Links 10/30/11

Witch Hunt Against Polar Bear Scientists Takes New Twist – 2nd Scientist Asked to Take Lie Detector Test Edward Teller, FireDogLake

The next front in the abortion wars: Birth control Salon (hat tip reader Aquifer)

New Developments in Direct TV vs. Fox Might Cost UFC Fans Bloody Elbow

Another Eurozone Country Bites The Dust Testosterone Pit (hat tip reader Carol B)

Video: The Euro Bailout Explained Ed Harrison

With Gadhafi Gone, Many Libyans Want Confiscated Property Back, Some at Gunpoint Washington Post (hat tip reader 1SK)

Qantas Fleet Grounded for Second Day New York Times

The Solipsists at Obama for America David Atkins, Hullabaloo. Per reader Carol B:

Atkins doesn’t get that Obama isn’t a Democrat or a Republican: he’s just for himself. The Democrat “thing” was a Chicago political necessity.

Kirby: Beware: Romney’s flat tax no different than Mormon tithing Salt Lake Tribune (hat tip reader Buba R)

Perry’s Flat Tax and other “bold reform” ideas in context of the richer 1% Linda Beale, Angry Bear (hat tip reader Aquifer)

400% Rise in Anti-Depressant Pill Use: Americans Are Disempowered — Can the OWS Uprising Shake Us Out of Our Depression? Alternet (hat tip reader Aquifer). Hhm, this is really quite a conceit….

Denver Police Move Into Protest Encampment Associated Press

Occupy Oakland Protestors Square Off With Police ABC (hat tip reader Deontos)

Oakland has become epicenter of Occupy movement Mercury News (hat tip reader Deontos)

Occupy Oakland Solidarity in Egypt Boing Boing (hat tip reader Deontos)

How the 99 Percent Really Lost Out – in Far Greater Ways Than the Occupy Protesters Imagine Truthout (hat tip reader Aquifer)

Meet the 0.01 Percent: War Profiteers Alternet (hat tip reader furzy mouse)

Exclusive: Cover-up at St Paul’s Independent (hat tip reader Stevie B)

Did You Hear the One About the Bankers? Thomas Friedman, New York Times. I quibble with Friedman over his comparison of Citi and Goldman. Goldman is simply more careful about legal liability. That does not make their intent any better.

MOVE YOUR MONEY – Bank Of America Branch Manager Begs Customer Not To Close Accounts Daily Bail (hat tip reader 1SK). You must read the conversation with the branch manager.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Jesse

    Has anyone heard of this Cyprus property ownership scandal from other sources? I’m trying to figure out how much faith I should put in such a shocking report.

    1. aet

      The huge peace-time military disaster which Cyprus recently suffered as a result of storing impounded Iranian weapons for years did not get very much attention either…


      “The explosion killed 13 people, including the chief of the navy, damaged hundreds of homes and knocked out a power station generating more than half of Cyprus’ electricity.”

      But…. the article cited today explicitly assumes that 130,000 properties on an Island which has all of 830,000 inhabitants are each worth 150,000 Euros. Quote:

      “The numbers are stunning. In this tiny speck of a country with 803,000 people, about 130,000 properties are still awaiting their title deeds. If the average value of these homes is €150,000…”

      A lack of electrical service would reduce the value of a property – wouldn’t it?

    2. dearieme

      There are plenty of tales of frauds involving land ownership and planning permission in Spain, are there not?

      Does it stop at Cyprus and Spain? It’s a big gamble, buying a house in a country whose language, law and culture you don’t understand.

    3. Nigel Howarth

      Jesse – I can assure you that every word in the report is true. I live in Cyprus and I am the editor of ‘Cyprus Property News’.

      Questions on the scandal have been raised in the UK House of Lords and the European Parliament.

      It has been reported in UK newspapers – and most recently by the BBC who were over here investigating a ‘dodgy’ investment scheme (scam). ITV and Channel 4 have also screened programmes


      The scandal affects Cypriot buyers as well as foreigners.


