Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SAR #15181

"Nobody needs to justify why they 'need' a right. The burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right." Edward Snowden

Comedy, Tragedy, Farce: Most likely, the IMF will term Greece's non-timely payment as putting the loan “in arrears,” which will let the ECB pretend that it is not a default and find ways to keep this silly play running another three weeks. But come July 20th and Athens cannot pay the €3.5bn due on sovereign bonds held by the ECB it will, at last, be in default. As a season ticket-holder who has seen all the previous installments, that's my guess.

Scoreboard: On the good side of the ledger, the Supreme Court told BP and Anadarko to quit whining and pay up, upheld the power of independent commissions to draw congressional district lines, told Texas to stop trying to keep women from obtaining legal abortions, and told AZ and KS to stop trying to keep Democrats from voting. On the down side it suggested that affirmative action preferences in higher education are suspect and that human lives are not worth as much as coal company profits. 
Naiveté: Rand Paul wants to get the government out of the marriage business altogether. Quite how this would affect all the little legalities that marriage takes care of – property inheritance, medical decisions, various benefits and obligations - was not mentioned. 
Unclear On The Concept: It's nice to see that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore continues to display his complete ignorance of constitutional law and complete indifference to human emotions. He has instructed probate judges to drag their feet for as long as possible before giving up the already lost fight against same-sex marriage. The Texas attorney general claims that county clerks don't have to follow the law of the land if it hurts their feelings. 
This Just In: A review of the scientific evidence suggests that fluoride in the water supply may not prevent cavities after all. Is nothing sacred?

Problem Child: Poor President Erdogan doesn't know which way to turn. He doesn't want ISIS to establish a caliphate to compete with his vision of a resurrected Ottoman Empire, but he even more does not want the Kurds to be victorious in anything more important than a backgammon game. That explains the 18,000 Turkish soldiers marching into Syria to fight the Kurds.

Next Up (or Down): Puerto Rico cannot pay its debts. It owes about $72 billion and only has $1.72. The governor says that PR is now “in a death spiral”, but he's a politician not an IMF economist, so what does he know? Austerity, do I hear austerity?

Folly: Black Knight reports that US house prices rose 1% month-to-month in April from March. That's 12% on an annual basis. Did you get a raise?

Civility Service: NYC cops are outraged over a proposal that would require them to get a suspect's consent before conducting otherwise illegal searches and to provide citizens the phone number of the Civilian Complain Review Board.

Oh-Oh: Russia reportedly will have important positions in the Chinese-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The US didn't even get an invitation to the dance.

Win Some, Lose Some: Because natural gas is mostly methane and methane is way worse than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming, if the entire production process leaks more than 3% of the gas involved it becomes worse for the environment than coal. It does, and is.

What’s traditional about being married three times? One thing almost all those Bible believers going on about God and marriage and gays and Hell and Perdition have in common is that they have not read the Bible. Or have they forgotten that it was fine to force captive virgins to be wives or concubines or just sex slaves, along with rape, incest, polygamy, and pimping out your daughter-in-law. Or that God likes marriage so much that, according to Jesus, there is no marriage in Heaven.

Monday, June 29, 2015

SAT #15180

Little of what is now happening will end well.

Job Description: Antonin Scalia, who is apparently unaware of his job description, bitched “A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.” Never mind that the “committee of nine lawyers” is the Supreme Court, one of the three co-equal parts of the government of the United States, whose constitutional responsibility is to ensure that the laws of the country (to which the citizens must submit) conform to the Constitution. At least five of the Justices were doing their jobs. Scalia, not so much.

Protecting And Serving: As part of their community outreach effort to the Muslim community, New York police ticketed hundreds of cabbies while they were attending mosque for Ramadan Friday prayers.

Clarification: Yes, we're facing the sixth great mass extinction. We are not the dinosaurs, we're the asteroid, but we're not going to make out very well either.

The Family Album: Military prosecutors report that they have unearthed 14,000 CIA photos from torture conducted in black sites in Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Thailand. Defense attorneys want access to the photos, as will the International War Crimes tribunal. Note that these are apparently official CIA documents that were overlooked when the agency was busy destroying the viedos
The Bill Clements Defense: Rick Scarborough, the Texas preacher who said he would set himself on fire if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage now says that he did not mean that he would actually set himself on fire, and besides, there wasn't a bible in the room.

