Links 10/7/13

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Sponges solve coral reef mystery BBC

Vast streams found beneath Antarctic ice sheet Telegraph

3 Win Joint Nobel Prize in Medicine New York Times

The Hard Numbers on Fracking: Radiation, Toxic Wastewater and Air Pollution Truthout

Paulson leads charge into Greek banks Financial Times

Versilia’s killer incinerator Beppe Grillo

Dozens killed in Egypt on war anniversary Financial Times

Libya Condemns U.S. for Seizing Terror Suspect New York Times

Kerry defends US Libya capture BBC

Two Failed U.S. Raids Moon of Alabama

Syrian disarmament ‘on track’ Guardian

Shutdown Showdown:

Boy Flies to Las Vegas Without Ticket, TSA Blames Government Shutdown Gawker. Don’t get ideas.

Wishing for US debt ceiling train wreck Walter Kurtz

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot Wall Street Journal Bang-Query-Bang-Query: Is This Some Strange Berkeley Acid Trip I Am on? Weblogging Brad DeLong

Boehner, White House harden stances as shutdown continues, potential default nears Washington Post

John Boehner, Dems posture and dare Politco

A U.S. Default Seen as Catastrophe Dwarfing Lehman’s Fall Bloomberg

If The GOP Forces The US To Default, Obama Should Raise The Debt Ceiling Himself Henry Blodget, Clusterstock

Shutdown Spectacle: ‘America Is Already Politically Bankrupt’ Der Spiegel

Part time jobs and Affordable Care Act Dan Crawford, Angry Bear

Drug firms paid to attend meeting of FDA panel Washington Post

Gold Befuddles Bernanke as Central Banks’ Losses at $545 Billion Bloomberg

Raise your hand if you know how the Treasury’s payment systems work… Anyone? FT Alphaville

The Punishers Want To Run The Country or We Are All Tipped Waitstaff Now No More Mister Nice Blog (Brad DeLong). This sounds directionally correct. In Australia, at least when I lived there, people weren’t keen about tipping because it was seen as demeaning. I even had a couple of cab drivers refuse a tip.

Rich People Just Care Less Daniel Coleman, New York Times (Mark Thoma)

The problem of ownership Frances Coppola, Pieria

Antidote du jour:

amusing_animal_world (20)

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  1. sd

    Today´s photo reminds me of Tanta’s steel toed bunny slippers.

    PS Sent $100 to keep them both fed.

  2. k

    Folks, do please read the Jay Porter link in DeLong’s piece about tipping. Porter’s entire series (including several post-scripts) on running his tipless restaurant is well-worth the read. True whether or not you were once a server.

    1. witty handle

      Thank you for your comment – it made me click through to the Porter series, which I found to be really interesting on many levels. One minor, friendly correction, though – the article is not by Brad DeLong, it’s by a blogger calling him/herself aimai, who in turn seems to be a guest blogger for “SteveM” at nomoremisterniceblog. In fact I can’t tell what the connection to DeLong is, but I infer he may have been the originally referring source to NC.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        “Brad DeLong” is in parens. That means it’s a hat tip. Authors are listed, when I can find them, before the name of the blog (“DS Wright, Firedoglake”). The writer makes it very hard to find his/her name on the site.

  3. Goin' South

    It amuses me how such radically different levels of concern are applied to The Sequester, The Shutdown and The Default by Very Serious People.

    The first two are viewed by these commentators as no big deal. After all, it’s only that poor and middle class people are not receiving monies or services they’re depending upon. These two reductions in government payments and services can go on indefinitely because the poor and middle class can dine on road kill and camp out under overpasses if necessary.

    On the other hand, if the rich must wait for even one additional second for their payments from the Feds, the space-time fabric itself will be rent in two.

