Monday, May 30, 2011

Debt: Friend or Foe

The Obama Administration and leading economists hope to revive the economy through low interest rates and corporate capital spending. My belief is that our huge record debts at all levels of the economy coupled with people not saving enough will continue to stall our economic growth through 2015.

The American public does not save enough anymore. Why is this important? Because savings in bank accounts, money market funds, mutual funds, retirement accounts are the real fuel for economic expansion, not government spending. Why don’t we save? One reason is consumerism; the desire to always purchase and not to save. Many consumers would rather have the newest car, boat, computer, television, shoes, whatever, than deposit cash in savings. Another reason for lack of saving; the emergence of the 401(k) funds with matching employer money began the switch to defined contribution plans where the employees were expected to save for retirement. This replaced a pension in the private sector with the employer determining the saving contribution and management of the fund. Now people are expected to save for their own retirement instead of an employer contributing to a pension trust.

In the 1990’s single family homes now have four/five bathrooms, high school students had to have cars, education costs outpaced personal income growth, vacations more expensive, thus no saving and increased use of credit. Corporations and the public use debt to provide for income generating assets and better quality of life. In turn income generating assets create more profits and higher personal income can pay back this debt. But with the market and real estate crash of 2008 the ability to pay back this debt has shrunk.

Debt is now a foe, sapping government funds, draining retirement savings, and pushing corporations to cut costs to payback this debt. A growing generation of Americans will come in to retirement with very little money to live on. This will increase more government spending for Social Security and Medicare to support more and more elderly Americans.

Americans must begin to think less, our quality of life can still grow but we need to spend less and save more. Downsize our life style, the American dream of home ownership will never happen for some of us, do we really need a television and computer in every room? In doing this future generations will have more resources and more equity. Corporations can make their profits, pay their dividends and as our quote of the month from Henry Ford says: “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”

JAKE ASS OF THE MONTH – Tough choice this month, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mr. Schwarzenegger, hasn’t the histories of Richard Nixon, Tiger Woods, Bernard Madoff and John Pomierski tells you that “one way or another, they always find out.”

Men and women in power, with social responsibilities continue to think they can get away with being sleazebags. One good thing about all this, Arnold does not have to worry about dyeing his hair that awful red/brown tint anymore; his youthful looks have nothing to do with his public image anymore. Mr. Schwarzenegger might be qualified now to run the IMF but his movie career could be over.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Kris Draper (40), Bob Dylan (70), Clint Eastwood (81), Heidi Klum (38), Brent Musberger (72), Joe Namath (68), Larry Robinson (60), Charlie Watts (70).

BUSTING THE CAP - Dow Jones: "The Treasury Department auctioned $56 billion in new debt Tuesday and Wednesday, enough to take the U.S. over its federal debt ceiling when the three- and 10-year notes settle on Monday. Treasury officials last month flagged May 16 as the day the government would hit the $14.294 trillion debt limit. ... As of Tuesday, total debt subject to the limit was $14.274 trillion ... The federal budget deficit widened in April, with the government spending $ 40.49 billion more than it collected last month, a Treasury Department report said Wednesday."

WHAT WILL HAPPEN? NOTHING GOOD - Princeton professor and former Fed Vice Chair Alan S. Blinder in a WSJ op-ed: "What happens if we crash into the debt ceiling? Nobody really knows, but it's not likely to be pretty. .... If we hit the borrowing wall traveling at full speed, the U.S. government's total outlays ... will have to drop by about 40 percent immediately. How in the world do you do that? No one really knows. ... At some point, Mr. Geithner could wind up brooding over horrible questions like these: Do we stop issuing checks for Social Security benefits, or for soldiers' pay, or for interest payments to the Chinese government? Such agonizing choices are what make default imaginable."

INDY 500 – Dan Wheldon wins the Indianapolis 500 mile race on the last lap over rookie J.R. Hildebrand, Graham Rahal third, Tony Kahaan fourth and Scott Dixon fifth. Danica Patrick over rated again. You sure you want her NASCAR?

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL – Barcelona 3 – Manchester United 1, Lionel Messi is the best soccer (football) player on the planet. The difference between this soccer and MSL (American) soccer, night and day.

