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Links 8/31/13

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Terror Bird’s Beak Was Worse Than Its Bite: ‘Terror Bird’ Was Probably a Herbivore Science Daily

Why Fukushima is worse than you think CNN

RBC’s other problem: Freddie Mac names embattled bank in LIBOR suit Canadian Business (JEHR)

Coincident indicators stalled in July Bond Dad

The American ‘Chemical Activity Barometer’ Is On An Upswing Business Insider. Breaking good?

Cooler Spending in U.S. Signals Slow Start for Quarter: Economy Bloomberg

The Big Confidence Gap Splitting the U.S. Middle Class Bloomberg. Not interesting as an indicator, but as a disturbance in the force.

Low-wage Workers Are Older Than You Think EPI

There is a class warfare and the workers are not winning Bill Mitchell – billy blog

Syria

Kerry cites ‘high confidence’ in intelligence on Syrian weapons The Hill (and Pelosi)

Obama: No Final Decision Made on Syrian Attack military.com. No “boots on the ground.”

U.N. investigators to exit Syria, chemical probe may take weeks Reuters

Chemical weapons experts weigh in on Syria intelligence report McClatchy. Skeptics at end.

EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack Mint

U.S. Intelligence on Syria Stops Short of Assad’s Role Bloomberg

Sources and Methods: A Case for War Emptywheel. “Local social media reports”?! Are you sh*tting me?

Air Force Developed Bombs Capable of Destroying Syria’s Chemical Weapons DefenseTech

Meet the Military Forces Gathering on Syria’s Doorstep Foreign Policy. Some damned foolish thing in the Balkans….

Unlikely Allies in Congress Question Obama Over Syria Online WSJ

The ethics of a Syrian military intervention: The experts respond Religion News

Awaiting Obama’s Climb-down Moon of Alabama

The Banality of Empire Counterpunch

Cambodia: sliding toward a ‘jasmine spring’? The Nation

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

US Spy Budget FY2013 Volumes 1, 4, 12 Cryptome

Tech Companies and Government May Soon Go to War Over Surveillance Wired. Hopefully, government writing them an even bigger check won’t be enough.

Court Says Feds Don’t Have To Reveal Secret Evidence It Gathered Against ‘Terror’ Suspect Using FISA TechDirt (SW)

Feds want prison time in unprecedented lie detector prosecution McClatchy. Another crazy pants compliance story.

David Miranda was carrying password for secret files on piece of paper Daily Telegraph. Seems suspiciously careless to me.

Libertarian Bum Fights NSFW (mookie). “Even to Putin, this is all a little too f*cking weird.”

The NYPD Division of Un-American Activities New York Magazine (RB)

Code blue The Economist

Revisiting the Contracts Scholarship of Stewart Macaulay, Post VI: Jonathan Lipson ContractsProf Blog

Hard-Wired for Giving Online WSJ. Maybe.

The Global Economy Suffers From Hypothermia Automatic Earth

Terms of Surrender The Archdruid Report

Antidote du jour (Jakes_World):

harbor_seal

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96 comments

    1. Crazy Horse

      NSA must be particularly interested in the post “Wheels falling off the imperial reality creating machine.” My tracking software identifies 14 active trackers looking at it. Unlike any other post on NC, somebody is blocking it so it only stays up for seconds before defaulting to a page that calls itself “Auroa Capital Management”

      For me it makes little difference. Because of the opinions I express I’m already on several enemies lists, as I suspect anyone who has ever posted to NC is. And I’m so old that nothing they can do to me makes a hell of a lot of difference to my life expectancy.

  1. from Mexico

    @ “Hard-Wired for Giving: Contrary to conventional wisdom that humans are essentially selfish, scientists are finding that the brain is built for generosity”

    It’s amazing how quickly these debates degenerate into opposing monisms. In one corner we have the Rouseauians, who imagine a noble savage corrupted by society. In the other we have the Hobbesians, who imagine a brutish savage that must be tamed by society.

    As an alternative to these two monisms, it seems a much more realistic portrayal would be to imagine individual human beings existing on a spectrum. Not all bears, after all, are created the same. On one end of the spectrum we may indeed have Rousseau’s noble savage. And on the other end we may indeed have Hobbe’s brutish savage. The vast majority of us, however, lie somewhere in between, and within each of us rages a constant battle between our inner Rousseau and our inner Hobbes.

    On top of this biological hard-wiring we layer our culture and our laws, which also greatly affect our behavior.

    The human condition is far more complex than the partial truths which inhere in our ruling mythologies.

    1. Eeyores enigma

      Kropotkin as well as Darwin document how mutual aid is ubiquitous through out the natural world.

      The artificial focus on “survival of the fittest” has been on of the biggest factors in the downfall of humanity IMO.

      1. MikeNY

        I agree with these comments. I don’t think it’s a merely a coincidence that Darwin and the theory of natural selection emerged from the Britain of Adam Smith, Bentham and Mill. It is capitalist biology.

      2. Walter Map

        Ultimately, life itself is only possible because the components of organisms cooperate. This is true at every level: cell membranes cooperate with cell nuclei, the dermis cooperates with the epidermis, osteoclasts balance out with osteoblasts, and so forth. It doesn’t work if the brain wants to opt out. That’s how we get Libertarians.

        People living in competition. All I want is to have my peace of mind.

        1. skylark

          Our bodies seek to maintain homeostasis through a negative feedback system–too hot we sweat, too cold we shiver. We attempt to keep our internal systems stable in response to external factors. Too bad the financial world doesn’t work that way.

        2. F. Beard

          People living in competition. Walter Map

          Taxes are a form of dividend to the government and thus can vary up or (mercifully) down with business conditions but interest (cruelly) must be paid regardless OR ELSE. Nor does the interest necessarily exist in aggregate. So the competition is who will get the necessary interest to avoid foreclosure and who will not.