    1. financial matters

      Great point. And the threat of number 3 makes more of numbers 1 and 2 possible, similar to the passage of TARP. It’s true that US Treasuries are the glue that holds much of the global economy together but unfortunately this is fundamentally flawed. It should be jobs and education/trained workers and basic science research that is the glue of the world economy. These austerity measures are gutting the latter while putting their faith in the financial sector. Similar to Paulson leading the charge into Greek banks when the charge should be to build their infrastructure and prevent further privatization of public resources. (shock doctrine)

      I think the debt ceiling will be raised but unfortunately won’t come with the necessary structural changes and is likely to follow shock doctrine policy.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Blodget – if the GOP forces the US to default – he is one of those serious people.

        Maybe if Obama doesn’t raise the ceiling by himself, we will get ‘real change.’

        No more business as usual.

        First thing – default on all payments to military industrial complex.

    2. MLS

      I get what you’re saying, but the facts don’t really bear that out. Social Security, unemployment, and transfer payments are all going out to anyone eligible before the shutdown began. What’s really been shut down is mostly national parks and monuments. There aren’t a lot of people going without sustenance because of the shutdown.

      Yes, the shutdown is very tough for the 800,000 or so federal workers that were furloughed, but they will at least receive back pay for the time they aren’t working.

        1. MLS

          The house unanimously passed a bill this weekend that will provide back back to furloghed employees. Obama said he will sign it.

      1. mookie

        Well here’s another data point for you: the snack program at my daughter’s school (where 75% of the students qualify for a free lunch) is being shut down.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When we are at 75% qualification rate, we might as well make it universal, meaning 99.99%. The 0.01% do not qualify.

      2. chicagogal

        Those who rely on Social Security and other government programs are ok this month, but if things are pushed into default on the 17th, they won’t have their benefits in November. Believe I’ve read that in several places, but can’t think of which ones right now for links.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There goes the myth of ‘lockbox.’

          Maybe there are still a few living members of the ‘greatest generation’ who will ask of Uncle Sam this: ‘Me or drones?’

  4. Jim Haygood

    From the Moon Over Alabama link:

    A spokesman for Al Shabaab’s military wing, confirmed the U.S. raid and disclosed in a recorded press statement that the militants “repelled a midnight raid by white infidel soldiers.”

    Some Depublicrat politicians likely will take umbrage at our heroic troops being called ‘white infidels.’ What the rest of the world finds offensive is that the U.S. carries out attacks in foreign countries with utter disregard for their sovereignty. Such unprovoked acts of war in Iraq and Afghanistan already cost the U.S. trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. But Uncle Rambozo carries on undaunted.

    Like many pejorative stereotypes, ‘white infidels’ may contain a ring of truth. The evidence of the past 15 years suggests that white infidels are so stupid as to be ineducable. Does being American lower your IQ by 15 percentage points?

    1. JohnDT

      Underestimating our IQ as a monolithic society is so very insulting. But then again, all scientific publications and technological innovation come from Dar-al-Islam, as do enlightened democracies and liberal progressive societies, so you must have a point there.

      A spokesman for Al Shabaab’s military wing (do they have a pro-women-rights wing too?) is as reliable as the NSA’s spokesman and is no doubt a supporter of peaceful protest.

      And why should the US go anywhere? Sovereign dictatorships are cool and left untouched they would never acquire long range missiles, build unconventional weapons or intervene in other nations’ sovereign affairs. Indeed, let the Sunni majority in Syria be governed by its wise oppressor, Saddam was a great leader (particularly for the Kurds and Shiites) and is missed by all, and may the drug lords have it their way in Afghanistan for the sake of both genders.
      This is not to say that those wars were/are good, but rather to note that your black and white portrayal of the world is unlikely to make most humans enjoy the fruits of human progress, establish a positive narrative of reconciliation or bring about the change you may seek in the US or elsewhere.
      Peace man!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Speaking of sovereign dictatorships, and since this is a financial blog, can one monetary sovereign disregard another monetary sovereign, be it monetary sovereign dictatorship or monetary sovereign democracy, through monetary raids or monetary wars?

        Maybe it’s just a threat – behind the scene, one monetary sovereign superpower prints as much as it wants, while telling others not to print when they need to print, or to print when they need to shrink money supply.

        Could it be that ultimately, only the world’s sole monetary sovereign super power can do it wants with regards money printing…which can only be sustained by being the world’s sole military superpower.

        1. financial matters

          I don’t think so. Many of the political gains in places such as Poland, Russia, South Africa were thwarted due to not following through on the financial front.. (Naomi Klein has a good discussion in ‘Shock Doctrine’)

          ‘The Job Guarantee program can be adopted through the democratic process as an overarching plan to restore financial sovereignty, promote full employment, sustainability, higher quality of life, and long-term prosperity. All of this is desirable, feasible, and affordable. Those who think otherwise and yet still aspire for a democratic society in Egypt will by sorely disappointed to know that there can not be true democracy without full financial sovereignty to deliver social and economic justice for its people.’

          Also I like Graeber’s analysis of the economic prosperity of China during the Middle Ages when the government had a high level of suspicion of both the military and merchants. It felt both were necessary but needed to be closely regulated to truly serve the needs of the general public.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think Graeber got it wrong to think they merely suspected merchants.

            Merchants were the lowest of their ‘caste’ system. Under Confucianism, it was the scholar, then the farmer, followed by the artisan and then, you get to the merchant.

            They didn’t even respect merchants in their Middle Ages.

            As for their military – and I think this goes for many countries throughout history – Mao said it best: all political power grows out of the barrel of the gun (and Deng was the paramount leader by virtue of his position in the military commission – in his case, he was the military). You ride the military, even if you are not comfortable, by dealing with them, making deals with them, giving them some that they want while keeping some you want. Technically, one can say even military is suspicious of military, as one district commander eyes another or as the HQ watches vigilantly over all district military governors, not unlike the worlds of politics or money.

            And when China was a military super power, they dictated, for example, the Koreans to pay tributes of, among other things, virgins, as they were ‘desirable.’ Plenty of sovereignties were violated.

    2. Butch in Waukegan

      I thought the same thing as Simon Tisdall ( from his Guardian article in links ) when I read Kerry’s Bushian bluster. I also believe there is a Clintonian element of deflection . . . think aspirin factory.


      The two raids may provide Obama with temporary relief from his domestic troubles, distracting attention from the government shutdown. But secretary of state John Kerry’s claim on Sunday that the operations showed terrorists they “can run but they can’t hide” was macho bombast straight from the George W Bush school of utter thoughtlessness.

  5. Eeyores enigma

    “If you are not growing you are dying”
    This quote is from the 1500’S and has always been true. I have seen it manifest itself in the business world many times.
    Truth is every business and government entity lives by this rule.
    In order to grow they all borrow money based on the increased revenue that that money will will lead to via growth.
    Every city, county, state, and federal body operates on borrowed money.
    If there are any constraints on future revenue everything comes to a crashing halt.
    We live in a time of ever increasing natural resources/inputs and an ever diminishing ability for the planet to handle the waste-stream adding greatly to the cost of everything.
    So we need to change the quote to;

    “If we are growing we are dying”.

    Or change how we live on this planet.

  6. AbyNormal

    Waxing moon makes this a good year for Draconids

    (Newser) – If you’re a fan of skygazing—but not early mornings—you could be in for a treat tonight. The annual Draconid meteor shower will be at its peak and while it doesn’t tend to be the most spectacular event of its kind, it is unusual because it is best viewed just after sunset, not before dawn like most meteor showers, USA Today
    explains. Astronomers say the intensity of the yearly shower—caused by the Earth passing through debris left by the Giacobini-Zinner comet—is tough to predict, but some years can see thousands of “falling stars” per hour. This year is not expected to be among the most intense, but it’s a good year to watch because the waxing moon won’t reflect enough light to ruin the view.

    jump into this Starry Night…
    (found it last week…friends, family & i are still star-eyed’)

  7. neo-realist

    Re: Tipping in Europe
    While traveling in Berlin a bunch of years ago, the two cab drivers I tripped, particularly the one who took us to the airport (blubbering a lot of broken english thank yous), seemed very grateful for the tip.

    Waiters in restaurants did not seem to feel demeaned–“oh thank you”, more like grateful surprise.

  8. anon y'mouse

    on The Punishers:

    “He explicitly makes the link between tipping behavior and the hiring of a prostitute arguing that some patrons are more comfortable hiring a prostitute–using the power of the purse to coerce a sexual encounter–than they are using seduction or allowing the woman to seduce them. Why? Because using seduction (charm) or permitting the woman to choose to set the pace of the interaction gives the woman too much agency and is too much work for the patron. Similarly tipping, in the clients eye, takes agency away from the waiter and gives it to the owner of the money.”

    this says a lot of things about these people. it betrays a deep sense if insecurity. if you think that no one will treat you well without your power over them, then you are convinced somewhere inside that you are not worth treating well.

    it’s rather like the narcissistic mentality which covers up for deep feelings of inadequacy. what the Punishing mentality shows is a person who is socially disconnected. this article ties well into the other article talking about status differentials, and how high status people pay little attention to lower status people but lower status people are extremely socially aware of their network and those who scratch their backs. money takes the place of having to scratch anyone else’s back. one becomes an infantilized, insecure infant whining about “don’t you know who I am!”.

    this is never moving beyond the ego stage of psychological development here. it is NOT some higher state of being to believe that money is the arbiter of all that should or will occur.

    it is also tying into that Eyes Wide Shut stuff.

    1. AbyNormal

      “it is NOT some higher state of being to believe that money is the arbiter of all that should or will occur.”

      and you commented the other day that you weren’t a wordsmith. like a heat seakin missile…i always target your post!


  9. Timaex

    To Henry B: Default

    Your article is an example why I quit reading your simple-minded blog. Everything has to have a political party bad guy attached–and it is always Republicans. Seems to me that what these terrible Republicans have done is part of the check and balance system (you need to read up on this). One man one vote is only half of Democracy. Check and balances are every bit as important. It seems to me that your affirmative action master could negotiate also.

  10. participant-observer-observed

    Great coverage on Obamacare system roll-not-out today by Amy Goodman, interviewing Bill Curtis, senior vice president and chief scientist at the software quality analysis firm CAST and director of the Consortium for IT Software Quality

    Followed by MUST-SEE interview with Lavabit owner Ladar Levison who “closed his encrypted email company after refusing to comply with a government effort to tap his customers’ information”

  11. b2020

    Coppola makes interesting and necessary points. One observation: Congress, Supreme Court appear to argue at times, in so many words, that expropriation is not constitutional in the case of intellectual property. I.e. while Congress is apparently entitled to extend copyright or patent protection for already existing works (making a mockery of the idea of – outright asympotically vanishing – returns), reducing this type of monopoly property right protection for existing works is apparently not possible.

    I find it amazing, given the corrupt personalities and the smarts of the Founders, that the Constitution is “weak” on property rights. But then, maybe this is the arrogance of the white privileged apex predator – no need to protect property, and who knows, such protection might aid the poor, the powerless, and the slaves one day.

  12. Kurt Sperry

    In the above video link Micah White addressing the Italian Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S) compares and contrasts the OWS movement with the electorally active M5S and muses on what lessons are to be learned by studying the M5S’ remarkable successes in Italy and how to recreate that success not only in the US but indeed globally.

    Our enemies are global, trans/supra-national in nature, refusing to be constrained by quaint nationalist notions–although at the same time ready to exploit those notions to their own advantage. We need to think in similarly global terms as well to combat them and synergize and coordinate across borders to form an opposition that cannot easily be co-opted, veal penned or distracted from its core mission. As Italy’s M5S has shown, against all the scowling prognostications and sneering cynical defeatist rhetoric brought to bear against it, we can do this. Those who say we cannot are nothing more than unwitting useful idiots for the .1%. We must ignore and marginalize all those who say its an impossibility or we must operate within existing parties to effectuate change, they are perhaps a bigger threat than even the forces openly hostile to our aims.

  13. Hugh

    The important lesson of the shutdown is that no one who supports a decent and fair society should ever vote any Democrat or any Republican ever again. Our elites should be turned out and their system of effectively hereditary privilege and wealth should be abolished.

    This is, by no means, the first such lesson and their frequency is accelerating: the dot com bust, Iraq, the housing bubble bust, the meltdown, the Wall Street bailouts, Obamacare, the NSA leaks, the Cat Food Commission, the sequester, now the shutdown, and in another 10 days the default. At some point, we have to say enough is enough. We are not being governed by the best and the brightest, not even the minimally honest. We are being ruled by a criminal class whose only thought is to strip us to the bone, and then grind up the bone and sell it for fertilizer.

    If we in the 99% simply said no to them in the morning, they would be gone by the afternoon. That is the ultimate power we hold. But no is insufficient. We must also have a clear idea of the society we want to build and the clear commitment and participation of all to build it. With these two things, we could not only stop our criminal rich and elites. We could end them.

  14. optimader

    RE: Obama, Putin previously discussed plan to secure Syria chemical arms

    Unless you for a fact know otherwise, it’s fair to assume nothing is at it appears.

    Call me cynical, but Avnery expresses well what I suspect is the reality:

    ..The Syrian affair was a good example. Vladimir Putin likes to be photographed in judo poses. In judo, one exploits the momentum of one’s opponent to bring him down. That is exactly what Putin did.

    President Obama has painted himself into a corner. He mouthed belligerent threats and could not retreat, though the US public is in no belligerent mood. Putin released him from the dilemma. For a price.

    I don’t know if Putin is such an agile player that he pounced on a side remark by John Kerry about Bashar Assad’s chance of relinquishing his chemical weapons. I rather suspect that it was all arranged in advance. Either way, Obama got off the hook and Putin was in the game again…

    1. anon y'mouse

      since it mostly happened before my time, I always did view the Cold War as a kind of kayfabe in a larger arena.


  15. Synopticist

    The comments after the FT piece on Greek banks don’t half put it in perspective. More oligarchic looting.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Rich people care less.

    I think by caring less, you become rich.

    In that sense, no one should be rich.

        1. ambrit

          Tom Paine,
          Against the grain,
          The banksters fane,
          Meets Samson again.

          But I must admit that the Master, Milton, did it better:
          …promise was that I,
          Should America from Bankster yoke deliver:
          Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him,
          “I”less on Wall Street at the Stock Exchange with slaves…

  17. no more banksters

    “If one take a look at the data, can see that the share of the US government debt held by the “Federal” Reserve reached record levels in 2011, reaching 11.2% of GDP, the highest since 1940 onwards, and possibly the historically higher. In 2012, this rate was also high at 10.6% of GDP. Only once this figure reached such levels, in 1946, i.e. shortly after the end of WWII, when it reached 10.7% of GDP.”

    1. MyLessTHanPrimeBeef

      Lucky for American manufacturers in 1946 in that Europe and Japan (nor China) could produce much post war and they had to buy from our companies (when they had money and so it helped to have the Marshall Plan).

      Right now, we can pull off the same trick by making sure Iraqis and Afghans can buy from us; otherwise, we might have to escalate to include the Iranians by destroying their industrial base. I think one great error in the last 10 years has been that not enough money was given to Iraq for them to buy our movies and TV programming…and coal to power their industrial plants.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Today’s antidote is like what your doctor would recommend: a balance diet of animals and vegetables.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    It’s OK. You can fly to Vegas without a ticket, and they may even give you free meals and shows, but you better not count cards.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      The “Google the headline” trick no longer works for WSJ. Maybe time to stop linking to them?

    1. skippy

      If you use the fog… you validate – all – fogs… 40k+ and growing exponentially.

      skippy… kinda how we got here in the first place…eh.

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