Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bicycle Accidents Increase Along With Gas Prices

With the constant increase in the price of gasoline, millions of Americans have been searching for ways to travel that do not require them to buy gas that sometimes costs over $4 per gallon. In my home town, I have noticed more and more people turning to bicycles and with this changing trend – the number of collisions between automobiles and bicycles is going up in most parts of the country.

The sad fact is that people who are driving bicycles on streets that were designed for cars are putting their lives on the line each time they take to the road. Like motorcycles, bicycles provide no protection to the driver if they are hit by a 3000 pound car that for some reason does not notice them in their lane of travel. Just in the past week, two people that I know of have been killed around my city because they were riding a bicycle that was hit by an automobile.

While most of the time, these types of accidents are the fault of automobile drivers not paying attention to what is going on around them, there are other times when bicycle riders are the ones that are negligent. A couple of days ago, I was driving down a busy street to get some supper around 6pm and I noticed that a couple of blocks ahead of me there were two bicycle riders on the far side of the lane my car was traveling in. As I neared these bicycle riders, one person – without even looking, veered their bicycle into my lane of travel to make a left turn. I was able to stop in time and nothing happened, but for the rest of the day my mind was filled with how my life would have been emotionally destroyed if through no fault of my own I ran over this negligent bicycle rider.

I am writing this post to help remind the people that regularly read this blog to pay attention to bicycle riders as you make your daily automobile rounds. As gas prices remain high, there is no doubt that bicycle ridership will increase and along with that added bike traffic there will be more accidents that will severely injure or possible kill the riders of these bicycles. Even if the driver of a car does all the right things, there is still a chance that the bicycle rider will ignore the laws of the road and turn directly into you lane of travel. So let's all be careful out there!

Title: Bicycle Accidents Increase Along With Gas Prices
Written: July 31 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chinese Internet Crackdown During Olympics

It's bad enough when the Chinese government cracks down on it's own people in order to quash decent from angry citizens. However, when thousands of people from all around the world show up in China in a couple of weeks to watch the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, they also will be spied upon by the Chinese government in real time if they use their cell phone, laptop computer or surf the Internet from their American owned hotel room.

Rather than causing the world to look positively upon the communist government of China during this summers Olympic Games, these hard knuckled measures by the government of China are going to cause even more resentment from the rest of the world. It is amazing to me that the government of China really believes that the rest of the world is going to put up with these out dated practices in the same way their own citizens have tolerated this type of government intrusion for years.

The 2008 Summer Olympic Games will go on as scheduled in China starting on August 9th, but if the Chinese government does not play it's cards right – the 2008 Summer Olympic Games will go down in history as the last Olympic venue to be hosted in a communist country because of the lack of freedom of expression that is allowed by people that are not even citizens of that country.

While most freedom loving people around the world are criticizing the Chinese government for the spying that will be going on against foreign citizens and members of the international news media during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, citizens of Tibet and other people in China that want more freedom will gain new friends once the full extent of Chinese government control is exposed to the rest of the world.

The Chinese government has spent billions of dollars to portray their nation as a new and growing part of a more modern world. However, joining the modern world also means that certain freedoms must be given to their own citizens and most certainly to foreign visitors to the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. First there was the story of the blanket of smog that is currently filling the air around where the Olympic Games will take place and now a smog of a different kind is causing China to have wasted the money it spent to put on a good show for the rest of the world because of the way it fears the free expression of news and ideas among it's own citizens and foreign visitors during this summer's Olympic Games.

Title: Chinese Internet Crackdown During Olympics
Written: July 30 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Moving/Shaking In LA, Earthquake

Earlier today, the Los Angeles area was stuck by a 5.4 magnitude Earthquake. From downtown LA to Las Vegas to Mexico this moderate sized quake rattled the nerves of millions of people that call this region home. It has been many years since people in the LA area have witness an Earthquake this large and with the passage of time, people do tend to forget that this area of Southern California has been home of some of the biggest Earthquakes ever witnessed on the Earth.

Tonight, I watch a video clip on YouTube that showed how unnerving it was today in LA when this 5.4 magnitude Earthquake struck. The popular television show called 'Judy Judy' was being taped in Los Angeles when all of a sudden the studio began to shake while some in the audience looked for cover. Shortly after the shaking started, it appeared that Judge Judy left her TV bench and went to a place of safety somewhere off the set of where that show is taped.

Other video that was broadcast on our local television news tonight showed businesses having their merchandise tossed to the floor as the ground shook in the LA area. While today was a good wake up call for the millions of people that call the LA area home, in the end today's Earthquake only caused minor damage and no injuries have yet to be reported that were directly caused by today's Earthquake.

The Southern California area is long over due for the 'big one' which would be described as a 7.8, 7.9 or 8.0 Earthquake. Today's 5.4 magnitude quake was nothing compared to what a huge Earthquake would do to this densely populated area of the world. When the 'big one' does eventually strike Southern California, there will be thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands of people injured within a few minutes period of time. During that short time window, hundreds of buildings will crumble and people unfortunate enough to be inside a tall skyscraper will find the floor moving under them in the same way they would fill if they were on a skate board.

Someone said once that there was a price to pay for living in such a beautiful place like Southern California and that price is paid by increased risks of losing a home to a brush fire and to the potential loss of everything when a major Earthquake strikes that area. Today, the people of Southern California dodged a big bullet - but eventually their time will run out and that much talked about 'big one' will make some people believe they are witnessing the end of the world.

Title: Moving/Shaking In LA, Earthquake
Written: July 29 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Cop Assaults Bicyclist In NYC

I just finished watching some disturbing video where a New York City police officer assaults a bicycle rider and then arrests the bicyclist for trying to assault him. I am a big supporter of police officers and the good work they are charged with doing across this country. However, when there is a bad apple in the bunch they need to be called out and fired from their job. In this video there is no doubt who was the aggressor and in my opinion the other police officer that witnessed this attack should be held accountable as well for allowing his colleague to trump up charges against an innocent man.

I totally understand that all police departments have what is lightly referred to as a 'think blue line' where police officers stand together to protect each other from false charges. However, when a fellow police officer clearly crosses the line - other officers should see the potential danger to their profession if they do not stand up and try to remove bad apple officers from their own midsts. Without this video tape, more than likely a court would have convicted this man of a crime that he did not commit and this officer with a problem would have been allow to commit the same kind of crime again in the future.

Most of the time, video in the form of car dash cams help police officers fight false charges of abuse. However, the good thing about video is that it can also help police departments find bad officers and get rid of them before they do further damager to the reputation of their department and other innocent citizens. As more and more cities and private individuals are video tapping most aspects of public life, there will be increased opportunity for courts and juries to know whether a police officer was really attacked or if like in this case it was the police officer that is the aggressor.

In the end this NYC police officer should be fired and also offered anger management classes to deal with his frustrations. In addition to firing the police officer that committed this crime against a New York bicyclist, the other police officer that stood by and watched his colleague attack this person and then go along with the trump up charges against the bicyclist should also face disciplinary action, as well. Anytime a person commits a crime against a police officer they should be punished, but if the reverse also happens - then police officers should be held to the same legal system that they are charged with enforcing on everyone else.

Title: Cop Assaults Bicyclist In NYC
Written: July 29 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Monday, July 28, 2008

More Crazy People Are Flying Today

I'm really not sure of the reason, but there is little doubt that more crazy people are flying today than ever before. From drunken passengers that try to take advantage to flight attendants to a recent incident where a couple of drunk women tried to open a door on a jet aircraft as it was flying ten of thousands of feet in the air. Maybe there are just more crazy people walking the face of the Earth today than ever before or could it be that normal people are turned into nut cases because of the way they are treated by major U.S. airlines that are cutting service while at the same time raising fares because of high fuel costs?

I have written many times before about the good old days of air travel when men and women of moderate means were treated like Kings and Queens when they traveled across this great country on a major airline. For anyone that has flown since September 11th, 2001 and in my view many years before that terrible day - know that the major U.S. airlines have been cutting customer service and raising fares on all classes of service that they offer. In addition to cutting services and raising airline ticket prices, the seating situation on most major airlines is not comfortable and for most passengers it is down right cramped and crowed.

