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ND-Dem's Journal
ND-Dem's Journal
February 20, 2015

Oxfam: 80 people control more wealth than 3.5 billion; global top 1% more than the 99%

Global wealth is becoming increasing concentrated among a small wealthy elite.
Data from Credit Suisse shows that since 2010, the richest 1% of adults in the
world have been increasing their share of total global wealth. Figure 1 shows that
2010 marks an inflection point in the share of global wealth going to this group.

In 2014, the richest 1% of people in the world owned 48% of global wealth,
leaving just 52% to be shared between the other 99% of adults on the planet

Almost all of that 52% is owned by those included in the richest 20%, leaving just
5.5% for the remaining 80% of people in the world.

If this trend continues of an increasing wealth share to the richest, the top 1% will have more wealth than the remaining 99% of people in just two years, as shown on Figure 2, with the wealth share of the top 1% exceeding 50% by 2016...

The wealth of these 80 individuals is now the same as that owned by the bottom
50% of the global population,
such that 3.5 billion people share between them the
same amount of wealth as that of these extremely wealthy 80 people.


February 20, 2015

State asks: Why did Hazel Park veteran freeze to death?

The state ordered Consumers Energy Thursday to report on a natural gas service shutoff in a Hazel Park home where a Vietnam veteran died of hypothermia earlier this month.

John Skelley, 69, was found dead Feb. 1 in a home on West Pearl Street. Hazel Park police say Skelley died of hypothermia and other health issues. According to Consumers Energy, service was disconnected at the home on the afternoon of Jan. 19 and a tag with assistance and reconnection information was placed on the door...

But the company said it was not aware that Skelley was living in the home. According to the company's records, the service was in the name of Joseph Mixen, who requested natural gas service on Nov. 18, 2014. Mixen had previously lived at the home between March 2012 and May 2013 and had an outstanding balance of $760.28.

As a condition to restore service, he was required to make an initial payment and was then put on a payment plan for the outstanding balance with payments required every two weeks. According to Consumers spokeswoman Deborah Dodd, no payments were made after initial payment on Nov. 18. Dodd said shutoff notices were sent on Dec. 18, Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. Dodd said no mail was returned and the company had no phone number on record for Mixen.

MPSC staff are working to revise its rules on billing practices for residential service, which include provisions on shutoff procedures, medical emergencies and winter protection plans. The commission hopes the review and Consumers' findings can "avert a repetition of this tragedy," it said in a statement.

Hangin' with the Heroes, a metro Detroit-based organization that helps veterans, has pooled resources and raised money to cover Skelley's funeral. Founder Ron Gilmour said Skelley will receive a full military burial. Gilmour said he has been in touch with Skelley's family, including two of his children.

"This is something that was a massive undertaking for us," he said. "Within two hours of hearing about it, we decided on our course of action and through a lot of help and reaching out to get some publicity, we managed to make everything happen."


He's a vet, he has kids, but he died in a freezing Detroit winter.

But at least he'll get a decent funeral now that we've killed him.

February 20, 2015

Judge says $178 million Detroit bankruptcy fee tab 'reasonable'

Reuters) - The federal judge who oversaw Detroit's historic bankruptcy case ruled on Thursday that the nearly $178 million charged to the city by law firms and consultants for fees and expenses was reasonable.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven Rhodes said he based his decision mainly on the complexity of the bankruptcy case filed in July 2013 as well as substantial reductions that the firms agreed to make in their bills.

"The city is now on a path to success precisely because of the expertise, skill, commitment, endurance, personal sacrifice, civility and proficiency of all of the professionals in the case, including most certainly those whose fees are subject to review in this opinion," the judge wrote.

The biggest bill in the biggest-ever U.S. municipal bankruptcy came from law firm Jones Day, which had employed Kevyn Orr before he was tapped by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder as Detroit's emergency manager in March 2013. For its role as the city's lead attorney in the case, Jones Day charged $57.9 million. It shaved about $17.7 million off its fees and expenses, according to the judge's order.


City pensioners got their pensions and health care cut, residents got their water and power cut and their services privatized, but the lawyers got paid.

Jones Day is an international law firm. The firm currently has 41 offices worldwide and employs about 2,400 lawyers, making it the third largest law firm in the world....As of 2013, Jones Day is the biggest American law firm, with more than 2,400 lawyers and 800 partners....Jones Day fields a heavy-weight Mergers and Acquisitions practice. The firm maintained its global #1 position in the M&A league tables for the number of completed deals worldwide, a position it has held for 48 consecutive quarters.


February 20, 2015

10 poorest cities in the US (in the top 75 metro areas)

Table 2: The 10 Poorest Cities in the United States Among the Top 75 Metro Areas

1: Detroit 39.3%

2: Cleveland 35.4%

3: Dayton 34.7%

4: Hartford 33.6%

5: Rochester 32.9%

6: Buffalo 30.7%

7: Cincinnati 30.4%

8: Birmingham 30.2%

9: Miami 29.9%

10: Milwaukee 29.1%

Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey for 2009-13


February 20, 2015

Want to make minimum wage, live in the freezing cold with no showers, and work crazy hours?

Are you in good shape? Able to carry a big, heavy box over slippery rocks and slushy snow? Happy not to shower for up to a month, live in close proximity to three people and 2,000 smelly penguins for five months with no power, heat or hot water and limited communications on a small island off the coast of Antarctica?

If so, we have the job for you!

