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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The New DO NOT CALL LIST Takes effect today

Canadians now have a new tool to block annoying calls from telemarketers.

A national do-not-call list comes into force Tuesday. The list is being run by Canada's broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission.

Once a number is on the list, telemarketers will be barred from dialing that number, or face a hefty fine of up to $15,000 if they do call.

There are some exceptions, such as pollsters, researchers and government agencies.

It appears the list will be eagerly received - a new poll found that two-thirds of the one-thousand Canadians questioned intend to get their names on the list.

Those who want to register a phone number can go to www.LNNTE-DNCL.gc.ca or call 1-866-580-3625.

Telemarketing companies also have to register and purchase a subscription to access phone numbers they will be required to block from their calling lists.

But many companies are exempt from the new regulations, including registered charities, newspapers, political parties and polling and market research firms.

Also exempt is any company a caller has had business with in the past 18 months.

To solve that problem, Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, has created a third-party Do Not Call List to pick up the slack.

"Once you exclude the political parties and survey companies, who is left?" Geist told CTV.ca.

Geist runs iOptOut.ca, a web service that allows users to register their phone numbers to block calls from exempted companies. The site issues an opt-out request on the user's behalf.

So far, 50,000 people have used it to make a total of five million opt-out requests.

"Many people will be disappointed when the number of calls they receive doesn't diminish," Geist said of the official Do Not Call List.

Canadians can also visit the Canadian Marketing Association's Do Not Contact service, located here. There is also a movement dedicated to reducing paper-based advertising, called the Red Dot Campaign.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) says because it has the power to enforce the new policies, Canadians will receive fewer telemarketing calls after they register.

"I think we'll soon see a reduction in the numbers of calls, but over time it will increase as companies and organizations become more and more compliant," Denis Carmel, spokesperson with the CRTC, told CTV.ca. "Some organizations could be oblivious of those rules and their responsibilities today, but over time I'm sure that everybody will understand their responsibilities and will be in compliance."

A new poll suggests Canadians have high hopes that the DOT CALL LIST will be a successful venture.

A VoxPop survey has found that 61 per cent of Canadians are sure that despite exemptions to the list, they will still get fewer telemarketing calls.

Canadians can also ask to be added to the internal Do Not Call lists of exempted companies, which the CRTC also has the power to enforce.

The CRTC can levy fines of up to $1,500 to individuals who violate the new rules and up to $15,000 to corporations.

The exemptions are similar to those associated with a similar U.S. registry, which has been very successful at reducing the number of telemarketing calls that Americans receive, according to VoxPop.

A Harris Poll conducted in the U.S. last October found that 91 per cent of respondents received fewer telemarketing calls since registering with the list. Fifty-nine per cent of respondents said they received far fewer calls, while 18 per cent reported that they did not receive any telemarketing calls after joining the do not call list.

To date, more than 145 million people have registered for that list.

"The success of the U.S. do not call list suggests Canadians are right to believe their no-call list will be an efficient barrier against unwanted telemarketing calls," VoxPop spokeperson BrendanWycks, executive director of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, said in a statement.

VoxPop is a campaign by the MRIA designed to advance free speech through public opinion surveys.

Research suggests the list will be quite popular with Canadians.

A Harris/Decima survey found that 72 per cent of Canadians will add their numbers to the DO NOT CALL LIST.

However, the survey, conducted on behalf of Pitney Bowes Canada, showed some businesses may be unaware of the new guidelines for telemarketing.

While 73 per cent of business owners know of the list, about 61 per cent of small business owners said they were unaware they could be fined for violating the new policy.

Companies will first get a warning letter in case they were unaware of the new regulations, Carmel said.

If a company continues to violate the rules, it will get a "notice of violation," which they can contest.

The CRTC would then rule if the company broke the rules and issue a fine.

Companies forced to scale back their telemarketing operations do have options. The Harris/Decima survey found that 52 per cent of respondents would prefer that companies solicit first-time business from them via the mail.

Forty-nine per cent said they also prefer hearing from companies they already do business with through the mail.

Direct mail marketing is a cost-effective way for companies to reach consumers, experts say.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, each $1 spent on direct mail marketing leads to $11 in sales, which is twice the return of any other advertising medium.

The companies have 31 days to add new numbers to their do not call lists.

Janet Jackson Hospitalized and Tour Cancelled

Janet Jackson has been hospitalized due to an unspecified illness. The singer, who is currently out on her Rock Witchu Tour, "got suddenly ill during the sound check" in Montreal and had to be rushed to the hospital, a rep for W&W Public Relations told the Web site.

Jackson is currently being monitored, but at press time no further information had been given about her illness or condition. E! Online reports that the singer hopes to reschedule the tour stop.

It's been a bumpy year for the singer. On Friday, she called off a show in Detroit due to "production constraints," according to TMZ. She plans to reschedule that stop as well. The tour, which also features LL Cool J, is slated to continue through October 22.

Last week, Jackson announced that she would be parting ways with Island Def Jam Records after just 14 months. The singer's publicist noted that the label agreed to dissolve the relationship upon Jackson's request.

"Now, more than 20 years after the release of her iconic album, Control, Janet will have autonomy over her career, without the restrictions of a label system," Jackson's publicist said in a statement.

In March, Jackson released Discipline, an album that reflected a return to her Control era in more ways than just the title. But since debuting at #1, the album has sold a disappointing 415,000 units, according to SoundScan. In interviews, Jackson hinted that she was unhappy with the way things were working out with the label.

This isn't the first illness that Jackson has battled this year. In April, while promoting Discipline, Jackson missed an appearance on "Saturday Night Live." When MTV News caught up with her boyfriend, producer Jermaine Dupri, at the time, he said, "She's 100 percent better now. She was really sick. She had bronchitis. She's in Japan right now. She's better and doing all the promotion that she didn't get to do because she was sick when the album launched."

Lisa Guerrero Writes for LA Times

Lisa Guerrero has covered Super Bowls, NBA championships and the World Series, along with the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. As an actress, she has appeared on "Frasier,'' "The George Lopez Show'' and as Billy Baldwin's long-suffering wife in the award-winning family film, "A Plumm Summer,'' which she executive-produced.

When I told a friend that I'd be writing for the L.A. Times, she told her husband. His response was, "Really? Did she get fat?''

Now I know from experience that the camera adds 15 pounds, but I had no idea that picking up a pen and pad would give me a big butt. However, one glance at the sportswriters in the Dodgers press box would confirm that theory.

When you're hidden behind a laptop instead of preening in front of a camera, there's a natural tendency to inhale a few more Dodger Dogs and let those pounds add up.

So at this point after noticing the byline and not-at-all retouched photo, you may be asking yourself, "Hey, isn't that the chick that used to cover sports, got fired by 'Monday Night Football' and stripped down for Playboy?''

Um, yes, But despite these stellar qualifications, allow me to explain how I ended up here.

One day last June after muddling through yet another one of T.J. Simers' rants -- this time targeting me -- I picked up a pen and delivered a shot of my own.

Inspired by Barack Obama and his "Change We Can Believe In,'' I proposed my change for Page 2. I asked The Times to please allow me to go head to head with T.J. in a write-off. We would each write one column a week for one month and let your readers decide who should write for Page 2. I wasn't kidding!

Amazingly, Sports Editor Randy Harvey contacted me and asked if I was really serious about wanting to write for The Times.


In weeks to come, I'll be writing about sports from an entertainment and pop culture perspective in the Fabulous Forum on latimes.com.

So here I am, armed with pen and paper and fueled by a strong cup of joe. But mostly strong opinions.

--Lisa Guerrero

Monday, September 29, 2008

BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE: What Caused Our Economic Crisis

You Tube and Warner Music Group today pulled a highly popular video that very succinctly and clearly spelled out the roots of the current economic crisis.

The 9:59 video entitled "Burning Down the House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis" played four different songs under a fast moving video sequence that very clearly tied Democrats like Chris Dodd, Franklin Raines, Jim Johnson and Barack Obama to policies and corruption related to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It cleverly showed how the "affordable mortgage" programs sent an economic virus through the entire economy and showed Republican efforts to intervene and regulate being blocked.

For Obama and all congressional Democrats, it was a devastating video.

The video had almost a perfect viewer rating and had been viewed some 1.2 million times according to the You Tube counters. Sometime around 3:45 EDT the video disappeared with the banner saying "This Video is no longer available due to a copywrite claim by Warner Music Group."

