Links 6/2/11

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Cashmore on Technology’s Paradigm Shift Ed Harrison

Devilish Packaging, Tamed New York Times

Corruption in Indonesia a case of here comes the bribe Crikey. Crocodile Chuck points out the complacency seems an awful lot like that of the US.

Rats found on Qantas plane just before takeoff Associated Press. Buzz Potamkin: ‘Doesn’t mention what they were fleeing.”

E. coli: Russia bans EU imports BBC

Spain demands compensation over E.coli Financial Times. No defaming those cukes!

Is the IMF an New Form of Colonialism ? – Joseph Stiglitz says “Yes” Political World (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

The Debt Ceiling as a Bargaining Chip Paul Krugman, Truthout (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

MERS foreclosure amendment dies in Oregon House committee Oregon Live (hat tip reader Lisa Epstein). I’ll confess I neglected covering this story thanks to wanting to cut back a bit over the holiday weekend. An Oregon judge not only gave an adverse ruling on a MERS foreclosure, but basically said MERS was such a botch that non-judicial foreclousures might not adequately protect borrowers. A bill to shore up MERS’s status got deep sixed and pronto.

EXCLUSIVE: WI State Election Board Failed to Review Minutes from Waukesha County ‘Recount’ Before Certifying Supreme Court Election Results Brad Blog (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Christie Faces Criticism For Police Helicopter Ride To Son’s Ballgame Ridgewood Patch

Employment Data May Be the Key to the President’s Job New York Times. Lame headline alert, but the issue is real.

The Dismal Political Economist Interviews John Maynard Keynes The Dismal Political Economist (hat tip reader Sid F)

Antidote du jour:

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    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Rats want a better place for themselves and their kids…safer schools, better working conditions and higher pay.

  1. Dan

    Re: Cashmore and technology shift paradigm. I love the quote, “Just a generation ago, people were chained to their IBM desktop computers”. No spin on that. I assume they were mindlessly tweeting and facebooking back then too instead of maybe doing real productive work. Much more efficient to do that in a mobile world.

    1. BetaSheep

      And IBM recently achieved a higher market cap than Microsoft. It’s funny how these things come full circle.

      And I’ll pass on those old IBM computers. You actually had to know something about computers to use them and it still took forever to get them to do what you wanted them to do.

  2. Foppe

    “Is the IMF an New Form of Colonialism ? – Joseph Stiglitz says “Yes” Political World”

    Good for Joe. However, to suggest that only the IMF was involved, by suggesting that only they were being exploitative [or colonialist], is to miss the point. (Excuse length)
    Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, pp. 268-71 [excerpts].

    Just weeks before it all went wrong, these countries were being held up as paragons of economic fitness and vitality—the so-called Asian Tigers, globalization’s most robust success stories. One minute, stockbrokers were telling their clients that there was no surer route to wealth than sinking your savings in Asian “emerging market” mutual funds; the next they were cashing out in droves, while traders “attacked” the currencies, creating what The Economist called “a destruction of savings on a scale more usually associated with a full-scale war.”3 And yet, within Asia’s Tiger economies, nothing observable had changed—for the most part, they were still run by the same crony elite; they had not been hit by a natural disaster or war; they were not running large deficits — some had none at all. Many large conglomerates were carrying heavy debts, but they were still producing everything from sneakers to cars, and their sales were as strong as ever. So how was it possible that, in 1996, investors had seen fit to pour $100 billion into South Korea and then, the very next year, the country had a negative investment of $20 billion—a discrepancy of $120 billion?
    It turned out that the countries were victims of pure panic, made lethal by the speed and volatility of globalized markets. What began as a rumor — that Thailand did not have enough dollars to back up its currency—triggered a stampede by the electronic herd.
    Asia’s crisis was caused by a classic fear cycle, and the only move that might have arrested it was the same one that had rescued Mexico’s currency during the so-called Tequila Crisis of 1994: a quick, decisive loan—proof to the market that the U.S. Treasury would simply not let Mexico fail.9 No such timely move was forthcoming for Asia. In fact, as soon as the crisis hit, a surprising array of heavy hitters from the financial establishment stepped forward with a unified message: Don’t help Asia. Milton Friedman himself, now in his mid-eighties, made a rare appearance on CNN to tell the news anchor Lou Dobbs that he opposed any kind of bailout and that the market should be left to correct itself. “Well, Professor, I can’t tell you what it means to have your support in this semantic discussion,” said an embarassingly starstruck Dobbs. The let-them-sink position was echoed by Friedman’s old friend Walter Wriston, former head of Citibank, and George Shultz, now working alongside Friedman at the right-wing Hoover Institution and a board member at the brokerage house Charles Schwab.
    The view was openly shared by one of Wall Street’s premier investment banks, Morgan Stanley. Jay Pelosky, the firm’s hotshot emerging-market strategist, told a conference in Los Angeles hosted by the Milken Institute (of junk bonds fame) that it was imperative that the IMF and the U.S. Treasury do nothing to lessen the pain of a crisis of 1930s proportions. “What we need now in Asia is more bad news. Bad news is needed to keep stimulating the adjustment process,” Pelosky said.
    The Clinton administration took its cue from Wall Street. When the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit was held in November 1997 in Vancouver, four months into the crash, Bill Clinton enraged his Asian counterparts by dismissing what they viewed as an economic apocalypse as “a few little glitches in the road.”12 The message was clear: the U.S. Treasury was in no rush to stop the pain. As for the IMF, the world body created to prevent crashes like this one, it took the do-nothing approach that had become its trademark since Russia. It did, eventually, respond—but not with the sort of fast, emergency stabilization loan that a purely financial crisis demanded. Instead, it came up with a long list of demands, pumped up by the Chicago School certainty that Asia’s catastrophe was an opportunity in disguise.

    Back in the early nineties, whenever advocates of free trade wanted a persuasive success story to invoke in debates, they invariably pointed to the Asian Tigers. These were the miracle economies that were growing by leaps and bounds, supposedly because they had flung open their borders to unrestricted globalization. It was a useful story—the Tigers were certainly developing with whirlwind speed—but to suggest that their expansion was based on free trade was fiction. Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand still had highly protectionist policies that barred foreigners from owning land and from buying out national firms. They had also maintained a significant role for the state, keeping sectors like energy and transportation in public hands. The Tigers had also blocked many foreign imports from Japan, Europe and North America, as they built up their own domestic markets. They were economic success stories unquestionably, but ones that proved that mixed, managed economies grew faster and more equitably than those following the Wild West Washington Consensus.
    The situation did not please Western and Japanese investment banks and multinational firms; watching Asia’s consumer market explode, they understandably longed for unfettered access to the region to sell their products. They also wanted the right to buy up the best of the Tigers’ corporations — particularly Korea’s impressive conglomerates like Daewoo, Hyundai, Samsung and LG. In the mid-nineties, under pressure from the IMF and the newly created World Trade Organization, Asian governments agreed to split the difference: they would maintain the laws that protected national firms from foreign ownership and resist pressure to privatize their key state companies, but they would lift barriers to their financial sectors, allowing a surge of paper investing and currency trading.
    In 1997, when the flood of hot money suddenly reversed current in Asia, it was a direct result of this kind of speculative investment, which was legalized only because of Western pressure. Wall Street, of course, didn’t see it that way. Top investment analysts instantly recognized the crisis as the chance to level the remaining barriers protecting Asia’s markets once and for all. Pelosky, the Morgan Stanley strategist, was particularly forthright about the logic: if the crisis was left to worsen, all foreign currency would be drained from the region and Asian-owned companies would have either to close down or to sell themselves to Western firms—both beneficial outcomes for Morgan Stanley. “I’d like to see closure of companies and asset sales…. Asset sales are very difficult; typically owners don’t want to sell unless they’re forced to. Therefore, we need more bad news to continue to put the pressure on these corporates to sell their companies.”
    Greenspan described the crisis as “a very dramatic event towards a consensus of the type of market system which we have in this country.” He also observed that “the current crisis is likely to accelerate the dismantling in many Asian countries of the remnants of a system with large elements of government-directed investment.”15 In other words, the destruction of Asia’s managed economy was actually a process of creating a new American-style economy—birth pangs for a new Asia, to borrow a phrase that would be used in an even more violent context a few years later.
    Michel Camdessus, who as head of the IMF was arguably the world’s second most powerful monetary policy maker, expressed a similar view. In a rare interview, he spoke of the crisis as an opportunity for Asia to shed its old skin and be born anew. “Economic models are not eternal,” he said. “There are times when they are useful and other times. . . where they become outdated and must be abandoned.”16 The crisis sparked by a rumor that turned fiction into fact apparently provided such a time.
    Eager not to let this opportunity slip by, the IMF—after months of doing nothing while the emergency worsened —finally entered into negotiations with the ailing governments of Asia. The only country to resist the fund in this period was Malaysia, thanks to its relatively small debt. Malaysia’s controversial prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, said that he did not think he should have to “destroy the economy in order that it should become better,” which was enough to brand him as a raving radical at the time. The rest of Asia’s crisis-struck economies were too desperate for foreign currency to refuse the possibility of tens of billions in IMF loans: Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea all came to the table.”You can’t force a country to ask you for help. It has to ask. But when it’s out of money, it hasn’t got many places to turn,” said Stanley Fischer, who was in charge of the talks
    for the IMF.
    The IMF displayed no interest in what had actually caused the crisis. Instead, like a prison interrogator looking for a weakness, the fund was exclusively focused on how the crisis could be used as leverage. The meltdown had forced a group of strong-willed countries to beg for mercy; to fail to take advantage of that window of opportunity was, for the Chicago School economists running the IMF, tantamount to professional negligence.
    In one of the worst-hit countries, such acts of democracy containment were not required. Indonesia, first in the region to fling open its doors to deregulated foreign investment, was still under the control of General Suharto, after more than thirty years. Suharto, however, had become less compliant with the West in his old age (as dictators often do). After decades of selling off Indonesia’s oil and mineral wealth to foreign corporations, he had grown bored with enriching others and had spent the previous decade or so taking care of himself, his children and his golfing buddies. For a few months, Suharto tried to resist the IMF, issuing a budget that did not contain the massive cuts it was demanding. The fund fought back by increasing the pain levels. Officially, IMF representatives are not allowed to talk to the press during a negotiation since the slightest indication of how talks are going can dramatically influence the market. That didn’t stop an unnamed “senior IMF official” from telling The Washington Post that “the markets are asking themselves the question of just how much the senior Indonesian leadership is committed to this program, and particularly to the major reform measures.” The article went on to predict that the IMF would punish Indonesia by withholding billions in promised loans. As soon as it appeared,
    Indonesia’s currency fell through the floor, losing 25 percent of its value in a single day. With that massive blow, Suharto gave in. “Can someone find me an economist who knows what’s going on?”

    1. financial matters

      Lots of colonialism going around. The City of London and similar tax havens in the US, EU and Asia are draining amazing amounts of money out of emerging countries as well as hampering the democratic process in developed nations. ‘Tax havens are to democracy what pollution is to the environment’ (Treasure Islands)

      1. Foppe

        But what’s the point in calling it “colonialism” rather than simply exploitation when Japanese banks were just as interested in exploiting the Asian crisis as the American banks were? Considering that much of the buying up today is being done by those lovely Arab SWFs, I’m not sure it still makes sense to call it colonialism.

        1. financial matters

          I agree and would prefer to call it criminal exploitation with so many laws and regulations being arbitraged.

        2. paper mac

          You’re aware that Japan has an extremely unpleasant colonial history in Asia, right?

    2. tyaresun

      The UN, World Bank and the IMF were set up as neocolonial institutions when the Western powers withdrew from the colonies at the end of world war two. This fact is quite widely accepted in the colonies. Pretty amazing that it took a Nobel laureate more than half a century to figure this out.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Is the IMF neocolonialism? John Perkins, in “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man explicitly calls it “neocolonialism” and clearly documents the formula, similar to The Shock Doctrine. Turning a national national economy into a plantation calls first for economic hit men like him to design impossibly grandiose boondoggles, then for bribery and blackmail, including use of prostitutes, then the real jackals (assassins), and finally other forms of “creative destruction, and finally, if those fail, war. It’s tried and true—happening as we speak.

        From the article, “The outcome for IMF’d countries is generally favourable to international corporations and private creditors, and devastating contraction of incomes and of indigenous production for the recipients.” Well of course, the International MFers are merely doing what their acronym stands for, though “International Mother Rapers” is now more apt.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When your discipline deals in faith, confidence and panic, it’s only proper you demand to be addressed as Your Voodoo Shamaness.

  3. Steve Devos

    BBC: E. coli: Russia bans import of EU vegetables

    Warning: This comment has nothing to do with the E. coli outbreak in Europe, I’m just using the headline as an excuse to criticize how lame the BBC is, even compared to the worst of the US corporate media hacks.

    The BBC has no idea what’s causing the E. coli outbreak. If Obama offers his opinion as to what’s causing the E. coli outbreak, then that will become the BBC’s official line as well, and they’ll repeat it endlessly.

    Following are some excerpts from an article by Afshin Rattansi, entitled “The BBC’s New Censors”:

    1. The BBC has released a statement proclaiming that late night music shows were not the place for political controversy – young people might be listening. It came after the deliberate censorship of a rapper “Mic Righteous” who had dared to utter the words “Free Palestine” in his set.

    2. As the bodies were buried after more U.S. and British-backed Israeli fire on Palestinians commemorating the stealing of their land, ……the BBC explicitly objected to alms begged for by the likes of ActionAid, the British Red Cross, CAFOD, Care International UK, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Save the Children.

    3. BBC News presenters are usually slavish in their support for U.S. policy, explicitly or in the way they frame questions. Just the posture of the BBC’s Andrew Marr betrayed how unprofessional was his exchange with President Obama when gifted an exclusive interview……It was no wonder that this speaking truth to power session ended with President Obama replying “Thank you so much. I enjoyed it.”

    4. How lame Evan Davis, a BBC Today program presenter, was when he quizzed U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder. He asked just one question about Londoner, Shaker Aamer, who is being held hostage in Guantanamo.

    5. The Muslim community in the UK have long given up on the Corporation for fair news. As for those conscious of the “ethnic cleansing” and continued violence against Palestinians, the BBC is an enemy organization.

    6. When peace protestors who sought to break the siege of Gaza were killed by Israel’s forces, the BBC was quick to support Zionism with the use of embedded reporters on their ‘Panorama’ programme…… etc….

    And so forth…. To read the entire article:

  4. Ignim Brites

    Gene McCarthy once observed that part of the problem with
    the term limit on the Presidency is that it sets an
    expectation that two terms is the norm and the incumbent in
    some sense normally deserves a second term. Therefore,
    defeat in a reelection bid is a sign of failure. There is no reason why this should be the conventional interpretation.
    We could have a conventional mentality that is more, shall we say secular, about politics. Times and circumstances
    change. The leaders and policies that seem right at one
    point in history may not seem right at another. Famously,
    people voted for CHANGE in 2008. Why shouldn’t they be
    accorded the right to vote for CHANGE in 2012?

    President Obama could contribute to a laudable secularization of our politics by deciding to forgo a reelection bid in 2012. If he were to do so, he would hardly exit as a failure. In fact, if he were to forgo a bid in 2012, that would not preclude a campaign in 2016 or 2020 or 2024. Consequently he would remain a major player in the party and the country for a long time. He could frame the decision not to run in this way; saying that he has concluded that he could better preserve and defend the successes of his administration from outside Washington.

    If he runs and is defeated, as is most probable, then he will be regarded as failure, especially by his own class who will hold him responsible for taking them down with him. Why should he accept this scapegoat role?

    1. aet

      Does your crystal ball also give the name of the person who will defeat Obama (probably) ?

      1. Valissa

        Does it really matter if Obama is not re-elected? How much does it matter who is president? Clearly Obama and Bush are very different from each other as individuals and came out of different political parties, yet despite these differences have governed very similarly.

      2. ambrit

        Dear aet;
        Who heard of Obama himself before Iowa in ’08?
        My money’s on a complete dark horse candidate (no pun intended).

        1. Valissa

          Obama first came to national attention at the 2004 Democratic Convention where he gave a very impressive speech. Obama has had (mostly silent) backers since that time that began grooming him as a possible presidential candidate (look up Penny Pritzger and the Pritzger family, banksters from way back). Initially I quite liked Obama as a politician and presidential candidate. However the more I learned about him the less I liked and trusted him and instead started to actively get worried about what and who he represented.

          I saw Obama speak at Yearly Kos 2 in Chicago in August of 2007 (he already had many netroots fans by then). He was underwhelming and Edwards still had a larger fanbase. In fact, my main reason for going to the conference was to get an up close look at all the Dem candidates. Back then I was still under the delusion that it made a difference who was president.

          1. Valissa

            Soros was involved with supporting Obama from early on. from the beginning. Check out this article from 4/15/07 – the title says it all. Plus the photo of Obama on the stairway speaking and all his new backers looking up in adoration and George Soros sitting in the kingmaker’s position.

            Money Chooses Sides

      3. Ignim Brites

        Almost anyone will be able to beat Obama in 2012 if unemployment stays above 8% as appears likely. Ironically the areas of the country where Obama’s policies (or, possibly more accurately, the policies of the BenBernank, whom he appointed) have been most successful are those where Obama is culturally the weakest. So the odds of him gaining any electoral purchase from whatever measure of success might be attributed to his policies are pretty slim.

        On the other hand, if Obama doesn’t run, he will have a good shot at running and winning in 2016 or 2020 since there is at yet no one independent or republican who demonstrates a true grasp of the magnitude of the problems confronting the nation. It is therefore unlikely that the economic crisis will be resolved before 2016.

  5. Ignacio

    No defaming those cukes?

    Some countries stopped importing ANY horticultural product from Spain. Spain is, by far, the largest exporter of horticultural products including cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, etc. and losses for spanish producers are to climb to the order of thousands of millions.

    1. Diego Méndez

      And, worst of all, there was absolutely no evidence that any Spanish product was carrying the new mortal bacteria.

      Germany has, once again, behaved as if no other people around it existed at all.

      1. attempter

        This time the Spanish government deserves all the blame. Far beyond most other European kleptocracies, it’s been aggressive in letting the GMO death merchants run rampant.

  6. dearieme

    “Business doesn’t invest and hire because they feel good, they invest and hire because they think someone will buy what they are making and selling.” Yeah, but they are likeliest to guess that someone will buy what they are making and selling when they feel good: this was encapsulated in the lovely expression “animal spirits” by the defunct economist….. eh, what was his name again?

  7. alex

    re: Cashmore on Technology’s Paradigm Shift

    Facebook and Amazon are emphatically *not* tech companies. We need a new name, like “tech application” (as opposed to “real tech”) or “service companies that have heard about the 21st century”. They use technology in their businesses, just as many retail outlets use that new-fangled electric light tech to stay open after dark.

    I admit part of this is my tech snobbery (disclaimer: I’m an electrical engineer) but there is deeper significance too. It’s not that I’m criticizing Facebook and Amazon, which may do well financially and have “legitimate” revenue streams (i.e. they’re not part of the FIRE sector). The same is true of ice cream shops and parking garages.

    They’re not in anything like the same business as say Intel, which is touting their development of “FinFET’s” (3-d gate structure in a 22nm process).

    1. Jim

      I’m still waiting for that technological breakthrough which will enable man to fly faster than the speed of sound. Hard to believe that in the mid 70s a civilian was able to cross the Atlantic 2x as fast as you can 35 years later.

      A battery breakthrough is also necessary, one that will render windmills and solar arrays as competitive as coal.

  8. Philip Pilkington


    “The Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy failed to meet the “ultimate objective” of boosting employment and economic growth, said Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive officer at Pacific Investment Management Co.

    While the bond-purchase program pushed investors into higher-yielding assets such as stocks, the “transmission mechanism” to lower unemployment by driving more money into the economy didn’t work, El-Erian of Pimco, the world’s biggest manager of bond funds, said in a radio interview on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am afraid the solution is not the Fed buying government bonds, but the Fed buying indenture notes issued by this generation of teenagers, the demographic group with the highest spendthrift potential (when given a chance) backed by their future earnings (I’d rate it AAA+++ myself).

      Put money in their hands!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Already being done, MLTPB. They’re called ‘student loans.’ And wouldn’t you know, every penny from the young spendthrifts goes straight back into the maw of the Academic Industrial complex.

        Is our kids learning?

        1. ambrit

          Dear Mr Haygood;
          Years ago, (Bison roamed the plains in huge herds,) when I were at a “Poison Ivy League” college, we all had that perrenial favourite T shirt. It had the Village Idiot serenely staring out at one and all with the caption: “I Are A Studint At Dis Skool.” We laughed about it then.

