Links 10/15/13

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Apes comfort each other ‘like humans’ BBC

How Big Pharma Peddles Influence in FDA Panel Meetings Patient Safety Blog

Think Dirty app for cleaner shopping (#SXSWEco) KIt O’Connell, Firedoglake (Chuck L)

China’s State Press Calls for ‘Building a de-Americanized World’ BloombergBusinesweek

Decisive Victory by Le Pen’s Eurosceptic National Front Party in Local Election Stirs Fear in Mainstream French Parties Michael Shedlock

Time to take bets on Frexit and the French franc? Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. This is potentially a huge deal which has not gotten the attention it warrants due to the way the US debt ceiling wrangling has crowded out a lot of other finance news, at least in the US.

Italy’s Premier Calls Populism a Rising Threat to Europe New York Times

2500+ Killed by Drones in Pakistan, Names of Victims Now Available Real News Network

Terror: The Hidden Source by Malise Ruthven New York Review of Books (furzy mouse)

Afghans Flee Homes as U.S. Pulls Back Wall Street Journal

Key Iran nuclear talks under way BBC

Shutdown Showdown

Market distortions in the short end of the curve Walter Kurtz. Pretty wild.

Senate leaders within striking distance of deal to end shutdown, raise debt limit Washington Post

Senators Near Fiscal Deal, but the House Is Uncertain New York Times

Three GOP Faces Outshining Party Wall Street Journal

Ted Cruz Could Force a Debt Default All by Himself BloombergBusinessweek

The sun is setting on dollar supremacy, and with it, American power Telegraph

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

NSA’s issue? Too much data. Washington Post

DoJ: If we can track one American, we can track all Americans ars technica. Really ugly, the DoJ is saying the defendant lacks standing to challenge a warrantless wiretap. Oh, and this applies to everyone. Aiee!

NSA Collects Email Contact Lists, Instant Messaging Chat Buddy Lists From Overseas With No Oversight At All Techdirt (Chuck L)

The perfect epitaph for establishment journalism Glenn Greenwald

Normalcy eludes many a year after Sandy hit NJ Courier-Post (Carol B)

Amar Kaleka, son of slain founder of Wisconsin Sikh temple, to challenge Paul Ryan Raw Story (furzy mouse)

Interview with an Adjunct Organizer: “People Are Tired of the Hypocrisy” Dissent Magazine (Carol B)

Detroit Secures $350 Million Loan To Help Pay Off Debt During Bankruptcy Proceedings Huffington Post (Carol B)

The artificial fuel for growth cannot last forever Mohamed El-Erian, Financial Times

This Secular Bear Has Only Just Begun Big Picture

Credit default swaps run out of road Financial Times

The US still struggles with dilapidated roads and bridges Financial Times. Quelle surprise!

What you learn about humanity from living on the streets Guardian

Jesus Christ, Columbus, and the US Constitution CounterPunch (Carol B)

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Jim Haygood

    ‘Final defeat for sterling [as the global reserve currency] came with Britain’s decision to leave the gold standard in 1931 – an economically sensible decision but a psychological turning point for sterling from which it never recovered.’
    — Jeremy Warner, The Telegraph

    By exactly the same logic, final defeat for the dollar came on 15 Aug 1971, when Nixon defaulted on the U.S. promise to redeem dollars in gold for foreign central banks.

    No fiat currency, with its rate of emission subject to political whims, is ever going to endure as a global reserve currency. Warner acknowledges as much in stating that ‘alternative safe havens, such as Japan and Switzerland, have been rendered defunct by central bank money printing.‘ Shocked, shocked — meet the U.S. and U.K. versions of QE, Mr. Warner!

    When the great global fiat experiment ends up driving a bus with 7 billion folks off a cliff, it again will become clear that there is and ever has been only one global reserve asset.

    Hint: all the major central banks hold some of it. They’re no fools.

    1. from Mexico

      So the world should turn the clock back 300+ years by adopting some ancient metalist notion about money?

      Oh well, while we’re at it why don’t we also turn the clock back 300+ years to some ancient Ptolemaic notion about the cosmos?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Can’t speak about ‘the world,’ but the U.S. Treasury still holds $332 billion worth of gold (at current market value of $1,269/oz).

        Why would they do that, if gold is just a barbarous relic? Well for one thing, unlike sovereign bonds, gold can’t default. Its value is intrinsic, not dependent on the whims of parliaments.

        Oh, and on that note, credit default swaps on US Treasury debt are at 71 bps today. Who you gonna call?

        1. scraping_by

          The intrinsic value of gold is just a convention. As another poster pointed out, the only intrinsic valuables are those that directly support metabolic processes, air, water, shelter, etc.

          The metal gold supports no metabolic process. Its value is entirely supported by agreement. And this particular agreement is among people who already own gold, or who have social structures that allow them to accumulate gold.

          George Carlin’s, “It’s a big club and you’re not in it” applies most definitely to giving some supernatural value to a metal. Central banks worship it, so it has value. If they went apostate, or if their reach failed, it would suddenly become a metal useful in certain electronics.

          1. Flying Kiwi


            ?Which would you rather have, an ingot of solid gold or my 25-acre smallholding by a fish-filled bay in remote New Zealand with its 2-gallons of fresh milk daily from my two hand-milked Jerseys, my small flock of sheep for wool and mmeat, my garden of fresh veges, the wooded hills around me with their wild pigs, goats and deer, and my daily diet of quiet.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              If we say under both gold standard and fiat currency, imperialism runs rampant on the backs of oppressed 99.99%, we can all benefit from that insight.

              If we take down the gold standard in order to replace it with fiat currency (without doing much about the 0.01% controlling everything), we are doing the bidding of the rich.

              And as the planet stews slowly wrapped inside greenhouse gases, neither gold nor the autographed first edition of Yeats’ poetry will save us:

              I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
              And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
              Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
              And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

              And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
              Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
              There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
              And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

              I will arise and go now, for always night and day
              I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
              While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
              I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

              His poems will not get you food under that crisis either.

    2. Massinissa

      Im with Mexico and Skippy.

      The world is going to go through a water shortage in the next few decades.

      The worlds thirsty are not going to want to melt down gold and drink it.

      Maybe you could make the case that there would be no water shortage if it wasnt for Nixon leaving the gold standard or whatever, but IMO the climate problems are being caused by CAPITALISM, which will ALWAYS have incredible problems regardless of the goddamn currency, and either way the cat is too far out of the bag for a hard currency to help us now.

      Capitalism has pretty much the same problems regardless of the currency instituted, and its just as unfair, irrational and immoral regardless of the currency in question. If anything, gold standards make it easier for the economic elites to have a monopoly on currency, since they, you know, have a monopoly on gold…

      I find this whole bitching about fiat to lack any substance or even relevance. Our problems are too goddamn large for a silly magic pill to work. Perhaps, perhaps, a gold standard would help: But it would hardly be sufficient to even come close to ending capitalism’s massive problems in the present era.

      Gold doesnt actually have any more objective value than the cloth dollars are printed on. It wont stop water shortages, wont stop the planet from warming, and wont stop the ocean from acidifying. Why bitch about it so much?

      1. fresno dan

        The sun is setting on dollar supremacy, and with it, American power Telegraph

        I am not as much a believer in the goodness of American power as I was in my youth…
        My problem with the supposed privilege of the reserve currency is that in the last forty years, inequality has grown, incomes of the lower quintiles are stagnant or even falling – despite the supposed increase in GDP and productivity.
        Maybe the reserve currency affords some benefit, but if the benefit is only for the top 1%, I can see those at the bottom wanting to bring the whole edifice down.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There are certain material things that are intrinsically valuable.

      They also can not be bought and sold.

      These are air, water, food, etc.. We Neo-Neanderthals believe this.

      When we buy and sell these things, as unfortunately we do in this transitional period to a new, more enlightened, more sharing and more egalitarian age, gold is as intrinsically valuable as things we buy like soaps, hair bleach, diamond rings, comic books, video games, leather shoes, truffles, alcoholic drinks, country club memberships or books, and to a certain extend their values are determined in a free market, though we can see there are limits.

      So, as long as we say we humans have to buy and sell water, whereas a Neanderthal could just drink it where he/she found it, the only problem with gold is it is owned by the 0.01% and the 99.99%. And because it is owned by the 0.01%, it will be used to oppress the 99.99%. But we shouldn’t blame it on gold.

    4. susan the other

      The USD is based on a basket of goods and services. Fort Knox keeps a certain amount of gold. But the basket of goods and services, as well as the stash of gold, is valued in dollars. Gold can’t be a currency because it is too scarce. Goods and services are happy to gouge. So what’s money to do? T’were it based on an ideal we might get somewhere. Base it on nanocarbon, a very rare and valuable element produced by an industrial society. No more petrodollars, only carbon dollars. And watch all those investment bankers climb the smokestacks to scrub the carbon with their grubby fingers.

  2. skippy

    Jim… one of these day your going to realize all those numbers are meaningless. If your don’t have enough water or energy to prop up this wood chipper of a philosophy… not even gold will shine anymore.

    skippy… intrinsic value is shambolic methinks

    1. anon y'mouse

      in time of crisis, no one is going to want to trade their loaf of bread for some fool’s brick of gold.

      you can’t eat it. eating is everything in a time of crisis. only an idiot would starve to death clutching a brick of gold, hoping for the better time around the corner when they will be able to cash in on this wise maneuver.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In time of really, really bad crisis, nothing will get anyone food, except these:

        1. food for food, water for food or maybe sex or body parts for food


        2. knives or guns to ‘obtain’ food.

        Gold won’t help nor any fiat currency.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          But in times of ” not really bad” (we should apologize for it is certainty not “not really bad” for those living through it) crisis, for people escaping Mao’s cultural revolution or Stalin’s Ukrainian starvation, for example, gold would have been helpful when used in the right situation.

  3. Butch in Waukegan

    Wanna bet that China’s bow shot is not being mentioned in the duopoly’s back-and-forth, closed door bickering today?

    The Birth of the ‘De-Americanized’ World by Pepe Escobar

    At the same time, Beijing has been acting. The yuan is also slowly but surely becoming more convertible in international markets. (Just last week, the European Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China agreed to set up a US$45-$57 billion currency swap line that will add to the yuan’s international strength and improve access to trade finance in the euro area.)

    The unofficial date for full yuan convertibility could fall anywhere between 2017 and 2020. The target is clear; move away from piling up US debt, which implies, in the long run, Beijing removing itself from this market – and thus making it way more costly for the US to borrow. The collective leadership in Beijing has already made up its mind about it, and is acting accordingly.

    The move towards a full convertible yuan is as inexorable as the BRICS move towards a basket of currencies progressively replacing the US dollar as a reserve currency. Until, further on down the road, the real cataclysmic event materializes; the advent of the petroyuan – destined to surpass the petrodollar once the Gulf petro-monarchies see which way the historical winds are blowing. Then we will enter a completely different geopolitical ball game.

    We may be a long way away, but what is certain is that Deng Xiaoping’s famous set of instructions is being progressively discarded; “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      Good point. Since Aug. 1971 when Nixon declared the dollar irredeemable, it’s lost nigh on five-sixths of its value:

      Why have the BRICs been putting up with US malfeasance this long anyway? One answer is that much of those reserves are held in interest-bearing Treasuries, in the Federal Reserve’s monstrous $3.3 trillion custody account.

      Since 1971, T-bill interest has effectively preserved the purchasing power of foreign dollar reserves, despite U.S. domestic inflation. So far, so good.

      What’s changing, though, is that in the sunset of the insolvent welfare state, all of the rich-country fiat currencies now carry a material default risk, which will grow over time. A point will be reached where prospective interest (even at future higher rates) is inadequate to compensate for the risks of devaluation and default.

      Though it will be solved temporarily, the larger import of the U.S. budget standoff is that there is no solution to government’s massive, fraudulent insolvency. QE, now in its fifth year, shows their bad intent: they will attempt to inflate their obligations away. Maybe in a decade or two, they’ll succeed. Soft or hard default, it matters little.

      In 1720, John Law’s Mississippi Bubble ravaged only one country. This time round, 1971-2013, the entire planet has clambered aboard the fiat currency Ship of Fools. So there’s no island of currency stability to rebuild the ruins, though the BRICs are having a go at it. Sic transit gloria mundi.

      1. from Mexico

        You confuse correlation with causation, and lay at the feet of monetary policy the blame which should be laid at the feet of fiscal and regulatory policy.

        You also cherry-pick history. In 16th-century Spain money was in the form of specie, the country possessed a surfeit of gold and silver, and what did it do for Spain? It brought inflation and malinvestment.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          People have argued often over the question ‘what is money?’

          There doesn’t seem to be any satisfactory answers.

          Maybe there is none.

          Perhaps we should confront the possibility that it’s not a workable concept, though most humans think we are smarter than that and there must be a way.

          Maybe things are not meant to be sold or bought at all, not even bartering.

          Maybe sharing is the only workable way.

      2. diptherio

        In my estimation, the problem was never going off the gold-standard, the problem is where the gov’t has been directing it’s fiat currency: namely, the financial sector.

        Had the newly created currency been injected at the bottom of the economic pyramid, through an Employer of Last Resort or Basic Income Guarantee program, rather than at the top through the Fed’s open market operations and Lender of Last Resort facilities, we would be inhabiting a very different (and likely better) world than we do today.

        My two rupees worth.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They will oppress the 99.99% with gold.

          And as you say, they have oppressed the 99.99% with the replacement fiat currency.

          With gold, the first imperial period would have been it.

          With fiat, a second imperial period was brought upon the world.

          I will avoid saying the former is the lesser of two evils, but it seems reasonable to say the latter is the worse of two evils.

    2. from Mexico

      Pepe Escobar is great, at least for those who want some rendition of events not filtered through the rose-colored glasses of the American excptionalist gas bags who inhabit the Beltway.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Chinese have done it before and it’s not surprising to see Chinese Treasure Petro-Junks manned by modern day Zheng Ho’s, sailing along the ancient Sea Silk Road, to befriend petro-monarchs in the Gulf.

      And they might even rename Quanzhou, Fujian Zaytum, meaning olives in Arabic (I believe), again as it was called in those days.

    4. Butch in Waukegan

      b at Moon of Alabama comments on the same editorial. His concluding paragraph:

      Since the demise of the Soviet Union the U.S. has been the uncontested global leader. Its behavior over the last decades has shown that it is not suited for such a role. The coming decade will see a new era arise.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Somehow, the ability to print as much money as a monetary sovereign wishes, without letting us know how that would be accompanied by changes to how imperialists behave, seems ominously like an attempt to prevent that new era from arriving.

  4. Ben Johannson

    Regarding LePen:

    She’s definitely a liar planning to screw her constituents the moment she gains office. You can tell because she’s saying all the right things.

    1. Massinissa

      History pretty much shows that when someone is directing most or much of their attention to race baiting/immigrant bashing, theyre really just trying to distract people from more important social issues. Which Marine Le Pen has learned from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen with his ties to Nazi’s.

      I like euroscepticism a LOT. But every other goddamn thing about Marine Le Pen is bad bad bad news. She borders on fascist, and I am not saying that lightly or flippantly. Her father denied the holocaust for christs sake, and judging from her politics she hasnt gone far from the tree.

    2. Susan the other

      Marine Le Pen is a French Nationalist. To be a French Nationalist she must fight all the WW2 stereotypes. But those stereotypes do not pertain today in the same way they did in the 1930s. Today the circumstances are way different. If I were French I would be backing her.

  5. financial matters

    As Doug Terpstra pointed out yesterday via a Mike Whitney article, US Treasuries are being used as collateral for financial speculation. Instead they could be used from the ground up to support a Job Guarantee Program. This would give lenders more security knowing that people would have a better chance of paying off loans, reward community service type projects and add money to the economy for real services and products.

    “””US Treasuries provide the bulk of collateral the banks use in acquiring their short-term funding.”””

    “””In other words, the banks are using USTs to borrow gobs of money from money markets and financial institutions so they can finance their other dodgy investments, derivatives contracts and ancillary casino-type operations. If there’s a default, the banks will have to come up with more capital for their scams that are leveraged at 40 or 50 to 1. This systemwide margin call would trigger a deflationary spiral that would domino through the entire system unless the Fed stepped in and, once again, provided a giant backstop in the form of blank check support.”””

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think these US Treasuries were issued by the Treasury department to buy more monitors for the NSA and drones for the Pentagon.

      It’s a separate problem, but just as lethal in that the banks are over leveraging these US Treasuries for speculation.

      We need to stop both.

      1. financial matters

        Yes, I thought this was an interesting observation..

        “How did we get here?

        At its root is a veritable obsession on the part of the rulers of the world – in response to the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s – with ensuring that social movements cannot be seen to grow, flourish, or propose alternatives; that those who challenge existing power arrangements can never, under any circumstances, be perceived to win. To do so requires creating a vast apparatus of armies, prisons, police, various forms of private security firms and military intelligence apparatus, and propaganda engines of every conceivable variety, most of which do not attack alternatives directly so much as create a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity, and simple despair that renders any thought of changing the world seem an idle fantasy.

        Economically, the apparatus is pure dead weight” (Debt: 5000 years)

    1. diptherio

      Finally, a beneficial glitch!

      But the article does beg a few questions. One: how did people (in that particular MalWart) figure out that the limits had been suspended? Did MalWart make a storewide announcement once they figured out what was going on? I wouldn’t doubt it, since they apparently announced the reinstatement of the spending limits.

      Also, did the glitch also allow EBT cards to be used for things other than food? The article kind of makes it sound like it.

      Shame this had to happen at a MalWart, though. I hope some of the local grocery stores got to benefit as well.

      1. ohmyheck

        It did. I messaged a friend who there and he replied:

        “It wasn’t just Wal-Mart that did this. I have a friend that has a son who works at a Mom and Pop supermarket. The owner there made the decision as well. Let ’em have it!!! Poor kid was pissed because he had to restock so much. LOL”


        1. scraping_by

          Wearing my tinfoil hat, that glitch sounds a lot like the lottery. Unexpected benefits raining down for no functional reason. And you remember the discussion of the lottery in 1984.

          The other foily bit is that it happened after people in 17 eastern states were denied benefits over the weekend. Compensation?

          It’s probably just Xerox finally won their race to the bottom trying to find computer analysts who’d work for little or nothing. Or the job shop providing people with no idea what was going on. Every American computer geek can now say ‘Told ya so.’

  6. dearieme

    A E-P: “the Gaulliste UMP, a party at risk of disintegration unless it can find a leader in short order.” Oh how he enjoyed writing that joke. Hats off.

  7. from Mexico

    @ “Jesus Christ, Columbus, and the US Constitution”

    That’s quite a work of historical fiction. It’s almost as far-fetched as some of the pseudo-scholarship emanating from other New Left “scholars” like Leonard Jeffries.

    It starts out by repeating the Black Legend, a bit of propaganda crafted and disseminated by northern Europeans, but mostly the English, during a competitive time of global conquest and moral one-upmanship dating from the 16th through 19th centuries. Sperber asserts that:

    what is more important for the present inquiry is the fact that Columbus immediately imposed the Order of the old world upon the one he invaded. The law of force (articulated in the European legal tradition’s Doctrine of Conquest, which grants invaders legal title to the lands they conquer) was subsequently imposed throughout the Americas and beyond.

    This in no way resembles objective reality. The “law of force” which he describes is in fact the old Roman Law, which Alfonso MAESTRE SÁNCHEZ explains in “ ‘Todas las gentes del mundo son hombres’ : El gran debate entre Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (1474-1566) y Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (1490-1573), available in PDF on the internet, but unfortunately in Spanish.

    However, the old Roman “law of force,” as Maestre goes on to explain, was regnant neither in 16th-century Spain nor in Medieval Christendom. What was rengant was just war theory, which can be traced back to the Christian theologians Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Ambrose, and Augustine, down through Thomas Aquinas, and right on down to Christian theologians and other students of internaitonal relations of the 15th through 18th centuries:

    Aquinas’s thoughts become the model for later Scholastics and Jurists to expand and to gradually to universalize beyond Christendom – notably, for instance, in relations with the peoples of America following European incursions into the continent. The most important of these writers are: Francisco de Vitoria (1486-1546), Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), Samuel Pufendorf (1632-1704), Christian Wolff (1679-1754), and Emerich de Vattel (1714-1767).

    If the “law of force” was regnant anywhere, it was in the English colonies, as opposed to the Spanish colonies. This J.H. Elliot thoroughly documents in Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830. Instead of the process of assimilation and mestizaje pursued by the Spanish, the Enlish instead pursued a policy of isolating and exterminating the indigenous peoples. For “the colonists of New England,” Elliot writes, “the only safe Indian had become a dead Indian.”

    But it gets worse. Sperber’s historical revisionism knows no bounds as it descends into over-the-top chauvinism and nationalist mythology. I don’t see how it could get much worse, for instance, than when he writes:

    Though authoritarian thinkers like Thomas Hobbes would use the maxim to justify absolutism and domination, it was the emancipatory, “Asklepian” interpretation of the maxim that would become most influential in the British colonies. It was just this interpretation that the North American colonists repeated in their efforts to legitimize their struggles for liberation from the British Crown. The health of the people is the supreme law, they argued; and because domination by the British Empire (not to mention any other form of domination) is hostile to people’s health, this rule lacks legitimacy and must be dissolved.

    Sperber never stops to ask such inconvenient questions as: “Which people’s health?”

    1. julia mars

      It seems you’ve missed the point of the article. One of the major points is that the concept of health is ambiguous. This ambiguity is described as one between actual health and an obsession with purity. This latter obsession with purity is equated with domination. This is what imperialism in general pursues – and what Columbus transplanted. The “Asklepian” notion of health is a radical, emancipatory health – for not just all people, but the ecosystem as well.

      1. julia mars

        Although it was implicit, he should have made it explicit that the colonists’ use of the “Asklepian” take on the maxim applied to the Crown (to free themselves of the Order, and that in their treatment of women, blacks, indigenous people, and others, the colonists were administering the pastoral aspect of the maxim – the murderous, dominating side that is enshrined in the US Constitution.

  8. kimyo

    South Dakota’s cattle cataclysm: why isn’t this horror news?

    So what’s the big deal about this blizzard?

    It’s not really winter yet.

    The cows don’t have their warm jackets on. The cows are still out eating grass in the big pastures. Atlas wasn’t just a snowstorm, it was the kind of storm that can destroy the ranchers that have been caring for these cattle for hundreds of years.

    Last weekend Atlas hit. It started with rain. The rain soaked the cows and chilled them to the bone. Inches and inches of rain fell. The rain made horrible mud. Then the winds started – 80mph winds, hurricane force. When the wind started, the rain changed to snow. A lot of snow. The cows were wet, muddy and they didn’t have their winter jackets when the wind and snow came. Wet snow. Heavy snow.

    1. Bruno Marr

      Both of North & South Dakota’s U.S. House reps are Republican. Ask them if a government program to benefit these folks would pass Congress.

    2. mark

      An awful event. A great deal of suffering for those animals, 12 hours of cold rain, followed up with nearly 3 feet of snow.

      A miserable death.

  9. diptherio

    Re: Interview with an Adjunct Organizer

    They’re also destroying the academy. Because as this happens, more and more students are going to ask, “why would I get a PhD? You want me to have a PhD to teach your students, yet why would I do that? Because it seems to me if I get a PhD, I’m going to end up making poverty wages. I can do that now without a PhD. I’ll go to Starbucks and do it.”

    They’re destroying their own system, and they’re going to wake up and realize that students and parents have decided that there’s no use for the university anymore.

    This. I’ve often considered going back to school to attain an MA or PhD. Even applied and been accepted at a few places. But I always balk at the last moment as the reality of a massive debt load and years of effort for (most likely) only marginally better pay (if that) sinks in.

    Higher Ed, it seems like, has almost become a luxury consumer good, rather than an investment. You can invest in your education, of course, but it doesn’t seem like a real wise investment any more.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s unfortunate that we are led to believe that education itself is not rewarding but is rather a stepping stone to a career, and equally sad that we don’t even get that debased promise.

    2. craazyman

      why do you think i went to university of magonia? nobody will recognize the degree but me, so I have to work a day job. that’s OK, I’d make a lousy professor anyway, unless there was no regimentation or classes. that’s why getting lucky in penny stocks is the way to go. if you put enough money away, you can just kick back and read whatever you want and make stuff up. nobody can give you a C or D or a B and gettting an A is like, who the F cares? I wonder if Shakespeare sat around thinking “If I was in a creative writing MFA program, I wonder if I’d get an A for MacBeth?” Hmmmm. I wonder too. Who needs that sh*t unless somebody is a child?

  10. grayslady

    Pro Publica reporting that the NY Fed has requested the court seal all documents relating to the Carmen Segarra case.

    1. fresno dan

      Thanks for the tip. Very important article

      A federal judge in Manhattan is pondering whether to grant the request of the New York Federal Reserve to seal the case brought by former senior bank examiner Carmen Segarra.

      As reported by ProPublica last week, Segarra filed a lawsuit against the New York Fed and three of its employees alleging she had been wrongfully terminated last year after she determined that Goldman Sachs had insufficient conflict-of-interest policies.

      On Friday, the Fed asked for a protective order to seal documents in the case as well as parts of the complaint. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams, New York Fed counsel David Gross said the information should be removed from the public docket because it is “Confidential Supervisory Information,” including internal New York Fed emails and materials provided to the Fed by Goldman.”

  11. DWelker

    Another grab at government revenue by other means…no one in the local community campaigns promoting this new Purple Line understand why MD Gov O’Malley (D-running for president) to doing this. When P3 law was conceived a couple years ago, the public financing was up in the air. Now MD has a higher dedicated gas tax projecting out for years to raise enough funds for a bonded “design-build” project.

    Purple Line: Public-private transit partnership would be one of the broadest in U.S.

    Maryland transit officials’ proposal to have a private company design, build, operate and help pay for the light-rail Purple Line in the Washington suburbs would be one of the first such arrangements in the United States, raising questions about potential risks and financial impacts.

    Only one other U.S. transit project, a commuter rail line in Denver, entails such a far-reaching public-private partnership, but it is still under construction.

    Details of the 35-year Purple Line plan have begun to emerge as the Maryland Department of Transportation prepares to seek state approval Wednesday to pursue it. A consortium of private companies would be expected to contribute $500 million to $900 million to the $2.2 billion project.

    The private team would be reimbursed for design, construction and equipment costs as work progressed over five years. The state would then pay the company $100 million to $200 million annually to operate and maintain the line for 30 years. The payments could be reduced if the company did not meet certain standards, such as providing reliable service and clean trains.

    The private financing costs would be paid back over time with Purple Line fare revenue, officials said. If ridership on the 16-mile line between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties did not materialize as anticipated, fare revenue from other Maryland transit systems would make up the difference, state officials said.

    1. neo-realist

      As much as I hate big business looting of the public till, if private participation meant the difference between the project to build a rail line happening versus not happening without it, I’d choose the public/private partnership, for we seriously need more rail construction around the country–give us some of that in the puget sound area to compensate for the lack of support we get for public transportation at the state level.

      1. Eureka Springs

        ***Laughing*** I’m going to call your kind TINA turners from here on out. You hate it, but a train ride would make it all worth while. Never mind it would go bankrupt/taking many “realists” with them in no time.

        Funny how one month of QE would fund roughly 38 of these projects (at the neo fascist/liberal looting rates) entirely.

        By some estimates I’ve read slightly more than one month of QE would be enough to establish affordable fiber internet to every home in the country.

        1. neo-realist

          Until we throw out the looters after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, we have to work with the b*stards. Lets get what we can get, particularly a train car with a hookah bar.

  12. Hugh

    Having the world’s reserve currency is a function of empire. The US certainly derives many short and medium term benefits from it. But it also has costs. The US must run permanent trade deficits and this lends itself to the hollowing out of American industry undermining the empire in the long run. This is exacerbated by the high costs of the military power necessary to maintain the empire and its system of military protectorates. This leads to a decrease in living standards and degradation of infrastructure in the hegemon.

    As it is, the US and its military protectorates in Europe and East Asia dominate the world economy. Dollar supremacy of the reserve currency is not therefore going to change under present circumstances.

    And let’s be real clear about this. China is not going to take up any burden associated with, and more importantly costs of, a new system or alternate to the dollar. Despite all the Chinese whingeing, the truth is that China, with its dollar peg, has been a major beneficiary of dollar hegemony. And while China has pursued numerous bilateral deals with developing countries, (A) these are no substitute for an international system and (B) they have always been to China’s perceived advantage, that is China has not been paying costs that it will not recover from pursuing them.

    Similarly with Europe, it has been easily forgotten, but the Fed in the aftermath of the 2008 meltdown ran very large dollar swaps programs with the world’s other central banks, effectively acting as the world’s central bank. I cannot see the Bank of Japan or the ECB ever undertaking such a role. Now supposedly the Fed made some money off these swaps, but the truth is it could have made a lot, lot more. It was in other words subsidizing not only the action of these other central banks but essentially the financial systems of their countries.

    It is important to keep this all in mind when some commentator, European, Chinese, or whatever writes some half-assed article about replacing the current world reserve currency and making it sound about as complicated as ordering a cheeseburger.

    1. yap

      Don’t fall for the fixation on national currencies as the only alternative reserve currencies. The real threat to the dollar is not any nation’s currency but a reformulated SDR. China has learned how to peg to a basket, and with a bit of multilateral coordination that basket becomes the SDR, and the SDR evolves to the Bancor. It wouldn’t be hard to ramp up SDR-denominated bond issuance, which has been pushed by both IMF (especially before Strauss-Khan got defenestrated) and the Chiang Mai initiative. The ruling banks in the NATO bloc circumscribe discourse to keep it to ritual dismissal of the idea, but a lot is happening in the international space.

  13. anon y'mouse

    Interview with an Adjunct Organizer:

    “They’re destroying their own system, and they’re going to wake up and realize that students and parents have decided that there’s no use for the university anymore.”

    that’s the entire point. they’ve rolled out University 3.0 already (MOOCs), and the lower orders already put themselves in hock to Heald and places like it. university will again become the province of the ruling classes. add this to the privatization of the k-12 system and you have pay to play, with most of us not being able to afford anything but a McD’s level of ed.

    and this just at the point where our society is so extremely complicated, that being able to navigate it adequately REQUIRES 4 more years of college to be a functioning citizen.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps a dentist can help with this question.

      Are gold dental fillings safer than mercury amalgam ones?

      1. optimader

        Not a dentist but I have had/have this conversation about merits of gold/amalgam/composite w/ my dentist who is a friend Ive known a long time. “just fix my tooth as you would have your own done and let me know what it cost” is my approach.

        Skip gold, embrace Composite.

        Amalgam is fine but old (and proven technology) technology. Still has its applications re: patients that are difficult to manage relative to keeping the “work area” (my nonmedical term) dry. Composite bonding sites need to be super-dry and “clean” for a good bonding outcome.

        A big disadvantage (IMO) of amalgam, or gold for that matter, is that they are x-ray opaque. Composite is x-ray transparent, so your dentist has better imagery information to work w/ to detect developing issues.

        Another differentiation that is relevant IMO, and he concedes, is that Composite filling mat’l is formulated to much more closely match the coefficient of expansion and coefficient of thermal conductivity of tooth enamel. Amalgam isn’t close. The consequence of this is that when you consume, say hot beverages, an amalgam filling it going to heat up quicker and expand relative to the tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is not very elastic, so this puts a tensile load on the tooth. In engineering this is a cyclical stress. If you have a defect in a Mat’l surface (like the grooves between cusps on a molar?) this is a location for a stress riser, where a crack will typically propagate from eventually after enough cycles.

        Long and short of it, a filling that best reproduces the bulk properties of tooth enamel is probably the best bet from an engineering perspective.

        He claims Mercury toxicity due to amalgam has never been substantiated. In fact you could hypothetically drink metallic mercury, it is not a form that is metabolized.

        That’s what I know about it, hope its of some help. Dental work for me is very traumatic, they are chiseling away at stuff that wont grow back –be careful. (BTW, composites dont need mechanical “undercuts” like amalgam does, so the dentist can potentially be “lighter” w/ the drill. TO my way of thinking, an important consideration)

        Be nice to your teeth..

    1. chris

      This Floridian, who voted Stein, actually managed to get an account at… after about 10 attempts. Only problem is that, although I was able to see the available plans, links to the full benefit details were not functioning so the process was essentially worthless. And the kicker?… that was the only time my account worked. Every log in since lands me on a blank page. I’m definitely logged-in, but am left with nowhere to go.

      Oh yeah, the plans available to me on the fed exchange are decidedly not cheaper once deductibles and co-pays are factored in. It looks like I’ll need to spend at least $10,000/year before I get a penny from the insurers. The only way the cheaper premiums save me money is if I don’t go to the doctor.

      A feature, not a bug I assume…

  14. Doug Terpstra

    Greenwald, in “Perfect Epitaph” for MSM Journalism quotes the former editor of UK’s “Independent”, Chris Blackhurst as saying, “If MI5 [UK’s NSA] warns [disclosing] this is not in the public interest, who am I to disbelieve them?”

    Yeah, like, you know, I never took any actual classes in journalism or anything for real, but I’m pretty sure that’s like a major tenet of journalism, taught at high school level — reporters should never question government censors.

    Chris Blackhurst of “The Independent” (seriously?) clearly has no ear for irony and not the slightest sense of shame or embarrassment. This is a breathtaking admission of reckless malfeasance and malpractice from the former top gatekeeper of a major news outlet, yet it’s met with a collective shrug, standard operating procedure in the war on terror. Wow. We are in trouble.

    Greenwald today: ‘Most Shocking’ NSA Stories Yet to Come. “Greenwald, Snowden in daily contact to reveal massive trove of revelations.”

    When it comes to the “shock” inspired by the recent National Security Agency revelations, the worst is yet to come, said Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been working with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on the leaks.

    “There are a lot more stories,” Greenwald told a large crowd at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference currently taking place in Rio de Janeiro. “The archives are so complex and so deep and so shocking, that I think the most shocking and significant stories are the ones we are still working on, and have yet to publish.”

    Don’t travel to the US or UK, Glenn

  15. Doug Terpstra

    Greenwald, in “Perfect Epitaph” for MSM Journalism quotes the former editor of UK’s “Independent”, Chris Blackhurst as saying, “If MI5 [UK’s NSA] warns [disclosing] this is not in the public interest, who am I to disbelieve them?”

    Yeah, like, you know, I never took any actual classes in journalism or anything for real, but I’m pretty sure that’s like a major tenet of journalism, taught at high school level — reporters should never question government censors.

    Chris Blackhurst of “The Independent” (seriously?) clearly has no ear for irony and not the slightest sense of shame or embarrassment. This is a breathtaking admission of reckless malfeasance and malpractice from the former top gatekeeper of a major news outlet, yet it’s met with a collective shrug, standard operating procedure in the war on terror. Wow. We are in trouble.

    Greenwald today: ‘Most Shocking’ NSA Stories Yet to Come. “Greenwald, Snowden in daily contact to reveal massive trove of revelations.”

    When it comes to the “shock” inspired by the recent National Security Agency revelations, the worst is yet to come, said Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been working with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on the leaks.

    “There are a lot more stories,” Greenwald told a large crowd at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference currently taking place in Rio de Janeiro. “The archives are so complex and so deep and so shocking, that I think the most shocking and significant stories are the ones we are still working on, and have yet to publish.”

    Don’t travel to the US or UK, Glenn.

  16. rich

    Bodies Double as Cash Machines With U.S. Income Lagging: Economy

    Hair, breast milk and eggs are doubling as automated teller machines for some cash-strapped Americans such as April Hare.

    In all but two quarters since the beginning of 2011, “hair,” “eggs,” or “kidney” have been among the top four autofill results for the Google search query, “I want to sell my…,” according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at New York-based ConvergEx Group, which provides brokerage and trading-related services for institutional investors.

    While Americans can legally sell hair, breast milk and eggs, the sale and purchase of a kidney in the U.S. is against the law.

    “The fact that people even explore it indicates that there are still a lot of people worried about their financial outlook,” said Colas, who tracks off-the-grid economic indicators. “This is very much unlike every other recovery that we’ve had. It’s going to be a slow-grinding, very frustrating recovery.”

    Is this part of the feds model?

    This was………………….

    Why The Wall Street Casino Lives On

    On a personal note: This section is perhaps the most brilliant explanation ever as to why the Fed bailouts of Wall Street since the financial crisis were an asinine idea that benefited the “0.0001%” with destructive consequences for everyone else, including the taxpayer, and the main-street economy.

    Drastically overpriced debt is eventually smacked with painful losses on the free market, but not on a Wall Street served by compliant central bankers. When the Bernanke Fed bailed out Bear Stearns in March 2008, for example, it was sitting on tens of billions of impaired or worthless assets.

    Among this financial sludge was $1.1 billion of the undistributed Extended Stay paper. Accordingly, the taxpayers of America through their central bank became the owners of busted bonds which, on the margin, had funded nearly half of Blackstone’s legendary profit on the sale to Lightstone.

  17. skippy

    Hay Opti and Aby have a gander a this SEE:

    “Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” — Steve Jobs, the Lost Interview

    skippy… every brain wired like a computer and linked in almost real time – how the hell do I get off this plane of cortex injected reality…. Runnnnnnnnn~

    1. optimader

      Thank goodness I stopped at FORTRAN IV and decided to do something I enjoy.

      Borg is right, I look into the face of Mark Zukerberg and see blind zealot. Come code at the collective. We will suck the life out of you, but there’s free Red Bull and pasta :o/

        1. skippy

          Bawhahahaha… Used to work with one in the old Calif days, snow white, the worst imo. No one would date her… wonder why.

          Skippy… sitting in the hot tub or at bars – public places and having all those people lunging around their portfolios was a major drag… just forthat special moment… errr… thankfully now days its all on disk or tubes…

    1. JTFaraday

      Good article:

      “Obama may not be responsible for the government shutdown and the debt ceiling crisis, but he can be charged with furthering a climate of lawlessness that feeds the authoritarian culture supportive of a range of political, economic and cultural interests…

      The new extremists in the Republican Party are simply raising the bar for the authoritarian registers and illegal legalities that have emerged under Bush and Obama in the past decade – including the bailing out of banks guilty of the worst forms of corporate malfeasance, the refusal to prosecute government officials who committed torture, the undermining of civil liberties with the passage of the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the establishment of a presidential kill list and the authorization of widespread surveillance to be used against the American people without full transparency…

      Paraphrasing Eric Cazdyn, all of society is now at the mercy of a corporate, religious, and financial elite just as “all ideals are at the mercy of [a] larger economic logic.””

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