Thursday, December 27, 2007

SAR #7362

"We are all adrift in the same boat

-- and there's no way half the boat is going to sink."

- Raul Estrada-Oyuela

Anticipation: A quick round of analysts vs company estimates for 4Q07 write-offs: for Citibank: $18.7 billion vs $8 billion. Merrill, $11.5 billion vs $6. JPMorgan, $3.4 vs $1.7 billion. In total, that's another $33 billion from just three of the big investment houses. Wonder if the folks from Dubai and Singapore worry about their investments?

Reader's Guide: A Seattle day-care center banned Legos because they taught children "assumptions about ownership and social power, that mirrored those of capitalist society". Wouldn't want the kids to grow up equipped for the real world. They might compete with Starbucks or Seattle's Best. (Thanks to Suzi.)

The Sting: In Iraq the US-backed "Anbar Salvation Council" consists of insurgents whose ideology is that of Saudi Arabia. They have not switched sides, they've forced us to accept them, using the Republican trick of presenting only two alternatives, the extreme right and the even more extreme right, and letting us think it a victory when we choose the extreme right.

Numbers, Numbers: Ted Stevens, R-AK, says it is costing the adminstration $15 billion a month to keep the population cowed. Congressional Dems say Bush's 'be afraid, be afraid' campaign has cost the US $1.5 trillion so far. Or cost you and your family $20,000 in future taxes. The White House says it is "not worried about the cost of the wars." I feel safer already. Poorer, but safer. Well, poorer.

School Daze: Stockholders may technically 'own' companies, but they are run for the benefit of the bosses, not the shareholders. Not just obscene salaries, but perks: CEO of Qwest uses the company jet to haul his daughter to school; another CEO, lives in Maine, works in Dallas, company jet commute costs $949,000 a year, a third gets $33,000 a month in 'living allowance."

Back to the Future: More than a third of the 22 planned 'clean coal' plants have been canceled, delayed or rejected by regulators. Soaring construction costs, unproven technology, and absence of compelling regulation of emissions make saving the earth unprofitable. For 10 points, spell "Kyoto"

Peaky-boo! It takes 40,000 lbs of minerals - stone, sand, gravel, zinc, iron, copper, natural gas, oil, etc - for each person in the US each year. That's 20 tons of non-renewable, finite resources. If you believe we can continue this process forever, you must be an economist.

Bend Over: EEOC ruled employers can eliminate or reduce medical benefits when retirees reach age 65, no matter what promises were made. Thus corporations can shift their obligations onto taxpayers. Naomi Earp, commission chair, said, “This rule will help employers continue to voluntarily provide and maintain these critically important health benefits.” Savor that slowly, read it over. God, you just gotta admire their balls. Now cough.

Fraud! Kris Kobach, a former counsel to John Ashcroft and current chair of the Kansas GOP,brags of caging more voters in the last year than in the previous two. Caging is the (illegal) attempt to prevent qualified, registered voters from voting. Voter suppression through caging lists was a routine part of the GOP theft of the last two presidential elections and will be a prominent part of the 2008 debacle. This violates a consent decree, issued to prevent the Republicans from operating programs to prevent voter fraud that target minorities. Someone should ask Kobach about this. Under oath.

Coming Attraction: US Central Command has finalized an agreement with Pakistan permitting US forces on the ground in Pakistan in 2008, for anti-terrorism efforts. Probably Special Forces. Probably supporting Musharraf in the civil war. Or fighting against him; you never know.

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