December 28, 2006

Catch of the Day: CNN Enemy Sniper Snuff Film Available on Demand

Darth Dilbert at Return of the Conservatives catches Time Warner and CNN showing, and Chase advertising for, terrorist snuff propaganda (HT Michelle Malkin).

This is particularly egregious because of the information shackles our military must operate under to protect our soldiers and their family members. More on that here and here.

Bottom line: Our enemy lives among us; the implications for soldier and family safety should be obvious. I’ll bet this programming is popular in Dearborn.

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UPDATE, Dec. 29: In a “must be seen to be believed” item, The News Buckit shows Kansas City’s Time Warner outlet with the snuff film listing juxtaposed with an apparently live CNN report memorializing a dead soldier.

Will There Be a New King of the Road in 2007?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,TWUQs — Tom @ 2:15 pm

Looks like itFrom an AP report in USA Today, a report that is surely causing heartburn in Motown:

Toyota set to overtake GM in 2007
Dec. 22, 2006

NAGOYA, Japan — Toyota (TM) announced on Friday a global production target of 9.42 million vehicles for next year, increasing the odds that the Japanese manufacturer will pass troubled General Motors (GM) as the world’s No. 1 automaker.

The latest figure, announced by Toyota in a release, marks a 4% increase over the 9.04 million vehicles the company expects to produce this year and easily clears the 9.2 million vehicles GM is estimated to have produced this year.

GM does not give targets for next year, but it has been forced to scale back production recently, seeing its market share eroded by Asian automakers, including Toyota, which have a reputation for better mileage.

….. Although GM says the perception that its cars are gas-guzzlers is unfair and inaccurate, it is undergoing restructuring after racking up more than $10.6 billion in red ink last year and $3 billion more the first nine months of this year.

Toyota, on the other hand, is on a roll. Despite some quality problems, it is reporting record profits, churning out best-sellers like the Camry and Corolla as well as carving out a reputation in hybrids, which use a fine-tuned technology of switching between a gasoline engine and electric motor to save gas at a time when oil prices are rising.

Toyota, which passed up Ford (F) as the world’s No. 2 automaker in 2003, also painted a bright picture of sales in 2007. It is expecting to sell 9.34 million vehicles globally next year, up from 6% from 8.8 million expected for this year.

Toyota has been plagued with a rising number of recalls as it standardizes parts to cut costs and develops and sells more vehicles at a faster pace. Its challenge is to maintain its reputation for quality cars and customer satisfaction at the same time that it continues to rev up production.

“There will be no growth without quality,” Watanabe said, adding that quality will be closely monitored at all levels of production, including design, development and procurement. “We’d like to continue our efforts to make good products that win support from our customers.”

Although Toyota’s production methods, which empowers assembly line workers and trims inventory, are praised by experts, transporting that production to new places remains a challenge.

….. Watanabe said the company is considering adding another plant in North America to keep up with growing demand, although he did not give details.

Of Toyota’s projected volume for next year, overseas production will rise 8% to 4.27 million vehicles while its domestic output will increase 1% to 5.15 million vehicles, the company said. The projections include Toyota’s subsidiaries, truck-maker Hino Motors and Daihatsu, which makes small cars.

In the U.S., the first Tundra pickups rolling off of Toyota’s Texas plant will arrive in showrooms in 2007, a sign of Toyota’s ambitions in a lucrative sector dominated by American automakers.

Toyota has used its ample coffers to purchase significant stakes in two of GM’s former Japanese alliance partners — Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars, and truckmaker Isuzu. Toyota will be even using Fuji’s Indiana plant to make Camries starting in spring 2007.

The latter portions of the excerpt show that:

  • The company is not going to have a cakewalk to Number 1; if its quality reputation ever takes a real hit, things could reverse quickly (just ask Ford, whose fortunes turned for the worse not very long after its long winning streak of having the best-made American cars evaporated).
  • The company is taking up some of the auto-industry employment slack in North America caused by the decline of the Big Three.

Unfortunately, Toyota-related employment growth, with the possible exception of a few lower-level suppliers, will happen almost entirely in states other than Michigan. I wonder if that guy who crusaded against a Toyota plant in Western Michigan earlier this year and appears to have scared the company away from building in the state (there has been no news since the linked report) is proud of himself?

