Central bankers around the world are stuck at zero — plead with politicians to take action


Christopher Sims, Nobel LaureateMercoPress

❝ Central bankers in charge of the vast bulk of the world’s economy delved deep into the weeds of money markets and interest rates over a three-day conference recently, and emerged with a common plea to their colleagues in the rest of government: please help.

❝ Mired in a world of low growth, low inflation and low interest rates, officials from the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank said their efforts to bolster the economy through monetary policy may falter unless elected leaders stepped forward with bold measures. These would range from immigration reform in Japan to structural changes to boost productivity and growth in the U.S. and Europe.

Without that, they said, it would be hard to convince markets and households that things will get better, and encourage the shift in mood many economists feel are needed to improve economic performance worldwide. During a Saturday session at the symposium, such a slump in expectations about inflation and about other aspects of the economy was cited as a central problem complicating central banks’ efforts to reach inflation targets and dimming prospects in Japan and Europe…

❝ In an…address by Princeton University economist Christopher Sims, policymakers were told that it may take a massive program, large enough even to shock taxpayers into a different, inflationary view of the future.

“Fiscal expansion can replace ineffective monetary policy at the zero lower bound,” Sims said. “It requires deficits aimed at, and conditioned on, generating inflation. The deficits must be seen as financed by future inflation, not future taxes or spending cuts.”

The usual Reagan rationales for doing nothing infect what passes for 21st Century conservatism. Absence of backbone and craptastic excuses characterize liberal political parties outside of the milieu of European labor parties. The time for ennui is over. Bernie Sanders’ campaign in the United States proved that.

Oklahoma finally orders wastewater wells shut down after earthquake


Click to enlargeDavid Bitton/AP

Steve Gibson, of Pawnee, takes photos of damage

❝ Oklahoma officials have ordered 37 wastewater disposal wells shut down after a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the state on Saturday, equal to the strongest in the state’s history.

Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency after the earthquake, which caused damage to buildings around north-central Oklahoma and could be felt as far away as Dallas and Chicago…

❝ The Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered the shutdown of wastewater wells in a radius of about 500 square miles around the epicenter of the earthquake. “We estimate that at any one time, there are about 3,200 active disposal wells,” commission spokesman Matt Skinner said.

❝ Five months ago, US officials warned Oklahoma that the wastewater wells used for natural gas drilling were linked to an increase in earthquakes in the state, parts of which are now as likely to suffer tremors as northern California. There are about 4,200 total wells across the state and about 700 in a 15,000-square-mile “area of interest” in the area that includes the epicenter of Saturday’s temblor, near Pawnee…

❝ An increase in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production, and since 2013, the commission has asked wastewater-well owners to reduce disposal volumes in parts of the state where the temblors have been most frequent.

Disaster is about the only way to get the attention of the latest flavor of conservative politicians. Now that seawater is often knee-deep in coastal cities, Republican mayors begin to “recognize” that climate science really does apply to the United States. The same is beginning to happen to Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats in states dependent upon fossil fuel barons for a significant chunk of their budget.

19th Century minds are occasionally dragged into reality. Especially when it hurts.

Only takes Uncle Sam 14 years to notice they stuck the wrong guy in Gitmo

A Guantanamo detainee whom the U.S. says it “probably misidentified” 14 years ago finally got a hearing Thursday on his bid for a transfer.

Abdul Zahir, 44, arrived at Guantanamo in October 2002 after the United States captured him during an Afghanistan raid…U.S. forces were actually targeting another individual named Abdul Bari, which happens to be an alias Zahir used. The U.S. says it believed Bari was involved in chemical and biological weapons production and distribution for al-Qaida.

The supposed chemical or biological agents that U.S. forces seized during the raid turned out to be salt, sugar and petroleum jelly…

Calling Zahir by his internment serial number, an anonymous female voice said he has offered “no actionable information relative to al-Qaida’s weapons network, and we assess that AF-753 was probably misidentified as the individual who had ties to al-Qaida weapons facilitation activities.”…

This only took the meatheads in charge of Gitmo – with Pentagon and Congressional approval – fourteen years to figure out. Wonder how long it will take for the American people to realize we’re being lied to by the real criminals in this reality TV script?

Since Zahir’s October 2002 arrival at Guantanamo, the detainee has sought a hearing “to determine the validity of the claims that the government has made about him,” attorney David Sleigh told the review board…

Had he been given that hearing, it would have become obvious that he does not pose a threat, significant or otherwise, to the security of the United States,” Sleigh told the board…

The Periodic Review Board should issue a final ruling on Zahir within the next few months.

No hurry, eh? It’s just some furriner’s life our government is screwing over.

Militia leaders settle drunken argument with guns

Vincent Smith, a right-wing organizer for the Paul Revere 2016 Final March to Restore America, fatally shot his co-founder Charles Carter in what appears to be self-defense during a drunken argument. The two men were organizing the march from the west coast to Washington D.C. with the intent of “removing the corrupt leadership that has taken over our beloved country and ousted her God and constitution…”

According to Bill Williamson, a friend and the failed organizer of 2 Million Bikers 2 DC, Carter was drunk and took Smith’s gun from his holster, at which point the sober Smith reacted quickly and pulled a spare gun, shooting Carter once between the eyes…

Joe Bleaugh, a friend of Carter’s and a member of the Idaho Three Percent movement, which is tied to the Pacific Patriot Network who approached the Bundy militia with “Articles of Resolution” this Sunday, said in a Facebook post that his friend had “violated one of the first rules of firarms [sic] safety.”

NEVER mix guns & booze,” continued Bleaugh. “Guns and booze do not mix. End of story, and unfortunately the end of Charles’ life…

Nothing useful to say about this death. Probably nothing useful to say either — about folks who think they need an option to carry a gun in case they need to settle an argument.

America must close the Icebreaker Gap

With the Paris climate talks behind us, the world appears serious about mitigating the environmental impacts already afoot and preparing for those ahead. Yet the United States remains dangerously unprepared for the profound changes and opportunities coming to the Arctic. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the pitiful state of its icebreaker fleet.

The United States has just one heavy ice breaker and no plans to build more, a short-sighted and foolhardy policy that will leave it scrambling to catch up with Arctic nations competing for shipping routes and resources as Arctic ice continues its retreat…

…Every other nation touching the Arctic Circle maintains a robust fleet. Russia, for example, is adding a dozen icebreakers to what already is the world’s biggest fleet. This sorry state of affairs led Alaska Republican Senator Dan Sullivan to say, The highways of the Arctic are paved by icebreakers. Right now, the Russians have superhighways, and we have dirt roads with potholes.”

The Obama administration recognizes the need to expand the fleet and recently urged Congress to authorize the purchase of a heavy icebreaker by 2020.

And you know as well as I do — that Congress won’t authorize a penny for anything that floats that doesn’t carry guns or missiles or both.