Alphastrategy Group News

Melanie Campbell on Black Women's home ownership

Watching Cpan and their discussion on Black women and home ownership, plus the effects of 8.9 black female unemployment on the nations economic recovery. A graduate, Clarke Atlanta steeped in the Southern public policy Melanie Campbell had an interesting public policy agenda, really exonerating Republicans with a focus and concentration on wealth creation as opposed to being limiting the outlook created by the current statistics. She hit a strategic vein in terms of what we need to most address building wealth, looking at technology jobs and a strategy that builds a coalition that includes a vast community of black women to achieve a variety of goals. Putting entrepreneurship as key point to building that autonomy by inter-relating participants and the resources like the Small Business Administration (SBA). She was critical on state governments that were not open to Medicaid expansion as it afforded them access to preventive care. Really urging Mitch McConnell to call a vote on Loretta Lynch was one of her peeves. With a open ear on the negotiating process in DC and a keen image of prosperity to pass on to black women. Real provocative media.

Economic Snapshot Mar 2015

The euro continued to fall on Friday, after hitting a 12-year low against the dollar on Thursday. Over the past 52 weeks, the shared currency has fallen 23.7% against the dollar.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivered a speech alongside Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Brussels expressing optimism over the Eurozone's ability to find a solution for the indebted country.


Read more: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/european-markets-end-week-higher-despite-declines-in-oil-stocks-cm454680#ixzz3UI66LHep

 

Gold futures on Thursday scored their first gain in three sessions, with a pullback in the U.S. dollar prompting a modest rebound from gold’s lowest level in about four months.

Gold for April delivery GCJ5, +0.19% added $1.30, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,151.90 an ounce on Comex after tallying a loss of 1.4% over the past two trading sessions. Prices Wednesday closed at their lowest since early November.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-rebounds-but-remains-near-november-lows-2015-03-12

"We had not used this position (of the Canal) the best way," he told AP. "The Suez Canal will turn God willing from a waterway to a train for the growth of Egyptian economy."

The government aims to more than double annual canal revenues to some $13 billion in less than a decade, although that ambitious goal depends largely on rapid growth in world trade. Mameesh said the government is closely observing the expansion of trade in China and East Asia to be ready for increases in traffic.

He said 92 percent of the dry digging in the expansion and 36 percent of wet digging has been completed so far.

http://www.njherald.com/story/28461818/suez-canal-head-says-zone-development-can-bring-in-billions

Hayden on Menendez

I disagree with Hayden on the matter of the State v. Menendez. This was no surprise. The facts have been public knowledge for over a year, and announcing you are going to indict, whether on the day of, 2 days prior, or a month before --once there is sufficient evidence, that fact still remains unchanged. His argument that this somehow pre-summarily subjects the defendant to criminal investigation is inaccurate. The law only presupposes an individuals degree of innocence. There is nothing in the Miranda rights, or any element of due process that has been breached. If he [Mr. Hayden] can list any way that Mr. Menendez is deprived of some right as a result of this announcement I would like to hear it. I see none. He is still entitled to any of the freedoms that he would posses up to an until being found guilty by a court of law. It may be uncommon, but that is the nature of due process. There is no one size fits all classification, except for being deprived unjustly. And this announcement is by no means unjust. Usually the prosecution will enlist the element of surprise. This case is probably so open and shut, they don't need it. Even if you likened this to search ans seizure, to imply that they did not file the necessary paperwork, that would not hold true, because nothing was or has been taken from Mr. Menendez's possession. This would be the equivalent of finding a murder weapon at the scene of a crime and informing the press that you have the defendants prints on the murder weapon, not searching for the weapon without judicial consent.

Chris Christie 2015 Budget Townhall

Chris Christie 128 TownhallYesterday, Chris Christie delivered his annual budget address to the Legislature. Today, he hosted his 128 Town Hall meeting with as much fan fare as his first. To the repeat offenders  --as he so amicably calls them-- it was a sight for sore eyes. Infrastructure wise, as he was keen to point out n his introductory  speech, anyone closely following the trends in the national business climate know(s): Forbes ranks the New Jersey climate 41. The Republicans that follow global politics know the significance of that number. It's a need for improvement indicator, not a fair weather indicator. That distance away from the central tendency of the fifty states, puts businesses intelligence and the ability to harness investment potential of the state's human and financial capital as a very low priority for New Jersey's government agencies.