ALSO: It’s apparently a foregone conclusion that Toyota will be Number 2 in America next year, displacing Ford.

An Illegal-Immigration Legislative Calamity Appears Inevitable

Filed under: Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:44 am

Where to begin with this statement from President Bush (near the end) about the meatpacking plant arrests last week:

They were using forged documents — which just reminded me that the system we have in place has caused people to rely upon smugglers and forgers in order to do work Americans aren’t doing.

In other words, it is a system that is all aimed to bypass, no matter what measures we take to protect this country. It is a system that, frankly, leads to inhumane treatment of people. And therefore, the best way to deal with an issue that Americans agree on — that is, that we ought to enforce our borders in a humane way — is we’ve got to have a comprehensive bill.

In sum:

  • We’ll never stop smugglers …. but until “we” have a comprehensive bill, just let ‘em in.
  • We’ll never stop forgers …. but until “we” have a comprehensive bill, just let ‘em in.
  • We’ll never stop immigrant identity thieves who know perfectly well what they’re doing …. but until “we” have a comprehensive bill, just let ‘em in.
  • There’s no other way to get Americans to do the work involved (NOT True [HT Stiknstein and CAII Blog] — Ed.) …. but until “we” have a comprehensive bill, just let ‘em in.

Outside the Beltway and the open-borders editorial room at the Wall Street Journal, no more than 5% of Republicans, 10% of independents, or even 25% of Democrats support the rubbish expressed in the president’s above two paragraphs. Mr. Bush’s studied ignorance on illegal immigration foreshadows a national calamity in the making. Unfortunately, it appears that most members of both parties’ Washington elites agree with Mr. Bush.

A credible third-party candidate running against this madness in a fair fight would win an easy majority. The two parties have done all they can to ensure that such a fair fight won’t ever occur.

Carnival Barking (122806)

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 10:23 am

Newshound’s 54th on Ohio Politics is here.

Boring Made Dull’s 26th on Econ and Social Policy is here.

Chile Today — Better Off Than Yesterday; Prove ‘Us’ Wrong

Yesterday’s post that discussed the problem with radically raising the Social Security taxable earnings limit was a sneak preview of what will continue to happen if the USA “stays the course” with Social Security: ever-higher taxes, less economic growth, and eventually, a situation similar to the virtually intractable one found in Germany.

A while back, I said that I would defend Chile’s privatized Social Security system (praised here shortly after Augusto Pinochet’s death) beyond the awfully good back-of-the-napkin defense done at that comment.

Well, thanks to this post and this post by George Reisman, I’m interjecting two intermediate and necessary steps in the process.

I’ll dig into the alleged present difficulties in Chile’s retirement system, (even though, after 25 years, no one in Chile advocates going back to the old statist model, which was essentially the Social Security system the US has, i.e., the one that is heading for the cliff), AFTER these two items are addressed:

  • Step 1 — Acknowledge the fundamental truth about what Reisman has to say in his two posts regarding what Pinochet accomplished. Particularly, acknowledge that what he installed and eventually transitioned to was an improvement on what his predecessor Allende had “accomplished” and was on his way to installing (i.e., a Castro-like dictatorship). If you can’t admit to the fact that what Pinochet did netted out to a good/less bad thing, then you won’t acknowledge the essential reality of Chile’s history. What’s the point of holding a discussion with those who hold to such demonstrable ignorance. The Chilean retirement system debate then becomes a relatively minor diversion not worthy of serious discussion with someone who otherwise won’t admit the obvious.
  • Step 2 — Fix, in the body of the post, the obvious error made by “staff” where he claims that only 10% of Chile’s population has adequate retirement coverage. Even by the twisted logic of Chile’s quoted politicians and the New York Times in the article cited, it’s 30%. Fix it, in the body of THAT POST, and I’ll start digging some more. I’ve already proven that a majority, and perhaps a substantial one, has adequate retirement coverage. If the post isn’t modified, then I’ll assume that the site’s new proprietor chief propagandist is not legitimately interested in getting an answer, and I’ll consider it a non-negotiated surrender.

K? Waiting ….. (whistling cheerfully)

The Taxman Cometh — Even If You’re Not Located There

West Virginia tax authorities have officially jumped the shark (link requires free registration; HT Reason’s Hit and Run via Techdirt):

Last month West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that MBNA, the credit-card company, must pay West Virginia’s corporate income tax for 1998 and 1999 even though MBNA had no operations there.

