|In a striking example of corporate hardball, the New York Times Co. has threatened to shut down one of its journalistic jewels, the Boston Globe, unless the New England paper's unions agree to sweeping concessions. |
The Globe quoted union officials last night as saying that Times and Globe executives made the demands in a 90-minute meeting with union officials. The unions were asked to quickly agree to $20 million in cost-cutting moves to avoid the potential shutdown.
The executives told the union leaders that the Boston paper will lose $85 million this year without serious cutbacks, the Globe report said. An employee briefed on the discussions was quoted as saying the Globe lost $50 million last year.
Such demands have become an increasingly common tactic in the struggling newspaper business, and it is hard to imagine that the Times would actually abandon the paper it bought for $1.1 billion in 1993. Hearst recently used a threat to close the San Francisco Chronicle to win swift union concessions. The Times newspaper said last week that it is laying off 100 employees and cutting the salaries of most of those who remain by as much as 5 percent this year.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
|NATO leaders appointed Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO's new secretary-general Saturday after overcoming Turkish objections to a leader who angered Muslims around the world by supporting the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad.|
NATO's outgoing head, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, said NATO's 28 member nations reached unanimity after a series of Turkish "concerns" were addressed at the alliance's two-day, 60th-anniversary summit.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that his government's requests had included the closure of a Kurdish satellite television broadcaster based in Denmark; the establishment of contacts between NATO and Islamic countries; appointment of a Turk as an aide to Fogh Rasmussen and senior NATO command positions for Turkish generals.
Erdogan said President Barack Obama had been heavily involved in the negotiations.
"Our president gave his approval after receiving information that our reservations have been addressed under the guarantorship of Obama," Erdogan said. "We hope our concerns will be met."
Obama said there had been "important efforts to make sure that everyone felt included."
Fogh Rasmussen told a NATO news conference in Danish that the station, Roj TV, was being investigated to find out whether it has any ties with the Kurdish militant group PKK or has advocated terror attacks, something the station has repeatedly denied.
"If it can be proven that Roj TV is involved in terror activities, we will of course do all we can to shut down the television station," he said.
"I have not given in to the Turks," he said on Danish television Saturday evening. "Sometimes it is better to sit face-to-face with people,"
Obama lack of being a leader is getting ridiculous, all I have seen in this overseas trip so far is him doing everything for everyone's elses satisfaction. If he promised Turkey all these things mostly out of their objection to the Mohammed cartoons then we have a huge problem.
| Here's a true story first reported by my Fox News colleague Andrew Napolitano (with the names and some details obscured to prevent retaliation). Under the Bush team a prominent and profitable bank, under threat of a damaging public audit, was forced to accept less than $1 billion of TARP money. The government insisted on buying a new class of preferred stock which gave it a tiny, minority position. The money flowed to the bank. Arguably, back then, the Bush administration was acting for purely economic reasons. It wanted to recapitalize the banks to halt a financial panic.|
Fast forward to today, and that same bank is begging to give the money back. The chairman offers to write a check, now, with interest. He's been sitting on the cash for months and has felt the dead hand of government threatening to run his business and dictate pay scales. He sees the writing on the wall and he wants out. But the Obama team says no, since unlike the smaller banks that gave their TARP money back, this bank is far more prominent. The bank has also been threatened with "adverse" consequences if its chairman persists. That's politics talking, not economics.
|Race may have been the motive for the brutal murders of Brooklyn-raised Marine Sgt. Jan Pawel Pietrzak and his wife, Quiana.|
After insisting for months the Pietrzaks were slain by four other Marines for their money, a key prosecution witness dropped a bombshell Friday - racist remarks were spray-painted in the couple's California home.
The words "N----- Lover" were found on the wall near the master bedroom and on a bathroom mirror, Riverside County Homicide Investigator Benjamin Ramirez testified.
Pietrzak, 24, was white, his 26-year-old wife was black, and the four accused Marines are black.
Ramirez's revelation came at the start of a two-day hearing to determine if the Camp Pendleton Marines should stand trial - and plunged the victims' heartbroken mothers into tears.
"We're going to visit our children at the grave," Henryka Pietrzak-Varga of Bensonhurst said later. "That's all we have left after this."
