September 1, 2006

ISP Problems

Filed under: Economy,General,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:19 pm

Access has been spotty since Wednesday, got really bad today, and probably will stay that way until tomorrow, since the problem, after replacing a faulty modem, is “outside flaps,” and not “packet loss.” Pages simply don’t totally load, and I never know when something I do will simply fail to move over “the tubes.”

This explains why I didn’t, as I intended, comment on the employment release early today. (So here’s the comment: It was good, not great, but better than the “slowing economy” meme the press has been beating on would have led you to believe)

The fifth visit by a Time Warner person will take place at the poles while I sleep in the wee hours of the morning, so maybe the all-clear will be in place during the day tomorrow.

I apologize for the slow posting of and response to comments. I’m caught up on comments at the moment, but will probably get behind again over the weekend. Thank goodness WordPress lets you post entries into the future, and that I got most of the weekend work done on Thursday.

Friday Upbeat Econ Sendoff

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:47 pm

From AP via Fox News:

WASHINGTON — Rising incomes should support the U.S. economy even as the housing market slows and consumers lose the boost they were getting from home equity, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a letter released on Wednesday.

I hope Bendable Ben is right.

Mob Rule in Michigan Requires Repudiation at the Polls

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:35 pm

In a Thursday OpinionJournal.com, Terrence Pell, President of the Center for Individual Rights, describes the extreme actions those who want to preserve “affirmative action” in Michigan have taken to intimidate those who oppose it. The same group was involved in mob-like coercion in December, as noted at this previous post.

He also describes a judge’s disgraceful ruling that has the potential to open a Pandora’s box of troubles in future elections, which is an important issue and jusitifies reading the whole column. But I want to focus on the outrageous actions of affirmative-action defenders:

….. Just a few weeks before the deadline for Proposal 2 to get onto the state ballot, the “Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary” (BAMN, loosely) argued that the signature gathering process used to qualify the referendum was tainted by racially targeted fraud. From the beginning, BAMN has claimed the initiative disguised an anti-black and racist agenda. But because many black individuals had signed the petition, BAMN had to show they’d been duped.

So the group launched an “investigation.” They systematically called and personally visited blacks who’d signed the petition. In some cities, they had friendly talk show hosts read the names of black signers over the radio. In all cases BAMN’s message was the same: How could you, a black person, sign a petition to roll back affirmative action?

BAMN’s high-pressure tactics worked. Some signers and even gatherers decided they’d been deceived. In some cases they recalled being told that the petition was to “support affirmative action” and to help get their “children into college.” Using pre-printed affidavits (some “signed” over the phone), BAMN collected statements from dozens of individuals and started a legal campaign to get the referendum pulled.

BAMN’s claims were hardly credible. The Michigan constitution explicitly guarantees the right of citizens to put issues on the ballot, so long as they can collect signatures of registered voters equal to 10% of the last gubernatorial election. And, in accordance with state law, the language of the referendum was printed in full at the top of each signature page, so that voters had the opportunity to read it for themselves.

BAMN has taken a famous legal proverb even one step further:

If the law is on your side, pound on the law; if the facts are on your side, pound on the facts; if neither is on your side, pound on the table.

Now the last phrase is apparently “pound on, threaten, and intimidate your opponents.”

In a saner world, BAMN would be embarrassed about its behavior.

Since they aren’t, they must be (figuratively, of course) trounced at the polls.

Paul Hackett and Cindy Sheehan: One Person’s Crystal Ball Needs Adjustment

From an August 20, 2005 entry at Hammer Of The Blogs (scroll to about halfway through the post; HT OH02):

Last night’s return of Real Time With Bill Maher was certainly welcome. I found myself very impressed with Paul Hackett. Hackett was a last-minute substitution for Cindy Sheehan, as Sheehan had to hustle back home to care for her ailing mother. As it turns out, Hackett will prove to have been the better choice anyway. Eventually Sheehan has to go back home for good and try to get on with her life, and the people who are currently so outraged about her will forget her name by Christmas.

Hackett, on the other hand, has a real political future ahead of him — he’s funny, smart, engaged, and unafraid to speak his mind.

Methinks Mr. Hammer, aka J. Heywood, got his wires crossed.

Cindy Sheehan hasn’t exactly “gone back home” –

KILLEEN, Texas — A year and a half after going AWOL before his second deployment to Iraq, a soldier surrendered at Fort Hood on Thursday with a dozen war protesters by his side.

Army Spc. Mark Wilkerson said he was tired of running and sought help from Cindy Sheehan’s protest camp in nearby Crawford, which helps educate soldiers about their rights as war resisters.

