Links 1/12/15

Deep Sea Explorers Stumble Upon A Creature They Can Hardly Believe Is Real The Dodo

U.S. Retakes the Helm of the Global Economy Bloomberg

Bank of America warns of ‘lethal’ damage to China’s financial system as deflation deepens Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph

Oil prices extend falls; Goldman Sachs slashes price forecasts Reuters

A history lesson on the perils facing oil and gas investors FT. Son of Subprime.

Vanguard’s record inflows prove passive is massive FT

Some clients are always more equal than others FT. NDAs leading to “an information blackout that is causing pension funds to lose sight of industry-wide fee levels.”

Jobs, Wages, Wholesale trade Warren Mosler

Borrowers Forgo Billions through Failure to Refinance Mortgages NBER. Final paragraph:

The authors also suggest that psychological factors, such as procrastination, mistrust, and the inability to understand complex decisions, may be barriers to refinancing.

Mistrust? Why on earth?!

Charlie Hebdo

This map shows every attack on French Muslims since Charlie Hebdo Vox. I’ll have more on Charlie Hebdo at 2:00PM.

Eric Holder, top U.S. officials no-shows at Paris unity rally Daily News. Shame? A sense of the ridiculous? Not invited? Leader photo op.

Hollande asked Netanyahu not to attend Paris memorial march Haaretz. Netanyahu insisted, so Hollande invited Abbas. Then Netanyahu’s press office crops Abbas out of their version of the photo op picture.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Paris attacks: Millions rally for unity in France BBC. The Beeb buries the lead. Here it is. Paragraph 31:

Following the meeting, the ministers issued a statement saying that greater internet and borders surveillance was needed to combat terrorist attacks.

Never let a crisis go to waste! And above all, keep doing what doesn’t work!

Countries agree to up surveillance Daily Star. Ya know, I recall, one Kouachi brother was featured in a French documentary film about the recruitment of young Islamic “extremists.” So whatever the answer is here, it’s not moar surveillance (and hence, whatever the purpose of the surveillance is, it’s got little to do with the Paris attacks. Not that I’m foily).

Leaked Palantir Doc Reveals Uses, Specific Functions And Key Clients TechCrunch

F.B.I. Is Broadening Surveillance Role, Report Shows New York Times

Ukraine

Ukraine Crisis Meeting Set For Berlin Radio Free Europe, and Foreign ministers of Normandy quartet to discuss Ukrainian crisis settlement ways TASS

Ukraine, Russia raise stakes ahead of peace talks Defense News

Crisis in Ukraine could trigger nuclear war, warns Gorbachev Daily Telegraph

Intense Ukraine shelling traps hundreds of miners AFP

Russia says Ukraine has violated loan terms: agencies Reuters

Nadia Savchenko: The most controversial prisoner of the war in Ukraine Daily Telegraph

Ukrainian Government to Encourage Dismantling of Soviet Memorials Estonian World Review

Why Asia is the key to the Russia-Ukraine conflict Straits Times

Syraqistan

U.S. Airstrike In Syria May Have Killed 50 Civilians McClatchy. Gee. That’s 38 more than 12.

Jabal Mohsen bombing: a sign of things to come Daily Star

Dempsey says Iran’s role in Iraq might be ‘positive’ Al Monitor

Iran, Iraq to discuss joint oilfields Trend

Iraq may need three years to restructure and rebuild military: PM Reuters. Ka-ching. Hey, this time, why don’t we cut out the middleman and just hand over all the weaponry dirctly to whichever jihadis are coming up on the demonization leaderboard?

How Bibi is turning the defense budget into a settler slush fund 972

Making it in the desert kingdom Economist. Saudi manufacturing.

Afghanistan: A Look Back On America’s Longest War Duffel Blog

China’s New Silk Road Takes Shape in Central and Eastern Europe Jamestown Foundation (take a look at the board members; this is an quasi-official prospectus for conflict investors).

Firebombs hurled at home of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai and Next Media HQ South China Morning Post. Billionaire who partly funded Hong Kong Occupy.

Class Warfare

Ivy League’s meritocracy lie: How Harvard and Yale cook the books for the 1 percent Salon

Unpaid interns charged £300 for a job reference by thinktank Guardian. Refreshingly direct!

Death by Robot New York Times. Code is not only law, but ethics, it seems.

