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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 72,577

Journal Archives

Detroit: Abandoned Wurlitzer Building likely to become a boutique hotel

The 14-story Wurlitzer Building in downtown Detroit is within days of salvation, if all goes as planned.

Brooklyn-based developer and interior design firm, ASH NYC, is expected to close on a deal to purchase the long-abandoned, graffiti-strewn building as early as Thursday, the deadline imposed by the notoriously neglectful owners, Wayne County Circuit Judge Daphne Means Curtis and her husband Paul Curtis, according to people close to the deal.

ASH NYC wants to convert the Renaissance Revival building at 1509 Broadway into a boutique hotel with retail and restaurant space on the lower floors. The company specializes in converting distressed, historic buildings into stylish hotels, apartments and condos, often in urban areas experiencing a real estate resurgence.

Ari Heckman, one of the founding partners of ASH NYC, expressed enthusiasm but said he couldn’t discuss details yet because the deal wasn’t final. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://motorcitymuckraker.com/2015/01/07/abandoned-wurlitzer-close-to-being-sold-to-trendy-brooklyn-developers/

Professor Richard Wolff's Economic Update: Economics of Denial (audio link)

Listen at: http://rdwolff.com/content/economic-update-economics-denial

"The democratic process in Greece is a threat for Germany and its allies, the political elites"

via Naked Capitalism:

By Mathew D. Rose, a freelance journalist in Berlin

The austerity policy dictated to the Eurozone by Germany has failed to generate a recovery. The news goes from bad to worse – and even worse. Nowhere is that more tangible than in Greece. Just to repeat the otherwise well known facts for the German readers of Naked Capitalism, who are withheld such facts in their own media: 1 million people have lost their jobs (approximately 25 percent of the working population); youth unemployment is well over 50 percent despite massive immigration; a third of business have closed, salaries have sunk almost 40 percent; pensions have been reduced almost by half; the economy has contracted by a quarter; there has been a 43 percent increase in child mortality and the health system has broken down; the Greek economy is in deflation; and, since the imposition of the austerity programme in 2010 the public debt has increased from 130 percent of GDP to 175 percent.

All these figures hide the most important fact: What is occurring in Greece is not so much an economic crisis as a humanitarian disaster. That the Greeks have raised the question of the appropriateness of austerity by precipitating elections is proof that democracy has survived these pernicious times and deserves our greatest respect. I sincerely do not believe that German democracy would have survived under similar conditions.

The democratic process in Greece is a threat for Germany and its allies, the political elites in Europe. They have a serious problem with democracy. When in 2011 the then prime minister of Greece, George Papandreou, announced a referendum to determine if the Greek people wished to adopt the imposed austerity programme, he was forced from office by the Germans and EU and replaced by a hand selected EU bureaucrat, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank. With the balance sheets of German and French banks in danger due to their extensive exposure to Greek bonds, that was no time to be consulting the Greek people.

Helping the Greek people in their time of need has never been an issue for the Germans and the EU. We know from Timothy Geitner’s book “Stress Test” that at the inception of the Greek crisis “EU leaders were obsessed with crushing terrible Greeks” and Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble was just as obsessed with throwing Greece out of the Eurozone (which he still is). ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/01/mathew-d-rose-not-eurozone-crisis-european-union-crisis.html

US Transportation Sec. Foxx announces $996 million to extend Green Line (Boston)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Jan. 5 announced a $996 million federal grant agreement to extend Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line light rail service from East Cambridge to Somerville and Medford.

The extension will provide faster and more efficient travel to jobs in downtown Boston and will serve some of the region’s most densely populated communities. Secretary Foxx and Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan participated in a ceremony to commit the funds with Gov. Deval Patrick, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Michael Capuano, representatives from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and MBTA, and other officials.

“This project will put time back in the lives of commuters along this corridor, but the real story is about the potential for change this smart investment will bring for residents,” said Foxx. “We are proud to support projects like this one because when you connect people to more jobs, education, and medical care, you create the ladders to opportunity that strengthen families and the communities in which they live.”

The 4.7-mile light rail extension will extend existing MBTA Green Line service from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford. The project will serve some of the Boston region’s most heavily populated areas not currently served by rail transit – where 26 percent of residents do not own or have access to cars. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.masstransitmag.com/press_release/12031684/us-transportation-secretary-foxx-announces-996-million-grant-agreement-to-expand-green-line-light-rail-service-in-boston-area

California: State's drought having pronounced effect on wildlife

(Los Angeles Times) Starving baby squirrels in parts of Northern California are so hungry that they are jumping out of their nests to search for food and getting lost on the way home.

The increase in suddenly motherless squirrels is just one example of how the state's prolonged drought has affected wildlife, experts say.

"If the drought continues, we expect next year to be much worse," she said. "Fewer babies will make it through to adulthood as sources of food become scarce."

Baby squirrels are just one of many animals fleeing their homes and risking their lives to search for food sources that have been diminished by drought.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said drought has forced more bears and deer to venture onto mountain highways, where many are struck and killed by vehicles. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-drought-animals-20141228-story.html

Troubled New York reactor's costs test the future of nuclear power

NEW YORK — Exelon Corp., the biggest U.S. owner of nuclear reactors, needs to almost double power prices to keep a New York plant running in a move that promises to show just how far regulators will go to keep uneconomic plants operating.

