Neighbor complaining of traffic wants Canfield light display regulated

New Canfield City Manager Wade Calhoun said there are no plans to regulate the Christmas lights, which he said are positive for the community
By Stan Boney Published: January 9, 2018, 10:16 pm Updated: January 9, 2018, 10:53 pm

Drivers crowd Canfield neighborhood lit up with Christmas cheer

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – A woman wants the mega Christmas light display involving 14 houses in one Canfield neighborhood regulated — a request that’s not likely going to happen.

The Christmas lights are still in the yards along Fairview Avenue because the weather’s been too cold to take them down.

But at the Canfield City Council meeting last week, Jeanne Neville made her case.

“These displays are very attractive but to those who live close by, they are irritating and they are limiting to family life,” she told council members.

Her main issue is the traffic — 500 vehicles on a busy night. Neville wants regulations similar to the garage sale ordinance, limiting days and hours and charging for permits.

“If Canfield doesn’t want this, it’s time to move it on,” said Mike McAndrew, who runs the Canfield Christmas Lights.

He wants to keep the display in Canfield and new City Manager Wade Calhoun said there are no plans to regulate it.

“The consensus is this is something that’s positive for the community, positive for the City of Canfield,” Calhoun said. “We draw residents from inside the Valley, Salem, Alliance, even outside the Valley.”

He said Neville’s complaint is the only one he’s heard but at the council meeting, President John Morvay said there have been others.

“We understand the issue because this isn’t the first time it’s been brought up and Jeanne’s not been the first person to approach me with this issue.”

Multiple complaints or not, the Canfield Christmas Lights are being courted by city officials. If anything, the display may get bigger.

“I’ve been contacted by at least a dozen neighbors in the neighborhood, back on Hood [Drive] and back on Fairview here that wish to participate. It is very realistic I could go around the entire block,” McAndrew said.

“If the worst thing Canfield’s known for is having a real nice Christmas light display in our community, that’s a pretty good thing to be known for,” Calhoun said.

McAndrew bought the Noah’s Ark display that was once used at Yellow Duck Park and said he may have it ready to go next year.

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Pfizer, pocketing a big tax cut from Trump, will end investment in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research

By Michael Hiltzik
Jan 08, 2018 | 2:50 PM
Not so much a drug company as a financial engineering company, Pfizer is bailing out of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s research. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)
With every passing day, it becomes clearer who’s reaping the benefit of the huge tax cut handed over to American corporations by the Republican-dominated Congress in December.
Spoiler alert: Not workers or customers, but shareholders, especially the rich ones. (Don’t be fooled by those $1,000 bonuses handed out by a few big companies anxious to curry favor with the Trump White House — if they were serious about improving their employees’ lot they’d distribute the money in the form of permanent raises, not a bonus that you can safely bet will be a distant memory by this time next year.)
The big drug company Pfizer seems intent on being a pace-setter in cranking out the benefits of the tax cut to stakeholders who need them the least. In an announcement over the weekend, Pfizer said it was shutting down its research efforts on treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinsonism. The company didn’t say how much it was spending on the two conditions, but said about 300 researchers will lose their jobs as it redirects its research and development budget elsewhere.
It’s really alarming to see such a large pharmaceutical company deciding to abandon research into the brain and central nervous system.

James Beck, chief scientific officer, Parkinson’s Foundatio

“Pfizer routinely reviews its R&D pipeline,” the company said in its formal statement of the change. It said it was continuing its R&D programs for the drugs tanezumab and Lyrica. That’s a bit of non sequitur, since the first is a treatment for chronic pain from osteoporosis and other conditions and the latter is a drug for nerve pain caused by diabetes, shingles and spinal cord injury and is an anti-seizure medication for epilepsy patients. They do both fall within the neurology field, however, which also encompasses Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Pfizer’s announcement dismayed advocates for victims of central nervous system diseases, which have presented researchers with some of the most intractable challenges in the healthcare field.
Pfizer shows that its Allergan merger was only a tax dodge
Apr 06, 2016 | 1:08 PM
“It’s really alarming to see such a large pharmaceutical company deciding to abandon research into the brain and central nervous system,” James Beck, chief scientific officer at the Parkinson’s Foundation, told me Monday. “It’s telling for how difficult it is to do research into neurodegenerative diseases.” Of even greater concern, he said, is that “having Pfizer exit does not augur well for what other companies are likely to do.”
Pfizer’s move also raises questions about what role Big Pharma should play in drug R&D, especially for conditions without known treatments or those with relatively few sufferers.
Research into these two diseases is about as risky as one could imagine, since no treatment thus far has been shown to have any promise in curing either disease or averting its onset; some drugs may delay symptoms for up to a year or temporarily alleviate symptoms, but patient advocates consider those to be modest advances at best.
On the other hand, an Alzheimer’s cure would be the very definition of a blockbuster drug, since 5.5 million Americans are known to suffer from the disease and the patient base is expected to expand markedly as the population ages. Parkinson’s afflicts about 1 million Americans, the Parkinson’s Foundation says.
Normally, that would place this research right in Pfizer’s wheelhouse. The company is explicit about basing its R&D strategy on drugs with “multi-billion dollar blockbuster potential,” as its R&D chief, Mikael Dolsten, told a J.P. Morgan healthcare conference on Monday.
The economic riddle for 2018: Will the middle and working classes see any gains from the big tax cut?
Dec 28, 2017 | 6:00 AM
No one would say that drug companies should engage in research as a philanthropic exercise, but within the context of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, Pfizer looks risk-averse. The second-biggest U.S. drug company by sales (after Johnson & Johnson), Pfizer in recent years seems to have devoted more effort to financial engineering than biomedical engineering. In 2015, for instance, it announced a $160-billion merger with Allergan, the maker of Botox. The deal was a so-called inversion, aimed transparently at cutting Pfizer’s tax bill in part by eliminating U.S. tax on $147 billion in profits it had stashed overseas.
Although the company denied that the deal was “simply… a tax transaction,” the truth emerged in 2016 when the deal was canceled; the only thing that had changed was that the U.S. Treasury had implemented new rules that all but eliminated the tax savings. So, bye-bye, Allergan.
Pfizer is expected to be among the prime beneficiaries of the corporate tax cut. The measure allows companies to pay a tax rate as low as 8% on foreign earnings they bring home, a big discount from the 21% top rate the law assesses on domestic earnings, itself a big cut from the previous rate of 35%. By some estimates, that could be worth more than $5 billion to Pfizer alone, not counting any gains from the lower tax rate.
As it happens, Pfizer signaled how it would apply the tax savings even before the final passage of the tax bill: The company announced a $10-billion share buyback on Dec. 18, four days before President Trump signed the tax cut into law. That buyback was on top of $6.4 billion left to be spent from a previous buyback plan, and was accompanied by a 6% increase in the company’s stock dividend, which will be worth roughly another half-billion dollars a year.
For comparison’s sake, Pfizer’s entire research and development budget averaged about $8 billion a year from 2014 through 2016.
Pfizer’s diversion of its tax break to shareholders parallels its behavior the last time American companies received a tax holiday on repatriated foreign earnings. That was in 2004, after corporations promised to apply their tax savings to hiring more workers and investing in their business. Instead, they laid off workers, bought back their shares, and pumped up their CEO compensation.
Pfizer brought home more than any other company in that amnesty, $35.5 billion, according to a 2007 investigation by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. From 2004 through 2007, Levin reported, Pfizer bought back more than $27 billion in stock and reduced employment by 11,748 workers.
This time around, the company is again gifting its shareholders and laying off workers. Abandoning a challenging research field is a new wrinkle, however.
What’s most discouraging to patient advocates is the dearth of alternatives to big pharmaceutical companies in brain research. Pfizer’s withdrawal, especially if it prompts other big pharma companies to flee the field, places more of the burden on small biotech firms, academia, foundations and government. The news “reinforces the urgent need for additional federal investment in Alzheimer’s research,” a spokesman for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America told me. But the Trump administration has placed funding for government research projects in almost all scientific fields on the chopping block.
Some experts recognize that the big drug companies may have been less than sturdy partners all along. “Many groups have been hoping for quick wins in the [central nervous system] space and we haven’t succeeded,” Beck of the Parkinson’s Foundation says, “so there’s some frustration from the viewpoint of management that we’re not getting the progress we need.”
He says his organization and others will still focus on the most promising pathway to a cure: Trying to understand the mechanisms of these diseases, which are still very murky. Only once those riddles are solved can drug research truly move ahead.
But as long as purely economic considerations drive drug R&D, the prospects for progress are dim. The Republicans who drafted the corporate tax cut promised that it would lead to more business investment and therefore economic growth. But as Pfizer demonstrates, all the incentives run in the opposite direction: More investment in shareholder welfare, less economic growth, and less attention to what corporations are supposed to exist for — improving people’s lives.

