Links 3/22/11

‘Worst song ever’ tops 30 million YouTube views PhysOrg

Low testosterone linked with financial risk-taking NewScientist (hat tip Francois T). Hhhm, are some of those gamblers just compensating?

New Process Cleanly Extracts Oil from Tar Sands and Fouled Beaches Science Daily (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Crime Rates Are Plummeting — And No One Knows Why AlterNet (hat tip reader Francois T)

Court Says Plaintiffs Can Challenge Bush Wiretapping Law ACLU

Photos show US soldiers in Afghanistan posing with dead civilians Guardian and The ‘Kill Team’ Images: US Army Apologizes for Horrific Photos from Afghanistan Der Spiegel (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Israel air strikes wound 19 in Gaza Strip Reuters

New York Times Throws In with Bahrain’s MOTUs Siun, FireDogLake

WikiLeaks cable links defecting Yemeni general to smuggling rackets Guardian (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

U.S. military considering mandatory evacuations in Yokosuka CNN (hat tip reader Down South)

Squeeze on cost of living will be worst since 1920s Independent (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

Stay tuned for a massive rise in the UK unemployment rate billy blog

Wisconsin: Walker Helps State Senator’s Girlfriend Land Staff Gig Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Sen. Webb Says President Wrongly Making War Without Congress, Admits It’s About Oil, Takes No Action WarisaCrime

Frank: White House Not Tough Enough to Push for Warren on CFPB Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Pressures mount for higher US gas prices John Dizard, Financial Times

AT&T, T-Mobile merger blasted Washington Post

How the iPhone Led to the Sale of T-Mobile USA New York Times

Fed’s Court-Ordered Disclosure Shows Americans’ ‘Right to Know’ BankingMagazine

BANKER ON HOW TO SOLVE DEBT CRISIS: The Public Needs To Work Harder For Less Money And 50% Fewer Benefits Clusterstock

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-03-22 at 6.56.54 AM

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  1. rjs

    Photos show US soldiers in Afghanistan posing with dead civilians Guardian
    and The ‘Kill Team’ Images: US Army Apologizes for Horrific Photos from Afghanistan Der Spiegel

    interesting that they apologized for the photos, not the killing…

    1. DownSouth

      Even more interesting is that they’re not accusing The Guardian and Der Spiegel of being “terrorist” organizations.

      Surely they can round up some suspected leaker to lock up in solitary confinement and torture for months on end, just to send a message to other would-be leakers that this is what happens to those who dare embarrass Obama and his merry band of fascists.

    2. sherparick

      This has been an on-going prosecution via court-martial of five soldiers at Ft. Lewis, Washington. There is also an investigation. All the terrible details will be in those court martial transcripts.

      There is a story about how this was a breakdown in discipline of the total unit.

      The question will be if the officers, including the Brigade Commander, will be held accountable for the collapse of discipline. On that point, I am not not to optimistic.

      I think this material is somee of the stuff Bradley Manning provided Wikileaks. Or a family member of one of the defendants, with access to the defense case materials, could have released it.

      1. DownSouth

        Talking about the stuff Bradley Manning allegedly provided Wikileaks, it has gone viral here in Mexico, especially the parts exposing the United States’ “war on drugs” being conducted here in Mexico.

        The U.S. ambassador to Mexico has been forced to resign.

        It has unleashed a flood of articles like this one, “The cycle of terror and intervention” by VÍCTOR M. QUINTANA S.

        “Bi-national war where one country makes the decisions and the other pays the price” is the way Quintana begins. He goes on to make the case that the United States incites crises in countries like Mexico so that it can intervene into the internal politics of the country. The reason the United States “perpetrates terror, provokes terror and reacts against terror” is in order to “maintain its very weakened hegemony in the region.”

        “The cycle of intervention-terror-intervention is the only way to keep us following the doctrine of the decadent empire.,” Quintana continues. “Against this the Mexican government has responded as we suspected: slowly and fearfully.”

          1. Mme. Francoise

            It will be interesting to see how widespread torture becomes, now that the international conventions prohibiting it are dead.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      From Der Spiegel: “The United States and NATO are concerned that reactions could be intense to the publication of images documenting killings committed by US soldiers in Afghanistan.”

      We are concerned first and foremost most about reactions. We apologize if anyone was offended.

      The images themselves are not very graphic, but like the staged torture orgy of Abu Ghraib, they are weird and surreal—casual snapshots of the banality of evil, the cruelty and oblivious depravity of dehumanized young Americans lifting the head of the young buck, posing proudly with a trophy of the hunt, one of many. These are our next gen of walking wounded that have lost their humanity. The lingering stench of this now clings permanently to Obama.

      “One, two, three, four, what are we fightin’ for? Don’t ask me; I don’t give a damn, next stop, [Afghanistan]”

      1. Mme. Francoise

        You call them the walking wounded who lost their humanity, but I call them the future captains of industry and business leaders.

      2. notexactlyhuman

        Chris Hedges most recent piece is sure to lift your morale.

        Death and After in Iraq

        “We had clean body bags set up so we could sort the flesh,” she said. “Sometimes things come in with nametags. Or sometimes one is Hispanic and you could tell who was Hispanic and who was the white guy. We tried separating flesh. It was ridiculous. We would open a body bag and there was nothing but vaporized flesh. There were not four hands or a whole leg in a bag. We tried to distribute the mush evenly throughout the bags. We were trying to do the best we could sorting it out. We had the last body bag come in. We opened up the body bag and it was filled with the heads. I looked at four before looking away. Not only did we have to look at them, we had to pick them up and figure out who it belonged to. The eyes were looking back at us. We got used to a lot of it. But the heads worked the other way. They affected us more strongly as time passed. We saw on the heads the expressions of fright and horror. It made us wonder what we were doing here.”

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Thanks. Hedges does hard core war porn, thankfully without pictures.

          In “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” Hedges describes the terror, rage, and horrific carnage of war as a narcotic that affects/infects all involved. It hijacks the edocrine system and cripples endorphine production like crack or meth, rendering many of its victims completely unfit for civilian life … or any life. “…war can be exhilarating and even addictive: ‘It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.’” This is why so many good soldiers counterintuitively re-up for active-duty tours. A shattered economy and poor employment also assure us of a steady supply of “volunteer” cannon fodder.

          Required reading for all chickenhawk neocons, “jingoists, pacifists, moralists, nihilists, politicians and professional soldiers equally” (publisher).

          1. skippy

            I am defective, recognize the programing with in me, natures tranquilly is my only comfort.

            Skippy…may those like me and our masters be erased from the human record.

    4. Mme. Francoise

      Well, according to the social compact, they are allowed to kill all they want so that we can fuel up our gas-guzzling SUVs (one per household member) at an affordable price. It is completely against the social compact to tell us about it. That is the real crime as far as I’m concerned.

  2. rjs

    re: New Process Cleanly Extracts Oil from Tar Sands and Fouled Beaches

    nothing in the article about the cost of production of the 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium cations

    1. Fifi

      My thought, exactly.

      It brings to my mind a technology review on nuclear reprocessing and they mentioned ionic liquids and more or less dismissed them for short term application, on the basis of their cost. If it’s too expensive for reprocessing nuclear waste, it’s probably way too expensive for anything else. Note that it was 12 years ago or so, so things may have changed.

    2. KFritz

      I have no technological expertise to address the cost of the ionic salt. In case anyone’s still reading though, the article seems to imply that it can reused, though not for how long.

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Top 10 reasons why crime rates are plummeting

    #10 – prosecutors refuse to prosecute bankers

    #9 – see #10

    #8 – see #9

    #7 – see #8

    #6 – see #7

    #5 – see #6

    #4 – see #5

    #3 – see #4

    #2 – see #3

    and the #1 reason crime rates are plummeting….prosecutors refuse to prosecute bankers.

    As Maxwell Smart would say, it’s the good old ‘if you don’t count them, they don’t exist’ trick.

    It can be applied equally effectively to unemployment.

    1. Mme. Francoise

      Just wait. When tax revenues increase, the boom in prison building will resume and then crime rates will return to normal.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I tend to believe that any discipline that uses more words than equations is not a strong science.

    I also believe that every time an equation appears, it improves the quality of that economics blog by at least 10%…not sure about readership though.

    1. PhilK

      Saw this quote somewhere recently, but can’t remember where: “Economics is the ugly step-child of astrology.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not only the ugly step-child of astrology, but it is also the evil twin of voodoo magic, married to animal innards divination on one hand, and on the other hand, secretly dating Feng Shui, alchemy and witchcraft.

        Some cult members profess the ability to create something out of nothing, putting themselves on par with YHWH.

        The whole thing is just dismal.

        1. Francois T

          Easy on this bashing of alchemy huh?

          After all, it gave raise to chemistry; where would we be without it?

  5. J Ball

    Tar sands… the thing I liked best was no mention of removal of the ‘overburden’ and disruption of the ecosystem. The cold calculus of science, forest for the trees.

    We seem to ignore many of the basic physical laws: no free lunch, for example

    Time to get in touch with the law of attraction/intention/ prayer and make our paradigm-shifting alternative third path possibilities a reality. All together now….

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I think there are more than just 30 million Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens.

    That number seems a bit low.

  7. Max424

    My first thought was; that picture is staged! My second thought was; that picture could not possibly be staged!

    It would have been a great privilege to have witnessed all the action preceding it; and I would love to know, how much time (hours, minutes?) actually unfolded, and how many elaborate feline rituals were observed in order to arrive at that implausibly perfect four cat medley?

  8. Michael H

    This is old news but someone just sent me the link.

    I’m not surprised but I didn’t know that, in 2009, the Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim Helú, had loaned $250 million to the NY Times at a 14 percent interest rate.

    If the Times know what’s good for them, I’ll bet they will not be publishing anything that might upset Carlos Slim, or any of his friends or business partners, including any of the US politicians that might be on Carlos Slim’s payroll.

    Or any politicians who might have accepted a bribe from Carlos Slim.

    Just to be on the safe side, maybe the Times would be better off not criticizing anyone on Wall Street or in the US government. Or anyone in the Mexican government. Or anyone involved in the drug cartels or drug trafficking etc.

    Carlos Slim and Narco-Politics:

    1. Mme. Francoise

      I wouldn’t worry about the New York Times. They’d be the last newspaper on the planet to criticize Carlos Slim even if he hadn’t lent them money.

  9. mcgee

    The plummeting crime rate is curious. Color me a little skeptical due to the frequent stories coming out of major metro areas about crimes being downgraded in reporting.

    Metrics are only as good as the data it is based upon. Making promotions contingent on crime rates will lead to some massaging of data. I am ready to be proven wrong but increased insecurity about the basics necessary to live for millions of Americans doesn’t point to a lessening of crime. Petty crime might not even be responded to in some areas. Many police departments are using online reports and telephone reports for many crimes. Eventually people just stop reporting crime if they know there won’t be a response. Why bother?

    1. paper mac

      Yeah, I was a little surprised to see no mention of stat-juking in that article. It’s pretty well established that police forces, particularly when they’re evaluated or funded on the basis of crime stats, will classify violent crimes as non-violent ones or fail to report them at all if it means hitting a target.

  10. Hugh

    I have always heard that crime tends to decrease in financially troubled times. People stay at home more. Communities pull together a little more. There’s more of an understanding that one’s neighbors are likely about as bad off as you are, etc.

  11. Meg

    FL state courts declare financial emergency –

    Hey NC community — can you help me figure out what’s going on in this article? I’ve been following the foreclosure crisis pretty closely, but when it comes to how the courts manage it I’m even more confused (Matt Taibbi’s article Invasion of the Home Snatchers is the limit of my understanding). It seems like the courts are complaining that they cannot pay their staff through the fees they expected to recuperate. So now that foreclosures are on hold they have more staff with less money coming in from fees? I thought that the foreclosure courts were low on staff, hence the rocket docket to get them through ASAP? And who actually pays most of these fees, the banks or the homeowner? Feels like I’m missing a lot here.

  12. Rabid Cranky Troll

    Hey Barack, how about a No Fly Zone over Gaza, you ZioNAZI AIPAC-whore douchebag?

  13. Rabid Cranky Troll

    And Barney Frank is a filthy liar. ObamaCo doesn’t lack toughness. They’re plenty tough, but they are on the *other* side. ObamaCo works for the Banksters.

    1. Mme. Francoise

      Well, to be fair to Obama, he doesn’t work for them directly. He’s more of an independent sub-contractor for their general lobbyist contractors. Now Bernanke is another story.

    2. notexactlyhuman

      Shhh… We’re supposed to overlook Obama’s strict adherence to the POTUS Revolving Door and Unaccountability Pact (PRDUP). Here, I’ll show you how it’s done:

      “But but but the Republicans won’t let Obama play with the ball…”

      Easy, eh?

    1. abelenkpe

      How is it any different from the republican plan to force workers to work longer, for less wages and benefits, with no bargaining rights, and to cut the workforce through mass layoffs….. thus further destabilizing the economy?

      These are desperate times and both sides are going to insane lengths willing to smash what’s left of our society in order to preserve a fraction of what they view as already lost. As rhetoric escalates so escalates the chance that people will act on it. And it will not be good for anyone.

      So who would like to side with?

    1. Doug Terpstra

      That idea was raised here in 2008 with some enthusiasm, but then (reluctantly) torpedoed as unconstitutional because it violated the sanctity of contracts with bankrupt banksters. On occasion, the US constitution can prove useful.

  14. abelenkpe

    What? No comments on the wealthy banker saying the public needs to work harder for less?

    1. Nigel

      Just wait until they hand you over as slaves to the Chinese in repayment of their debt, and you have to work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, and get paid 5 packs of ramen noodles per day.

  15. Dave

    re crime rates dropping.

    One aspect is that as the formerly Black areas
    like Compton become more Hispanic,
    is an unwillingness to deal with the police and to
    report crimes. Hispanic people’s experience with police in
    Mexico is negative. Plus there is the fear of
    deportation among illegals.

    Also, in spite of the “crime rate dropping”, every single night there are still shootings
    and the number of career criminals is dropping.

    The people that are getting shot are in many cases,
    guys that have horrendously long rap sheets, meaning that they will have committed hundreds if not thousands of felonies in their lifetimes. Taking a dozen of them out per year can affect the entire neighborhood.

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