Now let's talk about the abundant amount of alcohol that is being served on cross country flights every single day. Many years ago, the major airlines discovered that they could add a bunch of money to their bottom line by selling their customers as much alcohol as they could consume on a flight. All of us know in the real world that there are happy drunks, but also there are some angry drunks as well. The last thing I or any sane person wants on a cross country airline flight is an angry drunk who after one too many decides to take his or her frustrations out on the flight attendants and the rest of the passengers on board.

My personal opinion is that alcohol should be banned from domestic flights all together and only two drinks per customer should be allow on International flights that last over six hours. There is no reason why any passenger or crew member on a flight should have to put up with a drunken passenger that could potentially cause them harm, simple because the airlines profit margins are increase greatly when more alcohol is sold. Almost everyone would be entertained by the occasional happy drunk that is funny to watch when they have had one too many. However, no one wants to put up with an angry drunk passenger on an airline flight that is already miserable for most people because of cramped space and poor air quality.

The time has come for the FAA to put restrictions on how many alcoholic beverages an airline can sell to any one passenger on a flight and if that rule is broke then the airline should pay a heavy fine. It is tough enough already to get ones attitude right before being herded into a modern day cattle car called a jet airliner, without some drunken fool ruining the trip even more and potentially endangering the life of innocent passengers. If it come down to a choice between higher ticket prices or allowing the airlines to sell as much alcohol as they see fit to angry passengers - I believe most people that travel by air would choose a higher price without the drunken side show of an out of control passenger.

Title: More Crazy People Are Flying Today
Written: July 28 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Will Cuil Replace Google For Search?

A couple of former employees for Google have started their own search engine with the promise that it will be better than Google because of new technology which will scan the billions of pages of Internet content more quickly. While we have all heard these kinds of promises before, it is worth noting that two of Google's former employees are in charge of the search technology at 'Cuil' and I for one am watching with interest as the world's newest search engine starts getting used by consumers.

I was a late comer to the whole Google search system in the first place. For years, I was on the Internet writing and search for various things using other search products like Altavista and Excite long after most people had made the switch to Google. During that period of time, I had heard about Google Search - but in the end it took me several years to completely switch over from Altavista and Excite and become the latest true blue Google believer. Now, a new search engine called 'Cuil' is offering to become the latest Google killer and while the people in charge of 'Cuil' totally believe they can accomplish that goal - in reality that have a big job ahead of them that could take a decade or more to accomplish if they do everything right.

For me and millions of other people that use Google on a daily basis, that company is much more than just a search engine. In fact, on many days I do not use Google Search at all, but everyday I use other Google services that are offered to me - free of charge. The story you are reading right now is being hosted on a Google owned property called 'Blogger'. Millions of bloggers around the world have found a place where they can share their ideas to the world and not be forced to pay for the privilege.

In addition to 'Blogger' is have my email service through a Google owned service called Gmail and yes - once again - Google offers that service to me and millions of other people free of charge. Those are just two services that Google offers to millions of people at no charge and when it comes to search engine trust and loyalty, 'Cuil' and/or any other service has a high level to surpass if they are to be the newest search engine that becomes a household name. That said, eventually some other search engine will be developed that will eventually surpass the success of Google. That is just how the free market system works.

At this time, it is way too early to know if all the hype of 'Cuil' is real or just the latest group of imitators that do not have what it takes to knock the big guy off his block of success. One thing is for sure and that is that 'Cuil' is getting a bunch of publicity today which will drive millions of people to check out this new search engine over the next few weeks. Many of the people that visit 'Cuil' will be testing this new search engine against results that are delivered by Google and by the end of this week we should all know more about 'Cuil' and whether or not it even has a chance to compete head to head with Google Search.

Title: Will Cuil Replace Google For Search?
Written: July 28 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chinese Olympic Smog Getting Worse

In a couple of weeks, the 2008 Summer Olympic Games will get underway in China. About one week ago, the Chinese government placed restrictions on driving and shut down many factories that were polluting the air. After a week of these pollution cutback measures, the Chinese government had hoped to see improvement in the air quality of Beijing. However, today the sky's in Beijing were still filled with heavy smog and air pollution while the 2008 Olympic Summer Games are only a couple of weeks away from getting started.

Some governments, the United States included, have been concerned about the health of their athletes, especially the ones that will be competing in this summers games outside. On the television news tonight, I watch several stories about the poor air quality currently hovering over Beijing, China and unless some miracle happens between now and when the 2008 Summer Olympic Games get started on August 8th, there could be a huge health disaster facing Olympic athletes from around the world because of the heavy layers of pollution hovering over Beijing.

Frankly, I am shock that the Chinese government has allowed this to happen. Especially since they worked so hard to get the 2008 Summer Games in their country in the first place. Unlike the United States where the government is limited in it's power to stop transportation and factory pollution - in China the government has vastly more power to limit factory pollution and the use of automobiles on the road. Now because of poor government planning, the Chinese government could lose face if the 2008 Olympic Games are disrupted by outside air pollution that was cause by their own negligence.

While I have never been a big believer in 'Global Warming' being caused by man, most certainly pollution in most of it's forms is a man made problem that can be reduced. In the 1970's it was common to see layers of smog fog covering most major cities inside the United States. However today, with the exception of some western cities like Los Angeles - smog levels in most cities are lower than they were back in the 1970's because the U.S. government cracked down on air pollution being emitted by automobiles and factories.

Under the best of circumstance, it was a giant stretch for the Chinese government to believe that they could clean up the air in and around Beijing by reducing pollution there for a period of one month before the 2008 Summer Olympic Games got underway. Man has never been good at controlling the environment and most certainly any change that man or government makes to clean up decades of pollution will not happen in a short time window of one month. Now the Chinese government faces worldwide embarrassment as the Summer Olympic Games get under way in early August. In the end, the powers that be in Beijing have really no one else to blame but themselves for their short sight approach to clearing up the air inside of their country.

Title: Chinese Olympic Smog Getting Worse
Written: July 27 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Another Senseless Crime Knoxville Church Shooting

Today, innocent people that were worshiping their God were threatened inside a church in Knoxville, Tennessee when a crazy man with a shotgun showed up during church services and starting shooting people at random. Late word suggests that two people were killed in this shooting rampage while several others were critically wounded. Right now, it is not known what set this man off to the point where he would sneak a shotgun into this church sanctuary in a guitar case and then start shooting people in a murderous rage.

One of the last public places on Earth where people are not randomly searched or forced to walk through medal detectors are the hundreds of thousands of churches in the United States. Are some people in this world so sick in the head that even our houses of worship must now install metal detectors and/or security personnel at entrances to keep mentally deranged individuals away from good hard working people that are trying to enlighten their life by celebrating all that is good about God's love?

A year or two ago, there was a similar shooting in Colorado where a crazy man entered a church there and started firing his gun at people inside. In that incident, the Colorado man started shooting people outside the church first and then continue his hate filled rage against other people inside the church. Then today, in Knoxville Tennessee, someone else loaded his shotgun and decided that innocent people at church should be made to pay for someone else's poor choices in life. I have long since quit trying to figure out what is in the mind of crazy criminals like today's church shooter in Tennessee. Instead, I now believe that they should be locked up forever so they don't hurt anyone else.

If these random church shootings continue to increase across the country, I believe that major churches with the money to invest in entrance security and personnel to man them, will do so in order to protect people that are trying to worship their God and facing potential mortal danger in the process. In many ways there has been an ongoing attack on all people of faith since the terrible terrorist attacks took place in the United States on September 11th, 2001. While the history books are filled with atrocities and wars that have been fought over religion, most people that regularly attend church in the United States just want to worship in their own way and they do not have extremist tendencies toward people that don't share their same faith.

My sympathies go out to the people that were killed in today's shooting rampage in Knoxville Tennessee this morning and may God grant peace and forgiveness to the people that suffered so much today because of the mental instability of a complete stranger to most of them.

Title: Another Senseless Crime Knoxville Church Shooting
Written: July 27 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Protecting Valuable Savings Through Money Transfers

Over the past few weeks, many Americans are doing something they once thought to be impossible. They are moving their FDIC savings accounts away from national companies to accounts that pay less interest closer to home. For the past couple of years, large companies like HSBC Direct, ING and E-Trade have offered above average interest rates to customers that wanted to save money and earn additional interest on their basic savings accounts while at the same time having FDIC protection of their deposits.

