Saturday, September 30, 2006

Swiss plan tunnel under Strait of Gibraltar
The Swiss Lombardi engineering firm has won the contract to design a railway tunnel between Europe and Africa running under the Strait of Gibraltar.

G.O.P. Leaders Knew in Late ’05 of E-Mail
Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.

White House on a Rampage Against the Constitution RALPH NADER
So long as the lawyers and their bar associations in America do not challenge the advancing dictatorial powers of George W. Bush, so long as citizen groups, labor unions and libertarians, conservatives and liberals avoid uniting together, these constitutional crimes against due process, probable cause, habeas corpus, together with torture and indefinite imprisonment at the whim of the Executive branch, will worsen and erode American jurisprudence with serious consequences for both the nation's security and its liberties.

Remember that telling thought by the British Parliamentarian, Edmund Burke, at the time of the American Revolution: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Rounding Up U.S. Citizens
Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, "unlawful enemy combatants."
Bush & Co. has portrayed the bill as a tough way to deal with aliens to protect us against terrorism. Frightened they might lose their majority in Congress in the November elections, the Republicans rammed the bill through Congress with little substantive debate.

Benjamin Franklin's prescient warning should give us pause: "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."
Bush faces wave of challenges to terror law
"The fact that they are denying the right of habeas corpus is so unlawful and unconstitutional that it throws us back to before King John and the Magna Carta," said Michael Ratner, president of the Centre for Constitutional Rights"

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety: Benjamin Franklin

The Blind Leading the Willing
A compromise between those who don't care and those who don't want to know.
By Dahlia Lithwick
We've reached a defining moment in our democracy when our elected officials are celebrating their own blind ignorance as a means of keeping the rest of us blindly ignorant as well.

The Antifederalists Were Right
September 27 marks the anniversary of the publication of the first of the Antifederalist Papers in 1789. The Antifederalists were opponents of ratifying the US Constitution. They feared that it would create an overbearing central government, while the Constitution's proponents promised that this would not happen. As the losers in that debate, they are largely overlooked today. But that does not mean they were wrong or that we are not indebted to them.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Personal incomes were up 0.3% in August while consumer spending was up 0.1%.

  • The Chicago Purchasing Managers' index increased from 57.1 to 62.1 in September, more than expected

  • The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment increased from 82.0 to 85.4 in September, more than expected.

  • Canada's GDP was up 0.2% in July and up 2.5% YoY.

  • Consumer prices in Tokyo were up 0.4% YoY. In all of Japan, consumer prices were up 0.9% YoY.
    Japan's unemployment rate was unchanged in August at 4.1%.

  • Consumer prices in the Euro zone were up 1.8% in September YoY,

  • The USDA said that, on September 1st, there were:
    1.97 billion bushels of corn in storage, down 7% YoY
    449 million bushels of soybeans in storage, up 75% YoY -- the most since 1986.
    1.74 billion bushels of wheat in storage, down 9% YoY.
    The USDA estimates 2006-2007 U.S. wheat production at 1.81 billion bushels, a bit more than expected.

  • The USDA said there were 62.7 million hogs in inventory on September 1st, up 1.4% YoY. Hogs kept for breeding were up 1.8% YoY.

  • It's getting hard to grow oranges in the Sunshine State. Months long droughts are broken by nasty hurricane seasons. Three diseases that kill and damage citrus trees and fruit continue to spread.

Bank faulted over data transfers to U.S
The Belgian banking consortium Swift breached European privacy rules when it aided the U.S. anti-terrorism program by providing confidential information about money transfers, Belgium's privacy protection commission concluded Thursday.
"It has to be seen as a gross miscalculation by Swift that it has, for years, secretly and systematically transferred massive amounts of personal data for surveillance without effective and clear legal basis and independent controls in line with Belgian and European law," the report said

Ashcroft Is Denied Immunity in Case A federal judge in Idaho has ruled that former attorney general John D. Ashcroft can be held personally responsible for the wrongful detention of a U.S. citizen arrested as a "material witness" in a terrorism case.

Deficit comes in below projections, thanks to `off-budget' borrowing The U.S. government closes the books on fiscal 2006 Saturday, and politicians are likely to trumpet that the federal deficit came in almost $60 billion below projections. Problem is, they won't be using the same math you use.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Senate OKs detainee interrogation bill
"The habeas corpus language in this bill is as legally abusive of rights guaranteed in the Constitution as the actions at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and secret prisons that were physically abusive of detainees," said Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Armed Services panel.

