Links 1/6/16

Black hole caught ‘burping’ gas BBC

North Korea conducts its first H-bomb test Politico

North Korea claims to test first H-bomb BBC

North Korea atomic test provokes outrage DW

Facing Up to Climate Reality Project Syndicate (David L)

How Our Reliance on Technology is Making Us Easier to Scam Vice (resilc)

Apple Scales Back Orders for Its iPhones Wall Street Journal

Apple is starting to smell a bit MacroBusiness

Facebook accused of deliberately breaking some of its Android apps Guardian

By the end of my first year as a doctor, I was ready to kill myself Guardian (furzy)

Fears mount over rise of sovereign-backed corporate debt Financial Times. Fannie/Freddie redux.


The Chinese devaluation threat – again Financial Times

Chinese stocks bounce back as authorities step up intervention Telegraph

China’s Stock-Market Interventions Postpone Grim Reality Wall Street Journal

If China stumbles again, so will stock markets, warns IMF chief economist Telegraph

Refugee Crisis

Why the EU’s refugee relocation policy is a flop Politico

Germany shocked by Cologne New Year gang assaults on women BBC

Meet the Two Brothers Making Millions Off the Refugee Crisis in Scandinavia Bloomberg (resilc)

EU Seeks to Avoid Brexit at All Costs Spiegel (resilc)

Democracy in Europe requires Eurozone breakup Bill Mitchell

MPs to debate calls to ban Donald Trump BBC


7 stories you should read to really understand the Islamic State Washington Post (furzy mouse)

Saudi-Iran Feud Poses Threat to Iraq’s Effort to Combat ISIS New York Times

Saudi Recklessness Exposes Our Own American Conservative (resilc)

The Nation That Executed 47 People In 1 Day Sits On The U.N. Human Rights Council Huffington Post

Does the unrest in Saudi Arabia mean their government is tottering? Fabius Maximus (resilc)

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the Forgotten Shiites of Saudi Arabia Atlantic (resilc)

US Corporate Media Amplifies Saudi PR Machine Real News Network (furzy mouse)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The big data of bad driving, and how insurers plan to track your every turn Washington Post. Matt Stoller warned that this was in the works years ago, at NC.


One Reason Hillary Clinton Might Underperform In The Early States FiveThirtyEight (resilc). As if such a development might not change the trajectory? Sanders raised almost as much as Clinton did gross last quarter, which given his vastly lower fundraising costs, means he very well might have brought in more on a net basis.

Bernie Sanders Attacks Hillary Clinton Over Regulating Wall Street New York Times (furzy)

Bernie Sanders rips Wall Street banks in New York City speech: ‘Greed is not good’ Raw Story (furzy)

Bernie Sanders says he can break up the banks in a year. Is that even possible? Quartz. Resilc: “If you are not a lightweight you can do it. Play bad ass with those fed shits. Look at every taxi voucher they did and nail their asses.” I think the issue is a little different: if you impose significant penalties (most important, on C-level pay) on banks that don’t show adequate progress, they’ll operate in a more Balkanized manner even if they have not yet executed the separation, which will end the cross subsidies and reduce systemic risk.

Wall Street Reform and Financial Policy Bernie Sanders, YouTube. You need to see this for the warm-up speech. Sanders looks to be gaining support among black local leaders, and as far as I can tell, the mainstream media has chosen not to notice.

Donald Trump revives ‘birther’ views in attack on fellow Republican Ted Cruz Guardian

Why Are Republican Candidates Backing Saudi Arabia in Its Fight With Iran? Atlantic

Even Insured Can Face Crushing Medical Debt, Study Finds New York Times

2016 Obamacare Outlook Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review (resilc). Important.

US State Media Merges With Right Wing Interpreter Mag ShadowProof (furzy)

\Why the U.S. Justice Department Is Suing Volkswagen Atlantic (furzy). Readers can no doubt infer the real reason…

Republicans Propose Volkswagen Bailout Right After the U.S. Government Sues Over Emissions Lies Gawker (resilc)

More Mexicans are leaving the US than coming, recent study shows Raw Story

El Niño prompts an outreach effort to get LA’s homeless into shelters Los Angeles Times

State of emergency declared over polluted drinking water in Michigan city Guardian

Angry White Men

Armed, Pathetic and Hungry: How the Oregon Militants’ Revolutionary Plan Went Sideways Rolling Stone

How the Leader of the Oregon Armed Protest Benefited From a Federal Loan Program Mother Jones

How the U.S. media would cover the Oregon siege if it happened in another country. Slate (resilc)


Tearful Obama Outlines Steps to Curb Gun Deaths New York Times. Don’t get me started….

‘It gets me mad’ – Obama acts alone on gun control Associated Press

Small-Bore? President Obama’s Actions on Guns Make Marginal Changes NBC

Pfizer and America’s Corporate Exodus New Yorker (furzy)

Dick Smith accused of pumping up gift voucher sales just prior to entering receivership Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

December US New Car Sales “Down, Exceptionally Weak” Says Bloomberg; WSJ Says Up and Strong Michael Shedlock

Foxes make good economic forecasts but hedgehogs can be helpful Financial Times (Scott)

Class Warfare

This Is Not Democracy. This Is Oligarchy. Bernie Sanders

Wall Street Taking Over Nonprofit Sector Shadowproof (furzy mouse)

The Silence of Ageism in the Progressive Movements Telesur

High-Level Federal Reserve Official: Fed Intentionally “Front-Loaded An Enormous [Stock] Market Rally in Order to Create a Wealth Effect” George Washington

Antidote du jour. Pamela A: “The pigs are from a Toronto public farm.” I never knew there was such a thing as a public farm.

pigs links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. abynormal

    my fav comment regarding NK ‘testing’: “Obama’s response to this threat should be to tell Kim that unless he immediately suspends all further nuclear tests, the U.S. will deploy our central planners on their country to “manage” their economy. That should be all they need to hear to stop this nonsense.”

