Tuesday, April 30, 2013

SAR #13120

Just because something sounds good does not mean it is true.

Offensive Defense: In 2012, the US spent $682 billion on defense, out spending everyone else combined: China $166 billion, Russia $92 billion, UK $60 billion and so on. Some tens of millions of that went to Hamid Karzai – in backpacks and shopping bags. Some of the UK money went to him, too. And that's on top of the $4.5 billion we know was first shipped to Afghanistan in 2011 and then spirited out of the country by Karsai's compatriots. The White House and CIA had no comment. No one has asked the cancer victims who can no longer get their treatments because of the sequestration what they thought of this investment in good government. Why is it we can afford to bribe Karzai but can't keep our pre-school programs funded?

Happy Days: Exxon, not happy to be fall behind in the race to destroy life on earth, has begun production at its Kearl oil sands mine in northeastern Alberta. It expects to produce 110,000 barrels of whatever you call that stuff, on its way to producing 4.6 billion barrels of “recoverable oil” over the next 40 years.

Perspective: You are nearly 6,000 times more likely to die from a medical error than from terrorism. Your prescription drugs are the most likely source of injury. If you must obsess, obsess about the right things.

All Over But The Jeering: By mid-May, CO2 measurements from Mauna Loa are likely to reach 400 ppm (they're 399.72 now...). Atmospheric CO2 concentration will pass 450ppm in a few decades – up from the pre-industrial 280 ppm. The increase is nearly completely due to our continued burning of coal, gas and petroleum. The last time CO2 levels were this high was about 5 million years ago. No global agreement to reduce emissions is expected to even be reached until 2015, to take effect in 2020 – and there is no reason in past experience to suggest that any agreement will actually be honored. So the next time someone blathers about keeping global warming to 2ºC,don't believe them. Scientists have argued that atmospheric CO2 levels must be reduced to 350 ppm to prevent disruptive climate change, but no one knows how to do that. Unless we shut down the power plants and the cars, we are headed for 4ºC by about 2075. We probably won't be around to see if it makes a 6ºC rise by 2100. It hardly matters, because the temperature will keep rising for a few hundred years, as will the oceans as all the ice melts. Have a nice day, recycle something.

The Price Is Right: We routinely spend far more to rescue people after a disaster than we would be willing to spend to prevent the disaster. Why?

Anti-Science At Large: Lamar Smith (R-TX) wants to do away with science, but can't do so at one fell swoop, so he's starting by trying to abolish peer-review for NSF grants and to prohibit any study that would attempt to replicate previously published research. Translated, this is an attempt to get junk science (or theology) published by the NSF, after which it could not be challenged by NSF-funded scientists.

For Extra Credit: Why is Bush not on trial for war crimes? And Cheney? And the rest?

Slip Sliding Away: Alfredo Saenz, head of Spain's Banco Santander, has resigned and taken €87 million into retirement with him, just ahead of being banned from banking for life. He needs the money because it's pretty tough to get a job in depression-era Spain, what with 27% unemployment. Shame? No, he's a banker, they know no shame.

Republican Plan: “Relentlessly pretend to be an ignorant simpleton.” Pretend? Maybe, maybe not. Whatever works. Either way, our political parties have fundamentally different visions of what kind of country we should have – it's the great majority of Americans vs. the Republicans.

Porn O'Graph: Where the Btu's are.

The Parting Shot:


“There is grandeur in this view of life..”

Monday, April 29, 2013

SAR #13118

Despite appearances, there has been no net increase in craziness.

"Overstepping The Moral Bounds" : On Wednesday, April 24, a garment factory that employed almost three thousand workers collapsed. At least three hundred workers died, perhaps 1,000 and over 2,000 were injured. The death toll in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City of 1911 was one hundred and forty six. The Triangle fire was a turning point in US labor conditions. Don't hold your breath.

High Society: In converting Afghanistan to an American-stlye democracy, the CIA has been secretly giving Hamid Karzai tens of millions of dollars "each month for over a decade." Obviously, the CIA had watched K-Street lobbyists an copied the way it was done in DC. The difference is that all those suitcases, backpacks and garbage bags full of cash has not done the a bit of good in Kabul...

Prayer For Peace: “The real area of consensus: We could, and should, do more now, and we could, and should, couple that with policies that reduce deficits in the medium and, more to the point, long term.” Ezra Klein. Quod erat demonstrandum. Too bad it is not politically possible.

Operation Iraqi Fiefdom: In Iraq, politicians are acknowledging that the country may split into at least three partitions; the central and southern Shia dominated area, a Sunni controlled area to the North and West, and an independent Kurdish enclave from around Kirkuk to the Turkish and Iranian borders. In an attempt to calm unrest the government has “suspended” 10 satellite channels. What did you do in the war, Dubya?

Sad But True: Congress is more concerned about airport delays than dead kids.

Unenlightened Selfish Interest: Saudi Arabia wants all mention of climate change deleted from the UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Fellow oil producers Venezuela and the UAE called for discussions of climate change to be separated from those on energy, because everybody knows that burning fossil fuels is in no way connected to producing the CO2 that leads to global warming. Well, almost everybody; Jim Hansen can't seem to drop the idea.

All Politics Is Local: Budget deficit hawk Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is keeping the nomination of Ernest Moniz to be Secretary of Energy from coming to a vote because the good senator wants funding cuts for a SC nuclear processing plant restored.

Clarification: For the last decade, the rate of heat build-up on Earth “is equivalent to detonating about 4 Hiroshima atomic bombs per second.” Read that again, slowly.

Playing Chicken: Sequestration was supposed to be so painful that both sides would work towards a deal on taxes and spending. How is that going to happen when the Democrats cave in at the first hurdle? If the programs that coddle the wealthy and politically connected are exempted, the Republicans win. If cuts to the programs that serve the poor and politically powerless continue, the Republicans win. No guts, no glory, and the Democrats have neither.

Separate But Unequal: Republicans in the Iowa state House intend to cut the pay of state Supreme Court Justices by around 80 percent — but only for the ones who voted to legalize same sex marriage in 2009.

Correction: Hopefully, Brit Hume forgot to put 'not' in his observation that : “The country may be ready for another Bush.” Neither the country nor the world need endure another one of them.

Porn O'Graph: Sweating the smaller stuff.

