GM to temporarily close 5 factories as car inventory builds

GM to temporarily close 5 factories as car inventory builds (Source Associated Press)

General Motors will temporarily close five factories next month as it tries to reduce a growing inventory of cars on dealer lots.

The factories will close anywhere from one to three weeks due to the ongoing U.S. market shift toward trucks and SUVs, spokeswoman Dayna Hart said Monday. Just over 10,000 workers will be idled.

The company’s Detroit-Hamtramck factory and Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, each will be shut down for three weeks, while a plant in Lansing, Michigan, will be down for two weeks. Factories in Lordstown, Ohio, and Bowling Green, Kentucky, each will be idled for one week. The factories make most cars in the General Motors lineup including the Chevrolet Cruze, Camaro, Corvette, Malibu, Volt and Impala; the Cadillac CT6, CTS and ATS; and the Buick Lacrosse.

At the current sales pace, GM dealers have enough Malibus to last for 84 days and enough Camaros to last for 177 days, according to Ward’s Automotive. Normally automakers like to have a 60-day supply on lots.

Last month, trucks and SUVs made up almost 62 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S., a record level. GM, like other automakers, was caught with too many cars on dealer lots as the shift continued, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for the LMC Automotive consulting firm. Automakers have started discounting cars, but they need to cut production as the shift continues, he said.

 

Revelers celebrate winter solstice at Stonehenge

Revelers celebrate winter solstice at Stonehenge (Source Reuters)

More than five thousand pagans, druids and revelers gathered at Britain’s ancient monument Stonehenge on Wednesday to celebrate the winter solstice. The sun rose at the site of the famed standing stones in the southwest English county of Wiltshire at 1:09 p.m. ET, beginning the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

People played musical instruments, while others sang and took photographs of the rising sun which will provide just under eight hours of sunlight on Wednesday, said English Heritage, which protects the historical site.

Thursday marks the start of longer days before the summer solstice in June.

“I am from South Africa, I came for the solstice, especially for the solstice. I am a Pagan, a witch and this is about the best place to be,” one woman said.

What is the winter solstice? Traditions, rituals and definition of the shortest day of the year

What is the winter solstice? Traditions, rituals and definition of the shortest day of the year (Source mirror.co.uk)

The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year.

The solstice marks the moment the sun shines at its most southern point. The winter solstice is a major pagan festival, with rituals of rebirth having been celebrated for thousands of years.

Every year revellers gather at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise on the shortest day. Many of the traditions we now think of as being part of Christmas – including Yule logs, mistletoe and Christmas trees – have their roots in the pagan celebrations of winter solstice.

The Druids – the priests of the ancient Celts – used evergreen trees , holly and mistletoe as symbols of everlasting life during winter solstice rituals.

Social Security Checks Are Being Reduced for Unpaid Student Debt

Social Security Checks Are Being Reduced for Unpaid Student Debt (Source The Wall street Journal)

The federal government is increasingly taking money out of Americans’ Social Security checks to recover millions in unpaid student debt, a trend set to accelerate as more baby boomers retire.

The government has collected about $1.1 billion from Social Security recipients of all ages to go toward unpaid student loans since 2001, including $171 million last year, the Government Accountability Office said Tuesday. Most affected recipients in fiscal year 2015—114,000—were age 50 or older and receiving disability benefits, with the typical borrower losing about $140 a month. About 38,000 were above age 64.

The report highlights the sharp growth in baby boomers entering retirement with student debt, most of it borrowed years ago to cover their own educations but some used to pay for their children’s schooling. Overall, about seven million Americans age 50 and older owed about $205 billion in federal student debt last year. About 1 in 3 were in default, raising the likelihood that garnishments will increase as more boomers retire. “I believe this is the tip of the iceberg of what may be to come if we don’t work harder on this problem,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the top Democrat on the Senate Special Committee on Aging. The report showed garnishments left thousands with Social Security checks below the poverty line, prompting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to call the practice “predatory.” Both lawmakers said they will push legislation to ban it.

 

GM to temporarily close 5 factories as car inventory builds (Source Associated Press)

General Motors will temporarily close five factories next month as it tries to reduce a growing inventory of cars on dealer lots.

The factories will close anywhere from one to three weeks due to the ongoing U.S. market shift toward trucks and SUVs, spokeswoman Dayna Hart said Monday. Just over 10,000 workers will be idled.

The company’s Detroit-Hamtramck factory and Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, each will be shut down for three weeks, while a plant in Lansing, Michigan, will be down for two weeks. Factories in Lordstown, Ohio, and Bowling Green, Kentucky, each will be idled for one week. The factories make most cars in the General Motors lineup including the Chevrolet Cruze, Camaro, Corvette, Malibu, Volt and Impala; the Cadillac CT6, CTS and ATS; and the Buick Lacrosse.

At the current sales pace, GM dealers have enough Malibus to last for 84 days and enough Camaros to last for 177 days, according to Ward’s Automotive. Normally automakers like to have a 60-day supply on lots.

