Warren Buffett Made money in USAir but not when he sold BRK entire stakes in American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines

Sunday, 3 May, 2020

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything by Carol J. Loomis - pix 1

 

Good written report of Warren Buffett selling Berkshire Hathaway’s entire stakes in American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines from Will Horton @Forbes,

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B has sold at a loss its entire portfolio of U.S. airline stocks comprising American Airlines AAL , Delta DAL Air Lines, Southwest LUV Airlines and United UAL Airlines.

“We put, whatever it was, seven or eight billion into it and we did not take out anything like seven or eight billion,” Buffett said during Berkshire’s annual meeting on May 2. “That was my mistake.”

“We have sold the entire positions,” he said. “When we change our mind we don’t take half measures or anything of the sort.” 

And as I reported in an 2012 post talking about Carol Loomis’ Tap Dancing to Work,

“… the afterword for articles like “Buffett Hits $200 million Downdraft” (Nov 17, 1994) reminds readers that Warren actually made money on the USAir investment (which many people may have an impression of it being a money losing investment).”

Warren Buffett: Why we sold our entire stakes in American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines

xxx


Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?

Wednesday, 6 November, 2019

20191106 Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers? - Pix 0120191106 Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers? - Pix 02

I posted “Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?” as a comment on CostCo’s Facebook page yesterday. And Costco’s social media teams replied promptly (within the hour) to inform me my concerns have already been sent to the appropriate team(s). Will see what happen next.

===

For the record, here is “Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?” ,

Hi, We just had a rather #awful Costco Wholesale Canada membership renewal experience this past Friday. Ended up spending ~30 minutes talking to three (4) different customer service employees/manager with one of them even threatened me to stop writing down her name (I said I might want to complain about my experiences at some point). I was told I’m not allowed to remember their names in order to properly complain if I wish to. Is this normal and standard operating procedure of CostCo employees to threaten members who may want to complain with precision?
Can someone explain why does CostCo treat loyal customers WORSE than brand new customers? Shouldn’t renewal NOT be taken “for granted”? Is it wrong to think each renewal should be treated as EARNED?

— Calgary Zoo example
In stark contrast, Calgary Zoo does things right and treat each member who decides to renew (some don’t renew) with full respect and work hard to earn each renewal. As a start, the zoo treats a renewing member EQUALLY as a new member and would NEVER shortchange/disadvantage a loyal existing member!

— CostCo: a multi-billion dollar entitled company?
Now back to CostCo, please correct me if I am wrong. When a NEW customer decide to take out a NEW membership on November 1st, his/her membership will expire in 2020 November 30th, correct me if I am wrong?
Now when we renewed on November 1st, we were told that our membership expired on September 30th! Major #fail with CostCo! In fact we were further explained, for ANYONE who “renew” within three (3) months of their previous membership expiration date, their membership expiration is the OLD date! So for example, members who decide to renew 89 days after expiration will have their membership shortchanged with 89 days LESS!
Fair? I don’t think so. This, to me and to be frank, is the actions of a multi-billion dollar entitled company that disrespect loyal customers because “it has always been done like this” or it is in the “terms and conditions” (which I tried to read “Membership Conditions & Regulations, and Privacy Policy” but is unable to find the exact exploitative legal language).

— More Training (not punishment) & Will CostCo start treating Loyal/Renewal customers with respect??
I will NEVER want anyone be punished for my stupid complains. Life is too short. Training may be. I want other customers be treated much better than I had been.
I take time to complain not just to benefit myself (sure, I want my complains fixed) BUT I take time to publicly complain in order to raise issues that I think companies like CostCo should think seriously and consider fixing.
I’ve laid out my complains and the issues (hopefully clearly and factually). Will CostCo review your corporate policy and START respecting all Loyal/Renewing customers reminds to be seen. Don’t take my words for it, Google or ask Calgary Zoo how they treat their renewing members and if they treat their loyal renewing members as good as their new ones and if they also shortchange their members because many are too busy to ask?


Kawhi Leonard “paid” millions to “buy” NBA Championships

Thursday, 11 July, 2019

 

20190711 Kawhi-apalooza is over and it ended strangely By Doug Smith - Sports Reporter

20190711 Kawhi-apalooza is over and it ended strangely By Doug Smith – Sports Reporter

I love Doug Smith’s analysis and he is always a good read. In this case (see below for an excerpt), I disagree with Doug and want to make a few observations.

