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Gender: Male
Hometown: Minnesota
Member since: Sat Jan 1, 2005, 04:45 AM
Number of posts: 8,125

Journal Archives

City Pages Shutting Down, Effectively Ending Era Of Alternative Weeklies (ad revenue way down)

City Pages, which has been an alternative news and entertainment source for the Twin Cities for more than four decades, is shutting down for good, according to a statement posted from the Star Tribune ownership.

The weekly paper, which is currently owned by the Star Tribune and has been since 2015, is shutting down immediately. The last issue will be distributed this week.

The paper began under the moniker Sweet Potato in 1979 before rechristening as City Pages two years later. It was, along with the Reader, considered the preeminent free alternative newspaper in the metro area for most of the ’80s and ’90s. The Reader was shut down in the late ’90s.

The move was made as a result of the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has had on restaurants, clubs, theaters and other venues that “form the core of City Pages’ revenue.”

Coronavirus: Germany announces second lockdown for month of November

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

Europe's largest economy is going back into partial lockdown for the entire month of November in an attempt to get control of its spiralling coronavirus infections.


She [Angela Merkel] said that the amount of people in intensive care with COVID-19 had doubled in the past 10 days -- and the health system would be at its limit within weeks if infections were not brought under control.

New restrictions include shutting down restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, theatres, and other public and leisure spaces.

Only two households are allowed meet, up to a maximum of 10 people, and only outdoors. Travel within Germany on non-essential trips is also forbidden, including to visit relatives.

Read more: https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/germany-announces-second-lockdown-for-the-month-of-november-171217232.html

Shops, schools and kindergartens will remain open, and old people in nursing homes can have visitors.


For some perspective:

Daily new cases, 7 day moving average, per 100,000 people

12   Germany
22   U.S.A.
31   Italy
33   U.K.
39   Spain
57   France
117 Belgium

The STOXX Europe 600 closed at its lowest level since May

Radicalism in New Hope, MN - someone holding a sign - "Veterans, you are not losers or suckers ...

42nd Ave. N. just east of Winnetka Ave., New Hope.

Around 420 pm Wednesday 10/21/20

Yes, that's snow on the ground, for you out-of-staters

Unfortunately I cut off the "Vote Vote" orange mini-placard at the top left.

Coincidentally I'm a veteran and had voted just 4 hours before spotting him and taking the photo. I wish I had told him that, but it didn't come to mind until later.

Just a quick update on Covid in Minnesota



But WTH, with people feeling down about the bad news, let's ease up on restrictions

Live Music Now Allowed Inside Minnesota Bars And Restaurants, But No Dancing, CBS, 10/8/20

Live music will now be allowed inside Minnesota bars and restaurants large enough to accommodate social distancing, but dancing and karaoke will still be off the table.

That’s according to updated guidelines released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Health, which also boosted the occupancy for bars and restaurants and laid out more COVID-19 safety protocols.

... Expect to see tables on the dance floor. Dancing won’t be allowed if the establishment is still serving food or drinks. Additionally, the guidelines say all indoor guests must be seated.

Still, music-lovers will be able to see more people inside venues, as the new guidelines boosted indoor occupancy to 50%, with a maximum of 250 individuals. Maximum outdoor seating was also increased to 250 people.

At bars, tables will be able to accommodate parties up to four people. In dining rooms, parties as big as 10 will be able to be seated together. ((previously the limit was 6 at a table if from the same household, otherwise 4 at a table -Progree))

More: https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2020/10/08/live-music-now-allowed-inside-minnesota-bars-and-restaurants-but-no-dancing/

Survey: 52% of local restaurants, bars will close in 4-6 months if restrictions aren't eased, KSTP (ABC), 10/9/20

Looks like a matter of survival of bars and restaurants vs. survival of people, and people come in second.

Florida man who tried to get ballot for dead wife charged

Source: AP

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Florida authorities say they've filed a voter fraud charge against a man who said he said he "wanted to test the system" when he tried to obtain a mail-in ballot for his deceased wife.

Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett said he contacted the sheriff's office after a review of voter rolls showed that Larry Wiggins' wife had been dead for two years. Staffers determined that Wiggins forged his late wife's name on the ballot request, according to the Bradenton Herald.

Wiggins, who was arrested last Thursday on a voter fraud charge, told deputies that he was "testing the system to see if worked."

