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Archive for December, 2008

Blagojevich’s Unhappy Birthday…

I didn’t know much about Illinois Governor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, but I’m getting a crash course.

Suddenly, today, (December 09/2008) the Illinois lawmaker, whose second four-year term ends in January 2011, was arrested – on corruption charges.

And he’s splashed all over the news!

There is the governor, at a press event just yesterday. Reporters asked Blagojevich if he thought it was possible he was being wiretapped. He replies that he has nothing to hide…and anybody who wants to can go ahead and tape his conversations!

Apparently unknown to Blagojevich, (but maybe not so unknown to that reporter) the FBI had been taping his conversations for three years!

According to news reports, the FBI is accusing Blagojevich and his chief of staff, (others are involved)…of two counts each of conspiring to gain financial benefits in appointing President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate replacement.

Officials allege “Blagojevich put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”

A reference to The Tribune Company, which publishes the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Tribune filed for bankruptcy on Monday. Officials say Blagojevich threatened to withhold state assistance from the company…unless Tribune fired members of its editorial board, who had criticized the Illinois governor.

Blagojevich is allegedly on tape discussing:

GETTING a big salary for himself at either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions; SECURING a spot for his wife on paid corporate boards, with compensation of 150-thousand-DOLLARS a year; ELICITING promises of campaign funds, including cash up front and possibly WRANGLING a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

In ordinary speak, they’re claiming that Blagojevich, who turns 52 on Wednesday, tried to sell or trade Obama’s old Senate seat to the highest bidder…who would give him personal benefits for himself and his wife.

No comment, so far, from the Obama transition team. Blagojevich is quoted saying Mr. Obama can F-off because “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation“.

Investigators say Blagojevich also talked about feeling frustrated that he was “stuck as governor.” He even referred to a possible run for the White House in 20-16.

This underscores how some of us never seem to see the blessings or good things in our lives. Here is a governor, earning a decent salary, with perks, power, influence – a position that many would die for.

On top of this, he is the governor of Illinois, the next president’s home state, which already gives him entry to the White House. Yet instead of calling in groups, agencies and lawmakers to start brainstorming on how best to squeeze every ounce of influence out of Washington, he’s looking around, making comparisons and feeling he’s coming up short.

He sees Obama, his fellow colleague, now suddenly catapulted into the nation’s highest office. Blagojevich is serving his second four-year term. Obama made president during his first term!

The Illinois governor sees others like Jesse Jackson Jr. who could become the state’s next senator…

Yet there he is, feeling trapped in that local office.

He does not see the millions who have been laid off and the millions more poised to be laid off. All he sees is his lot…his misery, his disappointments, his financial strain, his career going nowhere. So he gets antsy, and shoots himself in the foot. Now where does he go from here?

It doesn’t look like Blagojevich will be heading to the White House in 20-16.

According to one news report, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Solicitation of bribery carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. Both carry a maximum quarter-million-dollar fine.

It’s hard to feel sorry for governor Blagojevich, when, according to officials, he allegedly wanted to pull back eight million dollars in funding from the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. He allegedly was pissed because the hospital didn’t give him the 50-thousand-dollar personal contribution he wanted.

Children…? Come on, Mr. Blagojevich. Let’s leave sick kids out of it.

Still until Blagojevich is proven guilty, we will give him the benefit of that doubt. Same as we did for O.J. Simpson.

Blagojevich’s Unhappy Birthday…

I didn’t know much about Illinois Governor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, but I’m getting a crash course.

Suddenly, today, (December 09/2008) the Illinois lawmaker, whose second four-year term ends in January 2011, was arrested – on corruption charges.

And he’s splashed all over the news!

There is the governor, at a press event just yesterday. Reporters asked Blagojevich if he thought it was possible he was being wiretapped. He replies that he has nothing to hide…and anybody who wants to can go ahead and tape his conversations!

Apparently unknown to Blagojevich, (but maybe not so unknown to that reporter) the FBI had been taping his conversations for three years!