This sounds to me a lot like another front in this war for the country.

Thomas Lifson adds:

Even though I wonder if Warner is so vigilant about its music being used for videos advantageous to Democrats, there is a perfect right to object to appropriation of intellectual property. Music is a business, and if you use someone's music you have to pay a royalty.

Simply re-post the video minus its music soundtrack, and see what happens. Ot use a soundtrack of music in the public domain. I suggest Vivaldi's Four Seasons, which has a driving beat of its own in various places.

Update: Daniel J. Bianco writes in, poiting out that head of the Warner Music Group's political contributions this year are going exclusively to Democrats.

$ 700 Billion bail fails and slams the US into Depression as the Stock Markets Crash

Nearly all Austin area stocks fell on Monday afternoon as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted on news that the U.S. House of Representatives had rejected the $700 billion federal bailout plan.

The Dow fell more than 700 points in afternoon trading. Among local public companies, some of the biggest drops in share price were with Forestar Real Estate Group Inc. (NYSE: FOR), which fell more than 15 percent; Fieldpoint Petroleum Corp. (AMEX: FPP), which fell more than 21 percent; Guaranty Financial Group Inc. (NYSE: GFG), which fell more than 11 percent; and Brigham Exploration Co. (Nasdaq: BEXP), which fell more than 13 percent.

Congress and the White House in recent days hammered out the bailout bill, called the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which is intended to free the flow of credit by allowing financial institutions to offload their nonperforming mortgage assets.

The Monday vote, 205 in favor and 228 against, came as a surprise, despite bailout being an unpopular proposal among many American voters. The bill had been modified to satisfy its Congressional opponents, and included language curbing executive pay and creating an oversight committee to review the Treasury Department’s actions. With no other alternative plan immediately in the works to halt the financial crisis, the rejection triggered a slide in financial stocks.

In the early hours of yesterday morning, as he was flying back from America, Gordon Brown walked to the rear of his Boeing 777 to address reporters in the cheap seats.

The global financial system was teetering on the brink, lawmakers in Washington were at loggerheads over what to do and the reporters, tired after a long trip, were getting stuck into the champagne. If ever there was the moment for an inspired bon mot, this was it.

Not for Brown. With typical leadenness, he reached for a statistic. “There is a 90%-95% correlation between economic indicators and what voters think of the government,” he told the assembled media, who promptly concentrated on their fizz.

In his own dour way, however, Brown had hit the nail on the head. The banking meltdown besetting the world was moving beyond Wall Street, the City and other financial centres. It was moving beyond consumers’ immediate fears over their high street accounts.

By fateful symmetry, the economic crisis was colliding with politics on a momentous scale. When the meltdown went critical last week, America was entering the final 40 days of the election to choose its next president. The wrangling over the biggest financial bail-out in history is now becoming a battle over power and the soul of US capitalism that has dominated the West in recent years.

Should ordinary taxpayers bail out the rich? Would delay hurt the poor even more? Is the bail-out really socialism by the back door? In the White House and on Washington’s Capitol Hill, Democrats, Republicans and presidential candidates argued while smoke rose from the burning banks.

One US economist said decisions taken now would “shape the type of capitalism we will live in for the next 50 years”.

The fallout also spells a changing political mood for Britain. Brown, addressing the United Nations in New York, had declared the need for a “new global order founded on transparency, not opacity” to control finance. “The age of irresponsibility must be ended,” he said.

He should know, the Tories were quick to retort. As David Cameron, the party’s leader, witheringly pointed out: “Yes, this prime minister has got experience: he has got the experience of building up the biggest budget deficit of any industrialised country; he has got the experience of designing the regulatory system that failed to prevent the first run on a bank in Britain in 150 years.

“He has got the experience of saying year after year, ‘I have ended boom and bust’. And yet now we face really difficult economic circumstances. I don’t think that is the experience we need right now.”

Members of the US Senate and House of Representatives argued into the small hours over ways to stave off collapse in the financial system and appease the anger of voters. A deal could be announced today.

In Britain the need for action was driven home as Bradford & Bingley came under pressure with its shares falling to an all-time low. The Treasury is expected to make an announcement today that it is nationalising the bank and holding a fire sale of its assets.

Will the US rescue so far proposed work? Does Britain need a similar bail-out? And how is the global political and economic landscape likely to change?

TO critics the original bail-out proposed by Hank Paulson, the US Treasury secretary, was the most barefaced money-grab since Goldfinger, the James Bond villain, tried to rob Fort Knox. In a plan that ran to only three pages, Paulson asked for the power to spend $700 billion (£380 billion) of taxpayers’ money buying up the dodgy assets that are dragging banks down.

The sum was almost as big as the entire economy of Australia and equivalent to $2,300 for every person in the United States. Yet there was no mention of help for homeowners nor room for outside scrutiny. His spending of the billions, Paulson proposed, could “not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency”.

All that Congress and taxpayers got was a gun to their heads: agree the deal or financial collapse will be much worse for you, Paulson warned.

Although his motives may have been well intentioned, the plan was a serious political misjudgment. With an election looming, the Democrats were acutely sensitive to accusations that the poor were being asked to pay for the excesses of rich bankers on Wall Street. On the other hand, some Republicans were appalled that the American capitalist dream appeared to be morphing into a socialist nightmare.

One Wall Street trader, who made a small fortune betting on Goldman Sachs shares, paid for newspaper advertisements showing President George W Bush, Paulson and Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, planting a flag, Iwo Jima-style, in the graveyard of capitalism. Nationalising banks and bad debt was tantamount to communism by the back door.

On the other hand, John Mikus, a homeowner from Houston, Texas, summed up the mood of many of his fellow citizens: “Low-interest loans to homeowners and small businesses, yes. Federal bail-outs of Wall Street banks and investment firms, no. Americans should not be burdened with mega-bail-outs of the rich and politically well connected.”

Bush tried to railroad the plan through by speaking in apocalyptic terms. “Our entire economy is in danger,” he told the nation in a televised address. “Major sectors of America’s financial system are at risk of shutting down . . . Without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic.”

The public, however, balked at paying to rescue the bankers and financiers who had largely caused the shambles in the first place. Protesters railed against the Paulson plan outside the New York stock exchange. Thousands of other opponents bombarded Congress with e-mails. One Democratic congressman said calls from constituents were “running at 50% ‘no’ and 50% ‘hell, no’. Out of 100 calls you are lucky if one of them is positive”.

Demonstrations were organised in 41 states. In Denver, Regina Jackson made her point baldly. “I don’t want to bail out Wall Street millionaires,” she said. “I say let them go bankrupt.”

Part of the fury — and the financial meltdown — stems from the strain that households are under from rising debt and falling income. While incomes rose steadily during the 1980s and 1990s, they have fallen in real terms for lower earners since 2000.

To many Democrats it seemed as if Paulson, a former chief executive of Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment bank, was looking after his own. In 2006 he had made more than $18m in bonuses at Goldman and many millions more in the years before — during which time he had overseen trading in the sort of “toxic assets” that now threaten financial collapse.

Speaking last week to Time magazine, Paulson defended his plan: “The average American looks at this as being about Wall Street and they’re angry, and I’m angry too . . . but the average American doesn’t understand the implications this has for them: money needs to flow through the system.”

What the average American does understand, however, is that he or she has a vote — which is going to flow through the political system on November 4. Paulson had failed to appreciate that neither the presidential candidates nor the members of Congress — many of whom will defend their seats on the same day — could be seen to endorse a straight bail-out for Wall Street.

Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, made it clear that he wanted a better deal for taxpayers: “It is wholly unreasonable to expect that American taxpayers would or should hand this administration or any administration a $700 billion blank cheque . . . If taxpayers are to be asked to underwrite hundreds of billions of dollars to solve this crisis, they must be treated like investors.”

John McCain, the Republican candidate, although more cautious, took a similar tack: “There must be a path for taxpayers to recover the money.”

The crisis was playing in Obama’s favour. In opinion polls 70% of voters thought he was more concerned with protecting the interests of ordinary people than of big corporations, while only 32% thought McCain was.

On Capitol Hill the Democrats waded into action. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee, proposed numerous changes to Paulson’s plan, including a new board to oversee the rescue programme; monthly reports to Congress; the ability of the government to take stakes in the companies it bails out; limits on executive pay; and a programme to manage and reduce the debts of homeowners in trouble.

