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RandySF's Journal
RandySF's Journal
December 31, 2018

U.S. Stocks End Worst Year Since Financial Crisis

U.S. stocks ended the worst year since the financial crisis with a narrow gain in thin pre-holiday trading. Treasuries rose to a 10-month high.

The S&P 500 finished a choppy session higher and the Nasdaq Composite capped its first four-day advance since August amid optimism that President Donald Trump will move toward a trade deal with China. The advance trimmed the worst December rout for the S&P 500 since 1931 to 9.2 percent. That monthly rout capped a 6.2 percent slide in the year, the biggest of the record bull market.

Stocks around the world limped into the end of a dismal year that’s seen bear markets in equities from Japan to Germany. Europe’s main stock gauge fell 13 percent drop in the year -- the biggest since 2008. The 10-year Treasury yield slid to 2.68 percent, the lowest since February. The dollar edged lower as a government shutdown continued, while the yen climbed to a four-month high.

In commodities, crude slumped to its first annual loss since 2015, completing a reversal that saw it drop from a four-year high set just three months ago. Natural gas futures slid on Friday below $3 for the first time since September, giving the front-month contract its worst December since 1991. Gold barreled into 2019 near a six-month high on haven demand.


December 31, 2018

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte claims he abused maid as teenager

(CNN)Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has claimed he molested a maid while in high school -- comments his spokesman later said were "made up."

During a speech Saturday about land distribution, Duterte -- a notoriously freewheeling speaker -- described the assault in detail after straying into the topic of religion, according to CNN affiliate CNN Philippines.

Duterte claimed he told a priest in a confessional that he went into the maid's room and reached under her blanket, according to a transcript of the remarks, made in a mixture of Tagalog and English, posted on the Philippines Presidential Communication Office's website.

However, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told CNN Philippines in a statement that Duterte made up the comments because he was goaded on by the priest to confess to something.
Duterte also said that the priest touched him during the confession -- something he said "every child goes through" -- according to CNN Philippines.

Panelo said Duterte was using a "laughable anecdote" to "dramatize the fact of sexual abuse that was inflicted on him and his fellow students when they were in high school."

"He purposely added and spliced the story with vulgarity to characterize the behavior of the priest who insisted to hear more sins during their confessions when there were none," Panelo said.


December 31, 2018

Pennsylvania grassroots stop GOP election theft.

The state Senate's top Republican announced Friday that he will recommend that Democratic Senator-elect Lindsey Williams be seated in Pennsylvania's legislature, likely ending the months-long political battle over whether she could take the post following a residency dispute.

In a letter to Ms. Williams on Friday, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati noted that the residency requirement -- that candidates for office must live in Pennsylvania for four years before being elected -- hadn't been fully vetted by the courts and that "no precise constitutional definition of residency exists," according to a release from his office.

Therefore, Mr. Scarnati wrote, he will recommend Ms. Williams be seated, meaning that barring any unforeseen developments, she will be sworn in to her 38th district seat on Jan. 1.

In an interview and statement, Ms. Williams reacted to the letter with kind words for Republican leaders and their caucus -- notably their "professionalism and efficiency in bringing this matter to a close as quickly as possible."


Mr. Scarnati's statement came on a day when grassroots groups took coordinated action across the state calling on Republicans to seat Ms. Williams.

Inside the Allegheny County Courthouse at noon, a group of demonstrators gathered — a few big political names in tow, including Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa — to publicly “remind” the GOP that refusing to seat the Democratic senator-elect would impede democracy and ignore the will of the voters.

"If they can do it to me, they can do it to anybody,” Ms. Williams told a crowd of demonstrators inside the courthouse.


December 31, 2018

'A kick in the stomach': massive GM layoffs leave workers distraught - and angry

There’s a sign outside the General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that reads: “GM, We Invested in You. Now It’s Your Turn to Invest in US.”

Ever since the US’s largest car company’s immense assembly plant opened here 52 years ago, it has dominated this blue-collar town. Now GM workers here are furious that the automaker plans to idle – and perhaps permanently close – the plant.

GM stunned its workforce on 26 November, the Monday after Thanksgiving, by announcing it would cut roughly 14,000 jobs and idle five factories in North America, including the Lordstown plant, which employs 1,600 workers. One factor stoking the workers’ ire is that GM’s move came after American taxpayers rescued it from bankruptcy with a $49.5bn federal bailout in 2009.

While some have blamed Trump policies for the closure, or at least for his inability to stop them, it’s the company that workers hold most responsible.

“Their announcement was really a kick in the stomach,” said Danny Adams, who has worked at the plant since 1996. “It’s not woe is me. It’s woe is us.”

Like many GM workers here, Adams, 53, is worried and bitter, not knowing where he might find a new job and wondering whether he’s too old to train for a new career. Adams could perhaps transfer to another GM plant, but he fears that such a move would be hugely trying for his 15-year-old son.


December 30, 2018

Local elected officials are an underappreciated front in the resistance

or decades, Republicans have spent their time putting energy into building a network of locally elected officials. ALEC, Americans for Prosperity, and several other Republican groups have put considerable efforts into making sure that local positions, from school boards to county commissions, stay in Republican hands. What these conservative think tanks and lobby groups have known for years is that locally elected officials can make major changes in policy that impacts our day-to-day living.

In some cases, their decisions can impact policies like taxes and revenue. They can make decisions about school improvement plans and curriculum, water and electric programs and availability, and zoning and local safety. Democratic activists have struggled to see how these items can be used to advance a progressive agenda, while conservatives have used these policies to neutralize—and often shame—Democratic efforts to build a more inclusive community.

Now, empowered by series of wins in 2017 and 2018 at the local level, Democratic local officials are implementing sound policies that help improve their municipalities—and also help build strong support for Democratic efforts.


December 30, 2018

FLIPPABLE: Nasreen Johnson for Fresno County (CA) Supervisor

Nasreen Johnson has been a resident of Fresno County for over 30 years and has chosen Northwest Fresno as her home for over 20 years. Johnson graduated from Hoover High School and she went on to attend Fresno City College to earn an AA degree in Liberal Arts. Johnson started a small business but later resumed her education, graduating from Fresno Pacific University Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in Business Management, and earned a Master’s in Global Business.

Johnson has been a marketing and communication professional for 18 years working as a small business owner, and working in the agricultural and non-profit industries. Johnson and her husband are raising two children and three rescue dogs.

Johnson is an avid community volunteer and has worked to improve her community in a myriad of ways. She is previous board member of Friends of the Fresno County Library, founding board member of Tagua, and received the John Valentino award from Tree Fresno for her work in building the fully accessible garden for special needs students.


December 30, 2018

How a Chinese immigrant used WeChat to win a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates

Qi began her career with the county government as Leggett’s liaison to the Asian American community. She knew that about a third of Montgomery’s residents are foreign-born and 16 percent are Asian.

In addition to microtargeting Chinese Americans, Qi persuaded leaders of the Korean American and Vietnamese American communities to spread her message, registered people to vote at community events and arranged tea times to meet individually with prospective voters.

University of Maryland professor Janelle Wong, who has studied Asian American political engagement, followed Qi’s campaign, impressed that she drew hundreds of people to conversations on WeChat.

She said Qi, who raised nearly $150,000, did what many candidates don’t do: contact not-registered and avowedly nonpartisan voters directly with an appeal to change their behavior.

“She is able to communicate across multiple platforms,” Wong said. “It gave her some entree and appeal that few campaigns get .?.?. when targeting a non-English [speaking] population.”


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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
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Current location: San Francisco, CA
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About RandySF

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.

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