Since I have been working in the financial sector, I have had the opportunity to test the applicability of that measure of business friendliness. From a user's perspective, New Jersey has one of the easiest sites to navigate, and filing Corporate Sales Tax in this state is by far the fastest. A total of almost 3 mins, compared to about  an hour for states like Washington and Colorado. So what makes business magazines rate New Jersey so poorly? In a word. No make that two: "rates stupid".  New Jersey has one of the highest Sales Tax Rates in the country. Correction the highest base Sales Tax Rate in the nation at 7%; and when coupled with local county and municipal surtax, it ranks 20th.

If this Legislature gets its way, it would take a 10% Sales Tax Rate, according to estimates, to keep funding government without making serious changes to the system. Namely, changes to the State Pensions.  In response to this daunting challenge, Christie established a task force to explore possible alternatives to bring the State's fiscal house in order.  The NJEA, one of the largest unions, partnered with this task force to establish a road-map designed to put the state back on better footing --going forward. Two key points in the plan: 1. Allowing unions to manage their members contributions themselves, instead of being managed by the State. 2. Making a special dedication through a constitutional  amendment  --subject to voter approval, as to the percentage that the state will contribute towards funding the employee pensions.

A third issue: moving away from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution is a long talked about cost-saving measure. In some regards, this could benefit employees more than the current system. In an economic crisis, like the one we just experienced, the return maybe limited for a given period. Over time, however, similar shocks can be absorbed by the market. Those retiring in that unique time span of 2-3 years (2007-09) may have to be issued select retirement privileges.  Fortunately, 401K's and other retirement plans don't need to be cashed out all at once. They can continue to earn interest income after the retiree stops working. Universities and large charities have what are called endowments which provide them with a perpetual funding stream for a single, lump-sum investment. The implication for retirees is a future in which the options for wealth creation are endless.

Opponents on the other side of the aisle will quickly argue that not everyone is intellectually savvy enough to navigate the series of investment packages offered by the financial industry, exposing state employees to the same down side risk managed by private sector workers. And that is true. State workers will have to calculate the risk-return on their investments. I would argue that that knowledge would eventually lead us to a more affluent society. It would probably lead to more effective and efficient government, simply because the draw of the public employee payroll system will be eliminated, and the feasibility of a career in the private sector will be equally as likely for some, where it had once been un-thought of.

Top Picks to Replace Menendez

Kim GuadagnoKim Guadagno: Executive Branch experience coupled with her legal expertise would make her an excellent candidate. She has done tremendous things to help further the business image of the state. The fact that she is a female does not hurt either. Personally, I put skill before differences in anatomy, but being the first in any category is a monumental title in itself.


 Tom Kean Jr.Tom Kean: Comes from a well connected political family, his father had a personal touch with legislature. Kean Jr. is an astute politician, who pays attention to all, even the mundane issues. He is also affable and policy driven. And we know he wants it.


Jennifer BeckJennifer Beck: Another female, but as before her no nonsense style of politics fits to the rigors of Congress. She represents a core Republican constituency that can play key toward GOP victories in the future.

New York Launches Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force

NEW YORK – Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor Bill de Blasio today are announcing the launch of a joint enforcement task force, titled the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, to investigate and bring enforcement actions – including criminal charges – against landlords who harass tenants. Tenant harassment complaints in Housing Court have nearly doubled since 2011. The task force will confront the rise in complaints that landlords are using a variety of tactics, including disruptive and dangerous renovation and construction projects, to force tenants into vacating rent-regulated apartments. Previously, when owners have neglected their buildings and allowed them to fall into extreme disrepair, the NYC Department of Buildings and Department of Housing Preservation and Development have used their enforcement powers to ensure compliance with housing and building codes, while cases involving harassment and rent regulation have been handled by New York State’s Division of Homes & Community Renewal Tenant Protection Unit (TPU), which was created by Governor Cuomo in 2012 to investigate landlord patterns and practices of harassment and illegal profiteering. The new task force will conduct joint cellar-to-roof inspections, coordinate enforcement actions, and when necessary speed the prosecution of predatory landlords who purposefully distress properties as a form of harassment in order to displace tenants and deregulate rent-stabilized apartments. “Every New Yorker deserves a safe, affordable, and decent place to live,” Governor Cuomo said. “Working with our partners in the State and City, and building upon the success of the Tenant Protection Unit, we will further crack down on unscrupulous and unlawful practices and ensure that tenants’ rights remain protected.”

