DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®
Collapse trends - Mar. 1-20, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE
3/20/2003 headlines from hell -
3/19/2003 headlines from hell -
- Bush declares start of Iraq war - ...Iraqis flee blasts - Silence follows sounds of antiaircraft fire and falling bombs, by John Burns, NYT, front page.
Dow and S&P500 advance for sixth consecutive day, AP via NYT, C8.
[Every 60-70 years we get, "Oh gee, I forget why we don't have wars any more. Let's start one and find out." So we run from the Internet bubble to the Iraq war bubble. Neither changing the carefully ignored gutting of the global consumer base by our clueless recession-inducing downsizing response to worksaving technology instead of our prior-to-1940 timesizing response. So we get these long-term cycles of boredom and excess. Or maybe they're trends during prolonged peacetime toward evermore violent entertainments ("bread and circuses") which raises the requisite energy level (decibels, strobe) for the populace to stay interested in any given entertainment or partyline, and toward ever tighter concentration of skills, employment (= longer workweeks), income and wealth.]
Domestic programming - We interrupt this broadcast, but how much for how long? by Bill Carter, NYT, A16.
Watching intently as a war is born 6,000 miles away, by Kelley & Gootman, NYT, front page.
- The war after war with Iraq, op ed by Timothy Ash, NYT, A31.
[As Alice Walker says, How backward is war!]
...This scene could be the eve of Agincourt in 1415: one man being psyched up to kill another by forcing sharp metal through his guts....
- In oil-rich Kirkuk, a glimpse into maze of post-Hussein Iraq - Four governors lay claim to ethnically split region; 'Jerusalem of Kurdistan', by Farnaz Fassihi, WSJ, front page.
- 1,000 U.S. troops raid Afghan towns, AP via NYT, A21.
- Heads in the sand, editorial via NYT, A30.
The biggest wartime secret fiercely kept by the White House seems to be the estimated dollar cost to the nation's taxpayers of invading, pacifying and rebuilding Iraq.... Congress is now flailing through a budget debate without this vital chunk of information on the public books....
- Bush administration to seek emergency money to protect against terrorist attacks in U.S., by Philip Shenon, NYT, A20.
- Approach of war reveals an alienation in California - Oscar ceremonies roll up the red carpet...- A sense of isolation from Washington is evident in California, by Dean Murphy, NYT, A19.
- Economic scene - American unilateral bravado regarding the war would be misplaced and could be costly when it comes to the economy, by Jeff Madrick, NYT, C2.
- Europe Union finds bugging of offices in 5 nations, by Elaine Sciolino, NYT, C4.
...5 of its 15 member nations...found late last month in the offices of the French, German, British, Austrian, and Spanish delegations in a headquarters building, officials said. European officials said they had not determined who had placed the devices....
- Persian Gulf oil disruptions have already begun, by Neela Banerjee, NYT, C1.
- In shift, Enron will retain interests in some pipelines, by Kurt Eichenwald, NYT, C5.
[Why does Enron still even exist?! (Oh yeah, Ken Lay is a buddy of Dubya's.)]
- A 'deliciously sordid' tale from Andersen's ethics chief, pointer blurb (to D8), WSJ, front page.
In the morbidly fascinating 'Final Accounting,' an ethics expert [Barbara Toffler] describes her metamorphosis into a hustler who fleeces her ethics-services clients....
- Argentina's GDP contraction breaks record, by Lawrence Norman, Dow Jones via WSJ, A16.
BUENOS AIRES - Argentina's economy contracted 10.9% in 2002 and a year-on-year 3.6% in the 4th quarter, the national statistics agency INDEC reported. ...The full-year contraction is the biggest in Argentine history....
- Ferrari SpA, Dow Jones via WSJ, A10.
Ferrari's net profit fell 54% last year amid bonus payments for two executives that totaled $22.5 million....
3/18/2003 headlines from hell -
- War imminent as Hussein rejects ultimatum - [Bush] is calling refusal of exile 'final mistake', by Elisabeth Bumiller, NYT, front page.
[collateral damage 1]
A worried world shows discord, by Alan Cowell, NYT, front page.
[For example, nearest -]
The war at home - The dinner hour gets testy as families debate Iraq...., by Jeffrey Zaslow, WSJ, D1.
A sense of gloom is felt within the Arab world - Anger in the region is focused on the Iraqi leadership as well as the United States, by Neil MacFarguhar, NYT, A18.
[and in between -]
London - Blair survives a mutiny over joining U.S. in war, by Warren Hoge, NYT, A13.
[So Tony Blair has succeeded in guilt-manipulating a majority of his fellow "democratic representatives" into acting against their constituents' wishes -]
..."Tell our allies that at the very moment of action, at the very moment when they need our determination, that Britain faltered?" he asked the House of Commons, his voice rising and his finger stabbing at the air at the beginning of a daylong debate.
[Never mind that the U.S. "need" is entirely self-induced and self-dispellable.]
"I will not be party to such a course."...
["Blow, blow the trumpets, bang the brasses!" daaadaaa daaaaaaa dada daaaaaaa. Gilbert & Sullivan would love this. So the British Parliament snuggles into its puppydog role, 412 to 149. Kinda makes ya embarrassed to be a "British subject," as all born in Canada are, as well as Canadian citizens. Ditto Portugal -]
Facing censure in Portugal, Agence France-Presse via NYT, A18.
Portugal's conservative government will face a censure motion in Parliament for hosting a hastily called summit meeting~on Iraq as PM Jose Barroso came under heavy fire for his pro-American stance....
[Ditto Japan -]
Japan premier supports U.S. on Iraq stance, by Howard French, NYT, A18.
TOKYO...- In the face of strong and growing opposition, the Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, expressed strong suppport [yester]day for the U.S.' ultimatum to Pres. Saddam Hussein of Iraq....
[Ditto Australia -]
Protesters blockade Australian leader, Reuters via NYT, A18.
Greenpeace activists dressed as UN soldiers blockaded the official residence of the Australian prime minister to protest his decision to join in an American-led attack on Iraq....
[collateral damage 2]
Airlines announce cutbacks as they prepare for war, by Maynard & Wong, NYT, C1.[i.e., even more cutbacks!]
[collateral damage 3]
Cargo insurance would end 48 hours into an Iraqi war - Sales of war and terrorism insurance have surged despite higher prices, by Joseph Treaster, NYT, C2.
[collateral damage 4]
Split on Iraq may harm U.S.-Europe trade ties, by Landler & Pfanner, NYT, W1.
- [some people just don't get it -]
Republicans say they'll push for tax cuts regardless of war, by David Rosenbaum, NYT, A22.
In the face of Democratic arguments that Congress is making a mockery of sound budget procedures, Republican Congressional leaders said [yester]day that they were determined to approve deep taxcuts regardless of the cost of a war against Iraq and its aftermath....
[collateral damage -]
Bush tax-cut plan may imperil housing credits - Financing tool is at heart of ambitious New York City plan to build units for poor - A tax credit has led to about $6B in investments, by David Chen, NYT, C17.
- Housing starts plummeted, pointer blurb (to A2), WSJ, front page.
...11% last month, the largest drop in 9 years, because of cold weather and war worries.
- Spending may not sprout in spring - In survey, people mention fuel prices, job jitters; War may intensify trend - Only 14% planned to spend more than usual and 45% to keep spending the same, by Patrick Barta, WSJ, D2.
...NPD Group Inc., a market-research group based in Port Washington, NY, said 41% of the 2,645 people it surveyed earlier this month planned to spend less than usual between March and May....
- Companies feel obligated to banks, pointer digest (to C4), NYT, C1.