Pietrzak's mother and Quiana's mother, Glenda Faye Williams-Jenkins, have said from the moment their children were found tortured and murdered in October that this was not just a robbery gone bad.
Riverside County Prosecutor Dan DeLimon refused to explain why they were silent about the racial angle. "That will be addressed when the preliminary hearing continues on May 8," he said.
The accused Marines - Pvt. Emrys John, 18; Lance Cpl. Tyrone Miller, 20; Pvt. Kesuan (Psycho) Sykes, 21, and Pvt. Kevin Cox, 20 - have all pleaded not guilty. They face the death penalty if convicted.
|Support For Obama|
UAW officials remain supportive of the president. They view his tough talk and bankruptcy threats as posturing to put more pressure on the bondholders to forgive debts, said a person familiar with the view of UAW leadership.
When the economy recovers and Obama is under less political pressure, the UAW plans to ask him for billions in federal funding for a retiree health-care trust, said the person who asked not to be identified revealing internal union discussions.
“There’s light-years of improvement in terms of Washington’s understanding of the importance of manufacturing,” compared with the Bush administration, UAW Vice President Bob King said in a March 18 interview. “There is still a problem of discrimination against the blue-collar worker versus the white- collar worker. They are putting the auto industry through 27 hurdles and hoops before doing anything for them.”
|Banks that loaned Chrysler LLC $6.8 billion are resisting government pressure to swap more than $5 billion of that for stock to slash the car maker's debt, according to people familiar with the matter, hindering Chrysler's effort to restructure outside of bankruptcy court.|
The issue is also slowing the company's drive to cement an alliance with Fiat SpA by May 1, and stalling Chrysler's attempt to renegotiate a health-care agreement with the United Auto Workers union, according to these people.
While significant work needs to be completed with the UAW and Fiat, people involved in the talks say the banks are striking a much tougher stance than the union or Fiat.
The lenders, which include J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley, hold great influence in moving the process along. As holders of secured debt, they have the right to take control of Chrysler plants, brands and other assets, which were pledged as collateral for the loans, if the company files for bankruptcy protection.
Friday, April 3, 2009
|US auto finance giant GMAC, the former financial arm of General Motors, said Wednesday it was easing credit to dealers and expanding credit for consumers in a bid to rev up the stalled auto market.|
GMAC Financial Services said it would earmark "at least" five billion dollars for consumer auto loans over the next 60 days and temporarily ease financing terms for dealers squeezed by tight credit conditions in the recession-wracked economy.
The measures include allowing qualified dealers to defer wholesale interest charges for two 30-day periods during the next 120 days and waiving the fee for dealers to post aged vehicles on SmartAuction, its online remarketing site, through June.
For retail customers, GMAC will lower some rates for new and used vehicle financing and lower the bar on applications for credit.
GMAC said it had financed more than two billion dollars in new and used retail contracts through March.
|A state panel on immigrant policy released recommendations Monday that include in-state tuition eligibility and driving privileges for illegal immigrants, as well as the creation of a commission on New Americans. |
Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who convened the Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Policy last August, said Monday he agrees that illegal immigrants, especially those brought to the U.S. as children and attending local schools, should be able to pay in-state tuition at the state's public colleges.
About 10 states allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates, and similar federal legislation, called the Dream Act, has been proposed in Congress.
Corzine said most of New Jersey's immigrants are in the state legally, and that the children of the state's estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants; "are not here because they chose to be, but because of their families, and they should not be discriminated against."
Corzine differed with the panel on extending driving privileges to illegal immigrants in New Jersey, saying that's an issue for the federal government to decide.
"There's a fundamental flaw to letting people drive without insurance and licenses," Corzine said. "Nevertheless, New Jersey has very strict laws on driver's licenses. We need a national policy on how we identify people, not state by state."
|A proposal to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants passed out of a Colorado state Senate committee this week after Democrats moved up a vote on the bill to coincide with a Republican opponent's absence from the state on a family emergency. |
Republican state Sen. Ted Harvey's father-in-law has Alzheimer's disease and his health began deteriorating so rapidly early this week that Mr. Harvey was forced to take a few days off to transport the ailing man from Florida to Colorado.