Republicans were also angry. One inveighed that he and his colleagues “were being asked to choose between financial meltdown on the one hand and taxpayer bankruptcy and the road to socialism on the other” — and “to do it in 24 hours”.

AFTER Bush’s dramatic television appeal, the fate of the nation seemed to hang on a meeting at the White House on Thursday, where the president gathered senior lawmakers, including Obama and McCain.

The economy was on the edge of the Grand Canyon, but Bush was hopeful of lassoing it back. “My hope is we can reach an agreement very shortly,” he told the television cameras as the meeting began.

Once the media left the room, however, the fireworks began. It became clear that divisions ran very deep and an agreement was a long way off.

Democrats, led by Obama, clung to proposals for more help for ordinary citizens. John Boehner, the most senior Republican in the House of Representatives, opposed a massive state rescue. Sticking true to the principles of free enterprise, he wanted less government intervention.

One Republican proposal was for all banks to pay into an insurance scheme on which those in trouble could draw. What did the presidential candidates think? Obama asked questions but McCain sat largely quiet. Obama seized his opportunity. “What do you think of the plan, John?” he repeatedly asked. McCain did not answer. By one account, for 40 minutes of the meeting McCain said absolutely nothing.

As the meeting began to break up in disarray, Paulson collared Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, in a nearby room. He went down on bended knee, according to a source close to the talks, as he pleaded with her not to “blow up” his rescue plan.

“It’s not me blowing this up,” she said. “It’s the Republicans.”

Bush made an appeal in wry desperation, according to two of those present. “Can’t we all just go out and say things are okay?” he asked.

However, the president who has fought two wars seemed impotent. There was no bombing to be done — banks were doing enough of that by themselves. All he could do was warn: “If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down.”

Not long afterwards the credit crunch toppled another giant. Washington Mutual, a bank once valued at more than $50 billion, was seized by authorities for fear that it was about to collapse. Sold for just $1.8 billion into the tender embrace of JPMorgan Chase, it was the biggest single bank failure in US history. Yet amid the political battle it was almost a sideshow.

While opponents of Obama pointed to his inexperience, McCain seemed unable to decide what to do. After his reticence at the White House, the next morning he relayed a message to Republicans on Capitol Hill. According to a senior Republican aide, McCain urged: “We need a deal, we need a deal, we need a deal.”

He put forward no plan of his own. He struggled even to decide whether to participate in the first presidential debate scheduled for that evening. Having earlier said that he would not, he decided to go ahead.

As McCain flew to Mississippi for the debate, his chief of staff, Mark Salter, revealed that McCain had made his decision only an hour before leaving Washington. Everything, including the economy, seemed to be on a knife edge.

CAN a deal be done and, if so, will it work? Last night lawmakers suggested that a deal, with the core of the Paulson proposal intact, would be announced this evening and passed by Congress tomorrow.

Earlier Bush had tried to assuage taxpayers’ fears, saying in a radio address: “The rescue effort is not aimed at Wall Street; it is aimed at your street.” He claimed the final cost would be far less than $700 billion because the government would recoup much of the money in years to come.

Plenty of doubts remain over whether the package will be enough. The losses piling up in the financial system are likely to be even more enormous than the $700 billion. According to Robert Schiller, an economist at Yale, the bursting of the “biggest property bubble in US history” has wiped out about $5 trillion in wealth.

“And the last time we looked house prices were still falling,” he said. “It throws off individual and corporate balance sheets. That has all kinds of effects on confidence and our sense of wellbeing.”

According to BusinessWeek, the US magazine, defaults are spreading from sub-prime mortgages to what are known as Alt-A loans, which were made to people with better credit ratings. Normally only 2%-3% of such loans run into trouble; now 15% are in difficulty.

Other experts savaged the Paulson plan for failing to address the issue of recapitalising the banking system. Paul Krugman, professor of economics at Princeton, suggested that a government buy-up of toxic assets might help, but it would not solve the lack of bank capital unless taxpayers hugely overpaid for the assets. Better to inject capital directly into failing banks and take a share of ownership, he said.

Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University, was even blunter about Paulson’s original proposal: “The Treasury plan is a disgrace: a bail-out of reckless bankers, lenders and investors that provides little direct debt relief to borrowers and financially stressed households and that will come at a very high cost to the taxpayer.”

Even Professor Geoffrey Wood of the Cass Business School in London, who is no doomsayer like Roubini, believed the Paulson plan was flawed. “It seems to me the whole thing is too large,” he said. “Try something smaller to establish a price for this debt. Fine. But then a simple, efficient way to recapitalise the banks would be to force a debt-for-equity swap.”

Does Britain need a similar plan? It now seems likely that Bradford & Bingley, Britain’s eighth largest mortgage lender, will cease to exist as a high-street entitiy, and that its assets will be sold off to rivals.

Other lenders showed the strains they face by raising their mortgage rates. HSBC, Woolwich and First Direct all raised rates on some loans by 0.25%. One victim of the tightening credit conditions was Hardy Amies, tailor to the Queen, which fell into administration after struggling to raise new loans.

As in the United States, property prices in Britain are still falling. John Muellbauer, professor of economics at Nuffield college, Oxford, believes the housing collapse may be only halfway through and his research shows that the plunge in housebuilding dwarfs previous busts in the 1970s and 1980s. “The magnitude of effects — high debt levels, the credit crunch and falling real incomes — make a UK recession virtually certain,” he said.

The problems of UK banks are less severe than those in the United States, and our banks may benefit from the rescue deal being put together in Washington. British banks have £95 billion in bad assets that may qualify and Brown, having taken the country’s finances already deeply into the red, wants to avoid a widescale state bail-out.

Last week, however, Capital Economics, a leading consultancy, warned that “it would be unwise” to rule out the need for a bail-out in Britain as well.

AMID the American chaos, the cheese-eating schadenfreuders of Europe could not resist a bit of self-satisfaction. Global capitalism needed retooling, declared President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who is considered too much of a fan of America by some of his countrymen. “Self-regulation is finished,” he said. “Laissez-faire is finished. The all-powerful market which is always right is finished.”

Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, told his parliament: “The US will lose its status as the superpower of the world financial system. The world will never be the same again.”

While their barbs may reflect long-standing rivalries between US and European economic models, even US experts recognise that the crisis will weaken America’s place in the world. Before the meltdown the United States already had by far the biggest debts to foreign lenders of any country and by far the biggest trade deficit as well. It owes $13 trillion and had a trade deficit of $712 billion in 2007. (China, by contrast, had a trade surplus of $360 billion.)

Uncle Sam needs $2 billion a day from foreign investors just to keep going. “For years to come, Wall Street and Washington will be unable to manage without strong co-operation from other markets,” observed Jeffrey Garten, professor of international trade and finance at Yale.

“Most governments and investors outside the US never shared the American system of cowboy capitalism. Now they have good reason to demand that fundamental changes be made in the way the US manages its financial institutions.”

In Asia, politicians and economists remember with bitter irony their own financial crisis of a decade ago: then the United States and other western powers imposed tough remedies based on market forces.

Changes in financial markets are already under way. Short-selling to drive down shares has been restricted. Last week Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the US regulator, urged lawmakers to control the $62 billion market in insurance-based financial derivatives known as credit default swaps (CDS) “to enhance investor protection and ensure the operation of fair and orderly markets”.

The markets were wide open to abuse, he said, because “neither the SEC nor any regulator has authority over the CDS market, even to require minimal disclosure”.

Other regulation is sure to come, according to Simon Taylor, a former banker who is now director of the master of finance programme at the Judge School of Business in Cambridge. “It is pretty much inconceivable that you can have such major intervention from governments with taxpayers’ money,” he said, “and not have some kind of response — at the very least a tightening up of regulation.”

The danger was that the pendulum might swing too far the other way, he said, suggesting there could be “a more generalised scepticism about markets, even in areas with nothing directly to do with finance.

“If unemployment keeps rising and ordinary families believe, probably rightly, that the financial crisis has made their positions worse, they will have good reasons to be angry. But politics or laws made in anger are generally not very good ones. ”

Matthew Elliott, head of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, expressed the resistance of many to a general bail-out when he said: “The government has a role in terms of protecting deposits in banks, but when it comes to bailing out shareholders the government should have no role at all.”

In the United States the backlash against unfettered capitalism is likely to benefit Obama. He emerged the winner, by a slim margin, from the first presidential debate with McCain. Some 40% of uncommitted voters thought he was the better performer, compared with 22% for McCain; 38% saw it as a draw.

