7.30.2014

In 20 years Healthcare has replaced Manufacturing



How America’s Top Industries Have Changed, 1990-2013

Excerpt:

The U.S.’s most dominant industries look a lot different than they did less than 25 years ago. From 1990 to 2013, the top industries by employment have changed from mostly manufacturing to mostly health-care and social-assistance jobs in the majority of states
Comment: A red flag should go up!

Potash: Should you invest in it?




Should You Invest in Agrium and PotashCorp?

Excerpt:
One year ago the global potash market was rocked by the announcement that Russia-based Uralkali and Belarus-based Belaruskali were terminating their joint marketing agreement. The breakdown of the cartel sent shares of PotashCorp (NYSE: POT) and Mosaic (NYSE: MOS) down 23% in two days. Agrium (NYSE: AGU) fell nearly 10% over the next five trading days. Spot prices for potash fell from $400 per tonne down to about $300. The three North American companies sell potash to offshore markets through their joint ownership of Canpotex, which competes with global potash producers, including the ones from Russia and Belarus. The producers reacted by reducing costs and PotashCorp announced in December 2013 that it was cutting 18% of its workforce. In January, Uralkali’s deal to sell potash to China for $305 per tonne confirmed the new global rate and put a floor under the price. In April, both Uralkali and Canpotex sealed deals with India for $322 per tonne. PotashCorp’s stock price has slowly battled back and currently trades close to where it was before the big announcement. Mosaic still trades lower and Agrium has managed to rebound and climb higher over the course of the past 12 months. So, should investors buy PotashCorp and Agrium now?
Comment: Mosaic is based in my city - Plymouth. I have not invested in it. I have a holding in POT and am investing in AGU. Both pay nice dividends. Image source from Wiki article


7.29.2014

Here's What The Numbers On Your Credit Card Really Mean



Here's What The Numbers On Your Credit Card Really Mean

Excerpt:
The string of digits presented on the front of a credit or debit card is enough to confuse even the smartest of shoppers. Yet, each number plays a crucial role in identifying the card provider, bank, and account information, as well as providing a security check. The only organization that can assign numbers to specific networks, such as Visa or MasterCard, and financial institutions, like Bank of America or JP Morgan Chase, is the nonprofit American National Standards Institute, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. When swiped, the Post-Gazette explains, a terminal uses the magnetic stripe of the card to first route the transaction through the proper card network, and then to the financial institution that is listed on the card so that the transaction can be authorized. Every card, no matter the network or bank, must be in agreement with the " Luhn System, " which determines the validity of a credit card. It's a mathematical algorithm where various combinations of numbers must add up to a number ending in 0. If the total of the combinations adds up to anything other than a multiple of 10, the card is invalid. Generally, the first number or two of a credit or debit signifies the card provider, followed by digits that determine everything from the currency being used, to the bank processing the transaction, to the individual's account number.
Comment: With images ... interesting. Image source


Deadest Names and more



How to Tell Someone’s Age When All You Know Is Her Name

Some of my families' names:
  • Beulah (grandmother on my mother's side). Deceased.
  • Basil (grandfather on my mother's side). Deceased.
  • Alvah (father). Deceased.
  • Cleone (mother). 94 years of age (b 1920)

Optimizing Social Security Benefits



Free Online Tools for Optimizing Social Security Benefits
 Excerpt:
... your benefit will rise by 6% to 8% for every year you delay claiming between the ages of 62 and 70, those who file early may reduce the lifetime benefits they (and their surviving spouses) stand to receive by "tens of thousands of dollars," says Christopher Jones, chief investment officer at Financial Engines in Sunnyvale, Calif
Comment: Links to two tools below (Three more in the article). I haven't tried any yet. At first look I think I will start at 66 but it may pay to delay until 70. Image above: Poster from 1936. Could really be "Join the March to the Grave!" Ha!
Comments: Yet to figure out:
  • When to take Social Security?
  • What is the asset class to draw from first (IRA's? Brokerage that has already taxed money invested?). If we drew from this (and I think we could for 4 years - in essence we would have no taxable income except long capital gains from the sale of equities and dividends (which are taxed at a 15% rate).

Ebola Virus in US? Possible but Not Probable



Ebola’s Escape From Africa Unlikely Though Not Impossible

Excerpt:
Ebola, the killer of more than 670 people in four West African countries since February, has spread beyond Africa only once. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen now, infectious disease experts warn. The symptoms appear from two days to three weeks after infection, meaning it’s possible for an infected person who doesn’t feel ill to board a plane, said Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading in the U.K. Since Ebola in its earliest stages can resemble nothing more than flu, no one else would know either, he said. “One person per plane load would have something that you would possibly call flu-like symptoms,” Neuman said in a telephone interview. “Do you want to detain all those people coming into your airport? Do you have the manpower to do that, and send them all for testing? It’s expensive, and difficult.”

... Ebola virus isn’t carried in the air like tuberculosis or flu, said David Heymann, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Instead it is spread by direct contact with an infected person’s blood or other bodily secretions, including vomit, saliva or feces, he said. While an infected person who sneezes or coughs directly in another person’s face could infect that person, Ebola primarily enters the body through tiny cuts or abrasions, or through mucus membranes of the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. The physical effect of the virus makes it less likely to spread through air travel, Neuman said. “If you look at the numbers, there are probably about 300 people currently infected with Ebola virus, and most of those would be too ill to sit up or walk,” Neuman said. “So the odds are small, but it is something that needs to be watched.”
Comment: Image source


7.28.2014

Investment Analysis Tools


Value Line (Free at my public library)








Brokerage reporting - Above example from Wellsfargo.com 

Comments:
  • There's a lot available for free. The Value Line is particularly a good deal. Check your public library
  • Read, read, read before you invest. All examples above for PEP (Pepsi)









Lenovo ThinkPad T440 Ultrabook



Lenovo ThinkPad T440 Ultrabook
  • This is likely to be my last new PC at work as we are on a 3½ year replacement policy and I will be retired before then.
  • Replaces a very solid T410
  • New one has 4 gig of memory and a half terabyte drive
  • It is quite a bit thinner than the old
  • Sadly I lost two software packages: Paint Shop Pro 7 which is no longer in our catalogue and Google Chrome which now requires special approvals
  • Also new: Keyboard, docking station (I had not been using a docking station for several years as my old docking station died) and mouse

The Big Mac as a measure of International purchasing-power



The world can be measured by the cost of a Big Mac

Excerpt:

It’s a term recognized around most parts of the world: The Big Mac. In more than 116 countries and with over 34,000 locations around the globe, McDonald’s (MCD) products are as common worldwide as they are in America. The Economist takes it one step further, using the iconic burger as a measure of global inflation. Yahoo! Finance’s Jeff Macke says The Economist's Big Mac Index measures “your buying power. It's a cute way of looking into what you can buy with a dollar…you can’t really feel that buying power until you go overseas.” The concept for the index is simple: it measures the price of a Big Mac around the globle (except in India where the Big Mac is not offered; India's Maharaja Mac, a chicken sandwich, was substituted). It tests the economic theory of purchasing power parity -- that the same item should be priced the same around the world, as long as exchange rates equalize. The beefy data reveals exchange rates and inflation are not normalized across international territories and the U.S. dollar has not been sharply devalued, as many predicted when the Fed began its quantitative easing program. In the United States, a Big Mac is priced at $4.80. But in the Ukraine, the price of a Big Mac can cost as low as $1.63. In Norway customers pay $7.76. The price of a Big Mac in China is 43% lower than in the U.S. What does this tell us? First, Norway's kroner is inflated in value versus the dollar by 65%. Second, Ukraine's hryynia is the most undervalued currency (in relationship to the ones used in the index).
Comment: More on (From "The Economist"): here and here.

7.26.2014

Nate's Linux

Obama and Me



Barack Obama has already checked out of his job: The degree to which Barack Obama is now phoning it in – sleepwalking perfunctorily through his second term, amid golf rounds and dinner parties – is astonishing

Excerpt:

The fact that the press would find relevance in speculating on Obama’s post-White House residence – and identify California as the kind of scene the future ex-president would want to hang out in when he leaves office – is perhaps telling. And, indeed, this comes on the heels of multiple reports from outlets such as The New York Times and Politico, detailing how Obama has increasingly been spending his time at trendy restaurants and fancy, late-night dinner parties with celebrities and various intellectuals. Rubbing elbows with the rich and elite is fine enough. Unfortunately, the work suffers. The degree to which he is now phoning it in – sleepwalking perfunctorily through his second term – is astonishing. And based on his recent handling of situations much more serious than a possible post-presidential move to sunny California, it seems as if “No Drama Obama” is no longer even worried about keeping up appearances; he doesn’t care enough to fake it. Consider this: In recent days, a) Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down, apparently by Russian separatists in Ukraine, b) In the Gaza strip, the numbers killed continued to mount as Israelis and Palestinians exchange rocket fire, c) a huge influx of children fleeing Central American poverty and gang warfare swamped America’s southern border, creating a humanitarian crisis. And, oh yeah, d) Christians living in Mosul were given the choice to either convert to Islam or flee the area they have inhabited for nearly two thousand years. You know what else has happened during this time? a) Obama played many rounds of golf, b) he attended numerous fund-raisers, c) he dined on barbecue in Texas and burgers in Delaware, and d) he almost appeared on the comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night television show in Hollywood.
Comment: He's checked out ("phoning it in") looking ahead to inauguration day 2017. I'm looking ahead to April 2016

5 Years of Obama ... the Middle Class has LOST wealth




The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third Less

Excerpt:

Economic inequality in the United States has been receiving a lot of attention. But it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too. The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially.
Comment: Link in article above it to full PDF of the study. Images are snips from the study. Why? [My view which is not from the study]: 1. The economy has stagnated; 2. Wages have not grown even to the rate of inflation; 3. Employment has not rebounded; 4. Obamacare milks more from the middle class than it returns;

Death to Malls! Long Live Amazon!



The life and death of malls

Excerpt:

By 1960, there were 4,500 malls in America—some open, many enclosed. By 1975, that number had risen to 16,400, and by 1987, there were 30,000 malls accounting for half of all retail dollars spent in the country. .

.. the Mall of America, birthed near the peak of the mallification in 1992. At the time, it was an unbelievably audacious project: with its amusement park, its 12,500 parking spaces, its five hundred stores, its 4.2 million square feet of space. It made us feel so small, just as it made our needs feel so large.

... To many, the Mall of America seemed to be a turning point. And it may have been one. Malls have been on the decline since the late 1990s, hit first by online retailing, then by the recessions of 2001 and 2008. Vacancies have climbed. Dead malls became a peculiar suburban blight. Not a single enclosed mall has been built since 2006. Today, anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of malls are expected to fail in the next ten years.
Comment: It's not much of a Mall but Four Seasons Mall in Plymouth is completely vacant. The City of Plymouth blew it by not letting Wal-Mart develop it. I worked at Western Woods Mall in Cincinnati during college (shoe salesman). I met many chicks there which was a highlight. (Meeting chicks was almost as important as making $$ for me!). Deadmalls is a website devoted to the topic. I'm not much of a shopper and I never go to the Mall. Kathee rarely goes. The Mall of America is too big ... too far away. Hate it! Image source. Also see Time Magazine "Stores that Are No More". At dinner with my brother in law Thursday: "Everything I need I can find at Wal-Mart or Amazon"

Web of Lies ...


A web of lies - Vladimir Putin’s epic deceits have grave consequences for his people and the outside world

Excerpt:

Russia’s president is implicated in their crime twice over. First, it looks as if the missile was supplied by Russia, its crew was trained by Russia, and after the strike the launcher was spirited back to Russia. Second, Mr Putin is implicated in a broader sense because this is his war. The linchpins of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic are not Ukrainian separatists but Russian citizens who are, or were, members of the intelligence services. Their former colleague, Mr Putin, has paid for the war and armed them with tanks, personnel carriers, artillery—and batteries of surface-to-air missiles. The separatists pulled the trigger, but Mr Putin pulled the strings. The enormity of the destruction of flight MH17 should have led Mr Putin to draw back from his policy of fomenting war in eastern Ukraine. Yet he has persevered, for two reasons. First, in the society he has done so much to mould, lying is a first response. The disaster immediately drew forth a torrent of contradictory and implausible theories from his officials and their mouthpieces in the Russian media: Mr Putin’s own plane was the target; Ukrainian missile-launchers were in the vicinity. And the lies got more complex. The Russian fiction that a Ukrainian fighter jet had fired the missile ran into the problem that the jet could not fly at the altitude of MH17, so Russian hackers then changed a Wikipedia entry to say that the jets could briefly do so. That such clumsily Soviet efforts are easily laughed off does not defeat their purpose, for their aim is not to persuade but to cast enough doubt to make the truth a matter of opinion. In a world of liars, might not the West be lying, too?
Comment: So much for "Reset" with Russia: HILLARY CLINTON: "The reset worked."