  1. No one got “played”. Everyone knows exactly what they get themselves into.
  2. I won’t call billionaires “riverboat gamblers” because the millions to them is “nothing” like you and I pay $5 for a cheap movie. For billionaires, it is not gambling if you enjoy the time spent watching the movie (or your NBA team do stuff) as they can never finish spending their money in their lifetime and last I check, even if you bring money to your grave, your hands are kinda stiff and you can’t spend the money.
  3. And wow Kawhi! I admire Kawhi so much as he has left “that much money on the table” (in the words of Doug) to buy (“buy” is my word, and yes, he “paid” millions to “buy”) the maximum chance to win NBA Championships and to win them fast asap, preferably in the next two seasons in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021!
    Kawhi (and his team of advisors including Uncle Dennis) thought carefully about how best to increase Kawhi’s chances to win. He is gambling with a pair of legal mercury loaded dices named Leonard & George that he personally designed. He has put the Clippers on the clock (and they know it) to win like NOW.Remember, at some point, any extra millions Kawhi can make also becomes meaningless to him because, lets not forget, his aim in life is NOT to collect the biggest number of houses around the world or the most number of fancy cars! Kawhi’s aim in life is to win the most number of NBA championships in the time that he is healthy to play basketball. In case anyone is counting, Kawhi is currently at 2× NBA champion (2014, 2019).

Kawhi told a reporter in 2015, “I’m just trying to pass Tim Duncan in championships if I can one day.”

For the record, Tim has 5× NBA champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014). That my friend is what the #FunGuy has been thinking since high school and aiming to achieve in his basketball career all along, 6(?)× NBA champion (2014, 2019, 2020(??), 2021(??), ????, ????) How can you not admire Kawhi and think he is kinda “fun” in his own champion kinda way!

Here is a brief excerpt from Doug Smith’s blog post, “Kawhi-apalooza is over and it ended strangely

“Wow.

Only doing a two-plus-one deal with the Clippers sure caught everyone I talked to by surprise and once again proved Leonard is impossible to read and to think you can is folly.

But a lot of people were combination of mystified and perturbed by the move and some were kind of thankful it ended as it did.

I talked to agents who simply couldn’t comprehend a client leaving that much money on the table and I presume some eyebrows were raised at the players association office, as well.

It’s kind of telling that no player – not Leonard, not Durant, not Kyrie Irving, not Jimmy Butler to name just four – got every last dollar they could have out of the market. Not sure if that means the market is flawed or just too full of money but I do think it means something.

What it also means, to me in the immediate moment at least, is that the Clippers got used and a bit played and now the pressure on them to win big and win fast is astronomical. [K note: “win big and win fast is astronomical” is exactly the position Kawhi want Clippers to be in] It was one thing to pay the highest price ever paid by an NBA team on the trade market – basically two good players and a decade of draft picks to get the one guy the guy you wanted demanded you get – when the expectation was you’ve have Leonard for four year, a much longer time to win championships than just two.

I don’t know for 100 per cent that they knew they were only going two years guaranteed and if they did, wow, are they riverboat gamblers. If they didn’t, they got played.”

2019 July 11st update:

ESPN, July 10, 2019 “Kawhi’s contract puts the Clippers under pressure – Stephen A. | Pardon the Interruption” (quite similar to one of the points I made)

xxx


Lee Iacocca (1924-2019)

Wednesday, 3 July, 2019

 

My 1986 copy of

My 1986 copy of “Iacocca: An Autobiography” which I used for a high school English class assignment/book review. This is one of the autobiographies that got me onto the path of lifelong learning form insightful people’s biographies.

Goodbye Mr. Lee Iacocca (1934-2019), you will be dearly missed.

Thanks to my high school English teacher for letting me use Iacocca‘s best selling autobiography for one of the book review/class assignment which got me on a lifelong path of reading and enjoying autobiographies and biographies of many people which got me to learn valuable life lessons and teachable moments from them.

CNN, “How Lee Iacocca became an American icon” (bought back so many good memories)

Jun 2017, RegularCars, “The Legend of Lee Iacocca” (hope this is good)

xxx


Banksy’s $1.4m transformative act (self-destructing stunt?)

Sunday, 7 October, 2018

(with 2018, October 11th & 18 updates) Fascinating $1.4m transformative act (self-destructing stunt?) by anonymous UK-based street artist Banksy. The work is not really “destroyed” because it is in a funny Schrödinger’s cat half-alive & half dead state. A total and more messy destruction would be one that cut the canvas into tiny squares and cut the whole canvas completely and let the pieces fall onto the ground. A total and more beautiful “destruction” is what Tibetan monks do when they blow away their own sand arts (sand mandala is a ritual of creation and destruction, that “symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life“).

