California

PG&E Pipeline Explosion Hushed by Calif. Public Utilities Commish?

One has to wonder why the media in California are not talking about the results of the investigation into the 2010 pipeline explosion that killed 8 people in San Bruno? It would seem like a natural story of a public utility's arrogance and negligence, but somehow few people are aware of the details.

You may recall the disaster that befell San Bruno, California when a 54-year-old pipeline exploded killing eight people and destroying dozens of homes. Afterward the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) was charged with investigating the incident and some of its findings are nothing short of shocking. (Download reportHERE)

The report seems to be going unnoticed by many, sadly, but it shows that Pacific Gas & Electric failed in so many areas that it almost seems criminal. Safety was ignored even back in 1956 when the pipeline was first laid.

According to the report, the original welds on the pipeline did not even meet the standards and engineering specifications in 1956.

Apparently, PG&E has a complete breakdown of records keeping, too. According to the report PG&E classified the pipeline that blew up as a "seamless pipe," instead of welded construction. Not only were the records wrong but it wasn't even possible for the pipe to be seamless. Because of the size of the pipe and the age it is impossible for it to have been of seamless construction.

These sort of errors in record keeping appear to be endemic with PG&E and this puts many such facilities at risk not to mention the people that live near them.

PG&E had been fined many millions already before the accident yet none of the problems endemic in its operations had been fixed. Naturally, PG&E has been claiming it needs more money, but even so the company had no problem spending $46 million on the Prop 16 campaign aimed at awarding the company a monopoly for providing California's energy needs.

So, why has this damning report been ignored so much? Why haven't politicians been screaming about this? Why has the media been so silent?

100-Calorie packs diet may not be effective

If you are trying to lose weight or get healthy, the 100-Calorie packs diet plan may seem like a great way to go. The 100-calorie packs diet plan is comparatively basic - restrict your food consumption to the 100 calorie packs commercially available. 100 calorie packs aren't as effective as they may seem. Technological study says they're more expensive and less effective. Resource for this article - 100-Calorie packs diet - An expensive way to cost yourself a diet by MoneyBlogNewz.

Facts on the 100-calorie pack diet plan

Losing weight, at its base, is a basic mathematical equation. With your calories, take in less than you are burning. That’s how you lose weight. About 3,500 calories have to be taken out if you're going to lose a pound. Cutting out calories can happen with 100 calorie packs diet plan. This is the idea. Several think that it is easier to limit the amount of food eaten with 100 calorie packs. This makes it so that weight could be lost.

You will find the 100 calorie pack diet that does not operate with science

The 100-calorie packs diet plan seems to appear sensible, however research simply doesn't sustain it. Eating out of these mini-packs really makes it more likely that a dieter will over-consume, eating two or more of the 100-calorie packs. Dieters who are eating out of full-size packs actually tend to eat less than those eating out of 100-calorie packages. Sometimes you just have to stop yourself when eating out of a large bag. This is because you know that you can’t eat it all and have to stop.

What 100 calorie pack diet programs will cost you

On average, 100-calorie packs can run 200 to 300 percent of the cost of a full-size package of food. Do you actually want to diet and cut calories with 100-calorie packs of food? Then there is a way to do it that isn’t too expensive. Purchase oneself the full size packages of food. Then, you can split it into 100-calories of food. You can change the packs to fit your diet better too. They could be packs with 150 or 200 calories instead. A lot of money could be saved this will. It will even be a better way for you to diet. Several want the “quick solution” that seems to come with the 100-calorie packs diet plan. However, you’ll be much better off losing weight by eating fewer calories than you expend.

Facts from

Technology Slice

technologyslice.blogspot.com/2011/01/100-calorie-packs-diet.html

Our Out Of Control Courts: Bankruptcy Courts Now Deciding Cases on Feelings?

-By Warner Todd Huston

One of the issues that many conservatives have focused on is
our out of control court system and the constant judicial overreach that occurs
therein. Here we have yet another case of a court insinuating itself into an
area in which it previously never had purview and if this decision stands it
will open our courts to a flood of court shopping that will turn our legal
system further down the wrong road.

