Links 4/20/13

Dear readers, I’ve got a separate post on the Boston bombing aftermath, with some links, so please join the conversation there if you have more links or observations to add.

Herschel captures a ‘cosmic horse’ BBC

Geese on the March Tumblr (Lance N)

Apple Finally Reveals How Long Siri Keeps Your Data Wired

How Cisco & The Justice Department Conspired To Try To Destroy One Man’s Life For Daring To Sue Cisco TechDirt (Mrs. G)

Boeing press conference on 787/FAA action Leeham News and Comment

Boeing 787 Dreamliner cleared to fly by US aviation authorities Guardian

‘Significant’ casualties likely from latest earthquake in China Raw Story

China deploys anti-ship missile off Taiwan Financial Times

Thailand’s Farmer-Friendly Rice Subsidy Backfires BusinessWeek (furzy mouse)

Private Banks Don’t Help Financial Inclusion Jayati Ghosh and C.P. Chandrasekhar, Hindu Business Online

Why can’t the IMF face up to the truth about the failing euro? Telegraph. Um, they might quietly think it is in their interest. Wolfgang Munchau in 2010 said that the only way the eurozone could survive without significant rebalancing was for the euro to fall to 60 to 90 to the dollar.

Britain launches legal challenge to FTT Telegraph

This week’s Big Questions: Where does Occupy go from here? Should Thatcher have been given such a grand funeral? Independent

Chained CPI Helps Fund Corporate Tax Breaks and Trickle Down masaccio, Firedoglake

No Charges for Police Commanders Over Actions During Protests New York Times. Quelle surprise!

Anti-gay hate groups don’t like to hear the truth about themselves Alvin McEwen, Firedoglake (Carol B)

The Problem Was With the Legislation New York Times (Lawrence R). Fits my theory that Obama was never serious about this. But why did he get pissy after the bill failed?

Zionism and the United States Congress Counterpunch (Carol B).

Apache Helicopter: Congress Asks Army Why It’s Accepting Unfinished AH-64Es AOLDefense (Carol B)

Exonerated while black: America’s guilty secret about convicting innocents Guardian

The Desolationists Counterpunch (Carol B)

Meet the 28-Year-Old Grad Student Who Just Shook the Global Austerity Movement New York Magazine

Fatal Sensitivity James Kwak

Block trade failures magnify risk debate Financial Times. Euro equities, but still…

Bernanke Drives Margin Debt to Pre-Crisis Highs Counterpunch

Central Bankers Say They Are Flying Blind Financial Times

Three Parts to Macro Policy Tim Duy

Easy money brews sudden swings Financial Times

Singles swing into retirement with little savings MarketWatch, I wouldn’t call it “swinging.”

Part-Time Work Becomes Full-Time Wait for Better Job New York Times

Antidote du jour:


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  1. efschumacher

    N-th Dimensional Chained CPI

    Given that nothing constructive and useful can happen before a 2014 election:

    It is clear that no good Democrat will vote for it.
    And it is what Republicans seem to want, but their base has a lot of old white folks, so if any R. is seen to vote for it, their re-election chances turn dimmer.
    So R’s will vote against it, out of their sense of self-preservation.
    The only way it could possibly get through is if a plurality of Pollyanna Democrats and a sufficient rump of suicidal Republicans vote for it.
    So I conclude that Chained CPI will never pass the House, and P.O. is safe from ever having to sign it into law.

    Putting it on the table just precipitates Chained CPI’s being killed stone dead. Well, until the next opportunity, two or three circuses later, after we have all forgotten.

    1. efschumacher

      (I’m not saying that anything useful and constructive can happen after the 2014 election either, no matter the outcome. It will be a different kabuki show we are treated to).

    2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

      At a minimum, it keeps our focus on austerity, rather than our real problem, joblessness.

      And it moves the Overton Window to the right…A Democratic President pushing cuts to Social Security.

      Don’t fool youself with some eleventy-dimensional chess nonsense.

      1. JGordon

        Our real problem is not ultimately joblessness, but the logarithmic depletion of natural resources and the exponential rise of pollution and the human population. That, ultimately, is what is causing the global economic train wreck, and joblessness, whatever your ideological beliefs happen to be. If people want to work so badly, they should work at growing food and living sustainably in whatever local economy they happen to be in. Because when the SHTF there won’t be any other kind of work left–as many, many Americans and people around the world are already discovering.

        “Don’t worry about using the world ‘collapse’–that’s the term they are using at the White House,” a senior Washington insider told me recently. In many ways collapse is already here; it just hasn’t been widely distributed yet.”

        -Dmitry Orlov, from Reinventing Collapse.

        1. TK421

          ” If people want to work so badly, they should work at growing food and living sustainably”

          How about putting people to work building solar power plants and hydroponic farms?

          1. JGordon

            Do you want to know something interesting? It takes a tremendous amount of fossil fuel energy to create a solar panel. And I was reading recently that it takes about 7 months of constant use for a 70 watt solar panel to generate as much energy as one gallon of gasoline.

            In short, if we did not have a vast supply of cheap fossil fuels available to us, no one would be making solar panels in the first place. Solar power has a long way to go before it becomes more economical than oil, and I rather doubt that we’ll reach the point of sufficient economy prior to the fossil fuel infrastructure falling apart (due to increasingly expensive fuel, as oil becomes every more energy-intensive and technically difficult to extract).

            As for large scale hydroponics? Well, that has the same sort of infrastructure issues as solar does. Without an immense fossil fuel economy already in place to support it, it’s dead in the water. Same goes for nuclear, electric cars, hydrogen power, etc. All pipe dreams.

            Now I am not saying that that won’t change at some point in the future. But as for now no one is making any serious effort to address that problem. We are just burning the last of our seed corn in diseased and delusional dreams of sustaining our unsustainable way of life.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          You keep assuming people own property with enough land to garden. Homeownership rates are around 60% now plus people in urban settings or the wrong climate or in condos can’t follow your pet prescription.

          You really need to get in touch with reality.

      2. Bhikshuni

        And PO probably wanted/wants to use it as a straw man “bargaining chip”, to give away Keystone XL and the rest of the public lands to the vulture oligarchs who want to cannibalize them.

        (nth dimension chess theory, but he’s not playing AGAINST the Koch Bros, but WITH THEM, against Joe Public, since he’s trading currency belonging to only ONE constitutency)

    3. TK421

      “Putting it on the table just precipitates Chained CPI’s being killed stone dead.”

      Unlikely. Now that it’s out in the open, and no more illusions are possible about Obama’s wishes, he might as well keep fighting for it. If anything, given Obama’s obvious history, his next proposal may in fact be worse than chained CPI.

  2. Charles LeSeau

    I’m going to be one of those singles entering retirement age with almost nothing, which means I won’t be getting any retirement at all. Granted, it’s 20 years from now, but I don’t count on getting a dime back from SS by then.

    I will surely have to sell my precious Steinway piano – probably to some not very serious pianist in a higher economic bracket who only wants to display it in their window – then maybe relocate to a cheaper country if I want any old age free time. It’s absurd, but I have been looking at how feasible it would be with proper planning just to hit some tropical island and pull a Tom Hanks. But that’s just crazy and I’d probably die within a year or bore myself to tears, even with survival books, fishing poles, meditation techniques, portable musical instrument, etc.

    1. Can't Help It

      I am a fatalist. I’ve decided that by the time I reach 70 and all I can look forward to is either long days of sickness or boredom, I would instead get crazy and start an anti corruption drive. In my country, someone should “take care” of me in days (not hours because of traffic jams and lousy public transport, and cheap thugs can’t afford to ride a taxi either). I should have enough to last till 70 I think. Why don’t I do it earlier, oh well because I am a coward, so false bravery is my last refuge.

    2. JGordon

      I have a suggestion. Start studying permaculture and look for community in your area. Having a schizoid personality I was probably one of the most socially isolated individuals you could possibly imagine before I got into permaculture. Now every day I am doing things and meeting people, and I feel like my life has meaning. Even as society and the culture decay around me, I’m personally feeling more and more energized and optimistic about what needs to be done. Even as the pessimists and whines around me still complain how how corrupt and rotten this doomed system is.

      No, you won’t be getting any social security when you get older. But then neither will I. And you know what? That’s not such a bad thing as I used to think it was.

      1. Bhikshuni

        Unless you are the women and girls every family will expect to drop out of school to wipe grandpa’s bum.

        I suggest some feudal society tourism before touting its wonders.

      2. Bhikshuni

        But I agree about the point of getting free of the cynicism and pessimism outlook.

        One bottle of Enlightened Bilberry Kombucha and my regular meditation routine, or some organic shopping does the trick usually.

    3. F. Beard

      Hey, if you can play a piano well, you are already rich compared to very many people.

      As for selling the Steinway, in 20 years cheap electronic pianos might well be equivalent to one in both sound and keyboard action.

      And besides, artists generally don’t require much comfort, do they?

      1. Charles LeSeau

        I’m not sure how to address the first sentence, but yes, it gives immense pleasure and enriches my life greatly.

        As for digital pianos, if they ever do end up being as good as a Steinway, I’d dump the Steinway for sure anyway. Piano upkeep is almost as bad as sailboats, if one actually cares about more than tuning the thing every so often. Unfortunately, digital pianos won’t ever equal a real one, not even in 1000 years. They will only ever approximate what a piano can do – hamstrung by their nature – being as they are dependent on quantized data (0s and 1s, on/off, finite steps of touch/volume values, etc). The question then becomes one of resolution: Can they approximate a piano well enough while being digitized that the pianist can’t tell? Maybe; wouldn’t count it out. It still doesn’t address the problem of individuality. Literally every piano in the world sounds differently and plays differently from every other one, Yamaha’s weird talent for consistency notwithstanding. A discerning player will scour his/her local world and beyond for an instrument they connect to before buying one, as I did. You should see the world class prima donnas on this problem. Almost nothing satisfies them that isn’t their own instrument. (Thibaudet at the NY Steinway factory: “All zees pianos are sheet!”) Digipianos are exactly the same from model to model. Maybe they can tweak that too, but they’re a loooong way off from that, and at present they are a horrible option comparatively – not even close. That said, without writing a book on it, digipianos are superior to a real one in dozens of other ways (don’t have to tune, voice, or regulate them; easier to move; programs like Ivory can make superior recordings using samples of 9-foot concert grands to what one could do in the living room with a parlor grand like mine, etc).

        As for the artists don’t have to be too comfy bit, yes, okay, but retirement is about not chilling out after a lifetime of work. I’d still have to pay rent, eat, etc. I don’t really know what will happen. Perhaps some ingenuity will present itself and I’ll just work it all out. Probably I’ll sell the Steinway and move to a much warmer place, like I said. Maybe start practicing this violin I have more often. :)

    4. Bhikshuni

      This is easier than you think, and whole economies are springing up in far away places to care for you. There are already many expats in the most common spots, and health care is affordable too!

      You just need to save for a retirement visa ($20K in Nepal I hear).

      (Insured deposit savings acct interest rate at Laxmi Bank in Kathmandu is now ~4%; CDs running ~5-6%!)

  3. down2long

    The Alaskans have started a referendem to repeal the giant oil giveaway. The supports need 7 percent of the voter’s signatures from 30 of the 40 legislatives districts – at total of just over 30,000 signatures. The hold up may be the lieutenant governor has to issue the docs to get started on the sig drive. He has seven days to decide to do so (or come up with a lame excuse not to do so) after the initial filing for the signature drive.

    It’s a tiny oligarchy, true to its Russian roots.

    1. Valissa

      On 4/20 Day, marijuana activists cite growing acceptance of the drug and set sights on legalization in more states

      Marijuana Bill Introduced in Colorado House
      A 57-page bill setting out the regulatory framework for legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado was introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday, along with a companion bill that implements taxation on the sale of marijuana.

      Meet Justin Hartfield, The Entrepreneur Who Wants To Be America’s First Marijuana Industrialist

    2. Valissa

      And now for some cartoons…

      Good question

      Slavery vs. War on Drugs×393/12-4-war-on-drugs.jpg

      Marijuana noir ;)

      The evils of drink

      An upside

      1. AbyNormal

        even jimmy buffet would laff

        don’t criticize it…legalize it

        roll another #

        rub a dub

        a visit from the night nurse


        3rd eye

        johnny depp plays lead

      2. AbyNormal

        oops my tunes are awaiting moderation heheheee
        thats okay…still tryin to locate Bessie Smiths 1933 Gimme a Reefer

        enjoyed yours Val, ThanX

      3. Valissa

        What’s a 4/20 party without music?

        One Toke Over the Line, Brewer & Shipley Live (from NORML concert in DC 1998 – great intro speech)

        Arlo Guthrie – Coming Into Los Angeles (live 1969)

        Reefer-rappin’ from the current generation… Kottonmouth Kings – Reefer Madness

        From Billboard magazine today… 20 Smokin’ Songs About Weed

          1. Valissa

            LOL… the comments are good too. And I have a sneakin’ suspicion that Miss Gayle got stoned before she sang that sweet Christian tune… I saw it in her eyes!

  4. Jim Haygood

    Just a note to mention that posts are still being swallowed by the WordPress crapware — about one in ten, with a bias toward longer ones.

    I had something to say about the NY Mag article on Herndon, but it won’t post. So I put it up on another site, whose related article employs the same sleight of hand with the subject matter of the Herndon’s paper:

  5. YY

    If I didn’t know better I’d be expecting the Dem’s to go you lied about Bengazi all over Paul Ryan’s ass about R&R.

  6. fresno dan

    No Charges for Police Commanders Over Actions During Protests New York Times. Quelle surprise!

    “The district attorney’s office has concluded, after a thorough investigation, that we cannot prove these allegations criminally beyond a reasonable doubt,” a spokeswoman, Erin M. Duggan, said in a brief statement. “We have informed the Police Department, the complainants, and the city of our decision.”

    Look at the Guardian article – its all of one piece. Prosecutors, when there is video evidence of the black man’s innocence don’t use it. When there is video evidence of a white cop’s guilt, they don’t use it.
    I conclude that prosecutors don’t like video evidence…..

    uh, when it can be used to exonerate the poor and prosecute the powerful.

    1. Valissa

      The NC wormhole is a capricious beast, which does not seem to respond to either entreaty or sacrifice :)

  7. Ms G

    Yep. It’s the white cop pension-preserving exception to indicting the Captain Pepper Spray. Ron Kuby, who represents the young woman who was on the receiving end of the very deliberate and sadistic conduct, is planning to ask DOJ and the US Attorneys’ Office to investigate de novo. Preet Bahara appears to have a sliver of independent judgment not subject to Holder’s prosecution-suppressing powers. Let’s see.

    Also, Kuby is representing the victim in her civil suit against NYPD and Captain Pepper Spray. He may lose his pension to a civil judgment after all.

  8. JGordon

    “Thailand’s Farmer-Friendly Rice Subsidy Backfires”

    I don’t understand why central planning of economies is sometimes good and at other times bad. Does it depend on which economic theory is being applied when one goes about central planning? Or does it depend on how corrupt/stupid/short-sighted the particular central planners are when they do their central planning? Or maybe it is some combination of both.

    Paraphrasing Dmitry Orlov, in anarchic, self-organized systems intelligence is additive; but in the top-down hierarchies prevalent in just about all human institutions today it’s stupidity that’s additive. So it seems unlikely that there would ever be a case where a central planner would ever be especially honest or competent. That is where the beautiful theory of fiat money breaks down where ever it meets reality.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Thailand subsidized rice and ended up with a ‘rice mountain,’ in much the same way that European ag subsidies in the 1980s produced ‘wine lakes’ and ‘butter mountains.’

      In Argentina, where agriculture and livestock are the only internationally competitive sectors, the government uses them as cash cows via export taxes. Worse, in the case of beef, exports actually were restricted in a vain attempt to increase domestic supply and hold down the CPI.

      Instead, irked ranchers facing closed borders, unprofitable prices and runaway input costs simply liquidated herds, cutting supply and driving UP domestic prices.

      Ag economics ain’t that complicated. But politicians (especially lawyer-politicians) fantasize that they can just order the dumb sodbusters to ‘Produce!’ and all will be well.

      “When you tax something you get less of it, and when you reward something you get more of it.” — Jack Kemp

      This is the only law of economics that works nearly infallibly.

    2. F. Beard

      That is where the beautiful theory of fiat money breaks down where ever it meets reality. JGordon

      Inexpensive fiat is the ONLY ethical money form for government money.

      Our mistake is the government backed counterfeiting cartel, the banks, the ultimate rentiers, not fiat for government debts.

      A gold standard (Which you are for?) is merely another, much more expensive, fiat money standard which benefits private interests such as the banks and other usurers.

    3. Susan the other

      “Central planners” are still subject to the wrath of the people. Corporations are all busy doing whatever they can get away with.

    4. TK421

      “That is where the beautiful theory of fiat money breaks down where ever it meets reality.”

      What alternative do you propose? The gold standard?

  9. TK421

    I wish the Texas factory explosion would get more media coverage and public discussion. Sure, the Boston bombing is more dramatic, but I believe the factory disaster is more important in the long run, not least because it has caused ten times as many fatalities. We are much, much more likely to be injured at work due to negligence by our employers than we are to be hurt by a criminal act, especially a bomb. Yet there is much more we can do to prevent workplace casualties than terror attacks. In the days to come I’m sure there will be lots of talk about what (largely irrational) measures the government should take to prevent more terrorist attacks but little or none about what the government can and should do to make workplaces safer. It should be the other way around.

    1. AbyNormal

      So True TK…im thinking ‘Lawsuits R Us’ is a determining factor for lack of follow thru.

      “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides”

    2. Cynthia

      It is insane. One scared 19 year old lunatic and you shut down a city, spend millions on tanks, cops, ammo, swat teams for one sick kid. I turned everything off at 7 AM. Could not take it any longer. And the 12+ good souls killed in Texas will be on page 23 of your newspaper tomorrow.

      Got lots of music and spending my day in the garden. What an overreaction!

  10. Eureka Springs

    While I am personally relieved the gun bill failed. The premise of the article, the bill, the conversation since at least the time of the CT shooter has not been about violence / nonviolence in part, much more as a whole.

    Our governance is not about representing the will of the people. Articles or discussions which suggest otherwise should be considered propaganda, imo.

    We cannot discuss or legislate non violent society this way. We should quit pretending so until we eliminate a bribe based political and electoral system.

    The peaceful occupiers got kettled, arrested, sprayed and shot… with NO prosecution of police… and since that time the so-called left electorate turned around, gave overwhelming support of the O politicians/ D party who led the oppressive way.

    And the tea party folk literally brought their arms to protests and received none of the oppressive measures.


  11. Lambert Strether

    Obama got “pissy” because he’s arrogant and thin-skinned, and also ticked off that enough of his erstwhile supporters didn’t join the kayfabe as “extras.”

    (Of course it was kayfabe. With the filibuster, the bill was never going to pass. As even, at this point, a child knows, the filibuster can be abolished by majority vote at the start of a Senate Session. The Democrats didn’t do that in 2009, 2011, or 2013. Therefore, they accept the policy outcomes of having the filibuster in place.

    You can argue that Senate comity is important, or that “We might need the filibuster ourselves one day.” Those are not policy outcomes.)

      1. TK421

        I think that’s a perfect example of kayfabe.

        If Andy Kaufman were president, at least we’d get entertaining absurdity, rather than Obama spending four years (so far) trying to battle the deficit in a time of historic joblessness and depredation.

  12. Z

    Q: Why would obama get pissy after the gun legislation didn’t pass … that he didn’t seem to care to pass anyway?

    A: He’s burnishing up his liberal credentials to make that chained cpi ss shit sandwich more palatable to his demozombie base – so that they can reassure themselves that he’s such a great guy that he couldn’t possibly want to take away from desparate old people, but those meanie republicans are forcing him to do so.


    1. Z

      If he can help make his demozombie dumbass base feel morally superior to the other side, he’s done his job … that’s all they’re mainly after.


      1. CB

        Must be because so many of them are living in crumbling circumstances it can’t be because they’re better off now. What price (imagined) glory?

    1. diane

      an ‘excerpt’ from Linh:

      For those with lots of cash stashed away, the coming years will be an orgy of cheap thrills dished up, for next to nothing, by a ballooning army of increasingly desperate Americans. They won’t just screw us figuratively, then toss us a penny. They will do it literally.

      1. diane

        They won’t just screw us figuratively, then toss us a penny. They will do it literally.

        (I do have to pick a bone with Linh there, .. about the use of the future tense, …. as it seems like that screwing has been going on in the UZ, for quite the while. … .

        Then again, perhaps Linh was just trying not to disengage those who have yet to notice it.)

  13. Propertius

    Fits my theory that Obama was never serious about this. But why did he get pissy after the bill failed?

    To divert the easily distracted from “entitlement reform”, of course. I thought that was obvious.

    1. Z

      It was all a show for him and in leiu of his fervent pursuit of ss cuts, it’s entirely predictable that he’s going to polish up his liberal credentials since it will help tamper down resistance from his left on it. He wants to cut ss more than anything else … definitely more than passing a gun bill … becoz it will financially benefit him once he leaves office more than anything else.


  14. chicagogal

    Obama was never serious about gun control, but it is supposed to make him look good when he faux-supports it. To know why he is avoiding any regulation in that area you need to look at his entire public service career, especially at the state level during his time in the Illinois Congress. I’m not an expert with this, but remember seeing during the 2008 race that every time gun legislation came up here in Illinois that Obama voted “present” rather than yes or no so he would not be on the record for one side or another.

  15. Andrew Watts

    RE: Bernanke Drives Margin Debt to Pre-Crisis Highs

    It’s not like we’re in the middle of another financial bubble that could…. oh, s#$%!

    (Another great piece by Mike Whitney.)

    RE: Central Bankers Say They Are Flying Blind

    Central bankers are just now starting to realize how counter-productive their unprecedented efforts have been? That would actually require them owning up to the culpability of their actions. I see absolutely none of that happening. Especially not while the search for scapegoats is alive and well.

    These people don’t even have the virtue of being fools. A fool learns from experience. They’ve learned nothing as evident by Yellen’s public statements.

    “Do you know, my son, with what little understanding the world is ruled?” -Pope Julius III

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