Friday, December 5, 2008

Headlines - Friday

American Airlines now charging fees to non-passengers

FORT WORTH, TX—Cash-strapped American Airlines announced a new series of fees this week that will apply to all customers not currently flying, scheduled to fly, or even thinking about flying aboard the commercial carrier.

The fees, the latest introduced by American Airlines in a continuing effort to combat its financial woes, will take effect on Monday. According to company officials, these charges will include a $25 tax on citizens traveling with any other airline, as well as a mandatory $30 surcharge for passengers who decide to just stay home for the holidays instead.


3-D street art.


Bank of America puts a deposit on our mountains:


KBR and Halliburton are the targets of a new class-action lawsuit alleging that U.S. troops have been sickened by water, food and fumes produced by the two massive private contractors, according to the Army Times:

Joshua Eller, who worked as a civilian computer-aided drafting technician with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, said military personnel, contractors and third-country nationals may have been sickened by contamination at the largest U.S. installation in Iraq, home to more than 30,000 service members, Defense Department civilians and contractor personnel.

The details of the charges laid out in the lawsuit are macabre:

The lawsuit also accuses KBR of shipping ice in mortuary trucks that "still had traces of body fluids and putrefied remains in them when they were loaded with ice. This ice was served to U.S. forces."

Eller also accuses KBR of failing to maintain a medical incinerator at Joint Base Balad, which has been confirmed by two surgeons in interviews with Military Times about the Balad burn pit. Instead, according to the lawsuit and the physicians, medical waste, such as needles, amputated body parts and bloody bandages were burned in the open-air pit.

"Wild dogs in the area raided the burn pit and carried off human remains," the lawsuit states. "The wild dogs could be seen roaming the base with body parts in their mouths, to the great distress of the U.S. forces."

The troops that the contractors so love to claim to support are not only being exposed to toxic fumes and scenes of wild dogs dragging off body parts. No, they're getting extra treats in their rotten food as well:

Eller also accused KBR of serving spoiled, expired and rotten food to the troops, as well as dishes that may have been contaminated with shrapnel.

"Defendants knowingly and intentionally supplied and served food that was well past its expiration date, in some cases over a year past its expiration date," the lawsuit states. "Even when it was called to the attention of the KBR food service managers that the food was expired, KBR still served the food to U.S. forces."

Add to that the fact that KBR just got caught confining 1,000 Asian men for as long as three months in windowless warehouses near the Baghdad airport without money or a place to work, the fact that they've not only  poisoned troops, but they've electrocuted them as well, that a bunch of them gang-raped a female coworker, and shoved her in a shipping container, and that my friends, is how we how we spread American values around the world during the Bush administration.

So in addition to debunking the idea that Republicans "support our troops", this horrific case also shows that privatizing government functions to for-profit companies DOES NOT WORK.

Remember, KBR is a subsidiary of Halliburton. I can't find any current info, but as of 2005, Dick Shooter Cheney's 433,333 Halliburton stock options had risen 3,281 percent. He also continues to receive a deferred salary from the company. 


Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has some Republican-to-Republican advice for Gov. Sarah Palin: If you want to make a run at the White House, keep your hands off my Senate seat. Here's a potentially bloody primary fight that I'd like to see.


Parents in Texas claim they were trying to drive the demons out of the 13-month-old during an exorcism, but law enforcement officers say the bottom line is that they bludgeoned the little girl to death with a hammer and other objects and bit her more than 20 times:


Prop 8 The Musical:


Nancy Greggs - Immeasurable

An Open Letter to the Clueless Idiot Who Still Occupies the White House:

Re your recent comment: "Everybody wants to be liked. But being liked because you've actually done something constructive that's measurable is the best way to try to be liked."

Guess what, George? Your chances of being "liked" lie somewhere between no chance, no way, ain't never gonna happen and the proverbial snowball's chance in hell.

The problem with your legacy is that what you leave in your wake is not measurable by any yardstick known to man.

Let's look at the facts, shall we?


Ah, now I see why Alan Keyes is so worked up about Barack Obama's citizenship status: because if Obama is deceiving us and he gets away with it, America will inevitably enter a period of bloody, murderous totalitarian repression!  

