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Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

(image via nymag)

In: Democratic Populism. If Republican "Populism" is scary and caucasian and male and Christian and angry -- for further reference, see: the Tea Parties -- then Democrat "populism," as evidenced by Obama's speech today in Rio Rancho, New Mexico against abusive practices of credit card companies as well as NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's Public Pension Fund Reform Code of Conduct.

Those parallel press conferences, delivered roughly simultaneously, offering change in an effective form suggests that the Democrats are leagues ahead of the Republican party in fashioning a positive, and not dangerous, populism.

Out: Blockbuster. It is hard to see how the beleaguered video rental chain Blockbuster can turn things around after years of falling behind the curve. Sumner Redstone's prehistoric project never quite recovered from the beating it has taken from the far-more-nimble NetFlix. Their latest train wreck of a quarterly report does nothing to change our impression of the Dallas company. From MarketWatch:

"Home video rental chain Blockbuster Inc. said its first-quarter profit declined 39% on costs related to store closures, job cuts and other items, as well as decreased sales at its U.S. stores, but the results excluding charges topped most estimates.

"Blockbuster /quotes/comstock/13*!bbi/quotes/nls/bbi (BBI 0.88, -0.26, -22.81%) said it earned $27.7 million, or 12 cents a share in the first quarter of 2009. In the same quarter a year earlier, it posted a profit of $45.4 million or 20 cents a share.

"Excluding items, the company would have earned $41.3 million, or 19 cents a share, in the latest three months.

"Revenue fell to $1.12 billion from $1.39 billion."

In: John Lasseter. John Lasseter, executive producer of the animated movie 'Up,' got a warm reception after unveiling the first animated movie to open the Cannes Film Festival. Chances are 'Up' will not break the unprecedented string of 10 hits in a row for Pixar. From USA Today:

"Wednesday's opening was full of levity, both literal and figurative. Before the nighttime premiere, Pixar chief John Lasseter, Up director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera made a public appearance outside the historic Carlton Hotel. A pier was festooned with a miniature wooden house attached to a colossal cluster of multicolored floating balloons.

"As a crush of photographers snapped away, the animators loomed over the small house and mimicked climbing around on it in a publicity stunt aimed at attracting worldwide attention for the movie, opening May 29, about an old man who sets off for adventure by airlifting his home with balloons."

More here.

Out: Craigslist Erotic Ads. The wild, wild west that was once the erotic services category of Craigslist is probably a thing of the past. From The New York Times:

"To replace it, the company has created a category called adult services, in which postings will be reviewed by employees who will look for indications of activity that is illegal or violates the site’s guidelines. The erotic services category would be deleted next Wednesday, Craigslist said.

"Craigslist has been under increasing pressure from officials in several states, as violent crimes involving people who had made contact through the site made national headlines. But the changes did not appear to go far enough to satisfy everyone in the growing ranks of Craigslist’s detractors.

"Andrew M. Cuomo, New York’s attorney general, said his office had recently notified Craigslist about an impending prostitution case that involved the erotic services category.

"Rather than work with this office to prevent further abuses, in the middle of the night, Craigslist took unilateral action which we suspect will prove to be half-baked,' Mr. Cuomo said in a statement."

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