Thursday, January 29, 2009
300 more Starbucks Stores on Chopping Blockworks, Starbucks continues its long fall from the heights of atmospheric retailing and brand marketing. Starbucks announced that they will close an additional 300 stores. The company did not release the Starbucks store closure list, according to BizJournals.com. This news comes right on the heels of an earlier announcement in July 2008 of 600 store closings, resulting in the elimination of a further 6700 jobs from the downtrodden service sector. Accourding to The Wall Street Journal, Starbucks posted a 69% drop in quarterly profits prior to the announcement.
In a world that is feeling the real world crunch of the economic downturn, the ubiquitous Starbucks on every corner are slowly being replaced by short term loan offices and check cashing stores. It's the little indulgences that consumers are willing to sacrifice first, so it's no surprise that the three or four dollar coffee gets replaced by homebrew or grab and go gas station mud pretty quick.
They say that you don't miss something until it's gone. That's certainly the case with extra money, hence the decline of Starbucks, but perhaps the cliché will hold true for the franchise itself as well. What Starbucks is selling isn't so much the coffee as the entire brand emersion experience that is a Starbucks café. Walking into a Starbucks, a consumer is greeted not only by the hip, liberal art undergrad baristas, but tasteful music, high quality wood floors and furniture, soulful interior design, and a coffee house full of people who appear to be as intelligent, progressive, and on-the-go as the consumer envisions himself to be.
This is all orchestrated by corporate brand marketers to recreate the look and feel of an authentic Starbucks Store Closing List Not Released, but 300 Stores on Chopping Blockcoffee house, but, in the case of Starbucks, the imitation replica is so close an approximation of the real thing that there is no telling them apart. Whereas modernists may have hammered out their ideas amongst colleagues in a real coffee house, its quintessentially post-modern that these corporate replica coffeehouses are so close to the original that only the snootiest consumer can tell the difference.
Sadly, the vanishing Starbucks do not leave a line of authentic coffee houses in their wake. Now that coffee has gone all ubercorporate, it appears that it is there to stay. The cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, and more are being gushed into the new economy via fast food franchises now. The day that an espresso lover sips his brew alongside a life-sized plastic replica of Ronald McDonald is a day that a gourmand will not soon forget.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
During these contemporary times and through the increase in public awareness of global warming, one can determine that through information such as An Inconvenient Truth and newspaper articles society shows an increased need to protect the environment and reduce the amounts of greenhouse gasses in th
e environment. The increased awareness can be seen in the polls as well; the topic of interest for all politicians is global warming.
The priority within national, United States Politics, is that of global warming. The candidates from both parties know that with the upcoming election in 2008 there will need to be plans to outline and help ease some of the energy usage by Americans. American is the number one producer of green house gases; slowly people are seeing the importance on a reduction of these gases. The public, however, is reflecting traditional party views. The democrats are more in favor of change than the republicans. Former President Al Gore, while doing a show on public radio, announced that the primary issue come November 2008 will be global warming, and the next administration must be greener than any other (Agence France-Presse).
What exactly is climate change and global warming? During the past 100 years the earth has raised one-degree. Within the science community there is some disagreement as the whether or not the change is caused by humans, accelerated by humans, or if this is simply a natural cycle of the earth. The school of thought is the greenhouse effect. Emissions and other gases rise to the higher atmosphere, these gases are known as greenhouse gases, which then hold in energy. This energy then makes the earth warmer. The increased temperature contributes to climate change, which is the long term weather patterns and temperatures of the earth (Climate Change).
It is important to remember that the greenhouse effect is not a bad thing. The effect is used to keep the earth warm enough to survive and sustain life. The main problem is the rapid acceleration of the greenhouse effect through the increased amounts of the greenhouse gases. Global warming must b
e a significant change in temperature in a short period of geologic time (Grabinowski).
There have been many observations made about the current climate situation, from 1906 to 2006 and they include (Grabinowski):
• Of the last 12 years, 11 have ranked among the warmest years since 1850.
