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   Now in our tenth calendar year!
   PCR #480 (Vol. 10, No. 23). This edition is for the week of June 1--7, 2009.

"The Hangover"  by Mike Smith
Series Retrospective: Land of the Lost  by ED Tucker
"Out of the Ashes" by Skip Allen  by Lisa Scherer Ciurro
It’s Official .... China Gets Hummer & Dealerships Do Or Die .... Meanwhile In North Korea .... More Taxes? .... Radio Station Fees .... Defining The Enemy .... ....  by Brandon Jones
Classic .... In Space, No One Can Hear The Word Prequel .... Passing On .... This Is Justice? .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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State of the Nation

It’s Official

GM is Bankrupt

The government’s grand experiment in bailouts added another failed entity to the list of casualties. Billions spent and the end result is still a trip to bankruptcy court. Watch over the next couple of weeks as the fate of Saturn, Saab, dozens of plants, hundreds of dealerships, and thousands of jobs will all be determined.

Meanwhile Ford is silent, withholding their begging bowl from the government gravy train. How long until there’s a conflict of interest lawsuit?

If the UAW has controlling interest in Chrysler and GM, how can the UAW be fair in labor negotiations with Ford? As the government changes regulation, are we to believe that they will be neutral to Ford and not to be directed to the benefit of GM and Chrysler? For example, isn’t the government’s regulation that 35mpg would be the standard in direct opposition to Ford’s #1 seller, the F150?

Over the next few weeks we’ll get the details of the “New” GM and what the taxpayers get for their $30 billions.

In 1980, a fully foreseeable but even more dreaded statistic had floated across the Pacific. Japan for the first time surpassed the United States as the leading automobile-producing nation in the world. That same year GM reported its first annual loss ($763 million) since 1921."
- Ralph Nader, book “The Big Boys”
(The book is a boring, but insightful read)

GM and Citibank off the Dow

In the wake of the GM disaster, the DOW Jones oversight committee dropped GM and Citigroup, replacing them with Cisco and Travelers insurance.

"We were reluctant to remove Citigroup at the height of the financial frenzy, but it is clear that the bank is in the midst of a substantial restructuring which will see the government with a large and ongoing stake," said Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief of Dow Jones, in a statement.1

In the article, the author refers to Citigroup as “essentially a government ward”. Which bailout dollar was spent that worked to save or improve a situation?

Caterpillar is also mentioned, amidst a 50% pay cut for over 150 employees as “rolling layoffs” spreads around the pain of job loss. Expect to hear Caterpillar in future conversations of unemployment and bankruptcy.2

1. http://www.indexuniverse.com/sections/newsinfocus/5926-gm-citigroup-removed-from-dow.html

2. http://www.jconline.com/article/20090602/NEWS09/90602025

China gets Hummer & Dealerships Do or Die

Immediately following the announced bankruptcy, GM closed the deal to sell Hummer to a China company without disclosing any details -- the deal was coordinated by Citigroup (I wish I was joking).

Also, the strict guidelines and settlement letters went out to dealerships outlining operation instructions and new rules as GM trims 5,000 dealerships to 3,600. Plan by the rules or go to court and get “terminated.”

Does anyone think it's a bad idea to sell the Chinese Hummers? I can't seem to visualize a posse of Chinese cruising around Beijing.


Meanwhile in North Korea

North Korea proceeded with their underground nuclear test on Memorial Day but there’s been a little news regarding the two hostages (Laura Ling and Euna Lee) who stand trial this week. Their families have been featured on some shows, “Nightline” for example”, but their detention hasn’t been in the forefront of the North Korea debates.

In a CNN video: “Undercover in the Secret State”, a woman is beaten to death for not having the proper travel papers.1 The North Koreans starve their people as they sell arms and technology to Iran and Syria.

What can the US State Department do to protect nearby countries, particularly South Korea and Japan? The Chinese are protecting the North Koreans from heavy handed sanctions, freezing assets and searching ships entering and leaving North Korea.

Another missile launch seems imminent this week, as does the concern over their race to nuclear technology.


More taxes?

I didn’t cover the groups and coalitions moving to tax beer. Similar to smoking, the rational will always be to curb consumption, but increases from 0.5 cent to 3 cents is hardly going to break banks, but simply generate revenue.

When that revenue isn’t enough, it will be something else, some other “vice tax” on meat, fatty or fried foods, frequent flyer miles, credit card perks – the government is like a parasite trying find something to tax to survive.

Private healthcare benefits are also under attack. The contributions by your employer will have less of a tax benefit and the benefits themselves will possibly be considered taxable income (or evaluated to be a taxable benefit.) This is devastating for a non-profit company where I work which offers great benefits and probably gets drastically reduced rates based on their non-profit status.

If you think there’s an end in sight, go read VAT (Value Added Taxation) or GST (Goods & Services Taxation) and see what’s coming as the bills pile up in Washington.

Radio Station Fees

A proposed resolution in the House of Representatives would increase charges for radio stations and the songs they play. The fees would go to the recording industry. Recording companies say the money would trickle down to the artists who perform the songs as well as backup singers. Radio stations already pay fees to organizations, which represent songwriters and composers.
More fees, less money, less jobs, less songs.


Defining the Enemy

Mr. Muhammad gunned down one Army/Navy recruiter and injured another.
Formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe, the Arkansas man is a Muslim convert under FBI investigation since his trip to Yemen and planned to kill as many Army personnel as possible.1

General David Petraeus has said “Yemen has become a refuge for jihadists.” 2 The Yemenis are the largest group still in Guantanamo (one committed suicide this week) but negotiations have failed to relocate prisoners to Saudi detention centers.

Our FBI has failed us again, allowing a homegrown terrorist to disappear off of the radar screen and murder a US citizen, a soldier. We let Gitmo detainee, Said Ali al-Shihri, out and he’s the proclaimed al-Quaeda deputy leader in Yemen.

So while we’re taking off our shoes in line at the airport, terrorists get off a place from Yemen.

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/us/03recruit.html?hp

2. http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/06/02/74649.html

Quote of the Week
Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

"State of the Nation" is ©2009 by Brandon Jones.   All graphics this page, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.