WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Open Friday / Weekend Forum

So, which stories / issues / topics are uppermost on your minds?

The nation's official unemployment rate falls to 7.7% - the lowest official jobless rate since 2008 - as the U.S. economy adds 236-thousand jobs. But, of course, the official rate only reflects the Americans actively seeking employment, while millions of discouraged people have stopped looking for work. Still, the figures would tend to confirm what many Americans were thinking about the economy last November, that the economy was headed in the right direction, and they'd give the President the benefit of the doubt.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished with a record close for three consecutive sessions. Let's see what happens this Friday.

Here in Delaware, the courtship between the Markell Administration and Houston-based, Kinder Morgan over securing a long-term lease for the Port of Wilmington has hit the skids. DEDO Director Alan Levin says the deal is dead. Kinder Morgan officials appear to leave open a sliver of hope. Kinder Morgan officials assigned blame to the head of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1694-1, Julius Cephas. Kinder Morgan's president of terminals, John Schlosser, declared Cephas had shown a hostility that made it impossible for Kinder Morgan to have a productive relationship with its future work force.

Earlier, Delaware legislators okayed a measure mandating legislative approval of any lease deal. Some of those lawmakers declared they would not approve any deal without union support. State Senator Bobby Marshall (D-Wilmington) spearheaded that legislation and congratulated Cephas.

One extremely interesting point in John Schlosser's letter to Alan Levin: "Mr. Cephas has repeatedly refused to meet with us and instead publicly attacked our company for months in the press and with legislators -- apparently teaming up with at least one of the failed bidders to do so."

Levin says he has no immediate plans to initiate a search for another private partner.

This entire episode exposes a breach between the Markell Administrations and the labor unions. The Markell Administration insists the Port of Wilmington needs an infusion of cash to remain viable, and that means partnering with a private firm because the state can't afford it. Although Kinder Morgan pledged to maintain workers for three years, the Longshoremen feared Kinder Morgan would axe workers after that and go after the union. People like DEDO Director Alan Levin and Delaware State Chamber of Commerce V.P. Rich Heffron argue competitive pressures will decimate the Port of Wilmington without a major cash infusion, and those union jobs will disappear anyway. Once again, the consequences of globalization.

You can hear my full interview with DEDO Director Alan Levin...

Audio Here

A downstate senator, Gerald Hocker (R-Ocean View), seeks to bring back firearm background checks by Delaware authorities that were dropped only last year. Governor Markell advocated legislation where state agencies transmitted qualifying mental health information into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's database, which is used nationally to check out would-be gun-buyers. But the legislation also dropped Delaware's background check database. Hocker argues the redundancy would be worth it. Dems see it as a poison pill.

Wilmington City Council members are considering a package of gun-control measures in an effort to address the city's shootings. One part: Residents would have to register their firearms with the Wilmington Police Department. Critics say City Council would be overreaching.

Set your clocks and watches one hour before retiring Saturday night. We're going to Daylight Saving Time. I hate it. Wish we just stayed one time or the other year-round.

Roman Catholic cardinals will begin their conclave to choose the next Pope this coming Tuesday. Some hints that the U.S. and German cardinals were fighting the "Curial" cardinals (the Vatican / Holy See bureaucracy) over accountability for such things as the Vatican Bank. By that line of reasoning, the Americans and the Germans - along with some others - favored a longer pre-conclave period so they could get to know one another. Remember, technically, the conclave itself in the Sistine Chapel takes place under an aura of prayer and silence, not debate. By some reports, the cardinals seek a pontiff combining the charisma of Pope John Paul II with grit and the ability to knock heads: "Pope Rambo I", said one Vatican analyst.

Italian media reports suggest the cardinals may be promoting "tickets" -- A pastoral, charismatic pope paired with a bulldog of a secretary of state who could knock heads in the bureaucracy of the Holy See.

Before the Holy See imposed a media blackout on Cardinals - particularly the Americans - several cardinals expressed anguish over Italian media reports about a secret dossier given to Benedict XVI... said to contain evidence of sexual and financial blackmail.

An Obama has lost an election -- in Kenya. The President's half-brother came in a distant third in the race to be governor of Siaya County, in western Kentucky. Malik Obama had credited his half-brother Barack with inspiring him to run.