Something bad is about to happen. Only you can stop it, and the clock is ticking.

We hate to sound apocalyptic. We loathe the politics of fear (even if it works!). So we're not looking to scare you.

But you need to know that the end is near for "archaic" ideas like . . .
* the right to security in your home and papers
* the right to be free from unreasonable searches
* the safety net of judicial warrant requirements
* the right to a trial by a jury of your peers in a system of due process
* reasonable bail and recourse for false arrest
* protection from cruel and unusual punishment

Those were great ideals for "dead white men," but apparently your children won't need them anymore. Because, you know, the politicians need to protect you and your children from terrorism.

But the politicians need to get a grip, and a sense of proportion. You don't turn the country upside down for light and transient causes. You're more likely to die in your car, or be struck by lightening, than be harmed by terrorism.
We don't fret about such risks, so why are destroying American freedom in the name of an even smaller risk?

A bill is about to pass the House. It permits unlimited spying on your internet usage and telecommunications, the Fourth Amendment be damned. For brevity, I'll call it the "Spying on Americans Act," or SPA for short.The SPA is likely to pass the Senate too, but there we have a chance to stop it.

Under SPA . . .
* The President can spy on you without a warrant
* You'll never learn that his spys have done so, until they use the information against you (legally or not)
* Your phone and internet providers can't refuse to provide information about you * Or tell you they've done so after the fact

The result will be more warrantless searches than in all of U.S. history. And if that history is any guide, it's only a matter of time before this power is used for reasons other than "national security."

Read Whole Story

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety: Benjamin Franklin

Quick Overview

  • U.S. corporate profits were up 0.3% in the second quarter.

  • The U.S. Commerce Department estimates US GDP growth in the second quarter at of 2.6%, down from the previous estimate of 2.9%. YoY GDP was up 3.5%.

  • Copper demand growth in China, the world's biggest consumer of the metal, may slow to 5.6 percent this year, as record prices prompt makers of cables, wires and air-conditioners to switch to cheaper substitutes. Consumption may be 3.8 million metric tons, versus 3.86 million tons and last year's growth of 9 percent.

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 6,000 last week to 316,000.

  • The International Grains Council lowered global wheat production by 5 million tons to 588 million tons.

  • AWB Ltd. lowered the estimate of Australia's wheat crop from 16.4 million tons to 13.5 million, down from 25.1 million tons last year. Hot and dry conditions have hurt this year's crop.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas rose 77 billion cubic feet to 3.254 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are up 13% YoY.

  • German September unemployment fell 17,000 to 4.43 million, the fifth drop in the past six months.

  • Retail sales in Japan increased 2.0% in August, more than expected.

  • France's GDP increased 1.2% in the second quarter, the best quarterly performance in over five years.

  • Worker productivity in the U.K. increased 1.8%.

  • The Chinese Yuan rose to a new 12-3/4-year high at 7.8957 Yuan/USD

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Durable goods orders were down 0.5% in August, weaker than expected. In July, orders were revised lower, from a 2.4% to a 2.7% decline.

  • U.S New home sales were up 4.1% MoM. New home inventory dropped from 7.0 to 6.6 months. YoY new home sales are down 16%.

  • The Mortgage Bankers Association said that YoY mortgage applications were down 21% last week.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil supplies were down 100,000 barrels to 324.8 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 6.3 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were up 2.1 million barrels.

  • U.K.s GDP rose 0.7% in the second quarter and 2.6% YoY.

  • Argentina built up monetary reserves of $28.725 billion which, however, it doesn't intend to use to repay the holdouts from its default in December 2001, Martin Redrado, president of Argentina's Central Bank said.

  • Japan's new Finance Minister Koji Omi said on Wednesday he saw no need to comment or act on movements in the euro/yen rate now and warned markets "I'm still an amateur" on currencies.

The Suspension of Habeas Corpus

House Passes Measure on Religion Suits

Health insurance premiums continue to soar

White House said to bar hurricane report

Most Iraqis Favor Immediate U.S. Pullout,

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Greenspan: Dump SarbOx He said the evidence is clear that Sarbanes-Oxley strictures are driving initial public stock offerings away from the New York Stock Exchange and to the London Stock Exchange.
The United States of Barbarism
The details of the torture deal vivify how our politicians no longer give a darn about maintaining even a pretense of due process. The agreement will permit the use of coerced confessions in military tribunals – turning the judicial clock back to the 1600s. The Washington Post noted that the agreement permits “defense attorneys to challenge the use of hearsay information obtained through coercive interrogations in distant countries only if they can prove it is unreliable.” Thus, there is a presumption of correctness to whatever accusation is bludgeoned out of people in secret prisons around the world.

