Monday, July 31, 2006

US begins building treaty-breaching germ war defence centre
..the centre will have to produce and stockpile the world's most lethal bacteria and viruses, which is forbidden by the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Three years before that treaty was agreed, President Richard Nixon halted the production of US biological weapons at Fort Detrick in Maryland. The same military base is the site for the new $128m (£70m), 160,000 sq ft laboratory.

Quick Overview

  • Retail sales in Germany rose 1.9% in June

  • Japan's June industrial production rose 1.9% MoM, which was stronger than the market consensus of 1.3%

  • Euro zone confidence rose to a 5-year high in July.

  • Dow Jones Newswires estimated that China will import one million tons and India will import four million tons of wheat in 2006-2007.

  • The Chinese Yuan extended its move to post a new 12-1/2 year high at 7.9650 Yuan / dollar.
The Peculiar Disappearance of the War in Iraq
As America fell into the quagmire of Vietnam, the comedian Milton Berle joked that the fastest way to end the war would be to put it on the last-place network, ABC, where it was certain to be canceled. Berle's gallows humor lives on in the quagmire in Iraq. Americans want this war canceled too, and first- and last-place networks alike are more than happy to oblige.

Cheney-Specter bill: a blank check for spying
Cheney-Specter bill: a blank check for spying
The so-called "compromise" legislation makes a mockery of the nation's historic separation of powers
Welcome To My Parlor
by William S. Lind

Operationally, Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on Israel are the matador’s cape. That too is working. What of the strategic level? The Arab street is cheering for Hezbollah, often across the Sunni-Shiite divide, while the governments of states such as Egypt hide under the bed. The goal of Islamic Fourth Generation forces is the destruction of most, if not all, Arab state governments, so Hezbollah is winning strategically as well. One can almost watch the legitimacy drain away from the region’s decrepit states, with incalculable consequences for American interests.
Not that Washington is doing anything to protect those interests. On the contrary, it has rushed more bombs and aviation fuel to Israel, lest there be any unwelcome let-up in the destruction of Lebanon. In no previous Israeli-Arab war has the United States revealed itself so nakedly as a de facto political adjunct of Israel. Perhaps the neo-cons have convinced President Bush that Israeli olive oil can substitute for Arab petroleum as fuel for America’s SUVs.

Bush said Monday the Tea Lady is working "urgently" to achieve a sustainable ceasefire in the Middle East.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

''Escalating Conflict in the Middle East Could Spark a Global Recession''
As the war between Israel and Lebanon escalates, growing regional and world outrage may increasingly be channeled toward the United States -- the only country that has influence over Tel Aviv. This may encourage the world's three largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran, to significantly reduce oil exports in order to increase pressure on Washington to rein in Israel's military actions. An oil export embargo undertaken by just Russia and Iran, which together account for 20 percent of the world's oil exports, would be much more effective at extracting a major policy change from the Bush administration than Syrian and Iranian missile strikes against Israel.

Millions of children to be fingerprinted
British children, possibly as young as six, will be subjected to compulsory fingerprinting under European Union rules being drawn up in secret. The prints will be stored on a database which could be shared with countries around the world.

On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran. (Orwell 1984)

Mandelson: US greed caused the Doha collapse
..Washington should have been prepared to trade cuts in support for its farmers against gains elsewhere in the talks - such as new markets for US manufacturers and services firms.
Dollar Bear Market Resumes as Outlook for Higher Rates Fades
Most traders surveyed by Bloomberg say the dollar's tumble will continue this week. Seventy-five percent of the 48 traders, investors and analysts polled from Sydney to New York on July 28 advised buying euros, the most in the past year. Eighty-three percent said to buy yen. The poll has accurately forecast the dollar's direction in 27 of the past 52 weeks against the euro and in 29 versus the yen.

The Karamazov Question What Price for Paradise?

"They have put too high a price on harmony; we can't afford to pay so much for admission. And therefore I return my ticket."
Ivan Karamazov, BookFive, Chapter Four: "Rebellion."