• The ocean's temperature has increased at lest to depths of 3,000 meters; the ocean absorbs more than 80 percent of all head added to the climate system.
• Westerly winds are growing stronger.
• Droughts are more intense, have lasted longer and covered larger areas than in the past.
• There have been changes in extreme temperatures - hot days and heat waves have become more frequent, yet cool days and nights have become less frequent.
• In increase in Atlantic tropical storm intensity directly correlating to the ocean's surface temperature.
Why is global warming such a big problem, and why is more not being done? People fear things when the scientific community speaks. The motives for not going green are purely economic. The fear of a loss of jobs since there would not be as much of a need. The other thing is that there would be less revenue for the government and large industry, seeing as how gasoline has become just like the cash crops were during colonial times. Global warming cannot be stopped, yet we can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Grabianowski).
How can you make a difference within the global community to help stop global warming? The main thing that people can do is to reduce the overall emissions within the global, national, and local comm unities. People are able to commute in groups, car pools. Car pools can take four cars off the road. If you pick up three people in a car pool you take those three cars off the road. Less cars means less congestion, less congestion means less traffic, and less traffic means less time idling and still releasing emissions. We are also able to help by recycling and reducing the amount of landfill pollutants. If items are recycled they are reused and not turned into waste, which produces greenhouse gases we protect the atmosphere even more. Even simple things like turning the lights out will help reduce overall admissions by ensuring there is less power being produced, and less gases from the factory being pumped into the air. Everyone is capable of solving global warming, thorough simple behavior changes and simple conservation ("We Can Make A Difference!").
In reality the solution is not to stop global warming, it is to get the natural system back in balance. We as a society must maintain the global scale, which is balanced. The greenhouse gases are necessary, and produced naturally, in order to keep the earth at a proper temperature. Ultimately, we can make minor changes. These changes help to influence the global politics. Though there is a minor threat to the economy, we must take into consideration the future of the humanity. Temperature changes can cause drastic changes and wipe out human existence, the goal is to protect us. Some people may lose their jobs, yet in the end the green market will open up for new jobs.
Agence France-Presse. "Global Warming Heats up White House Race." Seed 31 May 2007
"Climate Change: What it is..." United States Environmental Protection Agency. 23 Oct. 2006. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 31 May 2007.
Grabianowski, Ed, and Jonathan Strickland. "How Global Warming Works." How Stuff Works. How Stuff Works. 31 May 2007.
"We Can Make a Difference!" United States Environmental Protection Agency. 23 Oct. 2006. United States Environmental Protection Agency. 31 May 2007.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Farewell Mr Bush and apologies for our new President's insensitivity and lack of tact. I'm a left wing liberal Democrat but I winced at some of his lines directed your way. Oh no, I can hear my former colleagues and friends utter, she's gone soft in her old age. No, I haven't, honestly. I just think there is a time and place for strong criticism and it isn't in front of someone's proud family when that someone has a foot out the door anyway.
Not since FDR, according to David Sanger of the New York Times, has an incoming President so directly criticized his predecessor in an inaugural address. There is a precedent for grace under these circumstances. President Obama did display grace by escorting the former President and his wife to the helicopter, and he did thank him for his service. I actually didn't mind some of the harshest lines like, "restore science to its rightful place." Even the bit about "our collective failure to make hard choices" I felt was as much a criticism of our legislators as our former President and perhaps had a place in the speech. But I was embarrassed by the "ready to lead once more" remark as well as a certain negative tone.
Do I think George W. Bush was a great president? Am I prepared to defend his decisions while in office and carry on about his well noted graciousness upon leaving. Not at all. However, call me old fashioned but I do think there is a respect for the office that should be observed during historical moments like inaugurations. Besides which, I think it distracted from an otherwise careful speech and message of hope.
