Sunday, November 30, 2008

Urban Wind Turbine

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lost in Space. One NASA Bag Want to find it?


More bag-viewing opportunities are expected.
The tool bag can be seen through binoculars, a few minutes ahead of the space station's orbit. The satellite tracker predicts that the bag will be visible through binoculars from Europe and western North America during a series of passes this week. By late next week, the tool bag should appear in the evening skies over most of North America.

Today showLike other space debris, the tool bag's show will have a fiery end. "We currently predict that the errant tool bag will fall back to Earth in June of next year," said Nicholas Johnson, chief scientist for orbital debris at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "The date is dependent upon solar activity, so an earlier or later date is possible. As the re-entry date draws nearer, a more accurate prediction can be made."
Using your zipcode, you can get a date for seeing the bag. It looks only 10 days ahead...

Simple Satelllite Tracking
There are hundreds of spacecraft in Earth orbit and most are visible from your back yard--if you know when to look. We cut through the confusion by narrowing the list to a handful of the brightest and most interesting. At the moment we're monitoring the Lacrosse 3 spy satellite, the International Space Station, the Early Ammonia Servicer and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Check your flyby times and enjoy the show! Feedback is welcomed.
--Signed, Dr. Tony Phillips

Pig Parts for Man... what if ... we modify pig genetics to permit organ or body part transplant to humans... bacon, ham, pork roast.. heart, liver ...

IN THE not too distant future, a person in need of a heart transplant could be offered a pig's organ. That's the hope of a group that met in China last week to agree global guidelines for the first clinical trials of "xenotransplants".
The meeting of clinicians, researchers and regulators in Changsha, Hunan province, which was organised by the World Health Organization, resulted in the so-called Changsha Communiqué - a document that should eventually guide global regulation of xenotransplants.
It sets out principles for research, recommends how the WHO and individual countries should monitor such research, and includes guidelines for trials (see "Trials and transplants"). Perhaps most importantly, with human organs in desperately short supply, it reflects how far research has come since a decade ago, when some of the problems associated with xenotransplants seemed insurmountable.
For example, one big concern related to porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs). These are dormant viral DNA present in the pig genome that researchers feared would reawaken in an organ transplanted into humans, who, unlike pigs, might not be able to keep the viruses dormant. Pigs have now been genetically engineered either to lack PERVs entirely or to carry RNA interference molecules primed to sabotage any that become active. "Most of us now agree the risk is quite manageable," says Megan Sykes of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who attended the meeting.
The first pig tissue to find its way into humans probably won't be an organ, but insulin-producing islet cells from the pancreas, to treat people with diabetes. Two years ago, Bernard Hering's team at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis reported injecting unaltered pig islet cells into the livers of diabetic monkeys, along with immunosuppressive drugs. The monkeys were able to go without insulin injections for the duration of the 100-day experiment (Nature Medicine, vol 12, p 301). Hering is now in discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about how to proceed with a human trial.
David White and his colleagues at the Robarts Institute in London, Ontario, Canada, are also talking to the FDA about a possible trial next year. To make islet cells less likely to be rejected, White mixes them with Sertoli cells from pig testes, which contain a molecule that seems to damp down attacks by human T-cells. White explains that Sertoli cells are equipped with the cellular machinery to protect sperm, which would otherwise be vulnerable to attack by the immune system because they have half the chromosomes of other cells.
Rafael Valdés-González of the Children's Hospital of Mexico in Mexico City, who first pioneered the Sertoli cell technique, has already tested it in a small number of people and claims that one patient is still insulin-independent as a result (Clinical Transplantation, DOI: 10.1111/j.1399-0012.2007.00648.x).
Also some grounds for optimism come from a handful of trials of pig islet cells in countries where regulation is less tight. In Russia, the New Zealand company LCT claims to have had some success treating five patients with pig islet cells, which they disguised from the immune system by encapsulating them in alginate, a substance from seaweed that allows nutrients and hormones to diffuse in and out but prevents contact with immune cells. Last month, LCT won authorisation to begin a trial in New Zealand.
Sykes hopes that success with initial islet trials will bring greater public acceptance of xenotransplantation, leading to the really exciting prospect of transplanting full organs. These naturally pose greater problems, though, mainly because they must be hooked up to a blood supply and so face the full force of the immune system.
In 2002, researchers at Revivicor, a company based in Blacksburg, Virginia, found a possible way around this. Their "knockout" pigs lacked the gene for the alpha-gal protein - the molecule that indicates the presence of foreign cells to the human immune system. Other Revivicor researchers have inserted "complement regulator" genes into pig organs, which prevented monkey antibodies from attacking them.
One problem that is proving more difficult to solve is clotting. "We think antibodies bind to blood vessels of the pig graft, and these activate coagulation factors," says David Cooper, a pioneer of xenotransplantation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania who collaborates with Revivicor.
To deal with this, two groups have produced pigs carrying human genes for anti-clotting substances. Revivicor has inserted a gene for a protein called tissue factor pathway inhibitor, which neutralises tissue factor, a key trigger of clot formation. And at the University of Melbourne in Australia, Anthony d'Apice and his colleagues have bred pigs that make human CD39, a protein that stops platelets from aggregating into clots. The hope is that these substances will only be produced locally, preventing clots in the transplanted organ but not disrupting vital clotting elsewhere (Transplant Immunology, DOI: 10.1016/j.trim.2008.10.003).
Even with these interventions, powerful immunosuppressant drugs would still be needed, weakening the body to other invaders, including cancer. To minimise this problem another idea is taking shape: engineer the organ to make its own immunosuppressant. CTLA-4 Ig, for example, prevents T-cells being switched on, and is already used as an immunosuppressant for transplant patients.
One company is engineering pigs to produce an immunosuppressant in specific organs
Revivicor is now combining all these ideas in one animal by engineering pigs that make CTLA-4 Ig and an anticoagulant in specific organs, have the alpha-gal knockout and make the complement regulator throughout their bodies. D'Apice also claims to have created a pig with four added genes.
Because of the potential success of such experiments, guidelines are essential now. Peter Doyle, a delegate at the meeting and former secretary of the now-defunct UK Xenotransplantion Interim Regulatory Authority says: "Xenotransplantation has the potential to treat millions of people, but the threatened dangers are worrying unless it's properly regulated globally."
Trials and transplants
Global regulation of trials needed to monitor for dangers such as viruses
Trials banned in all countries incapable of effective regulation
All trials and recipients must be registered
Trial regulation must include scientific and ethical assessment, and "involve the public"
First recipients of xeno-organs must be carefully selected to ensure they and their families accept lifelong vigilance for any signs of novel disease
All source animals should be kept in closed colonies free from pathogens
"Compelling justification" needed for trials, including adequate evidence of safety and efficacy from animal studies

From issue 2684 of New Scientist magazine, page 8-9. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
Browse past issues of New Scientist magazine

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What is worse than a space toilet that does not work... yep. A Urine recycler that does not recycle.

NASA appears to have resolved problems with a new urine recycling system on the International Space Station, bolstering hopes it will be able to expand the research outpost's crew next year, officials at the space agency said on Tuesday.
Reusing wastewater is essential for doubling the size of the crew living aboard the station from three members to six, especially since the space shuttles, which produce water as a by-product of their electrical systems, are to be retired in two years.
The device, part of a $250 million new life-support system aboard the station, shut down during three previous attempts to purify urine. NASA wants the visiting shuttle Endeavour crew to bring home processed samples for analysis before declaring the water purification system suitable for use.
Two rounds of modifications to stabilise the device's centrifuge appear to have worked, flight director Brian Smith said on Tuesday. It completed a full five-hour run on Monday and was nearing completion of a second full run early on Tuesday.
Engineers planned to keep the device operating all day in hopes of producing enough processed urine before Endeavour's departure on Friday. The device was ferried into orbit and installed in the station's Destiny laboratory after the shuttle arrived on 16 November.
Rotating joint
The shuttle's stay at the station was extended a day to wait for the samples.

"We're going to try to keep it going all day and have the crew just reload the (urine) tank as it gets low," Smith said.
FD:At this point, students, how do you guess that is done?

