Back in the driver's seat?

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Federal Express Corp's decision this week to force its salaried workers to take at least a 5 percent pay cut and to suspend its 401(k) match isn't just bad news for the shipping giant's employees....

The moves also underscore how much the tables have turned on U.S. workers as a result of the economic crisis, which has put employers firmly back in the driver's seat.

[From FedEx delivers ominous new twist with benefit cuts | U.S. | Reuters]

When were they out?

Crime and punishment

Fallen financier Bernard Madoff Friday was ordered confined to his $7 million upper East Side penthouse 24 hours a day by a Manhattan federal judge.

[From Feds confine Bernie Madoff to his $7 million penthouse until trial]

The annual search for the perfect holiday hangover cure heats up

Cures for the Inevitable

[From Cures for the Inevitable - Proof Blog - NYTimes.com]

On hitting the wall

The financial services industry has claimed an ever-growing share of the nation’s income over the past generation, making the people who run the industry incredibly rich. Yet, at this point, it looks as if much of the industry has been destroying value, not creating it. And it’s not just a matter of money: the vast riches achieved by those who managed other people’s money have had a corrupting effect on our society as a whole.

[From Op-Ed Columnist - The Madoff Economy - NYTimes.com]

So you want a new bike for Christmas?

(Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue)

GOP's new idea: Get an idea

In a frank and private memo sent today to Republican National Commitee members, the RNC chairman acknowledges that the GOP has grown too addicted to ideology, places politics before policy, and is bereft of ideas -- and that it's imperative that the party shift towards a genuine effort to develop concrete policy solutions to people's problems in order to rescue itself.

[From TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo | In Private Memo, RNC Chief Concedes That GOP Is Bereft Of Ideas, Vows Change Of Direction]

(Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue)

On fruit

WASHINGTON -- It is a legitimate question: Why is the resume-thin Caroline Kennedy being treated seriously as a prospective appointee to the U.S. Senate when the comparatively more-qualified Gov. Sarah Palin received such a harsh review?

It is legitimate, at least, to those inclined to see apples and oranges as essentially the same.

[From Caroline Kennedy Is No Sarah Palin - washingtonpost.com]

(Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue)


And it's a Ford?

Had Ford made a few hundred thousand of these cars available in June -- along with the financing to sell them -- we'd be erecting 50-foot equestrian statues of William Clay Ford and Alan Mulally in city squares, and the streets of Dearborn, Mich., would be repaved with diamond cobblestones.

[From 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid: 52 mpg and the darkness before dawn - Los Angeles Times]

Well, yes. It is.

Shoes news

Wired's Underwire presents a whole page of throwing-shoes-at-Bush toys online, while Danger Room assesses the fighting footware arsenal.

OK, let's just take a deep breath here

Butter Holds the Secret to Cookies That Sing

[From Butter Holds the Secret to Cookies That Sing - NYTimes.com]

Sing? Cookies?

And here's the beauty part...

Fed OKs rules barring unfair credit card practices

[From Fed OKs rules barring unfair credit card practices | Reuters]

...they don't go into effect until 2010.


Looks like winter (in Washington)

Looks like winter, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Just in from our Seattle bureau.

Catch Oleo

An anagram for chocolate from the Internet Anagram Server.

Spotted angel spotted in Ohio...

2008 Mug Shots Of The Year

DECEMBER 17--What makes a good photograph? A compelling subject, proper lighting, and exquisite composition would certainly be components. But what makes a good mug shot? A compelling subject, of course. And a cow costume never hurts.

[From 2008 Mug Shots Of The Year - December 17, 2008]

If the sugarplums are wearing thin...

...there's this.

Le Tour du Chocolat

[From Journeys - Le Tour du Chocolat - NYTimes.com]

Could be quite a show, but don't buy tickets in advance

Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

[From Editorial - The Torture Report - NYTimes.com]

And especially in the Oval Office

(By the way, we’re approaching the one-month-to-go mark on the George W. Bush Out of Office Countdown calendar. The presidential quote of the week is: “Natural gas is hemispheric. I like to call it hemispheric in nature because it is a product that we can find in our neighborhoods.”)