Cynk Sinks [and Stinks]



Cynk Lives Up to Its Name

Excerpt:

Shares of Cynk Technology Corp. tumbled 85% Friday after trading resumed following a two-week halt imposed by regulators. Cynk, which describes itself as a social network, dropped $11.80 to close at $2.10. The Securities and Exchange Commission this month halted all trading in the stock, citing concerns about "potentially manipulative transactions" in the shares. Cynk's stock soared earlier this year, trading as high as $21.95 after spending much of the spring between six and eight cents a share. Cynk has no revenue, no assets and one employee. The company, whose mailing address is listed in Belize City, Belize, has had four chief executives since 2008. It was founded in Las Vegas under the name Introbuzz. The company couldn't be reached for comment.
Comment: Previously ...

7.24.2014

Sodastream Option Pop



Sodastream trader makes 3,000% profit in 2 hours

Excerpt:

Two minutes before 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, one options trader bought 500 weekly 30-strike calls in Sodastream for 15 cents each (or $15 per contract, given that each contract controls 100 shares) that expire Friday. It was by far the biggest Sodastream trade of the day in terms of the number of contracts. The purchase gives the trader the right to buy Sodastream shares for $30 at the close of Friday trading. The reason those options were so inexpensive is that the stock was trading at about $29.50 at the time, meaning the chance of the stock closing Friday above $30 was considered to be especially low. But then, shortly before noon, Bloomberg reported that the company is in talks with an investment firm about taking the company private. After a halt, the stock sailed as high as $36. The news created an instant windfall for the trader, as these options, which were bought for $7,500, became worth as much as $250,000.
Comment: Jimmy does not do options . Image

7.23.2014

Raqqa: Christian Life in a Caliphate



In a Syrian City, ISIS Puts Its Vision Into Practice

Excerpt:

Raqqa’s three churches, once home to an active Christian minority, have all been shuttered. After capturing the largest, the Armenian Catholic Martyrs Church, ISIS removed its crosses, hung black flags from its facade and converted it into an Islamic center that screens videos of battles and suicide operations to recruit new fighters. The few Christians who remain pay a minority tax of a few dollars per month. When ISIS’s religious police officers patrol to make sure shops close during Muslim prayers, the Christians must obey, too. The religious police have banned public smoking of cigarettes and water pipes – a move that has dampened the city’s social life, forcing cafes to close. They also make sure that women cover their hair and faces in public. A university professor from Raqqa said ISIS gunmen recently stopped a bus heading to Damascus when they found one woman on board insufficiently covered. They held the bus up for an hour and a half until she went home and changed, the professor said. More pragmatically, ISIS has managed to keep food in markets, and bakeries and gas stations functioning. But it has had more trouble with drinking water and electricity, which is out for as much as 20 hours a day.
Comment: Image snip from Militant Islamist group in Syria orders Christians to pay tax for their protection Excerpt:

A militant Islamist group has demanded Christians living in the north-east of Syria pay it a tax in return for protection as it seeks to build a traditional "Caliphate" in areas it controls. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published the terms under which minorities could live under its rule in a statement on the internet. "Christians are obligated to pay Jizya tax on every adult male to the value of four golden dinars for the wealthy, half of that for middle-income citizens and half of that for the poor," their decree said. "They must not hide their status, and can pay in two instalments per year." Four dinars would amount to just over half an ounce of gold, worth £435 at current prices. In return, Christians will not be harmed and will be allowed to worship privately, maintain their own clergy without interference and keep their own cemeteries, it added. They are implicitly allowed to continue drinking alcohol and eating pork, but may not do so publicly or trade them with Muslims. Nor may they build or renovate churches, or display the cross.
Comment: Map source


