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Links 1/12/13

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Snow in the Desert Foreign Policy (Valissa). Google the title if you don’t want to deal with free registration. The pictures are wild. Meanwhile, it is supposed to be 55 here in NYC on Sunday.

Climate change set to make America hotter, drier and more disaster-prone Guardian

‘The dog ate my passport’ Telegraph

Verizon’s “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Measures Unveiled Torrent Freak

The Science of Why Comment Trolls Suck Mother Jones (Another Gordon)

BP hopes to cut Gulf of Mexico fine by $3.4bn Telegraph

Mineworker Debt Mounts as South African Lending Booms Bloomberg. Also know as “financial deepening”.

Triple-dip looms for UK after ‘horrible’ setbacks Independent

Japanomics strikes a revolutionary note Peter Tasker, Financial Times

Senate Dems: We’ll back Obama if he raises debt limit unilaterally The Hill (Aquifer)

The Disastrous Consequences Of Not Raising The Debt Limit Clusterstock

“Failure of Epic Proportions”: Treasury Nominee Jack Lew’s Pro-Bank, Austerity, Deregulation Legacy Democracy Now. Contrast with: Krugman on the Economy, Jack Lew, and You Bill Moyers

Wall Street thanks you for your service, Tim Geithner Dean Baker, Guardian. Actually, JP Morgan would have failed too. It runs a massive clearing operation and has bigger risks there than in the bank. Why do you think it was the one to stick the knife in Lehman and MF Global?

‘Whale’ Is Threat to Dimon Bonus Wall Street Journal

AIG Sues Federal Reserve Vehicle in Dispute Over Lawsuit Rights Wall Street Journal. The NY Fed has disputed AIG’s right to intervene in the $8.5 billion Bank of America settlement. AIG’s pleading was particularly good on why BofA was on the hook for Countrywide liability.

More on Central Bank Independence Tim Duy

Sharers, Takers, Carers, Makers TripleCrisis

The Good Without The Awful John Hussman. Forgot to link to this earlier in the week…

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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145 comments

  1. rjs

    while reading The U.S. Will Again Produce More of the Nitrogen Fertilizer it Uses for Agriculture at Big Picture Agriculture last night, i drifted back to the World Meteorological Organization annual report on 2011 greenhouse gases to check on NO2…

    according to the EPA: “Agricultural soil management is the largest source of N2O emissions in the United States, accounting for about 68% of total U.S. N2O emissions in 2010″

    nitrous oxide is 298 times more heat trapping than equal emissions of carbon dioxide over a 100 year period and also contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer, which screens harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun…
    since CO2 levels were at 390.9 parts per million (ppm) in 2011, and atmospheric NO2 was about 324.2 parts per billion in 2011; a back of the envelope calculation puts the contribution of NO2 to global warming at about one quarter that of CO2

    1. JohnL

      Interesting, thanks. Another strike against big ag and meat intensive diets. Note nitrous oxide = N2O. NO2 = nitrogen dioxide. Different animal.

      1. pink buffalo

        It’s not meat a problem caused by meat intensive diets. It’s a problem of having to grow grain, which means grass, because that’s what grains are.

        I was personally capable of raising enough meat on a small suburban lot. Rabbits, chickens, ducks. I was working on a system to feed everyone with a mix of aquaponics and a hydroponic fodder growth system.

        But things like alfalfa, don’t need nitrogen, because it is a legume.

        I don’t know what the breakdown of corn production is as in feed corn, ethanol corn, and corn as human food. But I have heard it takes 10 kcal of energy via petroleum for every 1 kcal of energy produced. That’s the problem with big ag, they are invested in wasting energy, rather than utilizing the free energy of the sun, because of a variety of reasons, but mostly because of homogenization and having national and trans-national distribution.

        The food issue isn’t a meat v. vegetarian issue. It’s about irrational methods of production that toxify the very environment that has been supporting populations for centuries. And when it comes to chemical fertilizers, there is a lot of scientific arrogance about the positive effects of their use, in light of the ‘Green Revolution.’ This is changing.

        And it is about individual responsibility in food production. Corn and other grains have 1000s of boxed concoctions because they preserve well at room temperature. One reason HFCS has been everything is because it is a ‘natural’ preservative. But it has the knock on effect of being highly addictive. People need their sugar bumps. 150 lbs of it a year. That’s almost 8 ozs a day. For an average person, that’s close to half the recommended calories for a day.

        Grain is the problem, especially corn. Humans are omnivores. 70% of our calories are coming from wheat, corn and soy in the US.

          1. different clue

            Did FDA approve it? Is FDA even inVOLVED in that approval? I thought it was USDA that approved it . . .

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I used to use the 1:10 ratio, but it is a LOT more variable than that. Chicken is really efficient, it turns out, less than a 1:2 ratio, while beef is the worst. So if you must have meat, eat chicken.

          1. different clue

            Or why not strictly grass/pasture/range fed beef? Am I wrong to believe that little or no nitrogen fertilizer is applied to perennial pasture/range land? If so, would not near-zero or actual zero N2O emmissions rise from that pasture and range land? Meanwhile, isn’t that land sucking down net CO2 and bio-sequestering it into pasture plant roots and inter-root exudates of glomalin and other root secretions . . . which break down into stable carbon-sequestering humus?

            If that is all correct, then eating pasture-and-range fed beef which ate zero grain would be globally dewarming, I should think.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            Cows fart a ton, and that produces methane. Cattle are actually a big source of methane. I am pretty sure that is independent of whether they eat grass or corn.

          3. different clue

            That’s an interesting question actually. Do cattle fart out the same amount of methane regardless of what they eat?

            Another question arises . . . does the pasture and range under the cows suck down more CO2 than the CH4 which the cows on that pasture emit? And since methane is 28 times ( or something) more powerful an atmospheric heat-retainer molecule-for-molecule than what CO2 is, then the pasture under the cows would have to biosequester 28 times more carbon atoms than the number of carbon atom in methane which the cows are emitting to break “global warming even”.
            If the pasture under the cows biosequestered more than 28 carbon atoms for every methane molecule the cows emitted, then cows on pasture is still net biocarbon-fixing, and the case for eating grassfed beef still stands. But if the pasture under the cows fixes less than 28 carbon atoms for every methane molecule the cows on the pasture emit, then my
            eating grassfed beef would become a guilty pleasure rather than a bio-civic duty. I hope an answer to that question exists somewhere or is at least findable.

          4. Nathanael

            different clue: no, they don’t. However, the exact relationship between cow diet and cow methane production is not well-understood. It seems to depend on tricky stuff like intestinal bacteria, trace minerals, stuff like that.

          5. different clue

            Nathaniel,

            Your answer gives me some vague measure of faint hope. Can cattle methane emissions actually be manipulated up or down by manipulating what the cows are eating, and Even MORE so . . . by manipulating what mineral balances are present in the soil which grows what the cows are eating?

            And the OTHer question . . . about how many atoms of carbon the pasture under some cows sequesters . . . compared to how many methane molecules those same cows on the pasture emit . . . seems important to me, not just picky or argumentative.

          6. JohnL

            It’s not just nitrous oxide and methane. Beef production uses a lot of land and water. Animal waste pollutes water sources. Farm animal waste is the chief source of estrogen in rivers and coastal waters. It’s a very inefficient way of producing edible protein. Beef will need to be an occasional luxury for most if we are to feed the world’s population sustainably.

            There are some alternatives. Buffalo can thrive on non-irrigated range land.

          7. different clue

            John L,

            What your comment is true about is grain-fed beef, particular confined feedlot beef. And that is most of the beef in the world today. Just abolish that, and settle for pasture/range beef only, and the waste of grain/energy/water vastly diminishes.

            And if the pasture/range UNder the cattle on that pasture/range bio-sequesters as much hydrophilic carbon as I have read that it can, then it can turn soil into a major water-magnet and water-holder, storing and trapping much more of the rain and snow falling on that pasture/range than what that land could store and hold if it were growing tofu-beans or whole-pasta wheat. And buffalo would be even more water-sparing. (Maybe the main meatstock encouraged in much of the eco-fragile West should be buffalo and not the ancestrally wet-Euro-forest derived cattle. Perhaps focus cattle on the Midwest, East, and South.)

          8. rjs

            just to fill in the methane numbers, since it’s been brought up: again, according to the World Meteorological Organizationannual report on 2011 greenhouse gases atmospheric methane also hit a new high of about 1813 parts per billion (ppb) in 2011, which is 259% of the pre-industrial level, 40% of methane is emitted into the atmosphere by natural sources (e.g., wetlands) and about 60 % comes from activities like cattle breeding, rice agriculture, fossil fuel exploitation, landfills and biomass burning…it’s about 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2 in the long term, but 70 times as potent over a 20 year horizen; therefore, in the short term, it’s global warming effect is one-third that of CO2…

          9. different clue

            rjs,

            Methane from cattle breeding AND rice growing? Am I to give up beef AND rice then?

            Never. NEver! No. I’ll just have to find some way to emit 20 fewer CO2 molecules for every methane molecule I choose to emit with my beef and with my rice. (And someone really needs to come up with answers on how much C the pasture under cattle on pasture sucks back down and sequesters.)

  2. from Mexico

    @ “Sharers, Takers, Carers, Makers”

    A good economic system rests on sharing and caring as much as, if not more than, taking and making. Ever wonder why the first part usually gets left out of the story?

    In War and Peace and War Peter Turchin traces the history in Western civilization of the half-truth that man is motivated purely by self-interest, and the mythology that a perfect society can be achieved if man is driven solely by the impulse to maximize self-interest. It began with Machiavelli in the 16th century, gained significant traction by the time of Bernard Mandeville and Adam Smith, and by the 20th century had become what John Gray calls our “reigning mythology.”

    Gray goes on to note that our current structure of social and political power is built upon this mythology, and the mythology will not change until the power structure changes. Only then will it become obvious to the majority of people just how nonsensical and massively ficticious our reigning mythology is.

        1. Aquifer

          from the program – narrator: Mythology is more powerful than fact …

          Like it or lump it, ’tis the truth, so, ISTM, we had best work on our “better” myth …

        2. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

          Gray thinks that progress in science and technology is cumulative, but that in morality and ethics, things can go forwards some of the time, and backwards some of the time. He gives the example of waterboarding (many say it is torture) of enemy combatant detainees in the Bush 2 years as a step backwards.

          Ray Kurzweil is a well-known futurist, knowledgeable in high-tech. He has a long list of predictions. I tend to think it’s naive to think that science and technology will necessarily be used for the fulfillment of mankind.

          An example from when Britain ruled the seas: The Opium Wars; during that conflict, the British fought for the right to sell opium to the Chinese, against the wish of the Chinese emperor. The British had conquered India, and they had opium/poppy plantations in India. Following a profit motive, they really wanted to sell that opium to the masses in China: to make money! When the Chinese refused, even the emperor, there were the Opium wars, which the British won..

          Ray Kurzweil on 2029:
          “The manufacturing, agricultural and transportation sectors of the economy are almost entirely automated and employ very few humans. Across the world, poverty, war and disease are almost nonexistent thanks to technology alleviating want.”

          I’m not sure about that. Technology requires raw materials, energy, effort to develop. What’s good for Pepsi is not usually good for Coca-Cola. So business groups have interests non-aligned with competitors or with labour, generally speaking. Furthermore, nation-states try to expand their spheres of influence for access to energy sources, mainly oil, natural gas and the fossil fuels.

          Gray was dismissive of Keynes, to which Brad De Long objected. I don’t know much about Brad De Long.

          Kurzweil’s predictions:
          wikipedia.org
          Predictions_made_by_Ray_Kurzweil

      1. from Mexico

        And while we’re on the subject of Brad DeLong, you might find this Steve Keen post of interest:

        “What utter self-serving drivel, Brad Delong!”

        http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2012/06/30/what-utter-self-serving-drivel-brad-delong/

        Here’s the Brad DeLong passage Keen takes aim at:

        We economists who are steeped in economic and financial history – and aware of the history of economic thought concerning financial crises and their effects – have reason to be proud of our analyses over the past five years. We understood where we were heading, because we knew where we had been.

        In particular, we understood that the rapid run-up of house prices, coupled with the extension of leverage, posed macroeconomic dangers. We recognized that large bubble-driven losses in assets held by leveraged financial institutions would cause a panicked flight to safety, and that preventing a deep depression required active official intervention as a lender of last resort….

        So the big lesson is simple: trust those who work in the tradition of Walter Bagehot, Hyman Minsky, and Charles Kindleberger. That means trusting economists like Paul Krugman, Paul Romer, Gary Gorton, Carmen Reinhart, Ken Rogoff, Raghuram Rajan, Larry Summers, Barry Eichengreen, Olivier Blanchard, and their peers. Just as they got the recent past right, so they are the ones most likely to get the distribution of possible futures right.

        And as Keen concludes: “What utter hubris and drivel!”

        1. dearieme

          Keen is certainly good at pointing out when others speak drivel (or, indeed, tell lies). Whether his own theory is much cop, I don’t know – I dare say time will tell.

          1. Synopticist

            What annoys me about Keen is he’s far ruder about Keynesians like De-Long and Krugman, who have been proven at least 70% right, than he is about saltwater, business cycle types like Fama and Cochrane, who have been shown to be 100% wrong.

            I don’t know why he’s doing it like that, but I’m convinced it hinders his cause.

          2. ex-PFC Chuck

            Synopticist,
            Did you intend to say ” . . than he is about the saltwaterfreshwater, business cycle . . ” IIRC, DeLong, Krugman et al are the Saltwater economists.

          3. different clue

            Maybe I should start referring to the “lost future” economists . . . Charles Walters Jr., Erhard Pfingsten, “Red” Paulson, Carl Wilken, etc. as the Dry Land economists . . . in opposition to the Fresh Water and Salt Water economists. Maybe it will catch on better than Lost Future economists.

      2. Brad DeLong

        Surely when you are reading somebody–like John Gray–who appears to believe that John Maynard Keynes was an advocate of the efficient market hypothesis, it is time to raise both hands and step away from the keyboard?

        I mean, there are people you do do their homework you can read…

    1. Aquifer

      From Sharers, etc.

      ” …presumably, a good economic system encourages making (creating more to go around) and discourages taking (redistributing what others have made).”

      Oh really? Sounds like trickle down, to me …. STM a good economic system makes sure that needed goods are distributed to all members of society – to describe that as “taking” reveals a decided bias to me … As does:

      “Because we don’t have to bargain or trade directly with nature, we don’t consider it a participant in our economic system.”

      That’s the problem – we THOUGHT we didn’t have to bargain or trade with nature ( a fairly recent conceit, ancient cultures knew better, that’s what all those “silly” rituals were all about …) but could just take what we wanted – Well guess what, the bill is now due. Nature has allowed us to gin up the tab for centuries, but no more …

      We may not “consider” it a participant in our economic system but “it” is no longer waiting patiently to be allowed in – “it” is crashing the party, big time …

      1. from Mexico

        That’s a great article on John Gray and two of my favorite philosophers, Hoffer and Montaigne.

        Thanks!

          1. from Mexico

            No I haven’t. But since I am so interested in the way in which Modernity evolved from Christianity, it sounds like a book that is a must read for me.

      2. Montanamaven

        Yes, thanks. That was very good. Have you read Morris Berman’s book “Why America Failed?” Looks good. I’m also interested in a series of essays called “”Catastrophism” edited by Sasha Lilley.

      3. Valissa

        I am so on that wavelength myself… awesome article, thanks for sharing! I am a big fan of both Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer” and John Gray’s “Black Mass”. Both provided much needed common sense and realism (grounding) about the nature of the world and human nature. Someone here rec’d Black Mass a couple of years ago, then I read it and have rec’d it a few times in turn. I had observed for myself how liberalism seemed to have a strong Protestant utopian undertone but I didn’t have the historical knowledge, of history of thought, to piece it together. Gray does that really well. However, people who are very attached to their Utopian thinking or to the Left-Right Narrative and having an Other to blame for the ills of the world (the comfortable ideological scapegoat or devil) might have a hard time reading Black Mass.

        1. Klassy!

          Sounds right up my alley, Valissa. I’m reading The Stammering Century right now– it deals with more fringe utopians and religious movements in 19th c America– although I think New Thought lives on today in self help literature. And food faddism always lives on. (he covers this too.)

    1. Aquifer

      One of my favorite movies is Star Trek IV – The Return Home where they have to go back into the 20th Century to bring 2 Humpbacks “back” into the 25th(?) in order to save the planet ….

      Personally, i think Cetaceans are the most intelligent life forms on the planet …

          1. optimader

            “For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
            ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

      1. Maximilien

        @Aquifer

        Yeah, great movie. Funny too. And the kids can watch it! (No swearing, no nudity, no violence.)

      2. Nathanael

        Aquifer: after learning about bottlenose dolphin gang rape…. well, ceteceans are intelligent, but…

        Anyway, personally I feel that octopuses are the most intelligent creatures on the planet, as well as having the best bodies. I think they are poised for further evolutionary success due to their tremendous adaptability and short reproductive cycle.

        1. different clue

          I have read that their shorter lifespan may be what fails to push them to develop even greater intelligence. If parent octopuses don’t live long enough to educate their offspring, then where is the selective advantage for octopuses smart enough to teach things to their children? If someone could come up with a way to increase octopus lifespans to decades, then the smarter ones might give their children an educational advantage over the children of the dummer octopuses, thereby enabling their smarter children to outmultiply the dummer octopuses’ dummer children.

          THAT . . . might be an interesting GMO project for clever scientists . . . octopus lifespan enhancement.

  3. Jim Haygood

    ‘Despite being a lonely raging bull for years coming out of the 1990 recession, and shifting positive in early 2003 after the 2000-2002 downturn, my defensiveness during the most recent cycle has lent far too much to my characterization as a “permabear.”’

    What a jaw-dropping example of selective self-citation. As an investment newsletter writer in the Nineties, Hussman ‘fought the tape’ all the way up from 1995 to the peak in early 2000. His primary rationale was that the S&P dividend yield had dropped below its former record low of 3.0%. But with the S&P dividend yield remaining at 2.2% now, lower dividend yields may represent a structural change in the market.

    Generally, Hussman’s work places far too much emphasis on valuation (which can remain extreme for years) and too little on momentum (what the market is actually doing now). An approach which can completely sit out two cyclical bull markets in two decades is definitively broken.

    1. mookie

      I read the Hussman piece and it seemed reasonable and prudent to me, but it struck me that he didn’t give much weight to what seems to me (a pure novice) the main reason for the market’s performance: the government’s willingness to prop up the market through liquidity injections to the big banks (QE).

      All the massive increase in M1 we’ve seen since the disaster has flowed into the big banks, and much of that into the markets. The government’s main priority seems to be to keep the markets high.

      So, synthesizing various analyses from this site, my best guess about the coming year is that austerity in the form of payroll tax increases and coming social security/medicare cuts will press us into mild recession, but the government will react with more QE, stabilizing the markets at any cost.
      My question for anyone willing to throw in their 2¢ is what’s the best asset allocation for a small potatoes investor? market indexes + bond funds + a bit of precious metals hedge? I’m curious what people here think.

      1. Maximilien

        When interest rates are close to zero, when therefore ROI on almost anything is close to zero, why invest at all? Why pay commissions for no return, why take any risk at all for no return? In other words, what’s wrong with cash?

        These markets—all of them—are treacherous. ZIRP has made them so. Notice how stagnant they’ve been lately? The calm before the storm. When interest rates begin to rise—and they will, sooner or later, Fed or no Fed—stocks, bonds, commodities, gold, and real estate are gonna get crushed. When that happens, cash will indeed be king.

        That’s my 2¢. If my guess is right, in about five years it’ll be worth 3¢.

        1. Nathanael

          Japan. Interest rates can stay low for a very long time, given sufficiently bad government policy — in Japan the bad government policy was propping up zombie banks.

          1. Nathanael

            FYI, the correct investments right now are “hard goods”, but those are really hard to invest in. This entire blog is talking about how the system of land title is trashed; you can’t really invest in commodities properly without a warehouse and armed guards (and that’s expensive); etc.

            I’ve been putting money into my house to lower its running costs and make it less fossil-fuel dependent. I think that’s the best return on investment right now, as I think those improvements will have lasting value. (Mind you, I also believe my house is in a good location.)

          2. different clue

            Nathaniel,

            Is the “title” or the “deed” or whatever that thing is called . . . is it all MERSed up, or is it physically recorded and placed in a physical office in a physical courthouse? If it is physically recorded in a physical analog meatspace courthouse, it may be safe and “beyond reach” of the lawless part of the real estate market.

            If it is all MERSed up, is there a way to deMERSify it, pressure wash and steam clean and acid-bathe all the MERS germs and MERS cooties off of it, and get it physically placed in a real meatspace analog courthouse?

    2. craazyman

      that dude has me under his spell like he’s the Pied Piper. I was big into the PIIGS ETFs last year near the bottom, knowing I was right and telling myself I’m in for 3 years, not gonna let anything rattle me. NO way. that’s for loser amateurs not steeled nerve pros like me. then I read one of his Monday columns and got so scared I sold everything that morning! You can’t get rich quick like that. Him and Shedlock, they have me under hypnosis. Instead, I have to trust the gut but now it’s too late. These things moved 50% and I was out after about 20%. Lucky UVXY is back down to 13. I’m ready to get it soon for the move to 30 or 40. Then go short for the move back to 20. I figure I’ll make enough on that trade to stop working or doing anything except laying around and wasting time. I sure as hell won’t read Hussman or Shedlock anymore, after that. I’ll just surf youtube videos like Adele’s Someone Like You or Roling in the Deep. Maybe do a few bong hits too.

      1. mookie

        Your thinking is that between European and US Austerity and the end of QE3 the markets are due for a bit of a downturn?

        1. craazyman

          yeah, I’m thinking there’ll be another bout of downside volatility around the debt ceiling confusion in February along with worries about a slowdown in earnings growth that’ll take things down, also loss of confidence that more QE will do anything. But be clear, I’m still in a trance under Hussman’s spell when it comes to market valuation, so if he’s wrong, I’m wrong. I’m not reasoning for myself. He takes this stuff seriously and studies it carefully. I really couldn’t care less and just want to make quick money as lazily as I possibly can.

  4. Ned Ludd

    Aaron Swartz helped create RSS, reddit, and the Creative Common architecture. He also founded Demand Progress, which launched the campaign against SOPA and PIPA. He committed suicide yesterday.

    The Harvard researcher was facing up to 35 years in prison for “download[ing] articles that he was entitled to get free.” According to the MIT newspaper, The Tech: “Swartz was indicted in July 2011 by a federal grand jury for allegedly mass downloading documents from the JSTOR online journal archive with the intent to distribute them.” JSTOR did not pursue any civil action against Swartz. He was facing criminal charges from the Obama DOJ.

    In a statement announcing the charges, a United States attorney, Carmen M. Ortiz, said: “Stealing is stealing, whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.”

    1. Ned Ludd

      Cory Doctorow, one of Aaron Swartz’s friends, wrote more about Swartz’s life and his activism at boingboing. Swartz “singlehandedly liberated 20 percent of US law.”

      The post-Reddit era in Aaron’s life was really his coming of age. His stunts were breathtaking. At one point, he singlehandedly liberated 20 percent of US law. PACER, the system that gives Americans access to their own (public domain) case-law, charged a fee for each such access. After activists built RECAP (which allowed its users to put any caselaw they paid for into a free/public repository), Aaron spent a small fortune fetching a titanic amount of data and putting it into the public domain. The feds hated this. They smeared him, the FBI investigated him…

      To the world: we have all lost someone today who had more work to do, and who made the world a better place when he did it.

      Goodbye, Aaron.

      1. Aquifer

        Of course, considering the antipathy from the FBI – I suspect he was told that he would, indeed, wind up in jail for at least 35 years, no matter whether he deserved to be or not … And, considering how often the “justice system” FsU, even when the FBI doesn’t hate your guts, he probably figured his goose was, indeed, cooked …

        1. Ned Ludd

          Also, Swartz probably lacked the financial resources to defend himself; he was charged with thirteen felonies. According to Internet entrepreneur and MIT professor Philip Greenspun:

          My next interaction was with his criminal defense lawyers… I asked the lawyers “Suppose that the government’s case is completely frivolous and Swartz is guaranteed to be acquitted. What would he expect to spend in legal fees to defend the case?” They didn’t want to reveal anything particular to Aaron’s case but said “Generally the minimum cost to defend a federal criminal lawsuit is $1.5 million.”

          A daunting prospect for anyone.

          Swartz co-created reddit, but according to the venture capitalist who first funded the startup, “we made comparatively little from it”. Bettina Neuefeind, a lawyer married to the founder of the Creative Commons, had set up a legal defense fund for Swartz.

          The corporate state has many ways to crush dissent. As Matthew Stoller said on Twitter: “There are villains here. Aaron died for his beliefs.”

          1. Jim Haygood

            “Generally the minimum cost to defend a federal criminal lawsuit is $1.5 million.”

            No wonder the criminal conviction rate in many federal districts runs north of 95 percent.

            All that the average victim … errr, defendant can afford is a few hours of lawyering to negotiate the standard dozen piled-on, kitchen-sink felony charges (conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud, etc.) down to a plea bargain involving just one or two felonies.

            Welcome to the conviction mill that feeds the world’s largest gulag.

        2. Ned Ludd

          It turns out that when the Obama DOJ increased the number of charges against Aaron Swartz, they also increased the potential penalties: “the sentence could conceivably total 50+ years and fine in the area of $4 million.” Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons, writes that Swartz was “facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet [he was] unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge.”

          [O]ur government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed…

          [W]e live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled “felons.”

          The federal prosecutor who targeted Swartz and smeared him in the press – accusing him of “stealing” even though the actual charges had nothing to do with theft – is now being promoted by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Democratic insiders as a 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

          1. different clue

            Someone should find a way to archive and store this comment in a very easy to find and retrieve way, so it can be weaponised and disseminated for use against this candidate at every appropriate stage.

          2. LucyLulu

            Ortiz denies being interested in either running for governor or running for the Senate seat opening up if Kerry is confirmed, that she is “thrilled with her present job”, but there have been also rumors that Patrick is considering Ortiz as Kerry’s interim replacement. Patrick has said he wants to choose somebody who will agree not to run in the special election. AFAIK, Ortiz hasn’t denied interest in the temporary appointment, only running for the permanent seat.

            Swartz was a researcher at Harvard, for Pete’s sake. Weren’t they willing to help him out with legal fees, or even perhaps provide pro-bono legal work from one of their many distinguished law school faculty (who would be free to draw upon students and fellows for grunt work)? Hell, they could turn it into a series of elective courses providing real-world experience and even collect tuition.

          3. just me

            Here’s a kicker:

            http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/09/feds-go-overboard-in-prosecuting-information-activist/

            JSTOR, the alleged victim, tells Ars Technica that it did not seek Swartz’s prosecution and has only participated in the case as a subpoenaed witness. Of course, the government doesn’t need a victim’s permission to bring a criminal case against a defendant, but if JSTOR didn’t feel Swartz’s actions merited criminal prosecution, it seems like overkill for the government to pursue the case anyway.

            Just something to stare at while we wait for DOJ to go after foreclosure fraud on behalf of millions of victims. Any news, btw, of Obama’s FF task force? Did they ever get an office and a phone?

          4. Yves Smith Post author

            People in the Harvard of the 60s and 70s would have done that in a heartbeat. You don’t see that sort of thing now.

            I don’t think it is an overstatement to call this a Kristallnacht of our era, in the sense it has made a group that thought it was protected by virtue of being useful (in German, the Jews, here the leftie end of the “creative classes”) are not safe. I’m only on the periphery of that group, but I can tell they are all stunned by his death. I didn’t know Swartz, but everyone who did clearly saw him as extraordinary, not just in his intelligence and energy, but in his generosity and apparent otherworldly-ness.

            The Germans came after the Jews brutally and thuggishly. The action against Swartz was also brutal, but more like sniper fire, picking out a target both deemed to be important in and of itself and to intimidate other activists. My sense is Swartz’s colleagues somehow didn’t connect he didn’t begin to have the means to defend himself. And it’s not clear that would have been effective, the remarks above suggest that the judge would have viewed that sort of help with hostility.

    2. Obama's Gonzales

      Affirmative-action mishap Carmen Ortiz cut her teeth counterattacking Congressional CIA oversight with ABSCAM, and now protects the law from public scrutiny by destroying Article 19 activists like Aaron Swartz in perfect bovine ignorance of the supreme law of the land. A member of Holder’s cohort of integrity-free mediocrities, Ortiz is Obama’s Gonzales – she’s made and she’ll do whatever it takes to stay in her capo’s good graces.

      Ortiz has to do this because public ignorance of law helps the NCS lie. NCS has to lie about everything. They have to lie about domestic case law so that they can lie about jus cogens. That way, when NATO satellite France undermines international law with illegal use of force in Mali, NCS house organ TIME can lie about it, http://www.innercitypress.com/mali1frenchpress011213.html . That’s why pathological fabulist and shit plenum John Brennan is the ideal spook. He’s the two-bit magician, Ortiz is the female assistant he saws in half.

      1. Obama's herd

        In case you ever doubt for a second who’s in charge, when your rulers decide how the CIA can spy on you, it’s not Justice tokens like Ortiz that decide, or our phony bullshit courts, it’s CIA’s own IG.

        1. Ms G

          Nice. I guess that Mr. President has no issues with a US Attorney libelling a defendant in an active case as a “thief” though he was not charged with stealing anything (I guess understanding the statutes you rely on to charge people is not part of a US Attorney’s job description anymore). Never mind a US Attorney who gives press conferences on active cases.

          This Ortiz woman displays all the marks of the ignorant-thug profile that qualifies certain people to serve in Obama’s Gang of Thugs.

          The comparison to Gonzales is very apt.

      1. different clue

        Yup. Freaky weather in Israel and Palestine both. And in the Levant and in the Land of Canaan and in Greater Syria. Freaky weather in all of it.

  5. Brindle

    Academy member announces he will not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category as protest against torture.

    David Clennon, most well known role as the boss in “Thirtysomething”.

    —”I’m a member of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Academy. At the risk of being expelled for disclosing my intentions, I will not be voting for Zero Dark Thirty – in any Academy Awards category.”—

    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/13811-and-the-academy-award-for-the-promotion-of-torture-goes-to

    1. frosty zoom

      that picture was taken in the cuyahoga river after the cleveland zoo rebellion of 2037. soon after the great hippocracy was established in the formerly inhabitable lands of southwest ontario.

      long live the hippsters!

  6. frosty zoom

    another unwinter has begun and the great lakes look even emptier.

    soon we’ll be walking through the great erie swamp to get to cleveland.

    1. Aquifer

      Folks in the NE, ISTM, have been considerably complacent about water supplies for far too long – locally we didn’t/don’t much care whether we trash(ed) groundwater or not- after all we “always” had the Great Lakes and the winter snow pack …

      Even as the GL shrink, they will be increasingly looked on with thirsty eyes by other parts of the country, as well as by other nations …

      1. Nathanael

        The Great Lakes Compact was already signed by all the Great Lakes states and governments precisely to prevent water extraction by other parts of the US.

        Perhaps some evil Governor like Walker in Wisconsin will try to abrogate the Great Lakes Compact, but that would have RESULTS. How would you bet in an Illinois/Wisconsin war? I’d bet on Illinois.

        1. different clue

          Since Illinois is just barely a Great Lakes State whereas Wisconsin is a really truly Great Lakes State, I would expect a desperate Governor of Illinois to try selling
          the water than for an evil Governor of Wisconsin to try selling the water.

          It is Illinois, after all, which wants to keep its Chicago Shipping Canal open, even though that is how the Asian Carp will enter the Great Lakes and destroy a 7 billion dollar fishery over time. But it isn’t Illinois’s fishery, so what does Illinois care? That attitude on visible display is what makes me think Illinois would be the “weakest link” in Great Lakes defense, no matter how much more evil the Governor of Wisconsin is.

    2. optimader

      http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/pressure-mounts-to-restore-great-lakes-water-levels-f76ug5a-170854881.html

      Great Lakes, Great Peril

      Pressure mounts to restore Great Lakes water levels

      Pressure is mounting on the U.S. and Canadian governments to explore ways to restore water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron that have been lowered nearly two feet due to historic dredging on the St. Clair River. The two lakes, which are actually one body of water connected at the Straits of Mackinac, have been below their long-term average for more than a decade, and forecasters say in the coming months they could plunge below their record low….

      …The St. Clair River is the primary outflow of Lakes Michigan and Huron, and a deeper river channel means more water can flow out of the lakes, into Lake Erie, over Niagara Falls and, ultimately, out to the Atlantic Ocean.

      The mayors group is asking the Joint Commission, a binational board that advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on boundary waters issues, to further investigate engineering options to raise lake levels in order “to compensate for human activities, notably dredging in the St. Clair River over the past decades.”

      The request from the mayors group was submitted as part of a public comment process for a $17 million Great Lakes water level study that began five years ago.

      It is a study that has been plagued by controversy from the start, including the fact that it was co-chaired by an employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which many view as a source of the problem because it has a history of dredging in the St. Clair River to open Lakes Michigan and Huron to deep-draft navigation.

      St. Clair key

      The St. Clair has been heavily dredged for over a century, and the federal government has long acknowledged that this human meddling in the riverbed has led to a permanent drop of about 16 inches from Michigan and Huron’s long-term average.

      The depths of Lakes Michigan and Huron are in constant flux because of a complex combination of factors, including precipitation levels and evaporation rates as well as the amount of water flowing into them from Lake Superior down the St. Marys River and out of them through the St. Clair (see map)…. http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/pressure-mounts-to-restore-great-lakes-water-levels-f76ug5a-170854881.html

  7. JGordon

    It’s difficult to troll actual science with any intellectual integrity because there is a tested empirical basis in reality for it and the scientific community at large is almost in entire agreement on the issues involved–i.e. climate change. However for things like economics, which is social “science” largely driven by ideology and bias, with little to no basis in actual empirical reality, intellectual honesty demands trolling.

    For one example, few if any economists, because they are by and large ideological driven, will acknowledge the reality that we live on a finite planet with finite resources that are nearly depleted (from an energy invested vs. energy returned perspective). Instead they surround themselves with an iron wall of masturbatory self-conceived fantasies of things like the “output gap” and disparage anyone who dares to intrude on their little make-believe worlds with empirical evidence.

    That’s why Nakedcapitalism goes off the deep end a lot of times–while it’s intellectually rigorous and very honest within its limited model of reality, it’s a lot like being the good-guy protagonist a series of fantasy books: it might make for good reading (I like fantasy too for escapism, since reality sucks so much), but in the end it’s still just a fictional construct of a fictional reality.

    1. Aquifer

      Methinks it is possible to open up dialogue here, unlike on other sites …

      I agree with the “finite planet” image as being the elephant in the room of economic musings – the one that is tossed a peanut every once in a while, but that is nevertheless demonstrating quite clearly that it will sit wherever it wants …

      I have been lobbying for some greater, in depth, consideration of ecological economics – where economics is considered a subset of the physical environment and not the other way around …

      There are other “heterodox” economics out there besides MMT, et.al. that methinks it would be good to explore and Yves, methinks, has the chops to get the heavy hitters in the field to agree to participate …

      I hope she will give some consideration to doing so …

      1. JGordon

        I have doubts that economists can be rehabilitated to understand reality. They are systematically trained from econ101 to view their models as the reality and reality itself as a dirty little red-headed step-child that has to be whipped into line to conform to their ideals. I picked up this idea from Steve Keen’s “Debunking Economics” (and although Keen is very good with debunking the many fallacies in economic “thinking”, he is sometimes prone to exiting reality and going down random rabbit holes of his own–although at least he is honest, original, and has intellectual integrity, which is very unusual since those are qualities economists almost always lack).

        As far as heterodox economics goes, I am a certified permaculture designer and I can tell the difference between degenerative systems and regenerative systems. Our economics today, and all other systems that depend on impersonal commercial transactions and exponential growth as their basis, are inherently degenerative and prone to collapse. They may allow for explosive growth and radical competitiveness in the short term, but over the long they will always cause untold horror and misery for those caught in them. That’s where we are now. Reference Jared Diamond’s “Collapse; how societies choose to fail or succeed”, and “Guns, Germs, and Steel”.

        We have burned through nature’s windfall bounty and now it’s time to experience the horror of a massive population in competition for scanty resources. No policy, however “fair” or “honest”, produced by economic thinking can offer a solution to that predicament. What can offer a solution, and is for a few of us, is an acknowledgement of reality and the application of the principles of ecology to design systems that are regenerative and creative. Everyone could do this, and we could have enough to feed all 7 billion people on this planet and then some with no problem–but sadly the only ones who are going to make it through the bottleneck ahead are those who allow themselves to see outside the fishbowl and shift early to the new paradigm. Which will be, sad to say, extremely few. Although I am interested in saving as many as possible by propagating the ideas of permaculture.

        Shifting back to NC, while it it does allow for debate on various topics, I have always found that this “debate” only exists within the narrow framework of the dying paradigm. It’s a glaring and annoying lack of creative cognition and diversity of thinking that ought to be rectified–and if not, then at least recognized. And the same for everyone else who advocates any kind of fallacious economic ideology, whether Keynesian, Austrian, MMT, or whatever: your thinking is totally narrowed and circumscribed by your beliefs and ideology, not by reality.

        1. Valissa

          +10!

          The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds. – William James

          “Remarkably virtually everyone in developed countries desperately tries to believe that they are immune to indoctrination. They think they think for themselves and readily know the difference between truth and falsity, fantasy and reality, superstition and science, fact and fiction. Technologically sophisticated cultures are conditioned to accept belief systems, behaviors, and values that would have been rejected out of hand by their stone-age predecessors. Primitives would instantly sense the obvious threats to survival and adjustment, or simple nonsense, inherent in many of the treasured beliefs of modern society.” – Wilson Bryan Key

          E.O. Wilson: Tribalism, Groupism, Globalism http://www.theglobalist.com/storyid.aspx?storyid=9864

          1. craazyman

            youse guys sound like a bunch of pot smoking hippies at a commune. Some of us live in city apartments and like to order food from a diner and have it delivered — right to our door. I couldn’t grow a tomato if I had to. I’d probably die from laziness and starvation if gardening was a pre-requisite for eating.

          2. Valissa

            LOL… I don’t know if permaculture will save the world (tho I love the vision of it), it was the rest of his comment I was high-five-ing… or hang 10-ing…

            We have a small garden in the back yard and it’s basically organic but I am more of a seat-of-the-pants intuitive type of gardener so it’s not based on permaculture techniques. I’m sure it would be cheaper to buy our veggies at the store than grow them ourselves, but saving money (or the planet) is not why we garden.

            I garden primarily for the beauty it adds to the world. Our garden is probably 90% flowers and 10% food & herbs.

          3. JGordon

            A fundamental fact that you realize after studying permaculture for a bit is that every plant on this planet is almost entirely composed of water and carbon dioxide, with a few trace elements thrown in to keep things interesting.

            The only difference between a lush and bountiful forest garden and an arid desert is the relative configuration of elements in these respective systems. Most people live in an (ecological) desert and scrabble around for whatever bits of sustenance happen to randomly be there–Or worse (for a few), they have their food imported from halfway around the world, where its creation is completely disconnected and its consumption–creating countless opportunities for waste and pollution that not only destroy the environment, but also the integrity and humanity of the people involved. This of course creates co-equally reprehensible states of obesity, hubris and delusional thinking in the few beneficiaries, and famine, hardship and scarcity for everyone else (America being the center of the hubris and delusions at the moment).

            Permaculture design teaches how to turn deserts into a gardens, and how to close systems so that waste transforms into abundance. In that respect, all the world’s problems can be solved in a garden. But none will ever be solved in an economics lecture.

          4. optimader

            There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
            Douglas Adams

          5. optimader

            craazyman says:

            youse guys sound like a bunch of pot smoking hippies at a commune. Some of us live in city apartments and like to order food from a diner and have it delivered ”

            So you live in an apt. and eat carryout?
            …pass the doobie duude

          6. craazyman

            For me it’ll always be Cheech and Chong, the stoners of my youth.

            Can you imagine them trying to grow a tomato plant? hahahaha. They end up trying to smoke the leaves.

            They’d drive just to go across the street. Not sure what movie but they had their Camaro made of hash, or whatever it was, and needed to go across the street so they got in the car, started it up and did a U-turn and parked it and got out. Rather than walk.

            I think a man can live on Doritoes, Beer and Bong hits — for extended periods of time, interspersed with occasionaly nutritious meals — if he can only set aside the vain ambitions that tie him down and waste the spirit of all its life. Even if the Doritoes are GMO and heavily processed, the marijuana will neutralize the impact and the beer will be like a tonic. You’d need a car of some kind and a bungalow, but that’s about it.
            It would be cool to have a nice garden as long as somebody came over and tended to it while you got stoned and stared at it and tried to channel all the plant spirits and have conversations with them.

        1. Aquifer

          Thanx! That was very interesting – he mentions Herman Daly’s Steady State Economics – Daly’s the dude!

  8. frosty zoom

    That Ridiculous Article Regarding Internet TROLLS Is So Full Of Liberal Bias That Any Sane God-FEARING Commentariest Can Clearly SEE THAT THE NUMBERS WERE DELIBERERITLY MANNIPULATED TO PROVE ANOTHER “PROGRESSIVE” LIE.

    1. Aquifer

      fz – i don’t think the trolls came out too badly in that piece, in spite of the title – STM they came across as rather harmless, though annoying, when all is said and done :)

      1. frosty zoom

        Liberal Gobblygunk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        The 2nd and a half ammendment clearly states “the people shall have the right to freely spread dangerous factishes based upon things Sean Hannity clams as truth”

        LONG LIVE FREEDUMB!

    2. PunchNRun

      It’s NUMBSKULLS like you, who CAN”T EVEN POST A DECENT TROLL, that blow it for the rest of us.

  9. Synopticist

    I don’t know about desert snow, but yesterday in Wiltshire, England, it was 12 degrees celsius outside, and today it’s snowing.

    Looks like we’re heading into a triple dip recession too. You have to love expansionary austerity.

  10. Chris Rogers

    @Synopticist,

    Our weather’s not too fantastic in South Wales presently -none of the promised snow though.

    Re: Expansionary Austerity – this has been an absolute success in the UK, where else do you actually see a Chancellor ignore all empirical and historical reference in the pursuit of ideological goals and then blame those who suffer from this madness for their economic malaise – obviously, if you are earning less than £100,000 PA you are a scrounger, if above this tally, you are a striver, particularly all those corporations, individuals and multinationals who strive to avoid paying any taxation for the common good.

    An absolute disgrace!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Synopticist

      Aye, George Osbourne.
      Like you say, it IS working if you think his aim is to destroy the welfare state while blaming the depression’s victims for its faults.

      And the media lap-up the narrative.

  11. jsmith

    Posted this in the Black thread but if people haven’t already checked it out here’s a really great blog written by a heterodox econ PhD MMT-proponent of a more Marxist political persuasion. Really good.

    Clear and cogent explanations of MMT, fiat currencies and great commentary on current economic situations that I think only would enhance the understanding of regular NC readers.

    Reading through some of the author’s older posts, he really has a knack for elucidating what is regularly spoken about here.

    http://www.heteconomist.com

    1. AbyNormal

      super sweet site, hammock reading adventure

      “Then I turned 3, and saw how naïve I had been. They just wanted an explanation of social disintegration that exempted from blame their class-interested attacks on the living conditions of general populations the world over.”
      TY!

  12. Jackrabbit

    Climate change set to make America hotter, drier and more disaster-prone

    “Proactively preparing for climate change can reduce impacts, while also facilitating a more rapid and efficient response to changes as they happen,” said Katharine Jacobs, the director of the National Climate Assessment.

    We will hear more about climate change as we near 2015 when an Agreement is slated to be reached. It’s so funny to hear people hoping for Obama to ‘do something’ on climate change, when he’ll be _forced_ to ‘do something’ via this international process – and it’s highly doubtful that he’ll do anything more than what is agreed upon.

    PLDBT

    =====

    While activists may be expected to loudly proclaim the international agreement to be ‘too little, too late’ TPTB have no worries: the PR campaign to diffuse anger about inaction has already begun. Just like the sub-prime crisis, “we’re ALL to blame.”

      1. Invient

        For the mid range laptop today you would need a 62 watt solar cell, cost about 400… A rocket mass heater, passive solar design house, would cost about 300 to heat all winter… A standard aluminum bike costs about 500…. And vegetarian diet could be as cheap as 5 bucks a day… I’m also trying to learn to grow my own food on about 3/4 an acre. Winter clothing for cycling is expensive, but gas savings are worth it.

        A lot of ways to minimize our impact, which at this point is all we can do as individuals. We will have to curtail using more resources as we gain efficiency ( can’t remember the name of that paradox ), or else face the same problems and have no where to go.

        1. frosty zoom

          For the mid range laptop today

          • produced in which a solar-powered factory with materials mined by hand?

          you would need a 62 watt solar cell, cost about 400…

          • solar cells made in a solar-powered factory, shipped from china on solar-powered boats?

          A rocket mass heater,

          • sweet!

          passive solar design house, would cost about 300 to heat all winter…

          • i haven’t turned my heat on. it’s 12C in my living room. to quote pres. carter, “put on seven sweaters”

          A standard aluminum bike costs about 500….

          • aluminum mined ¿how, where?

          And vegetarian diet could be as cheap as 5 bucks a day…

          • ¿could be?

          I’m also trying to learn to grow my own food on about 3/4 an acre.

          • wheat and beans, too? you gonna need more land.

          Winter clothing for cycling is expensive,

          • layers! t-shirts are cheap. i can make you a super-warm cycling “outfit” for $15, max.

          but gas savings are worth it.

          • sorry for the cynicism, but i’m really worried. all your ideas are excellent, but i think the most important thing we can do is to stop makin’ babies. one, max! convince your friends. even with all your ideas, you’re still using the resources of 19.7 people in nepal.

      2. Jackrabbit

        It was made clear 20 years ago when climate change first became a real public issue that individuals will not make the changes necessary and the few who do will not make a difference.

        A governmental response is necessary. Unfortuneately, it has become clear (if you read NC and other blogs) that, for the most part, governments work for major corporations and “TPTB.” The concerns and welfare of ordinary people does not appear to be their primary concern. Oh sure, they make a good show of it when there is a disaster like Sandy or Newtown, but really, whats _really important_ goes on behind the scenes.

        Yes, we all contribute to global warming BUT we are not all responsible for the inaction that is making it worse. In fact the people that will be most harmed have the smallest voice.

        1. Nathanael

          I intend to survive. After investigation, I appear to be in one of the absolute best locations in the world — well above sea level, near some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, rainfall expected to *increase*, far enough north that the climate band shifts will still allow for substantial agriculture. I’m not having any kids. I’m converting everything to electric and insulating.

          My locality has a strong identity and a strong sense of solidarity, both town and farmers, and has a strong repository of well-educated people and a strong appetite for public works. It’s even tried issuing its own money and wouldn’t be resistant to doing so if needed.

          Next step is solar panels and batteries. I’m waiting only because I know some people who are making an extremely efficient new design, and my property’s south face is shaded. The renewable energy installs in the area keep increasing, though sadly we don’t have any factories of the right sort here — definitely a weak point.

      3. different clue

        What percent of a person’s energy use is devoted to a computer? If only a minority of it, then that person can achieve a big footprint shrink by reducing or efficientizing
        energy use away from the computer.

        What can people do with less electricity or no electricity at all? Focus on that first. Then if the computers all by themselves are using too much carbon bigfooting electricity, then we can give them up too.

    1. citizendave

      From the article, Ezra Klein says “…For the platinum coin idea to work, the Federal Reserve would have to treat it as a legal way for the Treasury Department to create currency. If they don’t believe it’s legal and would not credit the Treasury Department’s deposit, the platinum coin would be worthless…”

      Does the Federal Reserve have the power to declare that coins minted by the US Treasury do not constitute legal tender? The Constitution gives Treasury the power to mint coins. The Fed is not a Constitutional entity.

      Maybe Klein means that if Treasury wants to experiment with a $1T coin, they will need to find some way that doesn’t involve the Federal Reserve?

      1. LucyLulu

        IIRC, the Federal Reserve is also a bank and not a court of law, even if they do operate with impunity from the courts.

      2. LucyLulu

        And as a result of the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, defines legal tender as “United States coins and currency are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.”, the Federal Reserve would have no choice but to accept the $1 trillion platinum coin.

    2. Nathanael

      Obama does like breaking the law, so it is no surprise that he’d rather break the law than mint the entirely-legal platinum coin.

  13. The Obama Presidential Library, Jeddah

    So we have advances in international criminal law including a definition of criminal aggression, foreign prosecution of US torturers, and ICJ consideration of individual human rights abuses.

    How does the US adapt to these advances? By giving culpable heads of state a Hussein-style republican guard!

  14. JohnB

    An interesting angle on the reasons for cracking down on copyright infringement, in the TorrentFreak article:

    Finally, TorrentFreak also confirmed that the alerts outlined above will also apply to business customers. This means that coffee shops and other small businesses will have to be very careful over who they allow on their company networks. It could mean the end of free WiFi in many places.

    Free WiFi will, through the future, be a threat to the telecom industry itself, since a widescale rollout of that would obsolete the need for private voice/text/internet services (or rather, put a very competitive price floor on those services), and this may cripple that potential, through making such a widescale service litigiously impractical.

    The flaw in this viewpoint though, is that the ISP’s are still currently fighting against, not for, these liabilities being put on them…for now.

  15. different clue

    Comments way upthread raise an interesting question about what FDA does and does not regulate in the field of GMOs. I have gone round and round with somebody over that. Somebody firmly believes that FDA regulates all GMOs. I firmly believe that FDA ONly regulates those GMOs which have been gene-modded to speCIFically produce something of nutritional or pharmaceutical interest to the humans ingesting that nutri-something or pharma-something. I firmly believe that if the gene-modding is for a strictly agroNOMic feature . . . like Roundup Readiness in soybeans or BT toxin expression in corn to fight insects . . . the FDA could give a rat’s ass about the ingestion-effects of those things on humans.

    I continue to believe that when “various people” demanded the FDA do some kind of regulating of Roundup Ready soybeans, for example; the FDA waddled over to its High and Mighty Throne and declared Ex Cathedra from atop its Seat Of Power that Roundup Ready soybeans and ANY OTHER such agronomy-focused GMOs are Hereby Declared to be “substantially equivalent” to non-GMOd soybeans, corn, etc. And therefor not needing any FDA regulation at all. None whatsoever. No evidence required. No studies needed. No nothing. Thus spake FDA-thustra.

    But I have zero proof for my belief in this regard. All I know is that I “read it somewhere”. Does anyone have any
    courtroom quality PROOF one way OR the other way about whether FDA regulates agronomic-focused GMOs? Courtroom quality proof with legally bulletproof language like “docket numbers” and “rule headings” and “sections” and “clauses” and all those other things which CANnot be denied?

  16. different clue

    And another thing . . . what is Monsanto’s “state purpose” behind the development of Roundup Ready alfalfa?
    We suspect what their real purpose is. Their real goal seems to be to contaminate all alfalfa seeds everywhere with detectable traces of Monsanto’s traceably branded “patented genes”. The purpose behind that goal is to trespass onto farm fields and “find” gene-traces of Monsanto-brand genes and them declare themselves to be Shocked! Shocked! to find the farmer growing Monsanto-brand alfalfa without paying for it.
    And Monsanto will then extort payment with threat of lawsuits against every such contaminated-and-trespassed-against farmer. Their longest-term purpose is to exterminate every source and sale of alfalfa seed beyond their own rent-seeking toll-chiseling gene-branded seed monopoly.

    We all suspect that is the Real reason that Monsanto has created Roundup Ready alfalfa. But what is their “stated” reason? Have they even bothered to offer a “stated” reason?

    1. Aquifer

      Yup – it’sabout gaining control of the food supply – methinks folks don’t really get it, or they don’t believe it. When you tell them about Percy Schmeisser (sp?), e.g. it doesn’t really register what this means …..

      Ironically by the time folks win the labeling fight it may well be a moot point – it’ll all be GMO …

      1. different clue

        It may NOT be a moot point. The battle remains worthwhile.

        What is in itself ironic is the purity-purist deathwish suicidal posture adopted by the Organic Food Sector; whereby if one GMO sequence among a million normal sequences is detected, the Organic Buyer rejects the whole Organic Shipment. That is also what Monsanto/Syngenta/Dow/etc. are counting on. As long as the Organic Buyers will reject a shipment for one GMO gene in a million non GMO genes, the GMO conspirators only have to contaminate organic crops with one sequence in a million and the Organic Buyers will put the Organic Growers out of bussiness. And then the Organic Buyers will follow the Organic Growers out of bussiness.

        Maybe the ultimate end-of-the-food-chain organic customers in homes/restaurants/etc. will have to start thinking about the difference about GMO traces in general, as against the rent-seeker toll-chiseler GMO Conspiracy Companies in particular. If the end-user buyers can become clear on the difference, maybe the Organic Growers and Organic Buyers can afford to become clear on the difference before they all commit bussiness suicide from their own devotion to Purity Purism.

  17. Ruben

    The picture in Dean Baker’s Guardian article is priceless.
    So much banality, pretense, posturing.

Comments are closed.