Links 2/27/13

Behind schedule again. RSS and e-mail readers, check back by 8:00 for completed Links, and one more post will also have launched by then

Why did the hedgehog get in the sink? Prickly creature is seen FLOATING in water as he curls up into a ball when he is given a bath Daily Mail (Lambert)

Terrifying Sea Monster Found in New Jersey River Gawker. Lambert provides a Richard-Smith level anti-antidote.

Leatherback Sea Turtle Could Be Extinct Within 20 Years at Last Stronghold in the Pacific Ocean Science Daily (furzy mouse) :-(

Oceana Study Reveals Seafood Fraud Nationwide Oceana. Only buy fish you can look in the eye!

Plans for Titanic replica set sail as Australian billionaire avoids sink jinx Guardian

Document shows how much data cops suck up from suspects’ cell phones ars technica (Chuck L)

Justices Turn Back Challenge to Broader U.S. Eavesdropping New York Times. Assange’s call for people to start encrypting their communications looks more and more like the only way to go. The problem is a really large number of diverse people have to start doing it simultaneously. Isolated people using encryption is waving a red flag at the authorities.

CASH GRAB: Inactive bank accounts to be seized (1 SK)

Whoa! Did the mining boom just peak? MacroBusiness. Unexpected 4Q fall, just like US GDP. Hhhm.

China to tighten shadow banking rules Financial Times (Scott)

Bank chief raises the prospect of a base rate BELOW zero in bid to kickstart spending Daily Mail. Lambert: “In fact, no, you couldn’t pay me enough to borrow.”

Don’t worry: the Bank of England will never allow negative interest rates Telegraph

Mexico arrests powerful teachers’ union boss Financial Times

Revealed: Iran’s ‘Plan B’ for a nuclear bomb Telegraph. Oh boy, these news barrages are never a good sign.

Catfood watch:

Billionaires for Austerity: With Cuts Looming, Wall Street Roots of “Fix the Debt” Campaign Exposed Democracy Now (Rufus)

The false-alarmists behind this shrinking population panic Dean Baker, Telegraph. Everyone needs to memorize his core argument and repeat regularly to intergenerational hatred stokers.

Everybody Listen Up! The Deficit Is Actually Shrinking, Despite Beltway Propaganda Alternet (furzy mouse)

The sad record of fiscal austerity Martin Wolf, Financial Times. I wish someone would make everyone involved with Fix the Debt try to explain why Wolf is wrong. I guarantee the noise to signal ratio will be huge.

Another Attack of the 90 Percent Zombie Paul Krugman. I wish he’d gone after this a LOT sooner, but better now than never. You can read all sort of CBO analyses going back to at least 2011 which clearly make out the 90% level to be like going off the edge of the map.

The real problem with the sequester is that it unfairly targets the poor Guardian. Which is exactly the card Obame will use to get the Vichy Left to push for Social Security and Medicare cuts

The Sequester Is Awful And Obama Didn’t Even Try To Stop It New Economic Perspectives

How Do You Steal a Dream? Supreme Court hears suit to kill Voting Rights Act Greg Palast

Nominee for S.E.C. Tries to Allay Skepticism New York Times

Illinois special election 2013: Kelly wins special Ill. House race Politico (furzy mouse)

Medicaid game-changer: feds approve putting entire expansion population on exchange Ark Times (Lambert)

Conservatives Drink Bud, Liberals Drink Heineken? Alternet. This is based on how stores are stocked??? They find less brand variety in areas that are conservative? Did anyone look at a friggin map? Most rural areas are conservative. You are gonna have fewer brands there due to small average store size. This is retarded.

Wall Street bonuses rise 8% for 2012 Guardian

THE NEXT STOCK MARKET CRASH: Why Many Pros Think It Has Already Begun Clusterstock. Two weeks ago, nothing could stop the markets or the economy. If you take the headlines too seriously, you will get whiplash.

Judge tosses mortgage ‘robosigning’ case in Vegas Associated Press (Deontos). This is pretty astonishing, given that a former executive (the person ultimately supervising the two indicted) did a plea deal in which she admitted to one criminal count related to at least 1 million document forgeries. May post on this along with other stuff later today. This could just be an inexperienced deadbeat-hating judge (she’s been on the bench only since 2011) and/or a botched handoff in Masto’s office (she lost some important staffers after she signed on to the Federal/state mortgage settlement, some look to have quit in disgust, others may have been pushed out).

JPMorgan Chase to cut up to 4,000 jobs in 2013 Reuters

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Peter Pinguid Society

    At this morning’s staff meeting of the Pinguid Society, Professor Challenger’s topic was three ways to control the 99 percent. He started off by saying you already know this stuff, the Pinguid Society wrote the book on mind control, so this will just be a brief overview.


    Make quality where it no longer matters. Have quantity alone decide everything. Like this time will shed its qualitative, variable, flowing nature and freeze into an exactly delimited, quantifiable continuum, filled with quantifiable “things”. Such as the mechanically objectified “performance” of the 99 percent worker, wholly separated from his total human personality. In short, make time become space.

    99 percent man must be reduced to a mechanical part incorporated into a mechanical system. The system is already pre-existing and self-sufficient. It functions independently of him so 99 percent man has to conform to the laws of the 0.01 percent whether he likes them or not. For the 99 percent, this reduces space and time to a common denominator and degrades time to the dimension of space.


    To better control the 99 percent, create a situation whereby all relationships between people are refracted through an accumulation of objects and processes. The essence of commodity structure has already been pointed out by Marx. Its basis is a relation between people that takes on the character of a thing and acquires a phantom objectivity. To the 99 percent, this will seem so strictly rational and all-embracing that it will conceal its fundamental nature, i.e., controlling the relation between people.

    What you want is to make the public constantly aware of something they don’t quite yet know that they know – or have them feel that way. Because they’ll move on that, do you understand? They’ll think they thought of it first. It’s about transferring information, but at the same time about a certain lack of specificity.

    This set of relations has evolved from Marx’s notion of exchange-value. For Marx, exchange-value was a distortion of use-value; today, the separation of use-value from a particular object is taken further. The alienation associated with the production of goods for an abstract market beyond the immediate needs of the good’s producer (exchange-value) is transformed into the informational processing of those needs themselves.

    In order for 0.01 percent of the population to control everyone else, what you need is a culture that mentally clones the 99 percent. Mental cloning before biological cloning. Use matrix of acquired traits in order to clone the 99 percent culturally under the sign of the Monothought (such as the Obot, to give just one example) and all the innate differences between people will be annulled, inexorably, by ideas and ways of life, by the cultural context. Through school systems, media, culture and mass information, singular beings will become identical copies of one another. This is a kind of cloning – call it social cloning, the industrial reproduction of things and people – that makes possible the biological concept of the genome and genetic cloning, which only sanctions the further cloning of human conduct and human cognition.

    We are the Peter Pinguid Society, we are the 0.01 percent.

  2. Synopticist

    “Between 2007 and 2011, Peterson personally contributed nearly $500 million to his Peter G. Peterson Foundation to push Congress to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — while providing tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.”

    Half a billion bucks, spent to re-distribute money towards the 0.01%.
    And this guy can claim to be some sort of centrist, and gets treated as such by the MSM. Unbeleivable.

  3. Synopticist

    Wow, say what you like about Obama being in the pockets of Wall Street, but the new head of the SEC seems like a real toughy, doesnt she?

    I bet the financial plutocrats are quaking with fear at what she might bring. There’s no rational reason to expect her ties to bankers, or her husbands’, should lead her to take an easy line on finanial criminality.
    Surelly a new era with a clean and well regulated financial sector dawns.

    1. Laughing_Fascist

      From the NYTs piece:

      “He [Sherrod Brown] pushed Ms. White,” to explain “whether her previous employment or her spouse’s current employment could cause her to recuse herself from key business facing the S.E.C.”

      “Ms. White’s supporters counter that, before the White House announced the appointment, the Office of Government Ethics vetted her disclosures. The nonpartisan officials concluded that, even with her recusals, Ms. White could effectively run the agency.”

      This is patently stupid. The ethics office does not pass judgment on whether someone can effectively run the SEC. Its not surprising that shadowy and unnamed “supporters” might fabricate something like this (the supporters are in the White House). But its comical (and I guess SOP) for the NYTs to repeat unchallenged ludicrous WH propaganda.

      Mary Jo White is hopelessly compromised. But with the Times on the case her confirmation should run smoothly. The controversy according to the Times is that some are concerned she has not mastered the minutiae of financial rule writing (Mike Tyson probably said “Hey look at my shoelaces” just before latching on to Holyfield’s ear). And if some people are still experiencing concerns about her enormous conflicts, the NYTs implies that maybe you just don’t like animal lovers: “Mary Jo is a board member of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.”

      So which part of its readership is the NYTs trying to impress with these fairytale reports?

    2. Lidia

      The propaganda to that effect is really out there. My mom gets “the Kiplinger Report” and they were playing Bre’r Rabbit to Mary Jo White’s Briar Patch, stentoriously claiming that Business would sho’be quakin’ in its boots now that this new sheriff is in town.

  4. Ignim Brites

    Re: Dean Baker’s argument that productivity growth means standards of living can increase for future generations of workers despite a shrinking labor pool. Productivity growth depends on growth in capital equipment. Growth in capital equipment depends on increasing division of labor. It is difficult to see how the division on labor can increase when the pool of labor is shrinking.

    1. wunsacon

      “Division of labor” comes in many forms. Have you noticed the increasing diversity of electronic labor?

      – HFT

      – Drones

      – Self-driving cars (and trucks — 3m truckers out of work by what year?)

      – Vacuum cleaners

      – Lawn mowers

      – Warehouse runners

      – Pack animals

    2. J Sterling

      Division of labor hasn’t raised productivity since the nineteenth century: it was a one-off result of the Industrial Revolution. Productivity increases since then have been the result of technology, which depends only on time, not on population; and of the exploitation of the external environment, which gets less, not more, effective as the best parts are occupied first. Ricardo describes the latter effect in his theory of rent, and the oil industry is showing it in the ever-decreasing bites they take from their supposedly-good “reserves”.

      If population caused prosperity in a never-ending virtuous cycle, the Anasazi would still be here today.

      1. Ignim Brites

        There are workers who are employed in building capital equipment / technology. Sounds like division of labor to me.

  5. David Lentini

    Baker’s core argument against the population bust doomsayers seems to rely on two rather shaky assumptions:

    1. That productivity will contiues to grow over the next twenty years at least the same rate as the last twenty; and

    2. That workers will get to keep and enjoy the benefits of their gains in productivity.

    The first point can’t be proven in any way. The past twenty years have been quite unique in terms of the development and employment of new technologies. Moreover, some have begun to question just how great the increase in productivity actually was during that time.

    The second point is really off the wall. We know that the benefits of the gains in productivity (assuming Baker’s first assumption is true) were stolen by those at the top of the wealth distribution. Given that we’re suffering precisely becuase the 1% are holding on to the wealth they largely too from those who actually did the more efficient work, I would not be too sanguine that future improvements in efficiency would offset the retiree boom.

      1. Mike B.

        In defense of Dean, he does write “(It’s true that most workers have seen little benefit from productivity growth over the last three decades, but this points again to the importance of intra-generational distribution; it’s not a reason to be distracted by demographic nonsense.)” and “ordinary workers may finally start to see their share of the gains of the economic growth of the last three decades.” I think his point is that falling populations might make this more likely, not that it is inevitable.

      2. J Sterling

        If the owners can always win, then the owners can always win: so by pointing it out, you haven’t made the case for a growing population or against a shrinking one. To put it more bluntly: how, having made this prophecy of inevitable doom, could you then say that a shrinking population would leave the workers *more* screwed?

        I’m glad to see the “labor shortage” emperors’ nakedness is being pointed out in major press organs at last, even though the commenters are mostly confused. Baby steps…

    1. Denise B

      Perhaps he is merely reminding us again that the real problem is one of income and tax distribution, not one of insufficient numbers of workers to support the retirees.

  6. tom allen

    Looks from the link that the stickly-prickly hedgehog has finally succeeded.

    Painted Jaguar was sitting on the banks of the turbid Amazon sucking prickles out of his Paws and saying to himself—

    ‘Can’t curl, but can swim—
    Slow-Solid, that’s him!
    Curls up, but can’t swim—
    Stickly-Prickly, that’s him!’

    ‘He’ll never forget that this month of Sundays,’ said Stickly-Prickly. ‘Hold up my chin, Slow-and-Solid. I’m going to try to learn to swim. It may be useful.’

    “The Beginning of the Armadillos” — Rudyard Kipling

  7. Ms G

    Re. Arkansas plan to “just” transfer all of its Medicaid-eligible population, en masse, to private insurance (aka “the exchanges”).

    Very “check mate-ish” — sounds like one of the “how to execute” paragraphs from a Peterson/FixTheDebt
    instruction manual that hasn’t yet been leaked.

    I love this quote:
    In fact, Department of Human Services Director John Selig speculated that things would actually run more smoothly. “The most difficult part of the exchange was going to be people going from Medicaid to private insurance, back and forth as they went up and down [the] income line,” he said. “Now, you just keep [the private insurance company] as you go up or down. In a lot of ways this simplifies what happens on the exchange.”

    Obamacare “implementation” is exclusively about coming up with ways to re-jigger “systems” to work with the FrankenRubeGoldberg law. As opposed to actually focusing on how to deliver … health care.

    I know, feature not bug. Interesting (or not) to see how it’s playing out in practice. And how obvious it should be to *any*one (including Obobots) that ObamaFrankenCare is just a device to deliver the giant customer base of Americans-In-Need-Of-Health-Care to the insurance cartel.


    1. Ms G

      E.g., how wonderful that an entire legislature is focusing on how to make it less procedurally “messy” when people “go up or down.” As opposed to stopping for a moment to wonder — what kind of idiotic legislation makes receiving health care hinge on “going up or down.”

      1. Ms G

        Sorry, not just “up and down,” but “from here to there” (sideways — in and out of Medicaid and private insurance).

        It is almost as though some Obot policy wonk (Brown B.A. maybe?) creative classer sat down to figure out how to create a “system” with aesthetically balanced features, like “units moving up and down or left to right and vice versa.”

        Pitiful. Shameful. Inhumane.

    2. jrs

      So it will probably cost more but hey it’s all a plan to bilk the feds, let them waste their money! Except … in a few years it will be on the state to pay for it so we’ll have to rethink it then. Three years is just like so far in the future, who thinks that far ahead anyway? Let’s kick the can, go back and forth, and not even try for a plan that is stable and maintainable over the long run.

      I didn’t think a state could be run much worse than California, but that kind of takes the cake.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Thank you Ms G for saying what I couldn’t without including a string of expletives longer than the text of the affordable care act itself.

      As an Arkansan, I vow to never participate in O’Romney looting, not care. Might even change my residence to MO if it ever means I could qualify for health care without private for profit insurance.

      1. Ms G

        You are not alone. All of us are in the same boat. Would ever have dreamed 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago that we would come to this — thinking about taking residency in a different US state to avoid being forced to buy private insurance products? It used to be people just traveling to other countries to get *decent* and *affordable* health care. Now we’re reduced to just trying to avoid forced purchase of poison products. So low has the bar fallen.

        1. Lidia

          “avoid purchase of poison products”

          GMOs, also, too.

          Sincerely, US businesses have no other model any longer.

          I happened to make a long-distance phone call to Italy from my regular land-line, figuring “how much can it possibly cost?” Answer: $60 for 15 minutes, plus $14 tax.

          The idea is to make us run from one ass-raping to the next.

      1. Larry Barber

        I think he his referring to the original post, in particular the one dealing with the number of brands of beer in stores in different areas.

        1. Carla

          Re: Conservatives drink Bud, Yves said “…Did anyone look at a friggin map? Most rural areas are conservative. You are gonna have fewer brands there due to small average store size.”

          Actually, Yves, in many, many rural areas, Wal-Mart has put the small operators out of business. However, since Wal-Mart tends to stock truckloads of a given product rather offer true variety, the result could be similar.

    2. wunsacon

      If he’s “developmentally disabled”, why is “retarded” off-limits? … [googling] … Oh, I think I get it now…. The common use of the word “retarded” as an insult tarnished its original scientific use. Now we can neither (a) refer to intellectually challenged people with the same word and (b) use “retarded” as an insult without hurting the feelings of the-people-formerly-described-as-retarded. Okay, I’ll try to avoid using the term myself.

      Tangentially, I wonder if (this particular example of) political correctness is part of the “pro life” game plan. The argument sounds like: “Maybe pregnant women will more likely want to continue carrying a fetus with intellectual challenges than a retarded fetus.”

      Even more tangentially…

      >> Nor would you call a Deaf or Mute person as such, more correct terms would be “Hearing Impaired” and “Mouth Challenged”.

      In contrast to “retard”, were the terms “deaf” and “mute” ever commonly used as insults? I think not. So, I don’t get the point of “hearing impaired” or “mouth challenged”. And, if those terms ever catch on, won’t people eventually use them as insults, too? Like one of the other wikipedia commenters pointed out, the whole disabilities field is subject to “euphemism creep”.

      Generally, I’m disappointed that we must triple or quadruple the number of syllables to still say the same thing. (See Carlin’s commentary on “shell shock” vs “PTSD”. )

      1. Jeff N

        so never mind my feelings, as long as you don’t have to double or triple the number of syllables you have to speak.

        1. wunsacon

          Not sure you understood my post, which I started off by saying I’ll try to avoid using “retarded” as an insult going forward. (In your earlier post, you seemed to be reacting to that word alone.)

        2. wunsacon

          >> double or triple the number of syllables you have to speak.

          And, generally, yes, it’s a bad idea to make invent more complex ways of communicating old ideas. We all have a tough enough time with language as it is, at first even to understand each other’s writing superficially and then to mentally wade through each other’s sophistry.

          And I sorta doubt you watched the video. If Carlin were here, he might make the following argument: if *you* care about people’s feelings (for instance, the feelings of people suffering from “PTSD”), we’d still refer to them as suffering from “shell shock” and then give them as much treatment as they need (for an obviously serious-sounding problem).

    3. davidgmills

      So is my granddaughter so I have thought a lot about the word. It used to have some real meaning. But its abuse made it no longer correct to use in polite society, unless maybe you are talking about retarding the timing on an engine.

      1. direction

        My uncle was developmentally delayed but the use of “retard” still never bothers me, possibly because I never thought of him like that. I thought of him as someone who had Down’s Syndrome, and over the decades I watched the terms change. Developmentally retarded was the original term, then retarded was bad, handicapped was better. Then handicapped was bad and disabled was better, then disabled was bad and challenged was better. Then it finally seemed to settle on developmentlly delayed. or perhaps I’m behind the times now and something else is better.

        I also went through school when the rallying cry was “think globally, act locally” was the cry, and everyone was pushing for people to “embrace diversity” post desegregation. Now the ethnic studies departments have reversed from messaging on diversity to messaging on “cultural appropriation.” There was an incredible spat in the wikipedia communtiy as the international website tried to define the term aside from the american messaging contingent that had already focussed on their own definition.

        Which made me wonder how much of this political correctness which has us policing each others language has just served to divide and conquor the left. some leftists feel that self policing identity politics qualifies them as activists.
        I am very wary of its devisiveness.

        Just a thought.

  8. Ms G

    MUST READ — Today’s Pam Martens installment following the investigation of the Jack Lew and the NYU Loans Story — the circumstances get more sordid the more details emerge.

    Preview — today’s piece illuminates (and fills in) many previously unreported (but how unsurprising) linkages — primarily flowing from John Sexton the Harvard Lawyer — in the Lew NYU Mortgage Story. It’s a micro-flow-chart of Kleptocracy’s inner circle. Illustrating that if you just scratch the surface of any particular Kleptocratic story, it involves the same 20 or so people and entities.

    Martens today fills in the flow chart to include all of the following Dramatis Personae: John Sexton – Council on Foreign Relations (Rudin, Mary Jo White, Penny Pritzker)) – Federal Reserve (Sandy Weill Citibank) – NASD,

    Oh, and be sure to check out John Sexton’s own loan from NYU and the assorted non-cash compensation he gets from NYU. Whoa!

    1. Ms G

      Add Geithner to the spider-chart (links to Federal Reserve + Council on Foreign Relations and hence to all the other characters in this little web).

    2. Laughing_Fascist

      From Martens’ piece:

      “Weill held the distinction of one of the most obscenely paid executives on Wall Street but, nonetheless, was allowed to serve on the Board of his regulator, the New York Fed [while he was Chairman and CEO of Citi]. In just a five year period, Weill received compensation of $785 million.”

      I am shocked, SHOCKED to find incest at the NY Fed.

      “During that same fiscal year, Sexton had a loan outstanding from the University for $124,697; Lew’s loan balance was $747,805 and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Budget, Jeannemarie Smith, had a loan balance of $268,515.”

      So we know bad things go on but I have to admit its eye opening to see the numbers resulting from insiders very publicly raping the non-profit that employs them (Martens points out the docs are all filed in the public records).

      And Lew’s defilement of Citi dwarfs his plunder of NYU. We better get Lew into the U.S. Treasury ASAP before he hurts someone.

      1. Ms G

        And your theory about possible kickbacks (Citi to NYU) in re the student loans, is not a theory, but fact. Also from Martens’s piece:

        Yesterday, the uber conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal clicked off the problems it has with Lew: “Investor in Cayman Islands tax haven? Check. Recipient of a bonus and corporate jet rides underwritten by taxpayers at a bailed-out bank? Check. Executive at a university that accepted student-loan ‘kickbacks’ for steering kids toward a favored bank? Check. Excessive compensation with minimal disclosure? Check.”

        The kickbacks the editorial references were akin to what Bernie Madoff was doing in the “legitimate” stock trading side of his company. Madoff paid brokerage firms a penny or two a share to direct stock traffic to his brokerage business to steal trades away from the New York Stock Exchange. The practice was called “payment for order flow.”

        While Jack Lew was employed as a Vice President of Operations at New York University, his future employer, Citigroup, was named a “preferred lender.” NYU students were directed to Citigroup for student loans and the company reciprocated with the equivalent of “payment for loan flow,” kicking back to New York University .25 percent of the net loan value directed to it. The University said it used the funds, a whopping $1,394,563 between 2002 to 2007, as financial aid to other students.

        In 2007, New York State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, settled charges against the University, saying the practice constituted a conflict of interest and violated state law. The funds were returned to the student borrowers; NYU and Citigroup signed a Code of Ethics Agreement; and Citigroup chipped in $2 million to “educate” students about obtaining loans. (The investigation turned up broad based conflicts and payments between lenders and universities.)

        1. JTFaraday

          “No confidence” vote? Oh wait–why wasn’t there a “no confidence” vote in 2007?

          Permanent students all out of town?

    3. direction

      Ding ding ding- we have a winner! Fabulous (and equally disgusting) link, Miss G.

      I’m just glad he was able to buy into such a nice neighborhood (cough)
      4807 arlington ave, riverdale

  9. AbyNormal
    But the appeal of LNG goes beyond rising world energy use, as the technology that creates the product — supercooling natural gas so that it can be transported by ship — is helping to turn natural gas into a globally traded commodity like oil. There are still wide regional differences in natural gas prices, with North America by far the cheapest, Asia highest and Europe in the middle.
    Through astute trading, Shell believes it will be able to squeeze more than $1 billion per year in cash from the new LNG assets it is acquiring, according to a spokesman. Shell has roughly 8 percent of the global LNG market — the largest among Western oil companies.
    Profits from its residential energy supply arm rose 11% from a year earlier to £606m. It said gas consumption had risen by 12%.
    But there has been some criticism that the company increased its prices in November when profits were rising.
    Centrica’s dividends to shareholders have risen 6% and the company is also returning £500m to them.
    Profits were up 16% to £312m at British Gas’ residential services unit, which covers services such as boiler repairs.
    But Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at the price comparison website Uswitch, said: “Seven out of 10 of us actually went without heating at some point during this winter and over a third of us have reported that we feel it’s actually affected the quality of our life and also our health.
    “So no, I don’t think customers will be celebrating. I think they’ll be wondering why on earth British Gas had to take this move in November when they are making such high profits.”
    All of the big six energy suppliers raised prices this winter, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron to step in and say he was going to force them to put customers on their cheapest tariffs.
    Energy regulator Ofgem provided details of the plan last week, which will also limit the number of tariffs that suppliers can offer and force them to make bills clearer (that we will fuck you at every turn)…

    again an Again an AGain an AGAin an AGAIn an AGAIN

  10. GeorgeK

    Having moved from So-Cal to the Midwest I can attest to the lower volume of choices in the supermarket isles, even in very blue urban areas. Overheard last week in the market,”I guess that organic stuff is up and coming.”
    I grew up in the rural south where 50 lb bags of corn meal and four were commonplace. The lack of choice in food and drink is not something new.

  11. Jim Haygood

    From the NYT article about the Supreme Court’s rejection of a challenge to the FISA law:

    Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said that the journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates who challenged the constitutionality of the law could not show they had been harmed by it and so lacked standing to sue. The plaintiffs’ fear that they would be subject to surveillance in the future was too speculative to establish standing, he wrote.

    It is of no moment, Justice Alito wrote, that only the government knows for sure whether the plaintiffs’ communications have been intercepted. It is the plaintiffs’ burden, he wrote, to prove they have standing “by pointing to specific facts, not the government’s burden to disprove standing by revealing details of its surveillance priorities.”

    Catch-22: the monitoring is secret, but without access to those secrets (probably also illegal), you have no standing to challenge it.

    This ruling just goes to show that like the legislative body down the street, the Supreme Court is a failed institution which merely rubber stamps the whims of the executive. Wiretapping, torture, forced purchase of private insurance, cannibalism — anything goes with these hacks in black. (Okay, I lied about cannibalism, but that’s probably the only place where they still draw a line.)

    One can only hope they get hoisted by their own petard when the omnipresent surveillance catches one of them in flagrante delicto.

    1. neorealist

      I tend to think the SC rubberstamps, as does the executive branch, the demands of the MIC, the intelligence apparatus, and the Corporate Elites.

      As far as being caught “in flagrante dilicto”, I’ll bet they are probably warned about things that might come out about them if they rule against those power centers.

    2. davidgmills

      The issue of standing is an extraordinary Catch 22 when secrecy is the primary issue of the case. It is bad enough in a case against a corporation (like ATT) spying on you but when the government does it and violates the fourth amendment, it is particulary pernicious.

      I guess you can not prove harm until someone in the government blackmails you. Then maybe you would have standing.

    3. Ms G

      “The plaintiffs’ fear that they would be subject to surveillance in the future was too speculative to establish standing, he wrote.”

      This is the the giveaway that he’s dishonest (because he’s not dumb, at least in the IQ sense of term).

    4. Maximilien

      Another 5-4 decision. Same 5, same 4.

      However, I quibble with the term “rubberstamp”. A real rubberstamp would be 9-0. This SC cleverly avoids that. Instead, it consistently renders the same split decision so as to appear a serious, deliberative body. It’s not. It’s a laughing-stock.

  12. jsmith

    Sober assessment of Italian election returns:

    Grillo, despite his tirades against corrupt politicians and the wealthy, is one of the top earners in the country. In 2011, he paid taxes on an official income of €4.5 million, and said proudly: “I have really earned my money.”

    Behind his populist tirades lies a right-wing liberal world view, which would not stop him from cosying up to the far right. Grillo insists that he is neither right-wing nor left-wing, and invited neo-Nazis and supporters of the racist Northern League to support his movement, “if they share our ideas”.

    In the northern Italian city of Parma, where Grillo’s Five Stars Movement has held the office of mayor since May, it has made headlines mainly through implementing strict austerity measures.

    Grillo’s programme is a muddled collection of unrelated demands, such as can be found with the Pirate Party, the Greens, and liberal and right-wing parties: free internet access for all, ecological energy, no money for defence and major transportation projects, benefits for all, protection of domestic industries from international competition, restriction of politicians’ salaries, cutting jobs in the state apparatus, and so on.

    The fact that opposition to the austerity measures of Monti and the EU has benefited the populist Grillo and right-wing demagogue Berlusconi is a result of the utter bankruptcy of the so-called Italian left.

    1. Ms G

      @jsmith, thank you for posting.
      This gives one pause, and certainly a sobering view of BG. The way you summarized his positions and behavior he almost sounds like the Joker version of Obama. :(

      1. Jessica

        The key point will not be who Grillo is, but what the Grillisti do in the Parliament and how.
        Will Five Stars prove to be genuinely democratic or will it turn into just another mechanism for funneling power to a handful?

  13. diane

    More on lampreys, which invaded the Great Lakes in the fifties. If I recollect correctly, Lake Erie had one of the worst problems, exacerbated by pollution from the steel industry. I think the camera lens and angle used on the Gawker picture made it look far larger than it is; although, by the size of the spear it’s on, it does look significantly larger than the average 8-13 ouncers referenced and photographed in this piece: Sea Lamprey.

    Hmmm, maybe they can do a test market in the Senate Dining Hall, if they don’t already have one:

    For centuries, river lampreys have been considered a delicacy in Europe — King Henry I of England, in a fit of royal gluttony, is said to have died from a “surfeit of lamprey.”….

    1. direction

      One of the biggest rivers in my area was misnamed the Eel River due to the indigenous lamprey population. They are fascinating migratory animals, extremely primitive vertebrates, and they have a functional “third eye.” Don’t you wish your pineal gland could do that?

    2. diane

      Hmmm, perhaps not …regarding that Senate Dining Hall suggestion I made, likely way too close to visible cannibalism (and We wouldn’t want that, ….would We). visible, ….being the key word.

  14. And I'm... Robert Siegel...Stop the presses!

    Topic: why NPR refused to report on single payer during the 2009 healthcare debate

    In case anyone reading this still listens to NPR, keep in mind that the reason the “liberals” at NPR did not run any stories on single payer during the 2009 healthcare debate is because it’s corporate sponsors include: Farmers Insurance Group of Companies (over $1 million), Prudential Financial ($500,000 – $999,999), Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, Allstate Insurance Company, Northwestern Mutual Foundation ($250,000 – $499,999), AARP, The Hartford Financial Services Group, UnumProvident ($250,000 – $499,999), etc

      1. direction

        Love to see links like this, thank you. It seemed like such a mystery that single payer was getting no airplay. I also seem to recall a lot of negative messaging on Facebook at the time.

  15. Brent Musburger Jr. (news anchor)

    Breaking News! This Just In!

    GE and Comcast (the owners of MSNBC) have announced that as part of their cost cutting measures, Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes (the Nation’s editor) are to be replaced by a talking version of the IPS5100 Intelligent Platform, the same ready-to-run platform that enables 360° local situational awareness and is integrated into a broad range of existing and new military vehicles, operating in war zones in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

    But if you’re a progressive Democrat who watches MSNBC, don’t worry. The IPS5100 will be programmed to identify a voice pattern corresponding to voice data retrieved from a Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes dialogue voice database. According to a GE spokesman, this machine has been programmed to give you the news with a liberal slant, and once you get used to its slightly altered voice, you won’t be able to tell any difference between the IPS5100 machine and the real Rachel Maddow or Chris Hayes.

    Story developing….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the long arm of the 0.01%’s for-profit division can’t deliver, they can also rely on the other long arm of their non-profit division to do the job.

    2. Ms G

      Wow, Brent, this is totally awesome — you should compare notes with our own “Kos” poster — he had a piece about the console-controlled media pundits revealing similar features — this one goes way past, though!

      1. Brent Musburger Jr. (news anchor)

        Thanks Ms G,

        I think your “Kos reader” (or parody of a Kos reader) might have been consulted for this story.

        The IPS5100 Intelligent Platform replacing the GE / Comcast liberals Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes is just another case where we think information is producing meaning, but in fact the opposite occurs, and information is devouring its own content.

        But will the hapless public ever catch on?

        1. Ms G

          Ha – By gum, I knew it! It is good practice to consult, generally. But I must differ on information — I don’t think that “information” as it is deployed in the context you describe so well is a vessel of content — its just empty materiel like any other, viz. bullets, poison gas, drones. So I don’t see it as “devouring itself” since it has no “self.”

          Phew. Now I don’t have to have another deep thought for … a lo-oong time :)

        2. Maximilien

          “But will the hapless public ever catch on?”

          They will if they start having disturbing dreams while sleeping in front of the TV.

  16. Herman Sniffles

    In the late 1980’s I was living in Malaysia at another beach which was a major nesting area for these turtles. A beach called Rantau Abang. Every night employess from all the little waterfront hotels would scour the beautiful tropical beach all night long in the moonlight watching for nesting turtles. When they found one they would run around wildly banging on the doors of the hotel rooms, waking up the tourists so they could run down to the beach and watch her lay her eggs. One time there was a Japanese film crew there doing a documentary on the turtles. The crew was having problems with their equipment, but the turtle had finished laying her eggs and was struggling back down the beach trying to get back to the ocean. One of the hotel imployees stuck a shovel handle down into the sand and levered it against her shell right next to her head, stopping her progress while the film crew got their lights and cameras set up. As she struggled in the sand, trying valiantly to push along – pathetically scraping at the sand with her huge flippers but trapped by the shovel – several European tourist women fell to the ground on their knees next to her, put their hands on her leathery shell, and began weeping uncontrollably. It was a sight I’ll never forget (and which probably didn’t show up in the Japanese documentary). When the film crew had their cameras and glaring hallogen lights all set up, they let her go, and the poor thing crawled down to beach and disappeared into the waves in the glaring camera lights. Another time one of the magnificent creatures had dug her hole in the sand with her back feet the way they do, and she was dropping her eggs into it under the lights of tens of flahslights, with a couple dozen tourists watching (and, admittedly, me too). As we all watched, a Malay guy came out of the undergrowth next to the beach with a five gallon plastic bucket and placed it under her tail in the light of the flashlights. The eggs just kept plopping out of her, and when the bucket was full of eggs the Malay guy just stumbled away with the heavy bucket full of eggs back up into the shadows. I asked one of the hotel staff what he was going to do with the eggs and he smiled and said to me “makanan” (food). This is an area where they were supposed to be 100% protected by the Malaysian government (I also saw their eggs, called “telur,” for sale in the market in KL, under a cardboard sign with a picture of a turtle wearing sunglasses). There were several researchers there studying the turtles. One of them was an English WWF guy who was a seriously obnoxious, snoddy, rude, and arrogant human being for whom I purposely never purchased a beer, cold or otherwise. Another was a stoic Scottish biologist who was so broke she had to pretend that her camera had been stolen to get the insurance money to pay for her eventual flght home. And then there was Sarala, a lovely Indian-Malaysian girl in her twenties – perhaps the most charming human being I’ve ever met – who I believe is now some kind of big shot with the WWF, and who was obviously the star of the local turtle conservation efforts. But Sarala (God what a lovely name) told me then – sitting together at a table under a coconut palm as I helped her type her reports on an old manual typewriter, with little tropical waves hissing up onto the white sand beach next to us – that there was basically no hope for the turtles. They were getting caught and drowned, she told me, in the miles and miles of gill nets that lay just off the beach, and they liked to eat plastic bags that look like jelly fish when they float in the water, and that bind up their guts and kill them. The bags (pink, made of very thin plastic) which vendors sell their food in along the beach, and which the customers just drop in the sand when they have finished their snack for the tide to carry out to the turtles. The local Malays thought she was wrong. They told me continually that the turtles “have always nested on our beach, and they always will.” But it seems they themselves were wrong, and lovely Sarala was right. I read recently that a turtle hasn’t nested on the beach at Rantau Abang in years and years, where previously hundreds of them nested every season. And by the way, these things are unbelievable large. It’s kind of like watching a volkswagen bug lay its eggs. We’re a scourge, we humans, and that’s for sure.

    1. direction

      So sad.

      Here in Mexico there are many local efforts to collect and tend eggs in greenhouses on the beach so the temperatures can be controlled, and then the local community gets involved with releasing the young hatchlings. many species return to breed in the area they were born so I wonder if hatchlings could be brought in to repopulate that area.

  17. Hugh

    The Telegraph’s story on the Iran’s Plan B is beyond stupid. The heavy water plant at Arak is for a 40MW research reactor producing radio-isotopes for use in medicine. It could also produce about 20 pounds of plutonium a year, enough for one or two bombs.

    But here is where the article goes off the rails. The article makes it sound like processing the plutonium would be a big deal. It is actually a lot easier separating out the plutonium than it is uranium isotopes. It is my understanding that you can make smaller, more powerful weapons with plutonium. The trade-off not mentioned in the article is that a plutonium device is much harder to make.

    The hard part with a uranium device is getting the uranium. Once you have the material all you have to do is slam it together with sufficient force and it goes boom. However doing this in a small space, say like a missile warhead is harder.

    A plutonium device would be good for warheads but it needs special explosives and precision detonators for it to work. Unlike a uranium device, you would really need to test a plutonium device to see if your design worked. For example, North Korea’s first test in 2006 was an enormous fizzle. It conducted a second more successful test three years later in 2009 and a third test this year. It is likely that none of these devices equalled a Hiroshima type blast. And seven years on, the North Koreans still don’t have a missile ready warhead.

    The Telegraph article doesn’t get into any of this and reads like what it is, a plant.

  18. Hugh

    Re the Supreme Court, the Alito decision shows an understated but defining characteristic of the Roberts Court. At his confirmation, Roberts likened himself to an umpire calling strikes between the Executive and the Congress. I think this is one of the few truthful things Roberts said at his hearings, though it was mischaracterized at the time as reflecting a commitment to impartiality rather than a restriction on standing. But Roberts made his view quite clear in his dissent in EPA vs Massachusetts railing against the state of Massachusetts’ suit claiming overall damage to individuals affected by rising coastlines. For Roberts, for purposes of standing, an individual, not the state, would have had to show individual harm to sue. As I said, Roberts was writing in dissent at the time, but I think his view has prevailed and the FISA case of Clapper vs ACLU shows this.

    You have to understand the Roberts doctrine is really a double whammy and gets back to his statement at his confirmation. First, Roberts sets up a high bar to individual challenges to federal law on the basis of standing. Second, he will favor the Congress or the Executive over the individual on the merits. The result leaves Roberts mostly where he wants to be adjudicating disputes between the Executive and the Congress.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Conservativs…Bud, Liberals…Heineken.

    It’s not so much that as we all are conditioned to drink the Koolaid – the choice of the clean-brain (i.e. brains that have been washed).

    Apparently 100 out of 100 of us recommend it.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Inactive bank accounts to be seized.

    That’s not so different from ‘if you don’t spend your money today, it will buy less gas, healthcare and/or milk in a the-core-is-not-inflating world.’

          1. Ms G


            “ck” is only awkward as written. it scans fine in the utterance.

            ObankCare ObankCare ObankCare … tra-la-la … I’m going to get me some ObankCare … my ship’s come in!

    1. Andrew Watts

      That story falls under the “Headlines from the Great Depression” category.

      We can expect the state to resort to even more desperate measures as their economic prospects continue to dwindle.

  21. DEFCON 1 Ah-ooga Ah-ooga

    Clownish Bank of America shitheads Robert W. Cook and Amy. K. Taylor commissioned TEKSYSTEMS to keep watch on the enemies of bank fraud and theft. Only thing is, Par:AnoIA grabbed their intel off an Israeli server for all the world to see.

    Who, you ask, was caught up in their implacable, argus-eyed net? Yves! [terrifying flat orchetral tutti] You can run but you can’t hide! She’s in the file 25509.txt

    What an honor, to be an enemy of BAC’s criminal scumbags.

      1. Ms G

        This one worked. But now I can’t find a link to the “320 mgs” file with all the material re. blogs, posts, etc. The links to data seem only to relate to the cache of Bloomberg files on execs and employees.

  22. diane

    I just fricken lurve the link I’m going to follow with, as in: Silicon Valley is termed: South Bay when anything NEGATIVE is uttered about it:

    11/27/12 Why Is the Bay Area Seeing Higher Breast Cancer Rates?

    Some South Bay communities, including San Mateo County, northern Santa Clara [THE GUT OF SLY CON VALLEY] and southern Alameda Counties, also have higher than average rates.

    Here’s another ‘fun’ linky for all:

    Google Buildings Polluted With Toxic Vapors From Chemical Spills

    (Read: SuperFund sites, Silicon Valley has the Nations Record for, as yet not cleaned up, Toxic SuperFund Sites, so does Anna Eshoo’s Sly Con Valley Congressional District. ….For shame, as she is a Female who has made a great deal of money in Sly Con Valley; ……silly and shamed me, I voted for her, once upon a time. And guess what?, Larry Page And Surgey Brinn will not be spending their days at those Googleplex sites, as they very most likely knew about that environment at their inception.)

    1. diane

      thank you! …. for the now black and blue, huge breast tumor (that I now have no money to treat it with, let alone a roof over my head in the oncoming months), “Anna”.

      If I’d known you were actually a Republican, I never would have voted for you.

      1. diane

        Might I ask what you intuit from the links I’ve provided, in a comment directly above Pigface Ortiz of the DoJ sty says:‘s comment, as one female to another?

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