Links 10/12/13

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Israel conference: Cavemen discovered recycling PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Deadly bacteria vibrio can kill with little warning CBS

New finding shows climate change can happen in a geological instant PhysOrg (Francois T)

Fine-Tuning Our Knowledge About Hormone Replacement Therapy Patient Safety Blog. I was in Oz when the big study referenced in this piece was released, and Australian doctors were much less alarmed by it than Americans. Even though the % increase in certain conditions seemed large, the absolute incidence still was not large. The press discussed weighing a patient’s total risk factors rather than going the route more common in the US, of severely discouraging long-term use.

T-Mobile to eliminate international fees for data, text, continues to break industry practices Washington Post

Google to Sell Users’ Endorsements New York Times

Lost in Germany: Spanish Jobseekers Lured with False Promises Der Spiegel

The Battle over Ecuador’s Oil Takes a New Twist China Dialogue (Triple Crisis)

Shutdown Showdown (note dueling headlines)

Republicans Narrow Demands for Increasing U.S. Debt Limit Bloomberg

Divide Narrows as Talks to Resolve Fiscal Crisis Go On New York Times

Obama sets stage for frantic budget talks Financial Times

GOP scrambles after Obama pans House plan Washington Post

Shutdown arrives in North Carolina with standoff at the saloon door Guardian (Carol B)

Shutdown starts to bite for US businesses Financial Times

Shutdown furloughs about to hit nuclear safety agency CNN (furzy mouse)

Financial Regulator Shutdown, Halts Investigations of Wall Street Crimes Real News Network. Of course Obama shut down the CFTC, so as to limit the good Gary Gensler could do in his last days in office.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Findings versus Law: “The Intelligence Community Does Not Task Itself” Marcy Wheeler

The NSA and the Emancipatory Limits of Legal Liberalism CounterPunch (Carol B)

Some families left out in the cold by Obamacare CNN

Health-care site confuses insurers, too Washington Post

Greek neo-Nazi group ‘Golden Dawn’ opens two new chapters in U.S. Raw Story

Jefferson County, Ala., Seeks to Change Debt Pact Wall Street Journal

A Ransacked Endowment at New York City Opera New York Times

Widow to Sue Over Fatal Shooting of Husband, 80, by Sheriff’s Deputies KTLA

Mark Zuckerberg buys four houses near his Palo Alto home San Jose Mercury News (Chuck L)

Global wealth inequality: top 1% own 41%; top 10% own 86%; bottom half own just 1% Michael Roberts (Carol B)

Welfare Isn’t Too Generous—Wages Are Too Low Economic Policy Institute (Carol B)

JPMorgan’s Dimon Posts First Loss on $7.2 Billion Legal Cost Bloomberg

Wells Fargo record profit belies mortgage slump Financial Times

Kind of a Clown Show Tim Duy

Cambodia’s Unseen Horrors by Richard Bernstein New York Review of Books (Lambert)

The US, 2011-13, and Germany, 1930-33 History Unfolding. Chuck L: “Nearly a week old, and thus some of it is out of date, but I think Kaiser’s analysis of the likely decline of the Tea Party is insightful. However I also believe that the First World War was a much closer-run thing than he makes out. If the German Army had adopted in 1917 the infiltration tactics they used a year later when they almost broke through, the French Army most likely have collapsed. By then, however, the growing American presence was enough to hold the line and ultimately turn them back.”

Antidote du jour. This is Zoe, and her human is named Barbara:

Zoe upside down in window

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    1. skippy

      Evidence of where Schrodinger’s cat really is… cat… who is Schrodinger… is he as real… as the sun on my belly?

      1. CB

        If the cat is still in the box, it’s dead, unfortunately. Altho, rightfully considered, 78 is an unrealistic life span for a cat, even a quantum cat.

    2. darms

      “Life is more interseting when viewed upside down” is an opinion frequently expressed by our 4 kitties…

  1. Foppe

    Probably the most unexpected bit of news in a while: Arafat poisoning claim backed by the Lancet

    One of the world’s leading medical journals has supported the possibility that Yasser Arafat, the longtime Palestinian leader, was poisoned with the radioactive element polonium 210.

    The British The Lancet journal has published a peer review of last year’s research by Swiss scientists on Arafat’s personal effects.

    It endorsed their work, which found high levels of the highly radioactive element in blood, urine, and saliva stains on the Palestinian leader’s clothes and toothbrush.

    1. susan the other

      I’ve been wondering what happened to the report on this investigation. Wasn’t it conducted in France? Why the Lancet, I wonder. So this looks like they can’t blame the Russians. Or?

