“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chinese Solution for Dealing with Errant CEO's

Former chairman of Chinese company sentenced to death

By V. Phani Kumar
Feb. 10, 2009

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- A Chinese court has handed a death sentence to Li Peiying, a former chairman of Capital Airports Holding Co., for bribery and embezzlement of more than 100 million yuan ($14.6 million), according to a state media report. Li was given the sentence by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Shandong province in eastern China, after he was found guilty of seeking or accepting bribes for 26.61 million yuan while he was in office from 1995 to 2003, Xinhua reported. Li also misappropriated 82.5 million yuan from 2000 to 2003, according to the court, the report added


  1. I am getting more and more emails from chinese companies seeking to sell us their food products...

    At the same time, I am CHOOSING not to use food products from china when ever possible (we have maybe 4 items out of 1200 that are china made)

    The emails are getting pesky, one even asking why I dont respond to their requests to do business!

    The chinese may be able to mass produce at cheap prices (let's not fully value the yuan so as to make their exports artificially cheap) and cheap they are...

    Many products may be just fine, but china has tarnished it's international image due to it's lead paint issues, dog food, mineral as "fake" protein Issues and generally unsafe food standards....

    Look for many more scape goats to be executed in china for crimes against the state....

  2. Similar, emails, faxes, IM's and cell calls. I would not touch a food product from China.

  3. I used to love a shrimp salad. I used to buy the kind that said "produced in Louisiana", in the can.

    I don't know if it was really any better or not, maybe it wasn't, but I can't find it anymore, everything is "produced in Vietnam" or some other southeast Asian place.

    Haven't had a shrimp salad for a long time.

  4. Now, I'll grant that Jeff Cox is not Chris Matthews and that CNBC is not, exactly, MSNBC ...
    ... but truth is in the air.

    Five Reasons the Markets Don't Like the Bank Bailout

    By: Jeff Cox,
    10 Feb 2009

    Street's message to the Obama administration was clear Tuesday, even if the plan to save the banking industry wasn't.

    "Zero has changed,"

    said Michael Cohn, chief market strategist at Atlantis Asset Management in New York. "Everyone knew everything except the issue with doing something positive for small business. There's no clarity on whether they can repeal the mark-to-market (accounting rules). I don't know how they're going to do it."

    ... "What gives you, the retail investors, hope is when you start to see the hedge funds go back into equities, institutional buying into equities, that pushes the market up for two or three days."

    A change in the news cycle away from the negativity of the White House's fumbling of the bank rescue announcement would help make that happen.

    "Professional investors would much rather see an organic move in the market, meaning it's not induced by any move from Washington but rather by a company saying revenue looks better than expected, that orders have picked up," Krosby says. "Or they begin to see the news, the macroeconomic data are stabilizing, that's what moves the market ultimately."

    "Slowly but surely this thing is going to get better," Cohn adds.

    "It's just really slow. Until the bad news stops, you're not going to change the world's perception."

    Until the bad news stops

    That's the kind of wisdom a fellow needs to make the 'Big Money' as a expert for a General Electric subsidiary?

    wo"o", I had a similar experience with saddle makers, in India. At the end of the day, it just was not worth the hassle to deal with them. Same went for computer programing and software developed in Singapore. The time differences made communication, in real time, impossible. Again, not worth the effort. Similar solutions were found, eventually, in America.

  5. The guys that fish for steelhead here use the big raw unpeeled fresh shrimp for bait.

    Since it doesn't come in a can, I don't know where it comes from.

  6. Whatever happened to that Italian Tuna in oil?

  7. Taliban targets the heart of Kabul
    Synchronized suicide attacks claim at least 19 on the eve of the scheduled arrival of Obama's new envoy to the region.

  8. The Alaskan salmon at Costco is great, but you have to be Rockyfeller to buy four cans.

  9. Do you have a Costco over there, al-Doug?

  10. 19 Killed in Suicide Attacks on Government Sites in Kabul
    The attacks displayed the apparent ease with which Taliban insurgents can breach the defenses of the heavily-fortified capital.

  11. Even MAUREEN DOWD is jumping off the Obama's messianic bandwagon of Hope & Change.

    So much for the savior-based economy.

    Tim Geithner, the learned and laconic civil servant and financial engineer, did not sweep in and infuse our shaky psyches with confidence. For starters, the 47-year-old’s voice kept cracking.

