2:00PM Water Cooler 9/16/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Has heavy-dury Islamist dude Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS, issued a fatwa, or whatever they issue, against Israel or the Saudis? Did I not get the memo? No? Why not?

israel saudi

I don’t want to make too much of this. I could simply be searching the Google for the wrong string. But ISIS is supposed to be wicked media-savvy, so no Google hits at all from their leader on Israel or Saudi Arabia (see here) seems odd, like a dog not barking in the night. Are there other such (official) statements from ISIS? Does al-Baghdi leave such statements to underlings? Is he lying low? Holding his cards close to his chest? Did Obama whack him? Other hits come up under this name, so I don’t think I’ve been deceived by a transliteration problem. So again, I don’t want to make too much of this. But it’s odd. Readers?

On the other hand, or one of several other hands, if indeed there is a hand here, it’s a tenable theory that ISIS started out as US proxies and then got ideas above their station; blowback, in other words [Moon of Alabama]. And somebody with a real budget needs to look into the ISIS videos [Cannonfire].

So now we have an anti-ISIS “world coalition” of 40 countries [Guardian]. Hagel: “We are at war with ISIS.” Joint Chiefs Chair Dempsey might recommend “advisors” to Obama [USA Today]. Obama, last Wednesday: “American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq” [WaPo]. That was fast. What could go wrong? [The Intercept]

Meanwhile, Boehner and McConnell agree that Obama’s war would be best debated during the lame-duck session before the holidays, so Obama gets what he wants for now [WaPo]. Just as courageous as Democrats faced with Bush’s AUMF.

I think it would be simpler to make a list of whom we are not at war with (Five Eyes, basically?) and then assume we’re at war with everybody else. Too many players, too many scorecards, all contested.


Obama to advance $763 million plan for military-led plan: doctors, labs, portable hospitals [USA Today]; yesterday’s Atlanta meeting must have been an eye-opener. 3,000 troops to be committed [New York Times]. AFRICOM finally good for something, I suppose [White House].

Reminder: Malaria is the top killer [Al Jazeera].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Greenwald, Snowden, Assange (and Kim Dot Com) live in concert in New Zealand. Greenwald starts at about 28:00:

Don’t listen to NPR or talk radio or whatever you’re listening to. Listen to this! Not all hobbits and sheep in New Zealand, obviously. (If you hear the word XKeyscore, here’s an explanation.)

Stats Watch

We have one of the eight-times-a-year FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meetings today [Bloomberg]. Given what we now know, am I the only one who find the name Orwellian? The meeting ends tomorrow, and lots of people expect different things, especially on QE, “exit strategy,” “forward guidance,” and other Delphic utterances [Forbes].

Redbook shows a “sharp slowing” of 0.4% down in month-on-month sales rate, but analysts blame end of back-to-school sales [Bloomberg]. Sales are up 4.2% year-on-year, 0.2% under target. “Uneven” not just because of back-to-school, but cool weather (I’ll say!) and apparel [NASDAQ].

Annals of Rental Extraction

Private prisons sue states for not keep them full because contracts [Rolling Out] (interesting this gets traction in an entertainment source).

The new vests Walmart is forcing its “associates” to buy were made in Jordan [Racked] (interesting this gets traction in a fashion source).

US guest worker program used for human trafficking [Orlando Weekly].

Colorado utility bills its customers for fighting a rate hike [Daily Camera].

Readers, if you have an additions to “Annals of Rental Extraction,” particularly egregious corruption at the state level — or even at the gloriously seamy local level — that hasn’t reached the Acela bubble, I’d love to hear about them. Public, private, public-private partnerships, whatever!

News of The Wired

  • Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano erupts (video) [Telegraph].
  • Philippines Mayon volcano has magma at the crater, thousands evacuated [Rappler].
  • Seed sharing: Common Pool Resource Management that Monsanto would love to kill [Shareable]. Warning: The first impression, of vile social media clickbait, deceives. The article is full of good links.
  • Flak for Apple’s compulsory free gift of a U2 album continues [Wired]. So but and iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million in one day [Reuters].
  • Siri will ultimately become useful [Techcrunch]. The somewhat overheated article posits a “Cambrian explosion” for the key AI application: Personal Assistants. Reads like Silicon Valley techbro triumphalist wankery (“seeking funding”) to me. I don’t need a PA to call me a taxi when I’m drunk. As the punchiine of the old joke goes: “Paint my house!”
  • VC shares his disgruntlement with the startup CEOs he funds [AVC].

