Category Archives: immigration & juvenile law

America liked Clunkers’ speed,

Caulkers are Green?

If you hated Obama administrations climate Change plan, America’s denizens could soon put you in a minority. Because Obama has found a way to spend the extra cash he saved from TARP ( see O’nomics:wow-it-might-add-up-advantage-zyaada/)  I have been unable to catch this anywhere else except our Time Warner scoop-a-thon CNN Money yet, but it is a valid program after the unprecedented success of Cash for Clunkers that kept erstwhile and current homeowners busy in August, September and October

President Obama proposed a new program Tuesday that would reimburse homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation, part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy.

The administration didn’t provide immediate details, but said it would work with Congress on crafting legislation. Steve Nadel, director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who’s helping write the bill, said a homeowner could receive up to $12,000 in rebates.

The proposal is part of the President’s larger spending plan, which also includes money for small businesses, renewable energy manufacturing, and infrastructure.

We know energy efficiency “creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment,” Obama said. “With additional resources, in areas like advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, we can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs.”

The program contains two parts: money for homeowners for efficiency projects, and money for companies in the renewable energy and efficiency space.

The plan will likely create a new program where private contractors conduct home energy audits, buy the necessary gear and install it, according to a staffer on the Senate Energy Committee and Nadel at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Big-ticket items like air conditioners, heating systems, washing machines, refrigerators, windows and insulation would likely be covered, Nadel said.

Consumers might be eligible for a 50% rebate on both the price of the equipment and the installation, up to $12,000, said Nadel. So far, there is no income restriction on who is eligible. That would mean a household could spend as much as $24,000 on upgrades and get half back.

via Cash for Caulkers could mean $12K per home – Dec. 8, 2009.

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Claims by Wash. Post on DC achievement gap

Using recent proficiency tests as a benchmark, Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, has claimed to have narrowed the achievement gap between White and African-American students.

Under Ms. Rhee's leadership, the school district adopted several tactics to drill students to pass the 2009 Comprehensive Assessment System proficiency tests.

Her students made substantial progress compared to previous years at the elementary level in passing math tests, modest progress on elementary reading tests, and minor improvements for middle and high school students on reading and math exams.

In a July 13 press release, the district claimed “The achievement gap between African-American and White students continues to close across all grade levels and subject areas.”

The Washington Post echoed the district, “The achievement gap between African-American and White students shrank.”

The Post's publisher had been a consistent supporter of Ms. Rhee's reform efforts.

The silliness here is you cannot determine whether actual achievement levels between African-American and White students are becoming similar based on minimum skills tests.

If teachers drill African-American high school students all year long to prepare for the tests, and the their White counterparts are reading Brothers Karamazov and Jane Eyre, writing extensive research papers, and doing Calculus, proficiency test scores are radically misleading as to whether educational outcomes are truly becoming more equal.

Ms. Rhee has told a thousand media interviewers a thousand times how much she cares about kids, but test preparation techniques designed to improve proficiency scores have little to do with real school reform or genuine education or closing the real achievement gap, or placing kids on a different life trajectory. They are about gaining short-term political capital.

via Claims by Washington Post and school leaders about DC achievement gap.

Antitrust Chief Crackdown – NYTimes.com

President Obama’s top antitrust official and some senior Democratic lawmakers are preparing to rein in a host of major industries, including airline and railroad giants, moving so aggressively that they are finding some resistance from officials within the administration.

The official, Christine A. Varney, the antitrust chief at the Justice Department, has begun examining complaints by the phone companies Verizon and AT&T that their rivals — major cable operators like Cablevision and Cox Communications — improperly prevent them from buying sports shows and other programs that the cable companies produce, industry lawyers said.

At the request of some lawmakers, notably Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, Ms. Varney is examining whether small agricultural operations are being hampered unfairly by large food processors, particularly in the milk industry, congressional aides said.

Ms. Varney has also challenged agreements that the Federal Trade Commission and consumer groups say discourage pharmaceutical companies from marketing more generic drugs. And she is examining a settlement between Google and book publishers and authors to make more books available online.