The Parting Shot:


Virginia Bluebell. Mertensia virginica

Saturday, April 27, 2013

SAR #13117

Running out of fossil fuel is not the worst thing that could happen; not running out is.

Squeaky Big Wheels: Congress quickly discovered that transferring money from The Transportation Department's capital budget to pay air traffic controllers salaries was essential for the safety of their jobs. They were quick to point out that the sequester was not supposed to inconvenience any of the rich or moderately rich folks, just the poor people who don't fly around the country because they don't have jobs or homes or health care or... So much for the shared pain of budgetary restraint. Except for on cancer patients, disabled veterans, and seniors.

Some Numbers:Annualized GDP for 1Q2013 was up 2.5%, but inflation was running at 1.2% which takes quite a bit of the luster off the numbers. Consumer spending on services was up, while their spending on goods was down. Disposable income was down and personal savings fell 2.6%. Rah, rah, boom-di-yea.

Kinder, Gentler: Republican state senators in Washington have filed a bill that would legalize business discrimination against LGBT individuals, if the business owner pretends to have a religious or philosophical problem with the idea of equality.

Headline Only: 'Milk Smugglers Top Heroin Courier Arrests in Hong Kong'

Letter From Homes: One out of every five households in the United States is on food stamps. Over 47 million people are enrolled in the program, the cost for which has doubled in the last three years as The RecoveryTM picked up steam plodded along.

Revival: The Blackstone Group has spent more than $100 million to buy 1,400 properties in Atlanta - the biggest bulk purchase for the homes-for-lease industry. So far it has spent over $4 billion on 24,000 houses, which pretty much accounts for the famous real estate revival.

Sell, Sell, Smell: JPMorgan accounted for 99.3% of physical gold sales at COMEX during the last three months. While Goldman Sachs bad-mouthed gold, it did not sell any of its holdings. Who's right?

Joke, Right? Some yahoo is complaining that the weak first-quarter GDP results are due to the over-regulation of businesses. Try standing in downtown West in business friendly and regulation shy Texas and saying that.

Ambush Assembly: A high school in Flowood, MS has held 3 mandatory assemblies this month, with teachers guarding the doors to make sure no students escaped viewing a Christian evangelical video and listening to preachers tell them they would have to sacrifice animals if they didn't accept Jesus, because God really, really wants the blood of innocents. The assemblies ended with a prayer. The school is going to end up with lawsuits.

The Parting Shot:


Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Arisaema triphyllum

Friday, April 26, 2013

SAR #13116

The future's not what it used to be; it never was.

Personal Use Only: The White House has confirmed “with various degrees of confidence” that chemical weapons have been used “on a small scale” in Syria. But they didn't inhale.

Yawn: Unemployment in Spain continues to climb, reaching 27.2% of the workforce. In the under 25 sector, unemployment is well over 50%. Next door in 'healthy' France there are more than 4.7 million unemployed – higher than the previous record set in 1997. But help is on the way: The IMF has (now, finally after a couple of decades) seen the light and now believes that austerity is bad and should be discarded before “public acquiescence” evaporates.

Testing, Testing: Ha, turns out that 'the suspect' stopped talking once he was read the Miranda warning. Also turns out that he was unarmed when he hid in the boat and all the cops in New England took a few shots at him.

The Price Of Progress: In the last 7 years, as many as 2,600 "human guinea pigs" Indian volunteers have died during drug trials run by Bayer, Novartis and the rest. Another 12,000 suffered “serious adverse events”. They have to get the data for those fine print warnings somewhere. Only 17 of 475 drugs tested ended up being approved for marketing.

Half Right: Barbara Bush said there have been enough Bushes in the White House. Actually, Barbara, there's been at least one too many.

One For The Good Guys: The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency actually has the authority to protect the environment. At least sometimes. The industry lost no time in descending on Congress demanding they take this “overreach” away from executive agencies before another profit margin is hurt.

Mission Accomplices: Across Iraq, armed clashes between Sunni partisans and the Shiite-dominated government are increasing and it seems likely the country will spiral into anther civil war.

Trendsetting: Since 2000, more than 11.5 million Americans have lost their employer-provided health insurance.

Re-Runs: Almost all the Clinton-era officials who lay the groundwork that led to the reckless lending of the mortgage boom that became the financial disaster have been hired back by the Obama administration. To do what? Why, to find ways of spurring the "democratization of credit" to "under-served groups," as a way of extending "affordable housing" to those who cannot afford housing.

The Tax-Man Skippeth: The tax loophole for executive stock options allowed the seniors at Fortune 500 companies to avoid paying $11.2 billion in income taxes in 2012. They're worth it, right?

On The Trail: Marco Rubio (Presidential Wannabe-FL) says he is “open” to halting all student visas for students from Muslim countries as a reaction to this month’s bombings in Boston by two Americans. Actually, Rubio is open to anything that will get him air time.

The Parting Shot:


On the straight and narrow.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

SAR #13115

After we’ve all become mindlessly stupid, who will notice?

Economic Schizophrenia: There has been a growing drumroll of disappointing economic reports from around the world – weak manufacturing from the US to Europe and Asia, a drop in new orders, and the beginning of the sequester-inspired decline in the consumer sector. So naturally, stock markets are booming. Confused? Don't be. The spectator class is sure the world's central banks will print another bunch of money which will push up the markets. You didn't think it was about reality did you?

Mob Rule: NYC Mayor Bloomberg says we will “have to change” the interpretation of the Constitution because of the Boston bombings. What, pray tell, is left of it to interpret?

The Way We Are: GOP either didn't read the legislation mandating the sequestration of funds, or is being deliberately mendacious (or, of course, both) in railing at the Administration for following the demands of congress. The sequestration's effects on government operations have long been predicted, will become more and more prominent, and will point out to more and more voters that the Republican plan to shrink the government is a rotten idea.

Fried: Americans care more about 'strengthening the economy, jobs, terrorism, and Social Security than they do about the poor and needy or about dealing with global warming. Say 'goodnight', Gracie.

Follow The Bouncing Ball: Back in 2002, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) came up with the "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act" which has been spreading slowly around the country. Now six states have made taking pictures of the disgusting conditions on factory farms "an act of terrorism”. They do not want customers to know how their food is obtained, no more than Monsanto wants customers to know what's in their food. Don't worry, it's not Soylent Green. Not yet.

Echo: Between 2009 and 2011, the richest 7% of Americans – those with a net worth over $800,000 – saw a 30% increase in their pile of loot. Average Americans fell 4%. That's called The Recovery(TM). No, it's not news; I just don't want you to forget what they are doing to us.

Can We All Get Along? Researchers have discovered that coral groupers, moray eels, and Napoleon wrasse cooperate in getting supper on the table.

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't: The ECB, faced with proof that the intellectual basis for austerity is no more sound than the austerity measures they had foiste4d on the Club Med peasantry, has concluded that they had completely screwed things up and that stopping austerity at this point wouldn't help – even if it had “reached its natural limits of popular support” (sic). So lean on those oars, or else.

The Missing: We have reached a point where we can see where this road intends to take us. The agenda is a complete and total deconstruction of society and of the world we once knew. In the new America, if the government pretends it can’t see you, you’re not there. Over a million men over 20 have been statistically disappeared. Erased a million, just like that. Sent them to join the other 36 million invisible citizens who are no longer counted. Poof. Gone. A waste product to be flushed down the economic drain. Rather than fix the economy, they just said they fixed the economy. They've made it fashionable, patriotic, for Americans to hate other Americans: we're told our enemies are school teachers, municipal workers, postal workers, union workers and the poor. Especially the poor. It isn’t the clicking jack boots, brass bands or flag-waving displays that make up a fascist state. It isn’t the pointless wars or the corruption of the legal system. It is the abandonment of the people, by the people, to the cheers of the people, as government protects itself from the people. They are building a prison without walls, where to love your country you must hate your government.

Porn O'Graph: Us vs. Them

The Parting Shot:


False garlic Nothoscordum bivalve.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SAR #13114

Does anyone at the IMF, ECB, or EU have the faintest idea of what they are doing?

Nickel and Dimed: It was bad enough when Obama decided to defraud retirees via Chained CPI. Turns out he also snuck it into his budget in a way that will progressively increase the taxes on the middle class. And all to save maybe $200 billion over ten years – not even enough to buy all the helicopters without transmissions the Pentagon wants.

Shocks and Blonds: European stock markets are up because German PMI results were so terrible investors are sure the ECB will step in and rescue everyone. The same logic pushed up NY markets after Caterpillar’s disappointing quarterly results.

Restrained Enthusiasm: New home sales for March were reported as 417,000 SAAR, an increase over February's 411,000 and greeted as proof of life. Let's see, 50 states, about 63 counties per state, 52 weeks a year – wow! That's a bit over 2 new houses a week in your general neighborhood! A boom, a boom!

Perspective: In explaining why his agency does not plan to expand inspections in the wake of the explosion in West, the Chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality explained that “They don’t explode very often.” Meanwhile Governor Goodhair was in Chicago, using the explosion in West to illustrate how regulation free and business friendly Texas is. And the two-faced Gov. Perry, who as a candidate promised to disband FEMA, is demanding that FEMA get to West pronto and bring lots of money with it.

The Question: Why is Boston ‘terrorism’ but not Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine?

Majority Rues: Colin Powell's number two at State, Col.l Lawrence Wilkerson, has said - in a sworn declaration – that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld all knew that “the vast majority” of detainees described repeatedly as “the worst of the worst” were in fact innocent, but refused to release them because it would have looked bad. Worse for US prestige than Guantanamo has been?

Bed Arrest: Hospitals (specifically one in Iowa, but the practice is practiced) have been known to act as an informal arm of ICE and quickly put injured immigrants on planes and ship them to their countries of origin for treatment. This has happened to at least 600 people in the last five years – at least some of whom had valid US health insurance that would have covered their treatment.

Exhibit One: Cluelessness: Senior British MPs want the Prime Minister to strip Google's CEO of his position as a government adviser after he insisted that Google's contribution to the British economy relieved it of the mundane responsibility of paying taxes. He didn't quite say he'd take his ball and go home if he didn't get his way, but that was implied. Someone should call his bluff.

The Situation So Far: Americans are, slowly but surely, becoming more liberal. American state legislators are not. Why? Because the far right is better financed and far more fanatical. Mostly it is about money – their masters have it and are willing to spend some of it to get lots more. That women, unions, teachers, retirees, and poor children suffer along the way is unfortunate but unavoidable – especially if the left doesn't get its act together pretty damned soon.

As We Thought: "Luck—not hard work—is overwhelmingly why the rich are rich... differences in income due to inequality of opportunity dwarf those from inequality of effort or talent." Well, yes. Being born a white male to wealthy, politically connected parents is a good career move, too.

The Parting Shot:


The march of the May Apples.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

SAR #13113

Read the fine print; in economics there are no guarantees.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch: Following the bombings in Boston where 3 died and 170 were wounded, hundreds of investigators and government officials are working to determine what went wrong and what lessons can be learned to prevent reoccurrances. Following the blast in West, Texas that killed 14 and injured hundreds, Federal agencies are "reviewing their inspection practices." Or non-practices; it had been 28 years since OSHA had last inspected the plant. Other state and federal agencies which were aware of the hazards the plant presented had done nothing, and most likely will do nothing going forward. Proportion? We don't need no stinking sense of proportion...

Tea Leaves: In NYC last year, deaths at construction sites more than trippled, and about 75% of those deaths were at non-union sites.

Signs Of Life: Now that the intellectual underpinnings for austerity as a cure-all have been destroyed, some of the EU's leadership is beginning to understand that the public is not in any mood to accept more austerity measures; in Spain the population is falling because the population is fleeing, and in Greece the hoodlums and neo-Nazi's are taking over. Even the IMF (which has long prescribed austerity as a cure-all) is now trying to get leaders like Britain's PM to abandon planned cuts.

18 1/2 Minutes: Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of computerized redistricting files that Wisconsin Republicans had been ordered to turn over to Democrats for review have been... deleted.

Fairness Doctrine: Retailers like Amazon and eBay have apparently not contributed enough to political campaigns lately; the White House and Senate are backing a bill to force internet retailers to collect state and local sales taxes based on delivery addresses. Putting them on an even footing with local retailers is the stated intent, raising more taxes for the states and local communities is the actual agenda. It is hard to make an argument that such sales should ever have been tax-exempt.

