Links 2/20/11

Radar trick tracks bats and bees BBC

Gulf Oil Spill Update: Scientist Finds Gulf Bottom Still Oily, Dead Huffington Post

Ducks are Immortal Paul Kedrosky. Hate to say it, I’ve eaten enough coot to disprove this theory.

FBI: Web-based Services Hurting Wiretapping Efforts PC World

Clive Thompson on How More Info Leads to Less Knowledge Wired. This is nice, but where has Wired been? Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, needs to read Agnotology. If you are in a hurry, read the intro and the chapter on tobacco research.

Why does nobody want to feel like a natural woman anymore? Guardian

Robert Fisk in Bahrain: ‘They didn’t run away. They faced the bullets head-on Independent (hat tip reader May S)

Bahrain Vows to Ease Tension; Mideast Unrest Spreads Bloomberg

Cycle of Suppression Rises in Libya and Elsewhere New York Times

Stealing Egypt’s revolution AlJazeera (hat tip reader May S)

Afghanistan is being stifled by military operations Guardian

What does the Arab world do when its water runs out? Guardian (hat tip reader May S). Water, food and energy need to be tackled together, not in isolation, since solutions to one problem are often profligate in their use of one if not both of the other increasingly scarce resources.

Biggest protests yet as pro-Walker side, larger union crowd meet peacefully Milwaukee Sentinel. The weather sucks (then again, Midwesterners are used to dressing for it) and the crowd was 70,000, with only hundreds, 1500 at the very outside anti union.

Send WI protesters a solidarity pizza! Lambert Strether. He also tells you how to find breakfast places. And a note from a pizza place that advertised it was taking donations for protestors:

This is astounding! As of right now, Ian’s Pizza on State’s normal in-store and delivery operations are on hold — due to the high volume of calls, we are only processing orders donated to the protesters. By our (rather harried) count, we’ve heard from 30 states and 5 countries (including Egypt, Korea, and our northern friends, Canada). Wow. Thank you! To our regular customers: We really apologize, but… wow.

It’s supposed to snow in Wisconsin Sunday, so some hot coffee or chocolate might be nice…

Thug Life Foreign Policy (hat tip reader May S)

The G.O.P.’s Post-Tucson Traumatic Stress Disorder Frank Rich, New York Times

Common Ground with Republicans: Nix NSF Funding for Economics Dean Baker

Find the Taxes That Do Double Duty Robert Frank, New York Times (hat tip Mark Thoma)

JP Morgan Rakes in Profits from U. S. Food Stamp Program Daily Kos. Not news, but you might want to see the details.

Silver Bankers May Be Sitting on Big Derivatives Losses and the Fed May Be Funding Them Jesse

Homeownership loses its luster Los Angeles Times

Revolution U Foreign Affairs (hat tip reader May S). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-02-20 at 6.21.26 AM

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  1. Richard Kline

    I greatly appreciated Robert Fisk’s article on the crucial events of 18 February, and his coverage from Tahrir Square was outstanding, some of the best of his career.

    But I want to add a word of thanks here that I _never_ thought I would utter, to Nick Kristoff of the New York Times. His columns have often been riddled with the very worst kind of White Man’s Burdenism which went out of fashion (thankfully) two generations back, and his naivety about the politics of issues he has covered has been so severe as to be a disservice to those he’s spoken of. But this is about praise. He has been in Bahrain, by chance or design, this entire week. He posted direct to the Times reportage from Sulmaniya Hospital there and the surrounds during the worst days, especially on 17 and 18 Feb, recounting literally the carnage and abuse that he witnessed. This was crisis reportage as it must be, no look for a second source and keep my editor’s guidelines in mind kind of stuff, but immediate visuals and personal reaction.

    And I don’t underestimate the importance of Kristoff’s postings, or the reportage of his two collegues there actually under fire at times. For political reasons, Al Jazeeza has been very muted on these events, and the Times actually was out front of many international news outfits on this. As I read the events in Bahrain, the US has had some significant impact behind the scenes, something more possible for the US to to there then _any_ other nation in the Near East. And high profile, real time reportage _not_ equivocating or buying the Bahraini authorities disinformation is the kind of thing to jab the US authorities to actually push rather than cavil. The people of Bahrain putting their lives in jeopardy for change really needed assistance, to get their story out and the military off the streets; reportage was and is _their_ heavy artiller. This time Kristoff and his collegues came through for them. That’s to their credit, and they have my thanks. (And if Nick Kristoff has finally gotten a political education out of this, wonders truly never cease.)

