Links 2/12/14

So, Turns Out Crocodiles Can Climb Trees Wired (Richard Smith). That croc looks really comfortable in his tree.

College Graduate First Person In Family To Waste $160,000 Onion (Chuck L)

Kenya’s first mockumentary takes on the NGO world Africa is a Country (Lambert)

Vast Study Casts Doubts on Value of Mammograms New York Times. Hahaha! How many years have I been ranting about this whenever the opportunity presented itself? Mammograms are a terrible diagnostic, lots of false positives and too many false negatives (as in mammograms are great at finding slow-growing lumps you will die with, not of, and bad at catching the fast moving growths that can kill you). MDs and the imaging industry should be ashamed of itself for pushing this test. And I’ve also long said that getting your boobs examined by an experienced practitioner is a better diagnostic than mammograms, but people in the US have been conditioned to think that’s less scientific than films no one can interpret consistently or well.

Apparent Conflict of Interest Sullies Panel of Patient Safety Experts Patient Safety Blog. Quelle surprise!

How Colleges Flunk Mental Health Newsweek (Chuck L). Disturbing.

H.R.2957 and its proposal to limit eDiscovery of potentially admissible and material evidence in EHR-related medical disasters Health Care Renewal. “Do computers have more rights than patients?”

Mozilla To Display Ads Within Firefox Consumerist

Richard Smith finds another Google DMCA screwup, background at MYLES POWER VS HOUSE OF NUMBERS Science of Sarcasm.

The Surge In Chinese Exports Has Some Worried That Over-Invoicing Has Made A Comeback Business Insider

Chinese export data stokes wide skepticism MacroBusiness

Hatred and Buddhism don’t mix Bangkok Post

How to kill an industry in Indonesia Asia Times (Jan)

OECD ‘overstated’ growth forecasts Guardian. This is news?

Lessons from a lost revolution: Egypt’s fate still hangs in the balance Salon

Obama gives dire assessment on Syria, conceding that diplomacy is failing Washington Post

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Five surveillance myths stalling NSA reform, debunked Guardian

The Day We Fight Back: can an internet protest stop the NSA?* The Verge

“The Mask” Espionage Malware Bruce Schneier

Spy Chief Says Snowden Took Advantage of ‘Perfect Storm’ of Security Lapses New York Times. Puhleeze.

Obamacare Launch

The Real Illness Plaguing U.S. Healthcare Counterpunch (Carol B)

The Insiders: Obamacare creates new ways to prosecute American business Washington Post. Screechy but there is a legitimate complaint here.

Creators Still in Demand on Health Care Website New York Times

The GOP’s debt ceiling surrender Politico

Governor Christie’s Lawyer Trying To Talk To Witnesses In Investigation Of Governor’s Office DSWright, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Yellen: Fed Will Likely Cut Bond Buys in Measured Steps Wall Street Journal. So so far, Yellen is trying to say/do nothing new.

Yellen’s Debut as Chair Tim Duy

Janet Yellen to Emerging Markets: Good Luck Bloomberg

Before the Greenspan/Bernanke Put, There Was the Mellon Put Matt Stoller

Observations on the GDP Release and the CBO Outlook Menzie Chinn, Econbrowser. A good high-level analysis.

Insolvency + Tax Season = Good News? Jason Kilborn, Credit Slips. FYI a tax-savvy reader commented on this issue nearly two years ago and we hoisted his explanation (with tax code references) and featured it in posts. So close readers will have seen a version of this discussion before. But it’s an important and not well understood issue, so the more reports of it, the better.

Barclays: profits down, bonuses up. Why? Robert Peston.

An FT story lets Wall Street off the hook Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review

A Walmart Worker Explains Why Walmart’s Customer Service Is Horrible Gawker (wnk). OMG, you must read this!

Why My BS-O-Meter Redlined In The Minimum-Wage War Wolf Richter

Record Number of Boomers Left the Labor Force Economic Populist. Suicide futures.

Review of Tricky Issues in Labor Force Participation Idiosyncratic Whisk

Anatomy of a Hunger Crisis MSNBC

The Rise and Fall of the Failed-State Paradigm Foreign Affairs (optimader). Important

Antidote du jour (Lambert). Baby lemurs born at the Atlanta Zoo:


And a bonus, this from Robert M, who saw it on PopSci:

Go here to read one of my favorite stories on crow intelligence. I particularly like #4.

