Links 9/12/11

Green-glowing cats are new tool in AIDS research Reuters (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Severe weather warning as Hurricane Katia tail approaches Guardian. Our Richard Smith had to cut his vacation short due to the storm :-(

The incredible story of Inuits fathered by a U.S. polar explorer and his aide who are making their way into a globalised world Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S). A bit of synchronicity: I visited Peary’s Eagle Island while on my sort-of vacation, and they discussed his Inuit sons, all named Robert Peary (the Daily Mail appears to have missed a few). They had a picture of one at the age of 60, and I wish I had his genes. He looked to be about 30.

Copenhagen’s novel problem: too many cyclists Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Pipeline Spills Put Safeguards Under Scrutiny New York Times

Quarry Australia has no people Sydney Morning Herald (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

Latvian Hooker Index: No Recovery in Sight EconomyWatch (hat tip reader Dr. Kevin)


Jimmy Carter: ‘We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a bullet. We never went to war’ Guardian (hat tip reader Ilja)

Congress Quietly Clearing the Decks, Avoiding Hostage Situations Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Labor Day at the New York Times: Targeting the Post Office CounterPunch (hat tip reader May S)

The Fed and the SEC Disappoint Yet Again masaccio, FireDogLake (hat tip reader Carol B)

Taps for the Unemployed Steve Fraser and Josh Freeman, TomDispatch

World Bank unit invests in hedge fund Financial Times

Independent Commission on Banking — the report FT Alphaville (hat tip Richard Smith); Yours truly has yet to read it.

UK banks eye £6bn cost of reforms Financial Times

AMERICA TODAY: Heartbreaking Pictures From New Jersey’s Homeless ‘Tent City (hat tip Lisa Epstein)

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader James B). This is a Himalayan Monal.

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  1. YankeeFrank

    The USPS essay in Counterpunch is correct as far as it goes, but it doesn’t really mention the poison pill legislation passed several years ago that forces the postal service to fund its benefits system going forward 75 years, meaning they are forced to fund the medical care and other benefits of future workers not even born yet. Thus, despite the incredibly low cost of sending mail through the USPS, without this ridiculous legislation clearly designed to create a financing crisis there would be no “crisis” at all. This was clearly done to destroy the power of one of the largest unions in the country, and the war on workers continues… if this shit keeps up there is going to be a class war and no amount of scabs and pinkertons will save the plutocrats then.

    1. wunsacon

      >> there is going to be a class war and no amount of scabs and pinkertons will save the plutocrats then.

      There is a class war.

      Now, imagine it getting worse: plutocrats will buy their own security robots — drones/terminators — to “defend” their treasure, including a continuing supply of food and energy (including biofuel taken out of the mouths of the poor) necessary to power their SUVs and whatever else they enjoy. With our current trajectory, I will not be surprised to see that happen.

    2. Mel

      I don’t see it mention, either, what’s obvious from the first paragraph: overhead and profits consume 20% of Postal Service income, 47% of UPS income, and 68% of FedEx income. To say that that’s bad is to say that efficient management is bad.

    3. evodevo

      Thank you Moshe Adler wherever you are. I am a mail carrier and you would not believe the verbal abuse I have to listen to on my route – usually TeaParty/militia types raving about the gubmint workers and their outsized benefits, etc. etc., especially after crap articles like that in the Times. I have been part time for 14 years, and there is still no full-time position at my office. The regular carriers are well paid, but the “benefit package” is a 401k and a high-deductible health plan, not a gold-plated pension. We work by the day, not by the hour. I get paid overtime after 40 hours, but the regulars don’t get overtime till after 56 hours, so basically they don’t get overtime. They get paid holidays, and then get to deliver twice the mail volume the day after (though that’s usually me working, not them). The workforce has been downsized drastically over the last 3 years, and the workload has been shifted onto the survivors, same as in the private sector. Management is salaried and works 5-6 days a week with no overtime or comp time, depending on what needs done. And, as Mr. Adler pointed out, the stamp price is the same as it was almost 3 years ago, and we can’t raise prices without the postal commission’s consent.

