Posted by: coastcontact | December 6, 2017

Time magazine person of the year is “the Silence Breakers”

The choice of most significant person or event of the year is always a subjective decision.  Donald Trump is probably furious that he was not Time magazine’s final choice.

 Sparked by actress Ashley Judd and others speaking out in a New York Times exposé of producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual misconduct, men and women in Hollywood and Washington D.C. started speaking up, dragging the likes of Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Senator Al Franken, Roy Moore and more into the light over alleged harassment of various levels of severity.  Companies heads not in the lime light are now also being impacted by public reaction. 

Also on the Time shortlist of finalists (though the reader’s poll included many more names):  “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Given all the possible choices no one can question their final choice.

If only this stepping forward by victims of harassment really does change behavior.

   

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Posted by: coastcontact | December 3, 2017

Who are the richest people in the world?

I do not know what value this information is to anyone.  It is more or less an answer to the question, who are the richest people in the world?  Following is a list of the 25 richest.

Jeff Bezos, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Amazon (Total net worth $99.6B). The richest man in the world!
Bill Gates, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Microsoft (Total net worth $89.9B)
Warren Buffet, Nationality: American (Total net worth $83.1B)
Amancio Ortega, Nationality: Spanish (Total net worth $76.2B)
Mark Zuckerberg, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Facebook (Total net worth $73.1B)
Carlos Slim, Nationality: Mexican (Total net worth $62.1B)
Bernard Arnault, Nationality: French (Total net worth $61.6B)
Larry Ellison, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Oracle (Total net worth $54.4B)
Larry Page, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Google (Total net worth $51.5B)
Ingvar Kamprad, Nationality: Swedish (Total net worth $50.6B)
Sergey Brin, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Google (Total net worth $50.2B)
David H. Koch, Nationality: American (Total net worth $47.8B)
Charles Koch, Nationality: American (Total net worth $47.8B)
S. Rob Walton, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Walmart (Total net worth $46.2B)
Jack Ma, Nationality: Nationality: Chinese (Total net worth $46.2B)
Jim Walton, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Walmart (Total net worth $45.6B)
Alice Walton, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Walmart (Total net worth $44.9B)
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, Nationality: French (Total net worth $44.3B)
Pony Ma, Nationality: Chinese (Total net worth $40.2B)
Mukesh Ambani, Nationality: Indian (Total net worth $39.8B)
Sheldon Adelson, Nationality: American (Total net worth $35.5B)
Hui Ka Yan, Nationality: Chinese (Total net worth $34.5B)
Steve Balmer, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Microsoft (Total net worth $34.2B)
Li Ka-Shing, Nationality: Chinese (Total net worth $33.7B)
Jacqueline Mars, Nationality: American, Source of wealth: Mars Candy (Total net worth $33.4B)

Posted by: coastcontact | November 29, 2017

Georgie Porgie and other Molesters

I did write that I would like to kiss pretty girls. But did I ever do it? Only those that I was romantically involved with me and only after they behaved in a manner that told me a kiss was appropriate.

So it’s been years of faithful marriage. Still, I couldn’t help recalling this nursery rhyme.

Georgie Porgie pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.

Although not unequivocally linked to an historical event or specific year, this is another example of a nursery rhyme with a historical background. The song tells a story:

Georgie Porgie, Puddin’ and Pie,
1) It seems that Georgy Porgie, whoever he is, may be overweight because he eats too much pudding and pie (Bill Clinton loved McDonald’s burgers, Newt Gingrich is clearly overweight)

Kissed the girls and made them cry,
2) He promised a lot of things to girls, but he never kept his promises – or simply was unattractive to them (what promises did Harvey Weinstein give?)

When the boys came out to play
3) For unknown reasons he got into trouble with other boys (perhaps the other “boys” are concerned that they too will be exposed for their misdeeds)

Georgie Porgie ran away.
4) In case of any conflict, he prefers to run away, in other words, he is a coward. (the cowards are always concerned about their image like Donald Trump)

Therefore, we can assume Georgie Porgie (fill in your choice of molesters) is an immoral figure: lazy, despicable, greedy and cowardly.