Also Tuesday, NASA tested the station's newly repaired solar wing rotary joint, which was cleaned and restored during four spacewalks by Endeavour astronauts.
The joint had been contaminated by metal filings, prompting NASA to lock it in place to prevent damage. Immobilising the wing, however, prevented panels from tracking the Sun for full power.
While the crews slept, engineers on the ground watched as the joint automatically pivoted to track the Sun for the first time in a year.
"There's months worth of testing left to go before we can really determine what impact all four (spacewalks) had on that joint," Smith said.
Endeavour is due back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday after 16 days in orbit.
NASA plans eight more flights to the station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, before the shuttles are retired in 2010.

Time to be Thankful.

Thanksgiving. A time to be Thankful.
What are you thankful for today?

Debt is great. Savings is less. Jobs are fewer. Death one year closer. My years are catching up with me this year. My mistakes and bad choices have resulted in more difficulties ... doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different out come is a definition of madness. However, at any hour of any day, like today, there is something to stop and express thanks for as this Thanksgiving arrives to USa.

I am very thankful for my wife of 11 years and friend for many more.
I am looking forward to the years ahead with her. They are more precious with each passing one. No one is more loving, more supportive, and more interesting.
I need to be more loving, more supportive and just as interesting for her this year.
But less difficult and less painful to live with Change in the air this year.

This year all of our sons are well: one is on a new path of marriage, one is on a new career path, and one is looking at his options hoping for new beginnings... 2009 will be a great year for change.

All of our grandchildren and their assorted parents seem well and joyous this year.
Old family members have past away. Many family traditions have died with them.

AS this year ends, it has brought with it new beginnings and transitions.
Go with the change!

If you have lost a loved one, a family member, a relationship, a friend... be thankful.
Someone else is waiting for you, who needs you, who will need your love and hopefullly will return it to you as your old one failed to do and could no longer do. Move on with your life.
Endings are just as natural as beginnings. Life is much briefer (sp), shorter than we might wish.
But it is not good for ALL to LIVE for EVERY.

Every life is owed a death.
Be thankful that it did not come today for you and me.
Blessed be this day for us and ours.
Let us live our thanks.

Freddallas aka fredddallas aka Quaker Friend

Candian Fireball

Explanation: What if you're driving down the street and an object from space shoots across the sky right in front of you? Such was the case last week for many people in south central Canada. Specifically, an extremely bright fireball, presumably a desk-sized meteor from deep space, flashed across the sky just after sunset on 2008 November 20. The bright fireball was recorded on many images and movies, including the spectacular video shown above that was captured by a dashboard camera of a police cruiser in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Because at least two streaks appear to be visible, the falling object likely broke up into pieces as it fell deep into Earth's atmosphere. By triangulating fireball images from several simultaneously recorded sources, astronomers hope to find an approximate orbit from whence the object came, as well as the likely place(s) on Earth where large pieces would have impacted, were they to have survived reentry. In the best case scenario, pieces would be recovered from a known deep space comet or asteroid, giving humanity an unprecedented look at an ancient object that likely holds clues to the early years of our Earth and the Solar System.

East Texas Mammoth Cloning Project Profile ...

You don’t know this, but your life is empty and missing something important. You need a woolly mammoth in the living room, and on a leash to take shopping. There will be a range of sizes to choose from, mammoths to order from miniatures for condos to 17 ft tall behemoths that will live on your ranch. In November 2008, a team of scientists at the University of Pennsylvania reported they had sequenced a large fraction of the mammoth genome. The genome of any living species is the DNA genes which make up the chromosomes that reside in the nucleus of every cell and if we have that, then we might be able recreate the entire beast. We are on the road that leads to cloning a woolly mammoth.
Image: Rama
The closest living relative to the extinct woolly mammoth that died out in most localities at the end of the last ice age, is the African elephant. The DNA of these two species differ at approximately 400,000 sites in the genome. The University of Pennsylvania scientific team extracted DNA from the hair of a woolly mammoth mummy that had been found in Siberia. A new DNA decoding machine made this exciting success possible because it can work with genetic material from hair and DNA that is broken up and can only be isolated as fragments. Decoding the entire mammoth genome is only question of money, cost estimate is about $USD 2 million. At this early startup stage, your mammoth will be expensive, but where can you find anything like it?
Image: Tracy O
Creating mammoth eggs using the severely damaged DNA from female mammoth mummies has failed in several attempts. There have been discussions about modifying the genome of an African elephant, a project that would cost $USD10 million and require changing each of the 400,000 genetic sites that differ between it and the woolly mammoth. A cell containing such a modified genome could be converted into an embryo by a process recently developed by a Japanese researcher, and then brought to term in the womb of a female African elephant. Outrageous as this may sound, there are new laboratory procedures that can modify 50,000 genes at a time. The result, if it works, will stretch the boundaries of possibility forever.
Sources 1, 2, 3, 4
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Hillary was right: it takes a village to raise a child. WE need to take care of each other. NO one really wants to die for the entertainment of others

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- With his webcam trained on him, a Florida teenager died in his bed of a drug overdose while others watched over the Internet, officials said Friday.
Some of those watching urged him to take more drugs while others debated whether he had taken enough to kill himself. Hours passed before someone finally notified authorities that he appeared lifeless, officials said.
The teenager was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon in Pembroke Pines, Florida, said Wendy Crane, investigator for the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office.
The cause of death was found to be an overdose of benzodiazepine, an antidepressant, as well as other opiate drugs used to treat depression, Crane said. CNN is not reporting the teenager's name.

Watch CNN's John Zarrella detail the webcam suicide »

The youth's body was found in his apartment behind a locked door, which police broke down. Police turned off the webcam and computer, Crane said.
She said he did not take anything on camera, according to footage she reviewed, but he blogged between 3 and 4 a.m. Wednesday that he had taken an overdose of drugs. He also posted a suicide note.
He was seen lying on his bed on the streaming video, posted on the Web site On the site, a person can stream video from a Web camera while "viewers" chat with each other in a box next to the video, Crane said. The comments and video have since been removed from the Web site.
Crane read the comments posted during the 10 hours the youth could be seen lying on his bed.
As the teenager was lying on his bed, she said, people were typing things like, "Oh, that's not enough to kill you." Others, she said, were egging him on, saying things like "Go ahead and do it." Still others thought it wasn't real, Crane said.
About 11 a.m. Wednesday, Crane said, some viewers began to get concerned, writing things like, "He's not moving" and "He's not breathing."
One contacted the site's moderator to get the youth's contact information, she said, and the police were notified.
The teen "has made threats in the past regarding suicide and possibly had previous attempts," she said. CEO Michael Seibel said in a statement, "we regret that this has occurred and want to respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time."
Pembroke Pines police Sgt. John Gazzano said the case is under investigation.
Broward County Chief Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said the teen may have stood a chance of surviving had someone notified authorities right away.
"If somebody had come immediately after he took tablets, then probably not all the tablets would have been absorbed. Then, therefore, they could wash his stomach and get rid of the additional tablets. Certainly, he would have had a much better chance."
The youth's father said he is "appalled" that people watched and did nothing.
"I wish they would have given him the assistance that he was crying out for," the father said. "They did not respond to him. They only did long after the fact."
He said his son, who attended Broward Community College and wanted to be a paramedic, he had bipolar disorder and was being treated for depression.
The father dismissed the suggestion that people thought the video was fake. "It was not fake, was it? You don't assume. You have to find out if it was true or false."
Perper said the existence of a note left no doubt that the young man committed suicide.
"He left a note, which is very clear. And our examination did not reveal any evidence of trauma or any evidence of natural disease on internal examination. And we did a screen of the urine, which revealed the presence of medication, mostly antidepressant drugs," Perper said.
The father said he had no reason to believe his son was having problems.
"He was a good son," he said. "I'm sorry that no one could help him when I was not around to help him myself."

Martian Lichen Fossils?

Martian Rotini anyone?