Even so, Mr. Harvey had planned to return to the state legislature in time for Friday's Appropriations Committee vote on Senate Bill 170, the in-state tuition bill. He had also planned to vote against it, which would have resulted in a 5-5 tie that would have killed the legislation.
Instead, the committee's Democratic chairman, state Sen. Abel Tapia, seized the opportunity and rescheduled the vote for Wednesday. Without Mr. Harvey, the bill passed 5-4 and now heads to the Senate floor.
|The Department of Homeland Security freed 27 illegal immigrants arrested during a workplace raid in February and offered them legal work permits, signaling a major departure from the immigration enforcement policy of the Bush administration.|
The Feb. 24 raid of an auto parts plant in Bellingham, Wash., netted 28 illegal immigrants. While one was deported, the remaining workers were released from custody and given employment authorization documents, or EADs, in exchange for cooperating with an ongoing investigation of their employer, Yamato Engine Specialists.
The EAD is a temporary work permit most commonly given to people applying for green cards or citizenship. It usually lasts for one year, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) sources tell FOX News that these work permits will expire when the case against Yamato is closed.
So the case against Yamato will last for years or it ends quickly then no one can find the workers to deport them. Change has come to America
Thursday, April 2, 2009
|Caught Twittering or on Facebook at work? It'll make you a better employee, according to an Australian study that shows surfing the Internet for fun during office hours increases productivity.|
The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not.
Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said "workplace Internet leisure browsing," or WILB, helped to sharpened workers' concentration.
"People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," Coker said on the university's website (www.unimelb.edu.au/)
"Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days' work, and as a result, increased productivity," he said.
|This is the chilling moment a 17-year-old Pakistani girl is punished in a horrific flogging by Taliban militants for being seen with a man who is not her husband.|
The girl, who received 37 lashes at the hands of her brother and Taliban forces, has sent shockwaves throughout the once stable Swat Valley region.
The mobile phone footage shows the girl pinned down by two men while a third whips her as she begs for mercy.
'Please stop it,' the girl begs as the men, one of whom is believed to be her brother, continue their sickening act.
|Australia's prime minister reduced a young female air force cabin attendant to tears with a tirade of abuse because he was not able have a 'no meat' meal on a VIP flight, it was claimed today.|
Mr Rudd was flying from Papua New Guinea, north of Australia, to Canberra on board a taxpayer-funded Boeing 737 VIP aircraft when the 23-year-old flight attendant on the Royal Australian Air Force jet told Mr Rudd that his special meal was not available.
Sydney's Daily Telegraph claimed that Mr Rudd let loose with a torrent of abuse.
The attendant burst into tears and reported the incident to the senior cabinet attendant. The woman later composed herself and continued with the in-flight service, it was reported. 'The crew were distressed but later in the flight apologies were made by all,' it was claimed.
Asked about the incident, said to have occurred in late January, Mr Rudd, who is attending the G20 summit in London, said he did not observe any tears over the incident.
| The founder of the Swiss assistedsuicide clinic Dignitas was criticised yesterday after revealing plans to help a healthy woman to die alongside her terminally ill husband. |
Ludwig Minelli described suicide as a “marvellous opportunity” that should not be restricted to the terminally ill or people with severe disabilities. Critics said that the plans highlighted the risks of proposals to legalise assisted suicides in Britain for people in the final stages of a terminal illness.
The Dignitas clinic in Zurich claims to have assisted in the deaths of more than 100 Britons. The Zurich University Clinic found that more than a fifth of people who had died at Dignitas did not have a terminal condition.
Mr Minelli said that anyone who has “mental capacity” should be allowed to have an assisted suicide, claiming that it would save money for the NHS.
|The board that sets U.S. accounting standards on Thursday gave companies more leeway in valuing assets and reporting losses. The changes should help boost battered banks’ balance sheets and financial stocks rallied on Wall Street, but the rules may undercut a new financial rescue program. |
Some experts and industry officials said the move will help resuscitate banks, allowing them to increase earnings and carry less capital as a buffer against potential losses. That should lead to more lending and help get the economy pumping again.
But others said the changes by the Financial Accounting Standards Board could undermine a crucial new rescue program mounted by the Obama administration, in which the government is joining with private investors to buy from banks hundreds of billions of dollars in toxic assets — especially the securities tied to high-risk subprime mortgages at the heart of the financial crisis.
....Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc., was more blunt, saying the FASB decision “allows financial institutions to use fictional valuations on many of their toxic assets” and further obscures their “true position.”
|Michigan's exodus is one of the state's best known but least understood problems. Long ignored or downplayed, outmigration has been shrugged off partly because it was assumed that those who were leaving were unemployed blue-collar workers and retirees, groups that, in economic terms, don't cripple the state with their departure. |
But a Detroit News analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service data reveals that every day, Michigan gets less populated, less educated, and poorer because of outmigration.
The state's net loss to outmigration -- the number of people leaving the state minus those moving in from other states -- has skyrocketed since 2001. Although the Census Bureau does not report totals moving in and out each year, Internal Revenue Service records show that the population decline is a result of two disturbing trends: The number of Michigan residents leaving the state rose 25 percent between 2001 and 2007, while the number of new residents moving in plummeted by nearly one-third.
Since 2001, migration has cost Michigan 465,000 people, the equivalent of the combined populations of Grand Rapids, Warren and Sterling Heights -- the state's second-, third- and fourth-largest cities.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
|New Balad party MK Haneen Zuabi, the first woman to be elected to the Knesset as a representative of an Arab party, has welcomed Iran's growing influence on Palestinian affairs and praised Iran's quest for a nuclear weapon as a means of offsetting Israel's regional military edge. |
Having Israel as the region's sole nuclear power, she said, was "dangerous to the world."
Interviewed in English twice in recent days - in her Knesset office and in a Jerusalem hotel - Zuabi, one of Balad's three MKs and the former director of the I'lam: Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel, said Iran's role in Palestinian affairs was "more useful" than that of regimes like Jordan and Egypt, in that Iran stood more firmly "against occupation than a lot of the Arab countries. This is our interest."
She said Egypt and Jordan were scared of a free and democratic Palestinian state.
Queried regarding Iran's quest to manufacture nuclear weapons, Zuabi stated that having Israel as the region's sole nuclear power was disadvantageous.
"It would be more supporting me to have a counter-power to Israel," she said. "I need something to balance [Israel's] power."
Zuabi was asked if she felt worried, living among Jews, that Iran was getting close to acquiring a nuclear weapon. She replied: "No, I am not."
Indeed, she said she was "more afraid from the Israeli nuclear [weapons]."
Hell, the London Guardian is probably racing to her to be a guest columnist.
|As Ontario's economy was shedding tens of thousands of jobs last year, the number of public sector workers who were paid more than $100,000 jumped by 26 per cent over 2007. |
Premier Dalton McGuinty said the increased size of the so-called sunshine list was to be expected, but added his government is committed to reducing the size of the public service by five per cent over three years.
|Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday endorsed Afghan plans to hold reconciliation talks with moderate Taliban members.|
"We must support efforts by the government of Afghanistan to separate the extremists of al Qaeda and the Taliban from those who joined their ranks, not out of conviction but out of desperation," Clinton said in an address laying out the new U.S. strategy for the region that President Obama announced last week.
She added, "They should be offered an honorable form of reconciliation and reintegration into a peaceful society if they are willing to abandon violence, break with al Qaeda and support the constitution."
Reuters: "Obama's call on moderate Taliban useless: analysts"
|Obama's comment resemble a dream more than reality," said Waheed Mozhdah, an analyst who has written a book on the Taliban.|
"Where are the so-called moderate Taliban? Who are the moderate Taliban?" asked Mozhdah, who was an official in both the Taliban and the Karzai governments.
Karzai's pro-Western administration and the growing number of foreign forces in Afghanistan have increasingly come under attack from a resurgent Taliban, with Obama now describing Afghanistan as a top foreign policy priority for his new administration.
"'Moderate Taliban' is like 'moderate killer'. Is there such a thing?," asked writer and analyst Qaseem Akhgar.
|The Obama administration decided Tuesday to seek a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, reversing a decision by the Bush administration to shun the United Nations' premier rights body to protest the influence of repressive states. |
"Human rights are an essential element of American global foreign policy," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement. "With others, we will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system. . . . We believe every nation must live by and help shape global rules that ensure people enjoy the right to live freely and participate fully in their societies."
