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Economic Statistics for 12 Dec 14

Producer Prices for Final Demand fell -0.2% in November, while prices less food and gas were unchanged. Goods prices fell -0.7% while prices for services rose 0.1%. PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services was also unchanged. The decline in goods prices was led mainly by falling energy prices. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI-FD rose 1.4%, while prices less food and energy rose 1.7% and prices less food, energy & trade services rose 1.6%. Goods prices are up 0.4% and services prices rose 1.9%.

The Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index jumped a full 5 points to 93.8 in December.


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Another AGW myth … gone with the wind

We’ve seen it any number of times.  Whenever there is a weather event, well, the true believers come out of the woodwork to declare it to be the “worst” in umpteen thousand years and, of course, caused by man.  The “Chicken Little” contingent never looks for a more reasonable or scientific explanation, they’ve got their models and their junk science and that’s all they need.  So when California went into a state of extreme drought, what was the claim?  Yup, it was caused by man and his emissions.

One problem with the claim – it’s just not true:

Natural weather patterns, not man-made global warming, are causing the historic drought parching California, says a study out Monday from federal scientists.

“It’s important to note that California’s drought, while extreme, is not an uncommon occurrence for the state,” said Richard Seager, the report’s lead author and professor with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. The report was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report did not appear in a peer-reviewed journal but was reviewed by other NOAA scientists.

“In fact, multiyear droughts appear regularly in the state’s climate record, and it’s a safe bet that a similar event will happen again,” he said.

History!  Go figure. “Not uncommon”.

Not only that, but this important point:

The persistent weather pattern over the past several years has featured a warm, dry ridge of high pressure over the eastern north Pacific Ocean and western North America. Such high-pressure ridges prevent clouds from forming and precipitation from falling.

The study notes that this ridge — which has resulted in decreased rain and snowfall since 2011 — is almost opposite to what computer models predict would result from human-caused climate change.

 

“Almost the opposite of what the computer models predict.”  There’s a surprise.

And the dissenters?

“The authors of the new report would really have us believe that is merely a coincidence and has nothing to do with the impact of human-caused climate change?” Penn State meteorologist Michael Mann wrote Monday in The Huffington Post. “Frankly, I don’t find that even remotely plausible.”

This, coming from the discredited author of the hockey stick effect and a false claim of a Nobel prize is something we should even consider?  His dissent is more “plausible” than the findings of the study? Yeah, not really.  Weather is weather.  Someone should clue Mann into how it works.

While the NOAA study easily refutes the alarmist claim, NOAA, being a government agency, isn’t immune to pushing the AGW myth itself, at least a little:

The NOAA report says midwinter precipitation is projected to increase because of human-caused climate change over most of the state. Seager said a low-pressure system, not a high-pressure system, would probably form off the California coast because of climate change.

Low pressure creates clouds and precipitation.

Yes, you see, “human-caused climate change” is now regional … er, global.  Tell me again how that high pressure ridge came to be there?  Oh, nevermind.  And note, even if you want to believe in AGW, in this case, it would actually be a “good thing”.  Oh, bother.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 11 Dec 14

November retail sales were stronger than expected, rising 0.7% overall, 0.5% less gas, and 0.6% less gas and autos.

Export prices fell -1.0% in November, while import prices fell -1.5%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices are down -1.9% while import prices are down -2.3%.

Business inventories rose 0.2% in October, while business sales fell -0.1%. The stock-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.30.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 3,000 to 294,000. The 4-week average rose 250 to 299,250. Continuing claims rose 142,000 to 2.514 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose points to a seven-year high of 41.3 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.7 billion last week, with total assets of $4.489 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $1.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $35.6 billion in the latest week.


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Politics at its worst (update)

First I’d like to say that my position on torture is well known and not what this post is about.  It’s about intent and timing.  The subject just happens to be torture, or enhanced interrogation techniques, if you prefer.

Secondly, I’d like to point out that we’ve been through this before – this is truly old news.  This has been investigated.  It’s been commented upon and debated.  It is something that anyone who follows the news and politics has been aware of for years.

So why, then, in a lame duck session after which Senate Democrats lose their majority, does an idiot like Sen. Diane Feinstein decide that this is something that must be released now.  What is the utility of this report?  What is the intent of releasing it now?  What positive does a biased report that only casts America in a bad light in the middle of a war bring to the table?

Biased, you say?  How do you know that?  Well here’s a clue:

The outgoing Democratic leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on C.I.A. rendition, detention and interrogation of terrorists in the years following the 9/11 attacks. But here’s a red flag: Not one person who managed or ran the interrogation program was interviewed.

Not one?  So what sort of “report” was it then?  What sort of “investigation” took place?  Again, regardless of your views on “torture” this is pure politics.  And bad politics at that.  It is a smear dressed up as something to take seriously.

Why does it matter? Because the way this “report” was generated colors the notional facts it professes to share. Many of the “revelations” of C.I.A. techniques and black sites are old hat to most. Some approve; others don’t. Fair enough, and in a democracy, such a debate is worthy. The larger challenge comes in determining the efficacy of these techniques. Opponents insist (fueled less by fact and more by their sense of righteousness) that enhanced interrogation doesn’t work. So claims the outgoing chairman, of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein.

Here is the problem: Her claim is false. And taken in conjunction with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s unwillingness to interview the targets of their critique, one can only assume that much of the rest of the document is also tainted.

When you dig down to the very bottom of it, you realize its written to support a narrative.  It is the same sort of garbage we have seen in the Rolling Stone story about the rape at U Va.  As with this report, the “journalist” involved never interviewed anyone who might shed a different sort of light on the rape story. She never verified much of anything.  It was all about supporting a narrative.

Rape is bad.  Yes, it is.  We all accept and understand that.  But false and embellished accusations are bad too.  That’s what no one ever seems to say on the “rape is bad” narrative side of the house.  Additionally, there are two sides to every story – and if you want to report factually, you include both sides.  If you’re interested in pushing a narrative, then you don’t.

Hiawatha Bray sums up today’s journalism rather nicely and it applies to this biased piece of garbage Feinstein’s committee produced as well.

What’s wrong with journalism? Lots of stuff. But this is one of the worst features of our industry. All too many of us approach stories with preconceived “narratives.” What matters is not what’s actually going on; it’s whether a particular event gives us the chance to tell some story we already want to tell. If the story is that frat boys are incorrigible rapists, that’s how the story gets spun. What actually happened is of secondary importance. And that’s how we can get a student journalist–contra an earlier draft, I’m not sure she’s actually a journalism major–who can say without embarrassment that the facts of a story are not all that important. This is scary stuff. The only thing we have to offer as journalists–the only thing that’s worth a twopenny damn–is accurate, trustworthy information. If the facts in our stories can’t be relied upon, then those stories are worthless, regardless of what “noble cause” they’re designed to advance. To me it seems horrifying that it’s necessary to explain this.

It is the same story with this report that Feinstein, et. al, have decided must be published now.  Old news, repackaged, biased to come to a particular conclusion and intended, apparently, to embarrass the US.  Not to mention it is something which will further endanger our military in a time of war. And, of course, provide wonderful propaganda and recruiting material for our enemies (who, per some reports, are already using it).  And then there are the useful idiots who will revel in this diminishing of the country’s image.

How this helps the US is beyond my comprehension I guess.  It is something we’ve confronted and dealt with years ago.  The country is divided over the use of certain “techniques”.  And, we’ve seen a Democratic majority in government for 6 years who had the ability to ensure that whatever they believed about such use of these techniques was curtailed or eliminated.  What was the utility of this report except, as a friend of mine said, a willful “eff you” by the outgoing Senate majority?

Just when you think this sort of politics can’t get any worse … it does.

UPDATE:  Well, of course.  Feinstein’s “mission accomplished”:

A United Nations human rights official is calling for individuals who carried out, planned or authorized abusive practices against al-Qaeda detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 to be put on trial, saying the U.S. was obliged under international law to bring those responsible to justice.”

He also warned Tuesday that perpetrators could be prosecuted anywhere in the world, noting that “torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction.”

Meanwhile the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of a declassified portion of a report on CIA interrogation and detention programs was insufficient, calling for the full 6,000 page report to be released, and for “accountability” for those who overstepped the mark.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 9 Dec 14

The NFIB’s small business optimism index jumped 2.0 points in November to 98.1, the highest since February 2007.

Wholesale inventories rose 0.4% in October, while a 0.2% rise in sales left the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged for a third month at 1.19. 

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly chain store sales fell -1.5%, and rose a weak 2.9% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook also reports retail sales were weak, up only 3.9% on a year-ago basis, down -0.9% from last week.


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Like I said … the “stupid party”

They can always find a way to turn an advantage into a disadvantage.

The GOP’s draft 2015 “omnibus” spending bill reportedly includes $948 million to help poor and unskilled Central American migrants establish themselves in the United States, but includes no effective restrictions on President Barack Obama’s plan to provide work permits and tax payments to millions of resident illegal immigrants.

That new spending works out to $16,928 for each of the 56,000 youths, young adults and children who crossed the border during the 12 months up to October 2014.

Another apt adjective is “spineless”.

The GOP leadership has given merely lip service to supporting the opposition among GOP legislators and much of the public to Obama’s welcome for foreign migrants, and is now refusing to direct the Department of Homeland Security not to spend any funds on implementing the Obama amnesty.

Instead, the leadership, led by House Speaker John Boehner, drafted a bill imposing a 60-day spending limit for Obama’s immigration agencies.

The planned 60-day spending limit is largely symbolic, because the most important immigration agency can operate on fees paid by the illegals.

“Leadership is basically giving in to every facet of Obama’s amnesty. We’re giving up an astonishing amount of leverage on every issue imaginable,” said one Hill aide.

Useless, ineffective, spineless and stupid.  That’s no way to go through life, for most.  Wonder how the GOP faithful, who pretty forcefully made their desires known, feel about this group now?

~McQ

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Special snowflake students pwn Columbia into postponing law finals

In this era of absolutely absurd stories there’s this … frankly, it should be an Onion story, but it’s not – it’s real:

Columbia University has allowed law school students who feel they suffered trauma from two high-profile grand jury decisions to postpone taking their final exams, the school’s interim dean Robert Scott wrote in a message to students this weekend.

“The law school has a policy and set of procedures for students who experience trauma during exam period,” reads Scott’s message, according to the blog PowerLine.

“In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” Scott continued, citing a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown in August as well as a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a chokehold which killed 43-year-old Eric Garner in July.

Both cases have sparked heavy protests, as both officers are white while both Brown and Garner are black.

“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” the message says.

“For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”

Oh my goodness.  This is just freakin’ sad.  These little special snowflakes are traumatized by these events.  So, Columbia makes concessions to them because they’ve set up a policy that likely pertains to family situations and that has been used to claim trauma in general.  What’s next claims of PTSD?  And what do you suppose the percentage of students allegedly traumatized vs. students who will claim anything to postpone an exam?  Pwned.

Consider this though, what will the real world do when one of these duffuses claims trauma when he or she loses a law suit?  Well certainly not this:

The school will be holding special sessions next week with trauma specialist Dr. Shirley Matthews, Scott announced. Several faculty members have also agreed to hold special office hours to discuss the implications of the grand juries’ decisions.

The school will set up a reading group, speaker series and teach-ins next semester to “formulate a response to the implications, including racial meanings, of these non-indictments.”

And here these folks thought the legal and judicial systems were perfect.  How will they ever cope?  In the real world they’d hear “suck it up, buttercup, and grow up!”  But of course, academia has set itself up for years for stupidity like this … and now they have it.

Nauseating.  Btw, if they’re this fragile make sure you don’t hire a Columbia law school grad for your lawyer.  He or she will likely have to undergo trauma care if they take your case, and you’ll likely be billed for it.

~McQ

 

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