Top financial officers of large corporations believe the willingness of banks to lend to them is linked to their willingness to do other business with banks, according to a survey.
[Typical bank behavior in a depression - the money's there but it's a lot harder to get, regardless of low interest rates.]
- Alcoa and Iceland agree on smelter project, NYT, W1.
...Responding to environmentalists' concerns about the plan's impact, the country will create a national park in the highlands surrounding the dams and smelter. Still, opponents say, 100 scenic waterfalls and 22 sq mi of reindeer habitat will be lost when the reservoirs are filled. When the smelter is completed, 80% of Iceland's total electric power production will be used in aluminum smelting.
[Now Iceland's gone nuts? - plus colleague Kate reports that they want to jump back into whaling.]
3/15-17/2003 headlines from hell -
- Ceasing diplomacy, U.S. nears war - American move jettisons cooperative strategies, weakens old alliances - A new policy of pre-emption, by Carla Robbins, WSJ, front page.
[or more truthfully, "Ceasing the appearance of diplomacy, Bush drags U.S. nearer war - Bush & Cheney spurn cooperative strategies, brush off old alliances." Forget "Let sleeping dogs lie." Forget "Sew the wind, reap the whirlwind." And why? More clues -]
Bad habit - Why the U.S. is still hooked on oil imports - Politics, OPEC's price moves create dependency, ceding a crucial economic lever, by Davis & Bahree, WSJ, front page.
[And another bad habit -]
Israeli troops killed, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
...11 Palestinians in Gaza and rounded up hundreds of men in a hunt for militants.
[They might as well round up the whole population of people whom they dispossessed.]
The U.S. criticized the action....
[Bad Israel. Bad Israel. Here, take this year's $3½B 'foreign aid.']
and said it awaited results of an inquiry on the death of an American protester.
[Oh, haven't they heard. The bulldozer driver "didn't see" the American student who had been standing in front of him yelling at him through a megaphone. Ri-i-ight. More clues -]
Some companies quietly profit from war fever, by Claudia Deutsch, NYT, C3.
U.S. business will get role in rebuilding occupied Iraq, by Elizabeth Becker, NYT, A16.
[Compare also "US expects to award massive contract to rebuild Iraq" in middle of 3/15-17/2003 #1 below. They better profit while they can, because if Bush resurrects the nightmare of pre-emptive alias first-strike witch-hunts alias The Inquisition, things are going to be different -]
'New Europe' wary of U.S., too - Though officials back Washington on Iraq, citizenry doesn't, by Andrew Higgins, WSJ, A14.
[and now Japan has caved in to fear -]
Korean fears push Japan to offer U.S. its support on Iraq, by Sebastian Moffett, WSJ, A15.
[At least their fears are a little more realistic than Bush's, even for us since North Korean missiles can reach our own West Coast and nothing Saddam has can do that. And, anybody remember Osama and Al Qaeda? There's apparently a much better "address" for them than Iraq -]
Al Qaeda list points to Saudi elite, by Glenn Simpson, WSJ, A7.
[And then there's this curious twist -]
U.S. business leaders keep debates private over the Iraq conflict, by Carol Hymowitz, WSJ, B1.
In the debate over war with Iraq, where are the voices of U.S. business? "There is a silence among business leaders that is deafening, and which is an exception to the rule of how executives behaved in the past," says Richard Tedlow, a business historian at Harvard Business School and author of "Giants of Enterprise."
When GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt was asked recently by French newspaper La Tribune what impact a war would have on GE, he said. "I'm a businessman, not a politician. As an American, I stand behind my pResident, but otherwise it's beyond my expertise."
[That reminds us of all the putzes who intoned, "Oh I don't begrudge Bill Gates one penny of his billions - he earned it." Unless and until people get a little more skeptical, humanity is going to be spinning in the Great Whirlpool instead of moving on down the river of palpable (vs. techno glitz) progress.]
Mr. Immelt added, however, that the conflict is causing recessionary pressure, much the same was that fear of terrorism and "the anxiety of having a war start without knowing when it will end" helped cause the recession during the Gulf War in 1991.
[As long as business leaders and other members of our ruling elite keep their mouths shut, we're going to getting plunged back into the unpredictabilities and uncertainties of war, and with our much more powerful weapons, those unpredictabilities are going to be much much magnified. But still, in accordance with the theory of long-wave cycles of boredom, these dopes are still fueling the flames of suicidal first-strike self-righteousness -]
Fund-raising gives G.O.P. a big lead in last [election] cycle, by Adam Clymer, 3/19/2003 NYT, A24.
Indian tribes exempt from new limits on campaign gifts, AP via NYT, A22.
[Not something that anybody should be exempt from on the road to getting money completely out of politics. Back to today's Journal article -]
...Others say that given the division among Americans and the dissent overseas, anything they say is bound to offend someone. "...CEOs don't want to voice a personal opinion that may be associated with their companies," says Jeff Rodek, chairman and CEO of Hyperion Solutions, a Sunnyvale CA software company.
[And if they don't, their companies and/or their markets may be swept away in the surge of first-strike self-righteousness.]
He says the situation is aggravated by "a crisis of confidence among business leaders" in the wake of last year's accounting scandals and a subsequent desire to steer clear of more controversy....
[We should be so wise as to be able to indulge is more controversy, rather than reversing the hard lessons of the past and invoking mass anger, fear, violence, and death.]
- Americans tap unlikely source for financial tips - Rattled employees turn to counseling services to navigate debt, stocks - The No. 1 issue with callers is households that are burdened by too much debt, by Jeff Opdyke, WSJ, D2.
[Well, we all saw that coming.]
- [then, within the overall framework of bad news -]
Good news, bad news, AP via NYT, A22.
...Social Security's projected insolvency data was extended to 2042, one year later than [the 2041] projected a year ago, the annual report by government trustees shows.
[Big deal, it's still going bust under current policies.]
Medicare's insolvency date was moved up to 2026 from 2030 a year ago.
- [so we turn to the job market, and what do we find?]
'Well call...', pointer blurb (to B8), WSJ, B1.
Hiring managers hold all the cards. Months go by. What can you do?
- New security hole in Microsoft software, by John Schwartz, NYT, C5.
...allows intruders to take over a target Web server by sending a tiny scrap of code. The new hole affects computers running a part of Windows 2000 known as Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning, which allows users to work on webpages remotely. ...The machine that was attacked was a poorly secured server used by the U.S. Army and...the attacker was using the target computer to probe other machines....
[All this vulnerability and we still have people screwing around with war instead of "letting justice roll down like waters" and expanding the automatically integrating common interest, as from a common workweek range per person, whose structures can be subsequently mapped-over to provide a common income range per person, then in turn, wealth range, credit range, credibility range, celebrity range... until our degree of safe integrity cum versatility is high enough to make us safe for very long lifespans, something you would not want people like Kim Jung Il or Idi Amin or Muammar Qaddafi or Saddam Hussein or their first-strike nemeses in the White House to access today.]
- Spain's high court affirmed the banning, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
...of the Basque party Batasuna, the first party outlawed since the 1970s restoration of "democracy." [our quotes - ed.]
[Spain's PM, like Blair, is also a big Bush appeaser. "Let my people go." Except - can't afford real democracy while we're starting wars in the name of democracy.]
3/13/2003 headlines from hell -
- (3/17) Deadline today, Bush says, by Anne Kornblut, Boston Globe, front page.
With eyes and ears closed - the pResident marches toward war, op ed by Bob Herbert, NYT, A25.
[Or less dramatically -]
Bush and 2 allies seem set for war to depose Hussein - Leaders declare that diplomatic effort at U.N. ends today, by Sanger & Hoge, NYT, front page.
pResident Bush prepares for war [our mixed casing], editorial, NYT, A24.
