Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: End of an era for GM

AUTOS/Even though it was expected, it was still a jolt: GM declared bankruptcy this morning, the third-largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history and the biggest ever in U.S. manufacturing.

Unthinkable a decade ago, now General Motors is yet another casualty of the cratered U.S. economy, with taxpayers putting up $30 billion for a 60 percent stake in the company. The GM filing followed just hours after a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of virtually all of automaker Chrysler’s assets to a group led by Italy’s Fiat SpA.

Within minutes of the filing, the headlines were rocketing around the Web:
The Washington Post: “Filing Marks the End of Financial Independence for Industrial Icon”
The New York Times: “A Risky Bet to Save an Icon of American Capitalism”
The Drudge Report led its page with a photo of the GM logo under a U.S. flag, headlined: “Government Motors.”

It wasn’t a total blue Monday for the U.S. economy, though, as consumer spending eased and personal income rose in April, the largest increase in almost a year.

President Barack Obama, fresh from a slightly controversial “date night” in New York City over the weekend, will be talking about the automotive industry at the White House around midday, before an afternoon visit to the National Naval Medical Center. The Senate returns from recess today, with the House still out.

The First Draft: Safety day – cyber security and hurricane preparedness

Though North Korea and the the looming bankruptcy of General Motors are at the top of many minds in Washington, today President Barack Obama turns his public focus to cybersecurity and hurricane preparedness.

At 11 a.m. Obama speaks at an event at the White House about the country’s cyber infrastructure. He may give some explanation of how powerful his new “cyberczar” may be – a question that has concerned the tech industry, which wants to top cybersecurity person to be based in the White House to assure access to the president.

The cybersecurity program is aimed at organizing federal agencies to better share information KATRINAand ensure better security of government computers and networks. Holes in U.S. cybersecurity defenses have allowed major incidents of identity and intellectual property theft. Sensitive military information has also reportedly been stolen by cyber-spies.