Good Day Conflucians!! In my corner of the Blue Ridge foothills we had a heat index of 105 yesterday, and we’re getting there today. There’s a heat index of 107 over in Richmond with heat related fires already happening. I’m starting to feel like the Salvador Dali’s Melting Clocks painting above. My weather radio just blasted out a heat advisory just before it melted. I’m thinking of trying the old egg on the sidewalk test. But first, let’s check some news.
The war in Afghanistan is expected to worsen:
More NATO troops will die in Afghanistan as violence mounts over the summer, but Washington’s goal of turning the tide against the insurgency by year’s end is within reach, the top U.S. military officer said on Sunday.
The remarks by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, on a visit to the country, came as the Taliban said they were holding captive one of two U.S. servicemen who strayed into insurgent territory, and that the other had been killed.
It also comes less than a week since a major international conference in Kabul agreed that the Afghan government should aim to take responsibility for security in all parts of the country by 2014.
Mullen, who called the troops’ disappearance an “unusual circumstance”, said there would be more violent incidents to come, but the U.S. military was doing everything possible to find the missing men.
Violence in Afghanistan is at its highest of the 9-year war as thousands of extra U.S. troops, dispatched by President Barack Obama in December, step up their campaign to drive insurgents out of their traditional heartland in the south.
Last month was the deadliest for foreign troops since 2001, with more than 100 killed, and civilian deaths have also risen as ordinary Afghans are increasingly caught in the crossfire.
“As we continue our force levels and our operations over the summer … we will likely see further tough casualties and levels of violence,” Mullen told a news conference in Kabul.
We’ve heard rumors of this before, and the PR for it is obvious, so more news of BP’s CEO Tony Hayward stepping down comes as no surprise:
Tony Hayward’s departure from his job as BP’s chief executive will be at the center of the agenda when the company’s board of directors meets Monday night, according to a source close to the company.
The board is meeting in advance of Tuesday’s release of quarterly results, and the directors will weigh how best to confront or defuse criticism as the company unveils its best estimates of massive losses arising from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hayward, a geologist who has spent his entire career at BP, recognizes that he has become “a liability going forward” and is ready to step down, the source close to the company said. The source asked for anonymity because the company has not yet announced its intentions.
Your hippy dippy propaganda arm of the WH has an update on the gulf oil spill. Everything is grand of course, big concerts, all cleaned up, it’s all good. Here’s a bit I particularly liked:
As chief executive officer of America, Barack Obama has walked the factory floor when it comes to managing the federal response to the Gulf oil spill, going directly to front-line workers. He’s used wiles respected in the boardroom in wringing a $20 billion commitment from BP. But what was that talk about kicking butt? That’s so assembly line Ford Motor Co., circa 1930. And why on Earth did it take him so long to talk to BP’s chief? A real CEO would have had Tony Hayward on the phone in a New York minute. The president is not, of course, the head of a company. He’s accountable to the public in ways a chief executive is not to shareholders. Governance and politics differ from effective corporate management while sharing certain qualities.
The other, other most evil politician in the universe, Newt of course, will decide about running after the mid terms:
Republican former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday that he will decide after November’s congressional elections whether to run for the White House in 2012.
Gingrich has openly explored entering the battle for the 2012 Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama, making recent visits to early battleground states Iowa and New Hampshire. Gingrich said he had been to 10 states in the last two weeks.
“I think that’s a decision we’ll make in February or March,” Gingrich said on “Fox News Sunday” of a presidential run. “This is a very hard family decision because it’s such a deep commitment, and it is so absorbing.”
What a piece of work. OK, that’s being kind. I think the Republican machine has already decided on Romney like the Dem machine decided on
Reagan Bush Obama. But then again perhaps it’s still early.
European Banks went through the old stress test:
More than 100 banks in the US have now collapsed so far this year after another seven were taken over by regulators late on Friday – the same day that seven European banks failed a financial health check.
With rising bad debts tied to commercial and residential mortgages, the number of US bank failures this year is expected to exceed last year’s figure of 140. The largest of the seven US banks just seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – which acts as a receiver and protects depositors – was Crescent Bank and Trust Company in Georgia, with more than $1bn in assets. In all, the seven failed banks had total assets of $2bn.
In Europe, investors will have a first real chance tomorrow to react to the results of banking stress tests designed to ease concerns about institutions’ financial strength and exposure to debt-laden countries such as Greece.
