Links 12/18/13

Banana Fungus, Insect Outbreak Threaten Global Supply Huffington Post (Carol B)

F.D.A. Questions Safety of Antibacterial Soaps New York Times

Copenhagen Wheel. Chuck L deems this to be cool, even if they are hawking a product.

Dozens of Sailors From USS Ronald Reagan Suffering From Cancer After Japan Earthquake Assistance American Live Wire (Deontos). Summary of a class action lawsuit.

China bans new Bitcoin deposits Financial Times

China confirms US warship incident BBC

Arrest, detention of Indian diplomat in New York triggers uproar CNN

Ukraine saved from bankruptcy – PM BBC

Single banking union doomed to fail Bill Mitchell

Italy’s president fears violent insurrection in 2014 but offers no remedy Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

An open letter to the people of Brazil, from Edward Snowden International Business Times (Deontos)

Brasil não vai conceder asilo a Snowden em troca de informações Folha. Translation: Brazil won’t give Snowden asylum in return for information.

Senate Asks C.I.A. to Share Its Report on Interrogations New York Times

President Obama’s NSA review group is typical administration whitewash Marcy Wheeler, Guardian (Chuck L)

Obamacare Launch

Obamacare Is Over (If You Want It) Slate

Obamacare Death Spiral Looks Unlikely, Study Finds Huffington Post. Notice the 25% assumption (25% young people signing up v. assumed 40%). That number allegedly won’t cause a problem. But I wonder about the mix on the total population. I’d hazard this assumes young people are all representative (as in mainly healthy). But if the older and younger enrollees have a heavier representation of people with costly conditions, this analysis could be unduly optimistic (as in it’s looking at the wrong critical variable).

Advertising is Just One Small Cog in the Gaint Health Care Waste Machine Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

If I Were Emperor Counterpunch (Carol B)

I Got Myself Arrested So I Could Look Inside the Justice System Atlantic

Occupy Columbia can sue Gov. Nikki Haley over arrests GoUpstate

Michael Bloomberg Is Starting A Consulting Firm That Won’t Charge Clients A Dime Business Insider. “Free” is never free.

Christie Official At Center Of Probe Bought Domain Names Of Governor’s Political Opponents DSWright, Firedoglake (Carol B). Tacky!

How Risky Is It to Make a Non-QM Mortgage? And Is QM Going to Hold Back Access to Credit? Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

New ruling puts Fannie, Freddie in line for windfall MBS recovery Alison Frankel, Reuters (Deontos)

Fed Said to Delay Bank Leverage Cap Until Basel Completed Bloomberg

Did Someone Say “Crash”? Counterpunch (Carol B)

Antidote du jour:

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96 comments

  1. McKillop

    Your antidotes are wonderful!
    Having spent the last few months repairing a Ford 500 that I almost own, I particularly enjoyed the pony looking under the hood. Me, I watch my more knowledgeable friend work and have concluded that I’m a horse’s arse when it comes to car repairs. (And other stuff, too, also, as well)

      1. scraping_by

        In an earlier, simpler time, arsedom was mild, usually, and often quickly left behind.

        These days, of course, the opportunities abound and there’s always helpful souls around to point and keep score.

  2. William Lewis

    A caution on accessing the IBTimes website. It downloads some kind of adware to your computer. This will freeze your system until the download is complete. This happened with cookies turned off and an anti virus software running.

  3. Emma

    Antidote du jour: ‘Harmony’
    “Especially now when views are becoming more polarized, we must work to understand each other across political, religious and national boundaries.”
    Jane Goodall

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I would add, across language barriers.

      There were fewer misunderstandings, less to be lost in translation, when people just spoke cavemen grunts.

      1. diptherio

        I have a theory that humans use spoken language because, unlike other animals, humans have mostly lost the ability to communicate directly mind to mind. Orangutans, leopards, and everything else, I think, communicates telepathically. As part of our human devolution (see my comment below), we lost that ability, maybe something to do with our enlarged pre-frontal cortex blocking the signal reception by our pineal gland or something…who knows. At any rate, we lost our ability to communicate telepathically and so had to develop some alternate means of information sharing.

        And, because we are not the brightest of species, we tend to think that the creation of language represents and advancement over other species, when the truth is quite the contrary.

          1. diptherio

            Sure I’ve got evidence.

            For instance, this experiment:

            Marzluff began three decidedly theatrical experiments designed to reveal just how much attention crows paid to human faces. Working at five different sites in and around Seattle with resident flocks, Marzluff first had researchers record how the birds reacted when they walked by wearing several rubber masks-including one of Cheney and another craggy visage they dubbed the “caveman.” Some weeks later, a trapper wearing one selected mask—the caveman, for instance—moved in with a net launcher and captured and marked seven to 15 crows. Then, for nearly three more years, masked researchers periodically revisited the sites–often mixing with large crowds of other pedestrians—and again recorded how the crows reacted.

