Links 7/22/13

Long Before Trees Overtook the Land, Earth Was Covered by Giant Mushrooms Smithsonian (furzy mouse)

Ultrafine Particle Emissions from Desktop 3D Printers Science Direct

Monsanto virtually gives up on growing GMO crops in Europe Grist. I’m not so sure. They are probably waiting for the horrible EU/US trade deal to give them free rein.

Our Coming Food Crisis New York Times

MI5 Hiring Industrial Espionage IT Support Staff Slashdot

Beijing Airport Bomber Highlights Threat to Social Stability Bloomberg (Lambert)

GlaxoSmithKline says Chinese laws may have been violated Financial Times

Maggie’s ghost: what is haunting Europe Unbalanced Evolution (bankster)

Deutsche Bank set to shrink to achieve leverage target Financial Times. This is a big deal.

“Everywhere Armutlu” PostViral (martha r). On the rebellion in Turkey.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks put in doubt Guardian. I must confess to not really following this, since I was skeptical of the basic premise, but do I have the plot right? The US said talks were starting and both sides are almost immediately blowing them up?

Divisions Widen in Egypt as Muslim Brotherhood Rejects New Cabinet OilPrice

Ex-MI6 boss threatens to expose secrets from Iraq ‘dodgy dossier’ RT News (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

Podcast Show #112: NSA Whistleblower Goes on Record -Reveals New Information & Names Culprits! Boiling Frogs

A legal loophole allows law enforcement to read what’s in the ‘cloud’ without a warrant Washington Post (Deontos)

Fly Edward Snowden Fly! indegogo (Deontos)

America No Longer Has a Functioning Judicial System George Washington

ALEC and the NRA Have Blood on Their Hands TruthOut

An Ominous Alliance: Militiamen Showing Up in Wisconsin as Mining Co. ‘Security’ Crooks & Liars (Lambert)

Detroit not alone under mountain of long-term debt Detroit Free Press

Need a tool? Libraries lending more than books Associated Press

Banks’ influence on raw materials probed Financial Times

The Crisis of Finance Capitalism and the Exhaustion of Neoliberalism TruthOut

In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters New York Times. You must see the interactive graphic. Sobering.

Why Fed Has Failed to Lower U.S. Unemployment Bloomberg

The Existential Strain Morris Berman (Lambert)

Global Rebalancing & the Bancor Pieria

Antidote du jour:


And a bonus: Meet, ‘Ollie,’ the little lamb that could South Widbey Record (John L)

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  1. Ned Ludd

    The link for the article, “Need a tool? Libraries lending more than books”, redirects me to the AP’s landing page for their mobile site.

    This link works if you are on a desktop computer.

      1. Synopticist

        IT’S A BOY !!!!

        Not that I’m bothered of course, nor is anyone else who reads this blog, naturally.

  2. Brindle

    Re: ” ALEC and NRA….”

    The connecting of “Stand Your Ground” to the Zimmerman verdict is mostly a Red herring. I tend to agree with attorneys Jonathan Turley, Jeralyn Merritt (Talk Left) and bmaz (Emptywheel) that basic Self Defense statutes were the reason for the verdict.

    Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald covers most of the bases here:

    —“Even without the 2005 law, would the jurors have been persuaded to consider Zimmerman more of an “aggressor” under the old “duty to retreat” provision? That’s a hypothetical atop a hypothetical.

    And when does that duty to retreat begin?

    Under Zimmerman’s defense, he had no ability to retreat; he was unexpectedly and savagely attacked. Before he was jumped, there was no confrontation and, therefore, no duty to get away from something that hadn’t happened yet.

    But even if Stand Your Ground were not on the books and the aggressor language had been part of the jury instructions and if the jury found Zimmerman was the aggressor, he still could be found not guilty.

    The aggressor statute says a person who provokes a violent confrontation can still use “force which is likely to cause death” if he “reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger.”

    That language and section of that law predates Stand Your Ground.”—

    1. petridish

      This whole discussion has gotten to the beating-a-dead-horse stage at the speed of light. Lines have been drawn and positions taken.

      If it is, in fact, “legal” to attack a person because you’re suspicious of the way he looks and then kill him because he scares you by fighting back, it’s the concept of “legal” that needs to be re-examined.

      This blog is filled daily with accounts of destructive, parasitic and counter-productive activity which is defended and excused as “perfectly legal” by the perpetrators. A country’s laws define that country’s standards of behavior.

      The behavioral standards which this law encourages and defends do not comport, in any way, with the high regard in which we, as Americans, supposedly hold ourselves.

      1. from Mexico

        Should legality trump morality?

        That seems to be what the pro-Zimmerman argument boils down to.

        1. from Mexico

          The argument the defenders of George Zimmerman use is the same argument Adolf Eichmann used in his own defense:

          This is the way things were, this was the new law of the land, based on the Führer’s order; whatever he did he did, as far as he could see, as a law-abiding citizen. He did his duty, as he told the police and the court over and over again; he not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law.

          –HANNAH ARENDT, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

          1. nobody

            from Mexico,

            The notion that “the defenders of George Zimmerman” are using “the same argument Adolf Eichmann used in his own defense” is ridiculous. It is widely accepted that it is both legally and morally permissible to use lethal force in defense of one’s own life under certain circumstances. If I kidnap you and Cynthia, pull out a gun, announce that your lives are over, shoot her in the head, and start to turn toward you, then, in the eyes of the law as well as in the eyes of most people, you are within your rights to shoot me before I can do that.

            I think it is safe to assume that most “defenders of George Zimmerman” believe that his story is at least mostly true. It is a story about being physically assaulted (by a person who happens to turn out to have a recent history of fighting), then beaten and having one’s head bashed repeatedly into concrete by an aggressor who is on top of you, then being told by the aggressor that you’re going to die tonight as he reaches for the gun you are legally allowed to be carrying.

            In your response to Brindle it is telling that you ignore the reference to Jonathan Turley, Jeralyn Merritt (Talk Left) and bmaz (Emptywheel), and speak only about the Miami Herald article. Turley says that:

            “[T]he common law does not impose a duty to retreat. It preexisted the SYG law in most states. If it didn’t, hundreds of thousands of cases of self-defense would have had different results after people defended themselves rather than flee. Indeed, this is a point that I often made in opposing these laws: you already have the right to defend yourself and not to retreat. There are slight difference in the jury instruction among the states, including Florida, but the Zimmerman instructions reflected the general common law standard for self-defense and the justified use of force… This has been a rule either through statute or common law for a long time.”


            “Moreover, the jury verdict seemed to reflect its view of the fact in relation to the main charge of the instructions (a standard charge) on self defense that a defendant is ‘justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.’ That is a standard that is used in the same basic form by all states that I know of.

            “This case turns on classic self-defense.”


            bmaz has “read most all of the state’s discovery including that of the initial investigation” and finds that “the real facts of this case are quite far different than most people think.” I haven’t looked at as much, but I have explored enough to see that this assertion is true. bmaz finds that:

            “[T]here has NEVER been a good factual rebuttal to George Zimmerman’s own account of self defense. You know why? Because there IS NOT any compelling rebuttal within the facts as adduced in the investigation and entered in the record at trial. And the presumption of innocence and burden of proof in the American criminal justice system still mean something.”


            “[T]his case is not now, and NEVER has been, about what has been pitched and portrayed in the media. Never. It is not about racial prejudice and profiling…and it is not about murder. It is about a tragic and unnecessary death, but one that is not a felony crime, despite all the sturm and drang.

            “State of Florida v. Zimmerman is a straight up traditional self defense case. It has never been pled as a Stand Your Ground defense case, irrespective of all the press coverage, attention and attribution to Stand Your Ground. It’s never been Stand Your Ground, and certainly is not now that the evidence is all in on the trial record. It is a straight self defense justification defense, one that would be pretty much the same under the law of any state in the union including that which you are in, and that I am in, now (so don’t blame ‘Florida law’).

            “There is nothing whatsoever unique in the self defense posture that has been effected in this case. Nothing. And it is, whether it is comfortable or not, a compelling self defense case.”


            1. from Mexico

              nobody said:

              If I kidnap you and Cynthia, pull out a gun, announce that your lives are over, shoot her in the head, and start to turn toward you, then, in the eyes of the law as well as in the eyes of most people, you are within your rights to shoot me before I can do that.

              Well I gotta give you one thing, nobody, you surely do have an active imagination.

              Did Trayvon “pull out a gun”?

              Did Trayvon “announce that Zimmerman’s life was over”?

              Did Trayvon “shoot her in the head, and start to turn toward Zimmerman”?

              Even if Zimmerman’s version of the events were true, I doubt that Trayvon’s bare fists represented “a lethal weapon.”

              It’s these wild imaginings, which have completely come unglued from reality, conflating them to getting into a tussle with some 17 year-old kid, and then using this false equivalence as justification to pull out a gun and summarily execute him, that makes these pro-Zimmerman arguments so intellectually and morally grotesque.

              1. nobody

                No, there are no “wild imaginings” or “false equivalence[s].” I created an alternative example where self-defense is exceptionally clear. As Hannah Arendt says in On Violence, “No one questions the use of violence in self-defense, because the danger is not only clear but also present, and the end justifying the means is immediate.” And: “to use a gun in self-defense is not ‘irrational’.”

                “Did Trayvon ‘pull out a gun’?”

                If George’s account is true, Trayvon was reaching for the gun, which amounts to something similar.

                “Did Trayvon ‘announce that Zimmerman’s life was over’?”

                If George’s account is true, yes, pretty much.

                “Even if Zimmerman’s version of the events were true, I doubt that Trayvon’s bare fists represented ‘a lethal weapon’.”

                First of all, people have died from single punches. Secondly, you have already referenced the part of Zimmerman’s version about Martin reaching for the gun. If Zimmerman’s version of events is true, Martin bashed his head into concrete several times (which can easily be fatal even if there are no visible wounds, which there were), then saw the gun and said “You’re going to die tonight” and started reaching for the gun.

                “…getting into a tussle with some 17 year-old kid…”

                If Zimmerman’s account is true, it’s not a story about “getting into a tussle.” It’s a story of being assaulted and battered by a person who was considerably taller, with a longer reach, in better shape, undoubtedly faster, with recent fighting experience, of the same age as no small number of WWII vets who lied about their age to get into the army.

                “…to pull out a gun and summarily execute him…”

                If Zimmerman’s account is true, this characterization is false. You are suggesting that Zimmerman’s defenders think this was a summary execution and are OK with that, and are comparing this to Eichmann. That’s really absurd. Generally speaking, Zimmerman’s defenders believe his account, and if his account is true, then this is a very clear-cut case of self-defense, and Zimmerman is not just not guilty — he is innocent.

                1. from Mexico

                  nobody said:

                  First of all, people have died from single punches.

                  Yea right. Maybe a punch from a professional boxer, or someone professionally trained in the martial arts. But some 17 year-old kid? Give me a fucking break. This is the sort of outlandish exaggeration that Zimmerman’s defenders must resort to make the case that he was “justified in using deadly force” because “he reasonably believe[d] that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.”

                  nobody said:

                  You are suggesting that Zimmerman’s defenders think this was a summary execution and are OK with that, and are comparing this to Eichmann.

                  That’s not what I said at all. What I said is that, according to Florida law, and the instructions a reactionary, law and order judge gave the jury, what Zimmerman did was “legal.” And the defenders of Zimmerman argue that because it is “legal,” that makes the decision morally defensible. And that, my friend, is the exact same argument Eichmann invoked: that because what he did was legal, that also made it morally defensible.

                  1. nobody

                    “I’m talking about endemic racism in the criminal justice system.”

                    You seem to have assumed that this case is an example of the endemic racism in the criminal justice system, based in part on a number of assumptions about the case that are just factually wrong. We don’t know what happened. But a lot of what you think happened, didn’t. The mere fact that this issue has become so divisive and yet in some domains opinion is so nearly uniform ought to give pause for thought.

                    “For the law and order types like this Judge Debra Nelson, it’s hang ‘em high, that is until it comes to someone who has commits a crime against a gay or black person. Then they pull out all the stops to make sure they go free.”

                    According to a lot of the informed commentary I have read, it wouldn’t have mattered much who the judge was or which of the American states this happened in. Classical basic self-defense long established in the common law tradition.

                    “I’m talking about endemic racism in the criminal justice system.”

                    Those few who are sufficiently aware of, and care about, how pervasive and how bad endemic racism in the American criminal justice system actually is, ought to be particularly scrupulous in being fair, rational, and accurate in addressing public issues that have become inflamed around this area.

                    I don’t know what’s true and what isn’t about this case. But I know that a lot of what you and almost everybody else I know THINKS they know is true, often isn’t. And vice versa.

      2. nobody

        Where do you get the idea that this is a story about a person “attack[ing] a person because [he’s] suspicious of the way he looks and then [killing] him because he scares you by fighting back”?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Because that is a good summary of what ZIMMERMAN basically said happened. And that’s giving Zimmerman credit for telling the truth about Martin fighting back, when that could well be a totally made up crock of shit to save his hide. Zimmerman showed no sign of meaningful injury, had Martin had no Zimmerman DNA on him, and the recording was ambiguous.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Yes. The commenter overstates. There were two witnesses. One is dead. Reasonable doubt enters.

        A lawyer friend of mine would have gone with a manslaughter charge — if the goal is an almost certain conviction. Remember that three of the six jurors went in to the jury room wanting to convict Zimmerman of something. But the prosecution didn’t give them that option, especially given the judge’s charge to the jury.

        * * *

        All not to avoid the massive suckitude of replacing “duty to retreat” with “stand your ground” in public places, especiallly when stand your ground kicks in when you feel (as opposed to are) threatened — open season for racists, basically.

        Maybe make the self-defense threshold higher, too. A life for a punch (even assuming that was what was going on) seems excessive.

        1. nobody

          If your lawyer friend thinks that the evidence supported “almost certain conviction” for anything, it’s probable that he or she never explored the actual state of the evidence.

          The fact that as of a few days ago you believed that Zimmerman had disobeyed an order not to follow, and that you are now characterizing the matter as “[a] life for a punch (even assuming that was what was going on),” shows that you are misconceiving the state of affairs.

          We can’t know what really happened, but the broad outlines of Zimmerman’s account are both credible and supported by physical evidence and witness testimony. More importantly, there is a lack of physical evidence and witness testimony capable of establishing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Zimmerman’s account is false.

          It’s a story of a man who was doing nothing illegal and who was at a place he had the right to be when he was physically assaulted, ending up on the ground underneath the attacker, and then having his head bashed repeatedly into concrete. On his account he was unable to escape from a position of being controlled by his attacker, had no avenue for escape, and was in a situation of reasonably fearing imminent death and/or grave bodily harm. And then, according to his account, his jacket got pushed up and his gun became visible. He said he felt that Martin had seen his gun, he said that Martin said “you’re going to die tonight motherfucker,” and was bringing his arm down and reaching for the gun.

          The theory presented by the defense was a classic, traditional case of simple self-defense. From the commentary I’ve read, the legal situation would be pretty much the same in every other state, with the possible exception of Ohio.

          A big part of what has happened here is that a sleazy lawyer working with a slick PR firm manufactured a story of racial profiling by a racist vigilante hunting down and killing a child in cold blood, and a grossly irresponsible media propagated that story, in part on the basis of a doctored recording of a phone call.

          Even if Zimmerman is lying about crucial parts of his story, and even if it were to turn out that he would be criminally culpable were all the facts known and supported by the evidence, it’s almost certain that none of the central parts of the crafted-for-TV story are true.

        2. Propertius

          Not quite, Lambert. Jonathan Goode, who made the 911 call reporting the altercation, was an eyewitness to the events immediately preceding the shooting. He was on the phone when the shot was fired and therefore did not see the shooting, but his testimony about the fight itself (Martin on top, pounding an immobilized Zimmerman into the concrete) supported the defense’s version of events – as did the ballistics evidence and the testimony of EMS personnel who treated Zimmerman at the scene.

          1. from Mexico

            ~~~Propertius said:

            …but his testimony about the fight itself (Martin on top, pounding an immobilized Zimmerman into the concrete)supported the defense’s version of events

            That is not true.

            For those interested in what John Good actually testified, it is available on Youtube. The testimony which is germane begins at about minute 18:00


            ~~~Propertius said:

            – as did the ballistics evidence [support the defense’s version of events]

            That is Propertius’s version of the truth, portrayed as self-evident and beyond dispute.

            Actually, the forensic evidence did little to establish the facts or clear up uncertainty. It did show that the shot that killed Martin was a contact shot, but little else. Martin’s DNA was not found on the weapon, which would have confirmed Zimmerman’s story that Martin had reached for and touched the gun. Also, Zimmerman’s DNA was not found on Martin’s clothes, which also would have bolstered the defense case:


    2. Cynthia

      This is all coming dangerously close to what Trayvon Martin supporters are accusing George Zimmerman of, that is supporting a nation ruled by men and sentiment rather than a nation of laws. Those who support the rule of law on one side, and those who support Martin for, to use an MLK phrase, “the color of his skin”, and ignore what he did. What’s going to happen to the country when we can’t pay our bills and we have a President who encourages people to hunker down in separate groups, which by its nature pits one side against another. Obama is promoting group identity over national identity and the rule of law. Talk about “otherizing”!

      And when Obama said he could be Trayvon, did it occur to anyone else that Obama is as white as Zimmerman?

        1. Propertius

          Well, it has cetainly managed to take everyone’s mind off the drone strikes. Mission accomplished!

      1. from Mexico

        Cynthia says:

        Those who support the rule of law on one side, and those who support Martin for, to use an MLK phrase, “the color of his skin”, and ignore what he did.

        You gotta love it when reactionaries start quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King.

        So tell us, Cynthia, just what exactly is it that Trayvon “did”?

        And by the way, Cynthia, you seem to be confusing the principles of King with those of Richard Nixon:

        RICHARD NIXON: The deterioration of respect for law and order can be traced directly to the spread of the corrosive doctrine that every citizen possesses an inherent right to decide for himself which laws to obey and when to obey them.
        –RICHARD NIXON, “If mob rule takes hold in the US: a warning from Richard Nixon,” U.S. News and World Report , August 15, 1966

        Nixon was taking dead aim at Martin Luther King, who in his essay, “Love, law, and civil disobedience” explained that the Civil Rights Movement

        says that it is as much a moral obligation to refuse to cooperate with evil as it is to cooperate with good. Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as the cooperation with good. So that the student movement is willing to stand up courageously on the idea of civil disobedience. And it is probably misunderstood more than anything else. And it is a difficult aspect, because on the one hand the students would say, and I would say, and all the people who believe in civil rights would say, obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 and at the same time, we would disobey certain laws that exist on the statutes of the South today.
        This brings in the whole question of how can you be logically consistent when you advocate obeying some laws and disobeying other laws. Well, I think one would have to see that the students recognize that there are two types of laws. There are just laws and there are unjust laws. And they would be the first to say obey the just laws, they would be the first to say that men and women have a moral obligation to obey just and right laws. And they would go on to say that we must see that there are unjust laws.

      2. from Mexico

        @ Cynthia

        And talking about taking reality and turning on its head, this zinger takes the cake:

        …we have a President who encourages people to hunker down in separate groups, which by its nature pits one side against another. Obama is promoting group identity over national identity…

        For anyone who believes Obama’s effect has been to energize black self-interest advocacy, as opposed to disemboweling it, or that he hasn’t played the nationalism, jingoism and chauvinism card to the hilt, I have a nice piece of oceanfront property in Arizona I’m sure would interest you.

      3. from Mexico

        Cynthia says:

        And when Obama said he could be Trayvon, did it occur to anyone else that Obama is as white as Zimmerman?

        This is the only thing you got right.

        Obama is what the poor and working-class Hispanics I knew who lived on the west and south sides of San Antonio called a “coconut” — “brown on the outside and white on the inside.”

        1. Cynthia

          Judicial decisions, especially ones involving murder, should never, ever be based on politics, especially racial politics. Period.

          That’s why Obama should have never made a sympathetic statement about Trayvon Martin regarding the Zimmerman verdict. But since he did, in order to show that he is a fair and unbiased leader when it comes to race, he needs to make a sympathetic statement about a white kid who was murdered by a black man who received a not-guilty verdict.

          And if Obama tries to say that he doesn’t know of any black-on-white murder cases that resulted in a not-guilty verdict, he can’t, unless he wants to get caught tell an obvious lie. There are plenty of such cases he can find and read about on the internet.

          1. from Mexico

            Cynthia says:

            Judicial decisions, especially ones involving murder, should never, ever be based on politics, especially racial politics. Period.

            The myth that the judiciary exists in some bubble insulated from politics has about as much basis in fact or in reality as the myth that economcis is insulated from politics:

            Writing two generations later, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in The Common Law, paid tribute to Shaw — he is one of the very few judges Holmes mentions at all and the only one he calls “great,” quoting with approval Benajmin Curtis’s view that he was “the greatest magistrate which this country has produced.” Holmes spoke generally,not of this case, but he added: “the strength of that great judge lay in an accuate appreciaiton of the requirments of the community whose officer he was…. [F]ew have lived who were his equals in their understanding of the grounds of public policy to which all laws must ultimately be referred.”

            –JOHN T. NOONAN, JR., “Quota of Imps”

          2. jrs

            You know I was actually with you’re reasoning for awhile (never mind if people are ganging up on you), but this is just silly: “since he did, in order to show that he is a fair and unbiased leader when it comes to race, he needs to make a sympathetic statement about a white kid who was murdered by a black man who received a not-guilty verdict.” Because two wrongs make a right … I agree he should not be making any statements at all. But then at this point I expect nothing good out of Obama whatsoever.

    3. from Mexico

      I hate to tell you this, Brindle, but that Miami Herald article you linked, although it attempts to create the perception of being objective and even-handed, is nothing more than NRA/ALEC propaganda.

      Just take the original framing of the debate: “the argument over Trayvon’s shooting and Zimmerman’s verdict is public and largely politically partisan.” But having said that, the writer doesn’t let it rest. We’re tipped off to the importance the writer, Marc Caputo, lends to this precept because he says it not once, but twice: “The argument over what the jury felt and how the law applied will be at the crux of the political debate.”

      So what is Caputo doing here? What he is doing is trivializing the debate, casting it as one of pure partisanship and not one of more profound moral principles.

      Having done this, Caputo then once more attempts to trivialize the debate by making it about law and legalisms and not about morality. Instead of talking about the spirit of the law, Caputo asserts “we have solid evidence,” which is “the letter of the law.”

      But Caputo can’t even get his story straight on this debauched level. And even though he doesn’t resort to the telling of outright lies, distortions and half-truths become part of his rhetorical arsenal when he goes on to state:

      Even without the 2005 law, would the jurors have been persuaded to consider Zimmerman more of an “aggressor” under the old “duty to retreat” provision?


      But even if Stand Your Ground were not on the books and the aggressor language had been part of the jury instructions and if the jury found Zimmerman was the aggressor, he still could be found not guilty.

      The aggressor statute says a person who provokes a violent confrontation can still use “force which is likely to cause death” if he “reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger.”

      That language and section of that law predates Stand Your Ground.

      The general “use of force in defense of person” law found in 776.012 has nearly identical self-defense language. And it, too, predates Stand Your Ground (which is sandwiched between the predating statutes at 776.013).

      I knew that the 2005 Stand Your Ground law didn’t just suddenly appear out of nowhere, that the NRA had begun its campaign to change the laws back in the 1960s:

      It was another wild debasement of existing law, this one dating back to a distinctly American iteration of English common law called “castle doctrine,” where the original duty to retreat was rejected and you had the right to use deadly force if your castle, i.e., dwelling, was invaded, though there were subtle differences state by state. But the gun lobby got cracking in the 1960s and expanded the law to include your lawn and backyard, then, a couple of decades later, your car, as well. Now, with Stand Your Ground, your castle was your person and your right to use deadly force traveled with you.

      Read more:

      And sure enough, if one does a web search what one finds is that 776.012, even though it is not part of the 2005 “Stand Your Ground” law, is nevertheless touted by the pro-SYG forces as a legislative victory and as being part and parcel of the SYG suite of laws. To wit, from the Self Defense website:

      Florida Statutes 776.013, 776.012 (adopting the “Stand Your Ground” law written by the N.R.A., and since 2005, adopted by 30-odd other states), the Florida Supreme Court has so horribly written the standard self-defense jury instructions (SD-JI) as to deprive all defendants of a fair trial.

      And on’s website, two of the NRA’s legislative triumphs — 776.013 and 776.012 – are displayed front and center:

      1. Lambert Strether

        Caputo writes:

        Unlike most court cases, the argument over Trayvon’s shooting and Zimmerman’s verdict is public and largely politically partisan.

