Thursday, April 30, 2015

SAR #15120

Happy Face: The Good News is that the US economy didn't quite grind to a halt in 1Q2015; it grew (if that's the word) 0.2%. That's down a tad from the 2.2% annualized GDP growth rate at the end of 2014. Bet they blame it on the weather; it was winter. What they won't talk much about is the $121.9 billion increase in inventories, the largest inventory build in history, without which we're in negative territory. 
They're Everywhere: It's not just in America, the ten richest Africans own as much as the poorest half of the continent's population. 
First Things: The people of Baltimore (and lots of other places, big and small) are frustrated and desperate. Their frustrations and desperation are based in the great and growing disparity between the rich and the rest. All of us should pay attention, else we will pay a great deal more.

Gag Me: Those who want to profit from privatizing public schools claim that the Baltimore riots could have been prevented by more charter schools. Details to follow.

Whitish Lies: Seems that the Germans spied on the French and on EU officials for the US, and lied to their parliament over performing economic espionage for the NSA. Interesting, that bit about the NSA engaging in economic espionage. Makes you wonder who their customers are.

Asked And Answered: A reporter asked Senator Feinstein why she believed the CIA would lie to her about torturing detainees but not about drone stikes. After a pause she said, “That’s a good question, actually.” 
Diagnosis: Representative Bill Flores (R-TX) has identified the root cause of the riots in Baltimore. No,it is not poverty, not inequality, not police brutality, it's “because of too many gay marriages.”

Assigned Reading:The Police State is already here .”

Evolution: The US has promoted assassination from a rarely used and never discussed Last Resort to routinely employed tactic. How's that been working?

The Future Is Now: A Texas A&M Business School professor flunked his entire strategic management class for cheating and “ridiculous behavior”. Tomorrows masters of the universe, no doubt.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SAR #15119

One's philosophy of life should begin with an understanding of death.

Padding: US corporations spent $1 trillion last year buying back their own stock because they can't find anything worth doing with the money, like investing in the business or developing new lines. And much of the trillion wasn't “returning profits” to the shareholders - it was borrowed (as a tax dodge). Why? Mainly because the remaining shares (and the option shares and bonus shares yet to come) owned by senior management become far more valuable as the buybacks drive up the price of the company's stock. U.S. businesses made $1.8 trillion in after-tax profits last year alone. To date they have over $2.1 trillion in overseas profits stashed offshore. Pretty obviously they don't really need quite all they take in.

Simple: “Is TPP trade deal a massive giveaway to major corporations?" Yes.
Clarification: Obama was correct in claiming that the TPP agreement “has been on file in Congress for weeks.” Correct, but misleading. The draft is in a locked room, where members of Congress can make an appointment to view the document. View only. No notes, no copies. And the public isn't to know what's in the treaty until after it is signed.
Travel Advisory: Before you check in, bear in mind that Motel 6 sends a list of their guests to the police, every day. Just like Europe under the Nazis.

Leadership: Republican Lamar Smith (TX), head of the House Science Committee and devout know-nothing, kicked the Democrats out of the committee room and marked up a bill that would reshape federal scientific research programs by cutting social sciences research dramatically, straitjacket the NSF's latitude in funding research projects, curtail climate change research and bar the government from using any DOE research findings when writing energy regulations. It would also cut funding for DOE renewable energy programs by more than half. This is all for the good, Smith claims, because “legislators can do a better job than the scientific community itself in identifying the most promising research areas.”

Faint Praise: “The Obama administration considers the real alternatives to drone strikes to be the unpalatable options of grueling ground wars or passive acceptance of terrorism. Then it congratulates itself for picking the wise, ethical and responsible choice of killing people without knowing who they are.” 
Just Concern: The TPP and its Trans-Atlantic twin will impose a settlement proceedure known as ISDS – which stands for Investor-state dispute Settlement and is a process by which a three member panel chosen by international corporations judges disputes between member firms and various levels of government and awards monetary settlements to the corporations for lost profits. Technically it is possible that an occasional dispute might be settled in the citizen/taxpayer's favor, but this has yet to happen.

Never On Sunday: Surveys show that Americans do not go to church any more often than those godless Europeans – they just pretend they do.

