Links 4/27/13

Controversially, Physicist Argues Time Is Real Live Science (Valissa)

Who Can Stop These Adorable Pigs? Modern Farmer (Lambert)

Federal officials leery of ‘increasingly warm’ coastal waters near Northeast U.S. Raw Story. Two years ago, my 70+ year old cousin, who swims daily in the Atlantic in Casco Bay (in Maine) when it is not intolerable (save the obligatory Polar Bear outing on January 1) was swimming into November. And it’s warmer this year???

Store pulls monkey nuts from shelves over ‘peanut warning’ BBC (John L)

Pluto’s Gate Has Been Found In Turkey Red Orbit (furzy mouse)

Margot Woelk, Hitler’s Food Taster, Recalls Life Of Terror In The ‘Wolf’s Lair Huffington Post (Carol B)

GE Trees May Be Even More Damaging to the Environment than GE Foods Mercola (furzy mouse). Yes, this is Dr. Mercola, but I didn’t know there were genetically engineered trees.

Why men don’t want it all Telegraph. Um, this is news?

Belief in God Can Improve Mental Health Outcomes PsychCentral. Aaargh! How about correlation is not causation? Maybe people who believe in God also trust authority figures more than agnostics and atheists and therefore trust their therapist more?

Hyundai suicide bid car advert pulled after complaints BBC (furzy mouse)

How Many People Have Really Been Killed by Chernobyl? Slate (furzy mouse)

Pain and Punishment – Doctors Who Torture Counterpunch (diane)

The Terror of Capitalism Counterpunch (diane)

Money Mountain: Swiss Banks ‘Plundering German Treasury’ Der Spiegel (ruben)

France’s Socialist party attacks ‘selfish’ German chancellor Guardian

The great Spanish nation can end its crucifixion at will by leaving EMU Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

France unemployment hits new high Aljazeera

White House: Syria Chemical Weapons Evidence Not ‘Airtight’ Reuters (Carol B). Translation: too many people are on to the shaving cream.

The Virtual Vietnam Wall (furzy mouse)

Austerity for STEM Jobs Firedoglake (Carol B)

In Texas Blast, Horseman Died Trying to Save Creatures He Loved New York Times

The Email I Want to Send To Our Tech Guys But Keep Deleting… Health Care Blog (Lambert). Every doctor I saw in Sydney in 2002 used software, they had a screen open and would make notes during the exams. I have yet to see that at any of my doctors in the US 10+ years later.

Starbucks Aims For Grocery Store Supremacy With New Signature Aisle Huffington Post. Nothing was more amusing than watching Starbucks struggle in Oz when I was there. Australians drink Italian coffee, and Starbucks was inferior to what they were accustomed to. I’d see them handing out samples of their sugary drinks in Balmain, desperate to prove to the locals they had SOMETHING worth drinking. Having said that, I find Starbucks as a vendor of WiFi with incidental drinks and munchies to useful from time to time.

Virtual currencies threaten to go viral Financial Times. The article notes that banks have shut accounts of Bitcoin businesses. Should have occurred to me that they might move before the authorities do (and trust me, they will if this does not die of its own accord).

Inventory Accumulation Pushes GDP Growth to 2.5 Percent in First Quarter Dean Baker

LAKSHMAN ACHUTHAN: Yes, It’s Possible To Be In A Recession With GDP Growth At 2.5% Clusterstock

Median Pay in U.S. Is Stagnant, but Low-Paid Workers Lose Floyd Norris, New York Times

CBOE Staff Knew of Problems in Advance Wall Street Journal

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Return of risky lending practices Financial Times. Subtitle: “Situation is similar to pre-2007 housing market mania.”

Error Claims Cast Doubt on Bank of America Foreclosures in Bay Area NBC Bay Area (Lisa E). A media outlet talks about (among other things) document fabrication. This used to be verboten.

Lambert writes: “As a proxy for the National Pissed Off Index™, I propose the number of likes I, lambert, get on FaceBook. Seems to be increasing. And I’m way more pissed off in FB than I am at NC.”

Do readers have their own National Pissed Off Index proxies? If so, how are they trending?

Antidote du jour (Kevin G). For e-mail subscribers, this is a video, so you’ll have to visit the site to watch it. The sloth’s claws are a little nervous-making, but anyone who has cats knows they’d never go along unless they liked what was going on:

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  1. AbyNormal

    but of course a Sloth would articulate foreplay…

    “Live slow, Die whenever.” ~Sloths

  2. mookie

    Et Tu NPR – Yasha Levine – NSFWCORP

    Connecting the dots between NPR funding and its programs’ favorable coverage of privatization of public education.

    1. AbyNormal

      In a statement, (Indiana)state superintendent Tony Bennett heralded the benefits of opening up a Free Market for education.

      “What could go wrong” ~Lambert

      June 26, 2012
      “If one dissects CER’s data, one can see that while closures for financial reasons and mismanagement have gradually declined as a percentage of all charters schools over the past decade, closures for academic reasons have gradually climbed. (See Figure 1.)

          1. Michael Fiorillo

            Here in NYC, NPR has been a pretty reliable echo chamber for so-called education reform, replicating the premises (testing as achievement) and buzzwords (“Children First!”) of the corporate/philanthropic/academic/advocacy complex that is taking over the public schools, a complex that funds media entities like NPR.

            While the media coverage tide may be starting to change because of the cheating pandemic and rising opposition to high stakes testing, WNYC over the years has given us far too many reports on “failing” public schools and gee whiz reports about miracle charter schools run by can-do, no excuses edu-preneurs.

            About the decade-long assault on the neighborhood public school and the hostile takeover of public school facilities by politically juiced charter companies, not nearly as much.

  3. AbyNormal

    re: Swiss Banks ‘Plundering German Treasury
    SPIEGEL ONLINE: You were the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food for eight years. In your book “We Let Them Starve,” you attack the financial sector. Is it also in part responsible for world hunger?

    ZIEDGLER: It shares a great deal of responsibility. Ever since the big banks brought on the financial crisis, they’ve been increasingly gambling in the food trade. At the same time, 1 billion people are permanently and seriously malnourished. Every five seconds, a child dies.

    World Monthly Food Price Index 1990-2012

    Foods, Cereal, Oil Price Indices
    (my turtle bones read: from the angle of the last pull back…extraordinary MoMo)

    We’ll make a killing out of food crisis, Glencore trading boss Chris Mahoney boasts

    Hell is truth known too late.

  4. Larry

    In regards to Doctors using technology, here in suburban Boston/Providence, both my primary physician and my children’s pediatricians are all digital. My physician is tied into a regional network that shares everything so that my x-rays from the orthepedist and his notes are available at a click. Soooooo, if you like this development, then it’s close.

    1. LucyLulu

      Here in the rickety south down by me, I don’t know about intercommunication other than docs communicating with pharmacies, and one previous lab before using their own lab in-house, but my primary care doc is completely online, and its pretty commonplace for others too (noticed them using back from when I was still nursing and took patients to doctors). My primary in FL from 2007 was also online. My current practice even has a portal for patients to check their lab results, notes from doc, visit summaries, next scheduled appt, current account balance, etc. online. You meet once briefly with their IT person to choose a user id and password.

      Well-designed software can be a real time saver for clinicians, as well as reducing errors and duplication. You need clinical folk involved in the design though, and there is little overlap between those who pursue software and healthcare. They tend to attract different types of personalities. Some doctors, usually younger ones, really like using the EMR’s. But others are extremely resistant to going digital or making any changes from how they have traditionally documented. If they don’t type and have had access to transcription services, it’s not hard to understand why they’d balk at the change (but its funny to read how some of the dictated notes get typed up).

    1. dearieme

      My GP routinely consults my medical reports from the local teaching hospital on her screen. Recently she sent me to see a GP in a different practice, who then consulted my medical notes from my home GP’s practice on screen. This is in the British NHS.

  5. Theo

    re the IT using physician, I had a New York City urologist years ago (20 years ago) who did the same thing during the patient’s visit. It was the first and last time I have ever seen a physician do that.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Let’s apply a little recreational math to this assertion.

      Assume the aircraft was at 1,000 ft altitude on impact (the WTC towers were about 1,360 ft high). At that height, it takes an object 8 seconds to freefall to the ground (s=(1/2)*a*t**2).

      If the aircraft was flying at 500 mph (733 ft/sec), the landing gear could have traveled 733*8 = 5,864 ft before reaching ground level … over a mile.

      Assuming that the approach speed was slower, and that the energy required to shear the landing gear from its mounting braked its forward velocity, then at a slowed forward speed of 112 mph it would have landed exactly a quarter mile away.

    2. Brindle

      Police open minded about landing gear being planted.
      It could be one or the other, I guess.

      —“Police say they are not ruling out the possibility that a 5-foot-long chunk of airplane debris found near the World Trade Center site, believed to be a piece of landing gear from one of the planes that hit the towers more than 11 years ago, could have been placed there deliberately.”—

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      I like your Nom de Plume, George. Obviously you, like I, have been reading too much about mid-20th century conspiracies.

  6. Jim Haygood

    From the Clusterstock article on ECRI’s recession call, quoting Lakshman Achuthan:

    So, with U.S. GDP growth at 2.5%, how can we be in recession?

    Few realize that GDP data for almost all the early quarters of recent recessions have been revised down dramatically.

    Furthermore, yoy nominal GDP growth at or below 3.7% has occurred only in recessionary context. Q1 2013 read is 3.4%, the second straight quarter below 3.7%.

    On their face, these claims sound plausible enough. But in fact, Achuthan made his chest-beating, table-thumping recession call 19 months ago in Sep. 2011. That’s more than just an early warning. It’s become an ego defense of sticking to a stance regardless of facts.

    Doug Short, who has been tracking Achuthan’s recession call since it was made, publishes a rather devastating chart showing that ECRI’s leading index rose from negative to positive territory (where it remains now) in Summer 2012.

    OOPS — stop confusing us with numbers, Doug!

    What’s more troubling than Achuthan’s professional meltdown is that recessions are still declared by NBER wise men the same way the college of cardinals declares the new pope — that is, in a secret conclave wrapped in incense smoke and mystery.

    I have long advocated establishing a straightforward mechanical formula, using 4 or 5 key data series, which could track recessions in real time. It’s ridiculous for a $15 trillion economy to wait 6-9 months after the fact to learn that ‘Oh crap, we’re in recession. Or maybe we WERE …’

    In Dec. 2008 the NBER declared that a recession had started in Dec. 2007. They didn’t declare it had ended until 15 months after the fact. Good enough for quasi-gov’t work … in the 18th century!

    1. Hugh

      As Saez and others have shown, the gains of the “recovery” have all (and then some) gone to the 1%. So for most Americans, the recession beginning in December 2007 is still ongoing.

      It’s true that the NBER is the official caller of recessions but it’s important to keep in mind that it is filled with the same charlatan economists that dominate economics generally. On top of this, its methodology is retrospective so that its calls even in their own terms come about a year late.

      1. Valissa

        On that note… it’s time for economic recovery cartoons…

        About those calculations

        The Bush approach

        The Obama approach

        The role of the fed

        The word on the street

  7. Pete

    More info on the Boston fiasco. This helps explain why the FBI seemingly has their heads so far up their arses. Suspect 1 possible CIA asset. “Terrorist” round up in Moscow… and Syria saber rattling. What did Hagel say “we have varying degrees of confidence that Syria has used chemical weapons…” ?? What does that mean? We don’t know for sure but get ready for some aggression… sound familiar? Here is whistle blower Sibel Edmonds…

    1. Susan the other

      The EU is at odds with Turkey now. The Kurds are simultaneously trying to secede from eastern Turkey and causing a skirmish ala Syrian “rebels”. The peace in Chechnya is tenuous. And the next news story will be about unrest in Dagestan. We will hold out on Syria as long as our allies can achieve our ends there. The goal is Caspian oil and the encircling of Iran; also the appropriation of all of Iran’s oil one way or another.

      Did anybody see Chris Hayes last night. He had a panel on to discuss Sarin use in Syria and how it isn’t verified. Should we go in or not? Jamie Rubin, ultra neocon hawk, bullied the conversation with tales of a holocaust if we do not go in and Chris Hayes cut him off; Rubin was noticeably pissed off. (He was introduced as a “former spokesperson for the State Department.”) Son of Robert, one of our favorite banksters.

      1. Pete

        And this… turns out Uncle Ruslan (who was shown by the people on the TV calling his nephews “losers” about 600 times) was a former highly paid Halliburton employee who just happened to be married to a heavy hitting CIA agent’s daughter while also being implicated in a large banking fraud case….. “”For an Armenian to convert to Islam is like finding a unicorn in a field,” Nerses Zurabyan, 32, an information technology director who lives in nearby Cambridge told USA Today.”

        1. Susan the other

          Thanks Pete. It’s no longer surprising, but still mind boggling. And disgusting.

          1. Pete

            You’re welcome. I wish this would get more exposure. The captains of Capitalism are revealing their desperation via the necessity to manufacture crises in order to create new revenue streams and resource capture.

            The people on the TV will continue to march lock step with the completely unbelievable narrative provided by the ‘authorities’ and the public will keep swallowing it whole- no matter how ridiculous it is. They will continue to celebrate a new precedent of martial law, big city “lock down” (nice prison terminology) while singing Neil Diamond songs at baseball games because the truth is just a bit too hairy.

            Would an exposed CIA false flag event be a tipping point? The cognitive dissonance is strong here in Amerika….

          2. Glenn Condell

            In the change room at the pool the other day with some other regulars Boston came up. I made my usual tinhat comment (usual since 2001 anyhow) – something along the lines of ‘who believes ’em?’ and was surprised by the general murmur of agreement.

            Ten years ago in that room I had the odd testy conversation with typical apolitical Aussie hard-nuts for whom the very idea of marching in protest against anything was inconceivable, people who had swallowed the rotten fruit thrown at them without looking at it.

            Not sure they’d march even today but I can’t see them ridiculing anyone who did. In a land full of natural conservatives where Rupert Murdoch runs 3/4 of the media that emerging mistrust of The Official Story is encouraging.

  8. Jess

    2010 STEM graduate turned accountant here. This research paper has been pretty amazing (and is similar to my experience). Just shows how worthless conventional wisdom can be.

  9. Brindle

    Glenn Greenwald exposes the corporate corruption of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade.

    —“So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash.
    What we really see here is how the largest and most corrupt corporations own not just the government but also the culture.”—

    1. Pride!

      Congratulations San Francisco LGBT Americans, you’re fully integrated into the American mainstream! You’ve accepted US government war crimes and silenced the weirdos who denounce them. We had no idea that you were so normal and wholesome. Sorry that we beat you up and jailed you – we thought you were perverted, but really you’re just like us!

      Now we know that Mapplethorpe’s Elliot and Dominick is pretty much the same alternative lifestyle as Keith Idema and his bounty-hunting victims hanging upside down in the Kabul rug store.

      Also, Mapplethorpe’s picture of a finger rammed up some guy’s penis, that’s pretty much the same alternative lifestyle as cutting slits in Binyam Mohammed’s penis with a scalpel. CBT!

      Mapplethorpe’s picture of Joe in his hood is pretty much the same alternative lifestyle as as some hunky GI at Guantanamo dryboarding Ali Saleh al-Marri or Abdul Rahman al Amri and Mohammad Saleh al Hanashi till they’re dead. Hot!

    2. jrs

      Greenwald better than ever in that piece, one of his finest columns yet – on fire.

      It’s amazing so much corporate money needs to be raised for a parade (any parade really), so much corporate money slushing around. But to ask the basic money question: if it is the case that the SF gay pride parade was not always so corporate, why has it become so corporate now? Is it just selling out and someone profiteering where there’s money to be made, or did the basic cost of having a parade increase enough to require all that sponsorship? And if so why? See I suspect the cost of doing anything for ordinary people just keeps increasing. And it’s not all inflation, it’s olgiarchy cornering everything.

      “If anything, it bolsters those power structures because it completely and harmlessly assimilates a previously excluded group into existing institutions and thus incentivizes them to accommodate those institutions and adopt their mindset”

      I’ve had thoughts that it’s odd that many of the sharpest critics of the world we find ourselves in now are gay (including Greenwald), and I suspected that some of that criticalness comes precisely from being excluded. Of course I find the criticalness hardly a justification for exclusion, but immensely valuable.

  10. Cynthia

    GE creates a commercial using Agent Smith, the agent of good, to connect patients with hospitals:

    GE has lost sizable market share in the medical imaging space due to fierce competition from smaller players here and larger players abroad. And I don’t think this Matrix-inspired teevee ad is gonna do anything to help this DOW component regain its market share. No amount of red and blue suckers can transform GE back into a leading and dominant player in the medical imaging space.

  11. down2long

    Yves, truly love the sloth/cat video. Two of my favorite animals in the world in one video. I didn’t know you could have pet sloths – look at his’her beautiful coat. Usually it’s covered in mold and fungi. Shows what a good diet will do. (They usually just eat minimally nutritious leaves of one tree no other animal bothers with, due to its low nutritional content.)

    On another note, the corollary perhaps to the Financial Time’s piece on crap bonds, Bloomber reports falling interest in those pesky old collateralized mortgage instruments, before the grift even gets rolling again:

    Investors rekindled passion for
    sales of private mortgage securities is cooling.

      1. down2long

        S/B HARD money. I’m refiing a commercial property here in L.A. 65% LTV, 9.9% hard money til I move to conventional next year (BK and Wells refusing my payments and reporting it as a neg to a credit bureau rough on FIC0)

        Still, it is scandalous to pay 9.9% when prime is, what. 3, and the lenders pay zero. It was 9.9 when prime was 6. Oh, the .0001 are rolling in it. Thanks Uncle Ben and Unclo Obama. (Hat tip, Timmy Geithner, Lenny Breuer, and Eric Holder.)

  12. The Heretic

    All this talk of Chemical weapons use in Syria, and how this would constitute the ‘line in the sand’ for direct intervention… What sickening none- sense. According to some news reports, there are 70000 dead, probably 5 to 20 times that number in wounded, and millions traumatized and displaced, with wholesale destruction of towns and sections of cities…but since Chemical weapons were not used, the USA cannot justify any action. Syria was a functioning country, now it is not. Prior to this hell it was authoritatian and cruel, but most people could live and still find some happiness.

    But perhaps the elites of the US needs to deceive the population, to misdirect their focus onto the type of weapon used, and not the amount of death and suffering and horrors inflicted upon a people, lest they indict themselves for the conduct of the 1991 Iraq invasion, the economic siege thereafter, the botched war of 2003 (sure they defeated Saddam Hussein, but how many hundreds of thousands died thereafter due to bullets or deprivation, and were they able to convert the country into a healthy ally like Germany or Japan?).

    But I suspect what is truly horrifying is this…. These terrorists groups cannot sustain fighting for this many years without outside help… I.e. training, intelligence, weapons and supplies. Just as the patriots of the USA needed supplies from France to sustain a war against imperial England in the war of independence, so those freedom fighters and terrorists groups in Syria would need ‘outside help’. I wonder who is helping?

    The greatest military thinker Sun-tzu said ‘All war is contrary to virtue’. He wrote that it should be intensely studied and used if only as a last resort to save your nation. Was there any imminent danger posed by Syria, that the nation had to be destroyed like this? Can some of those Christian and Jewish neo-cons and war planners justify to God why they had to help Syria fall into the hell of Civil war?

  13. Howard Beale IV

    When I had a separated shoulder accidnt back in 2011, the orthopods who treated me had everything digitized-including the X-rayd. Even more surprising-whn I relocated to my current state of residence the MD could directly send my scrpts to either the local pharmacy or to te mail-order pharmacy for long-term prescried medications. Of course, not to be oudone, the “local” pharmaacy (Walgreens) developed their own quasi-mailorder plan, whose rates in some cases are actually chepaer than the pharmacy benefits manager’s rates-and intercaiong with my doctor to make sure the right script gets to the right pharmacy for the best price is an act in futility.

    1. LucyLulu

      Just act your doc to give the scripts to you, or mail them to you. As long as they all go to the same place, it shouldn’t be a problem. (They write LOTS of scripts for lots of people every day. If IS confusing if people have different pharmacies for different scripts. K.I.S.S. Med errors are too common as it is without introducing additional complexity, and then throw in the inevitable distractions/interruptions along the way.) You could then direct them where you like from there. If they aren’t controlled substances, I think you might be able to even fax them, though it might depend on state law. You can mail them in any case, or drop them off locally.

  14. Jean

    I find Starbucks “useful” too. I take my home brewed coffee there in one of their cups and use their wifi, their bathroom when on the road, plus recharge my power tool batteries.

    Peet’s is now offering free wifi without a receipt thanks to the competition with Starbucks.

    Both stores unfortunately sell drinks with high fructose corn syrup sweetener and non-organic milk and GMO tainted pastries. When the ingredients are organic and high quality, we’ll be delighted to buy them.

    1. Glenn Condell

      Just finished a nice Kenyan brew here at home in sunny Sydney, where as Yves says there is a real coffee-culture which looks down it’s schnoz at the likes of Starbucks. I recall a few US commentators out for the Olympics complaining about the ‘strength’ of the coffee here.

      Quality of product aside, there is an inbuilt animus toward large US multinationals among city elites, popularly referred to in the red-tops as ‘chardonnay-sippers’ or ‘latte-lovers’, esp those who do business in Israel, and are reported to have paid no tax in many of their operations.

      I don’t know how far out into the burbs Yves’ peregrinations took her, but it is a different country out there and the further from the chi chi you get the more likely a local Starbucks is just another thriving business. I’m closer to town and I’m pleased to report that a Gloria Jeans up the street closed down a few months ago, but trips out to the malls and furniture barns often feature crowds in GJs/SBucks (and Wendys for that matter, and Maccas of course)

  15. Susan the other

    About ocean temperatures at a 150 year high from Cape Hatteras to the Gulf of Maine. This has been predicted by the global warming studies. Maybe the warm current is stopping and backing up? Is northern Europe getting colder by any chance?

  16. Susan the other

    Astonishingly good article on CBS Bay Area about the mortgage mess. Very factual for the MSM. I’m just wondering how the accounting forensic specialist was able to trace the true chain of ownership when we all know it doesn’t exist. That part about it not existing wasn’t admitted to. It keeps getting fudged, even in a good report. The fact is is chain has been completely destroyed. But the article did say this: “Land records are so corrupted it could take 100 years to straighten them out.” And this amazing fact: “The banks are not being required to file legitimate property records.” Because that would constitute red-handed-fraud and be irrefutable evidence of not just their goddamn forgeries but their intentional filing of false documents. A felony here, a felony there…pretty soon it adds up.

    And the always remiss reportage about MERS is dedicated to omitting the fact that MERS can’t track any mortgage at all. It doesn’t keep its own records let alone properly record anything at the court house. It makes for a perfect “agent” no? I mean, how do you find a tomato in tomato soup? Gosh, ignorance is such bliss.

    1. LucyLulu

      All mortgages have a true chain of ownership, who originally owned the mortgage, and the dates and purchasers of each subsequent sale. Any sale that is ultimately determined to be null and void, e.g. a loan never deposited into a securitized trust, would be retained by the previous owner (or its successor, e.g. if the seller was now bankrupt).

      The question is whether or not the paperwork that documents that chain, the mortgage assignments and corresponding note with endorsements, can be found or is accurate and valid. Not all states require mortgage assignments to be filed with the clerks of deeds unless a foreclosure action is begun, in which case the most recent assignment must be filed prior to the notice of default.

      What I’ve also wondered too is how much paperwork has been destroyed (definitely some, from what I’ve been told by a bank employee) versus how much has been misplaced and is easier to fabricate. So many loans were originated in a relatively short time, and placed in the care of a small number of document custodians. An institution like Wells in MN must have custody of many millions of loans, and we know staffing was inadequate to handle the volume. They might be filed in no particular organized way or documents were never properly collated by loan into their individual folders. I also read about documents being traced down to storage at the wrong lender’s facility. It invokes visions of trying to find one file after a tornado has come through a file room. The lenders couldn’t even keep accurate accountings of mortgage balances and not only did they have software, but they were banks! Tracking account balances has been the primary function of banks since the beginning of time. Why wait weeks to maybe or maybe not dig out assignments when DocX can create them for sure in a few minutes? /s

  17. barrisj

    An excellent article online at the openDemocracy website, which puts use of chemical weapons in the Middle East in proper perspective:

    Chemical weapons, the Middle East, the UN Security Council and now, Syria
    Chemical weapons have played a major role in the modern history of the Middle East, and continue to do so. Winston Churchill’s proposal to use planes to drop chemical weapons (CW) from planes onto insurrectionary Mesopotamians early in the British mandate was quashed by his chiefs of staff. France and Spain dropped mustard gas bombs over Morocco in attempting to put down a Berber rebellion. Italy, which made extensive use of mustard gas in its war against sometimes bare-footed Ethiopian troops, still debates the merits of mentioning this in official war histories.

    Although international media have recently been overflowing with speculation about whether CW have been relocated or used within Syria, no one is asking the obvious questions: why does Syria possess a sizeable arsenal of chemical weapons? And why has no one identified this as an issue till now?

    Origins of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East

    srael, with the assistance of France and others, covertly produced its first nuclear device, probably shortly before the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entered into force in 1970. It subsequently emerged that Israel was also developing a secret chemical and biological weapons capability. Other regional states, daggers drawn with Israel yet lacking their own nuclear weapons, all too frequently succumbed to the temptation offered by the next best weapons of mass destruction – their own chemical and biological weapons. Israel’s WMD have been, and still are, the key driver of the weaponisation of the Middle East.

    Israel has joined neither the NPT nor the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions. Cutting-edge research has been carried out at the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), Israel’s chemical and biological weapons complex in Nes Ziona, with probable assistance from the US, the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. The US Congress Office of Technology Assessment has recorded Israel as a country possessing both undeclared chemical warfare capabilities and a long-term, undeclared biological warfare programme.
    The US quietly welcomed Iraq’s eight-year war against Iran, providing it with invaluable military intelligence, and not preventing the flow of chemical precursors without which Saddam Hussein would have been unable to produce a diverse palette of CW. In the context of a classic land battle along World War I lines, and given Iran’s reliance on human wave attacks across open countryside, Iraq’s CW were a major strategic asset.

    In the words of George Schultz, then US Secretary of State, the US had blocked international pressure on Iraq to stop using chemical weapons because “you don’t want Iran to win the war”. When Iraq was emboldened to turn its CW on the civilian inhabitants of a small Iranian town called Sardasht, a community of no military significance, the West, including its liberal establishment, was abjectly silent in the face of all this.

    The Iranians repeatedly took their case to the UN Security Council, where the US prevaricated, blocking every attempt to extract a critical statement. When fact-finding teams sent by the UN Secretary-General to investigate Iraq’s alleged use confirmed that Iraq had indeed used CW against Iran, their findings were swept under the carpet.

    “Saddam gassed his own people” = BAD; Saddam gassing Iranian soldiers = GOOD. Enough of this “cross the line” bollocks and gross hypocrisy. The West had dirtied its hands much too often with use of poison gas in the region that the posturing of the US and Nato is risible on its face.

  18. Eureka Springs

    Wish I knew how to photoshop a John Kerry pic with shaving cream all over his face. And a shaving cream NPR logo too.

  19. Hugh

    BTW Obama announced that Howard Shelanski will take over Cass Sunstein’s old post at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). All government regulation has to be signed off on by the office. Sunstein used the position with Obama Administration backing to stall, weaken, and eliminate government regulation. I expect Shelanski was chosen because he is expected to continue Sunstein’s (and Obama’s) anti-regulation policies.

  20. Herman Sniffles

    Regarding “Why Men Don’t Want it All” I have some observations based on my nine years as a male substitute teacher. I subbed grades K through 12, and K was by far the worst. When I got a call to substitute a kindergarten class I’d immediatley start negotiating with the school secretary:”How many teacer’s aids will I have? Will they be in the classroom full time? How many critters are in the class? Will there be a birthday party?” And when I did sub a K class I spent 90% of my time just counting heads over and over and over until one of the children came up missing. Then in a panic I’d start looking in the cabinet under the sink, in cardboard boxes, or out in the hallway. And sure enought I’d find the little varmit hiding under a Starwars blanket or heading off across the playground in persuit of a bird. And then – panicked with my hands shaking – I’d look at the female teacher’s aids,and I’d see that they were calm and happy and relaxed, sort of herding the crew around with some sort of inborn genetically programmed savant system that we men just don’t have. The other thing I learned is that there is a period where children are quite wonderful. This period runs from second grade to fourth grade. After fourth grade some sort of genetic switch is thrown and they turn evil. About half of them are evil in fifth grad, and all of them are evil by sixth grade. From second grade to fourth grade they are focused enough to learn, they are quite interested in the world around them, and you can still scare them with a dirty look. Beginning in sixth grade intellectual curiosity disappears completely and is replaced with an obsession for clothing, teasing, and forming “gangs.” Two important things I learned from second graders are 1) Veterans Day is “a special day for doctors who take care of animals, and 2) “the wind is not making that tree bend over, you dummy, the tree is making the wind blow!”

    1. Glenn Condell

      ‘After fourth grade some sort of genetic switch is thrown and they turn evil.’

      Oh great. My son is 7, so time is short.

      Walking back with him (still hand in hand… for how long?) from the beach yesterday I said ‘You know I really enjoy being out with you mate… because 1 you’re my son and I love you, 2 you’re a nice little bloke, all things considered, and 3 I know that in a few years time you’ll be like your sister, who wouldn’t be seen dead with Dear Old Dad’ He smiled but didn’t demur.

      ‘About half of them are evil in fifth grad, and all of them are evil by sixth grade.’

      It’s a shame none of them will be able to work for Google.

    2. JTFaraday

      Yah. Every time somebody says the federal government will put all the unemployed to work in some low productivity job like teaching the little darlings their ABCs for minimum wage, I rolls my eyes so far into the back of my head, you’d grab your cell phone in alarm and dial 911 for the nearest red bearded Armenian exorcist.

      That said, I did spend a couple hours the other day teaching my 2 year old niece how to say “Daddy, sand box please” so I know I’ll have something new to do the next time I babysit.

      And then I went home. :)

      But no, there is no female gene making women natural flockers of children, thereby making childcare unskilled labor for women. And if you read the article, he insists that there is such a female gene in the face of the evidence provided by his own wife.

      Naturally, this strikes me as a very convenient rationalization for why he doesn’t have to do something he explicitly signed up to do.

  21. sd

    There is an election in Iceland today.

    The two parties who formed the coalition government that instituted policies and deregulation that ultimately lead to the collapse are expected to win.

    Which is not good news.

    1. Jess

      It’s interesting how many things I thought were uniquely American civic attributes – in this case, voting in the parties that destroy the country – are anything but.

  22. WorldisMorphing

    Excerpt from the article “The Terror of Capitalism” from Counterpunch:

    ­[Writing about the factory regime in England during the nineteenth century, Karl Marx noted, “But in its blind unrestrainable passion, its wear-wolf hunger for surplus labour, capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working-day. It usurps the time for growth, development and healthy maintenance of the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight…. All that concerns it is simply and solely the maximum of labour-power that can be rendered fluent in a working-day. It attains this end by shortening the extent of the labourer’s life, as a greedy farmer snatches increased produce from the soil by reducing it of its fertility” (Capital, Chapter 10).]
    Damn, I think that guy was on to something…
    I’m still plowing through “The Theory of Moral Sentiment”, and I must clear “Wealth of Nations” for sure, but after that, I really gotta read that freakin’ book too …!

    …so many books to read…so little time…

  23. Valissa

    The many challenges of raising kids & teens in today’s world…

    Inside the princess-industrial complex… For ‘professional princesses,’ birthday-party gigs are big business

    Student suspended for having Swiss Army knife on school camping trip

    Fort Worth Teen Arrested With Pressure Cooker, Fertilizer In Trunk

    Indonesian teens accused of blasphemy after dancing to Maroon 5 during prayer: report

    I can relate to that article “Why men don’t want it all” as I never wanted to raise kids myself. Most of my female friends are childless as well. I did my babysitting time to make money while in high school and kids do seem to like me. But I’m too selfish to have children.

    1. craazyman

      the guy is just preening. It’s total bullshit. He throws in the pic of the 3 cute kids and the wife in Kenya. I mean really. It’s narcissism in every direction.

      1. Valissa

        Dear Craazy, are you off your meds today (aka red wine & Xanax)? Maybe a bong hit or two is in order ;)

        OK, so the article could be labeled as twaddle (a word I rarely get to use and quite like!), or more accurately upper middle class parental twaddle. But I have some sympathy for writers who have to write articles for deadlines for $$ when their inspiration has dried up. I decided to look him up and see what sort of stuff he usually writes about.

        I have to admit he has a way with a headline

        1. craazyman

          no I’m just trying to eat dinner, do some fine art photographic printing on my Epson 3800, diagnose a few tech problems with the print driver, read the links and post comments all at the same time while laying around on the floor wasting time channeling 7 or 8 diffrent things in my head. sort of multitasking and have to get right to the point. :)

        2. craazyman

          all right the headline is pretty good. but the best self-promotional line in world history came from a southeast DC hairdresser (the kind of dude that cuts big fat sassy black women’s afro hair and lives to tell about it), down in Redskin’s nation . . . “If your hair’s not becoming to you, you should be coming to me.” He was a god in southeast DC, so I read in the Washington Post. He’s a god in my book, just for that line.

  24. TimR

    Can anyone expand on this bit of Matt Taibbi’s latest article? Or point to good resources about how this works? I had assumed that gold prices were arrived at in some way that looked a little more like a market, but according to Taibbi:

    …From gold to gas to swaps to interest rates, prices all over the world are dependent upon little private cabals of cigar-chomping insiders we’re forced to trust.

    “In all the over-the-counter markets, you don’t really have pricing except by a bunch of guys getting together,” Masters notes glumly.

    That includes the markets for gold (where prices are set by five banks in a Libor-ish teleconferencing process that, ironically, was created in part by N M Rothschild & Sons) and silver (whose price is set by just three banks), as well as benchmark rates in numerous other commodities – jet fuel, diesel, electric power, coal, you name it. The problem in each of these markets is the same: We all have to rely upon the honesty of companies like Barclays (already caught and fined $453 million for rigging Libor) or JPMorgan Chase (paid a $228 million settlement for rigging municipal-bond auctions) or UBS (fined a collective $1.66 billion for both muni-bond rigging and Libor manipulation) to faithfully report the real prices of things like interest rates, swaps, currencies and commodities.

  25. Valissa

    The latest in junk science… What Hurts More: Child Birth or a Kick in the Balls? Science Answers.

    Yup, the world really is changing… Judge again orders Tacoma police to return man’s pot

    Way cool… A ‘dream come true’: UK photographer gets aurora and volcano in same shot–203885341.html

  26. IT

    Where are the IT jobs going?

    From hackers to security experts, the Balkan IT sector is booming

    “After hacking the Pentagon, NASA and Britain’s Royal Navy for fun, TinKode got a real job as a computer security expert for a Romanian cyber safety consultancy. [TinKode] told Reuters “It’s a hobby, so I did it for free. Moreover, I’ve always sent emails to those institutions to fix their problems.”
    The expertise is partly accidental – in the 1980s, Romania’s communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu backed computer research and technical education to promote pride in the nation.
    Growth of the Romanian and Bulgarian IT sectors far outpaced the rest of ex-communist Europe, jumping by 45 percent and 80 percent respectively since their 2007 EU entry. Meanwhile, the tech sectors in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic each grew by about 20 percent.”

    Why a national PLAN to invest in STEM education – available in each country of the Soviet-influenced block – is considered by Reuters “accidental”?!

  27. JGordon

    “Health Care Blog (Lambert). Every doctor I saw in Sydney in 2002 used software, they had a screen open and would make notes during the exams. I have yet to see that at any of my doctors in the US 10+ years later.”

    That’s odd. I’ve been getting free care at the VA as a disabled veteran for the past few years, and taking notes with a computer is exactly how my doctors there have been doing it the entire time. I take that’s not how it’s usually done? I should be thankful then that I’ve never had to use the primitive facilities of private sick-care establishments.

    1. OIFVet

      Same here. I am quite happy with my VA experience since I started going there in 2009, and I dare say it’s infinitely more patient oriented than my old hospital, the University of Chicago. Its so refreshing when the first question you hear at your doctor’s office is not “Do you have insurance?”

  28. JGordon

    “and trust me, they will if this does not die of its own accord).”

    Because badly mismanaged currencies, even those with a fiat mandate, would rapidly fall apart if alternatives became widely available. So governments must threaten draconian punishments and throw around irrational and bizarre phrases like “unique form of terrorism” against those who do try alternative. How sad that your system is so shoddy and desperate that you have to threaten violence against people who want out of it.

  29. Roland

    It is good that a quarter of a century afterward, it seems that the Chernobyl reactor meltdown did not turn out to be a massive humanitarian disaster for the entire region, as was widely feared at the time.

    Unfortunately, there are bright little boys and girls in the Pentagon and elsewhere who, encouraged by the ambiguous long-term effects of Chernobyl, revive an interest in limited nuclear warfare strategies.

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