Links 3/30/12

Brain nerves line up neatly Nature (hat tip Lambert)

Dine just like the passengers of the doomed Titanic for $12,000 Tecca

In Canada, the Lowly Penny’s Time to Shine Nears an End New York Times. One of the many things I liked about Australia is that they had gotten rid of the penny long ago.

Audit Finds Apple Supplier Violates Chinese Work Rules Wall Street Journal. So much for the tech defenders who took up the Foxconn line that it wasn’t making workers do illegally (and health-endangering) long hours, despite quite a few anecdotal reports to the contrary. A factory is not set up to have oppressive work conditions be an isolated experience.

But Apple has its distraction ready: Apple Labor Plan to Ripple Through China Factories Reuters. No mention of the audit, instead we get a smilely faced story. Reader nathan notes:

This seems like a complete and utter public relations plant. do we have any alternative information? Or a written copy of this supposed “labor plan”?

Spain’s general strike shows first signs of rebellion against austerity Guardian (hat tip Lambert)

Spanish general strike: Notes from the margins RedPepper (hat tip Lambert)

Police remove David Cameron ‘wanker’ poster Guardian and Goddamned Limey Pantywaist Cops Patriot Boy (hat tip reader John L)

Pasty tax sparks threat of bakers’ march Guardian (hat tip reader John L)

Ireland must vote for an end to its humiliation in Europe Michael O’Sullivan, Financial Times

EU rewards Goldman Sachs for Greek debt scheme Irish Left Review. Aaw, you can call something a “Left Review” outside the US!

Ousted Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed on the Coup that Ousted Him & His Climate Activism Democracy Now (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Grieving survivors describe Afghan massacre CNN (hat tip reader May S)

‘A rescue would have been a piece of cake’: Nato and Euro coastguards slammed for ‘letting 63 Libyan refugees starve to death on boat cast adrift in Mediterranean’ Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

Rousseff attacks west’s crisis response Financial Times (hat tip Joe Costello). The FT has substantially revised the piece to put more emphasis on Brics muscle-flexing and less on the Western screw-ups that helped precipitate it. The current version is: Brics nations threaten IMF funding Financial Times.

UH-OH: Japan’s Industrial Production Unexpectedly Falls, Raising Doubts About Economic Recovery Clusterstock

Islamophobia, Obama, and the Art of Acting Muslim John Feffer, TomDispatch

Obama Shifts View of Executive Power Wall Street Journal

Wrapping Up the Supreme Court Arguments on Obamacare David Dayen, Firedoglake

Republicans Tampered With Court Audio in Obama Attack Ad Bloomberg (hat tip reader Scott)

Is There More to Sen. Snowe’s Resignation Than Congress’s “Crumbling Center”? Truthout (hat tip Lambert). The story never did add up.

NRA Exploits Trayvon Martin Murder by Selling Handgun Hoodies Buzzflash

Update: Tim DeChristopher Is No Longer in Solitary Confinement Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

How much are contractors costing? Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. Quelle surprise! The Army and DHS discussed savings that resulted from “insourcing”.

Bank Of America Sanctioned For Discharge Violation Bankruptcy Law Network (hat tip reader thomas s). More automatic screwing of customers.

Solvay Bank’s Mello named to New York Fed board Syracuse. Reader bob vouches for his bank.

White Collar Watch: Maneuvering for an Immunity Deal New York Times

MF Global: Forbes Sums It Up Well, And My Take, ‘Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here’ Jesse (hat tip reader Michael C)

The nation-state still matters Occupy Oakland Media (hat tip Lambert)

Is Loaning Money at a 350% APR Evil? Bob Lawless, Credit Slips

Thomas Frank: How Americans Have Gotten Played — Over and Over and Over Again Alternet

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader furzy mouse):

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  1. bmeisen

    Re Frank’s “How Americans have …”

    The French Revolution got started I believe with military adventures in faraway lands that drained the treasury, regressive taxation that delighted the rich and tortured the poor, the refusal of the Assembly of Notables to reform a system from which they benefitted handsomely, and the king himself letting the cat out of the bag by calling an Estates General. IN short it wasn’t an evil foreigner invading and toppling a government.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      The Assembly of Notables wasn’t exactly against reform. It was just that Calonne (the Controller-General of Finances for the previous four years)had made everyone believe that the royal finances were peachy while in fact everything was going down the oubliette. As a result, his credibility was circling the bowl as well when the Notables demanded that he provide the Assembly with some really honest budgetary figures. In other words, it wasn’t the question of fiscal reform as such, but rather the legitimacy of the political establishment that was the real issue.
      BTW, whenever I get to this point in my standard Origins of the French Revolution Lecture some students start wearing some pretty cynical grins. I wonder why.

      1. bmeisen

        The USA has more in common with France than with the UK. Our 1% bear an uncanny resemblance to the Ancien Regime. The Senate compares well with the Assembly of Notables, the Christian right with the debauched French clergy. What could Obama do that would be the equivalent of Louis’ convoking of the Estates General?

        1. Richard Kline

          Adding to your conjecture, bmeisen, the deline of the American legal system matches in the broad sense that of France before the Revolution, even though structurally the situations are different. The law in France was impotent regarding many thigns, and outsourced to self-interested specialists. Government power was exempt from it; most citizens had no access to it without a wealthy patron; the rich could most of the time buy there way out of legal penalties. Sound familiar?

          US society has worked because the legal system has largely worked and been seen to be fair (if you weren’t a disliked color). That has ceased to be the case in the last twenty years. Persistent efforts by the 1% to pack the courts and eviscerate administrative law have widely succeeded. The Federal state has grossly expanded ‘security exemptions’ and the like to move more and more, and more important, actions out of public view and legal review. Carte blance incarceration now exists in the US (witness Jose Padilla and numbers of Arab and Muslim individuals snatched domestically and elsewhere). We’re not to the level where if you’re an average joe or poor you can’t get justice, but we’re headed there if the 1% and the government they’ve bought get all of their way.

          Something to bear in mind . . . .

          1. bmeisen

            Many thanks Richard. On my way to Paris, reading Doyle’s Oxford History of the French Revolution.

          2. Richard Kline

            My winter reading was Parker’s, _The Dutch Revolt_, a readable if surprisingly anti-Dutch history of the first modern revolution. No historian calls it a revolution, and nobody on either side went looking for one, but that was the only way out for those wanting not to get killed by repression. Instructive when compared to numerous later examples.

    2. Susan the other

      I liked Thomas Frank’s editorial too. I’m hoping for mass magic. A threshold of denial will soon be breached and that will be the end. It will not come with shooting and shouting; it will come with a heavy calm. America is far stronger and more resilient than a crappy, starving little feudal kingdom. No guillotines, but maybe a lot of obscene gestures. I hope to see everyone actually coming to their senses and turning to local economies to survive and thrive.

      1. John L

        I like local economies, living as I choose to on an island in the pacific northwest, but as pointed out in the Nation State link, cities like LA are reliant on a lot of infrastructure for basic needs like water brought from a long way away. A local economy there wouldn’t work. What to do about unsustainable but TBTF cities? Interested in your thoughts.

      2. F. Beard

        …and turning to local economies to survive and thrive. STO

        So just because banking is inherently crooked the US must devolve into local communities? How does that follow?

          1. F. Beard

            I did not say that. I just don’t see why civilization must devolve just because we have not yet figured out how to do money ethically.

            It’s not like a solar storm has destroyed the electric grid and destroyed modern communications.

        1. Glenn Condell

          ‘So just because banking is inherently crooked the US must devolve into local communities? How does that follow?’

          The wish/need for a re-establishment of local community strength exists independently of corrupt banking but certainly Wall Street and its global diaspora are making an increasingly important contribution to shifting this particular ‘Overton window’ closer to the centre.

          Crooked banking is as much symptom as cause, and it’s only one of the multiple drivers for re-localisation. It’s a matter of the safe carrying capacity of the planet generally and communities in particular. There are already too many of us for the platform we have and trends indicate further overshoot in store. Peak population.

          Peak oil/energy means, unless renewables can scale up far more effectively, that our energy usage simply must decline. Reliance on insecure, under-funded central ‘grid’ infrastructure may become foolhardy when local self-sufficiency is possible. It’s just prudent; use what the centre can provide, and provide for what it can’t.

