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Miserable Movie Monday

November 8, 2010

Flipping through channels last night and had the misfortune of catching about 5 minutes of the above monstrosity. I would however be willing to risk permanent blindness to see Boehner in a Speedo and Hillary in a bikini if it meant the sharktopus would find them morally lacking enough to gnaw upon. How the hell else are we ever going to be rid of these bastards?

One redeeming quality – the theme song is kinda catchy.

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    November 8, 2010 10:31 am

    Even Bush’s and now Barry’s corrupt SecDef is urging the repeal of DADT before the new Congress convenes. If Barry’s really serious about being in favor of ending this policy, now would be the time to prove it.

  2. cometman permalink*
    November 8, 2010 10:35 am

    How bad is it when even the Girl Scouts realize the nation’s leaders are all full of shit?

    [Girl Scout ]CEO Tamara Woodbury asked me this question, “What do you think the biggest obstacle is to inspiring girls to becoming leaders in our society?” Having just spoken about the values that the Girl Scouts stand for and consciously make an effort to communicate to their girls – honor, integrity, loyalty, courage, and patriotism – I replied that they must view leadership as a choice that would interfere with other interests.

    “No,” she said. “The majority of girls feel that in order to be a leader in today’s society, they have to become liars and they do not want to compromise the values they are learning as Girl Scouts in order to become leaders.”

  3. cometman permalink*
    November 8, 2010 11:37 am

    A few articles of interest regarding Bushwa Barry’s visit to India.

    Chris Floyd notes that Barry is trying to seal the deal on a $5 billion arms shipment to India, one of the largest arms deals in history, presumably so they can help “fight the terrorists”.

    One of the carrots being offered to India permanent membership on the UN Security Council. One can only assume that this is an attempt to weaken any ties that India as one of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India,China) may be trying to make with China as these countries have been increasingly cooperating with each other while leaving the US out. The carrot was only offered after India protested when it wasn’t at first:

    It was not clear until shortly before his parliamentary address that Obama would call for India to join an expanded council on a permanent basis. Before the president left Washington, he said that a permanent seat for India was “complicated” – a statement that triggered anger here.

    Of course, sending arms to India to “fight terrorists” has an added tacit bonus for the US warlords – it strengthens another country militarily as the US continues to add bases and weapons in countries bordering China. The carrot for India is a stick for China and I’m sure the message hasn’t been lost on their leadership. The US has been pressuring them in a currency war of late, and this move may be seen as a military threat if the currency war doesn’t work out the way the US wants.

    Meanwhile, Indians still haven’t forgotten the disaster caused by US corporations decades ago as Bhopal survivors protest Barry’s visit.

    While the US warlords continue to export about the only commodity the US still makes – death and destruction – the cries of Arundhati Roy who may be arrested by Indian authorities for continuing to speak the truth about all this foolishness continue to fall on mostly deaf ears. From the Chris Floyd piece –

    In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 8, 2010 1:24 pm

      I have been waiting for Roy’s response but hadn’t looked it up yet for fear of scalding my eyeballs. Are all those terrorists in Pakistan, or will the near-fascist BJP – which praised Obama’s speech to the rafters – find a few more among India’ indigenous?

      And that speech! It was like Beck mindlessly chanting the names of the founding fathers to peddle his gold schemes. Rabindranath Tagore, B. R. Ambedkar, the dalit author of the constitution (although not by name I think), and of course Gandhi, Gandhi, Gandhi.

      Gandhi Tourette’s.

      What the hell would Gandhi make of an India still hideously poor threatenting with nukes and whoring its way onto the Security Council?

      As it dragged on forever, I wondered if he might drag Ravi Shankar on to the stage to accompany him, or perhaps a couple Bollywood numbers in the background.

      • cometman permalink*
        November 8, 2010 1:42 pm

        Just did a little search and found that in recent days BJP activists have fucked up a Kashmiri leader who I’m assuming is Muslim and in an irony I’m sure is lost on them, have basically called for a fatwah against Roy.

        Didn’t see the speech myself but that sounds like some serious bootlicking. Makes it sound like Barry could really use some help with China, so what’s a little fascism among friends?

        • artemis54 permalink
          November 8, 2010 2:14 pm

          That is not surprising. Nothing would be, given for instance the BJP’s open embrace of and organizing role in the genocide in Gujarat.

          • cometman permalink*
            November 8, 2010 3:09 pm

            But how would we have any morals at all without the religious to guide us…

  4. cometman permalink*
    November 8, 2010 1:24 pm

    Some links –

    Worth noting, even though the corporate media or anyone in Congress doesn’t feel it worth mentioning , that voting machines still don’t work properly – All Diebold Touch-screen Voting Systems Fail on Election Day at 110 Polls Across Utah County, UT.

    Bill Greider has an excellent article on what can be done to keep us all from going broke – The End of Free-Trade Globalization.

    Greider gives Barry more credit than I feel he deserves for wanting to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. Barry may want to bring the jobs back, but that in and of itself is not enough. They need to pay a living wage in order to right the ship and I’m not convinced that Barry gets that part, not after forcing concessions on the UAW in order to bail out GM and Chrysler. This is especially true since Greider acknowledges that what needs to be done will likely raise prices somewhat. His conclusion is spot on –

    Multinationals drive the destructive cycle but are also its prisoners. They cannot quit on their own without losing out to other companies. Only governments, acting together and individually, have the power to reverse the cycle before it is too late. The US government can confront these negative forces by altering bottom-line incentives for multinationals based here. It can do this through the tax code, by levying a stiff penalty on corporations that continue to offshore more production than they create at home.

    Public subsidies are another leverage point. Instead of competing with other nations to provide the biggest subsidies, Washington could disqualify companies from any form of subsidy unless they agree to accept concrete performance terms reflecting national loyalty. The obvious means of enforcement is a staple device of American capitalism—the enforceable contract. When GE gets capital and other financial support from taxpayers, it makes no promises about how long the jobs will stay at home or even if jobs will be created. The government should get it in writing: if the company is unwilling to make such commitments, it won’t receive any money. If GE decides to break the promise, the contract will make the company return the money or surrender the security bond required up front. Government, in other words, should mimic practices that are routine on Wall Street and in corporate finance.

    If Washington also adopts sterner measures to reduce its trade deficits, the discipline will alter strategic decision-making by firms like GE. A collar that steadily closes the trade gap would create risks for offshoring companies and capital investment abroad, since foreign production would lose its assured access to the American consumer. A border tax on social costs would provide a similar way to defend American standards from free riders overseas. If, for example, the United States decides it must raise costs for domestic producers to reduce pollution or hydrocarbon consumption, foreign factories should be required to pay an equivalent border tax on imports if their country of origin does not impose similar costs on production. An emergency general tariff would be a more extreme version of the same principle.

    All these suggestions are deeply disruptive to global commerce, and, yes, many would raise prices for Americans. But the country’s predicament is a historic emergency that cannot wait for market solutions. The United States must, in effect, decide that its role as Goliath is over. It’s time to act like a nation again rather than as the global overseer. If Barack Obama doesn’t find the nerve to act, maybe the next president will.

  5. cometman permalink*
    November 8, 2010 1:26 pm

    A righteous rant form David Sirota. Looks like he could have used one of those “Go fuck yourself” bots mentioned here last week, but for this article he chose to do it the old fashioned way – Thank You, Dick Cheney, For Giving Me the Proper Words. Congress may have turned red but Sirota’s language stayed very blue. A large snippet, because it bears repeating –

    In the past, I may have contributed to some sort of organized pushback. But not this year. No, this time I can muster only one Cheney-esque response to the whole grotesque kabuki theater surrounding the inane “Future of the Democratic Party” debate: Go fuck yourself.

    Evan Bayh and Third Way and The Democratic Strategist and the DLC and all the professional pundits and cable-TV zombies and D.C. spokesholes – all of you soul-raping corpses and shit-eating poindexters paid to appear on my television screen and scream at me about liberals ruining everything, please, I beg you on behalf of the silent irritated majority: Just go fuck yourself.

    Go fuck yourself because all of your arguments are about what policies should be pursued to rescue Democratic politicians’ electoral future, rather than about what policies are needed to rescue, say, the fucking country’s future. Additionally, go fuck yourself because if you know so much about winning elections and if you are so sure conservadem-ism/Blue Dog-ism is the way to win said elections, how come it was the conservadems/Blue Dog candidates – not liberal candidates – who lost the most elections this year?

    Also, go fuck yourself because the fact that you are even trying to create the same old bash-the-liberals debate exposes you not just as substantively wrong, but as professionally employed to despoil our culture with bullshit — and specifically, with bullshit that you know is bullshit. That, really, everyone knows is bullshit.

    The facts are painfully apparent. Though hundreds — if not thousands — of people in D.C. are professionally paid to pretend these facts require debate and analysis and parsing and speculation and press releases and pithy Tweets and Sunday Show roundtables and C-SPAN symposia and to-camera cable-TV rants and lengthy thousand-page books, they don’t require any of that. The facts are simple. The facts are obvious. The facts are undeniable to anyone not paid fistfulls of sweaty money to lie or sensationalize:

    1. The Democratic Party shit on its base with its policies, as noted above.

    2. This demoralized the Democratic base, which responded by not turning out to vote. As CBS News notes, “Hispanics, African Americans, union members and young people were among the many core Democratic groups that turned out in large numbers in the 2008 elections (but) turnout among these groups dropped off substantially, even below their previous midterm levels.”

    3. In cause-and-effect style, the result of all this was, as the Washington Post reports, a freshman congressional class that is primarily made up of angry, white, lunatic-conservative assholes.

    So yes, all of you who are wasting all of our time pretending this isn’t the basic point-A-to-point-B story of the election — and there are a lot of you out there — please, if not for me, then for everyone else: Go fuck yourself.

    We’ve got lives to lead, we’ve got struggles to struggle through, we’ve got bills to pay – in short, we’ve got to get through the shit you’ve created and continue to create. And as you now incessantly bitch about the alleged scourge of those evil election-losing liberals, as you whine and wail and cry from the cocktail and hors d’oeuvre paradise of TV studios and green rooms and congressional offices and party fundraising events, you’ve made quite clear you don’t give a shit about the harsh reality we all face – the harsh reality we all face thanks to you.

    Knowing all of that, I’ll end just reiterate my one succinct request: All I ask is that as you continue your hard work to prop up the kleptocracy, as you continue to clog our last remaining democratic conduits with your viscous rhetorical shit bombs, please, do us all a favor and for the love of whatever god you worship – please just stop wasting our damn time and go fuck yourself.

  6. cometman permalink*
    November 8, 2010 2:02 pm

    Sigh.

    Scientists Discover Dying Corals and Creatures Near Deep Water Horizon Oil-Spill Site in the Gulf

  7. cometman permalink*
    November 9, 2010 10:21 am

    I was poking around used bookstores over the weekend and I did find an old book by John Brunner called Web of Everywhere which looks pretty good. Thanks for the recommend on that guy.

    Still looking for Stand on Zanzibar and Sheep Look Up . This bookstore in the Boston area looks promising for a lot of out of print titles I’ve been looking for. Next time I’m in the area hopefully I’ll have time to stop by and do some browsing.

    Put a bunch of non-fiction books on my Xmas list so I don’t get too divorced from reality :P This one might be up your alley if you haven’t already read it – How the Irish Saved Civilization. Saw a bunch of fairly bad reviews for it, most complaining that the book doesn’t live up to its title somehow. Being a fan of books about books, I was mainly interested in reading about how the Irish monks preserved so much writing during the dark ages, but I’m not under the illusion that they alone were responsible for “saving civilization” as the Arabs were doing much the same thing at the time. If you go into it with the understanding that it’s a popular history as opposed to an academic one, it sounds like it would be worth the read. Ever read this one? If it does really stink I’ll cross it off the list before somebody gets it for me, but Cahill is a pretty reputable author from what I can tell.

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 9, 2010 1:23 pm

      I haven’t read the Irish civ book it sounds worth a read. I have read How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It and highly recommend it.

      A busy people, the Gaels. And so modest too.

      • cometman permalink*
        November 9, 2010 1:56 pm

        Thanks. I’ll check that one out too.

  8. cometman permalink*
    November 9, 2010 10:35 am

    From miserable movies to the sublime. Finally remembered to look up some of the upcoming Werner Herzog movies we’d mentioned here over the last several months to see if they were out yet.

    Looks like Herzog’s version of La Boheme was just a short film and it is done. I’d probably appreciate it a little more being more familiar with the opera, but here it is, visually and musically stunning as usual –

    His film about the Chauvet caves called Cave of Forgotten Dreams premiered at the Toronto Film festival a couple months ago. Sounds like it’s still making the film festival rounds and not out on DVD yet. Here’s some Q&A with Herzog after the screening –

    Also, Herzog has a nice box set of many of his documentaries out which you can order from his website.

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 9, 2010 1:25 pm

      Gee thanks. Between you and cdroots I could blow the Christmas budget and January’s bills too in about three mouse clicks.

  9. cometman permalink*
    November 9, 2010 12:24 pm

    WTF is this all about? – a fucking missile gets launched off the Cali coast and nobody seems to know where it came from.

    I’m sure the US government will get to the bottom of it right away!

    Just like they’re getting to the bottom of the BP disaster and finding no evidence at all that BP cut corners to increase profits. Oh sure, there was plenty of evidence that corners were cut, but no proof that it was done for profit. Of course once again the investigator has no subpoena power and is relying on the “good faith” of BP to cooperate. Check out the weasel words here –

    “Any time you are talking about $1.5m a day, money enters into it. All I am saying is that human beings did not sit there and sell human safety down the river for dollars that night,” he [chief investigator Fred Bartlit] said.

    Riiiight. They didn’t do it “that night”. And Fred’s just going to ignore all the other nights prior to the explosion when they did.

    • artemis54 permalink
      November 9, 2010 1:26 pm

      Hard to come up with any explanation of that missile that is the least bit reassuring. Everything else to one side, consider how busy SoCal airspace is.

  10. artemis54 permalink
    November 9, 2010 1:29 pm

    ATTENTION PARENTS, GUARDIANS, UNCLES, etc:

    Chemicals in Fast Food Wrappers Show Up in Human Blood

    Repulsive. Talk about Russian Roulette.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 9, 2010 2:22 pm

      Speaking of cooking your own dinner which I just mentioned below….

      What’s wrong with wax paper exactly if you just have to have some low grade dogfood for dinner (and I do indulge in that myself a few times a year, although possibly less after reading that)? That would seem to be a safer alternative, although there’s probably more to it than just paper and wax I suppose.

      I make burgers and fries fairly often at home. I make my own patties and just cut a potato and drop it in vegetable oil. Everyone who I give them to raves about handmade hamburgers and fries, as if it were the most difficult thing in the world. Never quite understood that.

  11. artemis54 permalink
    November 9, 2010 1:36 pm

    Tar Sands 1, Biodiversity 0

    The Sage grouse is being obliterated from Alberta. The province may be grouse-free by 2012.

  12. cometman permalink*
    November 9, 2010 1:54 pm

    Several financial articles of note which I’ll split into two parts. First a few related to Barry’s trip to Asia that require a good read and some digestion to get the gist.

    Mike Whitney explains why Bernanke’s latest round of QE won’t have the consequences the Fed claims it will – Bernanke’s Dollar Policy. In a nutshell, the idea is to push a lot more money into the system, ostensibly to encourage lending again and pump up asset prices. Of course the asset prices the banks want pumped up are real estate assets because they’re still sitting on all kinds of bad real estate debts that are not worth much and would show the banks as insolvent if they were forced to report their actual holdings. It won’t work because –

    Here’s how Nomura’s chief economist Richard Koo described QE:

    “The central bank’s implementation of QE at a time of zero interest rates was similar to a shopkeeper who, unable to sell more than 100 apples a day at $100 each, tries stocking the shelves with 1,000 apples, and when that has no effect, adds another 1,000. As long as the price remains the same, there is no reason consumer behavior should change–sales will remain stuck at about 100 even if the shopkeeper puts 3,000 apples on display. This is essentially the story of QE, which not only failed to bring about economic recovery, but also failed to stop asset prices from falling well into 2003.” (“Quantitative Easing; “The greatest monetary non event”, Pragmatic Capitalist)

    And of course this was already tried with the first round of QE, and it didn’t work then, at least not the way the oligarchs claimed they wanted it to. Rather than lending into the economy, banks just parked a lot of their cash in Treasuries to earn a safe easy profit, the very treasuries that were created in order to print the money to bail them out with in the first place. And since the Fed, Treasury, and the bankers are all thick as thieves (do you really need the “as” when in fact they are thieves?) they must have known this would be the result.

    Meanwhile Barry days that he wants to increase US exports, which requires devaluing the dollar.

    The plan to trash the dollar is not a unilateral gambit by Bernanke either. The entire Washington establishment—including the White House—appears to be behind it. In Saturday’s New York Times, President Barack Obama made the case for devaluation in predictable Orwellian doublespeak. Here’s an excerpt from the op-ed eerily titled “Exporting Our Way to Stability”:

    “As the United States recovers from this recession, the biggest mistake we could make would be to rebuild our economy on the same pile of debt or the paper profits of financial speculation. We need to rebuild on a new, stronger foundation for economic growth. And part of that foundation involves doing what Americans have always done best: discovering, creating and building products that are sold all over the world.

    We want to be known not just for what we consume, but for what we produce. And the more we export abroad, the more jobs we create in America. In fact, every $1 billion we export supports more than 5,000 jobs at home.

    It is for this reason that I set a goal of doubling America’s exports in the next five years. To do that, we need to find new customers in new markets for American-made goods. And some of the fastest-growing markets in the world are in Asia, where I’m traveling this week.” (Barack Obama, NY Times)

    The only way the US can double exports in 5 years is by reducing the dollar to fishwrap—which appears to be the policy.

    And what is it that Barry wants to export exactly? So far it looks like weapons and lots of them, and he wants to make them cheap.

    Continue on to this Democracy Now! interview with Michael Hudson who suspects that QE2 is an effort to arm the bankers in the ongoing currency wars since attempts to inflate assets did not work-

    MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, the object of warfare is to take over a country’s land, raw materials and assets, and grab them. And in the past, that used to be done militarily by invading them. But today you can do it financially simply by creating credit, which is what the Federal Reserve has done. It’s created $600 billion. It hasn’t gone into the economy. The head of the Fed is known as “Helicopter Ben” because he talks about dropping money into the economy. But if you see helicopters, they’re probably not your friends. Don’t go out and wait for them to drop the money, because the money is all going electronically into the banks. And the Fed has said, we want to give the banks so much money that they will lend it out so you can begin to bid up prices on real estate again and pull the banks out of the real estate negative equity that it’s in. So the purpose, according to the Fed, is to raise the price of real estate, to inflate asset prices. But that’s not happening. The actual banks have lent less today than they did in 2007. So the money is going abroad. And it’s going abroad not really to buy foreign companies so much, but to speculate in currency.

    ~snip~

    The world is dividing into two currency blocs. And over the last few months, China has gone to Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, and said, “We want to avoid using the dollar altogether.” They’re treating it like a pariah currency. They’re saying, “Well, let’s make a currency swap. We’ll give you our Chinese RMB, you give us your currency, the baht, and we’ll do our trade in our own currency. We are isolating the dollar, so that people are not going to use the dollar anymore.” That’s why the dollar is plunging on world foreign exchange markets. The whole world that America created after World War II of open markets is now closing off. And it’s closing off, really, because the United States is trying to rescue the real estate market from all the junk mortgages, all the crooked loans, all of the financial fraud, instead of just letting the fraud go and throwing the guys in jail like other economists have suggested.

    ~snip~

    So, in Europe, they’re saying, “How can America ever repay these dollar debts that they’re running up?” They can’t repay, and that’s why the euro is going up against America. And that’s why they say, “We want to now talk to the BRIC countries, to China, to the third world, and move into a currency area with them and just isolate the dollar, so they can’t do the kind of financial warfare that they’ve been engaging in.

    So Barry’s trip to Asia is sounding like an attempt to drive a wedge between the new currency block that is developing with China in the middle.

    And who will the winner be in all this? The banks of course and the rest of us can go screw – Wall Street Wins Again. Here’s Nomi speaking of the recent elections and Barry’s trip-

    Yet sadly, Obama showed pre-emptive signs of capitulation with two words: free market. Toward the end of the Q&A session after his speech, Obama said that the free market has to be “nurtured and cultivated” and that he has to take responsibility to make clear to the business community and the country that the most important thing we can do is boost and encourage our business sector and make sure that companies are hiring. His facial expression was as hollow as his words. He added that “we” have been talking to CEOs constantly (and don’t we all feel good about that?)—and that on his trip to Asia this week his whole focus will be on opening up markets, so “we can prosper, sell more goods and create more jobs in the United States” (that playbook comes from Bush Treasury Secretary Paulson, but that policy has been shown only to enable CEOs to outsource more, not less). He also pointed out that a whole bunch of corporate executives will join “us.”

    And that is the second reason he will not be re-elected: Businesses won’t need to fund his next campaign when they can fund the Republicans now that they are back in vogue. Businesses will meanwhile just extract what they can as long as they can, like better deals abroad in the name of free markets—the kind that the Fed is subsidizing back here at home. Obama and his supporters will see this in 2012 if they don’t now. The president could go all out and ignore the CEOs and focus on the general populace, but signs point to the contrary.

    To me , it sure seems like the oligarchs are throwing all kinds of shit against the wall and hoping something sticks. I really wish somebody could tell me who the hell is calling the shots these days because it sure as hell isn’t our elected officials. And what’s the purpose of all this really? Best I can tell, the rats all around the world know the “free market” system is going down and are trying to grab what they can hoping to be the biggest rat left standing when it all collapses. And it sure is starting to look like the smart money knows a collapse is coming. This article gives a good rundown of how the government manipulates various statistics to make it seem like things are better than they really are, but the take away bit was this –

    … insiders–the executives of America’s companies, who have to report any trading in their companies’ stock to the Securities & Exchange Commission — have been selling their holdings at a record pace this year, and especially in the last few months. Bloomberg reports that in October, insiders sold an all-time record of $662 million in shares of their own companies, while buying only $1.6 million of stocks in their companies. That’s a sell:buy ratio of 423:1

    Among the largest companies, executives were unloading their company shares at a ratio of 3177:1.

    You have to ask: what do these insiders know about the future direction of their businesses, and of our economy, that we don’t know? My guess is they are all dutifully telling analysts and investors that things are just great, but you’ve gotta wonder: Why are they all getting out now?

    • cometman permalink*
      November 9, 2010 2:13 pm

      Here are a couple more straight forward articles –

      The rumor mill has it that Barry may appoint Melissa Bean to head the Consumer Financial protection Agency that Elizabeth Warren, who should have been named head herself, is currently creating. Great.

      Will President Barack Obama appoint Wall Street-friendly Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? If so, that would be bad news for reformers, who are appalled by the prospect—but good news for John Michael Gonzalez, a leading lobbyist for Big Finance. Before becoming one of Washington’s top influence peddlers on behalf of financial firms and trade groups, he was Bean’s chief of staff.

      ~snip~

      Bean, a member of the House financial services and small business committees, has a long history as a favorite of Wall Street. Her top donors hail from the finance, insurance, and real estate industries, which together have poured $2.5 million into her campaign coffers over her five-year career, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

      ~snip~

      Bean ultimately voted for the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, but she tried to water down a crucial piece of the bill involving consumer protection laws.

      Based on past actions, she sounds like just the type of toady Barry is looking for.

      And since nobody bothered to do a damn thing about the High Frequency Trading that is a cancer on the stock markets or the lobbyists that are a cancer to the political system, the HFT companies are getting into the lobbying business themselves.

      Closely held companies with undisclosed profits and obscure names like Getco LLC, Hard Eight Futures LLC and Quantlab Financial LLC, are beginning to act more like Wall Street banks, cutting checks to politicians, forming trade groups and hiring lobbyists and ex-regulators. They’re looking to fend off tighter rules and appease lawmakers who say the firms disadvantage small investors and contribute to wild swings in stock prices.

      While the companies, which use high-powered computers to execute thousands of trades in milliseconds, aren’t approaching the big banks in Washington spending, they have more than quadrupled their political giving over the last four years, a Bloomberg News analysis shows. The top recipients include Eric Cantor, set to become House majority leader, and several incoming senators who won in last week’s Republican rout.

      The whole world is just fucking crazy.

      When’s the last time any of these assholes bothered to hug their kid or cook dinner or smell a flower or anything that halfway decent people do?

  13. artemis54 permalink
    November 9, 2010 2:47 pm

    Breaking: Obama Administration Denies Endangered Species Act Protection to 251 Species including from my neck of the woods the pacific fisher and the Oregon spotted frog.

    Pathetic.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 9, 2010 8:45 pm

      Sigh.

      If it isn’t a species every five year old is familiar with nobody seems to care. And plants?!?!? Fuck ’em. Who can tell one from another anyhow being all green like that.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 10, 2010 12:00 pm

      Couple more along the same line –

      Peyote cacti are becoming much more scarce, at least on this side of the border.

      New report suggests that 100 tigers are poached every year. The figures are based only on seizures of illegal tiger body parts so presumably a lot of other shipments aren’t caught. Sounds like the real number of poachings is even higher –

      “With parts of potentially more than 100 wild tigers actually seized each year, one can only speculate what the true numbers of animals are being plundered.”

  14. artemis54 permalink
    November 9, 2010 3:38 pm

    From the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a definitive piece of work: Looting the Seas – How Overfishing, Fraud, and Negligence Plundered the Majestic Bluefin Tuna

    Key Findings

    •Behind the plummeting stocks of Eastern Atlantic bluefin stock is a massive black market. At its peak, between 1998 and market. At its peak, between 1998 and 2007, more than one in three bluefin was caught illegally, creating an off-the-books trade conservatively valued at $4 billion.

    •Fishermen blatantly violated official quotas and engaged in an array of illegal practices, including misreporting catch size, hiring banned spotter planes, catching undersized fish, trading fishing quotas, and plundering tuna from North African waters where EU inspectors are refused entry.

    •National fisheries officials have colluded with the bluefin tuna industry to doctor catch numbers and avoid international criticism. France, for example, allegedly filed fraudulent catch data with the European Commission for years until it came clean in 2007.

    •National fisheries officials have colluded with the bluefin tuna industry to doctor catch numbers and avoid international criticism. France, for example, allegedly filed fraudulent catch data with the European Commission for years until it came clean in 2007.

    •Sea ranches, where bluefin are fattened to increase their value, became the epicenter for “laundering” tuna in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Many ranches grossly underreported the fish they had in their pens and faked releases when forced by authorities to let go of illegally-caught bluefin.

    •The paper-based reporting system implemented by regulators in 2008 to bring transparency to the trade —dubbed the Bluefin Tuna Catch Documentation scheme—is full of holes, rendering the data almost useless. For example, during 2008 and 2009 more than 75 percent of all purse seiner vessels catches — which comprise nearly half the overall catch—are missing crucial information that regulators need to follow the fish from vessel to market.

    •The paper-based reporting system implemented by regulators in 2008 to bring transparency to the trade —dubbed the Bluefin Tuna Catch Documentation scheme—is full of holes, rendering the data almost useless. For example, during 2008 and 2009 more than 75 percent of all purse seiner vessels catches — which comprise nearly half the overall catch—are missing crucial information that regulators need to follow the fish from vessel to market.

    •A widespread, off-the-books trade in bluefin tuna has existed in Japan since at least the mid-1980s. ICIJ obtained a confidential 2006 investigative report commissioned by Australia and Japan that exposed widespread overfishing and laundering into Japan of southern bluefin tuna, a sister species of the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

    •While there are signs that EU officials have started to crack down, illegalities remain a serious problem. In North Africa and Turkey, even less accountable fleets are ramping up operations.

    •A wall of secrecy protects the bluefin industry. Officials in countries from Spain to Croatia failed to produce records on fishing and farming infringements. Even the European Commission denied access to fishery infraction records, citing protection of commercial interests and even “military matters.”

    It is too bad shame is so out of fashion.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 9, 2010 9:03 pm

      Thanks for that. I’ll pass that along to a few people tomorrow.

      I knew what was going on was bad, but not that bad. Very interesting that some of those farms harvested more tuna than they had reported capturing. Guess that’s where the “laundering” comes in. Disgusting.

      Not too surprising though that so many are willing to overlook the regulations. Been seeing headlines for a few years now about record setting prices for bluefin like this one – $175,000 for one fucking fish. Mind boggling. Sushi grade tuna of a similar size generally sells for about $5,000 per fish. No idea what makes ones like that so much more expensive, probably just vanity. But that vanity is fueling their extinction by encouraging illegal harvests.

  15. cometman permalink*
    November 9, 2010 8:42 pm

    Almost failed to mention Carl Sagan Day.

    Happy birthday Carl from those of us still muddling along on the pale blue dot.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 10, 2010 11:53 am

      From the macrocosmos to the microcosmos, here’s today’s must read in full – Bacteria R Us.

      Excellent rundown of many of the new developments in bacteriology, some of which we’ve highlighted here before. The ideas of Sagan’s former wife Lynn Margulis which were considered pretty out there when she first published them a few decades ago are now becoming accepted science. Just a couple snippets, first on medicine-

      Recent research has shown that gut microbes control or influence nutrient supply to the human host, the development of mature intestinal cells and blood vessels, the stimulation and maturation of the immune system, and blood levels of lipids such as cholesterol. They are, therefore, intimately involved in the bodily functions that tend to be out of kilter in modern society: metabolism, cardiovascular processes and defense against disease. Many researchers are coming to view such diseases as manifestations of imbalance in the ecology of the microbes inhabiting the human body. If further evidence bears this out, medicine is about to undergo a profound paradigm shift, and medical treatment could regularly involve kindness to microbes.

      And on intelligence –

      ….the litany of bacterial talents does nibble at conventional assumptions about thinking: Bacteria can distinguish “self” from “other,” and between their relatives and strangers; they can sense how big a space they’re in; they can move as a unit; they can produce a wide variety of signaling compounds, including at least one human neurotransmitter; they can also engage in numerous mutually beneficial relationships with their host’s cells. Even more impressive, some bacteria, such as Myxococcus xanthus, practice predation in packs, swarming as a group over prey microbes such as E. coli and dissolving their cell walls.

      ~snip~

      …it is clear that bacteria are not what the general run of humans thought they were, and neither are humans. Bacteria are the sine qua non for life, and the architects of the complexity humans claim for a throne. The grand story of human exceptionalism — the idea that humans are separate from and superior to everything else in the biosphere — has taken a terminal blow from the new knowledge about bacteria.

      If you haven’t read Margulis’ Microcosmos, it really is a fascinating book. Highly recommended.

      Also, I’m very glad that my parents let me play with the farm animals and I suspect that allowing the squidlette to run around in the dirt with them has contributed to her being a very healthy kid as well. I really don’t want to get a stool transplant to fix my microbes, even if it does work as the article suggests :P

      • artemis54 permalink
        November 10, 2010 12:54 pm

        You mean it’s all connected?

        Have to dig up one of my all time faves, a lengthy paper documenting that the kitchens and bathrooms of slob batchelors were actually much more healthy than those of obsessive housewives constantly smearing the filth all
        around with their sponges and dishrags.

        o/t This is one of the reasons that the projects from the far, far shores of restoration ecology – restoring dinosaurs etc – are so ridiculous. You cannot restore the epigenetics but before that you cannot even restore the intestinal flora without which they would very likly not survive even a few days. Probably true even of former human forms. The moment has passed, a blueprint is not an organism. All the more reason to savor the moment and all the more reason to stop foreclosing future options.

        Life is flux.

      • artemis54 permalink
        November 10, 2010 1:08 pm

        RE: squidlette

        There are any number of studies demonstrating that kids who play in the dirt are healthier in later life, starting with a healthier immune system. It is after all the milieu we evolved in.

        Never mind mental health, a sense of connection with the world, and the chance of becoming a decent rounded human being.

        • cometman permalink*
          November 10, 2010 1:44 pm

          Yeah, there was a very good article in Harper’s within the last two or three years, it was about drinking raw milk I believe. Anyway, they mentioned the studies showing that people who grow up on or near farms get sick much less often than the general population. My family is living proof of that – my grandfather never went to the hospital his whole life until his mid-eighties, except when he got injured in an accident. Other than that, not once. I never missed a day of school after I got chicken pox in 3rd grade and I can think of maybe two or three days in the last 20 years where I had to call in sick for work, and even then it was mostly so I didn’t pass anything to co-workers.

          Let me know if you run across that filthy bachelor paper – I’d be interested in reading it.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 10, 2010 1:49 pm

      Is this where Sagan went? – Fermi Telescope Finds Giant Structure in our Galaxy.

      Merely calling it “giant” does do it justice though, not when you’re talking about bubbles of gamma energy 25,000 light years tall. The brain cannot comprehend the amount of energy necessary to produce such a thing.

  16. cometman permalink*
    November 10, 2010 1:56 pm

    Something tells me that if true, this may be a problem for Barry once the new House convenes – White House altered drilling safety report.

    The Interior Department’s inspector general says the White House edited a drilling safety report in a way that made it falsely appear that scientists and experts supported the idea of the administration’s six-month ban on new drilling.

    The inspector general says the editing changes resulted “in the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed.” But it hadn’t been. The scientists were only asked to review new safety measures for offshore drilling.

    ~snip~

    Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Republican, said in a statement that the investigation proved “that the blanket drilling moratorium was driven by a politics and not by science.”

    Wonder if any of the non-chordate Democrats who said they’d start all these investigations on Bush and his minions if only they could have the majority in 2006 are wishing they hadn’t completely backtracked on that. I don’t know if the above will be the issue that gets the impeachment hearings on Barry rolling, but I can smell them coming already.

    Act like a bunch of pussies and get steamrolled by those you enable.

  17. cometman permalink*
    November 10, 2010 2:08 pm

    Some links –

    Greenwald documents how the government is doing an end run around the law to intimidate people affiliated with Bradley Manning.

    Barry visits Indonesia, somebody leaks documents showing how Indonesia’s US-backed military uses violence and intimidation to silence dissent.

    Students fuck some shit up in the UK. Still pretty quiet here across the pond.

    More evidence that despite the claims of Barry and the FDA to the contrary, Gulf seafood contains very high levels of toxins.

    Been trying to avoid mentioning it since I can barely contain my disgust, but since we are documenting the empire’s decline I guess it does bear mentioning that rather than being thrown into a dark hole where he belongs, the smirking chimp is making a book tour. This article sums it up as well as anything, and that’s all I’ll say about this travesty.

  18. cometman permalink*
    November 11, 2010 7:38 am

    Possible explanation for that mystery missile – U.S. ‘Notice to Mariners’ Report May Explain Mystery Missile Launch.

    But the Pentagon doesn’t seem to know anything about that notice and their own explanation sounds a little unclear. Supposedly it was a plane, but they don’t seem to have any idea exactly what plane it is.

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