  2. WillamAshbless

    Here’s an excellent link:

    (1) Daniel Kahneman: How cognitive illusions blind us to reason
    “Why do Wall Street traders have such faith in their powers of prediction, when their success is largely down to chance? Daniel Kahneman explains how cognitive illusions skew our thinking”

    (2) and the two papers he cites are both available as free PDF downloads:

    1. Jim

      “How cognitive illusions blind us to reason”

      The most significant culprits can be found in Brussels, where the Eurocrats continue to cling to the viability of the EuroZone.

  3. Richard Kline

    I really like the editorial at Truthout by Gar Alperovitz, whose work I’ve always respected. His innovative use of Proudhon’s central theis—which thesis was that property prileges cumulative wealth over both labor and insight so severely that it amounts to theft—merits consideration even beyond Alperovitz’s remarks there. And I’ll say that Proudhon has always been my preferred political philosopher; not because his was the most moving analysis or because he offered ready solutions but because he followed his hypotheses through to their conclusions, and had the courage to advocate for them. That’s rarer than one would suppose.

    Wealth seldom comes from great personal innovation. It’s easier in the tech age than ever before, but still rare. Peter Norton wrote a good piece of software (anti-virus) and became extremely wealthy. Few other _coders_ became anything like that rich. Patent creators seldom become mega-rich as opposed to moderately wealthy because they don’t have the capital or business skill or distribution access to scale their work; their patent is typically rented out, sold, or most typically simply stolen by those possessing the former capacities.

    The principle means to great wealth is finding a choke point on distribution and charging a ‘toll.’ The secondary way to great wealth is charging rent for the use of credit, or other property like a patent or service delivery construct bought up. Yes, those who become vastly rich often work quite hard; they are rarely innovative, however, as opposed to exploitative of opportunities generated but not capitalized (or monetized) by others.

    Really, the best property we own is above our neck and in our chests. How we utilize those says everything about our personal character. It should surprise no one that those who become very rich indeed do so principally by taking that invaluable property, putting it up on the shelf of a back room, and nailing the door thereto permanently closed.

    1. aet

      You cannot own property in yourself.

      Property is a relation which requires two things: an owner, and the owned.

      If you own property in oneself, which is which?

      Property also requires the possibility of alienation: how is that possible, when one ‘s property is one’s self?

      Simply stated, that isn’t possible: those who claim we “own” our own bodies as “property” – need to re-think their own conception of what “property” IS.

      I think that on this point, all that people who think they “own” their bodies as “property” really own, is an error of nor in thinking.

      Property needs at least two separate “things”: where there is only one, there cannot be “property”.

      1. aet

        To put my point another way: people are NOT objects, regardless of their purported ability to “self-objectify”.

        Unless , that is, one wishes to re-instate slavery as an institution.

        Even if so, can one be one’s own slave?


        It is more than simply stating that you do not own your own body as property: you cannot do so – it’s a logical impossibility.

        1. skippy

          Thought. If humanity’s ultimate determinate is economics, are we all just a product, owned by its manufacturer.

        2. Ignim Brites

          Well there must be something about oneself that one owns otherwise one cannot sell labor. Or would you argue that working for wages is literally slavery?

    2. Joe Rebholz

      “…those who become vastly rich …” Don’t forget heirs. Most of them don’t do s*** to “deserve” their wealth.

      People, please don’t get distracted by whether knowledge is some form of property. The really significant point — which gets very little recognition — is the great extent to which all knowledge increases are community and culturally dependent. New knowledge, new information of any kind, new human creations of any kind can only be built upon the vast anounts of knowledge and information accumulated over millenia by humanity. Almost nothing any individual human does is creative or new. If we are lucky, we may combine a few things, rearrange a few things, make a clever conclusion from other things alreated created by those who came before us. The accumulation of knowledge is an evolutionary process working through all our cultures, through all humanity. Therefore — if the principle that reward should go to individual persons on the basis of their unique individual contributions to society — almost everyone’s reward should be pretty nearly equal to anybody elss’s.

      This completely destroy’s the 1%’s justification for their grotesque wealth.

