What Bush Says Now – What Bush Did Then

Today President Bush SAID, “Every corporate official who has chosen to commit a crime can expect to face the consequences,” he said. “No more easy money for corporate criminals, just hard time.” NYTimes version here.

This is what President Bush previously DID about corporate criminals. “The Bush administration Friday ordered the suspension of a Clinton rule that would have significantly strengthened the government’s ability to deny contracts to companies that have violated workplace safety, environmental and other federal laws.”

A good story about this can be found at Mother Jones. “The government continues to award federal business worth billions to companies that repeatedly break the law. A Mother Jones investigation reveals which major contractors are the worst offenders.”

The Pension Problem – “at least 50 WorldComs”

I’ve been writing about corporate pension funds, the “other” accounting problem (here and here).

Today Paul Krugman in the New York Times talks about the issue, “As the current issue of Business Week explains, the pension time bomb involves large numbers; I’d say it’s the equivalent of at least 50 WorldComs.”

From the Business Week piece, “Amid the wreckage of the worst bear market in at least three decades, hemorrhaging corporate pension plans are rapidly becoming Wall Street’s biggest new worry. They have lost hundreds of billions of dollars, and now companies face the end of their long-running holiday from writing checks to the plans. Over the next 18 months or so, companies ranging from General Motors to United Technologies face having to pump billions into their plans to comply with federal laws to protect pensioners.”

“The squeeze on U.S. pension funds has the potential to be the defining U.S. financial crisis of the 2000s, like the savings and loan squeeze of the 1980s,” says Bob Prince, director of research and trading at money manager Bridgewater Associates.”

Well Worth Reading

Dick Cheney’s Brilliant Career – From the Toronto Star. “There was nothing illegal about the decision by Cheney and four other Halliburton insiders to dump their shares in the company in August, 2000, about two months before Halliburton stunned investors with news that its engineering and construction business was spiralling downward, and that a grand jury was investigating charges it had overbilled the government.”

Only 200 Al-Queda?

I haven’t seen any follow-ups to Saturday’s story in which the FBI and CIA said there are really only 200 members of Al-Queda. It seems this should be the biggest story in the news. We’re at “war”, the government is being reorganized, Constitutional protections are being disassembled, the budget is shot – but it’s all about only 200 people, many of whom are already in custody? Can someone tell me what is going on?

Maybe this is why Bush feels like he can slip away on vacation for a month.

More on the Pension Problem

Here is a follow-up to my entry a few days ago, “ANOTHER Corporate Accounting Problem?”. “Shortfalls in private companies’ pension plans soared to $111 billion last year, the highest level ever reported by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.”

“”The implications of such massive shortfalls in pension funds are staggering,” said Rep. George Miller of California, the top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee. Miller urged the Bush administration to investigate and ensure that workers’ retirement savings are not in danger.”

m4s0n501

WTF?!

WTF is going on here? Today’s San Jose Mercury News has a very small report on page 8. I’ll look for the wire service it came from, and see if I can find confirmation online.

This is the entire article:

Fewer Al-Qaida members than reported, FBI says

Senior FBI officials believe there are now no more than 200 hard-core Al-Qaida members throughout the world.

“Al-Qaida itself, we know, is less than 200,” said an FBI official, referring to those who have sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

That figure, far less than recent media reports suggested were in the United States alone, is based on FBI and CIA reports.”

If this is an accurate report, I have to ask, WHAT THE F$$$ IS GOING ON HERE?