Unsurprisingly, the stocks of major oil producers were in the firing line as their profits are hugely dependent on the price of oil they extract. Royal Dutch Shell, for example, fell 4.3 percent while Total SA dropped 4.1 percent.
Oil prices have taken a battering this year for a variety of reasons including the return of sustained supplies from countries like Iraq and Libya, the increase in shale gas production, particularly in the U.S., as well as signs of a slowdown in some of the world’s leading economies, notably China and Europe.
Analysts think some OPEC countries — Saudi Arabia in particular — don’t mind oil prices falling too far as they could make it uneconomical for shale gas producers. That in the long-run could boost OPEC’s market share.
When T-Mobile US customers exceed their monthly data caps, they aren’t cut off from the Internet entirely. Instead, T-Mobile throttles their connections to 128Kbps or 64Kbps, depending on which plan they have, for the rest of the month.
But T-Mobile has made it difficult for those customers to figure out just how slow their connections are, with a system that exempts speed test applications from the throttling. After complaints from consumer advocates, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigated the issue and has forced T-Mobile to be more honest about its network’s throttled speeds.
Announced today, an agreement between T-Mobile and the FCC ensures that customers will be able to accurately gauge their throttled speeds.
“As part of the agreement, T-Mobile will send text messages to customers that will enable them to more easily get accurate speed information, place direct links to accurate speed tests on customer handsets, and revamp its website disclosures to provide clearer information about the speeds customers actually experience,” The FCC said.
Freshly indicted Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who is said to be so close to running for president again that the people covering him know not to mention the fact that he is freshly indicted, has spent a couple of years traveling the country, trying to poach industries to come to Texas, where they don’t regulate you or tax you, nor do they give a good two hoots about how many of your workers you might accidentally kill. Of course, neglect is the mother of all accidents, and there was that unpleasantness about the fertilizer plant in West, and that was sort of a glitch in the sales pitch. And now, it seems, the Invisible Hand has claimed another couple of victims.
Methyl mercaptan, a foul-smelling gas, overwhelmed five workers at the DuPont chemical plant in La Porte on Nov. 15, killing four - including two brothers - and sending another to the hospital. Such rapid deaths from toxic chemical exposure are rare, experts say. But dozens of times in the past two years, a Texas Tribune analysis shows, plants across Texas have reported accidentally releasing gases that can be deadly in relatively small amounts.
Texas has sold its soul, very willingly, to industries that produce products that kill people, and it has sold its soul to the idea that the average American corporation has a soul to sell Texas in return. Silly Texas. Dead workers are the cost of doing business to these people. Kill a few of them, write a check, craft the ironclad non-disclosure agreement, line up the SLAPP suit just in case, and off we go again.
Today’s Chicago Tribune printed a Reuters story from yesterday, reporting the findings of a study conducted jointly by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government.
Amid talk in Washington about corporate tax reform, the study said the seven companies, which in 2013 reported more than $74 billion in combined U.S. pre-tax profits, came out ahead on their taxes, gaining $1.9 billion more than they owed.
At the same time, the CEOs at each of the seven companies last year was paid an average of $17.3 million, said the study, compiled by two Washington think tanks.
The seven companies cited were Boeing, Ford, Chevron, Citigroup, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase and General Motors.
Verizon is disputing these findings, while most of the others have explanations why they paid so little in taxes.
Elsewhere in today’s Chicago Tribune, there was a story about miserable conditions in American airports.
“If you hate traveling around Thanksgiving because of the crowds and chaos, unfortunately we’re well within sight of a time when it’s going tobe like that every time you head to the airport,” said U.S. Travel Association CEO Roger Dow.
“The U.S. air travel system was once the envy of the world, but now there is not a single U.S. airport ranked in the top 25 worldwide,” Dow said. “Major investments in air travel infrastructure are desperately needed to restore service to even basic levels of adequacy, let alone cope with the expected coming demand.”
Probably no connection whatsoever between these two stories…right?
An airline group, representing six major airlines and parcel services, filed a lawsuit aiming to block the Port of Seattle from implementing a pay increase that would make Seattle-Tacoma airport workers some of the highest paid in the country.
So at first this seems like something which would not be unexpected move by these companies. A dick move to be sure, but not unexpected. But then you get to the next paragraph and find out how much these “highest paid” workers would actually be getting:
Reuters reports that Airlines for America filed the suit to prevent the Port commission, which runs Seattle-Tacoma airport, from increasing airport workers’ pay to $11.22 per hour in January and to $13 per hour in 2017.
For a full time, 40 hour a week job, an hourly wage of $11.22 is equivalent to $21 500a year before ANY deductions.
For a full time, 40 hour a week job, an hourly wage of $13 is equivalent to $24 960 a year before any deductions.
Now, while the $13/hr number might seem borderline workable, it’s important to point out the workers would not get this rate for another THREE years. Once inflation is factored in, $13/hr in 2017 is NOT a high wage.
Heck, I make more than that NOW and my job is not exactly glorious. I keep my bills paid but I still struggle sometime. I can hardly imagine what these people go through.
And of course the airlines are screaming bloody murder, that if god forbid they are forced to pay their employees a couple of dollars more the sky will start falling:
The suit, which was filed in district court in Seattle, argues the wage hikes conflict with state and federal law and labor agreements.
“The rules, unless restrained, will cause irreparable harm to Airlines for America’s member air carriers,” the complaint states.
The industry group includes American Airlines Group, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines Inc. along with delivery services United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp. The suit was joined by Baggage Airline Guest Services, an airport contractor that provides luggage handling and wheelchair escorts to travelers.
The Port commission maintains that it acted within its authority when they passed the pay increase measure back in July, in part to reduce employee turnover rates.
