Links 1/3/12

Chimps ‘consider their audience’ BBC

Dead herring mystery for Norway as thousands wash up on beach Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). Ugh.

Disturbing video that shows U.S. soldiers ‘blowing up a dog in Iraq for fun’ (hat tip reader May S)

For Better Grades, Try Bach in the Background Truthout (hat tip reader Aquifer). OMG, first Baby Mozart, now this…

Facebook Responsible for A Third of Divorces in UK? ItProPortal

No Virginia, Tin-Foil Hats Do Not Help…. Cassandra

Ohio Fracking Wells Closed After Earthquakes CNN (hat tip reader Aquifer)

The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See Slate (hat tip reader Carol B)

Homeowner’s parking spot is valued at $300,000 (that’s $70,000 LESS than his luxury condo) Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

The private education dilemma MacroBusiness. This is a really well done short piece. Australians are almost natively critical thinkers. They question things American take for granted. Must come from having their seasons backwards :-)

A fitting end to a disastrous year in Indian politics Riding the Elephant (hat tip reader May S)

The Rain In Spain Falls Mainly On The Journalists, It Seems Edward Hugh

2012 could be the year Germany lets the euro die Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Merkozy’s Dinner for One Ed Harrison

As Tensions Rise, Iraqi Sunnis Flee Mixed Neighborhoods AntiWar (hat tip reader May S)

A New Theory of the Role of the GSEs in the Housing Bubble Adam Levitin

End of the pro-democracy pretense Glenn Greenwald


The Rules on News Coverage Are Clear, but the Police Keep Pushing New York Times (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Gingrich Falters as Negative Ads Dominate Iowa Bloomberg

The Rise of the Tea Party Counterpunch (hat tip reader May S)

Funding gap doubles for US corporate pensions Financial Times

For 2012, Signs Point to Tepid Consumer Spending New York Times

Bridgewater Stays Gloomy for 2012 Wall Street Journal

Global financial fiasco: End of the age of US economic dominance Express Tribune (hat tip reader May S)

The year’s top story is not getting coverage Danny Schechter, Aljazeera

And an important query to those of you in Maryland (please circulate to the like minded in that state as well):

Some close friends and I are on a campaign to get Attorney General Gansler (State of Maryland) to join with Beau Biden and the other courageous AGs who have taken a stand against settlement and immunity for Wall Street.

Jamie Hopkins with Baltimore Sun has written several articles in the last 3 years regarding the foreclosure mess here in MD (not nearly enough of course). Jamie has been, so far, the only reporter to respond to our queries to various area newspapers asking why aren’t they asking the tough questions to our AG’s office about why he hasn’t stood with the consumers of his State and said “no immunity for Wall Street.”

Jamie is motivated to write an article about our campaign and has asked for names and contact info of those who have written letters and/or contacted the Maryland AG’s office as she would like to interview them.

Here’s where I need your help. Would you be willing to ask if there are Maryland NC readers who have contacted the MD AG’s office, to please contact me at Bertram25George (at) FYI I go by the screen name G Man on your site.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. bob

    Re- Fracking Earthquake

    Taken from comments posted after the story in upstate NY. The poster seems to get the pro-fracking ‘talking points’ before most. He also posts immediately after the story is posted, and on nothing but fracking stories.

    “Fearmongering again by the media in an anti-HVHF hit piece. (This is not HVHF – the article spells that out) How are so many led around by the nose? I see John Armbruster and Leonardo Seeber’s studies in Ohio from a story in 2009 about quakes and injection wells but now it has a reason to grab national attention. He also said then, 2009, “operating rock quarries or deep
    oil wells are also likely activities known to trigger earthquakes around the world.” ”

    “People – are you being told lies? The Earth Institute runs Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. See what kind of far left positions they have, then tell me they don’t have an agenda with this story. ”

    “Why do some people post without doing any research? Gullible – particularly when it has nothing to do with HVHF to get NG – this is a “report/opinion” about injection wells and “whatever” goes in them!!!!!!! Think. “

  2. Claire

    About that tepid consumer spending –

    “mortgage delinquencies were about 6 percent at the end of 2011, down a little from a year ago but higher than earlier last year, compared with the prerecession rate of 1.5 to 2 percent.

    “That’s a long way to go to get us back to a steady state,” said Steve Chaouki, group vice president for financial services for TransUnion.”

    “steady state”?– What exactly is that? Sounds like magical thinking.

    Here’s real fruglity:

    Two families, compared

    1. Susan the other

      I wish these articles (here Yahoo/Associated Press) would elaborate more on what the Chinese prefer. It looks like they are putting out brush fires. And they see western thinking as a problem. I think they see a western control over resources as a bigger problem. There doesn’t seem to be any method to the madness these days.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Interesting…aside from launching their communist revolution from an agrarian society, bypassing the urban proletariat, Chinese communism is basically Western thinking.