Could that be the case for Donald Trump Roy Moore, John Conyers, Al Franken, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and all the rest who have been sexually harassing and molesting women?

How many men reading this blog have molested but thought their actions were entirely acceptable?

Posted by: coastcontact | November 23, 2017

Rivlin

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin came to the Jewish Federations’ General Assembly in Los Angeles to plead for Jewish unity. He harped on Israel’s growth, its innovations, and its place as a home for all Jews. Emphasising that we can do everything better if we do it together.

President Rivlin lamented the Western Wall’s transformation into “a symbol of division and disagreement” between Israel and the Diaspora, and expressed hope that understandings would soon be reached on egalitarian prayer at the holy site.

For those of you who have not been following the issue, the question is about prayers at the Western (or wailing) Wall in Jerusalem. Women are kept separate from men and they cannot pray together. The issue has become a symbol of the difference in religious beliefs of Israelis versus most Jews spread throughout the world (Diaspora).

The problem, as I see it, is that Israel is controlled by the ultra-orthodox who are a political party. Apparently it is a party that has enough voters that can sway the governing of their country. Of course, as in any democratic country, they are free to choose the kind of society they live in. It just is not the kind social order that most American and Canadian Jews want.

North American Jews believe in a social order that is an anathema to the religious people of Israel.

Reuven Rivlin’s purpose in making this speech was his plea for North American Jewish support. It is all about money and political support. After all Israel does not have many friends. The loss of North American Jews would be significant.

Rivlin’s plea did not come with any offers of inclusion of North American Jews. Both American and Canadian Jews are obviously happy with their lives. Is there a reason North American Jews should treat Israel any differently than Americans of Italian decent should treat Italy or those of Irish decent should view Ireland?

As a child I accompanied my grandmother to Saturday morning services.  I was either eight or nine years old.  To my dismay we sat on a mezzanine. Women were required to sit separately from the men and were excluded from the ceremony.  Even at that age I concluded that orthodox Judaism was living in a medieval past. Sorry Grandma.

Lowering the tax rate from the current 35% to the planned 20% will be a dramatic change for corporations. The GOP controlled congress contends that their planned corporate income tax cuts will result in more investment in new business and higher wages for American workers. Will it actually happen? We will have to wait until next year.

Read this report from CNBC.
A meeting of CEOs might seem to be a friendly gathering place for President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs. But at a gathering of chief executives hosted by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday November 14, business leaders called into question one of Cohn’s top arguments for slashing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent.

When one of the Journal’s editors asked the crowd if they planned to up their capital expenditure if the GOP’s tax plan went through, only a smattering raised their hands.

There’s little evidence to support the claim that tax breaks boost employment numbers.

A National Bureau of Economic Research study published in 2014 found “little evidence that corporate tax cuts boost economic activity” unless implemented in a recession.

Far from being short on cash, corporations are sitting on record amounts.

The informal poll was not the only disappointment for Cohn on Tuesday. Another non-scientific poll conducted at the gathering found that more than half of the CEOs present didn’t believe that Congress would pass a major tax bill by the end of the year.

Cohn had previously told reporters that tax legislation would be advanced by the end of the year, calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Is this an opportunity to improve America’s middle class or an opportunity for higher dividend payments to shareholders?

We will know after the tax cut is put into effect. If the result of this tax cut does not provide higher incomes for the middle class the Republicans will lose in the next election.

Posted by: coastcontact | November 16, 2017

Men and Sex

American men have a behavior problem. It seems to be endemic. Most of us seem to believe that it is our right to feel, fondle, grope, and kiss every attractive woman whether she likes it or not. Some of us even believe we have the right to sex acts with those attractive women. We just can’t help ourselves.