The United States, nearly isolated, is about to wage a war in the name of the world community that opposes it....
[How did we come to this? - a few clues -]
In Iraq drama, Cheney emerges as pResident's war counselor - As Bush pursued diplomacy, Vice President made sure invasion remained on table, by Jeanne Cummings & Greg Hitt, WSJ, front page.
[More pointedly -]
Is it just a business venture?, letter to editor by Barbara Burns of South Dartmouth MA, Boston Globe, A12.
The Globe reports that a subsidiary [Kellogg Brown & Root] of Halliburton, VP Dick Cheney's former company, is one of three that may be invited to rebuild Iraq (A8, Mar.11).
Reportedly, Halliburton's subsidiary has also obtained a contract to furnish military supplies in the region with no budget cap. Perhaps this war is only a business venture for the administration.
[The indicated article is -]
US expects to award massive contract to rebuild Iraq, by Peter Slevin & Mike Allen, Washington Post via 3/11/2003 Boston Globe, A9.
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration, preparing what would be the most ambitious US rebuilding project since the aftermath of World War II, expects in the coming days to award a construction contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to begin remaking Iraq, officials said yesterday.
The massive umbrella contract, the first to be awarded, would pay for construction and repairs to roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and mosques, officials said. Other large deals are under negotiation to jump-start a reconstruction effort that would follow an overthrow of President Saddam Hussein.
Several US construction giants - including the Bechtel Group Inc., Halliburton Co., and Fluor Corp. - were invited to bid for the work on an emergency basis.
Analysts said the companies hope to win the contract and position themselves for such future projects as the repair and development of the country's oil industry.
US officials, wary of a potential backlash to a US-led invasion and military occupation, hope to convince Iraqis, by showing fast results, that the attempt to overhaul Iraq merits their support. Officials think they can win over hearts and minds by feeding hungry Iraqis, delivering clean water, and helping to pay teachers and health workers while a new government is constructed.
[Fine words to cover foul deeds. And recall all the promises the Bush administration has already made - and put on indefinite hold. And like it's a piece of cake to just - hey - construct a new government - or like we're in any kind of moral or good-government position to do so. We who have broken or dismissed so many international treaties and agreements in the past two years. We who can't even get the popularly elected candidate inaugurated as President. We who have record-breaking voter apathy election after election because the only two major parties have shut out all others and there's no substantive issue-choice between them except the Republicans are "born again" Christian fundamentalists, and Congress isn't talking about our issues anyway.]
The US Agency for International Development is seeking companies to handle such projects as renovating the country's largest airports, resuscitating electricial grids, and printing textbooks.
[As the Kennedy's say, "for the chi-i-ildren."]
The administration will seek from Congress the billions of dollars necessary for the initial military and civilian postwar effort if the White House challenges Iraq with force.
[In other words, taxpayers will be pressured to pick up the tab for Dick Cheney's violent adventure.]
US diplomats have been seeking financial commitments from other countries.
[What bloody gall!]
Planners also hope Iraqi oil revenue can help pay for reconstruction
[You bet they do!]
The initial reconstruction contract could be as large as $900 million, US officials have said.
[- carefully avoiding the billion-dollar figure.]
One planner called the number a ceiling and predicted the actual amount of the umbrella contract would be lower.
[Ha. What would you expect them to say? And note that so far all of this is anonymous. No names have been given of all these "officials" and "planners" throughout the entire first half of the article. But now, for the first time, a name appears. A "gentler kinder" woman -]
"The United States is probably going to have to pick up the bulk of what's going to happen in reconstruction, at least at the outset," said Bathsheba Crocker, coauthor of a report on post-Hussein Iraq at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
[Like anybody else should - from this violent business venture of oil executive Dick Cheney who wormed his way to the role of Great Ventriloquist for Dummy Dubya? Or like ANYthing's guaranteed to "happen in reconstruction." And what arrogance on the part of all these "conservative" (ha!) thinktanks. Counting chickens before they hatch is just the first of their unconservative postures.]
"It's acknowledged even by them [= the United States?] that it [= the bulk = cost of reconstruction] is going to be a drop in the bucket compared to what the overall costs will be."
[Thus contradicting what "one planner" said above in terms of calling $900 million a "ceiling." And get this -]
To speed the project, USAID invoked a special authority to solicit bids from selected companies, which include the Louis Berger Group Inc., a significant US contractor in Afghanistan.
[Oh, we BET they did - purely to "speed the project," mind you. And how successful have they been so far in Afghanistan, except in making money in unspendable excess for their top executives? Anybody take a bet that Halliburton hasn't been "selected," and Cheney doesn't still have a big moneytube into Halliburton to suction up wealth in unspendable profusion into his own bulging pockets? And with more concentrated spending power comes more propensity toward recession.]
The move bypassed the usual rules that would have permitted a wider pool of companies to seek the contract, first reported by Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal.
[But what are rules to this administration, especially when prosecuting Cheney's War?]
VP Dick Cheney spent five years as CEO of one competitor, Houston-based energy services company Halliburton. The Pentagon announced Thursday that Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root is developing a plan under an existing contract to fight possible Iraqi oilwell fires.
[There it is. Is there now any doubt why Cheney refuses to release any information on the "energy taskforce" meetings - they were PLANNING all this then, in the spring of 2001, and when the planes hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Cheney either closed his eyes, folded his hands and said, "Thankyou, Lord!" or nodded his head, snapped his fingers and said, "Right on schedule!" - from his "undisclosed locations." And no wonder Cheney was careful never to let Iraq slip from the agenda ever since! Boy, are we Americans the biggest patsies in world or what? And our poor fellow citizens waiting to invade - pathetic.]
The "urgent circumstances and the unique nature of this work" justify the procedures, USAID spokeswoman Ellen Yount said.
[Well something's got to justify these major ripoff of American prestige, credibility and treasury. Never mind that the so-called "urgency" is entirely of Cheney's manufacture. Nobody else in the world wants this suicidal first-strike stupidity except the suckups who want a cut.]
Officials said the winner is certain to farm out work to other companies inside and outside Iraq.
[For an overt or covert "percentage."]
Construction industry executives said the firms are competing fiercely in part because they think it could provide an inside track to postwar business opportunities.
[Or so they would have us believe, rather than that there's a cartel in the making.]
A significant prize: oil industry contracts.
[What a surprise!]
"It's a sensitive topic because we still haven't gone to war,
[Not to mention it was being planned before 9/11, maybe as early as 1997, maybe as early as 1991 when Cheney was Bush Sr.'s frustrated Defense Secretary for the first Gulf War.
But these companies are really in a position to win something out of this geopolitical situation," an industry executive said.
It remains unclear whether Iraqis, Americans, or an international consortium would manage the oil industry during an early post-conflict period.
[Anybody wanna take a wild guess? Most of the international community, despite their imperfections, just wasn't cynical enough to come in with us on this one, so screw them. And as for the Iraqis, pull down your pants and bend over, you lucky wretches - and make it fast!]
- [So the nastiest sort of businessmen (short-sighted, narrowly interested, megalomaniacal, sociopathic) form one part of the White House manipulation team, & here's the other -]
(3/17) The dynamic today, letter to editor by David Kahn of New York NY, NYT, A24.
...A most concerning aspect of the administration's attitude is the appearance of a fundamentalist perspective: starting with a fervent belief, citing pseudo-facts to support it, and ignoring all new information that could modify the belief. The Bush administration has shown this outlook repeatedly in foreign and domestic affairs.
Polls now show that many Europeans are more afraid of pResident Bush than of Saddam Hussein. What I think scares the world, and many Americans, is the realization that to some degree we are engaged in a cultural battle involving fundamentalists on both sides, one of which has overwhelming military resources.
