Friday, September 30, 2016
The bills are coming due.
Vocabulary Test: The president said the bill permitting Americans to sue Saudi Arabia could erode the concept of sovereign immunity, not only making American citizens and their assets abroad vulnerable to lawsuits, but leaving the American government and its leaders “exposed to liabilities for all the work that we're doing all around the world.” Define 'work.'
Pot, Kettle: Credit Suisse's CEO – one of Europe’s most senior bankers – warns that Europe's banks are “not really investable”. Excepting, one assumes, Credit Suisse?
Yardstick: By most measures, the Fed's last 7 years have not produced stellar results, but it got the intended result: It inflated asset prices and saved Wall Street from its stupidity and criminality.
This Time It Is Different: Every previous credit boom has been followed by a credit bust. UN economists expect a global financial crisis triggered by epic debt defaults.
Faint Praise: Six prominent climate change scientists have warned the world's leaders that signing the Paris agreement was at best well intentioned words and that if actual serious steps are not promptly taken, global temperatures will surpass the 2°C mark by 2050. They stressed that the cuts and curbs promised in Paris are simply not enough, “not even close.”
In Short: “Donald Trump oozes contempt for the status quo.” Trump's pronouncements on trade and the economy are not true, nor are his promised actions remotely plausible. This does not matter for it speaks to the pain and anger felt in many former manufacturing centers. And that's what gets him votes.
Protecting The Serving: A new NC law blocks the public from ever seeing police dashboard and body camera videos, while a new Iowa statue will keep the public from ever seeing the results of investigations into police actions. How'd we let the cops get so much power?
House That? Since 1999 home prices have risen 76% while household income has grown less than 2%; you do the math.
Your Move: One thing that voting for a thrid-party candidate could accomplish is to deprive the winning mainstream candidate of enough votes to prevent the pretense of some sort of 'mandate'. Splitting your vote between the top of the ticket and the Congresscritters may go a long way towards creating a totally ineffective administration, which might not be such a bad thing. If you think one or the other of these jokers is godawful, think how much worse it would be if the same party controlled the White House and Congress.
Porn O'Graph: More for less.
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:18 AM
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Word for the day: Deutsche Bank.
Serving And Projecting: Cops in El Cajon, CA, following the lead of several other police departments nationally, responded to a call to help someone by killing the person who needed help. He was acting “erratically”. Immediately after the shooting, cops descended on local residents and confiscated cell phones. Interestingly, police departments that have strong policies regarding killing civilians don't kill as many civilians as those that don't.
It Says Here: Trump telling women to drop to their knees is “completely innocent.”
Simply Wrong: Larry Summers notes that “A simple linear trend suggests that by mid-century about a quarter of men between 25 and 54 will not be working...” that would be about double today's rate. Naw, doesn't seem likely to me, either.
Seriously: The Dutch government, accepting its responsibility to avert “the imminent danger caused by climate change, is moving to shut down its entire coal industry and close its five existing coal-fired power plants by 2020, including three that came on-line only last year (five older coal-fired plants were shut down last year). The cost is estimated at $7.9 billion.
Quoted: Eric Trump, the third child of The Donald's first of three marriages said that“It took 'courage' for my dad not to mention Bill Clinton's infidelity,” during the debate. In answer to the question on terrorism?
“This year is different.” The Arizona Republic, a bastion of “conservative ideals and Republican principals”, has endorsed a Democrat for the Presidency for the first time since its founding in 1890.
Catch 22: The Russian journalist who filmed election fraud as it took place has been arrested for election fraud.
Day Late, Several Dollars Short: The IMF now, finally, at last, sees that globalized free trade benefits “only a fortunate few.” Just as the NY Fed notes that real wages for most of the workforce have been undergoing “negative growth” and getting worse.
Talking Turkey: If everybody that Erdogan has had arrested, detained or fired for taking part in the failed coup had actually taken part in the coup it would have succeeded.
New Kid On The Block: Amazon, which intends to wrest the delivery business away from UPS and FedEX, now has 'fulfillment centers' within 20 miles of 40% of the US population.
Handily: Last year, 1 in 5 American households with children could not afford to buy enough food for their families.
Slowly, Slowly: Global container shipment volumes have not grown this year, the worst performance since 2009 as globalization growth seems to be peaking.
Polls: The huge number of undecided voters – 15 to 20% of those polled - is a reflection of the distaste common among voters to vote for either candidate, and that makes the polls highly suspect.
