Monday, April 28, 2014

SAR #14117

Before you get all teary eyed about 'freedom', is that 'freedom from' or 'freedom to'; the freedom from responsibility, the freedom to do whatever you want regardless of others, freedom from the obligations of citizenship? What freedoms, for whom?

Baby Steps: The military junta that stole Egypt away from the Arab Spring and overthrew an elected government has sentenced 683 members of the Muslim Brotherhood (which won the election) to death, as it marches towards democracy.

Barely Essential: Why Is Blackwater Helping to Train Brazil’s World Cup Security?

Rains, Poors: With 100% of California now in drought conditions and the only water available is being parceled out very stingily by the federal government, pot growers face dire times & pot users can expect to pay higher prices to get high.

Late To The Dance: PBS has become aware that “new surveillance techniques” might raise privacy concerns. Might? Concerns?

Somebody Just Noticed: The Times has just now breathlessly reported that The Recovery has created “far more low-wage jobs than better-paid ones.” Okay, we've noted that, too, but what is the usual ratio of well-paid to low-paid jobs in our economy?

Unforgiven? US commercial lenders have increased their holdings of government debt every month this year and now hold $1.85 trillion – within 2% of the record high from 2012. Banks can't find sufficiently credit-worth applicants – individuals or corporations – to lend to, so just as the fed keeps printing, the banks keep stashing this new money in US notes. Which does nothing to help the economy recover, but acts as free money for the banks and bankers. It certainly makes the banks sounder, they're not taking any risks at all.

RSVP'd: In five years of pin-pointedly accurate drone strikes, the US has killed at least 127 of the top 25 al-Qaeda leaders, some of them several times, as well as several hundred freeloaders who crashed the wrong wedding parties.

Potish Kettling: Turkey has called on the EU and US to condemn the death penalties handed out in Egypt, without mentioning the decade-long suppression of dissent and imprisonment of journalists by the corrupt and vindictive Erdogan regime.

Penny Saved: Apple's cash horde has fallen from $158.8 billion to a paltry $150.6 billion, so the poor baby will have to issue some bonds in order to give $90 billion back to its shareholders in the form of buybacks. Yeah, I know the math doesn't make sense unless holding cash is more profitable than borrowing cash, but what do I know, I'm not an iPeople.

Cowboys In Drag: For over a hundred years the federal government has let miners, loggers and ranchers use (and abuse) public lands in the west for a fraction of its value. Now one of these wellfare queens, a racist named Bundy, has been caught not even paying the greatly discounted fees he owed and somehow – just like most of the rest of those freeloaders - magically transformed himself into a rugged individualist confronting the evil government (which in this case is you and I). Bundy is the quintessential libertarian, stealing from the public with no regard for others or the common good. In short, a thief.

The Parting Shot:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

SAR 14116

Of late, starting wars has not worked out quite so well for us; do you think stumbling into one will turn out any better?

From The Front: Whatever Hollande's approach is, or is supposed to be, to building the French economy, it isn't working out. Unemployment in the second largest economy in Europe (and fifth largest in the world) is going rapidly downhill -which is why the far right Le Front National is gaining strength. For the 32nd time in 34 months, French unemployment has risen – once more to a new record high. Vive la France. In neighboring Spain the government thinks citizens' protests can be simply outlawed. Barricades, anyone?

Ante Up: If the public protests are not loud and strong, the FCC will be giving the Internet to the rich, effectively killing the great leveling potential the web had for the common man. More, later, assuming I'm not priced out of the 'net.

Serving And Protecting: Four Philadelphia narcs lied to get search warrants, stole stuff while conducting radis and sexually assaulted at least three women. Both local and Federal prosecutors have declined to prosecute these brave men in blue.

Morality Play: Chase Bank (with Bank of America in a supporting role) has suddenly and without explanation closed the bank accounts of hundreds of performers in the porn industry. Wall Street's prostitutes, on the other hand, are welcome, as are drug traffickers doing their laundry. Amusingly, the feds are seeking more than $13 billion from BofA for fraudulent RMBS.

Truth In Advertising: Verison has acknowledged that it tracks both your use of and your location on all your web devices, and will 'share' (for which read 'sell') that information with advertisers. And cops.

Rotten To The Cores: We now learn what the authorities have known since May 2011: all three of the active nuclear reactors at Fukushima melted down. One appears to have been completely blown into the environment and another melted through the reactor vessel, through the containment vessel and has disappeared into the ground. In essence, Japanese experts “have no idea where the cores of the nuclear reactors are.”

It's A Gas! Iin its drilling productivity report the EIA has been consistently exaggerating the volume of shale gas production by at least 38%. That's okay, any day now the rules of physics will be overturned in favor of prospectus' promises.

Without Comment, Which Is Comment Enough: Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser warns Australia risks war with China unless Australian ties lto the US military are greatly reduced. Suction. 
Porn O'Graph: Ah, the difference.