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  1. sufferin' succotash

    From the Foreign Affairs article:

    “…the most appropriate answer to the dangers inherent in an era of interdependence and turbulence is domestic resilience: hardened and redundant networks of information and energy, an emphasis on local or regional self-sufficiency to reduce the cascading effects of systemic shocks, improved domestic emergency-response and cybersecurity capacities, sufficient investments in pandemic response, and so forth. Equally important is a resilient mindset, one that treats perturbations as inevitable rather than calamitous and resists the urge to overreact.”
    Given the current state of our failed politics, anyone want to bet on any of the above happening anytime soon?

    1. David Lentini

      Once again, reality intrudes on the worldbuilders of that oxymoronic (emphasis on the moron) alternate reality known as “political science”; a field that is all politics, as is intellectual whoring to the dominant powers, and no science. Why do we keep bothering to listen to these people, whose failed ideas and outright lies have led to more death and destruction than the wars of the reformation?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There do seem to be a lot of fine practicing graduates with a degree in ‘political dark arts.’

        I guess it’s not surprising giving the fact that art and science do overlap, contrary to popular belief.

    2. Mark P.

      Sorry to push this in up top, but this is primary NC material. From Pando Daily today —

      The Wolf of Sesame Street: Revealing the secret corruption inside PBS’s news division

      On December 18th, the Public Broadcasting Service’s flagship station WNET issued a press release announcing the launch of a new two-year news series entitled “Pension Peril.” The series, promoting cuts to public employee pensions, is airing on hundreds of PBS outlets all over the nation. It has been presented as objective news on major PBS programs including the PBS News Hour.

      However, neither the WNET press release nor the broadcasted segments explicitly disclosed who is financing the series. Pando has exclusively confirmed that “Pension Peril” is secretly funded by former Enron trader John Arnold, a billionaire political powerbroker who is actively trying to shape the very pension policy that the series claims to be dispassionately covering.

      In recent years, Arnold has been using massive contributions to politicians, Super PACs, ballot initiative efforts, think tanks and local front groups to finance a nationwide political campaign aimed at slashing public employees’ retirement benefits. His foundation which backs his efforts employs top Republican political operatives, including the former chief of staff to GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey (TX). According to its own promotional materials, the Arnold Foundation is pushing lawmakers in states across the country “to stop promising a (retirement) benefit” to public employees….

      More via the link

        1. psychohistorian

          I read their response and it seems like slick PR saying “We’ve been wronged!”

          Their words: “The stated purpose of the grant, as set forth in our grant agreement with WNET, was to “educate millions of Americans on the implications of looming debt and the tough choices ahead as these unfunded liabilities threaten to crowd out funding for education, public safety and other essential public services.” The project sought to “raise awareness of which cities and states are in the direst situations and how further crisis and/or bankruptcy might be averted, with a special focus on leaders confronting the issue head-on, proposed solutions and models of reform.””

          Of course there is no mention of the pension raping by the financial sector that caused the issue in the first place. The tough choices we have are how to organize ourselves in a leaderless fashion to change the corrupt social organization we live under…and neuter plutocrats like the Arnolds.

  2. ambrit

    The Lady is correct, the Wal Mart story is dead on the money. The conditions and systems mentioned in the piece are the same as those in place in the D.I.Y. Boxxstore I toil mightily in. (Hint: Its’ colours are in the blue spectrum.)
    People I talk to “on the street” remark that most other box stores are run the same way. Indeed, those run with any modicum of decency are notorious for their exceptionality in todays’ economy.
    Got to run. My zone manager called me up last night and asked me to come in early, six a.m., and cover for another person who decided that their home life deserved a h— of a lot more of their time and energy than this low paying job. (I agreed, which does tend to call my own grip on sanity into question. [That’s a discussion for another time.])

    1. psychohistorian

      So ambrit, do you work to live or live to work?

      This use to be a serious career/life question. Now, not so much.

      Think about how insane your manager has to be to keep this shit for brains business model operational for his bosses.

    2. scott

      Every time I go to Home Depot I’m accosted by 2 or 3 “greeters”, then on every aisle there is a person in orange who first greets me, then asks me if I can find what I’m looking for. Last Sunday I had to buy a box of screws and i knew exactly where they were located. I had to decline “help” 5 times just to make it to the fastener aisle (even the damn paint mixing guy, who was bored). In the rare occasion that I can’t find something, or have a question about a product, of course I get a blank stare.

      Dear HD. Do not confuse friendliness with helpfulness. After seeing an illegal immigrant return $300 worth of stolen merchandise for a gift card (no receipt), I now know what those people in orange are for…to deter (not prevent) shoplifting. That’s a lot of overhead, but then again your shoplifting problem must be worse.

      1. psychohistorian

        Home Despot is just another example of the crapification business model. They initially did hire, train and maintain competent staff in most departments but then the “for profit” bean counters took over and now they are another crappy Big Box outlet.

        Tell me again about how the private sector is SO much better than government?

        Humanities headstone will be that medical joke, the operation was a success but the patient died.

      2. Gareth

        That’s odd, the last time I was in Home Depot only one person was on the floor and he was there solely to consult on kitchen remodeling projects, something I wasn’t interested in. I walked out and haven’t gone back.

        1. Binky Bear

          The times I have been to home depot I have had to load my own bathtub off a high shelf onto a cart while employees watched from waaayy down the aisle, and the time I loaded a cart with drywall and the kid they sent to help me put it in my truck broke every corner and side loading it in my truck. I only go there when I get gift cards pretty much because they actively impede successful completion of jobs. Lowes always seemed better but it sounds like Ambrit is out of love with big blue box store and the independents here have been run by child molesting crack dealers (no lie, GOP corrupt bastards club members). I stick with big blue for now.

        2. huxley

          Avoid making any online purchase. That way madness lies. Home Despot is notorious for advertising discontinued and out-of-stock items but will insist that they can nevertheless fill the order, mostly as a ruse to prevent you from ever getting your money back.

          Also, inspect any item before you reach for it. That chirping you hear from the ceiling are birds with diarrhea.

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      I’d like to meet the genius who came up with the idea for the cashier to ask me, AT CHECKOUT, if I’d found “everything I was looking for.” (I’d guess this technique was developed to compensate for the lack of assistance on “the floor.”)

      Well, no. But I’m already pissed off because I had to substitute something else or decided I could do without or would make an extra stop at another store, and I’m not about to hold up the line while the cashier runs to the other end of the store to look for something I already know is not there.

      Ditto when I pick up the one item without a price tag and the cashier doesn’t seem to know what it is or where it came from.

      I usually leave the store wondering why the hell I ever went there in the first place and swearing never to come back.

      I’d be rethinking this.

      1. just an example

        Cashier: “Did you find everything you were looking for.”
        Me: “I would not be here to pay if I hadn’t.”
        Cashier looks puzzled.
        Me: “Am I the only one who hates this question?”

        Step infront of a Worldmarket cashier, and the first thing they say is:
        “Type in your phone number”. I have complained numerous times that they are not supposed to ask for this private info when someone just wants to pay ( there was even a lawsuit about this in California). Only go there now to buy a couple of chocolate bars twice a year.

        1. neo-realist

          Don’t be angry at the subordinate. He’s probably told to ask that question ( “you find everything you were looking for”?) by management and they will probably give him a talking to if he didn’t.

          1. just an example

            Of course I am not angry at the cashiers. I often say “I am sorry that they make you say this”.
            But if I answer in a non-robot way to these robot-like behaviors, 99% of the time they are completely thrown off guard.
            What irks me is the overall robotization of human interaction.

        2. BondsOfSteel

          It’s not like they check the data. I always just pick a fake number. 867-5309 is my fav. (Most of the time if you forget your discount card, this number will work… as does 111-1111. Lots of people use fake numbers.)

          Poor Jenny… I bet she’s getting all my spam calls.

          1. bob

            Corrupt the data. I have a bunch of those discount cards, all picked up off the floor of the store.

            “you said A phone number…not MY phone number”

            Most areas have pretty limited numbering plans for telephone numbers. Area code and then the next three can be guessed by location. After that, chances are any 4 other will work.

            The store telephone number also usually works.

        3. g kaiser

          I think people should generally wake up. I will never give my phone number to anyone, unless I WANT THEM TO PHONE ME! Simple.
          People should stand up, and develop the instinctive response to say NO.
          Why on earth would you give your phone number to a trading store, only for them to sell it on to a marketing company or whatever. Say hello to strange calls at all times of the day, and messages about the millions you have won in an Apple lottery!
          My business is none of yours.

        4. alex morfesis

          you know you can lie right…your telephone number…date of birth…programing and tracking is designed to keep tabs on making sure when lemmings turn to lions the marketing side can see it coming…in what you buy, what you read, but the computer does not know you are lying…the only thing it can do is crash and freeze up your computer as it tries to feed ads to fit you psychographics…so lie…but then every once in a while it gets its revenge and freezes up my mac to the point i just “pull the plug” and reboot…its actually fun opening up an article that is not even close to what I am interested in, clicking an ad that I had no interest in and watch as the cuekeys try to follow me along…from site to site…its entertaining when you need a break from life…my two face book accounts…half the things I have selected and things I have liked…you don’t really tell the truth do you…I certainly don’t…

    4. Klassy

      Consider this. Unit managers in hospitals get bonuses based on keeping labor costs down too. Does that make you feel better now?

    5. kareninca

      On the rare occasions that I shop in Home Depot, I have to run in, purchase, and then run out, because the place smells powerfully like toxic waste; it actually makes me nauseated. And I’m not especially sensitive to that sort of thing. I feel terrible for the people who have to breathe that stuff day in and day out.

      The last time I went in I was immediately accosted by some guy who wanted to sell me kitchen remodeling; really obnoxious. On the upside, before determining that I didn’t want a remodeled kitchen, he did help me find what I was actually looking for.

      1. Duck

        The color scheme in Home Depot makes me nauseous. I only go when Lowe’s doesn’t have something I’m looking for. Every time I swear never to go back. It feels like the place Ronald McDonald would go to commit suicide.

      2. Usual Suspect

        Never noticed the whiff in Home Depot but the vapors that emanate from the toy department of Walmart makes me wonder how people can do that to their kids.

  3. kimyo

    Coal slurry spill pollutes W.Va. creek
    Local officials said the environmental impact of the new spill is ‘significant’

    A large amount of coal slurry — a watery mix of coal dust, rock and chemicals, including the chemical crude MCHM — spilled from a preparation plant into a tributary of the Kanawha River in Charleston, W.Va., on Tuesday. Local officials said the impact of the spill is “significant.”

    Local officials estimated it to be more than 100,000 gallons, according to the West Virginia Gazette, which is 10 times the volume of an MCHM spill that tainted water for hundreds of thousands in the area last month.

    Emergency officials and environmental inspectors told the Charleston Gazette that roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    and a great weather resource for nyc area readers: ny metro weather

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      And SENATOR Jay Rockefeller is retiring from PUBLIC SERVICE because he’s done all that he can do and he wants to spend more time with his family.


      1. huxley

        Jay’s family controls trillions. Most of TPTB prefer absolute anonymity, but Jay considers himself more of a hands-on owner of, well, everything.

    1. abynormal

      im in the other A -alpharetta…the sleet stopped around 4am
      now its just ice falling…wind gust around 25mph
      we got 3 more rounds coming…friday down to 28 with rain/ice ontop of ice

      both my parents were in the hospital last week.
      i care for my mother (may the gods have mercy on me) and my sister takes care of my dad, but my dad is in worse shape and his body is not responding…he’s giving up with my sis stuck in the house. if she can’t get him to take protein etc she’ll have to call for emergency help and the doctors can takeover.

      i lived thru the 73′ ice storm…what people around here don’t understand is how we had 60 degree weather last week…pine sap reacted like tulips blooming before their time (which they were). this sap is freezing in place throughout the tree and with the wind and ice strain, they will begin to pop tonight. there is no sound like it. i remember my dad running from window to window in 73′ watching trees fall. my neighbors are comparing it to hurricanes they’ve weathered…but when the popping starts your nerves take a beating and it don’t stop…you don’t hear the trees popping thru hurricane winds. (ive done that too)

      fun times ahead. all the best to you Joe and Think Safety!

      1. bob

        That popping. Once you’ve heard that you’ll never forget it. All night long, in the dark…Pop…pop…hoping the next doesn’t come down on you, your house, your neighbors house….

        Lived through 3″ of ice in Northern NY in 98. The trees were popping for a week after, at least. For the rest of the winter and well into the spring looking up was reflex.

        My favorite pictures were of the big, high voltage power towers that looked like the were punched from above.

      2. Joe

        Thanks Aby. I hope you are well and I’m very sorry to hear about your parents. My thoughts and sympathy are with you. I went through a similar situation last year. My Mom and my Dad both had to refuse to eat, at the end, to get our horrifying corporate medical system to leave them alone and let them die in peace.
        The greedy hospital operated on my Dad (91 yrs old) to remove his spleen, a week before he died for no apparent reason other than being able to bill Medicare. A different hospital refused to release my Mother to hospice care until I threatened to sue them, because they wanted her to stay x number of days so they could bill Medicare more. I despise our medical system, you are best avoiding it, more often than not.

        A just heard a huge crack an hour ago and one of the pine trees out back has fallen on the neighbors house. It has taken out their chimney and done extensive roof damage. If it had fallen about 30 degrees the other direction, it would be on my house. I feel so sorry for them. It is going to be a nervous night for me because there are a lot more trees back there and the ice is still accumulating.

        Surprisingly, the power is still on but I wouldn’t bet on it staying on.

        1. Joe


          The hospice staff were angels to my parents and myself, I can’t praise them enough for their kindness, skill and caring.

          The hospital staff treated my parents and myself like pieces of meat that they could extract money from. I gritted my teeth as an endless parade of useless specialists stopped by my parents bedsides for exams that lasted minutes so they could generate bills that cost Medicare tens of thousands.

          Hospital=Profit/Rent extraction
          Hospice=Non profit/Humane

          1. abynormal

            Thank You for Sharing Joe.
            will take it all into considerations and apply where i can

            ive missed your post…hope your return when life permits

            1. Joe

              Thanks Aby. Sorry I unloaded like that, it has been a bad couple years and it seems to be getting worse.

              I know you are going through a terrible time yourself and I offer my deepest sympathy to you and your family.

              1. abynormal

                don’t you DARE be ashamed…your share is what im walking into and many others!

                YOUR share is what gives this site its strength!!

                btw i got to get over to my sis & dads pronto…my sis just got test result and they’ve found ”swishing’ in her arteries PLUS spots on her cervix.

                here’s a share…ive had $3.78 in my checking account for 4mos. ive had to fleece toilet paper from the local gym while i take care of my mother…who is sitting on millions. oh and my only ex owes 37k in back childsupport, which our recovery program won’t lift a finger.

                life gives us obstacles and we keep moving where we’re needed

                im rich… considering some ive read around here

                1. abynormal

                  btw my mom is leaving me and my sis NOTHING…the will is signed and on video(s) she passed around.

                  like i said, im rich in spirit…fukum’)

                    1. abynormal

                      Thank You Skippy…your tribute to your father gave me strength to understand better what im doing. and believe me ive questioned myself constantly!
                      id wipe my mothers obese bottom to not have my baby sister (young 43) have to face her future ill.

                      Skippy, you and a few others FACTS with compassion have moved me to where i am and where im headed…

                      we’re all a book…each other must read


  4. dearieme

    “MDs and the imaging industry should be ashamed of itself for pushing this test.” It was particularly Feminists who made the running for this testing in Britain. Hell, you were some sort of Nazi if you were sceptical.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      And in the US you were “some sort” of “vice-presidential candidate” named Sarah Palin.

      The relevant issue was “some sort” of DEATH PANEL.

  5. Skeptic

    Mal*Mart Story From that article:

    “If I were to write down every unethical/illegal thing I have personally witnessed in the last 5 years, I would have to write a book.”

    Well, I wish they would write that book and publish it on the Internet. I wish all the other folks witnessing or engaging in “unethical/illegal thing(s)” on their jobs would communicate those activities, anonymously if need be.

    One of the great disappointments of the Internet is that, to my knowledge, there is no site dedicated to Whistleblowers in all areas of American Life. Let’s hear all the dirty tricks and crimes these folk get up to. We can at least maybe save some money and protect ourselves better. As the Crime Wave metastasizes, more and more unethical/illegal things are going on all around us and they are little reported even by the overworked, underfunded non MSM media.

    Snowden led the way on this exposing just some of the unethical/illegal things.

    1. sd

      There was a site. It was called e Pluribus Media and was a citizen journalism site that did some amazing reporting. It did not have the financial support it needed to sustain its operations based on an all volunteer staff.

    2. savedbyirony

      My experience doesn’t come from employment but from having a relative living in an assisted living retirement home bought out by Sabre Healthcare Group. From chronically/intentionally under-staffing to poor training to intentional high turn-over to very poor wages and virtually no benefits/perks to demoralizing the staff and targeting for removal caregivers who tried to improve the situation, Sabre treats their nursing aides like Walmart treats its “associates”, and I’m quite sure for much the same reasons. After doing some research, i found that this is a serious, often found problem with the large corp. owned Assisted Living Retirement homes and encourage anyone looking into having someone they love move into one that she first look carefully into the staffing levels and staff treatment of any residence before making the move. (I had very little problem with the aides themselves; in fact i sympathized and actively agitated for them -and my family member- because one could see how poorly they were being treated, how little support they received from management and how miserable their working environment had become.)

    1. psychohistorian

      The US is a sham democracy as clearly now represented by not only its lack of governmental transparency but by its aggressive prosecution of those attempting to shine lights on it hypocrisy.

      We have the best government the God of Mammon can buy, and it shows.

      1. huxley

        America does not have a federal government per se. It has a proxy class in D.C. that’s tasked with asset management on behalf of the owners. The U.S. isn’t really a nation, for that matter. It’s more like a portfolio.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Insolvency + Tax Season = Good News

    Oh, so there’s already a LAW that makes income from forgiven debt not taxable under certain conditions.

    What a relief!! A LAW.

    Now if someone could only find a law against foreclosing on a house using forged documents. (And an HONEST judge.)

  7. Juneau

    re: How Colleges Flunk Mental Health

    should be retitled:
    How Colleges Avoid Being Sued by families of mentally ill students….
    I hate to be cynical but I think the reason there is this trend to get rid of mentally ill students is because parents blame the schools when their kids drink, use drugs and harm themselves while at school. They sue the schools. Just google litigation and college student suicides and you will see the trend described in the law literature.

    Whose responsibility is it to care for these kids and who is to blame when they act out?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Doesn’t look like you read the piece.

      Colleges are basically driving out kids who go to a campus shrink for anything other than anxiety.

      And you are REALLY ignorant about the origins of mental health issues. Parents aren’t the only ones who socialize kids. Did you miss that the overwhelming majority go to school starting at age 5, and that a lot of the pressures on kids today result from seriously unhealthy social environments?

  8. Jim Haygood

    No recycling collection today in our ‘hood. We were utterly perplexed as to why, on a random Wednesday just before a snow day. Then Tom diLorenzo kindly reminded his readers that it’s Lincoln’s birfday. Doh! Tom says,

    ‘As the twentieth-century literary critic Edmund Wilson once wrote, it was Lincoln, Lenin and Bismarck who did more than any other individuals in their respective countries to introduce highly centralized governmental bureaucracies. Lincoln … destroyed the original American union and replaced it with a Soviet-style coerced union held together by mass murdering literally hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens for simply asserting the truth of the founders that the original union was voluntary, as described in Article 7 of the U.S. Constitution.’

    We’ll know we’re free when his marble statue in Washington DC gets toppled.

    1. Vatch

      Huh? Here’s the text of Article 7 of the U.S. Constitution:

      The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

      What the heck is the point of that quote about Lincoln!? What is there in Article 7 that justifies armed rebellion by people who insist on their right to own other people?

        1. Vatch

          I suppose that depends in part on whether they first tried to secede by non-violent means. The southerners did start the was by bombarding Ft. Sumter. I don’t think the U.S. Constitution provides a method by which states can attempt to secede. Maybe the South could have tried to pass a constitutional amendment. But, of course, they would have had no desire to secede were it not for their “peculiar insitution” of slavery.

          Aside from this, I still don’t understand the odd reference to Article 7 of the U.S. Constitution.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              That’s interesting.

              You are saying then is this, at Ft. Sumter, there was an occupation force in the Confederates’ homeland.

              The proper thing to do, for president Lincoln (of a smaller country), about the reprehensive slavery in another nation then would be boycott or sanctions. Declaring war on moral grounds could also be considered.

              Post war, then, the kind victor could consider supporting a more humane regime, I suppose.

    2. squasha

      the annual Neo-Nazi march in Dresden commemorating allied bombing at the end of WWII on Febraury 13 was blocked last year by a human chain, that marvelously modern tool Germans have used to such great effect. The number of participants has diminished with each passing year, this year less than a hundred aspirational fascists are expected to face off against thousands of everyday people. A small victory, perhaps, but one I find damn inspiring.

      here’s an article along with some cool photos of last year’s event:

      1. abynormal

        thanks for the heads up Bob!
        “the Arnold Foundation is pushing lawmakers in states across the country “to stop promising a (retirement) benefit” to public employees.”

        Deceiver, dissembler
        Your trousers are alight
        From what pole or gallows
        Shall they dangle in the night?
        When I asked of your career
        Why did you have to kick my rear
        With that stinking lie of thine
        Proclaiming that you owned a mine?When you asked to borrow my stallion
        To visit a nearby-moored galleon
        How could I ever know that you
        Intended only to turn him into glue?

        What red devil of mendacity
        Grips your soul with such tenacity?
        Will one you cruelly shower with lies
        Put a pistol ball between your eyes?

        What infernal serpent
        Has lent you his forked tongue?
        From what pit of foul deceit
        Are all these whoppers sprung?

        Deceiver, dissembler
        Your trousers are alight
        From what pole or gallows
        Do they dangle in the night?
        The Liar/W.Blake

  9. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Mammogram Study

    Do not fail to note the significance of WHERE “one of the largest and most meticulous studies of mammography ever done” was conducted–in CANADA, WHICH HAS NATIONALIZED HEALTHCARE.

    The free flow of information required to adequately and honestly evaluate the efficacy of healthcare practices is only possible under a system where “privacy” is not a consideration since no one is ever left out.