Is There Life on Mars? Looking for Rock Solid Evidence
By Leonard DavidSenior Space

With each passing day, those peppy robots on Mars - Spirit and Opportunity - churn out extraordinary new views of the red planet. Each robot is over a year in operation, relaying a steady stream of eye-catching photos.
And more than once, the Mars machinery has sent back an image that stirred up a promising eureka moment: Finding evidence for life on that remote world.
A case in point, during a recent run of Spirit in the Columbia Hills, the robot used its arm-mounted devices to poke and probe a select Mars rock. One piece of hardware -- the Rock Abrasion Tool, known better as the RAT -- is on hand to expose fresh martian rock.
The RAT utilizes a single diamond matrix wheel to scrape the rock surface. It does this ever so slightly and progressively to achieve a wanted depth. The abraded surface is actively swept clean by a brush to prepare it for scientific examinations.
Once the rock was worked over, Spirit's Microscopic Imager went in for close-up looks at the results.
And within the images, an odd feature could be seen, seemingly a pattern of something more biological than just rock.
First impression
"The first impression I got -- based on the morphology alone -- was how similar it looked to a common terrestrial foliose lichen," said Barry DiGregorio, a research associate for the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology in the United Kingdom. "On Mars, however, as we all have learned from past experience, looks can be deceiving," he told
DiGregorio said he was struck by the fact that the entire rock outcrop on which this feature is found looks in places like it has a moss-like texture to it. "In the absence of any spectroscopic data, it's difficult to say for certain what it is. The radial pattern may turn out to be similar to spherical dendritic iron oxides," he added.
Indeed, looks can be deceiving, concurs Stephen Gorevan, payload lead for the RAT on the Mars Exploration Rover project. He's also chairman of Honeybee Robotics in New York, the cutting-edge group that designed, developed, and operates the RAT.
Honeybee Robotics creates robots, flight subsystems, automated drills and other machines destined for work on Earth, Mars, and beyond.
Bet the farm
Gorevan told that the Spirit snapshots in question show a portion of a RAT brush mosaic, along with the actions of the rover's Mössbauer Spectrometer. That device carries out a detailed analysis of a rock once put flush into position on the object of interest.
"While I have not traced the precise path and geometry, it is suspected that the central 'fuzzy' patch is due to the Mössbauer placement onto a portion of the mosaic where brush bits had accumulated," Gorevan noted.
The Mössbauer contact plate picked up the brushed bits by a sticking action that Gorevan and others on the rover team have seen before. A related event happened earlier in the robot's mission, he explained.
"The Mössbauer left a screw mark in some dust and it was assumed that there was a ratting and some very weird structure had been uncovered. Like I said, I can't prove my hypothesis yet, but I would bet the farm that it was something close to what I am indicating," Gorevan said.
Instrument contact
Also asked about the curious feature, Mars Exploration Rover science leader, Steve Squyres from Cornell University reported: "Nothing very exciting...RAT brush mark."
Gorevan said he would be thrilled to come across a juicy mystery that might have been encountered or uncovered by the RAT. "And I understand the chatter about this because I had to respond to a number of inquiries early on in the mission that saw something like this that we were able to clearly trace to the RAT and the Mössbauer."
"While I can't offer a precise and definitive reconstruction yet as to exactly how it happened, I just can't get excited about this one. I am confident it had something to do with instrument contact with the surface," Gorevan concluded.
But while this "Spirited" case of an odd imprint may be closed, another rover find remains puzzling.
Rotini revisited
Early in its mission at Meridiani Planum, the Opportunity Mars rover shot back a Microscopic Imager photo that included a feature shaped like a Rotini pasta. At the time, its profile sparked discussion both inside and outside of the NASA Mars Rover Exploration team.
"I am surprised I do not hear any more commotion about the good old 'rotini' shape from Meridiani in the early part of the mission," Gorevan said. "We have not yet been able to duplicate that shape with the RAT or any Mössbauer Spectrometer or Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer contact mechanisms."
But Gorevan hastened to add: "That's infinitely far from saying it is of biologic origin, but it is proving resistant to duplication."
Looking out for features
Gorevan and his team have performed no direct tests attempting to duplicate the "rotini" feature.
"Frankly I do not know how to construct such a test," Gorevan explained.
"What we are doing is looking out for features that might be embryonic or very old forms of the rotini feature that might have been made with the RAT. More attention will be paid on this effort toward examination of terrestrial specimens," Gorevan noted.
No one on the Mars science team has made a request for Gorevan and his associates to try to devise some way to duplicate a rotini feature with their hardware. "And right now we have our hands full in keeping up with this lovely mission that never ends," he said.

Local 7-11 has gas for $1.73 ... what decade was that price?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Retail Closings After Christmas... might affect your exchanges the day after Christmas.


By the end of Dec. 2008 as announced Circuit City Filed Bankruptcy, they promised to keep all stores open for the holiday season, but afterwards, they plan on closing 155 stores nationwide. Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide.A company spokeswoman said the company hasn't revealed which stores will be shuttered. It will let the stores that will close this fiscal year know over the next monthEddie Bauer to close more stores. Eddie Bauer has already closed 27 shops in the first quarter and plans to close up to two more outlet stores by the end of the year.Cache closing stores. Women's retailer Cache announced that it is closing 20 to 23 stores this year. Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, and Catherines closing 150 stores nationwide. The owner of retailers Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes will close about 150 underperforming stores this year. The company hasn't provided a list of specific store closures and can't say when it will offer that info, spokeswoman Brooke Perry said today.Talbots, J. Jill closing stores.About a month ago, Talbots announced that it will be shuttering all 78 of its kids and men 's stores. Now t he company says it will close another 22 underperforming stores. The 22 stores will be a mix of Talbots women's and J Jill, another chain it owns. The closures will occur this fiscal year, according to a company press release.Gap Inc. closing 85 storesIn addition to its namesake chain, Gap also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic . The company said the closures - all planned for fiscal 2008 - will be weighted toward the Gap brand.Foot Locker to close 140 stores In the company press release and during its conference call with analyststoday, it did not specify where the future store closures - all planned in fiscal 2008 - will be. The company could not be immediately reached for commentWickes is going out of business and closing all of its stores. Wickes, a 37-year-old retailer that targets middle-income customers, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.Goodbye Levitz / BOMBAY - closed already The furniture retailer, which is going out of business. Levitz first announced it was going out of business and closing all 76 of its stores in December. The retailer dates back to 1910 when Richard Levitz opened his first furniture store in Lebanon , PA. In the 1960s, the warehouse/showroom concept brought Levitz to the forefront ofthe furniture industry. The local Levitz closures will follow the shutdown of Bombay .Zales, Piercing Pagoda closing stores. It plans to close 82 stores by Jul y 31. Today, it announced that it is closing another 23underperforming stores. The company said it's not providing a list of specific store closures. Of the 105 locations planned for closure, 50 are kiosks and 55 are stores.Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores The Walt Disney Company announced it acquired about 220 Disney Stores from subsidiaries of The Children's Place Retail Stores. The exact number of stores acquired will depend on negotiations with landlords. Those subsidiaries of Children's Place filed for bankruptcy protection in late March. In the news release, Disney said it has also obtained the right to close about 98 Disney Stores in the U.S. The press release didn't list those stores.Home Depot store closings. Nearly 7+ months after its chief executive said there were no plans to cut the number of its core retail stores, The Home Depot Inc. announced Thursday that it is shuttering 15 of them amid a slumping US. economy and housing market. The move will affect 1,300 employees. It is the first time the world's largest home improvement store chain has ever closed a flagship store for performance reasons. Its shares rose almost 5 percent. The Atlanta-based company said the underperforming U.S. stores being closed represent less than 1 percent of its existing stores CompUSA (CLOSED) clarifies details on store closings Any extended warranties purchased for products through CompUSA will be honored by a third-party provider, Assurant Solutions. Gift cards, rain checks, and rebates purchased prior to December 12 can be redeemed at any time during the final sale. For those who have a gadget currently in for service with CompUSA, the repair will be completed and the gadget will be returned to owners.Macy's - 9 storesMovie Gallery - 160 stores will close as part of a reorganization plan to exit bankruptcy. The video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500 Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations the video rental chain closed last fall.Pep Boys - 33 storesSprint Nextel - 125 retail locations. New Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse appears to have inherited a company bleeding subscribers by the thousands, and will now officially be dropping the ax on 4,000 employees and 125 retail locations. Amid the loss of 639,000 postpaid customers in the fourth quarter, Sprint will be cutting a total of 6.7% of its work force (following the 5,000 layoffs last year)! and 8% of company-owned brick-and-mortar stores, while remaining mute on other rumors that it will consolidate its headquarters in Kansas . Sprint Nextel shares are down $2.89, or nearly 25%, at the time of this writing..J. C. Penney, Lowe's and Office Depot will be scaling back and cutting jobs.Ethan Allen Interiors - The company announced plans to close 12 of 300+ stores in an effort to cut costs.Wilsons the Leather Experts - all 260 mall stores.Pacific Sunwear will close its 154 Demo stores after a review of strategic alternatives for the urban-apparel brand Seventy-four underperforming Demo stores closed last May.Sharper Image: The company recently filed for bankruptcy protection and announced that 90 of its 184 stores are closing. The retailer will still operate 94 stores to pay off debts, but 90 of these stores have performed poorly and also may close.Bombay CompanyThe company plans to close all 384 U.S.-based Bombay Company stores. The company's online storefront has discontinued operations.KB Toys posted a list of 356 stores that it is closing around the United States as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. Dillard's to Close More Stores - Dillard's Inc. said it will continue to focus on closing underperforming stores, reducing expenses and improving its merchandise in 2008. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, CEO William Dillard II said the company will close another six underperforming stores this year. Starbucks: Starbucks will close approximately 600 company- operated stores in the U.S. Pier 1: Announced that they would be closing an undisclosed number of stores. Kirklands: A chain of home decor stores will be closing nearly 130 stores nationwide. Sprint: to cut 4500 jobs. and 125 stores. Linens 'n Things: Is closing 120 stores nationwide Dell Inc. closed its 140 kiosks in the United States Sigrid Olsen - Liz Claiborne Inc. said it's closing the entire 54-store Sigrid Olsen chain. Lone Star Steak House: 27 stores closing. 84 Lumber: 12 stores closing Rite Aid: 28 stores Big Dollar: dollar stores closing 10 stores