  2. Jim Haygood

    From an NYT article:

    It has become more likely for stock prices to make large swings — on the order of 3 percent or 4 percent — than it has been in any other time in recent stock market history, according to an analysis by The New York Times of price changes in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock market index since 1962.

    Daily data for the Dow Jones averages are available back to 1896. Why would you want to analyze 50 years of data, when 115 years are available?

    Presumably, this is just data cherry-picking to fit a preconceived conclusion that ‘we’re heroically suffering through the worst volatility ever.’

    Of course, it ain’t so. Volatility was even higher during 1929-1933. There’s a tendency to exclude pre-WW II data on the grounds that ‘markets were different then.’ But as today’s many rhymes with the 1930s indicate, prewar data cannot be set aside as irrelevant.

    Laughably, the NYT speculates whether high frequency trading is causing excess volatility. But if you go back to the NYT’s own daily stock tables of the 1930s and 1940s, you’ll find tremendous illiquidity: not only huge bid-ask spreads, but low trading volume.

    On some quiet days, even Dow stocks didn’t print any trades at all. You could have fired a shotgun across the NYSE trading floor during the 10 am to 3 pm trading hours without hitting anybody.

  3. Jeff

    Re Carter…how hard would it be to sabotage a helicopter or two so a mission failed.

    Who would want to do that?

  4. LeeAnne

    Didn’t one of our commenters just mention how aggressively he’s being targeted lately with bank marketing to sign up for direct deposit?

    The timing of the USPS terror alert -delivery could stop and soon without notice -is obvious. This particular press treatment serves a purpose; to panic people onto direct deposit for the profit of banks for all those fees charged to ‘little’ people receiving public assistance and others: monthly fees for minimal balance accounts, overdrafts, ATM withdrawals, money transfers, balance inquiries, etc.

    And, the endless interest stream banks get hard selling a small line of credit never repaid by people who’ve already proven careless with overdrafts (preceding by years, maybe decades, the no doc housing mortgage scam) to insure the poor, often desperate or panicked ‘against’ overdraft charges.

  5. M.InTheCity

    Re Carter: A bit of a whitewash with the guy. Zbigniew Brzezinski sent help pre-Soviet invasion into Afghanistan. And then you have Operation Cyclone. It wasn’t Reagan (who I loathe) who started funding the mujahideen. It’s on fricking Wikipedia. No guns, just a saint. What tosh.

    As an aside, he also deregulated the airlines. Jimmy was no lefty. Even Nixon (may he burn in hell) didn’t do that.

    So, I like Carter (he’s no Obama or Blair), but could I please see something that was, uh, like balanced reporting?

    1. Jessica

      It was also the Carter administration that supported the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia _after_ the killing fields and after everyone knew about it. Just to spite the Vietnamese.
      And according to Brzezinski himself, the US started giving aid to misogynist tribalists before the Soviet invasion, precisely in the hopes of triggering exactly the war that did ensue.
      Carter was the one who turned the Iranian hostage into such a key issue with no possibility of anyone backing down. Because it was so convenient for beating up on Ted Kennedy in the primaries. Then Reagan hoist him on his own petard.
      He was a much better ex-president than president. I don’t mean that as a left-handed compliment. He really has been a good ex-president.

      1. barrisj

        Shame, Jimmy, at least cop to the “Carter Doctrine”, which suddenly raised the Middle East high in Merika’s “National Security Interests” profile, well beyond Reagan’s peradventure in Lebanon, and in fact set the table for aggressive military and paramilitary actions all the way to the present. Posturing as the “peace Preznit” just simply doesn’t wash.

  6. Eureka Springs

    I was about 11 yrs. old in 1976 when I pled with my grandmother to remain a lifelong Democrat… not to vote for Reagan. She did vote for Reagan, and much to her credit admitted her mistake within a couple of years with quite a bit of remorse in her tone.

