Those who regularly have the distinct pleasure of listening to Amazon’s quarterly conference call for investors know that the company rarely says anything of substance in these calls. Usually, executives deflect questions, reading canned lines and sticking to the appropriate PR speak. But this quarter’s investor call may have been the shortest in history.
That’s probably because Amazon’s press release only tells one side of the story, and executives probably aren’t too eager to respond to any of those pesky naysayers. Here’s why: In spite of its $21 billion in sales, Amazon underperformed compared to analysts’ expectations. Of course expectations were high thanks to the usual holiday shopping bump for retail and e-commerce, but Amazon was expected to hit $0.27 EPS and $22 billion in revenues, and Amazon instead underperformed, coming in at $0.21 and $21 billion, respectively.
That may not sound like a lot, and Amazon executives clearly think there isn’t much to be worried about, especially considering the company has $8 billion in cash. That’s nothing to scoff at, clearly, but there’s also the fact that the company’s net income decreased by 45 percent in the fourth quarter and growth is slowing. Amazon saw just $97 million in net profits in Q4. Yes, $97 million. That would be a big win for a company with $1 billion in revenue, but I’m probably not going out on a limb to say that it’s a red flag when you’re doing $21 billion.
If you look at the profit/loss graph in Leena’s post from earlier today [also included at the bottom of this post], one sees that Amazon hasn’t tallied more than $177 million in profits … well, for quite some time.
What’s more, as Zero Hedge points out, it’s almost comical that Amazon’s stock jumped after-hours. The irrationality of the markets in top form. The stock shot up this afternoon even after Amazon lowered its top-line guidance, projecting sales of between $15 to $16 billion, along with operating income.
For the last 40 years it has been completely sealed from the outside world. But the indoor variety of spiderworts (or Tradescantia, to give the plant species its scientific Latin name) within has thrived, filling its globular bottle home with healthy foliage.
Yesterday Mr Latimer, 80, said: ‘It’s 6ft from a window so gets a bit of sunlight. It grows towards the light so it gets turned round every so often so it grows evenly.
‘Otherwise, it’s the definition of low-maintenance. I’ve never pruned it, it just seems to have grown to the limits of the bottle.’
The bottle garden has created its own miniature ecosystem. Despite being cut off from the outside world, because it is still absorbing light it can photosynthesise, the process by which plants convert sunlight into the energy they need to grow.
Photosynthesis creates oxygen and also puts more moisture in the air. The moisture builds up inside the bottle and ‘rains’ back down on the plant.
The leaves it drops rot at the bottom of the bottle, creating the carbon dioxide also needed for photosynthesis and nutrients which it absorbs through its roots.
It was Easter Sunday 1960 when Mr Latimer thought it would be fun to start a bottle garden ‘out of idle curiosity’.
He said: ‘At the time the chemical industry had changed to transporting things in plastic bottles so there were a lot of glass ones on the market.
‘Bottle gardens were a bit of a craze and I wanted to see what happened if you bunged the thing up.’
Into a cleaned out ten gallon carboy, or globular bottle, which once contained sulphuric acid, he poured some compost then carefully lowered in a seedling using a piece of wire.
He put in about a quarter of a pint of water. It was not until 1972 that he gave it another ‘drink’.
After that, he greased the bung so it wedged in tightly… and has not watered it since.
The bottle stands on display under the stairs in the hallway of his home in Cranleigh, Surrey, the same spot it has occupied for 27 years after he and his wife Gretchen moved from Lancashire when he retired as an electrical engineer.
It was revealed to the world when he took a photograph of it in to BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and asked the panel of experts if it is ‘of scientific or horticultural interest’.
Garden designer and television presenter Chris Beardshaw said: ‘It’s a great example of the way in which a plant is able to recycle… It’s the perfect cycle of life.’
He added that this process is one reason why NASA was interested in taking plants into space.
‘Plants operate as very good scrubbers, taking out pollutants in the air, so that a space station can effectively become self-sustaining,’ he said. ‘This is a great example of just how pioneering plants are and how they will persist given the opportunity.
‘The only input to this whole process has been solar energy, that’s the thing it has needed to keep it going. Everything else, every other thing in there has been recycled. That’s fantastic.’
Organic gardener Bob Flowerdew was less enthusiastic.