      Attacking Western thinking would be like attacking themselves, unless they are going back to Taoism, Legalism, Mohism or Confucianism.

  3. Edward Downie

    Owl photo caption: I don’t understand why you’re complaining. Didn’t we renovate New York State Theater for you and build Crystal Bridges in Arkansas?

  4. Praedor

    As for Australia and the question of privatized education, the decrease in literacy and numeracy is a feature, not a bug. The posterchild of privatized education is Chile. Just before US-beloved-murderer Pinochet was finally forced from office, he privatized education in Chile. Even after leftwing leader after leftwing leader after leftwing leader, the Pinochet “Chicago School” despot economic system remains in place with its heavily privatized education system. The result? More poverty, education costs that only the undertaxed rich can afford, the worst literacy and worst bifurcation between the rich and EVERYONE else in all the Latin American countries. This is what neoliberalism IS. It is an entire system devised to create and feed a small plutocracy while turning everyone else into debt slaves in the literal meaning of the term.

    Unless Australia and all other nations playing with this privatization of education (and everything else) mania cut it and go back to what works – free, high-quality PUBLIC education paid for by PUBLIC monies – then all such nations are simply feeding the neoliberal dream of a new feudalism. The New World Order being sought by the neoliberals is a world plutocracy with a relative handful of uber-rich leeches and despots at the top of everything, and everyone else fighting with each other for what splashes out of the toilets of these uber-rich scum. All enforced/protected with high-tech universal surveillance and police state goon squad militarized police (and idiotic laws that labels anyone – ultimatey – who speaks out against it as a “terrorist” to be disappeared into literal and figurative Gitmos).

    1. Sock Puppet

      This is happening across every aspect of life. Everything – our work, housing, finances, retirement, education, entertainment, “news”, health care, elder care, hospice care, water supply, food supply, energy supply, natural resources, recreation, transport, public infrastructure, “security”, communication, and war is being privatized and financialized for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. We have been coopted to such a degree it’s hard to see a way out.

    2. Jim3981

      people are waking up fast, look at Egypt.

      But Western observers say the authorities are becoming increasingly wary of the ever-watchful eye of Washington. And the true purpose of raids is to prove foreign funding of organizations which the authorities accuse of destabilizing Egypt.

      “There seems to be a strand of opinion inside the military and state machine that is very disillusioned with the old friendship with the West, and may be trying to find evidence to prove that some trouble on the streets and Tahrir Square has been in some way fostered by these NGOs,” says Mark Almond, Visiting Associate Professor at Bilkent University.

    1. EH

      The only fracking story that is going to get any traction at all, in opposition to fracking interests, is when the quakes happen away from any previously known fault. The Oklahoma (some say fracking-) quakes last year were along I believe the New Madrid fault, well-known for being the area of the longest-known earthquake (6mos or something crazy). So, I would imagine that if there is a fault or two in Va that the quake can be blamed on, that would be where the story went.

  5. Praedor

    In counterpoint to the idiocy of Australia’s privatizing school craze (and Chile’s defacto proof that privatized education DOESN’T WORK – unless the goal is to create serfs):

    Finland has about the finest education system on the planet. Kids repeatedly score tops in reading, writing, math. What is the secret behind Finland’s schools? There are NO private schools. None.

  6. Dirk

    There are NO private schools in Finland?

    Fine, fill one of our public schools with Finns and watch
    it improve.

    Conversely, send the typical inner city resident to Finnish schools and watch them degrade.

    It’s not the place, it’s not the institutions, it’s the culture that causes the successes and the failures in schools.

  7. Wilber

    Why are the cops and the people in charge of the cops not being sued and put on trial for their authoritarian behavior? Where are all the progressive lawyers? It seems that they can do these horrendous actions and nothing happens to them.

    1. curlydan

      In October 2011, Democracy Now! won a lawsuit against the Minneapolis Police Department’s mistreatment of them at the Republican National Convention in 2008 for the same kind of behavior the NYPD displays now–that’s over 3 years after the incident.

      Yes, lawsuits need to be filed now and may have already been filed, but don’t expect a settlement or a change in behavior soon unless a more aggressive approach is taken and (maybe more importantly) a judge has our backs.

    2. mk

      A police department beats the s*** out of protesters and the fed. gov’t. responds with a reward of more military equipment – tear gas, tasers, tanks, guns, etc. – the beatings will continue, lawsuits or no lawsuits….

    3. Fraud Guy

      This is just another symptom of risk management; it’s costs less to pay later and off headline for abusing rights and protesters than allowing their ideas to have a chance of entering mainstream discourse.

  8. ForYves


    Wondering why you linked to the blogspam on tinfoil hats? To me the link strikes a jarring note on your blog… the content is low quality, for starters.

    But more importantly, if the people complaining about this stuff (attracting catcalls from the socially challenged nerds at MIT, referenced in the blogspam) are mentally ill, are the mentally ill fair game for derision on Naked Capitalism? Or if some of them really are being experimented on by their government, isn’t that even worse?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Considering your comment and link, do you suppose that Dr. John Nash (“A Beautiful Mind”) was a victim of MKUltra? Was the later Nobel Prize conferred not only for Nash’s genius, but as a *consolation prize* for his suffering and silence?

  9. SR6719

    I forced myself to watch the “Disturbing video that shows U.S. soldiers blowing up a dog in Iraq for fun” and then I read the Mark Ames article and the comments, especially the comments on bullying, that followed.

    In an effort to stay on topic, for once, I tried to comment on the dog getting blown up, or on the topic of bullying, but instead my mind kept going back to Michael Haneke’s masterpiece “The White Ribbon”, that I recently saw for the first time.

    There are no easy answers.

    “At the heart of everything is the pastor…… a severe disciplinarian who rules his household with a rod of iron and insists on his family tradition of the “white ribbon” for wrongdoers, symbolising purity. His errant children have to wear the humiliating white ribbon tied around their arm until their father is convinced they are cleansed. The white ribbon could be the ancestor of the Jewish yellow star, or the Nazi armband. Or both. Or neither.”

    In The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke ….”establishes a web of motive, and moreover suggests the ways in which the victims of some punishment could be displacing revenge on to people easier to attack than their actual tormentors. A group of local children, who appear to go around together in unwholesome intimacy like the blond devils in The Village of the Damned, could be the culprits. Yet there are others with grievances……

    This is a place in which secrets can be kept for ever, revealing themselves only indirectly, in sociopathic symptoms. When war arrives in 1914, it is almost a relief: a sweeping away of all these festering resentments – like smashing the window in a stifling sick-room. Haneke is however also suggesting that Germany’s 20th-century wars are merely a continuation of this sickness on a bigger scale, though the link can never be clearly, definitively made. His villagers are convulsed by an enemy within, and although the Baron employs a number of Polish estate workers, there is no quasi-Jewish outsider upon whom the community focuses its fear.

    In the end, there is no solution to the mystery; it could be that history and human agency are unknowable, untreatable, or it could be that the Nazi generation grew up with unexpired resentment and the frustration of not getting a solution – and the director wishes us to hear the malign echoes of that word. This is a profoundly disquieting movie, superbly acted and directed. Its sinister riddle glitters more fiercely each time I watch it.” from a review in the Guardian

    Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon”:

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      “The White Ribbon” clearly indicates how the *neuronal circuitry* of NAZI Storm Troopers and “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” was prepared in Germany then, and here now.

      See: George Lakoff’s “MORAL POLITICS.” Ultraconservatism and Authoritarianism are married–as then, so now. The results of the *pious* use of “the rod” to *teach* children how to be *good* are the same now as then. Assault and battery on children is assault and battery, now matter how it may be varnished for justification of brutality.

  10. tomk

    We had a fish kill about 20 years ago here in downeast Maine. The shores of Frenchman’s bay were paved with pogies (menhaden). It was a mess for several weeks. The official story was that a Russian trawler offshore had chased bluefish closer to shore than usual and they had chased the large schools of pogies into our relatively shallow bay. That combined with extreme heat had suffocated them.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Merzoky’s dinner for one is so boring that the reservation has been changed to ‘Dinner Game’ with honored guests invited from areas around the soft underbelly of Europe.

  12. MarcoPolo

    Hawk Owl. Surnia ulula.  Scandinavia & N. Siberia. I looked it up. 

    The article by Edward Hugh has appeared several places on the net.  Rather than have anybody else suffer through that long-winded article here’s what he misses. 

    Indeed Catalunia didn’t overspend prior to the present crisis. But The other regions, on the whole, didn’t either.  Spain joined the EU with an economy that was very under-developed and at significant disadvantages to the northern economies.  How do you catch up?  Invest.  What does that require? Credit. Who mandates the changes?  The EU.  

    What isn’t said is that Spain, in very large measure at the insistence of Catalunia, is divided into several “autonomous” regions. And Catalunia, where windbag lives, has done much better than say, Andalucia, which windbag complains about.  Good for Catalunia, yes. But the difference is partly a result of history too. Catalunia has long been privately owned. The little that those people had was their own.  Andalucia was much more dependent on aristocratic land holders – foreign capital in today’s terms. 

    And windbag, presumably educated, sufficiently credentialed to have posts appear on the best economics blogs, will not countenance spending Catalan tax money outside of Catalunia.  Taxes raised in Catalunia stay in Catalunia.  Now  if you can imagine this conflict within Spain you just might get a feeling for how completely impossible it is to overcome those same differences between, for example, Greeks and Germans. 

  13. SR6719

    Yes, and another thing that I found very interesting is the film never claims “This is the way it was”. Instead the narrator tells us: “I don’t know if all the details of the story I’m going to tell you are true, a lot of it’s hearsay, etc.”

  14. barrisj

    Re: the Newtster getting buried alive by negative ads…just a preview of the consequences of Citizens United decision for the 2012 election cycle, as “SuperPacs” are being formed daily to raise millions for negative advertising, which is the only point in the exercise, really.
    Candidates own campaign financing goes for “positive messaging”, and SuperPACS take care of blasting shit over the opponent(s). Which is why Ron Paul – regardless of any putative early primary successes – will be destroyed by the financial and military-industrial elites by their underwriting massive negative campaigns against a Paul alternative to Republocrat policies. Say hello to Mitt v Barack come November, and continued reign of the plutocracy.

  15. Foppe

    Yves: Nice sort-of-review of Jobs/Apple/Outsourcing here

    Mike Daisey isn’t concerned with causality, per se; he’s an artist, talking about what it means to be alive today for those buying and those making Apple’s products. In Jobs’s first reign at Apple, they were manufactured at company plants in California. Jobs tormented his underlings by making sure that the factory walls were repainted a certain shade of white. There seemed to be no similar obsession with the insides of current supplier factories. Daisey stood outside the gates of the largest of them, Foxconn’s 450,000-worker factory in Shenzhen, interviewing workers coming off their shifts. Men and women lined up to speak to him, to tell them how they had crippled themselves making Apple products without ever having seen one turned on. Daisey contemplates the nets ringing the eaves of the roof to catch jumpers after an epidemic of suicides at Foxconn became global news. He reminds us that in this age of the locavore and the ethical high-end consumer, there is no better praise than something being handmade. But, grimly, all Apple products are handmade, through the repetitive, numbing, and crushing efficiency of hundreds of thousands of pairs of Chinese hands.

    Apple issues an annual Supplier Responsibility Progress Report. The 2010 report describes audits undertaken by Apple on its suppliers and lists actions taken against some of them, including a factory that used hexane. (They were banned from using it again.) Daisey, however, is not persuaded. He argues that we shouldn’t be, either, because, “I’m not telling you anything that you didn’t on some level already know.” He relates comical and damning stories of Apple suppliers getting tipped off on the timing of the audits (there were only 127 of them in 2010, equivalent to about one for each $513 million in Apple revenue), temporarily replacing child workers with older Potemkin workers as if iPhones were assembled by retirees. He challenges us to call the man who told him that he started working at Foxconn at the age of 12 a liar.

    Jobs seems to have attended the Joseph Stalin Charm School: his world was one of clear good and evil; he was a constant liar, in what came to be known among his underlings as his “reality distortion field”; he was “anti-loyal,” abandoning people he was close to; he used silences and unblinking stares to shame people; he held show trials, bringing employees of a failed project into an auditorium, telling them they should hate each other, and firing the leader on the spot. Thus, when I read about Jobs’s praising China to President Obama, I suspected that Jobs liked outsourcing, not just as a profitable business decision but also on a deeper level. Contemporary China has found a way to combine, for outcomes positive and devastating, some of the most abysmal features of 19th century laissez-faire capitalism and 20th century totalitarian dictatorships. This is a combination that would seem to have felt very comfortable for Steve Jobs, as long as he was in charge. Apple has long been infamous for opposing open access and more collaborative computing cultures. Its hardware and software have always been untouchable, unmodifiable, and manufactured for each other alone.

    1. Foppe

      And from elsewhere in the review:

      I spoke about Chinese outsourcing with a friend who used to run global manufacturing at one of the world’s largest oilfield services companies. “Why China?” I asked. It was not a particular ease of doing business there, he said, contrary to Jobs’s lecture to President Obama. The cultural and logistical barriers are immense. He also didn’t attribute the advantages of manufacturing in China to low salaries per se: shipping costs and the lengthening of supply and inventory lines negate most of the hourly worker salary advantages. What startled him over the first five years of his experience manufacturing in China were other advantages: the sheer volume of potential workers, compared to the difficulty in finding medium-skilled workers like machinists in the United States; the massive availability of an educated supervisory work force, so that one could, for instance, hire a floor superintendent with a PhD in mechanical engineering for a Chinese factory; and the crucial cost advantages of cheap raw materials obtainable from Chinese state-affiliated companies, as a result of Chinese government policies. China’s rise feels like Apple’s rise, in a way: there were always a lot of people and a manipulative state; there were always great designs and innovative technology. But a rapid, head-spinning confluence of factors—none of which seem wholly inevitable—turned the latent advantages of China and Apple into the economy that is the primary source of global growth and the company that is the largest in the world.

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