June 6, 2007

Couldn’t Help But Notice (060607)

Here’s another story about renting someone else’s credit history:

….. Instantcreditbuilders.com, or ICB, helped (Florida resident Alipio) Estruch boost his score by arranging for him to be added as an authorized user on credit cards of people with stellar credit. They were paid to allow this coat tailing.

The pitch to those who are essentially renting their credit history for pay is seductive: You don’t need to worry about users of this service receiving duplicate copies of your credit cards, account numbers or any of your personal information. It’s essentially free money, they are told.

Brian Kinney, 44, a retired Army officer in Glendale, Calif., pulls in more than $2,500 a month by lending out 19 credit card spots on two old Citibank cards with strong payment histories. Kinney, whose FICO credit score is above 800 on the scale of 300 to 850, quit his job at a Farmers Insurance agency and uses the ICB income to tide him over until he starts his own agency.

Lenders are worried, however, that they’re taking on greater default risks by unknowingly offering lower interest rates than they otherwise would to applicants who artificially boost their credit scores.

Although the idea of helping someone with low credit score and making money on it in the process has some surface appeal, I can’t help thinking that this is dangerous stuff. What if the people added to Kinney’s accounts run ‘em up?

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State support of “quality newspapers”? Who gets to decide (and enforce) “quality”?

Hugo Chavez would love to implement this idea. Oh, in fact, he is doing just that. I guess it depends on what you mean by “support.”

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Bottom story of the day month year decade so far (which is why it’s not linked) –

“Lawyer: Hilton well after night in jail”

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Even if the measurement methods aren’t the same, this is stunning:

BRUSSELS – Unemployment continued to fall in Brussels in May. At the end of last month there were a total of 90,930 Brussels residents without a job, a decrease of 7.2 percent compared to the same month last year.

The unemployment rate was 19.8 percent, according to a press release from the Brussels regional employment agency BGDA.

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France’s turn to the center-right appears to be a lot more pronounced than Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent 53-47 defeat of his Socialist rival would indicate:

PARIS, June 4, 2007 (AFP) – France on Sunday entered a final week of campaigning for the first round of parliamentary elections, with President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party set to steamroll to victory.

After winning the presidency last month, Sarkozy is poised to clinch a huge majority — perhaps even a landslide — that would allow him to push through his programme of ambitious reform in parliament.

A poll published Sunday showed the president’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) picking up between 420 to 460 seats in the 577-member assembly, up from its current contingent of 359 deputies.

“The left is struggling, the right is sweeping everything,” wrote the Journal du Dimanche weekly.

Who knew that the UMP already has a 62% majority?

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This is really irresponsible on the part of BHOO (Barack Hussein Obambi Obama). He should read this post and ask himself what will happen if the current immigration shamnesty bill, which he appears to support, will help or hurt the situation.

Carnival Barking (060607)

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 6:13 am

The under-new-and-capable-group management (WLST, Pho, Keeler, and Glass City) Carnival of Ohio Politics Number 68 is here. A major HT to the retiring-from-blogging Paul Miller on his efforts to this point, and best of luck to him in his new calling.

Boring Made Dull’s 67th on Econ and Social Policy is here.

Read It, If You Can Stand It

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:08 am

I can’t bear to comment on how full of sh ….. never mind (HT Kaus via Ace).

Go to Item 4 at the Corner’s post (the first one; Number 5 also is labeled Number 4 at this moment).

They’ve absolutely lost their minds.

Understatement of the year: “Gaming the system is not far fetched.”

AP Searches Desperately for the Negative in Yesterday’s ISM Report

The Associated Press, in an unbylined article, had this to say about yesterday’s Institute for Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Report (see first bullet below regarding the bolded words):

U.S. Service Sector Expands

Tuesday June 5, 11:20 AM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s service sector expanded at a faster-than-expected pace in May, suggesting it could help sustain broader economic growth as the automotive and housing industries slump, a research group said Tuesday.

The Institute for Supply Management, based in Tempe, Ariz., said its index of business activity in the non-manufacturing sector was 59.7 in May. The reading was higher than April’s reading of 56 and Wall Street’s expectation of 56.

….. The service industries covered by the ISM report represent about 80 percent of economic activity and span diverse industries including banking, construction, retailing, mining, agriculture and travel.

May represents the 50th consecutive month of growth in the non-manufacturing sector, and marked a turnaround from March when the index slipped to a four-year low. The index average so far this year is still below the 2006 average reading of 58.

