Remember, 95% of world's population are not Americans.
Game On! Obama's visit was not enough to budge the long-stalled free trade talks between the US and South Korea. Progress has been hampered by the US lack of understanding that it cannot negotiate from a position of power when doesn't have any. European Union signed a free trade agreement with South Korea last month. The G20 group of countries agreed to avoid ”competitive devaluation" of currencies but fell short of backing the US push on China's currency. Just another sign that the trade and currency wars are warming up.
One Way Wall Street: Small investors have once again become convinced that stocks only go up up up, and that's bad, bad, bad.
The Good News Is Bad: Don't let the 4% decline in foreclosures in October fool you. The cause was not a sudden strengthening of the economy, it was the pause in forging fraudulent paperwork. As soon as the robo-signing is legitimized (of course it will be, don't be naïve) it'll be off to the races again.
Shortcut: The Debt-Reduction Commission plan has been released. There is no point in concerning yourself with these proposals, because not a one of them will survive the political process. Several won't even pass the laugh test. Worry about something else for a while.
Strategic Withdrawal: The Obama administration has decided to “de-emphasize” the promise to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in July 2011 and to replace it with the vague suggestion that a withdrawal beginning in 2014 might be possible. But the military is also talking about establishing “an enduring partnership with Afghanistan”. Beats saying things are falling apart and we're planning on occupying the country indefinitely.
Prescience: In the six months before Cisco announced that it expected revenue growth to slow by 50%, Cisco insiders sold 6,620,000 shares – 60% of their holdings. Coincidence, just rebalancing their portfolios.
Eat Your Veggies: Big Pharma plans to begin embedding microchips in medications, so that the pills can tell the doctor if the patient is taking the medicine properly. A few modifications will be required before the pills will tell Homeland Security where you are and what you are up to – but you can bet they’re working on it. They say it's for your own good – don't swallow that.
Extensions: Social Security data shows that since 1977 the life expectancy of wealthy males at age 65 has grown 6 years, while those in the bottom half of the income curve have only added 1.3 years. Guess who gets screwed when the retirement age gets raised, the janitors or the investment bankers?
How Safe Is Safe? The government says that seafood from the Gulf is just fine. Multiple independent tests disagree. "I wouldn't eat shrimp, fish or crab caught in the Gulf," is the verdict from one research scientist.
Out Damned Spot: If the Republicans get their way, government spending on science will be drastically cut: NASA by 15%, NIH down 9%, NOAA cut 34%, and NSF 19%. Republicans appeal to a constituency that neither understands nor trusts science, fearing that it will undermine religious faith. (Don't need to waste money on science when you don't plan to use the results... )
Privatization: Cops and other emergency vehicles have transmitters that tell traffic signals to turn green for them. How long before some tax-starved city starts selling these devices to drivers who find red lights annoying? California already has "Lexus Lanes" on freeways that restricted to drivers who pay a toll to use them.
Heads & Tails I Win: If a mortgagee fails to keep the property insured, the loan servicer can – on behalf of the mortgage holder's interest – buy comparable insurance. So far so good. But what if the servicer owns the insurance company? And what if the new policy costs 8 times what the lapsed one did? And what if this enormous fee for the servicer is added onto the loan? Well, then it's just business as usual in the mortgage foreclosure game.
Porn O'Grpah: Nude descending a staircase.