Wow! That is more tools than Sears sold yesterday!

ISS - "Umm, we have a lost tool," came the heralding cry of Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper who, while cleaning and lubing a joint on a wing of one of the station's solar panels, let a tool bag drift away just beyond her reach. The mission was able to be salvaged, however, as fellow spacewalk astronaut Stephen Bowen shared his tools with Stefanyshyn-Piper to complete their work in 7 hours.

Video interviewIn a video interview, Stefanyshyn-Piper said, "Well, it was definitely not the high point of the EVA. It was somewhat disheartening to open up the bag and to realize there was grease everywhere."Apparently the bag had suffered some kind of damage prior to use causing lubrication to spew out onto most of the tools. When Stefanyshyn-Piper reached in to clean off some of them, one of the bags drifted out and just beyond her grasp.
In the video below at about 35 seconds you can see it drifting slowly away as she reaches for it, missing it only by an inch or so outside of her grasp. The entire event lasted just a couple seconds.

She said, "There was a split second when I could see it floating away and I started to judge how far away it was thinking, 'well, can I reach and get it?' And then I thought, 'No, that would probably just make things worse,' and the best thing to do would just be to let it go."
Bowen said it was just as much his mistake for not triple-checking everything when the bags were closed up prior to EVA.

The tool bag contained approximately $100,000 worth of tools and was one of the largest items ever lost by an astronaut on a spacewalk. NASA is currently altering future spacewalk plans as a result of the mishap, according to AP interview which can be seen on YouTube.

Sears has sold its top-of-the-line hand tools under the "Craftsman" name since 1927. With their secondary line of hand tools being called simply "Sears", and according to many consumers they were of above average quality. The "Sears" tool line was discontinued around the late 1980s and replaced by the "Companion" tool line. In recent years, a subset of the Craftsman line, known as "Craftsman Professional" has been introduced as a highest quality line under the Craftsman logo, and they are billed as Only The Best as a part of the Sears/Craftsman advertising campaign. In 2007, the Craftsman Brand team introduced the new tagline "There's A Craftsman In All of Us" changing the previous marque of "Craftsman makes anything possible".[3]

All those US Dollars are burning a hole in their pocket... Buy American. Buy Walmart, too!

It appears that the Chinese car makers SAIC and Dongfeng have plans to acquire the Big 3:
A take-over of a large overseas auto maker would fit perfectly into China's plans. As reported before, China has realized that its export chances are slim without unfettered access to foreign technology. The brand cachet of Chinese cars abroad is, shall we say, challenged. The Chinese could easily export Made-in-China VWs, Toyotas, Buicks. If their joint venture partner would let them. The solution: Buy the joint venture partner. Especially, when he's in deep trouble.
At current market valuations (GM is worth less than Mattel) the Chinese government can afford to buy GM with petty cash. Even a hundred billion $ would barely dent China's more than $2t in currency reserves. For nobody in the world would buying GM and (while they are at it) Chrysler make more sense than for the Chinese. Overlap? What overlap? They would gain instant access to the world's markets with accepted brands, and proven technology.
All the Shock Doctrine fanatics cheering to drive the the Big 3 into bankruptcy "restructuring" (like Mitt Romney, who can kiss future hopes of electoral victory in Michigan goodbye) might want to think about the implications of this.
Of course the same legislators clamouring for bankruptcy could block the sale. (This assumes they have the fortitude to stare down the Chinese, who currently hold a whopping portion of US debt, and deny them something they really want). But in doing so, and at the same time refusing a bridge loan to the automakers, they are basically legislating the destruction of the Big 3. They will be forcing them to stiff all their creditors and stockholders and tear up their union contracts by refusing to let the "free market" they love to bang on about step in and assume the company's legitimate debts. Or were all those insufferable lectures about "personal responsibility" when the bankruptcy bill was going through just so much claptrap?
Because selling the company would be far preferable to the Big 3 and those who are dependent on them than Chapter 7. But long-term it would not be without peril for the US. As one FDL commener noted:
With no big three making cars what to stop Toyota and Honda from moving the plants to Mexico where costs are really low. Its only the threat of being shut out of the American market that keeps the Japanese building cars here. If we no longer have cars made in America by American companies we will have no choice but to buy their cars no matter where they are made.
I know long-term thinking isn't his forte. But as Richard Shelby is salivating at the prospect of yet another BMW SUV plant in his right-to-work state, it might be something for him to consider.
Jane Hamsher blogs at

Coming soon to a zoo near you....

Scientists map mammoth DNA

WASHINGTON - Scientists have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth, a feat they say could allow them to re-create the shaggy, prehistoric beast in as little as a decade or two.
The project marks the first time researchers have spelled out the DNA of an extinct species, and it raises the possibility of other ancient animals such as mastodons and saber-toothed cats again walking the Earth.
"Just because we might be able to do it one day, should we do it?" asked Stephan Schuster, a Penn State University biochemist and study co-author.

The million-dollar research resulted in a first draft of a mammoth's genome, detailing the ice-age creature's 3 billion DNA building blocks. The research published in today's issue of the journal Nature also gives scientists new clues about evolution and extinction.
"This is an amazing achievement," said Alex Greenwood, an Old Dominion University biology professor who studies ancient DNA.
Full-size mammoths, 8 to 14 feet tall like elephants, became extinct about 10,000 years ago.
To obtain the DNA, scientists relied on 20 balls of mammoth hair found frozen in the Siberian permafrost. That technique - along with major improvements in genome sequencing and the field of synthetic biology - is helping biologists envision a science-fiction future.
The new study, called 80 percent complete, provides a letter-by-letter genetic code mapping out most of the mammoth's DNA. Think of it as an instruction sheet about how to build a mammoth.
Schuster said researchers someday should be able to re-create any extinct creature that lived within the past 100,000 years as long as it got trapped in permafrost and it had hair.
Hendrik Poinar, anthropology professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said that he no longer considers such ideas impossible. Poinar, who consulted on the movie Jurassic Park, said that director Steven Spielberg may have had it right when he told skeptical scientists: "This is the science of eventuality."

Joe needs to Move to Texas....