In corporate speak “irreparable harm” means: “It would cost us money and we don’t want to do it.”
What’s even worse about this situation, is that these employees should ALREADY be making higher wages than these companies are suing to stop, but a (likely business “owned”) court put a stop to that for some reason:
In fact, voters in SeaTac, where the Seattle-Tacoma airport is located, approved an initiative last year that increased the minimum wage for many workers to $15 per hour. However, airport employees were later excluded from the increase by a court order.
You’ve got to love how a story like this twists conservatives in pretzels. They’re all about state and local rights but here we have a case when the locals voted FOR THE INCREASE and a court stepped in and blocked it. Of course, since the Republicans love them some corporations I’m sure they’ll find some what to richsplain this one away.
Is this what our nation has come to? Bitter and drawn out legal battles over something as reasonable and rational as an ultimately moderate wage increase?
A pretty poor showing for the self proclaimed Greatest County in The World.
Comcast today said it supports President Obama’s entire network neutrality proposal—except for that part about reclassifying broadband as a utility.
“What is remarkable is that if you compare the President’s articulation of his vision for net neutrality as set forth in the White House talking points released yesterday afternoon, we are on the record as agreeing with every point,” Comcast Executive VP David Cohen wrote in a blog post titled, “Surprise! We agree with the president’s principles on net neutrality.” The areas of agreement between Comcast and Obama are as follows, he wrote:
Free and open Internet. We agree—and that is our practice.
No blocking. We agree—and that is our practice.
No throttling. We agree—and that is our practice.
Increased transparency. We agree—and that is our practice.
No paid prioritization. We agree—and that is our practice.
Comcast has to follow net neutrality rules until 2018 because of conditions imposed on its purchase of NBCUniversal. Net neutrality rules that apply to all ISPs would put Comcast and its competitors on a level playing field in that regard. But Obama and Comcast disagree on how to implement them. Obama said that the Federal Communications Commission needs to reclassify consumer broadband service as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act in order to impose these rules.
The Republicans aren’t the only ones who have extortion as a guiding philosophy.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said today that his company will “pause” investments in fiber networks until the net neutrality debate is over. The statement came two days after President Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify broadband as a utility and impose bans on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.
“We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed,” Stephenson told investors, according to Reuters. “We think it is prudent to just pause and make sure we have line of sight and understanding as to what those rules would look like.” Stephenson was speaking at a Wells Fargo event.
AT&T said in April that it would “expand its ultra-fast fiber network to up to 100 candidate cities and municipalities nationwide,” but it never promised to build in all of them. Buildouts were dependent on local officials cooperating with the company. AT&T has also claimed that it will bring fiber to “two million additional locations” if the federal government approves its purchase of DirecTV. But AT&T has never said how many customers will get AT&T fiber if the deal isn’t approved, making it impossible to judge whether the potential investment would be an increase over existing plans.
It seems market forces have decided that “Drill Baby Drill” is a mere catch phrase and nothing more. Just like “Keystone means more oil for the US” nonsense.
Oil is not a right-wing God’s gift. Oil is in fact nothing more than another commodity whose price, production quantity, and shipping means are determined by man’s market forces. Now it seems that profits for the already wealthy are again more important than providing cheap oil to the Fox News-watching middle class. Somehow I suspect Fox News and other right wing outlets will again try and blame Obama for gas prices remaining high despite the big oil corporations mothballing their rigs and refineries all by themselves. Reality and real world economic theory have little to no bearing on their mindset and dreams of a Libertarian Utopia where oil runs free in streams directly into a gasoline engine. Just blame the gub’ment and especially Obama. it’s worked for them in spades for 6 years..
Comcast has won approval of its Time Warner Cable purchase in one of the cities that most vehemently objected to it.
Three weeks ago, the City Council in Worcester, MA voted 8-3 to urge the city manager to deny a transfer of the city’s cable TV license from Charter to Comcast. Charter is involved in the Comcast/TWC merger through a series of customer swaps that are contingent on the main deal.
One Worcester councilor called Comcast “a terrible company” and said “they should not be welcome in this city.”
But today, City Manager Edward Augustus announced that “he will approve Comcast Corporation’s application to take over the city’s cable franchise after the company made several commitments that will protect Worcester jobs and valuable local news programming,” according to a press release issued by the city. “After a series of discussions with Augustus, Comcast has agreed to maintain the Worcester call center—which is currently operated by Charter and employs more than 150 people—and has pledged to continue to provide locally produced news.”
Comcast promised to maintain the local call center for at least three years. “Comcast has committed to continue a nightly news program, The Mayor’s Forum and coverage of local sports equivalent to what is currently offered,” the announcement said. “In the event Comcast wants to transition these programs in the future, it will be required to meet with the City Manager and offer suitable, mutually agreeable alternatives to ensure Worcester continues to have a strong local news presence.”
In two southern matchups - Louisiana and Georgia - polls show the races are too tight to call, raising the potential for run-off elections that could delay for weeks knowing who will control Congress’ upper chamber. Louisiana’s run-off election is scheduled for Dec. 6. In the market’s worst-case scenario, the majority party may not be known until after Jan. 6, when Georgia will hold its run-off election if no Senate candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 4.
Such an outcome, while considered unlikely, nevertheless rekindles uncomfortable memories for some of the 2000 presidential election, when George W. Bush’s victory over Al Gore was not confirmed for more than a month after Election Day. That uncertainty contributed to a spike of almost 11.2 percent in the CBOE Volatility index .VIX and a 7.6 percent drop in the S&P 500 .SPX from Election Day through the Electoral College vote in late December that certified the outcome.