgage on the property in 2004, and he co-owned the home with a woman named Huma Mian. The foreclosure case is pending in Milford Superior Court.
A message was left Tuesday with an attorney for Chase's law firm. The records show Shahzad and Mian didn't have lawyers for the case.
On June 2, 2009, Shahzad departed the U.S. for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. In July, he reportedly traveled to Pakistan and is believed to have visited Peshawar, a city known as a gateway to the militant-occupied tribal regions of the country, according to MSNBC.
Shahzad last entered the U.S. on Feb. 3, 2010 after a five-month visit to Pakistan. According to authorities he purchased the Nissan Pathfinder used in the attempted bombing three weeks ago for $1,300. He responded to a Craigslist ad and paid for the vehicle in cash.
If this were a Law and Order episode, Sam Waterson would find a way to charge Chase Home Finance for terrorist activities since it was their corporate greed that fueled this clown's terrorist ambitions.
But riddle me this Batman. How is it that a guy who's got $1,300 cash and enough money to fly to Pakistan and Dubai doesn't have enough money to pay his mortgage?
The FBI began the investigation after identifying Mulato as a suspected member of a gang that shipped black tar heroin from Mexico to Cincinnati. Surveillance revealed that Mulato, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, had a wife and three children and that he owned a Mercedes-Benz, along with 10 other cars that he was in various stages of repairing.
A man who police believe might be in the country illegally from Guatemala allegedly blew kisses at and offered a 10-year-old girl cash to come with him.
It's a story you saw first on 9News.
Cincinnati Police arrested 28-year-old Laureano Mendez-Reynoso around 11 Sunday night. Police say he twice tried to lure a girl; once on Saturday night, and another time on Sunday night. The last alleged attempt led to his arrest.
A teenager who lives in Hamilton is in jail, accused of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
The Butler County Sheriff's Office says deputies found 18-year-old Ramon Padilla partially clothed in a car around 9 p.m. Tuesday night in Saint Clair Township.
Investigators say they found a naked 13-year-old girl hiding in the trunk.
Deputies arrested Padilla.
He's also charged with obstructing official business and criminal trespass.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holder has been put on Padilla due to issues with his legal status in the United States.
A suspect in the December 2007 killings of four Mexican construction workers who were beaten and methodically stabbed in the heart at the Sharonville apartment they shared is in custody in Mexico, according to the FBI.
FBI spokesman Mike Brooks identified the suspect as 34-year-old Santiago Moreno, a Mexican citizen who was arrested Monday. Exactly where in Mexico he was arrested was not immediately available.
The bodies of the four illegal immigrants he is accused of killing were found in their apartment after they had not reported to work for several days.
The four men all lived together in the sparsely furnished apartment, sleeping on mattresses on the floor while sending thousands of dollars to relatives in Mexico, officials have said. Moreno lived in the apartment with the four victims for some time.
According to detectives with the Butler County sheriff’s office, armed with a pellet rifle, Ramirez entered his victim’s home in the early morning hours of Jan. 11. He then demanded money, beat and raped the woman, finally forcing her to drive him to an ATM.And this one
At Friday’s hearing, Dr. Kim Stookey, a forensic psychologist, described her meeting with Ramirez, and the troubling results of the tests she administered to the Mexican national.
Dr. Stookey diagnosed Ramirez as a high-risk sex offender, citing that he seems to be “fixated” on the sight of blood, even being aroused by it. She said his chances for rehabilitation are low, and gave her recommendation that his trial be moved to adult court.
Prosecutors also told the court about Ramirez’ disruptive behavior for the two months he has been incarcerated. In addition to being loud and confrontational, he has reportedly been sexually gratifying himself in public view.
In an earlier proceeding, a detective told the court of a rather sickening statement made by Ramirez, when he was arrested for the rape. Ramirez reportedly said: “Well, I guess you have to pay the price for having a little fun.”
Barnhill, 27, of Mason was stabbed six times and died minutes after a fatal three-inch stab to the chest that punctured his right lung, the coroner said in Warren County Common Pleas Court.And this one
Humberto Mota, 31, and José Mota, 40, both from Mexico, are on trial for allegedly killing Barnhill. The Motas face 15 years to life in prison if convicted.
Authorities are still looking for a third man, Enrique Torres, 36, who reportedly fled Warren County and possibly the country after Barnhill's death.
A man who police say is in the country illegally is behind bars for allegedly having sex with a minor.
Police say a family met 19-year-old Estuardo Ruiz at their church in Lockland and reached out to him, letting him live at their home.
Ruiz then allegedly became sexually active at the family's home with the 13-year-old daughter and impregnated her in January.
The family found out about the conduct and made Ruiz move out.
Ruiz does not speak English and is in the country illegally. Police say he is originally from Guatemala.
This is just the Whitman's sampler of crimes committed by illegals in an area that, frankly, really doesn't have the problems states like Arizona are having.
I'm guessing that if you were the victim of one these thug's crimes, you'd be wondering why the government wasn't doing something about it.
If you want a nice list of all the crimes by illegals in Ohio you can go here and be sick to your stomach.....
Monday, May 03, 2010
Downtown business owners spent Sunday repairing shattered windows and doors after a May Day rally Saturday night turned into a riot with approximately 250 people marching along Pacific Avenue, some carrying makeshift torches, throwing large rocks and paint bombs, and spray-painting walls with graffiti.
At least 18 businesses suffered damage during the rally in honor of international workers that began at 9 p.m. and escalated into mayhem around 10:30 p.m., police said. Investigators estimated damage at $100,000, though some business owners said it could be more. No injuries were reported.
On Sunday, sea green-colored glass littered sidewalks where windows and glass doors had been smashed. Maintenance workers, many getting called in the middle of the night, boarded up windows with plywood until new sheets of glass could be installed.
