DoomwatchTM vs. Timesizing®

Collapse trends - July 16-31, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Philip Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080 - HOMEPAGE

7/31/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. United Nations - Annan warns of world crisis, by Felicity Barringer, NYT, A14.
    [Here's an item that an alert and competent NY Times would put on the front page instead of today's crap about "Big and fancy, more pickups displace cars," or "North Dakota town's payoff for hard lives is long life," or "In Najaf, justice can be blind but not female."]
    Secretary General Kofi Annan called publicly today for a rethinking of the international institutions that were largely sidelined during the Iraq "war" [actually, violent takeover (our quotes)]. "Many of us sense that we are living through a crisis of the international system," he said....
    [- a crisis once again precipitated by the jerky on&off idealism and corruption of the increasingly unstable U.S. political system, euphemistically called "democratic" but now, stiflingly, and stupidly, plutocratic. Big previous example was when idealist Woodrow Wilson inspired the League of Nations and then orphaned it by his lack of sufficient flexibility and generosity to get US membership approved by the US Senate (see Thomas A. Wilson, "Woodrow Wilson and the Great Betrayal").] Suggesting that some world leaders at the coming General Assembly should set aside time for basic discussions on these issues, he said, "if we are going to make preventive action, or war, part of our response to these new threats, what are the rules?"
    [The real question is, if the government of a large member nation is taken over by an insane but of course, self-righteous, cadre of businessmen, or anyone else, and wants to go around grabbing resources under the cloak of "preventive action" against "evil" regimes, how do we get the entire rest of the world to move into war alert to stop them? Similar to the way the ACLU goes to bat for freedom of speech even if it's the Ku Klux Klan that's getting gagged.]
    "Who decides?" he added. "Under what circmstances? Did what happened in Iraq constitute an exception?
    [Absolutely not, and every one of the U.S. administration should be tried as war criminals, or failing that action on the part of internal American press and opposition, the U.S. should encysted by global trade sanctions for this outrage to international standards of behavior.]
    ..\.."Did what happened in Iraq constitute...a precedent others can exploit?
    [Sure, if we want to go back 65 years to "might is right" and a mad war-racked world of clashing international brigands.]
    "What are the rules?"
    In effect, three months after pResident Bush warned that the United Nations might become irrelevant [especially to a pack of thieves like him & Cheney & Rummy], the Secretary General turned a traditional midsummer news conference into a stump speech on the value of international institutions in general and the United Nations in particular.
    [The U.N. is yet another international government that the pathologically erratic U.S. has thought up and then dumped. The U.S. political system is falling lightyears behind the times compared to what's now technologically possible and actually implemented in nations like Switzerland. US politics are corrupt as hell, the elections system is riddled with rot and corruption, and the once-great USA has been interviewing evermore energetically for role of Evil Empire vacated only 14 years ago by the USSR.]
    At one point, recalling the bitter dismissals of the U.N. last winter, he said..."I did warn those who were bashing the U.N. that they had to be careful because they may need the U.N. soon."...
    [And regardless of Bush's recent pathetic attempts to entangle other nations in the blank check of Iraq "reconstruction" (alias looting) costs (as in "we break 'em, YOU mend 'em") -]
    There has been no indication from the United States-led occupation in Iraq that it is considering ceding political of military control.
    [No, that would endanger the profits of Halliburton (see "Halliburton turns to a profit, aided by U.S.'s Iraq jobs," by Russell Gold, 8/01/2003 WSJ, B5) and Bechtel (see "Bechtel Group," by Jackie Calmes, 8/01/2003 WSJ, A4, which continues, "...lead contractor on Iraq's infrastructure, now figures the price is at least $16B - more than 23 times the $680m the U.S. [taxpayer!] is so far contributing,") and Cheney, and derivative contributions to Bush's re-election. Compare -]
    pResident denies he oversold case for war with Iraq - Says arms will be found [yeah, if he has to plant them himself!] - But he 'takes responsibility' for shaky claim in January on Iraqi nuclear plans, by Richard Stevenson, NYT, front page.
    [He hasn't 'taken responsibility' until the NYT headline blares, "Bush lied!" and the SOB resigns.]

  2. Deflation spurs Fed to talk more, but with no uptick in clarity, by David Wessel, WSJ, A2.
    [The Fed can do nothing about deflation anyway, once it's superficial remedy for inflation (subsidize the wealthy with higher interest rates) succeeds so well that wealth concentrates enough to start suctioning the markets away from the productivity itself wishes to invest in. The real remedy is to centrifuge the national income with unemployment-controlled, workweek-fluctuating worksharing. Taxcuts for the wealthy will 'cure' only by worsening the $$$concentration so much so fast that even Republicans will wake up.]

  3. Weak earnings dent optimism in Japan, by Ken Belson, NYT, W1.
    [& they're demo'ing our future. Here's the microscopic Journal version -]
    World watch - ...Briefly:, newssquib, WSJ, A14.
    TOKYO - Cautious optimism about Japan's economy was dealt a blow by fresh data showing that industrial production slumped a seasonally adjusted 1.2% in June from May, likely due to lackluster demand for Japan's exports.
    [Japan had better centrifuge its national income via timesizing and rebuild its domestic consumer base, cuz for more and more economies, exports are extinct as a recession escape-route.]

7/30/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell - 7/26-28/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. 7/28   Red ink in states beginning to hurt economic recovery - Spending down, taxes up - Troubles, notably in California, are holding back growth nationally, experts say, by Louis Uchitelle, NYT, front page.
    [And that red ink didn't get there by magic. It's the result of federal cuts on one hand and unfunded federal mandates on the other. Wanna sabotage America better than Osama? Vote Republican in 2004!]

