How -and Why -the 47 Senators Blew It

What possessed the forty-seven Republican senators to strike out in a move, specifically that letter to Iran, that would surely further divide the politics in this nation is beyond comprehension. Maybe they were trying to send a big “we’ll get even” with O & Co. over the poor manners and behavior shown to Prime Minister Netanyahu during his recent visit. Maybe they’re concerned about a successful deal and what it might mean for the future of oil. Who knows? Either way, surely they knew as soon as they did it, they’d likely made a mistake (at least, I hope they did). Now, though, they’re coming full circle on just how disastrous that letter has truly become. Worse, they’re also beginning to see the divide they’ve created, not only on a national, but an international level.

Reuters is reporting exclusively that there are now secret talks taking place that would end the Iranian sanctions. Sounds good, right? Not if you’re one of those 47 senators. Had they kept their pride in check and their mouths closed, they might could have prevented what’s now going down. The five senior members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. – are looking for ways to ensure any incoming U.S. president won’t be able to undo whatever it ultimately becomes, something those Pubs touted in their letter. They stated, “The next president could revoke such as executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”  Turns out, a Security Council resolution indeed can prevent that from happening and it’s legally binding.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter, because this is where it’s going to sting.

First, let’s look at the list of 47 signatures:


Now, let’s look at who benefits from oil. The top Republicans who benefited financially from oil and gas companies, in order of the amount received and according to Open Secrets (You can see the entire list here). There are four who did not sign the letter in the top ten – three of them are Democrats and the one lone Republican who did not sign the letter is from Mississippi, Thad Cochran.


In other words, the Republicans who benefited most from the oil industry were more than happy to sign the letter. If you’re wondering why, consider this:

The announcement alone of an agreement with Iran that removes international sanctions would accelerate the current steady downward trend of the global oil price. Thus, the oil price would be affected even before increased physical supplies of Iranian oil reached the market. And more oil would gradually return to the market, helping keep global oil prices low and perhaps depressing them even further. Burdened by sanctions, Tehran has offered discounts to regular buyers such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. The end of sanctions would most likely mean that such consumers would pay a price more in line with global prices. Accordingly, this could create an opportunity for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf producers to increase their market share. The Washington Institute

One final point about Senator Cochran:

Thad Cochran’s biggest thorn (and the state’s as a whole) wasted no time in jumping on that and saying Cochran hasn’t taken a “principled stand in years”. This is exactly why voters chose experience over one who’s done little more than whined about his loss. You can read more about Senator Cochran’s decision here.


Biden’s Twisted Financial Priorities

capture-20150311-005351Several months ago, in a rare talk about politics with my mother, she said, “You know, they can find a way for Obama to serve a third term.” I couldn’t tell if she was trying to get me riled up or if there was something she knew that I didn’t. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I saw this headline earlier:

Biden: 2016 is battle for third Obama term

Of course, the article’s about the potential run by our esteemed Vice President. God help us all. But then, yesterday, I’d run by my parents’ house, only to get into another conversation with Mom about why I have the cameras covered on my phone. She thought my reason was as crazy as I thought her insistence was on the possibility of a third term for the current administration. She laughed in that typical, I’m-the-Mom-and-I-can-laugh-all-I-want manner and said, “Oh, Donna, you provide such fodder for our entertainment.” We laughed some more and then I told her I’d be forwarding her a few links on how easily the NSA can flip our phones and computers into camera mode. If only our concerns stopped there…

The Biden Plea

Vice President Joe Biden published an op ed this week on The Hill. He’s asking us to fork over $1 billion so that we can save Central America from itself. Here are the reasons he provides as to why we should cave on yet another waste of taxpayer money.

Mi Casa, Es Su Casa

Biden has a ridiculous justification for his efforts. He and his boss created a financial, legal, moral and societal crisis by opening the borders last summer, no questions asked, with a big “welcome home” declaration. Now they want us to fix it. Biden wants to prevent a repeat of last summer’s rush at our southern border, which brings to mind one simple explanation: 2016 election.

He explains, “The president and I are determined to address conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and help these countries on their path to economic prosperity.”

