Thursday, April 10, 2008



Not all those who wander are lost. - J.R.R. Tolkein


JAMES MCCUSKER, EVERETT HERALD, WA - Most of us tend to think of our financial system in fairly simple terms -- maybe a little more complicated than Jimmy Stewart's Bailey Building & Loan in Bedford Falls, but not much. Actually, though, it is a lot different. To get a perspective on the change, think of a company such as Boeing. It makes airplanes and sells them to airlines around the world. The design, engineering and manufacturing process has become more complex, but managing the whole thing is still something that ordinary mortals can grasp, at least in theory. Maybe it's not so easy that a caveman could do it, but most of us can at least understand what is involved. Now suppose that Boeing's customers, the airlines, were concerned about their risk of not needing the airplane when it is delivered, and so they sell options on it -- first to other airlines and then to anybody who wants to speculate in aircraft futures. Then, Boeing suppliers start taking similar actions so that eventually the ownership and delivery schedule of every sub-assembly and part has been divided, optioned out and sold to individuals and groups around the world.

At that point, the management of Boeing would become very complex. If everything goes according to schedule, of course, there is no problem. But a disruption of any sort could cause a collapse of critical portions of the assembly process.

RADAR - "To live in America these days is to suffer. I'm not recommending to my friends back home that they come here. I'm thinking of leaving myself." The words of a misfit? An America-hating hippie who's going to pack up his patchouli and move to Montreal to get away from "the Bush-Cheney war machine, man"? No. This slur against our great nation comes from a law-breaking immigrant. And he's not alone. According to many economists, the number of those seeking to cross the border illegally is dropping precipitously, mostly due to our sickly housing industry and pisspoor economy. Where's the outrage? These people are saying that our nation isn't good enough for them anymore, and they're no longer willing to risk life and limb in an effort to come over here and be exploited by our employers so that they can do the jobs the rest of us don't want to do. . . Listen up, Francisco: When you wanted to sneak over here and pick our grapes for slave wages so that your family back in Guadalajara or wherever could have a few pennies for a chicken every now and again, this country welcomed you with open arms (and attack dogs, but let's let bygones be bygones, shall we?). Now that things are getting a little rough you want to turn tail? Now, when we don't need you the most? No deal, buddy. You're gonna sit here and suffer with the rest of us. See you on the breadline, amigo.



POLITICS 1 Time is reporting that lobbyists and developer Lanny Young -- the man who claimed he gave illegal campaign contributions to former Governor Don Siegelman (D) -- also gave sworn statements to federal prosecutors that also have illegal campaign contributions and gifts to several prominent Alabama Republicans. Young's testimony formed the basis of half of the 32 felony counts the feds filed against Siegelman during his failed 2006 campaign to recapture the Governor's Mansion. According to the magazine, Young testified that other recipients of his illegal contributions included US Senator Jeff Sessions (R) and then-Attorney General Bill Pryor (R), who is now a federal judge. Young's testimony -- now that it has come to light -- seems to lend credence to Siegelman's claim that the Bush Administration selectively prosecuted only him on the charges due to political considerations purportedly advanced at the time behind the scenes by then-White House political advisor Karl Rove. Sessions is facing re-election this year, but is heavily favored over State Senator Vivian Davis Figures (D).

DEUTSCHE WELLE, GERMANY - Germany's Green Party is setting up a branch in the United States. The bottom-up initiative aims to bring a more international perspective to the party's work and combat anti-Americanism among some members back home. The chapter is due to be officially founded in Washington DC. It hopes to tap into the experiences of the growing number of Germans working in the US capital in international organizations, foundations and think tanks, as well as in the media, the culture industry and higher education. "We've discovered that there are a lot of Germans in town who are young, tolerant and cosmopolitan and who share Green values or are active in the Green party," said chapter co-founder Arne Jungjohann. "We want to offer them a platform.". . . It is the Greens' second branch abroad. The party also has a group based in Brussels, the headquarters of the European Commission.