The United States announced it would participate in elections in May for one of three seats on the 47-member council, joining a slate that includes Belgium and Norway.
...Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said: "Those who suffer from abuse and oppression around the world, as well as those who dedicate their lives to advancing human rights, need the council to be balanced and credible." She said the United States seeks election to the body "because we believe that working from within, we can make the council a more effective forum to promote and protect human rights."
|California will likely need to borrow $11 billion more cash in the fiscal year beginning July 1 as the most-populous U.S. state faces a growing deficit, the state’s controller said. |
California will have exhausted all available cash by August along with $19 billion in internal funds and will likely need to borrow externally to bridge a $10.6 billion gap between projected monthly expenditures and revenue, state controller John Chiang, a Democrat, said in a news release.
California, home to one of every eight Americans, faces an $8 billion budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year even after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers agreed last month to close a record $42 billion deficit with a package of tax increases, spending cuts and borrowing intended to leave the government with a surplus 16 months from now.
“The borrowing is going to have to happen fairly quick into the new fiscal year,” said Tom Dresslar, spokesman for California Treasurer Bill Lockyer.
| Californians will start feeling the pain of the recently negotiated state budget fix on Wednesday, when a 1-percent increase in the state sales tax will force consumers to pay more for goods such as cars, furniture, laptops and toys. |
Starting Wednesday, California's sales tax will rise to 6 percent, bringing the average local sales tax rate to almost 9 percent—one of the highest in the nation.
Businesses and manufacturers are worried that the temporary tax increase could prolong the worst recession in recent memory and further dampen retail sales. In the coming months, Californians will also see an increase in personal income taxes and higher fees to license their vehicles.
"There's no doubt in my mind that our sales will go down because of this," said Beau Boeckmann, vice president of Los Angeles-based Galpin Motors, which he claims runs the largest Ford dealership in the world. "It's an unfortunate truth. I hope the governor will reconsider doubling our car taxes. I think the sales tax is going to hurt us and the car tax can cripple us."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers agreed to $12.5 billion in tax increases as part of a $42 billion deficit-closing plan to help stave off what they described as devastating cuts to education and health care. Despite the higher taxes, state programs also face major cutbacks, and the state is struggling with double-digit unemployment.
The sales tax is expected to bring in an estimated $5.8 billion before it expires on July 1, 2011, but could last another year if voters agree to extend it as part of a package of budget-related initiatives in a May 19 special election. State officials predict consumers will spend less because of the tax, and included a 1 percent reduction in their revenue calculation.
They know what is going to happen and still raise taxes. What a state.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
|President Barack Obama believes a quick, negotiated bankruptcy is the most likely way for General Motors Corp. to restructure and become a competitive automaker, people familiar with the matter said. |
Obama also is prepared to let Chrysler LLC go bankrupt and be sold off piecemeal if the third-largest U.S. automaker can’t form an alliance with Fiat SpA, said members of Congress who were briefed on the GM and Chrysler situation before the president said two days ago that the automakers’ viability plans were insufficient.
The president gave GM 60 days to come up with deeper cost and debt reductions than the biggest U.S. automaker proposed in its plan submitted last month. The “quick and surgical” bankruptcy his administration said was also an option appears to be inevitable, said the members of Congress and two other people familiar with the matter. Obama personally signed off on asking GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner to step down, which he did on March 29, they said.
The plan so far sounds like a big show rather than a top to bottom change for the future.
|Under the plans being considered, GM would seek to quickly move its most profitable units into a new company separate from its other units in the early days of the bankruptcy filing, said the source who asked to remain anonymous because the person was not authorized to speak to the media.|
The aim would be to show consumers, taxpayers, and the government that the new GM can survive and compete in the autos sector as a viable company, the source said.
Old components of the company not included in the new GM, such as Saturn and Hummer, would remain in bankruptcy over a longer period of time to be sold or wound down, said the source.
During a transition period, the new GM would have to coordinate with the old GM for some time and share certain operational activities, like accounting and insurance, the source said.
| A severe power blackout brought chaos to downtown Sydney on Monday afternoon, causing peak-hour traffic jams as street signals failed and leaving workers stranded in lifts as they tried to make their way home.|
Failures at four high-voltage power cables virtually paralyzed Australia's biggest city, with the Sydney Harbor tunnel partially closed to traffic and the Sydney Opera House forced to cancel all performances for the evening, local media said.