According to news reports, the FBI is accusing Blagojevich and his chief of staff, (others are involved)…of two counts each of conspiring to gain financial benefits in appointing President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate replacement.

Officials allege “Blagojevich put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”

A reference to The Tribune Company, which publishes the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Tribune filed for bankruptcy on Monday. Officials say Blagojevich threatened to withhold state assistance from the company…unless Tribune fired members of its editorial board, who had criticized the Illinois governor.

Blagojevich is allegedly on tape discussing:

GETTING a big salary for himself at either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions; SECURING a spot for his wife on paid corporate boards, with compensation of 150-thousand-DOLLARS a year; ELICITING promises of campaign funds, including cash up front and possibly WRANGLING a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

In ordinary speak, they’re claiming that Blagojevich, who turns 52 on Wednesday, tried to sell or trade Obama’s old Senate seat to the highest bidder…who would give him personal benefits for himself and his wife.

No comment, so far, from the Obama transition team. Blagojevich is quoted saying Mr. Obama can F-off because “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation“.

Investigators say Blagojevich also talked about feeling frustrated that he was “stuck as governor.” He even referred to a possible run for the White House in 20-16.

This underscores how some of us never seem to see the blessings or good things in our lives. Here is a governor, earning a decent salary, with perks, power, influence – a position that many would die for.

On top of this, he is the governor of Illinois, the next president’s home state, which already gives him entry to the White House. Yet instead of calling in groups, agencies and lawmakers to start brainstorming on how best to squeeze every ounce of influence out of Washington, he’s looking around, making comparisons and feeling he’s coming up short.

He sees Obama, his fellow colleague, now suddenly catapulted into the nation’s highest office. Blagojevich is serving his second four-year term. Obama made president during his first term!

The Illinois governor sees others like Jesse Jackson Jr. who could become the state’s next senator…

Yet there he is, feeling trapped in that local office.

He does not see the millions who have been laid off and the millions more poised to be laid off. All he sees is his lot…his misery, his disappointments, his financial strain, his career going nowhere. So he gets antsy, and shoots himself in the foot. Now where does he go from here?

It doesn’t look like Blagojevich will be heading to the White House in 20-16.

According to one news report, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Solicitation of bribery carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. Both carry a maximum quarter-million-dollar fine.

It’s hard to feel sorry for governor Blagojevich, when, according to officials, he allegedly wanted to pull back eight million dollars in funding from the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. He allegedly was pissed because the hospital didn’t give him the 50-thousand-dollar personal contribution he wanted.

Children…? Come on, Mr. Blagojevich. Let’s leave sick kids out of it.

Still until Blagojevich is proven guilty, we will give him the benefit of that doubt. Same as we did for O.J. Simpson.

Bailouts and Inevitability

We’re now being told to invest in construction and telecom stocks…

Because the president elect has outlined a plan to pour billions into infrastructure to jumpstart the economy. And some of that will include broadband.

Mr. Obama was the guest on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sunday (December 07). He outlined his plans for a path for long-term, sustainable economic growth.

OBAMA: …and that’s why I spoke in my radio address on Saturday about the importance of investing in the largest infrastructure program–in roads and bridges and, and other traditional infrastructure–since the building of the federal highway system in the 1950s; rebuilding our schools and making sure that they’re energy efficient; making sure that we’re investing in electronic medical records and other technologies that can drive down health care costs. All those things are not only immediate–part of an immediate stimulus package to the economy, but they’re also down payments on the kind of long-term, sustainable growth that we need…

BROKAW: …the real question in the stimulus program that you have just described and as you shared with, with the American audience in your radio address is how quickly will it mean jobs out there across America and how much is it going to cost and who’s going to pay for it?

OBAMA: Well, I think we can get a lot of work done fast. When I met with the governors, all of them have projects that are shovel ready, that are going to require us to get the money out the door, but they’ve already lined up the projects and they can make them work.