PR WATCH For Mark Penn, who recently resigned as Hillary Clinton's chief campaign strategist, the campaign "has been about as effective an economic stimulus program for himself as anything his clients have ever proposed for the nation," reports Mike Madden. Penn's polling firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, has billed the campaign $14 million for polling, direct mail, and consulting services -- nearly 9 percent of her entire campaign expenditures. "Getting rich off free-spending campaigns is, of course, a time-honored tradition in politics, and it isn't just Mark Penn who does it," Madden adds, noting that campaign consultants to Barack Obama and John Kerry have also raked in millions of dollars. "Campaign finance experts say most people who give to candidates figure it's being spent on TV ads. What few of them know is how much of the 'TV ad' budget winds up paying for a consultant's beach house."

JOSH GOODMAN, GOVERNING A candidate for lieutenant governor in Missouri says he might not accept the office's full salary if elected. You can call that an act of generosity or a political gimmick. But the State of Missouri may call it a crime. . . It's against state elections law to promise to take a lower salary or pledge a portion of a public official's paycheck to charity to attract votes. The penalty is one year in jail or a fine of less than $2,500.

POLITICAL PUNCH, ABC NEWS - At a Michelle Obama event, reporters from the Carnegie-Mellon University student newspaper "observed one event coordinator say to another, 'Get me more white people, we need more white people.' To an Asian girl sitting in the back row, one coordinator said, 'We're moving you, sorry. It's going to look so pretty, though.' "'I didn't know they would say, "We need a white person here,"' said attendee and senior psychology major Shayna Watson, who sat in the crowd behind Mrs. Obama. 'I understood they would want a show of diversity, but to pick up people and to reseat them, I didn't know it would be so outright.'" . . . In any case, that Michelle Obama advance staffer just summed up the candidate's issues in Pennsylvania. They do, indeed, need more white people.

CBS - As polls continue to show Barack Obama maintaining a double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton in the May 6 North Carolina primary, The Associated Press reports that voter registration among blacks is soaring in the Tar Heel State. . . The AP reports that over 45,000 blacks registered to vote in the first three months of this year, while about 106,000 whites signed up to vote during the same period. Those numbers are both way up from 2004, when just over 11,000 blacks and 47,000 whites registered during the first quarter of that year, but the percentage increase of new black registrants was much higher than new whites.


WALL STREET JOURNAL - College students in need of private loans to pay for the coming academic year will have to grapple with higher interest rates and tougher credit checks. Even then, some who have qualified for such loans in the past probably won't this year. . . Private loans have been one of the fastest-growing ways to pay for college. In 2006-07, students and their parents took out an estimated $17.1 billion in private loans, up from $1.57 billion in 1996-1997, according to the most recent tally from the College Board. The $17.1 billion represents 22% of all the borrowing to pay for college that year.


ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT GAZETTE Abel Tomlinson began thinking about running for Congress when he realized U. S. Rep. John Boozman could be re-elected without challenge this year. With no Democrat in the race, Tomlinson decided about a week ago that he will seek the Green Party nomination in his bid to unseat Boozman, a Republican. Tomlinson, a Fayetteville resident and a University of Arkansas graduate student, knows it's a long shot. . . Green Party officials hope to recruit candidates to run in all five congressional races in Arkansas this year.. . . Tomlinson is an outspoken senator in the UA's Associated Student Government and a former columnist for The Arkansas Traveler. . . Mark Swaney, the Green Party treasurer, said the party will continue to recruit federal candidates and may make more federal nominations in June, in hopes of fielding challengers in all congressional races. . . Without the Green Party, Swaney said, Arkansas would have "Soviet-style" elections for Congress this year, with only one person on the ballot in each race


SARAH BOSELEY, GUARDIAN, UK The real benefit of some cancer drugs may be exaggerated because of a growing tendency for firms and investigators to call a premature halt to trials the moment a benefit appears, experts warn today. Italian researchers writing in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology reveal a dramatic increase in the number of studies terminated early. They claim that in some cases drug companies are rushing with early, incomplete results to the licensing authorities. One reason, the researchers suggest, is a desire to get their drugs on the market ahead of their competitors. Among 14 of these early results published between 2005 and 2007, 11 were used to support a licence application. "This suggests a commercial component in stopping trials prematurely. In fact, this strategy could guarantee quicker access to the market for companies," said one of the authors, Dr Giovanni Apolone from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan.


At April 10, 2008 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and not all who are quoted get their names spelled right.


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