Links 12/16/13

Left To Die In A Trash Heap, Abandoned Dog Gets Remarkable Second Chance Huffington Post (Carol B)

Savvy godwit up to climate challenge BBC

EVERYTHING IS EDITORIAL: WHY ALGORITHMS ARE HAND-MADE, HUMAN, AND NOT JUST FOR SEARCH ANYMORE Legal Information Institute – Cornell (Patrick Durusau)

Facebook saves everything you type – even if you don’t publish it Sydney Morning Herald (Foy). Holy shit.

Tepco lost the layout drawing of pipes and drains in Fukushima plant / Office ruined and entirely contaminated Fukushima Diary (Eureka Springs)

Local govt ‘ignored’ by reform forums Bangkok Post

Austerity Clusterfuck: Ireland Tells Unemployed to Leave Ireland Lambert

Can we move beyond the Maastricht orthodoxy? VoxEU. Article has much more urgent tone than headline.

EU bank wind-up plans run into web of red-tape Financial Times. Quelle surprise!

Huge poll win for Chilean left BBC

NYT: “Don’t Trust Our Editorials” Moon of Alabama

Saudi Royal Blasts U.S.’s Mideast Policy Wall Street Journal

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

IBM faces shareholder lawsuit over cooperation with NSA CNET

Probe: Snowden can still do damage Politico

Obamacare Launch

Obamacare Seen As Making Coverage Worse For Some: Poll Huffington Post (Carol B)

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: At constituent dinner, Sanders commits to hearings for single payer, says Vermont’s single payer waiver unlikely to be denied Lambert

Novitas’s Chris Taylor makes his connections count to win government work Washington Post (Lambert). Flexians as entrepreneurial role models! Ugh!

US Government Pays Contractors Twice as Much as Civil Servants for the Same Work Bill Moyers. Circulate widely.

Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce New Laws on Gun Control New York Times

The Impacts of Expanding Access to High-Quality Preschool Education NBER

Bassanese: No bubble, just “speculative frenzy” MacroBusiness

It is time for a fun bubble in commodities John Dizard, Financial Times

Basel risk weights can’t be trusted VoxEU. We’ve mentioned that more than occasionally, but glad to see that this notion is getting some validation.

Workplace Lending Increases Wall Street Journal

Noise in claims data makes the measure useless for now Walter Kurtz

More Retailers See Haggling as a Price of Doing Business New York Times

US Federal Reserve: The Bernanke years Financial Times. Gives a prominent role to culpability for the crisis.

Fed could set off year-end fireworks Reuters

It’s Us or Them massacio, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

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116 comments

  1. David Lentini

    It’s time that we stop thinking of algorithms as alien, or other, or too complicated, or scary. Instead, we should think of them as familiar and human, as sets of instructions hand-crafted to help us solve problems with research tools that we have not yet been able to solve, or that we did not know were problems in the first place

    Not the views of his employer? Really? When employees of a software company described the code as “hand-crafted”, and able to either solve hitherto unsolvable problems or discover problems we didn’t know existed, you can be sure it’s a shill.

    Just think, for centuries lawyers, law clerks, governments, and court managed to practice the law and make laws without computers or “professional” computer searchers. There were no algorithms, no databases, no black boxes. There were indexes that got one started, but once you started your research, you relied on your own mind and the citations in the text. If you didn’t your job well, or even competently, you gained an understanding of the law and its application that you applied to your own problem.

    Who knew that until Fastcase we weren’t practicing law?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What? Do you mean World War II was fought and won without computers and cell phones? How did they play Angry Birds?

    2. davidgmills

      I would argue that the old West key note system was much better. The idea the a few catch words could capture a legal concept or rule always struck me as being simpleminded. Like everyone else I was forced to switch over, but I always was afraid that I might miss a key case that a search engine using a few key words could never capture.

  2. AbyNormal

    Fuzzy Mouse…you out did yourself with today’s kitten! Thank You for the melt.

    “A kitten is, in the animal world, what a rosebud is in the garden.” Sowthey

  3. Larry Headlund

    “Workplace Lending Increases”

    Saint Peter don’t call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the company store

  4. optimader

    RE: Tepco lost the layout drawing of pipes and drains in Fukushima plant / Office ruined and entirely contaminated

    This is not exceptional for petrochemical plants, refineries, powerplants etc etc.. There are roles of marked up rev: **.*** drawings and documents identifying the locations of piping/valves/wiring ,never formally updated, that are squirrelled away in maintenance trailers throughout the world. This kind of human overhead costs money and those engineering/technical support folk are often rendered away as redundant cost center fodder.
    It is NOT infrequent when I hear client stories of trying to find the retiree in St Petersburg, FL to come back as an emergency consultant to either explain how things were actually done. This sort of corporate knowledge has no value when things are running OK and the people in charge are remote from where/how “value is added”.

    1. craazyboy

      Except that I doubt they change around the piping much in a nuke plant, so that means they don’t even have offsite storage of the original plans. Even worse!

      1. ambrit

        Dear craazyboy;
        I haven’t worked on a nuke plant, but knew a man who did, the one in Louisiana. He described what was an all too familiar litany of Fubars and Snafus that went on during the construction of said nuke plant. These projects are built by the same people who mess up ordinary civil construction jobs. Don’t expect significantly superior outcomes when the expectations and personnel are the same as ‘ordinary’ projects.
        “If it can go wrong, it will.”

      2. optimader

        For the reactor/power plant, GE would certainly have an original set of documentation, Tepco would have gone to the original vendor if it were merely an issue within this scope before throwing their hands up in the air.
        I think it reasonable to assume plant wide infrastructure has evolved over the history of the plant and these changes are on marked up drawings (or not) at the plant or in various peoples heads some of whom are long gone.