          Money lent into existence for usury is the source of the rat-race. There is a better way – spending money into existence for goods and services. Two forms of money can be spent into existence – fiat for government debts and common stock for private debts only.

      3. Dr. Noschidt

        “Survival of the fittest” includes “mutual aid” gene pools, Q.E.D., but the phrase has been perverted to mean “survival of the most ruthless” – likely thanks to the ruthless Ayn Rand and the ruthless cabal that backed her.

        1. Walter Map

          I’m fond of observing that the ability to cooperate effectively often contributes to one’s ‘fitness’ and is a useful ‘survival’ technique. Note that even crony capitalism, dirty politics, and racketeering depend on cooperation.

          It’s instructive to see that Rand’s lead characters tend to succeed when others cooperate with them and fail when cooperation fails. Galt would have no doubt been executed had he not been rescued, for example. Rand quite blindly discredits herself conclusively.

    2. Walter Map

      Is that a duality or a polarity, do you suppose?

      And if my karma runs over your dogma, whose insurance company pays?

    3. reslez

      Human nature isn’t some cosmic battle of opposites. It’s two sides of the same coin.

      What neurologists and psychologists are discovering is that people constantly seek advantage for themselves and their kin. They also seek to spread good PR about themselves to attract allies: generosity is one way to do this. Generosity also expresses status by demonstrating command of resources. Kin and in-groups eventually reciprocate your generosity anyway. Finally, if you have low status you naturally favor egalitarian practices because they benefit you.

      Not much duality there.

      If there were studies with evidence showing people battling themselves over how much to donate vs. keep for themselves, this idea would be more convincing. But there really aren’t. People are affected by leading biases moment-to-moment but their motivations remain the same: seeking advantage and good PR. I don’t consider any of this venal or “low”, BTW. Generosity is indeed noble, and good reputations are beneficial for good reason.

      If you’re curious to read more I’d recommend Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind by Robert Kurzban.

      1. from Mexico

        What you have reiterated is a manifesto of the fundamental postulates of the dominant theories in social and biological sciences: neoclassicism in economics and the selfish gene in evolution.

        “[T]he fact is that neoclassicists have labored long and hard to show that practically all behavior is driven by pleasure and self-interest,” Amitai Etzioni observes in The Moral Dimension. “Altruistic acts are accounted for as ‘really’ being efforts to enhance one’s reputation, gain social approval, and so on.”

        And, contrary to your claim, “what neurologists and psychologists are discovering” is that neither neoclassical economic theory nor selfish gene theory have much basis in reality.

        This is but one example of the many papers debunking classical economic theory and selfish gene theory that have been recently published:

        Abstract: This paper provides strong evidence challenging the self-interest assumption that dominates the behavioral sciences and much evolutionary thinking. The evidence indicates that many people have a tendency to voluntarily cooperate, if treated fairly, and to punish noncooperators. We call this behavioral propensity ‘strong reciprocity’ and show empirically that it can lead to almost universal cooperation in circumstances in which purely self-interested behavior would cause a complete breakdown of cooperation. Strong Reciprocity cannot be rationalized as an adaptive trait by the leading evolutionary theories of human cooperation, i.e., by kin selection theory, reciprocal altruism theory, indirect reciprocity theory and costly signaling theory.

        http://www.vwl.tuwien.ac.at/lva/expoek.ps/artikel/altruismus_und_reziprozitaet/strong_reciprocity_human_cooperation_and_enforcement_of_social_norms.pdf

        1. allcoppedout

          Well said. I’d just point out the genes are ‘selfish’ in their own perpetuation terms and the concept has nothing to do with human selfishness other than as metaphor in the biological thinking. Dawkins explains this rather well somewhere in ‘The Extended Phenotype’ in asking the reader to consider a Martian from a completely cooperative society looking at human computing systems full of passwords and other security his own society had no need of. What sense could he make of such with no understanding of why we humans use them, using only his Martian assumptions?

          The neo-liberal and neo-classicals are perhaps best viewed as argumentative machines driven by their biology to win at argument, unable to grasp how this limits rationality and argument, particularly in restricting the arguments we have to those where ‘evidence’ seems easy to array.

  2. George Hier

    Is anyone else having difficulties viewing the “Wheels Falling Off the Imperial Reality-Creating Machine” article? One of the javascript functions on that page seems to be eating the article, because the text shows briefly, then disappears. The only way I can read it is by hitting the stop button before it finishes loading. I don’t have any issues with any other recent articles.

    1. AbyNormal

      using FF i click on ‘read the rest’ and see the piece for less than a minute an poof…lambert musta tapped into a delicate vein :-/

      “A work of Art works because its True, not because its real”
      yann martel

    2. Auntienene

      Yes, I was using an ipad. Switched to notebook using ie10 and could only view it while constantly scrolling with up/down keys. Oh, my eyes!

    3. BillC

      Happens to me too on Linux (Ubuntu 12.04.1 “Precise”) whether I use Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.

      I am able to sidestep the problem by either:

      1. Clicking the “stop” button on your browser after you see the main text appear, and before it downloads whatever content makes it all go “poof.”

      2. Disabling JavaScript, which seems to be the mechanism that either implements or invokes the problem.

      Appears to be caused by some content in the page, possibly related an apparently extraneous HTML table (similar to a table in the text) embedded between the “Donate” and “Subscribe” buttons at the bottom of the page.

  3. from Mexico

    @ “EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack”

    Excerpt from the article:

    The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying Monday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.”

    However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

    “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

    Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

    This may help to explain Obama’s trigger happiness: a desire to cover up for our good buddies, the Saudi ruling family, which certainly must rank as one of the most brutal dictatorship on the planet. Maybe it is Obama, and not Assad, who is in the business of destroying forensic evidence. What better way to do this than with some well-placed missle strikes on the affected areas?

    Words like character and credibility don’t even exist in the vocabularies of men like Cheney and Obama, Rumsfeld, Biden and Kerry. I’m reminded of this from Ernest Hemingway:

    It is very easy to fool the people at the start of a war and run it on a confidential basis. But later the wounded start coming back and the actual news spreads. Then, finally, when we have won, the men who fought the war come home. There will be millions of them who will come home knowing how things were. A government which wants to keep the confidence of its people after the war, or during the last stages of it, should take the people into its confidence and tell them everything that they can know, bad as well as good, so long as their knowing of it does not help the enemy. Covering up the errors to save the men who make them can only lead to a lack of confidence which can be one of the greatest dangers a nation can face.

    1. from Mexico

      This from Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem also seems germane:

      It is true that totalitarian domination tried to establish these holes of oblivion into which all deeds, good and evil, would disappear, but just as the Nazis’ feverish attempts, from June, 1942, on, to erase all traces of the massacres — through cremation, through burning in open pits, through the use of explosives and flame-throwers and bone-crushing machinery — were doomed to failure, so all efforts to let their opponents “disappear in silent anonymity” were in vain. The holes of oblivion do not exist. Nothing human is that perfect, and there are simply too many people in the world to make oblivion possible. One man will always be left alive to tell the story.

      1. allcoppedout

        Weirdly enough, one of the arguments of the most idiot deniers was the absence of eye-witnesses. More modern ones include tbe ‘it happened but we suffered worse’ – very common in the Middle East, almost as if they believe Jews get special treatment by making the claim. The likely million Iraqis and 100,000 Syrians killed recently have remained remarkably anonymous in our media when one thinks back to Vietnam – how does the media do this?

    2. Richard Kline

      So the only ‘source’ for that article is the hearsay account of someone regarding 13 dead men “unavailable for comment?” Nothing anyone actually saw or recorded. No physical evidence. “Certain rebel factions”: which ones? Any follow-up interviewing? And of course ‘his dead son’ just knew that Bandar bin Sultan was the person responsible.

      Aii-yieiei-yiiii. from, buddy: There’s nothing about the insurgents in Syria you won’t believe, and nothing about the Baathists you will believe. _I_ believe that’s called a confirmation bias.

      Just for a moment: Stop and think what you are implying in alleging ‘the insurgents did it.’ Consider what, physically, organizationally, and morally had to be in place for that to happen? Rebels who, what faction, by what means, where? These are things that leave tracks. A faction so sociopathic that they would slaughter now thousands—and nobody would know about them, because,like ‘they’re secretive?’ Please, try to at least insult our intelligence rather than spread your cognitive dissonance. There are a series of incidents where chemicals have been used, or alleged to have been used. There have been reports on most of those. My point is, there is a body of evidence readily available to begin to chip away at some of the preceding questions. Have you, for a second, in any way, engaged with _any such thinking_, and that body of evidence. Not that that is either clear or definitive. If you haven’t, and there is no reason to believe by what you comment here that you have, then please make an effort to actually be an educated fool rather than a bug-eyed conspiracy monger before you continue in this vein. Maybe you’ll actually build a case for something founded upon something other than the vapors of your own expectations. That would be new; I might even be interested . . . .

      1. charles sereno

        Richard Kline, you state that there is a body of evidence that is neither clear nor definitive. Do you then regard our government’s claim of certainty as: 1) a cause for action; 2) conspiracy mongering; or 3) neither? Your answer would clarify your position in my mind.

      2. susan the other

        I thought those posts about Bandar Bush were pretty interesting. We know he has very close ties to the Bush family (hence Barbara gave him his nickname). And there were indications during the 9/11 attack and subsequent mobilization that Bandar was up to his eyeballs in the whole thing. This information is as reliable as the “trust me” stuff Obama and Kerry are giving us. It is impossible to know who did the gassing without clear evidence.

      3. Eureka Springs

        Ad hominem overload, dude. I don’t understand why you aren’t moderated for this drunken freshman type hazing. You seem most eager to attack any and all ’round these parts while admitting you don’t have definitive evidence as well. What makes you so ‘special’? Must everyone hate on Assad before each and every other thought expressed? But I also want to thank you for reminding me so clearly what an arrogant proponent of humanitarian bombing is really like over recent days.

        There is no definitive proof. But we know the insurgents are foreign militia with foreign supplied training, weapons, money. We know most are of the muslim brotherhood or al Qaeda types… Like Neoliberal or Neo Con… there are no good guys. Assad, however, does have a country to defend and by all accounts I have seen over many months the people of Syria overwhelmingly support him now.

        Who the west and their allies are and what/how they have long conducted themselves is obviously going to weigh heaviest upon many here as it should. It is hardly conspiratorial to consider the possibility we are doing the exact same things we have been doing around the world for a long time.

      4. Patricia

        Well, Richard, it’s an old dilemma for those who live far from the center-of-activity and in a society with unreliable media—who will you believe, the anecdote or the bureaucrat? Does it make a difference if there are several anecdotes on the ground and several allied nations’ bureaucrats ensconced in their offices? What if most of the anecdotes are anonymous but the bureaucrats have a history of lying?

        Not even you, old man, can be relieved of “confirmation bias” in a situation like that.

        1. Synopticist

          This is the thing, who to believe. Unfortunately, our own governments have failed to convince us because they’ve been caught lying so frequently. And we’ve all noted the biased MSM.

          I mean, where are the transcripts for these panicked conversations amongst regime bigwigs? How many radar traces are there of the rockets? Show us, and we might be a lot less sceptical. But don’t just expect us to take their word for it, those days are over.

      5. from Mexico

        Richard Kline says:

        Aii-yieiei-yiiii. from, buddy: There’s nothing about the insurgents in Syria you won’t believe, and nothing about the Baathists you will believe. _I_ believe that’s called a confirmation bias.

        Maybe so. Maybe not.

        But on the other hand, there’s nothing that issues from the mouth of Obama, Biden, Kerry and Rice that you won’t believe.

