Author Archive

Double-digit oil promises lubrication not seizure

September 10, 2014
posted by

Reuters
by Ian Campbell  

"Double-digit oil is a welcome sign, not a harbinger of deflationary doom. The decline of the price of a barrel of Brent crude to just below $100, down 13 percent from its June peak, is good disinflation. It will help consumer spending and global economic recovery. High oil prices have been a harmful side effect of extraordinary monetary medicine. The U.S. Federal Reserve launched its second round of quantitative easing in November 2010. A matter of months later the oil price had risen by over 40 percent, and has averaged $110 a barrel since the beginning of 2011." (09/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/kbe9j4t  

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Tesla’s Musk: Self-driving cars just around corner

September 10, 2014
posted by

Raw Story    

"US electric car maker Tesla is developing technology that could see vehicles run on 'full auto pilot' in as little as five or six years, according to its chief executive Elon Musk. The colourful entrepreneur said his firm was stepping on the accelerator in the race against rivals such as Google and Volvo to create a driverless car, which could revolutionise the road by drastically cutting mortality rates. 'The overall system and software will be programmed by Tesla, but we will certainly use sensors and subcomponents from many companies,' Musk told reporters in Tokyo Monday. 'I think in the long term, all Tesla cars will have auto-pilot capability,'" (09/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oef4we3  

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Obama on immigration: Deja vu on didn’t do?

September 10, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle
by Debra J. Saunders  

"President Obama has moved from being disingenuous on immigration to downright undecipherable. Earlier this year, the administration promised a groundbreaking executive action on immigration before summer's end. Over the weekend, aides announced that the big new change essentially won't happen until after the election. ... What Obama couldn't quite say is that, if he further undermines immigration law, the Democrats will lose the Senate. And he couldn't exactly blame Republicans for his decision to not act as promised. Ergo, gobbledygook." (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/oq27eyw  

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PA: Philadelphia schools settle lawsuit over beards

September 10, 2014
posted by

Fox News    

"The Philadelphia School District has settled a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit that accused school administrators of discriminating against an employee who said he couldn't trim his beard for religious reasons. The Philadelphia Daily News reports the lawsuit was settled Monday. The March lawsuit was prompted by an October 2010 policy preventing school police and security officers from having beards more than a quarter of an inch long. The Justice Department says the policy discriminated against a Muslim officer and others by failing to accommodate their religious beliefs." (09/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pn68wzq  

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Could Scottish independence set off cascade of secession?

September 10, 2014
posted by

The American Prospect
by Robert Kuttner  

"Until recently, few people took seriously the possibility that Scotland might actually secede from the United Kingdom. However, with a referendum scheduled for September 18, the latest polls show secession in the lead for the first time, and gaining dramatic momentum. The British government is frantically scrambling to offer the Scots a much more autonomous form of federalism, to head off the drive for full independence. Meanwhile, the specter of a diminished Britain has led to speculative attack against the British pound. What's going on here?" (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/mx3ehhy  

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Report: Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984

September 10, 2014
posted by

BBC News [UK state media]    

"A surge in atmospheric CO2 saw levels of greenhouse gases reach record levels in 2013, according to new figures. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 grew at their fastest rate since 1984. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that it highlights the need for a global climate treaty. But the UK's energy secretary Ed Davey said that any such agreement might not contain legally binding emissions cuts, as has been previously envisaged." [editor's note: We note that only in more recent times has CO2 has been considered a "greenhouse gas" and not just part of the symbiotic plant/human respiratory cycle - SAT] (09/09/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29115845  

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The tamale underground

September 10, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Rebecca Burns  

"Each afternoon in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, 70-year-old Cuala resumes her quiet game of cat-and-mouse with police. After spending a few hours openly hawking cool drinks or hot chocolates from a cart, the street vendor (who declined to give her last name because of legal concerns) stocks an unmarked cooler with tamales, making furtive lunch sales to customers in the know. The stealth tactic reduces her profits, but lessens the chance that she will be arrested and ticketed: While the sale of drinks and packaged desserts is legal, street vendors like Cuala are prohibited from selling prepared foods in Chicago." (09/08/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17146/the_tamale_underground  

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Japan, Germany shake off WWII arms constraints

September 9, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor    

"Nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, Germany and Japan are finally loosening the last of the bonds that the victorious allied powers tied to limit their military ambitions. Germany, for the first time, is sending lethal weapons to irregular forces in a war zone -- arming the Kurdish peshmerga against Islamic State fighters. On the other side of the world Japan, easing decades-old restrictions on arms exports, is in negotiations to sell submarines to Australia and sea-planes to India." (09/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ookn393  

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Their technology outstripped their maturity

September 9, 2014
posted by

The Nation
by Tom Tomorrow  

Cartoon. [editor's note: Now that there is funny! - SAT] (09/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qexw8qx  

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“Close call” with asteroid over weekend raises concerns

September 9, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle    

"An asteroid, undetected until a week ago, sped closely past Earth on Sunday, serving as a warning that hidden and dangerous objects exist in space that could just as conceivably hit the planet and cause catastrophic destruction, a scientist said. The big chunk of rock, which came within 25,000 miles from Earth, was discovered Aug. 31 as it flew over New Zealand in its long orbit around the sun." (09/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qyxfvwy  

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Morgan Stanley to pay $95 million in mortgage debt settlement

September 9, 2014
posted by

Reuters    

"Morgan Stanley has agreed to pay $95 million to resolve a lawsuit accusing the Wall Street bank of misleading investors in mortgage-backed securities in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis. The settlement, disclosed in court papers filed Monday in New York federal court, follows years of litigation by investors over allegedly false and misleading statements over the soured securities. The deal stemmed from a lawsuit pursued by the Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi and the West Virginia Investment Management Board." (09/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p3285uy  

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NY: The importance of Zephyr Teachout

September 9, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Robert Borosage  

"Zephyr Teachout is slated today to lose the New York Democratic primary for governor to incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Many voters will be seeing her memorable name for the first time when they cast their vote. She has run a shoestring campaign against a powerful, lavishly funded governor who refused to debate her. But whatever the outcome, her campaign has already had dramatic significance for progressives across the country. Teachout is a law professor at Fordham and a national expert on the deeply corrosive influence of big money in our politics. Her new book, Corruption in America, provides a probing analysis of the history and concept of corruption in American politics and law." [editor's note: Is it just me, or does that name sound more like something out of Douglas Adams ... or maybe Vonnegut? - SAT] [additional editor's note: My first thought was Thomas Pynchon - TLK] (09/09/14)

http://tinyurl.com/pf7m29q  

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Afghanistan: Abdullah rejects election outcome

September 9, 2014
posted by

Fox News    

"Abdullah Abdullah, one of two contenders for Afghanistan's presidency, said Monday that he will not accept the expected outcome of the election's second round and that talks with his opponent to form a national unity government are deadlocked. Abdullah said he believes he won both times that Afghans voted this year (in April and again in a July runoff) and he accused election authorities of giving the win to his opponent, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. The country's election commission is expected to announce the second-round results later this week following a weeks-long audit process carried out to weed out the many fraudulent ballots cast." (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ngmnsrv  

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UK: Scotland independence vote tightens

September 9, 2014
posted by

Christian Science Monitor    

"The British government has been shocked into action by a surprise poll over the weekend that revealed a slim majority of Scots planning to vote for independence. 'Ten days to save the Union with Scotland,' headlines the Telegraph. 'UK scrambles to promise more powers if Scots reject independence,' writes Reuters. The pound fell to a ten-month low against the dollar on the news. Now will average Brit start to care too? Until now, they haven’t seemed to pay much attention to the historic referendum taking place Sept. 18." (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/np6xbnz  

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Report: CIA tortured suspects to “the point of death”

September 9, 2014
posted by

Raw Story    

"The CIA tortured Al-Qaeda suspects 'to the point of death' by drowning them in water-filled baths, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported on Monday, ahead of the publication of a US Senate report on interrogation techniques. The paper quoted one security source as saying the torture of at least two suspects, including the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, went far beyond the waterboarding admitted by the Central Intelligence Agency. 'They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth,' the paper quoted the source as saying, adding: 'They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far.'” (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ofbrflp  

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“Pivotal moment” for movement to remove big $$$ from politics

September 9, 2014
posted by

The Nation
by John Nichols  

"The Senate will wrangle this week over whether to amend the Constitution to allow citizens and their representatives to organize elections where votes matter more than dollars. The amendment that is being considered is a consequential, if relatively constrained, proposal, which focuses on core money in political concerns but which does not go as far as many Americans would like when it comes to establishing that money is not speech, corporations are not people and elections should not be up for sale to the highest bidder." [editor's note: As long as "politics" involves wielding power over every aspect of our lives, this quest is only delusional - SAT] (09/07/14)

http://tinyurl.com/ordgbql  

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Trojan hobby horse

September 9, 2014
posted by

In These Times
by Chris Lehmann  

"Via the wondrous alchemy of our Supreme Court, the American corporation has, like Pinocchio, sprung into full-fledged life -- in this case, as a campaign-funding, spiritually discerning caretaker of the national agenda. Not long after the egregious 2010 Citizens United ruling vested corporations with free-speech rights, the Roberts court discovered (mirabile dicta!) that private companies could take principled religious exception to the 2010 Affordable Care Act's provisions for the funding of the reproductive choice. We tend to think of this animatronic line of legal reasoning as something novel. But the legal fiction of a corporation as a living, breathing homo sapiens is a restrained chapter in our justice system’s deferential handling of business combines." (09/08/14)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17057/trojan_hobby_horse  

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Schumer’s ex post facto tax slavery proposal would target earnings stripping

September 9, 2014
posted by

Reuters    

"The No. 3 U.S. Senate Democrat has circulated a draft proposal to crack down on U.S. companies that invert, or merge with foreign competitors to get lower tax rates, and it would apply to deals as far back as 1994. The plan developed by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York would reduce the incentives for companies to invert, according to a draft document that Reuters viewed. Schumer's plan, which he has not formally introduced and which could still change, would curb the use of a strategy used by inverted companies and known as earnings stripping." (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/p8e4rk8  

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End of the border crisis as we know it?

September 9, 2014
posted by

The New Republic
by Danny Vinik  

"Remember the border crisis? That’s the emergency at the Southwest border, where thousands of unaccompanied minors came into the U.S., mainly from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Turns out, it might not be that big of a crisis anymore. The Department of Homeland Security released new figures on the number of apprehensions along the Southwest border Monday and the numbers continue to plummet, for both unaccompanied children and adults with children. 'In July the numbers of unaccompanied children were about half of what they were in June,' DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. 'August was even lower -- lower than August 2013 and the lowest since February 2013.'” (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o9ee382  

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Study: Babies who sleep on animal skins less likely to develop asthma

September 9, 2014
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle    

"A new study unveiled last week at the European Respiratory Society International Congress took a close look at data collected from 2,441 German children and found that babies who sleep on animal fur such as sheepskins in the first three months have a decreased risk for asthma at age 10. These kids are also less likely to have hay fever and wheezing, according to Time.com. The research is part of a growing group of studies supporting the 'hygiene hypothesis,' which suggests that children exposed to germs are less likely to have illnesses such as asthma and allergies. The theory is that parasites, bacteria, and viruses help stimulate and strengthen the immune system." [editor's note: One might see this as obvious, based merely on experience of different generations - SAT] (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/qfrgh6v  

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No, Dems can’t win back the House … not just yet

September 9, 2014
posted by

The American Prospect
by Paul Waldman  

"What it boils down to is that while the post-2010 redistricting dominated by Republicans didn't help Democrats' prospects of taking back the House, the real problem for them lies in the way the two party's voters are distributed throughout the country. Democrats are more concentrated in cities, where many of their votes are essentially surplus; if all it takes to make a district an iron-clad lock for your party is something like a 65 percent majority, having a 90 percent majority doesn't do you any more good. Republicans, on the other hand, are distributed much more efficiently; they have almost no districts with that near-unanimous majority, but lots with safe majorities...." [editor's note: If Dems were smart enough to learn basic economics, they'd capture a lot of GOPer votes, where basic issues of liberty still matter - SAT] (09/07/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o2joc6j  

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Israel: Police bust “messianic” prostitution ring

September 8, 2014
posted by

BBC News [UK state media]    

"Details have emerged from Israel about a prostitution ring in which Jewish women were allegedly forced into having sex with non-Jews by a messianic sect. Two men and two women are being detained on suspicion of exploitation. Police say the victims were brainwashed into believing that having sex with non-Jews would 'save the Jewish people and bring about redemption.' They were also made to become dependent on alcohol and drugs, and have sex under their influence, police say." [editor's note: Say what? When did BBC become the Onion? - SAT] (09/08/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29110334  

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The Fed finds an America deeply divided

September 8, 2014
posted by

Our Future
by Sam Pizzigati  

"Every three years, America’s Federal Reserve Board surveys just how well the nation’s families are doing economically. The Fed takes this surveying seriously. We’re not talking quickie public opinion polling here, several hundred dinner-time phone calls that last a few minutes each. The over 6,000 interviews the Fed conducts for its Survey of Consumer Finances usually run for an hour and a half, and most get conducted in person. These interviews delve into every aspect of our modern economic existence, from monthly car payments to mutual funds." (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/o8v9jmp  

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Chinese leader’s “reforms” = bad news for Hong Kong

September 8, 2014
posted by

Reuters
by Ian Bremmer  

"In 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to China after some 150 years of colonial rule. In exchange, China agreed to a set of principles: Hong Kong would maintain its capitalist system for half a century, by which point its chief executive and members of the legislature would be elected by universal suffrage. As the thinking went, 'one country, two systems' would suffice in the interim; Hong Kong and the Mainland would surely converge on democracy in the half-century to come. Not so fast. Recently, Beijing has been systematically moving in the other direction." (09/08/14)

http://tinyurl.com/nqsg9dn  

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Russia to reopen Northern Fleet base in Arctic

September 8, 2014
posted by

BBC News [UK state media]    

"Russia has dispatched a group of ships from its Northern Fleet to the Arctic, with the aim of restoring a permanent base in the region, Russia media say. A detachment including two amphibious vessels and an anti-submarine ship set off from the fleet's base in Severomorsk, near the Norwegian border. It will take equipment and personnel to the eastern New Siberian Islands. Russia is boosting its naval presence in the Arctic as regional powers seek to claim its rich natural resources." (09/06/14)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29094586  

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