Links 4/26/12

Eagle Owl Adopts Baby Chickens at German Zoo Der Spiegel (Aquifer)

Dogs Acquire 24/7 TV Channel Care2 (furzy mouse)

Govt bans use of live animals for education, research Times of India (furzy mouse). Go India!

Tanya Fields: Breaking locks and planting seeds in the South Bronx Grist (Aquifer)

Fireball Over California/Nevada: How Big Was It? Digg

Equipment Maker Caught Installing Backdoor Account in Control System Code Wired (Chuck L)

Study finds twist to the story of the number line EurekaAlert. How could anyone think this is intuitive? I picked up the number line faster than peers (this was an early proud moment in school) but I distinctly recall learning it.

Is Siri Smarter than Google? CIOUpdate. Google has gotten stupider (its prioritizing the most recent web pages has made it close to useless), so that isn’t as hard as it seems.

Viral video: Dutch girl ages 12 years in 2 minutes, 45 seconds Los Angeles Times (Scott)

Increased Antarctic Ice Loss by Warm Ocean Currents Nature (Lambert)

A Battle Over an Engineered Crop New York Times

Population and consumption ‘key’ BBC

MAPS: Biblical Flooding Is Coming to a Refinery Near You Mother Jones

Growth will save us? You bet! Golem XIV

Greek anger keeps German tourists away Reuters

How African dictators corrupt European politics Michael Schmidt

Chinese banks and stealth easing MacroBusiness

Bo bugged phone call to China President Hu: report Reuters

If Japan Is Broke, How Is It Bailing Out Europe? Forbes

The euro’s salvation lies in a little less Europe; not more Europe Avinash Persaud, VoxEU

Why Won’t Germany Turn? Joseph Halevi’s insightful analysis, circa 1995 Yanis Varoufakis

Israeli military chief: Iran will not build nuclear bomb Washington Post

Iran War Politics: Elizabeth Warren Contradicts Defense Secretary In Hawkish Talk, Bob Kerrey Calls Attack ‘Disaster’ Huffington Post

Caring for the US Military’s Traumatized Soldiers Der Speigel (Aquifer)

Obama Lies About Federal Marijuana Law to Rolling Stone Jon Walker, Firedoglake

For Obama, A Kinder, Gentler Netroots Nation In 2012 TPM. Ugh.

Budget Control Act: Military Cuts Will Cover the Social Security Shortfall Robert Naiman, Huffington Post

Mitt Romney to Speak at Hate Group Conference Ron Hill, Firedoglake. So much for Romney tacking to the center.

TSA officers charged in drug smuggling conspiracy Christian Science Monitor

Education Slowdown Threatens U.S. Wall Street Journal. It’s worse than this story suggests. Attainment is falling.

Why Isn’t Closing 40 Philadelphia Public Schools National News? Where Is the Black Political Class? Black Agenda Report (Lambert)

Wal-Mart bribery inquiry expands to trade groups Washington Post

Britain slides back into recession Financial Times

Decline and recovery in GDP levels during the latest recession and 1930s depression Twitpics. UK but still illuminating.

US durable goods orders fall sharply Financial Times. Bloomberg tries to say it’s no cause for concern.

Reprehensible Behavior a Cornerstone of its Business Model Michael Panzner (Mark Ames)

Chasing Fees, Banks Court Low-Income Customers New York Times

GE suffers activist shareholder revolt Financial Times

Shareholders Revolt: Are Wall Street’s CEOs Worth Their Pay? Forbes

SF cops back top 1 percent Joan Walsh, Salon

Surviving Progress (Aquifer)

Watch out! Is the Fed pushing us into another bubble? Sheila Bair, Fortune (Michael C)

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Engineer

    Re: MAPS: Biblical Flooding Is Coming to a Refinery Near You Mother Jones

    I worked at a giant civil enginering firm. The question of the rise of sea levels was put to the entire firm via email.

    The “guestimate”, that was then used for designs on that time frame was about 6 ft, or 2m. Civil Engineers tend to be cautious, so a lower number would be “expected”.

  2. Dan

    Re: German/Greek hostilities

    A German business partner of mine was in the states last week and we got talking about the Greeks. His rather pragmatic analysis of the European debt crisis is that Germans aren’t opposed to a transfer of wealth from the north to the south or forcing austerity out of some sense of right and wrong. He said the attitudes are far simpler. Germans simply don’t believe their is any way for the PIIGS to right their situation, with or without German or ECB aid, and so better to sit on the sideline and let them fall and have some money left rather than go all in on some bet on the PIIGS economies and be left with Germany or the ECB holding the bag when they fail. The talk of saving the noble Euro experiment, he says, is really secondary to plain old self interest.

    1. Jim

      Dan, why do you describe the Eurozone as a “noble experiment”. Undemocratic, yes. Noble? Of course not. The German voter was explicitly promised that there would be no consequential transfer payments from the North to the South.

    2. optimader

      the germans are taking a page from Churchill pulling the RAF out of France at the beginning of WW2. No chance of saving it, so insteas of bleeding out, keep the remaining powder dry!

  3. Max424

    from: MAPS: Biblical Flooding Is Coming to a Refinery [or a nuclear facility) Near You

    ” …. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the lone Republican at the hearing, called the report’s findings “a wake-up call.”

    Never heard of her. Is Murkowski a believer? Is she the only Republican in the Senate that understands what rising oceans will do to our shining coasts lined as they are with nuke plants?

    That’s right, it will make them uninhabitable, for 200,000 years, which is many many times longer than Bible time.

    Note: Republicans. Has there ever been an insaner lot? You know some Republican staffer/strango is day and night whispering to her: “We should ignore the climate change facts, Madam Senator, and stick with the party line. Remember, even if it does come true, so what? By eliminating the coasts and we eradicate the liberal coastal elite.”

    “What could be better than that?”

      1. Max424

        Thanks for the links.

        Unlike the rest of her party, Murkowski seems sane, almost reasonable. Her case is so unusual, in fact, I think we need to designate a whole new political category, just for her.

        How bout Pink Dog Republican? Get enough followers, and the Pink Dogs will be able to make –status quo– love with the Blue Dog Democrats, and produce ever more purple, satisfied, do-nothing centrists.

  4. Richard Kline

    Regarding the dumbing of Google, in my experience as an end user of search engines down the year, they invariably get ‘stupider’ the more they are used. The number of searches returned per page is cropped. The relevance of search returns plunges. Inversely, the hit rate of searh returns rises at the top, so that the stupidity of the masses’ middle pushes up returns more than any factor or accuracy or utility. Manipulation of returns seems rife, but that’s for experts to determine. Further in that vein, however, the ‘commerciality’ of search returns soars. In short, where where the popularity of something draws more eyeballs, the stampede of exploiters tramples meaning, not to speak of subtlety.

    Whether this putative phenomenon correlates with another of my experience is difficult to prove; the drivers of degradation may differ, or only partially overlap. This other phenomenon might be called the principle of diminishing revision. The _first revision_ to a website’s main pages typically improves appearance and useability; all further revisions invariably diminish both appearance and useability. The frequency, and as I have it the pervasiveness, or this result has struck me time and again over twenty years of moderate web interaction.

    Why might this be so, assuming that others share such an experience? The features which make a website interesting or useful are not only finite but usually limited to a small set, so a good appearance and usebility requires positioning and optimizing only a few factors, most immediately accessible from the homepage and if things are done well plainly evident at once. Good graphical design isn’t rocket science: it doesn’t take much ‘doing’ to optimize a small set of factors. There’s always something missed or glitched at launch, so initial clean-up, whether minor or major, has the best chance of improvement. What really ‘works’ or has value in website’s content or interface isn’t necessarily intuitively obvious at launch either, but will be come fairly readily apparent through use and comments; so again, the first revision has the best chance of optimizing around the features users find relevant/desirable. Subsequent revisions are _never_ really about improving usability then, since usability is typically optimized rapidly. Change tends to either diminish or clutter inherently then. But further, subsequent changes tend to be driven by a deisre to ‘refresh’ the experience, i.e. make it something other than what present users find most relevant regardless of intent. Further revisions are often persued to commercialize the clickstream furthermore, whether in regard to users or more often to third parties hoping to profit off of users. Needless to say, these last kinds of revisions are inherently inimical to a good user experience.

    The conclusion is, revise your site little and seldom if you want to keep your present users because through a declining experience you’re telling them to go away if you start down the ladder of diminishing revision.

    Just a few thoughts from 0darkhundred hrs . . . .

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      RK, the real purpose: hoovering mass (99%) stats into Financialization Machine to profit the 1% through some scheme or other. Seems to work on same principle as that of the vacuum cleaner in Utah and hot spots. Extraction profits go to the 1% in every way possible. “Be sociable.”

    2. Mel

      But our present users aren’t enough! We already have them! We want more! More! Growth! Growth!

      Not to dispute the overall point. The programming language that I use most looks like it’s at the top of the wave now. Version 3 gave the ability to process unicode text for any language on earth, plus a lot of annoying fiddling. Fiddlers now talk about version 4, which I’m guessing will be the big slide down the usability curve.

      Reminds me of the logical hitch in that advertising slogan “Everything you want .. and more!”

    3. Up the Ante

      “experience as an end user of search engines down the year, they invariably get ‘stupider’ the more they are used. ”

      Kind of a bottleneck effect. Paywall for Expert User database access.

      “The number of searches returned per page is cropped. The relevance of search returns plunges. ”

      And the way Paywall limit is indicated is the degree of insult delivered per search yield.

      Yet further evidence that corporations are psychopaths as per Joel Bakan.
      Or that knowledge of business fraud is not lacking.


  5. Richard Kline

    I don’t know what cadre of numerical chauvinists popped off the notion that space and number are inherently associated in cognition; the idea is simply absurd. Labels and perceptions are not equivalent or co-occurent in cognition. It’s not remarkable that the notion was empirically disproven: it would’ve been remarkable if the notion was empirically _substantiated_. Space and quantity may have some inherent associations, but quantity is perceptually scaled (and by no means always accurately so) not numerically labeled.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      RK, are you the first to make this challenge to conventional wisdom? Can you prove this with a team, thanks to a CIGI or INET grant? “Walk forth.”

    2. Susan the other

      The Yupno always see the past as down and the future as up. So they conceptualize the valley as representative of the past and the mountains as the future in a V configuration. And they probably do this 3-dimensionally like a vortex, but the article didn’t elaborate. A vortex that recedes into the past and opens up to a future of infinite possibilities. So maybe a number line is just too one-dimensional.

      1. craazyman

        Everything Goes in All Directions at Once and Only YOU Can Make it Stop!

        Many modern corporations use the Yupno counting system, depending on their circumstance and the need of the moment.

        Intersting that the Aymara of the Andes placed the past in front and future behind. That makes more sense because you can see the past but not the future. And if you could see the future, it wouldn’t be with your eyes but with your mind and it wouldn’t matter what way your feet were pointing

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What I find interesting is that the Yupno would place all large and med-size numbers at one end and all small numbers on the other end.

          It’s like if you make $1 million, $5 million, $1 billion a year, you all go stand in that 1% endpoint.

          And if you only make $90K, $50K or on welfare, you all go stand in that other 99% endpoint.

          I am surprised the Californian participants didn’t respond the same way, because, it’s really like that here.

        2. Literary Critic

          I think I would have repeated the experiment with left handed Yupnos just to see if everything reverses.

          BTW, doesn’t a Yupno sound a little conflicted to start with?

          I’ve also wondered if humans living long enough next to a railroad track may develop a non-linear Doppler measurement system. That would be trippy. How many oranges does this sound like in 1 minute?

          They would make great economists and central bankers.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Yup, Yupno sounds a little undecided.

            But, no, the Yupno are no Zen monks.

            I have a question though. If a Yupno is doing yoga standing on his head, would his past be up or down?

        3. LeonovaBalletRusse

          c, see old classic film – “Berkely Square” – with Leslie Howard on You Tube, for confirmation.

        4. JTFaraday

          “the Aymara of the Andes placed the past in front and future behind. That makes more sense because you can see the past but not the future.”

          Reminds me of this:

          “A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.” — Walter Benjamin

      2. scraping_by

        Most people conceive of past as to their left, the future as to their right. This might be because we read English, and the sentence actually works as a time line, starting with the left and going right, into the future. Reach the period and the sentence is in the past, to the left.

        Often, kids with ‘dyslexia’ can start reading with facility by shutting their eyes and using a hand to touch themselves (shoulders, chest, side) ‘past’ then touch themselves ‘future’. Do it several times then open your eyes and read something with larger print.

        Doesn’t always work, but does for some.

  6. Fiesty

    “Dogs Acquire 24/7 TV Channel”


    Now dogs will watch TV all the time and get stoopid.


    C’mon now. This is Orwellian attempt to control the masses!

    1. aet

      TV serves well as a means to get some people to sit and keep still – so it might work with dogs, too.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A TV channel goes to the dogs?

      It seems more and more things are going to the dogs now.

      1. Fiesty

        I think “going to the dogs” is one of those human metaphors I should take offense to.

        It is BS too. You have a Fox channel now.

        And speaking of bullshit, you have CNBC.

        Humans might be better off watching the dog channel.

        You might learn something.

        Like how to pee on a FIRE hydrant.

        Ahahahahaha wooof!

        I am starting to learn metaphors. This is fun.

    3. scraping_by

      The business model of mass media is delivering an audience to an advertiser, and getting paid for it.

      The advertisers know that if the audience doesn’t have its own money, i.e. children, they’re hooked up with someone who do, i.e. parents, and they’re encouraged to nag at the money types until they get what the advertiser is promoting.

      But, how will dogs get specific enough to obey the advertiser? I mean, feed me, outside, pet me, etc., yeah, those I know. But if he just has to have a rhinestone studded bowl filled with roasted thoroughbred just like the most popular cartoon character, what’s he going to do?

  7. Cletus

    RE: Obama Lies About Federal Marijuana Law to Rolling Stone

    The idea that Obama is a Progressive is ludicrous. He is as far right as Bush ever was.

    Beyond that observation, the whole “debate” over medical marijuana is a red herring.

    In the first place, the herb should be legal for any use whatsoever, as there is no public interest served by classifying it as a Class 1 controlled substance. There is no evidence that it is any more or less damaging than coffee, cigarettes, or alcohol (I’ll stipulate that ingesting it via smoke drawn into the lungs is not a good thing, but ingestion orally — either in it’s raw form or in the form of its derivative, hashhish — easily negates any negative side effect of using it).

    Obviously, marijuana is ingested by the vast majority of users not for medical reasons, but simply because it makes them feel good, without rendering them oblivious to reality, or having them drown on their own vomit if overused.

    Why have we become so indoctrinated to the both dishonest reasoning behind the laws regarding marijuana and to our social propensity to validate its use by treating it as medicine when neither of these criteria is needed to assert the right to use it as we see fit?

    1. aet

      Where do you find this “right” to use marijuana “as we see fit”, which you would assert as existant?

      Do you (and thus all other people) have such a “right” to consume, bounded by no rule other than their desire to do so, any and all of the substances which make up the pharmocopeia? Why would any such “right” (as you would call it) be limited ONLY to the use of marijuana, and not say heroin, or human growth hormone?

      Why would any polity agree to the esistence of such a “right”, anyway?

      Enough: it is the actual demonstrated potential of a specific substance to harm, that is, to cause actual factual physical harm to a human body, which MUST (and which by and large, DO) determine whether or not the use of State Regulations ( and thus penalties for failing to obey siuch regulation) can or should be brought to bear to regulate ANY material whatsoever.

      The greater the potential of or for actual physical harm arising to individual human beings from ANY activity, the more the need, indeed the duty, there is to regulate ANY such activity on the part of the governing authorities.

      That is the duty of ANY Government: to protect, as far as it is in its power to do so, its citizenry and those under its jurisdiction from forseeable and avoidable harm.

      Your ‘right” to use marijuana is not at issue, really.
      Rather, it is the existence of the claimed “harm” that is asserted as being caused by that activity, which is debatable – to say the least! ( For the use of marijuana is in fact clearly and demonstrably physically beneficial for some people – it can in fact clearly be, act as, a medicine.)

      If ANY activity is factually harmless – than, the State has NO justification for its Regulation – other than, perhaps, overtly commercial regulation, ie. the levying of taxes, zoning, and the like.

      The regulation of marijuana and its use ought not to deviate from those well-settled principles which govern the Government’s regulation of any and all activity whatsoever – and and any questions about it, ought certainly NOT be determined by the assertion or creation of some new or otherwise novel “right”, previously unknown to the law.

      What’s the harm in it? To be justified, Government regulation of any activity must reflect and be governed by that consideration, and that consideration alone. And that goes not just for marijuana, but for any and all activity whatsoever.

      If there’s no harm in an activity, then there can be no justification for Government regulation of that activity.

      Simple, really.

      1. chasd00

        “Enough: it is the actual demonstrated potential of a specific substance to harm, that is, to cause actual factual physical harm to a human body, which MUST (and which by and large, DO) determine whether or not the use of State Regulations ( and thus penalties for failing to obey siuch regulation) can or should be brought to bear to regulate ANY material whatsoever.

        The greater the potential of or for actual physical harm arising to individual human beings from ANY activity, the more the need, indeed the duty, there is to regulate ANY such activity on the part of the governing authorities.

        That is the duty of ANY Government: to protect, as far as it is in its power to do so, its citizenry and those under its jurisdiction from forseeable and avoidable harm.”

        that’s a little overreaching don’t you think? by that rationale Oreos, since they can cause a cavity and harm you, should be regulated by the state.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Ideally, but in real life, it doesn’t happy always.

          Many times, I tell people the noise from their cars or radios is agitating my hearing cells unnecessarily. I tell them they have no permission to make the tiny hair cells sway.

          And then, I hear Google wants to change the way we see the world. That is, rearranging my neural connections and pathways. If it’s successful, we will be forced to adapt. Again, my body but people are doing things to it.

          I am walking in the parking and a car is leaving. I am surrounding by its exhaust. It gets on my body and my hair. I can’t completely avoid breathing at least some of it. Again, my body but no choice.

      2. James Cole

        I can hardly tell if you are for or against legalizing marijuana from your comment. You start off with an oblique critique of the notion of a “right” and from there you assert a principle regarding the basis for regulation of activity that is rather overinclusive of what we would actually wish to be regulated — such as Oreos, as chasd00 noted.

        Cletus didn’t even use the concept of a “right” in the post to which you responded, but in any event, the existence of that right under law is exactly what is at issue.

        1. aet

          As the resources of the State are ALWAYS limited, the State must choose to address those harms which are capable of being ameliorated: and we are talking ACTULA FACTUAL AND LIKELY harm here: not some “potential” harm that may conceivably occur- for all activity carries within it some “potential” harm the “may conceivably” occur, just as any capable person is ‘potentially” a criminal.

          What ACTUAL harm is caused by Oreo eating – or by marijuana use?

          What about the thickness of the walls of steam boilers?
          Or the traffic on the highways? Why are that regulated?

          And why is their regulation uncontroversial?

          I think that the reason which justifies the State regulation of those activities is the same reason which must justify ANY and ALL State regulation of people’s activity – to avoid demonstrably likely harm from occurring to people, as far as it is reasonable so to do.

          General principles of State regulation of potentially harmful activities are not in issue: it is the question of how they are to be applied, or indeed, if they need to be applied at all, to the use of marijuana, or to the eating of Oreos (though the trans-fats ought to be banned by regulation from being present therein).

          Does marijuana use cause demonstrable harm? If yes, then regulate it to the degree that harm requires. If no, then legalize its use entirely and collect the sales taxes.

        2. aet

          “….Cletus didn’t even use the concept of a “right” in the post to which you responded”

          From Cletus’ post:

          “….to assert the right to use it as we see fit?”

          I’ll make my point once more:

          People don’t have a “right to use marijuana”: but the State may, nevertheless, have no basis upon which to justify any regulation of its use.

          If something is harmless, then the State – ANY State – has NO basis for lawful regulation: and the Courts ought to strike any such laws and regulations down as an abuse of State power.

      3. LucyLulu

        “That is the duty of ANY Government: to protect, as far as it is in its power to do so, its citizenry and those under its jurisdiction from forseeable and avoidable harm.”

        You are overreaching to interpret this mean that it is the role of government to protect citizens from harming themselves if they so choose. The government does not, e.g. prohibit citizens from drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, both of which have been demonstrated to cause considerable harm. Nor does it prohibit citizens from riding motorcycles without helmets, diving (while swimming), having unprotected sex indiscriminately with multiple partners, walking alone at night in bad neighborhoods, leaving their doors unlocked, gambling their life savings in Vegas, and many other behaviors that have a high likelihood of causing harm.

        The examples you cited would be cases of an individual being harmed by the actions of somebody else, by the other person’s intentional or negligent actions. That is a different situation from a citizen who makes an informed choice to engage in a certain behavior or use of a product. In this case, it is not only NOT the role of government to intervene but intrusive on a citizen’s right to privacy, and yes, it would include the use of heroin. People DO have the right to make their own choices, as long as others are not harmed, including choices that we may think are bad ones. I’ve often sees this come up in my work in health care where people will refuse needed medical treatments. Health care providers can not force them to accept life-saving treatment. Patients have the legal right to refuse any treatment, even if refusing such treatment will cause harm. In fact, unless it is 1)life saving treatment and consent can’t be obtained, e.g. patient is unconscious or 2) there is a court order (can only be obtained in cases of incompetence, or actively suicidal or homicidal……..refusing life-saving treatment alone does not constitute suicidality), giving treatment without consent can lead to charges of battery.

    1. Literary Critic

      In the Q&A session, Schneiderman was asked, “And how will your group proceed on this issue?”

      Schneiderman answered, “Due to time limits imposed by the statute of limitations, my staffer and I will do a google search using keywords ‘Mortgage backed security’, ‘securitization’, ‘financial crisis’, ‘servicer’ and ‘fraud’. We are hopeful this will give us some leads to follow.”

  8. ScottS

    TSA defends pat-down of 4-year-old at Kan. airport

    WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The grandmother of a 4-year-old girl who became hysterical during a security screening at a Kansas airport said Wednesday that the child was forced to undergo a pat-down after hugging her, with security agents yelling and calling the crying girl an uncooperative suspect.

    Uncooperative suspect! Priceless. I can just picture TSA thugs at home: “Now Shelly, we know what happens to uncooperative suspects who don’t finish their brussel sprouts. That’s right, they go in the hole for a day.”

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      This is a huge issue, especially because child molestation and worse is rife in the world. Any molested child will suffer extreme trauma (the pain, terror, and injustice of molestation trauma are cumulative), when placed by parents or guardians into the hands of total strangers to be “hugged” and “patted down” or worse.

      Recently, it was reported that an adult woman melted down in horror after being subjected to “legal” molestation by TSA strangers in uniforms. Her horror may have been compounded because of molestation or worse in the past.

      This “legal” molestation, as well as manual intrusion into human orifices by strangers, must cease. This is abuse and trauma imposed upon U.S. Citizens without cause, violating the citizens’ constitutional right against unwarranted search and seizure. Why is this not considered assault and battery, “carnal knowledge” of a juvenile, and “child abuse” in this case?

      1. Fíréan

        Deaming and humiliating it’s own citizens seems part of the intended process. And there will always be people willing to participate in this type of work ( or worse).
        Your freedoms have been retracted and now your dignity, and that of your children, denied.

  9. b.

    “The Professional Left is ready to play nice.”

    This following the medical marijuana lie from the Big Oval Orifice and the free-fire zone on Yemen conjures an unpleasant spectacle – BO and all his little o’s, progressively net-rotted to the core, slow-waltzing towards Four More Years.

    But then, that will hopefully enough for the gravy train to finally pile into that tarp-covered berg of cans that have been kicked down the road since 2007. Trends that can’t go on forever, won’t, they just go on too damn long for our puny electorate minds to connect the dot coms.

  10. Eureka Springs

    Net roots (rot or rut would be far better word than root) nations… aka daily kos people who were too weak to keep their original name…. Meet the new blue dogs.

  11. John L

    ” Catholic leaders skewer Paul Ryan budget plan”

    “We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few,” said the letter by 90 faculty members and priests to the Wisconsin representative.

    The letter adds: “In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    1. Aquifer

      Now if the Church would just stick to that line, and get out of the “habit” of whacking women and gays, we would all be better off ..

      1. F. Beard

        It would be better still if the RCC would reaffirm its opposition to usury and then we might not have so many poor people to begin with!

  12. Martine

    Hate groups?
    The Southern Poverty Law Center is a hate group. Morris Dees, their main man, is a wife abuser and
    makes his living by sending out junk mail to every Democratic voter that whose name he can buy.
    Just Google
    Morris Dees scandal. He is a parasite that has made his living off other people. Nothing his organization says can be trusted as it is all sensationalism.

      1. Dale

        That’s some trollbusting evidence!

        I think that guy’s a scumbag too. The amount of alarmism and whining that he does is pathetic.

        He’s like the United Way of Tolerance.

  13. Aquifer

    In the “Surviving Progress” link – if you click on the “more” button on the home page and click on the “transcript” choice on the drop down, you can read the whole (I think) transcript of the dialogue – which is pretty good, IMO. Most of us probably won’t get to see the flick, but the “story line” is good …

    1. LucyLulu

      Enjoyed that, diptherio. Thanks for sharing!

      “(This court cannot imagine why U. S. Bank will not make known to Mr. Phillips, a taxpayer, how his numbers put him outside the federal guidelines to receive a loan modification. Taking $20 Billion of taxpayer money was no problem for U. S. Bank. A cynical judge might believe that this entire motion to dismiss is a desperate attempt to avoid the discovery period, where U. S. Bank would have to tell Mr. Phillips how his financial situation did not qualify him for a modification. Or, perhaps he was qualified, yet didn’t receive the modification, in violation of U. S. Bank’s Service Participation Agreement (SPA).

      A cynical judge might think that, if the guidelines clearly prevented Mr. Phillips from getting his modification, then U. S. Bank would have trotted out that fact in mathematic equations, pie charts, and bar graphs, all on 8 by 10 glossy photo paper, with circles and arrows and paragraphs on the back explaining each winning number1. U. S. Bank’s silence on this issue might heighten the suspicions of such a cynical jurist. I, on the other hand, am sure that nothing of the sort could be true.

      Maybe U. S. Bank no longer has any of the $20 billion dollars left, and so their lack of written explanation might be attributed to some kind of ink reduction program to save money. I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for why the U. S. Bank will not print out the ONE page of figures that show Mr. Phillip’s financials compared to the HAMP guidelines to clear all this up.)”

  14. jsmith

    Regarding Obama:

    When do people finally reach the point where they don’t have to point out that Obama is lying – gasp – YET AGAIN?!!!

    Instead of wasting ink and energy on yet another “betrayal” wouldn’t it be better to start calling EVERYONE in power in the US a neo-fascist and start going after ALL OF THEM?

    What if instead of printing stories about Obama/Dem/Repub betrayals/sex scandals//campaigns ever again, all political commentators/analysts wrote stories about the neo-liberal brand of fascism as it is sweeping/has swept the US and the world?

    Imagine, every humdrum political story replaced with an expose on inverted totalitarianism and what we’re going to do about it?

    Start lumping them all together or lose your audience, writers!

    It’s your choice: propagandist or dissident.

    1. Aquifer

      Hmmm, i’ve got what, IMO, is a better idea – how about writing about the alternatives we have to these bums? i learned some time ago (the hard way) it is not enough to throw the bums out, you have to be equally, if not more, diligent about whom you are replacing them with, and if you have no replacements, all the sturm und drang amounts to little more than a 4 letter mutter ….

      So here is someone to think about ….

  15. Cuttin Pastin'

    “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out … without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”

  16. Aquifer

    Have always rather liked Sheila Bair ….

    “We consume too much and produce too little.”

    Yup, that about sums it up ….

    “Fed defenders argue that Japan has kept rates low even while running up huge debts. But Japan enjoys a trade surplus, and its debt is held domestically. In contrast we run persistent trade deficits, and foreigners hold over half our public debt. To the extent foreigners keep buying Treasuries, it is because Europe’s problems are worse. In short, we are the best-looking horse in the glue factory.

    She has a knack for putting things in a nutshell, and a sense if humor to boot, pretty good combination, IMO. Am I missing something …?

    1. financial matters

      “”get entitlement spending under control””

      While there is some truth to this and these programs should eliminate waste it also smacks of the ‘austerity’ strategy.. She needs to have a talk with Ellen Brown from Web of Debt…

      “”More people are starting to understand money as a result of the recent crisis. But these concepts have been concealed from us for a reason.

      These policies benefit the current political/financial class. We have to start asking questions such as why billions can be found to bail out Countrywide Financial while medicare and social security need to be put on the austerity table…””

    2. F. Beard

      “We consume too much and produce too little.” Sheila Bair

      That’s a cheeky statement. What business is it of hers to say what too much consumption and too little production is?

      Is Ms. Bair looking at things merely from the viewpoint of a banker? But banking is inherently crooked! It is based on usury for counterfeit money – so-called “credit”.

      Beware of morality statements from bankers – they are very likely to be hypocritical. We are to be good and productive so bankers can reap the surplus (and more) for themselves.

    3. Literary Critic

      “She has a knack for putting things in a nutshell, and a sense if humor to boot, pretty good combination, IMO. Am I missing something …?”

      Yes, it use of the MMT language.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            She could probably do both. I can’t imagine it being that difficult for her.

          2. Literary Critic

            A round of golf only takes 4 hours, and might be fun, depending on how things go.

            An MMT debate never ends.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Well, none of us is the sovereign of our time, not even governments.

            We are forced to deal with finite things.

    4. diptherio

      “The economy is finally starting to recover, albeit modestly. The Fed should declare victory and not intervene if the market wants to push rates up a bit. Start deflating the bubble before it pops. This will help savers, and possibly make it easier for small businesses to get loans, while leaving plenty of room for mortgage refinancings. Who knows? We might see increased demand for homes as new buyers come into the market to lock in the low rates. Most important, higher rates will send a wake-up call to Congress and the administration to do their jobs. ” -Shelia Blair

      1. The economy is not recovering, with the exception of the big banks. The real economy is still in the doldrums, which is obvious to anyone out here in it.

      2. Letting the interest rate climb will help savers very little, since most are not saving but de-leveraging, which will be harder with higher interest rates and serve only to further depress demand. It is unlikely that this will allow small business to access credit.

      3. Congress and the Administration HAVE been doing their jobs, i.e. protecting banking and financial interests. And they know that, as Cheney said, “deficits don’t matter.”

      1. LucyLulu

        “Letting the interest rate climb will help savers very little, since most are not saving but de-leveraging, which will be harder with higher interest rates and serve only to further depress demand. It is unlikely that this will allow small business to access credit.”

        I don’t have any numbers as to what percent they make up, but allowing interest rates to rise would help those who are trying to live on already accumulated savings, such as those who are retired. If the rate went up enough, it would also discourage these same people from risking loss of principal, if we have another crash, in search of income. As it stands now, savings of $500,000 (well above average, $125K IIRC) will only net income of $15,000/yr at most if invested in ‘safe’ Treasuries.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    African dictators corrupt European politics…

    Well, let’s just say they have a lot of competitors.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Population and consumption key.

    The reason why monkeys can have throw-away nests is because there are not as many monkeys as humans in the world.

  19. Klassy!

    Black Agenda Report is always a worthy voice reporting on the dismantling of our public education system (for certain districts).
    They had a good piece on Teach for America too a while back.
    In my local paper yesterday was a story on a struggling school district that chose to purchase ipads and macbook airs for 400 students rather than textbooks for all 1600 students. They were “frustrated by the poor graduation rate” and wanted to make sure students were “prepared for the workforce”. I think they received some guidance from a “non profit” that promotes computers in the classroom. They receive funds from intel. Quite the virtuous circle.
    Shoot me.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Well, maybe they can organize some sort of tournament so the 1600 students can compete for the 400 iPads.

      I’m thinking along the lines of something like “Extreme Fighting” for eight-year-olds.

      The non-profit directors could be given the box seats, and do the “thumbs up, thumbs down” as appropriate.

      “Race to the top!” was, like every word Obama utters, including “a” and “the,” a vicious lie.

      1. Klassy!

        Well, the “race” part is entirely appropriate. No pretending there aren’t losers. How better to introduce our young ones to the glories of capitalism?
        The Mary McCarthy quote is more and more useful as the years pass.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Greek Anger Keeping German Tourists Away.

    Apparently, Germans are going to Switzerland instead, but not as tourists but as immigrant workers. And the Swiss don’t like it.

    I say, be thankful they are not visiting you as vandals. Just ask the Romans.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I guess even today, parents in eastern Europe and neighboring parts like to name their kids Atilla.

  21. Hugh

    So many targets.

    Netroots Nation is a joke, essentially a Democratic sockpuppet group masquerading as grassroots populists.

    As some of us have been saying for a very long time, Elizabeth Warren is a thoroughly Establishment figure. She was good on one issue, but outside of that she is an entirely conventional member of the elites, i.e. a defender of kleptocracy. She has never called for prosecutions of the banksters and she supports a militarized foreign policy.

    The BBC article on population/consumption is I suppose well meaning but kind of simple minded. I have written before about the equation PT = ER I use to describe human survivability and our impact on the planet. P is population, T is technology level (a marker of consumption), E is environmental degradation and R is resource depletion. The article pretty much left out resource depletion altogether. The usefulness of the equation is that its right side establishes hard limits on population and consumption again something the article skirts.

    It was funny, though predictable that the WSJ article on education completely ignored the ideas of education for education’s sake and education to create a well-informed citizenry. Instead it bought completely into the line of the university as a factory training workers for corporations. It did not come right out and say it but the argument being made was rising costs of education (debt), stagnant wages, and lack of jobs (not mentioned) undercut the rationale for higher education and decrease US competitiveness: The US used to be Number One now we are number whatever, oh no! But as I wrote a few days ago, universities have ceased to be about education, and increasingly not about jobs, but about class: the elites who can still afford education for their children and the rest of us who can not.

    As for the fall in durable goods orders, that’s the real world so of course, the stock market was up today.

    1. Literary Critic

      Unemployment claims missed too and continued their 4 week upward trend, resulting in even more upside for the stock market today.

      1. F. Beard

        resulting in even more upside for the stock market today. Literary Critic

        What a system where bad news is good news!

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If the CPI comes out higher than expected, that will probably be good for another 200 points.

          1. Literary Critic

            With APPL earnings representing 36% of the S&P 500 now, we only have 4 real good news days a year. The rest of the time we need rose colored glasses.

          2. Literary Critic

            And the APPL cash hord in the bank is now $110 billion, which might be something to cheer about, until you realize the Federal budget deficit is $1.3 trillion, and the cum national debt has now topped $15 trillion. Then there are still the states and munis.

            Still, we hear governemnt isn’t doing enough. Sigh.

          3. F. Beard

            Still, we hear governemnt isn’t doing enough. Literary Critic

            It isn’t! The problem is the money is going to the villains, the banks, not their victims, the general population.

            And one should not worry about the national debt since the debt of a monetarily sovereign nation is ITSELF a form of money but one that (fascistly) pays interest. So paying off the national debt as it comes due with new fiat should NOT cause price inflation. In fact, it should be deflationary since the fiat pays no interest.

          4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            So paying off the national debt as it comes due with new fiat should NOT cause price inflation. In fact, it should be deflationary since the fiat pays no interest.


            You think that might have worked with Volker in 1980? Should he have printed more new fiat money to combat inflation because it’s deflationary?

          5. Literary Critic

            Yupno. Could be a deflationary collapse too. Or both. They will want to use dollars as the unit of measure. Who knows what that would look like?

            What they would like to do when a gov bond comes due is tell investors “Here’s a new one to pay off the old one,and it pays zero or negative real return.”

            The investors say, “Cool!” and all is well. Or not.

          6. F. Beard

            Should he have printed more new fiat money to combat inflation because it’s deflationary? MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            No, the US Treasury should have. They’re called “Greenbacks”. They are simply spent into existence without borrowing.

            As for killing price inflation, the proper solution then as now would have been to forbid all new credit creation and to bailout the entire population equally with new Greenbacks at a rate just sufficient to replace existing credit as it was paid off. With no change in the total money supply (reserves + credit) then neither price inflation nor price deflation should have been expected.

          7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            So, in 1980, the Treasury should have spent more new Greenbacks into existence, which you say is deflationary, to combat inflation?

          8. F. Beard

            The US Treasury should have replaced interest paying US Government debt with non-interest paying Greenbacks as it came due. That is deflationary on its face.

            Some have argued that the entire US National Debt could immediately be paid off with new Greenbacks but that’s too radical for me. I’ll settle for no more Federal borrowing EVER and to pay off the existing debt as it comes due.

          9. Literary Critic

            We’re settin’ up for another good day tomorrow!


            Amazon Surges After Hours On After-Tax Accounting Gimmick, Cash Burn, Collapsing Margins, And Negative Guidance

          10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I would think, instead of spending more new greenbacks into existence, the government collects more taxes and uses that to pay off the debt coming due would be deflationary.

          11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Unlike the Yupno, we have been brainwashed into thinking up is good when down is good.

            But with the right ‘brain washing shampoo’ and ‘mind conditioner,’ you will see things the right way.

          12. Literary Critic

            DOW 36000 here we come!

            Remember too that we rally whenever Spain or Italy sell bonds. That alone could take us there!

            After all, 25% of S&P 500 earnings come from overseas!

            China may have stopped importing everything but oil – but they still need petrodollars!

            There’s Japan. They are still there!

          13. F. Beard

            Both would be deflationary but the latter would totally wreck the economy as all money was transferred to the Fed and US Government debt holders.

    2. Up the Ante

      “As some of us have been saying for a very long time, Elizabeth Warren is a thoroughly Establishment figure. She was good on one issue, but outside of that she is an entirely conventional member of the elites, i.e. a defender of kleptocracy. She has never called for prosecutions of the banksters and she supports a militarized foreign policy. ”

      My immediate impression upon observing her likeness is that she is an apparatchik of the moment.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The ECB is on Mars.

    Know why?

    Too many men.

    Put more women in charge and it will be on Venus.

  23. LucyLulu

    House Passes Bill to Extend Student Loan Rates Another Year

    “The House approved a Republican-backed plan Friday to keep subsidized student loan interest rates lower for another year, but the White House vowed to veto the measure because it would pay for the extension by taking money from a preventive care fund established by President Obama’s health-care overhaul law.”

    Has anybody else noticed that when a bill benefits the middle or lower class, it has to be paid for, but when its a benefit for the 1%, like the oil subsidies, then there’s no call to find any funds to pay for the benefits? And what they are doing here is loaning students money at 3.4% for another year, instead of 6.8%, not giving money away, like to the oil companies. This is money the government itself is loaning, the same money they loan to the banks at essentially 0% and nobody complains about. The last I heard, the government is paying an average of 2.5% on the national debt. Most industrial countries support the secondary education of their young people, because they recognize that an educated workforce is critical to remaining competitive. But the best the US can do is to loan their students money, and the US politicians quibble over how much profit they should make on the loans, and what benefits they should subtract in order to make those profits??????

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