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Links 11/3/12

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America Gone Wild Wall Street Journal

Most U.S. Drones Openly Broadcast Secret Video Feeds Wired

How Do You Spell Extinction Event? 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 2 degrees Centigrade Bill Perdue, Firedoglake

Soaked UK could be set for floods BBC

Golden Dawn: undisguised fascism in Greece Telegraph

Don’t cry for me, François Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Mood darkens as size of UBS  job cuts shocks City Financial Times

Obama’s New Libyan Defense Chief: Bush’s Paul Wolfowitz, on Benghazi Bloomberg (Joe Costello)

Storm porn:

How Victoria’s Secret Saved the National Guard During Hurricane Sandy Wired

Forecasters: New Storm May Hit U.S. East Associated Press

NYC Science Stunned by Sandy The Scientist (riverdaughter)

Goldman Sachs Building Is Bright, but Occupy Shines Truthout (Nikki) and @OccupySandy

Sandy will have a wider effect on growth Financial Times

As Power Is Restored for Some, Others Face Grim Outlook New York Times

Blackout Backlash Builds as Sandy Slow Recovery Drags Out Bloomberg

RULES ARE BENT AS GASOLINE HARD TO GET AFTER SANDY Wall Street Journal. Their all caps, not mine.

Gas Shortage Crippling Sandy Aid From Food Banks And Charities Huffington Post

The costs of Hurricane Sandy: Life satisfaction as an alternative to GDP VoxEU

How do we ‘pay’ for Hurricane Sandy? Marshall Auerback

In New York’s Public Housing, Fear Creeps in With the Dark New York Times

Posting suspended until further notice kottke

Early Voting in Florida Not Extended Despite Long Lines Raw Story

Obama’s Social Security Reform: A Grand Bargain or Betrayal? Real News Network (Aquifer)

Liberals fear grand bargain betrayal if President Obama wins Politico. Fear? If they aren’t expecting it, they are fools.

The Economist on Romney’s Fiscal Policy James Kwak

Who is the worst civil liberties president in US history? Glenn Greenwald

Unemployment, state by state Guardian

The Junk Is Back in Junk Bonds New York Times. The editorial, mind you…

Falling out of love with America Financial Times

* * *

lambert here:

Mission elapsed time: T + 54 and counting*

This fragile earth, our island home. –Episopalian “Star Trek” liturgy

I’m going to devote tonight’s Campaign Countdown to news of Sandy’s impact on NJ (also known to Manhattanites as one of the “Outer Boroughs” or “the near abroad.” The mainstream coverage is what it is; and for whatever reason, there aren’t many bloggers blogging about it; and both #sandy and #Sandy don’t seem to have much — Readers, correct me in comments! I take that as a sign that WiFi and Internet are still down, and that in turn means that conditions are…. Not good, and possibly worse than the (pre-election?) picture that is being painted. On the other hand, I’m perhaps overly bearish. On the third hand, Sandy was a bear of a storm, and clawed New Jersey first and most deeply. 

Let me start by quoting a slab from New Jersey-ite disemployed scientist Riverdaughter, who is blogging, from her “Life in post apocalyptic NJ” series:

So, I was going to talk a little bit about infrastructure. You don’t realize how bad American infrastructure is until you meet a visitor from Germany in the gas line saying, “This is incredible. I can’t believe how bad this is. Four days without electricity and everyone is cold!” Beside the antiquated rail system with its switching system that in the best of times failed on a regular basis (never try to make a matinee in NYC via NJ Transit during a rainstorm) to the levee system that dates back to King George III to the miles and miles of overhead power lines, it looks as if the northeast is in a time warp. I’ve always wondered why the cell service was so bad here. Just think, if the power, broadband and cell had recovered quickly, the frenzy over gas wouldn’t have been so severe. Most of us could have easily worked from home. But since that was impossible and getting paid meant being present, we had millions of people frantic to get to work this week in any way possible. Brooke says she saw the national guard today driving a little convoy of trucks marked “flammable”. I guess it really is that bad. 

These comments from the ground, as Riverdaughter herself points out, connect to Yves’s post yesterday on “The Fragility of Complex Systems.” So herewith some components and relations of this complex system:

Power. Utilities: “More than 1 million business and residential customers were still without power Friday [in NJ]– down from 2.7 million at the peak on Tuesday.” … Generators: “On Thursday, the generator hum outside and in many homes, stores, offices, churches, and other buildings reached such a peak that people sought refuge in vehicles to take phone calls, conduct business meetings, or just to take a break from the din. Some said they were losing their voices trying to shout over the machines.” … Unions: “As for reports that nonunion utility crews are being turned away, [spokesman Ron] Morano said it is not JCP&L. The utility has nonunion outside crews working.” … Unions: “As of Wednesday, about 1,050 out-of-state contractors were working in PSE&G’s service area, she said, including from utility companies in Canada, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Pennsylvania and other states. “I want union guys first, obviously,” [IBEW local president, Chip Gerrity] said. “But with an event like this you want everybody you can get.”

Gas. Gas lines: “Juliana Smith, a full-time student, spent 2-1/2 hours in line to fill two five-gallon containers on Friday, an hour more than on Thursday. ‘It’s psychotic,’ she said. ‘People are angry. We have no power. No heat. We need gas for the generator and our Ford Explorer, which is a monster.’” Psychotic systems, yes. … Gas rationing: “Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order today announcing a state of energy emergency and instituting gas rationing for the purchase of fuel by motorists in 12 counties, starting Saturday at noon. The rationing will take place in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.”

Water. Sewage: “As much as 500 million gallons of raw sewage a day is flowing into Newark Bay after superstorm Sandy disabled the nation’s fifth-largest wastewater treatment plant [on October 29].”

Power <-> Gas. Pipelines: “Superstorm Sandy damaged ports that accept fuel tankers and flooded underground equipment that sends fuel through pipelines. Without power, fuel terminals can’t pump gasoline onto tanker trucks, and gas stations can’t pump fuel into customers’ cars.” … Refineries: “Some of the region’s fuel terminals which offload products from tankers and barges have no power, and at least two important oil refineries in NJ remain idled after the storm flooded the plants this week.” …. Power: “‘There is no gasoline supply shortage,’ said Sal Risalvato of the New Jersey Gasoline-C-Store-Automotive Association. ‘This is a delivery shortage. You get back electricity, and a large part of this goes away.‘ With few gas stations able to sell fuel, lines began to form and panic set it. ‘You’ve got social media and crowd behavior at work,” said Tom Kloza,of Oil Price Information Service. ‘It’s nuts. But people are nuts.’” 

Power <-> Gas <-> Water. Drinking water: “Seventeen of 70 Aqua America facilities in Pennsylvania were still using backup power generators Thursday, said Donna Alston, a spokeswoman for the Bryn Mawr water company. But a new challenge is emerging for some water companies that have kept their systems afloat despite power outages – the fuel needed to operate diesel generators is in short supply in the hardest-hit areas.”

Power <-> Transport <-> Gas. NJ Transit: “About one-fourth of NJ Transit’s cars were in flooded rail yards and are not ready to roll.” So people will drive. Using more gas.

Human <-> Human (empathy). Librarians: “The Twitter accounts for Jefferson County Public Library in Colorado and JCP&L are one character off from each other. The library is at @JCPL while JCP&L is at @JCP_L. The library’s workers tell JCP&L customers that they have the wrong handle and give them the correct one while giving people some reading recommendations.” I [heart] librarians! … Businesspeople: “In addition to [HealthQuest Family Fitness's] showers, [Raritan] community members are welcome to charge batteries, use [the] wireless connection, or just sit in a warm place.” … Retirees: “Like nearly everyone at the site, the Tices said they felt like they had suddenly been thrust into someone else’s life, waiting in line at a FEMA trailer, the home in which they’d foreseen the rest of their lives destroyed, their possessions lost, the course of their lives altered. “We thought we were set for life,” he said. They were able to maintain their composure throughout the entire process – until Christie walked right up to Lee Tice after his speech and shook his hand. Tice dissolved into tears, with the governor of New Jersey to console him.” … Material stuff: “”We have to replace all the appliances and furniture, pull the rug up, and the electrical sockets are wet,” [Denise Crudup] said. “But I’m alive. And this is material stuff. You can get that back.” … More guns, please: “New York City authorities say a motorist was arrested after he tried to cut in line at a gas station in Queens early Thursday and pointed a pistol at another motorist who complained.

Human > Human (compliance). Evacuation: ” Residents are being forcibly evacuated tonight from seven Ocean County [barrier island] communities because of extensive repairs needed after the devastation Hurricane Sandy left behind, Seaside Height Police Chief Thomas Boyd said. ‘We’ve pretty much got Seaside on lockdown and that’s what we’ve go tot do to make it safe.’” … Uniforms: “‘You encountered human beings who had lost everything,’ [Brig. Gen. James J. Grant who had been on storm duty]. ‘And when they see you and that uniform, you bring a sense of calmness.”" … Detainees: “Continued bans in Ventnor and Atlantic City, where police have set up roadblocks and checkpoints, were creating something of a surreal experience. There were stories of people sneaking through in the beds of pickup trucks or arriving by boat circulating among ‘detainees’ – residents who can’t leave the towns because if they do, they won’t be permitted to return. ‘It’s like the Mexican border,’ one Margate shop owner said. And anyone wanting to get into tony Longport before the ban was lifted? ‘They’re guarding Longport like it’s the White House,’ noted a Margate police officer.”

Lessons learned (or not). Energy: ” I have heard many, even the usually laissez-faire folks, ask questions about why there is no talk about alternative energy sources and energy back-up plan for the country and for other states. It is hard to believe that we are in this situation after living through 9/11 and Katrina. Have we not learned anything?” … Money: “‘We’re not going to run out of money in the disaster-relief fund,’ [FEMA head] Fugate said” Well, the government can no more run out of money any more than the New York Yankees can run out of points.

Bottom line: A budding petro-state with an infrastructure that can’t deliver petroleum to its citizens is in worse trouble than people, and in particular its elites, imagine.

Before and after: Photos of Jersey shore.

* No slogan this evening.

* * *
Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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62 comments

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, fixed. My fault….I had a blow up with a potential tech vendor, which took a lot of time and energy, with the end result that I went to bed and didn’t tell Lambert, so he didn’t check to see I had the right version.

  1. Richard Kline

    The Financial Times editorial on falling out of love is definitely worth reading, not only for the sentiment—and its reasons—conveyed but for the patina of details. The EU and the US trade ever less with each other; in particular, the US doesn’t export much the EU wants or needs. The two super-polities share little in the way of grand strategic trajectories. For instance, the EU wants, at most all costs, an entente with Russia; the US largely can’t be bothered, and the relationship there is constantly strained. The EU wants constructive _political_ engagement in SW Asia, but only that; the US is a serial armed intervenor there. Socially, the populations have little in common. Educationally, many Europeans used to come to the US; now, few do.

    The fact is the EU and the US share some 20th century history, but that’s two generations and counting in the rear view mirror. Any sane US grand strategy would fulcrum first and formost on close engagement with Europe—but the US has largely given that up, and a drift apart is well under way. Think about the implications, folks, because we will see more and more of this through the generation coming . . . .

    1. Jim Haygood

      Another excerpt from the FT editorial:

      George W. Bush … landed Europeans in two wars that we ended up regretting.

      Oh, so Bush made them do it. And how did the dastardly cowboy accomplish that?

      In a long-obsolete echo of a war fought 70 years ago, most of Europe belongs to U.S.-led NATO. In response to European pleading, Bill Clinton subverted the purely defensive NATO treaty so that NATO illegally could conduct an ‘out of area’ intervention in the former Yugoslavia. This destructive innovation directly paved the way for Bush’s ‘out of area’ NATO invasion of Afghanistan.

      If Europe ever develops the balls to emerge from the ongoing shame of U.S. military occupation by evicting NATO, transatlantic relations might actually warm on the basis of mutual respect and sovereignty.

      At least the exculpatory whining that ‘Bush made us murder them Muslims’ would stop.

      1. b.