  2. 7/28   Workers' comp crisis, editorial, WSJ, A10.
    ...Nationwide, the average cost of workers' comp insurance has risen 50% in the past 3 years....
    [Step One to permanent disability.]
    Governors in Florida, West Virginia and Washington have called special legislative sessions to try to find ways to contain costs. Businesses, which pay the claims, have been hit so hard that many are laying off workers and curtailing investment, further dragging down the economy.
    Much of the workers' comp problem is wrapped up with the bigger failings of the healthcare 'system' [our quotes]. As medical costs soar, so do workers' comp payments.
    But the record shows that some states are mitigating the problem with smart reforms.... Connecticutt's first step was to introduce a managed care-type system to help rein in excessive medical spending; the focus is on providing treatment more quickly and channeling workers toward doctors who are committed to getting the employee back on the job as soon as possible. It dealt with legal problems by increasing the number of administrative judges to hear appeals and beefing up an informal arbitration system that allows workers and employers to sit down with a judge without lawyers. By one estimate, 90% of all appealed claims are today settled at this level.
    Workers' comp in Connecticut still isn't cheap. Even after reform, it remains a high-benefit state, which makes premiums pricier than in some other locales. But compared with states that also offer high payouts, Connecticut employers pay less for the same level of coverage thanks to the reforms....

  3. [and then there's the drivelling clowns at the top - "What, me, worry? -]
    7/28   Wealthy Americans growing more bullish on the economy, by Lynn Cowan, WSJ, A2.
    [Synopsis from pointer on front page -]
    A survey shows wealthy Americans are increasingly optimistic about the future.
    [You believe what you want to believe - and with little reality checking or feedback due to their ability to completely insulate themselves from any negative consequences of their decisions, they're free to believe any amount of happytalk. And like wealthy, like puppet -]
    7/28   Andrew Card is quiet enforcer at White House - Chief of Staff's tight rein on information insulates Bush, but could isolate him too much, by Jeanne Cummings, WSJ, A4.
    [Nooo kidding. Re loss of reality checking and real feedback in America, check out the Doonesbury cartoon script this Sunday, 7/27/2003.]

  4. 7/28   Federal loophole commission? pointer summary (to B1), WSJ, front page.
    [We luvvit when even the WS Journal comes out for regulation -]
    The FCC, trying to tighten radio-ownership rules [ha!], merely may have given Clear Channel a boost. Another rule makes it easier for broadcasters to dominate small markets.
    [The indicated article's headline -]
    7/28   FCC's new loopholes - Changes in radio rules mean Clear Channel can stay big - And in some places expand, by Anna Wilde Mathews, WSJ, B1.
    [Compare the other F*C -]
    7/28   Fresh hope for fat cats, editorial, NYT, A20.
    The pathetic record of the FEC as the designated watchdog against the ravages of big-money politics is only growing worse. Scott Thomas, the stand-out commissioner...who wants to clamp down on abuses, is to be removed in a stunning decision by the leaders of his own 'Democratic' Party [our quotes] to be replaced by Robert Lenhard, a lawyer...who was part of the effort to block..\..McCain-Feingold....
    [And Lenhard is a lawyer for the self-hobbling labor movement! These two F*C*ng agencies are turning into FeCes.]

  5. 7/26   Classified section of Sept. 11 report faults Saudi rulers, by David Johnston, NYT, front page.
    WASHINGTON... - Senior officials of Saudi Arabia have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable groups and other organizations that may have helped finance the 9/11 attacks, a still-classified section of a Congressional report on the hijackings says, according to people who have read it.
    [Oh what a surprise.]
    The 28-page section of the report was deleted from the nearly 900-page declassified version released on Thursday by a joint committee of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees....
    [So (1) the Bush administration totally misfired with their Iraq aggression (except from Cheney's and Halliburton's oily viewpoint) and (2) could this explain why, with all this oil money, the Saudis are still crying poor? Note also the consequentially magnified stupidity of Koizumi -]
    7/28   Tokyo approves plan to deploy troops to Iraq, by Sebastian Moffett, WSJ, A10.
    [or the Times version -]
    7/28   Japan [ie: PM Koizumi] courts a public wary of sending its troops to Iraq, by James Brooke, NYT, A6.
    ...Japanese public support for the war has never been in the majority, and with American soldiers dying nearly daily in Iraq, it has fallen over the past two months....
    [Wrong time, wrong place for Japan to emerge from pacificism. Let's see if Japan has what it takes for a vote of no-confidence and a sacking of its prime minister. Koizumi lacks popular support but has an louzy economy to distract people from, just like Tony Blair -]
    7/26   Britain: Slow economic growth, by Heather Timmons, NYT, B3.
    ...The country's GDP increase 0.3% in Q2, up from a rate of 0.1% in Q1, the National Statistics Office said in a preliminary report....
    [Both with margins of error extending into the negative and considering the points the GDP definition gives for negative variables, like prison construction and medical care of crime victims, etc., negative is where they should be.]

  6. 7/28   Totaling up the bill for spam - Wasted time, computer and human, is only part of the cost, by Saul Hansell, NYT, C1.
    ...America Online...estimates that 80% of its e-mail is spam. [photo caption]
    ...Indiana 2000...spent $1.2m on a network of 9 computers to process [e]mail for 115,000 students, faculty members and researchers.... It had expected the system to last at least through 2003, but the volume of mail [mostly spam] is growing so fast, [it] will need to buy more computers this year instead, at a cost of $300,000. ...Spam...accounts for nearly 45% [way conservative!] of the 3m email messages the university receives each day.
    Unwanted commercial email, or spam, has become the bane of the Internet because it is so cheap and easy to send that all sorts of companies and individuals do so, prodigiously. Spammers these days pay as little as 0.025 cent to send an email message. The computing costs for the recipients, or their ISPs, to process each message are similarly tiny. But with billions of spam messages sent each day, all these fractions of cents start to add up to real money. Even greater are the costs of trying to block spam, catch spammers and undo the damage they cause to recipients. [How to] gaug[e] the cost of tiny bits of computer power and the value of many moments of wasted time, multiplied by millions of email users[?] ...Said Rebecca Wettemann, research director of Nucleus, "The average worker receives 13.3 spams a day, which takes 6½ minutes to process. Do the math and that comes out to 1.4% of their productive time."...

