By Walt Hickey
Here To Stay Is The New Bird
Bird Canada is a scooter company, one that’s been separate from the main Bird scooter company, an independently owned and operated company founded in 2019 that basically licensed the Bird name and software but owns its own scooters and e-bikes and permits. It’s in 10 Canadian cities and, despite frigid adverse weather conditions to a scooter company one might expect in cities like Calgary and Edmonton, it’s actually doing really well. That’s in contrast to the mothership Bird, which has faced possible delisting from the NYSE and has had to contend with an admission that it overstated revenue for two and a half years. The snowbirds won this time, it seems, as Bird Canada is here to the rescue in a merger that is pretty much a takeover, where Bird Canada will inject $32 million into Bird Global and combine it with its own brand for a $64 million company.
Cabs seeking to pick up passengers at JFK Airport in New York must enter a queue in a holding lot before being dispatched. Two men have been arrested in Queens after federal law enforcements alleged they worked with Russian nationals to hack that dispatch system and offer an illegal pay-to-play fast lane for cab drivers. The men allegedly charged $10 to hop to the front of the line, spreading word about it through word of mouth and large group chat threads. While operating the scheme the pair reportedly could pull off 1,000 such fraudulently expedited cab line hops a day, a tidy business. Each face two counts of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.
It’s a bumper crop of cocaine last year in Colombia, with output hitting record levels. The amount of land planted with coca reached 204,000 hectares, up 43 percent. That’s poised to lead to record amounts of cocaine production in years to come, as it takes coca bushes years to reach full production and thus the overall potential output last year was up only 14 percent. Colombia’s received over $10 billion in U.S. aid since the beginning of Plan Colombia in the 1990s, and while the land planted with coca was down 70 percent from 2000 to 2012, the War on Drugs is still very much in the “drugs are winning” phase of combat.
The weird annual vehicle commercials featuring a couple where one buys the other a new car is, in fact, based in reality, and people do, in fact, buy people cars as gifts in the holidays. One Lexus dealer in New Jersey estimated that 15 percent of holiday season sales are gifts, which you could take with a grain of salt until you learn that the gigantic bows that they put on top of cars are also real, thousands of which are made by King Size Bows annually and sold to dealerships and customers. That said, if you are expecting a car in your stocking, do know things are rough out there this year: Orders for the gigantic bows you put on top of cars are down 35 percent this holiday season.
Joe Pinsker, The Wall Street Journal
Only about half of households in a city actually own their homes, with much of the rest renting. Across 190 municipalities studied, the citywide homeownership rate is about 50 percent. That said, renters lack representation at all levels of government; an analysis of 10,800 representatives across municipalities, statehouses and federal government found that 93 percent definitely or likely owned their home, including 83 percent of mayors. This means that systematically, members of government in the United States lack a connection to the housing needs of about half their constituency.
The U.S. Postal Service announced that it will add 66,000 fully electric delivery trucks to its fleet, a major shift from a proposal where out of 84,000 delivery vehicles purchased a mere 40 percent of them would be electric vehicles, which itself was an improvement on a ghastly original proposal where only 10,019 electric vehicles would be added to the fleet. This means that USPS will buy 60,000 vehicles from Oshkosh, 45,000 of which are electric, and then will now look to other manufacturers for another 46,000 vehicles, 21,000 of which will be electric.
I am pleased to announce that the debate is settled, the question is answered and the number is in: Yeah, the guy who wrote the song “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” definitely got rich. It hit No. 1 on the Billboard Christmas Songs chart in 1983, and eventually and inexplicably entered the canon. The song’s publishing has made $800,000 in royalties and the master recording of the original Elmo & Patsy performance that first kicked it off has made at least $2.5 million from record sales and streaming in the United States alone, which mostly goes to Sony. A re-recording by the artist to get control of a new master recording under the name Dr. Elmo has made a further $7 million, not counting licensing for television and film.
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I believe Elmo and Patsy owe a great deal of gratitude to my two year old as that's been his favorite song to stream all holiday season. :-)