Joe the Plumber Lands Book Deal

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the presidential campaign fixture and John McCain advocate better known as Joe the Plumber, won’t have to open his own plumbing business just yet: he has signed a deal to write “Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream.” PearlGate Publishing, a small publisher in Austin, Tex., announced the book on its Web site, The book, which will be written with Thomas N. Tabback (whose novel, “Things Forgotten,” was also published by PearlGate), will address Mr. Wurzelbacher’s ideas about American values, and is scheduled for release on Dec. 1. In an interview with Fox News Mr. Wurzelbacher said he could have signed a deal with a larger publisher. “But they don’t need the help,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “They are already rich. So that’s spreading the wealth to me.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

One thing about blogging, you find other better more interesting blogs to share....

Bail Out the Detroit Auto Manufacturers?
Posner's Comment follows Becker's on their blogg:

Becker has laid out the case for refusing to bail out GM, Ford, and Chrysler. It is a powerful case, and if the drop in auto sales that is driving these companies toward insolvency had occurred two years ago, there would be in my view no case, other than a political one, for a bailout. But in the current financial crisis, I believe a bailout is warranted, provided that the shareholders and managers of the companies are not allowed to profit from it.
There are two types of corporate bankruptcy: liquidation and reorganization (Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, respectively). In a liquidation the bankrupt company closes down, lays off all its workers, and sells all its assets. That probably would not be the efficient solution to the problems of the Detroit automakers. They are still producing millions of motor vehicles per year, and if they suddenly ceased production entirely there would be a big shortage even though demand is way down. To put this another way, although at present the companies are probably losing money on virtually every vehicle they sell, at a lower level of production the price at which they sold their vehicles would exceed marginal cost.
The alternative to liquidation--reorganization--can work well in normal times, as in the United Air Lines bankruptcy that Becker mentions. The reorganized business is able to borrow money because its post-bankruptcy borrowings ("debtor in possession" loans, as they are called) are given priority over its pre-bankruptcy debts, which are usually written down in bankruptcy, reducing the reorganized firm's debt costs and thereby enabling it to recover solvency. The debts that get written down can include health and pension benefits, which in the case of the auto companies continue to be a big drag on profitability.
The major problems with allowing the automakers to be forced into bankruptcy within the next few months are three, all arising from the depression that the nation appears to be rapidly sinking into. The first problem is that the companies might have to liquidate, because they might be unable to attract the substantial post-bankruptcy loans that they would need to enable them to remain in business. The credit crunch--less politely the near insolvency of much of the banking industry--has made that industry unable or unwilling to make risky loans, and loans to the auto companies after they declared bankruptcy would be risky.
Second, not only the size of the automakers, but peculiarities of the industry, would cause bankruptcy to greatly exacerbate the nation's already dire economic condition. In the very short term, the automakers would probably stop paying their suppliers, which would precipitate a number of the latter--already in perilous straits because of the plunge in the number of motor vehicles being produced--into bankruptcy. Many of the suppliers would probably liquidate, generating many layoffs. At the other end of the supply-distribution chain, consumers would be reluctant to buy cars or other motor vehicles manufactured by a bankrupt company because they would worry that the manufacturer's warranties would be unenforceable. So more dealerships would close, producing more bankruptcies, liquidations, and layoffs. With the demand for the vehicles made by the Detroit automakers further depressed and the supply-distribution chain in disarray, the liquidation of those companies would begin to loom as a real and imminent possibility. Liquidation of the automakers would produce an enormous number of layoffs up and down the chain of supply and distribution. Such prospects reinforce the unlikelihood that a reorganized industry could survive on debtor in possession loans.
The likely psychological impact of a bankruptcy of the U.S.-owned auto industry should not be underestimated. Already consumers, rendered fearful by repeated misinformation from government officials concerning the gravity of the economic situation (including their reluctance to acknowledge that the nation was even in a “recession,” long after it was obvious to the man in the street that we were in something worse), are reducing their buying, precipitating big layoffs in the retail industry, which in turn reduce buying power, which in turn spurs more layoffs. This vicious cycle would be accelerated by the laying off of hundreds of thousands of workers in the automobile industry, including employees of suppliers and dealers as well as of the manufacturers.
The U.S.-owned auto industry may be doomed; it may simply be unable to compete with foreign manufacturers (including foreign manufacturers that have factories in the U.S.); or a reorganization in bankruptcy may be the industry's eventual salvation. But the automakers should be kept out of the bankruptcy court until the depression bottoms out and the economy begins to grow again. (Recall that the government bailed out the airlines after 9/11, allowing United Air Lines to have an orderly bankruptcy reorganization beginning the following year and ending in 2006.) Any bailout, however, should come with strict conditions, to minimize the inevitable moral hazard effects of government bailouts of sick companies. The government should insist on being compensated by receipt of preferred stock in the companies, on the companies' ceasing to pay dividends, and on caps on executive compensation, including severance pay.
A possible alternative would be for the government to refuse to bail out the industry but agree to provide the necessary debtor in possession loans to keep the auto companies from liquidating after they declare bankruptcy. But this would be a kind of bailout, and probably would not be sufficient to avert the shock effects that I have described.

IF we had national healthcare, USa compaines would not be at a disadvantage with overseas manufacturers... small and big business here would benefit

What is True for GM is True for USa today?

FD: The airline industry has gone through bankruptcy for the same reasons that auto companies should go through bankruptcy, in fact home owners in ARMs that they can not afford should go through bankruptcy. When I got in trouble with the IRS over unpaid taxes from a divorce, the IRS put me through bankruptcy to get paid.

What is good enough for Delta, United Airlines, and ME is good enough for GM.

"What is good for GM is good for America." was said in 1955.
Maybe GM and USA have so much in common today that they both need to be rebuilt from the ground up for a changed world environment.

Bail Out the Big Three Auto Producers?
Not a Good Idea

The big three American auto producers General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, are in terrible financial shape. They have asked the government for a bailout, and the Democratic leadership in Congress is eager to give them one. The United Auto Workers union was a strong supporter of President-elect Obama and of Democratic candidates.

These companies have lost tens of billions of dollars during the past few years, and they will shortly run out of cash. GM's shares have lost almost all their value, and Ford has not done much better. Cerberus Capital, a private equity company, owns Chrysler, and it has lost most of what it invested in the company. For this reason Cerberus is trying get out of the automobile manufacturing business.

All three companies were heavily into producing trucks and SUV's when the sharp run up in gas prices induced consumers to shift away from these gas-guzzlers and toward smaller and more fuel-efficient cars. Moreover, what money GM had been making came mainly not from car production but from its automobile credit business, (GMAC). This company would borrow from banks to lend to consumers who needed help in financing their GM car purchases. The financial crisis has dried up the money available to auto financing companies, and hence eliminated the major source of their profits.

If GM is not bailed out, the company claims it will be forced into bankruptcy within a few months, and Ford's situation is only slightly better. GM is blitzing Congress, President Bush, and President -elect Obama with pleas for a bailout, followed by a warning that bankruptcy will also hurt auto suppliers throughout the nation that depend on GM's business. GM is also claiming that bankruptcy will put major financial pressure on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, the federal agency that insures benefits to retirees in the auto industry as well as to million of other workers.

Nevertheless, I believe bankruptcy is better than a bailout for American consumers and taxpayers.

The main problem with American auto companies is that during the good times of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, they made overly generous settlements with the United Auto workers (UAW) on wages, pensions, and health benefits. Only a couple of years ago, GM was paying $5 billion per year in health benefits to retirees and current employees because their plans had wide health coverage with minimal co-payments and deductibility on health claims by present and retired employees.

In those days, the UAW was one of the most powerful unions in the US, and it bargained aggressively with the auto manufacturers, carrying out strikes when its demands were not met. When the American auto industry began to face tough competition from Japanese and German carmakers, they were saddled with excessive pay to their workers, and vastly excessive pensions and health benefits to their current and retired workers.

It is not that cars cannot be produced profitably with American workers: the American plants of Toyota and other Japanese companies, and of German auto manufacturers, have been profitable for many years.

The foreign companies have achieved this mainly by setting up their factories in Southern and border states where they could avoid the UAW, and thereby introduce efficient methods of production. Their workers have been paid well but not excessively, and these companies have kept their pension and health obligations under control while still maintaining good morale among their employees.

