Links 8/31/11

Still having to do most of my posting at Starbucks, although the Internet was up at the house this evening. Keep your fingers crossed…

Freedom For Yvonne, Germany’s Runaway Cow: Search Is Called Off NPR (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). The sheep that escaped a slaughterhouse and ran down the FDR some year ago was immediately sent to a petting zoo (in Manhattan, it’s rather hard for a sheep to go missing for very long). Wonder why it took the Germans so long to give her a break.

Friendly Bacteria Cheer Up Anxious Mice Scientific American (hat tip reader Robert M)

Why the U.S. Isn’t Ready for Single Payer Yet Health Care Organizational Ethics (hat tip reader Francois T)

Adult children’s ‘bad mothering’ lawsuit dismissed McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

A Privately Owned Nuclear Weapons Plant in…Kansas City? Mother Jones (hat tip reader May S)

Japan’s life expectancy ‘down to equality and public health measures’ Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Search engine data a useful predictor of stock returns: study PhysOrg (hat tip reader Robert M)

News International appoints lawyers to review papers’ practices Financial Times (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). Looking into The Sun, NOTW etc; but it’s not going to be the most massively independent enquiry ever conducted, is it?

‘Sleeping gas’ thieves target super-rich at Italian billionaires’ resort The Guardian. Or it’s just hangovers; we’ll know for sure if they inadvertently suffocate some plutocrat.

Keith Ewing: The Sound of Silence – Human Rights, the Rule of Law, and the ‘Riots’ UK Constitutional Law Group (hat tip Richard Smith)

Shocking new details of US STD experiments in Guatemala Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Homelessness could spread to middle class, Crisis study warns Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Dick Cheney Shoots Former Colleagues in the Face Technorati Politics

Hurricane funds reignite US budget debate Financial Times

Tax us more, say wealthy Europeans Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Bernie Madoff living in ‘alternate reality’ with no blame for losing $50bn of other people’s money Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

Chart of the Day: Consumer Confidence Ed Harrison

Struggling with a great contraction Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Vince Cable: disingenuous bankers are trying to derail reforms Guardian.

George Osborne and Vince Cable at war over bank reform Independent. The ICB report, on reforming UK banking, is due to be published on 12th September, so this ferrets-in-a-sack wrestling, inside and outside government, is getting more conspicuous.

Grandma Bunks With Jobless Kids as Multigenerational Homes Surge Bloomberg (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Analysts scale back US earnings expectations Financial Times

Exclusive: Bank of America kept AIG legal threat under wraps Reuters

Here’s The Bomb That Might Blow A Hole In Bank Of America… Business Insider. Henry piling on again.

ANDREW BREITBART ATTACKS EXILED EDITOR MARK AMES!…HIRES FAILED TEABAG REPUBLICAN TO INVESTIGATE THE GREAT “WHO IS JOHNNY CHEN?” CONSPIRACY Exiled

The Election March of the Trolls Chris Hedges (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

How the RBA Undervalued Housing Macrobusiness on dubious statistics.

Antidote du jour:

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41 comments

    1. aet

      FRom the report linked above:

      “Twenty-five of the 100 highest paid U.S. CEOs earned more last year than their companies paid in federal income tax, a pay study said on Wednesday.”

  1. attempter

    Re technocratic “ethicist” elites on health care:

    That post is a fraud. It’s true that no sane society would build from scratch what America has – and it’s equally true that no sane society, saddled with what America has, would double down on it in the manner of Obama’s health racket bailout/austerity assault.

    Given the government premise, single payer is obviously the only answer from any moral, rational, or practical point of view. And the people are certainly “ready for it”. They consistently supported the public option idea, and the more they heard about single payer, the more support they evinced for it. (Medicare, of course, is extremely popular, and single payer is simply an extension of it.)

    But in good starve-the-beast fashion, this technocrat implicitly supports the corporate media blackout of SP, and then triumphantly declares, “the people can’t understand it!” on the basis, not of polls or anything, but of one letter written by a professional hack.

