Links 12/13/13

Dear email and RSS readers: I was not quite done as of the usual 7:00 AM launch, so please visit the site after 7:30 AM to see the completed Links.

Bees work together to keep cluster cool PhysOrg (Lambert)

Invasive, Cold-Resistant Asian Cockroach Species Found on NYC’s High Line Inhabitat

Ban on in-flight calling proposed because people talking is annoying ars technica (Chuck L)

Hubble spots water spurting from Europa Nature

The 90/10 rule as applied to medical practitioners Ian Welsh (Carol B)

Escape from Christian Fundamentalism – the Kids Who Flee Abusive, Isolated Christian Homes Alternet (JW)

Intellectuals on a Mission New York Times (furzy mouse)

Gillian Tett Forget the Fed, watch out for a Tokyo ‘taper’ Gillian Tett, Financial Times

N Korea: Leader’s uncle executed BBC

EU watchdog aims to cool Bitcoin fever Financial Times

An “entire generation” faces being locked-out MacroBusiness. UK housing.

Britain’s negotiating hand in Europe has never been as strong before Ambrose Evans-Prithchard, Telegraph

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Snowden Fallout: New Zealand Backpacker Stripped of All Electronics at Auckland Airport IBTimes (ScottS)

How strange is too strange for bedfellows? Pruning Shears

Assange might have spied on the parliament according to a mysterious document News of Iceland

Panel Is Said to Urge Restraints on N.S.A. Surveillance New York Times. Getting in front of a mob and trying to call it a parade.

Polk on Gas Weapons in the ME Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Obamacare Launch

Would All State-Based Exchanges Have Been Just as Problematic? Jon Walker, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Obamacare: Californians signing up at a stunning rate San Jose Mercury. 1/3 off all people enrolled so far are in CA.

Oregon signs up just 44 people for Obamacare despite spending $300 million Washington Examiner (Chuck L)

New Obama Adviser Brings Corporate Ties New York Times. Dog bites man.

Did Congress just pass a bill of attainder punishing a dead man? McClatchy (Chuck L)

Budget Deal Opens up Parts of Gulf of Mexico for Drilling OilPrice

Michigan women will now have to purchase ‘rape insurance’ to get an abortion Raw Story

Drop animal cruelty charge against undercover investigator in Colorado Yes, I know, another petition, but I hope you will sign. This notion of criminalizing people for videoing corporate animal abuse is both a wast of prosecutorial resources and terrible policy.

What It Means: LA Sheriff’s Deputies Rough Up Foreign Diplomat Peter Van Buren, Firedoglake (Chuck L). Yowza.

JPMorgan May Face Criminal Charges for Blowing the Whistle on Madoff – To the Wrong Country Pam Martens

U.S. Government Nastygram Shuts Down One-Man Bitcoin Mint Wired. I said Bitcoin was prosecution futures!

Analysis: SEC plans to take more cases to trial despite losses Reuters

Occupy the SEC shows us all how to occupy Cathy O’Neil

The Ever-Expanding Government Meme Lives On Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser


Inventories pose near-term risks to US growth Walter Kurtz

Payday Regulation and Financial Security Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Is service work today worse than being a household servant? Aljazeera

The American horror show MacroBusiness

Antidote du jour:


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  1. change agent

    anyone know if the budget deal included an extension of the mortgage debt relief act?… if not, and if no other action is taken before recess, then the “deals” with the banks to provide principal reduction in mods fall off the table due to the tax hit such reductions will cause.

  2. AbyNormal

    re: “The Republican-dominated Michigan state legislature pushed through a bill on Wednesday requiring women to purchase separate insurance policies if they want to have an abortion, the Detroit Free Press reported.

    “I don’t think elective abortion should be a part of insurance,” state Rep. Nancy Jenkins (R) told the Free Press. “This doesn’t affect access to abortion. It will still be legal when this law takes effect. Who should be required to pay? Not Michigan taxpayers.”

    …and if we’re not wearing a burka the policy is null n void?

    RACK, n. An argumentative implement formerly much used in persuading devotees of a false faith to embrace the living truth. As a call to the unconverted the rack never had any particular efficacy, and is now held in light popular esteem.

    1. Emma

      Agreed AbyNormal.
      The Republicans are so both insanely and inhumanely wrong on this.
      I’m truly struggling to avoid stooping to their level in thinking that torture inflicted upon them instead, would be a real treat….
      Particularly all the more so if they themselves have to purchase a separate lavishly-priced Torture insurance policy offering a bare modicum of assistance….
      I can only conclude that the reason Republicans ignorantly want to indiscriminately annihilate Muslims, is so THEY can instead personify perfection when it comes to a stunted callous stupidity – albeit with precision, in the treatment of women.

  3. Andrew Watts

    RE: Panel Is Said to Urge Restraints on N.S.A. Surveillance : “Getting in front of a mob and trying to call it a parade.”

    Not quite. A long time ago a friend of mine met Richard Clarke at a blackhat conference. They talked about the future of technology and Orwellian surveillance among other things. Clarke was very sympathetic to the view that technology would soon enable tyrannical governments to keep their subjects under constant surveillance. Considering his expertise and experience regarding American anti-terrorist operations he was the one individual the other people on the panel would be forced to defer to. Given the preliminary outcome of the panel’s findings it looks like he came through with many of the principles he expounded upon. These will likely be elaborated upon in the report once it’s released to the public.

    “Administration officials say the White House has already taken over supervision of that program. “We’re not leaving it to Jim Clapper anymore,” said one official, referring to the director of national intelligence, who appears to have been the highest official to review the programs regularly.”

    By taking ownership of these programs the White House will have effectively relinquished any trace of plausible deniability. It makes the actions of the intelligence agencies legally accountable through the office of the Presidency. Imagine if the Snowden revelations and the subsequent fallout happened during the Bush administration.

    “Another likely recommendation, officials say, is the creation of an organization of legal advocates who, like public defenders, would argue against lawyers for the N.S.A. and other government organizations in front of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court”

    This is non-negotiable. The only question is how this is going to come about.

    “But even if the N.S.A.’s activities are curtailed, it may be hard to convince Americans — or Germans, Mexicans and Brazilians — that the agency’s practices had changed. In part, that may depend on how much public transparency is built into programs that the government has spent years cloaking.”

    The US intelligence community will now constantly worry about how their secret actions will appear to the general public. By itself that’s progress. Overall I’ve gone from being an active pessimist (“Even if it doesn’t work it’s still worth fighting”) to a cautious optimist (“The empire always strikes back”) regarding all this.

    1. Bill the Psychologist

      The scenario you’re describing is so desirable and optimistic, I’m immediately suspicious.

      But I hope all you’re saying is true and comes to pass, otherwise, this will no longer be the Constitutional government it was envisioned to be.

      1. Andrew Watts

        My optimism has it’s limits. I honestly don’t think we’re going to get the ideal outcome. The genie is out of the bottle concerning electronic warfare. Once the state realized it’s potential it would always hold a unresisting allure. It was probably too late to stop it’s evolution in the United States as early as ’98. This point being well before 9/11 and the Patriot Act. However that doesn’t mean we will all be consigned to an Orwellian hellhole.

    2. bob

      ” It makes the actions of the intelligence agencies legally accountable through the office of the Presidency.”

      Just like he’s accountable for extra-judicial killing?

      Wait, I see the spin already- It’s the fault of the office, not the man. “I’m not the office you’re looking for”

      1. Andrew Watts

        A majority of the American people are not outraged about drone strikes and extra-judicial killings. But they are about the government’s domestic surveillance programs.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I think the lack of outrage is from the public, bipartisan nature of the drone strikes. Bush ordered strikes before Obama, but Democrats were too cowardly to attack him.

          When Obama ordered strikes, Democrats line up like good little sheep and ignore prior criticism.

          The NSA is a different animal. One its happening to Americans, and two, the spying scandal stayed in the background. It never received the press or the exposition under W. that it does today in the MSM (yes, the coverage is amazing largely thanks to wikileaks and Snowden types). The GOP voters hate Obama, and in their minds, I don’t think the NSA is as linked to W. as it is to Obama, partially because Obama didn’t just inherit the program but has expanded it significantly. As for Democrats, every Obama stumble or revelation from here on out will only weaken the President because support is based on trust and faith, and much of the support for drones from the “left” is based on blind faith in Obama.

          I could see drone revelations being ignored because then it would mean those same Blue Team partisans have to acknowledge their blind faith in Obama which would underscore the technocrat myth about themselves.

      2. bummerman

        Now hold on a minute there. There were a few conditions on me taking the office. Mr. Cheney had his man sized safe moved into the oval office before we got here. We attempted to negotiate with the safe, but had to settle for the position of allowing the safe the office.

        The safe is the hardest negotiator I’ve ever faced. Won’t move an inch.

    3. Lambert Strether

      ” It makes the actions of the intelligence agencies legally accountable through the office of the Presidency. ”

      Assuming the deliberations of the Executive on this matter, and its decisions, are not secret. Is there any reason to believe they will not be?

      1. Andrew Watts

        You gotta admit that both the intelligence community and federal government is experiencing it’s widest credibility gap since the Warren Commission. To combat this widespread sentiment the Administration has already declassified a handful of the FISC rulings dealing with the mass surveillance programs. There is probably more in the pipeline in the future. While Pravda openly frets about how the government can inspire the trust and confidence among the American people.

        All of this leads me to suspect that there’s an almost certain possibility these decisions will be revealed. One way or another. Either through sanctioned administration publicity releases, ordinary declassification events, FOIA requests, through the adversarial opposition the intelligence community will face in the FISC court, general news media leaks, and/or whistle blowers in the future. Perhaps it’s more likely it’ll be some combination of all of the above. I can’t say for sure.

        I have no doubt that we will eventually find out about these decisions. I’m worried about the possibility the forthcoming reforms will lull the American people into a sense of complacency. If Snowden proved anything it was that the truth will always see the light of day. If history has the final say on the matter it unequivocally states that the authoritarians will never give up on their quest for more power.

        So neither can we.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          On the Krugman thread from today, Synopticist makes a point about Americans not buying the overwhelming narrative coming from TPB in the last year and a half. Its near the bottom of the page, so its worth a couple of clicks.

          Even Krugman’s regular commenters are pushing back and accusing Krugman of not understand the problem with TPP. This is a big deal. I don’t think minor reforms will be tolerated for very long especially when I think a good portion of the country wouldn’t mind seeing the NSA shut down. Democrats have to think hard about this because the minority and young people didn’t show up in 2010, and neoliberal policies are more closely linked to the Democrats than ever before.

          I think patience for reforms is running out. Even the Ryan/Murphy deal isn’t being touted as a success. My suspicion is Democrats desperately hope it will be passed and be forgotten, so they can go back to blaming Republicans for all that is wrong with government ignoring their own complicity.-

  4. AbyNormal

    “The large [unemployment] increase can largely be attributed to strong seasonal factors influencing the data, however, and we recommend fully discounting the latest week’s data as it obscures the ‘true’ trend in claims, which we see in the 315K-335K range. The impact of sizeable seasonal adjustment factors will continue to obscure the underlying trend in claims over the coming weeks, making it quite unlikely that we see a “clean” claims print until late-January.” (slow death stamp)

    pesky revisions/“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”~Faulkner

  5. Andrew Watts

    Suggested link: NSA Split on Amnesty for Snowden

    A couple of interesting tidbits in the story. Snowden allegedly absconded with over a million documents according to the US government’s own internal investigation. This allegation seems to confirm that Snowden only handed over a tiny portion of what he had to Greenwald. The British counter-intelligence operation against David Miranda reportedly only recovered 58,000 or so documents,

    As for the overall issue of amnesty this conversation should have taken place back in late June. Up until that point the Russians would’ve only managed a preliminary debriefing. They wouldn’t know for sure exactly how much he was worth or how much information he actually had in his possession. Snowden could’ve delayed and bought himself enough time that eventually Putin would’ve been put in the public position of either holding him against his will or just simply letting him go. Whatever scenario unfolded the terms of his return to the United States could have been negotiated. Perhaps it was during the private chat Putin and Obama had. Unfortunately for Snowden and the American intelligence community his release won’t happen until after the Russians have squeezed him dry. If it ever does. It doesn’t seem likely now at all. Hence the public proclamation about how worried the US government is over the doomsday cache is well justified.

    The comment by General Alexander was the most interesting bit of the whole article. Originally I assumed that one of the things Snowden compromised to the Russians was American SIGINT successes against Russia. This suspicion combined with the unfolding events in Syria is what inspired the William Weisband comparison in my original comment. Alexander’s statement implies so much more than that though. Remember when the American government reportedly received information that Snowden was hitching a ride on President Morale’s plane? Where or better yet from whom did they receive that intel?

    If I was Snowden I wouldn’t hesitate to compromise anybody that might aid in my capture/assassination by American/British intelligence. Especially after they grounded Morale’s plane. This was probably the most important reason why amnesty should have been offered right away. Instead some brilliant individuals decided to publicly brand him a traitor, and later on others joked about how they were going to put him on the White House’s kill list.

    God, these people are f—king morons.

    My original series of replies regarding Snowden:

    1. diptherio

      There are lots of abusive homes, and many of them are NOT fundamentalist Christian. There are also plenty of Fundamentalist Christians who are not abusive to their children. I worry that stories like this only serve to feed Christian/Atheist antagonism and do nothing to created any kind of understanding between people with different belief systems.

      Case in point: my best friend grew up in a household that sounds very similar to the one in the story. He was isolated, emotionally and physically abused, shamed, beat-up, etc. And his dad is an Atheist who thinks all Xians are retards. Some people are just f—ed up and should not be allowed to raise children; some of them are Christians and some aren’t. Christianity is not the problem (which I fear is an underlying message of the piece, intentionally or not), crazy people are (no offense craazy).

      1. Bill the Psychologist

        The notion that everyone needs to “understand” everyone else’s belief system to get along, is a straw man IMHO.

        Most Americans I think have no problem with others’ religions, AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT SEEK TO FORCE EVERYONE ELSE TO ABIDE BY THEIR PRACTICES.

        And who seeks to force everyone else to abide by their beliefs ? Fundamentalists of all religions, and I’d suggest, (without any data) that most Christian homeschoolers are Fundamentalists who want everyone to follow their laws.

        The article supports this assumption.

        I personally don’t think homeschooling is best for kids, but as a non-parent, who cares what I think.

        1. diptherio

          I didn’t mean understand other people’s belief systems, I meant understand that we are all people with belief systems. Stories and headlines like this one from Alternet, I fear, only serve to feed the “Christians are crazy” meme, which is supremely unhelpful. If I had to guess, I would bet the headline, at least, was written by a Fundamentalist Atheist, a la Hitchens, Maher, Dawkins, etc.

          Yes, Fundamentalist Atheism. It exists and it is just as toxic as any other variety. In fact, it may be worse, for the same reason Obama may be worse than Bush: it seems progressive even though it is actually reactionary and quite conservative. The belief that anyone who does not take science and logic to be the only acceptable sources of knowledge is, at the very least, deluded, if not totally insane, is perhaps more damaging than the Fundamentalist Christian belief, as it appeals to the pretense of scientific legitimacy.

          Never mind that scientific consensus in constantly in flux and is, often as not, not even a consensus. Never mind that scientists themselves have indicated non-scientific inspirations for their discoveries. Never mind that the map is not the territory and that our scientific map of the universe says at least as much about our sensory apparatus as it does about reality. Science!

          I agree that fundamentalism is generally a bad thing, unless it’s SubGenius FUNdaMENTALism…then it’s cool.

          1. Emma

            You are such a delight Diptherio!
            Where is the place of worship located, for SubGenius FUNdaMENTALists, and when do they hold services?!

          2. Benjamin

            It’s not about any specific scientific views at any given time, it’s about the process itself and the constant advance towards true knowledge of how the world actually works.

            “Never mind that scientific consensus in constantly in flux and is, often as not, not even a consensus.”

            Yes, that’s why the process works. Constant experimentation, debate and peer-review. If you want certainty, go to church. Which is what many people do. Whether that certainty and truth has any relation to reality is a separate issue.

            1. diptherio

              I have no beef with science, or the scientific method, but I do take exception with those who insist that science is the only valid methodology for gaining knowledge. “Summon horses to a place other than where grass is to be found; and they will question it–no matter what it is.”

              Churches which offer certainty are, in my opinion, failing in their duty. A good spiritual guide should provide doubt, not certainty; should lead the student to think, not shut down their mind. This is why good spiritual guides are generally unpopular with “seekers.” Charlatans, on the other hand, never lack for disciples (or the wealth they bring).

        2. diptherio

          Re home-schoolers: I’ve known awesome home-schoolers (UU, not Xian) and really crappy ones (New Age Hippie Anti-Authoritarian [dumbass]). As with religion: home-schools don’t hurt people, [dumbass]people hurt people.

      2. Klassy!

        Even without the descriptor “shocking” in the title, I knew that article was from Alternet. What is it with them? Their obsession with Christian fundamentalism is a bit out of proportion to the actual power they wield. More time worrying about those that worship god market, please.

    2. Garrett Pace

      That article is a bait and switch – it’s not about fundamentalists as much as it is about collective distrust of people who won’t socialize their children in public schools.

    3. Garrett Pace

      “As Christians withdrew their children from public school, often without requesting permission…”

      Good heavens. It takes a fascinating series of assumptions to make such a statement reflexive and sensible.

  6. 12312399

    This link is preaching to the choir, but with the TPP/Krugman post….

    “Icon Earth,” a 1995 BBC documentary on globalization (in four parts, totalling 50min)…

    Made by British filmmaker David Malone, it’s interesting to see the technocrats and activitsts make predictions and see who was right with 18 years of hindsight.

    Its themes are just as applicable today as then.

  7. markf

    by PNA and Elena Aben
    December 10, 2013 (updated)
    Manila, Philippines – The United Nations is investigating reports that aid has yet to reach remote parts of the Philippines a month after the onslaught of super-typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan), the UN humanitarian chief said on Monday.

    Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said she had expected that aid had been delivered by helicopter to survivors even in the most remote outlying islands following the Nov. 8 disaster”

  8. ohmyheck

    Well my goodness! I came upon this article, while reading about water on Europa, “Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram”

    Red alert, craazyman! You gotta read the comments!
    An actual/simulated Human Being wrote this: ” Particle theory patches its fundamental errors with parity violations, chiral anomalies, symmetry breakings, and SUSY/MSSM (re proton decay, Super Kamiokande calling their bluff). Quantum gravitations cannot derive general relativity. They suffer Chern-Simons repair of Einstein-Hilbert action . Dark matter curve-fits the Tully-Fisher relation for spiral galaxies (gravitation) with fairy dust (particle theory). A particle with no interaction but gravitation does not interact gravitationally, arXiv:1306.5534 Physical theory assumes perfect vacuum symmetries toward massless boson photons are exactly true for fermionic matter (quarks). Bosons and fermions are not exactly interchangeable. M-theory has 10^500 acceptable vacua, none of them being ours. Ansatz another toy universe, fellas. Show that your patches and curve fittings uniformly point to a defective founding postulate as cartography shows Euclid is incomplete.”

    And in some universe, quite possibly this one, THAT makes sense. Faaaaaack.

    1. craazyboy

      Well, personally speaking, I find it comforting to know that the universe is a hologram. I always get anxious and nervous whenever I start thinking it may be real.

      Not sure how craazyman feels about it.

      P.S. You would think any decent hologram would show us ice cubes on Europa??!
      P.S.S. I wonder when astronomers will figure out there really aren’t billions of galaxies out there and it’s all done with mirrors?
      P.S.S. I also came to the realization that Martians aren’t small and green – they look exactly like us!
      P.S.S.S. I also fixed physics. F=A. Makes the math much simpler. Sorry Einstein, if economists can make there lives easy that way, so can physicists.

    2. craazyman

      Holy Cow, I just kid around but these people seem serious! :)

      They all need to get a life.

      I’d recommend Youtube and Adele, or even Led Zepplin.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Am I a human hologram now dreaming I am a butterfly hologram or am I a butterfly hologram dreaming I am a human hologram dreaming I am a butterfly hologram?

  9. no more banksters

    Greece: money and support only for the banks

    The Greek banks have been bailed out with billions exceeding 90% of country’s GDP since 2008. When citizens suffer from heavy taxes, unemployment strikes the Greek society, Greek economy faces deep recession and Greeks sink in poverty, it appears that Greek governments do have money, but only for the banks. Billions were given in bailouts, but no one knows where the money went and how they were exploited. The only thing that is certain is that they didn’t go where they should go: to the real economy.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Money, but only for the banks, is not confined to Greece. This is the case here, but for a few buck into HAMP, much of that wasted, in the US. The money is meant to pay of other banks, ostensibly to keep them and the financial system solvent, but in reality because really rich people, mostly via hedge funds invest HEAVILY in these banks that are being paid off. Thus German banks invested massively in Greek any Cypriot banks are made whole because, well, Germany does everything right, and can’t be tarnished by the fact that they went hook, line, and sinker in high yield toxic crap just like everyone else did.

      So yeah, it’s money just for the banks, because that’s how the winners insure they’ll always be winners. Simply legislate it into the free market (wink! wink!).

      1. no more banksters

        This is a simplified picture far from reality. Speaking about Germans, yes the do everything right:

        “Despite the swap scandal of “fixing” the Greek deficit by Goldman Sachs, for which the Greek government paid the bank at least 300 million euros, (, Goldman Sachs is included in the Primary Dealers list, in order to continue providing “valuable services – advice” to the Greek government. Another two banks, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, are included in the Primary Dealers list, despite that according to the US Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) report, together with Goldman Sachs, are those responsible for the “creation” of 30% of the destructive financial “tools” known as CDOs during 2004-2007, which contributed significantly to the creation of the housing bubble in US. Two more banks which had significant presence in CDOs that time are Deutsche Bank and UBS, which also continue to be two of the twenty two Primary Dealers.”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      With all due respect, stuff it.

      We put up a first version of the site with different colors and readers overwhelmingly asked for the orange back. And we had 4 more posts asking for redesign comments and no one complained about orange. So you don’t have any right to vote now. You were either not interested enough to comment when it mattered or aren’t a regular reader.

    2. Bill the Psychologist

      As I’ve mentioned before here, using NoSquint with FF you can change links’ colors to anything you desire, either on all sites or on individual sites. Try it, you’ll like it.

      1. AbyNormal

        …more like where are these crazies comin from lately. (gm carrots on sale?)

        “I feel a little dizzy,” said Orion. “But also wonderfully elated. I feel that I am on the verge of finding a rhyme for the word orange.”

        “Oxygen deprivation,” said Foaly. “Or maybe it’s just him.”
        Colfer, The Atlantis Complex ‘)

  10. scraping_by

    RE: Rape Insurance

    Interestingly, this harks back to a discussion about not seeing things as part of the class war. The current campaign to make abortion impossible because it can’t be made illegal fits right in there.

    Framing it as a feminist/women’s issue avoids the fact these sneaky restrictions restrict only poor and middle class women. Well-to-do and wealthy women can still get medically safe abortions any time they want, just as they always have. Depending on a local clinic or in this case, depending on health insurance rather than personal resources, is a hurdle aimed directly at those without connections or spare assets.

    There’s no profound defense of the elite in this kind of hassle. They’re just making life miserable for people who don’t find it easy to fight back. It’s like the drug war; creating criminals out of normal people, breaking laws as a snob badge. Life on top.

    1. Benedict@Large

      Good point on the class war aspect of abortion. Of course, it’s always been part of the class war. That’s one thing that’s made it so difficult. If a middle class family really wants and abortion, perhaps even for a daughter, they can find a way to get one. It may be difficult and expensive, but it is possible. Not so for the working and low classes. They who can afford the future baby’s care the least are most forced to bear the burden, and now with states that no longer even care to help out.

  11. Red uniform for Star Cadet Alexander

    NSA oversight, ha, good luck parading at the head of that mob. That mob includes the international community, that is, the whole frickin world, both governments and citizens, and the demands of that mob would take our existing secret police apparat, splinter it into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds, to coin a phrase.

    Worse yet for the US Stasi, the USG has largely conceded to the world’s non-negotiable demands for minimal decency in clandestine conduct. If the US population were to learn the rules the world agreed to, it would be much trickier for US government criminals to crap on those rules every day here at home.

  12. Lambert Strether

    “Ban on in-flight calling proposed because people talking is annoying”

    No, “Ban on in-flight calling proposed exists because people yammering on cellphones is annoying.” That’s why we have quiet cars, a blessed oasis of sanity from people talking loudly into the air about their gall bladder surgeries, intimate marriage woes, troubles at work, and business secrets. Using cell phones in confined public spaces like narrow aluminum tubes 60,000 feet in the air carries a social stigma, and rightfully so. “Hi! I’m on the plane!”

    And that goes for your beeping video game too — that’s the “compromise” the FCC is proposing.

    1. diptherio

      What about your @$$hole two-year-old? As an intentionally childless person, I don’t see why I should have to put up with other people’s bad life-choices…

      1. Lambert Strether

        I have heard child-free zones on airplanes proposed; I’d gladly pay a small premium.

        That said, I pay school taxes, which has a far greater impact on that a screaming two-year-old on an 18-hour long haul… But the one is a social duty, and the other is parental micro-aggression (ha. That should generate a little controversy).

        1. diptherio

          And how about the parents have to pay a premium? That would make more sense to me. You could charge parents a fee every time their little twirp does something annoying, and then at the end of the flight you give that money to the people who had to sit next to the little nightmare.

          I knew there’d be a market solution in there somewhere, if I just looked hard enough.

          And for the record, I do have a two year old nephew…but he’s perfect…

          1. MikeNY


            I took the red-eye last week from SFO to EWR and was appalled to see a gaggle of children in the waiting area when I arrived at the gate. On the red-eye! One of them wailed non-stop, even on the inhale, until we were over Kansas City.

            There oughta be a law…

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You know, kids can be, um, terrifying… sometimes.

              So, you wonder…how did they pass the pat down to smuggle aboard their powerful, wailing lungs?

      2. optimader

        Root cause = usually asshole parent on cruise control
        I will give a kid the benefit of the doubt when they cant clear a Estuation tube, BUT I have been known to a couple times when in close proximity to annoying child start wailing myself LOUD and brief… I give the child (and the adult perimeter great pause). Try it some time (works with my sisters dog as well.)

        BTW.. you need eye contact w/ the target..

      3. mookie

        children: a “bad life-choice”. hmm. I do believe you’ve hit upon the, err, final solution for all of our problems, diptherio.

        Seriously though, when I see people fuming in pursed-lipped indignation at the presence of children (CHILDREN! WHO AREN’T COMPLETELY SILENT!), I smile and roll my eyes. Every bit of time spent around annoying people, whatever their age, is best approached as a chance to enlarge your compassion, exercise your mindfulness, or just get over yourself a little bit.

        I mean, you could always take up the hermit’s life if people bug you that much.

        1. diptherio

          I jest, I jest. Although I do wonder about people who choose to take really young kids on planes. It seems as bad for the kids as for everyone else, what with ear-drum pressure and extreme boredom and all…

          Really, I just get a kick out of being controversial…let’s be honest, there are plenty of annoying-as-sh*t adults out there, but it’s more fun to subvert expectations by going after the kids (and fwiw, I come from a family where “little sh*ts” was a term of endearment).

          And yeah, I do try to look at frustrating people/situations as opportunities to practice my non-attachment…but I’m definitely still practicing.

          1. mookie

            I’m the same way. I have plenty of “what kind of little monster are they raising!?” moments. Sorry if I came off as too self righteous, you just successfully pushed one of my buttons. :)

  13. ScottS

    Show us a better way than collecting metadata, NSA director says to critics IT World

    Choice quotes:

    “If we can come up with a better way, we ought to put it on the table and argue our way through it,” Alexander said. “There is no other way that we know of to connect the dots.”

    I suppose if your only tool is a hammer…

    Alexander challenged tech companies to offer suggestions for new ways to conduct surveillance.

    How am I supposed to feed my children without stealing? It’s up to the grocery store to solve this dilemma for me.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Why would the U.S. scuttle the Iranian nuclear talks by unexpectedly piling on provocative new sanctions during the final moments of negotiations about reducing sanctions?

    Tehran (AFP) – Iran has quit nuclear talks with world powers, accusing Washington on Friday of going against the spirit of a landmark agreement reached last month by expanding its sanctions blacklist.

    The blacklisting of a dozen additional foreign firms and individuals for evading US sanctions was widely seen as a way to head off moves in Congress to impose additional sanctions that would be in clear breach of the Geneva agreement.

    Administration officials insisted the timing was entirely coincidental.


    The inside story of this U.S. sabotage hasn’t been reported yet. But ask yourself who’s been yelling the loudest, and twisting Congressional arms the hardest? Yep, looks like the usual, monomaniacal, single-issue suspects!

  15. diptherio

    Jessica Gordon Nembhard has a new book coming out this spring that may be of interest to readers here. The book is entitled Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. It is being published by Penn State University Press and is now available for pre-order:

    “The word ‘path-breaking’ should not be used casually, but this is, in fact, a path-breaking book. There is nothing like it. Jessica Gordon Nembhard’s study of Black cooperatives opens a door on a critical aspect of Black history in general and cooperative history in particular—a door very hard to open, given the challenges and difficulties with records and sources. What she has found behind the door is subjected to inspiring yet tough-minded analysis. The long trajectory of development Gordon Nembhard describes and the direction she illuminates offer profoundly important guidance as we enter an era of increasingly difficult economic and political challenges.” —Gar Alperovitz

    You’ll probably just want to order it now, so you don’t forget later…right after you’re done dropping a few bucks in Yves’ tip jar, of course.
    [Full disclosure: I know Jessica…and she’s awesome]

  16. fresno dan

    1.Given that any satellite can pick up this information, is there any rational reason to have “secret bases”?
    2.Is any base really a secret?
    3.Would US security be hampered if 25% of the bases were shut down? 50%? 80%?

    The answers are 1-no, 2-no, 3-no, no, no.

    Are these bases to protect Americans….or to protect American (cough, cough, coughs lung out – banks) interests?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Their bankers aren’t running SIFIs (systemically important financial institutions). So they are disposable.

  17. craazyman

    I don’t know about those two lions in the Tip Jar photo. They look psychotic. They look like they just ate somebody’s hand and the blood’s still wet and red on their tounges. Even though you know, intellectually, it’s only a picture, it might make you scared to reach out, just ’cause the visualization of what might happen is so potent that it’s traumatizing. What if they chased you down in a dream and ate your hand? And then you woke up wondering whether you should even look down at your arm. That stuff can happen.

  18. JohnB

    String theory in physics has some analogues to neoclassical/mainstream theory in economics (except at least the former is at least ‘Not Even Wrong‘, whereas neoclassical economics is positively batshít), and there is much debate as to whether string theory is still science anymore, now that it is not likely to become testable/falsifiable anytime in the foreseeable future (could be centuries away from testing as far as anyone knows).

    This makes physics a (surprisingly) interesting place to look, to see a similar problem to that which the economic community faces (albeit economics has it far far worse).

    The author Peter Woit wrote a book on this a fair few years ago (with the appropriate title ‘Not Even Wrong‘), which I credit with arming me with the skepticism required, to not take any science/social-science/economics at face-value, and I’ve been following his blog since, which is a valuable resource for keeping a critical eye on what’s wrong with physics (much like here and other blogs are, on economics :)).

    Anyway – he does some critical posting on certain physics/mathematic prizes, and how that affects the course of scientific research (corrupting the community away from diversified/useful research, in favour of what is ‘popular’), and there is a good post here:

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