        And I would argue that the burden of proof for your team is much greater than it is for the team you have placed me in. It is, after all, your team which advocates the magistrate’s sword be unsheathed. And unless we’ve upended American jurisprudence, the principle of innocent until proven guilty still stands, as opposed to the principle of guilty until proven innocent; which you, Obama, Biden, Kerry, and Rice seem to be so enamored of.

        “The great maxim of all civilized legal systems, that the burden of proof must always rest with the accuser, sprang from the insight that only guilt can be irrefutably proved. Innocence, on the contrary, to the extent that it is more than ‘not guilty’, cannot be proved” (Hannah Arendt, On Revolution).

      6. from Mexico

        Richard Kline said:

        • Please, try to at least insult our intelligence rather than spread your cognitive dissonance.

        •…please make an effort to actually be an educated fool rather than a bug-eyed conspiracy monger…

        • Maybe you’ll actually build a case for something founded upon something other than the vapors of your own expectations.

        Channelling your inner neocon there, are we? You certainly demonstrate all the hallmarks.

        As we can discern from your screed, neoconservatism operates by adding yet another coating of mandatory sanctimony to a society that already has trouble talking about things frankly and honestly. It is, quite simply, an attack on freedom and autonomy for people to be pressured, or required, to attend chapel and told what is proper to think, to feel, and to believe.

        In such a way does neoconservatism limit discussion; it makes people afraid to say what they think and feel; it presents its own version of truth as self-evident and beyond dispute. It often operates, not through the usual means of civil disoucrse and persuasion, but via intimidation and intellectual decree.

      7. Synopticist

        These are things that leave tracks. “A faction so sociopathic that they would slaughter now thousands—and nobody would know about them, because,like ‘they’re secretive?”

        This is al qaeda we’re talking about here.

        “These are things that leave tracks.”

        Yeah, and do you think Saudi intel alongside Mossad aren’t sophisticated enough to cover them? If they so desired?

        Maybe these attacks were done by the regime. But there’s a decent chance they weren’t.

    3. Crazy Horse

      Speaking of ties between the Saudi ruling family and our ruling family, has anybody ever refuted the stories by the pilots who flew the planes that evacuated all members of the Bin Laden family from the US during the four days after 911 when all civilian air travel was grounded? I believe that assertion was made in Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, and I’ve never read any attempt to prove it false.

      What we do know is that there were “business” ties between the Bush dynasty and the Bin Laden family who are among the wealthiest in the Kingdom. And that alleged black sheep Osama was a CIA property and conduit for funds when the US was covertly funding the fledgling Al Qaeda forces in their fight to expel the Soviet Union from Afghanistan.

      So our alliance with Al Qaeda elements among the Syrian rebels wouldn’t be the first time they have been useful allies.

    4. Dr. Noschidt

      frMex: Oddly, no-one makes call to “consider the source” — you know, the “DNA” of the weapon strain that leads to whodunnit. Where do you spose that lab is? Is it a “secret”?

    5. Paul Tioxon

      On the local ABC news affiliate, a report on Syrian expats, living in Allentown, PA who protested in the streets against any US military intervention, claiming that only the rebels would benefit from a gas attack because a military attack from NATO against the Assad regime would be come in short order. This would stand to reason, since Obama drew his famous red line that should not be crossed. Perhaps he should have bought an ACME Bomb sign, like the one that Netanyahu used at the UN, and would have avoided the this negotiating faux paux. Don’t telegraph what will trigger a response, keep them wondering! Duh!
      ———————————————————–

      http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=9225293
      ” ALLENTOWN, Pa. – August 30, 2013 (WPVI) — The march toward U.S. military action in Syria is hitting close to home for a large group of area residents.

      The Lehigh Valley is home to an estimated 15,000 to 25,000 people of Syrian descent.

      Some 150 to 200 took to the streets Friday, chanting slogans like, “U.S., NATO: Hands off Syria!”

      This is an emotional issue. The fear is that if the Obama Administration orders an attack on the Assad regime, it could plunge Syria into civil chaos.

      “We are asking Mr. Obama to stop interfering,” said May Issa of Allentown. “We don’t want war. It’s the same scenario as Iraq.”

      Many here are second- and third-generation Americans, and most are Christians. Many still have family in Syria.

      Their concern is that among the rebels are jihadists whose goal, they believe, is to take control of Syria and target Christians and other minorities who are now protected by Assad.

      “If he goes, what is going to happen is probably a harsh Islamic regime is going to take over,” said Rev. Afaf Atoyeh-Darcy of Allentown.

      But what about the suspected use of chemical weapons last week?

      The U.S. said Friday it has high confidence the attack was carried out by the Syrian government.

      These protesters say that makes no sense. Why do that, they ask, knowing U.N. inspectors were there?

      “So very, very foolish of the regime to use chemical weapons while investigators, while the U.N. is there in Damascus,” said Aziz Wehbey of the American Syrian Society.

      The thinking here is that al Qaeda elements unleashed chemicals to trigger a Western attack on Assad.

      “Who benefits most by a chemical attack? Certainly not him,” said Nabil Mahrtam of Allentown, referring to Assad. “It will only expand the conflict.”

      This was the first mass gathering in this area, but organizers say there will be more.

      They say they have an important message that America needs to hear.

  4. charles sereno

    Libertarian Bum Fights (Ames)
    Very smart writers like Mark Ames and Doug Valentine have been spending much time recently criticizing Greenwald, Snowden, Assange, Ellsberg, among other real jerks like Fein. I find it unbalanced. Even if not intended, it effectively does the devil’s work. I’m not saying that criticism should be off limits. I’m just questioning why it is so one-sided.

    1. YankeeFrank

      Ames & his crew have had it in for Greenwald for a long time. Apparently Glenn had been paid for giving a speech at the Cato Institute, and now he apparently went on a speaking tour organized by a group of racist libertarian wackadoos.

      I really don’t know Greenwald’s views on issues outside of civil liberties frankly, and I don’t really care that much. As far as I’ve seen his beat is civil liberties and he only once wrote something I thought was a bit suspect in support of corporate free speech.