    The impression of a good-cop-bad-cop routine is deepened by this inept response:

    “Dr. Metz’s call for single-payer national health care imposes costs on taxpayers rather than directly on those being served.” Note the assumption that shared responsibility for health care is unjust. Would the writer do away with police, fire depart-ments and public education because they “impose costs on taxpayers” rather than “directly on those being served”?

    It’s good to argue the morality, but obviously the first refutation to be made there is the fact that SP doesn’t cost money, it saves money. It’s far less expensive for taxpayers/consumers than the current system. But this version of a common lie pretends that the cost of SP would somehow be piled on top of the astronomical cost of the existing system, rather than replacing it at far less cost. You don’t measure the cost of SP as an alleged tax hike (which wouldn’t even have to take place). You measure it vs. no longer having to pay extortionate rates for worthless “health insurance”.

    But that’s not the way system shills want us to look at it, for obvious reasons.

    BTW, if you really want single payer but sincerely believe Americans aren’t well-educated enough about it, then you should be calling for this educational program, and doing what you can to be such an educator.

    To do the opposite, to write fatalistically, “America’s not ready for single payer and that’s that, it’s Chinatown..”, is to evince a very different agenda.

    1. LeeAnne

      Under single payer, with administration costs of Medicare at 3% compared to the insurance tax extraction of just one private insurer CEO associated with AARP of $700,000,000 is a no-brainer.

      So is Medicare for aging people paid by the public, while insurers cherry pick the most healthy among us -under big O ideas or no Big O.

      Before you give the public/private Infrastructure Bank bullshit coming down the pike a hearing, remember that. Private banking, agents and insurance for social services is a tax on your taxes.

    2. brian

      the reasons we don’t have a public option in the healthcare bill
      spineless Obama
      Blanche Linooln– bye bye
      Max Baucus–check the campaign donations from the cabal
      Ben Nelson–former governor, state insurance commissioners and insurance company excecutive
      Joe Lieberman–the senator from conn. based cigna and aetna

      the votes were there in the house
      the dems sold the public out

      1. LeeAnne

        Brian, I don’t believe that any amount of pressure influenced Obama. I believe he’s totally owned by the people behind the curtain running the country. He was never going to support the people.

        He’s just a mouth. And, furthermore, I believe Obama’s sole motivations are the perks of status where he’ll be numbered among American ‘leaders’ for life, for better or worse; with all its material perks.

        His true character is on full display.

  2. Igor Potemkin

    In Soviet Russia, families live in one room, but no one is homeless. Rich party members have nice life.

    In Modern Britain and U.S., rich party members also have nice life, but everyone else is homeless or sleep in one room.

    1. LeeAnne

      Keep reminding us Igor. Thank you. And thanks to Solzhenitsyn for a look into the hell hole being created in the US.

      There’s nothing like personal experience to help penetrate the psyche; saturated as Americans have been with propaganda from cradle to grave since 50s that’s created a rather dense filter between dream and reality and left us as a society ill equipped to manage the totalitarian aspirations of authorities who, in a so-called democratic system, are intended to serve the people; like any teacher who serves students in the most egalitarian and satisfying way; not like despised underlings with no contractual rights like labor unions.

  3. Jim A.

    The Madoff piece has a misleading headline. He didn’t “lose” $50bn. It’s not that he mad bad, unwise, or even illegal investments. He robbed investors of principal to pay “returns.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I can easily imagine a few absent-minded paleolithic hunter/gatherers who borrowed their neighbors’ arrow heads and proceeded to ‘lose’ them.

        So, yes, you can lose someting you don’t own or have never owned.

          1. Valissa

            “Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.” –Tom Robbins

  4. dom

    Nice article by Ewing, of a kind that would never break the surface here in America. When you hold the UK to its commitments and obligations,

    http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/index.htm#instruments

    it’s painfully obvious that the instability and state violence show that the UK has failed to meet its Responsibility to Protect. When Libya failed like that, its people got bombed and its government got overthrown. Under R2P, the UK government has compromised its sovereignty. It cannot carry out the duties of a state. It’s no longer a competent state, and the international community has a duty to intervene. The UK state needs capacity building assistance and economic pressure to get it under control. But let’s not bomb them yet.

  5. LeeAnne

    ‘Sleeping gas’ thieves target super-rich at Italian billionaires’ resort.Guardian

    There’s a correlation here with Wikileaks -bear with me.

    Tactics and technology controlled by multinational governments can work both ways. Multinationals and governments are mere mortals too.

    You can run. You can even hide. But not if you want to take a vacation.

    Its not a good idea to daily betray the loyalty, beliefs, and standards of life of hundreds of millions of people the world over; particularly those whose identities depend upon fairness, rule-of-law, justice, a decent way of life and upscale possessions.

  6. Don Levit

    What we need is viable competition with commercial insurers.
    We don’t need single payer. What we do need is non-profit insurers who earn their non-profit status by offering distinctive products, and distinctive operations, including advertising and marketing.
    At least, that’s what the IRS code says about such insurers.
    That’s one reason why Blue Cross lost its federal non-profit status in 1986, with the passage of 501(m).
    It had evolved into its for-profit competitors, and was not worthy of any federal tax advantages.
    Don Levit

    1. petridish

      I do not understand this irrational obsession to protect and defend the inclusion of “healthcare” insurance in any discussion of “healthcare” reform in America. Consider this simple algebraic relationship:

      x + y = x

      where x = the cost of all medical care in the country and
      y = the insurance company’s cost of doing business. Make the absolutely absurd assumption that, as we are continually told, all medical needs would be met if every American had an affordable “health” insurance policy. The only way the above equation is true is when y = 0. For any other positive value of y (insurance company costs), the equal sign must be changed to the “greater than” sign.

      This means that supporting the parasitic “healthcare” insurance industry increases the overall cost of “healthcare” in this country by whatever amount the industry demands, whether said company is “non-profit” or not.

      It is worth noting that the business model of these parasites is best summarized as collecting “healthcare” dollars and spending them NOT providing “healthcare.”

      Why in the world is this so incomprhensible?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Consider public schools — by your assumption, they should be cheaper to run than profit-seeking private academies.

        But in practice, absent the check of any effective competition, public schooling is padded with administrative overhead. The property taxes extracted from us to run the schools are eating out our substance, as the Declaration of Independence said.

        Evidently, the effect of competition in forcing business costs to be minimized can compensate for the added cost of paying dividends to owners.

        Otherwise, by your logic, we should all shop at government supermarkets … which would be kind of like standing in line at the motor vehicles agency, wouldn’t it?

        1. petridish

          Rule #1 when answering an essay question: RTFQ (Read the F****n’ Question.)

          “public schools…private academies…GOVERNMENT SUPERMARKETS”–W T F????

          Here’s a plan–Let’s encourage competition among unnecessary, predatory, parasitic corporations and call it a SOLUTION.

          I await your response, and anticipate it will be along the lines of, “Why competition among buggy whip manufacturing job creators will raise GDP, strengthen Social Security and cure the common cold while only adding 300 seasonally adjusted dollars to the median price of the average, mid-range, internal combustion engine powered vehicle.” Fool.

          1. Jim

            Mr. Haywood is right about the public school system. Far too many overpaid bureaucrats who would be making no more than 30K in the private sector, making over 150K in local schools. Awful negative feedback loop with the teachers union (I’m pro private sector union), as they promise pols votes, and pols promise them raises.

  7. Jim Haygood

    From the article about using search frequency to invest:

    Individuals who do online ticker searches are typically less sophisticated, non-institutional investors who are looking to buy stock for reasons that aren’t always well-informed or justified. Thus, ticker searches serve as a valid proxy for “investor sentiment,” a set of beliefs about a stock not necessarily related to its fundamentals.

    The study finds that a portfolio that is long (bullish) on highly searched firms and short (bearish) on less frequently searched companies generates abnormal returns of approximately 7 percent annually.

    This is exactly the opposite of what one would expect. Normally one wants to fade the ‘dumb money,’ not slipstream them!

    It’s not that I disbelieve the result, but I suspect it relies on very short-term time frames.

    Cuz in the long run, it’s axiomatic on Wall Street that the suckers are gonna get fleeced!

