Links 5/21/14

Posted on by

Catipal: Piketteh in the 21st Century (Nikki)

Tornado hunter films black bear saving cub KVUE

Thousands of dogs, and 3 people, sickened by jerky pet treats, FDA says CBS :-(

Study: Mice Actually Enjoy Running On Their Spinning Sisyphus Wheels Gawker. This still reminded me of a study done by the University of Maine which concluded that lobsters didn’t mind being steamed to death.

Fucked Dr. David Healy. How an effort to make clinical trial data was designed to be a headfake and is working out as planned.

Russian lawmakers want to impose criminal liability for GMO-related activities ITAR-TASS

Antibiotics Are Becoming Ineffective All Over the World, Why? Triple Crisis

In Landmark Class Action, Farmers Insurance Sues Local Governments for Ignoring Climate Change Nation of Change

A Mathematical Proof That The Universe Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing Physics arXiv (furzy mouse)

Rogoff on negative rates, paper currency and Bitcoin Izabella Kaminska, FT Alphaville. Kaminska has pointed out that Bitcoin is likely to have the unintended effect of legitimating electronic-only state currencies, something central banks would have found doing on their own. One of Rogoff’s conclusions:

…any attempt to introduce a fully anonymous state currency would probably transform the central bank into a universal bank — something we’ve suggested is already happening due to the Fed already expanding its balance sheet to money market funds.

Japan Fukushima operator releases groundwater into sea BBC

China calls for new Asian security structure Associated Press

Citi: China property bust risks growing MacroBusiness

Martial law in Thailand Economist

US: Thailand martial law will not trigger sanctions Associated Press

Modi’s Role Model: Margaret Thatcher or Lee Kuan Yew? New Yorker

European Central Bank ‘unlikely to fire the big bazooka’ Financial Times


The Non-Disastrous Russia-China Alliance Moon of Alabama

China to delay Russia gas deal in blow to Vladimir Putin Financial Times

Far Right Fever for a Europe Tied to Russia New York Times (furzy mouse)

With Ukraine, Russia drives wedge between EU, US US News

Mastermind of Odessa Massacre Embarrasses Ukraine’s Jews George Washington

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Fine Line Seen in U.S. Spying on Companies New York Times. Quelle surprise! Somehow it’s OK to spy if it relates to trade policy. I’m not making that up.

No One Should Ever Trust Top USA Intelligence Officials in the Obama Administration Jon Walker, Firedoglake

NSA data-gathering may run into California roadblock Reuters. EM: “Right – because clearly the NSA needed states’ cooperation to run its post-9/11 mass domestic surveillance. [/sarc]”

Obamacare Launch

PhRMA Wants You To Know the Silver Plans on the Exchanges Kinda Suck Jon Walker. Another point made by the study released by drug company lobbyist PhRMA (see our post for more detail)

Obama: ‘In five years it will no longer be called Obamacare.’ Washington Post. So what does Obama know that he’s less willing to be identified with the ACA?

V.A. Accusations Aggravate Woes of White House New York Times

Sign the Petition Opposing Investor-State Dispute Settlement in Trade Agreements Public Citizen. This is the single worst element of the TransPacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Please sign!

Tea Party candidate falls in Idaho The Hill (furzy mouse)

Wyoming Is First State To Reject Science Standards Time

America dumbs down Macleans. Not exactly news…

Millennials Spurning Silicon Valley for Dallas Oil Patch Bloomberg

Debate Over Fed’s Exit Strategy Continues: Bernanke vs. Dudley vs. Yellen Michael Shedlock


Class Warfare

Florida High School charges parents $200 for prime seats at graduation Daily Mail

The source of population ageing matters: Longevity versus fertility VoxEU

More Stories of Million Dollar Plus Hospital Executives, but Now the NY Times Challenges the Talking Points Roy Poses

“It’s total moral surrender”: Matt Taibbi unloads on Wall Street, inequality and our broken justice system Salon

Antidote du jour (mark w):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


      1. Michael Hudson

        This earlier citing of the FT article as falling through is hilarious. You can see that the FT was hoping that Putin would be rebuffed by China’s taking advantage of the US pressure on Russia.
        I’m sure the problem WAS about price. But Putin probably yielded somewhat in exchange for Chinese geopolitical support, financial support and other “external economies” to the deal. So US diplomacy has driven Eurasian countries together against “Old Europe,” while the anti-euro parties have all gained support for this Sunday’s Europarliament elections by wanting to be free of US military pressure to make Europe a satellite.
        If this was the AIM of the Obama administration, then all these guys must be Russian agents. (I can’t wait for Republicans to make this breathless discovery.)

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          Insightful observations. Appears to me that Putin is the leader who is actually implementing a “Pivot to Asia” strategy, albeit in response to U.S. initiatives. As Michael Hudson implied, it will be interesting to see what the longer term implications of this geopolitical move are for Germany and the EU. Evidently Vivacious Vicky’s comment “Eff the EU” was heeded, although perhaps by others than those at whom her remark was directed. Also, increasingly appears effects of sanctions on Putin’s inner circle are being mooted. Further, new international payments system is reportedly being installed by Russia, China and Iran.
          Wonder to what extent residual holdovers, political infighting, turf fragmentation, and management control issues in DeeCee contributed to all this.

          1. alex morfesis

            perhaps you meant the

            divat to asia

            one of the wondrous and favorite activities and actions of china and its princelings is to do photo ops

            add up all the “commitments” that china is making around the globe…

            and take a look at how many have come up against “difficulties” when it is actually time to write a real check.

            most unfortunate…

            but president raz-putin had better hope global warming aint gonna be as bad as some predict. But as serbia turns green, slowly but surely, step by step, the chinese will offer to “man” the pipeline and drilling activities, until one day, 35 to 45 years from now, serbia will have become tibetisized, with more than enough chinese in place to disrupt the historical population realities.

            and then, poof, soon thereafter, it will take a few less time zones to get from one end of russia to the other.

            he had better get russian men to treat their women better so that they might actually want to have children with these wondrous and obviously hard working and kind russian studs…but somehow, it would probably seem, that uncle RAZ will have a hard time convincing the women of his country that they should allow themselves to be the incubator for russian survival.

            the divot to asia will be the last breath of the russian era. like the golden hordes collapse along with the fall of byzantium led to moscow becoming more than just some little principality, the moment in history that belonged to russia has passed. Its own people do not believe in its future and are not willing to take on the burden of large families to fill up the multiple time zones she wants to claim

            besides, everyone is forgetting that India is in the way of China

            India has claimed the whole of Kashmir up to the afghanistan border.
            As a trade off, if India can convince Pakistan that she can have a portion of Afghanistan and if they cut a deal to break up afghanistan in return for allowing India to have Kashmir, if not forever, then on some 99 year stand still agreement, India will be twenty years away from sitting in Denisov at the doorstep of Russia/Serbia.

            The land of Borat is sitting with Russia on one side and China on the other…and already has a solid relationship with India. A sphere of influence to help (protect) the Boratites from RAZ and his chin friends will allow India to cut a hot knife through the butter and disrupt chinas silk road dreams.

    1. Andrew Watts

      This is probably the moment when historians will say the multi-polar world was (re)born. Contrary to contemporary belief they will state it was China and not Russia who ushered in the brave new world.

      Or something.

        1. Synopticist

          Clueless morons damaging western interests because of their stupidity and pride. bear in mind most of this is motivated by butt hurt over Syria.

          1. Jackrabbit

            . . . stupidity and pride . . .?

            Isn’t Syria mostly about Iran? And isn’t Saudia Arabia and Israel driving that bus? But Russia stood in the way – again . . . AGAIN!

            Its not “stupidity and pride” as much as arrogance and craven self-interest.

          2. OIFVet

            Western interests, eastern interests, whatever. For once I would like to hear about something being done in the interest of humanity. I suppose this deal is not exactly bad for humanity if it does help to curb US imperialism by creating a multipolar world but that part remains to be seen. From environmental standpoint all it does is to ensure that more fossil fuels are burned, creating more CO2. Not so good. For the average Russian and Chinese it probably doesn’t change much of anything, as I doubt much of the profits would trickle down to the average Ivan and Ming.

  1. dearieme

    “Khor pulls no punches about the magnitude of the danger, calling it “as serious to human life as the climate change crisis that we are all trying to address and fighting against.” ”

    Comparing a real problem to a fake one: what idiocy.

  2. dearieme

    “such a Jewish type of the Christian Hitler”: Hitler had his faults but being Christian was hardly one of them. Being evil and mad would be on my list, though.

    1. abynormal

      Fracking Waste Could Increase Carcinogens in NC Drinking Water
      snip…”“The mistake that they made in Pennsylvania was, these things were sent to [municipal plants], as if it was just normal waste, and it’s not,” said Vikram Rao, a member of the M.E.C. and chairman of the committee that developed the wastewater rules.

      But drillers will be allowed to send their wastewater to commercial plants, he said. These plants must be designed specifically to treat fracking wastewater.

      But no such plants currently exist in North Carolina.”

      (b/c no such plant will EVER exist…the bean counters have proven it all over our fracked nation)

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        “But drillers will be allowed to send their wastewater to commercial plants, he said. These plants must be designed specifically to treat fracking wastewater.”

        And these plants would be paid for by whom? No doubt the taxpayers–financed by bonds and JPM in the grand tradition of Jefferson County, Alabama. In the grand tradition of privatizing the profits and socializing the costs, doncha’ know.

        Just finished a new book called “Toms River” about the “benefits” of introducing toxic chemical waste into the public water supply. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well for the locals. Apparently cancer clusters are pretty hard to prove.

        Better, I think, to handle it the way North Carolina is handling it. Make it a crime to tell anybody what’s in the water so no one has to worry about weird cancers. They’ll probably just think it’s god testing their faith.

    2. Vatch

      A few years ago, the people at the National Center for Science Education mostly concerned themselves with superstitious frauds such as Young Earth Creationism and Intelligent Design. Recently they have also had to involve themselves in cases where Climate Change is being purged from the textbooks and school curricula.

  3. dearieme


    “When fertility decreases … the number of pension contributors decreases.” I see that.

    “This translates into a decrease in pension benefits.” In total yes, but not per individual.

    “As a response, individuals save more to smooth their consumption.” I find this puzzling. What do they mean? I can see that people with few or no children might save more for their old age since they won’t be able to expect (much) financial help from their children. Is that what they mean? It doesn’t seem to be. Can anyone suggest an answer here?

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      What did they mean by any of it?

      Pure, unadulterated horseshit if you ask me.

      Just check out the title of the site–under VOX–“Research-based policy analysis and commentary from leading economists.”

      That should tell you all you need to know. They didn’t even tell us what’s up with ESTONIA. Sheesh.

  4. Banger

    RE: America dumbs down

    The article in Macleans is a bit confused but forceful in making its point but the article needed to spend a bit more time explaining why people choose to be stupid. And let me be clear here, people do choose it–it’s not like information is not available and people don’t know where to go. I’ve had discussions with people about climate change, for example, where they read some right-wing nonsense or just keep Fox News on and then argue with me about it. I’ve kept up with the issue since that late eighties and have done my due diligence yet these casual browsers of information believe their opinion has the same weight as mine–and I’m deliberately putting this in personal terms to make a point. I know more about it than my interlocutor yet he (it’s never a she) can’t admit that. It’s like someone who may have heard something about writing code starts telling me how to write code that I used to do for a living–what is that?

