Links 11/28/10

One scientist’s hobby: recreating the ice age Associated Press (hat tip reader John M)

Where the weird things are: Meet the pangolin, the mammal that thinks it’s a reptile Independent (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin). It actually looks cute.

Tuna group defies quota cut calls BBC. If we don’t stop eating bluefin, there will be no more bluefin.

Netherlands the ‘tallest nation’ Al Jazeera

Full-body scanners are waste of money, Israeli expert says Vancouver Sun (hat tip reader May S)

One-of-a-Kind Designs and Gifts Created Under Watchful Eyes New York Times. So this is how the US can compete in handicrafts?

Is There Anything to the Case Against Maxine Waters, Really? FireDogLake

Fairness and the cost of life for the poor in Britain OurKingdom (hat tip reader May S)

Ireland is Bankrupt…a letter from an Irish citizen Angry Bear

Civilian soldiers’ suicide rate alarming USA Today (hat tip reader May S)

Speaking Freely – Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony Vimeo (hat tip reader May S)

Black Friday Sales Rise 0.3% as Shoppers Await Better Deals Bloomberg. So consumers are demanding deflation?

Number of the Week: 492 Days From Default to Foreclosure Wall Street Journal

Register of Deeds asks AG to investigate mortgage group Salem Gazette (hat tip reader Barbara W).

Antidote du jour:

Picture 4

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  1. b

    “Full-body scanners are waste of money, Israeli expert says ”

    While that statement is correct, the intent of Israeli experts and their usual republican followers, is not get rid of the ridiculous TSA procedures, but to introduce racial profiling like the Israelis do in their airports. Then every no-white person will be taken through a two hour procedure turning their inside out just like the Israelis do it now.

    As Dana Milbank wrote in yesterdays Washington Post, the Israeli method transfer to the U.S. would cost many billions more (100+) than the current U.S. procedures cost.

    Besides – does the U.S. really want to be like Israel?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The one time I was in Tel Avi, on business, I was grilled for a half-hour by the airport security people. They even called one of the people on my intinerary to see I was legit. This was when I was LEAVING the country, which struck me as very peculiar. So unless blond women who are flying in and out of London and in the country fit some sort of ethnic profile, I’d say their methods are broader than just harrassing Arabs from suspect countries.

  2. Ina Deaver

    ICCAT has a really serious problem: set the quota too low, and you drive the market for bluefin straight into the hands of the criminal syndicates. The problem here is that no one will stop eating bluefin in Japan, select other places. Even if the entire US never eats another bite of bluefin, that will not dent the market. Same with shark fin, same with eel, same with certain other species that are associated with ritual or tradition in some populous place. Ending consumption of cod and haddock here would make a dent for those species, perhaps swordfish.

    We’ve learned through long experience that the money is far too good for people to follow the law. Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese fishermen have a very long history of ignoring any law regarding where, how much, what, and how they can fish. As a concrete example, just take a look at how the “drift net” ban has been working in the Pacific.

    I agree that this is a hideous, serious, problem. We’re destroying the ecosystem of the ocean. If you’ve never seen a high-seas commercial trawler, it is a very educational experience: the nets they use would fit several jumbo jets in the mouth. We’re vacuuming out the ocean. At least tuna are generally caught by long-lining, which is a little less horrific. It’s just a difficult problem to tamp down on demand that is based on extremely long tradition. This is not to say that there shouldn’t be a massive campaign to end consumption of bluefin. But I’m afraid you will just make it cheaper someplace else.

    Enforcement is almost impossible, so crushing the demand, or getting really good at the aquaculture of these highly migratory species, is the only way to go.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Zeus-boy writes lyrically about Ireland’s national bankruptcy. But this analogy doesn’t ring quite right:

    ‘As a nation we’re a joke, a laughing stock, and now it’s time to become a colony of the IMF under the direction of the same cowboy outfit that brought peace and prosperity to Argentina and Iceland.’

    Argentina is currently growing at 9%, after devaluing, paying off its IMF debt, and telling the international bureaucrats to take a flipping hike. So the sarcasm is misplaced.

    In fact, Zeus-boy does entertain the possibility of Ireland doing the same, but concludes that the idle youth wouldn’t know how to pluck a chicken, much less when to plant a tuber.

    It’s true that Ireland doesn’t enjoy the near self-sufficiency in food and energy that Argentina does. But is self-sufficiency really a prerequisite for benefitting from a devaluation? Plenty of other countries have done it, including some European ones in 1992.

    So I reckon bonnie Eire should give it a go.

