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Links 8/10/10

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Press Censorship: How the Truth Was Hidden About Nagasaki The Nation (hat tip reader John D)

Climate ‘linked to Moscow fires’ BBC

China milk powder blamed for ‘baby breasts‘ AFP (hat tip reader Ottawan)

The Digital Surveillance State: Vast, Secret, and Dangerous Glenn Greenwald, Cato (hat tip Francois T). Yes, even Cato has its moments….

Japan’s Economic Stagnation Is Creating a Nation of Lost Youths Daily Finance (hat tip reader Don B)

In Crackdown on Energy Use, China to Shut 2,000 Factories New York Times (hat tip reader Don B; Gonzalo Lira adds, “This is ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse for explaining away a downturn in a authoritarian/totalitarian regime.”)

The Rise of the Permabears New York Times (hat tip reader Scott)

Despite Scandal, Former UnitedHealth CEO was Ninth Best Paid CEO of the Decade Health Care Renewal (hat tip reader Francois T, who files it under, “Screw you, I’ve got mine!”)

Buffett And Gates’ Giant Charity Give-Away Is A Huge Ego-Trip And A Sign Of America’s ‘Desolate Social System’ Clusterstock

‘Breaking the Buck’ Was Close for Many Money Funds Wall Street Journal

The Texas Miracle, Yet Again Ken Houghton, Angry Bear. Dunno where I’ve been, I must confess I have never heard of the Texas miracle, but it appears to have been overhyped.

For G.M., a Subprime Solution Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times

What Really Happened to Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd? Helaine Olen, Slate

Time to regulate volatile food markets Joachim von Braun, Financial Times

Antidote du jour:

Picture 6

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24 comments

  1. i on the ball patriot

    “Glenn Greenwald, Cato (hat tip Francois T). Yes, even Cato has its moments….”

    Yes, even psychopathic ax murderers have their moments when they meld into the crowd and belittle their own crimes so as to enjoy and agitate the fear, manipulate the victims, and send out deceptive signals that mask their machinations.

    Gullibility!

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. attempter

      The basic pathology of Greenwald, the ACLU, and an organization like CATO in its civil libertarian mode is that they champion individual liberties but only within the corporatist framework.

      Where it comes to corporatism itself, they’re aggressive enemies of the people, as demonstrated in the ACLU’s long, vicious campaign to enshrine the anti-constitutional “rights” of “corporate persons”, culminating in its (and Greenwald’s) outspoken support for the Citizens United atrocity.

      This takes process liberalism to a psychopathic extreme, fetishizing a bizarre formalism of the 1st amendment at the price of extinguishing its spirit, since the more empowered these literal monsters are to shout down citizen speech, human speech, the less actual free speech will exist. Eventually citizenship and humanity itself are to be extirpated. But the corporate liberals will have their “process” intact!

      It’s all good and well to value Millian ideals of negative liberty, but that’s only a tool, not a human end, except in the corporate ideology. To fetishize negative freedom the way they do is literally a bourgeois prejudice, since the core of the bourgeois ideology is to remove all restrictions on the license to seek profit.

      So however excellent the ACLU, Greenwald, and their kind may be in particular civil liberties contexts, just remember that in the end they care most about the liberty to seek property and profit. They are not affirmative democrats (small-d) by any stretch.

      Don’t get me wrong – they do excellent, important work as civil libertarians given their civil-liberties-within-corporatism premise.

      But no one should mistake them for advocates of the people in any broader sense. They’re still peddling a version of trickle-down. In the end we should all obey, and use our civil liberties in economically acceptable, i.e. corporate-friendly, ways.

      There’s no other way to square anything with support for things so aggressive and obscene as corporate personhood, corporate free speech, and other monstrosities.

      1. NOTaREALmerican

        Great summary. The Socialists and Fascists are always united in their view that only the very very very very very smart insiders should – in the end – run things.

      2. Francois T

        Hmmm!

        You’re very harsh on Greenwald here. He explained, correctly in my opinion, that the First Amendment does not suffer exceptions lightly. The SCOTUS has always been VERY reluctant to tamper with it.

        The fact of the matter is quite simple; The Citizens United decision force the politicians to either insulate themselves from corporate money OR to mandate broad disclosure from those who want to buy their way to the media during the elections. Remember this factoid about disclosure: only Clarence Thomas was against it. We now know WHY; his wife is a leader of the Tea Party.

        Now, it remains to be seen if CONgress will truly force disclosures to be as broad as possible. My bet is that, over time, they will have to, like it or not.

        But tampering with the First Amendment?

        Not a good idea!

        1. attempter

          The tampering and hijacking was to extend it to inhuman corporations in the first place.

          And that’s not something these ACLUers just happened to find in place as some mysterious fait accompli, so that they’d say “however questionable this is, let’s not tamper lightly.”

          No, they aggressively sought the corporate extension in the first place. They’ve always been corporatist ideologues in the courts.

          Your construction, I’m afraid, would defend an example of the Status Quo Lie:

          1. Aggressively seek a radical, destructive condition, in this case “free speech” for corporations.

          2. Turn around and declare that condition the normal, moderate state of affairs, such that anyone who criticizes it and wants to change it back to the moderate, rational condition is actually the “radical”, the “ideologue”, the one “politicizing” things.

