Links 4/14/13

New music ‘rewarding for the brain’ BBC

The Awkward Years: Strange Hairless Rabbit Goes From Bald to Beautiful! Featured Creature

Hacking commercial aircraft with an Android App (some conditions apply) ars technica

How Wireless Carriers Are Monetizing Your Movements MIT Technology Review. Chuck L: “More reasons to keep my dumb phone.”

Huge Attack on WordPress Sites Could Spawn Never-Before-Seen Super Botnet Little Green Footballs

WordPress Plugin Social Media Widget Hiding Spam – Remove it now Sucuri. We don’t use this plugin, but running a WP site is suddenly looking very fraught!

Bomb North Korea, before its too late New York Times (Howard Beale IV). Gawker has some choice words.

China Agrees to Join U.S. to End North Korea Weapons Pursuit Bloomberg

Life is Cheap in Karachi Counterpunch

Euro banking union ‘could need treaty change’ Telegraph

Majority of CBC board resigns Cyrpus Mail. CBC = Central Bank of Cyprus

Russian depositors begin seizing property of Cypriot banks RT (Otter). Headline is a bit ahead of facts…

Highland result suggests RBS bankers no longer above the law (Richard Smith) Ian Fraser. In the UK, some cracks in the facade…

Barbara Boxer, AIPAC seek to codify Israel’s right to discriminate against Americans Glenn Greenwald, Guardian

Obama Does Social Security and Medicare Counterpunch (Carol B)

Breaking: Obama Justice Department serves Oregon officials with warrant seeking the identities of the state’s medical cannabis patients acmerecords, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Medicinal marijuana markets: Weed goes legit Barry Ritholtz. Barry may be a tad optimistic, at least in light of how the Administration feels about this.

Have I mentioned lately what an asshole Obama is? Lambert

‘Risks’ loom for health exchange technology Health Policy Solutions

Congress Repeals Financial Disclosure Requirements For Senior U.S. Officials NPR

Pennsylvania Court Deals Blow to Secrecy-Obsessed Fracking Industry: Corporations Not The Same As Persons With Privacy Rights Alternet (Mark Doenges)

U.S. ranks near bottom of UNICEF report on child well-being Salon (Carol B)

The ‘laws of economics’ don’t exist Reuters

More Walmart weirdness, locally Corrente

Declining dry powder of LBO funds Sober Look

Going Underwater in the Long Recession Barbara Garson, Tom Engelhardt. One quibble: the comment on how the economy looked like it was going into recovery mode in the first quarter for each of the last three years and then fizzled. Folks, don’t you get it? The seasonal adjustments are biggest in the first quarter to compensate for the normal (large) falloff in activity after Christmas.

Is Violence in the Media a Reflection of Our Own Social Anxieties? Alternet

Antidote du jour:

Untitled1414

And a bonus (Francois T):

Driftwood art

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105 comments

  1. David Lentini

    It’s great to see some public acknowledgement that the “Laws of Economics” are the shop fronts of a Potemkin Village.

    But I offer the following IRON-CLAD LAW OF ECONOMISTS:

    All economists are second- and third-rate thinkers, who share the delusion that economics is a science. The third-rate thinkers truly believe the social sciences are true sciences, and economics is the Newtonian physics of the social sciences. The second-rate thinkers suspect economics is not a science, but they still cling to the fantasy, believing it to be a useful fiction. Thus, both second- and thrid-rate thinkers teach third-rate thinking to their students.

    Any first-rate thinkers who become economists change fields.

    1. craazyman

      “Any first-rate thinkers who become economists change fields.”

      that may be a litttle harsh. I’d ad “unless they need the money”.

      that brings me to the 1st law of econmomics: “if somebody needs the money,the job will get done.

      the 2nd law is “If you have the money, you can always find somebody to do the job for less.

      the 3rd law is “If you combine law 1 and law 2, the entire ecomomy disapperas.”

      1. tom allen

        What a pity the laws of economics aren’t:

        1. An economy may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

        2. An economy must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

        3. An economy must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

        (Right now only the third law is in effect — the economy must protect its own existence, period.)

        1. eeyores enigma

          …an economy is the fair, equitable, and sustainable use and distribution of the Planets FINITE resources.

        2. Antifa

          The real problem with economics is that it is incapable of taking into account the living ecosystem that gives each of us life while we have it. Economists simply assume the endless supply of resources at ‘n’ price.

          No such situation exists in the real universe. Hence, economics is like a happy play being acted out in a darkened theater while outside exists a world experiencing inexplicable climate changes, global recession, inability or unwillingness to feed all of us daily, hoarding of wealth in very few hands to no purpose other than to hoard wealth, the death of tens of thousands of species at human hands, poisoning of our air, water, oceans and bodies with hundreds of chemicals that are not supposed to be there according to the naturally evolved ecology of our life support system.

          With any luck, humans will one day venture into deep space and live in entirely artificial environments. Ironically, that may be what causes us to finally properly value a living, natural ecosystem.

          1. Nathanael

            Oh, there’s lots of good, competent economics research out there.

            The problem is that most of what passes for “economics” in the media, scholarly journals, etc., is bunk — propaganda on behalf of the 0.1%. The competent research is suppressed.

            This is a political problem. It’s also a problem of academic integrity.

    2. from Mexico

      The great irony of it all is that the economists have managed to convince themselves that they’re materialists. Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth. As Ardent explains, Kant

      believed that he had built the foundations of a future “systematic methaphysic” as “a bequest to posterity,” and it is true that without Kant’s unshackling of speculative thought the rise of German idealism and its metaphysical systems would hardly have been possible. But the new brand of philosophers — Fichte, Schelling, Hegel — would scarcely have pleased Kant. Liberated by Kant from the old school dogmatism and its sterile exercises, encouraged by him to indulge in speculative thinking, they actually took their cue from Descartes, went hunting for certainty, blurred once again the distinguishing line between thought and knowledge, and believed in all earnest that the results of their speculations possessed the same kind of validity as the results of cognitive processes.

      HANNAH ARENDT, The Life of the Mind

      The new German philosophy crossed the Atlantic with a growing number of converts, including Thomas Jefferson and the Brahma (to use a short-hand term for the Transcendentalists), who found the new philosophy and its promise of radical individualism, universal freedom and absolute individual free will attractive. “An American critic has made a cognate point,” Jacques Barzun explains, “both Emerson and Thoreau (and later Whitman) exhibit what he calls “the imperial self.” That self, confident in its INDIVIDUALISM, tells others to shuffle off communal ties and enjoy a self-make universe in all its purity.”

      And this brings us to another great irony, for the role symbolic thought played in human evolution is that of the glue which holds society together, which facilitates cooperation and organization, which allows human beings to be the hyper-social creatures that they are, and to organize themselves into societies of hundreds of millions of individuals. It did not evolve as something which atomizes human beings into radical individuals. As Michael Parenti explains here, “much of politics is the rational use of irrational symbols.”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2q0Wdk7ek7Q&feature=player_detailpage#t=5071s

      But, as Parenti goes on to explain, fascism consists of manipulating these symbols so that they serve only the interests of the plutocracy.

      I would say that 95% or more of the economists have thrown their lot in with the plutocrats, and just like the fascists, their only purpose in life is the manipulation and use of symbols and symbolic thought for the good of a very small group of plutocrats.

      1. Expat

        Great analysis. And since neither Kant nor Arendt, much less Parenti or any other liberal arts philosopher are required to obtain any university degree in economics, economists can’t even grasp your argument unless their understanding has strayed outside the field.

        1. from Mexico

          In what Hannah Arendt calls the “intramural warfare” between rationalism and empiricism, it is rather obvious that economists have become the quintessential rationalists. It’s an orgy of speculative thought and imagination, unmoored from any material or empirical reality.

          1. from Mexico

            The dead giveaway is the economists’ single-minded obsession with mathematics, “the non-empirical science par excellence,” as Arendt puts it. The economists with their highly abstract equations tell us one thing, and our bodies tell us something else, so eventually the body rebels against what it perceives to be the uselessness and unreality of the whole enterprise.

          2. Susan the other

            Well that’s a take on the Transcendentalists I would never have expected. Folding them into a rational irrational world kinda. Like Bitcoin being a purely rational currency – a math backed currency; yes Bitcoin does sound transcendental when you look at it that way. The transcendental currency. A time for everything. But still, I can’t quite bring myself to equate Margaret Thatcher with Thoreau.

          3. from Mexico

            Susan the other says:

            But still, I can’t quite bring myself to equate Margaret Thatcher with Thoreau.

            Why not? Individuals have occupied the center of the intellectual universe for the last half century. Thatcher spoke for her times when she said in a 1978 speech that “there is no such thing as society — only individuals and their families.”

            And as Barzun goes on to explain, the transcendentalist lesson proved congenial to many Americans,

            especially Thoreau’s variation. To this day Walden is a name to conjure with; it means fleeing the daily grind, living at the heart of nature, free to breathe and contemplate. Self-reliant PRIMITIVISM is the intended message, but not the truth about Thoreau’s escape: he took civilization with him: clothes, nails, seed, and lumber, none of which he made. Like Crusoe he survived thanks to essential fruits of social effort; indeed, Thoreau required direct help from friends to put the roof on his hut, nor did he give up going back to Concord during the two-year demonstration. These and other inconsistencies pass unnoticed in the bliss one shares with the narrator.

            –JACQUE BARZUN, From Dawn to Decadence

          4. David Lentini

            I wouldn’t equate Thoreau and the Trasnsendentalists with Thatcher, Reagan, and the neo-liberals, either. Transcendentalism was more about achieving a Rouseauian purity, free from the corruptions of society: the pressure to conform to the crowd ultimately leads to moral and intellectual corruption; you have to find your own way. Neo-liberalism is just warmed-over social darwinism, it’s every one for themselves. Transcendentalists would rejct neo-liberal economics on its face.

            Can you really square the Falklands War with Civil Disobediance? I don’t think so.

            In fact, as I read Arent’s point it’s much the opposite from what Mexico seems to suggest. The nineteenth century German thinkers (no mention of the English rationalists), may have thought they were following Kantian ideals, or maybe paid lip service to them, but they ultimately betrayed Kant by becoming Cartesian rationalists. I don’t see how that fits with Transcendentalism, which clearly and consistently rejected materialism.

          5. Calgacus

            Oye Vey. Not guilty yer honor. Comparing great thinkers like, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel etc and even the medievals and later US thinkers to the clowns of modern “economics”, besmirching them all with the label “rationalist”, as if this were a bad thing. What a stretch.

            “An orgy of speculative thought and imagination, unmoored from any material or empirical reality”? Not a good description of those guys. And what if it were? Is such an orgy a bad thing? First, no matter how one thinks one can unmoor oneself entirely, one never can. Second, if it is genuine thought, and not just raving, e.g. if you want to think of mathematics that way, well, why not? The bad thing is if you illegitimately, thoughtlessly apply such thought in empirical science.

            The problem with modern “economics” is not philosophically profound.

            The problem is that considered as “rationalism”, as mathematics, modern economics is crap.

            The problem is that considered as “empiricism”, as empirical science, modern economics is crap.

            Economists in the “leading journals” and “leading departments” don’t have to publish anything that actually makes logical sense. Their “proofs”, their “theorems” – aren’t. And they simply have no interest in the empirical world. Basically, they spend their time cheating badly at Sudoku and randomly associate their incorrect solutions to empirical variables.

            The rigor of modern economics is that whatever else is said, the main thing is to always say something that means: Rich people are gods, and the only good is to make them richer and grind down the poor to subsistence level and below.

          6. from Mexico

            • David Lentini says:

            I wouldn’t equate Thoreau and the Trasnsendentalists with Thatcher, Reagan, and the neo-liberals, either.

            What Thoreau and the transcendentialists had in common with Thatcher, Reagan and neoclassical economists is the conviction that an ideal can transcend empirical reality. Notice how Thoreau completely obliterated the truth when it ran counter to his ideal of rugged individualism. Another way to achieve the same end other than what Thoreau did, obliterating reality, would be to transform reality so that it conforms with the ideal. Either way, if the real comes in conflict with the ideal, it is the real that must be sacrificed, the ideal that must transcend the real, and that’s why it’s called transcendental idealism.

            David Lentini said:

            Transcendentalism was more about achieving a Rouseauian purity, free from the corruptions of society: the pressure to conform to the crowd ultimately leads to moral and intellectual corruption; you have to find your own way.

            That’s a pretty accurate articulation of the ideal of radical individualism and its inseparable sidekick that the noble individual is corrupted by evil society.

            • David Lentini said:

            Neo-liberalism is just warmed-over social darwinism, it’s every one for themselves. Transcendentalists would rejct neo-liberal economics on its face.

            The comonality is, as John Gray put it, “the Romantic belief that the world can be reshaped by an act of will.” But, as Gray goes on to explain: “There has always been disagreement about the nature of this new world. For Marx and Lenin, it would be a classless egalitarian anarchy, for Fukuyama and the neo-liberals a universal free market.” These views of the future are of course very different, but as Gray adds, “that has in no way weakened the hold of the faith they express.”

            • David Lentini said:

            Can you really square the Falklands War with Civil Disobediance? I don’t think so.

            Because Thoreau was such a feckless dreamer and so completely detached from reality, Barzun dubbed him “Thoreau the Thorough Impressionist”:

            Going farther than Emerson, Thoreau has encouraged in every generation the urge to Civil Disobedience. His tract with that title is the most engaging and incoherent discourse ever written on government. Good and bad reasons and self-contradictions wind up in an astonishing sober stement of compliance with the legitimate demands of the state. The essay is effective because its meanderings correspond to the feelings of rebellion that the young generally feel on the threshold of the big world and that artists of all ages tend to share.

            • David Lentini said:

            In fact, as I read Arent’s point it’s much the opposite from what Mexico seems to suggest. The nineteenth century German thinkers (no mention of the English rationalists), may have thought they were following Kantian ideals, or maybe paid lip service to them, but they ultimately betrayed Kant by becoming Cartesian rationalists. I don’t see how that fits with Transcendentalism, which clearly and consistently rejected materialism.

            Who said the Transcendentalists were materialists? I certainly didn’t. They’re the very antithesis of empiricists, just like the neoclassical economicsts are. Did you not even read my comment?

            And you’re assuming the Transcendentalists stayed true to the philosphy of Kant. They didn’t. As Michael Allen Gillespie explains in Nihilism Before Nietzsche:

            Many thinkers who were sympathetic to the Kantian enterprise were not convinced that Kant had brought it to a satisfactory conclusion. They found the results of his revolution in the way of thinking difficult to accept, especially because he seemed to leave little space for the constructions of the imagination and speculative reason which they found so enchanting and essential to human life. Kant’s world, by contrast, seemed arid and colorless…

            [W]hat was necessary was a system of reason that derived both theory and practice from a single source. It was such a system of reason that Kant’s successors attempted to construct…

            They were not satisfied with Kant’s orderly island of truth and set sail on Kant’s stormy seas in search of their true being.

          7. Nathanael

            “What Thoreau and the transcendentialists had in common with Thatcher, Reagan and neoclassical economists is the conviction that an ideal can transcend empirical reality.”

            And this is the fundamental error which every scientist must abandon, early.

            (Math is different. In math you invent your own universe and play around in it.)

          8. Calgacus

            It appears I’ve hit a raw nerve.
            Not really. It really is possible for people to have some nodding familiarity with the philosophy of science or other things and disagree, and not because they are shocked or reacting with opposition because their convictions have been revealed to be without foundation.

            Following is a quote by the philosopher of science Stephen Toulmin, which I hope will set straight a number of the empirical untruths that you put forth in your comment,
            It is hard for me to reply, because you don’t say what my “empirical untruths” were, or really how Toulmin’s quote has much to do with what I said. So I cannot but remain unshocked.

            and knock science, rationalism and empiricism off of the pedestals you have placed them:
            I would agree that science” is” metaphysics, if you want to use that word. That’s one of the things that makes science interesting. It seemed to me that you were belittling rationalism, labeling those you identified as rationalists, sometimes wrongly (modern mainstream economics is mainly just charlatanism) as bad guys, and exalting empiricism. I disagreed with this.

            I would say that the deeper problem is that identified by Hegel, that dogmatism & modern skepticism (Hume, Kant, etc) have laid down hand-in-hand in restful harmony. (Cf Einstein’s tranquilizing pillow?) The later German Idealists and their offshoots, Marxists foremost, imho are still the most awake, more than those you have cited.

            For example, Arendt’s But the new brand of philosophers — Fichte, Schelling, Hegel — would scarcely have pleased Kant. No need for Arendt to speculate. As is well known, these later thinkers, in particular, the nearest contemporary Fichte, while at first close to and inspired by Kant, broke with Kant and Kant clearly expressed his displeasure. The big thing was that the later thinkers rejected the ding-an-sich. IMHO, they were right to do so.

            Again, to David Lentini:The nineteenth century German thinkers (no mention of the English rationalists), may have thought they were following Kantian ideals, or maybe paid lip service to them, but they ultimately betrayed Kant by becoming Cartesian rationalists.
            Again, they, and Kant, were perfectly aware that they were students of Kant who in their opinion went further than Kant by opposing him, “betraying” him if you will, and again, they revalued Cartesian rationalism. I am most familiar with Hegel. To him, Descartes’ cogito was “the backbone of modern philosophy” & he was the father of modern philosophy, where modern curricula still wisely places him. (In Hegel’s history, following the “empiricist” Bacon & the “mystic” Boehm bridging the medievals & the moderns.)

            The point is that Kant, while a great thinker, was not god, was not always right, is not the last word. And neither was Toulmin or Arendt.

          9. from Mexico

            Calgacus said:

            I am most familiar with Hegel. To him, Descartes’ cogito was “the backbone of modern philosophy” & he was the father of modern philosophy, where modern curricula still wisely places him…

            The point is that Kant, while a great thinker, was not god, was not always right, is not the last word. And neither was Toulmin or Arendt.

            Arendt and Toulmin are not god, but Hegel is?

            Why does it not surprise me that you would take such a position?

            Nuff said.

        2. from Mexico

          @ Calgacus

          It appears I’ve hit a raw nerve. I’m reminded of what the psychologist Andrew M. Loaczewski wrote:

          Every psychotherapist must be prepared for difficulties caused by the psychological resistance derived from persistent attitutdes and convictions whose lack of foundation becomes revealed…

          Many people suffer an inevitable shock and react with opposition, protest, and disintegration of their human personality when informed of such a state of affairs… Many people are awakened to anxious protest by the fact that the ideology they either condemned or somehow accepted, but considered a guiding factor, is now being treated as something secondary in importance.

          The noisiest protests will come from those who consider themselves fair because they condemned this macrosocial phenomenon with literary talent and raised voices, utilizing the name derived from its most current ideology, as well as making excessive use of moralizing interpretations… Forcing them to an appreciation of a correct understanding…will be quite a Sisyphean labor, since they would have to become conscious of the fact that their efforts largely served goals which were the opposite of their intentions.

          –ANDREW M. LOBACZEWSKI

          You don’t seem to have much of a command of the philosophy of science, the fact that science is nothing more than a piece of metaphysics, or the fact that the differences between Descartes and Hobbes are crucial and central to the bifurcation of modernity. There is a long-running battle between rationalists and empiricists that has been with us since the ancients, and Hobbes and Descartes merely took up the gauntlet.

          Also, the idea that “Rich people are gods, and the only good is to make them richer and grind down the poor to subsistence level and below,” is hardly a new idea. Philosophy, theology and science have been employed to give this idea moral and intellectual sanction for at least 2500 years.

          Following is a quote by the philosopher of science Stephen Toulmin, which I hope will set straight a number of the empirical untruths that you put forth in your comment, and knock science, rationalism and empiricism off of the pedestals you have placed them:

          The three dreams of the Rationalists thus turn out to be aspects of a larger dream. The dreams of a rational method, a unified science, and an exact language, united into a single project. All of them are designed to “purify” the operations of human reason, by decontextualizing them: i.e., by divorcing them from the details of particular historical and cultural situations. Like Leibniz’s universal language, the Scientific Revoluton was, accordingly, Janus-faced. The New Science was meant to be both “matematical and experimental”; but it was left unclear how these two leading features of the new method (its mathematical structure, and its experiential basis) dovetailed. This unclarity began as an oversight, but it soon became deliberate. The victory of Rationalism was regarded as confirming Pythagoras’ insight that any theory of mathematical power and elegance will have practical application in human experience.

          In the three hundred years after 1660, the natural sciences did not march along a royal road, defined by a rational method. They moved in a zigzag, alternating the rationalists methods of Newton’s mathematics and the empiricist methods of Bacon’s naturalism. The triumph of Newtonian physics was, thus, a vote for theoretical cosmology, not for practical dividends; and the ideas of Newtonian theory were shaped by a concern for intellectual coherence with a respectable picture of God’s material creation, as obeying Divine laws. This view too ignored the message of 16th-century humanism… [I]t was enough for scientists to find the laws ruling natural phenomena, the better to glorify God, who first created Nature. Using our understanding of Nature to increase comfort, or to reduce pain, was secondary to the central spiritual goal of Science. Rejecting in both method and spirit Bacon’s vision of a humanly fruitful science, Descartes and Newton set out to build mathematical structures, and looked to Science for theolgoical, not technological, dividends.

          –STEPHEN TOULMIN, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity

    3. diptherio

      Here, here. It always annoyed the hell out of me that we were taught the “laws of economics,” and then taught about the “exceptions” to the “laws.” Seems to me that an exception invalidates a “law,” unless they mean something closer to “laws of grammar” than “laws of physics.” Supply creates it’s own demand…except when it doesn’t…and I comes before E except after C…unless you happen to be seizing a weird species…

      I have to disagree with the last line, however. Any first-rate thinkers change fields or get belittled and marginalized, at least in my experience. Perhaps not the case at UMKC or a few other institutions, but they are definitely the exception.

      And changing fields is definitely not a sure sign of being a ‘first-rate economist.’ Take me, for example. I had figured out that neo-classical econ theory was BS well before I got my BA, so after graduation I decided to change fields. This was not, however, proof the my ‘first-rate thinking,’ as evidenced by the fact that the field I switched to was Comparative Theology. The University of Seattle accepted my application for graduate studies in their MDiv program and wanted to employ me, which meant I would only have to pay $60,000 in tuition for their five-year program (half-off…sweet), after which I could become a hospice chaplain earning $30,000/year. My economics may not be ‘first-rate’ but even I could tell that was a raw deal…

      1. Carla

        diptherio, it seems to me that there are exceptions to all laws. The exceptions to the laws of economics are for those who own the economy. The exceptions to civil laws are for those who own the society. At this point, there appears to be a lot of overlap between these two groups of “exceptional” people.

        1. diptherio

          Very true, outside of the hard sciences there don’t seem to be any real laws (and it’s starting to look questionable even there). Even our legal system’s laws, as you point out, are merely suggestions to certain people.

          I imagine a sort of scale for how much people are actually ruled by our social laws. Poor minorities at the bottom (it’s the law!), middle class white folk in the middle (it’s still the law, but we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt), and 1% d-bags of whatever race and gender at the top (what law?).

    4. different clue

      Was Frederick Soddy a second rate third rate thinker?
      Was Charles Walters Jr. a second rate third rate thinker?
      Is Herman Daly a second rate third rate thinker?
      Is Michael Hudson a second rate third rate thinker?

      1. diptherio

        And Alperovitz and Keen…but these are the exceptions that prove the rule. And of course, Lentini’s statement isn’t a “law,” just a rule of thumb. As we all know, there are no “laws of economics.”

    5. harry

      Oh rubbish. The decline in economics dates from all those applied mathematicians switching into it cos its easier. Stupid axioms get you stupid conclusions. Now you get supposed proofs and theorems showing precisely the results rich sponsors wanted. And you blame the subject?

    6. tiebie66

      My favorite is Kalecki’s remark that economics consists of theoretical laws which nobody has verified and empirical laws which nobody can explain.

  2. Ned Ludd

    After the U.S. government barred 18 Russian citizens from entering the U.S., Russia barred 18 U.S. citizens from entering Russia.

    The list released by the Foreign Ministry includes John Yoo, a former U.S. Justice Department official who wrote legal memos authorizing harsh interrogation techniques; David Addington, the chief of staff for former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney; and two former commanders of the Guantanamo Bay detention center: retired Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller and Adm. Jeffrey Harbeson. […]

    “It’s important that the criteria on which the Russian list was composed differ fundamentally from the Americans’. On the Russian list, including the closed part, are people actually responsible for the legalization of torture and indefinite detention of prisoners in Guantanamo, for arrests and unjust sentences for our countrymen,” [Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei] Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

    To quote the King James translation of Matthew, “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      Another excerpt from Glenn Greenwald’s article:

      Boxer, Blunt and Aipac are now attempting to create a special exemption for Israel from the requirement to which all other countries are bound, and by which the US will be bound vis-a-vis Israelis.

      More amazingly, the only purpose of this exemption from these US senators would be to allow Israel to discriminate against the citizens of the country these senators are supposed to represent.

      Funny how americanos have to employ elaborate circumlocations about their sold-out politicians, such as Greenwald’s phrase highlighted in italics, to substitute for plain words such as “Israel’s bitches” that can’t be printed in the MSM.

    2. Ned Ludd

      The Guardian, like The New York Times, uses the phrase “harsh interrogation techniques” to hide the fact that the U.S. government created a worldwide torture regime. When The New York Times published “A Guide to the Memos on Torture”, the first entry (for January 2002) revealed that John Yoo wrote many of the relevant memorandums that authorized torture.

      “A series of memorandums from the Justice Department, many of them written by John C. Yoo, a University of California law professor who was serving in the department, provided arguments to keep United States officials from being charged with war crimes for the way prisoners were detained and interrogated. The memorandums, principally one written on Jan. 9, provided legal arguments to support administration officials’ assertions that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to detainees from the war in Afghanistan.”

    1. Ned Ludd

      Thanks for the link to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Maps is one of the last singles that I heard on the radio that caused me to go out and buy an album.

      Fever to Tell will be ten years old at the end of the month.

  3. skippy

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/04/130412-diseases-health-animals-science-environment-oceans/

    Joe Oberman 20 hours ago

    * 10,000 Gallons of Oxygen are burned for EVERY GALLON OF FUEL used in an engine…a plane or a car, etc.

    * 3 Million Gallons of jet fuel are used every DAY at Chicago O’Hare.

    Multiply that by 10,000 Gallons of Oxygen Burned PER GALLON of fuel.

    The result: 3 BILLION GALLONS of OXYGEN are burned per DAY at O’Hare International Airport.

    The net result: 3 Billion Gallons of Oxygen-Depleted Air are created loaded with at least 147 types of toxins and pollutants.

    * One single large airliner uses more OXYGEN PER HOUR than all of the Earth’s Six Billion people breathe during that entire hour.

    There are approximately 2,700 Air Busses in flight today – more are on order – bringing the total soon to 4,300

    Combine all the aircraft and vehicles operating 24/7 and well… you get the picture.

    The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. -Albert Einstein

    Skippy… sigh…

    1. John L

      Thanks for the otter link.

      10,000 gallons of oxygen for every gallon of fuel? Doesn’t sound right. Link?

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Indeed, it doesn’t add up. Ideal(stoichiometric) air/fuel ratios for combustion engines are typically on the order of 15:1.

        1. skippy

          Refer to Table 2

          Configuration and air volume consumption data for Airbus A320 airplane

          3.8×10/7L @69min of run time under variable conditions from Terminal to Terminal.

          http://ptaff.ca/air/?lang=en_CA

          Skippy… also, the inclusion of Human – days of air per hour is a nice metric to consider along with ***fresh air*** migration.

    2. Susan the other

      Well I’d just like to say this about that: Shut down the airlines. I know that sounds pretty draconian. But we have our choices of things we can ignore. 1. We can ignore the planet and ourselves and allow the fantasy of commercial flight to soar, or 2. We can acknowledge the pollution this industry creates and shut it down. And there are other reasons to be uneasy about air travel. Those contrails don’t even have to be filled with conspiracy-test-poisons. They just have to sit there like clouds and cause a disruption in the climate. Transportation is a major topic.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Sto;
        Having taken rides on the Goodyear blimp when the public was encouraged to do so, (for about $2.50 in 1970 dollars I think,) I can cry out for a return to lighter than air. The sensation is blissful. I haven’t seen any work on the carbon footprint for LTA ships, but the fuel issue is greatly lessened. (Plus, most of the world’s helium comes from here in the USA. [From out of the ground at that!])

      1. skippy

        Deforestation – desertification compounded by ***New and Improved*** climate – weather events – cycles…

        skippy… lollipops for everyone!

  4. financial matters

    Obama Does Social Security and Medicare Counterpunch (Carol B)

    “For the uninitiated, the endgame appears nigh. The seizure of bank deposits in Cyprus to pay for bank losses simply removed the ‘middle men,’ the European Central Bank and the political powers that be in Europe, from transferring wealth from the citizens of Cyprus to Cypriot bankers (and to European banks and U.S. hedge funds). The capitalist media storyline promoted by gullible liberals that ‘Russian mafia’ money was seized is nonsense. By reports European banks and rich Russians had little trouble getting their money out of Cyprus. The deposits being seized are in precise inverse relation to the political-economic power the depositors wield. And across the West policies of economic austerity are being imposed in similar fashion.

    To those paying attention, the Dodd-Frank legislation being sold as a way to ‘reign-in’ bailed out banks contains ‘Cyprus’ clauses that leave banks (or their creditors, beginning with derivatives counter-parties) no alternative than to seize insured deposits when they need their next inevitable bailout.”

    1. David Lentini

      The real kicker in that article is the conclusion–Those without power will be sacrificed to those with power.

      The rule of law is over. Without laws there cannot be a market economy, since there can be no rational bargaining for goods and services. We are transitioning into a corporatist or fascist world.