In Britain the picture is more complicated. Labour is the party of regulation but it is also the government that has presided over the financial fiasco. By contrast, Cameron has tried to move the Tories away from being seen as the party of the fat cats.

Ahead lies a political as well as a financial battle. As Luigi Zingales, professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago, put it: “Do we want to live in a system where profits are private but losses are socialised? Where taxpayer money is used to prop up failed firms? Or do we want to live in a system where people are held responsible for their decisions?

“For somebody like me who believes strongly in the free market system, the most serious risk is that the interests of a few financiers will undermine the fundamental workings of the capitalist system. The time has come to save capitalism from the capitalists.”

What you could do with $700 billion instead

Return $5,072 to each of America’s 138m taxpayers

Set up the 17th largest economy in the world, with a gross domestic product roughly equal to Turkey’s, or about twice that of Saudi Arabia, Greece and Austria

Pay for about 10 years of British defence spending

Run the US Treasury and departments of defence, education, state, veterans affairs and interior for a year - and have enough left over to fund Nasa’s space programme

Buy gold and foreign currency worth more than 12 times Britain’s reserves

Fill America’s cars with free petrol for about a year and a half

Nickelback - Gotta Be Somebody Lyrics and MP3 Download Here

I guess everyone want to know about Nickelback and their asshole singer Chad Turton (AKA CHAD KROEGER.) So Chad made time away from his court appearances appealing his drunk driving chrage to make an album. Poor little baby got pissed and raced his Lambourghini down some residential back roads in Langley. Chad, ever have anyone you know KILLED BY A DRUNK DRIVER.

ANyways, all that crap aside, here is the new single available on download. You can go to their site and give them all your private information and sign up for their junk mail sell your email address service, or simply get it Here Gotta Be Somebody.mp3

Nickelback announced the title of their new album, Dark Horse. They are also surprising fans
with a free download, available only today for 24 hours. “Gotta Be Somebody” can be downloaded by clicking on this link Gotta Be Somebody.mp3 and saving the file to your hard drive. If you are worried about security, right click and save it to your harddrive, then scan it for viruses and spyware, no need to worry though, aside from being covered in Chad shit, it is clean. You can find those below. After the free download period is over for “Gotta Be Somebody”, the single will be available for purchase on itunes. Nickleback signed a 360 deal with Live Nation, in an effort to promote their music in a more modern way, as they want to keep moving with the times. They are still obligated to two albums with Roadrunner, but will soon begin fulfilling their Live Nation commitments, including a world tour in 2009. Dark Horse is co-produced by Nickelback and Mutt Lange. Find video and lyrics for “Gotta Be Somebody” below.

Gotta Be Somebody.mp3

Nickelback “Gotta Be Somebody” Lyrics
This time I wonder what it fells like
To find the one in this life The one we all dream of
But dreams just tough enough
So I’ll be waiting for the real thing
I’ll know it by the feeling
The moment when we’re meeting
It’ll play out like a scene
Straight off the silver screen
So I’ll be holding my breath
Right up to the end
Until I move my way
I’ll find the one that
I’ll spend forever with
Cause nobody wants to be the last one there
Everyone wants to feel like someone cares
Someone to love with my life in their hands
There’s gotta be somebody for me like that
Cause nobody wants to do it on their own
Everyone wants to know they’re not alone
Somebody else that feels the same someway
There’s gotta be somebody for me out there
Tonight Out on the street Out in the moonlight
And dammit this feels too right
It’s just like déjàvu
Me standing here with you
So I’ll be holding my breath
Could this be the end?

Isn’t that movie where I find the one that I spend forever with

Cause nobody wants to be the last one there
Everyone wants to feel like someone cares
Someone to love with my life in their hands
There’s gotta be somebody for me like that
Cause nobody wants to do it on their own
Everyone wants to know they’re not alone
Somebody else that feels the same someway
There’s gotta be somebody for me out there

Gotta Be Somebody.mp3

Sacha Baron Cohen Crashes Run Way


Judging by the hand gripping Sacha Baron Cohen's interesting outfit, it's obvious he wasn't supposed to be on the runway Thursday at Milan Fashion Week.

Still, Cohen (embodied by yet another one of his alter egos, this time the overly flamboyant Austrian model Bruno) stormed through the Agatha Ruiz de la Prada show with a vengeance.

He strutted the entire runway before being escorted off, then detained by Italian police.

Maybe they should've just let him walk. His outfit was a tad ridiculous, but it blends in surprisingly well with everything you see during these over-the-top fashion shows anyways.

At one point Cohen opened his cloak to reveal various accessories strapped to his body, including a boot, a purse and a jacket. So really Cohen's outfit could be considered not only trendy, but useful. You'll always have an emergency set of clothes handy.

It's functional fashion. Just wait, this style will be all over the runways soon enough, and you'll be standing in line to buy boots you can strap to your belt.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Laura Bush - A Car Killing in Texas

There is an old rumour popping up on the internet today and it rotates around Laura Bush Killing either a high school boyfriend or fellow classmate when she was 17.

Laura Bush is tight-lipped about this stain on her past, but say something serious about hubby George and she is a regular she-devil. After Bush fiddled with a guitar in San Diego as people in New Orleans clung to rooftops (reminds you of Nero fiddling while Rome burned), after he brazenly stated that "nobody anticipated that the levees would break" (actually, scientists and engineers have warned of this for years), after he failed to send federal help for four days (possibly because most of the help is in Iraq) -- First Lady Laura Bush is trying to cover for him, taking the photo-op trips and making the rounds of the talk shows. It's pretty bad when Laura Bush is the best leadership this country has to offer. All she has to offer is that the comments of Kanye West -- that George Bush "doesn't care about black people" -- are "disgusting."


This is one of the stories investigated thoroughly in the unauthorized (very) biography by Kitty Kelley, "The Bush Family," which tells of the deeds of the Bush family and how they have been covered up.

At about 7:30 p.m. on November 6, 1963, Laura Welch [now Bush] left her family home at 2500 Humble Ave. in Midland, Texas, after some sort of incident. She headed north on Lanham St. and, after four blocks, turned right and stopped to pick up her girlfriend, Judy Dykes, at 2409 Neely Ave.

A couple of blocks east, Laura headed north again on North Garfield St. and headed out of town in the direction of her boyfriend's house.

Michael Dutton Douglas, also 17 and also a senior at Lee High School, left his home before Laura got into the vicinity. He left with his dad close behind, perhaps in pursuit.

At the north edge of town, Laura turned her big new Chevrolet Impala left again, heading east on farm-to-market (FM) road FM 868.

Meanwhile, Michael was leaving his home on Solomon Drive, heading east toward the highway, state route 349, a couple hundred yards away. From here, he would turn right, south, on 349 toward the fateful meeting at FM 868.

If Laura or Judy was watching, they could see Michael's car, or at least its headlights, on his street, Solomon Dr., which paralleled FM 868 and was the first street to the left.

Later, Laura reported she didn't even see his headlights even as he, headed south, approached the intersection with FM 868. In the 1000 yards to the intersection, he had time to accelerate to the legal speed limit of 65 mph.

The police report said it was dark but that, otherwise, driving conditions were ideal. It is easy to overlook a car in daytime, but on a dark night, it is hard not to notice the headlights of an approaching car, about the only light around, except for what one's headlights illuminate. In fact, Laura could have seen Michael's car even sooner, driving down his road, parallel to her path.

That night, Laura didn't see the headlights of Michael's Corvair. As she approached the state highway doing 50-something miles per hour, according to the police report, she didn't see the stop sign either, she said.

Michael's little Corvair was no match for Laura's new land barge. The collision swung his car around fully three-quarters of a turn and set it skidding 50 feet to the east, in the same direction Laura's car was heading. It was like a billiard ball approaching from your left, and you hit it and it goes more or less straight away from you.

Michael died of a broken neck, at the scene. His father, who was following him, arrived seconds after the wreck. Laura was unhurt and Judy had insignificant injuries.

The police report noted that Laura committed two violations of traffic laws that contributed to the wreck: "Disregard stop sign or signal" and "[illegible]"

In the box labeled "Is investigation complete?", the police officer checked "No."

The officer went through all the proper motions: measured the skid marks, diagramed the wreck, went to the hospital to check on the dead (Michael) and others (Laura and Judy). He took statements from the survivors and photos of the wreckage. The next day, he filed his report.

