About 140 companies have already scheduled layoffs for the new year that will affect 9,000 California workers, according to the newest state-mandated warning notices filed by their employers. Search The Bee's updated layoff database to see these companies - and hundreds of others - who have announced large layoffs since the beginning of 2007. Read More
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
NOT INVITED BACK
Saturday, December 27, 2008
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold December morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that a thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:> If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
US Economy Shrinks as IMF Warns of Great Depression
Agence France-Presse: "The US economy shrank in the third quarter, official data confirmed Tuesday, as the IMF's top economist warned of a second Great Depression offering no respite from relentless gloom ahead of Christmas. The abrupt 0.5 percent contraction of gross domestic product (GDP) in the world's largest economy was seen as marking the start of a steep downturn for the United States after GDP growth of 2.8 percent in the second quarter."
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
GENEVA, 23 December (BWNS)- The Baha'i International Community today expressed grave concern over the closing by the Iranian government of Shirin Ebadi's Defenders of Human Rights Center in Tehran and called for its reopening."
The closing of Mrs. Ebadi's office is a blow to human rights for the whole of Iran," said Diane Ala'i, a representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.
"The spokesperson of Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that the reason behind the closure was that the Center has no license. But it would be a simple matter to give them one. Otherwise, the fact that the Iranian government would shut down the office of its most famous human rights defender, who is Iran's only winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the first Muslim woman so recognized, can only be perceived by the world at large as further evidence that the government has no regard for rights and freedoms.
"Mrs. Ebadi and her colleagues are engaged in defending numerous individuals and groups in Iran, and the closure of the Center will certainly interfere with their efforts and impede the adequate legal representation that they are committed to providing," she said.Among those being defended by Mrs. Ebadi and her organization are the seven Baha'i leaders who are currently being held without charge in Evin prison in Tehran. The seven were arrested in March and May in an ominous sweep that was reminiscent of when Baha'i leaders in the 1980s were rounded up and executed."
Regardless of the attempts against human rights defenders in Iran, Mrs. Ebadi and her colleagues are courageously pursuing their work. For the good of the country, we call upon the Iranian authorities to resolve the administrative issue, and to allow the Center to reopen immediately," said Ms. Ala'i.
To view the Baha'i World News Service homepage, go to:https://webmail.saclink.csus.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=44d8910c372b4b398c58a91d6c6640df&URL=http%3a%2f%2fnews.bahai.org
Global markets swooned today in reaction to photos showing that President-elect Barack Obama had lost his shirt.
The pictures depicting a shirtless Mr. Obama wandering about on a deserted stretch of beach stoked fears that the U.S.'s financial woes were deeper than previously reported.
"We have had a steady drumbeat of bad news about the U.S. economy for weeks now," said Tracy Klugian, global asset analyst for HSBC. "Learning that the President-elect no longer has a shirt to his name was the last thing these markets needed."
Monday, December 22, 2008
The report underscores major difficulties in bringing assistance to people affected by conflict. The lack of global attention to the growing prevalence of HIV-tuberculosis co-infection and the critical need for increased global efforts to prevent and treat childhood malnutrition—the underlying cause of death for up to five million children per year—are also included in the list.
From Yahoo News, Sunday, December 21, 2008. See http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081221/ap_on_bi_ge/executive_bailouts
AP study finds $1.6B went to bailed-out bank execs
By Frank Bass and Rita Beamish, Associated Press Writers
Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.
The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages
Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.
The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.
Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services committee and a long-standing critic of executive largesse, said the bonuses tallied by the AP review amount to a bribe "to get them to do the jobs for which they are well paid in the first place.
"Most of us sign on to do jobs and we do them best we can," said Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. "We're told that some of the most highly paid people in executive positions are different. They need extra money to be motivated!"
The AP compiled total compensation based on annual reports that the banks file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The 116 banks have so far received $188 billion in taxpayer help. Among the findings:
_The average paid to each of the banks' top executives was $2.6 million in salary, bonuses and benefits.
_Lloyd Blankfein, president and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, took home nearly $54 million in compensation last year. The company's top five executives received a total of $242 million.