Gangsta to the roots: A gangster or civil society? Asian Correspondent

Small volcanic eruptions partly explain ‘warming hiatus’ Science Daily

The Serengeti strategy: How special interests try to intimidate scientists, and how best to fight back Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [PDF] (furzy mouse).

Antidote du jour. Sending this one out to Stephanie Kelton:

antidote_owl

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

82 comments

  1. Sam Kanu

    “…ministers issued a statement saying that greater internet and borders surveillance was needed to combat terrorist attacks…”

    Anyone surprised?

    1. Andrew Watts

      No, but do you really expect the politicians to stand up and say there is nothing they could’ve done?

      1. Ned Ludd

        NATO leaders could refrain from funding violent extremists who destabilize foreign countries.

        Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

        Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

  2. Andrew Watts

    RE: Dempsey says Iran’s role in Iraq might be ‘positive’

    The Islamic State is the gift that keeps on giving to the Iranians. Those of you who think this is a win for America need to examine your cognitive bias. The US has absolutely no choice in the matter with the integration of Iranian controlled militias into Iraq’s military forces, the renewal of strong ties between Iran and the Kurds of the KDP/PUK, and the closer political/economic ties between the two countries.

    RE: Iraq may need three years to restructure and rebuild military: PM

    Bulls—. The politicians in Baghdad retain no control over the Shia militias or the Iraqi military which is increasing under the influence of Iran. When the militias were ordered to fly the flag of Iraq instead of their individual militias they ignored the command from the central government.

    RE: Iran, Iraq to discuss joint oilfields

    More evidence that if the Islamic State succeeds in dismantling Iraq that Iran will form a Iraqi-Shia successor state in Basra. The political drive for more regional autonomy is already a step in this direction.

  3. Andrew Watts

    Video Shows a Paris Gunman Declaring His Loyalty to the Islamic State (via NYTimes)

    He claims that the Kouachi brothers were apart of the same cell. If you didn’t immediately suspect that an IS cell was behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks you don’t know sh*t about the Islamic State. Even when they were still Al Qaeda in Iraq their goal has always been to galvanize Sunni Muslims to their cause. Their strategic goal has never changed despite everything that has happened. The declaration of their Caliphate and their seizure of territory was another step towards inspiring the Muslim population.

    The only thing the media and demonstrators have accomplished is to further spread the Islamic State’s message to the Muslim population of Europe. That message is this:

    “You do not belong. You will never belong.”

    By demanding that all Muslims apologize for the murders, the retaliatory attacks, and holding individual Muslims up as a model minority these factors only serve to further alienate the general Muslim population. What makes the Islamic State so dangerous is that they understand history. They understand the outsider status and social alienation that most Muslims feel and are subjected to in the West.

    (Speculation: When Coulibaly mentions brothers he’s probably referring to “brothers of the faith.” The ID left behind was meant to throw police off the trail of the other cell members who executed their escape plan. But thanks to the French police killing of the brothers Kouachi and Coulibaly we’ll never know for sure.)

    1. Banger

      This is a time to try to piece together who funds Al-qaida/IS and Sunni fundamentalists and who benefits from their actions. To do that we have to look at the origins of this general movement and what forces came together to make them so powerful in the world.

      1. Vatch

        One thing we do know is who many of the victims are. And most of the victims are Middle Easterners, Africans, and South Asians. They tend to have dark or medium toned skin; does that make their suffering less important? Members of Boko Haram have murdered thousands of Africans; I don’t know how many people have been murdered by members of al-Shabaab, but it’s not a trivial number. Remember the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai by members of the Taliban? She’s a Muslim, but she had the audacity to go to school — the nerve of that girl! How dare she!? Islam treats women as if they were subhuman creatures. Should Muslims apologize for that? Absolutely!! It’s a crime against more than half a billion people!

        1. diptherio

          Islam treats women as if they were subhuman creatures. Should Muslims apologize for that? Absolutely!!

          Should all Christians be expected to apologize for the actions of the most virulent fundamentalists? Should every atheist environmentalist be held to account for Ted Kazinsky’s actions? I’ve known a few Muslims, and not a single one treated their wives, daughters, or women in general as “subhuman” creatures. Some do, no doubt, just like some Christians do, and some Buddhists (I’ve lived with some) and some Hindus. Hell, right here in my White, Christian college town we’ve got quite the rape epidemic on our campus and the local authorities have been accused of taking matters lightly–almost treating women like “subhumans.” What’s that old saying about motes and beams?

