Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Blogfest!!!

For those of you heading to the Rooney's Pub in Pittston for the spring Blogfest, I am wishing everyone a good time.......hope to meet you guys sometime soon.
By the way, what was Minuteman Haz Mat cleaning up near the Celotex plant in Sunbury yesterday.  The Daily-Item only has this story in their print edition.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The NFL Draft Starts Tonight With a Local Twist

The NFL has moved the 1st round of their annual draft from Saturday at noon to Thursday (today) at 8 pm.  Only the first round takes place today even under the lockout by the owners.  Probably not since the days of Gary Brown of Williamsport and John Flannery of Pottsville will the draft have an impact so close to home.

Henry Hynoski of the University of Pittsburgh and Southern Columbia High School is expected to fall between the 4th and 6th rounds as a fullback.

Broadcasting local high school football for the past 15 years and covering it for 22 overall, I got to see the highs and lows of Hyno.  I was in Scranton when he was injured his freshman year in a playoff run and had to watch the rest from the bench.  I had the call his sophomore year when he rushed for 409 yards and 6 touchdowns against Pius X.  That game legitimized his speed and set the tone for his junior and senior seasons.  I was also their when Old Forge asked the question of "Henry Who?"

As devastating as Henry was as a high school runner, Pitt utilized him as a blocker helping Dion Lewis, Shady McCoy and Ray Graham to new heights.

While most of Pennsylvania knows about Henry from what they seen on Fridays and Saturdays, the rest of us never seen the hard work Henry put the other 5 days a week since junior high.

The NFL draft is something of football capitalism plain and simple.  Your not mentioned in the draft unless you have the skills and work ethic to produce......plain and simple.  NFL "War Rooms" take this very serious not to waste picks and build teams, but complete flops could come back to haunt you both in the short term and long term.  The 4th through 6th rounds are considered value areas where you can get great player even future Hall of Famers and not have to part with big dollars.  To get to this area of football you have to have talent, some luck, but a huge heart.

When the 4th round starts on Saturday, hopefully Henry is surrounded by friends and family when that phone rings and says, "This is _______, we have selected you in the draft." With all of things wrong in this world, the locals will have something to cheer!!!!

Good luck Henry!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Real Housewives of Wall Street

Why is the Federal Reserve forking over 220 millions of bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs????

Great article by Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone.

Highlights include:

What started off as a targeted effort to stop the bleeding in a few specific trouble spots became a gigantic feeding frenzy. It was "free money for shit," says Barry Ritholtz, author of Bailout Nation. "It turned into 'Give us your crap that you can't get rid of otherwise.' "

In the case of Waterfall TALF Opportunity, here's what we know: The company was founded in June 2009 with $14.87 million of investment capital, money that likely came from Christy Mack and Susan Karches. The two Wall Street wives then used the $220 million they got from the Fed to buy up a bunch of securities, including a large pool of commercial mortgages managed by Credit Suisse, a company John Mack once headed. Those securities were valued at $253.6 million, though the Fed refuses to explain how it arrived at that estimate. And here's the kicker: Of the $220 million the two wives got from the Fed, roughly $150 million had not been paid back as of last fall — meaning that you and I are still on the hook for most of whatever the Wall Street spouses bought on their government-funded shopping spree.

- Muammar Qaddafi received more than 70 loans from the Federal Reserve, along with the Real Housewives of Wall Street.

Perhaps the most irritating facet of all of these transactions is the fact that hundreds of millions of Fed dollars were given out to hedge funds and other investors with addresses in the Cayman Islands. Many of those addresses belong to companies with American affiliations — including prominent Wall Street names like Pimco, Blackstone and . . . Christy Mack. Yes, even Waterfall TALF Opportunity is an offshore company. It's one thing for the federal government to look the other way when Wall Street hotshots evade U.S. taxes by registering their investment companies in the Cayman Islands. But subsidizing tax evasion? Giving it a federal bailout? What the fuck?