  8. Hugh

    That’s a very good rant from Chris Hedges. It’s a good rule of thumb that anyone who tells you to vote for any Democrat or any Republican is a troll. We are way past the point that anyone anywhere can say in good faith that any Democrat or any Republican is worth voting for. With the 2012 campaign already on, the hacks and trolls of the two corporate parties are out in force and they and their arguments are only going to get more incoherent and shrill.

  9. Foppe

    Now here’s a surprise:

    In a decade of frenzied tax-cutting for the rich, the Republican Party just happened to lower tax rates for the poor, as well. Now several of the party’s most prominent presidential candidates and lawmakers want to correct that oversight and raise taxes on the poor and the working class, while protecting the rich, of course.
    These Republican leaders, who think nothing of widening tax loopholes for corporations and multimillion-dollar estates, are offended by the idea that people making less than $40,000 might benefit from the progressive tax code. They are infuriated by the earned income tax credit (the pride of Ronald Reagan), which has become the biggest and most effective antipoverty program by giving working families thousands of dollars a year in tax refunds. They scoff at continuing President Obama’s payroll tax cut, which is tilted toward low- and middle-income workers and expires in December.

    Until fairly recently, Republicans, at least, have been fairly consistent in their position that tax cuts should benefit everyone. Though the Bush tax cuts were primarily for the rich, they did lower rates for almost all taxpayers, providing a veneer of egalitarianism. Then the recession pushed down incomes severely, many below the minimum income tax level, and the stimulus act lowered that level further with new tax cuts. The number of families not paying income tax has risen from about 30 percent before the recession to about half, and, suddenly, Republicans have a new tool to stoke class resentment.

    Representative Michele Bachmann noted recently that 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income tax; all of them, she said, should pay something because they benefit from parks, roads and national security. (Interesting that she acknowledged government has a purpose.) Gov. Rick Perry, in the announcement of his candidacy, said he was dismayed at the “injustice” that nearly half of Americans do not pay income tax. Jon Huntsman Jr., up to now the most reasonable in the Republican presidential field, said not enough Americans pay tax.

    Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and several senators have made similar arguments, variations of the idea expressed earlier by Senator Dan Coats of Indiana that “everyone needs to have some skin in the game.”

    This is factually wrong, economically wrong and morally wrong. First, the facts: a vast majority of Americans have skin in the tax game. Even if they earn too little to qualify for the income tax, they pay payroll taxes (which Republicans want to raise), gasoline excise taxes and state and local taxes. Only 14 percent of households pay neither income nor payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institution. The poorest fifth paid an average of 16.3 percent of income in taxes in 2010.

    1. Jim

      Of course, the management team will argue for more government handouts, this time in the form of a five dollar a gallon gas tax so that their products are competitive!!!!

      As for China eating Solyndra’s lunch, that’s what you get when so many American firms are “forced” to set up shop in that nation if they want access to the market. When was the last time President Obama demanded that any Chinese company wanting to sell to the US consumer had to manufacture in America?

      1. wunsacon

        >>this time in the form of a five dollar a gallon gas tax so that their products are competitive!!!!

        That’s the better way to go. I am not confident government knows enough to try to “pick winners”. But, we universally know fossil fuels are limited and should be conserved in order to stretch their life.

  10. Valissa

    Panel tallies massive waste and fraud in wartime U.S. contracts http://edition.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/08/31/wartime.contracting/

    Only $60B wasted? bwahahahahaha… it’s surely much more than that. Wonder what the various previous versions of the report showed. I can imagine some serious negotiating as to selecting a number large enough to be concerning but not so large as to cause loss of confidence (o, to have been a fly on the wall for that meeting!). But I give the existence of a commission like this a tiny thumb’s up, despite the propaganda, since it’s at least a start in admitting publicly that there is a problem.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Kitty is probably dreaming of tuna right now.

    The part of its brian that normally associates with tuna is probalby lighting up like a Christmas tree.

  12. Mr. Incognito

    Sleeping gas? Is this for real? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work like it does on the Adam West Batman or the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman show. How are people not dying from this like that Russian siege from a few years back?

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