He did not issue a citation to Laura Welch!!!! The investigation apparently was never completed. No grand jury was convened.

Laura had killed the most popular boy at school, more popular than Tommy Frank, also a student there, who later would become an Army general and lead US forces in the invasion of Iraq. She stayed home until about Christmas. DEPENDABLE LAURA BUSH

Outside of that, she has never missed a beat, certainly not a class reunion, where she still shows up and dances with all comers as First Lady of the United States.

Less than two years later, the heartbroken Douglas family - mother, father, and sister of Michael - moved out of town. It is not known whether they received any compensation for Michael's death. Certainly Laura's parents, Laura and Jenna H. Welch could afford to pay it, not to mention their insurance company. Welch built five of Midlands housing developments, which made him a wealthy man by small-town standards.

To this day residents of Midland talk of the wreck in hushed tones.


Laura Bush's mother has expressed thankfulness that it was *not her daughter that was killed*, since the Welches only had one child. This reminds of George Bush's attitude toward Cindy Sheehan (mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, USA, killed in action in Iraq): "It's not mah son!"

Laura Bush has never, ever acknowledged what the police report noted: Her violation of law had contributed to a young man's death. Never.


Media reports have appeared in "Reader's Digest" and other places with incorrect facts that would seem to be ameliorating circumstances. For example: Michael Douglas was driving an open Jeep, from which he could easily be thrown. The wreck happened right after a thunderstorm, which would imply that the pavement was wet and slick.

The fact is, Michael was driving a closed sedan that was very small and no match for Laura's much larger car. The pavement was dry, as the officer checked the box on the police report form. Laura never bothered to correct these and other misstatements, including the one that she was not Michael's girlfriend. She will not acknowledge the accident or even her relationship with the victim even to this day.

The true facts came out when the police report was released in 2000, 37 years after the fact, also after the Midland city attorney refused to release the report. The Texas attorney-general compelled the release of the report after a newspaper in another Texas town, Odessa, filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

Hurricane Kyle Heads Towards Home of New Brunswick Nuclear Reactor

Web Camera View from New Brunswick. For updated Live views of several camera's in the New Brunswick area effected by HURRICANE KYLE Click Here

Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station is a Canadian nuclear power station located in Point Lepreau, New Brunswick. The facility derives its name from the headland situated at the westernmost part of Saint John County upon which it is located (west of the city of Saint John).

The facility was constructed between 1975-1983 by the provincial Crown corporation, NB Power.

Southern New Brunswick and southwestern Nova Scotia were battening down Sunday in anticipation of Kyle, the 11th named storm of the current hurricane season.

Kyle's track was expected to bring it ashore near Point Lepreau, N.B., just west of the city of Saint John late Sunday or early Monday.

The strike on Point Lepreau New Brunswick is of particular interest because Point Lepreau is the home of the Only Nuclear Power facility in Eastern Canada.

The Point Lepreau station is the only nuclear facility located in eastern Canada and comprises 1 CANDU nuclear reactor located on the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy, having a total output of 640 MW (capacity net) and 680 MW (gross net).

Point Lepreau's CANDU 6 reactor was designed to last 25 years and was scheduled to be mothballed by 2008. In July 2005 NB Power announced that it was awarding Atomic Energy of Canada Limited a $1.4 billion (CAD) contract for refurbishing the generating station. This will extend the reactor's lifespan by approximately 30 years.

In 2007, AECL and partners in the Canadian nuclear industry began a $2.5 million feasibility study regarding the installation of a new 1100 MWe Advanced CANDU reactor at Point Lepreau, to supply power to New England.


MUGSHOT OF HEATHER LOCKLEAR - At 47 I think she is still beautiful

Actress Heather Locklear was arrested Saturday night on suspicion of drunk driving in Montecito, police said this morning.

Locklear, no longer in custody, was arrested by the California Highway Patrol and booked around 8 p.m., said Sgt. Alex Tipolt of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. He did not have further details.

Locklear is best known for television shows such as " Melrose Place" and "Spin City."

According to early reports, "Alcohol was not involved, however they are conducting tests to determine if Locklear was under the influence of drugs."
Heather apparently was released on her own recognizance (no bail required).

People reports that Heather was taken into custody Saturday night and released Sunday morning, but that could mean anything. She could have been arrested before midnight and released after.

Heather recently did a stint in rehab for anxiety and depression.

Her rep offered no comment on the arrest.

Death of Paul Newman effects the World

Paul Newman Dead at 83
The World Mourn's

Images of U.S. actor Paul Newman, who died late on Friday, adorned newspaper front pages around the world on Sunday, his piercing blue eyes vying for attention alongside headlines of the global financial crisis.

Underlining Newman's international appeal, Britain's Independent on Sunday featured his photograph across the whole of page one, relegating the latest news of the country's banking woes to the inside pages.

"Paul Newman: Death of King Cool" ran the caption headline in the Sunday Times above a portrait of the heartthrob and philanthropist, who died of cancer aged 83.

The Observer weekly devoted a two-page spread under the words: "An Actor of True Genius and a Man of Great Decency", focusing on Newman's philanthropy and devotion to his family, as well as on his big screen roles.

In France, politicians lined up to praise Newman, with President Nicolas Sarkozy hailing him as a "Hollywood legend".

"Actor, author, screenwriter, director, producer and philanthropist, he was also a great friend of France and fans of motor racing will remember his successive appearances at the Le Mans 24-hour race," Sarkozy said in a statement.

"The death of a good guy," France's main Sunday newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, said in a headline, giving over most of its front page to a photo of the U.S. actor.

Even conservative Muslim Iran, which would not usually concern itself with reporting on a Western film star, marked his death. Two pro-reform newspapers displayed the actor on their front pages while Iran's state media also reported his death.

The Etemad newspaper, published Newman's picture, saying "Fading away the last classic star" and the Kargozaran daily said "End of the blue-eyed boy".

In Germany as elsewhere, news television channels have been showing clips from his films.

"Paul Newman - the Last Hero is Dead" ran a headline on the back page of the mass-selling Bild am Sonntag. A strapline in the same newspaper read: "This damn cancer. Now it has killed the bluest eyes in the world!"

Several obituaries repeated comments he made about his famous good looks.

"I picture my epitaph," he was quoted as saying. "Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown."


The New York Times called him a "magnetic Hollywood titan", and in Italy actress Sophia Loren, who appeared in the film "Lady L" with Newman, called the news "a blow".

"When such important personalities die, one despairs and thinks that, little by little, all the greats are disappearing," she told the Il Messaggero daily.

Israeli actor Haim Topol, who Newman helped to set up camps for children with incurable diseases, called him a "dear human being".

"He busied himself with the professional rather than with PR," Topol told Israel Radio. "His main motto was, 'If you do not exploit your success in order to improve things in the world, then you are really wasting it'."

Paul Leonard Newman, known as "PL" to friends, appeared in more than 50 movies, including "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting".

He earned nine Oscar nominations for acting and won the best actor award for 1986's "The Color of Money."

A director and race car driver as well as an actor, Newman was also known for his extensive philanthropy. He created Newman's Own food products, which funnelled more than $250 million in profits to thousands of charities worldwide.

Newman said his deepest satisfaction came from philanthropy.

Particularly close to his heart were his Hole-in-the-Wall Camps for seriously ill children. Today, there are 11 around the world that have helped over 135,000 kids, all free of charge.

Newman is survived by his wife of 50 years Joanne Woodward, five daughters, two grandsons, and his older brother, Arthur. Newman also had a son Scott, who died in 1978.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Angelina Jolie old picture

Everyone is still bumping around the internet to check out pictures of the Brangelina twins. I don't know about Knox and whatsherface but here is a picture of Angelina's Twins getting some extra attention from a Horse (Back in the Billy Bob days).
All I can say is.... Lucky Horse

Paul Newman Dies in his Home?

Sad to say, the reports of Paul Newmans Death are true

Unconfirmed reports as of now say PAUL NEWMAN has Died of Lung Cancer. A few months back, Paul Newman was given only months to live. Recent reports have Paul Newman telling the public he wanted to die in peace in his own home.

Here is some past information on Paul Newman and his cancer diagnosis.

Legendary actor Paul Newman was forced to cancel a recent appearance at a charity event as a result of his declining health, according to new reports.

The 83-year-old Oscar-winner was allegedly given weeks to live last month (Aug08), prompted by reports he had completed chemotherapy treatment at a New York hospital - where he was photographed leaving looking thin and frail.