They asked for shared sacrifice, but for who??????



Protecting Our Village

Great Article by Paul Golias

When you step back for a moment and consider the bigger picture, the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling expansion does not appear to be in the best interests of Pennsylvania residents.

But then again, how often does the welfare and quality of life of Pennsylvania citizens come into play when there is money to be made?

It just does not seem like Pennsylvanians will come out of this experience with positive outcomes. And we have the century-long experience with coal mining as evidence.

As you travel through Luzerne County and Northeastern Pennsylvania, you see culm banks and scarred landscapes that are reminders of the days when coal barons took the coal and left the waste and ruin. Only the value of once-shunned coal within the waste banks has prompted their removal, for profit, and millions in state money have been spent to clean up polluted creeks, reforest land, prepare acreage for development or seal mine entrances and air shafts. Yet many of these problems remain decades after coal companies have shut down.

With this as background, it was encouraging to see that Back Mountain communities have updated zoning ordinances to deal with natural gas drilling problems, to the limited extent that communities can set parameters. Kingston Township, for example, is eyeing truck traffic and compressor stations as potential issues.

It also is encouraging that citizens are mobilizing to protect children in home and school settings, neighborhoods, streams, reservoirs and communities in general. For the sake of jobs and the economy, we allowed Northeastern Pennsylvania to be ravaged by coal companies for decades; now, we have folks balancing all of the factors and, in many cases, choosing quality of life over the dollar.

One revelation that makes these decisions to favor quality of life easier is that foreign companies have a large stake in the natural gas drilling market. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported, in a dispatch carried in The Citizens' Voice, that foreign companies are buying significant shares in drilling companies and plan to liquefy the natural gas extracted in Pennsylvania and ship it overseas.

Once banned, exports of oil from the North Slope of Alaska are now allowed, up to 7 percent of production. Environmentalists make a good argument that allowing exports of oil or gas, at any ratio of total production, is a poor trade-off for risking land and sea degradation.

The realities of the oil and natural gas business appear to run counter to the argument of the industries that drilling and development of the resources will help alleviate our dependency on imports. Then tie in the political instability in the Mideast, our military adventures there and the expense thereof, in lives and billions of dollars, and you have some perplexing questions.

Looking at the still-scarred face of the eastern mountain overlooking Wyoming Valley, and realizing that coal seekers stripped the land and then walked away 60 years ago, one would be justified in wondering what scars will be left by the natural gas drillers of today. Are we re-living history? Is the potential degradation of the 21st century more evil than that of the 20th century, given the geopolitical quagmire in which we are enmeshed?

We applaud those individuals, citizen organizations and municipalities that are taking action to protect our village for generations to come.

Paul Golias, retired managing editor of The Citizens' Voice, writes a weekly column on regional issues. He can be contacted at


Sunday, April 17, 2011

GOP Votes Tax Cuts For Rich, No Medicare For You

The is a post by John Morgan from the PA Progressive site.

The US House of Representatives today passed Congressman Paul Ryan's budget proposal by a vote of 235-193.  It calls for $2.9 trillion in tax cuts for the richest Americans and corporations while ending Medicare and Medicaid.  Instead of government managed healthcare for seniors with a mere 3% administrative cost elderly and disabled Americans would get vouchers to buy insurance in a private market where overhead is 30% and they can be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions or denied medical care at the whim of a corporate death panel.

This extreme proposal was supported by every member of the Republican delegation from Pennsylvania:

Jim Gerlach
Charles Dent
Mike Fitzpatrick
Joe Pitts
Mike Kelly
Tim Murphy
Tom Marino
Lou Barletta
Pat Meehan
Bill Shuster
Todd Platts

It is amazing to realize that each of these men chose to run on this issue next year.  How many seniors will support someone who just sold them down the river?  How many of those facing long term care will decide eliminating Medicaid will help them?  How many of the poor who depend on the program for health care will continue to vote Republican?  How many working people will continue voting for the further enrichment of the richest people in the country and against their own financial interests?  We'll see.

