United States Department of Justice goes after optical drive companies

Posted on October 27th, 2009 by bile
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http://online.wsj.com/…

Japanese technology giants Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. said Tuesday that, like Sony Corp., their optical disk drive operations in the U.S. received subpoenas from the U.S. Department of Justice in a widening investigation into potential antitrust violations.

According to a person familiar with the inquiry, the Justice Department started a criminal antitrust probe into the market for optical disk drives in recent months, investigating disk-drive makers for possible price-fixing, bid-rigging and allocation of markets. Optical disk drives are used in everyday consumer products like DVD and Blu-ray disk players, as well as in personal computers.

The investigation comes on the heels of a successful Justice Department investigation into price-fixing in the market for liquid crystal displays used in computers, cell phones and televisions.

That probe snared five companies that paid more than $600 million in combined criminal fines in 2008 and 2009.

That’s $600m+ that customers and investors will get to eat in this indirect taxation. The companies here, even if they were colluding to keep prices up, did nothing wrong. The drives are theirs. They can charge whatever the hell they like for them. If you don’t think it’s a good trade… don’t make it. The only way they are able to keep such a cartel going for an extended period of time is due to government intervention in the first place in the form of intellectual property monopoly privileges and all the perks provided to corporations which limit competition.

And how is a cartel much different from a worker’s union? They join together to increase bargaining power with employers in order to raise the collective compensation for their product… labor. This alleged cartel is made up of multiple businesses joined together to increase their bargaining power with the consumer in order to raise the collective compensation for their product… a optical drive.

In a freer market just about any cartel of size would quickly fall apart due to the overwhelming incentives offered to those who would lower prices. In all the well known supposed anti-trust situations throughout US history the market broke the near monopolies and cartels long before the government got involved. In fact often it was the trusts that supported the regulations ultimately because it reduced competition and created government backed cartels. Railroads, oil, electricity, telephone, banking… all made cartels by the government.

2008 American Community Survey Questionnaire

Posted on May 30th, 2008 by bile
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2008 ACS Questionnaire – English |  Spanish

Persons

  1. Name
  2. Relation to first person surveyed
  3. Sex
  4. Age, Birthday
  5. Of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?
  6. Race
  7. Place of birth?
  8. Citizen?
  9. Year came to USA?
  10. Attended school/college in past 3 months? Grade?
  11. Highest level completed?
  12. Ethnic origin?
  13. Speak a language other than English?
  14. Live in home 1 year ago?
  15. Covered by health insurance?
  16. Deaf?
  17. Difficulty remembering/making decisions? Walking, claiming stairs? Dressing or bathing?
  18. Because of physical, mental, emotional condition have difficulty doing errands?
  19. Marital status?
  20. Past year got married, widowed, divorced?
  21. Number of times married?
  22. Year last married?
  23. If female, given birth in past year?
  24. Any grandchildren under 18 in home?
  25. Been on active duty in military?
  26. When?
  27. Have a VA service-connected disability rating?
  28. Paid for work in past week?
  29. Where did they work?
  30. How do they get to work?
  31. How many people ride to work?
  32. What time do they leave for work?
  33. How long to get to work?
  34. Were they laid off from work last week?
  35. Last 4 weeks, looking for work?
  36. Last week, could have started if offered?
  37. When last worked?
  38. Past year, work 50 or more weeks?
  39. Past year, how many hours per week?
  40. Private employee? Government employee?
  41. Employer?
  42. Business type?
  43. Category?
  44. Job work type?
  45. Most important duties?
  46. Income earned in past year broken down
  47. Total income in past year

Housing

  1. Building description
  2. When was it built
  3. When did you move into the building
  4. How many acres
  5. Sales of agricultural products from property in past year
  6. Is there a business on the property?
  7. How many separate rooms in the building, bedrooms?
  8. Does it have: hot/cold running water, flush toilet, sink with faucet, stove, refrigerator, telephone?
  9. How many automobiles?
  10. Most used fuel for heating?
  11. Cost of electricity,gas last month? water/sewer, heating fuel in past year?
  12. In past year did anyone receive food stamps?
  13. Building part of a condominium?
  14. Is the building owned, rented?
  15. Whats the monthly rent?
  16. What would it sell for now?
  17. Annual real estate taxes?
  18. Annual payment for fire, hazard, flood insurance?
  19. Have a mortgage, deed of trust, contract to purchase, or other debt on this property? What’s the monthly payment?
  20. Do you have a second mortage or home equity lone on this property?
  21. Total annual costs for property taxes, rent, fees?

