February 15, 2013

Weekend Topic Suggestions

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Comment by frankie
2013-02-15 04:02:38

Surprise drop in UK retail sales as snow hits food stores
British retail sales posted a surprise fall in January as unusually snowy weather hit small food stores hard, with food sales dropping to the lowest level in nearly nine years.

The Office for National Statistics said sales volumes including automotive fuel fell 0.6pc on the month and on the year – confounding economists’ forecasts for higher sales.

The ONS said the main reason behind the falls was bad weather during the month, which forced some smaller grocers to close.

People also bought less food with quantities down 2.6pc year-on-year to the lowest level since April 2004.

However, food bought online rose by 27.1pc compared with January 2012. It now makes up 3.7pc of all sale in the sector and is the highest on record. The rise in online shopping benefited larger stores, which fared better than the small grocers.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9872301/Surprise-drop-in-UK-retail-sales-as-snow-hits-food-stores.html

Economist wrong and surprise drop in retail sales; well that’s novel, doesn’t often happen like this ;)

Comment by MacBeth
2013-02-15 07:41:26

Yet even a quick, 60-cent plus rise in gasoline prices here in the United States during the past 6 weeks will not quell economic activity here.

Nor will a recession across Europe.

Or so our economic pundits say.

Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-15 09:21:31

I have to say, gas prices in the USA, when they rise, they rise quickly. But the price increases of the past few weeks have been simply breathtaking.

Hurry up automakers! As soon as you have an affordable electric car with a 200 mile range, I’m in. Hopefully you will have one ready by the time I drive my current car into the ground.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-15 11:11:54

Same station we filled up for $2.59 a month ago at $3.39 today.

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 05:18:09

The banksters have won.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 05:39:10

World Briefing | Europe
Spain: Couple Commit Suicide Over Foreclosure Fear
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: February 12, 2013

A retired married couple committed suicide Tuesday and left a note saying they were going to lose their home, helping stoke an outcry over Spain’s tough eviction laws. The 68-year-old man and 67-year-old woman took an overdose of prescription drugs at their apartment on the island of Majorca and their bodies were found by their son, said a spokesman for the Civil Guard who spoke on condition of anonymity because department rules prevent him from going on the record. The deaths increased to five the number of suicides linked to mortgage defaults and evictions in recent months as Spain’s financial crisis has deepened and the unemployment rate has reached 26 percent.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-15 06:44:48
 
Comment by frankie
2013-02-15 06:59:55

A man has died by setting himself on fire outside a job centre in France after being denied unemployment benefit.

Djamal Chaab, 43, sent a letter explaining his desperation to several newspapers in France before he poured petrol over himself outside the Pôle Emploi agency in Nantes Est on Wednesday night.

He died at the scene, despite efforts by the police to stop the act, according to the BBC. He was reportedly frustrated that his benefits had been stopped, having been told by authorities that he had not worked for enough to qualify by unemployment insurance.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/14/unemployment-benefit-jobless-man-_n_2684820.html

 
Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-15 07:02:41

A retired married couple committed suicide Tuesday and left a note saying they were going to lose their home, helping stoke an outcry over Spain’s tough eviction laws.

If you favor austerity, and kicking out the deadbeats, is their blood on your hands?

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-02-15 07:26:52

Well, our local racist fascist has showed up:

‘ is their blood on your hands’

Oh yeah, people squat in the US for years and nobody does anything. But those that don’t pay rent? Out you go.

You support drone strikes that have killed hundreds of innocent children. There sure is blood on your hands. What happened, they didn’t like your posts at the neo-nazi blogs?

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 07:30:28

“Oh yeah, people squat in the US for years and nobody does anything. But those that don’t pay rent? Out you go.”

Wealthy homeowners get everything in the U.S.A.

Poor renters get screwed.

It’ the American Way!

 
Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-15 07:36:42

they didn’t like your posts at the neo-nazi blogs?

Yep, they accused me of being small-d democrat.

 
Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-15 07:39:18

You support drone strikes that have killed hundreds of innocent children.

How many innocent children will die as a result of austerity and kicking out the deadbeats?

 
Comment by Ben Jones
2013-02-15 07:56:56

‘they accused me of being small-d democrat’

‘Halfway through the Justice Department white paper [PDF] defending the lawfulness of government-ordered assassinations of U.S. citizens, there is a curious reference to a dark chapter of American history.’

‘The memo, making the legal case for covertly expanding military operations across international borders, directs readers to an address by State Department legal adviser John R. Stevenson, “United States Military Action in Cambodia: Questions of International Law,” delivered to the New York Bar Association in 1970.’

‘The comparison is fitting in ways the Justice Department surely did not intend.’

‘William Shawcross, in 1979’s Sideshow: Kissenger. Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia , was the first to advance the theory that the meteoric rise of the Khmer Rouge was not in spite of the U.S. bombing campaign but because of it. Taylor Owen, the research director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia, and Ben Kiernan, director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale, have concluded that the full war archives, released by President Clinton in 2000, confirm this version of history.’

“The impact of this bombing… is clearer than ever,” they write. “Civilian casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in motion the expansion of the Vietnam War deeper into Cambodia, a coup d’etat in 1970, the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian genocide.”

‘Pakistani journalist Mohammed Hanif recently argued that the strikes are not only radicalizing the population but are “creating a whole new generation of people who will grow up thinking that this is what happened to us and now, now we want revenge.” In Pakistan and Yemen, Jo Becker and Scott Shane wrote in the New York Times, “drones have become the recruiting tool of choice for militants.”