This year, Goldman will forgo cash and stock bonuses for its seven top-paid executives. They will work for their base salaries of $600,000, the company said. Facing increasing concern by its own shareholders on executive payments, the company described its pay plan last spring as essential to retain and motivate executives "whose efforts and judgments are vital to our continued success, by setting their compensation at appropriate and competitive levels." Goldman spokesman Ed Canaday declined to comment beyond that written report.
The New York-based company on Dec. 16 reported its first quarterly loss since it went public in 1999. It received $10 billion in taxpayer money on Oct. 28.
_Even where banks cut back on pay, some executives were left with seven- or eight-figure compensation that most people can only dream about. Richard D. Fairbank, the chairman of Capital One Financial Corp., took a $1 million hit in compensation after his company had a disappointing year, but still got $17 million in stock options. The McLean, Va.-based company received $3.56 billion in bailout money on Nov. 14.
_John A. Thain, chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch, topped all corporate bank bosses with $83 million in earnings last year. Thain, a former chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs, took the reins of the company in December 2007, avoiding the blame for a year in which Merrill lost $7.8 billion. Since he began work late in the year, he earned $57,692 in salary, a $15 million signing bonus and an additional $68 million in stock options.
Like Goldman, Merrill got $10 billion from taxpayers on Oct. 28.
The AP review comes amid sharp questions about the banks' commitment to the goals of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), a law designed to buy bad mortgages and other troubled assets. Last month, the Bush administration changed the program's goals, instructing the Treasury Department to pump tax dollars directly into banks in a bid to prevent wholesale economic collapse.
The program set restrictions on some executive compensation for participating banks, but did not limit salaries and bonuses unless they had the effect of encouraging excessive risk to the institution. Banks were barred from giving golden parachutes to departing executives and deducting some executive pay for tax purposes.
Banks that got bailout funds also paid out millions for home security systems, private chauffeured cars, and club dues. Some banks even paid for financial advisers. Wells Fargo of San Francisco, which took $25 billion in taxpayer bailout money, gave its top executives up to $20,000 each to pay personal financial planners.
At Bank of New York Mellon Corp., chief executive Robert P. Kelly's stipend for financial planning services came to $66,748, on top of his $975,000 salary and $7.5 million bonus. His car and driver cost $178,879. Kelly also received $846,000 in relocation expenses, including help selling his home in Pittsburgh and purchasing one in Manhattan, the company said.
Goldman Sachs' tab for leased cars and drivers ran as high as $233,000 per executive. The firm told its shareholders this year that financial counseling and chauffeurs are important in giving executives more time to focus on their jobs.
JPMorgan Chase chairman James Dimon ran up a $211,182 private jet travel tab last year when his family lived in Chicago and he was commuting to New York. The company got $25 billion in bailout funds.
Banks cite security to justify personal use of company aircraft for some executives. But Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., questioned that rationale, saying executives visit many locations more vulnerable than the nation's security-conscious commercial air terminals.
Sherman, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, said pay excesses undermine development of good bank economic policies and promote an escalating pay spiral among competing financial institutions - something particularly hard to take when banks then ask for rescue money.
He wants them to come before Congress, like the automakers did, and spell out their spending plans for bailout funds.
"The tougher we are on the executives that come to Washington, the fewer will come for a bailout," he said.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
FOCUS Jerry Brown: Gay-Marriage Ban Should Be Invalidated
Jessica Garrison, The Los Angeles Times: "In a surprise move, state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown asked the California Supreme Court on Friday to invalidate Proposition 8. He said the November ballot measure that banned gay marriage 'deprives people of the right to marry, an aspect of liberty that the Supreme Court has concluded is guaranteed by the California Constitution.'"