At least since the forced busing case of 1971 and the Roe v
Wade abortion case, conservatives have been complaining about judges taking
undue powers unto themselves. For decades these power mad judges have been
expanding their reach to control our lives until even our state and federal
legislatures have seemed to give up their rightful role as lawmakers. Once
again we have a judge that has reached beyond his proper role.

The case in question is Marshall
v. Marshall
and, yes, once again Anna Nicole Smith is going before
the U.S. Supreme Court -- and from beyond the grave at that. The reason a Smith
matter is again before the SCOTUS four years after her death is because one of
her cases was decided by a federal bankruptcy court in California on reasons
that had nothing at all to do with technical bankruptcy rules. The case before
the SCOTUS would determine if the bankruptcy court acted properly.

If you'll recall, Anna Nicole Smith took her wealthy,
departed husband's estate to court claiming that he'd made a verbal promise to
give her millions of dollars and part of his estate upon his passing. But
Marshall's extensive, detailed estate plan did not mention her at all so when
she initially brought her case before a Texas Probate court, she lost. Not
surprisingly when Smith realized she would not be satisfied with the outcome in
Texas she and her legal team began shopping for courts that would give a
favorable decision. She found that in a federal bankruptcy court in California.

Despite that the Marshall estate plan made no mention of
Smith and despite that the plan was letter perfect to the law, California
bankruptcy Judge Samuel L. Bufford had sympathy for Anna Nicole Smith and ruled
in her favor. Essentially this bankruptcy judge based his decision on personal
injury to Smith as opposed to using technical bankruptcy laws to make his
decision.

Bufford was accused of breaking two rules. First, he took a
case despite that the “probate exception” rule required that the case stay in
Texas and second he took the case even though it wasn’t a “core matter” for a
bankruptcy proceeding.

California's Ninth Circuit Court, a court much derided as
the "Ninth Circus" for finding "penumbras" at every turn, ruled
that the bankruptcy judge was wrong agreeing that the California case shouldn’t
have been called because the case was a Texas matter.

The “probate exception” part of this case already went
before the SCOTUS and the high court sided with the bankruptcy judge. But the
Ninth Circuit did not rule on the “core matter” part of the case and that is
the part that is going back before the Supremes.

This year the highest court in the land will be tasked with
deciding if Judge Bufford had a right to hear the case even though it was not a
“core matter” for his court, even though he basically had no proper
jurisdiction. This case will rule on whether or not bankruptcy judges can stray
from the closely delineated rules of bankruptcy law and take cases tangential to
traditional bankruptcy.

Of course bankruptcy courts have nothing to do with personal
injury issues. Further they shouldn't. But if the California bankruptcy judge
is upheld this will open our legal system to a spate of court shopping that
will undermine bankruptcy laws all across the land.

Imagine how hard it will be to plan your estate if a federal
bankruptcy judge can give your money away to someone you don't want to reward
simply because the judge feels he has the right to wander from the technical aspects
of the law and instead enter into territory that has nothing at all to do with
the rules he's supposed to be observing. Worse, imagine that someone looking to
steal away your estate can take his meritless case to any court in the country,
any court that is sympathetic to his case.

It would be a disaster, for sure.

So, we as conservatives should want something we almost
never want. That would be for California's Ninth Circuit Court decision to
reverse Bufford to be upheld. Bankruptcy Judge Samuel L. Bufford's ruling must
be affirmed as wrongly decided.

If Bufford is upheld our courts will spin even further out
of control. That is something that none of us should want.

Resources:

Amicus
Brief

Anna
Nicole Smith Returns to the Supreme Court
, by Robert Alt

SCOTUS
to Hear Anna Nicole Smith Case
, by Todd Zywicki, the Volokh
Conspiracy blog

Anna
Nicole Smith Goes Shopping: The New Forum Shopping Problem in Bankruptcy
, Working Paper by by Todd Zywicki

Marshall
v Marshall
, Wikipedia

After 2 years of residing with each other, a royal wedding announced

In a comment that has been expected since June, Prince William and Kate Middeton are formally engaged. The royal couple made the announcement though Charles, the Prince of Wales at Clarence House. Spring or summer 2011 is the prepared date for the wedding. The location has already been generally named -- London. Article source - Prince William and Kate Middleton officially announce engagement by Personal Money Store.Prince William and Kate Middleton engaged nowIt has been about eight years since Prince William and Kate Middleton have started their relationship. The couple has been expected to get engaged for a while now even though there was a separation in 2007 for a few months. Permission of Kate Middleton’s father was asked for. Prince William found this necessary. The two were on vacation in Kenya last month where he officially proposed.Royal wedding getting individuals chattingThe second in line to the British throne currently has a royal engagement. Controversy and speculation have come up over this. Kate Middleton is a commoner just like Prince William’s mother Diana was. We wouldn’t say Kate Middleton is middle class either. She is far from it. At the exclusive University of St. Andrews she met Prince William since her parents made millions following founding a mail-order company. There is no steady job that Kate Middleton has been able to keep. This is not like most British women causing her to be criticized.Prince William and Kate Middleton preparing the wedding ceremonyWhile announcing their engagement, Kate Middleton and Prince William said that they plan to wed "next spring or summer.". The couple has been residing with each other for the last few years, and the wedding has been long-discussed. The royal house is fighting over the wedding details supposedly. When and how the engagement would be declared was one of those. For June, Bookies in Britain said the engagement statement would occur. Someone out there is likely making cash off of that one. The newly-wed couple will live in Wales once married. 

Fifteen year old gets smacked by Russell Miller

A 68 year old man has been arrested for misdemeanor battery. The 68 year old was arrested in Boise. Miller reportedly punched or smacked a 15-year-old sitting next to him on an airline flight. The fifteen year old elevated frustration of Miller when he would not shut off his cell phone. Article resource - Russell Miller protects flight mates - by slapping a 15-year-old by MoneyBlogNewz.  

Russell Miller making things occur

Miller ended up seated next to a 15-year old when on a Southwest Airlines airline flight from Las Vegas to Boise. The airline staff announced that all cell phones should be turned off in preparation for the airline flight. The 15-year old did not follow directions. Miller was not thrilled. A mark was left on the boy as Miller punched or smacked the boy. Lt. Kent Lipple of the Boise police has said that "he thought he had to take action."  

Assault gets Miller arrested

Right after the Boise, ID airline flight landed, Miller got arrested. Miller said that he "smacked the boy with the back of his hand to get his attention." Miller commented further. He said he "felt he was protecting the entire plane and its occupants." The 15-year-old who Miller smacked did not require medical treatment at the time Miller was imprisoned. Conviction of the crime won't be too harsh. A few days in jail is what Miller may face.  

All about the FAA cell phone rules forced

During flights, the Federal Aviation Administration demands that mobile phones are turned to "airplane mode" along with all other electronic devices. This is to prevent radio signals from interfering with airline flight equipment and communications equipment. If the 15-year-old had not turned off his cell phone, the flight crew members would have been well within their rights to request that he do so. During the rest of the flight, nothing else happened between Miller and the fifteen-year-old.  

Citations 

FAA

 

faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsid=6275 

CNN

Senate passes tax cut bill by huge border

The U.S. Senate approved the tax bill by a very vast border after compromises by both sides of the aisle. The bill extends the Bush era tax cuts. You will find various other key provisions like joblessness benefits and estate taxes. The bill still has to be voted on by the House before it goes to the desk of the President. Source of article - Senate tax cut bill passes by incredibly wide margin by MoneyBlogNewz  

Huge yes vote on senate tax bill 

The Senate in Washington D.C. has been viewed closely lately. Numerous wanted to know if the Bush era tax cuts would be extended with the tax bill. The last legislation to pass before the “lame duck Congress” starts next year is this. It is one of the most significant anyway. The Senate voted in favor of the $858 billion bill by a margin of 81 to 19, as outlined by the brand new York Times. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hailed the tax cut bill passing as an act of great cooperation between the two parties to achieve a substantial task on behalf of the American people. The only problem was that the House of Representatives still had to pass the bill before it could become the law. It has passed the House now too though. 

