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Octopus Garden – No Photos Please!

April 19, 2010

More about the video here.

And here’s the original video for the song used above from Dalmation Rex and the Eigentones. Quite the catchy little earworm.

Happy Monday everybody!

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61 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    April 19, 2010 8:42 am

    Octopus I love you but most people would still like to see vampire squid with a stake through its heart. Remember the Goldies claiming they took lower annual bonuses last year than normal and God’s Work himself only got nine mil? Turns out they were just waiting so they could hand out $5 billion in QUARTERLY bonuses instead.

    That’s one set of gigantic titanium balls God’s Work is sporting to do this with the suit pending against the Goldies right now. Although the suit names just one relatively low-ranking employee, the NYT reports today that top execs were involved with the mortgage unit at Goldman.

    But again, like the article you posted about Magnetar in the last post, those in the know are afraid to come forward.

    …according to interviews with eight former Goldman employees, senior bank executives played a pivotal role in overseeing the mortgage unit just as the housing market began to go south. These people spoke on the condition that they not be named so as not to jeopardize business relationships or to anger executives at Goldman, viewed as the most powerful bank on Wall Street.

    If the government would give some of sign that they have the whistleblowers’ backs, maybe these unnamed sources wouldn’t be so skittish about coughing up the details. Of course, maybe these unnamed sources don’t want to wind up being the scapegoats who do the perp walk in place of Blankfein and others. I’m sure it isn’t lost on them that Goldman and the financial industry were largely responsible for putting <O where he is and that <O has shown no signs of breaking his alliance with all the ex-Goldies in now working for his administration. Seeing how <O was willing to prosecute the NSA whistleblower and not those breaking the law likely has a chilling effect on anyone who might otherwise come forward.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 19, 2010 8:55 am

      Yes, given what happened to that Swiss bank whistleblower they probably won’t be coming forward any time soon. <O will protect his best benefactors and the best benefactors of his team Dem. It’s just business after all, the way the world goes round, money money money money (gag and sob)

  2. Stemella permalink*
    April 19, 2010 8:49 am

    I like that Octopus. What fun it would be to dance around with one under the sea. Show us how it’s done, Kermit!

  3. cometman permalink*
    April 19, 2010 9:18 am

    While the human race seems hell bent on destroying most of the life on this planet so we can all have useless cheap plastic crap at MallWart, Mother Nature seems to have a fall back plan to repopulate our little blue dot.

    Research by the Census for Marine Life has discovered a huge undersea microbial mat.

    At the other end of the hard-to-see scale: microbes form mats on the sea floor off the west coast of South America that explorers recently found. The mats cover a surface comparable in size to Greece and rank among Earth’s largest masses of life.

    This new article sheds some light on the undersea superhighway I mentioned a few days ago. In that one, researchers noticed that brand new life forms repopulated ocean vents after they erupted and killed off the previous inhabitants. This new article mentions that not all the microbes discovered are very common and some seem to be waiting for conditions to become ideal before they start taking over.

    Many rare species in a sample stand opposite to a few species predominating. Wherever Census researchers looked they found many species in a sample represented by less than one in 10,000 of all individuals, including one-off singletons. Evidently many candidates, now rare, lie in wait to become dominant species if changes favor them.

    The theory recently gained steam thanks to an ICoMM study of microbes adapted to conditions inside cone-like carbonate chimneys in “The Lost City Hydrothermal Field.” The field lies 15 km (9.3 miles) west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near the latitude of Florida and Morocco. Hydrothermal vents have been active for at least 30,000 years in the field.

    When methane and hydrogen-rich fluids just below the boiling point emerge from deep within Earth and collide with frigid seawater they build the chimneys. Through genetics, scientists determined that rare microbes in young chimneys “were commonly more abundant than in older chimneys, indicating that rare members can become dominant members when environmental conditions change.”

    Maybe species work like shark’s teeth – as soon as one wears out, there is a new one standing ready to take its place. More evidence that we can’t destroy the earth, just ourselves. Evolution perseveres.

    Eye candy from the Census – meet our new microbial overlords!

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 19, 2010 10:22 am

      Terrific. I opened those pictures of the new overlords and promptly began to sneeze. They remind me of evil yellow flower pollen and worms that give one the runs. Great.

      I do not welcome these overlords as fascinating as they may be. It is good to know though that life will go on without us hairless apes.

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 19, 2010 10:57 am

      mmm yes mmm no mmmmm this requires a sustained response at the deli. (Where I also posted the thieving octopus, btw)

      • cometman permalink*
        April 19, 2010 12:03 pm

        I’ll be over to czech it out.

        • artemis54 permalink
          April 19, 2010 12:20 pm

          Well I haven’t written it yet!

          • cometman permalink*
            April 19, 2010 2:10 pm

            I checked anyway. I hadn’t realized you posted the octopus video too since it wasn’t there when I looked on Saturday. I guess that vast readership of both of our sites will just have to put up with a little redundancy :P

    • cometman permalink*
      April 19, 2010 12:02 pm

      Wonder if any of those microbes might eventually evolve into a large wild predatory cat. There may be an opening soon- Dead cat walking: As Florida panther habitat shrinks, extinction fears rise.

  4. cometman permalink*
    April 19, 2010 9:43 am

    Jeremy Scahill wins the second annual Izzy Award named in honor of I.F. Stone. Richly deserved.

  5. cometman permalink*
    April 19, 2010 10:26 am

    Couple of good ones from a couple of Mainers, both of which make mention of NPR whose news division in recent years seems hell bent on becoming as dumbed down and irrelevant as its commercial counterparts.

    Robert Shetterly wonders why, in a segment on why people don’t trust their government, NPR chose neocon and author of the Bush doctrine Philip Zelikow to give the answer without bothering to mention his background.

    And Chris Cooper reflects on the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland and the simpler life.

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 19, 2010 11:09 am

      Awesome Cooperness, and very relevant. The only thing he left out was the now constant whining about how the airlines are losing money, as if a few days of potential profit unrealized is the equivalent of being robbed.

      As I watched two idiot reporters interview each other standing in front of the volcano, neither with anything to say, it occurred to me that there was probably a very interesting story in that farm behind them. How old is it? You can be certain its history is known. They could talk about the settlement of Iceland, one blade of grass at a time. Anything really. But no, segue to another businessman at Gatwick late for work that probably shouldn’t be done anyway.

      btw, late last year David Suzuki announced that he will be foregoing most air travel. As you can imagine, he could spend the rest of his life flitting around to meetings and awards, and probably make a halfassed case for most of it. While he would make a great Savonarola, that’s not his style. But he is obviously uncomfortable with what is becoming a moral choice. Unfortunately a choice not even recognized by many. We oughtta have a good preach on it one of these days, and we can start with the academics.

  6. artemis54 permalink
    April 19, 2010 11:40 am

    Unbelievable. In Sonoma County:

    Greene v. County of Sonoma et al.

    Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

    Another one to put in the file for when those folks say it never happens.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 19, 2010 12:31 pm

      WTF? How in the hell could they deny Clay the right to see him or arrange his affairs when he had legal power of attorney? Usually that gets you in the door.

      Here’s hoping Clay owns the whole damn county by the time he’s done with the lawsuit.

      • artemis54 permalink
        April 19, 2010 2:20 pm

        It makes me revisit my sister’s death. She and her partner had all these same safeguards in place, all the joint tenancy etc etc that costs a fortune to set up but is never required of any straight people.

        This could have happened to them, had my family not been on their side – my mother, brother, and I would have slit the throat of anyone that questioned the will, etc, for one thing. But what if we had not been there? The only protection might have been one or two friends with a little pull.

        It is just wrong, and I am gobsmacked that it could happen in Sonoma County. Maybe they were on to something with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, set in Santa Rosa.

  7. cometman permalink*
    April 19, 2010 12:26 pm

    Bunch of articles on the Goldman suit.

    A few good details in this one from FireDoglake – The Fall Of Goldman Sachs?

    Pam Martens has some questions about the lawyer chosen by Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman employee named in the suit. She notes that in an internal email, this guy refers to himself as The Fabulous Fab. That isn’t going to help his cause.

    Mike Whitney smells a rat and wonders why it only one small deal from Goldman getting any attention.

    Lehman, Citi and WaMu; three examples of corruption in a sector where corruption is the norm. Nothing about the Goldman case stands out, except for the fact that the Goldman logo fuels populist rage. Corruption on Wall Street is pervasive and deeply-rooted. It is not the purview of any one institution.

    Obama has the wind at his back. Now that he’s bloodied Goldman’s nose and gotten the public riled up, his reform bill will probably pass. But Obama’s financial reforms are much like Obama’s health care; half-loaf remedies that translate into a few extra votes on election day, but merely transfer more middle class wealth to giant corporations. It’s pathetic. It looks like we’ve entered another era of “triangulation”.

    Naked Capitalism with a post on who might be next in the SEC’s crosshairs.

    The LA Times has some data in this article which suggests that there might be nobody who’s next.

    Since 1989, the company’s [Government Sachs – cman] employees have contributed $31.6 million to federal political candidates, more than any financial firm, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics said. About two-thirds of that money has gone to Democrats, including nearly $1 million to Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, the company’s top recipient during that election cycle.

    And in a related note, Gretchen Morgensen calls bullshit on recent anonymous claims by some of Timmeh the Elven One’s minions that the bailout won’t really cost that much and we would have been far worse off without it. Sorreh Timmeh, we’ve heard this one too many times already.

    While I’d like to be wrong, so far I agree with Whitney and many others that this is nothing but a PR ploy that will take down one small bad actor to make it look like <O is doing something about the problem and help him get his “reform” bill that barely reforms anything passed.

    The only silver lining I see is that Goldman’s gold and silver is so tarnished that fewer and fewer people will do business with them once it becomes abundantly clear how willing they are to rip off their own clients. But even if the firm goes under, the execs still get to keep their ill gotten gains and with no real reform somebody else will just repeat the process all over again.

    In fact, as this Naked Capitalism post notes, some are already trying. This time it’s a brand new futures market on Hollywood box office receipts. For fuck sake.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 19, 2010 1:27 pm

      And one more, with apologies if I posted the same article from another link before.

      Nomi Prins (did I mention she is dreamy) doesn’t think much of the proposed financial “reform”. Very good article here – Speculating Banks Still Rule — Ten Ways Dems and Dodd Are Failing on Financial Reform.