* * *

Readers, feel free to send me (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) images of plants; I now have some of yours to choose from, and I’ll start running them. Vegetables are fine! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Don’t mail Yves! And here’s a plant:


And more plants, please! Bigger images (say, 1200px or thereabouts) preferred. Thank you!

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Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Vatch

    This isn’t really new news, but it’s worth noticing, because it affects all of us:


    “Internal records examined by Reuters reveal that some of the nation’s largest poultry producers routinely feed chickens an array of antibiotics – not just when sickness strikes, but as a standard practice over most of the birds’ lives.

    “In every instance of antibiotic use identified by Reuters, the doses were at the low levels that scientists say are especially conducive to the growth of so-called superbugs, bacteria that gain resistance to conventional medicines used to treat people. Some of the antibiotics belong to categories considered medically important to humans.”

    1. JGordon

      Stupidity ought to be criminally punishable. Although another way of looking at it is that bacteria and viruses are the most effective predator mother nature has yet devised to control the populations of social animals like humans, and that the morons running these farms are greatly aiding mother nature’s efforts to curb the human population by running them as they do.

      I know I’m naive, but I was surprised too when that air flights in and out of Africa were still being allowed/tolerated despite the horrifying epidemic that has been incubating there. Although if I start from the premise that the human species in general is suicidally stupid at the genetic level, then things like nuclear power, the handling of ebola, and farm-antibiotic use suddenly make a lot of sense. We are designed to off ourselves.

      1. afisher

        With the Airline seat blocker outrage at an all time high – maybe folks should be held in quarantine at the airport or possibly in the assigned seat for 3 days – just in case. If one can survive 3 days on an airline – they should be ok? /s

      2. psychohistorian

        The way I had it described to me recently is that our species is like a virus in a petri dish where we are overflowing the dish and acting as a food source that will willing deliver itself to a potential biological predator.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          When an entire generation of humans are not worthy enough, it’s possible the next generation reincarnates all as cats.

          But if somehow one guy (or gal) is too virtuous, then this human virus is not completely wiped out and we are left with a world of one human and many, many cats.

          And this human will probably clone him or herself and the virus lingers forever…

      3. different clue

        It is mainly modern industrial man (and its recruits and joiners) which is offing itself. Other culturloads of man didn’t spend their time offing themselves. Whoever offed so many Indian Nations members, it wasn’t the Indian Nations themselves.

    2. wbgonne

      Industrial food is dangerous and disgusting. And since neoliberalism has gutted our regulatory system it is caveat emptor on the food supply. Antibiotics are already failing due to over-prescription and misuse in food animals and when antibiotics don’t work we have a major problem. We are setting landmines and timebombs as if we are daring someone to take us all out. We are lemmings marching off the cliff.

      How about a big beautiful eggplant as a plantidote?

    1. jgordon

      I believe it comes from a lack of intuitive comprehension of what exponential growth means. Malaria isn’t going anywhere. Ebola, on the other hand, which has previously evolved the ability to spread through air in an extremely small, confined population, has the potential to wipe out 60-90% of humanity. Hey, it’s happened to the human species in the past, in eras where people were far less mobile. It’s merely complacency, normalcy bias and wishful thinking that makes most people believe it couldn’t happen today. Those are also the sorts of cognitive errors that shape people’s belief about things like economics and technology and such as well.

  2. frosty zoom


    i wonder if prison corp will be able to sue other countries under TPP and the future GYSIOA* if they fail to keep their prisons full.

    *Global Your Schitt Is Ours Agreedment

  3. Peter Pan

    So President Obomber is going to use military force (boots on the ground) in Africa to eradicate Ebola? What could possibly go wrong? I wonder about blowback…..and drone strikes, too.

    1. optimader

      The role of the US Military is to function as a killing machine in the execution of a declared war which should only occur as a last resort in the case of failed diplomacy, that’s it.
      It should be budgeted for accordingly like a necessary, evil insurance policy.

      The role and budget of the US Military has been completely obfuscated and bloated.

    2. MikeW_CA

      To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To a military empire, every problem looks like it has a military solution.

      1. MikeNY

        Can we officially call ISIS a war now, after Hagel? I’m so relieved.

        I’d hardly know us, if we weren’t at war with *somebody*.

