Chicago Tribune Company To File For Bankruptcy?

The past week has been a tough one for the newspaper industry.  The news this week of the financial turmoil for papers across the nation was upsetting for those of us who are faithful readers of the daily printed page.  Tonight comes the latest shocker….and it is a big one.  The rumor that perhaps the Tribune Company might file for bankruptcy.

Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co.is working with bankruptcy advisers at investment bank Lazard and law firm Sidley Austin to weigh its financial options, sources said Sunday.

“It’s an uncertain and difficult environment,” Tribune Co. spokesman Gary Weitman said Sunday night. “We haven’t made any decision. We’re looking at all of our options.”

Tribune Co. has been heavily leveraged since taken private last December by billionaire investor Sam Zell, and has suffered in the interim from the industry-wide economic strain of declines in advertising revenue.

Somalia Another Example Of Failed Bush Foreign Policy

I sense that some of my conservative readers think I go out of my way to frustrate or irritate them when it comes to my views on either the Middle East, or the followers of Islam around the world.  While I write and post exactly how I feel, I have for a long time concluded that the anger some have with me is more a case of their disgust over the misguided policies from a conservative White House that are now biting the world.

The latest such example is Somalia.

I strongly felt that when the proxy war started roughly two years ago in Somalia that it was a wrong-headed move by American foreign policy planners.  To use Ethiopian forces to remove an Islamic movement that had governed with some effectiveness in that long blighted land was a short-sighted goal.  But President Bush felt that any Islamic government in Somalia had to be bad.  Bush had no ability to reason that working with more moderate elements within the  fundamentalist end of Islam might be in our long-term interests.  There is a large gap between the Islamists that were in Somalia  in 2006, a group that had found power and some high degree of legitimacy, versus the seperate group of Islamists that are now threatening to take over that war ravaged country.  Therein lies the whole problem with the policy that President Bush used in Somalia.

Today the New York Times echoes much of this argument, while outlining the obvious end result.  Utter chaos in Somalia, and a place where Islamists who harbor a distorted view of the Koran can work over-time to create plots and plans for others.  Not a scenario that we want.  But thanks to President Bush we now have.

So when my conservative readers get miffed at me, let me just say I did not create the policies I muse about.  However their votes for George Bush, in an indirect way, did.

In 2006, Islamist troops teamed up with clan elders and businessmen to drive out the warlords who had been preying upon Somalia’s people since the central government first collapsed in 1991. The six months the Islamists ruled Mogadishu turned out to be one of the most peaceful periods in modern Somali history.

But today’s Islamists are a harder, more brutal group than the ones who were ousted by an Ethiopian invasion, backed by the United States, in late 2006. The old guard included many moderates, but those who tried to work with the transitional government mostly failed, leaving them weak and marginalized, and removing a mitigating influence on the die-hard insurgents.

On top of that, the unpopular and bloody Ethiopian military operations over the past two years have radicalized many Somalis and sent hundreds of unemployed young men — most of whom have never gone to school, never been part of a functioning society and never had much of a chance to do anything but shoulder a gun — into the arms of militant Islamic groups.

The most militant group is the Shabab, a multiclan insurgent force that the United States classifies as a terrorist organization. Just a few weeks ago, the Shabab kidnapped a man it accused of being a spy and slowly sawed off his head with a dull knife, videotaping the whole episode.

Somalia is nearly 100 percent Muslim, but most Somalis are moderate Muslims. Many analysts expect that the militant Islamic wave will soon crest because Somalis will inevitably chafe under strict Islamist law, especially when the Islamists try to take away their beloved khat, the ubiquitous, mildly stimulating leaf that Somalis chew like bubble gum.

Then, many analysts say, the Islamist groups could slug it out among themselves, with Ethiopia and other neighboring countries backing rival factions, and with clan warlords jumping in. Osman Mohamed Abdi, vice chairman of the Somali Youth Development Network, a nonprofit group in Mogadishu, called this possibility the “worst man-made catastrophe.”

Chris Matthews Not Running For U.S. Senate

I really wanted Chris Matthews in the U.S. Senate.  I also knew I would miss him on “Hardball”, the fantastic MSNBC program where I love to get his take on the issues of the day.

The news this morning is that he has signed a long-term contract with MSNBC, and will be staying on as host of the fast-paced and insightful political hour each weekday.  No Senate career for Chris.  But we still have him as a national voice, and that matters.

A formal announcement of the new contract will come later this week.

Workers At Republic Windows Show Spunk As They Fight Corporate Wrong

The story from north Chicago is nothing short of inspiring.  And if the workers succeed with their demands during the sit-in at Republic Windows, it will be interesting to see what the ripple effect will have in others places where workers are taken advantage of by corporate greed and short-sighted financial institutions.

Some 260 workers found out Friday that their jobs were done…over…finished…and were asked to exit the window and door business.  Federal law says that 60 days notice must be issued prior to a closing.  In addition the union is questioning why after the federal bailout the bank dealing with the company cancelled their line of credit.

Workers need to be more vigilant about their rights.  This is an example of the spunk and spine that I applaud.  We should all be with the workers in spirit as they continue their sit-in at Republic Windows.

Carrying signs that read “Bank of America: Don’t Steal Christmas,” workers at a North Side manufacturer continued their protest Saturday after the company shut its doors on three days’ notice because the bank canceled its line of credit.

Republic Windows & Doors closed Friday after being in business since 1965. Members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, which represents 260 workers at the company’s Goose Island plant, have taken shifts at a sit-in at the plant, 1333 N. Hickory Ave., since Friday.

The union said the bank is not letting the company pay workers their vacation and severance pay. In addition, the union said they were not given 60 days’ notice of a mass layoff, as required by federal law.

“They’re throwing people out on the street with three days’ notice, penniless,” said Leah Fried, an organizer with United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers.

The company told employees Tuesday that its main lender, Bank of America, had canceled its line of credit because of a severe downturn in business at the plant.Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who accused the company of knowing the plant was going to close long before last week’s announcement to avoid paying workers for the days they are owed under federal law.

Members of several unions attended Saturday’s sit-in as well as Rep.

“I don’t believe somebody woke up on Tuesday and simply decided to shut the doors,” Gutierrez said.

Representatives of Republic Windows & Doors could not be reached for comment Saturday. Bank of America said in a statement that it isn’t responsible for Republic’s financial obligations to its employees.