Links 6/5/13

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Scientists tell Australia to save Great Barrier Reef PhysOrg. Ahem, it is also being cooked by ocean acidification, which is most decidedly beyond its control. So I’m not sure the right expression is “save” as opposed to “slow the death of”

Alien Nation: Have Humans Been Abducted by Extraterrestrials? Vanity Fair (craazyman)

Deadline Looms for Suspect to Decrypt Laptop, or Go Directly to Jail Wired

Is the Information Technology Revolution Over? FRB (Mark Thoma)

Beijing blocks remembrance for Tiananmen dead Japan Times (YY)

China takes tit-for-tat move against EU wine exports Financial Times

Russia wants Seagal to be face of weapons industry Associated Press (1 SK)

The urgent need to recapitalise Europe’s banks VoxEU

Horrible European Retail Sales Clusterstock

On crossing the ECB interest-rate streams FT Alphaville

UK doubles down on housing disaster MacroBusiness

Why Turkey is Rebelling Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Project Syndicate

Turkey’s Protests Send a Strong Message, But Will Not Bring Democracy Dani Rodrik

Inside the People’s Republic of Taksim Financial Times

Yoga Joins Peaceful Protests at Istanbul’s Gezi Park YogaDork (martha r)

Iran Outmaneuvers U.S. in the Syrian Proxy War Bloomberg

Syrian army retakes town of Qusair BBC

Bradley Manning’s Wikileaks trial shrouded in secrecy Christian Science Monitor

Obama’s Trade Nominee Stashes Cash in Offshore Tax Haven Gawker

Does a State Have the Right to Self-Destruct? Atlantic (Lambert)

The Idiot’s Guide to the Voting Rights Act Greg Palast

South Portland doctor dumps insurance, posts lower prices online Sun Journal (martha r)

WSJ Editorial Board Member Furious With “All Powerful Bike Lobby” Firedoglake (Carol B)

Goldman Says They Don’t Benefit From A Too Big To Fail Funding Advantage Clusterstock

Caveat Emptor: Another Level of Non-Quantifiable Risk Added to Trading Metals On the Comex Jesse

Gold prices heading towards $1,000 Nouriel Roubini, Guardian

One of Wall Street’s Riskiest Bets Returns Wall Street Journal. On synthetic CDOs. But they don’t tell us what the underlying assets are, and it was hybrid CDOs (part cash, largely synthetic) that were did the real systemic damage (details in ECONNED).

Fed’s Raskin Bemoans Quality of New Jobs WSJ Economics Blog

Rural US shrinks as young flee for the cities Financial Times

How to destroy the future Noam Chomsky, Guardian

4 Plagues: Getting a Handle on the Coming Apocalypse AlterNet. Yowza, and I thought I was a pessimist….

Antidote du jour:


And a bonus, a video on prairie dog language! They can describe humans! A summary at Treehugger (bl):

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  1. Chris Engel

    Ralph Nader gives interview to DemocracyNow discussing his new book “Told You So” (it’s a collection of columns he has written over the years which show his successful analysis of the pitfalls of legislation and political milestones in recent history). He talks about American fascism, the two-party scam, corporate crime, Wikileaks, etc.

    part two is here:

    I see Nader as sort of a starving artist, in the sense that I don’t think his work as a consumer advocate or political observer will be appreciated until after he’s gone. He really has consistently called all the disastrous results of pro-big-business anti-consumer/worker policies.

    1. Expat

      Isn’t it obvious? Ralph Nader was stupendously effective when he burst on the scene in the 60s. And, alas, he is the reason we are living in the despotic billionaire-ridden toxic waste dump that is America today. We live in an anti-Nader state because Nader TERRIFIED the fat cats and, while the majority failed to heed his message, the fat cats organized and used the tools he identified to block every decent impulse in America. The fat cats gamed the system at our expense; hardly the response Nader intended, and hardly the world the rest of us want.

    2. lakewoebegoner

      In a just world, Nader would receive a Nobel Peace Prize for all the lives he saved by forcing Detroit to adopt better safety standards in the 60’s—-when the Big 3 already had research on the efficacy of lap belts, etc but chose not to implement them cuz they wanted to save money.

  2. YankeeFrank

    Re “Decryption deadline looms…”

    “If a judge orders you to decrypt the only existing copies of incriminating files, are your constitutional rights against compelled self-incrimination being violated?

    That’s the provocative question being raised as a Wisconsin man faces a deadline today either to give up his encryption keys or risk indefinite imprisonment without a trial.”

    Are we now removing the pretense that indefinite detentions would only be for those scary “terrists”?

    1. YankeeFrank

      I just read a bit of the comment thread on this article. Amazing. Its basically one guy saying this violates the 5th amendment and somehow that led directly to 1,000 replies about how the gubmint is about to take our guns away, and a civil insurrection spoogefest. These gun nuts just love to play the victim and pretend they’re about to fight the good fight against the black helicopters. I stopped playing war around the age of 12. Apparently that is when these nut-jobs quit maturing.

      1. JohnL

        Quite. Where was the NRA when the gubmint shut down the home of the original Tea Party?

        1. diptherio

          If only those runners and spectators had been packing heat (as any Gawd-fearing American does, 24-7) this all could have been avoided.

  3. tim alex graham

    Re: tax issue in Colorado

    The point of view of this article is a perfect example of
    fascism. Unfair taxation was one of the main issues of independence. States’ rights is fundamental to the Bill of Rights. The right of referendum and initiative is tantamount to any Democracy.

    1. Massinissa

      Having to have a vote, on every single fucking increase in spending, and worse, you can only hold a vote on one thing at a time? It would at least be reasonable if they could hold a vote on several items. The system is irrational because it effectively stops the government from having any power at all.

      Its absurd, and no other red state in the country has such a reactionary system.

    2. Little Voice in Texas

      Exactly! That is why the Supreme. Court will rule the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because only states have the right to define marriage

      1. Invy

        Devils advocate: But the social structure formed between a man and a woman has economic consequences…

        It is impossible to play devils advocate against gay marriage without some kind of bigotted statement. Merely showing someone could try and relate gay marriage to the interstate commerce clause…

  4. diptherio

    Happy Adam Smith’s Birthday, ya’ll!

    Also, it turns out that for pundits, it’s better to be confident than correct. Confidence equals followers on twitter and lots of talk-show guest spots; getting it right, not so much.

    And for the daily dose of schadenfreude, we have JPM writing down 88% of the Jefferson Co., Alabama debt that it owns as part of a deal to settle the largest government bankruptcy in US history. Bondgirl tweeted this link to the sordid history of the case, including how JPM paid-off Goldman Sachs to not do business with Jefferson Co.

    1. nobody

      From what I’ve seen, a preference for confidence over competence or correctness seems to run throughout contemporary American society. In corporate America, in American academia, and in the non-profit sector, I’ve either witnessed or have heard directly about people who project an image of confidence being consistently favored over people who are substantially more competent but are modest. Morris Berman has it right: the US is a nation of hustlers, and the hustler culture is almost everywhere you look (including in the activist and ‘radical’ social segments).

      1. Nathanael

        Most people are lazy and stupid — in a specific way.

        Most people will not do the double-checking to see whether the pundit who is talking knows what they’re talking about. Instead, most people will just go based on the “emotional image” that the pundit is projecting.

        This is the basis of many scams.

        People on the autism spectrum are more likely to be immune to this type of scam because they don’t notice the “emotional image” at all.

        1. nobody

          “People on the autism spectrum are more likely to be immune to this type of scam…”

          Yep. And I’ve noticed, over time, that a number of people commenting here at NC have identified themselves as autistics/spectrumites/aspergerians. There’s probably a fair chance that there’s a higher prevalence of autisticality in the NC readership than in the general population.

          The world will be a better place when it learns to take autistic brains and insights more seriously (and to treat autistic people less badly).

          Here’s one bright spot:

      2. John

        It’s called charisma.

        The way I think about it is that 50% of the population is of below average intelligence. It’s called a tautology.

        I like tautologies because they are a tool to make self-referential and therefore self-evident statements about the relative value of two things.

        As it was, so shall it be.

        A great insight of my life was Bill Moyers saying that “Politics is Religion.”

        He’s onto something there.

        So that being said, I disagree with you on a minor point and logged on to spread my own pet theory of the day.

        Here it is.

        Isn’t the answer to all of the world’s problems a total reduction in V2 money supply? However, we demonize it.

        Full disclosure: I was watching videos relating to “robots going to take your job: but it’s a good thing”, a TedX talk.

        While convincing EVERYONE (or enough of them) of the truth is a futile gesture, replacing their jobs with computer technology is not. Question being, what are we all going to do after journalism, transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, and maybe even legislation and innovation have been automated?

        How will the status quo react or otherwise conspire to keep us busy?

        Anyways, the point I really have today is that we see the decline in “V2” (velocity of greenback/ fiat currency) as a disaster because it is bad for “jobs.”

        Yet, given that the entire financial system is a ruse built upon debt bondage in a system of exponential growth in a world of limited resources… the only way to continue the system is through an ever-expanding Empire.

        Which has worked so far, on the whole, but is falling apart because there is no more Earth for us to conquer.

        Watch out. Opt out. Turn out.

  5. PQS

    Re: Doctor not taking insurance. I had a PCP do this about 15 years ago, and for the same reasons: cut overhead, spend more time with patients, get rid of the hassles.

    If more doctors would do this, maybe BIG INSURCO would sit up and pay attention. But then, what’s the ratio of PCPs to Specialists? about 1 to 50?

    1. Lee

      “Insurance companies no longer dictate how much he charges. He can offer discounts to patients struggling with their medical bills. He can make house calls.”

      The health care providers I have encountered who shift the hassle and cost of seeking reimbursement from insurance companies to their patients, have been rather less altruistic. They tend to charge more and add to the difficulties of the very ill.

      Some doctors who opt-out of Medicare will have their patients sign a contract promising that they will not seek reimbursement from Medicare, and are therefore liable for the total cost of care.

      I am no fan of private health insurance companies but the practice and concept of socializing risk, whether through public or private systems, is superior to the alternative unless you’re rich.

      I am no friend of

    2. Bruno Marr

      (Initial comment seems to have been lost into the ether)…

      Long to short: the biggest (catastrophic) healthcare expense isn’t spending on MD’s; it’s what you’ll be paying to the HOSPITAL.

    3. Goin' South

      It’s one short step from what this MD is doing to a cooperative community primary care center. Fifty families organizing to create a coop that pays that doctor on an annual basis for primary care.

      In effect, this is nothing more than a CSA.

      Sorry, I won’t be providing “concrete examples” nor multiple links other than this link to the bizzaro science fiction dream that human beings can self-organize to meet their needs–and that advancing technology makes this easier, not more difficult:

  6. financial matters

    The 4 Plagues: Getting a Handle on the Coming Apocalypse AlterNet. Yowza, and I thought I was a pessimist….

    Very good discussion, I consider myself a realist which these days is probably pretty pessimistic ;)

    “”Still, being realistic, the challenges of building resistance, finding ways to reform and change the “system” is hugely daunting. Many thinkers argue that our version of exploitative capitalism is doomed, and will someday fall apart. The only problem is, those thinkers have no idea how to bring down capitalism, or even change the system, beyond critiquing it. The number of people and books that bewail the system are many, but the path to solutions, almost nil. Meanwhile, more people suffer every day.””

    I think Naked Capitalism does a great job of dissecting out the problems and I think New Economic Perspectives does a great job of offering solutions…

    1. JohnL

      Pretty much resigned myself to working on survival despite these plagues. Not seeing this getting fixed top-down, or by any kind of “movement”. We have all been co-opted and brainwashed. We are now all responsible for our own education, healthcare, retirement, housing. We’re part of the system and part of the problem. We can’t destroy it without destroying ourselves. TPTB have done a superb job of co-opting us in building a society which supports them. The only thing to do is to work locally to build a community with compassion, protect the commons. And this is happening in many places. Turn your back on TPTB and work in your local community. We are the ones that need to change.

      1. Nathanael

        One can’t build a local community without first being willing to reject the national system. One doesn’t have to actually reject the national system upfront, but eventually the local community starts being in conflict with the national system (at least with a national system this broken)…. so you have to be ready…

  7. k

    Dorothy Rabionwitz’ crazy rant about the bike lobby is one of the very best things bike advocates could hope for. Thanks for the boost, Ms. Rabinowitz! I’m looking forward to more and safer cycling infrastructure all over the country much sooner than I expected to see it as a direct result of your “editorial”.

    1. Optimader

      I made it to min 2:34 on the bike rant.
      Is it later revealed to be a crazy dry humor WSJ spoof of The Onion or is she (they) reason # 1,732 why I don’t live in NYC? She reminds me of a reanimated version of Bogman from the Jutland peat-bogs.
      Trotting out a morphed version of the “for our safety” meme mashed-up with “freedom is totalitarianism” that seamlessly rolls into taking on the mantle of NYC aesthetic sensibility marm: yellow cabs are more attractive than blue bikes?
      tsk tsk

    2. MacCruiskeen

      Indeed–the video is making the rounds of bike blogs and her words are starting to become internet memes. It’s an almost perfect distillation of anti-bike curmudgeonry. It’s particularly funny/offensive to viewers in cities like Boston and Washington that have already successfully implemented bikeshare programs. I see the Hubway bikes being ridden all over the place here now. The one point I grant her is that having the Citi logo on the bikes is kinda sad. That’s gotta hurt a little.

  8. Jim Haygood

    The article on Goldman Sachs’ funding advantage (or alleged lack thereof) falls into the framing trap which Goldman set:

    The TBTF funding argument is that Goldman, with implicit government support, pays less to issue bonds than Goldman without support would.

    Nope, that’s not the argument, because it focuses (to Goldman’s advantage) only on bonds.

    Corporate funding consists of both equity and debt. In a crisis, equity funding is unattractive. But what is essential in a crisis is the ability to roll over short-term funding (loans, commercial paper, etc.) … not long-term funding such as bonds.

    By waiving the qualification period and allowing Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to masquerade as deposit-taking banks (rather than the white-shoe investment bankers they really are), the Federal Reserve and TARP gave them access to tens of billions in near zero cost short-term funding which was otherwise unavailable to them.

    By contrast, the Fed and TARP have no direct involvement in setting corporate bond yields. Naturally Goldman finds it convenient to focus on a long-term funding sector which is irrelevant to the issue of TBTF financing.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the current Goldman people don’t know how to take advantage of TBTF, they are failing their shareholders.

      I know quite a lot of people who are capable of that…people who are still in grade school.

  9. vlade

    On the last link. I never really understood when someone writes “Many people feel they have no control over the direction of the country because their vote doesn’t matter—incumbents with the most money mostly get elected.” Sure, but unless it’s a vote buying/fraud, people are still free to vote for who they want and it doesn’t have to be the guy (or gal) with the deepest pockets… Doesn’t it say more about the society that they vote for the most visible not the best then about the people who ride that?

    The ultimate truism “people have the government they deserve” is about that people will have as good a government as much they want to get truly involved. If you really want to change something, doing, not complaining is the way. If you feel you have no control – well, who did you vote for? Did you consider banding together and running for something (say some local office, not everyone has to start their political career as a presidential candidate)?

    1. Nathanael

      Look up Duverger’s Law. When the same people have sewn up the nominations in both parties, then your vote really doesn’t matter.

      (Until a critical mass of people decide to ignore the conventional wisdom and vote third-party.)

      Proportional representation systems make it easier to change the people in power: no party is ever “secure”. Though in Ireland, the bankers have bought all FOUR of the most popular parties, meaning it’s going to be a while before there’s a change (people have to recognize this and vote for a FIFTH party).

      1. vlade

        What would have happened if Occupy started fielding its own candidates? First locally, then more widely? It’s possible – we saw it we Tea Partiers (who then got absorbed and hijacked by Republicans, but still have more impact on policy then before. Unfortunately.).

        Saying “oh, they have sawn up the nominations” solves exactly nothing. Occupy had the great chance (which I now think is more or less wasted) to start a new left-of-centre platform.

  10. AbyNormal

    checkout the bonehead ive had to deal with…obviously he’s got more bang to offer before he GET THE HEL OUT OF THIS STATE AND ALL POLITICS

    Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on Tuesday suggested that the “hormone level created by nature” was to blame for rapes in the military and that all pregnant servicewomen should be investigated to make sure their condition was the result of consensual sex.
    At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on sexual assaults within the military, Chambliss opined that the Pentagon’s decision to allow women in combat roles was only going to make the problem worse.
    The Georgia Republican recalled that “several years ago when we had the first females go out on an aircraft carrier, when they returned to port, a significant percentage of those females were pregnant.”
    “Was any investigation made by the Navy following that incident to determine whether or not all of those pregnancies occurred as a result of consensual acts?” he asked Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert.
    The admiral replied that he did not have details of the incident immediately available, but he pledged to follow up.
    Chambliss noted that Democratic proposals to modify the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and take sexual assault reporting outside of the victim’s chain of command might not work because young servicemen were being driven by their “nature.”
    “The young folks coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23,” he pointed out. “Gee-whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So, we’ve got to be very careful on our side.”

    1. petridish

      This is the same “bonehead” who won his Senate seat by claiming that Max Cleland–you know, the Max Cleland who lost both legs and one arm in Viet Nam–was UNPATRIOTIC, and ran commercials morphing Osama bin Laden’s head onto Cleland’s decimated body.

      But this “nature” argument could get kind of sticky–a significant portion of these military rapes are male on male. Does this mean that homosexuals are actually BORN and not made? What is it about military culture that releases these “natural” homosexual hormones in our ostensibly hetero heroes?

      1. AbyNormal

        ah yes…early 80’s i danced with Max at a friends wedding (no he didn’t roll over my toes) and use to drink a round or two at Manuals when he’d drop by. Max didn’t deserve what he got…but the elderly sure idolized ShamBliss so i guess we got what we deserved. Max went to bat for his party and they torched him too…he didn’t deserve that either.

        1. AbyNormal

          kinda misspelled manuel’s but hey back in the 80’s i could hardly pronounce it ;)

        2. neo-realist

          How did the dems torch Cleland, or was he torched by virtue of the dems not attacking his opponent or doing nothing to defend Cleland in the face of GOP smear.

    2. Goin' South

      Let me raise what will likely be a very unpopular point.

      When you want to play identity politics by demanding the right to join the most patriarchal, violent, homophobic, racist and–let’s not forget–imperialist organization in the world, i.e. the U. S. military, one shouldn’t be surprised when your foolish demand comes back to bite you in the ass.

      Add to that the fact that while it is privileged non-profit, academic and political types at the forefront of this strategy, it is the powerless working class women and LGBTs who join the military because of economic desperation. What does anyone think will happen to these folks in a system designed to brutalize everyone it encounters. They’re cannon fodder just as they are when it comes to women in the workplace where those driving “equal rights” are only concerned about who gets to sit in the board room while not giving a shit about minimum wage.

      It has never ceased to amaze this potential draftee who was ecstatic to learn of his 300+ draft number that so many feminists and LGBT activists thought it a great idea to demand joining such a degenerate institution.

      Shortcuts are always bad ideas. Never sacrifice deep change for short term acceptance.

      Who thought that gaining the right to join ‘Murca’s mercenaries as full partners in the killing would be an advance for human rights?

      1. Goin' South

        I feel obliged after that rant to propose the alternative.

        If you’re on the outside, viewed as unworthy to become a member of an institution, it can provide a perspective that imparts the ability to see that the institution itself is a piece of crap, e.g. fraternities and sororities.

        Who would really want to join the military? Does it play a positive role in our society or the world?

        I understand why some feminist and LGBT play this game. In a patriarchal, violent and imperialist society, if you want to join the club, you’d better be able to join the military. And marry.

        But this is a shortcut that will only serve the most privileged members of those oppressed groups. For the rest, at the best, it will be meaningless and for those actually involved, it will bring all the wonderful benefits of PTSD and death.

        The alternative is to attack those patriarchal institutions rather than begging to join them.

        It would have benefited not only women and LGBTs but all of humanity.

        1. Goin' South

          I failed to fully explicate this thought:

          “I understand why some feminist and LGBT play this game. In a patriarchal, violent and imperialist society, if you want to join the club, you’d better be able to join the military. And marry.”

          Those who play this game are employing the strategy of letting their lessers–in the class sense–pay the price. Feminists sitting on their asses in DC get to trumpet “women can do anything” (in a fucked up society) while sending their sisters into rape-ready situations in Iraq and Afghanistan (not even considering the death/PTSD likelihood). LGBT insiders in those same circumstances advocate sending their brothers and sisters to get killed or acquire PTSD.

          Ah, the wonders of the non-profit liberal system of identity politics. Working hard for the right for you poor suckers to get fucked as badly as everybody else. It used to be that being a woman or gay kept you out of the fucking army.

      2. lambert strether

        I have never understood why teaching new classes of humans to slaughter others was an advance. Why not teach schoolkids, while we’re at it? Although I suppose in future first person shooter games will or will have done that.

        1. Goin' South

          Fundamentally, this seems to be the question to me:

          Who wants to be accepted by a sick society?

          1. Goin' South

            Again, an incomplete thought.

            If one is fortunate enough to be born an outsider to a sick society so as to see its faults, why in hell would you want to perpetuate them by seeking acceptance by means of the sickest aspects of that society?

          2. Goin' South

            One more try to edit my statement:

            If one is fortunate enough to have been born an outsider in a sick society so that one was granted the perspective to see that society’s faults, why in hell would you want to perpetuate those same faults by seeking acceptance by means adopting the sickest values of that society?

            Note that one can be born an outsider in a number of ways. While race, gender and sexual orientation are aspects that one cannot erase on one’s own, those born into privileged classes may also be “born” into resistance in psychological and class senses.

          3. Ms G

            ” … why in hell would you want to perpetuate them by seeking acceptance by means of the sickest aspects of that society?”

            To make a living? Unless you’re some genius musician or scientist or whatever that can make you financially autonomous without joining any of the sick “clubs.”

        2. Massinissa

          Instead of privatizing education, we should totally give education to the military instead.

          Imagine being able to send all those kids in Chicago that Rahm Emmanuel is taking the schools of to fight in Syria! And lets send the teachers union that Emanuel hates so much too! And hell, why dont we send Chicago’s homeless population to Syria too? Al Qaeda is probably has more money to spend on them than we do anyway: Unlike Al Qaeda, Chicago has sports stadiums to build!

          /sarc off

      3. bob

        I agree with a lot of what you said.

        When you join the military, by choice or draft, you become their property. Full stop. You are the property of the USG.

        I also have to wonder if there are more rapes happening now, or if the rapes in the past were done against native, non-persons and didn’t count.

        As the war nerd and other have pointed out, in the past when you joined the military you got ‘paid’ by what you could rape or plunder.

    1. Yonatan

      Why was the rescued deer so slow in running away?

      Deer: Dangnabbit! Every time I try to cross this SoB river, some Good Samaritans rescue me. That would be great if only they dropped me off on the other side of this SoB river!

  11. Valissa

    Fun with drones…

    Domino’s carries out world’s first pizza drone delivery
    TacoCopter turned out to be a fake. So did the Burrito Bomber.

    But now, the skies, at least in the U.K., have finally opened up to fast food: Domino’s Pizza has carried out a delivery order by drone helicopter.

    Video of… DomiCopter, A Domino’s Pizza Delivery Drone (~1min)

    Tragedies: The TacoCopter Was Just a Hoax
    Burrito Bomber, An Open-Source Airborne Mexican Food Delivery System

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They will get accidental competition from the Fed.

      I hear that the latter, from his helicopter, sometimes, by mistake, drops pizza instead of money to people who aren’t even banksters.

  12. Garrett Pace

    “Is the information technology revolution over?”

    It isn’t just about production! Until technology enables poo people to consume more, it doesn’t really matter how much we can produce.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe information technology evolution is more dangerous…slower, less visible, but more devastating.

  13. from Mexico

    @ “Bradley Manning’s Wikileaks trial shrouded in secrecy”

    It is no wonder that the military judge in Manning’s court martial trial, Army Col. Denise Lind, wanted her rulings to remain secret. As Truthout reported:

    In a telling sign of just how fair of a trial Manning will get, the military judge already ruled that almost all questions and evidence the defense can raise about Manning’s intentions for acting are irrelevant to the trial.

    This ruling firmly places Lind in the Richard Nixon and Adolf Eichmann camp. For the faithful adherents of legalism like Lind, the law is all about mala prohibita, or wrongful only because it is illegal, and nothing about mens rea, or an “evil-meaning mind.” It’s all about the letter of the law, and nothing about the spirit of the law. It’s an unbelievably one-eyed view of criminal jurisprudence, and is “inconsistent with our philosophy of criminal law.” (quotes from the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Morissette v. United States)

    1. optimader

      Richard Nixon = CinC = Obama
      Col. Adolf Eichmann = military tool = Col. Denise Lind

    2. from Mexico

      After Adrian Lamo’s testimony before the court martial yesterday, it becomes very clear why judge Lind ruled:

      1) Not to allow the court reporter into the courtroom who the press had hired to make a transcript of the trial, and

      2) That almost all questions and evidence the defense can raise about Manning’s intentions for acting are irrelevant to the trial.

      The Obama and army propagandists have spent the last three years in an elaborate, full court press to demonize Manning as a troubled, unstable, and vengeful young gay man who did what he did out of spite. If this were true, the government would have little problem demonstrating the mens rea — “evil-meaning mind” — requirement necessary for a criminal conviction. But it looks like all the government propaganda was just that: distortions and half-truths at best, and outright lies at worst.

      It’s amazing how, despite all the precautions Lind took to insure the truth didn’t become public, that somehow it is managing to slip out. For instance, Scott Galindez reported that yesterday Lamo testified that, in emails and chats, Manning had written to him:

      ~ that Manning did not believe in good guys and bad guys anymore, only a plethora of states acting in self interest.
      ~ that Manning thought he was maybe too idealistic.
      ~ that, based on what Manning had seen, he couldn’t let the information stay inside.
      ~ that Manning felt connected to everybody, that we were all distant family, and he said he cared.
      ~ that Manning called himself a humanist and said he had custom dog tags where he had written humanist on the back.
      ~ that we are all human and we are killing ourselves and no one seems to care.
      ~ that Manning was bothered that nobody seemed to care, that apathy was far worse than active participation.
      ~ that Manning preferred the painful truth over blissful fantasy.

      Those are hardly the thoughts of some air-headed little disco queen that the Obama and army propagandists have spent the last three years and untold barrels of ink creating.

      It also explains why Lind’s ruling negating the mens rea requirement was so elemental to convicting Bradley Manning. There is no way the army could demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, the “evil-meaning mind” requirement.

    1. juliania

      With respect, neither this nor the article linked above give expression to a tweeted photograph I saw when the coverage was just beginning – that of a street littered with spent tear gas canisters, a close up on one of those showing clearly defined American manufacture.

      Turkey never wanted to participate in America’s illegal wars – remember their refusal in early days attacking Iraq? Now, the updrafting economy signifies that they are becoming what they don’t want to be. That coupled with the brutal crackdowns on young people who want to keep their park in Istanbul – well, that’s a significant last straw for a proud people.

      If that’s the tradeoff, maybe we all should wish for a downturn. It might signify we are no longer bought and paid for.

  14. rich

    The zero down mortgage is back—in Martha’s Vineyard.

    Ira Stoll at the Future of Capitalism blog has come across an article on “Home Buying 101” in the spring of 2013 “Real Estate & Homes” supplement to the Vineyard Gazette. A local mortgage broker by the name of Polly K. Bassett is quoted as touting how.

    Bassett, the “co-owner and a broker of Martha’s Vineyard Mortgage Company, L.L.C., said: “We have access to a wide range of programs such as USDA, which is a program where you can put no money down, 100 percent financing, and we also do a 97 percent financing with three percent down….There are a lot of programs out there for people buying their first home.”

    Buy your first home on Martha’s Vineyard with zero percent or three percent down? This might be a good idea for a borrower if prices go up, but it’s not a good idea for a lender if the price goes down. “USDA” isn’t explained in the article, but it might be a U.S. Department of Agriculture program for farm property, which means the lender is us, the taxpayers. And the Federal Housing Administration has a three-percent down program, which means, again, the taxpayers are on the hook.

    I put in a call to the Martha’s Vineyard Mortgage Company, where the phone was answered by Carol Borselle, Bassett’s business partner.
    Borselle told me that the USDA mentioned in the article is, in fact, the Department of Agriculture. It turns out that the entire island is designated as a rural area eligible for a USDA loan.


    1. petridish

      “It turns out that the entire island is designated as a rural area eligible for a USDA loan.”

      Of course it is. Would you really have it any other way?

    2. bob

      Jet port, more acurate name.

      In the near distopain future, MV and Nantucket will be our England, Japan or Caymans(yes, I know, it’s also Enland). Island nations set off from the rest for the betters to be able to bank away from the unwashed.

  15. Hugh

    Don Hazen’s “Four Plagues” article seems to me to be another attempt to deal with some of the issues result from kleptocracy and class war without actually mentioning them. As such, it is something of a grab bag.

    However, I wanted to address some of its howlers:

    “Many thinkers argue that our version of exploitative capitalism is doomed, and will someday fall apart. The only problem is, those thinkers have no idea how to bring down capitalism, or even change the system, beyond critiquing it.”

    Well, if capitalism is going to fall apart on its own, why would there be a need to bring it down?

    “as Andrew Ross points out in the San Francisco Chronicle, “12.2 million Americans are classified as ‘not in the labor force’ because they’re considered ‘discouraged.” When you add in the discouraged and the reluctant part-timers (7.2 million) the unemployment rate jumps first to 9%, then 13.9%.”

    I could not access the SF Chronicle article so I do not know how Ross came up with 12.2 million. In April 2013, there were 835,000 discouraged workers as per the last BLS jobs report. Discouraged workers are defined as “those who did not actively look for work in the prior 4 weeks for reasons such as thinks no work available, could not find work, lacks schooling
    or training, employer thinks too young or old, and other types of discrimination.” It is a subset of the marginally attached (2.347 million): without a job, have not looked for work in the last 4 weeks, but have looked for work in the last year. The marginally attached, in turn, are a subset of Persons who currently want a job (6.329 million). In my own job report analysis, I calculated this last group at 9.528 million. I call it the BLS undercount.

    In any case, the 13.9% is probably the U-6 rate, measuring the un- and under employed, or what some of us call disemployment. But again, of this, 7.916 million were involuntary part time workers, so not exactly unemployed. In my own work, I calculated the disemployment rate in April at 17.2%.

    “more people of color are in jail than were ever slaves”

    Hazen cites 2.3 million Americans incarcerated of which 1 million are African American. In the 1860 Census, there were 3.95 million slaves in the US out of a population of 31.44 million, that is 1 in 8 Americans in 1860 was a slave.

    1. Goin' South

      If only FDR could be raised from the grave, all would be well.

      That’s the thrust.

      In truth, we have FDR to thank for this sick system to still be surviving.

      1. Nathanael

        FDR, like the Emperor Augustus or Earl Grey, ruled with Enlightened Self-Interest. He knew what had to be done in order to preserve the lives and wealth of the elites — what bones had to be thrown to the masses.

        The amazing stupidity of our current elites is such that they do not know this. They are therefore on the path of King Louis XVI or the Romanovs, the one leading to the guillotine or the firing squad.

        Whether you think FDR’s moves were good or bad depends on whether you are satisfied with incremental improvement within a peaceful society, or whether you are so frustrated you just want to blow it all up and start over.

        I think perhaps we’ve all been on both sides of that argument at different times…

        1. bob

          A little more local flavor on that time period, which has been pretty well sanitized.


          There are some very good links and information in the comments. The local reporter obviously was looking through the newpaper archive, but didn’t add much to the coverage. I have a feeling it’s because he found some very ugly coverage.

          It surprised me that RR was so organized and official with their anti-union PR campaign in the 30’s. It surprised me more how organized the labor must have been. They were preventing the removal of equipment from the factories across several small cities.

          Googling for trade journals during that time is really inforamative. The printers union is a good starting point.

          And yes, folks, it’s the same Remington that makes the present day AR-15, probably on the same site as the 1930’s factory.

    1. Nathanael

      The only good news about this is that the NSA has made the same, fatal, mistake as the Stasi in East Germany.

      They’ve collected too much material to actually read it. Or analyze it.

      They won’t even notice if there’s an organized coup, because they’ll be wasting their time pursuing Quaker drumming circles.

      They think that they can use some sort of computerized analysis to avoid this result, but they can’t; Google search is the best there is, and even Google’s algorithms are nowhere near good enough to sort the wheat from the chaff.

      With some luck, the US will collapse in a way quite similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

      1. Mark P.

        [1] This really is nothing new.

        In the 21st century, “wiretapping” no longer is practical — all data (voice, whatever) now travels Internet-style packet mode over fiberoptic, with everybody’s packets mixed together, except for the last mile of copper wire or cell-tower transmission.

        Hence, they’ve been hoovering everything up since 2001, because that’s technically the only way serious phone surveillance can be done at all in 2013.

        [2] Nathaniel wrote: “The only good news about this is that the NSA has made the same, fatal, mistake as the Stasi in East Germany. They’ve collected too much material to actually read it. Or analyze it.”

        Oh, come on. They don’t expect to read it or analyze it all in the way you suggest. Again, it’s 2013 — you may have noticed this yourself. What they’re doing is 99 percent about traffic analysis and COMINT metadata.

        If they then go into any specific person of interest’s data there may — or may not — be anonymization technologies employed. I’m not privy to NSA practices; I did talk to a number of people involved with Poindexter’s Total Information Awareness.

        [3] “They think that they can use some sort of computerized analysis … Google search is the best there is, and even Google’s algorithms are nowhere near good enough to sort the wheat from the chaff.”

        Google and NSA share expertise, to the extent that there are people who ‘consult’ for both organizations. I’ll leave it at that.

        1. Nathanael

          [1] Competent wiretapping is always done at the last mile, of course, and coupled with physical surveillance. If you don’t do that, it’s trivial for your target to reroute.

          [2] The traffic analysis is useless for detecting anything which truly risks overthrowing the state. Absolutely useless.

          As I say, it’s great for identifying Quaker drumming circles, and astoundingly useless for identifying organizations which actually pose a threat — whose main characteristic from the POV of traffic analysis is that they look deeply ordinary.

          Well, yes, organizations which actually pose a threat are probably using prepaid throwaway cellphones, but so are the huge majority of the population, because the people have been so impoverished that this is normal.

          This is actually one of several examples where impoverishing the population makes it much harder to identify anti-government activity (interesting, isn’t that?). Another: when there’s a background of simmering anger, it becomes much harder to spot people who are actually going to do something.

          And if they target a “person of interest”…. well, the trouble is, how do they identify them in the first place? That’s precisely what they’re crap at.

          Of course, perhaps the goal is merely to terrorize Quaker drumming circles and prominent opposition politicians, in which case I’m sure it works, because those people aren’t even trying to hide.

          Although, enough of this crap and those people WILL be using all the same information security techniques as terrorists do…

          [3] I stand by my statement: if they’re actually trying to find dangerous terrorist or revolutionary organizations, they’re in beyond their ability.

          Google cannot do the search because the search problem is too poorly defined. It’s trivially easy to drop out of detection by pretty much any search pattern.

          If they merely operate by tracking “known contacts of persons of interest”, they *both* get too many false positives, *and* they miss the brewing conspiracies which were never on their radar in the first place.

          The only way to really do anything useful is to stop spying on everyone, and go back to following up on actual, analyzed, in-person intelligence. Tips from people who were there in person, and all that. This has the nice advantage of complying with the Fourth Amendment.

          And on a bigger scale, the only way to do anything useful is to remove the background of simmering anger and poverty which makes it impossible to separate out “malcontents” from, well, the general population.

          1. Nathanael

            Another comment on false positives. One of the problems with false positives is that after you see enough of them, you stop paying attention to them.

            So, for instance, you (an analyst) see *yet another* right-wing anti-government libertarian group grumbling (perhaps the 20th that day), and after a cursory investigation, you go, “eh, another group of talkers”. This leads you to ignore them so that you’re all surprised when they suddenly actually do something.

        2. Lambert Strether

          1. If anonymization is used, I think that would be a change from the Bush administration; if I recall the 2006 warrantless surveillance scandal under Bush correctly, the system design the NSA had proposed that included anonymization was junked in favor of a simpler and cheaper system, and “privacy? Who cares!”

          2. Parsing out individual identities from the data flow is still a hard problem even with cells and GIS (which is why Faceborg and Google and Apple and all the rest of them keep asking you for primary keys they can sell).

          3. It would be nice to know how much Verizon made on the deal; IIRC, they charge a pretty penny for wiretapping. [UPDATE: Wrong, this is about metadata, not wiretapping the content of calls. Still none of their effing business who I call.]

          4. Obama, running for President in 2008, swore up and down he’d filibuster granting retroactive immunity to the telcos for Bush’s program of warrantless surveillance, then flip flopped and voted for it in July 2008 (“FISA reform”). That should have told anybody who was paying attention what he was, but now everybody knows.

    2. JohnL

      If you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, first thing you do is add more hay.

  16. Joe

    Nathanael, I hope you are correct. I’m getting incredibly tired of this Big Brother bullshit.

    1. Nathanael

      Although I’m correct, I don’t see why this would make you feel better. :-(

      The Stasi managed to stay around, terrorizing people, for decades after they stopped actually reading the reports they got.

      All this means is that the NSA’s wiretapping is *useless* for catching targeted “bad guys”. They’re still going to blunder around harassing innocent people for quite a while yet.

  17. Lambert Strether

    Verizon is collecting metadata (i.e. not call content (at least under this order*)):

    he order directs Verizon to “continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order”. It specifies that the records to be produced include “session identifying information”, such as “originating and terminating number”, the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information”.

    The information is classed as “metadata”, or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such “metadata” is not limited to the aforementioned items. A 2005 court ruling judged that cell site location data – the nearest cell tower a phone was connected to – was also transactional data, and so could potentially fall under the scope of the order.

    While the order itself does not include either the contents of messages or the personal information of the subscriber of any particular cell number, its collection would allow the NSA to build easily a comprehensive picture of who any individual contacted, how and when, and possibly from where, retrospectively. ….

    Such metadata is what the US government has long attempted to obtain in order to discover an individual’s network of associations and communication patterns. The request for the bulk collection of all Verizon domestic telephone records indicates that the agency is continuing some version of the data-mining program begun by the Bush administration in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

    Sounds to me like “Eric” and “Mark” fessed up that their privatized version of “the social graph” weren’t doing whatever it was Obama wanted to do. So now the NSA’s doing it.

    Or, alternatively, the master plan is to merge the voice “network of associations”(social graph) with the FaceBorg and Google data “network of associations”… Which is quite a challenge.

    NOTE * Since the order is secret, we can’t really know the totality of what they are collecting.

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