Saturday, October 4, 2008

Post VEEP Debate

What's wrong? Palin got your tongue?

wink wink

Great News: iTunes will not be shuttered

From CNN:

Apple defeats music rate hike

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- It looks like Apple won't be closing the iTunes store because of a dispute with music publishers over royalties on downloaded songs.

The Copyright Royalty Board in Washington, D.C., today declined a request by the National Music Publishers Association to increase royalties from 9 cents to 15 cents on songs purchased from online music stores like iTunes.

Apple adamantly opposed the proposed 66% increase and threatened to shutter iTunes if it was approved. In a statement submitted to the board last year, iTunes vice president Eddy Cue said Apple didn't want to raise its 99 cents a song price or absorb the higher royalty costs itself.

Cue's statement was first reported by Fortune on Tuesday.

PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that Apple only makes about 10 cents a song in profit.

Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said the company was happy with the ruling. "We're pleased with the CRB's decision to keep royalty rates stable," he said.

The Copyright Royalty Board is a three-judge panel that oversees statutory licenses granted under federal copyright law. That includes royalty rates for music sales. The current case followed the expiration last year of a 1997 decision that had governed sales of so-called physical music products like CDs for a decade.

Thursday's decision will set royalty rates for the next five years.This is the board's first ruling on the digital sale of music.

Full CNN Story

Past two days

I've been too mad to even write about anything for the last two days.

1. Oink Oink, congress. Nothing like celebrating a Jewish Holiday by adding pork to a much needed bill.

2. Palin made it through the debate. Big fucking deal! That wasn't a debate. She is just as stupid during this function as she was with the interviews on CBS earlier this week. Anyone can read talking points. I needed to see depth; Depth that Biden couldn't go into because she refused to debate .. or even discuss the topic, but went out on her own little tangent.

3. Musical banks. This game is somewhat related to Musical Chairs, except in this game, the players include Citicorp and Wells Fargo. The chair is my bank Wachovia. The deal fell through with Citicorp and Wells Fargo was the next highest bidder. Now Citicorp is going to sue.

and finally ...

4. OJ Simpson has been trying to go to jail for years. He got his wish last night. I'll be glad when his name has disappeared from the news permanently. I'm over it.

New Rules: October 3, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Good News, Bad News

The bad news is that I'm just over IT.

The good news is that there are no storms in the Atlantic.

I mean, really. Did that have to put in yet another tax break in the Senate bill? Where is all this money going to come from ... and who gets this mysterious tax break anyway. Sheesh...

Plus, what other little gems did they put in it. Don't they know that the house bill didn't pass for what it did or did not have? And do they really think that us democrats are going to go along with all of this.

This has become yet another Republican tax break Albatross! When will the democrats learn not to bow to Republicans????

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cartoon Commentary: US Stock Market

The World's Response: Credit Crunch

After the worst day ever for the Irish stock exchange, on Tuesday, Ireland guaranteed all the debt and deposits of all domestic banks for two years, citing "a serious disturbance in the economy caused by the recent turmoil in the international financial markets."

Also on Tuesday India's central bank took the rarely comforting step of declaring that one of the nation's largest banks ICICI, had sufficient "liquidity to cover liabilities to its depositors." Meanwhile, the governments of Iceland, Norway and Sweden all jumped in to bail out local banks.

Also this week: A Chinese insurance company reeled from losses on its stake in Fortis, a bank bailed out by the Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg governments on Monday. On Tuesday, the Belgian government also came to the rescue of another big European bank, Dexia.

On Monday trading on Brazil's stock market had to be halted after stock prices plunged following the rejection of the bailout plan by the U.S. House of Representatives. On Tuesday, the Russian stock market also halted trading for two hours, and the government announced $50 billion worth of loans to Russian banks and corporations to help pay off foreign debts.

Full Salon.com article

Horny Goat Weed

A more natural solution to impotence.

LONDON (Reuters) - A Chinese herbal remedy called horny goat weed is a promising alternative to Viagra for impotent men, Italian researchers said on Monday.

The herb has long held a reputation as a natural aphrodisiac. The lab experiments, which did not look at whether the plant actually increases desire, could lead to new drugs to help men get erections, said Mario Dell'Agli, a researcher at the University of Milan, who led the study.

"This could be the natural Viagra," he said in a telephone interview. "The novelty is that we have synthesized a new molecule that one day may be able to replace Viagra."

Erectile dysfunction is a common condition worldwide, and drugs like Pfizer Inc's Viagra, Eli Lilly and Co's Cialis or tadalafil, and Bayer AG's Levitra or vardenafil, work by increasing blood flow to the genitals.

But the medicines, which inhibit an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5 that restricts blood flow around the body, including to the penis, can have side effects ranging from headaches, upset stomach and visual problems including blindness.

The Italian team looked for alternatives by studying a number of plants reputed to boost sexual performance.

After homing in on horny goat weed, the researchers modified a compound in the plant called icariin and found it blocked the erection-inhibiting enzyme as well as Viagra did.