Meanwhile, Hackett, who on occasion shows fleeting signs of political maturity, may have ended whatever hopes he might have for political office with his performance on the O’Reilly Factor Wednesday (guest hosted by John Kasich). Hackett went after former Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) spokesman Dan Senor personally, calling him an “unterfuhrer” (HT to Dean Barnett at Hugh Hewitt’s place and Hot Air, which also has a video clip that should be around long after Fox takes down theirs):

PAUL HACKETT: Well, first of all John, suggesting that the whole bottom would fall out implies that somehow it hasn’t fallen out. I mean, to have Herr Senor on your set as a military expert is somewhat of a joke. He knows absolutely nothing about the military, he’s never served in the military, he’s never been professionally schooled in the military.

KASICH: Who are you talking about Paul, is that me?

HACKETT: I’m talking about your guest, little Unterfuerher (sic) of Propaganda, Mr. Senor there who’s an apologist for the failings of the CPA. I mean he ought to be ashamed of his service or lack of service with the CPA, because that’s what got it all started.

Talk about stepping in it (last para at link), Hackett was unaware of this:

Senor, 33, spent a year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and keeps kosher. His mother is a Holocaust survivor, and he related the current psychological conditions of the Iraqis recovering from the horrors they have witnessed to Holocaust survivors like his mother.

Ignoring time-tested advice (“when in a hole, stop digging”), Hackett went on Mark Levin’s radio show and, when handed an opportunity to apologize on a silver platter, said he didn’t regret his remarks (audio available at Hot Air), even in light of Senor’s mother’s wartime experience.

Add the O’Reilly episode and Levin follow-up to the already crowded “Hackett unhinged” file:

  • Go to Updates 2, 4, and 5 at this post for past gems.
  • Go here for “truth comes out” quotes that probably caused Hackett to lose the 2nd Congressional District Special Election in August 2005.
  • And don’t forget that Hackett, in what has to be one of the most under-reported stories of the year, strongly criticized Democrat Congressman John Murtha in June over Murtha’s criticisms of Marines at Haditha, and in general (HT Project Logic) –

    Hackett also is irritated at Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Marine veteran who has been briefed by military officials on the Haditha deaths and has said that U.S. troops “overreacted because of the pressure on them.” Hackett said Murtha is feeding an image of traumatized, out-of-control soldiers like characters in the movies “Rambo” and “The Deer Hunter.”“With one broad stroke, he’s recklessly indicted all those Marines. … I don’t know if he’s gotten addicted to the microphones and the cameras. For him to continue to foam at the mouth, it’s irresponsible, it’s stupid, it’s wrong.”

    Murtha’s office didn’t respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Advanced Cell Technology Update

Filed under: Business Moves,Stock Schlock,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:15 am

Life News has the details about the true “nature” of the corrections (plural) issued by medical journal Nature regarding what it published in conjunction with the “no embryos harmed” announcement of Advance Cell Technology Inc. (ATC) last week (bold is mine):

Nature Issues Corrections on Misleading Embryonic Stem Cell Research Study
August 31, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading medical journal has issued two “corrections” regarding misleading news releases concerning a study conducted by a biotech firm claiming to have created a morally acceptable method of obtaining embryonic stem cells.

Though Advanced Cell Technology said no human embryos were destroyed, in fact all were killed.

A press release from ACT and a statement from Nature on the article it published about the new method both said no human embryos were destroyed.

Ruth Francis, Nature’s senior press officer, explained the need for the corrections in an email to media outlets.

“We feel it necessary to explain that … the embryos that were used for these experiments did not remain intact,” she said.

Later, Francis would not tell the Philadelphia Inquirer why Nature didn’t make that clear in its initial press statement about the ACT paper.

“We are looking into the possibility of further clarification of this paper,” she told the newspaper.

During an interview with the Inquirer before the controversy erupted about the false claims, Advanced Cell Technology vice president Robert Lanza, senior author of the research paper, told the newspaper that “some of the embryos survived and were returned to frozen storage.”

On Wednesday, in a follow-up interview with the newspaper, he said he was referring to human embryos used in similar experiments, but not the ones touted in the Nature article he wrote.

Gee, I’m no scientific expert, but the last two paragraphs sure make it appear that ATC VP Lanza was caught red-handed playing fast and loose with the truth. There’s a three-letter word for that. And Nature may not even be done cleaning up Lanza’s mess.