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Send in the Celebrities - NYTimes.com]

(Noted by Midwest Bureau Chief Phil Compton)

Over the side they go

Facing $114 million in state budget cuts, Boston Medical Center announced yesterday that 250 employees will be laid off or have their hours reduced and that patient services will be cut in key areas, including primary care, pediatrics, and geriatrics.

More than half of the hospital's patients are low-income residents, so the reductions are likely to hit hardest on the city's most vulnerable, the immigrants, poor families, and senior citizens who receive free or subsidized care at the hospital, patient advocates said. The cuts were to take effect immediately.

[From Boston Medical to cut staff, services - The Boston Globe]

Some guys are just easy to surprise

Dr. Paul Grabb, a pediatric brain surgeon, said he was surprised when he discovered a small foot growing inside the brain of 3-day-old Sam Esquibel.

[From Colorado Doctor Finds Foot In Newborn's Brain - Staying Healthy News Story - KMGH Denver]

(Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue.)

Taking the paper out

This might go down as the week that they took paper out of the newspaper business.

Detroit's two daily newspapers announced Tuesday that they plan to reduce home delivery to just three days a week. And the trade organization for newspaper editors scheduled an April vote on whether to drop "paper" from its name.

[From How long can newspapers keep delivering the news? - Los Angeles Times]

"Frightening times for those of us with ink in our veins. (aka: dinosaurs)," notes our Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Pall Knue.


And we're lucky to get the streets plowed

In Paris, nude models are a public service.

Models who pose for Paris' Beaux Arts workshops have staged a nude strike to have their work recognised as a "proper profession".

Braving freezing conditions, the models - of all ages, shapes and sizes - bared all in front of the cultural section of the Paris town hall, which runs the art workshops, saying their aim was "not to shock but to show how we work".

The models, who are paid by the Paris town hall, said the mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, should spend a little less on grand cultural gestures and more on lower-profile activities like theirs. They also want fixed contracts.

[From Paris nude models bare all in strike to be recognised as professionals - Telegraph]

(Noted by our Seattle bureau)

YA shoe-throwing game

The aim of "Sock and Awe" (www.sockandawe.com), launched by Britain's Alex Tew, is to knock Bush out with a shoe, a feat already attained by 1.4 million players, according to the website Tuesday.

Aptly named after the US "Shock and Awe" military campaign to knock out Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, the game gives players 30 seconds to aim at a figure of Bush ducking behind a rostrum.

[From The Raw Story | Taking a swipe at Bush: Zaidi-inspired shoe game on Internet]

While you're waiting to get on to this extremely busy web site you can have a go with Kast sko mot Bush (on our ever-expanding Work Avoidance list).


From "Sock and Awe," 9:14 AM, 12/17/08: 7,369,971 hits so far. Two mine.)

If there's anything scarier than this, we don't want to know what it is

WASHINGTON — The White House has prepared more than a dozen contingency plans to help guide President-elect Barack Obama if an international crisis erupts in the opening days of his administration...

[From Bush Prepares Crisis Briefings to Aid Obama - NYTimes.com]

And no, it's not the international crisis part that frightens me. It's the George W. Bush contingency plan. If there's anything you don't want to happen, Bunky, take my word, it's that.

No wonder they were slow to notice Wall Street...

Hub firm cuts ties as feds probe National Lampoon - BostonHerald.com

...they were investigating the National freaking Lampoon.

'Tis the season of make-believe

SPRINGFIELD -- State lawmakers insisted today they could fairly investigate Gov. Rod Blagojevich following years of criticizing him as a terrible leader as they opened unprecedented impeachment proceedings against him.

[From Impeachment panel begins, teeth clenched - Chicago Breaking News]

On the Bank Crisis - March 12,1933

We had a bad banking situation. Some of our bankers had shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in their handling of the people's funds. They had used the money entrusted to them in speculations and unwise loans.

