things you won’t read about in the MSM

Update: June 17 2009:

From the comments – good catch Gordo.  At least the National Post has a Bloomsbury item on this non-news event.


Update: June 16 2009:

This is very significant news, because, as Michael Barnett writes in an email, one of the following must be true:

1. The Japanese are trying to secretly divest themselves of about 25% of their US debt. (They own about $600B in US debt.)

2. The Japanese are acting as Chinese or North Korean agents in trying to help them divest themselves of US debt in secret.

3. There is an enormous sum of counterfeit US debt out there and these guys are trying to sell some of it.

None of these cases bodes well for the US debt market.


June 14 2009:

So, apparently two Japanese nationals were apprehended at the Italian / Swiss border carrying $134 Billion in US Treasury bearer bonds.   

1 3 4 Billion….Kind of blows the doors off the tired customs dude asking whether you are carrying $10K doesn’t it? 

At any rate, you might think that two people carrying the equivalent of 1/4 of the entire Canadian debt might rate a front page mention in more than a couple of our intrepid journals, and yet – mysteriously quiet.  [sound of crickets].   For instance, if you or I were to have in our possession the equivalent to the entire GDP of several african nations, and we were caught at a border with it, maybe the local, nay the international press might be interested.  If they’re fake it’s a story.  If the bearer bonds are real, its also a story!  

Go here to read some analysis… Its weird, but then again….

yet another ‘industry’ ripe for an OBailout

Its a good news bad news sort of story – of free spending big labour suddenly falling on hard times following substantial spending during the 2008 US presidential elections.  Coincidentally the new administration slashes funding to the very department charged with enforcing disclosure of union election spending.   

The WSJ carries a story today [print edition – europe]  about the hard times which have befallen two large Union organisations, the SEIU and AFL-CIO.  According to the story, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) ..”spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama“, but sadly have found themselves indebted to the tune of $2.3mil.  Meanwhile the AFL-CIO carries liabilities ‘equal to more than 80% of its $189mil (!) in assets. 

I tried to hold back the tears, but was laughing too hard.

around the world – part 38.3 (white knuckle bus tour – or channelling your inner dictator)

June 09 2009:

Forcing the Plebes to the side of the road

Forcing the Plebes to the side of the road

There is nothing quite like being escorted at breakneck speed along narrow winding mountain roads in a motor coach with police cars forcing the plebes off to the side of the road.   With lights flashing, paddle waving and horns blaring our escort emphatically signalled to the unlucky montenegrins that  a bus load of somewhat important persons was hammering down on them and that any time – NOW! – would be a good time to get off the road.     That might sound just a titch unsympathetic and just a bit aristocratic, but really who wouldn’t enjoy this?  The locals I suppose.

Of course, nature being in balance and all that, action counteraction etc etc, it does get a little dicey when the local cement truck decides to challenge the right of way being implemented by the local gendarmes.  Bit of toss up who would have won that, but I would have given it to the cement truck on points. 

But then again no risk, no reward right?

Admit it.  You know that in the darkest corner of your hearts you harbour a longing for an unimpeded route, swept along at high speed with countless locals figuratively bowing before your presence.  It awakens the inner dictator in all of us.

around the world – part 38.1 (syldavia)

June 08 2009:

Ruined Castle near Budva

Ruined Castle near Budva

Syldavia,  a land of barren hills hard by the adriatic – stark and beautiful and sometimes known as Montenegro (although I suspect that Herge might have had Albania in mind) is the scene of my latest wanderings.  I arrived here on Monday the 8th and will depart three days later having barely scraped the surface of this harsh country. In Herge’s imagination, Montenegro, Albania, in fact anywhere in the Balkans was fantastically ‘other’ in a here there be dragons sort of way. I don’t blame him. It is a country that demands your attention – blistering hot in the summer, rocky, stubble covered hills and breath taking beaches and seascapes. The women are all six feet tall, gorgeous and serious. The men, short, fat and attached to the end of a cigarette. Go figure.

Word to the wise: Montenegro Airlines is where old airliners go to die. I flew in from Vienna on a Fokker 100 – about 1000 years old yet piloted by young lads desparate to impress the stunning stewardesses (“shining like a newly minted penny” to quote the corgi). Mind you it is a bit of toss up whether one might want a new and well maintained aircraft adorned with ancient battleaxes schlepping gruel onto your tray (see Air Canada), or the crap shoot of an ancient aircraft populated with amazons –  providing that frisson of interest as one simultaneously contemplates the idea of breaking apart at 25000 feet yet accompanied by some of the best looking women one will ever meet whilst flying. 

To add even more excitement;  the pilots got in on the act as apparently, even a jet liner held together with duct tape can be made to simulate a fighter jet – our hard spine compressing landing was embellished with a couple of good hard tarmac bounces thrown in for good measure, no doubt leaving a few rivets on the runway.  So there I was in in Podgorica (bet you never thought I would wind up there!) happily confronted with the decison to immediately board the motor coach or settle in for a few pints while waiting for the attendees from later flights.  Points to those who guess how many beer I had.

around canada – part 4 (montobello quebec)

June 02 2009:

Chateau Montebello

Chateau Montebello

And so I find myself at Chateau Montebello Quebec -should you ever find yourself contemplating a weekend sequestered away from the distractions of Ottawa or Montreal – do consider this very pleasant retreat. 

The promotional material offered by the Hotel website does not do justice to the resort.  The entire experience, in my view, has been well calculated to inspire maximum relaxation.

How to get there

By Car – 401 east towards Montreal.  At exit 721 take Hwy 416 towards Ottawa.  Enter Ottawa and join the 417 east towards Montreal.  Exit at PineGlenn and head north towards Carling Avenue.   Join the Ottawa River Parkway from Carling and take the Island Park Drive bridge towards Aylmer Quebec – follow signs for highway 50 east towards Montreal.  Leave 50 at Thurso and take Quebec Highway 317 south and then join 148 east towards Montreal. Through Pleasance and Papineauville, to Montebello.  Look for the signs for Chateau Montebello as soon as you enter the town.

famous last words….

 …”Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says he’s confident General Motors Corp. will turn its financial troubles around and pay the province back billions of dollars that were given to the company to ensure the success of its restructuring plan.  “We’ve really pushed them up against the wall in terms of the conditions we’ve exacted,” he told a scrum of reporters at Queen’s Park“….

So this would be after GM somehow obtains profits from a new stable of small cars (which have historically had razor thin profit margins) whilst simultaneously attempting to meet politically motivated environmental policies handed down from the white house and protecting CAW jobs and benefits?    I wait with bated breath…..

Nothing to see here folks – move along, move along….