        The most hyprocritical kabuki with respect to the illegal war in Iraq came from Germany. Schroeder, then chancellor, postured himself to re-election by claiming to oppose Bush’s crime, but carefully avoided taking the one step that Germany was empowered to at the time, courtesy of its rotation into the UN Security Council: It takes only one member – permanent or temporary – of the council to call a full assembly debate and vote, per UN Resolution 377 – which, ironically, was created on US initiative, and first applied to NATO members UK and France during the Suez crisis. Just like Russia, China, and France, Germany did absolutely nothing – not even just call for general assembly – about Bush’s war.

    2. Ignim Brites

      Does the US really need a “grand strategy”? Do we need to be the premier nation in some global endeavor? Are there really any threats to the US that required an alliance with Europe? Are there any threats to the US that require an alliance with any other nation? It is kind of ridiculous to worry about the US growing apart from Europe when the nation is growing apart internally. No amount of agitprop from Steven Spielberg</b? is going to stop that.

    3. different clue

      If America starts delaminating into semi-separate “countries” . . such as, in functional terms, a “North Atlantica” and a “Great Lakestan” and so forth, I could imagine North Atlantica and Great Lakestan seeking a return to heretofore deep and broad ties with Europe. South Atlantica, MexiGulfistan, TexArkLaHoma, etc.; would be less interested.

  2. Jim Haygood

    From Glenn Greenwald’s Guardian column:

    The one common strain running through these historic civil liberties assaults is war. War almost always erodes political liberties.

    But … at least the exploited wars are usually real. In the case of the “War on Terror”, it is far more illusory and frivolous than real.

    Amazingly, in reviewing the hit parade of worst-ever presidential civil liberties abusers (which includes such whitewashed icons as Lincoln, Roosevelt, and our current Bush/Obama administration), Greenwald never mentions Richard Nixon.

    Nixon’s War on Drugs, now entering its 43rd year, has subverted the peacetime rule of law like nothing else. It enabled everything from violent no-knock raids, asset forfeiture, and entrapment to NYC stop-and-frisk arrests, random checkpoints, expanded wiretapping and surveillance, and new victimless offenses such as ‘money laundering.’

    A previous iteration of substance prohibition — signed into law by Woody Wilson, another of Greenwald’s ten most wanted public enemies of liberty — collapsed in abject failure after 13 years. But Nixon’s Energizer-bunny drug war just clatters on and on, now accepted as one of the beyond-debate canons of the Depublicrat duopoly. [A government-funded TV ad from 'Drugfree.org' blares in the background in our relatives' living room as I type this].

    Voting for Depublicrats just entrenches the jackbooted fiends who done this to us.

  3. Ep3

    Hey yves, politico link re: ‘liberals fearing betrayal in grand bargain’ actually links to the public housing article in nytimes about fear creeping in with the dark.

  4. Brian

    America Gone Wild. It seems someone needed to whine about our fellow residents on the continent. If you kill all the predators, you get a lot of breeding in the rest of the food chain. If you live the cement lifestyle and expect everything to be clean, you get to live with rats.
    Our property is home to numerous other species than human. Funny how they all find a way to get along if left to their own devices.

    1. Garrett Pace

      The vast changes we’ve made to the landscape of our nation is going to have a lot of unintended consequences. The default answer, though, is to always make nature conform to our paradigms.

      A main lesson of Hurricane Sandy is that we should be the ones conforming.

      1. Susan the other

        The FDL post about 2 degrees centigrade and it’s all over and mass extinctions will rule, conflicts with the new growth of forests in the WSJ report in a way that exposes how selective the WSJ is being. What good is the new sylvan landscape, potentially home to lots of beavers, etc. if food chains are collapsing? The main food chain now for wildlife relies on human refuse in the suburbs and exurbs. Humans create a better environment for wildlife than the forests do. Mass extinction will not spare humans in the end. And neither article addressed the awful condition of the oceans, save the warning about sea level rise. Those two articles are begging for coherence in our analysis of what we must do very soon.

  5. RT

    @”Don’t cry for me, François ´(Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph”)

    Funny. Well, not really. Schröder was named “Genosse der Bosse” (comrade of the bosses), consequently he’s now himself CEO of a Gazprom subsidiary. And Peter Hartz was, well, an executive at Volkswagen (and indeed a white-collar criminal). Both were as much “leftists” as CEO’s ever can be (make an educated guess).

