Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tiny Ridder Testifies

Par Ridder (former publisher of the Pioneer Press) claims he didn't intend to harm the St. Paul Pioneer Press when he took confidential computer files from his job there to his new post as publisher and CEO of the rival Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

The spreadsheets contained sensitive data on advertising, finances and personnel. He was only, he claimed, going to reproduce the forms. Of course, he shared the spreadsheets with at least two other Star Tribune officials but only so they could re-create the spreadsheets using Star Tribune data, adapted to how the Star Tribune conducted business. If you believe that.

From the Washington Post:
"I had profit numbers, revenue numbers, expense numbers" and sensitive information on advertisers and personnel, he said.
He also took a folder of noncompete agreements, including his own agreement.

Par Ridder is the son of Knight Ridder Chairman Tony Ridder who sold the Pioneer Press to McClatchy newspapers who sold it to MediaNews.

There were other witnesses.
Two of Ridder's new bosses also testified by video. OhSang Kwon, a partner with Avista Capital Partners, which owns the Star Tribune, said Ridder had told him when they were hiring him that his noncompete agreement had been repealed, and he wasn't sure if it was valid in the first place. James Finkelstein, another partner at Avista, said Ridder should not have brought the confidential computer documents with him to the Star Tribune.
Par Ridder, 38, testifed that Art Brisbane released them from the noncompete agreements, but Brisbane said he couldn't recall discussing the matter. Furthermore, Brisbane testified he was sure that he would have consulted with other Knight Ridder executives before canceling Ridder's noncompete agreement, including Tony Ridder.

The Houston Chronicle: ""I didn't plan on using the Pioneer Press financials," Ridder testified, because it would have given him and the Star Tribune an "unfair advantage" in the competitive Twin Cities newspaper market."

The Star Tribune is, of course, denying that tiny Ridder and two executives violated employment agreements by coming to work at the paper. The Pioneer Press wants the three executives - Paul Ridder, Kevin Desmond, the Star Tribune's senior vice president of operations, and Jennifer Parratt, its director of niche publications, banned from working for the Star Tribune for at least a year.

THIS IS probably not important unless you follow the media business, but Tiny Ridder was always a major loser who oversaw an intentially non-competing newspaper. The fact is that he wanted to continue to cripple any possible competition.
FOR UPDATE on how this turned out, go here. (Short version: The Star Tribune paid $3.4 million legal fees to the Pioneer Press. The union voted to ask Tiny Ridder to quit. A judge finally ordered him to leave the paper for a year and the judge had some juicy comments to make about it.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Nothing illustrates the deficiencies of socialized state health care more than Adolfo (Tony) Flora. He was infected with hepatits from tainted blood in 1973. He was diagnosed with with liver cancer in 1999. He was told there were no viable treatment options and was given six months to live.

But he didn't die.
Flora refused to accept the death sentence and travelled to England for a transplant that saved his life. Now 57, he is free of hepatitis and cancer although his health must still be monitored.

However, the treatment in Britain cost more than $400,000 and OHIP has refused to compensate him, Kahnert said.

Flora sued the province but in January lost his case before the Ontario Divisional Court.
He is now appealing the ruling, leaving him with significant court costs, Kahnert said.
Supporters are planning a concert to try to raise funds for him.

Sounds like the Soviet Union, doesn't it? It's Canada.

CBC on the tainted blood scandal. Here In several provinces you can check out the waiting times online, in case you want to gamble on, say, that cancer or that heart condition going away on its own without surgery.

I just know I want to trust my life with a Ministry of Health.

A Man of the Cloth Press Conference

In a first, Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney, was ordered by a judge to testify in a "in a lawsuit alleging that he failed to protect parishioners from a pedophile teacher."

In a city where radio ads are heard daily criticizing the Catholic Church, and Mahoney in particular, in "How DARE you!"ads condemning the church for opposition to Right to Die, it wasn't unexpected.

It's very easy to criticize Mahoney. He takes sides on every issue, usually on the wrong side, and is one of the most political devisive religious figures in the country. He demeans religion with his self-righteous involvement in "social justice issues" and his arrogance is unbecoming for a religious figure. Frankly, he deserves the disrespect. The fact that he's extending that contempt to the whole church is the problem.

The Los Angeles Times continues to call priests accused of sexual involvement with underage youths "pedophiles" despite the fact that all the sex contacts were homosexual. However, calling them "homosexual priests" just isn't on the Los Angeles Times' agenda.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bragging Rights

Unemployment figures in the EU, as reported by Expatica.com

The EU average fell by 0.1 percent in April to a new low of 7.1 percent. That represents about 17 million people in the EU.

Poland continues to have the highest unemployment rate (11.2 percent), although the number of unemployed Poles has nearly been halved since the country's accession to the EU. (Which may in fact be the result of EU accounting practices, because the figures here contradict that.)

Slovakia has the second highest unemployment rate (10.5 percent), followed by France and Greece (both 8.6 percent).

They didn't mention the German unemployment rate: German unemployment dropped to 9.1 per cent in May. Down from 9.8 in March and 9.5 in April.