….. While the strong ISM reading reflects the pickup in the economy, it doesn’t signal that the broader economy is due for a significant upswing in coming months, said Brian Bethune, an economist with Global Insight.

Points to make, among a bunch that could be made:

  • The first paragraph implies that housing was not part of the index. Last time I checked, the housing industry is a large part of, ahem, “construction,” a sector that was indeed part of May’s overall stellar result, as noted later.
  • The “slump” in the auto industry ignores May’s sales results, where everyone but Ford showed decent gains, and GM and Toyota did very well.
  • March’s “four-year low” was 52.4 — not a bad number to “turn around” from, given that 52.4 is comfortably in expansion mode.
  • You have to be looking really hard for something not nice to say about a month with a reading near 60 when you go start going back and comparing averages.

Let’s say some nice things instead (complete history of the report to date is here, converted to HTML format from ISM’s Excel spreadsheet):

  • The ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Report has shown expansion every month except one since February of 2002, or 63 out of 64 months. The sole exception is March 2003.
  • Though the index has only existed for 10 years, the current streak of expansion for 50 consecutive months is a record. The previous record was 45 (July 1997, when the report began, to March 2001; yes, it’s likely that the streak would have been longer had the index existed earlier, but I’m being nice — and accurate. :–>).

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

D-Day Anniversary Positivity

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

With so many soldiers having spent so much time in training exercises and other non-combat activities in England, the importance of what’s described here to the ultimate success of D-Day shouldn’t be underestimated:

The man U.S. war secretary chose to put D-Day force in fighting frame of mind

2007-05-31 17:47:27 – June 6 will mark the 63rd anniversary of D-Day, the World War II Allied invasion of Normandy. To prepare fighting men for that action, U.S. Secretary of War Stimson ordered his head of the Joint Army and Navy Committee to Britain to oversee troop information

ATLANTA, Ga. – In the spring of 1944, three and a half million men in arms were being prepared in the south of England for Operation Overlord, the planned Allied invasion of the European mainland. Shortly after midnight on June 6, 20,000 men of the U.S. 82nd and 101st and British 6th Airborne divisions dropped by parachute well behind German lines. At 6:31 a.m., an invasion armada of 5,000 ships began unloading the first of 170,000 men on the beaches of Normandy. Some 2,400 Americans died in the initial invasion, and thousands more were injured. The successful beachhead was the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe.

According to Atlanta author Noel Griese, putting the U.S. troops in a fighting state of mind was key. To that end, U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson ordered one of his most trusted advisors to Europe to oversee troop information to mentally prepare U.S. armed forces.

Arthur W. Page, the man chosen for the job, had headed the Joint Army and Navy Committee on Welfare and Recreation (JANC) from the beginning of the war. JANC had oversight responsibility for all troop morale activities – USO shows, the Red Cross, the Stars and Stripes newspaper, Yank magazine, radio broadcasts, film distribution and many other activities designed to keep up troop morale.

According to Griese, Page joined Doubleday, Page & Co. after graduating from Harvard in 1905, five years after his father and Frank N. Doubleday created the firm. Page was with Doubleday until 1926, when he left to join AT&T as its first vice president for public relations.

On April 5, 1944, Page departed for England on a secret 100-day mission for Stimson. His main assignment, according to Griese, the author of Arthur W. Page: Publisher, Public Relations Pioneer, Patriot, was to oversee indoctrination of American forces.

Col. Oscar N. Solbert, chief of morale and special services for the European Theater of Operations, had overall responsibility for troop information, education and morale. Page was sent to assist him, particularly with getting troop commanders to cooperate in troop information efforts.

As he had in World War I, when he served on Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing’s staff, Page declined a commission in World War II. He went to England as a civilian, with the assimilated rank of colonel, knowing he would be better able to work with Solbert if he neither outranked nor underranked him. He stayed in Europe for more than three months, through D-Day and long enough after to make a visit to Cherbourg on the continent.

Page helped Solbert and his staff coordinate troop information through the Stars and Stripes newspaper, Yank magazine, daily broadcasts of the Army News Service (ANS), Army films and newsreels and troop information meetings. He prepared schedules of what was to be said to soldiers each week, sat in on military staff meetings as emissary of the secretary of war and wrote the statement to be given to soldiers as they embarked for the Normandy beaches.

Go here for the rest of the story.