Tax cut bill facts 

The tax cuts from the Bush administration could be extended with the tax bill. The increase in taxes for the richest 2 % of earners is canceled. The way the estate tax is now will continue. This will go into 2011. Estates left to heirs totaling more than $5 million, or $10 million for couples, could be taxed at 35 percent. Unemployment benefits could be extended because of the bill from 26 weeks to 99 weeks. This is only for states that have unemployment rates over 8.5 percent. The bill also cuts payroll taxes for Social Security for workers earning $106,000 a year or less. 

Bill seeing House now 

In order for the bill to become law, it has to be passed by the House of Representatives. Currently, the House has a Democrat majority, as the Republican majority of the upcoming lame duck session has not yet been seated. Numerous democrats weren’t happy about the compromises made in the bill. That is why many democrats voted against it within the House. However, should the House not pass it, income taxes will rise for all Americans in 2011. 

Articles cited 

New York Times 

Personal loans for the holidays

Personal loans customarily gain popularity throughout the holiday season. But this year, a personal unsecured loan for the holiday seasons could possibly be a little harder to find. Your credit score will make a difference on that account. Interest rates may be low, but banks don't like that, which is why they have been doing things with their cash additional than lending. Resource for this article - The best way to find a personal loan for the holidays by Money Blog Newz

Willow Palin assaults critic with obscene Facebook post

Willow Palin, the 16-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin, had had it up to here with critics of “Sarah Palin's AK,” accounts TMZ. Tre, a user who reportedly is known by the Palin girls, said on Facebook that the show had been a miserable failure. TMZ indicates that Willow Palin took a swing at Tre on his wall with various homophobic slurs. Post resource - Willow Palin attacks critic with obscene Facebook post by Personal Money Store.

Willow Palin answers Tre with interesting comment

Willow Palin is just one of those within the Palin family that may be just a little hurt by “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” which television critics have torn down. But Willow Palin appears to have had quite an ax to grind. On Tre's Facebook wall, Willow let loose:

  • "Haha your so gay. I have no idea who you are, But what I've seen pictures of, your disgusting ... My sister had a kid and is still hot."
  • “Tre stfu. Your such a f**got."
  • "You're running your mouth just to talk sh*t."

At that point, the war was on. Bristol Palin - of Levi Johnston, "Dancing with the Stars" and abstinence-talk fame - turned the torch on a Facebook user named Jon:

"You'll be as successful as my baby daddy, And actually I do work my ass off. I've been a single mother for the last 2 yrs."

Madam president, we have a conniption

Sarah Palin, who is considering running for president in 2012, might respect “baby bear defending Mama Grizzly,” as TMZ puts it, but such public outbursts certainly don't help her cause. Bristol made her comment. Then Willow Palin made this remark to add onto it:

"Sorry that you guys are all jealous of my families success and also you guys aren't goin to go anywhere with your lives."

More agitation coming to those already feeling it

For Willow Palin's sake, let's hope none of the angered Facebook crowd packs heat like Vermont's Steven Cowan. A fan of "DWTS," Cowan had been exasperated by Bristol Palin's continued ability to advance in the competition. So angry was the financially stressed, intoxicated mental health patient over this that he went upstairs, grabbed his shotgun and fired it at the television. Cowan had been arrested after a 15-hour standoff with Dane County Police.

Information from

TMZ

tmz.com/2010/11/16/sarah-palin-willow-palin-homophobic-slur-facebook-attack-sarah-palins-alaska-dancing-with-the-stars-tlc/

Wisconsin State Journal

host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/crime_and_courts/article_3a5b6914-f1ce-11df-80f8-001cc4c002e0.html

How not to reign in Willow Palin's boyfriend

youtube.com/watch?v=T5d6wYgTzXc

L.A. Sports Stadium Project More Important Than Libraries, Police, Firemen?