Quick Overview

  • After a sharp downturn in August, The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence rose from 100.2 to 104.5 in September, the New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday

  • The confidence of American consumers edged up during the latest week, helped by lower gasoline prices and despite signs of a cooling U.S. economy, ABC News and The Washington Post said on Tuesday.

  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's manufacturing index rose from +3 to +9 in September, more than expected.

  • The National Cocoa Development Committee estimates Nigerian production at 220,000 tons of cocoa in 2006-2007, up 10% YoY.

  • Germany's September Ifo business confidence index fell slightly to 104.9 from 105.0 in August, but was stronger than market expectations for a decline to 104.4.

  • Canada officially posted at C$13.2 billion federal budget surplus in 2005-2006, the third largest ever.

  • YoY the Mexican economy expanded 5.00 percent in July.

General: Appeals for More Troops Were Denied Adding to criticism of the Bush administration's prosecution of the war in Iraq, a retired senior general who commanded an infantry division in the conflict said Monday that requests by commanders for more soldiers were repeatedly turned down.

Million unexploded cluster bombs could be in Lebanon
The bomblets, half the size of a can of soda, are lying in people’s houses, gardens, on the street and on farmland, he said.
So far, 14 people have been killed and around 90 injured from unexploded ordnance ..

Monday, September 25, 2006

A textbook definition of cowardice
..But if his own fitness to serve is of no true concern to him, perhaps we should simply sigh and keep our fingers crossed, until a grown-up takes the job three Januarys from now.
Except for this.
After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts—that he was president on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.
Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.
As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him, by proxy.
Thus, the sandbag effort by Fox News Friday afternoon.
Consider the timing: the very weekend the National Intelligence Estimate would be released and show the Iraq war to be the fraudulent failure it is—not a check on terror, but fertilizer for it.

Quick Overview

  • A top U.S. Federal Reserve official said on Monday the economy is doing well but inflation remains a concern, in remarks that challenge views the central bank will cut interest rates early next year.

  • The National Association of Realtors said that U.S. existing home sales were at an annual rate of 6.30 million units in August, more than expected. The median home price was down 1.7% from a year ago, the first annual drop in eleven years.

  • Canada posted a C$13.2 billion budget surplus for the 2005-06 fiscal year.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

US housing slump may prompt Fed to reduce rates
Signs of a crumbling U.S. housing market and worries that the slump may hurt the overall economy are feeding the idea the central bank will be forced to trim short-term interest rates sooner than many had forecast.

County pension hedge fund loss nearly doubles
The county pension system's estimated losses from the crash of a Connecticut-based hedge fund have climbed to $87 million, nearly twice the figure given just two days ago.

(Hedge fund Amaranth Advisors LLC, which lost about $6 billion trading natural gas futures this month, said it plans to stay in business but has sworn off energy trading. Amaranth founder Nicholas Maounis told investors Friday on a conference call that)

U.N. Torture Investigator: Iraq Now As Bad As Under Saddam
"The situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand," said Manfred Nowak. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it had been in the times of Saddam Hussein."

Quick Overview

  • Consumer spending in France increased 3.3% in August, more than expected

  • Mexico's central bank, wary of a rapid spike in inflation, held its benchmark overnight interest rate at 7 percent on Friday and sent mixed messages over what its next move might be.

  • Big Japanese manufacturers grew more confident about business conditions in the three months to September, a government survey showed on Friday, underscoring the economy's resilience

  • The USDA said that there were 10.986 million head of cattle on feed as of September 1st, up 9.9% YoY. August placements were up 15% YoY, and marketing’s were up 2%.

  • The USDA said that there were 13.9 million pounds of frozen bellies in storage, down 37% YoY.

  • The USDA said that frozen pork supplies totaled 404.9 million pounds, down 2% YoY.

  • The USDA said that there were 888 million pounds of frozen orange juice concentrate in storage, down 36% YoY.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were up 7,000 last week to 318,000.

  • The Conference Board's index of leading indicators was down 0.2%

  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional manufacturing index dropped from 18.5 to -.4 in September,

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that supplies of natural gas were up 93 billion cubic feet last week to 3.177 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are now up 13% from a year ago.