When You're Right, You're Right: Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg has described Nato’s insistence that all member states spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense as “nonsense.” An understatement.

Yeah, Boo: Massachusetts has raised the minimum hourly pay for home care workers to $15 an hour. Brave of them, until you compare the size of the affected employers and number of employees, say, Wally World or Macky D.

Doing Unto Others: Illegal immigrants in 35 California counties have granted access to healthcare. First thing you know they'll be talking about it as a universal basic human right.

Just Say “Yes!”: In Iceland, seven bankers have been jailed for illegal market manipulation. See, it wasn't that difficult after all. It may not stop bankers from stealing, but it certainly will stop these guys for a while.

Down Is The New UP: American consumers are expressing greater confidence in the economy as the economy cools and the rate of GDP growth falls. We've lowered our expectations and still aren't too upset when they're not met. 
Two To Tangle: A lot of people who are quite happy to point out that leaving the euro would be a disaster for Greece conveniently overlook the disaster it will be for the euro and the grand experiment. And it is also quite possible that leaving the eurozone would be far easier on most Greeks than an indefinite period of servitude to German banks.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

SAR #15178

Unclear On The Concept: Alabama, Mississippi, Mike Huckabee, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. If you've ever wondered what it was like to consistently, for 50 years and more, be on the wrong side of history – ask a Republican. It's an overnight success, dating back to Stonewall and before.

Say Goodnight, Gracie: Greek PM Tsipras has been snubbed by the IMF/EU/ECB at every turn, so he is turning to the population, calling for a referendum in which the people decide whether to chose serfdom or an exit from the Euro. Stay tuned.

Winner Take All: Blindfolded monkeys picking stocks at random have once again beaten the returns of the average hedge fund.

Friday, June 26, 2015

SAR #15177

Our lives are built on the assumption that more is always possible.

Onward: The Supremes, at 6 to 3, have upheld Obamacare once again. This is an impressive victory for the people... the people who own stock in HCA, Tenet Healthcare, Community Heath Systems and any number of health insurers, whose revenue and profit streams will continue to be fed taxpayer dollars.

Mathiness: Pretty soon, in the US, the majority will be a minority.

Being There: NSA Chief Admiral Michael Rogers says that it is not enough for the NSA to capture all of our emails, phone calls and internet activity, it must expand its collection of “visual information about the earth and its residents.” He likes to watch.

The Recovery, Part 67: The number of homeowners in the US has reached a 20-year low, along with the labor participation rate. Funny, that. Probably just a coincidence.

Sermon: The G7 is urging its members to make “climate fragility” a priority in their foreign policy goals, citing the ongoing war in Syria as an example of the sort of thing climate change can cause. Note that this was for export; apparently the G7 saw no need for change within their own countries.

Impressive: Egypt, with 18 journalists now in jail, is second only to two-time world record holder (well, record journalist holder...) Erdogan's Turkey
House Of Mirrors: Take notes: Germany suspects that Russia is secretly providing funds to those working to convince the British to break with the EU. It's part, they claim, of Putin's evil plan to undermine Europe's leadership. Shucks, they're doing a pretty good job of that by themselves.

Over There: Nearly half of Texans are worried that the US Army is set to invade the state. And these are registered voters.

In The Bull Pen: “Both France and Italy would have to more than double their projected increase in GDP to meet the debt-to-GDP ratios that the ECB/IMF have decreed acceptable. Greece is just a warmup, France and Italy are the main event. 
Expected: Sales of the Confederate flag are soaring. Check out the next gun show in your neighborhood.

Here & There: Indiana's governor, citing some seriously misunderstood version of 'state's rights' is refusing to comply with federal regulations requiring reductions in CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants. In Holland, a Dutch court has ordered the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% in the next 5 years as a public health issue.

Deep In The Heart Of: The main qualification the new head of Texas' State Board of Education has is that none of her children has ever spent a day in a public school – they're home-schooled.