Office towers lost all power, paralyzing some elevators, at around 4:45 pm local time (0545 GMT). Up to 70,000 homes and businesses, including some inner suburbs, were blacked out, said state broadcaster ABC, which was running on back-up power.
The main stock exchange had closed by the time of the blackout.
| Mosques and local Muslim community groups are to be given money and direct access to government ministers under a radical plan to isolate Britain’s largest Islamic organisation, which the Government accuses of endorsing violent extremism. |
The move follows criticism of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which claims to represent half of the country’s Muslims, by Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary. Ms Blears attacked the group for refusing to sack its deputy leader, Daud Abdullah, after he endorsed a pro-Hamas declaration that appeared to call for violence against Jews and Israel and condone attacks on British troops.
The Government is planning to deny the organisation’s representatives ministerial briefings across all departments in a move designed to undermine its standing among British Muslims.
|Dutch local governments are enforcing a new Moroccan law. As a result, every Dutch person ever born to a Moroccan mother is henceforth compelled to accept Moroccan nationality, De Telegraaf yesterday reported.|
For many years, Moroccan law has stipulated that children born to a Moroccan father are automatically Moroccan nationals. According to De Telegraaf, Moroccan legislation has now been tightened further. In addition to children born to Moroccan fathers, the new situation is that children of a Moroccan mother - and a father of a different nationality - also automatically obtain Moroccan citizenship.
Although the children are born in the Netherlands, Moroccan passports are issued to them. This happens even if the parents themselves were also both born in the Netherlands from Moroccan ancestors. In recent years, the Netherlands has been trying to change this situation through diplomatic negotiations, but it is applying little pressure.
Local authorities in the Netherlands are dutifully obeying Rabat, De Telegraaf concludes. In accordance with Morocco's wishes, Dutch municipalities register the children as Moroccans. "The parents have no say in the matter", the newspaper notes. "Dutch officials are even operating an active investigation policy to implement the Moroccan rules here".
Monday, March 30, 2009
The plan: 1-Warrantee commitment program (Universal Car Warranty Program)
|What does the program mean for consumers?|
• If you buy a new GM or Chrysler car during this restructuring period you will be eligible.
• You do not have to do anything to receive the U.S. commitment to your warrantee. It is automatic.
• The U.S. Treasury will work with the auto companies to back-stop your warrantee, and will commit to honoring that warrantee in the event that the manufacturer cannot.
2-GM, Chrysler fact sheet
General Motors: While GM’s current plan is not viable, the Administration is confident that with a more fundamental restructuring, GM will emerge from this process as a stronger more competitive business. This process will include leadership changes at GM and an increased effort by the U.S.
Treasury and outside advisors to assist with the company’s restructuring effort. Rick Wagoner is stepping aside as Chairman and CEO. In this context, the Administration will provide GM with working capital for 60 days to develop a more aggressive restructuring plan and a credible strategy
Fiat is prepared to transfer valuable technology to Chrysler and, after extensive consultation with the Administration, has committed to building new fuel efficient cars and engines in U.S. factories. At the same time, however, there are substantial hurdles to overcome before this deal can become a reality.
3-Chrysler viability assessment
4-GM viability assessment
|White House sources said Chrysler isn’t viable as a stand-alone company, and without Fiat or more tax dollars, might go into some kind of “structured” bankruptcy. But auto industry analysts say a bankrupt car company isn’t much of a company at all – simply because shoppers don’t want to buy cars from a bankrupt company.|
It’s not a step Obama would take lightly, for sure. But politically, it seems a step he’s seriously contemplating in the face of “bailout fatigue” in the heartland – but also Chrysler’s own specific situation.
The ailing automaker, home to such storied American brands as Dodge and Jeep, just isn’t “systemically important” enough — in the new vernacular of bailout-era Washington — to warrant extraordinary measures to save, the administration declared. The hard numbers are these: Chrysler, in 2008 employed 58,000 people. But General Motors employed many more: 252,000.
“They are, of course, much smaller,” explained a senior administration official Sunday night.
If Chrysler should fade, Obama also could argue that the company brought it on itself.