The reason why some people are choosing to give up an interest rate that is many times higher than what their local bank will pay on a basic savings account is because of what Americans witnessed when the FDIC shut down IndyMac Bank a few weeks ago. As customers lined up by the thousands at IndyMac Bank to withdraw their savings, there were major problems with the way the FDIC viewed certain accounts which made it difficult for some people to get their federally insured money back from that failed institution.

Just image how difficult it might be to get federally insured funds from a bank located in New York City or Los Angeles when the customer is living in the U.S. Heartland? In such an event, there is no way the customer would be able to drive down to a local location and make their case to the FDIC over why they should receive the money that had been deposited in that bank.

Instead, most customers would be at a terrible disadvantage if a major savings bank became insolvent, so to easy the pain of worry – some Americans are transferring funds from higher paying FDIC insured accounts at major national institutions and bring that money back closer to home.

While this transfer of money from huge national banks to federally insured institutions closer to home will cost thousands of Americans high interest on their savings account, in today's shaky banking market – it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the hard earned money they have socked away for years, just in case something major happens in their lives and they come up short of funds in their checking account.

The FDIC made major mistakes in the way it handled the closing of IndyMac Bank and the American people took notice of those shortcomings and many have decided that it would be better to have access to all of their money and to have a local contact if something goes wrong at a bank than to sit and worry about how they will be reimbursed if an FDIC savings account is put into jeopardy by future FDIC closures.

Title: Protecting Valuable Savings Through Money Transfers
Written: July 27 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Saturday, July 26, 2008

747 Almost Crashes After Massive Decompression

Yesterday, as millions of people around the world watched home video taken by a passenger on Qantas Flight 30 as this flight lost cabin pressure after a hole was blown out of the luggage compartment – most of the passengers on board this flight just felt lucky to be live. It is no secret that most people already detest flying these days as prices continue to rise while customer service continues to hit new lows.

Add to the mix of high prices and bad service the potential that some flaw in the design of some aircraft might cause them to start falling apart in mid fight and you have a recipe for an all out meltdown in the airline industry. After this flight landed yesterday, there were countless pictures available on the Internet of the hole that was blown out of the aircraft at almost 30,000 feet.

Since the early days of jet aircraft travel, the monetary minds that be in Hollywood have been making movies about how terrifying it would be for passengers if they were unlucky enough to find themselves on a flight that was going to crash. Back in the 1970's there were a series of movies called 'Airport' with different years attached to them where either through man made causes or some other terrible twist of fate, innocent people found themselves on an airline flight where their very lives would be threatened before the jet is safely brought back down to Earth.

In recent years, Hollywood has taken this flying phobia a step further with new disaster airline movies where either snakes or some other kind of terrible creatures are somehow let lose on passengers during long flights. The people that hate flying the most are people that have a difficult time giving up control over their lives to someone else. Every time another airline incident like the one that happened yesterday on Qantas Flight 30 becomes public – more and more people around the world are going to become more convinced than ever that flying is not right for them.

I am glad that no one was serious hurt on Qantas Flight 30 yesterday and hopefully airline inspectors will get to the bottom of what caused a huge chunk of this big airliner to break off in mid flight. People say that 'anything that does not kill you will only make you stronger' and if that truly is the case, there are several hundred people that are most definitely stronger today because they survived the almost disaster of yesterday on Qantas Flight 30.

Title: 747 Almost Crashes After Massive Decompression
Written: July 26 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gas Prices Down Because Driving Reduced

This week there was some welcome news for people that drive a car, truck or van. The average price of gasoline has gone down by around 10 to 15 cents per gallon in most areas of the country and while prices are still sky high, in my opinion, any kind of relief at the pump is a welcome sign for me.

While there are many reasons why the price of gasoline is going down, the biggest reason is because most people just can't afford to drive as much as they use to so there is more supply of crude oil and gasoline on the market. I have been blaming OPEC for the current high gas prices we have experienced over the past two years because unlike one of that organizations largest member nations, Saudi Arabia, most member nations of OPEC became greedy and decided that it was better for them to cash in on American consumers today rather than use their normal roller coaster ride pricing system which has been their trademark for decades.

In the long run, OPEC's greed will benefit us all because finally the American people and our elected leaders in Washington are focused on taking care of the long term energy needs of this country rather than just adding another band aid fix just to get them through the next election. As gas prices have remained high, more talk has revolved around energy alternative and yes there is really a good chance that offshore oil drilling will once again take place off the coasts of major states like Florida and maybe even California.

For far too long, smart and rich leaders in far away lands have played games with American consumers in order to first stay in power and second to become very wealthy. The old OPEC roller coaster pricing plan was designed to let member nations force crude oil prices to rise and just as they hit new record levels, force them to drop lower again so there would be no political pressure to open up more of Americas vast crude oil reserves and also to slow funding of alternative energy sources.

Finally, the powers that be in OPEC have shot themselves in the foot because of greed. Just like with corrupt American companies of the past, it is greed that eventually drags down even the highest of the mighty in the end. Now the U.S. government and a majority of the American people are on the same page when it comes to finding new sources of energy and also in increasing domestic production of crude oil in the United States. While there will always be a few hold outs on both the far right and left when it comes to petty differences, for the most part – Americans want to see increased domestic drilling and more money spent on alternative energy research, sooner rather than later.

Title: Gas Prices Down Because Driving Reduced
Written: July 25 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cash For Gasoline Less Than Credit Cards

American Express announced today that it was reporting lower than expected earnings because of growing defaults from it's credit card division. At the same time, more and more gas stations are starting to offer something new to their customers that might cause all of us to carry more cash in our wallets.

This new trend, that started in New Jersey and is now spreading around the world, involves gas station owners giving a cash discount to their customers. Unknown to many people, credit card companies as well as banks that issue debit cards charge a small fee to a merchant – in this example gas stations, for each transaction they process.

This fee is usually 2% to 3% of the purchase amount. While most retail items have large profit margins, the same cannot be said for gasoline. Most gas retailers only earn between 6% to 8% margin on gasoline, so if a person uses their credit or debit card to make a purchase of gasoline, then the profit margin of the gas station owner is cut to almost nothing.

In recent weeks, major credit card companies have been rushing to lower their fees to gas stations with the hope of heading off this new trend of people using cash to pay for gasoline instead of making their purchase using a credit card. While banks are currently trying to play catch up with this issue, the idea of giving a cash discount for gas purchases is growing every single day.

Some of you might ask why the gas stations don't instead just tack on a surcharge for using a credit card, rather than offering a cash discount? Well, there is a good reason for that and the reason is it is against the law for most merchants to add a credit card surcharge to purchases because the major banks that issue those cards are pretty good at getting both state and federal lawmakers to help them grow their businesses through favorable legislation.

Now with major banks in financial trouble because they made bad mortgage loans in the past, even more stress will soon be put on their bottom line as consumers start paying cash for gasoline instead of using their credit or debit card. I predict more bad profit news to come for major U.S. banks who for years have become rich by adding small fees to almost every service they offer to customers.

Title: Cash For Gasoline Less Than Credit Cards
Related: Mass Transit - Inflation Rate - Enron Crisis
Written: July 22 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Monday, July 21, 2008

Well Hello Dolly, Tropical Storm Approaches

This morning I was looking at the estimated path of Tropical Storm Dolly, a new storm rolling through the south Atlantic and into the Gulf of Mexico and noticed that it's path is similar to that of Hurricane Dean last year. I remember Hurricane Dean well because the early predictions of it's path were a direct approach to Brownsville.

In the end, those weather predictions turned out to be wrong and instead Hurricane Dean did great damage to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Now in 2008, we have Tropical Storm Dolly heading in the same direction as Dean and I keep asking myself if we are looking for a repeat of last year or will Tropical Storm Dolly instead vier toward Texas and cause damage to the United States?