            The results were stark, the researchers report in the current issue of Animal Behaviour: Crows don’t forget the face of the person who trapped them. Prior to trapping, for instance, less than 5% of the crows scolded the person wearing the “dangerous” caveman mask used in some experiments. After trapping, however, up to two-thirds of the birds would become upset when they saw the dangerous mask and start scolding, mobbing, and dive-bombing the wearer. And it didn’t matter who wore the mask; the birds appeared to ignore differences in age, height, gender, ethnicity and walking gait-they just focused on the faces. In contrast, the birds essentially ignored researchers wearing “neutral” masks not associated with trapping-such as Dick Cheney’s rubber double. “For once, Dick Cheney got to play the nice guy,” Marzluff jokes about the controversial former vice president. “We decided to give [him] a break.”

            We humans think we’re special. We think we’re God’s gift to the world. The big lie started with the old Middle Eastern monotheistic religions, and continued into our modern sensibility wearing the guise of science. Science got rid of God but maintained the belief in the uniqueness and superiority of the human race (and its “right” to dominion over the planet). However, since God was no longer seen as adequate proof of this proposition, some new proof had to be found.

            First it was our tool use that made us special…but then we found monkeys and birds who also made and used tools. Then we decided it was our language…but Cetaceans proved that wrong as well. They’re still looking for the proof of our superiority, having already assumed it in the absence of evidence.

            But when I look around, it always seems to be humans who are fracking things up for everybody. We’ve figured out how to turn beautiful, thriving ecosystems into barren, smoldering wastelands…and we count that as progress and proof of our superiority. We needlessly destroy non-renewable resources so that we might have things which we do not need and rarely appreciate…and we call this civilization and advancement.

            We are different from animals in only one way…we think that we are special. Not all humans have behaved in this way, but we sure do.

            1. optimader

              “unlike other animals, humans have mostly lost the ability to communicate directly mind to mind”

              Is this why crows are not allowed to play high-stakes poker in Casinos?

                  1. optimader

                    Referring to the notion of “communicate directly mind to mind”..
                    Heckle: “Jeckle, he’s bluffing!, looks like you should double down, I’ll be right back I see a bowl of peanuts, over. ”
                    Jeckle: “Thanks Heckle, just don’t poop an the roulette wheel again when you fly over there, we’re already attracting attention, over”

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      I think the next time you see a crow at the airport with no walkie talkie, but seemingly engaging in some sort of mind-to-mind communication, it’s time to put on that false moustache and a real dark pair of thick eyeglasses.

                    2. optimader

                      Beef
                      “I think the next time you see a crow at the airport with no walkie talkie, but seemingly engaging in some sort of mind-to-mind communication”… you know you’ve dropped enough acid
                      .
                      “it’s time to put on that false moustache and a real dark pair of thick eyeglasses.”

                      This was a great NOVA episode considered how that series has been for the most part dumbed down to the point of being objectionable.

            2. Benjamin

              The simple fact we can formulate the question “are we special?” indicates that, yes, we are. You talk about devolution and the supposed superiority of other animals, when our nearest ape relatives spend much of their time throwing their own shit at each other and consistently failing to even get around to discovering fire.

              Of course you’re also a guy arguing that telepathy is actually a real thing. Over time I’m coming to realize how much of the blogs commentariat appears to be genuinely unhinged.

              1. AbyNormal

                Bengie says: Over time I’m coming to realize how much of the blogs commentariat appears to be genuinely unhinged.

                “What often does promote evil behavior is the lazy, nasty habit of believing that generalizations have anything at all to do with individuals.”
                David Brin

                1. Benjamin

                  ‘Bengie’

                  Yeah, screw you too. And I said many, not all. I’m not generalizing, I could name plenty of specific people and why they seem to be insane and/or stupid, but that would amount to a hitlist and just make me look like a douche. I could also name the three or four regular posters actually worth paying attention too.

                  Actually I think I’ll just refrain from even looking at this blogs comment section at all in the future and rely on it solely for the main posts. Adios. I know no one will miss me.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Evidence: Calling ourselves Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

            That act itself is evidence.

            Because what we are is best left to impartial observers – like cats or vegetables, who have no, or at least less, conflict of interest to observe and name what we are.

          3. Crazy Horse

            Actually theories don’t require evidence. Theories require a logical formulation that allows them in principle to be tested by evidence. Even in the case where no means of testing is known at the time of formulation they are no less theories. (See the history of theories about wave/particle duality that form the core of quantum mechanics.)

