Links 1/15/14

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Young ‘Pranksters’ Skewed Landmark Sexuality Study Science (Chuck L). So let’s get this straight…the researchers had a poorly designed questionnaire, but it’s the respondents’ fault that the study results were wrong, and in a big way.

Close pairing of moon and Jupiter on January 14 EarthSky

Target hackers have more data than they can sell IT World

Cyberware Surprise Attacks Get a Mathematical Treatment Science Insider (Nikki)

Fish with very high levels of cesium found near Fukushima Asahi Shimbun

Pollution isn’t the only thing killing tourism in Beijing Quartz

History shows way out of Thai conflict Asia Times (furzy mouse)

Do the French really work harder than the British? BBC

Francois Hollande vows ‘supply-side’ assault on French state, doubles down on EMU austerity agenda Ambrose Evans-Prichard, Telegraph

George Osborne lays down ultimatum: reform EU or Britain quits Guardian

European Spies Reach Out to Syria Wall Street Journal

‘Half of Syrians’ in urgent need BBC

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway to Pry Open Computers New York Times. Reported previously on tech blogs but more detail.

What Secrets Your Phone Is Sharing About You Wall Street Journal. Again not news per se except how many people make use of smart phone data.

Law enforcement increasingly using drones Washington Post

NSA to Congress: F@ck Off George Washington

Obamacare Launch

Ads Against Health Law Backers Stagger Outspent Democrats New York Times

Obamacare Website Fixer Has Thing for Tax Havens Bloomberg

Rebuffing F.C.C. in ‘Net Neutrality’ Case, Court Allows Streaming Deals New York Times

Appeals court strikes down FCC’s Net neutrality rules CNET (Chuck L). Lambert adds: “Plastic union-busting airplanes that catch on fire…kiss the internet goodbye…is there any great United States invention our elites won’t piss away for a quick buck? Wait don’t answer that.”

US Public: We Don’t Want AIPAC’s ‘Path to War’ Common Dreams (furzy mouse)

Offshore Fracking (And Dumping Chemicals Into Coastal Waters) Beyond The Public Eye Testosterone Pit (Chuck L)

The Trouble with Christie: The Governor’s Nixon Problem New Yorker (furzy mouse)

New York Times Reporter James Risen, Fighting Obama Administration’s Attack on the Press, Turns to Supreme Court Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake (Chuck L)

Florida mom kills her two teens, self in murder-suicide month after divorce: cops Daily News. Notice emphasis is on her ex’s failure to pay alimony or child support (Florida attorneys checked the records, she appeared to be pro se and there was no court order), as opposed to the imminent eviction on the house she’d inherited from her mother.

In 15 states, deeply underwater foreclosures still reign Washington Post

As Refinancing Wanes, Banks Remain Wary of New Loans New York Times

Credit standards going easy on jumbo mortgages Housing Wire

DVA, CVA and FVAaaaaaaargh! Tracy Alloway, FT Alphaville. “Much accounting intrigue in JPMorgan’s recently-released fourth-quarter results.”

Five Housing Headwinds; Mortgage Originations Lowest Since 2010; Refinancible Loan Percentage Collapses; Payment Shock Michael Shedlock

As Refinancing Wanes, Banks Remain Wary of New Loans Walter Kurtz

Credit strategists are… bearullish, we guess FT Alphaville (Scott)

Augusto Graziani’s legacy retains its currency Steven Keen

1914 Revisited? Joseph Nye, Project Syndicate

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse). A Siamese fighting fish:


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    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Yes, it is beautiful. Reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings of flowers. I really appreciate the daily antidotes. Thank you.

  1. Yonatan

    “George Osborne lays down ultimatum: reform EU or Britain quits”

    Reality? Rest of Europe wants referendum on Britain (given that satire these days is a closer match to reality than that reported in the MSM)

    If Britain leaves the EU, it will have a high cost for business – all the VAT stuff would need to be sorted. Britain would need to retain the income currently obtained from VAT so it would have to create another British tax. Any increases in that tax could not then be blamed on the pesky EU. All those people traveling to Europe for their holidays would lose all their duty free exemptions and the right to travel freely in Europe. So the Britons would have to stand in line with all the other ‘undesirables’ trying to get into Europe. Europe would need an alternative to London for its main exchange, so maybe Frankfurt? Etc, etc.

    In summary, Hoist meet Petard.

    1. paul

      Don’t worry, its just showboating. EU governments like the EU to sort out ‘reforms’ they can’t sell directly to their electorates. That’s just too delicious to give up.
      Uk is not part of schengen area so we don’t have free movement
      Duty free goods are cheaper for countries outside EU

    2. Synopticist

      I fuc8in hate george osbourne, but at the end of the day, now the EU has become yet another neo-liberal racket, I’d rather take my chances with British politicians than Brussels megolomaniacs.
      At least I speak the language, and there’s a chance to vote them out occasionally.

  2. Jim Haygood

    LatAm countries produce some strong contrasts in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom. Chile ranks No. 7 in the world, five places ahead of the U.S.

    Colombia, at No. 34, beats EC member Belgium. Likewise, both Uruguay at No. 34 and Peru at No. 47 outrank Spain, another EC member.

    But LatAm also features some of the world’s worst economic repression: Venezuela comes in at No. 175, just displacing Zimbabwe, Cuba and North Korea. Argentina at No. 166 manages to pip Chad in central Africa — well done, Mrs Kirchner!

    Too bad the USA doesn’t even make the global Top 10 anymore. Permanent war economies tend not to be very free.

    1. JohnL

      Index of economic freedom. Brought to you by the Heritage Foundation and the WSJ. Whose economic freedom are they indexing exactly?

    2. Robert Sadin

      J. Haygood has it right….check out the criteria. First requirement for “economic freedom” —no unions. Next—no corporate taxes. Then—no laws ensuring even minimum job safety and modicum of environmental concern. Of course—no restrictions on monopoly. If you take a look at the state by state breakdown of the same index it becomes painfully clear. This is a billionaire’s view of freedom.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Talk to people on the street in Caracas or Buenos Aires. Without government-approved access to foreign exchange, they can’t import anything, study abroad, or travel abroad.

        Elderly Brits remember the decade of severe foreign exchange restrictions after WW II. Limited to a few shillings a day while abroad, Brits became expert raconteurs in order to cadge dinner from appreciative strangers in Paris.

        Writing off the hardships and poverty that economic repression imposes on working people is elitist. Could you spare a jar of Grey Poupon?

  3. financial matters

    As Refinancing Wanes, Banks Remain Wary of New Loans New York Times

    “Still, some mortgage experts are skeptical that the current policy makers can engineer a sensible middle path when they try to expand the availability of credit.

    The danger of overshooting, and repeating the subprime excesses, is high, they say. One big temptation will be to lend to borrowers who only make small down payments, they argue.

    “If we go back to a world where we do low- or no-down-payment lending for subprime-quality borrowers, we will back in a mess,” Mark A. Calabria, a director at the Cato Institute, said. “There is a way to do this right, and the question is whether we’ll do it right.”


    It seems that ZIRP can be maintained by paying interest on excess reserves. This actually sets a small floor below which the fed funds rate can’t fall but lets the banks maintain interbank liquidity because holding all that cash becomes similar to holding Treasuries. This is fine for Wall Street liquidity. For Main Street liquidity I think there are better ideas..

    1. Klassy

      Looks like MY confuses the jobs guarantee with workfare. Could be deliberate or could be stupidity. Hard to decide.

        1. F. Beard

          I think you have the order reversed. Income is last?! Do tell.

          And I’ll note again that with adequate resources such as land and an adequate guaranteed income, people can find their own meaningful work to do.

          But here’s a test: How many of the idle rich applied for the program? Exactly none?

