Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Communist Crimes versus Capitalist Corruption

"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand."
Milton Friedman was an extraordinary Nobel Prize-winning economist with a great sense of humour too ;-)

 "We saw all the secrets of the cosmos open before us. We saw how each thing is generated into being at every moment. We saw that there is truly nothing else but the one Creator, and all else is but articulations of His will" 

"It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any." 

Hugh Laurie​

The idea of the independent, unaffiliated artist is a myth of the Cold War, a simplification of the vexed relationship between artists and patrons... The Myth of the Pure Artist

A modern Machiavelli. Edward Luttwak is a TLS-toting, bovine-raising intellectual. He claims a central role in the Prague Spring  and in creating the Toyota Prius Prague Second Spring

FORGET everything you thought you knew about how to spot a liar — new research from the University of Michigan suggests we’ve all been getting it wrong for years. 
A recent study conducted by a team of researchers into what lying really looks like used 120 real-life court cases sources from The Innocence Project as test subjects and found the hallmarks of a fibber are different to what we thought:
"Rather than sweaty palms and avoiding eye-contact, liars were much more likely to stare a person straight in the eye and use their hands more than those telling the truth. They also grimaced or scowled using their whole face more often and would use words like “um” to fill the space between sentences."

Senator Failed to Properly Disclose Millions in Income Wall Street Journal. Corker (R-TN).

Banks weigh threat from internet sectorFinancial Times

Controversial American businessman Sol Trujillo flew in his amigos to Telstra. Now Sydney's railway chief, Howard Collins, appears to have brought in his Barmy Army Top Jobs for the barmy army

Pat Kinsella for The Chronicle Review
In the 2008 Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism it was stated that crimes committed under communism were often crimes against humanity, according to the definition developed in the Nuremberg Trials, and that the crimes committed under communism and Nazism were comparable. Communist Crimes

On Saturday, a 19 year old Russian soldier, Vadim Kostenko, died at an airbase in Latakia, Syria, the first confirmed fatality among Russian troops supporting air strikes in the war ravaged country.
Official Russian sources said he hung himself over lost love. But as his family buried him in Grechanaya Balka, across the Azov Sea from Russia’s newly annexed Crimean Peninsula, they disputed this, saying Kostenko had a broken jaw and cracked skull.
There is reason to share this skepticism, as the former chess grandmaster and exiled Russian dissident Garry Kasparov explains in his new book, Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin And The Enemies Of The Free World Must Be Stopped.
For all of Putin’s hyper-confident bluster on the international stage, Kasparov said, the perennial president is vulnerable to the domestic political toll of dead young soldiers. And so, as the “mafia” leader of a personality cult similar to Hitler’s Germany, he lies.
“It’s all about him staying in power, because he doesn’t have any other goals,” Kasparov said in an interview. “He doesn’t have any strategy, unless you call tactics of survival strategy.”
Kasparov on Putin

Museum of Political Corruption. Note also also related piece: New Yorkers May Soon Be Able To Buy Kickbacks … As Souvenirs NPR

“Over the past decade, the stability of the corporate world has been tested by accounting scandals and the 2008 financial crisis, among other things. These events eroded relations between boards and shareholders, and stressed the need for high corporate governance standards to restore trust. As corporate governance is critical to shareholders and the backbone of efficient financial markets, it is important for management and board members to be informed on the latest corporate governance trends and recognized “best practices”. In an effort to help one navigate this evolving area we are pleased to present the Frederic W. Cook & Co. 2015 Corporate Governance Study on executive compensation-related corporate governance practices among top 250 companies. This study covers three main areas: anti-hedging and anti-pledging policies, compensation recovery (“clawback”) policies, and executive stock ownership guidelines.”

Kenya Malchkin's country
The huge post-credit crunch buying up of urban buildings by corporations has significant implications for equity, democracy and rights. Does the massive foreign and national corporate buying of urban buildings and land that took off after the 2008 crisis signal an emergent new phase in major cities? From mid-2013 to mid-2014, corporate buying of existing properties exceeded $600bn (£395bn) in the top 100 recipient cities, and $1trillion a year later – and this figure includes only major acquisitions (eg. a minimum of $5m in the case of New York City). Sydney: Who Owns Our Cities—And Why This Urban Takeover Should Concern Us All 
10 Moral Crises That Have Resulted From Unfettered, Free Market Capitalism Alternet 

Extreme inequality fueling climate change: Oxfam study Ricochet 

French National Front fails to win any regions in elections Irish Times. A big deal, as they were ahead in several key regions in the first round of voting. a sign that establishment parties (and voters) are taking the implications of the far right coming to power in France seriously.

Woman Killed in Savannah in Yet Another Mass Shooting Today Gawker. I hate being right about this, but years ago, I predicted random increases in violence as the likely response to the crappy post-crisis economy and rising inequality, not revolution or meaningful economic protests. But it’s still shocking to see it happening on this scale, and this sort of thing feeds on itself (as in it has become legitimated in a perverse sort of way)

Mass shootings occur daily in the US International Business Times

What it’s like to visit Cuba now, as an American

Responding to a recent post about Donald Trump, Dan Kennedy says we should all calm down:

Trump is not winning, and he’s not going to win. Members of the political press may wring their hands over their inability to convince Trump’s supporters that his lies, his outrageous statements, and even his flirtation with fascism should disqualify him from the presidency. But the overwhelming majority of the public wants nothing to do with Trump.

 London police offer Donald Trump a reality check Washington Post. Delightful Boris Johnson:
“As a city where more than 300 languages are spoken, London has a proud history of tolerance and diversity and to suggest there are areas where police officers cannot go because of radicalization is simply ridiculous,” he said.
“The only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump,” Johnson quipped.