February 18, 2017

‘No Further Comment Needed’ Pic of the Day

No9thCircuitRiots0217

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Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (021817)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: How one organization hopes to revolutionize orphanages

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Rome:

Feb 17, 2017 / 06:01 am

The Catholic Church puts a lot of effort into having excellent schools and hospitals, but what about its orphanages? For Caroline Boudreaux, conditions in orphanages are too often overlooked – something we all have the ability and opportunity to help change.

The Miracle Foundation, founded by Boudreaux, is a nonprofit which operates on the principle that orphaned children have the same fundamental rights as every other child, and that we help them the most when we help and support the institutions they live in.

One way the organization does this is through teaching those who run orphanages the “best practices” for facilitating the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of the children in their care.
(more…)

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February 17, 2017

Econ Catchup

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:32 am

Lots of catching up to do here, so let’s go.

I never covered the January ISM Non-Manufacturing report, so let’s start there:

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in January for the 85th consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

The NMI® registered 56.5 percent which is 0.1 percentage point lower than the seasonally adjusted December reading of 56.6. This represents continued growth in the non-manufacturing sector at a slightly slower rate.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 60.3 percent, 0.6 percentage point lower than the seasonally adjusted December reading of 60.9 percent, reflecting growth for the 90th consecutive month, at a slightly slower rate in January. The New Orders Index registered 58.6 percent, 2.1 percentage points lower than the seasonally adjusted reading of 60.7 percent in December.

The Employment Index increased 2 percentage points in January to 54.7 percent from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 52.7 percent. The Prices Index increased 2.9 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 56.1 percent to 59 percent; indicating prices increased for the 10th consecutive month, at a faster rate in January.

According to the NMI®, 12 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in January. The non-manufacturing sector begins 2017 with a cooling-off in the rate of growth month-over-month. The sector still reflects strong growth. Respondents’ comments are mixed indicating both optimism and a degree of uncertainty in the business outlook as a result of the change in government administration.

INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE

The 12 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in January — listed in order — are: Mining; Other Services; Utilities; Health Care & Social Assistance; Finance & Insurance; Public Administration; Accommodation & Food Services; Retail Trade; Construction; Wholesale Trade; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and Management of Companies & Support Services. The five industries reporting contraction in January are: Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Educational Services; Transportation & Warehousing; Information; and Arts, Entertainment & Recreation.

Backlog of Orders, the other primary future economic growth driver besides the already discussed Business Activity and New Orders figures was 50.0 percent, neither expanding nor contracting, up from 48.0 percent in December.

If there’s a downside here, it’s that one wouldn’t expect 5 industries to be in contraction with a relatively strong topside number. To me, that reinforces the idea that this index, as I believe is the case with ISM’s manufacturing’s index, has a positive selection bias.

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Initial unemployment claims remain low, coming in at a seasonally adjusted 239K, 234K, and 246K for the past three reported weeks.

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January’s retail sales, up a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent and 0.8 percent ex-auto, blew away predictions of flatness and +0.3 percent, respectively. The year-over-year change in January was close to a genuinely healthy 5 percent. December was revised upward from 0.6 percent to 1.0 percent, which may foretell an increase in the final number for 4Q16 GDP when it’s released near the end of this month. People are spending like they believe things are getting better, though the justification for doing so is in my opinion remains pretty weak.

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January’s Industrial Production is one such weakness. Released on Wednesday by the Federal Reserve, it told us that it fell by 0.3 percent, vastly disappointing expectations of between zero and 0.2 percent. December was revised down by 0.2 points, while November’s 0.7 percent decline was revised “up” to -0.2 percent. At least the manufacturing element has been positive in each of the past three months, but not by much. The overall 12-month change is a goose egg. The manufacturing change is 0.3 percent. Those figures are unacceptable.

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The Business Inventories report shows some continued reduction in the dangerously high Inventory to Sales ratio (down from 1.41 during last year’s first quarter to 1.35 in December)  – dangerous because if there’s a slowdown, a lot of merchandise is going to go through desperation markdowns or simply thrown away.  That figure still needs to come down further.

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Housing construction data was pretty strong. Seasonally adjusted building permits were the best since June 2015, and other than that flukey month, the best since August 2007. The raw number of permits (86,800) was the best January figure since 2007. The news on housing starts was mixed. Overall seasonally adjusted starts were down from December by 2.6 percent, but the single-family component was up almost 2 percent, and the raw number of single-family starts in January was also the best January since 2007.

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Regional manufacturing data has improved significantly in the past few months. Philadelphia Fed, Richmond Fed, and Empire Manufacturing (New York) have moved into expansion. Dallas is in its 7th month of expansion. Kansas City showed expansion in December and January.

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Overall, there’s reason for guarded optimism for an improved economy, but the light at the end of the tunnel remains distant.

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Positivity: How this couple has stayed married (and in love) for 75 years

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 9:16 am

From Madrid, Spain:

Feb 16, 2017 / 08:02 pm

Eulogio Martínez and Martina Abian are 100 and 95 years-old, respectively.

They were married Nov. 26, 1942, in Guadalajara, Spain, and they will soon celebrate their 75th anniversary. On the occasion of World Marriage Day, which coincides with the feast of Saint Valentine, the Marriage Encounter movement gave them the “2017 Lifetime of Love” award.

But in a world where nuptial unions fall tragically apart – or increasingly fail to happen in the first place – how did this couple stay married, and happily at that?

In an interview with the Spanish ABC daily, Eulogio and Martina both agreed that the key to success that keeps them together and in love after 75 years is “patience” and above all, “loving each other a lot.”

“People don’t put up with anything, with the slightest trouble, it’s over,” Martina lamented. In fact, she finds herself baffled at how marriages can break up so quickly: “We always discuss things, and why not? … You have to have patience.”

Eulogio recalled when they started going out together – she was 18 and he was 23. “I asked her if we could have a relationship and I realized that she had already been looking forward to it,” he laughed.

“Yes, it’s true, I liked him a lot,” Martina responded, “he was very handsome, very formal, he captivated me. He’s 100 years old and look at him!”

They got married a year later. “It was a really big day, as it is for all engaged couples in love that marry – not like today, where people get married and then just change spouses,” Martina said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (021717)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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February 16, 2017

AP Bitter That Boeing Plant Obama’s Labor Dept. Delayed Didn’t Go Union

Meg Kinnard at the Associated Press betrayed quite a bit of unhappiness Wednesday evening and Thursday morning in her coverage of workers’ decisive rejection of a union organizing effort at Boeing Corp.’s 787-10 production plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.

In two very similar reports found at the wire service’s Big Story site, Kinnard solely blamed “Southern reluctance toward unionization” for the rejection. Though that was clearly a factor, it is hardly the only reason for the overwhelming 74 percent to 26 percent rejection. Kinnard “somehow” forgot to report that this is the very same plant whose opening former President Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board deliberately delayed in 2011.

(more…)

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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (021617)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: Citing pro-life momentum, thousands demonstrate to defund Planned Parenthood

Filed under: Activism,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Washington:

Feb 15, 2017 / 12:27 pm

More than 10,000 pro-life advocates gathered at some 227 protest locations in 43 states and the District of Columbia on Saturday to call for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

“This weekend was huge, but it was not the end,” said Mark Harrington of the pro-life group Created Equal. “We have momentum on our side. Now is the time to press forward.”

“The time has come to defund America’s abortion giant,” Harrington told CNA Feb. 14. “Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion chain, killing over 300,000 babies each year, and nearly half of their billion-dollar budget comes from our tax dollars.”

The protests, organized under hashtags like #ProtestPP, were headed by the leaders of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Created Equal and the Pro-Life Action League.

Organizers reported a crowd of about 200 supporters in Pittsburgh, 300 in Orange, Calif., 400 in Cincinnati, and 450 in St. Paul, Minn., to name a few. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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Positivity: What Egypt’s Catholic bishops said to Pope Francis

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Vatican City:

Feb 14, 2017 / 12:08 am

A special invitation to visit Egypt was delivered to Pope Francis by Coptic Catholic bishops during their ad limina visit Feb. 6, during which they also gave a report on the state of the Church in their country.

