News PM Punch — Dion’s Coming

December 6, 2013

newsmanGray, cold and wet this Friday afternoon on California’s north coast — the weather guy calls it a “light rain mist,” and although that’s true in actual respects, a 43-degree temperature and a chilled wind makes it seem much heavier, cold-heavier.
And on occasion, the rain becomes not a mist anymore, real rain, pattering heavily and so forth. We understand the rain up here, almost-normal for a lot of rain and one can assimilate quickly to the environment — but the freakin’ cold puts a freaking on us.

Since the Weather Channel opened a meteorological can-of-worms in taking the liberty of naming winter storms, via the same fashion as for hurricanes, or typhoons, this information from WunderBlog this afternoon sucks:

Once Cleon exits stage right on Saturday, we will have a new winter storm entering stage left, as Winter Storm Dion is now gathering strength over California.
Dion is expected to follow a track very similar to Cleon’s.
Dion will bring snow of 1 – 2′ to California’s Sierra Mountains by Saturday, and will begin spreading snow east of the Rockies on Saturday night.
Freezing rain, sleet and snow will fall from northeast Texas and southeast Oklahoma to the mid-Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley, including Little Rock, Ark., Memphis, Tenn. and Cincinnati.

Cleon’s remnants is freezing us now, then after that pisses out, Dion comes storming through singing about the same cold-hearted song. And those designation/honorific identities for winter storms by the Weather Channel hasn’t sit all that easy.
Funny piece from the New Yorker back just before the Thanksgiving weekend on the meteorologic dust-up — money bit:

Outside meteorologists, however, saw it quite differently.
Among the sharpest critics was Joel Myers, the president of AccuWeather, a competitor, who wrote in a statement that “in unilaterally deciding to name winter storms, The Weather Channel has confused media spin with science and public safety.”
Myers went on to discount the science behind the naming plan: “Hurricanes are well-defined storms following a path that can be tracked. Winter storms are often erratic, affecting different areas unevenly.”
Several news outlets issued reminders to reporters to avoid using the names.
(The Weather Channel is partially owned by NBCUniversal, so Al Roker gets to use them.)
The National Weather Service, meanwhile, issued an equivocal statement in which it said that it had “no opinion about private weather enterprise products and services.”

Positive side to this weather is for me it’s already the weekend.

Other bits beyond cold weather on this PM news cycle — and beyond the Mandela homage — is a couple of encouraging reports on the economy. First some good job numbers as employers added more than 200,000 jobs in November, dropping the unemployment rate down to 7 percent from 7.3, the lowest in five years.
And more actual work hours — from USAToday:

Other barometers of the labor market last month were also encouraging.
The average workweek rose to 34.5 hours from 34.4 hours.
Employers often pile more hours on existing workers before adding new ones.
And average hourly earnings rose four cents to $24.15.
Another possible signal of future hiring is that the number of temporary employees increased by 16,000.
Companies typically bring on contingent workers before adding to permanent staff.

Fairly-decent signs of some kind of recovery thingy — who knows?
And on the consumer side of the coin — via Bloomberg: Credit-card borrowing rose by the most since May as job gains, income growth and rising household wealth gave Americans the confidence to borrow. Consumers also took out more non-revolving loans for big-ticket purchases such as cars, which are on pace for their best sales year since 2007.
Maybe this will translate into strong holiday sales — who knows, again?

And beyond the economy, and into further Orwellian hijinks, a back-door intelligence story.
From the Global Post and something I wasn’t aware of at all:

But in a rare late-night parliament vote Friday night, they achieved another key goal by passing a controversial security measure: the Bill on the Protection of State Secrets — essentially Japan’s version of the USA PATRIOT Act.
The Obama administration, which has long complained of intelligence leaks in Japan, supported the bill.

They claim the text is poorly written, and has been pushed through hastily and secretively.
“The government has not said exactly what will become secret,” explains Aki Wakabayashi, director of Transparency International Japan, and a whistleblower who once exposed lavish government trips paid out of a secret national security budget.
“So the law could allow the government to withhold more information and ultimately undermine Japan’s democracy.”

The act gives heads of government agencies near-total power over classifying state secrets under four categories: diplomacy, defense, counterintelligence and counterterrorism.
The problem is, administrators can make the opaque decisions to classify a document even if their work hardly relates to national security.
That effectively allows them to hide any embarrassing piece of evidence, and then pursue the journalists and bloggers who make it public.

Hence, the horrific mess with the NSA — blind scared.
And the rain is again beyond a mist — getting dark-thirty and ‘Scandal‘ on Hulu.

(Illustration found here).

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