    The dumbing-down of America has a lot to do with a very bad public education system that discourages intellectual exploration and critical thinking. This tendency in American education turns off many students (even if they do well) who see pursuing knowledge and taking in the gems of Western Civilization as a chore not a joy. Without joy, intellectual inquiry cannot happen so most people, even those with graduate degrees, simply stop growing intellectually and tend to be attracted to lines of thought that fit their prejudices. The article mentioned above mentions deficits in science and math which are considered the height of intellectual achievements and fail to mention poetry, music, philosophy, literature and so on. We still have the idea that education is something we force-feed our children but generations of children have resisted it–shouldn’t we actually try to use the knowledge we do have about learning theory and neuro-science rather than continue to use arbitrary methods that are duct-taped methods from the 19th century? American educations steadfastly refuses to acknowledge modern science so how can they teach it?

    The author of the piece also mentions the confusing demands of modern life and that’s all true. People live fragmented lives that lack cohesion–what is missing in the piece is the description of the forces that cause us to live confused lives. The people in South Carolina Mr. Gatehouse describes who are fixated on science having to bend to the Bible which is, to most of South Carolinians, the source of all truth allows these people to live with more peace and tranquility than those who don’t have a firm set of beliefs. Mind you, I’m pretty certain that most of the people don’t actually believe the Bible is literally true but “believe” it as a way of not having to think deeply about anything–it’s like a medication–you know it’s a drug but it makes you feel better so you take it.

    But what causes this confusion? Of course, it is complicated, but I believe there is a chief cause to our malaise. This has been caused by the systematic and conscious effort by marketers, advertisers, PR people and political propagandists to control the mind of the American people. While education won’t use scientific ideas on human nature the mercenaries who populate the influencing class do use those techniques and others that they’ve found throh experience to control the human psyche. They have manufactured consent and they’ve created needs–they’ve altered completely morality even in South Carolina. These people, like the rest of the country, are programmed to satisfy themselves–Jesus is a commodity that makes them feel better–if he didn’t many would dump him for something else.

    Intellectual development and the culture of narcissism we live in are completely incompatible because, along with joy, dialectic is essential. Holding on to your opinion because you need that opinion to keep your ego inflated is the main problem of our age and extends just as much in the liberal bi-coastal areas as in the South as I’ve mentioned with specificity in other posts.

    1. skippy

      Educational Fordism… because economic efficiency.

      skippy… the numbers demand it.

    2. abynormal

      im puzzled too buddy’) yesterday you suggested people are paying less attention to MSM…today your recognizing a fact…they still are. i agree many are ‘spread-out’ and also fear the high risk of venturing from the heard…too many still believe if they by ‘this’ product, their hair will look just like ‘as seen on tv’. (from the depths of wherever j. walter thompson is still laffin)
      i see Curiosity being removed at too early of an age…harried parents and scripted early education. Curiosity can also be Lonely…worse than death for the heard mentality.
      20 yrs ago a coworker told me i reminded him of the song ‘Who’s going to take you home’ by the Cars. i was baffled…do i really come off that needy or was he projecting? so i bit out of self enlightenment, i asked what the heck he meant (with a smile)…he said he always pictured me searching and alone. (maybe he said lonely…big difference but those brain cells are long smoked/im mean gone:-/)

      i’ll join you in some optimism…the heard will shift but will it be out of fear which continues leading them straight into the storm…or will the heard shift toward the power of Curiosity?

      “Thinkers aren’t limited by what they know, because they can always increase what they know. Rather they’re limited by what puzzles them, because there’s no way to become curious about something that doesn’t puzzle you.”
      Quinn, My Ishmael

      1. James Levy

        I don’t think our education system isn’t nearly as bad as people complain. What’s wrong are our parents, students, and culture. Too many parents think their kids are all “special” and that they’re never at fault for anything. Kids expect everything to be “fun” and handed to them on a silver platter. The “self-esteem” movement and all that crap in the 80s and 90s about never “shaming” a child has created a generation that thinks it’s wrong to be judged or feel bad about acting badly, and that if you fail them it is a personal insult and not a reflection of their effort and production.

        My complaint about the educational system, at least higher ed, wherein I taught for 19 years, is that its practitioners have no guts and will not enforce standards. This is largely driven by the postmodern turn that undermined the whole idea of truth and standards, and the student evaluation system that rewards teachers who are nice and give out bucks full of great grades. One article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed laid this out when a young prof said that she was risking tenure by being a “tough” grader, so she just raised all the grades, got excellent student evals, her Chair was thrilled, and she got her tenure. When your professors refuse to have the guts to stand up for what is right, what is the chance their students will?

        1. Banger

          I agree with you about students and parents but the system has stopped being interested in education. Real education can’t happen unless it’s very rigorous. Much of the blame has to go on the left which Alan Bloom critiqued in his book The Closing of the American Mind several decades back. Though I had much to quarrel with in the book I think his plea for the importance of philosophy is particularly haunting.

          The reason students re in the shape their in is not their fault–it is the fault of political correctness and the replacement of dialogue with cant–education has become yet another industry. We did not replace the more conservative academics of the days of yore with, as I mentioned, the findings of social and neuro-science.

          1. James Levy

            Please forgive my atrociously written post above. I got worked up and when you get worked up, your writing takes a beating (or at least mine does).