BUCKEYE NATION - Embattled coach Jim Tressel, two months after apologizing for fallout that resulted in suspensions for him and several of his players, has resigned from Ohio State. "After meeting with university officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach," Tressel said in a statement Monday morning. "The appreciation that Ellen and I have for the Buckeye Nation is immeasurable."

We feel deeply for Ohio State this morning, NOT!

COMMENCEMENT 2011 – Congratulations to B.E. for her doctorate degree, time to relax and smell the roses. Congratulations to R.H. 48 students who graduated with M.B.A. degrees, remember this, “take your careers and work seriously, but never take yourself seriously.”

RIP MARK HAINES – R.R. and the rest of the financial world was devastated to learn this past week of the death of CNBC's Mark Haines at age 65. Haines, the tough but warm founding anchor of "Squawk Box" and long-time face of the network, was a television genius capable of making even the most arcane financial discussions lively and engaging. And he was pretty much immune to spin, often trading tough words with top CEOs. Every morning we watched Mr. Haines on Squawk Box and Squawk on the Street he did something to make us seem smarter than we actually are. He was a giant and will be deeply missed. CNBC story: NYT story:

MEMORIAL DAY – two words, “Thank You.”

ON MEMORIAL DAY, we're humbly grateful for those who sacrifice. Pentagon casualty figures: Operation Iraqi Freedom - total deaths, 4,421; wounded in hostile action: 31,931. Afghanistan - total deaths, 1,475; wounded in hostile action: 11,541.

Next week, here come the summer movies.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 30, 2011


Monday, May 23, 2011

Is It Worth $205,280?

Is college necessary seems to be the question of the moment. What is the lifetime payoff of a college degree? In April the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 4.5%, among high-school graduates, it was 9.7%. I do not argue against a college degree, but question its price is worth what you get. Student debt now is higher than credit card debt in America.

People with more education do have greater job satisfaction and the networking developed through ones college can last a lifetime. We believe the major issue facing higher education is not only the rising costs of attending, but just as important the lowering of standards and academic rigor of attending. Is that B.A., B.S., M.B.A., M.S., PhD, EdD really worth it?

Not only are our college graduates available to shoot a beer, text 100 words in a minute, search for a paper topic on Google – but can they write a professional letter, deliver a speech for ten minutes in front of a group of strangers, research a problem, lead people? These are the issues facing higher education – the jury is still out.

COMMENCEMENT 2011 – TOM BROKAW commencement address Saturday at St. Lawrence University, in Canton, N.Y., "Live Modestly":

“In the past four years you have been witness to and in too many case, felt the pain of, the most devastating economic recession since the Great Depression. Some of you may have parents who lost jobs or homes. While you were here, preparing to take your place in a society that values and rewards higher education, others your age were in uniform and in harms way in the two longest wars in our history, wars that are not yet over and every week bring painful news of loss of life or limbs to too many American families. We owe them more than a yellow ribbon on our cars or trucks, more than a singing of God Bless America.

You are leaving this sanctuary of learning and innocence in a season of uncertainty and anxiety. Daily there are painful reminders that the economic model that has defined your lives was a house of cards. Indeed, it is a shambles that will not be easily repaired, and even then, it will have a far different shape and evoke far different expectations.

We lost our way and allowed greed and excess to become the twin pillars of too much of the financial culture. We became a society utterly absorbed in consumption and dismissive of moderation. A friend, a very successful businessman who nonetheless lives a temperate life, says appropriately we have to replace want with need. It’s not what we want that should rule our lives but what we need. And, it goes without saying, what we can afford.

You’ll not solve global warming by hitting the delete button; you’ll not eliminate reckless avarice by hitting backspace; you’ll not make society more just by cutting and pasting.
And do not surrender the essence of the human experience to 146 characters on a Twitter or a Facebook, however seductive the temptation. You’ll not get a Google alert when you fall in love. You may be guided by the unending effort of poets and artists, biologists and psychiatrists to describe that irreplaceable and still mysterious emotion so essential to the human condition but all the search engines in the universe cannot compete with the first kiss. It will do us little good to wire the world if we short circuit our souls. Remember, too, that somehow before BlackBerries and I-phones, lap tops and video games, great and welcome change was achieved.

You’ve been told recently you’re about to enter the real world. That’s misleading. Your parents and I do not represent the real world. Neither does this institution, for all of its obvious qualities. The real world was junior high. You’ll be astonished by how much of the rest of your life will be consumed by the same petty jealousies you encountered in adolescence, the same irrational juvenile behavior, the cliques, the dumb jokes and hurt feelings.

Most of all, remember – you cannot get through this world alone. You need each other – and we need you to celebrate one another in a common cause of restoring economic justice and true value, advancing racial and religious tolerance, creating a healthier planet.

We do that by listening and reasoning not by shouting and fighting. Beware of ideological tyranny and uncompromising certainty. Do not become hostage to the orthodoxy of others.

This country was built on big, bold ideas that served the common welfare. We’re a democratic republic, not a collection of fiefdoms changing the fundamental rules of governance with every election cycle.

No remarks of mine or parental advice will be adequate substitute for your own determination and commitment to excellence. We’re not your GPS system; at best, as commentators and parents, we’re road signs. You must find your own way and I have little doubt you will.

On these occasions in the past I’ve said, It’s easy to make a buck; it’s tough to make difference. Then a parent suggested a re-wording: It’s tough to make a buck but if you make a lot of bucks, you can make a big difference. So for a time I offered both observations as a final word.

This year and these times required still another revision: It’s a lot tougher to make a make a buck but making a difference has its own rich reward.

Go forth and make a difference. God knows, we need your help.”

A total of 548 degrees will be awarded at St. Lawrence's ceremony. There are 527 candidates for bachelor's degrees and 21 candidates for master's degrees.
* The five most popular majors this year are, in descending order:
- Psychology
- Economics
- English
- Government
- Biology

In 2010, the top five in descending order were psychology, english, economics, history and government.

The total four year cost for the average student to attend St. Lawrence University was $205,820.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Greg Ball …famous father of Geoff & Alex, John Fogerty (66), Kirk Gibson (54), Rudy Giuliani (67), Lenny Kravitz (47), Mark Howe (56), Jim Lehrer (77), Hank Williams Jr. (62).

COMMENCEMENT SEASON - RR always enjoys a good graduation speech. Here is Willis Group CEO Joe Plumeri from May 15 at the College of William & Mary discussing his rise from humble beginnings in Trenton, N.J. and career encounters with Sandy Weill in 1968 and Henry Kravis in 2000. Video:

DICK CHENEY's book - "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir," by Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney - will be out Aug. 30, the Tuesday before Labor Day, and people who have read it say that it peels back some skin: unquestionably the most unvarnished of the Bush administration memoirs. Cover image, showing a pensive Cheney, hands in pockets, alone in the White House Cross Hall.

LINKEDIN: ARE YOU KIDDING? - The enormous day-one IPO pop for shares in business networking site LinkedIn (which RR still can't really figure out how to use and which Alec Baldwin recently mocked on "30 Rock") had everyone talking about a return to the go-go 1990's when any dot-com could double or more on its first day. LinkedIn closed at $94.25, more than double its offering price of $45 but off the day's high of $122.70. The closing price represents a multiple of nearly 600 times the site's trialing earnings of $15.4 million, a completely insane number. The shares are likely to come back to earth. But the underwriters, including Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JPMorganChase, have some explaining to do after leaving so much money on the table for LinkedIn executives and shareholders who sold into the IPO. One banker at a firm not on the deal told M.M.: "If I were an existing LinkedIn shareholder I would not be very happy right now."

BE WELL - Ron Harris and Nancy Scali, having a tough fight with cancer. We all support you and you are in our prayers.

Next week, our Jack Ass of the month.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 23, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Don't Get It

Have you ever watched a play and did not have a clue what the play was about? Have you ever read a book and when finished with it did not understand what the book was about? Have you ever sat in a meeting or had a conversation and knew nothing about what was discussed? Have you ever been in a classroom and the lecture the instructor was giving the class was going completely over your head? If someone tells you they can explain cloud computing, adaptive-learning software and smartphone apps they think they get it but they do not.

I have found that the older you get it becomes less and less important to get it. When you are a teenager or a young adult, if you don’t get it you just act like you do. In your twenties and thirties and you don’t get it, you not only act like you get it but also explain what it is all about.

But now as one grows older, who cares. I don’t get it and I even admit that I don’t get it. Too bad other aspects of life are not as easy to ignore or deal with.


The other day I wanted to get in contact with a friend, I telephoned his home, he was not there so I left a message on his answering machine. The next day he left me a text message on my cellular telephone. I returned the call to his cellular telephone, he was not there so I left a message on his cellular answering system. He sent me an email the next day to my gmail account and asked that I send him an email to his Hotmail account, for which I proceeded to do. He then posted a message to me on his Facebook page and asked that I respond via his Twitter account. Weeks have gone by, through various platforms and I have not been in contact with him yet. How do I speak to my friend?

--Frustrated With Technology

Dear Frustrated With Technology –

I don’t get it!

--Rink Rats

DRIVING THE WEEK - Strauss-Kahn to enter a not-guilty plea this morning and will probably make bail ... The federal government is likely to hit the $14.294 trillion debt ceiling today leading to a series of moves by Treasury including tapping federal retire programs to temporarily fund operations. But a debt limit deal appears no closer with House Speaker John Boehner saying yesterday he has seen "no real action" from the VP Biden-led talks ... Per Mike "Playbook" Allen, House Budget Chair Paul Ryan will push back hard today on Medicare, the social safety net, taxes and more at the Economic Club of Chicago ... Fed Chair Ben Bernanke speaks at conference in Washington today on the government's role in innovation ...

SUMMER TRAVEL TIPS – The cheapest plane tickets are on the following days: Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Best day and time to purchase a plane ticket is Tuesday at Noon, this is when airlines post and free up seats.

APPLE IS WORLD'S TOP BRAND - Apple has overtaken Google to become the world's most valuable brand with an estimated brand value of more than $153bn ... For the last four years, Google has dominated the BrandZ Top100 ranking of the most valuable global brands, compiled by Millward Brown, a subsidiary of advertising company WPP. ... Thanks to the success of the iPad tablet and iPhone mobile - among both consumers and corporations - Apple's brand value has surged in the last year to overtake that of the search engine company.

WHAT HAPPENED? - L.A. Times A1, "A bond torn over time: From friends and others come differing narratives of how the Schwarzenegger-Shriver marriage eroded," by Robin Abcarian and Mark Z. Barabak: "Some close to Schwarzenegger spoke of a loving marriage that slowly broke apart over time. Friends of Shriver portrayed her as trapped for years in an unhappy relationship that reached a breaking point after the deaths of her parents and a difficult transition back to private life."

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN - Queen becomes Britain's second-longest reigning monarch - Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday became the second-longest reigning monarch in British history, clocking up a total of 21,645 days on the throne. Only Queen Victoria, the current monarch's great-great-grandmother, has reigned for longer. Elizabeth, 85, acceded to the throne on the death of her father on February 6, 1952, and has reigned for 59 years and 95 days plus 15 extra leap-year days, totalling 21,645 days. ... Victoria ... reigned for almost 64 years before her death in 1901. Queen Elizabeth II will surpass her record in September 2015.


quaff \KWOFF; KWAFF\, intransitive verb:
To drink a beverage, esp. an intoxicating one, copiously and with hearty enjoyment.

transitive verb:
1. To drink (a beverage) copiously and heartily

1. An act or instance of quaffing.
2. A beverage quaffed.

siempre, adverb

Lo de siempre, por favor.
My usual, please.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Yogi Berra (86), Bill Dillhoefer practice swing in golf, Barbara Colley …famous entrepreneur, Reggie Jackson (66), Shelly Lamotte …famous consultant and Cornell grad., Stan Mikita (71), George Strait (59), Mike Wallace (93), Stevie Wonder (61).

COMMENCEMENT 2011 - HOWARD FINEMAN ('70) commencement address Saturday at Colgate University, in Hamilton, N.Y., "Carrying the Torch in a Digital Age": "Being informed is no longer a passive process, if it ever was. You have to be an active participant in becoming and staying connected to the world. Here is my brief guide about how to do so. It's journalism 101 for civilians ... The best antidote to propaganda is skepticism. Never rely on one source, be it a person, a newspaper, website, tweet, or a government official. ... Leave your comfort zone; read the 'other' side(s). If you watch MSNBC watch Fox, too. And vice versa. It won't kill you. Scan websites as far away from your own thinking as you can stand ... As Nietzche said, whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger. OK, maybe you should avoid Glenn Beck. ...Talking to people face-to-face -iris-to-iris - is indispensible because, sadly, it is increasingly rare; traveling to distant countries and cultures ... is crucial because doing it virtually is way too easy now."