      1. Nathanael

        That’s what the corporate leaders *think*.

        They are wrong. They don’t have what it takes to be fascist leaders. What does it take? Well, you have to actually feed people, for starters.

        Their attempt to install corporatist rule will instead lead to collapse. The question is what will happen *after* the collapse. If we do not get organized, we will probably get feudalism. The current crop of elites will NOT, for the most part, be the feudal lords, because they do not understand the necessary concept: loyalty to your subordinates.

        (Brin & Page, and a few other corporate leaders are exceptions; they have what it takes to be feudal lords. None of the leaders who have what it takes are actually in the ‘inner power circle’ right now. The people who are in the ‘inner power circle’ are idiot kleptocrats.)

  5. Jackrabbit

    The Senate hearings last week reminded me of Nouriel Roubini’s response in the movie “Inside Job” when he was asked: “Why do you think there haven’t been any investigations?”:

    “Because then you would find the culprits.”

  6. Carolinian

    Re Lambert/Walmart: good to see him admitting he might not actually know how retail works. Previously one of the other commenters here seemed shocked to learn that Walmart charges food companies for shelf space…something all grocery stores do.

    Don’t mean to keep chiming in on this Walmart thing–I own no Walmart stock and am relatively indifferent to their fate–but jeez, what a dogwhistle…

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Yes, indeed. Walmart in fact owns none of the stock on their shelves, as of the period of time in which it appears on their shelves. Nor does Amazon, nor does Macy’s or – I would guess – any other big modern retailer.

      Stock is supplied to Walmart on consignment, which means the vendor gets paid in X number of days after the stock sells.

      This is a tweak on the long-standing 30-60-90 day payables and has resulted in only the most popular items being in stock at all, everything else having been discontinued due to weak sales. The exception is the single token item. Amazon is stuffed full of those (vanity press). Which, by the way, they will pay for when they eventually sell.

      So all those suppliers in China? They signed contracts to supply Walmart with stock, at Walmart’s discretion, to be paid for at some point after Walmart has sold them and gotten the money. The factory supplies goods up front and gets paid later. If the factory does not get paid in a timely fashion, if, for example, the business placing orders consistently over-orders and under-pays, the factory may elect to discontinue doing business with them. Having been a vendor myself, I have cut off sloppy wholesalers for precisely this reason. There is a sidebar here on how Macy’s – and Barnes & Noble – have allegedly busted a lot of small suppliers over the years, but I digress.

      I myself, in my little mom’n’pop mail order bookstore, actually own around 90% of the stock on the shelves, as my turnover is much slower. Given that I’m a specialist, this would be expected.

      Amazon, by the way, appears to be squeezing out an extra week in their payables at the moment. Amazon traditionally places orders with suppliers on Sunday. Two weeks ago the Sunday order arrived on Monday. Last week the Sunday order arrived on Tuesday. So far this morning (Sunday) there has been no Sunday order, which I fear will be on Wednesday. This is one of the ways in which retailers squeeze their suppliers and is an indication that Amazon is feeling the pain.

      Retail isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t just a bunch of guys standing around on street corners selling pencils or apples.

      1. Lambert Strether

        And so the effects of accounting control fraud on workers would be?

        As for switch wholesalers…. If you are small, and haven’t been bled dry, maybe you can find somebody smaller. But if you are big, it might not be so easy to find another big firm. And won’t they all act the same?

    2. Lambert Strether

      Never claimed to! The point of the post, besides adding to the constant trickle of weird Walmart events* Is how their inventory manipulation must ripple, globally.

      * And did you see those stories about McDonalds and customer service problems….

  7. Gerard Pierce

    Jeremi Suri’s Op-Ed piece in the NYT is interesting in a couple of ways. Why did the NYT print a one-sided commentary advocating bombing North Korea?

    Counterpunch printed an article a week or so ago: “What’s Annoying the North Koreans?” http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/04/09/whats-annoying-the-north-koreans/

    The article lasts the US sponsored actions that seem to have a lot to do with driving the North Koreans crazy.

    American policy seems to be the equivalent of throwing rocks through the windows of your neighborhood schitzophrenic – and then complaining because he is acting crazy.

    1. from Mexico

      Yep. The simple but obvious truth which you speak of gets lost. And it gets lost because one side needs the other, so that each can inflate its agenda into a chiliastic battle for the soul of its respective populace. Neocon Korean and neocon American are now locked in a full-blown, mutually sustaining folie à deux, and the only thing one dislikes more than the other is the one who tells both to lighten up.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘Why did the NYT print a one-sided commentary advocating bombing North Korea?’

      Indeed, why did the NYT print Judith Miller’s “Saddam’s WMDs” fables a decade ago? Cuz it’s good business for the MSM to flack for the military-industrial-security state.

      Never mind that destroying North Korea’s missiles might prompt a land invasion — in effect, playing to one of North Korea’s strengths, since it fields a large infantry. It might go badly for South Korea, and for U.S. soldiers who are posted there. But it probably would succeed in liberating defense procurement from the sequester, thanks to the ‘war emergency.’

      As the renowned rhetorician George W. Bush would say, ‘To make an egg, you’ve gotta break a few omelettes!’

  8. CSI Wasteland

    That media violence article is just nonsense. It’s not “we” that demand reality TV – reality TV gets shoved up our butts because it’s cheap to produce. And don’t give me we-we-we when we’ve got an oligopolistic media that’s lovingly tended by government propagandists to promote authoritarian thinking. This is a common trick, blaming the public for the cultural distortions of centrally-controlled propaganda.

    When “we” hit the hypoglycemia wall on the road and stagger into a McDonald’s to eat bleached chicken tendons glued to swept-up scraps, Who in their right mind thinks that has anything to do with what we want?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      t works the same with how we ‘demand’ the politicians we have today, never mind they were first voted by the 0.01% to ensure compliance.

      Neo-liberal or more neo-liberal.

      And you complain about the lack of choice?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      By the way, that’s another mis-direction.

      Which has killed more people: violence or non-violence?

      Here, I consider non-violence the following:

      1. debt slavery (not necessarily through stick, but via honey coated carrot).