  • Canada's retail sales up 1.5% MoM and up 5.7% YoY.

  • Net inflows to US commodity-linked mutual funds in the year to August were $107m, compared with $3.8bn in the same period of 2005.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The Federal Reserve kept the federal funds rate unchanged at 5.25%, as expected.

  • Japan's trade surplus widened 95.5 percent to 200.5 billion yen as exports to the United States grew 19.3 percent and exports to China rose 20.0 percent YoY.

  • Canada's composite index of leading indicators increased 0.2%.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were down 2.8 million barrels at 324.9 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 600,000 barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were up 600,000 barrels.

  • Hedge fund Amaranth, agreed to sell its energy trading positions to JPMorgan Chase and Citadel, and entering talks to sell nonenergy assets to Citigroup .

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The net worth of U.S. households increased 0.1% in the second quarter to $53.3 trillion, the slowest gain in nearly four years, the Federal Reserve said Tuesday.

  • U.S. Housing starts fell 6% more than expected to the lowest rate in more than three years.

  • U.S. Producer prices rose 0.1% in August up 3.7% YoY.

  • China's central bank governor, admitting the challenge posed by China's trade surplus, on Tuesday described currency reforms so far as important and said their impact would be felt over time.

  • Canada's consumer prices increased 2.1% YoY

  • Australia's Bureau of Agricultural said the country will harvest 16.4 million tons of wheat, down 35% YoY.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Bush owes us an apology
Sept. 18: “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann offers a special comment on George Bush’s Rose Garden

The President of the United States owes this country an apology.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. current-account deficit widened more than forecast last quarter to the second-largest on record as the trade gap expanded and the Treasury paid more interest to overseas investors. Foreign purchases of U.S. securities totaled $54.5 billion in July, while U.S. purchases of foreign securities totaled $21.6 billion.

  • Canadian investors bought C$6.3 billion of foreign securities in July while foreign investors bought C$3.2 billion of Canadian securities.

Keillor: Coffee, tea or TATP
The way to stop terrorists on planes is to encourage passengers to bring loaded firearms aboard: guys in orange vests sitting in exit rows with deer rifles on their laps, ladies with Mr. Colt in their purses, kids with peashooters. Somebody wake up the NRA. Does the Second Amendment say ''The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed except on commercial airliners''? Where is the right wing when you really need them?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

ECB Officials Say Inflation Pressures May Persist
European Central Bank officials said inflation pressures may persist beyond 2007, indicating they'll keep raising interest rates into next year.

U.S. war prisons legal vacuum for 14,000
"If you, God forbid, are an innocent Afghan who gets sold down the river by some warlord rival, you can end up at Bagram and you have absolutely no way of clearing your name," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch in New York. "You can't have a lawyer present evidence, or do anything organized to get yourself out of there."

The U.S. government has contended it can hold detainees until the "war on terror" ends — as it determines.
"I don't think we've gotten to the question of how long," said retired admiral John D. Hutson, former top lawyer for the U.S. Navy. "When we get up to 'forever,' I think it will be tested" in court, he said.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that consumer prices were up 0.2% and up 3.8% YoY. Excluding food and energy prices were up 0.2% and up 2.8% YoY.

  • U.S. Industrial production was down 0.1%.

  • The New York Federal Reserve's regional manufacturing index increased from 11.0 to 13.8.

  • China announced a cut in its export tax rebates reducing advantages it provides to Chinese exporters in order to curb its trade surplus which hit a record high of $18.8 billion in August. The export rebates were cut on steel, coal, natural gas and textiles.

  • In the EU-12 consumer prices were up 2.3% YoY.

  • China and India must move to curb corruption or else their booming economies will likely falter, a senior World Bank official said on Friday.

  • Japan’s publicly traded real estate investment trusts and unlisted property funds saw their aggregate assets increase about 80% YoY to nearly 8 trillion yen (US$68.4 billion)

  • The International Monetary Fund warns that Britain's overvalued housing market is vulnerable to further increases in interest rates.
Hacker's delight
The Bush administration’s flagship missile defense program relies on a complex communications network crossing eleven time zones to detect and intercept incoming missiles. One would think such a system would have top-notch security—but it doesn’t. According to the Defense Department’s own Office of Inspector General, poor planning and human error has rendered the communications network extremely vulnerable to hackers.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

County foreclosures quadruple U.S. rate
Statewide, 16,533 homes entered some stage of foreclosure in August, more than any other state in the country and a jump of more than 50 percent over July, RealtyTrac said. On a year-over-year basis, considered the most accurate comparison because it eliminates seasonal differences, the 16,533 foreclosures statewide in August represented a 62 percent increase over the previous August, when there were 10,175, the report shows.

