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If you've been reading me for a while you know that you can count the number of times I've agreed with anything Obama has said or done on the fingers of one hand.

However, the latest Israel kerfluffle is one of those times.

Bibi has, for years, lied on the international stage about his "commitment" to an actual two-state solution with the Palestinians.  He never meant it, however, and in the closing days of his re-election campaign he said what he really meant and thought: Never, so long as I'm in charge.

Ok, fine and well enough.  Israel is an independent nation and is free to make a such a declaration and decision.

However, we and other nations are free to condition our political support for Israel in the international arena on their willingness to formally withdraw from and recognize the sovereignty of a nation and people that were supposed to have been established at the time of the Partition when Israel itself came to be as a formally-recognized state entity.

I fully recognize that a number of Arab nations turned around and declared war when that happened, and that they lost.  However, unless you wish to argue that might makes right in the general sense and toss the Camp David accords on the bonfire of history, along with everything that may (read: probably will) come from doing so then this unilateral declaration of Bibi's with regard to occupation and annexation of land is just as unsupportable as was the decision to attempt the same by the Arabs.

I "get it" that people argue that Israel is the "only friend" we have in the Middle East.  But what sort of "friend" are they?  Israel has made clear for quite some time that it is a Jewish state, not a secular republic.  In this regard it is little different than Saudi Arabia in taking an official government stand on the preference of one religion over another.  The difference between the two is one of degree rather than character, and I find that problematic.

While Israel is free to run their nation as they see fit just as I believe we should not be lending support to Saudi Arabia I cannot, as a matter of consistency and conscience, support Israel either for the same fundamental reason.

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A French prosecutor has apparently made the statement that the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane that crashed a few days ago had the descent initiated as a voluntary act and apparently locked the pilot out of the cockpit.

The cockpit voice recorder appears to have documented the event with enough clarity for that conclusion to be reached.

The motive for this act is still unclear; the prosecutor is not characterizing this as terrorism, but that statement seems to be more than a bit at odds with the statement that the co-pilot intentionally and manually initiated the descent and refused to open the cockpit door.

The debris field also appears to confirm controlled flight into the ground; it appears the plane was intact at the time of impact.

More as we learn it...... 

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This is rather amusing, really.

A U.S. appeals court showdown looms next month for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in a case with potentially broad impact on how much influence investors can have over their companies.

The dispute concerns Wal-Mart’s sales of assault rifles with high-capacity magazines. New York’s Trinity Wall Street church wants shareholders to vote on a resolution calling on Wal-Mart’s board to review management decisions to sell the weapons, as well as other products that could harm the company’s reputation.

You're not an "investor" when you buy stock in a public company.  You're an owner.

That's what holding stock is.  You're buying an ownership stake.  And while boards and various bodies of law have tried to limit your influence over the years, the fact of the matter is that as an owner you should absolutely have the right to ask other owners whether they'd like to band together with you to alter some aspect of the business you have ownership of.

Now here's the rub, of course -- that you have a small minority position doesn't mean that you win.  But it should mean you get the right to put proposals on the shareholder ballot and have them voted upon and, if you can convince enough other people to go along with it who are also owners, yes, you should be able to influence policy.

I highly doubt this proposal would win favor, by the way.  But that doesn't mean that I think the company should be able to suppress it.

If a firm doesn't like having to deal with their owners and what they want then they shouldn't be a public company!

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Good:

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was recovered in Afghanistan last spring after five years in captivity, faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, according to his lawyer.

I didn't buy the story that he was "captured" from the start, given that it appears he mailed various items he would need if remaining on duty home just before being "captured."  That, for me, was the smoking gun.

The news conference should be interesting.

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Oh my....

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February decreased $3.2 billion or 1.4 percent to $231.3 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This decrease, down three of the last four months, followed a 2.0 percent January increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.4 percent. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 1.0 percent.

Transportation equipment, also down three of the last four months, led the decrease, $2.5 billion or 3.5 percent to $69.5 billion.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods in February, down four of the last five months, decreased $0.5 billion or 0.2 percent to $244.0 billion. This followed a 1.4 percent January decrease.

There's nothing really here to like, but there is one footnote -- computers and communications gear has not posted a three-month negative consecutively.  However annual change for both is deeply negative, particularly computers and related products (-15% on shipments and -6.9% on orders.)  There's no good way to read that one.

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