Links 5/22/14

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Robo-camera snaps coastal brown bear on Alaskan beach New Scientist (Richard Smith). Fantastic picture, but a tad too fierce for an antidote.

Crocodile injured by falling ACCOUNTANT in freak circus bus accident Mirror. Of course, Richard Smith found this story too.

Water goes ‘missing’ with snow loss BBC

Mexico and Monsanto: Taking precaution in the face of genetic contamination Triple Crisis

A Patient’s Story–How Much Can or Should– Your Doctor Tell You About Potential Risks? Maggie Mahar, Angry Bear. You need to read this piece.

Bullying Is Good For Your Health Time (Chris M). Notice how they never looked at the null set of a bully-free environment?

US crackdown on patent trolls collapses Financial Times

eBay makes users change passwords BBC

The War Nerd: China, Vietnam, and Naval Nerf Wars Pando

Vietnam considers taking China to court Financial Times

Goldman: Prepare for Chinese property bust MacroBusiness

Thailand’s Political Unrest Deals a Blow to Key Tourism Sector WSJ Economics

Mario Draghi’s Ongoing Faustian Pact Edward Hugh

Sarkozy Calls for “Profound” EU Overhaul Led by France and Germany; Farage “Earthquake” Michael Shedlock

Europe’s centre crumbles as Socialists immolate themselves on altar of EMU Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Juncker-Verhofstadt: Lobbies and groups of interests in the EU are unavoidable! unbalanced evolution. Neoliberal “rationalism” or more accurately, rationalizations.

Another shady Greek banking deal: An exchange with Klaus Kastner on the Pireus-MIG deal Yanis Varoufakis

About that Deutsche Bank capital… Tracy Alloway, FTAlphaville

U.S. deploys troops to help find kidnapped Nigerian girls Washington Post

Ukraine

Ukraine crisis: Many soldiers die in Donetsk attack BBC

Solidarity Eludes Ukraine Separatist Groups as Presidential Election Nears New York Times

Does Russia’s gas deal with China change things for the EU? Open Europe

China signs deal for Russian gas, boosting Putin’s Asia pivot Christian Science Monitor

Putin Has Crimea, But Reaping Its Energy Riches May Prove Difficult OilPrice

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Guest Post: Why We Can’t Support the New USA FREEDOM Act Just Security. Note Marcy Wheeler calls this the FreeDumb Act.

White House’s late changes to NSA spying bill shake support Los Angeles Times

Facebook, Google Balk at Loophole in Bill to Rein in NSA Bloomberg

Defense Department Refuses to Tell Senate Which Groups We’re At War With George Washington

Crude by rail is Plan-B in lieu of XL Pipeline Huffington Post (Paul Tioxon)

Christie’s pension payment reduction plan sparks lawsuit from CWA NJ.com. Nikki: “Pass the popcorn please.”

Over Easy: Entire State of California in Severe to Exceptional Drought
Crane-Station, Firedoglake

California Is In An Extremely Awkward Position Now That The Government Says Most Of Its Shale Oil Is Unrecoverable Business Insider

Fed Officials Tussle Over Labor Market Slack Wall Street Journal

THE DERAILMENT OF THE SEC – PART I: HOW A FORMER SENIOR SEC OFFICIAL MANIPULATED THE SYSTEM FOR HIS CLIENTS’ AND HIS OWN BENEFIT Vice (Richard Smith)

Why Is Credit Suisse Still Allowed to Do Business in the United States? James Kwak, Atlantic. Satyajit Das via e-mail says there was no strong case against barring Credit Suisse from access to dollar clearing services for a while, the punishment New York’s Benjamin Lawsky wanted to add:

They could settle through third parties with whom they have a US dollar account. This is the way most non-clearing members settle dollar payment requirements. It would be cumbersome and they would incur additional costs. It would also make collateral arrangements more involved. But it would affect the clearing services CS provides to third party, such as prime broking services, as they couldn’t clear dollar funds. In summary, they probably would not need to close out derivative positions. But they may have argued that it would affect them in this way to avoid additional sanctions.

This Happened Twice Before, And Each Time Stocks Crashed Wolf Richter

Rent or Buy? The Math Is Changing New York Times. Real estate is frothy in some major markets too.

Class Warfare

Thomas Piketty: The Market and Private Property Should Be the Slaves of Democracy Truthout

Saudi Arabia: Filipino Maid Disfigured with Boiling Water for not Bringing Coffee on Time International Business Times (Lambert)

Fraud and Foreclosure: Montana Couple Takes on Bank of America CounterPunch (Nikki)

Chilean artist steals and destroys $500 million worth of student debt papers Washington Post (Tim F)

Nazi pork and popularity: How Hitler’s roads won German hearts and minds VoxEU

Antidote du jour (Lance):

CornerPocket

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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86 comments

      1. pretzelattack

        seems like at one point there was a dog stuck behind a cabinet somehow–how did the dog get out.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I suspect he/she is employed by the All-Awareness Ministry..

      I thought the same when I saw that fly on the wall yesterday afternoon…

    2. Vatch

      Is that kitty a pool shark? Maybe “Sharkkitty” could be a sequel to the movie “Sharktopus”.

  1. Ned Ludd

    Socialists in France appear to have as much integrity as Democrats in the U.S.

    The Socialists said it was an outrage to refuse a referendum on Lisbon. Yet when the time came to vote in parliament, 142 deputies and senators abstained, and 30 voted for the Treaty. They gave president Nicolas Sarkozy his three-fifths majority, and it was much the same squalid story in the Dutch Tweede Kamer.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Alas, unlike Europe, there is no left left in the US to counter the perfidious wholesale betrayal by the DP and its union cronies. Ideological capture is near total as even socialists have become neosocialist-neoliberals, adopting the inverted rhetoric of deceit practiced by the Machiavellian usurper in the WH.

      It seems only a spectacular collapse of hyper-leveraged fiat debt can create an opening for revolutionary reform, but where are the leaders who can rally a coherent movement? Obama has innoclated the body politic with deep cynicism from ever hearing a genuine message of social democracy. Will the coming collapse bring global war, a libertarian reign of terror, or a resurgence of true social democracy?

      1. hunkerdown

        “Where are the leaders?” you ask. If they’re here and they expect to be leaders come that fateful day, they’re probably laying low right now and avoiding being associated with too many unusual records in NSA’s corporate store.

    2. susan the other

      exactly. Wish somebody would stop and think that if anything else could have worked socially for the last 60 years it would already have been done – but other than good socialist programs, the only alternative anyone has put forward is a bunch of oligarchic, elitist nonsense that is now proving to be a disaster at the hands of neo-politics. An ironic disaster because socialists are dedicated to a certain globalism for socialist causes – which they have betrayed in order to keep their respective currencies viable. The value of any and all currencies should be totally equivocal. It all should depend on the only thing that counts and that is how the money is used.

    3. Benedict@Large

      This is pretty much true in all of Europe. If one of a country’s mainstream parties has the word “socialist” in is name, it isn’t. It is merely the left flank of that country’s Neoliberal Party.

    4. hunkerdown

      You mean brands actually have to mean something? And in politics? One can be duplicitous with integrity, from at least one standpoint. It just happens that it’s rarely ever ours.

  2. Watt4Bob

    Nazi Pork

    Back in the late 1970’s, while riding a city bus, I met an old man carrying a very old sewing machine on his lap. I asked if he fixed sewing machines and he answered yes, he had worked in a sewing machine factory in Germany when he was a young man before the war.

    I don’t remember how it came up, but he told me that ” If you worked with machines, Hitler was very good, of course after a while it didn’t turn out well.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps the roads won him German hearts and minds, but it was drone-building, check that, his tank-building, economik- stimulus program that won them Brod…for a while.

    2. susan the other

      There’s regular pork and then there’s important pork. We have had it easy for a long time. The planet has been our friend. Until now. We have finally become so stupid even the planet has unfriended us. Before Now (BN) all we had to do was churn manufacturing, create capital surpluses and reinvest. That is now so yesterday. What we have to do now is create the future, not exploit our present.

  3. dearieme

    “Dr. Robert’s office felt right to me, with a musical birdsong soundtrack, soft lighting and fresh green tea, and I had my best friend in tow: piece of cake. In this serene atmosphere …”: you don’t seriously expect anyone to read a piece that starts with this sort of rubbish, do you?

    1. Zephyrum

      Actually I believe that bit is scene-setting is quite relevant. I’d find that kind of “marketing” to be a warning sign. The best doctors I’ve known, including my father, have had rather utilitarian facilities.

      1. flora

        Yes. That’s been my experience, too. If anyone finds themselves with a “Dr. Robert” prescribing lots of invasive procedures, tests, and treatments I’d suggest they get a second opinion from a Dr. not referred by or affiliated with “Dr. Robert’s” practice.

    2. ambrit

      Yes dearime, that opening set up is relevant. I’ve had experiences like the womans’ with doctors, and the fancier the surroundings, the higher the cost ended up. I believe this is a tell for rent extraction. The more ‘upscale’ the office feels, the more money the doctors expect to be in the patients pockets; before it’s extracted from there and herded into the physicians practices pockets. As an example; my wife always looks for a more holistic medical practice. The only one she found here in Hattiesburg MS didn’t accept Medicare, had the highest visit charge, and required pre payment for everything. It was the nicest New Age Yuppie office you’d ever want to spend time in.
      As the saying purportedly goes: “Money talks, bull—- walks.” Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder and harder to tell the two apart.

      1. diptherio

        “…the fancier the surroundings, the higher the cost ended up. I believe this is a tell for rent extraction.”

        Reminds me of the nursing home I used to work in. The administrators had no problem shelling out big bucks for leather couches and fancy original artwork in the lobbies–anything to impress visitors–but refused to adequately staff the facility.

        1. ambrit

          The exact same went for the nursing home my wifes parents ended up in. Over the year they resided there, the good nurses and care workers got fed up and moved on at an almost predictable pace. The ‘dregs’ which I admit is judgmental of me, stayed. The quality of care visibly deteriorated over time. (This was a facility only two or three years old when we had dealings with them.) Finally, just after John and Kathy “moved on,” the place was sold by the family that had started the facility to a conglomerate. I’m glad we weren’t around to see act two of this drama.

    3. Skeptic

      Research, research, research but not the price of pantyhose.

      I was in hospital four years ago with a serious condition. My wife, very familiar with nutrition and health issues, researched the condition and treatments. I read articles she produced and became convinced that what the doctors were recommending was wrong, wrong, wrong. The hardest thing to do was tell them NO and walk out the door and seek non-mainstream treatment. Four years later, I am doing well, thank you.

      One of the problems with Healthcare (and Finance and …) is that people cling onto their false lifelong beliefs until it is too late.

  4. jfleni

    RE: NC connections.

    It’s the easiest thing in the world to make “fearless commentary” disappear without a trace, with nobody (or just most places) the wiser!

    When I see something called ajax.cloudflare taking two or three ninutes to load a NC page, not once on occasion, but for days on end, with nobody else apparently affected,then your deadly and dedicated enemies have got the “fix” in, in spades.

    Look to your “helpers” and suppliers. They could be “taking you to the cleaners”.

    1. Mel

      It’s evident that people running advertising servers aren’t spending a penny more than they have to. Even the granddaddy, googleanalytics, for all Google’s money, regularly loses traffic.

      What can help sometimes is to stop the transfer (clicking the little stop sign or ‘x’ in the URL bar,) then click the reload icon to start the request all over again.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Cloudflare has NOTHING to do with ads. We use it to stop spambot attacks. This site would be down most of the time without it. We are looking for a better solution, since it does pose problems of its own.

    1. Banger

      Excellent links, diptherio! This is exactly the sort of thing that should be featured here. We can only thrive if we create alternative systems–this one is immune to reform. We need these alternatives to be discussed here or we are sort of wasting our time. Most of the comments and articles on this site critique the system with great specificity and varying degree of excellence but where are the alternatives? I’ve yet to see a rational argument for even the remote possibility of fundamental change–and the change has to be fundamental. There are, fortunately, people out there who have great ideas–in fact, I’m really amazed and happy that there is so much creativity out in the commons–I almost feel that creativity has been weeded out of the mainstream society and has been brought to the edges–a good reason to wander out to the edge n’est-ce pas?

      1. diptherio

        There is an interesting and important discussion going on right now in the co-op movement about how to take advantage of the opportunity that the breakdown of the capitalist system is creating for us. People are more willing to listen now than they have been in quite awhile…but what should we be telling them? While the cooperative alternative has been around for quite some time, there is no real consensus about how to “do” cooperation correctly, i.e. in a way that is truly transformative and doesn’t end up re-creating the problems of Capitalism. A workers-cooperative can be insular and self-serving just as a capitalist corporation can, and agency problems in large co-ops can be just as damaging as in traditional firms (see the UK’s Co-operative Bank, for example). The question is what sorts of systems of cooperative organization, governance, and interrelation do we want to be encouraging so as to avoid these pitfalls (among others)?

        There are definitely some very different opinions on the matter. Gar Alperovitz, for instance, is big into the model of partnering with “anchor institutions” to provide demand for co-ops’ output. However, many of these institutions are themselves complicit, or actively involved in, the oppression of the poor, who the co-ops are trying to help. As a practical matter, anchor institutions may have pre-existing long-term supply contracts with other businesses. This is a problem that was encountered in Cleveland with the Evergreen Cooperatives. The original idea was to use anchor institution demand, but the hospital was not willing to cancel it’s current contract. I have it on pretty good authority that the Evergreen Co-ops are actually barely making any of their sales to anchors and have had to depend on more traditional sources of demand.

        One of the big questions is what do we want: big co-ops, or networked small co-ops? I think that both, but with a preponderance of the latter, would probably be ideal. But like I said, there is a lot of disagreement. At least part of the discussion can be found here:

        Scaling-Up the Cooperative Movement ~GEO

        1. Banger

          We need as many alternatives as possible first, second we need to have a broader discussion around this issue–central to this is how to deal with the cultural and ideological constraints that keep us from cooperating–even when we want to. We have to understand that the greatest cause of this cultural problem is that we don’t trust each other because, in part due to our ideology of “individualism” and in part because most people in Western societies, particularly the U.S. are deeply stressed which causes a breakdown in intellectual and emotional capacity to handle problems creatively.

          1. diptherio

            We’ll be posting an article tomorrow entitled “Scaling-Up Empowerment and Democracy” that addresses the second issue.

            The author of that piece has written a series of blogs about all of this stuff, as well. Here’s the first in the series (now at 5):

            A Tale of Two Under-Cultures ~Michael Johnson

        2. McMike

          A: Small is beautiful

          The larger an organization gets, the more likely it is to lose sight of the mission, become cumbersome, or become pathological. Cooperatives and non-profts are by no means immune.

          B: Change is good.

          Every organization should come with an expiration date. Make them break it down and set it back up again every, I dunno, three generations.

          1. hunkerdown

            A. Take a page from the Hutterites and make provisions for spin-off before hitting the Dunbar limit.

            B. … such as this one. (Corporations used to have halting conditions. Then we made them into life forms…)

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Banger, you’re right about discussing alternatives.

        I believe

        1. We have to help ourselves
        2. Serendipity happens

        Now, just because 2 happens it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to help ourselves.

        As for any new emergence, I see two modes:

        1. the beginning form resembles the final form – example: a puppy looks like a dog from the start.

        2. the beginning forms look nothing like the final form – example: one can’t tell what kind of vehicle is emerging, judging separately from the parts being manufactured in various locations, tires, doors, windows, brakes, etc., finally the final assembly.

        So, if we don’t see any progress today, it doesn’t mean change won’t eventually come, with the latter mode.

        And I will also add that, sometimes, pervasive, profound change comes simply when an idea finally gets through to people. Then, the Sun stops revolving around the Earth and we start circling around our star.

        1. mundanomaniac

          My less …
          ” Then, the Sun stops revolving around the Earth and we start circling around our star”
          This is something no one can say in europe- this is to me a unique capacity of the american soul, to do it in less than words …
          I praise NC for those Commentators

          MM

        2. hunkerdown

          That’s a pretty big perspective shift for those used to having their basic needs reliably satisfied by their not-too-distant surroundings.

          OTOH, those that don’t, don’t have so much trouble. For instance, after having reached my lifetime exposure limit for white, middle-class traitors to social justice using feminism as a human shield and other women’s uteri as riot batons, I find myself in much sympathy with Black feminist scholarship, for whom (unlike the former) engagement with reality is not facultative or recreational. I wonder how many other economically disadvantaged white males might think likewise.

  5. Ned Ludd

    The Santiago Times has more about the artist incinerating student debt paper in Chile (archive):

    Police on Thursday confiscated a heap of ashes displayed at a Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) exhibition — allegedly all that remains of US$500 million in “pagarés” — or debt paper — stolen and burned by artist and activist Francisco Tapia, aka “Papas Fritas.” […]

    The destruction of the documents occurred during a “toma” — student takeover — of the campus and means the embattled university owners must now individually sue each of its students to assure debt payment — a very costly, time-consuming process.

    The CIA funded modern art as a “weapon” against realism. Consequently, artists in the U.S. boast about not being political and not taking sides – a position that acquiesces to the political status quo. In Chile, art is a weapon for the dispossessed; while, in the U.S., rebellion theater has displaced political art.

    1. Banger

      I believe Kandinsky, Picasso and others lived long before the CIA was created. As someone who believes that the CIA has influenced the media and some cultural institutions I don’t think they’ve had much to do with modern art.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps, instead of being one of the parents at birth, the CIA was more like a foster parent…a rich foster parent, or a wealth uncle, with as much money as one can imagine, under a very opaque, non-household (i.e. G.I.) mattress.

      2. Ned Ludd

        The IndependentModern art was CIA ‘weapon’:

        The centrepiece of the CIA campaign became the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a vast jamboree of intellectuals, writers, historians, poets, and artists which was set up with CIA funds in 1950 and run by a CIA agent. It was the beach-head from which culture could be defended against the attacks of Moscow and its “fellow travellers” in the West. At its height, it had offices in 35 countries and published more than two dozen magazines, including Encounter.

        The Congress for Cultural Freedom also gave the CIA the ideal front to promote its covert interest in Abstract Expressionism. It would be the official sponsor of touring exhibitions; its magazines would provide useful platforms for critics favourable to the new American painting; and no one, the artists included, would be any the wiser. […]

        Because Abstract Expressionism was expensive to move around and exhibit, millionaires and museums were called into play. Pre-eminent among these was Nelson Rockefeller, whose mother had co-founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As president of what he called “Mummy’s museum”, Rockefeller was one of the biggest backers of Abstract Expressionism (which he called “free enterprise painting”). His museum was contracted to the Congress for Cultural Freedom to organise and curate most of its important art shows.

      3. Mark P

        ‘As someone who believes that the CIA has influenced the media and some cultural institutions I don’t think they’ve had much to do with modern art.’

        Not Picasso and Kandinsky. But it’s well-known post-WWII history. The NY Abstract Expressionists were heavily promoted by the CIA internationally and, for instance, writer/environmentalist Peter Matthiessen, who founded the Paris Review in 1953, did it as cover as a CIA agent.

        http://www.npr.org/2014/04/06/297154718/peter-matthiessen-co-founder-of-the-paris-review-dies-at-86

        Matthiessen: “When I went in there, it was the end of the Cold War — Russia was a great menace out there in the distance. It was considered very patriotic to join the CIA. I didn’t know my politics were going to veer leftward, and that I would really come to despise the CIA.”