    1. Steven D.

      But he gave such a beautiful speech on guns. Did you see those real tears? Such sincerity. Or at least an almost perfect replica of sincerity. He’s wonderful!

    2. craazyboy

      I think the Chinese may have something to say about it. If they aren’t too busy managing their stock market. The last time N. Korea was getting uppity, China threatened to cut off sizable foreign aid payments.

      If not them, there is Super Abe and his new budding military. ‘Course S. Korea will want us to do something about it. Obama will say some tough talk, then head for the golf course. If we’re lucky.

      1. abynormal

        I think the Chinese may have something to say about it
        I’m thinking the Chinese not only ‘gave’ permission they set it up…nothin seems to be stick’n to the walls for the Great China Unwind.

        1. ambrit

          Unless there is a nefarious plot worthy of the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu afoot, the Chinese will be very alarmed at a Hydrogen Weapon possessing North Korea. The Mandarins in the Inner (Party) City have always had problems with the Pyongyang ‘government.’ Loose cannons are bad enough, but loose high yield nukes less than a half hours flight from your own Capitol?
          This as insane as if some American Bureau were to send guns down to the Cartels in Mexico. After all, who would be that stupid?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The ‘real’ last emperor of China, Yuan Shikai, got his start in the late Qing mandarin power game as a Chinese Imperial Resident in Korea.

            Perhaps, this is a golden opportunity for some smart Chinese communist comrade.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        When was the last test? I haven’t looked it up, but the NATO invasion of Libya was a major breaking point in the international order. 41’s new world order was ended when the U.S. invaded a country with a government we had just conducted a disarmament agreement with 5 years prior. Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran are aware of the perfidy of the West. “Missteps” and “over reaction” could be tolerated during the war on terror (Moscow and Beijing would have gone crazy too), but Libya and now Syria (host for millions of Iraqi refugees and Western torture center) were examples of outright assaults on the international order.

        Since then the Chinese have created their South China naval bases and begun construction of a naval base in the Persian Gulf. North Korea is a problem U.S. clearly the states. The U.S. can’t bully North Korea without a major build up which is politically impossible.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if this is about stretching U.S. resources without Beijing directly rattling the sabers. Obama will be under pressure to respond in a fashion from the usual suspects which leaves Obama with a choice of skipping a rough draft of golf to deal with the NK crisis or cutting back in Syria to save his tee time. Cuts to the actual defense budget to bailout contractors means the U.S. doesn’t even have the cash to operate the carriers, only one is deployed.

        1. samhill

          NYT headline today

          North Korea Says It Has Detonated a Hydrogen Bomb

          If the claim is true, it would drastically escalate the nuclear challenge from one of the world’s most dangerous states, but it may be weeks or longer before other nations can determine what kind of test was conducted

          One of the world’s most dangerous states – really! Other than being fascist to their own people, causing a mass famine, and kidnapping Japanese children to mindfuck into secret agents, does this insignificant country really match up to the US which since WW2 has killed millions and millions of people, continuously for 70 years on a daily basis somewhere in the world? Spending trillions upon trillions to shoot, bomb, starve, sicken, jail, torture, render homeless, hundreds of millions around the globe? A nation that has created a colossal profit mechanism as the foundation of it’s economic system for applying extreme technology to the mass obliteration of people who own nothing more than a few pigs, goats and a pair of flip flops? In 2008 I read we spent $50 million for each Taliban killed in Afghanistan (seems correct if not low). The rich, satisfied, and comfortable killing the poor and desperate with limitless resources and high technology non-stop for 70 years. I’d say that takes the honors for most dangerous country. Not to mention that for the first 10 years we tested our nuclear weapons on our own soldiers! Sorry, I had to get that out.

          1. ChrisFromGeorgia

            The whole “crazy Norks” narrative breaks down when you read history or recall that we basically leveled the entire country and defoliated a good chunk of the countryside as well during the Korean war.

            In fact more bombs were dropped on N. Korea than the entire Pacific theater during WWII. And just for good measure some of those included napalm.

            Seems that having a decent nuclear threat ready for deterrence might just save them from another neo-con “excellent” adventure.

            1. Propertius

              I think you’re confusing Korea and Vietnam. We “only” dropped 167,000 tons of bombs on North Korea, as opposed to over 3 million on the Axis. Defoliants were not used in Korea.

              1. RabidGandhi

                Chris is 100% correct. The 635,000 tonnes of ordnance was more than the amount used in the Pacific Theatre in WWII. “Axis” is not limited to the Pacific theatre.

                Also you seem to be confusing napalm with agent orange. Napalm is a type of chemical fire bombing that was used extensively against the Korean people (33,000 tonnes). Agent Orange is one of the defoliants used in Vietnam.

                Your comment is typical of the overlooking of the Korean war in the US. It may be a “forgotten war” there, but the North Koreans have not forgotten how their entire country was leveled.

          2. john

            The human race has detonated over 3000 nuclear weapons for “tests.” Add in ‘civilian’ nuclear power incidents, ‘disposal’ and the extraction process and you have a real problem for humanity.

            Here Here! No apologies. Truth is better than a majority.
            Or palatability.

            I hear more and more that the US unleashed Typhus & TB on Germany during the war.

            Ironically, Uncle Sam may have killed Anne Frank.

            We defeated Germany, but could not defeat Vietnam? The war in Vietnam was intentional. Grind up the produce of the nation.

            Terrain aside, what stopped us from occupying Hanoi itself, if not for the American generals?… and the financiers who control them.

          3. perpetualWAR

            My “name” says it all, no?

            I appreciate your comment and it was so freeing to me to read it. TY

      3. Propertius

        Obama will say some tough talk, then head for the golf course..

        You forgot the most important part: Obama will say some tough talk, vow to “never rest”, and then head to the golf course.

      4. different clue

        The ChinaGov has long taken delight in NorKor causing difficulties for America and America’s allies in the region. That’s why the ChinaGov keeps “not- preventing” NorKor from doing these things.

        The best outcome would be such watertight sanctions that the economy and society and government all collapse so fast the Big Baby Kim does not have time to order all that artillery to shell Seoul into rubble. Then let us hope all the North Koreans swarm over the border into China looking for food. It would serve China well and truly right.

      5. Optimader

        If i were an also-ran despot on a budget, looking to negotiate away something i dont have for rice for the people and beef tenderloin and scotch for the “more equal”, i would patiently wait for the next 5.whatever earthquake and promptly announce a successful h-bomb test
        Just say’in, but hey, i would be one cynical despot…

    3. fresno dan

      George Bush still parachutes in his 90’s.
      Should be simple enough to send Bernacke and Greenspan to paratrooper training.
      Than put them in a plane and push them out over North Korea (note that I didn’t say anything about actually outfitting them with parachutes…)

        1. fresno dan

          I would say, that being economists, they can just come up with a model…..assume a parachute.

      1. craazyboy

        Yellen too, while we’re at it. Forget the parachutes, but please give them a helicopter. They can’t do good work unless they have a helicopter. May as well send in Drahgi too, with his Big Bazooka. Then there’s Abe. I forgot what Abe has.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Helicopters and Bazookas will all be replaced by drones.

          A stork-drone with a sack of newly minted money for each taxpayer.

      2. Christopher Fay

        American women are good for front line combat now, too, so why the discrimination against Yellen? And let’s toss Larry Summers over the side too so he can show us how right he would do it.

  2. windsock

    “I never knew there was such a thing as a public farm.” We have them here in London (UK) and they are called “city farms”. They are used to educate city children about food and production and lifecycle processes for both plants and livestock .

    The one I volunteered on had an orchard, vegetable plots, goats, pigs, sheep, two cows and bee hives. Besides school visits, we were also open to the public and sold processed food (such as jams and chutneys) as well as fresh produce which had been grown by projects run for people with learning difficulties. We also processed the wool from the sheep, sold honey and had a cafe. It was run on a not-for-profit basis (i.e. any profits were re-invested in the project).

    1. Paper Mac

      The farm in question appears to be Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown, which is not really a functioning farm so much as a public attraction- like a park or a petting zoo. AFAIK it does not produce any meaningful amount of food. It was recently at risk of closure and has been kept open by public donations. It’s a nice thing to have but the UK takes these things much more seriously and we would be wise to emulate the British model more closely..

      1. Arthur Williams

        It’s hardly even public. I lived about a mile away from that farm for over 15 years on Broadview and I never knew it was there. Maybe if they advertised its presence it would make a few more bucks.

        1. Inverness

          It’s free, maintained by the Toronto Parks program, although you can give donations. It is quite lovely, and school groups are often there to learn about the animals. It’s a nice break from all of that big city sprawl you get in Toronto.

  3. Swedish Lex

    Regarding the situation with refugees being a lucrative business.

    The same applies in Sweden. The central Government pays bilions of SEK to communes and private operators that run the refugee centers. Can be “good business” for remote communes that get extra cash. Hotels, conference centers, everything basically is fully booked.

    You can actually regard this as an extraordinary Keynesian stimulus splash with money being littered over the economy.

    As regards cricket (discussed in the article) there is a team of young Afghan players in the middle of nowhere in Sweden. A former Swedish basket ball player who lives out there noticed that the boys were restless so he started a cricket team (which is not played in Sweden):

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Would make a great movie if some young Afghan kid gets his start in cricket and makes it all the way to become the premier of Sweden.

      Afterwards, he then leads his people to the promised land on the other side of Atlantic.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The Narragansett rune stone is more Knights Templar than Vikings, I think.

          Having been to the Holy Land, they might have learned to play Polo, if not cricket

  4. Jim A

    What with the apparent leader of the Oregon gunmen being LDS, you’d think they’d have packed more food.

    1. Torsten

      Perhaps you inserted a link? That (and probably keywords and screenname/email mismatches and whatever) seems to cause a comment to go into limbo until Yves or Lambert come online to clean out the Augean stables.

      That must be a particularly odious task on days like today when they post something about gun control . . .

      We forgive them their rare bursts of rage.

  5. edmondo

    MPs to debate calls to ban Donald Trump

    It’s nice to see that national legislatures on both sides of the pond spend lots of time solving problems that don’t exist, e.g., the Congressional hearings on steroid use in baseball (one of the only hearings in recent memory when EVERY committee member showed up.) Priorities!!!!!!!!!!

  6. allan

    `The big data of bad driving, and how insurers plan to track your every turn’

    Just imagine when this shows up in health insurance.
    You will be given a discount on your AetnaCignaUnitedHealth plan
    in return for allowing the company to implant a small device in your chest cavity
    which will continuously upload your vitals to the cloud.
    This will allow confirmation of your qualifying for the non-smoker premium,
    as well as monitoring for other self-destructive behaviors.

