Links 10/15/12

Clever dolphins using sea sponges to catch fish ABC (Australia). Headline hides the real point: Dolphins understand intellectual property! They are treating their sponge technology as a trade secret (other stories have discussed how the sponge using dolphins are keeping their little trick to themselves).

Picking an ancient brain Nature

The child’s skull that reveals man was a meat eater far earlier than we thought Daily Mail (furzy mouse)

Cannabis ‘no worse than junk food’, says report Independent (Lambert)

Felix Baumgartner Successfully Lands After Highest Freefall from Edge of Space Science Daily (Lambert)

China’s September electricity production weak MacroBusiness

Secessionist wave sweeps Belgium Financial Times. As Richard Smith points out, don’t get too excited. This merely changes its degree of unlikeliness a tad. More detail: Belgique : après leur percée, les séparatistes flamands pensent déjà aux législatives Le Monde

Lithuanians vote out austerity government Aljazeera

IMF jumps ship on Europe MacroBusiness

Sweden: The new model Economist (Swedish Lex)

US Woman Takes on Banks Over Libor Financial Times (via CNBC, thanks to Richard Smith)

Will central banks cancel government debt? Gavyn Davies, Financial Times (Scott)

‘Crowding Out’ is Coming to Get You Global Economic Intersection

The Man Who Would Be Ex-President Kevin Baker, Harpers (Carol B)

Texas schools punish students who refuse to be tracked with microchips RT (furzy mouse)

Elections Without Consequences masaccio, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Cheri Honkala: My response to the VP debate USA Today (Lambert)

Bigoted Christian Group Opposes Anti-Bullying Day, Says It Promotes ‘Homosexual Lifestyle’ Gawker. You cannot make this stuff up.

$950,000 Win for NYC Workers Invigorates Supply-Chain-Justice Movement Michelle Chen, Firedoglake

Koch Employee Says Billionaire Kidnapped & Interrogated Him Courthouse News

Yield hunters look to tier two debt Financial Times (Joe Costello)

U.S. Oil Boom Falls Short of Pump Wall Street Journal (Joe Costello)

A.C.L.U. to Sue Morgan Stanley Over Mortgage Loans New York Times (Mark Ames). And where is Schneiderman?

Neoclassical economists are fuelling neo-Nazism Steve Keen, Business Spectator (Chuck L, nathan)

Are Businesses Quietly Preparing for a Financial Apocalypse? Wolf Richter. Not sure this tells the whole story. Even before the crisis, companies were net saving, which had been heretofore unheard-of in an expansion. Even if businesses wanted to wind down their cash hoards, they could buy back stock rather than invest, or buy existing companies.

Study links eating chocolate to winning Nobels USA Today (furzy mouse)

* * *

Lambert here:

Mission elapsed time: T + 37 and counting*

“ESTRAGON: I can’t go on like this. VLADIMIR: That’s what you think.” — Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

This Week with George Stephanopolous as told to The Bobblespeak Translations: “TAPPER: also audience please clap for badass moderator Martha Raddatz Audience: yaaaay”

Walmart. Management memos: “Legal experts said the confidential memo shows an unprecedented level of caution from a company that has taken harsh stances towards employee attempts to organize in the past. According to [Cornel’s Lance] Compa, the memo reflects Walmart’s concern over the 20-some charges of unfair labor practices that Walmart workers filed with the NLRB over the past 8 weeks in concurrence with the strikes. The charges include dozens of allegations from employees who claim they were subjected to harassment, cut hours and other disciplinary actions when Walmart higher-ups learned that they supported OUR Walmart.” … Solidarity: “‘A lot of associates, we have to use somewhat of a buddy system,’ Dallas worker Colby Harris said last night. ‘We loan each other money during non-paycheck weeks just to make it through to the next week when we get paid. Because we don’t have enough money after paying bills to even eat lunch.’ Harris, who’s now on strike, said that after three years at Walmart, he makes $8.90 an hour in the produce department, and workers at his store have faced ‘constant retaliation’ for speaking up.” … Class warfare: “The forces these workers are pushing against are daunting. The six top heirs to the fortune of Walmart founder Sam Walton alone have a combined fortune that’s greater than the total worth of the entire bottom 30% of all Americans, and after the US and Chinese militaries it’s the biggest employer on earth.” … Wage theft: “On the list of complaints, asking workers at a lower pay grade to fill in, in a department with a higher pay grade, without paying them the difference. ‘We’re not sure what’s going to happen when we go back, but you know, we’re tired, and we want to have our voices heard out here,’ said [Jeff Landry].” That “we’re tired” keeps cropping up. Walmart’s corporate motto seems to be: “Tighten until it cracks, back off 1/2 turn.”

AK. Corruption: “[Daily News reporter Rich Mauer] wrote that Bell did not report the offer of a bribe to law enforcement authorities. Told that the offer of an engineering contract in return for his support of the prison as an assemblyman could be a crime, [aspiring state senator Bob Bell] replied: ‘It is?'”

CA. Legalization: “Battered by competition from indoor cultivators around the state and industrial-size operations that have invaded the North Coast counties, many of the small-time pot farmers who created the Emerald Triangle fear that their way of life of the last 40 years is coming to an end.” Legalization may, alas, mean corporatization.

FL. Privatization: “More than 4,000 emails among staff at the Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obtained by The Palm Beach Post, show how a disease outbreak became secondary as Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s staff advanced his political priorities to downsize and privatize much of the department.” An important story, and not for partisan reasons. …. Voting: “Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher told WLRN’s Rick Stone that each of those [misprinted absentee] 60,000 ballots ‘will have to be examined, the intent of each voter discerned, and the vote transferred to a properly printed ballot so it can be read by a tabulation scanner.'” So the value by introducing two new sources of error is what? … Water: “The spring-fed [Wekiva River] is tainted with pollution from fertilizer and sewage that has caused a smothering growth of harmful algae. At the same time, utilities are pumping significant amounts of Floridan Aquifer water that would otherwise flow from springs into the Wekiva, leaving what many fear is a river too shriveled for wildlife and plants.”

LA. Fracking: “The [Assumption Parish] sinkhole has grown about four acres since it started at the beginning of August. Jeff Dubinsky flew over the sinkhole yesterday and noted the intense petroleum fumes and odors: [T]he heaviest and strongest I have ever experienced in all my time in LA. Perhaps even worse still was that the odor was hovering directly over the community” (photos).

MD. Walmart: “Walmart will not enter into written agreements pledging to address specific concerns raised in the community where a new store is planned south of Bel Air.”

MT. Police state: “A 12-year-old girl suffered burns to one side of her body when a flash grenade went off next to her as a police SWAT team raided a West End home Tuesday morning.”

NC. Charters: “The voucher plan proposed would have allowed corporations to donate their tax share to a scholarship granting organization, which would then provide a scholarship for a low-income child to go to a private school, even a private religious institution. This would not have been a tax credit or a write-off, it would have been a dollar-for-dollar tax break; the corporations would have completed their tax responsibility to the state. This means money that could go to essential government functions, including schools, would be used instead to send students to a private institution.” Wow.

NY. Charters: “Parent groups in New York are trying to block the release of [confidential] student data to an entity that includes Wireless Generation, a technology company owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, in collaboration with the Gates Foundation.” What could go wrong? … Corruption: “‘Frackademia:’ [O]ne of the lesser-known offshoots of the Scaife family foundations, key bankrollers of the climate change denial machine, may potentially soothe SUNY Buffalo’s budget woes with funding for the university-connected Shale Resources and Society Institute.” It’s a win-win!

OH. Voting: “Clearing the way for the Supreme Court to act swiftly, state officials in OH on Saturday night filed their reply brief, completing briefing on whether the Court will allow the state to restrict early voting in advance of election day, November 6. The state renewed its plea to block lower court orders that required that all voters be allowed to cast votes on the final weekend before November 6.”‘ … Voting: “Since the Supreme Court reasonably could rule either way on the stay application, one might think it naïve to expect all nine Justices–from Ginsburg to Scalia, who disagree about so much else–to end up taking the same position in this case. Nonetheless, I think it important that they do so.” 5-4, here we come… Fracking: “The ODNR has permitted a horizontal fracking well inside the Meander Reservoir in H’s Mahoning Valley without consulting the Ohio EPA or the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District. Today, activists with Frackfree Mahoning Valley formed a blockade at the entrance of the site. When asked what elected officials are doing, Allison Monroe from Ohio, replied, ‘State and federal government isn’t protecting us, so we have to protect ourselves.’” … Voting: “In a super-close Ohio race like Carter’s in 1976, southeast Ohio coal counties can help nudge someone across the finish line. In southeast Ohio, a few votes here, a few votes there, and a Democrat could lose a tight statewide race. So, when the polls close and attention turns to election central in Columbus (the SoS’s office), Obama and Romney aides surely will keep one eye on Ohio’s coal-county election boards.” You have been warned.

PA. Fracking: “A new analysis from the USGS of two counties in PA found that natural gas extraction creates ‘potentially serious patterns of disturbance on the landscape.’ Wellpads, roads, pipelines and waste pits are clearcuts in forests. Cumulatively they are very destructive to the natural ecosystem. [USGS:] ‘Agricultural and forested areas are being converted to natural gas extraction disturbance’ and the effect is ‘substantial.’

VT. Legalization: “The magazine has identified Shumlin as one of the top 10 ‘Best Politicians on Pot Reform.’ It cites Shumlin’s participation in a petition asking the DEA to classify marijuana as a ‘Schedule 2’ drug rather than a ‘Schedule 1’ one. (‘Schedule 1’ drugs are illegal; ‘Schedule 2’ refers to prescription drugs.)”

WA. Legalization: “A 22-year-old man with severe food allergies died in the Snohomish County jail after a pot bust, and now his mother says she wants to know why he died.”

WI. Corruption: “Kevin Kavanaugh’s felony [theft] conviction brings the total number of Walker associates and aides who’ve been convicted of felonies to three, with former Walker deputy chief of staff Tim Russell still to stand trial on his felony theft charges.” That does seem like rather a lot. … Food: “[F]or 41 percent of the households that rely on the Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin food bank, the coming cold can mean a difficult a choice between putting food on the table or heating the house.” … Unions: “Act 10 functionally ended collective bargaining for public employees, including about UW-Madison staff members, academic staff, teaching and research assistants and faculty. Act 32 ended civil service protections for UW employees and required the Madison campus to create a personnel system separate from the UW System. The personnel plan released last month abolishes job security by seniority in the event of a layoff, preference in hiring for new jobs or transfers to a new shift, and the right to a hearing before an impartial arbitrator in the event of a dispute. Rather than discussing pay and insurance benefits before a decision is made, the plan says that it will ask for the staff’s opinion after the plan has been developed by management.” When it’s the sucking leeches in the administrations who should be fired, en masse, so universities can return to their missions of teaching and scholarship.

Outside baseball. Walmart: “The Bluebird card [Wal-Mart and American Express] unveiled on Monday targets Americans lacking access to many banking services. It may also tempt other customers with a model that’s neither credit nor typical debit. But with deposits uninsured [!!], regulators will have to watch closely.” Which I’m sure they will. Not.

The trail. Political science: “[Drake political scientist Dennis Goldford: [T]he 2016 caucuses start Nov. 7, so [Obama’s] basically a lame duck. We’re really in for a rotten time. We really are on pretty much any issues you want to talk about.” … Redistricting: “[T]he best approach incorporates both district partisanship and incumbency, and uses past election results as a guide for how important each is likely to be. When we ran those numbers, we found redistricting was a wash. The structural advantage for Republicans this year stems from incumbency, not redistricting.” … Cell phones: “Pew Research notes that approximately 10 percent of cellphone respondents live in a different state than their area code implies. Even a pollster willing to pay a premium to call cellphones would miss these people in a geographically targeted survey. The 2011 data indicate that 5.2% of all 18 to 24 year-olds and 4.0% of all 25 to 34 year-olds moved across state lines in the prior year. [S]tates like CO, NV, NH, and VA have seen above-average levels of domestic migration in recent years.” …. Swing states: “Two-thirds of battleground state maps have changed over the past month, yielding 10 different maps across 12 different media outlets. Overall, an average of nine states and 116.5 Electoral College votes populate the dozen battleground state maps – down slightly from an average of 119.6 votes one month ago. Three states currently appear as toss-ups on the maps of all 12 news outlets under analysis: CO, FL, and VA. A month ago five states were universally considered battlegrounds: CO, FL, IA, OH, and VA.” … Sheeple: “Strategists affiliated with the Obama and Romney campaigns say they have access to information about the personal lives of voters at a scale never before imagined. And they are using that data to try to influence voting habits — in effect, to train voters to go to the polls through subtle cues, rewards and threats in a manner akin to the marketing efforts of credit card companies and big-box retailers.” Uber-creepy. And bipartisan!

The Obama. Early voting: “Obama leads Romney by 59% to 31% among early voters, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks.” … The Boss and The Big Dog: “But Springsteen will not be alone [campaigning for Obama] in OH. He will be appearing alongside former president Bill Clinton, who has been hitting the campaign trail for Obama with increasingly frequent speeches and rallies.”

* Slogan of the day: Completely Smash The Romney Counter-Revolutionary Line!

* * *

Antidote du jour:

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  1. carl

    The link for the (infuriating) Montana SWAT raid story leads to the Louisiana sinkhole story.

    MT story can be viewed here:

    Sounds like a bad raid all around. Botched recon, botched deployment. No charges or arrests, no meth lab. The cops say they took evidence, but I’d wager the ‘evidence’ was just the residents’ personal painkillers. Somewhere a paid snitch is having a laugh at the cops’ expense.

  2. Lambert Strether

    That’s quite a take-down in Harpers of The Obama’s debate performance (assuming point-shaving and WWF tag-team style fakery wasn’t going on*:

    [Romney] was able to put on a convincing act last night, visibly gaining confidence and command with each sally. By the end of the night, he seemed to have channeled not only Ronald Reagan’s genial manner and poise but even his voice.

    Glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed that Romney shapeshifted into the Reagan-esque, husky tone, if one can shape-shift a tone.

    NOTE * I mean, it was almost like Romney passed the Big Bird baton to the D team, wasn’t it? Exactly like Biden passed the “sighs” baton to the R team. Perhaps in Tuesday’s debate somebody will leap into the audience, or take a folding chair to Candy Crowley. But then I’m foily.

    1. Ms G

      Haven’t you heard? DnR have pooled funds and hired Iggy Pop to jump-fly into the audience. After which DnR are (together) unfurling a big banner of unity with the new Duo-Poly slogan: “It’s all about flying — And with us you will Fly High!”

    2. synopticist

      What’s the mystery?

      Romney lied his way through the debate as he has throughout his entire campaign, and Obama was the same gutless centre-right pussy he’s always been.

    3. Garrett Pace

      That Harper’s deal is a bunch of hot air.

      “Once ensconced in the Oval Office, Romney will do exactly what he says he will. He really will launch an air strike and probably an invasion of Iran. He really will extract every last ounce of the fossil fuels he and his party love so much, no matter what that does to the climate. He really will privatize as much of the country as he can—our education system, our municipal services, everything. And he really will convert your Social Security, your Medicare, and your Medicaid into vouchers.”

      And we’ll be worse off how?

      This is just another get-out-the-vote deal for disaffected dems. Now a vote for Obama is a signal telling him to man up! Yee ha!

      1. synopticist

        “And we’ll be worse off how?”

        Well, there’ll be a big war with Iran, and everything will be privatised, and 99% of the country will be hit even harder in the pocket so that the 1% can get richer. Plus the Christian Taliban will be empowered.

        Another 4 years for Obama won’t make anything better. But 4 for Romney WILL make things much, much worse.

        1. mad as hell.

          The faster everything goes to the hell the faster change will come. Let’s face it Obama gets elected again all the neoliberals will fall in line and root for the drone-in-chief. While he’s shooting funeral processions, he’s cutting SS and medicare. Meanwhile the democratic party is saying how cool our black president is.

          Now if we have Arch Duke Mitt elected things turn to shit real quick. If we are still here after having starting a war with Iran, the economy begins to tank because of his austerity program. Healthcare is kicked backed to the sixties. The climate gets progressively worse. Wall street continues raping and looting at a feverish pitch. I think even our neoliberals will be more prone to act and start taking it to the streets.

          You should never forget how Obama abandoned Wisconsin during the recall process and now is welcomed back to the state by the thousands when he finally does show up and asks for votes.

          Heads they win,tails we lose. Either way it’s TROUBLE.

          1. diplodocus

            worse is better… the pessimist that i am is completely seduced by this mantra… i guess it’s easy being a relatively young, healthy fellow…

          2. Lambert Strether

            I hate the “worse is better” argument because so many have hostages to fortune that slogan doesn’t take into account.

            On the other hand, maybe it’s just to take the hit and hope for a better outcome. Personally, I’m fine with the Democrats having lost the House in 2010; gridlock is better than a Grand Bargain, after all.

          3. DSP

            Have you thought of a late run viral campaign;
            “Vote ’em both out!Vote the third Candidate,whoever ,wherever as a protest.”?
            It might take.

        2. Walter Wit Man

          No, things will continue to get worse under Obama OR Romney. War with Iran is just as likely under Obama. Probably more likely, actually.

          Obama is simply provides a different flavor because he suckers so many people into believing he’s liberal and not the conservative warmongering prick he is.

          It’s good cop, bad cop. Obama is the good cop Democrat and Romney the bad cop Republican.

          You get hope under Obama or fear under Romney. Both are very effective of pursuing the SAME AGENDA.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        Yes, but voting for Obama is only the first step. Then we have to go out and make Obama do it.

        Gitmo is really our fault for not making him close it; so is the escalation in Afghanistan, as well as the drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and the war in Libya; so are the unamended SHAFTA, the three newest rigged traded deals, and the TPP; so are the lack of fraud and war crimes indictments, the NDAA, the assassinations, the Insurance Racket Bailout Act and the Cat Food Commission; and so will be the coming cuts in Social Security and the war on Iran. Obama’s hands are tied; but just imagine all that we can accomplish in his second term if we only act!

        1. Ms G

          It’s the ultimate expression of the Horatio Alger myth — you 99%ers don’t get representation (once you elected me) because you just didn’t work hard enough at it. Unlike those .01% percenters who sweated blood and guts to shovel giganormous planet-size bundles of cash into my office.

        2. neo-realist

          Gitmo is our fault because we didn’t make Obama do it????? Every time the left makes demands on the Administration, they’re either told to shut up, or insulted, or “no, don’t pressure Obama right now”, he doesn’t have the votes from Congress, or support from some other faction. Always excuses for the Great Deceiver.

          At the very least, make him come clean with the base on SS and Medicare. You made those deals with the conservatives and the Pete Petersons of the world did you???

  3. Goin' South

    Now a fourth player in the Walmart saga: the WOBS!!!

    From a good post at FDL–

    $950,000 Win for NYC Workers Invigorates Supply-Chain-Justice Movement

    A few words about their strategy:

    The idea is to elucidate the interconnectedness of food chain labor struggles: It starts with farms, like the tomato fields where the Coalition of Immokalee Workers holds both growers and grocers accountable for labor exploitation, and it moves through warehouse and processor activism all the way up to high-end city restaurants, where the Restaurant Opportunities Center mobilizes both workers and consumers to fight racial discrimination and unhealthy working conditions lurking beneath the white tablecloths.

    Given the current climate for organized labor–with unions savaged by politicians and ensnared by the labyrinthine National Labor Relations Board bureaucracy–these nascent movements need to organize creatively to stay ahead of the corporate food chain. “I don’t think we’ll ever arrive at place where workers who are pushed up against the wall will not stick up and fight collectively for a better future,” Gross says. “So I think we’re going to see a lot of different innovations and experimentation.”

    There’s no set recipe for protest; the secret is just to keep your boss guessing about what’s coming next.”

    The quoted Daniel Gross is a NYC Wob (IWW) who was active in the IWW’s Starbucks Workers Union organizing. An interesting 2007 interview with him talking about solidarity unionism is found on LibCom.

    More about the strategic approach is found on Focus on the Food Chain website here:

    If you’re in the NYC area and want to get involved, the NYC IWW General Membership Branch info is here:

    1. Lambert Strether

      I suppose, when you think about it, that one big supply chain implies one big “union”/association/parallel sovereignty thingie. “Supply chain justice” — pronouncing from the Barcalounger, I grant, but we do what we’re good at — is great and connects neatly to the concept of who is to judge how long the supply chain should be, as with local food sovereignty and so forth. It’s so, so great, so exhilirating to see all these ideas coming “from nowhere” meaning evolved far from the maddening crowd of the political class and those one or two degrees of separation from it.

      1. Goin' South

        And we’re desperate for new ideas since the whole certification, bargaining agent thing is as dead a dead end as there is.

        BTW, I looked for an email for you and couldn’t locate it. I assume my email is available in the back end here since the comment form collects it. I’ll be happy to send some links if you’ll send me an email.

    2. Ms G

      This is the first piece of news that I have read in recent memory that did not lead me to want to stick pencils in my eyes. Thanks, Goin’South, for your reports on these developments in solidarity unionism and the Wobbly involvement.

  4. RanDomino

    WI: Of course the civil protections are being removed; their existence was a major justification for the elimination of collective bargaining. Not that I have any sympathy left for workers who aren’t willing to actually fight.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya

    Are you by chance using Akismet here?

    Because I used to comment here, and then a couple weeks ago everything I type is going into the filter.

  6. Garrett Pace

    Cannabis “no worse than junk food”?

    Which is to say, terrible? Laden with dubious chemicals with unknown long-term effects? A marker of poor health, poverty and shortened lives?

    I don’t necessarily disagree with some of the commission’s conclusions, but it is funny that I can’t really tell if they are dignifying drug use here or denigrating it.

    Oh, UK, who has a government agency to provide comparisons between the relative dangers of gambling and marijuana use. You’re wonderful.

  7. Garrett Pace

    Anti-bullying programs accused of being crypto-pink

    Fascinating. Can the people of the AFA really feel that reducing the bullying of gay kids is a harbinger of bad things? They have a funny way of picking their fights.

    I view the greater kindness and ordinary human dignity that is being accorded to homosexuals as an unqualified good, and I’m sad that it took so long for this to happen, and had to involve such a long and chaotic dignity movement.

      1. scraping_by

        Christianity, if done correctly, is one of the most important antidotes to unrelieved materialism. As in the University of Chicago, the Koch brothers, the Tea Party, etc.

        It’s a hardy weed, difficult to eradicate directly, so it’s best to make it a state religion, when the rank and file desert it in droves.

        Seems to be working….

  8. RT

    I just finished reading Steve Keen’s rant on the theoclassicals (thx for the link). Quote:

    “Instead, both political inertia and the unwillingness of neoclassical economists to admit they were wrong has made this a race to the bottom: since each round of austerity fails to reach its targeted reduction in the government deficit to GDP ratio, another round of austerity is ordered – and so on till infinitum.

    Or Golden Dawn; whichever comes first.”!

    Yeah, and who do you think is playing the role of hapless Brüning this time?

    Anyways, this came to my mind immediately: There are distinguished economists out there who do not hesitate to publicly call a politician a “lying liar” if they see fit. Why, then, is there no forceful gathering of honest economists calling any fellow colleague a “lying liar” when it is already absolutely clear that they can’t all be right b/c of fundamentally contradicting positions even on fundamental economic questions like debt and growth?

    If the economics profession is not calling itself to step up to the task soon, however painful it might be, to identify and purge everybody out of academia who – for scientific reasons – deserves this kind of treatment (as lying politicians deserve to be called liars) they _all_ are not deserving any audience anymore.

    Meanwhile, millions are suffering under economic hardship but the economists just keep on parading, self-praising, fingerpointing at each other, and pulling rank. Oh, and look, two new laureates just entered the show … (sorry, I’ve no idea who they are and what their works are worth but I am not at all interested anymore). Dishonesty prevailed in the decaying house of economic science and _all_ its inhabitants are unwilling to purge it, clean it up, overhaul and repair it, hence, the profession as such don’t deserve a feature like a prize “in memory of Alfred Nobel”. They can’t all be right but yet they all remained unchallenged in their field and their positions. That isn’t science, it can’t be that 1+1=2 for some, but 1+1=-50,000 for others at the same time. Ridiculous. Remember Scholes and Merton? A “beautiful formula”, a wonderful prize for both, but disaster for the real world… disgusting.

    1. constant

      When evidence strips one back to their ideological core
      The historical record shows that it has failed to accurately describe what happens when governments engage in fiscal austerity. Fiscal austerity was always going to worsen the crisis, because the notion is built on a series of lies.

      Public deficits do not inevitably cause inflation, nor do they impose crippling debt burdens on our children and grandchildren. Deficits do not cause interest rates to rise, choking private spending. Governments cannot run out of money.

      The empirical world is continually spitting out data that allows us to judge the veracity of these claims and counter-claims. Since the onset of the crisis, the neoliberal narrative has run into some inconvenient facts. Interest rates remain low. In most of the developed world, inflation is falling and where it is rising, it is due energy and food costs rising rather than excessive deficits.

      But what about Ricardian Equivalence? Should we not be seeing private sector confidence and spending rising by now – especially in the UK which is now 3 budgets into austerity and in Ireland which has been hacking away in the name of Ricardo since early 2009?

      The evidence that the British government’s theoretical model is wrong is compelling. The economy is now back in recession and consumer and investor confidence is low and private spending remains subdued.

      Fear of inflation scales new heights

      These characters have been making erroneous predictions since the onset of the crisis. I think the evidence will continue to render their story irrelevant.

      ***** A clear view thanks to Bill Mitchell

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Inflation falling…energy and food costs rising.

        Funny way of measuring inflation by the 0.01%, I think.

        It goes like this:

        Food more expensive…no inflation. Everything is fine. They can eat chicken instead of beef.

        Gas costing more than $5/gallon – hey no inflation. No problemo. Throw more blankets instead of turning on the heater.

        Workers getting paid more…OH MY GOD! WE HAVE A BIG INFLATION PROBLEM HERE! (We, i.e. the banksters, watch its tiniest upticks like hawks)

        If that’s the case, we need to have inflation.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            More expensive housing is OK as long as wages can keep up.

            If we ever see shrinking corporate profits due to wage pressure (thank God we don’t have inflation now as there is no wage pressure!), this is how the substitution effect will unfold: Instead of buying Lamborghini’s, they buy Ferrari’s.

            And this is how we can pay workers more while keeping ‘the luxury living cost index’ low.

            A win-win for everyone.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Normally I leave my typos undisturbed. What is done is done.

            By here, I want to say that it should be ‘the adjusted luxury living cost index.’

            It’s substitution-effect adjusted.

          3. Bert_S

            I think expensive housing is worse than that. Wages have to keep up AND your job needs to be guaranteed for the life of a 30 year mortgage.

            But we definitely need a much more real CPI calc. And the Fed needs to think about what it is they are “fighting”, and whether monetary policy has anything to do with anything. They don’t seem to know if they are fighting debt deflation or lack of agg demand, let alone consider if they should, and just seem to believe they can target the last bubble economy as the new baseline and bubble blow our way back to that nebulous goal. Like if you have some clowns trying to blow up popped balloons, then new balloons inflate somewhere else, unpopped balloons continue to grow just fine, then they applaud themselves that the economy has recovered. Not too surprising that the winning sectors are all unrepresented, or underweighted, in current inflation measures. Plus offshoring sure helps keep current measures low.

    2. Paul Walker

      A principal aspect in the study of economics is that it supposedly removes the whole concept of ethics and by extension the human condition from the equation in the attempt to render the whole endeavor amoral. This brand of amoral morality knows no wrong EXCEPT acknowledging the human condition in human economic affairs.

      1. scraping_by

        Also true of the practice of law.

        The only ethic is the interest of the person paying.

        Which means that if someone pays more…

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        To Milton Friedman, 99% humans were interchangeable labor units whose human needs and desires were of no consequence. He ruthlessly applied his Shock Doctrine theory in Chile, thanks to his buddy Premier Kissoff, a another fascist creep who sees humans as disposable units of no real value to the Neoconlib System of Extraction Capitlism apart from their provision of “labor on demand.” They are thrilled to see Americans reduced to slaves doing “piecework.” They had/have contempt for humanity, as they have eaten the world ruthlessly as Olympian Gods. They are NOT “good for the Jews.” Shame, everlasting shame upon them, for this is their just desert.

  9. Ms G

    Re NY Charters — Parents trying to block release of student data to Murdoch-owned Wireless Generation. This story is part of one of the biggest corruption stories to explode (not loudly enough) during Mike Mayor-for-Ever Bloomberg paid-for and stolen 3d term.

    First Mike put buddy and financier Joel Klein in charge of schools. Here’s a recent profile of Klein unmasking his “kid from the Bronx” myth.

    Then Klein gave Wireless Generation (i.e. Murdoch’s new Education Company) a multi-multi millions dollar sole source contract to, basically, computerize all city public school kids’ (and parents’) data. (Sounds really education-related, doesn’t it?)issues

    After Klein gave the contract to Murdoch Klein ileft the City to become (hold hats) — CEO of Wireless Generation and pretty much the guiy responsible for the NYC contract. Then, another few seconds later the City’s Comptroller (much to Mike’s displeasure) canceled it because Murdoch’s, er, “privacy issues” (like illegalling accessing and using people’s private information) were just hitting the front pages of world news.

    The City quietly re-let the contract for student data aggregation this past summer to a few consulting companies, notably Boston Consulting Group — the main “prime” contractor. Guess who BCG’s subcontractor (who will be doing all the work) is? If you guessed WIRELESS GENERATION, you get an oreo.

    See here for this astonishing underhanded re-instatement of Murdoch in NYC public school kids’ lives.

    See here for a good chronology of the developing scandal in 2011 (from a NYC public school kids parents blog.)

  10. change agent

    between cannabis and a Twinkie, I’ll choose the more natural homegrown cannabis and come back for the Twinkie anyway.

    1. Valissa

      Agreed that cannabis is a gateway drug to junk food. Personally I prefer potato chips to twinkies, and they are much more natural. Potatos, oil, salt. I saw how they make them on the show “How It’s Made”… they are very minimally processed.

      1. curlydan

        I would say that’s true for potato chips as the end product and not the generic term “potato chips”. Read the ingredients list for Doritos Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch “potato chips”–starts to get a little bit scary.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        But Lambert, aren’t “Twinkies” keepers? Don’t they last for 100 years without spoiling?

  11. Valissa

    RE: Texas schools punish students who refuse to be tracked with microchips
    Kirsten Bokenkamp of the ACLU told the San Antonio Express-News earlier this year that her organization expected to challenge the board’s decision to use the tracking system, but the school went ahead with the program undeterred. Steve Hernandez told WND that he approached the ACLU abour representing his daughter’s case, but Rebecca Robertson of a local branch of the organization said that, “the ACLU of Texas will not be able to represent you or your daughter in this matter,” saying the case did not meet the group’s criteria.

    What’s up with ACLU? This should be red meat for them!

    1. taunger

      putting together a winning case is very detail oriented. sometimes a good story just isn’t enough.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Eating chocolate and winning Nobels.

    How about meat eaters? Are they more likely win?

    Should we make North Koreans eat chocolate instead of rice, so they become more likely to win Nobel Prizes in Peace?

  13. Paul Walker

    Efforts to decriminalize marijuana will fall flat in the UK and US simply because the TBTF need the extra margin illegality provides in converting these income streams, just like other aspects of the global “on the left” economy.

    1. Ms G

      Yes indeed. The Corrections Corporation of America’s and all supporting businesses must continued to be fed.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Yes, Ms G, that’s “labour” competitive with Chinese labor. The Road to Bangladesh is well traveled in America now (hear Confederate Rebel Yell).

    2. curlydan

      It’s always a bit disheartening to see these measures start out leading in the polls then get pulled down to Earth through ad blitzes or, if they do pass, federal intervention.

  14. charles sereno

    As I went through the Links, I was hoping/dreading not to find out any more about Felix Baumgartner, even if from a useful source (Science Daily). I’d definitely be more interested in someone barrelling over Niagara Falls (if it all). Those guys(?) at least weren’t assured of their lives, money, and fame like this noble Austrian following in the footsteps of his famous countryman, Arnold. Oh, the good old days, when the name Vienna itself would set the mind reeling! [Aside: In mid-comment, I just discovered that Annie Taylor was the first person to conquer the Falls in a barrel!]

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      “Baumgartner” – Lambert, isn’t Justice Alito’s wife a Baumgartner?

      You just never know how the DNA sinecures will work out from age to age.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Dolphins and intellectual property.

    I guess an interesting question is, well, not which came first, intellect or intellectual property, but does intellect always comes with the need to monopolize it?

    Wisdom is not that. Wisdom is like, hey, you can have it too.

    But I suspect intellect always means monopolization, because the lack of intellect seems to come always without monopolization. The so-called low IQ people I know of are always the most generous people. They always share everything they have and we think they are ‘stupid.’ Maybe those with intellect but no wisdom are stupid.

    1. Neo-Realist

      Wisdom is like, I’ve been there before and on the basis of my experience, I think I need to monopolize it i.e., copyright that.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe we have to compromise a little, to take a few steps down from wisdom, but that’s not what I see as wisdom, more like tips on how to survive in the current system.

  16. Max424

    George is back with some more World War Two conspiracy stuff. This time, he’s claiming that Pearl Harbor was a set-up!

    When I was young, one of my Dad’s best friends, a war buddy, Uncle Jim, used to whisper to me, when Pop was out of ear shot, “Don’t believe what you read, kid, Short and Kimmel were patsies. Roosie didn’t just let it happen, he made it happen.”

    At the time, I didn’t know what he was talking about. I also didn’t understand what he meant, when he said, “And as a result, I was forced to become, in the prime of my youth, a paid assassin for Uncle Sam.”

    1. charles sereno

      I was there (10 years old) watching the Dec 7 action when 4 of my relatives were killed (by friendly fire). I was a news junkie even then and I can attest that many rumors were flying around in the aftermath. I personally collected newspapers from Dec 6, searching for coded messages in advertisements.

  17. Max424

    Fuck the worthless Wall Street Journal. Read Kurt Cobb.

    The second to the last paragraph is the clincher. Canada is an oil exporting GIANT (8th on the list), yet it must import 42% of the oil it needs to meet domestic consumption.

    Why? Because Canada is not a sovereign nation. When treasonous Canuck politicians talk about national security, they are blowing smoke up their citizens’ asses. They can’t provide national security, OBVIOUSLY, because Canada, for no earthly reason (other than the fact that the country has no government), remains supremely vulnerable to massive extraneous energy shocks.

    Is Canada the stupidest non-country on the planet? Tough call. I think they are, but just to hedge, I’m calling it a tie with the United States for Number One … but I think they should be 1A, to our, 1B.

    1. Roland

      Canada’s bifurcated fossil fuels market, simultaneously both a major exporter and a significant importer, is an old political problem, constitutional in origin. For example this was a major election issue back in the 1950’s.

      In Canada natural resources are provincially, not federally, controlled. The fossil fuel producing provinces, principally Alberta, have always bitterly opposed any encroachment upon their domain by the federal government or other provinces. Efforts to form a truly national energy policy have always foundered as a result.

      On top of the deeper constitional issue, Canada is pledged under NAFTA to always offer Canadian fossil fuels to the NAFTA partners at the same price offered to Canadians. So as long as Canada is part of NAFTA, Canada will be fully committed to a continental, rather than national, fossil fuel policy.

      You must bear in mind that Canadians have always maintained a colonial mindset, both in terms of their loyalty–and no less in terms of their resentments. They always think of themselves as being a part of a larger empire. When the British Empire faded, most Canadians subconsciously shifted their allegiance–and their resentments–to the USA. A minority of Canadians shifted their imperial allegiance to the UN/Blue Helmet brand, but even as supposed internationalists, Canadians maintain their traditional colonial mindset. It is almost impossible for most Canadians, even those of fringe political views, to really conceive of a Canadian national interest, national policy-making, or national grand strategy.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        They need to secede. Within the last year, the British Imperial screws were turned when it was MADE CLEAR that Canadians were mere subjects to Her Majesty the Queen, no mis-tike. Their sense of “sovereignty” or self-determination is an illusion. There is NO DOUBT who is Boss. The Scots have more nerve.

      2. Max424

        The East-West divide in Canada is huge, isn’t it, perhaps even deeper than the North-South divide is here, in the US.

        In Mason-Dixie Land, it’s about heavy handed federalism and lack of proper Jim Crow, in Alberta, it’s about heavy handed federalism and who keeps the oil revenues.

  18. Roland

    The EU might be broke, but they still just can’t get enough war. Target: Mali.

    EU greenlights military back-up for Mali

    By Claire Rosemberg (AFP) – 6 hours ago

    LUXEMBOURG — European Union foreign ministers on Monday approved moves to “urgently” plan for a possible military mission to help Mali reconquer its vast arid north from rebels and Islamist extremists.

    Gathered in Luxembourg, a statement from 27 EU ministers said the bloc “is determined to back Mali in re-establishing the rule of law and a democratic and fully sovereign government across its entire territory”.

    A two-page document calls for “planning work on a potential military mission … to be pursued and deepened urgently”.

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