Inalienable, Right? The power industry is asking the Supremes to tell the EPA to leave them alone and let them get on with polluting the country's water and air in the pursuit of profits as God intended.

Keeping Score: Since Dr. James Hansen first warned congress about global warming in 1988, not a single month’s temperatures have fallen below the 20th-century average for that month. Half the world’s population is now too young to have lived through the last colder-than-average month.

Numbers Are Numbers: The government is going to change the way GDP is calculated in ways that will boost apparent GDP by 3%. Another reminder that much of economic planning and theorizing is based on bad (or manipulated) data poorly understood.

Explanation: Patriots are fighting to keep their second amendment rights because “the 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line.”

Without Comment: “Detroit police have been accused of ‘kidnapping’ homeless people and leaving them outside city limits.”

Be Prepared: According to global experts and the US intelligence community (often mistakenly thought to be the same things), we are beginning to experience a global scarcity of vital resources (energy, water, land, food, and critical minerals) and the onset of extreme climate change, which, together, will produce a tidal wave of unrest, rebellion, competition, and conflict.  Expect wars over access to water, global food riots, mass migrations (with resulting anti-migrant violence), the breakdown of social order and the collapse of states. Then things will turn ugly.

Porn O'Graph: Pity the overtaxed businessmen.

The Parting Shot:


The real recovery is Spring.

Monday, April 22, 2013

SAR #13112

We are constantly figuring out new ways to bring on the apocalypse.

Debate? What Debate? When we decide that the accused is not worthy of his civil rights because he is a terrorist who planted a bomb that killed and maimed, we have already convicted him. What do they plan to do, waterboard him and then read him his rights? It's a rush to judgment, and an embarrassment to those few in this country who still cling to the idea of justice.

Lockstep: The über conservative Koch brothers are said to be intent on buying The LA Times , The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and The Orlando Sentinel, as well as smaller newspapers that operate in key battleground states for presidential elections, building a print version of Fox, another arm of the right's propaganda machine. This is a far greater threat to our democracy than a couple of bombs in Boston.

Quoted: “The events of the past week in Boston do not vindicate the rise of the Homeland Security bureaucracy and certainly do not vindicate the stripping of our liberties, the shutting down of a major city, or the instantiation of a police state. But they certainly affirm the future as it was perceived by Orwell.”

Dissembling: It's true, climate scientists are misrepresenting their data; they are understating the dangers. “It is difficult to envisage anything other than a deliberately planned economic recession being compatible with 2°C, 3°C and increasingly 4°C futures.” It seems we are going to hell in a handcart – and fast!

Spade, Spade: Americans are already the most spied upon people in history. And following Boston it will become even more-so, and gladly, as politicians and the security state use the drama to enlarge their intrusion into our daily lives.

Briefly: Low defense spending is killing America, we need a new war. A dramatic 15% drop in government spending has dragged the economy to a near standstill. Defense outlays were cut 22.2%. WWII got us out of the Great Depression, and think where we'd be today without the Iraq/Afghan War. America needs a new war or capitalism dies, and Syria's just not big enough, thus the saber rattling over Iran and North Korea. Its our patriotic duty to attack someone, soon.

Asked & Answered: “How much should we trust economics?” How much you got?

Europe in Briefs: European leaders have too much ego and too much of their power and prestige tied up with the success (sic) of the euro to ever admit that it has been a failure. Even after it collapses its backers will insist that it was Europe and the Europeans who failed and not the euro. The euro has always been a disaster waiting to happen, and the austerity being enforced in a failing attempt to stop the inevitable will give birth to social unrest, which will give rise to pressure to leave the euro, which eventually will happen – probably as suddenly as the collapse of the Soviet Union, if not even more precipitously and most likely with greater social upheaval.

Asked: Why does America lose its head over 'terror' but ignore its daily gun deaths?

Down & Down It Goes: The federal deficit continues to shrink; revenues are higher than expected, spending lower. Estimates for the FY2013 deficit have dropped from $900 billion (5.6% of GDP) to $775 billion, dropping to $475 billion (2.7% of GDP) in FY2015. Now if we can keep the zealots from imposing even more unnecessary austerity and do something about the real problem - unemployment.

Classy: If you want to improve your financial acumen, don't take personal finance classes, study math.

All Clear: Sure you've lost a third of your assets in the commodity crash, but don't chicken out now – now's the time to jump into the market “because economic growth in China will keep driving demand for everything from oil to metals,” says a broker who makes a living selling you stuff... His message is in your inbox, addressed to Bigger Fool.

Porn O'Graph: Overcoming the blues.

The Parting Shot:


Senecio glabellus. Butterweed.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

SAR #13110

The purpose of life is to get laid; which explains why we start out as optimists and end as pessimists.

Münchhausen's by Proxy: The full panoply of the American Security State was on display Thursday and Friday in Boston and environs. Confusion, and not a little incompetence, reigned – and not only in the media. Mass transit was shut down and the citizenry banned from the streets [at a cost of between $300 million and a billion dollars!]. Sense of proportion? Some 9,000 kevlar-wearing heavily armed police ordered people to stay indoors, then went door to door looking for the suspect. A teenager. You can bet that squirrelly young men around the country were taking notes. Senator Lindsey Graham (Anti-gun controller – SC) epitomized the instantaneous abandonment of the Old America, demanding that the suspect be held as an enemy combatant with no Miranda rights. Tsarnaev is an American citizen on American soil so maybe it'd be better if he was just droned. How many of our tattered freedoms will be burned on this pyre?

Parts Is Parts: The Army has taken delivery, at about $45 million a copy, of seven new AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters with snazzy new technology covering flight performance, electronic sensors and the ability to control drones. Transmissions are apparently optional.

Harvest: More than 800 cases of measles have been confirmed in Wales in the last month, including one death. Between 1996 and 2002 there were only 8 cases; last year the number jumped to 116. The outbreak is thought to be the direct result of parents refusing to have their children vaccinated – based on ill-informed paranoia stemming from long-since discredited research published in the late 1990's.

Kudos: SAR has been chosen by the staff of SAR to be the recipient of today's Lundberg Self-Recognition Award for Excellence.

Spades: The United States used torture against detainees "in many instances ad across a wider range of theaters." In other words, an investigation by former high ranking State, Homeland Security, Defense, and FBI officials found that under Bush/Cheney torture was not "extraordinary" but routine and widespread. Finding that our use of torture had "no justification" and produced "no significant information of value", they concluded there was no justification to keep the details of rendition and torture from public. and that America still allows torture. Trials, what trials?

Excuses, Excuses: European leaders appear to have suddenly realized that their miracle cure – austerity all 'round – is neither a miracle nor a cure. Now they are suggesting that despite their best efforts “ the crisis and the crisis effects will remain a challenge over the next decade,” and that the “debt crisis will keep growth in Europe subdued for years to come.” Given the choice of continuing the current ineffective policy and letting the long recession become the next depression or printing money, they will print money. Lots of it.

Predictable: Senator Cruz (Cynical-TX) who voted against aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy three times because “cynical politicians” were “exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects”, wants Obama to send “all available” federal resources to his voters.

The Parting Shot:


Common blue violet, Viola sororia

Friday, April 19, 2013

SAR #13109

The truth about history is that there's little truth to most of it.

Quoted: “Senators say they fear the NRA and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.” Gabrielle Giffords.

Definitions: The troops being dispatched to Syria Jordan will be involved in “stability operations”. Y'know, like the 'stability operations' in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He's Heavy & He Ain't My Brother: The IMF, having forced more debt on Spain as part of the bailout it needed because it had too much debt, now warns that Spain's debt is “unsustainable." It finds that the country's inability to reduce its budget deficit is due, at least in part, to the austerity programs the country adopted at the IMF's insistence. The cure, they say, is “unprecedented fiscal efforts to bring their debt ratios to traditional norms," or, as they say in Greece – another IMF failure - more austerity.

Crime Pays: Of the 45 senators who scuttled America's desire to begin slowing the gun violence in the country, 42 of them have received money from firearms lobbyists.

Tattle-Tale: The IMF says that nearly 20% of non-bank corporate debt in the weaker eurozone economies is 'unsustainable' – for which read worthless. The banks, of course, get saved before the women and children.

Duck and Cover: On television BP continues to advertise how responsible it has been in cleaning up the gulf. In court it continues to argue that the other guy did it and tries to shift the blame—and cost—to its subcontractors. If Judge Barbier finds BP guilty of gross negligence, the fine escalates from $4.5 billion to $17 billion. If the responsibility is even partially attributed to the actions of Transocean, Halliburton and other subcontractors, then the gross negligence penalty goes way. Don't hold your breath, it'll be years and years before anyone pays a dime.

Real Deal: Small town America is not “the real America” - witness the way their Senators voted on gun control. The real America, the America where most of us live, looks pretty much like metropolitan Baltimore.

True Confession: "There’s certainly no consensus in academia, policy-making circles or among commentators over how the financial crisis arose, what the responses should be and what the consequences are for economics." They also don't know what quantitative easing does nor what it will do to us when it is terminated.

Asked & Asked: “Why is this global recovery different?” What recovery?

Perfect Pitch: “We kept hearing, again and again, that ninety per cent of the American people wanted us to vote a certain way,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) didn't say. “Well, at the end of the day, we decided that we weren’t going to cave in to that kind of special-interest group. If the American people think that just because they voted us into office and pay our salaries, benefits, and pensions, we are somehow obliged to listen to them, they are sorely mistaken.”

Porn O'Graph: On the street where you live.

The Parting Shot:


Thursday, April 18, 2013

SAR #13108

There is a small but important distinction between the return on capital and the return of capital.

Democracy Inaction: A watered-down law mandating background checks for all gun purchases passed the senate 54-46 but will not become law because Harry Reid died't have the guts to abolish minority rule.

Oops: In 2010, economists Reinhart and Rogoff published a paper proving that whenever a country's public-debt-to-GDP ratio exceeded 90%, the country's economic output plummeted. This formed the most frequently cited justification for the austerity inflicted on the Greeks, Portuguese, Spanish and Cypriots. And Americans. Too bad the study was seriously flawed and the data, when corrected, shows no such decline – in fact the GDP growth rate when the ratio is over 90 averages 2.2%. Unless austerity is imposed; then things go to hell in a handbasket. Note: R&R acknowledge that the data was corrupted, but maintain that they arrived at the right conclusions anyway. Forward, men.

A Lovely Day In The Recovery, Not: DOW -.0.9A%, S&P 500 -1.4%, NASAQ -1.8%, Gold -1.09%, WTI Oil -2.22%, 10-year Treasuries at 1.67% and Apple -5.3%. The DAX is at 4-month lows, European car sales fell 10% in March – making it 18 consecutive monthly declines - Germany car sales plummeted 17%, France's 16%.

Silent Auction: Philadelphia is having a closed door meeting with “investors” to discuss “building the city's future” by auctioning off the Liberty Bell, the city's gas works, the international airport and other assets. Some are complaining that the school system isn't on the auction block. Yet.

Not Even Close: The International Energy Agency's executive director says that “[T]he target of keeping the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius this century is slipping out of reach.” The folks over at the IEA need a new calendar – 2ºC slipped out of reach several years ago.

P. Gamble Wimpy: P&G says it will gladly lend you money so you can scrape by until they get around to paying their bills. They are nearly doubling the time they will take to pay suppliers, but are willing to set you up with their loan sharks. It is expected to 'free up' $2 billion for P&G at the expense of small companies who have no option but to suck it up.

Can't Win For Losing: The IMF, which has pushed austerity as a cure-all during the Current Unpleasantness, is now criticizing the patient for taking the medicine. They offer no particular rational for this about-face, but now see that austerity has prolonged suffering with little improvement in the economy. The IMF ought to declare intellectual bankruptcy.

No Comment: Two US drones slammed into either a Pakistani house or a Taliban training camp – opinions vary – killing at least five people, who either were or were not militants. US drone attacks have killed about 3,500 Pakistanis, at least 880 of them civilians, including nearly 200 children.

Keeping Score: Please explain what a CEO can possibly do that is worth more than 350 times what his employees are doing. And while you're at it, explain why the shareholders can't find someone who will do whatever it is for only 100 times the average workers pay.