Unfortunately, these will be the phrases people remember, along with "false the choice between our safety and our ideals." I was disappointed in our new President who has a well deserved reputation of a master of words. I wanted to hear a strong message of change and hope. Something that would ring in our collected minds and hold him to a promise. I think the President's actions on his first day in office were enough to say loudly and clearly that his administration was rejecting decisions made by the former administration, without having to resort to harsh rhetoric. I'm proud of his decisions to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and to halt the practice of torturing prisoners. Those decisions and the flurry of other orders he made in the first day or two are the reason I and so many voted for him. As it turns out the candidate who many criticized as being all speech and no substance, were wrong.
Caroline Kennedy appears with her cousin Maria Shriver in our loop on Clan Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy, who stunningly quit her push for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, is dealing with a "tax problem and a potential nanny issue," a source close to Gov. Caroline Kennedy's brief political career ended Wednesday night as abruptly as it began after she withdrew her bid to replace Sen. Caroline Kennedy met in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Sunday with a group of key black lawmakers who came away "impressed" with the U. Caroline Kennedy had her much-anticipated formal interview with Gov. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg waits for the start of the third presidential debate in the David S. Caroline Kennedy's decision to remove herself from consideration to fill New York's vacant U. Caroline Kennedy's children also played in the playhouse when they were youngsters. Caroline Kennedy serves as the vice chair of the Fund for Public Schools, as the president of the John F. Caroline KennedyA new poll out of New York shows that a majority now hopes Gov.
Kennedy graduated from Radcliffe College and worked at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she met her future husband, exhibit designer Edwin Schlossberg. Kennedy's professional life h as spanned law and politics as well as education and charitable work. Kennedy was born in New York City and is named after her maternal aunt Caroline Lee Radziwill and a maternal great-grandmother. Kennedy in a widely publicized ceremony in Newport News, Virginia. Kennedy's matron of honor was her cousin Maria Shriver. Kennedy is an attorney, writer, and editor and serves on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations. Kennedy and other members of her family created the Profile in Courage Award in 1989. Kennedy has represented her family at the funeral services of former presidents Ronald Reagan in 2004 and Gerald Ford in 2007, and at the funeral service of former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in 2007. Kennedy addressed the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, introducing a tribute film about her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy. Kennedy from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968, when he was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kennedy's own description of her reasons for withdrawing. Kennedy has stated that she believes that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital city of Israel. Kennedy said backing Obama was about "the future of our party, and it's the future of our country. Kennedy had announced that she is pursuing Hillary Clinton's U. Kennedy registered to vote in New York in 1988. Kennedy Library Foundation, and is a member of the John F. Kennedy does, of course, lend class and pedigree to the committee.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
You ask yourself this question and maybe, just maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Just passing on some thoughts heard around the water cooler. If you or a friend is facing foreclosure, you no doubt can find in the foreclosure action a petition from the plaintiffs (lender) attorney asking the court to "accept a lost note or document affidavit". Now this statement in itself shouldn't cause any dynamite to blow up but if you look into the actual reason for this simple little petition, you will be amazed at what might be happening right before your eyes, in front of the Judge and the entire world.
You see, almost ninety-nine percent (99%) of the average citizens do not have a clue about how the real money is made in the mortgage business. In fact, I would venture to say that over seventy-five percent (75%) of today's mortgage brokers don't have a clue about how money is made in the mortgage business.
You will see ads in all of the mortgage magazines "looking for sharp loan officers" commissions up to one hundred percent (100%). Now, think about this just for a minute. IF a mortgage company was going to pay out one hundred percent (100%) commissions, how do they make any money? Confused? Join the crowd. Here is how they make their money and I mean really, really big money.
Let's just say that ABC Mortgage Company has ten loan officers and each one creates two (2) mortgages a month. ABC now has twenty mortgages at an average of two-hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) on the table and they have paid out ALL of the commissions earned from the lenders to the loan officers. DUMB? Nah, just read further on. For many years international investors would buy US Mortgage Notes because they were looked at as one of the most secured investments in the entire world. So, these groups of which might be Honda, Yamaha, Toyota and other financial giants would diversify their investment portfolios with secured US Mortgage Notes. For the mortgage company like ABC that had twenty loans a month and you thought they were not making any money, look at what happens.
The secondary market buys those twenty mortgage notes from the mortgage company at the closing or soon thereafter. They pay the mortgage company a commission of two-percent (2%) which is called a service release premium. That term is NOT known on the streets but it DOES EXIST in the industry. So, on a commission of two-percent (2%) and a loan portfolio of four-million dollars ($ 4,000,000) ABC Mortgage Company gets a monthly check from the buyer of those mortgage notes to the tune of eighty-thousand dollars.($80,000) for that month. This is how mortgage companies can pay out one-hundred percent (100%) commissions and make tons of money.So, along comes the attorney for the mortgage company and he is suing you in court to foreclose on your home. When he petitions the court to accept the lost note affidavit, he is not really telling the truth. The question arises. How could you lose a note that you did not have possession of? Do you think for one "cotton pickin" minute that Honda or Toyota would pay commissions and buy those notes without getting the original notes. That is the only paper that is negotiable.
So, if you didn't have possession, because you collateralized the note, which simply means that you used the value of the note to acquire an equal amount of cash and gave possession of the note to the party that put up the cash. Plain and simple. So, where is the rub? Well, is it possible that the lender through its attorney is possibly committing fraud on the court by stating that "the original note is lost" when in fact it cannot be lost, IF the mortgage company sold it.This makes for a very interesting conversation between folks in the mortgage industry, attorneys representing both the homeowner and those representing the lenders. I would love to see a ruling on this up to the highest level. After all, without proof of the debt, there is no debt.There is a lot of case law where it has been determined that the only proof of debt is the original document or a certified copy thereof. How can anyone produce a certified copy when none exists. In closing, I don't know where this thought is going to lead to or end up, but I was just totally amazed when the conversation of which it was from experts in the mortgage industry started talking about mortgage notes, deeds and collateralization. Today's average person would let this go right over their heads and not know the difference
Friday, January 16, 2009
We believe stem cell stocks will get a huge amount of attention in 2009 and become some of the hot stocks of 2009. Stem cell stocks are companies that research and develop stem cells or enable the use of stem cells by doctors and hospitals. Several stem cell stocks are penny stocks that could move up several times their current value.
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that give rise to a specific specialized cell. Stem cells can revolutionize the field of regenerative/reparative medicine. Stem cells are extremely powerful and can dramatically change how we treat various diseases.
There are two kinds of stem cells from animals and humans (embryonic and adult stem cells). Embryonic stem cell research has been a hot topic. A research funding and support bill that came out of Congress under the current Presidency was vetoed.
Right now, it’s a mixed bag, we are starting to see some stem cell stocks move and others still in a downtrend, but we believe this is just the beginning of a turn around for small cap stocks in the stem cell industry. Stem cell stocks have been severely hampered by policy and lack of funding and support over the past several years.
But... we believe stem cell stocks will breakout and become some of the most popular stocks and best stocks on Wall Street. We believe stem cell stocks are good stocks at this time. Stem cell companies are looking for policy that funds and supports their research and development of stem cells.
We believe stem cell companies will get that support by way of the 2008 Presidential elections. This is not a foregone conclusion that the White House will be pro-stem cells after this year’s general elections; however, both Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain are pro-stem cells.
Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic Presidential nominee, has released a statement of support for stem cell research on his Senate page. Senator Barack Obama believes we should expand and accelerate research using embryonic stem cells, just as we should continue to explore the viability of adult stem cell use and cord blood use.
The Republican Presidential nominee is Senator John McCain. Senator McCain has long supported embryonic stem cell research on embryos that would otherwise be discarded during assisted reproduction, but has been receiving pressure from the Republican base to drop support for embryonic stem cell research.
Investors are still just starting to price this future potential into stem cell stocks. Analysts and investment managers in hedge funds and mutual funds could start loading up on stem cell stocks across the board.