Rumours of his declining health and alleged lung cancer diagnosis surfaced earlier this year (08), following his withdrawal as director from a production of Of Mice and Men in his native Connecticut.

At the time of the reports, Newman's spokesman denied the actor had cancer.

But according to new claims, Newman was forced to bow out of the event in their Connecticut hometown - where he was set to co-chair with his wife Joanne Woodward on 15 September (08).

A source tells the National Enquirer: "Joanne had dearly hoped Paul could attend the charity gala at the Westport Country Playhouse, which she built for the community.

She knew he'd want to say a few words publicly.

"But Paul couldn't do it. Some of their closest Hollywood pals were there, including Julia Roberts, Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones and Bernadette Peters... Paul assured Joanne that he'd be supporting her in spirit."

Friday, September 26, 2008

HURRICANE KYLE Forms off the Atlantic Coast

The 2008 Hurricane season has been a very productive HURRICANE SEASON to say the least. As if HURRICANE IKE and GUSTAV were not enough, there is a new HURRICANE THREAT forming off the Atlantic Coast.

HURRICANE KYLE is slowly moving towards land and by the looks of things will move its' way up the entire East Cost causing possible power outages and flash floods as it goes. For constantly updated INFORMATION ON HURRICANE KYLE, check out the HTBW HURRICANE TRACKER BLOG. We kept the world abreast of the happenings of HURRICANE IKE and GUSTAV with live web camera views of the effected area's and plan to do the same for HURRICANE KYLE.

For more information on HURRICANE KYLE including LIVE WEBCAMS from the effected area's

Supply disruptions in the Colonial Pipeline have contributed to gasoline shortages across the southeastern U.S. - Sparking a SEARCH FOR GAS IN ATLANTA


Atlanta Georgia is suffering a sever Gas Shortage. No need to go without, we are here with a list of WHO HAS GASOLINE IN ATLANTA and the surrounding area.
HTBW Is on a contstant searc for gas stations with a stock of gasoline so you don't ave to waste your money running around looking for GAS IN ATLANTA.

IF you run into a station with a ready supply of Gasoline in the ATLANTA AREA, please feel free to post your comments here. Please help your fellow commuters find gasoline in Georgia.

Gasoline shortages hit towns across the southeastern United States this week, sparking panic buying, long lines and high prices at stations from the small towns of northeast Alabama to Charlotte in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

In Atlanta, half of the gasoline stations were closed, according to AAA, which said the supply disruptions had taken place along two major petroleum product pipelines that have operated well below capacity since the hurricanes knocked offshore oil production and several refineries out of service along the Gulf of Mexico.

Drivers in Charlotte reported lines with as many as 60 cars waiting to fill up late Wednesday night, and a community college in Asheville, N.C., where most of the 25,000 students commute, canceled classes and closed down Wednesday afternoon for the rest of the week. Shortages also hit Nashville, Knoxville and Spartanburg, S.C., AAA said.

Terrance Bragg, a chef in Charlotte, made it to work only because his grandfather drove from a town an hour away with a 5-gallon plastic container of fuel for him. Three of his co-workers called and said they couldn't make it.

"I drove past nine or ten gasoline stations that were out of gas," Bragg said. "I had my GPS up looking for any gas in the area, from the mom-and-pop places to the corporate gas stations. Nothing. They were all taped off."

Liz Clasen-Kelly, associate director of a homeless assistance center in Charlotte, took the bus to work yesterday. On Wednesday night, she and her husband checked five stations that had no gas, passed a long line backed up onto the interstate highway and chose not to wait at an open gas station with 50 to 60 cars still lined up after 11 p.m.

"If we had waited in that line, our car wouldn't have made it," she said, adding that the gauge was pointing to empty. The bus yesterday took her 45 minutes longer than usual. "It makes you realize how addicted you are to convenience," she said.

In Atlanta, Jonathan Tyson, a Douglasville, Ga., resident who works for a company that does training for auto and RV franchise dealerships, ran out of fuel while waiting an hour in a line about 60 cars long to fill up his Land Rover. A man from the car behind helped push Tyson's vehicle down the road.

"It was crazy," Tyson said. "People were standing on side of road with gas cans saying they'd pay the person to run a [credit] card through just to get gas so they didn't run out before they got up to the pump themselves."

The city government, which uses 10,000 gallons a day, barred the public from two stations to make sure it could keep municipal vehicles running. On Wednesday night with his fuel gauge at empty, Al T. Nottage, a senior communications specialist in the Atlanta mayor's office, looked for fuel at six stations, all closed, then called AAA and said he had run out of gasoline. It brought him two gallons, enough to get to work yesterday.

AAA spokesman John Townsend said that Colonial Pipeline, a leading supplier in the region, and the smaller Plantation Pipeline, which belongs to Kinder Morgan, were functioning below capacity because of lingering refinery problems along the Gulf coast. A spokesman for Colonial, whose Web site displays a news release from Sept. 10 before Hurricane Ike hit, did not return calls for comment.

The Energy Department said that as of Wednesday 63 percent, or 800,000 barrels a day, of production in the Gulf of Mexico was still shut down as were five refineries with a combined capacity of 1.2 million barrels a day. The refineries produce a half-million barrels of gasoline a day, or about 5 percent of the nation's total supplies. Other refineries are still working at less than full capacity. Hurricane Gustav landed Sept. 1, and Ike hit Sept. 13.

"The production loss is similar to what was lost after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina," said Anne Peebles, a Shell Oil spokeswoman. "This time the physical damage [to oil facilities] was not as great, but the down time with the storms hitting back to back is similar." She said that "more fuel is coming" as facilities gradually ramp up again, but "we do think that production availability will normalize in the next several weeks."

Townsend said that the Colonial pipeline normally carries 100 million gallons a day, traveling about 2,500 miles from Texas, Louisiana and Alabama to 267 marketing terminals across the East and Southeast. Although nearly 15 percent of the gas stations in Virginia were reporting outages last week, the Washington region has been able to tap into supplies from areas such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which can more readily obtain supplies from tanker and other pipelines. Earlier supply problems in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Tallahassee also had eased, he said.

Other areas of the country were not so fortunate. An Atlanta Exxon dealer said that his station's allocation was only 40 percent of normal.

Mike Thornburgh, a spokesperson at QuikTrip, said that half of the gasoline retailer's 111 Atlanta area stations were open, up from a quarter last weekend. He said that QuikTrip was trying to keep stores open near commuters and schools. He said he didn't know when things would return to normal.

"I can't give a concrete answer because I don't believe anybody knows," he said.

Public officials appealed for calm as it appeared that panic buying might exacerbate supply problems if motorists try to keep more fuel than usual in their tanks. The Environmental Protection Agency suspended regulations for antipollution additives to help ease the supply situation.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue provoked some angry comments on the Atlanta Journal Constitution Web site, which quoted him as saying that "there is ample fuel in the city" and that some of the panic was "self-induced."

"Perdue says we got ample gas supplies," wrote one reader. "Then why is it that every gas station in my area is out of gas. Some have been out for over 4 days."

Prices were high in cities hurt by shortages, though not as high as they were immediately after the hurricanes. In Charlotte, price ranged from $3.84 to a high of $4.31 a gallon for regular gasoline. AAA's Townsend said that travelers to the affected areas should "be prepared for sticker shock, Southern style."

So far the area's most effected by the fuel shortage in Georgia are as follows

22% - North Metro, GA
8% - Smyrna, GA
8% - Norcross, GA

Related Internet searches on who has Gas in Georgia are below
find gas in atlanta, where to find gas in atlanta, gas in atlanta, atlanta gas, who has gas

Mohammed Hussain got 3,000 gallons of gas delivered to his Chevron station in suburban Atlanta on Saturday. By Sunday morning, all of the gas, priced at $4.39 per gallon for regular unleaded, was gone.

"We're dry. We've got no gas here," Hussain, the station's manager, said Monday morning.

He said he has "no idea" when the next shipment will come, even though he's been in constant contact with the local terminal.

"It could be days," he said. "Obviously, we're disappointed. We're being patient. That's all we can do."

Across metro Atlanta, drivers in one of the nation's largest commuter cities are running into the same thing: a lack of gas and no clear idea when the situation will get better. State and industry officials say they're working as fast as they can and are urging people not to panic.