Noted: We are winding down or vacation and expect to resume normal bradcasting by mid-week.

The Parting Shot: 

Friday, April 25, 2014

SAR #14114

It is in our nature to attach meaning to chance events, either taking the credit or laying the blame.

Traveling Salesman: Obama, having completely screwed up a chance to have a national single-payer health system as his legacy, is now trying to make his mark by forcing Asian nations to hand their sovereignty over to international cartels, by labeling anything that cuts into the potential profits of the world-wide corporate masters 'trade barriers'. Let's hope he fails at this at least as badly as he did with healthcare.

Point of Order: Globally March was the 4th warmest March on record. It was also the 349th consecutive month to be hotter than the 20th century average for that month. That's 29 straight years of warming.

Asked: If 10 million homeowners are still underwater, how long will the recovery take?

Nailing It Down: Some commenters suspect that part of the slowdown in the housing sector is due to houses becoming unaffordable by the general population. Over half of existing home sales are made by investors, intent of making a profit by renting them to people who can't afford to buy them. It is obvious that housing will not save the US economy. 
Asked & Answered: Is a state that adheres rigidly to low taxes, right-to-work laws and a minuscule minimum wage typically a high-growth economic state? No, why do you ask?

Finely Printed: A lot of student loans have cosigner covenants that cite the death of the co-signer as cause for calling the loan. So children who have just buried a parent are forced to sell of whatever inheritance they get and convey it to the bank. Immediately.

More Is Less: The Labor Department reports initial unemployment claims jumped 24,000 last week, to 329,000. Yeah, recovery! Must have snowed somewhere, or something.

My View: The Magnificent Seven, or at least a controlling majority of them, have decided that whatever a majority of voters endorse is prima facie acceptable and constitutional. In ruling that Michigan's banning of affirmative action was not decided on the basis of whether or not affirmative action was needed, necessary, a social recompense for previous sins, the right thing to do, or any of that, they duck the essential question of generational justice. The very essence of the decision is that the voters can overrule the Constitution point by point and if the voters decide that some people who have made a bad choice in ancestors are to stay poor and uneducated, well the people have spoken.

Inquiring Minds: Without abundant and cheap petroleum, can we grow enough food to avoid a severe dieback of the human population? No, and why would we want to?

Protecting and Serving: In Virginia, state narcs executed a drug-related search warrant on the wrong apartment, tied up a 75 year-old woman while they searched her place. She was, of course, guilty of being black. In Texas a cop who came to take a report of a burglary got annoyed at the victim's dog for barking at him, so he shot it. Only wounded it. The report says the owner was forced to strangle the dog to end its misery. Hard to believe, but Texas is the place that's proud to say that 19 heat-related prisoner deaths does not warrant installing air-condition in the prisons. And the Black Robe gang has ruled that your local cops can stop and search you based solely on an anonymous call to a 911 line. Homeland Security baked a cake.

Tooth Fairy: Hard to believe, but most Americans still think owning a home is a good idea.

Porn O'Graph: Recovery, the bitter end.

The Parting Shot:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SAR #14112

Philanthropy is not charity, it is the rich using tax write-offs to shape society to their purposes. D S Wright

Fan, Stuff Hitting The: There are allegations that Poland's NATO-installed leadership was pressured last fall to provide a month or so of training to persons to be dispatched to Ukraine to stir up trouble. Now Biden runs off to Kiev to boost the morale of the chosen oligarchs in our struggle to appropriate Ukraine's natural resources for Western Capitalists. Back in DC, the US warns Putin he has “days, not weeks” to fall in line. Grab your popcorn, the exciting part is coming right after the commercials. 
Diversionary Moves: While everyone is concentrating on the possiblity of war in Ukraine, Obama goes merrily along launching “massive and unprecedented” attacks against al-Qaeda in Yemen, killing “dozens of top leaders” in two days of airstrikes. Make that 'probable' top leaders. No actual count of weddings was immediately available.

Asked: Are Western Policies Evil or Desperate? Or both?

Unhelpful: Just in time to help Obama celebrate his arrival in Japan – where he's going to tell them to stoop doing what he's been doing for the last 5 years (QE) China has seized a Japanese cargo ship to force the Japanese to pay a pre-World War II debt. Playing hardball.

Days Of Whine and Roses: Science geeks aat the US AID say that there will not be enough arable land, available water or needed energy to sustain the 9 billion expected to populate the earth by 2050, resulting in starvation, famine and migration becoming “politically destabilizing” - which is science talk for war. They didn't mention plague, but that's in there too. Why don't scientists just keep busy figuring out ways for the rich to get richer and quit scaring the rest of us?

No Gold From Straw: A new study confirms what has long been suspected – the main value of corn bioifuels are the dollars it lets the politicians distribute to favored clients, and not in reducing CO2 buildup in the atmosphere. In fact it is a tad worse than gasoline in killing the planet as we know it. The politicians and the bioifuel industry quickly claimed that it was the study's methodology and not corn biofuels that were flawed.

This, Just In! “Politicians don’t seem to care very much about what the public thinks: when elite preferences and popular preferences are different, the elite almost always wins.” If you pay the band it plays your song.

Reminder: Your host is traveling and posting will be rather erratic until early May. Your indulgence at my indolence and selfishness is appreciated... ckm3, prop.

The Parting Shot:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

SAR #14111


Other things do not have to be equal, in fact they seldom are.

Say It Isn't So: Russia has warned the US not to implement further economic sancitons against Putin's friends, as the presumed deal with the US on Ukraine stalls. Maybe sending US ground troops to Poland as part of an expansion of NATO presence in Central Europe is not a Good Idea.
Something Else To Worry About: Three former NSA astronauts are due to report that the earth has been hit by at least 26 megaton-equivalent asteroid impacts since 2001, based on explosive shocks recorded by the nation's nuclear weapons monitoring system. These smackeroos have all been in remote areas, but the report says that the only explanation for why one hasn't exploded in a major city somewhere in the world is blind luck, and I've gotta ask you, punk, are you feeling lucky?

Consider This Your Warning: "Attention, weather superfans: El Niño might be coming back. And this time, we could be in for a big one."

Point Of View: The headline claimed “Civilian Militia Remains at Bundy Ranch After Standoff Ends” I say that “Armed hoodlums...” But then I think that stealing from the government is stealing from the taxpayers and I, as a very recent payer of my taxes, don't see why anyone should get away with theft.

Don't Look Now, But: If we changed the tax code to make it so that a teacher and a Wall Street player ended up with equivalent after-tax incomes, more talented people would seek socially responsible careers, being smart enough to figure out where their economic interest is. Low taxes on incomes from socially questionable behaviors encourage such behavior. High taxes on the wasteful employment of brains could have positive results. - unless you think that the rich getting richer is a socially useful use of education and intelligence.

Gimmie Rewrite: Your mission is to rewrite the following in acceptable English: According to President Obama, "Countries like Germany, China and India - they're working every day to out-educate our kids so they can out-compete our businesses. And each year, frankly, it shows that they're making more progress than we are."

Facts & Such: During Jimmy Carter's presidency there were more jobs created than under either of the Bush boys, Clinton, who raised taxes on the rich, created more jobs than the sainted Ronnie did. And despite what Rand Paul keeps saying, the evidence clearly shows that federal employment under Obama has fallen like a rock. Roll the tape.

Poor Manners: Obama has signed a stupid law that gives him the right to bar any UN envoy from getting to the UN (by rejecting their request for travel visas to transit US territory). Putatively aimed at an Iranian envoy who back in the dark ages took part in the raid on the US embassy in Tehran, it seems contrary to the idea of hosting the UN – by becoming a self appointed dictator of who the nations of the world can choose to represent them. Wait, strike 'becoming'.

The Parting Shot:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SAR #14109

What if we come to the end of the bridge before we get to the other side?

Kinder, Gentler: GM has petitioned federal judges to rule that the new, post-bankruptcy reorganized General Motors is not the same entity as the Bad, Callous, Indifferent Old General Motors that cavalierly decided it was cost effective to kill its customers. Legally they may have an argument. Morally they do not. And they said girls couldn't play this game.

GavriloPrincip: While the compliant Western press is going on and on about “Steps To De-escalate Ukraine Crisis,” and mentions in the small print that NATO has sent five more warships into the Baltic (check your map & measure the distance from the Baltic to the Black Sea), the United States is aiming its financial neutron missile at Mr. Putin and his oligarchical friends. If the geniuses in the War Room think that Russia will roll-over and play dead, they've forgotten that Gavrilo was the guy who shot the Archduke.

Comes The Dawn: “Housing affordability is really taking a bite out of the market... We haven’t seen this issue since 2007.” Gee, y'think maybe prices have way out-run most folks' ability to go into debt? Again?

Because They're Bigger: If you want to use any number of software programs, you have to agree to who-knows-what because no one ever reads the license stuff or could understand it if they did. But we all break the seal, click “I have read the BS and accept I'm powerless” and go on with the job. The new twist on sticking it to the customer is this: Offer them a coupon. If they accept, they are also accepting the fine print that says they cannot ever sue you. Ditto with luring them onto your website – the fine print says that by reading their propaganda pages the customer gives up title to his first-born. And don't ever 'like' one of these predatory outfits – it gives them the right to abuse you with complete immunity. Why? Because they've got more lawyers than you do. And more rights, just ask John Roberts.

Reminder: The same bunch that varnished reality for you before (and mostly during) George's Big Adventure in Iraq and tried to sell you that smelly story about poison gas in Syria are the same rigidly independent pro-war shills who are now that rushing us off to war with Russia over Ukraine (which none of us should care about). Take a deep breath folks, lax. It's Putin's sandbox, let him have it.

Tube Socks: The government's regularly retold CPI fairytale claims to be the best estimate of price inflation available. Maybe it is, but no one should confuse it with reality as experienced by real folks in the real world. It is a one-size-fits-all thing that doesn't fit your experience in the real world unless you are the one individual whose expenditures perfectly match those in the formula. Bet they don't.

The Parting Shot:  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SAR #14108

Innocence Is a Poor Defense

Grace Period: After the government wisely chose not to slaughter the tax-evading ranchers and their survivalist nut-job supporters, none of the US mainstream media reported the story as it was – a case of armed terrorists in the heartland getting away with armed rebellion. If you owed the government 20 years of back taxes, how do you think you'd make out?

Salesmanship: According to the IPCC, climate action is an opportunity, not a burden! Yes, to prevent catastrophic climate change, energy systems (and the lifestyles that they provide for) must be urgently and fundamentally transformed. But we can do it. Yes, we have to stop burning coal, oil and gas. And we can. Soon. Easily. Clean, renewable energy is getting bigger, better and cheaper every day and can now provide the solutions the world needs. The "age of renewables" has arrived, said Candide. “Wouldn't it be wonderful if China, emboldened by its domestic actions, were to lead the world to a new global climate agreement by presenting an ambitious new target with binding emission cuts?” Said the little engine that could. Sure, we're looking at a “breakdown of food systems,” more violent conflicts, and ultimately the breakdown of civilization, but let's not dwell on the negative. It's an opportunity, let's accentuate the positive, whistle while you work. Or while Rome burns, whichever.

Union Busting 101: The NCAA is urging colleges to spread fear among would-be unionizing athletes that joining unions would result in heir losing their scholarships, playing in fewer championship games, a withdrawal of academic support (basket weaving classes), and career counseling. They'll also be charged to use the whirlpools.

Boring: Greenland's ice caps are continuing to accelerate the rate at which they are melting away – exceeding the upwardly revised upwardly revised scientific expectations.

Squeaky Wheels: The states that want the least to do with Washington are the states that are the most dependent on Washington's money – MS, NM, AL, LA, ME, MT, TN, WV, SD, and AZ. Too bad we have to put our money where their mouths are.

Parting Note: I am traveling, so postings will be erratic for a couple of weeks. Okay, erraticer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SAR #14105

If ignorance was bliss there'd be a lot more happiness around.

First Step: Riding on Edward Snowden's coattails, The Guardian and the Washington Post (Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman) have been honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. 
Excuses, Excuses: Mortgage originations have cratered, falling to levels last seen 15 years ago even though economists claim the recovery is marching along. Banks blame rising interest rates, rapidly rising house prices, winter weather, and the general lack of excitement over this year's American Idols. Long term unemployment, stagnant wages and the withering of the American middle class were not mentioned as factors. Don't want to scare the horses.

Bright Idea: The Netherlands has build a 'glow-in-the-dark' roadways which, after a day of sunshine, glow all night. The idea is to reduce the energy used for street lighting and to improve safety. 
Bad Idea: Western Nations (for which read Uncle Sam) will be giving Ukraine $3.2 billion in aid, which – after their politicians skim off a handling fee – will be passed on to Gazprom. Why? Because Europe needs Russia's gas, no mater what those yokels in Congress think.

Worse Idea: the US is reportedly considering sending arms to Ukraine. Okay, let 'em consider it, then decide not to do it. And surely those arms won't be attached to US soldiers, right?

Crybaby: Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière says that America recognizes no bounds to its electronic espionage, and has “low expectations that further talks will prove to be successful. But of course these talks are continuing.” As is the NSA's spying.

Short Form: In the case of Tesla vs The Auto Dealers, “There isn’t a rational argument for why a new company should have to use dealers. It’s just dealers trying to protect their profits.”

Excuses, Excuses: It is a long standing tradition for market commentators to make up a story that explains whatever the markets have just done. After. Solemnly and with great and convincing gravitas. These explanations seldom can withstand close examination, but we need them. It wouldn't do for the marks to know the whole thing is a charade.

Growth is good? In most of the world economic growth is the magic elixir that everyone strives for, lots and lots of growth. Endless growth. Growth gained by using energy to turn resources into garbage. More energy, more cars, more TVs, more and more and more. Especially more CO2 emissions. Growth. Too bad that growth will doom us. Or has.

Cause And Effect? In the Netherlands - where pot is legal – they are closing 19 prisons because they haven't got enough criminals.

Simple Fact: In 31 of our States, daycare for your infant is more expensive than sending your teenager to college.

Green Shootlets: Retail sales picked up in March, increasing 1.1% m/m, the biggest gain since late 2012.

Yeah, so? Who would have suspected that the 'grassroots' campaign against a free, simple tax filing process would be growing out of TurboTax's front yard?

Another One: Ohio has joined the growing number of states that have been ordered by the judiciary to recognize all out-of-state marriages. It's a simple mater of contract law and the several states obligations under the Constitution. And yes, that means same-sex marriages.

Meditation Prompt: Google is going to buy drone-maker Titan Aerospace in hopes of expanding Internet access. Or so they say.

The Quote: "If you want to know what the U.S. military is doing in Africa, it’s advantageous to be connected to a large engineering or construction firm looking for business." Sort of 'if you build it, the troops will come.'

Asked And Answered: Are Americans really jingoistic yahoos? Yes, really. And note that the Mr. Wang sets up a straw man to argue otherwise.

Porn O'Graph: Earnings... sort of.

The Parting Shot:

Monday, April 14, 2014

SAR #14104

You need to change your passwords, all of them. Now.

Signs Of Spring: Anti-austerity protests in Paris and Rome, showing their growing impatience with the “suffer now so you can suffer tomorrow” policies that are robbing the workers to enrich the bankers across the EU. Meanwhile the elected (and appointed) hooligans running things in Europe keep pushing tax and spending cuts, privatization and what is humorously called 'liberalizing' labor contracts. European workers still believe in unions and still believe they have a voice – which they are willing to raise.

As Edited: What Do average Americans think about inequality?

Lightly: The rich kid who didn't know he wasn't supposed to run over other people's children is getting “rehab” for his “affluenza” at a cost to the state of $715 a day. His poor parents have to come up with $35 of that, out of their reported $10 million a year incomes.

You Want Fried With That? We've suspected CO2 was not good for us for a long time, and have talked about cutting back for over 20 years. But. But in the 30 years before 2000, global atmospheric CO2 increased at 1.3% a year, and after we started saying we cared, the rate of increase increased to 2.2%. And since 2010 atmospheric CO2 has been increasing at a 3% a year rate. At that rate, atmospheric CO2 would double (to over 800ppm) by 2050. And won't that be fun.

When You're Right, You're Right: “The rest of the world, almost unanimously, looks as America as the number one warmonger, that we revert to armed conflict almost at the drop of a hat.” Jimmy Carter

Without Comment: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes it against the law for you to check whether a site you use – say your bank or credit card issuer and such – is still vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. Protecting yourself could land you in jail. Just pick up your cell phone and ask the NSA, they'll know.

Do The Math: The UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says 13 of the 14 warmest years on record occurred in the 21st century.

A Penny Saved: Maine Gov. Paul LePage (Republican) has vetoed a bill that would have funded a statewide solar energy program which also would provide monetary incentives for cutting energy use through heat pumps, because it would place a five-cent a month tax on everyone, even the rich. No new taxes, even to save ourselves.

Paying Attention, Emphasis on the 'Paying' Part: More than 6 million American kids have been labeled with ADHD and put on a regime of pills and pills, many sold by Eli Lilly. Now Lilly's minions have come up with a new pretend disorder - sluggish cognitive tempo - that could vastly expand the ranks of young people taking various tranquilizers and chemicals peddled by Eli Lilly. Because they are lethargic, given to daydreaming, let their minds wander, don't answer all the questions on a test and generally seem slow when studying stuff they don't care about. When asked about the research, key researchers seemed unconnected, listless, and lethargic and declined to comment on their work.

Walking Dead: Researchers say that warmer weather caused by climate change has allowed ticks to thrive, and these hordes of ticks have devastated the moose population by literally sucking them dry. The problem will only get worse as climate change accelerates. And it won't always be moose that are dying.

Maturity: While babies sometimes cry out of spite, John Boehner continues to cry for no reason at all.

Porn O'Graph: Mirror, mirror...

The Parting Shot:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

SAR #14102

I liked 'stagnation' better when' it was called 'the doldrums'.

Shocking, Really, Really Not: It turns out that after spending $40 million investigating the CIA's use of torture, the Senate found that CIA tortured people. Lots of them. Far more than they previously admitted. In lots of places. A lot more than they previously acknowledged. To far less benefit – namely none – than they previously pretended. All of it “far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.” In other words, a bunch of guys who had no compunction about torturing people for the fun of it were so morally corrupt that they lied about what they were doing to a bunch of political hacks who didn't want to know.. 
The Usual Suspects: Hewlett-Packard paid a $108 million bribe fine to the US to end an investigation into HP's bribing of officials in other countries; 
Return On Invasion: The West is scurrying around pretending it can supply Europe – including Ukraine – with natural gas and petroleum and thus thwart Putin's use of the energy supply card. Too bad it can't be done, which is why the EU, IMF and so on are going to give Ukraine about $15 billion in 'aid' which Ukraine, after skimming 10% off the top, will pass on to Gazprom, aka Vladimir Putin. Not bad for a hard day's work. 
Sore Losers: The US is refusing to give Iran's new Ambassador to the UN a visa to get to the UN, just because over 30 years ago he was involved in embarrassing the US by taking over its embassy in Tehran. 
Asked And Answered: “If the US job market were undergoing some sort of major, long-lasting transformation, how would we know?” Well, the data – unemployment, wages, investment - would start looking a lot like it looks lately. 
Tidy Wave: So far, five years into The RecoveryTM less than 20% of US metropolitan real estate markets have returned to 'normal', 2000 to 2003 being 'normal'. Many of the 'recovered' areas are associated with the magic of fracking.

Application: In the wake of the godawful predictions for our future that the climate scientists claim is the best we can expect if we don't Do Something, Archbishop Desmond Tutu says we have to stop pretending someone else is going to save us and start saving ourselves. If you are in the US, that means cutting you use of fossil fuels by at least 50%. That means cutting your driving in half. No more airplane flights – business or pleasure. Turning the heat down in winter to 66 or so and foregoing air conditioning. So, can we sign you up?

Vote Of Confidence: The NSA, which monitors the web 24/7 – it says – also says that it didn't know anything about the Heartbleed Bug before the story broke... on the internet news sites. The NSA didn't care about the Heartbleed Bug gobbling up everyone's passwords because they already had them all. How much money do these jokers waste every year? Keeping us safe from what, exactly? 
Fly/Ointment: Regarding QE etc, “We do not have a strong basis for supposing that reductions in interest rates from very low levels have a large impact on spending decisions.” In fact, five years into this experiment the results strongly suggest that demand is far more important than wads of uninvestible cash. 
Because We're US: The US is arguing that others, like Germany, can't have their own internet system because it would frustrate the NSA violate international trade agreements. You know, the ones where they agreed to trade their privacy in return for Macky Ds.

Porn O'Graph: On being afraid.

The Parting Shot:

Friday, April 11, 2014

SAR #14101

The stock market is where hope defeats reality... for a while.

Salted Away: The Labor Department reported that initial claims for unemployment dropped by 32,000 last week, the biggest drop in in claims since January 2006 and the lowest number of initial claims, 300,000, since May of 2007.

Trailer Parks Tramps: Having run out of foreclosed houses to buy cheaply and rent out at outrageous prices, the smart money is now looking to gobble up used double-wide trailers mobile homes and rent them out to the unemployed at outrageous rates. Actually, it's not the double-wides they want, but the concrete pads on which they sit. With the US middle class slides into poverty and many communities banning new trailer parks, enterprising investors think they can get rich renting out concrete. Be the first on your block to be a slum lord.

Bird In The Hand: Like their American counterparts, European CEO's are choosing to pay higher dividends out of the 2 trillion euros they have on hand because they do not see attractive investment opportunities. 
Rush To The Bottom: Family Dollar is closing 370 of its 8,100 stores – it seems there isn't enough poverty to go around.

No Fuel, No Fire: Foreclosure activity has reached its lowest level since 2Q 2007.

Equal Justice? A child molester in Texas was sentenced to 240 years in prison, in Illinois a former deputy police chief got 5 years in prison for raping a prisoner, and the Du Pont heir who got probation for raping his 3 year old daughter has failed to complete his court-ordered treatment.

Finer Print: Before you get all hot and bothered about the top ten Medicare billers raking in tens of millions, check out what the numbers really represent. Sure there is some fraud in the system, but its manifestly not found in all ten of the accused.

Cliff Notes Version: 'Rich people rule!' and 'Long-Term Unemployment Is Elevated Across All Education, Age, Occupation, Industry, Gender, And Racial And Ethnic Groups', thus the 'Number of Home Owners is Lower than 2006!'

Punchline: Proving that it has a sense of humor, the IMF says that “the North American oil glut” will "keep oil prices low." Okay, but only if $100 a barrel is low and you redefine 'glut.'

Reaping and Sowing: Dating back to the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been a continuing effort by the US and its NATO allies to pry Eastern European countries away from Russia in an attempt to encircle and isolate it. Turns out to have been a bit like teasing a junk yard dog.

Magic Blank: Researchers in England have determined that £424 million Great Britain spent on Tamiflu during the great swine flu pandemic was all for nought – because Tamiflu does not halt the spread of influenza even though Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche made less than honest claims about its effectiveness.

Our Gang: Thanks to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – that socialist project the GOP desperately tried to stop – Bank of America is refunding $727 million to its customers after being found guilty of deceptive credit practices – a fancy way of saying fraud.