While no one wants to be in the direct path of a severe tropical storm or hurricane there is a potential benefit from Tropical Storm Dolly to the people of Texas who are suffering through a very dry summer. With a major tropical storm or hurricane there is usually great rainfall potential, even hundreds of miles from where the storm makes landfall. Right now in Texas, most areas need rain as hot temperatures have cause the Earth to bake in many areas.

When Dolly makes landfall it would be better not only for the people that live near the coast of Mexico and Texas but also the people that live further inland if Dolly's strength continues at Tropical Strom strength rather than growing into a hurricane. For years, I have marveled at how much and how far heavy rains continue inland after a strong tropical storm, but with a major hurricane those rains tend to all fall near the coast and usually flood out any land near by.

Right now we should all pray for the people that live in Mexico and on the coast of Texas as Tropical Storm Dolly makes her way ever westward. I hope that no one is killed and that the damages done by Tropical Storm Dolly will be kept to a minimum. However, I do hope that no matter where Dolly makes landfall – much needed rain will fall in the central part of Texas because so far this year it has been one dry summer.

Title: Well Hello Dolly, Tropical Storm Approaches
Related: Category 5 - Perfect Storm - Flash Floods
Written: July 21 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Obama McCain Debate Issues But Not Each Other

While neither Senator Obama or McCain have officially accepted their party's nomination for President, I would have thought that both candidates might have joined in several debates by this time in the campaign, but so far no debates have been scheduled. Senator McCain has been urging Senator Obama to engage him in dozens of town hall style debates between now and election day, but so far Senator Obama has not said yes nor has he said no.

At some future date there will be a few debates between Senator Obama and McCain and more than likely they will end up being boring affairs just like presidential debates have been like for decades. It's usually not the candidates that are boring in these nationwide televised debates, but the format that each candidate must adhere to because of pressure from political supporters and opponents.

Also, nationwide presidential debates are usually moderated by one of the big three broadcast network television anchors which adds even more boredom to presidential debates. It always seems to me when one of the big three broadcast network anchors moderate a presidential debate – those anchors seems to be there more in support of their own egos than to help the average voter learn more about the two candidates.

It has been a long time since the American people have had two presidential candidates that are almost polar opposites on most major issues. While recent presidential elections have shown the vast majority of Americans moving away from liberalism, in 2008 there is a good chance that most Americans will reject conservatism all together because of the poor leadership style of the most conservative GOP President in history, President George W. Bush.

While I do not believe conservatism to be bad or even evil, President Bush has turned the term conservatism into a mistrusted word for millions of Americans that do not understand that it was not conservatism that let them down, but a President that was really only half of a conservative. On social conservative issues President Bush was perfect. However, when it came to fiscal conservative leadership – he was one of the worst conservative leaders in generations.

I look forward to watching Senator McCain and Obama debate on television soon, because unlike previous years I have not made up my mind already on who to vote for. Right now I am strongly leaning toward voting for Obama, but there is one big issue that Obama opposes that I totally support and that issue is offshore oil drilling in the United States. We Americans have a big choice to make this November when we show up to vote. Will it be change that will motivate voters toward Barack Obama or will experience lead John McCain to victory? Only time will tell, but things should get more interesting as this November's election nears.

Title: Obama McCain Debate Issues But Not Each Other
Related: Losing Issue - Media Support - Pickens Plan
Written: July 17 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Obama's Losing Issue Might Sink His Campaign

On most issues, Senator Barack Obama is winning support from most Americans. However, there is one issue where Senator Obama is behind the eight ball and only time will tell if that one single issue could lead to his defeat in November. So what is that issue? It's offshore oil drilling in the United States. Unlike most Republicans that want to see drilling resumed off the U.S. coastline and more government money spent on alternatives – Senator Obama has stayed in lock step with former Vice-President Gore when it comes to placing 'Climate Change' as the most important issues of our time.

This one ultra liberal issues could come back to bite Senator Obama in the butt in upcoming months if the price of gas continue to increase. For far too long, politicians have chosen up sides when it comes to energy policy in the United States and currently it is the Republican Party that seem to have the most moderate position when it comes to solving the problem of high gas prices in the United States.

Rather than appearing moderate in his approach to high gas prices, Senator Barack Obama comes across as an Al Gore liberal that refuses to deal with the problem of too little crude oil and too much demand today as a real issue that is effecting millions of families across the country. Of course, almost everyone would like to see cleaner alternatives to crude oil be developed in the future – but right now most Americans are looking for some relief from sky high gas prices while these alternatives are developed and perfected.

I talk to a bunch of people on a daily basis. Some of those people are conservative, some liberal and few even consider themselves moderates. To a person all of them believe that Senator Barack Obama's opposition to offshore oil drilling in the United States is a major loser of an issue for his campaign going forward. It seems like everyday, Senator Obama goes out of his way to insult voters with his stubborn attitude that offshore oil drilling will not produce any real oil supply for five or more years. Americans know that statement to be an outright exaggeration or worse a lie.

While at the same time some liberal are discouraging additional crude oil discoveries in the United States, some of them are encouraging middle eastern countries to pump more oil. If 'Climate Change' is indeed a legitimate issue, then it doesn't matter where the crude oil comes from because all carbon vapor rises and travels around the world in the jet stream.

While I think Senator Obama would make a good President of the United States, on this one issue of offshore oil drilling – he is wrong and many Americans may hold that against him come election day.

Title: Obama's Losing Issue Might Sink His Campaign
Related: Congress Approval - Ban Lifted - Limbaugh v. Gore
Written: July 17 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Tomato Warning Lifted, FDA Continues Salmonella Search

There was some good news released by the FDA today when they said it was once again safe to eat tomatoes. For millions of Americans, like myself, we had already lifted that tomato ban on ourselves several weeks ago because many of our favorite foods just don't taste right without the good old tomato on them to add that last little bit of flavor.

In recent weeks, the FDA has moved their investigation away from the tomato and onto different kinds of hot peppers as they try to narrow down their search for what caused hundreds of people to become ill with Salmonella poisoning. My guess is that the FDA will never really find the 'smoking gun' of what caused this latest outbreak of Salmonella poisoning, but I sure am glad that the good old fashion tomato is out the the woods when it comes to the blame department.

Shortly after the FDA started talking about tainted tomatoes possibly being the cause of Salmonella poisoning, restaurants both large and small stopped serving tomatoes on their food. Shortly after Burger King stopped serving tomatoes I remember going through their drive through window and ordering a 'Whopper', all the way, and noticing right away that it just did not taste right without a big slice of tomato gracing the top of the burger.

In addition to hamburgers, many other foods that are regularly eaten by Americans were also effected by the restaurants initiated ban on tomatoes. The first two that effected me the most were salads and Taco's. Can anyone really enjoy a salad or a Taco's without fine cut tomatoes sprinkled around the top of each? Maybe some people can, but a salad or a Taco is not complete without small chunks of tomatoes as part of the meal.

Now the tomato has been released from FDA prison to once again brighten the days of people like me that love to eat them. Every time the FDA falsely blames a food for some kind of serious illness, that federal agency loses credibility with the American people. In recent years there have been food scares from spinach to ground beef to tomatoes and with so many new FDA warnings coming out almost on a weekly basis – I would not be surprised if some Americans just start ignoring all of these warnings and by doing so they may be endangering their future health.

Title: Tomato Warning Lifted, FDA Continues Salmonella Search
Related: Weight Loss Surgery - Suicide Rate - Healthy Food Kills
Written: July 17 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Tony Snow's Funeral Was Held Today

Former White House Press Secretary, Fox News political commentator and radio talk show host – Tony Snow was laid to rest after his funeral this morning that was attended by the powerful and not so powerful in Washington D.C.. From regular people that grew to love Tony Snow from his regular appearance on television to the President of the United States, people from far and wide came out to say goodbye to their friend that was killed by cancer in the prime of his life.

Like Tim Russert before him, Tony Snow was not only liked by the millions of people that regularly watched him on television, but he was also respected by his peers not only in the news media – but by the people he worked and competed with on a daily basis. There was something that was just special about Tony Snow's voice that hook me into liking him. Rather than having some kind of deep and controlling voice – instead he had a voice that sounded kind of like mine on a Saturday morning after yelling for my favorite high school football team on Friday night.