Christina Wedge, a resident of the Atlanta suburb Decatur, said her tank was on empty Sunday. When she went to fill up, she passed six stations closed down before finally finding one with gas for nearly $5 a gallon. She got just enough to continue looking for a cheaper price. Watch how hurricanes have wreaked havoc with gas in the South »

About a mile away, she found a station with long lines for gas around $4.29.

"I waited 30 minutes to get gas," she said. "It does concern me. I'm actually frustrated that the prices are so high."

Michael Lanfreschi, an iReporter from the suburb of Alpharetta, shared a similar story. He said he left work around noon to fill up his tank "when I started noticing all of the gas stations were empty." iReport.com: Watch gas-thirsty Georgians waiting for tanker

"There was no gas to be found, then panic set in as I approached a gas station with a 40-car line," he said. "This is causing complete chaos. Why is this happening, and what actions are being taken to prevent this from happening again, and why did it happen in the first place?"

According to AAA, Atlanta's drivers are in for sticker shock when they do find a station with gasoline. The average price in metro Atlanta, as of Monday, for a gallon of regular unleaded was $4.02, nearly 30 cents higher than the national average of $3.74

The gas supply has taken a major hit as refineries in the Houston area try to get back up to full capacity in the wake of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, state and industry officials say. The Colonial Pipeline, which typically delivers 100 million gallons of gasoline, aviation fuel and other petroleum products throughout the southeastern United States, is not running at full capacity.

"Since the hurricanes both hit, we have been tapping the reserves of the stockpiles of the fuels that were made before the hurricanes hit, and we've been delivering those," said Steve Baker, a spokesman for the pipeline.

"That's caused us to operate at a reduced rate, less than we're capable of. So that's been part of the problem that we've faced, and we're trying to overcome."

Further complicating matters is that metro Atlanta has more stringent environmental requirements than other areas, meaning gas from other cities can't be brought in because it doesn't meet the city's smog requirements. The state is working with the state energy agency and the Environmental Protection Agency about getting a temporary waiver of that rule, said Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue's office.

"I don't want anyone to think that's a panacea," he said.

But he added, "Anything that would help us get another truckload or two ... is going to help the situation."

Brantley said the state has already lifted some regulations allowing for drivers to work more hours to get fuel from the main terminal to stations and for heavier trucks to be allowed to carry larger loads than normal. The state is asking people who don't need to fill up their tanks to wait until later before doing so.

"There's somewhat of a shortage right now, but it certainly could get a lot worse if people were to panic and react in a way that would cause a run and drain what supply there is out there now," Brantley said. "That's why we're encouraging Georgians to conserve as much as possible."

The state would not offer a timeframe on when the situation might return to normal. Brantley, however, said the situation with Houston's refineries is getting better every day.

Jim Tudor, the president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, which represents about 2,600 stores, praised the state for lifting some of the restrictions to allow for quicker delivery of fuel.

"We are working as fast as possible to try to get as many stations refilled," he said. "Having said that, we're still in catch-up mode."

That brings little relief to consumers.

Dustin Gatlin said he waited 45 minutes Sunday at an Atlanta QuikTrip before it shut down. He then waited for well over an hour at a different station.

"Yesterday, we were in line for about two hours and they actually had people [who worked for the gas station] out there directing traffic because there were people jumping in line, and they actually had to get people out there to watch," he said.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


As the debate over a $700 billion bank bailout rages on in Washington, one of the nation's largest banks — Washington Mutual Inc. — has collapsed under the weight of its enormous bad bets on the mortgage market.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized WaMu on Thursday, and then sold the thrift's banking assets to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $1.9 billion.

Seattle-based WaMu, which was founded in 1889, is the largest bank to fail by far in the country's history. Its $307 billion in assets eclipse the $40 billion of Continental Illinois National Bank, which failed in 1984, and the $32 billion of IndyMac, which the government seized in July.

One positive is that the sale of WaMu's assets to JPMorgan Chase prevents the thrift's collapse from depleting the FDIC's insurance fund. But that detail is likely to give only marginal solace to Americans facing tighter lending and watching their stock portfolios plunge in the wake of the nation's most momentous financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Because of WaMu's souring mortgages and other risky debt, JPMorgan plans to write down WaMu's loan portfolio by about $31 billion — a figure that could change if the government goes through with its bailout plan and JPMorgan decides to take advantage of it.

"We're in favor of what the government is doing, but we're not relying on what the government is doing. We would've done it anyway," JPMorgan's Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said in a conference call Thursday night, referring to the acquisition. Dimon said he does not know if JPMorgan will take advantage of the bailout.

WaMu is JPMorgan Chase's second acquisition this year of a major financial institution hobbled by losing bets on mortgages. In March, JPMorgan bought the investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. for about $1.4 billion, plus another $900 million in stock ahead of the deal to secure it.

JPMorgan Chase is now the second-largest bank in the United States after Bank of America Corp., which recently bought Merrill Lynch in a flurry of events that included Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. going bankrupt and American International Group Inc., the world's largest insurer, getting taken over by the government.

JPMorgan also said Thursday it plans to sell $8 billion in common stock to raise capital.

The downfall of WaMu has been widely anticipated for some time because of the company's heavy mortgage-related losses. As investors grew nervous about the bank's health, its stock price plummeted 95 percent from a 52-week high of $36.47 to its close of $1.69 Thursday. On Wednesday, it suffered a ratings downgrade by Standard & Poor's that put it in danger of collapse.

WaMu "was under severe liquidity pressure," FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair told reporters in a conference call.

"For all depositors and other customers of Washington Mutual Bank, this is simply a combination of two banks," Bair said in a statement. "For bank customers, it will be a seamless transition. There will be no interruption in services and bank customers should expect business as usual come Friday morning."

Besides JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc., HSBC, Spain's Banco Santander and Toronto-Dominion Bank of Canada were also reportedly possible suitors. WaMu was believed to be talking to private equity firms as well.

The seizure by the government means shareholders' equity in WaMu was wiped out. The deal leaves private equity investors including the firm TPG Capital, which gave WaMu a cash infusion totaling $7 billion this spring, on the sidelines empty handed.

WaMu ran into trouble after it got caught up in the once-booming subprime mortgage business. Troubles then spread to other parts of WaMu's home loan portfolio, namely its "option" adjustable-rate mortgage loans. Option ARM loans offer very low introductory payments and let borrowers defer some interest payments until later years. The bank stopped originating those loans in June.

Problems in WaMu's home loan business began to surface in 2006, when the bank reported that the division lost $48 million, compared with net income of about $1 billion in 2005.

At the start of 2007, following the release of the company's annual financial report, then-CEO Kerry Killinger said the bank had prepared for a slowdown in its housing business by sharply reducing its subprime mortgage lending and servicing of loans. Alan H. Fishman, the former president and chief operating officer of Sovereign Bank and president and CEO of Independence Community Bank, replaced Killinger earlier this month.

As more borrowers became delinquent on their mortgages, WaMu worked to help troubled customers refinance their loans as a way to avoid default and foreclosure, committing $2 billion to the effort last April. But that proved to be too little, too late.

At the same time, fears of growing credit problems kept investors from purchasing debt backed by those loans, drying up a source of cash flow for banks that made subprime loans.

In December, WaMu said it would shutter its subprime lending business and reduce expenses with layoffs and a dividend cut.

The bank in July reported a $3 billion second-quarter loss — the biggest in its history — as it boosted its reserves to more than $8 billion to cover losses on bad loans. Over the last three quarters, it added $10.9 billion to its loan-loss provisions.

JPMorgan Chase said it was not acquiring any senior unsecured debt, subordinated debt, and preferred stock of WaMu's banks, or any assets or liabilities of the holding company, Washington Mutual Inc. JPMorgan also said it will not take on the lawsuits facing the holding company.

JPMorgan Chase said the acquisition will give it 5,400 branches in 23 states, and that it plans to close less than 10 percent of the two companies' branches.

The WaMu acquisition would add 50 cents per share to JPMorgan's earnings in 2009, the bank said, adding that it expects to have pretax merger costs of approximately $1.5 billion while achieving pretax savings of approximately $1.5 billion by 2010.

"This is a definite win for JPMorgan," said Sebastian Hindman, an analyst at SNL Financial, who said JPMorgan should be able to shoulder the $31 billion writedown to WaMu's portfolio.


Washington Mutual is being sold to J.P. Morgan in what is being called the largest banking failure in U.S. history.

Federal regulators seized the bank Thursday and then sold the assets and branches to J.P. Morgan Chase and Company for $1.9 billion. The Seattle-based bank has roughly $310 billion in assets.