            Only in the “science” of economics do theories never have to correspond to empirical evidence. LOL

            And in the US, blind belief or hopium is readily substituted for the scientific method. The general populace no more understands the scientific method of explaining empirical reality than they understand the religious dogmas, consumerist programing, and blind nationalism that motivate them.

        1. Fíréan

          @ diptherio.
          I agree with you, though I will not share my reasons for why.
          Collective consciousness, albeit subconscious in humans, has been well studied.

        2. Whistling in the Dark

          Re: Devolution, human exceptionalism and all the rest OR, as long as we are trotting out our pet theories, here is one not-too-well-groomed, but seems like a promising little guy:

          What is a human, as an animal? We are likely unique in the animal kingdom for this reason: we are capable of self-deception. We evolved this trait because it is superior in a competitive social situation to the more run-of-the-mill variety of deception, since it enables, in principle, the agent to thoroughly conceal their own intentions: to wit, they are concealed even from themselves and, as such, do not give themselves away too easily. The mechanism for this is two-fold: Well, on the one hand, humans need some sort of capacity to create a firewall of information between the agent (one must posit the existence of such, which is explained from an evolutionary standpoint as a random-action generator–like a random number generator for choices–a generator of choice functions, is probably a better way of putting it) and the executor, or the immediate processes of action (one must differentiate action conceptually from choice, it seems) But!–while there needs to be way of encrypting information for transfer between the agent and the executive, lest the agent spontaneously bungle various plans by feeding the executor some stupid bit of honesty, a transfer still needs to take place, so that the agent can perform its useful task. Let’s see, so is this making any sense? Evolution recruits an agent (yeah, beats me how this is accomplished), which we shall call a generator of choice functions, so that the organism can incorporate random decisions into the various protocols which it is constantly preparing for future action: Indeed, it is important to observe that all animals are capable of planning for the future in various ways, for instance, by developing complex protocols for behavior through practice. One of the most important ways in which an animal practices is through dreams. ! Now, perhaps all this inarticulately articulated stuff can be tested (foggy on the details) by pursuing a certain strategy, an hypothesis concerning the different ways in which humans and non-human animals dream: While it is important for all animals’ dreams to vanish upon awakening lest they (occasionally they do) interfere with waking experiences, humans have evolved an especially robust suppression mechanism for their dreams and, in particular, for the protocols encoded in them: When humans remember their dreams, and actually the majority are not accessible or remembered upon awakening, the content that is recalled has usually been successfully encoded in a manner difficult for the working consciousness to parse and decode. (Well, I don’t know if there is a test there, exactly.) And what exactly is the point of this coding system anyway? Well, again, the whole point of deception and, further, self-deception, is for playing social games, for social competition. While the agent (random-action generator) is invited to participate in the conduct of these games (random action is important, I would think, for games) the agent is not intended to have working knowledge of various protocols for behavior — among and within the make-up of which a choice is sometimes asked for on the part of the agent! Instead, they are imbued with a “feel” or, perhaps more commonly, a linguistic tag. Now, it is actually still possible for cooperation between self-deceived agents. You see, human language enables the transfer of encoded (linguistically, symbolically) messages from one interiority to another. This code not only permits the transfer but ensures its concealment from the blundering, intelligent agents; revelation of the group motives is just as costly as revelation of individual ones, and hence we have group self-deception, as well. (Thus, a theory of language.) Now, there may also be an evolutionary record of the “prior” state of man before this latter development: human musicality may be a remnant, which has been co-opted only partially, perhaps, of the means of communication for a human-like ancestor who did not have the capacity for self-deception. This (and further?) evolutionary residue can be pointed to as the source of various myths of Eden. Music, that is to say, may have been a more forthright form of communication; this is not to say it wasn’t used in the way many animals use communication, for deception, albeit imperfectly due to their inner knowledge which is inadvertently expressed or revealed in various ways; music is meant to be a reliable indicator of inner state; overriding its truthfulness (inauthentic musical expression, one might say) constitutes deception, but one which is more easily detected than a thoroughly self-deceptive ploy: music is not engineered to this end; language is. (There may be a test in there somewhere.)

          Anyway, don’t sell human-animals sort, because this, if it is right, is a pretty neat trick. After all, and to become a bit self-serving and mean with my theory: it may only be that you want to denigrate the human animal because of certain protocols which you have consciously and subconsciously (yes, it is an evolutionary theory of the subconscious — aren’t we due for one?) adopted, and which you are currently recruiting and networking on behalf of: that is, this denigration is an image or tag for an underlying behavioral set which you and your cohort have subconsciously agreed upon or are in the process of hammering out, etc. Just a theory, and I don’t really care if you agree or not, since what can I do about that, and what can you do about me? Nothing.

