Saturday, April 30, 2011

SAR #11120

The mission is still not accomplished.

Change You Can Believe In: over 5,000 civilian protesters have been tried by the Egyptian military since Mubarak was deposed. Typically 5 to 30 defendants share a 20 minute trial, are found guilty and disappear. In Bahrain, 4 men have been sentenced to death for protesting such things. Riots continue in Kampala, Uganda, sparked by rising food and fuel prices and President-Forever Museveni's vicious response to a peaceful protest. In Syria, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Damascus and other towns and cities to decry the military's attempt to crush the movement with tanks and machine guns.

US Healthcare Explained: Insurance companies only make money if they do not pay your claims. Health insurance companies make lots of money. Death panels, indeed.

Job Fair: McDonald's held a National Hiring Day and over a million applicants showed up for the 50,000 jobs. In Chicago 75,000 applied for the 2,000 available jobs. Don't get excited, Panasonic will cut 40,000 workers from its world-wide payroll over the next two years, assuming the economy doesn't get any worse and tsunamis and nuclear reactors behave.

Lost In Translation:Russia has again boosted – to 44% - the export tax on gasoline in a doomed attempt to keep fuel at home available and cheap. This didn't work in the 1990's and is unlikely to work now – after all, Gaddafi is still selling oil.

Shock Doctrine: The IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank insist that as a condition for a bailout, Portugal must streamline the labor market, “facilitate the sacking of workers” and reduce or eliminate various social support programs, including unemployment compensation. Naomi Klein warned us.

A Reminder: Paste a picture, any recent picture, of Donald Trump – the Republican id - on the refrigerator, just to remind you what Republicans see when they look in the mirror.

Gotcha!A lot of headlines like this one: “SORRY, AL: Tornadoes whipped up by wind, not 'climate change'... Let's do a little experiment and see what causes wind... Oh, hot air rising. And global warming predicts more heat in the atmosphere, which leads to more of that hot air rising... Damn. Let's just say an increase in tornadoes (and hurricanes and snowfall) is not contra-indicative of global climate change.

Land of the Rising Sun: The Fukushima disaster is spreading through the Japanese economy, with a 15.3% plunge in February's industrial production and household spending sliding at an annualized 8.5% rate.

Noted: The world's central banks pumped $5 trillion into the global financial system in a desperate attempt to save the bankers. All that “liquidity” accounts for the rising stock markets and zooming commodity prices. These are bubbles and not indicative of any underlying strength in the economy. They are bubbles and they will burst. This time we won't be able to say “nothing like this has ever happened before.” Even Greenspan should be able to see this one coming.

Look Ma, No Responsibility: In lieu of addressing any of the substantive problems facing the nation, the Republicans intend on passing a sweeping anti-abortion bill that would eliminate employer deductions for health plans that cover abortion, essentially making insurance-paid abortions impossible to obtain. The Senate will kill the measure, once the GOP gets to take its bows.

Ben's Boys: Mr. Bernanke's efforts to pump up the stock market are appreciated by the 54% of Americans who still have at least $47 left in their 401(k)s.

The Beat Goes On: The five corporate appointees to the Supreme Court have ruled that companies can insist that customers agree to individual binding arbitration as a condition of purchasing the item or service, thus preventing future class action lawsuits.

Porn O'Graph: Goldfingers.