‘In the words of retired General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, one can’t help but hear an echo of Charles Meyer, Richard Dudman, and other observers of the Cambodia campaign. “What scares me about the drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world,” McChrystal said last month. “The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes…is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”

 
Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-15 09:31:09

“Oh yeah, people squat in the US for years and nobody does anything. But those that don’t pay rent? Out you go.”

Wealthy homeowners get everything in the U.S.A.

Poor renters get screwed.

It’ the American Way!

What’s keeping you from squatting? Just find yourself one of those millions of vacant homes, move in and change the locks.

 
 
Comment by Pimp Watch
2013-02-15 07:32:48

Welcome back you liar.

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Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-15 08:05:59

Hey, bro.

 
Comment by Pimp Watch
2013-02-15 08:16:03

Ready to be schooled some more?

 
Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-15 08:34:12

Ready to be schooled some more?

If I can find a teacher.

 
 
Comment by Blue Skye
2013-02-15 10:08:02

“is their blood on your hands?…”

Austerity? “Austerity” means pay back some of the money you borrowed I guess. The money lenders want their vig from the debtors. No one asked me if it was wise for these mental defficients to sell themselves into debt slavery, not did I approve of lending them money they could not repay.

Suicide is a rather illogical remedy for losing a stupid house.

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Comment by SV guy
2013-02-15 05:43:59

For now.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-15 06:31:52

Forever.

Comment by frankie
2013-02-15 06:51:31

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3vCB3YBMUo

From a time when Greece had a future.

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Comment by goon squad
2013-02-15 07:01:40

We greatly enjoyed watching “The Boys From The Black Stuff” link that you shared. Was life in the UK in 1982 as bad as portrayed or was that an overdramatization of conditions then?

 
Comment by frankie
2013-02-15 07:11:55

It was grim up North. I recognize the Liverpool portrayed, I’ve even drank in the Green Man featured in one of the episodes; but as with all drama they over dramatize events.

Having said that if they’d featured the Grafton or the Norse man I doubt you’d believe what went on in there, or the strippers at the Griffin or the ladies at the New Dominion; from a time when I was young and very foolish.

 
Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-15 07:35:21

I lived in London in the mid-80s. The weather was bleak, the food was mostly bleak (pre-culinary revolution), but the music was great, as was the beer and the fish and chips.

Yuppification had begun, but it was in its infancy. The East End was still pretty rough.

The run-down large townhouse we rented is probably a swank home now.

 
 
 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 05:46:08

Goldman, Shell win Public Eye ‘shame’ awards at Davos
The awards are given for glaring cases of companies’ ‘greed’ for profit and environmental ‘sins’
AFP
Goldman’s derivative deals, which fudged Greece’s way into the euro zone, pawned the future of the Greek people, said Andreas Missbach, a financial expert from the Berne Declaration. Photo: AFP
First Published: Thu, Jan 24 2013. 11 09 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Jan 24 2013. 11 09 PM IST

Davos: Campaigners at Davos on Thursday awarded their annual Public Eye shame awards to Goldman Sachs and Shell “for particularly glaring cases of companies’ greed for profit and environmental sins”.

At an “award ceremony” on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Swiss chapter of Greenpeace and the Berne Declaration said Goldman Sachs had won the jury prize, while Shell had been chosen by online voters for the public award.

Goldman Sachs “is a key player in financially driven globalisation, which pays for profits of a few with exploding inequality and the impoverishment of broad strata,” the groups said in a statement.
They highlighted the investment bank’s role in the Greek debt crisis.
Goldman’s derivative deals, which fudged Greece’s way into the euro zone, pawned the future of the Greek people,” said Andreas Missbach, a financial expert from the Berne Declaration.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-15 06:33:43

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%.

Comment by Neuromance
2013-02-15 09:44:19

Of the highest bidder, by the highest bidder, for the highest bidder.

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Comment by MacBeth
2013-02-15 07:48:30

Are you sure you weren’t watching the Oscars?

 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 05:51:49

Just think how much economic potential could be unleashed among the American people if the playing field were leveled by taking away Megabank, Inc’s overwhelming monopoly power? It’s time to take America back from vampire squids and other blood-sucking Wall Street vermin!

Fair Game
How to Cut Megabanks Down to Size
By GRETCHEN MORGENSON
Published: January 19, 2013

IT is a prevailing myth in Washington: big bailouts are over for good. Never again, the line goes, could giant financial institutions imperil the nation’s economy.

This is nonsense, of course. Whatever regulators and lawmakers say, the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul lacks any guarantee that taxpayers won’t have to come to the rescue again.

So it was refreshing to hear a Federal Reserve System official debunk the bailouts-are-gone theory last week.

The official was Richard W. Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and a longstanding truth-teller about too-big-to-fail banks. On Wednesday, in a speech in Washington, Mr. Fisher laid out a compelling proposal for shrinking financial giants in order to protect taxpayers. He suggested that megabanks be chopped into pieces, so that no one of them could endanger the financial system if it ran into trouble.

That may sound like a return to the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that separated investment banking and commercial banking until it was dismantled in 1999. But Mr. Fisher’s plan is more sophisticated than Glass-Steagall, in that it recognizes how complex big financial institutions have become. Glass-Steagall concerned only old-school banking businesses, like making loans, and Wall Street businesses, like trading stocks. Today’s financial behemoths are in so many different businesses that a top-to-bottom restructuring is required.

Why? Mr. Fisher argued that megabanks not only threaten taxpayers with bailouts, but that their continuing failure to lend is also thwarting the Fed’s efforts to jump-start the economy by keeping interest rates low. “I submit that these institutions, as a result of their privileged status, exact an unfair tax upon the American people,” he told his audience. “Moreover, they interfere with the transmission of monetary policy and inhibit the advancement of our nation’s economic prosperity.

Comment by X-GSfixr
2013-02-15 10:19:36

“…continuing failure to lend…..”

It isn’t the lending. Just bought a car at 2.9%. All kinds of people want to lend money.

It’s that the shiftless, on their way to LuckyDuckie-land borrowers are afraid they won’t be able to pay it back.

 
Comment by rms
2013-02-15 23:31:47

“That may sound like a return to the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that separated investment banking and commercial banking until it was dismantled in 1999.”

Has “slick willy” ever been questioned about this deed?

 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 05:53:40

Zach Carter
SEC Revolving Door Fuels Wall Street’s Too Big To Fail Problem
Posted: 02/11/2013 12:01 am EST | Updated: 02/11/2013 12:44 pm

WASHINGTON — The steady flow of officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission into top corporate jobs feeds a regulatory culture of weak law enforcement and preferential treatment for big banks, according to a new report from the Project on Government Oversight.

The group, a non-partisan investigative watchdog, said information it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request shows 419 former SEC employees filed at least 1,949 disclosure statements revealing that they planned to represent a private-sector client with SEC business from 2001 to 2010. SEC employees are only required to file disclosure statements for the first two years after leaving the agency.

The flood of former SEC officials pressing the agency to go easy on their new private sector clients has influenced the outcome of dozens of cases in which the SEC issues official waivers exempting companies from standard penalties, the report said. These waivers appeared especially generous in cases involving repeat offenders — companies that the SEC sanctions for multiple violations within a few years.

Big banks routinely receive this special treatment from the SEC, even after repeatedly breaking the law, the Project on Government Oversight said.

“Since 2003, the SEC had granted exemptions to JPMorgan and its subsidiaries when they were charged with alleged misconduct relating to mortgage securities products, transactions with Enron, initial product offerings, and research analyst conflicts of interest,” the report said. JPMorgan Chase didn’t reply to a request for comment.

Comment by X-GSfixr
2013-02-15 10:23:30

The FAA has a policy of not allowing inspectors to be in a position of oversight of a former employer for (I believe) 3 years.

No reason you couldn’t do the same policy with the banks. Except they would probably circumvent it by hiring/bribing the former government officials with “speaking engagements” and “book signings”

 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 06:00:18

Former Federal Reserve Bank of New York City President Geithner has left the financial regulatory arena, but Elizabeth Warren is just getting warmed up.

This game is potentially about to get a lot more interesting.

WATCH: Sen. Elizabeth Warren Grills Regulators On Taking Banks To Trial
by Eyder Peralta
February 14, 2013 7:10 PM
YouTube

In her debut appearance today at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts made federal regulators uncomfortable when she asked a simple question: When was the last time you took a big Wall Street bank all the way to trial?

Masslive.com reports:

“Elisse B. Walter, chair of the SEC, said that although they can take financial institutions to trial, they typically do not go that route.

“‘As you know, among our remedies are penalties but the penalties we can get are limited,’ Walter said. ‘When we look at these issues, and we truly believe we have a very vigorous enforcement program, we look at the distinction between what we could get if we go to trial and what we could get if we don’t.’”

“We have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals,” Thomas Curry, the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks, added.

Warren said that she was worried that banks are simply paying fines from the profits they earned breaking regulatory rules.

I want to note that there are district attorneys and U.S. attorneys who are out there everyday squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial to ‘make an example,’ as they put it,” Warren said. “I am really concerned that too-big-to-fail has become too-big-for-trial.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 07:34:26

I’d pay good money to see Elizabeth Warren take down Jamie Dimon in a mud wrestling match.

Investment Banking | Legal/Regulatory
February 14, 2013, 5:13 pm

At Senate Hearing, Warren Comes Out Swinging

By BEN PROTESS
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts.Gary Cameron/ReutersSenator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Warren’s distaste for Wall Street defined her tenure as a regulator and her subsequent campaign for the Senate.

So it was no surprise when her inaugural appearance as a Senate Banking Committee member featured a scathing critique of financial risk-taking.

At a hearing on Thursday examining the oversight of the Dodd-Frank Act, Ms. Warren grilled top banking regulators on their response to Wall Street wrongdoing. Ms. Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts who helped create the Obama administration’s new consumer protection agency, pressed government officials to justify how they police big banks.

If they can break the law and drag in billions in profits and then turn around and settle paying out of those profits, then they don’t have much incentive to follow the law,” she declared, receiving a smattering of applause from the gallery. “The question I really want to ask is about how tough you are.

What followed was the Congressional equivalent of a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” moment. “Anyone?” she asked, receiving silence in reply.

 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-15 09:21:26

When she was on the Harvard Law faculty, Warren was called “Socrates with a machine gun.”

 
Comment by Bigguy
2013-02-15 09:56:30

Pandering shill politician looking for a sound bite. All this Elizabeth Warren worship has to end. (Not talking about you CIBT, just using your post to vent).

She’s a senator. That means she is a fraud and a shill. Will always put her own political future above what is right. Will always hedge and shade and dissemble to avoid alienating her supporters, regardless of what is right. It is all of them and they won’t do a goddamn thing to fix it.

Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-15 10:09:24

She causes pain to all the right people, though. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt just like I did Ron Paul.

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Comment by X-GSfixr
2013-02-15 12:25:58

I’m just optimistic enough to think that there are a few people still out there who are interested in enforcing the law, instead of using it as leverage for future job searches.

 
Comment by polly
2013-02-15 14:10:30

Professor Warren is already in her 60’s and any time she wants to not do what it takes to get re-elected to the Senate, she can go back to Harvard where I am sure they have an endowed chair with a lovely salary and exactly as much work as she feels like doing waiting for her. If she was in it for the money, she would have sold out long ago.

She is the real deal. Unfortunately she is only one person which means that her primary power is the power to embarrass. May she use it well.

 
Comment by Bigguy
2013-02-15 15:32:40

She will get exactly 0.0 percent done. She’s in the Senate for cripes sake. That means she is a member if the most elite club of sell outs to the interests around.

She is not the real deal, she is not the messiah, she is a politician. Every single one of them at that level is a sellout and a shill out for themselves. Wait until she writes some broad lines of failure and “compromise” across that blank slate.

Being a law professor at an elitist university doesn’t make you the real deal any more than it makes you an Apache.

 
Comment by polly
2013-02-15 20:31:11

So, you’ve never read any of her work at all, I take it.

Real deal doesn’t mean she is going to change everything. I said right in my post that all she will be able to do on her own is embarrass people. I will take that over not getting it.

Don’t imagine that everyone who admires Elizabeth Warren is as naive as you apparently are.

 
Comment by Bigguy
2013-02-15 20:45:32

She will embarrass no one that needs to be embarrassed. If she is the only lone voice in the wilderness crying for reform and then being blocked by the other senators then I’d expect her to embarrass them because they would be the real problem. Won’t happen. It’ll be fingerprinting at the other party, grandstanding to keep the supporters riled and mum about those in her own party blocking things just like the rest.

Oh my, call up the execs needing a bailout and whine about them taking private jets to the hearing, boo hoo, how embarrassing. As a Senator she will know the names, as a shill politician she won’t name the names. She won’t call out the corrupt incestuous nature of all those vampire squid ties to the current administration (or all administrations). She’ll just offer more of the same, pretending to ruffle feathers while cocktailing with them after hours.

It ain’t just her, it’s all of them.

Naive? Polly you work in Washington right? Who’s being naive?

 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-16 00:48:03

“She will embarrass no one that needs to be embarrassed.”

Get a clue. She is one of the few people in DC who say what needs to be said when it needs to be said.

Ryan Grim
Elizabeth Warren Embarrasses Hapless Bank Regulators At First Hearing (VIDEO)
Posted: 02/14/2013 5:14 pm EST | Updated: 02/14/2013 11:36 pm EST

WASHINGTON — Bank regulators got a sense Thursday of how their lives will be slightly different now that Elizabeth Warren sits on a Senate committee overseeing their agencies.

At her first Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing, Warren questioned top regulators from the alphabet soup that is the nation’s financial regulatory structure: the FDIC, SEC, OCC, CFPB, CFTC, Fed and Treasury.

The Democratic senator from Massachusetts had a straightforward question for them: When was the last time you took a Wall Street bank to trial? It was a harder question than it seemed.

“We do not have to bring people to trial,” Thomas Curry, head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, assured Warren, declaring that his agency had secured a large number of “consent orders,” or settlements.

“I appreciate that you say you don’t have to bring them to trial. My question is, when did you bring them to trial?” she responded.

“We have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals,” Curry offered.

Warren turned to Elisse Walter, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who said that the agency weighs how much it can extract from a bank without taking it to court against the cost of going to trial.

“I appreciate that. That’s what everybody does,” said Warren, a former Harvard law professor. “Can you identify the last time when you took the Wall Street banks to trial?”

“I will have to get back to you with specific information,” Walter said as the audience tittered.

“There are district attorneys and United States attorneys out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I’m really concerned that ‘too big to fail’ has become ‘too big for trial,’” Warren said.

 
 
Comment by BetterRenter
2013-02-15 17:58:05

Bigguy said: “She’s a senator.”

It’s far more the case that she’s A Senator, as in just ONE. She can howl all she wants. She’s really entirely alone. Just ask the tiny minority of regulators during the expansion of the housing-credit scam-bubble. They were either ignored, or they were drummed out of the industry. In Warren’s case, since it’s very hard to get rid of a Senator, she’ll just be ignored. She can hold all the hearings she wants. Nothing will change, and the Bailout Economy will continue onward until Americans have had enough and finally engage the Tax Revolt. That could be as long as 30 years away.

I’m serious. This entire financial hokey-pokey is a plan and it’s being worked step by step. The housing bubble is still running. We’re in the False Recovery stage of it now, and millions will be drawn into excessive housing debt. Bank profits and stocks will be strong. More government bailouts will happen, and it won’t matter how may OWS or TP protests take place about them. The elite have finally destroyed the sustainable parts of the Western economy, so it’s pure survival/fraud now. The elite have to keep doubling down on their own failure since they couldn’t accept the first level of failure. When the riots finally start in the cities of the US, the elite will have collected even more of the common wealth for themselves, so they be even more secure, ironically. The 99% will tear into each other while the 1% fly jets over us, from a fortified compound in one region to another.

And more faux war will be thrown in for good measure, since it always, always, always pays to distract domestic failures with foreign engagements.

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Comment by ahansen
2013-02-16 01:08:24

Don’t count on it Buggy. And with Franken and Sanders (and maybe Rand Paul) in her court she’s got backup. Plus several million MoveOn types cheering her on until the actual grassroots TeaParty comes around to the idea of supporting a (shudder) Dem.

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 05:28:14

Am I missing something, or isn’t fast food employment mainly driven by pimple-faced teenagers who often times don’t really need to work?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 05:29:49

The Man and the Thinking Behind the Minimum Wage Hike

President Obama is pushing a controversial hike in the minimum wage. It is surely no coincidence that his chief economic advisor is Alan Krueger, an economist who became famous in the 1990s for research supporting minimum wage hikes. But don’t higher wages mean fewer jobs? Krueger explains at length why they don’t.

Alan Krueger shakes hands with President Barack Obama after announcing his nomination in August 2011 as chairman of White House Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger was confirmed by the Senate on Nov. 3, 2011. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

During his State of the Union address Tuesday evening, President Obama challenged Congress to do what it could to help the middle class. Of the many economic issues in his address, raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour and tying it to the cost of living is nothing short of controversial. It is surely no coincidence that the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors is Alan Krueger, an economist who became famous in the 1990s for research supporting minimum wage hikes.

Back in 1996, not long after “Myth and Measurement,” his then ground-breaking and controversial book with David Card on the minimum wage first came out, I interviewed Alan Krueger at length about the minimum wage, which so many economists at the time opposed because, as critics argued after the State of the Union address, raising wages supposedly reduces the incentive to hire workers. By contrast, Krueger and Card found, a study of workers in New Jersey and neighboring Pennsylvania showed no decrease in fast food employment when the minimum wage was raised.

 
Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-15 09:43:11

Am I missing something, or isn’t fast food employment mainly driven by pimple-faced teenagers who often times don’t really need to work?

It used to be. But I thought now it was mostly illegals? Or maybe that’s just a Colorado thing. I know up in my hometown in Wyoming they actually were bringing kids over from Russia by the busload to work for the summer tourist season when they couldn’t get enough locals at rock bottom wages. But that was a few years ago, not sure if they are still doing that.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 09:50:12

One thing is for sure: If this $9/hr minimum wage goes through, it will create lots of new opportunities for undocumented illegals to take work that pays less than $9/hr in tax-free income.

 
Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-15 10:15:00

I know up in my hometown in Wyoming they actually were bringing kids over from Russia by the busload to work for the summer tourist season when they couldn’t get enough locals at rock bottom wages.

Bingo. It’s all about who you can exploit.

 
Comment by X-GSfixr
2013-02-15 12:31:14

My favorite episode was from 1999…..

Went to a local fast-food place around 6pm. The lobby was locked. Huh?

Because there was only one English speaker on duty, and he was needed at the drive-up window.

The fast food industry = Another scam on the wretched refuse. It couldn’t survive without illegals, and/or transportation and housing subsidies from the Bank of Mom and Dad.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-15 16:48:30

Great story!

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Comment by GrizzlyBear
2013-02-15 20:21:58

I eat fast food as little as possible. I find it mostly disgusting.

Comment by rms
2013-02-15 23:52:02

“I eat fast food as little as possible. I find it mostly disgusting.”

Disgusting is a banquet to a Grizzly. :)

 
 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 05:35:16

It seems like most San Diegans have no problem with gambling away their life’s savings. A good example would be their eagerness to own assets which are guaranteed to lose them a lot of money, such as hihgly-overpriced owner-occupied housing.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 05:37:59

Case in point:

San Diego Ex-Mayor Confronts $1 Billion Gambling Problem

By JENNIFER MEDINA
Published: February 14, 2013 36 Comments

LOS ANGELES — A former mayor of San Diego spent the last decade wagering more than a billion dollars at casinos across the country, eventually liquidating her savings, auctioning her belongings, selling off real estate, borrowing from friends and taking more than $2 million from a charity set up by her late husband, a fast-food tycoon.

The former mayor, Maureen O’Connor, 66, blamed an addiction to gambling aggravated by a brain tumor for the gargantuan spree. Her lawyers said that while she had made well over a billion dollars in bets at casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and San Diego, her actual net losses were around $13 million.

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-15 07:01:55

Is she a democrat?

If it was sex stories I would have guessed republican.

How did I do?

 
Comment by ahansen
2013-02-15 16:41:16

Maureen O’Conner; a walking argument for confiscatory inheritance taxes.

 
 
Comment by SV guy
2013-02-15 05:41:42

“It seems like most San Diegans have no problem with gambling away their life’s savings.”

Apparently as I just read a story of a former San Diego mayor who gambled away her inherited fortune (her husband founded the Jack-in-the-Box Chain).

Thank god we play it much closer to the vest here in SV.

;-)

 
 
Comment by localandlord
2013-02-15 06:30:13

How about a thread on how school discrepancies fuel the housing bubble. Are there housing bubbles in regions where most of the schools are good?

Comment by frankie
2013-02-15 06:47:13

It’s not just a US thing.

A GOOD education can cost parents more than just tuition fees. Trends show that top performing schools drive house prices in their local neighbourhoods by nearly a third more than the national average. Little wonder, then, that developers are constructing luxury schemes in these sought-after areas.

Wimbledon Hill Park is going down well with parents keen to enroll children in independent schools like Kings College, Wimbledon High and Wimbledon Chase primary school. The development offers eight traditional and contemporary executive family homes, with prices starting from £3.5m.

http://www.cityam.com/living/top-schools-fuel-house-price-hike

this was equivalent to £21,000.

A similar picture emerges for Paris, where in 2004, the best schools attracted a premium of up to €17,500. And this is not just a European story: countless studies from the United States and elsewhere produce comparable results, as shown in our extensive surveys of the research evidence (for example, Black and Machin, 2010; Machin, 2011). In fact, a link between better schools and higher house prices has emerged as one of the most stable empirical regularities, with studies worldwide reporting effects of a similar order of magnitude.

