Saturday, November 29, 2014

SAR #14333

Despite the claims of religions and economists, suffering seldom leads to enlightenment.
 We Shale Overcome: Saudis in Vienna for the OPEC meetings are suggesting that they see no need to cut production and are quite willing to let the market “stabilize itself”, by which they mean “let low prices kill the shale oil movement in the US.” If anyone should cut, perhaps it should be the US, they claim, they are a big producer too. But US shale is/was at most a threat to their production dominance for only a few more years. Now the petroleum left in the Bakken and other US shale plays will be there, a background threat, hovering. 
Ham Sandwiches: In only 11 of the 162,000 federal cases presented to grand juries in 2010 were no indictments returned. That's 0.0007% of the time.

Selfie: "We pose no threat to anyone,” says Vladimir Putin after meeting with his military commanders just back from eastern Ukraine and Crimea, “and do not intend to get involved in any geopolitical games or intrigues, let alone conflicts, no matter who tries to draw us into them or how they do so." 
By-Product: While digging up mass graves in a search for the 43 missing students, more than 20,000 corpses have been discovered in Mexico. They sure pay an awful price for living next door to the world's largest market for illegal drugs. 
Assembly Line: An Egyptian court has sentenced 78 teenage boys to two to five years in prison for taking part in demonstrations calling for the return of Mohamed Morsi, the duly elected president deposed by the US backed military dictatorship.

Essay Prompt: If economies need to eliminate the dependence of demand on unsustainable credit, what policies should governments follow? How much production – at today's wage levels – can the society support? Who must do without what? If we save for retirement (10% we're told) and avoid 'unsustainable' levels of credit (which is most credit, but don't tell anyone), what happens to production? Then what happens to our income? Ah... I think I see the problem. I also see the vague outline of the solution, and it's scary.

Mum's The Word: Turkey, where the President has a brand new 3 million square foot, 1,000 plus room mansion, has banned all reporting on the corruption of ex-ministers. 
Stuff: If you wrote a science fiction story about a culture where people would line up in the cold and wait for hours to fight each other for possession of things they do not need and most likely can't afford, you could title it “Late November, End of the Empire.”

Over-Subscribed: “If you added up all of the likely causes [of the drop in oil prices] and their likely percentage contribution to the outcome you would get a number way above 100%.”

Porn O'Graph: America, all consumption, no production.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

SAR #14329

Perfect Record: Robert P. McCulloch, has been the Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County since 1991. During these 20-plus years, not one police officer in the county has been prosecuted for killing a suspect. Not one.

Through A Glass Darkly: No one actually knows what's going on with oil demand, supply and price and no one knows where it's going tomorrow. But there are some things we think we know: If the global economies collapse a bit more and demand for oil falls another 1 mbd, oil may go to 60 or lower. If OPEC/Saudi Arabia cuts exports by 1 mbd, and the world's economies muddle through, prices go back to the $100 range. If the price stays at or below $80 for long – six months or more, a lot of shale oil production will taper off and, after a year or so, a lot of shale production companies will default on their loans. And if world prices hover around $80 for a year or so, a goodly number of oil-based budgets in places like Venezuela, Russia and even Saudi Arabia will begin being expressed in economic hardship and social unrest.
Certainly US retail customers will be glad to take the money they'll be saving on their gasoline bills and spend it on other things, like food. But if the low oil prices are due to low economic demand, these happy days will not last. Most worrisome would be an expansion of debt in the mistaken belief that Good Times are back. They are not.

What Have You Done For Me Lately? If 0% growth in income for 100% of the population would represent a failure of our economic system, what about 0% growth for 90% of the population? 
Ins And Outs: Harry Reid, Temporary Senate Majority Leader, is genuflecting to the Republicans and letting them make corporate tax breaks permanent. Obama, under the strange belief that he's still president, has threatened to veto the bill because low-income taxpayers do not get a similar break. 
Talking Turkey: Women are not and cannot ever be equal to men. My name is Recep Erdoğan, I'm President of Turkey, and I approved this message. 
Curiosity: A Republican passed House bill aimed at hog-tying EPA to keep it from regulating anything, ever, prohibits scientists on EPA Scientific Advisory Boards from discussing their own scientific research. The bill will not pass the Senate, but it tells us which way the anti-science, anti-regulation stench is blowing. 
Endpoint: There is no point in debating the facts surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Wilson shot and killed him. Wilson was a white police officer. Brown is a dead black teenager. End of story. What did they need a grand jury for? 
Travel Planning: Thinking about going to Detroit? Think again. Even the cops say it is too dangerous for civilians to enter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SAR #14328

Your Slip Is Showing: Private computer security specialists have discovered a “highly sophisticated piece of spyware” - thought to be a key element in electronic intelligence-gathering - that was developed and deployed by NSA and GCHQ over the last decade, targeting government and industrial computers in Russia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Belgium and the various elements of the European Union. It has also targeted individuals, small businesses, telecommunications firms, energy firms, airlines, and research institutes. This is not malware, it is not there to disrupt (like Stuxnet did with Iran's nuclear program), it is there to collect information and send it home.

Tiddlywinks: When Texas says it has new history books, it is the history that is new.

Belief You Can Change In: Saintly Pope Francis has named a US priest who previously hid reports of sexual abuse by Chicago area clergy to be the Vatican's prosecutor of sex crimes. Takes one to know one? Turning the other cheek?

It's Not Over When It's Over, Part 6: The House Intelligence Committee Benghazi investigation report finding the administration did nothing wrong should be the end of the nonsense from the rabid right. But no. Just like the six previous government investigations, they came up with the wrong answers. Don't worry, Trey Gowdy (Rottweiler, SC) - head of John Bohner's select committee to pick at the Benghazi scab - says the current report “will aid the select committee's comprehensive investigation to determine the full facts of what happened in Benghazi.” Unless – once again – nothing is found, in which case an eighth investigation will be undertaken.

Laissez-passer: The Obama administration has released five Guantanamo Bay prisoners after an administration task force determined that, having been reduced a drooling, catatonic state by ten years of torture, solitary confinement and forced feedings, they no longer posed a threat.

Divine Right of Clings: Vladimir Putin says he does not want to be President of Russia for life, only until 2024. Optimistic fellow.

And The Winner Is: Over the past five years, the citizens of Utah were most likely to be killed by 1) gang bangers, 2) druggies, 3) child abusers, 4) spouses, or 5) police. Well, 'intimate partners', but just marginally more than the cops. And over the five years, only one of the police killings resulted in criminal charges – which were subsequently dismissed.

Lesser Included Charge: A Memphis gang leader, indicted by a grand jury for robbing other drug traffickers, is being charged with “interfering with interstate commerce.”

On The Order Of Things: The visceral, irrational hatred of Barak Obama is not based on anything he's done but on what he is a symbol of: he is not part of the acceptable pool of political leaders. It matters not that he is a mainstream Republican in action, he is not white, he is not upper class and he is not part of the established power establishment. He is a threat. He represents the other, them, those who want to take away white privilege. He does not represent an alternate, liberal political trend – he is the devil incarnate, come to ruin the land that God gave to rich white men.

More, And More: Britain's Home Secretary, claiming that the nation was under even more threat from “Islamic radicals”, is threatening to take away even more privacy from the proletariat in order to protect them. If only they'd been as concerned about home-grown pedophiles.

Porn O'Graph: Happy days are here again!

Monday, November 24, 2014

SAR #14327

Separated at Birth: While the AP headlined “House intel panel debunks Benghazi theories" and noted that no administration wrongdoing or lying or coverup were found. Fox headlined “ "CIA gathered intelligence on weapons to Syria: Benghazi report." and stressed that Republicans want to expand the witch hunt to a (Republican-led) Senate investigation under Lindsey Graham (Rabid-SC), who claimed “the report is full of crap.
Vacancy: First they set fire to Palestinian homes, then the government calls them abandoned and bulldozes them, then Israeli settlers move in. Any questions?

Morpheus: It's not exactly censorship, but the NY Times is certainly accommodating of the administration's sensitivities. The story about the resumption of combat operations in Afghanistan was originally headlined; “In secret, Obama extends US role in Afghan Combat.” That quickly became “Obama decided to authorize...” And you're back on the Christmas card list.

Takes One To Know One: The former leader of a rabid Christian group that claimed that prayer could “cure” homosexuality has abandoned his wive and married his male lover. We wish them every happiness.

Old Boy Network: Since at least the early 1980s, successive British governments have issued 'D-notices' prohibiting the publication of stories concerning an ongoing pedophile ring based in Parliament which included murdering young boys in order to scare others into submission and even occasionally killing their victims just because they could. And they could, knowing that all trace of the police records could and would be erased. Current attempts to trace these allegations in the official records have been frustrated because the pertinent Home Office files have gone missing.

Tell Me About The Oil, Lenny: China is reportedly ready to cut interest rates again as it struggles with deflation.

Water To Burn: The American Petroleum Institute claims that the 'typical' fracked well uses 2 to 4 million gallons of water. What they don't note is that over 250 fracked wells have used upwards of 25 million gallons of water. Each. In Texas, which is not exactly over-flowing with potable water, more than 21 billion gallons of fresh water were used for fracking during 2011.

Analysis: How many false assumptions are contained in the Fox claim that “Your kids are getting shafted” because immigrants get school lunches.

Nail/Horse/Battle: The reason you in the US do not hear more about the collapse of society in Mexico is that it is our fault and we do not want to face up to what we have done. Our demand for drugs has brought unimaginable corruption and violence to Mexico, Shame on us. Note that most of the drug trade depends on major US banks to launder their profits.

Count To Ten and Calm Down: A 12-year-old Cleavland, Ohio boy playing at a public playground was shot and killed police. He was playing with a toy gun. He did not make any threats. He did not point the gun at the officers. He was black.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

SAR #14325

Both FOX and Facebook get mistaken for burning bushes.
Plan B: Obama, exercising his legitimate authority under the Constitution, has decided that the parents of US citizens (ie, children born in the US) may remain in the US temporarily without fear of arrest and deportation until such time as the Congress resolves their status. They may legally apply for work and pay taxes, but may not get health care under ACA nor vote. John Boehner is aghast and wants to hold hearings on the Republican plan to deport all 11 million of the illegal aliens using trains of 100 freight cars, each holding 80 undocumented workers, to ship them to somewhere, every day, five days a week, every week for five years. He says they'll also hire enough thugs with guns to prevent any more illegals from arriving during those five years. No, no. I know, the Republicans don't actually have a plan. But FOX does, which is much the same thing.

Armageddon: Pope Francis says greed will 'destroy the world'. What happened to “the fire next time”?

Getting What You Didn't Ask For: The Republicans, by obstructing every administration effort and refusing to compromise at any point on anything have made it inevitable that Obama's approach to health care, climate change and immigration, will carry the day. Their intransigence has guaranteed that the policies implemented are far more liberal than they would have been had the GOP been interested in actually governing.

Faint Praise: Responding to the military dictatorship more-or-less elected government's decree, Egyptian editors have promised not to criticize any institution in the country. They didn't say anything about the occasional sly bit of satire.

TKO: After two years of baseless accusations, prurient innuendo, non-stop harassment of State, Defense and Intelligence personnel, and slander of the administration in interviews and fake news releases, the Republicans have concluded that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria, and no cover-up because there never had been anything to cover up. Equal time? Hey, this is FOX we're talking about.

Greener Grass: Fab, Inc., which was valued at just over a billion dollars a year ago, is in talks to sell itself to PCH Intentional for $15 million. Only half in cash, darling.

Reading Righting & Ticked: The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that the state has no obligation to provide quality public education, it just has to build and staff the schools. The kids have to go to school, but the schools don't gotta teach them no nothing. That “ no fewer than 78.9 percent of current fourth graders and 73 percent of current seventh graders will require” special ed to reach mandated levels. 
Wet Dream: Some in Utah want to cut off all water to the giant NSA facility there as a means of protesting the Agency's massive illegal surveillance programs.

Friday, November 21, 2014

SAR #14324

I generally try to say what I think I think.

@Cyberwar! The Pentagon, fearing that Americans were not fearful enough, have sent forth Mike Rogers - director of NSA, head of the US Cyber Command and an Admiral with a very pretty uniform - to shake his finger at us and warn us that China “...and two or three others...” can shut down most of the important infrastructure systems in the country – power grids, water supplies, nuclear power plants, McDonald's and the NFL. And they've been able to do this for some years now, but War, Inc. thought we needed the reminder.

Revealed Word: Republican Ira Hansen, Nevada's new House Speaker, explains the race problem this way: “Simple minded darkies [show a] lack of gratitude” to whites. Say amen.

Turkeys: Walmart is organizing food drives among its employees to feed its employees who don't make enough working at Walmart – to the point that Walmart employees get $6.2 billion a year from the taxpayers to help them survive Walmart's starvation wages. The company says that the food drive is proof that its employees care far more about their fellow employees than the company does.

Breadcrumbs: An investigation by the US Senate has concluded that when banks get involved with commodity markets, they rig them. Same holds for the Senate.

Thanks Giving: I'm thankful that I was born white. And male. And straight. And have had decent health insurance my entire life.

Budget Message: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says the US must increase its military spending, maintain waste and profiteering at current levels, and start several small wars, or risk being overrun by Sri Lanka.

Crapafornia: The California University System plans to increase tuition by 25% over the next five years. Do not expect a corresponding increase in knowledge or the starting salaries of graduates.
New & Improved: Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey says that the new war in Iraq is “different.” Last time we killed them because Saddam tried to do something unkind to Georgie's dad and besides they had a lot of oil. This time it's because they don't like us for what we did last time.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

SAR #14323

Suffering is an adaptive behavior.

Bottom Line: The pussy-footing climate scientists who have tiptoed around making over-abundantly sure of every little bit of evidence of global warming now insist that carbon emissions “must be abolished” by 2070. Completely. Or else. Go read the 'or else' part, because we've yet to show the slightest inclination to listen to these experts.

At The Post: "We tested the Republican ideas and they failed, they failed spectacularly." Elizabeth Warren

#Occupy: The Tanzanian government is evicting 40,000 Masai from their ancestral lands so it can be turned into a playground where the Dubai royal family can hunt big game until its all gone. The government is promising to spend $575,000 on “socio-economic development projects” in compensation. A bit more than ten bucks a head, which is more than we paid the Indians.

Quoted: There seem to be two types of German economists; those that have not read Keynes, and those that have not understood what they read.

The Ioannidis Critique: Those financial strategies that claim to beat the market don’t, and financial research papers that claim to have found patterns in financial markets haven’t. If someone has found the green jellybeans (read the article) of richness, (a) why would they tell anyone and (b) why aren't they so rich they don't have to sell the secret to you? 
Incentives: D'ya think that the secret files the NSA holds over our politicians had any influence on the defeat of legislation that would have diminished the NSA's ability to compile secret files on everyone?

Teaching Point: Private voucher and charter schools have shown no ability to improve student achievement. They do, however, excel at taking money away from public schools.

The Queen's English: For over 20 years the Birmingham City Council knowingly hid child sex crimes for fear of appearing racist. For longer than that Scotland Yard has ignored murders of children committed by a pedophile ring in Parliament.

Mission Accomplished: After 13 years, 2 official wars, any number of remote-controlled secondary wars and trillions in military spending, terrorist attacks are rising sharply. Took long enough. 
If Only: Iceland has jailed the former CEO of Landsbanki, one of the three large banks that crashed the Icelandic economy through greed and stupidity. The floor is now open for nominations.

Infrastructure: Instead of struggling to keep the corporations from holding the internet hostage and stealing all they can from the citizenry, perhaps the citizens' representatives could take back what the government invented and create a nation-wide high-speed completely free internet. Like the interstate system.

Porn O'Graph: Golden rule.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

SAR #14322

Growing up involves becoming less and less curious about the world around us.

Prior Restraint: Shell's attempt to get the courts to prevent anyone from suing it at some time in the future for things it may do in the future was tossed out by the 9th Circuit Court, which called the effort “novel” and “unconstitutional.”

Cream/Crop: The CEOs of at least 7 of the nation's 30 largest companies made more last year (at an average of $17.3 million) than their companies paid in taxes – on a combined $75 billion in profits. In fact, as a group they paid no taxes and got back $1.9 billion in refunds. Ain't this a great country, or what?

God Bless The USA: About 1 out of every 30 children in the US (about 2.5 million) was homeless at some point during the last year. A new record. Makes me proud to cut welfare, food stamps, homeless shelters and the rest of those bleeding heart liberal social experiments. 
If, But, Then: Americans believe CEO's should make about 10 times what the average worker does and think they make 40 times the average, but in reality (assuming this is reality...) CEO's take home 350 times what you do. 
Big Wheel Keeps On Turning: Over the centuries, the gap between the rich and the poor has always grown and grown and groan and eventually resulted in revolution. Today a majority of Americans make less than $20 per hour while a handful of creeps make hundreds of millions a year. But inequality tends to be cyclical and cynical and I say off with their heads!

Encouragement: Governor Mike Pence is “ennobling” Indiana's poor people by kicking them off food stamps. They'd rather be enfooded. 
Just Do It: Worldwide there are at least 36 million people who live and work as slaves. Not all of them build skyscrapers in Dubai, clean houses in Riyadh or make stuff for Nike and Apple. 
Education, Public: After black students at Booker T. Washington high school in Norfolk, VA walked out of school when they discovered that a school official had publicly called young black men “Every white girl’s father’s worse nightmare”, which was any thinking person's nightmare.

Recalculating: In Georgia, you can kill someone who pulls into your driveway to turn around. Just claim you were afraid for your life, even if the car is backing away from you. You can stand your ground even if you have to grab your gun and run out of the house to do so.

Yes, But: "We shouldn't be lying to our students," Ruben Cortez, Texas Board of Education.  Yep, shouldn't be, but do, this being Texas and all.

Secret Sauce: Don't tell McConnell and Boehner but the government is making a profit on the $34 billion it invested in renewable energy projects.

Porn O'Graphs: The jokes are on us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SAR #14321

In economics, as in love, 'what could have been', isn't.
Phases Of The Moon: US industrial production fell 0.1% in October as car makers reported a 1.2% drop – making three consecutive months of declining production that non-existent interest rates, subprime lending and outright cash-back bribes have failed to get Bubba to buy another pickup. Elsewhere, Japan has fallen into another recession as its GDP fell 1.6% in the latest quarter, China reports the largest increase in bad loans since 2005, and Prime Minister Cameron says markets are living on borrowed time as the world faces a second global crash.

Leveling: In his on-going attempt to level the playing field, John 'I'm the Speaker' Boehner is pushing a bill that would exempt internet companies peddling goods in your state from paying the same taxes the companies and stores in your state have to pay. Some businesses are more equal than others, y'see. Just another way to cut taxes and starve state budgets.

These Are The Good Old Days: How much of the 'preparedness' going on in Ferguson, St. Louis, Missouri and the nation is anticipation and how much of it is guilt
Faint Praise: People who have health insurance under the ACA like it about as well as people who have any other form of health insurance. It's too expensive, they say, doesn't cover everything and the co-pays are too high. So we've achieved health insurance equality. Now if we could develop good single payer national health insurance program that isn't too expensive, covered damned near everything and had low or no copays... And was the only game in town so all doctors and hospitals had to accept it, then we'd be getting somewhere.

Golly Gee: Research shows that the difference between poor blacks and poor whites is not nearly as dramatic as the gulf between the poor and the rest. The color gulf exists for the convenience of the rich.

Say / Do: As Putin fled the pressure from the leaders at the G-20 summit, he made it clear that he wasn't fleeing the pressure from the summit leaders about Ukraine.

'Twas Ever So: Research based on criminal records concludes that right-to-carry and concealed-carry laws increase the number of violent crimes in a state. The NRA disagrees and insists that Stanford asked the wrong people, should have asked their members rather than going by actual data.

Slip Sliding Our Way: John Thune (Reconsidering-SD), the third most powerful Republican in the Senate, acknowledges that “human activity” contributes to “climate change” and “The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?”

The Key: The CEO of the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline has corrected Mitch McConnell on the mater of job creation: The pipeline will provide 50 permanent jobs, which is well worth another degree or two of global warming. 
Plowshares: Military fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan is estimated to have cost the US taxpayer at least $30 billion and possibly $60 billion. And that's before you count the Blackwater and Halliburton contracts. Peace may be the military's mission, but profits are its product. 
Bringing In The Sheaves: Governments and businesses around the world are 'harvesting' and digitally storing voiceprints – yours, mine, whomever – against the day they might be useful. Over 65 million of them, so far. They'll be handy for identifications, later on, if they decide to hold trials. 
Off-Broadway: Canada has new legislation that immunizes their telecommunications providers against those nasty lawsuits from customers when they discover their provider has been delivering all their personal information to the government without warrant or judicial oversight. Martin Short may have been the last decent Canadian export. 
Porn O'Graphs: Boiling away.

Monday, November 17, 2014

SAR #14320

Technology is not always the answer.
Mujahedin 2.0: The US is going to train 2,000 Syrian rebel fighters in Turkey before letting them loose. Not any rebels, of course, only the moderate ones. What could go wrong? Okay, but besides turning on us?

Keys To The Kingdom: With or without a Presidential veto, the Keystone pipeline extension will be approved and make little difference to eventual global warming. The pipeline would cut the transportation costs of Alberta's heavy, tar-like oil a bit, but it will not accelerate the rate nor extent of the eventual mining of the tar sands, the spewing of its CO2, the despoliation of the environment or its contribution to our eventual 7 degrees of self-immolation. That's all priced in
Sadly: Surveys show that Americans are less violent than ever, except for the cops.

Love 'em & Leave 'em: After years of neglect, the Pentagon's nuclear arsenal needs billions of dollars to get them ready so we won't have to use them. Thought we weren't gonna study nuclear war no more.

After Action Report: An internal IMF review has concluded that almost everything the IMF suggested or insisted on following the financial collapse was wrong to the point of making things worse. It says this circuitously in rather big words, but that's the conclusion. The IMF now pretends that it always was in favor of infrastructure investment as an appropriate stimulus and doesn't know where this terrible idea of government austerity came from, but they lie. In their heart of hearts, as IMF Director Lagarde insists, the “move toward measured consolidation was the right call to make.” A simple “I'm sorry.” would have been nice.

Dodge Ball: Bristol-Myers Squibb's subsidiary in Luxembourg has one employee, a part-timer who earned €3,700 in 1012 while racking up €7.6 billion in profits – after paying €82,000 in taxes. How are things in your part of the world?

Per Capital: Federal judges have ordered California to begin releasing non-violent offenders by January in order to reduce prison overcrowding. California argues that the sate cannot afford to lose the cheap prison labor, and fears that the current drive to privatize California prisons will not bring in as much money if the head count goes down. 
No more Mr. Nice Guy: Just when you thought he'd caught on to the general idea, Pope Francis reverts to the old 'we know what's best for everyone' style of religious demagoguery and calls euthanasia and abortion “sins against god”. Which god, he didn't mention, but it's a good bet it's not the Jesus fellow.

Return Engagement: Congressional Republicans are rattling the 'shut down the government' saber again. Already. To teach the President that he can't use the powers of the presidency just because he's the President. The biggest problem with democracy is the people the people elect.

Asked & Answered:Is Mitch McConnell evil or just plain stupid?” Yes.

Fly By: US federal marshals are putting devices on small planes that mimic cell phone towers, enabling them to collect data on tens of thousands of people's cell phone calls with a single flight. And without a single warrant. But you're not doing anything that's currently illegal, are you?

No Comment: Economists claim that Greece’s recession is over even though unemployment is still at 25.9%. There's a lot of that going around.

Be Afraid: Kurdish leaders are claiming that ISIS does not have 20,000 fighters, as the US claims, but an army of 200,000. That's why the US must give them more money and more arms and, especially, more money.

Sharing The Blame: ISIS Ayatollah Khomeini Turkish PM Erdoğan says America was discovered by Muslims, not Columbus. On camelback.

Porn O'Graph: The future in the rear view mirror.