Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Headlines - Tuesday

Brilliant response to the article - submitted and written by Sam:
Dear Smart Money, 
Like many others who have lost a significant portion of their retirement portfolio in the past year, I read your recent article on rebuilding a portfolio with great interest. However, I was greatly disappointed by many of your suggestions. In particular, it was your first and last comments that I found unbelievably galling.
Since when did, "Work longer, not smarter" translate into sound, prescient financial advice? I'm sure that will come as a welcome relief for the millions faced with the possibility of no Social Security and dwindling company pensions: just work about 3-5 extra years past what will probably be an anticipated retirement age of around 70-72. Comforting.

And your last statement regarding negotiating with rental car companies is plain idiotic. Basically, you're advocating asking for a free upgrade, which always means a larger, less fuel-efficient vehicle. So if you can't get a lower rate, pay more for the gas you have to pump into the "free" upgraded gas-guzzler? And just how, exactly, will that help rebuild my portfolio?
What's in store for us next week? Increase your tax deduction by negotiating a higher interest rate so your itemization includes more home mortgage interest? 
Sam K.
Via Playing for Change: Peace Through Music - my favorite new version of Stand By Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A_ma2h0idk&eurl=http://casadelogo.typepad.com/factesque/
"We held Bush accountable..."  WaHoPo's Dana Milbank, lying on CNN  

Despite eight years of evidence, they continue to lie for Bush and pretend they were good watchdogs.

As soon as Obama takes over, we will once again see a robust press barking loudly at every move he makes. 




Light Sweet Crude is at $43.76, today, and falling, as the Global Recession spreads. Oil exporters are now leasing tankers simply to hold oil in place. Oil for which there is simply no longer a demand.

Via Kunstler.com
The price of oil is suddenly down to an astounding $40-odd per barrel. Those of us studying the Peak Oil story have said that the "bumpy plateau" years of peak production would be expressed in tremendous price volatility, and for exactly the reasons now evident -- that the high-price phase would mangle advanced economies, that they would fall back in paralysis, then respond anew to oil price collapses by straggling up again, only to be crushed again when a resumption in demand for oil drove the price back up.

What was not so generally anticipated was the wholesale destruction of global finance in the first phase of this period. This has now occurred so comprehensively that we know the banking business will never be the same again. It has also accelerated other plot-lines in the story. One affects the global oil industry itself: a lack of capital to go forward with the new oil projects that were designed to mitigate the present depletions in old oil fields. The result of this quandary is as likely to be oil shortages in 2009 as much as an extremely sharp snap-back in oil prices. The oil markets themselves are changing in the face of financial disruption. Between pirates lurking off the Horn of Africa, and a shortage in letters-of-credit that enable the shipping of anything for delivery between nations, the allocation system is impaired. This affects poorer nations the most, and when they don't get their oil shipments, conditions in these nations get worse. People lose incomes. Ethnic strife ramps up. All this will make it harder to move oil from the places where it is produced to the importing countries.

Get ready for the real thrill-ride yet to come. Good luck.
Not so surprising news: Chris Wallace is a tool


WALLACE: Let me ask you this, did the Vice President say to you, "thank you so much for defending the president and yes I'm going to be giving you a special exit interview in a couple of weeks?"

GALLAGHER: Did he say all that to you?



Despite the best efforts of chronic self-loathers Justice Clarence Thomas and perpetual sore loser Alan Keyes, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an emergency appeal of a suit brought by some crank named Leo Donofrio claiming that president-elect Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

Donofrio claimed that because Obama's Kenyan father had British citizenship, Barack Obama Jr. was British, not American, although his mother was both a U.S. citizen and was physically in Hawaii — by most accounts a U.S. state at the time — when she birthed him. 

Apparently, no one but Donofrio was surprised at the ruling:

"This is the least surprising move by the Supreme Court in years," said CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen. "No serious legal scholar believed that the Justices would take the case and overturn the election."

Another crackpot, Phillip J. Berg, contends that Obama is actually a citizen of Kenya and Indonesia, apparently believing that if one spends any length of time in a country, one automatically becomes a citizen thereof. Berg's suit looks like it is going the way of Donofrio's and several other nuisance suits challenging Obama's citizenship status. 

Pollutants distort evolution and male gender

This story is a horrifying wakeup call. A new scientific study shows that baby boys born to women who've been exposed to chemicals are born with smaller or feminized genitalia. In the wild, feminization of the male species is widespread and it has already begun to effect humans.
And a study at Rotterdam's Erasmus University showed that boys whose mothers had been exposed to PCBs grew up wanting to play with dolls and tea sets rather than with traditionally male toys.

Communities heavily polluted with gender-benders in Canada, Russia and Italy have given birth to twice as many girls than boys, which may offer a clue to the reason for a mysterious shift in sex ratios worldwide. Normally 106 boys are born for every 100 girls, but the ratio is slipping. It is calculated that 250,000 babies who would have been boys have been born as girls instead in the US and Japan alone.
See also Pollution threatens male gender, says CHEM Trust report

and 'Gender-bender' drugs put males on endangered list:

Fish, it says, are particularly affected by pollutants as they are immersed in them when they swim in contaminated water, taking them in not just in their food but through their gills and skin.

