Brief but Powerful News

K-Mart and Sears are merging. This is quite interesting. Sears has been talking in recent years of getting into the big box market and began with three test stores called Sears Grand–think Super Walmart, Sears-style. This puts them in the fray with K-mart, Target and Walmart.

This merger is being called so, it would appear at first glance, to avoid the tax liabilities of a buy-out. But in truth it seems K-mart is buying Sears. Who woulda thunk it? But the board will be made up of 7 K-mart execs and only three Sears folks and the chairman will be K-mart’s chairman, Edward Lampert.

Both companies have been struggling in recent years, and this merger is thought to be a way to increase profits in a way neither could do alone. Combined as Sears Holding Corp., the company will have “2,350 full-line and off-mall stores, and 1,100 specialty retail stores” and estimated profits of “$55 billion in annual revenues.”

I wish them luck.

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In other news, Russia is developing new nukes. According to this article from the AP wire, Putin said the reasoning for the new nuclear progam was because, “International terrorism is one of the major threats for Russia. We understand as soon as we ignore such components of our defense as a nuclear and missile shield, other threats may occur.”

The same article also noted however, that “earlier this year, a senior Defense Ministry official was quoted as telling news agencies that Russia had developed a weapon that could make the United States’ proposed missile-defense system useless.” Hope not.

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I also wanted to discuss something that Allan Lichtman, political analyst for CNN Headline News (and many other news agencies) and history professor at American University, said this morning. Lichtman is a Democrat but I must say, a very even-handed one. He tipped his hat to Bush when appropriate and knocked Kerry when needed. He has been a voice of reason and calm, never an alarmist, and often is right in his predictions–including his prediction for Kerry’s failure and the reasons why. He often phrases his sentences like a scientist, “If Kerry doesn’t start giving a plan he will lose the election” (not a quote, just an example).

Today he spoke with Robin Meade about President Bush’s cabinet nominations. His hypothesis on this issue is that if Bush pulls down “the cone of silence” by hiring only White House staffers who have traditionally agreed with him over the past four years, then he will inevitably set himself up for some major blunders. Without dissenters like Colin Powell, Bush will hear no other sides to the story, and as Lichtman suggested, history has shown this strategy to create major problems and pitfalls. He rattled off several presidents who followed this plan of creating a political “bubble” around themselves. One such president was Lyndon B. Johnson and I want to say another was Nixon (I apologize, I was getting ready while listening and had nothing to write on). All of these presidents landed themselves in hot water.

Lichtman warned that if Bush only listens to the advice of people who agree with him, he may very well be able to swiftly pass legislation, policies and ideas, but he will have no one to slow him down, to warn him what might be around the corner. Lichtman was not criticizing the president, he was simply sending out a word of caution. I thought it was a very interesting take on the way the new cabinet is forming. If you would like to read some of Lichtman’s work, he blogs for History News Network. Here is his latest post.



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