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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are you better off?

At this point, the old Reagan line -- "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" -- is the one question Romney and the Republican Party doesn't want Americans to ask, because it's so transparently obvious that national conditions have improved considerably.

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This can apply to Congress, our political moods and our lives...

"I feel personally, in this country, it’s like everybody wants what they want and they want to hold onto exactly the way they have it and ‘Oh my gosh! If it changes, I’m gonna lose out!’ Really? I feel like: let’s look at the bigger picture. Let’s look at the future."

" I get the fear of maybe losing out a little of what you have but at the same time, like, there’s how we don’t grow."

-SAG member Misi Lopez Lecube on merger ballot

Equity for CSN



The Nevada System of Higher Education has three types of institutions: Universities, a State College, and Community Colleges.  

 The Universities engage in research and teaching in the areas of B.A. and graduate degrees.  The State College focuses on a few high demand B.A. degrees, while the Community Colleges provide basic higher education access to all Nevadans.  This includes access to job training, associates degrees, and course work for students transferring to universities. Part and parcel of the access mission is keeping tuition and fees lower in comparison with other institutions; but at CSN, over the past four years, fees and tuition have repeatedly gone up while class sections and student services haven’t sufficiently met demand.  

It is paramount then that any new funding formula address the community college access mission to keep current conditions from becoming the new status quo.  

Unfortunately, the Nevada System of Higher Education funding proposal says nothing about access; instead it relegates most community college classes into the lowest funding category.  As the largest NSHE institution, CSN shouldn’t be relegated to a ‘self-sustaining’ category when other institutions are slated to receive state subsidies for buildings, research, and upper division classes.  

Every Nevada citizen should receive equal help in becoming productive citizens and self-sufficient workers.  

CSN faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to help students successfully achieve their educational goals.  And they have done so under unreasonable funding conditions. This is not just a perception; the Nevada legislature has repeatedly recognized this as a fact.  In June of 2008 then Vice Chancellor Daniel Klaich and CSN President Mike Richards co-wrote a memo formally recognizing CSN’s historic underfunding and vowed to pursue equity payments from the legislature.  Both men followed up with their promise during the 2009 legislative session and more than a few legislators responded by finding extra money for CSN despite bad economic conditions.  Many of the same legislators again came to CSN’s aid in the 2011 legislative session and provided another infusion of equity funding. 

But until now nothing of substance has been done to correct the underlying problems that lead to the underfunding. 

Currently an interim legislative committee is studying Nevada’s higher education funding formula and will either recommend that the formula be revised or replaced.  NSHE officials have proposed a new funding plan, but this proposal does not include any language on CSN’s underfunding nor does it specially ask that the legislature rectify its neglect of CSN’s students, faculty, and staff.  Hopefully, as committee members review options for funding higher education, they will see fit to put CSN on a new course in which students, faculty, and staff receive the resources needed to be successful. 




-James E. Rogers served as interim chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education for five years at no pay.  An active supporter of education, he and his wife, Beverly, have made substantial financial contributions to various colleges and universities. Their gift of $1.5 million to the University of Arizona College of Law is the largest gift to the University of Arizona and the largest gift to any American law school. In November 1998, the Arizona Board of Regents renamed the University of Arizona college of Law James E. Rogers College of Law. Most recently, Rogers was listed as one of the top twelve philanthropists in the Nation by Time Magazine Active in all the communities in which Sunbelt has television stations, Rogers serves as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the University of Nevada, Engineering College in Reno, Nevada (to which he has given or pledged $750,000); is a member of the Dean’s Council of the UNLV College of Law in Las Vegas (to which he has given or pledged $28,500,000); and is a member and President-Elect of the Idaho State University Foundation in Pocatello, Idaho (to which he has given or pledged $20 million. Sunbelt has constructed a building on the campus of Great Basin Community College in Elko, Nevada at a cost to Sunbelt of approximately $1.25 million. This building houses an NBC station and a classroom for teaching communications.

Just for fun (unless you are a dinasaur)


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Koch Brothers Exposed: the Film

The earth under high solar flare exposure (this is a spectrum photo)


The Vagina Monologues at UNLV



When: Mar. 31, 2012, 8pm - 10pm
Campus Location: Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall


Eve Ensler's popular work performed by UNLV student members of P.A.A.V.E. (Peers Advocating Anti-Violence Education) and the Vagina Warriors. 

Admission Information: 
Reserved seat tickets for this event are $10, with no discounts available.

To purchase tickets by phone call  the UNLV Performing Arts Center Box Office at 702-895-2787 (ARTS) or to purchase online visit the UNLV Performing Arts Center Box Office.

Contact Information: 
For more event information contact Caroline Khamis at the Jean Nidetch Womens Center at 702-895-0605.

Event Sponsor: Jean Nidetch Women's Center

The Economy is improving, so attack langage shifts


Left with no choice, Romney pivots on economy


Did you catch Mitt Romney's victory speech in Illinois last night? Echoing the themes -- and at times, the literal phrasing -- of his economic speech at the University of Chicago on Monday, the former governor spoke at length about his vague appreciation for "freedom."