[And where does this kind of primitive messianic thinking (Bush, Blair) - in the service of much more sophisticated but sociopathic thinking (Cheney, Rummy) - lead?]
Empires of yore, letter to editor by Stephen Jones of Deerfield Beach FL, NYT, A24.
...The very idea of foreign policy as a cooperative enterprise rather than one achieved through bellicosity, disdain, bribery and blackmail seems foreign to the White House.
The mess that its demeanor has created is staggering. Further, it displays a near complete lack of awareness of the history of other nations and cultures that had similar urges.
Where now are the empires of Rome, Greece, of the Mongols, the Ottomans, the Spanish and the Portuguese, the colonial French; where is the British Empire? What forces drove them to oblivion?
[Probably a foreign policy achieved through bellicosity, disdain, bribery and blackmail rather than one achieved through cooperative enterprise. The once-great USA accelerates its decline with an antique Electoral College and passive&compromised opposition and media.]
- (3/15) Energy drives up a price index, but other sectors, like cars, fall, Bloomberg via NYT, B2.
[crazy flation - rising gas prices cuz Dubya's jerkin around our oil supply, falling car prices and everything else cuz he's not doing a thing about our downsized consumer base and resulting spending power funneled into inactive concentrations.]
- (3/15) U.S. brands abroad are feeling global tension - Anti-American sentiment is already on the rise, by John Tagliabue, NYT, B3.
If the U.S. does invade Iraq, some of the first casualties may be the [allure] that American brands and products have enjoyed around the world and the globalized marketplace they helped to build. In Muslim nations, franchised stores like McDonald's and KFC have already been attacked, threatening to brake a recent surge of investment in franchised businesses, many of them originating in the U.S.
At the same time, a growing number of knockoff products have appeared in Europe, imitating popular American brands but appealing to anti-American sentiment in Europe's large Muslim population and among other Europeans opposed to [Bush] policy in Iraq....
- (3/15) Uncertain economy hinders highly precise supply system, by Daniel Altman, NYT, B1.
Powell Electrical Mfg, a Houston company that makes industrial power-distribution equipment, has expanded its use of just-in-time [JIT] supply chains. [photo caption]
In an economy subdued by the threat of war, is JIT becoming [JID] just too difficult?...
[Complex modern business needs a LOT of predictability. Cowboy Bush and his Oil Junta have spread, and are spreading, the opposite.]
- (3/17) A young woman, an appendectomy, and a $19,000 debt - Ms. Nix confronts harsh fact of healthcare economics: Uninsured are billed more, by Lucette Lagnado, WSJ, front page.
[Compare story a couple of days ago - 3/13/2003 #5 below.]
- [judgement from God?]
(3/15) Mysterious respiratory illness afflicts hundreds globally, by Altman & Bradsher, NYT, A5.
Hundreds of people in Vietnam, Hong Kong and mainland China...have come down with a[n] illness that has killed at least six [and] also been reported in Canada..\.. The World Health Organization...describes it as an "atypical pneumonia" \and\ issued its first global alert in 10 years....
- [and speaking of plagues -]
(3/15) On terror, spying and guns, Ashcroft expands reach, by Lichtblau & Liptak, NYT, front page.
In the bureaucratic reshuffling over "domestic security" [our quotes], Atty Gen. John Ashcroft...grabbed control of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms....
- Schroeder offers plan for ending Germany's economic slump, by Richard Bernstein, NYT, A4.
[Germany may have long vacations and short workweeks in the unionized sectors, but the potential power of this approach - in particular, of a modern homeostatically unemployment-controlled workweek level to centrifuge and activate Germany's concentrated spending power - seems to have never crossed the mind of Germany's Chancellor. All he can come up with is sticks, no carrots -]
...Mr. Schroeder's main proposals...were aimed at making it easier for employers to fire workers, reducing the length of time unemployed people can receive benefits and eliminating some of the costs of the vast national welfare system.
[Then we get the usual stupid makework proposal -]
The program would also increase public works spending,
[And finally something positive -]
would make it easier for small businesses to hire temporary workers
[although based on greatly exaggerated hopes in small business, "The Engine of Growth" - yeah sure. But then back to the stick, not the carrot -]
and would require unemployed people who have received welfare payments for a year or more to accept jobs, even if undesirable, that are offered to them by the state employment agencies....
[thus depressing wages, and retarding automation, of unpopular jobs.]
3/12/2003 headlines from hell -
- NYSE [New York Stock Exchange] member firms post loss, Dow Jones via WSJ, C5.
...They reported their first quarterly loss as a group in four years....
Oil jumps to a 12-year high, as supply falls amid war fear, by Masood Farivar, WSJ, C11.
European stock markets continue their slide, by Silvia Ascarelli, WSJ, C14.
Japan's current-account surplus shrinks 37.6%, DJ Newswires via WSJ, A10
- [a great disturbance in The Force -]
The Associated Press protested..., news blurb, WSJ, front page.
...seizure of an unclassified FBI report a reporter mailed to a colleague. The FBI said the material on Ramzi Yousef was too sensitive to be made public.
[oppressive paranoia and hyper-protectionism hold sway]
Singer cancels U.S. tour, by Somini Sengupta, NYT, A13.
Youssou N'Dour, the acclaimed Senegalese singer and bandleader and UNICEF ambassador, has announced the cancellation of his 7-week tour of North America, originally scheduled for Mar. 25 - May 15. "As a matter of conscience, I question the U.S. government's apparent intention to commence war in Iraq."...
[And former French colonies aren't the only ones - there's also the French themselves, leary of crazy Yanks -]
For French, apprehension about travel to U.S., by Mary Kelly, NYT, W1.
[and since Bush was sooo cooperative with the whole Continent -]
Europe to fight U.S. flight-information pact, by Scott Miller, WSJ, A10.
["Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world....
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born...." (Yeats "Second Coming," 1921) ]
Serbia's premier was assassinated, pointer blurb (to A10), WSJ, front page.
...by gunmen in Belgrade. ...Zoran Djindjic...led the Y2000 fight to topple Milosevic and later sent him to The Hague....
[Thank you, righteous Christ-imbued George W. Bush and your Righteous Dozen, for pushing so hard to get right up to Pandora's box, and to get your manicured fingernails right under the lid ready to yank it open. You need to study Good Queen Bess, the mistress of benign neglect, or Lao Tzu - "The Sage does nothing, and yet, nothing remains undone." On the contrary, you're doing quite a bit behind the scenes, and it's quite a bit that requires quite a bit more in other areas -]
U.S. [ie: Bush] to send missiles to Turkey, Reuters via NYT, A13.
Washington has agreed to send 2 Patriot antimissile systems to Turkey - resolving one of NATO's problems in meeting the defense needs of its ally, which fears attack in the event of war in Iraq....
[But on the other hand, there's a lot in what this reader says -]
Senator McCain's call to arms, ...letter to editor by Glenda Tamblyn of Northridge CA, NYT, A26.
John McCain (op-ed, Mar.12) has cleverly shuffled the deck and dealt a new hand with the same cards the Bush administration keeps dealing to the American public.... But buying into the "price of doing nothing" is a real stretch. To me, the price of doing nothing at home about
is greater than the price of doing nothing in Iraq.
- the economy,
- the environment,
- Medicare and
- Plan restricting stock options stalls at S.E.C., by Gretchen Morgenson, NYT, front page.
[oh well, maybe the FASB initiative on stock options (3/12/2003 #3) will keep moving]
- [meanwhile, those with already with sooo much wealth they're suctioning the markets away from their own investments figger out how to git even more -]
How to lease land from government and not pay rent, by Douglas Jehl, NYT, front page.