The Annual Mayfly Gross-Out in Radar

Wisconsin Is Getting Smothered by Millions of Gross, Horny Flies

Comment: Image from the article. Many gross photos in the article. The upper midwest version of Florida's lovebug. More on: The mayfly’s lifecycle: a fascinating, fleeting story
The mayfly’s lifecycle is one of the most fascinating and fleeting stories in the natural world. One of the many charactersistics that makes mayflies the unique insects they are is the potential for two different winged adult forms in their life cycle. The nymph emerges from the water as a dull-coloured sub-imago (or dun) that seeks shelter in bankside vegetation and trees. After a period of a couple of hours or more, the sub-imago once again sheds its skin to transform into the brightly coloured imago (or spinner). It is not clear why mayflies have retained this unique step in their lifecycle, however it is thought that they may not be able to achieve the change from nymph to sexually mature adult in one step. A mayfly’s life cycle starts with the males forming a swarm above the water and the females flying into the swarm to mate. The male grabs a passing female with its elongated front legs and the pair mate in flight. After copulation, the male releases the female, which then descends to the surface of the water where she lays her eggs. Once mated she will fall, spent, onto the water surface to lie motionless, with her wings flat on the surface, where fish pick them off at their leisure. The male fly rarely returns to the water but instead he goes off to die on the nearby land. The eggs fall to the bottom of the water where they stick to plants and stones. Flies of the Mayfly family Baetidae pull themselves under the water to attach their eggs directly to the bed before being drowned by the current. The nymphs take anything between a few days to a number of weeks to hatch depending on water conditions and the species, and the resultant nymphs will spend various lengths of time, up to two years, foraging on the bottom before emerging as an adult fly. When it is time to emerge, the nymphs make their way to the surface where they pull themselves free of their nymphal shuck and emerge as a sub-imago. While they rest here to dry their newly exposed wings, they are at their most vulnerable to attack from fish. Some species exhibit great synchronicity in their hatching. The North American species Hexagenia limbata hatches in huge numbers from the Mississippi every year. The total number of mayflies in this hatch are estimated to be around 18 trillion – more than 3,000 times the number of people on earth. The newly emerged insects are attracted to lights in riverside towns and villages and the local authorities deploy snow clearing vehicle to remove their rotting corpses. Ironically, what is seen as a nuisance in America is seen as a gift in Africa. Locals around Lake Victoria gather adults of the mayfly Povilla adusta together with Chironomid midges to make a type of patty called ‘Kungu’. This protein rich food stuff is an important part of their diet.

Miguel Panduwinata's haunting premonition about Malaysia Airlines Flight 17



A haunting premonition: 'What will happen if the airplane crashes?' asks boy boarding MH17

Excerpt:

In a bedroom in a townhouse near Amsterdam, Miguel Panduwinata reached out for his mother. "Mama, may I hug you?" Samira Calehr wrapped her arms around her 11-year-old son, who'd been oddly agitated for days, peppering her with questions about death, about his soul, about God. The next morning, she would drop Miguel and his big brother Shaka at the airport so they could catch Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the first leg of their journey to Bali to visit their grandmother. Her normally cheerful, well-traveled boy should have been excited. His silver suitcase sat in the living room, ready to go. Jetskiing and surfing in paradise awaited. But something was off. A day earlier, while playing soccer, Miguel had burst out: "How would you choose to die? What would happen to my body if I was buried? Would I not feel anything because our souls go back to God?" And now, the night before his big trip, Miguel refused to release his mother from his grasp. He's just going to miss me, Calehr told herself. So she stretched out beside him and held him all night. It was 11 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16. Miguel, Shaka and the 296 other people aboard Flight 17 had about 15 hours left to live. The next morning, Samira Calehr and her friend Aan ushered her sons onto the train to the airport. They were joking and laughing. Shaka, 19, had just finished his first year of college, where he was studying textile engineering, and promised to keep an eye on Miguel. Their other brother, Mika, 16, hadn't been able to get a seat on Flight 17 and would travel to Bali the next day. At the check-in counter, Calehr fussed over her boys' luggage. Shaka, meanwhile, realized he'd forgotten to pack socks. Calehr promised to buy him some and send them along with Mika. Finally, they were outside customs. The boys hugged Calehr goodbye and walked toward passport control. Suddenly, Miguel whirled around and ran back, throwing his arms around his mother. "Mama, I'm going to miss you," he said. "What will happen if the airplane crashes?"
Comment: Image capture from article. Another article with more about other victims. My view. Get the questions answered early in life: "What will happen when I die?" and then live life having trusted Christ and not worrying about it.