Americans More Likely to be Shot by Law Enforcement than Killed by Terrorists

Clooney, Wiesel tell UN time running out in Darfur
"In many ways it is unfair but it is nevertheless true that this genocide will be on your watch. How you deal with it will be your legacy," Clooney said. "Your Rwanda, Your Cambodia, your Auschwitz."

Quick Overview

  • U.S. retail sales jumped 0.2% in August, the Commerce Department reported Thursday

  • U.S. Business sales were up 0.6% in July, the same as inventories.

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 5,000 last week to 308,000.

  • Retail sales in the U.K. were up 0.3% in August.

  • The Swiss National Bank increased its interest rate from 1.50% to 1.75%.

  • The IMF raised its global GDP growth forecasts to +5.1% for 2006 and to +4.9% for 2007, both up by 0.2 percentage points.

  • The IMF reduced its forecast for US GDP growth for 2007 to +2.9% from +3.3%.

  • China's M2 money supply growth eased to +17.9% in August.

  • Argentina's economy grew 7.9 percent in the second quarter compared with the same period of 2005, outpacing expectations but reflecting a slowdown from the first quarter.

  • Goldfields Mineral Services said that world gold mine production in the first half of 2006 was down 1.5% YoY.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 108 billion cubic feet to 3.084 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are up 12% YoY.

The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," said Powell, who served under Bush and is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."

U.N. Inspectors Dispute Iran Report By House Panel
"This is like prewar Iraq all over again," said David Albright, a former nuclear inspector who is president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. "You have an Iranian nuclear threat that is spun up, using bad information that's cherry-picked and a report that trashes the inspectors."

Ice caps are melting even in winter, global warming evidence mounts
NASA has measured sea ice since 1978, compiling an average of wintertime melt. In the last two winters -- 2005 and 2006 -- an extra 6 percent has melted.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Quick Overview

  • MBA mortgage applications rose 3.2% to a 4-month high. 30-year mortgage rates are currently at 6.47%, down by 33 bp from the 4-year high of 6.80% in July.

  • China's Aug industrial production rose 15.7% a 1-1/2 year low.

  • UK unemployment claims fell by 3,900 to 950,100 and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.0%.

  • Consumer confidence in Australia rose from 90.0 to 101.2 in September.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that::
    Supplies of crude oil were down 3.9 million barrels last week to 327.7 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 100,000 barrels.
    Supplies of heating oil were up 1.4 million barrels.

Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs
Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.
The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. trade deficit rose to a record $68 billion in July on declining exports and soaring imports, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

  • The confidence of American consumers edged higher last week on falling gasoline prices, ABC News and The Washington Post said on Tuesday.

  • Industrial production in India increased 12.4% YoY

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

  • Canada's exports totaled C$38.5 billion in July, up 2.1% MoM, imports gained 3.1% to C$34.6 billion.

  • YoY retail sales in China were up of 13.8% in August, more than expected.
    China's fixed-asset investment in August slowed to +21.5% YoY from +27.4% in July. In the year through August, fixed-asset investment rose +29.1% which was less than the consensus expectation of +30%.

  • The USDA's 2006-2007 U.S. ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was reduced from 1.232 to 1.220 billion bushels.
    Soybeans were increased from 450 to 530 million bushels.
    Wheat was reduced from 434 to 429 million bushels.
    Sugar was increased from 1.609 to 1.756 million tons.
    Cotton was reduced from 4.70 to 4.60 million bales.

  • The USDA's 2006-2007 world ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was reduced from 93 to 92 million tons.
    Soybeans were increased from 50 to 52 million tons.
    Wheat was reduced from 128 to 126 million tons.
    Cotton was reduced from 48 to 47 million bales.

  • Canada’s canola stocks totaled 2.02 million tons, up 27% YoY.
    Canada's wheat stocks totaled 9.74 million tons, up 23% YoY.

Monday, September 11, 2006

How US merchants of fear sparked a $130bn bonanza
Five years after the World Trade Centre fell, a highly lucrative industry has been born in America - homeland security. There has been a goldrush as companies scoop up government contracts and peddle products that they say are designed to make America safe.