HOCKEYTOWN MOURNS – Both of Rink Rats picks to play in the Stanley Cup Finals have been eliminated in Round two of the playoffs, Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings. Detroit’s season is over but so many things to be hopeful about came out of this series even with the disappointing end: Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsyuk, Nik Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg. There’s plenty of reason to look forward to next season already.

We were impressed by the class showed by the Red Wings in their defeat and play in the seven game series with San Jose. This cannot be said for the Los Angeles Lakers classless exit from their playoff series with Dallas. Why is the NBA so popular? I don’t get it!

Next week, our monthly review of economics and finance.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 16, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Top Five

Every six months Rink Rats has a Top Five Blog, here we go.

Top Five Seinfeld Shows:
1). The Contest
2). The Opposite
3). The Marine Biologist
4). The Boyfriend
5). The Puffy Shirt

Top Five Reasons The Economy is Still In Trouble:
1). 57 straight months of housing price decline.
2). Erin Burnett leaving CNBC for CNN.
3). The new hookah store in the Village of La Verne. What’s up with that?
4). $15 Trillion in U.S. Federal Debt.
5). Commodity prices: corn, sugar, rice, oil, gold and tuition.

Top Five Daily Newspapers Circulation:
1). Wall Street Journal – 2,117,796
2). USA Today – 1,829,099
3). The New York Times – 916,911
4). The Los Angeles Times – 605,243
5). The San Jose Mercury News – 577,665

Top Five Hospitals by Speciality:
1). Cancer – University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
2). Heart & Heart Surgery – Cleveland Clinic
3). Neurology & Neurosurgery – Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
4). Psychiatry – Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
5). Rehabilitation – Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Top Five Reasons to Not Get in Debt:
1). Frank McCourt
2). General Motors
3). State of California
4). AIG
5). Alexis Bellino, Orange County Housewife

Top Five Profitable 2010 U.S. Corporations:
1). Wal-Mart
2). Exxon Mobil
3). Chevron
4). ConocoPhilllips
5). General Electric

Top Five Gardening Tips for Spring:
1). Mulch around plants to help with weed control and retaining moisture.
2). Prune shrubs, trees and perennials back that were not pruned in the fall.
3). Save space in a vegetable garden when planting tomatoes, plant pole beans and squash in the same area. Beans will climb tomatoes, and squash plants will act as ground cover which maintains moisture for all.
4). Recycling water, especially rainwater is a good idea.
5). Sharpen tools, it makes gardening work much easier and fun.

Top Five BBQ Tips:
1). Baste not waste
When it's time to baste the meat, cut an orange or lemon in half. Dip the juicy part of the fruit into a marinade and rub directly onto the meat. Easy and gives the beef a tasty twist.
2). Beer the Beef!
Add a tablespoon of beer to marinade to give it just the right kick--and it keeps the meat extra moist and tender.
3). Stop the stick
Tired of food always getting stuck to the grill? When you go to throw on the meat, first brush it with a little vegetable oil or olive oil and the sticky situation is gone.
4). No-fuss husking
Who has time to husk corn? With our tip, you do! With the husk still on, cut off both ends of the corn, roll it on your counter top, and watch the husk come right off!
5). Tea time and "me" time
Tired of plain iced tea? When making a pitcher for you BBQ, grab a frozen can of concentrate and stir in a couple of scoops. Orange juice, lemonade, and strawberry are some great-tasting choices! “I got this out of Facebook.”

Top Five Reasons The Lakers Are Out of the Playoffs:
1). Who Cares
2). Egos
3). Khloe Kardashian
4). Vic “The Brick” Jacobs
5). Too old

Top Five Reasons “They paved paradise And put up a parking lot”
1). Money
2). We did it that way at The University of San Francisco.
3). Create new job titles
4). Who cares about athletics.
5). Climate Action Plan

Top Five Reasons Facebook IS Dumbing Down Society:
1). “I am eating at Applebee’s tonight and having so much fun!”
2). Write a letter, how do I do that?
3). “My fortune cookie this week is …”
4). I hate my life but do not have the guts to do anything about it.
5). Sarah Palin

Top Five Reasons the U.S. Is Better Off Today:
1). Our citizens do not wear hats like Princess Beatrice and Eugenie.
2). Osama is history.
3). Kendra was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars.
4). Only 14 Oprah shows left.
5). Donald Trump will never become POTUS.

