Links 7/24/15

Dear patient readers,

I am again tardy on Links. Please check back at 7:30 AM for the full version.

‘Killer’ seagulls top the pecking order for a media frenzy Guardian (vidmi)

Resolving Social Conflict Is Key to Survival of Bacterial Communities ScienceBlog

Earth’s Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning Slate (Lawrence R)

NASA spies Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting Sun-like star Nature News & Comment. Chuck L: “430 parsecs is about 1,400 light years.”

Breaking bad at NIST Science/AAAS (Chuck L)

Meth Lab Explodes Inside Government Building New York Magazine (reslic)

Bill Nye on the Monsanto Eco Disaster: ‘We Accidentally Decimated the Monarch Butterfly Population’ EcoWatch

Thousands of Apps Secretly Run Ads That Users Can’t See Bloomberg (EM)

Why Bitcoin Group’s float is still in limbo Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

China outlook weakens as Caixin/Markit flash PMI hits surprise 15-month low Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

Nikkei vows to respect FT’s independence Financial Times

GM is struggling to hit targets in China due to falling car prices and weak economic growth Reuters

What can French and German fairy tales tell us about the eurozone crisis? Foreign Policy (Dr. Kevin)

Fintan O’Toole: Europe divided by a sense of crisis and a sea of amnesia Irish Times (Margarita)

Euro Zone: Italy Leans While Greece Tumbles Bloomberg

Low-income families pushed out of London Financial Times. “Low income”? How about middle income too?


The Return of the Ugly German Project Syndicate (Chuck L)

EU bailout team in Athens for talks BBC

Security issues delay start of Greece’s new bailout talks Reuters

Bank curbs hit Greek charities ekathimerini

This is the end of the line for Syriza The Conversation

Gearing Up for More War in Ukraine? Michael Shedlock

The Greek tragedy continues Japan Times

Some 229,000 SMEs have shut since 2008 ekathimerini

The Brussels diktat: and what followed openDemocracy


A Year Later, U.S. Campaign Against ISIS Garners Support, Raises Concerns Pew Research

U.S. Jets to Use Turkish Bases in War on ISIS New York Times

Israeli Military Admits to Supporting Syrian Jihadis George Washington


Oil and gas crunch pushes Russia closer to fiscal crisis Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Imperial Collapse Watch

America’s Already-Failed Cyber War American Conservative (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

OLC Undermines DOJ Inspector General Independence Marcy Wheeler

US court says ‘pocket-dialed’ calls are not private ITworld (Chuck L)

Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account New York Times. Notice the passive voice in the headline? The Grey Lady seems loath to flag that the pressure is coming from inspectors general.

The short-fingered vulgarian cometh Pando

Black Injustice Tipping Point

‘Selma’ director Ava DuVernay says dashcam video of Sandra Bland arrest was doctored Raw Story

CNN Panel Explodes After Ex-Cop Says Sandra Bland Died Because She Was ‘Arrogant From the Beginning’ Alternet

Police State Watch

Court Declares Air Fresheners, Pro-Police Stickers as Reasonable Suspicion for Cops to Pull You Over Free Thought Project

How Newark Held Its Police Accountable Open Society (Judy B)

Defending The $3 Billion Bail Business Takeaway (Reslic)

U.S. Racing to Show Links to Elusive Hackers in JPMorgan Attack Bloomberg

Government Pension Cuts Tangled in Patchwork of Legal Rulings New York Times

Deciphering Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis Council on Foreign Relations

Class Warfare

Attorney Market for Discharging Student Loans Dale Jiminez, Credit Slips

Push to Lift Minimum Wage Is Now Serious Business New York Times

@EricaJoy’s salary transparency experiment at Google (with tweets) Storify (Chuck L)

Uber faces class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Ontario taxi driver CBC (Chuck L)

Woman upset after car stolen by FlightCar renter ABC7. EM: “Ah, the wild, wacky ‘sharing economy’. As for the ‘thefts are incredibly rare’ claim by Mr. Adlesh, well perhaps outright vehicle thefts are rare, but let’s just say that the Yelp reviews are in interesting mix of ‘great’ and ‘hair-rasing’.”

Antidote du jour (reslic). This may seem a bit fierce, but we need our bees!

bee-in-flight.jpg.0x545_q70_crop-scale links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Willbur

    In the words of the philosopher, Nurse Diesel, “Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup.”

    But you didn’t care about the fruit cup, so no worries, mate!

  2. Ulysses

    Henry Giroux cuts right to the chase:

    “Markets and power are immune to justice, and despise it. All that matters is that control – financial and political – serves soulless markets and the Darwinian culture of cruelty. How many more young people are going to be killed for walking in the street, failing to signal a lane shift, looking a police officer in the eye, or playing with a toy gun? How many more names of Black men, women and young people will join the list of those whose deaths have sparked widespread protests: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Renisha McBride, Aiyana Jones and Sakia Gunn, among many others – and now, Sandra Bland. Is it any wonder that one funeral director in Chicago stated that “young people in the city do not expect to live late into their adult life”? Moreover, police violence in the United States is not only a direct manifestation of state violence, but also serves as a gateway to prison, especially for people of color and the poor.”

    The brutalization of life here in the U.S. continues apace. We are fast entering Hunger Games territory, with hundreds of millions enduring horrific oppression– so that a few million wealthy people can feel “secure” in their enclaves, removed from the desperate struggles of everyone else. The particular surge in violence, against people of color, is cynically designed to divide the working classes along racial lines, and prevent them from recognizing their common interests.

    1. Skippy

      Any system architecture no matter how painstakingly thought out will always be vulnerable to the human tool user problem e.g. if the majority of the individuals and groups attending to their various duties, within the system architecture, share a common philosophy or ideology, that will be born out in reflection regardless of the so called checks and balances i.e. in Americas case Citizens United was rationalized as a means to make corporations responsible, regardless of any individual humans running them, in the end it enabled them to largely subjugate the political process, too its will. Which has ultimately handed them the rights to write their own laws, which are informed by what they deem – rational – which further feeds the narrative via academic funding in a self reinforcing loop, due to their superior bargaining rights, at the political table.

      Skippy… sprinkle with a bit of esoteric self awarded superiority w/ an underlining persecution complex and presto.

    2. abynormal

      Danny Dalton: Some trust fund prosecutor, got off-message at Yale thinks he’s gonna run this up the flagpole? Make a name for himself? Maybe get elected some two-bit congressman from nowhere, with the result that Russia or China can suddenly start having, at our expense, all the advantages we enjoy here? No, I tell you. No, sir! Corruption charges! Corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. That’s Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize. We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets. Corruption is why we win. ~Syriana

  3. Brooklin Bridge

    Attacked by seagulls? Put a stick over your head, or anything like a stick (umbrella, broom handle, whatever is handy). They won’t stop diving, but It’s amazing how well it works to keep them from actually hitting you. The next thing to do is get away from the area where the chicks are hatching/being raised.

    Will not work with politicians, lawyers, or insurance people of any kind.

    1. Gareth

      Do not wear a red cap or shirt around Red Winged blackbirds during breeding season. It drives them nuts. I learned this the hard way. I felt stupid running from a bird but it had to be done.

  4. financial matters

    I think Yves has a good point that Kaletsky may be on track re Greece.

    Why the Greek deal will work Project Syndicate. A remarkably contrarian reading, but Kaletsky was virtually the only pundit who predicted that Tsipras would capitulate.

    “Finally, Germany, Spain, Italy, and several northern European countries required, for domestic political reasons, a ritual humiliation of radical Greek politicians and voters who openly defied EU institutions and austerity demands. Having achieved this, EU leaders have no further reason to impose austerity on Greece or strictly enforce the terms of the latest bailout. Instead, they have every incentive to demonstrate the success of their “tough love” policies by easing austerity to accelerate economic growth, not only in Greece but throughout the eurozone.”

    I think the euro survived Greece and will now have to deal with problems in Spain and Italy. I think this will be the true test to see if the troika is capable of easing austerity to accelerate economic growth.

    ““The Greek deal and negotiations have helped them [anti-euro Italian leaders] make the case that it is impossible to reform the euro from the inside, and that is why they say that Italy should leave,” Scarpetta added.”

    1. JohnnyGL

      That’s an interesting quote about how the deal might play out. It’s certainly arguable that the EU have gotten the kind of ‘regime change’ they were looking for. After all the shouting, Tsipras is, in fact, playing ball. He is purging Syriza’s rebels and bringing the opposition parties on board to execute on the deal. He may yet turn the party into a rebranded, repackaged version of PASOK.

      It makes sense they need to turn Greece into a success story. It’s too destabilizing to push them out and would create geopolitical uncertainties. I wonder if keeping an eye on Schauble and whether he quietly fades out of the picture might be a kind of tell. He seemed to be dead serious about shoving Greece out to prove his point. If he’s sidelined, that might be an indicator.

      I wonder how well Tsipras is going to be able to execute on the “reforms”, and how hard the EU will push before declaring “success” from the whole thing. I’m sure they’d love to pretend Greece is some kind of rehabilitated problem child who finally took their medicine and got better.

  5. vidimi

    Big Tobacco shills who played wingman to mass death-for-profit, from Malcolm Gladwell and Glenn Greenwald

    i just can’t take mark ames seriously when he goes off on his personal vendettas against better journalists with what is pure slander. he’s probably referring to the same drug legalisation speech GG gave at the cato institute for which he kept referring to him as ‘glenn greenwald, of the cato institute’.