        You summararize:

        So what is Caputo doing here? What he is doing is trivializing the debate, casting it as one of pure partisanship and not one of more profound moral principles.

        Obviously “purely” (100%) “partisan” isn’t the same as “largely” (<100%) "partisan." Just saying.

      2. Calgacus

        Key Mistakes Sway Jury in Zimmerman Trial is a different take from Caputo.

        I wonder how many people here have been in the situation of having been pounded into pavement? It is a lot harder – on the pounders – than many seem to think. Two muggers, about the same size as I am, once tried to do this to me. They tired themselves doing it, and I was able to slowly move all three of us into the street, stopping traffic, and they fled.

        1. from Mexico

          Thanks for the link.

          It’s pretty obvious that the police and the prosecution in the case dealt with racism as the cavalry generals of 1914 dealt with the machine gun — by ignoring it. This became more than clear in this interview of Angela Corey, the State Attorney in Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court:

          ANDERSON COOPER: You don’t believe in our justice system there are inherent biases…?

          ANGELA COREY: We don’t see that the way you are portraying it… Jurors tend to listen to the evidence and vote on that evidence… You always base your decision to charge on the evidence and the law. This was a case about the law, and we knew it was a tough case. It hinged on justifiable use of deadly force, and quite frankly whether a person is white or black, male or female, when there is any arguable claim of justifiable use of deadly force, there is not an immediate arrest because we don’t want to start a speedy trial. That is a legal concept. It has nothing to do with race.

          As to the judge, I think just about everyone agrees she was marched in lockstep with the NRA position from the get go, all the way from her rulings on jury selection to her instructions to the jury. Corey points to that conclusion, as does even Caputo. With someone as reactionary as her sitting on the bench, the acquittal was all but a foregone conclusion.

          1. davidgmills

            As an attorney (for 35 years — civil trial law and very little criminal trial law) I do not listen or watch TV trials. For one thing it is very dificult to know exactly what the jury heard and to put out of your mind everything that was reported that the jury did not hear. So I never second guess juries.

            But I will also say this, because I have faced this problem many times in civil cases: not having a strong witness to testify on your side is a tremendous detriment. The best witness for Travon Martin is dead and that leaves no one to tell his side of the matter. So reasonable doubt is a very hard burden on the state to overcome when its best witness is dead.

            You may think that is immoral. You may think that reasonable doubt is a license to kill when two people are by themselves. But reasonable doubt has been the standard in criminal cases since the founding of this country. It is a good thing for minorities that the burden is so high in that they are the ones disproportionally accused.

            What criminal standard would you want? Clear and convincing evidence? Preponderance of the evidence?

            1. davidgmills

              One more thing. A unanimous verdict is required in criminal cases. It is harder to get twelve people to be unanimous than it is to get six and the prosecution could not even get six. (This was the first time I have ever heard of a six person jury in a murder case by the way). The prosecution had the advantage of a six person jury and couldn’t come close to a conviction.

              Just goes to show what not having a strong witness to testify does to a case.

              1. davidgmills

                And one last thing. What the Zimmerman case shows is the real immorality of the criminal justice system — that if you have a enough money or if your case is one where there is enough noteriety, you can virtually buy reasonable doubt with a really good legal team.

                If every criminal defendant had a really good legal team that spared no expense in handling the case, our prisons might be near empty. Instead, we are the most incarcerated country in the world.

            2. from Mexico

              I’m sorry, davidgmills, but you add nothing to the debate.

              You begin by noting that you didn’t even follow the case, and then proceed by making broad, sweeping judgments that have no other purpose than to exculpate an incompetent prosecution team and a reactionary, right-wing judge.

              If black activists wanted to make a difference, they ought to demand this judges’ head on a platter. She shouldn’t be a dog catcher, much less a judge.

              1. davidgmills

                If you think I add nothing to the debate then you are clueless as to what the debate is about. It always pisses me off when someone who is not a lawyer and who has never spent ten minutes learning law thinks he knows what the law should be.

                Get some legal education before you just spout off shit you know nothing about.

                1. from Mexico

                  Nice try, davidgmills, but you’re not going to blow smoke up my ass.

                  I spent years in the trenches as a gay activist fighting biased, homophobic judges and prosecutors, so I’ve a little bit more experience in this arena than you give me credit for. I’ve heard all your vapid, exculpatory arguments — such as the homosexual panic defense — that Texas judges and prosecutors accepted for decades, and encouraged juries to accept, in order to exonerate those who murdered gay men.

                  So let me assure you, I’ve been up against opponents far more formidable than you.

                  1. Bachlan Pho

                    Doesn’t this verify what we read about abhorent public defenders sleeping over the poorest of defendants? It also jives with what Greenwald has written about the ‘system’. When Jurgis lost his house and punched his boss, he could have been in 2013 as much as 1906. No where near as well read as you Mejico, so I pulled out the Upton.

                    ” that if you have a enough money … you can virtually buy reasonable doubt with a really good legal team”

          2. nobody

            “It’s pretty obvious that the police and the prosecution in the case dealt with racism as the cavalry generals of 1914 dealt with the machine gun…”

            There wasn’t any evident “racism” to be dealt with. There was a phone call to a police dispatcher that focused on a combination of behavior and context. Neither race nor attire were mentioned other than in response to direct questions — and it would seem that Zimmerman was not even sure yet about which racial category applied to the person he was calling about when he was first asked. This call was doctored in a way that made it sound quite different than it was, in a way rather similar to how Andrew Breitbart made Shirley Sherrod look like a racist.

            1. from Mexico


              I’m talking about endemic racism in the criminal justice system.

              For the law and order types like this Judge Debra Nelson, it’s hang ’em high, that is until it comes to someone who has commits a crime against a gay or black person. Then they pull out all the stops to make sure they go free.

      1. DP

        That is a golden retriever puppy, I would guess around 3 months old based on the size. They are gorgeous puppies. I am on my 3rd golden, a 2 year old male. When mine were puppies virtually anybody coming from the opposite direction had to stop and greet them. Properly socialized, they love everybody and everything including cats.

        1. F. Beard

          Ha! I was going to say “Golden Retriever” and then I was just going to say “some kind of puppy.” It never occurred to me to combine the two!

          Two early, I guess, though it shouldn’t be.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          Sure looks like a Maremma Sheepdog to me. My father’s tobacco farming neighbor in Tuscany had two puppies my father was watching while the farmer was on vacation and they were unbearably cute.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Whatever breed, the dog is saying, I don’t want Larry Summers to run no dog pound! He’s not qualified! And I don’t want to be treated like some dog meat.

        Whoever suggested that, what did he think we dogs are?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Would he have made a good president in a pluralistic, multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy?

      1. F. Beard

        How many of those other faiths put a man on the Moon?

        And though one God is extremely improbable (but inevitable given infinite time) two or more would be statistically impossible in the same time frame as the Bible covers.

        “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.’ Isaiah 44:6

        ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’ Isaiah 44:8

        Also this: Elijah and the prophets of Baal

          1. F. Beard

            Of course. This mess will not be allowed to continue forever. There are good people suffering.

  3. petridish

    RE: GlaxoSmithKline in China

    From the article:

    “In a nod to the Chinese government’s concerns about soaring healthcare costs, Mr Hussain pledged that GSK would reduce drug prices in China by making changes to its operating model that would lower costs.”

    There now America, you see how easy it is?

  4. diptherio

    While hanging with a friend yesterday, I happened to see a commercial for this website flicker across the boob tube. Maybe this is old news for ya’ll, but I for one was appalled.

    On-line K-12 ‘education’

    My gawd…it just keeps getting worse. First it was increased class-sizes, then charter schools and Teach for America interns…now they’re just trying to get rid of teachers entirely, to be replaced by your home computer.

    The only parents I can see going along with this are those in the inner-cities where school (and getting there and back) can be dangerous activities.


    1. YankeeFrank

      The “inner cities” are not nearly so dangerous as you are suggesting. There is a lot of hysteria in the USA, from drugs like crystal meth to inner city violence. The dangers are almost totally overblown. Fear seems to rule the people. Just look at the fear of terrorism: the odds of being hurt in a terrorist attack are almost nil.

