Month: October 2007

Excellent Article: Pursue Them to The Grave


From Stephen Pizzo at

October 29, 2007

Pursue Them
Pursue Them to The Grave

Those us of a certain age have been here and done this before. And many of us wonder how we could possibly allowed ourselves to be sucked into it again. And then it dawned on me this weekend — the one critical thing we did not learn from our disastrous Vietnam experience. It’s not what we did, but what we failed to do. And that one thing is the reason for nearly everything that’s gone so terribly wrong in Iraq and our so-called “war on terror.”

Got your pen? Because we can’t afford to ever for this again. Okay, here it is:


Article: What will World War IV cost?


What will World War IV cost?
How about $32,000 each, $5 gas and a military draft for your kids
By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
Last Update: 7:19 PM ET Oct 29, 2007

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) — First, let’s clear the air: Someone please tell the White House we’re already fighting World War III. Yes, they’re great at picking buzzwords, but the truth is our global “war on terror” has engaged (or enraged) every nation on the planet.


Article: Pirates of Private Equity; An insanely lucrative investment strategy finally faces public scrutiny


(From In These Times, provided by LexisNexis)

Publication: In These Times

EMPLOYEES KNEW THAT HASTINGS Manufacturing Co., a family-owned auto-parts supplier 30 miles south of Grand Rapids, Mich., was in deep water. Facing financial pressure, 375 employees — two-thirds of whom were in the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) bargaining unit — conceded $ 1 million in benefits to save their company, relinquishing newly negotiated pay raises and agreeing to cover part of their own health care costs.

But according to UAW Local 138 Chief Steward Kim Townsend, who testified before the House Commercial and Administrative Law subcommittee in September, when Hastings’ management declared bankruptcy and was taken over by the private equity firm Anderson Group in December 2005, the slicing didn’t stop there. Sick days were cut in half, an existing two-tier wage system with a top rate of $ 13.49 an hour was maintained and the allotment for bargaining time was limited to two hours a month on company time. For retirees, the consequences were more dire, with pensions and health care coverage all but severed.


Article: Ich bin ein Berliner


As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
— Justice William O. Douglas

Click through to read the article…


Editorial: Another $200 Billion Down Bush’s Bottomless Pit


From the October 25, 2007, New York Times:

Another $200 Billion

President Bush waited until he had vetoed a relatively inexpensive children’s health insurance bill before asking for tens of billions of dollars more for his misadventure in Iraq. The cynicism of that maneuver is only slightly less shameful than the president’s distorted priorities. Despite a pretense of fiscal prudence, Mr. Bush keeps throwing money at his war, regardless of the cost in blood, treasure or children’s health care.


Article: California home foreclosures again set a record


Here’s an eye-popping statistic: 17.9 million vacant homes in the USA.

Using a little back-of-the-envelope math we can multiply 17.9 million by about 2.5 people per house and get 44.8 million people. That’s the number of people who could be housed in those vacant homes. To put it in perspective, that’s room for the entire population of Spain or 1.5 times the population of Canada.

You also might be wondering just how that number — 17.9 million — compares to the total number of homes in the USA. Using our 2.5 people her house estimate, combined with the population of the USA — about 301.14 million — we estimate that about 12.9% all homes in the USA are currently vacant. And that number is rising. What would be interesting would be to see how that number compares to history and to comparable countries and their histories. Anyone want to get on that? And perhaps post the info in the comments to this post? Thanks. Cheers!

California home foreclosures again set a record
The third quarter’s total surpasses 24,000, which is a record. ‘It’s working its way to the Westside,’ an agent says.
By Peter Y. Hong
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 27, 2007

Californians lost their homes to foreclosure in record numbers for a second straight quarter, and the trend is creeping into affluent communities, figures released Friday show.

Foreclosures statewide hit a new high of 24,209, besting the previous record by 39%, according to DataQuick Information Systems. Default notices — the first step toward foreclosure — rose to 72,571 for the three months ended Sept. 30, breaking a record set in 1996.

Separately, the Census Bureau reported that the nation’s homeownership rate fell for a fourth straight quarter, the longest decline since 1981. The agency said foreclosures helped push the number of vacant homes to a record 17.9 million.


Article: Recovering From Injury, Returning to TV, Speaking for the Wounded (Bob Woodruff)


“Every day, now, is a ‘free day.'” I can relate to that. In fact, those are the exact words I’ve been using ever since my mountain biking accident, which resulted in a seriously fractured skull and shattered cheekbone. I still have a good-size indentation in my right temple and large scars on my neck and head. How does it make me feel? I say it again, every day is a free day… thank you. Now on to the NYT story:

From the October 25, 2007, New York Times:

Recovering From Injury, Returning to TV, Speaking for the Wounded

In the summer of 2006, as Israeli and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon were clashing, Bob Woodruff desperately wished to fly there to report for ABC News. Never mind that it had been less than six months since a roadside explosion in Iraq pocked his brain with shrapnel and other debris, almost killing him.

“I couldn’t even remember the word ‘Lebanon,’” Mr. Woodruff, 46, said in an interview this week in his office at ABC News, reflecting on the months after he emerged from a 36-day, medically induced coma. “I couldn’t remember the names ‘Israel’ and ‘Hezbollah.’”