February 12, 2008 archive

Fox Business Network: Cause Of The Recession?

Dow Jones announced yesterday that it will be adjusting the components of its Dow 30 stock index. This is the first change since Dow Jones, parent of the Wall Street Journal, was purchased by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, parent of Fox News and the recently launched Fox Business Network. The index will be replacing the Altria Group and Honeywell with Bank of America and Chevron. The result will be an increase in the weighting of financials and energy in the index.

It will be interesting to see the effect over time of these trades, but given the propensity of Murdoch to attempt to manipulate outcomes to his liking, one must wonder if there is a hidden purpose to these events. He has previously confessed to trying to shape the agenda on the war in Iraq. He also promised to make the FBN a business friendly network.

Murdoch’s machinations of late have not met with the success to which he is normally accustomed. Fox News is presently the slowest growing cable news network. FBN got off to a pathetic crawl. And I wonder if anyone else has noticed this sign of the Apocalypse: When the Fox Business Network launched on October 15, 2007, the Dow Jones had just hit its all-time high. Since then the markets have collapsed, diving 15% in the four months since FBN’s debut.

FBN Decline


Bootleg Pony: Pointlessly Complete


No.  No no no.

Why not?

I’ve had it with your stupid imaginings.  This will be the third time.

But they’re not my imaginings.  They’re yours.

It’s your game.

It’s a game?

Well, what is it, then?

Just something to get my thoughts moving.  Loosen up the brain.

Well then, you imagine.

Okay.  I imagine a rhinoceros.

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

Today is the 199th birthday of Charles Darwin and 2008 marks the 149th year anniversary of his book, On the Origin of Species, where he advocated and provided scientific evidence that showed all species of life evolved over time from common ancestry through the process of natural selection.

Today is also a good time to reflect upon what Darwin’s ideas mean to Americans.

OAC Archive: Big Idea: Tertiary Education Contribution System … TECS

Archive post from OAC blog, shutting down today

BruceMcF in Arguments & Analyses Feed of

8/17/2006 at 9:24 AM EST

(Original picture: Graduation at Maysville Community and Technical College,

no idea where this one is from)

There are two sides to public funding of tertiary education. One is education as a requirement for career opportunities. To the extent that education is required for entry into “good” careers, then our American ideals demand public funding of those without the means to go proceed with tertiary education on their own. Otherwise higher education becomes a means of establishing a permanent class system, and ends the dream of a land of opportunity.

This diary is not about that aspect of public funding to tertiary education. It is about the other aspect: education as a tool of economic development.

I am proposing a system here to identify skills that we need to develop sustainable competitive advantages, and then to help fund the education of most qualified candidates for those programs.

When I refer to it as the Tertiary Education Contribution System, I am making three references. First is a reference to the Australian HECS (H is for Higher) system, from which I borrow freely (but not entirely). Second is a reference to the Student Contribution portion of the program. Third is a reference to the Contribution that the successful students will make to their Nation’s Economic Independence.

OAC Archive: Big Idea: Fair Trade

Archived from the OAC Blog, shutting down today

BruceMcF in Arguments & Analyses

4/18/2006 at 1:13 PM EST

Why are the experts wrong so often about the impact of “free trade”?

What is wrong with “fair trade” agreements?  Why is it that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was sold as a job creator but turned out to be a destroyer of jobs both North and South of the border?

Its very simple.  The arguments for these so-called “free trade” agreements are about how the agreements work in a make-believe world.  The make-believe world is different from the real world in very important ways.  So when set loose in the real world, the predictions turn out to be false.

Why should ordinary people care about “fair trade”?

The thing is, there is a lot to like about that make-believe world.  If we could move the real world closer to the make-believe, it would benefit America.  And that’s what I call a fair-trade agreement — a system that tries to actually deliver the benefits that so-called “free trade” agreements can never deliver.