All of MBNA’s employees, buildings and other assets were in Delaware, Maryland and elsewhere. Tough, said the court. MBNA had West Virginia credit-card customers, and that was enough.

“This is a big deal,” says Stuart Levine, a Baltimore tax attorney and author of a business law blog.

….. Bank of America, MBNA’s owner since January, may appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. (A spokesman says it hasn’t decided.)

MAY appeal? Yikes — Any operation that’s national in scope will have to file income tax returns in all states that have a corporate income tax, plus city or county income tax returns in jurisdictions that have them. Any mom-and-pop store that ships anything across state lines will have to worry about the potential state and city income tax implications at the destination.

Mountain Staters, if you think that “almost heaven” is tax chaos and a recession following right behind it, go right ahead.

Red Star Tribune Sold: Nick Coleman Not Available for Comment

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 6:14 am

From Editor & Publisher:

Goldman Sachs Says ‘Star Tribune’ Sale a Troubling Signal for Industry
Published: December 27, 2006 9:55 AM ET

NEW YORK Early Wednesday, Goldman Sachs became one of the first newspaper industry analyst firms to analyze the shocking announcement of the pending sale of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis by McClatchy Co. to a private equity firm. In its heading, Goldman stated it plainly: “Minneapolis valuation a Bearish signal for newspaper industry.”

While McClatchy will “generate a tax benefit of about $160 million,” Goldman observes, it is also taking a hit on the sale price, having paid $1.2 billion for the paper in 1998, now selling it for $530 million.

Ouch. That’s gotta hurt. But that’s what happens when you own the furthest-left newspaper in the Midwest for 8 years and don’t do anything to excise the relentless bias, laughable polling, and consistent misreporting the Red Star Tribune has engaged in during that time.

The guys at Powerline and StarTrib columnist Nick Coleman have had a running battle going for over two years now. This post will give you an idea of who has the upper hand, and why the newspaper’s value has dropped like a rock.

Maybe McClatchy might have gotten another $50 million if they’d have promised to fire Coleman first.

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UPDATE: Twin Cities area resident Captain Ed has more:

Incidentally, this can’t be blamed on the general decline of the newspaper industry. Certainly one might expect that the value may have declined over the last few years, but the industry has not lost over half its valuation. This fire sale comes as a result of the mismanagement and editorial disaster that the Strib has become. Despite having some talent, the Strib’s editors have turned it into a laughingstock as an objective journalistic endeavor. The sale price confirms the embarrassment that our local newspaper has become.

Ho Hum Hiring Headline (122806)

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 6:09 am

From Des Moines:

Cingular to build in Davenport, add 500 jobs

December 21, 2006

Cingular Wireless plans to build a $19.3 million customer service center in Davenport that will employ around 500 people, the company announced Wednesday.

“This project will be a wonderful addition to our growing economy,” Davenport Mayor Ed Winborn said in a prepared statement. “The more than 500 new positions will bring an annual payroll of nearly $11 million, in addition to the construction and the real estate investment which will increase our tax base by $13.5 million.”

Construction of the new facility is scheduled to begin in January and be completed by July.

This Guy, and Others, Are Seriously Upset About This Aspect of MS Vista

Filed under: Business Moves,Consumer Outrage — Tom @ 6:04 am

Here’s the opening text (HT Techdirt, whose post is titled “Vista: The OS That Does Less, Costs More, And Can’t Protect Squat”) of a paper by security research Peter Gutmann on Microsoft Vista’s attempts at what the author calls “premium content protection”:

A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection

Executive Summary

Windows Vista includes an extensive reworking of core OS elements in order to provide content protection for so-called “premium content”, typically HD data from Blu-Ray and HD-DVD sources. Providing this protection incurs considerable costs in terms of system performance, system stability, technical support overhead, and hardware and software cost. These issues affect not only users of Vista but the entire PC industry, since the effects of the protection measures extend to cover all hardware and software that will ever come into contact with Vista, even if it’s not used directly with Vista (for example hardware in a Macintosh computer or on a Linux server). This document analyses the cost involved in Vista’s content protection, and the collateral damage that this incurs throughout the computer industry.