Full Story

21st Century Pirates from Somali

There has been a shoot-out between Somali pirates on a hijacked cargo ship loaded with 33 tanks, the East African Seafarers' Association says.

The maritime group's Andrew Mwangura told the BBC three men where shot in a row over tactics.

Pirates seized the Ukrainian ship last week and have demanded a $20m (£11m) ransom to release it.

Mr Mwangura said the situation is very tense with the ship, the Faina, surrounded by US navy vessels.

US navy spokesman Lt Nathan Christensen said on Monday that destroyers and cruisers has been deployed within 10 miles (16kms) of the hijacked ship.

Full Report with Video via the BBC

Janet Jackson taken to hospital

Singer Janet Jackson was taken to hospital after falling ill shortly before a concert in Canada on Monday.

The 42-year-old had to cancel her Montreal show after she "got suddenly ill" during her sound check, her publicists said.

Jackson was being monitored at an unnamed hospital but no further details of her condition have been released.

The singer hopes to reschedule the concert, which was part of her North American tour.

Last Friday, Jackson cancelled the weekend Detroit stop of her Rock Witchu tour due to "production constraints". She recently also announced she is to leave record label Island Def Jam after just 14 months. Her first album with the label, Discipline, was released in February.

BBC Story

Country First GOP?

Thanks, Barney Frank! — GIVE 'EM HELL!

Whine, Whine, Whine.. that is all those Republicans do. Either lead, follow or get out of the way! Obama is coming your way!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Asia stocks fall after US failure

Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock index has fallen almost 5% in early trading, hours after a US financial rescue plan failed to gain Congressional backing.

The US House of Representatives on Monday rejected a $700bn (£380bn) plan aimed at bailing out Wall Street.

The Dow Jones index fell 7% and suffered its biggest ever one-day points fall, ending 778 down.

President George W Bush is to make a statement on the deadlock over the bail-out plan early on Tuesday morning.

A White House spokesman said that the president was "very disappointed" by the vote's result.

Congress will not meet again until Thursday, with another vote unlikely before the weekend, the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington says.

Full BBC Story

Horror in Maryland

Child bodies found in US freezer

Police in the US state of Maryland say they have found the frozen bodies of two children in the freezer of a house in Calvert County.

A 43-year-old woman told police the children were her adopted daughters and had been frozen since February.

The remains were found by authorities investigating reports of child abuse at the address.

The county sheriff's office told the BBC the woman was arrested and was being held without bail.

The authorities visited the house, in Lusby, on Saturday to investigate reports of abuse against a third child, a seven-year-old girl, who showed "signs of extreme abuse and neglect", the sheriff's department said. When police arrived at her house to look for evidence of the alleged abuse, they found the children's remains in a chest-style freezer.

The woman said that the remains were those of her adopted children and had been in the freezer since she had moved to the area in February, said police. She also admitted to hitting the seven-year-old with a "hard-heeled shoe".

Full BBC Story

PR: Wachovia Announces Bank Subsidiary Divestitures to Citigroup

From the Wachovia Website:

September 29, 2008
Wachovia Corporation to become a focused leader in retail brokerage and asset management.

CHARLOTTE, NC—Wachovia today announced intentions to sell its retail bank, corporate and investment bank and wealth management businesses to Citigroup. Wachovia Corporation will remain a public company with two main operating subsidiaries: Wachovia Securities, the nation's third largest brokerage firm, and Evergreen Asset Management, a leading provider of asset management services.

"During recent weeks, the financial landscape has changed significantly and presented us with unprecedented challenges," said Robert K. Steel, CEO and President of Wachovia. "Today's announcement is the best alternative for the company, enabling a resolution on the Golden West portfolio."

Under terms of the transaction, Citigroup will pay $2.1 billion to Wachovia and assume the senior and subordinated debt of Wachovia Corporation.

The transaction is expected to close before year-end. It has been approved by directors of both companies and is subject to shareholder approval of Wachovia and the appropriate regulatory approvals.

Customers of both companies should continue banking as usual, and feel confident that their deposits are secure. Also, employees and vendors should continue to operate business as usual.

At this time, there are no changes to Wachovia's board of directors and two Wachovia directors will join Citigroup's board.

Wachovia Corp. will remain headquartered in Charlotte, NC. Wachovia Securities will continue to be headquartered in St. Louis, MO. Citigroup will headquarter the retail bank in Charlotte and the investment bank in New York.

Wachovia's investment bankers were Goldman Sachs, Perella Weinberg Partners and Wachovia Securities, and its legal advisors are Sullivan & Cromwell and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

About Wachovia
Wachovia Corporation (NYSE:WB) is one of the nation's largest diversified financial services companies, with assets of $812.4 billion and market capitalization of $33.5 billion at June 30, 2008. Wachovia provides a broad range of retail banking and brokerage, asset and wealth management, and corporate and investment banking products and services to customers through 3,300 retail financial centers in 21 states from Connecticut to Florida and west to Texas and California, and nationwide retail brokerage, mortgage lending and auto finance businesses. Globally, clients are served in selected corporate and institutional sectors and through more than 40 international offices. Our retail brokerage operations under the Wachovia Securities brand name manage more than $1.1 trillion in client assets through 14,600 financial advisors in 1,500 offices nationwide. Online banking is available at wachovia.com; online brokerage products and services at wachoviasec.com; and investment products and services at evergreeninvestments.com.

