January 23, 2006

Excuse Me? What Are They Called?

UPI really blew this report:

Animal-rights activists indicted in Oregon

The Department of Justice said Friday it has indicted 11 animal/environmental rights activists on terrorism charges.

The 65-count indictment, which was handed down yesterday by a grand jury in the District of Oregon, charges members of Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front with numerous instances of arson, attempted arson, conspiracy to commit arson, use and possession of a destructive device and destruction of an energy facility.

The crimes took place in at least five states and resulted in millions of dollars in damages, federal officials said.

Activists?

Attention UPI: The proper name is Eco-Terrorists.

Kelo Sands Springs Update:
Double-Speak Obscures the Ugly Truth

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:09 pm

Yesterday, LifeLike Pundits claimed that the story underlying this previous post is a “hoax,” and excerpts a Tulsa World article that is not available to non-print subscribers without a paid subscription:

SAND SPRINGS — A church that lies in the path of Sand Springs’ proposed Keystone Corridor redevelopment project is being cited nationally as an example of government flexing its power of eminent domain to take property for private commercial use.

But there’s a problem with the National Review Online’s assertions, city officials said: The city hasn’t filed any condemnation action against Centennial Baptist Church, nor does it intend to.

“There’s no eminent domain action going on against any properties there,” City Manager Loy Calhoun said. “No actions, no intents — nothing like that’s been done in the area.”

But this e-mail I received this morning from Louis Red Corn at Tulsa World in response to my request for clarification shows that the fact that an eminent-domain condemnation action hasn’t been filed, or that there is no “intent” to file, is really a distinction without a difference:

i am unclear on what you want from me. Clarification about what? I can tell you that no eminent domain action has been filed against that church (or against two other churches and a host of houses and businesses), though it is certainly understood that the city of (I assume she meant “is”) determined to get the church property. and I believe that the O’Reilly Auto Parts store is actually slated for demolition.

I have utterly no control over our website and how stories are released. Sorry about that. I am not fond of subscription sites myself, but the higher ups here take their copyright very seriously.

So now it’s more than one church (the status of the O’Reilly store has been changed to “UNCLEAR” in the original post).

Look, folks, it’s the threat of eminent domain and the fact that Kelo makes it easier for the government to take control of property that is the important thing here, not whether the actual eminent-domain filings have occurred, or for that matter whether they ever will occur.

Of course, the Vision 2025 implementers (who are, remember, “determined” to get the properties) don’t “intend” to file eminent domain, unless there’s resistance, and of course they hope there is none. Thanks to Kelo, it becomes more likely that there will be no resistance, because the chances of beating an eminent domain action have been lowered to near-zero. Only someone who is willfully blind would conclude that if the church, now churches, end up selling under government-induced duress (and let’s not forget the targeted houses and businesses), that the Supreme Court’s Kelo ruling will have had nothing to do with it.
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UPDATE: I received a copy of the Tulsa World article in an e-mail, and it does indeed state that two other churches are involved, or, as Ms. Red Corn writes, “destined to be cleared.”
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UPDATE 2: I e-mailed Heather Wilhelm of Americans for Limited Government, the author of the National Review Online article that led to my first post on the Sand Springs situation, and received this response. It (of course) confirms that the eminent-domain threat is the government’s trump card:

On Friday, the city issued a rather amusing press release denying that eminent domain was in play. Their reason? It hasn’t happened….yet.

I’m quoting from them directly:

    “We are working with the residents, business owners, churches and other interests involved to reach acceptable purchase offers for their properties,” said City Manager Loy Calhoun. “It is the goal of the City Council and the Sand Springs Development Authority to complete the acquisition process voluntarily…Eminent domain has not occurred and could only occur as a last step.”

The reverend has been told-—at city council meetings and, now, in a Meeting that he has on tape-—that this is a done deal, and that the only thing under negotiation is the price.

If this isn’t eminent domain, that would be fabulous news–because it would mean that the reverend gets to keep his church. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as he’s been told repeatedly.

UPDATE, Jan. 24: Received this today in an e-mail from Tim Farley, who I verified is the managing editor of the Sand Springs Leader –

City manager Loy Calhoun has never ruled out eminent domain. In fact, a story published in our paper on Sunday quotes Calhoun as saying eminent domain has not been ruled out and neither has the idea of leaving the church alone and letting the development occur around it.

It does remain a possibility if things can’t be worked out. For any city official to say it won’t occur is irresponsible.

FYI: Calhoun announced his resignation a couple of weeks ago and will be leaving his job at the end of June.

BizzyBlog’s Four-Ingredient Recipe for Long-Term Stock Market Souffle

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 9:45 am
  1. Have a large majority of companies meet or beat earnings expectations.
  2. Make tax cuts permanent (better phrased as “lock in current tax structure”), including the end of the death tax.
  3. Repeal the most onerous provisions of Sarbanes Oxley, especially for smaller public companies.
  4. Enact meaningful entitlement reform involving individually controlled Social Security investment accounts and Health Savings Accounts for both Medicare AND Medicaid.

Recipe assumes oven temperature (monetary policy) is kept within an acceptable range, and protection of the oven from sudden disruptions (terrorist attacks, major storms, or crippling class-action litigation).

