Links 4/29/12

Campus bear drops out Los Angeles Times (Joe Costello)

Farmers Foil Utilities Using Cell Phones to Access Solar Bloomberg (Lambert)

41% of Americans Live in Counties with Dangerous Levels of Air Pollution Atlantic Wire

Power really does corrupt as scientists claim it’s as addictive as cocaine Daily Mail (May S)

Scientists warn of up to 27 times MORE plastic waste in oceans than previously estimated Daily Mail (May S)

UK flats may be Olympic missile site BBC

Bin Laden raid not one in milllion after all Charlie Davis

Robert Fisk: The Children of Fallujah – the hospital of horrors Independent (May S)

Poetry against purdah Himal (Lambert)

How Obama Recycled a Lie about Iran Haaretz (May S)

Mormons who fear Mitt Salon (May S)

Romney’s new housing policy: Offering the Grim Reaper a big helping hand Jane Stillwater, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Selective bin Laden leaking Glenn Greenwald. This would be funny if it weren’t so troubling.

Health reform law to yield $1.3 billion in insurance rebates McClatchy. Lambert: “A pathetically low number.”

Urban revolution is coming Salon (May S)

Incredible Shrinking Country Ross Douthat, New York Times. OMG, more American self-congratulation. A diss of Japan, when it has managed 20 years of a terrible economy with far more grace than America has mustered 5 years into a lost decade. He blames Japan’s low birth rate on its lack of religion and “traditionalism”. So how does he explain an even lower birth rate in Italy? Or the comparatively high birth rate in equally irreligious Sweden?. Per him, it’s that Swedes are cool with out of wedlock births. No, there is a simpler reason in Japan. Being a wife/mother sucks (by contrast, those Swedish men are big on sharing homekeeping duties). He’s pointing to the wrong sort of traditionalism: it’s not about legal relations, it’s gender roles. And the other issue he ignores is immigration. Demographers in the US in 1990 also predicted a falling population for the US, but immigration, particularly of Hispanics, which have higher birth rates than other groups, changed the trend. The Japanese, by contrast, are the most xenophobic population on the planet.

Is Wall Street, dissed by U.S., moving to China? Philly (Lambert)

How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes New York Times

Does Quantitative Easing Benefit the 99% or the 1%? George Washington

Homeless families found living in storage units KSl (Lambert)

David And Société Générale Wolf Richter (Chuck L)

Complaint | Boyd County v MERS – 14 Kentucky Counties Sue Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems 4ClosureFraud

Telling Strength From Weakness Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times. This is a nice theory, but you will never get adequate disclosure from big dealer banks. What do you need to have to assess their risks? Their trading positions in pretty close to real time. That is also their most competitively sensitive information, and no way will they disclose that.

Only bards do well in markets MacroBusiness

Why There Are No Bosses At Valve BusinessWeek (Lambert). This is totally cool. I had thought the limits to “no/weak structure” was 150 people, since that is apparently the most who can know each other on a personal basis. This suggests you can go a bit bigger than that.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. J Sterling

    Low birth rate is a good thing, but the employer and landlord classes hate it. After the Black Death wiped half the European population out, the surviving workers became more prosperous for decades afterward, until population growth restored the balance.

    Historically, whenever there have been “too few” cheap workers available, the rich have whined that the workers are demanding too much in wages, paying too little in rents, and taking too much time off work (see Michael Perelman’s The Invention of Capital for an account of the complaints of the privileged in England in the eighteenth century, and their project to take the commons away from the workers in order to force them to beg for wage work).

    As Evsey Domar has pointed out, the asset owners’ response to labor shortage can, in the extreme, take the form of claiming the legal right to actually demand that labor work for them for free involuntarily, as in the Africa-to-America slave transportation and the roughly contemporary enserfment of the Russian peasants.

    I would welcome a spontaneous global decline in population of even as little as one-tenth of a percent per year as the greatest benefit to workers imaginable. Unfortunately, this is only actually happening in places where the population is being forced down by poverty, not drawing down by itself. Employers and landlords rejoice that this is so; they never want their workers and tenants to be more scarce.

    1. Maximilien

      “…the asset owners’ response to labor shortage can, in the extreme, take the form of claiming the legal right to actually demand that labor work for them for free involuntarily, as in the Africa-to-America slave transportation and the roughly contemporary enserfment of the Russian peasants.

      In pre-Revolutionary France, peasants were required to do unpaid roadwork a certain number of days each year. This forced, unpaid labor for the State (i.e. the aristocracy) was called the corvee.

      “Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower
      social standing and imposed on them by the state or by a superior (such as an aristocrat or noble).

  2. Paul Wyndale

    Trying submit this interesting post by a former member of Camper Von Beethoven on how the tech giants of Silicone Valley harvest content off the backs of those who produce it. The big difference between iTunes, Amazon and the big multinational distributors of yore is that the latter actually had to invest large sums into producing content whereas the new digital gate keepers simply want to steal it. Seems to me like the kind if rent seeking behaviour more usual of banks.

    1. Rex

      “the tech giants of Silicone Valley”

      Silicone Valley would be further South than the one you intended (Real Housewives of LA territory). Silicon is the stuff used to make electronic chips, whence the tech valley gets its nickname.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      PW, actually the original is “van Beethoven.” Ludwig’s name was Flemish (of Belgium), but since he was born and lived in Germany, he is said to be “German”–which is why the German preposition “von” is often used before “Beethoven.”

    3. Paul Wyndale

      It’s a very interesting link should you care to read it as opposed to amusing yourselves at the expense of some silly typos…

    4. YankeeFrank

      Thank you Paul. This is a fantastic piece on the current state of the music business. I will share it with all of my musician and other friends.

      I knew I hated itunes 30% hit on iphone/ipad app developers, and knew they used that “magical” usurious rate on itunes downloads as well. Its a disgustingly parasitic rent they charge for doing nothing but hosting files. Steve Jobs was a robber baron, slave labor exploiting scumsucker and I’m glad he’s rotting in hell for being such a greedy human paraquat.

      And I completely agree with David Lowery — the tech industry is creepy.

    5. They didn't leave me a choice

      Oh, the middlemen of recording industry are pushing their propaganda here now as well. Cry me a fucking river, as much as I despise apple & co for faults, this is not one of them. If anything they’re doing their part in the sacred duty of liberating the culture from the strangehold of money by driving the cost of end product towards the cost of distribution, in other words, zero. And if they’re making some money while at it, I don’t mind, even if it is ultimately self-destructive.

      If the recording industry and their kind in other related bags of horse shit want to stay in the past, all the power to them. Their extinction will be missed about as much as that of the dinosaurs. Probably less, actually, given that dinosaurs are actually pretty cool.

  3. dearieme

    “the U.S. military has … killed hundreds if not thousands of… poor brown people”: it’s Nation Building, innit?

  4. Ned Ludd

    It’s obvious why Osama bin Laden was killed instead of captured. A trial or military tribunal would have brought to light – or shined a light on – a lot of inconvenient information.

    Two months before September 11 Osama bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.[…]

    Bin Laden is reported to have arrived in Dubai on July 4 from Quetta in Pakistan with his own personal doctor, nurse and four bodyguards, to be treated in the urology department. While there he was visited by several members of his family and Saudi personalities, and the CIA.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      And then he subsequently had kidney/liver problems ? haha, much too trusting of our “people with no honor” aka CIA/NSA.

      1. lambert strether

        Yeah, I always did wonder why it was so hard for the CIA to locate a kidney dialysis patient.

        But I always figured Obama would have him killed closer to the election. Oh well!

    2. Maximilien

      How do we know Osama was killed by Navy Seals, or in some other manner, or even killed at all? Cuz the military tells us so?

      How do we know Osama isn’t still alive, or didn’t die years ago? Cuz the media tells us so?

      “Full fathom five Osama lies.” That’s their story. Where’s the evidence? And why do so many people seem to swallow it?

  5. Leviathan

    It’s great, I suppose, that Valve is a happy anarcho-syndicalist commune. But its business model is pure evil genius. Give away “free” games to pubescent and post-pubescent males with no source of income, then entice them with obscenely expensive add-ons they need to compete. Males sneak into parent’s wallet, learn how to steal cc info, ring up many hundreds (sometimes thousands) in debt within weeks. Strife and despair ensues.

    THAT is a business model for the ages.

    1. Holy Clueless

      That ain’t no anarchist anything, that’s corporate tyranny wrapped up in some hippy decorations. I see pill bottles, panic attacks, 90 hour expectations and death or delivery. Half Life was one of those games you’d assume was sent from the Pentagon. The first few pages of distortion in the pdf pretty much would have artists running for the exits.

      1. RanDomino

        Taken at face value, it seems to be thoroughly Anarchist. “Cabals,” for example, are Affinity Groups.
        The odds of it working as such in reality, however, are quite small…

        1. RanDomino

          Okay, here’s a problem- the section on compensation. Obvious opportunity for hierarchy and politics to develop. Anarchistic practices are totalitarian- they can’t exist in a perfect form if the context is also not Anarchistic.

          1. lambert strether

            If the claim is that anarchism doesn’t allow politics to develop, that’s ludicrous; in fact, I’d argue that anarchism reduced politics to group dynamics — much as the peer review system at Valve apparently does.

            If that’s not the claim, how would you change the compensation practices to avoid the features you consider suboptimal?

          2. RanDomino

            That’s my point- in an environment in which compensation packages are necessary (i.e. as long as capitalism is still the dominant system) then Anarchistic systems will never be perfectly Anarchistic. The best that can be done is to minimize the irritant, as Valve’s system tries to do. But it can’t last forever; the externally-imposed problems will pile up. Which is why it’s necessary to do away with capitalism entirely- to create a bubble or a commune or even a cooperative is insufficient.

    2. lambert strether

      Give away the razor, sell the blades. I’m not sure that’s any more evil than other business models, and it’s less evil than some (like, “kill them and take their stuff”).

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Leviathan, THAT is evidence of addiction of kids. “Valve” = drug pushers.

      “THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM” – Directed by Otto Preminger – for How It Works.

  6. ex-PFC Chuck

    Lest we forget the context in which Lord Acton’s famous quote (“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”) was made, it was in direct response to Pius IX’s trashing of the long established Canon Law directives regarding how to run a Church Council when he and the Curia forced through Vatican I the doctrine of a pope’s alleged “infalibility.” Acton, a British Catholic, spearheaded the opposition because the not a few bishops who opposed it were silenced and kept in the dark about what was going down out of their earshot. Garry Wills in Papal Sin provides a good description of this travesty. After the all too brief period of the “open Vatican windows” initiated by John XXIII, almost all such principled bishops have been culled from the herd by the grim reaper in cooperation with Wojtyla and Ratzinger.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      These are the “people without honor”, particularly CIA and NSA, but also apparently all our politicians. No honor, no integrity, but as James Baldwin once said, “jerking themselves off to patriotism”.
      (Another Country was I think where to quote came from.

    2. barrisj

      OIn a related issue, the US continually whines and moans about “Chinese hackers” conducting “cyberattacks” against various Net-based US sites, while at the same time this government – in alliance with Israeli assets – continually renders Iranian webspace under severe pressure, as this latest story reveals:

      Iran ‘disconnects oil terminal after hacking attack’
      Iran has been forced to take emergency action to protect its main oil terminal and other parts of its energy infrastructure after they came under a fresh wave of cyber-attacks.
      By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent

      5:52PM BST 23 Apr 2012

      Reports on semi-official news agencies said that the oil terminal, on Kharg island near the neck of the Gulf, the central oil ministry and the main national oil company, as well as other linked companies, had all been targeted by a computer worm on Sunday.

      Officials claimed that the attack had not affected oil exports or processing, but admitted that damage had been done. In response, a “crisis team” was set up to counter the attacks, while the systems were disconnected from the internet as a precaution.

      There were no initial reports of who might be responsible, and a deputy oil minister quoted by the Mehr news agency said that it had not been determined whether the attack came from inside or outside the country. But Israel has been assumed to be responsible for a number of significant cyber-assaults on Iran’s key infrastructure.

      Most notably, Stuxnet, a highly complex and sophisticated computer worm that antivirus experts said would almost certainly require the resources of a national cyber-warfare team, infected Iran’s nuclear programme in 2010. That was later said to be a joint Israeli, CIA and, according to one report, MI6 operation.

      The latest attack destroyed data on the servers of the oil ministry and the National Iranian Oil Company, bringing down their websites the reports on the Mehr website and other news agencies said, though they also added that oil-related computer systems had been deliberately taken off-line to protect them from further attacks.

      The US is quickly finding itself in a “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander” position regarding “cyberwarfare”, and in this case, one doesn’t need tens of billions in “defense” R&D moneys to confect worms, viruses, and other clever bits of malware to infect computers, servers, and the like…just some clever-dicks hacking away in a loft somewhere, anywhere, on the planet.

  7. F. Beard

    re Homeless families found living in storage units:

    OK, I’ve had it. When is everyone going to get behind a universal bailout and end this nonsense?!

    For pity’s sake, it’s only money that is needed and some reforms to prevent future bubbles.

  8. Lieber's ghost

    No, Charlie, it’s not shame, it’s just a little touchy, how the SEAL team detained OBL for positive identification before killing him. That breaks Article 23 of Hague Convention (IV) regarding treatment of prisoners rendered hors de combat by detention. Murder of prisoners has been a capital war crime since the Civil War, and it’s customary international law under universal jurisdiction. The archetype of cowardice, you know? Irreparable dishonor: for the state, not just the death squad (the state is custodian, not the troops.) White House morons spilled the beans in their initial glee and they’ve been furiously lying to hide it ever since. Oopsie!

  9. Literary Critic

    “Is Wall Street, dissed by U.S., moving to China?”

    They probably are expecting more love in China.

    Maybe it’s the lack of supportive T-Shirts in the US? Team Obama Poetry? Eric Holder “Justice Is Blind” T-Shirts? Lloyd and Jamie T-Shirts?


    Pop culture T-shirts under fire

    A Chinese online fashion retailer is being probed for using Premier Wen Jiabao’s popularity to promote T-shirts – an act that may violate the country’s law on advertisement, Beijing commerce authorities said.

    Vancl stirred up controversy on Tuesday by advertising a new series of T-shirts with Premier Wen’s quotations.

    Some were picked from the 70-year-old premier’s emotional press finale this March, when he addressed the press after the conclusion of the annual National People’s Congress.

    The series of T-shirts is named “Look Up At the Starry Sky,” the title of a poem written by Wen in 2007, and the web page used photos of him waving to journalists.

    The products were removed from sale only hours after their appearance, because many shoppers complained.

    “Vancl’s online advertisement is suspected of violating the Advertisement Law, which stipulates an advertisement shall not involve using the names of State organs or their functionaries,” a spokesman from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Industry and Commerce said.

    The bureau would soon take actions in accordance with the law, he added.

    While it is not unusual to see the faces of Chairman Mao and other late State leaders on souvenirs, it is rare to see images of incumbent leaders or officials being borrowed by pop culture.

    Jiao Hongyu, a Vancl spokeswoman, said the advertisement was designed out of respect for Wen, hoping the premier’s messages might have a positive influence on young people.

    “When we planned this, we did not foresee any negative impact it might bring,” Jiao said.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      While it is not unusual to see the faces of Chairman Mao and other late State leaders on souvenirs, it is rare to see images of incumbent leaders or officials being borrowed by pop culture.


      Maybe we can imitate the Chinese and make sure no politicians can be working actors who appear in pop culture.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Say Terminator is in office, they should just totally recall all his CDs even if they have to send in cops to every kindergarten.

          No officials in pop culture.

          1. Literary Critic

            The Terminator met his End of Days and lost to the CA Democrat Machine – failing to cure the state budget woes using his Eraser.

            Gov Moonbeam is back – the only open question is will he have to run as a republican next election?

    2. Maximilien

      “The bureau would soon take actions in accordance with the law, he added.

      While it is not unusual to see the faces of Chairman Mao and other late State leaders on souvenirs, it is rare to see images of incumbent leaders or officials being borrowed by pop culture.”

      Thankfully, in America, where Freedom still rings, such a law doesn’t exist. Because I’ve got a great idea for a product capitalizing on Obama’s popularity/notoriety: Obumma Toilet Tissue!!

      Get rolling on this one, all you entrepreneurs out there, before they bring in some draconian, Chinese-type law that prohibits faces of leaders on consumer products.

      I’ll be your first customer. I can hardly wait to, um, apply my first squares of Obumma Toilet Tissue.

  10. Susan the other

    Wall Street to China? The mutual corruption will be interesting. Clearly the banks see a propaganda opportunity: we are leaving because you hate us and treat us unfairly! But that’s not true. They are leaving like flies leaving the old picnic for the new one. That’s all there is to it.

    27 Times More Plastic. Because they investigated and found the surface plastic to be a fraction of the total; the total runs 20 meters deep. You know, we do actually have the equipment, know-how and man power to clean this up. So why don’t we do it? Why don’t we pass a mandatory recycling law as well?

    Japan. It is at the leading edge of problem solving and efficiency. We ignore and disregard Japan at our own peril. Except for its refusal to accept our help with Fukushima. I don’t understand that one. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Japan is shutting down all of its nukes and we refuse to address our own situation.

    Mittens. He is an idiot and/or a panderer. Romney comes across as a person who has never had an existential crisis, which, in my mind, puts him in a category of humans who manage to ignore their own humanity and deny that of others. Easy. He’s a glib, grinning golden boy still at 65. Scary. We really should make politicians take an oath to do no harm and to that end we should pass a law which punishes them for making all those asinine proclamations when they haven’t got a clue. Maybe an eye for an eye. Make Romney live homeless and hungry for a while.

    1. lambert strether

      ____. He is an idiot and/or a panderer. _____ comes across as a person who has never had an existential crisis, which, in my mind, puts him in a category of humans who manage to ignore their own humanity and deny that of others. Easy. He’s a glib, grinning golden boy still at ___.

      * * *

      Just saying.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        “Just saying.”

        Exactly! You have hit the nail on the head exactly!

        Humans can “say” any combination of words they can imagine and “say” any thoughts that spring to mind, no matter how tenuous a relation to reality those combination of words and/or thoughts have.

        [And anyway, so what if they both share traits you don’t like; it does not mean that we can’t point out that one of them has the trait. It’s not like we’re a public broadcaster with “equal time” requirements. We get it. You feel hurt and you can’t make everyone in the world do everything you want at every point in time. Waaaahhhh!!! You have to find a way to live with people who disagree with you, whether it’s because of selfishness, delusions or reasonable differences of opinion. You don’t control the world, you don’t have all the answers, and you never will. My two cents is that the sooner you accept that, the more pleasant the brief amount of time you get to share with existence will be. I’m all for vigilance and fighting and trying to make a difference in the world around me. I am not so delusional, ideological, and myopic to think there is an end point to my struggles or a state of omniscience I will reach or a title of philosopher king that I will be anointed with. It must be tiring to be you people, the martyrs who don’t even realize that they are trying to impose their world view on others as they scream that someone else is trying to impose their world view on them.]

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        He is “mind-controlled,” as are all “missionaries” and “bishops” of CJCLDS, but he is an extreme case of this. So of course he panders. “Whatever.”

    2. Rex

      Great observations, Susan, but I’m not so sure about this part, “We really should make politicians take an oath to do no harm…”

      We already have this:
      … and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

      How well has that been honored inthe last few iterations? Oaths are only helpful if the person pledging it has a degree of integrity.

    3. Maximilien

      Re: Mitt Romney

      Just curious, but if they did a poll, how many Americans would know that Mitt’s first name is Willard. Not many, I suspect, because the media never mentions it or uses it. Why? They’ve been told to bury it? Not Presidential-sounding?

      (No offense intended to people called Willard. But if you’re gonna run for President, Willard, take a lesson from Willard, er, Mitt, and change your name. And see that it STAYS changed.)

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        M, “Willard” definitely is a downer. Wasn’t there an infamous rat by that name?

        “Willard, Willard, Willard, Willard” – repetition is key. “Willard” is not “cool.” Eeuw.

  11. Charles Yaker

    Re the “Incredible Shrinking Country” anybody who thinks that the Japanese economy is in the toilet and that they have experienced a lost decade should read Eamon Fingleton. If your good maybe you can even collect on his $10,000 chalange.

  12. Tertium Squid

    “Mormons who fear Mitt”

    That was a weird article, and only tangentially about the effect an LDS president will have on the church; the author is more interested in talking about other currrent influences on church membership and growth.

    Interesting, since most of that stuff will go as it goes whether or not Romney is elected.

    He gets a little closer to the mark here (though annoyingly he has to shoehorn in party as part of his larger thesis):

    “The church’s troubles aren’t just in the United States. There are signs that it is contracting in Europe. Meanwhile, it’s expanding most rapidly in the developing world — where American presidents, especially Republicans, can prove exceptionally unpopular.”

    My dad and I talked about this yesterday. I think Mitt’s influence on US attitudes towards the church may actually be somewhat benign. But overseas is a different story; I am not eager for a day where our nation’s ruinuous and barbaric foreign policy is prosecuted by a LDS, and the consequences thereof.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      TS, think NSA in Utah, the Mormon missionaries speak foreign languages, and own The obedient Labor motherlode is in Utah, via LDS bishops.

  13. Anon

    Fisk is really keeping his powder dry there, no mention of depleted uranium (DU) by name.

    Research into the deleterious effects of radioactive elements on humans, often military-led, began with radium, strontium, and expanded into uranium, plutonium and polonium by the 1940s. (see for example

    More recent research suggests DU is not entirely favorable to human health:

    Teratogenicity of depleted uranium aerosols: A review from an epidemiological perspective, by Rita Hindin (U Mass. School of Public Health), Doug Brugge (Tufts medicine), Bindu Panikkar (Tufts engineering), 2005

    Regarding the teratogenicity of parental prenatal exposure to DU aerosols, the evidence, albeit imperfect, indicates a high probability of substantial risk. Good science indicates that depleted uranium weapons should not be manufactured or exploded.

    Teratogenicity is the medical code word for the effects of toxins such as DU on human DNA, that is, they basically destroy it.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Anon – “substantial risk” – have the bankers placed their bets, hedged with compound derivatives, on DU outcomes in target locations? More war profits. Of course, the have inside information, since they own the War/Security State. But who will talk louder than money?

  14. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    “The Japanese, by contrast, are the most xenophobic population on the planet.”

    Nuh-uh. Koreans. :D

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