They were among the first to show widespread gender-bending effects.

Half the male fish in British lowland rivers have been found to be developing eggs in their testes; in some stretches the male roach has been found to be changing sex in this way. Female hormones largely from the contraceptive pills which pass unaltered through sewage treatment are partly responsible, while more than three-quarters of sewage works have been found to be discharging demasculinising man-made chemicals.
This had better be a wake up call. 

What's making me very frightened this holiday season? Predictions that the US economy will be losing ONE MILLION JOBS per month next year.

London-based GFC Economics is making a frightening prediction: By spring 2009, the United States could be facing more than 1 million layoffs every successive month.

Expenses related to corporate debt, and muddy credit markets consumed by fear, are driving a fast-approaching "hard landing," claims a Sunday report in UK's Guardian.

Even in a country with 300 million people, that's a lot of folks who will suddenly lose their incomes, their health insurance, and quite likely their homes by the end of 2009. And with our nation's negative savings rate, there aren't any nest eggs for most of them to fall back on. Those who do have anything left in their 401k plans or IRA's will likely be forced to dip into them early despite the onerous tax consequences. Which means we can expect the stock market to go much, much lower in the months ahead. This isn't a hard landing, this is a crash landing the likes of which we haven't seen - ever.


By the way, the Merrill CEO says he won't take that $10 million dollar bonus afterall. Wasn't that nice of him? 
And lest you think bonuses are just for failed CEO's, guess again. They're also being handed out to failures in Washington as well with the added bonus of medals and a framed certificate signed by George. 

Three top executives in the office of the Pentagon inspector general received cash awards of about $30,000 for outstanding leadership even though their agency has a history of weak management and strained relations between employees and supervisors.

Last Friday, 250 factory workers at Republic Windows and Doors were told to go home by the owners when the company suddenly closed, the vinyl siding and sliding glass door assemblers said, "No thank you," and decided to occupy the building. And there they have stayed, in a righteous sit-in, and there they say they will stay.

Says the New York Times, "The workers, members of Local 1110 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, said they were owed vacation and severance pay and were not given the 60 days of notice generally required by federal law when companies make layoffs." Seems that "the company notified employees Tuesday that they would shut down Friday, and that no severance pay or benefits would be paid out." Merry Christmas.

Imagine that. The mostly Hispanic workers telling the rest of the country, "You mean some douchebag in a suit can squat his waxed ass in a comfy leather chair in a hearing room in DC and get a few hundred billion dollars for his other douchebags in suits, no strings attached, and no one's gonna give a crap if our bosses don't even follow the law?" Auto workers, you need any more inspiration?

Not only do they have the support of the community, with people, even strangers, bringing them food and water and more, not only do they have a member of Congress, Luis
Gutierrez (guess which party), negotiating with company officials for them, but the workers now have the support of the President-elect. At press conference #572 on Sunday, Barack Obama said, "The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned, I think they're absolutely right and understand that what's happening to them is reflective of what's happening across this economy."

This is a shot across the bow to Congress, a way of saying, "Hello, you sons and daughters of bitches, this is the way corporate America has been treating your constituents for years. While you're giving AIG enough to fund a small nation, how about tilting our way for a little while?" And if they don't listen, let's hope the next protests and the ones after that are bigger and more widespread. Stuff needs to be shut down in order to wipe away all the BS lies of the free market (that's not really free). 

One of the Blackwater guards involved in the shooting deaths of at least 14 Iraqi citizens has agreed to testify against five other guards as part of a secret plea deal negotiated last month but approved and filed last Thursday.

In a stunning admission of his own wrongdoing made public today, Jeremy Ridgeway, 35, agreed to plead guilty to one count of manslaughter, attempt to commit murder and aiding and abetting.

The five other Blackwater guards surrendered to the FBI today in Salt Lake City, Utah to face charges in a 35-count federal grand jury indictment announced by the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Their arraignment has been set before District Judge Ricardo Urbina of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Jan. 6, 2009.

Click here to read the full indictment.

Paul Bremer is probably not too happy right about now.


When Americans start turning in their weapons for food yes, times are tough. AP.

Here's another sign of the tough economic times: Some clinics are reporting a surge in the number of women applying to donate eggs or serve as surrogate mothers for infertile couples.

The going rate for a surrogate is about $25,000. Egg donors generally receive $3,000 to $8,000. But a few agencies advertise that they'll pay much more for specific characteristics. One ad running in campus newspapers promises $25,000 for a donor who is "100% Jewish with ... High SAT Scores... Attractive, at Healthy Body Weight and Free of Genetic Diseases."

