Thursday, June 29, 2006

The High Price of American Gullibility
Many Americans have turned a blind eye to the administration’s illegal and unconstitutional spying on the grounds that, as they themselves are doing nothing wrong, they have nothing to fear. If this is the case, why did our Founding Fathers bother to write the Constitution? If the executive branch can be trusted not to abuse power, why did Congress pass legislation establishing a panel of federal judges (ignored by the Bush administration) to oversee surveillance? If President Bush can decide that he can ignore statutory law, how does he differ from a dictator? If Bush can determine law, what is the role of Congress and the courts? If "national security" is a justification for elevating the power of the executive, where is his incentive to find peaceful solutions?
Supreme Court Blocks Guantánamo Tribunals The Supreme Court today delivered a sweeping rebuke to the Bush administration, ruling that it exceeded its authority by creating tribunals for terror suspects that fell short of the legal protections that Congress has traditionally required in military courts.
Israeli missiles pound Gaza into new Dark Age in 'collective punishment'

Quick Overview

  • The Federal Reserve raised the benchmark federal funds rate to 5.25 percent from 5.00 percent on Thursday, the central bank's 17th consecutive interest rate hike since it began tightening monetary policy in June 2004

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce said that U.S. GDP was up at the rate of 5.6% in the first quarter of 2006. YoY, GDP was up 3.7%. YoY the core rate of personal consumption expenditures was up 2.0%.

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were up 4,000 last week to 313,000.

  • The. DOE said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 66 billion cubic feet to 2.542 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are now up 20% from a year ago

  • Canada's GDP was up 0.1% in April and 3.1% YoY

  • Japan's industrial production was down 1% in May and up 4.2% YoY

  • Taiwan's Central Bank raised interest rates from 2.375% to 2.50%.

  • Japan plans to fight global warming and surging oil prices by requiring all vehicles to be able to run on an environment-friendly mix of ethanol and regular gasoline by 2030, an official said Thursday. "The main goal is to counter global warming," Sekiya said. "Adopting the new technology is not that difficult."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Complaint filed in 32 countries against U.S. bank data mining
A civil liberties group on Wednesday asked 32 national governments to block the release of confidential financial records to U.S. authorities as part of American anti-terrorist probes.
London-based watchdog Privacy International demanded a halt to the "completely unacceptable" monitoring of millions of transactions as part of a CIA-U.S. Treasury program
GOP bill targets NY Times

House Republican leaders are expected to introduce a resolution today condemning The New York Times for publishing a story last week that exposed government monitoring of banking records.

Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost: Thomas Jefferson

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Mortgage applications dropped from 567.6 to 529.6 last week, hurt by the recent rise in mortgage rates.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were down 3.4 million barrels last week to 343.7 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were down 1.0 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were up 1.2 million barrels.
    Over the past four weeks gasoline demand was up 0.9% YoY.

  • YoY Retail sales in Japan were up 0.1% in May

  • Mexican retail sales rose a lower-than-expected 3.3 percent in February even as a broader economic recovery picked up speed.

  • Peru’s Congress overwhelmingly voted to approve a free trade pact with the United States early Wednesday, rejecting claims the treaty will hurt Peru's farmers by flooding the Andean nation with subsidized cotton, rice, corn and potatoes.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Consumer confidence rose in the latest week as gasoline price hikes moderated, regaining its highest level since April, ABC News and the Washington Post said on Tuesday.

  • The United States needs to preserve a welcome investment climate to ward off the risk of an abrupt adjustment in the current account that harms the economy, a top White House economic adviser said on Tuesday.

  • The Conference Board's index of U.S. consumer confidence increased from 104.7 to 105.7 in June, stronger than expected.

  • U.S. existing home sales were at an annual rate of 6.67 million units in May, down 1.2% from April's pace,

  • Business confidence in Germany increased from 105.7 to 106.8 in June, the highest reading in 15 years.

  • The average national price of retail diesel fuel fell 4.8 cents to $2.867 a gallon, the biggest decline this year, the Department of Energy reported.