    But there will be no pressure on you to do this. None whatsoever. Promise.

    1. flora

      Yes. We can trust the technology because Health IT big data is secure, cross-platform compatible with common standards, oh.. wait…
      “…we believe that standards would be incredibly helpful,,…” gosh. ya think?

      Then there’s the problem of wearables possibly violating HIPAA.

      I’m sure the car insurance industry does not have these problems. /s

    2. Dave

      What do you think that RFID chip in your credit card(s) and passport are for?
      While not in your body, they are on your body, and when combined with your cell phone can give a pretty good snapshot of what, where, who, and why you a ‘doin.

      I carry a dumb phone, only turned on when I want to make a call or check my messages, have cards in a special wallet and pay cash for everything under a couple hundred bucks. No reason that anyone reading this can’t do the same, except laziness or inertia or a need to be on constant standby.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Everyone is in the database.

            Do we have to monitor suspicious looking cats or chickens as well? Especially free-ranging chickens.

            1. guest

              Where I live, it is compulsory to “tag” pets such as cats and dogs with an identification RFID, and, I believe, likewise for farm animals.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                First, non-human animals.

                Then, they will come for human animals like you and me.

      1. awbone

        Well, you and anyone like minded can pay cash until…the PTB’s decide to end any transactions using cash. Electronic financial transactions are so much easier to data mine and to track.

        Wasn’t there a link about Sweden the way in doing away with cash?

    3. fresno dan

      I’m kinda thinking they’re not gonna stick it up your chest…
      and medical grade lube isn’t covered.

      1. Antifa

        The initial hurdle is getting humans to accept implants, which will be accomplished by offering them lower costs for car insurance, the ability to drive through toll booths without slowing down, improved credit scoring, and discounts from Amazon.

        Then we can sell them the idea that — hey — if you’re gonna have a chip or two inside you, why not put it to work? The new Escalade model chip will not only monitor your vitals, it will do something about them without you even having to ask. How’s that for service?

        Blood pressure going up in rush hour traffic? Escalade releases a bit of Xanax or a beta blocker. Allergies acting up? Have some Claritin, in just the right amount. Falling asleep from too much Oxy or some street heroin? Escalade has Naloxone ready to keep you awake and driving right between those white lines. Feeling suicidal? About to jump? Your Escalade implant will put you to sleep in a split second so you never get over the railing of the bridge. We’ll even alert local police so they can come and hit you for trying such a stunt.

        But none of that will never happen, because Escalade will keep you happy.

      2. jrs

        right, it’s unnecessary to implant it in your chest, though it does have the advantage of being permanent. They could just have you swallow a pill that monitors your vitals on it’s transition through your body. Businesses that make such products already exist.

  7. Inverness

    MPs debate to ban Donald Trump. Well, I’m for anything which isolates this kind of atrocious behaviour. If only they were also for the arrest warrants of Tony Blair and George Bush for crimes against humanity, I’d be able to take their motives more seriously.

  8. timbers

    About Obama and guns. Didn’t Obama legalize guns in National Parks, overturning Ronald Reagan’s ban? That’s what memory tell me and when I briefly googled it, it seems a bit more complex but basically correct. That’s why I don’t pay attention to Obama on guns (or anything really except to gauge his latest direction of scheming on behalf to the 0.01%.)

    And here’s a quote. You don’t have to agree but it’s an eye catcher:

    “Anyone who thinks that it is still possible to effect positive change in the US by voting is a conspiracy theorist of the most miserable, deluded kind.”

  9. Skippy

    On the apple thingy….

    Lets not forget…

    Pixar Animation Studios

    In 1986, Jobs acquired the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd. and renamed it Pixar Animation Studios. He remained CEO and majority shareholder at 50.1% until its acquisition by The Walt Disney Company on May 5, 2006. Jobs became Disney’s largest individual shareholder at 7% and a member of Disney’s Board of Directors.

    Skippy…. Toy Story saved him from oblivion…. only to create a walled garden cult… digital portal for fee extraction.

    1. bob

      Tried to post a link to mark ames new story on white slaver lucas. The dark side was a team effort, Jobs (emperor) and Lucas (vader?). Great reporting. Hope it comes out of the mod cue.

        1. fresno dan

          Its like that Rudolph made out of tennis balls – no matter how many times I see it I enjoy it – and there are some good morals to the story….

          Hmmmm – no matter how many times I read about the silicon valley scam, I still get outraged, but like the Rudolph story, there are good morals to the story – – for the squilliionaires, it is first, foremost, and always about sucking up as much money as possible.

          It really says something about how this society can simply brush aside behavior, that even by the criteria of free enterprise is simply criminal, unfair, and totally contrary to the supposed principals of the market. But these are the people who buy the media…whoops! – I meant, buy the commercials……that buy the media…

    1. fresno dan

      I would have checked out your comment, but one has to continually hit “more” to see just a few more comments. Is the Post that strapped for computing power that they can’t load all the comments?

      I guess the Saudi’s aren’t as bad as North Korea, but the thing about the US, money makes us overlook a lot of shortcomings….and if you have an infinite amount of money, we have an infinite amount of overlooking.
      I just find the incessant bullsh*t about how virtuous we are all the time just damn juvenile

  10. GlobalMisanthrope

    Re: Wall Street Taking Over Nonprofit Sector

    I don’t know. I mean, elites on boards of nonprofits? You’re kidding! All this says is that Wall Street is where they’re working now. Used to all be lawyers.