        1. abynormal

          weeeeell we’re putting more boots on the ground against ebola than isis
          if Hagel starts yak’n about democratizing the dang virus…we’ll be on target

          When you’re dealing in situations that are uncontrollable and combustible, you try to stabilize the situation as quickly as you can and then work toward and work out toward democratic reform.
          Chuckie Hagel

  4. redleg

    Mayon is active every few years. It is dangerous to people nearby but catastrophic (Pinatubo level) eruption isn’t in the cards. The ones that don’t erupt for a century or more++ are the globally dangerous ones.
    Bardarbunga could possibly unleash a 1783 sized eruption (Laki/Grimsvotn), but there would likely be warning of something big that the Icelandic Volcanologists (top tier in the world) would pick up.

  5. Banger

    Good stuff on ISIS. The great thing about this particular operation is that it is so transparent. Since the U.S. media has trained the population that shit just happens and has no cause–particularly in that region where those A-rabs are just craaaazy. No one links Libya (huh?)-Turkey-Syrian “opposition” trained in Jordan (Israeli satellite state). No one traces where the money and guns comes from–it just pops out of the ground. This mad horde of crazy A-rabs just came out of the ground with expert abilities to use modern weapons and routs a million man army with 10k fighters. That U.S. trained army simply abandons its position to enable ISIS to grab the weapons doesn’t seem to interest anyone in the media–oh yeah, they’re crazy A-rabs and it Obomber’s fault for not keeping the occupation of Iraq going in perpetuity. Ok–well, the American public and the U.S. intellectual class (so sad) will accept every and any absurdity simply because “intelligence sources” say it is so. If the CIA told MSNBC and NPR that ISIS is manned by transformer warriors trained in subway tunnels in Tokyo they would f-cking believe it–Harvard would hold a symposium about how we failed to see it coming etc.

    Here’s the kicker, we call all probably agree on, that the establishment academics, entertainers, media personalities, “journalists”, politicians, cops, soldiers are all either stunningly stupid or deeply corrupt and malicious–and yes, I know that these characters have to spout a lot of BS in order to keep their jobs–but come on–this is how the Gulags and concentration camps thrived back in the day. This has got to stop!

    1. dannyc

      They were unemployed warriors trained in the subway tunnels of Tokyo. Paul Bremer fired everybody. ISIS is an entrepreneurial army.

    2. RUKidding

      You are correct to feel frustrated/angry/whatever with what appears to be a blissfully ignorant populace readily accepting every lying piece of b.s. fed to them esp about the need for ever more War.

      Perhaps some soothing anecdotal info will help somewhat. I am hearing more people comment that ISIS/ISIL/whatever is bogus; that, in fact, they are NOT believing the corporate fascist propaganda; and they don’t agree with some jumped up “need” to go put more boots on the ground + drones/bombs in the air. I am also hearing more say: CIA created for the 1% to make money.

      Here’s another thing: just remember that it’s ALSO propaganda when the M$M comes out with poll numbers or “citizen reactions” or whatever that seem to say the “majority” of citizens are so very very afraid of ISIS/ISIL and definitely want BigDaddy MIC to go forth to make us “safe” for our freedumbs. I’ve really been asking around lately, and the most I get is a “meh” even IF someone actually believes that ISIS is somehow real. I think many citizens at least Q how they somehow pose a threat to the USA.

      Does this matter, in the end, whether the MOTU will go forth and waste US taxpayer dollar$ on murdering more brown people in ME? Not really. It’s becoming ever more clear – and clearer to more citizens, I might add – that the US govt certainly is not representing the 99%. I am hearing this more than I used to.

      This is why I tossed out my tv ages ago & listen to the radio very sparingly & selectively. Listen to or watch that crap, and it makes it seem like “everyone” agrees with this horse hockey. I’d say: not so much.

      The issue is: how do we make a real change in our lifetime? Now that’s a Q that’s tough.

      1. Banger

        I am always telling people to stop watching the news unless they are well versed and inoculated to the propaganda–I know the industry too well to believe anything they say. Also, I’m actually not angry–I’ve been angry at all this BS but I’m not at the moment but I am passionate. I accept the reality of this situation we are in and I believe that, ultimately, we will find a way to move beyond this evil crap.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      ISIS is a spontaneous immaculate conception, spawned fully armed from the underworld forges at Isengard like Saruman’s orcs. More plausible: NYC and WDC are now fully controlled by an ET race of shape-shifting reptiles intent on culling the human herd and turning the remainder into slaves.

