Links 3/24/12

The New York Times Goes to the Dogs Columbia Journalism Review

Putting ‘pink slime’ to taste test (Albany) Times Union (hat tip Lambert)

Rethinking Recycling New York Times

Natural Gas Wells Proliferation Poisoning Children’s Air, Research Suggests Huffington Post

T-Mobile USA Web Guard Open Observatory of Network Interference

Now U.S. Intelligence can keep tabs on innocent Americans even if they DON’T have terror links Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S). Money quote: “The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

Banks urged to raise fresh capital Telegraph. Note the contrast with the US.

The ECB swallowed the market Golem XIV. An important read.

Conflict Kitchen Reaching Hearts & Minds Through The Stomach Eli, Firedoglake (hat tip reader Carol B)

US nominates Jim Kim for World Bank Financial Times

Breaking Glass Ceiling Against Compassionate Expertise, Obama Taps Jim Yong Kim to Lead World Bank Huffington Post

Republican Base Slowly Moves to Support Romney Jon Walker, Firedoglake

Trayvon Martin and the End of Excuses Esquire (hat tip Lambert). An important rant.

130 arrested in Vermont Yankee protest Associated Press (hat tip reader martha r)

JPMorgan Sued by Trader Over $3 Million Decimal Point Bloomberg

Trading Firm IPO Fizzles in Seconds— Wall Street Journal

Wells Fargo Should Be Forced to Meet Subpoenas, SEC Says Bloomberg

KB Home Orders Fall 8% Wall Street Journal

Corzine Gave ‘Direct Instructions’ To Transfer $200 Million From Customers to JPM London Jesse

Ex-Goldman Worker Said to Seek Book Deal New York Times

Too Old to Get Hired, Too Young to Retire Bloomberg

The economy as machine MacroBusiness

Science on the Rampage New York Review of Books

Antidote du jour:

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    1. Lambert Strether

      “Major emerging market economies will look closer at creating a joint development bank to coordinate their financial power as the world economy falters, Brazilian Trade Minister Fernando Pimentel said on Friday.

      Development banks of the so-called BRICS group of emerging economies plan to ink memorandums of understanding next week in India to work on the creation of a multilateral bank that could finance investments in those nations and abroad, Pimentel said.”

    2. psychohistorian

      It sounds like the end of the US dollar as the Reserve Currency just got a little closer.

      Nationalize the Fed and we could get the same benefits.

      1. Jim

        I really wish that those who posit the demise of the US dollar as the reserve currency would begin to put forth alternatives.

        The Yuan? It may be forced to devalue within months, lest growth concerns lead to political instability.

        The Euro? Smart people without a vested interest in the Eurozone believe it has at best 18 months.

        The Yen? Perhaps. The market size of its debt is just above 4.3T dollars, so it’s liquid and deep. But it’s GDP/debt is 2x that of the US.

        Australian / Canadian dollars? Far, Far, too small. Just imagine the price movements when big chunks are sold/bought.

        That leaves the US Dollar.

        1. scraping_by

          How about, no reserve currency at all. All international transactions negotiated on bilateral basis.

          Or, gold, for the traditionalists.

          Or, barter, with a little bit of currency to fill out the corners.

          Or, only trivial international trade, with most goods and services being local (national).

          Reserve currency is only important to globalization and other artificial constructs. While one worlders are supposed to be scientific and sophisticated, a hard look sees a handful of operators and a lot of people jumping through hoops.

        2. psychohistorian

          Do you understand the term faith based currency. The US dollar is a faith based PRIVATE currency.

          Your tilting at other currencies shows just how bankrupt the fascist conversation about alternatives to PRIVATE money really are.

          Since the Fed creates money for the benefit of the rich why can’t governments create money for the benefit of the public? What a concept. WHOOOOCOOOODAAANODE

  1. craazyman

    Why does Golem XIV think he knows better than Hollywood what it’s like to pass a black hole event horizon?

    It’s because he thinks he’s better at channeling and realizes you have to take some liberties making movies. Two reasons, really. I’m sure he’d admit he’s never actually passed through an event horizon and is just making it up, out of is imagination, thinking he’s being more responsibly accurate than Hollywood. But it’s still his imagination.

    He may be right. But frankly, he doesn’t know and nobody knows. It makes me wonder what else he doesn’t know.

    However, he is very persuasive. And I tend to think SKF will skyrocket. I hope he tells us when to buy. haha.

        1. just me

          I have Tron on beta videotape. I’m soooooo close…

          But in terms of “The ECB swallowed the market” black hole? That’s Star Trek, The Trouble with Tribbles, where the exploding population of tribbles (“The nearest thing I can figure out is that they’re born pregnant”) died of starvation by eating themselves to death — Klingons had poisoned the grain they ate and made it nutritionless. The more the tribbles ate, the more they starved.

          Like toxic debt in the Fed, Bank of Japan and ECB.

    1. Thomas M McGovern

      Re: “The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

      I could not find the quote in the news article; please tell me where it is if you know.

  2. Jim Haygood

    “The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

    Uh huh. This is a standard rhetorical formula, which we’ll likely still be reading when we’re all equipped with embedded GPS chips and breathalyzers.

    In my teens, I read a science fiction story which addressed a central conundrum of time travel — that intervention in the past seemingly would change the present — as well as the problem of objective observation. A group of scientists are gathered, running a repeated experiment with their time machine. From the objective narrator’s point of view, each repetition brings increasingly radical changes in the scene.

    With the final iteration, an alien being with pod eyes and a body of purple slime proudly announces in an all-consonant language of clicks and implosives, ‘See? Nothing has changed!’

    And those who gave us the USA Patriot Act, the FISA Amendments Act, and the National Defense Authorization Act assure us, ‘See? Nothing has changed!’ But like the purple-slime creatures of the science fiction story, we ourselves seem to have morphed beyond recognition.

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Excellent point. We are being conditioned for our future.

      Those two aliens on the Simpsons?

      They actually may indeed be our leaders.

      Idiocracy? We’re going to think it was super prescient when we start getting our degrees from Starbucks.

      There is also a component of fear involved. Being a “turnkey away” from having our masters beat us to death makes us do what they want. The Democrats are great at this (and I’ve recently recognized Chris Hedges as a master of this). They warn of impending doom and talk in stark measures (“the Republicans want to take Social Security away” “Obama wants to impose death panels”) and then proceed to make that a reality.

      It’s like a killer telling you he is going to kill you. It paralyzes the victim and makes it easier for the killer to do his deed.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        I meant to include a bit about how the Republicans and Democrats both engage in frightening rhetoric . . . but the Republicans usually play the bad cop role and the Democrats exaggerate the badness of the bad cop . . .

        “those Republicans are so insane and out of control they will eat babies unless us good cop Democrats stop them.”

        Then when the Democrats come into office they propose eating babies . . . . to help the children and for feminism.

  3. Jim Haygood

    From a paper by Weisbrot et al, quoted in an Oct. 23, 2011 NC post titled ‘The Verboten Story of Argentina’s Post-Default Economic Success’:

    Argentina’s success suggests that [foreign] capital inflows are not necessarily as essential as is commonly believed.

    Ironically, this post coincided with new capital controls introduced by president Christina Fernandez Kircher after her re-election last October. To buy dollars, Argentines now need to demonstrate that the income is from legitimate sources, and then await permission. Free-lancers are effectively barred from buying dollars at the official rate, although a grey market of gold dealers sells dollars at more than a 10% premium to the official rate.

    But still the capital flight continues, so now it’s come to this:

    Restrictions on the entry of imported goods now extend to books, magazines and all printed materials, from brochures to corrugated boxes and labels.

    Publishers or booksellers shipping by courier now must use the services of a Customs broker, deal with the now notorious Affidavit of Anticipated Import, and wait for permission to just order the purchase or importation of [printed] material, as decreed by the Ministry of Domestic Trade. [Trade minister] Guillermo Moreno is slowing down Customs clearance of a broad universe of imported goods, concerned about capital flight. In this case, he reached for a technical requirement.

    The official aim is to protect the “security of the people” through “control mechanisms to eliminate the dangers arising from use of inks with high levels of lead in graphics products,” as identified by resolution 453/2010. This rule requires certifying that the inks used in printing products do not contain “more than 0.06% lead.”

    Lead in ink was eliminated from U.S. books and magazines by 1985, so the public-safety rationale is of course ridiculous. Nor is suppression of free expression the apparent goal — expats can still have their Amazon book orders sent to them by the creaky old Correo Argentino.

    More pertinent is that the Argentine Congress just passed a law releasing the central bank from the prudential obligation of holding one dollar in reserves against every peso issued, and allowing central bank reserves to commandeered for debt payments.

    When the dirigiste Kirchner regime absurdly declared that these imprudent measures were ‘to protect the value of the currency,’ Argentines got the message loud and clear: flee the peso while you still can!

    1. Antipodeus

      Hmmm … I was wondering why she was stupid enough to start rattling her rusty sabre and stoking up the rhetoric about “Las Malvinas!!”. Now we know.

    2. Jim

      Yet, since Argentina left the dollar, it’s boomed more than any other Latam nation. Why not compare Argentina with Mexico, the paragon of free-market capitalism, with no capital controls, no tax on dividends or capital gains, and no tax on estates.

      Mexico has grown 0.5%, GDP/Capita, for the last 30 years, being more capitalist, policy-wise, than any other country in Latin America.

      And if so many Argentines are opposed to Kirchner, how did she pull off such an overwhelming victory a few months ago.

  4. Brent Musburger, Jr

    Re: The New York Times Goes to the Dogs

    Breaking News! This Just In!

    The NY Times is reporting that Jon Corzine’s Shih Tzu has a 52 inch Plasma TV instead of the 57 inch!

    Hot off the Wire, the NY Times is reporting that Buffy (Jon Corzine’s Shih Tzu) only has a 52 inch Plasma TV instead of the 57 inch.

    However, according to Jill Abramson (executive editor of the New York Times) we shouldn’t be too distressed by this because at least Buffy doesn’t have to sacrifice the temperature controlled spa or self cleaning food bowls. Also her super dog house features a retina scan entry to keep out neighborhood mutts. And Jon can monitor his favorite pooch via webcam, thus making sure his assistant uses Kiehl’s Cuddly Coat Grooming Shampoo (which leaves Buffy’s skin clean with a light and refreshing lavender scent), followed by Kiehl’s Cuddly-Coat Conditioning Rinse…..

    Story developing…..

    1. Amazing Dog Trainer

      Really hot off the wire, the NYT reports that in an exclusive interview with Jon tommorow, Jon reveals that Buffy has a computer and knows how to send e-mail too!

    2. Maximilien

      Feature story in tomorrow’s Times (print edition only):

      Why Nine Out Of Ten Puppies Prefer The Times For Paper-Training

      Available soon at a news-stand near you—and your puppy.

  5. The Food Channel

    Don’t they know that Pink Slime is deflationary and now the Federal Reserve will need to print Green Slime to combat it?

  6. walt

    That last link, Science on the Rampage, is a book review by Freeman Dyson, who, as far as I can tell, is the last theoretical physicist who had direct contact with some of the greats of the early 20th century. In the last paragraphs he gives a deserved put-down to string theory.

    1. tom allen

      Or, more aptly, Silly-String theory.

      The most entertaining part of theoretical physics is the pi fights. :-P

      1. craazyman

        there’s an average of 3.1415927 of them per year, but the physicists know it’s not rational behavior

        never mind.

        when they eventually realize the multi-verse is composed of interlocking circulons composed of vibrating strings they won’t be laughing any more. they’ll be too stunned to even say a word. :)

  7. Bill

    About recycling, the absolute fraud that’s out there is the myth and even the use of styrofoam. This crap is outdated, can be replaced with many other innoucous products such as corrugated paper, is a magnet for toxins, is toxic, breaks
    up into little particles that animals eat and chokes waterways.

  8. EmilianoZ

    The NYT becoming dog-centric and NC being an old bastion of cat-centrism, that’s the perfect confrontation. Go cats!

  9. Susan the other

    GolemXIV. The EZ hasn’t yet finalized its event horizon. As soon as they have a taxpaying union they will never escape. And until then they are stuck in a Lagrangian limbo where politics cancels out traditional responsibility.

  10. barrisj

    Re: NSA domestic spying – James Bamford, who has done heroic reporting on the Surveillance State, and has written several seminal expositions of NSA (Shadow Factory, 2009; Body of Secrets, 2002; Puzzle Palace, 1983), recently had a powerful article published online on the Wired blog detailing the unprecedented expansion of NSA, and the extent of its hoovering up of EVERYTHING that passes across electronic carrier bands. It’s not just the enormous data collection capability of NSA and its cooperators amongst the major telecoms and ISPs, but NSA’s storage/retrieval reservoirs, in the form of huge server farms. NOTHING escapes this panoptic Leviathan, and those who invest themselves with the latest in encryption software for their electronic communications, and feel that they are somehow “immune” to spying by the government, well, NSA is throwing everything from brute-force to sophisticated software in defeating all manners of encrypted messaging. It is absolutely impossible to understate the potential for wholesale abuse by a malevolent government who first promotes “fear of the Other”, thence violates citizen privacy in the name of “protecting our country”. And the worst thing about all this is that NSA will go pedal-to-the-metal until told to stop (a particular activity), as there is seemingly NO constructive or meaningful oversight of its operations, and it is becoming virtually a nonstarter to proscribe NSA spying activities, as so much of its work is “classified”, and, as a consequence, unconstitutional actions go unnoticed for years, if not forever. And this massive, intrusive expansion carries forward of its own momentum, regardless of who nominally is “in charge”, as any president and any Congress simply lets NSA get on with it, no questions asked.

    I have copied Bamford’s Wired article to my hard-drive, and anyone who still values his or her freedom of expression is urged to do the same.

    The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)
    Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

    Sorry if this is redundant, but I find it really disturbing that Bamford’s article in Wired hasn’t gotten more play – i mean, are people THAT complacent?

    1. Walter Wit Man

      Good comment.

      People now accept government spying. It’s always been “joked” about and most people assumed this to be the case, like 10 years ago. Now we know for sure.

      There was an unstated truce for a while where it looked like the fascists could be stopped and they were not coming out and admitting to the full extend of their usurpation of power.

      But Obama and the Democrats fixed that. They have now normalized massive government violations.

      Look. Over there! A terrorist (funded and directed by the FBI).

    2. K Ackermann

      And the pretense of sucking up all that data to counter terrorism is ridiculous. They know perfectly well there are methods of secret communication perfectly suited for terrorism that they have no chance of detecting.

      “For free: beautiful purple crushed velvet sofa in Walla Walla Washington. Hardly smells of vomit.”

  11. KFritz

    Re: NYT goes to the Dogs

    The departure of Bob Herbert as Op-ed columnist is of a piece with Ms. Abramson’s even greater shift toward gentrification. Herbert was the only long-time blue collar reporter among the peacocks of the Op page. He wrote about the little people without any blinding intellectual insights, but with a sense of empathy and, when called for, indignation. To the last day of his tenure.

    This is not to deride the real and excellent reporting done by Nicholas Kristof.

  12. tesla

    it is telling that ows is orotesting against police brutality when corzine was caught in the act. Ows has zilch left in its bag. Its predictable where ows is headed to the dustbin of leftist dissident movements.

    I hear they changing tgeir name to occupy (name of place ) instead of ows because they realize they are not interested in taking a focussed aporoach towards wall street. Typical…just like globbal warming rebranded itself climate change in pursuit of soliciting do.ations and political influence for its own sake

    If ows doesnt take up corzine as an issue im going to officialky be against the movement. Yves what say you?

  13. K Ackermann

    I really enjoyed that book review by Freeman Dyson.

    It sure is weird how a guy who makes vacuum cleaners knows so many famous people ;-) He used to drive Dick Feynman around. I wonder if he sold him a vacuum.

    1. Glenn Condell

      ‘It sure is weird how a guy who makes vacuum cleaners knows so many famous people ;-) He used to drive Dick Feynman around. I wonder if he sold him a vacuum.’

      They are damn good vacuum cleaners, built upon sound maths and physics. If you are unlucky enough to be a bug on a rug being hoovered up by one of these machines you will know better than Golem OR Hollywood what it’s like to pass through an event horizon. But not for long.

      Dyson is a funny one to be looking down his not inconsiderable schnoz at pseudo-scientists, or even real ones who have a weakness for scientifically-unsubstantiated dogma. He is after all one of the most notable climate change sceptics we have, waging a polite fight with Nordhaus and McKibben in the pages of the NY Review. Hitchens would have called his position ‘objectively supporting Saddam Hussein’, or rather Charles Koch and his stable of rent-a-study academics-on-the-make.

      Perhaps he ingested rather too much of Feynman’s dictum of doubt as the engine of science while he was driving him around.

      Freeman’s son George writes (as Freeman does) for John Brockman’s Edge, and penned for me one of the most important of the original deconstructive texts in the wake of the GFC, marrying an explanation of the birth of ‘stocks’ and tallies’ in the early medieval British exchequer with the early 20thC insights into the declining returns on ‘autocatalytic’ complexity of John von Neumann.

    1. psychohistorian

      Well there you go then. Nothing to see here, move on now.

      I think maybe his fingers came together……….

  14. skippy

    Sign post to the apocalypse.

    The mining magnate Palmer made bizarre claims the CIA is backing green groups in a bid to kill the Australian coal mining industry. He claimed it is to make the Queensland coal industry more competitive.

    The mining magnate Palmer made bizarre claims the CIA is backing green groups in a bid to kill the Australian coal mining industry. He claimed it is to make the Queensland coal industry more competitive.

    Mr Hutton (greens*) told The Australian he had been approached with numerous offers of financial support to launch a defamation case against Mr Palmer.

    Read more:

    Skip here… As of yesterdays Queensland election results, landslide victory to the NLP National Liberal Party (countryside Rep. usa equivalence), Clive is our de facto billionaire Queensland Patriarch.

    Skippy… Greens party = CIA = Rothschild = big daddy is fooked in the head and were……. doomed.

    PS. will mathbabe do some numbers on the total world pop of billionaires, insanity as a metric of removed-ness from humanity and its viral inflection point, consequences from such a small group having sucked all the oxygen out of the room and replacing it with their infected minds?

  15. Roger Bigod

    “There is perhaps an analogy between building nuclear weapons and manufacturing an illegal drug such as LSD. Nuclear weapons and LDS are both highly addictive. …Both have destroyed many lives and are likely to destroy many more if the myths are not dispelled.”

    –Freeman Dyson, 1992 in a book review in Science

    An evil flake.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, LSD is decidedly not addictive, either physically or psychologically. The only way it might destroy a life is by going on a trip and deciding that walking off a rooftop is a really swell idea.

      1. Roger Bigod

        A lot of the stories about people walking off rooftops etc turn out to be fabrications. Can’t say it’s never happened, but I notice there are no comparisons with other drugs. You’re just as dead from lung cancer or an auto accident on booze as walking off a rooftop.

        There’s been essentially zero research on that category of drugs for 40 years, based on the fraud he promoted there. Turns out their main effect may be to down-regulate a part of the brain called the “default mode network”. This is the most vulnerable part in Alzheimer’s, and may be important in understanding autism and schizophrenia. It was described only about 10 years ago, so possibly 30 years was thrown away for a witch hunt. But hey, anyone should be proud to have their brain rot away if it will spare one young person exposure to those horrible drugs.

        Gotta dispel those myths.

      1. Roger Bigod

        I haven’t followed the details, but it seems like every few years there’s an article in one of the popular science magazines that someone has done a small study with LSD or psilocibin. The investigators roll on their backs wetting themselves with gratitude that they were allowed to do the study after years of submitting applications. The results are described as “promising” and are never heard from again. And no wonder, since they are Schedule I, and suggesting a reconsideration would be a no-no for any hope of getting a grant.

        There’s a recent paper in PNAS, a major journal, about effect of a psychedelic drug on scanning for cerebral activity, out of Oxford or Cambridge. The technique is 20 years old, and I’d bet that every other category of drug has been studied.

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