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Thursday, September 29, 2022

New data from NASA reveals how warm ocean waters in the Gulf of Mexico fueled Hurricane Ian to become one of the most powerful storms to strike the United States in the past decade. Waters off the coast were two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual for this time of year, according to preliminary data. read more


Extremely dangerous conditions persist in Florida as Hurricane Ian, now a tropical storm, moved north up the Atlantic coast, leaving a trail of destruction. As search and rescue efforts ramp up, the death toll remained unclear. Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told "Good Morning America" the fatalities are likely "in the hundreds," ... read more


Perry Greene, the husband of 14th District U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, filed for divorce in Floyd County Superior Court on Wednesday stating that the marriage is "irretrievably broken." He metioned to have the divorce filed under seal. read more


Charlie Savage: Former President Donald J. Trump's request that a judge intervene in the criminal investigation into his hoarding of government documents by appointing a special master increasingly looks like a significant blunder, legal experts say. read more


Initial filings for unemployment claims fell last week to their lowest level in five months [193,000], a sign that the labor market is strengthening even as the Federal Reserve is trying to slow things down. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis final estimate for Q2 GDP was a decline of 0.6%, unchanged from the previous two estimates. That was the second straight quarter of negative GDP, meeting a commonly accepted definition of a recession. read more


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Hurricane Ian was able to, over the course of its path, pull a lot of energy out of the ocean, which could have sustained it for longer than normal, said Christopher Slocum, a physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

And a few degrees can make a huge difference, said Karthik Balaguru, a climate scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, because it provides extra energy for a storm.

Unlike with land or the atmosphere, "it's very difficult to warm the ocean," Dr. Balaguru said. A large amount of heat had to have been absorbed by the ocean just to raise temperatures by a small fraction of a degree, he said.

More than 90 percent of the excess heat from human-caused global warming over the past 50 years has been absorbed by the oceans, and a majority of it is stored in the top few hundred meters.

Scientists say that while climate change has not necessarily increased the number of hurricanes, it has made them more powerful, as warmer ocean waters strengthen and sustain those storms. The proportion of the most severe storms - Categories 4 and 5 - has increased since 1980, when satellite imagery began reliably tracking hurricanes.

A warmer climate also allows hurricanes to unleash more rain, a consequence of an atmosphere that, with each degree Celsius of warming, can hold about 7 percent more water vapor that then gets released as precipitation. In addition, storm surges are riding on top of elevated sea levels, which can worsen coastal flooding.

I don't know how it could possibly explained an simpler than the preceding sentences. It's not our imagination, hurricanes have been getting larger, more powerful, and more precipitant than before in past times. Warmer waters are the key to this evolution, and the warming of the seas is not something that happens very easily. 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit is an extremely significant jump in water temperature and we're seeing the results: bigger storms, more powerful winds, and much more rain falling in greater volume and concentration - for hurricanes - over a longer period of time.

Nobody melted down

Says you.

Jenna Ellis -- who is Doug Mastriano's senior adviser -- claimed yesterday that Lizzo "is basically famous, I think, for being one the most morbidly obese people in the world" and said of the Madison flute playing: "This is just desecration purposefully of America's history."
I would say something so crass, demeaning and ignorant is indeed an example of an unjustified meltdown.

The government blamed the worse-than-expected figure on declines in residential investments (or home buying), federal government spending and business inventories, but said an uptick in exports and spending helped economic activity improve from last quarter's decline of 1.6%.

Four of the six factors the National Bureau of Economic Research relies on to declare a recession - production, income, employment and spending - continued to signal expansion through May ... Like other economists, Wells Fargo senior economist Tim Quinlan isn't convinced economic indicators last quarter were indicative of a current recession, but he warns the economy is slowing and "it is starting to feel like [entering one] is only a matter of time."

The Fed's withdrawal of pandemic stimulus measures and interest rate hikes this year have fueled concerns of impending recession. This summer, Bank of America economists warned clients that prolonged inflation and the resulting interest rate hikes have unleashed a "worrying deterioration" in the economy, and particularly in the once-booming housing market. "The Fed has become more committed to using its tools to help restore price stability, with a willingness to accept at least some pain in the process," they said, predicting the economy will fall into recession over the next year.

www.forbes.com

This is an inflation-fighting, Fed-induced recession our economy is entering. The slowdown in the housing markets due to higher interest rates is one of the chief drivers currently.

But it's still incredulous that even rising interest rates have not put a dent in employment numbers as the Fed is trying to do. There are simply too many available jobs on the market and Republicans are making sure public benefits remain as skimpy as possible.

Trump is squarely in the crosshairs of at least three grand jury investigations that have been very active over the last half year: the Fulton County, Georgia investigation of election fraud and related offenses; a federal grand jury investigation of the January 6 insurrection and events leading up to it; and a federal grand jury investigation of Trump's unlawful possession of government records since leaving office and related offenses. These investigations suggest that Trump's long run of avoiding accountability may soon be over.

Failing to deter Donald Trump from engaging in further criminal misconduct would have profoundly damaging consequences for our democracy. Criminal law is designed to punish individuals for criminal offenses to discourage these individuals and others like them from engaging in the same conduct in the future. If President Trump avoids criminal prosecution for attempting to retain power despite being voted out of office or for compromising some of the country's most sensitive national security secrets, the message to him and others who hold power will be clear: you can commit crimes that threaten the future of our democracy with impunity.

