Untitled (double girl with braid), 2016, ceramic, 20 3/4 x 28 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches
Opening reception: Saturday, July 23, 2016, 6:00-8:00pm
Through August 27, 2016
Drawings and Reliefs
Through July 30, 2016July 19th, 2016
CASTLE CCCXXXV 07.05.01, 2001
Oil on canvas
29 x 40 3/4 inches
1959 to 2001
Through September 10. 2016July 17th, 2016
By DAVID BARSTOW
NY Times Published: JULY 16, 2016
There was the time Donald J. Trump told Larry King that he had been paid more than $1 million to give a speech about his business acumen when in fact he was paid $400,000. Or the time he sought a bank loan claiming a net worth of $3.5 billion in 2004, four times as much as what the bank found when it checked his math. Or the time he boasted that membership to Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y., cost $300,000 when the actual initiation fee was $200,000. Or the time he bragged on CNBC about his new Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas, claiming, “We have 1,282 units, and they sold out in less than a week.” As Mr. Trump knew, more than 300 units had not been sold.
Confronted in a court case about this last untruth, Mr. Trump was anything but chagrined. “I’m talking to a television station,” he said. “We do want to put the best spin on the property.”
As Mr. Trump prepares to claim the Republican nomination for president this week, he and his supporters are sure to laud his main calling card — his long, operatic record as a swaggering business tycoon. And without question, there will be successes aplenty to highlight, from his gleaming golden high-rises to his well-regarded golf resorts, hit TV shows and best-selling books.
But a survey of Mr. Trump’s four decades of wheeling and dealing also reveals an equally operatic record of dissembling and deception, some of it unabashedly confirmed by Mr. Trump himself, who nearly 30 years ago first extolled the business advantages of “truthful hyperbole.” Indeed, based on the mountain of court records churned out over the span of Mr. Trump’s career, it is hard to find a project he touched that did not produce allegations of broken promises, blatant lies or outright fraud.
Under the intense scrutiny of a presidential election, many of those allegations have already become familiar campaign fodder: the Trump University students and Trump condo buyers who say they were fleeced; the public servants from New Jersey to Scotland who now say they rue the zoning approvals, licenses or tax breaks they gave based on Mr. Trump’s promises; the small-time contractors who say Mr. Trump concocted complaints about their work to avoid paying them; the infuriated business partners who say Mr. Trump concealed profits or ignored contractual obligations; the business journalists and stock analysts who say Mr. Trump smeared them for critical coverage.
Taken as a whole, though, an examination of Mr. Trump’s business career reveals persistent patterns in the way Mr. Trump bends or breaks the truth — patterns that may already feel familiar to those watching his campaign.
First and foremost is Mr. Trump’s tendency toward the self-aggrandizing fib — as if it were not impressive enough to be paid $400,000 for a speech. What also emerges is a nearly reflexive habit of telling his target audience precisely what he thinks it wants to hear — such as promising Trump University students they will learn all his real estate secrets from his “handpicked” instructors. And finally, there is the pattern already deeply familiar to his political opponents — making spurious claims against adversaries under Mr. Trump’s oft-stated theory that the best defense is a scorched-earth offense.
Equally striking is his Houdiniesque ability to wiggle away from all but the most skilled and determined efforts to corner him in an apparent lie. In interviews, lawyers who have tangled with Mr. Trump in court cases are sometimes reduced to sputtering, astonished rage, calling him “borderline pathological” and “the Michelangelo of deception” as they attempt to describe the ease with which Mr. Trump weaves his own versions of reality.
“He’s a bully, and bullies aren’t known for their veracity,” said Richard C. Seltzer, a retired senior partner at the law firm Kaye Scholer who confronted Mr. Trump in three real estate lawsuits.
In a telephone interview on Friday, Mr. Trump defended his integrity as a businessman — “I shoot very straight” — and argued that those who accuse him of acting in bad faith are often the same people he has outmaneuvered in deals.
“What, you’re going to quote people that I’ve beat? Are you going to quote people that I out-dealt?” he asked, adding, “I’ll give you hundreds of names of people that have dealt with me that say I’m very honest.”
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is already hard at work making the case that Mr. Trump’s truth-challenged business record is a harbinger of how he would mislead from the Oval Office. Her campaign has even put up a none-too-subtle website: www.artofthesteal.biz.
Mr. Trump’s business record may help explain why various fact-checkers have barely been able to keep pace with his false claims on the campaign trail. PolitiFact has labeled 34 of Mr. Trump’s assertions “Pants on Fire” lies. As of July 1, The Washington Post had fact-checked 46 statements by Mr. Trump. It gave 70 percent of them its worst rating, four Pinocchios — a record so abysmal that the newspaper recently compiled a video of what it called “Donald Trump’s most outrageous four-Pinocchio claims.”
The taxonomy of Mr. Trump’s business deceptions has been the subject of legal and journalistic scrutiny for decades. A Fortune magazine article from 2000 memorably described Mr. Trump’s “astonishing ability to prevaricate” this way: “But when Trump says he owns 10 percent of the Plaza Hotel, understand that what he actually means is that he has the right to 10 percent of the profit if it’s ever sold. When he says he’s building a ‘90-story building’ next to the U.N., he means a 72-story building that has extra-high ceilings. And when he says his casino company is the ‘largest employer in the state of New Jersey,’ he actually means to say it is the eighth largest.”
The casino magnate Steve Wynn, a sometimes friend and sometimes foe of Mr. Trump’s, took up the subject of Mr. Trump’s honesty in an interview with New York magazine. “His statements to people like you, whether they concern us and our projects or our motivations or his own reality or his own future or his own present you have seen over the years have no relation to truth or fact,” Mr. Wynn said.
Some of the earliest documented examples of Mr. Trump’s deceptive business tactics come from none other than Mr. Trump, who in books and in interviews sometimes seems to delight in describing the brazen bluffs and well-timed trickery he used to claw his way to the upper echelons of New York City’s cutthroat real estate world.
“You have to understand where I was coming from,” Mr. Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller, “The Art of the Deal.” “While there are certainly honorable people in the real estate business, I was more accustomed to the sort of people with whom you don’t want to waste the effort of a handshake because you know it’s meaningless.”
Mr. Trump was particularly proud of a stratagem he employed in 1982, when he was trying to entice Holiday Inn to invest in a casino he was building in Atlantic City. The board of directors decided to visit Atlantic City, which worried Mr. Trump because he had precious little actual construction to show off. So Mr. Trump ordered his construction supervisor to cram every bulldozer and dump truck he could find into the nearly vacant construction site.
“What the bulldozers and dump trucks did wasn’t important, I said, so long as they did a lot of it. If they got some actual work accomplished, all the better, but if necessary, he should have the bulldozers dig up dirt from one side of the site and dump it on the other.”
A week later, when Mr. Trump escorted the Holiday Inn executives to the site, one board member wanted to know why a worker was filling a hole he had just dug. “This was difficult for me to answer, but fortunately, this board member was more curious than he was skeptical,” Mr. Trump wrote, boasting that weeks later Holiday Inn agreed to invest in his casino.
“That’s called ‘business,’” Mr. Trump said on Friday of the episode.
In court cases against Mr. Trump — USA Today counted 3,500 lawsuits involving Mr. Trump, and Mr. Trump estimates he has testified more than 100 times — plaintiffs’ lawyers frequently return to the same two paragraphs from “The Art of the Deal.”
“I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”
In depositions, lawyers have repeatedly probed for the limits of Mr. Trump’s “truthful hyperbole,” or, as one lawyer framed it, the distinction Mr. Trump makes between “innocent exaggeration” and “guilty exaggeration.”
For example, in the now-infamous Trump University litigation, Mr. Trump was asked in a deposition about a script that had been prepared for Trump University instructors. According to the script, the instructors were supposed to tell their students the following: “I remember one time Mr. Trump said to us over dinner, he said, ‘Real estate is the only market that, when there’s a sale going on, people run from the store.’ You don’t want to run from the store.”
No such dinners ever took place, Mr. Trump acknowledged. In fact, Mr. Trump struggled to identify a single one of the instructors he claimed to have handpicked, even after he was shown their photographs. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump was not bothered by the script’s false insinuation of real estate secrets shared over chummy dinners. Asked if this example constituted “innocent exaggeration,” Mr. Trump replied, “Yes, I’d say that’s an innocent exaggeration.”
On Friday, Mr. Trump argued that the script might fall under the legal concept of “puffery” — which many legal dictionaries define as an exaggeration or statement that “no reasonable person” would take as factual. And in any event, he continued, the true sinners in the Trump University case are the students who sued him even after giving rave reviews in their written evaluations of the seminars. “I think that’s dishonest,” he said.
Mr. Trump has been repeatedly accused of bringing false legal claims to avoid paying debts and evade contractual obligations. As far back as 1983, a New York City housing court judge ruled that Mr. Trump filed a “spurious” lawsuit to harass a tenant into vacating a Trump building.
Then there was the case Mr. Trump brought against Barbara Corcoran, the real estate broker best known for her appearances on “Shark Tank.” In the mid-1990s, Mr. Trump owed millions of dollars to Ms. Corcoran for helping him secure financing for a development. But when New York magazine published a cover story about the troubled project — “Trump’s Near-Death Experience” — Mr. Trump sued Ms. Corcoran, accusing her and her associates of sharing damaging information with the magazine and thus violating a confidentiality agreement. He refused to pay her the millions he owed, claiming her breach had gravely damaged his business.
At trial, Mr. Trump was unable to produce a single document showing harm to his business. But his certitude never wavered, even after Ms. Corcoran’s lawyer, Mr. Seltzer, confronted him with article after article in which Mr. Trump himself had discussed with reporters much of the same “confidential” information he accused Ms. Corcoran’s team of divulging.
“There is something very belligerent about the way he presents facts, as if he thinks nobody will have the balls to stand up to him,” Mr. Seltzer said in an interview. (In dismissing Mr. Trump’s suit against Ms. Corcoran, the judge said the only damages he could identify were to Mr. Trump’s “bruised ego.”)
In Friday’s interview, Mr. Trump denied filing frivolous court cases, insisting, “I’ve won a massive majority of the litigation I’ve been involved in.” He pointed to the USA Today survey of his 3,500 legal cases. Although the newspaper could not determine who had prevailed in the vast majority of the cases, it did find Mr. Trump the clear winner in 450 suits and the clear loser in 38.
And, indeed, for all of the litigation Mr. Trump has attracted or spawned, for all of the times he has been accused of ruinous dishonesty, the legal and regulatory record is surprisingly bare of official findings by judges, juries or regulators that Mr. Trump engaged in perjury or improper deception or actual fraud.
A rare exception came after Mr. Trump decided to demolish a department store to make way for his Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. Mr. Trump’s demolition contractor hired about 200 unauthorized Polish laborers, paying them as little as $4 an hour to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. The case ended up in federal court after some workers were shortchanged even these wages.
Mr. Trump protested that he knew nothing about the use of unauthorized workers — even though workers testified that they saw him visiting the site and some witnesses said that Mr. Trump and the executive he assigned to oversee the demolition were well aware of what was going on. In 1991, a federal judge, Charles E. Stewart Jr., ruled that despite Mr. Trump’s denials, there was “strong evidence” that he and his subordinates and his contractor had conspired to hire the Polish workers and deprive them of employment benefits. He awarded them $325,415 in damages.
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But in case after case, Mr. Trump has displayed a special talent for turning what should be cold hard facts into semantic mush. Perhaps the most famous example of this skill came when Mr. Trump was asked under oath a seemingly straightforward question: Had he ever lied about his net worth? Mr. Trump responded, “My net worth fluctuates and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.”
So, he explained in a deposition, when he said membership costs $300,000 to his Westchester golf club, that included the $200,000 initiation fee plus every cent he guessed that a member might spend on annual dues over the next 20 or 30 years. In other words, “The way I say it is more accurate.” And when he told Larry King he was paid more than $1 million for a speech, it was not his fault if viewers failed to realize he was including not just his $400,000 speaking fee but also the hundreds of thousands of dollars he assumed must have been spent promoting his appearance.