Higher Education: In Alabama at least 9 high school football coaches make over $100,000 a year, with one making over $125,000. In Texas and Georgia some coaches make “a lot more” than that. These guys do not teach any academic subject, they just train gladiators.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SAR #15118

The Mysterious Yeast: A chunk of land 50 feet high, 10 feet wide and about a thousand feet long rose out of the sea next to the island of Hokkaido, Japan. A scramble for development rights is underway. Contact your broker.

Bland Date: The F-35's troubles just keep on coming. Or not. This time it's the plane's engine, which as been found to be unreliable. This is not as bad as it sounds, because the plane can't fire its guns and its bomb bay doors are too small for its weaponry. What it does have is a manufacturing or development contract in every state and in at least 75% of congressional districts. Try to whomp that gopher.

Business Plan: Rather than go through the trouble of identifying and developing new medicines, big pharma finds it easier to buy competing companies or rival drugs and then jack up the prices in a less competitive market.

Once Over: In FL a deputy sheriff stopped a black man on a bike and shoots him within 4 seconds. In NJ the police have admitted that an 18 year-old was shot in the back . Two SC cops may actually go to jail for repeatedly tasering a woman in handcuff who posed no threat to anyone. There probably has not been an increase in police brutality or stupidity – it's not a sign of the collapse of society or anything - but we're getting a lot better at reporting it.
Asked & Answered: Robert Reich asks why so many Americans feel so powerless. Because we are. It's by design – ask the man with the kill switch on our communications systems.

Third One's Not A Charm, Either: The ultra-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the also secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, thought to be even worse than the first), joined with the Trade in Services Agreement will complete the destruction of the experiment in self-rule that has been America and seal the fate of most Americans to ever lower wages and deteriorating living standards. They are not about “free trade”; they are not even about trade as we understand the term. They are aimed, the three of them, at increasing the power and control of international corporations over the the laws and regulations that we-the-people may have or may want to have enacted to protect our homes, our environment, our health and our safety. Freedom's been gone so long it no longer matters, but what little is left they want to take for “the certain and inevitable enrichment of the few and the further  reduction in worker's already low wages.” In secret, no matter what Obama says
One Slice Fits All: If taxes didn't exist, Republicans would have to invent them so they could say that cutting them would solve  our problems.” All of them. “There are only two problems with this: it's not true in theory, and it's not true in practice.”

Overlap: Polls show that about half of Americans favor legalizing same-sex marriage and about 50% are in favor of legalizing marijuana. For extra credit, what percentage of the former are part of the latter?

Limits of Power: Reports say that Obama, the out of control dictator, wants to transfer control of drone operations from the CIA to the Pentagon. Why can't he just tell 'em to do it? They both work for him, or used to.

Arcade Fire: A federal court has ruled that standing in Texas and killing folks in Mexico is not a crime. Kids, earn your NRA Border Patrol badge!

Reality Check: The government is considering dropping its ban on letting private parties pay ransom for hostages held overseas, as long as they pay the government a 25% surcharge. Corporations have long been allowed to do whatever they want. 
No Exit: The Fed may lay to rest any fears you may have about the effect ending QE will have on the economy by never ending its large-scale purchases of assets. Wall Street said “Good doggie” and tossed them a bone.

Porn O'Graph: Bragging rights.

Monday, April 27, 2015

SAR #15117

We fear the arrival of immigrants that we have drawn here with the wealth we stole from them.” Patrick Boyle

We Get What They Pay For: Years of starving various government agencies' ability to inspect, regulate, and meaningfully enforce health and safety standards has led to things like the current Blue Bell listeria outbreak. Except it is 'current' only in the sense that it had been going on for five years and was only shut down by the company only for fear of lawsuits, not by any government food safety process. 
What He Said: “We are turning into an economy that 'needs' bubbles to achieve anything like full employment.” 
Fortress Europe: The head of Europe's border patrol agency says that saving migrants' lives is not to be a priority mission for Mediterranean patrols, say it “cannot be a search-and-rescue operation.” Presumably bodies floating in major shipping lanes will be disposed of. 
Passive Aggressive: Eight suburban Kansas City highschool boys have been suspended for receiving nude pictures of some of their female classmates. For receiving? 
Report Card: A thorough search by the FBI of the data provided by the NSA's warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program during its first five years failed to identify a single instance in which the information was useful to any investigation. The report also noted that review of John Yoo's legal brief justifying the program was, to put it mildly, “flawed.”