-By Warner Todd Huston

The 2010 elections are now history. If there was any lesson from this Republican tidal wave that swept across the country it is that the vast majority of Americans are furious at the overspending and flawed leadership of our politicians. Voters are no longer so easily fooled by claims that wild spending sprees are beneficial. California was spared the GOP tidal wave but California voters of all stripes voted in droves to impose a high threshold on imposing any new taxes (what was LA turnout). In the City of Los Angeles real pain is being felt as libraries are shut down due to budgetary cuts with police and firefighters next on the chopping block. Yet even with all these cuts in services, politicians in the City of Los Angeles are still considering a multi-million dollar subsidy -- using taxpayer dollars – for the problematic Staples NFL Stadium project.

Across the country voters are starting to veer away from supporting public money going to fund stadiums and other such entertainment projects. Recently the Wall Street Journal reported that, "taxpayers are opposing agreements to fund baseball projects after a decades long boom in publicly financed ballparks." It appears that L.A. has not learned its lesson from November 2nd.

L.A.'s budget is deeply in the red. In mid-September, the city announced that it was shutting down libraries on Mondays to save money. The Los Angeles Police Dept. similarly announced deep cuts that will affect its SWAT teams, its K9 program and other special units all due to the city's budget morass. L.A.'s firefighters have said that budget cuts will hamper their efforts to fight brush fires and puts other emergency services at risk. Even L.A.'s celebrated Neighborhood Prosecutor Program has been slashed in half.

L.A. has continued to teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, yet Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa still announced new wild schemes for global warming prevention programs that he wanted to pay for by a massive raise in Department of Water and Power (DWP) rates. And then there is this stadium deal.

The media and the city are all happily selling citizens on the claim that the new Staples stadium is being funded privately. But the whole truth is not being revealed. For one thing not much notice was given to AEG's Tim Leiweke's not so subtle hints that the city might have to pony up about one billion for the project. But even if that ends up somehow going away, the city is already on the hook for millions and millions in previous obligations.

One problem is the whole convention center aspect of this project. Some 300,000 square feet of the facility will be torn down for the stadium project and that would be immediate lost revenue to the city. Then comes the re-building of that lost square footage which will cost the city at least $250 million as well as construction of new parking facilities that will cost between $75 and $125 million. And the convention center is already a troublesome financial burden as it is. After all, L.A. still has $500 million in bonds outstanding for the convention center.

Once construction begins the convention center will be effectively unable to compete with larger facilities in California and across the country and it is estimated that the city will then lose $25 million in revenue. This is not to mention the lost revenue from local hotels, car rental agencies, restaurants and the like. Nor does it mention the sales tax revenue the county will lose above and beyond what the city itself will lose.

Then there are the subsidies that the Staples center got that goes little discussed in the press nor is mentioned much by the politicians selling this deal to the public. As Ron Kaye notes:

Leiweke claims AEG built Staples entirely by itself when it got a $14 million subsidy and the land for it was seized by the Community Redevelopment Agency and turned over to it. He also ignores the fact that the luxury hotel at LA Live gets to keep the 10 percent hotel tax -- a $300 million gift of public money -- that other businesses don't get and the public doesn't get the benefit of the revenue so badly needed when services are being slashed.

None of these hidden costs are being born by the private investors of the Staples stadium. The City of Los Angeles -- and therefore the taxpayers --will be responsible for all of it. So this claim that the new stadium project is not costing the taxpayers a cent is simply false.

As John Fleischman of the FlashReport reminds us, "during especially difficult financial periods, like the recession in which we find ourselves today, we all need to be incredibly diligent to guard against this sort of thing -- and we expect our politicians to be looking out for us."

With that said, one has to wonder why the City Council or City Controller Wendy Gruel are not raising the alarm here? This stadium deal will cost the city millions and millions that it simply does not have to spend, not to mention quashing current revenue streams. While the council and mayor are shutting down vital services and appear desperate to find ways to slash the City’s budget they are all turning a blind eye to the obscene costs that this stadium deal will bring down upon the City.