In recent years GM and the other American manufacturers have chipped away at their generous fringe benefits, but their health and retirement benefits still considerably exceed those received by American auto workers employed by foreign companies. As a result of lower costs, better management, and less hindrance from work rules imposed by the UAW, about 1/3 of all cars produced in the US now come from foreign owned plants.

Bankruptcy would help GM and Ford become more competitive by abrogating significant parts of their labor contracts with the UAW. One of the greatest needs would be sizable reduction in their health costs through sharp increases in the deductibility and co-payments, and a reduced coverage of medical procedures.

Bankruptcy should also help bring the wage rates of GM and Ford in line with those of foreign producers in the US. Some of their pension liabilities may be shifted onto the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp, but even that would be preferable to an overall bailout.

A good analogy is what happened to United Airlines. By entering bankruptcy it was able to reduce its inflated cost structure by breaking contracts it had with the pilots union and other employee unions. It exited bankruptcy a slimmer and more efficient airline. Whether it is able to compete effectively in the long run is still not certain, but it is in much better shape to compete than before it entered bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy may also force out the current management of GM and Ford. I do not know for certain whether they have competent management- GM surely did not have top management for much of its recent history. I do believe, however, that when a coach of a team loses a few games, he might legitimately explain that by injuries, bad luck, or even bad officiating. These excuses become lame when he consistently loses many games, and the correct and common practice is then to fire the coach.

The same considerations apply to top management. When a company consistently does badly while some of its competitors (like Toyota) are doing well, its time to fire the management team, and see if another team can do better.

Is GM "too big" to fail? I do not believe the company is too big to go into a reorganization-which is what bankruptcy would involve. Such reorganization would abrogate its untenable labor contracts, and give it a chance to survive in long run. A bailout, by contrast, would simply postpone the needed reforms in these labor contracts, the business model of GM, and its management.


General Motors legacy costs
By Lou Ann Hammond

"What is good for General Motors is good for America - Chairman and CEO, Charlie Wilson, 1955.

Today this could be,What is true for General Motors is true for America.

Are companies obligated to take care of ex-employees till they die? If there is no job guarantee, why should your life be guaranteed? What does a company do when they have negotiated unsustainable obligations?

A couple of weeks ago Pulitzer prize automotive writer Dan Neil wrote a column blasting Bob Lutz and Rick Wagoner, saying, basically, that the Pontiac G6 was another reason General Motors was going to go to metal heaven and that the top guy should go with it. I will give Mr. Neil that General Motors isn’t hitting the mark on some of their cars, especially when they are compared by price in their competitive segment.
Every car company has product cycle problems and many have ridden them out. General Motors has a problem that eats away at their profit like no other company, it is their legacy costs. These problems have been gathering steam since 1950 when negotiations for pension and healthcare started, long before Bob Lutz or Rick Wagoner were in power.
General Motors marketshare is going down and has been for some time. Ford has the same problems. With every new car manufacturer coming into America, including China soon, their marketshare may continue to go down. According to Stefan Weinman spokesman for General Motors, General Motors spends $5.2 billion on health care for 1.1 million people, equaling $4,727 annually per person. People can buy cheaper cars and get the same value without the health care costs of $1,525 built into every vehicle made. Add another $675 per car for pension costs. Other car companies may have these problems, but not for some time.

BMW, Nissan, Toyota and Mercedes all build cars here in the United States with American employees, but those employees are new and very few have retired.

General Motors is the world’s largest automaker, selling nearly 9 million cars and trucks worldwide last year. It is the third-largest business in the United States, with revenue of $193 billion last year. Despite the incentives that kept sales high during America’s economic slowdown, General Motors is losing marketshare and people are saying it is because their cars are no good.

They are saying that the Big Three will have troubles because of the economic and production gaps between the non-union assembly lines set up South of the Mason Dixon line, save for a couple of plants, by Japanese and European competitors.

They are saying that General Motors is too concerned about their big cars and not as concerned about smaller more fuel efficient vehicles. They are saying that there are too many cars in general and that General Motors could get rid of a couple of lines.

General Motors oldest retiree will be 110 years old this year. The employee worked for GM for 32 years and has been collecting pension and health benefits for 47 years. If this employee dies and leaves behind a spouse, the spouse will get a partial part of his benefits.

General Motors reported its worst financial quarter in 13 years on Tuesday, posting a net loss of $1.10 billion, or $1.95 per share. In the first quarter of 2004, GM earned a profit of $1.2 billion, or $2.12 per share. According to General Motors it needs to be a 28-29 percent marketshare company to survive. They claim that 98 percent of their costs are fixed costs. The 1.2 billion profit was made from selling product helped along by incentives. If that 5.2 billion health care cost weren’t there General Motors would report a gain for the year.

Some of these problems are the same problems America itself is looking at when they look at Social Security and health care.

When Social Security was enacted the average life expectancy was below 70 years of age. Today, General Motors is paying pension to retired folks who are over 100 years old. Along with that they pay a part of their medical costs. When these contracts were negotiated there were no stop-gap measures put in force. Now, General Motors is paying the price. Because of the excellent health care they are able to receive, retired folks are living longer and collecting longer pensions.

For every worker working at General Motors they are footing the bill for 2.5 retired workers. The picture is not going to get any better as long as the UAW isn’t willing to make concessions. What concessions could the UAW make? How about going on par with what the blue-collared salaried workers make and then negotiate to the national averages.

The UAW pays 7 percent for their medical benefits while the salaried employees pay 27 percent for the same medical benefits. The national average paid for medical benefits is 32 percent. According to Jerry Dubrowski, another help would be if all employees purchased generic drugs. "Even if you pay a $5 co-pay, GM pays the rest of the amount for the brand name drug. Generic drugs are cheaper. If we could educate our workers and negotiate a different co-pay amount if a person bought generic vs. brand name the savings would be substantial."

The retirement program is just beginning. Nearly half of the 302,500 UAW members at the Big Three, Delphi and Visteon will have the necessary combination of age and years of service to retire within the next five years. 60 percent of those UAW members are GM/Delphi, 39 percent Ford/Visteon and 33 percent Daimler Chrysler. If General Motors 180,000 members retired before they were eligible for 80 percent of their Social Security GM would pay them $32,000 per year. After that GM would pay the retirees, or their spouse, an average of $16,900.

These problems won’t go away, but they can be lessened. According to Paul Taylor, chief economist, National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA), "GM still has plenty of time to turn in a decent sales year. With the economy continuing to show strength, automobile sales should hold up well, producing sales of 16.9 million units for the year says Paul Taylor, NADA’s chief economist. Two key issue should be understood. Big 3 North American manufacturers will continue to have difficulty maintaining market share unless they are willing to price effectively as consumers desire. And luxury vehicle sales will continue to be lackluster as long as the stock market underperforms expectations for it driven by expected stronger earnings."

The bigger more luxurious cars are the ones that carry more profit. As the dollar weakens it is more expensive for Europeans and Asians to bring their smaller cars to the United States. This could be the well needed shot in the arm that General Motors and Ford needs. Product will help both GM and Ford with their legacy costs. However, Toyota, Nissan and Honda are making forays into the pickup truck market that will weaken the grip GM and Ford have on that segment of the market.

This week the United Auto Workers (UAW) union held their regularly scheduled annual conference. UAW Vice President Dick Shoemaker, in charge of the GM relationship said "there is some flexibility within the agreement to do something" while UAW President Ron Gettelfinger stated that GM hasn’t asked the union to reopen the contract. According to Paul Krell, spokesman for the UAW, "The United States is the only advanced industrial nation that doesn’t have national health care. Our current President and Congress are not going to institute a single-payer insurance program."

Even though foreign governments cover most health-care and pension costs don’t expect our government to do so. President Bush is trying to convince the American public that they should invest in their own future, so that the government doesn’t have to. If he wanted to put this country at a more competitive position globally he would talk about insuring each person with a basic health coverage, nationally.

According to Automotive News, "DaimlerChrysler is in talks to set up a China venture that would make and export Chrysler cars to North America, a top executive said on Thursday, sketching a politically charged move."