      Especially nowadays, violence is dropping all over, and even in Chicago where things are pretty crazy now, your chances of being in or near a violent altercation are extremely low. You are much more likely to get hurt driving a car.

      1. Klassy!

        How often are you in what I assume the original commenter meant by the inner city– I mean the really isolated, cut- off- from- the- mainstream inner city?

      2. from Mexico

        More Fear, Less Crime, Fear of Minority Crime

        Despite sharp declines in youth crime, the public expresses great fear of its own young people. Although violent crime by youth in 1998 was at its lowest point in the 25-year history of the National Crime Victimization Survey, 62% of poll respondents felt that juvenile crime was on the increase. In the 1998/99 school year, there was less than a one-in-two million chance of being killed in a school in America, yet 71% of respondents to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll felt that a school shooting was likely in their community. Despite a 40% decline in school associated violent deaths between 1998 and 1999 and declines in other areas of youth violence, respondents to a USA Today poll were 49% more likely to express fear of their schools in 1999 than in 1998.

        This response is not simply an artifact of highly publicized school shootings. A 1996 CBS/New York Times poll, taken prior to any of the highly publicized school shootings, showed that 84% of respondents believed juvenile crime was on the increase. In a 1996 California poll, 60% of respondents reported believing that juveniles were responsible for most violent crime, when youths were actually responsible for about 13% of violent crime that year.

        In an environment in which fear of youth crime and actual crime are so out of sync, policies affecting young people are bound to be influenced.


        At the same time as Americans are fearful of youth crime, they are more likely to exaggerate the threat of victimization by minorities. Twice as many White Americans believe they are more likely to be victimized by a minority than a White, despite the fact that Whites are actually three times more likely to be victimized by Whites than by minorities.


        1. from Mexico

          The Power of Nightmares, anyone?

          Part one of the documentary can be seen here:

          In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares. The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither are these nightmares. In a new series, the Power of Nightmares explores how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion. It is a myth that has spread unquestioned through politics, the security services and the international media.

      3. diptherio

        YF, admittedly, I am a hick with no experience of inner-city life. My comment on who this might be pitched to comes solely from my having listened to a This American Life episode a few months ago about an inner city Chicago school.

        Maybe it’s not all that bad (the media has been known to exaggerate from time to time), but I can’t think of who else might even consider on-line primary school education for their kids.

        1. Klassy!

          The problem is, many that dismiss the safety concerns of residents of “inner city” neighborhoods, never ever venture into one. Just because you live in the central city does not mean that you have any experience in neighborhoods that are truly disconnected from the mainstream. That is why I questioned Yankeefrank.

          1. Klassy!

            And yes, there are parents that live in these neighborhoods that don’t want their children outside. No need to deny reality.

      4. subgenius

        I live in “inner city” LA – east of downtown – and have never had a problem despite leaving my door unlocked most the time. We did have a shooting in my back yard about 14 months ago that resulted in 1 death, but that was “imported” from elsewhere.

        Here is a compare and contrast:

        Walking the night-time streets in Santa Monica I have been hit by a ___t in a brand new AMG, who failed to stop, and I couldn’t give any more description of than “black merc 500 amg, no plates” (of which there are ~10,000,000 on the Westside….which raises an aside: WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU ALLOWED TO DRIVE A CAR WITH NO ID????).

        Walking in the “hood” late at night… in the past year on at least 3 occasions I have been given cervesas by people who I can’t even converse with (I suck at non-english).

        Scared? The self-reliant mythical American? oh yes are they ever…

        1. Klassy!

          What are we talking here? Do you businesses on your main strip besides a few fast food franchises and some social service agenciesIs every third or fourth house boarded up?

          1. Klassy!

            correction– do businesses on your main strip consist only of a few fast food franchises, some social service agencies, and more than half empty storefronts. When you get off the main strip is every third or fourth house boarded up?

            1. subgenius

              not so many derelict & unlived-in places of residence…more the opposite…multiple occupancy of small units in bad states of repair abound. As for food and businesses, yeah, like that. The hood around here is predominantly hispanic, with a pretty high percentage of asians at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Few other caucasians and very few african-american. Luckily we are outside the hardcore gang zones. Just.

    2. ohmyheck

      As a parent, I can tell you that it will be over our collective dead bodies that our students will stay at home en masse to receive their education.

      Each and every day that our beloved offspring leave for school, there is a collective parental sigh of relief.

      Our offspring are usually just as happy to engage in some kind of social life that school offers, sans parents.

      If one choses to home-school, that should be a perfectly legal option. Here in Utah, in 1980, a man was shot in the back and killed for telling law enforcement he would continue to home-school his LDS children and to get off his property. At least those days are gone….

  5. Inverness

    Re: Berman. As someone who has lived in the USA, I always enjoy Morris Berman, the expatriate who clarifies why he left. But I am haunted by fellow NC’ers like Patricia and Banger who call out his elitism/lack of empathy.

    Berman suggests that there are those incapable of reading Yeats, who also tend to be materialistic collector of toys. Of course there is rampant consumerism in the US, but to suggest there are people who cannot read Yeats is unfair. Reading some poems requires guidance and exposure, not necessarily intellectual prowess. Any serious teacher of literature knows that. I have an Irish plumber/electrician friends who recite Yeats — not because they went to university, but I’m guessing because that’s a cultural trait.

    Finally, his argument suggests that sufficient exposure to the humanities prevents people from becoming vile. Really? There are an awful lot of people with rich backgrounds in the humanities who behave(d) quite inhumanely: Josef Goebbels (doctorate in Germanistik), Condeleeza Rice (speaks Russian and French, plays classical piano), Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, etc

    1. Patricia

      Yah, in this post, Bermnan has learned something. Good for everyone! But the comments underneath merely continued the condescension drip, of which some were his: “Existential strain = rage, pain, and spiritual emptiness. This may actually be a greater factor in the American downfall than American stupidity.”

      And: “Yes, dolts and violence tend to go together, precisely because of the existential strain issue. This might suggest an asterisk to our favorite post-it, I Am Surrounded By Dolts. Ftnote shd read: Who are inevitably hurting and angry….This is the norm, because most Americans simply can’t cut it on a human or spiritual level, and they are vaguely aware of this. So if they find u rdg a serious bk or listening to Bach or discover that u don’t own a cell fone, their self-betrayal (existential strain) comes flying out, and it ain’t pretty. The whole thing is very sad…”

      And: “Whom can anyone with even a slight insight into reality, into life, talk to in the US, really? 315 million people living lives of bad faith, existential strain, short fuses, and who are depressed as hell w/o realizing it.”

      As you say, intelligence doesn’t erase vileness. Nor does education and culture guarantee wisdom.

      Plus, it is always a mistake to define the character of a group by the worst members therein. Some among us have been doing that to the Mid-East for years, to terrible effect.

      1. Inverness

        Something else comes to mind, from the French author Michel Houellebecq, in his novel Plateforme. His anti-hero is a well-educated man who works as a cultural administrator. A bright individual, who nevertheless laments that he would be useless in the Soviet Union, where you had to be able to do…something, like how to weld steel, fix clogged toilets, or what have you. He also dabbled in sex tourism, which also calls into question how ethically sound are western elites are. Houllebecq is a fearless writer, not afraid to go there.

        Now, there were no doubt plenty of useless elites/apparatchiks in the former Soviet Union, but I still appreciate his point. In the USA, we have destroyed the essential trades to the point where being highly useful to society (those plumbers, nurses aides, electricians, farmers) are afforded little dignity and good work. Vocational schools are considered dumping grounds for weak students.

        A worthwhile society would value not only intellectuals, but also workers. But since that doesn’t happen in the USA, there is this false dichotomy created. There are the smart, right people who read the New Yorker and listen to Ira Glass, and the dumb, useless masses, who can’t understand Shakespeare (bullshit, obviously — the guy was pandering to the masses!) and just want their guns. Where is the nuance?

        I had a humbling conversation with my father, who has an 8th grade education. He doesn’t read Yeats, but left school to farm, raise goats, and learn construction, and mastered English with no formal training. I would be useless in a flood (there will be more, thanks to global warming), but pretty good in a classroom setting. There’s room for all of us, but we need to reach out more.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We can all be fearless writers if we just believe in ourselves and look at things as they are.

          As for plumbers and repairmen in general, they are the noblest – they repair so you don’t have to buy, don’t have to consume more, thus less demanding of Nature.


          Repairmen = Nobility.

