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Monthly Archives: October 2011

California Dreaming: New High-Speed Rail Project to Cost Roughly $100 Billion


The new business plan for California’s high-speed rail system shows the nation’s most ambitious state rail project could cost nearly $100 billion in inflation-adjusted funding over a 20-year construction period, far above the amount originally projected.The plan, which was shared late Monday with The Associated Press, also shows the system would be profitable even at the lowest ridership estimates and would not require public subsidies to operate.

The report estimates the actual cost at $98.5 billion if the route between San Francisco and Anaheim is completed in 2033. It assumes private investment will account for roughly 20 percent of the final cost.

The initial estimate to build the system when voters approved bond funding for it in 2008 was $43 billion in non-adjusted dollars.

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As noted many times in iBC Financial News, the recent federal raids on offshore online poker sites is likely to wind up being nothing more than a Godfather, Part II-esque ploy on the part of Steve Wynn and the Vegas tycoons to legalize and regulate it in America (with them running the show). 


With billionaires and casino companies rushing to get ready for the potential of regulated online gambling in America, MGM Resorts on Monday announced an online poker alliance with Bwin.party digital entertainment, which owns PartyPoker, the second-biggest online poker service in the world, and the World Poker Tour.

“MGM is proud to have bwin.party as our partner as they have the assets and experience that, combined with our brands, can ensure a secure, fair and entertaining online poker experience,” Jim Murren, chief of MGM Resorts, said in a statement.

The MGM deal, which is contingent on a regulatory regime being established for online poker on either the federal or state level, helps define the competitive landscape as casino companies get ready to enter the online gambling business in the U.S. Boyd Gaming also announced on Monday that it has entered into an online poker alliance with Bwin.party.

According to Jim Ryan, co-chief executive of Bwin.party, the two announcements are related and have been in the works for nearly 18 months. Bwin.party will form a joint venture with MGM and Boyd to offer online poker in regulated U.S. jurisdictions. Bwin.party is slated to own 65% of the proposed joint venture, while MGM will own 25% and Boyd will own 10%. In addition, the deals call for Bwin.party to license its technology to both MGM and Boyd, which also plan to offer online poker under their brands.

“The intention of the joint venture is to take the PartyPoker brand and the World Poker Tour brand and our operating expertise and combine that with the regulatory expertise of MGM and Boyd,” Ryan said in an interview. “Effectively you will have four brands in the U.S. and all four brands will be acquiring players and putting them in one hub, one poker network.”

Bwin.party’s PartyPoker was the biggest online poker platform in the world until Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006, which caused the company to exit the U.S. market and lose its dominant market share. The deals with MGM and Boyd mark the formal return of Bwin.party to the U.S. Ryan, who is based in Gibraltar, has spent a lot of time recently in the U.S.preparing for Monday’s announcement.

Notably, the announced deals only cover online poker, even though Bwin.party has strong online casino offerings. “We see no evidence that a state or federal body is prepared to legislate anything other than poker,” says Ryan.

The U.S. online poker market has long been the world’s biggest, but for years it has operated in the shadows of the law and a disapproving Department of Justice. Prominent U.S. billionaires and casino companies stayed out of the business, leaving its riches for offshore companies like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. But now the casino industry is strongly pushing to get online poker regulation through Congress and lawmakers in states like Nevada and New Jersey are also trying to get something done. It is widely believed that first-mover advantage will be key in seizing the Internet if and when online gambling gets regulated, leading to a mad mobilization.


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Trick-or-treaters might want to hold on to those Reese’s Cups this Halloween as sharp increases in peanut butter prices have begun going into effect following one of the worst peanut harvests in decades.

Kraft (KFTFortune 500) will raise prices for its Planters brand peanut butter by 40% starting Monday, while ConAgra (CAGFortune 500) has instituted increases of more than 20% for its Peter Pan brand that went into effect this month.

J.M. Smucker (SJMFortune 500), which makes Jif, will introduce price hikes of around 30% starting Tuesday.

Consumers, meanwhile, are already seeing these increases reflected at grocery stores.

Maria Brous, a spokeswoman for the Publix chain, said the store had already made slight increases in retail prices and expects them to go higher “as the cost of goods continue[s] to rise”.

Dick Roberts, a spokesman for Giant Eagle grocery stores, said that “like all retailers,” the store is “being affected by industry factors on peanut butter pricing”. Chris Brand, a spokesman for Giant food stores, said the “outlook does not look good until next year’s crop is harvested and produced”.

Peanuts usually get harvested in the fall, around September and October.

While spokespeople for several grocery chains declined to provide specific pricing figures, the peanut industry is clearly under pressure this year after one of the worst harvests in recent memory.

Prices for a ton of runner peanuts, commonly used to make peanut butter, hit nearly $1,200 this month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s up from just $450 per ton a year ago. Overall, the USDA projects that American peanut production will hit 3.6 billion pounds this year, down 13% from last year.

Analysts attribute this drop to the intense heat and drought that hit the southern U.S. this year, as well as to high prices for other crops that led farmers to focus their efforts elsewhere.

Americans spend almost $800 million on peanut butter and consume an average of more than six pounds of peanut products each year, according to The National Peanut Board, a farmer-funded research group.


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As the Euro Tanks So Does U.S. Equities

As European markets closed we began to rebound, but then the Euro began to tank and U.S. equities reversed paring action and started to slide to new lows of the day.

DOW Off 233

S&P Off 26

NASDAQ off 44

Full article

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“Ironic” Consumer Spending Habits: Brooklyn Hipster Style

Brooklyn hipsters have found a new way of filling their bellies that would probably turn your stomach — rummaging for and then feasting on expensive food that grocery chains toss in the trash.

“Doing this saves me hundreds of dollars a month on groceries,” said Dumpster-diving college student Ashley Fields, 23, of Bushwick, who fills her fridge each week with produce, sandwiches, coffee and even sushi that she gathers from the garbage in Manhattan.

The food they find — including prepared sushi, prepared salads and fresh bread — isn’t thrown out because it’s gone bad but because stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods simply can’t sell it if it’s still left on the shelf at the end of the day, say Fields and her trash-chowing pals.

So while the average New Yorker might shell out $7 for a large salad at Starbucks during the day, just hours later, Fields and a growing population of educated and working hipsters are getting the same, although leftover, salads for free.

Fields, a theater major originally from St. Louis, Mo., didn’t even get her hands dirty when she took a Post reporter on a tour-de-Dumpster of four produce chains down Third Avenue last week.

Most of the fresh, still-packaged goods were separated from other, less appetizing garbage into their own trash bags, as if Mom herself had readied a personal care package for them.

“You never know what’s going to be in these bags on any given night,” said Fields, who makes $500 to $600 a week at a theater job while going to school and has been scrounging for food since the beginning of summer.

“Like tonight, I found a bunch of great, healthy breakfast sandwiches. They’re totally fine”

Upper West Side Trader Joe’s manager Mason Bly said a lot of his store’s leftover food is donated to charities such as City Harvest, which collects unused goodies from businesses.

But for items not meeting City Harvest’s standards, the grub ends up with people like Fields.

“They dig through everything,” Bly told The Post of the Dumpster divers. “They know what they’re doing. We’ve had to change our trash-disposal policies to prevent them from doing it, but they still manage to get into everything.”

And he means everything. On Wednesday, Fields single-handedly scrounged more than $160 worth of fresh groceries from stores such as Starbucks, Gristedes and D’Agostino. Her 42-item haul included plastic-wrapped sandwiches worth $10 a pop, cookies, fruit bowls, expensive salads and even a five-pack of Izze sparkling sodas, which sell for $3.50 a bottle.

Dumpster-diving is getting popular. Thousands of New Yorkers have formed trashy groups through social Web sites such as Meetup and regularly pounce on grocers’ refuse.

Fields and her pals aren’t part of the “freegan” movement, in which environmentalists live off throwaway food as a political statement against corporate waste and big agri-business.

These Dumpster divers are just in it for cheap food.

“I’m not a freegan. It’s just a really easy way to save money on groceries,” Fields said.

“All that money is going into my pocket, and I’m actually eating pretty well.

“This generation isn’t homeless, filthy or even impoverished — just thrifty with an iron stomach,” Fields said.

Read more: http://trade.cc/afj

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