Just the Toe: The US is sending its first 200 troops to Jordan “to boost the Jordanian armed forces in light of the deteriorating situation in Syria.” Either these guys are supermen, or this is just the beginning.

Partial Credit: New Hampshire's Peter Hansen (Reptile) seems to think it is cute to refer to women as 'vaginas' and defended this by pointing out that women do, in fact, have vaginas, the prick.

The Parting Shot:


Wild Hyacinth, Camassia sillodes

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

SAR #13107

Our economy, society, and our government are based on faith, mostly the blind kind.

Floridation: The US is refusing to accept Nicolas Madura's victory in Venezuela's presidential election unless the country does a complete recount of all the votes.

Cat's Away: PA Governor Tom Corbett (R) proposed privatizing the state's liquor stores and using the money from liquor licenses to fund the state's schools. Why this would be better than simply giving the profits from the state stores to the schools was a bit fuzzy, but it doesn't much matter. Corbet went on vacation and his GOP buddies have decided to go along with the privatization, but to use the money on roads.

The Human Spirit: Even after ten years of incarceration at the Guantanamo prison, at least 43 of the 166 remaining 'detainees' have enough self respect and inner strength to struggle against their captors.

By George, He Did It: A thorough, nonpartisan, two-year investigation headed by George Bush's undersecretary for Homeland Security has concluded that then President George Bush directed the CIA to “engage in conduct that is clearly torture,” which is a crime against humanity under International law. George says “I'm comfortable with what I did." He wasn't planning on extensive foreign travel anyway.

Call Me In The Morning: In 2010, the FDA raided Cetero Research in Houston based on insider allegations that it had been less than scrupulous in conducting drug trials. They were, with at least 4 years of drug trials being found to be essentially worthless. Nearly 100 prescription drugs had been approved for sale based on the tainted research. Why haven't you heard about this? Because the FDA views faking research as “confidential commercial information” which would give other research firms an unfair advantage if they learned Cetero's business secrets. As for Cetero, it has changed its name and left town, to continue its business in an undisclosed location.

For Whom The Gun Calls: Over 60% of US gun deaths are suicides; less than 1% are mass shootings. Which problem should get the attention?

Two Market, Two Market: Retailers are learning to survive in our divided economy by marketing ever more expensive items to the rich and progressively cheapened stuff to the rest of us. The shrinking of the middle class has forced companies to seek ways of pandering to the rich while plundering the poor.

Kiss Of Death: Employers prefer hiring someone with no relevant experience than an ideally qualified candidate who has been out of work for more than six months. There are now 4.7 million former workers who cannot even get their resumes read, who have become untouchable.

Priorities: Texas AG Greg Abbott (R) is sure that Obama and the Democrats are “far more dangerous” than North Korea's Kim Jong Un. He also thinks the UN is after our guns.

The Parting Shot:


Dodecatheon meadia. Shooting Star.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SAR #13106

Enemies have their uses. Tom Englehardt

Over Does It: Al Qaeda in New England has accepted responsibility for the bombing in Boston, claiming they had targeted two high-ranking US military officials and that the collateral deaths and injuries to civilians were unfortunate. The families of the deceased will be given 12,000 dinars as an expression of condolence. Meanwhile, Homeland Security is determining which of our few remaining shreds of privacy we will now have to surrender.

Over Various Dead Bodies: Now that Mubarak is no longer president, a court has ruled that he is no longer responsible for the protesters his government killed trying to keep him in power. No gain, no pain.

Behavioral Imprinting: What if, just maybe, the increase in bulling in schools simply reflects the increase in bullying seen at home. And in politics. And from our pulpits.

Calvinball: Republicans in Wisconsin – having had two courts rule their voter suppression efforts to be unconstitutional and the state supreme court refuse to intercede – plan to change the rules so that any state law invalidated by a circuit court would be automatically reinstated until an appeal works its way through the courts. Translation: We'll pass unconstitutional voter suppression bills, let the lower courts overturn them, appeal so we can enforce them during the election period and then drop the appeals.

Old Whine, Old Men: Pope Francis has confirmed Benedict XVI's censure of the largest group of nuns in the US for holding “radical feminist” rules. Progress isn't too progressive around St Peter's.

Cover Story: The reason(sic) that Obama wants to sell off TVA is not to remove the last vestiges of FDR (having already thrown Social Security in the dumpster), but because the bonds TVA issues for capital investment projects are counted as part of the national debt and this is a way to lower the national debt by a few billion dollars while rewarding Wall Street.

Recess: A new study reports that 'school reform' – specifically market-oriented education reform - doesn't improve test scores and that school closures neither saved money nor resulted in students being reassigned to better schools. What it does accomplish is to harm students, especially underprivileged students.

Bad News: Most people are unable to discriminate between 'news' and things that are actually relevant to their lives. Much 'news' is trivia that barely impacts our lives – the object is to distract and entertain, not to inform. That's why reading this blog daily is good for your mental health; we put 'news' in its place.

Straight Face And All: GOP Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, who believes liberals will use information gained during gun purchase background checks to slaughter gun owners, says that “Preying on the fears of the American citizenry is not good governance.”

Porn O'Graph: Another country.

The Parting Shot:


Rapeseed/Winter Canola

Monday, April 15, 2013

SAR #13105

'Reducing costs' sounds better than 'reducing consumption'.

Correlation/Causation/Confusion: Retail sales fell a bit, consumer confidence fell a bit, and oil – West Texas Intermediate – also fell. But if you step back a bit, oil rose and then... A bit of history: At $20 a barrel we had conventional oil, at $40 we got offshore oil, at $60 we began getting Canadian tar sands stuff. Shale oil debuted at $80. How much will we pay for whatever comes next and how will that affect retail sales and consumer confidence? Chicken, egg, or omelet?

Trendsetting: In the last 6 years, student debt has doubled; wages, not so much. Don't worry, the taxpayers are good for the $1.1 trillion.

Bait and switch: Why is Obama doing this? If his cuts stand, Social Security payments will fall, cumulatively and significantly. Yet nearly half of US workers have no other retirement plan. Another 30% pretend they'll be able to live on woefully inadequate 401(k)s, but they won't – if only because they are borrowing from them in ever increasing numbers. And for unfathomable reasons, unions are conspiring with companies to reduce the benefits guaranteed under existing defined benefit plans. How many of our elderly will have to suffer how many years of poverty and deprivation before we come to our senses?

Hook, Line and Sunken: Portugal cannot pay its debts, no matter how much it further impoverishes its people. Most of the money is alreaqdy gone and when they've shipped it all off to Brussels and Berlin they'll still be in debt. Ditto for Greece, Cyprus and Spain. Who's first and who's next?

The First Cut Wasn't The Deepest: Financial shamans from the G20 are advising, nay insisting, that the world's largest economies be bled until either they're better or they're dead. Dead seems more likely, as the gurus want 'fiscal adjustments' made to lower debt to 90 and then to 60% of GDP. US debt is now at 105% of GDP and is unlikely to survive the 'bold structural reforms' that are need. For which read austerity, austerity, austerity.

Observed: The runaway inflation that the deficit/debt/suffering is good for you crowd has been predicting for four or five years has not shown up – even though Ben keeps on printing. So, like Englishmen in foreign places, they simply repeat themselves, loudly.

Greyhound Therapy: Since 2008, at least one Nevada-based psychiatric hospital has been putting its patients on Greyhound and sending them out of state. Health care givers have long brought in dogs to comfort their patients. Putting the patients on The Dog and waving bye-bye is a unique and money-saving therapy. 'Money-saving' being the operant term.

Reading Assignment: Even though many economists, most politicians and large parts of the public believe that the economics is a science with laws and such, it is not. The so-called Laws of Economics do not exist.

Orwell Would Be Proud: The US Department of Justice (sic) has forced Oregon to supply it with the identification of patients legally receiving medical marijuana. The medical records will be used in lieu of confession or legally obtained evidence of wrongdoing.

Democracy In America: Because of the tremendous cost of running for Congress, the 50,000 to 150,000 citizens who contribute significant money to candidates get to decide which candidates make it to the primaries. Primaries are decided by just over half of the less than 20% of us who actually bother to vote in them. Then just over half the 60 or 65% of us who actually go to the polls select one of the two candidates the intransigent partisans selected for us in the primaries from among the handful of sycophants who groveled sufficiently for the rich to give them enough money to show up at the party primary. Ah, democratic choice.

Porn O'Graph: Something else Exxon doesn't want you to see.

The Parting Shot:


Saturday, April 13, 2013

SAR #13103

“There was no affordable private health insurance for 85-year-old Americans before Medicare was created. And there will be none when Medicare is swept away.” Simon Johnson

Right On Schedule: Fifteen minutes after Obama unveiled his 'gesture' to Republicans by making a well-known gesture to the seniors who voted for him and not those other guys, the Republicans repaid him by labeling it “a shocking attack on seniors,” which it is.

Asked & Answered: Is the concerted effort to cheapen Social Security related to the fact that for the last 30 years Congress has refused to raise enough money via taxes to pay for all their spending, forcing the Treasury to borrow about $3 trillion from the Social security Trust Fund and now that the Trust Fund (for which read retired citizens) want some of their money back, Congress hasn't got the guts to raise taxes enough to pay their debts?

Details: Surveys show that 66% of Republicans oppose gay marriage. The rest have gay children.

Ah, Spring: In recognition for their services to his regime – namely withholding anesthesia while operating on injured protesters – Egyptian President Morsi has promoted three senior generals. The attacks on injured demonstrators while they were in the hospital was not specifically cited at the promotion ceremony, nor were the over 800 deaths. The Egyptian defense minister said none of these claims are true.

Balloon Barrage: The Obama Administration “is considering the sale of all or part of the Tennessee Valley Authority” in order to placate some politically powerful interests to lower the national debt by $35 billion, leaving only $16,812,254,000,000 to raise at next week's garage sale.

Unclear on the Concept: Mumbling and staring at their shoes, 47 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus refused to pledge to “ vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits.” 'Progressive' doesn't seem to mean what it once did.

Small Comfort: Gold bugs are pointing out that gold hasn't taken as deep a dive as Apple.

Mutally Assured Destruction: Obama's proposed mutual destruction treaty does not include sufficient funding to continue the already inadequate federal food safety program, so slaughterhouse operators have stepped forward with a promise to behave. Never mind that they have a financial interest in cutting corners and a long record of not following existing rules, this time they promised us their promises were... promises. Can you spell Salmonella?

The Light Dawns: The IMF's Christine Lagarde has concluded that “ultra-low interest rates and purchases of government bonds may be shifting instability from banks to other parts of economy”. Ben gave her an A.

Inconvenient Facts: Of course it’s a benefit cut, a tax hike for everybody but the wealthy. It won't lower the deficit because Social Security does not affect the deficit, cannot, by law. It ends the charade that the Democratic Party has become and delivers the vote of retirees and those near retiring – who vote in larger percentages than younger Americans – to the Republicans. And, lastly, introducing the chained CPI is unnecessary because the deficit is already rapidly shrinking.

The Human Condition: American ignorance about the world and what's going on it is not a new phenomenon and did not start with Fox. Nor is it exclusively an American disease, it is the default position for any population. Which goes to explain much of history. If events do not present an immediate impact on our lives, most citizens in most countries simply do not pay much attention. Yes, pictures of starving children get a bit of fleeting attention, as do the shattered bodies of massacred school children – but only on the same level as a 14-car NASCAR pileup or tornado wreckage in another state. It also explains why we do not respond to unjust wars or the eventual effects of global warming. We were hardwired by evolution to worry about here and now. It's just as well; most societies would not hold together under prolonged critical examination.

Homiletics Text: World’s first successful uterus transplant recipient is pregnant via in vitro fertilization.

The Parting Shot:


Giant Chickweed

Friday, April 12, 2013

SAR #13102

"Chained CPI is just a fancy way to say cut benefits for seniors, the disabled, and orphans.” Elizabeth Warren

May I? The democratic process comes to this: It takes a 'yea' vote by 61 senators just to get the chance to actually discuss legislation – to do the people's business.

Imagine... Obama has again shown that he does not understand the process. Obama is willing to reduce or eliminate social insurance for many, if not quite yet most, people, to show his reasonableness. The Republicans will reject his budget out of hand, just to show they're serious. Republicans don’t want a compromise, they want to make most of America suffer for the benefit of the few. That's what will bring that smug look to their faces.

