Showing posts from July 19, 2016

Why Oil Prices Might Never Recover

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["Debt and higher oil prices had spoiled the party. The problem was addressed with more debt and higher oil prices... People want to believe that things keep getting better and that they won’t have to change their behavior—even if these beliefs defy common sense and the laws of nature... As political leaders and economic experts debate peripheral issues, the public understands that there is something horribly wrong in the world. It is increasingly difficult for most people to get by in a failing global economy. That is why there are political upheavals going on in Britain, the United States and elsewhere... I don’t know what beast slouches toward Bethlehem but I am willing to bet that it does not include growth. The best path forward is to face the beast. Acknowledge the problem, stop looking for improbable solutions that allow us live like energy is still cheap, and find ways to live better with less." Amen, brother. *RON*]

By Arthur B…

A Bank Too Big to Jail

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[Gretchen Morgenson in the New York Times writes about a new report on the HSBC bank by Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling’s House Financial Services Committee. Note that this is not about the role of the banks in the housing crisis. Could this be a red herring to distract from precisely that? *RON*]

By Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times, 15 July 2016

Have you ever wondered why the crippling 2008 financial crisis generated almost no criminal prosecutions of large banks and their top executives?

Then take a moment to read the congressional report issued on July 11 titled “Too Big to Jail.” Citing internal documents that the United States Treasury took three years to produce, the report shows how regulators and prosecutors turned a potential criminal prosecution of a large global bank — HSBC — into a watered-down settlement that insulated its executives and failed to take into account the full scope of the bank’s violations.

The report, prepared by t…

Donald Trump and the Politics of Being an Asshole

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["Trump represents the end of politics—if politics is a battle of ideas—and the triumph of shock-jockiness." *RON*]

David Corn, Mother Jones, 18 July 2016

Last year, when Donald Trump and his small band of political advisers were considering whether the celebrity pink-slipper should run for president, there was one factor they did not dwell on: Trump's obvious negatives as a candidate. His bankruptcies and bad business deals that screwed creditors and contractors, his marital infidelities, his ties to mob-linked figures, his long history of crude and rude remarks, his tendency to engage in mean-spirited feuds, his racist birther crusade against President Barack Obama, and his arrogant, egotistic, bombastic, and bullying public persona would all supply tons of material for opposition researchers.

Yet Trump and his crew were not concerned, according to a Trump aide at that time. Their theory was simple: With Trump's name ID close t…

Coup d'état attempt: Turkey’s Reichstag fire?

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[This meme is still building. And I still say, while Erdoğan is a supreme opportunist, he isn't this smart. The confusion around who was involved in fostering the attempt, and why, is, however, bolstered by stories of this sort: Turkish soldiers deny involvement in coup plot, told it was a ‘drill’ – report. Of course, if you were stripped naked and stuck in a little room by Erdoğan's secret police, what would you say? See also: Turkey’s Baffling Coup and Erdoğan’s Pyrrhic victory*RON*]

Ayşe Kadioğlu, Open Democracy, 16 July 2016

On the evening of July 15, 2016, a friend called around 10:30pm and said that both bridges connecting the Asian and European sides of Istanbul were closed by military barricades. Moreover, military jets were flying over Ankara skies. As someone living on the European side of Istanbul and commuting to the Asian side to my university on a daily basis and spending many hours in traffic in order to do that, I immedi…

The Le Pens have become royalty for fearful faithful in south of France

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[People are now whispering to one another in Trump-code in the south of France. Despite party's popularity, some supporters are coy about showing their true colours to outsiders. *RON*]

By Don Murray, CBC News, 19 July 2016
Related Stories
After Paris and now Brussels, a Europe full of 'little Trumps'
Hollande takes heat for anti-terrorist strategy after Nice attack
France begins 3 days of mourning, with Nice attacker's jihadist ties in question
2 more people detained in Nice truck attack investigation

"You know the town?" the French woman asked. I had come in to buy food.

I said I did, having had a house in the region for years.

"So you know the situation in Carpentras?"

I talked of the economic crisis, of streets with closed and shuttered shops.

She shook her head. That wasn't the problem. She then spoke of a terrifying encounter where young men — young "Arab" men, she specified — challenged a couple of …

The world is getting better all the time, in 11 maps and charts

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[You can definitely quibble with some of these but most are fantastic! A bit of an antidote to the usual doom and gloom. See also: The World Is Not Falling Apart. *RON*]

by Zack Beauchamp on July 13, 2015

Reading the news, it sometimes feels like the world is falling apart: that everything is going to hell in a handbasket and we're on the verge of a total collapse. In fact, we're living through what is, by objective metrics, the best time in human history. People have never lived longer, better, safer, or richer lives than they do now. And these 11 charts and maps — which draw on centuries of data, as well as a brand new UN report that focuses on the past 25 years — prove it.