Top five reasons to Read Rink Rats:
1). It is cool.
2). I am related to him.
3). It beats Facebook.
4). Cheap news and entertainment.
5). We read it at St. Lawrence University.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Candice Bergen (65), Tony Blair (58), Mort Sahl (84), Bob Seger (66), Pat Summerall (81), Bono Vox (51), Steve Yzerman (46), Brian Williams (52), Mark Zuckerberg (27).

Next week, words of the month and Dear Rink Rats.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 9, 2011


Monday, May 2, 2011

Year Deux Entrée

Year Two of Rink Rats begins with the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Our thoughts are with many people today but especially with Rink Rats friend Kevin G. and all his fellow New York City firefighters, paramedics and police officers. The grief will go on but today is cause to feel a sense of justice has been done.

INSIDE THE SITUATION ROOM – President Obama rejected original plan for bombing; wanted proof - Navy SEALS held two rehearsals last month, with war cabinet monitoring from White House - Raid planned for Saturday but pushed off a day because of weather - Chopper stalled as it hovered over the compound - Forces blew it up and left in a reinforcement craft -- How the fiery raid went down, as told to Rink Rats by senior administration officials: The compound -- about an acre, with a three-story house - is in Abbottabad, a suburb of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Officials were very suspicious of the 12- to 18-foot-high walls, and seven-foot wall on the upper balcony. Residents burned their trash, and there was no telephone or Internet connection to the compound, valued at $1 million. But officials never had anything directly proving that Osama bin Laden was living there. The U.S. had discovered the compound by following a personal courier for bin Laden. Officials didn't learn his name until 2007, then it took two years to find him and track him back to this compound, which was discovered in August 2010. "It was a "Holy cow!" moment," an official said.

The original plan for the raid was to bomb the house, but President Obama ultimately decided against that. "The helicopter raid was riskier. It was more daring," an official said. "But he wanted proof. He didn't want to just leave a pile of rubble." Officials also knew there were 22 people living there, and Obama wanted to be sure not to kill all the civilians. So he ordered officials to come up with an air-assault plan. The forces held rehearsals of the raid on April 7 and April 13, with officials monitoring the action from Washington.

As the actual raid approached, daily meetings were held of the national security principals, chaired by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, and their deputies, chaired by John Brennan, the president's counterterrorism adviser. At an April 19 meeting in the Situation Room, the president approved the assault, in principle, as the course of action. He ordered the force to fly to the region to conduct it. On April 28, just after his East Room announcement that CIA Director Leon Panetta would be succeeding Robert Gates as Defense Secretary, the president held another meeting in the Situation Room, and went through everyone's final recommendations. He didn't announce his decision at that time, but kept his counsel overnight.

At 8:20 a.m. Friday, the president informed National Security Adviser Tom Donilon that he was authorizing the operation. Donilon signed a written authorization to CIA Director Leon Panetta, who commanded the strike team. The raid was scheduled for Saturday, but weather pushed it to yesterday. The Navy SEALs arrived at the compound at 3:30 p.m. ET yesterday and were gone by 4:15 p.m. Obama monitored the operation all day from the Situation Room, surrounded by Donilon, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and others. Panetta was at CIA headquarters, where he had turned his conference room into a command center that gave him constant contact with the tactical leaders of the strike team.

The helicopter carrying the assault force appeared to stall as it hovered over the compound, producing heart-stopping moments for the officials back in Washington. Aides thought fearfully of "Black Hawk Down" and "Desert One," the failed Iranian hostage rescue mission. The pilot put the bird down gently in the compound, but couldn't get it going again. The assault force disembarked. "They went ahead and raided the compound, even though they didn't know if they would have a ride home," an official said. The special forces put some bombs on the helicopter and blew it up. Bin Laden resisted the assault force, and was shot in the face during a firefight. With the team still in the compound, the commander on the ground told another commander that they had found Osama bin Laden. Applause erupted in Washington. Reinforcements came and picked up the SEALs, who had scavenged every shred and pixel of possible intelligence material from the house. U.S. forces took photographs of the body, and officials used facial-recognition technology to compare them with known pictures of bin Laden. It was him.