        It was a different time and probably a different CIA. Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree, the SF writer, worked at Langley with her husband in the early 1950s, and said she never saw so many cars with Adlai Stevenson stickers on them as in the CIA parking lot. The pushing Asian-peasants-out-of-helicopters syndrome in Vietnam hadn’t then had its effect, though it was coming — Graham Greene published THE QUIET AMERICAN in 1958.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Fraud and Foreclosure: Montana Couple Takes on Bank of America

    All of these stories seem to have one thing in common: “In October 2009, Morrow said, a Bank of America employee told them that to become eligible for a loan modification, they should intentionally miss the next month’s payment.”

    Once the borrower does this–misses a payment ON PURPOSE–it seems to get the foreclosure ball rolling.

    I often wonder what I would do under these circumstances. Although I can’t say for sure, I’d like to think that I would not take this big step without having it in writing. I’m positive I would at least ASK for written confirmation. Given that ” Bank of America said its employees would never tell a borrower to intentionally default on a payment,” I’m curious what the response to that request would be.

    At any rate, this suggests a real world “experiment.” There are lawyers with extensive experience in these cases. One of them could write a “script” for requesting a HAMP modification by telephone. Then borrowers who are in no danger of default could volunteer to make calls pretending to need a modification, follow the script and record the responses. Bill Black could probably do it under the aegis of “academic research.”

    The results could be used as evidence when BofA, or any other mortgage servicer, is sued. If the servicers ARE telling distressed borrowers to intentionally miss payments, the “we would NEVER say that” defense would go right out the window.

    As for the use of fake “American” names by foreign-based customer “service” agents, isn’t there some kind of list of which agent is using which name? How do they keep it straight? or do they just use whatever name and nobody keeps track? Why has Bof A instituted this policy?

    Once Sumil copped to using a fake name, couldn’t they demand that the list, if there is one, be turned over? Couldn’t this be construed as evidence of an attempt to deceive?

    Just thinking out loud here, but this situation seems to go on and on. Maybe it’s time for a little guerrilla warfare.

  7. McMike

    Re Patient’s Story.

    I call it “because we can” medicine. The overriding justification for taking these risks is: because we can. Not unlike “because markets,” it steamrolls over any other considerations or arguments. It is the confluence of:

    – profit seeking for profit health care
    – malpractice kabuki
    – messiah complex or expert arrogance
    – technological infatuation, where tech has become an infallible god
    – body alienation and fear of death
    – the imbalance of the concrete specific option versus the abstract downsides

    I have been struck repeatedly by physicians’ utter lack of curiosity about adverse consequences. When asked a question about them, it is clear the thought has literally not occurred to them – they are so sure about the wondrous consequence-free magical procedure, that it never occurred to them to evaluate the risk/benefit. They are clearly just regurgitating received wisdom, and have given downsides zero thought or weighting. Evaluating downsides seems to be a foreign concept that they can’t even begin to process.

    When pressed, they’ll retreat into hostile defensiveness, or offer some utterly unscientific anecdotal worst-case risk if you don’t do the procedure.

    But is clear that the idea that their advice and power should face true cost/benefit evaluation – and come down to a patient’s judgment about values and concerns – is completely outside their ability to consider.

    1. David Lentini

      Very true. I recommend Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society, which explained how our “technique-based” culture, that began forming in the late 19th Century with the rise of the physical and social sciences, and which in turn brought forth the lunacy of scientism, drives the very attitudes and arrogance you mention. Ellul had no great cure for this, because, as he so perceptively noted, the problem is cultural not techcnical. The only way to stop this abuse is to offer a new cultural movement that puts human needs over technical optimzation of processes.

      1. Banger

        Ellul is one of the greatest influences on my thinking which is why I emphasize culture as the place we must focus–the implications here are huge and largely uncharted because we, in the U.S. At least are obsessed with isolated issues and isolated solutions. You cannot, for example, find ways to deal with income inequality when our culture has established that individual wealth and achievement is our highest calling. How we define the good life and indeed “the good” is a fundamental issue that the left has most egregiously ignored.

        1. hunkerdown

          Stop looking for the left in a right-wing philosophy. Liberalism IS individual wealth and achievement. The New Deal being called “liberal” was just bait for a switch.

        2. jrs

          But to equate acheivement with wealth is itself a bizarre conflation. I don’t think it’s natural to do so at all. You have to be caefully taught.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Evaluating downsides…

      The other day, here on NC, I was told that we should stop at this: any new scientific/technological development is agnostic. We don’t contemplate any potential misuses or downsides.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      There is so much here that’s so infuriatingly wrong, it’s hard to know where to begin.

      So I’ll just say that my heart goes out to Brenda.

      It’s hard enough to be a middle-aged woman in America today without having to feel bloated and “ugly” because some doctor “prophylactically” cut out perfectly good parts of your body that he didn’t think you really needed and threw them in the garbage.

      Without asking. And got paid for it.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Coup Thursday:

    BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s military seized power Thursday in a bloodless coup, dissolving the government, suspending the constitution and dispersing groups of protesters from both sides of the country’s political divide who had gathered in Bangkok and raised fears of a violent showdown.

    The powerful army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced the military takeover in a statement broadcast on national television. It was followed by additional announcements including a nationwide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and an order for top government officials — including the ousted prime minister — to report immediately to the country’s new governing military commission.

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/thailands-political-rivals-meet-more-talks

    ————

    Generals in mirrored sunglasses, announcing a coup on nationwide TV? That is like, so fifty years ago.

    These dudes ought to take a clue from the USA: impose martial law (USA Patriot Act); renew and extend it (FISA Amendments Act, NDAA, etc.) with the aid of a rubber-stamp parliament and judiciary; while proclaiming to consumers that ‘all of your constitutional rights are protected.’

    The illusion of normalcy lulls them right to sleep. Shopping hours are unaffected, comrades. Vote for the Depublicrat of your choice.

    1. tongorad

      “Generals in mirrored sunglasses, announcing a coup on nationwide TV? That is like, so fifty years ago.”

      Normal for Thailand. I was living and working there during the last coup. Pretty much ho-hum, life goes on as usual out in the provinces. Thailand begins were Bangkok ends as they say.

      1. craazyboy

        They seem to do it every few years – kinda like an election cycle. They have a king too – and he always stays the same. Cute place – I think.

  9. Eureka Springs

    “Defense Department Refuses to Tell Senate Which Groups We’re At War With”

    Because the senate in abject failure likes it this way. (Abolish the United States Senate!)

    Perhaps the Senate should ask themselves what war they fund. Or, you know, stop funding wars… Or simply which countries, if any, are we not at war with.

    And troops should not be sent to Nigeria. Of course missing children will excuse anything. Is this an excuse to set up our 1147th global military base? What are the odds we the US arranged the kidnapping?

    1. Doug Terpstra

      The problem, er, opportunity is that our oil, and lots of it, happens to lie under Nigerian land, so inserting US troops is rather good ‘strategery’ really, for humanitarian reasons of course. How convenient that the chaos we created in Libya has empowered the latest blowback villain, Boko Haram. We thrive on such conflict.

  10. alex morfesis

    rent or buy…

    the parties who are pitching funding for apartment buildings seem a bit desperate to scare
    people out of the market of buying homes (or maybe those who are shorting housing still).

    Real Estate markets in transition have always been the worlds greatest investments.
    Buying a D or C neighborhood next to a hot artists community is almost always an easy way to make a huge return, if you can buy at a price that breaks even to cash flow, or if you have no problem moving every four to five years.
    The real estate return is incorrect, from a point of view of return on capital. Guessing the family did not buy it cash (nothing in NYT articles suggested that) so the actual return is gonna be ….

    about $550K on an investment of about $150K over the course of a four year waiting period and it will all be tax free. Certain markets are more attractive than others. America is a global destination. With the burping up of mid population economies globally (thailand, ukraine, south africa, venezuela, et al) there will be a push to enter the USA for those with enough money to have lived an affluent life in their home countries. This will feed the real estate expansion. Certain media savvy states will always have an advantage as the three most important words in real estate are marketing, marketing, marketing…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Non-cash investment of $150K nets $550K in four years?

      How much is the loan?

      And should the investment go sour, presumably the investor walks away, limiting his/her exposure to the original investment amount of $150K, with a non-recoursable loan.

      Comparing that to borrowing to go to college.

      After graduation, you potentially can look at 4 lost years of regurgitating received wisdom, with no pay, but a loan that will haunt you for a long time.

  11. fresno dan

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/mariakonnikova/2014/05/why-do-people-persist-in-believing-things-that-just-arent-true.html

    How many people can change their minds about anything they strongly believe?
    The fact that I am a microbiologist and trained in the scientific method was instrumental in making me reevaluate my economic and political beliefs. But you have to start with the premise that facts lead to theories, not theories to facts….(or more accurately, theories that cause people to dismiss some facts, enlarge other facts, and twist and bludgeon other facts until their unrecognizable)

    1. Banger

      I have deep respect for science but understand that scientific establishments are capable of something on the order of the Inquisition if people color beyond the current theoretical frameworks. The assumption of science is that “truth” is constant and unalterable. Truth, to those that have lived in other cultures is often culturally determined. Take anomolies for example. Millions of people have seen strange beings and events since the beginning of history yet, science categorically rejects these happenings as “not possible” therefore these things cannot exist and therefore the people who see these things are on drugs or are ill–even when a group of them see these things. Since I, and many other people I know have seen these things and are not mentally ill or on drugs I know there is truth to these claims. One of the problems is that, in my study of these matters (it has been extensive) there is a tendency of these phenomena to be paradoxical in nature as the more intelligent researchers point out. Rather than investigate the paradoxical nature of reality science, as an institution still tries to find single answers to all questions. It is the arrogance of scientists that has alienated so may people and is the cause of the more negative forms of “magical thinking” that seems to be catching on in this society like climate-change denial.

      In a similar vein, “reality-based” commentators, mainly on the left, refuse to entertain “conspiracy theories” categorically–if it involves some kind of conspiracy it is, therefore, a sign of mental illness. The example I always beat to death is that the official story is still that RFK was assassinate by a “lone nut” when if fact the Autopsy of RFK clearly showed he was killed from shots fired at point blank range from below and to the back of the head—that exonerates Sirhan who fired from the front and never got closer than two to four feet–similarly the sound analysis showed that about 13 shots were fired from an eight shot gun. No one has denied it and no one I have mentioned it to has a counter-argument. Yet those of us that note this and other anomolies with official explanations are excluded from any mainstream conversation categorically. BTW, this abhorence for non-official views was not as common a century ago.

      So we have to be more careful in how we define “truth” and understand that it can be more porous. I believe the scientific prejudice towards orthodoxy and “one truth” is a cultural construct that comes from the West’s foundation in a Christian belief that there is only one truth–something that is not shared in other cultures to the fanatical degree it has been in the West.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is Science the Final Paradigm, or is it just one (not too particular, either) of many paradigms?

        If you have faith in exceptionalism, then Science is the top of all paradigms and Man stands at the apex of all evolutionary beings.

        If you are more skeptical, you suspects that, one day, Science, too, will be obsolete, replaced by something better. The question is whether our brain is capable of it or that requires a more advanced being with a more interconnected, higher computing power, multi-domain, multi-universe brain.

      2. Pete

        “In other words, people who use the terms “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” as an insult are doing so as the result of a well-documented, undisputed, historically-real conspiracy by the CIA to cover up the JFK assassination. That campaign, by the way, was completely illegal, and the CIA officers involved were criminals; the CIA is barred from all domestic activities, yet routinely breaks the law to conduct domestic operations ranging from propaganda to assassinations.
        DeHaven-Smith also explains why those who doubt official explanations of high crimes are eager to discuss historical context. He points out that a very large number of conspiracy claims have turned out to be true, and that there appear to be strong relationships between many as-yet-unsolved “state crimes against democracy.” An obvious example is the link between the JFK and RFK assassinations, which both paved the way for presidencies that continued the Vietnam War. According to DeHaven-Smith, we should always discuss the “Kennedy assassinations” in the plural, because the two killings appear to have been aspects of the same larger crime.
        Psychologist Laurie Manwell of the University of Guelph agrees that the CIA-designed “conspiracy theory” label impedes cognitive function. She points out, in an article published inAmerican Behavioral Scientist (2010), that anti-conspiracy people are unable to think clearly about such apparent state crimes against democracy as 9/11 due to their inability to process information that conflicts with pre-existing belief.
        In the same issue of ABS, University of Buffalo professor Steven Hoffman adds that anti-conspiracy people are typically prey to strong “confirmation bias” – that is, they seek out information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs, while using irrational mechanisms (such as the “conspiracy theory” label) to avoid conflicting information.
        The extreme irrationality of those who attack “conspiracy theories” has been ably exposed by Communications professors Ginna Husting and Martin Orr of Boise State University. In a 2007 peer-reviewed article entitled “Dangerous Machinery: ‘Conspiracy Theorist’ as a Transpersonal Strategy of Exclusion,” they wrote:

        “If I call you a conspiracy theorist, it matters little whether you have actually claimed that a conspiracy exists or whether you have simply raised an issue that I would rather avoid… By labeling you, I strategically exclude you from the sphere where public speech, debate, and conflict occur.”
        Much the same as being labeled “Anti-Semitic” not only excludes you but can ruin your career!” http://beforeitsnews.com/conspiracy-theories/2013/07/cia-invention-of-the-phrase-conspiracy-theory-to-block-questions-on-jfks-assassination-is-one-of-the-most-successful-propaganda-initiatives-of-all-time-2453052.html

        1. alex morfesis

          now now,

          the folks down the street from clemyjontri park were not the only ones at the turkey shoot, and did not invent the notion of using language to isolate parties who do not fit into the “accepted and approved” opposition. Its been going on for as long as people have learned to play with fire.

          And it is the worst invention as today even the red hat church ladies from ohio roll their eyes when someone goes down the Lee Harvey path.

          most people live frightened little lives. conformity is a societal survival skill. Accepting the status quo keeps you fed today and tomorrow will usually fix itself. Paul Robeson had his passport yanked not because he was a “public” friend to fellow travelers but because stalin had ordered his arrest and execution just before the passport was yanked. Many people died for helping get Robeson out of Russia after a concert where he asked to many questions publicly and while on stage. On one of his CD’s you can hear the communist party faithful booing him on his last song. The Nazi’s also had him on a short list to be arrested if he was caught in europe or if he was in England when they were discussing an invasion. Only a real american who speaks his mind could have pissed off both of those dogs in one lifetime…and lived to talk about it…

          as bill murrays character in the movie the razors edge says…

          its easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain…

      1. diptherio

        I would say that someone setting a good example is displaying leadership. But setting a good example is different from determining the course that a group will take, which is what I define as being a leader.

        It’s true enough that in a hierarchical setting like a typical corporation, a leader is a good thing to have/be, as compared to a manager. However, in a horizontal, cooperative, both leaders and managers can be harmful. If leaders try to set the group agenda and if managers try to dictate every little thing, they get in the way of collective enterprise. If, however, the leaders can lead the group to set its own agenda, and managers can help others to manage themselves, then they might actually have some value. But in general, to my way of thinking, when it comes to cooperative enterprise, leaders are detrimental, as well as managers.

        Of course, I’m simplifying considerably for the sake of provoking thought. In the First Church of Diptherian Ontology-Orthodoxymoronic (Reformed), our first two commandments (and only two, so far) state:

        Never believe fully in some one else’s BS.
        Never believe fully in your own BS.

        BS stands for “belief system,” btw.

        1. hunkerdown

          Conflating one’s occupation with one’s identity is built into colloquial English usage. “What are you?” “I am [my occupation]”. I take care to deprecate my job as just one of a number of things I do, not something I am.

          And authority is not necessarily bad, in general. But vested authority in particular is extremely dangerous and mildly corrosive. The “right” to rule (if ruling is a job, and there exists a right to work…) can be nothing but a tacit endorsement of despotism, so one should never be surprised when some martinet asserts their due rights agaonst oneself…

  12. GuyFawkesLives

    Goldman: “Prepare for the Chinese housing market to fail, because we fucked those homeowners too (and of course, we bet against them as well.)” Oh, it’s good to be a global criminal banker and watch your government cronies spin your “mistakes” as mistakes. (Aka Geithner.)

    1. ambrit

      And when the Chinese housing market falls, what’s next. I seem to remember a similar thing starting out with a property bust here a few years ago. (Now, will the Party have what it takes to let their TBTF banks and what not go to the wall?)

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s possible the Chinese will be paying for Russian gas with warm, tropical houses in Southern China.

        1. hunkerdown

          Don’t worry, Europe, Yes You Can kick Vlad to the kerb! We’ll cover you on the hydrocarbons! We got plent… um let me call you back.

          1. hunkerdown

            (that was supposed to have been an article-level comment, not a reply, but happy accidents happen…)

  13. GuyFawkesLives

    Oh, Yves……

    *shiver* That photo of the bear. That even made this grown man cry!
    It also made me wonder why we have put teddy bears in the arms of our toddlers for literally centuries???

  14. rich

    Introducing “Subprime Business Lending” – Loans with 125% Interest Rates Are Being Securitized and Sold to Investors

    Oh, but the story gets better, a lot better. Large Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and corporations such as Google are also naturally getting into the market. For example:

    OnDeck Capital Inc., a lender with funding from Google’s venture-capital arm and PayPal Inc. co-founder Peter Thiel, sold $175 million of notes backed by business debt last month in a deal put together by Deutsche Bank. Interest rates on the loans ranged from 29 percent to 134 percent.

    “Don’t be evil,” right Google? Since there’s nothing evil about 134% interest rates, particularly when you don’t pay taxes.

    Of course, predatory lending by bailed out financial institutions is nothing new in post-financial crisis America. I covered this last year in my post: TBTF Banks Enter Payday Loan Business with 500% Interest Rates.

    Naturally, Wall Street is also starting to package the loans into securities that can be sold to investors. You can’t make this stuff up.

    http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2014/05/22/introducing-subprime-business-lending-loans-with-125-interest-rates-are-being-securitized-and-sold-to-investors/

  15. OIFVet

    EU membership has definitely been a real benefit to these Romanians. I see no reason why the Ukrainians should not look forward to the same rivers of honey and butter materializing out of Brussels’ commitment to prosperity for all.

  16. Roland

    I must point out that the Tar Sands question is a direct consequence of the 1988 decision to pursue bourgeois globalism.

    In a global liberal integrated economy, Canada’s main natural competitive advantage is in the primary sector, esp. the export of energy and raw materials.

    Since our conventional crude oil resources are now depleted, Canada must export of heavy crude and natural gas.

    Never since the early days of the Fur Trade has Canada’s economy been so dependent on a single export sector, as we now are on the export of heavy crude.

    Since the bourgeois leadership in Canada have also aggressively pursued a policy of labour importation, we see the spectacle of a country dependent on primary exports, rapidly increasing the denominator by which the income from those non-renewables must be divided.

    Perversely, Canada has begun to create a “guest worker” subtier proletariat in order to restrict benefits, and the hard-pressed Canadian masses mostly approve.

    Brief: a class-divided resource colony ruled by a second-rate compradore bourgeoisie bereft of pride or imagination. Any wonder why Canada in today’s globalized system keeps looking and sounding uglier?

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