  7. 7/27   Facing their demons - Firms intentionally use poor service, other direct methods to weed out profit-zapping customers, by Bruce Mohl, Boston Globe, F1.
    When a customer is put on hold a long time, given snail-like service, or offered less attractive prices, at most companies it's inadvertent. But at a growing number of firms, it may be deliberate.
    That's right. Companies are using poor service as a behavior modification tool to transform an unprofitable customer into either a profitable customer or a former customer....

  8. 7/28   Mexico's joblessness spurs policy shift by Fox, AP via WSJ, A9.
    MEXICO CITY - ...Mexico reported its highest monthly unemployment rate since the president [Fox] took office more than two years ago.... Mexico's unemployment rate among the economically active population [huh?] increased to 3.2% in June, up from 2.7% in May.
    [Doesn't sound that bad but...]
    The economically active population includes about 40m of Mexico's 104m residents who work part-time because Mexicans who work at least one hour a day are considered employed..\..
    [So this is an even more rosied-up unemployment rate than ours or South Korea's, not only because one hour a day gets you excluded from the unemployment category, but because 40/104 means that only 38.46% of the total population is "economically active" instead, presumably, of pre-economically subsisting.]
    Distancing himself from so-called neoliberal policies - which in general emphasize the reduction of government regulation and the privatization of state enterprises - President Fox said his administration has protected family resources by controlling inflation and [lowering?!] interest rates.
    [But these two sets of policies are not mutually exclusive.]
    The president said recent job losses were mainly at manufacturing and assembly plants and mostly among large businesses. He said construction jobs [however] have increased because of public works projects [ohoh] and increases in home construction spurred by more accessible credit.... Fox announced Wednesday the allocation of $10m to train and assist the unemployed and said new tax and financing measures were planned.

  9. 7/26   Revised estimates of whale population, by Jose Ramirez, NYT, A10.
    Whale populations before the advent of commercial whaling have been vastly underestimated, a study by geneticists from Stanford and Harvard finds. The global humpback whale population, previously thought to have been 100,000, could have been as high as 1.5 million, the geneticists said in the journal Science after having examined genetic variations.
    [Could this be a reason why whales beach themselves in apparent suicide? They're numbers are waaay down, and maybe they have a genetic sense of loss, or a communicated sense of loss if we eventually find out that their signalling system has actually elaborated into a language that can handle memories.]
    The findings could hamper efforts to lift the 17-year ban on commercial whaling by the International Whaling Commission, which has suggested that it would allow the resumption of commercial hunting after the whale population had reached more than half its historic numbers.

7/25/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. 9/11 report describes test runs, by Bryan Bender, Boston Globe, front page.
    WASHINGTON - On June 28, 2001, Mohamed Atta boarded a flight from Boston's Logan International Airport to San Francisco. Four days later - after stops in Las Vegas and Denver - he landed back at Logan. The trip was one of at least five practice runs from Logan and other airports for the deadliest terrorist attack in American history, a mission that cost less than $250,000 to finance. The test flights and financial information are detailed in the 850-page report released yesterday as a joint inquiry by the House & Senate Intelligence committee detailing the events leading up to 9/11/01....

  2. Noble act or political assassination?, op ed by Derrick Jackson, Boston Globe, A23.
    Under abstract notions of war, our killing of Saddam Hussein's sons was acceptable.... pResident Bush said that this day reaffirmed that American soldiers are "serving a cause that is noble and just and vital to the security of the United States."
    All this forgets the ignoble fact that this unprecedented first-strike war sold by Bush to Americans under the so-far phantom threat of Iraq's biological and nuclear weapons. Bush was so hungry for this war that he continues to twist the truth or lie before our eyes....
    This is too much to leave to the abstract. With the stated foundation for a just war lying in ruins, the killings of the sons looks more like a zealous political assassination than a noble act.
    In 1976, President Ford issued an executive order banning assassinations. This was after the CIA was exposed and embarrassed by schemes to kill world leaders in developing countries....
    The ground force commander, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, was asked by two reporters similar questions Wednesday [7/23] if the operation was indeed professional.... The second reporter said, "The Americans are specialists in surrounding places, keeping people in them, holding up for a week if necessary, to make them surrender. These guys only had, it appears, AK-47s, and you had immense amount of firepower. Surely the possibility of the immense amount of information they could have given coalition forces, not to mention the trials that they could have been put on for war crimes, held out a much greater possibility of victory for you if you could have surrounded that house and just sat there until they came out, even if they were prepared to keep shooting."
    Sanchez said, "Sir, that is speculation." The reporter said, "No sir, it's an operational question. Surely you must have considered this more seriously than you suggested." Sanchez said, "Yes, it was considered, and we chose the course of action that we took."
    The reporter asked, "Why, sir?" Sanchez said, "Next slide - or next question please?"
    Once again, America, right or not, answers to no one.

  3. Greenpeace warns of pollutants from nanotechnology, by Antonio Regalado, WSJ, B1.

7/24/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Council faults media's coverage of government, by *Mark Jurkowitz, Boston Globe, D3.
    Media coverage of the federal government is growing increasingly scarce, and what news there is isn't very uplifting, according to a survey released yesterday by the Council for Excellence in Government....
    The study examined almost 30,000 stories from a sample that included the The stories were aired or published during
    1. the first year of Ronald Reagan's administration (1981),
    2. Bill Clinton's presidency (1993),
    3. and George W. Bush's term (2001).
    During that period, the number of stories about the federal government dropped Although 9/11 reversed the trend of news erosion, it did so only for coverage of the executive branch of the government. And the nation's leadership is not portrayed in a very positive light. The survey found that negative coverage of the three administrations outnumbered flattering stories by a 2-1 margin..\.. "In terms of new about government, [people] are getting twice as much negative news as positive news," said Patricia McGinnis, president and CEO of the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on improving government performance. "I think people are turned off by government. I think they're turned off by the media and they're connected."...
    One bit of good news for the media was the finding that the use of anonymous sources - a practice that can breed public distrust - has been decreasing in newspaper and TV newscasts. But the level of opinion and analysis creeping into TV coverage of government jumped by a whopping 138% from 1981 to 2001.
    [Personally, we'd rather have more coverage even with anonymous sources than less coverage with much more gratuitous attributed spin.]
    One other result likely to raise eyebrows is that the Clinton administration received more favorable overall coverage than the Bush and Reagan presidencies. While the study was careful not to label this as liberal bias, McGinnis said, "We are just looking at three snapshots [but] we did see a couple of interesting patterns there."