Busman's Holiday: A group of vacationing Swedish police officers broke up a vicious assault that took place on a NYC subway. Just part of the New York experience.

American Sniper II: They shot the Buffalo herd; all fifteen of them. The herd "escaped" from a farm in Rensselaer county, swam across the Hudson, made it across the New York State thruway, wandered through some neighborhoods and were eventually trapped in a small gully. A group of snipers were brought in and shot them all. The snipers lined up, and the bang bang bang of the guns and the whump, whump of heavy bodies falling and hooves trying to escape – was broadcast live.

In God We Trust: The administration insists the President must have the legal authority to have – and use – a “cellphone kill switch” to keep the citizenry from using their smartphones to coordinate protests.

On The Home Front: There is a scary new assault on personal freedom afoot of late, centered on abolishing paper money. Joining various economists and opinion makers, Chase has begun field testing the cashless banking society in Cleveland. There it will no longer accept cash in payment for credit card debts, mortgages and auto loans, and will not permit customers to store cash in safe deposit boxes. With little or no cash, the banks and the government (where they are meaningfully different) will know of and control your everytransaction. Sure, you have nothing to hide unless your are a criminal, right? Just like the rest of the surveillance, it isn't an inconvenience if you're not up to no good, right? Funny, my paper script still says “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” And it doesn't even have a footnote exempting Chase, yet.

The Deep: Below Yellowstone is a huge magma chamber, and beneath that is another – newly discovered – chamber 4.5 times larger. There's enough magma down there to fill the Grand Canyon 14 times over, when it erupts. But it only does the gigantic nuclear-winter-for-a-decade type eruption every 700,000 years. The last major eruption was 640,000 years ago and there is no sign that it is going to erupt anytime soon. Of course there's no sign it's not going to, either.

Takes One To Know One: Senator McCain is urging that US drones be transferred from CIA to Pentagon control, arguing that the military is far more experienced at killing non-combatants.

Location, Location, Relocation: Beginning this fall, the Carroll County, GA, school system will subject most of the student body of its five high schools to random drug testing. No probable cause needed. Time to put the house up for sale.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

SAR #15115

Just Asking: What did QE do if it didn't increase production and employment (and it didn't)? It increased the effective money supply (money is no longer the printed stuff, but computer blips) and that increase went into driving up asset prices, both equities and commodities, and driving bond prices down (which theoretically was going to cause an investment boom, but didn't). Now if we stop QE, push up interest rates and get the Fed out of the bad loan repository business, won't that – absent a “recovery”, which is really absent – cause even less production, less employment, a decrease in the money supply and thus higher interest rates and a dive in the prices of stocks and commodities along with a nasty bump in interest rates and – oh, yeah – another economic collapse? 
Silence Friction: China is building a series of giant floating battle stations in the South China Sea, to accompany its new international bank.

Classification: The US drone program, which has killed a few thousand innocents at various weddings and funerals and other social events, is in a lot of trouble because it killed a single American civilian. Fact is, at best the US simply thinks – thinks! - that there may be a bad guy or two among the casualties. The rest are collateral damage, much like what has happened to our reputation.

Big Boned: Repeated studies have shown that excess quantities of sugar and carbohydrates are the prime culprits in the global obesity epidemic – not physical inactivity and not sedentary lifestyles. Cheap carbs and high fructose corn syrup are the culprits, and the food manufacturers and purveyors know this and, like the tobacco companies before them, put profits above the health of their customers. 
First Do No Harm: The World Bank, in spreading prosperity among the world's bankers, dictators, tyrants and corporate giants, has displaced 3.4 million people in the last decade, nearly all of them poor and disenfranchised.
Bargain: In the first quarter of this year, US airlines have saved $3.4 billion on jet fuel and have passed 66 cents in savings on to the typical passenger. 
Coordination: Government scientists have confirmed that much of the surge in earthquake activity across the US has been caused by fracking – specifically by the disposal of the fracking waste water. Even Oklahoma has swallowed the bitter pill and acknowledged the obvious. But the same day they did, the state passed a law prohibiting cities and counties from doing anything to regulate the fracking industry. 
Noted: 61% of Americans support allowing gays to marry, just not in their churches nor to their daughters. 
Easy Crumb, Easy Go: In the petty cash department, the Pentagon can’t account for $1 billion in cash given to various military commanders as part of the Afghan victory. That's a very minor part of the cash distributed to Afghan leaders – Karzai and Klan – and hardly noticeable in the $1.6 trillion so far and $6 trillion overall that this Great Adventure will eventualy drain from the US taxpayer.

The Crime of Being Young: Sometime in the last 30 years or so, being a normal child has become a disorder requiring pharmaceuticals and restraints. How did this happen? How did childhood become a crime?

Friday, April 24, 2015

SAR #15114

Occam's Razor: “Facts not in evidence” covers most of the utterances of the GOP wannabes.

Tax Broke: Louisiana State University says it is planning to seek bankruptcy protection because Gov. Jindal's [Republican] budget has cut state funding from $3,500 per student to $660 per student. Bobby says the cuts were necessary to spur Louisiana on in it's race to the bottom.

Observed:. Bankers have impunity, teachers do not. For example, Deutsche Bank will pay a $2.5 billion fine for rigging interest rates on trillions of dollars in mortgages. No one goes to jail, while millions went to the poorhouse. No one paid back their bonuses, either. But cheating on a test in Atlanta put folks in the slammer. 
Prospectus: Saxo Bank's Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen, speaking for us all, says “"We have zero growth, zero inflation and zero hope." 
The List: Michael Bennet of Colorado. Maria Cantwell of Washington State, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bill Nelson of Florida, Mark Warner of Virginia, and Ron Wyden of Oregon. Traitors all.

Need: The IMF says that the net effect of “multilateral liberalization” (for which read globalization of greed) has increased consumption in the effected economies by as much as 0.014%. That's 43 cents a month per person in the US. While the same “expanded trade” has cost the average US worker about $150 a month. Sounds like a good deal; bring on the TPP.

Back To The Future: NASDAQ is finally back to the level it was at fifteen years ago. Whoopie.

Naturally: There are efforts underway to replace the unicorn as Scotland's National Animal with Nessie (of Loch Ness fame), because unicorns aren't real.

Here And After: Reports indicate that most Swedes will die with mortgages on their homes that exceed 370% of their income. So then what?

Fifty-One: Puerto Rico’s government is “most likely” to shut down within three months because of a “liquidity crisis”. Which is a polite way of saying they're going to run out of money.

Point Of Origin: While the Republicans and Fox bemoan just over $2 million in foreign contributions to the Clinton Foundation, the Koch brothers are offering $300 million to the Republican wannabe who sucks up to them the most.

Close Reading: “When researchers pencil out a 72-year drought, California... “ Whoa, a 72-year drought?

Porn O'Graph: The way we were. And are.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

SAR #15113

Speculation: Danish lawmakers voted 91 to 75 to outlaw sex with animals. I assume it was a secret ballot.

Investment Alert: Scientists say we must leave at least 75% of the world's known fossil fuel reserves in the ground, or fry, that we must reduce our fossil fuel use to zero in the next 35 years. Zero means no coal or gas fired electrical generation. Zero means no gasoline or deisel based cars and trucks. Zero means sailing ships – no containerized behemoths. Think it's gonna happen? In the next 35 years? Voluntarily? A tough choice, but my money's on fry. 
Optimists: Pundits now are worried that privacy “could be a meaningless concept in 10 years.” Or less, much less. It's so yesterday.

End of Several Eras: The idea of the university, and with it the concept of a liberal eductation, cannot survive the insults of globalization. 
Master Class: House and Senate Republicans are offering to let the public watch them, working with a net from the rich, slash programs for the poor and moderate income households by 40 percent – stuff like food stamps, college loans and so on. They will not attempt the more difficult task of cutting the $1 trillion in annual tax breaks for the top 20%. This is on top of their brave abolishment of the hated death tax estate tax that the richest 5,500 families face. Sure that's another $20 billion a year you and yours will have to come up with, but it's worth it to support the ultra rich in the manner they insist on. Remember, if you're not leaving more than $5.5 million to the kids, you don't pay federal estate taxes.

Place Your Bets: Dr. Oz, "I will not be silenced."

You Want Fired With That? Popeye's has fired a shift manager because she would not (and most likely could not) pay back the money an armed robber got away with while she was in charge. Boycotting is a good idea, wonder why I didn't think of that...

Memories: The Dogwood Debutante Ball in Knoxville, TN is open to young women who are college sophomores, unmarried, and white. 
Thought Experiment: Given our Constitution guarantees of freedom of speech, can I say “Killing all the Jews would please God”? Could I put up a sign on my front lawn with that message? Can I pay the local transit company its going rate and plaster my sign on buses and in subway cars? Why not?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SAR #15112

Eat at home.

Directed Democracy: The oversimplification that is inherent in California's system of making laws via popular vote has backfired again; a court has ruled that Proposition 218, which prohibits a government agency from charging more for a product or service that it costs to provide means that the state cannot use a tiered approach to water usage fees. Once again it turns out one size doesn't fit all.

Rights of Passage: The US Navy appears intent on intercepting an Iranian convoy on the high seas... under what authority?

Sticks And Stones: Quicken, the largest FHA mortgage lender ($140 billion in 2013/4) says that the government's probe into alleged fraudulent practices (which involved more than 85,000 documents) is simply a pretext and the government is trying to bully them in to admitting extensive wrongdoing. Quicken says the sample was too small and they government hasn't proved enough fraud so far.

Group Punishment: Over 5 million Iowa chickens are likely to be executed because a few of them have contracted bird flu.

Nothing Runs, Like A Deere: You don't own that John Deere tractor you bought. Their lawyers say you have bought only the right to use it, “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle”, while the company controls what you do with it and what other equipment you can hook up to it. And you are not allowed to peek at – much less modify – the software that runs the damned thing. GM has the same theory about that car of theirs that is sitting in your driveway.

Fine Tuning: Corporations now spend more lobbying Congress than taxpayers do. And they get what they pay for. 
Hypocrisy Rules: Europeans, upset that so many would-be immigrants are drowning in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean, plan on launching military strikes aimed at the smugglers because rescuing the desperate costs too much. 
As Simple As Possible: Once again a massive study has shown that there is no link between MMR vaccination and autism. There never has been.

Runes: A major Chinese real estate developer has defaulted on its dollar-denominated bonds. Major miner Rio Tinto reports a big drop in iron ore shipments, mainly due to a drop in Chinese demand. Containerized freight rates for the China-US and China-Europe routes has fallen to all time lows. The governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia notes that “extraordinary world conditions could spark an abrupt sell-off.”
Distrust And Verify: TN state representative Sheila Butt (R, natch) killed an amendment to an abortion prohibition bill that proposed an exception for rape and incest because, she claims, such claims are “not verifiable.” Neither is her claim. 
Endgame: US troops have begun training Ukrainian troops to fight pro-Russian forces. Just what is the optimum outcome of this exercise?

Wilder West: The Texas House of Representatives, not satisfied with their status as a running joke, has now passed a bill that will allow NRA members to wander down the middle of Main Street with a six-gun strapped to their Levi 501's. 
Say “May I”: A JPMorgan Chase investment adviser has been arrested for stealing $20 million from customers and losing it in the markets. Hard to tell if the crime was stealing the money or losing it.

Oddsly: Republican Lindsey Graham says he is “91% certain” he will run for president. I am 99.4% sure he is full of...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SAR #15111

Just because things happen in slow motion doesn't mean they don't happen.

Skepticism: When you read “Six Minnesota men charged with conspiring to support the Islamic State “ didn't you immediately suspect the FBI planned the whole thing? All six of the 'terrorists' had been conspiring (most likely with an agent provocateur) for months. Details on how the brave agents of the FBI set up this batch of stooges were not imediately available. 
Piggy Banking: Greece is so low on cash to pay off the German bankers that the state has ordered local governments to turn in all of their funds to the the central government. This is generally the one of the last steps before the whole thing goes down the drain.

Truth: The Washington Post has informed all and sundry that the elite (which in this case includes the Washington Post) will lie, cheat and steal to pass the TPP – which is not about trade bugt about installing international corporations as the supreme rulers of the universe, able to leap local, state and national laws and to extract tax monies without ever bothering with a ballot box. 
Biology Rules: Iowa Republicans have killed a bill that would have terminated the parental rights of convicted rapists because the state should not stand in the way of a man's god-given right to rape his kids it was simply “feel-good” legislation. 
Just Wondering: If possession (and presumably use) of small amounts of marijuana is legal in your state, can an employer deny you a job if you test positive?

Sunk Costs:Greece would have been better off exiting the euro in 2010. You can make an even better case that Greece would have been much better off if it had never joined in the first place.” But they did, and here they are.

Solid As A Rocker: The Federal Reserve seems set to rule that the biggest Wall Street banks can count S&H Green Stamps some municipal bonds as part of the ready cash they must have to tide themselves (and their depositors) through a financial-market meltdown.

The Untouchable: AIPAC's Netanyahu has been given an additional two weeks (on top of the Constitutional 28 days) to find patsies to join him in forming a new government for Israel – most of the other parties don't want anything to do with him. He'd be better off asking Congressional Republicans to move to Tel Aviv. 
The Heartland: When the mostly black good citizens of Parma, MO elected a black woman as mayor, most of the (white) police officers resigned, along with the city attorneyand the guy that ran the water plant. Dog pound operations were not immediately affected. Or afflicted.
Unexpected Consequences: A San Antonio, TX woman, facing a $2,000 find for feeding the homeless, has invoked the state's religious freedom rules, arguing that it is exactly what her Christian religion tells her she must do. The District Attorney and State Representatives are expected to argue that the statue, and the Bible, do not cover the homeless or the hungry. Not in Texas.

One Down: Goldman Sachs director and convicted felon has lost his attempt to get the Supreme Court to kiss and make his two year sentence for insider trading go away. Too bad he – and a whole lot of his Wall Street buddies – wasn't imprisioned for crimes against humanity.

Editing: A Detroit police officer has been charged after videos surfaced of him beating the crap out of a suspect in custody. “To many people in this region and across this country … police brutality seems to be out of control,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. Seems?

Porn O'Graph: Same old new record; look for the dark blue spot.

Monday, April 20, 2015

SAR #15110

Not only are things are no longer what they seem, they never were.

An Offer They Can't Refuse: International corporations have told Congress that they must let Obama unilaterally select partner countries for a trade pact, determine an agreement’s contents through the negotiations, sign and commit the US to the pact before Congress gets to read the treaty. Once dictated, signed and in force, Congress has 90 days in which to say “okay”, but can only say “okay” – no additions, deletions nor amendments permitted . Or else. Along with giving corporations the right to override nearly any law - local state or national - that stood in the way of even a penny in profits. Zoning, the environment, health and safety, and free speech would all have to bow to Mammon.

Modesty: President Obama says that the fastest growing markets are in Asia and, thus the US not only must have the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but must also dictate the terms for the global economy and not leave things up to an upstart Chinese bank the Chinese Investment Bank AIIB. 
Assumes Facts Not In Evidence: “Why would consumers spend less as the economy picks up steam?”

Brownback Mountain: In 2012, Kansas, under Republican Governor Sam Brownback, adopted a “pro-growth tax policy” endorsed by Art Laffer of the Laffable Curve Theory, that was promised to act “like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” Well, he was right about the shot to the heart part, but not the adrenaline. Corporate and individual taxes were cut by about a billion dollars a year and the sate now ranks as the third worst economic performer in the nation. 
Take a Memo: US troops from the 173rd Airborn Division have arrived in Ukraine for public relations training exercises.

Paper Chase: Michigan has sold 9,000 acres of land on the Upper Peninsula to a Canadian firm that wants to mine it for limestone, never mind that the land falls within the 11,000 acres the 1836 Treaty of Washington, as confirmed by the 2007 Inland Consent Decree, ceded to various American Indian tribess. You know how this is going to turn out, you've seen the movie.

Essay Question: Could industrial civilization reboot without fossil fuels? No. It was a one-per-customer thing.

Safety Measured: A federal judge has ruled that the General Motors that made all those millions of cars with faulty ignition switches disappeared when GM underwent bankruptcy and was resuscitated by a few tens of billions of US taxpayer money. And this new, post-bailout, post-bankruptcy GM does not owe the millions of people with defective cars a penny. Nada. Is that all we get for the money?

Asked And Answered: “Should economists rule?” No, because “there is no evidence that the economy is self-correcting ,” no matter how many times the efficient market is invoked.

Common Denominator: Does the 30% unemployment rate among young men throughout the Arab countries explain the high levels of social unrest and radicalization? You betcha.

What Could Go Wrong? Norway has given a mining operation permission to dump millions of tons of mine tailings into a fjord that is part of the spawning grounds for cod and salmon. Environmentalists, if not the fish, are outraged.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

SAR #15108

Free Money Forever: According to the government, the cost of living has decreased 0.1% y/y and not seasonally adjusted. Don't see where the inflation is going to come from that would require the Fed to raise interest rates. Looks like more QE will be needed, so party on.

Future, Tense: During the fifty years of the original Cold War, both sides knew the rules and pretty much stuck to them. But today, with Cold War Two between Russia and the US and its European dependencies, there are no rules. Both sides are making it up as they go along, pushing towards a less-than-proxy war in Ukraine. That's why sending a brigade from the173rd Airborne to Ukraine right now is not a Good Idea. 
Delegation: The head of ISIS in Pakistan was killed when a bomb he was planting exploded. He missed the part in leadership school about delegation.

Tail Wagging: California lawmakers have given in to a handful of vocal anti-vaccination idiots who think their opinion trumps science and that their rights include endangering the health of their neighbors' young children. Vaccinations will remain optional, despite the object lesson the state lived through this winter. California remains one of 20 states that allow ignorant minorities to put the majority at risk. 
Seconded: A one-year-old child was shot in the head during a road rage incident in Washington, where the irate driver was exercising his NRA-given right to protect himself by shooting the innocent at random. 
Another Place Not To Live: Arizona's Republican Governor has signed a bill that requires doctors to tell patients seeking an abortion that drug-induced abortions can be reversed, even thoough they cannot and never have been. The bill also bars women from obtaining any health insurance that would cover the cost of an abortion. 
Odds: For every 1,000 citizens killed by police, only one officer involved in these murders is convicted of wrongdoing of any sort.

Our Hero: A lawyer representing football star and accused rapist Jameis Winston – likely to be the number one pick in the pro football draft – says that the lawsuit brought by his victim is just a “stunt”. He seems fully qualified.

Self-Hoisting Petard: Tennessee has never taken it upon itself to adjudge the validity of any group seeking to organize a church in the state, for fear of treading on the rights of Christians no matter how loopy. So they had no choice but to issue 'church' status to a swingers' club in Nashville, which will use its newly found faith to build a place of worship in a neighborhood that rejected them when they were being honest. 
Priorities: After spending billions to paint itself green, BP has abandoned all its green energy projects to concentrate on profits today and to hell with your children's future.

Back Issues: At the end of March the US embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan received 150 tons of “diplomatic mail” in 12 separate containers, which were flown in from Abu Dhabi on a Ukrainian cargo plane. The embassy had received an earlier large shipment of “diplomatic mail” via US Air Force cargo aircraft in November 2013. How much do pallet loads of $100 bills weigh?

Seasonal Mirage: The House has voted to repeal the estate tax, in order to save the family farm. Never mind that in the last 30 years the Republicans have been unable to find a single instance where a family farm was 'lost' to estate taxes, nor the troublesome fact that the tax only applies to about 0.2% of the very wealthiest Americans. It's a death tax and has to be killed. Too bad Senate Democrats appear to have enough votes to block it. But it makes for good theater.

Friday, April 17, 2015

SAR #15107

We do not examine ourselves for fear of what we would find.

Best Friends Forever: A senior Pakistani judge has directed the police to formally investigate certain 2009 drone strikes to see if various CIA personnel should be charged with murder.

Progression: A former chief of the IMF, Rodrigo Rato, has been arrested and charged with money laundering, which is more acceptable than the sexual crimes his successor Dominique Strauss-Khan fought on two continents, and more in line with the charges of committing fraud of over €400 million that the current managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde has survived. In the banking world this sort of thing is looked at as a credential.

Professional Hazard: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has become linked to the Korean political bribery scandal triggered by a suicide note left by Sung Wan-jong which named several leading politicians as taking bribes. 
Rank Privileges: In the UK, the Director of Public Prosecutions says it “would not be in the public interest” to charge Lord Janner of Brunstone with over 20 individual counts of sex offenses involving minor boys, because His Lordship got away with it for so long. Four separate police investigations have gathered sufficient evidence to convict, but Janner has been deemed “not fit” to stand trial. But he seems fit enough to remain a Peer of the Realm, even though his pedophilia appears to have been known since as early as 1991. Derbyshire police had credible evidence against Janner earlier, but were prevented from making an arrest “by more senior people”. 
And that's all of our leaders I can take for now.