Last month, trucks and SUVs made up almost 62 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S., a record level. GM, like other automakers, was caught with too many cars on dealer lots as the shift continued, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for the LMC Automotive consulting firm. Automakers have started discounting cars, but they need to cut production as the shift continues, he said.

Radioactive Plume From Fukushima Makes Landfall on America’s West Coast

Radioactive Plume From Fukushima Makes Landfall on America’s West Coast (Source EnviroNews Oregon)

Seaborne cesium 134, the so-called “fingerprint of Fukushima,” has been detected on US shores for the first time researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) said this month.

WHOI is a crowd-funded science seawater sampling project, that has been monitoring the radioactive plume making its way across the Pacific to America’s west coast, from the demolished Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in eastern Japan. The seawater samples were taken from the shores of Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach, and were actually obtained in January and February of 2016 and tested later in the year. In other strikingly similar news reported last month, researchers at the Fukushima  In FORM project in Canada, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen, said they sampled a sockeye salmon from Okanagan Lake in British Columbia that tested positive for cesium 134 as well.

Multiple other reports have circulated online, mostly in alternative media outlets, and mostly not corroborated by any tangible measurement data, that point to cases of possible radioactive contamination of Canadian salmon, but EnviroNews Oregon has not independently confirmed any of these claims. Cesium 134 is called the “footprint of Fukushima” because of its fast rate of decay. With a half life of only 2.06 years, there are few other places the dangerous and carcinogenic isotope could have originated. It is important to note that airborne radioactive fallout from the initial explosion and meltdowns at Fukushima in 2011 reached the US and Canada within days, and circled the globe falling out wherever the currents and precipitation carried it — mostly to places unknown to this day. Even still, radioactive iodine 131 was found in municipal water supplies in places like Pennsylvania and Massachusetts shortly after the initial Fukushima accident — a triple meltdown ranked by EnviroNews USA as the most destructive environmental catastrophe in human history.

The samples from the Oregon coast measured around 0.3 becquerels per cubic meter for cesium 134. Researchers in both the US and Canada said the recently detected radiation levels were extremely low and pose “no risk to humans or the environment.” Sadly, NBC, the New York Post, USA Today, and even The Inquisitr amongst others, took the bait and reported the same thing.

Medical science and epidemiological studies have demonstrated time and again that there is no safe amount of radiation for a living organism to be subjected to — period. With each subsequent exposure, no matter how small, the subject experiences an increase in cancer risk. In the wake of Fukushima, several governments, and certainly the Japanese government, have raised the “safe” annual limit for radiation exposure for humans — this critics say, to lower legal liability and to placate concerns from the public, in an increasingly radioactive world. Now, many concerned citizens look on in concern, waiting for more testing and data on ocean waters and the seafood they so greatly enjoy.

 

Leak reveals Rex Tillerson was director of Bahamas-based-US-Russian oil firm

Leak reveals Rex Tillerson was director of Bahamas-based US-Russian oil firm (Source theguardian.com)

Rex Tillerson, the businessman nominated by Donald Trump to be the next US secretary of state, was the long-time director of a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, leaked documents show. Tillerson – the chief executive of ExxonMobil – became a director of the oil company’s Russian subsidiary, Exxon Neftegas, in 1998. His name – RW Tillerson – appears next to other officers who are based at Houston, Texas; Moscow; and Sakhalin, in Russia’s far east.

The leaked 2001 document comes from the corporate registry in the Bahamas. It was one of 1.3m files given to a Germany newspaper by an anonymous source. The registry is public but details of individual directors are typically incomplete or missing entirely. 

Though there is nothing untoward about this directorship, it has not been reported before and is likely to raise fresh questions over Tillerson’s relationship with Russia ahead of a potentially stormy confirmation hearing by the US senate foreign relations committee. Exxon said on Sunday that Tillerson was no longer a director after becoming the company’s CEO in 2006. ExxonMobil’s use of offshore regimes – while legal – may also jar with Trump’s avowal to put “America first”. Tillerson’s critics say he is too close to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and that his appointment could raise potential conflicts of interest. ExxonMobil is the world’s largest oil company and has for a long time been eyeing Russia’s vast oil and gas deposits. Tillerson currently has Exxon stock worth more than $200m.

 

Russian hack almost brought the U.S. military to its knees

Russian hack almost brought the U.S. military to its knees (Source cbsnews.com)
Russian hackers struck at the heart of the U.S. military in August 2015 by seizing the e-mail system used by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CBS News has learned. Then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey was alerted to the attack by an early-morning phone call from the Director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers. Now retired, Dempsey told CBS News in an exclusive interview that the attack was proceeding at an alarming speed. Within an hour, hackers had seized control of the unclassified e-mail system used by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, the organization of some 3,500 military officers and civilians who work for the Chairman. In that time, the hackers seized the computer credentials of Dempsey and hundreds of other senior officers — the passwords and electronic signatures they used to sign on to the network. The only way to stop the attack was to take the network down. The attack, which officials now blame on Russia, began with 30,000 e-mails sent to a West Coast university. Of those 30,000, four were forwarded to members of the Joint Staff and one was opened — allowing the hackers in. Since it was an unclassified network, the attack had no real intelligence value. It was not spying, but a full-on assault whose only apparent purpose was to cause damage and force the Pentagon to replace both hardware and software, which took about two weeks to accomplish. The motive for the attack was believed to be Russian anger at economic sanctions orchestrated by the Obama administration in response to Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and interference in Ukraine.  Cyber attacks have come to be known as weapons of mass disruption, and it is now clear that Russia has used them not just to meddle in U.S. elections — but to do harm to the American military.

