Links 3/5/13

Chimp ‘girl talk’ is more negative BBC

US Crude Production Exaggerated in Order to Keep Consumption High OilPrice

Australian miners fired for ‘Harlem Shake’ Guardian :-(. They were better than the guys from Brisbane.

China’s Extreme Real Estate Bubble: Globalization Is a Fraud, a Castle Built On Sand Jesse

Spain Has A Long Way To Go Down Roel

Money-Laundering Suspicion Stalls Europe’s Latest Bailout Wall Street Journal. Not just Russian black money. I know someone who did business with other shady characters via companies in Cyprus

Obama Wades Deeper Into Syria’s Morass Counterpunch (Carol B)

We must resist Netanyahu and the hawks’ reckless push for war on Iran Guardian

How Far Will the US Go to Derail Iran-Pakistan Pipeline? OilPrice

Aaron Swartz’s Partner Accuses Prosecutors of Misconduct as Quinn Norton Details Grand Jury Testimony DS Wright, Firedoglake

Catfood watch:

Republicans move to avoid government shutdown Reuters

Poll: Most feel sequester will personally affect them CBS

How the Postal Service Is Being Gutted James Royal, Motley Fool. Please read and circulate.

A Drone? A Really Big Bird? A UFO? What Did Alitalia Pilot See Near JFK? CBS (jawbone)

New York subway riders swipe back at fare hikes Grist

Red Lake Nation Tribal Members Blockade Enbridge Pipelines YouTube (Lambert)

Family says slain Clarksdale mayoral candidate was beaten, dragged, set on fire; suspect waives extradition Commercial Appeal (Chuck L)

Extreme wealth inequality in the USA MacroBusiness Some of the comments are amusing. Down under, they seem not to believe we have an entire party and a stealth second one devoted to trickle down economics!

Time to Bury Pew Report on Wealth by Age Group Dean Baker (Carol B)

Fallout from ‘Untouchables’ Documentary: Another Wall Street Whistleblower Gets Reamed Matt Taibbi. This is a stunning precedent.

BofA loses claim over bond insurance Financial Times

Senate Report Said to Fault JPMorgan New York Times

The latest failed effort to blame the Community Reinvestment Act for Accounting Control Fraud Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives

Corporate Profits Are Eating the Economy Atlantic (Carol B). So what are you neoliberals gonna do about it?

New Study Finds ‘The Onion’ Has Never Been More Popular, More Beloved, Or More Respected Onion

Antidote du jour:

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  1. fresno dan

    “New Study Finds ‘The Onion’ Has Never Been More Popular, More Beloved, Or More Respected Onion”

    OR MORE TRUE! – awfully hard to do parody in these times…

    1. Doug Terpstra

      HuffPo competes with The Onion:

      “FBI Warns Sequestration Will Hamper All Their Hard-Hitting Wall Street Investigations.”

      “[The DOJ] warns that spending cuts will hamper its ability to investigate Wall Street fraud . . . [and] will cause current financial crimes investigations to slow as workload is spread among a reduced workforce. In some instances, such delays could affect the timely interviews of witnesses and collection of evidence.”

      Yes indeedy, after only five short years, just when vigorous investigations, performed at breakneck speed, are at the cusp of bearing fruit with widespread indictments and prosecutions . . . We simply must cut Social Security in order to keep the implacable wheels of justice turning. Who knew the FBI had such a wicked sense of humor. The truth is so much funnier than fiction.

      In other news, if Medicare is allowed to follow its unsustainale trajectory, the SEC’s access to online porn could be sharply curtailed.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Especially funny when delivered in dead earnesty with a perfectly straight face. John Cleese could be the FBI’s perfect spokesman.

          “Of course the president has absolutely nothing to lose in these negotiations … What? Oh … never mind … when you said sequestration I thought you said ‘see castration’.”

          1. Ms G

            That is *bang* on :)

            And no one better than Cleese to deliver straight-faced your bit about the Sequester impact on internet porn viewing at The Office (curtailment thereof).

    2. Di

      Dear Yves,

      I was reading your post from a year ago, Feb 2012 about Davidson’s exploitation of the market. I am still puzzled and confused, is there no straight answer to the question? It is the same question I have within myself and I see it all around me almost daily. Sometimes I feel like really screaming. Really.

      Here’s what I see every day: Person with deep pockets imports $10,000 worth of goods from China. There are 50 crates of these items and if you broke it all down. You would have each item costing a tenth of a penny.

      Person puts 200 items up for sale on Ebay, or online somewhere in the United States for $50.00 Good deal, and I don’t have the otherwise resources to do something like that myself.

      I look around online at various internet boutiques, and this is really where I feel like pulling hairs out and screaming and running up and down the streets screaming my lungs out, and waving both arms around like a looney.

      Identical item, worth .20c each. Selling for $45 each or more, and not just selling, but occasionally selling out.

      Economically speaking, 1 retailer, or a handful of retailers are making a 450,000% markup on an item that the manufacturer charged a tenth of a cent for.

      That is Davidson’s exploitation or naked capitalism at it’s finest moment, and I see it repeated addendum in this country of the United States. Is it fair? Should I just join in and reap profits or should I end it? Would ending it cost some US workers their jobs or an entire factory to shut down because China makes it cheaper and telling everyone that they can get said goods for dirt cheap end the ability of the manufacturer to sell such goods at fair trade prices?

      Or, is that manufacturing job already gone and not coming back? How the hell do you determine that?

      I’m pretty sure I could end it really fast, in that one market, but what about other, similiar markets that I don’t know about?

      Also, I’ve tried ending exploitation in online video games, and what always, always happens is, someone buys up all the inventory available, and sets a newer higher price, which everyone must then pay until more can be found. I’m pretty sure it must also happen in naked capitalism as well.

      So maybe I shouldn’t meddle, and I should just buy my product for cheap and mind my own business and consider myself 450,000% more competitive than those that don’t have the rare knowledge, research, and intuition to shop around.

      But then you have the argument of social networking, and that all business persons in the same trade should assist one another in a very general sense of a medieval trade guild. That what benefits one, should then be shared to benefit all. So tell me Yves, what it is the answer, shall I let the world know that the little whatchimadigit costs a tenth of a cent to make and that paying $45 for one is capitialist exploitation EXTREME?

      1. Procopius

        I’m surprised nobody has replied to your question yet, so I’ll give it a try. Anything is “worth” what somebody will pay for it. Prices are not set by what something costs to produce but by what the customers are willing to pay. I remember during the oil embargo in 1973 people complaining about the “unfairness” of OPEC wanting to charge $30 a barrel for oil that it only cost them a couple of dollars to pump out of the groung. That’s not the way it works. The price is set by what people are willing to pay. That’s why medical costs are going up so fast.

        The neoliberal remedy is “free markets,” where it is assumed anyone cam become a supplier without cost or other barrier and “competition” magically drives prices down to where there is exactly no “profit.” As you note, it doesn’t work that way in the real world, or even in online games where there are, in fact, barriers to entry and sometimes collusion among suppliers.

        I really don’t know what resources to suggest to you. Marx’s Capital, Vol. 1, discusses “value,” but he doesn’t have an alternative mechanism to establish prices. I like Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class for an explanation of the current income inequality, but that’s not what you’re asking about. I’m not an economist, so maybe there’s some accessible literature out there that I don’t know about.

  2. DC Resident

    The Chinese real estate bubble clip by 60 Minutes doesn’t mention one enormous difference between the American and Chinese housing bubbles; Americans took out large mortgages on their house(s) while Chinese simply purchase their houses/apartments. In other words, when the market went south, millions of Americans couldn’t afford their house and were kicked out. If the Chinese housing market follows a similar trajectory, Chinese folks (for the most part) would simply lose property value.

    1. Can't Help It

      True, but hopefully they will still have jobs though, because if the global economy were to have another crisis, then not only you may have lost your job, but you’ll need to liquidate at possibly low prices, and given this is China with the attendant lack of confidence in even basic things like food, inflation will be severe i.e. you are still screwed.

      Actually what I found “boring” about that whole talk is how they always return to Ordos as an example. I think no one is disputing that it’s empty, etc, etc, but we really need a list of how many of those empty cities there are in China. If there’s 5 to 10, that may still not say anything at all.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We are lucky they are not stimulating their economy by researching/producing drones.

        Or maybe I spoke too soon…

        Perhaps they are stimulating their economy, at least in one building in Shanghai, by hiring billions (ok, hundreds of millions) of hackers.

    2. Really?

      Seems to me the Chinese have simply created the first post-modern real estate boom. Yes, it’s technically “real estate” in that it does indeed occupy land and the space above it and does seem to have at least some small material substance to it, but unlike the American real estate market, made up of countless many millions of overpriced units which can’t be sold, the Chinese version has countless many more millions of similarly overvalued of units, which, although they’ve certainly been sold, were never meant to actually be lived in in the first place! And as a counter to American derivatives markets, made up of countless trillions of dollars worth of totally imaginary investments worth real economic value, the Chinese produce countless trillions of dollars of real investments worth only totally imaginary economic value. I think what we’re seeing here is nothing less than the first large scale demonstration of the yin and the yang of the world financial markets in action! What will those wily Asians think up next?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In Chinese yin/yang cosmology, north is yin and south is yang, water is yin and fire is yang.

        The Great Wall is in the north and faces the fire of the desert.

        They can complement that with a Great Sea Wall in the south, to keep out refugees from across the Pacific ocean.

        And because heaven is round and yang, and earth is square and yin, the Great Wall is made up of rectangular blocks, the Great Sea Wall will be made up of round pebbles.

      2. Really?

        And to top it all off, most of that imaginary living space / “investment property’s” initial construction was probably initially funded by Chinese held American government issued bonds of equally dubious value; the Chinese’ willingness to hold them being one of the primary determinants of that value. Man, this is really starting to read like, what else… a Chinese riddle! Or, simply just another international Ponzi scheme with an Asian accent.

      3. Crazy Horse

        Actually there is a very logical solution to the Chinese problem of overpriced cities with no residents. Jamie Dimon should just have his buddy Ben cut JPM a no interest loan and buy the nicest one. He’d probably have to convert the dollars to gold first before the Chinese would accept payment, but if closing is set within the next 60 days that shouldn’t be a problem.

        Then Wall street along with the New York stock exchange and all the too big to fail banks can move there and be at the center of the New World instead of having to live in third world conditions in a dying city where beggars roam the streets.

        1. Really?

          I was thinking along the same lines too. Then they could even bid up the prices on their real imaginary real estate investment by selling it back and forth between real shell (virtual) financial corporations set up for the sole purpose of capturing imaginary value. In a virtual world, virtual is the new real and real is relegated to the merely virtual. Unless you don’t have a real roof over your head or real food to eat and water to drink, which case you’re more than likely really f***ed. But I digress…

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They already made money from all the artifacts dug up during construction.

      A lucky discovery of a Ming Xuande blue and white and you can build and let sit idle for years a 20-story condo building.

      1. Aldous

        The best part of the video was the sponsor they mentioned at the end, Viagra. It’s just so fitting. Artificial growth and all ;P

  3. j.s.nightingale

    Hmm, no link to the 2,000 page State Department report saying that since the environment is hosed anyway, the Keystone Pipeline will only make 2 or 3 per cent incremental difference (my interpretation – correct me if it is otherwise).

    What boggles my understanding is the stunning lack of any notion that the administration can use this decision to get some big political concession in return. After all, the stated beneficiaries of a pipeline are well-known for funding many of the efforts to double down on austerity. Can they not be presented with a quid pro quo from the long list of fiscal iniquities we are daily outraged with?

    1. different clue

      The Obama Administration equally supports austerity. The Obama Administration has been conspiring to achieve it ever since taking office.

  4. Crazy Horse

    Thanks for posting that picture of me at my favorite swimming hole. The way the season in the Sierras is shaping up I may only be able to take dust baths next summer.

    1. Really?

      Got a little “gamey” over the winter I see. Oh well, that’s what winter’s are for.

    2. Accrued Disinterest

      Pointing the toes a little straighter would have earned you a little higher score from the Russian judge. Just sayin’.

  5. Contempt of court

    Re Taibbi, wish I was stunned by official retribution agRe Taibbi, wish I was stunned by official retribution against Michael Winston’s probity, instead of, Well, sure. Of course California judges are nothing but button men for Mozilo’s mafia. The US judiciary is rotten to the core, to the point where even the odd favorable ruling means jack shit. As Manfred Nowak says, “in many countries the judicial system is among the most corrupt institutions of the state.” …of course that only applies to torture states, Nowak’s specialty.

    After 9/11 the CIA nomenklatura shut the Supreme Court down with illegal US government chemical weapons so it could set the constitution aside. Nobody with a 3-digit IQ thinks we have an independent judiciary. Every judge in American will take elite ass-to-mouth and ham it up for camera. That’s their job.ainst Michael Winston’s probity, instead of, Well, sure. Of course California judges are nothing but button men for Mozilo’s mafia. The US judiciary is rotten to the core, to the point where even the odd favorable ruling means jack shit. As Manfred Nowak says, “in many countries the judicial system is among the most corrupt institutions of the state.” …of course that only applies to torture states, Nowak’s specialty.

    After 9/11 CIA shut the Supreme Court down with illegal US government chemical weapons so it could set the constitution aside. Nobody with a 3-digit IQ thinks we have an independent judiciary. Every judge in American will take elite ass-to-mouth and ham it up for camera. That’s their job.

  6. Brindle

    Re: “Corporate Profits Are Eating the Economy”

    Derek Thompson is the senior Business writer for the Atlantic.

    This article is written at about the 7th grade level as far as any comprehension or understanding.
    It is essentially drivel, pablum.

    —“A growing economy and lower unemployment should eventually give U.S. workers a long-deserved raise (and so should rising labor costs overseas that persuade more companies to hire domestically).
    But improvements in technology and the ability of companies to hire locally as they chase worldwide demand are just two factors that should restrain any optimism we can keep corporate profits from gobbling up more and more of the economy. Workers still need help — and they certainly won’t find it in the sequester.”—

    1. Expat

      Another laissez faire apologist. As if 40 years of non-democratic government, i.e., stripping the gains of the many in order to enrich the few, were natural. Humans could not have created even one billionaire were neoliberal individualism a natural state. Unfortunately for us, we cooperated to create billionaires and now we can’t seem to get together to get rid of them.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      …a long deserved raise…

      That’s core inflation there – a very dangerous stuff, googol-times more potent than food and energy prices.

  7. Valissa

    For all the crow fans here… just be-caws…

    Crows descend on Bothell for nightly slumber party

    Thatcher Statue Now Weeping Blood, Killing Crows

    I know there are lots of fans of ponies here as well. This post has 3 great pony videos, enjoy!

    Exclusive: Moonwalking Shetland Pony: The Sequel

  8. jsmith

    More on how John Kerry, William Hague and others in violation of US law in giving aid and assistance to know terrorist groups – e.g., Al Ciada – in Syria.

    I nice interview on American hypocrisy vis a vis Syria and our bestest buds Saudi Arabia, Bahrian and Qatar.

    More on the sequester: Emphasis mine.

    “Obama administration and both big business parties are in agreement that the attacks on jobless benefits, education and other social programs triggered by the sequester are only the starting point for even more draconian cuts to come. The main targets of the next round of cuts will be the core programs that provide health care for seniors and low-income families and benefits for retirees—Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

    The media presentation of the sequester as a symptom of “gridlock” and bitter policy differences between the Democrats and Republicans is a cynical fraud. While the corporate flunkies in the press promote the myth of “divided government,” the two big business parties move in lockstep ever further to the right.

    Both parties embraced the sequester, which was initially proposed by the Obama White House, as the best means for imposing immensely unpopular cuts and creating the conditions for even more brutal austerity measures. In reality, there has never been a period in US history where there was such a degree of unanimity within the political establishment on basic policy issues—from war and subversion abroad to attacks on democratic rights and the social conditions of working people at home.

    Whatever disagreements exist are purely over tactical questions, such as the best means of packaging their common program of war and social reaction. There is no reform wing in the Democratic Party. Both parties are bribed and compliant instruments of Wall Street.

    So, what’s your STFU point in dealing with the elite and their media minions?

    When they tell you that 19 arab hijackers were responsible for 9/11?

    When they tell you that deficits matter?

    When they tell you that there’s partisan gridlock?

    That there’s no money for SS and Medicare?

    Which lie of a million to choose from is YOUR redline?

    Which lie personally hits home to such an extent that you just can no longer even tolerate discussions of said lies any longer?

    1. Eureka Springs

      Excellent, js. The bold portion and summary questions should be printed/pamphleteered on one page all around this country.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      “…. we’re a bunch of raw materials that don’t mean to be—have any process upon us. Don’t mean to be made into any product. Don’t mean… Don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings!
      There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

      Mario Savio: UC Berkeley in ’64.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I imagine he would say, ‘down with the government, down with organized labor, down with the university, down with industry. Power to the people! GDP sharing!’

      2. David Petraitis

        Makes me cry to think about Mario Savio and about a time when putting your bodies on the gears to stop the progress of the machine was something that might happen and had the potential to change the course of the machine. Today the machine lumbers on, having gotten a thousand times more powerful; and its lumbering mass crushes the people now, just as surely as it did then. Where now are the Savios to encourage us to put put our bodies upon the gears, the levers and the wheels.
        The Wikipedia article on Mario Savio notes that he was followed, illegally tracked and put on counter intelligence surveillance by the FBI and CIA because he was a student leader who might cause students to rebel. A severe crime at the time ;)

        It pays to note as well that the surveillance state has gotten worse as well and is probably reading this as I type.

      1. Brindle

        Sorcery and witchcraft; a fairly broad category, I know I would be “guilty”.

        —“Capital crimes resulting in the death sentence last year included murder, armed robbery, drug smuggling, sorcery and witchcraft.—“

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Exreme inequality in America.

    And it’s getting more extreme via money printing and government trickle-down spending through connected channels (all in the name of helping the tired, the poor and the huddled masses)

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Time to bury Pew report on wealth age group.

    Is that the same Pew non-profit mentioned in the documentary, the Art of the Steal?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I guess a nation is not innocent until proven guilty in an international court. Syria is already guilty and deserves change.

  11. the idiot

    Don’t know if anybody has posted this yet. It’s Amy Goodman interviewing Glen Greenwald at the Freedom to Connect Conference. Transcript is included:

    From Greenwald: “There are several levels of significance, the first of which is the most obvious, which is that this is a case of extraordinary prosecutorial overkill. The government has never been able to identify any substantial harm that has come from any of the leaks that Bradley Manning is accused of and now admits to being responsible for. Certainly nobody has died as a result of these leaks, even though the government originally said that WikiLeaks and the leaker has blood on their hands. Journalists investigated and found that there was no evidence for that. So, just the very idea that he should spend decades in prison, let alone be faced with life on parole, given what it is that he actually did and the consequences of it, is really remarkable.

    But even more specifically, the theory that the government is proceeding on is one that’s really quite radical and menacing. That is, that although he never communicated with, quote-unquote, “the enemy,” which the government has said is al-Qaeda, although there’s no evidence that he intended in any way to benefit al-Qaeda—he could have sold this information, made a great deal of money, had he wanted to. All the evidence indicates that he did it for exactly the reason that he said, with the intent that he said, which was to spark reform and to bring attention to these abuses. The government is proceeding on the theory that simply because the information that’s leaked ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda had an interest in it, that constitutes aiding and abetting the enemy. And what that essentially does is it converts every form of whistleblowing or leaks into a form of treason. There’s evidence that Osama bin Laden was very interested, for example, in Bob Woodward’s book—books, which have all sorts of classified information in them at a much higher level of secrecy than anything Bradley Manning leaked. That would mean that not only the leakers to Woodward, the highest-level members of government, but even Woodward himself, could be depicted as a traitor or be accused of aiding and abetting the enemy. It’s an extraordinarily menacing theory to journalism and to whistleblowing and leaking.”

    1. Klassy!

      Well, you see, it’s like this: Whistleblowers in the military might have been needed in the past, but that was then and this is now past.And now it is all about transparency. For instance, I know that these local militias in Afghanistan had a few bad apples, but it’s all under control now. Or, I know that the danger of another Abu Ghraib passed once Lynndie England was tucked away.
      Yup. Whistleblowers. They’re like unions– sure, one time we needed them but its a different day.
      Anyway, Bradley Manning does not have an impeccable and unimpeachable psychological profile, therefore he is not sincere.

      1. the idiot

        I’m sorry. You’re right! It’s time for me to quit worrying about all this icky stuff. I need to relax and let go and let the government protect me. If only there was some type of device I could watch that would numb my brain and make me quit asking so many questions. Curiosity in general is so last century.

    2. Really?

      Al-Qaeda, aka “the enemy,” is just a wildcard for “anyone who challenges us.” It just helps that Al-Qaeda sounds so mysterious and intriguing to the western ear. Once you’ve figured out that 9-11 was all an elaborate smokescreen all bets are off. Might be why The USAF’s “shock and awe” was such a dud this last time around. Even the fly boys’ hearts weren’t in it anymore. And now even the fighter jocks have been relegated to desk bound drone jockeys. Post-modern warfare indeed!

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Likely the poison concocted to kill Castro, of a particularly perverse strain: the cancer is potentiated by the “therapies” used to eliminate it. Super wicked.

        See YouTube:

        Judith Vary Baker (lover and colleague of Lee Harvey Oswald; hired as cancer specialist by Dr. Ochsner in New Orleans)

        “Dr. Mary’s Monkey”

    1. Brindle

      AP article mentions little of the Venezuelan people and what was life was like before Chavez.
      I know that WaPo and NYT will not be places to go to get a reasonable take on Chavez.

  12. someofparts

    Great 60 minutes horror show story about the real estate boom in China. Especially liked the overtime section where some Chinese real estate billionaire tweets to her gazillion followers that they need freedom like she saw in the election race between Obama and Mittens. I’ll be laughing and face-palming about that one every time I watch the chained CPI decimate my social security pittance. Yay fucking pretend freedom.

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