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“An Idiot Surrounded by Clowns”: Why Trump (Still) Sits in the White House

by Paul Street

Most of the media’s attention on journalist Michael Wolff’s “explosive” new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House has focused on the disclosure that Trump’s former political strategist Steve Bannon used the words “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” to describe Donald Trump, Jr. and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner’s infamous June 2016 meeting with Russians claiming to possess damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

Talking media heads are also agog over Bannon’s assertions that the Donald, Jr. certainly introduced his father to the Russians and that Trump is vulnerable on Russian money laundering through Deutsche Bank.

What really leaped out at me from The New York Times’ write-up on Wolff’s book, however, is the total contempt that Boss Tweet’s own associates and advisers have for him:

The book presents Mr. Trump as an ill-informed and thoroughly unserious candidate and president, engaged mainly in satisfying his own ego and presiding over a dysfunctional White House. It reports that early in the 2016 campaign, one aide, Sam Nunberg, was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. ‘I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,’ it quotes Mr. Nunberg as saying, ‘before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.’

The book … quotes an email from an unnamed White House aide offering a harsh assessment of Mr. Trump’s operation: ‘It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won’t read anything — not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored.’

The book also asserts that Mr. Trump’s advisers and associates deride him in private, calling him an ‘idiot,’ a ‘dope’ or ‘dumb’ as dirt. Thomas J. Barrack, a friend and adviser to Mr. Trump, was quoted telling a friend that the president is ‘not only crazy, he’s stupid’. (emphasis added).
“Stupid” may be putting it mildly. Recall the description of Trump that his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refused to disavow: “fucking moron.”

The disclosures come as the Insane Clown President has just taken his childish and reckless Twitter war with his opposite number Kim Jong-un to a new low by saying “my nuclear button is bigger than his – and it works.”

Nobody should be surprised by the “revelation” that Trump is a malignantly narcissistic “dotard” (Kim’s entertaining description) and dysfunctional “idiot.” That’s been clear to anyone who isn’t themselves a hopeless moron since the beginning of Trump’s political career, festooned with the ridiculous and racist charge that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

The real question is how an “idiot surrounded by clowns” got into the White House. The Democratic Party establishment wants people to think that Russia did it – a charge as moronic as Trump’s claim to have won the popular vote but for millions of illegal immigrant ballots.

The neo-McCarthyite Russiagate gambit is calculated to distract attention from the dismal, demobilizing, and dollar-drenched Democrats’ own responsibility for putting Trump in office by (a) making policy (under both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) in cringing accord with the regressive, state-capitalist and corporate-globalist commands of Wall Street; (b) crushing progressive, social-democratic forces in their own party; and (c) mounting a horrific presidential campaign (Hillary 2016) that made numerous unforced errors, like failing to visit Wisconsin after the Democratic National Convention and calling (however accurately) half of Trump’s backers “deplorables.”

This is not to say that Trump deserves no credit for his victory.  Even the “fucking moron” and his clown team had the basic smarts to keep the evangelical Ted Cruz wing of the Republican electorate on board by granting significant influence and position (including the Vice Presidency) to the theocratic right. The pussy-grabbing reality-television real estate magnate from godless New York City would not have prevailed in the general election without that deft move.

At the same time, Trump won because of underlying historical and structural factors that are part and parcel of the onset of the long neoliberal era. Even an “idiot” like Trump was able to exploit the onset of corporate globalization, automation, increased international competition, austerity, extreme (New Gilded Age) wealth concentration, and accelerated plutocracy to promise economically squeezed voters a restoration of the vanished middle-class American Dream. His call to “Make America Great Again” resonated with mass white nostalgia for the long lost Golden Age (1945-1973) of unmatched U.S. economic prosperity.

The “dope” Trump benefitted from the depth and degree of the 2008-2009 financial collapse and recession and the weak, low-wage recovery that followed while Wall Street and corporate profits soared to obscene new heights with help from the Bush-Obama bailouts. The severe economic hit helped de-legitimize establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio last year.  It made the real presidential contest a race between a “populist” and “outsider” of “the left,” fueled by small donors– the progressive neo-New Dealer Bernie Sanders – and Trump, a self- and Mercer-financed billionaire “populist” and “outsider” of the right.