[cheating the taxpayer = sorta like sawing off the limb your BIG treehouse is on]
- [while those with little or nothing get less and less -]
Twenty years and still paying - Jeanette White is long dead but her hospital bill lives on; Interest charges, legal fees - 'They will never get the whole amount - I am not gonna live that long,' Mr. White says, by Lucette Lagnado, WSJ, B1.
Quinton White, 77 years old...in Bridgeport CT, has been trying to pay Yale-New Haven Hospital's ballooning bill for his late wife's care for the past 20 years. [photo caption]
...Mrs. White died in 1993, but her debt lives on, growing like her cancer because of the 10% interest charged on her original $18,740....
Indeed, medical bills are now the second biggest cause of personal bankruptcies, according to a study by Elizabeth Warren, who heads Harvard University's Bankruptcy Project. Along with the astronomical cost of even routine hospital procedures, she blames hospitals' aggressive collection tactics.
The patients who suffer the most aren't necessarily indigent. The very poor can get Medicaid, the government health plan that pays hospital tabs for those who qualify, while most middle-class families have health coverage that picks up the bulk of their medical bills. It is working-class families like the Whites [for the confused, yes, the Whites are blacks], with some assets but no insurance coverage, who are penalized the most by the system....
[None of the other First World nations has this problem, because they have some form of universal single-payer health insurance. "But but but." "But" nothing. Both the U.S. non-system and, for example, the Canadian system have problems, but while the nation hailed by many of its own supremely unbiassed and totally informed citizens (plus the "poor and huddled masses," the most "wretched refuse" from the "teeming shores" of the Third World) as the Greatest Nation on Earth has healthcare problems, more and more of its citizens are losing health coverage (see 3/05 #3 below), and while, for example, Canada, with the sensitivity and common sense (like Iceland) to shut up about its high living standards, has healthcare problems, every Canadian is covered. And gov't-based (or Hawaiian c.1990) -type plans have the advantage of removing an obstacle in the way of urgently necessary worksharing = vital benefits attached to rigidly and archaically defined "full time employment."]
Twenty years - and he isn't paying any more, by Lucette Lagnado, 4/01/2003 WSJ, B1.
...Yale-New Haven Hospital, the primary teaching hospital for Yale University's medical school, has told the 77-year-old former dry cleaning worker that it will no longer require him to pay his nearly $40,000 obligation....
[But only after being embarrassed nationwide by the above WSJ article....]
3/11/2003 headlines from hell -
- The house bets, pointer 'inside' (to C1), WSJ, front page.
With business bad, almost every major Wall Street firm has begun making bigger bets with its own money - a strategy that carries real risks.
- When is health insurance like Swiss cheese?, pointer 'inside' (to D1), WSJ, front page.
Covering the bone-marrow operation but not the donor: Holes are showing up in health coverage as more policies exclude critical aspects of treatment.
[Oh? We thought the American health insurance approach was perfect despite incidentally a severe shortage of nurses (2/13/2003 #2), contorted attempts to get in on the beleaguered nationalized part of it (2/25/2003 #2), the fact that you have to watch every move they make ("Errors? You're first line of defense - Consumers are being urged to keep a watchful eye on their healthcare providers," by Laura Landro, 3/13/2003 WSJ, D2), and the exclusion of ever more millions of Americans (3/05 #3 below), unlike that lousy stinkin' crummy Canadian system (2/13/2003 #1) that just happens to cover all Canadians.]
- Senate blocks an amendment to alter an abortion measure [ie: GOP Senate blocks easing of a partial-birth abortion ban], by Carl Hulse, NYT, A19.
[OK, back to the kitchen, "girls"! The Grand Old Republican Party wants you barefoot and pregnant if you're abortion-delayed, even if you've been raped.]
[And the Journal finally gets around to covering it -]
Senators defeat attempt to ease planned late-term abortion ban, by David Rogers, 3/13/2003 WSJ, A4.
- Senate Republicans say they are one vote away, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
...from the 50 they need to open an Alaska wildlife refuge to [oil] drilling. Attaching the provision to a budget resolution averts a filibuster.
- [and speaking of Rebublicans (oh sorry) Rebeezlebublicans (oh damn) Republicans (phew, the sacred party of Lincoln!), we have a good headline -]
World Court for crimes of war opens in the Hague, by Marlise Simons, NYT, A9.
[followed immediately by bad opening words -]
Fiercely opposed by the Bush administration....
[which of course, as God's personal angel of light (Heb: mal'akh 'or, Gk: heosphoros, Lat: Lucifer), is faaar above all piddling little world courts.]
- Ebola, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
...is deciminating gorilla populations in Congo Republic, according to a primatologist who said up to 800 have been lost at the Lossi sanctuary.
[We didn't know there were that many left to decimate.]
- California: Injunction against tree sitters, AP via NYT, A18.
[bad, next to -]
Bush signs do-not-call law [vs. telemktg], NYT, A18.
- [next to -]
Massachusetts: University president blasts plan, AP via NYT, A18.
[bad, when the prez in question is Billy Bulger, bro of hood Whitey Bulger, and the plan in question is to get rid of his job. As a columnist says tomorrow -]
UMass needs an untarnished champion, op ed by Joan Venocchi, 3/13/2002 Boston Globe, A13.
3/08-10/2003 headlines from hell -
- War fears send markets down; Treasury yields hit 44-year low, by Browning & Zuckerman, WSJ, front page.
[44 years gets us back to 1959, still not far enough to teach us the real lesson (1939 and 1929) but stretching our analysts' tiny timeframe nonetheless. Also -]
Volatility increases as stocks fall amid rising geopolitical worry, by Kopin Tan, Dow Jones via WSJ, C11.
- [And now we have gas prices rising faster than the mid-1970s = different from the early 90s -]
Diesel prices force small truckers off the road, by Daniel Machalaba, WSJ, B6.
[thus threatening one of our really big private-sector makework campaigns (see makework 'realm' #12). It's good to get rid of makework, but not until we have a functioning sharework system to prevent economic collapse. Hey, at least it saves petroleum -]
Oil markets have less margin of error than in last Iraq war -...Spare capacity is minimal, by Cummins & Bahree & Herrick, WSJ, front page.
[and interestingly -]
Vienna sausage, by Jesse Eisinger, WSJ, C1.
In the...event of war in Iraq, Saudi Arabia says it is willing to suspend its production limits....
[Note that there are usually "production limits" in the global oil industry - which most people would agree are a Good Thing because of limited underground fossil-fuel supplies - and yet, where in this industry is the prevailing worship of Growth? We suppose they could still worship Productivity, meaning output per worker, but that just highlights the contradiction between the two main obsessions of present-day Short-Term Capitalism - it pays lip service to Growth yet strangles it with its huge current market-limiting fixation on Productivity with a premium on "the fewer workers (and consumers), the better" - instead of Productivity with a premium on "the fewer manhours for the more employees (and consumers), the better." So production limits in this important industry are a standing challenge to our short-sighted fixation on Growth, and so is our present-day concept of Productivity, strangling, as it does, both employment and consumer demand. Qoyannosqatsi - a system out of balance.]
- [More evidence of our true commitment to what we pay lip service to -]
Today, military kids often say goodbye to dad - and mom, by Greg Jaffe, WSJ, front page.
[featuring couples who are stupid enough to have children and then both join the military - which should be illegal, especially with the GOP who croon about "The Family" and are presumably against creating orphans.]
- [And yet more self-contradiction -]
Lack of jobs is complicating welfare rules, by Carlos Tejada, WSJ, B1.
["Oh what a surprise!" So much for our 'serious commitment' to workfare.]