1. Imperial County, Calif., 31.27
2. Merced County, Calif., 28.29
3. Lyon County, Nev., 27.96
4. San Benito County, Calif., 27.26
5. Sutter County, Calif., 26.41
8. Iosco County, Mich., 24.89
9. San Joaquin County, Calif., 24.78
The leased stress are.......
1. Ford County, Kan., 4.07
2. Ellis County, Kan., 4.17
3. Brown County, S.D., 4.6
4. Brookings County, S.D., 4.66
5. Finney County, Kan., 4.89
6. Riley County, Kan., 5.08
7. Buffalo County, Neb., 5.19
8. Ward County, N.D., 5.22
9. Grand Forks County, N.D., 5.30
10. Lafourche Parish, La., 5.31
Notice a difference here? It appears to me that those "Redville" type counties seem to have a lot less economic stress then those counties tinting blue.
Coincidence? Probably not.
Here we have life on a public bus in Oakland California, where they haven't had a conservative in city government in history.
Usually an assault occurs in "Redville" once every couple of weeks. When it happens in the city, they just call it Monday.
Now did gangsta thug here vote for McCain or Obama in 2008?
What about the 67 year old ass kicker? Obama or McCain.
Watch the follow up video here.
Mrs. Gekko, is the real music fan in our family. Gordon basically puts his satellite radio on Deep Tracks and keeps it there. It's probably no coincidence that I believe that the end of rock and roll occurred when Journey released "Oh Sherry". For me, REM is considered a new, hip band.
None the less, we caught My Morning Jacket last night and let me say, I haven't heard a band with such good guitar riffs since Van Halen was in their prime. These guys can flat out jam. If you get a chance to catch a show of theirs. Do so.
Notes from the day.
That Arena District in Columbus is pretty cool....... if places were actually open. C'mon there was a concert going and the Clippers were in town and yet half the places were closed.
The Lifestyles Community Pavilion is a great venue for a show. Maybe Mark Mallory and Company should quit blowing taxpayer money on a choo choo train through town and look into getting a place like this in down town Cincinnati.
I still don 't get the deal with the pot smoking. I'm going to assume the tree these people smoke is much better than the stuff I smoked as an adolescent but I grew out of that 20 years ago. Maybe I shouldn't complain. After all, I knew I was getting a contact buzz when I started waxing philosophic about Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.
The summer shows in Cincinnati are down this year so the Gekko's are planning some out of town travel to catch some better acts. We're heading to Summerfest for a couple of shows and contemplating a Bonoroo run.
If you go to a show and you hear a middle aged dude talking about Pink Floyd and The Wizard of OZ make sure you say high.
The average high temperature for the month was 70.3 degrees versus an historical high of 64.7.
The average low was 46.7 versus an historical average low of 42.7 degrees.
That brings the challenge to a tie score of
High - 4
Low - 4
Sunday, May 02, 2010
My current client base consists of people from Jamaica, Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela, Pakistan, India, Kuwait, Jordan, France, Germany, Russia, Serbia, England, and Canada. I understand why people want to be here and I have no problem with them coming and adding to our Great American Culture.
But really, can anyone give me one good reason to allow amnesty to people who are here illegally? Let me repeat ILLEGALLY.
There's a reason we and every country on this earth have a border and defends that border (well except the US - Mexican border). It's a public safety hazard to not know who's here.
Like a term paper outline I can give you all the reasons an unsecured border hurts Americans and the people looking to get here.
I) It's unsafe for the illegals locating here.
Let's start with the trip here. Many die just on the trip. Many are kidnapped and sold into the sex trade.
Often at the border, parents have to leave behind children because the coyotes don't want to deal with them. The children (many as young as ten) are told to just get to LA, Phoenix, San Diego and find the parents.
Some of the kids are killed getting on rail cars or are kidnapped and/or sexually assaulted on the trip.
If people knew the border was a non starter, they wouldn't even be tempted to make the trip and, consequently, victimized.
Once here, illegals tend to congregate in communities, many of them are victims of crimes because perpetrators know they won't go to law enforcement to talk for fear of deportation.
While it's romantic to believe that many of the people coming here are hard working folks trying to make a living, the fact is, many of these illegals are criminals escaping the law in their native countries. Nearly all of the MS-13 gangs are illegal immigrants from El Salvador doing nothing but victimizing other immigrants and actual citizens.
Do you want to offer amnesty to these thugs?
Just here in the Cincinnati area we had a 10 year old girl raped by an illegal. A group of four illegals stabbed to death by another illegal, the list goes on and on.
My wife just told me a story about a suspected illegal who was just dumped at their emergency room where he died of what they suspect was alcohol poisoning. Does it serve this man or his family not to know his identity?
II) It hurts blue collar working American Citizens
There are businesses out there who seek to use illegal labor because it's cheap and if the worker gets hurt the business owner just throws them away like a broken circular saw.
Why would you defend a system that perpetuates worker abuse?
In addition, illegals allow unscrupulous businesses to prey on these people either by screwing them on consumer products. Do we really want an environment here where scumbags thrive and ordinary law abiding businesses suffer a competitive disadvantage?
Finally, illegals suck government resources that low income American workers can use. I think that's pretty self explanatory.
Once again, I don't know why we can't have a system that
1) Closes our border.....effectively. If we can't even do that everything else is moot.
2) Require all immigrants to be fingerprinted with a DNA sample, checked for a criminal background and if they meet that criteria, issued a Work permit to work freely in the US under US law.
It wouldn't bother me to have 30 million working immigrants here as long as everyone of them can be accounted for and are actually contributing to our great American Culture.
I don't see how you can even argue against that.