Finally, the money/worth question is probably the easiest one to answer. It will be rather stupid for the buyer to use legal means to get out of the deal. The work, after this stunt, will easily worth a lot more. Way more! But what is more interesting to me about art is always about the questions we ask ourselves or the thinking we do about them. We (National Gallery of Canada) paid a controversial $1.8m for Voice of Fire (a painting consists of “three equally sized vertical stripes, with the outer two painted blue and the centre painted red“) in 1989. It was estimated to worth $40m in 2014 and probably more today. And of course, art can’t just be about money. [HT Seastar]

P.S. This “making of” video was posted on Read the rest of this entry »


10 Things You Don’t Know About #CrazyRichAsians (with video)

Friday, 17 August, 2018

Here are 10 things you don’t know about Crazy Rich Asians the movie:

1) Author Kevin Kwan Optioned His Book for Only $1
The Hollywood Reporter (THR) has a great cover story on CRA, here is an excerpt about why Kwan ended up optioning the book for just $1.

“I met with, I think, six producers in one day,” says Kwan. “It was like a beauty contest.” Many had renminbi signs in their eyes. “They were interested in getting into the Chinese market, and I was like, ‘This is a 
movie with worldwide and domestic potential — that just happens to star Asians.'”

Color Force’s Jacobson and Simpson, known for the Hunger Games franchise, saw it the same way. “It feels so mainstream and accessible — anybody can relate to being rejected by in-laws,” says Jacobson. She and Simpson vowed to secure financing from a company with Asian ties, and UTA steered them to Ivanhoe Pictures, Penotti’s then-brand-new company with offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. While Kwan had lucrative offers, he optioned his book to Color Force and Ivanhoe for just $1 (with triggers in place for him to earn more as the project got made) in exchange for the right to remain involved with development decisions — a rare opportunity for a first-timer. “To say, ‘I’m going to do this for a dollar,'” says Simpson, “the only other person I know who does that is Stephen King.””

2) (see pix) Real life inspiration for Rachel Chu
See author Kevin Kwan’s Instagram post, “[my dear friend Vivian’s] stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family. Jon M. Chu, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” was one of the cousins Vivian had been talking about for so many years. I never dreamed that he would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family. Last night, it all came full circle in this photo – the first time Vivian, Jon, and I were all together in one place.

View this post on Instagram

More than ten years ago, my dear friend Vivian in New York started telling me stories about how she grew up in Northern California amongst all her cousins and how close knit they all were. As I moved to the US when I was eleven and had to leave behind my closest cousins, I was fascinated by the stories of her cool American-Born Chinese family, so different from my own, and her stories inspired me when I created the character of Rachel Chu and her family. Jon M. Chu, the director of "Crazy Rich Asians," was one of the cousins Vivian had been talking about for so many years. I never dreamed that he would one day direct the film based on my book, a film with a heroine who is inspired by the women in his own family. Last night, it all came full circle in this photo – the first time Vivian, Jon, and I were all together in one place.

A post shared by Kevin Kwan (@kevinkwanbooks) on

3) (with video) Getting permission to use Gardens by the Bay went right up to the PMO
The producers were having a hard time getting permission to film at the epic beautiful Gardens by the Bay location until CRA author Kevin Kwan visited the set in KL one day and heard of the challenge and mentioned that actress Janice Koh’s (she played auntie Felicity Young in the movie) husband was the CEO of Singapore Tourism Board. Ultimately, it went right up to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of Singapore to get the OK. Watch the producers talk about it in this segment of Oscars video (timecode 9:30).

4) (with video) Location for Young’s family home was a shithole (literally :)  
Finding a location for the Young’s family home was very hard as a home like that doesn’t exist in Singapore. A location was found in KL (where 65% of the film was shot). After watching the beautiful house in the film, you wouldn’t know it was run down, “collapsing on itself” and had monkey pooh on the floor! Watch the producers discussed it in this segment of Oscars video (10:10).

5) (with video) Dumpling & mahjong scenes are new and not in the book
(*** NOTE:
Unfortunately, this video is no longer on YouTube.)
The dumpling scene and the mahjong scene aren’t in the book and I quite like them both. Here co-screenwriter Adele Lim talks about these two scenes in this Q&A.
WARNING: Some spoilers!!!! Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim on writing CRAZY RICH ASIANS (6:53)

6) (with video) Coldplay‘s “Yellow” in Chinese
Director Jon M. Chu (朱浩偉) had to work his magic on Warner Bros and Coldplay to get the song into the movie. QZ has an excellent report in “HOW COLDPLAY’S “YELLOW,” IN CHINESE, ENDED UP ON THE “CRAZY RICH ASIANS” SOUNDTRACK” that is worth reading in full. Here is an excerpt, Read the rest of this entry »


Uber self-driving SUV fatal accident – a Computer Scientist’s views

Thursday, 22 March, 2018

20180324 update: For now, I’ve found these two posts by Brad Templeton to be very insightful and cover some of the issues that I want to write about but Brad wrote in much more detail! Have a read, 03/20 “New facts and questions on Uber robocar fatality” & 03/21 “It certainly looks bad for Uber“. I may still add more if I see more facts of the case especially when Uber starts to voluntarily (or be compelled to) provide more of its internal technical data. I hope Uber won’t try to brush this fatality under the carpet. Will see.

***

I just read some news reports and watched the video of the Uber self-driving SUV fatal accident. (WARNING: Video contains disturbing images. Viewer discretion is advised.) I know I do not have full information yet so I hope to share my views (for now, semi-technical/semi-informed) on this Uber self-driving fatal accident as best as I can. And in the coming days when I have time, I hope to keep updating this post when more technical and police investigative information are available.

A bit of background first. In 2013 February (more than 5 years ago now), I was already interested in driverless technologies and already interviewed U of T Professor Emeritus C.C. Kelly Gotlieb, “Father of Computing in Canada”, to talk about many topics including Google driverless car and issues like whose to blame when an accident happened? Sadly, we now have a fatal accident on hand to talk about.

From the AP report “Experts: Uber self-driving system should have spotted woman”, this Uber self-driving SUV is using LIDAR laser sensors technology to “see”. (note: LIDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging and it “measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light” which can see perfectly well even in total darkness as it uses laser.) I made this observation re LIDAR in direct response to this sentence of the news report, “The lights on the SUV didn’t illuminate 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg on Sunday night until a second or two before impact, raising questions about whether the vehicle could have stopped in time.” And the fact the Uber safety driver was NOT paying attention to the road when he killed the 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg!

Let me quote from the AP report “Experts: Uber self-driving system should have spotted woman”,

““The victim did not come out of nowhere. She’s moving on a dark road, but it’s an open road, so Lidar (laser) and radar should have detected and classified her” as a human, said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina law professor who studies autonomous vehicles.

Smith said the video may not show the complete picture, but “this is strongly suggestive of multiple failures of Uber and its system, its automated system, and its safety driver.”

Sam Abuelsmaid, an analyst for Navigant Research who also follows autonomous vehicles, said laser and radar systems can see in the dark much better than humans or cameras and that Herzberg was well within the range.

“It absolutely should have been able to pick her up,” he said. “From what I see in the video it sure looks like the car is at fault, not the pedestrian.”

Smith said that from what he observed on the video, the Uber driver appears to be relying too much on the self-driving system by not looking up at the road.

“The safety driver is clearly relying on the fact that the car is driving itself. It’s the old adage that if everyone is responsible no one is responsible,” Smith said. “This is everything gone wrong that these systems, if responsibly implemented, are supposed to prevent.”

The experts were unsure if the test vehicle was equipped with a video monitor that the backup driver may have been viewing.

Uber immediately suspended all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. The National Transportation Safety Board, which makes recommendations for preventing crashes, is investigating the crash.”

I will try to come back to this article and add more details and updates in the coming days when I have more time. Will see.

For now, here is the particular segment of my 5 years old 2013 interview with Prof. Gotlieb talking about “Google [and by extension, any other company’s] Driverless Car gets into an accident, whose to blame? And who can you sue? The person who wrote the program? Google who authorize the car? Car manufacture? The person who is in the car? Or all of the above? […] Lots of questions to be asked when failure happen.”

xxx


The catch CBC & CTV missed: Loblaws $25 “gift” card/hush money for bread price-fixing

Tuesday, 9 January, 2018

The following three news reports cover various aspect of the Loblaws $25 “gift” card but missed an important catch that I want to discuss in this article.

  1. CBC News, “Loblaws $25 gift card registration now open, but there’s a catch – Signing up for gift card doesn’t preclude participating in class actions, but any payout would be deducted
  2. CTV News, “The catch: What Loblaw wants for its $25 gift card
  3. Huffington Post, “Take Loblaw’s Hush Money, But Don’t Keep Quiet – The bread price-fixing scheme is a moment when the curtain is pulled back and we get a peek into how things really work.

In short, the “catch” as others and CBC reported, “Signing up for gift card (and getting that $25) doesn’t preclude participating in class actions, but any payout would be deducted“.

The catch that is missed at least by CBC, CTV, and even Huffington Post is that as millions of Canadian adults apply for the gift cards is the “Retention and Cross-border Transfer” clause in the “Program Privacy Policy“. The “missed catch” is why should millions of Canadians subject our private and confidential information including

a) Full name
b) Date of Birth
c) Address
d) Home phone number,
e) Mobile phone number, and
f) email address

to courts of foreign countries including El Salvador or other random countries we don’t even know! When we are talking about millions of Canadians’ private and confidential data potentially being “stored, accessed, or used in a country outside of Canada “!! Why shouldn’t our data be treated with more care/respect and be stored in Canada and Canada alone?!

Don’t trust my words blindly. Visit the “Program Privacy Policy” link on the registration page, you will see (emphasis added):

“Program Privacy Policy
[…]
5. Retention and Cross-border Transfer
Personal Information may be stored, accessed, or used in a country outside of Canada by Loblaw, the Program Administrator, Blackhawk and/ or Peoples, or by service providers engaged by any of them, for any of the purposes identified in Section 4 above including the United States and El Salvador. Where Personal Information is located outside of Canada, it is subject to the laws of that jurisdiction which may differ from those in your jurisdiction and any Personal Information transferred to another jurisdiction will be subject to law enforcement and national security authorities in that jurisdiction.”

Canadians may want to question and challenge Loblaws’ Program Privacy Policy. by calling Loblaws and ask them directly or even ask our elected MPs and try to hold our government and the Competition Bureau accountable.

20180109 Loblaws price-fixing - program_privacy_policy - Screen Shot

Loblaws price-fixing – program_privacy_policy – Screen Shot

P.S. The Huffington Post, “Take Loblaw’s Hush Money, But Don’t Keep Quiet” raised some good points. (emphasis added) Read the rest of this entry »


Charlie Munger – Great Minds of Our Time

Sunday, 5 November, 2017

Charlie Munger (1924 -) undoubtedly qualifies as one of my list of Great Minds of Our Time. I may add more to this entry over time. (Review of The Snowball (biography about Warren Buffett) I posted in 2008, another one in my list of Great Minds.)

Charlie Munger Commencement Address – USC

x


Do you really own what you bought? New insights from Supreme Court decision Impression Products vs. Lexmark International

Thursday, 1 June, 2017

Supreme Court decision PDF file: Impression Products vs. Lexmark International

Wired, “The Supreme Court Just Bolstered Your Right to Repair Stuff

Impression Products vs. Lexmark International hinged on two points: Did Impression infringe upon Lexmark’s patents by (1) reselling cartridges in the United States when Lexmark explicitly prohibited reuse and resale, and (2) importing without authorization cartridges Lexmark sold abroad. Various courts split on these questions, and everyone from the AARP and Huawei to Costco and the Auto Care Association weighed in when the case finally reached the Supreme Court.

Why all the fuss? Because this wasn’t really about printer toner. It was about your ownership rights, and whether a patent holder can dictate how you repair, modify, or reuse something you’ve purchased. “This case raises important questions about the reach of American patent law and how much control a manufacturer can exert after its products have been lawfully sold,” the editorial board of The New York Times wrote in 2015. “Taken to their logical conclusion, Lexmark’s arguments would mean that producers could use patent law to dictate how things like computers, printers, and other patented goods are used, changed, or resold and place restrictions on international trade.”

Consider this: Countless people hack their Keurig machines to brew “unauthorized” coffee brands. Can Keurig sue them? Could Apple or Samsung stipulate that you can’t resell their products on Craigslist or eBay? Could John Deere claim that a repair tech is infringing upon its patent rights by repairing a broken combine without permission? Consumer rights advocates at the EFF and Public Knowledge worried that a ruling in Lexmark’s favor would “jeopardize independent product refurbishers and repair services”.”


Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview re Passenger Bill of Rights

Wednesday, 17 May, 2017

Transport Minister Marc Garneau - Passenger Bill of Rights news conference

The following is my video interview with Dr. Gabor Lukacs, Air Passenger Rights Advocate, to talk about the new Airline Passenger Bill of Rights (Bill C-49).

Air Passenger Rights Advocate interview re new Passenger Bill of Rights

Legal References:

Dr. Gabor Lukacs, Air Passenger Rights Advocate (FB page), notes references:

News References:

Government news release References:

(May 16, 2017 CBC News Live video, Transport Minister Marc Garneau takes questions about the government’s air passenger bill of rights bill)


Instant Pot DUO-60/DUO-Plus-60 Design Flaw

Thursday, 11 May, 2017

Let me make a few things clear. I enjoy cooking with my iPot (Instant Pot). I even admire the inventor/entrepreneur/company that makes iPot (have a read of this enjoyable and insightful 30th Jan, 2017 Globe & Mail news article “Ottawa entrepreneur’s Instant Pot has attracted a devoted following of home cooks“). I think it is awesome to see Canadian inventor/entrepreneur making a name and money from a great product in US, Canada and around the world.

At the same time, I think it is important to point out problems, or design flaws when we see them. Customer feedbacks are good ways for companies to learn to improve their products over time.

I talk about a design flaw for my Instant Pot DUO-60 in the following video. And then I realized Instant Pot had come out with a newly designed DUO-Plus-60 around April 2017 which unfortunately has the same design flaw (based on unboxing video I watched)  I identified in the video. It is a bit disappointing the design flaw isn’t fixed with the new DUO-Plus-60.

Instant Pot DUO-60/DUO-Plus-60 Design Flaw


Watch Berkshire Hathaway 2017 annual meeting Livestream 10AM ET, May 6th

Tuesday, 2 May, 2017

Have a watch of the livestream of the Berkshire Hathaway 2017 annual event by Yahoo Finance (10AM ET, May 6th Sunday, 2017).

From CNN Money, “Warren Buffett should answer these 6 key questions

Are you ready for the so-called Woodstock of Capitalism? Warren Buffett will address tens of thousands of Berkshire Hathaway shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Omaha on Saturday.

And many more will be watching the festivities on their phones, computers or tablets thanks to a livestream of the event by Yahoo Finance. This is the second straight year that Yahoo will simulcast the event.

May 10, 2017 update:

May 6th, 2017 Market Watch “Warren Buffett live blog recap: Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

May 6th, 2017 FT, “Buffett at Berkshire’s annual meeting 2017 – as it happened

Morningstar, “2017 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting Live Blog


United CEO Oscar Munoz, Executives from Alaska Airlines, SouthWest, American Airlines testify in front of Congress

Tuesday, 2 May, 2017

LIVE FB video stream of senior airline executives testify in front of US Congress.

16:40 United CEO Oscar Munoz
22:28 Alaska Airlines
27:56 SouthWest
33:35 American Airlines
39:37 Consumer Union (policy arm of Consumer Reports)

See also Global News report (with video), “United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz tells U.S. Congress the David Dao incident was ‘a mistake of epic proportions’


Delta beats United and other airlines by offering up to $9,950 (over 7 time previous max.) to flyers who give up seats

Friday, 14 April, 2017

AP is reporting that “In an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press, Delta says gate agents can offer up to $2,000 in compensation, up from a previous maximum of $800, and supervisors can offer up to $9,950, up from $1,350.

With the ongoing United mess which I wrote about here and here, United has lost a chance to turn its mess into an opportunity to lead as Delta beats United and other airlines by offering up to $9,950 (over 7 time previous max. of $1,350) to flyers who give up seats.

April 16, 2017 Update: Too little too late, “United Airlines issues a new policy requiring crews to be booked sooner” – //The company said late Friday that it will now require commuting staff and crew members to check into flights 60 minutes prior to departure.//


What would Warren Buffett tell United Airlines to do?

Thursday, 13 April, 2017

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is reportedly the largest single shareholder of United Airlines parent’s United Continental Holdings (UAL) with a stake of 28.95 million shares, or 9.2% of the shares outstanding (according to latest SEC filings).

So far Buffett has not spoken about this United self-inflicted mess (United Express Flight 3411 incident wiki page) yet but we may learn something from history. You see, Buffett biography The Snowball‘s author Alice Schroeder reported Buffett (an American Express investor) wrote the following during the 1963 Salad Oil Scandal (or “Soybean Scandal”) [with emphasis added],

It is our feeling that three or four years from now, this problem may well have added to the stature of the company [American Express] in establishing standards for financial integrity and responsibility which are far beyond those of the normal commercial enterprise.

Schroeder continues in The Snowball [with emphasis added],

Buffett wrote that two paths lay before the company, and that an American Express that took responsibility and paid the $60 million [note: remember, this is 1963!] to the banks would be worth very substantially more than American Express disclaiming responsibility for its subsidiary’s acts.” He described the $60 million payment as inconsequential in the long run, like a dividend check that got “lost in the mail”.

Using history as guidance, what would Warren Buffett tell United Airlines to do?

My guess is Buffett would advice United CEO Oscar Muñoz (or whoever replaces him) to take responsibility and pay a reasonable amount to settle the pending lawsuit as a United that take responsibility “would be worth very substantially more than United disclaiming responsibility“.

And in an imaginary world that Muñoz (or whoever replaces him) doing the RIGHT THING, “this problem may well have added to the stature of the company [United] in establishing standards for integrity and responsibility which are far beyond those of the normal commercial airlines.” Yes, things need to be done RIGHT now, and United need to lead in “establishing standards for integrity and responsibility which are far beyond those of the normal commercial airlines.

We will see what will happen in time. With Berkshire’s $2 billion (April 13 closing price of $68.07 multiply by 28.95 million shares) investment holding in United, I won’t be surprised reporters will want to ask what Buffett thinks about this mess next time he is interviewed on CNBC or other news media. We will see if I’m right or wrong.

Have a watch of Dr. Dao’s lawyers (more info at Thomas Demetrio’s law firm) and his daughter Crystal Dao Pepper’s hour long press conference today (CNN report) (CBC FB full video, CBC News report).

April 13, 2017 Update:

Sen. Franken (April 11, 2017), “Sen. Franken Presses United Airlines to Explain Forcible Removal of Passenger on Weekend Flight” [emphasis added]

– A federal cap exists on the amount of money a commercial airline may compensate a passenger for being involuntarily denied boarding or rescheduled for a flight. Why was the full amount of $1,350 not offered to passengers aboard Flight 3411 before the passengers were involuntarily denied boarding and forcibly removed? Does the $1,350 cap serve any benefit to consumers?

– Was the Louisville-bound flight oversold prior to including the four United Airlines personnel reported to have been granted seats to enable them to reposition from Chicago to Louisville? If so, were there alternative flight or ground transportation options for these four crew members that could have ensured they arrived in Louisville with sufficient time to board their next flight? Did United Airlines have the ability to assign other crew members to that flight departing from Louisville?

Does United Airlines limit the number of airline tickets that may be oversold on each flight?

Aviation Week, “Podcast: United in Crisis” – ATW and Aviation Daily editors discuss multiple mishaps and backlash after video of passenger’s violent removal goes viral.

LA Times Op-Ed. “Let Richard Branson kill United Airlines

LA Times, “At United Airlines and Wells Fargo, toxic corporate culture starts with the CEORead the rest of this entry »


Boycott United Airlines

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017

united

I tweeted “Seriously, enough is enough. I will never fly @United again!! #BoycottUnitedAirlines #fail” with the above widely shared photo and I meant it. And I tweeted “(CBC News, 10 minutes video) Gabor Lukacs, an air passenger rights advocate, calls @United’s behaviour ‘unacceptable’“, here (CBS News), here, here, here, and retweeted the following videos and photos. (see below) This United self-created mess has now become a viral talking points in news (in Chinese in Apple Daily) and chat shows around the world in multiple languages and cultures. This is million times worse than the United Breaks Guitars moment as not everyone has a guitar but no one wants his/her head bloodied and bruised!

News stories like “United CEO says removed passenger was ‘disruptive and belligerent’” and “Not so friendly skies: United Airlines’ public relations disaster” further highlight United and its CEO just doesn’t get it. United CEO Oscar Munoz doesn’t get that passengers and potential passengers can all see for themselves no human beings should be treated like this. (see videos for yourself) And ultimately, a global company’s weakest local links can bring the reputation down and costing million dollars of lost revenues.

Have a watch of this funny segment “Jimmy Kimmel on Passenger Dragged Off United Flight” that includes a re-imagined United Ad! #funny #fail

More headlines: WaPo, “The full timeline of how social media turned United into the biggest story in the country“; CNN, “Backlash erupts after United passenger gets yanked off overbooked flight“; HKFP “‘Shameless!’: China internet users in uproar over United passenger fiasco“; BBC, “United Airlines: Chinese and Vietnamese anger at passenger removal“; Financial Post, “United shares tumble as passenger-dragging social-media storm spreads worldwide“; CNN Money, “United Airlines shows how to make a PR crisis a total disaster

Charles Mok, a HK legislator, even shared a video of him cutting up his United Mileage Plus card.

Watch of this funny segment “Jimmy Kimmel on Passenger Dragged Off United Flight” that includes a re-imagined United Ad! #funny #fail

Update: UK Daily Mail some info on the 69-year-old Vietnamese-American Dr. David Dao “PICTURED: The internal medicine specialist father-of-five who was beaten and dragged off an overbooked United flight as CEO pens ‘tone deaf’ email DEFENDING staff Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4401444/Name-man-hauled-United-flight-Chicago-revealed.html#ixzz4dxgfMTes Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook“.