By the way, here is what they have also taken away courtesy of John:

When Republicans use the word "reform" they really mean "eliminate."  In the past ten years they've "reformed" everything on this list.  I sat down the other day and began compiling everything they have either taken from us or are attempting to steal.  I'm sure I missed some so feel free to add to the list in your comments.

Your job
Your house
Your healthcare
Your pension
Your clean air
Your potable water
Your collective bargaining rights
Your wages
Your right to privacy
Your right to a fair trial
Your right to a lawyer
Your right to see evidence against you in court
Your right to a civil trial
Your right of habeas corpus
Your right to keep your financial records private
Your right not to have your home searched without probable cause
Your private library records
Your private telephone and email conversations
Your private correspondence
Your reproductive rights
Your right to wed the person you love
Your right to medical care
Your right not to live in poverty
Your right to vote
Your right to dignity
Your right to vote
Your right to sue for negligence if injured
Your right to a good public education
Your right not to use your tax dollars for religion
Your right not to get shot
Your right not to be forced to give birth to your rapist's child
Your right to safe food
Your right to safe medicines
Your right to unemployment insurance
Your right to sue a doctor who cuts off the wrong limb
Your right to sue a company which injures you

Friday, April 15, 2011

GOP's War on the 20th Century

Last Friday around this time, lawmakers in Washington were haggling through the 11th hour on how to trim less than pennies of the federal budget.  Last night the House and Senate passed the rest of the 2011 spending bill and now comes the big fight for the trillions. The House voted 260-167 while the Senate passed it 81 to 19 and sent it off to the President's desk. (There is a whole blog post about the vote coming.)

Enter Paul Ryan.  The six-term congressman from Wisconsin and head of the Committee on Budget, Ryan just newly knight from St. Reagan's Roundtable.  As fast as you want to say "frack" in PA, that is how big the economic tsunami that will come to pass if this budget is implemented.

The GOP campaigned heavily in 2010 to "vote for us, we won't touch your Medicare."  Ryan wants to end that with a voucher system to go out and buy your own private plan.  Your $8000 voucher will leave you about $16,000 short in Connecticut if your around 64.  Hypocrisy anyone?

Medicaid???  Hell, let's hand that off to the states like PA has handed off education to the locals. Even David Stockman has been lost.

Once again, if your rich, you get another 10% tax break.  Here are 9 things they don't want you to know!!!!

This should be boom to the construction industry were two or three generations of family will be living together on Walton's Mountain.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Harry the K

March 26, 1936 - April 13th, 2009

We still miss you!!!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Donald for President? Look Beneath the Surface!!!

It has been touted around for a few weeks now about Donald Trump possibly making a run for President in 2012. On the surface, Trump appears as tough, no nonsense business winner.  If you ever made a trip to Atlantic City, it is possible you may have gambled in one of his casinos or have been a guest in one of his hotels. You may want to have him on your side in the board room, but as a business person maybe not.  If his legend ever met the real person would they recognize each other?

From Snyder County Commissioner and chairman of the Snyder County Republican Committee in this weeks Daily-Item:

Kantz thinks Donald Trump would be a strong Republican choice.

“I know a lot of people don’t take him seriously,” Kantz said, “but I like that he is a tough, America-first businessman, and not afraid to take on the powers in the Middle East. He also has that star power that can take on Obama. And he’s well-known by the younger generation.”
So far in this millennium, business under the Trump umbrella have filed for bankruptcy 3 times.  You could also look back as far back in the 1980's with Trump as an owner of the New Jersey General's of the USFL.

For those of you who don't remember, the USFL was a professional spring football league that played for 3 seasons.  (Philadelphia was the dominant team, but that's another story.)  It was the Donald's idea to sue the NFL and try to play a fall schedule and go toe-to-toe with the NFL.  The NFL had a 400 million contract at the time and the USFL had a 20 million dollar contract.

