Category Archives: Blog

Updated Info On Haiti

You can pick up on some of the latest info from Twitter messages by clicking here.

Also, former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have joined President Obama in support for Haitian relief.   Here’s a clip from a joint news conference the three men held at the White House this morning.

“The two former presidents announced the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to help raise money for Haitians suffering from the devastating earthquake that struck Jan. 12.  A Web site to collect donations is at www.clintonbushhaitifund.org.” –Bloomberg

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Donate to the Hatai Relief Fund of the American Red Cross by clicking here-

Healthcare Reform Is Just The Beginning

It must be out-and-out arrogance.  It’s the only thing that explains the banking industry’s short-sightedness in continuing to award huge bonuses to their execs as the country struggles to get out from under what is being called a major recession but what feels like the second great depression.

The BBC has issued the following on JP Morgan/Chase, which is reporting profits of $3.3. billion in the last 3 months of 2009-

“JP Morgan’s 200,000 employees were paid a total of $27bn in salaries and bonuses over the year – an 18% increase on 2008 – though a figure for bonus payments alone was not given.

The $9.3bn earned by investment bankers was a 21% increase on the previous year.”

Back in the real world, the nation’s employers cut another 85,000 jobs in December.  Here in Los Angeles, unemployment continues to run at something above 12%.

The homeless are on our streets in places homeless haven’t been seen before.    At the same time, bankers seem determined to pass along huge rewards to their executives, even while the people who bailed them out continue to suffer.   Are they beyond all reason?   Do they have anyone left in their corporate ranks that understands the power of public opinion and the need for a public relations plan?   Can’t they see that they’re setting themselves up to be hammered by a truckload of new federal regulations, a move the Democrats will be forced to take if they want to keep their hands on the reigns of power?   Or has Wall Street pumped so much bribe money into the Congress, that we now have government of, by and for the corporations and a relative few very wealthy individuals sitting comfortably at the top of the economic ladder?   A Congress that eagerly sends out our troop to protect corporate interests abroad while financial giants drain the income from taxpayers here at home with credit card usury and constantly changing fee schedules that would baffle even the most skilled flim-flam artist.  A Congress and an FCC that turn a blind eye to the impact of media  consolidation (80% of the tv market in the U.S. is now controlled by just 5 companies) while an increasingly weakened press fails to inform the American public that their elected representatives have been bought off?

There may be hope.

Eventually the debate over healthcare will end and the Congress will return to issues they were forced to set aside.  The economy and jobs will be at the top of the list.  Fixing the economy takes money.  The banks have it and the question will be how it’s being used.  Are they using it to help restore the economy, or are they playing scrooge and hoarding it away?

Here’s what Forbes has to say-

“Bankers have done the equivalent of stuffing the mattress in the last few months, despite being prodded by the government to lend the hundreds of billions in cash being pumped into the banking system by the Federal Reserve and other regulators.”

It feels as though we are heading for two societies.  One, the safe and comfortable folk, consists of bankers, Wall Street execs, the health insurance and big pharma companies the agricultural conglomerates and a few other big-time players with big money to pump into Washington.   For now, consider agriculture.   There hasn’t been all that much talk about food, even though one of the first indicators that prices were about to shoot up was the global price of rice.  Even before gasoline prices took off, the price of rice was shooting up, and no one went looking for an explanation as to why.  Since then, food prices have continued jumping by double-digits.  The numbers are shocking.

“Between March 2007 and March 2008, global food prices increased an average of 43 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund. During that time period, wheat, soybean, corn, and rice prices increased by 146 percent, 71 percent, 41 percent, and 29 percent, respectively, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”-USAID

If you work for an agriculture conglomerate or a health insurance company or one of the big banks, chances are you are cash fat, warm and comfortable.   However, if you’re on the other side of the equation, left out of the corporate prosperity bubble, you are undoubtedly struggling daily to pay for gas, food, education and healthcare, while attempting to keep a roof over your head.

We are becoming two societies, the “haves” and the “have-nots,” and God help the “have-nots” because the “haves” like the big bankers, are increasingly showing that they do not care about people.  They care only for the bottom line.    Their arrogance and blindness are beyond belief and their stupidity is unbelievable because it has all happened before.   Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, was the great “trust-buster” of the early 1900’s.  FDR was forced to come back and hammer many of these same interests in the 30’s, and now somebody is going to have to do it again.    The survival of America as we know it, as a place with a quality of life and a sense of decency and fairness that is the envy of much of the world, will depend upon it.

Healthcare reform is just the beginning.

