March 2006 Archives

Quick question: who owns the ports now?

Newsweek appears to be saying that the Dubai-run company DP World has abandoned its claim to the 6 (or possibly 21) ports that Merkins are yelling about. Now, irrespective of whether we should be surprised that foreign companies are buying US companies (hint: they think they're worth more than just random dollars and US Treasury Bonds), consider these points in the article:

“DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations ... to a United States entity,” the firm’s top executive, H. Edward Bilkey, said in an announcement that capped weeks of controversy.

Yes, but who owns and controls said US entity?

A leading congressional critic of the ports deal, Rep. Peter King, applauded the decision but said he and others would wait to see the details. “It would have to be an American company with no links to DP World, and that would be a tremendous victory and very gratifying,” said the New York Republican, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Why the hell would DP World agree something like that? Why would they give some random US company a bunch of ports? (Yes, even if other people control the security and man most of the unloading.)

The announcement did not specify which American company would be involved.

That's reassuring.

It was unclear how DP would manage the planned divestiture, and Bilkey’s statement said its announcement was “based on an understanding that DP World will not suffer economic loss.”

Given that these ports are now worth a hell of a lot less - given that fewer foreign-owned companies can buy them - how does DP World manage to pull off not making a loss on this sale? Is it not safest to assume that DP World have created a random US company, and sold the ports to it, and still maintain control of said US company?

Oh, and one last thing:

Despite the furor, the company’s U.S. operations were never the most prized part of the global transaction. DP World valued its rival’s American operations at less than 10 percent of the nearly $7 billion total purchase.

So it probably can, in fact, afford to jettison the ports. Why is that buried 2/3rds down the article?

Irony, of the civilised, but still biting for all that, kind

On reading the wikipedia article for Mondegreens, I realised that I'd misremembered the stanza that began it all - to wit, I'd forgotten the "O'Murray" bit.

On a slightly related issue, the article on Backronyms has all sorts of crunchy goodness.

Oscar transcripts must exist, surely?

I'm getting tired of going from random news article to random news article to find out selective-as-hell transcripts of the Oscar ceremony. Goddamnit, what does it take to find out what Jon Stewart actually said? (BitTorrent links of, frankly, anything - even the whole bloody ceremony - would be welcome at this point.)

Of all the throwaway ceremonies that have no commercial use after a day or two, you would have thought the Oscars would have been a poster child.

Tony's just having fun now, surely?

Tony said to Parky:

Tony Blair is reconciled to the prospect that God and history will eventually judge his decision to go to war with Iraq, and says his decision, like much of his policymaking, was underpinned by his Christian faith.

Seriously, though: does he believe this stuff, or is he merely seeing how much stuff he can make Gordon Brown reiterate before he owns up and acknowledges that he was spouting complete and utter bullshit? (Given the alternatives, the fact that the current PM is playing Simon Says with the next PM would in many ways be more reassuring than many of the possible alternatives.)

EDIT: In a world where the debate about the Iraqi Civil War is no longer about whether, but about when, how does saying "Hey, Iraqis! I invaded you because I'm a Christian" help in any conceivable way?