The U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust is looking for assistants to help run its post office museum and gift shop at Port Lockroy, located on Goudier Island off the Antarctic Peninsula.

Applications are currently being accepted for up to four full-time seasonal positions at the world's southernmost post office, which is visited each summer (November through March) by 18,000 people — who come by boat twice a day — and processes about 70,000 pieces of mail. Applications are due on Feb. 27.

You don't need to have post office experience to apply, but you do need an unusual skillset...


There was a time when this might have interested me.

February 20, 2015

"the Internet Is the Ugliest Reflection of Mankind There Is"

Iggy Azalea's got one less, one less problem.

The "Problem" rapper returned home to California Wednesday after enjoying a romantic trip with Los Angeles Lakers player Nick Young. The couple happened to be photographed during their trip, and to Azalea's dismay, her bikini body was criticized by faceless internet bullies.

The musician, 24, expressed her disappointment in a series of tweets, writing, "Just got back from a great vacation, came online and saw apparently it's shocking and unheard of to be a woman and have cellulite. Lol. I just want to have peace and relaxation time without a perve with long distance lense hiding out taking pictures, everyone deserves peace.

I feel the hatred and pettiness i see online at all times is at making me become an angry person and I cannot be that. To become nasty because of the way I feel iam treated would be a disservice to my fans and I promise i will try to keep smiling. But I also want to let my fans know iam taking some time away from social media. I need to be happy and it is too negative and draining."

Azalea added, "The Internet is the ugliest reflection of man kind there is."


February 19, 2015

Harpers Index 2015

Portion of the hundred best-paid U.S. CEOs who earn more annually than their companies pay in federal taxes : 1/3

Percentage of Americans and Chinese, respectively, who believe their government is “on the side of average citizens” : 12, 80

Who believe their government is “on the side of corporations” : 73, 17


February 19, 2015

Explosion Rips Through Torrance Refinery, Shakes South Bay

Hours after an explosion ripped through a Torrance refinery, residents for miles around continue to grapple with ash, a gas odor and concerns over poor air quality while inspectors confirmed that a filtration device was the source of the blast.

A smoke advisory was issued for areas near the ExxonMobil refinery due to Wednesday morning's explosion and fire...

California Occupational Safety and Health officials were at the site investigating. While the unit where the blast occurred was ordered shut down, the rest of the refinery is still in operation.


February 19, 2015

Why the Government's New Dietary Guidelines Could Set Off a Food Fight

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has already garnered headlines because its members are advocating revisions to decades-old warning about cholesterol consumption. An overview of the committee’s Dec. 15, 2014 meeting says, “Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” That benign-sounding statement overturns decades of official dietary advice, and it could prove to be a boon for the egg industry.

But scientists on the panel will also be calling for even broader changes to Americans’ dietary guidelines, including “more plant-based foods and lower amounts of meat than are currently consumed by the U.S. population." The new recommendations could see the government take a tougher line on added sugars and red meat consumption. Though these changes are in line with views of health organizations, they are worrisome to the multi-billion dollar food manufacturing industry, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), because they may lead to costly changes in product formulations.

The nutrition experts this year want to advise people that added sugars should be limited to 10 percent of someone’s daily caloric intake, a change from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines that said “no more than about 5 to 15 percent of calories from solid fats and added sugars (combined) can be reasonably accommodated in a healthy eating pattern.” Another proposal calls on the U.S. population to consume diets that are “lower in red and processed meats,” a change from earlier guidelines that encouraged people to eat lean beef.

The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture aren’t bound by the DGAC’s recommendations when issuing their “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” but they have tended to hew closely to the advisory panel’s recommendations. Those official Dietary Guidelines, updated every five years, then influence everything from the advice your doctor gives you to the school lunches your child receives. Food manufacturers in the past have removed salt, sugar and artificial trans fats in response to concerns about health issues such as obesity and heart disease...


February 17, 2015

Managers bunk down at U.S. refineries as strike enters third week

U.S. oil refinery managers are going to the mats, literally, during the biggest fight with union workers in 35 years, bedding down for a third strike week that experts and some employees say raises concerns over safety and operations.

At the 135,000 barrel-per-day refinery just outside of Toledo, Ohio, run by BP Plc (BP.L) and Husky Energy Inc (HSE.TO), most of the nearly 300-person staff have been calling the refinery home since Feb. 9. For the last week, they have slept on recently purchased mattresses inside rental trailers to rapidly respond to any problems and avoid striking workers, sources say.

On Tuesday, a van full of washing and drying machines gingerly cut through about a dozen United Steelworkers carrying pickets and walking a strike line at the facility's front gate.
Those efforts underscore how far operators are willing to go to retain normalcy in the face of the largest national U.S. refinery strike since 1980. And as more replacement workers join the ranks here and the other eight refineries where strikes have occurred, more questions are arising about potential safety and production risks from an extended walkout.

While such warnings may seem a self-serving negotiating tactic, even some on the other side of the line are concerned. John Ostberg, a non-union control engineer who works in the main computerized control center at Toledo, quit his job on Monday weeks before he was scheduled to retire.

For months, Ostberg has been warning his bosses in emails about their plans to rely on replacement workers and supervisors if a strike occurred. He feared they were not properly trained, or too far removed from the frontlines, to respond to unit upsets and other problems that can escalate quickly without experienced intervention.

“Management says it’s safe. I disagree,” Ostberg said in a phone interview on Thursday.


I pray that they will win. We need a win.

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