          Every mother and father could only pray fervently that their children grow up to be repairmen.

          1. Patricia

            I’ve been telling my daughter for years that she should become a plumber. Instead, she’s decided to become a hydrologist. More schooling! What’s wrong with kids these days?

            But you’re right, if she’d write instead (avoiding only a few subjects such as angst and existence) she’d have more fun. And no debt!

            I’ll let her know. I’m sure she’ll listen.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              She should be on her way to happiness.

              Hopefully she hasn’t read too much, as in irreparably, on angst.

              1. Patricia

                Of course she doesn’t read!

                The angst is all in her own head ex nihilo.

                Pen to paper and whoosh, tabula rasa reborn.

                Isn’t that how it always goes?

          2. F. Beard

            if we just believe in ourselves beefy

            He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Only the arrogant think they are not fools.

                  Those who are humble think otherwise.

            1. Patricia

              I assume (because I’m broad like that) this proverb also refers to “shes”. In that spirit, I’ll certainly let my daughter know that it’s wiser not to use her heart for walking, if she wants delivering. Do you recommend any particular shoe?

              1. F. Beard

                Ya know, Eve was deceived by the Devil but Adam was not and CHOSE to sin.

                So maybe men have the more significant spiritual problems and women are allowed to slide a bit?

                And while wives are only commanded to honor their husbands, husbands are commanded to LOVE their wives.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Should husbands just love, but not honor their wives and should wives just honor, but not love their husbands?

                  Should men treat captured women nicely for a period of say 30 or 40 days before taking them as wives (after destroying their families)?

                  Is that your ‘translation’ or do we need someone who really speaks Godlish?

                2. Patricia

                  So that proverb wasn’t meant for women because they’re not really to blame? Or because they’re silly but men are mean? Huh!

                  To be serious, F Beard, I do not worship the Bible. Fascinating ancient text full of all kinds of stuff: some beautiful, some puzzling, some downright ugly. Sort of like reality but with much less nuance. Overall, I prefer reality.

                  But those tales about Jesus are sweet.

              2. F. Beard

                And gee wiz. Pride is a very, very deadly sin and it seems to primarily affect only males. Be very thankful for that!

        2. Patricia

          Yup. Industrialization (with concurrent rise of population) turned specialities into walled ghettos. That, added to US emphasis on the individual over relationship, is the biggest hurdle for us to overcome in order to tackle the problems at hand and to establish alternate possibilities for survival.

          We need to push beyond our separateness. For all Berman’s obvious intelligence and curiosity, he merely nurtures distance. It’s understandable. We face desperate times. As he says, we all wonder, “Who is to blame?” Unfortunately, his reply is no better than those he criticizes, although less directly lethal. Makes me sad.

          Shakespeare’s plays were written to the peanut gallery. Art’s cultural function is to give form to what we already suspect and then to bend/expand it. Carpenters/farmers are stupid and/or unaware at ~ the same ratio as any urban intellectual. It looks different in each, that’s all.

          It is also interesting that these days a plumber is paid better than an adjunct professor.

        3. subgenius

          …not convinced listening to Ira Glass and reading the New Yorker indicates indicates an intellectual, or even much in the way of smarts.

          Just sayin’

      2. jrs

        Yea that article was pretty aweful reading itself. I don’t mind critiques of American culture (bring it on!). But that was cruelity to a human being – not cool.

        I’m not sure why the guy targeted in it went to a MOOC (an online class apparently). I’m not sure if MOOCs have practical applications by which I mean getting the piece of paper that gets one in the door, or learning practical job skills. But if so it’s obvious why he went to one. Material conditons of people’s lives, capiche? Earning a living, ideally doing a job you prefer, but regardless earning a living. People have always trained to earn a living. If the classes he took don’t even have practical applications and he took them purely for self-betterment good for him.

        The article also idealizes the professor. Yet we now have homeland security thugs in charge of major universities. Oh but this was nothing so lowely as a huge state university system, it was a major east coast university see. And the professors life was meaningful, unlike all the meaningless lives of Americans. And how many “being a professor at an elite east coast university” jobs does he imagine exist? Most people can’t work jobs like that. Economics, capiche? If the masses are to have meaningful lives it can’t be on those terms at least in this economic system (in no economic system will everyone be a professor but worker ownership, guaranteed national income, or even shorter work weeks would have different results). Besides what good are these professors? They should be screaming about our politics! Yea fine there exists a Chomsky here and there. Most aren’t. They are the establishment, they (prestigious east coast universites) educate the people IN POWER, the people that make this hell. The people they educate go on to Wall Street, they go to on to Washtington D.C..

        1. jrs

          The near equation in the artile of elite education and meaningful lives is incredibly annoying in itself. Yea being thoughtful helps, learning may help, but it’s fundementally about what one does is it not? And professor enforcing the establishment is not necessarily the most noble way to live.

          Dropout Snowden – is *that* a meaningful life? His path was far less cushy than the elite professor who looks down on toys (but has probably not worried seriously about finances a single day in his life much less about state persecution).

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I am all for professors struggling for academy equality and the emancipation of research slaves.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That should be academic equality, and academy equality.

            My brain froze thinking about those dark, satanic academic mills, I guess.

        3. Patricia

          To be fair, Berman also believes that US higher education is a mess. He just doesn’t think MOOC is a viable answer. Also he is certain that it will become more and more popular since we’ve lost a solid vision of education, and of course, profit. We are all Ferengi now.

          To be even more fair, there are some good profs left in the system. And after all, there can be only one Chomsky.

          1. jrs

            I think it may be a viable answer in some cases – ie non-traditional student going back to get a degree in their field so they can get a raise or whatever (it is not their fault society is set up that way). Which is different than saying it is desirable for everyone to do it.

            Most of those academic problems are really economic ones. Academics is beside the point. If society is set up so that a college education is a requirement to get a job, or at least get a job that lifts you out of poverty, and we expect everyone to be an intellectual to get a college degree (we don’t but maybe Berman would have it so), it makes intellectualism a precondition to living adult life really. Which either sounds needlessly demanding and narrow (maybe not everyone is cut out to be that) or to some perhaps sounds utopian (a population of really well educated people). But even the utopians are quickly defeated when real life in the U.S. enters in, that students may be working several jobs to survive economically even while getting a degree. Sure change economic conditions in a way that that isn’t so – student stipend, guaranteed national income, full communism :) whatever. But until then, attacking MOOCs is beside the point. At best you provide a well funded public education system to be a viable temptation away from MOOCs (but hey some people are still going to go to MOOCS) and when the public education system is homeland security thugs even that only gets you so far.

      3. jrs

        “This is the norm, because most Americans simply can’t cut it on a human or spiritual level, and they are vaguely aware of this. So if they find u rdg a serious bk or listening to Bach or discover that u don’t own a cell fone, their self-betrayal (existential strain) comes flying out, and it ain’t pretty. The whole thing is very sad…”

        If there is some truth to that and there may be (but what does owning a cell phone really have to do with anything?). There is alternately and equally a truth to the kind of analysis you can do on a person who MUST feel themselves SUPERIOR TO OTHERS. Suffice to say, I don’t know but, I highly suspect that’s it’s not a healthy mode of being or what one should aim for. If I wanted to drop names eh see Karen Horneys writings on inner conflicts (and try to extricate yourself :)). But do I need to drop names and prove myself the smartest and most well read person in the room? But I am quite sure I’m not!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The funny thing is I didn’t have any existential angst until I read about existential angst.

      Now, everything is existential angst or concern.

      Let that be another lesson for you kids – don’t read too much. Try writing more. It’s more pro-active and more fun.

  6. ohmyheck

    As far as the ME I/P peace talks, you didn’t miss anything, but this.

    “The European Union has announced that starting in 2014 it’s going to ban funding and cooperation with Israeli institutions based in the occupied territories. The move is being described as a political earthquake in Israel, and officials have said it threatens future peace talks. (snip)
    But actually these are very big news, because what we see here is a sort of awakening of a debate that has been brewing in Europe for many years (snip) . That means the various grants and funds that go from the E.U. to various Israeli institutions, to Israeli universities, are going to be restricted if those Israeli institutions are actually involved in the occupation in some way.
    Now, what everyone in Israel knows–maybe not everyone in Europe knows, but certainly the Israeli officials are well aware of it–is that almost every institution in Israel is very deeply connected to the occupation. Almost every university in Israel is deeply involved in illegal colonizing activity…”

    I suggest reading the entire article. This might actually be an action that has teeth in it.