    Escorting us over the rickety, foggy bridge from TARP to Son of TARP by way of TALF — don’t ask — Geithner did not, as the president said when he drew on the wisdom of Fred Astaire, inspire us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.

    The Obama crowd is hung up on the same issues that the Bush crew was hung up on last September: Which of the potentially $2 or $3 trillion in toxic assets will the taxpayers buy and what will we pay for them?

    Despite the touting, the Treasury chief unveiled a plan short on illumination, recrimination, fine points and foreclosure closure. The Dow collapsed on its fainting couch as Sports Illustrated swimsuit models rang the closing bell.

  12. I don't talk to Real Estate Tycoons that are too cheap to buy a $1.30 can of Salmon!

  13. For the rest of the Bar, tho,
    ...and as a service to the hoi polloi masses, yes.

  14. There’s a weaselly feel to the plan, a sense that tough decisions were postponed even as President Obama warns about our “perfect storm of financial problems.” The outrage is going only one way, as we pony up trillion after trillion.

    Geithner is coddling the banks, setting it up so that either we’ll have to pay the banks inflated prices for poison assets or subsidize investors to pay the banks for poison assets.

    As Steve Labaton and Ed Andrews wrote in The Times on Tuesday, Geithner won an internal battle with David Axelrod and other Obama aides who wanted to impose pay caps on every employee at institutions taking the bailout and set stricter guidelines on how federal money is spent. Geithner prevailed over those who wanted to kick out negligent bank executives and wipe out shareholders at institutions receiving aid.

    In a move that would have made his mentor, Robert Rubin, proud, Geithner beat back the populists and protected the economic royalists.

  15. Farmed Salmon is one food my wife and I will never eat again after trying it once.
    They call that fish?
    Shit tastes like it was fed waste from Chi-Com Slaughter houses.

  16. Wonder what type of Derangement Syndrom it will be claimed that Ms Dowd suffers from, now?

  17. I'd call for you-know-what for Geithner if it would not be cause for a visit by the SS.

  18. Well you can talk to MaryJaneButters then, woman from our area that exports lentils, saying they are organically raised, which they're not, she gets them from the old Genesee Union Warehouse, and they get a lot of them from my friend Wayne. She's never raised a lentil in her life, but she did write a book that made her a million.

    We farmers are dumb, and haven't figured out marketing.

    She's always protesting about this and that, too.

  19. Post Messiah Hysterical Derangement Syndrome.

  20. It was my wife that shook her head NO, I was ready to buy a case!

  21. Yowee,
    Good Nite.

    (take off on al-Bobs grrr sign off)

  22. Who drives the shopping cart for crissakes?

  23. You mean the IRS, doug, do you not?

    I see more and more folk beating a hasty retreat, hunkering down on the farm.

    Then there are those that are trying to expand business in the face of the depression gripping AZ. Even that though, is linked to the boondoggie of the $1.4 bn USD various governmental bodies spent on the Metro light rail system.

    While at our annual used car auction, $63 million was spent on classic cars, in 7 days.
    Barrett-Jackson, the auction house, has sold $90 million worth of used cars in the last 4 months, with another big sale coming to Palm Beach FL, in April.

    So things are not totally frozen.

  24. Once you decide to be a farmer, exercise happens naturally. You stretch when you must, hale that bale, bend, lift, and pull.

    O ha ha I'm going back to bed....

  25. Never raised a lentil in her life.

  26. no matter how deep the snow or mucky the mud

    ol' al-bob will come through, with his Steiger BearCat II!

  27. But she became the Lentil Queen.

    Her perception of reality a tad different than yours, bob.

    Portraying herself as an organic farmer, when a specialty trader is what she be. But the 'organic farmer' storyline protrays an image of self-insured quality. It is the Lentil Queens' integrity as a quality lentil provider that they are buying, not the methane producing product of dirt farming, itself. Because, as we all know, deep in our souls, bobal, a lentil is a lentil is a lentil.

    Pass the beano, please.

  28. For farm kitchen exercise, give your body what it wants—exercise that feeds you.

    Remember that, al-Doug!

  29. She's got more money than I do, Rat, that says something.

  30. What it says is I don't have a clue how to market my old product, but she does, for sure.


    Trade deficit drops to $39.9B; lowest in 6 years

  32. So things are not totally frozen.

    Except for people's mentality. Poverty of imagination, Kunstler called it. Or maybe not. There is some green consciousness seeping thru, Kunstler being the evidence of. But not in Washington.

