High school admin shut down this valedictorian graduation speech

❝ Wyoming Area Secondary Center’s high school valedictorian and class president, Peter Butera, did not mince words during his valedictory speech at his graduation ceremony June 16…Butera — who is due to attend Villanova University come fall — took the opportunity to thank his fellow students and the teachers and administrators who enriched his high school experience — and to stand up to those who had not.


Class president all 4 years of high schoolDave Scherbenco/AP

“Good evening, everyone. The past four years here at Wyoming Area have been very interesting to say the least. To give you an idea of what it was like, I’m going to take this time to tell you all a bit about what my Wyoming Area experience was like and the people who were a part of it.

I would like to start off by thanking my mom, my dad, and my baba, who have raised me since the day I was born and have helped me become the person I am today. Every one of us graduating have those special people in our lives that care for us every day, and love us unconditionally. And to all of you here today, we cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve done for us.

I would now like to recognize a few teachers who are extremely committed to their jobs as educators, and have worked to make me and many others, better students every day: Mr. Hizynski, Mr. Pizano, and Mr. Williams. In addition to these three, there are a number of other very good teachers at our school as well. It is dedicated teachers like these that truly help to develop students and prepare them to further their educations.

Not only does Wyoming Area have some great teachers, but a couple great administrators as well. Mr. Quaglia had been our principal for 3.5 years, and was as great a leader as they come, always extremely caring and reasonable. Over the summer, our school hired a new principal, Mr. Pacchioni, and despite the hesitancy that some students may have had about getting a new principal our senior year, he quickly put that to rest by coming in and always looking out for the students here since day 1.

Throughout my time at Wyoming Area, I have pursued every leadership opportunity available to me. In addition to being a member of Student Council since I was a freshman, my classmates have also elected me Class President the past 4 years, which has been my greatest honor, and I would like to thank you all for that one final time, it really means a lot. However, at our school, the title of Class President could more accurately be Class Party Planner, and Student Council’s main obligation is to paint signs every week. Despite some of the outstanding people in this school, a lack of real student government and the authoritative attitude that a few teachers, administrators, and board members have, prevents students from truly developing as leaders.

Hopefully in the future, this will change. Hopefully for the sake of future students, more people of power within this school, who do not do so already, will begin to prioritize education itself as well as the empowering of students. Because at the end of the day, it is not what we have done as Wyoming Area students or athletes that will define our lives, but what we will go on to do as Wyoming Area Alumni. And I hope that every one of my fellow classmates today, as well as myself, will go on to do great things in this world, and find true happiness and success. Thank you all for coming out to this great celebration today.”

I’m hard-pressed to understand why the drones in charge of education in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, felt they had to shut this lad’s speech down. When I graduated high school – a couple centuries ago in the bowels of McCarthyism – I think there were plenty of schools with sufficient gumption and commitment to traditional American ideals to support a speech like this one.

More than ever, I fear for the future of American education if this pretty moderate challenge to obedience is considered dangerous enough to pull the plug on the sound system.

Where is Global Growth Happening?


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❝ According to forecasts from earlier this year by the World Bank, the global economy is expected to average a Real GDP growth rate of 2.8% between 2017-2019.

But where will this growth actually happen? Is it in giant countries that are growing at a stable 2% clip, or is it occurring in the smaller emerging markets where 8% growth is not uncommon?

❝ Today’s chart looks at individual countries between 2017-2019, based on their individual growth projections from the World Bank, to see where new wealth is being created.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Colorado hasn’t reached peak pot sales, yet!


Colorado regulators tour grow facilityAP/Kristen Wyatt

❝ Three years, billions of dollars, and thousands of new jobs into Colorado’s legal marijuana experiment, we’re still nowhere near the economic ceiling of retail cannabis.

New monthly revenue figures indicate the state is on track to exceed last year’s massive sales totals for medical and recreational weed. Retail stores sold more than $125 million in product statewide in April, The Cannabist calculates based on state revenue numbers.

❝ Through the first four months of 2017, the state has collected over $76 million in taxes and fees on almost half a billion dollars in sales.

The figures project out to a wild increase over the previous year’s sales and revenue numbers. Raw-dollar sales totals are up about 27 percent despite falling prices, according to The Cannabist’s metrics.

State revenue collections from taxes and licensing fees are almost 50 percent above where they stood at the same point a year earlier. Colorado ended up netting about $199 million in public revenue from cannabis that year…

❝ Colorado’s own industry won’t keep lapping itself like this perpetually, of course. At some point — when enough other states have legalized, and when Coloradans have fully abandoned the black and “gray” markets for weed in favor of the fully sanctioned marketplace — the growth rates will soften.