Things You Already Knew: “Texas is less rational than other states.”
Porn O'Graph: Ups and downs.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:59 AM
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Agreement requires disagreement.
Revelations: Trump says that over 200 generals and admirals have selected him to be president. Strange, I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.
Going, Going, Gone: In Paris the US pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels (about 6 billion tons of CO2) by 2025. Even if Obama's Clean Power Plan were enacted promptly, it would miss that goal by well over 1 billion tons and maybe as much as 1.8 billion tons of CO2 emissions. And the Clean Power Plan is unlikely to get past our Republicans or our courts. The always cosmetic 1.5°C goal is not going to be met. Neither is the 2°C level. MIT scientists say that even with the proposed cuts global temperatures will pass a 3.5C increase in average global temperatures by 2100. That's a 6.5° F increase, which is pretty much curtains on civilization as we know it.
Rainy Daze: Among US households nearing retirement (age 55-65) the median retirement account holds about $14,500.
Sleeping Around: The Trump campaign is said to be planning on diverting attention from the poor debate showing by Their Donald by attacking the Clinton's marriage. A spokesman claimed that Trump's repeated adulteries don't count against him as a negative character trait because he's still 'friends' with his ex-wives.”
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: The WHO says that 9 out of 10 people globally are breathing poor quality air, which kills more than six million of us every year.
Doing Our Part: Automobile exhaust is one of the top contributers to global warming, and it is heartwarming to know that we Americans are doing our part – burning a record 9.7 billion barrels of gasoline every day.
The 7% Solution: Trump professes, "Believe me, I started off with $1 million," in 1975. This is probably true, but overlooks the fact that over the next ten years Daddy gave him another $13 million.
Indoctrination: The Tennessee State Board of Education Standards Recommendation Committee wants to remove information about Islam – the third largest religion in the world - from the state's middle school curricula because it isn't “age-appropriate”.
Achievement: Donald Trump was recognized as “the most improved bigot” on the stage Tuesday night. He also won the consistency award for his ongoing misogyny.
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 6:56 AM
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Pundits talk about 'the next recession' as though the last one was over.
Think It's Gonna Rain? Reports make it obvious that chemical weapons are being used in Iraq (and Syria), yet the US refuses to address the issue. Makes you wonder what the Pentagon is being so shy about.
First Things First: Having sex with prostitutes is now illegal in Germany unless you wear a condom.
Tidbit The American Enterprise Institute's Nicholas Eberstadt claims the reason that 1 out of 7 'prime working age' men are not in the labor force is that their wives or girl friends support them while they stay home playing video games.
Enlightened Self-Interest: Tony Blair, who was in charge when the crimes were committed, has called for an end to investigation into the abuses committed by British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Noted: if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth over the last fifty years it would be over $18 an hour now.
Refrigerator Note: “Today’s Democrats have become the Party of War: a home for arms merchants, mercenaries, academic war planners, lobbyists for every foreign intervention, promoters of color revolutions, failed generals, exploiters of the natural resources of corrupt governments.” … “We have broken one Middle Eastern nation after another. Hundreds of cities and villages lie in ruins, hundreds of thousands are dead, millions are refugees; and, for all the press and political thundering against the menace of ISIS, Al Qaeda, or Islamic terrorism generally, our military leaders offer no prospects of victory. They cannot tell us what victory would require or mean; though they are quick to assure us, as in Libya today, that this conflict will go on indefinitely. They cannot even explain how some of our current allies (example Turkey) are bombing and shelling others of our purported allies (example the Kurds). So a Democratic administration, carrying on the work of the Bush presidency, without thought and without question, year after year, has kept sending more young men and women into the grinder.” … It is “a Democratic president who sends an endless parade of drones to nations all over the world … with complete carelessness in how that technological prowess destroys people and nations.” A vote for Hillary 'Regime Change' Clinton is a vote for war, which is not to excuse Trump but to suggest we examine her record if only to dampen our already tepid enthusiasm.
Scene On The Street: Have you noticed how many Americans are celebrating The Recovery™ by living in their vans and checking out the sales at the dollar store for a new pair of jeans?
Tied For First Place: The UN has declared antibiotic resistance – greatly due to the use/abuse of antibiotics in the food system – to be one of the greatest and most urgent global risks. Along with AIDS and Ebola. And global warming, the migrant/refugee crisis, overpopulation and American military adventurism.
