Sorry for the thinness of my own posts. I could give you yet another litany of woes, but I think that has gotten old. So let us leave it at I wish it were otherwise. And there has been a big uptick in reader donations in the last few weeks, and I am also behind on thank-yous, so please be patient!
Nazi-Acquired Buddha Statue Came From Space LiveScience (Lambert)
Scientists: No to Genetically Modified Crops, Yes to Paradigm Shift Common Dreams (Aquifer)
Rent-to-own PCs surreptitiously captured users’ most intimate moments ars techica (Carol B)
Valve hardware hacker makes DIY see-through rocket engine ExtremeTech (Carol B)
Download, print, fire: gun rights initiative harnesses 3D technology Guardian (Aquifer). Ooh, literally a killer app.
Mid-plate earthquake a product of tension between India, Australia ars techica (Carol B)
Honey Boo Boo: Dwarf Tossing for the Reality Show Age Helaine Olen, Forbes
Spain’s crisis flares again as AAA club scuppers bank rescue deal Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph
Europe gets that crisis feeling again Financial Times. OK, three weeks ago pretty much everyone was hailing Draghi as having fixed the crisis for good, or at least buying a lot of breathing room, depending on what the commentator’s take on the ability of Eurocrats to move towards putting a fiscal union and common bank regulatory apparatus in place. By contrast, we wrote:
So while Draghi may have achieved what many commentators see as a firm defense, what he has constructed is the economic equivalent of a Maginot line. While it could be an effective bulwark against financial market attacks, it remains vulnerable to political and legal outflanking.
Horrifying, Graphic Video of Iranian Leader Savagely Abusing Jews George Washington
Condemning ourselves to the Eureopean doom loop MacroBusiness
South African Platinum Miners Win Pay Raise Real News Network (Aquifer)
Ralph Nader: President Obama’s a ‘war criminal’ Politico (Jim Haywood)
Wall Street Places Its Election Bets Harpers (Lee S)
Paul Ryan vs. The Stench Politico (furzy mouse)
These Folks are Soooo Clever . . . New Economic Perspectives
Fed action triggers fear of new currency wars Financial Times. Ahem, this comes days after what Ambrose Evans Pritchard called Japan’s QE8.
Bill would place parks at the whim of pols Philly.com (Lambert). The new enclosure movement.
Labor Income Dropped Off the Cliff Starting in 2000 Dave Dayen, Firedoglake (Carol B)
Deploying Shock Troops Against Blog Posts Barry Ritholtz
Quadrillion Dollar Derivatives Market 20 Times Global GDP Real News Network. The problem with focusing on the notional is the numbers are completely nuts. What is a bigger tell is even the economic exposure #s are so large that (as we’ve discussed) there is not enough impeccable collateral around for counterparties. And that’s been a problem for quite a while. Why the authorities sit on their hands on this is beyond me.
Beyond Wall St., Curbs on High-Speed Trades Proceed New York Times (furzy mouse)
Venture firms see signs of rebirth in life sciences Reuters (Aquifer). The difference between biotech and high tech is how long it takes you to find out you’ve lost all your money.
THE LIE FACTORY New Yorker (Lee S)
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Mission elapsed time: T + 20 and counting*
Politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex. — Frank Zappa
AZ. Tucson: “[Progressive Democrats of America] Tucson has sponsored or partnered with others to support public events related to the People’s Budget 1,2,3 (as opposed to the military-industrial complex’s budget), union busting, single payer healthcare, public banking, open primaries, clean elections and the end of Citizens’ United, job creation by promoting local business, the Robin Hood Tax, corporate personhood, the Occupy movement, immigration reform and the end of SB1070, and other Main Street issues.” Single payer — instead of the so-called “public option,” a roach motel for progressive energy — is always a good litmus test for seriousness.
CA. Municipal bankruptcy: “Atwater’s City Council is set to vote Oct. 3 on a fiscal emergency declaration that would permit it to follow other California cities — Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth Lakes — into bankruptcy court. The median household income in 2010 was $42,226, 19 percent below the national average of $51,914. The median household income in 2010 was $42,226, 19 percent below the national average of $51,914. Unemployment surged to 21 percent.” But no bailouts for Atwater!