Citigroup buying Wachovia banking operations

FDIC says Wachovia didn’t fail, and that all depositors will be protected.

NEW YORK - The government said Monday that Citigroup will acquire the banking operations of Wachovia in a deal facilitated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The FDIC says Wachovia didn’t fail, and that all depositors are protected and there will be no cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund.

The sale of Wachovia Corp. comes just days after the government’s seizure of Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc. — the largest bank failure in U.S. history.

Full MSNBC Story

Sleepy George W. speaks to Congress/Nation

A sleepy looking President came out at 7:35 am and spoke to the Nation this morning. As a one-person pep-rally, he urged congress to pass the bailout bill. He then turned on his heels and walked back to the Oval Office.

The neighbor's dog must have kept him up last night!

Wait... that was me..

Never mind.

Wachovia Update

Citigroup is near a deal for Wachovia, a move that would concentrate power within the nation’s banking industry in the hands of a few giant lenders, The New York Times’s Eric Dash and Andrew Ross Sorkin reported Monday morning.

Citigroup executives are meeting to complete the deal Monday morning, these people said, cautioning that the talks could unravel. Wells Fargo, which had also been in talks with Wachovia, could also revive its bid.

Although the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department were pushing for a sale, the government was resisting pressure to provide financial guarantees to the buyer, which both Citigroup and Wells Fargo had sought.

A sale to Citigroup would further concentrate Americans’ bank deposits in the hands of just three banks: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup would control more than 30 percent of the industry’s deposits.

NYTimes Story

World News: Shares slide despite rescue deal

President Bush is expected to talk to the nation about the economy at 7:30 am today. Of course, most of the nation will be driving to work at the time.

Meanwhile, in markets around the world ...

Shares in Europe and Asia have fallen after news of an agreement on a $700bn (£380bn) US finance sector rescue deal failed to calm investors' nerves.

Confidence was also hit by the part-nationalisation of finance group Fortis, and the nationalisation of UK lender Bradford & Bingley.

The main European share markets all fell sharply, with the UK FTSE 100 down 2.5% and Germany's Dax 2.8% lower.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed down 1.3%.

However, news that a US rescue deal was set to be approved boosted the dollar, which climbed strongly against the pound and the euro.

In early trade in Europe, the euro was down 1.8% against the dollar at $1.4344, while the pound fell 1.9% to $1.8094.

Full BBC Story.

From Secretary Paulson


The latest entry from SNL

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Actor Paul Newman dies at 83

Paul Newman, the legendary movie star and irreverent cultural icon who created a model philanthropy fueled by profits from a salad dressing that became nearly as famous as he was, has died. He was 83.

Newman died Friday at his home near Westport, Conn., after a long battle with cancer, publicist Jeff Sanderson said.

Full Los Angeles Times Story

My bank is in trouble!

Wachovia Corp. is in trouble. It purchased a bank that had questionable lending practices in 2006 and is now paying the price.

At least two major banks were reportedly in talks Sunday to buy Wachovia Corp., the latest U.S. bank to be the focus of investor anxiety over mounting losses tied to toxic assets.

The New York Times reported on its Web site that Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. are bidding in a possible emergency takeover of Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia.

The Wall Street Journal also listed Spain's Banco Santander SA as a possible bidder.

Wachovia spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown declined to comment on the reports, as did Citigroup spokeswoman Christina Pretto. Wells Fargo spokesmen could not be immediately reached for comment.

Wachovia's shares fell 27 percent in regular-session trading on Friday, and shed another 15 percent in after-hours dealings to end the week at $8.50, as investor worries heightened.

Wachovia's current problems stem largely from its acquisition of mortgage lender Golden West Financial Corp. in 2006 for roughly $25 billion at the height of the nation's housing boom. With that purchase, Wachovia inherited a deteriorating $122 billion portfolio of Pick-A-Payment loans, Golden West's specialty, which let borrowers skip some payments

But like many other banks, Wachovia stands to benefit from the passage of the government's proposed $700 billion rescue plan — the details of which were emerging from Washington on Sunday.

This summer, Wachovia reported a $9.11 billion loss for the second quarter, announced plans to cut 11,350 jobs — mostly in its mortgage business — and slashed its dividend. Wachovia also boosted its provision for loan losses to $5.57 billion during the second quarter, up from $179 million in the year-ago period.

Earlier this month, Wachovia said it is on track to reduce securities and outstanding loans on its balance sheet by $20 billion this year, which will free up $1.5 billion in capital.

Additionally, Wachovia still expects to reduce expenses by $2 billion by the end of 2009.

However, the second-half expense benefit will be more than offset by $525 million to $650 million in severance and benefit costs related to previously announced job cuts, Wachovia said.

AP Story via Yahoo! Business news

Blooms of Plunkett

Blooms of Plunkett
A Banana tree in the backyard in full bloom