  33. Struggling oil prices failed to find a bottom Tuesday, falling back below $38 US a barrel for the first time since January and taking the share prices of Calgary oil producers down with it.
    Benchmark light crude fell $2.01 in New York to settle at $37.55 a barrel, the lowest closing price since Jan. 20. That dragged the resource-heavy Toronto Stock Ex-change down almost 300 points before recovering to 817.89,about 229 points lower on the day.

  34. Wal-Mart cutting 700-800 jobs at headquarters

    AP Business Writer – Tue Feb 10

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will cut 700 to 800 jobs at its northwestern Arkansas headquarters as it builds fewer new stores this year and makes other operational changes, the world's largest retailer announced Tuesday.

    The cuts are in Wal-Mart's real estate, apparel and health and wellness departments, spokesman David Tovar said. Wal-Mart would not say how many jobs will be cut in each segment.

    Tovar said employees will be told of the cuts in the next couple of weeks and there was no immediate plan to make other positions within Wal-Mart available to them.
    Last year, Wal-Mart opened 166 new stores, but this year that number will be between 125 and 140 — leading to the cuts in the real estate unit.

    "Obviously, we don't need as many people to do the work to site a new store, to build a new store," Tovar said. But since Wal-Mart is expanding its program to renovate and expand stores, it will hire more workers in that area, he said.

    Tovar said Wal-Mart added 33,800 jobs last year from new stores. "We expect growth in the tens of thousands this year as well," he said. Worldwide, it has more than 2 million employees, and 14,000 work at the headquarters.

  35. Sales Fall Sharply for Retailers Not Named Wal-Mart
    January is always a slow period for stores, but nowadays big-box retailers and luxury chains are contending with paltry sales trends and profit margins that have been hurt by excessive discounting to attract consumers. Stores with weak balance sheets “are not going to make it through the summer,” said Claire Gruppo, managing director of Gruppo, Levey & Company, a New York investment bank.

    On Thursday, Fortunoff, the nearly 90-year-old upscale home furnishings and jewelry chain, became the latest retailer to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

    Several chains that reported sales figures on Thursday beat low expectations, but most still turned in double-digit declines. Analysts were not surprised. As they had expected, the most successful stores were the ones selling quality and name-brand essentials at low prices.

    “When there’s a need for product, whether that’s food, consumables, kid’s apparel — nondiscretionary items at a value and at a convenience — then the consumer is shopping,” said Matthew F. Katz, a managing director in the retailing practice of AlixPartners, a reorganization firm.

    Wal-Mart, for instance, exceeded expectations. The retailer posted a 2.1 percent increase, not including fuel, at stores open at least a year, a barometer of retail health known as same-store sales.

    “Our sales results were driven by a continuation of gains in customer traffic,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman of Wal-Mart.

  36. Green-Light Specials, Now at Wal-Mart

    “Tell me why I should care about an endangered mouse in Arizona?” asked H. Lee Scott Jr., the retail giant’s chief executive, only partly in jest.

    At the time, Wal-Mart was the target of a well-orchestrated assault focusing on its labor practices and environmental record. It was also straining to keep its legendary growth on track. Mr. Scott, hungry for ways to protect and transform his company, began to see environmental sustainability as a way to achieve two goals: improve Wal-Mart’s bottom line and its reputation.

    So he presented his colleagues with a radical option — the “choice” that gave the meeting its name — encouraging them to adopt a sustainability program to remake the entire company, from the materials used to build stores to the light bulbs stocked on its shelves. Although participants were conflicted, a vote on the initiative was unanimous: Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer and biggest buyer of manufactured goods, would go green.

    By virtue of its herculean size, Wal-Mart eventually dragged much of corporate America along with it, leading mighty suppliers like General Electric and Procter & Gamble to transform their own business practices.

    Under Mr. Scott, who is retiring this month at the age of 59, the company that democratized consumption in the United States — enabling working-class families to buy former luxuries like inexpensive flat-screen televisions, down comforters and porterhouse steaks — has begun to democratize environmental sustainability.