  4. Dikaios Logos

    My earlier comment here got swallowed. I then posted on the taxes/inequality thread and that got swallowed along with the existing 4 or 5 comments up at 6AM EST. My original comment is paraphrased below.

    Pangolins used to be common in SE Asian markets. They are found all over the region and their meat is sold as an expensive delicacy (exotic foods are easily marketed as miracle cures), sometimes selling for over 200USD/kilo. Also, their scales contain psychoactive substances and so are used in drugs/cures, including and I am not making this up, the manufacture of crystal methamphetamine. It turns out that in the not too distant past international wildlife treaties put the kibosh on the public trade in pangolins, but the rise of wealth in Asia and especially China has seen a pick up in their trade. While the animal isn’t in imminent danger, a sharp up tick in hunting might doom them.

    This story is told in many places, my link might not be the best, but between the stories of commerce gone awry and the involvement of cute animals, this is right up this blog’s alley. Warning, unpleasant photos:

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry you had trouble. Certain words or too many links get you caught in the moderation filter. It’s not as gratifying, but you can wait for me to approve it when I check in (but since 6 AM is just after I often turn in, you might have to wait a while.

      1. Dikaios Logos

        It seemed like there was just a glitch. I think my post on the links thread isn’t worth any work, though the comments on the taxes/stratification thread appeared to be meaningful efforts. Right before all the comments disappeared, the taxes/stratification post appeared as double post and others remarked on disappearing comments.

  5. dearieme

    I trust that the ECB abd IMF people in Dublin are getting their Sunday afternoon off, becuase then they could get down to the big rugby match which is, Oh Irony, Ireland vs Argentina.

  6. Norman

    Not to be picky, but what happened to yesterdays (Saturdays) entry? It wasn’t because the Homeland Security closed you down because your getting too close was it? Norman

  7. DownSouth

    Chalmers Johnson was outstanding.

    This part really hit home for me: “Having just defeated the Nazis, they [the British] could not continue to behave like Nazis.”

    Too bad Americans didn’t learn the same lesson.

    Just a couple of months ago I visited Washington D.C. for the first time. For me the ghastly architecture said it all. By this I refer to those buildings constructed since the consolidation of the corporate (fascist) state in America beginning towards the end of the 19th century. These huge stone boxes speak an architectural vernacular that exudes power, insularity and intimidation. The neoclassical touches function as historical roots that tap into the greatness of other empires of the ancient West.

    Here are some examples of these obscene buildings in Washington D.C.:

    Department of Commerce Building

    Department of the Interior Building

    Department of the Treasury Building

    Federal Reserve Building

    Now compare those to the examples of Nazi architecture that can be found here.

    The Federal Reserve Building bears a striking resemblance to Hitler’s Chancellery, as well as to the former embassy building of another axis empire, Japan.

    1. Sundog

      Chalmers Johnson’s career spanned from “Who lost China?” to the debacles in Afghanistan and Iraq. I believe that fifty or a hundred years from now he’ll be viewed as a prescient observer of East Asia and the US. If NC comes across a good and re-postable obituary I hope they jump on it. Nice choice for the vid BTW.

  8. Tertium Squid

    You guys might like this. Spanish Woman Claims Ownership of the Sun.

    Not the newspaper either, but the big fusile ball of gas at the center of the solar system. She has big plans, too:

    “…she now wants to slap a fee on everyone who uses the sun and give half of the proceeds to the Spanish government and 20 percent to the nation’s pension fund.

    She would dedicate another 10 percent to research, another 10 percent to ending world hunger — and would keep the remaining 10 percent herself.

    “It is time to start doing things the right way, if there is an idea for how to generate income and improve the economy and people’s wellbeing, why not do it?” she asked.”

    She’s just one crazy lady, but I find it quite significant that she has the same attitude as our own corporate rentier class, that collecting income is the same thing as providing value.

    For me, with the economy and all I don’t think I’ll be paying her sun rent. She’ll just have to disconnect my service.

    1. Tertium Squid

      …and I really shouldn’t call her crazy. She’s proposing to her government a new justification for revenue extraction from Spanish citizens.

      It’s unlikely to gain any traction. But, though it seems unreasonable to tax something that God provides to the just and unjust alike, as Tertullian says: Oh what a powerful reasoner self interest is.

      1. Cedric Regula

        I think she has to go there and plant the Spanish flag for this to be a valid claim. So we are probably safe in ignoring any sun tax levy that may appear in our e-mail inboxes.

        However, if the USG would get smart and enact the moonlight tax, then we could make some progress on our budget problems.