    1. Mojah

      While there is a grain of truth to the whole personal vendetta thing (and with damn good reason too); you should read the article, GG is not brand spanky and shiny: he is a libertarian, and subscribes to (or atleast does not highlight his support for) many odious policies and measures. In this case Ames actually points to the law firm that GG used to work for during his early years where another new member had no problem leaving and holding the firm in question fully culpable for the peddling of death that the law firm helped with, in its work for the tobacco company. His specific point is that both GG and this other lawyer were newbies at the firm and while the other made a big fuss about the ethics of what his old firm did, GG never mentioned it. I should not really need to explain why Malcolm Gladwell is a modern day shill but if you are interested then I highly suggested reading why Ames says he is: it ain’t nice stuff. I do not mean to defend some of Ames personal-ish attacks, but he does have a point.

      1. vidimi

        i did read the article, it was a good review of spy magazine’s coverage of the donald, but in the end, i’m just not that interested in the donald.

        i stumbled upon GG when he was writing at salon and i may have even found this site through him when he bigged this site up. i’ve been following him long enough to know that he is not a libertarian but a civil libertarian only. noam chomsky, whom i also follow, also describes himself as a civil libertarian. so if he does subscribe to any odious policy or measure i have missed it and you would do me a service to name it instead of leaving it at the insinuation stage.

        as far as working for a law firm with a tobacco client when he was younger, as someone currently working for an unsavoury multinational insurance company, i can forgive that. purer human beings than i can hold that against him but then, i suppose, you should probably leave this site as yves once worked for goldman and mckinsey so she, too, is tainted.

    2. Roquentin

      Sadly, as much as I like Ames I agree. He doesn’t know when to quit flogging a dead horse. He can’t finish an article without bashing Greenwald. Even though there’s some truth to it, if you’ve been reading him for a while it just sounds like a broken record. I can’t say his constant attempts to turn viciousness into a virtue and constantly making sure you know he feels this way play too well with me either.

      I started skipping large sections of the essay about halfway through. I just didn’t care anymore. Not about SPY magazine, not about the clownish characters from the 90s no one remembers and no one under 35 has ever heard of, and not even Trump. This in spite of the fact I despise Trump and everything his stands for.

  6. Eric Patton

    Of course, the climate-warming article is probably the most important, but the one I enjoyed the most (in a “things are always darkest before they go completely black” sort of way) was the one on the depression in Russia.

    We’re not going to take on the Russians militarily. We’re going to economically napalm them back to the stone age. I’d say we’re going to focus our military efforts on China, but the Chinese are doing a pretty good job wrecking their own economy, so maybe we’ll get a two-fer.

    If I were a US elite, I’d be more worried about Germany.

    1. cnchal

      Germans are focused on building weapons of mass production. The results of that are in auto showrooms and glossy machine tools brochures.

        1. cnchal

          France should be “my hair is on fire” worried.

          The speed with which German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel—less than a week after the conclusion of the nuclear agreement with Iran—rushed to Tehran at the head of a business delegation seeking to profit from an anticipated boom in orders, demonstrates vividly the aggressiveness with which Germany pursues its global economic interests.

          Why weren’t the French and Americans there, with at least the same speed? Iran hasn’t been loaded with debt yet, so can still pay it’s bill.

          Over this period, marked broadly by de-industrialization and social retrogression in France, Germany has emerged as a much stronger industrial and commercial power.

          It is the difference between relative and absolute advantage that comes into focus here. Manufacturing and industry creates wealth. De-industrialization, not.

    2. James Levy

      Evidence that the German military could beat the British or the French, let alone take on the USA? Readiness assessments? Spare parts, ammunition, and POL stockpiles? Active combat units? Trained ready reserves? Men between the ages of 18 and 35? Tanks, artillery tubes, multiple rocket launchers, and attack helicopters? Any evidence whatsoever other than bigotry and bile?

      1. Eric Patton

        Yes. The French are concerned. So is the New York Times, among others.

        According to the former article, “The statement of Strauss-Kahn represents a belated public recognition by the French ruling elite that the reorientation of German policy, including Berlin’s abandonment of its post-World War II policy of military restraint last year, threatens its fundamental interests.” Apparently, someone in France feels that Germany might be interested in making more than Sham-Wow pads for Vince Offer to pimp.

        The World Socialist Web Site also reports that European capitalism “is reviving divisions between major European powers that led to all-out war between Germany and France three times in the last century and a half.” Apparently they believe past history might be a minimal indicator of possible future results.


        Over this period, marked broadly by de-industrialization and social retrogression in France, Germany has emerged as a much stronger industrial and commercial power. It established powerful financial and industrial positions in Eastern Europe. As its military potential is being unleashed, moreover, Berlin is now signaling, through its policy on Greece, that it is willing to throw into question the basic political architecture of Europe and trample what Paris considers to be its fundamental strategic interests.