‘It’s wonderful but not for me, thanks. I can’t see the point. I can’t smell it, I can’t eat it,’ he said. Mr Latimer agrees the bottle garden is ‘incredibly dull in that it doesn’t do anything’, but remains fascinated to see how long it will last.
He hopes to pass on the ‘experiment’ to his grown-up children after he is gone.
If they do not want it, he will leave it to the Royal Horticultural Society.
Full Instructions on how to make your own at the link.
“The draft is very new in this country, and a lot of people want to eliminate it. But as soon as women start talking about their rights, somebody says they should get drafted. It’s as if men are saying, “If you don’t let me hold the door open for you, I’ll slam it on your hand.”
“Angela Davis is accused-only accused-of buying a gun for somebody, and what happens? She spends months in solitary confinement and hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal defense before she can go free. Lieutenant Calley is convicted of slaughtering kids and women in Vietnam and what happens? He gets confined to very comfortable quarters, not even sent to jail-and Nixon defends him in public. It makes you wonder: does femicide pay?”
‘Being a mother is a noble status, right? So why does it change when you put ‘unwed’ or ‘welfare’ in front of it?’
This man’s gps led him to the wrong home. He pulled into the driveway. The homeowner shot a gun into the air. Then, as Diaz was pulling out, he shot him in the head.
I don’t know if he would still be alive if he was white. Maybe, maybe not. But the complete disregard for life on display here sickens me. This kid should still be alive. I’m putting this under crime because this man committed one. This is murder, not self-defense.
A teen from the northeastern Oregon town of La Grande has been taken off life support a week after he attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself from a play structure near a local elementary school.
At a candlelight vigil held last Wednesday for 15-year-old Jadin Bell, dozens of students from La Grande High School gathered to express their support for a kind-hearted kid who volunteered to help others and never forgot his friends.
But family friend Bud Hill, who considered Jadin his nephew, said that underneath his perpetual smile hid a boy being tormented on a daily basis by bullies for being gay.
Hill told KOMO News it was bullying — both online and off — that drove Jadin to hang himself in the Central Elementary School playground.
“He was different, and they tend to pick on the different ones,” he said.
After a passer-by brought him down, Jadin he was rushed to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland and put on life support. But after little brain activity was detected by doctors, Jadin’s family made the decision over the weekend to remove the life support.
Despite the tragic circumstances, Jadin’s family hopes some good will still come from their heartache.
I think we should blame Bryan Fischer for every gay kid’s death, just like the wingnuts blame Obama for Benghazi-ghazi-ghazi-stan.
You did this, Bryan. You will burn in Hell forever.
Thanks to FNB’s Page about recent events in Mali, The Price of War: Ancient African Archives Set on Fire in Timbuktu, I found some good news regarding the manuscripts and (thanks to a commenter), an excellent BBC video:
Time magazine’s Vivienne Walt reports that some experts on the ground in Mali say many of the manuscripts were saved before the Islamists’ pillage:
Realizing that the documents might be prime targets for pillaging or vindictive attacks from Islamic extremists, staff left behind just a small portion of them, perhaps out of haste, but also to conceal the fact that the center had been deliberately emptied.
‘The documents which had been there are safe, they were not burned,’ Mahmoud Zouber, Mali’s presidential aide on Islamic affairs, told Time, ‘They were put in a very safe place.’
Other experts confirmed that while there were ‘a few items’ in the Ahmed Baba library, the rest were protected in an undisclosed hiding place.
Here’s a look at why the world is so worked up over the documents and what it might mean if they were destroyed:
Woohoo—chalk up one for the good guys! They’ve been through this before and were ready for it. *happy dance*
Here’s a fascinating BBC documentary about Timbuktu’s libraries, including the one that was burned (h/t Origuy):
Have I mentioned lately how much I despise extremists who do nothing but hate & leave destruction in their path? Gah!