      2. neglecting the poor, the sick and the elderly

      3. sedating thinking people with music, movies and recreational drugs.

      4. spoiling kids

      5. making long-term unemployed non-people.

      6. sanctioning a country denying food and medicine

      7. cutting social security

      etc…

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    New music…rewarding for the brain.

    Another brain research link.

    I have a ?

    Zazen is said to enlarge the compassionate part of the brain.

    That is to say, emptying your brain of thoughts makes you more compassionate.

    Does that mean busying yourself with thoughts about saving the world makes you less compassionate?

    Time for zazen, I guess.

    1. Jessica

      If one uses the thoughts of saving the world to decorate one’s ego, then yes those thoughts actually can make one less compassionate.
      Zazen is more a wisdom practice. For compassion, tonglen would be more effective. Better to work on both because wisdom without compassion makes one a very wise dried up prune and compassion without wisdom makes one all mushy and ineffective.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Medicinal marijuana.

    We might have to re-learn another old wisdom, amidst the current anti-tobacco hysteria – tobacco was as still is medicinal for the early dwellers (and their descendants) of this continent.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The laws of economics don’t exist.

    A simple rule: If a law of economics has not worked in, say, 24 months, it should stop being counted as a law of economics.

    Get out of here. You are no longer a law of economics!

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    US…near bottom…child-well-being.

    For older kids, we need a voluntary Nature Corps where they can spend some time in the wild finding their relationships to nature, each unique and special. Then, each will come back with a name that corresponds to his/her soul, like, Thrifty-Ant, Good-Time-Cricket, or Fracking-Bear, etc.

  13. rjs

    yves wrote: Folks, don’t you get it? The seasonal adjustments are biggest in the first quarter to compensate for the normal (large) falloff in activity after Christmas.

    you also have the terrible first quarter of 2009 in almost every seasonal adjustment data base; that generates a positive skew to seasonal adjustments for those months in subsequent years…the seasonal adjustment algorithm doesnt adjust for what you can see with your own two eyes in any graph:

    http://www.gq.com/news-politics/blogs/death-race/Jobs%20Chart635.jpg

  14. Barbara Garson

    Dear Yves Smith,

    This is Barbara Garson, author of the article here titled “Going Underwater in the Long Recession.” I won’t Reply in a false name praising my own words. I want to thank you in my own name. I’m so pleased to be rerpinted on the website of the mother of modern economics. Thank you, Yves.

  15. Calvin

    California is represented by two pathetic old dual loyalty Jewesses.

    “They hate us for our freedoms”. Yeah right.

    1. diptherio

      confirmed, it’s good. They discuss about a dozen alternative currency schemes currently in place all around the world. Many are for the provision of specific social goods (bus rides, elder care), which isn’t something I’d heard much about up till now. Really cutting edge stuff. Lietaer has been busy designing alt. currencies all over the globe and, fortunately, Dunne makes up for in presentation-chops what Bernie lacks (mumble-mumble…). Worth the hour, for sure.

  16. diane

    Credit where it’s due, Jeralyn Merritt, a great go to source, on abuse in the Prison Industry:

    CA Federal Court Threatens Gov. Brown With Contempt

    Yup, that’s Jerry the Jesuit Brown; the same, creepily beloved by way too many ‘Liberals,’ Governor who made a point of requesting that citizens honor Reagan’s memory … and appointed a Banker as the California Jobs Czar, in a state that suffered (still does) one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at the time:

    California’s new jobs czar, former Bank of America and GMAC executive Michael Rossi, will serve as a liaison for businesses, labor and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.

    1. diane

      I have to say it’s interesting that supposedly it can’t be determined where the attacks are emanating from; especially when many of the best, most honest sites, are Word Press sites and the founder Matt Mullenweg (sp?) appears to be totally unlike zuckerfuck, brinn, page, …etcetera, in his total lack of desire to own the internet/world and ultimately work hand in glove with the power$ that be, behind closed doors.

    1. Nathanael

      “Wondering if the situation at Guantanamo will quiet down as the warden is hoping.”

      No. The point of no return has been passed.

  17. diane

    Thanks so very much, Yves.

    Between sucking AIPAC ass and pushing for Zero Tax Rates for California Domiciled Multi National Thieving Techie Corpseorate Oligarchies, it is high time that Barbara Boxer was highlighted for what she, apparently, truly aspires towards.

    (I was certainly duped, at one time, by her ……. much to my shame.)

    1. Massinissa

      Join the club. Everyone in here has been duped by one politician or another at some point.

      Mines especially embarassing. Even though im a Socialist I ended up voting for Ron Paul one Republican primary.

      Well, he *was* better than most of the other guys I suppose, but I still cant believe I drank that much Koolaid.

      Well, I never voted for Obama (Or Romney: Voted Green…), so thats one weight not on my shoulders I suppose.

      1. diane

        Thank you for the warm response, Massinissa.

        Not so sure though, about your vote history being any more more embarrassing than mine, if that was what you meant. I had voted for Clinton both times; and, I voted for Obomber in 2008, at the very last minute – despite knowing better by that time and age/experience – as a consequence of the highly popular lesser evil game show.

        A lottery would likely serve humanity better than the system we have.

        1. Nathanael

          I’ve suggested a system where all we have is recall elections, which can be done at any time.

          Selection by lottery would be better than what we have now, but you do want some way to get rid of really awful officials… which we don’t appear to have now.

          1. diane

            Perhaps a lottery limited to those who actually end up at least paying a certain minimum percentage of their total income (to include Freebies, from Lobbyists, etcetera) in combined Federal, State and Local taxes would be a good place to start.

            Those whose taxes don’t even slightly dent their non disposable income (particularly those State and Local taxes that the obscenely wealthy love to pretend the poor aren’t burdened by), let alone their disposable income,… to be disqualified until such a time they live under the same ‘burdens’ as most do.

          2. diane

            (Oh, and monetary value of stock options and percentage of Corpserate Ownership to be included, also, in that ‘income’ equation. (Better yet, do away with the Corporate ‘Being’ and its Lack of Liability to anyone except its teeny handful of majority owners.))

