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Signs of the Times for Thu, 30 Mar 2006

AP Economics Writer
March 30, 2006
WASHINGTON - The economy hit a soft patch in the final quarter of 2005, growing at an annual rate of just 1.7 percent, an ominous statistic but for fresher readings that suggest America's business health has improved and is mostly sound.

While the latest figure for gross domestic product in the October-to-December period was indeed anemic and marked the worst performance in three years, the new reading actually turned out to be slightly better than the 1.6 percent growth rate estimated a month ago, according to the Commerce Department's report released Thursday.

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Comment: Well, golly! As long as the economy continues to beat analysts expectations, we have nothing to worry about - right?

By Zach Howard
March 29, 2006
NEW YORK - The price of silver shot to a 22-year high above $11 per ounce on Wednesday, as funds continued a recent buying spree on excitement over a proposed U.S. silver-backed security, trading sources said.

Gold raced to a seven-week peak on spillover interest from silver and other supportive factors, with the price holding just shy of last month's 25 year peak near $575 an ounce.

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By Jennifer Coogan
Wed Mar 29, 4:44 PM ET
NEW YORK - U.S. stocks staged a broad rebound on Wednesday, with gains in Google Inc. and Apple Computer Inc. leading a rally in tech shares that drove the Nasdaq to a five-year high.

All major industry sectors rose on the day. Blue chips got a lift from Boeing Co., which received a $2 billion jet order, and from a brokerage upgrade of manufacturer 3M Co. Boeing's shares glided to a record during the day.

Wednesday's gains helped the market recover from losses that came after the Fed voted to increase interest rates and hinted more may be needed to stem inflation.

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March 29, 2006
By Michael McDonald and Elizabeth Stanton
Bloomberg News
NEW YORK Prices on U.S. Treasury notes plunged on Tuesday after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the 15th straight time and signaled that further increases lay ahead.

Fed policy makers lifted their target rate, as economists had forecast, by a quarter-percentage point to 4.75 percent, the highest since March 2001.

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March 28 2006
General Motors Corp., struggling with $10.6 billion in losses last year, started firing hundreds of its U.S. salaried employees at about 30 U.S. locations, part of a North American restructuring plan.

Today's firings are the first of cuts that will continue throughout the year and are part of GM's plan to reduce its U.S. salaried and contract workforce by about 7 percent this year, GM spokesman Robert Herta said. The firings will include employees in most areas of the company and the workers will get severance payments and outplacement assistance, he said.

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by Thom Hartmann
Conservatives are all atwitter about illegal immigrants. Some want to give them amnesty. Others want to reinstitute the old Bracero program. Others want to build a wall around America, like the communists did around East Berlin. Some advocate all of the above.

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by thepen
March 29, 2006

Why does George Bush feel he can just laugh off the laws passed by Congress and even the Constitution itself? He did it AGAIN by attaching a so-called signing statement to the renewal of the Patriot Act, reserving the right to DISREGARD even the minimal reporting requirements that Congress had the temerity to impose. Who is going to challenge him? He's not just laughing at the legislature. If you do not speak out now, he is laughing at YOU.

He is laughing at you because you complain about the fact that nobody in Congress has any backbone, and yet when someone DOES stand up you do nothing to speak out and support them, and to encourage others to do the same. He is laughing at you because a million mostly NON-citizens got off their butts over the weekend and killed HR 4437 in the Judiciary Committee literally overnight, the same Judiciary Committee that will be considering his censure this very Friday. And yet most of you continue to do nothing. Yes, George Bush is laughing at you.

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By Lisa Lambert
Thu Mar 30, 2006 08:17 AM ET
WASHINGTON - Americans are nearly as worried about their country's dependence on foreign energy sources as they are about the war in Iraq, a poll released by the magazine Foreign Affairs showed on Thursday.

Almost half of the 1,000 Americans surveyed for the Public Agenda Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index gave U.S. policymakers a failing grade in weaning the country from foreign oil.

Nearly 90 percent said the lack of energy independence jeopardizes national security.

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Associated Press
Tue Mar 28, 9:33 PM ET
WASHINGTON - The city of New Orleans has only 456 staffed hospital beds, compared with 2,269 before the city was struck by Hurricane Katrina, according to government auditors who say rebuilding the health care system will be vital for bringing people back.

While emergency care is available, auditors noted that patients at two hospitals waited up to two hours to be unloaded from ambulances. They also found patients being kept and treated in the emergency room because beds weren't available elsewhere.

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Michael Pascoe
Translated by Johnno
29 March 2006
The big and successful private property investors are cottoning on [becoming divestors]...

It's the job of the RBA to talk common sense and warn of disasters in the hope the Martin Place [Sydney's equivalent to Wall Street] mandarins scare some of the populace into avoiding irrational exuberance. They were at it again yesterday in warning financial markets of their myopia in pricing risk during this long, golden summer of investment.

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Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva Monday castigated the wealthy and technologically advanced countries of the world for failing to live up to their responsibility in tackling poverty and environmental degradation on the planet.

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