In China, car makers generally pay about $1.95 an hour in wages and benefits. By comparison, DaimlerChrysler pays its German workers about $49.50 an hour, and its U.S. workers about $36.50 an hour.

The UAW countered with a press release that talked about unfair trade practices and said, "U.S. autoworkers are prepared to compete with workers anywhere in the world based on productivity, quality and innovation.

But it’s just plain wrong - for workers in China as well as the United States - to force workers to compete against each other based on who can do a job for the lowest possible wage."

Does the United States care where their cars are made? Or do they consider cars the same as medicine; they are willing to buy generic cars that are cheaper as long as they have the same active ingredients in them?

According to the following are vehicles built by UAW members; To be sure the vehicle you are buying is assembled in the United States, check the window sticker, which will list the location of final assembly, and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is attached to the driver’s side of the dashboard. A VIN beginning with "1," "4" or "5" means the vehicle was assembled in the United States.

2005 Cars and Trucks
Buick LeSabreBuick Park AvenueCadillac CTSCadillac DeVilleCadillac STSCadillac XLRChevrolet CavalierChevrolet CobaltChevrolet CorvetteChevrolet MalibuChevrolet Malibu MaxxChrysler Sebring Dodge NeonDodge Stratus Dodge ViperFord Five Hundred Ford FocusFord Freestyle Ford GTFord MustangFord TaurusFord ThunderbirdLincoln LSLincoln Town CarMazda 6Mercury MontegoMercury SableMitsubishi EclipseMitsubishi GalantPontiac BonnevillePontiac G6Pontiac Grand AmPontiac Solstice Pontiac SunfirePontiac VibeSaturn IONSaturn L300Toyota Corolla
Chevrolet ColoradoChevrolet SilveradoChevrolet SSRDodge Dakota Dodge RamFord F-seriesFord RangerGMC CanyonGMC SierraLincoln Mark LT Mazda B-seriesToyota Tacoma
Cadillac EscaladeCadillac SRXChevrolet BlazerChevrolet SuburbanChevrolet TahoeChevrolet Trail Blazer EXTDodge DurangoFord Escape/Escape Hybrid Ford ExcursionFord ExpeditionFord ExplorerFord Explorer Sport Trac GMC Envoy XLGMC Envoy XUVGMC Yukon/DenaliGMC Yukon XLHummer H1Hummer H2Hummer H2 SUTIsuzu Ascender (7-passenger) Jeep® Grand CherokeeJeep® LibertyJeep® WranglerLincoln AviatorLincoln NavigatorMazda TributeMercury MarinerMercury MountaineerMitsubishi EndeavorSaturn VUE
Buick TerrazaChevrolet AstroChevrolet ExpressChevrolet Uplander Chevrolet VentureChrysler Town & CountryDodge Caravan*/Grand CaravanFord E-seriesGMC Safari GMC Savana Pontiac MontanaSaturn Relay

First thing you do is talk to the people that work for you...

Obama Wrote Federal Staffers About His GoalsWorkers at Seven Agencies Got Detailed Letters Before Election
By Carol D. LeonnigWashington Post Staff WriterMonday, November 17, 2008; A01
In wooing federal employee votes on the eve of the election, Barack Obama wrote a series of letters to workers that offer detailed descriptions of how he intends to add muscle to specific government programs, give new power to bureaucrats and roll back some Bush administration policies.
The letters, sent to employees at seven agencies, describe Obama's intention to scale back on contracts to private firms doing government work, to remove censorship from scientific research, and to champion tougher industry regulation to protect workers and the environment. He made it clear that the Department of Housing and Urban Development would have an enhanced role in restoring public confidence in the housing market, shaken because of the ongoing mortgage crisis.
Using more specifics than he did on the campaign trail, Obama said he would add staff to erase the backlog of Social Security disability claims. He said he would help Transportation Security Administration officers obtain the same bargaining rights and workplace protections as other federal workers. He even expressed a desire to protect the Environmental Protection Agency's library system, which the Bush administration tried to eliminate.
"I asked him to put it in writing, something I could use with my members, and he didn't flinch," said John Gage, president of the 600,000-member American Federation of Government Employees, who requested that Obama write the letters, which were distributed through the union. "The fact that he's willing to put his name to it is a good sign."
The letters, all but one written Oct. 20, reveal a candidate adeptly tailoring his message to a federal audience and tapping into many workers' dismay at funding cuts and workforce downsizing in the Bush years. Many of Obama's promises would require additional funding, something he acknowledged would be difficult to achieve under the current economic conditions.
Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said the letters were intended to communicate to federal workers his position on their agencies.
In a letter to Labor Department employees, Obama wrote: "I believe that it's time we stopped talking about family values and start pursuing policies that truly value families, such as paid family leave, flexible work schedules, and telework, with the federal government leading by example."
Obama wrote to employees in the departments of Labor, Defense, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs, along with the TSA, the EPA and the Social Security Administration. Defense was the only area in which he did not make promises requiring additional spending, the letters show.
Some worry that Obama may have overpromised, with program changes and worker benefits that would be impossible to achieve. "That strikes me as smart politics," said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "We'll soon find out if he can deliver when he has to deliver his first budget."
Obama repeatedly echoed in his correspondence the longstanding lament of federal workers -- that the Bush administration starved their agencies of staff and money to the point where they could not do their jobs.
In his letter to Labor Department employees, Obama said Bush appointees had thwarted the agency's mission of keeping workers safe, especially in mines. "Our mine safety program will have the staffing . . . needed to get the job done," he wrote.
Obama lamented to EPA staffers that Americans' health and the planet have been "jeopardized outright" because of "inadequate funding" and "the failed leadership of the past eight years, despite the strong and ongoing commitment of the career individuals throughout this agency."
In his letter to Defense Department workers, Obama said he would examine flaws in pay and evaluation systems, but offered no high-cost initiatives.
Ruch said that if Obama cuts Pentagon spending, he will not have to work hard to help the other six agencies.
"These domestic discretionary programs are peanuts in the grand scale of things," Ruch said. "A small diversion from the Iraq conflict, if they were put into Interior, EPA or NASA, those agencies would be in their salad days. The National Park Service is laboring under a [maintenance] backlog that would be cured by a month and a half of Iraq expenditures."
While pledging money to some agencies, Obama also acknowledged that some cuts may be unavoidable.
"Because of the fiscal mess left behind by the current Administration, we will need to look carefully at all departments and programs," he wrote to HUD workers.
Gage said Obama would cut deeply into agencies he finds lacking, and the National Taxpayers Union says there is plenty of opportunity for savings. Congress last year refused to consider a 25 percent cut for 220 federal programs the government rated as ineffective, passing up a savings of $17 billion a year. Obama did not vote on the measure while he was a senator from Illinois.
His letter to HUD employees suggests a resurgence of the huge housing agency. Obama insisted that "HUD must be part of the solution" to the housing crisis and to keeping an estimated 5.4 million more families from losing homes in foreclosure. Several HUD employees cheered Obama's letter, saying they hoped one particular line foreshadowed the end of political appointees who didn't care or know much about the agency's work.
"I am committed to appointing a Secretary, Deputy and Assistant Secretaries who are committed to HUD's mission and capable of executing it," Obama wrote.
Obama also took aim at the Bush administration's focus on privatization, with contractors hired to perform government jobs -- often at princely sums. He complained that a $1.2 billion contract to provide TSA with human resources support unfairly blocked federal employees from competing to do that work.
"We plan specifically to look at work that is being contracted out to ensure that it is fiscally responsible and effective," he told HUD workers. "It is dishonest to claim real savings by reducing the number of HUD employees overseeing a program but increase the real cost of the program by transferring oversight to contracts. I pledge to reverse this poor management practice."
Gage said he is not expecting every civil servant's wish to be granted but he is hopeful.
"I think Obama's going to be fair, he's going to take seriously the missions of these agencies, and he's going to respect federal employees," Gage said. "After the last eight years, that's good enough for me."
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Now, I know what it is like for Sports Fans when the season is over. There is not another game to prepare for ... to watch ... to talk about afterward

Now the real work of a new government begins.