After recording losses that exceeded $100 million from 2011 to 2013, Exelon will need to charge about 83 percent more than wholesale prices to earn a profit at its Ginna plant, based on company cost estimates. State regulators have set a Jan. 15 deadline for a new power contract that’s rich enough to keep the Rochester-area plant running.

Last month, Entergy Corp. shut Vermont’s only operating reactor citing low power prices. Ginna is one of 10 other nuclear plants that can’t compete in current markets, Moody’s Investors Service said in November. Retiring the reactors, which account for 10 percent of the nation’s nuclear output, would undercut a push to produce power without greenhouse gases as renewables such as wind and solar are just emerging.

“Ginna nuclear power plant is an important asset in the state’s generation fleet,” Patricia Acampora, a commissioner for New York’s Public Service Commission, said at a Nov. 23 meeting. “It’s important, reliable, carbon-free energy.” ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tulsaworld.com/washingtonpost/business/troubled-new-york-reactor-s-costs-test-the-future-of/article_dc3a470f-42d8-5bfb-9a27-14706b30cadb.html

Wind turbines generated enough power to cover 98% of Scotland's household needs in 2014

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) —

Some 41% of the electricity consumed in Scotland annually is for households, while industrial and other facilities use the other 59%.

With regard to the households, i.e. domestic energy consumption, Scotland’s wind turbines generated enough to cover 98% of it in 2014. In addition, in some months of the spring and summer, those homes that have solar panels generated all the electricity the household used. Scotland tripled its solar installations in 2014.

Scotland is well on its way to getting 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2022.

In Germany, renewables (wind, solar, hydro and biomass but mainly wind and solar) for the first time topped 25.8%of the total energy generated in that country and became the single largest source of electricity, outstripping lignite coal. Critics of Germany’s Energy Switch in recent years have snidely pointed out that as it closed nuclear plants, its use of coal was increasing. But Germany is rapidly replacing nuclear and coal with wind and solar, so much so that coal use was down 11% last year. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2015/01/supplied-scotlands-household.html

At Least Six Millionaires to Take Senate Oaths Tuesday

(Bloomberg) There's no shortage of statistics to show that Congress no longer reflects the demographics of the nation it represents. That's especially true when it comes to personal finances. Of the 13 newly elected members of the Senate to be sworn in Tuesday, at least six are millionaires. That's a conservative estimate and the proportion is almost certainly higher.

Their arrival in the Senate comes as the wealth gap between the nation's top 20 percent of earners—including many members of Congress—and every other income group in America has reached its widest point in at least three decades, according to a Pew Research Center study released in December. Pew also found in a report released in October that the issue of income inequality is of growing importance to the American public. Forty-six percent of respondents said it's a “very big problem,” while 32 percent said its a “moderately” big problem.

While that might suggest Congress should make the issue a priority, underlying figures show why the gap between the public and its elected class on the need for action may actually grow: Only 19 percent of Republicans see income inequality as a major problem, compared with 59 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents. All but one of the incoming freshman senators are Republicans.

To identify the wealthiest new senators, Bloomberg Politics reviewed the annual disclosures of financial assets and liabilities that are required of federal candidates. Those forms offer only broad ranges for valuation, making it impossible to determine exact figures. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-01-06/at-least-six-millionaires-to-take-senate-oaths-tuesday

"Markets" terrified that the people of Greece might vote in a leftist, anti-austerity party

MUMBAI: The benchmark Sensex on Tuesday plummeted by 855 points in its worst crash in five and a half years as stock markets globally went into a tailspin amid speculation about probable exit of Greece from the Euro region and oil prices cracking below $ 50 per barrel mark.

The Nifty also tanked 251 points, or 3 per cent. Both the bellwether indices closed at more-than two-week lows. Panic selling sent markets on a free fall with losses across sectors, traders said, adding that investor wealth plunged by nearly Rs 3 trillion as four counters fell for one that rose.

Oil prices continued to drop, with the US benchmark contract briefly falling below $ 50 a barrel for the first time in more than five years on concerns about ample global supplies and weakening economic growth.


Fears mounted that an election in embattled Greece later this month could put the opposition anti-austerity party Syriza in power, jeopardizing the country's economic reforms mandated by the international financial rescue, analysts said. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Bloodbath-Sensex-tanks-855-pts-on-Greece-woes-oil-gloom/articleshow/45778242.cms

Bernie Sanders' Brutal Letter On Obama's Trade Pact Foreshadows 2016 Democratic Clash

WASHINGTON -- Progressive unrest over free trade policies is shaping up to be a major issue in the contest for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, if a strongly worded letter from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to the top Obama administration trade official is any sign.

Sanders has been considering a presidential run for months. Like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another progressive favorite often mentioned as a potential 2016 contender, Sanders has been critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major U.S. pact being negotiated with 11 Pacific nations, which Sanders says will exacerbate income inequality and erode important regulations.

The letter Sanders sent on Monday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman criticizes secrecy standards that Froman's office imposes on the TPP talks.

"I have been very concerned that up to this date the text of this agreement has not been made public," Sanders wrote. "The only text that I am aware of that has been made public so far has been through leaked documents, and I find what I read very troubling.

"It is incomprehensible to me that the leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP while, at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge as to what is in it," Sanders added. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/05/bernie-sanders-michael-froman-tpp_n_6419874.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

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