3/07/2003 headlines from hell -
- 3/10 The economy lost..., pointer blurb (to A2), WSJ, front page.
...308,000 nonagricultural jobs in February, the biggest drop since the aftermath of 9/11/01, in a sign business conditions are deteriorating.
[and the cushioned header, stark subheader of the indicated article -]
Labor data show economic growth could be stalling - Jobless rate rises to 5.8%, as payroll cuts extend to every major industry, by Patrick Barta, WSJ, A2.
- 3/10 Immigrants' population gains maintain speedy 1990s pace, by Eduardo Porter, WSJ, A2.
[Meaning both Democrat and Republican administrations are equally clueless on this issue, and it's a top candidate for regular binding public referendum by secret ballot, because no "representative" on a public ballot in Congress is going to take on this American sacred cow, however many illegals are involved and however fast we slide toward the Third World.]
Despite an economic downturn and the tightening of border controls during the first 2 years of this decade, the number of immigrants living in the U.S. continued to rise at a blistering pace, suggesting illegal immigration hasn't slowed signficantly from its peak levels in the 1990s.
[So the default reference of the term "immigrants," unmodified, is now illegal immigrants? Bad sign, indicating that despite 9/11/01, we really have no control of our borders, no functional immigration law, no effective immigration policy.]
...According to demographers, illegal immigrants account for between 35% and 50% of the growth in the foreign born population..\..
There were over 2 million more immigrants living in the U.S. in March 2002 compared with 2 years before, according to data in a Census Bureau report to be released today. The report...says there were 32.5m foreign-born people in the U.S., up from 30.1m in March 2000 [excluding] people who are living in armed-forces barracks or are imprisoned.
The yearly growth...during the first 2 years of the decade [is] slightly above 1 million per year [and] is the same [as] was recorded throughout the 1990s, the decade of highest immigration in the previous century, when the foreign-born population ballooned to 30m from 20m.
The period covered...includes the first 6 months after 9/11/01 and the first year of the current economic slowdown, when unemployment rates were rising....
[More labor surplus, more job shortage, more sinking wages, more funnelling of unspendable spending power into the top income brackets, more momentum toward recession, less momentum toward recovery. Not to mention -]
3/09 Undercurrent of anger as immigrants gain jobs, by Charles Stein, Boston Globe, C1.
- [And evermore evidence that our pResident and our ruling oil junta are insane, totally obsessed with starting WAR against a sick and pathetic little nation that has been peaceful for over 10 years
3/10 Urgent diplomacy fails to gain [Bush] 9 votes in the U.N..., by Weisman & Barringer, NYT, front page.
U.S. [ie: Bush] asks over 60 nations to expel Iraqi envoys - Hundreds pose threat as suspected spies, Bush officials say, by David Sanger, NYT, front page.
3/08 Sentiment against war is voiced across world, by Tim Weiner, NYT, A10.
3/08 A day of emotion and undiplomatic bluntness - When the diplomats dropped their niceties, by Steven Weisman, NYT, A10.
[and now even the hawk-brained Wall Street Journal (apologies to the actual hawk species of birds) is starting to ask -]
3/10 Martial plan: Is war-linked rally inevitable? by E.S. Browning, WSJ, C1.
...That isn't what always happens....
[and the $$$cost estimates are rising -]
3/08 Troop movement alone could cost $25 billion, Congressional [Budget] Office finds, by David Rosenbaum, NYT, A11.
- 3/08 Oil and gas industry exempt from new clean water rules, by Jennifer Lee, NYT, A14.
Senator James Jeffords [the guy with the guts to quit the GOP & give us one independent rep in the Senate to match our one independent rep in the House (Bernie Sanders)] opposes a water-rule exemption. [photo caption]
3/05/2003 headlines from hell -
- Global warming means a possible big chill for northern regions, by Sharon Begley, WSJ, B1.
...As most of the world gets toastier, average winter temperatures in Northeastern America and Western Europe could plunge 9° F. [because in addition to the familiar] Antarctic glaciers breaking off and surging into the sea, bringing a catastrophic rise in sea level \there's also] the Gulf Stream no longer conveying warmth from tropical to northern latitudes....
[Maybe we won't need to buy that clamshack refuge from the heat up in Newfoundland or Greenland after all. Or maybe we'll also need a refuge from the cold down in Floriduh if it's a case of both winters and summers getting more extreme. Wonder if E.O. Wilson would regard the global warming problem as a subset of the species extinction problem or a superset (of if both, primarily which?)]
- Losses, before bullets fly - Even Canadians stop biting their tongues, by Nicholas Kristof, NYT, A27.
Last week a member of the Canadian Parliament for the ruling party, Carolyn Parrish, was caught on TV declaring: "Damn Americans. I hate those bastards." ...The latest invective comes on top of the prime minister's spokes[wo]man calling George Bush a "moron" last fall..\.. Then the Toronto Globe & Mail newspaper conducted a poll on its website, asking Canadians whether they agreed that "Americans are behaving like 'bastards.'" The returns...as of yesterday, 51% were saying yes.
When even Canadians, normally drearily polite, get colorfully steamed at us, we know the rests of the world is apoplectic.... The U.S. debate on the antipathy toward us has been misleading...in its focus on France. (There's now an American bumper sticker: "Iraq now, France next.") It's not just the prickly Gauls who are taking potshots at us - it's even our buddies, like the Canadians and the Irish....
[and the Germans and the Russians and the Scandinavians and the Japanese and the Arab world - in fact, anybody who doesn't have their hand out. So the bumper sticker should be a lot longer: "First Iraq, then France, then Canada, then Ireland, then Germany, then Russia, then Scandinavia, then Japan, then North Korea, then Palestine, then Iran, then Libya,.... It's not that Americans are "bastards" except in the sense of attracting furious anger. It's just that their corporate rulers have become very ignorant and arrogant in their manipulation of our so-called "democracy" and now they've got themselves an extremely embarrassing junta of ignorant and arrogant and information-withholding oil executives in the White House, and it's going to take years for the once great USA to regain its credibility as anything but a bunch of Jesus freaks let loose on the cleaning up the evil world as they see it - never mind the parable of the wheat and the weeds, Matt.13:29, where Jesus said, "Don't pull up the weeds till the harvest lest you pull up the wheat as well." Not to mention Romans 12:19, "Avenge not yourselves...for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
[Check out this reader's intelligent suggestion -]
A just war? by Arthur Benson of Kansas City MO, NYT, A26.
One certain alternative to the last resort of a "just" [our quotes] war in Iraq:
Spend millions on inspections before spending BILLIONS on death and all war's other costs....
- increase on-the-ground inspectors to 3,000 or even 30,000,
- provide fast and flexible transportation, and
- back them with armed escorts.
3/04/2003 headlines from hell -
- Caution signs on the road to war, letter to editor by Robert Wolf of Sedro-Woolley WA, NYT, A26.
Re "Bush aides dismiss moves by Baghdad but feel pressure" (front page, March 4):
The Bush policy on Saddam Hussein and Iraq seems to be:
And military, political and economic power for their own sake.
- war for any justification;
- war at any opportunity;
- war with any financial cost;
- war at any national security price;
- war against any moral or religious values;
- war against any international and democratic opposition;
- war with allies or without.
[Guess that answers the next letter by David Curtin of San Angelo TX - "Whatever else one might say about the road to war with Iraq, there has been no "rush." - yeah, we've been calling this hustle, this obsessive push for war a "rush" to war, which in terms of the postponements, it isn't any more. It's more like Bob Wolf says, war at any cost and over any objection. Or, with all the delays, is it turning into just an intense bluff in a game of highstakes poker? -]
Top general [Richard Myers] sees plan to shock Iraq into surrendering - 'Different' from '91 war..., by Schmitt & Bumiller, NYT, front page.