      I’m not sure Ames is wrong to be wary (he’s a bit more than wary) but its undeniable that Glenn Greenwald has done some very important reporting over the years. I like a lot of Ames’ reporting and I think he’s on the money most of the time. But I also feel that way about Greenwald. It seems to me that the internet has allowed a lot of feuds and tit for tat attacks between journalists and bloggers who don’t like each other. The format lends itself to instant reactions and there is very little in the way of word count concerns, so I think this sort of petty garbage is just going to happen. Human nature and all that.

      1. mookie

        I think you’ve got it about right YankeeFrank. Ames sees Greenwald as a self-important, pretentious crypto-libertarian, but even if he’s right pretentious people do important things every once in a while.
        Ames quotes from Adam Curtis’s recent essay BUGGER about the incompetent buffonery of Britain’s intelligence community. It’s interesting to consider this incompetence alongside Gaius Publius’s piece from the other day. Both can be true. The surveillance program’s only effective use is likely as a political weapon within the state, not as the anti-terrah tool it was sold as.

    2. Glenn Condell

      Ames and Valentine: there is an element of jealousy, powered by their relative lack of recognition pounding a similar beat, and spiced by the distaste for the cut of Greenwald’s jib. They must feel like Ed Roberts as he watched Bill Gates become a supernova, partly powered by his own advances.

      Like Greenwald, the value of their work trumps this peevish bullshit.

  5. allcoppedout

    Skipping through the links today, I wondered when I last read, let alone bought a newspaper. Lambert’s picks are so good I begin to think I may as well give up and let him do that for me too! There is plenty of good information about, but we don’t seem to be changing much. We seem to lack the stigmergy – hardly likely to catch on given it sounds like something descriptive of Blair and Bush praying together. In fact, its just the sort of small start, leaderless snowball stuff we need.
    http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/10004/1/3z2fx4r7prqwob3vfdq.pdf

    Each link deals with the dire undercurrents below mainstream reporting. Tepco seem to be containing their nuclear disaster on a wing and a prayer, proof in Syria seems the opposite of our government claims – though here no one seems to have noticed that the real story is probably that some very unsavoury types have their hands on sarin and the supply chain looks fragile enough for there to be a real threat from terrorists on our soil – and the five year plus financial scandal ticks on.

    What there are no stories of are the likes of David Graeber’s egalitarian ‘tribe’ in Madagascar who had morphed to such from a noble-slave past and IMF neglect. We have 2000 people turned out in London at an anti-Syrian-war protest, our Parliament has blundered to the right decision, but the wrong practice looks certain to continue as Obama throws the switch.

    Apparently radical information is everywhere except in the smiling brotherhood of mainstream media, but radical change is either nowhere or taking vicious, sectarian and neo-imperialist form in conflict.

    One possibility in this lack of credible, peaceful radical change is that our chatter is just chatter, an allowable relief valve. At the centre of control lies finance and we seem to have little chatter on radical change to this system or genuine analysis of its structure. Money is not just the click of keystrokes in a bank when it ends up with Prince Bandar or the banker and CEO bonus trough. I’d like to know a lot more on why the financial system needs to be so secretive and why changing it is not up for grabs in our supposed democracies. Onward to stigmergy!

      1. allcoppedout

        Only to beer – though I did work with military intelligence for a year or so – you park your brains at the door there!

    1. Glenn Condell

      ‘no one seems to have noticed that the real story is probably that some very unsavoury types have their hands on sarin and the supply chain looks fragile enough for there to be a real threat from terrorists on our soil’

      I know, why don’t we get the NSA to look into it!

      1. Yves Smith

        Can’t find it readily thanks to the suckification of Google (it was much better in 2009 as a search engine) but I saw a long and careful analysis of the tapes a few days back. The toxic agent is not sarin or any other nerve gas, first responders would be showing reactions on the vid if they were. Also went through other toxins considered to be WMD, and none fit. The agent looks to have been a toxic commercial chemical (there are tons) and not military grade.

  6. real

    Why Fukushima is worse than you think CNN

    Another conspiracy theory which became conspiracy fact…surprising how MSM outlet like CNN can afford to print truth…I don’t it goes with CNN’s corporate motto to spew as much govt propaganda as possible and mislead citizens of world..
    So far many conspiracy theories have became facts:NSA spying,secret govt by selected elites(published by wapo),US under “national emergency from 2001″,NWO agenda and one world govt..etc etc
    wait for few decades and role of US govt in 9-11 and after 9-11 will be revealed

    1. charles sereno

      Here is the final paragraph from your link. Greenwald is writing prior to the 2012 Presidential election:
      “It’s perfectly legitimate to criticize [Ron] Paul harshly and point out the horrible aspects of his belief system and past actions. But that’s worthwhile only if it’s accompanied by a similarly candid assessment of all the candidates, including the sitting President.”
      Sounds balanced to me.

  7. 12312399

    today in Friday three-day weekend news dump.

    “Court rules White House visitor logs can be kept secret”

    A federal appeals court ruled Friday that White House visitor logs can be kept secret.

    The ruling from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed a district court decision from 2011 that all White House visitor records are subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosure requirements.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/08/30/white-house-visitors-foia-appeals-court/2742823/

    change you can believe in!

  8. Ned Ludd

    Glenn Greenwald responded to the revelation that Miranda was carrying a password:

    Good encryption requires multiple passwords, not just one. That pw allows no access to documents, period.

    If data is encrypted with two passwords, knowing only one password gets you nowhere. They could also encrypt files using a password and a keyfile; the keyfile could be any file in the world, including an mp3 from their music collection or a file full of random data.

    From the article (emphasis added):

    However, among the unencrypted documents … was a piece of paper that included the password for decrypting one of the encrypted files on the external hard drive recovered from the claimant.

    “The fact that … the claimant was carrying on his person a handwritten piece of paper containing the password for one of the encypted [sic] files … is a sign of very poor information security practice.”