 

Turkey claims followers of US-exiled cleric killed Russian ambassador

Turkey claims followers of US-exiled cleric killed Russian ambassador(Source telegraph.co.uk)

Turkey blamed the murder of Russia’s ambassador to the country on a US-based a cleric on Tuesday, as both Ankara and Moscow vowed the killing would not undermine a fragile alliance between them.  

Turkey’s foreign minister on Tuesday told John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, that Ankara and Moscow believe followers of Fethullah Gulen were behind the killing of Andrei Karlov on Monday.  

“Turkey and Russia know that behind the attack… there is FETO,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told Mr Kerry, referring to Turkey’s acronym for Mr Gulen’s organisation, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The Turkish government has previously accused Mr Gulen, a critic of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of orchestrating the failed military coup that rocked the country in July. Mr Gulen denies the accusation. 

Earlier officials in Moscow and Ankara blamed the attack on “terrorists” seeking to sabotage bilateral relations and damage efforts to make peace in Syria.  “It benefits those who want to drive a wedge between Russia and Turkey” and undermine joint efforts to find a settlement in Syria, Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said.  

 

Vladimir Putin says Russia’s military is stronger than any potiential

Vladimir Putin says Russia’s military is stronger than any potential foe (Source cbsnews.com)

Russia’s military today can overpower any potential foe, President Vladimir Putin told an annual end-of-year meeting Thursday with defense chiefs. “We can say with certainty: We are stronger now than any potential aggressor,” he told the meeting. “Anyone!”

His comments come at the end of a year when tensions between Russia and the West have remained on edge over the civil war in Syria.

Tensions between Russia and the West have been souring ever since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and surreptitious support of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Relations dipped further after Russia last year launched an air offensive in Syria to support President Bashar Assad. Both Russia and NATO members have conducted a flurry of military drills near Russia’s borders this year. Russia insists it is responding to a growing NATO threat.

Speaking at the defense ministry’s headquarters in Moscow, Putin said Russia should be swift in “adjusting plans to neutralize potential threats to our country.”

Putin spoke after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu presented an annual report that lauded Russian military achievements in Syria and ongoing efforts to modernize the army.

Things I learned working in the marijuana Industry

Things I Learned Working in the Marijuana Industry (Source cheatsheet.com)

I spent a short time working in the marijuana industry in Washington state. At a small medical marijuana access point in the suburbs of Seattle, I learned how the industry thrived in a gray market, and saw first-hand how full-scale legalization was debated back and forth among the people themselves, and between policymakers in Olympia. As Washington became the first state to vote in a legalization measure, simultaneously with Colorado, all of the old rules were thrown out the window. The bet has seemingly paid off as the federal government has allowed the states to dictate their own rules (so far), and the economic benefits to the states has been enormous. Entrepreneurs are making money, jobs are being created, and law enforcement agencies are conserving resources – which is good news for taxpayers. Still, the industry is up against some serious issues. Though the federal government hasn’t pulled the plug on legalization laws in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, the threat still looms. And business regulations are still keeping them in check, despite the fact that money from big businesses and venture capitalists is starting to find its way in. Now that the industry has more or less taken root, rapid change is bound to take place. Many other states are looking to legalize, and this year will likely bring the hopes of many voters to fruition across the country. All told, my experiences were positive – in fact, I could say that it was one of the more interesting and worthwhile jobs I’ve held. 

You probably imagine teenagers, old hippies, and tie-dye clad Gen-Xers frequenting marijuana stores and access points. The truth is, yes, those folks do make up a percentage of the customer base. But by and large, the people coming and going are not who you’d suspect.

Men in business suits, blue-collar guys, and even a good deal of stay-at-home moms and dads made up the majority of the faces that would come in. Most simply wanted something to help them deal with a specific issue – be it chronic pain, problems regulating appetite, etc. – and to get on with their day. They were normal, everyday people. I even had a former manager stop in one time.

One of the biggest reasons people oppose legalization is because they think marijuana poses a health risk. This is not really true, as cannabis has been shown to be much safer than many other perfectly legal substances, like tobacco and alcohol. Ironically, many people came to my shop seeking treatments for addictions to these legal substances, and others. People were trying to escape addiction from other substances with the medical properties of cannabis. Cannabis has been shown to treat addiction, and work as an alternative for people looking to get away from booze or other drugs. Even people trying to escape opioid addiction are trying cannabis as a treatment option.