Links 4/9/12

Evolution at Sea: Long-Term Experiments Indicate Phytoplankton Can Adapt to Ocean Acidification Science Daily

The Warrior Class: The Blackwater Videos Harpers. “The vehicle struck the woman and knocked her unconscious body into the gutter.”

U.S. filmmaker repeatedly detained at border Salon

Border hoarders American Extremists

US police track cellphones without warrants Al Jazeera

News Corp/NDS Forces DocumentCloud To Take Down Emails Slashdot

The $30 billion Social Security hack

Welfare Limits Left Poor Adrift as Recession Hit Times

Falling Coverage Rates: One Reason Government Surveys May Not Show a Rise in Poverty Dean Baker

10 Unbelievably Sh**ty Things America Does to Homeless People Alternet (F Beard)

Story of Roswell’s ‘Chicken Man’ comes to tragic end Roswell Neighbor (Susie Madrak)

Two arrested in north Tulsa shootings that claimed three lives Tulsa World (“It’s not even past.”)

Stand Your Ground laws coincide with jump in justifiable-homicide cases WaPo

“I have no problem with people owning guns to protect themselves,” says Bill Kuch, [shooting victim] Billy’s father. “But somehow, we’ve reached the point where the shooter’s word is the law. The victim doesn’t even get his day in court.”

That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

Book Review – Communication Power – 1 Global Sociology

Cash as Social Infrastructure Credit Slips

Analysis: Islamic finance pressured to join accounting mainstream Reuters

Natural gas glut means drilling boom must slow AP

Supreme Court to Rule on Monsanto Ruling

Drug shortages and the mythical market Angry Bear

Tim Tebow draws big crowd to outdoor Easter service, urges athletes to be better role models WaPo. Matthew 6:5.

“Kill the Head”: Gregg Williams, Joe Paterno, and Football’s Future New Yorker

US Offers to “Negotiate” if Iran Surrenders; Thoughts on Negotiation Tactics; Obama Threatens War Global Economic Analysis

Fighting Terrorism, French-Style Times

Germany’s Pirate Party fails in a bid for an injunction to overturn a legal ban on dances during the Christian feast of Good Friday Gulf Times

A week without the worldwide web FT

‘Arc Frays’ and Other Elegant Variations Chronicle of Higher Education

Postscript: Mike Wallace, 1918-2012 The New Yorker

Occupy Philadelphia reemerges with Rittenhouse Square rally Philadelphia Inquirer (Paul Tioxin)

Keeping 1 percent values out of a 99 percent movement Pruning Shears

Antidote du jour (MS):

Readers, I have a cavalcade of cats on my list, but WordPress’s gallery feature is not what I imagined it to be. Soon!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. rjs

    maybe they slipped one in on us at year end…

    writing about the unemployment report saturday evening, and noting the number of people ‘not in the labor force’, now at an all time high of 87,897,000, was the reason for the headline percentage to decline to 8.2%, i connected a few dots back to the end of year extension of unemployment comp…under the new formula, the declining headline percentage has terminated Federal unemployment in 15 states…

    4th paragraph here:

    1. Susan the other

      And FDL. Dean Baker on all the people who fall through the surveys. Why can’t we get an accurate picture to talk about? Too frightened? We need to know how bad the problem is. With every city council equipped with enough phones and computers to do their own survey, people still living in homes can be surveyed. To survey the homeless will take field crews. But it is certainly not impossible. And it could be done on a sample-basis. I’m sure an accurate result (+ or – 5%?) will be horrifying. Proof that our economic system doesn’t work.

      1. Susan the other

        And the IRS really should give us a good picture. I mean really. We should not be messing around trying to kid ourselves.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Sto;
          “We” as a class are not trying to kid ourselves. Someone else is trying to kid us, into submission. We here Down South are beginning to see begging on street corners again. The problem is, the entire supporting economy has shifted. No more the poor little farms and truck gardens to barely eke out a subsistence existence. A totally helpless urban and suburban lumpen proletariat just cries out for radical reforms. The first organized movement that taps into this seething cauldron of discontent will win the prize.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am curious if high gas/bus prices deter people from actively seeking employment, thus reducing the workforce?

    3. Hugh

      As I pointed out over the weekend, in my own analysis of BLS employment data, I take the Non-Institutional Population over 16, the potential labor force and the least fudgeable number the BLS uses and multiply it by a participation rate of 67%, a rate that comes from the Clinton expansion. This gives us a number for where the labor force should be. Compare this to the current labor force as per the BLS and you have a measure of the unreported unemployed. Last month this was 7.838 million. So the real unemployment rate is probably around 12.6% (20.511 million) and the un and under employment rate is around 17.3% (28.183 million).

      Of course, wages, benefits, and overall job quality has decreased for most workers, and there is the burden of debt on many so even these more realistic unemployment numbers tell only part of the story.

      Also the Census releases a study on poverty in September I think and the USDA one on hunger in November covering the previous year.

        1. Hugh

          The 17.3% disemployment rate is what corresponds to the U-6. I have questions over the Shadow Government Stats methodology. I believe they just use a higher baseline.

  2. rjs

    re: Islamic finance pressured to join accounting mainstream

    maybe we’d all be better off the other way around…western finance could learn a thing or three from sharia law…

    1. Finance Addict

      At the very least, western finance ought to take a gander beyond itself once in a while. It hasn’t proven to be as failsafe as we thought. But realism seems to be against some kind of moral code on Wall Street.

    2. EH

      It’s disingenuous to call Islamic Banking “Sharia Law,” just as coincidental dietary choices shouldn’t be called Kashrut.

    3. bob

      In theory, it should be better. Theory.

      Most disputes end up in a tent in the desert, being decided by an islamic law cleric and/or theocractic leaders with absolute authority and no appeals possible.

      Look into the Saudi court system, if it can even be called that.

      1. Mansoor H. Khan


        “Look into the Saudi court system, if it can even be called that.”

        A better place (and timeframe) to look for a well functioning islamic way of life is: The ummayyad islamic empire (approx. 661 to 750, the abbasid islamic empire (approx. 750 to 1258) and the ottoman islamic empire (1299 to 1923).

        mansoor h. khan

  3. Jim3981

    The Drug shortages fall in to the same catagory as the “Stand your ground laws”.


    1. LucyLulu

      I used to get frequent migraines, for over 20 years, until 10 years when they stopped. I had a prescription for injectible compazine, one of the drugs mentioned in the article, for nausea. This is at least twice now that there has been a compazine shortage since the expensive migraine medications have been released. I never knew there to be a problem before.

      By the same token, I have an oral medication I take, its been generic for many years. Last summer my pharmacist told me he could fill that month’s prescription but there was a shortage and he probably would not be able to fill the next two months’ refills. I got a 90 day supply from mail-order to tide me over, as my alternatives are considerably pricier. The shortage had ended by the time I needed more. However I was shocked to find that the price of the drug had increased from $27 to $140….. in three months. And no, gold is not used as one of the fillers in the medication.

  4. Everythings Jake

    Wss it not Mike Wallace who was exposed for doctoring his interviews? He would retape his questions after the fact to make it look like he had been more stern or more morally indignant. Wallace was also reportedly fairly cowardly in the tobacco story. It has seemed to me that 60 Minutes in general was particularly adept at looking critical (“exposes” of the world’s dictators) without ever really turning a critical eye on U.S. foreign policy (and hence ultimately failing to accurately report the story). We seem to have a strange need to venerate “news” reporters who were really apologists and propagandists for power (Tim, Chris and now Mike).

    1. LucyLulu

      Perhaps broadcast journalists have always had some bias but I still think that the old-timers had a trustworthiness that more current journalists lack. They at least had the appearance of being professionals and unbiased, more so those who reported the nightly news than those on news magazines. Who didn’t trust Walter Cronkite, or even Tom Brokaw? Compare that now to the news heard on Fox. Though until yesterday, I hadn’t made the connection that Chris Wallace was Mike’s son. That must be why Chris is the only one on Fox who isn’t obnoxiously biased (okay, and Shepherd Smith too).

  5. Jim Haygood

    ‘This sin [elegant variation] against the language was named and concisely defined by H. F. Fowler in his 1908 volume, excuse me, book, The King’s English, as “substitutions of one word for another for the sake of variety.”’

    Couldn’t agree less. English derives some of its great rhetorical power from its dual Latin-French and Anglo-Saxon origins. For most adjectival expressions, one has a choice of a multisyllabic Latinate word (e.g. ‘elegant’) or a more guttural Anglo-Saxon one (e.g., ‘pretty’) to lend a more concise, tart flavor to one’s expression. ‘Four-letter words’ are almost exclusively Anglo-Saxon in origin because their sonic assault accentuates the vulgar connotations.

    Try to write in a Romance language such as Spanish, and you will quickly feel the structural constraint of not having English’s inexhaustible dual vocabulary at your command — preso en una jaula lingüística, so to speak.

    Purple-prose examples drawn from sportswriting are not a convincing indictment of elegant variation, any more so than the outrageous wordplay derived from Cockney slang used in British tabloid headlines. In both cases, these linguistic excesses are calculated journalistic tics, unrepresentative of the appropriate use of elegant variation in literature and poetry.

    1. ambrit

      Mr Haygood;
      Too true good sir. Tom Stoppard exploited that theme inexhaustibly in his works. I believe that in the world of horticulture hybrids are the hardiest strains.

  6. Bill the Psychologist

    Apparently, you cannot access the videos on Harper’s without a subscription….

  7. crzchn

    The 99% think they are different
    from the 1%.
    But they still have the greed,
    the anger,
    and the delusion
    that creates crisis.

    If the ?% worked on getting rid of
    greed, anger and delusion,
    who could harm them,
    who could manipulate them,
    who could control them?

    What laws and regulation,
    what plans and tactics are needed,
    for the liberated?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s true.

      We all have a little animus and anima (or yin and yang) in each of us.

      Similarly, we all have a little conservatism and liberalism.

      And a little of that 1% and 99% mentality in each of us.

  8. Klassy!

    re: welfare limits
    Yes, whoever could have forseen this happening? The Clinton economy was just so real.
    Of course, welfare moms and their children were exposed to the highly edifying nature of work!

    Can we get serious for once– we don’t need more job training and college for everyone– those ultimate kick -the -can -down- the- road -feel -good- by- doing -nothing answers.
    We need to raise the minimum wage now. We need a jobs program (not a stupid payroll cut tax) and we need direct cash assistance for families. Yes, they can get medicaid so when the stress of struggling to survive gets to them they may show up at the emergency room. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to remove that stress?

    1. ambrit

      My Dear Klassy!;
      Cheaper for whom? This is playing out somewhat like a comedy of manners. “The poor will always be with us.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Can one get cat RNA in one’s bloodstream, for that irresistible cat-ness, similar to getting food RNA, after living (no, not eating, you sadists) with a cat for a while?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          At least my cat tries.

          She tries (no elegant variant here) to impart her irresistible (again, notice no elegant variant here) RNA directly by scratching me, not just for shallow wounds, by the way, repeatedly.

          I think she really understands that it’s not the destination, but the journey that counts.

          I thank her for that lesson, if not her RNA.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    German ban on Good Friday dancing.

    I know a lot of partying-prone people will disagree with me, but I think it depends.

    If it’s pouring out there, I believe rain dances should be banned.

    For sure, war dances are not to be legal.

  10. taunger

    disappointed by the Occupy piece. the paragraphs on the end comparing strategy lead me to think the movement leaders, or at least that author, are missing basic organizing principles.

    There is no need to win or change hearts and minds. There are countless sympathetic individuals out there that simply need an outlet and encouragement. Just chose your style and organize around that.

  11. barrisj

    But wait, Robert Schiller (Robert Schiller??) reckons that Finance Capitalism will indeed be the saviour of our world:

    Robert Shiller: Financial Capitalism Is “Taking Over the World”…and That’s a Good Thing
    In his latest book, Finance and the Good Society, Yale Professor Robert Shiller takes a view that runs contrary to the popular (and populist) wisdom these days: Wall Street is good for society.

    “This time in history will be remembered as a time financial capitalism took over the world,” Shiller says. “A time when emerging countries became developed. The plan we’re on is going to yield a remarkable world in the future. It’s really about finance.”

    According to Shiller, no nation can truly prosper without modern financial institutions. Furthermore, “we have to think the financial institutions we have today are part of a long historic progress to a better world, a better civilization.”

    Given all that’s transpired since the crisis of 2008 — huge payouts for executives at faltering banks, taxpayer-funded bailouts and a slow recovery from deep recession — it’s fair to say Shiller is in the minority on this, at least among those willing to speak publicly.

    I suppose that the “JOBS” bill fits in nicely with this scenario.

  12. Hugh

    Glenn Greenwald’s post on Laura Poitras, a filmmaker whose documentaries challenge official -let’s call it what it is- propaganda, is important because it documents just how intrusive the surveillance state has already become. It is especially telling how she was threatened by DHS officials for taking notes during their interrogations and that her pen was taken away at one point because it was a “weapon”. That is today’s security state thinking. If the pen is mightier than the sword, then take away all the pens.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Hugh;
      I beg to differ. Any show of opposition, indeed, individuality, is to be crushed. It’s not the pen that ‘they’ fear. It is the thought behind that pen. Picking up the pen to chronicle the interrogation is a declaration of independent thought, which no authoritarian regime can allow. Solzhenitsyn wrote of having to memorize large parts of his impressions about the Gulag because the ‘authorities’ denied the prisoners the means to record anything mechanically.
      More and more we here in America take on the traits of Soviet Russia.

  13. p78

    “Gold crash on Fed tightening and euro salvation looks premature
    Until the rising reserve powers of Asia, Russia and the Gulf regain trust in the shattered credibility of the world’s two great fiat currencies – if they ever do – gold is unlikely to crash far or remain in the doldrums for long. `Peak gold’ cements the price floor in any case.

    …the root cause was the deformed structure of globalization over the last twenty years – a $10 trillion reserve accumulation by China and the emerging powers, with an investment bubble in manufacturing to flood saturated markets in the West, disguised for a while by debt bubbles in the Anglo-sphere and Club Med…

    In some respects it is now worse. China’s personal consumption has fallen to 37pc of GDP from 48pc a decade ago. The mercantilist powers (chiefly China and Germany) are still holding on to their trade surpluses through rigged currencies, the dirty dollar-peg and the dirty D-Mark peg (euro), exerting a contractionary bias on output in the deficit states…”

    1. KFritz

      Above=difficulty w/ predictive text–to continue…

      If the hack is private, Russia and/or Ukraine produce most of the world’s malware & originate a great deal of its online crime. US perps are less likely.

        1. KFritz

          If you had read the article you would have learned that most of the attacks against Georgia in the cyber phase of the recent Russian-Georgian war ‘originated’ in the US. What the article points out is that there are a large number of compromised computers in the US. The botmasters of the compromised computers are, by and large, not in the US. The programs used to compromise the computers are NOT written in the US. If you read Krebs on Security or Threatpost regularly, You’d know this.

          Your ad hominem tone stinks.

          1. bob

            Your ad hominem accusation is without merit. That stinks, like BS, as I said.

            You need bandwidth and interenet infrastucure to “attack”. This is most often found in the US, not 2nd and 3rd world countries. The “bots” may well be controlled from a COMPUTER outside the US, but the controller may/can be/ probably still is in the US, using proxies.

            Xenophopic nonsense.

            TRY making any sort of payment to a Georgian bank, if you can even resolve the address, your bank will bounce it. Then, go to georgia. Try to find interenet access first. Then try to get anywhere on the “american” web. It simply doesn’t happen. Most large US/international websites won’t even allow a connection from one of these supposed “hot spots”. Not because they are threating, but becuase not too many people in those “jurisditions” make enough money to be worthy of bandwidth.

  14. scraping_by

    RE: Cash

    The metaphor of going to a cashless society as the Enclosure of the Commons is pretty apt. Traditional strictures and structures work reasonably well in a day to day society. It’s a small group of connected elites who benefit from shifting over to purely record-based system. Records as so easily kept away from the masses.

    And besides, getting rid of local cash in favor of industrial/financial drawing rights worked great for the Euro, right?

  15. skippy

    Back in early 2008, the Australian economy was going well. With the property market booming many businesses took out loans from Bankwest, a small but aggressive lender based in Perth.

    Then came the GFC. With its parent company in Britain facing dire financial problems, Bankwest customers began withdrawing money from their savings accounts. The Reserve Bank was worried and the Commonwealth Bank saw an opportunity. Moving fast the Commonwealth took over Bankwest for the bargain basement price of $2.1 billion.

    From everyone’s point of view, including Australia’s central bank, it looked like a good deal. But what happened next shocked customers.

    Aware that the GFC was driving down property values and slowing the economy, Bankwest’s new management did an audit of loans. Valuations were re-assessed; businesses called to account and in some cases loans were terminated. The Commonwealth Bank says both it and its subsidiary acted properly at all times – but did the bank act too harshly? Could some of these businesses have been saved?

    Four Corners talks to a developer, a couple who dreamed of owning a holiday motel as a retirement nest egg and a publican who ran the classic country pub. All thought they had a bank they could rely on – but all lost their businesses.

    Skippy… Like watching a bulb grow dimmer.

    1. F. Beard

      Banks are there when you don’t need them and gone when you do.

      Banking: The ultimate fair-weather friend.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What about credit unions?

        You own the ones you are a member of.

        You get to create money yourself.

        1. F. Beard

          You get to create money yourself. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Yep. So credit union members are counterfeiters too.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Let me mark that down. You are against credit unions.

            Only common stock share then?

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I have a question about currency based on common stock shares.

            Can I ask you?

      2. skippy

        Fair weather friends? The list is a bit larger than that and some of the listed, higher up… methinks.

        Personally I put gawd first, takes all the up side and none of the down side, kinda like a bank…. eh.

        Second would be corporations, feed you poison, toxify and reduce a planet to a tip, wont pay workers under a certain socially vertical bar a living wage, hire and utilize the most cutting edge practitioners of behavioral science to infiltrate the youngest and most vulnerable minds, bending them to their desire, chain them for life, and forbid that they are dragged in front of the citizens court, for any crime, they walk with a slap on the wrist, no personal responsibility save the occasional sacrificial goat.

        Skippy… hell they pay them with golden hand shakes or medals of freedom! Banks are a problem because capital is free to do what ever it likes.

        1. F. Beard

          Personally I put gawd first, takes all the up side and none of the down side, skippy

          You should watch that Mel Gibson movie, “The Passion” if you think that. I don’t have the guts myself. Also, read Isaiah 53 sometimes.

          1. Skippy

            Um your suggestion of a crappy Mel Gibson movie (probably hoping for a sainthood down the road, good luck Mel) is like Monsoors “look at the pretty lady’s dancing, aren’t they beautiful) trope. Not buying, if you haven’t noticed yet.

            Skippy… FYI have read back to front many times, plus more than one printing and lots of other interesting stuff. I’ve linked some academic papers to you in the past but, your the only arbitrator on the planet.

            PS. Just had a Q & A show on ABC down here, Dawson and Cardinal Pell (highest RCC bloke downunder), bit of a fissile in my book. Although 75% of voters agreed, religion did not make the world a better place.

            PSS. For you thumper… “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33 Skip here… sum just need it I guess… short cuts.

  16. p78,1518,826387,00.html

    “Merkel Allowed Big Public-Sector Pay Hike

    … had agreed to a 6.3-percent pay hike for federal and municipal employees over a two-year period. Germany hasn’t seen that kind of increase for a long time.

    …Germany’s 20 million retirees. They are among the CDU/CSU’s most loyal voters, and this year they were given a two-percent increase in their state pensions.

    The conservatives are moving to the left, as the subject of the minimum wage also demonstrates. …
    The CDU/CSU is close to completing its universal minimum wage project, which is to be set by a commission of employers and employees, with an arbitrator reaching a decision, if necessary. A task force within the CDU/CSU parliamentary group plans to officially unveil the model after Easter.

    …The wage agreement for public-sector employees alone will cost the federal government €1.7 billion a year. The child care subsidy with which Merkel wants to delight the CSU and housewives will cost another €1.9 billion. And the costs will grow even more if the women in the CDU/CSU parliamentary group get their way and childcare is reflected more strongly in pensions. This alone would end up costing €3.5 billion.”

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