Stingers: Bees, Donald Loves Dictators, & Audit the Fed

24 October 2016 – We don’t have and interview today due to a last minute cancellation but Will and I had a LOT to say so everything worked out as it was meant to be. At the top of the show Will uses the example of the Vauxhall automotive plant, in Liverpool, to illustrate why Brexit is creating such a tenuous employment environment all across the UK. It is incredible that people thought they could place a protest vote for something every expert was telling them would damage their economy and yet they are still stunned that companies are talking about moving their operations out of the UK.

My first topic today is bees. The decline of pollinators is continuing and the first bees have recently been added to the Threatened and Endangered Species list . They will soon to be joined there by more of their sister species. Still, through on-going research we are steadily learning how, precisely, it is that we are killing the bees and finding that many of those factors are reversible if we start now…. Two good places to begin are the Xerces Society and the Great Sunflower Project. Every little flower helps. As promised, I have included a photo of the newly threatened buff-tailed bumble bee above for your enjoyment.

Will then comes back to talk about Donald Trump’s ongoing praise of dictators. From Vladimir Putin to Saddam Hussein to Mummer Gaddafi to Bashar al-Assad to Kim Jong-un to Rodrigo Duterte – Trump respects and admires each and every one. In fact, Trump wants to BE them. Fortunately, unless he plays that sort of character on Trump TV, we aren’t actually going to give him the chance.

My big block of the day, on Audit the Fed, begins on the broadcast version of the show but is only available in full on the podcast version. If you thought Audit the Fed was about auditing the Federal Reserve then you probably got suckered in by Right to Life and Right to Work too. Audit the Fed is about Congress taking control of monetary policy…because they handled Zika so well.

Will then closes out Extra Mad talking about why Mars is where all the science is. How we move our species forward, how we survive, will in no small part be determined by how serious we get about space.

And in closing, the loss of pollinators is already having a negative effect of carrot crops. CARROTS, people! This is serious. Carrots!Arliss

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Trump is Toast & Fascism in the UK

10 October 2016 – We were lucky to have Scottish National Party Councillor Math Campbell  to preview for us what it looks like when fascism takes over a country. The British government of Prime Minister Theresa May is talking about creating a “registry” for all foreign nationals and has decided that no organizations which advise Whitehall can include foreign nationals among their advisors. Prime Minister May has also announced that when negotiating Brexit from the European Union, limiting immigration will take priority over jobs, the economy and justice. It’s good to know she has established her priorities. Math let us know that plans are continuing apace for a Scottish break from the UK.

At the top of the show Will makes it clear that the most recent release from Wikileaks, which is intended to be problematic for Clinton, is not now and was not ever created by the Clinton Foundation or part of a speech given by Hillary. The release is comprised of falsified documents, probably written by Russian agents, in an effort to influence the US election.

I answer the question, what is Hillary’s plan to pay for debt-free college? This is a nod of the carrot to Travis & Rachel, our friends at Irreverent Testimony, who were faced by a Libertarian with this very question last week. I hope this answer helps. If anyone needs additional detail, there is a lot more at Hillary’s website. This link will take you to the specific page.

Usually, both Will and I have a block on the show to talk at a bit more length about a subject of interest to each of us. We planned that for this week. We prepared our notes. We got ready to record the show. And then Politico announced that the Republican National Committee had temporarily frozen the funding and all work on Trump Victory Fund projects. Will and I were willing to let the rest of the media deal with the despicable things Trump has said about women but when the GOP starts to seriously break-away from their candidate, well, that we had to cover. Late on Saturday afternoon we pitched our original plans out the window and started again. What you will hear is current as of about 6PM on Saturday, 8 October.

I didn’t mention it on the show but I did find this graphic of 150 GOP leaders who don’t support Trump and when they reached their breaking point. It is fascinating.

With luck, next week will be a bit more normal. Carrots! – Arliss

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Flipping the Senate, Trump’s Lies & the AltRight

3 October 2016 – We are fortunate again to have back on the show progressive political pundit Jesse LaGreca (@JesseLaGreca) to talk about the efforts by Democrats to flip the Senate. Something we were once so sure of has become seriously imperiled and Jesse takes us through the top targeted Red to Blue Senate races step by step. It matters that we are about to put a Democrat in the White House but without the Senate President Clinton will not be able to accomplish many of our goals, including appointing decent human beings to the Supreme Court. We can not roll-back Citizens United or restore the weakened Voting Rights Act or wisely protect the environment or be sure that women are free to make their own decisions without securing the Supreme Court. This is a more than critical election. We cannot allow GOP money to shut out our voices again.