The nation's most restrictive abortion law - a near-ban on abortions from the 12th week of pregnancy - is taking effect in Arkansas, barring a court intervention. Lawmakers in the G.O.P.-dominated Arkansas legislature overrode a veto from Democratic Governor Mike Beebe. The governor declared the anti-abortion measures would waste taxpayers' money as the state would have to defend the restrictions in court, with an overturn in the end anyway.

According to The TAMPA BAY TIMES, a Florida doctor sent his pregnant patient an e-mail saying he'd call police to bring her to the hospital, after she refused to undergo a C-section a week AFTER her due date. When Lisa Epsteen, 35, became pregnant with her fifth child, she decided to have a vaginal birth despite having given birth by caesarean four previous times.

Tensions escalate dramatically on the Korean peninsula: North Korea threatens a preemptive nuclear attack on the United States (Not that Pyongyang has that capability at this point!). North Korea has also nullified all non-aggression agreements with South Korea. South Korea declared that if Pyongyang were to attack South Korea with nukes, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "will be erased from the earth."

You can hear my interviews about North Korea with Korea expert Ed Baker with Harvard's Korea program and CBS News U.N. reporter / foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk...

Audio Here

Looks like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez - following the end of his life on this earth - will have something in common with Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Ho Chi Minh: Chavez's remains will be preserved and forever displayed inside a glass tomb for all to see. Look for no improvement in U.S.--Venezuelan relations under acting President Nicholas Maduro, who has perpetuated conspiracy theories about the United States (although ensuring the continued flow of Venezuelan oil to the United States). By all reports, Chavez died of massive heart attack after considerable suffering.

Posted at 10:43am on March 8, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 11:16am

The world has lost a compassionate and heroic leader in Hugo Chavez.

While American-controlled oil is used to perpetuate vast wealth for shareholders, President Chavez nationalized his country's oil supplies and used the proceeds to provide food and health clinics for Venezuela's impoverished children. Chavez dedicated his life to helping the poor, and giving all children an equal opportunity in life.

Chavez was one of the world's few leaders courageous enough to stand up against American/European imperialism. He famously and accurately referred to George W. Bush as "the devil" after Bush spoke at the United Nations in 2006.

While Chavez's material remains will lie in state, his legacy will live on, in all the disadvantaged people who were helped by Chavez during his presidency.

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 4:36pm
I will not be registering my weapons with the WPD, nor reporting them.

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 10:41pm
I believe that once this bill passes they can walk down your street with gun sniffing dog and determine that guns are on your premises. Depending on how large the fine and how wealthy you are, perhaps you might change your mind... as reality settles in...

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 10:53pm
We tend to think of the US as the perfect place. And comparatively to a lot of other places, it probably is. However, some of the laws we have protecting us here in the US, are our laws prohibiting businesses from doing a lot of terrible stuff. US businesses oversees, do not have a legal entity looking over their shoulder, and can get away with doing a lot of terrible stuff.

Chavez was popular because he stood up to USA Pressure. Of course, many here derided him for it and accented his negatives. He had negatives. His people almost voted him out of office a couple of times. But they revere him for keeping the sharks out of their country. I can certainly sympathize with this because right now, there is tremendous jubilation across New Castle County and the State of Delaware, that we stood up to Kinder Morgan, and they won't be back....

On a much smaller scale, Julius Cephas is sort of like our Chavez. And like Chavez, the corporatists tried to blame him for the deal going south. When actually, it was the fact that DELAWARE WAS GETTING ROYALLY SCREWED OVER by the contract in question....

"Good" won over "evil" this round... It's on to the next one...

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 11:07pm
The psychology of North Korea, must be seen from their perspective. Imagine you are a military officer there, in an environment where literally you can be rounded up one night, and shot with a firing squad, and never know why.

Imagine you have a new leader, who is very young, very impressionable. Who sees things only in black and white....

In that type of environment, being the silent type might get you killed. Being the one getting the president's ear with a grand scheme that flatters him, or upping the general in front of you's idea with one even more bizarre, could not only be a job saver, but a life saver....

In that environment, any military person shrugging it off, will probably be charged by another military person trying to boost his career, with treason...

So, bottom line is you can't take the threats seriously, as we certainly would from China or Russia, were they to mushroom up suddenly.... Like the craziness in Iran, most of the smoke being blowed, is for domestic consumption.

We do want to be set up just in case.... But my guess is that the young leader of North Korea is facing a challenge, and this is a trump card his opponents cannot match....

