20 companies that collapsed in 2010


And To All a Good Night –  At this time of year, who can fail to understand the wish to forget all the woes and fiascos of our time, and to retreat into the cozy firelit nooks of Christmas, where a pint or so of grog, or egg-nog, or even seven fingers of Williams ‘Lectric Shave in an empty jam jar might avail to wash away the frightening specters of debts, and banks, and, trade imbalances, and countries with economies composed mostly of losses?  For now, America is a rug stretching from Maine to California, under which we’ve swept the filthy detritus of money matters and governance. It worked most of the year, though the rug has grown as lumpy as a landfill. Nothing is more important for the moment than provoking millions of people with no means for carrying their current obligations to ply the malls in search of Christmas merchandise, so the little ones will not be disappointed on the Great Day. Who could fail to understand this, too, since the sorrows of children only magnify the failures of the adults who love and fear for them.   President Obama’s tax deal with the corn-and-pork-fed mental defectives of the Red States has been spun into an historic act of political ju-jitsu – a sharp trade to great advantage for the slick city operator against the avaricious rubes – but to me it was just another act of Santa Claus Theater. You have to love the conceit that all this fuss about money is finally settled.  So we can settle back in the raptures of flat screen high-def 3-D TV and imagine that we’re like the characters in Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life – which, by the way, in case you never noticed, is a story about a banker who gets into big trouble financing the first larval manifestations of suburban sprawl. If only Frank Capra had lived to see the Federal Reserve’s Maiden Lane portfolio, a sack of shit so monumental it would make the fabled swag-bag of Kris Kringle himself look like the descending colon of a pygmy marmoset.
Federal Government Cuts Off Recession Relief Money To States – Despite soaring unemployment and the 19 million Americans currently living in "deep poverty," federal funds for the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) program have entirely dried up for the first time since 1996, leaving states with an average of 15 percent less federal funding for the coming year to help an ever-increasing number of needy families.  TANF, the federal program that replaced welfare under the Clinton Administration, provides a lifeline for families and workers who have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits. According to a new report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, "more homeless families will go without shelter, fewer low-wage workers will receive help with child care expenses, and fewer families involved with the child welfare system will receive preventive services" now that Congress has passed legislation that will end funding for the TANF Contingency Fund in 2011. Congress also failed to reauthorize an emergency fund for a subsidized job program on September 30 that would have allowed states to provide emergency help to needy families and place low-income people in subsidized jobs.

 Tech Talk: When oil isn’t crude and gas isn’t gas, the Eagle Ford Shale play – There are two figures that keep cropping up when folk write about the production of oil, one number is the daily flow rate for crude oil, and while the EIA report that the peak production year to date was in 2005, when the world produced 73.72 mbd, the IEA have reported that the peak occurred in 2006. Yet just last week the IEA raised their forecast for next year’s oil demand to 88.8 mbd and there is about 15 mbd difference between the two numbers. So you might ask what causes this, where do these additional liquids come from and what is their future, relative to that of crude alone.  Part of the answer comes from what are known as refinery gains, the fact that when you crack a high-carbon crude into lower carbon products in a refinery then there is a gain in volume. In Oil 101 Morgan gives this processing gain in volume to be around 2.2 mbd. In addition there is the rising level of bio-fuel production, about 900,000 bd of ethanol in the US alone, for example. But the largest volume comes from the liquids associated with the production of natural gas.  These are collectively described as Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) and condensate.

Dreaming of a trashy Christmas – In the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, American households generate 25% more waste. That’s about 1 million extra tons of trash each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That includes everything from food to wrapping paper, holiday decorations, packaging, and old cellphones and laptops that are unceremoniously dumped as soon as the latest models emerge from under the Christmas tree. "The holiday season is especially important for us because all of the festivities, gift giving and traveling does create a lot more waste than at other times of the year," said Jennifer Berry, spokeswoman with Scottsdale, Arizona-based Earth911.
The GOP’s Strange Ideas About Helping the Poor  -Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana is not just a Republican. He’s also a doctor. And that means he has not one but two reasons to dislike Medicaid. Not only does it cost the government a lot of money. It also serves a lot of its beneficiaries poorly. Cassidy explained in a Dec. 16 column for Politico that Medicaid is the stingiest payer in our health care system. For most services, it reimburses less than both Medicare and private insurance. The people who provide medical care — doctors, hospitals, and so on — are well aware of this and they structure their practices accordingly. Some won’t see Medicaid patients at all. Some will see only a few. As a result, the people who have Medicaid frequently end up at places like Earl P. Long hospital in Baton Rouge — a public hospital where, I gather, Cassidy has worked. "The hospital has dedicated and caring doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff," Cassidy writes, "But its physical plant is in disrepair." Four patients to a room, asbestos in the structure, missing doors — the people of Baton Rouge only go there if they have no other option, according to Cassidy. And that means people with Medicaid, even though they technically have insurance.
UK plans to block all porn in effort to ‘protect children… As Britain finds itself in the middle of the political maelstrom surrounding WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, and the debate over Internet freedom resulting from his arrest on an Interpol warrant, British authorities are stepping up their efforts to wield more control over the Internet. The UK’s coalition government is discussing a plan that would see all pornographic websites automatically blocked in an effort to keep children from accessing them. Under the proposed plan, which appears to have the backing of Britain’s major Internet service providers, the government would provide ISPs a list of objectionable websites, which the ISPs would automatically block. An Internet surfer would then have to "opt in" to be allowed to see the content. Communications Minister Ed Vaizey says it’s a useful step in preventing the premature sexualization of children. He cites a report earlier this year that showed three in 10 British children aged 10 had seen pornography online.

 Long-Term Unemployed: 6 In 10 Jobless Have Searched For More Than A Year, As Hopelessness Sets In – Of the nation’s unemployed workers, nearly six in 10 have been job-hunting for more than a year, according to a survey released Thursday by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. A third have searched for more than two years. The unemployed, which comprise nearly 10 percent of the nation’s workers, are seeing their financial situation worsen. A full 80 percent of the survey respondents said they’ve had to spend less on something formerly fundamental in their lives — things like food, housing or health care — with 40 percent having to forgo essentials entirely. By a margin of nearly two to one, most unemployed workers believe they will not return to the condition they were in before the Great Recession began.

Debt Riots Break out in Greece – In Greece, demonstrators staged a protest of their own. Thousands took to the streets yesterday, rallying against government cutbacks and corruption. The protests started out as peaceful affairs; by afternoon, things had gotten nasty. When the mob arrived at the Greek Parliament building, they spotted a well-known politician, Kostis Hatzidakis (pictured right). His fellow Athenians proceeded to stone the former MP. That’s right, they stoned him. The politician survived, but Greece and the EU may not. Not as we know them anyway. The riots were violent, as shown in this footage. Riot cops can be seen clashing with large groups of protesters. Gov’t troops launch volleys of tear gas at protesters, who are busy launching their own attack — a barrage of Molotov cocktails. In another display of populist anger, English protesters attacked a Rolls Royce carrying Prince Charles and his wife last week. Some in the crowd could be heard chanting "off with their heads". The Royals escaped unharmed, save some damage to their Rolls Royce; rowdy protesters did manage to bust out a side window and ding up the exterior. There are lessons for the EU and United States in this mess.
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