Saturday, December 20, 2008
Here is the question that I asked before and still curious. Anyone pass by those libraries that Sarah Michalak banned from showing Christmas trees because the slow witted employees hated it to see if any other celebration is going on? That is the real curiosity.
|Watkins said he was afraid conditions that the Bush administration included in the loans tied to cutting labor costs meant workers would have to make more concessions. The UAW made what were seen as landmark give-backs on healthcare and other issues in a new contract with automakers in 2007.|
"We've already made so many concessions," he said. "What other concessions can we make? What have we left to give?"
The UAW wants to work with the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to reverse those conditions. But many workers on Friday said they felt resigned.
"I guess we'll have to make concessions," said Linda Tinch, an inspector, shivering in the biting wind. "I don't care any more. What choice do we have anyway?
Steven Haughton said he didn't much mind either. "As long as they don't mess with our healthcare, I'm fine," he said.
But Edward Bedwell, a metal repairman, said UAW-represented workers' best chance of keeping their wages and benefits was hanging on for Barack Obama to take office.
"Obama will help us more than Bush," he said. "We'll still have to make concessions under Obama, but he cares about us more than Bush does."
|I’ve obtained documents sent to a reader in response to his FOIA request regarding the creation of Barack Obama’s Change.gov website. It gives you the rest of the story. You’ll recall last month that I blogged several questions about the propriety of allowing the perpetual Obama campaign to use a .gov domain name for what appeared to be a fund-raising front. Readers and industry observers noted that the decision appeared to violate General Services Administration rules governing government domains.|
Guess what? They were right. The FOIA documents sent to Lance O., which he forwarded to me, reveal that the GSA initially rejected Obama’s application for “Change.gov.” On Oct. 21, Peter Alterman, Deputy Associate Administrator of Technology Strategy at the GSA, denied the Obama campaign’s request for a government domain because:
1) It would be a a violation of the government’s naming conventions (too generic); and
2) using ‘change’ in the domain name would be political, since it was the trademark slogan of the Obama campaign.
The day after the election, on Nov. 5, GSA Chief Information Officer Casey Coleman overruled Alterman after apparently receiving a waiver from Chris Lu, Executive Director of Obama’s Transition Project. As reader Lance discovered through his FOIA request, Ms. Coleman did not elaborate on the granting of this waiver except to say that she had “determined that it is in the best interest of the Federal Government to register the subject domain name.”
As another GSA official who facilitated the convenient change in policy regarding change.gov exulted to the Obama campaign after the domain was granted, “Rock and roll!”
Thanks to reader Lance for filing the FOIA request and giving us a peek into the GSA bureaucracy for change.
Friday, December 19, 2008
|At a news conference called to announce the final members of his cabinet, Pres.-elect Barack Obama took only three questions. None was about Gov. Rod Blagojevich.|
The first question was about the auto bailout, the second, from a Univision reporter, was about jobs and went to Obama and Labor Secretary-designate Rep. Hilda Solis. The third question went to NBC's Savannah Guthrie who asked about Obama's expected stimulus package.
On Tuesday, Obama told a Chicago Tribune reporter, "I don't want you to waste your question," after he asked about the embattled Illinois governor.
|GM Sticks With FX's 'Damages' AdAge|
General Motors, which dropped plans to advertise on the Super Bowl and the Oscars, continues as a sponsor of FX's "Damages," which will kick off its second season with a commercial-free episode courtesy of Cadillac, Advertising Age says.
"We were already signed, sealed and delivered. While it's true we have cut back on a number of things, we are honoring our commitments where we have them, and this was one of those," Joanne Krell, director-communications for Cadillac, tells the trade magazine.
| The UAW today said it is pleased that the Bush administration approved bridge loans to prop up General Motors Corp. and Chrysler during the economic downturn but is concerned that the restructuring conditions outlined in the terms of the loan unfairly single out hourly workers, and said it will work with the Obama administration to remove conditions it views as unfair.|
"All stakeholders – management, directors, bondholders, suppliers, dealers, workers – will have to participate in shared sacrifices to help the industry move forward," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement, noting that UAW members have already made substantial sacrifices to help make the domestic auto
companies more competitive.
“We are disappointed that," President Bush, "has added unfair conditions singling out workers," Gettelfinger said. “We will work with the Obama administration and the new Congress to ensure that these unfair conditions are removed, as we join in the coming months with all stakeholders to create a viable
future for the U.S. auto industry."
I told you, come March more money to pay off the union.
You really could not find a worse state to stupid to figure out that more taxes/fees to pay for growing social programs and wasted spending is a bad idea.
|Reporting from Washington — Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-El Monte), a Congressional Hispanic Caucus leader considered to be one of the most reliably pro-union voices in the House, is President-elect Barack Obama's choice to head the Labor Department, a Democratic official said Thursday.|
Obama is expected to announce the selection at a news conference today in Chicago.
Solis, 51, would be the third Latino member of Obama's Cabinet, a measure of diversity that has garnered praise from this fast-growing slice of the electorate.
After Obama nominated New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to be his Commerce secretary, some Latino officials complained that they were being shut out of the most prestigious Cabinet posts. Richardson at one time had been rumored to be in line for secretary of State, before Obama offered him the Commerce slot.
Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto) had cautioned that Obama's legislative agenda might face roadblocks unless more Latinos were installed in top positions.
Since then, Obama has said he will nominate Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) as secretary of the Interior, and now Solis as Labor secretary. Prominent Latino officials are now praising the new Cabinet's makeup.
In an interview Thursday, Baca said: "We're glad he listened to our voices and listened to the Hispanic community that came out and delivered for him on election day. It's a great day for the Hispanic community."
Oh yeah, she was picked based on ethnic background not any actually talent for the job.
|Elected to Congress in 2000 from a district that includes swaths of East L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley, Solis has consistently voted in support of labor's interests. A congressional voting analysis conducted by the AFL-CIO showed that she voted with organized labor 100% of the time last year.|
She supported measures increasing the minimum wage, making it easier for workers to organize and preserving a ban on privatizing jobs at the Labor Department. Other labor groups that study congressional voting patterns gave her a 100% rating in 2005 and 2006.
J.P. Fielder, spokesman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, suggested that Solis' voting record is overly weighted in labor's favor. "The business community recognizes that economic growth has happened in a number of non-unionized states. She has sided with the AFL-CIO in 97% of the votes that she has cast on the Hill," he said.
|Jeez, but it's bewildering why Paramount took out 7 pages of full-page ads in The New York Times today for Revolutionary Road. Talk about overkill. Or why Paramount commissioned a full frills "making of" The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button coffee table book published by Rizzoli and selling for $45 which the studio bigwigs are sending out as Xmas gifts to Hollywood. |
"It's so unbelievably pretentious and self-promoting and self-aggrandizing that I just can't not comment on it," one recipient phoned me. But the studio isn't alone. Oscar campaign spending, which went into reverse when Harvey Weinstein left Miramax, is now back in overdrive.
Even as cutbacks are being announced at the majors and minors, Disney inserted a book on Wall-E -- that's right, a book -- into the Los Angeles Times at a cost of what I'm told is $675,000 -- all to reach a few thousand Academy voters since the pic was already out on video.
"So a $675,000 insert is falling out of newspapers sent to 1 in 10 homes in foreclosure.
No way that's going to help the business of Wall-E with consumers. That is just about flattering the ego of John Lassiter, especially when Wall-E is already going to win Best Animated Feature," an insider complained to me.
On the day Viacom announced its bloodletting, Paramount had a color gatefold ad in Variety for The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. Cost: $250,000, or about 5 assistants' salaries.
|Viability Requirement: The firms must use these funds to become financially viable. Taxpayers will not be asked to provide financing for firms that do not become viable. If the firms have not attained viability by March 31, 2009, the loan will be called and all funds returned to the Treasury.|
Someone explain how they are going to show any sort of viability in three months? Chrysler is going on paid vacation for a month to begin with and how are you going to collect this loan back if its only going to cover the next 3 months to begin with?
Here is what is going to happen. Obama comes in and pours billions and billions into Detroit. Since we have established that Detroit is too big to fail and especially in these rough economic times, we the American taxpayer are going to subsidies Detroit and the unions for the forseeable future.
No way in hell will the Dems let Detroit go thru bankruptcy and slash jobs. You will useless symbolic firings and a rash of promises for the future.
Meantime, I am buying a Toyota.
Detroit papers are happy and even sneering because they see what this garbage is about.
|Detroit says thank you, Mr. President.|
And a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, too.
President’s George W. Bush’s 9 a.m. holiday gift basket for Detroit automakers was $17.4 billion in short-term bridge loans to help General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC survive to see 2009.
The gift basket comes with lots of stern words about concessions, viability plans and possible bankruptcy in the future. But there’s little in the way of enforcement mechanisms.
It will be up to the incoming Obama administration to set the strict terms and timetable for the profound changes to come for Detroit’s automakers, workers, suppliers, dealers and debtors.
This is not cause for wild celebration of the party-like-it’s-1999 variety.
Rather, it’s an occasion for thanks and relief that GM and Chrysler will still be around to slog through the messy, difficult times that 2009 will bring.
And for now, that’s good enough.
They know Obama isn't going to do anything remotely punitive to them. This was the last chance to make Detroit change.
Dems already unhappy that there are any requirements for change.
|Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, was pleased Bush approved the loans but not happy with one of the conditions.|
"It is irresponsible during a time of economic crisis for the White House to insist that workers take further wage cuts on top of the historic concessions they have already made," he said.
American taxpayer on the hook though I would like to see what are these "historic" concessions. The suspension of the job bank or the one month paid vacation?
And I will just add this on to point out how not cost cutting or wise it is to give this much money this state/city is in a recession lets just add on more expense to benefit an industry that says it can't afford it.
|LANSING – Lawmakers this morning approved a deal to fund a $279-million expansion of Detroit’s Cobo Center and share authority of its operation among the city, state and three surrounding counties.|
The legislation clears the way to upgrade the convention center to keep the North American International Auto Show, an expansion that’s been stalled by squabbling between metro Detroit leaders.
The legislation creates a five-member governing board to oversee Cobo operations – one member appointed by the city’s mayor, one by the governor and one each representing Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
All five have individual veto power over decisions in building and running Cobo.
To pay for the $279-million expansion, the agreement extends to 2039 taxes on statewide liquor sales and metro Detroit hotel-motel rooms. Those taxes – 4% on poured liquor and 1% to 4% on local hotel rooms -- were to expire in 2015.
The state will kick in $9 million. Also, $16 million would be funneled to Cobo Center from the state’s cigarette tax revenues through 2039.
To reduce the original $308-million price tag for the project, sales and use taxes will be exempted for contractors involved in the construction.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
|A Muslim cocktail waitress who claims she was sacked for refusing to wearing an 'indecent' red dress is suing a bar for £20,000. |
Fata Lemes, 33, said the figure-hugging scarlet dress made her look like a nightclub hostess and was 'physically revealing and openly sexual'.
Customers pestered her for sex while she was working at the upmarket Mayfair bar, she claimed, and managers ran it 'like a sex club'.
Miss Lemes said bosses at the Rocket bar allowed customers to think that 'waitresses could be treated as prostitutes'.
She is suing for sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
She said she was fired when she refused to wear the dress and is claiming £20,000 for injury to her feelings and lost earnings.
Miss Lemes, who is from Bosnia, told an employment tribunal she tried the outfit on and found it was 'physically revealing and openly sexual'.
She said: 'It was indecent. If you put this dress on, you might as well be naked.
'Everything finishes in the middle at the chest. It is open at the front and back. I
did not want men looking at my body. I was brought up a Muslim, and am not used to wearing sexually attractive clothes.'
|General Motors and Chrysler have reopened merger talks, with Chrysler's private owners signaling a willingness to give away part of its stake in the automaker, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the discussions.|
With cash running low at both companies, Chrysler majority owner Cerberus Capital Management took the initiative to restart discussions that sputtered just weeks ago, the paper said.
The renewal of the talks could be a way for Cerberus to show Washington, which is weighing a $14 billion rescue package for the auto industry, that it wants to cooperate in restructuring the industry, the paper said, citing people familiar with the buyout firm’s thinking. An auto-industry bailout was rejected by the Senate last week, and now the Bush administration has suggested it will extend a helping hand to prevent the industry from collapsing.
|In the blogosphere, writers are livid at the instant rate hikes -- called "rate-jacking."|
Citigroup seems to be the target of most bloggers' venom -- partly because Citigroup issues so many credit cards and partly because Citi began sending the notices at about the same time it was getting a $20 billion, taxpayer-financed government bailout.
No one at Citigroup would talk on camera to CNN about the matter. Instead, the company issued a written statement, which said: "To continue funding in this difficult credit and funding environment, Citi is repricing a group of customers."
Citi told CNN that anyone unhappy with the new rates can opt out and continue paying the lower interest, but they must close their account when their card expires. It's all in the fine print.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, said she is sick of the fine print.
She agreed that credit card companies get away with whatever they want, as long at they put their desires into the fine print.
"They have this provision that says they can raise the rate -- any time, any reason," she said.
In September, Maloney got the House to pass by an overwhelming margin of 200 votes the "credit card holders' bill of rights," which would have stopped rate-jacking and the imposition of other fees by banks.
Now this I disagree with it, the agreement is all there for card holders to read and understand. To use their card you agree with the terms and I have no problem with them raising credit card rates. Its their card not mine.
But I have every right to be angry when they raise the rate even though I played by their rules. The biggest punishment is to not use citibank who seems to be the worse abuser of rate jacking. It doesn't mean making more laws that will screw things up even worse.
|Islamic proposals to ban criticism of religion, which have gathered strength since the publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad two years ago, threaten to derail an already troubled U.N. anti-racism conference planned for next year.|
The European Union rejects suggestions by Algeria — backed by other Muslim and African countries — that limits on free speech are needed to stop the publication of offensive articles and images.
Supporters of the proposal, who have been pushing for such a ban to be included in international anti-discrimination charters, want it discussed in April at a high-level United Nations anti-racism meeting in Geneva.
But European diplomats say that is out of the question.
"We have made it clear from the start that we will not negotiate," French diplomat Daniel Vosgien told The Associated Press on Wednesday. France currently holds the rotating presidency of the 27-nation EU.
Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions, said the Islamic demands could wreck the meeting.
|Barack Obama’s choice of a prominent evangelical minister to perform the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory gesture toward social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is drawing fierce challenges from a gay rights movement that – in the wake of a gay marriage ban in California – is looking for a fight.|
Rick Warren, the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, opposes abortion rights but has taken more liberal stances on the government role in fighting poverty, and backed away from other evangelicals’ staunch support for economic conservatism. But it’s his support for the California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that drew the most heated criticism from Democrats Wednesday.
“Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans,” the president of Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solomonese, wrote Obama Wednesday. “[W]e feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination.”
The rapid, angry reaction from a range of gay activists comes as the gay rights movement looks for an opportunity to flex its political muscle. Last summer gay groups complained, but were rebuffed by Obama, when an “ex-gay” singer led Obama’s rallies in South Carolina. And many were shocked last month when voters approved the California ban.
“There is a lot of energy and there’s a lot of anger and I think people are wanting to direct it somewhere,” Solomonese told Politico.
This move won't soothe anyone, its a political ploy and people can see that but after the outrageous behavior of the gay community over prop 8 where the terms nigger was bantered about because blacks voted to ban gay marriage in California and people who voted for the ban have been hounded out of their jobs.
I am not a Rick Warren fan but this political witchhunt by Prop 8 opponents has to stop and someone point out the more they lash out like this the more harm it does to get people to even listen to them.
|The European parliament voted today to scrap Britain's opt-out from the maximum 48-hour working week.|
A 421-273 vote of MEPs was hailed as a "triumph" as MEPs cheered the result – but months of negotiations with EU governments and the European commission will now follow.
Most British Labour MEPs backed the call to end the opt-out – clashing with the prime minister, Gordon Brown, who wants it to stay.
At least 14 other EU countries now take advantage of an opt-out, once championed only by Britain as vital to business flexibility.
With an economic downturn in full swing, more countries want the option of exceeding the 48-hour week – and earlier this week the commission admitted it had reversed its own opposition to keeping the opt-out because of pressure from so many member states.
But today MEPs bucked the trend, voting by a bigger margin than expected in favour of a resolution that the opt-out should be gone by 2011.
It would force employers across Europe to stick to a maximum 48-hour week, averaged over a year.
The arrangement to average the maximum out provides sufficient short-term scope for bosses and workers to work longer hours if necessary, supporters of the ban argued.
But opponents said it should not be up to the EU to determine the working patterns of very different employment cultures in the member states.
|Stephen Hughes (CIF): For Europe as a whole, the only way to ensure fair competition between enterprises is to have the same rules for everyone, including on working time.|
See, you can't have people who want to work longer hours than other people because that makes them more competitive while the lazy bastards who want to work less get upset. This makes the EU as whole in a couple of years a laggard in the world economy. The recession is not going to last forever and regions where the people work harder and longer of their own choice will guarantee the socialist idiots like Hughes who pushed for law for lazy people get left behind.
There is a chance there could be ways to opt out still considering so many countries have an opt-out agreement.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
|Members of the United Auto Workers union on temporary layoff are eligible to receive 95 percent of their usual take- home pay, from a combination of unemployment-insurance benefits and a supplement from automakers. Labor costs make up about 10 percent of the cost of producing a vehicle. |
Assembly operations at Chrysler won’t resume until Jan. 19 at the earliest, the automaker said today in a statement, without specifying the size of the cut in output.
So the American taxpayer before they make a bailout plan is paying for union workers to sit around for a month.
|New restrictions on marijuana selling cafés, a ban on the sale of magic mushrooms and plans to clean up Amsterdam's red light district have been announced across Holland.|
"The nation's ideals are being tested by the reality they brought," said sociologist Dick Houtman of Rotterdam's Erasmus University.
"The Netherlands went further in allowing all sorts of liberties than many other countries. The test is severe. There is a feeling that our tolerance is the principal cause of many of the problems we experience now. The debate is about where liberty and tolerance should end and where order should begin."
A national ban on hallucinogenic "padda" or magic mushrooms entered into force on Dec 1 after being blamed for the death last March of a 17-year old French girl, a drug tourist to Amsterdam.
"Coffee shop" cafés, legalised to sell cannabis, since 1976 have been closed, and more restrictions are to come, by city councils concerned at their link to organised crime and the often unpopular and disorderly hordes of marijuana tourists attracted to the Netherlands.
Last week, Amsterdam announced that it planned to halve the number of its shop window brothels and cannabis cafés in an attempt to drive pimps, money launderers and criminals out of the city.
|It wasn't until recently, however, that the economic downturn really threatened to impact the lives of many professional athletes. Yes, Scores, the famed Manhattan strip club that has been a second home to area sports figures for more than a decade, has announced it will be shutting its doors at he end of this month.|
Club owners blamed both the weak economy and the loss of a liquor license for the club's demise. (Apparently, a champagne room that serves just ginger ale doesn't cut it. Not to mention the fact that when you are sober you might think more about what your wife might say when she sees that $1,000 charge on your credit card.)
The announcement brings an end to an era that started in 1990 with one club at 333 E. 60th St. and grew into a chain of seven clubs, including another one on West 27th Street. At its peak, the East Side scores was a gossip columnists dream, regularly drawing celebrities such as Mark Messier, Jason Giambi, Madonna and shock jock Howard Stern, who constantly talked about the club on his radio show.
But its going to happen anyway and in March the Big 3 comes back for more money since this first bailout is to just keep them alive is going to be even more fun. American taxpayers are now going to directly fund the auto unions to carry out more blackmail to keep up the Big 3.
|During today's press conference, President-elect Baracj Obama brushed off a question from Chicago Tribune reporter John McCormick about the Blagojevich scandal, and what interaction any advisers had with the Illinois governor.|
"I don't want you to waste your question," Obama said.
McCormick asked another Blago-related question, and Obama said he wouldn't confirm a report in the Tribune from this weekend. Obama also said that the U.S. attorney's office asked his team to withhold an internal review until next week.
After a few attempts, the reporter finally followed up by asking who had the better jump shot: Obama or incoming education secretary Arne Duncan?
The interaction with McCormick stood out from previous meetings with the press. And speaking about the exchange on MSNBC shortly after, NBC Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker said that reporters have not been aggressive enough during Obama's post-election pressers.
"Our job is to hold him to account," Whitaker said, adding that he thinks "we're going to have to get tougher."
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter followed up: "We need the Sam Donaldsons of the world."
The video does show a bit of the arrogant Obama who has dodged questions he didn't like from the press since his campaign started but for whatever reason this dodge has ticked off his cheerleaders that make up the press corp.
|The US Federal Reserve slashed its key interest rate to virtually zero to counter deflation and a global financial crisis as European governments braced for deeper recession.|
The central bank's Federal Open Market Committee lowered its target federal funds rate from 1.0 percent, already at a historic low, to a range of zero to 0.25 percent.
In Europe's biggest economy, Germany, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper quoted a government memo saying contraction in 2009 could be three percent or more, which would be the worst recession in Germany's post-war history.
Switzerland forecast its economy will shrink by 0.8 percent in 2009 as the global economic crisis bites and unemployment rises, with a recovery not seen until 2010.
Sweden's government projected the economy would contract 0.8 percent next year due to the widening global financial crisis, the country's worst economic performance in three decades.
|In talks with Emanuel and others, sources say, Pelosi has “set parameters” for what she wants from Barack Obama and his White House staff — no surprises, and no backdoor efforts to go around her and other Democratic leaders by cutting deals with moderate New Democrats or conservative Blue Dogs.|
Specifically, Pelosi has told Emanuel that she wants to know when representatives of the incoming administration have any contact with her rank-and-file Democrats — and why, sources say.
During the Bush years, the White House set policy, and Republicans on Capitol Hill were expected to follow it. Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) occasionally lashed out at former White House chief of staff Andy Card or other senior administration aides when he felt they had gone too far. But in general, Republican lawmakers followed Bush’s lead on every major legislative battle, from Iraq to tax and spending bills to anti-terror policies. With the exception of immigration reform, the House fight over the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package and last week’s meltdown over a bailout for the Big Three automakers, Bush got what he wanted from Congress, especially within his own party.
Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are signaling that they won’t tolerate a repeat with a Democrat in the White House and Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate.
Pelosi “is not going to allow Obama to triangulate her,” said a Democratic source close to the leadership. “It’s not going to happen to her.”
Who got elected President? Who has the bully pulpit? I am pretty sure its not Pelosi and her lapboy Reid. Obama needs to set his parameters and make sure both Reid/Pelosi understand he is the one who is going to move the party not them. He is not up there as their house boy to do their bidding.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
|With gas-tax revenues plummeting, the state of North Carolina is looking seriously at taxing motorists for how far they drive. |
If the “road-use tax” is implemented, it would at first be simple – with the state checking your odometer annually and taxing you based on how many miles you have driven. But transportation experts say new GPS technology could allow the state to charge people different rates based on when and where they drive, in an attempt to manage congestion.
Talk of a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax has long been discussed as a necessity in a decade or so, because cars are becoming more fuel efficient, and states and the federal government are losing gas-tax revenue.
But there is now a sense of urgency about the new VMT tax. When gas hit $4 a gallon this summer, Americans sharply curtailed their driving. And when the economy cratered this fall, the driving rollback continued, even when gas prices plummeted.
The 21st Century Transportation Committee suggested that, in addition to the gas tax, motorists pay a quarter-cent for each mile they drive, with the first 2,000 miles annually free. A motorist who drives 12,000 miles a year would pay $25 – possibly due when the driver gets the car inspected.
It's unlikely the General Assembly will add a new tax in 2009, during a recession.
Rule of thumb. government will tax you one way or another.
| The Bush administration could act as early as Wednesday to approve an automaker bailout from its bank rescue fund, with conditions likely to reflect at least those approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, key lawmakers and other sources said on Monday.|
A Treasury Department official said the agency and auto company executives continued to review financial and other information, and that no decision had been made. The White House is actively involved in the matter, officials said.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said, however, the government would have to be satisfied the industry could survive and compete in order to receive help.
"We would have to assure ourselves that this was a step on the path to long-term viability," Paulson told Fox News.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, says the administration will likely use part of the $700 billion fund established in October to stabilize the financial services sector, rather than pushing the companies into bankruptcy, as some lawmakers have urged.
"That would be my expectation and I think all the signals coming from the White House are that they know that bankruptcy is not an option and that (stabilization) funds are the only recourse that they have," Pelosi said at a news conference.
|THE Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, signalled his support for developed countries, including Australia, agreeing to making deep cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions in the next 12 years.|
In a significant move last night the Australian delegation to the UN climate talks stated it "fully supports" the proposal that developed countries need to cut their greenhouse gas emission by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020.
He finally puts out the white paper and well...
|Australia today pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 5%-15% by 2020 via the world's broadest cap and trade scheme.|
Business analysts believed that industry overall would be relieved at the trimming of some of the costs to polluters but environmental campaigners condemned the deal.
The prime minister, Kevin Rudd, said the interim plan would not affect his commitment to slash the carbon emissions that are blamed for global warming by 60% from 2000 levels by 2050.
Green groups ain't happy.
|"You could say that the decision came down to a choice between the environment and the economy and at this stage it looks like the economy has won," said Gary Cox, head of environmental derivatives at global brokers Newedge.|
Green groups agreed. "The weak targets announced today will damage Australia's international reputation and hold back progress toward an effective international agreement [in Copenhagen]," Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry said.
Frank Jotzo, an Australian National University economist who specialises in climate change policy, concurred. "It's disappointing because it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for Australia to come to the party of an ambitious international agreement," Jotzo said.
This is the mild reaction as Tim Blair reveling in the backtracking of Chairman Rudd details. It seems Rudd has put the planet on its deathwalk.
But this again illustrates my point whenever you hear EU or Australia or any of these countries pledge to cut gases, its all a bunch of crap. No way even in boom times would cutting back this much and hurting the economy would pass the voters. Now in a world wide recession, Rudd was smart enough to realize his original pledge was too much.
Or he could have been lying all along and once again the green groups fell for it.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
|An Iranian woman, blinded by a jilted stalker who threw acid in her face, has persuaded a court to sentence him to be blinded with acid himself under Islamic law demanding an eye for an eye.|
Ameneh Bahrami refused to accept "blood money." She insisted instead that her attacker suffer a fate similar to her own "so people like him would realize they do not have the right to throw acid in girls' faces," she told the Tehran Provincial Court.
Her attacker, a 27-year-old man identified in court papers as Majid, admitted throwing acid in her face in November 2004, blinding and disfiguring her. He said he loved her and insisted she loved him as well.
He has until early this week to appeal the sentence.
...The three-judge panel ruled unanimously on November 26 that Majid should be blinded with acid and forced to pay compensation for the injuries to Bahrami's face, hands and body caused by the acid.
That was what she had demanded earlier in the trial. But she did not ask for his face to be disfigured, as hers was.
"Of course, only blind him and take his eyes, because I cannot behave the way he did and ask for acid to be thrown in his face," she said. "Because that would be [a] savage, barbaric act. Only take away his sight so that his eyes will become like mine. I am not saying this from a selfish motive. This is what society demands."
|"....Iran's dependence on oil money is staggering. Oil funds 60 percent of the government budget, economists say, supporting billions in public subsidies of goods such as gasoline, sugar and bread. A research center affiliated with Iran's parliament reported last week that the government depends on oil at $80 a barrel to keep its accounts balanced.|
Iran's oil income has dropped from $300 million to $100 million a day, and if oil prices stay in the $30-$40 a barrel range, the country could see more than $70 billion in expected funds evaporate - and with it a significant chunk of Iran's gross domestic product, economists say.
"It's a huge oil shock in reverse for Iran," said oil historian Daniel Yergin, author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of oil. "It places tremendous pressure on the Iranian economy."
Poorer Iranians are likely to be hardest hit. In the long run, the shock could help the country's economy if it sparks structural reforms and a revival of the country's moribund domestic industries.
However, the reforms, which will be painful and unpopular, seem certain to be postponed until after Iran's presidential elections in June.
Criticism of Ahmadinejad's handling of the economy is rampant, from the salons of wealthier Tehranis to the shops in the city's poorer southern districts.
"Every new idea from his side has made a catastrophic disaster for the country," said Saeed Laylaz, an independent economist who served under reformist president Mohammad Khatami and runs an economy-focused newspaper, which he said faces the threat of government closure.
While international economic pressure so far has merely raised the cost of doing business, "the sanctions are going to be more painful" because of the crash in oil prices, Laylaz said.
Critics say Ahmadinejad's spending, which has revived thousands of infrastructure projects, many dating from before Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, has fueled inflation and waste. Promised economic reforms have yet to materialize. His decision to convert Iran's foreign exchange reserves from dollars to euros to evade the sanctions has cost the country as much as $5 billion as the dollar has strengthened."
|The Australian government plans to test a nationwide Web filter that would require Internet service providers to block access to thousands of sites containing illegal content, officials say.|
The proposed filter is part of an $82 million cybersafety plan begun in May with the goals of protecting children and stopping adults from downloading content that is illegal to possess in Australia, like child pornography or terrorist materials.
But the plan has prompted opposition from online advocacy groups and industry experts who say it would slow browsing speeds and do little to block undesirable content.
In November, the minister of communications, Stephen Conroy, invited Internet service providers and mobile phone operators to participate in a live trial of the program, which is set to begin this month. The department of communications will use the results to decide how to proceed with the plan.
The proposed system consists of two tiers. Under the first, all Australian service providers would be required to block access to about 10,000 Web sites on a list maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the federal monitor that oversees film classifications.
The second tier would require service providers to offer an optional filter that individuals could apply to block material deemed unsuitable for children.
The government says the list, which is not available to the public, includes only illegal content, mostly child pornography. But technology, left-wing and other advocacy groups, and technology businesses worry that the filter could be used to block sites focused on what some consider controversial topics, like gambling or euthanasia. “Even if the scheme is introduced with the best of intentions, there will be enormous political pressure on the government to expand the list,” said Colin Jacobs, the vice chairman of Electronic Frontiers Australia, a technology advocacy organization. “We worry that the scope of the list would expand at a very rapid rate.”
| Two months after being hammered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, banks and investment funds in Europe are trembling in the face of the massive fraud allegedly perpetrated by New York broker Bernard Madoff. |
Private European banks and investors specialised in the placement of high-risk hedge funds could have exposure of up to several billion dollars in the scandal.
Madoff was arrested on Thursday for allegedly defrauding his customers through a giant pyramid scheme, with prosecutors alleging that the 70-year-old, a decades-long veteran of Wall Street, confessed to losing at least 50 billion dollars in the so-called Ponzi scheme.
Madoff's company, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, attracted "the world's financial aristocracy," said the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Among his clients were international banks as well as discreet private banks and companies involved in managing the fortunes of a single wealthy family.
Swiss bankers face losses of up to five billion dollars (3.7 billion euros), Geneva's Le Temps newspaper said.
It said that Union Bancaire Privee, a major asset management institution specialising in hedge funds, could be exposed to the tune of one billion dollars.
|The customer shot inside a Northeast Baltimore carryout — while onlookers laughed — says six or seven people “stepped around” him to order food as he sat on the ground bleeding. |
“They stepped around me to get their orders,” said Marvin Edmonds, 45, in an interview with The Examiner on Friday. “It was like I was in their way. It was like, ‘Man, I don’t care that you got shot. Move.’ I felt like a piece of nothing. No one asked me, ‘Was I all right? Do you need me to make a phone call? Do you want me to help you off the floor? ... The owners of the store they just turned around and continued to serve people and make orders.”
We live in a I see nothing society and this is just a typical example of it, I can't tell if the girls laugh is geniune or nervous in a situation, what is worse is the aftermath. Disgusting behavior by everyone