    1. Manofsteel11

      1. The EU resolution you mention regarding the settlements, as well as the EU resolution you neglected to elaborate on (about Hezbollah being treated as a terrorist organization), are all actually part a a big give-and-take equation between multiple parties involved in the peace process (superpowers and Arab nations).
      Many steps and conditionality are pre-set behind the scenes, establishing conducive conditions politically, in terms of public diplomacy and de facto.
      Future quid pro quo steps will emerge as progress is achieved.
      The big question is whether the ultimate give-and-take, targeting Iran as part of the scheme to establish and new regional/peace regime is already on the table, or perhaps even in the doing.
      2. No, there are no real deadlocks at this initial stage – the reports to the media are meant to reduce expectations, soften extremists’ opposition on both sides, and allow for time for the negotiators to work. If you hear only good news before signing an agreement this may actually lead to extremists attacks/sabotage, etc. In any case, things are determined to a large extent at the highest echelons far from the media.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Today Eurostat announced that debt-to-GDP for the eurozone (EA17) is 92.2%.

    That’s over the notorious 90% threshold proposed by Reinhart/Rogoff (R-R). But it’s under the modified 120% threshold proposed by Herndon/Ash/Pollin (H-A-P) after applying needed corrections to R-R (see today’s separate NC thread on this subject).

    Okayyyy … so here’s the list of elite winners who have busted past H-A-P’s 120% threshold of debt/GDP:

    Greece ….. 160.5%
    Italy ……… 130.3%
    Portugal …. 127.2%
    Ireland …. 125.1%

    Meanwhile, how’s growth going in these most-indebted nations? Q1 2013 GDP figures:

    Greece ….. -5.6%
    Italy ……… -2.4%
    Portugal …. -3.9%
    Ireland …. -0.6%

    Hmmm … high debt, negative growth. Just what both R-R and H-A-P found. After all, it’s only what one would expect. As more of income is devoted to debt service, there’s less to invest in future growth.

    One can question the direction of causation. But the correlation is only deepening as the latest stats roll in.

    1. Massinissa

      Japan has higher debt levels than any of them, at about 200% if I recall. Though I cant remember if Japan has positive or negative growth. Im pretty sure it was pretty stagnant. Too busy right now to look these things up, I have something to do in a moment.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Japan had a positive quarter in 2013 Q1. But take a look at a longer term chart of Japanese GDP from FRED:

        In nominal terms — not corrected for deflation — Japanese GDP is almost 10 percent smaller today than it was 15 years ago.

        Correct for deflation, and Japan’s real GDP is somewhat more positive than its nominal GDP.

        Still, an economy where nominal GDP is shrinking feels dead in the water. Japan has suffered repeated shallow recessions. Much of Japan’s debt was spent on useless projects — bridges to nowhere; paving creek banks; lining its coasts with concrete tetrapods.

        So the country is both an environmental horror show (even before Fukushima) and flat broke.

    2. F. Beard

      As more of income is devoted to debt service, there’s less to invest in future growth. Jim Haygood

      Of course, if one has borrowed in a foreign currency.

      OTOH, a monetary sovereign would find it wise to deficit spend if, for no other reason, than to provide its population the aggregate interest to payoff its debt to the counterfeiting cartel, the banks.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not negative growth per se.

        You can have decent growth but without wealth equality, you will still end up with high debt among the 99.99%, as we have witnessed in the last few decades.

        I would probably put it this way – negative income growth of the 99.99% (not GDP growth itself) leads to high debt.

    3. LucyLulu

      You didn’t mention our own historical example here in the US. If one excludes intragovernmental debt, our debt to GDP hit an all-time high in 1945 of 113% (or alternatively, ~135%). Despite the implementation of policies contrary to the austerity measures popular today, it fell steadily over the next 29 years, as a result of economic growth, falling to 24% in 1974 before beginning to reverse course.

      Steve Keen is notable in having a theory that, unlike R-R, nicely explains the empirical results above as well as the modern recessions seen here and in the EU.

  8. Kurt Sperry

    “Everywhere Armutlu” is interesting for the apparent success the neighborhood residents had using novel countermeasures to the sorts of militarized police presence that it seems the American oligarchy are relying on to protect them from the inevitable consequences of their own actions. Using lasers to dazzle police is obvious once you’ve seen it done.

    1. from Mexico


      The supposed invincibility of the all-powerful and omnipotent security and surveillance state is one of the most preposterous lies being peddled by the Obama administration.

      Could we call it the Borg bluff?:

      “We are The Borg, Resistance is Futile”

      TPTB of course know the bluff is a load of crap. If the outcome of the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars wasn’t enough evidence to debunk the lie, there are these quotes from the CADRE Digest of Air Power Opinions and Thoughts reveal:

      • War and truth have a fundamental incompatibility. The devotion to secrecy in the interests of the military machine largely explains why, throughout history, its operations commonly appear in retrospect the most uncertain and least efficient of human activities.
      –Liddell Hart

      • When offensive weapons make a sudden advance in efficiency, the reaction of the side which has none is to disperse, to thin out, to fall back on medieval guerilla tactics which would appear childish if they did not rapidly prove to have excellent results.
      –General G.J.M Chassin

      • All these attempts at theory…only pay attention to activity on one side, whilst War is a constant state of reciprocal actions.

      • If a man’s trust is in a robot that will go around the earth of its own volition and utterly destroy even the largest cities on impact, he is still pitiably vulnerable to the enemy who appears on his doorstep, equipped and willing to cut his throat with a penknife, or beat him to death with a cobblestone… [N]o weapon, whose potential is once recognized as of any degree of value, ever becomes obsolete.
      –J.M. Cameron

    2. lambert strether

      Yes, and lasers in the social context:

      The combined use of lasers and sound in the form of fireworks, flash bangs, chants and pot banging, may serve to further demoralise the invader.

      Multiple sensory pathways.

      This link seems to be the source of the image; I don’t know the Turkish situation well enough to dope out their affiliations.

  9. JGordon

    From the Morris Berman post:

    “If you ask me what can be done about America, about this psychological configuration, you of course already know my answer: nothing. There is no remedy; this is as obvious as horns on a bull. I write this not to ‘rectify’ the situation, but merely to illuminate another aspect of our national suicide…”

    I am gratified to see that NC is beginning to have links to genuinely insightful people such as Chris Hedges and Morris Berman who recognize, quite explicitly, that America is an empire in its last stages of collapse. Though it’s important also to come to terms with and internalize that reality that nothing can be done to save it. Once that fact is accepted you will finally be able to take constructive actions that will have a positive impact on you and the people around you.

    When I first started reading NC so many years ago this kind of thinking was nowhere on the radar, but now it’s finally starting to merge into the mass conciousness. I think that soon the majority of you will realize what’s going on, and then you will think back and remember what I’ve said here: while it seems a bit despressing on the surface, you have to cultivate a positive attitude about the collapse that’s coming, because there are plenty of proactive and useful activities you could be engaging in right now that will raise the quality of your life–not just now but during and after the collapse.

    1. jrs

      I dont’ care about the empire collapsing. Wait, perhaps a more truthful reply: it will mean a lot of pain and suffering but I think I WANT this evil empire to collapse (torture, spying, persecution of dissent, drones, war – eh let it collapse). I fear it getting a lot more brutal before then though.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Climbing income ladder, location matters.


    Which came first: Location or income.

    I believe it’s the latter.

    As soon as I have the required income, I will get the location I want and I will the income I desire…or some loopy loop like that.

    1. Klassy!

      Yeah, well tell that to the commenters on the article. They all seem convinced of the primacy of location. And, it all seems a little silly, because outside of some Plains/Midwest (and a few Western) areas it doesn’t look too good for the bottom 10% anywhere.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Our coming food crisis.

    I believe Thorium won’t help much there, as least as far as organic instead of GM foods are concerned, though consuming less and more wealth equality might.

    1. optimader

      Prime B

      Actually Thorium powered utility generation could displace NG fired power plants.

      Natural gas is the feedstock for the production of ammonia fertilizer (as well as many other basic chemical feedstock). We are idiots to burn NG up in power plants.

      Right now Thorium is a waste burden in the production of rare earth mining /refining, it is potentially a high value, low carbon foot print fuel that is treated as a waste.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          My concern is they use Thorium to power production of more GM foods or drones.

          1. optimader

            My mind is more on powering the AC today.. :op
            We are idiots for using NG to do that though.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It is amazing to read that they had an icehouse at the palace of Zimri-Lim @ Mari at around 2,000BC.

              That king had his AC but not wealth equality for his subjects….:(

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  By the way, is that in any way like Persia’s and Egypt’s windcatcher and yakhchal?

      1. lambert strether

        I just clicked it; works for me. Some of the verbiage:

        In honor the recent blooming of Amorphophallus titanum at the US Botanical Garden in Washington DC, this majestic and captivating specimen ought replace current official flower Rhododendron macrophyllum.

        In the words of Washington Post commentator MajorBummer (7/21/2013 8:30 PM CDT), “It’s just got everything for a good mystery. It’s cryptic. It’s exotic. The timing is off. It’s inconsistent. It’s inconsiderate. It’s got all those great things. It’s from far away, and it smells bad, and people get interested.”

        Standing tall, the flower projects the greatness of the capitol city, felt in the hearts of all citizens.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          I got the same error again until I did several hard refreshes and eventually got through. There’s an old hack called Coventry for vBulletin forum software that didn’t deny connections outright but introduced a random seeming inability to connect as a discouragement. Maybe? I don’t know.

          Signature 31 here!

  12. Klassy!

    re: climbing income ladder.
    You know what is more imortant than social mobility to me?– That those on the bottom don’t live lives of desparation and total insecurity. Asking about social mobility is asking the wrong question, in my opinion.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A great point.

      It’s like (some people might not like to hear me say this, since it’s Zen, a foreigners’ spiritual thing), but we all have Buddha nature in us, or Zen nature in us, whatever you call it. So, we are all already equal – no need to climb…as soon as we implement GDP sharing.

  13. diptherio

    Something on the Boiling Frogs podcast sparked a little bit of inspiration for me this morning. I’ve composed a short (very short) story about the nefarious uses that NSA’s spying might be put to (a la J. Edgar Hoover). For some reason I decided to set it 40 years in the future, but it could just as well be happening now, as Russ Tice suggests in the podcast.

    NSA 2053

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Podcast Show #112: NSA Whistleblower Goes on Record -Reveals New Information & Names Culprits!

      This podcast is an absolute must listen. The tinfoiliest conspiracy theorists are essentially short of the mark when it comes to the NSA. We no longer exist as a functioning democracy, we Americans live in a total police state. The President, the Congress and the Judiciary are completely under the control of the NSA. how is this just a bullet item in a list of links?

  14. Hugh

    The Bloomberg article on the Fed and unemployment is not bad for an MSM publication. It touches on many of the issues I raise when I write my own monthly job analyzes. Nevertheless, the author still treats the headline numbers, which are seasonally adjusted, as being a reflection of what is actually happening in the economy, and not points on a trend line which is what they are.

    And the author writes things like this: “Furthermore, sales volume has been severely limited by slow economic growth in the U.S. and around the world, and the strengthening dollar also pressures profits. That means cost-cutting has been the route to pushing profit margins to all-time highs and, as a result, employees have suffered both limited job growth and declining real wages.” He does not question the logic of why corporations are pushing profit margins to “all time highs”. Why is merely reasonable profit not good enough? Nor does he connect the dots that it is precisely this pursuit of record profits (and hence record CEO compensation) at the expense of workers that is choking off demand in a self-reinforcing dynamic.

    Nor does the author really seem to grasp that workers’ wages have been suppressed for 30 years by the Fed in the name of price stability and this has meant that all the profits from gains in productivity over this time have gone to the rich. Nor that since 2001, permanently high levels of real unemployment have become both Fed and corporate policy, and that this is reflected in the Fed’s acceptance of higher levels of structural unemployment.

  15. mookie

    Snoop Snoop Song: A Conversation with Glenn Greenwald Alex Mierjeski – Harper’s
    Brief excerpt:

    Have you been surprised by the content of the material he released?

    I have. I still haven’t gone through all of it, but even though I had been writing for the past four years about how the NSA was building this completely unaccountable and sprawling surveillance system, seeing the truth of it — the hardcore reality of it in their documents — was kind of shocking, I have to say. And I really believe that the most significant revelations are yet to come. I don’t want to keep previewing that — we’re going to take our time vetting it and reporting it and figuring it all out — but the stuff that has shocked me the most is the stuff we haven’t even written about.

    Back in the G.D.R. Scott Horton – Harper’s
    Brief excerpt:

    So Lane is wrong to trivialize the concerns that the NSA scandal has provoked, and to refute the historical example of the Stasi. Having experienced two dictatorships in the past century, Germans are perhaps more sensitive to issues of state intrusiveness than their American allies, and possess a deeper understanding of how the systematic invasion of privacy by the state can undermine the essential ties of human existence. With Germany heading for parliamentary elections on September 22, Chancellor Angela Merkel commands far more confidence than her rival, Peer Steinbrück, but his hapless Social Democrats have now found an issue that truly resonates with the voters. Few Germans have been satisfied with Merkel’s response to the revelations, but like most Beltway insiders, Lane offers no meaningful response to their concerns: his defense is geared solely to American citizens, who are assured of the existence of unverifiable protections — ones that apparently don’t extend to America’s German, British, Scandinavian, and other allies.

    Boeing’s Plastic Planes Andrew Cockburn – Harper’s
    Brief excerpt:

    Boeing’s management would clearly like for the Heathrow incident to fade quickly from the news, and for no one to start asking serious questions about the fundamental design concepts built into this revolutionary airliner, or about who thought them up and why. The company may get what it wants, which would be a pity, because this airplane and its faults have much to tell us about the corrupting influence of the military-industrial complex on a once-great company, and on American manufacturing in general.

    To understand why Dreamliners catch fire, we must look all the way back to the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, when major defense contractors were facing the prospect of declining defense budgets and consequent diminishing profits. In response, William Perry, newly installed as Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Clinton Administration, presided over a series of mergers between the big firms, which produced an industry dominated by five giant “primes.” Perry offered handsome subsidies to the firms as encouragement to merge, promoting the initiative as beneficial to the taxpayer because it would cut down on wasteful overhead. Needless to say there were no such savings for taxpayers, and the resultant corporate oligopoly inevitably led to increased weapons costs.

  16. LucyLulu

    Today’s news from Law360 (behind paywall)……

    Mary Jo White isn’t such a pushover after all:

    “In the wake of judicial and congressional pressure, newly appointed U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White has announced that, in certain cases, the SEC would require defendants to admit to wrongdoing or else face trial — a potentially drastic departure from its long-standing practice of “neither admit nor deny” settlements. This new policy could mean expensive trials, delayed payment to investors and fewer enforcement actions going forward, say attorneys with Paul Hastings LLP.”

    In a similar vein, they claim an exclusive on:

    “Bart Chilton, a top official at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, told Law360 in a wide-ranging interview he believes the agency should push for defendants to admit wrongdoing in settlements, echoing earlier comments by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White.”

    The banks hit a wall in their seek for relief from non-deferential judge in suit by FHFA:

    “The Second Circuit on Friday declined to intervene in the cases of Morgan Stanley and 13 other banks that have said a New York federal judge deprived them of critical evidence to pressure them to settle Federal Housing Finance Agency suits over $200 billion in allegedly toxic residential mortgage-backed securities, saying the banks haven’t exhausted other options.”

    1. Ms G

      Before getting too excited that MJ Revolving Door White has suddenly turned into the Great Enforcer, note the phrase ” … in certain cases,” and then read the underlying article to get the quotes from MJ’s Revolving Mouth as to how exactly this new policy is being organized.

      It doesn’t take much scratching past the toot-toot announcement to see there is no there there and it is very much, predictably, 100% kabuki for the rubes.

      Really, the MJ Whites of this world need to stop taking the rest of us for imbeciles. This is getting tiring.

      1. LucyLulu

        Me bad. I was interpreting it from the viewpoint of NO admissions being turned into SOME admissions. Just trying to be positive here, Ms. G.

        I do have a question. She’s mentioned something about faster settlements, with investors getting their money quicker, with no admissions. When there is an SEC settlement, do investors get some of the money, or did I misunderstand her? I thought investors had to bring their own suits if they wanted to get any money, which is why it’s better to get admissions of guilt.

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