  4. D. Mathews

    “Last week, Costa Rica declared a ‘banana emergency’ due to an outbreak of insects that feed on the fruit and leave unsightly blemishes. Though the attacked bananas are still edible, they are not AESTHETICALLY SUITABLE for export…” And so to counter this, Costa Rica is using pesticides and biological control! Ridiculous, as far as I’m concerned. And that is why I prefer (and am fortunate enough) to grow my own bananas. They don’t look half as good as the store bought ones and some of them mature while still green, so they are definitely not aesthetically pleasing according to the commercial standard, but they often taste better and I rest assured they will never have residue pesticides or chemicals on them, since I don’t use such poisons on any of my fruit trees or plants.

  5. DakotabornKansan

    In 1838, Charles Darwin came to the London Zoo to visit Jenny, its first orangutan. Darwin was profoundly moved by the experience, struck by Jenny’s understanding and emotional engagement with her keeper.

    Darwin in his notebook wrote:

    “Let man visit Ouranoutang in domestication, hear expressive whine, see its intelligence when spoken (to); as if it understands every word said – see its affection. – to those it knew. – see its passion & rage, sulkiness, & very actions of despair; … and then let him boast of his proud preeminence. Man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work, worthy the interposition of a deity. More humble and I believe true to consider him created from animals.”

    Threatened bananas…

    There is another threat spreading in the tropics. It is the palm farms. Vast tropical forests are being razed to make way for the palm farms. Any species in their way perish.

    Extinction is likely in the next 10 years for Sumatran Orangutans and soon after for Bornean Orangutans. A massive amount of suffering is being inflicted on this species that is 97% genetically identical to humans.

    There are vast human rights issues with palm oil as well:

    “The human costs of the palm oil boom, however, have been largely overlooked… Among the estimated 3.7 million workers in the industry are thousands of child laborers and workers who face dangerous and abusive conditions. Debt bondage is common, and traffickers who prey on victims face few, if any, sanctions from business or government officials.”

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-18/indonesias-palm-oil-industry-rife-with-human-rights-abuses.

    Yes, man in his arrogance thinks himself a great work.

    1. diptherio

      It is my firm belief that humans did NOT evolve from apes…we DEVOLVED. We got so stupid that we’ve figured out how to destroy the biome upon which all things depend for survival. We’re so moronic that we have twin epidemics of homelessness AND abandoned properties and we can’t figure out what to do about either of them. No ape would ever be that dumb. No ape ever devised a system whereby a few control most everything while the greater number are left to poverty and near-starvation. And if some ape ever did, the other apes wouldn’t be dumb enough to go along with it. We’re so brilliant that we’ve invented total war and nuclear weapons.

      We are a species of IMBECILES; the sooner we admit that, the better it will be for everyone and everything on this planet.

      1. craazyman

        I think you may be romanticizing apes.

        I went to the Bronx zoo once and watched a little ape jump up and down screeching beside his mama ape. She didn’t even look at him.

        Instead, she smacked him with a backhand that sent him rolling like a wheel at least 15 feet.

        Everybody laughed. But me. I saw an injustice and a tragedy. If I was the zookeeper that mama ape would be cleaning the men’s room floor for a week with a sponge.

        1. diptherio

          And tell me, what geniuses had the bright idea of keeping other animals confined in zoos? If you got locked up by another species for life, you might end up with some unsavory personality characteristics too.

          We are cruel, ignorant, and arrogant. The Zoo (any zoo) is a display of all these things. We have DEVOLVED from other animals…and we’re too damn stupid to realize it.

            1. craazyman

              Sure Emma, I bet you’re a monkey expert. If monkeys could, they’d have a human zoo and you’d be in it, laying on a chaise lounge with a vodka tonic beside a fake swimming pool under a lamp on the ceiling painted to look like the sun. The monkeys would file by gazing in wonder at your bare skin. You’d have a little cot behind the pool to sleep on each night where they’d give you a continental breakfast in the morning. If they were nice, they’d give you internet. There might be some “save the whales” monkeys who’d want to let you out into the wild, back to New Yawk or someplace like that. But the cage might be better than someplaces they could send you. It’s a weird thought. Glad it’s only joke or it wouldnt’ be funny.

              1. craazyboy

                Whenever I go to the zoo, I feel like the one being observed.

                One time I went to the monkey section and this orangutan wandered over and sat right across the fence from me and quietly looked up and stared at me. Then she looked over to my left as something else got her attention.

                I turned to see what it was and saw a zoo staff person. He made this hand signal and I heard a dog bark, right where the orangutan was supposed to be.

                I turned back in surprise, only to see the orangutan still sitting there. The orangutan saw my reaction and made her oo oo monkey laugh.

                Never assume whom is entertaining whom when going to the zoo.