    Would that someone would aid the Libyans in their mortal hour. They didn’t take lethal violence to the regime but it’s been taken to them. It’s the Gaddafiya or them, they know it, and they have no choice but to take the deaths and push on. The world is watching, and as usual doing nothing . . . .

  2. attempter

    Re Egypt and the activist organization (2 articles):

    The warning from South Africa is a great cautionary tale about the hijacking of the revolution and the gutting of the Freedom Charter. The Egyptians have much to fear from carpetbagging criminals from the West (NGOs not the least of them), as well as dubious homegrown products like Ghonim, the “Wise Men”, and Elbaradei.

    As the piece says, there are no better expert practitioners of democracy on earth today than the Egyptian protestors. So far they’ve seemed prefectly aware of this, and been unwilling to let any “leaders” or “advisers” snooker them. Here’s to their continuing and propagating such bottom-up vigilance.

    One of the things they must regard with suspicion are those same Serb connections. Lest anybody forget, the neoliberal West regarded Milosevic as an enemy, and it sure wasn’t because he was a mass murderer. Clinton, Bush, Obama, Hillary Ribbentrop, have plenty of mass murderers they call friends. No, Milosevic was hated because he preferred old-style crony dictatorship to colonization by Western corporations. That’s why he had to go, and the anti-Milosevic activism was allied with this. The same is true for those “color revolutions”.

    So while the Egyptian democracy got lots of good tactical advice from the Serbs and the activists in Egypt who learned from them, they had best be leery of any policy advice from such tainted sources.

    One thing in the FP piece which may tie into our recent discussion of pathology among the liberal leadership is how they sought to use political novices rather than existing professional activists. It’s long looked to me like here in America the real energy and willingness to conceive great ideas comes from those who are relatively new to political engagement, perhaps who were roused by the events of 2008. By contrast, pre-existing “progressives” seem mostly washed up. Even the Bailout, the austerity onslaught, and Obama’s absolute betrayal of them on these and everything else hasn’t shaken their faith in liberal elitism itself. We see how beholden they still are to ideas and tactics which have already failed.

    BTW, how do you have a Salt March without a culminating action? I’ve used that to call for organized land redemption (squatting) and food cultivation, and the civil disobedience of growing and selling forbidden food products. Those are parallels with the original Salt March whose culminating action was to actually, illegally, make salt.

    Leave it to liberals to call marching and talking by itself, or maybe just signing an online petition, a “salt march”.

    1. Whelks

      Who is this “neoliberal west”, kimosabe? You name a bunch of American politicians as if they are the sole voice of the west. Milosevic was deeply disliked among all layers of society in Europe. He was a pariah for fomenting wars in the breakaway Yugoslav republics that resulted in ethnic cleansings: over a hundred thousand dead, over 3 million refugees/displaced, concentration camps, tens of thousands raped. And you say it was greed for Serbia’s impoverished miniscule markets that motivated his removal? Unbelievable!

      1. Paul Repstock

        Whelks. until the very very recent days, ‘Western Politicians’, have been the only audable voices we have heard. With nearly total control over a global media, their verbal effluent and self serving justifications, have in the past been drowning out the tiny voices from the woodwork.

        Now they are in a quandry, they must somehow bring their speeches and ‘public’ viewpoints into a contextual alignment with what real people are learning from Alternative sources??

        I would expect a massive “hacker??” attack to bring down the ‘Nodes’ within a few days at most. Possibly this ‘solar flare’ will disrupt everything except ‘the more robust conventional platforms’??

      2. attempter

        You really think they ever cared one jot about Milosevic’s murders? Unbelievable! They didn’t care about that any more than they did Pinochet’s. Or the murders they themselves were committing in Iraq at that same time.

  3. Perfect Stranger

    “Lest anybody forget, the neoliberal West regarded Milosevic as an enemy, and it sure wasn’t because he was a mass murderer.”

    The second part is certainly true, the frist one partly. Actually, he was celebrated by the West. He was seen, or more precisely, portrayed as “brave young reformer” and “courageous politician” by the Western ruling circles. In reality he was hatchet-men (think of him as Pinochet of Chile) of neo-liberal forces who was tasked to destroy Yugoslavia both: socially and economically. After he done the job they ditched him.

    The article from FP is full of sensationalism (and maybe self/site promotion) and I very much doubt that’s the truth. Do individuals from desperate countries need to travel to Belgrade to be trained? Are workers from textile factories and Suez canal trained in Belgrade too? Therefore, there is degree of racism here. The FP is full of neo-realists oriented people (given their background I guess they must be), and in many instance their articles are shallow and sleazy.

    1. Blue Monk

      Who portrayed Milosevic as “brave young reformer”?
      Milosevic was leader of hardliner serbian communists, he used term comrade in his speeches.
      And never mind that Yugoslavia was already distroyed by 1987, the year Milosevic has taken over the party. He just made a career as a funeral leader…

  4. John Emerson

    Around here we’re taught that coots are not edible. It never made much sense to me, but I never tried eating one. It’s the same way with fish — people think that crap and other trash fish can’t be eaten, even though carp is the world’s most important freshwater food fish. Primitive superstition.

    Coots gather on our lake here for the fall migration. One year I bicycled around the lake and I must have seen 10,000 coots on one day. I started promoting a Coot Festival, but they aren’t a sexy bird.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      They are actually chewy and not very good. My father quit shooting them when his Maine buddies who ate them moved far enough away to no longer be consumption candidates (my father hunted, obviously, but had his own set of ethics about it. Even though he was hunting for fun, he would not kill something unless it was going to be eaten).

  5. John Emerson

    Also, coots are water birds but not ducks. They’re Gruiformes Rallidae Fulica, most closely related to rails, crakes, and gallinules, and more distantly related to cranes. (All from Wiki, I confess).

  6. Stephanie

    Yves, from what I’ve read and heard about what was discussed in certain circles at Davos I also get the impression that there is a campaign to discredit King under way. But this also seems to be happening in Switzerland, where the leader of the right wing party SVP called for the resignation of NBS head Philipp Hildebrand, and several top bankers try to discredit him as well. Both King and Hildebrand are among the Central Bank heads who are still worried about the state of the big banks and specifically consider the capital requirements not strict enough.

  7. Michael Iverson

    I liked Clive Thompson’s article. I have, for a while, been wondering about the negative consequences of the internet. It is no surprise that people will only seek out information that will only support their beliefs, or provide ideological comfort. I defiitely need to read Agnotology. Thanks Yves

    1. Joe Rebholz

      I thought the article was shallow. Implanted ignorance is just another way of saying propaganda. The internet makes available to billions (?) of people a huge quantity of information and knowledge. Compare to 50 years ago: In the US maybe 3 TV stations, one or two newspapers, a few magazines, a few books, maybe an encyclopedia in the home. Beyond that you would have to physically go to a library and search card catalogs. The world is different now. Passive axquisition of information is the biggest enabler of propaganda and is on the way out. Active acquisition of knowledge via the internet is the antidote to ignorance. Thus the importance of an uncensored, uncontroled, free internet. Knowledge must be free.

  8. hate politicians not teachers

    I love the banner ads here lately! I just clicked one and got this: As GOP presidential hopefuls begin to test the waters in preparation for the 2012 election, Townhall and HotAir are conducting a poll to gauge whom conservatives are currently leaning towards. The results will be tabulated monthly, featured in an upcoming issue of Townhall Magazine, and released via email and on the Presidential Straw Poll Facebook page.

    There is a huge list of teabaggers wanting your support and the GOP is going to push these nazis as hard as possible … heck of a job they did in Arizona!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I always am amused when the ad bots put up right wing ads when I put up posts that have some political content. The bots are so stupid that they waste their money here, and you help them waste even more money by clicking through to see what they are about.

  9. Aloysius

    So the only question in my mind is who’s face face do we paint on the barrel? Jamie Dimon comes to mind, but not enough Americans would recognise him, especially if he was rolling. How about bank logos? That awful B of A red and white thing would have at least a 90% recognition if it were rolling down Wall Street or Pine Street in
    SF. And how about the guys rolling the barrel wearing old tattered 3 piece suits, top hats, and skull masks? I’m game.

  10. Toxic seafood pushers

    Re: “The head of the agency in charge of the health of the Gulf said Saturday that she thought that “most of the oil is gone.””

    I hope she eats as much Gulf seafood as she possible can, as fast as possible, for years, and then I wish her the very very best with her cancer recovery, and hope she uses her experience to educate people on toxic seafood! Unfortunately, she has the money to buy seafood from other markets, while she hypes the Gulf recovery. Too bad shills like this can’t be held accountable!!!!!!!!!

  11. Freethinker

    Those interested in sending food/drink to union supporters who are protesting in Madison, WI definitely may consider Copper Gable Cafe at 317 North Bassett Street, (608) 819-0036. Friendly, prompt service and reasonable prices. The employee I spoke with mentioned that the establishment has been donating hot chocolate. I was told that my donation would be delivered ASAP.

  12. Herman Sniffles

    For years nobody could figure out how coots migrate. You never see big flocks of them in the sky like you do ducks or geese. Turns out they migrate late at night at very high altitude, and probably navigate by the stars. The best coot recipe I know is to breast the bird out, pound the breast flat, then roll in seasoned flour and fry to a crispy golden brown. Quite tasty, really, and just a hint of calves liver. I’ve also heard that since coots eat a lot of insects, and insects tend to be laden with pesticide, they tend to accumulate toxins in their tissues. So maybe coots should only be eaten on special occasions? The term “coot” is slang for another interesting word used in the deep south, as in “that’s old boys so worn out he don’t coot none no more, and his wife’s come plain mean from it.” I wonder if there’s a connection? How and when do coots coot?

  13. Herman Sniffles

    John Emerson, I also have two carp recipes for you. In the first you nail the fish to a board and cook it carefully over an open fire for several house. Then you throw the carp away and eat the board. In the second you put the carp in a large jar of seasoned vinegar for two months. Then you throw the carp away and drink the vinegar. Try eating a carp. You’ll see.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      I’ve heard the biggest problem with carp is getting all the bones out. ‘More trouble than it’s worth’ is what I’ve heard.

      I’d also guess that like catfish (another bottom dweller), the smallish ones have the bestter flavor.

    2. craazyman

      how could anybody eat a carp? I don’t know how they could get even saw through the scales. I was fly fishing for smallmouth one summer Saturday in the Potomac rapids above DC and came upon what must have been a 3 foot long carp tailing along in a foot deep pool by the shore. He was eating and didn’t see me. The scales on his back looked like blacksmith-forged iron shingles. I’d already taken my rod apart and so I poked him with the mid-point tip. He was like a piece of cement. I had to poke him 3 or 4 times until he realized he was being poked. Each time it was like poking the sidewalk. And then he finally swam away. Man, he looked prehistoric. Good God. Eat that thing? Holy Shit.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Aren’t carp THE dish to eat for New Year or Christmas Eve in Poland? Maybe they are a more edible variety of carp.

      1. John Emerson

        Smoked you can just peel off the skin of a carp and the scales come with. I’d imagine that fresh carp you do about the same thing.

        Carp are not nice people (they ruin lakes by rooting in the mud) and they are not pretty…. actually they are pretty. Goldfish are carp, including the ornamental koi. But the great big carp are not pretty.

        In Europe and China carp are a major food fish, partly because you can farm them in mudholes. Even in the US (Wisconsin) people could make a living seining carp in the early 20th century.

  14. John Emerson

    Carp I know about. Around here people do eat them smoked. But even though you can take unlimited numbers of them, ranging from 5-20 pounds each, no one bothers with them.

    1. Rex

      “Around here people do eat them smoked. But… no one bothers with them”

      Sounds a bit like a Yogi-ism — (It’s so crowded, nobody goes there.)

  15. John Emerson

    Wait, wait. You’re all wrong. Like I said, it’s a commercial food fish. My guess is that you’ve eaten it in a Chinese restaurant without knowing it.

  16. LeeAnne

    “JP Morgan Rakes in Profits from U. S. Food Stamp Program Daily Kos. Not news, but you might want to see the details.

    Sorry, no details on the “how” JPMorgan makes their profits in the Food Stamp Program. Looks like an investor PR release on growth.

    None. How about maybe how much merchant gets per swipe and how much of the take Chase gets and what Chase expects to be doing for the government with their shiny new branches all over New York City Streets at a time when more and more banking is being done online?

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    More info lead to less knowledge – Wired.

    Another related idea: Thoughts should not be distracted by words.

    (Sorry, too many words already.)

    1. Richard Kline

      “Words distract thoughts: shaddup.”

      [That’s cheating I confess, but I just _had_ to, My.]

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Feeling a natural woman?

    I think it should be about feminine energy and not feminine appearance.

    Too many women abandoning their yin energy while adopting the yan energy to succeed in the yan-dominated world and too few men adopting the yin energy to bring forth more yin to balance out the yan in the existing world.

  19. LeeAnne

    When I was in the market for home buying, in Aspen and Manhattan, and never felt comfortable with the idea that because of inflaton driven maintenance, taxes and utilities, you never can really own your own home in this country, particularly when you’re older and living perhaps on a pittance where you can be forced to move out of the familiar into some uncertain fate; it was actually helpful to remember that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor even at the height of their icon-hood as arbiters of fashion and elegance, never owned their own home. They rented -chateaus in France, etc.

    And, in Manhattan c.1950s and 1960s, until the 1980s, everyone with the exception of mostly Fifth and Park Ave. and a few other most expensive addresses, rented.

    So, in the 80s when I returned full time to Manhattan, it was shocking, even funny, to hear gossip that began with something like, ” … the renter’s down the hall” referred to like some inferior form of life.

    But that’s baby boomers for you. As in, no life before they existed. Its also their downfall.

  20. MikeJ

    I once walked by a pond and noticed 5 ducks standing in a circle, facing each other. When I came close to them, they gave me a glance before waddling away, revealing a dead duck lying on the ground. I don’t know if they were having a funeral service or if they had conspired to murder it as part of some bizarre ritual, but their behavior was definitely odd.

  21. Max424

    The nation-state of Libya is in an excellent shape.

    The main reason for this: Libya’s NOC, the Libyan National Oil Corporation, is perfectly inefficient. For example: instead of producing 3.2 million barrels of oil per day as it did throughout the 1960’s, LNOC has only been able to produce a yearly average of 1.6 mbpd over the last decade.

    Whether it’s intended or not, this is “the smart move.” When you only have 44 (25?) billion barrels of proven reserves, the right play always — especially when you are still exporting more than 1.4 mbpd — is to leave as much oil in the ground as is reasonable; for the future, for the Time of the Sky High Oil Prices, for the grandkids.

    Equally good news; oil consumption — over the last two decades — has basically flatlined in Libya, at about 200,000 mbd, which means, the voracious Export Land Model almost doesn’t apply.

    And that means, Libya could be mid-range oil producer for another 20 years, and it also means, if the Libyan oligarchy* plays it smart, they shouldn’t face any real trouble until about the year 2030.

    I know what I’d be saying if I was a member of the Libyan oligarchy, I’d be saying, “Brother oligarchs, I plead with you, let us redistribute just a tiny bit more of our vast wealth. Yes, crackdowns are necessary from time to time, they are exciting, and they give us purpose; but, do we ever really know, brothers, to a precise certainty, how they are going to play out?”

    “Why do we play with fire? I say, let us continually cut off small pieces of our expanding pie, then incrementally feed these bits to the rabble. Just a few crumbs from our crust, brothers, is all that is needed to keep them calm.”

    “What say ye? Should we pass the Beluga as we ponder this?”

    * Whichever faction or strongman has the power should be immaterial; unless, of course, a strongman emerges who screws things up by being equal parts savvy and insane — which seems to happen more often than you would think.

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