Part of what makes Mr. Trump such an elusive target is that his paper trail is often minimal. Mr. Trump has repeatedly testified that he does not use computers. He says he also throws away his day planner each month, and just last year he testified that he did not own a smartphone. “Unlike Hillary Clinton, I’m not a big email fan,” he said, leaving open the question of how he posts to Twitter.
Mr. Trump is also adept at deflecting blame to his staff. In two of his books, Mr. Trump made the startling and, as it turned out, bogus claim that he had once performed the remarkable feat of climbing out from under more than $9 billion in debt. Mr. Trump blamed his ghostwriter for the mistake. Asked if he reads his books before publication, Mr. Trump said, “I read it as quickly as I can because of time constraints.”
Mr. Trump is also the beneficiary of miraculously well-timed memory lapses. In suit after suit, the man who claims to possess one of world’s best memories suddenly seems to have chronic memory loss when asked about critical facts or events.
Such was the case when Mr. Trump filed a libel lawsuit against Timothy L. O’Brien, the author of “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald.” Among other things, Mr. Trump asserted that “TrumpNation” cost him a “deal made in heaven” with a group of Italian investors, men he had met and who were on the brink of signing a business partnership that would have made him hundreds of millions of dollars. Their names? He could not recall. “TrumpNation” also cost him a hotel deal with Russian investors, he said. He could not remember their names, either. He was certain the book also ruined a deal with Turkish investors. Again, he could not recall any names. Polish investors also got cold feet after they read Mr. O’Brien’s book. Their names escaped him, too. The book also scared off investors from Ukraine. Alas, he could not think of their names either.
Mr. Trump’s lawsuit was dismissed.
Thanks to Jonathan MaghenJuly 17th, 2016
By Veronica Rocha
LA Times Published: July 14, 2016
The mania surrounding “Pokemon Go” continued Thursday as more users found themselves in precarious situations while playing the augmented reality game.
In North San Diego County, two men fell off a bluff while playing the smartphone game, while farther north in Anaheim, a player was stabbed by group of men in a park recently.
The incidents come as law enforcement agencies across the nation are reporting a plethora of Pokemon-related attacks and odd happenings since the game was released last week.
On Wednesday, firefighters rescued two men who fell several stories off the crumbling sandstone bluff in Encinitas, according to authorities. The men, who were in their early 20s, were playing “Pokemon Go” at the time and likely were led to the cliff when they were trying to catch characters, said Sgt. Rich Eaton of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
One man fell 75 to 100 feet. As firefighters rescued the man, they found the second man unconscious 50 feet down the bluff, said Battalion Chief Robbie Ford of the Encinitas Fire Department. Both were taken to area trauma centers and suffered moderate injuries, he said.
The men, according to firefighters, had crossed a fenced area to get to the bluff.
“I think people just need to realize this is a game,” Eaton said. “It’s not worth your life. No game is worth your life.”
In Anaheim, a man who was playing the game into the wee hours Wednesday was stabbed multiple times by a group of men at a park, police said.
The victim, who was in his late 20s, was using the app in Schweitzer Park on the 200 block of Bel Air Street, when he encountered the group of men around 12:30 a.m., police said.
Anaheim police Sgt. Luis Correa said five to six men, ranging in age from teens to 20s, attacked the man and stabbed him several times.
A motive for the attack has not been determined, he said.
Correa said detectives don’t think the group lured the man to the park. Instead, they think he happened to run into them there.
The victim was taken to an area hospital, where he was in fair condition with injuries that did not appear life-threatening.
Wednesday’s attack should serve as a reminder to “Pokemon Go” players to pay attention to their surroundings, Correa said.
“Your focus should be on what’s in front of you, so you don’t lose sight of what is happening,” he said.
Law enforcement agencies have warned that the game could leave players vulnerable to criminals.
See the most-read stories this hour >>
Just in California, two men were reportedly robbed and carjacked Sunday while playing the game and trying to catch fictional characters at a Sacramento County park.
About 100 miles south, a brother and sister were robbed of their smartphones Sunday while playing “Pokemon Go” in San Francisco.
Two former Marines playing the game in Fullerton on Tuesday helped nab a man who was wanted in connection with attempted murder in Sonoma County. They notified police after they noticed the man was bothering children at a playground.
On Wednesday, two men who had just finished playing “Pokemon Go” were nearly robbed about 2:40 a.m. in Lakewood while walking home, sheriff’s officials said. A tan four-door vehicle pulled up next to them and a man with a gun stepped out and tried to rob them, according to a department press release.
One of the victims fought back against the gunman, who ran back into the car, authorities said. The car’s driver tried to run the men over, but missed, then escaped, officials said.
But in the world of Pokemon, it’s not crime all the time. Some bizarre happenings also have been associated with the game.
In San Luis Obispo County, Dan De Vaul reported that his sober-living facility, Sunny Acres, had been a designated stop in the latest “Pokemon Go” craze. The facility houses released sex offenders, which was a concern for De Vaul because he said his clients can’t be around children.
“I have no idea what Pokemon is,” he said. “I have no idea who put the stop — if it was sabotage — because we don’t want kids showing up here.”July 15th, 2016
Thanks to Thurston and WolfyJuly 13th, 2016
Discarded food is the biggest single component of US landfill and incinerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Photograph: Alamy
By Suzanne Goldenberg
The Guardian Published: Wednesday 13 July 2016
Americans throw away almost as much food as they eat because of a “cult of perfection”, deepening hunger and poverty, and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.
Vast quantities of fresh produce grown in the US are left in the field to rot, fed to livestock or hauled directly from the field to landfill, because of unrealistic and unyielding cosmetic standards, according to official data and interviews with dozens of farmers, packers, truckers, researchers, campaigners and government officials.
From the fields and orchards of California to the population centres of the east coast, farmers and others on the food distribution chain say high-value and nutritious food is being sacrificed to retailers’ demand for unattainable perfection.
“It’s all about blemish-free produce,” says Jay Johnson, who ships fresh fruit and vegetables from North Carolina and central Florida. “What happens in our business today is that it is either perfect, or it gets rejected. It is perfect to them, or they turn it down. And then you are stuck.”
