I go into downtown Washington DC about 3 or 4 times a month, and long ago I learned to never to park on the street. Why? Because it is almost a guarantee that one will get a ticket.
The District makes it as difficult as possible to find a space, and once one is found the city even makes it harder to pay the meter. They have these meter stations which one pays with a credit card, but half the time it’s impossible to figure out whether one is paying for oneself of someone else’s car.
Don’t park on the street in DC. Take it from me. One time after I’d just started working near Capitol Hill years ago I came back after work to find my car gone. I looked around. I was pretty sure no one was interested in my old Ford Contour. I saw a guy in overalls and a hard hat getting into a truck. The truck had a DC seal on the door.
“Hey man,” I said. “Have you seen a green Ford Contour by any chance?”
“Yeah,” he said as he slid into his seat.
“We had to repave the road here.” He pointed to the ground. “We towed a bunch of cars down the road. 4 blocks.”
“Thanks” I said. And he drove off.
I did find my car, and it was in no worse shape than it was that morning thankfully. But had I not stopped the guy from getting into his truck I would have had no idea what had happened. And even at that point in my Washington career I knew the police wouldn’t be any help.
So take this advice. Don’t park on the street in DC.
“This is pure unadulterated exploitation of motorists. D.C. couldn’t get the commuter tax it wanted. So it makes it exceedingly hard to find parking, then you fine them for overstayed at the meter,” says Townsend.
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Walmart limiting ammo sales due to supply issues
The world’s largest retailer is limiting U.S. ammunition sales to three boxes of shells per day, per customer.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — The world’s largest retailer is limiting U.S. ammunition sales to three boxes of shells per day, per customer.
Walmart said Thursday the restriction is in place because the supply of ammunition has become tight.
Ashley Hardie, a spokeswoman for the Bentonville-based company, says Walmart is monitoring its ability to meet demand and will lift the restrictions when it is able to.
The company doesn’t break out sales of individual items and Hardie wouldn’t say how much sales have increased. She says the limits apply to all types of ammunition and are in place to ensure as many customers as possible can be served.
Gun shops have reported increased sales since the massacre of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., revived the nation’s gun control debate.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:30 am
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Alasdair Macleod on safety issues with GLD and SLV
Episode 79: Andy Duncan interviews Alasdair Macleod, Head of Research at GoldMoney. They talk about possible security issues with the big gold and silver ETFs GLD and SLV due to insufficient regulation, and also discuss western central banks’ gold leasing activities.
In his recent article published on the GATA website, Alasdair Macleod writes about how custody arrangements for the GLD and SLV exchange traded funds may be compromising shareholder security because they exist outside the regulatory regime of the UK’s Financial Services Authority, and instead solely rely upon the “good practices” of the LBMA.
As part of their discussion, they touch upon the merits and risks of gold investors using ETFs as investment vehicles, as opposed to holding physical gold outside of the banking system. They further discuss the general flow of gold from the West to Asia, and the leasing practices of western central banks. The leased out gold is fabricated and mainly sold to Asian customers – who still regard gold as money – perhaps never to return to the leasing originators.
As well as working for GoldMoney, Alasdair Macleod also publishes articles at his own website FinanceAndEconomics.org.
This podcast was recorded on 3 December 2012.
Statistics: Posted by DIGGER DAN — Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:22 pm
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Nitrate issues continue for fall
Kansas State University Extension | Updated: November 23, 2012
Nitrates continue to be a concern for livestock producers as they deal with limited feed supplies over the fall and winter. Concentrations of nitrates can change as long as the plant is still growing and can respond to available moisture.
Fall cereal grains and cover crops – Wheat, rye, triticale and oats can accumulate nitrates. Test results have shown high nitrates this fall, and forages should not be grazed without testing for nitrates. This would include those that overwinter and might be grazed or hayed in the spring. Some of the brassicas such as turnips and radishes have had levels so high that their use for livestock feed will not be an option.
Crop residues – If an average or better grain yield was harvested, nitrates are less likely to be a problem in the crop residue left behind. However regrowth or volunteer growth in fields where grain production levels were substandard may contain problem levels of nitrate due to excess N fertilizer remaining in the soil. Sample the plant material you expect animals to graze, and in the case of fields with highly variable growth, collect separate samples that represent the different growth and maturity levels attained.
Baled forages with high nitrates – Sample each field or lot separately, because different fields or cuttings may have different nitrate levels present. The more samples you collect the better information you will have to make decisions. Nitrate concentrations tend to be highly variable within a field which can be reflected in individual bales. Storage will not decrease the nitrate concentration in baled forage.