Yes, it seems that the City of Los Angeles never learns its lesson. But this time, there won’t be anyone in Sacramento or Washington D.C. to bail the City out. The cupboard is bare.

The Coming Staples Mausoleum/Stadium

-By Warner Todd Huston

Even as supporters claim they won’t need subsidies, it is more likely that L.A. is about to plunge itself forever into debt with a new stadium, the Staples Center. A look at just about any other convention center, or stadium in the country easily shows that these projects seldom pay for themselves as builders insist that they will do. Yet, every time you turn around another city is falling for this false hope.

Unfortunately it is almost impossible for the average citizen to track where the budget money is going in any particular city budget. As we learned from Bell, California people have even been duped into making city politicians millionaires and millions have been misspent.

Cities shift funds from one department to another with such regularity that tracking it is difficult. If the City of Bell is any lesson we need far more transparency in city budgeting.

But it shouldn't be any surprise to the city fathers of LA that the Staples Center will never pay for itself. After all, the Convention Center has lost millions every year, too, and now they intend to tear down part of that losing venture to build yet another losing venture. According to the L.A. Almanac, in 2005 the convention center brought in $9,130,000. Appropriations for the convention center, however, were 21,608,518. That is an operating loss.

Even if LA wanted to ignore the constant operating loss of its own convention center, they have but to ask San Francisco whose own Moscone Center also operates at a perpetual loss. The Moscone Center takes in about $10 million annually yet has an operating cost that runs at least three million more than it takes in.

LA's administration expects people to continue to patronize the convention center choking on the construction dust and stumbling over debris, finding little parking and confronted with constant crime in the area, as supporters build a new stadium that itself will not likely end up paying for itself.

Already news has leaked that the cost of this stadium will be over $1 billion. But even that price tag is likely two or even three times too small. After all, even if the stadium "only" costs $1 billion won't the city have to end up replacing the square footage lost to the convention center?

Also if the city does not replace the square footage, another problem arises. The larger conventions, those that bring in the most money, will have to be canceled because the city has lost the floor space that the convention center originally had. Some that are already booked may have to be canceled and the city will be at a competitive disadvantage with other convention center across the country for future events. This all constitutes a hidden cost to the taxpayers later on.

This is all a familiar tune being played out across the country. It isn't a new thing, either. Most people are familiar with the famous Houston Astrodome that now sits empty and unused because the city lost its national sports franchises. The stadium was built with much fanfare in 1965 and at this time far removed from its initial construction, one would assume the thing was paid for long ago. But that would be a false assumption.

As Steve Malenga reveals to us:

Take Houston. The Astrodome… There's still $32 million in debt on a stadium originally constructed for just $35 million, thanks to some $60 million in obligations floated on the dome in the 1980s for upgrades. With no current revenues, the dome must be supported entirely by local taxes, which cover about $2.4 million in annual debt payments (which stretch for 22 years) and another $2 million in upkeep. The solution? More debt, of course. The Harris County Commissioners, who control the stadium, are looking at a plan to turn the whole place into a giant conference and meeting center, at a cost of $900 million in new debt. Either that or spend $128 million to tear the place down.

Malenga also notes similar losses in other cities. Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands, for instance, is still costing the taxpayers millions even after the complex was torn down. Further the Seattle Kingdome offers similar deficits, upwards to $100 million, to Seattle's taxpayers and Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburg is also in hock for $23 million, or rather the taxpayers are in hock for that obscene amount.

As we can see, even as bodies of government are tearing down stadiums and convention centers and/or proposing new construction, debt service on these and other “abandoned” stadiums (like those built all over for the Olympics) are still saddling the taxpayers with debt. It’s the worst of all worlds as taxpayers are left holding the bag for stadiums that are already not producing revenue they are forced to pay for it all ad infinitum.

Yet LA's politicians continue to stumble toward this never ending waste of the taxpayer's money.

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