The smart defensive thing would be to just start bombing North Korea randomly to show his people that swinging at someone even if it is fake, is not always a good idea.

Then the more stable opposition, could take over and slowly bring North Korea back into the realm of peaceful nations.
The thing is, most North Koreans may want peace and prosperity, but... they sure can't voice that opinion and keep their lives....

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 12:48am
So Teatime, are you now a communist?

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 12:50am
Don't be fooled by the 7.7% unemployment rate. The formula for calculating that has been changed to favor the Obama propaganda machine. If it were calculated at the pre-2008 formula, it would be closer to 20%.

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 8:44am
Kavips: You're definitely right about the North Korean people. Unfortunately, the American people are headed in the same direction and don't even realize it.

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 8:46am
It appears the people in Kenya are smarter than Americans. They see an Obama for what it really is.

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 1:10pm
Mr Pizza. Your blame of Obama is not exactly true. There are 6 rates for measuring unemployment. You quote the U6 rate which is at 14% now, and in truth probably corresponds to the methodology used during the Great Depression.


Obama did not change any rates. We have always tracked the U3 rate... Whether Clinton, Bush, or Obama... the other rate as always been "out there" and accompanies every statistical report and is certainly not secret...

It interesting to see, that back when taxes were higher, we had the lowest U6 employment in our lifetimes. As tax rates fell, under the Republican's misguided policies, people got put out of work... and rate never returned to those absolutely awesome tax the rich days when everyone in the economy improved from year to year....

Higher taxes grow jobs.

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 11:23pm
Kavips: If higher taxes grow jobs, then where are the jobs?

Sun, Mar 10, 2013 12:50am
Although the tax increase did not cover enough people as we had planned, still the employment figures show with the increase of taxes on the wealthy one percent, the jobs are growing faster than expected... ...

The jobs are returning because the wealthy are finally creating jobs in order to not pay that money out as taxes.

Sun, Mar 10, 2013 11:29pm
I think George W. Bush would refer to it as "fuzzy math".

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 11:11am
Fuzzy math or blatant manipulation of numbers?
(workforce dropouts are no longer included in the unemployment numbers)

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 3:06pm

Communism would definitely benefit the guy delivering pizzas for $8 per hour.

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 8:02pm
Teatime: How do you know? Do you deliver pizzas? Well, I do and under communism there would be no incentive to be the best at what I do. The fact is, I make at least twice the $8 an hour you think I make, so no, communism would not benefit me.

It's time for you to get rid of your mentality that in order for you to have something, you have to take it away from somebody that has more. There's plenty for everybody. Go out and earn it and stop whining about the rich!

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 8:41am

The rich are not "earning" their vast wealth--you're earning it for them.

The people who own your pizza parlor can put their feet up, relax, not work, and let their delivery people schlep all over town to bring home the money to them. While you are doing all the work delivering pizzas, you keep only a small fraction of the profits, while your owner keeps the vast majority of the profits.

Put another way: those who do not own the means of production (pizza delivery boys) are killing themselves to create vast wealth for those who do own the means of production (pizza shop owners).

The ruling class also owns most of the media to brainwash the pizza delivery boys so they don't even realize that the current system is exploiting the delivery people's labor so that their owners can reap the benefits.

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 6:47pm
Teatime: Have you ever owned or run a business? Well, I/ve owned a couple, and I can guarantee you that overhead is a whole lot higher than profit. If a business brings in gross revenues of, say, $100,000, the profit margin is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $7000 to $9000, if that. You have to pay rent on buildings, electric, water, and all the other stuff that you pay on your private residence but many times over.

As for the owner sitting back on his can, it so happens the owner at my pizza parlor, while I'm sure he's well paid, puts in a whole lot more hours than I do. Also, there's a lot of financial risk involved as many times a business owner is in debt for 15 or 20 years paying back startup costs plus the continued costs of running the business. In the pizza business, there's food cost, refrigerators, ovens, computers, the list of expenses goes on and on.

Personally, I don't care what my boss makes - that's between him and God. And while you think I'm exploited and underpaid, the fact is that I work as unto the Lord, not man, so what I make is irrelevant. I don't measure life totally in dollars and cents, and quite frankly, I live just as good as a millionaire without all the headaches of being one.

So Teatime, why don't you step up to the plate, borrow a couple of million dollars, and start you own business. If you manage to become one of the 5% who actually succeed, then you can be one of these "evil" rich people.

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