Friday, July 31, 2009

Nothing Fails like Success

If there is a surer sign a program from Washington is working, I do not know what it is. What is the sign? Sudden death. Summary execution. As we know, whenever a government plan leads to success, something has to be done about.

The Obama administration had wanted consumers to replace the old family car with a new gas-sipping machine. The catalyst was an incentive of up to $4,500. The good news? It worked. The bad news? It worked.

Washington was shocked to see people responding to the offer like it was the Oklahoma Land Rush. As a result of the stampede into dealersips, the Obama administration quickly recognized its mistake and cancelled the program.

However, as the last line of the article states, any deals already in the works will be honored. In other words, over the next few weeks, dealerships across the country will work late back-dating purchase orders.

Government Suspends 'Clunkers' Program

At Current Rate, Giving Out $3,500 Or $4,500 Per Vehicle Would Burn Through $1 Billion Allocated In No Time

NYC Car Dealers: How Could Obama Administration Mess This Up?

"Cash for Clunkers" came to a screeching halt Thursday, after only six days on the road.

In a shocker, the government announced it would suspend the program at midnight because demand was too great.

It may have been the best $1 billion the government has spent so far this year.

Business was humming at Crestmont Toyota/Volkswagen Thursday night as salespeople rushed back to work on news that the government's "Cash for Clunkers" program was being suspended.
It's the deal where you get up to $4,500 for your older low mileage beast if you buy a new car with more efficient fuel consumption.

On Thursday night we learned the program was only good until midnight, all because of a backlog of red tape. So the salespeople were trying to get their deals through the government's Web site.

"People are loving it. It's wonderful. It's a great stimulus package," salesman Andy Beloff said.

But when asked if the government was running the program well, Beloff said, "No. No."

The dealership's lot had roughly 40 clunkers waiting to be shipped to the junkyard. Each one has already been replaced by a brand new lower mileage car. The program only started last Friday. It's a victim of its own success.

But the money may be running out faster than anyone imagined.

With almost 23,000 deals already processed and tens of thousands more in the pipeline, it's possible the $1 billion allocated for the program might have already run out and into the pockets of people like Christie Acosta, who knew a good deal when she saw one.

"I had a 1987 Ford Explorer. We had it for a while and I was ready to get rid of it," Acosta said.

For the economy it's good news, but the government's miscalculation has some a little nervous.

"These are just the deals we have to submit tonight," Crestmont president Bill Strauss said while holding a stack of papers. He said the dealership has over $100,000 on the table.

"If they can't administer a program like this, I'd be a little concerned about my health insurance," car salesman Rob Bojaryn said.

The "Clunkers" program was being administered by the National Highway Safety Administration, which has seemed overwhelmed from the get-go. Some in Congress are expected to push for expansion of the $1 billion budget on Friday.

If you have a "Clunkers" deal in the works, don't worry. The government said Thursday any transactions already made between dealers and consumers will be honored.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sometimes you must destroy an industry to save it

Barney Frank is channeling General Curtis LeMay. Frank says he will push legislation that will allow homeowners who have defaulted on mortgages to file for bankrupty reorganization.

What does that mean? It means homeowners will obtain some of the same relief corporations get when filing a Chapter 11 reorganization. The court restructures the debt, reducing both the principal amount owed and the interest rate to levels the corporation can manage. The bankruptcy court sees this as the fairest way to resolve some debt problems.

Homeowners who default do not have this option today. But Frank threatens to give it to them.

What would happen if homeowners were able to go to court and have the amount of their mortgages reduced? Only the most creditworthy borrowers would receive mortgages AND the price of houses would drop to reflect the sharply higher downpayments every lender would demand.

Of course that would kick the legs out from under the mortgage market and, by extension, the housing market. As a result Barney Frank and the Financial Services Committee would have to find ways to give taxpayer money to home-buyers to keep the housing market from shutting down.

Frank threatens banks to stop foreclosures

Jul 29, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - A senior House Democrat threatened banks Wednesday that if they don't volunteer to save more homeowners from foreclosure, Congress will make them.
In a sternly worded statement, Rep. Barney Frank said Congress will revive legislation that would let bankruptcy judges write down a person's monthly mortgage payment if the number of loan modifications remain low.

Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, also said his committee won't consider legislation to help banks lend unless there is a "significant increase" in mortgage modifications.

Frank's statement was aimed at adding momentum to a deal struck Tuesday between Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and more than two dozen mortgage companies. The two sides agreed to set the goal of adjusting 500,000 loans by Nov. 1.

But it was far from clear whether that would happen.

Loan servicers say they are still trying to play catch up to a deluge of customer requests by hiring and training thousands of new employees. Banks also are trying to sort through which customers face a legitimate financial hardship.

Also, many loans have been bundled and sold to investors as securities, complicating efforts to modify the terms.

Congress tried earlier this spring to pass legislation that would give people a chance to keep their homes by filing for bankruptcy. But while President Barack Obama said he supported the measure, he did little to see it through and it was defeated amid an aggressive lobbying effort by banks.

The measure failed in the Senate by a 45-51 vote, falling 15 votes short of the 60 needed to overcome procedural hurdles.

"People in the servicing industry and in the broader financial industry must understand that if this last effort to produce significant modifications fails, the argument for reviving the bankruptcy option will be extremely strong, and I think there is a substantial chance that the outcome will be different," Frank said.

On the Internet no one knows you are a dog

Based on the arrest of Todd Genger, it must be true that a woman does not lie about her age and her intentions when she communicates with a man on the Internet. It must be true even after the woman admits she lied about her age and her intentions.

The hapless Genger is now awaiting prosecution after his arrest by the thought police. Would he face arrest and prosecution if the woman he met on the Internet were, in fact, a 15-year-old who claimed she was 21?

According to the aritlce: "The investigator was posing as a 15-year-old and made it clear "she" was underage, said Lucien Chalfen, a spokesman for the district attorney."

On the Internet, how does a person "make it clear" she is 15? How can claims be "clear" if the claimant is, in fact, lying? This method of crime fighting looks like a wildly abusive form of entrapment.

DA: Goldman Sachs lawyer Todd Genger caught soliciting '15-year-old'

Wednesday, July 29th 2009, 2:39 PM

Todd Genger, a lawyer with Goldman Sachs, is accused of soliciting a 15-year-old girl for sex.
A lawyer for Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs was caught in a sting operation aimed at perverts who solicit young girls for sex, officials said Tuesday.

Todd Genger, 33, is accused of trying to lure an underage teen with explicit chat on the Internet and then traveling to Westchester to consummate the cyber-affair.

In reality, the "girl" Genger was chasing was an undercover investigator posing as a teen in the chat room, the Westchester County district attorney's office said.

Genger, a Manhattan resident who is married and has three children, was snared after a series of Internet conversations that began April 13 and ended Monday, officials said.

The investigator was posing as a 15-year-old and made it clear "she" was underage, said Lucien Chalfen, a spokesman for the district attorney.

Genger did not respond to telephone calls.

He admitted to participating in the online conversations about the intended tryst, which included "specific explicit sexual acts," Chalfen said.

At his arraignment on charges of trying to disseminate indecent material to a minor, Genger was released on his own recognizance pending an Aug.11 court date.

He faces 1-1/3 to 4 years in prison, if convicted.

Plimer takes the Global Warming Heat

The human mind is often a terrible thing. Especially when it is "thinking." Fortunately there are people like geologist Ian Plimer who reject the nonsense thoughts of Global Warmists and alert the sane people to the benefits that lie ahead.

Global warming is the new religion of First World Urban Elites

Geologist Ian Plimer takes a contrary view, arguing that man-made climate change is a con trick perpetuated by environmentalists

Ian Plimer has outraged the ayatollahs of purist environmentalism, the Torquemadas of the doctrine of global warming, and he seems to relish the damnation they heap on him.

Plimer is a geologist, professor of mining geology at Adelaide University, and he may well be Australia's best-known and most notorious academic.

Plimer, you see, is an unremitting critic of "anthropogenic global warming" -- man-made climate change to you and me -- and the current environmental orthodoxy that if we change our polluting ways, global warming can be reversed.

It is, of course, not new to have a highly qualified scientist saying that global warming is an entirely natural phenomenon with many precedents in history. Many have made the argument, too, that it is rubbish to contend human behaviour is causing the current climate change. And it has often been well argued that it is totally ridiculous to suppose that changes in human behaviour -- cleaning up our act through expensive slight-of-hand taxation tricks -- can reverse the trend.

But most of these scientific and academic voices have fallen silent in the face of environmental Jacobinism. Purging humankind of its supposed sins of environmental degradation has become a religion with a fanatical and often intolerant priesthood, especially among the First World urban elites.

But Plimer shows no sign of giving way to this orthodoxy and has just published the latest of his six books and 60 academic papers on the subject of global warming. This book, Heaven and Earth -- Global Warming: The Missing Science, draws together much of his previous work. It springs especially from A Short History of Plant Earth, which was based on a decade of radio broadcasts in Australia.

That book, published in 2001, was a best-seller and won several prizes. But Plimer found it hard to find anyone willing to publish this latest book, so intimidating has the environmental lobby become.

But he did eventually find a small publishing house willing to take the gamble and the book has already sold about 30,000 copies in Australia. It seems also to be doing well in Britain and the United States in the first days of publication.

Plimer presents the proposition that anthropogenic global warming is little more than a con trick on the public perpetrated by fundamentalist environmentalists and callously adopted by politicians and government officials who love nothing more than an issue that causes public anxiety.

While environmentalists for the most part draw their conclusions based on climate information gathered in the last few hundred years, geologists, Plimer says, have a time frame stretching back many thousands of millions of years.

The dynamic and changing character of the Earth's climate has always been known by geologists. These changes are cyclical and random, he says. They are not caused or significantly affected by human behaviour.

Polar ice, for example, has been present on the Earth for less than 20 per cent of geological time, Plimer writes. Plus, animal extinctions are an entirely normal part of the Earth's evolution.

Plimer gets especially upset about carbon dioxide, its role in Earth's daily life and the supposed effects on climate of human manufacture of the gas. He says atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at the lowest levels it has been for 500 million years, and that atmospheric carbon dioxide is only 0.001 per cent of the total amount of the chemical held in the oceans, surface rocks, soils and various life forms. Indeed, Plimer says carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, but a plant food. Plants eat carbon dioxide and excrete oxygen. Human activity, he says, contributes only the tiniest fraction to even the atmospheric presence of carbon dioxide.

There is no problem with global warming, Plimer says repeatedly. He points out that for humans periods of global warming have been times of abundance when civilization made leaps forward. Ice ages, in contrast, have been times when human development slowed or even declined.

So global warming, says Plimer, is something humans should welcome and embrace as a harbinger of good times to come.

Friday, July 24, 2009

When I said the Cambridge Police Acted Stupidly, I did not mean the Cambridge Police Acted Stupidly, as I said they did...

Obama Seeks to Clarify 'Stupidly' Comment, Praises White Policeman

President Obama stopped short of an apology to Sgt. James Crowley for saying he "acted stupidly" for arresting black Harvard scholar Henry Lewis Gates Jr., but said he should have chosen his words more carefully.

President Obama stopped short of an apology to Sgt. James Crowley on Friday for saying he "acted stupidly" for arresting black Harvard scholar Henry Lewis Gates Jr., but said he should have chosen his words more carefully.

At an impromptu appearance at the daily White House briefing, Obama said he spoke with Crowley over the phone, and said he wanted to share a beer with Crowley and Gates at the White House.

"Because this has been ratcheting up and I helped contribute to ratcheting it up, I want to make clear that in my choice of words I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically and I could have calibrated those words differently."

"My sense is you've got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve it the way the wanted to resolve it," Obama added.

Earlier in the day Friday, the Cambridge and area police unions voiced their support for Crowley and called for an apology from Obama for his statement.

"His remarks were obviously misdirected but made it worse yet by suggesting somehow this case should remind us of a history of racial abuse by law enforcement," Dennis O'Connor, president of the Cambridge Police Superior Officers Association, said at a news conference.

O'Connor also referred to statements made by Governor Deval Patrick -- the state's first black governor -- who called the arrest "every black man's nightmare."

"Whatever may be the history, we deeply resent the implications and reject any suggestion that in this case or any other case that they've allowed a person's race to direct their activities. However we hope they will reflect upon their past comments and apologize to the men and women of the Cambridge Police Department," O'Connor said.

Obama has said he was surprised by the controversy sparked by his comments. White House spokesman Roberts Gibbs said early Friday that the president regrets that the media have gotten all worked up over the controversy and been distracted from other more substantive issues such as health care.

Obama's remarks sparked outrage among many police officers who say the criticism could make it harder for police to work with people of color and set back the progress of race relations that helped Obama become the nation's first black president.

Gates was arrested July 16 by Crowley, who was first to respond to the home the renowned black scholar rents from Harvard, after a woman reported seeing two black men trying to force open the front door. Gates said he had to shove the door open because it was jammed.

He was charged with disorderly conduct after police said he yelled at the white officer, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after Crowley demanded Gates show him identification to prove he lived in the home. The charge was dropped Tuesday, but Gates has demanded an apology, calling his arrest a case of racial profiling.

Obama was asked about Gates' arrest at the end of a nationally televised news conference on health care Wednesday night and began his response by saying Gates was a friend and he didn't have all the facts.

"But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry," Obama said. "No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And No. 3 -- what I think we know separate and apart from this incident -- is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately, and that's just a fact."

Gates: Acting like an Emotionally Disturbed Person

Obama Tilts Harvard’s Gates Bust Away From Reality:

July 24 -- President Barack Obama should have stopped himself from wading in when asked at his press conference Wednesday night about the arrest of his friend, Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Admitting he was short on facts, Obama plunged ahead. He declared police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates for disorderly conduct and then implied that he backed Gates in blaming racial profiling.

Obama’s account of the arrest was shockingly incomplete. A Harvard-trained lawyer should know the importance of facts, but this one threw the weight of the presidency behind conclusions based on half the story. He ignored what Gates did to escalate the incident. He ignored the dangers police face trying to protect us and our homes.

Yes, the sergeant who arrested Gates should have diffused the situation early on and walked away before bringing out the handcuffs. But to lay the whole blame on the police and suggest racial profiling was irresponsible and unfair to the officer.

Racial profiling surely exists. In fact, the white sergeant who arrested Gates has for five years taught cadets at the Lowell, Massachusetts, Police Academy how not to racially profile, according to the Boston Herald.

What happened to Gates could have happened if he had been a white man mouthing off to police.

You don’t have to read beyond Gates’s account to believe he was arrested for an offense the law books don’t list. It’s called contempt of cop, and occurs when an irate citizen challenges police authority.

Regardless of Race

You shouldn’t be arrested for giving police a little lip. But it happens regardless of race.

“It’s like an emotional reaction on the part of the officer,” says George DeAngelis, a retired El Paso, Texas, assistant police chief, citing a recent widely publicized example in his home town.

Consider the details of the Gates arrest, even if the president didn’t.

A woman walking by Gates’s house near Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at midday last week saw two men pushing in the front door and called 911. Police Sergeant James Crowley arrived and through the front door glass saw a man inside.

Gates had just returned after two days of traveling from China, sick with a bronchial infection, to find his door jammed. He asked his driver to help push it in. Hence the 911 call.

Crime in Progress

When Crowley spotted Gates inside, no doubt suspecting a crime in progress, he asked Gates to step outside to talk. Gates refused.

“The way he said it, I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association,” Gates said on a Web site he edits. “All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger.”

When Crowley told him he was investigating a possible break-in, Gates says he replied, “That’s ridiculous.’”

“This happens to be my house. And I’m a Harvard professor,” Gates said in that Web site account.

Crowley in his report says he asked Gates if anyone else was inside and was told “it was none of my business.” Gates “accused me of being a racist police officer” and added, “This is what happens to black men in America,” the report says.

Gates admits he accused the officer of bigotry, though the accounts differ as to when and how often.