Romney did not, however, do what he spent 2011 doing: he didn't accuse President Obama of making the economy "worse."

How does Romney argue the economy is getting worse? It's simple: he doesn't. The economy is
improving under Obama.
This is not an accident. I first started reporting in January about the subtle -- and at times, not-so-subtle -- shift in Romney's rhetoric about the economy, as the candidate and his campaign began to come to terms with the fact that the recovery is picking up steam. Romney had a choice: stick to a line no one would believe, or adapt to improving circumstances. He chose the latter, and now acknowledges practically every day that the economy is getting better on Obama's watch, while trying to deny the president credit for the progress.

The L.A. Times had a good report on this yesterday, noting that Romney effectively had no choice.
[A]fter months of steady job growth, improved consumer confidence and big gains on Wall Street, the economy seems in less dire need of fixing, and Romney has been forced to alter his message or risk seeming out of touch.

"I believe the economy's coming back," Romney said at a breakfast stop Monday in Springfield, where the former Massachusetts governor campaigned ahead of Tuesday's Illinois primary.

But he gave absolutely no credit to President Obama -- "the economy always comes back after recession" -- and insisted the administration's policies had made matters worse and the recovery slower than it should have been.

Greg Sargent added, "This yet another sign that the Romney campaign is betting heavily on the possibility that the American people won't remember or factor in just how awful a crisis Obama inherited upon taking office."

Quite right. At this point, the old Reagan line -- "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" -- is the one question Romney and the Republican Party doesn't want Americans to ask, because it's so transparently obvious that national conditions have improved considerably.

This is not to say that conditions are good, necessarily, only that they're better. When FDR sought re-election in 1936, the unemployment rate was 17%, but he won re-election in a historic landslide -- not because a 17% unemployment rate was satisfactory, but because Americans realized Roosevelt inherited a crisis and helped get the country back on track.

It was about the direction, not the condition -- like now, the economy went from losing jobs to gaining jobs, from contraction to growth.

It makes Romney's challenge very difficult. His pitch is, in effect, "Sure, Obama inherited a global crash, took steps to turn the economy around, and I'll concede that things are now better. But vote against him anyway because I perceive us lacking ... economic 'freedom.'"

This is the single most important aspect of the 2012 presidential election, and Mitt Romney appears to have found himself without an argument.

Health Care and Pension remain hot issues. Yahoo! origional programming media empire. iPad brings carrier tiered plans to the forefront of consumer costs. Hunger Games a boon for North Carolina location shoots. Sony Shakeup at top.




Photo: Music video performers rally for safe, fair working conditions and health care for AFTRA members. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times



AFTRA Retirement Fund Reaches Pension and Health Settlement. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay $150 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists Retirement Fund and other investors over losses incurred in the midst of the global financial crisis.

The settlement was disclosed in recent filings with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The settlement allows the parties to "avoid the risks and costs associated with trial, as well as potential years of continued litigation on appeal," the plaintiffs said in court documents.

If approved by the court, the settlement would end litigation that began in 2009, when AFTRA's pension fund sued JPMorgan, alleging the firm improperly handled the fund's investments in a securites loan program operated by Sigma Finance Corp., an investment fund created by Gordian Knot Ltd. in London, which collapsed in October 2008. The suit alleged that JPMorgan Chase lost a "substantial portion" in cash collateral in medium-term notes issued by Sigma Finance.
Creditors seized more than $25 billion of Sigma's $27 billion in assets in September and October 2008, leaving about $1.9 billion as security for about $6.2 billion of outstanding medium-term notes.
JPMorgan "buried its head in the sand and refused to heed warnings signs" that the company would not be able to repay its notes, according to the complaint. AFTRA was joined in the suit by pension plans for the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority and the Imperial County Employees Retirement System.
A preliminary hearing on the settelment has been scheduled for June 4.
Representatives of the AFTRA Retirement Fund declined to comment on the settlement or how much of the $150 million it would receive.  AFTRA represents about 70,000 actors, dancers, singers and other performers.  The unions members are voting this month on whether to merge with the larger Screen Actors Guild.
MichaelLynton Photo: Michael Lynton and wife Jamie. Credit: Stefanie Keenan



Sony shake up puts Linton atop all entertainment. Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton will be promoted to chief executive of Sony Corp. of America in a management shuffle that gives him oversight of the entertainment and electronics giant's music businesses, people familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly have confirmed.

The change, expected to be announced shortly, comes amid changes at the top of Sony Corp.'s headquarters in Tokyo, where Kaz Hirai will succeed Howard Stringer as chief executive on April 1. Stringer also had the title that Lynton will assume as head of Sony Corp. of America.

Lynton's ascension signals that he will be Hirai's top lieutenant in the U.S. overseeing all of the company's entertainment businesses, except for video games. That unit, as well as Sony's U.S. electronics operations, will continue to report directly to Tokyo. Hirai started his career in music and spent the past 17 years in top roles at Sony's video game unit.