If Germany spent more time creating jobs in innovation and technology and less time investing in global warming scams, they wouldn't rival Slovakia in unemployment.

The EU Parliament voting is another bragging right.

Global Scamming

The Guardian (U.K) thinks emission credits and carbon trading are bogus.
The CDM is one of two global markets which have been set up in the wake of the Kyoto climate summit in 1997. Both finally started work in January 2005. Although both were launched with the claim that they would reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, evidence collected by the Guardian suggests that thus far, both markets have earned fortunes for speculators and for some of the companies which produce most greenhouse gases and yet, through a combination of teething troubles and multiple forms of malpractice and possibly fraud, they have delivered little or no benefit for the environment.
The CDM is run under the umbrella of the UN.

The EU scheme is equally profit generating, while "At the other end of this EU market, smaller organisations like UK hospitals and 18 universities, who had been given far fewer EUAs, were forced to go out and buy them - while the price was still high. So, for example, the University of Manchester spent £92,500 on EUAs. Now that the truth about the glut has been revealed, the university would be doing well if it managed to get £1,000 for the lot of them. " [EUAs =
EUA EU Allowance (C02-emissions)]

Scam? Of course. The Guardian: "While this EU market has failed to make any serious impact on climate change, the UN's Clean Development Mechanism has done little better."

It wouldn't be difficult to imagine that regulating C02-emissions is a prelude to eventually charging people for the air they breathe, That scenario is looking more likely every day.

It's time for a reality check.

One Democrat Candidate Down

Margaret Carlson on Bill Richardson's appearance on Meet the Press was a barbacue.
On the Supreme Court, one debate ago, Richardson said his favorite Justice was Byron White. That was before it was pointed out to him that White wrote the dissenting opinion in Roe v. Wade. Since then, his new faves are Justices Earl Warren and Ruth Ginsburg.

Richardson stubbornly refused to end a fight with the mother of a fallen Marine. Russert produced an Associated Press story disputing an anecdote Richardson tells on the campaign trail. It's about a conversation he had with Lance Corporal Aaron Austin's mother, who thanks the governor for getting federal death benefits for survivors increased, brandishing the check she got.

Not only has Richardson fumbled the name and age of Austin in the retelling, the mother says there was no such exchange.

``I don't know a person rich or poor that would be told that her only living child has been killed, and you're going to strike up a money conversation?'' she said. ``Bill Richardson needs to stop pushing this lie. Aaron's name had better not be used again in any way. Not mine either. A full written apology is due me.''

An oral apology on Meet the Press would have gone a long way. Instead, Richardson insisted in three long, rambling answers that ``we have different recollections.''
And then there were the baseball lies.

Richardson's politics, however, might be explained best by this short news item at the Sante Fe New Mexican
N.M. food stamp rolls bursting — While the state celebrated the 30th anniversary of the modern-day food stamp program last week, it also marked the success of Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration in getting nearly 18,000 more people enrolled in this federal program for the poor. In 2003, 73,450 New Mexico families were on rolls. Today, the food stamp program helps 90,980 families buy groceries.
Is that bragging or complaining? Hard to tell as the rest of the article is behind a registration wall. But when even Bill Clinton was forced by public opinion to sign welfare reform, it doesn't seem like a winning strategy.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Party Hearty

If you want to know the real New Orleans, don't visit during Mardi Gras. Just read The Times Picayne daily and weep at the murder rate and the unsolved murder statistics. They're appalling.

FINDING: Prosecutors have successfully prosecuted just one of the 162 homicides committed last year, convicting a man of killing his lover. A second trial, also a more easily prosecuted domestic killing, ended in an acquittal.

FINDING: More than 80 percent of the 162 murder victims last year were black men.

FINDING: More than half of all victims were black men younger than 30, and 29 percent were teenagers. Only 10 white men, 4 Hispanics and 3 Asian men were victims. Women were 9 percent of the murder victims. Nine black women, three white women.

FINDING: All but five of the 58 suspects police arrested were black men.

FINDING: Overall, police have "cleared" 43 percent of last year's murders. Meaning someone was arrested. But that doesn't mean a trial and conviction. The DA's office only accepted 55% of the 42 cases brought from last year.

FINDING: Of the 162 homicides last year, 105 occurred on the street, on a front porch, in a car or otherwise in public view. Forty-eight of those homicides happened in broad daylight. Witnesses won't step forward.

Read the whole thing. And you wonder why Ray Nagin is elected again and again? It's a culture of corruption, connivance and decay. The best thing we could do is sell it back to the French, but I doubt even they would take it.

An online newspaper worth looking at

If you want to see an example of newspaper coverage that would be worth paying money to read online, the Appleton Post-Crescent (Wisconsin) has it in their coverage of the trial of Steven Avery.

Take the story of a man released after being exonerated by DNA for a previous crime who was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Steven Avery was convicted of killing a freelance photographer in 2005, two years after he was released.

Scroll down on the right for links. I hate to say it, but the Gannett paper is excellent.