  37. Wal-Mart Mexico Inaugurates Largest Sun-Operated Photovoltaic Installation in Latin America

    Solar panels will generate 20% of the store's energy requirements for a full year


    1,056 solar panels were installed on the roof of Bodega Aurrera Aguascalientes

    140 tons of CO2 emissions will be eliminated

    Solar panels will generate 20% of the store's energy requirements for a full year

    AGUASCALIENTES, AGS. - January 19, 2009 - Wal-Mart Mexico successfully concluded the installation of a photovoltaic complex that will generate 20% of the energy used by Bodega Aurrera Aguascalientes. Over 1,056 solar panels that were set up on the roof of the store will transform sun energy into electricity. The project, with 174 kW installed, is the largest photovoltaic complex in Latin America, according to ANES (the Mexican Solar Energy Association), and will eliminate the emission of some 140 tons of CO2. ANES gave an award to Wal-Mart Mexico as recognition for this project.

    "This is the first large-scale project to generate energy using photovoltaic panels, not only for Wal-Mart Mexico, but for Wal-Mart International. This puts Mexico at the head of the energy field. The project reinforces our commitment to obtain all the energy the company requires from renewable sources by 2025", said Raul Arguelles, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs and People Division at Wal-Mart Mexico.

  38. The IBECing of Mexico continues apace. This report from 2005 is indicitive of the trend.

    The "Walmartization" of Mexico has had a significant effect on the country's small-scale agricultural producers.
    Fifty percent of Wal-Mart's Mexican sales are food, and the company accounts for 30 percent of all food sales in Mexican supermarkets,
    Biles said.

    Many local farmers can't meet the standards demanded by Wal-Mart for its food suppliers and have therefore been excluded from the new system of food retailing. He is studying the resulting transformation of supply networks in Mexico and the consequences of these changes for small-scale farmers.

    "Wal-Mart has used the same retail strategy in Mexico as it has in the United States," he said, referring to the company's "everyday low price" strategy. "Wal-Mart is not the cheapest place in Mexico to shop -- it's actually one of the most expensive -- and it doesn't have the most variety. It uses 'loss leaders' to attract people to its stores and then makes its money when shoppers buy other goods there as well."

    In Mexico, Wal-Mart has a reputation for quality and consistency, he said. "That's why Wal-Mart has been so successful there. Efficiency, consumer-oriented practices and customer service didn't exist in Mexican supermarkets before Wal-Mart."


    The sheer volume of Mexican trade involving Wal-Mart speaks for itself -- more than $15 billion in sales and 600 million consumer transactions in 2005, equivalent to about 2 percent of Mexico's gross domestic product. The effects of this transformation have been widespread, Biles said, but its benefits have not been shared equally.

    For example, linkages between supermarkets and domestic food producers have been weakened, reducing market opportunities for small-scale farmers.

    In addition, two-thirds of Mexico's population has less than 20 percent of the country's income, and large retailers often don't provide many of the goods that this large share of the population wants, he said. The result has been an explosion of activity in the informal economy, contrary to what might have been expected.

    In response, Wal-Mart has promoted its no-frills Aurrera supermarkets and established a new bank, Banco Adelante, to target consumers in low-income and working class neighborhoods throughout Mexico.

  39. it’s either the farmer who struggles to make a living competing with huge agri-business or the farm laborer who is exploited by that same megacorp

    Someone is always getting screwed, and in this redition of life and reality, it's me.

    Confessions Of A Healthy Eater

    Help your local farmer out, down with the HUGE AGRI BUSINESSES!

  40. What I realy think is, at this time together in our mega-life, we are really really dependent on mechanized agriculture, and that without it, millions will die.

    It's a good thing to have your own garden, though.

  41. Room rates in Laughlin were up 2.7 percent to $43.04. In Mesquite, rates fell 33 percent to $53.19.

    Las Vegas Is The Shits

  42. Room rates in Laughlin were up 2.7 percent to $43.04. In Mesquite, rates fell 33 percent to $53.19.

    I stayed in Laughlin in mid-Dec for under $15.00 plus tax. Nice room at the Colorado Belle. Lowest rate I've seen in years. It's a great way point on my trips to the Ozarks.

  43. When you're at $15 dollars a night, there's not much room to reduce prices any further.

  44. I remeber on some of the trips with my dad in the old days, he'd negotiate with the motel owner. Sometimes it worked, sometimes we'd drive all night.

