'France has so far dodged the "problem child" reputations that Spain and Italy have earned. But it looks like that will be increasingly hard to keep up. Data today on France's business output hinted not just that its economy is decaying—but that it's doing so rapidly.


Markit's preliminary March purchasing managers' index—which measures monthly changes in private-sector output—came in at 42.1 (pdf), down from 43.1 in February. (Anything lower than 50 reflects a drop in output.) That's the fastest slowdown in business activity France has seen since March 2009. And Jack Kennedy, economist at Markit, says this likely augurs a larger crumbling of the French economy.


"My take is it's really a continuation of the sharp weakening pattern we've seen in recent months—so very much a trend rather than a blip," Kennedy tells Quartz. "Most of the anecdotal feedback from the survey panel points to a general lack of confidence and clients reining in spending accordingly."


To frame it in another horrifying perspective, the PMI of the euro zone's second-largest economy was lower than that of Spain and Italy—and almost down to Greek levels (video), as Reuters' Jamie McGeever explains.'





Fwd: Algae

From: larry.r.trout

'Whiz kid grows algae under her bed, wins science fair


Sara Volz, 17, from Colorado Springs, Colo., joined the quest for practical alternatives to petroleum-based fuels in the seventh grade. Now a high school senior, she may have found an answer in the oily pond scum growing under her bed.


"I was trying to use guided evolution, so artificial selection, to isolate populations of algae cells with abnormally high oil content," she told NBC News.


The result is a population of algae that produces so much oil, so efficiently, that it bagged the grand prize Tuesday night in the Intel Science Talent Search, an elite science fair. The prize comes with a $100,000 scholarship.


Algae biofuel has long fascinated the green energy community as a promising alternative to other biofuels, such as corn-based ethanol, that take a bite out of the world's food budget. But a problem has been to get the plants to produce oil at scale cheaply enough to compete with petroleum-based fuel.


Other researchers have approached the problem by tweaking the algae genome or selecting the prime environmental conditions for algae growth. Volz's approach, she said, is different and lower cost. It relies on an herbicide that kills algae cells with low levels of an enzyme crucial to making oil.


"The idea is, if you introduce this chemical, you kill everything with really low oil production," she explained. "What you are left with is a population of cells with very high oil production."'






Fwd: 3/11

Great Star war purchase background…



'Judge Halts New York City Soda Ban

The city is "enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations," New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling decided Monday.'



Dare to be fiscally responsible…



'The S&P 500 .SPX climbed for a sixth straight day on Friday and ended nine of the past 10 weeks higher. All three major U.S. stock indexes racked up the biggest weekly gains since the first week of the year.


European shares dipped on Monday as investors digested Italy's downgrade by Fitch on account of political stalemate.


China's uneven economic recovery signals a looming dilemma for policymakers as official data over the weekend showed inflation at a 10-month high in February while factory output and consumer spending were weaker than forecast.'



'Late in the afternoon on April 2, 1991, Mt. Pinatubo, a volcano on the Philippine island of Luzon, began to rumble with a series of the powerful steam explosions that typically precede an eruption. Pinatubo had been dormant for more than four centuries, and in the volcanological world the mountain had become little more than a footnote. The tremors continued in a steady crescendo for the next two months, until June 15th, when the mountain exploded with enough force to expel molten lava at the speed of six hundred miles an hour. The lava flooded a two-hundred-and-fifty-square-mile area, requiring the evacuation of two hundred thousand people.


Within hours, the plume of gas and ash had penetrated the stratosphere, eventually reaching an altitude of twenty-one miles. Three weeks later, an aerosol cloud had encircled the earth, and it remained for nearly two years. Twenty million metric tons of sulfur dioxide mixed with droplets of water, creating a kind of gaseous mirror, which reflected solar rays back into the sky. Throughout 1992 and 1993, the amount of sunlight that reached the surface of the earth was reduced by more than ten per cent.'





'Big, bad carbon dioxide gets most of the attention when it comes to greenhouse gases, but it's not the only one that's warming the earth. Methane — a gas that is found in everything from landfills to cow stomachs — also plays a big role. Although global methane-emissions levels are much lower than CO2 emissions, pound for pound methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas; a ton of it has 23 times the warming effect of a ton of CO2.' (100 time the effect over 10 years).