The real story of the 2017 growth, Marijuana Policy Group research associate Clinton Saloga told ThinkProgress, is that legalization is still moving pot activity out of back alleys and into the light…“The continued rise in sales is due more to people leaving the black market and starting to shop in the regulated market, as opposed to a huge surge in total use,” said Saloga…

❝ Opponents of softer marijuana laws have often argued that decriminalization or legalization will increase usage. That’s not what MPG’s numbers show in Colorado, Saloga said…When masses of smokers, brownie aficionados, and chronic pain sufferers shift their dollars from illicit sources to official ones, they aren’t just providing a “peace dividend” to public spending for schools and other services. They’re depriving the organized drug networks and cartels of a major revenue stream.

Living in New Mexico – a state with a pretty straightforward medical marijuana protocol and with one ailment I recently learned responds well to cannabis treatment – sooner or later I figure I’ll check out the brownie cure. I quit smoking cigarettes 59 years ago. I don’t see myself starting, again, as treatment.

Still, getting our chickenshit politicians over the hump with the example of Colorado just next-door is sort of amazing. Not the Republicans. They’re mostly of the bible-thumping, Tea Party, Earth is 6000 years old variety. Nope, many of our Democrats have a great tradition of understanding class loyalty, supporting essential needs for the mass of low-income families in our state. They just need to get beyond their fear of [1] condemnation by the Catholic Church and [2] doing something newer than the government of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Should be, progressives – who helped drag the Roundhouse, our state legislature, back from a couple years of doing even less for the working class than our do-nothing-for-anyone-who-doesn’t-drill-for-gas-or-oil Republican governor – will succeed in including this issue more pointedly in electoral campaigns over the next few years. Overdue.

China Switches On World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm — On A Lake Over A Closed Coal Mine


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❝ Last week, workers switched on a solar energy plant capable of producing 40 megawatts of power, which floats on a manmade lake in China’s Anhui province near the city of Huainan…The array is the largest floating solar project in the world, though at the brisk pace China is building new renewable projects it’s unlikely to hold that title very long.

❝ Built by the company Sungrow Power Supply, the power plant will produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes…While the company has not revealed the exact size of the operation, it produces twice as much energy as the previous holder of the largest-floating-solar-plant title, which is located in the same area and was launched by the company Xinyi Solar in 2016.

❝ Anhui province is a coal-rich region, and the Sungrow plant is located on a lake that was once the site of intensive mining. Heavy rains filled the area with water…

So why build solar plants on top of lakes and reservoirs?…Building on bodies of water, especially manmade lakes that are not ecologically sensitive, helps protect agricultural land and terrestrial ecosystems from being developed for energy use. The water also cools the electronics in the solar panels, helping them to work more efficiently…

❝ While the floating solar plant is the largest in the world, it pales in comparison to some of China’s non-floating solar projects. The Longyangxia Dam Solar Park on the Tibetan plateau hosts 4 million solar panels that produce 850 megawatts of energy. Even that will soon be eclipsed by a project in the Ningxia Autonomous Region, which will have 6 million solar panels and produce 2 gigawatts of power.

If Trump’s chumps continue to keep the Republican Party in power, say, until 2024 — we may yet see coal become the cheapest source of mediocre construction stone in the United States. Keeping fewer people employed than Arby’s just to maintain welfare checks flowing into certain corporate bank accounts is an important part of the 18th Century lifestyle so beloved of today’s conservative politicians.

Sweden did the opposite of everything Trump proposes — now they’re in an economic boom!


Magdalena Andersson

High taxes, strong unions and an equal distribution of wealth.

That’s the recipe for success in a globalized world, according to Magdalena Andersson, the Social Democratic economist who’s also Sweden’s finance minister.

The 50-year-old has been raising taxes and spending more on welfare since winning power in 2014. She’s also overseen an economic boom, with Swedish growth rates topping 4 percent early last year, that has turned budget deficits into surpluses.

❝ In a world still flinching from the financial crisis that hit a decade ago and the populist wave that followed, Sweden’s economic stewardship holds lessons that challenge the conventional wisdom in the U.S. on how taxes work, according to the Harvard-educated minister. Speaking in an interview in Stockholm, Andersson says success comes down to “three things: It’s the jobs, it’s our welfare and it’s our redistribution.”

❝ It’s the polar opposite of the policy being developed across the Atlantic, where U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping tax cuts, less regulation and new trade deals will produce 3 percent growth within two years. Meanwhile, in Europe, the Nordic model is attracting attention. Emmanuel Macron, who on Sunday defeated Front National’s Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election, has urged his country to look north for ideas on how to organize a society.

❝ Andersson, who lists health care and education, “regardless of how much you earn,” as key to running a successful economy, points to income redistribution as the shield that can keep populist shocks at bay…

The numbers are compelling. Sweden has one of the world’s highest tax burdens, with tax revenue about 43 percent of GDP, according to OECD data. The equivalent figure for the U.S. is about 26 percent. Sweden’s economy has grown almost twice as fast as America’s, expanding 3.1 percent last year, compared with 1.6 percent in the U.S….

Sweden has the highest labor force participation in the European Union. Andersson attributes this to tax-funded parental leave and affordable daycare, which make it easier for both parents to work.

In contrast to most of its European peers, Sweden has budget surpluses. The EU average will be a shortfall of 1.6 percent in 2018, while the estimated deficit in the U.S. of 5.7 percent of GDP…

Taxes are always negative for the folks required to pay the most taxes. Especially if you aren’t allowed loopholes by bought-and-paid-for politicians. Running a nation’s economy to benefit the whole population is nothing that would ever occur to most American politicians – regardless of how often they lie and say that’s exactly what they’re doing. Perish the fact that so-called trickle-down economics have never produced anything other than more wealth for fewer people. And screwed the rest of us.

China, India Reaching Climate Goals Early — Trump’s US Will Fall Short

❝ Gradual reductions in coal in China and India put the two countries on track to better their carbon emissions goals.

According to Climate Action Tracker forecasts, greenhouse gas emissions from both countries are growing more slowly than previously predicted. The difference projects roughly 2 to 3 billion tons annually by 2030.

That would be sufficient to offset the expected underperformance of the U.S. — the number two contributor to world carbon emissions, behind China and ahead of India.

❝ American President Donald Trump rolled back the country’s emission controls, putting U.S. on track to miss its Paris Pledge mark. The U.S. is now on track to emit 400 million metric tons more than previously projected by 2030…

❝ …The other two top emitters are ardently fighting climate change by cutting coal use and boosting renewables. “Five years ago, the idea of either China or India stopping — or even slowing — coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle…

The analysts rated both China and India’s climate plans as “medium,” but said that Trump’s planned policies could downgrade U.S. from “medium” to “inadequate.”

Like most of his projects, you can expect Trump to Fail or Go Bankrupt. Running the US government, he may succeed in doing both in record time.

Americans Have Grown Liberal on Most Cultural Values

❝ Americans continue to express an increasingly liberal outlook on what is morally acceptable, as their views on 10 of 19 moral issues that Gallup measures are the most left-leaning or permissive they have been to date. The percentages of U.S. adults who believe birth control, divorce, sex between unmarried people, gay or lesbian relations, having a baby outside of marriage, doctor-assisted suicide, pornography and polygamy are morally acceptable practices have tied record highs or set new ones this year. At the same time, record lows say the death penalty and medical testing on animals are morally acceptable.

On many of these topics, public acceptance of legality – beyond morality – is even more acceptable. Another giant step. The kicker remains the current power of the gerrymander-kings, the Republican Party, whose viewpoints variously reflect the Confederacy or, say, any Pope before the 20th Century. Tom Price, Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos and their fellow Trumpkins will continue to try their best to outlaw contraceptives, legal weed and public schools. Along with every progressive step into reality ever accompanied by an elevted official in the last 100 years.

Obamacare Helped Cut Personal Bankruptcies in Half — Think the Republican Congress Cares?

❝ As legislators and the executive branch renew their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act…they might want to keep in mind a little-known financial consequence of the ACA: Since its adoption, far fewer Americans have taken the extreme step of filing for personal bankruptcy.

Filings have dropped about 50 percent, from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016…Those years also represent the time frame when the ACA took effect. Although courts never ask people to declare why they’re filing, many bankruptcy and legal experts agree that medical bills had been a leading cause of personal bankruptcy before public healthcare coverage expanded under the ACA. Unlike other causes of debt, medical bills are often unexpected, involuntary, and large…


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❝ The many experts we interviewed also pointed to two other contributing factors: an improving economy and changes to bankruptcy laws in 2005 that made it more difficult and costly to file [another present from Congressional Republicans]. However, they almost all agreed that expanded health coverage played a major role in the marked, recent decline…

It’s not enough that the majority of Americans have a continuing, rising opinion of the ACA. It’s not enough that Trump voters stand to lose more than most if Congressional Republicans destroy this advance in healthcare. We already know the Tea Party dragoons and the so-called moderate leadership of Republicans inside the Washington Beltway really don’t give a damn about working class Americans, working class families. Their lifelong allegiance is solely to that fraction of 1% that actually owns our economy and its wealth.

Have a Republican Senator or Congress-critter? Call ’em up and ask what do they think about the effect Obamacare has had on personal bankruptcy? Enjoy the crap you will be fed/emailed/snail-mailed trying to make the data disappear. Fake news exists to protect incompetent politicians. Ignoring basic, solid data is just another part of their religion.

Oh, and RTFA for all the details you can stick in their ear.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz