Links 3/26/14

Dear patient readers,

We may appear to be one post short today, but fear not! We have a biggie launching after Links, a bit before noon, so be sure to check back then.


Night sky as Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies merge earthsky

What does the Facebook Oculus deal mean for Kickstarter? CNET

Minecraft Creator Kills Oculus Rift Plans Because Facebook Creeps Him Out Forbes. Lambert: “Second example of Kickstarter investor who found themselves funding a Facebook acquisition.”

Hackers Sell Exploits for Bitcoins in Underground Market Bloomberg

Amid sweeping plains, a land bubble MacroBusiness. Oof, a land bubble is a sign of real speculative mania.

China’s struggle for a new economy Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Framework for Analyzing Risks of Chinese Shadow Banking Triple Crisis

PBoC steps in to calm China bank run Financial Times

Cash-sucking ‘vampire’ funds latest threat to China’s volatile banking system Bloomberg. This suggests that the widely-held view in the West, that China’s financial system is tightly controlled and hence crash-proof, is a tad dated.

China Corruption Reporting Becoming Impossible; JPMorgan Banker In China Resigns Amidst Probe DSWright, Firedoglake (Carol B)

N Korea fires mid-range missiles BBC

ECB Set to Mull Heavier Stimulus Wall Street Journal. Um, haven’t we learned that the central bank flavor of stimulus just gooses asset prices?

Despite Effort’s to Undermine and Discredit 22M Mobilizations in Madrid, the Fight Carries On Revolution News (Deontos)

Pari Passu VIPs and Mexico’s CAC Gravitas Credit Slips


Hot Air About American Gas Will Not Scare Putin Council on Foreign Relations

Capital controls feared in Russia after $70bn flight Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Europe Doesn’t Need America’s Fracked Gas Dean Baker, Counterpunch (Carol B)

Showdown in Ukraine: Putin’s Quest for Ports, Oil, Pipelines and Gas OilPrice. Much better and more balanced than its title.

Obamacare Launch

Exchanges With Private Insurers Is a Wasteful Way to Increase Benefits Jon Walker, Firedoglake. Read the post. The comparatively bland headline masks the appallingly high level of skimming by intermediaries.

White House Gives Americans Extra Time to Sign Up for Obamacare Time. A de facto admission that they aren’t getting the sign-ups they wanted. “Last minute rush” is the cover.

Justices sound ready to reject contraceptives mandate under Obamacare Los Angeles Times. Notice gender split.

Birth control, business, and religious beliefs: In Plain English ScotusBlog

A Week of Oil Spills OilPrice

FBI informant sparked probe of Onondaga County Legislature chairman’s firm two years ago Another mortgage fraud investigation of small fry. Help me.

Tell the SEC: Require Corporations to Disclose Campaign Spending Move.on. This is by Jeff Merkeley and is a good idea, so please sign!

UPDATE 1-Not foregone conclusion Fed will adopt US repo facility -Plosser Reuters

NY Fed finds big banks enjoy ‘subsidy’ Financial Times. Duh.

Goldman Sachs’ Outrageous Scheme to Profit Off Jailed Young Offenders Alternet (1 SK). A must read.

Why Is S&P Data About To Disappear From The Best Economics Website In The World? Business Insider. More FRED tooth-gnashing.

The Risk of Stock-Market Vertigo Wolf Richter

Trish Regan, Einhorn apologist Felix Salmon

Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart receives welfare loan from US taxpayers HangTheBankers (1 SK)

Self Help is No Help When it Comes to Inequality Helaine Olen, Reuters

The chartbook of economic inequality VoxEU

College Senior Already Has Grueling 14-Month Employment Search Lined Up After Graduation Onion

FORCES OF DIVERGENCE John Cassidy, New Yorker. More on inequality.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


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  1. kimyo

    Nearly a dozen Hanford employees sick from unknown fumes

    Hanford sources tell the KING 5 Investigators that at least 11 people have gotten sick in the last six days after breathing in toxic fumes while working near underground tanks holding hazardous nuclear waste. At this point, employees do not know the source or sources of the vapors.

    The first two workers to fall ill in the last week breathed in fumes that “tasted like copper” on Wednesday, March 19. The men work for the government contractor Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) which is in charge of all 177 underground tanks at the nuclear site. To date, both are still suffering effects of breathing in the vapors: headache, chest pain, difficulty breathing, nose bleeds and sore throats. One employee has coughed up blood.

    Sources who work in this area of Hanford tell KING it is unknown exactly what the employees ingested into their lungs, but that this is “extremely unusual” to have symptoms persist this long.

    1. diptherio

      From the article:

      One problem with these analyses is that they are based on correlations between levels of inequality and variables like life expectancy or the odds of poor children climbing the income ladder. But such correlations can’t prove inequality causes other social ills. They can’t disentangle inequality from the myriad things pushing American society this way and that.

      So now they remember there’s a difference between correlation and causation. Predictably, when it’s necessary to cover their own @$$es. I wonder if Mr. Jenks makes the same argument about the effects of minimum-wage increases or gov’t debt?

      A shortened version of the article would read: “Most economists, sociologists and psychologists recognize that extreme inequality is harmful to societies and individuals. But this one guy doesn’t agree, so we’re gonna make the story about him.

    2. craazyman

      Hugh I think this is a case of brain damage. That’s what I’ve noticed about extreme inequality, it creates brain damage across most of society — delusional thinking, narcissism, devastating self-doubt, grandiosity, hubris, hypertrophic analytical asphyxiation and efflourescent vanity. In the extreme it can lead to fainting and unconsciousness.

      This individual is trapped in the delusional thinking stage, where basic reality perception becomes challenging and the patient persuades him or herself of the reality of bizarre patters of cause and effect. If there is no intervention by concerned caregivers, this can lead to a psychotic break, such as overuse of Cartesian Coordinate systems and abstract quantifications which become a complete substitute for reality. It’s a public health hazard when an organization such as the New Yack Times glorifies brain damage as a form of intellectual activity

      Many victims of inequality-induced brain damage don’t even know they are diseased and delusional. How could they since they very thing they need to understand their condition is the thing that is damaged? It’s a conundrum.

      In some cases the disease hasn’t progressed so far that a cure is impossible. If they have the presence of mind to get up out of their chair and walk outside and down the street and down the avenue and into a place with poor people and then talk to them, sometimes that can be effective therapy,

      1. skippy

        “But why on earth won’t they let us play?” That is the question that many people came away with from David Graeber’s excellent piece What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun? in The Baffler No. 24. It is indeed an interesting question and one that I have been asking myself since I began studying and practising economics. You see, while it was ethology that Graeber was discussing in his piece, it is economics that has done the most to spread this drab and depressing view of life in the humanities.

        Thomas Carlyle famously called economics the “dismal science” but the reason why he bestowed upon the discipline this title is less well-known. In his Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question he wrote of economics:

        The social science – not a “gay science”, but a rueful – which finds the secret of this universe in “supply and demand”, and reduces the duty of human governors to that of letting men alone, is also wonderful. Not a “gay science”, I should say, like some we have heard of; no, a dreary, desolate and, indeed, quite abject and distressing one; what we might call, by way of eminence, the dismal science.

        Carlyle had it basically correct. What makes economics so dismal is indeed that it reduces all human activity to the so-called ‘laws’ of supply and demand. What makes it so dangerous is that it tells those in power that the best policy is to simply leave people to engage in market transactions without any interference and utopia will result. While one can make a convincing case that supply and demand are extremely important facets of human activity, proceeding from there to reducing all human behaviour to market transactions is sheer nonsense. But unfortunately this is the direction that economics has taken since the turn of the 19th century.”

        The Enlightenment view of animals is rather instructive in this regard but in order to properly understand it we must compare it with the Enlightenment view of human beings. These views are best approached through the philosophy of René Descartes.

        “Descartes believed that human beings consisted of two separate components or ‘substances’. One of these was the body and the other was the mind. The body was simply a machine, a mechanism wholly subject to deterministic laws.”

        skippy… first there was darkness…. then light… then bi polar disorder… snicker…

        1. psychohistorian

          I have come to challenge this separation of mind and body concept. To me the mind is inexorably part of the body. I think it a fallacy to attempt to conceptualize our connection to the Cosmos as saying the mind is “outside ” our body.

          While I believe that, in some way, I am more than my body, to attempt to establish a framework about the more part is ludicrous. I have become comfortable with the not knowing more than my body and feel that by becoming more “in tune” with my body I am more in resonance with all that is not my body. I go back to the percentages written on the back of a business card I carry in my wallet that states that we currently know something about 4.6% of the Cosmos that is matter and have theories about the other 95.4%. If we know we know so little, why not focus our thoughts on understanding what we are as human bodies and extrapolate our existence in the world from that more centered place?

    3. diptherio

      And it just gets worse:

      The case against vast inequality is grounded in economic theory. It posits, quite reasonably, that making an extra $10,000 will improve the well-being of a middle-class family more than losing $10,000 will reduce the well-being of a billionaire. Provided it does not substantially reduce economic growth, this alone can support the case for redistribution.

      Uh…actually, mainstream economics does not allow for this sort of inter-personal comparison of utility. In fact, that incredible a-hole Milton Friedman once wrote an article purporting to show that the rich valued marginal dollars more than the poor (since the rich are willing to gamble large sums to attain a marginal return, while the poor are not–therefore the rich must value marginal gains more, QED [not]).

      If you try to make this argument in an econ course, you will be told that you are being inappropriately normative, and that as there is no way of comparing individual measures of utility, we must ignore the obvious fact that $10 is worth waaay more to me than to Bill Gates. “Pareto efficiency” is the actual criteria that mainstream economic theory looks to to justify redistribution: i.e. that redistribution is efficient if and only if it has the effect of improving the well-being of at least one person without decreasing the well-being of anyone else. Taking a fiver from Bill Gates and giving it to the world’s poorest person is officially a pareto-inefficient transfer, since the poor dude was made better off, but ol’ Bill is worse off.

      You’re right Hugh (as per normal), this article is awful.

        1. diptherio

          Of course, it is possible to compare marginal utilities, but the mainstream econ I was taught strictly forbids it. I was told more than once that arguments based on different individuals having differing MUYs (marginal utility of income) were not acceptable, since that required making unsupportable assumptions about utility functions. We were allowed to assume that everyone has a utility function, and that they all look basically alike, but not what one person’s utility function might be in comparison with someone else’s.

          All I’m saying is that, in my experience, the argument that “making an extra $10,000 will improve the well-being of a middle-class family more than losing $10,000 will reduce the well-being of a billionaire,” is not acceptable mainstream economic reasoning. Pointing to things like “loss aversion” to justify rejecting such an argument is, however, totally acceptable. Not saying I like it, just how things are (or where 10 years ago).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I agree with you, and so I want to emphasis that it’s possible to compare individual measures of utility.

          2. skippy

            Economic Philosophy – Joan Robinson


            PPK unpacks it nicely –

            Robinson might equally well have quoted Samuelson who in his famous textbook Economics wrote,

            What is assumed is that consumers are fairly consistent in their tastes and actions – that they do not flail around in unpredictable ways, making themselves miserable by persistent errors of judgement or arithmetic. (p78)

            Robinson doesn’t let the marginalists get away with this rather obvious blunder. She is quick to point out that this condition, one which is absolutely essential for marginalism to function, turns the theory into vacuous babble.

            We can observes the reaction of an individual to two different sets of prices only at two different times. How can we tell what part of the difference in his purchases is due to the difference in prices and what part to the change in his preferences that has taken place meanwhile? There is certainly no presumption that his character has not changed, for soap and whisky are not the only goods whose use affects tastes. Practically everything develops either an inertia of habit or a desire for change. (p51)

            This is a damning indictment of marginalist theory. It means that, in a very real sense, the framework cannot be applied to empirical material. Because it necessarily assumes fixed preferences it cannot deal with changes in these preferences. And due to this it cannot conceive, in experimental settings, of how much consumer activity responds to price fluctuations simply because it does not — and, indeed, cannot — assign any numerical value to preferences that are in a constant state of flux. Robinson continues,

            We have got one equation for two unknowns. Unless we can get some independent evidence about preferences the experiment is no good. But it was the experiment that we were supposed to rely on to observe the preferences. (p51)

            Let me just restate what Robinson has just pointed out so that people are crystal clear on this point. Marginalist doctrine claims that we cannot measure utility directly. We know of a person’s utility only due to the fact that they buy something — this is called ‘revealed preferences‘ in the literature. So, we only know the cause — i.e. the utility of a purchase — by the effect it produces — i.e. the actual purchase that is made by the consumer. If we consider preferences as being fixed then this makes some sense. But if we allow that preferences fluctuate the whole edifice falls apart because now we cannot be sure to what extent consumer decisions have changed due to price changes and to what extent they have changed due to a change in preferences.

            skippy… measuring the unmeasurable and then use a 2D graph as a visual cortex injection device… every time I see a Marginalist graph these days I can’t get the thought of – quasi religious icons – out of my thoughts. The power of the graph compels you, the power excel compels you[!!!]

    4. Glen

      Check this one out:

      America risks becoming a Downton Abbey economy
      By Lawrence Summers

      So now’s he’s concerned about the monster he helped create, and put into overdrive with the way he bailed out the Wall St banks and screwed everybody that didn’t have a thing to do with it. For supposedly being a “genius”, he seems to have neither the ability to see farther than the end of his nose, nor the balls to accept responsibility for his actions. All one sees is boatloads of IBGYBG and the morals of a psychopath.