His Own Home

Inside the house, Gates produced identification to prove he was in his own home and teaches at Harvard.

“It’s clear that he had a narrative in his head: A black man was inside someone’s house, probably a white person’s house, and this black man had broken and entered, and this black man was me,” Gates says.

Gates says he told Crowley he wanted to file a complaint against him. He asked for the sergeant’s name and badge number.

Whether Crowley complied depends on who you believe.

Either way, the whole thing careened out of control at that point. Perhaps if Crowley had calmly written down his name and badge number, it would have blown over.

Gates says his bronchial infection made raising his voice impossible.

But when the two emerged from the house, the cop says the professor was still yelling at him, saying, “I had not heard the last of him.”

If any profiling occurred, my guess is it was pegged to Gate’s profession, not his color. Surely Cambridge cops grow wary of Harvard professors acting like self-important jerks.

Bystanders Gather

With a handful of bystanders looking on, Crowley says he warned Gates he was becoming disorderly. This did not alter the professor’s conduct, according to Crowley’s report.

So the officer arrested a world-renowned scholar of African-American studies at the nation’s most elite university, handcuffed him and hauled him off to jail for about four hours.

Obama’s account leaves the impression the cop nabbed Gates for disorderly conduct because he couldn’t arrest him for burglary, signaling racial animus.

If I were black, I, too, would probably be on guard for racism in any dealings with white law enforcers. But by his own account, Gates was openly hostile.

I met Gates in 1995 while a journalism fellow at Harvard. He struck me as affable to white and black alike, which is how his colleagues describe him. I never could have guessed he would turn up in a mug shot.

‘Lose Face’

“Once you’re yelling at a police officer in front of the public,” says Peter Moskos, a criminologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, “it’s no surprise he got locked up. Cops don’t lose face.”

Minorities probably are disproportionately arrested for contempt of cop. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer concluded that in a report last year.

But in the Gates-Crowley encounter, only one of them indisputably had race on his mind from the start. And it wasn’t Crowley.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dis-charge -- Electric Vehicles DOA

Nissan Plans Both Electric, Hybrid Cars at U.S. Plant

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Nissan Motor Co., aiming to be the top seller of electric vehicles in the U.S., is hedging its bets.

Nissan will use a $1.6 billion U.S. loan to retool a Tennessee plant so hybrids and other fuel-efficient models can be made on the same line as battery-powered cars to keep from wasting capacity. Electric vehicle assembly will be phased in “to avoid under-utilizing the plant while the market is developing,” said Senior Vice President Andy Palmer.

Carmakers are readying electric vehicles in response to higher oil prices, demand for more fuel-efficiency and concerns over climate change tied to carbon exhaust. Even with U.S. aid to build and buy them, the higher cost and shorter driving range of electric vehicles may hold the total market to less than the 150,000 vehicles Nissan will be able to build at the factory.

“There is a risk that the plant may struggle to reach full capacity quickly,” said Ashvin Chotai, managing director of Intelligence Automotive Asia Ltd. in London. “A lot will depend on the price and affordability of the car and experience of initial users.”

Current costs for lithium-ion battery packs that can propel a car 100 miles (160 kilometers) are as much as $30,000, and may fall to about $15,000 by 2015 as production techniques improve, said Menahem Anderman, president of Advanced Automotive Batteries, a consulting firm in Oregon House, California.

Initial U.S. demand will be at least a total of 7,500 electric vehicles, or EVs, sold in model years 2011 through 2013, along with about 60,000 plug-in hybrid cars, due to requirements in California under its so-called zero-emission vehicle program.

Basically California

“I would suggest that the EV market in the U.S. will basically be the California regulatory requirement, plus perhaps 20,000 units,” Anderman said. “As long as the gasoline price is under $5 a gallon, there’s no real market for EVs.”

Gasoline cost an average $2.48 a gallon in the U.S. on July 17, according to the AAA, a drivers’ group. The price peaked at $4.11 a gallon on July 15, 2008.

Electric cars are an “emerging” market, Nissan’s Palmer, head of the company’s electric vehicle program, said via e-mail. The company plans to start making the exhaust-free cars in the U.S. by 2012.
The U.S. loan will also fund a lithium-ion battery factory next to the Smyrna plant that will make packs for as many as 200,000 cars a year.

Flexibility to make different types of advanced cars on one line will let demand “drive the optimum production balance between zero-emission and low-emission vehicles,” said Palmer.

Nissan rose 3.7 percent to 590 yen at the close of Tokyo trading. The shares have gained 84 percent so far this year.

Forecast Range

Industry forecaster CSM Worldwide predicts global electric vehicle output will rise to 132,067 in 2015 from 7,115 units this year, said CSM analyst Yoshiaki Kawano. An economic study from University of California, Berkeley, this month predicted electric vehicles will make up 64 percent of U.S. sales by 2030, assuming prices are held down by letting drivers lease battery packs that can be readily switched.

Competition in the market for low-pollution cars ranges from Toyota Motor Corp., the largest seller of gas-electric hybrids, Honda Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co., to new entries including California’s Tesla Motors Inc. and BYD Co., a Chinese car and battery maker backed by Warren Buffett.

The only electric vehicle sold in the U.S. approved for highway use is Tesla’s $109,000 Roadster. Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s electric i-MiEV minicar, sold in Japan for 4.6 million yen ($49,000), goes on sale in the U.S. next year.

Nissan said yesterday it will invest $700 million to build two plants in the U.K. and Portugal that will also make lithium- ion batteries for electric cars.

Ford, Tesla

Nissan on June 23, along with Ford Motor Co. and Tesla, was among the first companies to benefit from the Energy Department’s program to provide $25 billion in low-cost loans to fund production of highly fuel efficient autos in the U.S.

The aid is part of Congress’s 2007 energy bill to help automakers boost average fuel economy by about 40 percent, to 35 miles (56 kilometers) per gallon by. President Barack Obama moved up the fuel-efficiency deadline in May to 2016 from 2020. The U.S. also provides a $7,500 tax credit to consumers who buy electric cars.

Smyrna Factory

Nissan said it will use the federal cash refurbish its 26- year-old Smyrna factory. The plant has about 3,900 employees and capacity to make as many as 550,000 cars and light trucks annually, including the hybrid Altima sedan.

A version of the electric car Nissan will eventually build at the Smyrna plant is to be unveiled in Japan next month. Nissan has said the 5-passenger model goes 100 miles solely powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Limited sales begin in Japan and the U.S. next year.

To make the car more affordable, Nissan has said it may lease the battery pack to customers for about the same amount they’d spend annually on gasoline.

The loan “is specifically dedicated to the investment of EV and battery production in Smyrna,” said Palmer. “We are committed to becoming the leader in zero-emission vehicles.”

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Global Warming to the Rescue

If one warm winter will send oil prices down to $20 a barrel, then it seems low oil prices are likely to return for good if Global Warming is the threat its believers claim.

Imagine the spending boom resulting from oil at $20 a barrel added to warm winters when heating demands were low. How much money would we have for other purchases? Whooppee. Let's fill the tank on the SUV and head to the mall.

Verleger Sees $20 Oil This Year on ‘Devastating’ Glut

July 16 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil will collapse to $20 a barrel this year as the recession takes a deeper toll on fuel demand, according to academic and former U.S. government adviser Philip Verleger.

A crude surplus of 100 million barrels will accumulate by the end of the year, straining global storage capacity and sending prices to a seven-year low, said Verleger, who correctly predicted in 2007 that prices were set to exceed $100. Supply is outpacing demand by about 1 million barrels a day, he said.

“The economic situation is not getting better,” Verleger, 64, a professor at the University of Calgary and head of consultant PKVerleger LLC, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Global refinery runs are going to be much lower in the fall. If the recession continues and it’s a warm winter, it’s going to be devastating.”

Crude oil last traded at $20 a barrel in February 2002. Futures were at $61.18 today in New York, having recovered 89 percent from a four-year low reached last December. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is implementing record supply cuts announced last year in response to plunging consumption.

“OPEC don’t realize the magnitude of the cuts they need to make,” which would total about a further 2 million barrels a day, Verleger added. “Storage is going to become tight. It’s not clear if there’s going to be enough storage available.”

China, Inflation

Oil will average $63.91 in the fourth quarter, according to the median of analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. Crude for December delivery traded at $65.61 today in New York. Prices have rebounded on expectations of a demand recovery, led by China and other developing economies, and concern expansionary monetary policy would stoke inflation and weaken the dollar.

At the other end of the spectrum from Verleger, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicted in a report yesterday oil will rally to $85 a barrel by the end of the year, and recommended that clients buy futures contracts for delivery in December 2011.

“China is in a real desperate situation,” said Verleger, who publishes the Petroleum Economics Monthly. “We’re in a situation where U.S. consumers aren’t consuming and Chinese manufacturers get hurt. Economists are looking for growth in all the wrong places.”

Forward contracts for oil have been higher than prices for immediate delivery this year, a situation known as contango, creating incentives to buy crude now and store it. That may end as growing stockpiles make storage more expensive.

“Prices would be much lower today, but for the very large incentive to build inventories,” Verleger said. “You need forward buyers, which we had when people were fearing inflation, but as concerns turn toward deflation” that will no longer be the case.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Trump, the man with the orange hair

He's got cash flow. But not much equity. This character has been forced to hand over casinos, Trump Air, his shuttle airline, and his yacht. In the past two years the value of all his assets has dropped. What does that mean? It means his net worth has been squeezed to the point of disappearance. If he had to liquidate this year, he would undoubtedly owe creditors more than his properties would fetch. O'Brien's estimate is too high.

Judge throws out Trump lawsuit over his net worth

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A New Jersey judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit for defamation filed by Donald Trump against an author whose book gave an estimate of the real estate developer's wealth much lower than Trump's own.

Superior Court Judge Michele Fox rejected arguments by Trump's lawyers that he had been the victim of "actual malice" as a result of Timothy O'Brien's book "Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald" published in October 2005.

O'Brien, editor of The New York Times' Sunday business section, cited three confidential sources who estimated Trump's net worth at between $150 million and $250 million, much lower than Trump's own estimates of around $4 billion.

Fox said Trump had failed to prove that O'Brien knew the information from his sources to be false or had used the information recklessly.

"O'Brien reasonably believed they were accurate," the judge said in the opinion read to lawyers during a conference call.

Trump claimed his business and his reputation had been damaged by the book, which has sold about 17,000 copies. He told The Wall Street Journal in May that he was worth about $4 billion, down from an earlier estimate of $5 billion to $6 billion in early 2005.

Fox cited defense arguments that all three sources -- whose identities O'Brien declined to reveal, citing a law designed to protect journalists' sources -- had similar estimates of Trump's net worth. Fox noted that O'Brien had also included Trump's own estimate in the book but excluded the author's.

The plaintiffs contended that O'Brien did minimal investigation to support his claims, had a history of negative reporting about Trump, and ignored information provided by Trump's associates.

The judge declined to address the issue of damages, as the defendants had requested.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Seoul of a New Machine

If you want good products sold at attractive prices and made in America, then get a foreign manufacturer to move in. Toyota and Honda have done it. Now Kia is taking a shot. No doubt the Korean company will succeed.

Clearly the Koreans gained some important principles from the US as a result of the Korean War. The country has flourished since the commuist advance was stopped at the 39th Parallel and now it is returning the favor. Kia has arrived and is doing its part to repair and rebuild the US economy. Of course this means the profits from selling those Kias will flow back to the home office in Korea. But that's how is should be.

Kia-Ville, Georgia: A small town catches a big break

Jul 9th 2009

West Point, Georgia -- population 3,500 -- was a small town with big troubles. Although its 8.6 percent unemployment rate put it below the state average of 9.7 percent, it was still facing recessionary problems that seem all too common. When the town's textile mills closed in the 1990s, the population began to leak away and business began shuttering their doors; the recent downturn only accelerated its decline.

Recently, however, West Point received some very good news. Kia, the Korean carmaker, has announced plans to open a $1.2 billion, 2,200-acre industrial park.

The first new building -- a factory that will construct the Kia Sorento Sport -- has already hired 500 workers. By the time it opens, the carmaker hopes to have 2,000 more employees. With a proposed group of auto-parts factories that will employ 7,500 more workers, Kia plans to bring 20,000 jobs to the small town.

While Kia's move to Georgia is particularly significant, it's hardly uncommon.

Hoping to tap into tax breaks and regional pride, foreign auto manufacturers have increasingly begun moving their operations to the U.S., which tracks the degree to which cars are manufactured in the U.S., reports that only five of the top ten American-made cars are produced by Detroit's big three automakers. The rest, including the no. 1-ranked Toyota Camry, are Japanese-owned.

With foreign manufacturers increasingly creating American jobs -- and domestic carmakers like Chrysler getting bailed out by foreign manufacturers -- it's become almost impossible to draw a conclusive line between American and Japanese cars. It looks like toughest competitors of the American car industry may well be its ultimate saviors.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Two Degrees of Freedom -- then we're cooked

Gore: U.S. Climate Bill Will Help Bring About 'Global Governance'
Climate Depot Exclusive

Friday, July 10, 2009
By Marc Morano – Climate Depot

Former Vice President Al Gore declared that the Congressional climate bill will help bring about “global governance.”

“I bring you good news from the U.S., “Gore said on July 7, 2009 in Oxford at the Smith School World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment, sponsored by UK Times.

“Just two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey climate bill,” Gore said, noting it was “very much a step in the right direction.” President Obama has pushed for the passage of the bill in the Senate and attended a G8 summit this week where he agreed to attempt to keep the Earth's temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees C.

Gore touted the Congressional climate bill, claiming it “will dramatically increase the prospects for success” in combating what he sees as the “crisis” of man-made global warming.

“But it is the awareness itself that will drive the change and one of the ways it will drive the change is through global governance and global agreements.” (Editor's Note: Gore makes the “global governance” comment at the 1min. 10 sec. mark in this UK Times video.)

Gore's call for “global governance” echoes former French President Jacques Chirac's call in 2000.

On November 20, 2000, then French President Chirac said during a speech at The Hague that the UN's Kyoto Protocol represented "the first component of an authentic global governance."

Former EU Environment Minister Margot Wallstrom said, "Kyoto is about the economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide." Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper once dismissed UN's Kyoto Protocol as a “socialist scheme.”

'Global Carbon Tax' Urged at UN Meeting

In addition, calls for a global carbon tax have been urged at recent UN global warming conferences. In December 2007, the UN climate conference in Bali, urged the adoption of a global carbon tax that would represent “a global burden sharing system, fair, with solidarity, and legally binding to all nations.”

“Finally someone will pay for these [climate related] costs,” Othmar Schwank, a global tax advocate, said at the 2007 UN conference after a panel titled “A Global CO2 Tax.”

Schwank noted that wealthy nations like the U.S. would bear the biggest burden based on the “polluters pay principle.” The U.S. and other wealthy nations need to “contribute significantly more to this global fund,” Schwank explained. He also added, “It is very essential to tax coal.”

The tens of billions of dollars per year generated by a global tax would “flow into a global Multilateral Adaptation Fund” to help nations cope with global warming, according to the report.

Schwank said a global carbon dioxide tax is an idea long overdue that is urgently needed to establish “a funding scheme which generates the resources required to address the dimension of challenge with regard to climate change costs.”

'Redistribution of wealth'

The environmental group Friends of the Earth advocated the transfer of money from rich to poor nations during the 2007 UN climate conference.

"A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources,” said Emma Brindal, a climate justice campaigner coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

[Editor's Note: Many critics have often charged that proposed climate tax and regulatory “solutions” were more important to the promoters of man-made climate fears than the accuracy of their science. Former Colorado Senator Tim Wirth reportedly said, "We've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing — in terms of economic policy and environmental policy."]