Thankfully, the Supreme Court is going to address the zombie birth certificate issue.

Barack Obama once said he would not have named Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas is a mean, bitter, man with a Great Book of Old Grudges so heavy he has to rely on elephants to carry it around for him (and he has to have it with him at all times).

It was Clarence Thomas that asked his colleagues on the court to consider the case regarding Obama's birth certificate. And he did this AFTER Justice David Souter had already rejected a petition to postpone the meeting of the Electoral College on the 15th regarding this case.  

That the case has gone this far thanks to Thomas, is an ominous sign that whether or not he can get back at Barack Obama for dissing him, he's sure as hell going to try.


The WSJ has rediscovered the Constitution:

What's a little matter like the Constitution among friends? That's a question a few legal eagles are asking as they note that Hillary Clinton can't become Secretary of State thanks to something called the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Under that clause of Article I, a Member of Congress who has been in office while a pay raise was passed for a federal job may not then be appointed to the job at the higher salary. Mrs. Clinton was a Senator this January when President Bush passed an executive order increasing the Secretary of State's pay to $191,300 from $186,600. As a legal matter, that should disqualify her.


To our knowledge, Senator Clinton played no role in the salary raise, and she clearly had grander ambitions than Secretary of State when the law was signed. But while the issue will strike some as trivial, it is no small matter to ignore the Constitution's direct words. Giving Mrs. Clinton a pay cut is a minimum gesture of deference required to the document that Mr. Obama will soon swear an oath to preserve, protect and defend.

Obama could simply declare Hillary to be an enemy combatant. That way the constitution won't apply to her. Or he could issue a signing statement. If all else fails, he could ask John Yoo to write a memo.


According to the Associated Press, as reported in today's Miami Herald, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) hung up the phone on President-elect Barack Obama yesterday because she thought they were prank calls.

After Palin got punked by the Canadian DJ's, I can't say I blame her.



GM's Rick Wagoner begging for money for his failed business - which is now up to $34 billion.


Via memeorandum, a story about the newspaper industry:

Newspaper and newspaper groups are likely to default on their debt and go out of business next year—leaving "several cities" with no daily newspaper at all, Fitch Ratings says in a report on media released Wednesday.

"Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010," the Chicago-based credit ratings firm said in a report on the outlook for U.S. media and entertainment.


Can we all stop pretending that Rick Warren is some sort of moderate, reasonable Christian leader now?

Last night, on Fox News, Sean Hannity insisted that United States needs to "take out" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Warren said he agreed. Hannity asked, "Am I advocating something dark, evil or something righteous?" Warren responded, "Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped.... In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers."

Matt Duss explained why Warren's comments are problematic on a variety of levels.


No offense whatsoever to my friend who is an honest TSA employee

There are organized theft rings in the TSA. One thief watches the X-rays at the baggage screening point and texts his or her confederates down the line to open the bags and steal the stuff.
Let's assume that Paul Krugman is correct in his thought that the unemployment rate, the U-3 rate, will go into the double-digits in 2009.

That has only happened once since the end of the Great Depression, in the Reagan Recession of 1982-1984. Unemployment was above 10% from September. 1983 to June, 1984. Peak unemployment was 10.8%.

I am presuming from the way that Krugman wrote, that he is foreseeing a rate that is significantly higher than just 10.1%. 

Republicans are good for the economy!

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers cut 533,000 jobs in November, the most since 1974, as the unemployment rate rose to 6.7% from 6.5% in October.

November's job losses were the steepest since December 1974, when 602,000 jobs were shed. The number of jobs lost is much worse than the forecast by analysts polled by Reuters, who had predicted a loss of 340,000 jobs.

In addition, October's job losses were revised to show a loss of 320,000 jobs, previously reported as 240,000, while September's losses were revised to a loss of 403,000 from 284,00.

The revisions mean 199,000 more jobs were lost in September and October than previously thought and the total reduction in U.S. nonfarm payrolls the past three months was 1.256 million, with almost 2 million jobs shed in the year so far.

Service-providing businesses alone shed 370,000 jobs in November, following a loss of 153,000 the month before.

The length of the workweek slipped to 33.5 hours, shortest since records began in 1964, a Labor Department official said.