            My argument with Bloom was that he was no more interested in critical thinking than he was in social justice, and his endless whining about Nietzsche got stale fast. What Bloom wanted was to preserve in amber the consensus education he got after WWII where it was still tacitly assumed that women were inferior to men and blacks to whites, but it was no longer acceptable to be an overt anti-Semite. It was, in effect, a variation on the complaint of WASP academics after WWII about how things had been better in the 1920s when “they” hadn’t gotten their pushy, grubby, show-offy hands all over higher education.

            I don’t know how much philosophy has to teach us at this point. The consensus among philosophers seems to be that language is indeterminate, that morals are relative, that knowledge is at best provisional, and that we cannot know the “real world” for certain, or even if there is a real world. This strikes me as a dead end. It entirely ignores the evidence that Evolution is real and that we and all other life forms survive or die out based on our ability to come to grips with and master some aspects of material reality. Modern philosophy was not born out of people struggling to bring in a crop or survive the trenches. It is a manifestation of a cushy, artificial lifestyle that is about to go the way of the Dodo. So I say study History, Physics, Chemistry, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, something tangible that has a material base that you can get your hands on. I doubt Bloom would approve.

            1. abynormal

              enjoying both your post…Thanks!

              something i backed into earlier:

              “So now you must choose… Are you a child who has not yet become world-weary? Or are you a philosopher who will vow never to become so? To children, the world and everything in it is new, something that gives rise to astonishment. It is not like that for adults. Most adults accept the world as a matter of course. This is precisely where philosophers are a notable exception. A philosopher never gets quite used to the world. To him or her, the world continues to seem a bit unreasonable – bewildering, even enigmatic. Philosophers and small children thus have an important faculty in common. The only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wonder…”
              Gaarder, Sophie’s World

    3. flora

      from the article:
      “Smart money versus dumb voters is hardly a fair fight. ”

      I’d say the smart money – or at least too much of the elite money – has been engaged in undermining what was once a very good US public education system. Organized money (hello ALEC) has lead the effort to dumb down the US voter, starting with public education. Because, as the article says, ” smart money vs dumb voters is hardly a fair fight.”

      1. flora

        p.s. this bit from Perry Anderson’s LRB article on Italian politics caught my attention:

        “In the hour of Berlusconi’s triumph in the spring of 2008, when he won his third and most decisive electoral victory,…. In its first months of office, one step along Thatcher/Blair lines was taken, the initial instalment of a set of changes, starting with primary schools and ending with universities, that cut expenditure on the education system by some €8 billion in the interests of economy and competition: reducing teacher numbers, imposing short-term contracts, bringing business onto boards, quantifying research assessments.”

        Amazing similarity to what is being done in various US states. What a coincidence.

    4. Paul Niemi

      I see the dumbing down as one of the end permutations of behaviorism, that having had quite a run since Watson and Little Albert in 1920. Before that was humanism, richer, harder to understand, with kids actually learning Latin and Greek to find ancient wisdom. Behaviorism became ubiquitous, probably from our natural human desire for safety. Life would be safe and secure, if other people would just behave. So, the behaviorists gave us the carrot and stick, penalties and incentives, reinforcements and conditioning. The idea was to learn, not to think. Somewhere along the way, society stopped rewarding good and punishing evil, and replaced that with rewarding smarts and punishing stupidity, but that’s a story all its own. Now, behaviorism is ingrained in public policy. Consider the tax code: it has little to do with raising revenue, rather it has a million pages of incentives and penalties to try to micromanage almost everything. At the same time, spying on citizens by the NSA is also a logical result of infatuation with behaviorism. Yet humanism is emerging once again, perhaps on its way back. Behaviorism can not explain acceptance of gay marriage, for example. For that, the mind must think of dusty, old, obsolete ideas like liberty.

      1. Banger

        Interesting points, Paul. You are definitely on to something with behaviorism–despite its central notions being discredited it remains alive with the authoritarian personalities that run our major institutions.

      2. Shekissesfrogs

        Chomsky wrote about BFSkinner, and how behaviorism has been used by lawmakers by for social control and molding of culture with poor results, and not only because they don’t understand it, and it was with skinner’s encouragement.
        Chomsky said Skinner felt it was benign, but Chomsky said it could lead to a totalitarian society, that skinner had jumped the shark, and his theories were unproven and dangerous. Here’s one of his articles, but there are more.

        1. Jeff W

          B.F. Skinner said the following [PDF] about the review you linked to:

          I have actually never read his long review of Beyond Freedom and Dignity though I have read three answers to it none of which the New York Review would publish. I have never been able to understand why Chomsky becomes almost pathologically angry when writing about me but I do not see why I should submit myself to such verbal treatment. If I thought I could learn something which might lead to useful revisions of my position I would of course be willing to take the punishment, but Chomsky simply does not understand what I am talking about and I see no reason to listen to him.

          That Chomsky did not understand what Skinner was talking about is abundantly clear, from what he wrote earlier and in the review you linked to. As just one small example

          Consider Skinner’s claim that “we sample and change verbal behavior, not opinions,” as, he says, behavioral analysis reveals (p. 95). Taken literally, this means that if, under a credible threat of torture, I force someone to say, repeatedly, that the earth stands still, then I have changed his opinion. Comment is unnecessary.

          No, according to Skinner, you’re changing his verbal behavior—whether you call that verbal behavior an opinion or a coerced statement depends on the circumstances under which that behavior takes place. The example illustrates Skinner’s point and Chomsky doesn’t even realize it. Comment, as he would say, is unnecessary.

          Chomsky writes “There is little doubt that a theory of human malleability might be put to the service of totalitarian doctrine” but he omits that, in the book he is reviewing, Skinner writes

          The great problem is to arrange effective counter control and hence to bring some important consequences to bear on the behavior of the controller.

          Skinner was very much against aversive control, such as the one some totalitarian Orwellian state might use, but, more so, as that quote shows, he was against the total control by the controller, so much so that he called it “the great problem.” Sure, a science of behavior could lead to a totalitarian society—just as a science of evolution could lead to eugenics—but Skinner was utterly opposed to that.

      3. Jeff W

        Behaviorism can not explain acceptance of gay marriage, for example. For that, the mind must think of dusty, old, obsolete ideas like liberty.

        Behaviorism would explain the acceptance of same sex marriage in almost exactly that way (although a technical account might not use the words “mind” and “ideas”).

        In fact, prompted by a comment such as yours (which is indicating a certain specific behavior), people might, in essence, look at how they view marriages generally in the context of what they would describe as liberty and how they view same sex marriage in that context; in doing so, they may tend to view same sex marriage the same way. Probably the context of liberty doesn’t cause them to discriminate—in the behavioral sense of acting differently towards—same sex marriage from marriages, generally. (Some other context, such as a religious one, might cause such different behavior between the two.)

        A more complete behavioral account would point to (again, in more technical language), among other things: as more and more people accept same-sex marriage, they reinforce, especially through social means, acting in ways that are accepting of same sex marriage— and punish especially, again, through social means (but not exclusively), acting in ways that are not accepting; in essence, it becomes easier to be in favor of same sex marriage and more difficult to be against it. People in authority (President Obama, federal judges) make favorable statements about same sex marriage; those statements become part of what influences others. As more and more same sex couples get married, with no negative effects that might reinforce “being against” same sex marriage and lots of positive ones that might reinforce “being for” same sex marriage, one’s “being against” behavior becomes less likely to occur and one’s “being for” behavior becomes more likely to occur. And, as the environment that supports acceptance of same sex marriage becomes the prevailing one, those who grew up in a different, earlier environment die, which, in turn, creates an environment that supports same sex marriage even more so.

    5. Jackrabbit

      At every election, politicians promise better schools. But they only get worse. More focused on jobs, less focused on critical thinking and intellectual development.

      Social Darwinism is strong in the US. Because markets!

      1. Banger

        They also refuse to define what “better” means other than test scores. In other words education is now nothing more than something on an MBA spreadsheet.

    6. McMike

      The article itself was… dumb.

      It meanders quite a bit. From salacious stats derived from surveys about what people say they believe, to blaming dumbness on dissembling politicians, to making some sort of point about campaign contributions.

      Still not sure what the point was. Except that some people believe some things he disagrees with.

      Personally, I think we can trace this fairly directly to two factors:

      – The incessant right wing deconstruction of knowledge and decades of lies, smearing and attacking the credibility of anyone and anything they disagree with (at the moment), including an extensive use of self-contradiction, internal-contradiction, truthiness, and new-speak. Complete intellectual nihilism.

      – The fact that nearly everyone on power -r authority is in fact corrupt and full of horse-apples. As we have covered here at NC for years, nearly everything coming out of legislatures and corporate mouthpieces is pure unadulterated nonsense.

      Is it any surprise that people turn their backs on all of it?

      I for one do not believe that vaccines are nearly as safe, consequence free, or effective as advertised. And science, what little bits are independent of corporate or CDC control, as a matter of fact, is slowly beginning to catch up with this.

    7. mellon

      The public education system isn’t bad in most places. However, in case you hadn’t noticed, like healthcare (quite possibly including the VA) the USPS, and other formerly largely public sectors, they are trying to privatize it so those jobs can become bargaining chips/trade goods in their globalization shell game.

  5. grayslady

    Thanks for the link on Illinois Farmers Insurance and the lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Two years ago, my Farmers insurance agent told me that Farmers thought its rates for Illinois were way too low given increasing claims for storm damage. I had to drop my water damage coverage (which I only wanted in case of a burst pipe or a backed-up washing machine) because Farmers tied the coverage to flood damage, and the annual rate went from $25 per year to something close to $500 per year.

    Should be interesting to see what happens if the lawsuit goes to court. The City of Evanston (one of the defendants) spent millions of dollars about 25 years ago to totally upgrade its sewer system because of flooding, so unless Farmers can show that the engineering was substandard for the city’s needs, it may have a difficult time proving that all of the communities named have avoided addressing the storm issues. However, I read several years ago that the City of Chicago forestry department was already selecting trees for public planting based on estimates of future hardiness zone changes, rather than current hardiness zone ratings, due to the anticipated effects of global warming. So it’s possible Farmers could show that communities are aware of potential changes but not addressing all necessary public services in their planning, including services that affect insurable damages.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Sorry, but I just can’t help it.

      The City of Chicago has a FORESTRY DEPARTMENT????

      So which one of the Emmanuel brothers owns an arboretum? A for-profit arboretum, of course.

      1. grayslady

        May be surprising to those who don’t know the city, but Chicago is mostly residential and shopping districts, not high rises. The Forestry Department is responsible for the maintenance of over 500,000 publicly owned trees–lots of public parks and parkways in Chicago. But, yes, there’s always the risk with Rahm Emmanuel that he’s trying to find a way to exact rent from public trees.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Having been born and raised on the far south side (when it was still habitable) and having escaped at the earliest opportunity, I guess I just didn’t realize. I’d imagine most of those trees grow further to the north than my old stomping grounds.

          But one thing’s for sure. Unless there’s a deep-pocketed donor attached to those trees or they’re tended by privatized, non-union arborists, you’d better enjoy them while you still can. They probably won’t be around much longer.

      2. OIFVet

        It’s not a standalone department, it is part of streets and sanitation. So, do you hail from Beverly or Pullman?

    2. Benedict@Large

      The Farmers claim will go nowhere. The municipalities will (correctly) point out that Farmers had the same information on global warming that they did, and could have used that information to set rates but chose not to. Case over.

      1. grayslady

        In Illinois, as the law currently stands, requests for rate increases must be accompanied by actuarial data in order to be approved by the Insurance Commission. I don’t know how much of that actuarial data is allowed to be prospective rather than retrospective. You may be correct that the lawsuit will go nowhere, although if Farmers had been able to interest other property insurers in joining the lawsuit, that might be a different matter.

        1. alex morfesis

          I am sure you meant
          actual air data

          since there is not an insurance department in any state in the last 50 years that has not accepted the arguments presented to it by the industry printed onto the dead trees sacrificed in the name of quarterly bonuses.

  6. Ned Ludd

    Graham Phillips, a British journalist who freelances for RT, was captured and transferred to Kiev by the Ukrainian National Guard. The National Guard was established by the post-coup regime in Kiev and incorporated fighters from the far-right Pravy Sektor.

    When captured, Phillips was investigating the number of people killed in Mariupol.

  7. Brian

    It should be obvious, but if there were quantum fluctuations, that is significantly more than “nothing” — it is less than what we currently have, to be sure. But this leaves open the reasonable question: why were there quantum fluctuations, rather than nothing?

    1. F. Beard

      Think of a number line. Zero, nothing, is very improbable compared to the infinite number of positive and negative real numbers.

      Thus chaos is the most probable state of the universe though it does average to zero given enough time.

    2. Jake Mudrosti

      Funny thing about both Cosmology and Economics: in either field you’ll hear people say, “The math says…” or “the math proves…”, where intellectual honesty and rigor would require that they actually say, “If we assume the following model & set of definitions, then the resultant math can be interpreted to mean that…”

      Regarding the definition of “Nothing”, you’re absolutely right: there’s a stealth assumption in there, telling us that “Nothing” possesses a very specific ontological status within which quantum fluctuations “can happen.” (Worth noting that Andrei Linde effectively pulls an end run around this problem of “Nothing” when he describes a sort of Universe-foam of noninteracting universes. Future research will reveal whether this is a point in his favor or merely a convenient dodge.)

      Danger happens when stealth assumptions get baked so thoroughly into a theory that they’re no longer recognized as being separate from the theory itself. True in Cosmology and in Economics.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Very good point.

        Emptiness is nothing, we say.

        Then I am told that the Eastern emptiness is not the same as the Western emptiness.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        As they say in Zen, nothing is better than something (when you try to empty your mind).

        Mathematically, it can be stated this way:

        0 > 1.

    3. ewmayer

      In quantum mechanics there is no such thing as truly empty space – even space with an effective mass/energy density of 0 is alive with virtual particles flitting in and out of existence.

      Even pre-QM it was clear that “the vacuum of empty space” has non-ignorable physical properties – ever since the Michelson-Morley experiment disproved the ethereal hypothesis of space, it was clear that “empty space” had the very special property that it was able to serve as a medium of electromagnetic wave propagation, and that the speed of such waves reached its maximum attainable value in “empty space”. Related to this is the fact that the dielectric constant of vacuum, or in modern terms the vacuum_permittivity, has a precisely measurable nonzero value. Maxwell’s celebrated equations – which predate QM and helped inspire Einstein, who recognized that they were the only on-the-books equations of physics which were relativistically invariant without needing any extra modifications (such as even the equations of first-generation QM do) – tie these classical effects together in a mathematically complete way.

      1. Brian

        What this means in the context is that we never observe genuine nothingness at the quantum level. Fair enough. But that should be a clear part of the article above: something can’t from nothing, something is coming (most provocatively) from the “virtual particles flitting in and out of existence.” Regress arguments that philosophers have been pressing for centuries are interested not in how something comes from something small, but rather how something could conceivably come from nothing, full stop.

  8. rich

    Bernanke Will Make Millions as a Speaker and Dinner Guest

    NYT report:

    On Tuesday, Ben S. Bernanke spoke in Abu Dhabi; on Wednesday, he was in Johannesburg. By Friday, he was in Houston. That week in March was a particularly busy one for Mr. Bernanke, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

    During his eight years as steward of the world’s largest economy, Mr. Bernanke’s salary was about $200,000 a year. Now he makes that in just a few hours speaking to bankers, hedge fund billionaires and leaders of industry. This year alone, he is poised to make millions of dollars from speaking engagements…

    On the speaking circuit, he is putting just one foot through the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, being paid by financial firms but not employed by one…

    Mr. Bernanke has agreed to speak with a Middle Eastern bank, private equity firms and trade associations, as well as at investment bank get-togethers, charging his hosts fees that range from $200,000 in the United States and $400,000 for engagements in Asia. While he has dined with hedge fund managers at small events arranged by investment and brokerage firms including JPMorgan Chase, some Wall Street firms have balked at the high fees.

    “Chairman Bernanke decided after he left office, like most good civil servants, that he wanted to make a little bit of money and did the dinner circuit,” Michael E. Novogratz, a principal of Fortress Investment Group, told an audience of wealth managers at a conference in Las Vegas last week.

    At his first of several dinners after retiring from the Fed in March, Mr. Bernanke spoke to a group of hedge fund managers, including Mr. Novogratz, at Le Bernardin in Midtown Manhattan. The setting was so intimate that the group took up just one of the four-star restaurant’s three private dining rooms.

    under the table money goes full course…..keep believing.

    1. craazyboy

      Bernanke making millions going on the dinner circuit

      I bet the chefs are wondering why the hell they bother cooking for everyone.

    2. curlydan

      In a related story: “Many observers noted Bernanke’s pre-speech ritual of popping in his ear buds and head bobbing to 50 Cents’ ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’… When recently invited to speak at PS 32’s kindergarten class for free, Bernanke exclaimed, ‘What?!? I don’t hit PS 32’s urinal for less than 10Gs.’ “

      1. craazyboy

        I was thinking sorta the same thing – since Ben recently told us he did it all for Main St.

        Were that the perception out there, you’d think he would be backlogged till eternity with invites from PTA’s, Church ice cream socials, local small biz associations, maybe even bigger ones, all the waving workers on the street, and 4H Clubs eager for thank him for all the lemonade stands he saved.

  9. Jim Haygood

    ‘As Rogoff notes, the key problem is the uniquely anonymous nature of cash, something which facilitates tax evasion and illegal activity all round.’ — FT Alphaville

    Good old MSM, preaching the Big Gov point of view that financial privacy is a ‘problem.’ Civilized folks consider it a human right.

    Which is why the first successful anonymous electronic currency will not be issued by dotgov, currently obsessed with its global FATCA rollout.

  10. F. Beard

    Taxes should be unavoidable such a property taxes, head taxes, excise taxes, etc. Then the government shouldn’t care about the use of anonymous currencies.

  11. Jmd

    Most of the worst offenders at Credit Suisse are still employed there…no personal hazard to them to engage in unlawful behavior. Sad.

  12. Jack Parsons

    “Mice love spinning”- I can vouch from personal experience that sled dogs have been bred to LOVE pulling things. “OMG I’M PULLING SOMETHING THIS IS AAAAAWESOOOOOMME!”

    1. F. Beard

      Maybe but how were shepherd dogs ever bred to herd and protect sheep when they (the sheeps) is mighty tasty?

      I suspect some Divine Intervention* initially though, like musical talent, it could later be passed down to descendants.

      *Too much serendipity in life otherwise.

      1. Mel

        Dogs are natural authoritarians. They live in hierarchies and understand hierarchies. If the boss says don’t eat, you don’t eat. And if through all that the boss makes sure you don’t go hungry, then hey! good times!

        1. McMike

          Absolutely. Watch a bird retriever bring back a downed bird without mangling or eating it. Remarkable.

          And they will, in fact, sometimes chew on the bird about if they feel neglected or want to act up.

        2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Dogs will sublimate instinctual impulses to the will of their superiors (I’m thinking of the big, ugly, but damned smart, poodle we had when I was a kid — holding a dog biscuit on his nose until given the ‘okay’). Cats and most other critters, not so much.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Of Mice and Men, both can be trained/bred to enjoy spinning the wheel.

  13. Jackrabbit

    No One Should Ever Trust Top USA Intelligence Officials in the Obama Administration
    – Firedoglake

    No One Should Ever Trust ANYONE in the Obama Administration

  14. Murky

    Here is a standout article about Ukraine from The Guardian. Claims the narrative of Moscow verses Washington is simply wrong. Says the real struggle in Ukraine is against oligarchs, big money, and corruption.

    And former US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, is interviewed on National Public Radio. Quite readable, except for interjections of ‘you know’ into every second sentence.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Truisms make the best misdirection.

      . . . the real struggle in [country name] is against oligarchs, big money, and corruption.

    2. Banger

      I think the Guardian piece is interesting but just another bit of propaganda for the EU/US notion that the Maidan events were a genuine uprising against corruption and never mind the man behind the curtain and that anything else is Russian propaganda–what a pile of crap! Please look more deeply at the history of Ukraine and the history of US/Western intel involvement in the maidan and color revolutions. Do you not understand the nature of the long-standing US policy in that region to destroy Russia as a regional as well as international power? This is all about the Great Game for which the well being of Ukrainians is just not that important. That is not to excuse Russia which is not necessarily a benign force in the region but it’s hard to fault them for reacting to a direct provocation by the neocon clique in Europe as well as in the US where the virus began.

      1. OIFVet

        “If US/West is supporting Ukraine’s fight against Oligarchs, then why are Ukrainian and US leaders getting into bed with Oligarchs?” They suddenly remembered their deeply held conviction that trickle down works?

      2. Abe, NYC

        US doesn’t care much about oligarchs, it wants a friendly government. Russia as usual cares about nothing at all except maintaining Ukraine in its sphere of influence. The whole point of the article is that it’s the Ukrainians who are fed up and want the oligarchs out.

        1. OIFVet

          Oligarchs=government (Timoshenko had her turn, now it appears it’s Willy Wonka’s turn). Friendly government=sphere of influence. Ergo the US needs the oligarchs to be its compradors. Comprador oligarchy is the best way to control a country, far cheaper than forcibly occupying it and far more effective in obtaining the compliance of the population. Think back to Iraq and how Junior bought security by paying off the local sheikhs. Google Sons of Iraq if you need a refresher course. It’s the exact same concept, a natural symbiosis in which both sides get what they crave by cooperating. The big losers will of course be the Ukrainian people and the US taxpayer, but we all know this is not about them, don’t we?

          1. Abe, NYC

            The big losers will of course be the Ukrainian people and the US taxpayer

            Future will tell. Yanukovych didn’t learn the lesson of 2004 and paid the price. His successor better be wiser.

  15. curlydan

    VA issues: Yes, it’s terrible that 40 VA patients possibly died while waiting for appointments and that separate waiting lists were kept. But the narrative that the VA system is terribly broken is kind of a sick (no pun intended) joke, too, right? Let’s have a auditor go into every freakin’ hospital in this country and see how many are dying due to bad care. Better yet, let’s have an auditor visit every low income neighborhood and see how many Americans die due to NO CARE or no Medicaid expansion or insurance policies with $6,000 deductibles or people who’ve gone bankrupt due to medical costs. We have a bloated and incredibly inefficient private healthcare system, sapping our GDP with paper pushers and rate calculators that kills people everyday!!

    1. cwaltz

      I have to wonder why the patients didn’t avail themselves of the ER at the VA? Yes, appointments can take a while but I’ve found that if you need to be seen sooner than a trip to the ER can get an appointment moved up. As it is in the private sector appointments aren’t instantaneous either. My daughter waited over a month to have a mole checked out by a derm doctor(and subsequently removed.)

  16. Vatch

    Thanks for the link “Antibiotics Are Becoming Ineffective All Over the World, Why?” From the article:

    One problem has been that the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, you know, did not introduce the kind of ban that the European Union did. But last December, they did have a major step forward by introducing a voluntary code to encourage, you know, farms not to use antibiotics, or to phase out antibiotics from animal feed.

    There are problems with this approach. For starters, it’s voluntary. Sure, they’ll follow the voluntary guidelines, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Second, this only refers to the use of antibiotics as growth enhancement agents. There’s no restriction, voluntary or otherwise, on the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals in factory farms.

    Factory farms are hellish environments, with animals packed nightmarishly close to each other, and feces everywhere. There’s no way to keep them clean. So animals are constantly exposed to high levels of multiple types of pathogens. It’s impossible to run a factory farm without the routine use of antibiotics to keep the animals healthy.

    Until factory farms (also known as CAFOs, Confined Animal Feeding Operations) are outlawed, the excessive use of antibiotics in agriculture will continue, and antibiotic resistant bacteria will continue to evolve. John Stuart Mill died from erysipelas. I had no idea what that was, because it has been treatable by antibiotics all my life. Well, in a few decades, erysipelas, scarlet fever, and other horrors will return with a vengeance.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    America dumbs down.

    It’s not just anti-science.

    Dumbing down is brainwashing people into think eating fast food is a great experience.

    Or you need ‘new’ fashion every season.

    Or having more or consuming more is desirable in life.

    Or thinking sports is about elite athletes, and not about personal fitness.

    Or thinking there is a prescription or over the counter drug for everything a change in lifestyle or diet can, in many cases, accommodate.

    But, nooooooooooooooooooooo

    We have been dumbed down into think dumbing down is all about Big Science or just science, so we can have more science/technology to solves the more problems caused by science/technology.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Nothing says “dumb-down” like stupid corporate slogans:

      I’m lovin’ it.

      It’s the real thing.

      Taste the rainbow.

      Be all you can be.

      All the news that’s fit to print.

      Yes we can.

      1. OIFVet

        At least “Be all you can be” was not nearly as inane and pandering as “Army of one”. The Army, for all of its faults, is still all about teamwork (first person shooters notwithstanding).

  18. kareninca

    Here is way to reduce antibiotic use by a nontrivial degree – by taking d-mannose (a sugar) to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections that are caused by e. coli bacteria: It actually works BETTER than prophylactic antibiotics!!!!

    Our dog had three (e. coli) UTIs, one after another. She is prone to them due to a recessed vulva, and IBD (which requires intermittent prednisone). We were really worried because (just as with humans) once you get one UTI, you are MUCH more likely to keep getting them. Even if you take the prescribed antibiotics as directed, the e. coli can escape them by burrowing into tissue, leading to a recurrence when the antibiotics are stopped.

    It turns out that e. coli LOVE d-mannose. It is the same sort of sugar that is found in cranberries . E. coli will rush to the d-mannose in the urine, grab onto it, and be urinated out. It is not clear whether the body ever ultimately gets rid of the burrowed-in e. coli, but taking d-mannose can prevent them from mattering. The sugar is tasty and harmless (supposedly it does not affect blood sugar levels; I would triple check that claim). We use NOW brand, and our dog’s UTI has not come back.

    A study done in humans: “After initial antibiotic treatment of acute cystitis, 308 women with history of recurrent UTI and no other significant comorbidities were randomly allocated to three groups. The first group (n = 103) received prophylaxis with 2 g of D-mannose powder in 200 ml of water daily for 6 months, the second (n = 103) received 50 mg Nitrofurantoin daily, and the third (n = 102) did not receive prophylaxis.
    Overall 98 patients (31.8%) had recurrent UTI: 15 (14.6) in the D-mannose group, 21 (20.4) in Nitrofurantoin group, and 62 (60.8) in no prophylaxis group, with the rate significantly higher in no prophylaxis group compared to active groups (P < 0.001). . . Patients in D-mannose group had a significantly lower risk of side effects compared to patients in Nitrofurantoin group (RR 0.276, P < 0.0001)…"

      1. kareninca

        My pleasure. Since about 90 percent of UTIs are caused by e. coli, this could prevent a lot of misery. And wow, the last round of antibiotics for our dog (Baytril for seven weeks) cost $600. We buy through our vet, but I could see people buying online (for themselves or pets) to save money, and getting counterfeits. At that price point things get counterfeited.

  19. OIFVet

    Re: Tornado hunter films black bear saving cub. Awesome job by mamma bear, but wouldn’t it have been easier to just get the cub to crawl through that pass-through on the bottom part of the concrete barrier to the right :)

  20. ChrisPacific

    From the NY Times on the NSA:

    The N.S.A. says it observes American law around the globe, but admits that local laws are no obstacle to its operations.

    So if breaking foreign laws is OK for a spy as long as you observe domestic law, why are the Chinese being charged with crimes under what is, for them, a foreign legal system? Or is ‘American’ the key word here?

  21. optimader

    RE: A Mathematical Proof That The Universe Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing

    Spontaneously From Nothing shouldn’t seem too intellectually controversial, the Federal Reserve does this sort of thing quite regularly

  22. Oregoncharles

    Anyone care to translate the David Healy article? Between the British names and assumptions about what we already know, I found it pretty opaque. Almost as opaque as it says drug company use of clinical trials is.

Comments are closed.