So there we have it, from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

• On another talking point…the auto industry, I’m picking up hints that the auto bailout is just a stop-gap measure to keep the economy from sliding deeper into recession. Seems to me the U.S. auto industry, especially GM and Chrysler, are on their deathbed and will eventually go bankrupt. Giving them a loan will only keep factories and jobs from disappearing now, and NOW (in an already weakened economy) is NOT the best time for this to happen. Technically, they’re going on life support…but there won’t be any donors.

So, does the president elect think the Big Three deserve to survive? Brokaw asked:

OBAMA: Well, I think that the Big Three U.S. automakers have made repeated strategic mistakes. They have not managed that industry the way they should have, and I’ve been a strong critic of the auto industry’s failure to adapt to changing times–building small cars and energy efficient cars that are going to adapt to a new market. But what I’ve also said is, is that the auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing. It is a huge employer across many states. Millions of people, directly or indirectly, are reliant on that industry, and so I don’t think it’s an option to simply allow it to collapse…

(Mr. Obama believes any government assistance should come with conditions. He also thinks it’s NOT a good time for such a large industry to go belly-up.)

…some people have said let’s just send them through a bankruptcy process. Well, even as large a company as GM, in ordinary times, might be able to go through a Chapter Eleven bankruptcy, restructure, and still keep their business operations going. When you are seeing this kind of collapse at the same time as you’ve got the financial system as shaky as, as it is, that means that we’re going to have to figure out ways to put the pressure on the way a bankruptcy court would, demand accountability, demand serious changes. But do so in a way that it allows them to keep the factory doors open.

• Like agent Smith told Neo in the movie: The Matrix: (Pretend Neo/Mr. Anderson is the auto industry.)

“You hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your death… Goodbye, Mr. Anderson”.

Some would argue that Neo survived. Remains to be seen how much life imitates the movies!

Bailouts and Inevitability

We’re now being told to invest in construction and telecom stocks…

Because the president elect has outlined a plan to pour billions into infrastructure to jumpstart the economy. And some of that will include broadband.

Mr. Obama was the guest on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sunday (December 07). He outlined his plans for a path for long-term, sustainable economic growth.

OBAMA: …and that’s why I spoke in my radio address on Saturday about the importance of investing in the largest infrastructure program–in roads and bridges and, and other traditional infrastructure–since the building of the federal highway system in the 1950s; rebuilding our schools and making sure that they’re energy efficient; making sure that we’re investing in electronic medical records and other technologies that can drive down health care costs. All those things are not only immediate–part of an immediate stimulus package to the economy, but they’re also down payments on the kind of long-term, sustainable growth that we need…

BROKAW: …the real question in the stimulus program that you have just described and as you shared with, with the American audience in your radio address is how quickly will it mean jobs out there across America and how much is it going to cost and who’s going to pay for it?

OBAMA: Well, I think we can get a lot of work done fast. When I met with the governors, all of them have projects that are shovel ready, that are going to require us to get the money out the door, but they’ve already lined up the projects and they can make them work.

So there we have it, from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

• On another talking point…the auto industry, I’m picking up hints that the auto bailout is just a stop-gap measure to keep the economy from sliding deeper into recession. Seems to me the U.S. auto industry, especially GM and Chrysler, are on their deathbed and will eventually go bankrupt. Giving them a loan will only keep factories and jobs from disappearing now, and NOW (in an already weakened economy) is NOT the best time for this to happen. Technically, they’re going on life support…but there won’t be any donors.

So, does the president elect think the Big Three deserve to survive? Brokaw asked:

OBAMA: Well, I think that the Big Three U.S. automakers have made repeated strategic mistakes. They have not managed that industry the way they should have, and I’ve been a strong critic of the auto industry’s failure to adapt to changing times–building small cars and energy efficient cars that are going to adapt to a new market. But what I’ve also said is, is that the auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing. It is a huge employer across many states. Millions of people, directly or indirectly, are reliant on that industry, and so I don’t think it’s an option to simply allow it to collapse…

(Mr. Obama believes any government assistance should come with conditions. He also thinks it’s NOT a good time for such a large industry to go belly-up.)