Will gets into detail with the horror that is the AltRight and the ties of the Trump campaign to openly racist groups. He discussed the ideological backing of the fascist branch of the alt right, rooted in conspiracy theories, and shows how the Trump campaign and the alt right is moving from covert, dog-whistle racism, to overt antisemitism, including this death threat sent to Jewish Politico journalist Julia Ioffe, which is fairly representative of the way Trump’s supporters have been attacking Jewish journalists. Next week, He’ll talk about the misogynistic “Manosphere” component of the Alt-Right.

I dive into dissecting the morass of lies Trump told about economic issues during the first debate. In fact, there are so many that I will be back next week with even more. (How sad is that?) This week I get into the fact that China is NOT manipulating their currency, factories in Mexico are NOT more sophisticated than those in the US and Mexico is NOT the “8th wonder of the world” as claimed by Trump. Then I go after his lies related to jobs and Ford Motor Company. Ford is NOT putting workers in Michigan out of work in order to move manufacturing to Mexico and the US is NOT shedding manufacturing jobs. In fact, the Obama Administration (or Obama/Clinton Administration, as Trump puts it) has added 800,000 new manufacturing jobs in the last five years.

At the top of the show Will tells us that Jeremy Corbyn still can’t lead his Labour Party out of a paper bag, much less to Downing Street. I get into it over Trump’s lie about the condition of the US nuclear arsenal.

If you haven’t seen them yet, Team Arliss, on Instagram at ImHoppingMad, has their own take on the recent Presidential debate. Carrots! – Arliss

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We’re BACK with Failed Tech & Blockchain

12 September 2016 – The stars have almost fully aligned. Will and I are both fully functional this week. Sadly, we have no interview or Extra Mad, because we are both frantically catching-up at work, but the show is all new this week and next week, for our 1-year anniversary show, we have an interview I have been trying to get for a while so I’m excited.

At the top of the show I talk about the bankruptcy filing by South Korean shipping giant, Hanjin. Sea freight is a canary in the coal mine economic indicator and the sinking of Hanjin speaks volumes. Also, with Christmas on the horizon, the Toy Shippers Association (no joke, there’s clearly a club for everyone), is expressing deep concern. It is already apparent that the stranding of so many toys will be putting extra pressure on reindeer-based transport systems on the night of 24 December. Also during the top block, Will, as predicted/promised, gets into the appearance of Nigel Farage at a Trump rally in Mississippi. Fascism is real and it’s gone mainstream. The “Lauering” of the bar by the press has allowed it to go unchallenged for years and now we are all reaping the crop of hate so carefully nurtured by the AltRight.

In his block Will has some fun talking about the history of tech and projects that failed because they were too far ahead of their time. The Scottish efforts to build a canal across Panama, the Macon and Akron airships and the Apple Newton were all failures. Still, there is a tiny bit of Newton in every iPhone. Eventually, good ideas tend to take root. The photo below is of the USS Macon during a visit to new York City in 1933.

enosmacon

US Navy Photo colorized by Jared Enos.

 

In my segment I answer the question, what is blockchain? Bitcoin, the first iteration of blockchain, is an interesting experiment but it has substantial limitations. Blockchain itself, however, will have a big future and be used in many applications. It will not replace currency, for reasons I will get into in more detail next week, but it is an important technology which is on the rise. I do spend some time on the technical limitations of blockchain including the Byzantine Generals problem. There are many serious descriptions of this hurdle as it has been an unresolved challenge, both for programmers and applied mathematicians, for nearly forty years but there was one genuinely short but funny article and I promised to link to it here.

Both Will and I thank you for sticking with us through the past few weeks. – Carrots! Arliss


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Frances Coppola, Putin & Rajan

1 August 2016 – It is always glorious when we can have the well-known banking expert,  economics wonk and bloggerFrances Coppola on the show.  We were thrilled to welcome her back this week to talk about threats to the independence of central banks. We also discussed her recent panel at the Financial Times Festival of Finance where she consistently pointed out that the rise in populism expressed both through the Brexit vote and in the Trump candidacy, is all about the local.

Will and I had a lot of fun at the top of the show where he reveled in the number of GOP pundits who had to admit they loved the Democratic National Convention and I revealed what is, perhaps, the single most important polling result of this election cycle.

Will then goes on to tear into what we know (and what we don’t) about the relationships between Donald Trump, members of his campaign staff, Julian Assange, Vladimir Putin and various Russian surrogates and agencies. The word “traitor” does indeed come to mind. Seriously.