[Well, he's still talking about -]
...unleashing 3,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles [ya mean like the last "precision" guided ones we used? (coughcough)] in the first 48 hours of a short air campaign, to be followed quickly by ground operations....
[This could be the usual CivilWar-like short-war fantasy, or, it could just be part of the highstakes poker.]
- [meanwhile, back on the home front (what's that?!) -]
U.S. stocks set 5-month low, tumbling 1.7% - Trading is extremely light as corporate and war news continue to damp enthusiasm, by Kate Kelly, WSJ, C1.
...The Dow...fell 132.99 pts...to 7704.87 - its worst performance since Oct. 10.... Other indexes mirrored the Dow industrials' performance....
- [So much for the rich. What about the rest of us? -]
Study raises estimate of the nation's uninsured, by Robin Toner, NYT, A16.
WASHINGTON...- An estimated 75 million Americans were without health insurance at some point during the last 2 years, amounting to nearly a third of all Americans younger than 65, a study has found. [It] suggests that being uninsured is far more common - and much more of a mainstream problem - than previously thought, the study's sponsors said. ...Ron Pollack [is] executive director of Families USA, a liberal consumer advocacy group, which prepared the study for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.... The study was released as part of the promotion of Cover the Uninsured Week, which begins on March 10.... Americans older than 65 are covered by the Medicare program.
[And say goodbye to Medicare -
Medicare fight begins, pointer squib (to A16), NYT, front page.
pResident Bush proposed comprehensive drug coverage to Medicare recipients who switch to subsidized private insurance plans. Democrats accused the administration of trying to coerce the elderly and disabled in an effort to privatize the program.
[Back to the uninsured article -]
The uninsured tended to be working people, and tended to be young..\..
By and large, these were not small periods of time: nearly a fourth of the 74.7m lacked coverage for the full 24 months; another fourth were uninsured for 3-5 months, the study found. Only 10% were without health insurance for 2 months or less....
[And the Journal version, buried in the last section -]
Study finds large number of uninsured, AP via WSJ, D3.
...according to the analysis of Census data by Families USA, a liberal consumer group. The study found that 90% of uninsured Americans went without coverage for at least 3 months, and about 80% were in working families.
Studies have found that people without insurance are less likely to see doctors and more likely to be diagnosed with illnesses late.
[Or even people with a string of constantly changing, miserly insurance companies, varying yearly or even monthly as their employer is repeatedly taken over by other companies. Our health insurance provider has changed 3 times in the last 3 years. And the second one, not the current one, was the best.]
- US budget deficit seen rising fast [wudda surprise!] - House analysts raise estimate 15% from five weeks ago, by Edmund Andrews, NYT, front page.
[or the inside continuation -]
Budget deficit up rapidly, analysts in Congress conclude - Could the shortfall reach $400B this year?, NYT, A17.
[Sure, with Dubya on the throne. Then there's the neighboring state-budget piece -]
A prescription plan lauded as a model is a budget casualty, by Timothy Egan, NYT, front page.
[So whaddathey do?]
...Oregon took another drastic step this week to cover budget shortfalls: it cut off medications to thousands of schizophrenics, manic-depressives, drug addicts and others who are poor and have no health care....
[Great, now why don't they just station machine-gunners outside the hospitals and mow 'em down when they run out?]
...Most of the cuts went into effect March 1, but others started Feb. 1, just days after Oregonians voted in a referendum against a tax increase to balance their budget....
[Now to wake them up, they need a referendum on that machine-gun idea. Three words: tax the rich - they're not doing anything with it. Close the Great Leak Upward. Cuz while we're unbalancing legions of the unbalanced, look what else we're doing = widening the Great Leak Upward.]
Deep in budget bill, a milking - Texas Rep. Bonilla gets a tax deal for dairies near disease zone, by David Rogers, WSJ, A4.
WASHINGTON - Bringing a new dimension to farm [ie: agrobiz] aid, a frustrated Texass congressman has devised a novel solution to his dairymen's tax problems: The Agriculture Dept. can pay the IRS for them. As mcuh as $15 million is set aside for their taxes through a last-minute change [which the system should be redesigned to make IMPOSSIBLE!] to the giant budget bill that pResident Bush signed at his ranch in Crawford, Texas - about 400 miles due east of the 10 El Paso-area dairies that stand to benefit. The amendment...is the latest twist in a $44m government plan to buy up herds along the Mexican border to create a cow-free zone to fight the spread of bovine tuberculosis.... "There is no limit to how rich you can become if you have certain friends" on the Appropriations committee [like Rep. Bonilla], complains Wisconsin Rep. David Obey, ranking Democrat on the panel....
[Well, as born-again Christian Dubya would say to you, David, in the words of that old hymn, just "Trust and Obey." And while yer at it, just shaddap, you spoilsport!]
- [besides, it's not ALL Bush's fault -]
U.S. shortcomings in public diplomacy predate Bush team, by John Harwood, WSJ, A4.
[still, the Journal is kinda possibly just maybe souring a bit on boyscout Bush -]
The most significant campaign promise George W. Bush has broken was perhaps one of the least noticed [clearly Harwood don't read the Times]: Candidate Bush vowed "to be humble" toward the rest of the world. Yet pResident Bush doesn't do humble convincingly.... But he's also paying for the shortcomings of his predecessors.
The world's opinion of America has been moving, but the direction is backward. Despite sympathies aroused by 9/11/2001, U.S. favorability ratings have dropped since 2000 in 19 of 27 countries for which data are available, according to Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center.
Wonder why the Turkish parliament won't allow U.S. forces to launch a northern front against Iraq from its territory, despite an offer of billions of dollars in aid? Just 30% of Turkish citizens expressed a positive view of the U.S. in 2002 [sounds high to us], down from 52% two years earlier....
- [PLAGUE WATCH dept. (aside from the human plague that spread thru the White House a coupla yrs ago)
Congo Republic: Ebola toll reaches 88, Reuters via NYT, A8.
[That and AIDS should empty much of Africa for our occupation in oh, say, 10-20 years.]
3/01-3/2003 headlines from hell -
- [first consumer confidence (2/26 #1 below) and now -]
Industry's pace slows; Consumer spending drops - A threat of war and higher oil prices slow 2 economic sectors, Bloomberg via NYT, C15.
[Or maybe it's mainly just cumulative downsizings.]
...Consumer spending on cars and other durable goods...in January dropped 5.7%, the biggest decline since the period before the 1990-91 recession. Consumer purchases account for 2/3 of the economy and a sustained pullback will keep growth from accelerating....
[What "growth"? We have so much fluff defined into the GDP that when it gets anywhere near zero, it's functionally negative.]
- Bigger boom, bigger bust - This slump is like the other slumps, only much worse, by Charles Stein, Boston Globe, D1.
...There are differences this time.... The most important one is scale. In both the [recessions of the] mid-1980s and early 1990s, total national technology spending rose [anyway], albeit modestly, according to gov't statistics. In 2001, technology spending in the U.S. dropped 9.4%; it fell another 1% last year. You have to go back to 1958 to find another year when total technology spending actually fell.
The breadth of this slump is also distinctive. "In 30 years I have never seen a time when every segment of technology was on its back at the same time," said Tom Willmott, president of Aberdeen Group, a Boston consulting firm....
- [and why all this econogrief, you ask? could it be there's no real feedback in our system? -]
Wall Street pain stops at the top - CEOs of big financial firms still pull down fat paychecks despite a dismal environment, by Susanne Craig, WSJ, C1.
