Friday, October 24, 2014

SAR #14296

Nature is far more creative than we are.

Yes, But:We are a proud democracy, a welcoming and peaceful nation, and a country of open arms and open hearts. We are a nation of fairness, justice and the rule of law. We will not be intimidated into changing that”. So said Canadian MP Justin Trudeau, as PM Stephen Harper pushed the Maple Leaf edition of the Patriot Act through parliament. He did not, however, tell Canadians to go shopping. 
Alert: North Korea has banned all tourists in the country in fear of an Ebola outbreak. Both of them were disappointed.

CAT's Out of the Bag: Caterpillar has raised its earnings forcast for this year and said that sales may gain in 2015 if the world's economy doesn't fall apart. Most of the improvement in its per-share earnings comes from its enormous buy-back program. CAT is on schedule to spend $10 billion repurchasing its stock, instead of investing in its business. It's called 'buying growth'. 
Touching Base: Unemployment claims were up 17,000 last week, the CPI was up a measly 0.1% in September and 1.7% over the last year, thus Social Security recipients will get a 1.7% raise come January. (Celebrate responsibly) and real hourly wages fell in September, the sixth time in the last 7 months that wages stagnated. 
Seconded: Speaking at the UN, Noam Chomsky said that it would be nice if the United States lived up to international law. Surprising, too.

Finally: The US is “threatening sanctions” on countries and companies buying oil from the Islamic State – which at a million dollars a day from the oil and hundreds of millions in free American armaments courtesy of fleeing Iraqi troops is the wealthiest bunch of terrorists ever. Well, non-state terrorists.

Hand Me The Decoder Ring: When Britain's largest retailer, Tesco, reported a 92% fall in pre-tax profits, the CEO said that a mysterious black hole had appeared in its profits. That's a quote. So's this, as the big guy reassures us: "My decision reflects the important principle of accountability on behalf of the board and will support the company to draw a line under the past as it enters the next phase of its development... Consideration will be given to all options which increase flexibility and create value for customers and shareholders." He also said he would be spending more time with his family.

Tippie Toes: Under new regulations in the UK, computer users who damage national security, human welfare, the economy or the environment can be imprisoned for life. What constitutes “damage” and how much of this undefined act would trigger arrest were not detailed. “Trust us” seems to be the byword. Because they don't trust you.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

SAR #14295

Protecting Democracy: Turkey, in a move aimed at "strengthening the guarantee of public liberties and security", will now jail demonstrators found to be in possession of banned objects such as “stones and other sharp objects” or suspected of possessing such things, or guilty of talking about demonstrations on public social media will be arrested, “without concrete evidence”, and then be sentenced to four years in jail. Presumably after being found guilty of something. That this law follows an ALEC model designed for the US states was not immediately verified. 
Spineless: Half of the world's vertebrate wildlife population has disappeared in the last 40 years. We're winning!

Privatization: Maine Governor Paul 'Company Store' LePage wants to sell students' loans to their employers because it could be “a very profitable operation” for the state. Certainly would simplify garnishing their wages.

Tarred Heels: For 18 years athletes at the University of North Carolina have been guided into classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies which do not meet, have no professors, and give A's and B's to everyone, especially football and basketball players. The theory is that no one in the University's administration knew this was happening, and no one above the rank of water-boy in the Athletic department had a clue either. 
Revisionism: Now the National Institute of Health says you should eat more fat. As far as the previous decades-long campaign against fat, well that “belief system didn't pan out.”

Loyalty: In KY, Senator Mitch McConnell's campaign (McConnell himself, as usual, knew nothing) paid his former campaign manager $100,000 this summer, some of it on the day he resigned because of his involvement in a bribery scheme in Iowa. In SD, Governor Mike Rounds (another Republican) acknowledged that he knew Richard Benda, one of his cabinet, was going to work for Northern Beef meatpackers when he gave the company a $600,000 low cost state loan, $225,000 of which went directly to Benda. The plant is now out of business; Benda is not.

Lunch Money: Russia wants Ukraine to get a couple of billion dollars from the EU or the US and give it to them. And soon. This week. Or no gas.

Rights, His, Yours & Mine: A California man with tattoos covering his arms, shoulder and neck thinks it should be illegal for employers to discriminate against him because of his tattoos. Tattoos are voluntary. Body piercings are voluntary. Being fat is pretty much voluntary. Declining to hire people because of the things they voluntarily do is also voluntary.

Margin: Republican MI Gov. Snyder has signed a bill banning Tesla from selling its cars directly to customers and saving them the money that Snyder's donors would make by jacking up the prices. 
Spoiled of War: Pretty much in lockstep with the failure of the US war in Afghanistan, the effort to eradicate poppy cultivation in the country was also a complete bust; the $7.6 billion US effort has resulted a record-level opium crop this year.

Listen Carefully: The Australian government says that blocking websites is not the same as filtering web content. But then, of late the Australian government has been saying a lot of silly things.

Porn O'Graph: Send in the subs.