Current status of ingredients:

  • First ingredient — Present, so far, with little doubt that this week’s announcements will on the whole change things.
  • Second ingredient — Absolutely essential (WSJ subscription required) for an up market to occur. That’s why it’s good that the President reminded us in his Saturday radio address that the economy is doing pretty well, but that the current tax structure needs to be made permanent to take a lot of uncertainty that business planners face out of the equation.
  • Third ingredient — Required for an up market to last more the 18-24 months. Lack of this ingredient will cause market to run out of steam because of Sarbox’s increased costs and inhibitions on risk-taking and innovation.
  • Fourth ingredient — Required if the up market is to last more than 3 years. Lack of this ingredient in the next 12-24 months may cause the markets to realize that the US is not serious about avoiding the fates of Germany and France. Souffle may not rise again for many years.

Add ingredients when available. Watch rise in accordance with ingredients added.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ Links (012306)

Free links:

  • Boy, was this news quiet — “Consumer Sentiment Improved in January.” For the third straight month. And there’s that phrase again: “beat expectations.”
  • A threat to entertainment industry technology development? Looks like it (HT TechDirt).
  • Music Sales Booming on the Internet — Music download worldwide sales “hit $1.1 billion last year, triple 2004 sales and accounting for 6% of global record company revenues.” See previous item. If the industry had its way, this new form of entertainment delivery might never have become a commercial reality.
  • Theater operators, in a hole, decide to dig deeper. They’re pouting because of planned simultaneous theater and DVD releases of the film Bubble. It’s a problem, but refusing the show the film doesn’t seem like an answer.
  • Hollywood stars are taking pay cuts because their industry has been in a funk — no tears, please, as whay they’re still making would be reason to consider retiring instantly for most of us.
  • Wireless phones and cancer risk (HT TechDirt) — In a nutshell: “no connection” (unintentionally very bad pun), but (of course-ugh) “epidemiological studies could never show there was no risk of an activity, they could only suggest there was no raised risk.” Whatever.
  • This idea has a lot more traction than I thought: “Group gathers signatures in support of Hotel Souter” — “A group of Weare, NH residents calling themselves the Committee for the Preservation of Natural Rights already has gathered the 25 signatures required to place the seizure measure on the town ballot in March.” As a reprisal for his majority-making vote in the Kelo decision, the idea is to require the town to seize Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s farmhouse and develop a “Hotel Lost Liberty” on the property. It’s gone past the idle chatter stage. Stay tuned.
  • Jonathan at Chicago Boyz has a surefire idea for getting the attention of a salesperson at Best Buy: Start taking pictures. I’d argue it’s the ONLY way to get their attention. And you still haven’t solved the problem of finding someone who has the slightest idea of what they’re talking about.
  • You can’t make this up“University of Florida employees have to pledge that they’re having sex with their domestic partners before qualifying for benefits under a new health care plan at the university…… The enrollment process began this month, and some employees have expressed concern about an affidavit that requires a pledge of sexual activity ….. (in it they have to say that they) have been in a non-platonic relationship for the preceding 12 months. (UF’s Human Resource Director Kyle) Cavanaugh said he had no plans to personally enforce the sex pledge.

Requires free registration:

  • New York Moves to Limit Colleges That Seek Profit — We can’t have that now, can we? Meanwhile, next door in Massachusetts, “non-profit” Harvard had an endowment of $25.9 billion in 2005. Assuming a year at Harvard costs $50,000 with everything included (the official undergraduate grand total is about $45,000), Harvard could spend $1 billion per year out of that endowment, and give each of their roughly 20,000 graduate and undergraduate students a totally free education for the next 25.9 years (and that’s assuming the endowment has no investment earnings in the meantime)!

Positivity: Plane’s Pilot and 2 Passengers Saved when PLANE Parachute Deploys

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:07 am

If I were ever to decide to become a pilot (not likely), I would want this on my plane (bold is mine):

Three Survive Plane Crash When Pilot Deploys Parachute
Plane Crashes In Woods Near Childersburg
UPDATED: 11:34 pm CST January 13, 2006

CHILDERSBURG, Ala. — A pilot and his two passengers are safe after their plane crashed in the woods near Childersburg Friday afternoon.

The Federal Aviation Administration said that at about 2:30 p.m., pilot Kerwin Day of Smyrna, Ga., told air traffic control his Cirrus SR-22 was in trouble.

“The pilot reported a problem with the aircraft at an altitude of about 7,000 feet, but we don’t have any information about the destination yet. But, of course, air traffic always directs flights to the closest airport whenever there’s a problem,” FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

The plane crashed in the woods. Aviation news reports said the pilot experienced severe icing on the airplane, causing a loss of control.

Day did something pilots in other aircraft cannot. He pulled a lever and deployed the SR-22′s parachute system.

“Cirrus is the only general aviation aircraft that provides a parachute for the aircraft, not for the passengers but for the aircraft, that deploys in the event of an emergency, and in this case, the pilot popped the chute and was able to get on the ground and all three people are fine,” Bergen said.

Cirrus company officials are ecstatic.

“This is how we think any aircraft incident should come to a close, with somebody getting on a cell phone and calling home for a ride, as opposed to a catastrophic ending where we have very sad families on board,” said Bill King, the vice president of business administration for Cirrus Design Corp.

Cirrus officials said the SR-22 is the best-selling plane in the world. It is equipped with its Caps parachute system since 1999, and in that time, pilots have deployed their parachutes six times. To date, 12 lives have been saved, including three Friday.

From the Cirrus web site:

When activated, the life-saving CAPS™ system launches a 55-foot diameter parachute that lowers the airplane to the ground while suspended securely beneath the parachute. The security and peace-of-mind provided by CAPS™ is unequalled, and comes standard with all CIRRUS aircraft as part of our role as the industry’s safety leader.

Also, there’s a Wikipedia entry.