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Links 2/20/13

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Bhutan to be first country to go 100% organic Nation of Change (furzy mouse)

Chip daddy Mead: ‘A bunch of big egos’ are strangling science The Register (John M)

Massive 300 million-year-old asteroid impact zone discovered in Australian outback AFP

Supreme Court Appears to Defend Patent on Soybean New York Times :-(

China to introduce carbon tax MacroBusiness

Britain ‘on the brink’ of energy crisis, warns chief executive of Ofgem Telegraph

Dying Alone Becomes New Normal as Japan Spurns Confucius Bloomberg

World’s first home for transgender elderly AFP

Cardinal Favored to Become First Black Pope Blames Gay Priests for the Church’s Sexual Abuse Scandals Gawker (Lambert)

Poverty, Squalor and Nuns CounterPunch (Carol B)

Aaron Swartz’s FBI File DSWright, Firedoglake

What the One-Percent Heard at the State of the Union Counterpunch (Carol B)

Catfood watch:

New Simpson-Bowles plan: how it envisions a sustainable fiscal path for US Christian Science Monitor (furzy mouse)

Macroeconomic Advisers on the Sequester’s Impact Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser. I’m sure Hugh wouid have a thing or two to say about these baseline forecasts. One fundamentally-oriented hedgie I know (yes, a sad and lonely place to be) points out that only 1/3 of the GDP is based on actual measurements, and 2/3 is imputed. The 1/3 that is measured is still below 2007 levels, and he is duly skeptical of the rest

Justices Take Case on Overall Limit to Political Donations New York Times. Reminds me that maybe I need to use my American miles to scope out where to emigrate. Countries that will take older not rich people are very few, sadly.

MSNBC boldly moves to plug its one remaining hole Glenn Greenwald. Ugh.

Georgia inmate Warren Hill granted stay of execution 30 minutes before lethal injection Guardian

Gun Safety Advocates Force NRA Backed Democrat Out Of Congressional Race ThinkProgress (furzy mouse)

The Geography of Happiness According to 10 Million Tweets Atlantic. Lambert: “Maine is the second happiest state. If that’s true, the country is in far worse shape than I thought.”

The virtues of being unreasonable on Keystone Grist (Sven)

When Prostitution Wasn’t a Crime: The Fascinating History of Sex Work in America Alternet

From the persecuting to the protective state? Jewish expulsions and weather shocks from 1100 to 1800 VoxEU

Blavatnik hits out at ‘arrogant’ JPMorgan Financial Times

There’s Still a Foreclosure Crisis Counterpunch (Carol B)

Markets: In search of a fast buck Financial Times (furzy mouse)

It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk New York Times. You can be sure there will be a lot of web chatter about this story…Foretold by Jamie Galbraith in Predator Nation.

THIS IS HOW YOU HEALTHCARE: AMERICAN DEATH IN LONDON NSFW. Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

Bonus antidote. Furzy mouse sent a “Welcome to Australia” series, of which this was a part:

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131 comments

  1. fresno dan

    MSNBC boldly moves to plug its one remaining hole Glenn Greenwald

    Just more documentation that FOX isn’t “conservative” and MSNBC isn’t “liberal” – they are more like advertizing agencies for a product (aka “president”). The ONLY important point is the amount of revenue your “product” brings in.

    The contortions that supporters as well as critics go through to support their own and criticise their opponents when they do the very same things is hilarious, except for the minor side effect of the country being destroyed…

    1. Brindle

      The country being destroyed is a feature–not a bug.

      Just as the destruction of the Arctic Ice Sheet is being welcomed by some for easier exploration for oil & minerals, the ongoing decline in quality of life for most Americans is seen as opportunity for those who know when “dazed and confused”, people’s discernment and judgment is not at the highest of levels.
      Basic Shock Doctrine.

      1. davidgmills

        While the arctic ice is shrinking, the antarctic ice is steadily growing. Overall ice is about the same as ti has been for the last 30 years. And the northern hemisphere just had record snow cover for December. And January snow cover was 6th all time. Inconvenient facts.

        1. different clue

          Ehhh..vry fact is saaa cred.
          Ehhh..vry fact is gooood.
          Ehhh..vry fact is neeee ded.
          In your neigh bor hooood.

    2. scott

      MSNBC stopped being news year ago. Now they have two new members of the back-slapping party as they celebrate the destruction of the productive class. Only problem, their 50,000 viewers are already converted. The need a new audience.

      How about GCNBC, 24-hour gun control opinion? Or change the name to CBNdeMS and start brodcasting in Spanish, since that’s the future of both parties?

  2. Chris Rogers

    ‘This is How You Healthcare: An American Death in London’

    And people wonder why I’m a Socialist and vehemently opposed to neoliberalism: -

    “By now I am convinced that the NHS – and I hyperbolise, but only slightly – is the greatest achievement of humankind, the nearest we get to a benevolent deity, a goddamn superhero. It is an imperfect manifestation of a beautiful ideal – free care based on need, free care for all, without judgement, without reservation.”

    One of man kinds greatest achievements and testament to all that is positive about social democracy and egalitarianism – The NHS.

    1. FlimFlamMan

      Unfortunately 2013 is the year the NHS dies as a genuine national health service, at least in England, thanks to the Health and Social Care bill. Scotland is different, retaining control of the NHS there.
      And speaking of Scotland; perhaps that is the answer to Yves’ search for pastures new and less tainted, especially if they vote for independence next year. I didn’t think a ‘yes’ vote was likely at first, but I’m thinking now that it could be close.

      1. Chris Rogers

        As with Scotland, Wales and the Welsh Assembly have the direct exercise of power over the NHS in my country – I do feel sorry for the English though, still Thatcher, Major, Blair and now Cameron desire a English health service based on the US model – why the fuck anyone wishes to live in England, specifically London, beats me – still, as with many Scots, one day I hope my nation will be finally free of the English/City of London yoke – we don’t have much time for neoliberalism where I hail from thankfully.

        1. FlimFlamMan

          Indeed, Wales too, although Wales is quite a bit further from independence than Scotland, if polls are to be believed. I don’t think England is the problem though, but then I would say that, being English. It’s very much Westminster and ‘The City’ of London, and the people they actually represent. Who do they represent? Well, it’s interesting that you use the word yoke… even some of us English swine are still pretty ticked off about 1066.

    2. ginnie nyc

      I’m sorry to say, but just this week the Conservative (excuse me, Coalition) government has been floating plans to exclude EU nationals from the NHS, requiring at least 5 years residency and proof of employment. Other entertaining numbers are 10 and 13 years. They also want to eliminate NHS treatment for non-EU nationals beyond A&E (Emergency Rm).

      1. craazyman

        That’s the most disgusting antidote in the history of the internet.

        Is Richard Smith behind that somehow? No pun intended. bowhahahahah. I guess all the hot Australian women are at the beach.

        Or maybe that’s not a sheep. It’s a precious metals investor taking it up the _____. It begins with an “A”.

        Isn’t Maine where all those Stephen King psychos live? I can’t believe he made all that up by himself. Maybe they’re so crazy they’re happy. They must not be in SLV or GLD. Well, no man knoweth the day or the hour. But getting the year right would be nice. I don’t want to have to work for a living.

        Nobody works for a living anymore. You either get paid to do basically nothing but dress up in a suit and tie and go to meetings. Or you work all day and don’t get paid a living wage. Either way, you’re not working for a living.

    1. Chris Rogers

      Its utterly impossible to have a ‘Big Society’ in a neoliberal wonderland, as Mrs. Thatcher famously quoted in the 1980′s: “There is no such thing as society, only individuals.:

      And it is this emphasis on individualism, specifically by our ruling elite and the MSM that is fucking over most Western societies, all in the interests of deepening their already deep pockets – still, such things provide some employment, particularly for those well versed in management speak!!!!!!!

      1. Charles LeSeau

        That Thatcher quote has always made me groan. If there’s no society then there should be no countries, laws, protected property, etc. Maggie’s whole job there was to protect the very thing she represented in her tenure as PM. It is the wealthiest people who need society and laws the most, as they have the most to lose and thus to protect. This is why these supposed government haters love government military and police so much. People who agree with Thatcher on this idea are truly the most “have your cake and eat it too” types I’ve ever seen, and boy have they been coming out of the woodwork the last few decades.

        1. Chris Rogers

          Charles Sir,

          Not too sure if you reside in the UK or are posting from the US, regardless of this fact, and germane to my own reference point on Thatcher and society is the fact that under the present neoliberal intoxicated UK coalition government – Tories and Lib Dems – the forces of law and order and our military capabilities are being sacrificed on the alter of austerity which is informed by a neoliberal zealotry unheard of by Thatcher and her acolytes.

          Indeed, such are the present cuts to law and order, never mind the military, that within the next few years our ruling elite will have to call on mercenaries to protect it from vast swathes of the UK’s population – something not seen since the Middle Ages.

          In a nutshell, our present Administration is so addled with neoliberalism that its in danger of consuming itself as it strives to reach the apex/nirvana of neoliberalism, namely, the dissolution of the state itself.

          Absolute madness if you ask me!

          1. different clue

            And what would prevent those mercenaries from deciding to exterminate the “present” government and appoint themselves the “new” government?

  3. jake chase

    Anybody thinking of buying a house, or who still has money for anything else, had better read ‘there’s still a foreclosure crisis’(linked above), which confirms what I have long suspected.

    Accounting seems to have become another branch of public relations. Today’s assets have no value, just prices, and where the prices are going next, nobody knows.

    I am not betting on any recovery, but I think one has to be crazy to short this market, so I am temporarily paralyzed and own only three stocks, two of which went down big yesterday while everything else went up.

    I confess I no longer understand this game. Who thinks he does?

    1. AbyNormal

      i feel ya jake.
      i use to spend days studying mistakes…now days i spend most market hours trying not to beat myself into a coma.
      the days when i can pretend im functioning…im ‘helping’ elderly family members untwist why their annuities are losing money…another year of this ‘economy’ an i won’t be able to spell function

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Jake,

      Appreciate what you said: … “I no longer understand this game. Who thinks he does?”

      Not me, nor do I understand what is occurring. Not having a seat in the room at the FRBNY’s morning meetings with the Primary Dealers; nor access to broad and deep global market information, capital flows, and central bank policy formation, I think it is very difficult for independent small retail traders with very limited capital. So, I’m not a market participant.

      There do seem to be a number of guys around who – like you have said in the past – trade on the basis of price movements in securities and across various markets based on primary trends, market ratios and technical indicators who have made a living trading securities, both for themselves and others. If you’re not familiar with them, Barry Ritholtz and Bill Cara are two such folks whose blogs I have read from time to time in the past.

      In terms of current market conditions, I did notice that the $54.6 billion QE the Fed put into the Primary Dealers’ accounts from 2/7-2/13 didn’t really push this market up, and that interest rates on bonds have recently risen too. So, where have all the FedBux gone?… or are those halycon days for the Street and stock options recipients when perpetual QE fueled a perpetual ramp in equities and bond prices over?… Too soon to tell IMHO.

      I did notice that since Nov 1, the Fed’s balance sheet has increased by a little over $250 billion dollars while the ECB’s balance sheet for the same period contracted by about 285 billion euros. Coincidence?…

      Just my observations.

      1. jake chase

        The Fed is buying everything in sight; the banks aren’t lending to business, but they are lending to hedge funds; stocks keep going up; deals keep being made; gold is starting to crater. I cannot find a stock with ANY visible support within 10-15% of current prices.

        I just liquidated one third of my portfolio. Now I have two stocks and am ashamed of both of them. Well, tomorrow’s another day. Wish I was still capable of working.

        1. different clue

          Are they stocks in companies that make or do something useful? That will remain useful and wanted as the economy continues its long decline?

          1. different clue

            One can’t have blogging without computers. And one can’t
            have computers without chips. So as long as Intel keeps making useful chips, Intel remains a useful company . . . till the economy is so crashed that computers can no longer be made or maintained or operated. Till then, if I had Intel, I wouldn’t be ashamed. I might be chagrined if the stock were worth “less” than it “should be”. But I wouldn’t be ashamed of the stock.

            Now Monsanto, on the other hand . . . I would consider owning shares in Monsanto somewhat like having Child Snuff Porn on my computer. If I were perverted enough to own Monsanto, I will still have the good public-appearances sense to keep quiet about it.

          2. davidgmills

            I own Exxon and whatever other garbage my broker has me invested in. Why Exxon? Because the BTU (British Thermal Unit) and the KWH (Kilowatt Hour) seem like the only legitimate currencies to me right now.

          3. Furzy Mouse

            INTC is the last stock that I own…but with the tablets taking over the laptop market, it seems their chips are not much in favor, hence it has become the proverbial dog…woof woof…real question is why I have not sold it!?

    3. curlydan

      I was shocked to read in the CounterPunch article that Blackstone just spent $2.7T to buy 17K houses. I mean that’s $159K per house. I suspect that translates to roughly $1,600/month in rent to make a decent return assuming full year tenancy. I just don’t see that working unless Blackstone sees big inflation and/or _much_ lower home ownership rates in the future.

    4. Susan the other

      Caveat Banksers. Marcy Kaptur understands it. She actually understands MERS. Yes MERS. She has introduced House Bill 189 the Transparancy Security in Mortgage Registration Act of 2013. The GSEs cannot own or guarantee any mortgage with MERS anywhere in its title chain. Notwithstanding that the title is automatically trashed by MERS. MERS is dead.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        Susan,
        If this piece of legislation passes, and I hope it does, that will be very good news IMO. My concern, though, pertains to those who bought houses with proceeds of mortgage loans where the title was not recorded through the county, but run through MERS, and who have been making their mortgage payments regularly and on a timely basis.

        Should those folks decide to sell their homes, would there be such a cloud on the title that prospective buyers would be unable to get mortgage financing? Or could this flaw in the title chain be overcome through a quitclaim deed or some other legal mechanism?

        Otherwise, I see some potential for more shenanigans through deep sales discounts to bulk buyers, etc.

        I don’t know a great deal about real estate law, so if my understanding about this is wildly off base, please forgive that.

        1. jake chase

          I would worry about marketable title on any house subject to a mortgage within the past fifteen years. None of these mortgages were properly transferred. Nobody knows who really owns them. You pay off claimant A and claimant B shows up two years later. Then what? Title insurance? The entire title insurance industry is ridiculously undercapitalized and hopelessly insolvent.

          Can you imagine demanding a clear chain of title from some servicer with it’s hand out at a closing staffed by the usual twit with two months experience shuffling paper?

          Not sure how to solve this problem. Anyone have any ideas?

          1. davidgmills

            As an attorney, I am not the slightest bit worried, and just bought a house for my daughter that was in foreclosure. Five years ago I bought another house for my other daughter that was in foreclosure.

            Why am I not worried? Because the judges do not care about the law that makes these titles suspect. They understand that applying the law would wreck the whole system. So they systematically find ways to avoid applying present law or make up new law favoring the banks and favoring valid titles.

            It has happened repeatedly all over the country. Challenges to these titles simply fail for whatever reasons the judges can dream up in a particular case. Some time it is based on procedure, somestimes on evidence, and sometimes on just reversing existing real estate law. But they find a way to uphold the titles.

    5. LizinOregon

      I’m late to comments today but have to second the comment about accounting becoming a tool of public relations. As a retired CPA I am constantly stunned at the rot that has infected accounting standards. It was never pristine, but when I was booking and then auditing numbers they were not so subject to interpretation and there was still a fear of the SEC. The numbers were just what they were and the spin was left to the words.

      Having an honest account is fundamental to everything that follows, whether it is numbers or other facts.

      Also, I hope Yves will share her research. For now I live in a small town with good local food resources but would move to another country with more of a community spirit in a minute. And good theater :)

  4. AbyNormal

    “Georgia is the only state in the union that insists prisoners must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they have learning difficulties – a standard that experts say is almost impossible to achieve.”

    hmmmm
    *Georgia ranks 45th based on SAT scores
    (source: http://gaeducation.blogspot.com/2008/08/2008-sat-results-released-georgia-ranks.html)
    *Georgia ranks 41st based on Morgan Quinto Smartest State (2006-2007)
    (source: http://www.morganquitno.com/edrank.htm)
    *Georgia ranks 47th based on Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate for Public High School Students
    (source: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/2007/section3/table.asp?tableID=701)

    i’ll never wrap my pea brain/large heart around this:
    “This was the second time in seven months that Hill has come close to the death chamber: last July he was spared by just 90 minutes and the experience was repeated on Tuesday night with just 30 minutes to go.”

    All cruelty springs from weakness. Seneca

    1. ScottS

      I think the “smartest state” ranking should be renamed “most native English speakers per capita.”

      Intelligently Designed Kansas cannot be in the top 15.

  5. Goin' South

    Re: Greenwald’s post re: MSNBC–

    For the strong of stomach, take a journey into the blogging version of MSNBC, otherwise known as DailyKos.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/20/1188423/-Glenn-Greenwald-Once-Again-Proves-He-is-a-Hate-Oozing-Douche

    Greenwald used to post at DK as did Uygur, Sirota and other occasional critics of The Holy One. People like the “author” of this trash and his supporting commenters ran all of them off.

    It’s obvious that authoritarians have very tender little toes.

    1. ohmyheck

      LOL! Thanks for the laugh first thing in the morning. I wonder if a DailyKos moderator will be coming in here to make apologies for their diarist, like they did previously? THAT was hilarious!

      GREENWALD!!!!!

    2. davidgmills

      I used to go to DailyKos as part of my daily routine even after I was banned shortly after 9/11 for my commentary about my disbelief in the official version of 9/11. Finally just got tired of the same left gate-keeping clap-trap. Haven’t much gone to DailyKos for years.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I get the feeling that it doesn’t matter which economist is theorizing, he/she is likely to not see clearly, for being an economist means you are in an ‘econo’ mist or you’re spreading that mist.

      As we know, visibility is reduced when one is in a mist.

      1. diptherio

        You’re right. Every person occupies a unique position in our society and has had unique life experiences. Both of these are important factors in determining one’s perspective when attempting to describe the economy. The problem I see is that most all economic theorizing is being done by people who, for the most part, occupy relatively similar positions in our socio-economic hierarchy. But where is the economic theory written from the perspective of someone at the bottom? Sure, that economic theory will be subjective as well, but it will also provide valid insights into the functioning of the system that are simply not accessible from other perspectives. We need more perspectives, is what I’m saying.

        The end result of the current hegemony is that even progressive economists, like our beloved MMT friends, all too often overlook aspects of our economy that are of the utmost importance to people like myself. Autonomy in the work place is one of them. No economist (that I know of) has ever addressed the effects of controls on the free speech of employees by management. This is an important issue to me, as I have more than once gotten into hot water with employers for talking to fellow employees about our respective wage levels. But, understandably, if you’ve never had this experience, it might not seem like a big deal to you.

          1. Mel

            Yes! That’s a good book.

            Yesterday’s discussion of Plato’s or Aristotle’s remarks on slavery reminded me of a remark of Fredrick Taylor’s, that workers couldn’t control production because to do that you need a desk, and there aren’t any desks on the shop floor. So of *course* economics from a labor viewpoint is impossible too.

  6. Max424

    re: the NHS over there vs the … hmm… well, nothingness over here

    My final and only wish as a proud American, is that I be made aware of my last approaching hour, so that I can crawl in a dumpster to die alone and forgotten and no burden on my fellow taxpayers.

    My flesh and bone rotting and degrading and my molecules fusing with millions of tons of refuse in some random poisonous landfill. Call me a Romantic Individualist, but that postmortem fate sounds better to me than being buried at Arlington with full colors, and it certainly is a more apropos destination for my remains when considering the time in which I live.

    1. wunsacon

      >> no burden on my fellow taxpayers

      In ~17 years, machines will be doing all the work (including the work of improving themselves). So, by then, if any of us are still alive, you won’t be a burden on “fellow taxpayers”.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It will be a world of the robots, by the robots and for the robots.

        Our best bet might be head-graft, or head-transplant, or if possible, brain implant with/into a cockroach body. With that cockroach body, we can probably space-travel to another planet free of robots.

    2. anyone

      Call me a Romantic Individualist, but that postmortem fate sounds better to me than being buried at Arlington with full colors, and it certainly is a more apropos destination for my remains when considering the time in which I live.

      One response: FUCKIN-A!

      1. davidgmills

        NO Shit! And once they turn that landfill into a natural gas plant, my stored energy can beput to use.

    1. anyone

      The cause is unfettered capitalism and the effect is obvious: human and environmental impoverishment in favor of a handful of “intelligent apes” who have somehow elevated themselves to the level of saints. Hint: they’re not.

  7. Jack Parsons

    From a link the other day:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/13/us-cambodia-china-idUSBRE91C1N320130213

    “The iron ore is destined for the steel plant – by law, ore cannot be exported from Cambodia. Mining experts could not hazard a guess as to how much ore is recoverable in Rovieng and there was no indication of how much steel it would produce and where the products would go.” “by law, ore cannot be exported from Cambodia”

    I’ve often though 3rd World nations should require local processing of natural resources, only shipping finished goods. Looks like someone (Cambodia of all places!) has a clue.

    1. Georgann

      Cambodians get it? And we flounder around talking about “free Trade” lifting all boats?

      the American government should be protecting us from multi national thievery. These monstrous corporations want to be incorporated in Panama – employ slaves in Mexico or Guatemala and import to consumers in America duty free.

      Bull shit.

      Ecuador is an example of the government by and for their own – against such tyranny. I have family in the hotel business… and they get business travelers who say they are moving operations to Quito or Ambato because it’s the only way to sell to that market. Ecuador wants goods made in Ecuador, employing Ecuadorians, to Ecuadorian consumers.

      Is this so difficult to understand? So – if Ecuadorians want a washing machine made in China – it’s more expensive than one made in, say, Brazil… because they have treaties that FAVOR Brazilian and Ecuadorian citizens.

      We are told to hate Chavez in Venezuela because he tossed out the oil companies… I say GOOD… it’s their oil.

      And all these populist, nativist pols in Bolivia and elsewhere are starting a trend. I’m rooting for Peruvians to nationalize those copper mines as well.

      A country’s natural resources belong to the citizens. The citizens are also resources.. and if GE wants this market… let em make their stuff HERE! They want to sell in China .. make it in China!

      How did we swallow whole the multi national mantra that free trade is good for everybody? It’s good for CEO:s stockholders and management of godless, evil corporations.

      1. different clue

        A lot of us never did. Oppostion to NAFTA was strong throughout the MidWest, for example. Also in parts of the textile-making South.

      1. LucyLulu

        I question whether AQIM and friends want to tackle Algeria. Algeria has the resources and the mindset to be a most unwelcome host. I’d think they’d find ample room to hang out in the deserts of Mali, Niger, maybe even Sudan or Chad, and be able to remain fairly close to their Libyan compadres.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    One percent…state of the union…

    Every time people talk about the 1%, the 0.01% smile to themselves.

  9. Lovespeech

    Jewish expulsions and weather shocks from 1100 to 1800?!
    So when Jews were persecuted and murdered in Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries, killed by pro-Nazi Arabs in the 1930s, in Europe during WWII, etc. this was no longer due to 1-2 degree changes in temperature thanks to systemic industrialization, mass productivity and objective academic research?
    Can we find correlation between climate change and the treatment for cockroaches and mice?
    As long as it is all scientific…Thank God for global warming…

    1. Georgann

      Hamilton’s Rule – our brains are hardwired to racism, nativism and xenophobia as an evolutionary strategy to advance the extended family or group… especially in times of famine.

      There has been way too much emigration for our hardwiring to adjust accordingly. It’s one thing for Swedes and Italians to come to America and interbreed… it’s quite another for Nigerians and Turks.

      As to Jews – their ethnocentric economic policies are what have always gotten them in hot water in their host economies.

      When times are tough Hamilton’s Rule is essential to survival.

      Bad weather and crop failures for several years brought down the French Monarchy… and some guilty of only wearing perfume in France.

      As to Jews..well, um, they were and are especially difficult candidate for assimilation. For Jews, ethnocentricity is more than hardwiring… it’s thumped into them from an early age .. there are Jews.. and everybody else.

      Predatory trade and monetary dealings don’t resonate well in the best of economies – but during depression and famine – populations are downright murderous to those who seem immune to deteriorating standards of living.

      The 1% in America are really the 2% of America. Even with rampant censorship of media and the web – people see all the jewels and precious metals in the names of Wall St Gangsters and Fed thieves. So some things just don’t change.

      Blame in on those pesky alleles. They keep telling us that others who look and act like us are friends. Those who don’t look and act like us are the enemy.

        1. Georgann

          Here we go again… 2 evil Goy do NOT negate an entire army of Wall st traders Fed bankers.. Geithner, Rubin, Paulson [tried to hide behind Christian Science with no takers]

          – and the others who DOMINATE the gangster class in DC.

          Look, group characteristics DO matter. Jews in Hollywood have been demonizing Arabs and Aryans with cheap shots at group demonization for the last century WITH IMPUNITY

          Somebody murmurs… “those Jewish people seem to be everywhere in government, media and academia” … and you’d think they’d called for firin up the ovens….

          give me a break

          group philosophy is widespread… agreed upon… and grumbled about from here to Moldovia. If Jews want to be immune to group characterization – they/you can start by operating as individuals rather than cabals.

          end of discussion

          1. different clue

            The Kochs were Jewish? I had thought they were German. Live and learn, I guess. I read on the wiki-site that founder Koch was a chemical engineer who invented a new process for oil refining. I wouldn’t have thought of chemical engineering as a field with Jews in it. Live and learn, I guess.

            Are you saying that the Kleptocracy that commenter Hugh refers to in these threads is really a Jewocracy? And if we outlawed Jews from financial sector involvement, we would not have a Kleptocracy?

        2. Ernesto Lion

          Jews were not religiously banned from the low business of usury. The gentry used Jews to front their usury business so as to save face, and to sacrifice when the peasants revolted.

          The Jews are a convenient scape goats for someone. Who?

      1. ginnie nyc

        Georgeann: I’m afraid Italians, pardon me, dagos, were not very welcome in many locations during late 19th/early 20th century mass immigration. Indeed, in some places they were legally “colored” until the ’30s, and like Jews, had very low quotas in the Ivys, etc. until after WWII.

      2. Shake em till they rattle

        Hey, uh, Georgann, don’t take this the wrong way, but yer sounding kind of loony with this Joo business. People will think that you’re some Israeli agent planting antisemitic stuff in the thread so the Zionazis can scream, ‘SEE, THEY’RE A DEN OF HOLOCAUST-DENYING ANTI-SEMITES!!!!’ Besides, if you really want to piss off the psycho extremist genocidal Jewist Jews, the best way is to point out that their cherished homeland is guilty of crimes against humanity and that any lawyer with a correspondence-course degree could put the whole Israeli government away under Nuremberg rules, much less the more rigorous standards accepted today.

  10. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

    You are always welcome to become a Mongo Resident, Yves.

    Your frequent flier miles transfer over and we can work out an exchange rate for your dollars into photon credits.

    We don’t blog here, per se, but we do have volunteers writing glowing product reviews for the Mongopoly Online Catalog.

    Don’t fret about the outbreak of Mongolian Black Flu I mentioned earlier. A bit of moldy corn took care of all that. (We found out GMO corn doesn’t mold, but we had some of the old kind still around)

    Also, Residents in Good Standing needn’t worry about sandworms.

    You can bring Lambert too, if you wish. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a hippie around?

      1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

        Hmm. No one has visited here since Flash Gordon and Dale were here. Also that writer Frank Herbert.

        Guess not. If the Emperor approves, so be it.

        Check with your health insurer on the health insurance. Mongopoly, Inc. Health Products and Services can bill in dollars for their convenience.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    B.A…file clerk…Predator Nation.

    Art is not about one’s Picasso on the wall, but about being creative in one’s everyday activities. Taking out trash, for example, can be an opportunaity at art.

    Thinking should be done by everyone and not be left just to the mental 0.01%.

    It’s not too hard for anyone, if one practices limit-thinking (take an idea to its logical conclusion) or is curious about reductio ad absurdum, or is interested in making one’s own Zen koans, to ask, who will wait on diners, or shine shoes at the railway station, if everyone is a college graduate?

    Everyone should think for him/herself – that’s what I think.

    Maybe I should edit that to,

    Everyone should think for him/herself – what do you think?

    1. AbyNormal

      We have artists with no scientific knowledge and scientists with no artistic knowledge and both with no spiritual sense of gravity at all, and the result is not just bad, it is ghastly. pirsig

    2. ohmyheck

      My high school freshman daughter was told by her art-sculpture teacher that she “…thinks outside-the-box too much.” He also said that she “thinks too big.”

      As I pulled my jaw up from off the floor, I told her “Good for you!”

      It is an ART class, ffs. File this under “you just cannot make this sh#t up”…

      1. bulfinch

        Hey, he just wants your daughter to be successful and readily accepted by her peers; to not endure the crushing loneliness and isolation so often concomitant to the outsider, [see Colin Wilson's The Outsider.] Thinking or feeling too deeply has little dividends in the way of money, fame or power. Best to just stick with a known schematic and allow for the the bland to lead the blind into a safe little place where no-one will get their nose out-of-joint about anything. The nail which sticks out, must be hammered in!

        (ahem)

      2. different clue

        A real mental discipline for your daughter might be to learn how to think small and inside the box at times, to see what it feels like. She should obviously keep thinking big and outside the box too, of course.

        But if she learned to think small and inside the box at times of her own choosing, she could change up between one approach and the other, and really throw her art teacher off balance.

    3. Chauncy Gardiner

      Re: …”or shine shoes at the railway station”…

      Uh, Prime, we regret to inform you that along with the public water district, the public electric utility, the public airport and port facility, the bridges, the local parks and associated mineral and timber rights, and the ferry system, that the railway station and mass transit system are to be sold to a group of private international investors who are funding their acquisition with a combination of private bank debt financing and a private placement through a consortium of major global banks. These sales of publicly owned properties are necessary to enable the City and State to fund our operating budget, meet our debt servicing and pension obligations, and to continue to provide critical public services to the community.

      Please disregard the fact that money and its distribution are human constructs. Money is in terribly short supply these days and we all must be mindful of the need for Austerity and a balanced budget in all our endeavors.

      Oh, and by the way, the new owners have notified the City that they will no longer be renting space in the railway station to those college graduates who desire to shine shoes.

    4. anon y'mouse

      i think that all jobs that need to be done are just fine. the problem is not with the jobs per se (shoe-shining, sanitation work, schlepper for fancy-ass lawyers) but with the:

      a) pay that requires you to live with 5 other people for the rest of your life, whether related or not to you and eat ramen for dinner. once a month you might be able to have coffee at a cafe’ with your friends, if you’ve ‘been good’ at your lipton-tea-&-brownbagged lunch

      b) attitude of those who rely upon you to provide the service they desire/request/demand as their natural right, and take your relative status as the waiter to their waitee (or employee to their employer, often enough) to indicate something (almost always negative) about your worth as an individual, intelligence level, moral rectitude and so on.

      the worst of these will almost always reinforce their dominance with “the customer/boss is always right!” even when he’s throwing a tantrum that we don’t carry the size of envelopes he requires anymore, even though we only sold 5 individual ones out of a box of 500 within the last year, and they were all to him.

      or, in the case of the employer, wonder why you’re upset that he just jacked you out of being paid for hours actually worked by shaving off here and there to what seems “reasonable to accomplish the task in” even though that was a reasonable time…for -3- people to do it and you are working alone.

      i don’t mind any job. anything that requires a person to do it to address a real need should be done well, but it should also pay enough for at least the individual doing it to live within a reasonable travelling distance (no 2 hours of public transit each way because you don’t pay me enough to afford a car and the apartments closer are all totally beyond affordability–you don’t pay me for those 2 hours but they are nevertheless GONE from my lifespan).

      another thing consistently unaddressed is that a lot of the (crap) work we do is simply paper-shuffling, bureaucratic, ass-covering stuff built in to justify heirarchical controls (and pay scales) and playing politics to people who should be focused on the job and not their own private popularity contests.

      disgruntled enough for ya?

  12. Klassy!

    Loved all the Counterpunch links. I’m starting to get the feeling that this Mike Whitney is not exactly buying the housing recovery story.
    The Nuns and squalor article goes well with Susan the Other’s comment on nonprofits yesterday. You could level the same criticism at both NGOs and the nuns– that they don’t question why their work is needed, but I would say the nuns are more insulated from this criticism.
    It is interesting that the protestants that he spoke to of the nuns would point out that nuns sought conversions. Might be true, but it also seems like those making these remarks have such a materialist conception of the world that they can’t see the nuns work any other way.

    1. Ned Ludd

      I volunteered locally for various groups that help homeless people, including a shelter run by the Catholic Church. The operation of the shelter was completely secular. I once volunteered with an evangelical Christian; she was put off that there was no praying or praising God or proselytizing for Jesus.

      Homeless people that I talked to made a point of praising the Catholic Church for not proselytizing – in contrast to a local Protestant charity where the founder loved the spotlight and loved talking about Jesus.

      1. diptherio

        My experience in Nepal was much the same. The only Xian proselytizers were protestants of the born-again, fundamentalist, Jack Chick variety. The Catholics have a comparatively decent record of respecting indigenous cultures (not that that’s saying a whole lot).

        OTOH, my ma’s Methodist congregation is headed by an ex-Nun who left the Catholic church because she thought it was BS that she wasn’t allowed to give sermons, sacraments, etc. Her new church, St. Paul’s UMC, does a good deal of social work with the local homeless population, and doesn’t proselytize to people who come for assistance. They’re also LGBTIQ-friendly, FWIW.

      2. ginnie nyc

        That was also my admittedly limited experience. I volunteered to work in the kitchen of the Catholic Worker house on the Bowery some time ago; absolutely no religious preaching or ID whatsoever (I was an atheist of long-standing at the time). I was particularly impressed that we, the workers, acted as waiters – we served the homeless as in a restaurant. They didn’t have to wait in line in front of the soup pot.

        However, the Cardinal at the time destroyed the team running the house because the lead guy was an out gay man, who had written articles for the newsletter with exceedingly mild references to the existence of such persons. He was made to quit and there was a counterrevolution in the management.

        1. Klassy!

          Yes, I knew an atheist that was involved with The Catholic Worker house in Chicago. I can’t imagine any careerism there (or among the nuns).

  13. Francesco

    It is not too late to insist on the necessity of symmetric adjsutment.
    Generalizing the German export-led model to the rest of Europe would work only if hte rest of hte worlds were experiencing robust growth, and if the ECB were willing to let the dollar slide.

    And even assuming this were the case, are we sure that we want the second economy of the world to rely on external demand for its growth?

    I think the eurozone needs domestic rebalancing, and that that can only happen if the burden is equally shared. reflation in Germany would support aggregate demand in the eurozone as a whole, nad make adjustment in the periphery less painful. The one-size-fits-all austerity is killing all of us (and eventually Germany)

  14. Furzy Mouse

    Re: Nuns in India….I was raised (sternly and hypocritically) Catholic, now a Buddhist for many years…but here in Thailand I bow to the many gracious, giving and cheerful! nuns raising the homeless kids here in Thailand. Perhaps a generous heart is the greatest path to happiness.

    1. Jagger

      —-Perhaps a generous heart is the greatest path to happiness—-

      Absolutely without a doubt, the secret to happiness.

  15. Gil Gamesh

    Bhutan goes organic! This outrage will not stand.

    The CIA, under contract to Monsanto, will engineer a coup and install a neo-liberal government, headed by a Bhutanese who attended Harvard. In the name of efficiency and free markets, industrialized agribusiness will be heavily subsidized, in large part by high interest loans from the World Bank using Bhuttanese womwn between the ages of 16 to 24 as collateral.

    How dare any country reject the genius of Amerivan capitalism.

      1. ohmyheck

        Here is a nice piece (of propoganda?) about Bhutan:

        http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/03/bhutan/larmer-text

        Bhutan’s Enlightened Experiment
        Guided by a novel idea, the tiny Buddhist kingdom tries to join the modern world without losing its soul.(snip) King Jigme Singye Wangchuck would go much further. With the self-confidence of a ruler whose country has never been conquered, he has tried to dictate the terms of Bhutan’s opening—and in the process redefine the very meaning of development. The felicitous phrase he invented to describe his approach: GNP = Gross National Happiness.

        For many Bhutanese, this idea is not merely a marketing tool or a utopian philosophy. It is their blueprint for survival. Guided by the “four pillars of Gross National Happiness”—sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation, and good governance—–

        Oh well…

        1. diptherio

          Yes, unfortunately “cultural preservation” means oppression for failing to wear traditional garb or (especially) for not speaking the official language. Many of the refugees are ethnically Nepali and were persecuted for continuing to speak their own language (and note that ethnic Nepalis had lived in that area for centuries).

          But the monarchy does an excellent PR job. Our university has sent a couple of delegations over on official junkets, mostly from the Enviro. Science dept. They come back with lots of pretty slides, good things to say about the government’s agricultural policies, and no clue about the cultural repression.

          Wouldn’t life be so much easier if things were black and white? {sigh}

  16. CB

    When I graduated HS in 1961, my HS’ biggest boast was the high percentage of its grads who went to college: a keen competition in the suburbs of my day. When I graduated college in the mid 60s, we joked that pretty soon you’d need a PhD to be a janitor. The pressure for college degrees is older by at least some decades than recent. And there was at the time an informed opinion that it was the colleges who sparked and fanned the flames of that nonsense because they saw it as a business oppportunity.

    There have always been entry pre-requisites. Industries, especially unionized shops, often require family connections: you can get the craft training without too much resistance, but a job requires connection. I’ll bet anthropologists can cite chapter and verse on tribes and clans. Guilds, anyone? The Order of the Garter? Any of the royal orders of exalted association? It’s how humans clump together. College degrees, while expensive and sometimes besides the point, may be more democratic than other requirements, altho the costs are making college increasingly undemocratic. But then, the whole country is going undemocratic. There’s something about hierarchies that appeals to humans.

      1. CB

        Humans identify up. And authoritarianism appeals to some people. I’m thinking most of the people being squeezed into the lower orders still haven’t come to a realistic view of their circumstances.

    1. Lidia

      Recently saw a help-wanted ad for a dishwasher that required not only a criminal background check but 3 dishwashing references!

      Orwell would have starved in modern-day America.

  17. Eric Titus

    “Bhutan becomes the first nation to go 100% organic!”

    Wasn’t everywhere organic around, say, 1950?

    1. Mel

      That was the age of DDT, but pull back some — a century ago “organic chemistry” was getting established, and that’s one of the big enemies of modern organicism — and yeah, the world was organic.

    2. CB

      In the 50s and 60s, Lacey Twnshp NJ was sprayed regularly with DDT by plane. We were told to cover food and food prep counters. There were, as I remember, no warnings about being out and about in the stuff and in any case, there was no getting away from it.

      1. JohnL

        Still going on. I was sprayed walking in Cheesequake park a couple years ago. Mosquitos. Not DDT any more, but still glad I’m not a bee.

  18. Hugh

    Re those Menzie Chinn baselines, real GDP grew 2.2% annually in 2012 but it decreased a tenth of a percent in the 4th quarter. So it is surprising that Chinn would be forecasting, with that weak 4th quarter, the end of the payroll tax cut, and austerity in the air, 2.6% growth in 2013 to start with. And then an even stronger 3.3% growth in 2014. Isn’t this just the umpteenth iteration of the recovery taking hold? But what never seems clear is where exactly this recovery is going to come from. It’s not going to come from cash strapped and deeply indebted Americans. Government isn’t expanding. Europe looks to be contracting and China slowing so where except in the Wall Street casino is there any potential for growth?

    And then Chinn factors in the sequester and comes up with slower growth in 2013 (2%) and paradoxically somewhat better growth in 2014 (3.4%). By 2015, it’s a wash with or without the sequester.

    I can see where the sequester would reduce GDP in 2013. What is interesting about Chinn is that even with the sequester the forecast is still for no recession, just slower growth. But the rationale for better growth in 2014 because the Fed would continue to keep interest rates near zero seems screwy. The Fed has already signaled that it would keep interest rates low out as far as anyone can see. So how come this has not already been factored in? How come too is it that low interest rates have not boosted economic growth already?

    As for the jobs numbers 700,000 jobs lost because of the sequester is closer to a half percent change in the unemployment rate than a quarter. The civilian labor force is about 155.7 million, and it doesn’t matter if some of these come from the armed forces (which are not counted as part of the labor force) because they would likely still be looking for work and at that point would be civilian and would be counted as unemployed in the labor force. The 7.4% unemployment rate cited is also a bit of a mystery. The current official unemployment rate is 7.9% and even with seasonal adjustments (which could prove spurious if the economy softens further) it is hard to see it going to 7.4%. And of course, the official unemployment rate continues to understate the problem by at least 4.7%.

    My take away from Chinn is an endorsement of austerity. It will hurt a little at the start but its effects will quickly dissipate. I also see Chinn making an argument for permanent unemployment of around 7.4%. And I guess we could call this structural because whatever its genesis, if it’s permanent, at some point we have to call it structural.

    Like so many Chinn continues to take GDP as the measure for the economy, but who really cares if GDP grows if most or all of the gains from that growth go to the 1%? Similarly, Chinn just assumes that high unemployment can go on forever without explosion. This reflects the commoditization of the worker we have been talking about. Labor isn’t a person. It is an input to be treated like a ton of copper or a pile of coal.

    1. different clue

      Instead of calling it “structural”, we could perhaps call
      the unemployment “structured”, as in “structured on purpose by design”. We could also call it “disemployment”. If those words are no good, feel free to ignore them.

  19. different clue

    I notice that the NyTimes article about Supreme Court sides with Monsanto made the link-submitter sad. But I think there is a bright side to an SC decision for Monsanto.

    It will continue to foster growing resentment and then hatred for Monsanto out in Farm Country. Combined with a growing market for Certified FrankenFree beans, the push-pull of punitive patent pricing (“technology fees”) combined with growing evidence of no better yield from Monsanto’s frankenbeans, combined with growing evidence of obvious long-term soil pollution from glyphosate may lead to a sudden sunsetting and bitter abandonment of Roundup Ready soybeans sometime in the next 5 to 15 years.

    “FrankenFree” does not have to mean “organic”. “Conventional” was also “FrankenFree” by default and definition before the advent of GMOd seed releases. When parts of the Conventional Food System industry begin labelling their product as Certified FrankenFree or Certified No GMOs or at least Certified GMO Contamination beLOW 1%, then a very big escape hatch will be opened for Conventional Farmers to run off the Monsanto Plantation. They could even create a Mr. CleanGenes logo or symbol to pay homage to the old Mr. GreenJeans of Captain Kangaroo fame.

    1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

      You do have a ways to go yet.

      ——————————————
      The Windup Girl is a biopunk science fiction novel written by Paolo Bacigalupi and published in September 2009.

      Setting

      The Windup Girl is set in 23rd century Thailand. Global warming has raised the levels of world’s oceans, carbon fuel sources have become depleted, and manually wound springs are used as energy storage devices. Biotechnology is dominant and mega corporations like AgriGen, PurCal and RedStar (called calorie companies) control food production through ‘genehacked’ seeds, and use bioterrorism, private armies and economic hitmen to create markets for their products. Frequent catastrophes, such as deadly and widespread plagues and illness, caused by genetically modified crops and mutant pests, ravage entire populations. The natural genetic seed stock of the world’s plants has been almost completely supplanted by those that are genetically engineered to be sterile.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Windup_Girl

      1. different clue

        Yowee. There are many things I should be reading, and that sounds like one of those things. It does seem as if The Windup Girl envisions a future where huge non-elite masses of exploitable people are kept alive to exploit.

        Has anyone imagined in story form a future wherein the Global Overclass . . . the Super Duper Highest-level Elite, have decided to exterminate most of the world’s people altogether and then come out of their “gated cadillac bunkers” when the Great DieOff has finished? The Doomsday Seed Vault at Svaalbard certainly seems like a “real life” preparation for elite re-emergence after a carefully engineered Great KillOff to me.
        http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/doomsday-seed-vault-in-the-arctic-by-f-william-engdahl-gmo/

        Or perhaps the story could include how some non-elite people (the heroes and sheroes of the story) remain alive in the teeth of every Upper Class ffort to manage the global ecosystem downward in a totalistic effort to kill them all. The story could be titled Guidestones To Georgia or Georgia Guide Stonehenge or some better title which smarter people than me could think up.

        1. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

          There are lots of them where “The Great DieOff” happens more or less by accident or cascade of unfortunate events and bad decisions.

          But I’m having trouble thinking of any where it’s simple design from the start and then the Morlocks emerge from their guilded hiddy holes and live happily ever after.

          Maybe writers decided that scenario is too simple and couldn’t come up with an interesting plot?

          1. different clue

            A really good writer could come up with a good plot for that simple scenario. He/she could take it as an artistic challenge. I bet Kurt Vonnegut coulda done it.

  20. bulfinch

    RE: Dying alone in Japan — This shift in values [noble obligation] is truly saddening, but has probably been in the mail for quite a long time. It’s a theme Ozu visited in a few of his films from the 60′s.

    I saw something on CNN a few years back about how several young adults here in America would view their own parent’s death as something of a relief. Damn…

    I love old people!

    1. AbyNormal

      In olden times respect was shown to age
      And youth revered the hoary-headed sage
      But times have changed, the old are flung aside
      To clear the way for youthful prating pride.

      Oft have I seen the self-conceited youth,
      As ignorant of manners as of truth,
      Ignore old men and hold them up to scorn
      As garments which should be no longer worn.

      Should young America this course pursue
      And rob the aged of their rightful due!
      Is this her boast? then let it be her shame–
      A cloud to hide the glory of her name.

      A crown of glory is the hoary head
      To him who is by truth and virtue led,
      And those old veterans in the cause of truth
      Should get the homage of our rising youth.

      Experience teaches, and the aged should
      Know what is bad and what is truly good,
      And so the young who venture on life’s stage
      Should take their counsel from the hoary sage.

      Our clever youth oft make it a pretense
      To mock old men found limited in sense;
      ‘Tis wickedness, their age commands respect
      And therefore none should treat them with neglect.
      ~S.Moore

    2. different clue

      Could it be that for most of time society and technology changed slowly enough that living longer meant learning more about how to survive in a semi-unchanged world? And older people had knowledge and wisdom which younger people could see themselves benefit from?

      Whereas now society and technology change so fast that many younger people may well think “what good are rotary phone people in a smart phone era? What could they possibly know that applies to me today?” Of course as economies begin collapsing downward, the “rotary phone” knowledge of yesterday may become the “talking drum” knowledge of tomorrow. One hopes some younger people value that potential in some old people.

  21. bulfinch

    Well beyond perfunctory respect, I actually love old people. Always have. Even a relative simpleton who has several years on a young and lettered turk is going to reveal some unique insights or otherwise entertaining yarns which should be treasured.

  22. Kaz Augustin

    That can’t be part of a “Welcome to Australia” series. I am the same colour as the man in the photo and was always told that, despite my Australian education and citizenship, I am not a Real Australian(tm).

  23. diane

    Uuggh, received a cellphone call (phone number: Unavailable ) from someone calling themselves, DOCTOR [ redacted] from The California Narcotics Officer’s Association (which term I’ve never heard used). At first, given his tone, I thought I had been snagged up in some sort of thoroughly corrupt Empire of California/FED sting operation. But then! … he went on to inform that he was fund raising .(for decades, I received calls from a Sly Con Valley Police Officer’s Association regarding a fund raising ball, but never: The California Narcotics Officers Association) …….I guess that Good Doctor doesn’t have too many actual patients, since he called me from an unavailable number ,….in the middle of the day, fund raising for The LAW! when he likely doesn’t even answer his patients pleas for a one on one conversation with the Good Doctor whom they pay, out the ass, to care for them.

    Anyone else out there in Sly Con Valley, California, receiving these calls for Law Enforcement, from a fricking Doctor ?

    1. diane

      (given the ugly, bizarro times, I guess I should note that I had not intended the ‘period’ mark – and realize it does not belong there in using ‘proper’ puncuation – between “fund raising” and “(for decades,…”.

      And, etcetera, etcetera, for any other frivoulous side tracking, avoidance issues)

      1. diane

        (I should also thoroughly CLARIFY that those decades of calls, from a Sly Con Valley Police Officer’s Associations, were never from someone calling themselves, A Doctor (they all called themselves actual Police Officers), let alone not providing an actual phone number to get back in touch with.)

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