Men are even calling to offer up their wives. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122878524586490129.html


Report: The Taliban control 72% of Afghanistan. NATO and the Afghan government disagree:                                     http://news.antiwar.com/2008/12/08/think-tank-taliban-has-permanent-presence-in-72-percent-of-afghanistan/


The Politico has been reporting quite a bit since the election on Barack Obama's church attendance, or lack thereof. Yesterday it had another item from Ben Smith under the headline, "Another Sunday without church." http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1208/Another_Sunday_without_church.html
Thing is, that there's probably not a single pastor of a single church in this country that wingnuts wouldn't attack him for being associated with. So it's really their fault that poor President-Elect Obama has to sweat it out in a gym rather than a pew come Sunday morning.


Media conglomerate Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, as the owner of the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Cubs and other properties tries to deal with $13 billion in debt.

Isn't it great that the so-called fourth branch of government, the media, is now failing? What does this tell us about all the ownership rules that were changed so that the media could continue to swallow each other up? Does the phrase too big to fail ring any bells here?


Because the world just doesn't have enough people

70 year old in India gives birth after in vitro fertilization: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gVMhvDTsnueir-2hcwXJAXqYhlhQD94V4T8G0 


From Green Options by Nick Chambers:
A company based in California has announced that starting in February, they can convert your 2004-2009 model Prius into a plug-in hybrid electric car that can go 40 miles on battery power alone, or get 100+ miles per gallon when driven in "enhanced Prius" mode.
If money is going to continue to be passed out, I'd prefer that it go to companies like this.
Asked during a recent interview if Harriet Miers would have been excellent on the Supreme Court, George replies: 

"Absolutely. Absolutely, no question in my mind . . . and there's no doubt in my mind that my dear friend, Harriet Miers, would have had the same judicial philosophy 20 years after I went home, and had the intellectual firepower to do the job." […] His regret about the Miers case, he told us, was that "this really, really good person got chucked out there and, man, the lions tore her up."

They did indeed, and for good reason. Even after withdrawing her name in disgrace, Miers continues to demonstrate her loyalty to Bush, repeatedly defying congressional subpoenas compelling her to testify about her integral role in the U.S. Attorney scandal. She has cited a request from Bush as her reason enough to ignore Congress.


Masquerading all these years as a christian to get the votes and to invade Iraq, Bush now says that the Bible is "probably not" literally true and that a belief that God created the world is compatible with the theory of evolution. http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Bush_Bible_probably_not_literally_true_1208.html

Oh, and that he's just a "simple president."



With the economy in the crapper, bailouts not working and people all over the globe struggling, Barack Obama went on Sunday's Press the Meat and faced some tough questions from Tom Brokaw. Like "why haven't you stopped smoking?"

Non-related because it'll never happen: asking confirmed alkie Drinky McDumbass why he's still drinking.


Riots in Greece out of control: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100002_09/12/2008_102874


The recession could make you fat  

Can chicken nuggets save us from recession? McDonald's reported a global increase in comparable sales of 7.7 percent in November. Same-store sales went up 4.5 percent, buoyed, says Dow Jones Newswires, "by its breakfast business and the popularity of its chicken lineup." European same-store sales were up 7.8 percent and Asia saw 13 percent growth. Same-store sales fell for McDonald's for the first time ever in March, but have grown since then.

Financial crisis hits world's largest seed bank

The Millennium Seed Bank in Britain – a sort of Noah's Ark for plants – is under threat due to a lack of funding caused by the credit crunch. The world's largest plant conservation project opened in 2000 and was meant to gather seeds from every flowering plant on the planet and keep them stored for people in future generations that have not been killed due to climate change. 


Pakistan militants torch more NATO vehicles - 50 more with food, fuel, and supplies for the alliance troops in Afghanistan.


pdf - A coalition of more than 75 nonprofits from across the ideological spectrum are demanding transparency and accountability from Congress and the Treasury Department distributing the $700 billion economic bailout.
Groups range from the conservative National Taxpayers Union to the liberal Common Cause and include several journalistic organizations like the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The coalition requests that the government ban companies from using bailout money to pay lobbyists and demand disclosure of how the bailout funds are spent.

Its too late for transparency, because Bush's friends already have their money right before he leaves office. This is about as coincidental as the Iraq war (which is going to look like a smart investment by comparison to this fiscal mess).


The Politico says liberals are no longer so keen on Omaba:

Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on cabinet jobs and policy choices.

Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He's hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he's stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.

Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new boss looks like the old boss.

While I never personally felt Obama was a liberal (at least not liberal enough for me), I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and wait until he's actually sworn in to see what he does. I do think the biggest problem is that the far left attempted to make Barack Obama into a Messianic figure, who would be perfect, who would serve their purposes and further the progressive agenda. Turns out, they were quite frightfully wrong. 


And I'm looking in your eyes and I see wonder
Yesterday, Bush hosted a Christmas reception for children from schools on military bases (because only children whose parents are willing to fight and die in the War on Christmas deserve Christmas).

He was very excited. Perhaps a little too excited. "And we're excited you're here for a couple of reasons: One, we love to see the wonder in people's eyes when they get to see the majesty of the White House at this time of year. And I'm looking in your eyes and I'm seeing wonder." Just like the wonder he saw in Vladimir Putin's eyes. Kids, if an old guy tells you he wants to look in your eyes and see "wonder," run away as fast as you can. This has been a WIIIAI public service announcement.

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