        Big job/$$ digitizing all the archival information, no less attempting to converting hand drawn piping, instrumentation, hardware drawings into an updateable CAD file format –updated copies of which can be stored offsite. A monumental task that can perpetually have a line drawn through it at budget time I suspect. Utility companies are notoriously cheap. A monumental task just maintaining an updated paper record , no less an accurate copy off site.
        This is the fundamental naivety of entrusting the ultimate time bomb to a for-profit utility. Nuke operators will purchase the least cost solution that is permittable, then run it as cheaply as possible all while relentlessly co-opting the regulators it whatever degree possible. So it is written.. Nothing new here.
        Some of the CRAZYEST stories I have heard are out of the nuke industry. A mild example being the “cocaine cowboys” the euphemism for nuke plant welders who often would having spare radiation badges to collect more overtime (exposure).

        Here in Illinois there is a plant that was being operated w/ a room so contaminated (I believe it was for a recirculation pump that had a leaking packing), that the operators would crack the door open and use a broom handle to reset an annunciator pushbutton. Just unbelievable shit goes on, and much worse than this. The notion of whimsical documentation storage/updating is par for the course.

        1. optimader

          A charitably written Wikipedia piece. The reason for the sinking, foundations, including the reactor containment vessel, wasn’t justt an unfortunate, unforeseen development, the Contractor was not performing the specified soil compaction and falsifying documents..

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midland_Cogeneration_Venture
          …Originally designed as the Midland Nuclear Power Plant with twin pressurized water reactors of Babcock and Wilcox design with once-through steam generators (OTSGs) similar to those at Oconee. Consumers Power abandoned the project, which was 85% complete, in 1984 citing numerous construction problems, most notably a sinking foundation. These problems included sinking and cracking of some buildings on the site due to poor soil compaction prior to construction,[2] as well as shifting regulatory requirements following the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island. Construction was also opposed by environmentalists, led by Midland resident, Mary P. Sinclair.[3][4]…

        2. optimader

          This took a summer co-op student holding a drawing backwards up to the light and comparing it to the as installed arrangement…. “hey you guys, I don’t think this is right…”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Onofre_Nuclear_Generating_Station
          …The San Onofre station has had technical problems over the years. In the July 12, 1982 edition of Time states, “The firm Bechtel was … embarrassed in 1977, when it installed a 420-ton nuclear-reactor vessel backwards” at San Onofre.[14] In 2008, the San Onofre plant received multiple citations over issues such as failed emergency generators, improperly wired batteries and falsified fire safety data.[15][16] Early in 2011, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued its annual review of the plant, identifying improvements but noting that in the area of human performance, “corrective actions to date have not resulted in sustained and measurable improvement”.[15]

          1. LucyLulu

            Just to add……..
            San Onofre, which sits on the Pacific in CA, made 20 year upgrades in 2009-2010 to units 2 and 3 (unit 1 is already retired). Within two years, 3000 tubes from the new steam generators were showing premature wear. Last summer, Bechtel decided to permanently retire and decommission San Onofre. The issue Onofre and all retired plants face is storage of spent nuclear fuel. The fuel is cooled for five years in pools. It can then be moved into casks for dry storage, but this is still a temporary solution, at most 100 years. Some predict cask failures beginning in 30 years. The plan had been that USG would take possession of the fuel for storage in Yucca Mountain. We have no plan B for Yucca Mountain.

            1. optimader

              I should never get on these threads because they make me crazy and depressed. There is no known long term storage technology for the most energetic waste due to radiation embrittlement. Root cause analysis would suggest going to a fuel cycle that minimizes high level waste?

              When I was a freshly minted engineer in the 1980’s I did some work for the Australian Atomic energy commission making surrogate material for leechability tests
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synroc
              This seemed like the most reasonable path forward

              1. LucyLulu

                Finland is close to completion of a facility that uses deep underground tunnels into granite. Similar concept, nature does the work. I heard a reference to Minnesota’s granite deposits being under consideration as an alternate site to Yucca. I don’t know how seriously MN is being considered. I suspect MN residents will be even less open to the idea than Nevada residents. There’s little public opposition to running 100 plants, as long as the waste is dumped in somebody else’s backyard.

                Reprocessing fuel brings with it a new set of problems. The thorium technology touted for it’s high utilization rates isn’t ready for showtime yet, and not for lack of many years of focused effort. Fusion may come on line first. I think the fusion problem is close to being solved. (I know, fusion promoters have been saying they’ve been close for a long time, too. But this time its different. ;=) ).

                Don’t be depressed, Opti. :( Go out and make some money buying stock in companies that sell Africans back the native energy they need to pursue capitalism, US- style. It’s been reported to make some folks happy, and lots of money.

            2. optimader

              Plan B is to ignore it. Cant see it, cant smell it, cant taste it and it requires resources and foresight.
              Not a relevant consideration in the next election cycle.

              Ill maintain the energy balance for a PWR nuke plant is negative when all externalities are considered until proven wrong.

          2. craazyboy

            Used to live near that one. It’s Fuki II waiting to happen. Right on the beach in a earthquake zone. CA also had the foresight to put in an early warning tsunami detection system decades ago, so you may get a half hour or so advance notice when it’s time to move.

            I heard they are “decommissioning” it. But all onsite waste will stay where it is – it has 50% more stored waste than Fuki!

            1. LucyLulu

              Yep. All spent fuel will be stored on-site for all commercial nuke plants, whether operating or retired. On average, they have four times the spent fuel as Fukushima. There are over 100 operating plants in the US right now. Decommissioning takes 30 years, even when all goes well. Permanent storage wasn’t an original consideration in planning and construction. The dry casks are space-consuming contraptions. San Onofre has 40 and will need another 100, each 4 x 8m (w x h, can never remember if should be ‘h x w’ or ‘w x h’). Spent fuel storage is a global problem, not just Fukushima.

              Has anybody heard of issues with transferring the spent fuel at Fukushima? Not me. Last I heard they’d made two transfers. The significance of this shouldn’t be ignored. It took an engineering marvel to pull off. You’ve seen the #4 reactor building. The top two floors, the ones that blew off, contained all the tracs for the heavy crane system used to handle the fuel below. The transfers to the casks are done underwater in the spent pool fuels, the 20-30m water providing crane operators with essentially their only protection from receiving deadly doses of radiation. The transfer process is computerized from start to finish to minimize chances of error, much like autopilot on a jetliner, with systems that have zero tolerance for failures (unlike healthcaredotgov). These are big, big cranes operating 100 ft up off the ground. Tepco has had neither the luxury of the necessary time, nor does #4 have sufficient remaining structural integrity, to replace the original/intended fuel handling system. They’ve had to punt into uncharted territory.

              Tepco CAN do something that is really difficult and not screw it up! They deserve credit. Now here’s the scary flip side. When one of the 45 countries that had the addition of “nuclear power under serious consideration” last month, e.g. Slovenia, Vietnam, Nigeria, Bangaladesh, Bolivia, Sudan…… has a similar meltdown to Fukushima,….. how confident would you feel of their ability to handle the crisis? More advanced countries are itching for the chance to get some contracts signed and spread the risk. Free toasters while supplies last.

              1. craazyboy

                On status of the #4 fuel moves:

                “TEPCO has moved another load of spent fuel from unit 4 to the common pool. After the initial fuel transfers TEPCO ceased reporting each fuel move and now only updates the plant update page. The new load was announced December 9, 2013.”
                http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=11923

                They have to keep up this rate for about a year and a half until #4 is emptied out. Long time to win at Russian roulette.

                Lately the news has been the rad spike in the groundwater, which is likely from the three units which did melt down.

        3. optimader

          http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/enforcement/actions/non-licensees/ea95009.html

          http://www.wiseinternational.org/node/993

          Be comforted, this product, as flammable as paper, was used as a fire stop material in nuke plants.
          OK, it was complete fraud BUT at least it was only used to protect the wiring tray for the primary and backup control inter-connective wire between the control room and the reactor!.

          Assessed impractical to remediate. Nothing to see here, keep moving..

          1. craazyboy

            Looks kinda like Abe, around the eyes.

            Abe was trying to pass the gubmint secrets act. They can then declare Fuki secret! Haven’t seen if that went thru or not.

              1. craazyboy

                Today in the news, demonstrating bizarre priorities, Abe just increased the military budget to protect the Senkaku islands from China!

                But, also too, WMDs, Saddam, Iraq, Iran Afghanistan, Syria, NSA, and probably etcetera besides.

        4. Butch In Waukegan

          “Here in Illinois there is a plant . . .”

          Could the plant be one of those owned by Commonwealth Edison, which is itself owned by (shift to Harry Shearer’s Monty Burns voice) . . . Excelon? ComEd is “decommissioning” a nuclear plant a few miles from me.

          Utah Company to Remove Nuclear Fuel from Decommissioned Power Plant
          — McClatchy

          Zion is the country’s first decommissioning project to take place in a deregulated electricity market, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As a result, Illinois state regulators will not have authority to question how the dismantling is performed or EnergySolutions’ spending decisions.

          1. optimader

            Hi Butch..
            this pursuit of excellence was actually at Braidwood, I’m pretty sure I bookmarked a link that that I received on this just because it was so preposterous. I’ll take a look for it at home later evening.

            More recently:
            http://enformable.com/2013/04/more-contraband-discovered-concealed-above-ceilings-at-braidwood-nuclear-power-plant/

            More contraband discovered concealed above ceilings at Braidwood nuclear power plant

            This week, while remodeling a bathroom in the protected area on the third floor of the Administrative Building, workers found a bottle of gin while removing the ceiling tiles. The finding is eerily similar to another reported event which took place last September, after a contractor working above a locker room in the protected area during renovations discovered contraband hidden above the ceiling tiles.

            These events call into question the programs at Braidwood which are meant to protect the site by scanning all incoming workers, bags, and other equipment for contraband like weapons, drugs, and alcohol, as well as those which are meant to constantly monitor and analyze the behaviors of personnel to ensure that all workers are found capable and ready to operate a nuclear reactor. It appears that on multiple occasions workers have been able to bring contraband into the protected area of the nuclear power plant without being detected by the scanner or reported by co-workers and supervisors.

              1. LucyLulu

                I believe that duct tape, structurally reinforced at 1 inch intervals with standard household electrical wiring (available from local big box stores), received the regulatory nod as a possible substitute for piping no longer being manufactured.

                1. Optimader

                  Add aluminum foil and hotmelt glue and you’ve got a space rated repair kit for the Int Space Station heat xcngr problem!

              1. Optimader

                The damndest thing is these extensions are paperwork exercises not technology/facility technical assessments.

        5. Crazy Horse

          Why am I not surprised?
          A few anecdotes from a parallel mission-critical industry—the passenger aircraft biz.

          Nephew worked for the Lazy B (Boeing) in the 747 division. One of his jobs was to render final drawings onto etched metal plate so there would be a permanent, dimensionally stable drawing set. You can imagine how often that got updated to reflect changes. LOL

          Another one of his tasks during training was to crawl back into the wings and wake up the rivet backers who had gone to sleep rather than perform their end of the riveting process.

          And then there were the carbon fiber molds for the Dreamliner fuselage. I walked by the first example and immediately knew from past experience that the parts built in them wouldn’t fit together. A billion dollars and a year delay, and Boeing finally came to the same conclusion and fixed the problem.

          Giant companies like Boeing are FUBAR at the level of their DNA. And that is why they cannot be allowed to handle radioactive materials in engineering nightmares like GE light water reactors.

          1. Optimader

            I like the brassplate etching story… Hopefully they were attached to the Voyager spacecrft for safekeeping ?
            I imagine a couple of those have found thier final resting place in retired boeing executives homes above the bar.
            The other examples are object lessons of complex systems bumping up hard against human nature/complacency. People conspire intentionally or not to subvert systems til they fail. So it is written in the pages of history.

      3. Skippy

        OH BOY – When the new SAG HQ was built in the late 80s it had one color of wires going into a main bus conduit and different ones coming out the other, none of the smoke detectors were wired in and the place almost burnt down. That’s just one data point on one project.

        Skippy… was quite interesting watching the building engineer get blown across the alleyway. trying to prime the 600V switch. Hint – don’t ware cowboy boots with leather soles and mess with dodgy wiring.

    2. LucyLulu

      Good point, Opti. Likely more than one source has design specs that are at least close to final copies. Engineers like to keep copies of their big projects. Maybe they can reuse portions in a later project. It’s the kind of approach to problem solving that is disproportionately unlikely to be seen used by people from Japan, IME where Toyota provided a large local Japanese community. This is one of the reasons why an international effort has always been needed.

      With luck, somebody has made your suggestion to Tepco. Perhaps Dale Klein, our former NRC chair, who has been delegated by Tepco to oversee decommissioning.

  5. Andrew Watts

    RE: Greenwald, Paypal/NSA connections, etc.

    The intelligence community was trying to sweep up all the financial records they could get their hands on back in 2003. The name of the program was called “Total Information Awareness”. That name kind of implies that they would not overlook any aspect including e-commerce. The fact the NSA has reportedly taken an interest in World of Warcraft is a further indication that Congress did not successfully kill the program back in the day.

    Somehow I doubt they are trying to catch terrorists on an online video game. But video games that require a monthly subscription or some other financial transaction to take place is yet another source of documentation on both foreign individuals and innocent law-abiding Americans.

    As for the news venture, you would think that Ames/Levine would be more sympathetic given their past experience with Putin’s goons. Greenwald is sitting on a gold mine that every country, big or small, is going to want in their possession. Even if he doesn’t have all the Snowden documents and regardless of whether he reports on all the potential stories in his stash. His only realistic alternative might be playing nice with the American national security state and it’s partner states among the Five Eyes countries.

    Unlike American intelligence, the British don’t f— around. They’re much more efficient, and efficient intelligence agencies are terrifying. How quickly the people attacking Greenwald forget what happened to David Miranda. Or what could have happened to him under the auspices of Britain’s terrorism laws.

    No gods, no heroes.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      ” the British don’t f— around. They’re much more efficient,”
      .
      You watch too much television.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge_Five

      The British spy as well as they build cars. The primary reason they maintained power was their fleets, and they were better rulers than the French and one of the former local rulers. Their man in Cairo didn’t know anything which couldn’t be picked up from a newspaper. After all, the British couldn’t find Osama Bin Laden despite looking for him in their former colony.

      Efficiency can’t exist in secret organizations except when ruled by a great man-type, not to be confused with a control freak despite similarities, and in the absence of the great man, secrecy reins which leads to infighting, factionalism, turf wars, and sloth.

      1. Andrew Watts

        “You watch too much television.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge_Five”

        As popular as that example is, it’s not really the lowest point Her Majesty’s Secret Services’ history imho. During the war, two British operatives met with men who were allegedly apart of the anti-Hitler resistance. The meeting was a ruse and they were kidnapped by the Germans. In one of the men’s briefcases there was a list of all the individuals that worked as informants ‘in Europe.

        This development indirectly led to the formation of the Special Operations Division (SOE) further down the line. As the British were starting from nothing. Given it’s success during the war that was turning a frown upside down.

        I’ve commented about Philby (and company) in the past. It’s more of a success of Soviet intelligence than a failure of the British. They were able to recruit agents and place them in various capacities that led to the Cambridge Five’s success.

        “The British spy as well as they build cars. The primary reason they maintained power was their fleets, and they were better rulers than the French and one of the former local rulers. Their man in Cairo didn’t know anything which couldn’t be picked up from a newspaper. After all, the British couldn’t find Osama Bin Laden despite looking for him in their former colony.”

        All intelligence agencies carefully scrutinize news sources. They don’t have the money/resources to have eyes and ears everywhere at once. Nor was I trying to imply that British intelligence is perfect. The comment about efficiency was in direct comparison to US intelligence agencies.

        I also fail to see how this serves to counter the arguments I made regarding Greenwald/Miranda’s precarious situation.

        1. Emma

          “The British spy as well as they build cars”
          Only until’64/’65 with the E-Type Jag or Flemings’ death. Neither their cars, nor the Secret Service have been as good since. No turf wars, simply croquet on the lawn with a spot of tea now!

          They still thankfully create beautiful gardens

          1. Andrew Watts

            As far I’m concerned one of the most humiliating episodes in US intelligence history is the encounter between Papov and J. Edgar Hoover. It’s such a major source of embarrassment that the FBI still claims they never met despite all the evidence to the contrary. The short version of the story is that the FBI thought Papov was a German spy. His participation in the British double-cross system notwithstanding,

      2. Nathanael

        “Their man in Cairo didn’t know anything which couldn’t be picked up from a newspaper. ”

        The difference between the British and the US is that the British man in Cairo ACTUALLY READ THE NEWSPAPER.

        The US CIA failed to notice the fall of the Soviet Union or the fall of the Berlin Wall. Clinton found himself watching CNN and reading the newspapers himself, because the CIA wasn’t doing so!

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          This is probably true, but intelligence operations tend not to receive the same scrutiny as public schools. The primary reason they aren’t completely dropping the ball is their adversaries are either incompetent themselves or interested in local issues far away from the purview of the intelligence agencies.

        2. Emma

          Did British newspapers then, have more words than photos so you could actually read the newspaper?

          Perhaps you too could read a bit more Nathanael. It is well documented that under Thatcher and her Foreign Policy advisors, the Brits never saw the coming of the fall of the Berlin Wall in ’89.

          1. Andrew Watts

            At least they were aware of the fall of the Soviet Union at the time it happened. Here’s the modern example of the difference between US and British intelligence based upon previously reported news stories:

            American: “We don’t know what Snowden took or what Greenwald has. We’re only beginning to piece together how bad this is going to be for us.”

            British: “The Guardian has stopped publishing stories that could be discomforting. They’re no longer in possession of any damaging intelligence. We have Miranda and a copy of Greenwald’s files. We’re decrypting them now.”

            Bit of a difference, no? The British public doesn’t appear to be as alarmed by their secret services as Americans are of theirs. Apparently they view them as essentially harmless. If I was running an intelligence agency that was conducting mass surveillance that would be the perception I’d want everyone to have. That is another factor that speaks highly of their operational competency.

      3. Howard Beale IV

        “The British spy as well as they build cars.”

        Ah yes: ‘All of the parts falling off this car are of the finest British manufacture.’

    2. Ned Ludd

      The documents are not the private property of Greenwald, Poitras, or Snowden. The documents are government documentation of mass surveillance. Releasing documents in drips and drabs has given the security state time to adapt. In a year, will there be less spying? Or just more sophisticated surveillance, possibly combined with some meaningless oversight by another group of oligarchs that conducts its business in the dark?

      Greenwald’s redactions also undermine the ability of dissidents to counter NSA surveillance. As Andrea Shepard, Tor developer, sardonically wrote: “Keep The Controvery(TM) fresh for decades; just make sure no one learns enough to resist.”

      1. Andrew Watts

        I never said they were. I’m not sure if everything they have in their possession has to do with mass surveillance given recent news stories. In particular, the Swedish-American intelligence co-operation story is nothing new that wasn’t openly speculated about during the Cold War.

        The bottom line is that it’s not up to Greenwald, Snowden, and/or Poitras to lead the fight against the national security state’s mass surveillance programs. We’ve reach the point where their value has drastically been reduced.

      2. Nathanael

        The slow release is actually a publicity tactic, and a very smart one. Each time the security state comes up with some “excuse” for what it’s going, the next round of documents are released to prove that they’re lying.

        The goal is not so much to stop the security state — because several people have tried that and failed. The goal is to DISCREDIT it. After it’s discredited, then you can properly try to take it down.

        1. Ned Ludd

          This is not a publicity tactic. The slow release is the side effect of Greenwald insisting that he participate in reporting every story. He has inserted himself as a bottleneck.

          “It’s therefore vital that we never act as a source or distributor of the materials, which is what the DOJ would eagerly claim if – as individuals – we just started handing out massive amounts of documents to media organizations around the world, rather than doing what we’ve been doing: reporting on them on a story-by-story basis with those outlets…

          “I’m not going to hand prosecution advocates inside the US government a gift by becoming a source or distributor of the documents. That’s why I’ve been reporting on these documents in partnership with media outlets on a story-by-story basis and will continue to do so.”

          Greenwald makes it clear that he is unwilling to take the same risks as Wikileaks. By his own account, he is slowing down the release to protect himself. This may seem reasonable, but don’t fool yourself that this is some sort of publicity tactic. Also, Greenwald never points to existing case law or previous prosecutions. Conveniently, for Greenwald, minimizing these hypothetical legal risks maximizes how much he profits from the documents.

          “The CBC does not have ‘access to Snowden’s documents’. They only have access to the specific, carefully selected documents that we are reporting on together. What they’re paying for – under a standard joint freelance contract with both me and my freelance colleague Ryan Gallagher – is the work that freelance reporters always do: selecting and analyzing the material to be reported and then participating in the drafting and finalizing of the article and reporting (for both TV and print): extensive work we all did together.”

          Both Greenwald and Gallagher counsel “patience” because their “reporting takes time”. However, as Tarzie remarked, “patience is only required because there are too few people working on a huge trove.”

          1. Andrew Watts

            @Ned Ludd

            If the CBC did have access to the Snowden documents the same fate that befell the Guardian would happen to them. Perhaps an even more unpleasant fate for those individuals involved with investigating, verifying, and publishing the stories.

            The blogger you linked to has no idea what he/she’s talking about. The primary thing they seem to be concerned with is the conflict between the different cult of personalities. Cryptome has been trying to follow the amount of pages released, the number of people involved, etc. They’ve estimated the number of people working on the files is anywhere from 2000-5000 people. The more people involved in producing these stories, the greater likelihood that successful counter-intelligence actions would have been in capturing the initial and arguably the most important disclosures.

            Snowden Related Targets:
            http://cryptome.org/2013/11/snowden-related-targets.htm

    3. LucyLulu

      Hayden was on Meet the Press talking about his views on the ethics and legalities of surveillance measures the last few measures. Arguing nothing illegal was done, he said Congressional Intelligence Committees were informed, in 2009, 2011, before the vote renewing authorization. He said, “I told them. We’re getting it. We’re getting ALL of it.” I have no doubt he was telling the truth. Then he stepped it back a bit and clarified he meant the metadata, the phone metadata only. I’m not so convinced that was true, but it’s the official stance. The agencies have no functioning oversight. Congress is quicker to rubberstamp than the FISA court. Even if a member of Congress does have an issue, if discussing their concerns is forbidden, what can they do? They’ve been hogtied and hornswaggled.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Hayden isn’t exactly approaching this issue from a civilian perspective. The NSA director is also the head of the military’s Cyber Command. But as I’ve tried to point out in the past day’s comments this issue deals with more than just domestic mass surveillance. We are well within the realm of electronic warfare.

      2. Nathanael

        Hayden’s a traitor who needs his head chopped off for treason — I’d expect he’d say what he said.

      3. Alexa

        Hey, LucyLuLu, Wanted to “catch up with you” to provide you a link that references “Medicaid waivers.”

        [My apologies to everyone for OT remark on a previous discussion with Lucy.]

        This is a PDF of a brochure on the State of Tennessee Medicaid Program–TennCare.

        It doesn’t get in the weeds on waivers, but it indicates that waivers are obtainable (or were) to either “expand or contract” a state Medicaid program.

        Tennessee obviously used them to achieve both.

        Record numbers of Medicaid beneficiaries (including the state’s uninsurables) were thrown off the rolls–hundreds of thousands of them.

        A Democratic Governor Ned McWherter greatly expanded the Tennessee Medicaid Program, which became known as TennCare.

        And an ultra right-wing corporatist Democratic Governor (and DLCer) Phil Bredesen, all but eliminated the State’s TennCare program.

        BTW, Bredesen was considered for nomination as PBO’s HHS Secretary. Of course, Sebelius was also a DLCer–so maybe her nomination as a wash.

        Hope you have a chance to glance at this brochure. It is truly an eye-opener, not to mention chilling!

        http://capone.mtsu.edu/berc/tnbiz/pdfs/healthcare/bonnyman60906.pdf

        Two quotes from this brochure:

        “This represented the largest single increase in the number of uninsured Americans in the nation’s history and the deepest cuts ever in funding for a public health program.”

        and,

        “Once one of the country’s most expansive Medicaid programs, TennCare plummeted in only a few months to become one of the most limited in terms of both eligibility and scope of benefits.”

        And “waivers,” as I understand it, were necessary in order to achieve both the expansion and the contraction of this program.

        Read it and weep.

        1. LucyLulu

          Thanks, Alexa!! I’ll check it out later for sure, when I’m in the mood to get depressed again. ;)

    4. Howard Beale IV

      Until NewCo comes out of the gate and actually starts doing journalism, they can be mocked/ignored/ridiculed.

      As an project manager I one knew said: ‘You’re only as good as your last project.’ Right now the Glenn and Pierre show ain’t exactly rocking.

  6. tyler

    Re: US Government Pays Contractors Twice as Much as Civil Servants for the Same Work

    Yes, but the contractors work longer hours and likely get less paid leave. I don’t want to work for f’ing Deloitte. At least in government you can work for an agency that has a great mission.

    1. ambrit

      tyler;
      I would suggest that those who work for the contractors, and thus get the work done, or not, are paid significantly less. Don’t forget the ‘skimming’ that private contractors are prone to.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Correct, Lambert has buddies who’ve worked on these gigs. They are not paid much/any better than comparable people at the client. It’s the managers and the execs how get the benefit of the higher billing levels.

      2. Howard Beale IV

        That’s so true-especially in IT gigs, and it gets even worse when you deal in specific product domains. And unless you sign up with one of these pinps, there is no way you can land contracts.

    2. carl

      I would posit that the lack of benefits and at-will employment makes the premium still seem like a good deal to many managers. Rumsfeldian agility.

    3. Expat

      The thing that sticks in my craw is another grotesque abuse started by that swine Clinton: automatic pay cap increases for contractor EXECUTIVES that now allow these characters to earn almost $1 MILLION at our expense. See, e.g., http://www.allgov.com/news/top-stories/in-midst-of-pay-freeze-some-federal-contractors-may-earn-million-dollar-annual-salary-130602?news=850187 Meanwhile our beloved poltiicans have been stripping away protections like Davis-Bacon that increased pay for workers….

      1. Howard Beale IV

        Careful-mention Davis-Bacon around Mish and you’ll be branded as evil for supporting Davis-Bacon.

  7. YankeeFrank

    Wow. That Moon of Alabama site has a nasty bunch of anti-semites infesting their comment thread. Won’t be going there again. Not to mention that the post was already done to death on other sites.

    Anyhow, I have to go floss my brain.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      It was a legitimate, albeit hotly contested thread. Unless you favor AIPAC’s “You Are All Anti-Semites If You Notice Our Tactics of Threatening To Call You An Anti-Semite If You Dissent From Our Greater Israel Project”, that is. The attempt being to shut down discussion, not to advance free speech through…the exercise of free speech in opposition to that with which you disagree. Seems rather un-American to me, certainly not a Yankee virtue?

      Most of the posters at Moon Of Alabama don’t hold with the Zionist Project; ergo, they must all be anti-Semites. Except, mysteriously enough, many of them stick up for Arabs, who have the temerity to be, well, Semites. Now I’m all confused; if they speak up for some Semites, but abominate those Zionists who are trying to oppress and expel the Arab Semites, are they still anti-Semites?

      Yves and Lambert, there are a lot of very good posts over at Moon of Alabama, so don’t let YankeeFrank scare you off from posting links from time to time when they touch on topics that receive coverage here. Otherwise, the terrorists win.

      1. YankeeFrank

        I have nothing against the site itself, just the commenters. And no, I actually despise AIPAC, so don’t lump me in with them, thank you very much. But when I go to a thread to read about a CIA agent and NYT propaganda I don’t expect the comment section to focus almost solely on the fact that the CIA agent was Jewish and how Jews have “sectional interests” in finance, espionage, etc. As if that has any relevance whatsoever to the story. If the CIA agent had been a WASP would it have been mentioned, let alone the subject of the entire comment thread? We all know the answer to that so don’t bother trying to rationalize. Yes, sure, we all know how those hook-nosed Jews control the world through trickery and predatory finance. The thread was barely concealed hate focused on Jews as if the CIA is run by Jews, as if the government and finance is controlled by Jews. If you honestly think that isn’t anti-semitic (and please don’t get all cute with your silly distractions about terminology) then you merely display your own ignorance of how racism and bigorty functions. Conflating Israel’s militaristic apartheid actions with all Jews is as nasty and bigoted as attempts to conflate terrorism with all Muslims. Many American Jews have nothing to do with AIPAC, as evidenced by the strong membership rolls of groups like J Street, and even in Israel people are strongly divided, almost right down the middle, for/against Likud’s aggressive Zionism. But you don’t really know anything about that do you?

        You don’t have to like Zionism. You don’t have to like Israel. But for you to conflate those with the Jewish people as a whole is anti-semitic. For you and your buddies over there on Moon who clearly enjoy stating the “fact” of Zionist Jewish conspiracy that controls not only Israel, but the CIA, global finance & media, not to mention the US government itself is blatant, outright anti-semitism. Good job lumping yourself in with the Nazis.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t read MoA’s comments section regularly, but it looked like that thread was hijacked. If that is normal, they do need to intervene.

          1. YankeeFrank

            Thank you Yves. I stand corrected if that is the case. Like I wrote above, I have nothing against MoA generally speaking. I’ve read many interesting pieces there. And like Yves I have little experience with their comment threads. The thread I’m speaking of just jumped out as particularly insidious and dishonest.

      2. YankeeFrank

        With regard to Moon of Alabama itself, given that the site owner didn’t feel any obligation to jump into the thread and tone down some of the nasty rhetoric doesn’t say much about him. I’ve been an avid reader of NC for many years and not once have I had one whiff of anti-semitism on this site, and no one can say NC toes the AIPAC line in any way. Heck, I’ve even defended NC against claims of anti-semitism on other sites when certain types display the type of rhetoric you mention — anything but blind support for Israel and AIPAC is labeled anti-semitic. I know exactly how manipulative and destructive such rhetoric can be and I would never make knee-jerk claims of anti-semitism. That said, the MofA thread contained quite a bit of poorly concealed anti-semitism. If you can’t see it you are in denial.

  8. Dan

    Re: Saudi Royal Blasts U.S.’s Mideast Policy Wall Street Journal
    Countdown to Saudi-backed (trying to make it look like it was Iran or Shia-backed) terror attack in US…..

  9. Jim Haygood

    From the NYT article on Michelle Bachelet’s victory in Chile:

    ‘Ms. Bachelet has promised to draft legislation within her first 100 days in office aiming to increase tax revenues by about 3 percent of gross domestic product.’

    Tax hikes of 3% of GDP would represent a very large fiscal shock. Whether Chile carries this off successfully will depend in part on whether the price of copper — its most important export — remains unusually high.

    Should copper drop below $3 a pound in 2014, Chile would be facing a possible recession. Savage tax hikes would only deepen the misery.

    1. Lune

      Only if she doesn’t turn around and spend those tax hikes. Then it would a redistribution of income but wouldn’t really have much of a fiscal impact.

      In fact, if she raises most of the taxes from the rich who tend to save a larger percentage of their income / wealth, and redistributes it to poorer people who consume a higher portion of their income, the net effect may be positive.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        “the rich who tend to save a larger percentage”

        If only they did merely save, but the rich use their wealth to demand tribute by buying at an earlier time when prices are low, raising prices for everyone else.

        1. scraping_by

          And, of course, luxury goods which are not economic. Paying another rich collector the budget of a small city for a painting just sloshes savings around the 1%.

    2. Crazy Horse

      Jim,
      What single country in the Western Hemisphere has an even more unequal income distribution than the USA? Chile

      Might those “savage tax hikes” help remedy that problem if properly assessed?

      And pray tell, do you think keeping the money in the hands of oligarchs and criminals empowered during the Pinochet/CIA dictatorship so they can store it in Panamanian bank accounts will have a more beneficial effect than taxing some of it away to support free universal education for all? Who is more likely to recycle money into the economy, a starving student or low paid teacher, or an oligarch with homes in Miami and Zurich?

      Must take some powerful drugs to maintain a belief in the “job creators” and other mythological beings.

  10. Ned

    Regarding haggling with retailers….

    We’ve had to endure the black Thursday and black Friday brainwashing as we watch yet another traditional mainstream holiday polluted by consumerism, so how about picking up their contagion and calling it “Black January”….where if you want to sell me something, it better be marked at least 75% off?

    They say
    “Happy holidaaaayyss”.

    We reply
    “And what holiday would you be referring to?”

  11. LizinOregon

    Re: Haggling With Retailers

    This development will drive me to on-line shopping even faster. What an incredible waste of time.

    1. Howard Beale IV

      Online retailing isn’t exactly sweetness and light: between the way Amazon treats their warehouse workforce and the questionable firms that use Amazon’s distribution services to flog broke products as new makes me more inclined to purchase locally: at least that way I can put my metaphorical hands around a metaphorical throat if things go south.

  12. optimader

    RE: Facebook saves everything you type – even if you don’t publish it

    The continuing popularity of giving FB personal information amazes me on the order of the proclivity of people to get tattoos.

        1. optimader

          I’m a rebel, see me conform.. This is Tattoo pattern #326 up there on the wall, but I had him use a little more light blue!

  13. savedbyirony

    Since there seems to be a number of people who read here who also follow the developments of the catholic church, especially now under Francis, i thought they might find this article interesting:
    http://ncronline.org/news/politics/republican-donors-gift-catholic-university-comes-under-fire
    (They might also find it telling that Francis did not re-appoint one of the more powerful and conservative American Cardinals, Cardinal Burke, to the Vatican panel which recommends candidates for promotion to the Bishop ranks.) The U.S. Conference of Bishops is an extremely political body and i don’t think it is unfair to describe it as made up of primarily Corp. minded men of the JPII/Benedict authoritarian mentality. It has in the past exercised a great deal of power both in the states and thru various Vatican Offices in undermining the more economically minded individuals and agencies of the church which reflect the social justices views Francis is publicly expressing at present. (The attacks against Catholic Sisters and especially the hostile takeover attempt of their leadership body, the LCWR, is a good example of this behavior. And for people keeping an eye out for real possibilities of lasting substantive change in the church i recommend they also watch for news that deals with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faithful (the CDF, and in the past known as The Office of the Inquisition) its leadership and especially practices. This is the office where Benedict established his power base, it had primary control over the Bishops and their behaviors in the sexual abuse cover-ups and is basically an extremely insular/independent enforcement arm of the church.)

    For folks looking for a good source of continuing and critical coverage of the catholic church, i recommend the “National Catholic Reporter”, a laity driven publications which occasionally draws the typical accusations from some Bishops of “disobedience” and demands that it remove the word “Catholic” from its title (not unlike D.Day’s “Catholic Worker” use to do). As a further endorsement for folks reading here, its coverage of the Vatican Bank, and especially its editorial comments, mirror fairly closely the analysis and criticisms that NC and many of its readers have voiced.

  14. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to the Financial Times article on Bernanke’s legacy at the FED.

    There seems to be profound disagreement emerging among professional economists about whether QE-ZIRP is deflationary or inflationary (See: http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2013/12/does-qe-cause-deflation.html ).

    Regardless, based on the past five-plus years, I think it is fair to say that Bernanke’s policies have – along with extreme regulatory and legal forbearance at the DoJ and other government agencies – enabled the banks to largely overcome their losses through fat net interest margins and QE-ZIRP rocket fuel to generate “market gains” in securities trading and derivatives at the expense of broad segments of the economy and society.

    Too, the beneficiaries of the Bernanke Fed’s policies in the financial sector have also enabled the politicians to skate on addressing systemic issues underlying the Great Financial Collapse of 2007-09. That, along with DoJ inaction, has resulted in the unfortunate side effect of ignoring the criminality of banksters who engaged in control fraud, securities fraud, predatory lending and racketeering. IMO the failure to prosecute criminal behavior has materially damaged the rule of law, which may turn out to be the most damaging lasting aspect of this whole sorry episode.

    … “But it is also worth considering the constraints Mr Bernanke was under – both within the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee and with a hostile Congress”…

    Bingo! Austerity has been bought and paid for on the fiscal side of the House.

    As reader “obbrian_06” stated in response to the subject article in his comment at ft.com on December 16 at 2:00 pm (http://www.ft.com/…html#ixzz2ne6mJoFd ):

    “Carmen Rhinehart asked if anyone could have handled the financial crises better than Bernanke?

    Yes, Warren Mosler would have done a much better job since he, unlike Bernanke, has a keen sense of how government should serve public purpose rather private interests.

    Bernanke’s QEs have not shored up the economy, they have amounted to additional bailouts for the banking system since not one dime of the $85 billion/month has yet to reach the real economy.”

    Other readers’ comments at the ft.com article link are also well worth some time IMO.

  15. Jim Haygood

    FINALLY — a federal judge rules the NSA’s dragnet collection of phone metadata unconstitutional:

    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/national-security-agency-phones-judge-101203.html

    This ruling is from a REAL court, not a phony-ass, shadowy ‘FISA’ Star Chamber, with no adversary and no public record.

    Too bad the ‘most transparent administration in history’ offers nothing but massive resistance to stopping the spying. Privacy is a civil right too.

    1. barrisj

      Judge Leon, in his extensive opinion, reckoned – inter alia – that wholesale vacuuming of telecom “metadata” hardly qualifies as “essential to preventing an imminent terrorist threat”, and allowed that Obama/DOJ handwaving about “crucial tools against terrorism” has no substance nor has it been shown that such massive and intrusive data-gathering has “stopped an imminent terrorist attack”. The Snowden Effect is now permeating the federal courts, and Obama will need to rely on the Fascistic Five on SCOTUS to save this shite from lower-court emasculation.

    2. Howard Beale IV

      And will probably be overturned on appeal, especially once Obama gets his sycophants appointees installed in the DC Appeals Court.

    1. Howard Beale IV

      Counterpoint to the counterpoint: http://blogs.reuters.com/jackshafer/2013/12/16/plotting-the-snowden-plea-bargain/:

      If you read Gen. Alexander’s imperfect analogy to a hostage taker closely, he doesn’t seem to be completely ruling out a deal, either. Snowden hasn’t “shot” anybody—he’s broken inviolable laws, but he’s not got any blood on his hands. Prosecutors cut deals with defendants all the time without many people accusing them of letting crooks get off easy. I’ll bet Gen. Alexander would make that deal if assured that future Snowden NSA leaks would be stopped.

      But maybe the NSA line hasn’t been baited for Snowden alone. Maybe a deal with Russia is also in play. By volunteering the fact that Snowden, and maybe the journalists he’s leaked to, hold the keys to the kingdom, Ledgett increased Snowden’s market value by an order of a million. By offering and withdrawing amnesty on TV, the U.S. government could be playing both Snowden and Russia simultaneously. If Snowden spurns the deal, the U.S. government might attempt to persuade the Russians, never sticklers for the rule of law, to declare Snowden a spy and therefore eligible for exchange for some high-value Russian spy currently in U.S. custody. Or, for the next Russian spy busted, making Snowden like the player traded for a future draft pick.

      Snowden is in play. The next move is his.

      Remember: power tries to protect itself at all costs.

  16. Hugh

    The Saudis are past masters of chutzpah. They think any problem can be solved by throwing money at it. They believe this because it usually works for them. US politicians used to be accused of doing this too. They have since refined their ideas. Now they think that any problem involving the 99% can be solved by not throwing money at it. Money for the rich and elites is still full on though. But back to the Saudis. Plan A is to buy whomever off. Plan B, which we are seeing now, is to blame someone else, loudly.

  17. Hugh

    Th masaccio post is excellent because it ties economic activities to their social purposes. This can not be repeated enough. Economic activities that create billionaires, a bloated, predatory financial sector, and corporations run wild go against the very essence of a fair, just, and equitable society. That is they do not serve but destroy the common good.

  18. different clue

    I drifted over there too and noticed the same thing. I left their readership a recommendation for Sic Semper Tyrannis by Colonel Pat Lang for higher quality analysis and comment on some of these issue areas.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Sic Semper Tyrannis is certainly a fine blog, and one that I visit on a daily basis. I post seldom, but learn much from Col. Lang, as well as from knowledgeable readers. Col. Lang exercises a strong hand in his comment section, sometimes to my mind a bit too restrictive; but he has his own standards of civility with which it is difficult to argue, and after all, it’s his place.

        Bernhard over at Moon of Alabama seems to allow a bit more of Interweb hurly-burly in his comment section, and sometimes the friction of combat ramps up the game of the posters. You can make an argument for that approach, too.

        BTW, the b who often posts at Sic Semper Tyrannis is likely Bernhard; he’s too classy to blog whore on Col. Lang’s blog by posting links to his own stuff. That he reads and posts at SST is a sign of his regard for Col. Lang’s and his posters’ seriousness of intent and integrity of analysis.

        The line “A Committee of Correspondence”, the subtitle of SST, has deep historical roots in American history, and is indicative of the Colonel’s intent.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_of_correspondence

  19. Alison J

    “EVERYTHING IS EDITORIAL.”

    I would not hire the author to do any real world legal research for a real world live case, as he seems interested in law from some sort of meta-something or other perspective. One of his main research interests is: “the philosophy and aesthetics of legal citation analysis.” Come again?

  20. alex morfesis

    Its us or them…

    well…

    I am sure the Koch family will be happy to see their
    mises bernays sauce working

    The first heads up was the captioning of the New York Fed chairman as THE
    fed chairman…Eccles was the fed chair at that time

    second the article is taken from a quarterly publication of the
    Conference Board…not exactly a pro “little people” publication

    and finally, it is only available(mostly) from Mises pdf’s

    and finally finally…one should learn to read corporate speak

    the purpose of the speech and promotion of the concept is to support
    the notion that corporations should pay

    drum roll please….

    ZERO TAXES… as in less than they pay today…

    but the koch’s will be happy

Comments are closed.