Food waste is often described as a “farm-to-fork” problem. Produce is lost in fields, warehouses, packaging, distribution, supermarkets, restaurants and fridges.
By one government tally, about 60m tonnes of produce worth about $160bn (£119bn), is wasted by retailers and consumers every year – one third of all foodstuffs.
But that is just a “downstream” measure. In more than two dozen interviews, farmers, packers, wholesalers, truckers, food academics and campaigners described the waste that occurs “upstream”: scarred vegetables regularly abandoned in the field to save the expense and labour involved in harvest. Or left to rot in a warehouse because of minor blemishes that do not necessarily affect freshness or quality.
When added to the retail waste, it takes the amount of food lost close to half of all produce grown, experts say.
“I would say at times there is 25% of the crop that is just thrown away or fed to cattle,” said Wayde Kirschenman, whose family has been growing potatoes and other vegetables near Bakersfield, California, since the 1930s. “Sometimes it can be worse.”
“Sunburnt” or darker-hued cauliflower was ploughed over in the field. Table grapes that did not conform to a wedge shape were dumped. Entire crates of pre-cut orange wedges were directed to landfill. In June, Kirschenman wound up feeding a significant share of his watermelon crop to cows.
Researchers acknowledge there is as yet no clear accounting of food loss in the US, although thinktanks such as the World Resources Institute are working towards a more accurate reckoning.
Imperfect Produce, a subscription delivery service for “ugly” food in the San Francisco Bay area, estimates that about one-fifth of all fruit and vegetables are consigned to the dump because they do not conform to the industry standard of perfection.
But farmers, including Kirschenman, put the rejection rate far higher, depending on cosmetic slights to the produce because of growing conditions and weather.
That lost food is seen increasingly as a drag on household incomes – about $1,600 a year for a family of four – and a direct challenge to global efforts to fight hunger, poverty and climate change.
Globally, about one-third of food is wasted: 1.6bn tonnes of produce a year, with a value of about $1tn. If this wasted food were stacked in 20-cubic metre skips, it would fill 80m of them, enough to reach all the way to the moon, and encircle it once. Taking action to tackle this is not impossible, as countries like Denmark have shown.
The Obama administration and the UN have pledged to halve avoidable food waste by 2030. Food producers, retail chains and campaign groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have also vowed to reduce food loss in the ReFED initiative.
Food experts say there is growing awareness that governments cannot effectively fight hunger, or climate change, without reducing food waste. Food waste accounts for about 8% of global climate pollution, more than India or Russia.
“There are a lot of people who are hungry and malnourished, including in the US. My guess is probably 5-10% of the population are still hungry – they still do not have enough to eat,” said Shenggen Fan, the director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. “That is why food waste, food loss matters a great deal. People are still hungry.”
That is not counting the waste of water, land and other resources, or the toll on the climate of producing food that ends up in landfill.
Within the US, discarded food is the biggest single component of landfill and incinerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Food dumps are a rising source of methane, a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But experts readily acknowledge that they are only beginning to come to grips with the scale of the problem.
The May harvest season in Florida found Johnson with 11,000kg (24,250lbs) of freshly harvested spaghetti squash in his cool box – perfect except for brown scoring on the rind from high winds during a spring storm.
“I’ve been offering it for six cents a pound for a week and nobody has pulled the trigger,” he said. And he was “expecting an additional 250,000lbs of squash,” similarly marked, in his warehouse a fortnight later.
“There is a lot of hunger and starvation in the United States, so how come I haven’t been able to find a home for this six-cents-a-pound food yet?” Johnson asked.
Such frustrations occur regularly along the entirety of the US food production chain – and producers and distributors maintain that the standards are always shifting. Bountiful harvests bring more exacting standards of perfection. Times of shortage may prove more forgiving.
Retail giants argue that they are operating in consumers’ best interests, according to food experts. “A lot of the waste is happening further up the food chain and often on behalf of consumers, based on the perception of what those consumers want,” said Roni Neff, the director of the food system environmental sustainability and public health programme at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future in Baltimore.
“Fruit and vegetables are often culled out because they think nobody would buy them,” she said.
But Roger Gordon, who founded the Food Cowboy startup to rescue and re-route rejected produce, believes that the waste is built into the economics of food production. Fresh produce accounts for 15% of supermarket profits, he argued.
“If you and I reduced fresh produce waste by 50% like [the US agriculture secretary] Vilsack wants us to do, then supermarkets would go from [a] 1.5% profit margin to 0.7%,” he said. “And if we were to lose 50% of consumer waste, then we would lose about $250bn in economic activity that would go away.”
Some supermarket chains and industry groups in the US are pioneering ugly produce sections and actively campaigning to reduce such losses. But a number of producers and distributors claimed that some retailing giants were still using their power to reject produce on the basis of some ideal of perfection, and sometimes because of market conditions.
The farmers and truckers interviewed said they had seen their produce rejected on flimsy grounds, but decided against challenging the ruling with the US department of agriculture’s dispute mechanism for fear of being boycotted by powerful supermarket giants. They also asked that their names not be used.
“I can tell you for a fact that I have delivered products to supermarkets that was [sic] absolutely gorgeous and because their sales were slow, the last two days they didn’t take my product and they sent it back to me,” said the owner of a mid-size east coast trucking company.
“They will dig through 50 cases to find one bad head of lettuce and say: ‘I am not taking your lettuce when that lettuce would pass a USDA inspection.’ But as the farmer told you, there is nothing you can do, because if you use the Paca [Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act of 1930] on them, they are never going to buy from you again. Are you going to jeopardise $5m in sales over an $8,000 load?”
He said he experienced such rejections, known in the industry as kickbacks, “a couple of times a month,” which he considered on the low side for the industry. But he said he was usually able to sell the produce to another buyer.
The power of the retail chains creates fear along the supply chain, from the family farmer to the major producer.
“These big growers do not want to piss off retailers. They don’t enforce Paca on Safeway, Walmart or Costco,” said Ron Clark, who spent more than 20 years working with farmers and food banks before co-founding Imperfect Produce.
“They are just not going to call because that will be the last order they will ever sell to them. That’s their fear. They are really in a pickle.”July 13th, 2016
BY Paul Krugman
NY Times Published: JULY 11, 2016
What with everything else going on, from Trump to Brexit to the horror in Dallas, it’s hard to focus on developments in financial markets — especially because we’re not facing any immediate crisis. But extraordinary things have been happening lately, especially in bond markets. And because money still makes the world go ’round, attention must be paid to what the markets are trying to tell us.
Specifically, there has been an extraordinary plunge in long-term interest rates. Late last year the yield on 10-year U.S. government bonds was around 2.3 percent, already historically low; on Friday it was just 1.36 percent. German bonds, the safe asset of the eurozone, are yielding minus — that’s right, minus — 0.19 percent. Basically, investors are willing to offer governments money for nothing, or less than nothing. What does it mean?
Some commentators blame the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, accusing them of engineering “artificially low” interest rates that encourage speculation and distort the economy. These are, by the way, largely the same people who used to predict that budget deficits would cause interest rates to soar. In any case, however, it’s important to understand that they’re not making sense.
For what does “artificially low” mean in this context? Compared to what? Historically, the consequence of excessively easy money — the way you know that money is too easy — has been out-of-control inflation. That’s not happening in America, where inflation is still below the Fed’s target, and it’s definitely not happening in Europe, where the central bank has been trying to raise inflation, without success.
If anything, developments in the real economies of the advanced world are telling us that interest rates aren’t low enough — that is, while low rates may be having their usual effects of boosting the housing sector and, to some extent, the stock market, those effects aren’t big enough to produce a strong recovery. But why?
In some past episodes of very low government borrowing costs, the story has been one of a flight to safety: investors piling into U.S. or German bonds because they’re afraid to buy riskier assets. But there’s little sign of such a fear-driven process now. The premiums on risky corporate bonds, which soared during the 2008 financial crisis, have stayed fairly low. European bond spreads, like the difference between Italian and German interest rates, have also stayed low. And stock prices have been hitting new highs.
By the way, the financial fallout from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union looks fairly limited, at least so far. The pound is down, and investors have been pulling money from funds that invest in the London property market. But British stocks are up, and there’s nothing like the kind of panic some pre-referendum rhetoric seemed to predict. All that seems to have happened is an intensification of the trend toward ever-lower interest rates.
So what’s going on? I think of it as the Great Capitulation.
A number of economists — most famously Larry Summers, but also yours truly and others — have been warning for a while that the whole world may be turning Japanese. That is, it looks as if weak demand and a bias toward deflation are enduring problems. Until recently, however, investors acted as if they still expected a return to what we used to consider normal conditions. Now they’ve thrown in the towel, in effect conceding that persistent weakness is the new normal. This means low short-term interest rates for a very long time, and low long-term rates right away.
Many people don’t like what’s happening, but raising rates in the face of weak economies would be an act of folly that might well push us back into recession.
What policy makers should be doing, instead, is accepting the markets’ offer of incredibly cheap financing. Investors are willing to pay the German government to take their money; the U.S. situation is less extreme, but even here interest rates adjusted for inflation are negative.
Meanwhile, there are huge unmet demands for public investment on both sides of the Atlantic. America’s aging infrastructure is legendary, but not unique: years of austerity have left German roads and railways in worse shape than most people realize. So why not borrow money at these low, low rates and do some much-needed repair and renovation? This would be eminently worth doing even if it wouldn’t also create jobs, but it would do that too.
I know, deficit scolds would issue dire warnings about the evils of public debt. But they have been wrong about everything for at least the past eight years, and it’s time to stop taking them seriously.
They say that money talks; well, cheap money is speaking very clearly right now, and it’s telling us to invest in our future.July 11th, 2016
Planting a new oak tree, which may house frogs, salamanders, mountain lions, gray foxes, robins, woodpeckers, owls, eagles, egrets, herons, roadrunners, and hundreds more species of local wildlife. Photo: Chadd Ferron
By Julia Wasson
The Huffington Post Published: 07/08/2016
Pinyon syrup; acorn and cattail crackers; golden currant wine; mountain trout with Manzanita berries and willow bark. Wild-foraged foods are becoming increasingly popular as adventurous foodies connect ancient food-gathering traditions with the local terroir.
But unless you have access to private lands, much wild food foraging is illegal. Native plants are protected, and harvesting them is poaching. Try the easy alternative to poaching in our public spaces and parks — grow edible plants at home! We need more native plants, not fewer. Besides feeding yourself, you’ll also support the native butterflies and birds that depend on these foods. We can forage in our gardens!
When people harvest native plants in our struggling Southern California ecosystems, their impact on the plants, and the insects and animals that need them, is devastating. Taking bark, leaves, seeds, nuts and berries weakens the plants’ abilities to renew themselves, reproduce, and survive brutal drought. By harvesting elderberries, for example, there are fewer berries to feed birds and other animals, fewer berries to nourish the soil, fewer berries to fall to the ground and make more trees or be transported in scat or droppings to grow in other locations.
California habitats already face multiple threats: development, drought, invasive-non-native plants and insects, loss of groundwater, and ever-more-frequent wildfires. Foraging is another nail in the coffin — a coffin we should try to dismantle rather than seal shut. California is a biodiversity hotspot. One-third of California’s 6,000 species and subspecies of native plants are endemic, found nowhere else in the world. The native plant species being foraged for cocktails, pickles (such as unripe Southern California black walnuts), and condiments are already threatened and endangered due to other human activity. We can’t afford for even an infinitesimal fraction of the 23 million people in Southern California to forage native plants on already stressed public wild lands.
Indigenous Californian Nicholas Hummingbird directs the Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery in Pasadena, where he and his volunteers have propagated 10,000 individual plants. He has painstakingly and sustainably hand-collected seeds and cuttings from 200 local native species, many of them the very ingredients found in forage and wild-crafted recipes. His spectacular Instagram account is “dedicated to advocating for California’s native plants, animals, & landscapes. They need our voice.”
Nicholas encourages, “Bring native plants into your life by doing something small and simple in your yard. You don’t need to go out in the wild to enjoy native plants. At home, you can rekindle thousands of years of relationships between humans and the land. Even tiny spaces can provide habitat and beauty. I removed a few pavers from my apartment patio to grow seeds and cuttings. I eat my breakfast outside with butterflies, hummingbirds, ladybugs, and lizards. Restoring pocket habitats will entice native animals and birds to return, and to have some respite in our cities.” Nicholas explains that growing natives at home helps preserve species, such as California black walnut and golden currant, that could go extinct in our lifetimes. “When plants go extinct, the bees, birds, and animals that depend on that plant go extinct also. We may lose 3,300 species in the next twenty to thirty years.”
“I’ve worked with native plants a majority of my life. Now, I find advocating for the rights of the plants and animals imperative. Indigenous people in California went through two waves of genocide. The plants, the animals and the land are still going through that same genocide, which has only accelerated. Plants and animals are exploited and exterminated without a voice to fight for their rights to exist. I’m intimate with the land. A part of who I am is based on these plants. They have a language. When they are gone, when they are silenced and killed, that part of myself, along with thousands of years of culture, dies too.”
“Native plants give us a sense of place, of where we live and where we come from. Our local mountains are held together by the vast root systems of native plants. They support the butterflies and bees, the birds and native pollinators that so many people love. A beautiful California native oak takes only the water it needs, sequesters carbon, and gives habitat and food to hundreds of beneficial species of insects, birds, and animals. Foxes, woodpeckers, endangered amphibians.
Each oak functions as a community — providing food, shelter and resources for hundreds of species. In the Los Angeles basin, millions of oaks inhabited the landscape, but were quickly clear cut, chopped down and dynamited to make room for invasive grass for non-native cows and grazing animals. The few remaining oak woodlands are still under incredible pressure. Our native oaks stand testament not only to our own lifetimes, but to six or seven generations to come.
Here in Pasadena, the Englemann oak has been severely impacted and is nearly extinct. So instead of eating the crop that appears every two years, we’ve worked hard to collect acorns from the few remaining trees. Our responsible approach to propagating the acorns will germinate a few hundred new trees.”
“Foraging in the wild has a very detrimental impact. Animals avoid a place where humans have been for several hours, and if a dog has been there, wild animals will avoid the scent of the new predator for days. By foraging, we remove the animals’ food supply.
Here at Hahamongna Watershed Park, foragers constantly hold workshops. Our nursery has taken a watchdog role, assessing the impacts of foraging on the health of local elderberry trees and other plants. For example, thirty-two mature elderberries had been loaded with ripe fruit, ready to feed the birds and animals doing their best to survive this drought. Two days after recent foraging events, people had stripped the trees completely bare of not only the fruit, but also the flowers. It’s very discouraging for our volunteers, who work hard to grow native plants for restoration and to learn the ethics of stewardship, to witness the greed and exploitation in this place our volunteers care for.
“Don’t further destroy the last remaining natural places. We need to bring nature back into the city. Advocate for native plants you’d like to see used in community gardens and landscaping. At Hahamongna Cooperative Nursery, we teach respectful ways to interact with plants. For instance, elderberries are easy to grow at home. If you give the tree water during the summer, it will yield fruit all year. Wherever you’d have room for a crepe myrtle, you have room to grow and protect a black walnut, which is very endangered. Seeing people gather the walnuts for food makes me angry — there just aren’t enough. At the nursery, when we gather acorns and walnuts, we gather them to grow, not to eat!
Lisa Novick, Director of Outreach of the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants, has landscaped at home with native plants. She and her family harvest in their beautiful forage garden. Lisa’s elderberry tree “attracts all kinds of butterflies because its flowers are like landing pads. Once the flowers start developing into berries, the tree attracts every berry-eating bird out there — mockingbirds, band-tailed pigeons, finches, spotted towhees, scrub jays. I make infusions from the flowers straight from the tree, or cook the berries to make sauce, jam and pies.”
She suggests, “Grow golden currant instead of a rose bush. The golden currant’s yellow tube-shaped flowers are great for hummingbirds and other pollinators. The currants are edible right off bush, sweet but tart. For tea, grow white or black sage, which are also great in roast potatoes or chicken. Lisa recommends another favorite. “Buckwheat is great for pancakes. Crush the pompoms of dried flower petals and seeds and use it as flour. Buckwheat blooms vigorously all summer and then provides seeds for birds all fall and winter. The caterpillars of many species of blue butterflies eat buckwheat leaves and blossoms. By planting buckwheat at home, you feed not only people, but caterpillars, which feed baby birds. And since we are in a sixth mass extinction, we need to help other creatures beside ourselves!”
Lisa reminds us, “Native plants are adapted to local soil and climate, and won’t need soil amendments, fertilizers or pesticides. Once established, water deeply but infrequently during the dry season. Other useful and easy to grow native plants include mugwort, native grape, and wild strawberry. The California bay laurel tree has a scent that combines pepper, mint, and bubblegum. Kids love it.”
Explore these delicious and beautiful native plants while supporting habitat. Bon appetit!
Follow Nicholas on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_native_hummingbird/
Nicholas welcomes visitors on Sundays for nursery Volunteer Day: http://www.arroyoseco.org/nursery.htm
At the Theodore Payne Foundation, http://theodorepayne.org/ nursery staff will be happy to advise you on plants to match your site and interests. And, continue to ask for natives wherever you shop for garden supplies. Bon appetite!
Ink on vellum
6 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches; 16 x 27 cm
July 9 – September 10, 2016July 9th, 2016
Acrylic on canvas
66 x 51 in
167.6 x 129.5 cm
Through July 9, 2016July 9th, 2016
By Michael Eric Dyson
NY Times Published: JULY 7, 2016
IT is clear that you, white America, will never understand us. We are a nation of nearly 40 million black souls inside a nation of more than 320 million people. We don’t all think the same, feel the same, love, learn, live or even die the same.
But there’s one thing most of us agree on: We don’t want the cops to kill us without fear that they will ever face a jury, much less go to jail, even as the world watches our death on a homemade video recording.