Stewart A. Lindman Dies

If you’re over 40 and from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard of Stewart A. Lindman.  He was the first newscaster to appear on the old WTCN-TV, now “KARE-TV.”    One of the best known tv news personalities in the upper midwest, he got the broadcasting bug while a student at the University of Minnesota.  Lindman passed away at the age of 87.

“After serving in the US Army during World War II and being wounded while fighting in the pacific, he became a staff announcer at WMIN Minneapolis/Saint Paul in 1945. He signed WMIN TV on the air for the first time in 1953, serving as newscaster, news director, and program director. After the station merged with WTCN TV in 1956, he continued as radio news director and television news anchor until 1973, when he became director of public affairs.”-KARE TV

Here’s the full obit from the KARE-TV website.

Help For Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – “Dazed survivors wandered past dead bodies in rubble-strewn streets Wednesday, crying for loved ones, and rescuers searched collapsed buildings as officials feared the death toll from Haiti‘s devastating earthquake could reach into the tens of thousands.

The first cargo planes with food, water, medical supplies, shelter and sniffer dogs headed to the Western Hemisphere‘s poorest nation a day after the magnitude-7 quake flattened much of the capital of 2 million people.”  -AP

You can CLICK HERE TO DONATE to the International Response Fund of the American Red Cross.

CLICK HERE for the LA Times page listing organizations in need of donations for Haitian relief.

 Click here  for updated info from Haiti on “HaitiFeed.com”

Visibly Cold

While much of the country remains in a deep freeze, this photo is particularly descriptive.   It shows steam rising from a turkey barn at sunset in Roseville Township, MN.   Yes, there is a barn back there.   You just can’t see it.

I just checked and the temp at 10PM CST on 1/13 is 7 above.

Minnesota Cold

                        photo: michael jacobson/the paynesville press   

Does China Really Care?

The NY Times reports that Google, is threatening to shut down its operations in China.

“Google linked its decision to sophisticated cyberattacks on its computer systems that it suspected originated in China and that were aimed, at least in part, at the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

In a statement, the United States secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, expressed “serious concerns” about the infiltration of Google.”  NY Times

You have to wonder if Google needs China more than China needs Google.  Walking the tightrope between our economic needs and our ongoing efforts to cultivate a friendship with China while, at the same time, the Chinese Government continues to violate some of the most basic principles of civilized human behavior creates an interesting diplomatic conundrum.

7.0 Quake In Haiti

With thousands feared dead from the 7.0 earthquake, the BBC is featuring a slideshow of the devastation in Haiti.

Search and rescue teams from around the world are preparing to leave for the island nation, including the 72-person “heavy rescue task force” from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Click here, to go to a “how to help” page on the Los Angeles Times website.

Below,  is some video of the quake’s aftermath from “CBS News Raw.”

Conan Says He Won’t Follow Leno

Late night host Conan O’Brien has released a statement saying he won’t agree to being bumped back to 12:05AM by Jay Leno.   Here’s part of it.  The rest is in the LA Times.

“So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.” -Conan O’Brien

“Show business is high school with money” – David Letterman

Carroll Leaves USC / McGwire Admits Steroid Use

A couple of sports notes – not related, but both of possible interest.

Pete Carroll is leaving USC to coach the Seattle Seahawks and Mark McGwire has admitted to steroid use, even while breaking the record for home runs in 1998.

While we’re on the subject of Mark McGwire (ad nauseum on the network news), I must ask you to take a look at the old photos of my boyhood heroes Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris when they were in their prime.  Then compare the way they looked to the body-builder physique McGwire had when he broke Maris’ home run record.    And some are saying the steroid and human growth hormone use issue isn’t relevant?  I know about the advances in physical training but can we please get real?

Palin Lands A Job With Fox

Sarah Palin has a new job making regular appearances on Fox TV.

“The former Alaska governor will appear as a pundit on various Fox shows, beginning Tuesday on “The O’Reilly Factor,” and host an occasional series that was already in the works, “Real American Stories,” which will examine inspirational tales involving ordinary citizens who have suffered setbacks.” –The Washington Post

While news of Palin’s new position was making the rounds, John McCain’s campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, put in an appearance on “60 Minutes” as part of a report on the new book “Game Change” and suggested that Palin was a plus for the Republican ticket even though she had been something less than honest.  Palin, according to Schmidt, believed that her candidacy was “God’s plan.”


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Mrs. Robinson And The Amazing Berlusconi

 Silvio Berlusconi

                       photo:  agencia brasil  

A couple of interesting items overseas.   Chances are neither of these stories will be properly covered by the American broadcast media which have eliminated most of their overseas bureaus in an ongoing effort to improve their bottom lines to satisfy Wall Street, which is working as hard as it can to undermine the American economy so that we the people can again be forced to bail out the banks and other financial institutions on the Street with our tax dollars while they continue to foreclose on our homes and refuse to award loans to small businesses so that a relative few fat cats can steal all the money and leave the rest of us eating gruel…….  Sorry.  I got sidetracked.