          1. diptherio

            Try watching the video before commenting. If you do Pavlina Tchernova will tell you all about it. Yes, money is the LAST reason people liked the program. It turns out, people care about lots of things (sense of belonging and usefullness, for instance) more than money…go figure, huh?

            1. F. Beard

              Really? Does she answer how many of the idle rich applied? That really is the test, isn’t it? If people with adequate resources to do the work they choose – what, when, where and for how long – chose to apply?

              I said last night that larceny lurks in the hearts of many but I see tyranny does too.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Lottery winners have extremely high suicide rates. And the idle rich often have substance abuse problems.

                1. F. Beard

                  The question is not whether some idle people abuse substances (as if that’s any of our business, per se) but whether people with adequate resources to do the work they choose – what, when, how, and how much – will instead chose to work for someone else. Some will; I’m sure some rich people have joined the Army, for example; but many will not.

                  So let’s concentrate on returning what was stolen instead of leaving the victims no option but idleness or working for someone else.

        2. F. Beard

          [There will be no whinging in comments about moderation in general, whether at NC or elsewhere. –lambert]

        3. F. Beard

          1). I can do something.

          I also note that even prisoners prefer working to remaining locked in their cells. But is that a commendation of working or more a condemnation of being cooped-up, for example, in an apartment with no land to work?

          I’m beginning to think Progressives are just the soft-glove over an iron-fist. As for Pavlina, the Soviets were CONSTANTLY trumpeting the nobility of work but then what slave driver doesn’t?

      1. diptherio

        Well, it’s been clear for quite some time that MY is, in fact, quite stupid. I rarely read anything by him any more, as the pain of seeing such an unqualified, undereducated, self-impressed prick given such a large megaphone with which to proclaim his asinine musings it just too much for me to bear. He reminds me of some of the children of the wealthy I went to college with. Despite never having worked in the real world, despite having had everything handed to them on a silver platter, whether they had earned it or not, these people (of whom MY seems a prototypical example) nonetheless believe that they know something about the lives of the poor, know what they need to do to improve their lives. They (and he) are a cross between Monty Python’s upper-class twit, and a bolshevik technocrat.

        1. Klassy

          Yes. Stupid. And everything else you wrote.
          The scene that comes to mind for me is in the moving picture (I’m trying to revive that term) War of the Roses where Michael Douglas is sitting across from Kathleen Turner at the dining room table. She gazes at him with contempt while he, oblivious to all, has a look of supreme self satisfaction on his face.

      2. JTFaraday

        MY is not wrong. He was blogging at the American Prospect at the same time Ezra Klein had a reasonably well intended policy blog there, and where health care reform was one of the big topics.

        They’ve both seen what came out of the sausage grinder on health care. The “‘JG buffer stock’ is workfare” is the meat while it’s still on this side of the grinder.

  4. Gareth

    I was shocked, really I was, to hear a radio ad yesterday from a local bank, urging customers to tap into their home equity to remodel their homes, buy a new car, pay for college tuition or take that vacation to Italy they have always dreamed about. Here we go again.

      1. F. Beard


        How about instead we remove all government privileges for the so-called “private” banks and credit unions and see if many choose to have accounts with them? Huh?

        Progressives and banks are like a wife with an abusive husband. Pathetic. Make that an independently wealthy wife with an abusive husband since banks need US, not vice versa.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “If you cross the river, a great empire will be destroyed.”

    Which empire?

    Smart phone.

    Smart for what? Smart of phone, the phone company and the NSA? Dumb for the owner?

    More and more, I feel dumb for owning a smart phone, helping to make a few billionaires in the process.

  6. Paul Niemi

    So law enforcement is making increasing use of drones. Of course law enforcement would do that. And what else is in the pipeline? I looked at the PoliceOne site, and sure enough “Real-life Robocops” are being developed, it says, in addition to the many useful robots already available. Next, I presume, we will have self-driving police cruisers, as self-driving cars are now being demonstrated. I just don’t think this new suite of law enforcement tools will be complete without personal jetpacks for the police to use.

  7. Garrett Pace


    Oh good heavens:

    “We should have known something was amiss,” Savin-Williams said. “One clue was that most of the kids who first claimed to have artificial limbs miraculously regrew arms and legs when researchers came back to interview them.”

    I don’t know of anyone more gullible than an empiricist who finds their biases validated…

    1. scraping_by

      Sex surveys have a long and respected history of gullibility. Nay, complete and utter lack of common sense.

      The most famous one is Kinsey’s report that close to 60% of Iowa farmers reported sex with chickens. It he’d never heard that old, old, old country joke before, he deserved being fooled.

      Havelock Ellis surveyed his friends in the English upper class/journalism/academic world. And, like Kinsey, claimed he’d found the secrets of the whole world. Not a surprise the majority of men paid prostitutes, usually an amount the average working man’s monthly take-home wage.

      The phrase ‘common sense’ has been taken over by evangelicals, free marketers, racists, and other weasels. There needs to be some obscure phrase to replace it or social research will always be a satire on the people who conduct it.

  8. djrichard

    Related to the net neutrality decision, there are parallels to how the Fed Gov operates. Congress and WH are equivalent to ISPs governing the bandwidth.

    – Would ISPs cripple their bandwidth if they had a captive market and could extract more money from the market? Yes
    – Would Congress and WH cripple fiscal spending if they could extract more money from the market to line their pockets? Yes


    Dems could simply take the position that deficit spending is sustainable and the debt ceiling is a fake crisis. But that actually diminishes their power to hold various constituencies over a barrel, so they won’t do that.

    It’s equivalent to ISPs operating without “net neutrality” rules. The ISPs that are more empowered are those with smaller spigots (e.g. wireless carriers, dsl-based providers). ISPs with big fat spigots are less empowered to hold various stakeholders and their consumers over a barrel. That’s why you won’t see dsl-based providers improving their bandwidth offer anytime soon – they’re more empowered by their bandwidth being a scarce resource.

    And that’s why treating the spigot of Fed Gov spending as a scarce resource is the name of the game right now. So the unemployed are the first to lose. They won’t be the last. The fighting doesn’t get real ferocious until DoD loses. DoD bought themselves some time this last round, so that won’t happen for a while yet.


    If the above reads a bit like a diatribe, it’s because I posted the above in the comment section for BI: Here’s How The Senate Killed The Latest Round Of Unemployment Insurance Negotiations. Which as of now is no longer on the top home page for BI.

  9. rich

    Analyst shunned after knocking Apple, Amazon for ethics

    Opinion: Do great products and great returns make up for immoral behavior?

    It’s never a good idea to go on CNBC and point out even just a few tiny flaws in our wonderful capitalist system.

    Equity research analyst Ronnie Moas tried this last week, and here’s happened: The show’s host insinuated he was having a nervous breakdown;
    He received anonymous death threats;
    He lost tens of thousands of dollars in business as some clients became outraged and dropped his service; He got pasted with labels and trash-talked in the media. Watch the interview.

    “His research report is a lot of baloney — and could be financially dangerous to investors,” a Jan. 12 story in the New York Post opined.

    The words of Moas, founder of Miami-based Standpoint Research, were never called “financially dangerous” before. His research boasts top rankings from, Yahoo Finance and Motley Fool. He says his time-stamped stock recommendations have bested the Standard & Poor’s 500 more than 69% of the time since 2008. He sells his research mostly to hedge funds and institutional investors who profit from the advice.

    “I am not a communist, socialist or anti-conservative,” Moas said in a telephone interview.

    Moas merely noted: Phillip Morris sells a product that kills people; Apple pays contract workers in China so little they have been committing suicide; Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos sits on a $27 billion fortune while his warehouse workers suffer low pay and unfair working conditions.
    don’t question the status quo?

      1. Anon y Mouse

        Clear violation of the law and it drove down the pay for an entire industry (software development). People should have gone to jail for that but executives of big companies don’t go to jail anymore.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It should be noted that $27 billion is only 1/40 of a trillion dollars, approximately.

      There is a lot of work to be done.

      And beyond that mile post, there are more to come.

      So it goes, on and on. Where it stops, nobody knows. Making money for the sake of making money…meaningful work for those people to do, I guess they find it meaningful…making money.

      1. F. Beard

        We should be careful that the meaningful (by definition) work people find to do is ethical. Counter example: A government-backed/enabled counterfeiting cartel, the banking system, that allows those with equity to leverage it by stealing purchasing power from those who can’t or won’t borrow from the cartel or are not members of that cartel.

        Progressives are a hoot. In general they support the concept of government-backed credit creation and then complain about the gross wealth inequality that results therefrom.

    1. squasha

      at the very bottom of a long list of wonders harked on your linked site is a marvel among marvels, tucked up just under the hand-forged axes, wooden canoes, large toboggans and snowshoes. Just beyond the all-you-can eat freeze-dried food & extreme food storage, black- ammo deals, water filters, silver dubloons, solar ovens, anti-looting doohickeys & Masada beachfront property in Idaho, have a look.

  10. Anotherfarang

    About “History shows way out of Thai conflict” from the Asia Times (furzy mouse)”

    This is a good presentation of the royalist take on the current situation. It is filled with the elite’s ideology and is contrary to reality in many ways. Thai history is not all peace and love. Whatever Thaksin’s flaws, he addressed the desires and needs of large parts of the population previously ignored. That is why he has won every fair election held in Thailand for 2 decades.
    It is so easy to write pretty sounding op-ed pieces when the government will throw those who publicly disagree with you in jail.

  11. reslez

    Go figure, a Harvard-trained political analyst comes down on the side of overthrowing democratically elected government in Thailand. Is Thaksin corrupt? Yes, so are they all. Was his prosecution politically motivated? Yes, of course. And yes, his political opponents are completely incapable of winning an election. Is that a valid reason to prevent political candidates from registering for elections, shut down the capital, and invite the military to throw a coup? This guy thinks so.

  12. bwilli123

    Aussie Humour.
    The Australian Taxation Office wants to allow big business to oversee its own tax returns

    ….Robert Jeremenko, senior counsel at industry group The Tax Institute, acknowledged that the big accounting firms stood to gain massive windfalls, but said there was no question of it being a case of putting the “fox in charge of the chookhouse”.
    “With the high levels of professional ethics in the profession, companies are not going to get a free ride,” he said…..

  13. randallr

    What can we do? This is so frustrating, all of it but especially the drone news. Sometimes, it seems like our only option is dropping the pants or hiking the skirt whichever is applicable.

  14. McMike

    The NSA finally surprises me.

    I would say that most of the NSA revelations didn’t really surprise me. It’s the sort of thing I would have guessed, or at least would have guessed if my life/career depended on it. The full scope is pretty shocking. The raw impunity perhaps. The blatant mission creep from terrorism to obvious political and corporate surveillance raised one eyebrow. But most of the technical details not so much.

    But this idea that they can insert receivers into USB cable jacks and operate that from a mile away. I would not have guess that.

    Also a surprise, but not really: how freaking dumb is Governor Christie’s staff? On what planet do public figures still discuss criminal political dirty tricks openly on email?

    1. Lambert Strether

      I would love to know who dropped the dime on Christie.

      To answer your question, on Planet Earth, where the political class in third world countries like the United States have impunity from the rule of law. Does that help?

      1. McMike

        Well, the dems currently control the nsa… Safe to assume that christie is under an electronic full court press.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Actually, it’s safe to assume that all politicians at all times are under an electronic full court press. Everybody is guilty of something after all. Scandal eruptions have nothing to do with guilt (or, to be fair, innocence). Just think of all this as the early 2016 primary.

        2. different clue

          The dems? What dems? Obamadems? Anyway, it seems the NSA controls the Obamadems. Certainly they want to give it everything it wants.