When Tony Snow took the job of White House press secretary several years ago, at first I was surprised that he would take a position working for President Bush after he had been critical of many of the positions the Bush administration had taken on some conservative issues in the past. However, Tony Snow moved forward and proved to me and other Americans that he could still maintain his sense of honor about what he thought to be right and still serve the interests of President Bush.

Now Tony Snow is dead from the ravages of cancer, just like so many other famous and regular people around the world. I know that great minds are working on new ideas to rid this world of cancer, but I can't help but say that I wish they would hurry up before more good men and women like Tony Snow and my father are killed by this dreaded disease. As a young boy I was exposed to the downside of cancer when my uncle died at an early age from sinus cancer which spread to his brain. My uncle and parents were only in their mid 30's when my uncle died while I was not even a teenager yet.

Through the rest of my life I have watched close friends and family members be killing in what I regard as a slow death torturer because of various types of cancer. While Hospice and other wonderful organization have made the process of dying from cancer more bearable in recent years, from a pain standpoint. There is still that indignity factor of watching a once strong and vital person lose weight until they are little more than a skeleton before cancer finally takes their life for good.

I am praying for Tony Snow's family and for all the people that Tony effected in his short life. He will surely be missed by millions.

Title: Tony Snow's Funeral Was Held Today
Related: Tony Snow Dies - Asbestos Cancer - Vitamin D
Written: July 17 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Home Construction Down As Housing Crisis Continues

There was more bad news released today in the struggling U.S. home market. It came as no surprise to me that new home construction has dipped again to a multi-year low as both new and existing homes remain on the market for months, unsold, because few banks are interested in making mortgage loans at this time. All of this bad news in the real estate market has the effect of creating a semi-state of panic in some Americans that have little savings to fall back on and many of whom own a home that they could not sell right new if they wanted to.

The real estate market has moved from a sellers market to one where buyers are controlling the price over the past few months. So, if a person has a large amount of cash and wants to buy a home – right now is a perfect time for them to purchase. However, if a person bought their new home recently – they will find it next to impossible to sell that home and recover the initial investment.

To make matters worst, millions of Americans were suckered into buying their new home, by the high pressure tactics of some banks and mortgage brokers, using an ARM mortgage instead of one that had a fixed interest rate for 15 or 30 years. For many Americans their initial low interest ARM rate is about to expire and many people are finding their month mortgage payment going up by $500 per month or more.

There is another group of people that are being hurt badly because the U.S. housing market is in the dumps and those people are the construction workers that make their living building new homes and businesses. As new home sales slump, more men and women that choose construction work as their profession are finding it difficult to find and maintain employment in this ever slumping housing market. It's not just the construction workers that are in trouble right now because of the slow real estate market, but also their employers will soon go out of business if new construction projects dry up.

If you want to see what is really going on the in the home construction business, just keep track of the daily stock trends for giant retail stores, like Home Depot and Lowe's, that make most of their profits on new home construction and the remodeling of existing homes. When the U.S. real estate market suffers because of slow new home construction – all of us in one way or another suffer right along side the people on the front lines, construction workers.

Title: Home Construction Down As Housing Crisis Continues
Related: Hard To Get Mortgage - House Flipping - Foreclosures High
Written: July 17 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Congress Approval Rating Approaches 0%

The current public approval rating of Congress is in single digits and headed fast toward 0%. One might look at the approval rating of a democrat controlled Congress and say that the Republicans will most certainly win more seats in November when the next election is held. However, the disapproval rating of Congress is not a partisan issue – but one where most people in the United States of America are blaming both political party's equally for not doing the right thing when it comes to protecting this country.

At the top of the list of why Congress is getting such low public approval ratings is in their inaction when it comes to solving Americas energy needs both now and in the future. While the GOP argument that we can drill our way out of this current problem is not totally believed by the American people – the democratic concern that Global Warming will result in the end of this world as we know it is even worse. Like always, Democrats and Republicans are lining up on opposite sides of this issue – which means in the end nothing is getting done.

Everyday I turn on my television set and watch the latest news from CNN, MSNBC and Fox News to see happy Members of Congress they are peddling their own brand of crazy talk about what is need to solve Americas energy problems. Most Americans know what the solution to our energy problems involve, but neither political party has caught up with the average American when it comes to what the right thing to do, is. Less than 50% of the American people are ideologues that put their own political religion ahead of what is in the best interest of this country. However, it is the political ideologues that give the most money to political campaigns and there in we find the problem.

American politicians have become little more than a group of reelection con artist that sell their votes to the highest bidder in order to get reelected. What is in the best interest of the United States has taken a back seat to what is in their own personal political interest. While most people in the mainstream media seem to believe that the United States of America is best lead by a strong President of the United States – I believe that real leadership begins in the U.S. House of Representatives because those elected individuals are forced to remain close to the voters back home in order to get reelected to their office every two years.

While it is highly likely that the Democrats will pick up additional seats in the 2008 elections in Congress, in no way should that victory be considered a vote of confidence from the American people. Just because Americans consider Democrats to be the lessor or two evils does not mean that they are really that excited by the leadership skills of Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. The real test of democratic leadership in the Congress will only happen if they once and for all ditch the idea that 'Climate Change' is going to be the death of us all and finally come up with realistic solutions to the energy problems that are driving average Americans to the edge of bankruptcy.

Title: Congress Approval Rating Approaches 0%
Related: Inflation Rate - Offshore Drilling - Out Of Touch
Written: July 16 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Media Supports Obama On International Trip

Soon, presidential candidate Barack Obama will make an overseas trip to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Traveling along with Senator Obama will be the big names in broadcast news from ABC, CBS and NBC. Not long ago, Senator John McCain also made a trip to foreign locations, but none of the current heavy weights in broadcast news decided to go along with him so they could do an interview with McCain in some far away land.

Of course, conservative commentators, especially on talk radio are making a big deal about this double standard in the mainstream media – but really what else is new? Everyone in the United States already knows that the mainstream network newscasts are liberally slanted in the same way they have been for years. In my opinion, most mainstream media outlets take themselves way too seriously and the people on talk radio that try and take them to task for their liberal slants should look in the mirror before they start casting stones.

The likes of Rush Limbaugh and others that dominate the AM radio dial from coast to cost are always championing conservative causes and candidates without giving equal time to their liberal opponents. Why is it such a crime for ABC, CBS and NBC to support liberal candidates like Barack Obama while at the same time ignoring Senator McCain? From my point of view, there is an equal and balanced amount of conservative and liberal news coverage in the United States. If liberals want to get their news from the big three broadcast networks, what's wrong with that picture? Nothing, as long as conservatives can turn on their radios each day and receive right leaning news from conservative talk radio.

For far too long, Rush Limbaugh has made it his mission in life to criticize the powers that be in broadcast network news, while at the same time using his nationwide radio show that reaches almost as many people as the big three broadcast network newscast combined to deliver his brand of conservatism. Where is the unfairness in news coverage here against conservatives? I don't think there is unfair coverage against conservatives anymore because they have created their own brand of news coverage with AM talk radio which has more than balanced out the liberal biases of ABC, CBS and NBC.

At one point in time there was a big liberal media advantage in the United States, but those days are long gone. In the process, Rush Limbaugh has become the voice of conservative Americans with a daily audience that approaches 25 million Americans. Comparing the radio audience of Rush Limbaugh against any of the top three broadcast network evening newscasts would show that Limbaugh defeats them soundly every single day.

So enough of this liberal biases talk, Rush, because over your career you have become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams by belittling the liberal slant of NBC, CBS and NBC – but in the process you have also become a legend in the broadcasting world.

Title: Media Supports Obama On International Trip
Related: Terri Schiavo - Obama/Jackson - Gay Issues
Written: July 16 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

FDIC 90 Problem Banks Comment Was A Mistake

In the aftermath of the closing of IndyMac Bank last Friday, the FDIC told reporters that it had a list of 90 problem banks in the United States that they were keeping a close eye on because of losses in the sub-prime leading market. Of course, anyone with any real experience dealing with the mainstream news media would know that once a statement like that was made it would become the mission in life of some reporters to find out what the names were of the those 90 problem banks.

In hindsight, I'm sure top FDIC officials wish they had not made that '90 problem banks' comment, but they did and they are also paying the consequences today because almost everyone in America wants to know the names of those 90 banks. The problem with releasing the names of the 90 problem banks is that like IndyMac Bank, once the public discovers that a bank is in financial difficulty – customers of those banks will get panicked and make a run on those other 90 banks in the same way IndyMac Bank saw a run on the bank last week.

What bothers me more than there being another 90 banks that could be facing the same fate as IndyMac Bank is the fact that this list of 90 problem banks was created before IndyMac Bank was closed last Friday and at the time of the FDIC closure the IndyMac Bank, it was not on the list of the top 90 problem banks. While I am just guessing, more than likely there are many more than 90 problem banks that are at risk of becoming insolvent simply because IndyMac Bank had problems that the FDIC did not even know about until the middle part of last week.

Hopefully, in future bank closures the FDIC will wise up and not make a statement like admitting there were '90 problem banks' unless they are prepared to give the names of those banks to the media and the American people. Like everything else in the United States that is secret, someone – somewhere will eventually leak the names of those FDIC 90 problem banks to the press and when that happens there will be a run on those banks as well. This future problem could have been prevented if the FDIC would have kept it's mouth shut about these other problem banks in the first place, but they did not and as a result the FDIC fund will eventually have to pay out billions of extra dollars because of this slip of the tongue mistake.

Title: FDIC 90 Problem Banks Comment Was A Mistake
Related: Money Missing - IndyMac Problems - Hoarding Money
Written: July 16 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Atkins Diet Healthy According To New Study

In a controlled group of subjects in Israel, individuals were tested for two years to see what effect the three major weight loss diets had not only on their weight, but also these people were checked to see how blood levels of cholesterol were effected by each diet. The three diets that were tested were 'The Atkins Diet', the 'Mediterranean Diet' and a low fat diet that focused on reducing fat grams.

While all three diet plans were successful at helping participants lose weight, the 'Atkins Diet' was the most effective at improving the cholesterol numbers of the people that took part in that diet. For years, I have heard from people that have been on the Atkins Diet say that after being on the Atkins program for several months, that their cholesterol numbers had also improved. Of course, this new research will once again fly in the face of some in the medical community that will refuse to believe that a high protein and fat diet can be health for human beings.

For far too long, extremist in the diet industry have effected the way U.S. dietitians do their jobs. Almost all major dietitians support a vegetarian lifestyle and in one way or another down the eating of Red Meat. This extremist approach to helping Americans live a healthier life is going to suffer because of this new Israeli research study. Rather than basing dieting decisions on rock solid science – many U.S. dietitians look at eating as more of a religious experience to remove meat and dairy from our diets than anything else.

At last, there is some hard science to prove that the Atkins Diet is not only effective at helping people lose weight, but it is equally effective in helping Americans reduce their exposer to deadly heart disease that is cause by high cholesterol. I once tried the Atkins Diet and failed miserably because of my addiction to bread. While many people are able to get past this addiction over time, for me personally it became a struggle I was not up to at the time. I still remember being able to smell a bread truck from a mile away while participating on the Atkins Diet.

While the Atkins Diet is not my solution for weight loss, at least the people that are able to control their cravings for high carbohydrate foods can at least sleep well at night now knowing that their arteries and heart are not being damaged by all of that protein and fat. Get ready though, because as soon as tomorrow morning the radical diet movement that believes the eating of any kind of meat to be wrong will be on every morning show to denounce these scientific results with late night cooked up propaganda to support their rebuttal to this new research study.

Title: Atkins Diet Healthy According To New Study
Related: Tomatoes Removed - Low Potassium - Alli Pill
Written: July 16 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Money Missing From Some IndyMac Bank Accounts

This afternoon I listened to a man that was being interviewed on the Fox News Channel. This man had $180,000 deposited in IndyMac Bank, but when he showed up to withdraw his money after the FDIC took over the bank last week, his account balance only showed $100,000. Apparently, this man is not alone in discovering that some of his money has simply vanished from his bank account.

Without a doubt, the FDIC has poorly handled their take over of IndyMac Bank and in the process they have done the exact opposite of what they were designed to do and that is to provide assurance to customers that their deposits are safe and secure. With the added news this afternoon that the FBI is investigating IndyMac Bank for possible fraud, will add even more fuel to the fire when it comes to creating uncertainly and fear in the hearts and minds of IndyMac Bank customers.

On one hand, I hope that the FDIC learns lessons from their mistakes during the closing of IndyMac Bank and when they are forced to close other banks in the future - I hope they will not make the same mistakes, again. On the other hand, someone in Washington D.C. must get a handle on this out-of-control mess U.S. banks find themselves in today and provide some real answers to the question of why so many well known banks were making mortgage loans to people that could not qualify for them?

There is no excuse for the FDIC to not have current account information on customers of IndyMac Bank. Thousands of IndyMac Bank customers have been forced to stand in long lines, enduring hot temperatures just to get into the bank to withdraw their money. Then once inside, the FDIC is showing that they have less money in their accounts they they actually have on deposit. Rather than providing for the safety and security of customers deposits, the FDIC has made the problems at IndyMac Bank worse by being ill prepared to deal with the failure of such a large financial institution.

Hopefully, in the days and weeks to come – everyone that had money in IndyMac Bank will get their money back. However, considering how poorly the FDIC has handled the switch over from IndyMac Bank management to federal control – I consider it unlikely that anyone would want to voluntarily maintain a bank account at IndyMac. In the first few hours after the FDIC shut down IndyMac Bank they said they wanted to find a buyer for that bank as soon as possible. However, considering how bad the FDIC has acted with the customers of this bank – my guess is that there are fewer potential buyers today than there would have been last Friday.

Title: Money Missing From Some IndyMac Bank Accounts
Related: FBI Investigates - Bank Problems - Too Big To Fail
Written: July 16 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

FBI Investigates Indymac Bank For Potential Fraud

Just as I suspected yesterday when I wrote a story comparing the current problems in the financial sector with the previous corruption of Enron, today the FBI said they were investigating Indymac Bank for potential fraud in the way it made home loans to people that were not credit qualified. Almost every single time a huge public company fails, it is because someone high up in that company does something that is illegal.

While no charges have yet to be filed against top management of Indmac Bank, you can bet that there will be charges filed in the future and when all the dust settles there will be some big named millionaires that will be spending time in federal court answering for the bad choices that they made while running Indymac Bank. I don't think this issues is going to stop at Indymac Bank, instead I would not be surprise to see dozens of CEO's of major U.S. banks being charged with a crime because of the current meltdown in the mortgage market.

The problems with illegal activity in the banking sector are just the latest problem that are facing every company on Wall Street. White collar crimes involving huge sums of money have always been a problem in corporate America where some company leaders find it just too easy to steal money from the companies that they work for. Instead of feeling blessed to have a multi million dollar salary and bonus plan with a company, some CEO's plot to steal even more money from the companies they are in charge of running.

It is far too early to really know for sure if top officials at Indymac Bank broke the law and if those illegal activities lead to the demise of the bank. However, it is not hard for me to believe that some people at the very top of Indymac Bank not only knew that the mortgage loans they were making were no good and would eventually default – but in some way I believe they personally profited by making bad loans which eventually doomed Indymac Bank to financial failure.

Keep a close eye on the current FBI investigation of top officials at Indymac Bank because there will most likely be a bigger story to come in this bank failure than just bad luck when it came to making mortgage loans. Right now there is a bunch of smoke surrounding the failure of Indymac Bank, but soon there will probably be a huge fire that is exposed which involved some type of illegal activity by some people at the very top of the food chain.

Title: FBI Investigates Indymac Bank For Potential Fraud
Related: Indymac Problems - Financial Crisis - $100,000 Limit
Written: July 16 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Mass Transit Growing By Leaps and Bounds

As the U.S. economy continues to slow because of high gas prices, one business is growing quickly. Mass transit, the little talked about option that until recently hardly anyone used is growing by leaps and bounds as gas prices continue to rise. Locally for me, my city has offered bus service for decades and until the past year it was very common to see those city buses running up and down the road with only one or two riders on board.

