September 21, 2005

It Takes an Extended Family, and a Village, to …..

Filed under: General,Soc. Sec. & Retirement,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:15 pm

…. allow death by neglect“:

EXCLUSIVE: GRAN STARVES TO DEATH
Ivy, 79, abandoned by family, friends and social services

A GRAN starved to death because her council home had no letterbox so her pension could not be delivered.

Penniless Ivy Allen, 79, had barely drunk or eaten in the last three months of her life.

None of her 10 children, 30 grandkids, social services or pensions officials noticed she was dying at her home in Warrington, Cheshire. Grandson Anthony Bradbury, 24, said: “I can’t forgive myself.”

Ivy Allen’s pension was sent back each week after the council gave her a new front door but failed to put a letterbox into it.

Penniless Ivy, 79, starved to death. There was not a scrap of food in the house when her emaciated body was found. None of the welfare agencies, nor her 10 children or 30 grandchildren were aware of her plight.

She was left broke when the door of her one-bedroom council bungalow was replaced without a post box. Her benefits book and giro cheques were returned by Royal Mail to the pensions office.

Officials there failed to tell anyone that she was not receiving any money.

Ivy’s family admit their failings in the months leading to her death but they are also angry that she was allowed to slip through the welfare net.

There May Be More “Black Tuesdays” in The New York Times’ Future

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 12:10 pm

Editor & Publisher has the details: 500 total job cuts at The New York Times Company, including 45 newsroom positions at The New York Times, and 35 newsroom positions at The Boston Globe.

I believe there will be more layoffs and financial problems at The Times Company in the next few years, not only because of problems in the news operations at The New York Times and The Boston Globe, but also because the About.com acquisition earlier this year will, barring an unforeseen breakthrough, take a heavy toll at some point on the company’s reported profits.

The Newsroom Problems Continue

I chronicled the Times Company’s problems with its flagship newspaper extensively here in mid-July, and had a piece in early August pointing to three big errors or omissions the paper committed in just one weekend.

Since then, things have only gotten worse:

  • Making hash of the recount rehash–Time Economics columnist Paul Krugman spent the better part of three weeks first essentially contending, then defending, the notion that Al Gore would really have won Florida in the 2000 election if all the votes had been counted fairly.
    Memo to Paul Krugman: Bush won, Gore lost. Subsequent exhaustive studies by media consortia that included The Times concluded that Bush would have won using 3 of the four counting methodologies for counting ballots. Bush’s margin in the three methods showing him ahead ranged from 363 to 1,665 votes. In the one instance where Gore would have “won,” using the method he actually least favored, his margin was 3 votes, which was, per USA Today “too small to conclude that Gore might have prevailed in an official count using this standard.”
    Further, these recounts did not consider a few thousand excluded military ballots, the large majority of which would have gone to Bush had they been counted.
    Along the way, Krugman made other absurd assertions too numerous to mention here. But the bigger question is this: What in the world was the Times’ economics columnist doing refighting a 5-year old battle?
  • Krugman has at the same time managed to create another calamity over The Times’ correction process. His varying claims over 2000 voting have gotten so confusing that The Times has had a difficult time running accurate corrections, or even forcing him to acknowledge that corrections are needed. As noted by Don Luskin at PoorAndStupid.com, Public Editor Barney Calame even called out Krugman and his employer on their failure to post full and accurate corrections…. and nothing has happened (actual NYT link appears to be behind their new subscription wall).
  • The Air America Radio scandal coverage blackout continues–The Times is getting scooped again and again in its own back yard on this story, and as a result its credibility as a reliable local and national news source continues to melt away.Four different news sources have built up this story for the past eleven weeks, none of them names The New York Times:
    1. The Gotham Community Gazette (second item at link) broke the original story about the Gloria Wise “loans” to Air America way backon July 5.
    2. The New York Daily News reported on the programs for seniors and children that were salvaged on July 26 by transferring the programs and services involved from the financiall on the brink Gloria Wise to other agencies.
    3. That high-flying media conglomerate temporary alliance of bloggers Brian Maloney (his Sept. 20 on AAR is here) and Michelle Malkin (her Sept. 15 piece is here) has been exposing a near-mountain of court records and other evidence, all of which point to not only wider knowledge of the Gloria Wise “loans” on the part of both AAR management and top host Al Franken, but also frantic efforts to pull off, as Brian characterizes it, “the ultimate in corporate CYA.”
    4. Finally, The New York Sun (their latest from Sept. 20 is here), the feisty right-of-center newcomer, has been moving the story ever since Brian started the national ball rolling in July.

    Meanwhile The Times has been in total snooze mode on this story. Times web site searches (require registration) on “Air America” and “Gloria Wise” show that the paper has published nothing about the scandal since August 12. Even that perfunctory piece required a Michelle Malkin-driven correction on August 13.