Regulators assessed how banks would stand up to a double dip recession and a sovereign debt crisis. But several analysts questioned whether the tests were tough enough, since, for example, banks were only required to simulate losses on sovereign debt held for trading purposes and not on bonds they might hold to maturity.
Five of the seven institutions that failed the tests were Spanish cajas, or regional savings banks, with Greece’s ATE and Germany’s Hypo Real Estate being the other two.
And of course in other good news, Iran is putting some threats out there because the EU gave them more sanctions:
Iran has told the EU it will “regret” imposing its toughest economic sanctions yet to force Tehran to halt uranium enrichment and return to negotiations about its nuclear programme.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, promised today that the Islamic republic would “respond strongly to any threat” hours before EU foreign ministers were to meet in Brussels to approve the sanctions. EU officials and independent analysts have described the sanctions as the “toughest ever” against any country, going beyond what was agreed by the UN security council last month.
The measure that will alarm Iran is the EU’s ban on new investment, technical assistance and technology transfers to its gas and oil industry, particularly for refining and liquefied natural gas. Iran is the world’s fourth largest producer of crude oil but imports 40% of its fuel because it lacks sufficient refining capacity.
“Anyone who adopts a measure against the Iranian nation … should know that Iran will react swiftly,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by Press TV, Iran’s English-language TV channel. “Experience shows such a reaction by the Iranian nation will cause you to regret it.”
Thomas Friedman who I normally disagree with, has an interesting article on the Dems (and everyone’s) failure to pass some sort of cap and trade bill:
We’ve basically decided to keep pumping greenhouse gases into Mother Nature’s operating system and take our chances that the results will be benign — even though a vast majority of scientists warn that this will not be so. Fasten your seat belts. As the environmentalist Rob Watson likes to say: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.” You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000,” says Watson. Do not mess with Mother Nature. But that is just what we’re doing.
Since I don’t have anything else to say, I will just fill out this column with a few news stories and e-mails that came across my desk in the past few days:
Just as the U.S. Senate was abandoning plans for a U.S. cap-and-trade system, this article ran in The China Daily: “BEIJING — The country is set to begin domestic carbon trading programs during its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) to help it meet its 2020 carbon intensity target. The decision was made at a closed-door meeting chaired by Xie Zhenhua, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission … Putting a price on carbon is a crucial step for the country to employ the market to reduce its carbon emissions and genuinely shift to a low-carbon economy, industry analysts said.”
As we East Coasters know, it’s been extremely hot here this summer, with records broken. But, hey, you could be living in Russia, where ABC News recently reported that a “heat wave, which has lasted for weeks, has Russia suffering its worst drought in 130 years. In some parts of the country, temperatures have reached 105 degrees.” Moscow’s high the other day was 93 degrees. The average temperature in July for the city is 76 degrees. The BBC reported that to keep cool “at lakes and rivers around Moscow, groups of revelers can be seen knocking back vodka and then plunging into the water. The result is predictable — 233 people have drowned in the last week alone.”
A day before the climate bill went down, Lew Hay, the C.E.O. of NextEra Energy, which owns Florida Power & Light, one of the nation’s biggest utilities, e-mailed to say that if the Senate would set a price on carbon and requirements for renewal energy, utilities like his would have the price certainty they need to make the big next-generation investments, including nuclear. “If we invest an additional $3 billion a year or so on clean energy, that’s roughly 50,000 jobs over the next five years,” said Hay. (Say goodbye to that.)
There’s a lot more there.
Crazy Dowd has the results of her latest drinking binge, that is just too good to pass up. She’s saying the Obama WH is too white:
The Obama White House is too white.
It has Barack Obama, raised in the Hawaiian hood and Indonesia, and Valerie Jarrett, who spent her early years in Iran.
But unlike Bill Clinton, who never needed help fathoming Southern black culture, Obama lacks advisers who are descended from the central African-American experience, ones who understand “the slave thing,” as a top black Democrat dryly puts it.
The first black president should expand beyond his campaign security blanket, the smug cordon of overprotective white guys surrounding him — a long political tradition underscored by Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 when she complained about the “smart-ass white boys” from Walter Mondale’s campaign who tried to boss her around.
Otherwise, this administration will keep tripping over race rather than inspiring on race.
I’ll have what she’s drinking.
OK, there are a few items. I’d collect more but I’m starting to melt. Pile it on with what you’re finding along with your thoughts.