    But here’s the true lesson: Volkswagen is in favor of “free markets”. Therefore, the so-called “labor market” has to be absolutely unfree and massively down-regulated by government. There’s no legal minimum wage in Germany and the Hartz-IV system has a deliberately brutal deterring mechanism of sanctions attached to it (allowing for 100 percent cuts to all social security benefits in case of failure to surrender completely to the draconian rules) forcing everybody to take every job at any conditions. Result? Totally distorted prices for labor in Germany, unfairly produced by the government to benefit corporations, especially exporters. And don’t count on unemployment stats because they’re heavily distorted, too (counting only half of those receiving some sort of UE benefits). So, it all boils down to vicious ideology: Free markets for them, brute force for all others. Take it or die, your choice, my fellow frenchmen. And down Europe goes. Oh well, for us, not them – Peter Hartz today is entitled “professor” (honoris causa, sic!) and working on “Hartz-V” which is aimed at converting all unemployed into “minipreneure” (unemployment itself, it seems, is a well-paying business for them who want gov’t to be out of their ways but surely not out of ours).

    In short: There are no “leftists” left in power politics today. Supposing then-chancellor Schröder to be Hollande’s “ally on the Left” is Orwellian doublespeak (tho I frequently endorse AEP’s column). There are only wolves and wolves in sheep’s clothing and that’s it.

    And now, with that in mind, think about potential similarities between Schröder/Hartz and Obama/Immelt and/or move on and listen to Bill Black (Obama’s Social Security Reform: A Grand Bargain or Betrayal? Real News Network). Sheep’s clothing, it seems, is quite well-suited for doing away with remaining human obstacles to really free enterprise.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Yves, the prime target is Roberto Unger. He’s loaded, he’s defiant, he’s disgusted, and he has an axe to grind. Most important: he’s of a very old, venerable elite family, and his business is the Law. He bows to no-one.

      This is his wrench to throw.

  6. TK21

    “So two shifts of 30 troops are hauling diesel fuel up to the 13th floor, where the hospital’s generator is located”

    Sometimes I wonder if this country is too stupid to survive.

  7. PQS

    Haven’t seen any articles about the NY/NJ prison/jail population, except for something early on about Rikers Island….but the vast numbers of people we have in cages can be an immense problem of housing and upkeep during natural disasters…maybe someone will finally start talking about dismantling, ever so slightly, the police state, since WE CAN’T AFFORD IT!!!

  8. Herman Sniffles

    “He sees some of his liberal suburban neighbors coming to believe that “hunting is good—one of the best, most responsible forms of stewardship of nature,” he says.”

    YUP!

    There was a ponytailed new age type on tv recently from Grass Valley, CA. While a city dweller, he had voted for the idiotic ban on mountain lion hunting in California which was put in place in the 90′s through a ballot initiative (put forward by a silicon valley billionaire who had watched “Bambi” just one too many times, and is now apparently in an asylum). Now – he told the tv reporter – he’s upset because he moved from the SF Bay Area up into the rural Sierras and mountain lions are jumping his fence and eating his dogs, chickens, and goats, and even threatening his children.
    I hope they eat him.

    1. reslez

      I hope they eat him.

      You… do?

      I guess that would show him.

      (****ing sociopaths. Trip over them everywhere.)

  9. Herman Sniffles

    The really funny thing – and a story that needs to be told – is how “nature faking” by movie producers like Disney changed American’s perception of wildlife. Watch “Bambi” for instance. Man if that ain’t propaganda nothing is! The animals are so anthropomorphised they’re doing everything but driving taxis and opening champagne bottles. And when hunters come on the scene, a low threatening voice says “Man is in the forest.” And then all you see is human feet crushing everything in a horrid murder-fest as they wantonly kill everything in sight and throw cigarette butts in the brush that light the forest on fire. Or “The Incredible Journey” (I think that’s what it’s called) where two dogs and a cat travel all the way across Canada to get home. Disney hired one of the most horrid, vicious animal trainers in the world to make the poor animal actors in this movie act like human beings. His methods for animal training included electrocution and hanging them by a rope until they passed out. I bought one of his books, and it’s just ghastly. So you have a generation of Americans who think animals are people (cough, cough) and who for the most part have no real idea how natural systems work. In California the environment (as per Fish and Game) is as full of deer as it can be. The limiting factor is food, not hunting. The way Mother Nature avoids deer overpopulation is to have the fawns die off in the winter. So if you shoot an adult deer in California, its place is taken by a fawn that probably would have died of starvation. In SE Alaska, every six years or so, there’s a terribly cold winter, and all the deer come down onto the beaches and die of freezing and starvation by the thousands. THAT’S what limits their population, not hunting – at least not the way it is strictly regulated today. Just a few weeks ago a Fish and Game commissioner was fired in California because he LEGALLY shot a mountain lion in Idaho. He followed all the appropriate Idaho laws, then when he came back to the land of fruits and nuts and he was fired by our own governor Jerry Moonbeam Brown. It’s all very silly, and I honestly don’t give a damn anymore. But it is irritating. Humans are hunters. Hunting – through evolution – made us what we are. Some people “hunt” tennis balls, others “hunt” crooked bankers (cough, cough). But we are all hunters. “Play” is practice hunting: sneaking, pouncing, hiding behind a tree and jumping out at your friend etc. etc. But anybody who actually wants to go back to the source, to actually HUNT, is made out to be a villain, and usually by some city dweller who is eating a heaping plate of Jimmy Dean whole- hog sausages.

  10. Herman Sniffles

    Of course the most interesting facet of anthropomorphism is that dogs really ARE people, but cats aren’t. Why is that anyway?

  11. BondsOfSteel

    Seems inconceivable to me that gas stations aren’t required to have a generator, or at least a switch hook up for one. This problem happens all the time.

  12. Valissa

    RE: Liberals fear grand bargain betrayal if President Obama wins

    Labor unions and liberal interest groups are going all-out for President Barack Obama’s reelection — but they’re just as ready to turn that firepower back on him if he betrays them with a grand bargain.

    Really? Liberals will “turn that firepower back on him” ??? Bwahahahaha… LMAO…

    1. b.

      Exactly. I don’t know who causes the bigger dissonance – Politico, for this kind of ridiculous stenography w/o any follow-up, or the Moveron-On movement and the unions who cannot possibly be this stupid, and hence have to be corrupt? It is the defining characteristic of the “liberal” establishment that the “Campaign For X” is just like the War on Terror – the fight shall never be won, the situation always dire, lest the fundraising fails – but this is taking the idiocy too far. I mean, the donors and union members cannot possibly be *that* dumb?

  13. PapelGuard

    How do you spell extinction?

    “Efforts to limit population growth” are thwarted by immigration from Central America. No matter how much birth control Americans practice, no matter how many Americans limit their family size, all their efforts will be in vain collectively as the average Central American woman here has more than enough children to overwhelm that effort. Her children here will consume far more resources than they would back home in C.A.and she will have more children here than there.

    http://www.vdare.com/walker/080410_sellout.htm

    “Hedge fund entrepreneur David Gelbaum insisted that he played no role in the [Sierra Club] election. He dismissed allegations that he is calling the shots at the club in any other way.
    ” ‘None of that is true,” he said. ‘I’m not some Svengali. I’m not that engaged.’
    “But he said Pope long had known where he stood on the contentious issue. ‘I did tell Carl Pope in 1994 or 1995 that if they ever came out anti-immigration, they would never get a dollar from me.’
    “Gelbaum, who reads the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión and is married to a Mexican American, said his views on immigration were shaped long ago by his grandfather, Abraham, a watchmaker who had come to America to escape persecution of Jews in Ukraine before World War I.
    “‘I cannot support an organization that is anti-immigration. It would dishonor the memory of my grandparents.’ ”
    [The Man Behind the Land, By Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, Oct 27, 2004]

    Whenever a kid comes begging for money for the Sierra Club at our door, I tell them, “ask David Gelbaum”.

  14. Klassy!

    The article by the OSU profs (highly recommended) linked to in the Greenwald piece actually goes quite well with riverdaughter’s comment. What is it about Americans that they will ignore very real dangers and spend their time worrying about events that have a snowball’s chance in hell of happening?
    This is nothing new. For years, watching tv you would think the greatest danger faced by an American child is to be snatched off the street by a total stranger– not to be say, living in poverty, to not have enough to eat, to get hurt in an accident or any number of things that are quite commonplace.

  15. Hugh

    I often say kleptocracy has costs. I should add so does global warming. These come in many forms and Sandy exposed several of them. There was no real planning for such a storm. There was no attempt to “harden” public infrastructure like tunnels, subways, electric lines to prevent or minimize flooding damage to them. It’s clear that backup power generation at some critical facilities, such as hospitals, had been given joke priority status. They were poorly designed and failed when needed. There seems to have been no thought given to removing cars, taxis, and rolling stock to higher ground. In a pinch, cars could have been parked bumper to bumper on the wider streets in the higher areas leaving a single lane for police, fire, and emergency vehicles. Bridges and tunnels out of Manhattan could have been made all outgoing. Areas likely to be hard hit could have been evacuated and patrolled by police and National Guard. There could have been emergency committees for apartment buildings or blocks to check on everyone and see their basic needs were met. My impression, and it could be wrong, is that New York went about business as usual until the last minute rather than closing down and spending a day or two to get ready for Sandy as best it could (in the absence of needed infrastructure).

    Then there are places like the Jersey shore. I am sure that people want to live there and developers are more than willing to make a buck promoting such areas, but building ordinary housing on low lying sand dunes near a stormy ocean is, as we can all see, a recipe for disaster.

    1. Bev

      go to the following site for working links:

      http://markcrispinmiller.com/2012/11/dont-drink-the-water-sandys-toxic-legacy/

      Don’t drink the water: Sandy’s toxic legacy

      http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/823/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1260075

      From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility:

      Dear Supporter:

      As if the wind damage, flooding and even fires spawned by Hurricane Sandy were not enough, another impact is rearing its head in the aftermath of the storm – profound water pollution.

      Combined sewage overflows from Sandy turned many Eastern Seaboard waters into fetid soup. But it gets worse—

      Superfund sites were inundated and released massive amounts of toxic material;

      Oil, detergents, pesticides and other chemicals are washed out to sea in mass quantities; and

      Toxic fracking water may have been released from holding ponds into streams in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

      As a result, we are awash in waters not healthy to even touch.

      Compounding the problem is that many of these waters were in bad shape before the storm. A new EPA database paints a grim picture:

      More than three-quarters of U.S. coastal waters are impaired, as are two-thirds of our bays and estuaries and more than half of near coastal ocean waters;
      More than two-thirds of our lakes, reservoirs and ponds are impaired as are virtually all of the Great Lakes shorelines and waters; and
      More than four-fifths of the nation’s wetlands are also impaired.

      These dismal numbers are likely significant underestimates. Thus, 40 years after the enactment of the Clean Water Act, our rivers may look better and may be less likely to catch on fire but the true quality of our waters may be regressing. In short, the Clean Water Act’s promise that our waters be drinkable, swimmable and fishable remains largely unfulfilled.

      Distressingly, the EPA figures show clean water progress has slowed under Obama. In 2008, there were 339 previously impaired waters which were restored to their intended uses but only 109 water-bodies were restored in 2012. Similarly, in 2008 agencies addressed 420 causes of impairment but by 2012 that number had fallen to 255.

      Environmental issues have been largely absent from this presidential campaign but environmental events, from the BP Gulf spill to Super-storm Sandy, show how key the environment is to our economic as well as our public health. Regardless of who wins the election next week, one unquestioned lesson from Sandy is that water quality is a vital component of American infrastructure and we disinvest in it at our peril.

      Jeff Ruch
      Executive Director

      P.S. Our drive to uproot genetically engineered crops from National Wildlife Refuges racked up a victory in the Southeast. We won a federal court ruling that on 128 refuges across eight states, halts GE plantings without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act and refuge management laws.

      P.P.S. The FDA has a plan to protect us from drug-resistant “super bugs” – or do they? We had to sue them to find out that the FDA plan to curb massive antimicrobial dosing in livestock feed is nothing more than wishful thinking.

      P.P.P.S. We have a couple of petitions that are very close to circulation milestones. Our petition to prevent another 9/11 First Responder tragedy is just 25 signatures short of meeting a circulation goal. And our drive to Clean Up Petroglyph National Monument is also gaining cyber-steam. If you have not signed either, please do and please share them with your friends.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        In the State of Georgia, there are warnings continuously: Don’t eat fish from the rivers: contains mercury and other toxic substances.

    2. LucyLulu

      “Since 1988, the amount of money the U.S. spends on disaster relief has increased 13 times while the amount spending on disaster preparedness has been flat.”

      The worst part is that preventative spending, Malhotra says, reinforces the old Ben Franklin saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It really is more effective to spend money on getting ready for a natural disaster than trying to mitigate its effects after the fact. “We estimated that $1 in preparedness spending is worth $15 in relief payments in preventing future disasters,” Malhotra says.”

      http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/10/disaster-preparation-sandy-politicians

      Gotta trim that deficit!

        1. different clue

          Vulnerable to expensive-for-”us” and lucrative-for-”them” disasters, that’s where.

  16. JohnL

    Lambert thanks for the NJ summary. New Jersey Hurricane News on facbook is the best site I have found. The lack of preparedness at government, business, and individual level is unfortunately not a surprise. I hope the lessons are learned and applied in planning shoreline development and building resilient infrastructure.

  17. Flying Kiwi

    “The fragility of complex systems”?

    I designed, built and maintain our community-owned, non-profit broadband wireless system which is the area’s only alternative to dial-up and voice/fax over copper wires plagued by shorting electric fences and flat batteries in the radio shack.

    At the physical/IP level the system is complex, but that’s because with a feasibly simple system of single links and interfaces every wireless card, every antenna and cable, every ethernet wire and RJ45 connector, every router and its power supply is a point of potential failure able to bring the system down utterly. Hence the system has backups, by-passes or alternatives wherever possible – which although greatly adding to the complexity (and expense) of the system also render it far more robust than the workable minimum.

    Often it is the simple or minimum or ‘cheap-and-cheerful’ that also proves the most fragile in adverse circumstances.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From the link about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

    “fossil fuel burning, cement and oil production produced 3 percent more carbon dioxide in 2011…”

    When I think of fiscal stimulus and infrastructure projects, mostly, I think of cement…lots of cement for bridges, dams, seawalls, etc.

    1. different clue

      If that cement were made in part by bubbling CO2 from power plants through seawater to react the CO2 with oceanborne calcium and magnesium to for cal-mag carbonates for making cement with, the cement-making process would partially sequester some of the CO2 released by fuelburning, rather than just simply require more fuelburning to produce it. IFF! I am understanding this Scientific American magazine article correctly . . .
      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=cement-from-carbon-dioxide

      or this one . . . http://www.science.org.au/nova/newscientist/108ns_011.htm

  19. Ep3

    Yves, some semi-famous artist I follow on Facebook just posted that the govt has run out of water trying to help sandy victims. Then this person said something about ‘typical govt failure’ blah blah blah.
    They then posted a followup comment ‘to clarify, help appreciated, but ppl need to learn to survive on their own and depend upon themselves only’.
    Now, besides the anarchic nature of these comments, I wondered something. What if our friend and hero the free market were running things. I wildly guesstimated that water would be as high as $100-$150 a gallon. But my feeling is that I am not far off.
    Would you happen to have a few words to describe the economic environment surrounding the area hit by Sandy and how our free market friend would take care of us?
    But I also understand that sort of topic might not be within the bounds of things you blog about.

    1. lambert strether

      Reminds me of a graffito I saw when I volunteered at food kitchen back in the 80s: “When somebody says “You asked for it,” punch them in the face and ask “Did you ask for that?”

  20. p78

    http://www.voxeu.org/article/target2-scapegoat-german-errors
    TARGET2 as a scapegoat for German errors
    “This column – a rejoinder to Hans-Werner Sinn’s recent column – agrees that Germany would lose massively from a breakup, but argues that the ultimate source is the €600 billion current account surpluses it ran with other EZ nations during the good years, not the TARGET2 system. German banks lent vast amounts to peripheral countries without doing a proper credit analysis. No one other than Germany itself is responsible for taking on these risks.”

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