"Folks, I can tell you I've known eight presidents, three of them intimately." --Joe Biden, Aug. 22, 2012


    I see your Bidenism and I raise you.


    "His mom lived in Long Island for ten years or so. God rest her soul. And- although, she's- wait- your mom's still- your mom's still alive. Your dad passed. God bless her soul." --Joe Biden, on the mother of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen (and probably a reason the Irish don't like us anymore).

Actress Harper says she's living remaining days to the fullest



Fwd: Venezuela

'The civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., who ran for president twice in the 1980s, traveled to Caracas Thursday to attend the funeral of Hugo Chavez, the staunchly anti-American Venezuelan leader who died earlier this week.


In an opinion article on CNN.com, Jackson explained that in the South American nation he would "meet with political, religious and community leaders" to reiterate the official message from President Barack Obama's administration that the United States hopes to foster better ties with Venezuela.'




Fwd: Births


'With its huge supply of oil and an educated and urbanized middle class, Venezuela ought to be among the wealthiest countries in the world. Yet since Chavez took power 14 years ago, Venezuela's economy has been ravaged. Even with the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela's growth has lagged behind other Latin American nations. Because Chavez nationalized, expropriated or destroyed other industries, Venezuela's exports now consist almost entirely of oil, whereas pre-Chavez, oil accounted for 77 percent of exports.


Chavez spent many millions on programs for the poor. Yet his assault on the private economy hurt the poor most of all. The currency has been devalued five times in the past 10 years and has lost 66 percent of its value since 2008. Inflation has been running at more than 23 percent annually, robbing the poor, along with everyone else, of purchasing power.


The government's response to food shortages has been two-fold -- forcing producers to meet quotas and placing price controls on more than 400 items. Like Stalin before him, Chavez resorted to his own version of the "saboteur" accusation against businessmen attempting to survive in his tightly regulated world. Forty butchers were arrested in 2010 for charging more than the permitted price for beef. Here's AP: "The government says butchers can charge 17 bolivars -- about $4 -- for a kilogram of beef. Butchers say they have to pay 14 bolivars -- about $3 -- for the meat, leaving them no margin to cover the other costs of their business." In addition to meat, there are chronic shortages of eggs, flour, oil, sugar and gasoline.


Since the nationalization of the electrical power industry in 2007, Venezuela has been plagued by blackouts. Every region of the country is affected several times a week.


And then there is crime. Venezuela had a high crime rate before Chavez, but the murder rate has more than tripled since he took power, making Caracas the most dangerous city on earth. Venezuela now suffers more murders than the United States and the European Union combined, though its population is only 1/28th as large. Most often victimized? The poor. Chavez has opened Venezuela's doors to drug traffickers and tolerates corruption among the police. The U.S. State Department warns travelers of the danger of robbery and kidnapping as soon as they arrive at the airport. ". . . Individuals wearing what appear to be official uniforms or other credentials are involved in facilitating or perpetrating these crimes."





Fwd: award canceled

'The department had named Ibrahim among recipients of a women's award to be presented Friday by Secretary of State John Kerry and first lady Michelle Obama…


The State Department has canceled the award it planned to give an Egyptian activist whose Twitter account included virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic statements.


The decision Friday comes a day after the administration postponed the award, while it looked into the recently discovered tweets from activist Samira Ibrahim.


Some of the tweets praised attacks on U.S. diplomatic installations and against Israeli civilians in Bulgaria.'




Best wishes,

John Coffey


Fwd: Syria

'Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says there is "absolutely" no chance of Moscow telling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stand down.


He told the BBC that Russia was not in the "regime-change game".


The main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, has long insisted that President Assad must go before any talks take place.


Mr Lavrov is due to visit London next week for talks with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.


Both countries say the Syrian crisis will top the agenda. Russia has traditionally been a close ally of the Syrian government and is the country's biggest arms supplier.


But while there is agreement that a negotiated settlement is the best way forward, Mr Lavrov told the BBC there was no question of Russia asking President Assad to stand aside.


"I can only say it is not for us to decide who should lead Syria. It is for the Syrians to decide," he said.


Asked if there was any chance of Russia urging President Assad to stand aside, he said: "Absolutely not. You know that we are not in the regime-change game. We are against interference in domestic conflicts.'




We asked Mubarek in Egypt to step aside when his people protested. Russia won't ask Syria's Assad to step aside after killing 40,000 Syrians.


'The U.S. unemployment rate is down, but that is because many Americans have given up looking for a job.


Dean Baker, an economist with the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington, said Friday that the decline in U.S. labor force participation in this recent data release was "striking."


The unemployment rate has dropped more than 40% of the way back to its pre-recession level, but the employment-to-population ratio is closer to its trough than its pre-recession peak.  In English: less Americans are looking for employment.


While women have fared better than men in the job market, this is mostly because they did not take the same hit to employment at the start of the downturn in late 2008 early 2009, Baker said today.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported unemployment fell to 7.7% from 7.9%, but the drop was at least partially attributable to a decline in labor force participation, Baker says. The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) was unchanged at 58.6 percent, exactly the same as the rate in February of 2012 and just 0.4 percentage points above the low hit in the summer of 2011.'




Best wishes,

John Coffey


Fwd: Chavez

On Mar 7, 2013, at 3:40 PM, "larry.r.trout wrote:

'Venezuela's acting president, Nicolás Maduro, has said that Hugo Chávez's embalmed body will be permanently displayed in a glass crystal casket'




Is he snow white or sleeping beauty?


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Coffey 

Vladimir Lenin



Fwd: Venzuela/China

'Edelmina Flores thanks God and Hugo Chávez for her apartment in a new housing complex in the Venezuelan president's home state of Barinas. She might also want to thank the Chinese government. Since 2007, the China Development Bank has lent Venezuela $42.5 billion, backed by revenue from Venezuelan crude. That sum accounts for nearly a quarter of the bank's overseas loans. At least $12 billion was promised in the past 15 months, when stagnant oil output and higher borrowing costs among major emerging markets made raising capital more expensive.


The money has provided a crucial boost for Chávez, who despite a battle with cancer is running for a third term. Most polls show Chávez leading Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition coalition candidate, on the eve of the Oct. 7 ballot, but not dominating as in 2006, when he won 63 percent of the vote. To woo constituents, the Chávez government has finished more than 250,000 houses since last year. In the past 12 months, government spending has risen 30 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC), fueling growth of 5.4 percent in the second quarter.


Venezuela pays off the loans with oil, the size of its payments depending on the price of crude. Currently, servicing debt consumes about 200,000 of the 640,000 barrels a day that Venezuela sends China. Apart from nailing down a steady source of oil, Beijing benefits in other ways. Flores's apartment is one of 5,360 units being built two miles outside the Barinas state capital by Citic Construction, a subsidiary of China's largest conglomerate. Citic is in talks with state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to acquire a stake in the Petropiar Chevron-PDVSA joint venture in the Orinoco Belt, the source of Venezuela's heavy crude.


Chinese companies are filling pent-up demand for everything from cars to televisions as currency and import restrictions lead to supply shortages. Since 2010, Chávez's government has purchased 3 million air conditioners, televisions, and other appliances from Qingdao Haier. The loans go toward importing cars made by Wuhu-based Chery Automobile, too.'







'The South Korean military warned on Wednesday that if provoked by North Korea, it would strike the North's "command leadership," in a sharp escalation of a war of words that hinted at an attack on a North Korean headquarters.


The warning came a day after the North Korean People's Army threatened to attack the United States and its South Korean ally  with "lighter and smaller nukes" – an outburst provoked by the United Nations Security Council's consideration of tough new sanctions on Pyongyang as punishment for its February nuclear blast.


North Korea's typically strident rhetoric has grown bolder following its successful recent tests of a long-range rocket and nuclear device, especially in the past week as the United States and South Korea started their joint annual  military exercises.


South Korea usually does not respond to North Korean tongue-lashing, dismissing it as propaganda. But amid fears among officials and analysts here that North Korea might provoke a deadly skirmish to shake the new government of President Park Geun-hye and destabilize the region, the South Korean military called a news conference on Wednesday to deliver one of its most categorical public warnings in recent months.


"If North Korea attempts a provocation that threatens the lives and security of our people, our military will forcefully and decisively strike not only the origin of provocation and its supporting forces but also its command leadership," said Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-hyun, chief operations officer at the military's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff. "We make it clear that we are all prepared."'




Which State is the Saddest?



Massive storm rolls into Chicago, eyes East Coast



Scientists say baby born with HIV apparently cured