    2. Philip Pilkington

      Just to highlight the irony:

      “Treasury yields rose after tumbling yesterday the most in more than two months as reports showed company hiring and manufacturing growth slowed. The 10-year note yield fell below 3 percent for the first time this year.

      “If you’re just a U.S. investor, be careful because Treasury bonds are at yields that probably can’t stay this low for long, and equities have been pushed up by QE2,” El-Erian said.”

      Low treasury yields? And QE2 not affecting prices and employment. But the US are heading for bankruptcy and hyperinflation… Peter Schiff told me so… and his otherwise vague Nostradamus-y projections have impressed me so much! Is there nothing sacred anymore!?!

      1. Philip Pilkington

        “…QE2 not affecting prices…”

        That should read: “QE2 not affecting general prices”.

  9. Hugh

    Beating up on British media, there is this headline from Reuters: “Jobless claims fall as labor costs tepid”. While jobless claims fell by a small amount to 422,000, that is still a terrible number and hardly qualifies as much of a “fall”. But look how the article ends with this howler:

    Initial claims have now been perched above the 400,000 mark for eight weeks in a row. Analysts normally associate that level with steady job growth.

    Really? In what universe?;_ylt=AhXpaVHU2Ntz5lCI_It938JvzwcF;_ylu=X3oDMTJmNWxpdTljBGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMTEwNjAyL3VzX3VzYV9lY29ub215BGNwb3MDMwRwb3MDNwRzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3J5BHNsawNqb2JsZXNzY2xhaW0-

  10. Hugh

    BTW Jill Abramson has been named as the next executive editor at the NY Times. She will take over from Bill Keller in September.;_ylt=AudWmR74tbnABSpCQqNYqEFvzwcF;_ylu=X3oDMTJrZzljanJzBGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMTEwNjAyL3VzX25ld3lvcmt0aW1lcwRwb3MDMQRzZWMDeW5fYXJ0aWNsZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA25ld3lvcmt0aW1lcw–

    As she has been managing editor for a while, we should expect a continuation of the Times neocon line in foreign policy, neoliberalism in economic matters, and all around kissing up to the powers of be that typified Keller’s tenure. Nothing there to alter the Times’ slow motion decline into well deserved irrelevance.

  11. Philip Pilkington

    Why Moody’s are a really shitty ratings agencies — oh, and Greece might default:

    “The cost of insuring Greek government bonds rose on Thursday after ratings agency Moody’s said there was now a 50% chance of the country defaulting on its debts.”

    Some time ago The Economist — another rough roll of toilet paper — ran a ‘Special Report’. In it they laid out the possible ‘scenarios’ that might happen in the Eurozone. For each ‘scenario’ they would have a ‘percentage chance’ of it occurring.

    So, we’ll say that there might be a 20% chance that the whole thing would implode and a 50% chance that there would be a default, but the Eurozone would float.

    An eager business journalist friend of mine gave me the report. Eager as he may be, he works for an awful rag — I won’t say which — so I wasn’t hugely surprised.

    As he waxed lyrical about the report I looked at the contents section.

    “How do you think they calculate the percentages?” I asked sardonically.

    “Huh? Oh… eh… I didn’t check that…” he replied.

    I pointed out that, of course, they didn’t ‘calculate’ these percentages at all — and this indicated that much of the report was probably arbitrary.

    So, now Moody’s have issued a warning that there is a ‘50% chance’ that Greece will default. No, they didn’t lean over the table in a bar and mumble this as a figure of speech — they (probably) issued it in a carefully constructed press-release.

    Just one more reason why you’d be better reading graffiti on the back of a toilet door than you would a ‘market opinion’ by Moody’s.

  12. Valissa

    Medical marijuana superstore opens

    “We sell everything but the plant itself,” said Dhar Mann, founder of weGrow, the company that began franchising its big-box stores with outlets in Oakland and Sacramento, California. “We sell the products and the services for people to safely and responsibly cultivate their medicine.”

    The 21,000-square-foot store offers some 2,000 products, including soil, grow lights and irrigation trays, specially designed for effective marijuana growing, Mann told Reuters.

    A doctor also is on site to furnish eligible patients the initial medical approval needed to apply to the state health department for cards authorizing them to legally grow and use marijuana as treatment for a variety of qualifying ailments.

    Alluding to some of America’s leading big-box chains, the company’s own press materials describe the weGrow franchise as the “Wal-Mart of Weed,” while various media reports have referred to it as “Home DePot.”

