Links 6/24/10

Personality shows up in brain structure Paging Dr. Gupta (hat tip Glenn Stehle)

Goal! The thrill of World Cup victory Andrew Leonard, Salon (hat tip reader Frank A)

Energy Use in the US & Global Agri-Food Systems: Implications for Sustainable Agriculture The Oil Drum (hat tip Swedish Lex). While this raises an important issue, it is still incomplete. Food, energy, and water need to be treated in an integrated manner.

Gillard Takes Australia Leadership After Rudd Resigns Bloomberg and Gillard becomes Australia’s first female prime minister as tearful Rudd stands aside Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip CrocodileChuck).

Abramoff, From Prison to a Pizzeria Job New York Times

Confidence Waning in Obama, U.S. Outlook Wall Street Journal

Sweet Spot for China’s Blue-Collar Revolution Andy Xie, Caixin (hat tip reader Don B)

Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein ‘advised to go on Oprah’ Telegraph (hat tip Swedish Lex)

Fannie Mae Increases Penalties for Borrowers Who Walk Away Fannie Mae

Miles of oil washing up in Florida Panhandle Miami Herald (hat tip Doc Holiday)

Panhandle to BP: We Need Money Now CNN (hat tip Glenn Stehle)

“BP Journalists” and Their Greatest Propaganda Hits Columbia Journalism Review

Antidote du jour:


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  1. attempter

    The “BP journalism” is really disgusting, especially the snivelling little slaves it quotes (if those are actually real people).

    I bet scum like that comes really cheap, too.

    I remember after the latest Massey atrocity they did the same thing, trotting out a bunch of crypto-fascists, including a woman who was identified as having had her own brother killed in an earlier Massey murder, lauding Blankenship as their hero.

    “He’s the job creator”, she said.

    That’s actually all too common “logic” among the astroturfed. If Massey destroys two out of three mining jobs (that’s the main purpose of mountaintop removal mining – it requires far fewer workers), that really means it “created” the one that’s still there.

    So I guess by the time this oil eruption is over, anything on earth which is still alive will have been “saved by BP”.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      “It riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave.” (Shakespeare? Moody Blues?) As always, you are the morning dew creating beautiful art from deadly spider webs.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Oh, what a tangled web we weave
          when we fist practice to deceive

          After we’ve done it for a while
          How vastly we improve our style!!!

          — sorry, don’t remember the author

          The lesson here?

          Practice, practice and more practice!!!

  2. Rex

    From Blankfein/Oprah

    “Fiona Laffan, one of the bank’s European spinners”…
    “We [have] found ourselves in a place that we’re quite uncomfortable with … it’s all been very challenging,” Ms Laffan admitted.

    Well, that gave me a small sense of Schadenfreude. May Blankfein and friends enjoy amounts of discomfort similar to what they have caused, and may they go on to find things swell in hell.

  3. D. Warbucks

    Amazingly only 17% of Democrats disapprove of Obama, even though he is continuing all of Bush/Chaney policies only moreso. Equally amazingly, Republicans disapprove.

    This just goes to show how feeble-minded and unprincipled American voters are.

    1. DownSouth

      Oh well, so much for the notion that humans are always rational actors.

      Another data point from the poll that indicates group loyalty trumps rational self-interest: “African-Americans remain the firmest part of Mr. Obama’s base, with 91% approving of his job performance.”

      But I thought the most telling finding was this: “Just 44% of Obama voters—those who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 or told pollsters they intended to—now express high interest in the midterm elections. That’s a 38-point drop from this stage in the 2008 campaign.”

      Obama must wake up every morning and ask himself: “What can I do today to destroy the morale of my base?”

      As a campaigner to destroy progressive causes in America, Obama has been brilliant.

      1. NOTaREALmerican

        Re: As a campaigner to destroy progressive causes in America

        The “Progressive cause” is websites designed to deliver the guilt-ridden to the Democrats.

        If there was really a “Progressive cause” they’d be building the Green Party.

        The socialists are guilt (and a smothering all-knowing mommy Party that makes all your troubles go away), the fascists are meanness (a kick-ass all-knowing daddy Party that make all your troubles go away).

        Different clowns, same circus.

    2. Anonymous Jones

      So true, Daddy. It is quite dispiriting.

      Sadly, the public will get what it deserves.

  4. Richard Kline

    Re: miles of oil in Florida, not to worry folks, just ten more months of daily deliveries of the same, not including hurricane inland blow-ons. No need to panic yet; save that for when it’s needed later. And remember: corporate profiteers brought his home to you, up close and personal.

  5. EmilianoZ

    The Rolling Stone piece about McChrystal is actually very good. Everybody has focused on the disrespect shown to the civilian chain of command but this is only a small part of the article and not its most important.

    The article explains the administration’s strategy, COIN (counterinsurgency) and shows why it’s simply unimplementable. COIN rests on winning the local population, which obviously entails not killing civilians. But US soldiers on the ground do not like this. Not being able to fire at will simply puts them in greater danger. There’s a telling scene in the article where McChrystal travels to an outpost to talk to soldiers but fails to convince them that restraint is going to work.

    1. aet

      This is McCrystal’s policies that are failing:
      he’s been in charge of Afghan ops for a whilenow, and yet: he blames his Boss.

      It is not simply that “restraint” won’t work: neither would its opposite.
      Best to know why one has invaded another country, to determine success or failure….why are we there again?

  6. Doc Holiday

    Miles of oil washing up in Florida Panhandle

    “I didn’t think it was going to be quite like this on the beach,” Cousteau said. “We saw tar balls on the beach a few weeks ago. I expected that here. But it looks like it’s thicker, more viscous. I saw this in Grand Isle [Louisiana] three weeks ago.”
    He said he was encouraged that, as the oil arrived, so did the cleanup crews. “But this is something that people need to realize is a very serious situation and that Florida is not exempt from the crisis.”
    Takahashi-Kelso, the former Alaska official, said experience taught him crews must move fast if cleanup of the toxic mousse is going to be effective.
    “The time to be able to get it off the surface is right away before it really gets set in,” he said. “And this is the incredible, Florida powdery beach and the two don’t go together very well.”
    Takahashi-Kelso urged Crist and Sole to start assessing the damage to the state’s natural resources, and get BP to pay for it up fron

    Escambia County health officials warned beachgoers not to wade in oily water, not to touch the oil and not to fish in oily water.

    “Young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, and individuals with underlying respiratory conditions should avoid the area,” the health warning said.

    The oil had a chemical stench as it baked in the afternoon heat.

    “It’s pretty ugly, there’s no question about it,” Crist said.

    Linda Stephens and her family said under a beach umbrella nearby and watched the governor and his entourage.

    “It just makes you angry and made because all of this was man made,” Stephens said. “The worst part is when you look at that bird flying over there and think about what might happen to it.”

    ==> Also see:

  7. are you experienced?

    Time is running out with the oil spill–Time-is-running-out-with-the-oil-spill

    The county representative presented the facts that:

    1. There wasn’t any boom material reserved for Marco Island that he was aware of.

    2. The county was going to protect our beaches by installing six miles of hay bales end to end, that would be staked down above the high-water mark that were going to protect our beaches from tar balls.

    When asked how thousands of hay bales placed above the high-water mark were going to prevent oil, which is floating in the water, from getting on our beaches, the representative didn’t have any answer. When asked where these thousands of hay bales were being stored, again, nobody knew.

    Bottom line: There is no plan.

    Behind The Curve

    It is now apparent that BP, the Coast Guard, and the federal government are all way behind the curve in planning for prevention.

    As documented on every news show and in today’s papers, more and more of these communities are taking matters in their own hands.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Re: Is there any provision in the US constitution to dismiss the entire fricking supreme court?

      To be replaced by the who? The entire system is corrupt.

      You might ask the question: Is there any provision to replace the US constitution? But, (unfortunately) the answer would be: Replaced by WHO (not what, the “who’s” write the new one). Would you want a new constitution written by a society as corrupt as America?

      Thanks… I’ll take the sociopaths I know now.

  8. Michael

    Go Julia! Well not that I really think much of her, but I was always surprised at Rudd’s popularity, and it’s about time we had a chick in the top job.

    The implication that the mining industry had anything to do with his ousting is rather disturbing – implying that big money controls the shots very directly (or at least showing what we already know).

    Although I think in reality it had little to do with it and it was mostly down to internal party politics. Rudd tried to roll over the established party procedures with his own dictatorial control and for some odd reason that didn’t go down too well. Whilst he was the most popular PM in history he could get away with it, but the honeymoon couldn’t last forever. Not to mention treating staff poorly and refusing to delegate effectively to ministers.

    There’s no question that Rudd was doing what he thought was best for the country – and i think he did an alright job, if a little too business/farmer/christian lobby friendly – but he just didn’t go about it the right way given political realities of the party.

    1. gordon

      Oh, I think it was the mining tax, all right. Julia was offering “negotiations” to the miners before she was even formally sworn in. The mining industry’s ad. campaign has been successful and the backbenchers are panicked. Anything to keep their jobs, even knifing Rudd.

  9. anonymous

    McChrystal was the best US general for Afghanistan. E J Dionne tries as hard as he can to make McChrystal the bad guy here, but the fact is General Loose-Lips understood better than anyone I’ve read just how high the stakes are and just how bad the decisions the US is making are.

    The US has no plan B. There is no other credible leader after Karzai, as incredible as that sounds. Which means the general had that part right: who cares if Karzai is perceived as a stooge? That’s the Afghan president’s job. Dem failure to grasp the imperial nettle firmly isn’t just getting a lot of people in Afghanistan killed, the lack of strategy and will to win is on transparent display for the entire world to see.

    Invading Iraq was a bad idea. That didn’t make invading Afghanistan a good idea. In both cases there’s no exit strategy, not a real one. Loose-lips was presiding over a slow-motion train wreck. Petreaus might be strong enough to run for President, as some are suggesting. But the problem isn’t the generals, it’s the policies, or the lack thereof.

    McCain had one simple policy: America is staying until the Karzai government or whichever stooge eventually replaces him can more or less stand on his own. The entire Afghan operation is emblematic of the Dem can’t do approach. Yes, Afghanistan is a difficult environment. But America isn’t the USSR. The US can win small sections of territory and demonstrate to locals that the US isn’t going anywhere. That’s the only way the locals are going to turn against their own and explore other options.

    Biden was wrong about Iraq and wrong about the surge. Predator strikes in Pakistan are doing more harm than good. Thank Joe. This was never going to be easy. Setting artificial timelines and avoiding the difficult challenge of occupying and controlling a fairly substantial chunk of Afghanistan doesn’t mean the challenge gets any easier.

    Canada, the UK and other allies want out. The UK general understand this is a fifty-year project, but the UK economy can’t pay for that kind of commitment. Tough calls all round, and the guy in charge doesn’t have a clue what to do next, except try to get elected.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      But liberals (progressives, socialists, leftists, whatever) don’t forget, this November:

      Redeploy Steven. Vote Democratic

      If ya don’t SARAH’s gonna git ya!!!!

      (We have nothing to sell but fear itself)

    2. DownSouth

      anonymous said:

      ”…the lack of strategy and will to win is on transparent display for the entire world to see.”

      “The US can win small sections of territory and demonstrate to locals that the US isn’t going anywhere.”

      “This was never going to be easy. Setting artificial timelines…doesn’t mean the challenge gets any easier.”

      “The UK general understand this is a fifty-year Project…”

      What anonymous gives us are neocon talking points. Andrew Bacevich describes the neocon framing of the debate as follows:

      For critics of the New Left, Vietnam’s unhappy denouement revealed the full scope of the crisis engulfing the United States. The events following the fall of Saigon in April 1975—-Communist North Vietnam swallowing up a long-standing U.S. ally, droves of desperate “boat people” taking flight, and the Khmer Rouge turning nearby Cambodia into a slaughterhouse—-testified to a wholesale collapse of American nerve. “Defeatism generated by impotence” was one morose observer’s pithy description of the condition into which the United States and the West as a whole had fallen….

      New Leftists had seen in Vietnam evidence that the exercise of American power was invariably sordid in intent and lamentable in its impact. To their critics, the consequences of defeat demonstrated just the opposite: it was the absence of American power and will that invited catastrophe.


      Six propositions summarize the essence of the neoconservative persuasion…

      The first and most fundamental proposition is a theory of history….[that] conveys two large truths, applicable in all circumstance and for all time. The first truth is that evil is real. The second is that for evil to prevail requires one thing: for those confronted by it to flinch from duty.
      –Andrew J. Bachevich, The New American Militarism

  10. MichaelC


    In case you missed this, consider it for tomorrow’s links.

    Canadian ABCP saga lives on.

    The money quote from the article:

    “But whereas in the US, the Fed eventually stepped in to support ABCP markets in 2008; in Canada, major ABCP investors convened in Montreal in 2007, and agreed to convert about C$32bn of ABCP into long-term floating notes.”

    It’s good to see some new coverage of this (in my view) underreported but critical event.

    1. chad

      That looks like a Hyena to me. I’m no biologist but my gut instinct is getting close to a Hyena is ill-advised. I mean I could hug a shark under the right circumstances but what works today may not work out so well tomorrow heh :P

  11. Doc Holigram

    Apparently Disney & BP Partnering?

    Disney to be luxury homebuilder

    .. I don’t know, maybe it’s Toll and BP and Disney with underwriting from Countrywide …. I mean Citibank?

    “This time the project is “Golden Oak” with as many as 450 custom homes at the Walt Disney World Resort – yes, designed by Imagineers — priced between $1.5 and $8 million.
    Target market: Wealthy vacationers who apparently aren’t satisfied with luxury hotels. Disney plans to sell less than 30 this year at the project .”

    ==> This will be a great place for BP board members to hang out with politicians, as they dream up the next stages of the PR game… all the while, dressed in costumes and having a wonderful time, as their skirts flip higher and higher and the squeals of high-pitched fun grow louder and longer…

  12. Doc Holidays

    Raining oil in Louisiana? Video suggests Gulf oil spill causing crude rain

    The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued statements saying that the agency “has no data, information or scientific basis that suggests that oil mixed with dispersant could possibly evaporate from the Gulf into the water cycle.”

    ==> No data … wow, how could they be, and how could they also not have data on any human test associated with these dispersants?

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