Links 6/21/15

An interview with the owner of Montreal’s first cat cafe DailyDot

Female body hair ‘may stop women meeting twats Daily Mash

Humans creating sixth great extinction of animal species, say scientists Guardian

Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction Science Magazine (furzy mouse)

Engineers Stumble on a Whole New Method of Laser-Based Spacecraft Propulsion Motherboard

Al-Jazeera journalist arrested in Germany BBC

Alert: Freedom of Panorama Under Threat in Europe PetaPixel

Pierre Omidyar’s corporate spying scandal buried for good as eBay sells Craigslist stake Mark Ames, Pando (William B)

Chinese experts raise red flags about New Silk Road investments Asia Times

‘Austerity Kills’: Tens of Thousands March in London Against Brutal Cuts CTuttle, Firedoglake

It’s time to hold physical cash,’ says one of Britain’s most senior fund managers Telegraph

Tycoon accused of using Scottish firms in $1bn fraud HeraldScotland. More Moldova, which our Richard Smith fingered early on.

Grexit?

Greece is Europe’s failed state in waiting Larry Summers, Financial Times

Weekend of Fear in Greece as Banks, People Live Day to Day Bloomberg

Why There Cannot Be Greek Debt Relief Forbes. A very clear description of the problem. Also points out that reductions in the economic value of Greek debt have already occurred (a point routinely omitted in financial press and econopundit commentary).

What Happens If Greek Banks Can’t Open? Atlantic. A frustrating piece, in that it has some good information, but erroneously treats Argentina as a comparable for Greece (as Varoufakis pointed out himself). Argentina had its own currency and an independent central bank, a radically different and more favorable fact set than Greece has.

Greek debt crisis is the Iraq War of finance Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. This makes a point we’ve been making: the creditors have tools to get their way with Greece, which means over time that they’ve become more and more abusive (Lord Acton’s warning, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”). But I think he has one secondary point wrong. The 30 day grace period that Lagarde nixed I am pretty sure (per other reporters in the Torygraph) would be in addition to the 30 days before Lagarde reports an arrearage to the board. We may find out who is correct soon enough)

Greece travel alert: Foreign Office to review advice & warns tourists to prepare for worst Sunday Express. Also notice resorts are trying to play bank. Visa and MasterCard are not payment networks. They provide information but settlement happens through bank payment systems. In the event of any of capital controls, a bank holiday, or a Grexit, the resorts could find themselves seriously on the wrong side of these advances and take a big financial hit on top of the damage they’d suffer from cancellation of bookings over the summer that would result from impairment of tourist access to cash while visiting.

This is the human toll of the Greek debt crisis Business Insider

Yanis Varoufakis: A pressing question for Ireland before Monday’s meeting on Greece Irish Times. One thing to note: Greece and other EU countries have surrendered certain sovereign rights to EU institutions.

Ukraine/Russia

Putin Plenary Session Q&A Paul Craig Roberts

Russian President Vladimir Putin dicusses Russian-US relations, the crisis in Ukraine, and the future of Iran and Syria Charlie Rose (Kevin C)

Russian fury at Belgium asset seizure in Yukos oil case BBC

Syraqistan

How Failing to Make Peace with Palestinians Could Cost Israel $250 Billion Over the Next Decade Alternet

Inside Obama’s Stealth Startup Business + Innovation. Reslic: “all these techies think lack of shIT is the problem. it is bought “leadership” at all levels of gubmint that is the problem and all that comes from that. shIT just wants to sell more shIT ‘solutions’.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Former red light camera CEO pleads guilty to bribery, fraud in Ohio ars technica

Revealed: How DOJ Gagged Google over Surveillance of WikiLeaks Volunteer Intercept

Trade Traitors

“Progressive” Obama: He’s Melting, He’s Melting Counterpunch

Trade deal revolt precedes Obama’s California Trip USA Today

Inland temperatures hit low 100s as state’s 1st major wildfire rages Los Angeles Times

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Hundreds march in Charleston, Columbia to take down Confederate flag Washington Post

Police State Watch

Police officer wounds 4-year-old girl while trying to shoot her dog Raw Story

New York City Audit Calls Out Verizon For Failure To Build Out FiOS Network As Promised Consumerist

Why Sweet Briar all-women’s college will stay open Christian Science Monitor

The Mayor vs. the Mogul Politico. On Bloomberg’s return to Bloomberg.