  6. DJG

    Great essay in the October issue of Harper’s Magazine by Wyatt Mason, You Are Not Alone across Time. In it, he profiles Bryan Doerries, who is using theater to cure emotional ailments, which is part of what theater is about. Doerries mentions that his father was a Skinnerian psychologist who firmly believed that human beings don’t change. I’d argue that human beings who don’t go to the theater, who don’t participate, don’t change, so they rely on the same old tactics along with some dazzle camouflage: So you have this whole group of too-clever-by-half boys (and, now, too, girls) as our elite. There’s the mystery of Obama’s too-clever-by-half decision making. There’s Paul Ryan. There’s the Paul family ideological dynasty. There’s Osama bin Laden. Chalabi. Netanyahu. You can name them. How do we stop them? I’m not sure yet. But I’m contemplating how the Scots are making the Anglo-American elites crap their pants, not to put too fine a point on it. Maybe we should start examining the dazzle camouflage more closely.

    1. RUKidding

      You might be on to something.

      Vis the Scottish Indie vote: I was impressed that Betty Windsor is evidently concerned enough that she made a public comment to the Scots not to leave the mothership. That, alone, made me feel that the Scots might be on to something good.

  7. abynormal

    WH spokesman…”People around the world, knowing that the United States Department of Defense is involved in this effort, can have some more(:- /) confidence that the effort is well run, that it will be well executed and that they can contribute to the effort knowing that they’ll have the necessary resources to succeed,” (hunt’n for the speech but its being removed from all around)

    is washington going to start showing troops bleeding from their eyes while asking us to send $$ ?

  8. ewmayer

    OK, here the comments to the 30 Famous Logos That Have A Hidden Message link (and I made sure to prepend the http this time) I posted in yesterday’s 2PMWC:


    o McDonald’s: I admit I was oblivious to the “Mickey Dee’s as the Russ Meyer film of fast food franchises” angle asserted by the brand-psychologist fellow. Thanks for keeping us abreast of that, dude. But how does that square with their no-milk shakes?

    o Mistubishi: Of course the symbol has nothing whatsoever to do with the image of the propellor on the WW2 Mitsubishi Zero. (“Make Bonsai, not Banzai” is our unofficial corporate logo, if you must know).

    o Northwest Airlines: I always saw the triangle as being of the “pointing down” kind like elevators use, and embodying “the trend in our service quality over the years”.

    o Amazon: See, I *told* you it wasn’t a curvy-banana phallic symbol.

    o Google: Ah ha, ha, you guys are so freaking clever! Now please fvck off already, and keep your creepy paws off our private data and your creepy “smart devices” out of our homes, cars and bodies, OK?

    o Tostitos: “Two priests of the high church of chemo-starchology celebrating mass”.

    o Elefont: OK, I admit that one is cool. And being monochrome-minimalist, I bet it only cost peanuts…

    o Toblerone: Da Bearsssss! Wish they came in extra-dark, though. (Maybe they do, but not at the local stores I visit that carry them). To ask for that in German, just say “Könnte ich bitte eine Dunkelsckokoladenbärchendreieckstafel kaufen?” And they say German is hard to learn…

    o Pepsi: Talk about overthinking things … hey morons! It’s *still* just fizzy colored overpriced sugarwater!

    o IBM: Some companies being more equal that others, naturally.

    o Spartan GC: Cute, but I get the feeling the real Spartans wouldn’t have thought much of golf. “Looks like Leonidas is going to use a 6-iron to brain this next par-3 troop of Persian mercenaries … but he needs to watch out for that pothole bunker guarding the back left of the green…”

    o Unilever: Ouch, that hurts my eyes to look at. And shouldn’t it be “Multilever”?

    o Toyota: I guess “heart-shaped” doesn’t mean what it used to.

    o BMW: Unlike Mitsubishi, the Bavarians are not afraid to “embrace their inner propellorhead”.

    o Sun Microsystems: If they’d only put as much thought into their business model as they did their logo. (Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Jon “my ponytail gives me limitless geek cred” Schwartz).

    o Wendy’s: Oh gawd, not another “Mom, apple pie and a nourishing pair of mammalian protuberances” deal.” (BTW, Russ Meyer called, he wants to know if he can supersize those).

    o Bronx Zoo: Youse short stuffs like dis logo here?

    o Coca-Cola: If you look hard enough, I bet you can see that it also contains the name of the prophet written upside down and backwards, which is blasphemy. Can we get a media stunt for that, too?

    o FedEx: If they’re so forward-thinking, shouldn’t the arrow be pointing, well, forward?

    o Presbyterian Church: “There is no ‘I’ in ‘Presbyterian’! Oh,wait…”

    o Eighty20: Hey guys – byte me.

    o LG: And don’t forget the fuzzy-wuzzy huggable bunny-wunnies!

    o Adidas: Ah, see, I thought the 3 thingies represented the metaphorical thrust-faulting subduction zone of the sports gear marketplace. Learn something new every day.

    o Häagen-Dazs: I always thought the name was Danish for “Gratuitous Umlauts ‘R’ Us”.

    o NBC: “Yeah, it’s a peacock, but did you ever wonder why it has so many colors?” Um, because real peacocks have many colors in their famously colorful iridescent plumage? Nah, that couldn’t be it…

    o Audi: You mean it’s not a reference to the 4-opera Ring Cycle by that Robert Wagner dude?

    And make sure to click on “awesome clickbaity stuff you may have missed” when you get to the end of the Sekrit logo stuff!

    1. petal

      Toblerones do come in dark chocolate. And at Christmas you can even get ones that have both milk and white. They look like snow-covered mountains.

    2. abynormal

      Good Job EW…taking it with me.
      nailed it… “Sun Microsystems: If they’d only put as much thought into their business model as they did their logo. (Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Jon “my ponytail gives me limitless geek cred” Schwartz).”

      1. ambrit

        Well, why not? When we guys ask to be supersized, we are! Who would have guessed that Wendys and the other fast food joints were in the vanguard of the feminist movement? Due to their tireless efforts, men now experience the attributes of caring mommys. (As cannabis legalization gains speed, the double whammy of munchies and weed will usher in a new era of “Full Chestal Equality!”
        Are you pondering what I’m pondering?

  9. grizziz

    Why do I always hear Anals of Rental Extraction? I must have eaten too much techbro triumphalist wankery.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      It’s better than what I first thought the headline said (two-tiered dyslexia):

      Anal Retention Extraction. I need to clean my reading glasses.

      1. lambert strether

        The “Annals of _____” snowclone is actually stolen from The New Yorker, but if it causes that much [snarl] off topic discussion….

  10. trish

    heads up on link issues.

    this: Private prisons sue states for not keep them full because contracts [Rolling Out]
    What a “Get Tough With China” Stance Would Really Look Like, from 2011

    and this: Colorado utility bills its customers for fighting a rate hike [Daily Camera]. I get page not found.

    (I found it here:

    sorry if you’ve already heard…

  11. JohnB

    This author, Derryl Hermanutz, has done an incredible job with this (long) article about bank money creation, monetary reform, and how this ties into the history of capitalism:

    I’ve read a lot of different takes on this topic, from Steve Keen, Positive Money, MMT/NEP, even Bill Still (an actual card-carrying Libertarian, who supports government use of money creation – which is like some kind of paradox :)), and Derryl has done some of the most interesting/enlightening writing on this – some of what he has written in the past, might even expose some (minor) flaws in MMT as well – please plug this guy on NC, as he deserves the attention, and is an excellent writer.

  12. slick

    Hell, it isn’t 2pm. And this has nothing to do with the links above. BUT, how f**ked-up is that these a**holes can cover-up the Saudi funding of 9/11, see this…


    (yeah, I am just a poor, dumb Southerner)

    and for posterity…


    …Then head over to The Kingdom, for some special lobbying (wonder if they got a “happy ending”)…


    Then come back and advocate for war against Prince Bandar’s Frankenstein monster ISIL with troops for our very own middle to lower classes!?!


    I really like this part from the Dkos article…

    At the Munich Security Conference in February 2014 Senator John McCain praised Prince Bandar again,
    JOHN McCAIN: “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends,”

    I mean, can you believe these people? I know, you’re not surprised either. We deserve what ever smite-ing awaits us.

    I have a five year old boy. When these f**kers come back and say, “we need to draft your kid to fight in our war” the howls of laughter will reach higher than the clouds. We should amend the constitution, the first #’s in any draft should be mandated to be drawn from the children of our congressional reps, until they run out, then the public… it is SERVICE to the public right?

  13. trish

    re US guest worker program used for human trafficking

    And how is our Exceptional country different from Saudi Arabia, China, Uganda, Sri Lanka, etc?
    I know, I know. I don’t have to wear a head scarf, I can drink relatively safe water from my tap, sleep with who I want, drink with who I want…etc. We don’t behead or stone or hang prisoners…yet. I’m white and legal, one of the lucky ones really, and as long as I don’t threaten the interests of our corporate criminals, I’m OK.
    But, jeez…the global corporate criminal convergence.

    And boy, what a fine! $2,400 in civil penalties. And a mere $3,557.62 in back wages for 22 employees.
    Where are the criminal charges? Silly question, I know.

    Fill all those private prison vacancies with these kinds of criminals. along with all the Wall Street perps, kleptocrats & big-time scammers, corporate polluters, and their cronies in government, ought to do the trick.

  14. Steve Smith

    The link to the Daily Camera goes to a non-existent Naked Capitalism page. Here’s a direct link:

    I clicked on the “more plants please” link and got an email form, which I filled in. I got to the end and realized I didn’t see any way to attach a picture. I added that note and tried to send it, but was refused. I’m not on facebook, g+ etc. How do I do this? It’s a nice colorful plant pic.

  15. No Shit Sherlock

    “guest worker program used for human trafficking”

    The Human Rights Council has been saying this since 2010, and it begins to percolate into the press only now. Just goes to show you how well-guarded labor exploitation is. By comparison, concerted international pressure to end the death penalty got traction within weeks. Our corporate state likes to kill em, but they got to exploit em.

  16. juliania

    Thanks again, Lambert! [Moment of Truth] I loved it. A hugely entertaining and informative night; I watched it live at 1 a.m. Attended a performance of Benjamin Britten’s ‘Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ as a teen in that same Town Hall; the vibes are still there.

      1. downunderer

        Thanks for staying with our political troubles down here! I watched the live webcast, and I was stunned and elated. A historical moment right there in Town Hall. Some of the greatest heroes of my lifetime appearing onscreen and talking about our problems, bringing a little light to a region dominated by the darkness of a thoroughly sold-out MSM and a largely apathetic/ignorant populace.

        I well remember seeing Watergate become history, as a teacher on summer break able to watch the live daytime TV as events unfolded in Congress. I think this is far more important.

        Sadly, though, the outcome may well be the opposite: no reforms, close eyes to abuses of power and continue over the cliff. There is no opposition in New Zealand as effective as the Democrats were at going after a Republican President, and the structure of law in New Zealand is more flexible for those with the right grip on the controls. [Hell, just last December, Parliament passed an ex-post-facto law that said that ratepayers in Kaipara District – 14,000 of us including me – are responsible for $60-100 million in debts illegally and secretly incurred by our local government (and with nothing to show for it), despite the many legal guarantees that supposedly protected us from exactly that.]

        But most importantly, the issue is worldwide and involves bad actors with far greater resources than Nixon ever had, and who are already in a stronger position than any US President since Nixon.

        But there is still hope . . . watch the election results on Saturday (Friday, your time).

  17. Nicholas Cole

    Off-topic, but I’m hoping one of you attentive-types can give me a hand. I’m trying to track down a video that was on here in the last six months. There was a critical discussion of property rights in a large group setting after which the presenter took opinions from the audience on the issue of how transferable and comprehensive hunting rights in Canada should be for indigenous communities. For some reason I thought the presenter was John Clarke (of Clarke and Dawe fame) but I’ve realized that can’t be right. He may have looked similar.

    Thanks in advance. If I could find it, it’d be a great counterpoint to some readings I’m doing on common pool resources.

  18. JM Hatch

    John Key isn’t the only person who should be pressed, but every member of the NZ parliament who voted for the law. It would not surprise me to find that some of them were blackmailed into voting for the law, not unlike what is happening in Washington DC.

  19. sd

    Bárðarbunga has not erupted. A fissure near the volcano has opened and there is a hypotheses that a new shield volcano is coming into being.

    Meanwhile, the caldera in Bárðarbunga continues to sink with regular earthquakes that register over 4 and frequently over 5. it is this sinking caldera that is of acute interest as the volcano straddles tectonic plates as well as rift zones. It’s a big deal.

    Bad guys in Iraq – the key phrase you want to watch for is “contingency operation” which is the euphemism for “war” in use today. “Coalition” means that the other nations are legally added as parties to the conflict and can not be prosecuted as mercenaries under various treaties signed among the United Nations. it also means companies from those nations are eligible for various US funds (ie, contracts)

    If this sounds familiar, it should. It’s exactly what happened during the early days of the Iraq invasion (which had actually started 6 months earlier when the first contracts were prepared)

  20. JM Hatch

    Those “terrorist” raids in Australia came about at just the right time for New Zealand. Let the conspiracy theories role.

  21. Theo

    Could the technical people on your end do anything to boost the sound of videos? My system is at 100 and the video above is at maximum setting, but the overall sound quality is poor. This is true of almost all videos.

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