  2. [so people are turned off gov't, & here's more reason why -]
    Congress's Sept. 11 report, pointer blurb (to A4), WSJ, front page. riddled with deletions [eg: some 27 pages have been completely censored], people who have seen it said, and its release today is likely to spur debate over whether the White House imposed such secrecy for political reasons.
    [and the indicated article -]
    Terror-report gaps may add to Bush woes - White House cites intelligence rationale for omissions [ah, deletions are a little different from omissions!], but critics suggest political motives, by Glenn Simpson & David Rogers & Scot Paltrow, WSJ, A4.
    [The stink rises higher and higher. Remember, this is in the Wall Street Journal, whose editors are braindead Bush robopaths.]
    A Congressional intelligence report on 9/11/01 to be unveiled today runs to about 900 pages, but the biggest news may be what isn't found between its pages. Numerous deletions were made at the White House's insistence for ostensible intelligence reasons, several people who have seen the report said, and some of the holes raise questions about whether the secrecy sanctions were used to shield administration officials and Saudi Arabia, a longtime ally, from criticism.
    ...Key pieces of the narrative are missing....
    [Boiling up from all this Cheney paranoia is the possibility of a little Cheney advance planning, involving his buddies among the Saudis, who mysteriously are always short of money despite sitting on oilfields. "Say, guys, could you do a little more to the Trade Center - just to raise a cry for a big 'defense' allocation for Halliburton and Bechtel and us. {(They didn't mean for the twin towers to actually collapse!}} Don't worry about exposure - we'll pin the whole thing on Saddam and cry 'security reasons' anytime anybody asks too many questions." There were sooo many missed opportunities on the part of the FBI and the CIA, and the fact that two of the hijackers whom the FBI photographed at a terrorist summit in Southeast Asia. The Minneapolis agents' info on Moussali. The Phoenix memo "Hey all these Al Qaeda guys here taking flight training." All this in July and August, 2001. The White House meeting that discussed Al Qaeda in detail in early August. No followup. A pattern of No Followup. Not far to imagine a pattern of discouraged followup. 28 pages blanked for "security reasons." The stink is overpowering. Cheney & his goons set this whole thing up. We didn't quite get the full significance of it at the time, but Maureen Dowd had a wonderful parody of the Congressional 9/11 report yesterday, that was extremely on the mark -]
    Weapons of mass redaction - To Riyadh [capital? of Saudi Arabia], with love, op ed by Maureen Dowd, 7/23/2003 NYT, A21.
    [Here's the flavor of it -]
    This correspondence from the Office of the Vice President to the XXXXX XXXXXX ambassador to the U.S. was redacted by the Office of the Vice President for national and electoral security reasons:
    Dear Prince XXXXX bin XXXXXX,
    Thank you, my friend for the falcon.... We are pumped up about the double rub-out of the Hussein boys. We really needed that win.... And the timing will help cover your royal XXX too. When the 9/11 committee report comes out tomorrow, I think you will be well satisfied with our efforts to keep you guys out of it....
    [Kinda makes you wonder if they really did snuff the Hussein boys - the timing was a little too good, and now we're getting all this B.S. about "Army is reluctant to flaunt photos of Hussein's sons [despite] skepticism among Iraqis - Grisly images could confirm deaths, but general fears appearance of gloating," by MacFarquhar & Banerjee, NYT, front page - as if the White House didn't gloat to the extent of another victory dance over this!]
    We didn't let a thing slip on our private energy meetings where we took care of our mutual friends in the XXX industry.... We've classified the entire section of the 9/11 report that deals with the XXXXX family's support of charitable groups that benefit terrorists, including mentions of your wife's checks inexplicably winding up in the bank accounts of two of the hijackers.... We're not even letting Bob Graham mention the name of your country. We threatened to throw him in the federal slammer if he calls XXXXX XXXXXX anything but "a foreign government."...
    [Two words, "Impeach now."]

  3. want more? - and from the Wall Street Journal, believe it or not?!]
    A fiscal nightmare, by Albert Hunt, WSJ, A15.
    [Seems like our boy in Boston, Jeff Jacoby, opened the floodgates!]
    ...The Bush fiscal blueprint - highlighted by huge tax cuts chiefly going to the wealthiest Americans that have turned surpluses into red ink with no end in sight - will force one of two alternatives:
    1. soaring deficits, accelerating when the baby boomers retire,
    2. or draconian cuts in entitlements or domestic spending programs for education, health care or law enforcement. [or all the above?]
    Just as the White House selectively stressed convenient intelligence to build political support for a war in Iraq, so has it manipulated and misrepresented a dismal record on the economy. The Bush political strategists figure these twin towers of duplicity can be finessed at least until after the pResident's reelection in 15 months [our mixed caps]. And the budget shortfall creates political and policy problems for the Democrats; there simply isn't much money for new initiatives.
    [Whoah - such trenchant commonsense in the Journal's op ed page?! And there's more -]
    Sensible alternatives, such as presidential candidate Bob Graham's proposal this week to restore fiscal sanity by eliminating some of the scheduled tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, are attacked as general tax increases; this would bring the top rates basically to where they were during the Clinton boom.
    Former House GOP leader Dick Armey, now co-chair of the inappropriately named Citizens for a Sound Economy, charges this would cause "economic stagnation." This is the same Dick Armey, hailed by the right as a former economics professor, who 10 years ago claimed the Clinton tax increases on the rich would be a "job killer."
    The reality: The unemployment rate dropped to 6% from 7.6% in the year after those tax hikes were enacted, and 25 million more private-sector jobs were added to the economy over the next 7 years.
    [Wow, conservative heresy! This guy's saying tax hikes add jobs, not tax cuts!]
    The administration and its political supporters engage in the same contortions, or distortions, when rationalizing how these huge surpluses turned into deficits of $455 billion this year and $475 billion next year.
    Initially, the pResident declared that during the campaign he had warned there would be budget shortfalls if there was a recession, war or national emergency and we got a "trifecta." Then the New Republic and NBC's Tim Russert revealed that was pure fiction, candidate Bush never said anything of the sort, although Democratic candidate Al Gore did.
    Sometimes the blame is pinned on the "Clinton" recession, although the economic downturn didn't begin until after Bush took office.
    The one factor the Bush crowd refuses to acknowledge is the effect of the big tax cuts. House Budget Chairman Jim Nussle last week declared, "tax cuts don't cause deficits." But Congressional Budget Office figures show that tax cuts, enacted in the Bush administration, are a major cause of the $930B [455+475] projected deficits over the next 2 years. These tax cuts will cost almost 3 times as much as the combined costs of Iraq and Afghanistan, including the occupation, and the added homeland security and antiterrorist measures. As these big tax cuts explode in subsequent years, they will further exacerbate the deficit.
    The administration's future fiscal projections are as dubious as their explanations of how it happened....