[From On the Bank Crisis - March 12,1933 ]


(Fireside chats from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum)


On the edge of red

Et tu, Newt?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich sent a rather scathing letter to Mike Duncan on Tuesday, accusing the RNC chairman of engaging in "a destructive distraction" by attempting to tie Barack Obama to Rod Blagojevich. In particular, Gingrich hit the RNC for putting out a web ad that made it seem as if the President-elect was hiding a nefarious chapter of his personal history with the embattled Illinois Governor.

[From Gingrich Rips RNC For Its Blagojevich Attacks]

(Noted with wonder by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue)

And from those left standing, a sigh of relief

Trend of the Year: Epic Organizational Failure

It’s rare to look back over a year of corrections and errors and see so many examples of organizational failure. Years past have seen plenty of malfeasance by individuals, but 2008 is remarkable for news organizations that pursued completely outrageous behavior.

[From Regret the Error » Crunks 2008: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections]

(Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue)

What we need here...

To make it possible Yahoo introduces a notion of “connections” where various account owners can be suggested as “connections” for you to be able to track updates of their use of various services and see what they are up to - same as what you do on a social network like Facebook but right from your Yahoo Mail interface.

[From Blog Posts powered by BlogBurst | Reuters.com]

...is a social network for hermits. Because pretty soon there will be nowhere else to go.

December 19

(From our Seattle bureau.)

Next, slop


[From Severe Weather Alert - weather.com ]

For the last few days I've been looking with wonder at the photos of the recent New England ice storm. Nestled here in the river valley, we saw none of it. But elsewhere in the state, and further north, it was brutal - roads closed, trees down, utility poles snapped, families without power indefinitely.

Next up, a New England slop storm. We might get lucky again, but time is clearly running out.

Oh well. For the people who are into grayish-glop Christmases, this might be just the thing.

File under Stuff I Want To Just Forget About

However, research has shown the teenage brain and the young adult brain is not fully developed. A part of the brain called the dorsal-lateral prefrontal cortex is still developing through these years. The dorsal-lateral prefrontal cortex is believed to be responsible for judgment and consideration of risk, so its lack of development in adolescents and young adults might lead them to make risky or poor decisions.

[From Teens unaware of long-term repercussions of 'sexting' :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Laura Berman]

Not a good time to own a shoe store in Dallas

WASHINGTON—In movies, Secret Service agents leap in front of bullets aimed at the commander in chief. But in Baghdad, agents failed to block not one, but two shoes hurled at President George W. Bush during a weekend news conference.

So a day after Bush dodged flying footwear, Secret Service officials faced questions Monday about how an angry television reporter was able to throw his shoes before agents moved into the line of fire.

[From Secret Service takes a hit after shoes thrown at George Bush -- chicagotribune.com]

Everybody has to take them off in airports, I'm told (I'm waiting for some headline writer to coin "pants bomber") - now, what, anywhere close to the doofus too?

You could save yourself a lot of bother by just going barefoot.

When frightening headlines are written...

Auto industry rescue on hold as Bush looks at the data

[From Auto industry rescue on hold as Bush looks at the data | Freep.com | Detroit Free Press]

YA book they won't want at the Bush Library

BAGHDAD — An unpublished, 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

[From Official History Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders - ProPublica]

Be the first on your block...

...to Kast sko mot Bush!

Hacking trees

Hackers have accessed Brazilian government computer systems and helped 107 companies obtain permits that enabled them to fell over £546million ($833m) worth of timber illegally....

"By hacking into the permit system, these companies have made their timber shipments appear legal and compliant with the forest management plans. But in reality, they're trading illegal timber which is making the problem of deforestation worse, and a lack of control and policing in the areas they're logging means they think they can get away with it."

[From Hackers 'Responsible' for £546m of Illegal Deforestation in the Amazon]


It's Wi-Fi Man!

Dude, this is very possibly - no, absolutely - the geekiest thing I've ever seen. T-shirt lights up when it detects Wi-Fi, indicates signal strength. Standing in just exactly the right place, I can become, literally, a flasher. (Instructions say, "Caution: Don only in phone booth." Does anybody remember what a phone booth is?)

