Links 4/16/12

Hi, in London (which means I lost a lot of Sunday due to traveling….and I must confess a bit of puttering around my old haunts). May get in a post of my own tomorrow PM before flying back to the US.

Wind farms ‘not big bird mincers’ BBC

Study: Historic Rise to Sea Levels in Pacific Ocean Linked to Climate Change Common Dreams (hat tip reader May S)

Report: One In Five U.S. Adults Does Not Use The Internet Techcrunch

Stop the nuclear industry welfare programme Guardian (hat tip reader May S)

Daring to Cut Off Amazon New York Times

Web freedom faces greatest threat, says Google founder Guardian

Unanswered Questions in F.C.C.’s Google Case Times (LS)

Source: Israel didn’t have grounds to bar entry of 40% of ‘fly-in’ protesters Haaretz (LS)

Dirty tricks and leaks at the heart of Scotland Yard Independent (LS)

America’s Prescription Drug Addiction Suggests a Sick Nation Common Dreams (hat tip reader May S)

Swimming naked in Brazil’s bubbly waters Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

DuPont’s armored car kit a hit in Brazil Reuters (LS)

Neil Heywood ‘poisoned by cyanide drops’ in China Telegraph

European Official Seeks Beefed-Up Anticrisis Fund Wall Street Journal. This is desperate.

Increasingly in Europe, Suicides ‘by Economic Crisis’ New York Times

Insane in Spain Paul Krugman

What’s wrong with Spain? Cinzia Alcidi, Daniel Gros, VoxEU

In Barcelona, Austerity With an Iron Fist Truthout

Spanish monarchy faces jumbo crisis FT (LS)

World economy still on life support Financial Times

Banks urge Fed retreat on credit exposure Financial Times

Judge bites banks New York Post (hat tip Abigail Field)


Swing states: Obama still has electoral advantages despite a much-changed map Chris Cilizza, WaPo (LS)

GEITHNER: Romney’s Claim On Women’s Job Losses Is ‘Misleading And Ridiculous’ Clusterstock. Yeah, but I still enjoy seeing Geithner being put in the position of needing to carry the Administration’s water and twitching on camera.

“The Slow Recovery: It’s Not Just Housing” Mark Thoma

Gary Shilling: Bearish on the US economy; calling for a crash Edward Harrison

Corruption Is Why You Can’t Do Your Taxes in Five Minutes Matt Stoller, Republic Report

Sheila Bair’s Fabulous Idea: $10 Million Loans for Everyone! Phoenix Woman, Firedoglake

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader herman s):

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    1. PQS

      I think the old line about feminism also applies to Class Warfare:

      “If you are feeling attacked by class warfare, maybe it is a counterattack…”

  1. Jim Haygood

    From the NYT article ‘Daring to Cut Off Amazon’:

    EDC’s publishing line, Kane Miller, produces the popular “Everyone Poops” book and its sequels. EDC’s so-called consultants — a direct sales force of about 7,000 women — sell to friends and acquaintances as well as their local schools.

    In recent years, though, the consultants have found it rough going. They would pass around a picture book like “The Noisy Body Book” or “Guess How Much I Miss You,” talking it up, and then the customer would order it online.

    Oh, my — 7,000 women pushing “The Noisy Body Book” and “Everyone Poops”? Scatology sells, evidently.

    But that other title really takes the cake: “Guess How Much I Miss You (Yeah, That’s a Banana in My Pocket!)” Bwa ha ha ha.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      I note in that article, that like all “entrepreneurs” these days, in describing Amazon as “predatory”, he means his business is being “victimized” because you and I are getting too low a price at Amazon.

      This used to be called “competition”, and regarded as a healthy process in what used to be called “Capitalism”, and would stimulate other businesses to compete by lowering their price too, and you and I would benefit from the price war.

      1. Another Gordon

        [The public] benefits from the price war.

        But what happens when someone wins the war? Then there is only one man standing – which is no doubt Amazon’s plan. There is then no sort of free or open market but only one that operates only on Amazon’s terms.

        If the govt would grant me a monopoly right to retail food I would in return agree to sell all items cheaper than now available which would be a great boon for consumers, especially the lower paid. What could possibly go wrong?

      2. Dave of Maryland

        It might be “competition” but it ain’t fair competition, and it WILL bust the book trade. It will destroy specialized markets, it will destroy technical markets, all of which depend on much higher prices and which are all stuck with very low volumes. If Harry Potter is your idea of culture, pretty soon that will be all the culture you’ll have. I’m in the book trade, I sell to Amazon, but with my eyes open.

        From the Lehigh Valley News, up in Altoona, Pennsylvania, we know that Amazon runs slave shops. If you protest Chinese factories, you ought to be out in force, protesting ours. Amazon runs slave shops all ’round the country.

  2. Eeyores enigma

    Seems like a waste of potential energy;

    “Surge in Obesity Sparks Crematorium Blazes”,1518,826639,00.html

    “Unable to bring the fire under control, the employee called the fire department. Firemen determined that the smoking chimney was glowing at 600 degrees Celsius (1,100 degrees Fahrenheit). They cooled it from the side and used an infrared camera to track the spread of heat through the building. It took four hours to reduce the body in the furnace to ash.”

      1. alex

        Carbon based is ok as long as the carbon in the fuel was taken from the atmosphere “recently” (as opposed to in geologic time). That’s why burning woord is carbon neutral, but coal isn’t. The same should apply to human fuel, so maybe we have found a solution to the Energy Crisis.

        1. Aquifer

          You do realize, of course, that you are offering a new variation on Soylent Green – only here folks are being fattened up to be used as fuel and not food …

          I have a great sense of humor (had to develop one upon realizing that the person i was living with was myself) but this isn’t really funny to me – i am getting more depressed all the time ..

          What hath man wrought?

          1. Party Pooper

            I’m already quite convinced that space aliens living deep underground beneath Roswell, New Mexico are fattening us up as food animals.

            And they don’t intend to share, unlike the bright and airy version we saw in Soylent Green.

            So working hard on my sense of humor is the only thing I got left.

  3. ella

    Judge bites banks: The remedy here is simple, change the court rule so that suits filed without affidavits are dismissed 30 days of filing. Write the court rule so that it applies to all cases currently pending and newly filed cases. Cases without the affidavits can not proceed to negotiation. Cases so dismissed can only be refiled once and refiling shall occur within 60 days of dismissal, second dismissal is with prejudiced so that the case can not be refiled again.

  4. Another Gordon

    Re ‘Daring to cut off Amazon’

    One of the more pernicious untruths pushed by neoliberals in recent decades is that, because the market must be right (or so they claim), then so must be how it allocates power. Absent meaningful antitrust measures this has enabled some retailers to become far more dominant than would have been allowed 30 years or more ago.

    As the retailers’ market share and power grow so they use that power to fatten their profits at the expense of suppliers. So the destination is where middlemen take all the profit and the creative sector is starved to death – surely not the result that any reasonable person would wish.

    Competition often comes with substantial costs which mean a competitive market is not always the cheapest but surely retail is one where public policy should be to maintain open markets.

    Naturally, big retail will claim that they offer cheaper prices to the public and maybe they do transitionally as a tactic. But what happens in five or ten years’ time when no-one really knows any more what the cost of retail distribution is in a competitive emvironment?

    1. Dave of Maryland

      If by “fatten profits” you mean Amazon’s, last I heard Amazon hasn’t got any profits and never has had. Amazon’s been bust from day one and subsists, so far as I know, from stock offerings. Amazon is a dysfunctional predator.

  5. walt

    Re: “Wind farms not big bird mincers”

    Misleading. The results of any ecological study are valid only in the ‘landscape’ sampled and shouldn’t be applied elsewhere.

    And then there’s this:

    “Where we are concerned is with two species, curlew and snipe, where we saw the density drop during construction and not recover afterwards.

    “The overall picture is perhaps more positive than some of the wilder headlines have suggested; but that doesn’t suggest there’s no problem.”

  6. Calrod

    Lindane is a pesticide that is carcinogenic and causes birth defects. People deliberately apply it to their entire body over and over again as a cure for scabies.

    If you are so unfortunate as to pick this up, please investigate reputable alternate treatments, don’t bathe in pesticides.

    Avoid the filth diseases by avoiding filthy people, whether it be on public transit, cross cultural activities i.e. Lee Marvin’s story [comments section of article] or other avoidables. People that smell bad from lack of bathing are more likely to harbor scabies.

    People that smoke not only stink but you can’t smell their lack of bathing because it’s buried under the cigarette stench. Just get up and change seats if possible. Screw their feelings.

    Wash your hands every time you enter your house from public. Take your shoes off and leave them at the door. This way you won’t be tracking in critters, brake dust, pesticides and larger things. Your carpeting will look better too.

    Don’t lounge around on your furniture in the same clothes you wore in public. It should go straight into the laundry basket or be hung up near door.

    Stay out of jail if possible. Thank you to Yasha Levine for these articles and his activism.

    1. alex

      “Screw their feelings.”

      Hurt their feelings? You’re giving them more room – perfect on a crowded subway. Maybe I could start a business selling eau de stale tobacco smoke so non-smokers can also enjoy this benefit.

      “Don’t lounge around on your furniture in the same clothes you wore in public. It should go straight into the laundry basket or be hung up near door.”

      Better yet, zip yourself into a plastic bag (head included).

      1. Percale

        I picture Alex as having blonde, or once blonde, dreadlocks down to his waist and a skimpy soul patch goatee. He knows that he’s going get some hitchiker sooner or later so he uses hipster wit to dissipate any kind of argument that might impugn his sense of dress. Oh, and his parents own
        lots of tobacco stocks that fund his trust.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Stay out of jail and cheap motels, if possible.

      What about after handling cash? Should kids be allowed to touch coins at all? That piggy bank should stay in the garage.

    1. Anon

      How exciting, all five captains, and I’m not even a Trekkie.

      Jesus. The power of cultural tropes.

  7. Ignacio

    The D.Gros paper is bullshit. First, he is talking about the housing bubble and then he starts an array of graphs about “construction spending” without distinguishing housing construction, commercial construction, housing-related infrastructures, and other infrastructures unrelated with housing such as railway construction, road maintenance and other. He cannot evaluate with his approach how much the housing overinvestment has been cleared. (Although he is rigth to assert that Spain is ways to clear housing overhang he cannot estimate how long will it take the clearance with the data presented in the paper. Gros and his colleague fail to aknowledge the size of spanish sectorial adjustment. Housing buiding permits fell more than 90% and residential construction activity is at record low levels. Gros and colleague just want to demonstrate that austerity is not bad at all, so they assert that the steep unemployment rise late in 2011 is not due to government cuts, but a fall in construction. That is a big error: it is precisely public spending in construction (infrastructures and so on) was has been reduced dramatically lately. So, it is true that part of the unemployment rise was due to reduction in construction, but it is equally true that is was due to austerity measures and reduced public spending.

    The third statement, and the falsest of all comes after saying that spanish economy can only grow if exports grow. Then, they say, adjustment requires that wages in Spain are “reduced at least relative to their german counterparts”. That sound fallacious to me. A reduction in wages as a way to reduce imports in economies with fixed exchange (common currency) is simply a recipe to reduce the competitivity and the productivity of the country that goes through the deflationary path. Thus productivity reduction would imply, following Gros’s ways of thinking, further wage reductions and productivity losses in a spiral that would end in total collapse of the economy. I would agree with Gros if the problem limiting spanish exports was labour wages, but it isn’t. The deflationary path would eventually serve to reduce the spanish economy to production levels lower than those attained before the euro. More effective and less deflationary would be to introduce special taxes on german and other imported products such as energy products based on carbon emissions (this would balance both bilateral current account and capital flows).

    Moreover, balancing REQUIRES that all parts do their part to rebalance. It is requires that Germany does its part by stopping consumption repression. If not, the only way to rebalance is via bankrupcy Mr. Gros.

  8. Aquifer

    Yo, Yves! Maybe you could look up Ha-Joon Chang while you are there …

    I really do think he would make a great “dissident economist” addition to the blog – or do i have it figured out wrong?

  9. barrisj

    Readers who are wondering if there is any sort of organised Left Opposition in Europe to “growth through austerity”, “labour flexibility”, and the entire neoliberal agenda should take comfort in this article from the FT on Jean-Luc Melechon and his groupement de Gauche:

    France faces revival of radical left

    A powerful revival of France’s radical left, led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former socialist minister, and with a resurgent Communist party at its core, looks poised to be one of the most striking outcomes of next Sunday’s first round of voting in the country’s presidential election.

    Mr Mélenchon, who has emerged from relative obscurity to become the most dynamic figure in the campaign, reinforced his dramatic rise at the weekend, drawing tens of thousands of red flag waving supporters from across the country to a rally at the Prado beach in the Mediterranean port of Marseilles on Saturday.

    “We are writing a page in the history of the left. We are the renaissance of the left,” he declared to roars from the crowd, chanting “Resistance! Resistance!”

    Aux les Barricades!!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The risk is that, along with the reviving far left, we will see the far right come back as well.

      1. barrisj

        The risk is that, along with the reviving far left, we will see the far right come back as well.

        The extreme-Right has already established itself as a potent force in several European countries, with little or no Left opposition to hard-line nationalists, anti-immigrationists, proto-Fascists, and others who have even entered into government coalitions; “…far right come back…” – they never went away.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps it’s better to say, ‘come back above a certain threshold.’

          That probably goes for a lot of things in life, as nothing really goes away.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Rising Sea Levels.

    Not sure what to make of Himalayan glaciers growing – are we due for another Ice Age that is being slowed down by Global Warming?

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From this distance, it’s hard to tell if the Neil Heywood cyanide poison story is not an attempt to further discredit those pesky Maoists.

  12. barrisj

    Meanwhile, another despatch from the drone front:

    The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret
    An inside look at how killing by remote control has changed the way we fight.

    Today, the Pentagon deploys a fleet of 19,000 drones, relying on them for classified missions that once belonged exclusively to Special Forces units or covert operatives on the ground. American drones have been sent to spy on or kill targets in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya. Drones routinely patrol the Mexican border, and they provided aerial surveillance over Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In his first three years, Obama has unleashed 268 covert drone strikes, five times the total George W. Bush ordered during his eight years in office. All told, drones have been used to kill more than 3,000 people designated as terrorists, including at least four U.S. citizens. In the process, according to human rights groups, they have also claimed the lives of more than 800 civilians. Obama’s drone program, in fact, amounts to the largest unmanned aerial offensive ever conducted in military history; never have so few killed so many by remote control.

    “Hope and Change”, hmm?

    1. F. Beard

      All we are saying is “Give blowing them to pieces a chance!”

      How ya like post-Christian America, America?

      Yes, the US has often not lived up to Christian beliefs but at least the ideal existed. Now what is the ideal? Fear? Paranoia? Nihilism?

      Really, I’m curious. What is the US’s motivating spirit?

      Oh, wait. I know. Safety and the status quo at all costs. And to think ex-hippies are in charge! What hypocrisy.

      1. Skippy

        “How ya like post-Christian America, America?”… beard.

        How ya like the politicized Christian America, America?

        Skippy… did ya miss the bush years? Graphic video upon request.

        1. F. Beard

          did ya miss the bush years? Skippy

          As much as possible. I can’t standing watching politicians.

          1. Skippy

            Well then you should be aware of the invigoration of evangelical Christianity, with in, the political realm and the consequences of it.

            Hence my response, because your statements intended meaning seemed contra to the facts on the ground.

            Skippy… are you asserting that more of the same, would alleviate the conditions present? Could you un – pack that a bit farther, a detail?

      2. Aquifer

        This ain’t “post Christian” America – this is “Crusader Christian” America – recapture the “holy (resource rich) land” from the “infidels” …

  13. scraping_by

    RE: Corruption ala IRS

    I always knew the arbitrary limit on electronic filing (non-tax software, non-tax service, non-fee) was a job protection program, but I always thought in terms of IRS temp jobs at the regional service centers. Plus, I remember one of Shrub’s “reforms” was to concentrate IRS audit resources on middle class incomes and away from upper middle class and elites. Handmade returns tend toward the amount carry forward to line whatever mistakes that get the computers to kick it out.

    While the privacy concerns are real, it’s pretty much a foregone attempt when you’re talking a tax return. Hiding income is silly, and most people don’t have the small business/small asset income that requires a ton of receipts. I just fall back on my small town roots: assume that everything I did was going to be news for everyone in town, and act accordingly.

    It’s important but tedious to list these promises Barry made and could have kept, but won’t.

  14. Fíréan

    I use to visit the blogs for alternative to the mainstream media, yet now the links are nearly all mainstream media i don’t bother anymore with the links, I just come for the main body of articles now.

  15. Aquifer

    So, 20% of adults don’t use the internet – reasons: economics, don’t think it’s relevant, don’t know how to use it. There is/was a group that was working on getting really cheap simple computers to folks in 3rd world countries – too bad they can’t do the same in US. Oh yeah, the biggies couldn’t (over)charge as much …..

    I can sympathize with 1 and 3 – when this old rattletrap goes, don’t know that i will spend the money on another and if i didn’t have cheap internet access (DSL), I don’t think i would pay more. At that point, I realize, I will drop off the face of the earth as far as many go – a useless “non-entity” cut off from communication as nobody uses phones, as phones, anymore, and access to information, even phone numbers, is digital ….

    Thought computers and internet were supposed to “increase” one’s options and “open the world” – well they have decreased mine, rendering phones decreasingly useful as they are more and more abandoned and we are pressured to use the net, and they “open the world” – to those that have and know how to use them.

    “let ’em eat bytes!”, Gates or Jobs would say ….

    Wonder how that compares to the number who don’t watch TV …

    1. wifido

      “[lack of ]Internet access”???

      If you have a laptop with WiFi just put it on the search mode and see if you can pick up a signal from a neighbor’s wifi. If it’s not pass word protected, you’re in like Flynn. No, it is not illegal to surf on your neighbor’s wifi any more than it’s illegal to bathe in their porch light shining over your fence.
      They won’t know you are doing it and it does no harm to them unless you are sending threatening emails or other such stupid things.

      Google “Chinese wok wifi enhancer” or other search terms having to do with using steamer baskets or woks as parabola that capture distant wifi signals and make them accesible. You put a USB wifi antannae on the end of a ethernet cord in the middle of the basket and aim it at likly distant homes to capture their signal.

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