  4. Brazil gets a rate cut - and bad jobless news, by Andrea Welsh, Dow Jones via WSJ, A12.
    ...Brazil's unemployment rate climbed to 13% last month \June -\ its highest level in at least 20 months.
    [Cut the superficialities and implement fluctuating adjustment of the workweek to spread the vanishing work. Superficialities such as -]
    ..\..A 1.5-point interest rate cut [left] the base rate still set at 24.5%....

7/23/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Mall vacancies climb, pointer blurb (to B6), WSJ, B1.
    [and indicated -]
    Retail vacancies rise to 5.7% [in Q2 from 5.5], by Ryan Chittum, WSJ, B6.
    ...The sturdiest pillar of the real-estate economy showed surprising signs of weakening in Q2, though rents continued to rise....

  2. and why? - cuz investors still regard layoffs as good -]
    Germany's slow train to liberalization - Support for rail subsidies shows entitlement culture will be tough to challenge, by Matthew Karnitschnig, WSJ, A12.
    ...Deutsche Bahn AG...has never laid off anyone....
    ["How terrible!" say the Journal and many investors. Isn't it strange that this conservative strategy is bashed by this conservative newspaper, while it roots for more liberalization!?!]

  3. Credit-card issuers raise late fees - Banks also cut the time for sending payments, making charges more likely, by Zachery Kouwe, WSJ, D2.
    [Pretty soon they'll give the Post Office about an hour to get the statement to you. Time for a consumer class-action lawsuit!].

  4. Africa will add, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
    ...more than one billion people by 2050, the Population Reference Bureau said. The U.S. population is projected to be 422 million.
    [Hey, isn't this what "Limits to Growth" said back in 1971?!]

7/22/2003  surfin' them headlines from hell -
  1. Corporate reform: The first year - Wall Street plays numbers game with earnings, despite reforms, by Ken Brown, WSJ, front page.
    Despite the bursting of the stock-market bubble, the discrediting of analysts' research and exposure of a slew of accounting tricks that companies use to make their financial figures look better, the earnings-management game is alive and well on Wall Street. "I don't believe there's been a change" since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act last year and other reforms, said Lawrence Brown, an accounting professor at Georgia State University, who has been studying the way companies present their earnings for 25 years....
    [Followup -]
    Where is that flood of lawsuits? by Kara Scannell, 7/24/2003 WSJ, C7.

  2. Who's unpatriotic now? - Cooked books and national security, op ed by Paul Krugman, NYT, A23.
    But as the bad news comes in, those who promoted this war have responded with a concerted effort to smear the messengers.
    ...The invasion of a country that hadn't attacked us and didn't pose an imminent threat has seriously weakened our military position. Of the Army's 33 combat brigades, 16 are in Iraq; normal doctrine calls for only one brigade in three to be deployed abroad, while the other two retrain and refit..\.. This leaves us ill prepared to cope with genuine threats [and means that] the Army's readiness is eroding....
    And the war will have devastating effects on future recruiting by the reserves.... A sign in the windshield of a military truck [in Iraq] reads, "One weekend a month, my ass."
    To top it all off, our insistence on launching a war without U.N. approval has deprived us of useful allies....
    [Yeah, we've gained 'allies' like Romania.]
    ...Instead of explaining what happened to the [Saddam-]Al Qaeda link and the [Iraqi] nuclear program, in the last few days a series of hawk[s] have accused those who ask such questions of aiding the enemy.... Well, if we're going to talk about aiding the enemy: by cooking intelligence to promote a [draining] war that wasn't urgent, the administration has squandered our military strength. This provides a lot of aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden - who really did attack America [and is still alive and free] - and Kim Jong Il - who really is building nukes [and whom Bush has just taken a softer tone with! - see today "pResident takes a softer stance on North Korea," by David Sanger, NYT, front page]....
    [An administration from hell, and a heartland full of loud but naive talkshow hosts for whom Bush-Cheney Inc. can do no wrong, even as 'the bad news comes in' .... "Cry the beloved country!"   At least Derek Jacoby essayed some heresy on the budget yesterday (see story below).]

7/20/2003  surfin' them weekend headlines from hell - 7/18/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. Allure of Europe is drawing students [away from the U.S.  B-schools], by Tony Smith, NYT, W1.
    ...worrisome for all but the most elite business schools in the U.S....
    [or based on our B-schools suicidal preference for downsizing over timesizing, maybe this is a 'headline from heaven'?!]