…some people have said let’s just send them through a bankruptcy process. Well, even as large a company as GM, in ordinary times, might be able to go through a Chapter Eleven bankruptcy, restructure, and still keep their business operations going. When you are seeing this kind of collapse at the same time as you’ve got the financial system as shaky as, as it is, that means that we’re going to have to figure out ways to put the pressure on the way a bankruptcy court would, demand accountability, demand serious changes. But do so in a way that it allows them to keep the factory doors open.

• Like agent Smith told Neo in the movie: The Matrix: (Pretend Neo/Mr. Anderson is the auto industry.)

“You hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your death… Goodbye, Mr. Anderson”.

Some would argue that Neo survived. Remains to be seen how much life imitates the movies!

Auto Bailouts and Ted Turner


2010…

U.S automakers Ford, Chrysler and GM would have us believe 2010 is their “Year of Magical Turnaround”.

But for NOW, the CEO’s from the big three U.S automakers are either at the mercy of Congress…or their own folly!

Today, (December 04/2008) they returned to Capitol Hill looking for a “rescue package/bailout/bridge loan”. And to underscore their good faith and show that they too can turnaround, the auto execs left the corporate jets at home. All three arrived in Washington in fancy, futuristic, green models.

But they still need to sell congress and the American people on their long-term viability. And so far, they don’t seem to be doing too well.

A majority of Americans (61-percent) do not support giving government/tax dollars to U.S auto companies.

That’s according to a new poll (CNN/Opinion Research Corporation) released Wednesday. (December 03/2008). About 11-hundred people were surveyed by phone December 1-2. The margin of error is plus or minus 3-percent.

Just before Thanksgiving, the Big Three was asking for 25-billion-dollars. Two weeks later, 25-billion is no longer enough. Ford, GM and Chrysler have added another 9-billion. They say they now need 34-billion in emergency loans from the government.

General Motors and Chrysler are much worse off than Ford. Both are burning through billions of dollars in cash. At privately held Chrysler (owned by New York based Cerberus Capital Management and Germany’s Daimler AG), the company won’t even disclose CEO Robert Nardelli’s compensation package!

Here’s what the automakers are asking for:

• GM says it needs 4 billion immediately to avoid complete collapse before year’s end. It also wants 8-billion early next year and access to a 6-billion-dollar line of credit.

• CHRYSLER is asking for a 7-billion-dollar bridge loan to help it operate through 2009.

• FORD wants a 9-billion-dollar line of credit, but might not really need the money.

While lawmakers debate if they should use tax dollars to help “save” the automakers, Americans have apparently decided already. According to the CNN/Opinion Research poll:

• 70% of respondents think any auto bailout is unfair to taxpayers.

• Most also think a bailout would not help the economy.

• Only 15% of those polled think a bankruptcy in the auto industry would have an immediate impact on their families.

• 43% think a bankruptcy would eventually have an effect on them.

Among those who would rather NOT help the automakers, is media mogul, Ted Turner. The Cable News Network (CNN) founder appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sunday, with host Tom Brokaw. Here is an excerpt:

BROKAW: You’re not very sympathetic to what’s going on in Detroit.

TURNER
: Well, I am. Really, I don’t like to see anybody do–not doing well, but I’m afraid–I saw it coming years ago, Detroit was going–headed for a crash, and it’s amazing to me that they didn’t see it, either, you know, and start building smaller cars, more fuel efficient cars a long time ago. Because anybody, anybody with half a brain could see we’re going to have, you know, big disruptions in the fossil fuel business.

BROKAW: Let me read you what you had to say about it recently. “If we give the Big Three automakers a $25 billion bailout, they’re going to blow through it by the first of March. They won’t know what to do with it. Let them go bankrupt and get Toyota to buy them out.” A lot of jobs are connected to the American automobile industry. Do you think that the government ought not to have any role in trying to put them back together?

TURNER
: I don’t, I really don’t know, but I feel like that it would be a lot better if we’re going to put–if the United States government’s going to put money in anything, why not put it into clean, renewable energy and create jobs for the future instead of trying to keep alive a smoke stack industry of the past whose days–the days of big automobiles are over. The days of fossil fuel are over”.

