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Links Pi Day

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I’ve enjoyed the two days here! Many thanks to Yves for letting me run the controls for a little while. TTFN. You can find me most easily on Twitter. OK, links:

Habemus Papum:

Argentina’s Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis CNN

On the Selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francisco I America South and North. Good info.

Pope Francis is Known for Simplicity and Humility AP. Takes a LONG time to get into the Dirty War allegations.

Hidden Costs of the Minimum Wage NYT. Tripe from Casey Mulligan. He makes the bold point that the minimum wage must drop now, in a time when wages are falling across the board anyway, save for the very top. I’m sure he’s paid well.

Banks Bow to New York on Clawbacks Wall Street Journal

Over 100 Guantánamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike Democracy Now

Gillibrand Presses Military Officials on Sexual Assault YouTube

Jim Himes, Former Goldman Sachs Executive, Introduces Bill To Roll Back Key Element Of Dodd-Frank HuffPo. Himes has just become the chair of the national finance team for the DCCC, the campaign arm of House Democrats. His chief of staff is a former UBS lobbyist named Jason Cole.

I’m Gene Sperling, Assistant to President Obama for Economic Policy Reddit AMA. Includes this response:

In terms of punishing wrongdoing, I think we have a strong record. The president directed his DOJ to create a financial fraud enforcement tax force. Over the last few years, the justice department has filed 10,000 financial fraud causes against nearly 15,000 defendants – including more than 2,900 mortgage fraud defendants. These cases have resulted in guilty pleas and jail time. And we got the largest housing settlement in history, forcing five of the largest banks to pay billions in relief for families across America.

Hoo boy.

Senator Sherrod Brown Drops a Bombshell in Mary Jo White’s Hearing Pam Martens

Lee Buchheit, fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress The Guardian (h/t Richard Smith)

U.S. and U.K. in Tussle Over Trader Wall Street Journal

The Shadowy Residents of One Hyde Park—And How the Super-Wealthy Are Hiding Their Money Vanity Fair (h/t Richard Smith)

Falsity of Nuclear Accusation against Iraq Was Known before Bush’s Invasion Juan Cole

[INFOGRAPHIC] Uninsured and Unhealthy: The Health Insurance Woes of African Americans Finances Online

The Back-to-Work Budget Congressional Progressive Caucus

Insolvency Service on the verge of insolvency Financial Times. Not written by Joseph Heller, strangely. (h/t Richard Smith)

Obama: Gap with GOP may be ‘too wide’ for grand deficit deal The Hill. Mm-hm. Meanwhile…

Obama Wants to Give a Bigger Hit to Seniors on Social Security Than He Did to the Wealthy on Taxes Dean Baker

Nine terrifying facts about America’s biggest police force Salon (h/t Lambert)

Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll resigns amid state, federal probe of non-profit veterans group Miami Herald

Twinkies return expected by summer, new Hostess owner says Chicago Tribune. Private equity buyout.

Aaron Swartz Lawyers Accuse Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Of Misconduct Huffington Post

Powering Down Google Reader Google Blog. This is literally how I use the Internet.

Are the Koch Brothers trying to buy the Los Angeles Times? LA Weekly

Retail sales up 1.1% in February Census Bureau. Ex-gasoline, which has been rising, it was 0.6%.

Spectre of stagflation returns to haunt UK Financial Times

Britain’s austerity is indefensible Martin Wolf. Must-read of the day.

Antidote du jour: Today you get Carmen, my chihuahua, age 17 and as spry as ever.

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107 comments

    1. rjs

      i will; i use the reader continuously, not just for timely articles but to search back on previous ones; losing it will really cramp my style…

    2. Elliot

      I didn’t use any of the social features of google reader, and have no need for such features in a reader. Is there a way to use the old reader without joining facebook or signing in with google? I’d like a clean account.

  1. Dogberry

    Why do you waste time and space publishing links to articles behind paywalls, like today’s “must read of the day”? If you’ve subscribed to the service one presumes you’ll read them anyway. The rest of us have better things to spend our bandwidth on than sign-up invitations.

    1. Swedish Lex

      The FT’s paywall is so easy to circumvent that a child could do it.
      But apparently not you.

        1. rjs

          one way to read the FT free is to sign in with a different email account each time you have exceeded your free articles as a registered reader with your first email account…

        2. george teirney

          There may be benefits to clearing browser history and deleting all cookies when accessing various sites which attempt to monitor access. How to implement depends on browser, the first steps are simple, YMMV.

        1. please

          I have found that doesn’t work with the FT for me. It usually does for the NYT but I’ve never been successful simply copy pasting the article title into Google.

      1. Fíréan

        If the story is in the main stream media then there is a very good chance that same story is posted on a non-firewalled site, which doesn’t requre that you log-in and accept cookies to view.
        I seldom go to links posted here to the main stream media.