_________________________________

UPDATE, Sept. 1: California Stem Cell Report has advice for ACT on effective and accurate PR. With all due respect to CSCR, I believe ACT knows exactly what it is doing, and has thus far gotten what they want out of the whole episode.

UPDATE 2, Sept. 1: ACT stock had a recovery day Friday, closing up 10 cents at 71 cents after being as low as 56 cents during the trading day. ACT was down 25 cents (about 26%) for the week. The stock’s recovery may be due to the company fighting back a bit about its work, complete with the seemingly-required Bush-bashing:

Company officials protested that the fate of embryos in their laboratory has no bearing on the scientific value of the research that comes out of it. Using the techniques they developed, they said, future researchers can create stem cells without destroying embryos.

Having such a capability could be useful because U.S. law currently bans federal funding of any research that harms human embryos. In an August 2001 decision, President Bush allowed federal funding for research on the few dozen cell lines that had been created up to that point. But researchers say they need hundreds of lines to move the science forward.

“I think the degree of protest here is the result of the importance of this breakthrough,” said Ronald Green, chairman of Advanced Cell Technology’s ethics advisory board and a professor of religion at Dartmouth College. “If the president were to turn around tomorrow and authorize stem cell lines produced in this way, in two years’ time we could have three to four hundred stem cells lines.”

Other scientists have expressed reservations about the significance of the research, saying that it needs to be confirmed through replication.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Green conveniently forgets to mention that he and others in the industry can develop all the lines they wish — they just can’t do it using federal funds.

_________________________________

Previous Posts:

- August 27 — Paging the SEC: Investigate Advanced Cell Technology

- August 28 — An Across-the-Board Chorus Blasts Advanced Cell Technology’s Claims

New York Times on Supposed Lack of Real Wage Growth: “Never Mind”

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 8:10 am

The Business & Media Institute catches the New York Times flip-flopping in a mere 72 hours (links probably require registration):

  • Flip (“Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity”) — “With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers.”
  • Flop — (“Revision Lifts Pace of Growth”) — “Perhaps the biggest surprise in yesterday’s report was new evidence of a surge in wage-and-salary income in the first half of this year. Between the fourth quarter of last year and the second quarter of 2006, pay grew at an annual pace around 7 percent after adjusting for inflation, up from an earlier estimate of 4 percent, according to an economic consulting firm, MFR.”

Oops.

More Ho-Hum Hiring Headlines

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 8:05 am

A company is growing in an industry that is often portrayed as disappearing overseas:

Call center to add 500 jobs in Austin

Customer service outsourcer PRC will open a 500-employee call center in North Austin.

The expansion comes in conjunction with another center in Denver, Colo. The addition of these centers will mark the company’s fourth and fifth domestic expansions in the last 12 months.

Together, they will add more than 1,000 new management, customer support and technology jobs to their markets.

….. PRC is a subsidiary of IAC/InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ:IACI). It manages customer relationships for some of the world’s largest companies through a global network of centers and employs about 12,000 worldwide. Clients include Expedia, Hotels.com, Match.com, British Airways and DIRECTV Inc.

Related Post:

- August 18 — Myth: US Call-Center Jobs Are Disappearing Overseas

Ho-Hum Hiring Headlines

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 8:00 am

From the Des Moines Register:

Nordstrom to add 500 jobs at Cedar Rapids online operation
August 29, 2006

Seattle-based Nordstrom said today it wants to add 500 people to its fulfillment and contact centers in Cedar Rapids and nearly double its space to 578,000 square feet.

The giant retailer said the “multi-million-dollar” expansion will serve its rapidly growing online business. Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct, said in a statement that Nordstrom plans to turn its online operations into a “billion-dollar business within four to six years.”

You Buy It, and Tell Me What You Think

Filed under: Business Moves,Marvels — Tom @ 7:55 am

From Reuters via Fox News:

Panasonic said on Thursday it would start selling the world’s largest television set, featuring a 103-inch screen, for $80,000.

“That’s before installation cost,” said a Panasonic spokesman.

Positivity: A Church Risen From Ashes

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:02 am

St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Colchester, Connecticut, which was destroyed in a gas explosion two years ago, has been rebuilt:

August 28 2006

COLCHESTER — Before she stepped through the doors to worship for the first time in the new St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, Stephanie Balacky paused Sunday to pray in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary.

“She’s home,” Balacky said, her blue eyes brimming with tears.

Thirty-two years ago, Balacky and her husband donated the statue of Mary, head bowed and hands clasped in prayer. She had no idea it would symbolize hope and rebirth and its survival would one day be called a miracle by the church’s bishop.

(more…)