    One of the files. What was in that file? Another encrypted file? The phone number of Miranda’s lawyer? The article never states that any of the secret documents that Snowden copied were found or decrypted. The U.K. government is simply using the existence of the password to try to impugn the integrity of the journalists.

    1. Ned Ludd

      Carrying a separate, additional password on each trip – one that is different for each trip and is never stored digitally – would guarantee forward secrecy† in those cases where someone surreptitiously‡ copied the files.

      † In the future, if the government learned how to decrypt any files from the journalists, they still could not go back and decrypt previous information that they had copied.
      ‡ For example, at a security checkpoint.

  9. from Mexico

    @ “The ethics of a Syrian military intervention: The experts respond”

    From the article:

    Would the “Just War” doctrine justify U.S. military action, and what is America’s moral responsibility?

    That is a loaded question, which of course skews the entire discussion because it limits the debate to the confines of just war theory. Just war theory is the alpha and the omega of neoconservatives and neoliberals, and they have struggled long and hard for the past 50 years to revive and proselytize it. There are, however, other traditions and philosophies out there which challenge just war theory.

    One of these is the classic realist tradition, which was highly influential in US foreign policy from the late 1930s through the 1980s, and which offered a counterbalance to the just law theorizing of the neoconservatives and neoliberals. It completely rejectected the notion of “just war.” In the classic, or moral, realist philosophy, all war is evil, and there isn’t such a thing as just war. Classic realism is an outgrowth of pacifism, which has its roots in liberal Protestantism, in the teachings of, for instance, the Mennonites and Anabaptists. Passifists believe all war is evil, even defensive war. Classic realists accept this proposition, but posit a choice between the worse of two evils. For the classic realists, the only war which is allowed is that which is waged against an enemy which threatens the life of the nation. But even defensive war doesn’t cease to be evil, and war is never proclaimed to be “just.”

    On the other hand, just war theory has its roots in conservative Protestantism – in Calvinism – and in the doctrines of medieval Catholicsm. The just war tradition celebrates war, and the decision to go to war is never a decision between two evils. Aquinas insits that war is not merely allowable but, on the contrary, it is positively “meritorious for princes to exercise vindication of justice with zeal against evil people.”

    John Calvin was even more explicit with regard to the obligations (not mere permission) of the civil authority to wage war. While “the law of the Lord forbids killing,” Calvin observed, in order “that murderers may not go unpunished, the Lawgiver himself puts into the hands of his ministers a sword to be drawn against all murderers….” Citing several biblical examples, Calvin argued that since the “true righteousness” of the civil magistrate is “to pursue the guilty and impious with drawn sword,” then if magistrates should rather “sheathe their sword and keep their hands clean of blood, while [in a passage most relevant to contemporary terrorism] abandoned men wickedly range about with slaughter and massacre, they will become guilty of the greatest impiety.”

    Calvin is simply summarizing the conservative Christian “consensus that a virtuous statesman is obligated to use force not as a necessary or lesser evil, but as a positive obligation. To refrain from using proportionate and discriminate force in defense of justice, order and peace is to act impiously (or viciously). For Calvin (and here he is simply rearticulating the tradition), soldiering is a holy vocation, and to reprove this vocation is to blaspheme God. The chasm between Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin, on the one hand, and the consequentialism or proportionalism of Niebuhr and his modern [classic realist] disciples is therefore quite profound, although it may appear seemingly superficial because of their mutual rejection of pacifism” (Keith Pavlischek, “Reinhold Niebuhr, Christian Realism, and Just War Theory: A Critique”).

    Just war theory opens up a whole new world of rationales for war, such as the propagation of the one true faith or humanitarian intervention, which either do not exist or exist in highly constrained forms in classic realist philosophy.

    Classic realist philosophy, in addition to just war theory, should also not be confused with the amoral or immoral realism of someone like Henry Kissinger, whose motto could be, to paraphrase Bernard Williams, the “priority of politics to morality.” This is a deeply conservative brand of realism which “fetishizes the state and military power, and disdains progressive change in the international order,” and argues “that international relations must be viewed under the category of power and that the conduct of nations is, and should be [emphasis mine], guided and judged exclusively by the amoral requirements of the national interest” (Duncan Bell, Under an Empty Sky — Realism and Political Theory).

    1. charles sereno

      It might be worth mentioning that a minority, modern Catholic pacifist movement (exemplified by the Catholic Worker) harks back to very early, pre-medieval Christian traditions and a rather literal reading of the New Testament.

      1. from Mexico

        That’s right. My bad.

        I don’t know a great deal about the Catholic pacifist tradition, other than it dates back to at least the early 16th century. In 1531, for instance, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda wrote of a student protest at the Colegio de Los Españoles de San Clemente in Bolonia, Italy. The students were protesting against the war against the Muslims, under the principle that “all war, including defensive war, is contrary to the principles of the Catholic religion.”

        http://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/ASHF/article/view/ASHF0404110091A

    2. mindfap

      This just-war fixation chaps my ass. Just-war theory is Brennan’s way of avoiding the law. There’s ninety-odd years of customary, conventional, and case law on war. Not theory, law. Meanwhile the Obama administration is invoking a dark-age horndog, patron saint of brewers. Why would that be? Because Brennan spoonfeeds it to his spokesmodel Obama to avoid official acknowledgement of criminal intent.

      Come on – would it fool you if John Wayne Gacy was on trial for handcuffing boys and buttfcking them and strangling them and burying them in his crawlspace, and to defend himself in court he quotes Plato’s philosophy of man-boy love? Then why are you going to let a criminal aggressor get away with it? Just war is bullshit.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Hey, as a recovering Calvinist, I represent your incinerations. Speaking of which, the God of perfect love and justice has an unquenchable lake of eternal fire reserved for you. (I hope FB is offline today ;-))

      On the justification for war, here are some highly pertinent quotes from Obama and Biden, only slightly dated:

      1. Barack Obama, during an interview with Charlie Savage on December 20, 2007: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

      2. Joe Biden, during a television interview in 2007: “The president has no constitutional authority … to take this nation to war … unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof we are about to be attacked. And if he does, if he does, I would move to impeach him.”