        1. Tertium Squid

          Nope, the Moon tax is a no-go. After all, light from the moon is just reflected sunlight, and as we can see the Spanish already have a claim on that. In fact, we’d probably have to pay them a transaction fee to account for the extra step in delivery to us.

      2. Paul Repstock

        I had a tiny chuckle when I read that Squid..But, it was restrained. This is no joke and you should better identify “The Rentier Class” you speak of.

        Are you aware that in some places you cannot collect the rainwater which falls on your head/roof, you cannot grow crops on the land which you pay taxes on, you ‘own’ nothing except by permision from the government. You cannot even die except by the sanction of a government licenced authority.

        There is much confusion here about modern government vs corporate relationship. These two are siamese twins and even the miracles of modern finance cannot separte them successfully. The Byzantine layer cake of checks and balances we allow them to impose does nothing for the people except to erase our individuality.

        1. Tertium Squid

          Wouldn’t it be a fitting cherry on the top of our post-postmodern wasteland for a government to use their guns, tanks and “authority” to enforce collection of a tax for the use of sunlight? That’s why I walked back my description of the lady as crazy. She is in fact making a rather shrewd proposition, the only part of it that is crazy is her thinking that a government would take her claim seriously enough to give her a cut. If they are going to do something as offensive as tax SUNLIGHT, why should they have any respect for some notary authority?

          I remember my outrage at the start of the current depression when some municipal authorities, eager for revenue, dusted off the statute that required property owners to buy a permit to park on their own driveways, and started writing tickets.

          1. Paul Repstock

            Again, not that funny. Buried deep in the ‘Cap and Trade’ legislation, is a provision for all vehicles to be fitted with a GPS transponder. This was to make sure that alternative fuels vehicles would also be assessed a ‘highway tax’….Sunlight tax is hardly a stretch..Next…The oxygen we breath??

  9. Paul Repstock

    And here we all sit..tossing spitballs..waiting to see if the US government is Willing and able to sufficiently guarantee Mr. Assange’s safety.

    Give modern witness protection and whistle blower protection, failures; I would be just a skeptical as he is.

    1. Paul Repstock

      The first 250,000 are out..

      White House reply–LMAO
      “President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal,” a White House statement said.””

  10. vv111y

    They’re so tall cause they’re so low in the ground – they want to stretch up and see what the rest of us see

  11. vv111y

    I spent ungodly amounts of time bargain shopping and got nothing to show for it — the deals were .. just.. so..…garrr

    why can’t they just give us stuff for free?

  12. Perfect Stranger

    Thanks for Chalmers Johnson who recently deceased, I am his great admirer for long time. And certainly Susan George of Transnational Institute, which is in line with writing of Michael Hudson. A rare sane voices in desertification of land, sea, and air that producing ruling oligarchy and neoliberalism.

  13. Paul Repstock

    I threw this out yesterday. But, I snowed it down too far under qualifiers. I have little hope for adoption because of all the vested interest toes impacted. But, it would be an interesting solution to our moral dillema:

    –Here is another “revolutionary” proposal.
    How about making debt enforcement illegal. The responsibility for the assumption of debt is shared between the borrower and the lender. The borrower is actually pledging only his/her integrity as security for the debt. The lender is not required to lend and any lending is based on faith in the borrowers ability and willingness to repay. This has a huge implication in that the lender is then a shareholder in the enterprise, and is motivated to promote it’s success.–

    1. Paul Repstock

      Come on folks. Spread your wings a bit. This is Neuvo Anarchist Art. I have tentatively titled it “The Death..of predatory lending.”

      Just think how it would save trees needed for printing CDS coverage.

  14. Sundog

    Have corporate boards been bidding up executive salaries in anticipation of this?

    Lynne Cox, a biochemist at Oxford University, said the study was “extremely important” and “provides proof of principle that short-term treatment to restore telomerase in adults already showing age-related tissue degeneration can rejuvenate aged tissues and restore physiological function.”

    If elites decline to legitimize themselves, maybe it’s because they’re enacting apocalyptic scenarios (AIPAC/Fundies), they’re looking to Mexico as an exemplar of subsuming all into the black economy (biz as usual), or they’re convinced that their vampiristic desires will be satisfied any moment if they can just hold on a few hours more….

    Ian Sample, “Harvard scientists reverse the ageing process in mice – now for humans”

    1. Sundog

      “WikiLeaks is what happens when the entire US government is forced to go through a full-body scanner”

      @evgenymorozov (author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (out in early Jan, 2011)) rt by Gromit01

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