Bennett said such attempts are unusual in Manatee County. Researchers say that voter fraud in general is rare in the U.S.

Read more: https://news.yahoo.com/florida-man-tried-ballot-dead-143948761.html

Emphasis added by Progree. Bennett made clear that any attempt at voter fraud will be prosecuted.

The back story, where he appears to be encouraging people in North Carolina to vote twice -- once by mail and once in person --

Trump appears to encourage North Carolinians to vote twice to test the system, CNN 9/3/20

When Trump was asked by local news station WECT in Wilmington, North Carolina, whether he was confident in the state's absentee voting system, the President launched into a somewhat rambling answer.

"Well, they'll go out and they'll go vote, and they're going to have to go and check their vote by going to the poll and voting that way, because if it tabulates, then they won't be able to do that," Trump said on the tarmac in front of Air Force One. "So, let them send it in, and let them go vote, and if the system is as good as they say it is, then obviously they won't be able to vote. If it isn't tabulated, they won't be able to vote. So that's the way it is. And that's what they should do."

The President later told people to send in their ballots, saying, "Send them in strong, whether it's solicited or unsolicited. The absentees are fine. You have to work to get them, you know."

"And you send them in, but you go to vote. And if they haven't counted it, you can vote. So that's the way I feel," he said.

More: https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/02/politics/donald-trump-north-carolina-voter-fraud/index.html

So the fuckwad-in-chief is not only infecting people, he's getting them in trouble.

According to North Carolina law, it's a felony "for any person with intent to commit a fraud to register or vote at more than one precinct or more than one time, or to induce another to do so, in the same primary or election, or to vote illegally at any primary or election."

Total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending Sept 5 was 26.0 M

More than 824,000 Americans file for unemployment as economy slowly rebounds, Charisse Jones, USA TODAY

blah blah 824,542 blah blah

USA TODAY is now using non-seasonally adjusted jobless claims numbers because the Labor Department has switched to a different method to adjust the data based on seasonal factors, such as school workers losing jobs in June. The old method resulted in adjustments that dramatically inflated the number of claims filed during the global health crisis.

More: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/09/24/unemployment-claims-824-542-file-jobless-benefits-amid-covid-19/3505241001/


From the source, 830 am ET 9/24/20

In the week ending September 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 870,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 6,000 from 860,000 to 866,000. The 4-week moving average was 878,250, a decrease of 35,250 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 1,500 from 912,000 to 913,500.

... The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending September 12 was 12,580,000, a decrease of 167,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 119,000 from 12,628,000 to 12,747,000. The 4-week moving average was 13,040,750, a decrease of 478,000 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 29,750 from 13,489,000 to 13,518,750.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 824,542 in the week ending September 19, an increase of 28,527 (or 3.6 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 23,891 (or 3.0 percent) from the previous week. There were 175,394 initial claims in the comparable week in 2019. In addition, for the week ending September 19, 52 states reported 630,080 initial claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending September 5 was 26,044,952, a decrease of 3,723,513 from the previous week. There were 1,488,601 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2019. [Unfortunately there's a 2 1/2 week lag in this statistic. The week ending Sept 5 is the latest there is for this -Progree]

Covid era Restaurant closures in Minnesota - map, list


(they apparently keep an up-to-date running tally)

Longtime climate science denier hired at NOAA (David Legates)

David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology who has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science, has been hired for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Legates confirmed to NPR that he was recently hired as NOAA's deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction. The position suggests that he reports directly to Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the agency that is in charge of the federal government's sprawling weather and climate prediction work.


In 2007, Legates was one of the authors of a paper that questioned previous findings about the role of climate change in destroying the habitat of polar bears. That research was partially funded by grants from Koch Industries, the lobbying group the American Petroleum Institute and ExxonMobil, according to InsideClimate News.


Legates also appeared in a video pushing the discredited theory that the sun is the cause of global warming. In testimony before the U.S. Senate in 2014, Legates argued that a climate science report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change erroneously stated that humans are causing global warming.


Michael Mann: "At a time when those impacts are playing out before our very eyes in the form of unprecedented wildfires out West and super-storms back East, I cannot imagine a more misguided decision than to appoint someone like Legates to a position of leadership at an agency that is tasked with assessing the risks we face from extreme weather events."

Read more (NPR): https://www.mprnews.org/story/2020/09/12/npr-longtime-climate-science-denier-hired-at-noaa

Yes, he's funded by fossil fuel interests and affiliated with the Heartland Institute, a leading climate denial think tank.

