A proposed anti-trust settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and a subsidiary of energy giant National Grid is under fire for allegedly being too lenient to the power company — and critics say it’s just another sign of a dysfunctional regulatory climate.
National Gird subsidiary Keyspan Energy has been accused of using Enron-style tactics to manipulate the New York State energy market between 2006 and 2008, a scheme which withdrew power capacity from the market, raising prices and increasing profits for the power distributor.
But now Congressman Dennis Kucinich has joined consumer groups and regulatory agencies to urge the Justice Department to reconsider the settlement that requires the company to pay $12 million penalty to the government while not refunding a single dime of the $100 million the market manipulation cost consumers.
If you get fined only $12m when you profit $100m, what’s to stop the company from doing it again?
If today’s kids would just turn off their electronic games and kick the ball around in the parish playground, Italian soccer might have a future.
That was the suggestion in a commentary June 26 in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, in the wake of the humiliating first-round elimination of the Italian national soccer team in the World Cup in South Africa.
The commentary, under the headline "Let’s throw out the PlayStation and get back to the parish playground," said Italy’s national squad — defending world champions — lacked preparation, strategy and especially a deep roster of great players.
The solution in the past, it said, has been to turn attention to the younger generations playing in the "oratorio," the parish playground where countless Italian professionals have developed their soccer legs.
No doubt by having to run faster than the priests attempting to molest them.
Neither the Long Depression of the 19th century nor the Great Depression of the 20th was an era of nonstop decline — on the contrary, both included periods when the economy grew. But these episodes of improvement were never enough to undo the damage from the initial slump, and were followed by relapses.
We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.
And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending.
A new poll from Vanity Fair and 60 Minutes finds that 24 percent of Americans still believe Pres. Obama was born overseas, despite a complete lack of evidence to support the claim he was foreign-born. And while nearly a quarter of Americans cling to this belief, there is no consensus among these hard core birthers about where overseas Obama was born — 6 percent said Kenya, 2 percent said Indonesia and 16 percent couldn’t specify, just somewhere other than America.
By comparison an Angus Reid Global Monitor poll from March 2010 that around 15 percent of Americans were found to be truthers, the media’s analog to birthers. In the poll, 15 percent said the collapse of the World Trade Center was the result of a controlled demolition, with 11 percent not sure; 15 percent said Flight 93 was shot down over Pennsylvania (22 percent not sure); 13 percent said no plane crashed at the Pentagon (11 percent not sure); and 6 percent said no jets crashed into the World Trade Center towers, meaning the images in the news videos were fake (7 percent weren’t sure).
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she has no intention of pretending to believe in God to attract religiously-inclined voters.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was a regular at Canberra church services and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is known as a devout Catholic.
In contrast, Ms Gillard says that while she greatly respects other people’s religious views, she does not believe in God.
Ms Gillard has been quizzed on personal topics including her attitude to religion and her relationship with her partner during interviews this morning.
She says does not go through religious rituals for the sake of appearance.
"I am not going to pretend a faith I don’t feel," she said.
Dell, however, had actually sent the university, in Austin, desktop PCs riddled with faulty electrical components that were leaking chemicals and causing the malfunctions. Dell sold millions of these computers from 2003 to 2005 to major companies like Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo, institutions like the Mayo Clinic and small businesses.
“The funny thing was that every one of them went bad at the same time,” said Greg Barry, the president of PointSolve, a technology services company near Philadelphia that had bought dozens. “It’s unheard-of, but Dell didn’t seem to recognize this as a problem at the time.”
Documents recently unsealed in a three-year-old lawsuit against Dell show that the company’s employees were actually aware that the computers were likely to break. Still, the employees tried to play down the problem to customers and allowed customers to rely on trouble-prone machines, putting their businesses at risk. Even the firm defending Dell in the lawsuit was affected when Dell balked at fixing 1,000 suspect computers, according to e-mail messages revealed in the dispute.
Shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.
Ten years ago Dell, IBM, HP, Compaq, Sun and Apple faced the same challenge. The technology had become a commodity and low cost competitors were killing their margins. Dell choose to use his companies market share and scale to be the lowest cost provider, effectively killing competitors. IBM chose to exit the business and sold their PC division to Lenovo and focus on services and servers with a strong emphasis on open source. Sun never could figure it out . HP and Compac merged to try to mirror Dell’s strategy. Apple released OSX and iTunes to reshape the digital experience. The focus on design and user interface was the winner. Instead of building the cheapest clone, Apple stayed out of that market and became the premium experience. The escaped the commodity trap. The result is that today while Apple has 12.5% market share in PCs, they take in half of the total profit.
Although still early in the process, newly leaked documents about Windows 8 offer some keen insight into where Microsoft wants to head with the next version of the operating system.
One thing that is made abundantly clear is that Microsoft has been paying attention to Apple. In the documents, which appear to come from an April meeting with computer makers, Microsoft discusses its Cupertino, Calif.-based rival and outlines plans to offer a Windows Store similar to the way Apple distributes software on its iPhone. The documents, which Microsoft has declined to comment on or authenticate, also talk about plans to give Windows a more iPad-like response time through new power management settings.
In particular, one slide titled “How Apple Does It: A Virtuous Cycle,” talks about the need for simplicity in design. “Apple brand is known for high quality, uncomplicated, ‘it just works,’” the slide says, adding that “This is something people will pay for!”
Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for all the program managers at Microsoft to give their input into Windows 8, so it’ll probably be just as screwed up as all previous windows versions.
The Royal Canadian Mint headquarters in Ottawa is operating normally again after a liquid oxygen spill prompted a weekend evacuation.
An Air Liquide tanker truck had been delivering oxygen to the mint on Sussex Drive when a valve malfunctioned on Sunday, Ottawa Fire Services reported.
Possibly you won’t understand the significance of this if you don’t know the Ottawa area. The Mint is very close to Parliament Hill, just across the locks at the end of the Rideau Canal.
Since oxygen is highly volatile at normal temperatures, there was a strong danger that a cloud of oxygen might have drifted across the canal to Parliament Hill, possibly resulting in clear thinking by some of the politicians.
Who knows what might have resulted …