Links 7/20/13

Ice, ice, maybe: Snow and ice melting at record speed Grist

Collision Between Water and Energy Is Underway, and Worsening IEEE. Apropos a discussion in comments yesterday.

OECD unveils plan to end tax avoidance Telegraph

Hallelujah, Spain is recovering Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Egypt braced for renewed protests as Muslim Brotherhood stays on streets Guardian

After ouster, Egypt’s old guard is back Washington Post

Guantanamo’s attorney-client mail controversy Aljazeera (martha r)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

Journalist warns of ‘explosive’ news from cache Snowden leaked UPI (martha r)

Secret court lets NSA extend its trawl of Verizon customers’ phone records Guardian

Kerry vows to put the screws to Venezuela over Snowden – report RT and Venezuela ‘ends’ bid to restore full US ties BBC

Court Tells Reporter to Testify in Case of Leaked C.I.A. Data New York Times. Not good.

Fourth Circuit Guts National Security Investigative Journalism Everywhere It Matters Marcy Wheeler


BP effort to shut down compensation program blocked by judge Guardian

Judge orders Detroit to pull bankruptcy bid Aljazeera. But not clear this has any effect: Legal battle brews over Detroit bankruptcy filing USA Today

Detroit Bankruptcy Sparks Pension Brawl Wall Street Journal

Chicago schools lay off 2,100 while city puts $55 million into college basketball arena Daily Kos (Carol B)

Rise of the Warrior Cop Wall Street Journal

Not laughing anymore: a court finds a for-profit company can claim religious liberty digby (Carol B)

CVS Sued by a Former Pharmacist Wall Street Journal

When You Get Right Down To It, Bank Earnings Still Kind Of Stunk Clusterstock. A bit strained (as in lower ROEs are a good thing in a world of extractive finance) but a useful factoid

U.S. Accuses Cohen of Failing to Prevent SAC Insider Trading Bloomberg. The SEC has devoted a ton of resources to trying to get Cohen, so they look determined to find some way to call this effort a victory (mind you, I’m NOT saying Cohen is a good dude, I’m questioning give all the market abuses out there, the amount of resources devoted to this case). Good detail at FT Alphaville

Lost in the desert: Proponents of eminent domain cause a political stir in N. Las Vegas Housing Wire. Read to the end. What the article does not make clear is that Mortgage Resolution Partners have never been interested in helping the people who really need help, that is, borrowers who are delinquent or facing foreclosure and servicers won’t give them a mortgage modification (or only one that isn’t loaded full of improper junk charges) or borrowers trapped in zombie title hell. No, it’s only for borrowers who are paying like clockwork but whose mortgages are underwater. Investors, who’d favor the use of eminent domain for dealing with borrowers under stress, are fighting tooth and nail, with the result that MRP’s greed is likely to kill the more legitimate uses of eminent domain.

Couple denied mortgage because of gas drilling WTAE (martha r)

Poverty has moved to the suburbs Economist

When is the time for austerity? VoxEU

Global capitalism and 21st century fascism Aljazeera. Lambert highlighted this 2011 essay on Obama’s Weimar Republic.

Education, Neoliberal Culture, and the Brain Gary Olson, Dissident Voice (Ian Welsh)

Same old warfare? Times Literary Supplement (Lambert)

Antidote du jour:


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    1. Ned Ludd

      According to the Washington Post, Robert Lady (the former CIA base chief in Milan) “was released Friday and had boarded a flight to the United States, U.S. officials said.” No need to escape custody when you have the world’s most powerful government on your side.

      Greenwald contrasted Lady’s release with the U.S. government’s pursuit of Snowden: “The next time the US lectures the world about the rule of law and need for accountability, I’m sure this incident will be on many people’s minds. It should be.” Greenwald mentions that Robert Lady, “unlike Snowden – has committed serious crimes (kidnapping) and has been convicted of those crimes”.

      1. psychohistorian

        I am a little surprised by the speed of Lady’s release but not that it happened.

        America is Empire and with that comes control tentacles that normally operate below the radar of the publics’ perception because of the controlled media.

        While there are a lot of well intentioned humans at all levels of our social organizations, the economic and social control of the “Western Bloc” countries remains in the hands of global inherited rich plutocrats that have or are pushing our species towards extinction with their “the world is Gods’ gift to man” fiat based tenant.

        Unfortunately, the US has some economic pressure to bring on the South American countries. Will it be effective this time or is the world changing?

        While I have some respect for Mr. Snowdens’ position, It may take full disclosure of his view into our social perversion to jolt enough of the world population into hopefully corrective measures.

      2. Andrew Watts

        I personally enjoyed number seven on Greenwald’s list.

        Hayden: “Snowden fled to China with several computers’ worth of data from NSANET, one of the most highly classified and sensitive networks in American intelligence. The damage is potentially so great that NSA has taken one of its most respected senior operations officers off mission tasks to lead the damage assessment effort.”


        “And I would lose all respect for China’s Ministry of State Security and Russia’s FSB if they have not already fully harvested Snowden’s digital data trove.”

        Yup, feeling pretty smug right about now.

        1. Ned Ludd

          If you encrypt data using a keyfile, there is no way to decrypt the data unless you still have the keyfile. Any file can be a keyfile: an episode of Breaking Bad that you bought from iTunes, a lolcat, or an old copy of your résumé. For all we know, the keyfile might be a Microsoft Word document containing his parents’ Christmas card letter. Once Snowden deleted his copy, the only way to decrypt the data would be for him to get a copy of that letter again.

          Unless someone from China’s Ministry of State Security or Russia’s FSB can get Snowden to tell them who has the keyfile and is also able to retrieve the keyfile, there is no way to decrypt the data. None.

          1. psychohistorian

            Since the US knows what some of the content is I would suspect they could try and find a text block match and back into the key file. May not be as likely for other countries but still possible.

            1. F. Beard

              I suppose that would work unless one used a random keyfile or a keyfile made by xoring several text or music files together to create an easily reproducible, for all practical purposes “random” keyfile.

              Any further and I’ll drown!

  1. Ned Ludd

    The façade of diplomacy falls away as the threats towards Venezuela become explicit.

    The media outlet’s source said that the US’ top diplomat sent a clear signal that Venezuela’s Air Force One is not immune and President Nicolas Maduro could easily face the same fate as his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales, whose plane was grounded for inspection in Austria earlier this month in violation of all international diplomatic agreements.

    “Immunity is for the president, not the plane,” the ABC source cites Kerry’s personal message to President Maduro as saying.

    Liberals purport to believe in international law, but beneath the surface lies their thirst for power. When the authority of the U.S. government is threatened, the true face of liberalism becomes exposed.

    He reportedly also said that Washington is well aware of Venezuela’s dependence on the US when it comes to refined oil products…

    The source added that the US Secretary of State bluntly warned that fuel supplies would be halted if President Maduro continues to reach out to the fugitive NSA contractor.

    How is the U.S. government different from a criminal syndicate? Retribution for anyone who defies or questions its authority. A history of initiating violence against weaker adversaries. A lawless culture where elites have no constraints on their use of power and the majority of people toil away to further enrich those who are already wealthy. An organized group of enforcers used to crush domestic dissent through the use of violence.

    1. diptherio

      “Immunity is for the president, not the plane,” the ABC source cites Kerry’s personal message to President Maduro as saying.

      After the strip-search, we will no doubt hear “immunity is for the president, not his rectum.”

      How is the U.S. government different from a criminal syndicate?

      Is that a trick question? They both use that old “the gold or the lead” routine to good effect (so to speak). My hypothesis is that modern states are essentially a continuation of ancient large-scale extortion schemes, justified post hoc by folks like Rawls and Hobbes.

      There is a difference though, and it’s important to remember, imho. Gov’ts are composed of many people (civil servants) who are not themselves criminal, nor do they have criminal intent (I think the right-wing militia types and the left-wing anarcho-nihilist sorts tend to overlook this). The Gov’t may be run by criminals, but it is staffed almost entirely by non-sociopathic individuals. Most everyone in cosa nostra, I would imagine, are aware of what the deal is.

      If this distinction isn’t made, I think we run the risk of alienating a lot of potential allies; people who work for the gov’t and can’t help but feel personally insulted by such broad-brush statements (and this from one who is prone to making such statements…see above).

      1. J Sterling

        Will they now feel free to search diplomatic bags, because immunity is “for the diplomat, not the bag”? How about “immunity is for the ambassador, not the embassy”? Will they be real understanding if another country takes that view of violating US bags, embassies and planes?

      2. Ned Ludd

        When I was a private contractor working at a government installation, all of the government employees I worked with were extremely conservative. It was a job, and they had as much faith in their employer (the government) as someone working at Taco Bell. When I lived with military veterans, any sort of advocacy, on my part, for government programs would lead to vehement arguments. However, we could always agree that the government was corrupt and all politicians were liars!

        In regards to organized crime, where I am originally from, in the Northeast, people who have relationships with organized crime do not see themselves as criminals†. When someone lends you money to start a business, you do not ask where it came from. In return, they ask you to hire their friend, and you hire them to return the favor. If you refuse, your office accidentally burns down. A friend puts you on a health insurance policy that you are not eligible for, so your kid can get an operation. When you get into trouble with wage and hour, you contact the right politician to make it go away. Nobody sees this as criminal, just as people helping each other out. That’s what people do.

        † Likewise, people in the government, working on policies they do not support, do not see themselves as complicit. For them, it is a job, and they don’t make the rules

      3. Goyo Marquez

        Your comment reminded me of this from C.S. Lewis:

        “I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”

    2. Jim Haygood

      More from the UPI article:

      Kerry’s threat to suspend gasoline shipments could cripple Venezuela’s daily activities, the newspaper said.

      Venezuela, despite being the world’s No. 5 oil-exporting country, with the world’s largest heavy, crude oil reserve, does not have the capability to refine oil into gasoline and other fuels.

      Venezuela imports about 500,000 barrels of gasoline from the United States a month, along with 350,000 barrels of MTBE octane-boosting gasoline additives and other petroleum products, the Spanish newspaper said.

      Venezuela nationalized its oil industry in 1976, forcibly taking over foreign refineries. One of them was a huge former Exxon complex called Amuay. Under local PVDSA management, it has turned into a major industrial hazard, where 42 people were killed in a fire last year. A CNN article details the incompetent management and ubiquitous safety violations:

      Nearly forty years with a glorious ‘Peoples Petroleum Industry,’ and Venezuela still lives hand-to-mouth, importing 500,000 bpd of mogas from a political enemy, to retail it as a politicized loss-leader in Venezuela?

      That’s pathetic.

      PVDSA exhibits the same syndrome as most state-owned oil companies: continuing dependence on foreign technology; inability to attract competent management or to perform strategic planning; and systematic starvation of capital investment owing to below-market product pricing and being treated as a political cash cow.

      Needless to say, Kerry’s mafia-like threats to Venezuela are reprehensible.

      But it is equally reprehensible that the egotistical authoritarian Chávez left Venezuela’s economy in a shambles: starved of foreign exchange; starved of investment thanks to its hostile political climate; and with its poverty-stricken people scrambling for daily necessities such as toilet paper.

      Nice work, Hugo. You were a freakin’ genius, hombre.

      1. Robert Hurst

        Do you think that refined petroleum from the US is more important to Venezuela than Venezuelan oil is to the US (which imports about 11 million barrels per day)?

      2. YankeeFrank

        Your comment is ahistorical and hugely flawed. Do you not get that until about 13 years ago Venezuela was run by neoliberal stooges? The “state run” oil company was run as a private concern and was not interested in making Venezuela oil-independent. Now, I’m not saying Chavez ran it well, but to argue that the fact that Venezuela is not oil independent due to Chavez is ridiculous. In fact, there are extremely powerful interests that decide when and where a new refinery gets built, if one gets built at all. The “its all Chavez’s fault” is the product of reading too much US propaganda, which is all you get reading the MSM, if you haven’t realized this fact from reading NC.

  2. DakotabornKansan

    One of the best sounds in the world is the eerie, beautiful call of the loon.

    “Since ancient times the loon has featured prominently in Native American mythology. In Sioux and Lakota legends it plays a role in recreating the post-diluvian world. An Ojibwa tale credits the loon’s voice as the inspiration for Native American flutes. And from Alaska, a Tsimshian story describes how a loon restores a blind man’s sight, for which it is rewarded with the gift of the beautiful necklace of white feathers adorning its neck…

    In some future spring, the bird that began life as a fluffy chick bobbing on the water will return as an elegant adult to the northern lakes. With eerie wails and wild tremolos, its voice will echo across the water, and once more the loon will claim its territory—and our hearts—as the spirit of the north.”

    – Marie Read, “Spirit of the North, An intimate portrait of the Common Loon,” The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

      1. bob

        Tasty? I’ve never heard of anyone eating them. It seems like they would be very close to mergansers as far as diet- not good to eat.

        Local fishermen call them floating killer whales, they eat lots of little fish. They “hunt” in packs. Round em up then dive and feed on the way through.

        The call is great. It scares the hell out of people who hear it for the first time. Very maniacal.

        1. optimader

          Yes, and they are delicious too…

          Just kidding on that one Bob. They’re most satifying aurally not orally, and best at dusk w/ floating w/ a rum drink (me no them).

    1. Mel

      I don’t know what goes through their minds.

      We were camped by a lake on a canoe trek, and I was awake in the night and heard a loon call out a little three-note thing. Then another loon down the lake answered with the same thing, but transposed into the minor key. It’s like having Miles Davis out there.

  3. Ned Ludd

    Pete Ashdown, CEO of an internet service provider in Utah, writes about having “a little black box in the corner, courtesy of the NSA.

    We had to facilitate them to set up a duplicate port to tap in to monitor that customer’s traffic. It was a 2U (two-unit) PC that we ran a mirrored ethernet port to.

    [What we ended up with was] a little box in our systems room that was capturing all the traffic to this customer. Everything they were sending and receiving.

    As a commenter points out at Hacker News: “And yet his lawyer could have written a truthful denial that they’d given the govt ‘direct access to the server’. See how that works?”

    1. Yonatan

      “I am in a little bit of a different situation than large companies. I don’t have a board of directors to answer to. A number of [larger] companies are getting paid for the information. If you go establish a tap on Google’s network, they will charge X amount per month. Usually the government pays it.”

      We are in ur servers, spyin fer fun ‘n profit.

  4. diptherio

    Loons are great. It’s always a treat to run into a pair (they generally hang out in pairs) hanging out on a mountain lake when I go backpacking. Unfortunately, I never could figure out the two-handed loon-call, despite my father showing it to me numerous times.

  5. F. Beard

    ‘Fiscal contraction prolongs the pain when the state of the economy is weak, much less so when the economy is strong.

    Keynes is still right, after all: “The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.”’ Alan Taylor from When is the time for austerity?

    Leaving open the possibility that NEVER* is the time for austerity as far as economic growth is concerned. So then why do we have people pushing austerity? Is it not to protect (or increase) the real yields on sovereign debt since deflation cannot increase the default risk on sovereign debt since there can be none? But sovereign debt is “corporate welfare” according to Professor Bill Mitchell.

    * Leaving such decisions to God.

  6. diptherio

    Re: Education, Neoliberal Culture and the Brain

    If an empathy deficit is more apparent among undergraduates it’s because they are the legacy of over three decades of unrelenting exposure to our neoliberal ideology of unfettered greed and capitalism’s dominant narrative about human nature.

    Ummm…I think the empathy deficit is actually most apparent among boomers like J. Dimon, L. Blankfiend, J. Stumpf and our drone-director-in-chief, Mr. B. Obama. If the young’uns seem to lack empathy, it’s because they’ve been raised by the generation who made Gordon Gekko a culture-hero and invented the slogan “he who dies with the most toys wins”…which I guess is the point of the article.

    This is a point I have tried repeatedly to make to other econo-types, without much success. If you bring this up in mainstream circles you will be quickly accused of straying outside the bounds of economics and into psychology. Economists, you see, only talk about how things are, not how they should be (as I pull my hair out in frustration…it’s like trying to explain calculus to a dog).

    1. Klassy!

      Helen Thomas questioning the Bush administration on their explanation of the motivations of terrorists– well, that’s when I really got an idea of the high schoolish quality of the White House press corps. You could see the others literally bend away from Helen, eager to distance themselves from the weirdo kid.

  7. diptherio

    Re: OECD unveils plan to end ‘golden era’ of tax avoidance

    Tax reform has been a key feature of the UK’s G8 presidency this year and it followed up its commitment by pledging to contribute €400,000, alongside France and Germany, to help the OECD turn its proposals into concrete policies.

    I, for one, am glad to see they’re not just making a token gesture. €400,000…impressive, isn’t it? When engaging in a political battle with the wealthiest companies on the planet, it’s good to know you’ve got enough financial resources to see you through.

    Formal proposals to prevent what the OECD described as “artificial shifting of income” through “base erosion and profit shifting” will not be in place for two years, but will only work if they win universal support, lawyers and accountants warned.

    And I am sure that won’t be any problem at all. Achieving unanimity among every single country in the world is usually a cinch. I mean, just look at the United Nations…

  8. petridish

    RE: Couple denied mortgage because of gas drilling

    How in the world can this possibly be a surprise? I can’t imagine anyone willingly purchasing a property in any STATE that welcomes fracking let alone one with a drilling operation right across the street.

    The property owners in these areas have been had, pure and simple.

    Their astonishment that their “dream homes” have become worthless death traps as far as mortgage companies and many potential home buyers are concerned must be some sort of obscene joke.

    What would the seller’s disclosure statement look like? “The tap water has, to our knowledge, never ignited. No unusual skin rashes, metabolic diseases or cancers have been experienced by any of the adults or children who reside here.”

  9. F. Beard

    re Collision Between Water and Energy Is Underway, and Worsening:

    The absolute need for power plants is not water but cooling – much as an automobile engine does not need a continual supply of water but simply reuses what it has on board to xfer heat from the engine to the environment.

    And for those concerned about heating the environment there’s hope on that front. Using nano-technology, a reflector that absorbs heat and radiates it to outer space without heating the atmosphere has been developed. It is expected to drastically lower cooling costs. See New Type of Solar Structure Cools Buildings in Full Sunlight for more info.

    1. Susan the other

      It is a respite from hopelessness that we know these things. But applied science is a bear. We are faced with a margin call here, no? We need a large scale fix in the nearest possible time frame. Another possibility is hydrogen power cells which create their own electricity manufacture and the by product is pure water. But the applied science isn’t there yet. The IEEE is a practical organization. They have just matched the Union of Concerned Scientists concerns with a list of 4 things we can reasonably address: 1. Do energy efficiency, aka conservation, 2. Push renewables like crazy mad, 3. Electricity plants should use sewage effluent instead of fresh water, and 4. the water industry itself uses too much energy and should cut back. And they mention how much water is wasted during fracking. So where does this leave us? I’m not very comfortable with the future. We need to come after this problem from other angles. One would be shifting from big agriculture to permaculture; another would be shifting to something you can envision as aquaculture maybe; another is obviously to stop using all the energy that is polluting us into a water-challenged world – a world so hot we have reached our feasible limits. I’d go with the last first. Let’s stop manufacturing all our insane toys. Now.

      1. optimader

        Let’s stop manufacturing all our insane toys. Now.

        Now, let all agree on which are the insane ones. Duoggghh that s the thorny bit. I think your ****** is perhaps the insane toy, I’ll just be keeping the Bizzarinni

        Personally I would refocus concern on the US military which is by far the largest consumer of liquefied petroleum products in the world presently, and leave insane toys to the discretion of the insane owners..
        Pareto Rules

    2. Synoia

      The requirement for power plants is water, not cooling. You have it completly wrong.

      The efficiency of a thwemal power plant with evaporative coolers is 31% to 33%. With radiative cooloers 27% to 29%.

      That 4% difference is a big number ($), or a revenue loss of 12% to 15%.

      1. bob

        Agree. They are much more akin to old steam locomotives. Yeah, they need fuel, but they go nowhere without LOTS of water.

        1. F. Beard

          Just as your car needs lots of water to cool it?

          But you’re wrong even from an efficiency standpoint according to this:

          Some locomotives were designed to recycle exhaust steam by condensing it into feed water. The principal benefit of this is conservation of water, but the thermodynamic efficiency of the engine is also increased, since much of the heat otherwise lost in the exhaust is used to preheat water injected into the boiler.[2] In some cases condensing was employed simply to improve visibility by eliminating clouds of exhaust.[2] from

          1. bob

            Beard? Telling me I’m wrong? Without a verse?

            What exactly was I wrong about beardo? A locomotive, or a power plant does not work without water. Full Stop.

            A car is a closed loop system and the water is used for cooling, not power transfer.

            Most steam locomotives were not closed loop, especially in the only country that god has blessed, the good old USA.

            You really don’t understand the thermodynamics or energy transfer within the black box you call either “car”, “locomotive”, or “power plant”.

            Which of these is not like the other?

            A car can move for at least a little while without water. It derives mechanical power from a (sometimes) liquid cooled engine. In the past cars were even designed to be air cooled, requiring no water at all.

            A locomotive, or a power plant requires water to “move the power” from the point of heating it, to the point of using it to perform work.

            Closing that loop is very difficult because of the high temperatures and pressures required to make the heat transfer efficient, with respect to the more costly energy requirement. Water is cheap, doncha know?

            It “could” be done, but would decrease the overall efficiency, and increase the complexity and capital requirements of the “plant” or of the now extinct locomotive.

            Without a massive supply of free or cheap water, the economics of power plants are not feasible at current prices.

            Ever notice they are locatated near large bodies of water?

            “Cooling” for powerplants can refer to any number of discrete functions within the system. There are at least 2 different water loops inside the most simple designs.

            Way over your head beardo….

          2. bob

            Even your hackneyed BOLD is demonstrating my point. Not yours.

            “but the thermodynamic efficiency of the engine is also increased, since much of the heat otherwise lost in the exhaust is used to preheat water injected into the boiler.”

            This is not the description of a closed loop. This is a “loop” that uses some of the waste steam to heat other water, then exhausts it. The steam was still discharged, as steam. If you get rid of “steam” you need more water to replace it.

            If you get rid of all your water, you get no steam. Without steam, you can’t pre-heat your non-existant water.

            Huge amounts of water. Most rail lines were laid out with water being the limiting factor, and his decided where “rail towns” ended up.

      2. F. Beard

        The evaporation of liquid helium would increase the thermal efficiency even more (but not the cost efficiency!) And evaporative cooling with water works not so well in humid environments,no? (I’ve yet to see a swamp cooler in the Southeast.)

        Still, as you admit, even if it costs 15% more, power plants do not absolutely need water.

        And if you followed the link you’d have seen that improvements in radiative cooling are likely to decrease the difference in efficiency between evaporation cooling.

        1. optimader

          1.Need to pick an apples to apples control volume for a valid thermodynamic comparison, include the energy to liquefy the Helium.

          2. Steam locomotives use water to make steam as essentially a consumable once through working fluid (ie pushes the piston and then exhaust at a lower temperature/pressue). Comparing this to a recirculating working fluid scheme which uses a secondary coolant loop is maybe not such a good comparison relative.
          Yes, waste steam from the loco. cylinder exhaust can preheat the water and allows some condensate recovery, QED improving efficiency, but a steam locomotive is a notoriously inefficient consumer of water, even w/ a condensate recuperation scheme it still vents most of the working fluid (water) as waste low pressure steam. Incidentally, the puff puff puff is due to the cylinder steam exhaust piped to the furnace flue which is used to extract combustion products like a venturi -which induces combustion air into the firebox (like a flue fan).
          At a power utility, the waste heat economizer heat xchngr extracts enthalpy from the turbine steam exhaust (low pressure steam) further cooling and condensing it while reheating the cool condensed working fluid before it is converted back to steam in the boiler to spin the turbine again. (as well, from the furnace exhaust in a fossil fuel plant
          3. The automobile engine (recirculating) cooling scheme best illustrates the (least efficient) approach to powerplant coolant loop–dry gas cooling. The radiator is a forced air convective cooler. In the car application, the heat xchngr is relatively very large w/ a big fan and forced air flow, ie plenty of safety factor. Not practical to linearly scale up to a utility powerplant. Consequently a dry gas cooled powerplant is sensitive to deration w/ elevated temp, unfortunately typically coincident w/ the peak power demand (AC).
          5, Most efficient cooling is once through, just adding some enthalpy (heat) to pond, river, lake, sea ect. source of water. Simple efficient but again, a powerplant is subject to deration/shutdown if the coolant water inlet temperature creeps up to the limit of the heat excngr design, (a function of inlet temp, outlet temp, surface area) OR when the water source recedes to a level below the inlet! This happened recently at a nuke plant in the south.

          Bottom line, if a large body of water is not available for once through cooling, engineers prefer evaporative coolers because they are efficient and that 1,000btu/lb latent heat of evaporation of water is tough to beat under any circumstance.

          Using sewage effluent? Short of a power plant in a desert geography, I’m guessing that will be a hard sell when it comes time to reconciling the cost of remediating corrosion, aerosolizing pathogens etc. design issues (water treatment) if there is any possible cooling alternative..

          Again, nothing is free… every scheme has is disadvantageous consequences.

          1. F. Beard

            Well, since thorium reactors should be located near the ocean anyway,to desalinate seawater, then they would be creators, not users, of fresh water even if flow-through cooling were used.

            Anyway, these problems are solvable. Progressives would be wise to attack the root cause of runaway environmental destruction which is the money system.

            1. optimader


              I am 100% on board re: the thorium fuel cycle. I consider it criminal negligence that it is not THE focus of development for utility power generation in this country. Unfortunately it pushes up against the status quo business model for the nuclear power industry as presently defined.

              Monetization of the nuke industry has been based on the longterm O&M (operation /maintained)contracts of the fuel rod assemble is due to the design inefficiency of the presently structured uranium fuel cycle (no breeder reactors allowed). Commercialization of Thorium powered reactors require the profits to be captured at the time of construction of the power plant as the fuel cycle is far more efficient (read: fundamentally less intervention/replacement)

              A the highest level, people tend to grossly underestimate the scale for various potential solutions to satisfy energy demand.
              The most viable energy solution with our present technical expertise is thorium nuclear power, combined with a large investment in a decentralized electrical grid infrastructure that delivers power to electrified light and heavy rail, long distance high speed rail, urban district heating etc etc etc….

              1. F. Beard

                Large scale electric power generation, especially nuclear, is a natural government monopoly so I don’t see why finance should be a problem.

  10. spooz

    An exerpt from Aaron James’ “Assholes: A Theory”,on how cable news has created an entirely new breed of blowhards — and the style has infected banking and even the arts.

    This reminded me of my upcoming vaction with my extended family, where I will be outnumbered by Fox & Drudge followers who will try to pin everything Obama on me because I’m progressive. My voting for him in 2008 will forever paint me as a supporter, and I will spend more time trying to convince them why he is not a socialist than arguing my progressive viewpoints. I am struggling to figure out a way to get my opinion across without raising my blood pressure. Avoidance, walking away or trying to change the subject is probably the only answer.

  11. Susan the other

    Nevada and the eminent domain question to resolve zombie titles. Interesting. Hensarling, the Texas rep. representing the finance industry and also a total obsessive about the future viability of MERS (really) is against eminent domain as a solution for zombie titles and other judicial stalemates. Gee let’s think. … this must mean that eminent domain is actually too fair to homeowners.

  12. diane

    In Memorium:

    07/02/09 Helen Thomas calls Obama administration out on social media smokescreen

    Chip Reid and Helen Thomas gave White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs a four-minute chunk of grief over trying to “control the press” in a way Thomas said was worse than even Richard Nixon.

    Thomas, who has been covering White House press briefings I think since Taft was in office, has had a bit of internet fame due to her part in Stephen Colbert’s epicly awesome GWB send-up during the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in 2006. If you recall, Thomas chased a terrified Colbert around in his fantasy of being the White House Press Secretary, badgering Colbert about the reasons behind invading Iraq.

    Thomas proved that her biting critique showed no partisan leanings yesterday when she and Reid laid into Gibbs for ridiculous executive branch policies that actually use social media to limit and “tightly control” the content of Townhall meetings and press briefings. The debate begins when Gibbs insists that Reid submit questions via Facebook and Twitter to be answered “tomorrow” rather than just opening the forum to on-the-spot questions.

    Gibbs plays dopey, telling Reid to “get on his e-mail address” while Reid tries to explain how refusal to answer questions isn’t open or transparent. Gibbs giggles throughout the exchange in a way that makes you want to slap him, and really only proves the two annoyed reporters right by dancing around answering questions.

    Two minutes in Thomas brings it, saying, “I’m amazed… I’m amazed at you people who call for openness and transparency,” and cites a pattern of “controlling the press.” She tells Gibbs that the Obama administration’s “formal engagements are prepackaged,” and says that “calling reporters the night before, telling them they’re going to be called on- that’s shocking.” When asked if she sent in a question, she goes all grandma-don’t-play-that by snapping, “I don’t have to email it- I can tell you right now!”


    “Why are we still in Afghanistan? And don’t give me any of those Bushisms”

    06/01/10 Helen Thomas Mocks Gibbs Over White House’s Lack Of Condemnation Over Israel’s Act of War

    (Bolding mine. Cupcakes indeed, you Pathetic, Sociopathic Son of Cheney, you are not fit to crawl in her shadow.)

    1. Klassy!

      Thanks for the links, Diane. I see that Helen kept asking “Why”? Of course she was playing the naif, but what was she to do when we kept getting fed the same BS.

      1. diane

        You are so very welcome, ‘Klassy,’ ;0) .

        Helen Thomas put 99.999999999999999999999 percent of those “Journalists” who have survived her (not to mention those asslickers, much, much younger than her), to absolute shame; and it is so sweet, that they actually know it … on some level.

        Fond – and so very warm, comforting and strengthening, memories of her – will live forever.



        1. diane

          did I insanely write “Fond,” …. when the word, Loving – in the now banned: cursive: hand scrawled on papyrus … in the air … on a mirror … in the sand …. in desperation ….. ‘script’ – was the perfect fit? …Do slap me, …. sign of the times…. ;0(

          Rest in Peace, Helen Thomas, you are so very loved.

    2. diane

      Yeah, …. you Monsters, fuck your email, FaceFiend, Twit twits, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum. Answer that cry of desolation and fear, answer to that knock on your door; … at the least, ……. answer that desperate phone call, to your f u c k i n g Land Line, about innocent people losing their lives – either mind numbingly rapidly, in the nanosecond of a ‘mistaken’ drone, or a hideously slow motion – in unspeakable numbers, to an astounding, near unspeakable: Death Cult of Greed and Slaughter, or go directly to the hell you have made a reality.

    3. diane

      Yeah, …. you Monsters, fuck your email, FaceFiend, Twit twits, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum. Answer that cry of desolation and fear, answer to that knock on your door, Face To Face; … at the least, ……. answer that desperate phone call, to your f u c k i n g Land Line, Voice To Voice, about innocent people losing their lives – either mind numbingly rapidly, in the nanosecond of a ‘mistaken’ drone, or a hideously slow motion – in unspeakable numbers, to an astounding, near unspeakable: Death Cult of Greed and Slaughter, or go directly to the hell you have made a reality.

  13. Bruno Marr

    So, Yves, given butthole Kerry’s comments of grounding any plane carrying Snowden anywhere over US and NATO airspace (didn’t know Kerry could usurp NATO airspace unilaterally), do you still think your assessment of Snowden’s predicament is accurate?

    1. optimader

      Who didn’t know that Kerry is a major dickhead would have to be either autistic or a flatliner not to know it now.

      Snowden needes to take a ride on a private oceangoing sailboat or a stinkpot, skip commercial or a high profile flight that require flight plans..Go slow and anonymous

      1. down2long

        Optimader you are so right. And to think I voted for Kerry in 2004. In a way that is so shocking to me, he’s swiftboating himself. Yes, I know he and Obomba are on the same page as neofacscist scum, but really, the unfolding of Kerry’s utter despicaleness these last few months has been breathtaking. Of course, the same can be said of Obeyme – that just took a little longer to unfold.

        Isn’t it grand that in his narcissistic stupor Obomba now compares himself to Trayvon Martin while at the same collaborating with Wall Street in the widespread financial genocide of people of color (and yes, some actual deaths too) – and of course, some of us less fortunate white “folks” too.

        BTW, we all need to get behind Sherrod Brown’s hearing on bank’s controlling the commodities markets on Tuesday morning, and make sure something long term comes of that.

        See the New York Times frontpage article on Goldman’s aluminum corner in today’s issue (probably tomorrow too.) And Mary Schapiro sees no problem with Slimin’ Dimon, and Lloyd “God’s Work” Blankfein controlling 80% of the U.S. copper market. (Of course, she decided this as she was running for the exit at the Debevoise and Covington D.C. subsidiary the SEC, proving her fealty to infamous Promontory as she leaped into their golden arms.)

        Where are the Chinese and their corner on copper when you need someone to bust the U.S. trusts?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m not sure why you think my prior assessment needs revising.

      I said he was first Putin’s hostage, since he needed Putin’s cooperation to get out of the transit zone. I also said Snowden would still have problems given that the US was able to get its stooges, um, allies, to force Morales’ plane to land. I’ve said repeatedly in comments that given that, that the one way some had suggested Snowden might get out, by flying on a commericial plane, would work in practice. Even though commercial planes don’t require government approval, as do official airplanes and passenger planes, to fly over a country’s airspace, they can be forced down if they go off course and aren’t responding to radio calls. If you don’t think the US and its NATO buddies would not make up some pretext to force down a plane if they though Snowden was on it, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

  14. goat_farmers_of_the_CIA

    Lambert, Victor Davis Hanson (the author of the TLS article) is an ignorant fraud. Don’t take my word for it. Take that of the Exiled’s War Nerd:

    Or that of counterpunch’s great Werther:

    Whatever comes out of that guy’s hand is absolutely suspect. One is better off reading amazon reviews on the books he reviewed. It says a lot about how low the TLS has fallen that they would publish such a neo-conservative propagandist.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I thought the books were interesting, and I thought the story was an interesting counterpoint to the link we had on lack of war in pre-state (let’s not say primitive) societies. That said, I did drop a stitch on Hansen’s bio. Guess I’ve got to get the newest edition of Know Your Wingnuts ….

  15. allcoppedout

    A fair review on thorium can be found here:

    Sadly the promises of thorium power were around when I was an undergraduate.The rhetoric is familiar: for a decade then (970), thorium has been repeatedly held up as a cheap, clean way forward for nuclear power. Compared with the uranium-based fuel cycles, thorium produces far smaller amounts of radioactive waste elements – including plutonium, which remains dangerous for tens of thousands of years. I had some clue as I was learning neutron chemistry.

    But the reality is that there’s nothing new about the AHWR, claims that the reactor will be safe enough to build in urban areas simply do not stand up. The reactor will convert thorium to uranium-233, which then splits to produce heat and other elements with short half-lives. If an accident were to occur, this dangerous mix of chemicals could be released into the environment. India’s devotion to thorium is driven more by ideology than science. India’s nuclear road map was laid out by nuclear pioneer Homi Bhabha in 1954. His primary goal was not safe nuclear power but energy independence based on the sheer abundance of thorium in the country – as much as one-quarter of the world’s supply.

    Half a century later, however, the AHWR is the best thing India has to show for its thorium efforts – and it hasn’t even been built yet. This reflects India’s poor record on nuclear power projects: in 1969, the country’s Atomic Energy Commission predicted that India would be producing a total of 43 gigawatts of power by the turn of the new millennium. Today, 4.8 gigawatts come from nuclear, good for just 2.3 per cent of the total output of electricity in the country.

    As Susan says, applied science is a bear. We were told fusion was a decade away in 1970 too. And if getting things to practice from science is a bear, think how long it took us to convert to low consumption light bulbs and get our houses insulated. I’m sure we need change, but we’ve been had in many ways on the energy debate. The real issues need in depth consideration not possible here.

    Now for the details of my perpetual motion machine that will be primed by energy from burning neo-classical economics textbooks…

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