          1. eric anderson

            attempter, why cannot you perceive the chain of logic?

            I don’t agree with the “person” rights of corporations. I’m a conservative (not an oligarch who calls himself a conservative), even a Tea Partier, but corporations are not persons and should not have that level of rights and protections.

            Nevertheless, corporations are owned by persons, run by persons, and to stifle their speech is to stifle the speech of people. That is very dangerous.

            When they stifled the speech of religious persons, I did not object because I was not a religious person.

            When they stifled the speech of communists, I did not object because I was not a communist.

            When the stifled the speech of corporations, I did not object because I am not an officer, employee, or shareholder of any corporation.

            When they stifled my speech…

            Well, you get the picture.

          2. attempter

            It’s hard to take your comment seriously with your sort of “logic”, which it’s hard to believe you actually believe, but just for the record, anyone involved in a corporation always had his rights on a personal level, to exercise as a private citizen.

            What’s happening here is to artificially privilege the already artificially privileged position of a corporate executive or shareholder (already absolved of much of the legal responsibility for his actions*) by in effect doubling his “rights” vis those of someone who’s only a mere citizen.

            It’s not bad enough that the rich get enhanced speech “rights” on account of their personal wealth – they should also get to double that preponderance by using corporate wealth as well?

            By their very existence corporations enjoy tremendous prerogatives. And here you are saying there shouldn’t have to be any trade-offs, any responsibilties whatsoever, it should be all or nothing.

            You question my logic? My logic is simple and iron-clad: Thanks in part to lessons like the one you’ve offered here today, I’ve long since concluded corporations are purely psychopathic, will not and cannot compromise with society or coexist with humanity, and so it should be “nothing”. We have to eradicate them completely.

            *I would of course also restore full personal responsibility for all actions undertaken by actual persons as part of “corporations”. There’s my logic. Just as I reject your anti-democratic doubling of rights for those ensconced in corporate privilege, so I reject your anti-justice and anti-moral absolution of responsibility for one’s actions based on this privilege.

  2. alex

    re: Press Censorship: How the Truth Was Hidden About Nagasaki

    I doubt that Weller’s early reports from Nagasaki would have made that much difference in the public attitude towards and the further development of nuclear weapons. Unmentioned in The Nation are later reports from Nagasaki and reports from Hiroshima about “Disease X” (radiation poisoning).

    Nonetheless the degree of military censorship was unconscionable. While there is a need for press censorship during active military operations, Weller entered Nagasaki on Sep. 6, 1945, but Japan had surrendered on Aug. 15. Even the formal written surrender was on Sep. 6. In other words, the war was clearly and thoroughly over, and so was the need for any press censorship.

    The best suggestion I ever heard for military press censorship is that censored materials should be archived and should be uncensored as soon as possible afterward. Most military secrets are fleeting. On June 5, 1944 even a hint of where and when the invasion of France would take place would have been an incredible violation of necessary military secrecy, but on the following day it was in newspapers around the world.

  3. Robespierre

    “The Digital Surveillance State: Vast, Secret, and Dangerous”

    The more corrupt the government the more paranoid it becomes and the bigger and more intrusive it becomes. The country is becoming a kind of “soft” police state under the approval of its citizenry.

  4. jacob richter

    Got any mozilla browser? If you type “about:config” into your browser window and then type “geo.” into the filter, you’ll see it’s got geolocation service enabled by default with no place in the preferences to change it. It sends your location to a google website. It wasn’t enough that all cellphones are government tracking devices – now NSA and its spinoffs want to bug you with your computer too. Screw it, just go to Freenet.

    1. JeffC

      I just changed mine, in firefox on a linux system, to false. Right click on the setting and select “toggle”.

    2. jacob richter

      Government sites also ♥ DOM storage for transactions they can tie to an ID. Enabled by default, of course; nothing in the preferences, of course. About:config is getting to be the tuner for your Orwellian telescreen.

  5. Bates

    “Buffett And Gates’ Giant Charity Give-Away Is A Huge Ego-Trip And A Sign Of America’s ‘Desolate Social System’”

    Krämer: ‘In this case, 40 superwealthy people want to decide what their money will be used for. That runs counter to the democratically legitimate state. In the end the billionaires are indulging in hobbies that might be in the common good, but are very personal.’

    SPIEGEL: ‘Do the donations also have to do with the fact that the idea of state and society is such different one in the United States?’

    Krämer: ‘Yes, one cannot forget that the US has a desolate social system and that alone is reason enough that donations are already a part of everyday life there. But it would have been a greater deed on the part of Mr. Gates or Mr. Buffet if they had given the money to small communities in the US so that they can fulfill public duties.’

    Wiki definition of desolate:

    1.
    a. Devoid of inhabitants; deserted: “streets which were usually so thronged now grown desolate” (Daniel Defoe).
    b. Barren; lifeless: the rocky, desolate surface of the moon.
    2. Rendered unfit for habitation or use: the desolate cities of war-torn Europe.
    3. Dreary; dismal.
    4. Bereft of friends or hope; sad and forlorn. See Synonyms at sad.