In recent weeks, I have noticed that those once vacant buses are now filled with riders and the main reason more people are taking mass transit is because it just cost too much money to fill their own cars with gas. It's not just were I live that mass transit has been expanding. All over the United States, thousands of people that once would have never considered parking their car and taking a bus or train to work are now joining the mass transit revolution.

News reports today suggest that medium to major sized cities are preparing to expand the numbers of buses and trains that are available to transport riders either to and from work or to malls and supermarkets for shopping. There was a bit of good news today when crude oil prices dipped because of weakening demand, but in my opinion today's drop in crude oil prices will not hold and before long they will start rising once again.

Even friends and associates of mine have considered a city bus as a possible means of getting to and from work in the future. Other friends have been talking about buying Mopeds and Motorcycles as well in an effort to save as much gas as possible as prices continue to rise. If something is not done about the high price of gasoline soon, the entire United States of America is going to look very different in the future. While some environmentalist might like the look of a energy poor U.S., the rest of us are going to be hurt badly.

While our 'do nothing' government continues to blame each other for this energy crisis instead of working together for a solution, the rest of us will be forced to look for alternatives to our cars and trucks when it comes to commuting to work or when going out for a day of shopping. For millions of people, deciding to take a city bus or train might be a viable option, while other people will decide that a Moped or Motorcycle best suits their transportation needs. Whether it be mass transit or a two wheeled alternative to the family car, no one wants to make these changes – but they are instead being forced to make them because gasoline is too expensive to buy, anymore.

Title: Mass Transit Growing By Leaps and Bounds
Related: Moped Wanted - RVs Selling Well - $6 Per Gallon
Written: July 16 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Inflation Rate Rising Along With Gas Prices

We all knew that more bad news was coming and today we got hit right in the face with the second of the one two punch of high energy prices. As expected, the U.S. inflation rate is climbing because it is costing more for retailers to deliver their products to retail locations around the country. Added to the already high prices we are all paying to fuel our vehicles, now everything from groceries to an iPod at Walmart will be going up because these products are being delivery by 18 wheeler trucks that burn diesel fuel and that fuel is currently costing around $5 per gallon.

Just yesterday, President Bush said that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are still sound. While the President might just be trying to calm the fears of American consumers – in reality there is nothing sound about the foundation of the U.S. economy. To me, President Bush has lived in Washington for too long where he has traveled at government expense and even ate food paid for by the U.S. taxpayer. Even the dumbest person on the street understands that there are problems with the foundation of the U.S. economy.

The first issue effecting the U.S. economy is a problem President Bush helped to create when he allowed Congress to go on a spending spree for the past four years without a single veto until recently. The U.S. federal government is in so much debt right now because of overspending, it would take decades to pay off our national debt even if the Congress and President started aggressive spending cuts today. When listening to President Bush downplay the importance of what is happening in the United States today, I don't understand how one man could have gotten so out-of-touch with his own country in such a short period of time.

While the mortgage crisis and sky high gas prices have caused all of us pain over the past couple of years, a future of ever rising inflation is the finally step in a recession that will eventually let the wind out of the sails when it comes to an expanding economy. As inflation rises, average worker wages will remain stagnant. What this means to the rest of us is this: everything we buy whether to eat or to use around the house will be increasing in price. However, our wages will not be going up fast enough to keep up with the cost of everything else – so in the end the economy will fall into a deep recession.

While President Bush has failed at almost everything he has tried to do as our leader. There is one area where he has succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. In only eight short years, President Bush has all but destroyed the Republican Party as rank and file GOP voters have left the party because of reckless spending by Congress which was condoned by President Bush. It will take decades for the GOP to once again be a national political party and when that time comes it will look entirely different than it looks today.

Title: Inflation Rate Rising Along With Gas Prices
Related: Recession Survivable - Bear Market - Best Investments
Written: July 16 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

So Long Gill Grissom, Petersen Leaves CSI

Back in the year 2000, CBS television was struggling in the ratings until they found two shows that took their network from the Abyss to television Gold. The first show they found that provided them with ratings success was a reality show called 'Survivor' and the second of was the the best produced television show of all time called 'CSI'. Today, it was announced that William Petersen (Gill Grissom) will be leave 'CSI' during the first part of this season.

While I am sad that Petersen is leaving 'CSI' his footprint will still be on the show because he will continue as an executive producer. Put frankly, I am not a big prime-time television fan and I spend only a few short hours per week watching regular programming on the major four broadcast networks. That said, 'CSI' is one of the shows I like to watch and the main reason I enjoy that show so much is because of it's lead character Gill Grissom.

I guess I should have seen this departure coming a couple of years ago when 'CSI' decided to break up Grissom's team and place some of them on the day shift in the show. Also, during that same time period Gill Grissom decided to just take off for several episodes and then return to a Las Vegas crime lab that looked totally different than when he left.

Now, Petersen is leaving his regular role on 'CSI' and I keep asking myself if this long time hit of a show can make it without Gill Grissom around to added his whit and sometimes dark humored wisecracks at the beginning of each episode? CSI producers say that the Grissom's character will return from time to time, but all that really means to me is that they are not going to kill off Petersen's character – but instead send him off to some far away place to seldom be seen again.

It is not uncommon for quality actors like William Petersen to want to leave a long running television show because of other acting opportunities that present themselves over time. Time will tell if 'CSI' will survive without Grissom at the helm. My guess is that the show will still survive, but do so with lower ratings in the future. So from this one blogger in the Heartland of America – 'Goodbye Gill Grissom' you will be missed by millions of people that loved to watch CSI because you were on the show.

Title: So Long Gill Grissom, Petersen Leaves CSI
Related: Criminals Watching - Scott Peterson - Steve Fossett
Written: July 16 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Enron Foretold Crisis On Wall Street, Economy

Several years ago when news of Enron's criminal behavior as a large U.S. publicly held company came to light, more of us should have taken notice that if a huge company like Enron was conducting it's financial affairs in such a reckless manner – that most certainly other major companies were doing the same thing, but as of yet had not been caught. The reason I bring up Enron at this late date is because many of the sneaky tactics that Enron and other major companies routinely use to pump up their profits so as not be get punished by Wall Street when their quarterly numbers are released are still happening.

For far too long, public companies in the United States have not been regulated correctly and that oversight by the SEC and other government regulators is leading this country to the brink of future financial failure. In no other country in the world is it easier for a new company to succeed than in the United States. However, in no other country in the world is it easier for a publicly traded company to 'cook the books' either. In my view, Enron foretold the problems we are all seeing on Wall Street today, but few of us were willing to take note at the time.

Yes, the struggling U.S. economy and high gas prices are taking their toll on Wall Street, but under all of the current news headlines – there are still major problems with how major publicly traded companies are held to account when they do not shoot straight with their stockholders and public regulators. It is far too easy for billion dollar companies and million dollar CEO's to game the system when it comes to reporting their actual profit and loss statements at the end of each quarter.

While Enron went above and beyond the call of duty with it's sham companies in overseas locations, similar activities are most likely happening today in large companies for the simple reason that federal regulators are either asleep at the wheel when it comes to doing their job or they have become too cozy with the CEO's of major public companies that they are in charge of regulating. While as a rule I oppose meaningless and wasteful federal regulation on most businesses, when it comes to publicly traded companies – the more regulation the better.

While millions of Americans watch their retirement savings going down by the day as Wall Street continues into it's Bear Market. The time has come for the federal government to clean up Wall Street once and for all which will help guard trillions of dollars worth of retirement savings and help all Americans not end up like the former employees of Enron.

Title: Enron Foretold Crisis On Wall Street, Economy
Written: July 15 2008
Related: Fed Like Enron - Ken Lay Greed - Lay/Skilling Guilty
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Is Bush Worst President In History?

President Bush suggested today in a news conference that Americans should all just 'take a deep breath' and relax when it comes to the slowing American economy. Well excuse me, Mr. President – but the do nothing nature of your administration when it came to heading off the mortgage crisis and high gas prices before they started hurting us, is part of the reason we are in this mess to begin with.

Right now, Americans are more concerned about their jobs, homes and yes even the very money they have on deposit in federally insured bank accounts because the Bush administration has neglected the U.S. economy and ignored the greed of big businesses for almost eight years now. From President Bush's point of view, the only thing a President needs to do to keep the U.S. economy rolling right along is to continue to provide tax cuts.