Yea, Lynn!

"News You Can Lose"

More on the decline of ink:

There’s no mystery as to the source of all the trouble: advertising revenue has dried up.

[From News You Can Lose: Financial Page: The New Yorker]

(Contributed by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue)

Pervert in Europe

Sounds like a Henry James novel. But, no...

While researching my book on salacious history, Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped, I realized that this deviant itinerary could still be traced through the underbelly of Europe—in short, a Pervert's Grand Tour. I'd always avoided the most popular attractions of Britain, France, and Italy, but this was an inspiring prospect: I would pick three "official" destinations and seek out some tasteful historical filth.

[From The pervert's grand tour of Europe. (1) - By Tony Perrottet - Slate Magazine ]

(Noted by Midwest Bureau Cub Reporter Paul Knue)

No caption required

(Noted by our Midwest bureau)


Binary flag

Binary, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Zombies on Ice

About 100 people dressed in their zombie finest hit Millennium Park on Sunday for some ice skating....

"Anybody can be a zombie. You just need makeup," said Joe Penn, 19, a Harper College student.

[From A really dead crowd at downtown rink :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Lifestyles]

Bonus feature: Zombie fonts

Warning: Has audio, and it's really scary stuff.

While we're at it, let's end the first one too

For more than a decade, federal officials have denied that sick veterans of the Gulf War share a distinct illness. But a 452-page federal report by an independent committee of scientists and veterans, released last month by the Boston University School of Public Health, found that at least 174,000 veterans, or 1 in 4 people deployed by the US military to the Persian Gulf in 1990 and 1991, have Gulf War illness, manifesting in a range of symptoms, probably caused by pesticide exposure and an experimental drug that hundreds of thousands were ordered to take as a precaution against chemical attack.

[From BU report traces veterans' Gulf War illness to experimental drug - The Boston Globe]

File under There's a First Time for Everything

At Harvard University, the talk of billion-dollar losses in its massive endowment has blown in a new age of austerity across the campus....

Faculty members, who are not slated for raises next year, will be expected to pitch in on clerical work (Question: How many Harvard philosophy professors does it take to work a Xerox machine? Answer: Unclear. It's never been done).

[From Harvard pursues an unfamiliar discipline - The Boston Globe]

My annual concession to merriment

I'm loading my Christmas music collection onto my iPhone today - five renditions of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting...): Ella, Barbara, Mel Tormé, Lew Rawls, and Nat "King" Cole; Nina Simone's Chilly Winds Don't Blow and Sophie Milman's This Time of Year; and the Vince Guaraldi Trio's album, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

It's a veritable OD of cheer.

But hey, it's only ten days.

Heckuva job

Imagine if President Bush, on his last day in office, invited his friends to lift the Lincoln portrait from the White House Dining Room, take the 18th- century furniture from the Map Room and — for good measure — poison the Rose Garden on the way out.

In essence, he is doing the same thing this month with land that belongs to every American — the magical redrock country of the Southwest.

[From Op-Ed Guest Columnist - Final Days Fire Sale - Editorial - NYTimes.com]
(Noted by our Midwest bureau)


In Vermont, not all job news is bad

Business is so brisk at the state unemployment office that it is hiring workers.

[From Jobless claims strain phone lines, state fund | burlingtonfreepress.com | The Burlington Free Press]


President Bush is trying mightily to rewrite the history of the Iraq war before his administration leaves power. He and members of his national security brain trust, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, would like to dispel the narrative that they misled the country into war. Instead, both Bush and Rice are trying to characterize the White House as the unwitting recipient of faulty intelligence.

[From Revisionist history about the Iraq war]

Is that anything like witless? Just asking.

Meanwhile, while all eyes were on Illinois

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

[From Bloomberg.com: Exclusive]


Canopy, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

From the Editor

Undoubtedly due to our recent staff expansion here on YAME's flagship blog, our readership has skyrocketed into the mid-20s and Technorati now ranks us 1,425,369th in the world.