      Her conclusion:

      None of this is reform. We’re actually better off with no legislation than we are with this vapid 1,336-page opus—the false sense of security it creates will only encourage greater risk-taking. If the Dodd bill passes in its current version, we absolutely, unequivocally will see another system-wide crash that will invoke greater hardships on the country than the last collapse.

      And since legislation doesn’t go to Congress to be strengthened but to be watered down even further, the current version will be better than the finished product.

      Better start stocking up on potted meat.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 19, 2010 1:39 pm

        Thanks for digging up all these stories. It is helpful to read a bunch of different views on what is going on here. Dylan Ratigan has done another big segment on the story today with Spitzer. I’ll link the vid when it is posted later. At the moment he is ragging on Dodd for not proposing adequate reform, and continues to advocate breaking up the too big to fails.

        And yes you did mention Nomi. You better break the news to Naomi gently ;)

        • cometman permalink*
          April 19, 2010 2:14 pm

          Well first I have to figure out who is dreamiest. Read ‘Shock Doctrine’ a while ago but haven’t read Prins’ book yet. When I finish I’ll do a compare and contrast figure out who is most worthy of my admiration :P

          • Stemella permalink*
            April 19, 2010 9:18 pm

            Ok, be sure to let us know when you decide. :)

            And here’s the link to today’s Ratigan piece
            Will the Goldman Suit Open Eyes to Reform?

            • cometman permalink*
              April 20, 2010 9:18 am

              Good segment by Ratigan. I noticed that he also reminds people that the Goldies contributed heavily to the <O campaign, something I’ve seen a lot more of in recent days. I’ve been trying to remind people of that for well over a year now. Glad others with a bigger platform are doing it too.

              Not sure I trust that Himes guy who used to work for Goldman. Judging by his wiki entry it looks like he left Goldman a while ago and his career does have a lot of community service type stuff.

              However he currently sits on the House Financial Services Committee. He narrowly beat out the Republican Shays to get his seat and that committee is where the DemocRATs park the new Congressmen from vulnerable districts so they can soak up big donations from the financial industry.

  8. artemis54 permalink
    April 19, 2010 2:03 pm

    Suggested must-read of the day: ratcheting towards the Nothing

    The Natural World Vanishes: How Species Cease To Matter

    Every generation takes the natural environment it encounters during childhood as the norm against which it measures environmental decline later in life. With each ensuing generation, environmental degradation generally increases, but each generation takes that degraded condition as the new normal. Scientists call this phenomenon “shifting baselines” or “inter-generational amnesia,” and it is part of a larger and more nebulous reality — the insidious ebbing of the ecological and social relevancy of declining and disappearing species.

    My colleague, Karin E. Limburg, and I have come up with another term for the broader context of this phenomenon: “eco-social anomie.” Anomie is defined as a state or condition of individuals or society characterized by a breakdown of social priorities and values. Eco-social anomie describes a biological and cultural feedback loop that spirals toward this breakdown: As species disappear, they lose both relevance to a society and the constituency to champion their revival, further hastening their decline.

    This is the past for the north Atlantic, but it is the present for the Sacramento delta, the Columbia, and the Snake, and the near future for the Fraser and the Salish Sea.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 19, 2010 9:43 pm

      I couldn’t help extrapolate this idea to constructs other than species and landscapes. The term or phrase “new normal” has always made me feel queasy, has always seemed like something from Huxley or Kafka’s imagination. With only a few word changes we get

      With each ensuing generation, societal degradation generally increases, but each generation takes that degraded condition as the new normal. Scientists call this phenomenon “shifting baselines” or “inter-generational amnesia,” and it is part of a larger and more nebulous reality — the insidious ebbing of civil rights and social relevancy of declining and disappearing self governance and independence.

      It is somewhat akin to the metaphor of the frogs in slowly boiling water. As we lose more species and more civil liberties we become more numb and unaware of our surroundings; less willing to defend that which we are losing or have already lost.

      Sadly, en masse, we truly are the sheeple.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 20, 2010 9:51 am

        I was thinking along the same lines. Our supposedly radical liberals in the Democratic party strongly resemble St. Ronnie these days and nobody seems to remember.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 20, 2010 9:49 am

      Before I read the article I was thinking that Atlantic salmon were a prime example of this. Glad to see they got a mention. I am definitely not old enough to remember when there were any in this area – glad I got to see a huge run of pinks in Alaska a few years back where the fish were so thick in the water that you could have walked across the river on them if you were light enough. I actually caught one by hooking it in the back – the fish were so thick my line couldn’t even drop into the water.

      One thing I do remember that I don’t see anymore is huge flocks of Canada geese in the sky. As a kid one huge “V” after another used to fly overhead when they were migrating. Now maybe you see one small flock with a dozen or so birds. You probably know more about this than I do, but in this case I don’t think this is happening because the geese are endangered, they just stopped migrating for whatever reason.

      Maine has taken a lot of steps to clean up its act in the last couple decades as the article mentions. One of the larger rivers used to be referred to as “the foamy Androscoggin” and it wasn’t because of the fast flowing waters but because of pollution from paper mills. In the last twenty years there has been a big effort to restore it but there is still work to be done. Thankfully people are still on the job.

      Probably has been a big help that so many paper mills have gone under in this area. But of course that’s mostly because paper companies have discovered they can make more money by selling off the land to developers than by making paper. Your are probably familiar with the Plum Creek company from Seattle who is working on developing the fairly pristine Moosehead lake area. I donated money to an organization trying to stop it and lots of people spoke out against it but the well heeled lobbyists generally win and it looks like they will again. The Land Use Regulatory Commission approved the development last year. The decision has been appealed but I doubt they’ll be able to stop it. Another pristine area turned into Wealthy Tourist Town, Anywhere USA.

  9. Stemella permalink*
    April 20, 2010 6:54 am

    Grrrrr. Strong Goldman Sachs earnings overshadow UK probe

    Goldman said net income nearly doubled to $3.29 billion, bolstered by big gains in trading and debt and equity underwriting. The earnings of $5.59 a share beat analysts’ average forecast $4.01 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

    The bank reported its lowest-ever first-quarter compensation ratio, but it still set aside $5.5 billion for compensation and benefits in the period.

    Goldman shares rose 1.8 percent to $166.21 in early trading. The cost of insuring against potential default on the bank’s bonds fell.

    ~snip~

    Goldman’s forecast-beating earnings came as Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) said it had started a formal investigation into Goldman Sachs International in relation to the SEC allegations. FSA said it would work closely with its U.S. counterpart.

    Can the message be more clear?

    And with that crappy news I bid you all good morn and good day. Hi ho hi ho off to work I go.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 20, 2010 9:59 am

      Son of a bitch. This smells a little funny if you ask me. The day companies report earnings is fairly regular and well known in advance if I’m not mistaken. However analysts routinely understate expected earnings so when the “actual” (we’ll see if they get revised downward in the future as often happens) figures come out the stock price gets a bump. I’m thinking that with all the Goldies in government, somebody knew about this lawsuit and when it would be announced. It would be very convenient for the Goldies to have those who analyze their stock come up with even lower estimates than normal to try to counteract the hit they took when the suit was announced.

  10. cometman permalink*
    April 20, 2010 10:03 am

    Here’s something to watch – Lieberman subpoenas the Obama administration.

    Don’t really care about the subject of the subpoena, much more interested in seeing whether Obama honors the subpoena or just ignores it like the Bushies did, and if he ignores it whether Congress will do anything about it.

    I’m betting on “ignore” and “do nothing” as the imperial presidency continues.

  11. cometman permalink*
    April 20, 2010 10:18 am

    Here’s a story by Alan Farago related to the “Dead cat walking” link I posted above. He has some good news he wants spread so I’ll help spread it.

    The developers in Florida have been taking a beating lately, by both the busted housing market and the courts. One developer who was hell bent on destroying the Everglades has seen his company WCI Communities go bankrupt.

    In August 2008, Hoffman’s former company, WCI Communities, Inc., declared bankruptcy with more than $2 billion in debt. There is so little good news that the local newspaper ballyhoo’d when the region dropped to sixth place in March, from second in February of all regions in the nation for its foreclosure rate (April 15, 2010, “Cape Coral-Fort Myers foreclosure rate drops to sixth in US”, Naples Daily News). Apocryphal tales abound in Florida. The state is a graveyard for them.

    ~snip~

    WCI Communities is, today, another ‘dead cat walking’.

    And:

    Just last week, a federal court judge — Alan S. Gold– issued a stinging rebuke of the EPA in litigation brought by Friends of the Everglades for failing to follow federal laws in issuing pollution discharge permits to the State of Florida. Judge Gold’s ruling, to paraphrase, told the EPA and the state of Florida that his courtroom was through with the lies and excuses by the EPA and state agencies. This news has to be shared. It has to find its way to the public, where all kinds of constituents angry with government have yet to figure out the math.

  12. cometman permalink*
    April 20, 2010 11:47 am

    Great article related to that Nation piece I posted about a while back – Mainstream Green Groups Cave In on Climate.

    The authors take the mainstream enviro groups to task for cooperating with the corporate world while ignoring the real threats posed by doing so. Here’s part of their appeal to those groups from the end of the article:

    The verdict is in. Your experiment in “corporate engagement” has resulted in a disastrous failure that now threatens the planet. We fully expected the massive campaign from the fossil fuel industry to strip any substance from this legislation. But you have blindsided those of us who are fighting with all our hearts for the future of the earth. Your coffers have grown and now you are using this money to drown us out.

    Your stance does not represent those in the grassroots movement, many of whom are young and see the disasters that are looming within their own lifetimes. In your comfortable offices, you do not speak for those willing to put themselves on the line and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the very forces you seek to accomodate. The rationale for your corporate “partnerships” was the issue of exerting influence. But the question begging to be asked is who influenced whom? Though your treasury is more full, what truly has been gained and what has been lost?

    Your intentions may have been honorable, but the agenda of “defending earth” has been hijacked. Along the way, your vision became blurred and you lost sight of this mission. In this “experiment’, you are the ones who have been “had”. It now appears to have been a terrible Faustian bargain, and we are all paying the price. At the very moment of greatest need for an empowered public advocacy in the face of the most overwhelming threat in human history, your leadership is not to be found.

    Hadn’t realized people had already been busted for scams involving trading carbon credits but I’m not in the least surprised.

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 20, 2010 3:54 pm

      Predictable and predicted that when the mechanism chosen invloves essentially privatising the sky, profits will come firt and carbon reduction – if any at all – will be a distant second or third priority.

      Taibbi covered this in his April 5 (?) piece I think.

      The common dreams piece mentions the Center for Biological Diversity as one of the good guys. Today, the CBD hit the USFWS with a monster 1145-page Petition to List 404 Aquatic, Riparian, and Wetland Species from the Southeastern United States as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, nothing has changed since the Bush administration except a little lip service and the CBD is more essential than ever.

  13. cometman permalink*
    April 20, 2010 12:05 pm

    Good article from the NYT on the swarm of lobbyists descending on DC to block derivatives reform. Right now they’re infesting the Senate Agricultural Committee since for some inexplicable reason Congress hasn’t figured out yet that commodities futures aren’t the only kind of derivative any more and this committee evidently still has jurisdiction over all types.

    With so much money at stake, it is not surprising that more than 1,500 lobbyists, executives, bankers and others have made their way to the Senate committee that on Wednesday will take up legislation to rein in derivatives, the complex securities at the heart of the financial crisis, the billion-dollar bank bailouts and the fraud case filed last week against Goldman Sachs.

    ~snip~

    Now, these obscure and largely unregulated securities — more than $600 trillion of which are tucked into investors’ portfolios, according to the Treasury Department — are at the center of the fight over financial reform led by the Obama administration.

    Here’s the example these assholes will likely use in their arguments for why derivatives should not be regulated –

    The committee will be the main arena for the derivatives fight for reasons dating to an era when farming was more important to the nation’s economy than finance. In their simplest form, derivatives can provide financial protection on the value of an investment or commodity. For example, by putting up a relatively small amount of money, a farmer could buy a derivative known as a forward or futures contract that would guarantee a set price for crops and thereby guard against ruinous price swings between planting and harvest.

    Well fuck that. You want a solution to this problem? Three simple steps.

    1) Stop giving enormous subsidies to big agribusiness so they can produce tons of corn and other products that nobody really needs (unless pumping high fructose corn syrup into a bunch of twinkies is a need) and that send small farmers into poverty all over the world.

    2) Let the goddamned farmers decide how much to sell their crops for after they harvest them rather than making them rely on the fluctuations of some market in Chicago. The fact that farmers often currently get paid less than it costs to produce their products even with this supposedly beneficial futures market is unconscionable. No futures needed if they can charge what they want. If crops fail due to poor weather conditions, then the government can step in with assistance to tide them over until the next harvest.

    3) Outlaw the rest of the financial derivatives which serve no useful purpose whatsoever.

    Problem solved. You’re welcome Congress.

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 21, 2010 6:51 am

      Why do they only bury dead wheat farmers a foot deep?
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .
      .

      So they can still get their hand out.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 21, 2010 8:27 am

        Ha!

        • artemis54 permalink
          April 21, 2010 9:41 am

          “As you know, Farmer Jones, Acme Farm Supply guarantees all our baby chicks. But this is your third request for replacements. Do you have any idea why they might be failing to thrive?”
          .

          .

          .

          .

          .

          “I thing we’ve solved the problem. My wife is pretty sure I’m planting them too deep.”

  14. cometman permalink*
    April 20, 2010 12:19 pm

    Missed this one from a few days ago – Five Blackwater execs indicted. They weren’t indicted for murder, which they ought to be, and Erik Prince isn’t among them, but it’s a start.

  15. cometman permalink*
    April 21, 2010 9:40 am

    This can’t be good – ‘Toxic stew’ of chemicals causing male fish to carry eggs in testes.

    The article concentrates on fish from the Potomac river. If saving an animal for its own sake isn’t enough to get the authorities to take notice and do something to stop this, maybe they will when some Senator’s little Susie starts growing a peepee when she hits puberty.

    About 5 million people live in the greater Washington area, and 90% of them get their drinking water from the Potomac.

  16. cometman permalink*
    April 21, 2010 10:03 am

    If all we’re going to get is theatre I guess we ought to try to enjoy the show. Now the teabaggers want to know if Lindsey Graham is a “stealth gay”.

    Evidently the calling out occurred in Greenville, SC. I had the misfortune of visiting there once for a weekend. Took a walk on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon and seeing as it is a decent sized city I was surprised that there was practically nobody else on the streets at all. Turns out all the manly men of Greenville were indoors all morning professing their undying love for a 30-something sissy boy while sticking his body parts in their mouths. Then church got out and the streets filled up again.

    Anyhoo, if you haven’t seen it before, the Jon Stewart video at the link taking the piss out of Graham is hilarious.

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 21, 2010 10:10 am

      Dozens of stories about Miss Graham have been circulating for years.

  17. cometman permalink*
    April 21, 2010 10:14 am

    This one was interesting, if only to see Blanche Lincoln twist in the wind with Timmeh as they both try to figure out how to make it look like they aren’t bought and paid for by the banking industry – Wall Street’s Bad Dream.

    Blanche had tried to promote the ‘end-user’ argument I referred to above to defend the use of derivatives. Timmeh thought that wouldn’t look good. Hilarity ensues.

    …Lincoln’s re-election campaign is in serious trouble, not least because her primary opponent has been harping on Lincoln’s warm relations with Wall Street. Even so, she had shown every sign of hewing to the derivatives traders’ policy of highlighting the requirements of “end-users” in making the case for keeping things as they are (in the dark, with no public disclosure of market prices, thus preserving the opportunity for profitable gouging of customers.) “End users” in this context are businesses whichg in theory at least use the commodities they are betting on — thus Coca Cola might buy derivatives on the price of sugar to hedge on future prices. Such corporations, wrangled into the Coalition for Derivatives End-Users by the bank lobbyists, dutifully broadcast the case that mandatory exchange trading would cramp their style and “hurt the consumer.” In reality, the end-user argument has always been an almost total sham, since derivatives trading has been overwhelmingly a matter of speculation, with little discernable effect on the consumer – apart of course from the derivatives-induced financial crash.

    Unfortunately for the banks, Lincoln was so energetic in touting the end-user line that even Timothy Geithner grew a little uncomfortable. So, accompanied by Commodities Futures Trading Commission Gary Gensler, Geithner called on the senator and brusquely informed her she was being “too soft” on the issue. Her reaction was not at all what the treasury secretary expected, still less desired.

    Piqued beyond measure by his graceless approach, Lincoln not only abandoned the cause of the end-users altogether, but inserted the requirement, thermonuclear in its implications for the profitability of JP Morgan and others, that banks dump their derivative trading operations. Adding insult to injury, the legislation clearly defines an exchange as a “trading facility,” another unpleasant surprise for the banks.

  18. artemis54 permalink
    April 21, 2010 10:41 am

    The Annals of Idiocy: Andrea Mitchell with a special little segment on the volcano and subsequent disruptions. She actually talks about what would we do if this ever happened again.

    Moron. Unable to understand that it is certain to happen over and over, this is the real world you fucking idiot, not the beltway.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 21, 2010 11:22 am

      On a related note, I keep hearing a radio spot during Sox games advertising a chance to win a 3 day carbon neutral trip to…..wait for it…..Disney World!

      And I’m sure there are plenty of people who will think they’re doing the world a favor by taking their entire brood on a plane halfway across the country to see the miserable little rat at a theme park that uses enough power to light up a small city.

  19. cometman permalink*
    April 21, 2010 11:29 am

    Huh. The NYT has an interesting little piece – Cassandra, the Ignored Prophet of Doom, Is a Woman for Our Times.

    Funny coming from the paper that ignored multiple warnings that there were no weapons in Iraq and used bogus reporting from Judy Miller and others to help W get his war on. The article title drew me in but there really isn’t much interesting there except the irony.

  20. cometman permalink*
    April 21, 2010 11:39 am

    Interesting article where Temple Grandin’s cow hugging machine is compared to some new augmented reality computer interface that gives you the warm fuzzies – I Feel Therefore I Am.

  21. cometman permalink*
    April 21, 2010 12:45 pm

    A few bankster related items.

    Remember <O‘s White House Counsel Gregory Craig? he seemed almost ethical when he was basically forced out for being to vocal about actually closing Gitmo. Guess who he’s working for now.

    Good one here about UBS and the money they’ve been hiding for well connected US tax cheats – Jailed whistleblower urges new drive against UBS. In this case, it’s the whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld urging the new drive from prison. He quit UBS, exposed what was going on, and so far is the only one in jail somehow. UBS cut a deal with the US government where they paid a fine and nobody was held accountable (except the guy who exposed the fraud). Imagine that. Here’s Birkenfeld:

    “They should immediately null and void the agreement with UBS,” said Birkenfeld, who noted that less than 300 UBS client names have been turned over to the IRS and Justice Department so far.

    “They should fine the bank properly and demand all 19,000 accounts,” he said.

    “As of today they have, what? 14 indictments,” Birkenfeld said, making the point that a relatively low number had been charged in the Justice Department’s investigation so far.

    Birkenfeld himself is the only individual to have been sentenced to substantial prison time.

    “Where are all the people that are politically connected in Washington that had accounts at UBS?” Birkenfeld asked. “I’m telling you this is a political cover-up. Why is it that the whistleblower is the only guy in jail? I mean this is insanity,” he said.

    Here’s some background on how Birkenfeld wound up in jail from this Democracy Now! interview with his lawyer from earlier this year.

    And Bill Black let’s it rip in a recent testimony before Congress.

    His prepared statement, complete with Star Wars references, can be found here.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 21, 2010 6:43 pm

      Here’s another good one from McClatchy regarding God’s Works many visits to <O land while the fraud bust was taking place

      Goldman’s White House connections raise eyebrows

      While Goldman Sachs’ lawyers negotiated with the Securities and Exchange Commission over potentially explosive civil fraud charges, Goldman’s chief executive visited the White House at least four times.

      White House logs show that Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein traveled to Washington for at least two events with President Barack Obama, whose 2008 presidential campaign received $994,795 in donations from Goldman’s political action committee, its employees and their relatives. He also met twice with Obama’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers.

      ~snip~

      Goldman’s connections to the White House and the Obama administration are raising eyebrows at a time when Washington and Wall Street are dueling over how to overhaul regulation of the financial world.

      Lawrence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist, said that “almost everything that the White House has done has been haunted by the personnel and the money of Goldman . . . as well as the suspicion that the White House, particularly early on, was pulling its punches out of deference to Goldman and its war chest.

      “There’s now kind of a magnifying glass on the administration for any sign of interference or conversations with the regulators and the judiciary,” Jacobs said.

      The SEC investigation of Goldman’s dealings lasted 18 months and culminated with the SEC filing civil fraud charges against the investment bank last week.

      Funny that God’s work couldn’t make it for an official meeting with the President earlier because of the fog. But he meets with the Frogman happily ribbit ribbit

      *****

      Thanks for the jokes and snarklicious sarcasm in comments above, the both of you. Lots of good laughs and good information at the end of a trying day.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 22, 2010 7:58 am

        Lot of people in that article who doth protest a wee bit too much in attempting to deny their glaring conflicts of interest if you ask me. This one was particularly rich:

        “One thing he (Craig) knows is that he cannot talk to the White House,” Obama said. “He cannot lobby the White House. He cannot in any way use his former position to have any influence on us.”

        Of course since Craig already knows what the White House wants regarding Goldman, he doesn’t really have to ‘influence’ the White House since they’re already on Goldman’s side. Now he’s just the message boy. So see, Barry wasn’t really lying through his chemically whitened teeth!

  22. artemis54 permalink
    April 22, 2010 5:54 am

    Geithner peddling the finance reform whatever it is now bill. That guy couldn’t sell ice cubes in the Mojave. Five minutes of listening to him actually leaves me less informed than when he started.

    What to do for earth day? Read Jeremy Hance, run a bath, and open a vein?

    World failing on every environmental issue: an op-ed for Earth Day

    The answer is simple: we—the human species—are failing on every major environmental problem, including those I highlight below: biodiversity, oceans, deforestation, food and water, population and consumption, and climate change. Our inability thus far to even begin solving these problems is bankrupting our Earth and will leave our children a very different—I venture to say lonelier and more chaotic—world.

    Hance’s requisite hopeful ending is pretty cold comfort.

    I will put my hands in the soil. Transplanting eggplants and peppers.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 22, 2010 8:19 am

      Enjoy the gardening today, on Earth Day. Here’s a few tributes to the ocean dwellers, the desert, the tropical rain forests and the howlers and honkers.

      and lest you get too relaxed, here’s one to get the feet tapping


      umm, the clothing! Yes, the 70’s were that bad.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 22, 2010 8:23 am

        play these all at the same time for the full intended effect! ;-p

    • cometman permalink*
      April 22, 2010 9:09 am

      Very sad article but I’d rather hear the truth than some greenwashed bullshit about how carbon credits will save us all.

      One small solace is that Vermont where I grew up is one of the areas that has become reforested in recent decades and I do actually see animals there that I never did as a kid. Wild turkeys are all over the place and moose have made a comeback. My folks see them pretty often near their home and one took a stroll through the front yard not long ago. My folks own property is 80 acres of woods but it used to be pasture land for my grandfather’s dairy cows not all that long ago. It grew back fairly quickly once it was abandoned as pasture.

      At one point drastic logging and lots of farming had pretty much denuded the state’s forests but some people did realize the damage being caused a while ago. The people involved with this national park and those it was named after were very conservation minded. Frederick Billings was a pretty interesting character. He certainly did his bit to damage this planet as one of the titans of industry but he was also one of the first in this country to realize the need to conserve the wilderness. Laurence Rockefeller has a similar history and his conservation efforts in Vermont should be a model for efforts elsewhere.

      The waste mentioned in that article is simply appalling and I have no idea how to stop it. Imagine how much land could go back to wilderness if the US alone wasn’t wasting so much food. It’s so difficult to even get intelligent thoughtful people who should and do know better to stop wasting things needlessly. I’ve had more than a few battles trying to convince people they don’t need to buy say 3 cantaloupes that they’ll never eat before they go bad just because they’re on sale.

      I think the author had it right – we aren’t going to destroy the earth or stop evolution but we will likely fuck it up beyond belief if we don’t stop the bullshit NOW. Or, in the words of a very wise man, it won’t blow up or disappear it’ll just look ugly for a thousand years.

      A little musical accompaniment from Mr. Z –

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 22, 2010 9:52 am

        Dumb all over and very easily conditioned by the idiot box, the advertisers, peer pressure, and our own egos.

        Trouble is, we are paradoxical. As Mr. Z noted too elsewhere, we like stuff. We like to have lots of stuff, more than we need. We have wants and desires that are irrational, contradicting our long term means for survival. Buddha said to negate all that stuff, but it not a universally popular practice. We don’t like it when austerity is forced on us. The Greeks are proving that as I type, as have many peoples throughout history.

        If history tells us anything, I think that some of the empires we’ve already seen collapse do give us a clue as to where we are headed. The geographical overreaching in Asia and Europe. The environmental overreaching in Latin America and now North America. It always leads to scattering, breaking up the too big to fail, and the landscapes and social conditions did look ugly for hundred if not thousands of years. But life does go on.

        I don’t believe we can stop it, have the will to stop it. We can only live by example and teach skills to the youngsters, pass along knowledge and skills, and preserve concepts and ideas for them to rebuild from. Here’s a nice little cartoon that illustrates our dumb all over and persistence at the same time

  23. cometman permalink*
    April 22, 2010 9:44 am

    So I caught a few minutes of NPR last night. I guess the producers were thinking birds of a feather should stick together so right after an interview with Larry the Cane Toad where they let him drone on without questioning his bullshit at all, they very aptly segued into an interview with a jizmopper. And that’s how I found out that the Lusty Lady in downtown Seattle is closing. And yes, they really did interview a jizmopper for the piece.

    Anyhoo, for those not familiar with the downtown Seattle area, the Lusty Lady is situated right across from the Seattle Art Museum and very near the skyscrapers inhabited by the titans of industry. It is just about the last (if not the absolute last) of the many porno houses in a neighborhood that has become increasingly gentrified in recent years. Its ever changing marquee provided much mirth to just about everybody who went downtown as did the businessmen who you could spot furtively looking around to see if anyone had spotted them as they exited the Lusty Lady as their lunch hours ended. The museum has a huge sculpture outside in honor of the working people of the world affectionately referred to as Hammering Man and my favorite marquee slogan from the Lusty Lady was “Hammer away big guy!”.

    She will be sorely missed. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d much prefer to walk by this kind of cheesecake factory than The Cheesecake Factory and the other Anywhere, USA businesses which have replaced all the local color that you used to see downtown. When I go back to visit I barely recognize the city I knew from the early 90s anymore.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 22, 2010 10:08 am

      Jizmopper. That’s a new one for me. Please explain. ;)

      I spent the most time in Seattle in the early 80’s, when Bill Gates was still relatively unknown outside the area and Boing Boing Boeing was still the main employer. The Seattle of the 90’s when I visited was another incarnation from the one I knew in the 80’s. I haven’t been back since around 98 and I can’t imagine what it is like these days.

      Too bad about the Lusty Lady. It is precisely those kinds of establishments that give a place character. There will be other holes in the walls in other ungentrified parts of cities, it just takes longer to find them.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 22, 2010 10:24 am

        Everything changes and I’d imagine that just about every city in the world throughout history becomes largely unrecognizable if you visit after being away for a couple decades. I wouldn’t mind so much if new local businesses took over as old ones left but that is not what’s happening in nearly every city in the country. Now they all look alike.

  24. cometman permalink*
    April 22, 2010 9:50 am

    Humanity may make the earth look ugly for a thousand years, but the sun can do it a lot faster and make it last a lot longer. If we keep up or profligate ways, perhaps the sun will decide we don’t deserve this planet at all and wipe the slate clean.

    Check out these new images from NASA’s newly launched Solar Dynamics Observatory.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 22, 2010 10:16 am

      Whoa. That is some flick of the bick. Perhaps we should start rebuilding the old temples for sacrificial offerings with fire ant hills at the summit. I should think a few vampire squid and cane toads would be a fine contribution and a fine beginning.

  25. cometman permalink*
    April 22, 2010 9:53 am

    Now you too can poo with Yoo.

  26. cometman permalink*
    April 22, 2010 10:03 am

    After fomenting a coup got rid off Aristide and that pesky democracy and an earthquake got rid of most of the rest of Haiti, the country is now ripe for the shock doctrine economic policies the US is so fond of. Haiti is open for business!

    It was fitting that the Mar. 31 “International Donors Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti” was held in the Trusteeship Council at the United Nations headquarters in New York. At the event, Haitian President René Préval in effect turned over the keys to Haiti to a consortium of foreign banks and governments, which will decide how (to use the conference’s principal slogan) to “build back better” the country devastated by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

    This “better” Haiti envisions some 25,000 farmers providing Coca-Cola with mangos for a new Odwalla brand drink, 100,000 workers assembling clothing and electronics for the U.S. market in sweatshops under HOPE II legislation, and thousands more finding jobs as guides, waiters, cleaners and drivers when Haiti becomes a new tourist destination.

    “Haiti could be the first all-wireless nation in the Caribbean,” gushed UN Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton, who along with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, led the day-long meeting of over 150 nations and international institutions. Clinton got the idea for a “wireless nation,” not surprisingly, from Brad Horwitz, the CEO of Trilogy, the parent company of Voilà, Haiti’s second largest cell-phone network.

    Thanks for nothing Bubba.

  27. cometman permalink*
    April 22, 2010 10:27 am

    Let’s see if this rally which is an order of magnitude or two larger than your average teabagger gathering gets any nationwide press – Thousands of protesters at Illinois Capitol to press for tax increase .

    Thousands of protesters bused down by labor unions and social service advocates rallied at the Capitol today in an attempt to pressure state lawmakers into raising the income tax to avoid more budget cuts.

    A spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White estimated the rally crowd at 15,000, with more than 12,000 marching around the building. That would appear to make it the largest Capitol protest since the Equal Rights Amendment crowds a quarter-century ago.

    Bus after bus pulled up on streets surrounding the Capitol complex and dumped sign-waving protesters clad in purple, green, red and blue shirts that represented a show of strength from a variety of public employee unions and dozens of groups that formed what they named the “Responsible Budget Coalition.”

    “Raise my taxes! Raise my taxes! Raise my taxes!” they chanted, lined up shoulder to shoulder for a few hundred yards stretching a street in front of the Capitol.

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