The more aggressive antitrust policy was described in interviews with officials at the White House, the Justice Department, other agencies and Congress. It is a major policy reversal from the Bush administration, which did not prosecute cases in which some dominant companies engaged in potentially anticompetitive behavior, often because those officials maintained such behavior was not harmful to consumers.

Democrats have spent years trying to gain the support of businesses, and the policy changes under way may have long-term political implications for their party. Some companies would like to see more aggressive antitrust enforcement against their rivals, while others could be hurt by it.

via Antitrust Chief Hits Resistance in Crackdown – NYTimes.com.

Will California lose its investment rating – Los Angeles Times

Two out of three major bond-rating firms now agree: California’s credit grade should begin with a B — a dismal comment on the state’s finances.

Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday cut the state’s debt rating two notches, to Baa1 from A2, warning that the risk was rising that California could have trouble paying its bondholders if the budget stalemate in Sacramento didn’t end soon.

The firm said the state remained on its “watchlist” for further downgrades.

Moody’s Baa1 rating is just three notches above the level at which California’s $59 billion in general obligation bonds would be considered “junk,” or no longer investment-grade in quality. Next would be Baa2, then Baa3, then the junk rating of Ba.

The state has never had a junk rating before, and some Wall Street analysts doubt that the rating firms would cut California that low, short of a deeper crisis that would seriously threaten the state’s ability to make bond payments.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has insisted that California would never default on its bond debt.

The state Constitution mandates debt payments, which must come before all other state spending except funding for education.

Lockyer’s spokesman, Tom Dresslar, said the state would continue to manage its cash to assure that there was sufficient money to make bond payments.

The state this month began issuing IOUs to pay vendors and other so-called non-priority creditors. The decision to use IOUs was partly spurred by the need to retain cash for bond payments.

Moody’s rival Fitch Ratings on July 6 cut its rating on the state’s debt to BBB from A-minus. Standard & Poor’s, the other member of the Big Three, still has California at A.

Most states are rated AAA or AA.

Moody’s s

aid its latest downgrade “reflects the increased risk to the legally or constitutionally required payments (‘priority payments’) as the state deadlock continues.

via Moody’s drops California’s credit grade below A, may cut more – Los Angeles Times.

Burger King’s Brand Image Strategy = Controversy

THIS COULD HAVE BEEN A BANKING CAMPAIGN FOR CREDIT APPLNS

In an effort to keep making horrible ads that have nothing to do with whatever Burger King’s brand identity is they’ve come out with this pile of crap:

Let’s not forget their past insulting work here, Mexican get sizzled, and here, Slap that booty.

Obviously the only branding strategy Burger King can come up with is to be controversial. Brilliant.

So I’m out of the Burger King loop. They obviously want people in the business to write negatively about them because what women is gonna run out and buy this sandwich now? And do men really think they’ll get a blow job? No, the only thing Burger King wants is press, so stop giving it to them, they don’t deserve it.

Ads are meant to do one thing…sell product, period.

via Branding Blog Branding Company Corporate Internet Brand Image Strategy.

The new nuts and bolts | Obama’s new supervisory layer

President Barack Obama released a plan on Wednesday to overhaul U.S. financial regulation in response to a banking and capital markets crisis that played a big role in pushing the economy into recession.

The plan is meant to prevent a repeat of the crisis by closing oversight gaps, requiring thicker capital cushions at financial companies and improving the protection of consumers and investors.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHANGES PROPOSED?

The Federal Reserve would monitor “systemic risk” in the economy, together with a council led by Treasury.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp would get power to seize and resolve the problems of troubled non-bank companies that pose risks to the economy. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission would get additional limited “resolution authority.”

A National Bank Supervisor would be created, taking in the supervision duties of the Office of Comptroller of the Currency OCC and the Office of Thrift Supervision OTS, both Treasury units. The thrift charter that is the legal basis of the savings and loan business would be eliminated and the OTS would be closed.