Finally after years of remaining quiet about this issue, women are speaking out and making some very powerful men very uncomfortable.

From Bill Cosby to Harvey Weinstein to Judge Roy Moore to Senator Al Franken to President Donald Trump the male behavior is consistently horrifying.

Those listed above are the famous. That same behavior is committed by many others who are not in the lime light.

What is really disturbing is the way those in positions of authority try to push the actions under the rug. They even try to blame the women for their abusive behavior.

Just look at the process congressional aids must go through if they file a complaint of sexual harassment. If a congressional aide wants to file a formal complaint with the Office of Compliance (OOC) they must first engage in 30 days of counseling. After 30 days, they can choose to go into mediation with a representative of the congressional office that they are lodging a complaint against, which can last at least another 30 days. Then, the accuser must wait an additional 30 days before they can officially file a complaint and pursue a hearing either with the OOC or the Federal District Court.

Even if all of us men swear we will change, it seems unlikely that our behavior will actually change.  I admit it.  I see a pretty girl and I want to kiss her. 

Posted by: coastcontact | November 14, 2017

America’s Car Sales

I continue to be a fan of midsized sedan automobiles. They offer enough space to provide comfortable accommodations for four people and with a little squeezing accommodate three people in the back seat along with a trunk that will hold two large suitcases for travel.

I don’t have to climb into sedans as I must if I drive an SUV or crossover vehicle. I can slide into a car with ease. So it is surprising to me that those SUVs or crossovers are now more popular than cars.

The other thing I find surprising is that American brands are not the big sellers. Could it be that Americans prefer quality over brand? Obviously the answer is yes.

Sales of midsized cars for the first 8 months of 2017.

 

Toyota Camry          247,775        Market share 20%

Honda Accord         221,013         Market share 18%

Nissan Altima          183,292         Market share 15%

Ford Fusion            138,489          Market share 11%

Chevrolet Malibu     117,173         Market share 10%

Hyundai Sonata        97,929         Market share   8%

Kia Optima                74,722         Market share   6%

Volkswagen Passat   45,994        Market share   4%

Subaru Legacy          33,559        Market share   3%

Mazda 6                   24,814        Market share   2%

Chrysler 200             16,562        Market share   1%

Buick Regal                 8,288        Market share >1%

All Others                   1,122        Market share >1%


Toyota’s U.S. sales chief, Bill Fay, said consumers’ shift from cars to SUVs is one of the most dramatic the industry has ever seen. Three years ago, trucks and SUVs represented 50% of the U.S. market. They closed 2016 at 63% of total sales, and analysts don’t see that changing anytime soon. Boomers and millennials both like the space and the higher ride that SUVs offer, and improvements in fuel economy make them competitive with cars. The Honda CR-V was the bestselling SUV in the U.S. last year, with sales up 3% to 357,335.

Obviously I am in the minority.                        

Posted by: coastcontact | November 11, 2017

Make America great again, but don’t expect us to pay for it

Headlined letter to Los Angeles Times published on November 11, 2017.

Boy, am I getting tired of hearing about people “tired of being written off by those in power.” This supposedly forgotten nation that the pundits cooked up to explain Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election are simply people who demand a great America at a discount price. (“A year after the election and Trump’s opponents still haven’t figured out why they lost,” editorial, Nov. 7)

They want massive tax cuts, a massive military and a massive social safety net all at once. They want closed borders, but they don’t want to pay Americans enough to pick their fruit and pluck their chickens for them. They want good, affordable healthcare to emerge from a system designed to produce rank profiteering. They want cheap consumer goods but elected a president willing to impose crushing tariffs to save a few hundred coal-mining jobs. They want a first-world nation at a third-world price.

They are an endless chronicle of contradictions, and the government is dysfunctional not because it doesn’t listen to them but because it listens to them too much and ties itself in knots trying to deliver the impossible to the ignorant.

Aaron Robinson, Torrance

Posted by: coastcontact | November 10, 2017

Pacific Rim Tran-Pacific Partnership Agreement is not Dead!

Talks on the Pacific Rim trade pact (TPP) have stalled. And some international media are blaming Canada: Justin Trudeau did not show up to meet other leaders.

Regardless of who is to blame, it does appear that a TPP agreement might still be completed. It will be the United States that will be the loser because the other nations will have a valuable free trade zone while the United States will be denied access to the many business opportunities that free trade provides.

The following article appeared in the Toronto Star newspaper.

DANANG, VIETNAM—Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries said they reached an agreement Saturday to proceed with the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that President Donald Trump abandoned it. However, an immediate formal endorsement by the countries’ leaders meeting in Vietnam appeared unlikely.

A statement issued in the early hours Saturday said an accord was reached on “core elements” of the 11-member pact. The compromise was delayed by last-minute disagreements that prevented the TPP leaders from meeting to endorse a plan on Friday.

“Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,” the 11 nations said in a statement.

Japan’s delegate to the talks, Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, told reporters that disagreements that cropped up Friday had been resolved in five hours of talks that stretched late into the night.

“We have confirmed there was no mistake about us having reached a basic agreement,” Motegi said.

Despite enthusiasm for sticking with the plan following the U.S. withdrawal under Trump in January, criticism over various issues persists. Detractors of the TPP say it favours corporate interests over labour and other rights.

Aspects of the trade pact have raised hackles also over a requirement that companies be allowed to sue governments for lack of enforcement of related laws.

The proposed basic agreement reached in Danang said that the ministers maintained “the high standards, overall balance and integrity of the TPP while ensuring the commercial and other interests of all participants and preserving our inherent right to regulate, including the flexibility of the parties to set legislative and regulatory priorities.”

The TPP member countries are trying to find a way forward without the U.S., the biggest economy and, before Trump took office, one of its most assertive supporters. Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements to, as he says, “put America first.”

Trump reiterated his markedly different stance on trade before the 21-member APEC summit convened late Friday with a gala banquet.
The U.S. president told an APEC business conference that “we are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore.” He lambasted the World Trade Organization and other trade forums as unfair to the United States and reiterated his preference for bilateral trade deals, saying “I am always going to put America first.”

Trump said he would not enter into large trade agreements, alluding to U.S. involvement in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP.

In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the same group that nations need to stay committed to economic openness or risk being left behind.

The Chinese president drew loud applause when he urged support for the “multilateral trading regime” and progress toward a free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific. China is not part of the TPP.

APEC operates by consensus and customarily issues nonbinding statements. TPP commitments would eventually be ratified and enforced by its members.

But even talks this week on a declaration to cap the APEC summit had to be extended for an extra half day as ministers haggled over wording. It’s unclear what the exact sticking points were, but officials have alluded to differences over the unequal impact more open trade has had on workers and concerns over automation in manufacturing that could leave many millions in a wide array of industries with no work to do.

As a developing country with a fast-growing export sector, this year’s host country, Vietnam, has a strong interest in open trade and access for its exports to consumers in the West. The summit is an occasion for its leaders to showcase the progress its economy has made thanks largely to foreign investment and trade. Danang, Vietnam’s third largest city, is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and smaller hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.

APEC’s members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam.

Posted by: coastcontact | November 7, 2017

Donald Trump Confronts North Korea

Overall I consider Donald Trump a threat to American democracy and America’s historic leadership in the world. His executive actions against minorities and immigrants are a disgrace. His view of America first is a nationalist isolationist philosophy that will impact the United States in a negative way that is yet to unfold. His efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act without a workable alternative shows his lack of concern for the majority of Americans.

Despite the above summary I believe that Trump’s speech to South Korea’s National Assembly was neither bombastic nor threatening and I believe set the right tone in America’s effort to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Kim Jong Un’s goal of having nuclear weapons that can reach the United States mainland is not likely to be deterred by the Trump speech.  Short of war I cannot see a path that will result in America’s objective of bringing about a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

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