    I had no idea just how much the boomers, my parents generation, had dropped the ball by the late 70’s.. and will always wonder what Carter might have accomplished if he had their activism at his back.

    This weekend I told quite a few boomers they had a couple presidential elections to really make a difference… and that I thought the most significant way they could do it was to at the very least abandon both corrupt major parties.

  7. tyaresun

    Too many cyclists??? Change the car lanes to bike lanes, and bike lanes to car lanes. Problem solved! Consider it pro bono consulting.

    1. duffolonious

      I think that would only work in the southern US – heat maintenance costs are tricky in cold climates.

      Still there are probably creative ways to get by. And you can stuff a lot of people in a 5000 sq. ft. McMansion.

      I wonder how elaborate suburban squatters are – because these guys look bloody organized.

  8. Externality

    In contrast to yesterday’s maudlin ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11, America largely overlooked, aside from a few small ceremonies in Hawai’i, the 10th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s formal entry into WW II.

    From the Boston Globe

    Pausing to remember Pearl Harbor didn’t dominate the news, nor, according to anecdotal newspaper accounts, was it at the forefront for many Americans.

    On Dec. 7 of that year, the top headlines told of the latest news from Korea.

    Many newspapers put the Pearl Harbor anniversary on their front pages, but they squeezed it in among the dozen or so stories commonly crammed on a page in those days. Many relegated it to the bottom of the front page.

    1. PQS

      So it’s not just me and my cynicism, then.

      I’ve thought for some time that everything around 911 was a bit over the top, and largely driven by the media and their thirst for money. Recently a local fire department brought back a piece of the WTC and everyone in town went to see it, which I thought was strange and more than a little creepy. I live on the west coast, and to my knowledge, none of our fire depts. went to GZ, so for them to have this hunk of metal seemed just weird to me.

  9. JimS

    That Austrian up there talking about how the Australian mining companies can’t get workers, claims Keynesian models don’t account for sticky labor conditions. Would that be in contrast to non-Keynesian models that do?

    If the Austrian economics he and his more enthusiastic commenters offer did account for them, why didn’t he say how? And if, as he claims, workers aren’t fungible, then why is the answer for Australian mining companies to replace Australian miners with cheaper Chinese ones? His argument contradicts itself.

    1. scraping_by

      That Austrian school viewpoint is just the management mythology given academic breadth.

      The idea that a worker can’t do another job with his existing skill set, or use that skill set to learn a new job quickly and economically, is flat-out unreality. It’s management method of pidgeon-holing the staff to fit into a machine metaphor. It’s contradicted by the least amount of real-world real time experience. It’s bullshit.

      This is what makes it such an attractive idea. As long as it’s an unexamined premise, it supports the elitist conclusions of mainstream economics. The myth of the worker bees.

    2. scraping_by

      Oh, and the importing workers to fill skill gaps?

      By now, everyone’s aware that the resumes of Indian IT workers are partly or totally fictional. So the skilled Chinese worker is probably a maybe literate hoe-jockey right off the farm.

      But, it can be written and filed properly that their skills have been attested to by someone else. So management is ass-covered. What happens in the real world is someone else’s problem.

  10. Jessica

    Copenhagen and cycling
    I personally find the place paradise. Every time I go there, I rent a bike and can easily get wherever I want. During the summer, there are people out and about on bikes at literally all hours. As a single woman, I feel a lot safer late at night seeing other human beings, not just cars. It makes the city vibrant and open.

  11. barrisj

    BTW, how did that “terrorist alert” work out for everybody? You know, the two “American citizens of Middle East background” who allegedly were coming from Afghanistan training camps to set off car bombs in either NY or DC. One dude was 5’8” tall and his mate was 5’…geez louise, d’ya think they could have been profiled? Well, the long and short of it is that the “credible but unconfirmed” intel was straight out of Tom Ridge DefCon Red, and in fact the most notable “terrorist activity” on the weekend was a massive car bomb set off outside a US military base in Eastern Afghanistan, injuring 80 and killing 3. Do you suppose THAT was the subject of intel?

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