Lynton will continue to be based at Sony Pictures' Culver City lot, even though Sony Corp. of America is headquartered in New York. He has run the movie and television studio since 2004, alongside co-chairwoman Amy Pascal, after previously working elsewhere in the film, Internet and publishing businesses. He has no experience in music.

Under the new structure, Doug Morris, CEO of Sony Music Entertainment, which sells recorded music to consumers, and Martin Bandier, CEO of the Sony/ATV music publishing division, will report to Lynton.

Nicole Seligman, who is currently executive vice president and general counsel of Sony Corp. of America, will be named president of SCA and run its business operations under Lynton, the people close to the matter confirmed.

Rob Wiesenthal,  SCA's chief financial officer, may transition to a new role at Sony/ATV rather than staying in his current position and working with Lynton.

The corporate changes were first reported by the New York Post and Financial Times.


The Skinny: Apparently I'm not the only one who keeps track of how many times the word "vagina" is used on the CBS sitcom "Two Broke Girls." A media watchdog group has also been keeping tabs. Wednesday's headlines also include how North Carolina is looking to capitalize on "The Hunger Games" and how reruns of "The Big Bang Theory" are paying off big time for TBS.

The Hunger Games
 Photo: "The Hunger Games." Credit: Murray Close/Lionsgate.

Hungry for more. With "The Hunger Games" expected to do huge business when it opens this weekend, North Carolina, the state where the movie was shot, is hoping to benefit as well.  “It shows the industry that North Carolina can handle these large films and that we have the talent and resources to make it work," said Aaron Syrett, director of the North Carolina Film Office. Before "The Hunger Games," North Carolina's biggest movie credits included "Dirty Dancing" and "The Last of the Mohicans." Currently,  Showtime's "Homeland" shoots there and later this year "Iron Man 3" will film there as well. More on North Carolina's plans to woo Hollywood from the Los Angeles Times.

Daily Dose: Eagle-eyed watchers of the television spots for the upcoming "American Pie" sequel "American Reunion" have noticed that a bikini bottom in one of the commercials is actually a "green screen," which is Hollywood lingo for fake. Look closely at the girl with the red string top and green bottom that looks more like a piece of green cardboard hung over her backside. Now I'll have to see the movie just to find out what she was really wearing. Yes, it's a slow morning.


Even an iPad has its limits.
Brandon Wells got the new iPad last Friday, started wirelessly streaming March Madness games the next day and by Saturday night was out of gas. Two hours of college basketball—which he viewed mounted to his car dashboard and live at tournament games—had burned through his monthly wireless data allotment of two gigabytes.
Now, to keep surfing the Web or watch more NCAA hoops over Verizon Wireless's 4G network, Mr. Wells will have to pay an extra $10 for every gigabyte above his current $30 subscription.

It has been only five days since users of Apple Inc.'s AAPL -0.57% newest iPad first took the device out of the box. Some are now finding just how quickly the promise of superfast wireless connections collides with the reality of what those services cost.

The new version of Apple's iPad apparently has a a big appetite when it comes to eating through wireless data. The Wall Street Journal said consumers may have to pay more to get larger data plans to watch a lot of video. The opening anecdote is about a guy named Brandon Wells who used up his monthly data plan after watching just two hours of the NCAA basketball tournament. That may sound disturbing to new iPad owners but even more disturbing was that Wells apparently attached the iPad to his car's dashboard to watch the games. Yeah, that sounds safe.

'Big Bang' getting big results. When TBS shelled out $1.5 million per episode for reruns of the CBS comedy "The Big Bang Theory," some were shaking their heads. But now "The Big Bang Theory" is helping to boost TBS' ratings and has turned into a valuable promotional platform for the network's other shows including Conan O'Brien's late night program. Vulture looks at the amazing success of "The Big Bang Theory."

Telling tales. Hollywood is embracing fairy tales. Besides the ABC series "Once Upon a Time" and NBC's "Grimm," new movies "Mirror, Mirror" and “Snow White and the Huntsman" are also looking to children's classics for material. More on the trend from the New York Times.

Yahoo lands big fish. Internet web portal Yahoo continues to make splashy deals in its efforts to build a programming powerhouse. Anthony Zuiker, creator of CBS' "CSI" franchise, has signed on with Yahoo to create a crime drama called "Cybergeddon." Previously, Yahoo landed Tom Hanks to produce an animated series called "Electric City." More on the deal from Variety.

Ellen vs. JLo. Ellen DeGeneres and Jennifer Lopez have more in common than being judges on "American Idol." Both are featured in ad campaigns getting lots of play. DeGeneres is shilling for JCPenney while Lopez has been hawking Fiats and more recently a clothing line from Kohl's. Ad Age compares the two women's marketing prowess and decides that while Lopez may be better on "American Idol," DeGeneres is stronger on Madison Avenue.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: You're not imagining things; the words penis and vagina are popping up more and more in prime time television.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I won't abandon you. Twitter.com/JBFlint