Links 12/19/13

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Cell Phone Crashing YouTube. This looks amusing, but does not seem to produce the hoped-for changes in behavior.

Apple misled customers about their consumer rights, watchdog finds Guardian

Slouching Toward Confrontation in the South China Sea Counterpunch (Carol B)

Cashed-up China’s massive debt problem China Spectator

Bitcoin plummets after China block Guardian

Riot Police Remove Their Helmets in Solidarity With Italian Protesters YouTube (Dr. Duh). From earlier in the month, but when the police refuse to act against crowds, the officialdom is in deep doo doo.

Greek parliament votes to cut state funding to Golden Dawn unbalanced evolution (no more banksters)

After a Long Delay, Lebanon Finally Says Yes to Ikea Housing for Syrian Refugees Time (Deontos)

Rebels take key South Sudan town BBC

First Guantanamo commander calls for prison to be closed CNN

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Greenwald Reveals ‘Crux’ of NSA Spying: The ‘Elimination of Individual Privacy Worldwide’ Common Dreams (Deontos)

Obama review panel: strip NSA of power to collect telephone data records Guardian

EFF Statement on President’s Review Group’s NSA Report Electronic Frontier Foundation

Obama’s NSA fine-print problem Politico

Webcams can record secretly Washington Post. We told you about this a long time ago!


The Beginning of the End for Quantitative Easing Tim Duy

ROSENBERG: The Murky Earnings Landscape Is A Bigger Issue Than The Fed Taper Business Insider

Tapering would raise borrowing… Forward guidance needs some psychological bite Angry Bear

Originators react to taper news Mortgage Professionals America. Cue tearing of hair and rending of garments.

Gold Drops Below $1,200 an Ounce for First Time Since June Bloomberg. I’m not a fan of gold, but the Fed being eager to exit QE (and actually saying unemployment is getting better when the “improvement” is due to more workers being so discouraged that they are not counted in the labor pool) is not the same as the economy improving. But the Fed did make really clear it thinks interest rates are staying low for a very long time.

Hypocritical insurers accuse hospitals of conflict of interest Daily Kos

Military Pension Cuts Stay In Ryan-Murray Bill DSWright, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Acting Attorney General Announces Lawsuit Against Credit Suisse Arising From Sale of Over $10 Billion in Troubled Mortgage Backed Securities State of New Jersey (Deontos)

Cincinnati Stadiums Bury County Government in Debt Bloomberg (Carol B)

Traders Seek Edge With High-Tech Snooping Wall Street Journal. Cushing is a peculiar case since it’s often been used to manipulate WTI. So I’d infer the payoff is in finding key chokepoints and watching them intensely.

How Secret Currency Traders’ Club Devised Biggest Market’s Rates Bloomberg

Why companies are raising their dividends Felix Salmon

Debt Collectors Are More Likely To Go After Black People Huffington Post. Carol B: “Well, who’d have thought.”

The Government Is Quietly Giving Way More Housing Aid To Rich People Than Poor People Business Insider

Moral Aspects of Basic Income Pieria

The Undeserving Golem XIV

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Marcum

    RE: Italian riot police removing helmets on YouTube. I got a weird creepy and preachy AIG ad at the beginning. Anyone else get it?

    1. scraping_by

      Great article. The commentary, not so much.

      If you want to see the end of democracy without blood in the streets, read C. Lasch’s The Revolt of the Elite and the Betrayal of Democracy. It’s been done with smoke and mirrors rather than bullets and bombs, but the result has been the same.

      And as to the normalization of violence, don’t look at the big budget Hollywood or other high art level. Try reality TV of COPS, Jail, Lock-up, etc. Wider audience, repeated more often.

      Get those proles used to being thrown on the ground, cuffed, kneeled on, etc. The police on those shows react to anything other than groveling obedience with violence. The fact it’s usually panic or agony just makes it easier to elicit, which makes it defendable if no one’s looking too closely. Which may be common, don’t know. Not to mention military level gunfire if they’re of a mind. There’s been a violent war against the working class, but it’s been under the guise of a war on drugs.

      Also, a lot of The Left doesn’t want to give up their moral high ground on wedge issues introduced by the elite’s propaganda machine. True, it’s nice to feel sanctified from sneering at the right people, who are wrong, and not very much like us anyway, what with their manual jobs and religion and guns. But it’s not very useful to chase some minor government employee or entertainer out of a job because they said something that hurts someone’s feelings. It’s not useful and it alienates the allies Lefties need and would naturally get if they weren’t such snobs.

      That’s also why the ‘We’re too lame to live!’ doesn’t wash, either. By keeping up various pretexts, the unreality fog has covered a violent suppression of the American citizen.

      Casino capitalism and random violence. Democracy works best with certainty, which is why creative destruction is the choice of the elite.

  2. AbyNormal

    ‘The future of money’? Try the dump.
    “Buried somewhere under 4 feet of mud and rubbish, in the Docksway landfill site near Newport, Wales, in a space about the size of a football pitch is a computer hard drive worth more than L4 million.
    Howells considered retrieving the hard drive himself, but was told that “even for the police to find something, they need a team of 15 guys, two diggers, and all the personal protection equipment. So for me to fund that, it’s not possible without the guarantee of money at the end.” As such, he’s resigned to never getting the virtual money back.
    “There’s a pot of gold there for someone. … I’m even thinking of registering It’s available,” he said. He has also set up a Bitcoin wallet for donations aimed at recovering the hard drive.”

    “A Fool follows his own wisdom and makes his own mistakes but a Wise man learns from the mistakes of fools.”
    Luelle Davis

  3. Jim Haygood

    ‘Bernanke and his colleagues managed the process [of tapering asset purchases by $10 billion a month] deftly in comparison to Bernanke’s ill-fated press conference in June as stock markets surged to new highs while Treasury yields edged down.’ — Tim Duy

    It’s all good because stocks went up! OMG, what an airhead.

    Obviously, pumping $75 billion a month of counterfeited currency into an economy in its fifth year of expansion is deeply pathological. ‘Unconventional’ is a euphemism for ‘desperate’ and ‘reckless.’

    At 25, Shiller’s ten-year PE for large-cap stocks is already verging on bubble territory. Should stocks continue climbing in 2014 on the flood of fake money, we’ll soon have ‘party like it’s 1999’ irrational exuberance on our hands again.

    The bone-crushing crisis which follows is not only inevitable, it’s caused by the irresponsible check-kiting of the PhD morons at the Federal Reserve which preceded it. So don’t let the Flying Yellendas act all surprised and hurt and concerned after they predictably fall off the high wire and make a bloody mess. They are engineering the economy’s next pratfall as we speak. Morans …

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Stock markets to new highs

      That would be great when employees are given shares in their companies.

      But these are not dead 0.01%, so, when you say you will force them to let employees own their companies, they will just everyone go and hire them back as private contractors.

      At the end, a vampire squid or a fracker will issue their ethical private money, and their (former) employees will work as contractors.

    2. skippy

      Counterfeited currency needs quantifying Jim, otherwise its just a throw away term to embellish some form of defunct cognitive bias.

    1. scraping_by

      Many Americans are disappointed in Blonde Poodlestan’s actions on this one. Snobbish Poodlestan was always a sellout, But we expected more from a nation of social democracy and free love. Guess that 60’s dream wasn’t too realistic after all.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Nice antidote.

    Instead of criticizing humans nonstop, I would like to suggest an antidote of humans licking squirrels or other wild animals, similar to today’s.

    That ought to dispel the notion that humans are not as ‘good’ as the rest of nature (though I believe the target of the entire complaint so far has been the modern assumption that humans are ‘better’ than,or above, the rest of nature – that is to say, if the counter argument is that humans are just like other animals, then, that is exactly the point – it affirms the idea of a Life Continuum).

    1. AbyNormal

      my my swirls thru this:
      * No matter how dark the dusk would become,
      Peace shall be found even on a restless night
      There is always a bright morning that‘ll come.
      *The agitated sea, with all its crushing waves
      On a troubled weather will surely calm down
      And albatrosses will fly over the water pacified
      *But the wrath of men is worst and stubborn
      Even bloodshed can’t appease, hunger for power
      It lashes not only the living but even the unborn
      *Great minds, noble intentions, greed in the end
      Ancient men were barbaric but never were beasts
      Evolution made its way, monsters arose, modern men
      *Nature’s turbulence can be so sudden but brief
      Humans create chaos that last for centuries
      Humans not nature can cause lasting grief / R.S. Mallari

      the anthym in my heart:

      “There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human- in not having to be just happy or just sad- in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.”
      C. JoyBell C.

    2. ambrit

      Hmmm. Having grown up in South Florida, I’d suggest an antidote of humans licking toads? “Hey! This is psychedelic with Tequila salt!”

  5. Eeyores enigma

    I am one of the biggest proponents of Basic income/negative income tax but the link to Pieria is using the worst possible rationalization to get there.

    His comment, “…what we don’t have is a consumption glut..” is so wrong it hurts. It is exactly over consumption and the waste stream that it creates that is destroying the entire biosphere.

    The underlying message emphasizes getting back to growth when it is exactly that which has brought us to this convergence of constraints that threatens all humanity.

    Basic income should be presented as the solution to over consumption. Basic income should be used to allow people to do less so as not to compound the damage done.

    I suspect they are technocopian and believe in the “Magic” of technology and that it will solve all of our issues if only the economy can ramp back up to support it. This has been proven false time and again and promoting it is detrimental to the paradigm shift that humanity needs to make to survive.

    1. DanB

      You are correct in my view. Natural ecological and thermodynamic forces are asserting their agency over human society. IOW: growth’s over and pursuing it is now dangerous in a number of ways. However, there are large segments of people who are dispossessed -under-consuming, if you like- due to neoliberalism, or, fundamentally, class and other forms of domination trying to insure the shrinking pie is even more unequally distributed.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Debt Jubilee is just to reset the clock so the race (for those at the bottom) can be started all over again…unless we are talking about the other debt jubilee that is just a scheme to remove money so corporations can issue their own private money, after making all employees private contractors.

      2. bob

        Christianity without Christ so close to x-mas?
        More “natural law” BS with piety as food and “science” as the cafeteria.

        “Natural ecological and thermodynamic forces are asserting their agency over human society”

        If it looks like a fire-breathing Calvinist…Nature, Ecology and Thermodynamics have “agency”?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      GDP sharing will give us

      1. the same basic income, for all, not just the bottom serfs, which means that basic income, for all, is a higher nubmer, than if we just do basic income for those at the bottom.

      2. the possibility that the GDP can be smaller and yet, the 99.99% can be better off than we can get with a bigger GDP, but concentrated to the rich.

      1. Klassy!

        A lot of work is pointless at best, destructive at worst. Here’s something from the Bezos daily. The conceit of the headline itself is gag worthy. But I read through it and found no concerns involved did anything particularly innovative or useful.
        We have a distribution problem pure and simple. That is the problem with capitalism, not underconsumption.

    3. jrs

      Yes basic income is the solution to having to depend on jobs that destroy the world just to keep people from starving.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I hear more and more people say it’s to have a smaller GDP, but more equitable distribution, the 99.99% can in fact be better off,

          without MMT
          without more money printing
          without infrastructure projects
          without stimulating the economy

          All these, with a smaller GDP.

    4. MikeNY

      Word, on over-consumption.

      In addition, anytime anyone tells you that our economy is suffering from “insufficient demand”, what they’re actually saying is, “git yer goddam hands OFF my billionaires!!”

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The Fed thinks the rates are staying low for a very long time

    Until those 80 year olds deplete their savings, as they keep spending their principals to stave off starvation, instead of interests. That will force them to borrow again, against something…

    1. optimader

      “That will force them to borrow again, against something”

      Unintended consequences as playing out in Japan
      Last week NHK News had a in depth piece on the Japanese seniors approach. In particular, widowed women w/o sufficient pensions. Their approach is to get convicted of a crime and be sent to prison.
      The video of the prison ward for senior woman looked like a higher quality hospital environment. Makes the typical nursing home here in the States look like gulag. This is not a new development in response to economic distress there, and it is on the rise to the point of becoming a policy issue.

  7. F. Beard

    re: The Undeserving Golem XIV

    Speaking of which, what makes the so-called “creditworthy” deserving of the stolen purchasing power of the poor they often despise? The ability to return that stolen purchasing power plus interest to the original thieves, the banks? Because they provide jobs to the people they stole from? But now what when automation financed by that same stolen purchasing power has eliminated many of those jobs? And when outsourcing has provided cheaper labor but not shared the profits with the workers it has displaced?

    But continue to scoff at the need for ethics in money creation?

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The only ethical thing to do is GDP sharing, with congress regulating the money supply and the government as a household.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Riot police removing their helmets.

    The first thing the rich should do is to always make sure they have a well-paid, well-pensioned, well-taken-off police…not that it guarantees anything, but that’s the first thing they should try anyway.

    That’s the last thing you should touch in a municipal bankruptcy.

    1. Synopticist

      The situation in Italy is being almost completely blanked by the MSM here in the UK.
      I haven’t seen anything about it.

  10. kevinearick


    If you want upward mobility, you must accept downward mobility. If you want a lower limit, you must accept an upper limit. Traversing the limits requires relativity, and is limited by relativity.

    If your house is on the 7th floor and going down to the first floor means that you must wait in line again, and may never get back to the 7th floor, you will be quite reluctant to leave the 7th floor. The assumption creates the behavior, which is emulated to become law, locking up the system.

    My wife wants to work, which means that we will both be working 24 hrs/wk, and we have to run a business to show our children how an economy actually functions. I can change diapers better than nearly every other female on the planet, but only my wife can breastfeed our children, and formula is a self destructive alternative. There are just certain limitations associated with each event horizon.

    If I own my home, which is a home, not a house to be flipped, real estate price inflation, taxation, is corruptive. If I have a unit out back and rent it to a new family at the inflated rental valuation, I will short my own economy, because there is no way a new family can prosper at a wage/rent ratio of 2. Likewise, if I sell my beef, which is needed locally, to Japan instead, for a higher price, pretty soon I’ll be going to the food bank with everyone else, as the escalating real estate and transportation costs get baked into overall prices.

    You can change direction any time you want, but not by extrapolating the future from the past. Gravity exists to the extent you accept its assumptions. Government always assumes it can redirect the water at a profit, measured as tax revenue from extortion. You are beginning with the highest prices and lowest quality in history. Don’t make the problem harder than it is.

    “…he will have the weight of government on his shoulder…”

    The kernel balances bias. Whether the opposite of order is disorder or random depends upon perspective, generation. Pi appears to be a constant, but it’s not. That’s memory. You are an antenna. Build your own instrument. The empire is just a reductive amplifier; ignoring risk with fear is its problem solution, blaming individuals for systemic error.

    I employ metaphors because my code creates implicit variables. Once I release it, even I do not know how it works. It’s mobile, a creature of its own existence.

    The professors just never could wrap their collective minds around the implications, so, naturally, they try to kill that which they do not comprehend, growing it, and shrinking themselves in relative terms, mapping finer detail in an increasingly irrelevant box, looking for an exit.

    From the perspective of Kissinger & Kids, the immigrants to be exploited are children, globally, with a policy of enforced urbanization, in which parents compete to exploit each other’s children. That should work out well.

    Look at the data. See what others do not.

    1. AbyNormal

      Thanks Kevin…taking this with me, “You can change direction any time you want, but not by extrapolating the future from the past. Gravity exists to the extent you accept its assumptions. Government always assumes it can redirect the water at a profit, measured as tax revenue from extortion. You are beginning with the highest prices and lowest quality in history. Don’t make the problem harder than it is.”

      from todays link ‘The Undeserving’…” We are arguing from first principles here. Neither group earned their lot in life. They inherited it. One group enjoys the fruits of their inherited but unearned and therefore ‘undeserved’ wealth and power, the other ‘enjoys’ unearned and undeserved poverty.

      If the notion that there could be undeserving rich bothers you then why does the idea of undeserving poor not bother you?”

  11. jfleni

    RE: “Slouching Toward Confrontation in the South China Sea”

    Just a few weeks after common sense told Barry and his advisors to avoid a very serious naval confrontation in the Med, the nutty neocons in Dogpatch DC are pushing for one in the Pacific, right outside Hainan Island naval base, which is to the Chinese like our Norfolk or San Diego.

    No responsible commander would so obviously trail his coat right in front of large foreign naval forces, except under orders: Orders ultimately coming from the neocon warrior wannabes, who will certainly never bleed for their foolishness!

    It might be nice if the Chinamen responded by sailing half-way around the world to do the same to us (Just imagine the neocons soiling themselves if that happened!), but they proabably have far better and more adult things to do than putting a few hot thumbs in crazy neocon bums, fortunately for all of us.

    1. optimader

      I’ve been casually following the amusing story on this money-pit scow for years It’s nothing more than a rebranded redundant Frmr Soviet ship that was sold for scrap /w very limited capability on it’s best day .
      They should just leave the poor Chinese alone and let them quietly go down the wrong path throwing resources at this kind of torpedo magnet junk if they so choose. There hands are full just keeping it floating, Training them to develop coordinated fleet tactics is counterproductive at best.

      Who knows, maybe someday if they work very hard at it (and squander resources that could far more productively be used to compete with us in a more meaningful way) they will be prepared to confront the WWII Imperial Japanese’s fleet should it ever refloat out of it’s watery grave?

      It’s junk, they know it , we know it and they know we know it, so what the point wasting any resources harassing them other than some infantile political red meat for the mouth-breather class?

  12. Propertius

    Ever since I got a shiny, new laptop with a webcam, I’ve kept the lens taped over with electrical tape. I can’t do anything about the microphone (unfortunately).

    1. Antifa

      Sure you can.

      Do not trust the usual methods offered, which are:
      * turn the recording volume to ‘0’
      * turn the mic off in the BIOS
      * tape over the mic
      * disconnect the Ethernet cable when confidential discussions take place
      (the mic can still record locally and forward the recording when you reconnect Ethernet)

      Nope, you need to physically disable the mic, which is easy:
      * dribble super glue or thinned nail polish into the mic
      * drill a tiny hole or two in the mic
      * disconnect it’s wires from the motherboard

      Test the mic yourself afterward. If it won’t record for you now, it won’t record for them, either.

      All the same options apply to the camera. A small hole drilled in the lens is by far the easiest way to render it useless. This also applies to the newest generation of televisions, which come with a mic and camera quite amenable to corporate and other hacking initiatives. Get the drill, some super glue or nail polish and do what you gotta do. Or, open up the case and disconnect the wires. Any McGyver fan can do it.

      Your laptop (and/or TV) is less valuable for resale this way, but while you own your devices you are the only person in the room once more. You don’t have an audience, which is becoming something rare and valuable these days.

      1. bob

        If you are that paranoid, open the computer and physically disconnect the mic. It’s usually just a small plug on the motherboard.

        But that pre-supposes you don’t have any other mics active. Cell phone any where near you?

        Also, to get really paraniod, speakers ARE mics, just a slightly different design optimization. Better get rid of them too.

  13. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to the article from China Spectator on China’s internal debt problem.

    China not only has a shadow banking system, they have a shadow currency(ies) issue – Bankers Acceptance Notes – which could be problematic:

    What happens when a system like that is unsustainable, and what will be the secondary fallout?… both inside one of the world’s largest economies and globally in a world of derivatives, leverage, and complex interrelationships? It’s hard for me to imagine a positive outcome or even one which is immaterial in its economic, political and social implications.

    … when a butterfly flapped its wings in the Sahara indeed.

    1. Paul Niemi

      The proliferation of banknotes is but one of the parallels between the U.S., in the years leading up to the crash of 1929, and China today. Elsewhere I have read that bank assets in China have increased by as much as $15 trillion in just the past five years. I don’t know if that is true, but it bears reflection upon the consequences of a new financial collapse, which could have its start in China. I could never understand how the late Great Recession, which had a heavy toll on all the other advanced countries, seemingly did not affect China at all. But inversely, if the economy in China implodes, will it not be felt among investors around the globe as well?

  14. tomk

    It was good to the Business Insider article pointing out the regressive nature of the Mortgage Interest Deduction. Eliminating it should be a progressive issue but because too many of us benefit somewhat it’s considered untouchable, and is only brought up by the budget hawks.

    1. JTFaraday

      Altucher’s whole schtick seems to be based on the idea that you can be a total f*ckup in life (like he is) and still move on and get whatever you decide you want next, (if you’re white).

      There is probably some value in promoting this attitude in a context where people are continually and deliberately made to feel like f*ckups in an attempt to blame people for the things that are actively being done to them.

      Although Altucher admits he really is a f*ckup and shows you he’s getting away with it, (because he’s white).

  15. Foy

    From Cash Up China’s Massive Debt Problem.

    “Not only is Beijing sitting on the largest pile of foreign reserves in the world, which is more than enough to reduce the country’s debt to zero. Its tax income per year is about 10 trillion yuan every year and increasing fast. Like Japan, China’s debt is largely domestically financed, so it is not subject to the whims of foreign debt vigilantes, who can dump debts at the first sight of weakness.”

    Ummm can’t use those foreign reserves to settle domestic debt I’m afraid. They are called ‘foreign’ for a reason. Those foreign reserves are a direct result of China’s trade surplus. And without a change to its surplus trade policies it must keep accumulating foreign reserves, it can’t ‘sell’ them to convert them to Yuan to pay off local debt without turning its trade surplus into a trade deficit at the same time. Good luck with that….

  16. Patrick Donnelly

    Lots of outraged prophets here!
    How terribly radical!
    History repeats and rhymes. But like trees, does it not require an audience? The whole point of this, the worst yet, is to again demand reform. But is there an audience?

    We have seen nothing yet. Aceh and Fukushima are not acts of war, if they are merely “natural” ….. no need to be concerned about what happens next, eh? Conspiracy? Clearly you are too stressed and can no longer play a part in the human “RACE”?

    We are close to getting more reality than we can deal with. Any snappy economic theories for that? Anyone? The decision to destroy banking meant that the necessary steps were sold to some as an opportunity to enrich themselves. So they killed. Brian McCabe and Grace Livingstone. Resquient in Pace! Two known casualties in a war on ignorance and greed. Aceh: 250,000, many without names as their audience died with them. Whole communities, gene pools, gone. Because the mighty US war machine does not know about clathrates… well they know now, ask the survivors from the USSN San Francisco? The Gulf of Mexico: another experiment in deep sea detonation? I shall be most pleased if it never happens…..

    9/11 was an attempt to justify two wars. It “worked”, but yet another “Pearl Harbor”? Most unlikely to convince even red necks that more should volunteer…. Please bear in mind that the French Revolution was just a rehearsal. All this pious bleating!!! I can just imagine what will happen when the blood letting really starts. Wedge? I nearly split in two!

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