The figures are stunning. Seven years ago there were nine companies with federal homeland security contracts. By 2003 it was 3,512. Now there are 33,890. The money is huge. Since 2000, $130bn (£70bn) of contracts have been dished out. By 2015 annual federal spending on the industry could be $170bn.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. economy is growing strongly despite a slowing housing sector, even though inflation remains above the central bank's comfort level, two top Federal Reserve officials said.

  • Japan's government changed its estimate of GDP growth for the April to June quarter from 0.8% to 1.0%.

  • Japan’s machinery orders were down 16.7% in July, the biggest drop in some 20 years.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Japan's producer prices rose at the fastest pace in 25 years, increasing pressure on profits as companies try to pass on rising oil and commodity costs.

  • Canada's housing starts were down 9.6% MoM and weaker than expected.

  • England: House prices have doubled in just four years with the average home in England now topping the 200,000 barrier. Annual house price growth is running at its fastest rate for 14 months.

  • Exxon Mobil Australia chief executive Mark Nolan said the theory that oil supplies had peaked and would dwindle over the next 20 years was of 'no value', having surfaced regularly since the 1920s during times of high oil prices.

  • Mexico's economic growth will slow to an "inadequate" rate of about 3.5 percent next year, the central bank said on Monday.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Top soldier quits as blundering campaign turns into 'pointless' war
“All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British,” he said. “It’s a pretty clear equation — if people are losing homes and poppy fields, they will go and fight. I certainly would.
“We’ve been grotesquely clumsy — we’ve said we’ll be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them.”

Slipped His Moorings
by Charley Reese

Let's not play around. Am I saying the president is crazy? No, not in the clinical sense. But, if he believes that bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin and Lenin are comparable, if he truly believes he is leading the free world in the great ideological war of the 21st century, then he has cut his anchor chain and drifted off into the Sea of Delusion.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The global economy continues to grow briskly but the risks of an economic downturn have increased since April, the head of the International Monetary Fund Rodrigo Rato said on Friday.

  • The USDA said that U.S. 2005-2006 exports of:
    Corn finished the year up 20% YoY.
    Soybeans finished the year down 15% YoY.

  • Canada's unemployment rate increased from 6.4% to 6.5% in August,

  • The Conference Board's index of leading indicators for Japan showed a decline of 0.5% in July to 101.1. The Bank of Japan kept its interest rate unchanged at 0.25%.

  • SHANGHAI China on Friday launched its first financial derivatives exchange.

  • Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and fellow OPEC producers signaled on Saturday they would keep output near a 25-year high for now, satisfied the policy is easing pressure on consumer economies.

  • Czech economic growth slowed to 6.2% in second quarter Gross Domestic Product grew by 6.1 in the second quarter of 2005 and by 6.1 percent during the year.

  • South Korea yesterday lifted its ban on US beef imposed in 2003 because of fears of mad cow disease.

Humans 'hardwired for religion'

"They have basically said there are two types of people in the world," he said - "those who believe in the supernatural and those who do not. But almost everyone entertains some form of irrational beliefs even if they are not religious.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 9,000 last week to 310,000

  • U.S. Wholesale inventories rose 0.8% in July, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

  • The National Association of Realtors said they expect U.S. existing home sales to be down 7.6% in 2006 and new home sales to be down 16.1%.

  • The unemployment rate in Australia increased from 4.8% to 4.9%

  • Industrial production in Germany was up 1.2% in July.

  • It could take several years for a key measure of inflation to ease from current high levels. Meanwhile the Federal Reserve must be biased toward more interest rate increases, the head of the San Francisco Fed said on Thursday.

  • Assets of the nation's retail money market mutual funds rose by $5.17 billion in the latest week to $922.87 billion, the Investment Company Institute said Thursday.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that :
    Supplies of crude oil were down 2.2 million barrels to 330.6 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 700,000 barrels.
    Supplies of heating oil supplies were up 400,000 barrels.

The Pro-War Media's Re-Positioning Problem
by Gary North
The cost of war rises. A fundamental law of economics then asserts itself: "When the cost of anything rises, less of it is demanded."
Simultaneously, the promised benefits of the war retreat into the distance. Another law of economics reasserts itself: "Future benefits are discounted compared to present benefits." There are no present benefits, except for the defense industry.
Costs today are rising relentlessly. Benefits are being pushed into the distant future relentlessly. We have passed the turning point. Estimating the cost-benefit ratio, voters have begun to cut and run.

War turns southern women away from GOP
A recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that three out of five Southern women surveyed said they planned to vote for a Democrat in the midterm elections.