It is important to do stock research on topics like stem cells. Investors can find stem cell stock picks, stock lists and an investment newsletter / stock trading newsletter at GusherStocks.com.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The national deficit is the largest it has ever been. According to the U.S. National Debt Clock the deficit at the time this article is being written is $10,635,772,096,222.74. Yes, that is Trillion, not Billion, and not Milli on.
We have all seen the Wall Street bailout splashed all over the news. After receiving funds from the bailout, AIG was busted spending hundreds of thousands on a luxury retreat. Later, they were given even more money from the bailout fund.
The carmakers flew in to meet with Congress in big private, luxury jets. I wonder if they have ever heard of eBay. Sell those big tankers that guzzle up thousands of dollars in fuel alone and bail yourself out. The carmakers were eventually awarded some bailout money and just weeks later GM's financial counterpart GMAC would receive a bailout as well. Along with another few million for GM. But, heck, we are only in the trillions; we can afford it.
We all know the controversy over the rights and wrongs of these bailouts and loans. What about the grants, the loans, and the bailouts on the local level? The retailers and entities in Pennsylvania that California may have never heard of. The chain stores throughout one coast, which the other coast would never see the logo for.
Here in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania we have seen our fair share of retailers and businesses sprout up and then disappear. Just some of the previous retailers we housed were Ames, Hills, Acme, A&P, and Kings. We watched Kmart file for bankruptcy numerous times, each time changing their name and continuing to do business. We have had empty spaces in our malls for years. Last year Steve & Barry's occupied one of those spaces, just before Christmas last year they announced they are closing their doors.
Recently Boscov's announced it was closing the store they hold here in Schuylkill County. I don't really care. I haven't shopped there in years. I can't afford it. Now the county is joining five other counties in an attempt to funnel federal funds to save Boscov's.
The entity claims to need $35 million, yes I said million, to stay afloat in the area. Going along with the carmaker bailout justifications, the officials are saying it is more important to save the 155 jobs that would disappear if Boscov's closes its doors.
Now, I am not that cold hearted, I do feel for those that may lose their jobs. But we need to be realistic here. Being more than conservative for the area, we will assume that the employees of the store located here in Schuylkill County make $10 an hour, and work 40 hours per week, all year long. That is an extreme exaggeration but you will get the point in a minute.
In one year's time, the total payout for the employees, before taxes and deductions, would be $3,224,000. Take that total and times it by five for the next five years wages for the employees and we get $16,120,000. That number is LESS THANK HALF of the total bailout funds that are being sought. We also need to keep in mind that most of the employees would not work 40 hours a week as most of them would be part time.
Even taking the figure and multiplying it by the number of counties seeking to bailout Wal-Mart would not meet the proposed $35 million in 2 years. It is just ridiculous.
It would be cheaper for the government to simply create positions for the people to continue with some kind of employment, with equal pay and equal hours, than to reward yet one more company for their wrongdoings, poor business management, and poor money management.
When will it end? Seriously. I lost my job last year already, took a part time job to help out, but no one bailed me out.
Boscov's has already filed for bankruptcy protection last year, and a report on television estimated the owner's assets at $85 million. What? Oh you poor bugger, you only have $85 million, here let me give you $35 million more to make sure you can stay afloat.
I understand times are hard. Just as my cable company, they know I am broke, too.
The point here is this. Only people in Pennsylvania will hear about this bailout proposal in an effort to save Boscov's. What is going on in your town?
Schuylkill County Pennsylvania has been said to be a 'poor county'. Anyone watch that 'Secret Millionaire' show? It featured this county, people from Shenandoah if I recall correctly.
I have stated in previous articles that to earn a decent wage around here, we would have to travel at least an hour, and that means travel out of the county just for work.
Where was the bailout for that little mom and pop gas station in town when the owner fell ill and had to choose between his health and operating expenses? Where was his bailout? Where is the bailout for the hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens without healthcare who are suffering from deadly conditions and diseases such as cancer?