These numbers make a great deal of sense in terms of investment in children’s future labour market skills. The potential earnings benefits in later life from a good state primary education outstrip the costs of buying a house near a good school.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/archives/27103

 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 07:36:41

Is gold gonna drop below $1600 / oz?

I sense a great opportunity ahead for dips to buy…

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 07:37:56

I smell panic in the gold bug crowd…and whatever happened to those HBB regulars who used to lecture us on worthless fiat?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 10:01:43

Take heart, gold bugs — UBS sez gold is going up!

Feb. 14, 2013, 5:17 a.m. EST
UBS Lowers Gold One-Month Target to $1,725/oz from $1,850/oz
(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 14, 2013 05:17 ET (10:17 GMT)

 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 07:42:10

Isn’t the gold price set in global markets? Why would the typical gold bug give a rat’s arse about the Empire State data release?

Bulletin Gold futures tumble in wake of Fed’s Empire State data

Feb. 15, 2013, 9:34 a.m. EST
Gold tumbles $20 in wake of Empire State
By Barbara Kollmeyer

MADRID (MarketWatch) — Precious and base metals futures took a sharp tumble on Friday, with gold for April delivery GCJ3 -1.25% sinking $21, or 1.3%, to $1,614.30 an ounce after the New York Federal Reserve’s Empire State index showed a surprise bounce.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 08:03:01

My guess would be that the markets are concerned that the U.S. could be headed into a recession, which would be devastating to inflation hedges like gold.

Of course, I tend to think like a dismal scientist, so take my observation with a grain of salt.

Feb. 15, 2013, 9:55 a.m. EST
Industrial production slips in January
By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Industrial production slipped in January, after the Federal Reserve found the final two months of last year were stronger than initially estimated.

Industrial production slipped 0.1% in January, the Fed said, after gains of 1.4% in November and 0.4% in December.

The Fed had initially estimated gains of 1% in November and 0.3% in December.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.2% pick-up in January output.

 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 07:58:37

Wow — that was fast! It’s already within $10 of $1600 / oz.

Crash, baby, crash…dips buyers are looking for an opportunity to load up on shiny yellow metal!!!

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-15 08:04:18

What do posters on this board set as their “strike price” for loading up on gold?

Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-15 09:44:59

$400/oz?

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 09:51:14

I’ll even buy some if it goes that low (again)…

 
Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-15 10:13:00

After I posted I realized I should allow for inflation. Rather than give a number I should just say I’ll consider loading up the next time the world seems as stable and under control as it did back before 9/11. And if that never happens then I’ll just continue to focus on more fundamental metals.

 
Comment by GrizzlyBear
2013-02-15 20:25:01

If gold goes to $400 per ounce, I may buy some. I have no interest in high-priced gold.

 
 
 
Comment by cactus
2013-02-15 12:51:51

My brother tells me if you sell over 10K of gold it gets reported anything under no just cash on the barrelhead.

The dealer he knows if you have 100K of gold just walk in and out of the door 100K/10K times and its all tax free

I don’t if it’s true my brother likes to tell these kinds of stories.

Comment by polly
2013-02-15 14:13:47

I’m sure the rule he is talking about (if it really exists) requires the buyer to report a series of transactions within a certain time period that add up to $10K or more. But since a person who doesn’t want to follow those rules won’t put names in their records, the only way to catch them is a sting operation. Not going to happen too often.

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Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-15 14:14:01

just walk in and out of the door 100K/10K times and its all tax free

It’s called “structuring”, and it’s illegal.

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 10:57:26

I thought I was being flippant in my early-morning, per-caffeine state of delusion. Apparently not, as the price has already dipped below $1600 today.

I shouldn’t be at all surprised by this, as one of my amateur investor colleagues recently discussed his plans to buy gold with me — a sort of personal shoe-shine boy type moment…

$1,606.60 Change -28.90 -1.77%

Volume 232,335

Feb 15, 2013 12:44 p.m.

Previous close $ 1,635.50

Day low $1,597

Day high $1,636

 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 13:38:39

This article suggests it’s better stock performance that is driving down gold.

I’m missing it.

February 15, 2013, 1:11 p.m. ET

Gold Teeters at $1,600 as Investors Mull Move by Soros

–Gold dipped below $1,600 for the first time since October

–Investors follow Soros’s lead and shed gold holdings

–Gold prices slump 10.9% from October highs, enter ‘correction’ territory

–Signs of economic growth, better stock-market performance pressure gold

By Tatyana Shumsky

NEW YORK–Gold prices traded near $1,600 on Friday, having dipped below that level for the first time in six months after regulatory filings showed that several high-profile fund managers cut back their bullion holdings.

Gold for April delivery, the most actively traded contract, was recently trading down $29.40, or 1.8%, at $1,606.10 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract earlier slid to a low of $1,596.70, the first time gold traded below $1,600 since Aug. 15.

Billionaire investor George Soros pulled around $100 million out of his gold holdings, slashing them in half. Soros Fund Management LLC sold 720,000 shares of SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), a physical gold-backed exchange-traded fund, during the third quarter of 2012, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show. This slashed his gold holdings by 55% to 600,000 shares worth around $97.2 million at Dec. 31.

“When you get headlines like Soros is pulling out…that’s enough to blow out any weak [investors] in the market,” said Bob Haberkorn, a senior commodities broker with RJO Futures.

“This move, it’s big enough to put some panic in the market,” Mr. Haberkorn said.

 
 
Comment by Neuromance
2013-02-15 09:57:20

The basic concept held by a large faction in government is that debt simply does not matter. People accept the currency as having value. If the Fed could finance all of the government debt and there is no sign of the markets becoming roiled, it’s all good. There’s no consequence.

