Friday, February 20, 2015

SAR #15051

America has bet its future on making bricks without straw.

Run, Don't Walk: What if Greece isn't being forced out of the Eurozone? What if it's playing Br'er Rabbit and really, really wants to be the first to leave the doomed ship? It is Germany, not Greece that controls the fate of the eurozone and quite possibly the fate of the European experiment. The more Germany tries to dictate policy to everyone else, the more the odds of a complete breakup rise. Few in Europe have much enthusiasm for being bossed around by Berlin. The IMF, which was an equal co-conspirator with Berlin in reducing Greece to ruin, has washed its hands of the entire mess, leaving it up to the US to come to the rescue. That'll play well at the far end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Dietary Guidelines: Eating dirt is no longer required; panel finds actual foods - like eggs, liver, coffee and filet mignon – that once were banned are actually good for you. Okay, not the steak. And French fries are still out. 
This Just In: Guns kill. Just having them. Really.

Yet Another Shoe: On the heels of yesterdays news that the NSA had inserted spyware in nearly every hard-drive built in the last 10 years comes word that they and Great Britain's GCHQ has stolen the codes on pretty much all of the SIM cards in the world – those used by ATT, Sprint, T-Mobile and Sprint in the US and similar coverage abroad. It lets them “secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.” The list never ends; I don't even trust my toaster anymore.

Accept No Imitators: Pinterest has shut down Hillary Clinton's account because it was being run by Rand Paul – nice of him to try to save Hil the trouble. She's got enough problems with the ethical questions surrounding foreign donations.

Tourist Season: Yellowstone's grizzlies are emerging from hibernation way early, sensing spring is doing the same.

Track Trend: Caterpillar keeps setting records. Bad ones. It's now 26 consecutive months of declining retail sales for the world's one-time construction equipment giant. January was the worst month for its sales since the Lehman crash. Global sales were down 14% y/y (when sales were then down 8% over the previous year).

Contest: Your local mall is looking for ideas for what to do with the anchor space that Sears will be vacating. 
Half A Loaf: Walmart ($16 billion profits last year) is increasing its minimum wage to $9 this spring and $10 next year, in line with the increase in minimum wages in several states. The move will cover the 500,000 part-time and full-time workers who now make less than that. The move will bring full time employees, if any can be found, to $20,000 a year, hardly a living wage. Despite all the media attention, the Bentonvill Beast is a latecomer, pretending to care about their employees while papering over the bad press they've gotten for telling their workers to go on welfare or to donate food to their co-workers for Christmas. A hike to $15 an hour and full healthcare benefits for all would be something to praise, but it might cut into those profits that Sam's struggling kids need. 
Asked & Obvious: Are the world's biggest banks moving money for terrorists? Is there profit in doing so? Well, then of course; no worse than drug lords and dictators are they?

More and Harder: The election will, once again, turn out to be at least fifty shades of grey. Guess who gets tied up and whipped.

Literary Biology: Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness got it right.

One If By Land: Paul Ryan is looking forward to giving international corporations the right to reverse annoying rules and regulations that he can't manage to kill thorough the electoral process. That's why he's pushing the Trade Promotion Authority legislation that would limit Congress' role in binding America to a treaty negotiated in secret by unelected corporate lackeys to a simple yea/nay vote. No discussion. No bother to read the contract. Just rubber stamp. It's all about freedom...

Little Read Book: Mistakes were made, very profitable mistakes.” Little brother, on Iraq. 
Porn O'Graph: It was different this time; still is.

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