The rule of law is not self-enforcing. The individuals who serve in the Department of Justice and in prosecutors' offices across the country are charged with upholding it. They must pursue criminal charges against President Trump if the facts, law, and principles of prosecution support doing so.

The main and unaltering difference between today's left and radical right is encapsulated within the previous sentence above. Whenever the left calls for criminal accountability it almost always makes those calls based on the circumstances, facts, and evidence all supporting indictment; and for the accused to be afforded all the protections and procedures due any accused before being found guilty by plea or jury. The radical right simply wants to see their political opponents charged for imaginary non-crimes or for simple normal political policies which they disagree with, often implying that fair, unbiased jury trials should be skipped and incarceration - or execution - should immediately follow indictments.

There is no both sides are the same because both sides aren't remotely the same.

Does it need to?

Snoofy is correct. On top of consolidation, we're just emerging from an economy-altering pandemic which has changed former paradigms. Corporate profits are at all time highs and there's been no slowing of stock buybacks by companies flush with cash. Such conditions are not those where one usually finds rising prices from the producer's end.

Thanks to PPP, many companies actually came through the lockdown/slowdown phase of the pandemic in far better fiscal shape than they usually do during recessions. And due to pent up demand for goods, most businesses were - and many still are - scrambling for workers to fill orders. As I noted above, the spectre of real inflationary pressures brought on by energy costs and supply chain shortages which rippled throughout manufacturing has provided companies the opportunity to pad their bottom lines while mimicking that it's inflation's fault instead of what it really is - the ability to charge more just to make more.

Again, let's go back to the worker shortage situation. Why would the Fed think that raising interest rates to slow employment is going to work when there are 10 million jobs available and only 6 million workers to fill them? If certain industries are artificially forced to let workers go there are plenty more willing to bid for their services - likely with higher wage and benefit packages than the jobs they'll be leaving. And all the pre-gloom and doom about Christmas? Don't Americans usually figure out a way to make Christmas work for their families by taking part-time jobs if necessary? My prediction is for a record Christmas this year, particularly on the heels of 2 Covid Christmases.

Sooner rather than later, market followers are going to realize that the Fed is chasing a ghost that they cannot catch. At that point, investors will return to analysis of the usual market dynamics, see record profits and unending demand, and if/when China finally gets its Covid situation under control, renewed demand from the most populous nation on Earth.

At least that's my view from the cheap seats.

and yet the stock market has been sucking -------- all year.

Every single day I watch this and shake my head at what I perceive to be the complete irrationality between the markets and reality. The markets are down because the Fed is trying to fight inflation. But as I experience it, inflation is high not because of simply supply problems or rising wages. Inflation is being driven by the greed of corporations and businesses who're using the cover of inflation to increase prices and gouge consumers beyond any actual cost increases that they're facing. Robert Reich has been preaching this gospel for months.

As of August, there are 10 million unfilled jobs in the US and only 6 million workers to fill them. Raising interest rates to stem employment is stupid in this equation. The rate increases have stemmed runaway housing prices because of the rise in mortgage costs, but it still hasn't stopped the rise in rental prices as more Americans find it near impossible - or too costly - to find housing.

Case in point: right now in Indiana, the pump price of gasoline is still around $3.89 gallon for regular even though the cost per barrel is $77 for WTI. Previously when oil was at this price, the pump price was more than $1 less per gallon. Cost increases borne at the consumer level based on the high price of oil/transportation are not being lowered along with the price drops over the last 3 months. IMO, these things are driving inflation more than anything else and raising the cost of borrowing is not going to change that equation one bit.

Is that because there are supply chain shortages and people decided there was money to be made by bringing more manufacturing jobs to America or is that due to the Build Back Better programs?

According to the data in the article the answer is both. After seeing China's dysfunction in their Covid response and the general disfavor totalitarianism is failing into as it relates to disruptions in supply chains, the reality that supplies and goods delivered on time - even at higher cost - is still more profitable than the sporadic, unpredictable, unreliable non-delivery of supplies and goods.

And the American Rescue Plan has indeed provided domestic businesses with attractive incentives to return domestic manufacturing which is even more vital since in the past couple of decades foreign car manufacturers have shifted much of their assembly to US-based factories.

As it is, the main problem with even more US manufacturing hasn't been the will, it's been the lack of available employees, again as noted in the article.

Manufacturers say the numbers could be even stronger, if not for their continued difficulties attracting and hiring skilled workers amid 3.7 percent unemployment.

Fernando Torres, vice president of operations for Greene Tweed, a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of materials and components used by the aerospace and semiconductor industries, said his company has had to become more flexible to attract new workers and offer more attractive salaries and benefits. He has been looking for employees with different backgrounds that the company can train to develop the skills to fill open jobs, and said that it has been hard to retain staff because competitors are aggressively trying to lure them away.

But Mr. Torres said that Greene Tweed, which employs just fewer than 2,000 workers, did not plan to give up, considering the demand for his company's products.

"We are looking for lots of employees," Mr. Torres said. "We are not looking at slowing down."

Chuck Wetherington, president of BTE Technologies, a manufacturer of medical devices based in Maryland, said that he was trying to expand his work force of around 40 by 10 percent. A lack of workers, he said, has become a bigger problem than supply chain disruptions.

"Our backlog continues to grow," Mr. Wetherington said at a National Association of Manufacturers briefing. "I just can't find the employees."

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