Monday, January 26, 2015

SAR #15026

"The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology." Michael Parenti

Either / Or: The Eu (for which read Germany) insists that the Greeks must continue to suffer from pointless austerity or they will be made to suffer pointlessly. Don't they understand that the Greeks have said 'Enough'? Of course the vote just represents the people, not the oligarchs who continue to run the country. Stay tuned, the fat lady isn't even on stage yet.

Godfather: Obama has cut short his delicate diplomatic visit to India to go scurrying off to Riyadh to kiss the new king's ring and promise allegiance to the their oil. The Saudis expressed their disappointment that the President could not stay to watch a beheading or at least a flogging.

Apple In Your Eye: The ever-popular iPhone comes with a free set of secret software embedded that lets NSA remotely and secretly turn the phone on, activate the microphone and camera and see what you are up to. Literally see.

Redundancy and Infrastructure: More than 140 million people - up to 80% of the population - lost electricity after militants attacked two transmission towers and caused a massive power surge. In Pakistan. It would take more than knocking down a couple of power poles to shut down the US electric grid. But ten or twelve well chosen ones might be a different story.

Tabled: When the US delegates brought up the subject of human rights abuses, their Cuban counterparts were quick to agree that steps should be take over the abuses at Guantanamo, the epidemic of cop-on-black killings, racial profiling in New York and the rampant gender inequalities throughout US society. Talks have been temporarily adjourned. 
Nomenclature: The gyrations in the foreign exchange markets – politely being described as “the evolution of the monetary basis of world trade” - are what is more often referred to as currency wars as the US, the EU, Russia, China and Great Britain try to beggar each other to their own advantage. Capitalism at its pest. 
Punchline: As Obama just commented, “Large countries shouldn't bully smaller countries.” No, we shouldn't. But we do.

Reality Check: A new report describes the extremes expected in the climate in the US Midwest by 2100. Not only will the overall increase in temperatures put Iowa out of the corn business (it'll shift to near Hudson Bay, which has pretty thin soil), there will be more heat deaths, costlier electricity, and a decline in overall workforce productivity, as Missouri comes to resemble Arizona and Chicago being the new Dallas with as many as 115 days above 95 degrees per year. Even going outdoors for an hour or so on some days will be unsafe - “literally unbearable to humans.” And don't ask about the oceans; ocean temperatures are climbing so fast that the scientist have to keep adding tot he top of the scale.

Watch Your Posturing: Obama is going to make the Republicans go through the steps to invalidate his attemt to keep the oil and gas industry out of 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It's all theater.

Target: If the Supremes decide the Obamacare subsidy case the way the Republicans want, the majority of those who will lose their health insurance will be “white, Southern, employed and middle-aged.” IOW, a huge chunk of the Republican base.

Porn O'Graph: Corn, soybeans and wheat, oh my.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

SAR #15024

Voters are as ill-informed as their elected representatives
Exceptionalism: The US government has acknowledged that Australian David Hicks, who the CIA tortured for five years, turned out to be innocent. A letter of apology will not be forthcoming. 
This Will Go Over Well: The White House says that the President will not be meeting with Israeli President Netanyahu when he visits the House of Representatives to thank them for voting the way Israel's lobbyists pay them to. He'll also tell them – or at least Boehner and the Republicans – to stop Obama's negotiations with Iran.

Happy Birthday: On the 42nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, House Republicans pushed through another pointless bill tightening federal abortion restrictions. This was the annual ceremonial passing of a ban on using federal funds to pay for abortions, with the added foolishness of banning those who receive any federal support in paying for their insurance – which is the poor and near poor and mostly women – from using that insurance to cover an abortion, even if medically necessary. Way to go, guys. And it's just the guys – the lady Republicans feel they don't want to defend the old “legitimate rape” thingy again. None of this matters, it's just pandering to the conservative Christians who spend too much time trying to control women. Obama will veto the measure if it limps through the Senate.

Fried With That? McDonald's has reported a 7.3% fall in quarterly sales and an annual profit plunge of 15%. Because the recovery...

Repeat Business: Supreme Court appears ready to gut the fair housing act by requiring that plaintiffs prove intent on the part of bankers and realtors to discriminate in housing, rather than pointing to the actual effects of their discrimination. Basically the argument (which the Roberts court bought in the voting rights case) is that results don't matter, just intent – and intent has to be in the form of some evidence written down somewhere that the plaintiffs can access and produce in court
Scouting Report: Former Bundesbank president and current chair of UBS Axel Weber says that the ECB's attempt at QE is not sufficient either in scope or amount and that “changes to labor market rules and pension schemes” are also needed. Those 'changes' include the abolishing of labor laws and the looting of pensions.

Recovery 6.4: Sales of existing homes has fallen Y/Y for the first time in half a decade, mostly because the middle class isn't anymore.

Quoted: We think that the current trends in the oil market and the global economy are only pushing the world oil to lower levels. We think the crisis is only at its earliest stages and the demand situation in world market is not really conducive to oil prices going up,” Vagit Alekperov, CEO of Russian oil giant Lukoil, pointing to a possible $25/bbl environment for crude oil . Others suspect that if oil drops below $30 a barrel,a severe global recession “is inevitable.”