06/21/2012 archive

The Fed Forecast

Slow continued Depression with a 50% chance of another Recession.

2012 April Now Dif 2013 April Now Dif
Change in real GDP 2.4 to 2.9 1.9 to 2.4 (-1) Higher better 2.7 to 3.1 2.2 to 2.8 (-.8)
Unemployment rate 7.8 to 8.0 8.0 to 8.2 (+.4) Lower better 7.3 to 7.7 7.5 to 8.0 (+.5)
PCE inflation 1.9 to 2.0 1.2 to 1.7 (-1) Higher better 1.6 to 2.0 1.5 to 2.0 (-.1)
Core PCE inflation 1.8 to 2.0 1.7 to 2.0 (-.1) Higher better 1.7 to 2.0 1.6 to 2.0 (-.1)

Bernanke Continually Keeping Powder Dry, Despite Clear Evidence of Economic Slowdown

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Thursday June 21, 2012 7:38 am

(T)he Fed released another set of data yesterday, its updated forecasts for the economy. And it was really bad.

Bernanke clearly knows both that the economy has slowed, and that several factors contribute to that: fiscal consolidation at the state and local level, a poor housing market, and headwinds from Europe (Bernanke could aid the first thing, by the way, by having the Fed go into the muni market, saving state and local government’s $85 billion annually). So this was the big question from everyone at Ben Bernanke’s news conference yesterday: because the economic forecasts have been revised downward, what is the rationale for not doing more monetary accommodation at this time? Bernanke attempted to blame Congress, coming close to saying that the bullets are out of the gun on the monetary side and that what we really need is fiscal stimulus.

There’s an opinion out there that Bernanke paved the way for QE3 in August, after another look at the data. But the forecast alone gives you most of what you need to make that determination. The recent history of the Fed includes a lot of waiting for more data to confirm economic slowdowns. Anticipatory action simply doesn’t happen.

Do Not Annoy Ladies With Sharp Objects

You knitting folks will be interested in this. My daughter, who is an avid knitter and belongs to the group in question, brought it to my attention

Knitters Outraged After U.S. Olympic Committee Squashes Knitting Olympics-and Disses Knitters

Knitters Outraged After U.S. Olympic Committee Squashes Knitting Olympics-and Disses Knitters

by Adrian Chen    

If you mess with the Olympics trademark, a cloud of legal hurt will descend on you faster than Tyson Gay in the Men’s 100 meters. Case in point: The U.S. Olympic Committee has sent a cease and desist letter to a knitting-based social network for hosting a knitting “olympics.” Now, knitters are in revolt.

2012 was to be the third year that the knitting social network Ravelry-yes, this exists and is surprisingly popular-hosted a “Ravelympics,” a knitting competition for users that includes events like an “afghan marathon,” and “scarf hockey.” Knitters were supposed to compete in their events while watching the actual Games on TV.

But that was before the U.S. Olympics Committee got wind of it and sent Ravelry a cease & desist, for making a mockery of the Games with their needlework. Here’s a passage from the letter, sent by the USOC’s general counsel and posted by Ravelry founder Casey Forbes to his blog (Ravelry account required):

   The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them.  For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career.  Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them.


  We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.  In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.

She also sent this snark tinged response from “jen” at Magpie Knitter

How many Olympic athletes have you insulted?

Today, I learned that I have insulted the entire US Olympic team. In fact, not only have I done this once, I have done it twice – first in 2008 and again in 2010. I feel it is only right that I publicly admit to my shameful actions and share them here with you. The pictures below are graphic and may be upsetting to some, so please only look if you have a strong stomach. May not be safe for work.

Let me steel myself first…ok. Here it is: the evidence of my shameful lack of respect for the Olympic games and athletes everywhere.


Ravelympics Wristers


So again – my deepest and most humble and sincere apology. It is terribly unfortunate, of course, that the US Olympic Committee has managed to suck away a lot of the anticipation I had for the 2012 Olympics, but I accept that the error was mine in the first place. Yes, the Ravelympics had me watching the Olympics for the first time since I was a young child, but two wrongs – knitting and the Ravelympics – don’t make a right. The poor US athletes could probably sense that I was knitting while I watched and cheered, and who knows how many medals that knowledge may have cost them? Or dollars, since any time I spent knitting was time I wasn’t spending with one of the many corporate sponsors (whom we all know should have priority)? Now that I have been set straight, I am relieved to see that as many references to knitting and other fiber crafts as possible are being squashed to protect the purity of the Games.

It’s a shame about that red, white and blue cabled sweater I planned to design and knit during the Ravelympics in honor of our athletes, but at least now I won’t be disrespecting anyone with it.

If you think that’s bad, try the Londinium 2012 ( I use that term because it’s not copyrighted, yet, and I wouldn’t want to get in trouble here)

2012 Olympics – be careful what you say

Under the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 it will be virtually impossible to associate your firm or its activities with that of the Olympics unless you are one of the very few official partner/sponsors. Even mention of the word ‘Olympics’ could see practitioners in breach of the Act.


The use of specific ‘Listed Expressions’ which are quantified as follows: any two of the words in list A below; or, any word in list A with one or more words in list B:

List A


Two Thousand and Twelve



List B








I think these Olympic Committees are getting carried away with this and alienating supporters.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Bil Boyarsky: Eisenhower’s Warning Ignored, Presidential Power Has Risen to Sinister Level

By following a warlike path-and getting a free pass from too many progressives-President Barack Obama is making sure that foreign policy will remain in the hands of the military-industrial complex.

Hardly discussed in the presidential campaign is how Obama personally picks targets on a kill list, hugely has increased drone attacks, and wages cyberwarfare against Iran. If these actions had occurred under Bush-Cheney, liberals would have taken to the streets. Instead, the practices are accepted as facts of life, barely worth comment.

The truth is that in the last half century, this kind of presidential power, backed by the military and the arms industry, has been enshrined as permanent policy. And it will continue no matter who wins in November or in future elections. Whoever is in charge, the military, the intelligence spooks and the war industries always seem to co-opt the president.

John Nichols: Darrell Issa Shows Contemptible Disregard for the Constitution

The system of checks and balances works best when the separate branches of government are inherently and proudly adversarial toward one another. But that can’t happen when partisanship defines when and how accountability moments play out.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa — the headline-hungry California Republican who on Wednesday engineered a committee vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt — forgot that essential rule. [..]

Issa’s actions undermined not just his own credibility but any sense that he and his allies might be acting in defense of — or with any regard for — the Constitution.

Robert Reich: Dimon in the Rough: How Wall Street Aims to Keep U.S. Regulators Out of Its Global Betting Parlor

Horror of horrors, say the banks.

“If JPMorgan overseas operates under different rules than our foreign competitors,” warned Jamie Dimon, chair and CEO of JP Morgan, Wall Street would lose financial business to the banks of nations with fewer regulations, allowing “Deutsche Bank to make the better deal.”

This is the same Jamie Dimon who chose London as the place to make highly-risky derivatives trades that have lost the firm upwards of $2 billion so far – and could leave American taxpayers holding the bag if JPMorgan’s exposure to tottering European banks gets much worse.

Jim Hightower: Super PACs and Secret Money Destroying America’s Democracy

Leave it to Bill Moyers, one of America’s most useful citizens, to sum up our country’s present political plight in a succinct metaphor: “Our elections have replaced horse racing as the sport of kings. These kings are multibillionaire corporate moguls who by divine right – not of God, but (of the Supreme Court’s) Citizens United decision – are now buying politicians like so much pricey horseflesh.”

Pricey, indeed. In its disgraceful, democracy-crushing judicial edict of January 2010, the Court took the big advantage that America’s corporate elite already had in politics – and super-sized it. This is the first presidential election to be run under the rigged rules invented by the Court’s five-man corporatist majority, and we can see the effects of this ruling.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Label Genetically Engineered Food

In 49 countries around the world, including all of Europe, people have the opportunity of knowing whether or not they are eating food which contains genetically engineered ingredients. In the United States, we don’t. That is why I have introduced, along with Sen. Barbara Boxer, an amendment to the agriculture bill which will give states the right to require labels on food products which are genetically engineered.

All over this country people are becoming more conscious about the foods they eat and serve their kids. When a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her family.

Egyptian Democracy Postponed

Why is the New York Times surprised? I’m not.

Egypt Delays Declaring Winner of Presidential Election

by David Kirkpatrick

CAIRO – Egyptian election officials said Wednesday that they were postponing the announcement of a winner in last week’s presidential runoff, saying they needed more time to evaluate charges of electoral abuse that could affect who becomes the country’s next leader.

The commission had been expected to confirm a winner on Thursday and, based on a public vote count confirmed in official news media, to have named Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The surprise delay intensified a power struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s military rulers. It came just days after the generals who took over upon the ouster of Hosni Mubarak reimposed martial law, shut down the Brotherhood-led Parliament, issued an interim charter slashing the new president’s power and took significant control over the writing of a new constitution.

Amid allegations of fraud from both sides, both candidates have declared themselves winners, although, the unofficial count show that Morsi is the clear victor by a million vote margin. The presidential commission, which has the final say, is investigating the allegations while rumors abound that they will invalidate enough of Morsi’s votes to make Safiq the winner. On of the allegations being investigated is that the Muslim Brotherhood gained access to a government printing office and pre-marked at least one million ballots for Morsi.

This is the view of the situation from the Muslim Brotherhood on the political and economic impacts for Egypt as reported by Evan Hill via Al Jazeera:

Jihad el-Haddad, an aide to Khairat el-Shater – the movement’s first choice for president and a man seen as its de facto leader – said the Brotherhood is “done negotiating”. [..]

The Brotherhood is now ready to push the military to the brink, he said.

Its leaders are well aware that the bungled transition has cost the country several billion dollars in lost investment and aid, much of it tied to having a democratically elected government, and even more in foreign reserves spent to keep the Egyptian pound afloat.

Further unrest would likely cause a currency devaluation, pushing up the prices of food and household goods and raising the spectre of a “hunger revolution,” Haddad said.

Meanwhile, alternative premises have been found where the parliament can meet on Tuesday for its regular session, he claimed, in defiance of the military council, which has ordered the armed guards surrounding the parliament building to deny entry to MPs. [..]

Both sides know the economic and human cost of a return to the mass protests and street clashes that have marked the past 16 months, and their ongoing negotiations indicate both are probably more malleable than they make themselves appear.

Washington has responded to this crisis with some concern:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US expects the military to “support the democratic transition, to recede by turning over authority”.

“The military has to assume an appropriate role, which is not to try to interfere with, dominate or subvert the constitutional authority,” she said.

Privately, US officials expressed concern that a Shafik victory could have dangerous fallout, with protests and ensuing instability that could lead the military to take even stronger measures.

The big problem is that the allies of the military, Mubarak-era officials and secular opponents of Islamists also hold sway in the judiciary, the prosecutor’s office and the election commission.

Even if the military turns over control to a civilian government by the end of June, it will still retain unprecedented powers and that is a huge problem.

On This Day In History June 21

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge.

June 21 is the 172nd day of the year (173rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 193 days remaining until the end of the year.

On non-leap years (until 2039), this day marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, and this is the day of the year with the longest hours of daylight in the northern hemisphere and the shortest in the southern hemisphere.

On this day in 1964, Civil rights workers disappear.

In Neshoba County in central Mississippi, three civil rights field workers disappear after investigating the burning of an African American church by the Ku Klux Klan. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men garnered national attention and led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.”

The Mississippi civil rights workers murders involved the 1964 lynching of three political activists during the American Civil Rights Movement.

The murders of James Chaney, a 21-year-old black man from Meridian, Mississippi; Andrew Goodman, a 20-year-old white Jewish anthropology student from New York; and Michael Schwerner, a 24-year-old white Jewish CORE organizer and former social worker also from New York, symbolized the risks of participating in the civil rights movement in the South during what became known as “Freedom Summer”, dedicated to voter registration.

The case also made salient the efforts of Jews in the civil rights movement.

The Lynching

The lynching of the three men occurred shortly after midnight on June 21, 1964, when they went to investigate the burning of a church that supported civil rights activity. James Chaney was a local Freedom Movement activist in Meridian, Michael Schwerner was a CORE organizer from New York, and Andrew Goodman, also from New York, was a Freedom Summer volunteer. The three men had just finished week-long training on the campus of Western College for Women (now part of Miami University), in Oxford, Ohio, regarding strategies on how to register blacks to vote.

After getting a haircut from a black barber in Meridian, the three men headed to Longdale, Mississippi, 50 miles away in Neshoba County, in order to inspect the ruins of Mount Zion United Methodist Church. The church, a meeting place for civil rights groups, had been burned just five days earlier.

Aware that their station wagon’s license number had been given to members of the notorious White Citizens’ Council and Ku Klux Klan, before leaving Meridian they informed other Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) workers of their plans and set check-in times in accordance with standard security procedures. Late that afternoon, Neshoba County deputy Cecil Price – himself a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – stopped the blue Ford carrying the trio. He arrested Chaney for allegedly driving 35 miles per hour over the speed limit. He also booked Goodman and Schwerner, “for investigation.”

Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were all denied telephone calls during their time at the jail. COFO workers made attempts to find the three men, but when they called the Neshoba County jail, the secretary followed her instructions to lie and told the workers the three young men were not there. During the hours they were held incommunicado in jail, Price notified his Klan associates who assembled and planned how to kill the three civil rights workers.

While awaiting their release, the men were given a dinner of spoonbread, green peas, potatoes and salad. When the Klan ambush was set up on the road back to Meridian, Chaney was fined $20, and the three men were ordered to leave the county. Price followed them to the edge of town, and then pulled them over with his police siren. He held them until the Klan murder squad arrived. They were taken to an isolated spot where James Chaney was beaten and all three were shot to death. Their car was driven into Bogue Chitto swamp and set on fire, and their bodies were buried in an earthen dam. In June 2000, the autopsy report that had been previously withheld from the 1967 trial was released. The report stated Chaney had a left arm broken in one place, a right arm broken in two places, “a marked disruption” of the left elbow joint and may also have suffered trauma to the groin area. A pathologist who examined the bodies at the families’ request following their autopsies noted Chaney also had a broken jaw and a crushed right shoulder which were not mentioned in the autopsy report. As the autopsy photographs and x-rays have been destroyed, the injuries could not be confirmed.

My Little Town 20120620: Keeping it Cool

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Since the summer solstice just occurred a couple of hours ago, I thought it might be interesting to see how we kept cool(ish) in the summer all those years ago.  At that time, residential central air conditioning was just about unknown in my part of the country, with only the very newest homes sometimes having it.

It gets brutally hot in the summer in west central Arkansas.  As the summer progresses, pay attention to the national weather maps on the news and note that very often the temperatures there are comparable with (and connected to) those in the very hot areas of the desert southwest part of the country.

As a matter of fact, there are several flora and fauna characteristic of the desert southwest that are native to the Hackett area.  Roadrunners are quite common, and I have found many a tarantula.  Prickly pear cactus is also abundant.