Financial companies would have to hold more capital to absorb losses when times get tough, and boost their liquidity, or their ability to move quickly in and out of various holdings.

Asset-backed securities issuers would face new regulation, as would hedge funds and credit rating agencies. An independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency would be formed.

Oversight of over-the-counter derivatives would be imposed, as well as “harmonizing” futures and securities regulation, and new payment and settlement system safeguards would be created.

WHY ARE THE CHANGES NEEDED?

The worst financial crisis in generations has thrown banking and capital markets into disarray, dragging down economies around the world.

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats see the crisis as rooted in failures going back years, in some cases decades, in regulation and behavior.

The presidents proposals try to update a regulatory system formed largely during the Great Depression. The goal is to equip regulators to keep better track of markets that have grown in size and scope far beyond the governments view.

The proposals also try to address what Democrats see as an ill-advised government tendency in recent years to trust too much in markets self-correcting and self-policing ability.

via Q+A: What are main issues about Obamas financial plan? | Reuters .

zyakaira notes: Most of it has been here in place internally in banks, like asking the lender to stay liable for the loan till it is repaid..practices overlooked in a period of quick sales and large ramp up..or as deal sweeteners, life is much the same at the banks, whether these agencies can engender respect remins to be seen. But the crisis did bring us one good thing, 24X7 news and transparency in the financial system in terms of a large ‘bank’ of public information on each event

Obama on Health Care – NYTimes.com

After months of insisting he would leave the details to Congress, President Obama has concluded that he must exert greater control over the health care debate and is preparing an intense push for legislation that will include speeches, town-hall-style meetings and much deeper engagement with lawmakers, senior White House officials say.

Mindful of the failures of former President Bill Clinton, whose intricate proposal for universal care collapsed on Capitol Hill 15 years ago, Mr. Obama until now had charted a different course, setting forth broad principles and concentrating on bringing disparate factions — doctors, insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, labor unions — to the negotiating table.

But Mr. Obama has grown concerned that he is losing the debate over certain policy prescriptions he favors, like a government-run insurance plan to compete with the private sector, said one Democrat familiar with his thinking. With Congress beginning a burst of work on the measure, top advisers say, the president is determined to make certain the final bill bears his stamp.

via NY Times – The World’s favourite newspaper

Experts: Juveniles dumped into Harris Co. adult justice system | Front page | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

As many as 900 Harris County teens, some as young as 14 and most of them minorities from broken homes and mean streets, have been certified as dangerous enough to be charged and jailed as adults over the last decade, at times facing prison sentences as long as a life.
In 2007 and 2008 alone, Harris County juvenile judges transferred 160 teens’ cases to the adult system — more than nine of the largest urban counties in Texas combined, according to a Chronicle analysis of statewide certifications by county.
The certifications are based on allegations they committed felonies, including robbery, murder, car theft and drug possession.
But such rulings are so common here — and so nearly identical — that they have prompted a legal attack from local attorneys and juvenile justice experts who call them “rubber-stamped” and “assembly line” injustices that violate children’s rights.
The result: “virtual destruction” of dozens of juveniles who are dumped and damaged in adult prisons and “could otherwise turn their lives around,” claims nonprofit Texas Appleseed, according to documents filed in the case. The nonprofit is part of a pending legal challenge of the 2008 certification of a Houston teen charged with murder.
Attorney Christene Wood, a family friend of that teen, said that during his hearing last year the juvenile judge surfed the Internet, laughed and never once made eye contact with the boy. “The certification process here is an absolute joke,” Wood said.
That boy and at least seven others — including two girls — were certified on capital murder charges last year. All faced potential automatic sentences of life without parole, the toughest punishment Texas offers short of execution.

via http://tr.im/nHNZ

Lillie Martinez (with granddaughter Miesha Batiz and her pastor, Bishop Samuel Daniels) is the mother of Robert Brown, 15, who was certified as an adult and sent to prison.