I spend my time on an overview of the economy of India, the modernization efforts and challenges and a bit about the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) including its recent upheaval. Since the soon-to-be former Governor of the RBI may very well be the incoming head of the IMF, after Lagarde steps down later this year, it’s worth getting to know a bit more about him. Rughuram Rajan is a neoliberal economist but he is also extremely accomplished, qualified and would be a much stronger voice for developing nations.

In spite of Trump, this has been a great week to be a Democrat and Will and I are still in the post-convention glow. In the next 100 days this country may well rise or fall. Let’s get to work. Carrots! – Arliss

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Losses & Listening, Mark Carney & Stress

11 July 2016 – We could not begin without acknowledging that yet again our nation has suffered terrible losses:  Alton Sterling, Philander Castile, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa. Will sums up our feelings by reading parts of Hillary Clinton’s speech in Philadelphia which, we feel, speaks for us.

It’s hard to believe there was anything else important in a week like this past one but there was and I get to two of the big pieces of financial news. The US Federal Reserve released the stress test results of both the quantitative (DFAST) and qualitative (CCAR) testing of the thirty-three largest US banks. Stress testing is one of the big gains which emerged from the Dodd-Frank Act. In order to pass banks must prove that they can withstand specific “severely adverse scenarios.” The scenarios are both different and more difficult each year. This year all the banks tested passed DFAST and all except the US subsidiaries of Deutsche Bank and Santander passed the CCAR. I know you don’t think this really applies to you but that brings me to my second segment for the show….

The UK really is in a crisis, both political and economic. In the midst of all the chaos the one steady, calm voice of national leadership has come from Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England (BoE). In a critical speech on 30 June (PDF here), Carney delineated what the BoE has done, is doing and will do as the economic disaster of Brexit trundles forward. Alone among major UK governmental departments or associated institutions the BoE had a Brexit contingency plan and they have put it into action. Carney steadied markets and calmed the City with his cogent, realistic assessment and announcement of actions which the BoE is taking. Carney also reminded everyone that the most recent round of UK bank stress testing did include a Brexit scenario and that UK banks have been found to be capable of withstanding losses more than twice those they sustained during the global financial crisis. In addition, Carney noted that the BoE will be making sure that banks are making loans both to business and to individuals and he let banks know that the BoE will not be taking its eye off the regulatory ball either, ring-fencing will progress. In this period of complete UK political breakdown, Carney looks like the only adult in the room and proves it by managing to walk and chew gum at the same time–times ten. Oh – and central banks can make all the difference in a crisis.

Will got into the one other big piece of news from this past week, the matter of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. He made a point of fact-checking and adding to the information that is out there and he clarifies the difference between Clinton and those who have willfully and knowingly divulged classified information. There is a reason no prosecutor in the country would bring the case, Hillary’s mistakes do not meet either the letter or intent of the law. We will all, regardless, spend another two years listening to the GOP yammering on about it but it’s good to get the facts straight at the top.

Next week we are hopping down the bunny trail and our show will consist of interviews we have done while at Netroots Nation in St. Louis. If you are there, please come on by and visit with us. We will be on radio row (on and off) in the vendor hall. We’re bringing treats!  –  Carrots! Arliss

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SNP Councilor Math Campbell-Sturgess

27 June 2016 – Well, THAT happened. Brexit basically ate the news cycle of much of the world this past week. Who knew so many people could find legitimate use for the word “gobsmacked.” We were lucky to be guided through the chaos by Scottish National Party Councilor Math Campbell-Sturgess. Will has been wanting to have the Inverclyde Council representative on for a quite a while and this seemed like the moment. In fact, the timing was so good that Will trimmed down his block and I ditched mine completely because there was just too much ground to cover. I am especially interested by the way austerity is playing in elections and politics around the world. It’s insidious. We also talked about the upcoming Scottish referendum on leaving the UK, the terrific leadership of Nichola Sturgeon, the mess that is trying to pass as the Labour Party, the horror that is the Conservative party, commonalities between current UK and US politics, land reform and the general future of Scotland. Also, I think Angela Merkel joined Nichola Sturgeon on a very short list of people who managed to look like world leaders this week.

I began the show with a short tribute to Amjad Sabri, the sublimely talented Sufi Qawwalis singer and musician who was killed on Thursday in Karachi, Pakistan. He was a man who had devoted his life to a message of peace and love. His loss is unspeakably great. In tribute to Amjad, all of our interstitial music this week is his.

Will took a few minutes to hit the highlights of the ruling by the Hague on the case being brought by the Philippines against China over the Spratly Islands. The Philippines won. Enforcement is another matter entirely. *sigh*

It was a big week and I don’t think anyone knows what comes next. Hang on to your ears!  Carrots! – Arliss

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