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports the Senate rejects surveillance amendment and preserves telecom immunity. “The Senate voted today to preserve retroactive immunity from lawsuits for telecommunications companies that cooperated with a government eavesdropping program, decisively rejecting an amendment that would have stripped the provision from a bill… Senators voted 67 to 31 to shelve the amendment offered by Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.)… The vote represented a victory for the Bush administration and a number of telecommunications companies — including AT&T and Sprint Nextel — that face dozens of lawsuits from customers seeking billions of dollars in damages… Immunity from such lawsuits must also be approved by the House, which does not provide such protection in its version of the bill.”

  2. The Los Angeles Times reports Nearly 50,000 votes won’t count in Los Angeles. “An estimated 49,500 votes were cast incorrectly in Los Angeles County by nonpartisan voters in the presidential primaries and cannot be counted because the voters’ intentions are unclear, acting Registrar Dean Logan said Monday. The mismarked ballots were the result of a confusing ballot design and poor education of poll workers and the public, Logan said… Logan released a report of the Feb. 5 voting based on a manual survey of nonpartisan ballots cast in 1% of the county’s precincts. It found that 26% tried to vote in one of the two party primaries but neglected to mark a party bubble on the ballot.”

  3. The Guardian reports Boeing engineer and Pentagon analyst charged with spying for the Chinese.

    Dongfan Chung, the former Boeing engineer, was charged with supplying the Chinese with secrets relating to the space shuttle and other Nasa programmes…

    Born in China, he became a US citizen and worked at Boeing until 2002, before returning as a contractor. He had security clearance to work on secret projects, but the FBI alleges that he gave China secrets from Boeing relating to the shuttle, the C-17 military transport aircraft and a rocket system.

    The indictment alleges that Chung’s Chinese handlers began sending him “tasking” letters in 1979, when he worked for Rockwell International, a firm later taken over by Boeing. He gave China details of the B-1 bomber designed by Rockwell…

    In the second case, Gregg Bergersen, 51, a Pentagon weapons systems analyst, was charged with selling secret information to a furniture businessman in New Orleans called Tai Kuo. The salesman, a naturalised US citizen originally from Taiwan, aged 58, was arrested in New Orleans along with another immigrant from China, Yu Xin Kang, 33.

    Kuo stands accused of passing on the information received from Bergersen to the Chinese, while Kang is said to have acted as conduit between Kuo and China. The transmitted data is alleged to include details of all sales of military technology and weaponry by the US to Taiwan over the next five years.

  4. The International Herald Tribune reports Spain gets women’s measurements down. A yearlong government-sponsored study “used laser beams to measure more than 10,000 women aged from 12 to 70, claims that 4 out of 10 have trouble finding clothes that fit them, mainly because sizes are inconsistent from one outlet to another and because what is on the racks is too small… The study says Spanish women fall into three categories: ‘cylinders,’ whose chest, waist and hips are more or less the same size; ‘hourglasses,’ with smaller waists; and ‘bells,’ or pear-shapes, whose hips are wider than their chests and waists. Many who start out life as cylinders or hourglasses end up as bells, it says… Armed with the new data, the government hopes to overhaul the sizing system used by the Spanish fashion industry for 35 years and eliminate the skinny stereotype that it says encourages eating disorders.” Bernat Soria, the health minister, plans “to do a similar survey of men – assuming the Socialist government wins the March 9 general election – and to propose that the European Union adopt a common standard.”

Time to DEMAND Accountability

As Congress voted to grant telecoms immunity, I ask myself… what does this mean, in the larger sense?

Blue Cross wants to end doctor-patient confidentiality

Make no mistake.  One of the central issues in this election is reforming a healthcare system that is designed to generate large profits for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.  Blue Cross just provided more ammunition for why the parasitic insurance industry must be dismantled and destroyed, not given a seat at the table.

Blue Cross of California is asking physicians to violate confidentiality and report pre-existing conditions that new members may have omitted so their insurance coverage can be cancelled.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Citing an effort to hold down costs, health insurance giant Blue Cross wants doctors in California to report conditions it could use to cancel new patients’ medical coverage, it was reported Tuesday.

The state’s largest for-profit health insurer is sending physicians copies of health insurance applications filled out by new patients, along with a letter advising them that the company has a right to drop members who fail to disclose “material medical history,” the Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site.