  2. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Goldman Sachs’ Outrageous Scheme to Profit Off Jailed Young Offenders

    “When I hear “innovative financing” and Wall Street banks in the same breath, shouldn’t I be nervous?”

    I get a lot MORE nervous when I hear “cognitive behavioral therapy” and Wall Street banks in the same breath.

    How long before the headline becomes: “Lobotomies Key to Goldman Sachs’ Successful ‘Social Impact Bonds’ Investment Strategy?” Or,

    “Supreme Court Affirms Obamacare Requirement for Full Lobotomy Coverage in All Plans. No Challenge Anticipated From Green Family, Owners of Hobby Lobby?”

    1. psychohistorian

      Maybe the answer to this is crowdsourcing prosecution of the rampant corruption within the FIRE companies……you know, like a real government, by and for the people it represents (not corporations and the global plutocrats that own them), is suppose to work.

      Where is that confounded societal RESET button?

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      When I hear “innovative financing” and Wall Street banks in the same breath, I reach for my revolver.

  3. diptherio

    File Under: Contemporary Protest Music

    Pecarious Work ~Mohammad Ali

    The lyrics are good, and the production is slick and professional…but I recommend not watching the video…seriously…just don’t.

  4. David Lentini

    FRED’s Dead, Baby. FRED Is Dead

    Well, it looks like the next financial meltdown is on the way and it will not be televised. Instead, the oligarchs are making sure “there is nothing to see here” and expect that we’ll all just move along. We’ll see just how well this works. The fact that Krugman, who has gushed over FRED for years, hasn’t made a peep about the latest developments (so far as I can find anyway), just shows that all the VSPs are in on the gag.

    1. Jim Haygood

      “For some time now the St. Louis Fed has been publishing historical data without license from us,” Dave Guarino, head of communications at S&P Dow Jones Indices. S&P considers the data to be their intellectual property right which was being published without their permission.

      A more general problem for investors is that while stock index prices are available from Yahoo Finance, and bond yields from FRED, total return series (including dividends for stocks, and changes in principal values for bonds) are extremely hard to find, except via costly institutional subscriptions.

      I have advocated to the Treasury to publish total return indexes for U.S. Treasuries, but haven’t received a response. A workaround for the S&P 500 is to use historical price and dividend data for the ETF (symbol SPY) which tracks the index. SPY underperforms the official index by about 0.10% annually owing to fund expenses. But since there’s no way to own the S&P 500 directly, including expenses is more realistic anyway.

      Morningstar’s Ibbotson SBBI Classic Yearbook, available at many business libraries, provides historical returns for large-cap stocks, small-cap stocks, T-bills, T-notes and T-bonds back to 1926.

      While it takes substantial work to maintain indexes, S&P’s squalid attempt to deprive the public of data about our own financial history is extremely stupid. We could bust their greedy ass with some crowd-sourced stock and bond indexes.

  5. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Move.on/Merkeley Petition to Disclose Corporate Campaign Contributions

    This requirement is a GREAT idea. I will definitely sign.

    Except, of course, for those deeply devout corporate members of the “Our Lady of the Privacy of Campaign Contributions” church.

    In those cases, the proposed law may fun afoul of “the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a 1993 law that Congress enacted as a response to a 1990 Supreme Court decision holding that an individual’s religious beliefs do not excuse him from having to follow a law that applies to everyone.” (Quote from the SCOTUS blog article.)

    Another fine mess the apostle Bill Clinton got us into.

    So, I thought we were fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan so we didn’t have to fight them over here?

  6. Dino Reno

    Nice comment today on CNBC by Steve Liesman regarding inequality as it relates to child rearing practices between rich and poor. “The wealthy raise quality while the poor raise quantity.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The poor tend to have fewer gadgets and use fewer fancy words.

      The poor also tend to share more.

      So, maybe the poor raise quality (sharing) kids and not raise quality (gadget-wise and logorrhea-wise) kids.

  7. Eureka Springs

    I wonder what has better odds, a two dollar quick pick lottery ticket win or signing a MoveOn petition watching it ultimately become law?

    I know I would rather burn two dollars than sign yet another petition which might sound like a good idea but is nothing but (at best) canon fodder for the gossips…. full of loopholes for the targeted corps.

    How long have we the peeps known the Koch Bros spend tons of money manipulating the system? Has such knowledge led anywhere? If this petition is any indication the answer is clearly no. Merkley/MoveOn suggests who donates matters more than the corrupt fact it’s allowed at all. Classic MoveOn errr D party. Fodder for the gossips perhaps but hardly looking at solving the bribe based system itself.

    A petition with absolute language establishing equal footing – public campaign finance only with proportional multi party representation, thus banning corporations (yes unions too) from contributing to campaigns or parties at all might mean something.

    1. notexactlyhuman

      What’s the difference between MoveOn and the Tea Party? The color of their pompoms.

  8. fresno dan

    “Why was this the case? Piketty points to the American egalitarian ideal, which went along with fear of creating a hereditary aristocracy. High taxes, especially on estates, were motivated in part by “fear of coming to resemble Old Europe.” Among those who called for high estate taxation on social and political grounds was the great economist Irving Fisher.

    Just to reemphasize the point: during the Progressive Era, it was commonplace and widely accepted to support high taxes on the rich specifically in order to keep the rich from getting richer — a position that few people in politics today would dare espouse.”

    I’m glad Krugman brings this up – economics has a lot to answer for with “Pareto efficiency”
    The very idea that we can’t redistribute to a more just society is to be avoided because it will hinder “efficiency” which is pretty damn nebulous in actually measuring (efficient for who, efficient for what???), shows the real reason we should prevent excessive wealth – excessive impact on governance.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I look at all animals disappearing in the last few decades or centuries*, I imagine a good mathematician can work out some equations like:

      X number of lions must dies per 1% world GDP growth.
      Y number of whales must die per 1% world GDP growth

      And so, the efficiency here is the efficiency to cut down trees and to reduce the number of polar bears, etc.

      * Still can’ believe that gorillas are living amongst farmers now. I suppose one can find a wandering panda here or there through a Chinese smartphone factory in Szechuan.

  9. Paul Niemi

    Re: Fang Fang resigns in China, and heir-apparent Cavanaugh, etc. I don’t think I’m alone wondering what is going on with our top bank. There have also been the jumpers, and so on. Recently I walked into the local credit union, and it was a bustling place: people were lined up for half a dozen tellers, in the lobby all the desks had customers getting helped, cars were stacked three deep at the drive-up. Then I went with a friend to visit the local Chase branch to access a safe deposit box. It’s in a very nice building on a busy intersection. We walked in, and the building was empty, completely silent. We told the one lady at a teller window what we were there for, and Miss Wiggins literally got on the intercom and called Mr. Tudball, who emerged from a back room, went and sat at a desk to help us. My friend said he was an “inherited customer,” that Chase had bought his mortgage from another bank. “Yes,” said Mr. Tudball, unctuously. “Small banks can’t afford to service mortgages, and we can.” Long story short, Mr. Tudball fumbled with the keys for twenty minutes getting in the safe deposit box, not something he was used to doing. Point is, buying mortgages from other banks seems like a pretty circuitous way to obtain customers. Now it didn’t look to me like Mr. Tudball was going to climb onto the roof and jump off anytime soon, but they sure weren’t giving away any toasters at that bank.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Retail banking isn’t worthwhile for them any more; they’d rather gamble in the trading rooms.

      Nice to know the credit union was busy. There was a concerted effort a while back to drive customers away from the TBTF banks and to credit unions. Looks like it worked, at least where you are.

      1. Paul Niemi

        I try to understand phenomena, stuff I observe. In this case, I wonder about why a branch bank, ostensively with just a few employees left and hardly any use by customers, would be kept open. The building can’t be paying its own bills, it would seem. Thoughts that occur to me include the bank keeping the building open as a convenience, keeping it open because it is just too much trouble to close, keeping it open because they just don’t care if it loses some money on average, keeping it open because closing it would raise eyebrows and draw attention, or keeping it open because of internal disagreements on bank policy, inertia, or an inability or reluctance to make such decisions.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Self help…inequality.

    Maybe self help is no help against inequality…individually, but collective self-help is a different story.

    Here, if we honor ourselves, know the greatness inside each of us, we say to ourselves, we can do it, with each saying, I am the one – the one what? the one to spend money into existence – then there is no inequality we can’t overcome.

    Now, this will no work with just one person alone nor do we want to give that power to one person or one entity (the government).

    We all have to do it

    We all have to fulfill our civic duty to spend money into existence.

    This is actually a more powerful version of the professional citizen, who thusly equipped, is able to take on the professional politician..

  11. rjs

    re, the FRED graphs of the S&P Case Shiller..
    i saved copies of them and was going to use them this weekend; you can still link to see them as of now, but i dont know how much longer:

    here’s my explanation:
    as a result of the recent changes at the St Louis Fed’s FRED graphs website, the pair of FRED graphs we created to show the historical track of home prices in each of the cities in the 20 city index can now be viewed interactively, although not on all websites, nor via email; we are including screen pictures of each of those graphs below; use the text links provided to view the same graphs as interactive, wherein you can move your cursor across the graph and view the monthly history of the changes in the price indices for all 20 cities…recall that these indices do no reflect prices, just the difference in price relative to other months on the chart, and relative to the setting of 100.00 that all cities were set at in 2000 when the index was established, which is the start date for both of the charts below… in the first FRED graph, we have the tracks of home price indexes for Atlanta in bright blue, Boston in bright red, Charlotte in dark green, Chicago in Orange, Cleveland in purple, Dallas in grey, Detroit in mauve, Denver in mustard, Las Vegas in dull blue, and Los Angeles with the highest price track on this chart in beet red
    for the larger interactive view of this graph at FRED, click here:
    the second FRED graph shows the the historical price track of each of the metro home price indexes for Miami in bright blue, Minneapolis in bright red, New York in dark green, Phoenix in orange, Portland in violet, San Diego in grey, San Francisco in mauve, Seattle in mustard, Tampa in dark blue and Washington DC in beet red; in addition, this second chart includes the track of the Case-Shiller Composite 20 shown as a heavier black line..
    again, click here for the larger 1000 pixel interactive version of this graph at the St Louis Fed web site where all the lines can be easily traced with their interactive tool:

  12. JerseyJeffersonian

    From Club Orlov, The Madness of President Putin:

    Well done, Mr. Orlov.

    Now, while we’re on the subject, riddle me this. Read, and then tell me which president is well and truly certifiable:

    And just for shits and giggles, another one from Mr. Orlov:

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      From the first ClubOrlov link:

      …to leaving US and NATO troops in Afghanistan (who are about to start evacuating) stranded and without resupply by declaring force majeure on the cooperative arrangement currently in effect, where much of their resupply route is allowed to pass through Russian territory….

      Having no idea the Russians were “cooperating” in the wind-down in Afghanistan, I am speechless. It’s stupefyingly easy to see why the American people have not been made aware of this.

      If true, the people in Washington who are responsible for this fiasco are truly insane.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Mr. Putin: tear down this occupation!

        Having been driven out of Afghanistan themselves, the Russians would see the rich irony in NATO’s definitive defeat at the hands of cave-dwelling medievalists (to use Commander in Chief George W. Bush’s terminology).

        None of which will prevent NATO from fantasizing that they can shower the benefits of gunpoint democracy on grateful Ukrainians.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Thanks. I did.

          The insanity of those running Washington is terrifying.

          I can only hope that Putin will keep his head while all the American “leaders” are losing theirs.

          1. optimader

            I thought it supreme irony at the time when I learned the Pentagon (and its pet dog, NATO) were/are paying extraordinary sums of $$ to Anotov to transport cargo to Iraq, Afghanistan and other places where we are setting indigenous people free –of their corporeal existence. No less, in light of the fact that we allocate fantastic amounts of money to operate SAC and the ongoing care and feeding of Congressional District corporate warfare tapeworms who are building redundant C-130 transport aircraft no one wants!


            But hey, I’m sure it all makes sense in some incredibly cynical logic beyond my grasp, what do I know..

            1. JerseyJeffersonian

              Hmm. Maybe there’s something instructive in this thought: just today I read in the paper that the next crew complement for the International Space Station had blasted off from Earth. In a Russian space craft. Atop a Russian booster rocket. From Baikonur Cosmodrome. Read the article linked below. NASA has no capabilities in this area today, although they’re trying to get private US companies to take it up, but they need more funding. Maybe the $5 billion that Victoria “Fuck the EU” and her State Department pals just blew destabilizing Ukraine could have been otherwise spent? Nah.


              Perhaps one of the issues involved both here, and with the contractual involvement of Antonov in our military logistics is our ubiquitous crapification of everything. Or maybe it is merely indicative of Our Elites’ favored solution of outsourcing pretty much any and everything. Or perhaps some of each, as our technical ability as a nation to deal with these issues goes to seed. I point to how the LBO Boyz bled our manufacturing sector dry, and then sold off the production equipment to foreigners. Of course, the technical knowledge specific to these industries was thereby gutted; but beyond that, all of the knowledge and technical skills used in designing and servicing the equipment also vanishes when the customer base of domestic manufacturing no longer exists. Generations of engineering expertise, materials science, and the manufacturing capability for the machinery used by the now sold-off and disfavored industries goes poof. Along with all of the value-adding jobs formerly occupied by the middle class. Taking in each others’ laundry is not a horizontal substitute for these losses.

              So a big shout-out to LBOs, asset stripping, and labor arbitrage and their roles in the crapification of everything.

              1. Optimader

                Very much on a correct logical path here. The US is emulati g the frmr SU in regard to the military contactors distorting where technical talent is allocated. A corrosive aspect of this is that the talent pool is not tasked to executing efficiently. The tech talent and infrastructure is much off the rails where value added activities are directed

      2. psychohistorian

        Another element of the overall kabuki is that the US is “cooperating” with Russia to get our folks and stuff to the ISS and supposedly will continue to do so until NASA builds another shuttle for the purpose.

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      And from a poster over at Sic Semper Tyrannis on the accuracy of Obama’s characterization of Russia as merely a “regional” power:

      Babak Makkinejad said…


      Mr. Obama is correct that the Russian Federation is a regional power: she is a regional power in Europe, a regional power in Near East, a regional power in Central Asia, and a regional power in East Asia.

      I would say that a regional power in 4 important regions of the world must be considered a global power.

      Oooh, snap.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Land bubble.

    With land, it’s location, location, location.

    Good speculation bets – where the next extension of public rail/subway will go.

    Stimulate the economy!

    More infrastructure projects!

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From the bank run story in China:


    Jin found himself at the bank branch just after midnight to withdraw 95,000 yuan for his friend from a village 20 kms (12 miles) away.

    “He was uncomfortable. It was late and he couldn’t wait, so he left me his ID card to withdraw his cash,” Jin said.


    Interesting. One can use someone else’s (always a friend’s) ID to withdraw money in China still, just after midnight.

    By Tuesday, the crisis of confidence had engulfed another bank, the nearby Rural Commercial Bank of Huanghai.

    “One person passed on the news to 10 people, 10 people passed it to 100, and that turned into something pretty terrifying,” said Miao Dongmei, a customer of the Sheyang bank who owns an infant supply store across the street from the first branch to be hit by the run.

    Claiming to be a Yancheng resident, one user of Sina Weibo’s Twitter-like service repeated the story on Monday about the failed 200,000 yuan withdrawal, adding that “rumors are the bank is going bankrupt.”


    Thank the proletarian god he used Sina-Weibo’s twitter-like service. Now, he can be tracked down (as he was by the media).

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From New Parenting Study:

    ‘A recent study has shown that if American parents read one more long-form think piece about parenting they will go fucking ape shit.

    The study was conducted by Susan Waterson, a professor of behavioral psychology at the University of Massachusetts and the author of zero books…’

    A. Loved it when I thought she was an author of a book called Zero Books. Still, love it now for the fact that she is an author of zero book.

    B. I totally agree about too many long-form think pieces (about many things).

    C. Too many long-form thinks pieces are very effective in keeping Americans totally distracted. They say, the best defense (against the hoi polloi asking questions about wealth inequality) is offense (by peppering them with diversionary volleys to pin them down, like complicated food labels, obtuse tax forms, hard-to-navigate health insurance websites, impossible-to-find clean air/water sources, etc that will keep you busy forever).

  16. Emma

    Two additional interesting links:
    – 1st link is to an article about how the US intends to remove its’ face from the Drone Program in the Republic of Yemen:
    – 2nd link is to a Trailer for a not-to-be-missed Scandinavian Documentary (to be released this Fall) about covert drone war operations and the consequences (representing all views/opinions from far & wide on the subject matter):

  17. craazyman

    At First I Panicked, but Slowly the Reality of the Situation Asserted Itself

    The photos of Andromeda big as an insane moon and swirling like a pinwheel across the entire night sky are totally traumatizing. It gives me vertigo just thinking about it cutting through the Mikly Way like a screaming buzz saw.

    Then something occurred to me that brought a smile of relief to my face and peace of mind was restored in an instant. There’s nothing to worry about because the sun will be burned out and the earth won’t exist anymore when the galaxies finally collide in 5 billion years. If it does happen, nobody will ever know,

    This isn’t something to worry about after all. It’s not astronomical doom and gloom. It’s just the fevered dream of some woman’s overwrought imagination. I guess you guys at NC got suckerpunched on this one because you didn’t think it through all the way. haahahah. No worries. That’s what we’re here for in the peanut gallery.

    1. optimader

      this will put your mind at ease:
      At the end of the program and when the rent is due, my recollection is the Sun’s fusion reaction poops out a lump of iron (element: Fe). Pretty underwhelming..
      The Firesign Theater – I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus
      “The Future Fair” (“A fair for all and no fare to anybody!”).
      This is probably a bit before your time, so take the time to listen and learn..

  18. more orphans on the jumbotron! stat!

    More springs and bolts popping out of CIA’s Boston Marathon bombing. They’ve put fake-terror impresario Vincent Lisi in charge of the Boston FBI Госкомиздат.

    Lisi has in-depth experience in making blindingly obvious US government attacks on civilian populations look like terror. Remember when Daschle and Leahy dragged their feet on rubber-stamping the PATRIOT Act and got fan mail perfumed with illegal biological weapons under the secure control of the US government? Lisi was on the case. Lisi went hunting for lone-nut mad scientists, hoping that everybody in America is stupid enough to believe that some guy went and got some germs and pulled off the biowarfare equivalent of the Manhattan Project all by himself and no one noticed.

    Strategy of tension FAIL! Wonder what the SCI code word for the Boston Marathon bombing is. They should call it Operation Sadio.

  19. Cynthia

    The contraceptive mandate wouldn’t be an issue if ObamaCare didn’t mandate that oral contraceptives be free, totally free. ObamaCare mandates that insurers can’t even charge you a small co-pay for your oral contraceptives. Which makes this mandate more about money than it does about religion. A lot of women don’t even take oral contraceptives for birth control. Many of them take them to manage menstrual cramps.

  20. OIFVet

    Let the IMF shock therapy in Ukraine begin: BBC reports that as one of the conditions for the $15 billion in loans, the Ukrainian “government” will raise the consumer gas prices by 50% ( Following the great outcry over the Russian “meddling and control” in the Ukraine in the wake of Yanukovych’s rejection of such loan terms in favor of a no-strings-attached Russian loan and the now withdrawn preferential gas prices the Russian were letting the Ukraine pay for its gas, one has to wonder if the Ukrainians are in fact gluttons for punishment. It appears that they are not opposed to foreign control per se, only to foreign control that doesn’t inflict the maximum amount of pain to the little people. Our man Yats is well on his way to fulfilling his promise to be the most unpopular (unelected) prime minister ever, one of the few promises he is yet to retract. Well done Yats.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      IMF loans you say? Well, in a further evolution, it is possible that they were collateralized rather handsomely:

      Besides keeping the national gold reserves from falling into the hands of those treacherous Russkies, too.

      Don’t I remember something else on this general topic? Hmm…

      Or here is another alternative. Just a theory, mind you, but if there is anything to it, scoring a big ol’ pot of gold that could be transferred seamlessly to Germany, partly replacing the missing gold that was supposedly being held in “safekeeping” for them at the NY Fed might go someways toward explaining Kanzler Merkel’s falling into line on the Ukraine project.

  21. Oregoncharles

    About MoveOn petitions:
    OK, I signed it (Merkley is my Senator). However, I’m reluctant to sign MoveOn petitions in general, because you thereby sign up for their email list and they count you as a member – which is grossly dishonest.
    Because MoveOn is really just an arm of the Democratic Party, it’s ultimately part of the problem, so I’m not willing to be counted as a member and unsubscribe as soon as I get one of their messages. Even unsubscribing is a nuisance, though I get a chance to tell them what I think of them.
    In short, very annoying. But I did it; it is a good petition.

  22. JTFaraday

    re: Antidote du jour

    This puppy is so cute, I can’t even bring myself to scroll down and read the comments.

    He should be mine.

  23. fresno dan
    “I saw this submissiveness on many occasions. One memorable incident was passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008. This legislation retroactively legalized the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional surveillance first revealed by The New York Times in 2005 and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: All that was required was the invocation of the word “terrorism” and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet. One who responded in that fashion was Senator Barack Obama, soon to be coronated as the presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He had already won the most delegates by campaigning to the left of his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the excesses of the global war on terror and the erosion of constitutional liberties.”

    We have become ants, and we believe whatever the colony believes…

  24. financial matters

    Hmm.. Seems like some nice moves by the Fed

    Under the toughest stress scenario considered this year, the banks had to show how they would cope with the stock market falling by 50 percent. The eight biggest banks had to weigh the impact of a default by their largest derivatives trading counterparty.

    Citigroup’s complexity — it operates in over 100 countries, and was built over decades of acquisitions — may be working against it, analysts said.

    “Citi needs to make this defeat into victory by improving the pace of restructuring,” said Mike Mayo, an analyst at CLSA, saying the bank should consider breaking itself up more dramtically than it already has

    1. psychohistorian

      The intellectual capital term is funny. Since when does it take intellect to be an acolyte to the Gawd of Mammon?……one ring to rule them all…..

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