Links 5/26/13

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Dear Guardian: You’ve Been Played Scientific American

China destroys three shipments of GM corn from US GM Watch (furzy mouse)

France seizes a million doses of fake Chinese aspirin Agence France-Presse

China Bluntly Tells North Korea to Enter Nuclear Talks New York Times (furzy mouse)

Kiwi and conman in takeover mystery Stuff. Richard Smith: “Classic modern international scam”.

Discussion in Spain on Leaving the Euro; Euro Exit Manifest Michael Shedlock (furzy mouse)

Swedish Rioters Torch Cars, Target Schools as Violence Spreads Bloomberg

Unrest may spread across Europe, warns Red Cross chief Independent (gonzomarx)

French Soldier on Patrol Near Paris Station Attacked With Blade Bloomberg

Hezbollah promises Syria ‘victory’ BBC

Gaza exports have plummeted under Israeli blockade Christian Science Monitor

Andrew Sullivan, terrorism, and the art of distortion Glenn Greenwald

Harper: Cato’s “Deepbills” Project Advances Government Transparency Legal Informatics Blog (Lambert)

James Rosen, irresponsible journalism and untrustworthy governance Pruning Shears (Carol B)

Sequester guts wildfire prevention, sets up bigger blazes Gristmill

Banner Week for Politicians Trying to Keep Poor People Hungry and Sick Gawker

A Budget That Tightens Belts by Emptying Stomachs Working In These Times (Carol B)

California Puts Tentative Price on Health Policies Under New Law New York Times. Doug Smith: “There is NOT A SINGLE WORD in the article about insurance companies profits or high overhead expense ratios … not ONE WORD. So, that elephant in the room is evidently invisible to the New York Times.”

Why are our Bridges Falling? The Economics of the Infrastructure Deficit EconoMonitor

How exactly would Mike Bloomberg “fucking destroy” the taxi industry? Quartz


Blackstone notifies Cohen’s SAC it intends to pull money -pension consultant Reuters (LS)

How Did Major Hedge Fund Earn 30% Returns for 20 Years Straight? Lots of Cheating Alternet

In One Chart, Here’s How Investors Are Massively Giving Up On Commodities Clusterstock

Shareholders? Fuhgeddaboudit! Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times


Antidote du jour (Lance N):


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    1. diptherio

      “…and [incomp.] Smith, founder of the Naked Capitalism blog…”

      Yowza, slaughtered that one…hehehe…ever consider changing your spelling to “Eve,” Yves?

    2. AbyNormal

      best part of the show was when Yves explained the IRS doesn’t need congressional approval to remove the SUBSIDY checkbox
      (my humble opinion’)

      If there’s one thing you should understand better than the humans, it’s that females should never be ruled out by virtue of strength. Some of us have ways to equalize the equation.
      tenorio, tempting the enemy

  1. Jim Haygood

    A Memorial Day ritual of the police state is underway: Click It or Ticket.

    Yesterday at the end of a bridge entering a suburban town, a police officer was stopping traffic in both directions to check whether motorists were buckled in.

    From a local standpoint, it’s a win-win: not only do federal dollars subsidize the annual crackdown, but also the fine revenue fattens municipal coffers.

    More significant is the social molding benefit: citizens become accustomed to arbitrary checkpoints, established for no pressing reason other than dragnetting for petty offenders.

    Safety, comrades. Unrestrained sheeple are a hazard to themselves and others.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Jim;
      I believe the proper word is “undomesticated.”
      It’s also just another variation of the time honoured “sheeple shearing” phenomenon.

    2. JGordon

      I celebrate and support the Fascist police state and the criminals who run it. I believe that they are keeping us safe from the bad guys and ourselves, so it certainly is win-win. We ought to give them even more power to exercise their benevolent authority to micromanage our lives.

  2. ambrit

    Memorial Day Weekend starts, and they’re off to the races.
    Yesterday I eavesdropped on a young mother trying to explain the holiday, and the role in it the American flag plays, to her four or five year old child.
    “You don’t let the flag touch the ground Petey. Don’t let it get dirty.”
    “Okay momma.” The little boy straightened up and held the small flag high over his head.
    “Your Paw Paw and his daddy fought for that flag. They got hurt to keep it free.”
    “Really? Bad hurt?”
    “I don’t know how bad Petey. But the Good Lord did bring them back home to us.”
    “That’s good.”
    “So be real careful with the flag. It means all the Daddies and Paw Paws who went and fought for us.”
    “I will!”
    Two men walked up. The younger one picked the little boy up and raised him over his head, shaking him and swinging him around in a circle.
    “Yay Petey! Peteys flying!”
    Petey giggled and waved his flag around.
    “Hey Paw Paw! I,m flying!”
    The older man grinned.
    “Yes Petey, you sure are.”
    “Look Paw Paw! I got a flag. And I won’t let it touch the ground!”
    The older man stopped for a moment, then replied: “It’s not that important son. Your Mom and Dad are much more important than any flag.”
    The older mans baseball hat read; Vietnam Veteran.
    There is hope for us after all.

    1. auntienene

      Yeah, I second that.

      I met an old man 30 years ago at the local Memorial Day service. Tears running down his face, he begged me not to ever let my then toddler son go into military service.

      I never did.

  3. diptherio

    Re: Wildfire prevention budget gutting

    Here in Western MT, we’ve already had the first blaze of the season…in frickin’ MAY! That is truly insane. Usually, we don’t get fires of any size till July at the earliest. Glad to see the Feds are taking the totally rational step of cutting back funds for prevention. Go team!

  4. Kurt Sperry

    Pretty rich in a sense, the physics “community” wagon circling around its derision for outsider speculations. Remember wacky “string theory” with its complete lack of testable hypotheses and how it was embraced and mainstreamed because it was promoted from within? The particle physics insiders seem to be at best treading water now, they ought to be spending less time being tribal and more time seeking out for new ideas–wherever they are to be found. The current crop of physicists have brought the entire field to a near complete halt.

    1. Synopticist

      The Guardian is a pretty piss-poor newspaper these days, frankly. UK paper were never big on the whole “fact checking” thing at the best of times, and they’ve degenerated since.

    2. b2020

      Yeah, and Einstein was a patent clerk.

      “Einstein actually wrote research papers.” The same is true for string theorists – their problem is that their theory has made few predictions we are actually able to try to falsify, and what few results we have so far are not encouraging. The mathematical “beauty” of string theory, whatever it is worth, is a sort of published consensus among theoreticians frustrated by lack of affordable experiments delivering unexpected results.

      Whatever Weinstein has accomplished, it is beauty by hearsay at this point. And he could remedy that by uploading a preprint to Arvix in minutes – and could have done so years ago. That he does not means that, whatever modicum genius at work, it is not actually science yet.

      This commotion, and the FTL-neutrino hysteria, are a sign of foundational ignorance combined a resentment I do not understand at all. Might be worth a scientific study. As far as the ignorance goes, science is a *method*, all results are preliminary and not yet falsified. Science is also a human endeavour, and as such subject to politics, networks, and corruption, but unlike all other human endeavours, it has shown itself to be amazingly self-corrective over time. Why every bullshit report in the media is considered valid criticism of the particpants, the endeavour, or the method, is beyond me. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not more incompetent coverage.

      Maybe the root cause is understandable backlash against how incomprehensible a lot of science is to the layman? Rule by experts is just another version of oligarchy – but frankly, if scientists are ruling anything, I am not seeing it. There are plenty of successful oligarchs to worry about, and a lot of bollocks called “economic science” that beats string theory and Weinsteinian physics both in relevance for anguish and anger.

      Or maybe this is the leading edge of the fallout Naomi Klein predicted when she described how science is increasingly delivering results we do not want to hear, pointing towards the need for policies and decisions we do not like? In that case, the ignorance might well be willful.

      The SciAm link provided strikes me as a pretty reasonable summary. Pontzen’s dismissal is diluting his point, which is that Weinstein and Sautoy do not even observe common courtesy in their attempt to get… publicity? Or scientific review? Weinstein is well on his way to look like Wolfram, either case a pity. Everybody should be doing science, it’s good for us – and everybody can. As a method, it’s as easy to grasp as any baking recipe. But then, it has that in common with evolution, and what an inbred idiocy the public “discourse” there.

  5. down2long

    I am looking for for the tricks in this California health exchange. As I mentioned here before, my health insurance company, Blue Shield, began a vendetta to get me off the rolls once I turned 50. They would hold my premium checks until the 5th of the following month to deposit them, (one time holding it 12 days) in order to cancel me. Healthy, almost $1k a month HSA PPO. They’re at it again.

    Clearly, the premium for me would be only about a third of what I’m paying now, so why not keep me at the higher rate

    I did get a mailer saying my old plan would have more benefits being “grandfathered” in and all that.

    As Yves points out, none of the coverage (LA Times included) mentions what’s in it for the insurance companies. Also, here in L.A., some nine companies declined to participate – big ones too: AETNA, CIGNA, etc.

    Since we all know these bastards are not ultruists, one must figure out how they’re screwing us. They get better and better at subterfuge – although, speaking from personal experience, we do have a pretty aggressive state Insurance Commissioner that deals with insurance malfeasance, somehow, despite all odds. For now, anyhow.

    1. ohmyheck

      I have BCBS too, in a different state. My payments are made through automatic payment out of my checking account. That might make a run-around them holding your check. It doesn’t help the fact that what they are doing is disgraceful.

      1. down2long

        Thanks, I thought of the auto payment. But in some ways that takes the control of the payment even further out of my hands. What if they don’t take it, or what it they take it and don’t POST it. Another thing to worry about.

        Also, having been to court many times, I find the signed green return postcard is very powerful evidence i.e. “You SIGNED for it, you gonna tell me you didn’t GET it?”

        1. neo-realist

          And pay about $50 to stop payment to cancel the automatic withdrawals if you cancel the insurance or the method of withdrawal since the company usually doesn’t stop it by themselves if you request them to do it.

    2. Elliot

      Blue Cross does the same; they also told me, when I asked re: the preventative care the Affordable Care Act is supposed to cover (mentioned in a flyer they mailed me)…… I was on hold a long time, then they told me my plan had opted out of the ACA.

      The PLAN opted out? How does that work?

    1. ohmyheck

      I have posted that link elsewhere. It is a great mirror. Perfect for places like Daily Kos, Balloon Juice and the like. I just wish that link was easier to read. Oh, and the comments are worth reading as well.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Can’t access it, and all attempts to circumvent the paywall by googling the title lead to useless spam sites that give the first couple sentences then a link to the article at FP. This–using third party domains to stuff up google search results with useless linkbacks–seems to becoming increasingly popular technique for protecting paywall content.

          1. wunsacon

            “Liberal imperialism” seems like a contradiction in terms. And a con job on one or more levels.

            I agree with foreign intervention for moral reasons (not property reasons) in theory but rarely as it’s practiced. In practice, to advance or maintain their property claims abroad, plutocrats manufacture consent from liberals by appealing to liberals on liberal terms. But, before, during, and after marketing the war, the underlying policy is not “liberal”. That’s a deceit.

            If by “liberal” you include global warriors like Obama who’s just like Bush (not just in military terms but in most aspects of tax policy, trade policy, civil rights policy, labor policy), then “liberal imperialism” works superficially. But, who thinks Obama’s “liberal”? That’s a deceit, too (even if many people believe it).

            In addition, I suspect Tories label their friendly opponents, property/rent-seeking imperialists like Obama, as “liberals” so they can claim to be campaigning against something in the next election cycle. (Obama did this.) When the Tories regain office, they’ll continue imperialism.

            People rarely practice imperialism for “liberal” purposes. Even among “liberals” like Obama, Kerry, Pelosi, the prime mover is property.

          2. Stan Musical

   requires that you sign up and login to read their articles; but if you get your cursor at the beginning of the article and start sweeping it down to highlight for a copy/paste, you can do the whole article even after the drop-down covers it. Then just paste into your favorite text-editor. Just FYI…..

  6. down2long

    Thanks for the story. I thought Memorial Day was a national shopping holiday, sort of like Black Friday.

    My uncle Dean was a North Korean POW, starved to death in North Korea. He’d escaped the North Korean camp once, andhad gone deaf in captivity. After he got back to the American lines, the U.S. Army fattened him up, and sent him back into battle, where he was captured again and died of starvation in the camp. As you may remember, the Army hadn’t planned on such an aggressive and capable North Korean effort – the North had taken over the whole peninsula before those illustrious generals had had their morning coffee. And the U.S. was as a result very badly manned.

    My dad, Dean’s younger brother by one year, (those two were inseparable as kids) was torn up by this. Still is. He was in the Air Force and as taken to the Bikini Atoll along with a bunch of other troops to serve as guinea pigs when the U.S> gov dropped Atomic Bombs on the atoll to see what carnage they could bring about, and what kind’ve of future horrots they could anticipate.

    To find out what kind of cancers and other problems he and the other soldiers would develop the Army/Air Force kept very good records. My dad got Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Wrote a letter to the Veterans Affairs to see what they do to help him. They had a record of his whereabouts on that morning in 1953, down to the minute, but said he couldn’t sue them since he could go to the VA hospital for care if he wanted. Very surreal.

    When I was ten in 1967 my family was on a red-eye milk run flight from Seattle to Cleveland. Northwest Orient. The flight was packed with American soldiers returning home after deployment in Viet Nam They were exhausted, and so quiet. They missed their stops – the stewardesses (at that time) didn’t wake them up as they night dragged on and we dropped into Spokane, Bismarck, Helena. I could never figure out why they didn’t waken them, it was the time of “Coffee, Tea, or Me” and stewardesses were very frisky in those days. I think they were afraid of the guys. Those poor men were were just so…… beaten. Or maybe out of kindness the stewardesses let these poor men sleep.

    That silent flight bothers me to this day. You would’ve thought those guys would’ve been whooping it up, being back, and alive, and all. Those poor men needed some hugs, they deserved some kindness. And got none. My dad tried to talk to the guys, but I think they were really unreachable.

    We have a long tradition in this country of blaming the victim, (sort of like blaming foreclosed homeowners for banks’ fraudulent foreclosures.) That tradition is very finely honed, and does serious damage, slashing and killing the least of us while old glory gets the best of everything, waving high above us like a winged Angel of Death.

    So little kid, drag that flag through the mud. Wipe your little behind with it. It’s only fair. Anyhow, you’re gonna need some fun memories to look back on down the road.

      1. ambrit

        That’s A-OK down2long. I had an uncle in Korea with the Brits. I saw several big brothers of school friends come home in boxes from Indochina. America still hasn’t come to grips with actually losing a war.
        Memorial Day is for all of us. No flags needed.

        1. down2long

          Thanks Ambrit. I do think that by now Americans should be accustomed to losing wars. We’ve become quite good at it.

          1. wunsacon

            The Empire is bigger and more powerful than ever. Yes, it lost battles and gave up a little ground here and there. But, the Russians gave up ground to Napoleon and Hitler. What’s important is that they denied the enemy use of the productive assets on the surrendered territory. So, too, we gave up Vietnam and other territory. But, think about it in the coldest terms and what do you see? The USSR is toast and Goldman Sachs’ Greek Horse set those once-great colonial powers in Europe back another generation.

            Sure, historically, empires wax and wane. But, who knows when the current trend will change? It’s probably easier to “pick tops” in the market. ;-)

  7. TimR

    Lots of good info in this recent article here:

    …In interviews with this author in early March, Edmonds claimed that Ayman al-Zawahiri, current head of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s deputy at the time, had innumerable, regular meetings at the U.S. embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, with U.S. military and intelligence officials between 1997 and 2001, as part of an operation known as ‘Gladio B’. Al-Zawahiri, she charged, as well as various members of the bin Laden family and other mujahideen, were transported on NATO planes to various parts of Central Asia and the Balkans to participate in Pentagon-backed destabilisation operations.

    According to two Sunday Times journalists speaking on condition of anonymity, this and related revelations had been confirmed by senior Pentagon and MI6 officials as part of a four-part investigative series that were supposed to run in 2008. The Sunday Times journalists described how the story was inexplicably dropped under the pressure of undisclosed “interest groups”, which, they suggest, were associated with the U.S. State Department.

      1. YankeeFrank

        If Bill Maher was half as smart as he thinks he is, he would be five times smarter than he actually is. That’s mathematical fact.

  8. craazyman

    I usually have little trouble imagining things, but I find it very hard to imagine Swedish people rioting.

    Maybe it was just some exited fans after a soccer match or the crowd after a screening of old Abba concert films. And they were pumping their hands up and down and somebody mistook that for throwing things.

    If Swedish people rioted I think they’d apologize in advance and then clean up afterward. You wouldn’t even know it the next day.

    “There was a riot here?”
    “Yeah, last night at about 10”
    “Yeah, they stayed around to clean up after.”
    “Huh. No wonder. It looks cleaner here now than it did yesterday.”
    “Yeah, it does, doesn’t it.”

    I just can’t see a Swedish riot doing anything except making things better. I wonder if the Swedish women riot too. Their blonde hair swinging around their heads while the throw things and duck. Or maybe they just clean up after. It’s hard to say for sure.

    1. zephyrum

      Apparently it’s the immigrant youths who are rioting because they feel they are not treated as well as ethnic Swedes. The Swedes have gone out of their way to encourage immigration to the country, to educate and support the refugees, and to attempt to have them assimilate with their society. Apparently it’s not working. And though immigrant unemployment is three times that of ethnic Swedes, at 8% it’s comparable to the whole-population rate in other countries.

      Seems to prove Twain’s maxim, “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”

      1. diane

        hmmmm, perhaps you need to read the late Stieg Larsson’s take, in between the lines of course, … on his own country of birth, ….Sweden.

        1. zephyrum

          That would be interesting. Perhaps you would be so kind as to elucidate some of his thoughts from between the lines?

          1. diane

            Curious how you know beforehand how interesting that would be? Anywhoodle, perhaps you would be best served by determining what he was trying to get across, yourself, as my reading may not be the quite the same as yours (not to mention the fact that I don’t speak, nor read or write, Swedish, and perhaps you do?).

            I will say, though, that it did seem (to me) that he thought the powers that be, were as racist and misogynist as the day is long, and then some.

      2. Synopticist

        I vaguely knew this English guy who lived in Sweden, maybe still does. He’s married to a Swede, speaks decent but heavily accented Swedish, and is actually a really pretty smart bloke. He made loads of money as a salesman in the UK, he’s clever and quick and well-presented, and was a brilliant manager according to a mate of mine who worked for him.

        Could he get a decent job in Sweden? No way. Barely anything above the crapest cleaning/labouring type of work. The last time I spoke to him he was thinking of starting a business.

        So if a middle class English immigrant with a Swedish wife and a salesy kind of work ethic has a hard time cracking the Swedish labour market, it must be a lot harder for non-Europeans.

        1. zephyrum

          That doesn’t surprise me. A buddy moved his family from the US to Japan against the wishes of his Japanese-native wife. On visits he had been treated like royalty, but as a resident he was ignored. No real employment prospects, aside from occasional English language tutoring. Moved back after a year.

          Perhaps Sweden should not have encouraged immigration, and perhaps they should treat non-ethnic Swedes better. But it’s hard for me to see how riots are going to help.

          1. Stan Musical

            I hear that. When talking to visitors to Japan, where I spent too many years, they’d be dumbfounded when I told them about the way you’re treated (mostly) as a resident–blatant racism, manifested in a thousand ways, some benign and paternalistic (actually, maternalistic is more like it), others not-so-comfy. Actually, being an “English sensei” is much better in those regards than being an acknowledged master of a Japanese art, that just messes with their heads too much.

            “But they’re so polite and kind!” Ha. Hospitality to guests ends when you move in, even though you have a lease and pay your rent on time.

  9. Herman Sniffles

    From the Guardian article: “(Weinstein) is now an economist and consultant at the Natron Group, a New York hedge fund.”
    There’s your answer. As these moneybag sociopathic ‘media manipulators’ begin to express their new-found power, expect all sorts of thought-direction to come our way. What is art? Ask Blankfein! He knows because he’s a sociopathic billionaire who rapes women and children with rolled up wads of hundred dollar bills as he spews hysterical laughter, and then brags about afterwards it to his friends in congress. If there’s one thing Americans love it’s sociopathic billionaires. I mean, my god, we see Warren Buffet as a grandfather figure! Even after seeing the Bill Gates deposition with federal authorities, people still revere the icky, sticky, horrid little creature. So get ready folks. These guys have stolen enough of the worlds wealth that they will now try to steal our culture: science, art, religion, literature, you name it, they want it! What should we think about that new Broadway musical? Let’s ask Robert Rubin! HE MUST KNOW BECAUSE HE’S RICH AND PROFOUNDLY EVIL!

  10. Herman Sniffles

    Somebody should pull those horses out of that mud. They’re up to their kneecaps!

  11. JGordon

    About the falling bridge:

    As the real economy slows down due to resource depletion and pollution there will no longer be enough real resources available to even maintain the infrastructure, let along grow it. Translating that into the political language of governments not spending enough seems to be rather beside the point. If the resources aren’t there, they aren’t there no matter how much money you spend into existence.

    We have not yet reached the point where we can’t plunder enough from the earth to maintain our unsustainable infrastructure admittedly, but we’re close to it. Bridges falling now and roads becoming unusable is good preparation for the future–so in other words this might be good, thought-out policy on the part of government rather than bad. If things are allowed to slowly decay as is, there won’t be the abrupt and horrifying instant transition that’s inevitable.

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