  2. Paul Tioxon

    New geological findings about instant karma climate doom. Well, no sooner than Thom Hartmann puts out a 10 minute film, and then there is some notice being taken about the geologists corroborating evidence about global warming, climate change and the driving engine of CO2 released triggering the secular rapture. Maybe we can become fanatical zealots with our own end times narrative causing millions to throng to the cause of overthrowing the carbon economy. Michele Bachman, eat my theories!!

    1. Susan the other

      I hope this doesn’t get misinterpreted. The result is still the same: catastrophe. Whether it happens suddenly by meteor, or suddenly by collapse after 300 years of CO2 abuse.

    2. davidgmills

      Reposting from yesterday’s links:

      An inconvenient fact — from the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

      This summer, Arctic sea ice loss was held in check by relatively cool and stormy conditions. As a result, 2013 saw substantially more ice at summer’s end, compared to last year’s record low extent. The Greenland Ice Sheet also showed less extensive surface melt than in 2012. Meanwhile, in the Antarctic, sea ice reached the highest extent recorded in the satellite record.

      I want to repeat that last sentence: Meanwhile, in the Antarctic, sea ice reached the highest extent recorded in the satellite record.

      The overall ice of the world has been remarkably stable for the last 20 years or so. Artic ice has been declining but overall Antarctic ice (which is much bigger ice sheet than Arctic ice) has been increasing despite a certain part of Antarctica (always reported on) having lost some ice.

          1. Paul Tioxon

            Then, scientists will extract a single 3,400-meter core that will provide an unprecedented look at how the Earth’s climate has changed in the last 100,000 years.

            To perform such a feat, the WAIS Divide team had to design and build a custom coring machine—no existing technology could be adapted to the harsh environment and exacting scientific specifications. So, in 2002, a team of engineers and technicians from the University of Wisconsin-Madison built the Deep Ice Sheet Coring (DISC) drill, a unique machine capable of cutting and extracting 122mm-wide cores from the 4000-meter deep bowls of an ice sheet.

            The drill assembly includes a sonde, cable, tower, and winch. The sonde is the 2.7 meter-long cutting head, consisting of four rotating bits that act to shave a solid core from the surrounding sheet. This is lowered into the shaft via the 15mm-thick cable, where it cuts out an eight-foot long core, 12.2-cm wide. When the sonde is retracted, it breaks the core off at its base and pulls it back up the shaft, where it is extracted from the machine. From there, the cores are packed and shipped—quickly—to the NICL’s main archive freezer in Denver, CO, a massive 55,000 square foot cold locker that never warms above -36 C.

            It took five years of drilling (in 45 day stretches during the Antarctic summer) to reach the record-setting mark of 3,405 meters. The previous deepest US bore was a Greenland plunge of 3,053 meters, on July 1, 1993. “Not only is this the deepest ice core ever drilled by the U.S., but the fact that we have reached our target depth for this season means that the project is…on schedule,” said Julie Palais, program manager for Antarctic Glaciology in the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs. The overall deep drilling record, however—a 3,701-meter bore at the eastern Antarctica Vostok Station—belongs to Russia.



      1. susan the other

        One of the information bits is that high levels of CO2 trigger glaciations. That is actually more devastating than gradual global warming. So there is no argument from either side. Neither excess heat nor excess cold, because each imbalance is triggered by excess CO2 in the atmosphere.

        1. davidgmills

          Or glaciation and warming may be triggered by increases and decreases in cosmic radiation. Which is another theory gaining lots of ground.

        1. davidgmills

          And you no doubt went out and measured the thickness of it.

          I will just stick with the National Snow and Ice Data’ Center’s numbers, if you have no objection.

          1. Paul Tioxon

            All of the climate and geological research incorporate ice core samples. They drill down into the ice, deep into the ice. It just so happens, they record how deep. They have been doing this for decades. So yea, people, personally, went out onto the icepacks and measured how thick they are. It is part of the measurement of climate and other phenomena to measure at what layer various elements, chemical compounds, radioactivity, Pepsi aluminum soda tabs, etc. do occur. That’s how there can be any meaningful discussions at all about climate history, by measuring the age of the appearance and at what level these appearances first occur. Does that make sense? You do understand that the nature of empiricism is measurement. Spatial and temporal measurements, mass, velocity, that kind of thing.

          2. skippy

            You have not even begun to understand the complexity involved, the fact you pander singular data points is indicative of that ability. When you can attack the whole of what the data indicates then, you have an arguable retort.

            Skippy… do you realize the amount of scientific fields that are converging on this issue and still expanding, its massive. Yet you feel vindicated by anecdotal scarps of data…. shezz… come and get them Darwin…

  3. Jim S

    Re: Tea Party-Nazi Party parallels, quite agree with Chuck L about the German chances absent US intervention. Furthermore, as the case of the Lusitania eventually proved, the US was at some level supporting Britain and France in violation of neutrality, calling into question Kaiser’s assertion of foolishness on the part of the German leadership and of benevolence on the part of Wilson. On the topic of WW1, I’ve heard of a recent book (title and author escape me) which pins the Serbian refusal of Austrian terms on the encouragement of the French, who were apparently were looking for round 3 of the Franco-Prussian wars just as the Germans were. To reinforce an assertion I made a few days ago, WW1 has long been portrayed as an accident, the product of a too-tightly wired international system, but recent scholarship seems to indicate that war was an intended outcome.

    To get back to the Tea Party, the angle Kaiser ignores is the likelihood that it is an invention of the likes of the Kochs. Are its actions really the product of the illogical rage and angst of aging Boomers, or is it doing exactly what it’s intended to do? I quite like Kaiser’s analysis of the reason behind the shutdown, but what we expect to follow is quite different if we believe that historical events are largely accidental or if we believe that they are largely intented outcomes caused by not-entirely-incompetent actors.

    1. David Lentini

      Re, the Kochs and the other <= 1%, I think people often ignore or overlook the close ties between Hitler, the Nazis, and the German oligarchs, who (foolishly), like the Kochs and other billionaires, thought they could control the Nazis to run the country and crush the communists. Of course, it all started out great—-the not-so-secret German rearmament in the '30s was a great deal for the rich, who only had to pretend to be part of Hitler's great "socialism". Of course, they soon paid the price.

      But I suspect we have ignore their actions as part of the great post-war rehabilitation of the Germans, whom we needed for the Cold War, just as we've largely ignored the treasonous behavior of our own 1%'ers during the '30s and even during WW II.

      1. Susan the other

        Just to state the tragedy again: Why is it that for eons, not just this last century, we have not discovered an economic system that provides for, and grows equitably, for everyone? Big question. The answers have all been political rationalizations. Capitalism was supposed to be the answer in 1945. Communism in the 20s. Free trade, the latest nonsense, is a joke since there is no free market, etc. All human economic planning has been top down, trickle down, but never bottom up and based on actual reality. I agree that Zoe has discovered the best angle to view humans.

      1. anon y'mouse

        so they are the aspiring, or wanna-be elite.

        this crew, in any social organization, can often be worse than the Actual Thing they are aspiring to.

        also, this crew is very active in oppressing the people under them as means of differentiation from them, and because hey, who knew—it’s profitable to sell crappy housing developments & stuff.

        rats scrambling on top of each other on a sinking ship.

      2. Jim S

        Thank you for the link. Highly worthy of appearing in tomorrow’s links.

        Susan the other, perhaps Zoe is something of a calvinist?

      3. Whistling in the Dark

        And, yet, if the Union had just left the South to its own devices back in 1860…
        Well, then, the problems facing the country may only be the problems of that problematic region?
        Maybe next time they try to secede “y’all” should let ’em go.

  4. Jim Haygood

    From the ‘Ransacked Endowment’ story:

    In what appears to have been panic selling, the City Opera board sold all the equities in the opera’s endowment and moved to cash in October 2008, as the stock market was plunging to new lows, and stayed in cash during 2009, as the market recovered and surged upward.

    This scenario is fairly rare in institutional investment. In organizations where the board sets a portfolio policy (e.g., 60% equities and 40% bonds), the investment manager lacks the discretion to just bail out in a panic.

    Of course, the U.S. pension scheme with the largest number of beneficiaries — Soc Sec — is bailed out of equities all the time, permanently crippling its returns. This keeps geezers (at least those without corporate or individual retirement funds) poor, barefoot and hungry.

    Amazing that the U.S. contributed Nobel prize winners in portfolio theory such as Harry Markowitz, Merton Miller, and William Sharpe, yet their own country shuns their wisdom as if they never existed. This is social tragedy writ large.

  5. Jim A

    nb on WWI tactics. At some level, the infiltration tactics of 1918 worked because of all the attrition (much of it artillery driven) in 1914-1916. If the front lines were as heavily manned in 1918 as they were in 1916, they wouldn’t have worked as well. But neither side had as much manpower nor wanted to lose it in an extended artillery barrage.

  6. scott

    Wilson wanted the US involved in the Great War from the beginning, even though he ran in 1916 on keeping Ameraica out of the war. Once he got re-elected, he could make it look like America had no choice but to get involved, but in reality it was his personal will to form the League of Nations and get is “14 points” dream fulfilled that got the US involved.

    The French army was mostly gone by 1917, and the British were down to using Canadian and Australian draftees. It was Wilson’s pressure that kept the war going until US troops arrived (with the flu).

    1. 12312399

      woodrow wilson was America’s first neocon aka “liberal” interventionist.

      pretty much set the blueprint on how to sell war/spreading freedom to the American.

    2. Roland

      Too much Great War revisionism on this thread so far.

      German advances in 1918 were partly due to infiltration tactics, but also partly due to the 3:2 numerical superiority the Germans enjoyed after they transferred divsions from east to West after Russia dropped out of the war. In the spring of 1918 the Germans had a greater numerical superiority on the Western front than either side had ever possessed on that front up to that time.

      Even the infiltration tactics themselves were indirectly dependent on possessing a heavy numerical superiority for a period of months before the offensive opened. The Germans only trained a selected subset of their units to practice the new tactics. The training was made possible by pulling some of their best units out of the line. They could only pull units out of the line for long enough to train because they were transferring many divisions to the West from the East. They held the line with the transferred divisions, while rotating out their best units to retrain.

      Therefore it would have been a physical impossibility for Germany to stage their 1918-style offensive in 1917. Note as well that the German force that attacked in the 1918 offensives was “brittle.” Most of the attacking had to be done with selected units with the best morale. Losses among those units were heavy, which left a residuum of lower quality troops.

      The French Army was not “used up.” Throughout 1917-18 the French continued to occupy more of the Western Front than the rest of their allies put together. In 1918 the French carried out over half of the Allied counteroffensives which forced the Germans to sue for peace.

      If you read Hindenburg’s memoirs, you will find that even in 1918 the German high command regarded the French as the most dangerous offensive threat from the Allied armies. It is interesting, too, to read Guderian in his “Achtung Panzer” crediting the French counterattack at Soissons as the final turning point on the Western front.

      The high command politics on both sides were very complicated. Part of the saga of high command intrigue on the Allied side concerned the question of a unified command on the Western Front. Haig spent most of 1917 resisting the idea, so he found it was to his advantage to emphasize the relative weakening of the French (i.e. why subordinate his stronger force to the weaker French?). Haig also used the meme of French weakness in order to pressure the British cabinet to maintain his absolute priority for all reinforcements.

      Petain also liked to emphasize the supposed weakness of his army, because he wanted to consolidate his own control over the French army. By pleading weakness, he could refuse his government’s demand for renewed offensive action and thus reduce political interference in his command. This would also fend off Foch and his political allies in the capital. Heaping more discredit on his predecessor Nivelle didn’t hurt Petain’s own position in command. Besides, Petain wanted the British (and eventually the Americans) to carry more of the brunt.

      In other words, both the British and the French commanders on the Western Front found it to their advantage to over-plead the weakness of the French armies in 1917.

      Narratives born of the intrigues of the time continue to colour our own historical understanding.

  7. financial matters

    Jefferson County, Ala., Seeks to Change Debt Pact Wall Street Journal

    “”the 658,000-resident county has laid off employees, shut down rural courthouses and closed a county-owned hospital for the poor.””


    Conspiracy of Banks Rigging States Came With Cash

    By Martin Z. Braun and William Selway


    “”A telephone call between a financial adviser in Beverly Hills and a trader in New York was all it took to fleece taxpayers on a water-and-sewer financing deal in West Virginia. The secret conversation was part of a conspiracy stretching across the U.S. by Wall Street banks in the $2.8 trillion (the above article puts this figure at $3.7 trillion) municipal bond market.””

    “”Court records in the broadest-ever criminal investigation of public finance shed new light on how Wall Street’s biggest banks were cheating cities and towns during the same decade in which they were setting the stage for a global economic collapse.

    As the banks were steering the world’s financial system to the brink of catastrophe by loading more than $1 trillion of subprime mortgage loans into opaque debt investments, they were also duping public officials across the U.S.””

    “”In the past decade, banks have peddled swaps the world over, from Jefferson County, Alabama — which was forced to the brink of bankruptcy — to the hill towns of the Umbria region of Italy. Many of these swaps soured when the credit crisis began in 2007″”

    “They were gouging the municipalities,” said retired IRS investigator Anderson, 59. “Beside the excessive fees, some of the swap deals just didn’t work. It was just awful.

    Bid rigging not only cheated cities and towns, it also illegally denied the IRS required taxes.””

    For nearly a decade, CDR founder Rubin (not that Rubin), Wolmark, and Zarefsky helped fix prices on investment deals that cheated taxpayers in at least 34 states, according to their indictments and records filed in the case.””

    “”“It’s just raw greed at the expense of the most vulnerable,” he said in a telephone interview. “With deteriorating facilities all over the state, that money is what we use to build schools.”””

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Conspiracy? Nah! That’s foil-hatter talk, to be ridiculed and scorned whenever it comes up. Otherwise, the 99% will start seeing the c-word everywhere they look, banks laundering cartel loot, CIA drug money, rigging LIBOR, gambling FDIC accounts, manipulating gold and other commodities, fixing utility rates, quashing OWS, etc. Next they’ll suspect massive surveillance, false pretexts for wars, funding al-Qaeda, and so on. It won’t be long before they start questioning official accounts about JFK, 911, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and you name it. They’ll start thinking that the US gov is a big criminal racket, working for JPM, Goldman, and Citi. No the word conspiracy has to be treated as silly, only something fools like Alex Jones would use.

      1. Glenn Condell

        ‘The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.’


  8. Bunk McNulty

    re: Shutdown arrives in North Carolina with standoff at the saloon door.

    “I dont hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark: I dont. I dont! I dont hate it! I dont hate it!”

    –Absalom, Absalom

  9. diptherio

    Struggling with Precarity: From More and Better Jobs to Less and Lesser Work ~The Disorder of Things

    …precarity started out as a reaction against the “rigidities” of factory, family and Fordist management styles. It was originally an expression of a certain social desire for autonomy and self-determination in work and life. Only later, when the “rigidities” of the Keynesian era were dismantled and replaced with more flexible management styles, which seemed to speak to the general desire for stimulating work, collective participation, and creative action but, in fact, only gave a “human” facelift to a corporate culture whose first priority was to “do more with less,” did a non-linear professional life become a source of threat and insecurity. None of the changes introduced in labor relations during the post-Fordist period did anything to address the material foundation of worker “dissatisfaction” (the puzzle that had so troubled sociologists and policy-makers in the 70s). On the contrary, they were designed in such a way as to evade the re-distribution of wealth and power at the workplace, as if alienation were a problem of psychology, not social organization.


    If we cannot return to old forms of regulation and securitization, could we perhaps push the contradictions of the present into a future where flexibility and contingency are an expression of security rather than a form of punishment?

    Intimations of such a politics have recently appeared in the dissident corners of the Left Internet, like the Jacobin in New York or Novara Media in London. Taking their cue from the Italian Autonomia and the lesser-known French social philosopher, André Gorz, we find here a call for a “politics of less and lesser work,” as Kathi Weeks calls it. A society that is organized around work but does everything in its power to eliminate work can only avoid barbarism if it ceases to make paid, productive work the sole measure of individual worth and social value. The idea is not to transcend work wholesale, not even economical work and especially not reproductive work, but to appropriate the savings made in labor time to allow people to work less, collectively determine the content and purpose of their work, and ultimately become more than just workers. [empahsis added]

    File Under: when life gives you lemons…

    1. Susan the other

      Great comment Diptherio. And for our first act, nobody could possible put our requirements better than you just did: “If we cannot return to the old forms of regulation and securitization, could be perhaps push the contradictions of the present into a future where flexibility and contingency are an expression of security rather than punishment?”

    2. taunger

      Thanks for the excerpt – I’ll have to read all that, too. This is an idea that I have gestated since high school. It has always seemed obvious that late-capitalism had enough for nearly all, if not all, but couldn’t find a good distributive metric. Obviously, market based metrics fail, consistently. But generally, that failure is described from within them semantic system of markets – this gets outside that and points to other systems of value. I like that.

    3. fresno dan

      “A society that is organized around work but does everything in its power to eliminate work can only avoid barbarism if it ceases to make paid, productive work the sole measure of individual worth and social value.”

      One of those funny things – everybody is suppose to have a job, but owners of capital have every incentive to eliminate jobs…

      “However, the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by
      31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.4% from 2009 to 2012.
      Hence, the top 1% captured 95% of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery. From 2009 to 2010, top 1% grew fast and then stagnated from 2010 to 2011. Bottom 99% stagnated both from 2009 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2011. In 2012, top 1% incomes increased sharply by 19.6% while
      bottom 99% incomes grew only by 1.0%. In sum, top 1% incomes are close to full recovery while bottom 99% incomes have hardly started to recover.”

      Another funny thing is that the few jobs that exist are suppose to supply people with sufficient income to keep the economy going…you know, demand equals supply or supply equals demand, competition will lower prices to match wages, or wages increase when productivity increases, etcetera and all that.

      Funny how it doesn’t actually work…. So many funny things….does Jerry Seinfeld run the economy?

      1. craazyboy

        Not that it couldn’t work

        The big sticky wicket here is the rich aren’t spending enough. Now say something like car catapulting* became popular and we got our economy and employment moving again?

        * The rich fellow says he decided against catapulting dead horses – because the English are sentimental about them. Same could be said about midget tossing in the US, I would imagine.

    4. JTFaraday

      Boy, these British graduate students are waaay ahead of us in terms of the stages of grief for our lost “culture of jobs-ism.” I’ve been schooled!

      I’m going to have to disagree with our own local anti-work ideologue, Peter Frase of the Jacobin however, when he suggests that a universal basic income guarantee necessarily leads in the direction of communist utopia:

      I could easily see Americans using their “utopian” social welfare safety nets, including a universal basic income, to become some sort of petit bourgeois business person and—who knows?—even future Teahadist counter-revolutionaries who pull the ladder up behind them, (although I would hope they could manage to be a little more self aware than that). It’s what they’re conditioned to think to do.

      The desire to maintain control, including ideological control, over the population and to mediate between the citizenry and the state like plantation overseers (and like corporations themselves) is, I suspect, the reason why labor based liberal and left ideologues—the “vertical trade unions” that are anathema to David Graeber, many of Frase’s socialist fellows, Lord Keynesian full employment public policy entrepreneurs, etc—do not also come out supporting social welfare policies that might be productive of increased personal autonomy for at least some portion of the current job-dependent population.

      But the bottom line is that, apart from the overseers, the only people who benefit from the maintenance of a mass pool of people who can only be and only know how to be employees, is incumbent employers.

      So, I am still looking for a new “New Left.” One that can manage to stay grounded in the social question.

  10. Ulysses

    “Diego Lopez fervently hopes he might end up with a job in the promised land after all. His money is almost gone. And the €150 for his German course in Spain, airfare, rail travel and accommodation that the agents promised would be reimbursed to him by the German government? He’ll probably never see any of it.”

    No story better represents the complete inhumanity of our global economic “system” than this one linked to by Der Spiegel. For those with sufficient capital, opportunities abound. For the rest of us with nothing but the will to work hard, hunger and despair are always waiting.

    1. diptherio

      This experience is not at all uncommon for ‘third-world’ migrant workers. The Nepali newspapers regularly carry stories about the depredations of labor-recruiting agencies in that country. Looks like the disease is spreading to the (formerly) first-world as well…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Link: Welfare isn’t too generous; wages are too low.

      The best defense is offense.

      Raising wages is a partial solution.

      We want the solution, the whole solution and nothing but the solution.

      At Goldman, paying low wages not enough to live on is not a problem. Addressing low wages is good (it takes on the lower rungs of the 0.01%, for example, fast food franchise owners), but not enough, as it lets more pompous, arrogant corporations off the hook.

      Only wealth tax and GDP sharing – doing away with the problem of low wages structurally – can do that; otherwise, it’s a partial solution designed to kabuki your focus away, hoping you will soon forget the real problem which is likely to flare up with the next expected counter-offensive by the 0.01% through food and energy (but not wages, which is core, i.e. the only thing that matter) inflation.

      In fact, it’s the mission of the Fed to fight rising wages, but never food and energy (they are non-core).

      There is your structural issue.

      So, get on the offensive. Wealth tax and GDP sharing NOW.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Hormone therapy.

    Perhaps you’re right, Yves. I look up life expectancy and for Australians, it’s about 81 in 2011 and for Americans and white Americans, it’s about 78. Maybe they do something right down under, or more likely, we are doing something wrong here.

    1. Optimader


      Is a ~3% difference in longevity statically significant? I believe Australia has less than10% of the population of the US and i would expect a much narrower population diversity. Hugely different sample set, no?

    2. MolonLabe

      The Women’s Health Initiative should be discredited and shut down–what practitioner would give human females horse estrogen and synthetic progesterone with today’s knowledge? Can we please see some studies with Estradiol (preferably with Estriol) and real Progesterone?

  12. anon y'mouse

    on Captain Caveman recycling:

    “similar responses to the challenges and opportunities presented by life over thousands of years.”

    no, no and NO. what we have now is the total inverse of what they had then. what they discuss is what all cultures would term “reuse” mainly. if something wears out, find a new purpose for it.

    recycling is to combat a waste stream caused by mass production, and using things mostly once (or for one purpose) and then tossing them when they are not useful for that one thing, as they are not useful for much else.

    we need to be learning more from the caveman. if it is to be used once (food wrappers, containers) then it needs to be made out of banana leaves, sisal, straw or cottonwood and then biodegraded. if not, then it needs to be made of something easily turned into something else (hint: NOT plastic). if neither is possible, it needs to be something that is easily remanufactured (glass, metals).

    1. Susan the other

      Right. It’s a stretch to put it in terms of recycling. There was no planned obsolescence in in the paleolithic. But it does hit the mark for sustainability. Funny how culture is so durable. Like DNA.

  13. kimyo

    The IMF Proposes A 10% Supertax On All Eurozone Household Savings

    This is a story that should raise an eyebrow or two on every single face in Europe, and beyond. I saw the first bits of it on a Belgian site named, whose writers in turn had stumbled upon an article in French newspaper Le Figaro, whose writer Jean-Pierre Robin had leafed through a brand new IMF report (yes, there are certain linguistic advantages in being Dutch, Canadian AND Québecois). In the report, the IMF talks about a proposal to tax everybody’s savings, in the Eurozone. Looks like they just need to figure out by how much.

    The IMF, I’m following Mr. Robin here, addresses the issue of the sustainability of the debt levels of developed nations, Europe, US, Japan, which today are on average 110% of GDP, or 35% more than in 2007. Such debt levels are unprecedented, other than right after the world wars. So, the Fund reasons, it’s time for radical solutions.

    imf: “The tax rates needed to bring down public debt to pre-crisis levels, moreover, are sizable: reducing debt ratios to end-2007 levels would require (for a sample of 15 euro area countries) a tax rate of about 10 percent on households with positive net wealth.”

    1. Glenn Condell

      ‘So, the Fund reasons, it’s time for radical solutions’

      Yeah real radical that. Can ‘solutions’ which further impoverish the many and enrich the few ever be truly radical? Radical perhaps in the sense of ‘outrageous’ but radical in the sense of ‘out of left field’? After Cyprus?

      Have they managed to defang and domesticate the word radical as they’ve done, tragically. with ‘reform’? What next? Truth, beauty, reality? All for sale?

      ‘a tax rate of about 10 percent on households with positive net wealth’

      We couldn’t possibly have that. Punish the savers and let the slack-arse debtors off? No no, to be fair we would have to ensure that those underwater (thanks sadly to their inability to avoid being bilked by above-the-law finanzkapital) must pay their share too, eventually. Well let’s face it, probably never, but that shouldn’t stop us turning them and their children into debt peons, it’s only fair.

      Even if it was limited to only those with more than some arbitrary level of wealth in their bank account, the proposal would in effect reward those who were canny and corrupt enough to have already shifted their hill of beans to an offshore address and punish those who had not.

      And, in a dynamic similar to Gresham’s, you can bet that any signal stronger than the current puff of smoke on this would result in those noble souls who had loyally kept their moolah onshore shifting it off with indecent haste, Mach speed in fact.

      A real radical solution… freeze all offshore activity on pain of immediate arrest – Gen Alexander could arrange this before breakfast if he so desired. Do not allow any funds to be repatriated to UN member nations without (a) examination of origin with criminal charges to follow for proceeds of crime, and (b) punitive tax regimens as price paid to be able to actually use these ill-gotten gains.

      32 trillion would surely cover the proposed 10% Eurozone theft, and leftovers could be used to relieve mortgage and student debt. It would be coming from those who can most afford it and provide a salutary lesson to fraudsters of the future.

  14. Susan the other

    Chinadialogue. Re Correa and Ecuador’s oil concessions to China. Endangering the Yusuni National Park and the indigenous people there. Correa says the preservation of the park failed because they were unable to attract donations. And in 2008 the Chinese were the only country that extended them credit when they defaulted on their debt. Under a just economic system, would this happen? It amounts to extortion. Even if China did all the most ecologically sound things to develop the oil, it still requires a sacrifice that cannot be justified. Other sacrifices should be considered, like a ban on manufacturing and driving cars. if China were a true advocate of the environment, this is where to start.

  15. fresno dan

    Kind of a Clown Show Tim Duy

    To me, any discussion of the FED misses the point. To beat a dead horse, here again is the link from Saez:

    The fact of the manner, the discussion shouldn’t even be growing the pie (i.e., GDP growth). The pie is growing. But when people continue to starve, you have to put aside the argument that there isn’t enough pie, and we need bigger pies, when in fact there will NEVER BE ENOUGH
    PIE if the gigantically obese gobble every extra slice.

  16. Bunk McNulty

    “…there is a statute in the U.S. Code that does apply to the Koch brothers and every other conservative that spent the past three years attempting to prohibit implementation of the Affordable Care Act and it is a legitimate and actionable offense the DOJ can prosecute….

    In 18 USC § 2384 – Seditious conspiracy, it plainly says; If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspires to oppose the authority of, or prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

    Of course, no such thing will ever happen. As the DOJ and everyone else knows, laws are for “the little people.”

  17. Doug Terpstra

    Quelle Surprise! In the debt hostage crisis, Obama may pay ransom to the TP/RP after all. (Now who could’ve predicted the unthinkable — capitulation?) Bloomberg and NYT now report that a tentative agreement with “minor adjustments” to ObamneyCare, in exchange for negotiating unspecified deficit/debt reduction measures, may offer a way out of the impasse. I’m shocked, shocked.

    It seems Obama can now kill two birds with one grand betrayal after all. He gets to keep ObamneyCare with its crucial mandates while making it even worse … agreeing to “adjustments” that drop the medical device tax while increasing credit-agency and IRS scrutiny on compulsory low-income conscripts. So he gets to make the monster even more regressive (with great reluctance of course). But in exchange for making it worse, he must then agree (reluctantly again of course) to “other” unspecified deficit/debt reduction measures. See? It’s not that he wants to. He just has no choice.

    Hmm, now I wonder what those debt/deficit-reduction measures might be — let’s think … um … perhaps new taxes on mega-yachts, private jets, islands, royalties on public fracking concessions, inherited fortunes? … how about taxing capital gains at normal income rates? … or hey, I know, lifting the cap on FICA income? These are obvious ideas that almost all Americans would readily support, and I’m sure his faithful progressive supporters will offer even better advice on how he could proceed with (non)negotiations in a sensible and fair-minded way for widespread wellbeing.

    This is all just so suspenseful, wondering, wondering what Obama will do in the end. But at the very least we can hope and believe that he won’t do anything to actually worsen the effects of austerity already inflicted, or do anything that would increase the suffering on Main Street while Wall Street soars. After all, we know that Mr. Obama “is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being [we’ve] ever known in [our lives].”

    1. anon y'mouse


      watched that last night. that period was really the end of american culture, by the way. i just don’t think we realized it yet.

      been zombie patrol ever since.

      notice book on “wall street money men” in one scene. foreshadowing?

    2. craazyboy

      I’ve been wondering about the “unspecified other” in R “negotiations”, too.

      Knowing that the Rs are just once again presenting their “plan” that asserts no tax increases and no cuts to defense and intel, I think we need to make a shorthand acronym to describe what “other” may be.

      Government Organizations Not Associated with Defense Spending


      Then the latestest meeting must have went something like…

      MR BOEHNER – Mr. President. Sir. We are proposing that you cut your GONADS.

      Mr. O – You stay away from my GONADS, Mr Boehner.

      MR BOEHNER – Let me rephrase that, Mr. President. They are not your GONADS. They are America’s GONADS. [Aid plays recorded marching music]

      Mr. O – OK. When you put it like that, I can warm up to what your say’n……

    1. anon y'mouse

      he & David Brooks constantly vie for the Bloviating Bullshitter’s award. i hate to say that my brain shuts off when i hear either of them rather than try to understand what shizz they’re trying to sell me on anymore.

  18. mookie

    Hostage Taking In the Classroom David Sirota, NSFW

    In this standoff, the hostages are public school children. They are being held captive not by a rag tag bunch of Somali buccaneers nor by Tea Party loons with that distinctly wild-eyed serial killer look in their eyes. No, a generation of youngsters is being held instead by pinstriped corporate executives, buttoned-down foundation officers and the local school board officials those aristocrats buy and sell.

    Reminiscent of Hans Gruber’s high-class crew, this smooth-talking team of bandits is armed with billions of dollars of “charitable” – and therefore tax-subsidized – cash from both brand-name corporate behemoths and individual plutocrats like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, insurance magnate Eli Broad, media titan Michael Bloomberg, Enron billionaire John Arnold and Wal-Mart’s Walton family. With school districts refusing to adequately fund their education systems, and with a tax code boosting the plutocrats’ anti-public-school activism, this rogues gallery is now calling the shots – and demanding ransom. If a community pays the ransom by letting these distant marauders do what they want to the local school, then the perpetrators won’t purposely harm any hostages, even though their policies may inadvertently maim a bunch. But if a community defies these moguls’ wishes, then open threats against the cute little hostages commence.

    Why Malcolm Gladwell Matters (And Why That’s Unfortunate) Christopher Chabris

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