          Governments at all levels are losing the economic power to shape positive change, along with the ability to act independently of predatory elites. The consequence of their being unable to provide sufficient political goods (food, security, employment, health, education… and hope) is the loss of the legitimacy they require to fulfil their role. Vicious circle that, leading to ‘peak government’.

          Related to this is ‘peak leadership’ – again both symptom and cause (these things all affect each other, George Soros ‘reflexivity’-style) Any leader with the potential to draw the future away from the grasp of the power elites will, if not susceptible to being bought ( a big ‘if’) be eliminated one way or another, but it may be we just don’t have the calibre of FDR or Eisenhower in our ranks any more. Same result, we’re led by wolves and wolves in sheep’s clothing, taking it in turns.

          Then there is ‘peak complexity’, the singularity of ‘progress’ past which each expansion of centralised complexity, while perhaps making this or that function cheaper or more ‘efficient’ is at a macro level weakening the robustness, the resilience of the whole. More efficient, less redundant; less redundant, more brittle. Global JIT systems for the supply of essentials only the most obvious example, but even more important is the shockingly fast erosion of basic food-growing and other survival skills in a couple of generations. Most of us have no Plan B and the lack of any movement toward this in our democracy is one index of its failure, of how pointless our myopically and relentlessly ‘Plan A’ politics have become. Politicians are ‘Head Lemmings’, all the way up to ‘Lemming-in-Chief’ (when they’re not being wolves of course).

          Our mad drive to an ever more complex but ever more centrally driven society has been achieved without the inclusion of community let alone individuals. It is elite-driven and they are the principal beneficiaries. The rest of us for all our accoutrements live far less genuinely secure lives than our grandparents, who probably had a plot of land and knew how to grow things on it, and the small matter of a planet full of unextracted oil. But then, they also had as a rule at least one politician to choose from who would genuinely do THEIR bidding rather than the banks’. And if one region overshot their bolt and fell into the mire it didn’t lead to every other community doing the same, because they were Other Communities, not simply expendable nodes in one great big unstable one, as we are.

          The music has stopped and we are in the process of having the few chairs taken by the 1%, all safely under the aegis of the Law and Economics governance they have installed for the purpose. We will probably never go back to the pre-modern village community set-up, but we need to create strategies for living which utilise the strength we can find within the ‘trust horizon’ limited by the outer edge of our acquaintance (‘Dunbar’s number’) – virtually as well as in person, provided global internet communications exist into the future.

          We no longer trust our institutions of authority; they are either incompetent or corrupt, or both. The sheer size of our community now means that the people running it are further from our concerns than they’ve ever been. We’ve all got our eggs in the same basket, and the weave is starting to fray. Time to fashion some smaller baskets of our own to cushion the fall, should the big basket break.

          1. citizendave

            Glenn Condell, thank you for writing. I like this – I printed it and I’m going to keep it in front of me for awhile.

            I intend to learn how to enrich the soil, among other things.

          2. skippy

            Well said sir… well said.

            Skippy… will copy and send comment to friends, with your name of course.

      3. Richard Kline

        Not to spoil the sporting chance of reform, but I put my money on public denial for rather longer than you suggest. Most of the public just doesn’t want to know and have their deflector shields set on high. I’d say we are more likely to get change due to gross-overreaction by the authorities to determined challenge from a committed minority—because that is usually how the tipping point flips. Corrupt authority becomes so inured to the Big Lie and creating their own reality that it is _they_ who hurtle past the unrecoverable brink rather than public reaction which shifts. In most revolutionary change, the bulk of the public simply wails as hard as possible for things to go back to how they were. The public doesn’t secede to local, it is left to jury-rig local to keep running when the center throws a rod.

        Denial is the last thing to give way, as a rule; sad to say.

  2. Richard Kline

    The ‘offficial story’ on the complex massacre at Belembit in Afghanistan simply doesn’t add up. I have no real idea regarding the truth, and conspiracies aren’t my beat. The material facts simply do not support a single shooter, and it is very difficult to even conceive how the one person in custody could have physically even _reached_ the multiple sites of fatalities in the timeframe described. Multiple witnesses describe a group involved. The sites were kilometeres from the base—in opposite directions. The supposed lone gunman returned to his base in the middle of the night, and was found nearby in less time than it would have taken him to even reach and return from the second site. The putative lone gunman was on foot: he couldn’t possibly have even reach both sites in the timeframe without transport.

    The decision to whisk the putative gunman out of the country instantly and to ‘begin the investigation’ halfway around the world from the crimes does not suggest a will to unravel any of that. On the surface of what is admittedly ill-reported, it looks like the guy in custody was a low-level screw-up, in country only weeks, who was recruited/dragooned into a group retaliation atrocity and bugged out in the middle because he couldn’t go through with it. Of course since he may well have already murdered several individuals he’s in no good position to fess up. He wasn’t found at the site of any crime; it was nighttime and no actual witness has positively identified him as present; he may be hoping to skate. . . . So what about the rest, if there are indeed others??

    The US military knows not just what I know but far more. That they stand silent shouts something much bigger here—we are quite likely looking at the Afghani equivalent of My Lai IN FACT. Having that known would so devestating for functional occupying army-Afghani relations that a cover-up isn’t hard to imagine; a cover-up is hard _not_ to imagine. Don’t expect this issue to vanish. There seems far more and far, far worse to this story than has been reported so far. Oh and I might add, the blank disinterest in this story by major US media is the final on the medical certificate of their relevancy’s demise. If one can’t see a major story in this one isn’t in the news business but the PR business, at best.

    1. Ray Duray

      Dear Richard,

      Thank you so much for your research and trenchant analysis of the Belembit Incident. I have been following this story since the first, and no other analysis comes close to the clarity of your observations and intuitions.

      Several aspects of this story never rang true. The effort by the Army to hide the accused’s name was certainly odd. The fact that this financially strapped sargent was able to retain one of the more effective civilian criminal defense attorneys for a UCMJ proceeding was also substantially weird.

      As you say, this story has legs, though it would appear at every turn the brasshats intend to cut them off.

      I can well imagine the boys in the back rooms at the Pentagon talking up this one as the Belembit Gambit, or ‘how we snookered the public, yet again’.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Great analysis. It doesn’t add up. This is a cover up by the media and military, at least.

      There is no way this is all the action of one lone gunman–especially if one includes the cover up.

      Which does indeed make this a ‘conspiracy.’

      No need to be ashamed that you use logic to figure out the single shooter theory is the theory that lacks evidence.

      It’s those that refuse to accept this is a conspiracy that are engaging in magical and foolish logic.

      The implications are so severe that well-meaning people would rather ignore the evidence of conspiracy in front of them and instead believe the fantastic propaganda of a mad lone gunman.

    3. Susan the other

      Why did it happen? Gotta think one possibility is that somebody (?) wants us to stay in Afghanistan for a very long time. One or two more obscene mass murders like this and there will be a backlash that can be used as an excuse for us to stay there to “keep the peace” or some other excuse.

      1. Richard Kline

        So Susan, I’m not sure I’d say this is a deliberate thing at all. As far as I can parse it, the seeming cover-up is after the face of a local incident.

        This looks very like a local squad or unit went on a retaliatory rampage after one too many (for them) mine explosions. There was mention in early reportage that locals were _told_ that there would be retaliation shortly before the incidenta—and not by the guy incarcerated. Many locals recall multiple vehicles and people standing around at night while individuals went into dwellings and shot people. It would appear that significant numbers of those shot were intentionally shot in their legs; knee-capped in the parlance. For chilrenor women hit with high caliber bullets, that can easily be fatal, via bleeding out from a shattered limb. For those shocked that so many were children . . . they shouldn’t be. The area of the incident is profoundly hostile to the occupation. Many in the US don’t get it that a significant share of these anti-personell mines are planted _by local children_: they are the ones who can move around, and are also harder to spot, while the mines are not technologically sophisticated to deploy. But occupation soldiers understand very well that they are taking steady casualties in part due to ‘noncomabatant’ actions.

        The Belembit is exactly what soldier vigilantism looks like in every war you care to looke at. If this was a spree-killing, one would expect far more adults to be killed, or the shooter to have gone to a single place with lots of targets like a market. But it doesn’t play like that. Instead, we have a few, specific locations ‘home invaded’ and children specifically targeted. This smells of a group action where soldiers went renegade nuts. It happens everywhere that soldiers are kept in contact with enduring insurgency: they set out to ‘get even,’ ‘one of ours, lots of yours.’ _Not_ the act of a madman per se.

        Oh and the guy in Leavenworth; man the dude’s a convenient fall guy for the chain of command. He’s a screw-up, and damaged. Eleven years in and he’s only a staff sergeant? He was denied promotion before they shipped him out, too; likely not the first time. He was in-country a few weeks, but he was a sniper by training. I suspect he got dragooned into a kill-squad on a ‘do it or we do you’ basis, and like I said bugged out in the middle. The military needed to charge somebody in a hurry to look like they’re doing something, and he was handy. But I’ll bet they have a hard time making those seventeen charges stick because the investigation so far looks to be looking everywhere but at the scene of the crime.

        1. Procopius

          Richard, I find your analysis interesting and plausible. A couple of minor points — the numbers 38 and 11. 38 years old is fairly old to be a grunt. When I was on active duty (thirty+ years ago) lots of guys were about to retire at that age. The fact that he enlisted at the age of 27 suggests he might have been having trouble finding a career. On the other hand, being a Staff Sergeant with 11 years time in service suggests he’s a reasonably competent NCO, and in the Infantry that demands a lot. I haven’t seen reported how much time in grade he has, so we don’t know from that whether he was alteady at his level of incompetence or not.

          As to the mention of “the kids” as agents planting mines and such, that’s BS but some soldiers do believe it, especially the younger, less experienced ones. I remember that in Vietnam, at My Lai, Lt. Calley was supposed to have flipped because so many of his men were being killed or maimed by booby traps and he blamed the “civilians” in his area of operations. Unknown to him at the time, his division had taken over the area from the Korean Army (Marines?), who had planted the mines and booby traps to hinder VC movement and who were not asked for maps when they moved out. Lots of kids in Vietnam were blown away because of that myth.

          In this case I could well believe that this guy, a “straight-leg” (not paratroop trained) in Army slang, could have been picked as a scapegoat to cover for another night raid gone wrong, to protect the reputation of the so-called “elite special operations forces,” maybe being led by a couple of ring-knockers who have connections and are slated for bigger commands in the future. On the other hand, a fourth combat tour in ten years? I could well believe he could flip out and kill 16 people if the problem of distance traveled can be explained.

    4. Lee

      “I’m just a patsy…”Who would believe him anyway?

      A disgraced stockbroker being sought for financial crimes joins the Army and rapidly ascends through the ranks and now has this impossible crime pinned on him.

      Naah, it’s too fantastic…must just be a series of coincidences like 9/11.

    5. Glenn Condell

      ‘The ‘official story’ on the complex massacre at Belembit in Afghanistan simply doesn’t add up… The material facts simply do not support a single shooter, and it is very difficult to even conceive how the one person in custody could have physically even _reached_ the multiple sites of fatalities in the timeframe described… Multiple witnesses describe a group involved. … The decision to whisk the putative gunman out of the country instantly … There seems far more and far, far worse to this story than has been reported so far. Oh and I might add, the blank disinterest in this story by major US media is the final on the medical certificate of their relevancy’s demise…

      Change Belembit to Dallas and you could be talking about the Warren Commission Richard. Though Oswald (and for that matter Ruby) were ‘whisked’, like Osama, out of this life rather than the country.

  3. dearieme

    We lived in penny-free NZ for a while: the round-up/round-down system worked well. But could the US muster the reserves of common sense necessary to adopt the system? Alternatively, if someone could work out a variant that enriched Goldman Sachs, no doubt it would be adopted in a jiffy.

    1. JTFaraday

      “Social science can do little, if anything, to help resolve the structural tensions and contradictions underlying the economic and social disorders of the day. What it can do, however, is bring them to light and identify the historical continuities in which present crises can be fully understood.

      It also can—and must—point out the drama of democratic states being turned into debt-collecting agencies on behalf of a global oligarchy of investors, compared to which C. Wright Mills’s ‘power elite’ appears a shining example of liberal pluralism. [22]

      More than ever, economic power seems today to have become political power, while citizens appear to be almost entirely stripped of their democratic defences and their capacity to impress upon the political economy interests and demands that are incommensurable with those of capital owners.

      In fact, looking back at the democratic-capitalist crisis sequence since the 1970s, there seems a real possibility of a new, if temporary, settlement of social conflict in advanced capitalism, this time entirely in favour of the propertied classes now firmly entrenched in their politically unassailable stronghold, the international financial industry.”

      It certainly was a neat trick to take a self-inflicted crisis in the financial sector and transform it into a crisis in the public financing of “First World” governments, a trick that Simon Johnson laid out in advance in that infamous Atlantic article early on in the process:

      Politically speaking, what does it take to reverse this? Can we “educate” our way out of it, or is it going to take another crisis here at ground zero in the US, in which– perhaps– the political enablers of the financial sector finally decide too much is too much? (Or does that just make it worse?)

    1. Uncle Sam's scalp

      Occupy Oakland is certainly right that the state matters, but nation-states are subject to abuse. An awful lot of our problems result from the state masquerading as the nation. Threats and embarrassments to the state get twisted into matters of national survival or national honor. Like on 9/11, the police state got caught napping by a couple dozen pencil-necked grad students armed with office supplies, who humiliated the authorities with an ingenious one-time stunt. When these guys made fools of the authorities, the state’s response was to pretend the survival of the nation was at stake. Bullshit.

      Same with Manning and Assange. They expose state crime and the state calls their actions national security threats. Bullshit. Manning and Assange are threats to state prestige.

      National security is bullshit. Under current international norms, what matters is human security, and that’s practically the opposite.

      1. gordon

        I don’t disagree, but I’m struck by how much your comment resembles something that could have been said by any orator at the Palais Royal in July ’89. The Nation isn’t the Government.

  4. Jim3981

    Is There More to Sen. Snowe’s Resignation Than Congress’s “Crumbling Center”?

    Maybe Snowe was targeted for elimination then? This kind of stuff never comes out on the people selected to stay in power.

    1. JTFaraday

      No, her husband got caught using a bad business model, which effectively eliminated her:

      “her husband is knee-deep in controversy over an educational for-profit college chain know as Educational Management Corporation or Wall Street ticker (EDMC)…

      The for-profit educational retail chain has been sued by the Justice Department and eleven states, based on allegations that the firm falsely reported to government officials that it was not basing recruiter salaries on incentives, which is an illegal ploy the for-profits have used to increase enrollment. The government alleges that they did use incentive pay for recruiters.”

    1. dSquib

      Wonderful. Hope it’s more than a seasonal blip.

      When CNN still refers to its Iraq war coverage as “first rate” you have to ponder the possibility that rather than being in denial they are going by different criteria than someone who might be concerned with “journalism”.

      I don’t care if CNN gives slots to Glenn Greenwald, Yves, Julian Assange or goddamn Gore Vidal tomorrow. CNN is not a reformable institution no matter the laboured and depressing attempts of various watchdog groups like “Media Matters”. The only sensible solution is to stop watching and let it die.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Good news indeed. CNN is engaging in the outright creation of fake news in Syria in order to foment war.

      In fact, it’s much worse.

      CNN’s correspondents, including Arwa Darmon, are accused of engaging in terrorism, or at least accompanying terrorists as they blew up an oil pipeline in Syria and issuing false war propaganda blaming the Syrian government. The propaganda films were later released to the media and youtube.

      The terrorists trained their camera at a pipeline, then left the building and hours later the pipeline exploded. Arwa Damon and the CNN crew were on the scene of the blast and later could be heard on the pre-arranged camera that caught the terrorist act live, as people returned to retrieve the camera.

      Of course this information has been disappeared from Western eyes. CNN issued a blanket denial without addressing the particulars, as they attempted to do the last time they got caught passing along fake war propaganda (the whole “Danny” the activist scandal). Fox News and the other “competitors” are also remaining silent about CNN’s apparent complicity in terrorism and war propaganda.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Even though this information has been out there for almost a week I have refrained from commenting on this explosive (no pun intended) story because I knew the number of fucks given would be about zero.

        Our media is now outright engaging in terrorism and false war propaganda, getting caught, and we’re continuing on like nothing happened.

        Ladies and gentlemen . . . this is a huge blaring warning signal going off. The fascists are on the march. CNN and the majority of the Western media are nothing but spooks and hacks. They are actually taking part in terrorism, killing innocent people, and then airing propaganda blaming it on others!

