Friday, August 28, 2015

SAR #15240

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” Plutarch
Wording: Chinese investors haven’t been investing based on how the economy is doing, but rather, based on what they think the government will do to prop up the market.” Really, just Chinese investors?
Food For Thought: The first half of 2015 has seen the worst decline in world trade since the 2009 crisis.”
Wading In: The NASA now says that the IPCC's 2013 estimate of sea level rise was a tad conservative and it is now expected to be at least three feet in the next century. That will force 150 million people to relocate and will flood several major cities. The increase is due to the rapidly increasing rate that ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting.
It's Half Time: The BEA has revised its guesses of 2015 GDP growth. First quarter grew at a 0.6% annual rate, second quarter 3.7% (up from 2.3%i) and third quarter growth is now projected to be about 1.4%. Don't bank on it.
Business is Booming: A Chinese arms dealer has sold $20 million in weaponry to South Sudan, where Israeli weapons are widely used in the civil war. Where is the money for these weapons coming from, and why?
Perspective: Drought has so severely reduced maize (corn to Americans) production in Zimbabwe that less than 25% of children under 2 get minimum levels of nutrition. Half of all children under 5 years old suffer from anemia. Maybe we could encourage the Republicans who so want to force unwilling mothers to bring unwanted children into the world to refocus their fervor on feeding some of those that are already here.
Technically Speaking: 26 Japanese universities are abolishing courses in the humanities and social sciences. Doesn't pay.
Magic Decoder Ring: When analysts say “At a time when the oil price is languishing at its lowest level in six years, producers need to find half a trillion dollars to repay debt.” What they mean is that they've got to borrow another half trillion buckeroos to pay back their current debts so they can keep drilling for oil no one wants. Sounds like a plan.
Can't Win: Widespread Roundup use has caused the monarch butterfly population to plummet by a billion. Now their Mexican wintering habitat is being degraded by illegal logging. Say goodnight, Gracie.
She's Right: "There is no tolerance for those people who question the dignity of others, no tolerance for those who are not willing to help where legal and human help is required.” Angela Merkel. To bad a lot of Germans don't agree, and Hungarians want to stop migrants at the border, while Denmark is considering toughening its citizenship laws.
Porn O'Graph: No future in the futures.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

SAR #15239

We are facing  a predicament that doesn’t have a real solution.” Gail Tverberg
Memorization: Repeat after me: There is no direct correlation between the stock market and the country's GDP. Despite the story told kiddies about the stock market where industry gets its funding (which isn't true, shares are mostly issued so early investors can cash out) the market is mainly a place where people bet on the potential companies have for future profits. Other than a mild bit of monkey-see monkey-do, the Chinese market crash has little to do with Wall Street. The lack of consumer demand due to stagnant wages and high (real) unemployment is far more important, as is the fear the investor class has for losing access to the Fed's free money. Wait until the Fed screws the pooch and raises rates, for as the NYT reported, “the Federal Reserve has said that it expects to raise interest rates sometime soon, given evidence over the last year that economic growth is picking up." What evidence?
Debate Point: Mr. Candidate, nearly one out of three children in the US live in poverty in this, the richest nation on earth. What do you propose to do about this shameful situation?
Obsession: Since early 2008 ,Serious People have demanded the Fed raise interest rates to prevent hyperinflation. Seven years later it ain't here yet. A couple of years ago rising commodity prices made the same folks demand the Fed raise rates . For the same reason – inflation. Then it was wage increases, but the wage increase never happened and commodities are in the tank so, of course, we must raise interest rates. They say.
Code Talkers: ‘Family values’ is Republican code for ‘let’s control women’s bodies’.
The Ayes Man Cometh: Yes, they love him, the knee-jerk religious right, even though he is far from being a poster boy for their professed values. They love him because their drivel about family values, the free markets and Constitutional purity was simply a camouflage. What they really want is someone to put women and workers in their place, to say their truths about immigration and welfare and defense, to be the bully, to be the boss. And that's Trump.
Capitalism: When the US was filling up Guantánamo it did not have enough decent intelligence in Afghanistan to identify “the worst of the worst”, so large rewards were offered for those who would turn in people alleged to be bad guys. What a deal, get paid to get rid of your competitor. Worked, too. Only 3 of the remaining 116 Guantánamo detainees were captured by US forces. The rest we bought on the open market.
By Gosh: The Pentagon has contracted to buy 55,000of the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, for $30 billion - that's about $547,000 each. Makes the HumVee look cheap at only $220,000 each. Of course they wouldn't need so many replacements if they hadn't lost a billion dollars worth to ISIS – 2600 in Mosul in one day.
Clear and Present Danger: Continually increasing debt and the inflation created with it has been a good thing. It has allowed us to afford an ever increasing range of goods and services. But once the pace of debt creation slows, prices throughout the system begin to fall. That's where we are now. Once the decline in debt becomes self-reinforcing, deflation sets in and the system fails to deliver promised goods and services. That's the next step. It's a big one.
Bad News: The new, Republican-appointed director of the Congressional Budget Office reports that “the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves.” Hope he hasn't settled into the office yet.
Big Wheel Keeps On Turning: H&R Block has paid successfully lobbied the Republican controlled Senate Appropriations Committee to require the IRS to at least quadruple the length of the Earned Income Tax Credit form so that more poor people will turn to H&R Block out of frustration.
Behind The Curtain: Former Fed Chair Bernanke slipped the other day and warned that reducing US defense spending could harm the nation's economy. This is not news, but Ben should know we don't talk about it in front of the children.
Logging In: At the current rate the Earth will lose an India-sized chunk of tropical forest by 2050. In the process, about 169 gigatons of CO2 – think of it as another 44,000 coal-fired power plants puffing away, killing us. Sure, we should do something about it. But we won't.
Porn O'Graph: How low can you sink?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

SAR #15238

What went up is coming down.
Officially: “The market is overreacting. The country has strong job growth, low inflation, a strongly recovering housing market, and an improving economy. Never mind the collapsing commodities market, or the currency wars, China's economic slowdown and so on. This is just a correction. It's a buying opportunity....” Right. The entire stock market bubble has been created and sustained by the Fed's free money for Wall Street and the rich, and you can confidently expect them to do whatever is necessary to save their bacon. Not yours.
Cursives! The Common Core standards have been re-written to require proficiency in typing and dropping any instruction in the ability to pick up a pen and write. Ensuring that in another generation or so the ability to read cursive will have atrophied.
Fool Speed Ahead; It is becoming obvious that raising interest rates any time soon will have... sub-optimum effects. Not only will it upset the investor class, who have a deep fondness for essentially free money, but it will stomp what little economic growth there is back into the ground. And because it is a serious error, the board of the Fed is most certainly going to do it. Not because they don't know the likely results, but because they firmly believe the job of a central banker is to say no. No to wage growth, no to full employment, no to economic prosperity for the 99%. Will it be painful for most of the country? Yes. That's one of the things they smugly like about “returning to normalcy”.
Don't Ask: A suburban Detroit-area mayor is seeking a ban on personal flamethrowers.
Creamy Nougat Center: It seems that most measures of the housing industry are reflecting “a softness” in house prices. It is, of course, “a suprise”. Some are beginning to suspect that many are not planning to buy a house any time soon.
Swift And Sure: In the UK, it is now better to plead guilty to a crime you didn't commit than to try to fight it because a new pay-to-play rule that is trying to make the criminals pay for the operation of the courts. Pleading guilty costs £150 in a magistrates' court, but the fee goes to £1,000 or more if you plead not guilty and are convicted. So for minor crimes, pay and go.
Synopsis: The major difference between Iraq and Iran is that we didn't learn enough from the first to keep us from repeating the same mistakes again. And we won't learn anything from it, either. Ask Dick Cheney.
Stupid China Stories: According to Christie, Walker and, of course, The Donald, the Chinese economic slowdown and subsequent collapse of its stock exchange is Obama's fault.
Calling George Bailey: BofA, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and a few of their European friends have, so far, paid $260 billion in fines for swindling the public, with at least another $65 billion to come. And it has not made a noticeable impact on their profits. Or their behavior.
Dirt Box: The police departments in LA and Chicago have acquired military surveillance technology that can intercept data, calls and text messages from hundreds of cellphones simultaneously, as well as jam transmissions from selected devices. Without a warrant.
Shorty: The current year's federal deficit will be only 2.4% of GDP – the smallest since 2007 and below the 50-year average. “The Federal deficit is too small in the absence of sufficient private sector deficit spending...” Or to put it another way, you are not going deep enough in debt and neither are the Feds.
Porn O'Graph: Discriminating tastes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

SAR #15237

Blizzard: “The scale of the rout over the last week appears to have persuaded an increasing number in global markets that the fall in commodity prices over the last few months is less a benign transfer of wealth from producer countries to consumer ones, than a symptom of the world economy’s inability to generate enough demand to absorb everything that’s being produced” It would have been quicker to say “Panic!
U-Turn: Perhaps you've noticed how quickly falling global demand has changed much of the world from emerging to submerging nations.
Cross To Bear: Ohio abortion opponents (for which read “Republicans”) have passed a law prohibiting a woman from terminating a pregnancy to avoid giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome, because they – speaking for god – think she deserves to be punished and the world needs more people with Down Syndrome. Too bad there's not a genetic test to prevent people from developing into this type of zealot.
Interrogation: Does Capitalism cause poverty? Yes. How can we move low-paid workers into the middle class? Pay them more money.
Demographic Disaster Averted: A quick and easy solution to the problem of aging populations in developed countries is banging on the doors – all those eager immigrants from the Middle East, Latin America, and North Africa who simply want a place to settle down, work and raise families. Add in several tens of millions of refugees from rising sea levels and the problem becomes an opportunity.
Takes One To Know One: Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, will be tried for leaking grand jury material to the press, perjury, and obstruction of justice by illegally keeping tabs on the investigations into her crimes.
Corrected: Duke freshmen refuse to read their class asignmnet, Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel “Fun Home”, because they don't want to be exposed to new ideas. they are not ready for a university education. its sexual images and themes goes against their Christian beliefs. Wait'll they get to Lolita. Or Oedipus Rex. Or recent Supreme Court rulings. And philosophy 101...
En Garde: In an attempt to draw publicity away from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz plans to lead 100,000 pastors in 50-state attack on women Planned Parenthood.
Symptom: The student loan debt/repayment problem gets all the attention when what really needs fixing is tuition costs, which in turn means hacking away at the bloated administrative costs and realizing that a lot of people simply don't need college degrees – there aren't any jobs for them.
Porn O'Graph: Apparently we're not going to make it up with volume.

Monday, August 24, 2015

SAR #15236

 Progression: Growth in US productivity, as measured by GDP – which is a pretty iffy measurement, but all we've got, peaked in 1972 and has since declined to the point where today it is on a par with the agrarian slave economy of the early 1800's. Might explain a couple of things.
Similarities: While ISIS is destroying archaeological treasures in Syria and Iraq, In Afghanistan the Beijing-based China Metallurgical Group Corporation is destroying a spectacular Buddhist complex in its race to grab 12.5 million tons of copper before the Taliban come back to power. Who is the bad guy here?
Installment Plan: As part of the blackmail that Israel's congressional representatives have extorted from the administration as the cost of their letting the Iran nuclear agreement gain approval, Obama has agreed to further increase American military aid – in both equipment and funding – to “unprecedented” levels.
Over Achievers: Constituting just 5% of the world's population, enterprising Americans manage to execute 31% of the world's mass public shootings.
Business Plan: I propose to bottle about 27 million gallons of water from California's Strawberry Canyon, enough to fill about 100 million little plastic bottles, and sell each of them for about 75 cents. The water will come from public land in a national forest, so I'll have to get a permit. It'll cost me $524 a year. Oh, yeah. My name is Nestle, and the permit expired in 1988, but it's willing to spend $7 million “to save water.”
Favors: Is it possible that the Saudi-financed TV ads condemning the Iran nuclear agreement were produced by Israel?
Kiss It And Make It Bitter: When the toxic mine waste the EPA spilled got to the Navajo irrigation network, it provided water for their use. It was contaminated oil-field water...
Shortcuts: The Tea Party wants to cultivate people's anger and get them to express it at the ballot box. Trump is apparently happy for them to simply express their anger and their love of country by beating up suspected illegal aliens. And they don't even have to wear brown shirts.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

SAR #15234

The Anatomy Lesson: It turns out that the foot bone (China's stock market, the Hang Seng is off over 20% since May) is connected to the leg bone (China's economy) and – despite repeated claims to the contrary by US economic and financial geniuses – the whole damned appendage is attached to the entire world economy, including Wall Street. The Dow is down 10% from late May highs, as are the S&P and the NASDAQ and nearly every other stock index in the world. Oil prices have declined for eight straight weeks, with WTI briefly below $40 a barrel. It is all part of a global currency war brought on by deflation as far as the eye can see. It's trickling down out there.

Quoted: “Pregnancy is painful, difficult, and dangerous. No one should be forced into it.”

Moving Target: The WSJ assures us that “a strenghening economy” has increased us trucking activity. On the next page it tells us that “Major container-shipping lines are slashing sailings on the world’s busiest shipping route between Asia and Europe as lower growth in China and a sluggish eurozone economy hurt container volumes”. Pick one - or do you think the US trucks can keep running around without hauling Chinese salad-spinners?

Them That Has, Keeps: The Pohlad family, owners of the Minnesota Twins, negotiated a $255.8 million IRS tax bill down to a single $36 million payment. 
Porn O'Graph: Hand in hand.

Friday, August 21, 2015

SAR #15233

Things are true until they're not.

Hot Enough For You? Last month was the warmest month ever recorded, all over the world. Except for North Carolina where global warming is against the law, and Oklahoma where it is ignored in deference to Sen. Inhofe. 
It's A Snap: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has quit stepped down tendered his resignation, triggering a snap election – which he hopes will reappoint him as Angela's Gauleiter.

Status Quo: America's non-existent education in science and math over the last few decades has created a pubic that does not possess the basic tools to participate competently in a modern democracy. 
Indian Givers: NASA is sending scavengers around to museums that have received retired space shuttles, removing reusable parts to serve as spares for the International Space station. The parts, in plain brown paper wrappers, would be lifted into orbit by Soviet-era Russian spacecraft. 
Motto: Tax cuts for the rich are good for you! Overpriced health insurance is good for you! Social security is for losers! 
Leadership: Mark Gremaud, a member of the Perryville, MO school board told a fellow board member, “Kathy, you are just a woman, the only thing you know is laying on your back with your legs in the air splayed.” The board voted 4 to 3 to ask Gremaud to resign. Four to three.

Precisely: According to reports, millions of dead fish have begun mysteriously washing up on the shore adjacent to Tianjim's gigantic cyanide explosion. Mysteriously?

Shaken, Not Stirred: Over the weekend, a 5 square mile slice of ice fell off Greenland’s massive Jakobshavn glacier – the largest chunk ever to break away from a glacier. Climate scientists, with their usual understatement, noted that this “is not good news.”

Motivation: The federal No Child Left Behind project was designed to force states to establish a set of academic standards and to develop ways to get students in their states to attain these goals. It was (and still is) immediately disliked, for no state politicians enjoy being accountable for anything, especially the poor results achieved by under-funded schools forced to teach to the tests instead of educating the children.

Serve & Protect: It took 14 of San Francisco's finest to subdue a one-legged man on crutches. Wear some flowers in your hair.

Masked Man: The good news is that US inflation increased only 0.2% in July. The bad news is that this will be enough to let the Fed begin its new Great Experiment in killing the economy. Oddly, the Chapwood Index which measures the actual cost of 500 things we spend our money on is up 10 to 11%. But that's prices, economists say, not inflation. 
Porn O'Graph: Animal farm.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

SAR #15232

Cat/Bag: After six years and $4.5 trillion, the St. Louis Fed is beginning to suspect that Quantitative Easing didn't work quite like The Bernank thought it would. Actually, it didn't work at all.
Another Brick In The Wall: The Regal Cinema theater chain announced it will begin checking customers' bags and purses as they line up to buy popcorn.
The Long Road Home: A decade ago the idiots in Congress agreed with the idiots in the White House that the nation need to cut spending. And they've stuck to this pledge, even after the economy cratered in 2008 and the nation desperately needed the stimulus of government spending. Since 2009, state, local and federal spending, combined, has shrunk 3.3%. Over comparable periods in past recoveries (the ones where actual recovery occurred) spending increased over 20%. Economists knew this would happen. Politicians were praying to another god.
Fill In The Blank: Undercover Police have regularly spied on ______________ in _________ . In this case it's Black Lives Matter activists in New York, but conditions vary.
Third Time's A Charm: Indian mining giant Adani, which wants to export 60 million tons of coal a year from its Australian mine through a channel dredged through the Great Barrier Reef, has submitted a third plan for destroying the reef in the name of profit. Given the troglodytes in charge of Australia, sooner or later they'll turn coral into profits, so the world can emit even more CO2 to warm the world and boil the rest of the reef.
Progress: It seems that consolidation in the health insurance racket is going to mean higher premiums for most of us. Shocker.
Part-Timer: In 2005, then governor Jeb Bush's Florida moved $250 million in pension fund assets to Lehman Brothers, and then added another $1.2 billion. Then, in 2008, Lehman collapsed taking about $1 billion of teachers' and state employees' retirement with them. By then Jeb was no longer governor; he was working for Lehman, making $1.3 million a year. After Lehman collapsed, the hard working former governor found a job at Barclays that would give him time to look for another job in the government.
Eyes Of The Law: NY Governor Cuomo says that women going topless in Times Square are breaking the law, but that a topless Donald Trump would be okay. I don't know which law Cuomo had in mind, but he's sure got things backward.
Porn O'Graph: Big government boogeyman, ha!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SAR #15231

Hurricanes, floods and earthquakes are natural events; it takes people to turn them into disasters. 
One Day: Two Albuquerque, NM police officers will stand trial for murdering a homeless man. Keeping the video of Seneca, SC cops killing an unarmed white youth secret seems to have muted concern over the random use of deadly force. Two former Atlanta, GA police officers will stand trial for killing a handcuffed with repeated bursts from taser weapons. A Hamilton County, TN deputy has been placed on leave after video recorded the officer using “unnecessary force” on a handcuffed prisoner. A Charlotte County, FL grand jury knew that police had killed prisoner Mathew Walker in the County Jail, but declined to indict them in the murder. A cop in Virgina will face murder charges in the death of a suspect who had is hands raised when the officer killed him. An independent review of a police shooting in Stockton, CA found that firing 600 rounds (and killing a hostage and two suspects) was both “unnecessary” and “excessive.”

Unexpectedly: It seems that one way to increase the number of abortions is to make them illegal.

The Daily Donald: The Donald says he will stop those born in the US of illegal immigrants from becoming citizens – by either repealing or ignoring the 14th Amendment. He also wants to spend about half a trillion dollars rounding up, imprisoning in concentration camps and deporting (in railcars?) all 11 million illegal immigrants - and, one supposes, their US born formerly citizen children. One positive: it would create a large number of jobs over the 20 years it would take to do this.

Messing With Medicaid: One of the right's arguments against the ACA was that Medicaid expansion would lower the number of people who might be forced to pay for private health insurance they could not afford . As though this were a fault.

Abruptly: In the last 100,000 years there have been at least 23 separate abrupt changes in climate, in which the average global temperature changed by 9 to 14ºF – usually over a few decades but occasionally in only a couple of years. As they say in the prospectus, past performance is not a guarantee of future profits. Or losses.

Asked & You Know The Answer: If natural gas, fracked or not, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, why does the natural gas industry oppose regulations that would make sure that the natural gas industry reduces greenhouse gas emissions? Does it have anything to do with the gross underestimation of methane released during processing?

You Get What They Pay For: The process, working backwards: Election, Campaign, Funding, Nomination, Campaigns, Funding, Primaries, Campaigning, Funding, Exploratory meetings. Nothing happens in the political process without funding. Funding comes from the 1%. In fact, just 130 families have provided over half of the funding for the Republican field of wanabees. Guess whose interests get served once the music fades.

Opinions Vary: The FDA may approve a “female viagra” later this week. The GOP has already disapproved it.

Wrong In So Many Ways: Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, is going partnering with a “Muslim-free” gun store to sell signed and numbered prints of a Confederate flag painting by Zimmerman. It started out as a painting of the US flag, but...

Easy Does It: In 2012, the IRS sent 655 tax refunds to a single address in Lithuania, and another 343 to an address in Shanghai. Think maybe they need some decent computer techs?

On Base: The pundits all say that Donald Trump is a summer diversion and has no chance of winning this thing. Okay, but a) what if they're wrong and b) which one of the others would be all that much better?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SAR #15230

Occasionally things do, in fact, get better. But only occasionally.

Half A Loaf: The Obama/EPA Clean Power Plan is an improvement over the totally ignored and unenforceable 1992 Kyoto agreement. Barely. It is 12% more stringent at a time when the IPPC says we must stop burning fossil fuels all together and begin to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Given the US political system and the US courts, Miami will be under 6 feet of water before any reduction in fossil fuel profits is achieved. Emissions reductions “by 2030” are inadequate when what is need is zero emissions worldwide now because “a large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from carbon dioxide emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale, except in the case of a large net removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over a sustained period." 
Quoted:The decision not to use fiscal policy to bring economies to full employment is due to superstitions, not actual limits imposed by globalization.” 
BOGO: Leaving auto sales aside, year over year retail sales increased but 1.3%, which is hardly indicative of a boisterous economic recovery. And auto sales are now most often six or seven year commitments made by sub-prime borrowers, with all the confidence that engenders. Even with many installment loans and credit cards offering interest free consumption for 18 months to two years, sales are stagnant. Macy's sales fell 2.6% y/y, Kohl's gained a whopping 0.6% in the quarter after poor second quarter results. Sears PR suggests same store sales will be down over 10% from last year, and Target and Wally-World are not picking up the slack.
Mysterious Ways: Mike 6% Huckabee insists that a 10-year-old rape victim should be forced to carry the rapist’s baby.”

Reeducation: The UK's ruling Conservatives intend to take housing subsidies away from 18 to 21 year-olds and force them into work boot-camps where the “workshy” young people will be prepared to enter the workforce. , Cabinent Minister Matt Hancock explained that this was not “a form of punishment... because nobody who does the right thing and plays by the rules will lose their benefits.” It will result in a great leap forward.

PPPPPP: The Pentagon anticipates a 50% increase in drone usage, with civilian body counts collateral damage keeping pace. 
Early Warning: Vietnam “hopes” that Thailand will abandon its plan to divert much of the Mekong's water to fill Thai dams that have reached worrisome levels due to drought. Vietnam's Mekong Delta is a vital agricultural resource which depends entirely on the Mekong for water. If the water levels drop significantly seawater will encroach and ruin many crops and fisheries. That, in turn, will lead to something more forceful than “hopes”.

Another Shoe: The Empire Fed Manufacturing Survey, not a top-tier market indicator but possibly indicative of this or that, fell from a positive 3.86 reading to a negative 14.9. New orders were down, inventories were down, both the length of the workweek and the number of employees was down. This is the poorest showing of this index since 2009. 
Petty: Florida’s attorney general, the righteous Republican Pam Bondi fought against same-sex marriage and lost, then appealed and appealed and appealed – losing every appeal until the Supreme Court finally told her to go away. Now she claims that the attorneys who represented the prevailing same-sex couples “are not entitled to appellate attorney’s fees.” She was wrong then and she is wrong now. The state will eventually have to pay those fees and the new fees run up getting the state to pay what is legally due them.

Porn O'Graph: Most things considered.

Monday, August 17, 2015

SAR #15229

Reality often fails to cooperate.

Sounds Familiar: The European Commission, taking their cue from the American TPP rules for the US Congress, has ruled that politicians can only view the text of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in a secure reading room in Brussels. No note taking allowed. Because while ignorance may be bliss, knowledge will pretty surely sink this one, too.

Ah, Recovery: The forecast for third quarter GDP growth has now been cut to 0.7% - and that's before the Fed dons its inflation-fighting costume and begins hiking interest rates.

Room 641A: Media headline writers are scandalized to discover what we've known for years – AT&T has been willingly helping the NSA to intercept “vast quantities” of internet communication” for decades, giving the NSA “access to billions of domestic emails” as well as providing “technical assistance” in “wiretapping all internet communications at the UN headquarters in NY. Nonetheless, AT&T spokesman Brad Burns says, “We do not voluntarily provide information to any investigating authorities other than if a person’s life is in danger and time is of the essence.” 
Who's Your Daddy? Texas and Arkansas, having lost their battle against same-sex marriage are now fighting a losing battle to keep gay couples from being listed as the legal parents on their children's birth certificate. How many taxpayer dollars will be spent on this snipe hunt?

Asked & Obvious: Have we reached the point of no return in our efforts to warm the planet sufficiently to drown most of our civilization and bake the rest? Yes. Every few years the IPCC comes out with “worst case” predictions and has to begin revising them to “worser cases” within a few months. If you think we can stop it, you are not well informed. Duck and cover.

Rights 'R' Wrong: The entire Republican starting bench embraces one crackpot economic idea or another as the key to prosperity. But it matters little if any political ideas are good or bad, moral or immoral, logically sound or harebrained – what matters is how many people believe in them and will act on that belief. Sad but true. Jebbie, for one, refuses to rule out torture, calling it “a useful tool.” Speaking of useful tools...

Look Out Below: US exports shipped by container fell 5.8% m/m and 29%y/y. Whatever it is we make and grow, they don't seem to want it very much these days. Partly this is the result of the stronger US dollar, which makes our stuff more expensive, but mostly it reflects a shrinking of the market as global economies slow.

Research: Fox, in association with The Donald, has abruptly announced that Megyn Kelly is taking a long-unplanned vacation, effective immediately. Let's hope she is working on a Trump exposé.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

SAR #15227

...eventually commodity prices drop and the whole system collapses.” Gail Tverberg

Chalkboard: The headline read “Low-fat diets beat low-carb diets handily.” This is based on an unrealistic regimen followed by 19 obese people in a laboratory setting 24/7 who, “after six days on each diet” had lost an average of 7.6 ounces more on the low-fat than the low-carb diet. The researchers reported that those on reduced-fat diets tended to burn more calories while they slept. The sex, ethnicity and degree of obesity were not reported. In small print the scientists noted that “Our study suggests it's probably the calories in a diet that matter much more than the carbohydrates or the fat”. But this was not mentioned in the headlines nor on the daily talk shows. Imagine.

Guesswork: In the UK, students might as well guess at the answers to those A-Level tests, because the exam board simply guesses “estimates” their scores anyway. Been doing it for years.

Say/Do: China, denying that a currency war is underway, has devalued the yuan for the third consecutive day. Sure, they are attempting to decrease imports and increase exports, but that's just business.

A Closer Look: First she said, "When in doubt, it must always be the parent's choice."  Then Carly Fiorino, displaying the grasp of data and command of communication with which she led HP into the basement, said that parents can make the choice to not vaccinate their children against “highly communicable diseases” like measles or mumps but have to accept a public school's right to ban their unvaccinated little carriers. But, she insists, parents should have the ability decline “some of these more esoteric immunizations... for a disease that's not communicable” without having the little darlings barred from school, because “there really isn’t any proof that they’re necessary at this point.” Nosireee, Bob. Those esoteric vaccines for non-communicable diseases...

Justice: Chelsa Manning is facing indefinite solitary confinement for reading a magazine and using too much toothpaste. Who needs Guantanamo?

Rosetta Stone: It turns out that the studies of potential gains from the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) predict that US workers would gain about 40 cents a day (their European colleagues would gain about half that). This gains would be “easily dwarfed” by the increased inequality suffered by the great majority of workers. And this is without considering the additional costs from protections for Big Pharma. So it's a “win-whine” situation. 
Out Patients: There are 50 hospitals in the US that charge uninsured patients more than 10 times the actual cost of their care. One of those hospitals is not a for-profit operation.

Civil Rights: The US government says that the pursuit of happiness guaranteed by the Constitution includes the right of the homeless to sleep outside and under bridges.

Porn O'Graph: Where the boys are, and where they came from.