          The sentiment above smacks of the old ethnocentrism, and the frankly racist line that Islam is somehow an exceptionally violent faith. And, of course, the West’s part in fomenting and encouraging the violent, political version of Islam that is wreaking havoc today is NEVER mentioned by people who rail against Islam in general. We helped put the crazies in power–they do crazy things–therefore Islam is bad and Muslims should apologize to everyone (and accept the true faith of atheism too, I would imagine).

          1. Vatch

            Yes, moderate Christians should vigorously oppose the Christian fundamentalists. And Christians should apologize for the offenses of their co-religionists. Most religion is just a technique for controlling people, and moderate religion frequently provides cover for the crazies. Let’s remember the famous condensed paraphrase of Voltaire:

            “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities”

            People don’t need to become atheists, but they should stop believing absurdities.

            1. diptherio

              As you point out, most of the victims of militant, fundamentalist Muslims are…other Muslims. So do you suggest that those Muslims should be apologizing to somebody (who? Westerners?) for the religion they share with their oppressors? It’s like saying in 1800 that Christian slaves should apologize for the actions of Christian masters, and Christianity in general, since the ‘good book’ approves of slavery.

              And again, the actions of Western govt’s have, if not created, then greatly exacerbated the nasty form of Islam that is currently running amok, mostly in the Muslim world. As Westerners, we need to be calling out our own governments for supporting the wackos and doing what we can to get them to stop–not telling the people who are feeling the brunt not only of Islamic fundamentalist violence but also of the violence that WE inflict that they should be apologizing for their religion or the actions of their co-religionists who are murdering them. It’s just absurd.

              That Voltaire quote applies at least as much, if not more, to the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and all the others, than it does to the vast majority of Muslims. I know LOTS of liberals and progressives who have supported every single one of those military atrocities actions, unlike in the case of Islamic terrorism where most Muslims are opposed just like the rest of us.

              Motes and beams, man, motes and beams.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                An interesting question is, are we getting along better now than we were over 1,000 years ago when Martel fought at the Battle of Tours?

                Will we be better at getting along in year 3015?

              2. optimader

                ” So do you suggest that those Muslims should be apologizing to somebody (who? Westerners?) for the religion they share with their oppressors?”
                I may be out of the news cycle. Is anyone asking anyone to apologize for the religion? Or do you mean apologize for the antisocial behavior of ostensive members of the religion behavior meant to respond to a perceived criticism of said religion/prophet of?

                Two different things I think. As well, apologies “asked for” of course are meaningless. Maybe the real sentiment not being accurately expressed in the media is a sentiment that it would be healing if members of the Muslim faith offered spontaneous revulsion for what occurred?

                1. ambrit

                  Have a look at “The Battle of Algiers” if you haven’t already. An oldie but goodie about European colonialism in North Africa and the push back.
                  Realistically, until we see ‘spontaneous revulsion’ expressed in the streets of Europe and America about the Wests’ murder campaigns in the Middle East, demanding the same from average Muslims is hypocritical.

                  1. prostratedragon

                    You can see it here, though this is definitely one for the home collection in my view. Click the “cc” button for English subtitles.

            2. cwaltz

              *Sigh* Fine. I apologize that there are people who call themselves Christians who appear to not have actually reading the teachings of the person they claim to follow.

              Yeesh, you’d think that religious belief sets were responsible for all the atrocities in the world. Is this the part where you get to apologize for Jeffrey Dahmer, Mussolini and Kim Jong Il because they share atheism as their belief set like you?

                1. cwaltz

                  I can pretty much guarantee that if you choose any belief set, religious or otherwise, that you will find some humans mucking it up. Sadly, it’s how humanity works.

                  The idea we should all be apologizing for the bad apples is kind of absurd especially when I’d say I’m as close on the belief set front to Focus on the Family as you are to the atheists you claim you aren’t. As I stated above, it isn’t my fault that a good portion of the people calling themselves Christians never actually bothered to consider how Jesus lived and instead use him to justify their own narrow views of how they think the world should look. I refuse to cede the term Christian to them, Christ deserves better.

                  1. Vatch

                    Well, maybe apologizing isn’t always the right thing to do. But we can criticize and/or condemn atrocities and oppression. I see a lot in contemporary Islam that resembles the Christianity of three or four centuries ago, when people were routinely punished for heresy.

                    1. cwaltz

                      Oh absolutely. There are quite a few Christian bullies out there TODAY that would be perfectly happy forcing people to believe as they believe and condemning those that don’t.

                      I tend to confront those types rather than spend my time apologizing for them. I’m a strong proponent of free will. If God gave it to you then I daresay a bunch of bullies should be allowed to take it away simply because they believe they know better.

                  2. optimader

                    cwaltz,
                    Is Focus on the Family a religion/faith?
                    If so, maybe you would feel better if you just took a moment here to differentiate yourself from any objectionable antisocial violent behavior that was performed by self proclaimed members of Focus on the Family faithful.

                    1. cwaltz

                      They are a religious group and a hate group because apparently 1st John is very, very confusing.

                      They missed all that stuff about casting stones, judging and removing beams from your own eye.*shrugs* I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that the God I pray to is waaaaay different than the one they seem to fear. The Bible I read places importance on compassion, tolerance and forgiveness and a lot less importance on sending everyone who is different from you to hell.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I apologize to all the plants, animals and others for what we humans have done to Nature.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    In my completely-not-organized religion of one worshiper (so far), if you apologize, you will be saved.

                    That’s what we (or I) believe.

          2. optimader

            “I’ve known a few Muslims, and not a single one treated their wives, daughters, or women in general as “subhuman” creatures. ”

            Well try tuning in to Peace TV http://www.peacetv.tv/ and spend some time w/ Dr.Zakir Naik (or presumably the other commentators). I flip there occasionally for a few minutes exposure when catching the WGN weather. There version of theological artifice fairly blows me away. The Faithful Q&A sessions are particularly awesome in a parallel universe sort of way.

            So far I’ve learned:
            1.) One man is worth two women.. Not my interpretation , literally it is written. A point kicked to death actually by Dr. Naik. In this vein Vatch’s “subhuman” characterization might be an imprecise choice of words, but heads in the correct direction. A better choice would be a female is a “50% Subpar human”. No matter what

            2.) Muslims that leave the Islamic faith should be subject to a “traditional” death penalty, again, it is written He literally said that, not me reading between the lines.

            3.) Faithful Muslim women MUST be accompanied by a male family member if they venture into public. What I also learned waiting for the seven day forecast is that the most junior male family member is the effective superior to any women in the family ( one man=two woman, he only made that point like 10 times in a five minute flow of consciousness), in all matters related to the family. Example made: the male head of household is in charge of the family finances — because men are superior to women in these matters.. It s is written.
            3.) Riffing off of 2.), the answer to the Faithfuls Q&A question was: Yes in the circumstance even a “mentally deficient” son (albeit I assume he’s the last resort?) would be the legitimate male family member escort for a female member, even his mother, when it is necessary for her to go forth into public.
            Go figure.

            So I put it out there,
            If religion/faith is the singular organizing principle in one’s life, fine I accept that.
            But if the Society one resides in is an egregious affront to your religion/faith (irrespective of any sense of “fairness”) – to the point you feel a compelling need to go to a country w/a Society that reflects your religious/faith values to get weapons training in order that you may return to kill people, then why not go to/stay where the Society is simpatico with your most basic core beliefs and lead a virtuous life?

            Of course there will be those that say: “the fundamentalist Islamic citizen or permanent resident (of France in this case) has as much right as any other citizen/resident to live in France!” That is of course is exactly correct. But the question remains, if one is at a point where one feel compelled to go on a murderous rampage based on your faith based sensibilities, and there CLEARLY are places in the world that reflect your values, why not live there instead?

            1. Banger

              Much of mainstream Muslim faith bothers me as well and I would like to see Muslims pull away from such a limited view of life. In general, as I’ve said often, all religions should be put to the test of debate and argument and people should not hide in “faith.” We let religion pass unless its new like Scientology which really is not that different from Mormonism–but we let that pass because its been around. I think there is value in each religion but also there are major problems with nearly all of them and we ought to be talking about it.

              1. optimader

                That could be the answer.
                OTOH if I were a young man in France and was a strict adherent to the Islamic faith, and felt abused by a society of infidels, before going on a murder rampage surely a considered choice would be toughing out a free University education, then seek out a productive life in an Islamic State, or at least a Country in which Islam is the State religion. Maldives, Brunei, Mauritania, Algeria, Morocco, S Arabia, Iran.
                It’s a big world and there are a lot of choices, particularly if you have some education that would go a long way in any of those countries, ironically quite possibly more opportunities than in France with a technical education..

            1. optimader

              Lord Koos,
              Hitler:
              Was Hitler’s of Christian faith, his behavior a result of Christian faith? I’m guessing cwaltz would take issue with that notion.?

              Inquisition:
              FWIW,
              Which Christian sects wee involved?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_apologies_made_by_Pope_John_Paul_II
              Not that he or any living Catholic I ever met had any participation, condones or even offers tepid justification for the Inquisitions. I imagine if the subject came up any Catholic, the would express condemnation for the Inquisition to any aggrieved party.

            2. ambrit

              Oh my lord. Hitler was an equal opportunity oppressor. He had hundreds of thousands of Christians killed. There was a barracks at Dachau just for clergy.
              The hard core Nazis were a dissolute bunch with a strong admixture of neo-pagans. The Thule Society, the Black Sun, the Vril-gesselschaft, and other even farther out groups had influence within the inner circles of the Nazi hierarchy. The essence of Hitlers’ strategy concerning all religion was for it to be a tool for the Nazi State. Christians have more than enough to apologize for without blaming them for the Nazis too.

              1. optimader

                “There was a barracks at Dachau just for clergy.”
                indeed. I went to a Catholic grade school as a convenience, I’m of the age where there was an old nun (IMO the only one that wasn’t halfbaked) and a janitor, each who had serial numbers tattoos like this http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-NK004103.jpg?size=67&uid=d16e7870-cdfe-4251-b7d7-8d903ad6681a
                He was Polish and she was German.
                As a kid it’s was, oh they have numbers on there arms, how weird. Lets go play dodge-ball. As an adult I think about them and it’s holy bloody smoke, what the hell was that about!?!

                One I think survived Treblinka and the other Dachau. Both were the most gentle souls you’d ever want to meet. I recall the Janitor helping me knock out some math homework, What would his life have been?
                Sister Minulfa and Stanley, I wish now that I knew their stories.

                1. ambrit

                  I’ve mentioned elsewhere about two of my Dads’ friends on Miami Beach, one of who had fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and escaped to the West, and his wife, who had those numbers tattooed on her arm. She had survived Auschwitz. I hope I don’t get to understand firsthand what those numbers meant.
                  I once found a pre war period Nazi Party pin in the parking lot of a South Beach hotel. I had a teacher who had lived through that time look at it, and he said that it was genuine. When I told him where I had found it, his face went blank with shock. Either my Mom or one of my sisters has it now.

              2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                We can trace the ‘Original Blame,’ a concept deeply fascinating to people who study blames, to when early humans first buried their dead, and with valuable objects.

                From that, we have ‘ascended’ to where we are today.

                1. ambrit

                  It’s like an infinite regression, a hall of mirrors, isn’t it. I’m glad to say that ‘early humans’ includes the Neanderthals.

  4. Patricia Marino

    Re the ethics robots: even the tiniest dip into the literature on ethics and moral dilemmas will show that the question of what to do when moral rules conflict is hotly debated. Attempts to systematize all lead to some morally unacceptable conclusions, so that the use of human judgment becomes necessary. For example, how should we trade of considerations of utility and justice? The standard text in bioethics, written by Beauchamp and Childress, treats the use of human judgment as essential to “balancing” competing considerations.

    The Times article treats the matter as if there were algorithmic considerations we agree on, which just need to be coded properly for robots to use them. Which as far as I’m concerned seems wildly false.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The discussion should not be limited to humans and robots.

      There are other impacted parties (pet biological dogs to be out of work, being replaced by pet robot dogs?) and we don’t know what they think.

  5. Jim Haygood

    ‘The issue of civilian deaths in U.S. strikes is a critical one as the United States hopes to win support from average Syrians for its campaign against the Islamic State.’

    Dial back the clock fifty years, and that was the plan in Vietnam. Which drifted a few years later into ‘we had to destroy the village in order to save it.’ Followed by the last helicopter out of Saigon taking off from the roof of the U.S. embassy.

    Nothing like watching reruns of old movies in new theaters.

    1. Banger

      That’s why it’s so important to look at history (almost all Americans hate history, btw) and analyze why did Vietnam turn out the way it did? Why did the U.S. oppose the Geneva Accords of 1954? Why did the U.S. systematically support only the most corrupt leaders and groups in South Vietnam? We can also turn to the Afghan Wars or Iraq which copied in many details the “mistakes” of Vietnam–where they really mistakes? Is there method behind the madness? If you look at the Iraq operation it is stunning–it, even more than Vietnam, looks to be a war fought deliberately to create chaos and destroy every aspect of Iraqi society–a kind of cultural genocide. It could have turned out very differently–you might remember, and I was told this by someone in the know, that the neocons running the show at the time threw out all the briefing books of both the CIA and State and just “winged” it–to put it another way–they provided large sums to favored contractors way beyond the corruption in Vietnam.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Depending on history.

          I think a lot of people will be interested in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll, for example.

        2. Banger

          It was a cultural observation best made by Gore Vidal’s term “United States of Amensia.” Actually there are studies out there that show that Americans often can’t locate the years of WWII and other historical events you can check it out and do your own research. Americans have never been very interested in history but prefer the future. Henry Ford famousely said “history is bunk!” believing, as many do, that our history does not have much to do with our present. We live in the land of personal responsibility–never mind that from the moment you were conscious you were beaten and lived in the midst of constant arguments and perhaps sexually abused–that doesn’t mean you can’t graduate from Harvard and so on. We need to believe that in order to accept the cruelty of our current society.

          1. GuyFawkesLives

            All you have to do to emphasize your point that Americans don’t like history is look at how many people continue to bank with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and US Bank. Fuck a bunch of fucking idiots who can’t even look at recent history and decide to change their MO.

      1. annie

        in the nyt obituary for Robert Stone today:
        “You just had to stand in the middle of Constitution Square in Saigon and look around and you could see how wrong, wrong, wrong this was. It was this enormous, endless, boundless, topless, bottomless mistake, something I was not used to seeing the United States doing.”

      1. Jim Haygood

        Most likely President Hillary will react to ‘average Syrians’ as she did at a 4-F club upstate, with a whiff of cattle manure in the air: ‘What the f*** did we come here for? There’s no money here.’

        1. Ulysses

          As an old upstater myself, there are no 4F clubs that I know of in the agricultural areas. 4H clubs, on the other hand, are very plentiful. The 4 “H”s are: head, hands, health, and heart.

        2. ambrit

          I’m with Ulysses on this. I fear to find out just what Hillary and her crew think 4-F stands for. (Unless maybe it’s Shrubs’ draft status.)

      2. John Merryman

        It’s not so much confusing as a natural devolution from advancing the needs of the empire, to advancing the needs of one’s particular acquaintances, to advancing one’s own interests above everything. The political system is still in the second stage, while the banking system has moved onto the last stage.

  6. Banger

    It will be interesting to see how the recent terror attacks play out in Europe in general and France in particular. I suspect that the reactions will be as per usual–more security, more power to the security services and the military.

    Now, if we were logical beings and we could analyze the real political situation, i.e., that nationalism is being replaced by self-interest and group/tribal interest which, in turn, to fill the vacuum helps the power of multi-nationals, criminal crime syndicates, security services (European services have more in common with their U.S. counterparts than their own countrymen) and so on who use “nationalism” to keep the people in thrall. Governments, increasingly, are staffed by people who don’t have loyalty to their countries–I saw this in my decades in Washington but rather to a host of other forces but mostly themselves and their families. U.S. journalists are corrupt not because they are “bad” but because they know they need to keep up their house payments and if they don’t go along to get along their future is doomed.

    In terms of terrorism, there is very little interest, it seems, in where the funding, training and political support comes from. There’s very little interest in the history of Al-qaida and IS–what exactly happened in Afghanistan and what was the role of the Saudi royals and the Pakistani intel service the ISI? What was the role of the CIA who coordinated the anti-Soviet war? In fact, what exactly is the CIA? What is their history and way of doing things? Just how accountable are the covert operatives to the public? We need to understand that any organization free from scrutiny, free from accountability or legal restraint has a competitive advantage in taking power that the Founders of the U.S.A. would have understood but, it seems, most of us do not understand and, I believe, do not want to understand. Even the most public face of the security services in the U.S. is now, virtually, unaccountable to anyone. Any police officer now, I’m sure, feels free to murder anyone who is relatively powerless if they feel like it–or they feel free to arrest and jail anyone they don’t like or their friends don’t like and get roughed up like a friend, a woman in her sixties, and then, the damage done and message sent, the case gets thrown out of court–or not if it gets to the point the DA gets involved. This is clearly visible today–imagine how free the clandestine services feel! We should be appreciative that the men and women who “serve” are as civilized and upstanding as they are or they would just be raping, looting, and killing.

    In a world where the security services monitor everything and the characters who allegedly committed the terrorist attacks in France were well-known to the police do you expect me to believe this just “happened” without anyone knowing it? When the ability to hire and fund informers by the West is so easy? And the ability of Western (or at least U.S.) security services to kill anyone at any time they want on a whim or based on evidence is what it is? Has it ever occurred to anyone to look and see if anyone in the French security agencies responsible for keeping track of these warriors (who may have been trained by Westerners to oppose Assad) gets fired or has to resign? Just to remind you, everyone involved with 9/11 in the U.S. went unpunished and usually promoted.

    I suggest we look into the history of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism and who funds that movement before we rush to create a complete police state within the Empire of Chaos.

    1. ambrit

      Apropos of that, do you remember Wm. R Corsons’ “The Betrayal” from 1968? I’m beginning to think that the Beltway is the New Saigon.

      1. Banger

        No I never read it. But I was close to someone intricately involved with the day-to-say decisions on the Vietnam War who told me point blank that the WH rejected expert opinion from all agencies and that the War had some “other” political agenda beyond “winning” it. The same dynamics are always at work in FP that go beyond the position papers and all the claptrap you see in the media.

        1. ambrit

          I remember the opening of the book, which said something to the effect that; “We have two adversaries in Vietnam; the North Vietnamese Army and the South Vietnamese Government.”
          He was running the early hamlet pacification program that got the locals directly involved in defending their villages from attacks by the V.C. It was working out quite well until Washington pulled the plug. Too many rice bowls in Saigon were being broken, it seems.

  7. Vatch

    Thanks, Lambert and Furzy, for pointing us to “The Serengeti strategy: How special interests try to intimidate scientists, and how best to fight back”. That’s an important article about the strategies used by advocates of institutionalized superstition.

    1. Light a Candle

      The Serengeti article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist was an excellent read.

      Interesting on two levels, the tactics used to harass independent scientists and also how the scientist recognized the need to bypass MSM and engage with citizens more directly.

  8. MikeNY

    Thanks for the link on Netanyahu and Hollande. I was at the gym yesterday and CNN (I think it was) kept showing footage of the service under the crawler: “Breaking News: World Unites in Paris to Mourn Victims” or some such. Natch, they only chose to show images of Hollande talking to Netanyahu. That’s ‘The World’ according to the MSM, I guess.

    I thought to myself, wow: can Hollande really be so tone deaf?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Netanyahu was too busy exercising his own free speech, by showing up as an unwelcome guest and — in his inimitably boorish style — urging some French citizens to emigrate:

        (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to ruffle a few feathers while taking part in the “Charlie Hebdo” rally in Paris on Sunday.

        Perhaps most awkward was his invitation to French Jews to migrate to Israel if they wanted, leaving French Prime Minister Manuel Valls scrambling to reassure the community it was safe and an integral part of France.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/12/us-france-shooting-netanyahu-idUSKBN0KL16P20150112

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Israel needs more love.

        So does Palestine, Russia, Iraq, Syria, China, or America, etc.

        We all need more love.

  9. Jim Haygood

    If you have deposits in a Greek bank, and you’re concerned about a possible default, or even forcible conversion of euros to new drachmas after the election, what are you going to do?

    Greece’s central bank said on Sunday that the situation with deposit outflows from the country was under control, as it tried to reassure markets ahead of a Jan. 25 snap election.

    Greek media have reported that there have been significant deposit outflows in recent days due to political uncertainty two weeks ahead of early elections.

    http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_11/01/2015_546108

    Since capital flight is ‘under control,’ there was no need to provide any, you know, ‘numbers.’

    1. ambrit

      The new Greek government would do itself a favour and put steep repatriation taxes on that money when it comes flooding back to buy up New Drachmas on the cheap. Maybe even exile for the oligarchs? The land that gave us ostracization can bring it back. Losing that money is a cheap price to pay for the removal of the oligarchs’ political influence.

  10. cwaltz

    I’m trying to figure out how you “up surveillance” when you are already listening to and recording phone calls, monitoring the internet, and logging all mail for law enforcement. I mean short of microchipping everyone what’s left?

      1. Vatch

        No, don’t cut down on your hummus. The main ingredient of hummus is garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and I’ve seen articles about how beans reduce a person’s risk of various cancers, including colon cancer. So hummus may reduce the need for a colonoscopy.

        Yes, I know, you were joking about surveillance, but I still think it’s worth reminding people about the benefits of a healthful diet.

    1. Ned Ludd

      Eliminate the need for parallel construction – evidence “laundering”.

      A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD [Special Operations Division] described the process. “You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it,” the agent said.

      After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. […]

      In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.

      “I was pissed,” the prosecutor said. “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court.”

      People have become inured to mass surveillance because of the Snowden leaks. Now that surveillance is acknowledged and assumed to be ubiquitous, it can be legalized.

      Our story set in motion the process of making all this stuff legal,” Mr. Lichtblau said. “Now it’s all encoded in law. Bush got everything he wanted on his way out of office.”

      Eventually, prosecutors will be allowed to overtly submit evidence from mass surveillance – gathered without a warrant – into trials, selectively, without creating “problems with discovery” or allowing the defense access to the complete record.

    2. Ned Ludd

      Access to collected information expands, and will keep on expanding.

      In 2008, the FBI began reviewing email accounts targeted by the NSA through the Prism program, according to the report and a New York Times story.

      Then, in October 2009, the FBI requested that information collected under the Prism program be “dual routed” to both the NSA and the FBI so that the FBI “could retain this data for analysis and dissemination in intelligence reports,” according to the IG’s report.

      And in April 2012, the FBI began nominating email addresses and phone numbers that the NSA should target in it surveillance program, according to the document.

      There is room to grow: “The Prism program isn’t supposed to target U.S. communications, but some domestic communications are inadvertently collected, according to oversight reports.” Eventually, people will accept that domestic phone calls and Internet activity are intentionally collected and shared with other government agencies.

  11. fresno dan

    Borrowers Forgo Billions through Failure to Refinance Mortgages NBER. Final paragraph:
    The authors also suggest that psychological factors, such as procrastination, mistrust, and the inability to understand complex decisions, may be barriers to refinancing.

    =========================================================
    Its as if they’re proud of being imbeciles
    Really, it never occurs to even ONE FED economist that home mortgage contracts are often a three card Monte grift?????????
    That big…thing….we had??? Just a one in a million year anomaly????
    ========================================================

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/economy/fed/2004-02-23-greenspan-debt_x.htm
    While borrowers can refinance fixed-rate mortgages, Greenspan said homeowners were paying as much as 0.5 to 1.2 percentage points for that right and the protection against a potential rate rise, which could increase annual after-tax payments by several thousand dollars.

    He said a Fed study suggested many homeowners could have saved tens of thousands of dollars in the last decade if they had ARMs. Those savings would not have been realized, however, had interest rates shot up.

    “American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage,” Greenspan said.

  12. fresno dan

    Dempsey says Iran’s role in Iraq might be ‘positive’ Al Monitor

    I’m glad the US has helped two long time enemies (one of which used children to clear mine fields) to reconcile…
    Is there anything US dipshitery….er, diplomacy can’t do???

  13. Fred Fubar

    Re: Palantir

    Interesting that that TC chose not to publish the source doc.

    In a similar vein, where are the Snowden docs?

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Deep Sea Explorers…A Creature Hardly Believe.

    It looks like a broom mopping the ocean floor – I would turn it over to Lost and Found and see if it will be claimed by a maid.

    And here is an important quote: To me, the best part of science is stuff like this: seeing something that completely takes my breath away.

    ‘Seeing,’ and not touching, grabbing, taking, removing, changing – just ‘seeing.’

    Unfortunately, if there is something inside this creature that can cure cancer, It’s certain science will be rounding them up for human consumption. (OK, not science, but scientists)

    1. fresno dan

      I just saw a documentary called “Blackfish” about Orcas at SeaWorld – truly heartbreaking. And the corporate lying that not only abuses the whales, but puts the trainers in great danger is truly appalling.

  15. ambrit

    Anyone else notice how copper is finding new lows regularly now? The PMs bounce around as speculators play their games, but copper, that’s the workhorse metal. This slow slide bodes us ill.

    1. ambrit

      Tuesday morning and copper is off another 3%.
      It hasn’t tracked oil before, so what gives? Hmmm… Two canaries falling off the perch at the same time? This coalmine ain’t looking so good all of a sudden.

  16. vidimi

    the chinese financial system is going to be the biggest story of the year as it will take down the global economy and indirectly lead to major conflict.

    i am convinced that ping an is the biggest ponzi scheme in history and it’s close to blowing up. there are probably more like it in china, if not as big (i.e. gresham’s dynamic)

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