[never mind "environment" - what about "performance"?! - oh, we forgot, this is the Wall Street Journal so anything bad has to be an Act of God over which poor CEOs had no control. The concentration of income in the USA has gone sooo far that the wealthy have drawn to themselves all the decision-making power and yet, at the same time, totally insulated themselves from the negative consequences of any decisions they make. Any systems specialist can tell you, there's no feedback in this system, no cybernetics, and that means - no sustainability. It's like George W. Bush and a bunch of other people who have never been to war (Bush absented himself from his entire national service!) making a decision that we have to have a war and a war on a pre-emptive first-strike basis! How did this country ever regress so far? Well, maybe the accompanying chart here tells the tale, a tale of NO FEEDBACK -]
Bosses' pay stays afloat in tough times, regulatory filings via WSJ, C1.
[Still, things must have gotten pretty bad when the Wall Street Journal is complaining about Wall Street salaries. Wonder how much worse things will have to get before they start asking, how do we balance the centripetal and centrifugal forces on the nation's income, so we don't get sooo much concentration that there's not enough left to support its value? Our answer, go back to a full-employment economy, not by continuing to strain for makework dba "job creation" which seems always too little too late, but by simply sharing the vanishing work on an automatic and homeostatic basis (which, despite loud squeals, puts everyone on a level playing field), coupled with overtime& overwork-targeted training.
- James Cayne/Bear Stearns $19.6m - His pay nearly doubles.
- Sanford Weill/Citigroup $17.9m (est. when granted in Feb/03)....
- Lloyd Blankfein/Goldman Sachs $16.1m - Trading exec makes more than his CEO [Paulson - see below]
- Richard Fuld/Lehman Brothers $12.5m....
- Henry Paulson/Goldman Sachs $12.1m....
- Philip Purcell/Morgan Stanley $11.0m
- Scan-it-yourself checkout lines, by Elizabeth Schatz, WSJ, D2.
Where have all the cashiers gone? Chains ranging from Kmart to Kroger are replacing their human cashiers with machines: Instead of someone helping you to scan and bag your purchases, you do it yourself....
[What's that economists say about "Technology creates more jobs than it destroys"? They seem to be assuming that CEOs are trimming hours instead of chopping jobs.]
Chalk it up to the bad economy and retailers' desire to save money.
[Or to CEOs' desire to concentrate all the money in their own few pockets, even when they're suctioning more and more of the spending power away from the productivity they have their money invested in.]
The machines typically pay for themselves in 9-12 months. Retailers say they aren't installing them as an excuse to fire people - but tell that to a [cashier]....
- Major security flaw emerges in Internet-mail program, WSJ, C13.
...in Sendmail, a program that manages more than half of all Internet mail traffic.... The flaw....could allow attackers to send specially crafted e-mail messages that would allow them to remotely gain "root" control over a server machine running Sendmail, which would make it possible to intercept or block the flow of mail traffic.... Though the flaw hasn't been exploited to date, Sun, Sendmail and other companies began distributing special patch programs to fix the problem.
[Technology has become too powerful and we've become too dependent on it to continue with our present primitive level of common interest, relying on rhetoric like "one person, one vote" (everyone has the same political voice) and the vanishing seniority criterion (everyone qualifies for raises or promotions at the same rate). We need something more visible, functional and convincing - something like a common non-arbitrary workweek minimum and maximum, and overtime-targeted training. Timesizing sets the workweek minimum by regular binding public referendum, and sets the workweek maximum by the workweek minimum. This essentially means that Timesizing defines unemployment and under-employment in a comprehensive way that includes the problem of non-self-support in all its manifestations: traditional rose-colored unemployment, newly capped welfare, newly exploding disability, homelessness and prisons. Then Timesizing defines overtime to vary directly with "undertime" aka this comprehensive unemployment we've just talked about (this happens automatically when the workweek is made to vary inversely with unemployment), and sets up a system whereby overtime targets, triggers, paces and finances its own resolution = training and hiring. If and when this 5-phase system raises expectations it can no longer satisfy, we simply copy the 5-phase structure from the employment-per-person dimension and "snap" it on the income-per-person dimension.]
[Further trouble from insufficient common interest -]
Eluding a new web hazard, by Alex Frangos, WSJ, D1.
...Something called spyware is secretly attaching itself to computers around the country. \It's\ a new Internet pest that even more irritating - and potentially...disruptive - than spam mail.... The software...follows you as you browse the Web, and alerts advertisers to where you're been and how long you stayed. Before long, random ads begin popping up on your screen; spyware can also interfere with other software, making your computer more likely to crash. It slips onto your PC when you install file-sharing programs like Kazaa, or visit certain websites - so it's hard to avoid.
[So in this article and the previous, companies that depend on consumers are passing along more and more costs to their customers - what we used to call "sh*tting where they eat." This is like growing time taxes on the consumer base. And as with other taxes, whatever you tax you get less of. Ergo, less consumer confidence and less consumer spending - as noted in item #1 today (above).]
But you can get rid of it by downloading one of 2 free utilities, Ad-aware 6.0 from Lavasoft (lavasoftusa.com; click on download) or Spybot...(security.kolla.de). They scan your computer for spyware and dump it into the virtual garbage can. It's important to update the utility frequently - as often as every few weeks.
- 3/3 New economy's rising tide recedes in Pacific Northwest. by Timothy Egan, NYT, front page.
SEATTLE - ...Now the very attributes that made the Pacific Northwest look like the vanguard of the new-century economy have come back to haunt this region. A staggering Asian economy, the worldwide downturn in the airline industry, and the dot-com bust dealt a triple blow to the region....
[But here's some bad economic news that we kinda like -]
After years at top, McDonald's strives to regain ground, by Sherri Day, NYT, front page.
[We can hardly wait for this kind of story about Wal-Mart.]
- 3/02 The enemy at home, letter to editor by Bill Beck, Boston Globe, E12.
What world leader has declared war on his own people? Saddam Hussein, you say? That's not who I had in mind. I was thinking of George W. Bush. I see the results when I go to the gas station...."
- [Here's another little item the Bush-man (no offense to the peaceable Bushmen tribe) is ignoring -]
3/3 North Korea says a U.S. attack could lead to a nuclear war - Warnings of a 'nuclear catastrophe', by Keith Bradsher, NYT, A12.
[Soooo, Iraq-jealous North Korea warns "eyes-for-you-only,Saddamy-Pie" Dubya re nuclear war & catastophe. Sodomy with Saddamy-Pie? Hey, Hitler was kinky. So was J. Edgar Hoover. Geez mabeez, what does Kim Jung Eel (oops) Il have to DO to pull some of da Bush-mon's brainstem attention away from Eye-rack?! More -]
North Korea MIG's intercept U.S. jet on spying mission - Shadow unarmed plane - Washington voices alarm - Says surveillance craft will have fighter escorts, by Eric Schmitt, 3/04/2003 NYT, front page.
[Hey, that got a bit of a rise out of the 800-lb. gorilla.]P>
- 3/02 Once secure, Argentines now lack food and hope - Some 60% of all Argentines are living in poverty, by Larry Rohter, NYT, A6.
Out of work and out of money, Argentines have been moving from the countryside into [the northwest city of] Tucuman to scavenge at the garbage dump. [photo caption]
[Moving from rural areas to cities sounds like China, but news from China says they're moving to find jobs, not comb dumps.]
In the 1980s, when Vilma Rivero opened a soup kitchen for poor children, she provided a daily lunch and snack for about 150 children. Now she feeds as many as 400. [photo caption] ....
For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -Feb. 15-28/2003.
July 1-15/2002 + Jun 30.
Earlier Y2000 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-10/2000 page.
Earlier 1999 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-15/99 page.
Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.
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