Where does it end? Who does it end with? Right here, right now, in this county of Pennsylvania, the bottom line is that the people who reside here cannot afford to shop at retailers such as Boscov's. A $20 shirt at Wal-Mart would be $35 or more at Boscov's.
Then, we get ridiculed for shopping at Wal-Mart, because we are not supporting our local businesses. Well what are we supposed to do? Wal-Mart is probably the only chain, non locally owned, store that I shop at and the bottom line is I can't afford the prices at the alternatives. And let me tell you, there aren't many alternatives.
While the jobs of the 155 people are important, Boscov's is not. We cannot afford to keep allowing the government to just throw money around that isn't there, and yes, it will be at our expense. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will be.
What are they going to do for the people? We have yet to know what President Elect Obama will do with his economic stimulus plan, at least not as far as the people go. I have heard talk of cutting income taxes in order to make the working person's paycheck bigger each week.
While that is a great plan, thank you, what is that going to do NOW? That extra $10, $20 if I am lucky, in my paycheck each week is not going to stimulate me to go shopping. Don't get me wrong, I won't turn it down. But even at $20 a week that is only $1040 for the entire year.
Okay it sounds better now that it is down on here and I am reading it, but I think to stimulate the economy we need that money now. $20 a week will help out with gas money, but it is not going to do anything else for most working people around here.
$1000 will, even $500 will. I could pay off two credits cards with $500 and still have money to spare. In turn, two banks receive their money, and my payments per month decrease.
If they want to give Boscov's $35 million they should disburse it in gift cards to the people, killing two birds with one stone so to speak. The people can buy clothing and other necessities with the gift cards, and the retailer is saved. Instead, they will just give it right to the retailers, the people who messed everything up for themselves in the first place.
I find myself in a situation that many of you may be facing yourself. I'm a college student working hard to make ends meet. But with the changing economy I continually worry about what may become of my fellow classmates and I after we graduate and have to get our lives rolling. Luckily I feel that my career path with allow me to get by if the economy stays on the course it is on now. But what of other graduates that find out that what they had a passion for and spent a great deal of time and money learning will not allow them to pay their bills.
What I see around me, at least in the low-level hourly jobs most of my friends have, is people getting the same amount of pay, minimal if any raises, and cut hours. I may not be an economist but I think this brings our economy down further. When the country's citizens have more expensive bills to pay, but find themselves with barely enough to get by, they will not be able to recycle more money back into the economy. To stimulate the economy, large corporations do not need billions of dollars, this money needs to be dispersed to U.S. citizens. And this should not be done by income but merely by citzenship. A figure I found as of today placed the total U.S. bailouts at $2.56 trillion or almost $25,000 per houshold.
Perhaps this money should not be sent away to greedy fatcats at the head of these corporations and instead given to the struggling Americans hoping to be able to put food on their table this week. With the money these familes can turn around and spend it, which in essence is giving the money to these corporations but in a way that eliminates the greed of the company. This sort of reminds me a bit of Darwinism, only the best corporation survives and in this case the ones America actually needs would certainly do that. Life's little pleasures have certainly made the United States a wonderful place to live, but they have also turned us into a society centered around greed and elitism.
So where does America stand right now? No one has money except for the large corporations who are merely spending it on themselves. So no one can buy anything leaving the economy in a standstill. And the problem fails to fix itself and may even be getting worse. In a rather long and drawn out way I'm trying to approach my reproach for moving forward with my life and living away from home. It's not a worry about whether I could manage physically and emotionally, but whether I know I could be financially stable. With the current economic downturn I worry that being able to pay the bills and still have a little pocket change now, may leave me in the hole and force me to come crawling back to my mother asking for money.
What if gas decides to ricochet back to over $4 a gallon and everything else decides to rise with it again even though most items have not returned to their original prices yet. Yes I feel I have a decent paying job for a college student and work a second job on top of that, but I still barely make it.
I know there are other like me out there that can't help but worry about whether things will get any better with the economy, so please let me know your opinion on the situation.