Friday, July 10, 2009

Michael Murder Mystery

EXCLUSIVE: Jackson Patriarch Fears 'Foul Play' in Michael Jackson Death

Joe Jackson suspects "foul play" may have been involved in the sudden death of his son, Michael Jackson, he told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

Joe Jackson talks about his son's sudden death, and who should raise his kids.

Tthe 79-year-old Jackson family patriarch was dumbfounded when he learned his 50-year-old son was being rushed to the hospital after collapsing at home on June 25, he told ABC News' Chris Connelly in an exclusive interview at the Jackson family compound in Encino, Calif.

"I just couldn't believe what was happening to Michael," he said.

"I do believe it was foul play," Jackson added. "I do believe that. Yes."

The Jackson patriarch's claim comes as Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton suggested that the singer's death could be treated as a homicide if autopsy reports indicate that Jackson had been given illicit amounts of powerful prescription drugs.

You Dropped Something

He was not admiring her ass. And he did not bow to the Saudi king.

bin Laden in Brooklyn

Imitators of Islamic terrorists have surfaced in Brooklyn. In Ditmas Park, where an 8-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty was stolen and then beheaded in a video that is circulating on YouTube.

The clip reminds me of the video of Daniel Pearl's beheading in Pakistan. It seems to have been modeled on Islamic fundamentalist anti-western, anti-US terrorist productions. However, the use of the aluminum baseball bat on Liberty's head added a distinctly American touch. And the use of the electric saw to cut part way through Liberty's neck was an upgrade from the usual muslim method of severing a head with a big knife.

The electric saw and the hand saw also added a Home Depot feeling to the beheading.

A perplexing mystery. Is this video the product of some Islamic fundamentalists living in Little Pakistan on the other side of Coney Island Avenue? Or is it a red herring created to generate some anti-muslim sentiments in the neighborhood?

Is it possible there is a deranged person formerly associated with Vox Pop who might have perpetrated this act?

Meanwhile, it must have taken at least two people with a pick-up truck to manage this caper. People who knew exactly what it would take to move the statue. People who knew what held the statue in place.Any places along Stratford or Cortelyou have security cameras?

People commented on the theft and the video:

“Far too high production value…to be something slopped together by actual terrorists, who are typically far more concerned with *killing* **people** (e.g., Daniel Pearl)…”

Not to worry, Pearl’s beheader, Khalid Muhammad, was captured and has been singing to interrogators ever since. The persuasive power of some brief sessions of waterboarding. Meanwhile, it’s possible there are people affiliated with al-Qaeda living nearby. But it’s not too likely they’ll go further than producing a few harmless videos. After all, that’s the best bin Laden himself can do these days.

However, the slogans in the video – We Don’t Want Your Freedom and Death to America – are on the money when it comes to the way Islamic anti-American sentiments are phrased. Thus, the creators are competent imitators.And, as you and other knowledgeable people have said, this Decapitation of Liberty video was created by one or two people who know a little about video production.

Video 101. Where do you go for that in this area? High school? Brooklyn College? Brooklyn Community Access Television? BCAT offers great training in video basics. For about $100 you get all the training you need. Camera work, lighting, audio. Editing. Studio access. The works. And you can borrow BCAT’s equipment too. However, with today’s inexpensive hardware and software and a little trial-and-error, I suppose the determined videographer can probably master the basics at home without any help.

Home. The floor in the video might have been a basement floor. It looked like a plain cement floor. But considering the 200-pound weight of Lady Liberty and the headache of carrying her down a flight of stairs, the decapitation may well have occurred in a garage, near the vehicle used for transporting the statue.

One person wrote:

“Call me jaded, but... the idea that-- even in Brooklyn, in the middle of the night-- this 6-foot (larger?) statue was removed from the ground even with its newly-secured stakes, and NO one saw a thing...doesn't anyone at least suspect some strange publicity stunt out of all this?”

Is this person suggesting Vox Pop asked everyone with a window overlooking the coffee shop to hit the sack early on the night of the theft and ignore any sights and sounds coming up from the street while the statue was carted off?

That’s a Conspiracy Theory Sander Hicks would approve of.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Taking the Heat of Global Warming

Looks like India and China, with almost half the world's population, prefer economic development to punishing regulations. What a shock. Meanwhile, even if the average global temperature rises a degree or two or three, who will complain? The citizens of China? Of India? Residents of Africa? Will Americans notice a difference?

If the average global temperature actually rises two or three degrees, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere will also increase. What does that mean? It means more rainfall. More fresh water dropping from the sky, available for drinking, irrigating fields and increasing crop yields.

In Africa more fresh water is desperately needed for drinking and to increase food supplies. In fact, the US needs more for the same reasons. There's more of us every day and we're eating a lot.

How do we ensure our continuing abundance of food here in the US? We can import some of it like we import oil. Or we can grow more here. But that will take more water. However, we cannot import fresh water. We can easily clean and treat waste water -- recycle it -- but we cannot increase the world's supply of fresh water. Only Nature can to that.

Global Warming would help.

Poorer Nations Reject a Target on Emission Cut

L’AQUILA, Italy — The world’s biggest developing nations, led by China and India, refused Wednesday to commit to specific goals for slashing heat-trapping gases by 2050, undercutting the drive to build a global consensus by the end of this year to reverse the threat of climate change.

As President Obama arrived for three days of talks with other leaders of the Group of 8 nations, negotiators for 17 leading polluters abandoned targets in a draft agreement for the meetings here. But negotiators embraced a goal of preventing temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and developing nations agreed to make “meaningful” if unspecified reductions in emissions.

