SI
SI
discoversearch

 Politics | Apocalypse soon?


Previous 10 | Next 10 
To: Farmboy who wrote (2672)3/14/2012 4:39:38 PM
From: longnshort
   of 2740
 
they are filled with hate

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read | Read Replies (2)

To: longnshort who wrote (2673)3/14/2012 4:40:50 PM
From: Farmboy
1 Recommendation   of 2740
 
Completely consumed ..... mixed with a generous helping of arrogance and narcissism.

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read

To: longnshort who wrote (2673)3/25/2012 10:28:11 AM
From: joseffy
   of 2740
 
Solyndra Times Seven

Why California’s high-speed rail project is an even greater waste of federal tax dollars.

21 March 2012 by Chris Reed
city-journal.org 

The national media have devoted plenty of skeptical attention to California’s bullet-train boondoggle—from the ballooning cost of the California High-Speed Rail Authority project to its shoddy management to the baffling decision to build the first segment in the lightly populated Central Valley. But the press has yet to focus on a crucial fact: the bullet train isn’t just some quirky Left Coast fiasco; it’s also a grotesque waste of federal money. The project serves as a powerful reminder of the Obama administration’s mishandling of the $787 billion stimulus that Congress passed in February 2009 with solemn assurances of prudence and accountability. The bullet-train project, in fact, can be thought of as “Solyndra times seven”—that’s how far its costs outstrip those of the much-touted Bay Area solar panel manufacturer that burned through $528 million in federal loans before declaring bankruptcy and folding last September.

In California, the federal government is committed to spending $3.5 billion—with most of those dollars coming from the 2009 stimulus—for a project whose problems are glaring. State officials are trying to remake the bullet train on the fly, promising at a legislative hearing in Silicon Valley to implement changes that would bring down the cost and speed up construction. But none of those changes alters the fact that the bullet-train project appears clearly to violate federal regulations governing stimulus spending on transportation. The rules, published in the Federal Register on June 23, 2009, require that applications for stimulus funds to build high-speed rail projects would be approved only after “rigorous analysis,” factoring in a careful examination of the proposed project’s “financial plan (capital and operating),” “reasonableness of financial estimates,” and “quality of planning process.” Grant recipients would make regular progress reports, corroborated by Federal Railroad Administration audits. Even the most cursory analysis shows that the California bullet train falls far short of compliance with the rules.

State auditors, the University of California’s Institute for Transportation, and an ad hoc peer-review committee appointed by the legislature all lambasted the project’s financial plan as incomplete, overly ambitious, and based on unverifiable numbers. In January, the peer-review group issued its assessment: “We cannot overemphasize the fact that moving ahead on the HSR project without credible sources of adequate funding, without a definitive business model, without a strategy to maximize the independent utility and value to the state, and without the appropriate management resources, represents an immense financial risk on the part of the state of California.” The peer review followed a damning analysis published in November by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, perhaps the most respected agency in Sacramento, which concluded that rail officials had yet to address how to fund the (at least) $98-billion-system linking Los Angeles and San Francisco.

California has about $13 billion on hand to begin the first phase of the project. The rail authority and its boosters claim that the federal government and private investors will supply the remaining $85 billion. Those additional federal dollars are almost certainly not coming. Congressional budget cutters have targeted discretionary domestic spending, and the $260 billion transportation bill currently winding through Congress expressly prohibits California from diverting any highway funds for high-speed rail. Meanwhile, Wall Street isn’t enamored with the project, and private investment funds have shown zero interest in partnering with California unless they receive revenue or ridership guarantees. But guaranteeing a certain return on investment would amount to promising subsidies if the rail authority’s immense ridership forecasts don’t pan out—taxpayers would be making up the difference. And Proposition 1A—the 2008 state ballot measure providing $9.95 billion in bond money for the project—explicitly bans taxpayer-funded operating subsidies.

Rail authority executives and prominent California Democrats, including Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, and former HSRA chairman Quentin Kopp, continue to talk up the chances for substantial private investment. But the record of the last two governors, both ardent champions of the project, suggests the obstacles to such investment are larger than they first appear. Arnold Schwarzenegger explored outsourcing the construction and operation of the train to the Chinese. He failed. And in January, Brown suggested that the tens of billions of dollars that companies will pay for pollution rights in coming years under the state’s nascent cap-and-trade program could fund the project—assuming, of course, he can find a way to pry those dollars from the clutches of the California Air Resources Board, which already has plans for the uncollected funds.

The bullet train’s “reasonableness of financial estimates” is questionable, beginning with the project’s revenue forecasts. The LAO noted a projection of 44 million riders a year when the L.A.-Bay Area line is complete. That’s down from the hallucinatory claim of 117 million passengers that proponents of Prop. 1A offered in 2008, but it’s still ridiculous. In reality, 44 million passengers would be 50 percent higher than the number of people Amtrak carries to and from more than 500 stations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces each year.

How was the estimate derived? Elizabeth Alexis, a Palo Alto finance expert and co-founder of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design, delved into the methodology and discovered, among other things, that the rail authority assumed that the future cost of gasoline would top $40 a gallon. Alexis also noted that the public-opinion polls that bullet-train backers crafted to gauge potential passenger interest were heavily biased. For example, 96 percent of commuters surveyed were already train riders. But unlike commuters in other states, only a tiny percentage of Californians rides the train.

Which brings us to the last element that a “rigorous analysis” must confirm before federal funds can flow: the “quality of planning process.” More than three years after voters approved the $9.95 billion bond measure, the HSRA still hasn’t determined who will operate the train once it’s built. A contractor? An existing state agency? A private-public partnership? Nobody knows. Adding to the chaos is a lack of leadership. Until Brown purged the rail authority’s management earlier this year, bullet-train officials assumed they were doing a great job, and that their public-relations firm was to blame for the project’s sinking support.

This ugly story could soon take a welcome turn. The U.S. Government Accountability Office confirmed on March 8 that it plans to launch its own audit of the California High Speed Rail Authority. The GAO would do well to begin its inquiry with Volume 174, number 19 of the Federal Register, specifically Federal Railroad Administration Docket 2009-0045. If those federal regulations truly have the force of law, then “Solyndra times seven” must die.

Chris Reed is an editorial writer forU-T San Diego (formerly theSan Diego Union-Tribune) and proprietor of calwhine.com.

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read


To: Farmboy who wrote (2664)3/26/2012 5:34:13 PM
From: Bucky Katt
1 Recommendation   of 2740
 
A video clip from Danish tv regarding the prez and double+ speak-

weeklystandard.com 

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read | Read Replies (2)

To: Bucky Katt who wrote (2676)3/26/2012 6:17:44 PM
From: Farmboy
   of 2740
 
That's a good one isn't it?

Should be a campaign ad for someone ...

Just goes to show how well thought out our foreign policy has become since January 2009.

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read | Read Replies (1)

To: Bucky Katt who wrote (2676)3/26/2012 6:48:19 PM
From: the navigator
   of 2740
 
the prez and double+ speak

geez, on some of those clips he had all the enthusiasm of me going to the dentist, either that, or he seemed eternally bored...

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read | Read Replies (1)


To: the navigator who wrote (2678)3/26/2012 6:49:51 PM
From: joseffy
   of 2740
 
Drugged?

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read | Read Replies (1)

To: joseffy who wrote (2679)3/26/2012 9:24:32 PM
From: the navigator
   of 2740
 
Drugged?

in this world...who knows? i am convinced anything is possible.