      From Economic Collapse Blog: 25 Quotes About The Coming War With Syria That Every American Should See)

      I look forward to reading Biden’s articles of impeachment. Never have I have witnessed so stark a reversal from campaigning to governing.

      1. Montanamaven

        Former Calvinist too. Although I got skeptical as a per teen already. The Calvinettes did me in.

        I found the comments over at Moon of Alabama very interesting. Some were downright fun like the speculation that Biden is hoping O bombs Syria , gets impeached, then Biden becomes president.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          The Calvinist CRC had some redeeming value, but its frightful and twisted theology went beyond dissonance to cognitive torment. I think it was terrifying by design, more horrifying than any of Grimm’s fables, especially on the inquisitive minds of children who are quite perceptive and sensitive to contradiction. That can cause lasting damage. It took some time to realize that it was not me who was hopelessly insane after all, but rather the author(s) of such a perverse and wicked doctrine, especially as I witnessed the nearly infinite contortions and permutations it could assume under Churchianity in general (not just Calvinism) in the service of all manner of evil.

          Losing one’s faith is devastating, depressing and infuriating — an emptying of purpose, meaning and identity (losing one’s “Chosen” status among “the Elect”). It takes time and conscious attention to rekindle more genuine inclusive empathy, childlike acceptance of mystery, and a different king of faith, with more authentic emotional depth. But a big plus is a healthy and abiding skepticism of authority and near total immunity to propaganda.

          I have relatives in the Bozeman area, BTW.

    4. MikeNY

      Where do you come down on the question, from Mexico?

      I tend to think MLK was over-optimistic, or overly confident about divine grace, and Niebuhr was right: that there are times when violence or war can be justified. And perhaps defense of the homeland from an invader is not the worst place to draw the “red line”, excuse the phrase. I think Niebuhr was correct that non-violent resistance relies on some basic decency of conscience in the oppressor, some ability to be “shamed”. I also suspect it is less efficacious in conflicts between nations, due to base emotions of patriotism and nationalism.

      I do still think such violence is evil, however.

      It is a thorny issue, a very tough call, IMO.

      1. from Mexico

        Mark me up with Niebuhr.

        MLK, on the other hand, was in the pacifist camp.

        I believe in self defense and, domestically, in punishing cheats, free-riders and violent criminals. It’s an obligation, though, conducted at a personal cost, and not something I take pleasure in.

  10. susan the other

    Automaticearth. Economic Hypothermia. This is the best description I have read. When are we going to ask the question. “Why doesn’t capitalism work any more?” Or maybe ask, “What form of economics will work now?” Or, “If the system is dying, why are we poor, disenfranchised people being made to keep it alive with absurd debt burdens?” Etc. The stated goal is for 2% growth – nothing higher, which has been called “stall speed” – an economy that cannot service debt at all. Where is the justice in this grim turn of events?

    1. AbyNormal

      Hear Hear MyDear, we’re never alone!

      A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. … A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.”
      Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

      NEVER FORGET THAT JUSTICE IS WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE IN PUBLIC
      Dr. Cornel West

    1. Jagger

      Fascinating article. It certainly makes sense that the constant stress of poverty would have a negative impact on cognitive ability.

  11. charles sereno

    Breaking news: Pietro Parolin, Titular Archbishop of Aquipendium, has been appointed Secretary of State by Pope Francis. Parolin (58), barely past adolescence, replaces Cardinal Bertone (78) who is being wheeled out. Pietro has visited a number of questionable countries — among others, North Korea and Venezuela (horrors, he even speaks Spanish), where he’s served as Apostolic Nuncio for almost 4 years. He’s got his job cut out for him. He’s expected to clean out the stables of the Roman Curia and the Vatican Bank, a Herculean task.
    PS: I checked with the CIA World Factbook and couldn’t find any trace of Aquipendium. Hmmm. (joke)

  12. rich

    America Totally Discredited — Paul Craig Roberts

    Two decades of jobs offshoring has left the US with a third world labor force employed in lowly paid domestic nontradable services, a workforce comparable to India’s of 40 years ago. Already the “world’s sole superpower” is afflicted with a large percentage of its population dependent on government welfare for survival. As the economy closes down, the government’s ability to meet the rising demands of survival diminishes. The rich will demand that the poor be sacrificed in the interest of the rich. And the political parties will comply.

    Is this the reason that Homeland Security, a Nazi Gestapo institution, now has a large and growing para-military force equipped with tanks, drones, and billions of rounds of ammunition?

    How long will it be before American citizens are shot down in their streets by “their” government as occurs frequently in Washington’s close allies in Egypt, Turkey, Bahrain?

    Americans have neglected the requirements of liberty. Americans are so patriotic and so gullible that all the government has to do is to wrap itself in the flag, and the people, or too many of them, believe whatever lie the government tells. And the gullible people will defend the government’s lie to their death, indeed, to the death of the entire world.

    If Americans keep believing the government’s lies, they have no future. If truth be known, Americans have already lost a livable future. The neocons’ “American Century” is over before it begun.

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/08/30/america-totally-discredited-paul-craig-roberts/

  13. Doug Terpstra

    Paul Craig Roberts launched a scorched-earth fusillade against Obama’s warmongering yesterday in two damning back-to-back indictments of his prospective war crimes:

    America Totally Discredited and Will Obama Doom Himself As A War Criminal?

    A foolish President Obama and moronic Secretary of State Kerry have handed the United States government its worst diplomatic defeat in history and destroyed the credibility of the Office of the President, the Department of State, and the entire executive branch. All are exposed as a collection of third-rate liars.

    Intoxicated with hubris from past successful lies and deceptions used to destroy Iraq and Libya, Obama thought the US “superpower,” the “exceptional” and “indispensable” country, could pull it off again, this time in Syria.