    1. ambrit

      My Dear Valissa;
      Thank you for making my day. The pernicious weed jumps into the entrepenureal race. I think it is safe to say that this is the ultimate Grass roots movement.

      1. Valissa

        LOL!! This is a fascinating trend I’ve been following for a while now. There was a burst of business articles on marijuana prior to the California vote last year.

        It’s fascinating to watch the emerging financial and culural battle between the smaller marijuana entrepeneurs (the Grass Roots) versus the more corporate players. It echoes other markets.

        Here is a particularly good article about that, which is in many ways a great example of political economy in action:

        The Closing of the Marijuana Frontier – California is not just deciding whether pot should be legal. It’s determining the shape of a major new American industry.

        Another good source, also from 2010… though not sure how much this has been updated since CA failed to legalize marijuana last year

        Marijuana & Money, A CNBC Special Report

        1. ambrit

          Mz Valissa;
          Read the article and ‘felt the pain’ as it were. Social engineering aside, the fact that marijuana is treated the same as tobacco by the ATF and others leads one to wonder about the psychology of all prohibition efforts. People will always find ways to evade legal prohibitions, but the very act of doing so alienates the perps from the system as a whole. Voila! You have a convenient scapegoat to trot out whenever you need ‘cover’ for a potentially unpopular program. Say, the establishment of some sort of Police State. Real crooks can be dangerous, let’s send the ‘boys’ to break up this ‘dangerous’ protest group. Oh my, everything that was old is new again.

  13. LizinOregon

    I live in southern Oregon and our local paper (the Medford Mail Tribune) has a good article about the court case that led to Judge Panner’s ruling that the foreclosure could not go through because the recording of ownership documents was done out of order and because he doesn’t believe MERS can foreclose. The homeowner is a local resident. On the same day in the same paper, there are over 250 Trustee Notices of Sale which is a huge number for this area.

    It makes me wonder if the recent rulings in Oregon have created a stampede to the courthouse before it gets worse.

  14. Foppe
    “Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won,” the report said.

    The 19-member commission includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. official George P. Schultz, who held cabinet posts under U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Others include former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, U.K. business mogul Richard Branson and the current prime minister of Greece.

    Instead of punishing users who the report says “do no harm to others,” the commission argues that governments should end criminalization of drug use, experiment with legal models that would undermine organized crime syndicates and offer health and treatment services for drug-users in need.

    The commission called for drug policies based on methods empirically proven to reduce crime, lead to better health and promote economic and social development.

      1. Agent Roy Ibble

        In Thomas Pynchon’s “Vineland”, Zoyd (one of his main characters) builds his own house, bit by bit over the years, only to have it confiscated by the government under civil RICO. After he is framed for growing marijuana, he seeks legal counsel, and is told:

        “What about innocent ’till proven guilty’?”

        “That was another planet, think they used to call it America, long time ago, before the gutting of the Fourth Amendment. You were automatically guilty the minute they found that marijuana growing on your land.”

        “Wait — I wasn’t growin’ nothin’.”

        “They say you were. Duly sworn officers of the law, wearing uniforms, packing guns, bound to uphold the Constitution, you think men like that would lie?” (Pynchon, Vineland, pg 360)

        In the novel (a case of art imitating life?) not only does the government frame suspects, bribe informants, burn marijuana plants, seize property, the final irony is that they are a ultimate source of drugs.

        “notice how cheap coke has been since ’81?…Harken unto me, read thou my lips, for verily I say that wheresoever the CIA putteth in its meathooks upon the world, there also are to be found those substances which God may have created but the U.S. Code hath decided to control. Get me? Now old Bush used to be head of CIA, so you figure it out?” (Pynchon, Vineland, pg 354)

    1. ambrit

      Remember when a few years ago Bill Buckleys’ rag ran an entire issue devoted to the proposition that the “War on Drugs” was a lost cause, and pernicious doctrine to boot! Love him or hate him, the man was not afraid.

  15. ambrit

    Mz Smith;
    When on the Oregon Live link about the MERS affair, do sub link to the article about Rep DiFazios’ attempt to remove health insurance corporations exemption from anti-monoply laws. The explanation of the dynamics driving both sides of the conflict is most enlightening.

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