    I’m shocked that they’re surprised. After all, the neoliberal meritocracy is the whole system within which we live, as all here know. Indignation on the part of privileged liberal nonprofit administrators that its ethos is even touching them makes me want to barf.

    Plus “the sector that was setup [sic], in part, to deal with the failures of an economic system run by said dubious management practices.” Completely false. The youngsters over there need to do their homework. But also this assumption highlights a benign world view underlying their supposedly dogged journalism that thoroughly discredits them in my eyes.

    Evidence of the destruction of knowledge is everywhere.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Crude Earl, comrades: some hooligans jumped the old codger in an alley and smashed his face in. Front month (Feb ’16) crude is at $34.43/barrel, down 4.28%. Chart:

    How will our dear friends, the Saudis, manage?

    *sheds crocodile tear*

      1. Jim Haygood

        Headline about “diversifying the economy” doesn’t match the text, which is all about exporting MOAR primary products.

        They should change the paper’s name back to The Calgary Herald, Mining and Ranche Advocate and General Advertiser (1883).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We can always diversify more by including Mars and Jupiter.

          With 3 planets, you have better odds of survival.

    1. bob

      “How will our dear friends, the Saudis, manage?”

      Just fine, over the longer run. They have the lowest cost of production. Let everyone else sell at a loss trying to cover cash flow, and wait. Very surprised there haven’t been more BK’s due to this.

      As Mosler has said time and time again, the only part of econ text books that has any truth is the monopoly modeling. Good time for a refresher.

      1. craazyboy

        Plenty of BK’s on the way, but Exxon will buy up any good assets in court. Expensive oil doesn’t disappear, it just stays in the ground.

        1. bob

          “Expensive oil doesn’t disappear, it just stays in the ground.”

          Right now, it’s being exported to try and generate revenue. So yes, it does “go away”. All of the oil these days in the US is “expensive” oil.

          1. craazyboy

            That’s the enigma. The companies that haven’t gone bankrupt yet are actually increasing production (at least some of them) to cover “sunk” fixed costs. They can do this until investor/bankers won’t roll over the loans anymore. Then Big Oil will get a shot at distressed asset sales.

  12. James Levy

    The “are cars sales up or down” article is both illuminating and scary. We no longer seem to even know what we are measuring, or if our measurements are correct, or if they even make sense. Somehow I don’t think this was the case back in the 1970s when I was growing up. And without a serious and credible idea of what’s going on, formulating appropriate policy becomes impossible. Man are we in trouble.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Not to pick nits, but this contributed to my personal confusion:

      “December 2015 had 28 selling days vs. 26 selling days in December 2014 according to JD Power.”

      Now, car dealerships are open 7 days a week except for holidays (I guess.) December ALWAYS has 31 days, Christmas Eve is always Dec. 24, Christmas is always Dec. 25, and New Year’s Eve is always Dec.31. Pearl Harbor Day is always Dec. 7, but I don’t think that matters.

      So how is it that one December has fewer “selling” days than the next one?

      Just kidding. I’m sure it has something to do with the “free market” that a mere mortal such as myself cannot hope to “comprehend.”

      1. MLS

        18 states including IL, TX, and NJ do not allow dealerships to be open (or sales to occur) on Sundays thanks to Blue Laws, so depending on how the calendar falls it’s entirely possible to have a different amount of selling days in a given month as compared to the previous year.

    2. Oregoncharles

      In the ’70s, you didn’t have NC to explain to you just how f’ed up the system is.

  13. Carolinian

    Your all American police state, being made in Atlanta, Israel.

    Maybe it’s no coincidence, then, that Clayton County police––whose deputy chief went to Israel with GILEE earlier this year––recently arrested Latausha Nedd, a local activist, on charges of making terroristic threats and criminal solicitation for online videos in which she expressed anger over police brutality against Black people.

    It turns out that several of the videos in question were private video chats that were hacked by a white supremacist group called No Thiefs Allowed, which emailed edited clips to the Clayton County Police Department. Nedd is awaiting trial on bond.

    Another GILEE graduate made a unilateral decision to illegally blockade a public road in a gentrifying neighborhood to prevent black teenagers from using it as a route to and from school after a white neighbor complained of “gang members” on the street.

    GILEE is an organization that sends American police to Israel to learn their tactics. Reportedly Rahm has also sent Chicago police to Israel for training.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘No Thiefs Allowed’

      Some of them white supremacists prolly grew up singing Bringing in the Sheafs in church, ‘n hearing about the miracle of the loafs and fishes. Now their wifes weep that they didn’t learn nothin’ @ school.

    2. Strangely Enough

      From the article:

      He founded GILEE in 1992, initially to train local law enforcement in Israeli counterterrorism tactics he believed were necessary to ensure security for the 1996 Olympics.

      Guess they were too busy looking out for Muslims…

  14. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Even Insured Can Face Crushing Medical Debt, Study Finds New York Times

    Love the use of the word “even” in the “headline. Because in the “body” of the article, we find this gem:

    ” The study found that the people most likely to report bill problems were uninsured, poor or disabled. But the majority of people struggling with bills are insured. Of the people in the survey reporting difficulty with their medical bills, 34 percent lacked health insurance, 39 percent had insurance through work, 14 percent were covered through public programs and 7 percent had purchased their own health plans.”

    39% + 14% + 7% = 60% “struggling” with medical bills HAD INSURANCE vs. 34% who did not. That’s almost DOUBLE.