The mixed results underscored the challenges for Mr. Obama as he tries to use his first summit meeting of the Group of 8 powers to force progress toward a climate treaty. With Europe pressing for more aggressive action and Congress favoring a more restrained approach, Mr. Obama finds himself navigating complicated political currents at home and abroad.

If he cannot ultimately bring along developing countries, no climate deal will be effective.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

GM Opens Newest Showroom at the White House

GM's bankruptcy plan has been accepted and the old GM, now known as Motors Liquidation Co., can complete all pending sales of assets. Deals to sell Hummer, Saab and Saturn have been made.

Why is Motors Liquidation unloading these three lines? If there's no market for gas-chugging Hummers, what organization would want to own the Hummer operations and attempt to sell these vehicles, which, if a reader believes the noise, is equivalent to marketing unfiltered Camel cigarettes to school kids?

On the other hand, why would Motors Liquidation sell the Saturn division, which builds cars that travel more than 30 miles per gallon? Aren't vehicles like those the sort of vehicles right-thinking Americans are expected to drive?

Saab? It seems to fall somewhere in the middle. Quirky designs, Decent gas mileage. Niche market. Okay. The growth potential of Saab is probably close to zero. But Saturn? Seems like Saturn is on the right road. Hummer? Currently out of favor. But that will change when the price of oil shows signs of remaining low.

However, the most troubling part of this transaction is the position of the government -- us. The taxpayers are stuck with 61% of the company. That's more than a mere controlling interest. That's total dominance.

What can we expect from government ownership? The Obama version? The new GM will build cars like those from the Saturn division. Smaller high-mileage vehicles. It will build the Chevy Volt, an electric vehicle with a $40,000 price tag. It's designed to sit in showrooms forever. A few Hollywood liberals will buy them and praise them while virtually all other car buyers choose vehicles that travel a couple of hundred miles after each refueling. Refuelings that take less than five minutes.

How will the government react to poor sales of its products? Will it offer special financing to those who buy vehicles from its 61%-owned subsidiary? Will it offer other incentives to crowd out competitors lacking government muscle?

If the new GM fails to sell enough vehicles to pay its bills, what will the government do with its 61% stake? Sell it to the public? Or make it into the next Amtrak?

Here's my view: Expect the government to turn the White House lawn into a car lot. Expect Government Motors to pay buyers for bringing in old cars -- towing them, pushing them, or bringing them to the White House in parts -- then leaving in new cars bought with 100% borrowed money. Those borrowed funds offered with a negative interest rate. In other words, the balance of the loan will decline even though the buyer NEVER makes a monthly payment. That oughta give Government Motors the edge it will need.

Bankruptcy judge OKs GM sale plan

Judge approves General Motors plan to sell assets, automaker could emerge from bankruptcy soon

Monday July 6, 2009, 7:16 am

NEW YORK (AP) -- A bankruptcy judge has ruled that General Motors Corp. can sell the bulk of its assets to a new company, potentially clearing the way for the automaker to quickly emerge from bankruptcy protection.

U.S. Judge Robert Gerber said in his 95-page ruling late Sunday that the sale was in the best interests of both GM and its creditors, whom he said would otherwise get nothing.

GM's government-backed plan for a quick exit from Chapter 11 hinges on the sale, which will allow the automaker to leave behind many of its costs and liabilities. The Treasury Department has vowed to cut off funding to GM if the sale doesn't go through by July 10.

The Detroit car maker's Chapter 11 filing on June 1 was the fourth-largest in U.S. history.

GM will leave bankruptcy court with significantly reduced debt and labor costs, as well as fewer dealerships and brands. But it's still operating in an environment where fewer American are buying cars. At the current pace, automakers will sell around 9.7 million vehicles this year. That's a reduction from sales of more than 16 million vehicles as recently as 2007.

In June, the automaker captured 20.3 percent of the U.S. market. GM has estimated that it can maintain a market share between 15 and 17 percent, reflecting its plan to sell off three brands and end its Pontiac line.

GM has several new cars coming to market next year, including the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric car. The Volt might be a promising vehicle, but with an expected $40,000 price tag it might only be a niche player, said James E. Schrager, clinical professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Upcoming small-car models such as the Chevy Cruze and Spark may fare well, but will face heavy competition from foreign automakers already in that segment of the market and from Ford Motor Co.'s new Fiesta, which the company has already started advertising.

The company has received $50 billion in taxpayer funds. In exchange for those funds, the government will own about 61 percent of the "new GM."

The Obama administration has said it does not plan to interfere with the day-to-day running of the company, though government has been involved in the selection of the new company's 13-member board of directors and change of control transactions.

The United Auto Workers union, which gets a 17.5 percent stake through its health care trust for retirees, has selected Stephen Girsky, a former GM adviser and Morgan Stanley analyst, to serve on the board.

The Canadian government, which will control an 11.7 percent share, also will pick one member.

Assets that GM does not sell to the new company will become part of the separate "old GM," which the company said Monday will be known as Motors Liquidation Co., and will be sold to the highest bidder under court supervision.

Other assets to be filed under the old GM include brands like Hummer, Saturn and Saab, for which GM has lined up buyers. They also include all current GM common stock, which -- despite its active trading on over-the-counter markets -- will soon be worthless.

The old GM will remain an entity until all of the facilities are sold off, a process that could take months or years to complete.

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