Will Jesse Ventura run for president?

Posted on March 18th, 2008 by bile
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http://www.examiner.com/…

To hear Jesse Ventura tell it, he’s either out to become president or an expatriate.

In the opening to his fourth book, due out April 1, the former wrestler and governor of Minnesota writes: “As I begin to write this book, I’m facing probably the most monumental decision of my 56 years on this planet. Will I run for president of the United States, as an independent, in 2008? Or will I stay as far away from the fray as possible, in a place with no electricity, on a remote beach in Mexico?”

Throughout the book, called “Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!,” Ventura seems to go back and forth on the question, pro and con:

Pro: “My outrage knows few bounds. … I can’t live with this apathy. I can’t tell myself it’s not happening.”

Con: “Psychologically, I need to break away from the United States. I also felt it was time in my life to go on an adventure. … And I found that, even in the 21st century, you can still be something of a Kit Carson,” the renowned 19th-century frontiersman.

Pro: He details a conversation he had in Mexico with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about running together on an independent, third-party ticket.

Con: His wife, Terry, says she refuses to be first lady of anything again.

Pro: WWE Wrestling Chairman Vince McMahon told Ventura he’d back his bid “100 percent, with everything I’ve got.”

Con: The epilogue of the book imagines eight months of 2008 headlines, as Ventura decides to run on a “WWE independent ticket.” Ventura envisions “shoving McMahon off to the side” and announcing his candidacy before 70,000 fans at the 24th annual WrestleMania. Which must mean he can’t be serious.

I’ve heard people talking about this for at least a month but obviously it’s been far longer. I don’t know if it’d be worth it for him to run. I’m all for more people running but I don’t think he has the kind of name recognition such as Arnold Schwarzenegger did when he ran for California governor which could give him the initial boost he’d need. He’s also not known enough to get a spot on stage with the main party candidates during a debate. And he’d have a difficult time getting on ballots unless he got the LP or GP nomination.

Cuba gone wild

Posted on March 13th, 2008 by bile
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http://www.reuters.com/…

Communist Cuba has authorized the unrestricted sale of computers and DVD and video players in the first sign that President Raul Castro is moving to improve Cubans’ access to consumer goods.An internal government memo seen by Reuters on Thursday said the appliances long desired by Cubans can go on sale immediately, although air conditioners will not be available until next year and toasters until 2010 due to limited power supplies.

Only foreigners and companies can buy computers in Cuba at present, while DVD players were seized at the airport until last year, when customs rules were eased.

Now Cubans will be able to buy them freely, paying for them in hard currency CUCs, or convertible pesos, worth 24 times more than the Cuban pesos state wages are paid in.

“Based on the improved availability of electricity, the government at the highest level has approved the sale of some equipment which was prohibited,” the memo said.

It listed 19-inch (48-cm) and 24-inch (61-cm) television sets, electric pressure cookers and rice cookers, electric bicycles, car alarms and microwaves.Cubans were delighted with the prospect of being able to buy items such as microwave ovens and air conditioners that were previously only available as stolen goods on the black market.

Shop attendants in central Havana had not heard about the measure but said there was great demand for the items.

“That’s great. I hope this is the necessary start along a new path,” said second-hand clothes vendor Maritza Hernandez, eager to see further reforms to Cuba’s command economy.

Many Cubans expect the state to soon allow them to buy cellular telephones. While they will now be able to buy computers, access to the Internet remains controlled by the government.

Toasters in 2010 huh? Welcome back… to the 20th century. Too bad it’s only because of help from Venezuela.

They don’t have toasters or electricity but at least they have “free” healthcare.

Quest for Freedom by Elaine Brown

Posted on October 3rd, 2007 by bile
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http://www.keenefreepress.com/…

By Elaine Brown

Where do we stand today in our country in the matter of freedom? Do we even know what freedom is today? The founders of our country knew, but it took them a couple of years to realize it.

After escaping from Britain and the rules of the king, it took those brave pilgrims some time to fully realize and be able to appreciate the fact that they had no one to whom to answer, save their own conscience and common law (common sense). What joy to know this kind of liberty, which they had never before experienced. They could now conduct themselves as freely as they wished, as long as they honored their contracts and did no harm to another. This is the total of common law; this is the law by which the people, the sovereigns, of this country are to abide, the law we were intended to obey.

Read More…

Random bill roundup

Posted on June 22nd, 2007 by bile
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