        The latter article reports that

        “The German question is back,” the New York Times wrote early last week, meaning by this the question of how Germany can be kept under control and prevented from dominating Europe and destroying it as in World War II. Over the course of the week, numerous articles appeared in the French, Italian, British and American press accusing the German government of seeking to dominate Europe and subject it to Berlin’s discipline.

        There are reports on the ground from Germany that the Germans don’t have good intentions:

        The World Socialist Web Site and the Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (Socialist Equality PartyPSG) have been warning that the German ruling class was returning to its aggressive and militaristic traditions.

        In September 2014, a PSG conference resolution noted: “The country’s ruling elites, which have thrown the world into the abyss twice before, are once again calling for ‘German leadership’ (Führung) and preparing to realise their imperialist interests through military violence… Almost 70 years after the crimes of the Nazis and Germany’s defeat in World War II, the German ruling class is once again adopting the imperialist great power politics of the Kaiser’s Empire and Hitler.”

        But the United States will keep the Germans in line, right? Yes, oil is still denominated in dollars, and the world still runs on US Treasuries. Still, someone is exceptionally happy about the new deal with Iran:

        [Germany and the US] confront each other as global economic rivals. The speed with which German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel—less than a week after the conclusion of the nuclear agreement with Iran—rushed to Tehran at the head of a business delegation seeking to profit from an anticipated boom in orders, demonstrates vividly the aggressiveness with which Germany pursues its global economic interests.

        Because the nature of the Eurozone, Germany commands something greater than the sum of its parts:

        The common currency, which was originally meant to bind Germany to Europe, has had the opposite effect. It has strengthened Germany’s economic dominance. A current account surplus of 7.5 percent (and rising) of gross domestic product gives Berlin a superior weight that blows up the EU in its old form. This has become ever more clear since the global financial crisis of 2008.

        The EU makes Germany more powerful, even without deutschmark-denominated oil. And let’s be honest about how power politics works: Everyone is always trying to secure their own advantage. The US has done a pretty good job of it since the end of World War II. But why should anyone expect the American advantage to last forever?

        The Germans most likely are not going to conquer the world. However, their power (which is growing — is the US’s?) is certainly being underestimated by many people.

        1. reprobate

          Unresponsive. Your claim was military. Your provided zip in the way of evidence.

          In fact, the German military is a pathetic joke:

          “For Germany’s military, hobbled helicopters were only the beginning. A parliamentary report leaked to the German press last month and obtained by the Washington Post detailed the shocking state of disrepair of Germany’s military hardware. Only one of its four submarines is operational. Only 70 out of its 180 GTK Boxer tanks are fit for deployment. Just seven of the German navy’s fleet of 43 helicopters are currently flightworthy. For a country that has professed a willingness to play a greater role in world affairs, the bad news just kept coming. Last month German instructors en route to Iraq to train Kurdish fighters were stranded in Bulgaria due to an aircraft malfunction. The defence ministry is considering renting extra planes if mechanical problems– which have already led to flight delays – hamper Germany’s ongoing mission to aid Ebola patients in west Africa….

          “Given the problems plaguing the military, some now question Germany’s ability to engage in more complex missions even if it wanted to. “

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            And they can’t even deliver submarines to Greece on time.

            Incompetence or evil scheme to weaken a potential target?

          2. Jack

            Ugh. The GTK Boxer isn’t a tank, it’s an AFV/APC, equivalent the the US military’s Stryker. I know this will strike many people as semantic quibbling, but just how the media doesn’t understand the difference between a rifle and a machine gun, the terminology here is consistently abused. The actual tanks of the German military are Leopard 2s, a design at least equal to the US Abrams and arguably better. On a related note, as far as I know, no tanks have yet appeared on Americas streets, not during any of the protests of recent years. Armored cars and maybe the occasional APC, but not actual tanks. When that happens, it’s really obvious:


            The German military is still a joke though. To quote Wikipedia:

            “The German Army operated about 2,350 Leopard 2s of all versions. To reduce maintenance costs, the German military has sold, donated or scrapped 90% of its inventory. Approximately 250 Leopard 2 tanks are in service as of March 2015.”

            I wonder what orthodox economists would say and do if tomorrow Germany were conquered and their free-markets forcibly disbanded? Might want to have thought about spending a bit more on that hated ‘government waste’, guys.

  7. Andrew

    RE:London, to echo a comment I read a few days ago, sadly the English have lost their capital to the neo-liberal experiment. Unless you are earning big bucks it’s increasingly difficult to eke out a living there. Rent and property prices are insane. Any spare land is being gobbled up by property developers to build luxury flats, most of whom end up being purchased by wealthy overseas investors (which then remain empty). But the mayor of London and the current government think this is wonderful and couldn’t care less about the less well off being squeezed.

  8. Adam S.

    RE: NASA spies Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting Sun-like star Nature

    Oh, only 1400 Light Years? It’ll just take us a little over 2 years at Warp 7 to reach there.

    Remember that the distances being discussed are so large that it would take absurdly long periods of time to get there even with some of the fictional propulsion systems people have dreamed up.

    /Why yes, I did look it up

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The scientific pay-off is now we can defend against a possible invasion and occupation* from that exoplanet.

      ‘How to defend ourselves against aliens, i don’t know. But keep monitoring them (and the Germans, I guess).’

      More research money is needed.

      *Their 0.01% too need a more hospitable place.

      1. optimader

        The scientific pay-off is now we can defend against a possible invasion and occupation* from that exoplanet.

        Hey , it may not even exist anymore. The Vogons may have destroyed it 1,399 light years ago and we just don’t know it yet!

        The Vogons .. in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—initially a BBC Radio series by Douglas Adams—who are responsible for the destruction of the Earth, in order to facilitate an intergalactic highway construction project. Vogons are slug-like but vaguely humanoid, are bulkier than humans, and have green skin. Vogons are described as “one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy—not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous”, and having “as much sex appeal as a road accident” as well as being the authors of “the third worst poetry in the universe”. They are employed as the galactic government’s bureaucrats…

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Warp 7? Are you using 23rd or 24th century conversion rates? Duh, 24th. I had to remember Voyager for a moment. (Shudders).

      This is just an observed planets. Chance is a major variable because we don’t know anything about how the planets are orbiting stars until we find one. Kepler is just focused on the constellation Cygnus because there is a high frequency of stars increasing the chance a planet will be seen. Astronomers then work backwards. Astronomers aren’t island hopping with stars.

      If we are observing planets given the obstacles and limited resources, they are probably everywhere. Pluto and Eris or close enough objects were predicted by wonky gravity issues before Pluto was discovered.

        1. Jason Ipswitch

          The object you are describing sounds like Eris – initially 2003 UB313 “Xena” – it was found as the result of a systematic scan of the outer solar system, not as part of any ‘wonky gravity’ preduiction. (You may be thinking of Neptune’s discovery in the mid-1800s.) It’s slightly more massive than Pluto, but also slightly smaller, and is considered a dwarf planet, not a ‘large planetary body’.

          1. ambrit

            I’m not sure how to respond here. The information I used from the Wiki to check up on your assertion states that perturbations in the orbits of both Neptune and Uranus predicted Plutos existence.
            I don’t have a ‘dog in the hunt’ over the definition of ‘large planetary body.’ The distinction between planet, dwarf planet, and asteroid is going to be an endless source of ‘fun’ and argument for the near future. I’m not even sure about the status of the debate any longer. My favourite definition of asteroid was the one I read in a science fiction story many years ago: “If we can move it, it’s an asteroid.”

    3. Llewelyn Moss

      Gee maybe that planet has intelligent life just like on earth. And that means by the time we reach it, they will have destroyed themselves and the planet.

  9. allan

    David Dayen: The Education Department Is Failing Students Who Got Defrauded

    … the Education Department appears to be placing barriers to access to loan forgiveness, like insurance companies discouraging unhealthy customers by situating their headquarters on the 8th floor of a building with no elevator.

    It’s almost as if the program was a charade intended for low-information voters. Nah, couldn’t be.

    1. rich

      seems we’re failing on many levels…..

      The Eroding Character of the American People

      Paul Craig Roberts

      How can the life of such a man
      Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
      To see him obviously framed
      Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
      Where justice is a game.—Bob Dylan, “Hurricane”The question is: why do Americans not only sit silently while the lives of innocents are destroyed, but also actually support the destruction of the lives of innocents? Why do Americans believe “official sources” despite the proven fact that “official sources” lie repeatedly and never tell the truth?

      The only conclusion that one can come to is that the American people have failed. We have failed Justice. We have failed Mercy. We have failed the US Constitution. We have failed Truth. We have failed Democracy and representative government. We have failed ourselves and humanity. We have failed the confidence that our Founding Fathers put in us. We have failed God. If we ever had the character that we are told we had, we have obviously lost it. Little, if anything, remains of the “American character.”

      1. vidimi

        on a related note, most of the young, 20-something american (white) guys i’ve been running into in europe lately have been chris kyle wannabes. they’re all going for that badass, navy seal bearded look (as opposed to a more hipster beard that euro millenials sport).

      2. James Levy

        Americans traded character for “personality” somewhere between the 1920s and the 1960s. This was largely the fault of consumer capitalism. Then along came postmodernism, which told us that there was no there-there, no immutable center, but only a set of funhouse mirrors where a human mentality once stood and that all values are subjective made-up bullshit anyway, so why worry about such a naïve, quaint idea like character. Hadn’t capitalism and then the 60s counter-culture promised us that we could be anything we wanted to be anyway? Thus our economic and ideological systems absolved us of the terrible burden of actually growing into ourselves and then taking responsibility for who we are and what we believe. In this way I do have to agree with James Howard Kunstler: in our culture everything is permissible and nothing matters.

  10. grayslady

    Bill Nye is correct that the Monarch butterfly population has been decimated, but he is incorrect in stating that GMOs have improved yield. As far back as the 1990s, an eight-year study in Minnesota showed that BT corn outperformed normal hybrid corn in only three of the eight years, and that was solely due to population explosions in the European corn borer during those three years. Unfortunately, people who rely on a self-designated “Science Guy” for accurate scientific information are more than a little likely to be misinformed.

    1. Praedor

      You don’t understand. It isn’t whether or not GMO food is useful or healthy that is a measure of its success. It is whether or not it makes profits for Monsanto. On that measure, GMO corn (and other foods) DO outperform non-GMO crops. It’s the profits and control of the food supply that matters, not the nutritional value or growth performance of the GMO.

      1. grayslady

        Naturally. Turns out Nye made a visit earlier this year to Monsanto, touring the plant and meeting with a number of Monsanto’s scientists. Afterward, he started whistling a different tune about GMOs. Everyone can be bought off. Everyone. For Nye, I suspect it was the opportunity for a guy with an undergrad in mechanical engineering to burnish his non-existent science credentials by hobnobbing with real scientists, but I don’t rule out being paid off, either. A sponsorship, maybe?

  11. Jim Haygood

    Maybe crime don’t pay like it used to:

    WASHINGTON — Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.

    The request follows an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Mrs. Clinton’s private account contained “hundreds of potentially classified emails.” The memo was written to Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management.

    If not for ‘professional courtesy’ between the Bush and Clinton political dynasties, both Clintons surely would have been indicted (and slam-dunk convicted) for selling a pardon to Marc Rich for $400,000 cash. Now the grifter lifestyle seems to have caught up with the careless couple.

    As Hillary admirers, the least we can do is support her bid to be incarcerated at FCI Danbury, a request denied to Martha Stewart. You meet the best-connected women inmates at Danbury, including some hedge fund wives and such. Hillary’s campaign may be suspended, but the fund raising carries on!

    1. James Levy

      Jim, so many elite criminal acts have been gotten away with at this late stage of the game that when her supporters cry that this threatened prosecution is “political”, I am afraid they will have a case. Since every prosecution of a member of the elite is a selective prosecution, it’s hard to get worked up about how unfair it will be when this all blows over and Mrs. Clinton skates. Unless we are talking about death and dismemberment (like Obama’s illegal war against Libya) my ability to demonstrate outrage is simply gone.

  12. armchair

    It is long past time for scientists to speak their minds, and James Hansen deserves credit for issuing his warning right away instead of waiting for the peer review.

    My understanding of climate is that the systems are chaotic, but through a lot of measurement over the centuries, scientists have slowly gained the ability to see trends, to understand the past eons and to cautiously predict the future. Since there is so much chaos and the scientific method demands rigor, the things scientists say are often conservative. Then add in a political system dominated by climate warming voters and climate warming industries and you get some real careful scientists.

    Despite the level of caution imposed by the scientific method, the chaotic systems they analyze and skeptical politicians, the story of climate warming has been told. However, I think it is reasonable to speculate that climate scientists have been very conservative in their estimates, and to speculate that reality may not be afraid of getting its funding cut by a loony senator from Oklahoma. The future may move much faster than a scientist living on government grants can safely predict.

    In our data filled world, it would be nice to do a survey of climate scientists to get a meta-perspective on how careful and conservative they are when publishing their findings and giving conclusions. I bet the vast majority are much more scared than we know. I am sure the think tanks are preparing their criticism of James Hansen as we speak, and we will find them to be great defenders of peer review. Wouldn’t it be nice to make the think tanks relocate to Micronesia?

    1. ambrit

      A good proxy for your poll would be a study of what percentage of climate scientists live near or on coastlines. Compare that figure with general scientist populations. A leading indicator.
      Do the backstroke!

      1. Praedor

        He’s alarmist because he has been talking up the worst case scenarios and, turns out, the worst case scenarios repeatedly match the actual data better than the kinder, gentler models (and hopes). Every time the models are tested, the worst case wins out as being closer to reality as measured. Thus, he’s alarmist and right.

        1. subgenius

          Surely that just makes him right…

          Alarmist is a slur, and in this case wrongly used.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      1. We can’t ask every scientist to be like Socrates and die for his belief.

      2. Non-scientists have to and can act, and are acting. There is nothing conservative or cautious about consuming less (for those able).

    3. susan the other

      When caution and crisis meet we’ll get action. Ocean rise could be in as little as a few years or as long as 50 years. Leaving two ways of thinking. One is to mobilize now to protect what can be protected and evacuate the rest from the coasts to the inland maybe chaotically. That will take years if we start now. The other is to build a housing and business capacity and then move people inland, abandoning hope of protecting the coasts. It is interesting that we are building high rise apartments and multl-family units as fast as we can and saying the cause for this is high rents and lots of displaced people due to foreclosure. We know the think tanks didn’t object when Wall Street moved its essential functions to Chicago, just in case. I think an orderly transition is the plan. Jim Hansen is the celebrity who will convince the world that we have to get going on this.

      1. Praedor

        I watch HGTV “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” now and again and always shake my head and “tsk-tsk” (mentally) because they are all buying homes that are soon(ish) to be underwater and/or inaccessible. Within their lifetimes they will watch the beach their bargain is sitting on shrink down until the water is lapping at their front door and then over the sill.


      2. Steve H.

        “Britain decides coastal areas no longer worth protection, lay blame on global warming”
        February 25, 2007

        One of the great island-nations made its choice years ago.

      3. downunderer

        More people should follow the story of Washaway Beach in Washington State, outstandingly told and illustrated by participant/reporter/victim Erika Langley in a series of episodes.

  13. diptherio

    Re: Puerto Rico’s debt

    raising taxes—there was just a major increase in the sales tax—is only going to undermine the economy further. Any way of raising revenue is going to hurt economic growth, and any kind of cut back in public spending, because there is so much of it, is also going to hurt growth. Since these are American citizens, they can move [to the mainland] any time. So out-migration is likely to accelerate.

    The next steps are generally grim. There isn’t an external source of capital, like even Greece has with the IMF, to come in and help refinance the debt, to help restructure and provide some breathing room. There just isn’t that kind of latitude. Things don’t look good for Puerto Rico.

    Some weird paradoxes there. The US gov’t could easily provide the breathing room, but chooses not to (unless there is unrest, apparently), even though the citizen’s of PR are US citizens and should be entitled to the same “protections” that we get from the Federal Reserve (i.e. zero-interest financing to keep enough cash sloshing around to maintain at least a zombie economy).

    As always, the financiers wring their hands and fret about their investments but it’s poor people who never had a say in any of it that pay the real price in reduced living standards that weren’t much to begin with. But we’re always told to worry first and foremost about how to pay off the bankers, who could lose most of what they have and still have more than most people…{sighs}

    1. Jim Haygood

      Best parallel to Greece is that as austerity (in the form of an 11.5% sales tax, up from 7%) crushes the Puerto Rican economy, those who can afford to leave are free to emigrate to New York or Florida … and many already have. Falling population accelerates the downward spiral, as fewer and poorer people are left to carry the territory’s fixed overhead costs. Think ‘tropical Detroit.’

      Perhaps PR will be more successful than Greece in obtaining debt relief. Apparently on some bonds, they are going to just stop paying in August. ‘Can’t pay, won’t pay.’

      What’s the US going to do, invade? Oh wait, we already did! :-()

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They used to deal with falling population by importing captured slaves.

        Today, there is a better solution – permanent residency for people with money or they can just sell the whole island to a trillionaire.

      2. curlydan

        maybe we’ll just use PR as the next “scaled up” version of disaster capitalism and shock doctrine. We started with New Orleans (pop 500K pre-Katrina), moved to Detroit (pop 1M), and now can proceed to PR (pop 3.6M).

        Next up Chicago? Illinois? California?

      3. Praedor

        Look at the bright side: cheap island land and homes for sale. Buy your luxury home in paradise for a song! Gentrification time.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Will PR end the New World Project like Greece is said to be ending the Old World Project?

    3. micky9finger

      Re Puerto Rico.
      Easy, default -make Congress deal with it.
      Also, how to solve problem of youth going to join ISIS-give them jobs.
      This probably fails new comment standards.

  14. Llewelyn Moss

    re: Reasonable Suspicion for Cops to Pull You Over

    Car Air Fresheners or rosary beads hanging from the rear view mirror, or a DARE bumper sticker are now sufficient suspicion for cops to pull you over and search your car.

    And We know they can shoot people down like dogs and get away with it. If you have cash in your car they can just steal it from you because they can (Asset forfeiture). Let’s stop splitting hairs, shall we. This is a Nazi Police State equivalent now.

    1. vidimi

      And We know they can shoot people down like dogs and get away with it

      the few times a cop has shot a dog there was way more outrage from suburban white people.
      “that could have happened to our Sparky!”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Pro-police bumper stickers will get you into trouble?

      How can one feel safe going out to do one’s patriotic duty of shopping, dining and spending?

      I guess, back in Sherwood Forest, if you flied a ‘I support Robin Hood’ banner, you would look suspicious too to his merry men.

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        Haha. Judge we’re still not sure what he was up to, but he was acting ‘innocent’ so…

  15. Skippy

    Oh Yves….

    In what appears to be an industry first, Fiat Chrysler launched a giant recall Friday to try to shield its vehicles from computer hackers.

    The U.S. unit of the automaker ordered a voluntary safety recall on 1.4 million vehicles to update software in the infotainment system to prevent the possibility that they could be hacked. No specific list of models was released. Rather, Fiat Chrysler said the recall applied to vehicles with “certain radios.”

    The recall comes in reaction to a demonstration by Wired magazine in which two hackers were able to take control of a Jeep SUV and control it remotely while a journalist was in the driver’s seat. They cranked up the air conditioning, took over the sound system and the car ended up in a ditch. The test involved accessing the vehicle via its UConnect infotainment system.

    Skippy…. and wait for it…. forced updates to your cars software anyone?…. head desk….

    1. craazyman

      it’s not like the old days when a man with a crewcut and white T-shirt could put his car up on a jack and get the wrenches out.

      My dad used to do that.

      there was an engine block, a carbuerator an alternator and a battery. There were a few wires that connected the battery to the ignition. There was no instruction manual. You figured it out.

      If you wanted the windows down you grabbed a handle and cranked.

  16. susan the other

    Dear Paul Craig: We haven’t failed god and god hasn’t failed us. We still have all the decency and integrity we ever had. Which is quite a lot considering that over the millions of years of our evolution we have survived by sheer reasonableness. Nature is the greatest trial – those who are unreasonable nitwits do not survive. One measurement of this is our present exposure to injustice and our genuine outrage over it. We have all the goodness and resourcefulness we ever had, and then some. All of us – high and low. We are not abject bacterial scum. We are going to surprise ourselves very soon. Just because the road to hell is paved with good but supercilious intentions doesn’t mean we can’t take the exit.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Nikkei…FT independence.

    Where is PM Abe?

    Japanese media self-censoring growing…

    Japanese media facing political pressure…

    To be fair, that’s not too different from many progressive, democratic nations.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The ugly American, the ugly German, the ugly Chinese, the ugly human…

    Some are ugly but kind; others are ugly and cruel.

    ‘Ugly’s got nothing to do with it…’

  19. Praedor

    As for the global sea level rise warning from Hansen…meh. He’s the one who “faked” the data (according to all Teatardo “mainstream” GOPers) that gave us the “fake” hockey stick. Thus, the entire GOP and its puppeteers (mainly the Kochs and Exxon-Mobile) will deny the data because…Hansen.

    In any case, we wont be doing enough to stop anything. We will barely do anything to SLOW things down. The game is up. Nothing will happen until after the worst IS happening to an undeniable extent (and even then there will be denial: “It’s just natural variation!”). I’ve simply accepted that where I live, I will be free from the droughts but get lots of rain and humidity. Without moving it will be like I’ve moved back to Lousiana AND the coast of the New Gulf-o-Mexico will only be a couple hours drive away rather than a LOONG day, or two day’s drive. I’m above flood plains so I wont get flooded, I’m in tornado alley so I might get blown away, and I’m in an increasingly wet area so I wont get droughted to dust. I’d say I’m set.

  20. Andrew Watts

    RE: America’s Already-Failed Cyber War

    The Office of Personnel Management reportedly outsourced it’s IT dept giving root access privileges to foreign nationals. They didn’t need to be hacked or compromised by China to acquire all this damaging information. Any foreigner with root access to the OPM databases could’ve instantly sold access to their government or to anybody else for that matter.

    “A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root.” -Ars Technica, Encryption “would not have helped” at OPM, says DHS official

    Patriotism for profit will continue to be an epic failure for this country. Anybody looking to make a quick buck is incapable of seeing beyond their perceived self-interest. This is what happens when you allow mercantile logic to reign supreme over your society.

    Lenin was absolutely correct that capitalists would sell you the rope that they’d hang themselves with.

    1. Steve H.

      “I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of two million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract.”
      ― John Glenn

      It’s incredible that the greatest intelligence coup in history was made by offering LESS money, not more.

      1. Andrew Watts

        It’s much more messed up than that. In essence the US government is paying it’s former employees as contractors to enable foreign governments to spy on and compromise it’s workforce.

        Pro tip for the FBI: Anybody who willingly gives foreigners access to US federal government IT systems for profit is guilty, at the very minimum, of criminal negligence. This would include any person involved with formulating such a policy. KTHXBYE!

        1. Vatch

          If one of the astronauts said it, it was probably Alan Shepard:

          According to Gene Kranz in his book, Failure Is Not an Option, “When reporters asked Shepard what he thought about as he sat atop the Redstone rocket, waiting for liftoff, he had replied, ‘The fact that every part of this ship was built by the lowest bidder.'”

          But that’s not an airtight attribution.

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