The corporate Democrats’ party structure held to prevent the nomination of Sanders, the left “populist,” who would likely have defeated Trump. By contrast, the corporate-Republicans’ party structured did not hold.  It crumbled before the Trump-Bannon challenge, which was unintentionally abetted by a corporate media that gave more attention to the Donald’s every insane Tweet and facial expression than it did to Sanders’ huge middle-class and anti-plutocratic rallies against “the billionaire class.”

The jackass president-to be was able to win white middle- and working-class votes by riding and playing/preying on the long-term scapegoating (nothing new, to say the least) of racial minorities and immigrants as the (false) cause of declining opportunity and income and growing inequality in the neoliberal era.

Agent Orange was further able to exploit the long-term neoliberal rise and spread of “small government” and “free market” ideology.  Trump mined the “anti-government” discourse to promote his “anti-establishment”/anti-Washington campaign even as he advanced a reactionary populist and white-nationalist critique of globalization and immigration.

The Dotard-in-Chief benefitted from the underlying, ever-sharpening partisan, racial, cultural, and ideological polarization between the Republican and Democratic parties, which guaranteed that Republicans voters would support Trump – not matter how offensive and idiotic he was – to block the presidential candidate (especially the widely loathed Hillary Clinton) of the hated Democrats.

Hair Furher also reaped a windfall from the spilling over of partisan polarization into crippling political and policy gridlock after the 2008 financial crisis, the election of the nation’s first Black president, the passage of Obama’s signature health insurance reform, and the rise of the Republican Tea Party.  Trump exploited public disgust with the resulting epic dysfunction of the paralyzed federal government by posing as a great outsider/savior who would “clean up the mess” and “drain the swamp.”

Along with all this, Trump benefitted from institutional factors that long predate the neoliberal era and trace to the U.S. Founders’ openly anti-democratic Constitution.  For the fifth time in United States history, the Founders’ Electoral College system allowed the installation of a president who didn’t win the majority vote in the quadrennial election.  Remarkably enough, the nation that proclaims itself the homeland and headquarters of global democracy does not elect its powerful chief executive on the elementary democratic principle of one person, one vote.  Like the Constitution’s scheme of Congressional representation in its upper chamber (the Senate), the charter’s Electoral College provision over-empowers the nation’s vast and disproportionately white, right-wing, and rural electorate relative to more liberal, progressive, multiracial, and urban voters

The Founders’ system of checks and balances between the legislature, executive, and judicial branches creates remarkable capacity for gridlock when the branches are held by different and intensely partisan political parties.  (The Founders’ it should be recalled, believed that they had created a political system that would prevent the rise of “factions” and parties and thus did not anticipate the kind of partisan checkmate that Trump was able to exploit last year.)

Along the way, the nation’s constitutional federalism gives its fifty states great leeway in crafting election laws as well as electoral districts.  Right-wing Republican state-level restrictions on Black, Latino, and “felon” voting rights played a key role in Trump’s victory.

And the Supreme Court’s repeated constitutionally super-empowered “wealth primary” rulings on behalf of abject campaign finance plutocracy (here progressives need to interrogate the 1976 Buckley-Valeo decision as well as the 2010 Citizens United judgment) have functioned to squash progressive alternatives to corporate control of U.S. politics in ways that Trump was able to exploit with his faux “populism” last year.

The dismal Dems want you to blame it all on Russia and James Comey when he was a bad guy (he became a good guy for the Democrats when he got fired by Trump for refusing to squash the FBI’s Russiagate investigation). The truth of the matter is that Russian “interference” was a very minor matter in relation to the forces and factor discussed above – forces and factors in which the Inauthentic Opposition Party (the late Sheldon Wolin’s incisive description of the Democrats) are deeply complicit and involved – in explaining the ascendancy of a dangerous “fucking moron” to the White House.

Now the U.S. and the world are saddled with a juvenile, stupid, pathologically narcissist POTUS who poses grave environmental and thermonuclear dangers to humanity. Thanks to the absurdly deified Constitution bequeathed to us by wealthy and anti-democratic aristo-republican slaveowners and merchant capitalists 228 years ago, it is hard to imagine him being removed from office except by death or (further) disability prior to January 20th, 2021.  We continue to be screwed by the Founding Fathers.  Hold on to your powdered wig.

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