I have dropped off the grand children that are living with us this morning. I have grading to do.
But I have started my day with THE ELECTION for months. Like Tim Russet on "Meet the Press." I loved this sport that we call politics. The Presidental Election was the BIG SHOW.
This year. My team won. Or maybe I choices for candidates won public approval: Barrack Obama and Lupe Valdez. One will become the first Negro (African-American) (half-white) (person of color) (Black) President in our country's history... 219 years since George Washington became the first President of the United States of America. The other one is a second term Dallas County Sheriff, who happens to be a Hispanic, Lesbian, Christian woman with a job to finish for US here in Dallas. Both were long shots. Both are smart, well organized, and had well designed plans and good staffing. They both can get things done. So the "fun" might be over, but the "work" of good government can be just as interesting. So, I will take my three wishes for USa and blogg about them for the next four years: national healthcare, alternative energy, and future jobs for future Americans. And what it will take to achieve those wishes for all of USa.


PS Of course I was really happy that Water was found on Mars this year as well. Water on the Moon and Mars makes it possible to move out and off into Space. For a science teacher that is always interesting to blogg about.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

If you did not see This Week on Sunday AM with Gov. Schwarzenegger... you missed a very interesting discussion of what America needs today....

Arnold: GOP 'Values' Talk is 'Nonsense'
November 16, 2008 9:03 AMJennifer Parker-->
I asked California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on This Week what he thought the Republican Party should do to reinvent itself.
He argued his party has lost sight of what's important to the future of Americans.
"This dialogue about 'we have to go back to our core values.' What is that?" Schwarzenegger said during an interview on This Week.
How far does 'core' go back in history in America?" Thirty years? Fifty years? Because we know that Teddy Roosevelt talks about universal healthcare," he said.
"I think it's all nonsense talk," Schwarzenegger said.
The California Governor argued his party should focus on rebuilding the nation's infrastructure.
"We need to rebuild America," he said. "Then we have to go and create great relationships with our partners overseas in the world … We have to take care of healthcare, we have to take care of our environment and we have to build an energy future. Those are the things that people want right now."
--George Stephanopoulos

FD: you can watch it here on this link:

Do people ACTUALLY "take the bait" in these emails?

In a message dated 11/16/08 16:42:24 Central Standard Time, writes:
Reply E-mail:
Following official publication of results of the E-mail electronic Online Sweepstakes organized by the Eulottory corporation, the Slide circular award and the Heineken prizes in conjunction with the foundation for the promotion of software products, (F.P.S.), held on the 12th of November 2008,in Amsterdam The Netherlands, Wherein your electronic email address emerged as one of the online winning emails in the 1st category, hence your email address was attracted to a cash award of 1,000,000.00 Euros, We write to officially notify you of this award and to advise you to contact the processing office immediately upon receipt of this message for more information concerning the verification, processing and eventual payment of the above prize to you.
(I) The file REFERENCE NUMBER (QBH-7-12-19-33-9-65),(ii) Award Number BGD-21-7-2-28-37-19,(iii)Batch Number DST-33-29-12-1-8-19,(iv)Lucky Number: 726726XZJHN,(v)Ticket Number: 6460DGH,(vi)Your Full Name & Telephone Number.Please do contact the claim agents
Contact Person: Mr, Benhard HagenbeekE-mail:
Tel:+31-616 931 979
Fax:+31-847-542-943Congratulations!!!Sincerely,Mrs. Linda Jansen.Promotions Coordinator.

Having my granddaughter's teenage birthday party at the house got me to thinking about drug abuse in USA....

The following list is comprised of picks for the top 10 misused drugs in the world today: (by streetdrugs . org click link for details)

TOBACCO biggest killer (400,000 deaths/year)

ALCOHOL most widely abused legal substance

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS dangerously addictive, rising in popularity

methamphetamine.htm labeled an epidemic problem by the press

MARIJUANA most widely abused illegal substance

MDMA (ECSTASY) little research on long term effects, still popular

CRACK COCAINE cheap, destructive drug making a comeback

HEROIN highly addictive drug making a comeback in some areas

STEROIDS horrible side effects, the toll they're taking on athletics

INHALANTS abuse is on the rise among youth again

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Endeavour is going to the Space Station this week ... same old stuff is happening.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Space shuttle Endeavour's astronauts unfurled a 100-foot, laser-tipped pole and surveyed their ship for any launch damage Saturday while drawing ever closer to their destination, the international space station.
At least two pieces of debris were spotted Friday night in launch photos, Mission Control reported, and engineers were poring over the images to determine whether anything hit Endeavour. Mission Control told the astronauts there were no obvious signs of damage.
The spacecraft and its crew of seven were on track to hook up Sunday afternoon with the space station, currently home to three astronauts. The shuttle was delivering tons of equipment for remodeling, including a new bathroom, kitchenette, two sleeping compartments and an unprecedented recycling system for turning urine into drinking water.

"It's the eve of showtime," space station commander Mike Fincke told flight controllers on the ground. "Everyone get some rest. We're going to have a great day tomorrow."
The day centered around the shuttle inspections, standard procedure ever since Columbia shattered during re-entry in 2003.
During the afternoon, Ferguson's crew used the extra-long inspection boom to scrutinize Endeavour's right wing. The nose was next up, followed by the left wing. The painstaking job lasted well into the evening.
The shuttle wings and nose are especially vulnerable, taking the most heat when a shuttle descends through the atmosphere at the end of a flight. Even a seemingly minor gash could spell doom. Columbia was brought down by a hole in its wing the size of a dinner plate; all seven astronauts were killed.
Two pieces of debris were seen trailing Endeavour during Friday's liftoff, one at about a half-minute and the other just over two minutes into the flight. The earlier piece was likely a narrow strip of thermal blanket that was yanked off the shuttle during launch, said LeRoy Cain, chairman of the mission management team.
The blanket — 12 inches to 18 inches long and 4 inches wide — is believed to have come off the tail of the shuttle, near the orbital-maneuvering engine pod on the left side.
It's an area that does not get too hot during re-entry, so flight controllers are not overly concerned, Cain said. All the same, Mission Control asked the astronauts to photograph the area.
"You guys gave us some good pictures," Mission Control told Endeavour after the shuttle astronauts sent back images.
Cain said he had no information on the later piece of debris spotted in launch photos.
Virtually every inch of Endeavour will be photographed with zoom lenses when it approaches the space station late Sunday afternoon. Fincke ran through his picture-taking checklist with Mission Control on Saturday to make sure he had everything down.
A problem with a radio communication system on Endeavour th at doubles as radar could force Ferguson to rely on a backup navigation system for Sunday's rendezvous.
Once Endeavour is docked, the astronauts will begin unloading and installing the approximately 14,000 pounds of home-improvement equipment. It's all crucial if NASA is to expand the size of the station crew from three to six by next summer.
The space station currently has one kitchen, one bathroom and three bedrooms. Endeavour's delivery will transform the orbiting outpost into a two-kitchen, two-bath, five-bedroom home.

“In a way, this is a working man’s flight,” said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.
“This is something that’s the size of a small ship, and it needs a lot to keep it running. This is one of the flights where we deliver those things,” Griffin told The Associated Press.
The accouterments — as Griffin calls them — also are intended to make life “bearable” for the astronauts spending months there.
Endeavour’s five men and two women will help install all the new equipment, with help from the space station’s three residents.
The shuttle crew also will take on a lube job at the orbiting outpost, which was soaring 220 miles (350 kilometers) above the South Pacific when Endeavour thundered off.
A massive joint that rotates half of the space station’s solar wings toward the sun has been jammed for more than a year; it’s clogged with metal grit from grinding parts. The spacewalking astronauts will spend most of their time working on that joint and also add extra grease to keep a twin joint working.

NASA hopes to stretch the mission to 16 days if possible, which would put touchdown late in the Thanksgiving weekend.

The space agency has just 10 more shuttle flights, including this one, before the fleet is retired in 2010 to make way for a new rocketship capable of flying to the space station and, eventually, carrying astronauts to the moon. An additional shuttle flight or two could be in NASA’s future, however, to try to narrow the projected five-year gap between the last shuttle flight and the first manned launch of the new spaceship.