Saturday, October 29, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Man costumed as feces has case in court to settle
Canadian PressOct. 18, 2005 07:35 AM
VICTORIA, Canada - Mr. Floatie - a brown, smiling lump of feces - will have to take a break from his environmental concerns Tuesday as he heads to British Columbia Supreme Court. The costumed crusader for sewage treatment is being challenged by the city of Victoria because of his nomination as a candidate for the position of mayor in the upcoming municipal election. Mr. Floatie is a high-profile and tireless reminder of Victoria's practice of pumping raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The man inside the costume, James Skwarok, says the city appears to be taking issue with his candidacy because only real persons can run. It's an objection he finds moot. "Of course I'm not a real person, I'm a big piece of poop." The move by the city to keep Mr. Floatie off the throne of power has left him "beyond bummed out. I was fuming." Robert Woodland, Victoria administrator, says the law governing municipal elections clearly states that only people can run for a position. And they must do so under their real name. Woodland says he can personally attest that Mr. Floatie is not a real person. "He is a costume character."
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
The Associated PressMonday, October 17, 2005; 2:24 AM
HYANNIS, Mass. -- U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy attempted to rescue six men who had become trapped by high tide on a jetty off Hyannisport on Sunday. The Massachusetts Democrat eventually left the rescue to Hyannis firefighters, The Cape Cod Times reported Monday.
Kennedy was walking his two dogs on the shore at 11:15 a.m. when he spotted the men cut off from shore by the rising waters. They had been fishing on a jetty that begins at the tip of the Kennedy compound. Tides had risen over the patchy rocks, which made it difficult to walk back to shore. Kennedy and a friend tried to rescue the men using a 13-foot boat but rough waters forced them back. A crew from the Hyannis Fire Department picked them up. The men, in their 20s, were not identified. They were brought to Cape Cod Hospital with mild hypothermia
Monday, October 17, 2005
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
This is what happens when you try to project life expectancy, investment returns, health care costs, and interest rates and further than a few years. Defined benefits as we know it are dead. Deal with it.
Delphi has long had troubles well before it become as separate company. It had large inflexible unionized workforce, excessively generous benefits, and long-term contracts that handcuffed the company. Add to this rising steel and fuel costs, and a teetering auto industry, and it was the tipping point. Delphi tried to extract consessions from the UAW over retiree benefits, but when the UAW balked, they carried through on their threat and went into bankruptcy.
What is happening at Delphi will be happening at GM soon. The conventional wisdom is that $1,500 of the cost of every GM vehicle goes to covering their health care costs. The problem is that unionized employees and retirees have no co-pay to speak of (unionized employees and retirees pay 7% of their costs, while management pays 27%). With more and more retirees living longer and longer, it is no wonder that the big three are bleeding red ink.
A lot of this was inevitable, and has been brewing for 30 years. Excessively generous labour agreements from the 60's and 70's, when the big three had 90% market share have finally started to impact the company. GM's debt is BB- (anything BBB and above is 'investment grade' while anything below is 'junk'), while Toyota's debt is rated AAA. This is a testament to years of mismanagement.
There is going to be a brawl with the UAW over this, and the other auto makers and suppliers are going to follow suit, as they are in survival mode.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
- As hurricane Katrina illustrated - the U.S. is running perpetually at full refining capacity. There has not been a new refinery built in the U.S. in over 25 years. This has primarily been due to environmental regulations and NIMBY activists.
- Katrina showed what happens when a small portion of that capacity is even temporarily taken offline, in terms of $3/gallon gas.
- $3/gallon gas is killing the big three, whose profits are derived from larger vehicles with poorer gas mileage. They are at a competitive disadvantage in the smaller, more fuel efficient care segment.
- Detroit is dependent on the big three for it's economic survival, and thus $3/gallon gas is not in the interests of Detroit.
- Detroit has large segments of its city with abandoned manufacturing properties, which are enviornmentally damaged.
- Detroit should use these lands and actively promote the construction of refineries within its boundries. This would utilize land already environmentally damaged, thus not making things worse. It would bring investment dollars for construction and infrastructure of the refineries, create jobs and tax revenues for the city, and help lower the price of gasoline, which helps the industrial base in Detroit.
- This is also feasible location wise - if Sarnia, 40 miles up the river is the hub of refinery capacity for Ontario, why can't Detroit be the refninery hub for the rust belt?
I am suprised that neither Kwame Fitzpatrick or Freeman Hendrix have latched on to this idea. If the next mayor of Detroit becomes a champion of such a plan - it is a political and economic winner. Jobs, economic development, and helping the largest employers in the city... whowoulddathunk???
Short has more than $20,000 in credit card and other debt. She has a $700-a-month payment on a 2004 Cadillac Escalade. "I just can't do it on my income," she said.
She once worked as a blackjack dealer at a casino, but she left that job when her grandmother got sick. She does some child care, but is looking for a better-paying job.
"It's hard to find a job. I'm looking, though, really hard." Short has about $38,000 a year in income, including Social Security and a pension. Her husband was a Detroit police officer who was shot and killed while off-duty in 1994. Benjamin Short, 29, an undercover narcotics officer and a seven-year employee of the department, was gunned down in a lounge, caught in the cross fire during an argument of which he was not a part.
How did LaVita Short come up with the $600 needed up front for an attorney?
"I'm not paying my truck note -- I'm desperate," she said.
Short said she already has faced a foreclosure on her Southfield home, where she couldn't afford the $1,600-a-month mortgage payment.
Thanks to my friends at the Londong Fog for the info!