  18. frosty zoom

    i wonder if JEREMI SURI will volunteer to go the dmz to make sure ev’rything’s just fine.

  19. WorldisMorphing

    I finished listening, processing and filtering most of the INET conferences in Hong Kong yesterday. I must say that I found interesting and really enjoyed seeing Adair Turner reiterate his conviction in the merits of abolishing the debt monetizing taboo…but I wasn’t surprised to see him pop up at such a tribune, especially after being discarded for the central bank governor’s office, the conservative chancellor preferring our very own Canadian Goldman Sachs’ brood; Mark Carney.
    However, I must admit I also thoroughly enjoyed the event’s last posted conference: “Economics and the Powerful”
    What I really didn’t expect though was to see Steve Keen on the panel, panel which was quite a fine and interesting one as well. I read this unexpected “positioning” for lack of a better word, as a gracious but purposefully disruptive attempt from INET to accelerate the legitimization of heterodox economic thoughts. I confess, given the possibility, my curiosity might have made me pay a few bucks to be a fly on the wall when the composition of this final panel was being decided…

    Economics and the Powerful – INET Hong Kong
    [Faulty Analysis, Economic Advice, and the Imperatives of Power” at the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s “Changing of the Guard?” conference in Hong Kong. Featured panelists include Norbert Haring, INET Grantee Steve Keen, and INET Advisory Board member Robert Lord Skidelsky, with INET Executive Director Rob Johnson Moderating.]

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj2E6donYOQ

  20. sd

    Walmart empty shelves – I am wondering if Walmart is getting push back from vendors on its ‘slotting’ fees (manufacturers pay retailers a fee to put their product on the store’s shelves – and why yes, it does sound remarkably like a kick back).

    Because all of this empty shelf business is beginning to sound like Walmart stepped over the line and asked for a hefty increase in fees.

    1. cwaltz

      That’s what I was thinking too. I almost wondered if they weren’t getting the margins from customers if they went after manufacturers.

      Another thought is this also might be some blowback still from when Walmart purged brands from their shelves and replaced them with store brand items. They had a lot of negative feedback from customers. It may be that manufacturers see an opportunity to get rid of those slotting fees since consumers have essentially said they want these items and will shop elsewhere if they can’t find them. It may be a stand off between Walmart and manufacturers.

  21. Claudius

    testing kievite says: ‘What will his/her pension in 2013 with the current method and with chained CPI?’ As the Chained CPI’s (C-CPI) annualized rate of inflation is, inherently, 0.3 percent lower than the CPI-U (income) and CPI-W (Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment). Results in a benefits cut of 3% after 10 years, 6% after 20 years, 9% after 30 years. If C-CPI had been implemented in 2001, the real reduction benefits would have wiped out the entire 2012 SS’s Cola.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) modeled an ‘elderly index’ (“CPI-E”): Seniors spend, proportionately, more of their income on medical care and housing; and both outpace the same combined factors in CPI-U, CPI-W, higher by 0.3%. The full-benefits retirement age is to rise to 67 (2017-2022) – a cut in benefits (i.e. working and “contributing” longer before entitlements are received). For those wanting to retire early at 62, after 2022, the decrease in benefits will be 10% – a strong disincentive not to retire early.
    Under C-CPI; retiring in 2030 (demographically the largest retirement group in the US) you will see a loss of net benefits income, in real terms, of approximately 5.3 % at the point of retirement and an incremental reduction of benefits income, in real terms, of 0.6% (C-CPI + CPI-E) annually. The chances are that these numbers will be higher – as this demographic age group will almost certainly, drive up the cost of the two expenditure factors: health and housing costs.

    Not to worry, ‘retirees’ can either continue working, (keep active both mentally and physically) or depend on other forms of income. Just, keep the taxable income level “sensible”; don’t sweat it; just build up a tidy sum of pocket money for cat food, and chill out. Well, no quite; the median income for seniors in 2011/12 was $25,757 and the income mode (12.6%) level was between $15,000 and $19,999 annually. 86% of people age 65 and older “depend” on Social Security; the median Social Security payment amount was $15,701 and the majority of retirees (65%) got half or more of their income from Social Security.

    Moreover, over a third (36%) of people age 65 and older receives at least 90% of their income as a monthly Social Security payment. Still, some seniors also bring in extra retirement income by renting out property or earn royalties from work done earlier in their career (9%); however, it is only a small amount of income from these type of assets – the median being just $1,260 (figures that is likely to decline by the time todays post-GFC, 50-somethings reach retirement).

    Some seniors have military or federal, state, or local government access to private pensions or annuities (27%) or public pensions (15%). The median pension was worth $12,700. Government employee pensions generally paid considerably higher annual benefits ($20,000) than private pensions and annuities ($8,844). Just over a quarter (26%) of Americans, ages 65 (present retirement age) and older hold a paid job or are self-employed, earning a median of $28,000 (compared with a median of $45,000 earned by people age 62-64).
    If you are one of the 26% (a percentage that will demographically increase from 2017 onward) who will continue to work after 67 years old (post 2022), in the first year of retirement, your post-retirement income (set against the median earned) is likely to drop by 62%, by virtue of retirement alone. It will suffer a loss of 5.3% in real terms due to benefits that have not kept pace with inflation, plus 0.6% cost on the C-CPI + CPI-E combined; or, put another way, approximately a 70% reduction in income, in real terms. And that’s if you’re on a median income…

    However, for this “lucky” generation, the reduced income burden would not stop there. By applying C-CPI to all government programs, including the annual adjustment in income tax brackets, it would cause those thresholds to rise more slowly than they do now, ‘floating’ the middle and lower incomes into higher tax brackets faster (effectively becoming a passive, universal tax). So, if you are one of the 26% (30%, 35%…..) retirees still working in 2022 onwards, with an income between $10,000 and $20,000 you would experience an increased tax burden of 14.5 percent, while those with incomes over $1,000,000 would just see an increase of 0.1 percent.

    The average US citizens’ life expectancy is 78’ish; as such, probably one third of all seniors can expect to spend the last ten years or so of their life appreciating the nuances cat food cuisine; or not if (and doing your government a favor) you die earlier.

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