Porn O'Graph: Good intentions.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

SAR #15176

Collapse is not an event, it is a process. Charles Hugh Smith

Objective: The IMF has made it clear that their current goal in Greece is not a budgetary surplus as such, but a surplus achieved by cutting pensions by 25%. And they will accept no substitutes. The IMF either does not want a working agreement with the Greek government, or is serving the interests of some specific financial group. 
Informative:GDP does not measure the economic elements that directly impact the quality of life of its citizens.” 
The Stable: Disposing of the Confederate battle flag is a minor side issue, long overdue but not particularly vital and useful only to those who want to divert our attention from the real task: defending and expanding voting rights, reforming our criminal justice system, and addressing the systematic evils of our economic system.

Here's Booby! Louisiana's Bobby Jindal has bought a ticket for the Republican Clown Car. 
Details, Devil: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership... would transform world trade governance in ways that are hard to predict.”
Modern Art: The MOMA has long been dedicated to conning patrons into believing what they're told and not their lying eyes. Now MOMA director Glenn Lowry has conned the board into giving him a 15% pay increase, to $2.1 million. Part of the increase was in recognition of his efforts to force employees to pay more for their health benefits. Lowry gets, among other bennies, free housing. The Met, which exhibits real art, pays it's honcho only $1.3 million.

Because They Can: the default setting for Google's Chromium web browser turns on your computer's microphone and lets Google eavesdrop on everything said near the computer.

If Only: Canada's Alberta has passed a bill that bans both corporate and union donations to politicians, forcing them to go out and meet actual voters and pretend that they matter. 
Cash Cows: The White House brags that Uncle Sam collects $1.23 on every dollar it lends to students. Odd thing to be proud of. 
Porn O'Graph: The geography of hate.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SAR #15175

Are EU officials as dumb as they seem?  Is Trump?

Original Sin: America pretends to be a much less racist nation than it used to be. It is not. Yes, a marked measure of progress has been made on the public level, but on a personal level we are still in denial. That's why we're talking about the Confederate flag and not about our racism, our denial of the pervasive discrimination, fear and hate that silently dominates our public spaces and political discourse. It is probably the operative factor in our disdain for helping the less fortunate. It certainly is the basis for 22 states refusing to extend healthcare to their citizens through the ACA. And the great impetus to resist gun control can be traced to the white fear of black reprisal. We like to think we're better than that. We aren't.

There's An App For That: Seems that Uber's handy little app tracks you 24/7. Just how smart is it to have a smart phone?

Mystery Meat: The essence of every trade deal between the US and the third world in the last 25 years has been to let ever more goods from lower wage nations replace US jobs. People working for a few dollars a day cannot afford US products, and US consumers cannot resist cheap salad spinners. We export jobs, they stock WalMart, auto row and the electronics stores. Yes, it improves – ever so slightly – life in Asian sweat shops. Tell me again why I should care, if it comes at our expense. How much sovereignty is cheap clothing worth?

History Lessened: The idiot brigade is claiming that banning the Confederate flag would be un-American.

Done Deal: This fall, before the Cameron government can dismantle Britain's National Health Service, the UK will become the first country in the world to begin a publicly funded immunization drive against meningitis B. Imagine what it must be like to live in an oppressive socialist country where the government interferes in people's lives like that. 
Final Score: Corporations 1, Constitution 0

Reflection: Facebook is now valued higher than Wal-Mart. That's the difference between selling you things and simply selling you.

And So It Goes: In 2007 a global financial crisis resulted from years of excess debt, artificially low interest rates and a determined refusal to recognize risk. The central bankers and financial giants have addressed the problem by increasing debt levels, lowering interest rates to zero and below, and continuing to ignore risks throughout the system. It's not so much that they don't have a Plan B to fall back on, it's that they never had a Plan A.

Negotiations; The Greek crisis is not a matter of principle – neither side can be accused of having any. Greece is a sideshow. The eurozone has failed
Rightly Wrong: Republican wannabe Scott Walker claims that equal pay for women is a ploy by the Left to “pit one group of Americans versus another.” He's right, women against the men.

Noted: “Slowly, like the proverbial frog in a saucepan, Britain is sliding towards a dictatorial rule by the state, very much along the lines of that predicted by Aldous Huxley 50 years ago”.

The Company We Keep: Documents released by Wikileaks reveals that it's not just us and Angela, the NSA also eavesdropped on the last three French presidents. 
Interpretation: New home sales are up 2.2% while new home prices are down 2.9%. What kind of “seller's market” is this?