We hear however, from nearly all quarters, that the “path we are on is unsustainable.” This relative to the previous concept that “debt doesn’t matter” sounds like lip service to assuage the masses.

So - for an entity that can print money, does debt matter? The government and Fed are not like a company, a family or a state. The Fed/Gov can print money which makes it a unique economic entity.

Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-15 10:15:23

The national debt may not matter. Personal debt seems to matter a lot unless you are in a favored class whose personal debt gets moved to the national debt.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-15 11:01:08

Personal debt seems to matter a lot unless you are in a favored class whose personal debt gets moved to the national debt.

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winnah!

 
 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 10:00:38

Are there any limits on the ability of the POTUS to override the Congress through executive order?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 10:04:19

February 12, 2013, 2:37 PM

An Overview of President Obama’s Refinancing Proposals
By Nick Timiraos

Reuters
President Barack Obama in the briefing room of the White House earlier this month.

Over the past two years, President Barack Obama has made refinancing the centerpiece of his policy response to the housing bust. Tuesday’s State of the Union address could touch on refinancing, but isn’t likely to go into specifics.

 
 
Comment by X-GSfixr
2013-02-15 12:44:15

We used to hear supply-sider talk about “people shouldn’t argue about their slice of the pie, we just need to make the pie bigger”

That makes sense (theoretically). Unless…..

-The the pie pan and the oven are made in China.

-The cost of the ingredients of the pie are artificially manipulated by the Vampire Squids in the commodities futures market

-The electric bill for the oven has been transferred to the people with the smallest pieces of the pie.

-The labor to make the pie is competing with low-cost/slave labor in a global, race to the bottom labor market. And paying for the system that makes this possible.

-The medical treatment for burns sustained making the pies cost 20% of the cost of the pie.

 
Comment by tresho
2013-02-15 12:55:34

Detroit Blight Authority rolls into action

For more than two decades, Detroit mayors have tried to solve the problem of the city’s vacant and abandoned properties. On Thursday, Mayor Dave Bing essentially handed the job to a newly created private nonprofit, the Detroit Blight Authority.

The group has mapped an ambitious goal: to cut the cost and time of clearing abandoned structures and land and do so at a large enough scale to have an immediate impact on neighborhood safety.

The effort is a collaboration between two men named William (Bill) J. Pulte — the octogenarian founder of Pulte Homes and his 24-year-old grandson.

The new effort and the proposed private/public partnership to tackle the city at this scale could transform the cityscape — or it could flounder in a morass of squabbles, as yet another failed attempt to solve a monumental problem.

But trying new approaches is vital because the thousands of structural carcasses and debris-filled empty lots are staggering in size and proportion.

Bill Pulte said his motivation is more immediate: He simply wants to make the city safer for children walking to school, for people living in neighborhoods.

Neither he nor his grandfather works for Pulte Homes, a public company, and the Pulte family is investing in the project.

“This is totally philanthropic,” the younger Pulte said. “I’m trying to help.”

Whether he succeeds of not, the St. Aubin pilot project — now a neatly clipped, park-like space across from the Detroit Edison Public School Academy — is a vast improvement over what was there two weeks ago.

Pulte, and former Lt. Col. James Henderson, the Blight Authority’s operations chief, face political pitfalls, financial uncertainties and logistical nightmares.

They are bravely prepared to soldier on.

This much is certain: You can’t have a field of dreams until you move the mountain of tires.

Comment by BetterRenter
2013-02-15 18:19:12

Here’s what I know about these things, since it’s called “outsourcing”:

The city expects the organization to do everything, without the city paying them for it, or by paying them very little. The organization expects to do nothing or very little, yet get paid for it. Obviously these goals are diametrically opposed, so the ultimate loser is the Detroit citizen and taxpayer.

The wise inhabitant of Detroit (snicker) would get ahold of the contract on this affair and determine what needs to happen and when. Then he can watch the screwups. That’s the “squabbling” said above. After all, it’s not hard to clean up a city problem like this: Just get your lazy unionized city workers to get off their butts and DO IT. Clean up lots. Tear down condemned houses. Etc. It takes money and time and actual workers, but once you get those in line, you just DO IT. Sadly, city government is seldom about doing anything except lining crony pockets in hundreds of ways.

 
 
Comment by cactus
2013-02-15 12:57:23

Do we really have a labor shortage ? NPR was saying last night not enough jobs, don’t pay enough , need to boost minimum wage, etc.

Where I work they keep saying we can’t find anyone and thats why we are expanding in the silicon valley because at least there we can find some qualified workers ( engineers ).

so what is it? no workers or no jobs ? Or lame potential workers no real business can possible make any money off of ?

Or the jobs in in places like Santa Clara no one can afford to move to?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 13:25:09

Predicted effects of minimum wage hike, based on undergraduate economics models that don’t necessarily apply to the fast-food sector:

1) Average wages increase.

2) Number of jobs decreases.

3) Unemployment rate among U.S. workers (discouraged + non-discouraged) goes up.

4) Employment of illegals in jobs that pay less than the minimum wage increases.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 13:26:16

5. Outsourcing of American jobs to other countries which pay less than $9/hour increases.

 
Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-15 14:24:17

Here’s another undergraduate economics model that has been shown to work in the past:

1) Average wage increases.

2) Average person has more money to spend, and does so.

3) Newly busy stores and restaurants hire more people to meet the increased demand.

4) Economy works again. For everyone.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 15:15:12

You forgot the part about fewer jobs / people working, and greater wealth concentration in the hands of those lucky enough to be employed versus those who aren’t.

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Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-15 15:38:07

You forgot the part about fewer jobs / people working, and greater wealth concentration

Apparently that doesn’t occur:

[R]esearch in the 1990s, specifically a study authored by economists David Carr and Alan Kreuger, seemed to prove otherwise, or at least to poke holes in this theory. Carr and Kreuger studied the effect of an increase in the minimum wage in New Jersey from $4.25 to $5.05 per hour in 1992. They surveyed 410 fast food restaurants in New Jersey and nearby counties in neighboring Pennsylvania, which saw no increase in the minimum wage. Their study found that New Jersey’s minimum wage hike didn’t negatively affect employment — in fact, they found, employment increased.
Since this 1992 paper, several other studies using similar methodologies have come to similar conclusions.

Mike Konczal interviewed University of Massachusetts Amherst economics professor Arindrajit Dube for the American Prospect, who noted too that within “the range of minimum-wage increases we have seen in the United States, the evidence speaks pretty clearly to there not being job losses, and also gains to workers.” In fact, Dude points out, “In 1968 the minimum wage was around 50 percent of the average production-worker wage. If that were true today, that minimum wage would be around $10 an hour. So from that perspective, raising it to $9 is well within, indeed under, the historical norm between the minimum and average wage of production workers.”

http://www.salon.com/2013/02/14/economists_a_9_minimum_wage_wont_hurt_jobs/

 
 
 
 
Comment by rms
2013-02-16 00:31:32

“Or the jobs in in places like Santa Clara no one can afford to move to?”

Wife had some friends, married with one toddler, in Santa Clara with a ~$675k place, older and smallish, but well maintained in a quiet neighborhood. The primary breadwinner, an EE, lost his job following the 2008 crash that pulled hard on tech stocks. All it took were a few months without a paycheck; the keys? Their 2009 Christmas letter was tense, and the return address was from the Modesto area. And unfortunately, 2010 —> 2012, haven’t heard a word. Poof.

 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 13:06:22

Has the War of the Worlds begun?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 13:08:25

Could the timing have been worse, given the recent news that a giant asteroid was going to nearly miss the earth today?

EUROPE NEWS
Updated February 15, 2013, 10:29 a.m. ET

Meteorite Hits Russia, Causing Panic
By JAMES MARSON And GAUTAM NAIK

A meteor plunged toward earth over Russia’s Ural Mountains Friday, exploding into flames in a powerful blast that damaged buildings in nearby areas, injuring around 1,000 people.

Amateur videos broadcast on state television showed an object streaking across the sky, trailing smoke, around 9:20 a.m. local time before bursting into a fireball. Residents in the city of Chelyabinsk, the largest in the affected region, described a shock wave that blew in doors, smashed glass and set off car alarms.

“The light was so intense that it completely illuminated the courtyard of our apartment block,” said Sergei Zakharov, head of the Russian Geographical Society in Chelyabinsk. “The sound, the shock wave came around six minutes later. No one could understand what had happened. I’d compare it to the explosion of a large flare bomb.”

A contrail above an apartment block in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk; Russian officials said a meteorite or a shower of meteorites fell in the area, collapsing one roof and causing more than 100 injuries.

Prior to the unexpected meteorite strike in Russia Friday, scientists had predicted that a separate asteroid would pass by earth, missing by 17,150 miles, in the closest known fly-by for a rock of its size.

Asteroid or Meteor?

A meteorite plunged to earth in Russia’s Ural Mountains Friday. What’s the difference between a meteorite and the asteroid that was expected to pass by earth Friday? Read More

Almost 1,000 people sought medical attention, mostly for cuts from flying glass, and 43 were hospitalized, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Around 3,000 buildings were damaged by the blast, which blew a hole in the walls of a metals factory in Chelyabinsk, approximately 900 miles east of Moscow.

Children were sent home from schools, and the explosion temporarily knocked out one mobile operator’s network.

The unusual sight sowed confusion among some locals. Amateur video showed children in one school streaming out of a classroom and screaming.

“That kind of light doesn’t happen in life, only at the end of the world,” Vlada Palagina, a Chelyabinsk schoolteacher, told the LifeNews website.

 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 13:10:30

Did the payroll tax hike have any effect on middle-class U.S. consumption so far this year?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 13:11:36

Wal-Mart Executives Sweat Slow February Start in E-Mails
By Renee Dudley - Feb 15, 2013 11:16 AM PT

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the worst sales start to a month in seven years as payroll-tax increases hit shoppers already battling a slow economy, according to internal e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News.

“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-15 16:51:15

February is Latin for “short month that sucks.”

And, believe you me, I am SO glad that Valentine’s Day is over. I hate that day with every fiber in my body.

 
 
 
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2013-02-15 15:13:51

Does the use of tear gas to smoke out an enemy combatant normally burn a building to the ground?

Comment by ahansen
2013-02-15 16:51:25

Only if you’ve killed a member of the “brotherhood”. Ref: Symbionese Liberation Army, Waco TX., et al.

Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-15 17:09:15

Exactly. Then you get the special tear gas. Especially if your testimony would be inconvenient.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-16 00:52:22

And they hear you shooting yourself with a bullet just as they blast your hideout with incendiary material…

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Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-15 16:52:16

No.

 
Comment by rms
2013-02-16 01:46:20

“Does the use of tear gas to smoke out an enemy combatant normally burn a building to the ground?”

CS grenade canisters burn hot enough to start carpeting, but not a hard wood floor, IMHO. They likely used thermite grenade canisters, which burn really, really hot. You can’t drown or smother them either; they keep burning.

 
 
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