Revisionist History —The Confederacy Making a Comeback in the South? KKK Grand Wizard Glorified, Civil Rights Heroes Ignored
Wells was one of the nation’s most courageous and important journalists. She moved to Memphis as a young woman to live with her aunt. Her investigations revealed that lynching was fundamentally a mechanism to rid white businessmen of black competitors. When Thomas Moss of Memphis, a black man who ran the People’s Grocery Co., was murdered with his partners by a mob of whites and his store was looted and destroyed, Wells was incensed. ‘This is what opened my eyes to what lynching really was,’ she wrote. She noted ‘that the Southerner had never gotten over this resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income’ and was using charges of rape against black business owners to mask this resentment. The lynching of Moss, she wrote, was ‘[a]n excuse to get rid of Negroes who were acquiring wealth and property and thus keep the race terrorized and ‘keep the nigger down.’ ‘
The rewriting of history in the South is a retreat by beleaguered whites into a mythical self-glorification. I witnessed a similar retreat during the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Yugoslavia’s economy deteriorated, ethnic groups built fantasies of a glorious past that became a substitute for history. They sought to remove, through exclusion and finally violence, competing ethnicities to restore this mythological past. The embrace by nationalist groups of a nonreality-based belief system made communication with other ethnic groups impossible. They no longer spoke the same cultural language. There was no common historical narrative built around verifiable truth. A similar disconnect was illustrated last week in Memphis when the chairman of the city’s parks committee, William Boyd, informed the council that Forrest “promoted progress for black people in this country after the war.” Boyd argued that the KKK was “more of a social club” at its inception and didn’t begin carrying out “bad and horrific things” until it reconstituted itself with the rise of the modern civil rights movement.
But Forrest is only one of numerous flashpoints. Fliers reading ‘Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Wants You to Join’ appeared in the mailboxes of white families in Memphis in early January. The Ku Klux Klan also distributed pamphlets a few days ago in an Atlanta suburb. The Tennessee Legislature last year officially declared July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day to honor his birthday. There are 32 historical markers honoring Forrest in Tennessee alone and several in other Southern states. Montgomery, Ala., which I visited last fall, has a gigantic Confederate flag on the outskirts of the city, planted there by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Confederate monuments dot Montgomery’s city center. There are three Confederate state holidays in Alabama, including Martin Luther King/Robert E. Lee Day. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi also honor Lee’s birthday. Jefferson Davis’ birthday is a state holiday in Alabama and Florida. And re-enactments of Confederate victories in the Civil War crowd Southern calendars.
The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program authored a report that criticized the Treasury Department’s approval of executive pay raises.
January 29, 2013 |
The Treasury Department approved “excessive” salaries for executives at a number of financial firms last year that received taxpayer funds as part of the 2008 economic bailout of Wall Street.
The news comes in a report authored by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which said that “Treasury approved all 18 requests it received last year to raise pay for executives at American International Group Inc., General Motors Corp. and Ally Financial Inc,” according to the Associated Press.
14 of the requests for executive pay raises were over $100,000, and the biggest raise was $1 million. The AP also notes that the inspector general report states that Treasury also “allowed pay packages totaling $5 million or more for nearly a quarter of the executives at those firms.”
The Treasury official who oversaw the raises, Patricia Geoghegan, saw no problem with the raises. In a letter sent to Romero, Geoghegan said that ‘it’s unfair to call the pay excessive’ and that ‘Treasury must strike a balance between limiting compensation and approving pay packages that are consistent with executives in similar jobs,’
I do understand the need to attract and keep talented individuals, yet $1M raise?
A proposed abortion bill introduced in Arkansas this week would ban all abortion services after a fetal heartbeat is detected — which can occur as early as six weeks, before some women even realize they’re pregnant — and charge doctors who perform abortions after that arbitrary cut-off with a Class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
GOP lawmaker Jason Rapert filed the legislation on Monday, and half of Arkansas’ state senators — 18 of the Senate’s 35 total members — have already signed on as co-sponsors. Rapert says he may bring the bill before the Arkansas Senate’s Public Health Committee later this week.
So-called “heartbeat bills” are an attempt to redefine the medical terms of pregnancy, as well as a direct challenge to women’s constitutional rights. Even though medical professionals agree the point of viability typically occurs around 22 or 23 weeks of pregnancy — and Roe v. Wade grants women the right to terminate a pregnancy up until viability — fetal heartbeat measures would narrow the window for obtaining legal abortion services by as much as 17 weeks. This type of legislation is so radical that it often divides the anti-choice community. A similar measure failed in Ohio at the end of last year because abortion opponents couldn’t reach a consensus on it.