    Maybe the headline should have read “ESPECIALLY” the Insured Face Crushing Medical Debt, Study Finds, by almost 2 to 1.

    1. Gio Bruno

      …my take on this: The uninsured avoid medical care (even when desirable) because they KNOW they can’t afford it.
      The insured believe they are “fully covered” for medical expenses, when in fact they are not; so they engage medical care “professionals” and belatedly learn that much of the expense is “out of network”, “unallowed”, “required administrative approval first”, or “beyond coverage”. So the insured incur medical expenses that they subsequently are unable to pay for.

  15. bob


    “Lee Cheol-woo, a member of the intelligence committee of the South Korean National Assembly, said his country’s National Intelligence Service had estimated the explosive yield that was equivalent to six kilotons of TNT. (By comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 exploded with 15 kilotons of energy.)

    A hydrogen bomb would have yielded “hundreds of kilotons or, even if it is a failed test, tens of kilotons,” Mr. Lee told reporters. The North’s last nuclear test, in February 2013, set off a magnitude 4.9 tremor. The South estimated that the bomb detonated on Wednesday resulted in a magnitude 4.8 seismic event, smaller than the 4.9 to 5.2 range that American, European and Chinese authorities had reported.”

    IMO, they’ve demonstrated a consistent ability to not get much out of any of their atomic weapons. They’re just creating TONS of fallout. A very low yield bomb is very inefficient. Not all of the nuke material is used in “nuking”, it ends up being scattered as dust.

    At this point I have to question if what they have could even be called a nuke program. Dirty bomb program? Yes.

    6 kiloton? 12,000 lbs of TNT, a few heavy bombers worth of ‘normal’ ordinance.

    1. James Levy

      Spot on. Since initial trial H-bombs didn’t actually have to be deliverable, they tended to be very big blasts so as to ensure the fission sets off the fusion reaction. North Korea hasn’t shown that it can explode a proper a-bomb, and without a very efficient and powerful a-bomb, you can’t set off the deuterium and tritium to get an H-bomb blast. Yet this nonsense is reported as fact. Cue McCain et al. pissing themselves and screaming that Honolulu will be nuked next Tuesday if we don’t go to war pronto.

      1. bob

        They’re also big blasts because of the very efficient fission reaction. You can only make a fission reaction so small, there are limits- critical mass. The bottom end of the H-bomb scale would therefore be the fission blast required to kickstart fusion.

        They haven’t even managed to get a good fission reaction. All the tests are low single digit Kt blasts. Not nearly enough.

        Hope for the future- they’re blowing a ton of fissile material up. They’d be better off using TNT, or anfo- way cheeper.

        1. Torsten

          But perhaps the more sobering thought is that the N. Korean tests are designed to test the lower limits of their fission bomb designs, thus enabling them to get the most bang for their buck.

          1. bob

            Perhaps, but I doubt it. The lower limit is going to be the most efficient fission of the smallest possible critical mass.

            Top secret stuff, but ballparking- well above 20Kt would be required.

            The bottom end is known, just not advertised.

            You can’t make an H-bomb smaller than what would be required to start it, by definition.

    2. craazyboy

      Except that half the population of S. Korea lives in Seoul, right on the border with N. Korea. A great big dirty bomb and the wind going in the right direction does scare the crap out of them.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And half of those who were in Seoul are in Southern California now…or it seems.

      2. Jason

        North Korea doesn’t need a (sort-of working) nuclear bomb to threaten Seoul. Hardened artillery emplacements give them the exact same ability for a fraction of the price. The nuclear program aims to scare a much broader class of targets.

      3. Plenue

        North Korea has had Seoul targeted for decades by 10,000+ conventional artillery pieces, some of which are likely loaded with chemical shells. From the perspective of South Koreans it doesn’t matter much if the North has nukes or not. It’s still perfectly capable of causing an immense amount of death within the first few minutes of a war without the need of atom-smashing.

    3. Lexington

      6 kiloton? 12,000 lbs of TNT, a few heavy bombers worth of ‘normal’ ordinance.

      Uh, 6 kilotons is the equivalent of 6000 tons of TNT…

    4. ewmayer

      Ya beat me to it, bob – here’s what I had written up:

      Re. North Korean “H-bomb”: I read what appeared to be a credible report estimating the yield at a mere 6KT, roughly half the (non-hydogen) Hiroshima bomb. Given that it is relatively trivial to boost a standard Nagasaki-style implosion weapon into the several-hundred-kiloton yield range by inserting a few ounces of tritium (in some sutably stabilized liquid or solid form) into the core – the early US and Soviet H-bombs were all of this kind, a mere 6KT is a joke even for such a basic boosted device, to say nothing of a true multistage thermonuclear device.

      The yield points either to a low-yield non-boosted device like the earlier ones tested by NK, or a failed attempt at a boosted implosion device (as in the implosion part still kinda/sorta worked but the boosting didn’t). OTOH, it makes perfect sense for a small state like NK to be pursuing a boosted device – done right it’s a very cheap to get up to 10x the yield from one’s bomb cores.

    5. Ed S.


      Not to get all nit-picky, but isn’t a kiloton equal to 1000 tons? So 6 kilotons = 6,000 tons.

      At 2,000lbs per ton, isn’t that then 6,000 x 2,000 which equals 12,000,000 pounds – not 12,000?

      6KT seems like a pretty big boom – about 175 B-52 sorties (fully loaded).