Executive Executive Summary

The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the
longest suicide note in history.

Here’s one blogger’s quickie translation of the above:

The gist of the article: Microsoft has chosen to degrade in important and significant ways the performance and capability of their operating system to protect “premium content.” He is of the view that it probably won’t work as far as protecting premium content, but will significantly raise the cost and lower the performance of such things as video cards …..

My very non-expert take is that if all of this is as described, MS is being really dumb, and, though it appears I’ll be somewhat affected anyway, it’s a relief not to be using one of their operating systems.

Hopefully someone more expert than I (not that difficult) can comment on whether this is as serious a blunder and user handicap as it appears to be.

Positivity: A Christmas ‘Medical Miracle’ with Lots of Human Help

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Plattsburgh, NY — Smede Ryan is alive after flatlining 16 times and being shocked back by hospital staff. Then his pulse returned:

Medical Miracle
December 19, 2006

On Tuesday, 60-year-old Smede Ryan was sitting up in a chair at the Champlain Valley Physicians’ Hospital talking with one of the half dozen people who attended him when he was brought into the hospital last Thursday.

Ryan had suffered two heart attacks over a decade ago and last week was feeling severe pain in his chest again.

“The pain is so great”, he said, “I am sitting on a chair and ready to fall on the floor and the pain was bad. the next thing they were coming through the door and putting me on a gurney.”

The ordeal that followed was highly unusual and so was the final result.

Kenneth Thayer, a nurse on the cardiac team at the hospital said: “He went out a total of sixteen times under lethal rhythm which was deadly. We were successful in shocking him back sixteen times.”

For the next thirty minutes, Ryan would flat line and then be shocked back to life.

He said it felt like lightning striking him each time.

By now the staff was close to giving up hope.

Thayer, the nurse, said: “We shocked the last time and gave one last round of drugs and all of we looked at the heart monitor and it was flat lined, but all of a sudden we heard a beep, beep. We checked and said there’s a pulse there.”

Remarkably the former air force master sergeant did not suffer any brain damage. He said he is ready to follow any instructions his doctors give him to keep his heart healthy and to be with his family.

Folks at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital are calling this a Christmas miracle and no one here is doubting that.

Arafat’s Orchestration of 1973 Murders Acknowledged by State Department (UPDATE: Found by Daled Amos Powerline in June)

WorldNetDaily reported yesterday on the discovery of a State Department document released earlier this year (Here it is, converted to an HTML doc by yours truly for easy reference). State acknowledges, apparently for the first time, something that Scott at Powerline (here and here) demonstrated definitively more than three years ago from other available evidence.

The admission is that State has known for decades that the late Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the head of Fatah, plotted and supervised the 1973 murders of three diplomats: two from the United States (Cleo Noel and George Curtis), and one from Belgium (Guy Eid) who was apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time, in Khartoum, The Sudan.

Specifically, from that document:

The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat ….. Fatah representatives based in Khartoum partcipated in the attack, using a Fatah vehicle to transport the terrorists to the Saudi Arabian Embassy.

….. The terrorists extended their deadlines three times, but when they became convinced that ther demands would not be met and after they reportedly had received orders from Fatah headquarters in Beirut, they killed the two United States officials and the Belgian Charge.

The document was declassified and apparently went unnoticed until very recently, when James J. Welsh, who was at the time the National Security Agency’s Palestinian analyst, found it in what WND called “a routine Internet search.”

Arafat won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

How much different would the history of the Middle East be if the world had been forced to face the reality of Arafat’s involvement in the murder of American diplomats over 30 years ago?

Formerly Mainstream Media interest in this story is currently non-existent, as a Google News search on “Arafat 1973″ (without quotes, with a date range of Dec. 25 to 28) shows.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE, 10 AM: Here at their web site is the State Department’s undated “Summary.” The document itself was released on May 4 of this year. Daled Amos sent me an e-mail this morning letting me know that he blogged on this in mid-June, pegging off this very long Powerline post where the doc release was noted and excerpted. Though some could have taken place, I have found no formerly Mainstream Media coverage from that period either.

UPDATE 2: Doug Ross has created a Friends of Terror scrapbook, though I believe there is some bipartisan blame to spread around, combined with the “we do what we want” insularity of the State Department.