  2. 'Recession' [our quotes] is over; Jobs aren't trickling down - Perversely, [rising] worker productivity limits the rate of growth, by Daniel Altman, NYT, C1 & C6.
    ["Methinks the lady doth protest too much."]
    The recession that began in March 2001 ended 8 months later [Nov], the National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER], an independent group that tracks the business cycle, concluded in a report released yesterday. Cheers, if any, were faint. Economists said the announcement...offered little comfort to the millions of Americans without jobs [not to mention the thousands of companies without markets].... In its report, the committee cited the real GDP - the value of all goods and services in the economy, adjusted for changes in prices - as the [defining] indicator..\..
    [Perhaps it's time the NBER got themselves a more meaningful definition of 'recession.' With their current definition, they'd be declaring 'Recession Over' all through the Great Depression. Compare current attempts to 'rosy up' bankrupt-pension accounting, 7/18/2003 #1.]
    "We've declared victory over the recession, and we're still laying off a couple hundred thousand workers a month," said Rep. Pete Stark of Calif., ranking Democrat on the Joint Economic Committee. "If it weren't so painful for so many people who are out of work [and so many businesses that are out of markets!], it would be hilarious...." The recession preceding the present one lasted from July 1990 to March 1991 in the bureau's chronology. A year after it ended, the nation's economy embarked on six consecutive months of job growth. This time, 20 months after the recession's formal 'end', payrolls are still shrinking [and so, naturally but strenuously deniedly, are corporate markets and revenues]....
    The 2001 recession is considered short and shallow relative to the nine others since World War II, which averaged 11 months....
    Jobs have not followed growth, the committee wrote, because of increases in workers' productivity.
    [Last year, shorter hourser Tom Walker of British Columbia suggested holding a contest with a prize for anyone who could prove that the Lump of Labor Fallacy was itself false. Tom, this statement from the National Bureau of Economic Research, quoted in New York Times today, 7/17/2003, p.C6, is as close as we're going to get to that proof. The "Lump of Labor Fallacy," actually a misnomer for "Fixed-Aggregate-of-Employment Theory," ridicules the shorter-hours-advocating work-spreading or work-sharing approach for believing the 'ludicrous' idea that the amount of employment is finite, conveniently substituting an unstated indefinite-term frame of reference for shorter-hours advocates' stated immediate-term frame of reference. And at the present time, as the beginning of this article notes, the amount of employment is not only finite or fixed, but shrinking.]
    ..\..Said Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Banc of America Capital Management...the unemployment rate is unlikely to fall until [GDP growth reaches] 3½-4%, the sort of pace attained in only two [of the six] quarters since the recovery supposedly began.
    [And for once, we didn't have to insert the "supposedly"! And bear in mind, the GDP is still an extremely inflated, pollyanna-doctored, cheerleader-cooked excuse for an economic indicator, sort of like our current rose-colored excuse for an "unemployment rate."]
    ...Recessions have often been followed by strong recoveries as pent-up demand, especially for [urgently demanded] manufactured goods, helped to engender a sort of economic slingshot [doesn't work - try bow-release] effect. But in an economy where two thirds [67%, roughly the same as the GDP share contributed by consumer markets] of activity is in [casually demanded] services, the usual boost has not been forthcoming.
    [The critical but usually ignored distinction between urgently and casually demanded goods and services was used by Arthur Dahlberg in "Jobs, Machines and Capitalism" (1932).]
    James Glassman, a senior U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan Chase, said the economy had been largely stagnant because of a series of shocks, including the bursting of the stock market bubble.
    [Curiously, mainstream economic "scientists" of our day are still dependent for their most important explanations on uncontrolled and unpredictable acts of God for which they cannot be expected to account (and for which they do not expect to be blamed). They are still completely ignoring (or ridiculing, see above) the long-term non-cyclical employment-displacement effects of the mounting work-savings of constantly advancing technology, when taken in terms of downsizing (workforce cuts) instead of timesizing (workweek cuts). The closest we get to acknowledge is the one sentence highlighted above mentions the concept, but the article immediately drops it like a hot potato, even though it's referred to in the inside subhead (C6). As Floyd Norris, in a different context, put it today ( 7/17/2003 #1), "What should be done when an important sector of the American economy [or an important economic dogma!] has severe problems?... Look for an accounting gimmick {e.g., a rose-tinted 'GDP'} to obscure the reality,.\..avoid admitting the problems and hope that time will make everything better {aka 'heal all wounds'}." Even the economist who accept long-term non-cyclical explanation are focused on the symptoms, not the disease -]
    ...Some economists remain skeptical of the economy's ability to grow at a strong pace [because] its tepid performance stems not just from shocks but also from structural factors, like the vast amounts of debt carried by consumers and businesses. If the savings rate increases to help cover those debts, both groups will offer less support to the economy in the near term....
    [Check out the neighboring (inside-page) article -]
    Mixed data in 2 reports, Reuters via NYT, C6.
    ...Housing starts rose 3.7% in June, to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.803m...the strongest since 1.828m in January. \But\ initial claims for jobless benefits, [although reduced] to 412,000 in the week ended July 12 from a revised 441,000 the week before, [still] represented the 22nd consecutive week that benefits claims have been above the [watershed] 400,000 level.
    [Suggestion to the plutocrats - a quick Prozacky campaign to raise the watershed level to 425,000, 450,000 or what the heck, 500,000!]
    ..\..The national unemployment rate [is still an officially admitted] 6.4%....
    [And note the almost skeptical "I think I can" headline on the Journal's version of the Times recession article -]
    Despite job losses, the recession is finally declared over, by Jon Hilsenrath, WSJ, front page.

  3. The Senate passed, news blurb, WSJ, front page.
    ...a $368.6 billion defense bill 95-0 as Republicans beat back efforts to force a report on pre-war intelligence....
    [Dave Barry's definition of the U.S. Senate, "White, male millionaires working for yooou." And what's this third of a trillion going to get, besides mongo oil money for Halliburton, Cheney and pals? -]
    Pentagon consultants warn U.S. must act fast to avoid Iraq chaos, by Neil King Jr., WSJ, A4.
    [Chaos is lookin' better and better.]