Porn O'Graph: Family ties.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SAR #15174

Growing up involves learning not to notice most of what we encounter.
The grain of truth: The Eurozone is doomed whether Greece leaves or stays, although that decision may be punted down the road another six months. Greece... no, that's not right. The current crop of Greek leadership has buckled under to the overlords from the EU/ECB/IMF and offered to lower pension benefits (by raising contributions, even from those already retired) and lower health costs (ditto) and by increasing the VAT (which is very regressive) while pretending to tax the rich (which never has happened in Greece and isn't about to). The targeted 1% GDP budget surplus is not going to be met – it cannot be in the austerity-crippled Greek economy – and soon the lies will start again. Because it is not about the Greek debt, it is about the political future of the Euro.

Mark Your Calendar: June 27th has been designated “National burn the Confederate flag day.” No, don't go out and buy one, just scrape one off your neighbor's pickup. 
Pope Pops Off: Not only has the Pope fallen for the global climate change hoax, now he says that a Christian who invests in weapons industries is a hypocrite. He also wants to know why the Allies in WWII did not bomb the railway lines leading to concentration camps. Okay, Francis, maybe it is getting a little warmer and maybe most Christians are more than a little hypocritical, but no one wants to explain that most of the leaders – political and industrial and religious, including his predecessor – behind the war effort were quite happy to let those particular freight cars keep rolling.
Them: The 0.01% who have all the riches are the same 0.01% that gave $1.8 billion in reported political contributions in 2014 (and that doesn't include all the money they gave to those non-candidate “issues” PACs). Ah, democracy, where every dollar gets to vote.

Teddy Boy: Ted “Clown Car” defines gun control as “hitting what you aim at.”

Makes Me Proud: Poachers are killing 96 elephants every day. And we're not doing a damned thing to stop it. But then, we're not doing anything to stop the slaughter of innocents in our own country.

Efficiency: The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – the one that rubber stamps the government's requests to circumvent the Constitution – says that the court does not need to hear opposing arguments because its not like there will be a trial or anything like that when Homeland Security picks you up and puts you away.. The good news is that the Supreme Court has decided that the government needs a warrant to check hotel registers. Why the government would want to do that when they know where you are thanks to your cell phone and the license plate readers and already know what credit card you used to reserve the room...

No Means No, Not Now, Not Ever: A federal district judge has ruled that an unemployed disabled woman making $10,000 could not cancel her student loan debt, which had grown from $13,250 to $37,000 from compounded interest and fees. He said she would not suffer “undue hardship” if she at least tried to pay the $3.50 a day she owes in interest – 12% of her income.

Cleaning Up: Last month in El Salvador, the smallest and most densely populated Central American nation, there were 635 homicides in a population of 6.2 million. That's the equivalent to the US having 32,000 homicides in a month. 
Porn O'Graph: A great thirst came upon them...

Monday, June 22, 2015

SAR #15173

Everyone wants peace. On their terms.

Hell Yes: Is the battle flag of a white supremacist nation a racist symbol? Of course it is. It celebrates the very rationale of the Confederacy – that some people should be allowed to own other people. It is a heritage of hate, To pretend it is about state's rights is to pretend that the right involved was the right of whites to own blacks. It is a symbol of treason that was revived in the 1950s as an emblem of the white supremacists' refusal to accept their black neighbors as equals. It is precisely the psychology that led a young white man to walk into a church and shoot nine people. To pretend it is otherwise is to pretend that we are not still a violent, racist and hating nation. There are not two sides to this story, there is but one; it is about hate and fear.

Just Asking: Once the bankers have all the money, what use will they have for the rest of us?

Jeb! Jeb claims he can double America’s GDP growth rate to 4% percent, easily and nearly overnight. Of course he can't, we all know he's just making self-aggrandizing noises – after all, he's a politician and is required to echo the Republican belief that there is some secret economic magic available only to them. There isn't. It is just another attempt to sell the old “tax cuts for the rich create prosperity” trickle-down nostrum, an idea which is supported by no empirical evidence whatsoever. 
Fill In The Blanks: According to ________, the Kurds are more dangerous than ISIS to _____________. (a) Turkey. (b) Turkey.