  45. That's Lake Whatcom at Bellingham, Washington where my mom was born, before she moved to Seattle. Really a pretty lake, according to the wiki article has some pollution problems now, but I wouldn't have known it from driving by. Have an old photo of mom on a canoe floating around on Lake Whatcom. Lots of nice houses on the lake now, but on the eastern side it's still just shoreline. A state park, or something.

  46. "Tuna. In olive oil.

    It's hard to part with."

    The important question is not whether we will be in Afghanistan, in some capacity, a few years from now. That is obvious. The important question is whether we will be in Afghanistan in some capacity, 10 years from now.

    If you think that is an obvious question, you don't know what you're talking about.

  47. Better phrase, "has an obvious answer."

  48. Host, that cartoon says it ALL.

  49. Lee Scott

    I think having put so much effort into it, we'd be best off staying in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  50. My wife worked as a checker at Wal-Mart on and off for a few years, after she was worn out with working with the disabled for the state. The only real criticism, which is a big one, is they'd never get the hours per week up to the point where you'd get the medical coverage. Always 'part time' stuff. Also I learned their security is less than it seems.

  51. It's a big task, but I'm bound to do it, though it's going to take me a few days.

    I've been re-reading my Joseph Campbell, and came across a part about 'The Supernormal Image' in his book about our Primitive Philosophy.

    It kind of hit me tonight as to what a deep idea that is.

    He makes mention of a species of butterfly that mates with the darkest of its kind, and always goes for the very darkest.

    From this, he makes an argument, since there doesn't seem to be any real survival benefit in this behavior, to the idea that there is such a drive 'in the nature of things'--a pull from the 'front' or a 'push from hehind'--whatever you might call it--the idea being there is always something 'more'.

    Always something more built into the nature of things.

    I'll torment you folks with my report shortly.

  52. they'd never get the hours per week up to the point where you'd get the medical coverage

    These corporations should be sued for all they're worth. There's no excuse for this. And the Corruptocrats that allow this should be buried alive in an unmarked mass grave.

  53. Wal-Mart has been sued a lot, Mat, for just that kind of thing, though I don't know the result.

    I remember the wife getting something in the mail about a class action suit filed by a lawyer (female, Californian as I recall) concerning women in my wife's category.

    I urged her to go to the trouble of signing all the forms, and keeping up with it, but she didn't, and I don't know how it came out.

    Wal-Mart's got 'deep pockets', and is a target for lawyers.

    A real juicy target for lawyers.


    Wasn't Hillary Clinton on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart?

    That gal that says "it takes a village'?

  54. Just type in "Wal-Mart, Class Actions" you'll get a whole bunch of stuff.

  55. A real juicy target for lawyers.

    The problem is with the law makers that allow WalMart to get away with this kind of behavior. Laws get passed or don't get passed, precisely because WalMart and other such corporations have the Corruptocrats in their pocket.

  56. Talk it over with Hillary "It Takes A Village" Clinton.


    I think the laws are complex on this sort of stuff, and I'm not in a position to say. The law in Idaho for someone doing business in Idaho may be quite different than the law in California, or Michigan. Much less Canada, or Mexico.

    I jutst don't know.

  57. You're right though, the lobbyists are always lurking around the legislative chambers.

  58. Bob, this isn't a mom and pop operation. This is a multi billion dollar multinational corporation. And yet the majority of its employees are part time!? This is criminal behavior. And these corporations should be put out of business.

  59. "A $550 BILLION ELECTRONIC RUN ON THE BANKS" (This Economic Meltdown Was Engineered, Folks!]

    h/t: Charles via BC

  60. 'Toxic' EU bank assets total £16.3 trillion

    Source: Telegraph

    It is not surprising that European Union finance ministers looked ashen faced in Brussels on Tuesday.

    The breakfast meeting discussed how EU governments should deal with, in other words pay for, the "toxic" banking assets that triggered the economic crisis.

    The figures, contained in a secret European Commission paper, are startling. The dodgy financial packages are estimated to total £16.3 trillion in banks across the EU.

    The "impaired assets" may amount to an astonishing 44 per cent of EU bank balance sheets. It is a deep ditch the bankers, regulators and their friends in government have dug us into.


  61. You've got some good points there, Mat, I really can't disagree, and don't.

  62. Mat, I really can't disagree, and don't.

    Where's Geoffgo? :)

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