    But the rest of the world has learned to avoid Washington’s rush to war when there is no evidence. A foolish Obama was pushed far out on the limb by an incompetent and untrustworthy National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, and the pack of neoconservatives that support her, and the British Parliament cut the limb off.

    What kind of fool would put himself in that vulnerable position?

    Now Obama stands alone, isolated, trying to back away from his threat to attack without authorization from anyone–not from the UN, not from NATO, not from Congress who he ignored–a sovereign country. Under the Nuremberg Standard military aggression is a war crime. Washington has until now got away with its war crimes by cloaking them in UN or NATO approval. Despite these “approvals,” they remain war crimes.
    [...]
    …if Obama goes it alone, he will be harassed for the rest of his life as a war criminal who dares not leave the US. Indeed, a looming economic collapse could so alter the power and attitude of the United States that Obama could find himself brought to justice for his war crimes.

    Regardless, the United States government has lost its credibility throughout the world and will never regain it, unless the Bush and Obama regimes are arrested and put on trial for their war crimes.

    ———–

    …No country regards the criminal states of Turkey and Israel as cover for a war crime. If Obama is pushed by Susan Rice and the evil neocons, who are strongly allied with Israel, into going it alone and conducting a military strike on Syria, Obama will have made himself an unambiguous War Criminal under the Nuremberg Standard created by the US Government. Unprovoked military aggression is a war crime under international law. That is completely clear. There are no ifs or buts about it.

    If Obama now strikes Syria, when he has no cover from the UN, or from NATO, or from the American people, or from Congress, having ignored the House and Senate, Obama will stand before the entire world, starkly, as a War Criminal. Unless the world is prepared to flush international law, arrest orders for the War Criminal will have to come from the Hague. Obama will have to be handed over and put on trial. He will have no more leg to stand on than did the Nazis.

    The evil neocons are telling Obama that he must prove that he is a man and go it alone.

    If Obama does, he will prove that he is a War Criminal.

    1. Jagger

      Roberts also makes this interesting statement:

      — It is likely that this autumn or winter, and almost certainly in 2014, the US will face severe economic crisis.—

  14. mookie

    Possible unintended consequences of US attack on Syria:
    Little Kerry and the Three Bad Options Gary Brecher NSFW

    The people whose families were in the apartment blocks leveled by the SCUDs fired by the SAA don’t see it that way. They will want revenge, and they may even be entitled to it by whatever notion of justice strikes your fancy. But I seriously, seriously doubt that you will want to see those retaliatory massacres, no matter how justified you think they are.

    Because those massacres will be carried out old-style, up close, house by house. In other words, they’ll be the kind of massacre the Western public does not like.

    No one will be in the right, or wrong, or whatever—those words don’t work here. I’m just suggesting you may not want your cruise missiles and fighter-bombers to do the softening-up for what will happen.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Once again the War Nerd nails it.

      On occasion, I cannot believe that Brecher/Dolan is an American. Americans are too busy trying to cast the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ role. Why in the world should we be cheering on Assad or the ISIS? If the United States is stupid enough to actually go through with bombing Syria, I hope that we drop bombs on both sides.

      That would be the less than ideal fourth option.

  15. tongorad

    Freedom from jobs (Elliot Sperber):

    “…jobs are less preconditions for freedom than impediments to freedom’s concrete realization. Beyond consuming most of workers’ waking hours (consuming that which constitutes the precondition for freedom – time), jobs also wreck people’s health, vitiating freedom in the sense of bodily movement as well. Moreover, that people are compelled to work a job – in spite of the job’s actual function – demonstrates the consanguinity of jobs and dependency, rather than in-dependency. Some may counter at this point that needing a job is just a natural, unavoidable fact – that people must work to live. But the inordinately excessive amount of time that people devote to work in the US is less a natural fact than a cultural one.”

  16. diane

    in a whirled where patience, consideration and non $cientific concern is held in such disregard …is it any small wonder … that desolation is continually on the menu?

  17. Hugh

    Obama blinked, or rather has punted. I heard on cable news a few hours ago that Obama has decided to seek Congressional authorization for an attack against Syria. With the UK opting out, public sentiment against, some whingeing in Congress, and a G-20 conference coming up, Obama has decided to dump responsibility on Congress, thereby forcing them to sign off on an attack or by refusing to give him an out for not launching one. Obama has not suddenly remembered the Constitution or the War Powers Act. In his Libyan war, he thumbed his nose at both. I think rather the White House has been surprised by its lack of credibility and zero support for its next projected round of warmongering. In addition, the UN team in Syria was either being closely monitored or it was itself feeding info back to Western governments. There may have been something there or not there that gave further reasons to avoid an attack that might later turn into a PR fiasco.

    Lack of credibility is important to all this in the sense that Obama, his European allies, Israel, Assad, and the Syrian opposition all have negative credibility. We may never know what happened in the Ghouta attack, or not know for years. Any or none of the current stories might be true, or largely true. Or they may all be lies. The big story is as lambert notes in his post on wheels falling off the imperial reality (experiencing some kind of problem with the text and comments staying up), that listened to Obama and did not believe or were not swayed by him. Is this perhaps more signs of his lame duckery?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, let’s hope he blinked and punted, and the ball goes wide, or, better yet, dribbles off the field entirely.

      * * *

      The page had (my bad) some broken HTML. It’s fixed now. Clear your browser’s cache.

    2. Montanamaven

      Yeh, somebody also pointed out the impeachment thing maybe.

      I heard something disturbing on CNN . They reported that a pro Assad group launched a cyber attack on NY Times. Would a cyber attack be considered an imminent threat?

  18. Hugh

    I applaud Bill Mitchell for bringing up the issue of class war. Language is important in the struggle that we all find ourselves engaged. It is good to see that some of that language, which has been developed and promoted here, is penetrating into the wider economic and public spheres.

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