Links 9/26/13

Bear obeys bartender’s command, leaves Juneau bar Associated Press

NRA lobbyist shoots elephant in the face and then celebrates with champagne Raw Story (furzy mouse)

Deaths Linked to Cardiac Stents Rise as Overuse Seen Bloomberg

US agents ‘lost 420m cigarettes’ BBC. “Lost”? Oh, come on.

Beijing’s moves spark new great game Bangkok Post (furzy mouse)

Austerity crisis at Greek universities Guardian

Chancellor files legal challenge to EU bonus cap Telegraph

Iran wants nuclear deal ‘in months’ BBC

Bill Clinton: Putin kept his word, he can be trusted Itar-Tass (furzy mouse)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

NSA planted bugs at Indian missions in D.C., U.N. The Hindu

U.S. lawmakers seek to end bulk NSA telephone records collection Reuters

Can There Be a Non-US Internet? motherboard

Best, worst female spies in fiction according to Valerie Plame Washington Post

‘Eraser’ law will let California kids scrub online past PhysOrg

To reform the NSA, fire officials who lie Guardian

House Democrats want clean debt ceiling hike Politico. OMG, Pelosi is comparing getting this bill passed to getting TARP voted through, as if that was a good precedent. So if you had any doubts as to who owns the Democrat party, that ought to settle them.

House GOP offers plan to avert shutdown Washington Post

U.S. Running Out of Cash More Quickly Wall Street Journal. Oct. 17 is the big day, we are now told.

The Grand Bargain Circus Is Back In Town! joe shiskpack, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Investors Brush Aside Washington Brinkmanship WSJ Economics Blog. The number of stories on Ted Cruz is enough to make anyone tune out.

Cory Booker exchanges flirtatious messages with Portland stripper on Twitter Daily Mail

Untangling Obamacare: Shopping the insurance exchanges Columbia Journalism Review. CJR beginning to catch up with Lambert, but having said that, this is a good overview.

‘Armed Citizen Project’ giving homeowners shotguns near where Trayvon was killed Raw Story (furzy mouse). You cannot make this stuff up.

New York mayoral frontrunner takes on Wall Street Financial Times

States Sharpen Payday-Loan Scrutiny Wall Street Journal

The Fed is clear, the market is not MacroBusiness

Banks Seeking to Sell Rue21 Debt at a Discount Wall Street Journal. May just be an oddity, but really drecky LBOs are an end-of-cycle phenomenon.

A court ruling that threatens the private equity industry in the US Sober Look

Fund to Let Investors Bet on Price of Bitcoins New York Times. Any wagers on 1. How long it takes the officialdom to shut this down and 2. What its theory of action will be? Bitcoins = prosecution futures, unless you keep your activity to a very low level.

How Much Money Would It Take to Eliminate Poverty In America? American Prospect

“No Tapering, More QE, Serious Housing Slowdown” says Saxo Bank Chief Economist Michael Shedlock

RICHARD KOO: Forget Hyperinflation — The Fed Is Now Facing The True Cost Of Quantitative Easing Clusterstock

Antidote du jour:


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  1. dearieme

    “Can’t you spell? The sign says ‘Bar’ not ‘Bear’.”

    No wonder the poor creature was black ashamed, and slunk away.

    1. Pwelder

      A bear walked into a bar and said to the bartender, “I’ll have a pint of beer and a ………………………… packet of peanuts.”

      The bartender said, “Why the big paws?”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Always helpful to remember that anecdote evidence is not proof…in this case, proof that you can do it too.

      On the other hand, in any induction, which is to say, for instance, bad science proclamation, you need only one example to make it crumble.

      1. Emma

        Some more (naughty!) jokes for the antidote du jour photo showing Penguin Paul and Penguin Polly at the “Isobar”:

        1) Male Pengiun: “Fancy seeing my thunderwear?”
        Female Pengiun: “Unless you want a lethal dose of frostbite, fluff-off!”

        2) Male Pengiun: “Do you fancy some chilly sauce and snowballs?”
        Female Pengiun: “No, I’d rather get wet with a hot cock!”

        3) Male Pengiun: “I’m hotter than an iceberger.”
        Female Pengiun: “Yeah? With overkrill like that, I’m not a game bird, so you can take your desperate feathers elsewhere!”

        4) Male Pengiun: “Psst….this way for Snow and Tell”
        Female Pengiun: “Well, I’m not going to fly there, so go fish elsewhere!”

  2. Skeptic

    Deaths Linked to Cardiac Stents Rise as Overuse Seen Bloomberg

    This story perfectly illustrates that your health is not only at risk from BIG PHARMA but also other companies which sell/push medical procedures and devices. Of course, these crooks operate arm in arm pushing procedures which then need BIG PHARMA drugs as supports and followups.

    I refused to be angioplasted and stented three years ago. Fortunately, there was time to do some research which showed overwhelmingly not to be angioplasted/stented. There was a lot of pressure to get stented. The medical staff were NOT pleased when I said NO.

    I sought alternative medical advice after discharge and through a diet and exercise regimen have been doing very well. See Drs. MacDougall, Ornish, Esselstyn, Rath, Pauling, Diehl for instance.

    The angiograms, by the way, on which these stent decisions are based are also problematical. There are a number of factors which call their validity and accuracy into question.

    Here’s another article on the stent subject:

    Anyone facing a serious medical decision should do as much research as they can and, if possible, seek alternative medical advice. When you see articles such as these about stents, you know to be wary.

    The Bigger Picture: the same Universities which produce the Wall Street criminals also produce other “professionals”, like Doctors, who will put both your physical or financial healths at risk for a profit. Beware them all.

    (The alternative doctor I found is a graduate of Baylor Medical School. He went to China in the 70s and this opened his eyes to the value and worth of diet, exercise and alternative medicine. He now practices what is called integrative medicine, basically: do what works!)

    1. petridish

      A word with which all Americans should become familiar is IATROGENIC.

      of or relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment.

      I would note here that when I typed “iatrogenic” I got the red, squiggly line indicating that Google spell-check did not recognize the word.

      Not surprised. It shows.

      1. diptherio

        I first came across that word in E. Kubler-Ross’s book On Life after Death, where she off-handedly mentions that she had an “iatrogenically-induced near-death experience.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I read that too, but sadly, I didn’t recall that word, but I am glad to learn it today.

          Philosophically, it’s a good reminder that Gaia’s health is best maintained not by more medicine or science, but by taxing her less, by us consuming less, instead of relying on ‘medicinal miracles.’

          1. diptherio

            I almost missed it too, as Kubler-Ross only mentions it in passing. She says that she has had two NDE-like experiences: one that occurred spontaneously, and one that was “iatrogenic.” She doesn’t elaborate too much, as I recall, but you can read between the lines that she had another doctor “put her down” and then bring her back. Brave woman…

        2. Anarcissie

          In a culture dominated by market relationships, one can only expect the medical industry, like other industries, to respond accordingly. To your doctor, then, you’re an opportunity for profit, and can expect diagnoses and treatments to be guided accordingly.

        3. petridish

          When I write the next great American novel, it will involve the rise of a super-race of humans. Financially unable to access the American “healthcare” system, these physically and mentally superior beings escaped the ravages of the for-profit, chemically and surgically driven excesses of American “healthcare” in the early 21st century.

          Those humans who had previously had the “good fortune” to consume these, ultimately deleterious, treatments in unlimited quantities were reduced to piteously grovelling for their statins, SSRIs and cardiac caths. In short, they were pretty easy pickins’. They were easily vanquished by those who, under the guise of social unsuitability, had been denied access to “healthcare” as it was, then, euphemistically known.

          In an ill-advised attempt at social engineering, the early 21st century elite had attempted to grab the brass ring of health all for themselves. More, always more. Of anything. But paradoxically, denial of these “benefits” had produced a race of humans that was honed, toned and mentally acute.

          The fight was not fair, nor should it have been.

          Whatd’ya think?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It may sound paradoxical at first, but I think it actually makes a lot of sense.

            In the ‘competition is for the 99.99% and collusion, sorry, cooperation is for the 0.01%’ world, if the neoclassic economic theory is correct, then you only will get the best super humans from out of the sewer that is the 99.99%.

            To get besser ueber menschen, you only need to make the competition (for food and survival) even more fierce, it follows (I mean, is intuitively obvious).

            And in the event that some unforeseen radioactive ingredients are added to that melting pot, who knows, you might get Godzilla-men. Then the whole is your Tokyo-oyster.

            1. hunkerdown

              But that only gets you Übermenschen adapted to that Hobbesian crucible. Speaking of class markers, if peahens lost their taste for colorful male plumage as costly signal of fitness, peacocks would lose them fairly quickly. Contrary to the doctrines and hymns of the religion of Holy Progress and the Naked Ape doctrine, evolution is not cumulative and teleologies are nothing more than soothing bedtime stories for exploitative cultures.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                But the 0.01% should be forewarned that that Frankenstein Hobbesian Godzilla Ueber menschen will get them at the end.

          2. Skeptic

            “…the early 21st century elite had attempted to grab the brass ring of health all for themselves. More, always more. Of anything.”

            What do the Elite and their minions eat? What kind of Medecine do they access?

            My understanding is that many of the Elite are aware of nutrition issues and don’t eat the crap that is foddered to the hoi polloi. Billions Bloomberg, for example, seems to be very aware of these issues. Obomber’s wife also. I would imagine there are numerous fashionable organic, locally-grown restauarants for the Elite.

            Elite Medicine gets a bit more dicey. A famous case is that of Elitist Clinton who had major heart surgeries which failed and then he went the alternative route:
            So, the “benefits” of Elite Medicine may not be so beneficial. Are the Elite so stupid as to believe that because their Medicine is exclusive, luxurious and expensive, it is the best? You can get the same Limousine Healthcare Clinton is getting by going to your local library or online and doing some reading. Can’t get any cheaper than that.

            As for the well paid Elite minions, those exclusive healthcare plans my not be so healthy. I would imagine that corporate executive plans are very different than those of regular employees.

            Thus are the Elite conned by their own cons? Hung by their own neo-liberal petard? So, as far as Health, a lot of it may just come down to how gullible one is.

            In his book, Antifragile, Nassim Taleb has a lot of interesting points about Medicine and is very critical of the existing system. A good source for anyone interested in these issues and escaping BIG BAD MEDICINE.

            1. hunkerdown

              Best is a goal for the little people to take their rightful place well short of — in other words, original sin. In a two-class society, better is sufficient to establish prestige and favor the fitness of one group over the other. Anyone know of plant-based antidotes for sarin? or VX?

  3. squasha

    Was the Cory Booker link included to point out a building narrative about Booker’s corruption or out of tabloid titillation? Seems like the legs these peurile gossip stories grow out of a Christian longing for angelic leadership, sans genetalia as it were.

    1. ambrit

      Dear squasha;
      If I remember my medieval demonology properly, (is that pent-acle or pen-tickle?) Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, is a true Angel. Sans genitalia? Nope. Corporeal? Still in question. CB as a “fallen” angel? What presumption! Who does he think he is, King Farouk?

      1. squasha

        dear Ambrit,

        thanks for what made me smile just now. Satan’s hung, you say? Well, it seems the wonders really do never cease. He was cast late to the Christian script, as was our modern notion of hell, both seem to have outlived the run of the show. It would be heavenly to live at least sans tales of the corrupt doings of the wayward willies of wealthy weasels. What Anthony does with his wiener I wish we’d never been made to know. Yeah, Booker’s a leaner meaner model of sleaze, this in no way makes his private sexual sphere of import, or of interest. These political willies give me the willies! And are we not marrying ourselves to the regime’s definition of privacy when we object that sexting is public?

  4. petridish

    RE: To Reform NSA, Fire Officials Who Lie

    Ha! Fat chance! Jobs, jobs jobs and all.

    Maybe we could just encourage them to remember how much time they want to spend with their families.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When the government runs out of cash, does it mean the NSA also does too?

      I only ask because I am not the type to take things, however obvious, for granted (well, I try, anyway)

  5. AbyNormal

    re: Untangling O’careless
    around pg2 my mind drifted to the recent low SAT scores…this will not end well for too many.
    by the time i hit Step4/requesting disclosures (prices not included)…my mind drifted into a quick cost analysis for RoadTrip(s) to Mejico.

    “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” twain (i feel better now)

    1. Joe

      “We’ve arranged a society based on science and technology, in which nobody understands anything about science and technology. And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces. Who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it?”
      An Interview with Carl Sagan, May 27, 1996 by Charlie Rose

  6. optimader

    So that was straight to the sealions take a right, then a left at the arctic turns go straight 100 yards, get in the water (watch out for the orca that hangs out there), get up on the burg covered w/ seals, careful not to slip on the poop and i’ll see the polar bear w/ the raffle tickets for the al you can eat free fish… right?

  7. Polar Donkey

    Hello from Memphis.
    Yesterday the National Fair Housing Alliance with the Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a complaint charging that Bank of America failed to maintain and market properties in minority neighborhoods, while giving special treatment to its homes in predominantly white neighborhoods. Here’s the article.
    To see how much property values are different for white neighborhoods compared to black neighborhoods in the Memphis area check out these maps. Also shows all the foreclosures between 2007 and 2012.

  8. Special Ed

    Because the ignoramuses in Congress don’t even know what laws they signed, as a public service, here are the binding instructions for implementation of privacy law. The US government will be reminded of this on October 17-18.

    GENERAL COMMENT 16: The right to respect of privacy, family, home and correspondence, and protection of honour and reputation (Article 17)
    (Thirty-second session, 1988)

    Article 17 provides for the right of every person to be protected against arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence as well as against unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. In the view of the Committee this right is required to be guaranteed against all such interferences and attacks whether they emanate from State authorities or from natural or legal persons. The obligations imposed by this article require the State to adopt legislative and other measures to give effect to the prohibition against such interferences and attacks as well as to the protection of this right.

    2. In this connection, the Committee wishes to point out that in the reports of States parties to the Covenant the necessary attention is not being given to information concerning the manner in which respect for this right is guaranteed by legislative, administrative or judicial authorities, and in general by the competent organs established in the State. In particular, insufficient attention is paid to the fact that article 17 of the Covenant deals with protection against both unlawful and arbitrary interference. That means that it is precisely in State legislation above all that provision must be made for the protection of the right set forth in that article. At present the reports either say nothing about such legislation or provide insufficient information on the subject.

    3. The term “unlawful” means that no interference can take place except in cases envisaged by the law. Interference authorized by States can only take place on the basis of law, which itself must comply with the provisions, aims and objectives of the Covenant.

    4. The expression “arbitrary interference” is also relevant to the protection of the right provided for in article 17. In the Committee’s view the expression “arbitrary interference” can also extend to interference provided for under the law. The introduction of the concept of arbitrariness is intended to guarantee that even interference provided for by law should be in accordance with the provisions, aims and objectives of the Covenant and should be, in any event, reasonable in the particular circumstances.

    5. Regarding the term “family”, the objectives of the Covenant require that for purposes of article 17 this term be given a broad interpretation to include all those comprising the family as understood in the society of the State party concerned. The term “home” in English, “manzel” in Arabic, “zhùzhái” in Chinese, “domicile” in French, “zhilische” in Russian and “domicilio” in Spanish, as used in article 17 of the Covenant, is to be understood to indicate the place where a person resides or carries out his usual occupation. In this connection, the Committee invites States to indicate in their reports the meaning given in their society to the terms “family” and “home”.

    6. The Committee considers that the reports should include information on the authorities and organs set up within the legal system of the State which are competent to authorize interference allowed by the law. It is also indispensable to have information on the authorities which are entitled to exercise control over such interference with strict regard for the law, and to know in what manner and through which organs persons concerned may complain of a violation of the right provided for in article 17 of the Covenant. States should in their reports make clear the extent to which actual practice conforms to the law. State party reports should also contain information on complaints lodged in respect of arbitrary or unlawful interference, and the number of any findings in that regard, as well as the remedies provided in such cases.

    7. As all persons live in society, the protection of privacy is necessarily relative. However, the competent public authorities should only be able to call for such information relating to an individual’s private life the knowledge of which is essential in the interests of society as understood under the Covenant. Accordingly, the Committee recommends that States should indicate in their reports the laws and regulations that govern authorized interferences with private life.

    8. Even with regard to interferences that conform to the Covenant, relevant legislation must specify in detail the precise circumstances in which such interferences may be permitted. A decision to make use of such authorized interference must be made only by the authority designated under the law, and on a case-by-case basis. Compliance with article 17 requires that the integrity and confidentiality of correspondence should be guaranteed de jure and de facto. Correspondence should be delivered to the addressee without interception and without being opened or otherwise read. Surveillance, whether electronic or otherwise, interceptions of telephonic, telegraphic and other forms of communication, wire-tapping and recording of conversations should be prohibited. Searches of a person’s home should be restricted to a search for necessary evidence and should not be allowed to amount to harassment. So far as personal and body search is concerned, effective measures should ensure that such searches are carried out in a manner consistent with the dignity of the person who is being searched. Persons being subjected to body search by State officials, or medical personnel acting at the request of the State, should only be examined by persons of the same sex.

    9. States parties are under a duty themselves not to engage in interferences inconsistent with article 17 of the Covenant and to provide the legislative framework prohibiting such acts by natural or legal persons.

    10. The gathering and holding of personal information on computers, data banks and other devices, whether by public authorities or private individuals or bodies, must be regulated by law. Effective measures have to be taken by States to ensure that information concerning a person’s private life does not reach the hands of persons who are not authorized by law to receive, process and use it, and is never used for purposes incompatible with the Covenant. In order to have the most effective protection of his private life, every individual should have the right to ascertain in an intelligible form, whether, and if so, what personal data is stored in automatic data files, and for what purposes. Every individual should also be able to ascertain which public authorises or private individuals or bodies control or may control their files. If such files contain incorrect personal data or have been collected or processed contrary to the provisions of the law, every individual should have the right to request rectification or elimination.

    11. Article 17 affords protection to personal honour and reputation and States are under an obligation to provide adequate legislation to that end. Provision must also be made for everyone effectively to be able to protect himself against any unlawful attacks that do occur and to have an effective remedy against those responsible. States parties should indicate in their reports to what extent the honour or reputation of individuals is protected by law and how this protection is achieved according to their legal system.

  9. rich

    Matt Taibbi on How Wall Street Hedge Funds Are Looting the Pension Funds of Public Workers

    In his latest article for Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi reports that Wall Street firms are now making millions in profits off of public pension funds nationwide. “Essentially it is a wealth transfer from teachers, cops and firemen to billionaire hedge funders,” Taibbi says. “Pension funds are one of the last great, unguarded piles of money in this country and there are going to be all sort of operators that are trying to get their hands on that money.”

    like stabbing yourself in the back………….over and over.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Wealth transfer from … to the hedge funds.

      The way I understand it, with some pensions (maybe all or maybe a few only), any shortfall (maybe there is a limit, maybe not) is made up for by the taxpayers.

      So, raiding some pension funds is essentially wealth transfer from the taxpayers to the hedge funds.

      And as we know, taxpayers can bear any burden you throw at them…if not this generation, many future generations.

    2. mookie

      “I was originally turned on to this story by old friend David Sirota, who wrote a massive report on the subject for a new progressive think tank, the Institute for America’s Future. We talked about the subject a lot in the last months and timed it so that his report would also be released today. I urge everyone to read his report (you can find it here [links to pdf]), which goes into far more detail than my piece did, especially about Arnold and his relationship with “centrist” organizations like Pew Charitable Trusts.”

      Looting Public Pensions: A New Think-Tank Study – Matt Taibbi

      1. mookie

        hmm, that link to the piece by David Sirota seems buried in that quote, and it’s really the best link of all of these, so here it is linked all by itself. Apologies for the excess posts.

        The Plot Against Pensions – David Sirota [link goes to pdf file]
        The Pew-Arnold campaign to undermine America’s retirement security – and leave taxpayers with the bill

  10. Jim Haygood

    From the ‘Untangling Obamacare’ article at CJR:

    Failing to sign up for insurance during open enrollment, later getting sick, and then needing insurance is not one of [the reasons for special enrollment].

    Someone taking this risk is out of luck until the next open enrollment period, which may be months away. Beginning in 2015, open enrollment will start October 1 and end December 31.

    So if you learn you have a costly dread disease at the end of September, you sign up for a gold plan (no disqualification for pre-existing conditions) the next week and collect your jackpot.

    But if get the diagnosis (or learn you got pregnant in December) on January 2nd, you’re on your own for the next nine months, unless you quit your job and qualify yourself for Medicaid. Decisions, decisions!

    Timing is everything, comrades. If you’re gonna get sick, do it in the autumn.

    1. Antifa

      This is curious, because I talked to my insurance broker two days ago and he assured me Obamacare will continue to go through constant changes between now and the last possible day to sign up, which he said was March 15th of next year.

      He specifically warned me not to sign up for any plan until the last minute, and said that is March 15th of 2014.

    1. optimader

      I think we knew that (that Assad is not this stupid, but it’s interesting, one the less, to see someone w/ an aire of C.V. credibility take this position.

      So what happened to all the stuff Ambassador err..CIA operative Stevens was going to buy in Libya at our Embassy… er.. Consulate.. err.. CIA Front after we pushed over the Libyan apple cart there?? (So I wonder if the CIA ever coughed up any budget money to State to cover out of pocket after that flaming boondoggle?)


    2. Another Gordon

      Olivia Nuzzi’s piece for NSFWCorp raises a point I’ve wondered about but not seen anyone asking.

      If NSA etc. are any good why did they not warn of the Nairobi attack?

  11. zephyrum

    How Much Money Would It Take to Eliminate Poverty In America?

    An infinite amount would not be enough. There are always those–among my relatives and thus among the population–who will spend whatever they have available. The moment they are lifted over the poverty line they will steer for the bottom. And this is not a small number of people.

    To prevent them from being a burden upon society, it behooves us to provide such services as they should buy but would not (since, say, drugs beckon more strongly than say, food for children, or shelter, or health care.) Unfortunately our leaders seem to be hell bent for destroying such services as we’ve had until now. That will come back to bite, and it won’t “buff right out.”

    The cluelessness resides on all sides. The “left”, such as it is, wants free ponies for everyone without question. The “right”, and that does not mean correct, wants everyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Both are ignoring the fraud and corruption that have become the bedrock of our society. Until we shed the dogma and think critically we cannot solve these problems. Absent change, and in due time, we shall break the back of our society on the wheel of our own devise.

    1. Gerard Pierce

      “The moment they are lifted over the poverty line they will steer for the bottom”

      In a way you are right — many of those on the bottom will spend whatever they can get their hands on because experience has taught them that the rentiers will steal anything left in their pockets.

      If the hamburger-flippers in NYC were to get their raise to $15.00/hr, you can bet that the extra money will go to pay for increased rents for any of them not protected by rent-control.

      If you are a leftist, you have to demand ponies for everone. Asking for something reasonable means that in the end you get nothing.

    2. Tyler Healey

      Unemployment Insurance should be robust, as it would force employers to pay a decent minimum wage. We need to return our economy to a state in which the unemployed and employees have the upper hand, not employers.

    3. anon y'mouse

      this will sound crazy, but having lived in a ghetto and been poor most of my life, I believe one of the problems of “lifting people up” is how we do it.

      we give them barely subsistence, make everything a separate program for which one has to jump through multiple hoops and continually reapply and re-verify eligibility. so, they get to stay put in their place within a community that is not really working for anyone who lives there.

      does the welfare office put you in touch with an employment coach who will sign you up for retraining programs (free of cost, necessarily) AND make sure that you get a job? are there any jobs in these communities, when there are usually few businesses besides liquor stores and fast food huts? will the dept. of human services help you to relocate, if the jobs are not within your community? if you move away, will you lose your circle of support and require even more income to deal with that (childcare, etc.)? do they even offer basic financial management workshops?

      so, the choice is usually to stay put in the familiar environment and continue collecting the meager benefits that one does have, from which it is not really possible to save up anything extra to make investments for the future (tread water), or risk everything and try to train for or move towards employment somewhere IF you have enough extra dough somewhere to risk it.

      and yes, I’ve seen the people who will get their check and go have their hair done and then buy expensive sneakers for their kids. now, I guess it’s cell phone service and cable that people spend the money on. this is not a surprise. when you are poor, the last thing you want to do is be forced to look and feel poor, and have everyone knowing that you are poor. especially in this country, which casts everything that happens to you as your personal moral failing.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    JP Morgan and the $11 billion find.

    What does that money go, when it is actually paid?

    Go to funding the NSA?

    A check for everyone in the country?

    Upgrade the White House kitchen?

    1. Joe

      The money must not be going to these poor hanky waiving things. Quick, some one fetch the smelling salts forthwith. I do think our frail regulators have fainted dead away!

      Via The Guardian UK:
      ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ warns that DC gridlock could handcuff regulators

      Prosecutor Preet Bharara and SEC chief Mary Jo White say that bickering in Washington could jeopardise ability to regulate

      “The Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, Mary Jo White, and the US attorney for the southern Manhattan, Preet Bharara, have teamed up on several high-profile indictments in recent months, and both said today the debt ceiling and budget negotiations threaten their regulatory finances.

      “It would mean that we can’t carry out our responsibilities – pure and simple,” said White, speaking at the Bloomberg 50 Markets Summit.

      “I mean, we have a lot of rules, we have rules on the over-the-counter derivatives market. If we can’t implement those rules, enforce those rules, you can see how the rest of the story is written.”

  13. Jim Haygood

    Oh my, this is so terribly disappointing and unexpected! From Politico:

    The Obama administration is delaying another piece of Obamacare – this time postponing online enrollment in some of the small-business exchanges scheduled to open Oct. 1, sources tell POLITICO.

    Small businesses looking to enroll in coverage on so-called SHOP exchanges run by the federal government will be able to submit a paper application on Oct. 1 – they just won’t be able to enroll online.

    Oh well, at least processing all them paper applications will create jobs!

    Plus the NSA won’t be able to steal personal data from them either.

    All good!

    Got navigators?

    1. Lambert Strether

      If you view the Navigator program as walking around money for Democratic operatives, and the recent grant for the paperworking processing and phone support to the US subsidiary of a UK firm as a reacharound to the Brits who want to destroy the NHS by privatizing it using this firm or others like it, everything falls into place, doesn’t it?

  14. diptherio

    Just had my attention drawn to this recent paper by Michael Luca and Georios Zervas, of Harvard B-school and Boston U, respectively, about review fraud on The conclusions of the authors are rather curious to me and appear to display a deep misunderstanding of ethics and what they are.

    Fake It Till You Make It: Reputation, Competition and Yelp Review Fraud


    As crowdsourced information becomes increasingly prevalent, so do incentives for businesses to game the system. In this paper, we have empirically analyzed review fraud on the popular review website Yelp – both documenting the problem and investigating the conditions under which it is most likely to occur. We show that the problem is widespread – nearly one out of fi ve reviews marked as fake, by Yelp’s algorithm. These reviews tend to be more extreme than other reviews, and are written by reviewers with less established reputations.

    Our fi ndings suggest that unethical decision making is a function of incentives, rather than of unethical businesses. Organizations are more likely to game the system when they are facing increased competition and when they have poor or less established reputations. For managers, policymakers, and even end-users investigating review fraud, this sheds light on the situations where reviews are most likely to be fraudulent. More generally, this casts light on the economic incentives that lead organizations to violate ethical norms. [emphasis added]

    I find the first sentence of their concluding paragraph extremely problematic. First off, what could possibly be meant by “unethical businesses”? A business is a legal structure, a set of relations, i.e. an abstract entity. A business does not make decisions, actual flesh-and-blood people do. An owner or manager makes a decision “on behalf” of the business, but it is still the owner or manager who has made the decision and who is ethically culpable for it. Confusing agency in this way is indicative of the sloppy use of language and poor philosophic reasoning in economics generally.

    Secondly, the existence of incentives to engage in unethical actions does nothing to remove ethical culpability from the agent who engages in those actions. Sure, a restaurateur facing stiff competition has an incentive to leave negative reviews for his competitors, but he also has an incentive to fire bomb their establishments. In neither case does the existence of incentives mitigate the unethical nature of the act.

    If ethics is to mean anything, it must mean acting on the basis of something other than individual incentives (whether financial, social, etc.). All businesses have an incentive to game the system in whatever way they can (in this case, leaving fake reviews on Yelp), but only some of them actually do it. The people who choose not to game the system, despite the presence of incentives to do so, are the ones we call “ethical”. A person who chooses to game the system and violate the trust of others because of those incentives is someone we call “unethical.”

    No wonder the state of “business ethics” is in such a shambles: the “experts” don’t even know what ethics means.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Austerity crisis at Greek universities.

    We need a modern day Socrates to engage, with his typically long dialogues, with those Austerity Aces. He will keep asking questions until he exposes their meanness, bigotry, greed and hypocrisy.

    I pray this will work because no one but no one can escape a Socratic dialogue…not even Austerity Aces.

  16. optimader

    NRA lobbyist shoots elephant in the face and then celebrates with champagne

    reason # 27,349 not watch NBC

    The guy is a Cretino, as is everyone in the NBC executive foodchain that approved airing this gangbanger shit.

  17. Brindle

    Whatever is the real story about the Mall Massacre in Kenya I don’t think the public is getting it.

    This does not give me much confidence that the truth will come out:

    —“Meanwhile, US, Israeli and British forensics experts were preparing to enter the mall to help Kenyan authorities assess what is now a vast crime scene. It is expected that their inquiries will continue for at least a week.

    “We will provide additional assistance in the coming days to investigate this attack and to bring its organizers and perpetrators to justice,” said Robert Godec, the US ambassador to Kenya. “We will continue to work together with Kenya to stop the scourge of terrorism.”—

    Robert Godec, current Ambassador to Kenya has an interesting history, was until recently part of Dept of State Counter-Terrorism Bureau:

    —Ambassador Godec has also served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and was Deputy Coordinator for the Transition in Iraq, charged with organizing the transition of policy and operational elements of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the standup of U.S. Mission Iraq.—

  18. Hugh

    The ATF story is illustrative. Its churning operations, i.e. using proceeds from its own “undercover” illegal sales to fund its investigations, were a blueprint for theft. No level of mere incompetence could result in “losing” two million cartons of cigarettes.

    But all we get from the head of the ATF, much like the NSA’s protestations, is that guidelines have already been tightened and that there is no problem. What this leaves out is why there were no firings, demotions, and prosecutions of those involved.

    This is the same agency that gave us operation Fast and Furious, selling guns to Mexican drug cartels. So they do have a history of this sort of thing. And without firings, demotions, and prosecutions, we can reasonably be sure they will add to this history.

  19. ScottS

    Re: Untangling Obamacare: Shopping the insurance exchanges Columbia Journalism Review

    I couldn’t even make it through “Step 1.” This thing is so incredibly stupid. What was wrong with single-payer?

    1. hunkerdown

      The only economy that matters is the rentier economy. What use is single-payer to the economy that matters?

  20. Colinjames

    Elephant steps on face of NRA lobbyist, meets bear for champagne in bar with proceeds from 420M cigarettes found side of road. John Boehner dies of heart failure upon seeing story on re-opened ERT, compelled to begin broadcasting again to cover story. Bartender reaps windfall tip from allowing bear and elephant in bar. Obamacare scuttled to avoid covering death by elephant, allowing budget negotiations to begin apace. Obama still pushes Grand Bargain. Ted Cruz takes to Senate floor for 37 hours to proclaim elephants as part of democrat conspiracy that threatens freedom, pronouncing in no uncertain terms that it must be an African Elephant and a Russian bear, indicating a new front in the war on socialist islamofascist terror.

  21. craazyman

    They Were Both Insane

    Strange daze on the streets of new Yawk, always a mind carnival of intellectual festivity. This time it was two “brauds” — yes they were, handing out flyers for some politico last week running for some local office,

    They waz both kind of hot, so I figured, let me tweak them a little, and they saw me coming at them on the street from the subway with a suit on, so they figured i’d be good for their guy. They started waving their flyers at me screaming

    What? He was a republican? I asked how that could be in New Yawk, the land of the effect metrosexual democrat with unclear sexual tendencies. This shocked me and I told them it shocked me. They both gasped and went at me full bore with the mind stare. Why can’t a republican get electd in New Yawk? The mayor is a republican! Are you an idiot? They thought that but didn’t say it. I said, yeah but he’s unusual. all the city council dudes I saw were democrats, but maybe that was becaouse it was the democrat primary. they looked at me like i was a dumb dog.

    OK, this will be fun. I asked what their dude thought about the law that was gonna make city developed commerical sites subject to a living wage law. Their eyes lit up with fire and derision. No way, why shoudl the govermint tell people what to do. It does all the time I said, like speed limits on highways. OK, I could pay more taxes if I wanted. dumbass that I am. What about slaves? I asked. should there be a law against that? That set them over the edge like two yapping poodles on speed. What was I talking about?? Waht? Slaves? What? Well, I said, would that be good, to have slaves work for free? They couldn’t comprehend my point.

    I could pay more taxes if I wanted, dumbass that I am, or would I mind if prices went way up. That’s what would happen if living wage laws were enforced. I don’t think so, I said. What? they screamed. I must have no business experience at all. Actually, I said, I do have investment experience for quite a long time. They didn’t believe me. I said I don’t think prices would go up and I wouldn’t mind paying a little more to know the workers aren’t slaves.

    That made them angry and they got impatient with me. They started getting testy, nasty, derisive, dismissive. What use was I? Why were they talking to me? Thanks for stopping by, dude, now go away.

    I did, go away, that is. down the street. Laughing my ass off but also feeling the sould assault on teh world, the assualt from insanity and the eternal vacuum that people fill with their violence and darkness and they call it an economic law. There is no hope, there’s only force and you have to be prepared to use it — preferably at the ballot box. ecce homo. who invented man? he must have been insane himself to have thought of something like that. hahah

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, I normally walk by those people! I’ll have to have some sport with them next time. What a good idea!

      I think the thing that outrages them the most is 1. Keeping your cool and better yet, 2. Laughing at them

  22. skippy

    In Fragmented Forests, Rapid Mammal Extinctions

    In 1987, the government of Thailand launched a huge, unplanned experiment. They built a dam across the Khlong Saeng river, creating a 60-square-mile reservoir. As the Chiew Larn reservoir rose, it drowned the river valley, transforming 150 forested hilltops into islands, each with its own isolated menagerie of wildlife.

    Conservation biologists have long known that fragmenting wilderness can put species at risk of extinction. But it’s been hard to gauge how long it takes for those species to disappear. Chiew Larn has given biologists the opportunity to measure the speed of mammal extinctions. “It’s a rare thing to come by in ecological studies,” said Luke Gibson, a biologist at the National University of Singapore.

    Over two decades, Dr. Gibson and his colleagues have tracked the diversity of mammals on the islands. In Friday’s issue of the journal Science, they report that the extinctions have turned out to be distressingly fast.

    “Our results should be a warning,” said Dr. Gibson. “This is the trend that the world is going in.”

    Tropical forests are regularly cleared for logging, farming and cities. In most cases, the only original tree cover is reduced to isolated patches. Many of the original species of plants and animals may still survive in those fragments, but they experience new stresses. The edges of the fragments are no longer dim and humid, for example.

    The small size of the surviving populations also creates problems. Over the course of a few generations, a small population can accumulate harmful mutations that make them less fertile or more vulnerable to diseases.

    Scientists have hypothesized that many species will gradually decline in forest fragments until they become extinct. Reducing a vast carpet of jungle to isolated patches thus creates a so-called “extinction debt” that nature will sooner or later collect. – snip

    This was a startling find for two reasons. One was the drastic crash in diversity. The other was that the Malayan field rat wasn’t on the islands when they first formed. Malayan field rats thrive around villages and farms and other disturbed habitats. The rats Dr. Gibson trapped must have come from the surrounding rain forests, where they still remain scarce. When they swam to the islands, they found fragmented forests that they could dominate.

    “I thought, ‘Wow, what if this trend holds?’” said Dr. Gibson. “And it did.”

    On most of the islands, all the native species were gone, replaced by the rats. Only on a few islands did some species still cling to existence. Dr. Gibson surveyed an additional four islands and found they also had just one or two species, suggesting that all the islands were suffering massive extinctions in about 20 years.

    “No one expected to see such rapid extinctions,” said Dr. Gibson.

    Dr. Gibson suspects that the small size of the island forests makes them particularly vulnerable to invasion by the rats. The diversity of mammals he trapped in the mainland forests was the same as in the first surveys in the 1990s.

    “This study confirms for mammals what we’ve long known for birds,” said Stuart L. Pimm, the president of Saving Species and a professor at Duke. In 2003, Dr. Pimm and his colleagues studied records of birds from forest fragments in the Amazon and found species going extinct at a comparable rate.

    Dr. Pimm and Dr. Gibson agreed that the fast pace of extinction in forest fragments gives an urgency to conserving the large swaths of tropical forest that still remain. “Our study shows we may need to do that very quickly,” said Dr. Gibson.

    skippy… “extinction debt” – wins the nets!

    1. psychohistorian

      Interesting link.

      It makes me want to ask how far behind Greece we really are? Not much methinks.

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