    Words are important and I do not think ‘desolate’ was the word Kramer intended to use…perhaps a poor translation from the German. Otherwise, I agree with Kramer’s take on the actions of Gates, Buffet, et al…

    “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
    And she’s buying the stairway to heaven.
    When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
    With a word she can get what she came for.
    Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying the stairway to heaven.

    There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
    ‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
    In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird who sings,
    Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.
    Ooh, it makes me wonder,
    Ooh, it makes me wonder.”

    Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven”

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Re: Words are important and I do not think ‘desolate’ was the word Kramer intended to use

      I don’t know if it was or wasn’t but if you apply the definitions you post to our “political life” and “public spaces” the word fits very well.

    2. NOTaREALmerican

      I’ve only talking with a few peasants about this topic, but – to the ones that I did – there was great enthusiasm for this. The assumption was that the private foundations would direct the funds in a more sensible manner than if the money was taken as taxes.

      We all know that if this money was controlled by the politicians it would just be wasted on “those people” and public employee’s unions.

  6. EmilianoZ

    2 interesting pieces:

    1) Craig Venter’s interview in Der Spiegel.
    He explains why we learned so little from the human genome and, more importantly, how with his artificial organisms he’s gonna save us all. In a joint-venture with Exxon he’s striving to make some bacteria that will take CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into fuel. Gosh, what a relief! Forget about all this Kyoto nonsense, I always knew science would solve all our problems. CO2 will soon be history, party like it’s 1989!
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,709174,00.html

    2) James Surowiecki about the richman’s tax:
    He argues that it makes no sense to apply the same tax rate to someone who makes 200k and someone who makes 200 million a year. Even between the rich there are huge disparities. Progressive taxation is needed among our beloved plutocrats. He’s probably right.
    http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2010/08/16/100816ta_talk_surowiecki

  7. Stephen V.

    For more about the Food Price Bubble (including info. about a certain vampire squid) see:
    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/7/16/the_food_bubble_how_wall_street

    And to support Yves’ intuition about the giving of the uber-rich (yesterday’s post), this was controversial at the time:
    http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/charity-begins-at-home–by-teresa-odendahl-7802

    –an anthropologist looks at the Non-Profit sector and found–surprise!–self-interest holds sway. Ain’t no trickle down.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How do you run a non-profit if you don’t make a profit to pay the workers?

      Interests from your endowment are profits, you know.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Japan: A Nation of Lost Youths…regarding hikikomori, or acute social withdrawl, and foreever shutting oneself in a room, the glass half full view is that there will be many great Zen masters from Japan in the near future.

    One puzzling point though – if the youths of Japan see little value in long years of study and are more interested in foreign travel, why are they necessarily ‘lost?’ Lost to whom, or more accurately, to what – the Machine, the System?

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Giraffes!

    They have their heads in the clouds and yet, their feet are firmly planted on solid ground, like me.

  10. kevinearick

    Quantum Closets

    So, relativity is all about circuit diversification. A unique circuit gets built and put in the closet. As the closet fills, the pieces necessary to prefab a bridge become available. As gaps are bridged, intuition for to-be bridges grows accordingly.

    The dc empire seeks a byproduct of scarcity, recursively run through it load, creating massive inertia. When the time comes to install the bridge, there is no time. It’s always a psychological problem associated with breeding. Agency seeks to breed out that which is exceptional, concentrating it.

    Einstein didn’t invent anything. He popularized a bridge construction built out of other people’s closets, which had been there for centuries. The system has now been accelerated to the point where individuals may use their own pieces, once the dc bus recognizes the absence of troubleshooters.

    The trick of course is to build the destination abutment beyond the knowledge of the dc bus, which isn’t difficult, because its psychology ensures that it can only see itself. Let it build a spur to nowhere. Once the spur breaks off, build out the piece that bridges the gap.

    Mass is a function of force, time & speed (/a). It’s real and it’s not real. Relativity is the only thing attaching the spring to the “wall.” You know where the mass is going; design the necessary/unique spring. Once the catapult releases, complete the circuit to equilibrium. Jump orbits. The hardest part is watching all the slow-motion silliness, and not so silly outcomes, going on in the dc bus.

    If you have a closet full of tools, you are always at the right place, at the right time, to complete the bridge, at a speed beyond the knowledge of the brick wall. During leveraging, the brake is shorted to the accelerator; during deleveraging, the accelerator is shorted to the brake, which forms the enclosed dc loop, the black hole into fascism.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The billionaires got their wealth, most of the time, supplying products/services choosen by consumers in a free market system.

    A good way of handling charity money would be to leave it to peolpe of the world to decide, rather to a few billionaires. I guess it’s an issue of control. True giving would be to hand over the money unconditionally and let people vote on how to use it for bettering our world.

    Better yet, just charge less for your products/services so you don’t make so much and don’t have so much to give away – but that’s not so ego-satisfying, is it?

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The first step in regulating the volatile food markets is to make organic food the default food.

    And if you like to supply non-organic food, you have to get government permission.

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