Pick A Number: The question was “How high should our top income tax rates be?” Higher. Much, much higher.

Perception: French borrowing costs are plunging, not because France's economy is picking up – it isn't – but because it has become obvious that the EU/ECB/IMF cannot let France go under. No France, no euro. Too big to fail and quite possibly too big to flail, so they'll just have to keep propping it up somehow. Thus the 'improvement' in the perceived soundness of French bonds.

Down The Up Staircase: The administration claims that chained CPI is a more accurate measure of the inflation experience of Americans because when we can't afford what we want, we buy something cheaper. Think about that for a moment: The government wants you to shop at Walmart, in the pet food aisle. But there is not a pet food version of housing or health care – and that's where a large share of the elderly's income goes. Research shows that the prices for the things the old folks buy increase about 0.2% faster than the CPI, while Chained CPI lags CPI by 0.3%. So using Chained CPI for Social Security is actually giving recipients 0.5% less than their experienced inflation. Party on.

Bait & Switch: The price of the Cypriot economic suicide is going to cost them another 6 billion euros, . And the ECB/EU/IMF are not going to chip in any more funds, so something's got to give. Well, in Cyprus 'give' isn't quite the word for it.

Exceptionalism: The Fed says that the crimes committed by the financial industry in defrauding millions of home owners are trade secrets, and that protecting the crooks and their modus operandi is more important than letting the public know the extent of the malfeasance. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency agreed and said that not even Congress should be told of the nature or extent of these financial crimes because the crooks were never going to stand trial.

Fine Print: Back in 2009 the IRS happily decided their agents could (and should) read your emails, text messages and other electronic communications without bothering to get warrants, because you don't really have an expectation of privacy - not from them.

Quantities of Quantitative Easing: While the real economy and the real people who live and work there continue to suffer, the stock markets are soaring to new highs, home sales are increasing as investors snap up houses to rent to their former owners, and Freddie booked $11 billion in profits, Fannie got $17 billion, the Fed booked $90 billion in profits, Apple made $41 billion and Google added $10 billion to the bottom line. US median household income dropped 1.5% and the economy still has a couple of million fewer jobs than when Bernanke got his job. Way to go Ben.

Message In A Bottle: Goldman Sachs would like you to know that, despite Obama's cowering in front of the GOP deficit hawks, “the federal budget deficit is shrinking rapidly.”

Republican Of The Day: Today's Best Buffoon award goes to OK's Senator Inhofe (who is far from okay), for his revelation that Al Gore, the UN, George Soros, MoveOn.org and Michael More got together and made up the global warming hoax.

The Parting Shot:



Thursday, April 11, 2013

SAR #13101

As you shake your head over the latest political stupidity by state level politicians, keep in mind two things: your state could be next, and these folks want to go to Washington.

Deja vu all over again: The administration wants to make mortgages more widely available by extending loans to those with weaker credit, so The RecoveryTM doesn't leave the poor behind, punish those with weak credit records (without actually uttering the words 'sub-prime lending'), or exempt young people from debt slavery that might enrich the banker class. Housing officials want banks indemnified by the federal government against legal and/or financial repercussions for making riskier loans. They also want “lenders to use more subjective judgment” in granting loans. File under 'short term memory loss.'

Mumble, Mumble: So Cyprus bowed to their masters in the EU/ECB/IMF and 'taxed' about 60 or 70 or 80% of bank deposits into gift wrapping for Brussels, in return for the needed bailout. So why are The Usual Villians forcing Cyprus to sell off 10 tons of its gold? Was the cupboard bare when they showed up to loot it? Is this forced sale the reason gold is dropping and Goldman telling everyone to avoid buying it (so they can gobble it up...)?

Progression: We are currently 3 million jobs below the pre-recession employment level. At 200,000 new jobs a month it will be over another year before we get back to where we started. Oh, wait; we're not even adding that many. Good thing the labor force is shrinking so we can fool ourselves a bit longer.

Dealing From The Bottom: After defrauding more than 4 million families through shady foreclosure processes (and document forgeries and lying to courts etc, etc.) 13 lenders – as part of a no-one-goes-to-jail agreement – are beginning to pay $300 to $500 to each wrongfully foreclosed homeowner as a way of saying 'Go away, kid, y'bothering me.'

Time Out!The EPA has notified its 17,000 employees that they be will getting four extra days off between April 21 and June 15. Without pay. To celebrate the sequestration.

Rose Garden Glasses: Obama's budget assumes the economy will grow 2.3% this year, marked down from a 2.7% estimate last July and 3.0% 14 months ago. It also assumes a housing recovery and a resurgent auto industry. Less cheerily, the administration assumes unemployment will remain at 7.7% - maybe they think there are no more folks who can afford to drop out of the labor force.

Methy, Very Methy: Before we fully discover what an economic Chimera fracking is, we're going to try a new experiment: mining gas from the seafloor. No, we have not considered the environmental risks and no, we have no idea how to make it profitable, but it's energy, it's carbon, it's gonna make us rich and provide so much energy they'll give it away! What? No there's no danger of an accidental massive methane release. And burning all that methane will convert it into CO2, which warms the planet much, much slower. Yup, a whole new world.

Service/Servants: The food services industry has been adding jobs (fries w'that?) for 37 months in a row. Over 850,000 of the low paying (averaging $11.98 an hour), mostly benefit-free jobs have been added during The RecoveryTM. Health care jobs have also been growing rapidly – and we're talking more custodial aids than nurses. Again, low paying.

Warm-up Question: Does inequality feed on itself? There's a lot of research to show that “inequality undermines the confidence of the disadvantaged and boosts the confidence of the advantaged.” It's called history. Google Rockefeller, Bush, Clinton, Roosevelt...

Footnotes: Without mentioning the pipeline rupture in Arkansas, or the spill in New Orleans or the nearly forgotten Exxon Valdez thingy, the National Safety Council (which is made up of executives from Dow, Exelon, DuPont and... Exxon) has given ExxonMobil an award for excellence in public relations “safety, security, health and environmental performance". They were necessarily absent, so BP accepted the award for them.

Same, But Different: Republicans in North Carolina want to make background checks for welfare applicants mandatory, while opposing background checks for buying a gun. But if you get the gun, maybe you can get the food without the background check.

The Parting Shot:


Viola pubescens Yellow violet.