Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cuba. Do they recognize an 800 lb Gorilla?

There the Cuban are, poor, unhappy, and only 90 sea miles from the United States.  For unknown reasons Obama decided to offer them US diplomatic recognition.  You'd think the Cubans would jump at the opportunity.  Being recognized gives them substantial protection again things like another Bay of Pigs, and offers an opportunity to plead for better economic treatment.  With an embassy in DC, the Cubans can send all sorts of diplomatic notes to the Americans, and get them published in friendly US newspapers like the NYT. 
   You would think that the Cubans would be willing to do just about anything to gain American recognition.  But, sounds like the mission to cut the deal, which traveled to Cuba, hasn't made any progress.  I assume the Cubans are being sticky about minor things.  Dunno why. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Things I'd like to know about Yemen

And the newsies probably don't know.  Like where is the Yemeni Army?  Surely they have one.  How big is it?  What side is it on? 
  Who are the rebels?  Are they locals? Are they Iranians?  Are they foreign fighters from all over the place like the old Mujahedin in Afghanistan?  How long have they been in business?  How many of them are there?  Who is their leader?  What is their relationship with the Saudis?  How much turf do they control?  Where do they get their gasoline? 
   Who was the Yemeni government just decapitated?  A collection of tribal sheiks?  A democracy with elections?  A Saudi puppet?  A hereditary monarchy?
   What do the Saudi's think about the new government in Yemen?  Are they for it or against it? 
   Does Yemen have any oil to pay for things?  If not, what do they use for foreign exchange?

Air Time. 2 lb Air Pressure gets it all

We have Yemen falling to Iran, the Congress and Obama squaring off, the economy still in the tank, the Euro zone in a deep muddle, and what does the TV news cover?  Underinflated footballs.  A whole 2 psi low.  End of the world. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

EU softening toward GMOs

Genetically modified organisms that is.  The EU has forbidden growing, importing, selling, or eating of anything with "gene modifications".  At least modern gene modifications using laboratory methods.  Nobody talks about the extensive gene modifications made over the centuries by plain old selective breeding.  All crops grown today are way different from their wild ancestors. 
   Anyhow, the EU Parliament lifted the EU wide ban on GMO's last week.   Regulation of GMO's is now up to the national European governments.  Who are strongly anti GMO and are not expected to loosen rules anytime soon. 
   The Economist does admit that GMO's are widespread in American and Asia, bringing increased yields, better taste, and lower food prices. 
    It could be, that in turning GMO regulation over to the national governments, the EU Parliament hopes to dampen criticism of overweening EU bureaucracy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wild Winter Turkeys

We got 'em.  Last week I saw a wild and soggy turkey strutting  up the road in a rainstorm.  It was 40 that day, but very wet.  Then two days ago I saw a pair of 'em stumbling thru the woods behind the house with three inches of fresh snow on the ground.  I wonder where the turkeys spent the night, now that it is dropping down to 10 and 20 degrees below zero after dark.  You'd think temps like that would give you quick frozen turkey. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Who has the patience to watch Obama tonight?

Not I.  I can get a quick recap a few minutes after he finishes.  Obama's speaking style, vague generalities with no substance, is just plain annoying. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Greasing the skids

Greece, somehow has bamboozled the EU into giving them handouts.  After being allowed into the Euro back in  the 1990's, the Greeks managed to paper over their humungeous deficits by floating bonds.  Somehow, a bunch of sucker banks, mostly in Germany, was stupid enough to buy the bonds, thinking that they would get paid back on time.  The Greeks kept the illusion going by using the proceeds of the latest bond sales to the roll over old bonds. 
  This scam finally unraveled and every one, even the sucker banks, stopped buying Greek bonds, or making loans to Greece.  At this point, the Greeks owned so much money, that allowing them to default would cause intense pain thru out Europe.  The sucker banks cried that a Greek default would bankrupt them.  So, the EU decided to bail the Greeks out, a bit.  They demanded that the Greeks clean up their act, balance their budget, lay off the enormous number of Greeks on the Government payroll, and tighten up tax collection.  In return for promises to reform, the EU would give the Greeks enough money to pay the interest on their debts.  Which means that the sucker banks can carry their Greek loans as assets on their books.  If the Greeks stop paying, then sooner or later, the sucker banks would have to declare a whacking big loss.  A loss big enough to put a number of them out of business. 
   This stop gap situation may come unraveled this spring.  The Greeks have to hold national elections and the polls all show a new populist party Syrisa about to win outright.  Syrisa  is threatening to scrap all the promises of reform, and stop paying on Greece's foreign debt.  At which point the EU handouts will stop. 
   What happens to the EU and the Euro is unknown, but the Europeans are worried about it.  The Greeks will have to figure out how to live within their means.  They may decided to drop out of the Euro so they can print their own money, as much as they need, to meet payroll.  They may not, because all Greeks with any kind of money, in Euros, will be against the idea.  Dropping out of the Euro, would mean everyone's Euros would turn into Drachma, and then the Drachma would drop 50% or more against the Euro.  In effect, every Greek gets a real close haircut.  No one wants that.