Links New Year’s Eve

Diseased Alaska seals tested for radiation have abnormal brain growths, undersized lymph nodes — Environmental cause indicated — Also found in Russia, Canada — Bacteria becoming blood borne — White spots on liver — Walruses next? ENENews (hat tip reader MK) :-(

Carleton Watkins and the photographs that saved Yosemite Guardian (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

Organic Agriculture May Be Outgrowing Its Ideals New York Times

Hospice Turns Months-to-Live Patient Into Addict Bloomberg (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Verizon Drops Plan for New $2 Fee Wall Street Journal. Yeah! Score one for customers! Now if we could only get banks on the run about servicer-driven foreclosures.

U.S. court upholds telecom immunity for surveillance Reuters (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

A History of Wall Street’s Women: Echoes Bloomberg (hat tip reader Steve Milm)

Sweden’s citizen-run Twitter account Aljazeera

Demonstrators brave violence in Syria Financial Times

The EU And IMF Watch In Horror As Everything Goes To Hell In Hungary Clusterstock

Occupy Beijing? Diplomat

China manufacturing activity falls again Financial Times

Lure of Chinese Tuition Squeezes Out Asian-American Students Bloomberg

OOPS! 9 Monster Mistakes That Almost Broke The Whole Damn Financial System In 2011 (BAC, RIMM) Clusterstock

Occupy activists prepare to take message to Rose Parade McClatchy (hat tip Lambert Strether)

$6.3tn wiped off markets in 2011 Financial Times

Occupied Media: Interview With Dean Baker Plutocracy Files (hat tip reader rjs)

Community encouraged to participate in Federal Foreclosure Review and Claims process Stamford Plus. Headline of e-mail message from reader Deontos:

Noooooooo I am not making this up. It is enough to make me THROW UP. A State AG herding his constituents (with the help of a State Banking Comm.) into the Independent Foreclosure Review Slaughter A REAL PIGS-ASS

The Unraveling of MF Global Wall Street Journal

Final 2011 Thoughts: Homeowners Drowning, Banks Soaring Michael Hirsh

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Tertium Squid

    Happy New Year everyone. 2012 is going to suck as much as 2011 or maybe worse, but the greedy and evil can never make a complete destruction of all that is good and beautiful so long as our hearts are good and beautiful.

    “So long as men die, liberty will never perish.”

    “Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men with machine minds and machine hearts!”

  2. Richard Kline

    Yves: “Now if we could only get banks on the run about servicer-driven foreclosures.” National mortgage payment boycott until principle write-downs are made across the board. There is nothing that the powers that be could do to stop it, or withstand it. One can’t arrest/sanction/ millions in ten thousand jurisdictions.

    The US public doesn’t have the balls, frankly. This is what I’d wish for, though, and would see as a highly desirable if high-standard deviation probability coming out of the Occupation movement. Noncompliance is vastly more powerful than busting a few windows. But it requires a very significant plurality, preferably a majority of those with underwater mortgages to participate. But still: think big.

    1. Cris Kennedy

      One big reason you can’t get that done Richard is because saner heads insist on the rule of [contract] law. What do you think would happen to the rule of law if everyone decided to quit paying their mortgage?

      1. Richard Kline

        The law gets a reality check. Look Cris, buddy: the 1% completely ignores the rule of law at this point—but expects everyone else to live under it like good serfs. This is particularly the case with regard to mortgages. Now, you are welcome to propose a solution to that conundrum of your own. Some would say, “Rich, up against the wall.” I see noncompliance as societally less destructive.

  3. IF

    Ordered the book on Carleton Watkins. I always thought it was Muir/Adams that started the process of protecting the outdoors in the US/California.

    1. MacCruiskeen

      If you like those, then you should also check out the work of William Henry Jackson, whose photos of Yellowstone helped establish it as the first official National Park. Watkins and Jackson worked in the era of collodion wet-plate, which means that glass plates had to be coated with emulsion, then exposed and processed while the emulsion was still wet. So a portable darkroom with all the chemicals needed had to be dragged into the wilderness by mule team.

  4. SH

    Happy New Year’s Yves.

    I think I read 1,000 posts and links from this site or more and it made my year great and I may just be a better person for it.

    1. Joe Rebholz


      I read almost all posts on this blog almost every day plus many comments. So I estimate I have read 350 days times average of 3 blogs per day = 1050 posts. I probably check out 5 to 10 links per day too.

      Thank you very much, Yves.

    1. tom allen

      Yes, a happy new year to all!

      On the one hand, from the “happiness economics” wiki: “Gross national happiness (GNH) is a concept introduced by the King of Bhutan in 1972 as an alternative to GDP. Several countries have already developed or are in the process of developing such an index.[3][25] Bhutan’s index has led that country to limit the amount of deforestation it will allow and to require that all tourists to its nation must spend US$200[3] Allegedly, extensive tourism and deforestation lead to unhappiness.[3]”

      But on the other hand, further down on the same page: “Some have suggested that establishing happiness as a metric is only meant to serve political goals.[3] Recently there has been concern that happiness research could be used to advance authoritarian aims.[3] As a result, some participants at a happiness conference in Rome have suggested that happiness research should not be used as a matter of public policy but rather used to inform individuals.[3]”

      So … just have a new year, I guess. :-P

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Why don’t they say that advancing authoritarian aims is unhappiness?

        It is for most people, even those writing in Wiki.

  5. Jon

    It would really “score one for consumers” if credit card processing fees were passed through to CC users instead of being spread over everyone including those *not* paying by CC, thanks to Visa/MC merchant contracts prohibiting them from charging different prices for cash & credit.

  6. skippy

    It was the best of times,

    it was the worst of times,

    it was the age of wisdom,

    it was the age of foolishness,

    it was the epoch of belief,

    it was the epoch of incredulity,

    it was the season of Light,

    it was the season of Darkness,

    it was the spring of hope,

    it was the winter of despair,

    we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. – Dickens… Duh.

    Skippy… may humanity find some why to forgive its self.

  7. ex-PFC Chuck

    The link to the Business Insider piece on things going to hell in Hungary is wrong. But all was not lost considering that the page had a link to BI’s list of the 10 most offensive ads of 2011:

    1. ohmyheck

      I saw that link as well. It was interresting. I also loved the last comments in the Hungarian article:

      “I read somewhere that in reality, Hungary doesn’t have to sell bonds and pulled the bonds when she didn’t get the price she wanted. No Eurozone country has that freedom. The problem is Austria sold a bunch of mortgages to Hungary denominated in the Austrian currency, (I think that is the Euro) and now the Hungarians cannot pay those mortgages because of currency loss. Should have sold the mortgages in Hungary’s currency. I view this as an Austrian scam. This is nothing more than a Eurozone scam. Just another predatory lending scam.”
      “Um check me where I’m wrong here but it sounds like they are simply removing the EU politics and doing what needs to be done……haircut for the bankers ands raising taxes and revenue. Where’s the issue here?”

      I couldn’t agree more. If the IMF and ECB don’t like it, they must be doing something right.

  8. Fraud Guy

    Re the hospice addicts and overuse of opiates.

    I’ve had people who work in the industry basically tell me that this is legalized euthanasia, as an od of morphine will shut down your vital functions more surely than whatever put you in hospice.

    Before I was aware of this, when my mother-in-law was in hospice, the nurse offered to let us control her liquid morphine, and to give her whatever she “needed” to stop the pain (IIRC, her words were “as much as she needs”). We declined, and now I look back and think about what she was likely offering us, and shudder.

    1. scraping_by

      But it’s nothing new (my mother remembered it being a subject discussed at home back in the 1930’s and 1940’s) nor is it anything evil. I’m not sure if it was a country custom or if city folks had that kind of relationship with the family doctor. It’s just never been discussed as an “issue” until the media got enough bandwidth to fill.

      The evil comes when it’s a bureaucratic, medical decision rather than a personal one. The psuedoscience of eugenics is well known for selecting breeding partners for people, but also advocated killing the weak and infirm, including the old. Edwin Black’s _The War Against the Weak:
      Eugenics and America’s campaign to create a master race_ is the best look at this one, and euthanasia is part of it.

      People should be let go if they want. However, keep it the patient’s decision.

        1. scraping_by

          It was concern for society over individuals. You know, Rand’s useless-eater population. But both the American theory and its later Nazi implementation had a strong bias toward young and beautiful, purely on aesthetic grounds.

  9. Paul Tioxon

    Happy New Year, I’m a grandfather. So take that existentialists! Hah, 2012 will be good year to buy onesies. And thank you Yves, you are courageous in your out spoken commitment to not take the spoon fed bullshit with a smiley face.

  10. Yearning to Learn

    As a doc, I cringe at the headline of the hospice article. It should read “longtime addict worsened while in hospice.”

    There is no question that the medical professionals dropped the ball on this one. But what we have is a drug addict that was a long time drug seeker PRIOR to going into hospice. He doctor shopped in able to get into hospice. It is not clear that the admitting doctor had the latter records that showed cardiac improvement. (did the patient release the newer improved records to the admitting doc?).

    Most people have never dealt with drug seekers before. Here is how it works. They come in and they plead with you for pain medicines, if you say no they make you feel like a monster. You have no idea what it is like to deny a person pain meds who tells you that they are in agony.

    If you do deny them enough, they go to a new doc. A new clinic. A new ER. Eventually they find someone who will write them the scrip. Repeat a million times.

    It is very hard on us when we realize we have been played. If we confront them they can become hostile. My clinic has full time security guard for this reason.

    Reading the story, several docs DID try to prevent him from becoming an addict. So he moved to other systems.

    On a side note, I only see kids now for precisely this reason. Adult medicine is filled with this. Almost NOBODY wants tylenol or ibuprofen or naproxen… They all want flexeril or OxyContin or Vicodin.

    This story is a depressing tale.

    Lastly, not all hospice is euthanasia. I wish we allowed euthanasia but we don’t. Thus your hospice worker gave YOU the CHOICE if you wanted that path. You may shudder, but many do not believe in keeping a body alive at all costs. Some people believe in a peaceful death with dignity, as my family chose when my mother was brain dead having constant seizures and coughing up blood after her lung cancer ate into the major blood vessel in the lung and her lungs filled up with blood. We used a TON of pain mess which did stop her breathing… And I made that decision and would do it again.

    Summarizing hospice using this article is a grave misdeed.

    However, the key point is to see the difference in care between profit and nonprofit hospice… And to note how the free market, especially profit driven care, worsens health.

    1. Cynthia

      Yearning to Learn,

      I have been saying for quite some time now that serious problems will emerge from narcotics being over prescribed to patients with so-called “chronic pain.” I can’t begin to tell you how many times patients, whom I’ve cared for in the hospital, who were rushed to the emergency room from home and put on a ventilator for being over sedated on narcotics. And after they are weaned off the ventilator in the intensive care and transferred to a step-down unit, many times they will call out for stronger narcotics and more frequent doses of them. And because hospitals are reimbursed by how well they meet the needs of their patients, chief among them being their pain needs, doctors and nurses have hardly any other choice but to load them back up on narcotics.

      It seems rather idiotic, to say the least, to load patients up on narcotics when that’s what put them in the hospital in the first place! But unfortunately, this is one of the major pitfalls of having a healthcare system like ours that reimburses hospitals according to patient satisfaction scores. So until we wake up to the fact that we are frequently doing more harm than good by treating hospital patients as though they were hard-to-please customers at a five-star hotel and restaurant, our idiotic healthcare system should shoulder the loin’s share of the blame for turning America into a nation full of deadbeat drug addicts!

      1. ohmyheck

        Agree with everything you say except the “deadbeat drug addict” part. Every brain reacts differently to different chemicals introduced to it. Otherwise EVERY person on the planet who has taken any narcotic, would be as addicted as those you mentioned. If you know anyone who has mental illness personally, you would know that their individual brain chemistry is malfunctioning. Finding a chemical/medication to make their brains function is a difficult search. One chemical that works miracles for this patient, doesn’t do diddly-squat for that patient. You just keep trying to find the one that works.
        Those addicts don’t just choose to be addicts, their brain chemistry does, just like mentally ill patients don’t choose to behave abnormally, it’s their faulty brains.

    2. patricia

      “…Almost NOBODY wants tylenol or ibuprofen or naproxen… They all want flexeril or OxyContin or Vicodin.”

      I agree with most of what you write, YtL, but there are more than a few adults who suffer chronic pain and who’ve tried tylenol/ibuprofen/naproxen to little success.

      You obviously have no idea what it is like to live in chronic pain. I have pain in most of my joints, each one a little whiny voice adding to the others, so that I live with a constantly singing full symphonic choir of distress. I did not go to my doctor until well after trying all OTC’s. So yeah, I wasn’t willing to go another round on them.

      Painkillers allow me a life, allow me to take care of myself and to read/write. You have no idea at all how grateful I am for them! And I am not at all a worst-case.

      People in general don’t like to believe that some among us live their lives in honest-to-God bloody-hell chronic pain. Many prefer to believe that nearly EVERYONE who bring pain complaints are addicts or pansies.

      It reminds me of what was recently done in Florida–testing the unemployed for drugs before they handed out money, only to find that the percentage of addicts was approximately the same as in the general population. Oops!

      Please try to avoid similar bias.

  11. SR6719

    “When I shoot myself, it’ll be the direct result of having seen Sherlock Holmes 2, Mission Impossible 4, War Horse, and Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in quick succession.”
    – Eileen Jones, “A film lover’s suicide”, writing for exiledonline.

    So Spielberg and Hollywood have come out with more mindless crap, just in time for the holidays. Why should anyone care?

    I stopped paying attention after Schindler’s List.

    In “Schindler’s List”, Spielberg Inc. managed to turn Auschwitz into Disneyland, and to help promote the film and boost sales, as part of the overall advertising package, film critics gave it rave reviews.

    In “Schindler’s List”, the Nazis equal the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and Ben Kingsley the Saint is Obi-Wan Kenobi.

    Bad Nazi Jurassic Park Dinosaur: “You wanna buy some death-sticks?” Obi-Wan executes the Jedi Mind Trick. Ben Kingsley/ Obi-Wan the Saint, speaking in hushed tones, with *gravitas*, just to make it real clear that Auschwitz is a serious business and should not be confused with Disneyland: “You don’t wanna to sell me no stinkin’ death sticks”

    The scene of women going naked to the gas chambers is equal to the suspense scene in Jaws, the audience eating their giant popcorn and slurping their big gulps while waiting to see how this Auschwitz/gas chamber/Jaws suspense drama turns out. Will it have a happy ending like E.T.??

    Yes! Just like he did with E.T. and Jaws, Spielberg manages to give Auschwitz a happy ending as well! Hallelujah!

    In Spielberg, Inc’s hands, Auschwitz is really a success story about a few hundred survivors.

    Stanley Kubrick on Schindler’s List, Spielberg and Hollywood:

    Frederic Raphael recalls Kubrick questioning whether a film could truly represent the Holocaust in its entirety. After Raphael mentioned “Schindler’s List,” Kubrick replied: “Think that’s about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn’t it? The Holocaust is about six million people who get killed. “Schindler’s List” is about 600 who don’t. Anything else?”

    Hollywood Spielberg, Inc summarize the Holocaust in 31 seconds:

    1. SR6719

      To put the you tube video in context, the French film-maker Godard once said that “Schindler’s List” was the holocaust as a Max Factor lipstick commercial.

  12. Joseph Browning

    I think there’s a bad link:

    Lure of Chinese Tuition Squeezes Out Asian-American Students Bloomberg

    actually links to

    $6.3tn wiped off markets in 2011 Financial Times

  13. Susan the other

    My first reaction to the Alaska seals is TEPCO. But the location of the seals in northern Alaska and up thru the Bering Straits looks like there might be another culprit besides TEPCO. Maybe not, since TEPCO flushed the Pacific with so much radioactive poison it will eventually ruin all marine life. Already Portland Oregon is registering very high levels of contamination, as well as is the Cascade range. But northern Alasks is curious. Maybe too many Russian and American nuclear subs gone bad. Also this “illness” sounds a little like the white nose fungus killing the bats. Maybe another radiation caused illness. It is all so awful. What the fuck are we doing?

    1. psychohistorian

      Read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson….if memory serves accurately. It is only 40 years or so old but still probably hits the nail on the head better than others still.

      The fundamentalists are working hard to get their end of the world, one way or another.

    2. Anon

      Repeat from previous thread, but why not Tepco? Bering Straits got it right between the eyes, everything you can think of, and then some.

      Read up about the effects of Strontium 89 on human and animal health (known since the 1940s), Neptunium 239, the various radioisotopes of Plutonium (now thought in some quarters to have been released in gaseous form), Tellurium, Xenon, Cobalt 60.

      It’s not just about the Cesium and Iodine fallout that we have been fed official stats on.

      These poor creatures are swimming in a man-made toxic soup, the like of which has never been seen.

      While the Gulf of Mexico spill and its effects on beaches were visible, this is not, and it is far, far more deadly.

      How do we go about remediating the entire Pacific Ocean?

      1. Rex

        I can’t rule out that some radioactivity from the reactors is not part of the pollution effects, but I’m inclined to think the majority of the problem is the flushing of everything on the surface of many miles of Japan into the ocean. Fertilizers, chemicals, oil products and steeping of many tons of debris.

  14. Typing Monkey

    Here’s a story about the insurance industry

    IMO, this story is long overdue, shot on specifics, and not getting nearly as much attention as it deserves. People are rightly focused on the banks going under, but the insurance, reinsurance, and pension fund industries are also at best struggling, and their collapses are going to have very severe effects.

    Just a quick look at the balance sheets of even the “strong” European insurers like Allianz leaves some very worrying impressions (especially if PIIGS debt gets written off). The weaker companies are…well, I doubt that a lot of them will survive to 2013.

    As a side note, it’s pretty funny to go through the fFrench banks, insurers, and debt schedules and then read Sarkozy’s (and Hollande’s) bluster about Germany. Given France’s insanely precarious financial position, you’d think that at least some muted respect would be called for. Instead, those morons keep acting like Germany owes them their welfare state. Just bizarre…

    As a further note, those balance sheets tell you that the EU will obviously start overtly printing money like hell (as opposed to the subtle manner of printing that they are currently resorting to). They might let a couple of countries (eg: Portugal?) go first, but this money printing has got to be the easiest call to make for 2012….Contrary to most press reports, there are no strong “core” EU states (unless you consider Finland to be a core state). They are all running stupid amounts of debts and have structural problems in their countries. And they all think that somehow Germany, with all of its own problems, can bail them out.

    Welcome to Wonderland…

  15. Seal

    re: The Unraveling of MF Global Wall Street Journal
    I’m pretty sure Corzine got eased out of Goldman because he had a large position on in Russina bonds that defaulted. This is not the first time he has made exactly the same bad bet.

  16. kevinearick

    Happy New Year / Salem Witch Trials

    So, a proton is an inelastic / programmed wave/string that will perform the same way nearly every time. It seeks order. A nucleus is a compilation of protons that further reduces disorder/elasticity. Corporation is a Historical nucleus/wave/string. Ascribing individual merit to it gives it more credit than it deserves. Left to its own devices, it will implode every time, until there is no time, due to algebraic reduction. It is inherently reductive, which is why it must be ponzi viral, producing a bang.

    The proprietors have reached the point where they must choose between K-12 robot replication and releasing the prisoners, and bringing home the troops. Do you really think that they do not have a martial law option ready to go?

    If 90% of the prison cells and 99% of the Family Law non-persons are male, by design, in the most expansive system ever built to house non-conformers, who do you expect the system operators to offer up as sacrificial scapegoats, before and after? Why would you expend resources to attack ponzi robots when the system can replicate them faster than you can dismember them?

    You have empire and non-empire input to your community enterprise system, which delivers an output, to an empire enterprise system…at the churn pool (a little more complicated than AD/DA). Remember, the ponzi robots are impulse controlled. They cannot contemplate an original future because they are overwhelmed with the addictive anxiety of recursive History, the positive feedback signals supporting their own event horizon, which sets their limits.

    Relative housing prices will continue to fall until they intersect with rising returns to those willfully excluded, regardless, which is when organic growth will ignite again. Agency shifts the demand/supply curve, incrementally and then quantumly because it may only measure itself.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Actually, I meant to post the following here, not the other thread:
    By the way, this is how I rank gifts (given with love) –

    No. 5: Gifts of money (including billons denoted anonymously)

    No. 4: Gifts of things picked out thoughtfully

    No. 3: Gifts of time/labor.

    No. 2: Gifts of ideas

    No. 1: Gifts of idea seeds (giving with love, of course)

    We are lucky enough we see a lot of free gifts of idea seeds here on this website from many who have posted here, on a daily basis no less, rather than on some contrived, commercial days dictated by greedy corporations.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    In Zen, or at least in our The Way of Tea School, we say, Everyday is a good day.

    With that said, and if I don’t have a chance to post again today, Happy New Year.

    PS: I will welcome the new year later in the evening with stars, moonlight and dew – my quite friends.

  19. SR6719

    “But it must be seen that the term ‘catastrophe’ has this ‘catastrophic’ meaning of the end and annihilation only in a linear vision of accumulation and productive finality that the system imposes on us. Etymologically, the term only signifies the curvature, the winding down to the bottom of a cycle leading to what can be called the ‘horizon of the event,’ to the horizon of meaning, beyond which we cannot go. Beyond it, nothing takes place that has *meaning for us* – but it suffices to exceed this ultimatum of meaning in order that catastrophe itself no longer appear as the last, nihilistic day of reckoning, such as it functions in our current collective fantasy.”
    – Jean Baudrillard

    “In the night air they passed the shells of concrete towers, blockhouses half buried in rubble, giant conduits filled with tyres, overhead causeways crossing broken roads. Travis followed the bomber pilot and the young woman along the faded gravel. They walked across the foundation of a guard-house into the weapons range. The concrete aisles stretched into the darkness across the airfield. In the suburbs of Hell Travis walked in the flaring light of the petrochemical plants.” – J.G. Ballard, “The Atrocity Exhibition”

  20. barrisj

    Right, be fair…do any of you really, really look forward to 20-bloody-12, for God’s sake? Come on, let’s have it…yes, or no?

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