Slick, now here is where he plays politics on which car company he can fail without much harm to himself. He figures there is going to be public shock about Chrysler going out of business, he comes back after 60 days when GM/unions/bondholders still haven't reached an agreement to give another extension so that America won't have to suffer another car maker going under.
|Boston Latin School headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta issued a notice to parents and students yesterday quashing rumors of vampires at the school. An odd move for the head of a historic elite preparatory school, but Teta and Boston public school officials declined to elaborate on what triggered the unusual message.|
They did, however, adamantly offer assurances that no one at the school has been hurt, arrested - or bitten.
"The headmaster believes that the outrageous rumors had reached a point where she had to say something to families to ensure that all students felt safe and respected," said Chris Horan, School Department spokesman.
It gets better.
|The government of Rio de Janeiro is building concrete walls to prevent sprawling slums from spreading farther into the picturesque hills of this world-famous tourist destination, an official said on Saturday.|
Construction has begun in two favelas, or shantytowns, in the southern districts of Rio de Janeiro, a government spokeswoman told Reuters. One of the two is Morro Dona Marta, which police occupied in November to control crime and violence caused mostly by rival drug gangs.
Officials say the wall is to protect the remaining native forest but critics fear the move could be seen as discriminatory and become a blemish symbolizing Brazil's deep divisions between rich and poor.
"There is no discrimination. On the contrary, we are building houses for them elsewhere and improving their lives," Tania Lazzoli, spokeswoman for the secretary of public works at the state government, told Reuters.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
|CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Concern that the Obama administration could impose a new ban on some semiautomatic weapons is driving worried gun owners to stockpile ammunition and cartridge reloading components at such a rate that manufacturers can't meet demand.|
Attorney General Eric Holder last month suggested that the Obama Administration favors reinstituting a U.S. ban on the sale of assault weapons. President Bill Clinton first signed such a ban into law in 1994, generally blocking some military-style guns with magazines that hold many cartridges. President George Bush had allowed the ban to expire.
"We have heard from all across the country that there is a tremendous shortage of ammunition," said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "We've heard this from the manufacturers, that their customers are calling them trying to get supplies for inventory, and that the manufacturers are going full-bore, pardon the pun."
In Wyoming, the run on bullets and reloading components reached such a frenzy that Cheyenne retailer Frontier Arms recently began rationing sales, said Becky Holtz, co-owner of the shop. Holtz said she's also been selling semiautomatic rifles as fast as she can put them on the shelves.
"You know there's something wrong when I've got little old ladies coming in buying 5,000 rounds of .22 shells," Holtz said.
|Just five of England's 44 Church of England bishops think church bells should ring out to celebrate St George's Day.|
Several were even hostile to the idea, claiming it could cause a backlash from other religious groups.
Regular churchgoer Libby Alexander wrote to every bishop in the country to urge them to ring out the bells on April 23.
She argued that church attendances had fallen because of 'the lack of assertiveness or confidence emanating from the top' and the ' strangulations of political correctness'.
But the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, said: 'I am not sure assertiveness is a Christian value.'
Fewer than half of the bishops that Mrs Alexander wrote to responded to last month's letters - and those that did were largely unenthusiastic.
The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Dr Kenneth Stevenson, warned that if bells were rung 'some secularists would claim the Church was imposing its beliefs and practices on the whole population.'
And the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Foster, said: 'There would be dangers in putting on " public displays" of confidence.'
Church of England is a joke.
|The key plank of Gordon Brown's global 'grand bargain' has been torpedoed just days before the crucial G20 summit.|
World leaders have lined up to rule out a second fiscal stimulus package of tax cuts and spending sprees to boost their stricken economies.
There were even suggestions yesterday of a German-inspired 'dirty tricks' campaign after what was claimed to be a draft of Mr Brown's favoured communique was leaked to a German news magazine as a part of an apparent attempt to kill it off.
The Prime Minister has championed the idea of another spending spree as part of a 'global new deal' - along with banking reforms, a crackdown on tax havens and measures to avoid protectionism.
But as he flew back into Britain yesterday for the summit after a whistlestop tour of three continents, it became clear that the central part of his plan - on which he has staked huge political capital - had been scuppered.
It also represents a defeat on the world stage for U.S. President Barack Obama, who has also called for a fiscal stimulus.
Any detailed discussions on such measures will now come at a follow-up summit later this year, probably in Asia.
|The EU has said it will not be going further than the measures already announced, which amount to 4% of the EU's combined GDP.|
Last week any suggestion of a fresh round of global stimulus was thwarted by an unlikely coalition of the Bank of England's governor, Mervyn King, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Czech prime minister and EU president, Mirek Topolanek, who all spoke out separately.
|Ministers were struggling to maintain momentum for the G20 summit last night after it emerged that any spending decisions would be deferred to a later meeting, further narrowing the scope of this week's London talks, which have been plagued by divisions between European leaders and Gordon Brown.|
Yesterday, Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister who will hold pre-summit talks with Brown tomorrow, said it was now up to the International Monetary Fund to determine how much additional support the world economy would need next year, and that there had never been any expectation that the decisions on that package would be taken in London.
|Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed a series of proposed immigration raids and other enforcement actions at U.S. workplaces in recent weeks, asking agents in her department to apply more scrutiny to the selection and investigation of targets as well as the timing of raids, federal officials said.|
A senior department official said the delays signal a pending change in whom agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement choose to prosecute -- increasing the focus on businesses and executives instead of ordinary workers.
"ICE is now scrutinizing these cases more thoroughly to ensure that [targets] are being taken down when they should be taken down, and that the employer is being targeted and the surveillance and the investigation is being done how it should be done," said the official, discussing Napolitano's views about sensitive law enforcement matters on the condition of anonymity.
"There will be a change in policy, but in the interim, you've got to scrutinize the cases coming up," the senior DHS official said, noting Napolitano's expectations as a former federal prosecutor and state attorney general.
Another DHS official said Napolitano plans to release protocols this week to ensure more consistent work-site investigations and less "haphazard" decision-making.
Napolitano's moves have led some to question President Obama's commitment to work-site raids, which were a signature of Bush administration efforts to combat illegal immigration. Napolitano has highlighted other priorities, such as combating Mexican drug cartels and catching dangerous criminals who are illegal immigrants.
....DHS officials categorically deny any reduction. Instead Napolitano has sought to chart a middle course by ordering a review of which immigrants are targeted for arrest. While a policy is still under development, Napolitano has said she intends to focus more on prosecuting criminal cases of wrongdoing by companies. Analysts say they also think ICE may conduct fewer raids, focusing routine enforcement on civil infractions of worker eligibility verification rules.
Obama can't come out and say illegals are safe but if he and her can muddle it up enough, they see that as a good sign.
|The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said.|
On Monday, President Barack Obama is to unveil his plans for the auto industry, including a response to a request for additional funds by GM and Chrysler. The plan is based on recommendations from the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, headed by the Treasury Department.
The White House confirmed Wagoner was leaving at the government's behest after The Associated Press reported his immediate departure, without giving a reason.
Industry sources had said the White House planned very tough medicine in Monday's announcement, which turned out to be an understatement. And it went to the very top. The measures to be imposed by the government will have a dramatic effect on workers, unions, suppliers, bondholders, shareholders, retirees and the communities where plants are located, the sources said.
|The president’s task force is expected to recommend more short-term aid for G.M. and Chrysler, but with tight strings on the money and a deadline on getting concessions from union workers and creditors.|
A person with direct involvement in the auto bailout discussions said the new deadline would be April 30.
“Thirty days from now, there will either be a bankruptcy or the naming of a chief restructuring officer who will have government authority to ‘knock heads together,’” this person said of G.M. In addition, the government must come up with a backup guarantee on loan for G.M. to operate in bankruptcy because the banks will not do it.
G.M. and Chrysler have almost exhausted the $17.4 billion in federal aid the two companies have received since December. G.M. has asked for up to an additional $16.6 billion, and Chrysler has requested an additional $5 billion.
According to people close to the talks, the task force will treat G.M. and Chrysler differently with respect to their overhlaul plans and aid requests.
Here lies the problem, they had till end of March to come up with something and it is inexcusable to give them yet another month. Giving them more money is just burdening them with more loans and they won't come up with anything close to a viable plan in a month considering they have had more than three months before the extension.
update: AP is saying he is giving them two months. Just keep punting the issue.