Reading Digest – 14 August 2012   Leave a comment

“Ow!  Ow!  After lunch, can I whip you?” – Homer Simpson
“Nope.” – Hooded Guy
“Aw, no fair.  Ow!” – Homer Simpson
“Hmm, I wonder what makes it turn?” – Lenny
“Who cares?” – Carl

Austerians Smile:

bbclogo1 Eurozone economy shrinks by 0.2% – And there’s no mystery as to why:

"What we see is a vicious circle of budget cuts, high interest rates in the periphery and sovereign debt rising," said Aline Schuiling at ABN Amro.

"Policymakers are moving very slowly. We expect another contraction in Q3."

nytimeslogo1 Euro Zone’s Economy Declines Less Than Expected – The Times gets it too:

Still, news that the euro zone has shifted from stagnation to decline puts added pressure on euro zone leaders as they trickle back from vacation and again confront the debt crisis. Slower growth almost automatically translates into lower tax receipts, because people lose their jobs and companies earn less profit. That, in turn, puts even more stress on government budgets.

Then drops the ball in the final paragraph:

Spain and Italy and other troubled countries have begun taking steps to improve growth by deregulating their labor markets, removing bureaucratic barriers to entrepreneurship, and other measures. But such changes typically take years to bear fruit, and in the meantime stir political turmoil because of resistance from unions or other interest groups.

They’re so close to saying that “deregulating their labor markets, removing bureaucratic barriers to entrepreneurship, and other measures” won’t actually help, but they pull up just short of actually saying it.  I would pay real money to hear what the business section really thinks about Paul Krugman. 

Syrian Civil War:

aljazeeralogo1 UN humanitarian chief Amos arrives in Syria – First Kofi Annan, then Lakhdar Brahimi, now Valerie Amos:

The visit "aims to draw attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria and the impact of the conflict on people either remaining in Syria and who have fled to other countries, including Lebanon", the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs said.

While in Syria, Amos is expected to discuss ways of "urgently scaling-up relief efforts and reducing the suffering of civilians caught up in the fighting with the Syrian authorities, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other humanitarian partners”.

There’s probably a very good dark, absurdist comedy somewhere in the kabuki parade of international mediators that the Syrian government has to welcome and then politely ignore.  If they gave half a fuck about refugees and civilians, no one would need to be there to talk to them in the first place.  Catch-22 really is the best one there is. 

bbclogo1 Syria’s ex-PM Riad Hijab says regime is collapsing:

Two million people are now estimated to have been affected by the crisis and over one million have been internally displaced. More than 140,000 people have fled the violence and crossed into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

Photos of where the luckier ones will end up.

The Blowback from Bush/Obama’s Undermining of American Courts:

aljazeeralogo1 Ecuador to decide on Assange plea ‘this week’:

"We have to look at the possibility that he may be extradited to the United States, that there may be a secret court there, that he may face the death penalty."

The Australian Tourist Board Must Love This:

aljazeeralogo1 Asylum seekers feared dead off Australia:

The plan came a step closer to reality when Tony Abbott, the conservative opposition leader, announced that his coalition would support enabling legislation when it goes to a vote in parliament on Tuesday.

His support ensures that the legislation can pass the senate this week without the votes of the Greens party, a key government ally, which has condemned the deportation of would-be refugees as cruel.

Clare said a temporary detention camp on Nauru, established by a previous administration and scrapped in 2008 when Labor first came to power, would be opened "within weeks rather than months".

The camp at Papua New Guinea, which Labor also scrapped in 2008 because it was regarded as cruel and a waste of money, would be opened "as soon as possible", he said.

bbclogo1 Australia asylum: MPs debate Nauru and PNG centres:

When the Labor government under Kevin Rudd came to power in 2007, it ended the Pacific Solution.

The controversial policy was introduced in 2001 by the government of John Howard, in response to a reported rise in the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat.

Processing centres were set up on Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, the governments of the two nations receiving millions of dollars in aid in exchange.

The Australian navy diverted all boats carrying asylum seekers to those camps, where many were detained for months – sometimes years – under high security.

Some went on hunger strike to protest against their living conditions and continued detention.

So it didn’t work the first time, but, with none of the fundamental problems having been addressed, government confidence is high that this time it’ll be much different.  Good luck with that.

North Korea Opening Up a Tiny Bit:

aljazeeralogo1 N Korea and Japan to talk after four years:

A senior Japanese bureaucrat will lead the delegation for the meeting in Beijing, which comes after Red Cross societies from both sides met to discuss the repatriation of remains from Japan’s occupation of the peninsula.

Representatives from both governments will meet in the Chinese capital on August 29 to hash out the agenda for future meetings.

bbclogo1 North Korea: Kim Jong-un’s uncle in China visit:

Chang Song-taek, who some observers believe is the key power behind Kim Jong-un, arrived in Beijing on Monday, state media said.

Mr Chang will discuss joint development of two special economic zones, KCNA news agency said.

Fit to Print:

nytimeslogo1 Sheldon Adelson’s Frontman in China Is Focus of Inquiries:

When Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, needed something done in China, he often turned to his company’s “chief Beijing representative,” a mysterious businessman named Yang Saixin.

[…]

But today, Mr. Yang, along with tens of millions of dollars in payments the Sands made through him in China, is a focus of a wide-ranging federal investigation into potential bribery of foreign officials and other matters in China and Macau, according to people with direct knowledge of the inquiries.

The investigations are unfolding as Mr. Adelson has become an increasing presence in this year’s presidential election, contributing at least $35 million to Republican groups. On Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, is to appear at a fund-raiser at the Sands’s Venetian casino in Las Vegas; Mr. Adelson is likely to attend, a person close to him said.

You play in dirt, you get dirty. 

nytimeslogo1 On Wall Street, the Rising Cost of High-Speed Trading – Speaking of crooked casinos:

The advantages of the nation’s increasingly high-speed stock market are under the microscope after a number of recent trading malfunctions underscored the risks and instability that have come with the rapid changes. This month, one of Wall Street’s most important trading firms, Knight Capital, lost $440 million in 45 minutes after installing faulty software designed to keep up with an evolving market.

As the battle to introduce more sophisticated technology continues, raising the specter of more problems like Knight’s, the diminishing returns flowing back to investors are making even longtime proponents of innovation question whether the competition to make the market faster and more efficient is now doing more harm than good.

nytimeslogo1 Young Immigrants Poised for Deportation Deferral Program – The Obama Administration has been awful on immigration generally, but this is legitimately good news:

The work permit young immigrants can receive with the deferral opens many doors that have been firmly shut. They can obtain valid Social Security numbers and apply for driver’s licenses, professional certificates and financial aid for college.

It’s also good news that will evaporate if that candy ass Wall Street goober takes the oath of office in January.  Just sayin’. 

Posted August 14, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, The Simpsons

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