  4. John M

    The polar scientist witch-hunt story is personally frightening for me as a physics teacher. I sincerely hope that, in the face of an intimidating investigator, I would flat-out refuse to take a lie-detector test. Polygraphs are unreliable as anything other than intimidation.

  5. craazyman

    @ Friedman’s One about the Bankers — Quite good really. 4 sensible proposals, especially the NASCAR-like decals on the bankster’s congressman, “By their suits, ye shall know them”

    @ Ed H’s Video: Euro Bailout Explained — That babe is hot and has a good mind and sexy boots. I wonder if she’s on eHarmony?

    @ Antidepressants and OWS — I dunno. I get more and more depressed with each news story I read and each conversation I have.

    @ Move Your Money — I sort of feel sorry for the bankster’s front-line trench soldiers — tellers, lobby greeters, branch supervisers, etc. They’re the 99% too. Most I’ve dealt with have been helpful and cordial. I was a teller one summer years ago, before bankers were banksters. It’s sort of a shitty job, as you can imagine. The guards have it worst, lowest paid and right there on the front line if the things get nasty, it’s like being a human sacrifice.

    @ Meet the War Profiteers — Wow. High priests of the Aztec pyramid. This is all so unconscious it makes you wonder what consciousness it.

    @ Solipsists and Obama for America — No Michelle, I’m not in. Hope to see you guys back in Chicago in 2013. Thanks for the bad memories, the betrayals, the crushed dreams, the stench of hypocrisy, the mind-misery. It feels like somebody dumped a clogged toilet bowl over our heads. Maybe I do need the anti-depressants after all!


  6. Jim Sterling

    Derek Thompson writes in The Atlantic‘s Business section:

    “U.S. tax policy has given a break to poor families for a long time. It’s not the enemy, and it won’t be the entire solution.”

    But when you look in the article to find the basis for Thompson’s statement, it turns out that what he means is the poorest people are paying less of the total tax and the richest are paying more.

    But that’s just the “53%” rhetoric in another form. Of course the lowest and highest quintiles pay less tax as they get poorer and more as they get richer. Thompson’s statement is nothing more than an acknowledgement that the tax structure is still at least slightly progressive. He pretends to show, but doesn’t actually show, that it has not gotten less progressive over the last thirty years. He offers no evidence that existing tax policy is not the enemy, or that better tax policy is not the solution.

  7. Lidia

    The anti-depressant article reminds me of the findings in “The Spirit Level”, a book by two epidemiologists. They offered evidence that health declines are based the INequality within a given society, not according to the society’s overall wealth relative to other societies. More equal, but poorer, societies had overall better health as compared to richer but more unequal ones such as the US. And these effects held across the range of income cohorts/quintiles, leaving one to imagine that the biggest difference must be greater stress, both among the poor and the rich.

  8. BDBlue

    Obama is a Democrat. To deny that is to fail to see what the Democratic Party is and what its leadership – not just Obama – believes. The Democratic Leadership is dominated by Third Way, “centrist” Democrats. While there are some progressives and liberals still in the Democratic caucus, particularly in the House, they are never put in any real position of power and, in the end, always go along with leadership which just goes to show how weak that wing of the party really is. So it’s a mistake to look at Jackie Speier and think she is the Democratic Party. She’s not. Barack Obama and Rahm Emmanuel and Bill Daley and Harry Reid and Max Baucus and Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer – these folks are the Democratic Party.

    As for why they do what they do, I think Jay Ackroyd pretty much nails it here. I’m going to post a lot of it because I think it’s an important observation:

    The president, and the Democrat’s Senate leadership, reject movement liberalism. The ideology they follow is grounded in the impact of globalization on world capital and labor markets. They believe the US has to reduce labor costs to be competitive as capital flows freely around an interconnected world—that it is unrealistic, “neo-populist” to think the middle class can be preserved. But they also recognize that the middle class is not gonna be happy with these necessary, painful policies:

    We urge a different approach, which we call “progressive realism.” Realism means recognizing and understanding the economy’s new rules while accepting the limits of government’s power to stop the forces of change. But as progressives, we also believe that government policies—if modernized and adapted to the rules of the 21st century—can create the optimal conditions for increasing economic growth, expanding middle-class prosperity and protecting those who fall behind.

    As progressive realists, we do not doubt that change is disruptive and, for many people, painful. Globalization has made many jobs obsolete, and both companies and individuals have been hurt by its impact. As the neopopulists note, all is not well with the middle class. But we also see the current era of change as one of tremendous opportunity and potential for the middle class. (pdf)

    This belief that New Deal liberalism is obsolete is combined with a belief that good policy-making is inconsistent with democratic institutions—that you need to rely on policy experts operating in good faith in the best interests of the country, without elbows being joggled by cranky neo-populists or nutty movement conservtives. And those experts, who can be found at the highest reaches of successful corporations should be brought into government, because they understand how this new global economy works. These leaders need to be brought into partnership with the US government, and hard-headed, realistic policy crafted, so that the US can continue to be the dominant world power.

    Note that a central theme here is that it is above partisanship—that the experts, left alone, will best do their work. When you use that frame, then the health care negotiation makes sense. These negotiations took place not with politicians, but with the large service providers, because those stakeholders are the real experts and will keep us out of distracting, distorting partisanship. It makes sense that we turn to the money center banks as the mechanism for minimizing the contraction—they’re the pros who have risen, through merit and diligence, to their positions.

    It’s not about Obama per se. It’s about a political philosophy, an ideology that rejects core Democratic values about the government’s role in protecting the citizenry from powerful private interests. It’s not twelve dimensional chess. It’s not cowardice or “caving” or bad messaging, or that the Democrats don’t know how to negotiate. They did get burned by Bob Dole’s promise that they’d get a dozen GOP Senate votes for the Dole-Daschle plan—but, eventually, the bill did indeed pass.

    My only quibble is that the Democratic Party has rarely supported “Democratic values” in the FDR sense of the word. They did it during the 1930s and again during the Great Society. Both times there was a lot of civil unrest. When left to their own devices, the Ds have usually chosen to serve business interests over those of regular Americans.

    1. CB`

      In backgrounding some politicians who attracted attention, for one reason and another, it occurred to me that some of them, perhaps more than half but I don’t have numbers and I don’t see how accurate numbers can be gathered, chose their party affiliations by whatever best served their electoral chances. Self-interest, not public service. Politicians, it should surprise no one, choose their own perceived best interests and follow those interests in office. I believe it was Max Baucus who consulted the apparatchiks of both major parties before running for the Senate to decide which was the better chance for office.

      The Democratic Governors Association is contributing to the Ohio ballot referendum: Not, I’ll bet, because the Democratic governors are heartfelt and ardent union supporters but because they perceive it to be in their political best interests. Self-interests are prioritized like any other interests and while some of the governors might itch to slap down unions, they see supporting unions, on this instance, as in their best interests.

      The critical issue that I see is figuring out how to convince/persuade office holders and governing agencies that their best interests are best served by aligning with my best interests. Obviously, people and institutions with weight, however that’s reckoned by office holders and agencies, have enormous advantages which they are eager to maintain and extend. Counterweight can be difficult to come by.

      Obama is neither Republican nor Democrat and anyone who did the due diligence during the 2008 campaign could see that. He’s not alone in that, he’s just the current top of the pyramid neither/nor office holder. Obama has followed his own perceived best interests. (I wish I had saved Jack White’s The Root article, but I didn’t and it doesn’t come up on a search. Try You can do very well in life that way. Because it never considers anything but self-interest, I see it as pernicious and malign.

      1. BDBlue

        All politicians serve their own self interest or at least 95% do. It’s one of the reasons money is so important in politics. It’s not just that the 1% will donate to campaigns, it’s that if you back their agenda, they’ll take care of you even if you lose. See, Dodd, Christopher and a million other ex-pols. Nobody takes care of you if you fight the big money agenda and then lose.

        But that doesn’t mean Obama is not now a Democrat or doesn’t represent the current values of the Democratic Party or at least it’s leadership. He was chosen for the nomination – and as a result as the head of the party – by the Super Delegates since neither he nor Clinton had sufficient delegates to clinch it. Congressional Democrats have not rebelled against him in any significant matter. He is not being primaried. There is no reason to think that he does not represent the Democratic Party (even if at some point, he would have been just as at home in the GOP, that goes for a lot of Dems as you point out).

        1. CB`

          He does indeed represent much of the Democratic Party, but he is entirely about himself. No party loyalty, no party allegiance. Obama is me, myself, and I, an emotional isolate. Some politicians have some personal sense of party loyalty, or tribalism, if you prefer. I think Nancy Pelosi is one. And I think that’s a problem, but also another discussion.

        2. CaitlinO

          On Olbermann the other night Michael Moore made an interesting point. He said that if TPTB wanted to see a Republican elected this go around, they would have someone in the line-up other than the current group of clowns and grotesques. The fact that there isn’t any one electable in the Republican stable may mean that the 1% are perfectly A-OK with Obama being re-elected because he’s their guy and they can count on him doing their bidding.

    2. Aquifer

      So, why did the Dems decide to become active in fostering and facilitating this new world order of globalization that they now present as “progress”, a “fait accompli” and something that, being such, must now be accommodated?

      My explanation is a rather simple one – they got tired of eating hot dogs with Joe Hardhat at the Local Diner. They saw the Reps having pate de fois gras at the Ritz with the hoi polloi and wanted the same. How to get it? Simple, suck up to the same money bags the Reps were. Voila! globalization was born and they all (1%) lived (so far) happily ever after …

    3. Valissa

      That about sums it up. I think what happens is that people who identify as Democrats project their own liberal ideals (hopes and dreams) onto the Democratic Party instead of more objectively observing the reality of the situation. Politics is primarily about money & power (and associated interest groups), not about ideals and morality… those are the province of religion and philosophy, although political propaganda would have us think otherwise.

  9. Ignim Brites

    I can imagine that Lloyd Blankfein, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, and Vikram Pandit are quaking in their boots now that the center of OWS has moved to Oakland and been radicalized. Wow.

    BTW: Didn’t Jerry Brown have a hand in building the current Oakland police force?

    1. Danny

      The whole business of Oakland becoming the center of OWS sounds like agitprop from Wall Street or it certainly
      serves their interests.

      New York City is the heart of American capitalism.
      That is where the protest should be centered.

      There is no Federal Reserve of Oakland.
      There are no important bank corporations
      headquartered in Oakland.
      Few if any financially important people live in Oakland, save our current recycled and Wall Street friendly
      Governor and his corporate banker CEO wife.

      Unlike New York, our attorney general, Kamala Harris is as useless as the tits on a tomcat.
      She made noises about walking away
      from the Attornies General settlement but then must
      have gotten a call from 1600 Pennsylvania.

      Maybe Oakland can become the winter headquarters of OWS, but then it should return to its proper place which is Wall Street.

  10. Glen

    Video: The Euro Bailout Explained Ed Harrison

    Well, if one assumes Timmy G. is an alien, this all starts to make sense.

  11. PQS

    Re: Move Your Money.

    That was a great story. I have to say, though, that long before these times (8+ years ago), I had a similar experience moving my money out of USBank to a small local bank right across the street that was offering more % for savings….and I didn’t have a huge balance or anything. Yet I got the same panicky look from the people there about not having enough cash to cover my withdrawal, and a similar story from the branch manager about “what can we do to keep you?” I simply told her that they weren’t offering enough interest on my savings account, and just across the street I could make more money, pittance though it was.

    I thought there were Federal rules about banks having enough cash to cover withdrawals? Or did that get chaged under Gramm Leach Bailout?

    I agree that the “front line” folks at these banks are underpaid and probably overworked. But, “You can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.”

    When my employer starts acting like a parasite on the economy, it’s time to move on.

    1. Paul Walker

      If fees for electronic banking won’t work then fees for demand deposits will be put on the table.

    2. Danny

      Like to point out that “conveniences” have been
      shown to be anchors preventing people from changing

      “What they haven’t mentioned are marketing studies like the one commissioned by Fiserv, which develops online bill paying systems, showing that using the Internet to pay bills, do automatic deductions and send electronic checks reduced customer turnover for banks by up to 95 percent in some cases.

