Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Global cooling? But the “science” is settled!

Not according to a new British study:

new study out of the United Kingdom predicts the Earth is about to go through a major climatic shift that could mean decades of cooler temperatures and fewer hurricanes hitting the United States.

Scientists at the University of Southampton predict that a cooling of the Atlantic Ocean could cool global temperatures a half a degree Celsius and may offer a “brief respite from the persistent rise of global temperatures,” according to their study.

This cooling phase in the Atlantic will influence “temperature, rainfall, drought and even the frequency of hurricanes in many regions of the world,” says Dr. Gerard McCarthy. The study’s authors based their results on ocean sensor arrays and 100 years of sea-level data.

Got to love the attempt of these people to try to conform their findings to the current “conventional wisdom” of the alarmist crowd, i.e. we’re heating up – despite the fact there has been no increase in global temperatures for 15 plus years.  They claim this will give us a “brief respite” from something that hasn’t been happening.

“Sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic vary between warm and cold over time-scales of many decades,” said McCarthy, the study’s lead author. “This decadal variability, called the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), is a notable feature of the Atlantic Ocean and the climate of the regions it influences.”

“The observations of [AMO] from [sensor arrays], over the past ten years, show that it is declining,” Dr. David Smeed, a co-author, said in a statement. “As a result, we expect the AMO is moving to a negative phase, which will result in cooler surface waters. This is consistent with observations of temperature in the North Atlantic.”

Researchers argue that a negative AMO will bring “drier summers in Britain and Ireland, accelerated sea-level rise along the northeast coast of the United States, and drought in the developing countries of the Sahel region,” according to the study’s press release. Interestingly enough, the study also predicts fewer hurricanes hitting the U.S.– a result of a cooler Atlantic.

Oh, you mean natural forces at work?  Well maybe the environment isn’t as sensitive to a trace “greenhouse” gas as some would like us to believe.

And this:

For years, scientists have been debating why satellite temperature data shows there have been about 18 years with no warming trend. Surface temperature data shows a similar pause in warming for the last 10 to 15 years.

So far, the dominant explanation seems to be that oceans have absorbed a lot of the heat that would have otherwise gone into the atmosphere. And most scientists argue the world will continue warming because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

But it’s not, is it?  Maybe, as we’ve been saying for years, it’s that big, hot yellow thing that hangs in the sky everyday and alarmists continue to ignore as a major factor in climate change:

Some scientists, however, have been arguing the world is indeed headed for a cooling phase based on solar cycles. Scientists from Germany to India have argued that weakening solar activity could bring about another “Little Ice Age.”

“The stagnation of temperature since 1998 was caused by decreasing solar activity since 1998,” wrote Jürgen Lange Heine, a physicist with the German-based European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE).

And:

“From 1900 to 1998, solar radiation increased by 1.3 W / m², but since 1998 it has diminished, and could reach values ​​similar to those of the early 20th century. A drop in global temperature over the next few years is predicted,” Heine wrote.

Imagine that.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 29 May 15

The final revision of 1st Quarter 2015 GDP came in at -0.7%, while the GDP Price Index fell -0.1%.

Corporate profits in the 1st Quarter of 2015 came in at $1.894 trillion, up 2.7% from the prior quarter.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index fell sharply to 46.2 in May from 52.3.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose from 88.6 to 90.7 in May.


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This and that

Apparently the Orange County school district (Florida/Orlando) has plans to  monitor students’ social media messages in an effort to curb cyberbullying, crime on campus and suicide.  Because, you know, that’s what they’re there for:

Orange County Public Schools announced Thursday that it has acquired software to monitor social media “to proactively prevent, intervene and (watch) situations that may impact students and staff.”  The district has obtained an annual license with SnapTrends, software that monitors Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

The district said it plans to use the software to conduct routine monitoring for the purposes of prevention or early intervention of potential issues in which students or staff could be at risk to themselves or to others.

OCPS said the company will assist district law enforcement and security personnel in monitoring publicly available social media communications that are relevant to school operations and personnel.

“This is a tool that gives the district intelligence into a situation that could possibly prevent something more serious from happening,” Orange County Public Schools Senior Director of Safety and Security Doug Tripp said.

“Safety in and around school campuses is the top priority for Orange County school leaders,” OCPS said in a news release.  “Recognizing social media is a major communication system, the district has acquired social media monitoring software.”

School officials acknowledge the online snooping might raise privacy questions. But board member Linda Kobert said the district is taking advantage of “new tools to protect our children.”

Might raise some privacy questions?  Well, social media are indeed made up of public postings.  But let me ask you a more important question?  Is this a role for a school district?  Or is this another example of a creeping bureaucratic mission?  And what will the school district do with any information it gleans from its “monitoring?”

Note again, that we have a public official putting “safety” over supposed privacy concerns.  Oh, and btw, do you suppose that potential or real cyber-bullies don’t know how to set up fake accounts?  And is this a good use of school funds with the literacy problems most public school districts face?  The questions are endless.

Some people feel they have to take everything to an extreme.  Why, I’m not sure.  And I’m also pretty sure I think this particular extreme is both unnecessary and provocative.  If there’s trouble, will it rise to the level of “incitement”?

Jon Ritzheimer is a former Marine, and he has no middle ground when it comes to Islam.

A T-shirt he wears pretty much says it all: “F— Islam.”

Ritzheimer is the organizer of Friday’s “Freedom of Speech Rally” outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix.

It’s the mosque that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofiattended for a time. They’re the men who drove from Arizona to a Dallas suburb to shoot up a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest there. Both were killed by police early this month.

Many Muslims consider any depiction of Mohammed to be blasphemous and banned by the Islamic holy book, the Quran.

“This is in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist(s), with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad,” the event’s Facebook page said.

Some 600 people say they’re attending.

It is one thing to hold an event in another part of the state and end up being attacked by people/terrorists who chose to travel there and do so.  It is another thing to go to a group’s home and intentionally antagonize and invite an attack by showing up uninvited and attempting to provoke a response.

Other reports have said the group will be heavily armed, quoting Ritzheimer as saying they are going to exercise their First Amendment rights and back them with their Second Amendment rights.

I support both rights, but I think this is foolish, stupid and deliberately antagonistic as well as being unnecessary.  The point has been made.  It will continue to be made.  But this is not the right way to make it again.

Nice economic growth we had in the first quarter, no?  Apparently adjustments have seen the reported GDP numbers fall from 0.2 growth to a 0.7 contraction.  Economists want to argue that its just the way the government computes this stuff:

Economists, however, caution against reading too much into the slump in output. They argue the GDP figure for the first quarter was held down by a confluence of temporary factors, including a problem with the model the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal fluctuations.

Economists, including those at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, have cast doubts on the accuracy of GDP estimates for the first quarter, which have tended to show weakness over the last several years.

They argued the so-called seasonal adjustment is not fully stripping out seasonal patterns, leaving “residual” seasonality. The government said last week it was aware of the potential problem and was working to minimize it.

I’m sorry, boys and girls, since when is 0.2 growth in any quarter “good news”.  Its sort of like the unemployment figures.  Mostly fudged.  And apparently that’s precisely what the government will now attempt to do to show better numbers.  These bad numbers just don’t help the government tell you how well it’s doing, do they?  What’s this, our 6th or 7th “summer of recovery?”

Excellent Kevin D. Williamson article about the old and discredited ideas of Bernie Sanders, which he ends with a caution that we should all understand by now:

Senator Sanders may insist on living in the dark ages, and his view is not without its partisans. But those views are crude, they are backward, and they are, objectively speaking, incorrect about the way the economic world works. They are barely a step above superstition, and they merit consideration for only one reason: “Voters — all they gotta be is eighteen.”

And if they’re illegal, the Democrats say, “meh”.

Meanwhile in liberal bastions, things are just going swimmingly.  Detroit:

No getting around it: Filling up your gas tank at certain stations in Detroit can be hazardous to your health.

Police Chief James Craig said at a Tuesday media conference that he’d avoid getting gas late at night in the city unless he had to, and he urged residents to be careful at the pump, according to Tom Greenwood of The Detroit News.

“I wouldn’t, but if I had to, I would,” Craig said. “But I’d probably be very aware of my surroundings.”

Craig’s commented after a driver was killed early Monday evening while trying to flee a carjacking attempt at an east-side gas station.

A wasteland run by Democrats for decades.

Baltimore:

Baltimore was seeing a slight rise in homicides this year even before Gray’s death April 19. But the 38 homicides so far in May is a major spike, after 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.

With one weekend still to go, May 2015 is already the deadliest month in 15 years, surpassing the November 1999 total of 36.

Ten of May’s homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year.

Non-fatal shootings are spiking as well – 91 so far in May, 58 of them in the Western District.

The mayor said her office is “examining” the relationship between the homicide spike and the dwindling arrest rate.

I’m sure they are “examining” it – and they’ll likely conclude its a matter of racism at some level.  While she is “examining” the relationship, she should ponder the statistic that says child victims of shootings are up 500% this year.  Well done!

NYC:

While overall crime is down almost seven percent, shootings are up 7.1 percent so far this year. Murders are up 15.3 percent. Even with the increase, it’s a much lower number than the 1980s and 1990s.

The mayor blames it on gangs.  Why have gangs again become a problem?

Of course each of these cities can look to the midwest and say, “hey, at least we’re not Chicago.”

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 28 May 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -1.6% last week, with purchases up 1.0% and refis down -4.0%.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth continued to fall, down  to 1.6% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.8%.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 7,000 to 282,000. The 4-week average rose 5,000 to 271,500. Continuing claims rose 11,000 to 2.222 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index continues to fall, down -1.5 points to 40.9 in the latest week.

The Pending Home Sales Index jumped an unexpectedly large 3.4% to 112.4. The index is up 14.0% on a year-over-year basis.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-16.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.464 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-5.0 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $27.0 billion in the latest week.


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L.A. Unions: “It’s good for thee, but not me”

You can’t make this stuff up.  It is a story that the Onion should be writing, but instead, we see it in the LA Times.  You’ve read about the new $15 minimum wage the city is imposing on employers?  And  you’ve also likely heard that unions were big backers of its imposition.

Well, now that the new minimum wage has passed, guess who wants an exemption?

Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces.

The push to include an exception to the mandated wage increase for companies that let their employees collectively bargain was the latest unexpected detour as the city nears approval of its landmark legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

For much of the past eight months, labor activists have argued against special considerations for business owners, such as restaurateurs, who said they would have trouble complying with the mandated pay increase.

But Rusty Hicks, who heads the county Federation of Labor and helps lead the Raise the Wage coalition, said Tuesday night that companies with workers represented by unions should have leeway to negotiate a wage below that mandated by the law.

Have you got that last part?  Unions should have the leeway to negotiate a wage below the mandated minimum wage.

Why?

“With a collective bargaining agreement, a business owner and the employees negotiate an agreement that works for them both. The agreement allows each party to prioritize what is important to them,” Hicks said in a statement. “This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing.”

Apparently only unions can do that sort of negotiation.  The other dumb proles out there in fast food land, for instance, need the benevolent hand of government to mandate them out of a job.

The irony of that union boob’s statement is classic.  Other than the minimum wage law, what would stand in the way of any business and any employee from doing that routinely on their own? Oh, yeah, nothing … well, except that absurd law, now.

But you have to hand it too the unions for having the absolute big brass ones to put this out there.  They recognize the win-win nature of those sorts of negotiations – negotiations that in a free country would be unhampered by government interference.  But they want to limit them … to themselves.

They also want a little political payback and a decided advantage when competing against non-unionized companies who might bid on jobs they want.

Cronyism?

Big. Brassy. Bold.

And they don’t even try to hide it anymore.

~McQ

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Someone, anyone, give Bernie Sanders an economics book

I’ve been reading about Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders announcing for the presidency.  In reality all he’s likely to do is make Hillary seem “moderate” in comparison.

I guess what I don’t understand is why someone like Sanders is even taken seriously.  Read Ed Driscoll at Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal“:

And despite Clinton’s great strength, [Sanders is] also perhaps the most credible seriously lefty candidate in living memory. He’s no Dennis Kucinich, doomed to become a figure of fun.

Really?  When have any “lefty candidates” of his pedigree been “credible”?  Socialism?  It’s now credible?  Where?

Venezuela’s bolivar is collapsing. And as night follows day, Venezuela’s annual implied inflation rate is soaring. Last week, the annual inflation rate broke through the 500% level. It now stands at 510%.

That’s just the latest example.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg there.  The Bolivar is now more valuable as toilet paper (something that is impossible to get in the Socialist paradise of Venezuela) than money.

And now this “credible” socialist wants to take us down the very same path:

In his campaign “launch” yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders presented one of the most succinct, easy-to-summarize policy agendas we’ve seen from a presidential candidate in a long time. More progressive taxes. Breaking up the big banks. A constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. A carbon tax. A single-payer health care system. Expanding Social Security. Universal pre-k. Free college tuition. A trillion-dollar infrastructure program. A $15 an hour minimum wage. And a reversal of international economic policies that promote/allow job exports.

“Free” health care, “free” tuition, “free” pre-k, $15 minimum wage, more taxes to include a carbon tax, anti-capitalist laws to cripple the producers and spending of a trillion dollars on “infrastructure” (didn’t we just do that a few years ago?).  This is “credible?”  He is “credible?”  In what universe?

Would someone please, please send Sen. Sanders a freaking book on economics?

Oh, and Ed Driscoll too.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 26 May 15

Declining aircraft sales pushed April durable goods orders down -0.5%, but ex-transportation orders rose 0.5%.

The FHFA house price index rose a lower-than-expected 0.3% in March. The index is up 5.2% on a year-over-year basis.

In contrast to FHFA, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price index rose 1.0% in March, but is still at a similar 5.0% year-on-year gain. 

The May PMI Services Index flash from Markit fell -1.4 points from April’s final, coming in at 56.4.

New home sales bounced back strongly in April, with a 6.8% increase to a 517,000 annual rate.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose 0.2 points to 95.4 in May.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index is still soft, but rose into positive territory in May, rising from -3 to 1.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index rose 6. points in May, to 120.8.

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey continued to decline in May, falling -6.8 points to -20.8, while the production index fell from -4.7 to -13.5.


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Amnesty injunction upheld

A win for the rule of law:

A federal appeals court upheld an injunction against President Obama’s new deportation in a ruling Tuesday that marks the second major legal setback for an administration that had insisted its actions were legal.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of Texas, which had sued to stop the amnesty, on all key points, finding that Mr. Obama’s amnesty likely broke the law governing how big policies are to be written.

“The public interest favors maintenance of the injunction,” the judges wrote in the majority opinion.

So, uh, “no” to rule by executive order seem pretty apparent.  Also, the court noted those who opposed, or at least the one dissenting judge did:

“The political nature of this dispute is clear from the names on the briefs: hundreds of mayors, police chiefs, sheriffs, attorneys general, governors, and state legislators—not to mention 185 members of Congress, 15 states and the District of Columbia on the one hand, and 113 members of Congress and 26 states on the other,” he wrote.

Or, just about everyone else in America.

The dissenting justice felt it should be left between the President and Congress.

Well, now it is.

Before it was decree by executive order. So, in essence, the dissenting justice got what he wanted, even though he apparently doesn’t realize it.

~McQ

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