Friday, December 19, 2008
December 19, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama
Presidential Transition Office
Washington, DC 20270
Dear President-elect Obama:
The gay and lesbian community, our millions of friends and all other fair minded Americans are extremely hurt and angry with your choice of Reverend Rick Warren to give the invocation at your Inauguration next month.In an interview just 4 days ago, Reverend Warren compared gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy. He said:"I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage." -- Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church, December 15, 2008
How can he talk about loving same-sex couples who wish to marry like everyone else in this cruel way? This guy is a bigot plain and simple. He has a long history of saying mean and hateful things to so many Americans with whom he does not agree, that he seems an odd fit into your celebration as you assume the Presidency of the United States. So today we are asking you to drop Rick Warren from delivering the invocation at your swearing in ceremony. We will be launching a new web site www.DropRickWarren.com to ask others to join in our effort to help persuade you to choose another man or woman to take this place of honor at your historic Inauguration. We hope that you will drop Reverend Warren soon, and instead pick one of the thousands of religious leaders who don’t offend the gay and lesbian community and so many other Americans. You campaigned and were elected to unite this country and your removal of Rick Warren would go a long way toward achieving that goal.Rick Warren was a major supporter of California’s Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative to ban gay marriage. Many prominent national gay leaders have called for Reverend Warren to step aside or for you to remove him. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, declared your invitation to Rick Warren a “genuine blow” to gay Americans. “And by inviting Rick Warren to your Inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table,” he wrote.
Equality California Executive Director, Geoff Kors said yesterday that, “I have decided to decline the invitation to attend the inauguration as I cannot be part of a celebration that highlights and gives voice to someone who advocated repealing rights from me and millions of other Californians.Mr. President-elect, we know that you are trying to be inclusive at your Inaugural and in your administration and we applaud that. We, however, strongly urge you to do the right thing and reconsider your choice of Rick Warren. If you drop Rick Warren, it will send a loud and clear message to America and the world that you do not tolerate discrimination and hatred from anyone.
Thank you very much.
"I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage." -- Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church, December 15, 2008
US balks at backing condemnation of anti-gay laws UNITED NATIONS – Alone among major Western nations, the United Stateshas refused to sign a declaration presented Thursday at the UnitedNations calling for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.In all, 66 of the U.N.'s 192 member countries signed the nonbindingdeclaration — which backers called a historic step to push the GeneralAssembly to deal more forthrightly with any-gay discrimination. Morethan 70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality, and in several of themhomosexual acts can be punished by execution.
Co-sponsored by France and the Netherlands, the declaration was signedby all 27 European Union members, as well as Japan, Australia, Mexicoand three dozen other countries. There was broad opposition fromMuslim nations, and the United States refused to sign, indicating thatsome parts of the declaration raised legal questions that neededfurther review.
"It's disappointing," said Rama Yade, France's human rights minister,of the U.S. position — which she described as in contradiction withAmerica's long tradition as a defender of human rights.According to some of the declaration's backers, U.S. officialsexpressed concern in private talks that some parts of the declarationmight be problematic in committing the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In numerous states, landlords and private employers are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexualorientation; on the federal level, gays are not allowed to serve openly in the military.
Carolyn Vadino, a spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the U.N.,stressed that the United States — despite its unwillingness to sign —condemned any human rights violations related to sexual orientation.
Gay rights activists nonetheless were angered by the U.S. position."It's an appalling stance — to not join with other countries that arestanding up and calling for decriminalization of homosexuality," said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the International Gay andLesbian Human Rights Commission.
She expressed hope that the U.S. position might change afterPresident-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.Also denouncing the U.S. stance was Richard Grenell, who until two months ago had been the chief spokesman for the U.S. mission to theU.N.
"It is ridiculous to suggest that there are legal reasons why we can'tsupport this resolution — common sense says we should be the leader inmaking sure other governments are granting more freedoms for theirpeople, not less," said Grenell, who described himself as a gayRepublican. "The U.S. lack of support on this issue only dims our oncebright beacon of hope and freedom for those who are persecuted andoppressed.
"More than 50 countries opposed to the declaration, including members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, issued a jointstatement Thursday criticizing the initiative as an unwarrantedattempt to give special prominence to gays and lesbians. The statementsuggested that protecting sexual orientation could lead to "the social normalization and possibly the legalization of deplorable acts" such as pedophilia and incest.
The declaration also has been opposed by the Vatican, a stance whichprompted a protest in Rome earlier this month.A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Roman Catholic Church opposed the death penalty and other harsh repressionof gays and lesbians, but he expressed concern that the declarationwould be used as pressure against those who believe marriage rightsshould not be extended to gays.
A new Vatican statement, issued Thursday, endorsed the call to endcriminal penalties against gays, but said that overall the declaration "gives rise to uncertainty in the law and challenges existing humannorms." The European nations backing the declaration waged their campaign inconjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.The Dutch foreign affairs minister, Maxime Verhagen, said countries that endorsed that 1948 document had no right to carve out exceptions based on religion or culture that allowed discrimination against gays.
