Sunday Open Thread

- Mexico’s organized crime groups are now starting to take over some other agricultural industries by force.

– Naked Capitalism connects the dots on how our banking crisis provided a very strong disincentive to do anything about Wachovia’s dealings with Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations.

– At the Cannabis Defense Coalition’s public meeting tomorrow night, the discussion will be about the pending medical marijuana bill.

– Also regarding medical marijuana, Dr. Oz actually did a pretty good job with the topic, despite allowing heavily-funded charlatan Andrea Barthwell on the panel (Barthwell is paid by a company that makes a medical marijuana substitute called Sativex, which would like to charge lots of money for their drug without having to worry about people just using the plant instead).

– A good start for the M’s. They’re 2-0 and yesterday Ichiro became the all-time franchise hits leader.

Comments

  1. 1

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    Well, those Wachovia guys had to come up with SOME way to get their bonuses…makes you wonder who the real bankers are these days.

  2. 2

    CC "Bud" Baxter spews:

  3. 3

    proud leftist spews:

    That Florida pastor who burned the Koran several days back, which triggered a mob attack on a UN facility in Afghanistan resulting in 7 deaths, accepts no responsibility for his juvenile act. Hardly surprising. Wingnuts don’t understand cause-and-effect.

  4. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    No Nukes!

    As the Japanese nuclear catastrophe unfolds, it’s becoming clear the Japanese government (a) negligently supervised the plant operator, and (b) both the government and the power company have consistently lied to the public about the extent of the catastrophe and the radiation dangers to the public.

    Yes, this 40-year-old plant was old technology, and the newer nuclear plant designs are supposedly safer. But there’s no evidence that the nuclear industry, either there or here, has grown more honest or trustworthy; and their track record so far as that they can’t be trusted.

    Add to that the current political climate in the U.S. of extreme antagonism toward any kind of government regulation, and there just isn’t a basis for allowing nuclear plants to be built in the U.S., even using the new and supposedly “safer” technologies — after all, nothing, not even an airbag, is safe in the hands of idiots. And we have a hell of a lot of idiots running loose in the good ol’ USA right now.

    If nuclear plants are safe, why does the industry need a $500 million cap on liability to make them economically feasible? To my way of thinking, if you can’t operate an industry without shifting its liability risks to the general public, then that industry shouldn’t be in operation.

    So forget about my support for domestic nuclear plants. I ain’t gonna support it. As the Japanese disaster and coverup demonstrates, the nuclear industry is run by imbeciles and juveniles, and even one of those plants can do too much damage to allow that to happen here.

    I’m a firm “no” vote to domestic nuclear power.

  5. 5

    spews:

    4 – Totally disagree. Safe nuclear power should be a high national priority. There is no other energy source more concentrated in the UNIVERSE. If we use it wisely – all humanity benefits.

    The French model is a good model we should emulate but yes even that model has its flaws – I don’t see a lot of movement in newer, more efficient designs.

    Zotz and I have gone back and forth about this and he has a good point – our political system is too compromised by greed heads and bone-headed right wing ideologues.

    But the need for the technology remains. The weather keeps getting more extreme and the demand for a better standard of living for the world’s poor grows ever more desperate. We need to innovate on energy productivity like we have in other areas like information technology.

  6. 6

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    YLB…I believe we have come to a fork in the road. With greater awareness of the externalities and real costs of modern industrial civilization, do we continue down the same path poisoning the planet and closing the future (think Jared Diamond’s “Collapse”), or do we “go for it” and pray for various technical miracles that will overcome these problems…problems like pollution, climate change, resouce exhaustion, over population?

    How can we continue to afford the gargantuan costs (and wastes) of the standard of living we enjoy and still somehow desire the developing world to attain what we have? Are we just fooling ourselves in this regard? Do we really want China and India to catch up to us….or remain the suppliers of cheap labor?

    It may well be time to consider “detuning” our tightly coupled systems, and actually embarking on a type of civilization that may include a lower standard of living. Seriously.

    We may be rapidly running out of options.

    Thanks.

  7. 8

    Zotz sez: Teahadists are Koch suckers! spews:

    @5, 6: Entropy.

    The very best option is the lowest energy state practicable, renewable or otherwise.

    We should be focused like a laser on negawatts. And it’s a target rich environment: We currently waste 3/4ths of the energy we use.

  8. 9

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    @4, 5,6,_,8 and you, too, 9: See Aaron Datsman’s recent scribbles at “A Tiny Revolution”. Enlightening stuff if you ask me.

  9. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 I have no argument with you on the technology aspect of nuclear power. I get the feeling you’ve completely missed my point. Which is, the nuclear industry is so incompetent and irresponsible that even putting “safe” (actually, this should be typed as “safer”) technology in their hands is asking for trouble. And because this trouble is eminently foreseeable and highly certain, it makes no sense to entrust these people with a driver’s license and a car, let alone dozens of nuclear power plants.

  10. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Employment By The Numbers

    I want to shift gears here and talk about the latest employment report, which is getting a lof buzz, and being hyped by wishful thinkers of the Pollyanna camp.

    Before I post the data, let’s talk about the big picture. Ever since the 1970s, each recession has been deeper, longer, and has left us with a higher structural unemployment rate in the next business cycle.

    Now, the numbers. I predict these figures will open your eyes to the ugly reality of what’s happening to American workers.

    Fewer Americans are currently employed right now than in January 2000. The U.S. population has risen 30 million since then. We’re now 2 years into expansion but so far we’ve regained only 17% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession. The number of people unemployed for 99 weeks or longer has increased over the last 12 months from 7.5% to 13.5% of the unemployed. Low-paying jobs in the so-called ‘eat, drink and get sick sectors (a.k.a. restaurants, bars and health care) … account for 19% of total employment, but chipped in an outsized 29% of last month’s [employment] gain.” Two-thirds of this gain consisted of part-time jobs, and the number of people working part-time because they can’t get full-time work increase by 93,000 last month. And despite the gains in the raw employment data, so far there’s been no improvement in “organic income growth.”

    In other words, the recent employment data is nowhere near as rosy as it’s being painted, in fact, it’s downright depressing.

    Source: Barron’s, April 4, 2011, p. 6.

  11. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    U.S. corporations now make two-thirds of their profits overseas, so they don’t need American workers or consumers anymore, and two-thirds of U.S. corporations pay no corporate income taxes, so they aren’t supporting American society anymore.

    In short, the bulk of the American people are on the verge of becoming superfluous. The safety net is being dismantled. You would think that, in these circumstances, our government would at least issue us cyanide pills so we can kill ourselves. But there’s no funding for that, either. The money went to giving more tax breaks to billionaires.

  12. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The headline story in the Seattle Times today is that straight-A students and valedictorians are being denied admission to the University of Washington because the U.W. is allocating entering-freshmen spaces to nonresidents who pay three times as much tuition as residents.

    I suppose you can argue that Washington students and their parents shouldn’t expect to have access to the University of Washington anymore, because the U.W. doesn’t get financial support from state taxes anymore, and therefore has to scrape up money for its operating expenses however it can. In other words, we don’t have a public university operated for the benefit of our state’s students anymore. It’s already gone, taken from us by the unwillingness of two-thirds of our voters to make the richest 1% of us pay a little bit in state taxes. It’s tempting to argue the U.W. rejection letters now showing up in the mailboxes of Washington students who worked very hard to earn good grades are their just desserts for the stupidity of their parents’ voting behavior, but I can’t bring myself to say that. I think those kids deserve to have a university education. Sadly, there’s no university for them to attend. Unless they live in Hong Kong and have rich parents.

  13. 14

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    the nuclear industry is so incompetent and irresponsible that even putting “safe” (actually, this should be typed as “safer”) technology in their hands is asking for trouble.

    Who said anything about putting nuclear power in those fuckers’ hands? They should all be blindfolded, stood up against a wall, and laughed out of civilized society.

  14. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @14 I’m amenable to negotiating an upscaling of our nuclear power capacity if someone can come up with a plausible plan to replace the human component of the nuclear industry with a new group who aren’t stupid, lying, incompetent, dishonest — and did I already mention incompetent? — sons of bitches.

  15. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Another condition I will insist on is repealing Anderson-Cooper and requiring nuclear operators to carry adequate insurance, the cost of which will be passed through to power customers, of course, so that the true costs of producing electricity with nuclear plants is reflected in power rates, instead of forcing the power plant’s neighbors to subsidize those rates by shifting the fair market value of those risk costs to them without compensation.

    The current system of shifting the financial risk of nuclear accidents from operators to homeowners and business owners in surrounding communities is a dealbreaker for me.

  16. 17

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    Roger,

    If we’re gonna’ have nuclear power, it should be nationalized. Thus both the risks and rewards of such a challenging venture would be borne by all.

    Now some may use that statement to call me a socialist, and my response would be, “Cry me a river.”

  17. 18

    spews:

    Wow, so much discussion, so many points, so little time.

    Roger – nuclear power has been operated quite safely in this country since Three Mile Island. It produces almost 20 percent of the electricity we use. Ask Zotz – he was a former navy nuc, it is possible to operate nuclear power plants safely – in the Navy’s case at great cost. As I said before I look at the French model and say it’s possible to have a safe civilian nuclear power program be a national priority. Zotz doesn’t think it can be done here and maybe he’s right.

    Zotz – am a big fan of Negawatts as well. It’s a shame homes are built in this country to leak energy like sieves. We can do a lot better in end use efficiency.

    Proud – I don’t believe we can turn back the clock. I believe the way forward is through progress and progress is cheaper energy that is not gained through dumping more carbon into the atmosphere. I believe only with cheaper energy can mankind reduce its footprint upon the planet. With cheaper energy mankind can completely reuse the human waste stream – imagine no landfills. Imagine mining the existing landfills for raw materials. Imagine raising the standard of living for all of humanity. If is this is done then it is likely that the population stabilizes at 9 or 10 billion people. This is only possible with energy that is much cheaper than it is now and I only see us getting there with nuclear power. Acres and acres of gigantic wind turbines is not the answer – that is increasing man’s footprint. Solar panels on all the roofs is probably not the answer either – producing those panels incurs a toxic waste burden in the production of those panels.

    Now what KIND of nuclear power is going to be required? Well it certainly has to be safer and much much cheaper than the nuclear power we use today. I believe it is doable.

  18. 19

    Michael spews:

    LOLZ… Will debate for food.

    R.N.C. May Sponsor Debates in Exchange for Help on Debt
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Republican National Committee has asked the party’s likely presidential candidates if they would be willing to participate in debates in which it picked the format, the content and even the moderators in exchange for their help digging the party out of its $21 million debt.
    Blogs

    In a letter, two committee officials proposed seven debates that would essentially give the party’s stamp of approval to monthly meetings from August to February. The process would give the candidates an excuse to skip any potentially hostile debates.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04......html?_r=1