        1. george teirney

          Searching using the first sentence or two of an article will reveal where else it may be on the tubes. Sometimes even as a cached print preview at the original publisher not behind paywall or in the archives if the story is old. Cache and/or preview is your friend.

  2. from Mexico

    @ “Britain’s austerity is indefensible: Cameron’s arguments against fiscal policy flexibility are wrong”

    Isn’t Cameron merely doing what Tories do?

    A far more interesting case is Obama, for here we have the case of a liberal doing what Tories do.

    The labels we use seem to have lost all meaning.

    In Ponerology, the psychologist Andrew M. Lobaczewski notes that this “duality of language” is symptomatic of organizations which have become profoundly pathological. Its vocabulary is generally composed by “slipping a different meaning into the same names.”

    Where is William of Ockham and his nominalist revolution when we need them?

    1. ambrit

      True, Obama is the perfect example of a dis-honourable conservative. No, I take that back. Obama has the soul of a reactionary. (Said soul firmly in the pocket of the Adversary.)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I know for a fact that he is not a S.O.U.L. (Society of United Luddites) – I am the only member so far.

    2. Another Gordon

      Here in the UK we have also have a case of the liberals (in this case the Liberal Democrats) doing what Tories do.

      Admittedly the UK definition of ‘liberal’ is somewhat different than the US one but overlapping.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We must move beyond flat-Earth politics.

        In a non-Euclidean political world, when one travels left, eventually one arrives at the right.

  3. Ned Ludd

    The end of Google Reader is part of a larger trend. In the 1990’s, people used email, Usenet, and IRC ­– all open standards that anyone could freely implement. Now, people have migrated to Facebook, web forums (increasingly controlled by companies like Facebook and Disqus), and Twitter. For web radio, mp3 streams are being replaced by smartphone apps and flash players. When Google Reader was developed, Google saw open web feeds as the future. Now, Google+ and proprietary Android apps are the future, and technology based on the open standard of web feeds is discarded.

    For video, most streaming is controlled by companies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Hulu, and Google. Netflix alone decides whether you are allowed to watch their video streams on your computer. Google controls development of the Flash player on Linux, and they will no longer update it for any browser except Chrome.

    Before 1995, the U.S. backbone of the Internet was operated by the National Science Foundation, which “inherited the responsibility for nurturing the U.S. Internet from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)”. The Internet was operated, and improved, through the collaboration of researchers, academics, scientists, engineers, and computer programmers. Bill Clinton decommissioned the NSFNET Backbone Service and turned the Internet over to private corporations. The earlier ethos of openness – which gave us freedom to control our computers and our communication – continued to exist for some time, but now corporations are casting openness aside as they seek to lock us into their proprietary platforms.

    1. David H

      Grateful for the lowdown, Ned. Discussed the 10 bulls with you on Google Grps back in earlier yrs of the 21st. Just landed here looking for a M. Hudson youtube within past week, preferably since Sunday night. Guess I could have come here a while back…and switched to Linux…and championed the right thing. But mom died, and I’ve been working pretty hard. I’m light yrs behind all this stuff. Don’t even have downloading podcasts down yet (putting’em on something portable), but as I hear I can get a player for $9, it’ll happen [got an ipod but am hesitant to do "manual updates"]. This may seem funny but my laptop is a Dell Latitude with XP. I use my girlfriend’s spare which is faster. Funny, though, that Spotify runs just fine on that old Dell and rarely has to buffer. “Page is broken” happens about 90 times out of a hundred when I try to get anything Google on that thing. Good to see you’re out there.

  4. Richard Kline

    Bergoglio has also been deeply implicated as a death squad collaborator in Argentina. Just what a deeply discredited institution accountable to no one needs, right? . . .

    1. William C

      I see that some of the allegations made about Bergoglio have now been withdrawn (see underlying Guardian article). I always try to maintain a healthy scepticism about press articles.

    2. Zachary Smith

      My first impression is that the Cardinals were so desperate to get the Vatican mess cleaned up they imported an outsider to do the job, and simply ignored the baggage he might carry.

      If this Bergoglio fellow turns out to be implicated in the Dirty War, IMO that makes him worse than Ratzinger.

  5. brazza

    Grillo, the Italian maverick politician whose M5S political movement born online garnered the relative majority of votes at the recent election, has rightly drawn a lot of attention on this blog. I’m not sure where to drop this link which relates comments from US Ambassador to Italy Thorn, but they are worthy of note: http://www.beppegrillo.it/video_commenti.php

      1. ohmyheck

        And this, about Bergoglio…eek!
        “Despite this written evidence in a case he was personally involved with, Bergoglio testified in 2010 that he didn’t know about any stolen babies until well after the dictatorship was over.

        “Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies. He says he didn’t know anything about it until 1985,” said the baby’s aunt, Estela de la Cuadra, whose mother Alicia co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in 1977 in hopes of identifying these babies.”

  6. rjs

    on retail sales, see table 1; real, unadjusted sales fell to $381,015 million from $382,361 million in January…

    even so, with real disposable personal income down 4% as of january, anything close to flat sales is a surprise…

  7. from Mexico

    @ “Nine terrifying facts about America’s biggest police force”

    So what goes around, comes around.

    How naive Americans were to believe they would somehow be immune to the famed “boomerang effect,” and that they would not become the last “subject race.” As Henry Steele Commanger warned: “If we subvert and destroy world peace we must inevitably subvert and destroy our own political institutuions first.”

    According to Peter Dale Scott, it was Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzenzinski, who first unleashed US police terror on the world in such an unprecedented way. The police terror went hand-in-glove with Carter’s War on Labor, as Christian Parenti explains in Lockdown America:

    The quest for renewed profitability in the face of ongoing crises led down the path of brutal, short-term, upward redistribution of wealth. The post-liberal, post-welfare economic equation created more poverty and more opulence. Thus reproducing and governing the social order has required more repression, more segregation, and more criminal justice…

    What resulted was the explosive growth in the National Foreign Intelligence Program (which encompassed the budgets of national-level intelligence agencies such as CIA, NRO, NSA, DIA, etc.). Remarkably, total intelligence funding grew by 125 percent in real (constant dollar) terms from 1980 to 1989, as noted by the Aspin-Brown Commission on intelligence.

    http://www.fas.org/irp/budget/nfip65-94.gif

    And this tells only a small part of the story. The elements of the US government mentioned above, along with the DEA, NED, USAID and others, make up what Peter Dale Scott calls the “deep state,” which is closely allied with the finance industry (which launders its money) and the war industry. Because the deep state’s activities are often illegal and always secretive, it frequently cannot turn to the state’s democratic institutions for funding. It must therefore turn to illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, for financing. That US security agencies collude with the major drug cartels is an open secret here in Latin America. The illgotten money is then channeled to all sorts of nefarious characters, as well as a broad array of illegal and morally reprehensible activities.

      1. from Mexico

        And as is pointed out in this Exile Nation Project interview of Christian Parenti, the labor unions are one of the most powerful advocates of the criminal justice and prison industrial complex:

        http://vimeo.com/23346020

        All this goes to demonstrate that the world is a complex place, and reality cannot be made to fit simplistic little formulas such as labor good, capital bad.

      2. Klassy!

        Thanks for the short read that lays all the dirty laundry out.
        Even if you were to shave a couple of decades off of Harry, I would say he stands no chance.

      3. from Mexico

        @ Goin’ South

        The article you linked reminded me of something Scott Noble said: “The Cold War was not just a struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States; the real struggle was between American corporations and the Third World.”

        http://soldiersforthecause.org/2012/05/23/the-power-principle-an-interview-with-filmmaker-scott-noble/

        I know it’s impossible to separate ideology from real politic, because they are so inextricably intertwined. But sometimes I believe the ideological war is little more than a smokescreen under which to float imperial ambitions.

        1. Valissa

          sometimes I believe the ideological war is little more than a smokescreen under which to float imperial ambitions.

          Agreed, only I’d go further and say that both imperial and personal ambitions of all those directly and indirectly employed by the imperium are at the base of political events and trends. The so-called ideological warfare is a very convenient and entertaining (in the pro-wrestling sense) for some, traumatizing for others (those who actually believe in their political party catechisms), and all-in-all diversion for Americans who want to play ostrich or who don’t want to make the effort to see behind the curtain. And in some measure I believe the ideological wars impact culture and society, but mostly on the fringes.

          Not that long ago, historically speaking, citizens of empires were generally proud to be such. Not sure the feeling guilty (about being a citizen of an empire) and whining about it ceaselessly as so many intellectuals do today is an improvement.

    1. Pat

      A lot of what Peter Dale Scott has discovered has turned out to be remarkably prescient.
      It was PDS who uncovered that the TPTB, the “deep state”, came up with the idea of “terrorism” in the late 70′s as the great foe to replace the USSR after it would inevitably fall, as it did. And what do you know – international terrorism suddenly popped up in the 90′s as the great menace to Western civilization and the military-industrial complex gets more money than it ever has before.
      PDS also (correctly, IMO)identifies Zbigniew Brzenzinski as the evil mastermind behind American foreign policy over the past 30 years. (He is more dangerous than the neocons, because he advocates proceeding slowly on his agenda of world domination and always hides behind the happy-smiley face of Democracy). And what do you know – the US has followed his prescriptions like a cookbook and surrounded Russia and toppled most of the little unfriendlies (Iraq, Libya, Syria (pending)) while hiding behind the clean face of Democracy.

      1. barrisj

        Yes, and let us not forget the courageous Gary Webb, who wrote several articles for the San Jose Mercury in the ’80s exposing CIA involvement with the Contras and drug cartels, which ultimately resulted in a tsunami of crack cocaine into Southern California, all as a consequence of fooking Reagan’s “anti-communist crusade” to bring “democracy” and “capitalism” into Central America. Webb later died of “self-inflicted gun-shots”, actually government-assisted suicide, to put a name to it.

  8. rjs

    china’s kids are slipping:
    Report: Chinese Third-Graders Falling Behind U.S. High School Students in Math, Science  According to an alarming new report published Wednesday by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, third-graders in China are beginning to lag behind U.S. high school students in math and science.

    The study, based on exam scores from thousands of students in 63 participating countries, confirmed that in mathematical and scientific literacy, American students from the ages of 14 to 18 have now actually pulled slightly ahead of their 8-year-old Chinese counterparts.
    “This is certainly a wake-up call for China,” said Dr. Michael Fornasier, an IEA senior fellow and coauthor of the report. “The test results unfortunately indicate that education standards in China have slipped to the extent that pre-teens are struggling to rank among even the average American high school student.”

    1. skippy

      Physical activity’s outside are not what they used to be, before and after school, neurotoxicity anyone?

      Skippy… lots of data on this, look at any long term industrial, Mfg, Ag, or related area and expand outwards.

  9. Jim Haygood

    ‘In his 2012 address, [Pope Francis] said Argentina was being harmed by demagoguery, totalitarianism, corruption and efforts to secure unlimited power.’

    To slow 30% inflation of her own making, in 2009 Argentina’s president Kristina Kirchner came up with the bright idea of restricting beef exports to flood the domestic market with supply, driving down prices.

    Being an attorney by trade, Kristina never imagined that Argentina’s legendary frigerifico industry — the motor of the economy when the country was rich a century ago — would ‘go Galt’ on her by liquidating their herds and throttling back production. But of course, that’s exactly what they did, and are still doing.

    Yesterday I was gobsmacked to learn that thanks to Kristina’s depredations, Argentina’s neighbor Uruguay — with one-tenth the population and one-fifteenth the land area — now exports TWICE as much beef as Argentina. Here’s a table with the global rankings:

    http://www.mauldineconomics.com/images/uploads/newsletters/Beef_And_Veal.gif

    These days, the dirty little secret of Argentina’s tourist trade is that when you hit the steakhouses of Barrio Norte or Palermo Soho or Las Cañitas, you’re likely to be served a tough, stringy cut of meat that wouldn’t make it into the discount counter at your supermarket back home. Oh well, the papas fritas are still good!

    Despite their repeated ideological clashes, Kristina will attend El Papa’s investiture (probably flying commercial so that Paul Singer won’t seize her airplane, Tango One). She needs one last ‘feel good’ event for la gente before Argentina’s probable second debt default of the 21st century.

    Peronismo, comrades — can ye spare a hundred pesos for a shishkebab?

    1. from Mexico

      Give it up, Jim.

      Heck, even the ultra-conservative Council on Foreign Relations recognizes that US hegemony in Latin America is over:

      “Latin America is not Washington’s to lose; nor is it Washington’s to save,” finds a CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force. “U.S. policy can no longer be based on the assumption that the United States is the most important outside actor in Latin America. If there was an era of U.S. hegemony in Latin America, it is over,” the Task Force concludes.

      http://www.cfr.org/americas/era-us-hegemony-latin-america-over-says-cfr-task-force/p16245

      1. skippy

        He just wants his paper redeemed, yet, hes not going after the middleman.

        Skippy… Paper or blood for some… what happens if – he’s – the citizen on the hook for some paper – he – did not enter into of his free will… eh. Who’s got all your paper Jim, does China need janitors?

      2. Jim Haygood

        Who said anything about U.S. hegemony? We’re talking about what Argentines are doing to themselves.

        Don’t take it from me. Check out economist Bianca Fernet, who lives in BsAs, on the Peronist campaign to renationalize the railroads:

        They further blame privatization for Argentina’s lost ability to produce rails and trains domestically. The final successful outcome of this campaign consists of: employment, economic independence, political sovereignty, and social justice.

        Notice anything missing? Perhaps goals of increased transportation, benefits to commerce and trade, increased economic output? Even if you consider transportation as a public good, the goal of a railroad is not economic independence, social justice, or even employment.

        http://notparis.com/2013/01/14/argentinas-railroads-atlas-shrugged-vs-twilight/comment-page-1/#comment-318

        Is this any way to run a railroad?

        1. Klassy!

          They further blame privatization for Argentina’s lost ability to produce rails and trains domestically. The final successful outcome of this campaign consists of: employment, economic independence, political sovereignty, and social justice.

          Notice anything missing? Perhaps goals of increased transportation, benefits to commerce and trade, increased economic output? Even if you consider transportation as a public good, the goal of a railroad is not economic independence, social justice, or even employment.

          It’s almost as if you are saying that humans are here to serve an economy, not the other way around. But I’m sure you wouldn’t say that.

          1. Ms G

            @Klassy — like a laser; straight to the heart of the matter. Well said. “People are there to serve the economy” could be one of the “TM” slogans of Third Way and Fix the Debt.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I like railroads.

          Train riding, along with organic grocery shopping, are two stress-reducing activities for me.

  10. Ms G

    Re. Casey Mulligan advocating a *decrease* of minimum wage. Disturbingly, this piece was published within 24 hours of the story (from Truthout), that ALEC is aggressively lobbying in states across the country to push state laws *suppressing* (i.e., abolishing) the minimum wage.

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/15105-corporate-approved-state-bills-kick-low-wage-workers-while-theyre-down

    And now this: a group of Job Creators wants to create a *floating* Silicone Valley off the Coast of California in order to *bypass* H1B visa restrictions.

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/15105-corporate-approved-state-bills-kick-low-wage-workers-while-theyre-down
    http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/int-waters-eyed-tech-workers-avoid-visa-laws-article-1.1287863

    So in parallel with the state proposals to use Obamacare as a vehicle to privatize Medicaid (stripping the public safety net to enrich private insurers), we have this concerted effort to deal a death blow to American wages and jack up the wage-arbitrage rents with the floating casino model.

    It is disturbing how advanced these “programs” are at this point.

    1. Ms G

      In parallel, also, with the advanced privatization of the internet (e.g. the demise of Google Reader per D.D.’s link above) — a clear case of an immense resource that We created and that private looters are converting to their use as instruments of (1) rent extraction and (2) control.

    2. Ms G

      [I linked twice to the same Truthout piece about ALEC's anti-minimum wage campaign. Apologies.]

  11. taunger

    From Pravda wage propaganda:

    Correction: March 13, 2013

    An earlier version of this post misstated the current federal minimum wage. It is $7.25 an hour, not $7.55.

    What hacks. They can’t get basic figures right – and of course the assumption favors their tactical argument: “It’s too high! The wage is too high!”

  12. Garrett Pace

    Re: Sperling

    15k financial fraud defendants? And how many big names among them?

    I LOVE how he brags about them coming down like a ton of bricks on so many petty deadbeats.

    Redditors were not sympathetic to Mr. Sperling’s arguments.

    1. Klassy!

      And how many were defendants accused of defrauding lenders? That seems to be all the cases I see in my neck of the woods.

  13. wunsacon

    >> Hidden Costs of the Minimum Wage

    What a waste of time. We must tax wealth at exponential rates. Anything else is just nibbling around the edges of the problem.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      +1000

      Raising min. wage – nibbling

      Jobs Gurantee – nibbling

      Basic income guarantee – nibbling

      Government stimulus – nibbling

      cement placing infrastructure projects – nibbling (actually warring on nature)

      GDP sharing – yes!

      Wealth tax – yes!

  14. wunsacon

    >> Powering Down Google Reader Google Blog. This is literally how I use the Internet.

    Me, too. (Well, often enough.)

    But, it’s probably a good thing. Get off of sites that can track everything you think and do.

    I’d like some kind of peer-to-peer system that combines encryption, blogging (news), social networking (also news), and a mesh network comprising the wifi hotspots in all our homes. (Should be “text-and-charts-only” at first, to save bandwidth.) Basically, NakedCap authors (in NYC?) should be able to hit “publish”, their computer encrypts it, their wifi hotspot sends it to their neighbor’s wifi hotspot (and so on, and so on) until people reach it in California, unencrypt it, and read it. Private communities.

  15. please

    Before I make the following comment, I want to strongly stress that given the present reality I do support stronger and far more powerful regulation and review into sexual assault in the military. Under no circumstances is the current status quo acceptable.

    Now having said that please listen to Sen. Boxer discuss sexual assault in the military:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QtqYJ06RcfA#!

    She correctly points out that sexual assault is a ‘heinous,vicious, violent crime’ and those who commit such a crime are very likely to commit murder.

    I don’t know if the irony that a legally sanctioned institution that regularly engages in murder will reproduce participants that will go on to engage in further deplorable behavior escapes her or her audience.

    No amount of chains and regulation around such a beast will ever produce behavior that we will not find reprehensible.

    It is impossible and I dont know ‘what it is going to take’ to convince people around the world that the furtherance of such institutions are a ‘vicious, violent crime’. There is no legacy to be found in passing law that further institutionalizes violence that ignores the root cause of it.

    1. Expat

      There is an alternative analysis of the military, which I find more persuasive than the criminal actors you propose. It rests on the recognition that an effective military organization is one of the most cooperative in the world; in fact, it exemplifies the essence of cooperation in that a in a well-run military operation people are willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of others. In this context, the military must model fairness, justice and care for each “component” (“person” would be going too far in such a conservative institution).

      The fact that the US military is unwilling to punish the vicious behaviour of some of its members toward others tells me that the US military is broken and couldn’t be of much use were there a reason to “defend” the US “homeland.” The sexual abuse cases in the military (like the Catholic Church and the Canadian aboriginal schools scandals) are classic abuse of power situations, failure to protect the vulnerable and failure to hold appropriate individuals accountable.

      As further evidence that the US military is broken, I offer legendary journalist Roger Witherspoon’s amazing stories on the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier that spent some 80 days in the cloud of radiation spewing from the Fukishima meltdowns. Because of the Japanese government’s lies, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s incompetence, and the Navy’s failure to protect its own people, some 70,000 US servicemen & women and their dependents face a lifetime of terrible preventable illnesses and premature mortality.
      http://www.rogerwitherspoon.com/all.html

      Really, it’s not surprising that the US military is a failed institution. Our legacy to our children is not only a world in which all the major natural support systems are in collapse but all the institutions that we’ve developed over the past 8,000 of civilization to manage these concerns have been destroyed as well.

      The only consolation is that the next generation won’t be able to leave us on ice floes when we can no longer take care of ourselves because there won’t be any left.

      1. Lambert Strether

        I agree. If they haven’t exactly lost two wars, they certainly haven’t won them; obvious tell: No victory parades.

        The bright side — forgetting for a moment about the deaths and the suffering — is that a broken military might be less likely to be used domestically with success; hence drones, beefing up police departments, and so forth.

  16. rich

    who buys this crap?

    Squeezing Out Cash Long After the I.P.O.

    When the Berry Plastics Group, a container and packaging company, went public last October, it generated up to $350 million in tax savings. But the company won’t collect the bulk of the benefits. Rather, Berry Plastics will hand over 85 percent of the savings, in cash, to its former private equity owners.

    The obscure tax strategy is the latest technique that private equity firms are using to extract money from their companies, in this case long after the initial public offering.

    Now, buyout specialists are increasingly collecting continuing payouts from their former portfolio companies. The strategy, known as an income tax receivable agreement, has been quietly employed in dozens of recent offerings backed by private equity, including those involving PBF Energy, Vantiv and Dynavox.

    While relatively rare, the strategy, referred to as a supercharged I.P.O., has proved to be controversial. To some tax experts, the technique amounts to financial engineering, depriving the companies of cash. Berry Plastics, for example, has to make payments to its one-time private equity owners, Apollo Global Management and Graham Partners, through 2016

    “The investment banks are spending a lot of time on models for these deals,” said Eric Sloan, a principal in merger-and-acquisition services at the accounting firm Deloitte. “We are going to see more of these deals,” he said, adding that “it brings new value to the table.” BS

    But some tax experts take issue with the strategy.

    “They involve millions, often billions, of dollars in cash transfers from newly public companies to a small group of pre-I.P.O. owners,” Victor Fleischer, a tax professor at the University of Colorado, and Nancy Staudt, a public policy professor at the University of Southern California, wrote in a 2013 study. (Mr. Fleischer is a contributor to DealBook.) The study said the primary reason for the deals was tax arbitrage.

    Another potential issue is that sophisticated investors do not necessarily understand the deals, either. The agreements typically warrant just a few paragraphs in a company’s I.P.O. filings.

    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/private-equity-squeezes-out-cash-long-after-its-exit/

  17. jpmist

    I’d like to add a link.

    Banks Block Shareholder Proposals on Breaking Up

    http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2013/03/13/banks-block-shareholder-proposals-on-breaking-up/?KEYWORDS=%22securities+and+exchange+commission%22

    “Securities regulators [the SEC] sided with four of the nation’s largest banks in their efforts to fend off shareholder proposals to require J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley to consider splitting into smaller companies.”

    Captured!

  18. Hugh

    Casey Mulligan should show us how its done and work for below minimum wage.

    Along the same lines with Gene Sperling, I say this a lot, but these are not well intentioned people acting in good faith who just happened to get their facts wrong or made bad policy decisions. They are propagandists prosecuting a class war, a class war that kills tens of thousands each year through lack of access to healthcare, ruins the lives of tens of millions through the loss of jobs, health, and homes, and steals from all for the benefit of a few. Sperling and Mulligan are the personification of our elites and their banality of evil

    1. Klassy!

      When measured to include taxes and government benefits, poverty did not rise between 2007 and 2011, and that shows why government policy is seriously off track.

      Pretty evil indeed. As a propagandist, I would say that Mulligan goes more for the “repeat a lie often enough…” method rather than coopting his natural enemies.
      And why not? The NYT has provided him a nice little mouthpiece to print his lies over and over again.

  19. skippy

    The data was presented at the Moriond Conference in La Thuile, Italy – a gathering where physicists have been poring over several aspects of their historic find.

    In theory, a Higgs boson should have zero “spin,” a measure of momentum.

    And “parity” – a measure of how its mirror image behaves in quantum physics – should be positive.

    Having analysed mountains of data, scientists at the CMS and ATLAS experiments said they had scrutinised different options for the new particle.

    “These all prefer no spin and positive parity,” CERN said a statement from Geneva.

    “This, coupled with the measured interactions of the new particle with other particles, strongly indicates that it is a Higgs boson,” it said.

    However, further analysis is necessary to confirm that this is the Higgs boson postulated in the Standard Model of particle physics, or whether it is some other type.

    Finding the Higgs would fill a massive gap in the Standard Model, which describes the forces, particles and interactions that comprise the Universe.

    In theory, the Higgs exists as an invisible field, interacting with other particles to provide them mass.

    Without it, humans and all other joined-up atoms in the Universe would not exist. – snip

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-15/new-data-27strongly-indicates27-particle-is-higgs-boson/4574258

    Skippy… Yippy!!! See you in 2015 for the next round…

  20. Klassy!

    I watched Dave Dayen’s (too brief) segment yesterday on MSNBC. It appeared that the talking head perhaps wanted him to delve into the crisis of governance in Detroit. I commend him for not taking the bait. It is not as if every single city in the US doesn’t have its own pay to play scandals. Some are just further removed from the stink. Thanks for sticking with the story of the banks.
    As I read in your article and a NC commenter pointed out, the property tax situation is out of whack there.
    Detroit was once a city with some serious wealth, and there are some leafy neighborhoods filled with some magnificent old houses. It would be nice if for once when they flash pictures of Detroit neighborhoods that have been affected by the collapse of the housing bubble they would show these neighborhoods too.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Hudson is quoted below about how a financial problem can turn into a structural social problem.

      It would be interesting to connect the different issues.

  21. lambert strether

    The Vanity Fair article buries the lead. Here it is:

    London real-estate agents confirm that these commodity plutocrats dethroned the financiers some time before the financial crisis hit. “I can’t remember the last time I sold a property to a banker,” says Stephen Lindsay, of the real-estate agency Savills. “It’s been hard for anyone to compete with the Russians, the Kazakhs. They are all in oil, gas—that is what they do. Construction—all that kind of stuff.”

    Even the Arab money has taken a backseat to the new buyers, says Hersham. “The wealth of the ex-Soviets is incredible,” he says. “Unless you are talking about [Goldman Sachs C.E.O. Lloyd] Blankfein or [Stephen Schwarzman], the head of Blackstone, or the head of one of the very big banks, there is no driver from the City of London at these levels anymore.”

    A changing of the guard in the 0.01%.

    1. Ms G

      Thanks for putting the lead back in front. Interesting, though, that VF did refer to the NYT report that Michael Bloomberg (who *hearts* London) is building in London a “Bloomberg Place” — that is, a square, with a resiential townhouse, a building for his Philanthropy and research, as well as other amentities. (He was probably inspired to get his own “Place” after owning a townhouse on “Cadogan Place” for many years.”)

      It is funny to think of the soon to be former Mayor of New York as being in the same pod as Russian oligarchs, et al.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/nyregion/bloomberg-builds-an-empire-in-london.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  22. sd

    Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study By Daniel Trotta, Reuters

    The U.S. war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to war veterans, expenses that could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades counting interest, a study released on Thursday said.

    snip

    [Steven] Bucci said the toppling of Saddam and the results of an unforeseen conflict between U.S.-led forces and al Qaeda militants drawn to Iraq were positive outcomes of the war.

    “It was really in Iraq that ‘al Qaeda central’ died,” Bucci said. “They got waxed.”

    Meanwhile, earlier today, one of Bucci’s ‘positive outcomes’….

    Blasts, clashes kill at least 25 in central Baghdad

  23. financial matters

    Another good article at New Economic Perspectives..

    http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/03/the-i-o-u-in-the-u-s-dollar.html

    The I.O.U. in the U.S. Dollar
    March 13, 2013
    By J.D. Alt

    “”What happens on “tax-day”, then, is the citizens present the sovereign government with the paper I.O.U.s they have earned providing goods and services to the government (and/or to each other), and their taxes are extinguished. Again, the mental “trick” here is to realize that the transaction that takes place on “tax-day” is not actually the PAYMENT of taxes but, instead, is the citizens declaring they have ALREADY paid their taxes (the real goods and services they provided earlier)—and the paper I.O.U.s are the PROOF of that payment.”"

    “”By logic, then, what does the government do with those I.O.U.s presented as proof of taxes paid? They are simply destroyed because owning a piece of paper that says you owe YOURSELF one dollar of tax credit is meaningless. The I.O.U. is only of value to the citizen who is required by law to pay taxes, and once it is used for that purpose, it is extinguished.”"

    “”The national “debt crisis” which our enlightened politicians and economic pundits flail us with on a daily basis—demanding our obeisance to their schemes of imposed austerity—cannot, therefore, really EXIST.”

    “”The implications of this for a TRUE national prosperity are enormous.”"

      1. financial matters

        Rentiers may best be viewed as outside the productive economy for which a currency is derived and draws its value. In fact it is probably best to view them as predators on the productive economy. Here it seems more of a tax favoritism problem where interest and capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages and profits which tends to draw money into debt instruments. Also lots of real estate favoritisms such as depreciating rental property while it actually increases in value.

        Here increased taxes may be viewed as transfer payments to states and counties (non-sovereigns) and as a reversal to tax favoritism toward the productive sector.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      “Private debt” – esp. student loan debt – is a feature, not a bug, for the master plan of the Destroyers of Worlds: the RUIN of Western Civilization by all means possible, from wars on demand, to atomic/hydrogen bombs, to financial alchemy, to Global Dynastic Dictatorship by the bearers of “light” in their image.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Someone might say, government debt, its very existence, is a problem, even if it’s only for $1…because it doesn’t need to borrow at all.

    3. Mark P.

      Another comprehensive, shockingly lucid piece of analysis by Hudson.

      With a simple conclusion:

      “…Instead of writing down debts of the 99% to keep their financial heads above water, the government is trying to save the banks and the 1% – at public expense. Why do they call for governments to balance the budget by pushing the economy at large deeper into debt, while trying to save the banks from taking a loss?

      “The ultimate question to be posed is thus whether the economy really needs Wall Street and the banks to be made whole on credit that has been created largely to inflate asset prices (the Bubble Economy) and to gamble on derivatives and computer programs (Casino Capitalism), without really interfacing with the industrial sector and employment – except to provide takeover credit for leveraged buyouts that load down companies further with debt?

      “Placed in this context, the financial problem thus turns into a structural social problem.”

      1. skippy

        Private debt is commingled with public debt… eh.

        Government Securities and Investments for Sale

        Buy guaranteed securities, loan assets, savings bonds and more.

        Securities and Loans

        Debt and Asset Backed Securities from Sallie Mae

        Debt Securities from Freddie Mac

        Loan Sales from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

        Mortgage Backed Securities from Ginnie Mae

        Mortgage Products for Lenders and Servicers from Fannie Mae

        Mortgage Securities from Freddie Mac

        http://www.usa.gov/shopping/investments/investments.shtml

        Skip here… This is just a small sample of inter-connectivity. Governments at all levels – internationally, Sovereign wealth funds, you name it, are up to their eye balls in securititzation of debt… cough future earnings.

        Now throw in the the volatile mix of – CDS-CDO sq./cubed/~ thingy – tightly coupled risk Arb in[greed]ient, like iridium in the financial K-Pg boundary layer… well… we know how that event ended.

        Skippy… the primary dealers and DC are attached at the hip and head, its a symbiotic relationship, injury to one is an injury to the other thingo.

        PS. Musical rendition for crazzyman… Friends are Magic!

        My Little Pony – Harder Better Faster Stronger (Daft Punk) HD

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6quOZcajADY

    4. Ms G

      How do we organize an office in Washington D.C. as a launch pad for daily visits to Congresspersons with Michael Hudson and rotating large groups of 99%-ers.

      Mr. Hudson’s shockingly articulate and clear summing up of how things stand in this deteriorated American democracy of ours — from the perspective of the 99% — needs to travel beyond an Atlantic conference.

      Does anybody here agree?

  24. Doug Terpstra

    What a pampered pooch. Is that silk blankie or just plain satin? Somebody please call the ASPCA.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Shadowy people on Hyde Park…super wealthy…hiding money.

    There needs to be a program to encourage these super wealthy residents to spend out in the open, instead of hiding their money in their backyards.

    Maybe an incentive to get them to spend that money on buying politicians, sorry, most humble apologies, contributing to political campaigns.

    That way, we can generate more jobs (my fingers are getting tired from typing this for the millionth time).

    1. Valissa

      Yeah, today’s euro-elite are so much more civilized and culturally polished in their totalitarian ways. These modern artistocrats and their glamour of noblesse oblige… is slowly dissolving away to reveal the power hungry core.

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