"Human rights apply to all people in all places at all times," he said. "I will not accept any excuse."He acknowledged that the new declaration had only symbolic import, but said it marked the first time such a large number of nations had raised the cause of gay rights in the context of General Assembly proceedings.
"This statement aims to make debate commonplace," he said. "It is not meant to be a source of division, but to eliminate the taboo that surrounds the issue." Although the declaration's backers were pleased that nations on sixcontinents had signed it, there were only two from Asia and four from Africa.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Over at Listverse they have counted down the best and worst Christmas specials of all time.
Top Five Best
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas
2. How The Grinch Stole Chrismas
3. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
4. Frosty The Snowman
5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Joes goes on to say "But my personal favorite will always be Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special. Gay, gay, gay. The guest list alone! And played at my house every year."
its well worth some quality time at you tube... a classic!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
It is appalling that President-elect Barack Obama would invite California Pastor Rev. Rick Warren, an ardent supporter of Prop 8 and someone who is opposed to the equality of LGBT Americans, to give the invocation at his inauguration.
Demand President-elect Obama to immediately rescind this invitation.
Would President-elect Obama invite someone to give the invocation who supported eliminating the civil rights of a minority other than the LGBT community? Of course he wouldn’t!
This is a slap in the face to the millions of LGBT Americans who supported his historic candidacy.
TAKE ACTION: Sign EQCA’s petition to President-elect Obama. Ask him to immediately rescind this despicable invitation.
Bill Moyers Journal What's Next for Afghanistan?
Friday on Bill Moyers Journal: "As a new administration is set to take over in the White House, Bill Moyers checks in with author Sarah Chayes on the state of affairs in America's other war in Afghanistan. An author and former journalist, Chayes has lived the last seven years in Afghanistan, helping to rebuild the country."
Wishing for a safer world, free from nuclear weapons, is all well and good. But getting there will take all of us, taking action together. President-elect Obama has publicly joined our call to work for nuclear weapons abolition. In his acceptance speech he told us we would have to work for the change we want to see. Click the pic above to join Peace Action's online campaign, today, to realize a Nuclear Weapons Free World.
A Treatise on Stuff
Things are different today
There is ice hanging from the downspout
Frost all over the lawn
Yet we are short, and the lady on the news says
We might catch-up
Or then again
We might not
Not enough rain, that is, and
Too many people and
Too much stuff makes for less rain and
An economy that feeds on feeding us useless stuff
To turn off
and plug in then it is
Time to replace
The useless stuff I bought to plug in, and turn off
I found that the useless stuff, needs
And children to
Assemble the useless stuff, that
Required a mountain to be taken down and forest to be
Disassembled so that the
Useless stuff, that
Requires a ship to take it back to be reassembled as
That comes back again as
Car parts and cell phones and underwear and
That breaks or replaces the stuff that broke
And replaced the other stuff before that
The TV promises that your
Children will cry if they don’t get the right useless stuff that
My TV taught me that
If you are good
Santa will bring you lots of useless stuff,
That he stuffs down your chimney and puts
By the chimney, with less care than hope
For useless stuff.
Parents fret if the useless stuff isn’t heaped
High enough around
Made in China
A perfect Xmas should include perfect useless stuff
The media frets
Far too many people
Are not buying enough useless stuff to
Heap around their trees.
Made in China
The icicles on our tree are made in China.
see more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/12/17/more-republicans-revolt-a_n_151695.html
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
When leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) took a prominent role in ending marriage equality in California, I felt compelled to act.
Bruce Bastian, HRC Board Member said, "As a gay resident of Utah who grew up in a conservative Mormon family, I have seen the LDS Church divide the community and even families every day. I became active in and donated a million dollars to the "No on 8" campaign to help spread the truth in the face of a deceptive campaign funded largely by members of the LDS Church."
Bcause LDS (Mormon) leaders have been trying to deflect criticism by insisting that they're not "anti-gay" or opposed to civil unions, domestic partnerships and other LGBT rights – just marriage equality, click here to ask them to prove it.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Bush Sneaks Through Host of Laws to Undermine Obama
Since the Theatre is near