Apr 12, 2017 update: This is totally damage control stuff and Read the rest of this entry »


20170206 reading, video, audio list (Trump, Court, Muslim Ban, Tech, Pentagon, Jim Mattis, Harjit Sajjan, Super Bowl Ads, UK Commons Speaker John Bercow, Trudeau, Eugenie Bouchard, Beer sales)

Monday, 6 February, 2017

NYT, “Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles”

CNN, “Apple, Facebook and 95 others join legal fight against Trump travel ban

BBC, “Judging Trump: How the US president and courts interact

CBC News, “Pentagon meeting today: A first for members of Trump-Trudeau cabinets NATO, defence spending levels and peacekeeping operations could be on the table

STAT, “I’m a Syrian doctor who treated patients in Aleppo. I’m in the US to give back

CNN, “How Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ comments can hurt his travel ban case

But as his controversial executive order banning individuals from seven majority-Muslim countries is challenged in the courts, judges will be confronted with his and his surrogates’ record of statements — and could take them both literally and seriously.
Legal challenges to the order point to a series of statements about Trump’s intent to ban Muslims from entering the US as evidence that the move was in fact designed with such a goal in mind — and constitutional law experts agree there is a precedent for the courts taking that argument to heart.
In a case currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for the states of Washington and Minnesota cite previous court holdings on religious discrimination that it is “‘the duty of the courts to distinguish a sham secular purpose from a sincere one.'”
“Here, the sham of a secular purpose is exposed by both the language of the order and defendants’ expressions of anti-Muslim intent,” the lawyers wrote.

Adage, “SUPER BOWL LI COMPLETE AD CHART Who’s Buying Commercials in the Big Game” The business of ads. #2017BigGame Read the rest of this entry »


20170205 reading, video, audio list

Sunday, 5 February, 2017

Zest Online (German English publication), “Adolf Hitler : “Wait Calmly” – They argued he would grow more reasonable once in office and that his cabinet would tame him. A dictatorship? Out of the question! How journalists, politicians, writers and diplomats weighed in on Hitler’s appointment as chancellor.

Apple Daily, “世道人生:「同行」者們

CBC News, “Court denies Trump request to immediately restore travel ban – Trump administration said judge was ‘second-guessing’ president on matter of national security

CBC News, “Trump travel ban has Iranian scientists looking for new places to do research – ‘At some point we want to feel welcome at the place where we are living and working,’ says Harvard student

In a bio-technology lab at Harvard University’s medical school an international group of highly skilled scientists are dreaming up new ways to engineer artificial human tissue with 3-D printers. Some of their brainpower these days, though, isn’t focused on the science but instead on U.S. president Donald Trump’s immigration ban and what it means to them and to their work.

“Half of the discussions in the lab these days are about this topic and not about science,” said Saghi Saghazadeh, a 30-year-old Iranian who has been living and studying in Boston for two years, on a single-entry J1 visa.

She’s one of 20 Iranians, with varying legal status, working in this one lab of 100 people at Harvard. It draws doctoral students and instructors from all over the world.

But their expertise doesn’t exempt them from the travel ban enacted more than a week ago.

立場新聞, “政治眾籌

K’s note: 香港人應該留意多啲中國新聞, 睇多一點世界大事. 藝術家艾未未早於2011年, 已經用「借錢」同「債主」一個概念, 在認為「錢大晒」嘅中國大陸, 發揮左民主發聲音嘅嘅精神! #借款近3萬筆 [HT Tsoi]
//11月4日,艾未未的支持者在網上發起借錢運動,通過支付寶、郵政匯款、銀行轉賬等方式匯款,甚至有人夜間隔着牆往他家裏扔錢。艾未未稱「每一分錢都還」[79][80]。官方媒體《環球時報》當天發表社評稱「艾未未『借錢還稅』搞得太戲劇性」[81][82]
2011年11月13日,艾未未從支持者那獲得「借款」近3萬筆,903萬元 //

xxx


20170204 reading, video, audio list

Saturday, 4 February, 2017

Calgary Herald, #LovelyStory “La La’s local connection: Calgary grandparents proud of Oscar-nominated Damien Chazelle

NPR, “Fact Checking This Week In The Trump Administration

WaPo, “Meet the Bush-nominated federal judge who halted Trump’s executive order

Guardian, “James Robart: judge derided by Trump known for fairness and helping children

WaPo, “Trump’s rallying cry: Fear itself

“If he frightens people, it puts him in the driver’s seat. He’s in control,” said historian Robert Dallek. “These are what I think can be described as demagogic tendencies.”

Timothy Naftali, a New York University professor who specializes in presidential and national security history, said, “We have a special word for seeing a threat everywhere. It’s called ‘paranoia.’ It’s good for mobilizing a base. It’s very bad for turning a base into a governing majority.”

Read the rest of this entry »


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