Here’s what he intends to do with our cool billion for these countries:

  • Reform the police systems
  • Expand community centers to “prevent migration”
  • Put into place measures to reduce poverty
  • Create opportunities for foreign investment
  • Target smuggling networks

These are all noble and important reasons to justify support, but why are we suddenly going to fix this region of the world when some of our nation’s biggest problems center on those very issues? Shouldn’t we become the global example before we become the world’s bank? Before we “fix” these three nations, maybe we should first address them right here at home:

Reforming Policing Policies

Reforming police systems across the country is something that is very much in the political and societal spotlights these days. Whether it’s the Justice Department’s determinations that came together in a red-hot report that’s resulted in several resignations of city and county leaders in Ferguson or the ongoing cyber-attacks that are hitting Madison, Wisconsin in retaliation for the police shooting of an unarmed black teen last weekend, the unrest in many cities is palpable. Referring to the cyber-attacks, Paul Kronberger, Madison’s chief information officer, told Reuters today, “There is not a lot we can do about it. The people who do this kind of attack are very skilled.” A stronger budget could put the proper training in place so that city and state leaders can gain those skills that would translate into formidable moves against a determined hacker.

Community Centers

It’s not entirely clear as to what Biden believes community center expansions will do to prevent migration in the region, but some of the biggest budget hits in cities across the U.S. began with closing various community centers. Many remain closed today, years after the recession was declared a has-been.


Next Biden wants to reduce poverty in Central America. What he doesn’t mention is the poverty rate fell from 41.7% to 25.3% between 2000 and 2012. This, according to the United Nations Development Program, means more than 56 million people moved out of the grips of poverty during that period. The U.S. has nearly 50 million (and growing) who live in poverty and child poverty is one of the worst in the world. In fact, only five countries have higher poverty rates: Greece, Latvia, Spain, Israel and Mexico.

Foreign Investments

Let’s not forget Biden’s interest in increasing foreign investment for the region. In fact, let’s take a look at just one of the sanctions the U.S. has in place and how that country is now handling the absence of U.S. support (read: financial support). This provides much needed perspective against Biden’s financial investment goals for the countries and maybe a glimpse into how our image is being affected on a global stage:

This week, Obama used an executive order to sanction Venezuela due to its “acts of violence or abuse of human rights, were involved in prohibiting or penalizing freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption”. Of course, our government officials would never stoop that low to become involved in “public corruption” and as far as freedom of speech goes in the U.S., three words come to mind: National Security Administration (which, by the way, is now being sued).

A few months ago, in another “I’ll go it alone” move made by Obama, and after a year of “secret discussions”, efforts are being made to strengthen the ties between Cuba and the U.S. Five hours after the sanctions against Venezuela were announced this week, Cuba made it clear its loyalties are with Venezuela and not the U.S. 

Reducing Smuggling

Finally, Biden wants to help rid and prevent smuggling networks from going into the region. That’s noble, but we’re hardly the example for border security. Illegal drugs are a billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone. In 2013, there were more than 30,000 arrests made along the southern border and all were attempting to cross the border with heroin, meth, cocaine and more; however, Mexican cartels are becoming even more violent, which jeopardizes the safety of our nation’s law enforcement. Couple that with the open borders and it’s clear that we’re woefully lacking in both budgets and tools to finally rein these cartels in.

Let’s take a look at what these countries have managed without the benefit of the U.S. and in Biden’s own words:

“Even before my recent visit, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras had quickly taken steps to start implementing the Alliance for Prosperity. Honduras signed an agreement with an international nongovernmental organization to increase governmental transparency. Guatemala has added new law enforcement officers and reassigned others to areas most in need, helping to reduce Guatemala’s murder rate by one-third. El Salvador passed a law providing new protections for investors.

If these countries are doing that well, maybe Biden could spend some time there and let them teach him a thing or two. Since that won’t happen, how about we keep our $1 billion and invest it in our own country. Let’s add new law enforcement on city, state and federal levels and take advantage of training opportunities so that our nation is safer. Homicide is increasing right here in the U.S., even as Guatemala’s rate has been cut and for the love of God, how about we find a way to make our own government more transparent?

If we have a billion dollar budget set aside for other countries, then surely, we have it for our own nation’s safety and economic growth.

Don’t Even Bother Labeling Women

capture-20150308-084602It’s International Women’s Day (March is Women’s History Month) and plundering through all of the gazillion articles, claims, promises, defeats and rhetoric, there’s one thing that no one seems to understand: you can’t box a woman into a single label. Ask any woman – she’ll tell you it’s so. Of course, there’s one description that most women say they identify most with, whether it’s feminist or mother or determined or traditional or independent or weak, and that’s OK. But every woman on the planet will identify with nearly ever label at some point, even if only briefly. If there are any of those labels that tend to flounder in our modern day, it’s traditional. That’s too bad, because for those of us who do feel we’re more traditional in this aggressive, contemporary society, it seems like the word “traditional” equates to repressed or left behind or even weak. So, with that in mind, to balance out those who are roaring “feminists rule”, I thought it’s about time to show how even we traditional women still possess a few feminist tendencies.