N.Y. Times front page: 2-line, all-cap, ital. banner, "BIN LADEN KILLED BY U.S. FORCES IN PAKISTAN, OBAMA SAYS, DECLARING JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE" See the page.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – George Clooney (50), Willie Mays (80), Sula Vanderplank …famous woman of the world, Tammy Wynette (69).

TALK RADIO ALERT - "Reliance on Uncle Sam hits a record: 2010 income was 18.3% entitlements, Americans depended more on government assistance in 2010 than at any other time in the nation's history ... A record 18.3% of the nation's total personal income was a payment from the government for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010. Wages accounted for the lowest share of income - 51.0% - since the government began keeping track in 1929."

PHILANTHROPY WATCH - L.A. Times second front, "DONORS TO FUND FREE USC TUITION: Couple's $110-million donation will provide scholarships for about 100 students a year," by Larry Gordon: "The University of Southern California will announced last week a $110-million donation for scholarships from a Colorado couple who made a fortune in the oil and gas industry. The gift is expected to cover tuition and some expenses for about 100 academically gifted undergraduates at the Los Angeles campus each year. The donation from USC engineering school alumnus John Mork and his wife, Julie, is aimed at encouraging more of the nation's top students to attend USC. ... John Mork, 63, is chief executive of the Denver-based Energy Corp. of America ... Mork said he worries that well-paying blue collar jobs are disappearing in America and that he wants as many young people as possible to obtain a university education as the ticket to a middle-class life."

RINK RATS FAVORITE - The CNBC anchor Erin Burnett has signed a long-term contract with CNN ... The signing will represent a shift to general news anchoring for Ms. Burnett ... Burnett, who was considered a rising star within CNBC and its parent, NBCUniversal Media, held talks with two broadcast networks, ABC and CBS, before deciding to join CNN ... Burnett could end up with an afternoon or evening time slot on CNN.

MORNING NEWS -- NBC ... is expected to hold a news conference Monday morning to announce that Ann Curry will succeed Meredith Vieira as the co-host of 'Today' ... in June ... Natalie Morales, a 9 a.m. anchor of 'Today,' will replace Ms. Curry as the news anchor, and Savannah Guthrie, a White House correspondent and MSNBC anchor, will become the 9 a.m. anchor.

DEBT CEILING UPDATE - Amid the jubilation over Bin Laden's demise, Congress will also return to Washington to a continued FY2012 budget battle and the imminent debt ceiling crisis. M.M. hears that Treasury is likely to offer an update to Congress early in the week on when the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit will be reached. ... The statement is likely to reiterate the May 16th initial date but could change the amount of time Treasury will be able to use "extraordinary measures" to avoid default. ... Business groups have also been preparing during the recess to make the case to members that the limit must be raised to avoid massive negative market reaction that would result even if the rhetorical point that the U.S. could divert existing resources to make interest payments is technically true. "The perception of possible default is what matters," one executive said last week, "not the Washington bean-counting."

MARKETS - The death of Osama bin Laden is sparking a rally in equity markets around the world, with U.S. stock index futures pointing to a sharply higher open this morning. A strong rally could give the Dow its first close above 13,000 since May 2008.
As has been the case in recent years, April ended with strong gains across the board for Wall Street's major averages, led by a 4% jump for the Dow. The news has also sparked a selloff in gold and silver, a drop for oil, and a rebound for the U.S. dollar off 3-year lows.

CONGRATULATIONS – To the University of La Verne baseball team for finishing in second place in the SCIAC with an overall record of 25-14 and a 20-8 league record. Chances are slim the second place Leopards will get an at-large D-III playoff bid with University of Redlands and Chapman College slated for spots. But a great season non-the-less especially under the dark cloud of future of instability as far as playing fields is concerned.

What was that vision we were talking about last week?

Next week, spring gardening, cooking and Dear Rink Rats.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 2, 2011