At the time baseball was undergoing a few scandals and some labor strife.  Spring football was actually catching on in the country and most USFL owners were happy with the spring slate.  The USFL had a marketable product.

Trump figured he could back door his way into the NFL and triple or quadruple his franchise investment.  The USFL won the court case and damages for one whole dollar which was tripled under US anti-trust laws.  In 1990 the USFL was issued a check for $3.76 which was never cashed.

As a candidate for president, you may want to look for someone who could build on "We, the People" not "I, the Donald."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Golden Bear's Magic 25 Years Later

The Masters begins it's opening round tomorrow in Augusta, Georgia.  This years marks the 25th anniversary when Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine to win by one stroke with a 7-under par, 65.

To shoot a 30 on the back nine anywhere is amazing.  To do it at age 46 in major championship is legendary.  When you look at the 75 years at Augusta, most of the champions come from the late 20's through mid 30's.

I was on my way back to Villanova on that Sunday and missed most of Nicklaus' performance but caught the tail end in the student union building.  Although now at my current age of 45, I don't feel old at all.  Nicklaus played even golf through 8 holes that day. Then on hold number 9 caught fire.  His only hick up was the par-3, 12th hole which he bogeyed.

Could we have someone over 46 win again???  This year's field of contenders include Couples, Love, Singh and O'Meara.  As the Masters proves, time isn't on your side.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Government Shutdown?

The federal government is pondering a shutdown again this Friday.  Dr. Robert Reich asks these simple questions of the American people:

  • Why are most citizens in the richest nation in the history of the world losing good jobs, good wages, and vital public services?
  • The American economy is twice as large as it was in 1980 but hourly wages have barely budged, and public schools and infrastructure are worse. Why?
  • Third riddle: Why are the top 1% taking home twice the share of income and wealth they did 3 decades ago, and at a far lower tax rate?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Somber Saturday......Longie and Mena

I awoke Saturday morning and confirmed by the newspapers that Jason Long was the man pulled out of the river after parking his oil delivery and jumping in to the Susquehanna River earlier this week.  Jason's son and my son were on the same soccer teams and Jason coached in our baseball league.

I never really knew Jason other than donating toward his battle with leukemia.  I lost a very good friend to disease back in 2000 and knew the hell you and your family go through for treatment.

A cancer survivor myself, it can be rough going through treatment then tack on additional surgeries and the like. I know a few people with this experience.  As a survivor, I may have asked Jason once how he was doing and that was at our first meeting.  My experience was documented in the media while Jason's ordeal needed fundraisers.

With youth sports these days, often teams and players are picked randomly rather than being from the same neighborhood.  One kid could be your best teammate in basketball and your worst enemy in baseball.  It also doesn't give the parents a time to get to know each other as well.

I traveled to Shamokin Dam on Saturday with my youngest to do some spring-related shopping less than mile from rescuers pulled Jason from the river.  I met a young women named Mena Noll who was at Tractor Supply raising awareness for the Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation and Toxic Free Kids.  Mena was at the "Horse of Hope, Hand for Hand campaign.

Mena has been fighting for her son who had an inoperable brain tumor but is slowly on his way to recovery.  She pointed out that environmental factors have much to do with childhood cancers.  She also talked about kids being treated for cancer but not having family present due to financial hardships.   Listening about the story of her son and the heartache her family had been through is touching to say the least. 

In this day and age, listening is something we all can do.  Through years of training, I have been taught that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  It also happens when the reasons for dying outweigh the reasons for living.  All this can happen in a matter of minutes. Hinting that this is a coward's way out is totally BS.  None of us were in Jason's shoes that afternoon.

I extend my prayers and condolences to Jason's family especially his wife and son.  My hope is that someone or others may be able to find the strength and help that they need get through a tough time. For me, his big smile will be missed.

Ed Washuta