Zombie update: the silent hedge fund apocalypse FT Alphaville

Tech Companies Fly High on Fantasy Accounting Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times

Class Warfare

People Aren’t Better Off Than Income Trends Show Demos

Locked Skaneateles Lake boat launch gate infuriates bass anglers Syracuse. Bob: “He doesn’t do a good job of describing the situation, in the name of keeping the battle for the commons alive. It worked, look through the comments.”

Antidote du jour: Christopher L: “My cute animal friend Duino, visiting Rouen Cathedral a few weeks back. He’s a Peruvian Naked Dog.”

duino links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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54 comments

  1. Clive

    Re: “Greece travel alert: Foreign Office to review advice … Also notice resorts are trying to play bank

    When a merchant becomes a licensee of VISA / MASTERCARD the actual agreement is with a merchant services provider (usually a large bank who operates in the locality in question). For example, here in England, Barclays Merchant Services is the dominant player, here is their typical offer although more advantageous and bespoke deals are available for super-high volume retailers.

    Both VISA / MASTERCARD and the merchant services providers impose stringent (and I do mean stringent — infractions of the contract between the merchant and merchant services provider not only void the contract to provide card processing services but also invalidate all authorised transactions — the merchant ends up trying to recover the payments made by card which the merchant services provider has refuted by another means, which forces the merchant to contact the customer and obtain payment in cash, cheque or money transfer since they would be disbarred from getting new card payments authorised. More often than not, this is impossible — how many customers would be so obliging ? — they usually have to write off the outstanding payments.)

    So merchants which don’t strictly adhere to the merchant services providers Terms and Conditions are incurring huge risks.

    In the context of this link / story, the key term in the merchant services provider’s contract with the merchant is that they must only take card payments for the goods or services which the merchant normally trades in. So if you’re a restaurant, you can take card payments for meals. If you’re a clothing store, you can take card payments for clothes. If you’re a hotel, you can take card payments for lodging. And so on. For large merchants with impeccable histories and proven good conduct in taking card payments (such as major supermarket chains), the merchant services providers do offer — on a very limited basis — the facility to use card payments for general merchandise but also offer “cashback” i.e. the retailer gives the customer cash when they pay for their groceries. This facility requires the merchant to identify the cards which they have given “cashback” on that day and to limit the total amount of cash extended to a very modest amount (e.g. here in the UK this is £50 per card per day).

    Any user of card processing merchant services is playing with fire if they are at anything other than a trivial level abusing the facilities provided to them under licence / contract by the merchant services providers and, by extension, VISA / MASTERCARD / AMEX. These are hard-nosed institutions and would not hesitate for a single second to pull card processing services from huge swathes of Greek industry if they had reason to believe their card payment processing infrastructure was being abused by the merchants. The effect would be pretty horrendous for the all-important lodging and tourism sector.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for the information on that other troika, Visa/Mastercard/AmExp, sorry, institutions.

      “Don’t try to be too smart. We’re the institutions.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “And don’t call us the Triumvirate, either. Tricky wordplay won’t work.”

      2. German native speaker

        Oh, and when a hotel puts charges through on YOUR card that are not valid? While you are a US business traveler, or tourist, within the US? (This happens even here!!). And you can then turn to your card issuer (the very same you denounce here as “Troika”) and get back your money? Sorry, but your remark is so off the wall, I can’t believe it.

        Do you really think that if one has to check and/or dispute almost every charge with a vendor, that this would enhance commerce?

  2. Santi

    Greece is Europe’s failed state in waiting Larry Summers

    And I thought that Europe’s failed state was the Ukraine… but then maybe it is Russia’s failed state. Not really sure.

      1. Clive

        That argument reminds me (here in England) of Scottish nationalism, for as long as anyone could remember a niche issue which was destined to forever be a political Cinderella. Until it wasn’t.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks to many great mind/brain researchers, it’s possible to maintain popular delusions, and let the crowds have their madness, longer than ever.

        1. optimader

          Neither the name nor the acronym describe the function, so it is abstraction that doesn’t merit awareness to the short attention span majority..

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The distract modern mind, along with a zero-nutritional value diet, is our bread and circuses.

              1. optimader

                yep,
                this is a litmus test for a still relatively wealthy society, if you believe adversity focuses attention.
                It seems low fidelity, crappy food, the next larger flatscreen TV, the kardasians and 300hp Sears Sheds on wheels are what still capture the imagination

  3. Yonatan

    “Russian fury at Belgium asset seizure in Yukos oil case BBC”

    More BBC pr. Unsurprisingly, the Russians have expected this and Lavrov has said reciprocal actions would be taken (what a surprise). My guess is the value of Belgian assets in Russia is greater than the value of Russian assets in Belgium.

    1. tgs

      The BBC piece does not give an accurate picture of what’s going on. Alexander Mercouris gives a much more accurate account here.

      The short story is that the European Court of Human Rights made the first decision in the case.

      The right of the European Court of Human Rights to look into Khodorkovsky’s case is undisputed.

      The European Court of Human Rights administers the European Convention of Human Rights. Russia has signed and ratified the Convention and is bound by it. The Convention requires Russia to prosecute its cases properly and to ensure that any case brought to trial is conducted properly and fairly.

      The European Court of Human Rights decided that the case Russia brought against Khodorkovsky by and large met those criteria. It decided that Khodorkovsky is a crook who defrauded the Russian state of billions by engaging in massive tax evasion. It decided that the Russian state was right to bring legal proceedings against him. The claim it did so for purely political reasons — because Khodorkovsky was a political threat to the Russian government — is untrue.

      They did find procedural errors and awarded 1.9 billion.

      The Hague Tribunal occurred after the first award.


      The right of the Hague Tribunal to look into Khodorkovsky’s case is by contrast hotly disputed, and not just by the Russians.

      It claimed the right to do so on the strength of Russia’s signature to the EU’s Energy Charter.

      Russia did sign the Energy Charter but refused to ratify it. Russia has insisted that it is not bound by the Energy Charter.

      Up to now this has been accepted by everybody – including the EU. Indeed the EU constantly complains about it.

      I think it fair to say that the BBC not surprisingly leaves out a good deal of important background information on this story.

  4. Carolinian

    Re the Confederate flag: a Republican state legislator in my upstate area has said he will introduce a bill to take it down. Because our state legislature is very much a part time affair this probably won’t happen any time soon. Haley, when asked, has said that the flag is mandated by the legislative compromise that finally got the thing off the Capitol dome in 2000. It currently flies from a flagpole on the Capitol grounds–not in front–as part of a Confederate war memorial.

    http://www.goupstate.com/article/20150620/articles/150629991

    And here’s a tour of the public mood in Charleston from today’s NYT. The race war in SC that Dylann Roof said he wanted to start (because, according to his “manifesto,” nobody else among his white friends seemed to be interested) doesn’t appear to be happening.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/us/after-killings-a-southern-tourist-destination-charleston-remains-calm-and-open.html

    1. craazyman

      This dude (i.e. the shooter) seems like he has more in common with Colin Ferguson than Nathan Bedford Forrest. The vast majority of people appear to agree. A few dead-enders lost in Civil War nostalgia still see a race war but anybody with good sense sees a class war.

    2. optimader

      race war in SC that Dylann Roof said he wanted to start (because, according to his “manifesto,” nobody else among his white friends seemed to be interested) doesn’t appear to be happening.

      If anything, he may end up being a catalyst for the opposite?
      Shame that his jacket w/ the Rhodesian -SAfrican flags (assuming he wore it anywhere other than in the photo- we don’t know that actually) were not sufficient reason for his folks or a reasonable adult in his life to start talking to him.

      It would be a nice gesture if private individuals in acts of civil disobedience took it upon themselves to remove the confederate flag til they stopped putting it up.

    3. Carolinian

      One correction: the flag–I’ve never seen it–is placed in front of the state capitol as approached from Columbia’s main street rather than in back as I stated here and elsewhere. However it is mandated to fly at full staff by a law that can only be repealed by two third majorities of the state house and senate. More below including its use in the Georgia and Mississippi state flags.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flags_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America

  5. Brindle

    re: Locked Skaneateles Lake/ Jersey Bass Fisherman

    The comments section went along well with my morning coffee:

    —-Taxpayer91302

    All lakes in NY should charge a highly appropriate fee for use. Figura, think about it.
    Did you know that Skaneateles lake supplies the water to the city of Syracuse?
    For those of you who do not reside in Skan, consider the taxes.
    Residents are not even able to drive though the town in the summer due to tourist congestion. The tourists each buy an ice cream cone, at most, while they take up parking spots, litter, pollute, and take over the village, and do not pay taxes.
    Think Skaneateles residents have an attitude? Check your own
    NEW JERSEY fisherpeople should PAY a high fee for the honor and privilege to use a CLEAN lake that the Skan residents pay for, care for, and maintain.
    Grow up.—-

    —-Hawkeye63

    Well. I figure it was a ticked off fisherman. Why would the DEC allows an out of state bass club exclusive rights to every parking spot? On opening day of bass season. I wonder if a resident of the town a rich one at that didn’t pull some strings to close it the the public today and tomorrow and have his bass club have it all to them selves. Yes the locals resent the idea of “Boaters” using there lake. And have resorted to many low pranks. But the tax payers of New York should have the “exclusive” and only rights to state tax payer launches. Thanks—-

    1. bob

      It could have also been one of the bassmasters who locked the gate, to get out on the lake first.

      The bit that caught my attention was that one guy had a set of bolt cutters, and used them to cut the lock. In a different neighborhood, simply being in possession of bolt cutters is a crime. Burglary tools.

      I do think keeping jersey out is good public policy. As I said to yves in the email, just make sure it’s ALL of jersey, hedgies, gov’s and billionaires alike.

    2. ambrit

      Is the lake legally considered a navigable waterway? If so, by Federal Statute, public access is mandated at every road intersection with the ‘waterway.’ (We had a wealthy local family try to charge for access to the Bogue Chitto River at a very popular road bridge boat access point. Then a series of unfortunate events began to occur to this families holdings. The lock on the chain they put across the boat launch ramp got cut so many times they gave up trying to keep people out ‘after hours.’ When we moved away this little pot boiler was still going on.)

    3. German native speaker

      Please tell about the pranks!

      “while they take up parking spots, litter, pollute, and take over the village”….lol you forgot the bathrooms at the beach park, but you are almost correct about the icecream cones….

  6. diptherio

    Putting on my tinfoil hat for a second…

    The proposed EU law banning the taking of pictures in public spaces that contain copyrighted works of art and/or architecture isn’t about IP protection at all, it’s about making it illegal to document public events and gatherings. Want to live stream that anti-austerity protest? You’re now breaking the law because that statue in the background is copyrighted! Look for the bobbies to start arresting citizen journalists at protests and rallies for IP theft.

    Everyone being constantly armed with a camera is a real problem for the PTB, but you can’t ban phones…so ban photography instead!

    1. Antifa

      It is perfectly feasible to build a chip into a digital camera that ‘pixelates’ and fuzzes out everything beyond a certain distance from the focal plane. If these kinds of laws are enforced, these kinds of cameras will become standard issue, starting with journalists.

      With such a camera, you could take a picture of your spouse holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and get only a picture of your spouse.

      Problem solved.

  7. Benedict@Large

    This page crashed 6 times before I got it up safely (using vanilla Microsoft). 5 crash and reloads, and some sort of dead end frame error in the middle of them.

    1. Oregoncharles

      For what it’s worth – no such problems using Ubuntu and Firefox.

      I suspect your disc drive, but I’m just guessing.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Should be a good question on the SAT for our children:

    Does (Human-induced species losses, expressed as negative) + (GDP growth) = constant ?

    Plot them on a chart for that last 1,000 years.

  9. jfleni

    RE: New York City Audit Calls Out Verizon For Failure To Build Out FiOS Network

    The solution is simple! The City should build and operate their own network (Hey bubba, jobs for years!). Verizon ends up with very little, and the City collects the ($$$) revenue and New Yorkers have a world class system, finally.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Travel alert.

    Will Evans-Pritchard update his article to include the British Foreign Office as well, in inciting people (warning not go visit Greece, in this case) against Greece?

    People, please do not talk about an “uncontrollable crisis” if there is no creditor deal, followed by soaring inflation, “an exponential rise in unemployment”, and a “collapse of all that the Greek economy has achieved over the years of its EU, and especially its euro area, membership”.

    Greeks will not find this sort of information elsewhere on the net, if we all don’t talk about it.

  11. tommy strange

    Damn, this site is so good. I go to five other sites everyday. Read all of counterpunch of course. But yves and lambert do such an amazing job daily. I may lose my warehouse job soon, (yes zero hedges’ posts about dropping retail sales are very real), but I’m gonna donate anyway. I like all the ‘pop’ stuff added to links too. I’m a heavy anarchist socialist reader, but love the fun and arcane at the same time. As a plug….. If any of you have money, please donate to AK press too. Bad times with the fire. Oakland City may be targeting them, not just following rules after the fire. Pay $400, and you get a whole years’ of books!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Police gun control – has the time arrived yet?

      Water (a bottle) for your California police gun…

    2. fresno dan

      Police officer wounds 4-year-old girl while trying to shoot her dog Raw Story

      So….after the little girl was shot, was the dog than shot? If not, than it was not actually necessary to shoot any thing?

      So the policeman will be on paid leave (a vacation!) for a few weeks, a grand jury convened in 9 months,,,,,and than …….nothing.

      1. Chris

        “The Sheriff and his Deputies should never be armed in public. Every urban riot, shoot-out and blood-bath (involving guns) in recent memory has been set off by some trigger-happy cop in a fear frenzy.”

        Hunter Thompson

  12. diptherio

    The Rouen Cathedral is a copyrighted piece of architecture. Promptly remove this picture or face litigation.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wait till they trademark the word ‘litigation.’

      Then, you wont’ be able to say that.

      1. diptherio

        I’m gonna copyright the © logo and sue ’em all for enfringement! bwaahaahaahaaa!

        1. Chris in Paris

          Funny thing is, there is a new private Joan of Arc musetainment space where the apocalypse portal to the Cathedral used to be and…no photos allowed.

          I guess that’s not so funny.

  13. optimader

    RE’It’s time to hold physical cash,’ says one of Britain’s most senior fund managers

    He declined to predict the exact trigger but said it was more likely to happen in the next five years rather than 10

    Well that’s really going out on a limb!.. yawn.
    I think the trigger will be the yet to be announced asteroid strike. Heard it here first.

    (BTW, how can it happen in the next 5 years but not the next 10. That would make an interesting Venn diagram.)

  14. susan the other

    It’s catch 22 squared. The ECB won’t buy Greek bonds because those Greek banks selling them are insolvent because of the EU’s austerity demands but the ECB encourages others to continue lending to Greece by buying their bonds. OK then. You’re kidding, right? The complete destruction of politix, sovereignty and reason. Where once there was a shred of logic, now there is nothing. The ECB is a weapon of mass destruction. And the ECB is still hoping to make a profit for its shareholders. Dear Jesus. Either Greece should be allowed to monetize its debt and stay within the EU or the ECB should be held accountable for the fraud it is advancing. A profit to the “shareholders” makes the ECB the biggest vulture on the planet. As it is Greece cannot monetize anything because it has no monetary sovereignty. That’s the only reason there can’t be a “haircut” to its own banks done by devaluing its own currency. Forbes has managed to misrepresent the reality here. The ECB should be sent to the goddamned Hague. And also then why did Tsipras call the IMF “criminal” – seems like there are missing pieces to this story.

      1. subgenius

        although thats catch 22^22, rather than 22 squared. Heat is intense in SoCal today…

  15. Michael

    Re: Why There Cannot Be Greek Debt Relief, the author states that “to solve the Greek debt problem something like 50% of the debt needs to be written off.” Interesting that this roughly equals whats been loaned to Greece via the ESFS, since 2010.

  16. Vatch

    Regarding the Sixth Mass Extinction: it didn’t start in the 20th century, although it certainly accelerated then. It’s been known for a long time that whenever modern humans migrated to a new region, animal extinctions increased in that area. Whether it’s Australia 60,000 to 40,000 years ago, the Americas 15,000 to 10,000 years ago, the Caribbean and Mediterranean islands 5,000 years ago, or Madagascar and New Zealand in the past 2,000 years, the same pattern is visible. The big extinctions start when the humans arrive.

    [Sorry if this is a duplicate post. I lost connection to the NC server while posting this the first time, and when the message didn’t appear, I decided that there was an inter tubes mishap (probably not an NC problem).]

  17. jo6pac

    Inside Obama’s Stealth Startup Business + Innovation. Reslic: “all these techies think lack of shIT is the problem. it is bought “leadership” at all levels of gubmint that is the problem and all that comes from that. shIT just wants to sell more shIT ‘solutions’.”

    If this true than amazing but there has been so little or anything that is good from this potus it just might be a way to control us serfs better since nsa has failed.

  18. VietnamVet

    The Forbes article is actually weird. It admits the Greek debt can’t be written off because it no longer is private hands. It is in the hands of transnational institutions that are supported by taxpayers of the sovereign member states. Yet, the problem today is the banks within Greece. They are on the verge of collapse because the Greek economy sucks due to austerity imposed by the institutions and debt repayments. The Greek government also has not imposed capital flight controls or taxed its own plutocrats to pay for increased economic stimulus spending. The Greek state has no surplus cash.

    The article indicates taxpayers have power. They have none. Austerity rules Europe in its iron hand. The technocrats’ bosses are the bank owners and plutocrats who grease their revolving doors not the politicians who are farther down the totem pole. The oligarchs’ end game is wealth extraction.

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