    Evidence of the value of a treatment must be gathered where it counts–from the patients–and not from corporate financed studies evaluated by corporate controlled bureaucrats at the FDA or AMA with financial interests in the outcome.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It seems to be a small step* backward for technology (mammogram), but a huge leap forward for simple living in a natural (non-polluted) world – just consuming less is always a worthy choice for consideration.

      * we take what we can get.

  10. diptherio

    Re: Adds on Firefox

    I really like the Desktop 1.4.11 plug-in for FF. Once installed, it allows you to have total control over which which sites show up in when open a new tab. Totally customizable, totally schweeet. Possibly an easy work-around for the ads, plus it just makes FF way more functional.

  11. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Day We Fight Back: can an internet protest stop the NSA?*

    The demonstrations are a message to the intelligence community that they don’t have the support of the American people. The beautiful thing about the NSA surveillance issue is that it doesn’t require any legislative action. The Patriot Act’s provisions that alleged legalized the NSA’s mass surveillance programs expire in 2015. As John Michael Greer helpfully pointed out back in 2010;

    “Whenever power has been diffused to the point that no one power center can carry out its agenda without the consent of many others, any well-organized faction becomes a power broker. It can drive whatever bargains it wishes in exchange for supporting the agendas of other factions, and use that clout to defend those positions it considers nonnegotiable.”– The Archdruid Report: Housebreaking the Corporations

    The Freedom Act is the first set of bargains that will reform the intelligence community. This political reality has not gone unnoticed by the US intelligence community. In a recent interview former NSA/CIA Michael Hayden states that unless they receive the “consent of the governed” they will not be able to conduct their programs. He also indirectly promoted the idea of another grand compromise in the spirit of the Warren/Pike committee hearings.

    Unfortunately, there may not be a solid basis of trust to forge such a grand bargain. Any set of legislative agreements may be seen as capitulation by the vast majority of people. This would neither improve the public’s trust nor provide a guarantee of continued support for the intelligence community.

    And that’s why Snowden needs to receive amnesty… to restore the public trust. (And yes, Manning’s release is probably next.)

    1. neo-realist

      I couldn’t see the MIC tolerating a Manning release. Obama is a political coward who will do what the MIC and Chiefs of Staff tell him to do. I also believe the elites have gotten much more arrogant and couldn’t give two sh*ts about the public trust. You want to protest us? How do you want it? Pepper spray? Police Projectile? Drone?

      1. Andrew Watts

        Maybe, but Obama has absolutely nothing to do with it. Undoubtedly, Manning’s release is going to be a hard sell, and I doubt it’d involve anything less than five years behind bars. An expedited release could be in the cards though. We just need to find out what the military wants out of the grand compromise and deny them until they give our side what we want. The problem is that people don’t seem to know what they want.

        We’re giving away a lot in the Freedom Act and nobody is really going to like the overall compromise that is forged anyway. So why not try? It doesn’t really hurt or cost us anything to be obstinate.

    2. different clue

      Any amnesty for Snowden would be a trick designed to lure Snowden back to America and then wait a few years for him to drop his guard and then assassinate him. Surely he understands this. Surely he would have better sense than to take the US government’s amnesty bait.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Amnesty is basically a public relations gesture at this point. There is really no chance that Snowden is coming back to the US. It’d look like Putin was handing over a defector. Whether it’s true or not, he cannot afford that perception any more than this country could if the situation was reversed.

        Do you really honestly believe the Russians don’t do kabuki?

    1. psychohistorian

      It is sad to read about these deaths because I think that these folks are either small time operators or know too much to be allowed to spill the beans on bigger fish.

      I mean, think about it, we haven’t had the big crash yet, right? This is the prelude to the crash as the Big Boys try their best to keep disintegration from occurring…..they can’t afford a Snowden type from within the financial sector, can they.

      Ring around the debts
      A pocket full of bets
      Derivatives, derivatives
      We all fall down

  12. NotSoSure

    This morning I went to the local AMC to pick up a couple of tickets for RoboCop (yeah I am still a kid at heart :)), and the price has increased for the Saturday Matinee from 13 dollars last week to 14.50 this week.

    I then made a stop at Whole Foods to pick up my favorite breakfast: biscuit with bacon, egg and cheese (yummy!!) and although the price is still 2.99, the biscuit size seems to have halved and the content is not as thick as it used to be compared to … last week.

    Stealth inflation???