        We wake up and stop this now or this is our future. We are Syria next. Maybe not this year. But soon.

  5. Jim Haygood

    From the Wikipedia entry on Tim DeChristopher:

    In November 2009 DeChristopher’s defense team claimed a necessity defense. Federal prosecutors and U.S. District Judge Dee Benson prohibited the defense, precluding DeChristopher from presenting evidence that might have supported his argument for necessity defense. DeChristopher and his attorneys were also forbidden to inform the jury that the lease auction was deemed unlawful, that DeChristopher had raised sufficient funds for an initial payment to the BLM (which the BLM refused to accept), or that DeChristopher’s motives were grounded in moral convictions related to climate change.

    In the bygone days when trials rather than plea bargains were the rule, the defendant and his attorney would craft a story to present to the jury. The story might or might not be sufficiently factual and exculpatory to justify acquittal. But no one questioned the right of a defendant facing serious charges to present his case, however inadequate.

    Now federal criminal courts simply censor the defense, confining them either to extremely narrow defenses ‘permitted’ in the federal statute, or to silence. As a result, DeChristopher’s jury was left with the false and misleading impression that he was simply a fraudster, trying to scam a lease auction for personal gain.

    In a similar federal court travesty, Ed Rosenthal was convicted of cannabis cultivation, after being censored from telling the jury that he was duly authorized by the City of Oakland to grow medical cannabis under California law. The duped jury, believing that Rosenthal was just a run-of-the-mill narco-trafficker, was outraged upon discovering post-trial that the federal judge and federal prosecutor had deliberately deceived them by gagging the defense.

    Any resemblance between federal criminal courts and the pursuit of truth is an unintended coincidence. They are conviction machines, pure and simple. As in the former Soviet Union, arrest is tantamount to conviction, since presenting an effective defense is not allowed. And it’s ‘ALL LEGAL’ …

  6. Johnson

    I like the penny. I will miss it in Canada. Hope it will not happen in the United States.

    1. Maximilien

      See where wealth redistribution/socialism gets a society? Come the fall, every single Canadian will be penniless.

    1. Glenn Condell

      Why does everybody have to include a hasty disclaimer about mot liking George Galloway before linking to yet another story about yet another of his boat-rocking, establishment-embarrassing triumphs?

      I love the bloke. His demolition of Norm Coleman and Christopher Hitchens one memorable morning a few years ago, standing up straight-backed in the viper’s den, will live long in the memory. He is a welcome throwback; the diametric opposite of you blow-dried Romneys and Obamas, or Blairs and Clintons. He is one of the very few pollies in the world who you could plausibly imagine uttering FDR’s ‘I welcome their hatred’, and meaning it.

      ‘Galloway climbed on top of a grey car and was handed a megaphone to preach to the assembled faithful. “All praise to Allah!” he yelled, to jubilant cries of “Allah Allah!” And on it went. “Long live Iraq! Long live Palestine!”‘

      ‘Using a metaphor he employed repeatedly during the campaign, he said: “If a backside could have three cheeks then they [the main parties] are the three cheeks of the same backside. They support the same things, the same wars, the same neoliberal policies to make the poor poorer for the crimes of the rich people. And they are not believable. Nobody believes what they say. Whether people agree with me or not, I have all of my life said the same things. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. I think people are looking for political leaders like that.”‘

      Magic stuff.

      1. Procopius

        It’s coming back to me now. I reflexively think I dislike George Galloway because many years ago I read Hitchens’s diatribes against the man, before I realized how much I disliked Hitchens. Really, I know I’m not supposed to say it, but I am glad I won’t ever have to choose not to read something by Hitchens again.

  7. Goin' South

    Those damned Spanish and their diversity of tactics. I expect to see a Chris Hedges’ diatribe against them in the next day or two.

    Funny how this obsession with playing nice seems confined to ‘Murca, and in particular, the “progressives” who would like to do for the Occupy movement what they’ve done for (to?) the Left more generally.

    1. RanDomino

      I think I’ve figured it out. Africans can shoot each other willy-nilly and no one bats an eye. Egyptians and Arabs can use anything up to but not including guns. Spanish, Greeks, and Italians can use violence but should not kill anyone. Aryans have to be total pacifists. Is it just a coincidence that this perfectly mirrors the Eugenicist taxonomy?

      1. Lee

        Yes, and the Black Panthers and ther Zapatistas are cheered on in their armed rebellion but when the first White man picks up a gun and shoots…well, you can fill in the rest.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      Yep, and right now U.S. progressives are supporting the “freedom fighters” of Syria who are engaging in terrorism and acts of war at the behest of Western powers. They will cheer on the deaths of tens of thousands and the destruction of an advanced society.

      These supposed Syrian “activists”, who we are led to believe started out carrying protest signs but only now took up small arms (ha, ha, ha–on all counts), have killed over 2,000 Syrian government forces!

      How many U.S. police died in the Occupy protests? Did any of them even get a scratch?

      And progressives wring their hands about tactics as they support a massive armed attack on a government. Also, terrorist acts and sabotage. In the U.S. there was huge outrage a few broken windows that were quickly repaired, in Homs, their main oil refinery was blown up by “activists” (with CNN right there with the terrorists), and U.S. progressives even seem to be secretly supporting these activities via Avaaz.

      It’s just too incredible to believe. So no one does. Big Lies work.

      1. aet

        “Conservatives” telling us what “liberals” think; Israelis telling us what ‘the mullahs of Iran” think; and now you, telling us what progressives think….

        I don’t believe ANYBODY when they tell me what OTHER people think.

        How the hell would they know? And why should I believe what they say their opponents think?

        Better if people just say what they themselves think about something, and not express their version of what they think others think. Not express bullshit, in other words.

        If I want to know what anybody else is thinking, I’ll ask that person directly and NOT depend on what some other person thinks that person may think – and especially not to depend on the avowed opponents and enemies of the person or people whose thoughts I wish to know to “inform” me as to those matters.

        Why would I ask somebody, who openly holds another in contempt, about that other person? To join in and revel in their expression of hatred for the other?

        In other words, if you are not a progressive yourself, and proud to be one, don’t tell me “what progressives think” about things.

        How the hell would you know?

        It’s better not to put words in others’ mouths, and not to listen to those who do. Let people speak for themselves, if they have something to say, and if you want to hear what they – rather than some other people – have to say.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          You are aware that Avaaz has specifically told us what they think? You are aware that Michael Moore, Chris Hedges, Angry Arab, and a whole host of other “progressives” have told us what they think. Avaaz and Move On have told us what they think. They are giving money to terrorists in Syria to commit crimes.

          This is not me making shit up about “progressives”.

          Since I struck a nerve let me guess . . . you also support the murder of children and innocent civilians in Syria. Right?

          Have you given money to Move On or Avaaz? If so, then you are indeed a warmongering progressive.

  8. rich

    MF Global Customer & Fund Manager on JP Morgan and the Goldman Connection
    Yesterday, the MF Global collapse took center stage on Capitol Hill. The threat of crony capitalism and the sanctity of customer money in US markets hangs in the balance. The unprecedented disappearance, loss, and theft of customer money (1.6 billion dollars worth of customer money to be exact) kept in segregated accounts remains unexplained. And as MF Global executives yesterday — legal counsel, CFO, and assistant treasurer — came to answer questions, what did their answers reveal? Not much unfortunately. General Counsel of MF Global Laurie Ferber, Chief Financial Officer Henri Steenkamp, and Christine Serwinski, former chief financial officer of the company’s brokerage unit, all seem to know nothing! In fact, listening to the testimony, you would think that this firm ran on autopilot.

  9. Bill C

    RE: govt “insourcing”:

    I’m now convinced that the whole point of Federal “outsourcing” was not cost cutting, but control, in that it’s much easier to control someone who is dependent on annual contract renewal, than to control career govt bureaucrats, many of whom, in spite of all the bad press, know their jobs thoroughly, and who cannot be removed but for good reasons.

    BTW, you guessed it, I’m a retired one of “them.”

    1. James Sterling

      In many countries it’s an end run around labor laws. If you employ workers, you can’t fire them for no reason, but if you have a contract with a service provider, you can cancel that contract. The service provider is then allowed by law to lay off its workers because “there’s no job for you any more”. So just by putting that extra layer of management in, you can hire and fire workers whichever way the winds of commercial advantage blow, like you used to.