                1. susan the other

                  I always get that feeling too. And the feeling that they understand their circumstances and are not unhappy. Remember the tigers in the San Diego zoo who were well behaved captives until some idiot taunted them at which point one (or both?) tiger easily jumped a fence that had kept him confined for years, and ate the guy.

                2. LucyLulu

                  When I was a kid, some jerk was taunting a gorilla at Crandall Park Zoo in Miami. The gorilla reached down and picked up a pile of s**t, flung it through the air, hitting the source of the ape’s irritation. For the gorilla-bully, it was probably permanent behavior modification. For us lucky kids, it was a moment of unforgettable entertainment.

                  I don’t know if Crandall Park is still around. They’ve since built Miami Metro Zoo. Newer zoos are more expansive and the brochures claim that the animals are free and the people are enclosed, though at least some older small zoos still exist. The animals probably do find the mega-zoos like craazyman describes, a high class community of leisure. For example, lionesses have been liberated from having to spend long hours hunting for dinner while the males watch football, then being relegated to eat the leftovers.

        2. Tim Mason

          E. O. Wilson : “I suspect that if hamadryas baboons had nuclear weapons, they would destroy the world in a week.” (On Human Nature)

          Baboons are the Arizonian militia of the ape kingdom, but chimpanzees can get pretty nasty too: cannibalism, murder and inter-group warfare are all in the mix. And as for langurs …

            1. Tim Mason

              I have a shed out the back full of planks. Which one do you want me to examine?

              Yes, humans can be a sorry lot. But our cousins are quite capable of nastiness. Craazyman’s point holds.

              As for language, I rather like Dunbar’s idea; it’s a substitute for nit-picking .

                1. optimader

                  Bottom line Chimps eat there own feces.

                  By the same token we have people that eat at McDonalds. :o/
                  Worse yet, we have the Morons that buy a bag-full of that crap at the airport and inexplicably wait until they get on a plane to eat it.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                If it’s Dunbar’s number, then it explains a lot of paradoxes, like for example, if you set up a position of limited powers, over time, as the population grows beyond a reasonable number, that limited position can become quite powerfully unlimited, though no human candidates have kept up evolving spiritually and wisdom-wise to handle it. Politicians are simply given bigger powers without ‘earning’ them.

                And we say, everyone is free to speak, but when everyone speaks, at the same time, no one is heard. So, it is, everyone is free to speak, but only one at a time. But that’s impossible in a society of 1million people, much less 1 billion. So, again, another paradox as we go beyond the limit of Dunbar’s number(s) (I suspect different numerical values for different situations). In a village, in one evening, we can hear what everyone wants to say and still have time left over for a mother to teach her baby ape martial arts with a backhand smack that will send the kid rolling through the village square. But instead, we have to rely on ‘experts’ to brainwash us.

      2. different clue

        No, only modern civilization economic-growth man is a society/culture of imbeciles. There was no imbecility at work in the Indian Terraforming of the Amazon pre-contact, for example.

      3. different clue

        You mistake industrial modern-civ economic-growth man for man in general. Indian Terraforming of the Amazon pre-contact indicates wisdom at work, for example.

          1. diptherio

            True. Not all humans have acted this way, but we do. And I have been known to sometimes make overly broad statements merely for the sake of effect. And when reading my comments, its probably good to keep in mind that I adhere to the Discordian belief that (to quote the sainted Robert A. Wilson):

            “All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, true and false and meaningless in some sense…and if you repeat this to yourself 666 times you will obtain enlightenment…in some sense.”

      4. Bridget

        “We’re so moronic that we have twin epidemics of homelessness AND abandoned properties and we can’t figure out what to do about either of them. No ape would ever be that dumb. ”

        That one drives me me ape too!

  6. Jim Haygood

    The MSM finally discovers what Lambert has been telling us for months now:

    If you’re 55 or over, Medicaid can come back after you’re dead and bill your estate for ordinary health-care expenses.

    Health insurance via Medicaid is hardly “free” for Washington residents 55 or older. It’s a loan, one whose payback requirements aren’t well advertised.

    Medicaid, in keeping with federal policy, has long tapped into estates. But because most low-income adults without disabilities could not qualify for typical medical coverage through Medicaid, recovery primarily involved expenses for nursing homes and other long-term care.

    Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the politically conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, writing in the The Washington Times, called the recovery provision “a cash cow for states to milk the poor and the middle class.”

    “People will think this is wonderful, this is free insurance,” Orient said in an interview. “They don’t realize it’s really a loan, and is secured by any property they have.” Even states that are now limiting estate recovery, she warned, can change the rules again if budget problems become more intense.

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022469957_medicaidrecoveryxml.html

    ————

    As a whole generation of student loan debtors have discovered, the fedgov is the most merciless of usurers. Being exempt from its own FTC rules against deceptive advertising, it sucks in its victims with inadequate disclosures and then hounds them to the grave and beyond. The wise will keep their distance from this kneecapping mafia.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      Exactly true. I ran up $30,000 in bills for a week’s stay in Baltimore hospital last February. Applied for Medicaid – at the urging of the hospital, who hired Fred London, attorney (and staff) to smooth the way. The state asked for power of attorney. I said, What? No response. No explanation. (Don’t get me started on what my brother did to my mother with power of attorney.)

      See the Washington state Medicaid policy here: http://www.hca.wa.gov/medicaid/manual/Lists/WAC/ExtDispForm.aspx?ID=314

      So let me understand this. If I had some money I could get a discounted rate, but as I have no money, then whatever my estate amounts to will be taken away wholesale? Isn’t Obamacare wonderful!

  7. don

    The author of Did Someone Say “Crash”? says the lack of investing in producing more is due to lack of consumer demand, which is due to declining wages, which is due to lack of creation of new jobs, which is due to a lack of investments in production. A circular argument if there ever was one.

    Rather, the lack of investment in capital expansion is due to global overcapacity, since there are little profits to be made in investing in increased production. That being the case, why invest surplus capital in producing more of what isn’t needed when one can invest in ‘paper’ assets.

    1. susan the other

      Good point. Except that investing in production requires innovation – transformational technology – as in the recap to the Steve Keen post today. Transformational tech can revive a crashed bubble when the bubble is not systemic. But some new silicon valley gadget is not gonna revive this economy. Everything has to change now. I think it will require the equivalent of our present GDP in investments to change capitalism into a sustainable tool. And if it looks like capitalism refuses to give up its exorbitant gains, then it will be capitalism itself that does not survive.

    1. rich

      How many actually pay their state income taxes?

      Wealthy N.Y. Residents Escape Tax With Trusts in Nevada

      Wealthy Americans looking to avoid state income taxes are moving billions of dollars in assets to trusts in no-tax states such as Delaware, Nevada and Alaska.

      The maneuvers are getting fresh scrutiny from officials in states including New York, which is losing an estimated $150 million a year through such tax avoidance. As fewer Americans pay the estate tax and top earners in New York and California owe more state income taxes, wealth planners say their clients are looking for new ways to escape those levies.

      Lipkind said he’s moved as little as $700,000 and as much as $500 million. “You scratch your head and say, ’Why pay if we don’t have to?’”
      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-18/wealthy-n-y-residents-escape-tax-with-trusts-in-nevada.html

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Whatever happened to the sure things in life?

        You mean some people can avoid taxes?

        And by spreading the cost around (that is, taxpayer funded research), the rich might just avoid death..long enough, because, well, you know, that taxpayer funded research might show there is a way, but it’s so costly, that only a billionaire could afford it. But thanks to taxpayers funding the billion dollar + research, the billionaires get to spare their billions, so they can spend it on something really useful…buying immortality using the result of taxpayer funded research.

      2. EmilianoZ

        Nevada… When I wikipediad Pierre Omidyar, the ebay tycoon soon to be owner of Greenwald and his secret trove, I was surprised to find his residence listed as Henderson, Nevada:

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

        But we shouldn’t draw conclusions too rapidly. This would be unworthy of us. Maybe he just loves the scrubby Nevadan desert.

  8. Andrew W

    RE: President Obama’s NSA review group is typical administration whitewash

    It’s unfortunate to see a liberal/progressive like Ms. Wheeler resort to such a fatalistic attitude. I’m guessing the review group’s official report is being re-written given the discrepancy in reporting between various news outlets. The report must have been unacceptable to the intelligence community technically led by Director Clapper. I fail to see how the panel was a whitewash if this was a step that the White House felt it had to take. In any case these issues are not going to die that easily with so many people concerned about them.

    The most significant development of the review panel’s alleged report is the separation of the Information Assurance Group from the NSA fold. It’s unlikely that the military’s Cyber Command and the NSA’s civilian efforts will ever be divorced. Their goals are similar in the internet age and any divorce would be self-defeating as their individual successes would be wasted through bureaucratic inertia, lack of expertise, shortage of personnel, and other factors. Despite being an unrealistic goal it was still an issue worth exposing to public scrutiny.

    The Information Assurance Group’s independence from the NSA would provide an effective check on the power of the NSA/Cyber Command’s efforts. Their mission runs directly counter to military and civilian intrusion/surveillance efforts. The development of counter tactics/measures was more than likely undermined by the cross purpose of the NSA’s primary focus. It’s likely their efforts would be expanded as an independent agency even if they were under the administrative supervision of Homeland Security. These actions have a solid basis in both countering outside electronic threats as well as expanding efforts to safeguard innocent people’s privacy.

  9. Andrew Watts

    Uh, my original post didn’t go through. Hopefully this will work!

    RE: President Obama’s NSA review group is typical administration whitewash

    It’s unfortunate to see a liberal/progressive like Ms. Wheeler resort to such a fatalistic attitude. I’m guessing the review group’s official report is being re-written given the discrepancy in reporting between various news outlets. The report must have been unacceptable to the intelligence community technically led by Director Clapper. I fail to see how the panel was a whitewash if this was a step that the White House felt it had to take. In any case these issues are not going to die that easily with so many people concerned about them.

    The most significant development of the review panel’s alleged report is the separation of the Information Assurance Group from the NSA fold. It’s unlikely that the military’s Cyber Command and the NSA’s civilian efforts will ever be divorced. Their goals are similar in the internet age and any divorce would be self-defeating as their individual successes would be wasted through bureaucratic inertia, lack of expertise, shortage of personnel, and other factors. Despite being an unrealistic goal it was still an issue worth exposing to public scrutiny.

    The Information Assurance Group’s independence from the NSA would provide an effective check on the power of the NSA/Cyber Command’s efforts. Their mission runs directly counter to military and civilian intrusion/surveillance efforts. The development of counter tactics/measures was more than likely undermined by the cross purpose of the NSA’s primary focus. It’s likely their efforts would be expanded as an independent agency even if they were under the administrative supervision of Homeland Security. These actions have a solid basis in both countering outside electronic threats as well as expanding efforts to safeguard innocent people’s privacy.

    1. Hugh

      The panel/commission model is essentially a dodge to deflect blame and simulate action while delaying action. The truth is that Obama could have fired Clapper and Alexander and issued Executive Orders restricting NSA activities on his own. He did not need to wait for a panel filled with Administration yes-men to do this. Indeed the whole kabuki of the panel is so he won’t have to do this. If there are any hiccups in this process, well that is likely second term fatigue. I mean look how badly Obama screwed up his launch of Obamacare.

      1. Andrew Watts

        The panel and it’s report is a learning opportunity covering areas that Snowden’s disclosures have not. It might be a delaying tactic but I don’t agree with you that it’s pure kabuki. No political consensus has emerged about what to do about the broader implications posed by electronic warfare. As it was only quite recently that the topic of mass surveillance was brought up alongside the discussion of cyber war. This area of inquiry will have to covered if reform efforts are to be taken seriously. As well as the role the private sector has played in all this.

        Beyond Obama’s passive-aggressive ownership of this controversy, a democrat president isn’t likely to get his/her way with the military unless there is a broad base of support among the American people and the political classes. The squabbling and various leaks within the Establishment have demonstrated that we’re not very close to that point being reached.

        As for firing Alexander/Clapper it would be unfair to either of their successors to be attributed with the fallout that was a result of their previous decisions. Alexander is already on his way out and Clapper is too much fun to kick around. Although I doubt Wyden is going to be doing his irascible constituents any more favors for the conceivable future.

  10. down2long

    Jamie Dimon relased his thumb in the eye Christmas card yersterday with photo featuring him flashing great smile as he bats tennis ball around the living room of his brownstone, three female spawm huddle together in awe of the great man, and his wife roars with laughter. Mid crop is another female life form – not sure what that’s about..

    The caption (oh the irony from such a heartless pusbag from hell): “All you need ius love. I think there is an asterisk which leads to a footnore “Love of money.”

    CNBC calls card “offbeat”. The really LOVE Jamie over there in the idot box. http://www.cnbc.com/id/101280518

  11. Expat

    Re: Dozens of Sailors From USS Ronald Reagan Suffering From Cancer After Japan Earthquake Assistance

    This important issue was reported by the wonderful journalist Roger Witherspoon last January (See http://www.rogerwitherspoon.com/pdfs/energy/fukishima-prt1.pdf, http://www.rogerwitherspoon.com/pdfs/energy/fukishima-prt2.pdf, http://www.rogerwitherspoon.com/pdfs/energy/fukishima-prt3.pdf, and http://www.rogerwitherspoon.com/pdfs/energy/fukishima-prt4.pdf ). He was interviewed in March by Ian Mastesr, accessed at http://ianmasters.com/sites/default/files/mp3/bbriefing_2013_03_13b_roger%20witherspoon.mp3

    In addition to a riveting story of the peril endured by these American sailors, Witherspoon’s is a cautionary tale applicable to all of us. The chief reason the USS Ronald Reagan was put in danger was because the captain relied on advice from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which parroted patently absurd industry propaganda about the behaviour of radiation in the event of a catastrophe (“accident,” in their terms). According to the industry, radiation spurts from a damaged plant in a narrow straight line for about ten miles at which point it disperses into a harmless cloud. Really. So if you are not in the direct path of the plume, you are, according to the NRC, out of danger. Of course, radiation is a gas and emerges as a cloud. Witherspoon reports the plain evidence otherwise. And these sailors are bearing the deadly consequences.

    Incidentally, if you are wondering about the efficacy of evacuation plans in case of an emergency at one of the US’s 100 or so nuclear power plants, former commissioner Jazko has stated that these plans were never intended for the safety of the millions people living in the shadow of these plants but rather to help officials make decisions. Another Witherspoon article, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roger-witherspoon/former-nrc-chair-emergenc_b_4060780.html , spells out the gory details.

    1. optimader

      “””Radiation does not spread in a homogeneous mix,” said
      Lochbaum. “There are hot spots and low spots and nobody knows who is in a high zone or in
      a low zone. Who knows what the actual radiation dose to an individual is? There are no measurements of what they consumed in water and food”””

      Some people just dont get this.
      Nor do they get the relevant implication of radiation intensity being inverse proportional to distance –when distance is reduced to 0 (like inhaling a particle.)
      The overall radiation average intensity maybe “acceptably low” in an environment until you unfortunately inhale/consume a particle that is retained in your tissue.

      1. craazyboy

        Once in your body, it’s not only intensity vs distance, but the same nearby cells are continuously irradiated because the particle attaches to certain cell receptors and doesn’t go anywhere – then these cells get the DNA damage that begins the formation of a cancer tumor.

        The ingested case is sooo much different than the “external exposure” case.

        Plus you get the concentration via the food chain same as with all other toxins.

  12. ScottS

    Harvard Bomb Hoax Perpetrator Caught Despite Tor Use Slashdot

    The headline gets it wrong. The hoaxster was caught because he used Tor.
    From http://www.wbur.org/2013/12/18/pdf-criminal-complaint-harvard-bomb-threat :

    9. Harvard University was able to determine that, in the several hours leading up to the receipt of the e-mail messages described above, ELDO KIM accessed TOR using Harvard’s wireless network.

    This was, according to the affidavit, the only lead used before they knocked on Kim’s door. They didn’t even have to show that his Tor session IP address was the one that sent the email.
    The affidavit also specifically says that information irrelevant to prosecuting Kim is left out. So we can infer that the FBI probably knocked on the door of everyone who used Tor.
    So simply using Tor is suspicious, and Harvard’s IT can tell if you use Tor.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I said that a LONG time ago, pretty much as soon as the Snowden revelations started.

      Using Tor is like waving a big red flag at the NSA and FBI.

  13. different clue

    I tried reading the USS Reagan article 5 separate times and the forced-viewing ad came on each time. I could find no way to remove that ad which cut off the entire left side of the article. So I gave up trying. But I will remember the hateful company which posted that can’t-remove-it/won’t-go-away ad.

      1. LucyLulu

        Yep, iffy. There are contradictions between versions released by different outlets and some details raise more questions than they answer. For example, the sailors point out they don’t blame the Navy, yet the USS Reagan is nuclear-powered. This means the ship comes with staff with expertise in avoiding exposure, and monitoring equipment and use of dosimeters in the region of the ship around the engine. Surely the navy knows what the exposure rates were on the ship. One article said that commissioned officers were given iodine but not the crew???? One article focused on sailors experiencing signs of radiation sickness. From what I could tell, the decontamination sailor in the article above is the only sailor who did not experience a time lag of months before developing symptoms. Radiation sickness is an acute illness, unlike cancer, and symptoms develop within a day or two at most. OTOH, experience from prior exposures has shown that cancer will experience time lags of 10-20 years, with the exception of some juvenile thyroid cancers. Knowing how the cancer incidence of the crew compares to a random group of similar size and demographics would be helpful.

        I’m deferring judgment on the legitimacy of the claims pending more information but they warrant skepticism. If these sailors really are sick, they have legitimate claims against the US Navy for failure to monitor conditions and put appropriate protections in place, IMO…… and better chances of collecting from the US Navy.

  14. Glenn Condell

    The new website looks good (though I was quite happy with the old one) but two things – on the iPhone 4 the font is smaller even when you double tap to optimise, and on the iMac (10.6.8) I find that comments responding to comments responding to comments become thinner and thinner until there is a single vertical line of letters down the screen. You may have addressed these things, sorry if I missed it.

    1. Elliot

      The skinnifying of comment replies can be dealt with by resizing down the window; perhaps it’s caused by a bug in the re-sizing for mobile code. Curiously though, viewing in a smaller window also makes the reply box huge, and needing a horizontal scroll bar.

Comments are closed.