Links 2/19/11

Open Letter to Westboro Baptist Church: AN OPEN LETTER FROM ANONYMOUS A bit grandiose, but they have good taste in targets. For background, see Anonymous targets P2PNet (hat tip Slashdot)

The Real Reason Glenn Beck Hates Google Alternet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Is China Manufacturing Plastic Rice? Care2. The US once had adulterated meat…

China Leads Fight Against West’s Economic Formula in G-20 Scrap Bloomberg

Libya protest deaths ‘rise to 84’ BBC

Royal Rift, Absent Saudis Beset U.S. Wall Street Journal (hat tip Joe Costello)

U.K. Squatting Laws: Is Relief for Homeowners on the Way? Time (hat tip reader May S)

Office rent in Rio is Americas’ dearest Financial Times

Nobel prize-winning economist joins attack on ‘political’ King Guardian. And he’s said nothing about the “political” Greenspan and Bernanke. We’ve written about both for the last two years. And as Richard Smith has reported at length, the attacks on King appear to be heavily motivated to diminish his standing and thus undermine his efforts to rein in big banks.

To end the food crisis, the G20 must keep a promise Jeffrey Sachs, Financial Times

Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes Care2 (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

U.S. Justice v. the world Glenn Greenwald

Organizing recall in Wisconsin Daily Kos. This is getting interesting.

Walker gins up ‘crisis’ to reward cronies CapTimes

Wisconsin, fiscal responsibility, and power Rdan, Angry Bear

Wisconsin Draws the Line on Austerity Opportunism and Class War Mike Konczal

Republicans accuse Obama of stoking protests Financial Times. Tantamount to Bernanke blaming the global financial crisis on China

Colbert on Justice Thomas Common Cause

Gordon Gekko is driving the Death Star MacroBusiness. Note I don’t agree with many of the conclusions drawn, but I do think that the implications of the large volumes of cross border money flows is not well understood, so highlighting this issue is worthwhile.

U.S. Apartment Construction Climbs With More Renters Bloomberg. I don’t like the weight of money driving building:

“Most people feel that home-price appreciation is a thing of the past,” said Tom Craig, a commercial and multifamily real estate broker in Seattle. “Capital markets are bullish on multifamily and that’s where people are looking to do deals.”

JPMorgan Says Lehman Left It ‘Goat Poo’ Collateral Bloomberg. Are we supposed to feel sorry for JPM? Couldn’t they see the CUSIPs? Everyone knew Lehman was sucking wind.

Barclays UK corporation tax bill for 2009 was £113m BBC (hat tip reader Vlad Ender)

So Sorry! Please Forgive! Your House Was Accidentally Sold Out From Under You ForeclosureHamlet

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-02-18 at 7.02.04 AM

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  1. attempter

    Re UK squatters:

    Given how the UK was ground zero for the enclosure onslaught, I’m not sure if it’s surprising or not that they have such squatter-friendly laws today. (It might not be since it continues the old lawless tradition, although now it can also be used for bottom-up action.)

    But it’s not surprising that now that neoliberalism is creating more and more homeless, and an obvious idea for citizen activism would be the reclamation of idle hoarded land through organized direct redemption (AKA squatting), they’re moving to tighten up the law.

    I don’t say squatters should move into homes which are actualy being occupied. But certainly idle, unoccupied land is fair game according to any moral or rational measure, as long as the squatters would put the land into cultivation or other productive use. Locke himself would have to agree, according to his original philosophy, from which modern Anglo-American concepts of property in land were derived.

    Re yesterday’s discussion of liberal pathology, get a load of this:

    ON Wednesday evening, some Bahraini friends of mine decided to go to the Pearl Roundabout in the center of the capital to clean up antigovernment graffiti sprayed by youngsters there. It wasn’t that they disagreed with the protesters; indeed, they supported the calls for reform. But they felt that removing the spray paint was a way to help ensure that demands for change were taken seriously and that protesters weren’t dismissed as just a bunch of vandals.

    You have people going to the streets risking their lives to confront this brutal regime, and part of their spontaneous expression of the democracy of the streets is to spray anti-government graffiti. The response of these people isn’t to join the fighters, but to cleanse their filthy peasant graffiti since otherwise the protest won’t be taken “seriously”, by Serious People of course.

    Are these classic liberals or what? The characteristic combination of cowardice, condescension, and the elitism of the “process” mentality.

    So did they go join the fight after completing their exercise in democracy sterilization?

    No curfew has been imposed and, to my knowledge, it is still possible to get around most areas, but I’ve been in my apartment since Thursday, as have all my friends I’ve spoken to.

    Profiles in courage. Reformers in their own minds. But I’m sure their moral support for the people in the streets facing the bullets is greatly appreciated.

    But at least they reformed a few defaced walls. And surely that helped, right?

    On Friday, government forces again fired upon protesters; the crown prince, Sheik Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, however, has been given the task of starting a national dialogue that may help defuse this tense, uncertain situation. Everyone I know is in a state of disbelief that this has happened in Bahrain.

    But…but…you got rid of the graffiti…How could the government open fire after you showed how Respectfully Serious you were and how Seriously the protest should now be taken?

    1. Paul Repstock

      Very moral and reasonable, but incredibly naive. This display could only have an effect in a morally consistent world. Certainly it will do nothing in a world where Saudi Arabia has sent thugs and troops to quash any chance of reform, for fear that this ‘reform’ might spread to Saudi itself. Not in a world which percieves that any change to the status quo in oil producing regions will negatively impact our standard of living.

      I’m probably just deaf, but has anyone else noted a large discrepancy here? I mean ordinary people, as well as the military were clamouring to go to Iraq to corrct Sadam’s dictatorial abuses; yet I haven’t heard a single person suggest that the same might be valid in the cases of 10 other Middle Eastern states.

      1. Larry Elasmo

        Paul Repstock said: “Very moral and reasonable, but incredibly naive.”

        Paul, with all due respect, I generally agree with your comments, but saw nothing in the attempter’s post that could be characterized as “incredibly naive”.

        When he refers to “The response of these people isn’t to join the fighters, but to cleanse their filthy peasant graffiti since otherwise the protest won’t be taken “seriously” by Serious People” he’s accurately (in my opinion) comparing their attitude to that of American liberals.

        And in the last sentence “but…you got rid of the graffiti…How could the government open fire” should be read as sarcasm intended to mock the “cowardice, condescension, and the elitism” of your classic liberal.

        So it’s not naive at all, just an accurate description of your classic cowardly NPR liberal. They may be “reformers in their own minds” but in fact they stand for nothing.

        1. attempter

          Thanks, Larry. But I think Paul was also talking about the liberals on graffiti patrol. Otherwise his reference to Saudi thugs wouldn’t make sense.

      1. attempter

        Well, the best solution is to abolish the obscenity of land propertarianism itself. Where an arable frontier no longer exists, it has no moral or rational legitimacy, and it’s also been empirically proven to do nothing but generate economic inefficiency, social instability, and political tyranny.

  2. Ina Deaver

    Today’s antidote is a picture of my life. We jokingly call my kids “the baby birds,” because of the unrelenting obligation of keeping them constantly fed. Well, that and the sounds they make when I sit down at the table with anything of my own to eat. . .the twins are 10, even now if I sit down at the table, the sound of a chair scraping out will call both of them to my side with an “Uh, whatcha got, mom?” Sheesh.

    I used to watch oral argument at the Supreme Court on a regular basis. I grew to have a deep disdain for Thomas, because he disagrees with the concept of oral argument, and therefore treats it with contempt. He usually appears to be napping. The fact that he has been lying on his financial disclosures for years and years is just icing on the fecal matter. I think that the man needs to be impeached. If only that would restore the dignity of the rule of law from county courts on up in this country.

  3. rjs

    Is China Manufacturing Plastic Rice?

    plastic is a petrochemical using oil feedstocks; typical generic mfg price around $1 pound…even scrap plastic for recyclying is about a quarter a pound…

    rice is $12 cwt, about 1/8th the cost of plastic…

    someone should have done their homework…

    1. Paul Repstock

      Just another example of propagada and fearmongering. In the end, we will be told that China blackmailed Monsanto into engineering GMO crops..:(

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The article is not clearly drafted and relies on a Vietnamese source, which also introduced the possibility of mistranslation. There are two issues. One there is evidently Chinese rice in Vietnam that is not cooking normally. This may just be bad harvest or bad soil, I don’t know what other causal factors might be, but the rice must look normal in the bag.

      Second is the plastic allegation. The article says “resin” which as you suggest would be a primary product and not economic. But are there byproducts of plastic manufacture? A byproduct that has no obvious use or insufficient demand for its uses could be a candidate for all sorts of mischief.

    3. emca

      The problem is: if sweet potato was significantly cheaper than rice -and- the plastic resin only a small percentage of the modification, than it might be possible to produce such a simulated product at lower cost.

      I don’t know and I’m not going to take the time to confirm whether such faux rice is realistic.

      Otherwise to the validity of the story; I’m reminded again of the tainted milk scare from China shortly ago. If seem as though an overeager Chinese exec. concocted the whole affair to blacken a competitor’s image. Any second-hand or third party evidence from anywhere, but particularly China needs to be taken with a grain of salt (or maybe rice in this case) until other sources can confirm.

      I should also add that the Vietnam article was reportedly not the only source from Asia, although all of those cases may well have derived from an single originating report.

  4. Jesse Frederik

    Squatting has been made illegal in the Netherlands just a few months ago. Tbh, I’m in favour of squatting. Especially when there’s lots of vacant commercial real estate. For example in Amsterdam apparently 17% of the office space is vacant. Under our previous law you could legally squat a building when it had been vacant for more than a year. If owners want to make sure their property won’t get squatted they better lower rents. If not office space can be turned over to more productive purposes.

    1. Paul Repstock

      ?How about vacant rural land? Individually there are five Americans who own enough square miles of land within the continental US to rank their personal feifdoms high on the list of countries by land area (about #175 out of 260), in combination these five people would rank about #145. And that is “personal” holdings, without considering any attached corporate holdings.

  5. dearieme

    “U.K. Squatting Laws: Is Relief for Homeowners on the Way?” It’s the law of England (and, presumably Wales), not “UK” law; it is undoubtedly cretinously stupid.

    “the UK was ground zero for the enclosure onslaught”: if you are referring to Parliamentary Enclosure in the 18th and 19th century, there’s a high chance that everything you know about that is tosh.

    1. attempter

      I’m not sure what “tosh” means, but I’m pretty sure that if you don’t know it really got going during the Tudor era, then what you know is “tosh”.

      Henry VIII drove tens of thousands off their land and then hanged them for vagrancy. We’re headed back there now, with the increasing criminalization of the poverty which was artificially, intentionally caused by the system.

    2. MisterG

      Inclosure Acts for small areas had been passed sporadically since the 12th century but the majority were passed between 1750 and 1860.

      Under this process there were over 5,000 individual Inclosure Acts and 21% of land in England was enclosed, amounting to nearly 7 million acres (28,000 km²)

  6. Richard Kline

    Regarding events in Wisconsin, my very first thought on the news was “What is the recall statute in Wisconsin?” And yes, recalls should be pursued _vehemently_ at the first moment for all who haven’t publicly foresworn voting for any legislation barring organizing rights.

    But I’ll add another point: I would not accept any law passed by _a single vote_ on a fundamental social issue as valid. That is tyrrany of the majority, and unacceptable on an issue of this importance; simply, totally unacceptable, and not to be accepted as valid. I think that even where ‘my side’ has that one vote, because if 49.9% of the population _deeply opposes_ some course of action, anyone should think damned hard about the consequences and meaning of pushing on. Something of the scale that Scott Walker intends should be on a referendum and need a super-majority vote to pass. It is unfathomable arrogance and fundamentally anti-democratic to think otherwise. I would say beyond that issue in and of itself that organizing is a human right, and not something that the State of Wisconsin or any other state has the right to take away from individuals. Organizing has been ‘illegal’ in practically every country at some point in time, and those laws have been steadily overturned in many places, though it is still worth your life in too many parts of the world to organize with others for fair treatment and just practice. Every method of organizing and demand would and should be used to remove the stain of a fundamentally inhumane and abusive anti-labor law in that state or anywhere else in the country. Unconsititutional and unconscionable laws get passed _with regularity_ in many duly constitued authoritative bodies. The fact that they are passed does not make them binding if they are unjust, and citizens have the right to overturn unjust and viciously partisan mistakenly passed statutes. The citizenry has the final say on what the law is NOT THE LEGISLATURE. Remember that.

    Scott Walker is an errand boy for the Kochs. Their money-funneling outfits supplied him funds and great help. He’s spoken at their events for years. Etc., etc., it’s all on the web on credible sources. The Kochs have extensive industrial interests in the State of Wisconsin who have substential environmental footprints. But the Kochs?: _they_ don’t live there. So here’s the take: Walker is doing the bidding of out of state interests, creating a phoney crisis of his own design, to call for huge financial concessions from tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens who have lived and worked their all their lives, while attempting to bar them from any kind of bargaining or political action in their own state ever again. Sooo contemptible.

    And furthermore, the Kochs’ Goebbels in short pants Andrew Breitbart has been beckoned to go to Madison to ‘get the goods on those unionists.’ Memo to union and radical organizers: find him, but don’t answer his questions, just ask him a few of your own, at maximum volume and numbers, regarding who funds him and what the hell does he think he has to say about something in your state. —And film it all yourself. Them when he posts his cut up propaganda smear, put up your entire video to show his slimy cutting up. And, too, the anti-social Tea Potters—a largely Koch funded enterprise, let’s not forget—claim they’ll show up to tell off union members in person. I really hope they do so we can do a respective head count, because their pitiful numbers compared to the side for social justice need to be on display. And if they don’t show, we should all make sure to make _that_ the news of the day: hired stoopids of the Kochs can’t get it up.

    1. ChrisTiburon

      “But I’ll add another point: I would not accept any law passed by _a single vote_ ”

      How about the federal reserve act being voted upon
      in the senate by only three senators on Christmas Eve?

    2. Grinder

      I do agree the crisis in Wisconsin is manufactured and I support the right of workers to organize. I do not support public sector union arguments in this economic climate. I personally don’t know much about Wisconsin but do you know what is happening there that caused voters to vote Republican in the last election? I’d be interested in understanding the underlying factors because my impression is the state has been solidly Democrat for many years. Though Walker’s position on collective bargaining is extreme does he have the support of voters who work in the private sector? I live in another part of the country so I don’t have a sense of the local situation.

    3. Ron

      The Republican Party in the House wants to redefine rape to limit abortion funding and in the States such as WI attacking union organizing, a replay of the 60’s social war. Independent voters such as myself are disappointed in these activities as many had hoped for a fiscal driven Republican party focused on meaningful budget cutbacks. This will insure Obama’s reelection and a probable House recovery for the Democrats in the next election as few want a repeat of the 60’s.

  7. john bougearel

    More Jeffery Sachs in the limelight? Now he is “director of the Earth Institute at Columbia U.

    Sachs notes global food supplies by population growth, that the “worlds resource demands are soaring and outstrip capacity…and that climate change is making things worse”

    So, what is Sachs prescription to solve all the world’s ills? He says, and this is funny, “the first and easiest step to counter these problems is to end the Fed’s policy of QE.”

    He kind of loses me when he speaks of G20 finance ministers finding a way to “strike a blow for food price stabilization and poverty alleviation…For the sake of the world’s poorest people, let us hope they find it.”

    Perhaps the finance ministers can offer up a little prayer ending with “In God We Trust” (all others must pay cash)

    Not quite the persona he had 20 yrs ago at the IMF. Sugary Sachs, since becoming the Director of Earth Institute has become a bleeding heart liberal. Isn’t that sweet? Whatever happened to implementing policies that through whole ecomonies under the bus?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I should be saying this more often, since I am not a Sachs fan, but I wonder what happened that he is coming out with not-henious positions all of a sudden. He strikes me as a canary in the coalmine, but I’m not yet sure what this shift in his stance signifies

  8. Richard Kline

    Regarding Greenwald’s piece on Jose Padilla (and indirectly other unlawfully held detainees in Guantanamo and elsewhere), the United States has a long, despicable history of denying that individuals and groups of the wrong race have any _rights at all_, and thus have no standing to sue or petition for redress against an American, official or otherwise. American conduct toward those detained as terrorists is blatantly racist in exactly this format: they are subhuman, and no law pertains toward conduct toward them. We confirm every accusation against us by our humanly criminal treatment of these desiparecidos. It is my hope to live long enough to see more than a few culpable for this system of racist abuse on trial in the Hague. And that is not simply for reason of justice for those subjected to in justice, but because the system of humanaly criminal detention and abuse is extremely damaging to the citizenry and interests of the American people. That this is done under color of authority putatively in our name is a crime in and of itself. And a crime ongoing . . . .

    1. Paul Repstock

      Richard, it is called externalizing or pandering to xenophobia. Really no different than Bernanke saying that the Economic Crisis was caused by “Foreign Investors”. It is a frightening prelude to a bunker mentality. Why do you think that so much has been spent on huge underground shelters?? The very last position of these finger pointing children may be a nuclear tantrum. That would sure solve the subprime mortgage mess and many other inconvenient truths.

  9. DownSouth

    Re: “Republicans accuse Obama of stoking protests” Financial Times

    John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, compared the demonstrations in Madison, the state capital, to the violent protests that broke out in Greece last year after Athens unveiled austerity measures.

    I think Egypt-like protests is more like it.

    → Mubarak’s loyal police force = Walker’s loyal police force

    → Pro-Mubarak demonstrators = Tea Party demonstrators

    → Anti-Mubarak demonstrators = the vast majority of demonstrators

    → Non-violent demonstrations in Egypt = Non-violent demonstrations in Wisconsin

    1. attempter

      I’m only just starting to take Wisconsin semi-seriously. But I still find it hard to believe anybody in America is really going to stand up and fight in this way. I expect everyone to say at some point, “time to go home, there’s a game on.”

      But think about it: Let’s say a critical mass among these demonstrators decided they weren’t going to go home after all, like those in Egypt. That they weren’t going anywhere. And let’s say they broadened their demands to a general demand on the system. And let’s say, seeing this, more people came out to join them. Including more and more people who aren’t members of these unions, but who want to join in making these democratic demands.

      And let’s say that people in other cities saw this and were inspired to start their own demonstrations. And this blossoming spread and sustained itself and fed on itself….Who knows where it could lead?

      And it really could happen like that, any day now.

      I still don’t expect it to, not yet. But wouldn’t that be a wonderful surprise.

      1. Paul Repstock

        Rus; what part of Blackwater have you forgotten?

        Besides, there are two moral sides to this, so you cannot achieve critical mass for an uprising. All you would probably get is a huge riot.

        1. attempter

          1. I’m aware of only one moral side to this, the side of the productive people who rouse themselves to fight for their freedom and the produce of their labor.

          By definition that’s the only moral perspective.

          Pro-Mubarak thugs (in any country) have no perspective, but are just the cogs of tryanny and crime. And any “riots” or other violence are always 100% the fault of the existing criminal structure and whatever violent action it undertakes to try to prop itself up. How bizarre that you bring up Blackwater and then accuse me of being the one who wants to start a riot. Please edit better next time.

          2. Why wouldn’t the cause of freedom, reason, and morality be able to acheive critical mass? It’s been done plenty of times. We just saw it in Egypt (although the job there is far from finished).

          1. Paul Repstock

            Whoa back camel! (quoted from my hero Yosemite Sam)
            I truncated my post thinking you will understand, but I made it too short.

            The ‘Blackwater’ reference was related to a posible government/Koch response to the protest.

            The ‘two moral sides refered partly to perception (of people like the poor guy who posted a rebuttal on GW’s blog), and partly the reality of people paying taxes to support public services when they nolonger have jobs themselves.

            The ‘riot’ I refered to was the probability of a confrontation between the two “political” interests. I think both parties are busy whipping their members into a frenzy. The result is a fight about supremacy, not justice.

            I doubt that any of the major participants in this dispute would allow a complete public exposure of here the money goes.

            btw. I will post a sucinct statement back where I signed off on your site, so there need not be further misunderstanding. I am sometimes not the best comunicator.

          2. attempter

            I thought that’s what you meant, but I was objecting to the implication (there are others on this blog who make it explicit) that if thugs attack protestors and the protestors fight back, it’s somehow the protestors’ fault that it becomes a “riot”.

            So that’s why I said, if you know about those thugs and what they try to do, then why do you make it sound like I’m calling for violence? I call for the people to fight as hard as they have to for what’s rightfully theirs, nothing more or less. But violence is always 100% the fault of the criminals who try to prevent this.

    1. DownSouth

      Yep, these people are really putting Americans to shame.

      The United States seems to have been contaminated by some strange passive nihilistic curse.

  10. DownSouth

    The comination of Greenwald’s “U.S. Justice v. the world” with “Colbert on Justice Thomas” serves to show what an abominable shithole the U.S. justice system has fallen into.

  11. PJ

    This Anonymous gang is a clique of filthy criminals and censors. I hope some (many) governments hunt them down and lock them up for a very long time. I don’t give one hoot in Hades what the Westboro Baptist Church or anyone else has on a website (I do not have to read it) but it is intolerable to threaten anyone to abridge free speech, no matter how repugnant that speech is.

    1. Tertium Squid

      I’m with you. Those Westboro types are self-refuting. They bring no one over to their side with their antics, and even those that might agree with their point of view still despise their methods.

      Indeed, so much so that I would only be a little bit surprised if Phelps et al were running a false flag operation to make gay rights opponents look foolish and hateful.

      So why does anonymous take on a ridiculous minority that nobody can stand? That’s the weird part. They aren’t fighting the power in this case, they ARE the power.

      Seeing them throw their weight around like this is a negative sign.

    2. Paul Repstock

      What is your stance on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange..Does your “Free Speach” extend to him as well?/

  12. ChrisTiburon

    Re: Plastic rice

    Whole Foods is now selling “organic” vegetables grown and packaged in China, among them Spinach, Broccoli and California Mix, all things that are be grown in
    the U.S. The Chinese are liars and counterfeiters and anything that they market is suspect, from bridge steel to plastic toys to pet food and most of all, food for humans.

    Organic comes in various strengths. The strongest and most thorough is Oregon Tilth. Oregon based companies and others that choose to use it, like many of Costco’s outstanding organic products, are certified by Oregon Tilth.
    Next is CCOF, or California Certified Organic Farmers. It covers CA companies and is much better than what is light years further down in quality, which is
    “USDA Organic”, a national label that is still far better than conventional, (the government was going to allow irradiated food, sewage sludge fertilizer, etc. until the largest comment of outrage from citizens made them back down).

    Finally, the weakest organic standard is ‘Quality Assurance International’. This is a large set of middlemen that hires foreign inspectors to “guarantee” that food has been raised to exacting organic standards. Whole Foods uses them to “guarantee” that their Chinese raised produce is organic.

    Poor and potentially poor Americans who are now Middle Class should refuse to eat foreign grown produce that can be grown here. Walmart is now selling Chinese manufactured food to those that are trapped in food deserts.

    1. GS

      I think most in America would be surprised that in addition to the standard fare of electronics, furniture, housewares and clothing is a thriving Chinese export business of food products (not declared as they are an ingredient) and pharmaceuticals. Those Cheerios with the little bits of dehydrated berry, the berries almost certainly came from China.

      The Organic exports from China are to me laughable from the country that brought you (and continues to bring you) products with traces of Melamine.

      Whole Foods challenge is with both costs and sufficient supply and accordingly they have quietly sourced products that include Chinese “organic” ingredients.

      “No matter where a product is grown the same USDA standard is used to evaluate suppliers. Organic standards in China are no different than they are in Brazil, Turkey, Thailand or anywhere else.”

      Like Google, Apple, Starbucks and other American Icons Whole Foods has sold out its loyal customers.

      1. Paul Repstock

        LOL,”Wholefoods has sold out it’s ‘Loyal customers’.”
        In my experience, and I have a lot, Loyal Customers is an oxymoron. The only thing customers are loyal to is that extra nickle they put back in their Walmart supplied/Chinese made jeans.

    2. emca

      According to what I just read, Whole Foods doesn’t do Chinese Organics except for their edamame products (at least as of June of last year)
      “Is Organic from China Possible?”

      Nevertheless, the question is not is what is possible, but is probable. What needs to be evaluated is that given the likelihood of local corruption coupled with a state apparatus known for its lack of candor or transparency, that a product could be misrepresented given the local financial incentives to do so.

      This skepticism is bore out by recent history including this very recent article:
      USDA Uncovers Plot to Import Fake Chinese Organic Food

      The post deals with a counterfeit certificate originating from China, but what was of greater interest was this comment concerning a 2007 inspection by the USDA in China (the first since ‘organic’ was officially define five years earlier):

      “In the entire country of China the USDA auditors only inspected two farms and two processors, finding serious violations at the time. No follow-up inspections were conducted to determine whether the noncompliances identified were aberrations or symptomatic of systemic problems.”

      to update…

      The USDA until recently certified organic through the O.C.I.A., which last year was banned for use of “employees of a Chinese government agency to inspect state-controlled farms and food processing facilities” (NYT – U.S. Drops Inspector of Food in China

      and from the same article,

      “The ban, to be formally announced on Monday, is likely to propel consumer worries about organic food from a country that many associate with food safety scandals and lax regulation, involving things like contaminated milk and toys coated in lead paint.”

      One might question the whole notion of anything being ‘organic’ but in name only, given the negative environmental impact over a true locally produced commodity of transportation required for importing from such a distant location. In other words, can any product being shipped half way round the world be considered organic (or local, as some retailers preach)? One could also question whether produce from large state run farms (which is report to be the system in China) is supporting small, local family scale operations, again as some retailers (here unnamed) have advertised?

      My own observation is, in a country as polluted as China, how can one expect the air and water plants uptake, is not in some way contaminated?
      This from Wikipedia:
      “Only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city inhabitants (2007) breathe air deemed safe by the European Union”
      Think that statement dated? Try this from NYT:

      “In China, Pollution Worsens Despite New Efforts”

      “The ministry said the number of accidents fouling the air and water doubled during the first half of 2010, with an average of 10 each month. The report also found that more than a quarter of the country’s rivers, lakes and streams were too contaminated to be used for drinking water. Acid rain, it added, has become a problem in nearly 200 of the 440 cities it monitored.”

      Is this where I want my ‘organic’ veggies to come from?

  13. GS

    re Glen Beck and Google

    well there is this from the San Fran Chron and Time – two bastions of ultra right wing ideas,8599,1890084,00.html

    and this

    and this from Google’s Official blog

    “Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to update one point in my May blog post. When I wrote it, no one inside Google had analyzed in detail the data we had mistakenly collected, so we did not know for sure what the disks contained. Since then a number of external regulators have inspected the data as part of their investigations (seven of which have now been concluded). It’s clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords.”

    but most disturbing are its privacy terms but that’s another post

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      If you don’t know that the CIA provided some of the early funding for Goolgle, you haven’t been paying attention (and this is not the personal “you” as in directed at GS, this is the public at large “you”).

      Their ability to monitor and pass on search result info is plenty troubling in and of itself. You don’t need to attribute further mischief to them to be concerned about their uses.

      1. mezcal

        Have you tried an Android phone yet?
        I recently picked up a used one on CL just to see what the fuss is all about.
        First, the amount of “sharing” requested by the goggle apps is disconcerting.
        Then, how efficiently it targets things to you based on your history, contacts, current location, etc borders on the uncanny.
        Works great but I find it more than a bit creepy myself.
        Then again, I’m admittedly paranoid of big brother stuff by nature.

    2. Paul Repstock

      What I’ve always found most disturbing about Google is not their corporate policies, but that they were allowed to collect this information in the first place. That has been an ongoing breach of privacy laws. It made a farce of any attempt of privacy legislation. Determined hackers can now find any information they want about me or nearly anyone else.

      Since there is nolonger any privacy available, the only reasonable solution would be to level the playing field by opening the books on everyone. Not that this will happen. As Mr. Orwell wrote, “..some are more equal than others.”

      We are governed by farce. The FOIA is a perfect example. Everyone has the right to information, if the government says they do.

  14. Drama Critic Upon Sofa

    RNC chair Reince Priebus: The national GOP is “all in” for Walker

    “The Democrats are not winning this battle of public perception from folks outside of Wisconsin looking in,” said Priebus, the former Wisconsin party chair.

    Fight of the retarded politicians heats up a few degrees; it’s the out of control unions against the out of control teaparty shibags … great drama!

    Meanwhile, attention deficit kids gather around the flowing robes of their leader….

    Obama’s Organizing for America, an offshoot of the Democratic National Committee, has claimed some credit for helping to mobilize the protesters, but the demonstrations have been more bottom-up than top-down. Labor unions have been in the forefront, joined by other progressive groups and angry citizens.

  15. Doc Holiday

    It is interesting to go backwards and see where this Wisconsin mess started … obviously no one has brought up the name George Bush, or suggested that the mess on wall street contributed to global imbalances … but obviously, it’s better to sweep that old news under the rug and forget why there is a mess.

    Wisconsin Faces Worst Budget Shortfall In State History

    Report Says Deficit Will Be $5.4 Billion

    Updated: 7:22 am CST November 21, 2008

  16. oops

    Crazy CheeseHeads Sliced The Pie Into Too Many Pieces

    Gawd, can’t those teachers add?

    The changes would increase costs to the system and raise benefits for teachers’ aides, cafeteria workers and clerical staff who would be affected. Exact costs weren’t included in Doyle’s budget or an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

    Groups representing retired state workers and school boards and a Republican state lawmaker raised concerns on Wednesday that it would amount to an unfunded mandate at a time when the retirement fund is losing money, requiring a cut in pension payments.

    ==> That does it, idiots fighting each other, the dumbass hillbilly teabaggers verses the dumbass hillbilly cheesehead teacher unions … this is gonna be a really stupid battle that adds up to zero! Oh Gawd… why, why why??

  17. Equityval

    Richard Kline writes:

    “I would not accept any law passed by _a single vote_ on a fundamental social issue as valid. That is tyrrany of the majority, and unacceptable on an issue of this importance; simply, totally unacceptable, and not to be accepted as valid. I think that even where ‘my side’ has that one vote, because if 49.9% of the population _deeply opposes_ some course of action, anyone should think damned hard about the consequences and meaning of pushing on.”

    So by your logic, health care reform has no legitimacy given the way it was passed.

    I’m sure you were among those condemning Palin’s rhetoric as a proximate cause for the shooting in Tucson. No doubt you are now conveniently ignoring the protesters in Madison carrying pictures of the governor in a gunsight.

    There really is nothing quite like liberal hypocrisy.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Equity; Richard Kline is not a Hypocrit, and any attempt by you to ‘put words in his mouth’ will not make him so.

      It is interesting that you chose to rebut his post here at the very end of the thread rather than linking it as a reply to his post so readers could compare it fairly.

      Most of the posters on Naked Capitalism have strong opinions, but most of us also recognise that there is no political agenda which truly serves the interest of the people or the nation as a whole.

  18. Paul Repstock

    Well my reasonable fellow posters on NC, You give me great hope for the future. I know this is one of the most balanced forums in existence. All views are represented and mostly tolerated. Now we just have to convince the good people of Wisconsin that they are being used as proxies in a contest that will not benifit any of them.

  19. Anonymous Jones

    Didn’t understand your comment about the multifamily housing building article. There is real need for new multifamily. Old multifamily buildings either have to be renovated or torn down and replace by new buildings. Given building codes (which are strict but IMO often reasonable given our societal preference for safety), renovation is often more expensive than newly built. About the only thing I see getting financed out here in CA is multifamily rental, and I don’t see that slowing anytime soon. Buying is not a good move for many, many people. Maybe someday, the costs of homeownership will drop below the costs of renting, but we are a long, long, long way from anything like that out here.

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