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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: City of Angels
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 6,942

Journal Archives

GOP introduces plan to massively cut Social Security

Source: Yahoo Finance

On Thursday, Rep. Sam Johnson, a Republican from Texas and chair of the Ways and Means Committee, introduced legislation to significantly cut Social Security.

The bill introduced by Johnson, who is also the chair of the Social Security subcommittee, slashes benefits, adds means testing, and would raise the retirement age from 67 to 69.

For most workers, the bill would cut Social Security benefits substantially. As Michael Linden, associate director for tax and budget policy at Center for American Progress, pointed out on Twitter, a letter from Social Security’s Office of the Actuary calculated workers making around $50,000 would see checks shrink by between 11% and 35%.

Nearly every income bracket would see a reduction, save for the very bottom. People making around $12,280 in 2016 who have worked for 30 years would see an increase of around 20%. But young people making the same amount would be hit hard by the changes. If they had 14 years of work experience by 2016, they would see their benefits cut in half.

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/gop-introduces-plan-to-massively-cut-social-security-222200857.html

United Airlines will begin charging to use overhead bins in 2017

Gone are the days of the free sandwiches, the complimentary pillows, the headphones that didn’t cost $5. The in-flight comforts that were once a given are now nothing more than a nostalgic reminder of decades past.

Out went the free checked bag, in came the fees for those few extra inches of leg room. Want to make sure you sit next to your children on a flight? On some airlines, there’s a fee for that.

Now, on United Airlines, you won’t necessarily get the use of an overhead bin, without paying more money.

The overhead bin: “one of the last sacred conveniences of air travel,” as an angry Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., put it Sunday as he denounced the move.

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/12/06/united-airlines-charging-to-use-overhead-bins/

Venezuela's PDVSA seeks compensation in 'staggering' U.S. bribe case

A unit of Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA has asked a U.S. court to order two businessmen to compensate it for carrying out a "staggering" bribery scheme that cost the company $600 million in losses.

A motion filed last Wednesday in federal court in Houston marked the first time PDVSA had formally intervened in the case, part of a U.S. Justice Department investigation into bribery of company officials.

PDVSA subsidiary Bariven SA complained in court papers that prosecutors had ignored their statutory obligation to inform Bariven of its rights as a victim of a scheme by Venezuelan businessmen Roberto Rincon and Abraham Shiera.

Bariven sought restitution from Rincon and Shiera, who have pleaded guilty to charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/venezuelas-pdvsa-seeks-compensation-staggering-u-bribe-case-163908371--finance.html

This should get interesting.

Security raised at L.A. rail line after threat warning from foreign country

Source: Reuters

Federal and Los Angeles officials said on Monday they had been alerted by authorities in another country to a "specific" threat against the city's Red Line commuter rail system, prompting them to beef up security and alert the public.

"This threat is imminent, ... it is very specific," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told an evening news conference. "But the credibility still needs to be vetted."

Law enforcement officials at the news conference said the threat had been relayed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by a law enforcement agency in another country, where the threat had originated. Officials did not identify the country.

The male caller, speaking in English, had warned authorities in that country of an attack against a Red Line station across the street from the Universal Studios theme park on Tuesday, Beck said.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-losangeles-threat-idUSKBN13V04I

The monetary meltdown in Venezuela

Venezuela has run out of cash. Not metaphorically, mind you: The country literally doesn’t have enough cash to go around.

Two weeks ago, facing an acute shortage of paper money, bank regulators capped cash withdrawals at 10,000 Venezuelan bolivars per day — about $5.25.

As I write this, following an almighty rout on the black market, those same 10,000 bolivars are worth less than half that much: $2.17. (By the time you read this, the real number’s likely lower.)

Stop and think about that: How on earth can a country work when the most cash anyone there is allowed to withdraw from their bank account in a day is two bucks and change?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/the-monetary-meltdown-in-venezuela/2016/12/02/094daa50-b80e-11e6-a677-b608fbb3aaf6_story.html

Want Groceries in Venezuela? First Stop at Six ATMs

Domingris Montano did the calculations as she stood in the rain at the midpoint of a queue outside a bank in Caracas. She needed to buy groceries. A package of rice would cost 3,500 bolivars, more than half the daily withdrawal limit, and the automated teller machine might be empty by the time her turn came. Maybe she could hit a few more before dark?

“I’ve had to go to six different ATMs just to get 6,000 bolivars,” said Montano, a 36-year-old hair stylist, poking her head out from under her umbrella to see if the people ahead of her at the Banesco Banco Universal CA branch were moving forward. They weren’t.

Lines are nothing new in Venezuela, where the economy is shattered, inflation is soaring and the currency fell a staggering 67 percent against the U.S. dollar on the black market last month alone -- making 6,000 bolivars worth just $1.30. Now added to the indignities of daily life in a country desperately short on most everything except crime is the ATM hustle, as banks crack down on what customers can take out, setting measly maximums.

Resourceful residents employ a variety of tactics, including the multiple debit-card ploy: If you somehow wrangle more than one, you can go to town at the dispenser, to the horror of those behind you. Banks have set it up so people have to retrieve their money in as many as seven transactions -- maybe the hope is they’ll get tired and give up -- and everyone who can see what’s going on at the window counts. At seven, there’s a sigh of relief that deliverance is a step closer. If a second card appears and the whole process starts over, there’s swearing under the breath and praying the guy doesn’t pull out a third.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/want-groceries-venezuela-first-stop-100000773.html

Venezuela rejects Mercosur suspension: foreign minister

Venezuela on Friday angrily rejected its suspension from the South American economic bloc Mercosur, saying it did not recognize the action taken by the group's four other member states.

Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay had informed the leftist government in Caracas that it was being suspended for failing to meet democratic and trade standards, a Brazilian government source said Thursday.

"Venezuela does not recognize this null and void action sustained by the Law of the Jungle of some officials who are destroying MERCOSUR," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said on her Twitter account.

Although Venezuela joined Mercosur in 2012, the other members complain it has yet to ratify a number of rules governing trade, politics, democracy and human rights.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/venezuela-rejects-mercosur-suspension-113933357.html

The worst-case scenario for the economy under Trump just happened in another country

It is hard to compare Donald Trump to anyone else in American politics, especially when it comes to the economy. The president-elect plans to combine restrictions on goods imported from abroad, which are usually advocated by liberal politicians, with conventionally Republican policies, such as tax relief for the wealthy and major corporations, along with more federal borrowing.

More than any U.S. politician's platform, Trump's agenda on the economy resembles those of populist leaders abroad. In particular, the policies he has proposed are very similar to those of Dilma Rousseff, the former president of Brazil who was ousted from office in August.

As Trump has planned to do, Rousseff enforced restrictions on imports. She promised new spending on infrastructure and granted generous subsidies to corporations with the goal of stimulating the economy, especially manufacturing.

“It’s a very similar program,” said Riordan Roett, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University and an expert on Latin America.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/21/the-worst-case-scenario-for-the-economy-under-donald-trump

In intimate ally Venezuela, tears and cheers over Castro's death

Venezuela's ruling socialists mourned former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, while opposition hard-liners exulted over the death of a man they called a dictator who helped wreck their economy and whose country for years had an easy ride with subsidized oil.

The two leftist Latin American governments became intimate allies under Castro and his younger disciple, the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, a relationship buttressed by generous oil shipments from the OPEC country to the Communist-run island in return for thousands of Cuban doctors, teachers, sports trainers and security advisers.

But that economic lifeline to Cuba ebbed in recent years as Venezuela, in the throes of a brutal economic crisis that has seen millions skipping meals, has cut back on the subsidized crude.

Venezuela used to send Cuba some 100,000 barrels of oil per day, but data seen by Reuters showed a 40 percent decline in crude shipments in the first half of the year compared with 2015 and that could fall further amid a production slump.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/intimate-ally-venezuela-tears-cheers-over-castros-death-171646998.html

Trump seems ready to fight the world on climate change, and it could cost the U.S.

Donald Trump is branded with all manner of unflattering labels, but one that hasn’t seemed to much bother him is “climate pariah.”

The president-elect is unabashed in his disdain for America’s global warming policy. He has placed a staunch climate-change doubter and antagonist of mainstream science in charge of reshaping — or as Trump has suggested, dismantling — the Environmental Protection Agency. He has talked frequently about reneging on the historic Paris global climate treaty the U.S. took a lead in drafting. And he has said he wants every federal green-energy program eliminated.

Environmentalists take little comfort in Trump’s recent comments that he accepts “there is some connectivity” between human activity and climate change and that he has an open mind about it, as what he’s said elsewhere and done so far suggests otherwise.

And even those comments gave scientists cause for alarm. “You can make a lot of cases for different views,” Trump told the New York Times, casting doubt on the finding by more than 90% of climate scientists that emissions are accelerating global warming. “I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know.”

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-climate-20161127-story.html
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