The same sample that is used for a nitrate test can return information on protein and energy content. Corn hay baled earlier this summer is likely to be much higher in quality than corn residue baled after grain harvest. Applying the forage test information to a plan for feeding is an easy return on investment.
High nitrate feeds should be mixed with other feedstuffs to reduce the total nitrate concentration in the diet. Young, pregnant and stressed animals are more susceptible to nitrate toxicity. Make sure to consider nitrates from all components of the diet. This includes the water source. Introduce the high nitrate feed gradually over several days. Avoid situations where a large intake of high nitrate feed may occur in one meal. Over time, animals can adjust to higher levels in the diet. Feeding smaller amounts several times a day can be used to adapt cattle to nitrates. If grazing, gradually increase hours of access to the high nitrate feed.
A few pounds of grain (2-5 lbs) in the ration will dilute the nitrate in the total ration and provide the carbohydrates for bacteria to quickly convert the nitrogen into ammonia. Mixing of the ration should be thorough enough so that one animal does not have the opportunity to over consume the high nitrate component. Reduce the amount of the high nitrate component in the mix and begin a process of working back up if winter storms alter feeding patterns.
Silage – Test silage for nitrates before feeding. Silage can still contain toxic levels if the initial level was very high. Nitrates are reduced during ensiling however the reduction can range from 20 to 80%. Forage that was dry going into the silage pile may only have a 20% reduction.
Green forages generally provide the needed Vitamin A for cattle diets, however animal stores can be depleted in two to six months. High nitrates in feedstuffs may increase the requirement for Vitamin A. Given these considerations, providing supplemental vitamin A makes good sense and is not expensive to do. See March 2007 Beef tips for more on Vitamin A deficiency.
Horses – Horses are not nearly as susceptible to nitrate toxicity as ruminants. Some conversion of nitrate to nitrite occurs in the cecum but at a much lower rate than in ruminants. Pregnant mares can tolerate much higher levels than cattle but there is no published data on actual levels that horses can tolerate. Nitrate poisoning that does occur in horses happens more often in association with accidental fertilizer spills or water contamination.
This year has been abundant in nitrate challenges for producers. Incorporating high nitrate feeds into cattle diets can be done but it will require good management and attention to details.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Nov 24, 2012 2:02 pm
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It is always our effort at Against Crony Capitalism to present a balanced and non-partisan point of view on the issue of crony capitalism. Both “major” parties engage in it. It stinks, and whether Republican, Democrat, or other we will call an individual or group out on it.
With that said.
The Government Accountability Institute run by Peter Schweizer has looked deeply into the campaign contributions of both major candidates (forgive me Gary Johnson) and found areas of concern. GAI was early in calling for Mr. Romney to disclose his bundlers. Obama disclosed them, and in the name of transparency, GAI felt Romney should also. I agree with them.
GAI has also uncovered some pretty important information regarding the use of credit cards by the president in his campaign. For instance, why have millions of dollars in contributions come from individuals in bogus zip codes?
Also, why is Obama.com, which takes contributions for the campaign, owned by a US expat in China? Why does the site not ask for the CVV number when giving via credit card? (This helps ensure that a card is being used by the person to which the card is issued.) 68% of the site’s traffic is foreign. For a campaign donation gathering site this is a problem as foreign nationals are not allowed to contribute to presidential campaigns.
Though this issue was reported in Newsweek’s The Daily Beast, other major news outlets have not covered the story. Why not? Is the integrity of our electoral system no longer of concern to the #oldmedia?
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Did you watch the presidential debate on Wednesday night? It is absolutely amazing how they can have an hour and a half debate about the economy and say so little. It seemed like both candidates were falling all over each other wanting to talk about how much they value education, but will more education really solve our problems? After all, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed in 2011. So perhaps they should just both agree that education is a good thing and start talking about how to create more jobs for all of us. If you want to grade the debate from a technical standpoint, clearly Romney was the winner of the debate. Romney was full of energy and was generally sharp with his answers. Obama looked like he had just popped a couple of antidepressants and was ready for nap time. As a result, this might have been the worst blowout in the history of presidential debates. A CNN/ORC International poll that was taken right after the debate found that 67 percent of all Americans that had watched the debate thought that Romney was the winner. Never before had any presidential candidate crossed the 60 percent mark in the history of their post-debate polling. So Romney definitely had a big night. But the reality is that both candidates were telling the American people what they want to hear. If either Obama or Romney told the truth about what we are facing they would lose votes, and in a race this tight both of them really want to avoid doing that. Obama and Romney both desperately want to win this election, and the words that are coming out of their mouths have been carefully crafted to appeal to the “undecided voters” in the swing states. If you actually believe that they can deliver on everything that they are promising, then you must not have been paying much attention to U.S. politics over the past several decades.
