Links 3/7/11

Does Guinness Beer Taste Better in Ireland? ScienceDaily (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Cave in moon: Base station for astronauts? SiliconIndia

Libya lurches close to full-blown civil war Financial Times

Saudis mobilise thousands of troops to quell growing revolt Independent (hat tip Jesse)

EU summit will skirt the real issues John Dizard Financial Times (hat tip reader Hubert)

Moody’s Downgrades Greece, And Portuguese Yields Are Surging, So Of Course The Euro Is Rallying Clusterstock

Labor Organizing Jumps in the Wake of Wisconsin Dave Dayen, FireDogLake and 20 lies (and counting) told by Gov. Walker Russ’ Filtered News

Clarence Thomas Faces Call For His Disbarment in Missouri Supreme Court AlterNet and Clarence Thomas Bar Complaint (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Two Sikh men in Sacramento gunned down, possible hate crime McClatchy (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). I once hired a Sikh at Sumitomo Bank in the face of some resistance. He was terrific, so this story bothers me even more than most ugly reports of this type.

Fareed Zakaria Is Upset Because the Government Spends So Much More on Each Rich Person Than on Each Child Dean Baker

The case for film subsidies (and other goodies) Steve Waldman

House approves foreclosure fraud measure AJC (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-03-07 at 6.59.07 AM

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  1. DownSouth

    It looks like King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Governor Walker of Wisconsin are both taking their cues from the same playbook:

    So far, the Saudi authorities have tried to dissuade their own people from supporting the 11 March demonstrations on the grounds that many protesters are “Iraqis and Iranians”. It’s the same old story used by Ben Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak of Egypt and Bouteflika of Algeria and Saleh of Yemen and the al-Khalifas of Bahrain: “foreign hands” are behind every democratic insurrection in the Middle East.
    –“Saudis mobilise thousands of troops to quell growing revolt”

    Walker: keeps saying that “almost all” of the protesters at the Capitol are from outside the state

    The truth: “The vast majority of people protesting are from here — Wisconsin and even more from Dane County,” said Joel DeSpain, public information officer for the Madison Police Department.
    –“20 lies (and counting) told by Gov. Walker”

  2. Antifa

    Revolutions come from empty cupboards. Revolutions hinge on the realization that ‘things can’t go on this way.’ A young Tunisian man reduced to trying to sell fruit from a street cart because he could gain no education or trade or even menial job set himself on fire at the last when he knew in his soul that ‘things can’t go on this way.’

    A great many Arabs realize the same thing, across the whole of the Middle East and deeper into Africa. We have not seen the end of these heartfelt revolutions against malicious poverty, and we have seen this realization blossom in America as well, putting tens of thousands on the streets refusing to accept the over-grasping of the wealthy.

    What has begun in Madison will change America. What is stirring in Arabia will change America even more.

    Given the long term suppression of Shia communities and aspirations in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, nothing short of genocide will actually pacify or stop the uprisings there. It may not be this Friday, but it will be another Friday, and soon, when it all comes unglued. And with the fall of the House of Saud will come a whole new level of pricing uncertainty to America’s oily economy.

    America’s rich will want to gouge the middle class all the more in uncertain times, but they have already shown heir hand, already over-grasped, and the American working classes now see and realize that ‘things can’t go on this way.’

    Worldwide, wherever people work and strive, too much has been taken. Too many cupboards are bare. Too many futures are cancelled, erased, unaffordable, denied.

    This Friday might be a day that the 21st Century turns upon.

    Revolutions require nothing more than the people coming out of their homes, off of their jobs, in from the the farms and filling the streets and staying there day after day. The machinery of the State, the authority of the masters, the power of great institutions, and even the guns of the government all come to naught against everyone standing in the street knowing and saying that ‘things can’t go on this way.’

    The men and women who filled Tahrir Square in Cairo could either stand in the streets or go home and gaze at their empty cupboards.

    1. DownSouth

      Antifa said: “This Friday might be a day that the 21st Century turns upon.”

      A successful revolution in Saudi Arabia would drive a stake though the heart of the “blood for oil” diplomacy formulated during the Reagan administration.

      And if that were to come to pass, the question would then become: “What now?” The United States would find itself at a crossroads.

      “Rule by sheer violence comes into play where power is being lost,” wrote Hannah Arendt in Crises of the Republic; “it is precisely the shrinking power of the Russian government, internally and externally, that became manifest in the ‘solution’ of the Czechoslovak problem—-just as it was in the shrinking power of European imperialism that became manifest in the alternative between decolonization and masacre.”

      It is a fact that any rich man, unless he is a Jew, has less to fear from fascism than from either Communism or democratic socialism. One ought never to forget this, for nearly the whole of German and Italian propaganda is designed to cover it up. The natural instinct of men like Simon, Hoare, Chamberlain, etc., was to come to an agreement with Hitler. But—-and here the peculiar feature of English life that I have spoken of, the deep sense of national solidarity, comes in—-they could only do so by breaking up the Empire and selling their own people into semi-slavery. A truly corrupt class would have done this without hesitation, as in France. But things had not gone that distance in England
      –George Orwell, “England Your England”

      So have “things gone that distance” in the United States? We may be on the verge of finding out.

      1. Paul Repstock

        Hmmm….I’m not sure you are right DS. For one thing the Elitist bag of tricks is far from empty. The most probable being national emergencies, and the most probableof those being disease outbreaks. I hate to think this way, but to some the maintainance of control trumps all costs.

        I tend to think Antifa has a major point. A credible uprising in Saudi Arabia would probably trigger lightening redeployments from Iraq and Afganistan??

    2. Graveltongue

      Antifa, thank you for that, beautifully put.

      I am conflicted.

      I know that it is my responsibility to ensure that the future for my children and every child on this planet is as safe and as fruitful as I can possibly make it but I feel my feet are stuck to the ground and my scream is caught in my throat. I am lucky where I live, but I know that that luck will wane some day soon.

      I remain torn.

  3. Ina Deaver

    Everything tastes better in Ireland, with the possible exception of green vegetables. Wait – come to think of it – I’m unsure I’ve ever encountered a green vegetable in Ireland.

    May she prosper again. With a nod to Swift, perhaps they need to eat bankers.

    1. Cedric Regula

      I’ll cover the Stout Issue, and leave the Great Banker Famine to someone else. (crazyman?)

      In olden days, the water in Dublin worked out perfect for making stout. The reason is stout uses dark specialty barley malts (this is malt that is treated by cooking and/or roasting – to achieve chocolate and coffee flavors that are the trademark of stouts and porters)and that corrects the Dublin water Ph to the perfect value needed for the mashing process. It worked out the other way around for German and Czech cities. Light malts and Pilsners were their natural forte for the type of water they had there.

      But with modern Ph monitoring and adjustment, any brewery anywhere should be able to match the Guinness recipe, provided they use the same ingredients.

      I know this because I took up home brewing a few years ago and have studied the subject extensively.

      But about Guinness. Guinness is for sissies. Guinness is for girly-men. It is a wimp beer, period.

      I make a real stout. It is an Imperial Stout, but I named my version “Buttkicker Stout” for reasons obvious to anyone who has tried it. The English, and probably Irish, made Imperial Stout centuries ago as a export beer they sold to Russia. They were competing with the vodka market. Russians liked it. Russians were not wimps. The high alcohol content (12%-14%) and high hops level (natural preservative) made it suitable for long periods of storage, even up to a couple years. It even got better with age, like wine.

      Mine is very heavy bodied, lots of carbonation to offset the heaviness, and has a strong, complex hops, coffee, chocolate and licorice blend of flavors (I spiced it with a little fennel). It’s black as night.

      Just cooked up a 5 gallon batch a month ago. It’s got another three long months to sit in the fermenter. Then bottle with live yeast and some priming sugar. Two weeks later, and the beer is finished carbonating in the bottle.

      Then it’s party time.

        1. Cedric Regula


          The trick to high alcohol beer, in case you haven’t heard yet, is since beer yeast dies off at 8% alcohol, you then add champagne yeast to ferment it the rest of the way. I just use Coopers dry yeast since the flavors overpower any yeast flavor so the fancy expensive yeasts are a waste of money for this recipe, IMO. Coppers is better at warmer temps (important here in AZ), but any dry beer yeast is fine.

          I do an all grain mash, but because you can only get to 6% alcohol this way, I add dry dark malt extract to the boil pot to get the malt sugar to where it needs to be. I use two boil pots on the stove to get enough “headroom” because with all this malt sugar the boilover is BIG. Likewise I split the cooled wort between two fermenters because primary fermentation is VIOLENT and you need to keep an eye on this the first two or three days because you can blow the airlock right off the fermenter. In fact you can almost count on it. After a couple days it settles down and then you can just ignore it until the Coopers yeast dies off.

          So here’s the recipe:

          Sparge runoff 6.5 gallons, boil down to 6 gallons. I put all the hops in one boil pot, and do the one hour boil(starting after boilover is finished) with the lid on to keep in all the hops flavor. The other boil pot I leave uncovered and boil off about a half gallon. Then after cooling, I mix the two half and half in the two fermneters. I always make a 1 quart yeast culture, and split that between the two fermenters.

          O.G. 1.12 (12% alcohol) F.G. .03 (Note dark malt extract has significant unfermentable sugars, F.G. is high. This will also give a slight sweet taste to the beer.)

          Bitterness 65 IBU Color 300 HCU

          Grain bill:

          9 lb. American 2-row
          1 lb. American crystal 90L
          1 lb. American chocolate
          .5 lb. American black patent
          1 lb. Roasted barley
          1 lb. Flaked oats

          9 lb. Dark dry malt extract


          Magnum pellet hops in a small hops bag. (Alt. Columbus)

          2 oz. (13% AA) 60 min.

          1 oz. (13% AA) 30 min.

          It’s the usual drill, but some specific instructions here:

          Dough In: The use of a 20 minute rest at temperatures near 104°F (40°C) has been shown to be beneficial to improving the yield from all enzymatic malts. This step is considered optional but can improve the total yield by a couple of points.

          Single step infusion at 150F. 90 minutes, then sparge w/180F water.

          Note: 145F-150F yields dryer, more fermentable wort. 155F-160F is sweeter and fuller bodied, but mash effy is lower. Since this recipe uses dark malt extract that already has a lot of unfermentable sugars, use cooler mash to improve conversion effy.

          Split wort between two pots. Start heating and add dry extract part at a time. Try to control boilover. Once stable boil is achieved, start 60 minute boil and hop additions. Cover pots to retain hops flavor. Add Whirlflock tablet and .5 oz Fennel in final 15 minutes.

          Split cooled wort (aereate first) between two fermenters so there is enough room for violent ferment. Add Coopers Ale yeast culture.

          Ferment until yeast dies from alcohol level. Make champaign yeast culture w/boiled yeast nutrient. Add to fermenters. Ferment till primary fermentation is complete. Rack to single secondary. 3 months min till bottling. Add new champaign yeast prior to bottling.

          Use Lavin K1V-1116, or alt. Lavin EC-1118 champaign yeast.


          1. zymurgy

            Many thanks Cedric !

            I’ve been looking for a good stout recipe to brew. Haven’t tried an Imperial yet (knew the yeast & high alcohol was a bit tricky). It’s time to try :-)

  4. attempter

    Is that Waldman piece supposed to be a parody of the ignorance and malevolence of corporate liberals?

    He uses chain store shopping malls and suburban sprawl as examples of things that have worked well?

    If for whatever sick reason I were going to tell lies about trickle-down, claiming it has ever worked anywhere, malls certainly wouldn’t be the example I’d pick.

    He mentions being a “good economist”, although only with reference to ivory tower theory of course.

    Well, I’ll just state what’s common sense to any truly good economist, as well as the universally proven record of evidence: No “anchor store” or Hollywood production or anyone else from out of town is going to come to your town unless he expects to take out far more than he puts in.

    As for Waldman’s mythical “bigger pie”, I can only wonder what accident might suddenly jolt him into accepting the reality that there is no such pie, since clearly he’s impervious to rational evidence. Any rational person learned long ago that trickle down was never anything but a Big Lie.

    1. attempter

      What happens when Waldman reads something like the privatization post? Does cognitive dissonance run so deep that those are like two separate universes – the universe where towns are so desperate they allegedly have to sell themselves for pennies in the dollar, versus the Rawlsian universe where towns are prospering because they’re getting pieces of “bigger pies”?

      1. Paul Repstock

        Attempter; In the distant past I naively assumed that these people could not grasp the “Bigger Pie” scenario because they were stupid. I ranked political crooks who fostered economic growth as being the more intelligent of their species, because the were smart enough to fatten the goose first (though I never did see one clever enough to just keep collecting golden eggs.)

        Later, my eyes opened and I realized that some of them had reached a plateau where any further accumulation of wealth and power had decreasing marginal returns. A point from which the only possible improvement was diminish everyone else. In effect, like with the mortgage crisis, they ‘shorted humanity’ and then set about driving it down.

        This is so pathetic it hardly rates as a strategy and certainly not as a philosophy, but I see no other explanation. I hope the enter their underground bunkers in the ‘End Times’ and become the Lizard People of our future.

        1. sal

          There is an actual dollar benefit to making everyone else poor: you can employ labor for less.

  5. Cocomaan

    Zakaria’s domestic policy columns are awful. Complaining about US budget decisions comes after his hero worship of Hank Paulson in the days following the 2008 budget crisis:

    “In Paulson, America is extremely fortunate to have a man of tremendous intelligence, drive and pragmatism, who will engage in “bold and persistent experimentation” until the job is done. Bernanke has the knowledge and wisdom that will be needed to plan the longer-range solutions. Congress is acting in a responsible and nonpartisan fashion. Barack Obama has thrown his support behind the Bush administration’s efforts.
    Often in the past year we have watched markets behave in ways that they were not supposed to, but last week we saw government behave as it should.”

    Zakaria is a hack, and should stick to the stuff he knows about: South Asian politics and other foreign policy. His columns about domestic policy are downright shameful.

    1. attempter

      So he implicitly admits banksters are criminals (the cryptic reference to markets “not behaving as they should”), yet says government should bail them out. That’s prime hackery, all right.

      And now he’s advocating robbery of the elderly, and that the government (the same one that does right when it hands trillions to the criminals who already stole and destroyed trillions) unilaterally break a legal and social contract.

      I can imagine what he thinks of union contracts.

      Zakaria’s an example of the Streicher types I was talking about in the torture thread.

      1. Cocomaan

        Every time I see a column of his, I roll my eyes. This is what passes for journalism these days.

      2. Michael H

        attempter said: “Zakaria’s an example of the Streicher types I was talking about in the torture thread.”

        No question about it.

        Fred Bethune offers a pretty good takedown of Zakaria below.
        Apparently Fareed wrote a Time magazine cover story on Egypt’s revolt in which he claims that it was caused by *too much* prosperity rather than too little.

        (This is another reason I stopped reading Time magazine many years ago.)

        Here’s an excerpt:

        “Fareed has internalized the idea that neo-liberal policies ostensibly aimed at providing certain goods are simply good in and of themselves. In his world, it doesn’t matter if the policies actually deliver anything to the people. Just implementing them is “economic progress”. Eight years of Harvard will do that to a man who once arrived as a young, bright-eyed imperialist lickspittle.”

    2. paper mac

      Zakaria isn’t even a particularly good source for South Asian politics. I mean, he studied under Samuel Huntington, for God’s sake. The guy has his position because he consistently expresses elite-flattering views and is a useful in the tokenism games the race-obsessed elites are constantly playing with one another. That his views are slightly less crazy than Huntington’s were is about the best thing I can say about him.

  6. Firean

    Up stream from the brewery in Dublin are the City’s numerous cemeteries,some dating back to the Viking occupation of the land, the resting places of centuries of previous residents. When the rain falls, as often does in Ireland, it passes through the earth there of and runs down to the River Liffey, then onwards to the St.James’s Gate Brewery. It is this unique aspect of Dublin Guiness which gives the full bodied flavour.

  7. CaitlinO

    There’s a great headline on that totally fails to deliver:

    “Protesters Ream State AGs over Foreclosure Settlement”

    While nowhere in the story are any of the 50 AG’s or any of the furious protestors heard to call for criminal prosecution of the banster fraudsters.

    Diana Olick then ends up with a nice swipe at the risk of BORROWER moral hazard:

    “I just have to throw out my own caution that if and when banks are forced to lower the amount of America’s mortgages, suddenly you are going to see a whole lot more Americans “unable” to pay back what they promised. Those of us who are paying what we owe will get nothing, and this will be the overwhelming, and everlasting lesson of this latest crisis in history.”

    It’s enough to make you sick.

    1. Francois T

      CNBC is a prime example of what Hillary Clinton was bemoaning before Congress last week; US is losing the info war because the density of fuckheads (a much less polite term would be polesnye idioty attributed to the Komrade Vladimir Lenin) in our media propel the signal-to-noise ratio to a fractional magnitude (zero signal/infinite noise) that even the vocabulary of nanotechnology cannot being to describe.

      Hence, brain dead statements like the ones from Dine Olnik are par for the course…just another day in the Ministry of Truthiness.

    2. Paul Repstock

      Divide ’em and screw ’em…LOL

      If anything, it should be an argument for canceling all debt. But, since the banks don’t even have enough capital to allow riting don second mortgages, we don’t need to worry about it.

  8. Hugh

    Fareed Zakaria is a soldier of kleptocracy. Most in our media are. His job is to sell its imperial wars to the rubes but in a pinch he can do homefront duty justifying looting of the elderly. It’s important to understand that Zakaria doesn’t just not get it, he willfully doesn’t get it. He’s an Upton Sinclair man. His career is, and depends on, his not understanding things and he very deliberately and dutifully goes about not understanding them. In our media culture, facts are unimportant. Repetition is what counts. Repeat something often enough and it becomes better than a fact. It becomes an article of faith.

    What Zakaria is doing is waging class warfare, and the primary weapon in that struggle is distraction. He begins by telling us that “there is no analogy between Middle Eastern dictatorships and American democracy.” Indeed how could anyone compare their kleptocracies to ours or demonstrations in the Arab street to those in Wisconsin. They are completely different, well, just because…

    Another favorite tactic of class warfare is pitting different groups that are hurting against each other. So it is completely unsurprising that Zakaria should set the young against the old. In Zakaria world, it is not the top 1% who own 1/3 of the country or the top 10% who own 2/3 of it who are being selfish and greedy. It is the old. Again classic class warfare blame any group, except those actually responsible.

    Zakaria doesn’t stop there though. He demands why can’t we get rid of those terrible, terrible tax breaks. What? The extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich? Those the corporations enjoy? No, that bad old deduction on mortgage interest. Why he laments can’t we have good old highly regressive taxes, like a VAT or a gas tax?

    Government is obsessed with consumption to Zakaria’s mind, or what passes for it. What we need is investment. Somehow Zakaria succeeds in ignoring that corporations are sitting on $1.4 trillion. They could invest their asses off if they wanted. No, it is government funding of investment that Zakaria is worried about. It all sounds like he is repackaging trickle down economics as infrastructure spending. Take from the old, give to the corps, they build a few roads, and hopefully they employ a few of the younger among us along the way.

    Except of course that the only problem that Social Security has is whether the government will pay back the money it borrowed from it. Medicare’s problem is really just part of a maintaining a ruinously expensive and poorly performing private healthcare sector. You want to fix Medicare’s problems, go to a universal single payer plan, as most of the rest of the industrialized world has successfully done.

    The country needs a new policy to re-indutrialize in a sustainable way. You don’t need to rob the old to do this. You need to tax back some of the lootings the rich, like Zakaria, have amassed over the last 30 years.

  9. scraping_by

    Re: Fraud Measure

    I wondered why this bill’s supported by the bankers. I think the answer’s in section 2.

    “An offense of residential mortgage fraud shall not be predicated solely upon information lawfully disclosed under federal disclosure laws, regulations, and interpretations related to the mortgage lending process nor upon truthful information contained in documents filed with the official registrar of deeds of any county of this state for the stated purpose of correcting scrivener’s errors, mistakes, inadvertent misstatements, or omissions contained in previously filed documents.” [Italics substituted for underlines.]

    I’m no lawyer, by I can recognize a defense when I see it. Just claim honest mistake, pay the money to the local registrar, and go on as before. The decriminalization of fraud reaches from the Federal to the state level.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Scrivner…Wow! What an elevated title for Robo Signers.
      Nice bit of distancing themselves too. “How could we ever have known that the minimum wage person we hired to vette 500 mortgages per day, would not do a proper job?”

  10. hermanas

    “An offense of … fraud… shall not be predicated.. upon omissions contained in previously filed documents.”
    If that becomes the law of the land there is no law.
    Georgia and Alabama are trying to out do each other as bastions of democracy, no.?

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