Don’t Sweat the Laundry Hamper – I Got This

In my house, the traditional roles rule. It’s all about image. With a few exceptions (no one’s perfect), you’ll find everything tidy. Everything has a place. Clothes are folded and color coordinated before they go into the closets or dressers. The sink’s clean and dishes are put away (and no, I’ve never owned a dishwasher). You’ll find vacuum marks in the rugs, the shower curtains are color coordinated (even if it means changing the curtains on the windows). Baseboards are cleaned on Mondays, floors are mopped on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Dusting and bed linens changed on Saturdays. It’s organized. It’s neat. It’s where I feel safest. I always wanted the girl my son married to take care of him. I figured if I fixed his plate, refilled his tea glasses, then any girl he chose should do the same. Turns out, they take care of each other. I reckon he took it to heart because I see that common respect between the two of them. It’s sweet and it’s authentic.

Here’s the kicker: I live alone. Keeping that tidy house is a breeze. And I like it. I know, too, that whatever’s meant to be is going to happen. We are always right where we are supposed to be. If I fall in love tomorrow, good on me. My point is I don’t need to be married. I don’t need anything to complete me – even a marriage license or a Facebook status of “engaged” or “married”. I mean, really…no one does, right? My point is: no woman should settle. No woman should choose to marry or even agree to “date” a man she’s not feeling. Make your own rules and then live by them. Period. How’s that for being a feminist?

Money, Money, Money

Here’s the truth: I don’t care what you earn. I think there’s something that strikes the basic core of a man that demands he be the primary wage earner. And that’s OK. And it’s OK if he doesn’t. I care little about what the neighbors earn and I don’t care what my best friend’s husband earns. In fact, I hate nothing more than handling the finances. I do it because I have to, but that’s the only reason. I’ll go so far as to say there was a time when women knew little about what her husband earned, how much money was in the bank and what the retirement account held. I know that is probably the most horrifying statement for anyone – especially a woman – to say in this day and age, but there was a trust decades ago that solidified a marriage: the missus had supper cooked and her Mr. Wonderful made sure there were groceries in the cupboard so she could cook.

Here’s the kicker: I do what I want, when I want. I earn a good living. If I want to blow Wal Mart wide open at 3 a.m. (which I’m prone to do), then that’s exactly what happens. If I want to disappear for the day, there’s no one I have to ask or tell or notify or whatever you want to call it. I do what I want. Period. Hey, if Hillary Clinton can use her own email server while giving a big “screw you” to the world, I can too.

Remember last season, in House of Cards, there was this strange and fascinating dynamic between Frank and Claire? Weird as it sounds, it was almost sweet. The world beat him up, called him friendless and worthless and evil. Claire was always right there next to him, reminding him of all the good he did. It was enough, right? It was almost like she was the one source of strength between the two of them.

Now, though, this season, we see the tables turned. Frank dropped the ball and if you’ve seen the finale, you know how that ends. No matter that she is the epitome of fiery feminism, the rest of us know there’s a deeply entrenched ribbon of tradition running through her core. See? You can’t even box a fictional woman into a tidy little box.

Announcing the Great Villain Blogathon 2015!


So excited about this! Even better, I chose Addie Ross – the faceless husband stealer in A Letter to Three Wives.

Originally posted on Speakeasy:


The first Great Villain Blogathon in 2014 was such a fun and huge event that, in the tradition of the greatest movie villains, we threatened promised to return and wreak havoc again with another event celebrating cinema’s biggest cretins.


We cordially invite you to participate in the Great Villain Blogathon 2015. Pick a movie villain to write about and join us in this dissection of the dastardly and depraved, this survey of the stinking and spiteful, this audit of hateful and heinous characters.

Your hosts are Ruth of Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin and Kristina of Speakeasy, and The Great Villain Blogathon happens APRIL 13 – 17, 2015.


You may write on any Big Bad from any era, country and genre, whether they were dictators, outlaws, criminals, politicians, mistresses, monsters, slashers, gangsters, mama’s boys, hammy and backstabbing actresses, artificial intelligence, aliens, wicked stepmothers, or any…

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Taking on The Slap

Apparently, I was one of the few who actually saw NBC’s premiere of The Slap. It’s not exactly hitting any kind of numbers that would warrant a trending position on Twitter and if you Google it, everyone’s talking about its low ratings. That’s surprising, but then again, some of the best shows on TV these days don’t take off with much of a bang. ABC’s Nashville didn’t inspire any Twitter hashtags and FX’s Sons of Anarchy was close to being axed after its first season. We all know how criminal it would have been to pull that from the FX lineup.

Here’s the thing, though. With The Slap, if it does pick up viewers, that means it will soon be quite controversial for its content and the morals of child discipline and too, let’s face it, the region of the country we live in will likely play a role in that as well. That, to me, is the most fascinating aspect of it.

Another problem could be that it’s being presented as a mini-series. Today’s audiences are all about longevity. That’s part of the reason network television isn’t faring well. We’re forced to wait months for three or four episodes, only to realize we’re nearing a “seasonal” finale, in which we’re forced to wait another several months. It’s growing old, Network Decision Makers….it’s growing old! To make matters worse, viewers get invested, only to learn – with no warning – that it’s been pulled. Two examples: Longmire and Dallas.

anigifAnd by the way, why didn’t NBC take advantage of its two mega stars? I had no idea Uma Thurman and Thandie Newton would be gracing our television screens until it premiered last night. I don’t know that it would have made much of a difference, though. Everything about the way The Slap premiere was marketed is just…strange.

It’s worth noting this is an award-winning series in Australia that premiered in 2011. It’s also based on Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap: A Novel. Like most things, the read is far more interesting than the vision we’re presented via network television.

Here’s how it’s been marketed:

A once happy family suddenly begins to fall apart following a seemingly minor incident in which a man slaps another couple’s misbehaving child.

Little in that description makes sense once you see the pilot. Very little.

Hector (Peter Saarsgard)

There are no happy families in this show. The show opens with bad news with the lead (Hector) learning he didn’t get a promotion, but a “Latino woman” did (this is bound to come full circle later), it transitions to his drive home where he’s thinking about a young girl in a less than moral manner and by the time he reaches his home, makes his entrance, complete with fighting kids and a wife who’s ill after going twelve rounds with her mother in law, the best he can do is wish for drugs. Fortunately, his wife’s a doctor (played by Newton) and she actually sends him to her clinic and tells him where to find her stash. It’s then we learn that the young girl he’s fantasizing about actually works at the clinic with his wife.

This family (which is really several families) is falling apart long before the bratty kid enters the picture.

Let’s look at the “seemingly” minor incident. I will say this – clocking the kid across the face with that much rage? Dead wrong. The kid is a major pain in the ass and frankly, he has his pansy parents to thank for the very difficult life he’s about to live, both as a kid and as an adult.

Hugo (Dylan Schombing)

Hugo is the kid who’s a terror (versus the whole “misbehaving child” description NBC planted). Schombing is 7, and the character is probably 6 or 7. (By the way, this cutie pie has acting in his genes – his father is Jason Schombing of Watchmen, Timecop and Fantastic Four.) His mother is still nursing him and is proud for anyone to see it. And no, it doesn’t bother me that mothers nurse their babies, but let’s face it, “babies” is the operative word here. A 6 or 7 year old kid? There’s all kinds of psychological trauma going on by then and it’s rooted in the mother, Rosie (Melissa George). Hugo’s father is as big a pansy as any who have graced the small screen. He believes a bit of sweet talk in a non-aggressive manner is the way to go. Whatever.

After being “asked” by his father to stop swinging the bat at a couple of his cousins in the back yard, his uncle took matters into his own hands when he realized Hugo was getting closer to his cousin with each swing.

Harry (Zack Quinto)

As the adults are sitting around the table on the deck, Harry realizes the soft requests from Hugo’s father aren’t working. He immediately jumps the deck railing and takes the bat away from him and scolds him, only to have Hugo kick him. Enter the slap.

Let’s be clear – the actors are nailing their characters, and the sets are beautiful. The promo photographs reveal a lot about the characters and their sensibilities – not sure why people overlook these important elements. With Newton and Saarsgard, the chrome floor lamp against the classic leather chair shows tradition and contemporary mindsets are at odds. Quinto’s promos show durable and masculine wood elements, complete with a wooden ashtray at his feet, representing the classic “man’s man”; and the patriarch of the family, played by Brian Cox shows him sitting at a kitchen table, complete with flowers, a Crucifix and a small Jesus statue. Vintage furniture fills the space and it’s all indicative of an overwhelming matriarch’s aggressive approach to her family. It’s really fascinating from a psychological perspective.

But really, there are so many things wrong in this family. We learn that Hector is an atheist who’s pining away for the underage assistant in his wife’s office (she actually asks for permission to have a beer, in which she’s told “you’re not old enough”). We have a mother who makes Marie Barone look like a docile wall flower and with the scandal (that never should have been a scandal) brewing, who knows what we’ll discover next? That is, provided decision makers don’t pull the plug.

Real Love Story? Not Until You Know Newman and Woodward

I just finished reading Paul Newman: A Life. It’s not new, of course, but what a fascinating life he lived and what he left was really his and Joanne Woodward’s love story. That’s what I want to focus on; but you should know, if you don’t already, that over the course of this man’s 83 years, he won many awards, including a Tony Award, BAFTA, Academy Award (The Color of Money, 1986), Golden Globe Awards, Cannes Film Festival Award, Emmy Award, SAG Award and more. He was deeply devoted to his charitable causes and of course, Joanne Woodward and his children. Fortunately for us, many of the photos of the couple are available, so I’m really excited to be able to include a few of what I feel are intimate photos of a couple who are the epitome true love.

It’s also worth noting that A Life, his 50th wedding anniversary with Woodward as well as his death all came full circle the same year, months apart, in 2008.

Newman and Woodward stand as a formidable pair that beat the odds, especially for Hollywood. They were strong as individuals, stronger together and most certainly committed to putting each other first and as the photos show, they also found their happiness in one another. While the book was fascinating, it’s clear Newman wanted to talk about his wife – and he did in this final artistic work.

What emerged was a degree of adoration, loyalty and simple but pure love that should serve as a hallmark for any marriage.

He spoke of his misery in his first marriage (his three oldest children were born in this union), his sorrow for hurting his first wife but also with no apologies for the way he felt about Woodward.

The Long Hot Summer had always been my favorite film that starred the couple. Set in Mississippi, (Thank you, Faulkner), it was released in 1958. It was their first film together (though that had spent a significantly smaller amount of time on Broadway when both had roles in Picnic) and really, the first opportunity they had to get to know each other.

This is important for another reason, too. Just as 2008 brought many changes, so did 1958.  The film had wrapped, Newman ended his marriage of nearly 10 years to be with Woodward – and not only was Newman’s divorce finalized, he also managed to marry Woodward before the year was up. The scandal, surprisingly, wasn’t as earth-shattering as you might expect.

Soon, they starred in another film, John O’Hara’s From the Terrace. Instantly and forever, this became the one movie that will always be at the very top of my favorite’s list.

Ironically, it’s a tale about Alfred Eaton (Newman) trying to do the right thing, even as his wife, Mary played by Woodward, had ulterior and materialistic motives. Mary liked the idea of being married to Alfred, but she had no desire to be his wife in a truer sense. She was in the marriage because of his success – the name he’d built for himself and the money that came with it. Of course, he meets and falls in love with another woman, but don’t feel bad for the missus – Mary’s been cheating on her husband almost from the beginning. An added bonus is Myrna Loy in the first few minutes of the movie in the role of Alfred’s mother.

Trust me on this: if you haven’t seen the film, take three minutes and check out the trailer below. You’ll find yourself on Amazon (where it’s available) and Netflix (where it’s sometimes available), ready to dive into this classic. It offers scandal, adultery, selfishness, heroic efforts (Newman saves a drowning boy) and what ethics and honesty in the legal profession look like (yes, seriously). Also, too, pay attention to Woodward’s southern drawl, which she had been told to lose. It’s delivered via a perfect velvety pitch, as though she had all the time in the world to speak her peace. Believe me, I can remember trying my best to master that pitch and tone. And no one can; it’s one of those things that just comes natural. The southern twang? Yeah, that comes easy – I’m southern. But Woodward? It’s on a level all its own.

Seriously, even if you’re not a fan of the classics, you owe it to yourself to hear how a true southern accent (she was born in Thomasville, GA) travels across the silver screen. It’s magical, I tell you.


Each year, Turner Classic Movies hosts a month-long Oscar-winning film fest. All of the movies shown won at least one Academy award, whether it was for best film, best actress, best supporting actress or any other distinction. One of those award winning actresses is Joanne Woodward. Her role in The Three Faces of Eve was sublime and in 1957, she was rewarded for that performance.

Many – if not most – believe this is the best Joanne Woodward film ever; however, the movies that included her and real-life husband Paul Newman are the ones closest to my heart. I’ve never been able to figure out if it’s just the romantic in me or if there was some indescribable chemistry between them that you’d have to be blind to miss.

Eh, maybe it’s a little of both.

Be sure to check out Paul Newman: A Life. It really is a fascinating story.















Regency Energy Under Investigation, USW Strikes



Even though the United Steelworkers union has only been in negotiations for a little more than a week, it decided to begin a work stoppage after there was no agreement on a new labor contract. This union represents 200 oil refineries, chemical plants, pipelines and terminals. It says it rejected at least four offers from Royal Dutch Shell (think Exxon, Chevron, etc.). This is the first strike it’s called in more than three decades and if you’re wondering how big this could get in an already battered sector, David Lennox explains it this way, ““If the strike escalates, that would be detrimental to the oil price. It will put high U.S. production out on the market and there is nowhere for it to go.”

Meanwhile, that tiny glimmer of hope on Friday with WTI’s 8-plus percent jump seems quite dim now; today it fell by $1.49 a barrel on New York’s ME. Already, refineries are announcing they’re shutting down their process units and more refineries are saying they’re prepared to join the strike. All are rethinking contingency plans.

Regency Investigation

The last thing you want is to have your conglomerate in the crosshairs of a group of law firms as you’re going about the business of closing a multi-billion dollar deal. If you’re Regency Energy Partners, you’re likely getting the sense that it’s about to get deep.

With so many buy outs and mergers these days in energy and oil, it came as no surprise when Energy Transfer Partners LP announced it had agreed to buy Regency for $11 billion excluding its debt. Insiders are saying that were the total debt included, the price would have been more than $18 billion (and there are some saying the debt is indeed part of the deal). Of course, there are excruciatingly complicated tax exemptions, including one that allows handsome payouts to shareholders. Both are master limited partnerships (MLPs). The politics of money, right? Or is it the money in politics?

The investigation focuses on any ulterior motives and whether Regency Energy’s Board of Directors is acting in the shareholders’ best interests. Were other alternatives considered? Is the board poised to completely and accurately review the process as a whole? These are just a few of the questions, but the real focus is whether or not Regency’s board is fulfilling its fiduciary duties, including maximizing the company’s value and disclosing all material benefits and costs (which obviously is disconcerting).

Here’s what the deal looks like:

Regency shareholders will receive $0.4066 shares of ETP and $0.32 cash for each share of Regency Energy owned, total consideration of approximately $26.89 per share.  There is a growing number of analysts and other interested parties who believe the true inherent value of the stock could be as high as $34.00 per share.

In recent weeks, S&P issued a junk rating for Regency. Regency’s value has dropped 18% over the past few months, but closed a bit higher last week when the merger was announced.

It’s important to note that these types of investigations aren’t too uncommon. What makes this one different has to do with the current events in the oil sector. From bomb threats last week to massive job cuts to the spread between Brent and WTI – there are a lot of wheels in motion. And, of course, this is a massive buyout. It’s only been in the past several months that the FTC wrapped up another investigation it had been conducting against Regency.

And let’s not forget the settlement in the Freeport-McMoRan Inc. derivative lawsuit (when shareholders sue officials on behalf of a company) this past week. It’s going to pay $137.5 million to put an end to claims that the company’s directors and executives had conflicts of interest during the buyout of two different oil and gas companies in 2013. Their lawyers say the individual defendants denied wrongdoing and there was no breach of duties to shareholders. But there are now new worries.

A recent column from Jacob Maslow explains those new worries:

The downward pressure on materials companies should make economic planners and industry observers as well as investors worried. It means the contagion of oil is spreading to other industries. We’re not just talking about declining stock prices here. This is going to be a Main Street issue besides a Wall Street one. How? Jobs…These industries might face waves of layoffs that might send shockwaves to the rest of the economy.

So what does all of this look like on the other side? See, again, in the energy and oil arena, the odds of you hitting Biloxi beach and gambling your life savings in a casino for that one big win are probably greater than figuring out the next play in this sector. The strike, though, is not good on any level and only adds to an already overwhelming crisis.