The Bush family has purchased a new home in Dallas, Texas for $2 million. 


Howie Kurtz is at it again:

"Everyone knows that Barack Obama got terrific media coverage during the campaign."

You mean besides the socialist fist-jabbing unrepentant-domestic-terrist-loving America-hating unpatriotic secret-Muslim doesn't-wear-a-flag-pin bullshit? The inexperienced presumptuous anti-Israel can't-bowl-worth-a-fcrap girlie-man crap? The whitey-hating swearing-on-the-Koran madrassah Hussein garbage, Howie? 


For farmers, this stinks: Belching and gaseous cows and hogs could start costing them money if a federal proposal to charge fees for air-polluting animals becomes law.

Farmers so far are turning their noses up at the notion, which is one of several put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases emitted by belching and flatulence amounts to air pollution.

"This is one of the most ridiculous things the federal government has tried to do," said Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, an outspoken opponent of the proposal.

Yes, it's almost as ridiculous as the $1.1 billion the Ag Department paid out in subsidies to the estates or companies of deceased farmers not to farm.

Or the $1.3 billion paid in subsidies to living farmers not to farm.


Victory is just around the corner

4,209 soldiers killed in Iraq; 628 in Afghanistan.

Yesterday in Iraq: 2 US soldiers, 1 UK soldier, 98 Iraqis killed; 177 Iraqis wounded:


Dick has been doing his homework on Cerberus: 

Any and all money the US Government offers to Chrysler (they are currently requesting $9 billion) or GMAC (unspecified amount) must be 100% secured by assets of their majority owner, Cerberus Capital Management (a private equity investment firm), that are not related in any way to its automotive or financial businesses.  Period.  In lieu of that, we taxpayers will once again be screwed.
Keeping in mind that:
Cerberus paid Daimler just $7.2 billion for an 80.1% stake in Chrysler last year. (Daimler purchased Chrysler for $36 billion in 1998.)
Daimler assigned its remaining 19.9% stake in Chrysler a book value of zero in third-quarter earnings reported last month.
Cerberus paid General Motors $14 billion for a 51% share of 'highly profitable GMAC in 2006.  GM retains a 49% share.
GMAC Financial Services announced in November that it is seeking government assistance, trying to access the $700 billion set aside for banks that its parent General Motors has so far been denied.  GMAC also announced that it has submitted an application to the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company.  GMAC did not say how much money it is seeking.  A company spokeswoman said the money would be strictly for GMAC, and not be passed along to GM.

And this from Cerberus's web site: Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. is one of the world's leading private investment firms. Cerberus specializes in providing both financial resources and operational expertise to help transform undervalued companies into industry leaders for long-term success and value creation. Cerberus is headquartered in New York City with affiliate and/or advisory offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Baarn, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, Osaka and Taipei.  Cerberus holds controlling or significant minority interests in companies around the world. In aggregate, these companies currently generate over $100 billion in annual revenues.  (Italics and underlines are my own.)

Cerberus's high profile lobbying efforts: As the NY Times notes, Cerberus CEO Stephen A. Feinberg, who founded the hedge fund with $10 million in 1992, keeps a low profile. But in Washington, Cerberus maintains a major presence, paying seven lobbying firms and former U.S. Sen. Jake Garn to represent its interests before Congress. Former Treasury counsel Arnold I. Havens, now a partner with Jones Walker, represents the firm on banking and transportation issues.  Former U.S. senator and ambassador to Germany Dan Coats, now senior counsel at King & Spalding, represents Cerberus on banking regulation.  Patton Boggs argues for the company on auto emissions legislation. Stanley B. Parrish, former chief of staff to Sen. Orrin Hatch, represents it on auto-related matters.  Cerberus itself has registered as a lobbyist. The company reported spending $2.5 million on lobbying activities last year (and well over $1 million so far this year). 

Cerberus's high profile Washington connections:  John W. Snow, Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush, was appointed Chairman of Cerberus Capital Management in October, 2006.  Dan Quayle, G.H.W. Bush's VP, is currently Chairman of Cerberus Global Investments.

Cerberus Capital Management is bad juju.


No comments: