Following a nearly 2 day long standoff, the suspected Jewish school shooter has died during a 30 hour shoot out with French police, after falling out of a window. Guardian has some more details:"The French interior minister, Claude Guéant, has confirmed that Merah is dead and paid tribute to the police who conducted the raid... "Last night, our last contact with the killer showed us just how dangerous he was. This morning the decision was taken to intervene," said Guéant.... Guéant adds that Merah burst out of the bathroom as video surveillance equipment approached. He began firing with extreme ferocity." And from Fox News: "The suspect in an radical Islam-linked killing spree in southern France was killed after police raided his apartment to end a 30-hour standoff, the AFP reported, citing police sources. Mohamed Merah, holed up in an apartment in the southern city of Toulouse, has not contacted negotiators since Wednesday night. Reuters reported that explosions and gunfire were heard for about four minutes as police special forces moved in on the apartment. Authorities used gas to try and paralyze the suspect, the report said."
Forget China - now this is a hard landing. Because what's $20 million in taxpayer funded equipment between soldiers: LTRO 1+2 alone were like 650 of these...
How did we get here? An argument can be made that miscalculation, accident, inattention and the like are why things go bad. Those elements do have a role, but it is minor. Potential catastrophe across the board can't be the result of happenstance. When things go wrong on a grand scale, it's not just bad luck or inadvertence. It's because of serious character flaws in one or many – or even all – of the players. So is there a root cause of all the problems I've cited? If we can find it, it may tell us how we personally can best respond to the problems. In this article, I'm going to argue that the US government, in particular, is being overrun by the wrong kind of person. It's a trend that's been in motion for many years but has now reached a point of no return. In other words, a type of moral rot has become so prevalent that it's institutional in nature. There is not going to be, therefore, any serious change in the direction in which the US is headed until a genuine crisis topples the existing order. Until then, the trend will accelerate. The reason is that a certain class of people – sociopaths – are now fully in control of major American institutions. Their beliefs and attitudes are insinuated throughout the economic, political, intellectual and psychological/spiritual fabric of the US.
- So much for that: Obama to fast track southern portion of Keystone XL Pipeline (1600 Report)
- French Police Say They Have Cornered Suspect in School Shooting (NYT); French shooting suspect had been arrested in Afghanistan (Reuters); Suspect in French shootings says he’ll surrender to end standoff (Globe & Mail), Toulouse suspect escaped from Kandahar jail in mass Taliban jailbreak in 2008 (BBC)
- Bernanke Says Europe Must Aid Banks Even as Strains Ease (Bloomberg)
- Monti faces clash with unions over reform (FT)
- UK budget to balance tax breaks with austerity (Reuters)
- Romney scores big win over Santorum in Illinois (Reuters)
- U.S. Exempts Japan, 10 EU Nations From Iran Oil Sanctions (Bloomberg)
- Bernanke Says Fed Failed to Meet Goals During Great Depression (Bloomberg)
- Revised tax deal reached on Swiss accounts (FT)
In a succinct and chart-laden presentation, Professor Antony Davies, of Duquesne, offers a simple perspective on just how bad things are for the US (in terms of debt or obligations). Putting the interest cost in the context of war-spending, his analysis is interesting given the recent and dramatic rise in interest rates. Current interest payments, given the US Government's lowest ever 3% interest cost, are $440 billion, or three times the annual operating expenses of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While his discussion of a market-set interest rate is perhaps a little off-the-mark given the extent of QE programs and their reach-around prime-dealer duration-reducing effects, it is nevertheless true that the more money the government is spending on interest, the less money is available to provide services and his punchline on what happens should rates rise even modestly from here sums the real problem the US faces (even as a currency issuer as opposed to a currency user - given the inherent instability that making totalitarian use of the reserve status would incur).
Americans have an illogical love affair with their vehicles. There are 209 million licensed drivers in the U.S. and 260 million vehicles. The U.S. has a higher number of motor vehicles per capita than every country in the world at 845 per 1,000 people. Germany has 540; Japan has 593; Britain has 525; and China has 37. The population of the United States has risen from 203 million in 1970 to 311 million today, an increase of 108 million in 42 years. Over this same time frame, the number of motor vehicles on our crumbling highways has grown by 150 million. This might explain why a country that has 4.5% of the world’s population consumes 22% of the world’s daily oil supply. This might also further explain the Iraq War, the Afghanistan occupation, the Libyan “intervention”, and the coming war with Iran. Automobiles have been a vital component in the financial Ponzi scheme that has passed for our economic system over the last thirty years. For most of the past thirty years annual vehicle sales have ranged between 15 million and 20 million, with only occasional drops below that level during recessions. They actually surged during the 2001-2002 recession as Americans dutifully obeyed their moron President and bought millions of monster SUVs, Hummers, and Silverado pickups with 0% financing from GM to defeat terrorism. Alan Greenspan provided the fuel, with ridiculously low interest rates. The Madison Avenue media maggots provided the transmission fluid by convincing millions of willfully ignorant Americans to buy or lease vehicles they couldn’t afford. And the financially clueless dupes pushed the pedal to the metal, until everyone went off the cliff in 2008.
“Wherever this flag’s flown we [don’t] take care of our own” No, Americans, singularly among people of the so-called First World, don’t take care of their own. Half of America is in poverty, and few among the other half care or much give a damn about the situation, resorting to blaming it all on a lamentably greedy “one-percent.” They prefer not to look in the mirror, naked… knowing full well how ugly they look in their obesity, exhibiting both, layers of fat and lack of cojones.... Sergeant Bales, assuming he is found to be the only soldier involved in the recent massacre in Afghanistan, will not be paying for the horrific incident, whether innocent or guilty of such a crime; such determination in military justice likely to take many years. The Pentagon’s convenient refracting transparency will make sure that such is the case. That brings us to the question of who the criminals are. Well, the criminals can be seen when we look ourselves in the mirror: the criminals are simply us. Not the President, nor Congress, nor the bemedaled pit-bulls staffing the Pentagon… they are simply the hangmen we choose to carry our criminal acts. The criminals are us who allow ourselves to be governed by a warmongering, elitist gang serving special interests and not the people, the commons. If we lack the conscience and compassion to take care of our own, should anyone expect us to take care of others… walk around the world imparting social justice? Yes, Boss, we are, unfortunately, ignoring the words in your song at our own peril.
As I look out past the near horizon of this time, and this nation, I see considerable potential for a revitalization of that which is best in humanity. I see a population that strives for independence. I see a return to the entrepreneurial spirit of discovery. I see unhindered freedom of thought and action feeding a fire of creativity that inspires us to unimaginable heights. I see new expression given license not just by the masses, but by structures of a government which truly follows the will of the common man, and not the will of an elite few. I see America breathing full, eyes wide open and alive. However, this potential future would have to come at a considerable cost. America has so strayed from its founding roots that it now hungers; starving for lack of nutrients from its natural soil. As with all other catastrophic societies of the past, we have been manipulated and conned into overlooking and over-rationalizing astonishing injustice and in some cases, unmitigated evil. I frankly don’t know what else to call it. There are some acts of malevolence that go beyond human weakness and inadequacy and reach into realms of calculation that are so cold, so soulless, there is simply no other way to describe them. These actions and attitudes tend to run rampant in dying nations but are rarely singled out and criticized by those in the midst of the great fall. Each begins with the loss of particular principles and inherent morals that are normally prized under more healthy circumstances, but are despised in times of chaos and uncertainty.
- Tainted Libor Guessing Games Face Replacement by Real Trades (Bloomberg) - so circular, self-reported data is "tainted" - but consumer confidence is great for pumping a stock market?
- Japan Sets up $12 Billion Program for Dollar Loans, Increases Growth Fund (Bloomberg)
- China Hints at Halt to Renminbi Rise (FT)
- Spain Pressed to Cut More From Its Budget (FT)
- Bailout can make Greek debt sustainable, but risks remain: EU/IMF (Reuters)
- Banks to Face Tough Reviews, Details of Mortgage Deal Show (NYT)
- U.S. and Europe Move on China Minerals (WSJ)
- Use of Homeless as Internet Hot Spots Backfires on Marketer (NYT)
- Obama administration seeks to pressure China on exports with new trade case (AP)
According to the doctrine of pre-emptive war, Iran can be attacked based on its alleged desire to develop nuclear weapons, just as Iraq was attacked in 2003. In fact, Congress is currently debating whether a nuclear capability alone (which Brazil, Japan, and other countries enjoy) could justify the 'preventive' attack. I believe it is time to negate this doctrine by postulating that Iran in fact has a right, as a sovereign nation, to a nuclear capability. Having traveled to Iran recently, I can attest to the Joint Chiefs' General Dempsey's reference to Iran as a 'rational' actor. The Iranians have no interest in destroying America, or Israel, at the expense of one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world, dating back about 2600 years. Iran is currently surrounded by over 40 U.S. military installations, not counting Israel's still-unaccounted nuclear arsenal. To assert that Iran would jeopardize its culture for a one-shot nuclear attack is a complete miscalculation of the Iranian spirit; that spirit gave rise to a revolution in 1979 against what they perceived as Anglo-American imperialism in the form of the Shah, much as our own revolution opposed British imperialism.
Legal Experts Destroy Rationale for Obama’s Assassination Policy … And Slam Democrats for Supporting ItSubmitted by George Washington on 03/08/2012 13:44 -0400
Obama Expanding Program Started by Cheney
...know when to walk away, know when to run.
Paging Paul Krugman ... Paging Professor Krugman to the White Courtesy Telephone ...
A few days ago, before the latest breakout in crude sent Brent to all time highs in GBP and EUR (and Asian Tapis in USD just shy of all time highs), we said that "we hope our readers stocked up on gasoline. Because things are about to get uglier. And by that we mean more expensive. But courtesy of hedonic adjustments, more expensive means cheaper, at least to the US government." This was due to recent news out of Iran "where on one hand we learn that IAEA just pronounced Iran nuclear talks a failure (this is bad), and on the other Press TV reports that the Iran army just started a 4 day air defense exercise in a 190,000 square kilometer area in southern Iran (this is just as bad). The escalation "ball" is now in the Western court." We were not surprised to learn that the "Western court" has responded in precisely the way we had expected. The WSJ reports: "The Pentagon is beefing up U.S. sea- and land-based defenses in the Persian Gulf to counter any attempt by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. military has notified Congress of plans to preposition new mine-detection and clearing equipment and expand surveillance capabilities in and around the strait... The military also wants to quickly modify weapons systems on ships so they could be used against Iranian fast-attack boats, as well as shore-launched cruise missiles" Which means the escalation slider was just shifted up by one more level, as Iran will next do just what every actor caught in an Always Defect regime as part of an iterated prisoners' dilemma always does - step up the rhetoric even more, as backing off at this point is impossible. Which means that crude will go that much more higher in the coming days, as now even the MSM is starting to grasp the obvious - from the Guardian: "The drumbeat of war with Iran grows steadily more intense. Each day brings more defiant rhetoric from Tehran, another failed UN nuclear inspection, reports of western military preparations, an assassination, a missile test, or a dire warning that, once again, the world is sliding towards catastrophe. If this all feels familiar, that's because it is. For Iran, read Iraq in the countdown to the 2003 invasion." And the most ironic thing is that the biggest loser out of all this, at least in the short-term is.... Greece.