You will never understand the helplessness we feel in watching these events unfold, violently, time and again, as shaky images tell a story more sobering than your eyes are willing to believe: that black life can mean so little. That Alton B. Sterling and Philando Castile, black men whose deaths were captured on film this past week, could be gone as we watch, as a police officer fires a gun. That the police are part of an undeclared war against blackness.
You can never admit that this is true. In fact, you deem the idea so preposterous and insulting that you call the black people who believe it racists themselves. In that case the best-armed man will always win.
You say that black folks kill each other every day without a mumbling word while we thunderously protest a few cops, usually but not always white, who shoot to death black people who you deem to be mostly “thugs.”
That such an accusation is nonsense is nearly beside the point. Black people protest, to one another, to a world that largely refuses to listen, that what goes on in black communities across this nation is horrid, as it would be in any neighborhood depleted of dollars and hope — emptied of good schools, and deprived of social and economic buffers against brutality. People usually murder where they nest; they aim their rage at easy targets.
It is not best understood as black-on-black crime; rather, it is neighbor-to-neighbor carnage. If their neighbors were white, they’d get no exemption from the crime that plagues human beings who happen to be black. If you want interracial killing, you have to have interracial communities.
We all can see the same videos. But you insist that the camera doesn’t tell the whole story. Of course you’re right, but you don’t really want to see or hear that story.
At birth, you are given a pair of binoculars that see black life from a distance, never with the texture of intimacy. Those binoculars are privilege; they are status, regardless of your class. In fact the greatest privilege that exists is for white folk to get stopped by a cop and not end up dead when the encounter is over.
Those binoculars are also stories, bad stories, biased stories, harmful stories, about how black people are lazy, or dumb, or slick, or immoral, people who can’t be helped by the best schools or even God himself. These beliefs don’t make it into contemporary books, or into most classrooms. But they are passed down, informally, from one white mind to the next.
The problem is you do not want to know anything different from what you think you know. Your knowledge of black life, of the hardships we face, yes, those we sometimes create, those we most often endure, don’t concern you much. You think we have been handed everything because we have fought your selfish insistence that the world, all of it — all its resources, all its riches, all its bounty, all its grace — should be yours first, and foremost, and if there’s anything left, why then we can have some, but only if we ask politely and behave gratefully.
So you demand the Supreme Court give you back what was taken from you: more space in college classrooms that you dominate; better access to jobs in fire departments and police forces that you control. All the while your resentment builds, and your slow hate gathers steam. Your whiteness has become a burden too heavy for you to carry, so you outsource it to a vile political figure who amplifies your most detestable private thoughts.
Whiteness is blindness. It is the wish not to see what it will not know.
If you do not know us, you also refuse to hear us because you do not believe what we say. You have decided that enough is enough. If the cops must kill us for no good reason, then so be it because most of us are guilty anyway. If the black person that they kill turns out to be innocent, it is an acceptable death, a sacrificial one.
You cannot know what terror we live in. You make us afraid to walk the streets, for at any moment, a blue-clad officer with a gun could swoop down on us to snatch our lives from us and say that it was because we were selling cigarettes, or compact discs, or breathing too much for your comfort, or speaking too abrasively for your taste. Or running, or standing still, or talking back, or being silent, or doing as you say, or not doing as you say fast enough.
You hold an entire population of Muslims accountable for the evil acts of a few. Yet you rarely muster the courage to put down your binoculars, and with them, your corrosive self-pity, and see what we see. You say religions and cultures breed violence stoked by the complicity of silence because peoples will not denounce the villains who act in their names.
Yet you do the same. You do not condemn these cops; to do so, you would have to condemn the culture that produced them — the same culture that produced you. Black people will continue to die at the hands of cops as long as we deny that whiteness can be more important in explaining those cops’ behavior than the dangerous circumstances they face.
You cannot know how we secretly curse the cowardice of whites who know what I write is true, but dare not say it. Neither will your smug insistence that you are different — not like that ocean of unenlightened whites — satisfy us any longer. It makes the killings worse to know that your disapproval of them has spared your reputations and not our lives.
You do not know that after we get angry with you, we get even angrier with ourselves, because we don’t know how to make you stop, or how to make you care enough to stop those who pull the triggers. What else could explain the white silence that usually greets these events? Sure, there is often an official response, sometimes even government apologies, but from the rest of the country, what? We see the wringing of white hands in frustration at just how complex the problem is and how hard it is to tell from the angles of the video just what went down.
We feel powerless to make our black lives matter. We feel powerless to make you believe that our black lives should matter. We feel powerless to keep you from killing black people in front of their loved ones. We feel powerless to keep you from shooting hate inside our muscles with well-choreographed white rage.
But we have rage, too. Most of us keep our rage inside. We are afraid that when the tears begin to flow we cannot stop them. Instead we damage our bodies with high blood pressure, sicken our souls with depression.
We cannot hate you, not really, not most of us; that is our gift to you. We cannot halt you; that is our curse.July 7th, 2016
By SAM POLK
NY Times Published: JULY 7, 2016
WHEN I was a 27-year-old bond trader at Bank of America, I went to dinner with a managing director and a high-profile client, both men, at a Brazilian all-you-can-eat meat restaurant in Manhattan. The waitress came by to see if we wanted another round of drinks. When she was out of earshot, the client said, “I’d like to bend her over the table, give her some meat.” They laughed. I forced a smile. On the way home, I fumed. I was troubled by the comment, and disgusted by the man who said it. But I was angry with myself. Why hadn’t I said anything?
For my entire life, I’ve heard men talk about women. On baseball fields, in wrestling locker rooms, at frat parties and in private conversations, I’ve listened to men dissect women into body parts. When I was younger, I did it, too. Casually objectifying women — speaking in an unguarded way, using language we never would in mixed company — brought us together.
Yet, the everyday sexism I saw, and participated in, during high school and college was nothing compared with what I witnessed on Wall Street.
During my first summer as a trading desk intern at Credit Suisse First Boston, I was walking through Midtown with a managing director when he sped ahead of me to look at a woman. “I had to get a look at those tits,” he said. I often heard men say about female colleagues, “I’d like to get behind that.”