  16. TedWa

    Wall Street Reform and Financial Policy Bernie Sanders : Wow, very impressive. Thanks for that link. I think I even saw Bernie smiling a few times, including when he brought up Dante’s inferno and likened banksters to the level of hell reserved for those that charge usury fees. Bern it down !!

    1. Foy

      The warm up speech by Senator James Sanders was interesting. But I think his line “I invite you to a conspiracy… a conspiracy of hope!” is asking for trouble. Can’t mingle a bad connotation word ‘conspiracy’ with a good word and expect to get a good result. It’s like multiplying by a negative number. When he said “I invite you to a conspiracy…” you could virtually hear and feel the crowd in their minds ask themselves “huh…oh oh where is this going”. If I was opposition I would be saying “look, over there is the conspiracy party!”. Can’t undo that image once it’s in your head.

      And that’s the first time I’ve seen someone clap with the back of his hand (1:40 into the vid)! Something new every day…

  17. perpetualWAR

    Wall Street in the non-profits

    Oh, you betcha they are! I found that out when I was attempting to pass legislation that would have curtailed the fraud in the non-judicial foreclosures. I couldnt understand why non-profits were so reluctant to help, even though their websites proved to me that they were working for the downtrodden (laugh).

    Those nasty non-profits: Washington CAN, Northwest Justice Project, Columbia Legal, Real Change, to name a few.

    1. Torsten

      You see it in environmental issues, too. The nonprofits who have become big enough to “make the news” become dependent upon wealthy donors who are eager to protect the environment–but only so long as their fracking investments pay off.

  18. OIFVet

    Cologne attacks: mayor lambasted for telling women to keep men at arm’s length. “Asked by a journalist how women could protect themselves, Henriette Reker said: “There’s always the possibility of keeping a certain distance of more than an arm’s length – that is to say to make sure yourself you don’t look to be too close to people who are not known to you, and to whom you don’t have a trusting relationship”.

    So now the victims are to blame. The EU has truly gone mad. What’s next, tell the German frauleins to wear burqas outside? And why was the reporting of the incidents delayed four days?

    1. perpetualWAR

      FYI, I do believe the entire world’s gone mad, not just the EU. But that’s a different story…

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      ” The police, who have admitted major errors in the way they managed the incidents, say they will modify the way they oversee the forthcoming celebrations, including introducing more mobile video cameras.”

      So what are they going to do? Throw the video cameras at the drunken gropers and rapists to bring them to heel?

  19. Oregoncharles

    “we can achieve a low- or even zero-carbon global economy without sacrificing the growth still needed to pull many people out of poverty.
    Read more at commentary/low-carbon-economy-public-policy-” (space added so it isn’t an active link)

    The Archdruid doesn’t agree; in fact, he treats that claim as risible. The real difference may be in what they’re considering: technical vs. social possibility. Technically, the energy is there. But is there any hope of the political will, social coherence, or level of efficiency needed to do that?

    There is also the little matter of “groaf.” Liberal economists, clear down to Dean Baker, are addicted to ” the growth still needed to pull many people out of poverty.” But the economy involves far more than just energy; even if there’s theoretically enough solar energy, which I gather there is, we’re constrained by dozens of other resources, including arable land and water, as well as by administrative capabilty, essential for very high efficiency.

    Given those resource constraints, I suspect that attempts to “stimulate growth” not only dig the hole deeper; they will probably fail, leading, at best, to another round of bubbles. We’re left with the hardest approachof all, the one the economists are hoping to avoid: redistribution.

    1. Foy

      Agreed, it’s just digging a bigger hole. Energy is just one component. The exponential 3% growth requirement is a big problem in a finite world. Our financial economy can’t stand still or shrink without dying a horrible death and taking everything else down with it. So continuous growth is a non negotiable for it. But as resources deplete then 3% growth will keep hitting walls. It’s the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. I always wonder about fish stocks, which in some instances are 10% of what they were 40 years ago. What does that look like in 20 years time with a 3% growth requirement for the industry?! Sooner water, land, all resources will hit these limits where everything becomes uneconomic and unaffordable.

      As you say short term political imperatives will prevent any changes being made until it’s too late. I reckon the cake is baked. Resources will become unaffordable, even at lower prices as incomes fall. It’s probably a question of what is the trigger that starts a cascading financial collapse that stops international trade in it’s tracks and shows that the game is up. The pressure is slowly building and the last 7 years of anemic economic growth after the GFC is a harbringer that some exponential growth limits are being reached.

  20. fresno dan

    Saudi Recklessness Exposes Our Own American Conservative (resilc)

    Third, rupture the rapprochement between Iran and the United States and abort the Iranian nuclear deal.
    Like every regime in the Middle East, the Saudis look out for their own national interests first. And their goals here are to first force us to choose between them and Iran, and then to conscript U.S. power on their side in the coming wars of the Middle East.

    Thus the Saudis went AWOL from the battle against ISIS and al-Qaida in Iraq and Syria. Yet they persuaded us to help them crush the Houthi rebels in Yemen, though the Houthis never attacked us and would have exterminated al-Qaeda. Now that a Saudi coalition has driven the Houthis back toward their northern basecamp, ISIS and al-Qaeda have moved into some of the vacated terrain. What kind of victory is that—for us?
    I just saw the PBS Frontline program on Netanyahu – what strikes me is how in sync the Saudi’s and Israeli’s are with regard to Iran.
    “Like every regime in the Middle East, the Saudis look out for their own national interests first.”
    Well, are we a middle eastern regime? We seem to insert ourselves, spend a lot of blood and treasure, and like a punter who won’t admit he can’t pick stocks, every 90% decline is a signal to double down.
    Its hard to imagine that we will be better off 20 years from now for all our screwing around in the mid east. At least in Vietnam we had the good sense to run away…

  21. John

    First link, bbc “black hole burping gas”

    CNN had the headline (also top billing) “Blackhole near Earth burping gas”
    I originally thought they were covering Earth itself, and didn’t see the blackhole title until clicking through.

    Also, Star Wars will be installed in the once “Frontier Land” in Disney.

    One of the four magic kingdoms, fantasy land, tomorrow land, and epcot.

  22. GlobalMisanthrope

    Re: Germany shocked by Cologne New Year gang assaults on women

    The reporting on this—in the BBC article, but also at Der Spiegel and Reuters—is so strange and the allegations so creepily resonant (He flirted with my wife/raped my daughter, ring a bell?) that I’m dubious about all this. A thousand drunk (?) and unruly Muslim-looking men descend upon a locale anywhere in the West and are left free to grope and rob? Hmm.

    I’m not suggesting that the assaults didn’t happen. I’m just saying that this sounds way too tidy. Anybody else smell a rat?

    1. craazyboy

      They do like to party in Cologne so they may have initially thought the unruly drunks were Germans. The unruly drunk gropers are usually Italian tourists. Unless you are walking by a whorehouse, then the ladies are groping the guys. Robbing and assault is verboten – but you have to report that – hence the time lag.

    2. OIFVet

      How do you account for the fact that the story broke only yesterday, five days after new year’s? If anything, there was an attempt by MSM to hush it up. ZDF has already issued an apology for not covering the story sooner:

      German broadcaster ZDF also issued an apology Tuesday for failing to report on the attacks in a timely fashion on its “Heute Journal” show, after criticism that the media had neglected to adequately cover the incidents because of sensitivities concerning the alleged ethnic identities of the assailants.

      In a statement, deputy editor Elmar Thevessen said the network had failed by not reporting on the attacks during the Monday evening broadcast.

      “It was our failure that the news broadcast at 7 p.m. did not inform about the attacks on New Year’s Eve,” read the statement.

      “The editorial department of ‘Heute’ decided to delay the report until today because of an emergency meeting to gain time for additional interviews. This, however, was a clear misjudgment.”

      If anything, euro MSM has been cheerleading the migrant wave, German media being particularly involved in the manufacturing of consent. Also, Henriette Reker, the mayor, became known worldwide after she was stabbed for her support for Merkel’s migrant policy. Sometimes, Occam’s Razor really does apply.

      1. Carolinian

        Supposedly Merkel is in trouble over her migrant policy and Moon of Alabama said from the beginning that her real agenda was to weaken German unions with cheap foreign labor. As in our beloved US there may be a media policy there to back page stories that might reflect poorly on government policy.

        1. OIFVet

          That’s part of it, I’m sure. All of the articles supporting the migrant wave have focused on the economic benefits of their arrival. Cui bono, though? Certainly not society at large, as the wages will surely be driven lower. Apparently the cheap Polish plumbers just ain’t cheap enough for the euro neoliberals. After all, there is very high unemployment in Southern and Eastern Europe, particularly among the young, but Germany was one of the leading countries that opposed relaxing the rules for Eastern Europeans who wanted to work in Northern European countries. So much for the European “union” and “unity”.

          As for the sex assaults, perhaps the migrants simply wanted to please Mutti Merkel. She did argue that they were necessary to reverse the negative demographic trends in Germany… Be careful what you wish for, Mutti.

    3. Oregoncharles

      The Cologne police are saying they were overwhelmed, essentially admitting it was a policing failure. Probably compounded by culture clash (imagine what Middle Easterners really think of Western women), and especially the effects of keeping them in an underclass.

      Merkel’s generosity just happens to come from a government with a policy of holding down wages in order to fleece Southern Europe. OIFVet has some mor eto say about that in this thread.

  23. Oregoncharles

    From the excellent Rolling Stone report on the Malheur occupation: “And if the militants were black, brown or Muslim, they’d likely be dead by now. ”

    That’s all too plausible IF they were dealing with some sort of local police (eg, both Portland and Eugene have terrible records on killing innocents – not that these guys are innocent). But they’re dealing with feds, who, by all accounts, actually learned something from the disasters at Ruby Ridge (which cost them $3.5 million in reparations) and Waco (135 dead). That’s the real explanation for their hands-off approach to the Bundy gang at Malheur. They would probably do much the same if a similarly public standoff involved minorities.

    That doesn’t mean they’re above killing witnesses, like the friend of the Boston Marathon bombers they offed in Florida. It means they don’t like publicity. Strategically, they’re right: attacking that bunch of fools would only get them a lot of support.

  24. Jim Haygood

    Standard Wall Street sleaze at FINRA:

    Numerous securities lawyers say FINRA’s arbitration system for investor complaints encourages them to take settlements and remain quiet. Those deals also require they not oppose wiping an advisor’s BrokerCheck record clean, even though the regulator banned the practice last year.

    FINRA and the SEC have said repeatedly that expungement should be “an extraordinary remedy.” Yet in cases decided on their merits that did not include settlements, expungements were granted in 44% of cases from 2012 to 2014.

    And over the same period, in cases in which advisors sought to have their records expunged following settlements with aggrieved clients, 404 of 460 brokers succeeded, or a whopping 88%, according to a review by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association.

    When little people commit a petty misdemeanor, it may cloud their employment prospects for years.

    But when a broker screws a client out of five or six figures, the files get vacuumed.

    Tha-a-a-a-a-t’s Wall Street!

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