Clarification: Hillary doesn't lie, although she often resorts to carefully engineered statements that accommodate a certain flexibility.
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:03 AM
Monday, September 26, 2016
Straight Talk: Human caused climate change is caused by humans. If we are to stop the increase in global temperature we must stop the increase in humans. We just had the hottest summer ever recorded, possibly the hottest summer in thousands of years. Greenland's huge annual ice loss is even worse than previously estimated. The planet will pass the politically cynical 1.5°C goal within this decade – long before a single realistic step is taken to stop the march to a 4°C or greater arise by 2100. Sure this means we are pretty well doomed, but it is depressing so neither candidate will address the topic in the debates. Trump's recent endorsement of ever more coal mining and oil and gas production is no better than encouraging teenagers to smoke unfiltered cigarettes – it will kill us. Maybe people will grasp the seriousness of the threat when they learn that the world's coffee supply is doomed if climate change continues unabated; chocolate, too.
Toe The Line: India's Prime Minister has challenged the people of Pakistan to “come forward to fight against poverty. Let's see who wins. Let's see who is able to defeat poverty and illiteracy first, Pakistan or India."
The Economics of Faith: Guam has passed a bill that does away with the statue of limitations on child sex abuse over the protests of the Roman Catholic Church which said that the bill would decimate the priesthood and bankrupt the church.
Explainer: If you wonder why college and professional athletes are joining Colin Kaepernick's protest – other than the obvious ridiculousness of considering patriotism as a prerequisite for playing or watching a spiriting event – consider the last few days crop: In Georgia cops tasered “a compliant black” in a jail. In Baltimore a black man called 911 for help, cops came and beat him to death. In NJ a corrections officer slammed a black woman into a door; her injuries required 12 staples and 4 stitches to close. In MD cops pepper-sprayed a handcuffed black teenaged girl. Then there are the unconvincing videos of the killing in Charlotte.
Leroy Brown Brigade: A Kurdish militia attack has killed dozens of Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Shouldn't mess around with a junk-yard dog.
Sarcasm: President Obama welcomed the opening of the Smithsonian's new National African American History and Culture Museum saying that it told the “glorious story” of white Americas treatment of blacks, first as slaves, then as second class citizens and then as fodder for privatized prisons.
Dream On: Does marijuana hold the cure for Alzheimer's?
Factoid: “Nobody Knows What Happens Next in the 2016 Election.”
Covert Action: Knowing that a frontal assault on Social Security is unlikely to succeed, Republicans are attempting to destroy it covertly, from within. While the number of Americans retiring continues to increase, Congress has systematically cut the Social Secuirty's administrative budget and forced hiring freezes - so deeply that the staff is forced to take a two-week unpaid furlough every year just because of the underfunding. Republicans hope the resulting crapification of the service will lay the groundwork to privatize it to “save it”. Ditto for Medicare.
Be Carefle Out There: Gas station restrooms are often less than attractive, but the handle on the gas pump is one of the unhealthiest things you can touch.
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:15 AM
Friday, September 23, 2016
Patriot or terrorist? Depends on where you're standing.
Dinner's Getting Cold: Mr. Obama has gotten his revenge on the rude Mr. Netanyahu, while generously giving Israel $38 billion in military aid over the next ten years. But Israel lost the ability to spend 25% of that sum domestically, instead it will all go to American arms manufacturers. Plus Israel had to disavow AIPAC and to promise not to lobby for more money from the US Congress or to accept any increase even if Congress awards it unasked. Rather sets the US Congress free from the Israel lobby for the first time in 65 years.
Tensely: President Obama has warned that if global warming is not rapidly curtailed the world will face “mass migrations.” I guess he hasn't talked to Angela lately.
Corrected Version: The financial services industry claims that setting them free on the unbanked masses in developing nations would make the masses $3.7 trillion richer. The $3.7 trillion is a guess and that's before the banks get through fleecing their new marks.
Wise, Word To: Edward Snowden, who's been right once or twice before, warns that you should not – under any condition whatsoever – use Google Allo.
Popeye World: Eight years after Wall Street collapsed the world economy into the Great Recession, little has changed and economic performance is so persistently tepid that mediocre is as good as it gets. Seems the Fed didn't know its own strength – kept over-estimating its magic abilities.
If Only: In Bombay an Indian High Court ruled that a woman has “sole right over her own body” and should be allowed to end a pregnancy even when there is no risk.
Quoted: “Terrorism is a nearly nonexistent danger for Americans. You have a greater chance of being hit by lightning, but fear doesn’t work that way. There’s no 24/7 coverage of global lightning strikes or “if you see something, say something” signs that encourage you to report thunderstorms.”
More Of The Same: The Pentagon wants to send 500 more troops to Iraq to continue their decade-long PTSD experiment.
Enlightened Self-Interest: The EU backs President Obama's intention to veto legislation that would allow survivors and families of the Saudi-planned-and-financed 9/11 disaster to sue the Saudis for damages. No, they're not trying to protect Saudi Arabia, they are all too aware of the crimes against civilians that they have committed in the last few years at US behest, plus a few centuries of various depredations in the name of empire around the world. They cite the applicable part of 'international law' in this matter which says “Tough.”
Revisionism: Turkey has announced that it will not take part in a joint military operation to retake Raqqa from ISIS if Kurdish militia are part of the force. In the Middle East it is quite possible that the enemy of my enemy is my enemy.
Self-Hoisting Petard: Is Shareholder Value Maximization the Dumbest Idea in the World?
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:26 AM
Thursday, September 22, 2016
You don't need a god to know when you have sinned.
Precision: The mistaken US-led coalition bombing of a Syrian military position Saturday is being excused by US spokesmen, claiming that it “may have happened because the personnel weren't wearing military uniforms.” Nice to know what the targeting criterion is.
Hold The Fries: While at one point during the Recent Unpleasantness about half of recent college grads were underemployed, fewer than 10% of them actually worked as baristas. They were often employed in jobs that did not require a degree, but made more at them than non-degreed stiffs. Liberal arts grads were three times as likely to be underemployed than chemical engineers and biologists.
Fine Point: Paul Krugman is urging us to “vote as if it matters.” As if.
Asked & Answered: “What Have We Learned From The Crisis?” Well, if 'the crisis' is the Recent Economic Disaster and the 'we' are the economists, then the answer is: Not much, mostly what doesn't work to wrest the economy away from Wall Street and get it started again.
Place Your Bets: Obama says that Israel cannot “permanently occupy, settle Palestinian land.” Define 'permanently'.
Ratchet: Russia is sending an aircraft carrier to Syria,
protect Aleppo from UN humanitarian convoys.
Actually, the US – which has AWACS and satellites glued to Syrian
airspace – says it doesn't know whose aircraft bombed the destroyed
convoy, but that's not really believable.
Words for the day: 'Incentivised reviews' As in “I got paid to praise.... on Amazon.”
Partnership: A pair of bipartisan bills are marching through Congress, pretending to block a $1.15 billion sale of US tanks to Saudi Arabia. The sponsors citing concern about
paucity of Saudi contributions to their PACs
the number of civilians killed in Yemen b y
US munitions and equipment.
Edited: Banking Has Become a Criminal Enterprise
the US . And
we're not too sure about the tense, either.
Writing Prompt: A single F-35A fighter jet – which cannot do most of the things it was supposed to do and all of which are now grounded because of more design flaws – costs more than it would to send 3,300 kids to college this year. What does this say about values?
Enigma: Scientists have announced they have, at long last, figured out why Tardigrades are so infernally indestructible. Have you figured out what a Tardigrade is? Hey, it might be important!
Excuses: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that black men may have a legitimate reason to flee the police. Fear of killed, for example.
Noted: Even with the new and improved and much higher premiums for Obamacare, they are, on average, still lower than employer-sponsored health insurance plans.
Spontaneous Combustion: The top tier of executives at Wells Fargo, all of whom are 'deeply sorry' for all the theft and fraud, are being urged to resign before they have to give back their bonuses and give up their golden parachutes.
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:57 AM
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Hope is a soporific.
Dark, Whistling In The: “A United Nations independent expert today called on States and Parliaments to ensure that all future trade agreements stipulate the primacy of human rights and to align existing treaties with the duty of States to fulfill binding human rights treaties and meet environmental and health goals”
Takes One to Know One: Convicted insider trader Martha Stewart says ‘I’m voting for Hillary Clinton'.
Blow The Bugles! The UN General Assembly has convened the first-ever summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. Since this is an assembly essentially identical to the people who have done so well with CO2 emissions, Human Rights, Global Warming and Peace In Our Time, confidence is high that a strongly worded proclamation will soon appear.