Fear of Whatever: The TSA prevented a wheelchair bound mute stroke victim from boarding a flight at LAX, forcing her to take an 8 hour bus trip instead of flying because she didn't have a current driver's license and could not say her own name. Her family was reduced to tears by the 'rude and insensitive” TSA agents. In their defense, a TSA spokesperson said the incident “probably could have been handled differently by the family."

The Parting Shot:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

SAR #14100

Are you sure there are only four horsemen?

Over There: Iraqi politicians are legalizing the marriage of nine-year old girls. Sure, the law applies to boys, too, but there's not much demand for child grooms. The same law makes 'marital rape' legal because wives must comply with the sexual demands of their owners. Remind me what we got for all the blood and money.

Rounded Up: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up, is found in American mothers' breast milk in concentrations ten time higher than in European moms' milk. But Monsanto has proven it is safe for baby rats, or something like that
Appointed, Not Anointed: Citing the unwritten law of political pay-back, a NJ Superior Court Judge has “found no basis to force” the Republican appointees most likely to have the goods on Christie to honor a subpoena from a committee investigating their roles in Bridgegate. 
Math Quiz: If the UN's IPCC report is correct and in order to prevent climate Armageddon later this century we have to cut our use of fossil fuels by 50% in the next 35 years, while we're adding another 2 billion people to the world, what's gotta give?
Codewords: John Boehner is blocking a bill that would restore extended unemployment benefits for a couple of million Americans because it doesn't include enough tax breaks for the rich. That's not how he phrased it, he claims he wants more measures to “stimulate job growth”, but what he means is tax cuts for the rich.

Learning By Example: A Pennsylvania high school sophomore – who suffers from comprehension delay disorder, ADHD, and an anxiety disorder – recorded other students bullying him. The school, on learning of the incident, threatened to charge the student with felony wiretapping. The kid was arrested and tried and found guilty of disorderly conduct in district court. We wish him and his family well in their lawsuit against the idiots.

The Wayback Machine: The Tennessee State Senate, citing the dangers faced daily by the pioneers out there in the wilderness, has passed a bill legalizing the open carrying of firearms without any permit being required. Y'never know when you'll have to shoot a liberal.

Innocence Is Never A Defense: Twenty-five years ago a man was convicted of a murder he did not commit. He claimed that at the time of the murder in New York he was in Florida. Unfortunately he did not have evidence that would prove his alibi. The prosecution did and hid it. For twenty-five years. The man has been released. The prosecutors cannot be prosecuted because they...
Size Matters: Without public input, the USDA caved in to pressure from major food corporations and changed the official definition of “organic” to permit non-organic materials and products to be part of “organic” foods.

Same, Only Different: The same release from the Mortgage Bankers' Association was headlined “Mortgage apps drop for 4th consecutive week” and Mortgage Purchase Applications Increase. It is not a case of you pays your money and takes your choice, because the data clearly shows that mortgage applications fell for the fourth consecutive week.

Why Bother? Telling folks the continuing increase in atmospheric CO2 – it has reached 402 ppm for the first time in over 800,000 years - caused mostly by their auto based comfortable lifestyle is going to melt all the ice, flood the coastlines and drown major cities, cause historic droughts and ruin our economy is not the way to motivate people to do anything to stop it. But if there isn't a clear reason to give up my car and my electronics, why should I? And if everyone isn't going to suffer, I'm not going to be first. No one is.

Barefoot And Pregnant: Republicans in the Senate have blocked a bill that would have helped women get equal pay for equal work, because they were sure the Democrats were trying to pass the bill just to get women to vote for them. This will get the GOP lots of votes. Male ones.

The Parting Shot:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SAR #14099

Facts are sometimes new, feelings seldom are.

Excuses, Excuses: All around the nation, the bad winter weather has caused a 'lack of inventory' that in turn has caused the price of houses to soar and sales to crater. Or something like that. Unmentioned is the collapse of enthusiasm for the 'reel them in and rent them out' get-rich-quick investment model, where even Blackstone, which gobbled up 41,000 houses, says “Prices have gotten to the stage where we cannot buy a house, renovate it, rent it, and still make a reasonable return.” And two middle class incomes are no longer enough to buy a median-priced home in most places. Maybe that's why mortgage loan originations have become an endangered species. 
About Farce: In January, small business were at their most optimistic levels in seven years. That has collapsed in the subsequent two months to reach levels last seen back when we all knew who Lehman Brothers was.

Get A Job! According to the Labor Department the fastest growing 'professions' in our newly recovered economy today and in the near future are: Personal care aides, retail sales clerks, home health aides, fast food drones, nurses' assistants, secretaries & clerks, janitors & cleaners and customer (telephone) service reps. The median salary for these jobs is a bit below $30,000, and do not require a college degree. Which may explain why most people are no longer really middle class
Get Off Your Ash: A judge has told the NC Environmental Management Commission that it had both the power and the responsibility to get on Duke Energy's ass about the massive and ongoing pollution from its 'coal ash ponds”, and that the Commission should “require an immediate halt to pollution.” The Commission, a wholly owned subsidiary of Duke Energy, is appealing the decision.

You Shouldn't Be In Kansas Anymore, Toto: Acting at night, over the weekend, brave GOP'ers in Kansas have nullified the existing contracts of the state's public school teachers, stripping them of tenure, making them individually renegotiate their existing contracts without any union representative tainting the process. And if a teacher does not agree to this process, termination is automatic and cannot be appealed. This travesty was committed in lieu of providing court-ordered funding levels to the state's public schools. 
Yawn: So many scared, ignorant parents in Oregon have refused to have their little darlings vaccinated against measles that the disease is on the rise again. Politically correct stupidity reigns supreme.

Take Two Actos and Call Me If You Live; Japanese drugmaker Takead Pharmaceuticals and its US co-defendant Eli Lilly have been ordered to pay $9 billion in damages for pushing a type-two diabetes medicine that gave folks cancer. Allegedly.

Slowly, Slowly: A message in a bottle was delivered 101 years after it had been tossed into the sea. Not the fastest way to communicate, but the NSA didn't intercept it.

Blood In the Street: Citing “difficult market conditions”, tech fund Coatue is returning $2 billion of the fund's $7 billion to investors because they can't find anything profitable to do with it. After they took their management fee, of course.

Porn O'Graph: I saw that.

The Parting Shot:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

SAR #14098

'Death Panels' – another name for health insurance companies.

 In The Beginnings: March's mortgage originations were the fewest in the last 14 years. This is not a good sign. They were down 26% from 4Q13 and 60% down y/y. The recent surge in sales was mostly based on cash investor transactions, and that train has left the station. 
Remembering The Maine: It now seems likely that the sarin nerve gas attacks in Syria were not carried out by Assad, but by elements of the rebel movement with the active aid and assistance of the Turks, who hopped to lure the US into a 'humanitarian' war in Syria. Somehow – mostly pure luck – Obama didn't fall for it.

Rotten To The Common Core: National educational standards are always going to fail. First it means relying on tests, which means teaching to the test, which is not teaching, it's training. Rote or damned close. And it fools everyone into thinking the numbers measure what they purport to, which is not true. Well intended (except for those who want to use testing to privatize educational tax funding), it removes those who know what to do and how to do it from the process and encourages automatons who turn out children whit little knowledge and less curiosity. 
Shock And Aw Shucks: Emails have come to light that suggest that it was Bob Corker's staff and not Volkswagen that went all out to crush the UAW in Chattanooga. It was a matter of idiotology. 
Says And Does: The IMF (the research arm) says that decades of real-world experience show that austerity policies do far more harm than good. The IMF (operations arm) has been devising even nastier versions of its austerity horseshit hairshirt. And insists that even more and harsher austerity policies be accepted before they will grant new loans. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Or Gal.

A Quiz: The survey asked folks if they could cover a $2,000 unexpected outlay next month. 36% said they were certain they could and another 22% thought they probably could (put it on a card?). But 15% thought they would be in big trouble and 27% said “Are you kidding?”

Trickling Down: The common wisdom is that technology is favoring the college grads and technically trained and driving the less educated into unemployment. But the data show that the unemployment rates for high-school grads and high-school dropouts are lower now than twenty years ago. Why? Because the whole employment picture has moved down – we've got a lot more low-paying service jobs now – thanks to technology paying the few better and making room for the rest at the bottom.

Timing: It's National Autism Awareness Month, and Chili's has become aware that the public isn't falling for the vacinations-cause-autism crapola any more. So they quickly backed down from supporting an outfit which tries to convince parents that if they vaccinate their kids they'll become autistic overnight. Chili's saw the light, overnight.

Shake, Rattle & Roll: Friday and Saturday parts of Oklahoma were rattled by a series of 2.5 to 3.8 earthquakes, and a bunch of smaller ones. In 2009, there were about 50 quakes in Oklahoma. In 2010 that jumped to 1,000 and this year is well on the way – with 253 so far – to a new record. More than a few seismologists say are “tied” to fracking. 
Times, Changing: The FDA has approved a heroin overdose first aid kit for use in the home. Better than the Pulp Fiction approach.

Lies, Wishful Thinking & The EIA: The Energy Department's Energy Information Agency claims 1) they can see 20 years into the future and 2) by 2037 the US will be energy independent, producing all of our liquid fuel – 13 million barrels a day - from tight oil formations, hundred year old petroleum pools, and corn. Or switch grass. Whatever. Their fortune cookie said so.

Price Tags and Pretence: Two blind tests have shown that world-class violinists either can't tell a Stradivarius from one from the local instrument store, or prefer the new one. Good thing no one's done this with wine...

Porn O'Graph: What goes up, goes upper.

The Parting Shot: