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Links 3/31/11

New Zealand dolphin makes animal hero list Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck). Moko was a favorite NC antidote, but hero? He didn’t put himself at risk….Has altruism become so rare that we are unable to distinguish it from heroism? Here is Time’s list so you can see the other stories.

Why is aspirin toxic to cats? DiscoverMagazine (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Wish Daniel Ellsberg a (Surprise) Happy 80th Birthday!. You could also buy his book Secrets, it’s lively and illuminating read.

Canada Refuses To Allow False News On Airwaves Care2 (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

WikiLeaks cable casts doubt on Guantanamo medical care McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

India@61: An idea gone astray The Hindu (hat tip reader May S)

Fukushima Workers Face Risk of Uncontrolled Reactions, IAEA Says Bloomberg

Japan Told To Consider Widening Evacuation Zone Around Nuclear Plant Reuters

Anglo Irish Bank posts €17.7bn loss ahead of stress tests Telegraph (hat tip Richard Smith)

Euro: It’s all down to Timo Of Finland (sorry!) Paul Mason, BBC (hat tip Richard Smith)

Push to keep peace on UK bank reform Financial Times (hat tip Richard Smith). Urm, a negotiated deal seems to contradict the idea of “independent”.

Annals of career “progressive” idiocy Lambert Strether

Our Billion Dollar Turd Sandwich David Swanson. That billion dollars is just the down payment.

What Happened to the American Declaration of War? Stratfor (hat tip reader Don H)

Scott Walker Peeved That NYT Refuses to Publish His Op/Ed AlterNet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Tax the Super Rich now or face a revolutionPaul Farrell, MarketWatch (hat tip reader Francois T)

Manufacturing Alliance Chief: Obama Turning to ‘One of Country’s Leading Outsourcers’ in Immelt ABC. From two months ago, but contains an important factoid: the number of US factories GE has closed since Obama took office. Guess before you look.

House buying strike! MacroBusiness

In Debate Over Bank Capital Regulation, a Trans-Atlantic Gulf ProPublica. Good of them to wake up and take notice; perhaps it will help traction in the US a tiny bit. NC has been on this beat since early February.

NY Fed to AIG: thanks, but no FT Alphaville. The only theory that makes sense was AIG was trying to force a sale of ML II assets so it could get the equity and any gain, which it will now achieve.

JPMorgan’s Dimon: No mortgage writedowns CNN (hat tip reader DownSouth). That’s a funny remark, since JPM does them now (admittedly on a very limited basis)

Goodies and Baddies Adam Curtis, BBC (hat tip Mark Ames). Today’s must read/watch. On the origins and flawed premises of humanitarian interventions. And if you haven’t, you must see Curtis’ four part BBC series, The Century of the Self (via Google Video).

Antidote du jour. Reader Alan H reports:

Just about this time of year, though several years ago, my wife and I stopped at a wonderful bed and breakfast on the Fraser River Delta, just south of Vancouver B.C. We borrowed one of their kayaks the next morning, and when we were headed upriver (those are the Cascade mountains in the background) a great blue heron took off from the river bank. I grabbed my camera and managed to snap this just in time. This magnificent bird truly captured the spirit of a perfect spring day.

Screen shot 2011-03-31 at 5.40.23 AM

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64 comments

  1. Foppe

    Re: “Guantanamo might not offer top of the line medical care”
    This doesn’t surprise me one bit, having recently read Klein’s The Shock Doctrine..

  2. LeeAnne

    … an expert who helped design the plant said today that the race to prevent reactor number two melting down had been lost. Daily Mail

    “Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian that he believed nuclear fuel had melted and burned through the reactor floor in unit number two.

    That would expose the core to the atmosphere, risking more serious radiation leaks.”

    “Residents within 12 miles have been evacuated, while those up to 19 miles have been urged to leave as radiation has made its way into vegetables, raw milk and water. Last week tap water as far away as Tokyo, 140 miles to the south, contained levels of cancer-causing iodine-131 considered unsafe for infants.”

    In the defense of the plant design in the following comment, its hard to see how design flaw and an accident caused by failure of one employee to perform one simple task are not the same thing. The risk/benefit ratio, unless you consider millions of people all over the world sick and dying over an extended period of time not a significant risk, is clear:

    “… the units were in fact designed over 40 years ago and that 40 year design expired last year and in fact was extended. the units were designed to with stand a quake of 7.0, it in fact withstood a quake of at least 9.0, the damage was from the tsunami and failure to act promptly, in fact one report was that why the pumps stopped was not a result of the quake and tsunami, but of human error as the day before the quake a worker failed to fill up the fuel tanks. There are also many other very questionable actions by the Tokyo Electrical department after the quake. All of the reactors built since then
    have many more upgrades, the point is that you can engineer safe designs, but many times cannot stop human error. just some thoughts.”

    The fact that neighbors are not monitoring leaks from these plants, and that radiation levels are not always, like the temperature, available publicly by law is plenty of cause to shut them down until such responsibility to human rights can be enforced.

      1. LeeAnne

        It is a human right to be informed of air quality. It is humans who pay for all this stuff, and in whose name this stuff is being produced. Secrecy is unacceptable. Is that complicated?

        1. doom

          Complicated? Not at all. Except nobody in all of America, except us, ever heard of such a thing. Much less that under CESCR Article 12(2b) the state bears the duty of progressive improvement in all aspects of environmental hygiene, and that under CCPR Article 19 secrecy is most certainly unacceptable. Nobody knows what you’re talking about, by design.

          1. LeeAnne

            Doom, thank you. Its interesting to see that there is a formal document on this issue. Too bad the UN is nothing more than the left hand of US policy.

          2. Cro

            Who interprets this treaty? Who enforces it? The security council? It seems with the attendant qualifications (that don’t really ever add up to making any part of the covenant void) nearly every country has signed this thing. How many have ever acted as though it were some sort of restraint on their actions or even a guidepost for them?

            Let me say I’m not against this sort of thing. International treaties enshrining what we can collectively hold to be our inalienable rights that is. It’s just immensely frustrating to see things like this signed and then promptly ignored and forgotten instead of honored and enforced. Why even bother acting as though they were anything but a political maneuver of the time, a make work project for international institutionalists to keep busy, and let it go that we can’t even dream of enforcing the thing if interpretation is up to individual governments?

            I’m sorry Mr. Doom, I’m not trying to be cantankerous. I just don’t see how citing an international convention by a committee of a voluntary international body made up of sovereign states as though it were some form of law with an expectation of enforcement is useful as a working argument among anyone once we get outside the party lines of those who think one should be obligated to honor treaties one signs because one signed it.

            I think the only treaties, agreements, and covenants between nations that can be expected to be honored are those that are of such nature that if they are NOT honored, they will impose on a nation’s sovereignty, (of which nations tend to be VERY defensive of) or their national interests (of which they are also very defensive of).

            Have we seen any other actual operating mechanism ever actually at work from the foundation of the UN to today?

            I’d actually like to see the takes of those participating in this thread on that. I figure it’s a fairly intitutionalist crowd. Hope no-one is insulted and is just taking this as an actual question.

    1. Rex

      “one report was that why the pumps stopped was not a result of the quake and tsunami, but of human error as the day before the quake a worker failed to fill up the fuel tanks.”

      What??!

      Why, the day before the quake, would the backup generator fuel tanks need to be filled? How does fuel for a backup system wind up empty? It evaporated? All of it? Got to fill tanks every day because the backup generators run continuously?

      Is there any way this statement could be made to make sense?

      1. Antifa

        Backup pumps/generators at any company are an empty expense for the company and a dreary headache for the maintenance crew. These things are big diesel engines as a rule. You keep them shiny, oil them a tad, and and run them occasionally to clear gunk out of the cylinders.

        Other than that, they get completely ignored by everyone.

        Here’s the thing — best practices says to change out the fuel in the tanks and clean the tanks a couple to few times a year because diesel fuel starts to separate out into paraffin wax and volatiles if it sits for months, and it won’t run an engine like that.

        So you throw it out, and get fresh fuel. But Jeez, a full tank every time? That’s expensive.

        And so . . . at plants all over the world it is not uncommon to keep diesel tanks only partially filled, since the fuel therein will far more likely degrade and be discarded than ever feed the generator. It’s just the smart thing to do. Why throw money away, right?

        What you do is keep just enough in there to cover an overnight emergency (if it ever comes), but you’ve got to call the local diesel fuel company first thing in the morning to send a truck over to top off your tanks.

        Other than that, no problemo.

      2. LeeAnne

        Thanks. I didn’t understand that comment either. I repeated it to expose the argument since it has the feel of a meme in the making.

        Someone I know for instance claimed that GE ‘just made a few “parts” for the plant.’ He’s a decent, intelligent man who just happens to be an attorney in ‘finance’ and therefore feels honestly compelled to defend the global corporatocracy -mindlessly apparently.

        A good example of the zeitgeist.

        My reading of the matter is that the GE design was flawed, the Fukushima reactors installation included a serious structural defect as confessed to by a Japanese scientist who worked on the installation, that that particular flawed GE-design is installed in a number of locations in the US, that people involved in the BUSINESS of nuclear for the rest of us feel entitled to SECRECY unjustifiably on every level of the process without review or oversight -design, installation, choice of site, leaks, and accidents. Even though the effluent from these plants is odorless and invisible to humans.

  3. JTFaraday

    Well, it’s not surprising that the NY Times wouldn’t want to print Scott Walker’s Op-ed considering that his Wisconsin GOP-baggers retaliated against William Cronon, one of the NYT’s earlier Op-Ed writers and a U. Wisconsin professor, by issuing an FOIA request for all of his University e-mail mentioning the recent anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin:

    “The party refuses to say why it wants the messages; Mr. Cronon believes it is hoping to find that he is supporting the recall of Republican state senators, which would be against university policy and which he denies. This is a clear attempt to punish a critic and make other academics think twice before using the freedom of the American university to conduct legitimate research.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/opinion/28mon3.html?ref=opinion

    This is becoming quite the trend. Days later, a think tank in Michigan requested the University e-mails from labor studies professors at 3 major Michigan Universities:

    “The Mackinac Center, which describes itself as a nonpartisan research and educational institution and receives money from numerous conservative foundations, asked the three universities’ labor studies faculty members for any e-mails mentioning “Scott Walker,” “Madison,” “Wisconsin” or “Rachel Maddow,” the liberal talk show host on MSNBC.

    Greg Scholtz, the director of academic freedom for the American Association of University Professors, said: “We think all this will have a chilling effect on academic freedom. We’ve never seen FOIA requests used like this before.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/education/30professors.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

    Ironically, Cronon’s Op-ed for the Times indicated that Walker was “no Joe McCarthy.” (But he’s working on it).

  4. Richard Kline

    On the Blue on blue antidote, I looked at that image before I clicked to expand, and my first thought was, “I know that ridge line; that’s got to be lower BC.” Sure enough. Looks just like that on a fine day in the Delta, all the Blue in the world with a scrim of rock and sedge in between.

    Regarding Goodies and Baddies, I did learn one thing reading Adam Curtis’ post: he doesn’t much like lefties, and doesn’t like French ex-Lefties at all. I wouldn’t say that his thumbnail sketch of a certain slice of them is false on the face of it. Granting that, he doesn’t really know much about the subject of humanitarian intervention, even in its modern Western form. I can assure you that Mr. Curtis would like the actual history of it even less. This concept really began in the nineteenth century, although it had roots several hundred years older at least. It was often promulgated and pushed by European and American Christian missionaries and ‘liberal’ colonialists, to ‘save the natives’ from what was in fact very real and severe oppression in many places. These campaigns were generally ignored by state actors and powers that be—except when it suited there particular power-political interests to champion such issues. French intervention in Lebanon in the 1860s was a salient instance of this should anyone care to take the longer view. Another salient instance was the impact that Western Christian missionaries in China had on American policy toward Japan after WW I. As one might infer from those instances (or another dozen readily proposable), humanitarian interventions per se have indeed had a compromised history, being first and foremost an excuse to advance the cultural and political values of said interveners on those who never requested any such outcome. ‘An imposition not requested’ and instances of ‘foreign occupation’ have in most cases started badly and ended worse. Where that is what happened.

    From another perspective, I found Curtis’ presentation quite bizarre in its tone, and revealing as such. The entire political context of the Igbo in Nigeria is reduced to a blackface backdrop for comments on a Swiss media firm. One hundred and fifty years of communal backstabbing of all against all and absolutely everyone against the Serbs in the region of Yugoslavia are reduced to a sentence and a half, more or less, taking a swipe at unnamed ‘Western interveners.’ And so on: look, Adam Curtis blamely doesn’t give a damn in a world of Hell about those people actually suffering any kind of misfortune, malevolence, or crime against humanity. He can’t even be bothered to learn a shread about their lives, societies, or history, they are evidently just an excuse for him to snark personal scores with a kind of compromised ‘ex-leftist’ he personally dislikes. Or such is the conclusion I draw from his remarks. There are relevant facts which fail to enter his discourse, unsurprisingly. Sierra Leone where a genocidal assault _was_ stopped: Curtis can’t be bothered to cover that particular brouhaha. Kampuchea: the genocide stopped there when Vietnam invaded. They didn’t go primarily for humanitarian reasons, though their leadership was very much aware that ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia were being completely exterminated. They intervened more for political reasons, were roundly condemned for doing so not that anyone else would lift a finger, and left a crippling occupation. But the slaughter did stop; one might bear that in mind.

    Or then there is Medicans Sans Frontieres, which once it sent the indeed unedifying figure of Bernard Kourchner packing has managed to do a lot of good work, not that Adam Curtis can be bothered to, y’know, actually care about any of that. And then there is a further issue. There is the strong possibility that Bernard Kourchner in his Biafran Adventure was actually recruited by the French government to get involved, i.e. that he was _not_ a ‘humanitarian intervener’ but a crypto-state agent. But digging into that particular conundrum would muddy Curtis’ narrative on how compromised these ‘failed leftist humanitarians’ purportedly are, and sometimes actually are in fact, not that Curtis makes much of a case or can be bothered to evidently.

    Because Adam Curtis quite evidently does not care about those in other places, or their history, or their goals whether revolutionary, reactionary, money-grubbing, or fun-loving. “Let their stupid, hopeless, little wars get over with already for heaven’s sake,” would summarize compactly anything at all I learned from him about the people actually making and living these events, suffering or inflicting crimes or privation. Sometimes those people do in fact need help; sometimes they do ask for it. Many times, it’s best not to get involved because in the particular situation that stands to make things worse, or at least no better. Rarely intervention of some kind offers the best odds. Judging which situation is which is no simple thing, and I’m sure I’m no better judge then any other moderately informed person. I’m aslo sure I have a lot to learn about revolution, advocacy, humanity, and political change that I don’t well understand now. And I’m very, very sure I won’t learn a jot about any of that from Adam Curtis.

    1. alex

      Too many journalists, pundits and even “historians” are more interested in presenting a consistent narrative than in dealing with the messy inconsistencies of reality.

    2. Exiled

      I guess we can all agree that you clearly don’t like Adam Curtis. My sense is you are familiar with Curtis’ work, and hate him. From there, attacking Curtis is just a matter of filling in the dots: “Curtis is a liar.” “Curtis don’t know shee-it about history.” And the big whopper: “Curtis is a racist.” That’s a classic sign that the commenter really, really hates Curtis on a gut level, so he’s reaching into his bag of cheap smears, because he’s not sure he’s got his audience worked up sufficiently into the rage he’s feeling, for reasons I can’t grasp, though somehow Curtis offended him deeply.

      For the record, Curtis obviously is not a racist, and this Richard knows it. Curtis has an interesting background–he was a classmate in an unusual art school in England with the frontmen from the Gang of Four and the Mekons back in the late 70s. If you’re familiar with those early Gang of Four records (which were great), they all share this sort of post-radical-leftwing Situationist weltanschauung (sorry for the pretentious Germanism). Meaning they’re very, very conscious of the manipulative power of images, narrative, and most of all, of the failure of the ’68 left.

      It’s funny, the British director Paul Tickell sort of loathes Curtis also, largely out of professional jealousy, but also because Paul is a bit too earnest and intellectually rigorous to take such an aestheticized/stylized approach to documentaries as Curtis does. Paul has done well by most people’s standards, but not by Curtis’s standards. Paul is also a Brit, from the same generation as Curtis, and did the best documentary on punk/Sex Pistols, including an amazingly candid interview with the always-slippery Malcolm MacLaren (another post-Situationist type)–but I’m sure Paul would never, ever stoop so low as to accuse Curtis of racism.

      So basically, this commenter is trying to make the point I see a lot when smart people are offended and don’t want that revealed: “It’s nothing new, it’s old, in fact he didn’t get the half of it, I’m not impressed or offended–Oh and by the way, he’s a racist.” In Yosemite Sam-speak, it means, “Damn you, Adam Curtis, you long-eared varmint! I’ll ain’t affended, y’hear?!”

      By the way, here’s an interesting interview Errol Morris (“Fog of War”) did with Adam Curtis a few years back, gets into Curtis’ aesthetic and all that: http://www.errolmorris.com/content/interview/believer0406.html

      1. Richard Kline

        So exiled, I don’t think Curtis to be a racist at all on the basis of what he wrote, and I know nothing of his career. The factual basis of some of what he says appears to be sound as far as he goes; it’s where he doesn’t go that’s the problem. What I take exception to the construction of a narrative which excludes most of what is really significant in the issue under discussion, especially an issue as important as this one. I suspect Curtis simply rushed to blog a point rather than thought things through. . . . It might be good if Curtis tried a do-over from a more thoughtful perspective.

  5. Jim the Skeptic

    “WikiLeaks cable casts doubt on Guantanamo medical care
    McClatchy Newspapers (Carol Rosenberg)”

    This headline casts doubt on McClatchy’s employees’ ability to do critical thinking. This was a headline in search of a story, too bad they couldn’t find one.

    There were 20 lines exploring some US government official’s attempting to get Latin American countries to provide major medical care for the detainees.

    These include a reference to water-boarding of 3 detainees at secret sites. She does not make the case that they needed medical care. I suppose they were included to make it clear that this piece was to be a smear.

    There were 9 lines exploring the repercussions of transporting detainees to the continental US including this little gem. “The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Paracha’s request that he be brought to a U.S. hospital rather than have the experts brought to him.”

    There were 15 lines exploring what major medical care might have been required.

    Three lines deal with five attempted suicides. These could have been prevented if the detainees had been kept in solitary confinement, had their underwear confiscated overnight, and had been denied the use of material that could be shredded to produce rope-like material. But, then the WACKO left would have been screaming torture!

    This paragraph is especially interesting. “A State Department official said the U.S. was never able to arrange for emergency medical treatment elsewhere. But a Pentagon spokeswoman argued such a deal wasn’t really necessary.” Ms Rosenberg could have refuted that Pentagon argument with a list a deaths caused by the lack of medical care, but SHE DID NOT!

    Day in day out we deny medical care to the poor in this country but Colonoscopies are done more or less routinely in Guantanamo. Perhaps we should explore the option of providing free travel to Guantanamo for some of the chronically ill poor?

    Just wonderful, I mean you really have to wonder.

        1. Francois T

          Seriously now!
          Work on the internal logic of your post.

          Gather some facts too; most especially about torture and what it is; you clearly have no idea just bile and rage.

      1. Jim the Skeptic

        Francois T says: “You work for the CIA? The State Department? Or you just being a flaming sociopath?”

        No, just not a left wing WACKO.

        And the comment above which claims to have been from me, was not left by me. I suspect it was left by one of your ilk, probably you.

        1. Jim the Skeptic

          I’m making a necklace of the finest Afghan
          teenager- knucklebones! Would you like to
          see it? It’s for the Filipina mail-order
          bride I keep in my basement! I love America!

        2. Jim the Skeptic

          I like to pretend I’m big and strong and beating up some tied-up helpless skinny guy who is afraid of me. I’ll show him! I’m with America! And we’re the greatest country in the world!

          1. Rabid Cranky Troll

            HATE THEM HATE THEM HATE HATE HATE KILLL KILL LIBERAL MUSLIM NAZI FASCIST COMMUNISITS MAD GRR FAT!!! PIG FAT!

          2. Jim the Skeptic

            They know perfectly well why we hate them, crank. We hate them because they took our spots in all the liberal schools that rejected us and got the big-shot liberal jobs that we can’t get, and because they didn’t even knock up the overly-educated liberal women who rejected us and not them, so they didn’t have to stay in town and mow lawns for life with nine mental-defective fetal-alcohol offspring we fathered with women we hate.

          3. Rabid Cranky Troll

            To be sure, the vast majority of peasants are dumb and ill-informed and don’t understand what has been done to them, and to their country. And no doubt many of them resent liberals (aka the “coordinator class”) purely out of envy.

            Nevertheless, the peasants are absolutely correct in their dislike and mistrust of the liberal set. Gerald Celente sums up the causes of the catastrophe we face as “Harvard, Princeton, Yale, bullets, bombs and banks.”

            So let’s not get carried away with our contempt for the peasants. Their “instincts” are often more correct than we give them credit for.

  6. Michael H

    Re: Goodies and Baddies:

    from the article: “And then a few months later American air power – under the command of NATO – was used to force the Serbs to negotiate a peace. Almost no-one disagreed. It was a Good War in which the left-wing humanitarians were now allied with their old imperialist enemy – America.”

    Chomsky was one of the few who disagreed. As he stated in an interview with Michael Lerner (Tikkun) on April 5, 1999:

    Tikkun: Many Jews believe that the intervention by the United States in Kosovo is a humanitarian act which deserves our support.

    Chomsky: Then they are deluding themselves.

    “The right of humanitarian intervention, if it exists as a category in international law, is premised on the “good faith” of those intervening. That assumption of good faith is based not on their rhetoric but on their record, in particular their record of adherence to the principles of international law, World Court decisions, and so on. But if we look at the historical record, the United States does not qualify….”

    “let’s look at the U.S. record.

    Consider, for example, Colombia.

    “In Colombia, according to State Department estimates, the annual level of political killing by the government and its paramilitary associates is about at the level of Kosovo, and refugee flight primarily from their atrocities is well over a million. Yet Colombia has been the leading Western hemisphere recipient of U.S. arms and training even as violence there increased through the 1990s….”

    Or consider Turkey..

    …The United States is not going in there to save the oppressed.”

    http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/19990405.htm

    1. alex

      Chomsky: “That assumption of good faith is based not on their rhetoric but on their record”

      That’s reasoning? What about the annoyingly tedious practice of looking at things on a case-by-case basis. Or would that lead to an annoyingly inconsistent narrative?

      1. Rabid Cranky Troll

        Perhaps that was just sloppily phrased.

        Personally I think there’s enough 1) historical evidence and 2) information about the structural flaws in how the American political system and governments actually function to firmly conclude that they are always motivated by bad faith.

        They might do some good as sugarcoating, but sugarcoating is all it is. In reality everything they do is to either enrich the rich that own the USA, or to enhance the power of the American State (power which then gets used to enrich the rich even further).

  7. ella

    Yves, I just clicked onto your survey which is not something I normally do but I visit your site regularly and thought I would participate in the survey. I thought it was a survey about your site, however, the first question was not about the quality of the site rather it was an income question. I am very disappointed and immediately left the survey. Sorry, that is not what I expected from Naked Capitalism.

    1. O'Brien


      survey which is not something I normally do

      ~~Ella~

      Orange U being Πi, irrationalmaginary? Survey is not to harvest brilliant ideas from your brain. Not for measuring the level of discontent. Not to establish the new direction of consensus. Survey is homeland spy finding quicker method to drain your blood. Data mining is useful and good. It helps to protect vested interest from the evils of CinderElla.

    1. Ina Deaver

      Hands down Scott Walker: Sokol didn’t claim to be anyone’s savior, just another shark.

      1. Dirk van Dijk

        Agree Walker is the bigger scumbag by a large margin. Who did Sokol really hurt? BRK-B reputation a bit other than that I have a hard time thinking of any real harm he did.

  8. Graveltongue

    I feel compelled to second you on that Yves regarding ‘The Century of the Self’. A fascinating and terrifying look at some of the key elements that formed our consumer culture as we see it and experience it today. That man Edward Bernays has a lot to answer for. A must see that might leave you feeling a little nauseous.

    1. Rex

      You can get Century of Self on DVD too, if so inclined. I ordered it a few weeks ago — I think through Amazon.

  9. Chicken Little

    The world is a never-ending source of comedy to the cynical.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/bundesbank-euro-scam-2011-3

    Criminals Reassembled 29 Tons Of ‘Scrap Metal’ Euros And Sold Them Back To Germany

    Germany has uncovered an embarrassingly simple scam that cost the Bundesbank $8.5 million, according to Spiegel.

    Every year the bank sells tons of damaged coins to China as scrap metal. With one and two euro coins, officials merely separate the inner core from the outer ring.

    All criminals in China had to do was reassemble the coins and take them back to Germany and trade them in for new money.

    With the help of several Lufthansa flight attendant, who have no weight restriction on luggage, the gang transported 29 tons of reassembled coins back to Germany.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if they can do the same with German human waste, extracting German DNA from that in order to make clones of Germans for sale back to Germany?

      That would be much more profitable.

      (Has this idea been done in a sci fi, cause every time there is a good idea here, it seems to have been covered before?)

      1. Chicken Little

        I don’t know if sci-fi has done it before, but you’ve pretty accurately described the Harvard MBA admissions process…

      2. Cedric Regula

        The closest I can think of offhand would be “The Boys from Brazil”. But in that one they didn’t intend to sell Hitler Jr. back to the Germans.

        But as far as Germany having to break the recycled euros back in two before re-shipment back to China, remember these were assembled in China and will likely break in two without any further intervention on the part of the Germans.

  10. alex

    from “Manufacturing Alliance Chief: Obama Turning to ‘One of Country’s Leading Outsourcers’ in Immelt”:

    Scott Paul: “naming one of the country’s leading outsourcers as your chief strategy guy on jobs — I don’t think was the smartest move.”

    Not only is Mr. Paul obviously right, he also gets the Understatement of the Year Award.

    I used to think things like naming Immelt as a jobs strategist was downright Orwellian. But that’s not right – Big Brother had enough respect for people to put some effort into deceiving them. Obama and the Dems just don’t care. It’s the ultimate “screw you” attitude.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A small place to start, for improving the world, would be to have only Buddhist police officers, sorry, Buddhist peace officers.

      When I think of Buddhists, peace comes to mind…unless they are from Shaolin Temple.

    2. Rabid Cranky Troll

      Obama and the Dems just don’t care. It’s the ultimate “screw you” attitude.

      It’s the power of branding. The Democrat brand, the narrative that they are the opponents of the pro-business Republicans, ergo they must be defenders of the workers and the American consumer, gives them cover as they implement what the corporate special interests who are their true owners, want.

    3. Cedric Regula

      hehe. I think the only reason Immelt was offered the job is because Jack Welch turned down Obama’s offer first. Welch has outsourcing experience going all the way back to the 70s, before we even knew that outsourcing could be done internationally.

      I am curious to see Immelt’s jobs program however. I’m taking bets with 99% odds it has something to do with lowering corporate income tax to zero, combined with some subsidy like “Make Hiring Pay”. This will be Paygo’d with a flat tax on personal income, or perhaps a national sales tax, in the interest of responsible government finance.

      I haven’t found anyone to take the 1% side of the bet yet.

      1. Karen

        Read the article. This rule simply requires broadcasters to do their fact-checking, the way the big broadcasters (and newspapers as well) all used to do decades ago, before standards slipped here in the USA.

        The US could definitely benefit from having that same rule for our broadcasters.

  11. Tertium Squid

    What happened to the declaration of war?

    FTA: “In the expected scenario of a Soviet first strike, there would be only minutes for the president to authorize counterstrikes and no time for constitutional niceties. In that sense, it was argued fairly persuasively that the Constitution had become irrelevant to the military realities facing the republic.”

    What? We can preauthorize a person a credit line for a car but Congress can’t preauthorize the president to take certain actions under certain conditions?

    There’s a right way and a wrong way for dealing with this possibility. If the Constitution really is “irrelevant” then you change the constitution through appropriate means – you don’t chuck it out the window.

  12. Philip Pilkington

    Regarding Curtis, he’s got more films than just The Century of the Self. You can see some of them here:

    http://adamcurtisfilms.blogspot.com/

    The Trap is about the rationalisation of modern society.

    The Mayfair Set is about the rise of the new capitalism

    The Power of Nightmares is about the faux War on Terror.

    There’s also a lesser-known film that myself and a few other managed to dig up and make available on the internetz. It’s called The Living Dead – and it’s a fantastic film about the use of history by those in power. See it here:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1758338679527790685#

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8179092243297154729&hl=en&emb=1#

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-314906531328011893&hl=en&emb=1#

    Last, but not least, he made an film for an art called It Felt Like a Kiss that explores the crumbling of the American dream:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfIFeqScJz8

  13. Anonymous Comment

    In regards to this article: http://blogs.forbes.com/richdanker/2011/03/30/to-lower-the-debt-ceiling-fix-the-monetary-system/ … here is the incisive line that got me:

    “It is as if the whole monetary system was set up to enable over-borrowing and big government in America.”

    In fact, that is exactly right. After WWII Europe was demolished and Asia was severely restricted. The treaties/accords were set up for America to be the engine that pulled the whole world out of the doldrums by spending the lion’s share.

    It was known at that time that the system could not sustain indefinitely as it was set up. That’s why far-away deadlines were set up to encourage everyone to come up with a new system before this one became untenable, somewhere in the relatively distant future. Sadly, the deadlines are coming and going with no replacements being agreed. Untenable here we come?

    1. scraping_by

      However, the post-WW II era has been neatly bifurcated between the New Deal Era and the Free Market era. Use the repeal of Glass-Steagal for a dividing line. Suddenly, it’s not the government who’s the problem. It’s the lack of government, specifically, the lack of restraint and regulation.

      And since the Fed is a private bank, the way Freddie and Fannie were private corporations, it’s hard to see government policy as the villain in the money floor.

      I, too, think that remodeling the United States from the hub of an empire into a nation again would solve a lot of our problems. Especially those in the real economy, and not just those of the weightless paper trading game.

      1. Anonymous Comment

        IMO, no need for a ‘however’ between our comments. What you say is another side of the same multi-sided coin, if such a thing could be conceived. Those who do not want ‘regulation’ are the same those who do not want ‘treaties’. It’s different layers of the exact same problem. Liberty at all cost to the taxpayer/peasant.

        [There is a saying that comes to mind just now – from the elites from the old, old days: ‘The peasants are always revolting.’ If you think of the double entendre, you understand the deeper perspective and why equality is hard to reach. Just sayin.]

        About your idea that ‘it’ is either a problem of too little government or it is a problem of too much government as being two distinct and uncompatible ideas, I would like to expand your thinking on that if I may. It is simultaneously a pr\oblem of governments redeuncy and waste due to a too big to fail attitude amongst certain parts of the govt…

        AND a wretched concoction of certain people who take jobs for the express purpose of destroying the efficacy of same. People like, say, Alan Greenspan [for instance] or anyone else like him. Who take a job knowing full well they despise the concepts for which the purpose of the job was created. Someone like that might passionately still believe they are a credible source of information on the subject because they believe so strongly that they did the right thing. They were trusting and passionate and still believe they should’ve done it all over again because ‘who could have known’. Yada Yada.

        [Now, some may say… Hey, FED isn’t govt. Yeah, that’s why it’s just a for instance, recognizable metaphor. wink, wink.] The point being… treasury is. And wouldn’t you know – revolving doors. How did we all miss it, eh? Who could have known?

        Anyways… thanks for your thoughtful response.

        1. problem with typing?

          problem with redundancy? [Other problems too… just one to mention among others]

  14. Michael H

    In case someone hasn’t pointed this out already, here’s another article on Greenspan, this time by Michael Hudson for Counterpunch.

    “No Flaw in His Model … Old Time Religion Was Right After All Now Greenspan Wants to Take It All Back”

    And the author concludes with the following:

    “For further commentary on his remarkable “I take it all back” op-ed, I recommend the excellent column of Yves Smith, “OMG, Greenspan Claims Financial Rent Seeking Promotes Prosperity!” Naked Capitalism, March 30, 2011.

    http://www.counterpunch.com/

    1. Awesome

      …I was just commenting/thinking on this very idea and I am happy to have an article to further my understanding.

      Cool about Yves’ credit at CP. She rocks. I’m going over there now. Thanks for the link.

      1. Anonymous Comment

        Read it. Right on. Great read.

        Re: “Regulators were caught ‘flat-footed’ by a breakdown we had erroneously thought was more than adequately reserved against.”

        When Greenspan says “we,” he means the useful idiots that Wall Street insists on, while blackballing whomever is not a suitably true believer in the deregulatory kool-aid being doled out by Greenspan’s co-religionists on behalf of their financial god too complex for mortals to know.”

        Exactly my point above. People were hired to undo good work, and replace it with bad. GIGO. Like a virus in the computer, corrupting the system.

        There’s more to this story. Glad to see it put to ‘paper’ [as they used to say].

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