“It was a formal invitation put in written form, that followed other invitations to Egypt,” Bishop Emmanuel Bishay of Luxor told CNA.

The Pope has also received an invitation to visit Egypt from the country’s president and from the Grand Imam of al Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, who occupies a prestigious place in the Sunni Muslim world.
(more…)

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February 15, 2017

Not News: Mexicans’ Plans to Jam U.S. Immigration Courts

Searches at the Associated Press, the New York Times and the Washington Post for stories in English on “monarca,” the Spanish term for the monarch butterfly, currently come up empty. (There is a Post story in Spanish originating with the Associated Press, but it’s about a drop in the number of those butterflies present in Mexico.)

This absence isn’t due to a lack of interest in the butterfly. It’s because there’s a lack of interest in telling the American people about a concerted effort by Mexico, codenamed Monarca, to slow or halt deportations of its citizens here in the U.S. illegally to a crawl by funding efforts to clog the U.S. court system to the point where it “break(s) down.”

(more…)

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Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (021517)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: Fatima nun has 15,000 pages of evidence for beatification cause

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Fatima, Portugal:

Feb 14, 2017 / 11:49 am

As the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions approaches, Portuguese Catholic Church officials announced on Monday that thousands of pages have been gathered to testify to the holiness of Sister Lucia dos Santos – one of the original three children who were witnesses to the famous Marian apparition.

The documentation gathered for Sr. Lucia consists of over 15,000 letters, testimonies, and other documents that would support the nun’s cause for beatification. Bishop Virgilio Antunes of Coimbra, Portugal noted that these pages have taken more than eight years to track down, as they consist of personal letters and witness statements from more than 60 people.

The pages were presented at a church ceremony at Sr. Lucia’s convent in Coimbra and will also be sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints for approval, in order to proceed towards the next steps of canonization. The case will also be reviewed by Pope Francis.

Of all Marian apparitions, those relating to Our Lady of Fatima are among the most famous. On May 13, 1917, siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto – 9 and 7 – and their cousin, 10-year-old Lucia dos Santos, took their sheep to graze near the Portuguese farming town of Fatima when they saw a figure of a woman dressed in white and holding a rosary.

After this first appearance, the Virgin Mary then appeared to the children on the 13th of every month from May until October. The message of the Fatima apparitions can be summarized primarily as a call to repentance, reparation and prayer.

In 1930, the Catholic Church proclaimed the supernatural character of the apparitions and a shrine was erected at Fatima. It was visited by Pope Paul VI May 13, 1967, and later by Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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February 14, 2017

O’Reilly Rips Press Coverage of ICE Raids: ‘A Low Point in American Journalism’

In his opening monologue and first guest conversation Monday evening, Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly sharply criticized the national and local press coverage of the past week’s immigration raids.

In his Talking Points Memo opener, O’Reilly observed the press’s utter failure to headline the fact that the raids targeted criminal illegal aliens, describing that failure not as press bias, but as “blatant dishonesty.” The host’s first guest then accused the press of deliberately drumming up uncalled-for “mass hysteria,” and described the operation as “the same kind of operation they did conduct under President Obama.”

(more…)

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Press Is Furious That Trump Got No Questions About Flynn at Tuesday Presser

One of the more amusing yet pathetic spectacles of the Trump administration’s early weeks — the ongoing establishment press fury at the richly deserved lack of respect it is getting from the President and his press secretary — neared meltdown yesterday. This occurred because Donald Trump wasn’t asked a question everyone knew he wouldn’t answer if asked about Michael Flynn at a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

On Monday, Scott Whitlock at NewsBusters covered the joint temper tantrum/pity party at MSNBC in which Brian Williams — that’s right, “Mr. Made-Up Stories” himself — and Katy Tur engaged. CNN, CNN.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Associated Press and others joined the roster of not so fine whiners.

(more…)

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