The FDIC said all Washington Mutual branches will be open and operating normally Friday.

Some WaMu customers Action News spoke to heard rumors about the bank having troubles.

"It's quite a surprise to me, actually," said San Luis Obispo WaMu customer Sean Ingoldsby. "I was hearing something about WaMu, you should get out, you know, there's something going down with WaMu right now."

It is the second time that J.P. Morgan has taken over a financial institution suffering from bad mortgages this year. They bought Bear Stearns back in May.

Washington Mutual has 700 branches throughout California.

PETA Pulling for Human Breast Milk Ice Cream

The group PETA never disappoints in their quest for animal rights. Their latest campaign urges ice cream company Ben & Jerry's to use human breast milk, instead of cow's milk in their products.

In a letter to the company's founders, PETA notes that a restaurant in Switzerland is set to unveil a new menu with products made with at least 75 percent breast milk taken from human donors.

The organization claims that switching to breast milk would be medically beneficial to humans, and also spare the cows, which are forcefully impregnated every nine months to keep them producing milk.

Although this may be true, I just have to say... gross. The people over at Ben & Jerry's apparently thought the same thing. They issued a letter to the group saying thanks but no thanks, a mother's milk is meant for her child.

Sarah Palin - The Jew Hunter

Rep. Alcee Hastings told a group of Jewish Republicans in Florida they should fear Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin because she has a gun and hunts.

Standing along side Hilary Clinton, the Florida Democratic Congressman said, "Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks."

He then challenged the audience, "If Sarah Palin isn't enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention.
The audience was made up of Jewish and African-American Democrats and appeared receptive to the message.

Hastings, who supported Clinton during the primaries, told others like him, to accept that their candidate lost and "Get over it!".

Here is some right wing gun toting red neck view of the whole gun thing

Apparently Mr. Hastings, like so many Progressives, hasn't thought anything through when it comes to gun rights and advocacy.

Some history: the National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded in 1871 New York by two former Union officers, William Church and George Wingate, and had as its first President former Union General Ambrose Burnside, a Republican. In fact, 8 of the first 10 Presidents of the NRA were Republicans.

Following the post-Civil War slaughters of Black Republicans, most notably in 1868, America passed the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which was signed into law by Republican Ulysses S. Grant.

Propagandist Michael Moore famously attempted to fabricate a connection between the NRA and KKK by noting that the NRA was founded the same year the KK was banned. What he didn't say was that the KKK was founded by former Confederates, many of whom were Democrats. One of the early missions of the NRA was to get arms into the hands of Southern Blacks and train them so that Blacks could protect themselves and their families from predation. As a result, Black Americans swelled the rolls of southern NRA chapters.

Today, it's the NRA that supports the most basic right of every living thing: the right to self-defense. It is Progressives who oppose that right -- like Alcee Hastings and Barack Obama, who supports gun rights only for hunting and target shooting.

The proof of the pudding is in the tasting: name a city with strong gun control laws, and you will also likely name a city where young Black kids still die in droves from violence. Start with Washington, D.C. (where a draconian gun ban - recently overturned by the Supreme Court - was favored by Mr. Obama). From there, go to Detroit, Los Angeles, Oakland and maybe end in Chicago, where Progressives like Mr. Obama and his friend William Ayers are constantly advocating policies that destroy the lives, education and safety of Black adults and children.

When you're done in Chicago, look to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, or, go back in time to the Warsaw Ghetto. If there's a pro- self-defense advocate who only calls for White people to own a weapon, this writer is not aware of it.

In fact, despite the ridiculous smears of "fascism" Progressives are so quick to employ, many pro-gun advocates will point to such laws as the 1938 German Weapons Act, which forbade Jews from owning weapons, and made it easier for the National Socialists to murder them. For a month in Warsaw, however, 750 Polish Jews armed only with small arms smuggled into the ghetto exacted a heavy price on the German National Socialists for their genocidal ambitions.

Today, Israelis understand the value of a society well-trained in the use of a firearm, even if many of their cousins in America have forgotten the lessons of the past.

A simple question: what killed more children in the 20th century: domestic gun murders or governments acting against their own people? There is no contest. Yet Progressives ceaselessly insist that self-defense advocates are the least concerned when it comes to defending the lives of minorities, women and children.

The facts show that they couldn't be more wrong.


Alcee Lamar Hastings (born September 5, 1936) is a member of the House of Representatives representing Florida's 23rd congressional district.

Born in Altamonte Springs, Florida, Hastings was educated at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; and Florida A&M University. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1970, losing in the first primary to Lawton Chiles.

A Representative since 1993 and a Democrat, Hastings was a lawyer and judge of the circuit court of Broward County, Florida and of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida (1979 to 1989). He was impeached and removed from office for corruption and perjury. He is only the sixth federal judge to be impeached and removed from office in American history.

In 1981, Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets for 21 counts of racketeering by Frank and Thomas Romano, and of perjury in his testimony about the case. He was acquitted by a jury after his alleged co-conspirator, William Borders, refused to testify in court (resulting in a jail sentence for Borders).

In 1988, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413-3. Voters to impeach included Democratic Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, John Conyers and Charles Rangel. He was then convicted in 1989 by the United States Senate, becoming the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate. The vote on the first article was 69 for and 26 opposed, providing five votes more than the two-thirds of those present that were needed to convict. The first article accused the judge of conspiracy. Conviction on any single article was enough to remove the judge from office. The Senate vote cut across party lines, with Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont voting to convict his fellow party member, and Arlen Specter voting to acquit.

The Senate had the option to forbid Hastings from ever seeking federal office again, but did not do so. Alleged co-conspirator, attorney William Borders went to jail again for refusing to testify in the impeachment proceedings, but was later given a full pardon by Bill Clinton on his last day in office.

Hastings filed suit in federal court claiming that his impeachment trial was invalid because he was tried by a Senate committee, not in front of the full Senate, and that he had been acquitted in a criminal trial. Judge Stanley Sporkin ruled in favor of Hastings, remanding the case back to the Senate, but stayed his ruling pending the outcome of an appeal to the Supreme Court in a similar case regarding Judge Walter Nixon, who had also been impeached and removed.

Sporkin found some "crucial distinctions" between Nixon's case and Hastings', specifically, that Nixon had been convicted criminally, and that Hastings was not found guilty by two-thirds of the committee who actually "tried" his impeachment in the Senate. He further added that Hastings had a right to trial by the full Senate.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled in Nixon v. United States that the federal courts have no jurisdiction over Senate impeachment matters, so Sporkin's ruling was vacated and Hastings' conviction and removal were upheld.

Candidacy for state office
In 1990, Hastings attempted to make a political comeback by running for the office of Florida Secretary of State, campaigning on a platform of legalizing casinos. In a three-way Democratic primary, he placed second with 313,758 votes, or 33%, behind newspaper columnist Jim Minter's 357,340 votes (38%) and ahead of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon John Paul Rogers' 275,370 votes (29%). In the runoff, which saw a large dropoff in turnout, Hastings lost to Minter in a landslide, 300,022 votes to 146,375. Minter would go on to lose the general election to incumbent Republican Jim Smith.

Congressional career
Hastings was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1992, representing Florida's 23rd district. After placing second in the initial Democratic primary for the post, he scored an upset victory over State Representative Lois J. Frankel in the runoff and went on to easily win election the heavily-Democratic district. He has not faced a serious election challenge since.

He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and was elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in July 2004. Today, as a Senior Democratic Whip, Hastings is an influential member of the Democratic leadership. Congressman Hastings is also a member of the powerful House Rules Committee and is a senior Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). On the HPSCI, Hastings is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

He was one of the 31 who voted in the House not to count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.

House Intelligence Committee controversy
After the 2006 United States House of Representatives elections, Hastings attracted controversy after it was reported that incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might appoint him as head of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Pelosi reportedly favored Hastings instead of the ranking Democrat Jane Harman due to political differences and support for Hastings by the Congressional Black Caucus.

On November 28, 2006, Pelosi announced that Hastings would not be the Committee's chairman, and later she chose Silvestre Reyes instead. While Congressman Hastings was passed over to chair the committee he became chair of a sub-committee.

Controversial comments regarding Sarah Palin
On September 24, 2008, Hastings came under fire for controversial comments made regarding Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Hastings, speaking in Washington D.C. to a conference sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council, said "If Sarah Palin isn’t enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention. Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through."