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read | Read Replies (1)

To: Farmboy who wrote (2677)3/26/2012 11:40:51 PM
From: Bucky Katt
1 Recommendation   of 2740
 
Well, when crap like this is FDA approved, as food, for human consumption by school children, well...>


'Pink slime' maker suspends some plant operations






FILE - This undated file photo provided by Beef Products Inc., shows the company's ammonia-treated filler, known in the industry as "lean, finely textured beef," a lower-cost ingredient made from...


LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The maker of "pink slime" suspended operations Monday at all but one plant where the beef ingredient is made, acknowledging recent public uproar over the product has cost the company business.

Craig Letch, director of food quality and assurance for Beef Products Inc., declined to discuss financial details but said business has taken a "substantial" hit since social media exploded with worry over the ammonia-treated filler and an online petition seeking its ouster from schools drew hundreds of thousands of supporters. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided school districts may stop using it, and some retail chains have pulled products containing it from their shelves.

Federal regulators say the product, which has been used for years and is known in the industry as "lean, finely textured beef," meets food safety standards. But critics call the product an unappetizing example of industrialized food production.

Beef Products will suspend operations at plants in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kan.; and Waterloo, Iowa, Letch said. About 200 employees at each of the three plants will get full salary and benefits for 60 days during the suspension. The company's plant at its Dakota Dunes, S.D., headquarters will continue operations.

The company, meanwhile, will develop a strategy for rebuilding business and addressing what Letch called misconceptions about the beef the company makes.

"We feel like when people can start to understand the truth and reality then our business will come back," he said. "It's 100 percent beef."

The company last week took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal defending its product. It also launched a new website, beefisbeef.com  , which Letch says will help dispel myths about pink slime — a term coined by a federal microbiologist grossed out by it and now widely used by critics and food activists.

The lower-cost ingredient is made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product is exposed to ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.

The result is a product that is as much as 97 percent lean beef, Letch said.

"At a time when so many Americans struggle to put a healthy, nutritious meal on their family's dinner table, the unfounded mischaracterization of Lean Finely Textured Beef as 'pink slime' is unconscionable," Barry Carpenter, chief executive officer of the National Meat Association, said in a Monday statement. "I am sure the public is not aware of how widespread and potentially devastating the consequences of allowing public misperception to trump sound nutritional science are."

But Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University's Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, said there are other considerations.

"If this is acceptable to people, it essentially means it's OK to eat the kind of stuff we put into pet food," she said. "Culturally we don't eat byproducts of human food production. It's not in our culture. Other cultures do. We don't."

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has campaigned against the filler's use, praised "people power" for getting it removed from so many products.

"I hope the U.S. government is also listening because it's partly responsible for lying to the public for allowing this cheap, low-quality meat filler to be used for so long without having to legally state its presence on packaging," Oliver said in an email statement provided to The Associated Press.

The beef product made headlines last year also after McDonald's and other major chains discontinued their use of ammonia-treated beef. Other processors make similar "lean beef trimmings" for inclusion in ground beef that are instead treated by citric acid.

There are no precise numbers on how often the ammonia-treated product is used and it does not have to be labeled as an ingredient. Past estimates have ranged as high as 70 percent; one industry official has estimated it is in at least half of the ground meat and burgers in the United States.

Beef Products' plant in Amarillo produced about 200,000 pounds a day, while the Kansas and Iowa plants each produced about 350,000 pounds a day.

The USDA this year is contracted to buy 111.5 million pounds of ground beef
for the National School Lunch Program. About 7 million pounds of that is from the company.

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read | Read Replies (1)


To: Bucky Katt who wrote (2681)3/27/2012 12:07:24 AM
From: Farmboy
   of 2740
 
Yep - They were giving Reagan crap about the Catsup being a vegetable? Then they're allowing this crap?

The first thing that hit my mind was "Taco Bell" ....

LOL

Share Recommend | Keep | Reply | Mark as Last Read
Previous 10 | Next 10 

Copyright © 1995-2014 Knight Sac Media. All rights reserved.Stock quotes are delayed at least 15 minutes - See Terms of Use.