I see it this way. This may be the dawning of yet another age in the energy revolution.

In the 1800’s, whaling was very big business. And New England, NOT the Gulf Coast, was America’s energy hub.

Here in Massachusetts, New Bedford was the world’s whaling center. I read online that back in the 1840’s, the now depressed city was home port for about 400 of the world’s 700 whaling ships.

When oil arrived, and lamps started using kerosene instead of whale oil, New Bedford, “The City that Lit the World,” was out. Texas was in!

But New England survived…and so did America. The power was not lost. It just shifted to another region.

There’s a lesson there somewhere…!

Auto Bailouts and Ted Turner


2010…

U.S automakers Ford, Chrysler and GM would have us believe 2010 is their “Year of Magical Turnaround”.

But for NOW, the CEO’s from the big three U.S automakers are either at the mercy of Congress…or their own folly!

Today, (December 04/2008) they returned to Capitol Hill looking for a “rescue package/bailout/bridge loan”. And to underscore their good faith and show that they too can turnaround, the auto execs left the corporate jets at home. All three arrived in Washington in fancy, futuristic, green models.

But they still need to sell congress and the American people on their long-term viability. And so far, they don’t seem to be doing too well.

A majority of Americans (61-percent) do not support giving government/tax dollars to U.S auto companies.

That’s according to a new poll (CNN/Opinion Research Corporation) released Wednesday. (December 03/2008). About 11-hundred people were surveyed by phone December 1-2. The margin of error is plus or minus 3-percent.

Just before Thanksgiving, the Big Three was asking for 25-billion-dollars. Two weeks later, 25-billion is no longer enough. Ford, GM and Chrysler have added another 9-billion. They say they now need 34-billion in emergency loans from the government.

General Motors and Chrysler are much worse off than Ford. Both are burning through billions of dollars in cash. At privately held Chrysler (owned by New York based Cerberus Capital Management and Germany’s Daimler AG), the company won’t even disclose CEO Robert Nardelli’s compensation package!

Here’s what the automakers are asking for:

• GM says it needs 4 billion immediately to avoid complete collapse before year’s end. It also wants 8-billion early next year and access to a 6-billion-dollar line of credit.

• CHRYSLER is asking for a 7-billion-dollar bridge loan to help it operate through 2009.

• FORD wants a 9-billion-dollar line of credit, but might not really need the money.

While lawmakers debate if they should use tax dollars to help “save” the automakers, Americans have apparently decided already. According to the CNN/Opinion Research poll:

• 70% of respondents think any auto bailout is unfair to taxpayers.

• Most also think a bailout would not help the economy.

• Only 15% of those polled think a bankruptcy in the auto industry would have an immediate impact on their families.

• 43% think a bankruptcy would eventually have an effect on them.

Among those who would rather NOT help the automakers, is media mogul, Ted Turner. The Cable News Network (CNN) founder appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sunday, with host Tom Brokaw. Here is an excerpt:

BROKAW: You’re not very sympathetic to what’s going on in Detroit.

TURNER
: Well, I am. Really, I don’t like to see anybody do–not doing well, but I’m afraid–I saw it coming years ago, Detroit was going–headed for a crash, and it’s amazing to me that they didn’t see it, either, you know, and start building smaller cars, more fuel efficient cars a long time ago. Because anybody, anybody with half a brain could see we’re going to have, you know, big disruptions in the fossil fuel business.

BROKAW: Let me read you what you had to say about it recently. “If we give the Big Three automakers a $25 billion bailout, they’re going to blow through it by the first of March. They won’t know what to do with it. Let them go bankrupt and get Toyota to buy them out.” A lot of jobs are connected to the American automobile industry. Do you think that the government ought not to have any role in trying to put them back together?

TURNER
: I don’t, I really don’t know, but I feel like that it would be a lot better if we’re going to put–if the United States government’s going to put money in anything, why not put it into clean, renewable energy and create jobs for the future instead of trying to keep alive a smoke stack industry of the past whose days–the days of big automobiles are over. The days of fossil fuel are over”.