  • The International Copper Study Group said that world copper production exceeded demand in the first quarter of 2006 by 64,000 tons, up from an 89,000 ton deficit in the first quarter of 2005. Production was up 4.8% YoY while usage was up 1%.
Many U.S. Iraq War vets return to homelessnessThe reasons that contribute to the new wave of homelessness are many: some are unable to cope with life after daily encounters with insurgent attacks and roadside bombs; some can't navigate government red tape; others simply don't have enough money to afford a house or apartment
Buyers in more markets find housing out of reach
San Diego could be a poster child for the affordability crisis. Home prices here have risen 142% since the start of 2000. Only 9% of residents could afford the median home if they had to put down 20% of the purchase price. Even so, a dizzying array of high-risk adjustable-rate mortgages has sustained the market by helping more people qualify.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Failure to deliver on G8 pledges has left millions to die, says charity report
World leaders agreed to cut subsidies and open their markets to the poorest countries, who cannot compete in world markets. But the report found that the US and the EU are still spending more than $100bn a year on subsidy payments to their own farmers, while continuing to dump cheap exports in developing countries so local producers cannot sell their goods in their own markets

Quick Overview

  • U.S. New home sales were up 4.6% from April's pace and more than expected. For 2006, new home sales are down 11% YoY.

  • Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Economics forecast World sugar production next fiscal year at 152.5 million tons, up from 149.7 million tons this fiscal year, and Global consumption at 151.2 million tons up from 150.6 million tons this year.
Resist the tobacco Taliban
There is within some people a deep-seated need to victimise those they consider racially, socially, sexually or ideologically aberrant. Smokers are a convenient and politically correct target for those who wish to take out their inchoate anger but are sharp enough to realise that, these days, you can’t vent it on Jews or homosexuals.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Jim Rogers Says China Equities, Commodities Will Boom Rogers said if he looks for new opportunities in commodities today, he would start with agriculture. ``I think there will be fortunes made in agriculture in the next decade.'' He is looking at cotton, coffee, wheat, soybeans and sugar. ...``Agricultural prices are historically very, very low,'' Rogers said. ``Inventories are the lowest in 34 years. We haven't even had a major worldwide drought in many years.''
Britain's first olive grove is a sign of our hotter times
In one of the most remarkable signs yet of the advance of global warming, Britain's first olive grove has been planted in Devon.
Who Will Hold Them Accountable?
Now the House has once again, in effect, abandoned its role in any future decision about the need for and the wisdom of initiating war in the name of the people they represent

Friday, June 23, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Commerce Department said that durable goods were down 0.3% in May, weaker than expected.

  • Mexico's central bank left the country's benchmark overnight interest rate unchanged.

  • New Zealand's GDP was up 0.7% in the first quarter of 2006 and up 2.2% YoY

  • The Florida Department of Citrus Processors said there were 100 million gallons of frozen orange juice concentrate in inventory on June 17th, down 30% YoY.

  • Panama's Congress will debate next week whether to push ahead with an ambitious and costly plan to expand its canal.
Bush is the most protectionist president since Herbert Hoover
The Wall Street Journal worried that Bush’s direction on steel was weakening his ability to influence other countries on a variety of issues. “The policy mattered less than the abandonment of principle,” it editorialized. “It signaled to the world that Mr. Bush was not the president he had seemed after September 11; his moral and strategic clarity could be compromised for a price.”

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Heaven or hell?

Nanotechnology, genetics and cybernetics will mean that we will become faster, stronger and more beautiful; we will live longer and banish disease; we will be more intelligent and quicker-witted with photographic memories and the ability to go days without sleep.

(how about just a wee bit more morals?)

Tom Ridge: War on Terror to Last Decades

Ridge, speaking at the opening of a new RAND Corp. office, said the war on terror is likely to last for decades, much like the Cold War.
Lawmakers' Profits Are ScrutinizedHouse Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made a $2 million profit last year on the sale of land 5 1/2 miles from a highway project that he helped to finance with targeted federal funds.
AT&T revises privacy policy, says owns customer dataAT&T Inc. said on Wednesday it was revising its privacy policy, explaining to customers that it owns their phone records and can hand them over....
EU way off course for meeting Kyoto targets: latest figures
Instead of falling, EU greenhouse-gas pollution actually rose in the latest year of monitoring..

Quick Overview

  • The Conference Board, said its Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell to 137.9 (0.6%) in May after it declined 0.1 percent to 138.7 in April. Suggesting the economy could worsen in coming months.

  • The Chicago Federal Reserve's index of national activity fell from +.26 to -.16 in May, a sign of slower economic growth.

  • The number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims rose from a four-month low last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

  • YoY Argentina's economy grew by 6.4% - less than expected.

  • December Eurodollar futures sank, pricing in with conviction the Fed will raise rates to 5.5% by year's end, from the current 5%.

  • Canadian nickel producer Inco said Thursday that booming demand for nickel will lead to a 30,000 metric ton shortfall in supply in 2006.

  • The USDA said there were 473 million pounds of frozen pork in cold storage, down 8% YoY.

  • Frozen bellies totaled 64.9 million pounds, down 21% YoY.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 79 billion cubic feet to 2.476 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are up 22% YoY.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Quick Overview

  • Retail sales in Canada were up 1.7% in April and 6.7 YoY,

  • Canada's composite index of leading indicators was up 0.3% in May.

  • Japanese Finance Minister said that a rapid rise in interest rates would hurt the Japanese economy as it has not fully emerged from deflation.

  • Demand for ordinary wines is falling and tough competition from strong New World brands mean some European wine makers are finding it increasingly difficult to sell all they produce. The European Union will therefore step in to buy 1.5 billion liters of surplus wine and distill it into biofuels.

  • Worldwide, 38.7 billion liters of ethanol should be produced this year versus 33.6 billion in 2005, Peter Baron, head of the International Sugar Organization said.

  • Venezuela plans to produce significant amounts of ethanol for domestic use with Cuban support Venezuelan officials said.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were up 1.4 million barrels to 347.1 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 300,000 barrels
    Supplies of and heating oil supplies were up 2.7 million barrels.

  • Japan may, by the end of June, allow U.S. beef back in the country.
Iraq: US may be asked to leave In an exclusive interview with The Australian, former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage has given a gloomy assessment of the situation.
'Thirst for knowledge' may be opium craving Neuroscientists have proposed a simple explanation for the pleasure of grasping a new concept: The brain is getting its fix.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Consumer confidence edged up in the latest week because of moderating gasoline prices, ABC News and the Washington Post said.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau said housing starts were at an annual rate of 1.957 million units in May, up 5.0% from April's pace and more than expected. YoY housing starts are down 1.7%.

  • JP Morgan expects the Fed to raise rates in June and August to
    5.5%. JP Morgan expects further moves in December 2006 and February 2007 to take the benchmark rate to 6.0%, according to a research note.

  • A group of 12 large corporations (including eBay, Eli Lilly, Google, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble) will push Congress to pass a comprehensive federal consumer-privacy law, citing mounting concern that consumer trust in Internet safety is eroding.

  • Sweden raised rates to 2.25% from 2.00% as expected. The Riksbank said it is reasonable to assume further interest rate hikes are needed and says market expectations for rates over next year may be too low.

  • Bank of Japan Governor said policy decisions should be taken "early" if warranted by economic conditions, rekindling speculation the central bank would soon raise interest rates from zero.

  • Producer prices in Germany were up 0.1% in May and up 6.2%YoY,

  • India's sugarcane ethanol output is enough to cover the government's plan to blend 5% ethanol with gasoline starting in October 2006, the U.S. Dep. Of Agriculture said.

  • The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is planning to launch futures
    contracts tied to the Chinese yuan.

  • The Australian Bureau of Agricultural & Resource Economics said that Australia's wheat crop will total 22.8 million tons this winter, down from 25.1 million tons last year, due to dry weather.

Brazil sees doubts about WTO farm deal in June
A key condition was that the United States came up with a "more courageous move" on cutting farm subsidies.
Pentagon lists homosexuality as a mental disorder
Aaugh! The last time a nation’s civilian and military leadership was this incapable of learning from experience was under the Ching dynasty.
Enigmatic object baffles supernova team
The object's behaviour doesn't match any known quasar. The team is not convinced the object is outside our galaxy, but nothing like it is known inside the galaxy.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Waste Oil Dumps Threaten Towns in Northern Iraq As much as 40 percent of the petroleum processed at Iraq's damaged and outdated refineries pours forth as black oil, the heavy, viscous substance that used to be extensively exported to more efficient foreign operations for further refining. But the insurgency has stalled government-controlled exports by taking control of roadways and repeatedly hitting pipelines in the area, Iraqi and American officials have said.

So the backed-up black oil — known to the rest of the world as the lower grades of fuel oil — was sent along a short pipeline from Baiji and dumped in a mountainous area called Makhul.
Japan seizes control of whaling group after historic vote
In a stunning diplomatic coup, Japan and its allies, including Norway and Iceland, won a voting majority in the IWC for the first time, as a result of a remorseless 10-year Japanese campaign to secure the votes of small African and Caribbean countries in exchange for multimillion-dollar foreign aid packages.

Quick Overview

    • Late payments and new foreclosures on U.S. homes declined in the first quarter of 2006 compared with the last quarter of 2005, reflecting an improving economy and job creation, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Monday.

    • Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Jack Guynn urged U.S. elected officials to face up to long-term fiscal problems and said the world will have to get used to higher oil prices.

    • The International Monetary Fund said on Monday that Brazil's economy was less vulnerable amid lower external and domestic debt and foreign reserves that are at more comfortable levels.

    • Russia's GDP increased 5.5% in the first quarter of 2006, more than expected.

    • Bloomberg news reported that sentiment among homebuilders dropped from 46 to 42 in June, the most dire outlook in eleven years.

    • International apprehensions increased again after North Korea announced that they are going to test-launch a long-range ballistic missile

    • The Chairman of China’s Cereals and Oils Association says China’s growing
      industrial use of Corn will force the country to import 10 mmt. of Corn by 2010.

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    The No-Knock State
    The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter – all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!
    ~ William Pitt

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    Lost in translation
    My recent comment piece explaining how Iran's president was badly misquoted when he allegedly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" has caused a welcome little storm. The phrase has been seized on by western and Israeli hawks to re-double suspicions of the Iranian government's intentions, so it is important to get the truth of what he really said.

    Quick Overview

    • The U.S. current account deficit totaled $208.7 billion in the first quarter of 2006, smaller than expected.

    • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index increased from 79.1 to 82.4 in early June, stronger than expected.

    • YoY industrial production in Argentina rose 7.3 percent in May.

    • China's central bank is raising the reserve requirements by one-half of a percent slow the economy.
    5-4 Decision Narrows Exclusionary Rule in Police Searches
    As a result of Thursday’s opinion, it’s likely that police across the nation will stop knocking and announcing before entering, says David A. Moran, who represented Hudson on appeal.
    "I suspect the knock-and-announce rule will become a joke," says Moran, a law professor at Detroit’s Wayne State University. "No longer can Americans expect that they will have the chance to answer the door in a dignified manner."

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Judge Rules That U.S. Has Broad Powers to Detain Noncitizens Indefinitely
    "This decision is a green light to racial profiling and prolonged detention of noncitizens at the whim of the president," said Rachel Meeropol, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented the detainees. "The decision is profoundly disturbing because it legitimizes the fact that the Bush administration rounded up and imprisoned our clients because of their religion and race."
    Reducing Night Flights May Ease Winter Global Warming, Report Says
    We get one-half of the climate effect from one-quarter of the year, from less than one-quarter of the air traffic," said meteorologist Nicola Stuber, who led the English research team. "If you get rid of the night flights, you can reduce the climate warming effect of the contrails."

    Quick Overview

    • The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 8,000 last week to 295,000, less than expected.

    • Industrial production unexpectedly fell 0.1% in May, reflecting weakness in manufacturing.

    • The U.S. Treasury said that net foreign purchase of U.S. securities totaled $58.5 billion in April while U.S. residents bought $11.9 billion of foreign securities.

    • Investors pulled a net $6.39 billion from stock funds in the week ended June 14, TrimTabs Investment Research estimated on Thursday.

    • The Bank of Japan voted to keep the interest rate near zero for now.

    • YoY consumer prices in the Euro zone were up 2.5% in May.

    • The Green Coffee Association said that U.S. coffee stocks were up 60,391 bags in May to end the month at 5.26 million bags, down 10% YoY.

    • The DoE said underground supplies of natural gas were up 77 billion cubic feet to 2.397 trillion cubic feet.

    The Price of Madness
    How did an America of H.L. Mencken, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, James J. Hill, Henry David Thoreau, and Anne Hutchinson, manage to become a nation of Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Halliburton, and Condoleezza Rice? How did the spiritual voice of a Ralph Waldo Emerson get replaced by Pat Robertson? What epidemic of pests has eaten away at the timbers of the White House since the days of Thomas Jefferson, producing an infestation of such anti-social insects as the Clintons and the Bushes? How was Tom Paine toppled as the all-time best-selling author by the likes of such scrawlers as Al Franken and Ann Coulter?

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Bell Labs To Be Demolished
    The vaunted Bell Labs, whose scientists invented the laser and developed fiber optic and satellite communications, touch-tone dialing and cellphones, modems and microwaves, was housed in the glass building...

    At one time, Lucent employed 5,600 people in Holmdel. The company plans to move the approximately 1,000 who remain to offices in Murray Hill and Whippany by the summer of 2007.

    House Accepts $3,300 Raise
    Despite record low approval ratings, House lawmakers Tuesday embraced a $3,300 pay raise that will increase their salaries to $168,500.
    Global Image of the U.S. Is Worsening
    Although strong majorities in several countries expressed worries about Iran's nuclear intentions, in 13 of 15 countries polled, most people said the war in Iraq posed more of a danger to world peace. Russians held that view by a 2-to-1 margin.

    Quick Overview

    • The U.S. Labor Department said the CPI was up 0.4% in May and up 4.2% YoY. Excluding food and energy costs, the price index was up 0.3% in May and up 2.4% YoY.

    • The Federal Reserves Beige Book showed continuing economic activity in all twelve districts in the past month, but four districts said that activity was slowing - Atlanta, Kansas City, Richmond, and San Francisco.

    • The unemployment rate in the U.K. increased to 5.3%, up from 5.2%.

    • Canada's manufacturing shipments were down 1.5% in April.

    • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
      Supplies of crude oil were down 900,000 barrels to 345.7 million barrels.
      Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 2.8 million barrels
      Supplies of heating oil supplies were up 1.8 million barrels.

    • The U.S. Commerce Department raised the tariff on Canadian lumber from 10.8% to 14.7%.

    • Brazil's government will likely remove a 10% import tax on wheat in August in response to concerns the country's No. 1 supplier, Argentina, will restrict wheat exports.

    • China's industrial consumption of corn will total 27.5 million tons in 2006-07, an increase of 25% YoY, said Xubo Yu, vice president of China's COFCO.

    • Engine and heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc.’s board of directors voted to raise the company’s quarterly cash dividend 5 cents to 30 cents per share, a 20% increase, the company said .

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    Quick Overview

    • The U.S. Department of Labor said the producer price index was up 0.2% in May and up 4.5% YoY. Excluding food and energy costs, prices were up 0.3% in May and up 1.5% YoY.

    • U.S. Retail sales were up 0.1% in May, as expected, and up 0.5%, excluding autos.

    • YoY consumer prices in the U.K. were up 2.2% in May.

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    Quick Overview

    • (Bloomberg) -- China's retail sales rose 14.2 percent in May as higher incomes spurred consumer spending in the world's fastest-growing major economy.

    • Foreclosures rising with debt, job losses
      Michigan and Ohio, battered by automotive-related job losses, together recorded 45,000 mortgages entering some stage of foreclosure in the first quarter. Those are increases of 91 percent and 39 percent, respectively

    • YoY Japan's GDP increased by 3.1% in the first quarter of 2006.

    • Ethanol production averaged 301,000 barrels per day in the U.S. in March, that is nearly 60,000 barrels above March, 2005. Stocks increased 1.3 million gallons.
    Rare counting ability induced by temporarily switching off brain region
    A minority of people with autism have one or more extraordinary intellectual talents, such as the rapid ability to calculate the day of the week for a given date, or to count large numbers of discrete objects almost instantaneously - they're often called 'autistic savants' or 'idiot savants'. Now Allan Snyder and colleagues have shown that by placing a pulsing magnet over a specific area of the brain, these kind of abilities can, to some extent, be induced in people who aren’t autistic.
    A Dose Of Genius
    There are lots of the first-generation drugs around. Total sales have increased by more than 300 percent in only four years, topping $3.6 billion last year, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical information company. They include Adderall, which was originally aimed at people with attention-deficit disorder, and Provigil, which was aimed at narcoleptics, who fall asleep uncontrollably. In the healthy, this class of drugs variously aids concentration, alertness, focus, short-term memory and wakefulness -- useful qualities in students working on complex term papers and pulling all-nighters before exams. Adderall sales are up 3,135.6 percent over the same period. Provigil is up 359.7 percent.

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    House backs easier phone-TV rules
    Meanwhile, the House defeated an amendment offered by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., designed to ensure so-called Net neutrality -or the right of any company to deliver services over the Web free of discrimination. The measure lost on a 262-159 vot
    . Without the Markey amendment, telecom and cable companies "are now able to create toll lanes on the information superhighway, essentially permitting new, discriminatory fees - a new broadband bottleneck tax - on Web-based businesses to reach consumers," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Cali

    Quick Overview

    • The trade shortfall is rising again after two months of declines, pushed by oil prices and a flood of imports from China. U.S. exports were down $0.2 billion to $115.7 billion in April, while imports were up $1.4 billion to $179.1 billion.

    • Canada's unemployment rate improved from 6.4% to 6.1% in May, the lowest in 31 years.
      Canada's exports were down 2.3% to C$37.1 billion in April, while imports were up 1.2% to C$33.1 billion.

    • Machinery orders in Japan were up 10.8% in April, stronger than expected. Late yesterday,

    • The USDA's 2006-2007 U.S. ending stocks estimate for:
      Corn was reduced from 1.141 to 1.091 billion bushels.
      Soybeans were increased from 650 to 655 million bushels.
      Wheat was reduced from 447 to 416 million bushels.
      Cotton remained at 4.90 million bales.
      Sugar was reduced from 870,000 to 822,000 tons.

    • The USDA's 2006-2007 world ending stocks estimate for:
      Corn was 92 million tons, down from 130 million tons the previous year.
      Soybeans were 58 million tons, up from 55.5 million tons the previous year.
      Wheat was 128 million tons, down from 144 million tons the previous year.
      Cotton was at 47 million bales, down from 53 million bales the previous year.

    • The USDA estimates the Florida orange crop at 153 million boxes, the USDA increased the projected juice yield from 1.62 to 1.62 gallons per box at 42.0 degrees Brix.

    • The USDA estimated that 2006-2007 world ending coffee stocks would increase 1.27 million bags, to 21.75 million bags. Resulting in ending stocks to use ratio of 18%.

    Congressman concerned about superintelligence
    Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) did not propose an amendment, but wanted further discussion and perhaps a report on a particular aspect of future supercomputing research. Sherman said that, based on the opinions of experts, there is reason to believe that in about 25 years a supercomputer will be built that “exceeds human intelligence.” Sherman said he hopes that some of the future researchers that the bills would cultivate will be steered toward the potentially emerging field of making sure that the super-intelligent computers “avoid self-awareness … and ambition,” he said.

    To which Boehlert responded: “My grandson has a Gameboy that exceeds my intelligence.”

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Quick Overview

    • Investors pulled a net $1.87 billion from stock funds in the week ended June 7, TrimTabs Investment Research estimated on Thursday.

    • U.S. Jobless claims were down 35,000 last week to 302,000, less than expected.

    • U.S. Wholesale sales were up 1.3% in April, inventories increased 0.9%.

    • South Korea's central bank raised its rate from 4.00% to 4.25%.

    • The Japanese government's June report on the economy will say deflation remains but there have been improvements, sources said on Friday.

    • The European Central Bank increased its interest rate by a quarter percent to 2.75%.

    • Australia's unemployment rate improved to 4.9% in May, the lowest in thirty years.

    • Labor productivity in Canada was up 0.5% in the first quarter of 2006 and up 2.1% YoY.

    • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 77 billion cubic feet to 2.320 trillion.

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Quick Overview

    • Australia's GDP rose 09% in the first quarter of 2006 and up 3.1% YoY.

    • Japan's index of leading indicators was unchanged in April, at 50.0.

    • The Energy Department said:
      Crude-oil stocks grew last week by 1.1 million barrels to 346.6 million barrels, or 4 percent above year ago levels.
      Gasoline inventories grew by 1 million barrels to 210.3 million barrels, or 2.5 percent below year ago levels.
      Heating oil supplies were up 100,000 barrels.

    • Over the past four weeks gasoline demand is 0.7 percent higher than it was during the same period a year ago.

    • Retail diesel fuel prices this summer are expected to average $2.79 per gallon, 38 cents higher than last year, the Energy Department said.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Bankrupt Logic About China's Debts
    ..the massive problems facing Chinese banks, whose nonperforming loans total an estimated $700 billion, drew some strong responses. Before getting into one in particular, let me explain the issue in a nutshell. China isn't acting quickly enough to clean up the bad debts that have made its biggest banks technically insolvent.
    Fed's Poole: Slowing economy won't reduce inflation
    "If inflation turns out to exceed our expectations, our target range, I do not believe we can count on a slowing economy to bring inflation down, by itself, quickly," Poole, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday.

    Quick Overview

    • Merrill economist David Rosenberg says “if the Fed hikes after the raft of soft data posted in recent weeks, then we can only draw the conclusion that in the name of rebuilding anti-inflation credibility, the central bank is willing to sacrifice the economy

    • YoY Brazil's industrial output fell 1.9% in April.

    • Index of services in the Euro zone increased from 58.3 to 58.7 in May, the highest in five years.
    Distracter in Chief
    What uncharted realm lies beyond brazen cynicism? A wasteland of utter shamelessness, perhaps? A vast Sahara of desperation, where principle goes to die? Someday George W. Bush and the Republican right will be able to tell us all about this barren terra incognita, assuming they ever find their way home.

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    G-7's Push for Stronger Asian Currencies May Not Cut Trade Gap
    Army Manual to Skip Geneva Detainee Rule
    The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

    Quick Overview

    • Even though the U.S. economy is now slowing down, Bernanke on Monday called recent increases in inflation unwelcome and pledged to make sure surging energy prices don't make things worse.

    • Japan's Ministry of Finance said that YoY corporate profits were up 4% in the first quarter.

    • YoY Japan’s capital spending was up 13.9% in the first quarter.

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    Bush approval ratings hit new low in California
    Poll reflects growing discontent with president, Congress
    "We're in uncharted waters," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll. "All previous presidents who have dipped this low either resigned from office shortly thereafter or were voted out of office. Here we have a president who will be with us for 2 1/2 more years.