      1. aet

        Newly-privatized “profits” for provision of what was once Government services get recycled to pay for political campaigns.

        A kind of slush fund, with the public once again paying election expenses in a round-about way. Only now, less for public-sector-employee friendly politicos, which a portion of public spending, after going into public-service wages, were donated to – but now more for “lower-business-taxes” politicos, where a portion of public spending, after transforming into business “profits” on privatized activities, now get donated to.

        Those same election expenses, that keep the media corps running as advertising revenues every few years, like clockwork.

        Either way, the public pays for everything it gets.

        Sometimes it also pays for stuff it doesn’t get. That’s when the problems arise.

  10. Up the Ante

    This federal judge, Judge Glenn, is wearing a Nixon mask,

    “The regulators never should have allowed the holding company to be put in Chapter 11 – debtor in possession – versus Chapter 7. By doing so, Judge Glenn allowed the pirates – the executives who caused the shortfall – to continue to control the ship until Freeh was appointed Trustee for the holding company a month later. ”

    SEC as ‘the Company’, plumbing.

    “.. all the elements of a system gone wrong. White collar criminality, privileged elites, the double standard of law, secretive proceedings, craven media, posturing Congressmen, non-involved Justice Department, seizure of private property, compromised regulators, and a culture of fraud and deceit that serves the monied interests above all else, ..”

    Seizure of private property in the service of such fraud. Judge Glenn is Richard Nixon, committing frauds upon the people.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      There very well could be funny business going on in the bankruptcy, but choosing chapter 11 over a 7 is not suspicious. In fact, a business cannot get a discharge like a person can so there is no point proceeding under a 7.

      And I don’t see why a judge would steer a business from chapter 11 to 7.

      Unless I’m majorly wrong here . . .

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      McKenna is shooting at the wrong target. I can’t imagine a judge refusing a BK filing of a company that had collapsed. He can’t demand they use a different form of filing.

      And with two regulators involved, the judge would have gotten a staggering amount of grief (and his action would likely have been subject to an emergency appeal and overturned). You pretty much never liquidate big companies (a Ch. 7 BK is a liquidation); the last one I can think of was Interco, and that was a Ch. 11 where the financing collapsed late in the game. He’d have no reason to question a Ch. 11 and no way to know that the filing would favor JPM over customers (this is a matter of fact, judges don’t decide facts ex via an actual trial).

      For the SEC, the choice of form of BK didn’t matter; the customers of the broker/dealer would come out fine. It DID matter for the customers of the commodities broker, and here Gary Gensler approved the use of Ch. 11, which would favor JP M over customers (a Ch. 7 would have done the reverse) as his last act before he recused himself.

      1. Up the Ante

        “I can’t imagine a judge refusing a BK filing of a company that had collapsed. He can’t demand they use a different form of filing. ”

        Can the judge reverse his decision? Are we to believe these regulators can paint his path for him? Little wonder, if so, Rakoff mentioned rubberstamping.

        We’ve seen discussion here before on the SEC’s role of delivering decisions to the courts.

        What again was Gensler’s reason for recusing himeself?

        1. Up the Ante

          “Shelby then asked Gensler why he recused himself from investigating MF Global.

          Gensler replied that when the investigation of MF Global turned from a company investigation to an enforcement matter that focused on his former boss at Goldman Sachs, Jon Corzine, MF Global’s CEO, CFTC attorneys “didn’t see a reason” why he should continue. “I didn’t want my participation to be a distraction” to the investigation, Gensler said.

          After hearing Gensler’s explanation, Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., told Gensler that “your non-participation makes no sense to me.” Why, he asked “would you be a distraction” to the investigation? ..

          Shelby has asked the CFTC’s inspector general to examine the CFTC’s oversight and regulation of MF Global, and to determine whether Gensler’s recusal was “appropriate” and whether Gensler “should have recused himself much earlier in the process.” In the absence of a committee investigation, Shelby said, “the IG’s examination will help determine whether MF Global received special consideration by the CFTC.” ”

          Open theft of customer money, blocking of their ability to recoup it, and the excuse is it “vaporized”. Hardly credible.

        2. aet

          A Judge, having rendered her decision, cannot rescind it.
          It stands until overturned or modified upon an appeal to a higher court.

          Also, a judge must ALWAYS decide according to the law.

          They have much less general discretion than many seem to think that they do, in how they must decide the questions and cases brought before them.

          That is to say, that prisoners are not the only people who may find themselves in chains in a Court of Law. The Judge is “chained” as well: enchained by her duty to the law, to decide according to the law.

          1. aet

            If the parties to a lawsuit are of sound mind, and otherwise not under some disability ( like being either a child or an actual factual mental defective, somebody whose interests must be protected by the Court, as they are incapable of protecting it themselves) it is NEVER the Court’s job to “second-guess” the disputants, if they decide to settle their differences.

            In such a case, the proper role for a Court is indeed and in fact to be no more or less than an actual “rubber stamp” – serving to legally formalize the agreement reached between the contesting parties to settle the matter, and to give the agreed settlement the force of an enforceable legal command, a “law”, as to these particular parties, in this particular case.

            Why shouldn’t it be?

            Would you rather the Court stepped up with an edifying lecture of a moral nature at the end of every commercial litigation settled by the agreement of the parties?

            Or perhaps there should be a “scale of justice”, from one to ten, with the Judge opining publicly as to where the settlement would appear on that scale, as she signs the Consent Order – as she must do – requested by the parties before her?

          2. Up the Ante

            “If the parties to a lawsuit are of sound mind, and otherwise not under some disability ..”

            Gensler indicated he may have that disability you referred to aet, Shelby asking if he should have stepped aside sooner.
            This rubberstamping is the current spectacle, should it be present with a “non-involved Justice Dept.” as per jesse.

            Captured regulators, perhaps, but ‘captured Justice’?

        3. Walter Wit Man

          The judge already reversed it.

          The debtor and its creditors jointly asked the judge to appoint a trustee just short of a month after they filed, if I’m not mistaken:

          The former FBI Director was appointed:

          Criticizing the fairness of the bankruptcy procedures is fair game. I too wish journalists would look into it a bit more and start asking harder questions.

    3. Walter Wit Man

      But the debtor in possession critique is valid.

      It sounds like the financing fell through for the DIP but one would think the financing would be beside the point. Under these circumstances shouldn’t an independent trustee be appointed right away to look over the officers’ and managers’ shoulders?

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Yes aet. Trustees are usually “independent” of other parties. This is a normal bankruptcy procedure.

          When one files for BK under Ch. 7, for instance, the estate comes under the control of a trustee and the individual debtor no longer has control over his estate (technically–even though it doesn’t work this way in practice).

          In this case, for instance, the debtor (the holding company) and the creditors jointly asked the court to appoint a trustee.

        2. Walter Wit Man


          You really need to ask that question?

          There are allegations of fraud and other improprieties here. This is probably why the corp couldn’t get DIP financing unless there was a trustee appointed.

          The judge should have (arguably) insisted upon a trustee from the beginning.

          Also, the officers and directors may have been worried about liability so it was probably in their interest to have a trustee appointed.

          1. Up the Ante

            The fact that aet asked such a question is a giveaway in that it is a reversal of all the allegations known at this point.

            aet’s later comment, “In such a case, the proper role for a Court is indeed and in fact to be no more or less than an actual “rubber stamp” ..” leads us to believe aet thinks the fraud allegations are subordinate to “rubberstamping”.

    1. JTFaraday

      “These psychological side-effects of Too-Big-To-Fail can’t be measured, but they’re too important to ignore,” Rosenbaum writes. “People disillusioned with capitalism aren’t as eager to engage in productive activities. They’re likely to approach economic decisions with suspicion and cynicism, shying away from the risk-taking that drives entrepreneurial capitalism.”

      Ya think?!!

      One concludes entrepreneurial activity is just not what the Big Boyz want.

  11. Brent Musburger Jr. (news anchor)

    Breaking News! This Just In!

    In an interview with NY Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks on CNN last night, Wolf Blitzer asked David if he thought Kourtney Kardashian’s baby bump had been Photoshopped out of recent swim suit pictures.

    Brooks announced that, for the moment, *all* NY Times investigative journalists were working on puppy stories, including one related to NDAA, a story that asks what will happen to puppies if NDAA is used to detain their owners indefinitely without trial…..

    So while Brooks wasn’t up one the Photoshop/baby bump issue he *had* noticed Kourtney seems to have lightened her hair.

    David Brooks: “Wolf, Kourtney is known for her dark, practically black hair, but now it’s sporting a fresh glossy brown color that appeared shades lighter with several light brown highlights dispersed throughout. Have your people noticed this?

    Wolf Blitzer (visibly shaken by the reference to NDAA, perhaps aware that CNN had failed to report on this just as they’d failed to report on the impossibility of a crazed lone gunman committing the Afghan massacre or the near 100 percent certainty that Jon Corzine had stolen $1.6 billion from customer accounts) persisted nevertheless:

    “David, are you ready for this — CNN has learned the news that by taking a pregnancy test five weeks before, it means Kourtney was about three months pregnant at the time the Kardashian Kollection swimwear pic was taken! Do you think the photo was altered?”

    Story developing…..

    1. Backyard BBQ Chef

      Doggies do the darndest things sometimes and I’m glad that journalists have picked up on that.

      I can relate some pretty funny antics Fiesty, our little Pekingese,does to entertain my troop of Backyard BBQers.

      I always buy an extra handful of burger for Fiesty because, just like the rest of us humans, he really likes the stuff. He prefers it cold and raw of course and the first time I offered him some a couple years ago he sort of cautiously sniffed it, took a tiny gulp, then decided it was good stuff and wolfed down the rest.

      Fiesty is a little cautious about eating human food ever since little Tabetha decided to transfer a wad of taffy from her mouth to Fiesty’s mouth. Fiesty wouldn’t play with Tabetha for weeks after that one. Then there was the time little Billy fed Fiesty his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There is almost nothing funnier than watching a Pekingese change it’s mind about eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m still kicking myself for not catching that with the moviecam and posting it on uTube but Fiesty refuses to fall for that again.

      But something odd happened a while back during one of our family BBQ get togethers. Fiesty was jumping up and down all around the grill as usual, doing that cute begging thing he does where he balances on his hind legs and waves his little paws at me, yipping like crazy the whole time.

      So I wad up a ball of fresh burger and hand it to him. Much to my surprise he didn’t gulp it down like always but batted it to the ground instead and started humping it same as he does to granmas’ leg whenever she wears that pink polyester pant suit she likes so much.

      Back then I thought maybe it was just a phase Fiesty was going thru, and granma did look a little relieved, but now that I’ve been reading about that burger additive I’m wondering if maybe it’s the burger that changed and not Fiesty?

      Just thought I’d mention that in case anyone else had any cute pet stories to relate?

      1. Arthur S. Brisbane IV (NY Times public editor)

        Is there any chance you might be detained under NDAA so the Times could run a story on Feisty along with their upcoming multimedia story on what happens to puppies when the owner is indefinitely detained under NDAA?

        What Jill [Abramson] would like to do is capture Feisty’s antics on you tube at one of these BBQ get togethers *before* you were detained under NDAA, and then contrast this with a you tube of Feisty’s behavior *after* your indefinite detention.

        Please email Jill at jill dot abramson dot nytimes dot com.

        1. Backyard BBQ Chef

          “Is there any chance you might be detained under NDAA”

          Most definitely believe so.

          But you are welcome to cut and past the post and use my name, Backyard BBQ Chef, or Anonymous works too.

          Fiesty is probably safe.

      2. Arthur S. Brisbane IV (NY Times public editor)

        PS – Just got a call from Jill. She’s heard from Washington and they asked that we not mention NDAA in our story.

        Now…don’t get me wrong, we’re not backing down or compromising, we have our journalism ethics and standards to uphold, and we’re still running with the puppy story, it’s just that we have to do it without reference to NDAA.

        Now it will have to be hinted at, as in two sad looking puppies wrapped in a blanket gaze dolefully outside as a blizzard rages, leaving it for our subscribers to conclude that the puppies’owner probably got detained under NDAA:

          1. Backyard BBQ Chef

            Besides it’s just me and Fiesty vs. Jill and Scooter.

            Even Fiesty knows he can’t run with the big doggies.

    1. dSquib

      “Gruenspecht and a panel of other experts also downplayed the role of speculative trading in the oil markets–an issue that Democrats increasingly point to as a cause for crude-oil price spikes. Gruenspecht said it was unclear whether profit-driven oil traders were pushing up prices, while Barclays Capital Managing Director Paul Horsnell said they played no role at all.

      The idea that speculative traders are making oil more expensive is a “minority view,” Horsnell said. “And I think it’s an incorrect view based on faulty analysis.””

      The testimony is suspect enough for this reason, but it’s nice to have someone tell Democrats the obvious about sanctions, as they are keener to blame it all on the Republican candidates’ saber rattling. (Obama’s sabre rattling is A-OK though.)

    2. Hugh

      This is the standard BS. Crisis du jour plus China using more gas plus refinery problem somewhere = higher gasoline prices. China and its energy usage scarcely appeared yesterday and can hardly account for what is happening to gas prices now. There is nothing acute going on with Iran and there is almost always something going on somewhere in the supply chain often with very little effect on price.

      Let’s look at this in turn. US gas consumption is the lowest its been in 16 years. Oil futures have been over $90 since last November and over $100 for the last 7 weeks.

      So does any of this scan? This is the umpteenth speculative binge we have seen in the last 5 years. We get a couple of them a year. I know our elites are going to deliver up the same arguments everytime there is one because they is what they always do, but we all should, by now, just take it for the BS it is.

  12. ScottS

    VISA and MasterCard are alerting banks across the country about a recent major breach at a U.S.-based credit card processor. Sources in the financial sector are calling the breach “massive,” and say it may involve more than 10 million compromised card numbers.

    MasterCard, VISA Warn of Processor Breach

  13. Walter Wit Man

    The Guardian has been exposed as yet another Western media source publishing war propaganda.

    The paper published fake emails, allegedly from Syria’s Assad:

    These perps aren’t even bothering to do a good job faking evidence anymore. They are relying on the sheer volume of their propaganda to drown out the truth. They’re are shoveling the shit so fast they can’t stop to look where they’re throwing it.

    1. ginnie nyc

      Walter, I’m afraid you’re right about the Guardian. Their political analysis is blatantly craven; I’ve given up reading it. They’re nothing better than a ‘luvvies’ rag, obsessed with media meta-analysis, fashion and entertainment commentary.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        No. I think it may be associated with a Syrian media outfight, or it may just be a Syrian citizen.

        But it doesn’t matter. Even the Syrian gov. sources have proved to be way more reliable than Western state media, like the NYTimes and the Guardian. If you read Robert Mackey’s pompous posts in “The Lede” on this subject, he misses the irony when he calls sources like RT and Press TV “state controlled.” In fact, didn’t the NYTimes withhold publishing a story on the massive illegal spying on citizens by the government at government request? Sounds like state controlled to me. Once you did into it you would be shocked at the amount of lies that the New York Times, the Guardian, CNN, and indeed, the whole Western media is telling about Syria.

        Anyway, the above source, as with the Syria Truth Network on youtube, and other similar Syrian sources, have simply proved themselves by presenting better evidence. Plus, like here, they are not reporting first hand facts that we need to take their word for–they are mostly using logic to analyze the known facts.

        Why would Assad use hotmail? It’s ridiculous. Plus, as they point out, the anchor that quit Al Jazeera was simply too convenient of a patsy. They did this with other people they didn’t like as well (see Angry Arab for some disinformation on this). The emails as a whole are not credible. Just like many other hoaxes involving Syria (and Libya).

        There is a major media scandal going on right now–we just aren’t being told the story in the U.S. Look into the claims of people that are quitting Al Jazeera, or the claims from Sharmine Narwani about Huffintgon Post. CNN correspondents are accused of engaging in terrorism and reporting false war propaganda!

  14. F. Beard

    I see Steve Keen has applied more correction to Paul Krugman at .

    I am so amazed that many economists have neglected the role of banking in the economy that I suspect a conspiracy – from Hell. How else can such blindness be explained?

    1. dSquib

      I have heard *some* conservatives and libertarians in the past say, in effect, given that the U.S. government is already heavily involved in health care and pours more public money into it than any other state, why not just go for the most efficient and cheapest solution?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Milton Friedman came out in favor of a negative income tax for similar reasons.

      1. F. Beard

        A negative income tax is good. We shouldn’t have to wait till robots are doing 99% of the work to realize that.

        1. wunsacon

          Beard, so many rich people want to maintain their relative privilege — and they’re supported by so many useful idiots — that it’s going to take a complete collapse of the labor market for the dummies to catch on.

  15. Walter Wit Man

    At “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It” the news 100 years ago is that the suffragettes are debating tactics.

    A woman that recently spent time in jail claims it’s time to move from smashing windows to boycotting goods, like hats.

    It’s interesting to see so many women used property destruction as a tactic to get the vote back then. They obviously gathered some sympathy. The use of the tactic was controversial though, as one can see by reading the Times over a hundred years ago.

    I don’t know enough of this history to be able to analyze the merits of the relative tactics, although it would be interesting to pursue.

    1. lambert strether

      Walter, as you know very well, and choose to ignore, it’s a question of likely outcomes. Life is like that a lot, you know. You examine history, and work out the percentages. That’s one of the things that strategy is all about. As opposed to, ya know, snark or a constant diet of violence advocacy. Just saying.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Uh, I’m pretty sure I wrote that I don’t have enough information to know which tactics worked in getting women the vote. I would be interested in seeing whether breaking windows worked, or if the other protests were more effective.

        If I had to speculate just from my reading at WIIIAI, I think women were treated differently, like cute children, when they protested back then, so they were able to get away with a bit more militancy than say the socialists or anarchists or communists. It’s pretty interesting how the New York Times journalists insert jokes into suffrage stories–it’s similar to the way journalists often introduce stories on drug legalization with a joke. Maybe the militancy helped inform the public and the politicians to stop taking it as a joke.

          1. Walter Wit Man

            So how are militant suffragists like brownshirts? Isn’t it completely different?

            Didn’t the brownshirts have the backing of the dominant political force whereas women suffragists were relatively disempowered.

          2. John L

            Well they’re not. Brownshirts succeeded at their objectives with violence, suffragettes at theirs with sacrifice. Different people, different objectives, different tactics. Breaking windows is a tactic better suited to persecution than to liberation.

          3. Walter Wit Man

            Well, now you are intentionally misreading history so I don’t think you’re interested in really analyzing the situation honestly.

            You are claiming that suffragettes didn’t use diversity of tactics? They didn’t break windows?

            Nice revisionist history. Surely you know this is demonstrably false. Why do you lie?

            It obviously happened. The article I link to shows a split in the women’s movement–some wanted to be more militant while some wanted to only boycott products, etc.

            We know which side you would be on. You would demand that half your fellow women protesters be arrested for “violence”, and you be appealing to women to appeal to men in a way that didn’t bother men and the ruling elite.

    2. aet

      They won the “battle for the vote”, but they lost the “war for the Equal Rights Amendment”.

      Their task isn’t complete yet.

      Strange that the folks who worked to defeat the ERA in the USA in the 1970s and early 1980s seem to be from the same political groups who now take time to express their condemnation of Islamic people – for denying equal rights to “their” women.

    1. ohmyheck

      Ya,I just listened to a 2-hour interview with Jim Stone on Whistleblower Radio yesterday. Utterly fascinating! I’d link to it, but Anti-Conspiracy Theorists would go bonkers. At least it doesn’t involve aliens. (Not that I have anything against aliens)
      OK, a somebody posted a comment here in the past few days, talking about how every country has spies spying on every other country? That comment is fairly relevant to what Jim Stone was saying.
      I love “rabbitholes”!

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Yeah, he’s got a lot of amazing claims.

        But hey, he’s presenting some interesting facts re Fukushima.

        He’s got a good point about a 9.0 Earthquake. Where’s all the damage before the tsunami?

        1. ohmyheck

          I think he makes plenty of good points. Hopefully someday soon they will be addressed. He did label Fukushima the “9/11” of Japan. He also seems to have a wealth of knowledge and all the right credentials. That was one problem back when Fukushima blew. Everyone was pointing fingers and claiming that this or that person didn’t know enough about the subject to be considered a valid source.

          It pissed me off, frankly. A bunch of first rate Snots, imo.

          1. aet

            Meanwhile, people are being allowed back into towns once evacuated as part of the fukushima evacuation zone.


            And why did the head of the US NRC go in front of Congress and state that Spent fuel Pool #4 was dry, on fire, and spewing radiation, when NONE OF THAT WAS TRUE?

            “The declaration by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko that the spent fuel pool #4 was empty, on fire, and spewing radiation prompted a second message which was that a few thousands Americans in Japan should evacuate to a distance of 50 miles.

            This message created panic among the 200,000 now homeless Japanese who had already responded to their government’s order to evacuate to a distance of 20 km (13 miles).

            It probably took Jaczko about eight seconds to make this part of his statement before a congressional committee on March 16. It will likely be 80 years before the last survivors of the Fukushima evacuation stop remembering it.

            It turned out the spent fuel pool at Fukushima reactor #4 never lost its water, was never on fire, and never a source of radiation releases. However, the Japanese government nearly lost its mind over Jaczko’s precipitous interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign nation.

            There was never any danger from the Unit 4 spent fuel pool. There was never any indication that there was any danger from that pool.”



    2. LucyLulu

      I never made it past the photos (the resolution is amazing, btw, best I’ve seen). But he’s got the photos labelled wrong. The fuel pool in building #3 is diagonally opposite where he has it marked. It’s near the wall adjacent to building #4, up towards the front (sea side). The containment vessel and dome is further back from the front exterior wall. The empty “hole” he points out is an elevator shaft I believe (but definitely NOT where vessel is located, vessel is directly horizontal to fuel pool, with plume of steam coming from each). I’m not sure where he came up with his design plans. The “mangled rods” are most likely steel beams from the roof. Had the contents of reactor vessel #3 been blown out of the vessel, the radiation readings would have been far higher and anybody who attempted to work in the area would have been killed within minutes. There was damage from the earthquake, at minimum to reactor #1, which is why it melted down so much faster than the others, though it was not a 9.0 at Fukushima. IIRC, it was closer to a 7. There was also a significant leak in spent fuel pool 4 which may have been a result of the earthquake though I can’t say for sure. The rods WERE partially uncovered and overheated, though the pool probably did not go completely dry as Jacszko reported (which, along with the wider evacuation of our troops, caused quite the international incident). There were also a couple fires in that building about 5 days after the quake and tsunami though it’s unknown if they were related to the spent fuel pool.

      I would agree however that TEPCO, Japanese regulators, the NRC, and the IAEA were all unreliable sources of information. For one, Japan tried to keep everyone in the dark, not only their citizens but also the foreign experts. Their regulators were more captured than even ours if that’s possible. They also pretty much left TEPCO to fend for themselves to handle the situation, at least initially, nor was TEPCO being forthcoming with them, to the extent that even TEPCO was aware of how much damage had occurred, as conditions had become primitive. For pete’s sake, they were using cables off car batteries in attempts to run instruments to get readings (and just as they’d get it all hooked up, a beam would fall and kill the cable). To save money, most of the workers TEPCO was using at the plant when the tsunami hit were unskilled day workers (temps). The labs in Japan didn’t know how to read the test results for the radionuclides that are found after nuclear accidents.

      I followed the incident closely from the time it happened, and managed to find some out of the way sources, including an American that had been on-site, some ex-nuclear engineering workers and a regulator from an advanced nuclear nation (more advanced than us) that helped me with quite a bit of background knowledge and provided some documents not publicly available. The NRC also has quite a few technical documents available (but a really lousy search engine). I’ve always been kind of a nuclear energy buff. In hindsight, I should have taken notes. I could have written a book.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        Thanks for the comment.

        What are your thought about the magnitude? Do you think it really was 9.0 and wouldn’t there be more damage before the tsunami?

        What do you think about it being a “conspiracy theory?” Is he on to something?

        1. LucyLulu

          I never got into the magnitude of the quake, but it may have been 9.0 at the epicenter. I only recall reading that at Fukushima Daiichi it measured lower, somewhere around 7 as I recall. It’s hard to know there what damage was caused by what because the quake and tsunami were only 30-45 mins apart and the tsunami caused so much devastation. Besides there was an evacuation when the tsunami was known to be coming so there wasn’t time to do any real inspection, though not everybody left or got out. Some time after the accident it came out that some workers were in building one after the quake but before the tsunami and alarms were going off, indicating high radiation readings. I’m trying to remember now, there was so much info, and its been a year, but it seems to me that steam was also noted. In any case, the conclusion was that there had been a breach in the pipes that cool reactor #1 caused by the quake, though officials were denying it (the building was allegedly built to withstand that level of seismic activity, and Japan has primarily nuclear energy for their power). But that is why #1 melted down so much more quickly, due to a loss of cooling accident, or LOCA. By the following morning, there were readings in the community outside the plant indicating radiation had escaped.

          As far as conspiracy, I’m not sure what qualifies. I don’t believe it was a HAARP or nuclear weapons were detonated as this guy is proposing. I think it was accidents caused by Mother Nature. The plants were old, past their original 30 year life span, and had been poorly maintained. In hindsight, the choice to put the backup diesel generators on a subterranean level was a bad one. It left them with 8 hours of AC battery power. The roads were too damaged to bring in more generators and they were too heavy to transport by helicopter. I don’t know why they didn’t use the port. But Japan was mired down dealing with the devastation of the tsunami, entire cities were on fire, thousands of people dead and missing, etc., and TEPCO had mostly been left to fend for itself on an accident of the magnitude that should have been a massive international effort.

          If keeping the public in the dark qualifies as a conspiracy, then it absolutely qualifies. Workers were kept quarantined from the public and knew if they talked, they would never work again. The press was not allowed on the premises or even near. Initially, Japanese pride kept them from accepting help, and also probably a desire to avoid leaks and a panic. They turned away a shipment of robots from customs at the beginning. The US sent in a convoy of experts to help, they flew back home, their help having been refused. They were very concerned about the possibility of Tokyo requiring evacuation. It has 8 million residents, can you imagine??? And it was often day by day assessments, depending upon which way the wind would blow and whether it would rain (rain is bad, brings it all down from clouds). They ultimately got very lucky as the majority of the contamination ended up blowing out over the ocean.

          I haven’t followed lately, but as of last I checked, it was still unclear exactly what happened in reactor #4, the building where the reactor vessel had been emptied to rebuild the shroud, but had the most spent fuel in its pool, and the freshest. There were reports of fuel rods on the ground between reactor 3 and 4, initially believed from pool #4. But then pictures from pool #4 showed minimal damage. Did they come from pool #3 where the big explosion was (and has the pool in the same area)? But I spent a lot of time pursuing the possibility that the containment vessel in #3 had blown its dome (bolts there are weakest area) and came up empty. And like I said, the radiation readings, and the ability of workers to enter the vicinity didn’t support the theory that there had been an explosion inside the reactor vessel itself.

          There doesn’t really need to be a conspiracy theory. The accident is really bad for those who live on Honshu. Cancers from those who were exposed won’t show up for approx. 20 years, but expect to see them. It will likely take 30 years to clean up. The biggest issue is all the contaminated water from keeping the now exposed fuel cool (from melting through and breaching the reactor vessel). A project like this has never been undertaken before and the filtration system they are using was specially designed for Fukushima (and has had many kinks to work out). They need to keep the water from contaminating the ground water as well as limit what ends up in the ocean. I’m not sure what is required now for cooling but at one point it was well over 1000 metric tonnes of water every day. Another problem is corrosion from the sea water that was used. It will probably be 10 years before they can safely remove the fuel that was in the reactors. The 20 km zone will be uninhabitable beyond our lifetime. Much of the farming area outside of that should be able to be reclaimed, often by methods such as planting sunflowers, which can absorb as much as 95% of radioactive cesium, the primary contaminant in the region outside Fukushima, in three weeks (I-131 has a half-life of 8 days and the levels have now fallen to safe ones almost everywhere, in August I read of some isolated problems still). They also can be grown hydroponically on rafts to absorb cesium from contaminated waters. They also absorb strontium-90, another common contaminant, though it hasn’t been found in significant levels in most areas. Last year, a widespread sunflower planting effort was undertaken, with seeds collected to replant this year. The plants are then safely disposed of.

          And that is probably more than anyone ever wanted to know. In terms of conspiracy theories, I’d rate our own testing in the S. Pacific and the Nevada deserts higher on the conspiracy scale. Furthermore, outside of a limited study on military personnel in 1979 that were experiencing unusually high rates of leukemia (with conflicting results), studies on the health effects of this testing was never done until a Congressional order in 1982, and the results weren’t released for another 15 years, in 1997. That study was limited to the effects of I-131, which causes thyroid cancer, the most common radiogenic cancer. It wasn’t until 2006 that a report was released on the broader effects of exposure. What happened with the Castle Bravo testing in the Bikini Atoll however makes for far more horrific reading. Castle Bravo was seriously underestimated in terms of megatons of blast, over 1000 times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and winds shifted unpredictably. There is an 850 mile radius that remains uninhabitable. Cancers and birth defects are seen in high rates on the inhabited islands. Here is an excerpt about the Japanese fishing boat in the area that officially is listed as having experienced one mortality of its 23 crew, but more likely had 11, and the then 11 year old who has broken his silence to talk about the incident.

          1. Walter Wit Man

            Thanks for the info.

            I was shocked to hear Jim Stone’s theory that a nuclear device was detonated in the underwater trench just off the coast, setting off a tsunami.

            It does seem odd that a 9.0 would register at the center but 24 miles away it would only be a 6.0.

            I agree that even without Jim Stone’s allegations there was funny business going on. The governments and companies involved were not forthcoming and seem to have cut corners.

          2. Walter Wit Man

            And at the link above you can see video that shows there is very little damage to buildings before the tsunami was sent. He has a challenge for people to show pictures, etc., that proves there was damage consistent with a 9.0 quake only 24 miles off the coast of Japan. He argues most of the island should have been devastated and this seems convincing to me.

  16. p78

    Labour reforms cannot tackle Spain’s economic crisis.
    The general strike is justified – the government has overlooked the property bubble causing Spain’s problems.

    “First, forget about Greece. Spain’s crisis is caused by a property bubble, not overspending. This is also the main factor behind Spain’s high unemployment rates, since almost a third of the unemployed are construction workers dismissed when the financial crisis brought building to a halt.

    What does a reform of the labour market has to do with it? The answer is: not much, really. Since wages are outrageously low in Spain (the lowest in the UE-15) and unemployment is at a staggering 23%, labour costs and “rigidity” can hardly be the problem we need to fix.

    Why, then, is the Spanish government focusing on this now? I’m afraid it wants to be seen as “doing something” to tackle the crisis, and tinkering with a law is much easier and visible than starting to change Spain’s bricks-and-mortar-addicted economic model. This would take years, if it is possible at all.

    Markets punish countries when they don’t do what they want, but when they do it right, then they don’t really care. It happened last year when the previous Socialist government attempted a milder changes to labour laws (they also wanted to be seen as doing something). The result? An increase in unemployment and a run on our public debt.

    Maybe the problem, in Spain and the EU as a whole, is not whether we have got the right answers, but whether we are asking the right questions.

  17. emptyfull

    I hate to say this, since I’m not looking forward to President Romney, but if the Republicans are looking for a juicy Obama scandal they just need to dig deeply into Corzine and MF Global. They have a chance to find administration “regulators” hiding the bodies for an Ex-Goldman Sachs CEO who was also a Democratic governer. They can frame investigations into this as part of their effort to blame Democrats for Wall Street corruption. It might p.o. the GS boys, but Jamie Dimon might be willing to help out for that reason…. Then the remaining Wall St. boys get the personification of corporate personhood as (Romney) as their new, improved, presidential middleman.

  18. ScottB

    Thanks for the Maldives link, somehow I completely missed the story. Just one more reason why I won’t be voting for Obama in November.

  19. Tony Ornellas

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  20. forex broker finance

    My own shoes got all tied in a knot once I saw the fact that the search term I used to find this post was in fact the actual title for this particular blog post. I really hope the fact that the proprietor associated with this website may enable me to communicate my own serious remorse regarding not clearing off my own shoes and boots prior to coming in. While I actually do have confidence in freedom of speech, I can easily understand whereby a person is going to be required to draw the line at some point.

  21. Regal Assets

    There are definitely a lot of politics at play here. I’d imagine it will all come out in the open at some point and from there we can all finally move forward!

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