I see it this way. This may be the dawning of yet another age in the energy revolution.

In the 1800’s, whaling was very big business. And New England, NOT the Gulf Coast, was America’s energy hub.

Here in Massachusetts, New Bedford was the world’s whaling center. I read online that back in the 1840’s, the now depressed city was home port for about 400 of the world’s 700 whaling ships.

When oil arrived, and lamps started using kerosene instead of whale oil, New Bedford, “The City that Lit the World,” was out. Texas was in!

But New England survived…and so did America. The power was not lost. It just shifted to another region.

There’s a lesson there somewhere…!

Amid turmoil – Much to be Thankful:

Well hello…and how was your big weekend…?

I call Thanksgiving “Part One” of the holidays (Christmas is Part Two) and I’m rather glad that it’s over!

So what were you thankful for this year…?

It’s been a really tough year. More than a million jobs were lost in the first 10 months of this year: 82-thousand in May, 58-thousand in April. The Labor Department says the number of people who lost their jobs in October and did not expect to be recalled to work rose by 615-thousand, to just over 4 million people!

Millions of homes have been foreclosed; businesses are folding, wealth is evaporating and consumers are hurting. No mood to be thankful, you say. I’ve lost or may lose my job; I’ve lost or could lose my home…what’s there to be thankful for? It could be worse…and in many other countries – IT IS!

• Were you thankful that we had a peaceful election?

There are no republicans massacring democrats in contested states. Armed gangs of McCain supporters are not (I hope) roaming the back roads looking for unsuspecting Obama voters. Violence hasn’t broken out in Georgia, (our Georgia.) Government-backed bands of marauders won’t be driving rural farmers out of their homes in so-called red-states, when Obama takes over, either. Yes, we have much to be thankful for.

• Are we thankful that President Bush is actually looking forward to going back to Texas?

He’s not trying to find ways to hold on to power. He’s not plotting a coup or trying to arm-wrestle lawmakers into extending his term. Nope! Mr. Bush is quietly packing up and welcoming the new administration. That’s something to be thankful for.

• Are we thankful that we’ve not had, so far, another terrorist attack?

Looking at the news coming in from India, I am especially grateful that we’ve not had another terror attack since September Eleven. The graphic images from Mumbai brought it home. We should be very thankful that it hasn’t happened again…yet!

• Are we thankful that America is making progress along racial and gender lines?

Just two years ago, who would have believed that Americans would choose a black man as president? Note how close we came to voting for a woman? See how far we’ve come to ensuring that homosexuals get the full rights and protections enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, whether we believe/agree with their lifestyles/policies…or not? It’s progress to be thankful for.

• Are we thankful that although the economy has tanked, shelters and food pantries may be strained, but there are no soup/bread lines or refugee camps or uncontrollable outbreaks of disease?

• Are we thankful that nobody is throwing acid into the faces of young girls heading off to school here in America?

• Are we thankful that when we flip the light switch, the lights come on? When we turn on the tap, the water is there, clean and drinkable…at any time of the day or night? In some countries people walk miles to get water, and in many instances that water is dirty and unfit for human use.

• Are we thankful that even if health care is expensive, we at least have health care? How about Haiti, just next door, where people don’t see a doctor….unless a U.S team goes over there?

• Are we thankful that U.S kids can be kids…for the most part, instead of cracking open computer monitors with their bare hands? Our kids don’t have to handle dangerous chemicals so they can earn a few cents a day to support their families!

• Are we thankful that the Supreme Court ruled in June that detainees at The Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp have the right to seek release in civilian courts…and the President cannot fire the Justices? We are and should be thankful…that he can’t.

• Thankful that Palin is not the Vice President? Don’t know about you, but I am.

• Are we thankful that Ford, Chrysler and GM were sent packing and told to get their act together before they pass the hat up at the Capitol? Yes indeed!

• And finally, are we thankful that our government can print paper money with impunity? Yep! Indeed…

Especially now that “The Recession” is official — The National Bureau of Economic Research admits today (December 01/2008): The U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007.

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