  4. [and speaking of white, male millionaires working for us in the Senate -]
    House of Unrepresentatives, ed page column by Dick Morris, WSJ, A8.
    ...A series of bipartisan deals during the reapportionment of Congress following the 2000 census has effectively taken away our ability to elect or to change the House of Representatives. The effect has been to give congressmen of both parties lifetime tenure rivaled only by Supreme Court Justices.... A grand total of four House members lost their seats to challengers from the other party in the 2002 elections [never mind the other party, either one, still just represents wealthy contributors]. That's less than 1% of the House. While states are passing term limits, Congress is engineering [eg: through gerrymandering] lifetime tenure.... As a result of these shenanigans, only about 20 of the 435 seats in Congress are actually in play in a typical election year.   95% of the incumbents are safe and therefore, 95% of the voters are effectively disenfranchised.
    Meanwhile the institutional arrogance of these tenured politicians can grow un[constrained] by...electoral fortune. So even as the U.S. becomes more evenly divided between the parties than ever before, a seat in the House of Representatives is as secure as any civil-service job. The only reason U.S. Senate seats stayed competitive is that the politicians cannot gerrymander state lines....
    [We are watching in our own lifetimes a great nation losing its feedback function and accelerating its own decline.]

7/17/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. U.S. commander in Iraq says yearlong tours are option to combat 'guerilla' war - A shift in tactics - G.I.'s could be ordered to double their stays to pacify the area, by Thom Shanker, NYT, front page.
    [We tooold you so. And note how it's changed from "bringing democracy" to "pacification." Wasn't that exactly what Saddam was always doing? So what's the diff, except all the blood on our hands, much of it our own, plus all the money no longer in our pockets, plus all the new money in Cheney's and Halliburton Corp's pockets? Compare -]
    G.I. killed and 6 are wounded in stepped-up attacks, by Richard Oppel Jr., NYT, A8.
    [Compare -]
    Senate Republicans defeated a bid, pointer summary (to A4), WSJ, front page. force Bush to disclose war-cost estimates....
    [Bush administration unaccountability is exceeded only by its secrecy and irresponsibility. We can't even find out how deep his and Cheney's fat grasping fingers are into our pockets via this blank check on our taxes that they've written themselves. At least, at last, some of the Democrats are shaking off the sleepies -]
    Democrats zero in on Bush's Iraq claim - [Democrats'] Fund-raising drive for critical ad is under way as Republicans scramble to close ranks, by Jeanne Cummings, WSJ, A4.
    [Ad photo #1 reads, "In his State of the Union address, George W. Bush told us of an imminent threat..."
    Ad photo #2 reads, "But now we find out that it wasn't true..." above the relevant NYT frontpage headline, see 7/08/2003 #2 below, simplified to "White House says Iraq claim was flawed." Of course, they're still not screaming for IMPEACHMENT, as the Republicans would have been doing for months now it the parties were reversed. But believe it or not, even some of Bush's faithful are now starting to wake up -]
    In Ohio, Iraq questions shake even some of Bush's faithful, by James Dao, NYT, front page.

  2. [anybody remember 9/11/01?]
    Don't sacrifice security during political games, letter to editor by Beverly Eckert of Stamford CT, WSJ, A17.
    My husband, Sean Rooney, was killed on 9/11. I'm deeply disturbed by the allegations in your July 10 editorial "9/11 Mischief" [Wall Street Journal editorials are always robotically, blindly pro-Bush], which accuses the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks of 9/11 of exaggerating the lack of cooperation of government agencies. You fail to mention that the commission's need for accelerated cooperation is because of a fast-approaching deadline that was mandated by the Bush administration itself.
    Your editorial asks, "What's the rush?" and says it might be better to wait until after the elections to release the report.
    [Wouldn't the Bushies love that?!]
    This frightening suggestion implies the American public should be deprived of important facts about their government when considering the various candidates' platforms. Not to mention that delaying the report means the commission's recommendations for reform would also be delayed.
    Is the game of politics really more important than our national security? That's the kind of mindset that led to 9/11. It's inexcusable that 3,000 innocent civilians lost their lives that day. Not one agency or individual in our government has voluntarily accepted accountability for their failure to meet their fundamental obligation of protecting the lives of its citizenry.
    We need this commission, whose members are equally balanced by Republicans and Democrats.
    [but not equally balanced by rich and poor....]
    Rather than cast aspersions before seeing their work product, every American should be giving wholehearted support to this commission's efforts. Another 9/11 awaits us if we don't.
    [Yep, anytime Cheney wants to dig his meathooks into another nation's resources. Just like Churchill cleared the path for the U-boat to sink the Lusitania (carrying officially denied weapons) in 1916 to get the U.S. into the war (with attendant missing pages in the Admiralty log), and persuaded FDR to clear the path for the Pearl Harbor attack 25 years later. So actually, maybe the Journal's editorial-cartoon comparison of Blair with Churchill isn't so far off after all.]