FL. Voting: “The R Party of FL is dumping [Strategic Allied Consultants of Glen Allen, VA after Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher flagged 106 ‘questionable’ registration applications turned in by the contractor this month. Bucher asked the state attorney’s office to review the applications because she said her staff had questions about similar-looking signatures, missing information and wrong addresses on the forms.” … Foreclosures: “Florida saw a 26 percent increase in foreclosure filings last month compared with August 2011, as banks now past the robosigning crisis have begun to file early stage foreclosure again.” … Voting: “The 73-year-old Caragan, who moved to the United States in 1970 from the Philippines, said when she was living in Norfolk, Va. more than 35 years ago, she renewed her driver’s license and registered to vote at the same time, without realizing it was illegal. ‘Of course we’re going to vote,” [her husband] said. ‘We both have voter registration cards.’” Tactically, the D apparatchik talking point that there were no documented instances of voter fraud (as opposed to election fraud) was always dumb, because in a country this size there will always be a few examples of literally anything.
GA. Tinpot tyrants: “”I was upset, so, I was like, you know, I told you that it was covered under food stamps, you know, so, there was no need for all of this, you know, and [the Kroger Manager] said, ‘Well excuse me that I work for a living and don’t rely on food stamps like you,’ [Cindy] Nerger said. Nerger spends 12 hours on dialysis every day. She’s been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for five years. She’s the caregiver for the grandmother who raised her.” Rule #1…
IN. Fracking: “A billion-dollar nitrogen fertilizer facility is proposed for Spencer County. The new ammonia plant for OVR will be the first entirely new facility of its type to be constructed in America by a U.S.-based firm in more than a quarter-century. The project is made economically viable by a recent decrease in natural gas prices due to domestic shale gas development.”
IL. Youth: “There are 138,000 fewer people signed up to vote in the 18-to-34-year-old group than [Chicago] ended up with four years ago, election officials said:”
MA. Corruption: “Federal indictments yesterday allege that city police officer P.J. Lopez made arrangements with a tow company to have cars he ticketed towed in exchange for a ‘stream of benefits,’ including a $4,000 snow plow.” Second-world problem…
MI. Missing persons: “Police will be taking soil core samples at a home in Roseville on Friday in search of the remains of missing Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.”
MT. Public goods: “The Missoula City Council has been a testament to ['the Problem of Others'] lately, as they consider ways to address what Councilman Bob Jaffe called the ‘hundred-year-old problem’ of owners having to pay for sidewalks in front of their properties. Those sidewalks belong to the city, but Missoula law requires owners to pay for their installation and repair.”
NY. Ladies of negotiable affection: “Anna Gristina today pleaded guilty to a single count of promoting prostitution in exchange for six months in prison. Prosecutor Linehan told [the Judge] they were unable to find any evidence to substantiate Gristina’s claims that she had protection from law enforcement [incroyable!]. Her plea deprives New York of a trial offering a rare glimpse into what the DA’s Office described as a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring catering to some of the richest men in the world.” And we had such expectations….
PA. Fracking: “Analysis from a Penn State researcher shows natural gas drilling has generated more than $160 million in royalties for landowners in Bradford County alone. Of course, the royalties slow down when drilling slows down, and Bradford’s extraction rate have dipped as natural gas prices have plummeted. ‘As gas prices were heading toward a 10-year low in April, Chesapeake began reinterpreting in its favor thousands of contracts [Bloomberg]‘.” … Fracking: “Sunoco Inc and private equity firm Carlyle Group LP reached a deal to save and expand [Philadelphia Energy Solutions] the largest U.S. East Coast refinery, capitalizing on the nation’s shale boom. Sunoco will retain a minority stake and Carlyle will be in charge of daily operations. Traders for Wall Street titan JPMorgan Chase & Co will handle crude supplies and fuel sales” (PT) Carlyle Group, eh? Too bad that Iraq play didn’t work out so well. But now that Jippy Mo is involved, what could go wrong? … Fracking: “Sunoco announced Wednesday that its shuttered Marcus Hook refinery will be reborn as a facility to process Marcellus Shale natural-gas products, fueling new construction and new traffic through the Delaware River port” (PT). (This is a second Philly refinery.) … Fracking: “Range Resources, based in Fort Worth, TX, says in the release Wednesday that it has signed a 15-year agreement with Sunoco Logistics Partners, L.P. to ship propane and ethane to the former Marcus Hook refinery site, starting in late 2014.” … Fracking: “A tanker carrying 4,600 gallons of fracking wastewater has spilled its load near a storm drain that empties into Pine Creek, a popular fishing spot in Lycoming County.” … Voting: “It’s all about the money. Forget the arguments about voter suppression, this is all about forcing D candidates and the D Party to spend money and time on making sure people have ID” [slaps forehead].
TX. Handmaid’s Tale: “As a result of the funding cuts, 53 out of 240 clinics that have received public funding to provide family planning have closed, and 38 have reduced service hours, according to the report. In addition, the report states, many clinics are now charging for services that were previously free, raising prices for other services and restricting access to more effective methods of contraception that are more expensive.”
VA. Police state: “Delma Towler [(83)] dialed 911 to report a burglary but when police arrived, one officer killed her outside her home in Altavista.” This keeps happening: NC 2012-0925; NC 08-18-2012;
WA. Curation: “Seattle artist Hjylimar Hinn has now made 20 “braille docents” for King Tut. Visitors who don’t see can instead run their fingers over the ‘maps,’ gaining a different sort of understanding.”
WI. Mining: “Stephen Donohue, of the Wisconsin Mining Association, said the state doesn’t need to relax environmental standards to draw in mining investment However, vague and difficult to interpret regulations need to go including the so-called ‘moratorium’ on issuing permits for mining sulfide ore bodies and rules on storing waste rock tailings.” That moratorium doesn’t sound vague to me…
Fracking. NOTE: I’ve been filing tracking stories under individual states because there seemed to be few truly national stories. Now there are starting to be. … Water: “The industry reports we are working with only tell us what [volume of water] industry says it has used, and that only when they have filed a Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Product Component Information Disclosure. [I]n PA only 54 percent of wells had filed such a disclosure. There is a lack of complete data to work with because some states either do not require disclose, or they have not strictly enforced any such regulations.” … Leaser’s remorse: “47% of respondents in the ‘new shale’ states of PA and NY, who have rented out their land, said they wouldn’t repeat the experience. Meanwhile, 48 per cent said they would advise family and friends against leasing their land for ‘fracking’, a process which blasts sand, chemicals and water into shale rocks to release the oil and gasthey contain.” Money isn’t everything.
Outside baseball. Bill Moyers: Submit questions for Live Chat October 1. … Education: “[In his CBS interview (here) Obama] lauded the idea of merit pay, paying teachers more if the test scores of their students go up (and firing them if they don’t). No one has told him that it failed in Nashville in 2010, it failed in New York City in 2010, it failed in Chicago last year. Yet his administration has allocated $1 billion for more merit pay. Why doesn’t someone tell him?” If only the Czar knew? … Education: “Someone needs to launch an investigation into what combination of crimes, dares, alcoholic binges and lapses in judgment got Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal into [Won’t Back Down,] a set of right-wing anti-union talking points disguised (with very limited success) as a mainstream motion-picture-type product.” …. Police state: “Yeah, I wanted to find out how to file a complaint against an officer. I just want to find out how you do it. Do you guys have a form or something that I could take with me” (video). … Fourth Amendment: “My own sense is that, given the Supreme Court’s systematic gutting of the Fourth Amendment in recent decades, SCOTUS will probably say [in Missouri v. McNeely that] warrantless blood draws are constitutional.” … More guns, please: “The US Constitution guaranteed white men, the only citizens at the time, the right to own guns so they could be drafted into slave patrols and militias to steal land from local natives.” Original intent!
Robama vs. Obomney. Rove vs. Carville: “In an hour-long exchange [at the state Chamber of Business and Industry annual dinner] that drifted into both wonky disagreement and unintelligibly Cajun-accented verbal jousting, the top political aide to George W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s chief political strategist had the crowd laughing repeatedly.” So who was the joke on?
The trail. In the bag: Indicator. (Readers, more like this?) So, don’t throw away your vote on a legacy party. Vote for an emergent party for better choices in 2016! … Polls: “Survey after survey of key swing states, including the two crucial contests in OH and FL, continue to show [Obama] pulling slowly but surely ahead of Romney. So much so, that Obama’s campaign is apparently urging its staff to avoid overconfidence. ‘If we have to issue horse blinders to everyone on our campaign staff, we will,’ [the president's campaign press secretary, Jen Psaki] explained. … Swing state Keynesianism: “Putting a finer point on the matter, one longtime Ohio GOP strategist called Obama’s advantage on the auto bailout ‘a kick in the balls’ for the Romney campaign.”
Libertarian Party. Gary Johnson: “Jesse Ventura has made a campaign ad for Gary Johnson. Ventura asks viewers to telephone the Commission on Presidential Debates and request more inclusive invitations” (video).
Green Party. Jobs guarantee: “At its peak, the WPA employed over 3 million men and women who would’ve otherwise been jobless. The idea was that taxpayers should get something out of helping the unemployed. The Green Party’s Stein has a similar suggestion, and comments: ‘If you don’t have work, you’d go to an employment office, not an unemployment office, and you’d get a job, not sit home, depressed, with a check.’ (Aquifer). Strange times when Instapundit cites to FDR (“When I hike in the Smokies, it’s often on trails that were built by the CCC — and of course [!!] we’re still using many of the buildings and bridges that the WPA built. “) and The Greatest Orator Of Our Time can’t mention FDR without immediately adding a Reagan-esque qualifier.
The Romney. Message, I care: “Campaigning in OH on Wednesday, Romney told NBC News that he understands Americans’ lives and the challenges they face. In citing the MA health care law, he said, ‘Don’t forget, I got everybody in my state insured.’ While Romney has vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare, he has not offered specifics for replacement legislation.” First, health insurance isn’t health care. Second, only Obama could turn passing RomneyCare into a winner, and only Romney could turn passing ObamaCare into a loser. … Message, I care: “[ROMNEY: I’ve been across the country. My heart aches for the people I’ve seen. There are so many people in our country that are hurting right now. I want to help them. I know what it takes to get an economy going again and creating jobs.” On the principle of maximum tragedy, suppose that he does care, but doesn’t know. Unlike Obama, who does know, and doesn’t care. … Message, I care: “[ROMNEY: You can be extraordinarily eloquent and describe all the wonderful things you can do. But when you cut through the words, you can look at the record. And when you can see policies that have not created jobs America needs, then you know it’s time to choose a new leader.” Well, “then” seems a little iffy. … Point shaving: “[ROMNEY: Frankly at this early stage, polls go up, polls go down.” As Goddard points out, the election is 41 days away. If Romney is really this clueless, how many other $250 squillionaires are just like him? Interesting thought. … Parsing: “Presidential elections are decided in the first-person plural and the second person. Anyone operating in the third person is in trouble.” Good post. … Losing the political class: “When Roger Simon wrote in Politico Wednesday that Paul Ryan’s new nickname for Mitt Romney is ‘Stench,’ a number of news outlets — from MSNBC to Mediaite — took it seriously.” Well, I quoted the Nooners riff without comment. Granted, it’s hard to tell what’s satire and what’s not, any more.
The Obama. OFA: “Anyways, Barry caught me at a particularly sensitive moment. I miss you guys and have him call me if you can…we just need to talk some stuff through. I hope the dinner goes well. Again, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it. I’m just not feeling ready yet.” … Razor thin margin: “But when one of the candidates is Mitt Romney, the race shouldn’t be close. You’ll hear differently in the coming weeks from the news media, which will spend a lot of time scratching its figurative beard while it argues that a 54-46 split, or however this thing ends up (and they’ll call anything above 53% for Obama a rout, I would guess), is evidence that the system is broken. But what we probably should be wondering is why it was ever close at all” (Matt Taibbi).
* Slogan of the day: Carry out The Obama’s behests and carry the middle class incrementalist cause through to the end!
NOTE Hat tip for Zappa epigraph to RdG.
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Antidote du jour: