Links 1/17/13

More evidence of crustacean pain BBC. We need a study for this? Anyone who cooks lobsters doesn’t need more evidence.

Enviro Crusader Turns Pro-GMO, Anti-Organic—And Anti-Logic Mother Jones (Aquifer)

CU-Boulder, NOAA study uncovers oil and gas emission’s ‘chemical signature’ Longmont Times Call

Path-blazing researcher explores environmental links to autism E&E Publishing (Aquifer)

Sell US Coal to China and Watch Carbon Emissions Fall OilPrice. While probably narrowly true (US emissions would fall), this is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Aaron Swartz:

Aaron Swartz’s Lawyer: Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Wanted ‘Juicy’ Case For Publicity Huffington Post.

Aaron Swartz’s Lawyer: MIT Refused Plea Deal Without Jail Time Gothamist. Separately, can someone explain to me: why would Anonymous bother simply defacing the MIT website by posting a tribute to Swartz? Why didn’t they do something useful, like release all the e-mails of the MIT administrators about his case?

Is the UK suffering a second home buyer crisis? MacroBusiness

Europe drawn into global currency wars as slump deepens Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

The Eurozone and Greece: Is the Crisis over? Yanis Varoufakis

Catfood watch:

More on Jacob Lew: Does His Background presage failure to protect New Deal programs when the right hollers about debt and deficits? Linda Beale

Estonian president’s Twitter fight with Paul Krugman becomes an opera Raw Story (psychohistorian)

EPA changed course after oil company protested Associated Press and Breaking: Obama EPA Shut Down Weatherford, TX Shale Gas Water Contamination Study DeSmog

Obama invokes Constitution in arguing for gun control Washington Post> It’s obvious Obama is going through the motions on the gun control fight. No Orwellian language (“gun safety”, “gun responsibility” or the like) but “gun control”.

I Went After Guns. Obama Can, Too. John Howard, New York Times. I never thought I would point approvingly to something written by Howard, but Australia’s gun policy design and implementation was a real accomplishment.

Congress Kills Part of the Affordable Care Act Crooks & Liars (psychohistorian)

QM Impact on the Mortgage Market Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

‘The Right’s Resistance to Regulation’ Mark Thoma

Have we solved ‘too big to fail’? Andrew Haldane, VoxEU

Goldman Sachs pay and bonuses rise to $400,000 each Guardian

Lies, Damn Lies, and the Economist Matias Vernengo, Triple Crisis

The CIO curve trade that never was Lisa Pollack, Financial Times

Antidote du jour (Aquifer):

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  1. rbm411

    RE: Anonymous bother simply defacing the MIT – Probably because it was just some kid that kew a password or backdoor and a little HTML. I don’t know of anything Anonymous has done of significance or that has appeared, to me anyway, technically challenging. Anonymous has that feel like “Al-Queda”, a name for vague grouping of people that is convient for Government, Media when they want to use the big, bad scary thing to take away more of your rights and by youngsters who like the aura of rebellion.

    There may be a real group but if this is it – really?

      1. jrs

        The Westboro folks are just a bunch of loonies. They may certainly mean harm, but they don’t have the power to drive people to death the way law enforcment complex combined with MIT did.

    1. Tiercelet

      Agreed; defacing a website is generally easier than hacking email, particularly the email of multiple users. They’re different systems with differently-exploitable vulnerabilities, and the email is usually a lot more locked down.

      But I don’t know I’d go so far as to say Anonymous has never done anything important — the stuff on Steubenville seems pretty significant to me, for just one recent example.

      Keep in mind “Anonymous” originated as a collective noun for all anonymous commenters–joking that one single person is responsible for them all. Thus, Anonymous changes his mind a lot, etc… And thus the group’s actions won’t necessarily be internally consistent. Saying “Anonymous” did x is like saying that “Spartacus” led the slave revolt or that “Publius” wrote the Federalist Papers.

      1. Cujo359

        Web servers tend to be more complicated software, too. More lines of code means more potential bugs, and more configuration options means more chance someone forgot something.

    2. ScottS

      Aside from uncovering the HBGary proposal to the Feds to ruin Glenn Greenwald for his political views?

  2. Ed

    “Obama invokes Constitution in arguing for gun control”–So, the right to peacefully assemble in order to petition the govt for a redress of wrongs is now the right to shop at the mall. Supposing you support what Obama is trying to do, don’t you wonder at the tiny package the Constitution is being given to live in? Anyone who has attended demonstrations–against the war in Iraq for example–knows the right to assemble is under pressure.

    1. Brindle

      No ban on Bushmaster .223 Assault Rifle likely according to Greg Sargent, but hey, we get “background checks” which may or may not be effective.

      —“The assault weapons ban appears important to Obama, but if he gets universal background checks plus a host of other measures, such as ones increasing criminal penalties on “straw purchasers” and banning high capacity magazines and armor piercing bullets, that could constitute a major achievement in its own right.
      Senators and members of Congress must not be allowed to dodge this: Do they support background checks into would be buyers of guns, or don’t they?—”

    2. Jose's tit collection

      Right, the Constitution’s gone. Gun rights will be preserved as a source of ubiquitous domestic threats so DNI-directed local Stasi and the background-check industry can “PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!” – because jihadi terrorists won’t pass the laugh test much longer. The NCS will maintain a level of gun violence that scares the population without inconveniencing the regime.

      There’s room for gun controls to tighten quite a bit. Illicit small-arms trafficking is less important to the CIA than it was when they killed JFK, MLK, and RFK. Now that foreign intelligence has changed to National intelligence, the Clandestine Service doesn’t need elaborate systems of cutouts to kill dissidents like Scott Olsen (or, if they want, Aaron Swartz!)

      Wyden’s wasting his time on the gelded SSCI. Ultimately the Rome Statute is the only way to get Bennett’s Clandestine Service psychos under control.

  3. sleepy

    Anyone care to shed some light on why the Bundesbank is repatriating some of its gold holdings from Paris and New York?

    1. Cletus

      Hey, sleepy, please post a link. When the Central banks start reinforcing themselves with gold, it’s time to get ready for a crash.

      1. sleepy


        The links imply that it’s based on nationalism and a suspicion that the Fed and the Banque de France might be shaving a few grams off the bars here and there. I also didn’t realize that those banks could use pledge their foreign holdings as collateral–at least they can according to the links.

        1. AbyNormal

          its never a party till them counter parties appear

          only difference this time…they’re coming 3 sheets to the wind off the last of their goldschlager

          1. ambrit

            Sorry, that’s Bundesbank gold. More likely to send Reichs Kriegsmarine Kommandos. (It’s more likely that US Navy Seals are training for demining work in the Straits).

  4. jsmith

    Algerian hostage crisis looks to broaden Mali conflict.

    Don’t worry, there are 7 Americanos among the hostages!

    Why, it also looks like France’s stay in Mali is now going to last a bit longer than they orginally thought!

    Why, who could have seen that development?

    From the Reuters piece:

    “In five days, France’s mercy dash – [BWAHAHAHAHA!!! – ed.] to Mali to stop al Qaeda-linked Islamists seizing the capital has bounced it into a promise to keep troops there until its West African former colony is finally back on its feet.

    Exactly how long that will take is hard to say. But Africa’s latest war is likely to entail a long stay for France with an exit strategy that will depend largely on allies who have yet to prove they are ready for the fight.

    “We should get used to the idea we are embarking on a major mission alongside Malian and African forces for the duration,” Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said late on Tuesday.

    The outcome could seal France’s role in Africa for decades. At best, it is a chance to rescue a country destabilized by arms flooding in from the 2011 war in nearby Libya which France, under ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, helped to promote.”

    Follow-up by Cartalucci who predicted just this “spill-over” last week.

    1. jsmith

      And a related overview entitled:

      2013 and the new Scramble for Africa

      France’s military aggression in Mali is only the latest expression of a renewed Scramble for Africa being undertaken by all of the continent’s former imperialist overlords. This involves not only those powers that directly ruled Africa from the late nineteenth century through to the 1960s, such as France and Britain, but above all the United States.

      1. Klassy!

        (AFRICOM) head Gen. Carter Ham declaring that America would no longer rely on “a sharing arrangement with what’s called the Commander’s in-Extremis Force with European Command… now we have our own.”

        “The absolute imperative for the United States military [is] to protect America, Americans, and American interests,” Ham proclaimed.

        Well, I guess you’ve got all your bases covered there.

        1. sierra7

          Good words….but, I would modify them down to “….protecting America’s “interests”….
          bottom line
          This is (in my humble opinion) is the immediate effect of “blowback” from our horrible escapade in Algeria…….
          What are the “militants” that “fought” in Algeria to de-stabalize and eventually murder it’s leader going to do for an encore?
          Go home to “jobs”?
          No. They and their sponsors (ala Afghanistan etc) have to find a way to further “employ” them or they will be faced with more “militants” resulting from their “unemployment” in Algeria in the most recent past mess.
          The larger Q here is, “When will America learn from its stupidities of the past?”
          Besides, Mali has lots of uranium…..and other natural resources to “steal” from it’s legal residents.
          This is not to say other countries are not involved….a large prob is China actually negotiating deals in greater Africa; our only response (with France in this case) will be more plundering and murderous policies and when we are “successful” it will be at the alter and another brutal dicatorship….
          Then we can send in the drones to kill the “militants” along with all that bothersome, “collateral damage”

          1. LucyLulu

            ” Mali has lots of uranium…”

            How much does Mali have? My sources say 2500 tonnes. Is this incorrect? Or is this “lots”? (It would supply US for a bit over 1 month.)

          2. Roland

            Niger is the significant uranium producer. The mine at Arlit has always been a point of contention between the Niger gov’t and the Touareg.

            A few years ago the Niger gov’t and the Touareg had come to a deal, but that deal was brokered by Qaddafi. Since Qaddafi’s fall, the Niger gov’t has been quick to renege, while many of the hardliners among the Touareg have been expelled from Libya, where they had lived in exile.

        2. ROTC cannon fodder pretending he's a big shot

          No, Ham, you self-flagellating parochial ignoramus, forget what the Jesuits taught you between blow jobs. The absolute imperative for the United States military is to refrain from use or threat of force with the exception of lawful self-defense in compliance with UN Charter Chapter VII. American interests are way above your pissant pay grade.

          1. Klassy!

            Shorter Ham: Scripts the same, but the part of “communist” will now be played by “Islamist”.

      2. LucyLulu

        And it’s irrelevant that the people of Mali and the surrounding countries all requested the French intervention?

        Neocolonial imperialist interests makes for a nice, simple meme for the French intervention but its hardly so simple. Motivations never are. Mali is a destitute country and northern Mali, about the size of France, and a bit over half of Mali in terms of geographical area, is a desert and mountainous Sahara wasteland. Only a small part of Mali is fertile, most is arid, and the population lives from crisis to crisis. There has long been conflict between the Tuareg, or white Berber desert nomads, who represent 10% of the population and occupy N. Mali, and its black African residents. Mali on the whole had what appeared to be a stable democratic government until last year, when the Tuaregs/MNLA took over northern Mali. There are two factions of the Tuaregs, the MNLA, who are secular and moderate, and Ansar Dine, militant islamists with ties to AlQaeda. Problems started when they all returned from fighting in Libya, armed to the teeth. The MNLA was originally in control but periodically was forming alliances with Ansar Dine, having mutual interests in staking claims. But then the MNLA would decide Ansar Dine was too radical, they didn’t like the strict sharia law so they’d kick them out. The blacks have been trying to get out of dodge, either fleeing to neighboring countries or heading south, as they see people being executed and limbs amputated, women raped, public floggings. No food, no medical supplies. Finally, MNLA went to the Mali government saying that Ansar Dine, now joined by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb and MUJAO, another group with AQ links, had taken over and HELP! Meanwhile, the Mali president had been ejected by a military coup, they were disgusted he had allowed northern Mali to get so out of hand. They were supposed to just have another election…. didn’t happen. US has said it won’t recognize new government until the president is elected democratically. We’ll see. All the surrounding countries of the Mahgreb have had their own problems with these terrorists and want to get rid of them.

        N. Mali appears to be becoming the new Afghanistan/Pakistan. Great geography for hiding out, long history of smuggling routes and desert pirating. There may be mineral resources under the desert, there is speculation, maybe oil. The uranium is estimated to total 2500 tonnes, not much at all, the U.S. has over 100 times that much. There may be oil but it hasn’t been sufficiently explored. Oil speculators are concentrating in the southern half, probably at least partly due to the access difficulties of the north. That is the area, around the capital city of Bamako, where the extremists were heading when Mali asked for French help. Mali has joined the EITI, an organization that lobbies for transparency of revenue from resource extraction, fights corruption, and ensures that the local people get their share of any royalties.

        Historically the French have not been so popular. Resentments over colonial days die hard. Yet the people are thankful the French came. You can see photos of shops waving the French flag. The people of N. Mali are grateful. I read an editorial in LeMonde (fr.) from a Mali resident of Paris, founder of some institute promoting Mali social causes, expressing gratitude. The numbers of emigrants from Mali number in the six figures in France but there are millions of African emigrants, mostly from the Mahgreb region, who support the effort. France also deals with embedded terrorists however in that population and had a related mass shooting in the last year. So that is the background.

        I can’t know what Hollande’s motivation is. I can’t crawl inside his brain. I’m certainly no warmonger. I’m glad its France and not us. I don’t know if what Hollande did was right or wrong, history will tell. If I were king and wanted a country to loot, Mali would at the bottom of my list. Its a godforsaken country, a blessing indeed if resources sufficient to support its people are ever identified. Mali doesn’t deserve to suffer the consequences of any wrongdoings that may have occurred in Libya at the hands of NATO. Except for the terrorists, everyone seems happy for the help. They might prefer to handle the situation internally but African forces are not ready, and they know it. The US has attempted to train them and got frustrated, another reason the US claims to be reluctant to intervene. They all speak different languages, etc. Al Qaeda is not eliminated, by any stretch of the imagination. Only the original key players. I suspect AQIM will soon be the world’s leading source of terrorist activity, and as OBL had targeted the US, AQIM has France in its scope. Thus I reserve judgement about France intervening. That includes withholding any condemnation until there is evidence of more people being hurt than helped.

        From September:

        “Today, we have a humanitarian disaster because our country has been occupied by terrorists and Islamic extremists who have killed hundreds of our brethren in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu,” said Maliki Alhusseini Maiga, president of COREN (Le Collectif des Resortissants du Nord Mali), an association of people from the north, at a press conference in Bamako on Sunday. “They have raped our sisters, they have burned government buildings, they have destroyed our cities and they are terrorizing the population. If it continues like this, we will face a very, very dangerous situation in this area.”

        Maiga called on the regional West African ECOWAS bloc, the African Union, and the international community to “liberate northern Mali” and set up a humanitarian corridor to supply aid to Malians trapped in the northern region.

        His appeal came amid reports of growing tensions between Tuareg rebels and Islamist factions.

        International human rights groups have warned that northern Mali is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster compounded by drought, fighting and a lack of access to the region.

        In a statement released last week, Amnesty International called for immediate access to northern Mali to deliver humanitarian aid.
        Maiga, however, maintained that he has no intention of permanently quitting his hometown. “I will go back to Kidal,” he vowed. “I am not afraid. These rebels are looking to find new territory for al Qaeda and for the trafficking of arms and drugs. But Mali is our country and it is indivisable.”

        Recent article (Mahgreb regional newspaper):

        1. Roland

          The Mali gov’t doesn’t need any help. They control the territory in which over 80% of Malians live. They control over 75% of the Malian economy. They have clear lines of communication to all the neighbouring countries, and abroad.

          They have more troops, more aircraft, more vehicles, and better weapons than the Touareg.

          There are only two reasons why the Malian gov’t is getting defeated by the Touareg:

          1. The Touareg fighters are braver and more willing to take risks. Fewer on the gov’t side are willing to get shot for their country. Why is it that we don’t see the Malian army abandon whole towns without a fight, while a small band of Touareg will fight to the death at In Amenas?

          2. The Malian leadership are much more interested in conspiring against one another, than any of them are in fighting the Touareg. In late 2011 Canada sent advisors to train Malian special forces, but all that happened was that those troops figured strongly in the 2012 coup–which precipatated the current crisis.

          The foreign intervention won’t do a thing to alter the two conditions stated above. Instead, the foreign intervention will entirely remove any motivation the Malian junta might have possessed to fight for their side. Now they can let foreigners fight the Touareg and feed the Malian people, while they embezzle some more foreign money and continue to play the game of coup and counter-coup.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Carrrots and apples are people too.

      Do they not bleed when we prick them (metaphorically speaking)?

      Do they not feel pain when we chew and grind them (literally speaking)?

      Even water molecules have feelings too (this one I learned from a movie).

        1. Aquifer

          Looks yummy – but will have to leave out the lemon peel – high in oxalates, not good for kidney stones :(

          1. Valissa

            I’m assuming this advice is for people who are already diagnosed with kidney stones. Searching on the internet on lemon peel and it typically gets a thumbs up for good health, with the exception of folks who have kidney stone. It seems that our culture is getting to the point where all food is suspect… good in some ways I’m sure, but overall that does not seem healthy to me.

          2. Aquifer

            Yes, i am sorry, i should have specified that – calcium oxalate stones, to be exact – fairly common, often run in families. Have had several episodes of, and 2 procedures for, them – and, believe me, when you have had this “enlightening experience” more than once, you tend to pay a bit more attention to potentially precipitating factors ..

  5. Eureka Springs

    Background checks are just another bulls-eye entry in your disposition matrix coordinates. 80 plus million law abiding citizens guilty of a constitutional protection until impossibly proven innocent. Obama’s 23 new papercuts list reads like a dream entry for the runaway prosecutors so many in the ‘liberal’ blogos are moaning about in re Swartz. If you need a bigger police state/bureaucracy than the one we have now then you should know you are doing it (advocacy) wrong. In fact encouraging this in a clear time of lawlessness at the top only helps maintain the fiction the J in DOJ means something.

    Ask yourself honestly… Of all gun/weapon owners in America, who today is most likely to murder innocent children? The answer is most likely the very ‘executive’ you are now hoping will be the only entity in the room with big guns and large clips.

    I never wanted large clips until now.

      1. different clue

        Perhaps different people with different answers will just have to prepare in their own different ways for the unfolding of their own expected different predictions of the future requiring different responses.

        Some will be right, others wrong. Its a long slow-rolling series of Darwin Finals.

    1. craazyman

      I’m relieved your story about the woman who killed a man with her tits didn’t make Links.

      I would have had a persecution complex if it had, since my link suggestions — most of which are far less flamboyant, like the one about Bigfoot DNA — never get posted.

        1. craazyman

          That’s a shape shifting phantom. The sequence has been analyzed frame by frame by experts, who concluded it’s anatomically impossible for a dude in a gorilla suit to walk like that — along with other observations the curious mind can discover by internet research.

          And why would a dude put tits on his gorilla suit? It makes no sense.

          Any dude making a gorilla suit would never think about putting tits on the suit — not even as a joke. Not even after a few beers late in the day. Sure, it’s funny and I can see why somebody might suggest it, as a joke. But think of all the work that goes into making a good fake gorilla suit. Think about that for a minute.

          There’s more here than people are willing to believe.

      1. Valissa

        When I told my husband last night about that story, he responded pretty the same as Aquifer… which I had expected he would. Then later in the evening he brought it up again and was making various jokes and puns about it, and then I finally looked at him and “it was murder, you know”… the look on his face when he finally took that aspect of the situation in was priceless. The clash of fantasy and reality can be quite jarring.

        1. Aquifer

          Ah, it appears i have given offense – so sorry – oft it is difficult for me to discern when someone who seems to have a sense of humor about most things may not on a particular subject …

          Though I consider myself to have a fairly well developed sense of humor (I have a mirror in my house, for Pete’s sake ..), there are things I cannot bring myself to laugh at either …. and, yes, murder is generally one of them – but the idea of this was so bizarre … sorry …

          1. Valissa

            I have to admit I’m not sure what I said that gave the impression I was offended. I was chuckling the whole time I wrote the comment. I was amused by both your and my husband’s response because it was stereotypically expected. And I had fun tweaking him about it being ‘murder most foul’ in the midst of his other fantasies. Surely you have noticed by now that I have a sense of humor and I’m not one of those politically correct feminist types.

          2. Valissa

            fyi, I am a murder mystery fan, both books and tv, so it’s pretty easy for me to joke about murder… and my husband knows this.

          3. Aquifer

            Val –

            “it’s pretty easy for me to joke about murder… and my husband knows this.”

            Ah, yes, but, you see, i did not – and murder is one of those things that I can understand folks being a bit touchy about …

            I get myself into enough trouble around here when i know i am doing it, so it would be nice to avoid doing it when i don’t know i am – though of course it is hard to avoid doing something you don’t know you are doing … And of course this makes no sense whatsoever, but at least i am consistent, though i know what they say about consistency .. so i had best quit while i am not too far behind, though i suppose it is too late for that – so let’s just have another cup of coffee …

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe I am having a bad day, but that looks like an elephant tricking something down to the 99.99%.

      1. Aquifer

        MLPB – whoa be careful, you are in danger of getting too cynical ….

        I thought it went something like this: Elephant – “Here, see if you can stretch a bit and grab on, I’ll give you a trunk up!”

    1. Garrett Pace

      That’s magnificent. They all look so sad, even the retired couple whose tax burden doesn’t change at all. Maybe they have the sorrow of having wealthy children who now have to pay more in taxes. Too bad their kids aren’t poor, I guess?

    2. Kokuanani

      Tbogg over at FireDogLake hit this early yesterday. The comments there are pretty good, particularly the ones calculating how much “principle” these lucky investors would have to have in order to throw off the level of “investment income” attributed to them.

      Hint: think millions, or at least hundreds of thousands.

    3. different clue

      I don’t visit Digby much anymore after she and her little mini-me David Atkins turned Hullabaloo into a no-comments-at-all razorwire-walled veal pen. I mean . . . they have dropped all pretense of even pretending to accept any input from readers. Hence the removal of the comments function.
      So much easier than implausibly deniable disappearing comments and stealth-banning commenters.

  6. b.

    “Why didn’t they do something useful, like release all the e-mails of the MIT administrators about his case?”

    Maybe they are waiting for the whitewash report to be released first?

  7. Aquifer

    re Swartz –

    “Marty Weinberg, who took the case over from [initial lawyer Andy] Good, said he nearly negotiated a plea bargain in which Swartz would not serve any time. He said JSTOR signed off on it, but MIT would not.”

    Then later ..

    “Elliot Peters, the San Francisco lawyer who took the case over from Weinberg last fall, could not persuade prosecutors to drop their demand that Swartz plead guilty to 13 felonies and spend six months in prison. Peters was preparing to go to trial and was confident of prevailing.”

    So at one point, it appears, “Justice” was willing to drop jail but MIT wasn’t – so the bully then was?

    Later something apparently happened – and “Justice” insisted on jail – who squeezed for jail, was it on insistence of MIT, at that point?

    And if Peters was confident of winning ….

    Even after the travesty was begun, there seems there could have been a number of points where Aaron could have been saved …

  8. A. Wells

    I Went After Guns. Obama Can, Too. … Australia’s gun policy design and implementation was a real accomplishment.

    Really?, FaultyModels? Guns aren’t only about death by gun. Those decreased in Australia, but inexplicably, they did so here, too. On the other hand, look at assault rates in Australia. From 1996 a little over 600 to almost 900 in 2007 ( The US in the meantime records decrease in all wiolent crime categories since 2003.

    Guns enable all sorts of other crime, and assault is the way such crime happens. When the victims are in fact helpless, there is no need to escalate the progression of the crime to killing the victim and there is no risk of death to the perpetrator. Is that a good thing? Perhaps. Every time I read about an old lady chasing off a would be purse snatcher, I ask myself what she might think about that.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Synopticist

      So in places like Australia and the UK, an incident may lead to a violent assault, whereas in the States someone gets shot?
      And the latter is somehow the better option? huh?

      1. kj1313

        Well if you get shot here chances are you won’t have to worry about whether or not your health insurance will be willing to cover you, since you might be dead. So I guess that would be a plus in some people’s columns.

  9. Susan the other

    Ambrose Evans Pritchard. Telegraph. This confirms it: the global economy is a contradiction in terms. Combine and mix thoroughly: (paraphrasing) ” … the French Industry Minister (Ha!) Arnaud Montebourg said multilateral trade deals are dead because of predatory practices by China.” …but China and Germany are getting along just fine… but only bec. China hates Japan… “Ecofin says the euro is a sovereign currency and can be fiated at will.” …but not until the GIPSIS are impoverished and the euro can be drastically devalued. So Germany admits it needs Greece. How sinister. And Russia is worried about a global currency war, and Korea too. And China doesn’t care. It really is a free for all. The only solution to this mess will be Superbloc! Currency blocks that mitigate the fluctuations in one nation’s currency. Oh like the EU? God help us. Or will the new currency blocs be logical for a while and use some device which allows sovereign devaluations? And who will join which bloc and why?

    But here’s an EU clue as to what the Fed has been up to: “…buying back their surplus (dollars) by cutting foreign assets…. and repatriating funds… to meet capital rules (what rules?)…” Keeping the dollar from crashing by making the dollar debt market attractive (to whom?) Japan? Always Japan. And the EU does this now, quickly devalues the euro by selling debt to Japan – no matter to Japan that Japan is the EU’s #1 competitor. Clearly Japan and the EU are setting up to join the same currency bloc. I’m totally lost.

  10. Ned

    “the organic movement essentially freezes its technology in somewhere around 1950, and for no better reason”

    Other than it has worked for tens of thousands of years?
    Produces highter yields and is sustainable.

    That boy has been bought out by biotech.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      So true.

      For tens of thousands of years, there was only one choice – orangic.

      Now, we have at least 2 choices – organic and toxic.

      That’s what progress is all about – to give the consumer more choices (which is assumed to be always good)!

    2. Susan the other

      I’m beginning to think big agriculture is running a bluff. The capacity to produce food is enormous, all over the world. And the need for monsantoization is just not there. Bill Gates is making a fool of himself. Organic farms and products can thrive, and will thrive. The more localized, the better. And all this theatrical nonsense by Monsanto will be exposed.

      1. Aquifer

        The sad thing is that by the time folks wake up enough to reject this crap, it may be too late – the GMOs may have irreversibly infiltrated the natural environment – that is why it is so important to stop them now – e.g – FDA is on verge of, if not already, approving Frankenfish – GMO salmon that reportedly may be in a position to out compete the natural stocks ….

        These GMO thingys are WMDs, IMO, and should be treated as such. The labeling laws are important because, in the absence of prohibition by industry captured regulators, if folks reject them in the stores – there goes the market, and the profit incentive, the sole reason for their existence, disappears …

        1. different clue

          If you have 999,999 organic soybeans, and you throw in a single GMO Roundup Ready soybean . . . so that your batch of soybeans is now 1-in-1-million GMO contaminated, and you grind them all up into tofu so that the tofu is all uniformly one ppm (parts per million) GMO; are you or is anyone else going to be afraid to eat that tofu? Afraid the GMO cooties will get you?

          That reaction is what the GMO Consiracy Family of Companies is counting on. That is why they release GMO-releasing plant pollen dispersal devices . . . to contaminate and “company-brand” every single plant of the targeted species on the face of the earth. They are hoping that the GMO-phobes will boycott and refuse to eat any soybean product for example which is 1 ppm GMO contaminated.
          Every organic soybean on earth will be 1 ppm GMO contaminated. So what that means is that the GMOphobes will boycott every organic farmer/foodmaker who at least reFUSED to USE the GMOs on PURpose. That boycott will drive every organic soybean food growermaker out of bussiness and leave Monsanto in sole commanding possession of the market battlefield.

          Now, is that what the organic customer base wants? Well . . . that is what the organic customer base will get with their GMOphobia-driven boycott of everything with even one stray tresspassing GMO sequence in a trainload of otherwise cleangenes food. So if the organic customer base and the organic growers and the organic foodmakers wish to save their organic food movement, they will have to get over their GMOphobic fear of GMO cooties.

          Am I a GMOphobe? No. I am a GMO-biznazi-hater. And its not the same thing. I want to see Monsanto dead on the battlefield, with its throat cut and bleeding all the way out all the way dry. And I am prepared to eat unwillingly-GMO-contaminated organic-movement food as my part in the ongoing war of extermination-versus-survival being waged between disorganised humanity on the one hand and the Corporate Fascist Pig GMO BizNazi Conspiracy on the other hand.

  11. Herman Sniffles

    It’s obvious Obama is going through the motions on the gun control fight”

    Well by gosh there’s an upside to having a profoundly worthless president!

  12. j.s.nightingale

    From your Telegraph link: “The underlying problem is a global saving glut as the world saving rate hits a record 24pc of GDP, chiefly driven by Asia and aging effects.”

    I found this response in the Analects:

    “Master: Why do people oversave?”

    “Because they are fearful for the future, Grashopper”

    “Surely with a secure income and an assured pension, there is no need to fear, Master”

    “But don’t you see that in this Brave New Phukyou World there is no guarantee of employment, no guarantee of adequate pay, and now even no guarantee that a living pension will be there when they retire, Grasshopper”

    “But then why is saving and the frugal life a problem, Master?”

    “Because if the economy is strong today, and our Rulers are wise, then the economy will be strong tomorrow. But if the economy is weak today and our Rulers are not wise then the economy will be dead tomorrow. And when the economy is dead, a million denominated in dollars, or coins or electrons, will buy you nothing but a life that is nasty, brutish and short, Grasshopper.”

    “Then what should our Rulers do Master?”

    “Well Grasshopper, they should make damn sure we all have a cast iron guaranteed pension to look forward to, so we can spend today and live a confident life while we are earning, knowing we can live tomorrow”

    “But is there no other way, Master?”

    “Yes Grasshopper there is another way. If our Rulers keep us on a starvation wage while we are working, of course we cannot save for the future. It then becomes a problem for when we are not working. Our Rulers are trying to solve that one by making sure our health is so bad, and with no way to fix it, that we will die soon after we stop working. Then there will be no need for a pension.”

    “Ahh, now I see the light”.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Master also said, after 40, one is not confused anymore.

      It then follows that one one should not go to college until at least he/she is 40 years old.


      Well, in a typical classroom today, a father/mother-like figure dominates and has his/her way with the students intellectually with one wayward theory after another, whether it be in economics or quantum physics. Far too often, you don’t see challenges that you see here from commentors who, presmuably, are 40+ and can have counter examples (debates are often about examples for or against) that come with being around for a while.

      That is to say, I wish I had people like we have here when I was going to school. I would have been fooled less often.

      Thus, I believe no one should go to college until at least 40 y.o., if one’s objective is to be enlightened instead of acquiring some social connection in order to join the 0.01%, or something like that.

      1. Aquifer

        i tried out law school in my 40’s, and you are right, it is a very different dynamic – i was older than some of the profs, and was quite willing to engage them in “discussion” – I don’t know if some of them “appreciated” it or not, but it was clear i was coming from a slightly different place than many of my “fellows” …

        Also, methinks it helps if you already have some sort of “career” in the sense that you are there to learn and engage and not because you desperately need a good grade from a professor ….

        It was singularly rewarding and frustrating at the same time …

        1. LucyLulu

          I also went back to school at 40. It’s a completely different experience. I loved it. You are there to learn, not to get a degree. And the feedback I got was that yes, the professors love students that engage in the discussion. They know you are interested and want to learn, and that is what they find rewarding. I’d ask. I wanted to know if I was a pest since often I was the only one who participated. Once I taught myself I understood better. There is no class more deadly than a class where the audience is unresponsive.

    2. jrs

      Spending on thing one needs or even things like healthier organic food are all well and good but consumerism on stuff isn’t the way to anything except a planet that doesn’t support human life. The other way is a steady state economy.

      1. Aquifer

        Yeah, that’s the irony, it appears to me – while Capitalism/Socialism folks are slugging it out, the earth keeps getting whacked – so by the time the “winner” emerges, it will be a Pyrrhic victory indeed –

        “Just when I stopped opening doors, knowing the one that i wanted was yours, making my entrance again with my usual flair, so sure of my lines, no one was there – Send in the clowns, there ought to be clowns – don’t bother, they’re here”

        Steady-state economy – let us explore, let us adopt, before it’s too late …

  13. Pelle Schultz

    Irva Hertz-Piccioto is a practitioner of science-by-press-release. Not a single one of her potential environmental causes for autism has panned out, and every single one of her studies has relied on small sample sizes and cherry-picked study populations.

    The genomics studies done in the last 5 years, on the other hand, have identified something on the order of 25% of the actual causes of autism. I know this because I did a number of them…

    1. Aquifer

      25% – that leaves, hmmm, 75%?

      And the concept of epigenetics? Genes may be the trigger, but it takes an environmental “actor” to pull it?

      E.g, smoking/lung cancer – only a proportion of smokers get lung cancer – why do some, not others? Nature, nurture?

      And how do you explain the rise in autism in the last generation or so? “Better reporting”? If the rise is real, is that because of increase in “autism” genes? And what explains that increase? If no increase in genes, then environmental trigger pullers?

      Of the 25% of cases where genes are identified, are they dispositive for the condition? What proportion of the population may have those genes but is not “autistic”?

      STM that until you can say !) all folks with autism have xyz genes and 2) all folks with xyz genes have autism, you cannot rule out other, i.e. environmental factors. Whether they are the ones this prof identifies are such factors you may debate, but to fail to search for them is BIG booboo, IMO ….

      1. Lambert Strether

        Not to wade in here …

        but maybe autism is in some way adaptive. (I’m thinking of Temple Grandin here. And I’m assuming “adaptive to the conditions we have created…”)

        1. Aquifer

          Interesting idea – so what conditions in the environment are increasingly favorable to the survival of autistic “genes”?

          1. Synopticist

            I liked the headline further down in the original article, ” genes are the loaded gun, enviroment pulls the trigger”.

            I may well be passing that off as my own insight in the future.

          2. lambert strether

            I’m think of Grandin’s Animals in Translation. She lays out quite clearly how she thinks and how it’s different (or she believes how it’s different) from non-autustic people. So I’m wondering whether that way of thinking is adaptive … I was about to say “to whatever is to come” but that would be teleological.

          3. different clue

            Mildly autistic people can function. Severely autistic people cannot function at all without vast investment and support. If that goes away in a poverty future, severely autustic people will likely die young.

          4. nobody

            Regarding ideas about some people being “mildly autistic” and others being “severely autistic,” that distinction doesn’t seem to work very well:


            Regarding autistic people dying young in a “poverty future,” that’s not a future question it’s a present reality. The current support available for many if not most autistic adults is negligible or nonexistent.

            Some are doing fine and it seems likely that you can find them present in proportions higher than their prevalence in the general population in certain professions like engineering, mathematics, IT, designing detonation switches for weaponized drone technology, or working as quants for the FIRE sector.

            However, going by some of the preliminary findings, it would seem that maybe only a third of adult autistics are self-supporting and without need for assistance. One interesting aspect is that studies based in Salt Lake City showed markedly better outcomes, which isn’t surprising when you consider the difference between being a member of a community like that of the Mormons and just being on your own in general American society.

            Probably quite a lot of adult autistics wouldn’t need huge amounts of help or support to actually make a world of difference — in many cases maybe just a couple of hours a week or so of help for some of the self-care or executive-functioning issues many have and job placement services and reasonable adjustments to accommodate common autistic differences.

      2. Pelle Schultz

        That’s some stunning ignorance of genetics and biology on display right there. Here are a few basic concepts for you to look up: expressivity, penetrance and modifiers.

        When a disorders has a MZ concordance rate of 70-90%, you don’t go hunting for environmental causes–at least until after the far more obviously contributory genetic landscape is detailed. Mutation occurs in every single cell division. Epigenetic changes are not exclusively (or even typically) due to environmental causes. I could go on all night…

      3. nobody

        How to “explain the rise in autism in the last generation or so?”

        Well, formerly, few of the people empowered to perform “diagnosis” knew much about autism — it was considered exotic and rare. Most autistics were either never “diagnosed” at all, or they ended up having different labels slapped on them.

        One recent study in the UK found that “[p]revalence was not related to the respondent’s age… The lack of an association with age is consistent with there having been no increase in prevalence and with its causes being temporally constant.”

        1. LucyLulu

          And other studies report that the incidence of those with autism spectrum disorders are on the rise. There are also seems to be a geographical relationship to prevalence with some areas of the US having higher incidences than others. As one might suspect, silicon valley has a higher incidence, implying a genetic (inherited) component. Studies seem to consistently report higher prevalences among males.

          My sister has three sons. All three suffer from ASD, to different degrees, but significant enough that she’s justifiably concerned about their ability to ever live independently. Their father is an electrical engineer and brilliant. He designed the guidance system for the patriot missiles when they lived in Cambridge. He probably suffers from a mild ASD. My sister graduated from Harvard law and is a brilliant lawyer. I think she also probably has mild ASD. But neither’s symptoms are severe enough to interfere with leading successful careers. The combination of their genes though was a bad mix. We have a cousin who also I’m sure suffers. He went to John Hopkins at 14, at 17 he left school one semester short of his master’s, to start his own business writing programs for the large banks. He tried to get into PhD program at Harvard but was rejected b/c doesn’t even have h.s. diploma, much less any college degrees, lol, so he’s a research fellow now. Career-wise he was very successful, independently wealthy at this point, but he has zero social skills (is arrogant jerk). He got married to a really nice woman and his wife has been his salvation, God bless her. She’s a saint.

          That is the best hope for my sister’s children as well, IMO. And they’re nicer kids than my cousin, and almost as smart, though don’t function nearly as well, esp. since they all suffer from ADD (as did all six of my parent’s children, though none were ever diagnosed back then, esp since we were all girls and did well in school, out of being terrified of consequences of not doing well), the two youngest severe. It’s lucky that it strikes males more often since women are more likely to be willing to choose caretaker roles than men. My point, based on anecdotal evidence: It happens more often than realized, spouses help compensate for difficulties faced by those with ASD who are less severely challenged and assist them to integrate successfully into society.

  14. jsmith

    Mike Whitney on Central Bank coincidences:

    The entire article is worth reading, although it’s hard to swallow the whole “no one could have seen this coming” baloney. I mean, how many times have we seen this sort of thing before? Let’s see, there’s the US, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Japan, Australia, and now Canada. That’s a pretty impressive list of coincidences, isn’t it? And isn’t it funny how the exact same policies were put in place (low interest rates and lax lending standards), that produced the exact same results?

    It’s almost like the folks at the central banks and government wanted to blow up the system from the very start. How else can you explain the fact that we’ve seen a rash of these monster bubbles across the industrial world which have ravaged their respective economies and led inevitably to the implementation of harsh austerity measures? Coincidence?

    Not bloody likely. Easy-money bubblemaking is just part of a bigger plan to crush labor, eviscerate the safety net, and restructure the economy.

    1. Aquifer

      J – you are right, it is more and more obvious to all that this “who coulda node?” is pretty ridiculous, and i would think that might make them a bit worried – but the problem for them, ISTM, is, given that their Prime Directive is “make as much as you can as fast as you can”, they’re sorta stuck, ’cause they don’t know how to do that any other way …

      Once enough of us figure out that, of course they all “coulda node” and chose not to, we would, ISTM, have sufficient knowledge to realize we need to throw the bums out – but knowing the need for, and actually doing, are 2 different things, as i keep discovering ….. sigh …

      1. Synopticist

        I don’t want to sound like a shill, but, remember, people are f*cking stupid, especially when they’re getting paid to ignore the obvious.

        Wild booms are a part of history, they happen all the time. I can’t help thinking they really DID believe it would go up forever, but the nasty part was them seizing the oppotunity to shit on the poor when they realised they’d screwed up.

        1. Aquifer

          Syn –

          I don’t think folks are “stupid” – there are all sorts of reasons why they don’t make the changes that need to be made – inertia is a powerful force and it takes varying amounts of prodding to get ’em going – methinks we just have to keep at it – and sometimes it isn’t always a matter of applying more “force” but of applying it in a different place …

          The right fulcrum can make all the difference …

    1. Garrett Pace

      Absolutely fascinating, but one of these kids is not like the others

      The blurb above the photos implies that this practice ended decades ago:

      “There are only a handful left.”

      But the photo suggests otherwise. From a historical dictionary of Albania:

      “It was thought two decades ago that the sworn virgins had all but died out after 50 years of communism in Albania. Recent research…has shown, however, that there are still quite a number around.”

      (“Died out” referring to the tradition, not just the people.)

      1. Valissa

        Yeah, the young one indicates either that the practice continues or that Western gay culture as intruded. Perhaps the old tradition and the new mores are crossbreeding in some way. I wonder if any of the younger generation, such as the one in that photo, consider themselves homosexual. I also wondered if those ‘men’ remain abstinent.

        1. Aquifer

          It has occurred to me that women could put a stop to a whole lot of nonsense (let alone pop increase) if they would just get together in sufficient numbers and say “Nope!”

      1. hunkerdown

        This could be mega, especially if it spreads. It’s certainly one of the few effective ways that the plebes can directly and immediately affect the quality of life of the elites.

      2. Ms G

        Ok, now *that* is effective action. Cool. Bring on the sympathy strikes across our great global economy!

  15. Garrett Pace

    I found this interesting, sports journalist Rick Reilly on realizing he’s a chump after defending Lance Armstrong’s integrity for more than a decade.

    What is instructive is the role that “journalism” plays here, as a mouthpiece for the powerful who want to publicize a specific message. Mr. Reilly doesn’t come out and say it, but from his account it is clear that he was privileged, he got to be an insider, he got exclusive opportunities to be the man himself, and with that came the responsibility to carry water or lose that access.

    1. Garrett Pace

      er “to be WITH the man himself”.

      Also, I hope Mr. Reilly realizes that his access wasn’t because Armstrong thought he was such a keen guy, but because he was a reliable mouthpiece. That’s the sort of chump he got played for.

    2. Ms G

      Rick really didn’t “know” that he was an access-journalist and, therefore, that all of his writing or advocacy would be ipso facto stenography?


    3. Glen

      Don’t know about Lance (I had quit racing by then), but raced against LeMond as an amateur, and he was the real deal. He was obviously racing at a totally different level as a junior (teenager) racing against seniors (adults).

      He, and his bicycle company got destroyed by Lance after he publicly questioned Lance’s relationship with Dr. Michele Ferrari (an Italian doping specialist).

      And yes, I have to admit, never was a Lance fan, but that’s probably because my heroes were guys like Eddie Merckx and John Howard. LeMond was a guy I raced against and knew first hand was head and shoulders above any other amateur racer in his day.

    1. craazyman

      There’s got to be another world where the insane don’t crush the sane like ants. Let’s hope he’s there, now.

    2. Aquifer

      From the piece:

      “When we screw up, it’s for a reason. When other people screw up, it’s because they’re screwups. ………

      Every time you see yourself complaining about other groups or other people, stop yourself and think: “is it possible, is there any way, that someone out there might be making the same complaints about me?” …….

      It’s always easy to make yourself look good by finding people even worse than you.”

      Great observations, great advice, ISTM ….

    3. Howard Beale IV

      As Tom Peters once said in one of his books describing Semmeweis: “Perception Kills.”

  16. Hugh

    Does anyone remember all the hype about reforming the filibuster? Does anyone remember how all that evaporated? The gun debate has had longer legs, but I wonder if it in a couple of months, we won’t be asking the same questions about it.

    Does anyone seriously think that Obama would have nominated Jack Lew if he thought he was going to break with Geithner’s policies?

    If MIT administrators felt they weren’t complicit in Aaron Swartz’s suicide, they would be shouting it from the rooftops. How quiet they have been speaks volumes.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Stalemate is better. I’d rather have a completely dysfunctional Congress than one that could pass the Grand Bargain. Sure, I’d like a Congress that had some consideration for public purpose, but that’s not exactly on offer, is it?

        1. LucyLulu

          By default sequestration would take place. Fine by me, sounds better than most of the alternatives. But there’d be some people fit to be tied over the defense cuts. Yeah, people can go hungry, no problem, but we can’t do without that extra aircraft carrier.

          1. ambrit

            What if all those ‘redundant’ defense contractors were kept on the payroll doing useful work. Instead of bases and installations, build roads and bridges. The precedent is there; Eisenhowers Interstate Highway Program was initially floated as a national security priority. It just happened that commerce and people could flow as easily from coast to coast as troops and supplies. Now apply that logic to rail transport, as in, how will the Pentagons supply budget be affected by seven dollar a gallon gasoline? (First, rail is lots cheaper per ton than road, it’s just not as ubiquitous. Second, Straits of Hormuz.)
            Hey, if we’re talking about a Security State here, let’s get real about the security of the State! The business interests of America, (as distinct from the World Economy,) will learn the same lesson their predecessors in 1930s Germany did. At some point, the State realizes that it is the master, and the ‘puppets’ begin to pull the strings.

      2. different clue

        Well I won’t sign it. The only reason the Catfood Democrats want it is to stop any SS Democrats who may yet exist from filibustering the R-CD coalition from passing the BS Obama Catfood Plan.

        (R-CD above stands for Republican- Catfood Democrat).

  17. skippy

    OK…. who put a clone of Lance Armstrong in every conceivable position of authority, heads of finance and industry, governance… ????

    Skippy… I elect Lance Armstrong as the personality prototype of the new millennium. The breading thing is going to be a hoot in a few generations, having already started down that path!

    1. skippy

      The American cyclist revealed:

      he took performance-enhancing drugs in each of his Tour wins from 1999-2005

      doping was “part of the process required to win the Tour”
      he did not feel he was cheating at the time and viewed it as a “level playing field”

      he did not fear getting caught

      “all the fault and blame” should lie with him

      he was a bully who “turned on” people he did not like

      his cancer fight in the mid-1990s gave him a “win-at-all costs” attitude

      he would now co-operate with official inquiries into doping in cycling.

      Skippy… he also said the regulators were unable to regulate… sigh.

  18. Glenn Condell

    Re crustacean pain – everything you ever wanted to know about it (and then some) is contained in David Foster Wallace’s ‘Consider the Lobster’.

  19. Cujo359

    Every once in a while, I subconciously caption the Antidote du Jour “This will not end well.” Today is one of those days. Kitty better hope that stream bank isn’t as undermined as it appears to be…

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