QuickNews, Tuesday, Nov. 24.
AFGHAN QUAGMIRE | Obama to send as many as 35,000 more troops. In decision as early as Tuesday, Obama to announce deployment of additional troops, mostly to south and east, basically in line with Gen. McChrystal's original request 10 war council meetings ago. Will bring total U.S. troops in Afghanistan to about 100,000, a near tripling since Obama came to office. Long deliberations have mostly about devising an exit strategy. New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg, former speechwriter for Carter, is eloquent on how Afghanistan is becoming Obama's Vietnam: it's no longer the "war of necessity" Obama rightly called it in 2002 when denouncing looming U.S. invasion of Iraq.
SO, WHO DOES INDIA LIKE? | PM Manmohan Singh lashes out at China, Pakistan, Afghanistan. Soft-spoken PM, best known as father of economic liberalization under Indira Gandhi, using occasion of Obama's lavish first state dinner for a visiting head of state to fault economic rival China for lacking human-rights values, the abundance of which in India is not self-evident; Pakistan for the Mumbai massacre (the attack was hardly sanctioned by Islamabad), and Afghanistan as long-time refuge for anti-India elements. Not to leave out U.S., which dare not give up fight against Taliban or entire region explodes. What sacrifice India, population 1.2 billion, is making toward regional stability - in blood or treasure - I'd like to know.
H-P PROFITS DECEPTIVE | Real story of tech giant's 3Q is plummeting sales, not profit jump. Company's 14% profit gain is mostly from cost cutting, while its core businesses, apart from services, are in the dumps. Sales of PCs, servers, printers all down, matching miserable performance of rival Dell.
U.S HOUSING BOUNCE, TOO | 10.1% jump in sales attributed to government assistance programs. Actual strength of market exaggerated by U.S. help for "first-time" homebuyers, which in fact means anyone who hasn't bought a house in past three years.
ALSO U.S CAR SALES | Outlook for U.S. volume downgraded to about 11.1 million units. That's up from this year, but far below 16.5 million average annual volume, and not enough for most automakers to generate a profit in N.A. market.
CRIB RECALL | B.C.-based firm recalls about 2.1 million baby cribs tied to several infant deaths. Stork and other makers of "drop-down" cribs under pressure for years over faulty design, in which infants can easily become trapped in gap between mattress and crib's adjustable sides.
PLASTIC BOLT-ON | BMO buys corporate business of Citi's Diners Club. Also announces 16% profit surge. DC a non-core asset for troubled Citigroup, which is shedding peripheral businesses as quickly as market will allow. Adds about $7 billion (U.S.) to BMO's U.S. lending business, a neglible sum. Well into U.S. banking crisis, none of Canada's Big Five, by now renowned for getting through crisis relatively unscathed, have yet to take advantage of the buyer's market in government-assisted takeovers of troubled U.S. lenders. There's valuable U.S. market share for the taking, and opportunities for TD, RBC and BMO to bulk up their modest U.S. presence, but none seem willing to do the work of buying and fixing attractive U.S. banks.
B.C.'s SHAME | Province tops others in child poverty. Advocacy group rips Victoria for lack of poverty-assistance programs.
DOT-COM EXUBERANCE 2.0? | Twitter expects to be profitable by next year. Revenue-shy social networking phenom expects to start pulling in ads in 2010, poised for acquisitions now that it's valued at astounding $1 billion (U.S.) despite meagre cash flow and assets that don't extend much beyond its name. More likely fate is takeover bait for Google or Microsoft.
WHITE ELEPHANT SALE | Toronto developer buys Pontiac Silverdome for 1% of original cost. Suburban Detroit eyesore has no major-league tenant. Buyer Andreas Apostolopoulos hopes to lure a soccer team, and good luck with that in soccer-mad America. He should be able to recoup his $583,000 purchase outlay with sale of naming rights alone - for stadium built for $55.7 million in 1975 - but lacks background in arena management. He'll do nicely on real estate flip if shell--shocked Michigan economy ever recovers.
QUOTE OF THE DAY | "Two things only the people anxiously desire, bread and the Circus games." -Juvenal.
Courtesy The New Yorker, Nov. 16 edition.
Please consider joining me as an elf this holiday season by participating in the Toronto Star's Santa Claus Fund, a century-old Toronto tradition. The Star uses donations to assemble and distribute gift boxes to thousands of less-financially advantaged children throughout the GTA. Each box contains a book, clothing and a toy. You can read all about it, including first-hand accounts of Toronto families in need, at http://www.thestar.com/santaclausfund. I'm counting on your kindness to help put smiles on thousands of young faces this December 25th! Many thanks, David