Archive for July 2007
Warning from Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch:
Subprimes downgraded. Will Moody’s downgrade America’s debt next? Actually, that’s already happening; our credit rating is collapsing with the dollar.
Foreign banks are dumping dollar reserves, while we gorge on cheap toys and bad pet food. Actually, our biggest “terrorist” threat is internal: Distorted values are downgrading our nation’s “creditworthiness.” We’re like out-of-control kids with stolen credit cards, spending our future with no plans to repay.
Recently Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs (International), appeared before the U.S. House Budget Committee to “discuss an issue of great economic, financial and national security importance to our country — the growing dependence of the United States on foreign capital.” Currently we import $1 trillion new debt annually, with no repayment plans. That’s a historic break from over two centuries of American policy.
Hormats was in Washington with warnings from his brilliant new book, “The Price of Liberty: Paying for America’s Wars.” He traces the history of American wartime financing from the Revolution through the War of 1812, the Civil War, the two World Wars and the Cold War to the present.
Conclusion: “One central, constant theme emerges: sound national finances have proved to be indispensable to the country’s military strength” and long-term national security.
A BP (BP) refinery in Indiana will be allowed to continue to dump mercury into Lake Michigan under a permit issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
The permit exempts the BP plant at Whiting, Ind., 3 miles southeast of Chicago, from a 1995 federal regulation limiting mercury discharges into the Great Lakes to 1.3 ounces per year.
The BP plant reported releasing 3 pounds of mercury through surface water discharges each year from 2002 to 2005, according to the Toxics Release Inventory, a database on pollution emissions kept by the Environmental Protection Agency that is based on information reported by companies.
The permit was issued July 21 in connection with the plant’s $3.8 billion expansion, but only late last week began to generate public controversy. It gives the company until at least 2012 to meet the federal standard.
The action was denounced by environmental groups and members of Congress.
“With one permit, this company and this state are undoing years of work to keep pollution out of our Great Lakes,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., co-sponsor of a resolution overwhelmingly approved by the House last week that condemned BP’s plans.
The supersonic F-35 Lightning II is the military’s next-generation strike fighter. It flies so fast that the speed is classified.
Pratt & Whitney has the government contract to make the jet’s high-performance engine. But your tax dollars are also paying for GE to develop a spare engine — and it has cost you $1.6 billion so far.
The idea is that if GE and Pratt & Whitney compete, they’ll build better engines that cost less and end up saving money. But here’s where it really gets interesting: The military doesn’t want the alternate engine. The Air Force and two independent panels have concluded it’s “not necessary and not affordable” and that the supposed savings from competition “will never be achieved.”
So why did Sen. Ted Kennedy personally earmark $100 million tax dollars for the project this year alone? He wouldn’t agree to an interview, but part of the answer has to do with where it could be built: at GE’s Massachusetts plant in Kennedy’s home state — where it would bring jobs.
Kennedy is not the only one who wants to spend your tax money on the project. So does Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.
“The military says we don’t want it. It’s not going to save money in the long run. Why should taxpayers fund it?,” asks CBS News Capitol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
Just came from endocrinologist: HbA1c at 5.9%, just at the top of the “normal” range. Liver enzymes, blood pressure, cholesterol all good. Need to lose weight and exercise more. I think a lot of the good control is my avoidance of high-sugar, high-refined starch foods. I also avoid potatoes, which send my blood glucose up. (Not true for everyone, of course.) Lots of whole grains, veggies, etc.
Interesting article from FindLaw by Anthony J. Sebok, a FindLaw columnist and a Professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City:
Last week, the British government agreed to introduce a new law titled the “Corporate Manslaughter Statute.” This law is remarkable because it attempts to make companies–not persons–criminally responsible for deaths caused by a firm’s gross negligence. In this column, I will examine the law’s structure, its history, and finally, I will ask how American law approaches the same problems the Corporate Manslaughter Act is designed to solve.
The Corporate Manslaughter Act
The British law allows the state to prosecute a corporation or partnership (an “organization” for short) for the crime of manslaughter if the organization causes the death of a person as the result of its “gross” breach of a duty owed under the law of negligence. However, in order for the state to prove its case, it must prove that a substantial element of the gross breach of duty resulted from the way in which the organization’s activities were “managed or organised by its senior management.”
The penalties for violating the act are quite interesting. First, a court can impose unlimited financial penalties on the organization, once it is convicted. Second, a court may issue a “publicity order,” which requires the organization to publicly announce (through advertisements, it seems) that it has been successfully prosecuted for corporate manslaughter and is subject to any other penalties the court may have ordered.
The third and final potential penalty is that the court can order the organization to publicly take remedial steps to correct the conditions that led to the breach of duty. This penalty could have potentially far-reaching consequences, depending on how the courts choose to interpret it. For example, under this remedy, suppose a court decides that a design defect was the result of conscious indifference to the safety of others (such as in the famous Ford Pinto case). The court could simply order a manufacturer to change the design of their product–a power that no American court currently possesses.