    Saturday, June 03, 2006

    Invoking Secrets Privilege Becomes a More Popular Legal Tactic by U.S.
    Facing a wave of litigation challenging its eavesdropping at home and its handling of terror suspects abroad, the Bush administration is increasingly turning to a legal tactic that swiftly torpedoes most lawsuits: the state secrets privilege.
    More, Lots More
    JUST in case your Uncle Bob or Aunt Sophie has been asking you "Exactly what the hell is going on in Iraq?" and you're looking for hard facts to help them get off the fence, here you are.
    Ethanol dazzles Wall Street, White House Ethanol production in the United States is growing so quickly that for the first time, farmers expect to sell as much corn this year to ethanol plants as they do overseas.

    "It's the most stunning development in agricultural markets today — I can't think of anything else quite like this," says Keith Collins, the U.S. Agriculture Department's chief economist.

    The amount of corn used for ethanol, estimated at 2.15 billion bushels this year, would amount to about 20 percent of the nation's entire crop, according to department projections.

    Even as ethanol devours corn and pushes prices higher, the president and Congress are calling for even greater ethanol use. Wall Street cannot seem to get enough of ethanol-related investments. Automakers are speeding ethanol-capable vehicles onto the road.
    Is It Raining Aliens?
    Stranger still, dozens of his experiments suggest that the particles may lack DNA yet still reproduce plentifully, even in water superheated to nearly 600˚F. (The known upper limit for life in water is about 250˚F.)

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    Why Hank Paulson?
    And now, we are in a new stage. We have not a productive economy, but a speculative economy. We have a Treasury secretary to go with it. Goldman's first-quarter earnings report shows that of the firm's total intake of $10.34 billion, $6.88 billion was made largely from proprietary trading and investments. In effect, the firm is a hedge fund crossed with an investment bank. As CEO, Paulson's share of the take was $38.3 million in salary, stock, and options last year alone. And his net worth is estimated at $500 million. But we do not grudge the man or the cream he has licked off the platter. As leader the speculative economy, who else would you want except the leading speculator?

    Onus is on US, EU to save WTO talks: China
    China has turned the tables on Washington by demanding that the United States and Europe do more to cut farm subsidies and tariffs to break a deadlock in global trade talks.

    Quick Overview

    • U.S. Inflation will likely stay contained but is at the top end of a price-stability zone and interest-rate policy should aim to move it down, Chicago Federal Reserve President Michael Moskow said on Friday.

    • U.S. Employers added only 75,000 new jobs in May, the Labor Department said in a report that signaled slower economic growth and led financial markets to slash bets on further interest-rate increases. Average hourly earnings were up just 0.1%.

    • U.S. Factory orders were down 1.8% in April.

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Quick Overview

    • First-quarter worker productivity jumped to 3.7% from 3.2% (annual rate) the Labor Department said Thursday

    • The Labor Department revised Unit labor costs lower, from an annual rate of 2.5% to 1.6% in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, unit labor costs were revised lower, from a 3.0% annual rate of gain, to a 0.6% decline.

    • The Institute of Supply Management's index of U.S. manufacturing dropped from 57.3 to 54.4 in May, weaker than expected, but still a sign of expansion.

    • Construction spending declined 0.1% in April, the first decline in almost a year, the Commerce Department said Thursday

    • The number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims rose by 7,000 last week to 336,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

    • The U.S. government should confront Tokyo about the unfairly low value for the yen that gives Japanese car makers an advantage of up to $3,000 per car sold in the United States, Chrysler Group Chief Executive Tom LaSorda said on Thursday.

    • Bank of Japan board member Hidehiko Haru said on Thursday the central bank needs to keep supporting the economy with an easy monetary policy and is in no rush to end its zero interest rate policy.

    • GDP in the Euro zone increased 1.9% in the first quarter YoY.

    • U.K. Manufacturing index dropped from 54.0 to 53.2 in May.

    • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said that:
      Supplies of crude oil were up 1.6 million barrels at 345.5 million barrels.
      Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 800,000 barrels
      Supplies of heating oil were up 1.0 million barrels.
      Supplies of underground natural gas were up 80 billion cubic feet to 2.243 trillion cubic feet, up 27% from a year ago

    • OPEC, pumping almost as much as it can amid soaring oil prices, decided Thursday to keep its output steady, rejecting suggestions by Venezuela to cut production.