Stripes the New Orange



Sheriff buys jail jumpsuits after orange becomes 'cool'

Excerpt:
"It's because as you see shows on television, like 'Orange Is The New Black,' some people think it's cool to look like an inmate of the Saginaw County Jail with wearing all-orange jumpsuits out at the mall or in public," Federspiel says, referring to the Netflix drama. "It's a concern because we do have our inmates out sometimes doing work in the public, and I don't want anyone to confuse them or have them walk away. "We decided that the black-and-white stripes would be the best way to go because it signifies 'jail inmate,' and I don't see people out there wanting to wear black-and-white stripes."
Comment: I could like! They are reasonably priced at "$11.73 per jumpsuit" and last "two to three years"

7.22.2014

The New Breakfast



As Cereal Slips, a New Battle Over Breakfast Dollars - Kellogg Gets Squeezed by McDonald's, Taco Bell as Tastes Shift to High-Protein Foods

Excerpt:

... as consumers back away from cereal to experiment with more protein-rich foods, their habits remain otherwise entrenched: most Americans still eat breakfast at home and follow morning routines more rigid than during the rest of the day. "People are time-pressed in the morning and know exactly where they're going, and that doesn't vary much," said Alex Macedo, Burger King's North American president, in a recent interview. That chain claims 2.8% of the $47 billion spent each year on fast-food breakfasts in the U.S., according to brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. This year it started offering its value-menu items at breakfast and added burgers to the morning menu in an effort to boost sales. Many fast food and fast casual restaurant chains smell opportunity around breakfast. Of consumers who eat out at least twice a week, 30% say they do so for breakfast, compared with 40% for lunch and 50% for dinner, according to Bernstein.
Comment: See "How We Eat Breakfast - By the Numbers". Our daily breakfast M-F is Cherrios for Kathee and Grape Nuts for me. Saturday is pancakes. Sunday is single fried egg with English muffin.

Hamas: On Asymmetry in Warfare and Civilian Cannon Fodder

Hamas's Civilian Death Strategy - Gazans shelter terrorists and their weapons in their homes, right beside sofas and dirty diapers.

Excerpt:

Let's state the obvious: No one likes to see dead children. Well, that's not completely true: Hamas does. They would prefer those children to be Jewish, but there is greater value to them if they are Palestinian. Outmatched by Israel's military, handicapped by rocket launchers with the steady hands of Barney Fife, Hamas is playing the long game of moral revulsion. With this conflict about to enter its third week, winning the PR war is the best Hamas can hope to achieve. Their weapon of choice, however, seems to be the cannon fodder of their own people, performing double duty in also sounding the drumbeat of Israeli condemnation. If you can't beat Iron Dome, then deploy sacrificial children as human shields. Civilian casualties will continue to mount. The evolving story will focus on the collateral damage of Palestinian lives. Israel's moral dilemma will receive little attention. Each time the ledgers of relative loss are reported, world public opinion will turn against the Jewish state and box Israel into an even tighter corner of the Middle East. All the ordinary rules of warfare are upended in Gaza. Everything about this conflict is asymmetrical—Hamas wears no uniforms and they don't meet Israeli soldiers on battlefields. With the exception of kaffiyeh scarves, it isn't possible to distinguish a Hamas militant from a noncombatant pharmacist. In Vietnam, the U.S. military learned guerrilla warfare in jungles. In Gaza, the Jewish state has had to adapt to the altogether surreal terrain of apartment complexes and schoolhouses. There are now reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are transporting themselves throughout Gaza in ambulances packed with children. Believe it or not, a donkey laden with explosives detonated just the other day. The asymmetry is complicated even further by the status of these civilians. Under such maddening circumstances, are the adults, in a legal and moral sense, actual civilians? To qualify as a civilian one has to do more than simply look the part. How you came to find yourself in such a vulnerable state matters. After all, when everyone is wearing casual street clothing, civilian status is shared widely. The people of Gaza overwhelmingly elected Hamas, a terrorist outfit dedicated to the destruction of Israel, as their designated representatives. Almost instantly Hamas began stockpiling weapons and using them against a more powerful foe with a solid track record of retaliation. What did Gazans think was going to happen? Surely they must have understood on election night that their lives would now be suspended in a state of utter chaos. Life expectancy would be miserably low; children would be without a future. Staying alive would be a challenge, if staying alive even mattered anymore. To make matters worse, Gazans sheltered terrorists and their weapons in their homes, right beside ottoman sofas and dirty diapers. When Israel warned them of impending attacks, the inhabitants defiantly refused to leave.
Comment: A reminder that the US Government regards Hamas as a terrorist organization. Hamas' stated purpose is the destruction of Israel. : "On the Destruction of Israel: 'Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.' (Preamble)". Reminder that Hamas has lit off 1600 rockets towards civilians in Israel. A reminder that Hamas broke with Fatah (who would make peace)

