Links 3/11/12

US readers: Did you move your clocks forward? I did, so I’m turning in early too.

Thrill-seeking German bears snapped hurtling down snowy slopes Metro (hat tip Lambert)

Otter who raised orphaned pups, inspired law dies SF Gate (hat tip reader Dirk77)

Fistfight breaks out at Chicago Symphony Orchestra Associated Press (hat tip Lambert)

Pricing climate change VoxEU

Japan marks disaster anniversary BBC

“Completely and Utterly Fail in an Earthquake” Greg Palast

The real battle in Uganda Foreign Policy (hat tip Lambert). Wow.

Netizens Criticize Extravagance of ‘Two Meetings’ Delegates ChinaSmack. I prefer Lambert’s headline: Hermes, Dior, Louis Vuitton at the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference

Chinese buying up Bordeaux estates Reuters (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Dynasties in democracies: The political side of inequality VoxEU

Employers Need Wind Power Technicians Slashdot (hat tip reader bob)

Deficits Push N.Y. Cities and Counties to Desperation New York Times

NYT Shows the Increasing Role of Luck and Randomness on Its Oped Page Dean Baker

HAWAII SENATE RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO INVESTIGATE CASES WHERE FRAUDULENT TRANSFERS AND ASSIGNMENTS OF MORTGAGE LOAN DOCUMENTS ARE ALLEGED (hat tip reader Deontos). Hah, if the legislature signs this soon enough (unlikely) the state AG can’t sign the mortgage settlement.

Judge orders documents in Overstock case unsealed Salt Lake City Tribune (hat tip Lambert)

Revisiting a $400 Million Tax Break Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times. Fairfax is well known as being thuggish, but it can’t pull those tactics with the IRS. This will be interesting.

The Black Magic of Foreclosure Auctions, Why So Long To Auction? Matt Weidner

When did the US constitution cease to matter? (Oh, and a comment on the alleged New York Madam.) John Hempton. I wish I’d been able to stay in Sydney. I really miss it, and it looks better all the time relative to here.

Antidote du jour (hat tip Richard Smith):

And a bonus (hat tip reader Marc C):

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    1. G3

      I am learning. Anything sensational, just take a deep breadth, wait till the dust settles and then we see capable people outside the lamstream media start connecting the dots for us.

      P.S: Kudos to Yves for being one of the dot connectors.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        I haven’t seen such a hysterical response to a movie since Oliver Stone was a about to release JFK. The obvious disruption of the everyday routine of republican horse race bullshit and missing totally hot blonde coed in depth reporting by the news media can not be discounted.

        Joseph Kony2012 is a brilliant PR stunt, which it seems was the intent of the young men and women behind this effort. It is not a feed the belly swollen children charity, it is an attention getting, media driven effort to make otherwise oblivious young people painfully aware of one the major league pieces of shit currently operating amongst the rest of the human race. In this case, in Africa, home of not 1/10th of the media you would find in Manhattan in any given corner coffee shop.

        I have not spent the time to run to the rescue of the older people, eg, nearly everyone here at NC, to figure out what is going on, but my son, seemed to know more about this and told me about it last week. I think, I can’t remember, trying to read through European Central Bank strategies for Spain and Greece etc. Here is a US Congress Statement from nearly 2 years ago about the piece of shit Kony.

        I don’t know enough about the people who made the short film to denounce them as scumbag white Christian missionaries interfering with internal African politics. That seems to be what the uber radical set seems to lurking behind. The “where is the money really going” crowd is upset that their middleclass sense of propriety may have been asleep at the switch because the daily beast was not hip enough to keep them apprised of the situation of such a world class piece of shit and they had to be made aware by their teenaged video addicted son or facebook sullen daughter.

        Bottom line, the money goes to make the movie and create the PR stunts necessary to gin up world opinion about guy who is less famous than the a French guy who won an Oscar 2 weeks ago for not saying a word out loud in a movie. There are 100 US special forces apparently tasked with hunting him and his roving terror spree comrades. This group does not seek to hold territory, hence they are not in Uganda or any one place for long, since 2006. Every year, the reports indicate that they are still killing and kidnapping and mutilating the faces of young girls, young boys, who happen to not be young Americans accused of murder while have junior year abroad. I am sure that all of the new found publicity will be news to more and more people now that the Kony2012 initiative is underway. It beats following Rick, Newt and Mitt, who are irrelevant anyway.