The Root Of All Evil: The thing that most upsets the EU, IMF, EMU and Frau Merkel is that Greece has an elected government that refuses to do what it is told. The Greek crisis is the financial equivalent of the Iraq War – an invasion and destruction of the legitimate government followed by the ruination of the economy and social fabric of the country, all the while promising more beatings if morale doesn't improve. All as an object lesson to the citizens in Portugal, Spain, Italy who object to the end of their democratic sovereignty. To Brussels and Berlin, the money is not nearly as important as the precedent.

Works For Me: Texas pastor Rick Scarborough is willing to be burned to death to oppose gay marriage. 
Liars, cowards, freaks & fools.” America is no longer able to produce leaders. If it were, none of the current Republican crop would be in contention. Ditto for the other side. Leading the American people is no longer the function of the presidency – how could it be when nearly all of our national politicians are owned and operated by and for a small number of powerful private interest groups?

Porn O'Graph: Spin this. Or this.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

SAR #15171

There should be a noticeable difference between gun control and aiming. 
Keeping Score: The US government estimates that the TPP will result in zero economic growth and is likely to cause the economy to lose 90,000 jobs. The Fast Track authority removes the Congress from its constitutional role of “advise and consent”, as the business elites remove themselves from the constraints of elected politics.

Asked & Self Evident: What do you call someone who walks into a public space and randomly kills as many people as possible? An American. 
Ever After: Greece will still be there, and so will the euro's problems. Too bad the Trioka forgot that when you owe the bank $100 you've got a problem, when you owe it several billion, Germany's got a problem. That's why the ECB has papered it over, one more time.

Back In the Day: If you are over 50, you remember when the military air crews claimed “only you can prevent forests,” using the totally safe Agent Orange. The same Agent Orange that was not, the government kept saying for decades, responsible for all sorts of human and environmental problems. The very same Agent Orange that the US is now going to pay millions of dollars the damage it did – and continues to do. 
Asked &Answered: Someone asked why analysts seldom drop or amend their long term estimates for commodity price increases? One, it's good for business. Two, they secretly understand that all commodities exist in a closed environment and will eventually become scarce. Three, it's good for business.

Going Nowhere: What little increase there was in the average worker's pay in May was eaten by inflation. Yet inflation is well below target, which doesn't say much for wage levels. 
Follow The Money: Saudi Arabia, which exists solely to produce carbon dioxide emissions, continues to block efforts to strengthen international efforts to slow global warming. They're as dependent on our mutual destruction as are the Koch brothers and BP.

Nothing Up My Sleeve: Some clever but crooked bankers (I know, redundant) fleeced Moldavia of over $1 billion in just three days. Over 12% of the nation's GDP dissipated without a trace. More or less legally, thanks to convenient laws. 
Understatement: Greeks took €3.2bn was withdrawn from Greek banks in the last 3 days, “raising fears of a run on the banks.” Whoa, partner. There are about 2.5 million families in Greece and most of them didn't have €1,000 in the bank, so I'd guess a run on the banks was pretty well underway.

Dying of Debt: Capitalism kills, faster in some places than others.
Excuses, Excuses: Rick Perry claims that the shooting in Charleston was “an accident” caused by drugs. The NRA says it was caused by the pastor voting against permitting guns in churches. Others think it was caused by Planned Parenthood
Up The Down Staircase: A university in Utah has solved the look-where-you're going' problem of texters plowing straight ahead and into you. At least on the staircases, where they've created a texting only lane for the slowpokes. Maybe we should paint lines on city sidewalks, like bike lanes.

Porn O'Graph: Number One with a bullet!

Friday, June 19, 2015

SAR #15170

Doomed: The House has approved giving Obama the authority to negotiate away American sovereignty, 218 to 208. The only hope now would be a no vote once the deed is done, but there has never, not once, been a defeat of a trade agreement once fast track authority has been granted. Again. Best we can hope for is that it is yet another straw...

Junkyard Dogs: NATO's attempt to impress the Russians with the recent naval exercises might have gone better if one of the Polish landing craft hadn't sunk.

Comes The Dawn: Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. Republicans on their star chamber committee spent Tuesday grilling Clinton insider Sidney Blumenthal about the inner workings of the Clinton's philanthropic and political operations, not about Benghazi. It was never about Benghazi and was always a witch hunt. Yet another one.

Be Prepared: Research suggests that far from being a boon to the American economy, the TPP will essentially extend the losses to American workers far beyond the 5 million jobs lost to NAFTA. 
TheFault Is Not In Our Stars... Someday soon it may occur to us that there is something quite wrong with our society and even to suspect that guns may be a significant part not only of our bloody history but our bloody future. People like Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum who claim it was not a racial shooting but “an attack on Christians” and part of an “religious liberty” should be ashamed, as should those in the South Carolina legislature (where the Confederate flag still flies) who want to expand the right to gun down black congregations. The pretense of self-defense is specious – there are 32 gun homicides for every one justifiable shooting. 
If Only: Germany plans to convert 60 former military bases into nature preserves.

Reality Check: Despite the platitudinous report from the EPA declaring fracking innocent of contaminating groundwater supplies, water throughout the Barnett Shale basin is contaminated with "multiple volatile organic carbon compounds - various alcohols, the BTEX family of compounds and several chlorinated compounds - " all of which are “associated” with the fracking industry, as are increases in earthquakes
Porn O'Graph: Read 'em and reap.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

SAR #15169

A vote for the lesser evil is still a vote for evil.

In Short: A Greek parliamentary committed has found Greece's public debt to be “illegal, illegitimate, odious and unsustainable … without seriously impairing its capacity to fulfill its basic human rights obligations.”

Recovery, Capsule Form: The recovery has been so successful that many of the poorest Americans - a far larger group than it used to be – cannot afford to rent, much less buy a place to live. Not a single county anywhere in the United States has sufficient affordable housing for its poor. God blessed us all, some more than others.

Visitors: The Dominican Republic is deporting all “Dominicans” born to undocumented foreign parents after 1929. Or to put it another way, all Dominicans of Haitian descent under the age of 85 are going to be rounded up, put on buses and shipped to Haiti.

On Education: Wonder what would happen if we took the hundreds of dollars a month they pour into smartphones, tablets, internet services and the rest of the mindless technology we are addicted to and spent it on books? Then turned off the TV and read them.

Squirrels: Wal-Mart, many of whose employees depend on taxpayer-funded government programs to survive, has $76 billion hidden in overseas tax havens. 
About That “New Economy”: Seems that self-employment ain't what you – and they – thought it was. A judge has ruled that Uber's “contractors” are actually employees. Same should go for a huge number of other similar employment scams. 
Gone In A Flash: In Eaton County, MI, the punishment for flashing your headlights at a cop is being shot seven times. And that's if you are unarmed.

Perspective: Someone has decided to scare us about drugs, pointing to some 44,000 drug overdose deaths a year as proof of something or other. For comparison, there are 88,000 alcohol-caused deaths every year in the US.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

SAR #15168

The propaganda machine to worry about is ours, not theirs.

The Damned Boat Leaks: It has come to the IMF's attention that the economic trickle down theory is a bunch of hokum, and that the stagnant incomes of the poor and middle classes are a significant part of the lack of economic growth. Now (at long last) the IMF says that governments should concentrate their efforts on helping the poorest 20% of their citizens. Except in Greece. 
It's Come To This: 212 Republican senators accused the Democrats of weakening US armed forces because Democrats led the Senate in passing a bill to prohibit the military from using torture.

Perspective: Now that Pope Francis is rallying 1.2 billion Catholics to support efforts to slow or stop man-made global warming (and the Pope made it clear global climate change is man's mischief, not an Act of God), young Jebbie says Francis is wrong and should stick to trying “to make us better as people” as though good people aren't a big part of the problem.

Good Question: How will passing the TPP improve people's lives by raising the cost of drugs and increasing the prices on music and old movies and such? Twenty words or less, neatness counts.

Deadline: The US Food and Drug Administration has ordered the food industry to phase out the use of trans fats within three years. Providing, of course, that the TPP does not pass, for the food manufactures could sue for the profits they might lose due to this regulation.

Odds On: A black baby boy born today has a one-in-three chance of ending up in jail. That's not genetics.