Amazon Drivers Are Hanging Smartphones in Trees To Get More Work in desperate economy

Amazon Drivers Are Hanging Smartphones in Trees to Get More Work, Bloomberg 9/1/20

A strange phenomenon has emerged near Amazon.com Inc. delivery stations and Whole Foods stores in the Chicago suburbs: smartphones dangling from trees. Contract delivery drivers are putting them there to get a jump on rivals seeking orders, according to people familiar with the matter.

Someone places several devices in a tree located close to the station where deliveries originate. Drivers in on the plot then sync their own phones with the ones in the tree and wait nearby for an order pickup. The reason for the odd placement, according to experts and people with direct knowledge of Amazon’s operations, is to take advantage of the handsets’ proximity to the station, combined with software that constantly monitors Amazon’s dispatch network, to get a split-second jump on competing drivers.

That drivers resort to such extreme methods is emblematic of the ferocious competition for work in a pandemic-ravaged U.S. economy suffering from double-digit unemployment. Much the way milliseconds can mean millions to hedge funds using robotraders, a smartphone perched in a tree can be the key to getting a $15 delivery route before someone else.

... An Uber-like app called Amazon Flex lets drivers make deliveries in their own cars. For many with other jobs, it’s a way to earn extra money in their spare time. But with joblessness rising and unemployment payments shrinking, competition for such work has stiffened, and more people rely on it as their primary income source. Adding to the pressure, fewer people are using ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, so more drivers have to deliver online shopping orders to make money. As a result, some Whole Foods locations have come to resemble parking lots at Home Depot Inc., where day laborers have long congregated to pick up home repair gigs.

More: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/amazon-drivers-hanging-smartphones-trees-125150039.html

Bloomberg reported similar use of apps by Instacart shoppers earlier this month.

What’s happening at Whole Foods in the Chicago ... When drivers see an Instant Offer, they have only a few minutes to accept the delivery or lose it to someone else. ... a phone in a tree outside Whole Foods’ door would get the delivery offer even before drivers sitting in their cars just a block away ((Whole Foods and Amazon Flex send their route offers to the nearest phones first)) . ... The phones in trees seem to serve as master devices that dispatch routes to multiple nearby drivers in on the plot

One reason Flex contractors do this is to get around the requirements for being a driver, such as having a valid license or being authorized to work in the U.S., ... explained in the article: someone meeting the work requirements subhires the one who doesn't meet requirements to actually do the driving at a lesser rate, keeping the difference.

Warren Buffett's favorite stock market indicator reaches internet bubble extreme

Warren Buffett's favorite stock market indicator reaches internet bubble extreme , Yahoo Finance, 8/20/20

The ‘Buffett Indicator’ as it’s called in Wall Street circles — which takes the Wilshire 5000 Index (viewed as the total stock market) and divides it by the annual U.S. GDP — is at its highest level since before the internet bubble crash in 2000. Currently, the ratio of 1.7 is some 70% above its historical average of one.

Back before the internet stock crash, Current Market Valuation points out the ratio stood at 1.71 — or the market being 71% overvalued.

“Normally, this ratio is around 1, meaning that total market cap of all U.S. stocks generally equals annual U.S. GDP. When stocks are considered to be fundamentally overvalued, the ratio increases to 1.3 (so total stock market capitalization is 30% larger than U.S. GDP),” explains Sevens Report Research founder Tom Essaye.

More: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/warren-buffetts-favorite-stock-market-indicator-reaches-internet-bubble-extreme-165447233.html

In short, currently it's virtually at the same level, 1.70, as it was before the dot com crash, 1.71

I've never been a big fan of valuation measures of the market since all the well-known ones, including the Buffett indicator, ignore the interest rates that one can earn on fixed income investments like bonds, which compete with stocks. Interest rates today are lower now (and that was true too pre-Covid) than they were back in 2000 and 2007 before the big crashes. People naturally gravitate towards stocks more than they did in the past, unwilling to settle for 2% on bonds.

However, the valuation metrics are getting rather extreme, and I can't just blow them off forever. Particularly since the low interest rates are deliberately artificial -- by the Fed reducing the Fed Funds rate to zero, and by buying massive quantities of both Treasury bonds and corporate bonds to push their prices up (and thus their yields down).
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