  3. [more Bush double standards - "you can have any kind of democracy as long as it's MY WAY" - ]
    U.S. stand is headache for ally in Colombia - Washington unintentionally makes political trouble for a friend, by Christopher Marquis, NYT, A3.
    ...The administration is currently withholding $5m in military aid to Colombia and threatening to suspend $130m more next year unless that country agrees to exempt all Americans there from being sent abroad for prosecution by the newly created..\..International Criminal Court....
    [Arrogant, bloodthirsty, outlaw America. First we should get off our high horse - which the rest of the world sees as low - and recognize the International Criminal Court. Then we should ask, why the hell are we sending military aid to so many countries? Why are we sending ANY "aid" (often destabilizing) to other countries when our own country has a record and rising national debt and annual budget deficit? In particular, why are we fanning the flames in the most inflammable part of the world by handing out $3½ billion a year to Israel, a state with no separation of politics and religion? And why are we trying to override Colombia's acceptance of the world court system when we ourselves are shoving our federal court system down Puerto Rico's throat?! -]
    Puerto Ricans angry that U.S. overrode death penalty ban, by Adam Liptak, NYT, front page.
    SAN JUAN, PR...- This island, it is safe to say, hates capital punishment. It has not had an execution since 1927. It outlawed the practice two years later and wrote this antipathy into its Constitution in 1952: "The death penalty shall not exist." That is why a federal trial here, in which the [Bush] 'Justice' Dept. is seeking the execution of two men accused of kidnapping and murder, has left many Puerto Ricans baffled and angry. Local politicians, members of the legal establishment, scholars and ordinary residents have denounced the trial, now in its second week. They call it a betrayal of the island's autonomy, culture and law, in particular its Constitution, which Congress approved in 1952 as part of the compact that created Puerto Rico's unusual and frequently uneasy association with the U.S. mainland....
  4. Back together again - Scanning technology reassembles shredded documents once thought gone for good - No matter how small, shreds are not aas secure as they once were, by Douglas Heingartner, NYT, E1 & E6.
    ...If all goes as planned by the German government \the\ millions of shreds of paper that panicked Stasi officials threw into [16,000] garbage bags during the [East German] regime's final days in the fall of 1989 [will] be reconstructed.... The Stasi archives are a useful reference point for researchers tackling the challenge, though perhaps more for the scale than the sophistication.... Most of the Stasi papers were torn by hand because the flimsy East German shredding machines collapsed under the workload..\.. In its crudest form, the art of reconstructing shredded documents has been around for as long as shredders have. After the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979, Iranian captors laid pieces of documents on the floor, numbered each one and enlisted local carpet weavers to reconstruct them by hand, said Malcolm Byrne of the National Security Archive at George Washington University.... That episode helped convince the US government to update its procedures for destroying documents. The expanded battery of techniques now includes pulping, pulverizing and chemically decomposing sensitive data.
    Yet these more complex methods are not always at hand in an emergency, which is [has] "been an area of interest for a very long time," said William Daly, a former FBI investigator who is a VP at Control Risks Group, a security consulting firm. "The government is always trying to keep ahead of the curve." Like encryption and hacking, "it's kind of a cat-and-mouse game [or the Arms Race!], keeping one step ahead," he said. "That's why the government is always looking at techniques to help them ensure their documents are [really] destroyed...."
    Modern image-processing technology has made the rebuilding job a lot easier. A Houston-based company, ChurchStreet Technology, already offers a reconstruction service for documents that have been conventionally strip-shredded in thin segments. The company's founder, Cody Ford, says..."Within 3 months of the Enron collapse at [the] end of 2001, we had a service out to electronically reconstruct strip shreds," he said....

7/16/2003  surfin' those headlines from hell -
  1. White House sees a $455 billion gap in the '03 budget [oh what a surprise - not] - Would be biggest U.S. deficit - Democrats point to tax cuts, by David Rosenbaum, NYT, front page.
    [Compare -]
    The deficit floats up and away, editorial, NYT, A20.
    Having done its utmost to choke back the revenue flow into the Treasury, the Bush administration offered a running tab on this year's exploding budget deficit yesterday. To hear the casual patter of White House aides about the deficit, one would think it was pocket change. In fact, the shortfall has ballooned 50% in just 5 months....
    [That's 10% a month. That's a rate of negative 120% a year.] $455B and counting.... The White House firmly insists that the growing wad of government costs and debt being rolled across the years toward tomorrow's taxpayers is eminently "manageable."
    Actually, what was manageable was the $127 billion surplus the fledgling administration [inherited] just two years ago....
    [This administration will go down in history as the most profligate, wastrel, and irresponsible administration in American history, the biggest calamity every to befall this country from within. Here's hoping a few American voters wake up to the fact that now one of the duopoly parties has turned into religious fanatics and irresponsible, belligerent wastrels, we really only have one political party, and it too is corrupt, though far from equally fiscally irresponsible. We desperately need more real political parties, and to do that we need to dismantle the obstacles the duopoly has built up over the decades and centuries against more citizen choice and more real freedom. In the meantime, we need to do an end run around the whole corrupt mess in Congress, the Courts and the Executive and extend binding, public, issue-oriented referendums on every level of government. Otherwise, other nations will do so (Switzerland leads today) and America will be left in the dust.]

  2. [and a big part of that record deficit is the totally unnecessary and deceptive and thieving Iraq invasion, but fear not, behold the new ally Bush is looking to -]
    U.S. eyes a willing Romania as a new comrade in arms, by Ian Fisher, NYT, front page.

  3. [and for all our American pissing and moaning about spam, guess who's the biggest 'advanced' world problem -]
    European Union: U.S. help sought on spam, by Paul Meller, NYT, W1.
    ...The United States, the source for an estimated 33% of all spam in the world, is in the process of drafting antispam rules, too.
    [A model of uncooperativeness, reinventing the wheel again, and a much worse wheel at that -]
    Instead of insisting on prior consent from recipients, the American law is likely to permit spamming unless individuals ask to be removed from the spammers' mailing lists.
    [Which you're never going to be able to do as spammers multiply source addresses infinitely.]
    ..\..Efforts to form an international alliance to combat unsolicited email, or spam, will be restricted [read 'futile'] if the United States does not ban spam outright, European Commission officials said yesterday. An EU-wide law forbidding email promotions unless the recipient has given the marketer prior consent takes effect in the fall....
    [Again, the rest of the world moves on into the future, while the United States, stifled by the near-sighted, arrogant and plain damn stupid Bush administration digs in its heels.]

For earlier collapse stories, click on the desired date -

  • July 1-15/2003.
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  • Mar. 21-31/2003.
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  • Jan. 16-31/2003.
  • Jan. 1-15/2003.
  • Dec/2002.
  • Nov/2002.
  • Oct. 16-31/2002.
  • Oct. 1-15/2002.
  • Sept. 10-30/2002.
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  • July 16-31/2002.
  • July 1-15/2002 + Jun 30.
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  • Mar.12-31/2002.
  • Mar.1-11/2002.
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  • Dec/2001.
  • Nov.16-30/2001.
  • Nov.1-15/2001.
  • Oct/2001.
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  • Dec.21-31/2000.
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  • Dec.1-10/2000.
        Earlier Y2000 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-10/2000 page.
  • Dec.16-31/99.
  • Dec.1-15/99.
        Earlier 1999 months accessible via links at bottom of Dec.1-15/99 page.
  • Dec/98.
        Earlier months accessible via links at bottom of Dec/98 page.

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