    2. Shutter

      “But this idea that they can insert receivers into USB cable jacks and operate that from a mile away. I would not have guess that.”

      Mac Thunderbolt cables with their little built in controllers? Same concept. No surprise.

    3. optimader

      “how freaking dumb is Governor Christie’s staff?”
      Apparently very, but that should be no surprise; his just happened to get caught.. These are people that have sought a patronage niche to collect a paycheck w/o being gainfully employed.

      Presumably every governor has a cadre of idiots, some better/some worse ( bigger budget).

      1. Synopticist

        Yeah, but I mean, openly discussing dirty tricks in an e-mail?
        In 2013? A frickin e-mail? 10 years ago the rule was “don’t put anything in an e-mail you wouldn’t feel comfortable reading in a newspaper headline”. what a bunch of idiots.

        these are presumably the same insiders he’d half considered a presidential run with.

  15. Oops I spooged on your civilization

    The administration did a good job of hiding its shit-eating infamy and disgrace at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, for illegal surveillance, suppression of free expression, abuse of migrants, drone murder, and arbitrary detention in its torture gulag. They got fried as the most primitive OAS pariah state and nobody here inside the hermit kingdom heard. If their luck holds and the subject population fails to notice, the government is ready for their USA Shame and Disgrace Tour 2014.

    – March: The Human Rights Committee reviews US compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, March 13th and 14th, with concluding observations on March 26. Not coincidentally, during the session the Committee will publish a draft General Comment on Article 9 regarding arbitrary arrest and detention. One focus is the connection between illegal detention and torture.

    – November: The Committee Against Torture reviews US compliance with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

    – September: The Human Rights Council accepts civil society reports for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the US, including the economic, social, and cultural rights that the US acknowledges internationally but frantically suppresses at home.

    – August: another treaty body reviews US compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

    Lots o’ groveling by the mortified Foggy Bottom chumps! Lots o’ promises to do better!! Lots o’ lame exuses!!! Maybe we’ll even get to See CIA spring some more of its fugitive kidnappers and torturers awaiting extradition in Panamanian jails.

  16. Synopticist

    Syria has taken a turn for the surreal lately. The hardcore salafi rich gulf arab funded al qeada franchise, ISIS, is fighting the hardcore salafi rich gulf arab funded Islamic Front, all over northern Syria. Car bombs and massacres included. The biggest beneficiary, after the regime itself, is the other salafi rich gulf arab funded al qeada franchise, J.A.N.

    Popcorn time. You can follow the war on twitter almost minute by minute, often with videos and wikimapia references. It’s quite addictive.

  17. bob goodwin

    I am going to go out on a limb here on Christie.

    I don’t like him very much. I am a tea partier, and I know NC is predominantly progressive readers. Don’t get your feathers up please. My sense is that progressive are the other block of people who have never liked him much, even if they didn’t mind him breaking some china.

    By definition blue state republicans are neo-liberal (I think? Isn’t Bloomberg?) But that isn’t even the reason we don’t like him. It just seems to some of us that he only believes in two things: Governing and Christie.

    So here is where I go out on a limb for this audience. What if he was actually a perfect anti-corporatist? The far right and the far left would love this! What is he was exactly in the middle of the road on all the issues the far left and far right use to slit each other’s throat? In other words, what if he is EXACTLY the opposite of what we think.

    Food for fight. My two dents.

    1. F. Beard

      A candidate for spontaneous combustion or gravitational implosion should not preach austerity for others, is my short take on Chris Christie.

      1. different clue

        I read the theory that he palsy-walsied with Obama to get revenge on Romney for picking him for VP nominee.

  18. Lambert Strether

    Yves is looking for a French translator for an interesting article on the NSA. Around 4,000 words, but, ya know, all the accents make it seem longer than it really is. If you’re up for it, please contact me here. Thanks!

    NOTE To be clear, we wish to translate from French, not into it. I guess I’m not fully caffeinated yet.

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