Archive | November, 2012

AV Photo Daily 11/27/12

27 Nov

[avphotodaily]8180825775[/avphotodaily]

Cyber Monday

26 Nov

Welcome back to a semi-normal week. A few quick takes: 

1. Skyfall is among the best Bond films, ever. As with the rest of the Daniel Craig series, it’s doing a great version of what the Bourne trilogy was – thrilling and action-packed. You know it’s a Bond film because it’s got an evil genius villain. With Craig, however, Bond isn’t just a pseudo-human. They develop the character and give you backstory. Well done. 

2. I think there are pre-Lincoln people and post-Lincoln people. I saw it yesterday, and it reminded me of Spielberg’s other serious world-crisis-as-biopic, Schindler’s List in a lot of ways. Lincoln is unique in that it revolves very specifically around the political flexibility and machinations Lincoln brought to bear on his fight to get the lame duck 38th Congress to free the slaves. Lincoln saw passage of an emancipation amendment to the Constitution as a necessary path to end the Civil War. His team of rivals didn’t always see eye-to-eye with him.  The legal and political issues and ramifications of the Civil War are not glossed over; not dumbed down. Go see it, if for nothing else the Albany lobbyist comic relief. 

3. A fire erupted in a Bangladeshi sweatshop, killing 124

“The factory had three staircases, and all of them were down through the ground floor,” Mahbub said. “So the workers could not come out when the fire engulfed the building.”

“Had there been at least one emergency exit through outside the factory, the casualties would have been much lower,” he said.

This is why we have building codes and regulations. 

Bangladesh’s garment factories make clothes for brands including Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour and Tesco.

Hey, did you get any great Black Friday deals on clothes? 

4. Krugman addresses the supposed shortage of skilled workers, on which some businesses blame high unemployment. He raises a different issue: 

So what you really want to ask is why American businesses don’t feel that it’s worth their while to pay enough to attract the workers they say they need.

The US went so far down the phony, make-believe supply side/Reaganomics/trickle-down rabbit hole; we have so thoroughly demonized workers and labor that businesses are now wondering why trained, qualified people aren’t taking jobs at insulting low pay. 

5. Chris Brown is a singer and a horrible person. Never buy anything of his again, ever. 

6. Congratulations to Lake Effect Ice Cream, which announced a move to new digs in Lockport. 

7. The people at City Dining Cards were good enough to send me a copy of their Buffalo-specific “Fridge Phrases” . They make a great Christmas/Hannukah gift for your Buffalo friends and members of the Buffalo diaspora. 

 

AV Photo Daily 11/26/12

26 Nov

[avphotodaily]8194573727[/avphotodaily]

AV Photo Daily 11/25/12

25 Nov

[avphotodaily]8180844318[/avphotodaily]

AV Photo Daily 11/24/12

24 Nov

[avphotodaily]8198318600[/avphotodaily]

AV Photo Daily 11/23/12

23 Nov

[avphotodaily]8201200843[/avphotodaily]

AV Photo Daily 11/22/12

22 Nov

[avphotodaily]8086420300[/avphotodaily]

Corporate Welfare

21 Nov

Amazing, isn’t it, that corporate welfare through Industrial Development Agencies is so ingrained in local business culture, that it is tantamount to a profile in courage for Clarence’s IDA to consider rejecting providing such welfare to a Mini dealership that wants to relocate from one side of Main Street to the other. 

The IDA culture in western New York is like belonging to a very exclusive country club. The IDAs are made up of politically connected people who decide whether to give handouts, loans, tax breaks, and incentives to people and businesses who are also politically connected. Because the IDA system in western New York is a prime example of disunity and lack of regional vision, IDAs too often poach businesses from one part of WNY to another, or else – as here – simply use public money to subsidize a successful business’ expansion within the same town. 

If Towne Mini is doing well, then let Towne Mini finance its own move. If its expansion is going to make it so much money that sales taxes alone will amount to $650,000 per year, then make sure there’s not a lot of red tape in the way of construction and be done with it. 

But it’s high time that our quasi-governmental corporate welfare entities banded together for the industrial development of western New York as a whole, and stop selectively granting tax breaks to one German-English automotive marque over any other. Ryan has been beating the IDA reform drum for some time, and handing tax breaks to assist a BMW subsidiary to move to bigger digs across the street hardly sounds like a good idea. Let Mini pay for its own expansion, and beware of other towns’ IDAs looking to offer Mini better deals to move to Amherst or elsewhere. 

IDA Report – Assemblyman Sean Ryan

As for Clarence’s IDA, the website is woefully out of date, with the last agenda and minutes entries dating back to mid-summer. Perhaps some more transparency and information would be welcome. 

Ignore the Smears, and Help UNICEF

21 Nov

In order to make this point: 

Blonder Paladino Donald Trump accused UNICEF’s CEO of basically ripping off the charity.  

UNICEF USA’s CEO, Caryl M. Stern, responded: 

 

And UNICEF itself wrote,

 

In fact, regardless of what Ms. Stern drives, UNICEF took in $455 million in the fiscal year that ended in June 2011. Just under $447 million of that went to fund its programs. Administrative expenses totaled $12 million, and fundraising expenses came to $29 million.  Ms. Stern’s compensation amounts to $454,000 per year – a tremendous amount of money, but not unheard-of for someone managing an operation such as this, based in New York. It represents 0.10% of UNICEF’s annual expenses.

Trump is apparently referencing something that Snopes has already debunked as false; charges that Stern earns over a million dollars per year and has a Rolls-Royce at her disposal

The United States Fund for UNICEF was founded in 1947 to support the work of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) by raising funds for its programs and increasing awareness of the challenges facing the world’s children. The oldest of 37 national committees for UNICEF worldwide, we are part of a global effort to save, protect and improve children’s lives. Every moment of every day, UNICEF is on the ground providing lifesaving help for children in need. We provide families with clean water and sanitation, we vaccinate against childhood illness, and we help protect children against malaria. We provide nourishment to fight malnutrition, and we care for children affected by AIDS. We protect children from abuse, and we give them an education. We are here to make sure that all children lead a healthy, humane, and dignified life.

I don’t know why a craven and mean-spirited wealthy person in the public eye would choose to lie about UNICEF in an effort to do it harm, but you can do something about it. Donate to UNICEF and support its programs, such as providing kids with clean water, an education, health care, AIDS medication, food, vaccinations, and other programs.  

 

AV Photo Daily 11/21/12

21 Nov

[avphotodaily]8065221282[/avphotodaily]