RIP for AOL

Time Warner’s long corporate nightmare is almost over. It announced that it would dump AOL by spinning off the onetime new media giant as an independent company by the end of the year.

The 2001 merger of AOL and Time Warner, a deal valued at $124 billion, was hailed as the marriage of new media and old media with trendy new media in the driver’s seat. It was a short trip.

The dot-com bubble burst. AOL’s stock turned out to be greatly overvalued, its business model in decline and, moreover, the two corporate cultures grew to detest each other.

What should the U.S. do about North Korea?

North Korea is rattling the saber again. But this time, Kim Jong Il may unsheathe his sword on South Korea and U.S. troops stationed there.

Pyongyang this week tested a nuclear weapon and launched three missiles in two days over the Sea of Japan. The North Koreans then said they would no longer recognize the 1953 armistice that suspended the Korean War and threatened Seoul with attack if South Korea attempted to search any North Korean ships for unlawful nuclear materials.

Can Republicans risk a fight over Sotomayor?

For the Republican Party, already reeling over recent suicidal moves, a fight over the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court seems doomed appears doomed from the start.

Such a fight would further erode support for the party among Hispanics at a time when the party needs to broaden its support to regain political strength.

Even some Republicans admit taking on Sotomayor is a risky strategy.

Soldier suicides force Army base shutdown

With the stress of prolonged wars, extended tours and multiple deployments driving American military men and women to the brink, a major army base shut down for three days yesterday because of a rash of suicides.

At least 11 deaths at Fort Campell, KY, over the past year have come from suicide with 64 members of the Army taking their lives over the six months. Commanders say the rate of self-inflicted deaths will set a record.

The report follows the murder of soldiers by another soldier in Iraq and reports of escalating mental problems among military men and women.

Former Bush Homeland Security pick indicted

Former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, the man former President George W. Bush wanted to head Homeland Security, now faces charges of lying about taking bribes from contractors who rennovated his New York apartment while serving as the Big Apple’s top cop.

A federal grand jury indicted Kerik for making false statements about his relationships with the contractors during the vetting process for the Homeland Security job.

North Korea raises stakes in nuclear threats

North Korea’s nuclear test makes it no likelier that the regime will actually launch a nuclear attack, but it adds a scary dimension to another threat: the defiant North as a facilitator of the atomic ambitions of others, potentially even terrorists.

It also presents another major security crisis for President Barack Obama, already saddled with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a nuclear problem with Iran.

Loose lips still sink ships

The British government waited until 1974 to reveal that the Enigma machines it acquired in 1939 allowed Winston Churchill to decipher most Nazi military transmissions. That British authorities kept this secret for 29 years after WWII is a model of official self-control.

Today, Washington’s approach is exactly opposite: Don’t await the end of the War on Terror (oops…the Overseas Contingency Operation). Spill secrets now! Consider these recent items, some details of which I have blurred — to tell enemy readers less, not more;;

Credit card reform or just smoke & mirrors?

Finally, the government has done something for real consumers by smiting the odious practices of credit card companies. Or, has it?

President Obama persuaded Congress to pass legislation that deems it evil when credit card companies suddenly raise the already exorbitant double-digit interest rate on your credit card debt to even more astronomical levels. (Whereas we consumers get a paltry two percent, if we’re lucky, on money we put in the bank.)