Links 11/4/13

German police recover 1,500 modernist masterpieces ‘looted by Nazis’ Guardian

Urologists Who Own Radiation Equipment Use it More … and Probably Unnecessarily Patient Safety Blog

GPs’ disbelief at £250m shingles jab to save 200 lives Telegraph. MDs are pushing this here, I have a buddy my age who got this shot.

A Real-Time Map of Births and Deaths Atlantic (Carol B)

New GMO Crops Temporarily Blocked in Mexico Triple Crisis

Indonesia Volcano Erupts Again, Forces Evacuations Associated Press

Radiation from Japan nuclear plant arrives on Alaska coast CBC News (Lambert)

Noam Chomsky Criticises Canada’s Energy Ambitions OilPrice

Mondragón and the System Problem TruthOut

What’s wrong with Europe? VoxEU

Worry about the euro, not the European Union Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times

The Changing Geography of Beggar-thy-Neighbor Paul Krugman

£1trn timebombs RBS must defuse Herald Scotland (Richard Smith)

Morsi trial starts in tense Egypt BBC

Word to the west: many Saudi women oppose lifting the driving ban Guardian. I dimly recall reading somewhere that a big concern in the early 20th century US was that the increase in automobile ownership would increase infidelity.

Syria’s Assault on Doctors New York Review of Books. Given how accurate coverage of Syria over here has been, I’m skeptical. The hospitals in Iraq were a complete mess after the invasion, between destruction and looting and lack of power. And the professional classes were fleeing because they had enough money and skills to do so. Oh, and no media coverage of that here, from what I could tell at the time. So a comparison v. how messed up Iraq’s hospitals were v. Syria’s now would provide a useful reality check.

Medics aided US torture, report says BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Clemency for Snowden? U.S. Officials Say No New York Times. Duh.

Gun rights groups go after NSA The Hill (furzy mouse). A little late now.

Google’s Schmidt Lambasts NSA Over Spying Wall Street Journal

Obamacare Rollout

You Also Can’t Keep Your Doctor Wall Street Journal

Under Health Act, Millions Eligible for Free Policies New York Times. And how many of these “free” policies have huge deductibles?

Review: ‘Double Down,’ on the 2012 election, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann Washington Post

Frustrated with Congressional Inaction, Immigrant Communities Resist Deportations Real News Network

US public investment at lowest since 1947 Financial Times

Taper returns! MacroBusiness

The Fed is locked in a QE prison of its own making Telegraph

Speculators Foresee No Catastrophe Overcoming Bias

William Gross, Californian billionaire, apologizes for wealth he accumulated ‘at workers’ expense’ Daily Mail (Lambert). So is he going to give it away and live a life of poverty?

How Much Capital Is Enough? masaccio, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


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  1. Skeptic

    William Gross of Pimco apologizes for wealth.

    Apologies are so delicious, very tasty with a side of remorse and a tinge of regret. So very, very 1%. So sorry your life was destroyed or you, boohoo, even died.

    At some time in the US future if there ever is any revolt, there will by the usual Truth and Reconciliation Commission where a few of the criminals confess their sins, weep and walk away with the loot. These take various forms but are always good for clearing the deck for another round of looting and exploitation.

    1. craazyman

      He can send $1 million to me. I don’t want to have to work. I promise I’ll waste it utterly and then then ask him for more. Just like Wall Street. bwaaak.

      c/o The Dew Drop Inn Bar and Grill
      PO Box 5

      1. craazyboy

        Why is it that only Septuagenarian and Octogenarian billionaires come out and advocate higher income tax on the rich?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Answer: Wealth tax.

          Old guys (as in ‘I have made it’) fear wealth tax.

          Thus, they embrace progressive income tax…to legitimize the loot…sorry, I take it back… to protect their wealth.

    2. tyler

      Vis­it­ing Pres­i­dent Tru­man just before Tru­man left office in 1953, Churchill said, “Mr. Pres­i­dent, I hope you have your answer ready for that hour when you and I stand before St. Peter and he says, ‘I under­stand you two are respon­si­ble for putting off those atomic bombs.’”

  2. katiebird

    It seems so naive now but, my deepest hope was that the PPACA would open access to the great research hospitals to everyone. That it seems to be restricting access even more is heartbreaking. I had heard rumors of this. But I hoped it was because the networks were not completely finalized yet. The story “And you can’t keep your doctor” implies that the decisions have been made.

  3. Kevin Smith

    Speaking as a dermatologist, I can tell you the shot [Zostavax®] to prevent shingles — “herpes zoster” — [and more importantly, to prevent the severe persistent pain syndrome that sometimes follows shingles — “post-erhetic neuralgia” or “PHN”] is a very good use of resources. Not many die of zoster, but a lot of lives are severely disrupted for many months or years by PHN.

    My wife and I got our Zostavax shots, and I recommend it to my family, friends and patients. I have no finanical interest.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      Amen to that. I had shingles in ’07 in my throat — very rare I’m told — and am still taking meds for what the ENT calls a neurogenic cough, which is better now but still chronic. Also, much of the complexity of my taste sensation has been lost, apparently for good, and I choke more easily so have to be careful swallowing food.

      Translate these costs to millions of Baby Boomers,and the vaccine could be cost effective. I wish I had had it.

    2. Jesse

      I could not agree more. I made a point of getting the shingles vaccination.

      It is a painful affliction in many who contract it, requiring treatment to alleviate pain and other side effects.

      I saw what it did to older friends and relatives, and I would not wish to risk it.

    3. McMike

      As real as the suffering surely is for its victims, you folks are all missing the point.

      The point is that that there is a massive public expenditure to possibly prevent the suffering of a subset of a subset of a subset of the population – utlimately numbering in the fractions of a single percent.

      And that sort of public spending raisies a variety of moral, economic, and legal questions that should be debated.

      It is remarkable to me to see how people who are fully awakened to the corruption and perversity of our banking and food and energy and health care systems (along with every other system), and how utterly feckless and captured are our alleged regulators, will yield enthusiastically and without question to the vaccination paradigm and its unholy cabal of monopoly pharma providers, captive FDA, and out of control public health bureaucracy.

      1. Bart Fargo

        So the fact that about 1/3 of people will develop shingles in their lifetime is not enough justification for you to support VZV vaccination? The 0.9% incidence quoted by the article for the 65 and over population is in fact properly expressed as incidence per person-year, not incidence per person. Needless to say (or maybe not, since the Telegraph is confused on this point as well), if you plan on living for more than one year past 65 your risk of developing shingles at some point in your golden years compounds. I agree that the price pharma charges for the vaccine is inflated, but let’s not throw the baby out with the avaricious bathwater.

  4. Jim Haygood

    While the WaPo review of Double Down linked above leads with Chris Christie, CBS quotes the incumbent:

    A new book covering the 2012 presidential campaign uncovers a series of scathing remarks from political figures, but one alleged comment has stirred controversy around President Barack Obama and his administration’s use of targeted drone strikes.

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s book Double Down: Game Change 2012 notes President Obama commenting on drone strikes, reportedly telling his aides that he’s “really good at killing people.

    And so the ‘obamacare missiles’ keep raining down on Pakistan, as the world’s most prolific executive murderer desperately seeks to distract attention from his utter fecklessness and sociopathy.

    If Obama boiled and ate a baby over an open fire on the South Lawn, would be it enough to get him impeached by America’s rotten-borough, rubber-stamp parliament?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps it was due to the reflex of not wanting to give the other guys a victory, but who knows, maybe history might have, with Clinton impeached, turned out differently with regulating derivatives?

  5. Butch In Waukegan

    I saw this comic (Go Comics) this morning and it reminded me how the United States conspired* (Wikileaks via The Nation) to keep Haitian wages low.

    Teaching the Haitians democracy is a long-term project

    * A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public. — Mark Twain 

    1. Massinissa

      Considering that there are literally no light skinned people on Haiti, sort of ridiculous that the bad guy in the comic is so light skinned.

      Whats really sad though is all the comments about increased unemployment/inflation.

      1. Butch In Waukegan

        Clean white hands? From The Nation article:

        In keeping with the industry’s usual practice, the brand name US companies kept their own hands clean, letting their contractors do the work of making Haiti safe for the sweatshops from which they derive their profits—with help from US officials.

      2. Hugh

        Haiti has very definite color and class lines. For generations, it has been divided between a predatory ruling class composed of lighter skinned Creoles and a lower class made up of darker skinned blacks.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They are very good at pitting people against each other who are better off uniting.

          It’s like the minimum wage issue, instead of a wholistic change like GDP sharing.

  6. JohnL

    Time to run this one up the flagpole again. Knowing what we know now about the NSA, is it even remotely possible that they did not know Petraeus was having an affair? Or Strauss-Kahn? The question is, who got the intel, who acted on it, and on whose orders?

  7. Jerome Armstrong

    There’s been more lies to count from Obama from the get-go, but I have a feeling this is the one that’s going to go down at the front of his legacy:

    “I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage — they like their plan and, most importantly, they value their relationship with their doctor. They trust you. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. (Applause.) If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. (Applause.) No one will take it away, no matter what.”

    Obama in speech to the AMA, Chicago, June 15, 2009

      1. McMike

        …ingrate insurance companies….

        Obama lets them write their own legislation, spares them death by single payer, and delivers them a bazillion new captive customers, and what do they do for a thank you?

        Poke a stick in his eye.

        1. different clue

          His eye? No, our eye. I feel confident that the Obama Group wrote the ACA law in such a way as to make those insurance cancellations oh so exquisitely legal. And worked with rule-writers to write rules designed to trigger many millions of individual plan cancellations. Followed by many millions of group employee plan cancellations.

          It would be good to post video of Obama lying about “keep your doctor, keep your plan” then, and very recent video of Obama lying about “we never said that” now. I am confident that MSM news-sites where such video exists will be erasing it all as fast as possible. It will only be preserved by internet crusaders and hobbyists.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Of course, that one will be remembered. That particular instance of that lie, in fact. He was lying to rich people that time, and we have long memories for the rich.

  8. from Mexico

    @ “New GMO Crops Temporarily Blocked in Mexico”

    The film shows the making of tortillas from scratch and all by hand. One cannot imagine how delicious these tortillas are, but unfortunately the only way to taste them is to travel to the rural areas of Mexico. Eating the machine-made tortillas in comparison to these is like eating cardboard.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘…for whom humans are disposable.’

    It’s only possible because there are always new humans coming into the world.

    But thanks to robots and machines (courtesy of science and technology), that’s not so critical anymore.

    Know this, there will always be seniors, but you won’t always have newborns.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    US public investment lowest since 1947.

    What did they do before 1947 – investing tanks and destroyers for public protection?

    In any case, this sets up a ‘binge eating’ shock doctrine sitution whereby we binge on public investment only to ‘throw them up’ later for the 0.01% to benefit via privatization.

    That’s a disorder.

    ~~~~~ We must imagine our way through layers and layers of propaganda and brainwashing to reach reality.

    There is no defensive ‘no, no, no, I am not imagining things.’

    It’s ‘yes, yes, yes, I am imagining now to reality!’

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    RBS…$1 trillion time bomb

    It will be like Vietnam and Cambodia.

    50 years after the War of Financiers, they will still be reports of derivative-mines everywhere that it’s not safe to go anywhere near anything ‘financial.’

  12. pero no

    William Gross, Californian billionaire, apologizes for wealth he accumulated ‘at workers’ expense’ Daily Mail (Lambert). So is he going to give it away and live a life of poverty?

    You have to understand that most people of wealth think that they got their wealth by lifting themselves up by their bootstraps without help from anyone else. In this context, a candid admission that others may have helped him is seen as laudable in some circle.

    In fact though, William Gross got his money not from workers but from bailouts.

    ” In September 2008, by holding large positions in agency backed mortgage bonds of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Gross’s funds netted U.S. $1.7 billion after the Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac[11] for which he had lobbied.”

    1. Doug Terpstra

      “…to paraphrase Ann Richards… Being born into wealth is the same as being born on 3rd base and thinking you’ve hit a triple.” (Weinerdog 43 on Gaius’ post)

  13. Propertius

    I dimly recall reading somewhere that a big concern in the early 20th century US was that the increase in automobile ownership would increase infidelity.

    And, being a student of human nature, I’m sure it did ;-).

    1. Garrett Pace

      It didn’t start with automobiles! Here’s a commentary from 1827 about the dangers of railroads.

      “Why, you will not be able to keep an apprentice-boy at his work: every Saturday evening he must take a trip to Ohio, to spend the Sabbath with his sweetheart. Grave plodding citizens will be flying about like comets. All local attachments must be at an end. It will encourage flightiness of intellect. Veracious people will turn into the most immeasurable liars; all their conceptions will be exaggerated by their magnificent notions of distance.”

      Read the rest:

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And the Luddites were right.

        Now, we have no time for the roses in our own gardens.

        We have to fly off to some distance places where some magazine rates them as must seen before we move on to the next world.

        ‘There is a wonderful world waiting to be discovered in your own backyard!’ – quote from a children’s book (I think).

  14. Jmd

    Couldn’t read “What’s Wrong with Europe?” after this intro…someone’s looking at the U.S. through rose-colored glasses:

    What’s wrong with Europe?

    Isabella Rota Baldini, Paolo Manasse, 4 November 2013

    Unlike the US, Europe is struggling to recover from the crisis. This is especially the case in certain European countries. This column discusses why the process of convergence in the Eurozone has slowed down. It proposes a way for European institutions to cope with the structural problems – with individual country-level reforms and a federal budget. Otherwise, the alternative could be a disintegration of the Eurozone.

      1. Walter Map

        “Godzilla vs. Goldman Squid”.

        You have to root for Godzilla, as by far the less destructive of the two.

  15. diptherio

    Saturday was Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead): RIP Fagor Co-op.

    Gar Alperovitz (and Mondragon) On the Fagor Bankruptcy

    The authors rightly point out that Mondragon has never set itself to influencing the National economic policies of Spain and has tried to compete on the merits of its products and services. Fagor Electronics’s larger competitors, however, routinely influence (or are owned by) “their governments” and wield enormous influence with the State and NGO Trade community. That influence routinely provides regulatory and taxation advantages with which it is hard for an “outsider” to compete.

    It is an issue of scale. If your enterprise seeks to capture market share that is perceived to impinge on the “divine right” of one or more of the corporate global elite, your business faces these headwinds that give the elite an advantage. It is also an issue of reach. The desire to compete in broader markets drives brand-building and distribution costs and complexity up. Such infrastructure and experience is readily in place for the elites who manage broad portfolios of brands and complex distribution systems with enormous global brand loyalties. The marginal costs for a global elite are modest, for an entrant, daunting.

    1. susan the other

      Mondragon sounds like grassroots success to me. Fagor suffered the crash of housing in Spain (itself the result of trade imbalances) and went under. It would have been put down by global marketing anyway. But if global trade treaties cannot make buying local a crime and co-op companies like Mondragon become common it will be a more equitable world. Co-op companies that operate locally will have a better base for planning, like the one mentioned as a possibility – a co-op owned transportation company. Good article.

      1. diptherio

        Mondragon has definitely been a success, but the Fagor bankruptcy has exposed some weakness, I think, that need addressing. For instance, I’ve heard that laid-off Fagor workers won’t be eligible for unemployment insurance, since they are not, technically, employees of the firm. Mondragon’s internal support mechanisms may be able to make up for that, but many smaller co-ops don’t have Mondragon’s resources to draw on. This is an issue that we really need to think about and try to address.

        There is also the question of co-ops (even Mondragon) being disadvantaged by government policies that corporations are influencing (if not writing), partly due to their failure to appear on the battlefield (so to speak). Mondragon doesn’t do much in the way of lobbying, is what I hear from my sources, and neither does any other co-op. If co-ops want to compete with traditional businesses, they may well have to compete in the governance arena as well as the economic one.

  16. Walter Map

    “Speculators Foresee No Catastrophe”

    Silly speculators. Catastrophe is inevitable. The monster is still there. It has merely been contained.

    “The Fed is locked in a QE prison of its own making”

    The Fed is locked in a prison with a monster. The monster has only been contained with QE, and QE feeds the monster. The monster continues to grow. In due course the monster will become too large for the Fed to contain. Tapering only reduces its rate of growth. By now the Fed’s balance sheet is a horror story too terrible for mere mortals to behold.

    The only way to kill the monster was to nationalize the big banks and wind down the derivatives markets. Officials were paid off to preserve the monster. Now it is too late.

    History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man.
    Go go Godzilla!

  17. EmilianoZ

    Unfortunately, it looks like Cezanne’s “Street in Pontoise, winter” (from the Josse Bernheim-Jeune collection) has still not been recovered.

  18. 2laneIA

    Best link photo ever, and that’s saying something. I wish I knew the story that must go with it.

  19. Knifecatcher

    My wife had shingles just over two years ago. At age 35. It opened up sores all across one side of her face, along with excruciating nerve pain that she described as being “like a constant toothache, in every tooth, for two solid weeks.”

    Oh, and she was 8 months pregnant at the time. And supposedly it’s worse for the elderly.

    There could be something to be said for vaccinations to prevent that kind of suffering, regardless of the quantitative benefits.

    1. curlydan

      I got shingles recently in my early 40s. Fortunately, the pain wasn’t too bad, but when I asked my doctor later to give me the vaccine, he declined citing cost and the fact he thought I was protected for awhile. Just give me the damn vaccine if I want it! You can get it more than once.

      1. Optimader

        New standards in fiduciary responsibility

        Between 2000 and 2012, Chicago spent $9.8 billion in general obligation bond proceeds with few restrictions and virtually no oversight. In a first-ever accounting, the Tribune found that nearly half of the money went to paper over Chicago’s growing budget problems. The city spent millions in bond funds on short-lived equipment such as Palm Pilot software, spare vehicle parts and items you might find on a weekend shopping list: trash bins, flowers, even bags for dog waste. …
        …In 2012, more than 60 percent of the city’s debt payments went to cover interest, up from 26 percent in 1995. Last year’s payments on the city’s general obligation debt represented 12 percent of all government expenditures and ate up 63 percent of property taxes collected.

        1. skippy

          Instead of trumpets in the sky… I expect to hear a big gurgling like sound… like when one hits bottom of a slurpee.

  20. Elliot

    re: Clemency for Snowden?

    He never asked for clemency; this is a made up thing and a paired response to it; pure disinfo. Don’t have the links now but @ggreenwald debunked it on twitter Saturday.

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