Move over, Rupert.

Swedes brace for immigration spike

There is good news, sort of, for folks living in Brazil. A new presidential decree has imposed stringent demands on how consumer calls must be handled. In theory, no more long waits, no more endless transfers.

But before you pack up and relocate, here’s the thing. Companies are already pointing out that consumers will bear the extra costs, and one executive said there is no way to offer “Swedish quality at Indian prices.”

[From Oddly Enough » Blog Archive » Your call is important to us… Do you GET sarcasm? | Blogs | ]

A little cheating in the Most Corrupt State game

If Blagojevich ultimately goes to prison, he will become the fourth out of the last eight governors to wear stripes, joining predecessors George Ryan (racketeering, conspiracy, obstruction), Dan Walker (bank fraud), and Otto Kerner (straight-up bribery).

[From Which state is the most corrupt—Illinois or Louisiana? - By Jacob Weisberg - Slate Magazine ]

It's a "fact" making the rounds these days - and as stated it may be true enough - but Dan Walker doesn't really belong on the list. Although he served for a while on Adlai Stevenson's staff, Walker was not a career politician - and most emphatically not a machine politician.

Walker was corporate attorney for Montgomery Ward when he was named by Richard J. (Da Mare) Daley to head the Chicago Study Team set up in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention riot, in part because he was widely known to be one of the few Democrats in the city not in Da Mare's pocket. On the strength of public acclaim for the study team's report, Walker conducted an outsider campaign for the Democratic nomination and went on to win the Governor's mansion in 1972.

(One of my friends in Chicago wrote the police section of the study team's report and on the basis of that association I wound up working on the outer fringes of Walker's campaign. Others more central to Walker's election had names that have become familiar again today - Axelrod and Pritzger among them.)

With no big fan base in either party, Walker proved an ineffective governor. But not a crook - or at least not one that was caught. Walker's legal troubles came later - after leaving office and becoming involved in a Chicago-suburban Savings and Loan, Walker was convicted of "banking improprieties."

Imagine that.

(For more info, Wikipedia's entry on Walker is here.)

The victory lap

Bush makes farewell visit to Iraq

[From BBC NEWS | Middle East | Bush makes farewell visit to Iraq]

'Tis the season to be merry

A man called police on Wednesday night after he came home from work and spotted an intoxicated woman drinking a beer on the roof of his home. The 28-year-old woman was taken into custody after she refused to get down and leave. The police report said the woman agreed to leave only if the man agreed to give her more beer.

[From Fla. woman drinking on roof asks man for more beer]

"Pretty memorable" cold forecast in WA

Confusion reigns

Mount Vernon reported four inche ofd snow...

[From Snow falls; bitterly cold weather looms]

But if the idea catches on...

What went down in the Land of Lincoln is just the reductio ad absurdum of an American era where both entitlement and corruption have been the calling cards of power. Blagojevich’s alleged crimes pale next to the larger scandals of Washington and Wall Street. Yet those who promoted and condoned the twin national catastrophes of reckless war in Iraq and reckless gambling in our markets have largely escaped the accountability that now seems to await the Chicago punk nabbed by the United States attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald.

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Two Cheers for Rod Blagojevich - Editorial - NYTimes.com]

The Windy City way

Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to declare Blagojevich "disabled." She called on the justices—some of whom are there by grace of the Chicago machine—to remove Blagojevich, pronto....

Madigan's stunt was treated as legitimate jaw-dropping news by the national networks. She declared herself "the people's lawyer," over and over....

What they didn't report on the evening news is this: Lisa Madigan is more than just "the people's lawyer." She's a candidate for governor and Dead Meat is in her way. Her daddy is Mike Madigan, powerful boss of the machine's 13th Ward and speaker of the Illinois House who hates Dead Meat.

Her dad wants to make her governor. She wants to be governor. And the best way to get there is to whisk Dead Meat into a political straitjacket and lock him in the political version of a padded cell.

[From Will 'feditis' spread to Obama and Daley? -- chicagotribune.com]