      With 44 million households having used the Internet to pay a bill in the past 30 days-up from 32 million five years ago and projected to reach 55 million by 2016-it’s a shift that has major ramifications for competition.”

  12. Danny

    @Romney and Perry:

    What tag best fits?

    “Beware the Judeo-Christian Hillbilly Theocracy”?


    “Beware the Judeo-Christian Hillbilly Plutocracy”?

  13. Paul Walker

    re: David Atkins, Hullabaloo.

    It’s the same way with Joe Lieberman [former D] and Dianne Feinstein [r]

    1. CB`

      Is DiFi still the most popular pol in CA? I read recently that voter support may be waning, but no one is suggesting she’s vulnerable.

  14. barrisj

    US “losing” the Middle East? Hardly, as this article in the NYT lays out:

    U.S. Is Planning Buildup in Gulf After Iraq Exit
    MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran.
    With an eye on the threat of a belligerent Iran, the administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense.
    “We will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region, which is proof of our ongoing commitment to Iraq and to the future of that region, which holds such promise and should be freed from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Tajikistan after the president’s announcement.

    “…outside interference…”,, just priceless…again illustrating that irony is in fact dead.
    These military “alliances” hearken back to the good old days of the Cold War, where such contrivances as Seato, Cento, and Nato itself were assembled by the US as part of the “free world bulwark against Soviet expansionism”. Of course, today such alliances are being cobbled together as “defense against an expansionist Iran” and/or “Islamic terrorism”, whatever. The US seems completely unable or unwilling to understand that its continued military posture throughout the region is in and of itself a prime motivator for so-called “radical Islam”, and perhaps that in fact is the goal: provoke local populations into “asymmetric conflict”, thereby justifying a military presence. “Win-win” I believe it’s called.

      1. wunsacon

        No later than the day Dr. Henry Killinger said “oil is too important to be left in the hands of the Arabs”.

        1. barrisj

          Well, precisely…”Dr Kissinger” had called it on the mark…this is exactly what the game has been all about: a handover from one imperialist power to its successor —control of oil. Or, why bother, for fuck’s sake?

    1. Maximilien

      @barrisj: Who wrote that NYT piece? Charles Krauthammer? I thought he wrote for the Washington Post, but I guess he’s moonlighting these days because that article sounds alarmingly like something he wrote ten years ago:

      “America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in the position to reshape norms, alter expectations, and create new legalities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will.”

      “Robust continuing presence” leads to “implacable demonstrations of will”? I’m sure Mr. Krauthammer is hoping so.

  15. Danny

    Re Intellectual property is theft:

    This is why there should be no sense of obligation towards advertisers on the internet. That is, our parents and
    grandparents paid for it with their taxes that went to build DARPA.

    While sending money to Yves is a moral and good thing, the average popup is to be avoided. Highly recommend
    Firefox with the free add on Ad Block Plus. You will never see another ad again.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBef


      What about those Americans whose parents or grandparents didn’t pay for that, as they might have been citizens of different nations at that time?

      And if our DARPA built it, does it mean people from the rest of the world should pay us? Would ex-Soviet citizens pay less, since they sort of ‘helped inspire or motivate’ DARPA’s work.

      1. Danny

        Apply your ‘logic’ to a public highway.

        Foreigners can use it for free but Americans shouldn’t have to pay tolls on it.

  16. Susan the other

    “The Euro Bailout Explained” Angela is a sovereignisti and not a corporatisti. I personally like it. She just told private “credit” (as in “legal debt” obligation enforcing corporations and other non-sequitir fabrications of modern economies) that they can buzz off. They cannot suck couuntries/citizens dry.

  17. ambrit

    Marxs’ ‘wage slavery’ comes to mind.
    Also, the idea of ‘self mastery’ has been a continuing persuit among humans for as long as there have been humans. Labour is just one aspect of that endeavour.

    1. ambrit

      Curses! This d—-d computer has gone wonky again. Above comment meant to follow Ignim Brites’ thread comment.

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