Judge Not: A court has ruled that the US government had no legal right to seize AIG and bail it out, but that in doing so the government did not harm the plaintiff (the ungrateful bastard whose company was saved by taxpayer dollars) because without the illegally supplied funds, AIG would have gone belly up and been worthless. Nothing in the ruling appears raise a significant impediment to the repeat of such illegal actions on the part of the government. 
Moderation: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that websites can be held responsible (fiscally, criminally) for defamatory comments that anonymous readers leave in the comments section of the website. 
Troublemaker: The Pope's been reading the New Testament again and taking Jesus' message to heart, especially the part about giving your money to the poor, working to heal the sick and comforting the afflicted. The Lesson for the day: “Poverty is precisely at the heart of the Gospel." 
An Ounce Of Prevention: The Centers for Disease Control has determined, after extensive experimentation, that if you do not engage in sex you are unlikely to contract a sexually transmitted disease. Research into the efficacy of starvation as an solution to the obesity epidemic has stalled for the lack of volunteer subjects.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

SAR #15167

Capitalism was founded on growing supplies of cheap fossil fuels. Euan Mearns

Ends/Means: A US “counter terrorism” airstrike killed a purported al-Qaeda leader... or was he ISIS? - in Libya. The airstrike was, of course, another illegal act of war by the US, but what the hey, it was in a good cause, right? Besides, no women or children were reported to have been accidentally slaughtered. But then again, the report didn't use the words “surgical” or “pin-point” either.

Rules Is Rules: The CIA's own reports on its torture program not only violated all the rules of civilized behavior, but seems to have broken the agency's own rules on human experimentation – especial the one about not getting caught.

Drip, Drip, Drip: The latest WikiLeaks released TPP documents detail how signatory nations will be forced to give up their sovereignty in matters of health and will be required to submit their national health programs to review and will be required to explain and defend the plans treatment of various pharmaceuticals. They will also be required to reduce the number of subsidies for both medicines and medical equipment, extend patent periods, and discourage or eliminate generic versions of drugs – especially those harmful to medical industry profits. 
Mirror, Mirror: UNESCO representatives say the destruction of Yemeni heritage by Saudi Arabia is akin to what we are seeing in Iraq and Syria and nearly as bad as the looting allowed in Baghdad by Bush/Rumsfeld in 2003.

A Sound Decision: The Supremes have overturned the North Carolina anti-abortion law requiring doctors to perform unnecessary ultrasounds and to describe in lurid and not particularly accurate detail what the image showed. This law has been copied in several other troglodytic states and the decision effectively overturns those laws.

Endgame For Glyphosate? Citing the WHO decision identifying Roundup Weed Killer (glyphosate) as “a probable carcinogen”, France has banned over the counter sales of the poison. Monsanto's human trials of the product are still underway in the United States, where the cost/benefit ratio between killing weeds and killing humans has not been established.

Student Union: What if all the young people who were suckered into undischargable debt while obtaining an essentially useless degree bonded together and decided that they would not, not a single one of them, repay the enormous debts they were conned into? Just walking off from $1.3 trillion. What little they learned, they learned, and the diploma itself is not doing them a bit of good.

Economic Shortcut: There is a discussion underway way concerning what assumptions matter for “Growth Theory.” Well, the first one is that perpetual growth is possible, which should pretty much end the discussion.

Monday, June 15, 2015

SAR #15166

The Beat(ing) Goes On: The bankers – ECB, IMF, EU & most importantly,Frau Merkel – continue to insist that Greece run a budget surplus of 3.5% a year – and use that money to pay back their creditors. They demanded even more cuts to pensions and social spending, higher taxes on energy and increases in the VAT tax on everything. The Greeks did a Nancy and just said 'no.' 

Note: Berlin and the ECB are not grinding Greece into the gutter over economics, nor even as an exercise in indirectly proping up banks that stupidly lent too much money to Greece. It was never about the money and not even really about Greece. Bonn and the bankers felt a deep need to show Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain and Italy who was boss and what happens if you don't do as your are told and refuse to accept dictators appointed by those who must be obeyed. It's about central control and the submission of the citizens. It's about the end of popular democracy at the national level throughout Europe. Greece should get out as fast as it can and others shuold start packing their bags.