Women on Wall Street widely report experiencing overt sexism. A bond trader friend received a smaller-than-expected bonus after refusing to sleep with her boss, and soon quit. Another friend sued her employer, a major bank, after it took away all her major clients on her return from maternity leave.
But most of the sexism on Wall Street occurs when women aren’t in the room. “Bro talk” produces a force field of disrespect and exclusion that makes it incredibly difficult for women to ascend the Wall Street ladder. When you create a culture where women are casually torn apart in conversation, how can you ever stomach promoting them, or working for them? There are many reasons that men still overwhelmingly populate trading floors and boardrooms, but this is one that has gotten too little attention.
A woman has never been the chief executive of a major investment bank. Only about 2 percent of hedge fund managers are women. During my years on Wall Street I never saw a woman run a trading or sales desk, which is the first step toward executive management.
Wall Street’s sexism isn’t just unethical — it’s bad for the industry’s bottom line. Studies show that investment groups that have more female managers perform better than those without them. In a culture that claims to value meritocracy, Wall Street is more like the Andover lacrosse team — meritocratic, perhaps, but only among a small subset of the population.
The promulgation of diversity committees and women’s leadership summits and inclusion training suggests that there is some institutional acknowledgment of this sexism. Yet, these things have resulted in little change. What we need is something simpler: individuals speaking up and challenging norms, especially when it’s uncomfortable. So far, women have done the heavy lifting. They’ve written the articles, filed the lawsuits and raised awareness. Men rarely do or say anything.
Why not? Because it feels really good to be in the in-crowd. A few years ago, when I heard reports that Yale fraternity brothers had marched through campus chanting, “No means yes, yes means anal,” I was aghast. At the same time, I understood the thrilling camaraderie those young men must have felt from joining together to say something obscene, and to recognize that our culture had granted them that power.
Men have been inculcated by dads and coaches with an ideal of masculinity and male bonding that includes, and even revolves around, the objectification of women. I knew from a young age that my dad was a “tit man.” My high school baseball coach often talked about which senior girls had the best bodies. In many ways, objectifying women was the rite of passage through which I entered the world of men.
That helps explain why I stood silent hundreds of times as men objectified and degraded women. Protesting would have violated the sanctity of the men-only space, and would have risked interfering with the bonding that goes hand in hand with the objectification of the other sex. It would have been embarrassing and emasculating. And it would have been bad for my career.
From the moment I began working on the Street, the crucial importance of fitting in was communicated to me. During my summer internship at Credit Suisse, the human resources representative told me that whether I received a job offer would not be based on my intelligence, but whether the traders liked me. It was a social test, not an intellectual one. The trading desk I worked on that summer consisted of 15 male traders, and one very junior female trader. To get a job, I needed to become one of the guys.
It’s hard to violate social norms; it’s even harder when doing so means jeopardizing millions of dollars in future earnings. For an intern, a connection with a managing director can mean a foothold in one of the most lucrative career paths in the world. And the pressure to conform doesn’t end once you get a job. The difference in pay between your current role and the one just above it is usually several hundred thousand dollars per year, and often several million. That’s partly why Wall Street, which is often portrayed as a swashbuckling, take-no-prisoners culture, is actually a culture of brutal conformity. Traders and bankers wear the same shirts and the same shoes, and almost never contradict their bosses.
In my experience, the misogyny often comes from bosses; denigrating women is the mechanism through which they connect with their subordinates. At one of the firms I worked for, a senior executive asked me, “Did you get laid last night?” When I responded no, he said: “Too bad. When I was your age, it was like shooting fish in a barrel.” I faked a smile — I felt that I had to.
But a few years after I left Wall Street, when my wife was pregnant with our first child, and we learned that it was going to be a girl, I burst into tears. My daughter would soon enter a world not just of unequal pay and unequal opportunity, but one in which almost 20 percent of women are raped, and a quarter of girls are sexually abused.
If you think that this violence has nothing to do with bro talk, you’re wrong. When we dehumanize people in conversation, we give permission for them to be degraded in other ways as well. And even if we don’t participate, our silence condones this language. I deeply regret remaining quiet while women were being disparaged during my eight years as a trader.
If hedge fund founders, managing directors and desk heads instituted a zero-tolerance policy for this behavior in their ranks, it would help engender a culture of respect for women on Wall Street. And if men of status in our wider culture — managers, coaches, politicians, celebrities — insisted that women were spoken not just to, but about, with respect, that would help create a culture where it’s not so scary to be the parent of a daughter.July 7th, 2016
Closing Reception for Peter Shire | Cups
Sunday July 10. 3:30 to 5 pm.
Peter will be signing a free edition of 100 broadside posters printed by Pat ReaghJuly 7th, 2016
By Joseph Cerna
LA Times Published: July 5, 2016
Two electrocuted bear cubs fell from a power pole in Banning and sparked a brush fire Tuesday before their dead bodies were dragged away by their mother, who sought to shield them from firefighters, authorities said.
The mother bear and her cubs had been wandering in a rural section of Banning near Bluff Street when the cubs climbed a power pole and touched a transformer around 1 a.m., according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan.
They were about 6 months old and weighed 20 pounds each.
When they were electrocuted, both cubs’ fur caught fire and they fell to the ground, igniting the brush and grass around them, Riverside County firefighters said. But when firefighters showed up to put out the flames, they first had to deal with the mama bear, Hughan said.
“She was making noises you know, [like] ‘stay away from my babies,’ so firefighters just backed off [and] kept the fire from getting worse,” Hughan said.
The mother eventually dragged both cubs’ bodies a couple hundred yards deep into the brush where she’ll likely bury them, Hughan said. Officials decided the cubs’ bodies were far enough away that they don’t pose a public safety threat if they’re left there, he said.
The brush fire ignited by the bears grew to 1 1/2 acres before it was contained, authorities said.
A game warden speculated the mother bear may have seen a male bear in the area and urged her cubs to climb the pole to avoid the threat, Hughan said.
Hughan said he’s rarely, if ever, seen bears climb a power pole like the two that did Tuesday morning.July 5th, 2016