In Northern Ireland, Mrs. Robinson has moved onto undergraduates.    Irish politician Iris Robinson, age 60,  has admitted to having an affair with a 19 year old.   She also apparently used her political clout to arrange for her young lover to receive 50 thousand pounds from developers to help him establish a restaurant.    There are reports that there may have been other affairs, as well.

Mrs. Robinson’s husband, Peter, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, has “stepped aside” from his position for 6 weeks to try and deal with the situation while his wife undergoes “acute psychiatric treatment.”

Setting aside the urge to create humor out of a political sex scandal with magnificent movie metaphors, the situation could turn out to be quite serious for Northern Ireland.

The AFP reports:  “The brutal fact is that we were heading for a dangerous political crisis in Northern Ireland even before the Robinson revelations,” Irish political expert Paul Bew wrote in The Times on Monday”…….”There are also fears of a return to sustained violence in Northern Ireland, where three decades of civil unrest known as The Troubles killed at least 3,500 people but was largely ended by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.”

In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is back on the job after being treated for injuries suffered when he was smashed in the face with a statuette.    The PM is trying to gain immunity from prosecution on charges of corruption and tax fraud.  Several bills are being proposed to change to law of the land to shield Mr. Berlusconi from being prosecuted in court.

One report indicates that giving  the PM what he wants might shield others from the law as well by terminating up to 100,000 trials.   Italy’s top court has already ruled that an earlier law, passed by Berlusconi’s government and protecting him from prosecution, was unconstitutional.

The situation is complicated by Mr. Berlusconi’s media-driven popularity and by the fact that he owns or influences a big chunk of the Italian media.   He has influence over the state-owned RAI Television and ownership in three tv networks and a publishing group which includes magazines and a major newspaper.  A recent report in the European press pointed to Mr. Berlusconi’s ability to use the (his) media to increase his popularity with the masses while the Italian intelligentsia remain less than happy with the Prime Minister’s performance.

However,  it appears that Mr. Berlusconi has become even more popular following the attack in Milan.  In a smart public relations move he has publicly forgiven his attacker, who apparently suffers from a mental illness.   At the same time,  a sex scandal involving the 73-year old’s fondness for young women has been placed on the back-burner.  It was a good one too, involving an 18 year old underwear model and using a government plane to fly entertainers and starlets to his vacation villa in Sardinia.  Really hot stuff.   Torrid, in fact, coming as it did on the heels of Silvio’s other alleged trysts.  The great Berlusconi’s popularity stats were sinking like a stone in a bottomless pool.  But not anymore, apparently.   Not since the amazing and munificent Berlusconi forgave his deranged attacker.  What a beautiful guy.  It’s almost enough to make you forget about his alleged Mafia ties and his wife’s reported demand for a 43 million pound ($69,557.000) divorce settlement.

Berlusconi’s explanation for his troubles is that he is being hounded by Communist magistrates.   It’s those damn Communists again.  And so, apparently, he feels a need to be immune from prosecution and to limit what the free press (or what’s left of it in Italy) is allowed to report about him.  In order to govern effectively he apparently feels the need to be above and beyond the reach of the law.   Hasn’t Italy already tried that system with a fellow by the name of…….Mussolini?

 

Leno Moving Out Of Prime-Time

NBC has confirmed that it wants to move Jay Leno back to his old time slot at 11:35 and bump Conan back to 12:05 and Jimmy Fallon to 1:05.   Here’s the story from the AP.  The question of whether the late-night hosts will agree to the plan appears to be unsettled even though network execs have apparently decided that Leno’s prime-time show will come to an end on February 12th.  Here’s a clip from NBC with some of what Jay had to say about the situation last week as the storm of speculation continued to grow.

Reporter Killed In Afghan Explosion

 Rupert Hamer

      photo: sunday mirror   

According to the British Defense Ministry, 39 year old Rupert Hamer has been killed by a “makeshift explosion” in southern Afghanistan.  Hamer was a defense correspondent for the Sunday Mirror.   A U.S. Marine and an Afghan soldier were also killed by the blast.   Photographer Philip Coburn, 43, and 4 Marines were seriously wounded.

The death of Hamer is the second fatality in less than two weeks for journalists in Afghanistan.  On December 30th, Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang  died from injuries suffered when a roadside bomb exploded.  The 34 year old Lang, was on her first assignment as a war correspondent.