CIT dives into the adult pool (joins "big boy" club")





CIT Group to Buy OneWest; Profit Tops Estimates - Deal with IMB Holdco, OneWet's Parent Company, To Bump CIT's Assets to $67 Billion

Excerpt:

CIT Group Inc. agreed to buy OneWest Bank NA's parent company for $3.4 billion in the largest bank acquisition announced so far this year. The cash-and-stock deal with IMB Holdco LLC, which is OneWest's parent company, will bump CIT's assets up to $67 billion, making the bank large enough to be considered "systemically important" by regulators. CIT, a lender to small and medium-size businesses, had $44.15 billion in assets as of June 30, CIT shares rose more than 10% in early trading as investors cheered the company's move, which will add deposits, a presence in California retail branch banking and a stable source of funding. "My first comment was wow," said Sterne Agee analyst Henry J. Coffey Jr. on CIT's earnings call. "This is incredible." CIT Chief Executive John Thain recently told investors he was looking for a significant deal so that his firm jump comfortably over the $50 billion level rather than edge over it by a bit. That is because the avalanche of regulations that comes with topping $50 billion isn't worth it without a significantly bigger earnings engine.
Comment: Love the typo (red box)

For Banks Near Cutoff, Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better - For Banks About to Grow Into 'Systemically Important' Designation, Size Brings a New Set of Headaches

Excerpt:


Mr. Ficalora is CEO of New York Community Bancorp, a lender in Westbury, N.Y., with $47.6 billion in assets as of the end of the first quarter. The bank is projected to reach the $50 billion mark by the end of the year if it continues to expand at its current rate. But with that milestone will come myriad headaches. Once the bank reports assets of more than $50 billion on average for four quarters in a row, NYCB, as it is known, will be large enough to be considered "systemically important" by regulators. That status will require it to comply with stiff rules on capital, submit to yearly "stress tests" and create a road map to wind down the bank in the event of a crisis, moves that will add to its costs. As a result, Mr. Ficalora says NYCB is restraining its lending growth, since loans amount to assets. The rule characterizing bank holding companies over $50 billion as systemically important is part of the regulatory overhaul that followed the financial crisis and is aimed at keeping a closer eye on banks whose potential problems could endanger the broader financial system.
Comment:  Images snipped from articles. NYCB has a 6.4% dividend! Interesting





The end of Obamacare? Subsidies on Federal Exchanges invalidated



Court Deals Blow to Health-Law Subsidies on Federal Exchanges - Ruling Is Major Setback to Implementation of Affordable Care Act

Excerpt:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on a 2-1 vote, invalidated an Internal Revenue Service regulation that implemented a key piece of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The regulation said subsidies for health insurance were available to qualifying middle- and low-income consumers whether they bought coverage on a state exchange or one run by the federal government. The ruling potentially could cripple the law by making subsidies unavailable in as many as 36 states where the federal government has run some or all of the insurance exchanges. The court sided with challengers, four individuals and three employers, who argued the health law allowed subsidies only for insurance purchases made through state exchanges. The issue became an important one after the law was enacted because more than two-thirds of the states chose not to set up their own exchanges, relying on federally-run exchanges instead. The appeals court's opinion, by Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee, acknowledged that the decision has "major consequences," but the court said the IRS rule wasn't a permissible interpretation of the health law. Both judges in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents.
Comment: Image source (and these movies used to really scare me!). Perhaps had anyone read the law before they passed it ...!!!