        1. LucyLulu

          From what I’ve gathered, Reader’s Digest Version:

          Kony is old news. He’s on the run, numbers of children are way down to perhaps hundreds, which is not to say it is not still a tragedy. He’s left Uganda and 100 US military ops are assisting to find and bring him to trial. The video purports to raise money to ensure US doesn’t withdraw its 100 troops, which there has been no talk of. The charitable organization has high overhead expenses. Uganda has moved on and has far more serious problems facing them right now, e.g. Nodding disease, HIV, AIDS, corrupt regime, Ugandans having their land, and means of sustenance, stolen from them.

          1. constant

            Jenny Kleeman and Suemay Oram travel to Uganda to investigate hydrocephalus: a preventable yet misunderstood condition that affects a quarter of a million babies a year in Sub-Saharan Africa.

            They visit Africa’s only paediatric neurosurgery hospital and meet the mothers in a race against time to save their babies’ lives.

            Hydrocephalus – or ‘water on the brain’ – occurs when fluid builds up inside the skull, putting huge pressure on tissues inside, causing brain damage and death. Hydrocephalus has many causes, but in Uganda most cases develop when babies contract infections after being born in unsterile conditions.

            It is more common than deafness or Down’s syndrome worldwide, and easily treated in the developed world. But in Africa, few hydrocephalus babies get medical attention. Without treatment, 90% will die before their second birthday.


  1. Max424

    Wind is the way. The sooner we recognize this fact the better our chances.

    Another valuable tweet from Gregor MacDonald:

    On 1 Jan 2011, global windpower capacity was half of global nuclear capacity. By 31 Dec, it was almost 2/3, and this year it will pass 3/4!

    If the United States had control of its fiat currency, it could choose to build out its wind power base at at a hyper-exponential rate, so that by 2020, all the country’s electrical energy needs would be met by wind power.

    It’s that simple (and that cheap!*).

    As a bonus, We would be employing millions of unemployed Americans. And, if We really wanted to get crazily efficient with Our fiat currency, We could develop a national SmartGrid at the same time, and employ even more millions of Our fellow unemployed Americans.

    None of this could ever happen, of course. The banks would never allow it, for two reasons; one, there would be no profit in public wind, because Our wind would is free. Two, banks couldn’t gamble on it, because They wouldn’t own it, We would.

    Also, let’s face it; the big, bad Koch brothers –and other coal kingpins– would also, never allow it. They would threaten to cut of the non-existent testicles of Senators and Congressmen for even suggesting such a thing, and that would be that.

    *It would cost between 2 and 3 trillion, depending how much –mostly beneficial**– graft and corruption there was; or, about the same amount of money We gave to Morgan Stanley a couple of years back, so that they could then gamble, and/or, lend the money We just lent to them, back to Us at interest.

    **Mostly beneficial because OUR graft and corruption money would be flowing down, and much of it would find its way to the Us, instead of the current direction, where Their graft and corruption money flows up … and then flies right the fuck out of Our country.

    1. René

      Got a link to the windpower story? Sounds almost to good to be true. But yes, wind, solar/thermal, wave and other alternatives are able to provide us with ELECTRIC energy. Which would reduce the amount of coal burnt dramatically!
      It also decentralizes the whole electric power system, which is the main reason why the oligarchy will fight it tooth and nail because they will lose CONTROL over the plebs.

      This morning I met a guy from St. Louis in a bar here in Amsterdam. He was impressed with the trams and trains here and told me that he had sent a mail to the Mayor to discuss. He told me that the tracks of the streetcar system in St. Louis were asphalted over and needed only removing and it would be back in business.

      He was probably a Clusterfuck reader also, he told me that he had moved out of the burbs back into the centre. Kunstler is right, get those streetcars rolling and lay tracks for trains also. Unfortunately, you might have passed the stage of building a high-speed train network.

      1. Max424

        “Got a link to the windpower story? Sounds almost to good to be true.”

        Not yet. MacDonald’s sources are always impeccable, so I have no doubt it’s accurate.

        Fukushima is certainly supplying a small negative in the stat. As a result of the multiple meltdowns at Daiichi, all nukes are now off-line in Japan, and I believe as many as a third are in Germany as well.

        But the big part of the story is probably in China. I haven’t researched ChinaWind Incorporated in about a year, but I know at that point, $300 billion was to be invested in wind power, there, between 2011 and 2014.

        Maybe some of that investment is coming on line. Either way, I’ll look into the exponential wind growth story, wherever it is actually happening, and post again.

    2. Jim

      Max, you want windpower?

      Fine, but only if the price per kilowatt hour is 8 cents and is indexed to a hike in the median wage.

      Otherwise, I’ll continue to see windpower for what it is – a hopelessly uncompetitive energy source which further exacerbates income inequality.

      1. justanotherobserver

        8 cents/kw-hr based on what ?

        are you factoring in the externalities in all of the current energy sources whic you pay for through a degraded environment and tax breaks to energy companies ?

        what a ridiculous statement.

        1. Jim

          What I find ridiculous is that otherwise progressive-minded citizens have no problem with increasing the tax burden (via Cap and Trade / Carbon Tax / 22 cents a kilowatt rate for wind energy) on working class Americans.

          1. Binky Bear

            If the choice is more costly electricity or black lung, asthma, cancer, drought, storm and privation then I for one would prefer the option to pay more for electricity with the option to ration my use carefully then to suffer or force others to suffer the externalities imposed by the fossil fuel industries.
            I can always turn off the lights, turn down the heat,etc. but I can’t wish away an epidemic of lung diseases, cancer, climate change and suffering. That’s the real choice here.

          2. LucyLulu

            Have you factored in the military subsidies our petroleum companies enjoy in order to ensure security in the Middle East? Or the subsidies to the nuclear industry that have historically run 5-6¢/kwh*? Or the hidden healthcare costs borne by residents living within 50 miles of coal-fired plants having been estimated to exceed $200 billion (sorry, don’t have link)?

            * (nice chart on p.2 of report or p.11 of pdf)

            Results of DOE study showing average monthly residential bill would increase by less than 38 cents in transition to renewables:


            Article cites two other studies, by EIA and UCS, that demonstrate actual cost reductions to consumers by switch to 20% renewables by 2020…… not to mention additional jobs created.

            Also, I have previously cited researchers stating the very real possibility of prototype commercial sized generators using fusion technology being hooked to the grid in ~10 years if research is adequately funded, either publicly or privately.

            Like many of our markets, the problem with comparing energy sources is the lack of transparency in determining true prices.

            I read somewhere not long ago that if all subsidies applied to the power plant industries were totaled together, every US citizen could be provided free residential electricity. Whether the assertion can be validated or not, it certainly provides fodder for thought.

    3. craazyman

      you’d need a lot more high voltage transmission lines to get wind power from where the wind blows to load centers. that would get massive pushback from communities along the paths, there’s no economic model that works to build multi-state transmission and it would take forever due to lawsuits, if it ever got built. it’s a 5000 megawatt hairball.

      and smart grid is getting pushback from lots of folks who 1) don’t want to pay for it and like their dumb meters just fine, and 2) think it’s big brother stuff that lets the utility spy on you and take over your house.

      Plus, wind blows mostly at night. and you can’t store electricity, so wind is not a solution by itself.

      you can’t please everybody! :)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The future is in wine.

        Wine, not wind…judging by today’s link to smart money from China.

        Go WINEPOWER!

        1. Mark P.

          Wine power! There you go – makes more sense than windpower, which is mostly a boondoggle.

          Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be delighted if the Germans prove me wrong about this. Moreover, solar is advancing and showing promise, so maybe it’ll scale enough eventually to contribute a substantial segment of the U.S. grid’s power.

          Nevertheless, solar probably won’t be sufficient to provide reliable baseload electricity across the U.S. grid. None of the renewables look capable of that. In the end, there remains one single technology for electrical energy generation that’s carbon-free and proven by decades of use.

  2. dearieme

    Hawaii. Fraudulent documents. A simple amendment to such a resolution could yield entertaining results.

