Links 9/28/13

Owner of Cosmo, cat stolen by do-gooder from NYC store, angry about abuse suspicions Daily News

Senate votes start at 12:30, and after that, who knows? McClatchy

Investors bet on last-minute deal to end fiscal showdown Reuters

Two can play at that suicidal game! Economist

Ask A Native New Yorker: How Guilty Should I Feel About Being A Horrible Gentrifier? Gothamist

Why we hate the new tech boom Salon

America’s Cup: How Oracle won tech race (perhaps) New Zealand Herald

Billionaires Battle as Bezos-Musk Companies Vie for Launch Pad Bloomberg

American Workers: Hanging on by the Skin of Their Teeth Counterpunch. Party like it’s 2009.

US mortgage insurer seeks $1.7bn from Treasury FT

How Bad Was It? The Costs and Consequences of the 2007–09 Financial Crisis [PDF] Dallas Fed (furzy mouse)

Three Unlearned Lessons From the Financial Crisis Simon Johnson, Bloomberg

The Big Lie of the Post-Crisis Ryan Chittun, CJR. Shout-out to Bill Black. “The”?

Middle East

UN Security Council Approves Syria Chemical Arms Measure Bloomberg

Putin to the Rescue LBR

Americans doubt Obama’s effectiveness on Syria Economist/YouGov poll. “Which world leader was most effective during the Syrian crisis?” Vladimir Putin: 49%; Barack Obama: 25%.

Obama, Rouhani talk on phone for 15 minutes, breaking 34-year freeze McClatchy

When Rouhani Met Ollie North Foreign Policy

Eyeing Gulf Shipping, Iran’s Mass Producing Submarines The Diplomat

Destroying the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia Caused the Nairobi Mall Attack Ian Welsh (furzy mouse)

Germany’s left wants grassroots blessing before joining Merkel Reuters

Do You Really Want to Bet Against China? Justin Fox, HBR

Big Brother Is Watching Watch

Edward Snowden e-mail provider Lavabit faced ‘pen register’ order Politico

FBI has been using drones since 2006, watchdog agency says LA Times

“Whoa Whoa Whoa, Stop!” Dianne Feinstein Misstates the 2011 Violations emptywheel

Dianne Feinstein Accidentally Confirms That NSA Tapped The Internet Backbone TechDirt (CL). Jail time for DiFi under the Espionage Act?

US intelligence chiefs urge Congress to preserve surveillance programs Guardian. Generaloberst Alexander: “I believe it is in the nation’s best interest to put all the phone records into a lockbox – yes.”

Sen. Ron Wyden: NSA ‘repeatedly deceived the American people’ Glenn Greenwald, Guardian

An electronic medical records mess WaPo

Countdown To Obamacare Sarah Kliff Q&A, WaPo

Against All Odds: What One Family’s Experience Tells Us About Medicaid’s Enduring Role Health Affairs. Medicaid boomlet lately, probably due to AK market state-style privatization experiment. Kaching!

Keystone Pipeline Project Faces Nebraska Court Showdown Bloomberg. “The legislature is not empowered to delegate power to a private company at the expense of its residents.”

Fracking Chemicals May Be Unknown, Even To Gas Drillers, Lawsuit Documents Suggest HuffPo

FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm Search Engine Land (“pushy suggestions”).

What Does the Zapruder Film Really Tell Us? Smithsonian

Landmark 2013 IPCC Report: 95% Chance Most of Global Warming is Human-Caused Weather Underground

Which Way To Heaven? The Archdruid Report

Antidote du jour:


September is spring in Australia and Save the Koala Month.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. real

      neliberals are more vicious than fascists..BTW arresting GD seems to be political ploy to garner more seats in greek parliament

  1. Brick

    On the Germany link. 1) it is not working 2) The SPD isn’t left, neither are the Greens.

    Most Germans would prefere a “grand coalition”, so asking the base should not be a problem for the SPD most will approve. I don’t really understand why they do it though. Yes, both former Merkel partners (first the SPD then the FDP) took pretty extreme hits in the next election, but with a center left majority in the Bundestag, the SPD could pretty much be a strong partner in the next government. And if it is not working they could a few years in form a government with the actual left wing party the LINKE (which they are currently ruling out).

    But, it’s really weird at the moment neither Greens nor SPD really want to be Merkel’s coalition partner. “You do it.” “No why don’t you do it.” I have never seen that any party in Germany was so scared of being in power. Merkel the party eating monster.

    1. Ned Ludd

      Reuters article is here. The junior partner in coalitions often sees its popularity drop, or even collapse.

      Many in the SPD oppose a grand coalition because their support crumbled after the 2005-09 right-left alliance to their worst post-war result of 23 percent. They recovered to 25.7 percent on Sunday but it is below the 40.9 percent won in 1998.

      The fate of Merkel’s allies in her last coalition, the Free Democrats, also frightens many in the SPD. The FDP plunged from a record 14.6 percent in 2009 to 4.8 percent on Sunday, failing to even win seats in parliament for first time since 1949.

      In Australia, the Greens vote dropped 27% in the recent election, with swings against the party in both the Senate and the lower house. Lord Oakeshott, a senior Liberal Democrat peer, expects big losses for the U.K. party in the next election.

      1. CB

        Perhaps because the people who voted for the jr partners didn’t do so to encourage the jrs to become adjuncts/subordinates/extensions of the dominant party? Subsumed by a party the voters didn’t want?

        Here in NJ, I’m a registered democrat but I don’t vote for democrats much because they’re republicans. Christie’s back pocket confederates, cronies, even. What would be the point of voting dem when I could vote forthright repub?

  2. John Merryman

    By chance, I happened to come up with my own theory;
    Around the time of Stone’s movie, I read a book by some professor, from Princeton I think, who wrote an overview book that just listed all the information and theories about the assassination. In the footnotes, there was a description of the three shell casings found at the window and while two were shiny, one was tarnished and he commented that some theorists thought this meant it was just an old casing he may have had in the chamber and only fired two shots, but it suggested something entirely different to me. Having done a bit of ammunition reloading, it could well mean it was a reloaded bullet. Does anyone remember Fredrick Forsythe’s The Day of the Jackal? In that fictionalization of an attempt on DeGaulle, one of the plot devices was he used a shot designed to explode. It was drilled out and a drop of mercury was put in and soldered over. So when it struck, the mercury flew forward and exploded the front of the bullet.
    Now consider that the shot that went through Kennedy’s neck, wrist, Connally’s side and into his leg, was only slightly flattened, but Kennedy’s head essentially exploded, when struck in the back by the same kind of bullet. Logically it should have left an entry/exit wound. People get shot in the head and it’s messy, but it doesn’t necessarily blow away half their head. It would also explain the noise attributed to a fourth shot, which was a seventh of a second after the third. Also many people thought the third shot came from the direction of the grassy knoll.
    Given this insight, I tended to follow stories about it and several years later, watched an interview of Connally by Dan Rather, in which he said the third shot was louder than the first two. Then a few years ago, History’s Mysteries did an episode where they interviewed various of the people taking pictures that day and the last person interviewed mentioned he didn’t really realize what was happening, until he felt the pressure of the third shot on his face.

    1. susan the other

      But a fraction of a second before his head exploded some force threw his head backwards, not forward. He had been leaning forward because he had been shot in the throat. Jackie was leaning over him. When the fatal shot happened he was blown back into the seat and Jackie, who probably saw the shooter, started to escape. John Connally, before the fatal shot, had been pulled down to the floor of the limo by his wife, but if the shot came from within the limo, say just over Connally’s body, it is certainly conceivable that it was louder than the others. The 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination is a fitting holiday for America. It will be celebrated by all sorts of vacuous articles, like this one by Ron Rosenbaum, signifying nothing.

      1. John Merryman

        One other point that came to mind is the x_rays of his head showed bullet fragments, while the “magic bullet” was intact, even though it contacted more bone then the back of a skull. While I haven’t done any experimenting, having the top of his head explode may have thrown him backward, even if the bullet originally struck from behind.

        1. Susan the other

          I’m thinkin’ that if the bullet struck him from behind it would have traveled to the front of his skull before exploding and would have blown of the front of his head and at that point it would have pushed him back into the seat.

          1. Paul Tioxon

            Probably no other equally significant moment in history is avoided in the way all other important events are approached, to reason exhaustively and think to a conclusion. But with the 50th anniversary of the assassination coming up, the usual push backs to unring the bell of truth are coming out in the most hallowed of media outlets. The most serious intonations of philosophical weight to counter the vast majority of the public’s knowledge of the conspiracy as a firm fact are invoked. The suppression of photographic evidence and the obsession with the Zapruder film, to the exclusion of many other films of the assassination is one case in point.

            There is the Orville Nix color film of the assassination, filmed from across the street from Zapruder. There is also the Marie Muchmore film. These 3 films all capture the shooting. Many more films at the same time capture information, but create a more complete picture of what happened before and after the shooting. In particular, the mass of people descending from all directions onto the grassy knoll. There is a reason why the grassy knoll has been and continues to be mentioned. The reason is because of the all of the eye witnesses from across the street and on and adjacent to the knoll who ran in unison to the spot to catch the shooter. By focusing on the Zapruder film to the exclusion of all of the other films, an isolated, one dimensional picture is repeated over and over again. The lone camera man, Zapruder, films the lone gunman shooting. The much larger depiction of events is completely lost in this institutionalizing of the event: The Zapruder film of the JFK Assassination. As if that was the whole story. It is not.



            1. Dr. Noschidt

              PT, it is indeed, part of the “Conspiracy” to “Rule the World” through the commission of “War Crimes” and “Crimes Against Humanity.” That’s why the garbage can lid is kept tightly closed to the public.

              Despite the prevalence of murderous conspiracies on the record of “history”, the Principals and Agents of this Conspiracy have managed to make some of the public believe that any conspiracy is impossible, and only the fantasy of lunatics.

              Those who knew Lee Harvey Oswald, Judith Varey Baker, and the cancer-virus creating crewe surrounding Dr. Alton Ochsner (Sr.) in New Orleans, KNOW that the JFK assassination was the result of a CONSPIRACY — just like the assassination of Julius Caesar was the result of a CONSPIRACY.

              But most trained and leashed timid “intellectuals” in America have been cowed with ease. They have bought the lie that “conspiracy” is a dirty word off limits to self-respecting snobs. These snobs aid and abet the ONGOING CONSPIRACY to Rule the World through the commission of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.

              Intimidation by the Reich works like a charm. It’s magic.

            2. susan the other

              We were 17, eating lunch; cheeseburger and fries – when the radio announced the assassination…and we all lost our appetites and gave back all our burgers to the carhop… it’s amazing that the high school did not cancel classes that afternoon, in fact did not say much at all. No messages over the intercom. And I became as obsessive – to this day -just as everyone else in my generation did. So information takes on a new meaning for me. Like the sound of a 45. It is loud. And in 1963 you could smell the gunpowder a block away. Senator Yarborough (?) who was riding in the motorcade either with LBJ or just behind him commented that it was an “unspeakable” act and said he could smell the gunpowder. And a 45 could shoot a hollow bullet that “exploded.” and blew out the back of the victim.

              1. John Merryman

                I was 3 at the time. Given all that has happened since and all that is happening now, it almost seems quaint. I tend to avoid politics because the level of heat far exceeds the light. Eventually I became more interested in basic physics, because it tends to explain the forces at work, rather than just join in with them.

              2. John Merryman

                Talk about more weird. I googled up a site that had the film, frame by frame;
                In the 313 frame, his head explodes, but it isn’t blood red, it’s much more flame orange. You think maybe the color is just off, but all the other colors are normal. Then I clicked on the succeeding frames and it really looks like the front of his head is on fire for about twenty frames. Then I’m thinking it has to be sun shining off something Jackie’s is wearing, but it isn’t there in 312.
                Go figure.

                  1. John Merryman

                    Being a bit presumptuous here, but it is a subject with so much conflicting information and opinions, that I seem to get drawn into it every ten years and start shooting from the lip. Been checking out a few more sites and the conflicting perspectives start spinning into the usual vortex…
                    That said, these frames do look weird.

        2. Optimader

          Fwiw,In one of the scotch sodden vacation dinner conversations of youth my friends dad who was a regarded neurosurgeon ( consulted on rfk autopsy) , said the head going backward would be a consistent neurological/ neck muscle response.

          1. Optimader

            Incidentally, sinle shooter (oswalds) marksmanship/ timing is reproducable. Somedays things are just dialed in, thats th way it works.

      2. Jim Haygood

        ‘JFK conspiracy coverup fantasy … in Frame 313, it looks like a lightning bolt strikes JFK’s head. We see it blown up and thrown back.’

        Ron Rosenbaum discusses Frame 313 and other issues which raise serious doubts about the credibility of the single-assassin theory. Yet every page of his screed is larded with pejorative ‘conspiracy’ name-calling.

        Either Rosenbaum suffers from cognitive dissonance to the point of brain damage, or else some editor ‘stepped on’ his manuscript to genuflect to the official assassination ideology.

        Did my tax dollars pay for this incoherent load of gibberish?

        1. alex morfesis

          was not going to tag along…had not been able to watch the
          nyt video of mr. “tink(er) with the facts” for more than a few moments. Burned my 12 boxes of every possible detail on that day in november 63 when I came to the conclusion the family did not care so why should I and I let it go.

          But watching another layer of blahblahblah be thrust out there as fact…


          simple debunking of the debunkers…

          One of the more amusing disinformation pieces on the images in the plaza is this notion that the guy sitting next to the haitian(he is not cuban) is the umbrella man…first off, no umbrella, second…the umbrella man is wearing black slacks…the guy sitting next to darkman is wearing tan or khaki pants. So the clown presented to us, the purported Louis Steven Witt, someone who might look like the purported close up of “umbrella man” can’t be him since we are left with the wrong color pants.

          Tink is a nobody who wrote a book that got some play because he is a yalee…1/4 facts, 1/4 maybe, the other half a joke. Oh and six seconds of the NY times tape…4:05 – 4:10 showing the HSCA images of Witt speaking are quite cute…

          I want to buy me one of those umbrellas, 1963 to 1978 hmmm
          how many years is that…??? 15 years…

          any of you have umbrellas from 15 years ago ??

          works mighty fine too…except also that the top of the umbrella presented is light edged and the images I have seen
          do not suggest there is any light brown on the tip of the umbrella that was opened on Nov. 22, 1963…

          if anyone out there really wants to close the book on this, just walk on down to the court record archives in new york city and look for a lawsuit by Crescent Firearms 1964.

          It wasnt just a magic bullet…it was a magic gun…the mini-conglomerate SEC traded entity with William Shea on its board of directors at 404 fifth avenue in NYC sued the italian company they bought the guns from because almost NONE of them worked. Alex Hidell ordered one of the few that seemed to work, or so say the history books tell us…

          details details…can’t sell newspapers if you touch the third rail of history…

          oh…and the folks at who wants us to drink the koolaid should learn to do the math. zapruders 8 mm film shot at 16 or 18 frames per second. 26 x 16 = ? and 26 x 18 = ?

          hmm…somehow we dont get to 486 frames…maybe they meant 468…

          see the orville nix tape and you will notice that the limo driver slammed on the brakes since the first set of shots missed…then notice how the zap tape does not seem to match it…looks like about a second and a half is missing.

          but dont let the “them” frighten you…it was not a vast conspiracy…this nation of ours has hundreds of different special interest groups…and about 20 capable international rivals…there were only about 15 special interest groups involved in the murder of the president. Plenty…but not a complete and vast conspiracy.

          personally, I think J Edgar Hoover had some type of mental breakdown in late 1962 that allowed him to allow what happened to happen…and he allowed those around him to take advantage of his devolved state and move to end the life of the president. Hoover was bad before, but he became evil after the assasination…

        2. alex morfesis

          if the NYtimes and sir “tink” are going to amuse us with verbal foreplay, they could be kind enough to at least give us a link to the serious testimony of “umbrella man”…so serious that he did not seem to rehearse his story first…

          the committee members either thought he was a fake or a nut job…they start making quips in the middle of the questioning…

          but the great part…is that he insists he was sitting down and stood up AFTER the shots were being fired and insisted he did not actually see the president getting shot…

          can’t make this kind of disinformation up…it takes a special kind of stupid to tune the mighty whirlitzer.

        3. JTFaraday

          “Did my tax dollars pay for this incoherent load of gibberish?”

          He was just looking for an excuse to say “appeasement.” To test this theory, I even googled it:


          But it’s not an actual conspiracy, because Richard Hofstadter said so.

          So there.

  3. markf

    from your link re JFK assassination,,, went to

    “The site is dedicated to improving media coverage and public understanding of JFK’s assassination, educating the young, and demanding the release of records still held in secret by U.S. government agencies.”

  4. petridish

    RE: American Workers Hanging On By The Skin of Their Teeth

    Left unmentioned: the newest mandatory monthly expense come January 1, 2014–medical insurance.

    It blows me away that Walmart and every other American retailer didn’t shoot that turkey before it even got started. That premium–“low” though it may be–is coming right out of their pockets via “otherly directed” purchasing power.

    I just wonder how long before the Apple and Macy’s benches empty and the brawl over what’s left in the “consumer’s” wallet begins.

    Maybe a one year delay in Obamacare implementation is not so pie-in-the-sky after all.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      A one year delay at this point would be a disaster.

      I already buy my insurance in the individual market. This is a small market. This market is probably the one most disrupted by Obamacare since it now must allow people with pre-existing conditions to buy insurance. Gov/VA/Medicare and business pools already handle pre-existing conditions.

      My existing insurance plan went *poof*… my insurer is no longer providing it as of 1/1/2014, and instead replacing it with the Gold, Silver, and Bronze plans… priced with the assumption of the mandate _and_ allowing the pre-existing condition people in.

      My guess is a one year pause would mean these plans would not be available either. Without the old plans, or the new ones… I’m guessing I would not have health insurance, even though I’m willing to pay the un-subsidized price for it :(

      1. petridish

        I take your point. But I seriously doubt that, if the Obamacare plans were suddenly unavailable, your current insurance company would turn away your business. Particularly if you have paid on time, have not “overutilized” your benefits and have no preconditions.

        On the other hand, if you, as an individual, need to purchase an Obamacare plan, are pooled with those with preexisting conditions and are not eligible for a subsidy, you are royally screwed.

        The key is the subsidy. The total premium demanded by the insurance company is the sum of the patient portion and the taxpayer portion or subsidy. (It is the patient portion that has been characterized as “cheap.”) The patient portion is income based. Incomes are either stagnant or decreasing. Therefore, the dollar amount of the patient premium contribution should remain relatively stable. So, increases in premiums for those receiving a subsidy will be taxpayer financed. You should probably think blank check.

        Not so for you, Bonds of Steel. Your increases will be self-financed and subject to the claims experience of those within your “pool.” Those with preexisting conditions. You may be well advised to think beyond what happens on 1/1/14 in this regard.

        A few random thoughts:

        The concept of pooling Bonds of Steel with those previously uninsured souls with preexisting conditions now shunted to the exchanges is an artificial construct. The medical insurance industry is cartelized. A few large insurance companies have divided the country into regions, they collude to fix prices and ultimately just these few companies, so-called “pools” notwithstanding, conduct all medical insurance business. Any inordinate costs will be covered by the taxpayers (and Bonds of Steel.) Profits will continue to be made. It is the reason Obamacare was invented.

        The concept of “preexisting conditions” may well be evolving. When, like Bonds of Steel, people are forced onto the exchanges by cancellation of their existing policies, does treatment they have previously received become a “preexisting condition” for their “new” insurer? It is a thought worth pondering.

        The bottom line is that Obamacare is a bottomless Pandora’s Box that should be buried at sea. Kind of like they did with OBL.

        Where in the world is Seal Team Six when you need them? Oh, I remember…….

        1. BondsOfSteel

          “On the other hand, if you, as an individual, need to purchase an Obamacare plan, are pooled with those with preexisting conditions and are not eligible for a subsidy, you are royally screwed.”

          Nah… not screwed. My existing plan is a high deductible HSA, and runs ~$200/month. The unsubsidized Bronze plan which has a lower deductible than my existing plan runs ~$300/month. It’s more, but not the end of the world (and lower deductible). It’s the mandate that’s keeping the cost down.

          BTW, I’m not so sure that a one year delay won’t screw everything. The individual market is currently small. Easy to walk away from. Since they pulled the plan, they would need to go through the state insurance commissioner’s office again with new actuarial data and pricing… in less than 3 months. It might be cheaper to walk.

  5. Tyler

    Regarding the Kennedy assassination, the best blog I’ve seen on the subject is written by Lisa Pease at

    Regarding the American economy, at least we’re not Greece. The unemployment rate there is nearly 30 percent.

  6. Eeyores enigma

    Interesting and very important leaked report from Oz ( wrong about the coal liquefaction being the solution however);

    “This is a matter of serious national security concern but the Gillard Labor-Green-Independent minority government is so conflicted with its stance on global warming and the hated carbon dioxide tax that it cannot bring itself to address the crisis.

    Instead, it has tried to hide the evidence.”

  7. jjmacjohnson

    The new tech boom:

    “It’s beyond annoying to think that Facebook and Twitter millionaires are driving up the price of a kick-ass burrito.”

    Yet they are. If you have higher rents, ect. food prices will go up and if people are rich enough to pay higher prices you sell them for what you can. That means higher prices.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My money is on that Salon ‘why we hate the new tech boom’ writer being an ‘older’ person.

      With age, comes wisdom.

      Well, that’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

      1. scraping_by

        The wealthy and very wealthy don’t participate much in markets, except for speculative investments and stupid luxury goods. Think of a small city’s budget paid for a painting that requires an expert to hang right side up.

        It’s the well-off and upscale, those with enough money to buy without pain but not enough to put themselves in a different world that are bidding up the resources the rest of us use.

        Those and hedgies out to monopolize an asset to extort the middle class.

        If they invest in the assets they’re dominating, it’s harder to make a case against them. It’s factually rare, but it can happen. The top of the pyramid, the loot ‘n scoot crowd, that are causing real damage to life as lived.

  8. Brent Musburger, Jr (news anchor)

    Breaking news! This Just In!

    Earlier this morning, Robert H. Benmosche (president and chief executive officer of American International Group) was tried for grand theft and embezzlement of public funds by a group of masked vigilantes in New York City.

    BenMosche entered a guilty plea and was quickly sentenced to death. After his sentence was pronounced, he was dragged out of the people’s court (in front of AIG Headquarters, 175 Water St) and lynched from the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse.

    Over 100,000 spectators gathered to watch the attack, including many observers dressed as police and city officials. There was a celebratory atmosphere at the event, with many children attending.

    Members of the mob castrated BenMosche, cut off his fingers, and hung him over a bonfire. Still alive, he was repeatedly lowered and raised over the fire for about two hours, and his screams were accompanied by much merriment, dancing, and applause.

    After the fire was extinguished, his charred torso was dragged through the town and parts of his body were sold as souvenirs.

    Professional photographers took pictures as the event unfolded, providing rare images of the first bankster ever to be lynched since the Great Looting of 2008, and these images are being printed and sold as souvenirs…

    Story developing…

  9. rich

    Hedge Funders Push For Geithner At Fed

    Sep 27 2013 | 10:27am ET

    If hedge funds can’t have Lawrence Summers heading the Federal Reserve, they’d like to see one of his successors as U.S. Treasury secretary take the helm at the central bank.

    Timothy Geithner’s name was on many lips at the Skybridge Alternatives Conference in Singapore this week. Geithner, who served as Treasury secretary during President Barack Obama’s first term, spoke a the event on Wednesday.

    Geithner’s discussion was closed to the press, but he offered “measured comments” and avoided discussion of his own interest in succeeding Ben Bernanke at the Fed. Geithner has previously said he has no interest in returning to Washington, D.C.

    “There was a strong feeling that if [Geithner] decided to take the Fed job, everybody here in Singapore believed it would be the most bullish thing for markets, for continuity of Fed policy,” Gary Kaminsky, vice chairman of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, told CNBC. There was a “big, unanimous decision” among the hedge fund managers present that “they’d like to see” Geithner, who served as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank during the financial crisis, “take that job if offered.”

    There is currently no indication that it will be: Fed Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen is still seen as the favorite for the post, following Summers’ withdrawal from consideration. Earlier this week, Highbridge Capital Management co-founder Glenn Dubin and Avenue Capital Group chief Marc Lasry told a Bloomberg summit that Summers would have made a “great” Fed chairman.

  10. Synopticist

    I get a bit sick of reading that the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia ended the chance of peace there and led to the Islamic courts Union to become more extreme blah blah blah.

    The fact is the ICU took Mogadishu in June 2006, and declared jihad AGAINST Ethiopia in October of the same year. That’s what provoked the invasion, in December 2006, not nafarious, nasty neo-colonial neocons etc etc.

    The founder of the ICU was a big old-time chum of Osama bin Laden. The logic inherant within their ideology would ALWAYS have led them spread the war into neighbouring countries. They were, and remain, hardcore Jihadis. That’s what jihadis do, they are, by definition, military expansionists.

    1. Roland

      Ethiopia and Somalia have had hostilities going on at various levels, at various intervals, for decades.

      Ethiopia’s recent involvement in the wars in Somalia was never well-intended. Ethiopia willingly serves as a paid proxy for outside powers.

      Same goes for Kenya. The Kenyan gov’t wanted to, or was persuaded to, get involved in the Somalian wars. The Kenyans chose war, and they have received a taste of what they were willing to dish out to people in Somalia.

      That doesn’t make it right for Somali guerrillas to attack Nairobi. I’m not trying to justify any of the parties in the war. My point is that there is a war going on, and participants in the war, of which Kenya has chosen to be one, can expect to suffer harm.

      1. Synopticist

        Kenya did it’s utmost to stay out of the war in Somalia. They had nothing to do with it for a very long time. What made them intervene was a series of raids and kidnappings within Kenya by al shabab from over the border. The risk to their tourist industry provoked them.

        They didn’t “choose war”. It chose them.

        As for Ethiopia acting as a proxy, that’s certainly an easy assumption, but I’ve yet to see any proof of it. War was declared against them, not the other way round.

  11. Skeptic

    FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm Search Engine Land

    Hummingbirds have spent millenia building a fine reputation as skilled flyers, strong migrators and beautiful creatures. Now, at the whim of some marketers, their fine name is associated with Low Life Google and its unrelenting Greed.

    There is something really evil when these corporations can harvest, own and appropriate as their own the work of others, particularly those unable to defend themselves. The patenting of seeds, for instance, is very similar to the Hummingbird Assault.

    If I were chair of the Hummingbird Protection Society, I would be preparing the legal papers.

    And PETA where are you?

  12. Hugh

    Re the Dallas Fed report, it is a fairly standard evaluation of the costs of the Great Financial Crisis although it does tip its hat to the effects and trauma of unemployment. What is noticeably absent is any mention of wealth inequality. The word “foreclosure” also never occurs. And “debt” occurs only in terms of government debt and not the increased debt burdens of ordinary Americans and students.

  13. Jack Parsons

    “An electronic medical records mess”- “Medical billing is a chronic war between those wanting to get paid (physicians, hospitals) and those not wanting to pay (insurance companies, government)”. Nope- it’s a three-way: docs & nurses write for each other to take the best care of the patient, and forget to add all billing codes. As a result hospitals massively underbill the insurance companies.

    Check every hospital record you get: they’re probably wrong.

  14. Andrew Watts

    RE: Dianne Feinstein Accidentally Confirms That NSA Tapped The Internet Backbone

    Feinstein should be kicked off the Senate Intelligence Committee. According to the committee’s rules any unauthorized disclosure of classified material is grounds for immediate removal. But as we all know some animals are more equal than others.

    I suspect that’s why the media has tried so hard to bait Senator Wyden in his media appearances. It’s too bad he’s not stupid enough to fall for it. It must suck to be them.

    They’re not going to win that easy.

  15. little hands, little eyes, they walk around tellin great big lies

    Thanks for Bloomberg’s bullshit. It’s a classic example of illegal war propaganda in breach of CCPR Article 20.

    Notice how Bloomberg conceals the text of the resolution – and withholds link to it. Bloomberg even conceals the number of the resolution: [It’s Resolution 2118 (2013)].

    Bloomberg’s hacks put in links to make the article look grounded in fact. Almost all circle back to old Bloomberg crap. Now, if we escaped Bloomberg’s self-referential maze of links and actually looked at the resolution, What might we see?

    The Charter authority cited is Article 25. What does Article 25 say? “The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.” Those UNSC decisions might invoke Chapter VI on Pacific Settlement of Disputes. Or, the UNSC might invoke Chapter XIV on the International Court of Justice. Or it might invoke Chapter VIII on regional arrangements, like the ongoing efforts to make the Middle East a zone free of WMDs. Why, the UNSC might even invoke Chapter VII.

    Chapter VII reserves authority for force to the Security Council. The US government is trying to pervert Chapter VII into an authority for its unauthorized threats of force. They want you to hear Chapter VII and blurt out “FORCE!!!” That’s why the US shoehorned a reference to Chapter VII into the resolution.

    But Chapter VII authority includes Article 40: “call upon the parties concerned to comply.” Chapter VII includes Article 41: decide “measures not involving the use of armed force.” Nothing in the resolution authorizes use of force, not even as a contingency.

    No authorization for force. Not only that: the resolution explicity rules out force. The UNSC “remains actively seized of the matter.” The UNSC has asserted its authority. Nobody moves without a UNSC decision. Nothing happens without UNSC supervision.

    Nothing in the US-Russia agreement can change that. Nothing in the NATO Charter can change that. Why? Look at UN Charter Article 103: “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.”

    So. US use of force in Syria is criminal aggression. In universal jurisdiction. With no statute of limitations. Want to hide at home painting puppies like Bush? Then go ahead, bomb Syria.

    But But But how did this happen?!!?!? The illiterate Zionazis and CIA plants at State don’t know what’s in the treaties that we signed. UN representatives from grown-up countries read the law. That’s how you make pariahs of criminal states.

    1. Roland

      Just make a quick comparison to the wording of the UNSC resolution authorizing no-fly zones in Libya in 2011, and one finds just how dovish is the new resolution on Syria.

  16. Roland

    Re: the Archdruid piece.

    The critique of Progress reminds me of some of the stuff on “Heroic Materialism” and urbanism found on Nathan Smith’s blog (

    But WRT to Moon, Mars, or other inhospitable places, I don’t think we should necessarily adopt the attitude, “If I can’t eat it, it’s not worth going there.”

    Unless one believes that life emerged everywhere at once, then the colonization of inhospitable, even lifeless, places must be part of the story of life itself. Primary succession. Life makes livability.

    In the long view, the human participation in a movement of terrestrial life beyond Earth would probably be tiny and soon forgotten. Exploration is usually a story about failure, frustration, disgrace and death. Only losers need apply. But it could well be some micro-organisms which come with us which end up changing entire planets and causing whole chains of consequence over the course of many millions of years.

  17. skippy

    Will we be kicking out Campbell Newman in two years?

    The rally on the 7Th August organised by the union Together was at best a fairly dispiriting affair. The thing that I found the most depressing was a dual lack of vision and possibility. Most noticeably the lack of vision of the leadership of the union, a lack of vision which means not only can they do little to lead an effective resistance to the slow (now gathering pace) austerity of the LNP Newman government but also more despairingly they are contributing to the political disempowerment of the working class and setting us up for defeat. But the second lack of vision is the lack of vision of the anti-capitalist or radical left (to use a term that few will be happy about) to do anything to change the situation, to contribute to a real mobilisation of the class, or lay the foundations for emancipatory politics. What was on display was the double poverty: the poverty of the left-over machinery of social democracy and the poverty of those who want to do something about it. This needs to be addressed and discussed and ways out planned – ways out based not on ideological purity but reality.

    Now before we get into this perhaps more depressing material lets focus on the positives. Firstly in our generally depoliticised times getting together a few hundred people on a Tuesday night is an achievement. The fact that despite the crushing defeat the LNP government handed us last year and the piss-poor leadership of Together that these fellow workers had not given up in despair but rather had turned up because they wanted to stand up and struggle is heartening. Secondly the union did get somethings right: the speeches given by workers who have lost their jobs or faced decimations in services were powerful and humane. Also the union has moved to get its design and presentation together and make it be more appealing. Now I know that generally unions’ use of contemporary communication techniques is often seen to be symptomatic of their drift from organising to adopting top-down advertising strategies. Now this might be true but is it possible to keep the good design and also add good politics? Or is radical anti-capitalism condemned to make posters and papers that look like they have come from a time-capsule (30s? 70s? 90s?). One of the things you noticeable about the unions in the building industry, which are both a) the most militant b) the closest to the members, is that their material looks fucking cool. They make shirts and jackets and symbols that their members seem to wear in great numbers, that have an appealing aesthetic and contribute to a feeling of collectivity. Considering that the organised socialist sects still build themselves around newspapers (a dying medium) or that anarchists are often emotionally attached to 30 year old counter-cultural traditions its seems that too many of us have less technical and cultural nuance than your average 12 year old with an IPad. (One of the shocks of the Occupy phenomena was how popular right-wing conspiracy theory has become, in some ways displacing socialism as the ‘spontaneous’ ideology of social opposition. This is a complex phenomena and does in part represent the material and cultural structures of contemporary capitalism – but can partly be attributed to the successful use of media by various conspiracy selling hucksters.)

    Moves in a positive direction to engage with current cultural practice probably isn’t a bad thing. Of course the critiques of the ‘culture industry’ or ‘the Spectacle’ are important (Adorno & Horkheimer, 1997; Debord, 2004). Indeed we perhaps need more of them – as the content of daily life, that is the reality of capital’s domination, is often ignored by the ideologies of the Left. The danger of slick messages from unions just being another face of an endless slideshow of bullshit indistinguishable from any other element of it is real. Yet this doesn’t mean that we can’t and shouldn’t try to communicate it a way that can actually be heard.

    This inability to experiment with effective forms of communication is further entrenched by much of the Left’s not so hidden belief that people are stupid. At a recent meeting to discuss organising against an upcoming G20 meeting the most boring possible name was chosen on the basis that it had to be obviously clear what the group was about. That is that if we don’t call ourselves the group of people explicitly for or against something then the workers will be too dim-witted to get our message. Have these people never seen capitalist advertising or even listened to anyone ever talk about films or music?

    As comrades desert the socialist sects, which are the last incarnation of a now irrelevant party-form, and I hope they do, perhaps one of their areas of experimentation can be around and in contemporary media as a form of communication and propaganda. Who after all needs a party for this? ( See Novara Media ) But I digress.

    The main weaknesses of the mobilisation were organisational and political: or better yet organisational-political. There was neither the collective organisational relations between members or a sufficient understanding of what we are facing and how to fight it.

    The union leaders firmly run the line that the current wave of austerity can be explained solely by the nefarious nature of the LNP. That is if the LNP hadn’t broken its word/ wasn’t beholden to neoliberalism as ideology then no cuts would be implemented, secondly that a change in government will be an end to austerity i.e. the Labor Party will save us. As argued elsewhere (and here) whilst the Queensland Commission of Audit have overstated the level of debt Australian states do face a very real challenge in how they can fund social reproduction. Global capitalism is, you know, in crisis and this actually matters. But the entire political discourse in Australia operates as if the global economic crisis hasn’t happened/ in a paranoid state about the decline of demand for mineral resources in China.

    Of course trying to talk about capitalism in any public way is a challenge as much of the language needed to do so finds very little traction. But again it is a necessary challenge.

    Firstly to fail to point out how the current austerity is a product of systematic global crisis means that we further deepen illusions and raise hopes of the viability of some form of desirable life in capitalism. This means that if the crisis deepens we are even less prepared with how to resist.

    It also retards the development of an appropriate vision of an alternative propagating the notion that some kind of continuation of the welfare state in its current post-social democratic form is possible. It’s increasingly likely that it isn’t. It seems likely that the growth of Australian capitalism is slowing and these the difficulties in funding social reproduction will probably intensify.

    Thus we are compelled to confront the possibility that simple defensive politics is impossible –rather that the response to austerity needs to be the generation of a radical alternative that can both meet the challenges of holding together a decent and dignified form of living and creating the forms of living for a radical different and better society. (But these have to be concrete and real)

    Secondly the only alternative that the leadership offers is an electoral one: which means the ALP and at the rally speeches quickly shifted from state to federal politics and the fear of a Coalition victory. Now undoubtedly the recently elected Coalition government will undermine legal working conditions, the powers of unions and impose cuts and reductions in social services? But how is that a) substantially different from an ALP government b) how would an ALP victory relate to working class self-activity?

    More than this considering their recent drubbing it is unlikely that the ALP will win Federal or state elections anytime soon. Thus what appears to be the most reasonable strategy is rather an illusionary unlikelihood. Frankly I doubt we will be ‘voting out Campbell Newman in two years.’

    Not only that the ALP is so shit it couldn’t even organise a presence at the rally – neither did surprisingly the socialist sects. Thus it was only Katter’s Australia Party which had any open representation – and a free BBQ too. No surprise why right-wing populism is doing so well ( I wrote this pre-election and I am surprised how poorly the KAP did)

    All that the union offers its membership then is a politics of fear – fear that things will be worse under Abbot. As Badiou has pointed out the political Right offers fear and the Left offers ‘fear of the fear (2008, p. 17).

    The content of these politics on the ground then is pathetic – yearly rallies. The unions marched out the membership last year, then marched them home as 14,000 jobs were lost. Is it any surprise then that the vast bulk of the membership don’t respond to another rally? What’s the fucking point? Also what needs to be grasped is that rallies have become part of a practice of defeat. Ever since the anti-war movement the evidence should be obvious. Struggles built around rallies don’t do anything. People aren’t idiots; they have seen this in practice. The call by groups like Socialist Alternative for rally after rally after rally whatever the issue might be great for gathering people in a geographical area to sell papers to and try to recruit but is a terrible idea from a class perspective– it doesn’t take into account the actual historical experience of the Australian working class.

    skippy… defective me here… how do you engage in political warfare with A-political organizations… cough… Corporations. It would seem, taking a ideological perspective is a form of self induced hamstringing.

  18. skippy

    Mineral resources and the limits to growth

    by Ugo Bardi, originally published by Cassandra’s legacy | Sep 27, 2013

    So, ladies and gentleman, let me start with this recent book of mine. It is titled “The Plundered Planet.” You can surely notice that it is not titled “The Developed Planet” or “The Improved Planet.” Myself and the coauthors of the book chose to emphasize the concept of “Plundering”; of the fact that we are exploiting the resources of our planet as if they were free for us for the taking; that is, without thinking to the consequences. And the main consequence, for what we are concerned here is called “depletion,” even though we have to keep in mind the problem of pollution as well.

    Now, there have been many studies on the question of depletion, but “The Plundered Planet” has a specific origin, and I can show it to you. Here it is.

    It is the rather famous study that was published in 1972 with the title “The Limits to Growth”. It was one of the first studies that attempted to quantify depletion and its effects on the world’s economic system. It was a complex study based on the best available data at the time and that used the most sophisticated computers available to study how the interaction of various factors would affect parameters such as industrial production, agricultural production, population and the like. Here are the main results of the 1972 study, the run that was called the “base case” (or “standard run”). The calculations were redone in 2004, finding similar results.

    As you can see, the results were not exactly pleasant to behold. In 1972, the study saw a slowdown of the world’s main economic parameters that would take place within the first two decades of the 21st century. I am sure that you are comparing, in your minds, these curves with the present economic situation and you may wonder whether these old calculations may be turning out to be incredibly good. But I would also like to say that these curves are not – and never were – to be taken as specific predictions. No one can predict the future, what we can do is to study tendencies and where these tendencies are leading us. So, the main result of the Limits to Growth study was to show that the economic system was headed towards a collapse at some moment in the future owing to the combined effect of depletion, pollution, and overpopulation. Maybe the economic problems we are seeing nowadays are a prelude to the collapse seen by this model, maybe not – maybe the predicted collapse is still far away in the future. We can’t say right now.

    In any case, the results of the study can be seen at least worrisome. And a reasonable reaction when the book came out in 1972 would have been to study the problem more in depth – nobody wants the economy to collapse, of course. But, as you surely know, the Limits to Growth study was not well received. It was strongly criticized, accused of having made “mistakes” of all kinds and at times to be part of a worldwide conspiracy to take control of the world and to exterminate most of humankind. Of course, most of this criticism had political origins. It was mostly a gut reaction: people didn’t like these results and sought to find ways to demonstrate that the model was wrong (or the data, or the approach, or something else). If they couldn’t do that, they resorted to demonizing the authors – that’s nothing now; I described it in a book of mine “Revisiting the limits to growth”.

    Nevertheless, there was a basic criticism of the “Limits” study that made sense. Why should one believe in this model? What are exactly the factors that generate the expected collapse? Here, I must say, the answer often given in the early times by the authors and by their supporters wasn’t so good. What the creators of the models said was that the model made sense according to their views and they could show a scheme that was this (from the 1972 Italian edition of the book):

    skippy… what is the enabling mechanism, that sets a species, to Cognitively dismiss…. such achingly obvious data… sigh~

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