While it is very unusual for a President of the United States to be weak on both foreign policy and domestic issues. President Bush has found ways to mess up not only U.S. foreign policy around the world, but destroy the American economy, as well. I laughed when some people were claiming a couple of years ago that President George W. Bush was the worst President in U.S. history. Unfortunately, I'm not laughing anymore and neither are millions of other Republicans that once held President Bush in high esteem only to be disappointed by his choices as time went by.

While I am not ready to admit that President George W. Bush is the worst President in American history, I will say this – President Bush is the most out-of-touch President in my lifetime. I have no doubt that in the first few years after President Bush leaves office, there will be stories of some terrible criminal behavior that was not only condoned by President Bush, but encouraged. While I at first thought it to be unlikely that President Bush would encourage illegal activities, I now believe that President Bush's personality is based around 'the ends justify the means', which tells me that there have been some pretty terrible things done to people around the world in the name of U.S. national security.

It's sad to admit now that I voted for President Bush in 2000 and in 2004. Two votes I wish I could take back now with the benefit of hindsight. Over the past eight years, President Bush has not only turned me against his presidency – but also the Republican Party which I proudly admitted to be a member of, for all of my adult life.

Title: Is Bush Worst President In History?
Related: Out Of Touch - Bombing Iran - Iraq Timetables
Written: July 15 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

More Cutbacks At GM, Will They Survive?

With all the other bad news that it being reported these day, some of you might have missed the story this morning that General Motors (GM) is once again cutting back on production and jobs. How GM and Ford are going to survive this recession is something I do not understand, but company leaders at both GM and Ford are trying every known financial trick in the book to keep their companies afloat.

For almost two years it has been clear that both GM and Ford have been in a financial mess after decades of losing market share to Toyota and Honda. Rather than focusing on the quality of their vehicles to bring customers back to buy a car or truck from them again – GM and Ford used gimmicks like big discounts, rebates and low interest rates to sell their vehicles. This practice not long lowered the price of their vehicles to the consumer, but it also lower the value of their brand name as well.

Finally, both GM and Ford have been working hard to do the right thing – but it is becoming more clear everyday that their efforts are coming too little and too late to save them. This kind of massive turn around would be difficult in good economic times, but during a recession – it is impossible to turn around a huge company like GM or Ford. I look for more layoffs and increased pressure on GM and Ford to sell to a foreign auto company to gain traction in the months ahead.

GM is a good example to use when it comes to showing what tricks and other sleazy marketing techniques can do to a large company. In recent years, large retailers like Walmart have all but ended the need for branding of products because they have changed the way American products are sold from people spending a little bit extra for quality to a philosophy of whatever is the least expensive will do.

While that price based sales system has worked well for Walmart, in the automobile business it is too short sighted because most people own a car three to five years before they buy another one. During that period of time if a customers car or truck spends too much time in the repair shop – they are certain to not return and buy another car from that same company the next time.

From a time when I was young where people said, 'what's good for General Motors, is good for the country' till today when GM is on the verge of bankruptcy – so much has changed at this once giant American success story of a business. I do not think that GM will survive into the future without being purchased by a foreign automobile company. When that happens not only will GM die from a company I have grown to love over the years, but a big part of United States history will die with it.

Title: More Cutbacks At GM, Will They Survive?
Related: Electric Cars - SUV Graveyard - Hummer Drags GM Down
Written: July 15 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Monday, July 14, 2008

Indymac Bank Problems Caught FDIC By Surprise

While the FDIC may have had no choice when they closed down Indymac Bank on Friday, they most certainly should have had better procedures in place to help customers feel more comfortable in leaving their money in that bank into the future. Today, long lines were seen at many Indymac Bank locations as thousands of people showed up to withdraw all of their money from that financial institution. Over the weekend, the FDIC told customers of Indymac Bank that their money would be available via ATM machines – but some customers have complained that some ATM's would not give them their account balance.

When a customer uses an ATM machine to withdraw money from their bank account, they are limited to only a few hundred dollars per business day – so hundreds if not thousands of Indymac Bank customers did not really have access to their money the way the FDIC told them they would. In the long lines today to withdraw all of their money from Indymac Bank were customers that had more money in that bank than was insured by the FDIC. In a surprise move, the FDIC was allowing customers to withdraw the $100,000 that was federally insured plus 50% of their balance that was over $100,000. That move surprised me because I was under the impression that the FDIC would limit it's payouts to $100,000 for individual accounts and $250,000 for retirement accounts.

From what I was able to learn today, customers of Indymac Bank will have to take a wait and see position to find out if they will eventually get all of their money back that was on deposit. As I speculated yesterday, thousands of Americans that had money in excess of the $100,000 FDIC insured funds limit were busy today transferring money via bank accounts to make sure that their money was safe in case their own bank fell into insolvency next. All over the news today, the mainstream media has turned this current U.S. financial crisis into some kind of sick game where they are speculating and placing odds on which major bank will be next to be taken over by the FDIC.

In my opinion, only a fool would leave more than $100,000 in any one bank these days considering that until late last week – the FDIC admits it did not know there was a major problem at Indymac Bank. Over the weekend, the federal government in the form of the FDIC said that there were 90 U.S. banks that they were keeping a close eye on because of the current mortgage crisis. However, when asked today if Indymac Bank was on that list of 90 potentially troubled financial institutions, the FDIC was forced to say no.

It only makes common sense that if the FDIC did not see the problems at Indymac Bank until the last minute, that there is a big possibility that there are many more than 90 banks that could be in financial trouble right now and more potentially bad news will still be to come.

Title: Indymac Bank Problems Caught FDIC By Surprise
Related: Financial Crisis - FDIC Limit Raised - Too Big To Fail
Written: July 14 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report

Hard To Get A Mortgage Loan Today

Yesterday, I talked to my sister who lives in another city and works for a large title company. Our conversation eventually got around to the struggling U.S. economy and how the housing market is leading the country ever deeper into recession. My sister told me that the closers at the title company where she works are getting very frustrated because most mortgage lenders do not want to make home loans anymore. While some people still do get approved for a home mortgage, most people are put through so many hoops while trying to get a loan that many of them just give up.

Like with most other things in this country the housing market has gone from boom to bust in a short period of time and the main reason why it is so hard to get a mortgage today is because major banks and other mortgage lenders lowered their standards and gave home mortgages to people that should not have qualified. Now good and honest people are finding it hard to get a mortgage not because of anything they did wrong, but instead they are being punished because of the actions of 'get rich quick' mortgage brokers who banked millions of dollars in commissions while at the same time driving major U.S. banks to the brink of bankruptcy.

My sister told me that some of the questions and requests that are being made by banks today toward potential home buyers are down right silly. Such as, one recent customer was asked to provide a copy of receipts for tuition and a college diploma to prove they would in school for the last four years and not just living at home without earning an income. What is happening in the home loan market today is that the bad actions of banks, brokers and consumers in the past are making it hard on honest people to find and get financed for a home mortgage today.

To make matters worse, the U.S. Federal Reserve tightened bank regulation today and that step will make it even harder for job and credit qualified potential home owners to get financing for home ownership in the future. No matter what the federal government does or does not do when it comes to trying to repair the broken mortgage lending market, the unmistakable fact is that millions of Americans that want to buy a home this year will get turned down, while millions more Americans will find it impossible to sell their current home because there is too little money in the mortgage lending market to support a future buyer of their property.

Now would be a great time to own ones home free and clear of a mortgage. Unfortunately, there are few people that actually hold the deed to their home – which means that most people will be forced to sweat out all of these mortgage loan problems over the next few years. Right now only the bravest or possibly the craziest people on Earth are looking to purchase a home with new mortgage financing. Of course, if a person has cash to buy a new home and a time window of at least five or ten years to hold onto that property. Now, might just be the best time for them to buy because even though the real estate market looks bleak right now, it will recover in the future.

Title: Hard To Get A Mortgage Loan Today
Related: Too Big To Fail? - Home For Sale Signs - Bank Closures
Written: July 14 2008
2005-2008 © Hutch Report
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