  3. Max424

    Glenn Greenwald at his best.

    There is literally not one single politician of note in Washington, who could be described as “positioned to the left of the far right wing.”

    I’m done with Krugman too. Fuck him and his sellout bullshit. I mean, what is this?

    “…but in word and deed [Obama is] a moderately liberal, slightly interventionist politician whom neither liberals nor, if truth be told, moderate conservatives should find especially alarming.”

    Do liberals and moderate conservative not find it “alarming” that the current President of the United States can disappear US citizens, AT HIS WHIM, at those times when he decides he’s not going to assassinate them instead?

    Forget about the now defunct Constitution, we’re shredding the Magna Carta; and only a man with the Conscience of a Fascist would find this acceptable.

    1. DC Native

      No, it’s okay. Really. The President and government can only do those things in the interest of “national security.” You know, to kill those brown people [and dirty brown sympathizers] who don’t like the fact that our country is bombing their country, killing civilians, and controlling their government from afar.

      National security. Those two words trump every other concern in this day and age. Poverty? Unlawful foreclosure? Inequality? F*** that s***. We have a nation to secure!

    2. Lambert Strether

      The Rs administer the beating, and when the citizen’s helpless on the ground, the Ds administer the paralytic agent. Together, the perps then drag the body off to the Soylent Green processing center, there to collect their commission.

      From the Rs, the jackboot. From the Ds, the muscle relaxant. One hand washes the other!

      That’s what Krugman is doing: Ludes for the career “progressives.” Not “alarming” my sweet Aunt Fanny.

      UPDATE Fixed.

        1. Max424


          And the beauty of it is, it doesn’t matter whether I have a preference for jackboots or muscle relaxants, I’m getting a heavy dose of both, either way.

    3. b.

      This is one of Greenwald’s blind spots, in a way. He cannot bring himself to use the kind of straight assessment he uses on Obama and Holder on the likes of Feingold (just recently) or Kucinich. In a way it illustrates that Greenwald is still a believer in incremental reform from within, which is amazing given that he has clearly identified the “Two Sides of The Same Party” trap of selective democracy.

      The core problem of the current revision of “western democracy” is that it offers us the right to vote, but not voting has no consequence. We cannot un-elect, and we cannot disqualify from election. Alternatives can be modeled, laws can be reformed, but by the time the system has failed, one has to get a corrupt legislature to end corruption. That is the terminal state of democratic dysfunction.

      The Feingolds and Kuchinich’s of the world might bubble up in the system by accident (Kucinich’s accomplishment as mayor in Cleveland, mentioned neither by his detractors nor by Greenwald, but by his commenters) or design (just as someboyd has to be the “villain of the week” as Greenwald describes it, somebody has to be the “lone holdout in Congress”) or a combination of both). But their common denominator is that they have been ineffective, and that they stop talking loudly and clearly when their words might become effective. Maybe, in Kucinich case, there never really was an opportunity to become a threat. In Feingold’s case, I do not see that.

      Greenwald dismisses (in TAP/NR style) in his comments voices that point out that Kucinich didn’t run in the primaries against Obama (Paul, at least, pretends to run against his party). Feingold not only did not run against Obama in the primaries, he is working actively to re-elect him. Neither Feingold nor Kucinich threatened to leave the Democratic party – even Lieberman managed to do that. Kucinich filed articles of impeachment against Bush, he has not done so against Obama. Just like Greenwald, who cannot tolerate criticism of these “holdouts”, both are obviously electing to be part of the system that they vocally criticize.

      Within the flawed concept of determining the popular will by “polling” in the voting booth, there are precious little “choices” left to us. That has two consequences.

      One, it is not a privilege, and not an option, for somebody who claims to be a vocal opponent of whom he calls – though never in so many words – an “enemy of the constitution… domestic”, to run in a primary. There is a case to be made that a primary (or election) with one candidate is on its face undemocratic, and qualifies both the candidate and his supporters. It does not matter that Feingold or Kucinich would not win a primary, it matters that men like them – with the postures they strike – take a stand, one that involves consequence. Kucinich could do this for Cleveland’s Muni Light, but can not possible consider this for the constitution? Because in the absence of a man who voices our objections, the only choices left in the voting booth are to mark an intentional “None of the Above” in the hopes that, one day, we will tally and report a majority of rejection, and to take as much time as we can, to derail a process that has become a cargo cult of representative democracy.

      Two, an electorate that, due to a corrupt system that deprives them of education, information, wage, opportunity, time and resources to participate in the public square, is bound to take “low information” decisions. That means that common sense and rules of thumb have to substitute informed decision in the un-informed citizen. Those that wish to change the system, or at least lay bare that it is in terminal decline, will have a hard time attempting to campaign for one candidate over another. However, even the narrowest information channel will admit simple, compact messages that transcend the individual. “Throw the bums out” is just another way of saying “No to incumbents”. If you are worse off than 4 years ago, if you have not seen any accomplishments – not talks, not press conferences, not initiatives, *results* – then do not elect anybody who held public office before. For one, the comebacks of retread politicians of yesteryear – see California – is one of the indicators that a political system has become so decisively corrupt that it cannot even tolerate new faces of corruption, and is restricting itself to the existing, old network. Assange’s explanation of his motivations had the importance of these networks of corruption at its core. If all incumbent parts of that network are forced to retire on every election that has not brought substantial reform – beginning with the election process itself – then eventually the network will run even out of apprentices.

      So yes, Kucinich, Feingold and their ilk should have run. And no, maybe we should not have elected them anyway. Yes, we should to to vote, but no, we should not vote for the choices offered. If you want to take a stand within the confines of this flawed selective democracy, make yourself counted as a “hanging chad”.

      Kucinich and Feingold are just two examples of a pervasive, toxic culture of cultivated ineffectiveness. Take Barbara Lee, who like Feingold took a post-9/11 “principled stand”. Before the invasion of Iraq, she filed a House Resolution to “Disavow the Doctrine of Preemption”. She re-filed in two more sessions of Congress. Each time – as Democrats gained in the legislature, and in 2006 obtained a majority in the House – the number of co-sponsors shrank, and the gesture became less visible. Once Obama was elected, Lee did not re-file the resolution.

      Obama’s policy declarations on Iran are straight from the Bush Doctrine of preventive war. Has Lee’s objection become less important? Should she acquiesce to a party that, obviously, does not hold her believes? Or should she take a stand, take her case to her voters, and break with the party? Under her oath and legal obligations as an elected representative, is it her responsibility to be re-elected on behalf of her constituents, or is it her responsibility to ask her constituents to support her in fighting against crimes against the constitution?

      Another recurrent thread – also presented by Feingold – is that of the Senator who cannot possibly break with bylaws and procedures – or even the law – and disclose secret information regarding law breaking by the executive and collusion by the legislature. This has been particularly galling in the case of the “Gang of 8”, who are effectively volunteering to pre-empt congressional oversight by becoming a “secret legislature”, a “star chamber of law” that rubber-stamps the executive’s secret transgressions, or notes secret objections (Harman, torture). Who, if not a US Senator, financially and legally immune and indemnified against any and all life-ending repercussions that every single “common whistleblower faces, can take a stand and take the secrets of executive lawbreaking to the public? During the Vietnam war, there was a Mike Gravel to complement Ellsberg. In the last decade, there has not been a single politician that could measure up to Gravel, and the important precedent he attempted to create has been eroded by the pliant bureaucrats of the Feingold mold that cannot possibly break the rules to uphold the law.

      For all his insight when it comes to the play, Greenwald clearly does not understand the players. There is not even consistency within the set – if Kucinich is ineffectual because he did not trade one principle for another, what does that mean for Feingold’s accomplishments? Or is Feingold just a better dressed, more eloquent Senate version of the Kucinich brand of principled ineffectiveness and ineffective principles?

      And what does it tell us about the system if the only voiced dissent from within Congress appears to come from the ineffectual? Is there nobody who makes raises the principled objections that Paul and Kucinich raise, and yet has at least the common blandness of a Feingold to offer? And if there is no such voice, what does it say about the effectiveness of “progressive” opposition, and/or the selective democracy at work?

      I have brought up the Principle of Voluntary Association before. Nobody who is willing to join a Bush or Obama administration can possibly be a principled person. By their associations, sponsors, financing know them. Obama was proposed by Daschle, endorsed by Kerry, mentored by Lieberman, and financed by the young money on Wall Street. Everything else – starting with FISA immunity, TARP support follows as a matter of course. At this point, the question is whether joining the democratic party – or the repug – by itself is enough of a tell. Unlike Greenwald, I cannot regret the retirement of politicians who, against their will or willingly, became part of the problem. They had their opportunity, and they indeed leave a gap that will replace them in full.

      None of the Above. No to incumbents. No to democrats and republican candidates. No. It is the only choice that makes sense at a time like this. Occupy the Booth.

      1. JTFaraday

        Well, but according to the NY Times, it’s not about the Constitution, or principles or corruption, or any of that high minded crap. According to the NYT, it is about pork:

        ““Dennis has this remarkable ability to persist,” said Dennis E. Eckart, a former Democratic congressman from Cleveland. “He will not go quietly into the good night.”

        Ms. Kaptur is one of the longest-serving women in the House and has a powerful position as the No. 2 Democrat on the House appropriations committee. She stands to become the top Democrat on that committee when Norm Dicks of Washington retires.

        One of the most common criticisms of Mr. Kucinich by local elected officials was that he focused more on national issues than local ones, and Mr. Eckart said that people in the district expected that to change with Ms. Kaptur, who was seen as a powerful advocate for her constituents.

        “She is famously well connected on appropriations, and it will be worth tens of millions of dollars in a community that was once ranked as one of the poorest in the nation,” Mr. Eckart said. “Having someone like her going to bat for you is an advantage.””

  4. Tertium Squid

    I know more than a little bit about Overstock. Their big boss Byrne is a piece of work. His company is sliding into oblivion while he’s obsessed with windmill tilting.

    In my opinion he is genuinely crazy and kind of evil, but his odium towards GS and the TBTF’s is sincere and hopefully some good will come of it.

  5. Cal

    Forget Japan, that’s over. The land and the sea are polluted and the cancers have begun. They lost their Faustian bet. What we have to worry about are the four nuclear reactors on the California coast. Two at Diablo Canyon, just upwind from San Luis Obispo and the California State University there and two at San Onofre, upwind of San Diego County.

    There is a recently discovered earthquake fault near Diablo Canyon. More alarming is the track record of the operator of the plant. Pacific Gas and Electric. (PG&E).

    This Wall Street owned cash cow has lied, lost records, obfuscated and done everything in their power to not have to admit that they do not know what they are doing when it comes to their high-pressure gas pipelines. One of these exploded in Sacramento killing a few animals and a human. Another incinerated an entire neighborhood in San Bruno and killed at least 18 people. When Diablo Canyon was being built the detail oriented engineers at Pacific Gas and Electric somehow printed the blueprints backwards and thus the plant seismic work was done backwards.

    The company in spite of having little money for maintenance of its facilities was able to spend 16 million dollars on a failed state ballot proposition to prevent municipalities from breaking away and forming their own power districts.

    They have spent hundreds of millions to install smart meters on every gas and electric meter in their service area so as to sell personal data about power usage to marketers and be able to fire human meter readers. 80,000 customers have refused to allow these on their homes for health and privacy reasons.

    Californians need to create a public power agency to take over PG&E, shut down the nukes at San Luis Obispo and like the successful example of Los Angles, Sacramento and other municipalities, run utilities as public utilities with profits being invested back into infrastructure.

    1. RonALD

      We prefer MAD magazine which Cracked is just a low brow
      copy and immitator of. Been there done that. Alfred E. Neuman was replaced with the Cracked boy in his Dutch Boy Paints white overalls way back in the 1960s.

  6. Brent Musburger (news anchor)

    Breaking News! This Just In!

    Joseph Kony supports same sex marriage, and will be releasing a video where he asks viewers to “support marriage equality”.

    Joseph Kony, indicted by the International Criminal Court on 33 charges, including crimes against humanity and war crimes, responsible for the abduction of thousands of children, many of whom have been forced to fight in Kony’s campaign of murder, rape and sexual slavery, etc, …. has hired Public Strategies (a Texas-based PR firm run by former Bush aide Dan Bartlett, and the same PR firm that handles Goldman Sachs’ public relations) to counter the negative publicity generated by “Joseph Kony 2012” a video seen by over 70 million viewers.

    Following the lead of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein (who released a video several days ago supporting same sex marriage) Joseph Kony said that he was “inspired by Lloyd Blankfein’s example” and will also be asking viewers to join him in supporting same sex marriage, not only because “it’s good for business, but because it’s the right thing to do”.

    While a handful of embittered critics are accusing Kony of a double standard (the same ones who cynically accused Lloyd Blankfein of hypocrisy), the majority of the US media has been quick to point out that it took enormous courage for Kony to release this video, especially at this time, as supporting gay marriage is not going to do anything to increase his popularity in Uganda.

    1. Lloyd C. Bankster

      I’m just glad it’s “Kony 2012” that’s going viral and not “Blankfein 2012”.

      What better way to distract the rubes: instead of lynch mobs coming to Wall Street, send them to Uganda.

  7. LucyLulu

    Having grown up in alligator country, I recommend nobody try this at home. Obviously filmed by area transplants, the natives know better. I watched the video in horror. Despite usually moving about rather sluggishly, don’t be fooled. When sufficiently motivated, alligators can propel themselves across land very quickly. Both the feline and human were fortunate to have escaped without injury. Never get this close to an alligator (unless you are trained to handle alligators).

    1. CB

      I was going to register outrage that anyone would find this amusing, but an earlier livestream of an Occupy ga had emptied my outrage tank. Glad you put in a sensible word. That gator was sizing up his next meal and the only thing between the cat and single gulp death was the easier chicken scraps. I’ve seen film of a gator ambushing an otter, a male otter showing off for a female and literally swimming into the gator’s open mouth. Quite a sight, and not remotely funny.

  8. skippy

    CSIRO scientists say invisible toxic pollutants are fouling the atmosphere, even in the world’s cleanest air at a monitoring station in far north-west Tasmania.

    The category of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) includes DDT, pesticides and dioxins, and as the name suggests they do not dissipate easily.

    They are being detected even at Cape Grim station, in far north-west Tasmania, one of the most important research sites for the pollutants in the world.

    Skkippy… jogging or biking next to roads!

  9. barrisj

    Meanwhile, another despatch from the front:

    Sixteen Afghan civilians killed in rogue U.S. attack
    (Reuters) – Sixteen Afghan civilians, including nine children, were shot dead in what witnesses described as a nighttime massacre on Sunday near a U.S. base in southern Afghanistan, and one U.S. soldier was in custody.

    While U.S. officials rushed to draw a line between the rogue shooting and the ongoing efforts of a U.S. force of around 90,000, the incident is sure to further inflame Afghan anger triggered when U.S. soldiers burned copies of the Koran at a NATO base.

    U.S. officials said an American staff sergeant from a unit based in Washington state was in custody after the attack on villagers in three houses. Multiple civilians were also wounded, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition said

    But wait, there may be more to the story(credit to Moon of Alabama for update):

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, March 11 (Reuters) – Western forces shot dead 16 civilians including nine children in southern Kandahar province on Sunday, Afghan officials said, in a rampage that witnesses said was carried out by American soldiers who were laughing and appeared drunk.

    One Afghan father who said his children were killed in the shooting spree accused soldiers of later burning the bodies.

    Witnesses told Reuters they saw a group of U.S. soldiers arrive at their village in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district at around 2 am, enter homes and open fire.

    Haji Samad said 11 of his relatives were killed in one house, including his children. Pictures showed blood-splattered walls where the children were killed.

    “They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” a weeping Samad told Reuters at the scene.

    “I saw that all 11 of my relatives were killed, including my children and grandchildren,” said Samad, who had left the home a day earlier.

    Neighbours said they awoke to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, whom they described as laughing and drunk.

    “They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said neighbour Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where the incident took place. “Their bodies were riddled with bullets.”

    Karzai complains, US/Nato apologises, Obama promises “full enquiry”, and ultimately a military court-martial will – maybe – give the perps a reduction-in-rank and 30days in the stockade. And the beat goes on.

    1. LucyLulu

      It’s amazing we haven’t yet been invaded by foreign troops.

      We need to get the hell out of there yesterday. This shows just how messed up doing multiple tours is making these kids. So much for the argument that kids these days aren’t willing to take a crappy job rather than have no job at all.

    2. LucyLulu

      “maybe – give the perps a reduction-in-rank and 30days in the stockade.”

      My recollection from returning Vietnam vets is that the type of attitude displayed by these soldiers isn’t particularly unusual in combat situations. I vividly recall my horror when a boss for whom I had great admiration was describing to me how he and his cohorts would ride in the choppers and shoot off civilians as if they were “hunting rabbits” (his expression). He was there as the treating veterinarian for the military K-9’s, not in a combat capacity, so it was strictly a recreational activity. He didn’t express any remorse or seem to think that this was unusual behavior. To meet him, you could never imagine it. He worked in a small animal practice, popular with clients, good-hearted, had a very nice wife, and unlike so many returning vets I would later encounter, seemed to be well-grounded. I had been there over a year at the time he told me the story and frequently we teamed together so I thought I knew him pretty well (and it was the only time I heard him talk about Vietnam…….. though at 17 and thoroughly traumatized, I sure as hell wasn’t going to bring the subject up again). He was my favorite of the four docs in the practice. I never could make sense of the disconnect.

      War is hell. I leave it to those who have fought in battle to pass any judgements, as I doubt the rest of us can even begin to imagine what is required to cope with the horrors experienced.

      1. Rex

        I did the walking tour in Vietnam in 1968-69. I can attest that I was close to some bad things happening and heard stories that were discomforting.

        I also can say that my company did what we had to do and never more. Personally, I remember one day when I could have shot a guy in black pajamas who ran through a field as we approached. I chose to shoot in front of him rather than at him, and he wisely stopped running. We then checked his documentation which was unintelligible scribbles to us and let him go.

        Not sure if he was “the enemy” or not, but I am proud today that I didn’t kill him when I could have.

        I don’t doubt the story that you heard and don’t doubt that it may be true. Young people thrust into wars are capable of doing horrible things. We’ve all heard about things done by young Germans in WWII. From what I heard in Vietnam, some of the random acts seemed to be more associated with those that didn’t have their own lives on the line daily; more the rear echelon or up-in-the-sky guys.

        Many of us tried to do no more than we had to. I would hope it is mostly the same in the senseless wars we are prosecuting now. Better choice — don’t send our young people into these situations unless there is a real and imminent threat that we need to deal with. Put weapons in their hands and give them a militaristic structure and a few will do some horrible things.

        Folks like the neocons that gave us the last ten years of war seem to view it as some kind of chess game. Fools like Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush never carried a weapon in a harsh environment and the rest of America seems immune to lessons we should have learned within my lifetime.

  10. JCC

    This is my favorite today, an open letter from James Koutoulas to Jamie Dimon:

    “Through my role as the co-founder of the Commodity Customer Coalition and pro bono counsel for some 8,000+ customers whose property it looks like your institution may be holding without their consent, I have loudly advocated for JPMorgan Chase to return this property. In response to this, rather than doing the right thing, you closed all of my personal and corporate bank accounts and my personal credit card. I have been told by multiple members of the media that JPMorgan Chase has called them and stated that if their media outlet has me on television again, that JPMorgan Chase will pull their advertising from the offending network.”

    — James Koutoulas

    1. Sundog

      Americans Elect’s executive director, Khalil Byrd, told BuzzFeed that the group’s “core budget” for 2012 is $40 million.

      “Our aspiration as an organization is to have the American people take this over…also in terms of its financing,” he said.

      Byrd also advised a reporter not to “get weedy” about the new rule, and said repeatedly, in response to questions about the new threshold, that the organization is “fully financed” and “transparent.”

      “We don’t talk about how we’re financing things,” he said. “We just want to make sure that people understand our aspiration.”

      The new 20% threshold drew a round of objections from the group’s internal and external critics, who cast it as a move to raise the share of contributions from shadowy oligarchs from $10,000 to 20%.

      But the group’s real issue may be the opposite: It’s now fundraising entirely to repay the rich, a pitch which, if it’s made clear, will likely mean that it’s not doing any fundraising at all.

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