“You can’t negotiate with nature.” Paul Ehrlich.
Ground Rules: The attack on BP's Amenas gas plant came too soon after France’s military adventure in Mali for that to have been the actual cause. The terrorists took over a well defended plant and held it for four days while holding a large number of hostages. No demands were issued. The dead hostages appear to have died in the Algerian assaults, not from executions. No damage was done to the plant by the terrorists. So, what was this all about? A try-out for a leadership position? A demonstration of will and ability aimed at encouraging future blackmail payoffs?
Apologies: Yesterday I questioned Harry Reid's waffling on reforming the Senate's filibuster rules. Tuesday he announced he will use the 'nuclear option' to reform the "untamed menace" of the filibuster as now used by Republicans, making it clear that he neither expects, wants, nor needs Republican support on the issue. Finally.
Life As We Know It: A majority of Americans, 54%, believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 70% say Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. Faced with overwhelming support, Republicans anti-choice zealots are turning to less public, piecemeal approaches to ending abortion access in the US, concentrating on gerrymandered safe districts in state legislatures to force their version of Sharia law on an inattentive public.
Ecumenicism: A well regarded ultra-orthodox Jewish religious counselor in NYC has been sentenced to 103 years in prison for molesting a young girl. See, it's not always the Catholics, it just seems that way.
The Shadow Knows: What happened to the shadow housing inventory hanging over the housing market? Where are last year's 3 to 10 million houses that were in foreclosure or doomed to be so soon? By late 2012 the shadow inventory had fallen to just over 2 million. The theory is that many of the off-market houses were bundled into large group purchases by investors, while many more - following the recent series of mortgage settlements - have finally been refinanced and removed from (current) potential default and foreclosure. Most remarkable, though, has been the determination with which underwater homeowners make the poor investment decision to keep paying on their losing propositions in hopes of at least breaking even some day - mostly because they feel obligated not to fail on their promise to pay. Shame, in other words, has kept many houses off the market.
Good On Them: Wal-Mart has finally told its global supply network that if they contract work to factories that have not been authorized by Wal-Mart - in terms of health and safety issues - Wal-Mart will immediately cease doing business with them. Late, but admirable.
Old Folks At Home: Japan's Finance Minister wants elderly people to "hurry up and die." Calling the incapacitated elderly "tube people", he said he would refuse end-of-life care for himself. Maybe he's been reading Paul Ryan's stuff.
Wholly Mackerel: Mackerel has been struck off a list of sustainable fish, because the total catch is far in excess of limits "scientifically recommended and previously agreed upon by all participating countries.” Never a cop around when you need one.
Porn O'Graph: Where the boys are. Girls, too.
The Parting Shot: