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Link 11/18/13

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Once in a lifetime galactic fireworks display due from Comet Ison Telegraph

Sinkhole the size of 20 football pitches opens up in Louisiana … and it could burst into flames Daily Mail (Lambert)

Deadly tornadoes hit US Midwest BBC

Risk Calculator for Cholesterol Appears Flawed New York Times

Critics say U.S. is going too far to protect drug companies in trade talks McClatchy

Two child policy won’t fix China’s demographics MacroBusiness

Fukushima begins risky fuel rod removal BBC

Japan’s Banks Find It Hard to Lend Easy Money Wall Street Journal

November 17, 2013: 40 years from the student uprising against junta in Greece failed evolution (no more banksters)

France Tax Revenues €5.5 Billion Lower than Expected; Poll Shows 92% Do Not Believe Hollande’s Tax Promises Michael Shedlock

Swiss outrage over executive pay sparks a movement in Europe Reuters (Lambert)

Brutal Report Exposes The One Big Flaw With The UK Economic Recovery Business Insider

Premature evaluation: when local relationship banking attacks! A Fistful of Euros

Why Europe needs to try unconventional policy Wolfgang Muchchau, Financial Times. Lordie.

Qatar workers ‘treated like animals’ BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Indonesia in Australia spy row Guardian

New Snowden revelation : GCHQ monitoring diplomats in 350 hotels (Deontos). LiveLeak So this is how they knew how to get Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The Contractor Spies: Hackers for hire and a shadow army Suddendeutsche Zeitzung. This is a big scandal in Germany.

Obamacare Launch:

Democrats rally on healthcare Guardian

How we got Obamacare to work Washington Post

Obama prescribes ugly fix for Obamacare: Our view USA Today

High-Risk Patients Fuel More Health-Law Worry Wall Street Journal

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Democrat DC mayor fires DC health commissioner for questioning Obama’s cancellations fix Lambert

Sen. Bernie Sanders discusses his possible run for president Burlington Free Press. The site puts you through a lot of clicks to get the the video.

Military Eyes Cut to Pay, Benefits Wall Street Journal

Boeing Machinists: How dare thee? and ‘Squeeze play’ on Machinists is reality elites failed to feel Seattle Times (John L)

U.S. Agencies to say Bitcoins Offer Legitimate Benefits Bloomberg. I am being proven wrong on this, or maybe not. I’ve viewed Bitcoin as prosecution futures, as in the authorities would see it as a way to launder money and evade taxes (an acquaintance involved in that effort could get Trichet on the phone). The US has had a substantial and powerful “terrorist funding” effort, as in extensive efforts devoted at the highest levels to investigate terrorist money networks (I don’t kid myself that this effort no doubt has catching ordinary tax cheats as a fully-anticipated side benefit). So I had assumed they would want to stomp out Bitcoins.

But they can still be prosecution futures. The authorities may indeed view Bitcoin as the perfect medium for tax cheats and money launderers. What better way to catch them than allow Bitcoin to flourish and monitor it aggressively?

Pressure Builds to Finish Volcker Rule on Wall St. Oversight New York Times

Why No Bankers Go to Jail Bloomberg

We should be humbly thanking the super-rich, not bashing them Telegraph. This is not a parody.

The New World Order – Part 1. The Betrayal of the Nation Golem XIV

The Obama presidency is not over, but it is failing Ed Luce, Financial Times. This is devastating, particularly since Luce is a quasi insider (he was Larry Summer’s speechwriter). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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And a bonus (it’s a video, so e-mail readers need to visit the site):

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53 comments

  1. dearieme

    What a shock: the “risk calculator” was wrong in the direction that suits those who revel in power over the rest of us.

    1. davidgmills

      What the cardiologists never tell you is that the bad cholesterol — ldl — is the cholesterol from which the major hormone progesterone is made, and progesterone is the precursor hormone for three other major hormones: cortisol/hydrocortisone, testosterone and estrogen. So four of the six major hormones, the other two being thyroid and insulin, are made from that bad cholesterol that cardiologists love to demonize. The leading authority on progesterone, Dr. Ray Peat, says that it is true that reducing ldl will lessen your chance of dying from heart disease, but, it will increase your chances of dying of something else — sooner.

  2. rich

    D.C. awash in contracts, lobbying wealth

    WASHINGTON • So much money to be had if you know where to look.

    The avalanche of cash that made Washington rich in the last decade has transformed the culture of a once staid capital and created a new wave of well-heeled insiders.

    The winners in the new Washington are not just the former senators, party consiglieri and four-star generals who have always profited from their connections. Now they are also the former bureaucrats, accountants and staff officers for whom unimagined riches are suddenly possible. They are the entrepreneurs attracted to the capital by its aura of prosperity and its super-educated workforce. They are the lawyers, lobbyists and executives who work for companies that barely had a presence in Washington before the boom.

    During the past decade, the region added 21,000 households in the nation’s top 1 percent. No other metro area came close.

    Two forces triggered the boom.

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/govt-and-politics/d-c-awash-in-contracts-lobbying-wealth/article_53336d9b-a75f-5a1a-bb19-d46d3186a960.html

  3. Mary Clinton

    Help. The “Must read” article is behind a paywall at Financial Times! Could you summarize it or something?

  4. Uncle Bruno

    The Obama administration has been a tremendous success in accomplishing the goals it set out to do: (1) make the rich richer, and (2) further erode the social contract.

    In true only Nixon can go to China fashion, Obama did what no Republican could. He turned public opinion against universal health care.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/158966/majority-against-gov-healthcare-guarantee.aspx

    Cuts to Social Security and Medicare are next, both untouchable for decades but Obama will get the cuts through. Very effective indeed. And impressive, albeit evil.

    1. Eureka Springs

      I think the framing of the question leads to /pushes for a response which favors an anti-government framing.

      Look at the question – “is the responsibility” rather than something like *should be the responsibility* could lead to significantly different poll results, imo.

      1. rich

        Distinguished Jurist Lecture:
        Hon. Jed S. Rakoff,

        “The Paucity of Criminal Prosecutions Arising from the Financial Crisis: Unaccountable?” Time: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

        November 19, 2013

        Location: Silverman 245A, Bernard Segal Moot Court Room

        Reception to follow. Open to the public.

        Many people believe the financial crisis from which we are still suffering was the product, not just of mistakes and wrong guesses, but fraudulent practices and misrepresentations.

        Yet few if any high-level executives associated with these alleged misdeeds have been criminally prosecuted.

        Bringing to bear his combined experience as a former federal prosecutor, former white collar criminal defense lawyer, and (for the past 18 years) experienced federal jurist, Judge Rakoff suggests that the paucity of such prosecutions may be tied, not just to the facts of any given case, but to disturbing trends in federal regulatory and prosecution policies over the past decade and more.

        http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2013/11/the-paucity-of-criminal-prosecutions-arising-from-the-financial-crisis-unaccountable/

        1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

          Here’s a fine quote, via Digby:

          As a prominent Wall Street banker said in 2009:

          “For Washington to not demand anything when it saved us, even stuff we know is good for our long term good was one of the stupidest moves in modern times. … I feel like I should go over and hug Tim (Geithner). It’s a shame we can’t pay him, ’cause that’s a guy who really earned a big time bonus.”
          ~

  5. Jim Haygood

    From the WaPo editorial by three Democratic governors:

    Health reform is working for the people of Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut because elected leaders on both sides of the aisle came together to do what is right for their residents.

    Evidence? Three individual anecdotes. That’s it: no enrollment figures (though there’s an admission of ‘glitches in our state websites’); no demographic breakdown; no analysis of budget impact.

    This is the content-free level to which contemporary Depublicrat politics has descended: airball assertions, backed by nothing but chest pounding, crotch grabbing and high-fiving ‘celebration’ of wholly imaginary achievements.

    1. afisher

      Oh my, attacking rhetorical comment with rhetoric! Data is available, but you have to ask really nice if you expect me to share!

    2. JustAnObserver

      These are all state-level exchanges so the question does arise whether the states really have done better in their web design & backend handling than the feds ?

      If so (& its not a given since a lot of this is spin) then the question is why ? Are their sub-contractors marginally less corrupt and/or marginally more competent? Do they even use subbies ?

      One other possibility: The states used all the time they had since the signing of the ACA whereas the federal exchange was a last minute botch/kludge when they realised just how many states were refusing to set up their own.

    3. kareninca

      My parents (CT residents since birth) tell me that since Obamacare was passed Malloy has been relentlessly slashing payments to CT hospitals, that is, payments to health safety net programs for the poor. In anticipation of Obamacare covering the slack, but way in advance, and with no sign of coordinating the two in order to avoid bad outcomes. The hospitals are going berserk; they have no idea where their funding is going to come from, and when, and how much it will be.

      I googled “Malloy slashes funding to CT hospitals” and found so many articles that I couldn’t choose. Malloy’s administration is incredibly corrupt and stupid; CT had a very good system for helping poor people; what he is doing is a disaster.

  6. ohmyheck

    FYI- #AskJPM is still going strong. KC is on a tear. Then there was this:
    “Was also funny that when #AskJPM happened (over 80,000 tweets) it hardly trended. Here I do NOT trust #Twitter.”

    I find that VERY interesting…

    1. hunkerdown

      “Trending items” is an example of performative speech. They’re always secretly rigged by the curator to keep them from being more publicly rigged by users; therefore they are necessarily expressions of the curator’s (or the algorithm designer’s) judgment and desires.

      In other words, it’s just a promotional effort, much like any other.

  7. optimader

    I think a fair question to ask is how many other nuke plants world wide are storing bent/leaking/damaged fuel-rods they would prefer to just ignore rather than responsibly steward? A question that will never be answered, because, heck Tepco has developed a “Foolproof” removal plan that they can share!

    Japan Times, Nov. 14, 2013: Earlier this week, Tepco found three damaged assemblies that will be difficult to remove, but officials said the damage appeared to have occurred before the March 11 disasters.

    Reuters, Nov. 14, 2013: One of the assemblies was damaged as far back as 1982, when it was mishandled during a transfer, and is bent out of shape, Tepco said in a brief note at the bottom of an 11-page information sheet in August. In a statement from April 2010, Tepco said it found two other spent fuel racks in the reactor’s cooling pool had what appeared to be wire trapped in them. Rods in those assemblies have pin-hole cracks and are leaking low-level radioactive gases, Tepco spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai told Reuters on Thursday. [...] Having to deal with the damaged assemblies is likely to make [removing the other fuel] more difficult [...]

    Tepco spokeswoman Mayumi Yoshida: “The three fuel assemblies … cannot be transported by cask [...] We are currently reviewing how to transport these fuel assemblies to the common spent fuel pool,” she said.

    Yomiuri Shimbun translated by EXSKF, Nov. 12, 2013: On November 12, TEPCO disclosed that there were three fuel assemblies [...] in the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 [...] that were deformed and would be difficult to remove.

    Fukushima Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool on Nov. 7, 2013 (Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)
    Fukushima Minyu translated by EXSKF, Nov. 13, 2013: According to TEPCO, one of the damaged fuel assemblies is bent at a 90-degree angle [literal meaning: bent in the shape of a Japanese character "く"; actual angle could be less]. It was bent 25 years ago when a mistake occurred in handling the fuel. The other two were found to be damaged 10 years ago; there are small holes on the outside from foreign objects.

    Reuters, Nov. 13, 2013: [TEPCO] will as early as this week begin removing 400 tonnes of highly irradiated spent fuel in a hugely delicate and unprecedented operation fraught with risk. Carefully plucking more than 1,500 brittle and potentially damaged fuel assemblies from the plant’s unstable Reactor No. 4 is expected to take about a year [...] If the rods – there are 50-70 in each of the assemblies, which weigh around 300 kg (660 pounds) and are 4.5 metres (15 feet) long – are exposed to air or if they break, huge amounts of radioactive gases could be released into the atmosphere. [...]

    1. Expat

      Aren’t we lucky that we live in an economic system that depends entirely on short-term profit and just-in-time planning! Gather ye rosebuds….

      1. psychohistorian

        The human idiocy of committing untold hundreds of generations to manage the toxic effluent of this energy generation process is lost on many, unfortunately.

        And then there are the possible catastrophic consequences with bean counter (greed) approaches to engineering.

        It certainly looks to me like the global plutocrats aren’t the Gods they think they are or they hate their children as well as the rest of us and themselves…….time will tell. Personally, I would rather hold my breath for better purposes……..

        1. Antifa

          Two reliable methods exist to burn up all the nuclear waste spread around our planet.

          The Gold Plan (called that because anything launched into space costs its weight in gold) is to launch all the nuclear waste atop rockets, right into the sun. Or Venus, or Mercury. Who cares?

          Barring accidents, that is.

          The Thorium Plan is safer and more energy efficient. Build liquid salt or fluoride thorium reactors, feed the nuclear waste into them, and they will eat it all up, even plutonium, and give us back electricity.

          The only risk is moving the waste to the nearest thorium reactor, so it is generally considered safest to build thorium reactors where the waste is already stored.

          It could all be gone in a generation or so by the thorium method.

  8. diptherio

    Re Mayor of London Publicly Fellates His Pay-Masters in the Telegraph:

    Johnson repeats the same old elite-apologist clichés, which should be bronzed and set upon pedestals in our museums as classic examples of faulty reasoning.

    First, he refers to the highest-income individuals as “top one percent of earners,” which implies that they are actually earning their income, i.e. that their out-sized salaries are returns to value creation, not extraction of economic rents.

    There is a classical distinction in economics between earned and unearned income; my contention is that the top one-percent are realizing mostly unearned income, due to their stranglehold on corporate revenues and ability to keep wages from rising in concert with productivity. Johnson pretends the distinction between earned and unearned income doesn’t exist and breezily assumes that the top economic tier are necessarily earning their incomes. They aren’t.

    Next, Boris engages in a little circularity by pointing out that the rich pay a lot of the tax bill and that they give large amounts to charities. The fact that, “[t]he top one per cent of earners now pay 29.8 per cent of all the income tax and National Insurance received by the Treasury,” only goes to show to what extent the lower economic levels have been immiserated. If current trends continue, we may reach a point where the top one percent pay 100% of the taxes, because everyone else is being forced to work for poverty wages. The reason the super-rich are paying such a high percentage of the tax bill, in other words, is because they are surreptitiously stealing so much income from so many other people.

    And the same goes for charitable giving. The rich give large amounts to charity because they are able to. They are able to give large amounts to charity because they are receiving so much unearned income at the expense of everyone else. The poor give relatively small amounts to charity because that is all they can afford, seeing as how most of the value they create is being expropriated by the super-rich.

    An ambitious mob boss might succeed in extracting all of the excess wealth out of his community, forcing all the citizens to hand over every possible cent in protection money, leaving everyone but the boss with barely enough to live on. If then, people were to go to the mob boss and ask him for a little money to help buy a communion dress for their daughter or donate money for a community center, and the boss complied, would it be right to call him a righteous man? Would it be appropriate to humbly thank this man?

    Johnson’s answer is yes. According to Boris, we should offer our thanks to those who have looted our country for their own benefit, and praise them when they deign to throw us back a scrap of our own stolen wages.

    1. Antifa

      Most of the problem is that everyone in our society would also enjoy being a rentier, and receiving money from savings and investments. So we are all willing to let the 1% do their thing, on the off chance that we might somehow join their ranks, too, someday.

      Is the answer to outlaw usury and interest? Make investment a charity activity?

      No.

      The answer is to put a cap on personal wealth. Total assets of $10 million, even $100 million would be more than enough to last a human being a lifetime. Leave the rest in the hands of the workers and producers.

      Put a cap on corporate wealth also by requiring excess capital be taxed, given back in wages, or invested in growth. Use it or lose it.

      But above all, get every dollar and perk and benefit out of politics except a monthly paycheck. Public financing of every election is the only honest democracy possible.

  9. Eureka Springs

    “The Obama presidency is not over, but it is failing”

    Headlines / framing like this is so very tiresome and myopic. What we have here, once again, is systemic fail. At the very least we have utter and complete failure of/by the Democratic party. They should all go down with the ship… The way of the Whigs!

    Obama, the entire Dem clan must be ridiculed into oblivion!

  10. Massinissa

    “Military eyes cuts to pay, benefits”

    But theres always more than enough money for new ships, planes, and bombs. Just not enough to pay the soldiers decently.

    You know, its not like they have not already had problems finding people wanting to enlist… Reducing benefits probably isn’t going to help that any…

    Well, soon the military wont need actual troops except for special forces personnel and drone pilots anyway.

    If Special Forces become the main part of the military, will they still be called Special Forces?

    1. ambrit

      Deaer Massinissa;
      Not being able to pay the Praetorians on time lead to many ‘unfortunate incidents’ in the history of the Roman Empire. I for one sometimes wonder what this society is going to do when a large cadre of people who have been trained to kill and taught to view themselves as special and valued members of the elite sub culture of America begin to find out that they have been stabbed in the back. They’ll probably stab right back is my guess.

  11. Expat

    For a critique of the Obama business state’s vision and the nasty little box the neoliberals have put the US into, check out Ian Masters’s interview with Clyde Prestowitz (author, inter alia, “Trading Places: Asia after the Miracle”).
    http://ianmasters.com/sites/default/files/mp3/2013mp3/bbriefing_2013_11_17b_clyde%20prestowitz.mp3

    Empire American style, as is obvious, means sacrificing the 99% for the sake of a few billionaires. What Prestowitz adds is the international component, the weakness under the bullying. “[The TPP] deal is not really about trade. Rather, it is about assuring Asian friends that America is still committed to them.”

    Prestowitz also talks about the European deal, which is in so much trouble because of the NSA .

    Interestingly, he believes the defeat of Fast Track will inevitably mean the defeat of the TPP, if the partner countries don’t defeat it first.

    Capitalism is still all about putting down the competition, but with the neoliberal perversion of the state, capitalism is indistinguishable from all those petty rivalries between princes that ended up impoverishing and slaughtering so many of our ancestors.

    1. Expat

      As I re-read this comment, I must clarify that Prestowitz is skeptical that the TPP’s purpose is to placate other nations. Rather, he shares the view, so brilliantly expressed by Yves, that the TPP is a tool of the US as the hegemonic enforcer of corporate global monopolization.

  12. rich

    Why Does the Media Ignore Timothy Geithner’s Disastrous Leadership of the NY Fed?

    By William K. Black

    Remember nine months ago when Timothy Geithner assured us that it was “extremely unlikely” he would take a position on Wall Street?

    The IMF and the NY Fed are far more private than public and they both exist primarily to serve banks. They NY Fed is owned by the private banks it supposedly examines and supervises and the banks elect bankers to act as the NY Fed’s directors (including until very recently the supposed “public interest” directors). They are not subject to U.S. government caps on pay, and in the case of the IMF the employees have their pay increased to compensate for the U.S. taxes they are supposed to pay (which Geithner did not pay for many years). Geithner’s disastrous “public service” at the NY Fed and the IMF made him a multi-millionaire at great cost to the public.

    But something else intrigued me as soon as I heard that Geithner was cashing in at Warburg Pincus – I remembered that I had debated a former leader of that firm about Geithner. (Details are here, here, here and here.) “Bo” Cutter was enraged that folks like me were criticizing Treasury Secretary Geithner and Obama’s decision to promote him.

    Warburg Pincus has had Geithner’s back for at least four years. The revolving door is powered by reciprocity, and Geithner had had Wall Street’s back for a decade. Transparency International decries corruption through crude bribes in developing nations, but the “perfectly legal” corruption of “advanced” nations like the U.S. differs largely in mode. Warburg Pincus was patient, but its leadership also recognized that it is never too early to begin sucking up to those in power, particularly if others are criticizing a senior government official for being too subservient to the elite bankers.

    http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/11/media-ignore-timothy-geithners-disastrous-leadership-ny-fed.html#more-6924

  13. Ulysses

    Very well chosen words in the Golem XIV piece linked above:

    “We must move beyond the politics of the last century, seeking to blame all ills on a corrupt and captured State or alternatively on a corrupt, captured and rigged market. BOTH are true. Both are corrupt. Neither is working for us. A new elite exists in every nation, has control over every State but which has no loyalty to the Nation of people in which it exists any more than a tape worm is loyal to the creature in whose body it feeds and grows.”

    Indeed– we must help people understand that the transnational kleptocrats are not the natural, organic “heads” of their respective societies, but rather harmful, alien parasites. With this new understanding we can begin to break down the absurd deference to kleptocratic “leadership” that prevents us from building a better world.

  14. jfleni

    RE:“The Obama presidency is not over, but it is failing”

    All the more reason why the “Failed State” of USA with its final rasping breaths, reject the “Slick Hillary” (Obama clone) bandwagon now building.

    Otherwise, there will be no hope of any eventual rebirth, and the USA will just be another odd artifact of history.

    1. optimader

      Failed for some, not for others.

      Just an observation about the title not the content as I didn’t read the article behind the wall, and I’m good with not reading blahblahblah spilled forth by Larry’s rhetoric whore

  15. john c. halasz

    I thought Boris Johnson already was a parody. That was supposed to be the prime source of his alleged appeal.

  16. J Sterling

    That article there talks about “China’s rapidly ageing population, which threatens to stifle its economy.”

    Oh no, people are stifling The Economy! Damn them, with their stopping work and then not having the decency to die immediately!

    Is “the economy” for people, or are people just there to serve “the economy”?

    1. J Sterling

      You know, you can run a heck of a company if you pretend your assets will never depreciate. There are airlines that do this, ignoring the manufacturers’ guidelines for the expected lifetime of a jet engine, and so on.

      Why am I mentioning this in the context of the China article? Because it’s the same Make Believe trick; countries—the whole world practically—pretending you can have a population that skews young forever. There is no “demographic time bomb” in the future, any more than those companies and their CEOs will be the innocent victim of a mysterious external bug that trashes their assets and forces them to find the funds to replace them. There’s just world leaders who are cheating in the present.

      1. anon y'mouse

        um, you can have a population that skews young forever.

        just make sure a goodly percentage of older people die before they become ‘a burden’.

        ??

        or have I miscalculated again?

        1. J Sterling

          No, you’re right, it’s the model throughout most of history until now. I just put that in a box marked “solution unacceptable”. And politicians never say that’s their solution.

  17. optimader

    http://tangible.media.mit.edu/project/inform/
    The online porn industry needs to take this ball and run with it

    inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. inFORM can also interact with the physical world around it, for example moving objects on the table’s surface. Remote participants in a video conference can be displayed physically, allowing for a strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance. inFORM is a step toward our vision of Radical Atoms: http://tangible.media.mit.edu/vision/

  18. DakotabornKansan

    Racketeers for capitalism…

    “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.” – Smedley D. Butler

    Reuters Investigates “The High Cost of the Pentagon’s bad bookkeeping,”

    The Pentagon financial bureaucracy’s notorious waste and fraud, where fraudulent bookkeeping is a symptom of a “chronic failure to keep track of its money – how much it has, how much it pays out and how much is wasted or stolen.”

    http://www.reuters.com/investigates/pentagon/#article/part1

    http://www.reuters.com/investigates/pentagon/#article/part2

    “The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture. It is like the battles between certain ruminant animals whose horns are set at such an angle that they are incapable of hurting one another. But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs. War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word “war,” therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist. The peculiar pressure that it exerted on human beings between the Neolithic Age and the early twentieth century has disappeared and has been replaced by something quite different. The effect would be much the same if the three superstates, instead of fighting one another, should agree to live in perpetual peace, each inviolate within its own boundaries. For in that case each would still be a self-contained universe, freed forever from the sobering influence of external danger. A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war. This — although the vast majority of Party members understand it only in a shallower sense — is the inner meaning of the Party slogan: WAR IS PEACE.” – George Orwell, 1984

    1. Jim S

      Saw this earlier today and thought about posting the link; glad you did.

      I would say that three factors are in play here: the glut of Global War on Terror funds, which only recently dried up; the expectation that IT advances would allow fewer personnel to be more productive; and the wholesale replacement of uniformed finance personnel by civilian contractors circa 1999-2000. The synergy of these made the chronic fraud, waste, and abuse problem immeasurably worse (literally, as the articles point out).

  19. Jack Parsons

    This is not “China’s demographic problem”. The One Child policy left them way oversupplied with young men, which is a bad thing. What they should have done, and should do now: “if your first child is a girl, you can have a second child”. This will leave them skewed towards women, but closer to the optimum than today.

    1. kareninca

      They are already often allowed a second child if the first is a girl:

      “China has been gradually adding exceptions to the rule for years amid concerns about the country’s aging workforce.

      In rural areas, couples were already allowed to have two children. Many other couples were allowed two children if the first was a girl.” http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2013/11/15/china_eases_one_child_policy_how_big_a_difference_will_this_make.html

      Apparently if the second child/fetus ends up being female, my are they REALLY eager to abort it.

  20. JTFaraday

    re: The Obama presidency is not over, but it is failing

    A lame duck Wshington DC is the best possible thing that could happen right now. Obama finally does something right.

  21. Glenn Condell

    I watched an interview last night with the only politician I actually miss. If you are at all interested in 20th C Australian political history and want to see an Antipodean legend up close, have a look.

    http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/keating/

    This review does a good job of summing up my own feelings:

    ‘Paul Keating: vibrant, vivacious, visionary. He was prime minister between 1991 and 1996 and, before that, from 1983, arguably Australia’s most reformist treasurer. For anyone who laments the paucity of leadership, originality and big-picture thinking in today’s Canberra, the ABC’s interview series, Keating, will at once cause pangs of nostalgia, regret (that we felt we could let him go in 1996), depression (that his like might never be seen again) and anger (that party machines feel they can lumber us with today’s crop of colourless clods).’

    He was rather too close to Suharto, too embedded in the neoliberal market paradigm of his time to see alternatives and at times allowed his petulance to cloud his judgement, but by God he was a contrast with what has followed him. The glimpse of his mentor, Depression-era scourge of the banks and austerity-mongers Jack Lang, is worth the price of admission alone.

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