FISA Failings {updated}

I have to apologize to all the readers of this site.

A series of hugely important votes is occurring right now in the Senate, I just cannot bear to write about yet another capitulation to Bushco of our Constitutional rights and indeed, the very structure of our government…the former democracy that was The United States of America. As KagroX puts it: US Senate commits suicide on national television.


Fortunately we have folks in the blogosphere that are made of sterner stuff than I. Like mcjoan and Kagro and Big Tent Democrat and the inestimable Glenn Greenwald

I’ll try to do better, the next time our country and all it stands for gets thrown under the bus by the Repubs and the Dems who love them.

Walking Backwards Into the Future

That was a motto of one of my teachers in life. One interpretation is respecting and acknowledging the past, as we push forward to create the new world that the future holds. And when possible, addressing and correcting it. As I have said many times, in different ways, the future depends on all of us silly humans finding a way to live together and work cooperatively to make a better world.

A step is being taken in that direction now.

It may seem small, in light of everything else we are going through, but I think it, and all efforts like it…. is vital to walking forward in the right way..

Hat tip to mishima…

It is difficult to convey the deep emotion many Australians feel about the apology that is to be made to those indigenous Australians now known as the Stolen Generations, this Wednesday at 9am, as the first act of the newly elected Australian parliament. The national excitement around the event is palpable, with thousands heading to Canberra for it, and public screens being erected in most major cities for the live, national broadcast of the event.

Pause in troop withdrawal; No time to pause in antiwar action

Lest we think that the Iraqization of the war is underway and that US trops will be coming home, this blunt reminder. AP reports:

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – In a clear sign the drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq will be suspended, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday he favors taking time this summer to assess security gains before more troops leave the country, an idea President Bush is expected to support.

It was Gates’ first public endorsement of a possible suspension, and it would seem to mark an end to the Pentagon chief’s previously stated hope that conditions in Iraq would permit American troops to withdraw in the second half of this year as rapidly as they are leaving now.

“A brief period of consolidation and evaluation probably does make sense,” Gates told reporters during a short stop at this U.S. base in southern Baghdad. He had just finished private meetings with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and the No. 2 commander, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno.

Gates did not say how long the pause might last, noting that it ultimately would be a decision for the president.

Friday is Iraq Moratorium #6, a loosely-knit nationwide effort that asks people to take some action, individually or in a group, on the third Friday of every month to call for an end to the war.  Those actions range from simple gestures like wearing a black armband or button to participating in a large-scale protest.

Since the Moratorium began in September, more than 600 events have been listed with the group’s website, IraqMoratorium.org, which has a list of upcoming actions, and reports, photos and videos from previous month’s events.  You’ll also find suggestions on things you can do by yourself.

What are you going to do?  

Connected Disconnects?

I started to write this awhile ago. I got halfway through my literary masterpiece of an introduction and my browser crashed, losing twenty minutes of a disconnected rambling attempt at connection framing that you’d probably be thankful you didn’t have to wade through scratching your head wondering what the hell I was trying to say. So instead I’ll try to be a little more focussed.

This essay is going to be very broad in some ways and very tightly focussed in other ways. It will be about many subjects, and at the same time about one subject. It’ll cover a lot of ground, but later I’ll quote extensively from one very wide ranging study that was conducted late last summer.

On The Bus’s Docudharma Mission Statement opens with:

Passion, politics, poetry, prose and ponies. Silliness, snark and a serious effort to frame the future. A river of words, thought, philosophy and action that nourishes and transforms the political cultural and social landscape through which it passes. That is the spirit behind this “place”.

In practice…write whatever the hell you want!

We get all of that in abundance here, as well as in the larger society that we all reflect.

Lacking concrete evidence to the contrary I think we’re all humans here, each of us a mass of conflicting contradictions, as is the larger society we’re all part of, although some of us I think might be reluctant to include some of the political leadership under the heading “human”. I’ll leave that one dangling there in case anyone else wants to pick up on it, and try to move on here, even though I’m not entirely sure where I’m going. But bear with me, if you will.

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