    I’d be tempted to resend these directions for the 1.5-mile trip from The Times to Air America’s headquarters The Times originally received in early August, but with the 45 newsroom job cuts, there probably isn’t anyone available to go there.

About.com: Did The Times Company Get Taken to the Cleaners?

But even if The Times Company straightens out the messes at its two main newspapers (there are similar problems at The Boston Globe too numerous to mention here), and even it is successful in its $50 per year Times Select service that began on September 19, it faces a new problem: It appears to have way, way overpaid for its purchase of About.com earlier this year, and, if true, it will eventually have to face the accounting and financial music.

According to The Times’ June 30 quarterly financial statement (the “10-Q” report submitted to The Securities and Exchange Commission), the company paid $410 million for About (“an Internet property providing information on various topics of interest”), or $343 million more than its identifiable value consisting principally of content and customer lists. That $343 million is being carried as Goodwill (see pages 7 and 13 of the document), and will only continue to have value if About generates sufficient revenue and income to justify the valuation.

Well, the first full quarter of results for About as a Times-owned entity have been disclosed. Excuse me if I’m not blown away (see page 20 of the document):
- Revenue: $12.0 million (almost all “from the sale of advertisements (display and cost-per-click advertising”)
- Operating profit: $2.5 million (note that this is BEFORE shared administrative and management costs)

They’re kidding, right? They paid $410 million for a roughly $50 million annual revenue stream and about $10 million in annual profit before the expense of overseeing the operation? What in the world were they thinking?

The Times appears to be banking on the idea that About will generate a great deal more ad revenue over time and that there will be some kind of synergy between its newspapers and About’s content. This is a dubious bet. Blogs and other web sites are taking in much of the new web ad revenue. About seems from here to be a tired set of self-help sites that are nice to have around, but that don’t have the ability to generate passionate user loyalty the way that blogs, forums, and similar sites do. It seems unlikely to me that highbrow Times readers will click over to About sites for personal improvement and other information.

What I believe is likely to happen with About: A big writedown or perhaps a complete writeoff of that $343 million in Goodwill in 2-3 years, once it becomes clear that About will never be the cash generator or synergistic partner The Times somehow thought it would be.

The Enviro “Coalition of the Seething” Won’t Be Pleased

Here’s a story about a ruling by a judge who knows the judiciary’s place (HT Porkopolis):

ALBANY, N.Y. — A lawsuit filed by eight states aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions from some of the country’s largest power producers was dismissed by a federal judge Thursday.

The states, including New York, sued five companies that own 174 fossil fuel-burning power plants, claiming that they contribute to the problem of global warming.

But U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan said that in asking the court to set CO2 reductions, the states want the judiciary to craft wide-ranging environmental policies that would affect the economy, national security and foreign policy. She said such “political” decisions should properly be considered by the president and Congress.

“Cases presenting political questions are consigned to the political branches that are accountable to the people, not to the judiciary,” Preska wrote.

Imagine that.

Of course the crybaby Attorneys General, including gubernatorial wannabes Elliot Spitzer of New York and Bill Lockyer of California, will appeal, but (excuse the expression) what a breath of fresh air from the bench.

FYI: The companies sued were American Electric Power Co., Southern Co., Xcel Energy Inc., Cinergy Corp., the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Why is “Coalition of the Seething” in the post title? It’s a great tag given to the enviros by Tim Ball at Tech Central Station (bolds are mine), whose last two sentences in the passage below make up the Quote of the Day:

The banner “STOP CLIMATE CHAOS” was unfurled in London earlier in September to announce a new coalition of eighteen social and environmental groups including Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Friends of the Earth, People and Planet. What the banner should say is “STOP THE POLITICAL EXPLOITATION OF CLIMATE CHAOS”.

The coalition is a desperate collective response to the collapse of Kyoto, cynically coincident with hurricane Katrina. It’s a response to the view that the G8 nations didn’t listen or act properly; to the better and more workable plans of the US energy policy; and to the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development that includes 45% of the world’s population. The environment and especially global warming are seen as an opportunity to defeat the democratic, free trade, and capitalist view of the world. The battle for a single worldview is being won but not as anticipated.

Thanks to the Tony Blair-driven death of The Kyoto Treaty, and while the desperate AGs look around for an appellate judge who might ignore The Constitution and overturn Ms. Preska, the world’s program of economic growth, the best and surest way to lift the greatest number of the world’s people out of poverty, can now resume.

Positivity: Billionaire traded materialism for true happiness

Filed under: Business Moves,Positivity — Tom @ 6:05 am

Excerpts from USA Today Interview of Thomas Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, who now focuses on philanthropy and his faith:

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NOLA Survivors’ Survey Shows Impressive Resilience; WaPo Breezes Past It

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 6:00 am

To me, the key survey question/request (from actual survey [PDF format] of 680 adult Katrina evacuees in Houston shelters Sept. 10-12) was this:

Please tell me if any of the following words describe your feelings about your future.

Continue on for the responses (percentages):

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