Wall Street Journal Breaks the Menendez Story

Bob MenendezThis time it's for real. No it's not The Onion, and it's not a question of sexual or moral turpitude. It's the infamy that makes the public sick of corrupt politicians and unwilling to participate in the political process. It is the single biggest weakener of democratic governments; that is an unfair playing field. When you over regulate, setting stumbling blocks and hurdles for individuals to access the fortunes of the society, then create a free pass for your friends, and only your friends, the system becomes broken. Because unlike the sitcom, your friends do not have all the answers; and denying the public access to better outcomes in order to support and ingratiate your friends leaves everyone at a disadvantage. Most recognizably the children of our future, having their dreams plundered by villains of our not too distant past. Take the HSPT test results for his [Menendez] home county of Hudson. Less than 50% passing rate in total, and he claims that his tenure is stellar and above reproach. What if, as it would seem. he failed these kids by setting his priorities on factors that did not merit the public good. Then we would really have a crisis worth debating. The results speak volumes about the quality of his leadership.


 

 

Dept of Labor Lawsuit on mismanaged benefits finally solved

BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — After nearly six years of litigation, a federal district court in Philadelphia recently entered a $39.8 million judgment, protecting the rights of workers who participated in more than 400 death benefit plans mismanaged by John J. Koresko V; companies he controlled; and a former associate, Jeanne Bonney. The defendants are permanently barred from serving as fiduciaries to any employee benefit plan and, with the exception of Bonney, must make restitution to the plans.

The decision follows a 2009 lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor. The judge ruled that Koresko of Bridgeport, Pennsylvania, and other defendants diverted tens of millions of dollars in plan assets through more than 21 accounts using more than 18 different entities at more than eight different banks. Spanning more than 12 years, the scheme saw assets from the plans' trusts, used for real estate purchases in South Carolina and the Caribbean island of Nevis, to pay outside attorneys, lobbying expenses, operational expenses of Penn-Mont Benefit Services, Inc., and Koresko's law firms, and for Koresko's personal expenses, such as boat rentals and utilities. The misuses of assets violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

"The defendants completely disregarded the duty of loyalty they owed to the employee benefit plans and the workers who rely on them," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi. "In an ideal world, this does not happen. When it does, there is justice in undoing this massive fraud, and in banning the defendants from coming anywhere near employee benefits again."

Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered a strong and powerful speech, says Lance

Congrssman LanceCongressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07), co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, issued the following statement in response to the address of His Excellency Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, before a joint meeting of Congress:

“Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered a strong and powerful speech before Congress and to the American People.  Israel does not stand alone.  The United States stands with Israel and the Israeli people in strong support of their right to defend themselves from terrorism and the threat of a nuclear Iran.  

"This Congress must cast aside partisan politics and work together to ensure the safety and security of Israel with tough economic sanctions and a vote to end Iran’s nuclear program permanently.  America’s commitment to Israel must always remain steadfast and our unique bond of friendship must never be broken.”


Most Read

White House Notes

In this week's address, President Obama laid out his vision for quality, affordable higher education for all Americans.

Today, a college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class and beyond, but it has also never been more expensive. Everyone, from elected officials to universities to business leaders, has a part to play in making college affordable for all students. The President has already made historic investments in college education affordability, and earlier this week, he announced a Student Aid Bill of Rights -- a set of guiding principles behind his vision for affordable education.

In his address, the President urged everyone to visit WhiteHouse.gov/CollegeOpportunity and sign this declaration, because together we can ensure students who work hard for a college degree do not graduate saddled with debt.

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Politics

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller Announces
State Visit By United States President Barack Obama

The White House gave a tepid acknowledgement of Benjamin Netanyahu's reelection on Wednesday, stressing that

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As part of Russian territory Crimea can host nuclear weapons – Foreign Ministry — RT Russian politics


John Kerry, Ash Carter urge skeptical senators to back AUMF - POLITICO


Stop saying Exxon is only paying $225 Million. You’re lying. | The Save Jersey Blog


Clinton-tied firm accused of illegal 'scheme' to boost Dem groups, candidates | Fox News
UN Security Council demands Houthis step aside in Yemen - Al Jazeera English
Judge halts Obama's immigration action - Josh Gerstein - POLITICO
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Egypt Bombs ISIS in Libya After Video of Beheadings - The Atlantic
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Oregon’s Kitzhaber resigns amid scandal - Jonathan Topaz - POLITICO
As Public Sours, ObamaCare Faces An Uncertain Future - Investors.com
White House denounces GOP schools bill - Yahoo News
N.J. Congressman named leader on military subcommittee
Bull Real GDP increased 2.2 percent, reflecting positive contributions from consumer spending, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, state and local government spending, inventory investment, and residential fixed investment.
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