..The man nodded. "If tonight you could guarantee the good of the world -- peace and freedom, democracy and prosperity, now and forever; if tonight, you could relieve the suffering of all those who labor under tyranny and persecution, all those who groan in poverty and disease; if tonight, you could redeem the anguish of creation, past and future, now and forever; if tonight, you could guarantee this universal reconciliation, by the simple expedient of taking this" -- here the man suddenly produced a black pistol and held it out to the president -- "and putting a bullet through the brain of this little one here, just her, no one else: would you do it? That is my question, this is your opportunity." ..

(56 people, more than half of them children, were killed Sunday in an Israeli airstrike on Qana, Lebanon)

Cabinet in open revolt over Blair's Israel policy
The Observer can also reveal that at a cabinet meeting before Blair left for last Friday's Washington summit with President George Bush, minister after minister pressed him to break with the Americans and publicly criticise Israel over the scale of death and destruction.

Analysis: A second Qana Massacre?
The southern Lebanese town of Qana is known for two events in history, and there could soon be a third as news comes in of rising civilian casualties from an Israeli air strike there.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

For Syria's envoy, no calls from the White House
Syria's ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, has not had a single meeting with any senior Bush administration official in a year and half. Even in the current crisis, his phone does not ring.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce said the U.S. economy grew at a below forecast 2.5 percent annual rate last quarter, less than half the speed of the preceding three months. YoY real GDP was up 3.5%. YoY the GDP price deflator was up 3.3% in the second quarter, less than expected.

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index dropped from 84.9 to 84.7.

  • The Labor Department said the employment cost index increased 0.9% in the second quarter and 3.0% YoY.

  • Republicans are willing to allow the first minimum wage increase in a decade but only if it's coupled with a cut in future inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, congressional aides said.

  • YoY Japans consumer prices were up 1.0% in June. The International Monetary Fund declared that deflation in Japan had ended but also said monetary policy should remain accommodative to allow inflation expectations to drift up.

  • The unemployment rate in Japan increased from 4.0% to 4.2% in June.
Gonzales Worried About War Crime Charges

Tide of Arab Opinion Turns to Support for Hezbollah The Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington.

An outpouring of newspaper columns, cartoons, blogs and public poetry readings have showered praise on Hezbollah while attacking the United States and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for trumpeting American plans for a “new Middle East” that they say has led only to violence and repression.

Analysis: Bush Foreign Policy Struggling
"This president has a very firm world view that is not about to be changed by facts or realities.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Quick Overview

  • France's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 9.0 pct in June from 9.1 pct in May.

  • U.S. Durable goods were up 3.1% in June, more than expected. Excluding aircraft and defense items, orders were up 0.4%, weaker than expected.

  • U.S. New home sales were at an annual rate of 1.131 million units in June, down 3% MoM. New home sales are down 12% YoY.

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 7,000 last week to 298,000.

  • Mexico's economy will grow more than 4 percent in 2006 and create about 900,000 new jobs, surpassing earlier forecasts, the government said.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were down 7 billion cubic feet last week. Supplies are up 16% YoY.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Iran: The Next War
Even before the bombs fell on Baghdad, a group of senior Pentagon officials were plotting to invade another country. Their covert campaign once again relied on false intelligence and shady allies. But this time, the target was Iran. BY JAMES BAMFORD

Quick Overvview

  • A Bank of Japan official suggested the next interest-rate hike might come sooner than some had expected.

  • The Federal Reserve's Beige Book said that all twelve districts showed continued economic growth in the past twelve months, but seven of the districts pointed out the rate of growth had slowed.

  • Australia consumer prices were up 1.6% in the second quarter and up 4.0% YoY

  • German business confidence (IFO) dropped from 106.8 to 105.6 in July, more than expected.

  • The dollar extended its losses on Wednesday, hitting session lows across-the-board after a Federal Reserve survey reinforced a view the U.S. economy is slowing and that interest rates may be set to peak.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were unchanged last week at 335.5 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were down 3.2 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were up 1.2 million barrels.

  • Over the past four weeks, gasoline demand was up 1.8% YoY and YoY distillate demand was up 6.2%.

The Case for the Barbarous Relic

With this comes a belligerent and blind nationalism that has affected the whole culture in one degree or another. In an empire, the people must become "hollow dummies," said Orwell. They must believe they are superior to others, and have a right to tell other others what to do. Americans seem to go beyond even this. They believe that other countries actually want to be invaded and occupied and shaped into mini-American by the US.

The Lawless State If the Founding Fathers could see us now, they’d surely ask, “How on earth did you get yourselves into this mess?” We’ve managed to do nearly everything the Constitution was designed to prevent us from doing.

Is Beirut Burning? By URI AVNERY
Thousands of e-mail distribution lists have circulated a horrible series of photos of mutilated babies and children. At the end, there is a macabre photo: jolly Israeli children writing "greetings" on the artillery shells that are about to be fired. Then there appears a message: "Thanks to the children of Israel for this nice gift. Thanks to the world that does nothing. Signed: the children of Lebanon and Palestine."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Quick Overview

Existing home sales fell 1.3% MoM, down 8.9% YoY, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday

U.S. consumer confidence fell slightly in the latest week despite gasoline prices reaching $3 a gallon, the highest since Hurricane Katrina, ABC News and the Washington Post said on Tuesday

The Conference Board's consumer sentiment index increased from 105.4 to 106.5 in July, more than expected.

YoY South Korea's GDP was up 5.3% in the first quarter.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Israel Is Winning the Battle, But Not the War
Although the Americans have run into a quagmire in Iraq, they finally realize, at least theoretically, that they can’t defeat the Iraqi insurgency through military means. They are attempting to negotiate their way out, but it may be too late. (The Sunni insurgents deliberately attacked the Shi’a in order to start a sectarian civil war, which is now raging.) Unfortunately, the Israelis are even further behind the slow Americans in coming to terms with reality. They still fail to realize that military solutions, as well as unilateral political actions, are not the answer to guerrilla war and terrorism.

Quick Overview

  • Retail sales in Canada totaled C$32.6 billion in May, down 0.6% on the month, but up 7.4% YoY.

  • The Reserve Bank of India is expected to raise short-term interest rates by 25 basis points.

  • Nationwide gas prices hit an all-time high at $3.015 in the last two weeks, the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations said.

  • The U.S. Court of International Trade ruled the U.S. illegally charged duties on Canadian lumber after NAFTA said there was no justification for them.

  • Brazil's No. 1 sugar and ethanol equipment manufacturer Dedini SA Industrias de Base has launched a series of technologies this week, including a new process for refining white sugar and a more efficient way to distill hydrous ethanol.

  • According to the Ag Department, 59% of corn is rated good to excellent and beans are called 54% good to excellent, both down 3% WoW.

George W. Bush exceeded Hitler's 50-to-1 ratio.
Doha trade talks collapse over farm subsidies
countries including the EU and India said that the US needed to reform its farm subsidies first.

ABA Panel chides Bush on bypassing laws
Bush should stop issuing statements claiming the power to bypass parts of laws he has signed, an American Bar Association task force has unanimously concluded in a strongly worded 32-page report that is scheduled to be released today

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Pressure put on US as G8 prepares way for trade deal
The US suggested it could scale back on farm subsidies; Europe said it could make bigger cuts in agricultural tariffs than it had previously offered; and developing countries, led by Brazil and India, said they could lower barriers to imports of manufactured goods.

"Stop That Shit!" By URI AVNERY
And the most disgusting sight: George Bush in a playful mood sitting on his chair in St. Petersburg, with his loyal servant Tony Blair leaning over him, and solving the problem: "See? What they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing that shit, and it's over."Thus spake the leader of the world, and the seven dwarfs - "the great of the world" - say Amen.
Elegy for Beirut
The anger that any human soul should feel at such suffering and loss was expressed so well by Lebanon's greatest poet, the mystic Khalil Gibran, when he wrote of the half million Lebanese who died in the 1916 famine, most of them residents of Beirut:

My people died of hunger, and he who

Did not perish from starvation was

Butchered with the sword;

They perished from hunger

In a land rich with milk and honey.

They died because the vipers and

Sons of vipers spat out poison into

The space where the Holy Cedars and

The roses and the jasmine breathe

Their fragrance.
Iranian Ambassador: We Support Turkey's Possible Cross-Border Operation
Turkey has the right to annihilate terrorists wherever they are found. Iran is ready to do its best to help Turkey,” Dowlatabadi continued.

James Zogby: Willful Fantasies and Reality in Today's Mideast Conflict
While some conservatives and Democrats have learned lessons from past Israeli-Arab conflicts and from the recent US experiences in Iraq, the Administration and most members of Congress have fallen in line, uttering banalities like, "Israel has a right to defend itself" (even, if that means killing hundreds of civilians and destroying Lebanon in the process), or "let Israel finish the job it started" (as if the deaths and devastation resulting from this war will have no consequences in Lebanon and the broader Middle East).

Craven Image: The Senate Bows to Imperial Power Well, that didn't take long. Two weeks ago we wrote here that the "lockstep, lickspittle" U.S. Congress would scurry to give their approval to the dictatorial powers asserted by President George W. Bush after the Supreme Court struck down those claims in the Hamdan case earlier this month. And lo and behold, last week Republican Senator Arlen Specter introduced a bill that would not only confirm Bush's unrestrained, unconstitutional one-man rule – it would augment it, exalting the Dear Leader to even greater authoritarian heights.
The new language of diplomacy: this bombing thingy is well out of order
On the other hand, I rather warmed to Mr Bush’s gangsta rap summary of the crisis in Lebanon. “You see, the thing is,” he said, alluding to Russia’s influence in the area, “what they need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over.” He’s right, of course. Why has no one else thought of it before? If only everyone spoke their mind so clearly, things might get done rather more quickly than the quagmire that is modern diplomacy. I think I prefer Mr Bush’s shorthand version of world affairs than listening to the Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, burying herself in obfuscation on BBC radio yesterday as she attempted to avoid criticising Israeli tactics. It was like being wrapped in blancmange.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hezbollah, Hamas and Israel: Everything You Need To Know ALEXANDER COCKBURN
I hope you’ve enjoyed these little excursions into history, even though history is dangerous, which is why the US press gives it a wide birth. But even without the benefit of historical instruction, a majority of Americans in CNN’s instant poll –- about 55 per cent out of 800,000 as of midday, July 19 -- don’t like what Israel is up to.
Feds sharpen secret tools for data mining
"There's a tendency with all of these systems to lead with terrorism and then find other applications," Rotenberg says.
Vegas Makes It Crime To Feed Homeless People
The Las Vegas City Council unanimously passed a law, which went into effect Thursday, making it a crime to feed the homeless at city parks. It carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 and six months in jail.
Rates on 30-year mortgages are highest since 2002
Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, says rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages increased to a nationwide average of 6.80%, from 6.74% last week.
That's the highest they've been since they stood at 6.81% the week of May 24, 2002.

Quick Overview

  • China today raised required reserve ratio on banks (up 0.5 point to 8.5%) for the second time in 2 months in an attempt to slow bank lending and the economy. That action followed the +11.3% Chinese Q2 GDP report.

  • UK Q2 GDP rose +0.8% QoQ +3.2% YoY.

  • Some 100,000 Italian bondholders will file a lawsuit against Argentina, looking for repayment of $5.5 billion in bonds that defaulted in early 2002

  • Canada's consumer price index was down 0.2% in June -- up 2.5% YoY.

  • The USDA said there were 10.872 million head of cattle on feed on July 1st, up 4.6% YoY -- more than expected. June placements were up 10.3% YoY, and marketing’s were up 5.8%.

  • The USDA said there were 52.5 million pounds of frozen pork bellies in cold storage on June 30th, down 26% YoY.

  • Frozen pork totaled 409 million pounds, down 17% YoY.

  • The USDA said there were 1.105 billion pounds of frozen orange juice concentrate in cold storage on June 30th, down 29% YoY.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 30,000 last week to 304,000, the lowest in six weeks.

  • The Conference Board's index of leading indicators was up 0.1% to 138.1 in June.

  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional index of factory activity dropped from 13.1 to 6.0 in July, the lowest since January.

  • The OECD advised the Bank of Japan to be careful about raising interest rates. The report said that Japan's CPI should rise +1% before the BOJ increases interest rates (the June CPI was up only +0.1% YoY). The OECD predicted Japanese GDP growth at +2.8% in 2006 and +2.2% in 2007.

  • The Agriculture Department is scaling back its testing program for mad cow disease to about 110 tests a day from about 1000 test a day. Ag Secretary Mike Johanns said there is little justification for the current level.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 59 billion cubic feet to 2.763 trillion cubic feet.

  • Canada's wholesale sales totaled C$41.8 billion in May, up 0.9% on the month and up 6.6% YoY.

Quick Overview

  • The Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 30,000 last week to 304,000, the lowest in six weeks.

  • The Conference Board's index of leading indicators was up 0.1% to 138.1 in June.

  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional index of factory activity dropped from 13.1 to 6.0 in July, the lowest since January.

  • The OECD advised the Bank of Japan to be careful about raising interest rates. The report said that Japan's CPI should rise +1% before the BOJ increases interest rates (the June CPI was up only +0.1% YoY). The OECD predicted Japanese GDP growth at +2.8% in 2006 and +2.2% in 2007.

  • The Agriculture Department is scaling back its testing program for mad cow disease to about 110 tests a day from about 1000 test a day. Ag Secretary Mike Johanns said there is little justification for the current level.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 59 billion cubic feet to 2.763 trillion cubic feet.

  • Canada's wholesale sales totaled C$41.8 billion in May, up 0.9% on the month and up 6.6% YoY.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Turkey risks US anger over plan to attack Kurds

Groups urge US passage of law aimed at global online free speech

Price tag to rebuild Iraq rises by $50b

Quick Overview

  • Fed Chairman Bernanke said he saw inflation excluding food and energy moderating in coming quarters. The Fed is now forecasting inflation for 2007 at 2.0-2.25% up from its earlier forecast of 1.75%-2.0%.

  • U.S. Consumer prices increased a moderate 0.2% in June, the smallest gain in four months, but core inflation rose by 0.3% for a fourth straight month.

  • New housing starts fell 5.3% in June, the Commerce Department said.

  • Polands industrial production rose by 13.8 pct YoY in June.

  • The Japanese government in its July report today dropped its mention of "deflation" and instead said that consumer prices have been rising and "price trends warrant a close watch”.

  • Canada's composite index of leading indicators was up 0.2% in June.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were up 200,000 barrels to 335.5 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 1.5 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were up 2.4 million barrels.
    The Department of Energy said YoY in the last four weeks gasoline demand was up 1.9% and distillate demand was up 4.8%.

  • The U.K. is considering adopting carbon dioxide emission allocations for individuals who could use or trade their allowances with a CO2 credit card, the Environment Secretary said.

Tiny wireless memory chip debuts
A chip the size of a grain of rice that can store 100 pages of text and swaps data via wireless has been developed by Hewlett-Packard.
The Summer of 1914
If Israel does attack Iran, the "summer of 1914" analogy may play itself out, catastrophically for the United States. As I have warned many times, war with Iran (Iran has publicly stated it would regard an Israeli attack as an attack by the U.S. also) could easily cost America the army it now has deployed in Iraq. It would almost certainly send shock waves through an already fragile world economy, potentially bringing that house of cards down. A Bush administration that has sneered at "stability" could find out just how high the price of instability can be.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Marathon Dancing
Those who value both peace and liberty should see the death and destruction of war as a signal to withdraw one’s support from all political systems, regardless of who is running them, or under what rationale, or the duration of their respective claims upon the bodies and souls of people.
While Bush and Blair fumble, Beirut burns
Exactly what mission has been accomplished by George W. Bush, US president, and his super-loyal sidekick, Tony Blair, the British prime minister?
United States to Israel: you have one more week to blast Hizbullah
Bush 'gave green light' for limited attack, say Israeli and UK sources
Hizbullah winning over Arab street That gap, fed by support for Palestinians, hatred of Israel, and anger at its close alliance with America, is already being exploited by the region's Islamist movements, turning TV images of dead civilians into political opposition to their own regimes. In particular, the peace deals signed by Egypt and Jordan with Israel make these governments less popular with their people.

Quick Overview

  • The producer price index rose 0.5% in June and up 4.9% YoY, more than expected, while the "core" PPI rate excluding food and energy rose 0.2%.

  • The Treasury Department said that foreign buys of long-term U.S. securities totaled $88.8 billion in May -- U.S. purchases of foreign securities totaled $19.2 billion.

  • YoY Consumer prices in the U.K. were up 2.5% in June.

  • Japan's index of services, increased 0.5% in May, stronger than expected.

  • Chinese annual growth surged to 11.3 percent in the second quarter, bounding ahead at the fastest pace since the mid1990s on the back of strong investment and exports, the government said on Tuesday.

  • Japan's economy -- already in its second-longest growth cycle of the postwar era -- will likely keep recovering with the end of deflation in sight, the government said in an economic white paper on Tuesday.

Is the USA Bankrupt?
Or, abandoning the Oxford English Dictionary for Ray Charles, are Americans "busted, bread...I mean like nuthin'?"
Attention Deficit Americans Are Being Misled to War

Israel’s over-reactions are calculated to start a wider war. Israel has asserted that the two soldiers captured by Hizbollah are being held in Iran. Israel blames Syria for Hizbollah’s acts. Both Israel and its neoconsevative allies in the Bush government blame Iran and Syria for "attacks on Israel" by Hamas and Hizbollah. No one, least of all Bush, blames Israel’s Palestinian policy.
Déjà Vu in Lebanon

Twenty-four years later, the Bush Administration and Israel have provided the world – and this writer – a remarkable feeling of déjà vu as Israeli forces ravage Lebanon and threaten to once again invade its southern portion. Once again, a president totally ignorant of Mideast realities, a craven US Congress, and an incompetent secretary of state have created a disaster in Lebanon.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ford buyouts speed up
24,000 hourly workers will be gone by end of 2007
Super scandal may be brewing Alan Greenspan and his successor at the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, call this "systemic risk," a nice way of saying that a mortgage giant meltdown, probably caused by rapid swings in interest rates, threatens the international banking system.
Israeli strikes on Lebanon kill 42
..raising the death toll since Israel's offensive to 204, all but 14 of them civilian.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Industrial production was up 0.8% in June, stronger than expected.

  • The New York Federal Reserve's regional index of business activity dropped from 29.0 to 15.6 in July, weaker than expected.

  • India's merchandise exports rose 25.1% in June to $9.97 billion, prompting the government to raise its export target for 2007 to $126 billion.

  • The German newspaper Die Welt reported Monday that Europe's biggest computer maker, Fujitsu-Siemens, wants to go back to the 40-hour work week to save on production costs and keep the plants going, "If we respect the 35-hour week, we will not be able to maintain our factories at Augsburg and Soemmerda. " Fujitsu-Siemens chief executive Bernd Bischoff said.

  • F.O. Licht predicted on Thursday that world sugar production will total 149.2 million tons during the 2005-2006 period, an increase of more than seven million tons compared to the previous harvest.

  • OPEC expects world oil demand to average 84.6 million barrels a day in 2006 and 85.9 million barrels a day in 2007.

Europe can tell Israel how punishing civilians backfires
In 1949, Europeans spearheaded an international move to outlaw collective punishment. This came after two world wars in which they had witnessed whole towns and villages razed and civilians executed, conscripted for slave labour or deliberately made homeless. To break with this past, the Fourth Geneva Convention outlawed collective punishment and reprisals against non-combatants. How far away this all seems today. First in Gaza and now in southern Lebanon, the Israeli army has abandoned Geneva's restraints, retaliating against the kidnapping of its soldiers by blowing up power plants, oil refineries, airports and roads.
What's Really Going on in Lebanon Eric Margolis

Saturday, July 15, 2006

US 'could be going bankrupt'
A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.
A Beautiful Friendship?
Thanks to the work of the lobby and its allies, Israel gets more direct foreign aid -- about $3 billion a year -- than any other nation. There's a file cabinet somewhere in the State Department full of memoranda of understanding on military, diplomatic and economic affairs. Israel gets treated like a NATO member when it comes to military matters and like Canada or Mexico when it comes to free trade. There's an annual calendar full of meetings of joint strategic task forces and other collaborative sessions. And there's a presidential pledge, re-avowed by Bush in the East Room, that the United States will come to Israel's aid in the event of attack.
Another Stab at the Truth
Polls show that a majority of Americans believe President Bush and his associates intentionally misled the public in making their case for war. It's a terribly serious charge, if true. In fact, it's hard to imagine a more serious charge against a president.
Putin Tells Bush Russia Doesn't Need a Democracy Like Iraq's
Bush held up Iraq today as a model of democracy for Russia to follow. Russian President Vladimir Putin was quick to say he wasn't interested.

Friday, July 14, 2006

  • U.S. Retail sales were down 0.1% in June, more than expected. Excluding autos, sales were up 0.3%.

  • U.S. business sales were up 1.4% in May and up 8.8% YoY

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index fell from 84.9 to 83.0 in July, morer than expected.

  • Japan's central bank raised interest rates for the first time in six years on Friday, lifting its key rate to 0.25 percent from zero and affirming the end of a long era of deflation and economic stagnation.

  • Canada's manufacturing shipments were up 0.3% in May.

  • The National Association of Oilseed Processors said the U.S. crushed 131.3 million bushels of soybeans in June, more than expected.

  • Canada confirmed its seventh case of mad cow disease.

  • Sao Paulo's industry association reduced the estimate of Brazil's sugar crop to 370 million tons.
Most Americans plan to vote for Democrats
..the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that Americans by an almost 3-to-1 margin hold the GOP-controlled Congress in low regard and profess a desire to see Democrats wrest control after a dozen years of Republican rule.
Despite Hezbollah's Ties to Iran and Syria, It Also Acts Alone
The Bush administration was quick to pin responsibility on Iran and Syria when Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers this week. Yet those countries may not have specifically planned and ordered the raid that has brought the Middle East to the edge of war, U.S. officials and terrorism experts say.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Friday, July 07, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Labor Department reported the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.6% in June with an increase in non-farm payrolls of 121,000, less than expected.

  • Canada's unemployment rate remained at 6.1% in June.

  • Japan's increased its estimate of 2006-2007 GDP growth from 1.9% to 2.1%. Industrial production was up 1.5% in May, more than expected.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 73 billion cubic feet to 2.615 trillion cubic feet.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Noron with Cindy Sheehan

The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human: Aldous Huxley

Quick Overview

  • Initial jobless claims slipped by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 313,000 in the week ending July 1, the Labor Department said.

  • The National Association of Realtors reported its May index for pending sales of existing homes rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.3% to 113.4 from April's 111.9.

  • The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index was 57.0 down from 60.1 in May (50 and above point to expanding activity)

  • New Zealand's unemployment rate was 3.9% in the first quarter of 2006.

  • The Bank of Indonesia cut its key interest rate from 12.50% to 12.25%.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were down 2.4 million barrels to 341.3 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 700,000 barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies were up 600,000 barrels.
    Over the past four weeks, gasoline demand is up 1.4% YoY
Bush told Cheney to discredit diplomat critical of Iraq policy
No instruction to out CIA agent, says president
Effect of climate change on oceans gaining attention Two decades ago, when Dr. Richard Feely at the Seattle laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported his concerns about atmospheric carbon dioxide significantly altering the chemistry of the oceans, his findings were largely ignored.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The War in Afghanistan Is Only the Beginning Afghans know one day Americans and other foreigners will go home, just as did the Russians, British and Alexander’s Greeks.
To Be or Not To Be a State? There is, however, another way out for Hamas. It can call and raise Washington’s and Tel Aviv's bets. How? By voting to dissolve the Palestinian Authority. Ending the PA would dump the Palestinian territories and their inhabitants right back in Israel’s lap. Under international law, as the occupying power, Israel would be responsible for everything in the territories: security, human services, utilities and infrastructure, the economy, the whole megillah (oy!). Israel could try to restore the PA in cooperation with Fatah, but if Fatah joined Israel in doing so, it would destroy what legitimacy it has left. Hamas could meanwhile return to a 4GW war against Israel, unencumbered with the dubious assets of a state, and with lots more targets as Israel attempted to run the Palestinian Territories itself.
Historic India-China link to open China and India are due to open a historic trade route on Thursday that has been closed for 44 years.
Cheaper US housing overshadows world economy: Soros
Last year, he said, such activity in the U.S. real estate market provided a stimulus of around $450 billion to the economy, but the housing boom is slowing.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Consumer confidence rose in the latest week, bolstered by moderating gasoline prices, ABC News and the Washington Post said on Wednesday.

  • U.S. Factory orders were up 0.7% in May, more than expected. Excluding transport, factory orders were up 1.2%.

  • YoY retail sales in the Euro zone increased 0.8% in May.

  • YoY Chile's economy grew 6.1 percent in May.

  • Canada confirmed it's sixth case of mad cow disease.
Trade Deal Looks More Like a Distant Dream

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bank of Japan said to raise interest rate
The Bank of Japan will raise a key interest rate to 0.25 percent from zero next week, a news report said Tuesday, amid conflicting signals from government officials over the wisdom of such a move.
Not Enough Fish in the Sea
This shouldn’t surprise us. During the Palaeolithic, human beings ate roughly the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as omega-6s(10). Today we eat 17 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. Omega-6s are found in vegetable oils, while most of the omega-3s we eat come from fish. ..
However … we probably do not have a sustainable supply of long chain omega 3 fats.”(14) Our brain food is disappearing.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Quick Overview

  • Institute of Supply Management's index of U.S. manufacturing dropped from 54.4 to 53.8 in June

  • Inflation worries took their toll on parts of the U.S. Midwest and south-central region. An index of June business conditions took its biggest one-month tumble in more than six years, according to a nine-state survey released by Creighton University on Monday.

  • The Commerce Department said that construction spending was at $1.21 billion in May, down 0.4% from April's rate.

  • Japans Tankan survey increased from +20 in May to +21 in June.
    The unemployment rate in the Euro zone improved from 8.0% to 7.9% in May. In the EU-25.

  • Manufacturing in the Euro zone increased from 57.0 to 57.7 in June, the highest score in six years.

  • Manufacturing for the U.K. increased from 53.5 to 55.1 in June, the highest in almost two years.

  • Retail sales in Australia were down 0.3% in May.

  • China has squeaked by Britain by the tiniest of margins to become the world's fourth-largest economy, according to the World Bank's latest calculations.

  • The USDA said there were 60.9 million hogs and pigs in inventory on June 1st, up 0.3% YoY.

  • The U.S. and Canada tentatively agreed to a seven-year trade agreement for softwood lumber.

  • The U.S. spring wheat crop is suffering from dry conditions in the Dakotas and northern Minnesota.

  • Long-range weather outlooks are forecasting hotter and drier conditions for the Midwest.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bush's Assault on Freedom: What's To Stop Him?
Americans are going to have to decide which is the greater threat: terrorists, or the Republican Party's determination to shred American civil liberties and the separation of powers in the name of executive power and the "war on terror."
Did Bush commit war crimes?
But here's where the rubber really hits the road. Under federal criminal law, anyone who "commits a war crime … shall be fined … or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death." And a war crime is defined as "any conduct … which constitutes a violation of Common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva." In other words, with the Hamdan decision, U.S. officials found to be responsible for subjecting war on terror detainees to torture, cruel treatment or other "outrages upon personal dignity" could face prison or even the death penalty.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. personal incomes were up 0.4% in May and consumer spending was up 0.4%.

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index increased from 79.1 to 84.9 in June, more than expected.

  • The National Association of Purchasing Managers' index of Chicago business activity dropped from 61.5 to 56.5 in June.

  • The unemployment rate in Japan improved from 4.1% to 4.0% in May, the lowest in eight years. YoY Japan's consumer prices were up 0.6% in May.

  • YoY GDP growth in the U.K. was revised from an increase of 2.2.% to 2.3% in the first quarter

  • Germany's retail sales were down 2.2% in May, but up 1.9% YoY.

  • The USDA estimated U.S. planted acres this spring:
    79.4 million acres of corn, down 3% from a year ago, but up 2% from the March estimate.
    74.9 million acres of soybeans, up 4% from a year ago, but down 3% from the March estimate.
    57.9 million acres of (all) wheat, up 1% from a year ago and up 1% from the March estimate.
    15.3 million acres of cotton, up 7% from a year ago and up 5% from the March estimate.

  • The USDA reported U.S. grains stocks as of June 1st:
    4.36 billion bushels of corn, up 1% from a year ago.
    990 million bushels of soybeans, up 42% from a year ago.
    568 million bushels of all wheat, up 5% from a year ago.