Wind, Blowing: Barcelona and Madrid are now being governed by coalitions of social movements, not political parties. 
Timing Is Everything: By now you've undoubtedly heard about the Russians and Chinese breaking the encryption on Snowden-stolen files that have forced MI-5 and th CIA to suddenly whisk hundreds of intelligence operatives out of those countries. Hope you smiled and said “Piffle.” This is not a reliable bit of reporting. First, no actuall sources for the story are named. Second, MI-5 and the CIA together probably don't have more than five or six actual assets in either Russia or China. And lastly, sources are identified by code names. Their information is reported in a sterile fashion with no personal identification attached. So, why now? And why so clumsily done?

New & Improved: The US is “poised” to deploy enough heavy weapons in Eastern Europe for 5,000 American troops, who will be along shortly. 
The Scarlet Letter: Back in 1995, Jeb Bush – having completely misunderstood Hawthorne - wanted the hussies who gave birth outside of marriage to be publicly shamed and humiliated. Somebody should tell him 40% of the mothers in this country would need be put in stocks, and not all of them would end up voting for him.

Unclear on the Concept: Under a Freedom of Information request, the CIA has finally released its report on Saudi involvement in the 9/11 disaster... and 29 out of the 30 pages have been blacked out. 
Act Surprised: The increase in Obamacare health insurance premiums for 2016 will be grotesque – from 15% to 36% and more. Why are the insurers doing this? Because a) they can, b) they have to and most of all c) it was baked in to begin with. The ACA has covered millions of people who needed medical coverage – but not enough healthy folks. There is a real, significant, and demonstrable gap between the income from the poliicies and the cost of the services. And that's before profits. So the rates will go up, the government's cost via subsidies will go up, and the number of insured will go down. The only reasonable solution would be a tax supported single-payer system, which isn't going to happen. Expect more band aids.

Our Associates: Any CEO who claims that “people are our most important asset” is either lying or by “people” he means the politicians his company has on the payroll. 
Individuality: I don't understand all the hubbub about the lady at NAACP who pretended to be black. Lots of people pretend to be this or that. Obama, for example, pretends to be a Democrat.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

SAR #15164

We live in a time of secret secrets.

A Bright And Shining Moment: The House of Representatives just said “No.” But it is only a temporary victory, for Obama and the Republicans will be back next week, trying again to shove the trade agreements we do not want down our throats. These things are not going away.
Payback: Not only has there been no pause in the global warming process, but the short-term factors that gave rise to that illusion – mainly the storage of vast amounts of heat in the deep oceans plus increased La Niñas, decreases in solar activity, and such – have masked an acceleration in the rate of warming.  By 2020 the global climate system will begin several decades of rapid warming. As the saying goes, we ain't seen nothing yet.

Friends & Neighbors: New video footage provides further evidence that Erodğan's Turkey is providing safe passage into Syria for ISIS terrorists. Why haven't we imposed sanctions on our NATO partner?

On Winceconsin: Scott Wannabe Walker, having gutted the University's budget, is now planning on stripping tenure from its professors. In Walker's world, the only people who should have a lifetime sinecure are Republicans from gerrymandered safe districts.

Same Old Song: In the UK, the Osborne government is trying to fast-track regulations that would bypass the public and open the entire country to fracking. The same group is trying – without much sucess - to privatize the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 80% owned by the nation. Less than a month ago a few voters in a few districts managed to impose ever greater austerity on the country, with tax cuts, privatization, and an end to the welfare state.

Blue Light Special: The Pentagon says that the non-war against ISIS has cost $2.7 billion so far. No, don't bother to read the fine print; the Pentagon couldn't walk your dog for a pittance like that. 
This Old House: Over 4 million Americans owe at least 20% more on their mortgages than their houses are worth. Those trying to pay for the least valuable houses were most likely (25%) to be underwater, while only 8% of those in the most valuable homes were upside down. That's okay, when they lose their houses they can rent them back from the new owners.

Datum: The Fed claims that the average household has experienced “modest improvement” in net worth during the recovery - but only if 35% of households aren't counted. You know, the poor, who “have no path to consume more.” Which is a failing and most likely their fault.

Distinction/Difference: The courts have ruled that former IMF boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not a pimp, just a banker. No further explication was given. Or needed.