Perhaps the biggest failure on Wednesday night was debate moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS. His questions were about as far from “hard hitting” as you could get.
The hour and a half debate was almost entirely about the economy, and yet almost all of the critical economic issues were ignored.
Yes, Obama and Romney have slight differences when it comes to tax rates and regulations, but those small differences are not going to do much to change the direction of this country one way or another.
Meanwhile, there were some really huge issues about the economy that were not addressed at all last night….
1 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the Federal Reserve was not mentioned a single time.
2 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, Ben Bernanke was not mentioned a single time.
3 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, quantitative easing was not mentioned a single time.
4 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the term “derivatives” was not used a single time. Considering the fact that derivatives could bring down our financial system at any moment, this is an issue that should be talked about.
5 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was no mention of the millions of jobs that have been shipped out of the country. Considering the fact that both Obama and Romney have played a role in this, it is probably a topic they both want to avoid. Overall, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
6 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, neither candidate mentioned that the velocity of money has plunged to a post-World War II low.
7 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the fact that the rest of the world is beginning to reject the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency was not mentioned a single time, but this has enormous implications for our economy in the years ahead.
8 – The fact that the Social Security system is headed for massive trouble was only briefly touched on during the debate. At the moment, there are approximately 56 million Americans that are collecting Social Security benefits. By 2035, that number is projected to grow to an astounding 91 million. Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years. When are our politicians going to honestly address this massive problem?
9 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the nightmarish drought the country is experiencing right now was not mentioned a single time.
10 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the financial meltdown in Europe was basically totally ignored. But considering the fact that Europe has a larger economy and a much larger banking system than we do, perhaps someone should have asked Obama and Romney what they plan to do when the financial system of Europe implodes.
11 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, the student loan debt bubble was only briefly mentioned.
12 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was not a single word about the fact that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is now larger than it has been at any point since the Great Depression.
13 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was no mention of TARP (which they both supported at the time). Would they both bail out the big banks if another financial crisis erupted?
14 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, there was no mention of the economic stimulus packages (which they both supported at the time). Would they both want more “economic stimulus” if we entered another recession?
15 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, neither candidate talked about the fact that most of the jobs our economy is producing now are low income jobs. In fact, since the end of the last recession, 58 percent of the jobs that have been created are low paying jobs.
16 – In an hour and a half debate about the economy, neither candidate mentioned that more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government or that more than half of all Americans are now at least partially financially dependent on the government. I can’t blame Romney for avoiding this point though – he probably wanted to avoid the phrase “47 percent” at all costs.
Is this really the best that America can do?
Tens of millions of Americans tuned in hoping to become more informed about the candidates, and instead what they got was an hour and a half of tap dancing as Obama and Romney constantly tossed out buzzwords such as “education”, “energy independent” and “middle class”.
I honestly don’t know how you can possibly have a debate about the economy without talking about the Federal Reserve, quantitative easing, the trade deficit, Europe or the decline of the U.S. dollar.
But it just happened right in front of our eyes.
I don’t think that I can ever remember another presidential debate that lacked substance as much as this one did.
So what did you all think about the debate? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
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Fashion world in shock as British clothing giant Burberry issues profit warning amid difficult conditions for ‘middle market’ brands
LIAM O’BRIEN TUESDAY 11 SEPTEMBER 2012
lshares slumped by almost 19 per cent, wiping £1 billion from its market value in what one analyst described as “shooting the messenger” over a crisis across luxury brands.
Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts said the company’s second quarter growth had slowed against “historically high comparatives” in a “challenging market”. “Given this background, we are tightly managing discretionary costs and taking appropriate actions to protect short term profitability, while continuing to execute on our proven five key strategies,” she added.
In the short term, the company’s headcount has been frozen, travel expenditure will be cut and new IT projects have been deferred. The long-term strategies, including expansion into emerging markets and a diversification into non-clothing products, are still in place.
As luxury giants LVMH (behind Louis Vuitton) and PPR (Gucci, Alexander McQueen) took single digit hits, analysts pondered whether there could be a problem with growth across high-end manufacturers. Ahrendts didn’t specify whether results were hit in Western markets or emerging markets – leading to speculation it could conceivably be both.
The announcement was in stark contrast an optimistic forecast at the opposite end of the retail sector. Primark said like-for-like sales had increased by 3 per cent in the year to 15 September, with 19 new branch launches increasing overall sales by 15 per cent.
Neil Saunders, managing director of retail analysts Conlumino, said the current economic climate protected super-cheap brands such as Primark, as well as those who sell to the “uber wealthy”, but Burberry is a different beast. “In Western markets, a lot of Burberry’s success is predicated on the fact they sell to a wide market. It may be a luxury brand, but middle market consumers will stretch their budget upwards to purchase Burberry items,” he said. Brand that sell to the middle market, such as Marks & Spencer, have had a difficult year.
Growth in China has slowed, Mr Saunders said, because: “Luxury businesses have piled into those markets so now it’s much more competitive.” In an environment where companies can no longer rely on Asian and Latin American markets for strong growth, he said Burberry needs to keenly address the customer’s need. “Luxury brands aren’t renowned for being customer centric. They don’t listen to what the customers want and instead they set the trends and tell them what to buy. Moving forward, they need to take a good look at which products are gaining traction in which markets.”
Jaana Jatyri, CEO of Trendstop.com, said Burberry had fallen foul of the fickle fashion world: “In this economic climate, people are watching what they spend no matter how affluent they are. The margin of error is so small that everything has to be perfect. Customers today aren’t loyal to one particular brand.”
Kate Calvert, an analyst at Seymour Pierce, was more positive. “There is a global slowdown for luxury brands, but the underlying signs for the market are still very good,” she said. “There’s still wealth creation in emerging markets.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:41 pm
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For the first time in history, Germany issued long term bonds with a zero percent coupon rate on Wednesday. The demand reveals the deep concerns investors have about the euro zone and their desire for a safe place to park their capital — even if it costs them money to do so.
For now at least Germany and Greece share the same currency. But don’t tell that to investors. On Wednesday the German Finance Ministry pulled off a remarkable feat for a country in a threatened currency union: It issued €4.6 billion of two year bonds with a rate of zero percent. In other words, once inflation is factored in, investors are essentially paying to park their money with the German government.
Because of the strength of its economy, Germany has emerged as a significant benefactor from the problems being experienced by Greece as well as Spain, Italy and Portugal. In Greece worries that a government uncooperative with the European Central Bank could come to power after next month’s election forcing an exit from the euro zone has investors as well as ordinary citizens pulling their money out in droves. In Spain concerns over the health of the banking sector have driven up borrowing costs.
According to German officials on Wednesday, demand for the zero percent bonds was robust and added that Germany does not intend to offer up bonds with a negative interest rate. "As such, a coupon of zero percent is the lower limit," Reuters quoted a finance official as saying.
Still, it seems likely that, with investors looking for safe havens for their money, even negative interest rate bonds might sell. "Many investors are putting their money only in places where they are guaranteed to get it back," Commerzbank analyst Alexander Aldinger told the Berliner Morgenpost. "For a large degree of security, investors are willing to give up returns."
Even while borrowing costs have spiked in other euro-zone countries, rates on shorter term German bonds have already hit zero and even ventured into negative territory, meaning investors have been paying the German government to hang on to their cash. Rates on longer-term bonds have been trading consistently below the rate of inflation.
The zero percent bond issue is just the latest sign that concern about the crisis facing Europe’s common currency is rampant. As are worries that the situation could become much worse before it gets any better.
In this season of concern, low interest rates on two-year bonds are hardly out of the ordinary as investors focus more on conserving capital than growing it. US two-year bonds offer an interest rate of 0.29 percent while the same bonds in Japan produce a 0.1 percent rate. According to the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Finance Ministry in Berlin won’t say whether future bond issues will also be at zero percent.
Yet even as investors seek safety, analysts are concerned that the low interest rates will produce a bubble. "If this isn’t a speculation bubble, then I don’t know what a speculation bubble is," Marc Oswald, research analyst at Monument Securities, told the Berlin daily Morgenpost. He expects the move to drive investors towards hard assets like real estate, gold and art. Pension funds and other institutional investors will suffer, however, as they are required to put a certain percentage of their assets into state bonds.
Oswald also says that the move is a sign that paper money has no meaning anymore. Pretty soon, he says, central banks could be forced to step back in time to the 1970′s when gold anchored paper money.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed May 23, 2012 6:09 am
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Destroy all churches in Gulf, says Saudi Grand Mufti
By Elizabeth Broomhall
Thursday, 15 March 2012 10:20 AM
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah made the comment in view of an age-old rule that only Islam can be practiced in the region.
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has said it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” following Kuwait’s moves to ban their construction.
Speaking to a delegation in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, stressed that since the tiny Gulf state was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, it was necessary to destroy all of the churches in the country, Arabic media have reported.
Saudi Arabia’s top cleric made the comment in view of an age-old rule that only Islam can be practiced in the region.
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom. He is also the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:45 am
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