Benazir Bhutto has been killed

This from The Canadian Press…

Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday by an attacker who shot her after a campaign rally and then blew himself up. Her death stoked new chaos across the nuclear-armed nation, an important ally for the West in the war on terrorism.

Al Qaeda has taken credit but some people speculate that they had help from the Army.

Here is a you tube clip…..

I don’t know that this will have much long term impact on Pakistan, but you never know. Some people have more effect on history with their death then with their life.

The Belmont Club has some thoughts.

Economic links to make you sick

From Naked Capitalism…

The latest policy is a regulatory change by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that says employers can reduce benefits when retirees reach age 65 and become eligible for Social Security and Medicare.

Another instance of the Bush Administration, while having come into office claiming to be a compassionate conservative and anti-large-scale government, being anything but that. This allows corporations to shift their obligations on to taxpayers, and will make it politically more difficult to implement changes in Medicare and Social Security.

From Calculated Risk….

According to the Fed, the discount rate spread is 145 bps. This graph was released this morning.

From The Age….

The depth of the housing crisis was underscored by the head of one of America’s largest banks, Bank of America, the straight-speaking Kenneth Lewis, who warned of a completely new attitude by Americans to their homes amid fears that as many as 20 million householders may “walk” from them, further deepening the crisis.

Lewis’ comments came as a new expression – “jingle mail” – referring to the growing trend where Americans mail the keys to their homes to the lenders before vacating, entered the US lexicon. Figures for November revealed more than 200,000 US homes were foreclosed, a 68% increase on November 2006.

A Coin, A Ring

How to make a ring from a quarter:
One can get very technical and make rings by smelting metal, pouring it into molds, and all sorts of other highly technical stuff. Which is all very neat, but requires a lot of effort, skill, and tools. The advantage, and coolness, of using a quarter is its simplicity.
I […]

Russia is in terminal decline.

Don’t be fooled by Russia apparent recent resurgence. In reality, the nation has no where to go but down. Consider how India and China are kicking Russia around. This from Strategy Page….

India and China are both playing rough with their largest arms supplier; Russia. China and India both have price disputes with Russia, and India is also upset that Russia is supplying China with RD93 jet engines for Chinese made fighters that are being sold to Pakistan. Both China and Russia are threatening to halt purchases if Russia does not back off on attempts to raise prices on contracts that have already been agreed to. China is playing a weak position here, because of a Western embargo on arms sales to China (because of China being a sometimes brutal police state and behaving badly by selling weapons to all manner of nasty people). India is in a stronger position, and is buying more and more weapons from Western suppliers. Currently, India is in the market for 126 top-line fighters. India has told Russia that if those RD93 equipped Chinese fighters keep going to Pakistan, Russia can forget about its chances of winning the competition (worth over $6 billion) for the 126 fighters.

How did it get to this?

Read the rest of the article.

There is no such thing as private property in America

This is insane….

Finally, on Oct. 1, a letter arrived. It was from Glendale’s Neighborhood Services administrator.

“Dear Owner,” it began. “The city of Glendale is committed to maintaining a community with quality streetscapes that include the care and well-being of protected indigenous trees.”

The letter informed them they had improperly pruned 13 trees, some of them on city property because they were near the street, and some on their own property. The fine was listed on Page 2, where the Collards were informed they would be charged “two times the value of the damaged tree(s).”

“Total: $347,600.”

“I about passed out,” says Ann.

She’d been worried they might get fined as much as, say, $3,000.

Read the whole story. Hat tip: On the level.

Why America is in Trouble

Robert Folsom via Financial Armageddon…..

At the end of 2006, the financial assets of financial institutions surpassed 20% of annual GDP (those assets had never even eclipsed 5% of GDP until the early 1990s).

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, follow the link and look at the graph. It will do a much better job of communicating the dramatic nature of the change then mere words will.

If I was good with graphs, I would take the graph that Robert Folsom made and I would slap a graph of the national savings rate over it. Unless my memory is playing tricks on me, the growth of the financial assets of financial institutions matches the dramatic fall of America’s saving rate over the same period.

Poem of the Week: 12/23/07-12/29/07

We were all sitting around discussing books the other day. One book that received a fair amount of discussion was the “The Runner” by Cynthia Voigt. Some individual who can never get his nouns straight said that book started off with a quote from a poem called “A Shropshire Lad” by A. E. Housman.

That is not accurate. “A Shropshire Lad” is the name of a collection of poems. The name of the actual poem that leads off and ends the book is To an Athlete Dying Young. That poem can be found in “A Shropshire Lad”. So can other poems that make an appearance in “The Runner”.

Anyway, in honor of our discussions the other day, we have made “To an Athlete Dying Young” poem of the week.