Precisely: A couple of days after accidentally killing 80 of Assad's soldiers during a cease fire, a US airstrike has killed eight Afghan policemen. Another airstirke in Syria, this one apparently by the Russians, has destroyed a UN food and medicine relief convoy that was headed for refugees west of Aleppo.
Creaming The Crop: Turkey is blocking Syrian refugees with college degrees from being resettled in the US.
Balking In North Dakota: The Death of the Great Bakken Oil Field has begun. Just a few years ago, the United States was on its way to “Energy Independence.”` thanks mainly to fracking, and particularly to fracking in North Dakota's Bakken Play and the Eagle Ford play in Texas. We've been led to believe that the frackers would produce massive flows of cheap oil thanks to tecnology and entrepreneurial expertise and God's love of Americans and their automobiles. Production from the Bakken is down 25% from its peak, headed down the far side of the bell curve to bankruptcy. Production from Eagle Ford is already down 40%. Plus it seems entirely possible that the shale producers have not made a penny from all the hithering and yoning and earthquakes. And wait till they have to settle the lawsuits...
Quoted: If you don’t give a damn about children and grandchildren, then of course there’s less to worry about.
Ingrates: After winning a Pulitzer Prize for their detailed reporting of the secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden, the Washington Post is demanding he be prosecuted for providing them with secret NSA documents. Nope; he should be pardoned and lionized.
Head Start: An Egyptian court has sentenced a 3 year-old to 4 years in prison for resisting arrest.
Cruise News: The Navy's newest littoral combat ship (LCS) suffered two two catastrophic engine failures in three days, forcing it to abandon its planned voyage and limp towards Florida. This is the third LCS to suffer “significant engine problems” in the last three weeks and the fifth in the last year. The LCS go for $480 million a copy – although 'go' seems not quite the right word. The entire class has been recalled to port.
Homesick: Archaeologists from Denmark’s Museum Silkeborg have found a 3,000 year-old cooking pot with the remains of supper still burnt onto the bottom - a failed attempt at making cheese.
Place Your Bets: An expedition to study effects of microplastics on the smallest creatures in the oceans, the tiny zooplankton that form the base of the aquatic food chain, will soon set sail. Guess what they'll find. Guess what good it will do.
This, Just In: Hundreds of Buddhist nuns trained in Kung Fu are biking through the Himalayas to oppose human trafficking
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:31 AM
Monday, September 19, 2016
We are far more careful with our money than with our children.
Slip Sliding Away: Conventional wisdom claims that it is bad for the incumbent's party if the economy weakens in the run-up to the election. Not to rain on anyone's parade, but we have declining average weekly earnings, declining auto sales, domestic business investment is in the tank and even the stock market is unimpressed with the Fed's hemming and hawing.
One More: An unarmed black man whose car had stalled in traffic was killed by Tulsa police.
Old News: The Trump camp brags that occasional outbreaks of violence against members of the press or protesters adds 'excitement' to the rallies and besides, they note, violence at Trump's rallies is no longer ‘newsworthy’.
Vive la France: France has banned plastic cups , plates and other eating utensils. When I was last in Paris I saw four street people huddled in a doorway, sharing a bottle of wine... with mismatched but glass wine glasses. And the free meals served in the evening in Place de la République were served from three different areas, one for each course.
Business As Usual: Not only are House Republicans blocking any investigation into Exxon's decade of funding climate change denial groups while knowing full well that CO2 would kill us all one day, but they are also preventing any federal funds from being spent to address the Zika epidemic for fear a few bucks might go to Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico.
Possibly True: One way to view the circus is that Trump is the symptom, Clinton the cause.
Foggy War: During the US sponsored cease fire, the US has bombed Syrian government troops – killing 80 by accident it says. Meanwhile US-sponsored Syrian militiamen of the 'Free Syrian Army' chased US Special Forces troops out of the town of al-Ray calling them 'pigs' and 'crusaders'. Then there are the 250 US SF troops fighting with the leftist Kurds, who are under attack by US ally Turkey....
Amber Alert: A continental census has found that about 1.5 billion birds are missing from North America, and that 86 separate species of birds are endangered by habitat destruction and the effects of climate change.
Porn O'Graph: You ain't seen – or felt – nothin' yet.
A Parting Shot:
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 7:22 AM