  13. Art

    It’s a Feature not a bug! High false positive rate in Mammograms is a policy.
    In investigating an investment into a imaging analysis company we found that the Medical community (FDA, etc) had set the requirements such that there is a high false positive rate in Mammograms. The rationale was to insure few if any false negatives occurred. The goal apparently is to make sure that cancer is detected even if many people suffer an unnecessary exploratory surgery to remove suspected lump.

    Sorry to say, but it is an uphill battle to convince the establishment and all the players to reduce the false positive rate.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s not just that issue. They also have false negatives.

      There have been multiple studies in which they’ve given the same films to different radiologists and gotten different readings.

      1. Howard Beale IV

        That’s why a biopsy is important (even though it comes with it own issues.)

        My mother is a 20+ year survivor of breast caner.

      2. Punchnrun

        Mammography is not a total waste, but it can obviously be misused. Just like the old door to door encyclopedia salesmen were selling a real product to people who really did not need it. As for radiologists, even at this level medicine and particularly diagnosis is not an exact science though it is science based.

        Case in point, begin 5 years ago and my wife was being watched due to calcifications showing up on her mammography. 2011 we moved to another part of the country. The next exam got a negative report, nothing of note apparent. Next year the same. We know that there is in fact something to watch.

        Now, she is (or was until recently) employed in health care and saw a lot of people in an environment where they have plenty of time to chat, she gets to hear everyone’s successes and their complaints about everything. One thing she was hearing in the new environment was that people were being treated for rather advanced breast cancers who had been getting routine mammograms, but the tumors suddenly showed up. When going back to the radiologist office they were told “well yes, in prior years there was something that we were watching, but …” The patient was getting nothing. So she started paying extra attention to the radiologists, and realized there was only one person doing all the work, everything from concussion studies to knee x-rays, and of course all the mammograms in the area too. Well we (royal we) know from long years in the field that mammograms are hard to read and are best done by someone who specializes in them.

        So this year, off to the big city we go, to a practice that is… oh to heck with obscurantism, we went to Evergreen hospital in Kirkland WA. 1 PM mammogram. I wait in the waiting room. 2 pm goes by, 3 pm and I’ve finished the book I brought. 4 PM and the nurse comes by and asks me to come into the office. Note also that the prior month she had a checkin with her OPBGYN who did a thorough exam, palpations etc. Nothing showed up. But here we are. Now the radiology was just the initial positive that started the ball rolling. Then there was ultrasound to double check. Now it’s 4:45 the day before Thanksgiving that this is all happening and staff are going home as quick as they can. There is little chance for getting the biopsies done that day, so she will probably have to return the next week. The radiologist comes in. What’s that, you live 250 miles away? Let’s see what we can do. He and the nurse who follows each patient from entry through all phases of treatment jump on the phone. People come back in. We got the pathology report the following Tuesday. Yup, level 2 DCIS, aggressive. Thank fsm we went then.

        Now we can start talking about what narrow practice — small network — insurance does to your life. Her medical insurance would not cover anything out of network (work for a hospital, sometimes it’s good sometimes not so good). My employer had just made some changes to the health insurance program making it prohibitively expensive to double-cover, something we have done our entire life together. So when open enrollment came around we did the sensible thing and dropped the cross coverage. Upshot is she’s not going to be covered for anything beginning Jan 1, unless she gets treatment in small town USA. Which is not something we want to see happen, small town medical establishment and cancer treatment do not mix. So she quit. Resigned her job, in order to get the best medical care available. That way we have a qualifying event and can go back and change our health insurance decision. That’s the outcome for us of the relationships between medical care and medical “insurance.”

        More of the story is: if we want to go to the big city for treatment we are looking at frequent trips for treatment, initially every few weeks for chemo and then daily for radiation. To deal with travel, we moved to the Seattle area so she can be treated by Seattle Health Care Alliance. This practice has approximately 10% better outcomes that average for US breast cancer care practices (#s provided by the daughter in law from her internet research PhD in physical therapy I trust her). I have no info on outcomes in small town USA, but we are betting it’s not so good, and we know that technology and experience available is not leading edge.

        The beginning purpose of this was to say that while current practice suffers from both false positives and false negatives, there’s a lot more to it than just too may or too few mammograms. We suffer from wanting everything to be simple. But nothing is simple. It’s that simple.

        Of course it does look like having a single payer could make our lives easier. And simpler. There will be complexities there to, as we then have thousands of administrators and CSRs and managers etc in the health care insurance and billing industries lacking an income. In the the current scheme they will be needing jobs. Because we would be eliminating the entire industry on which their financial health depends. And we can’t just pay them unemployment, even though by eliminating their jobs we have not done anything to the wealth generated in our society. Because that would be socialism. And socialism is bad, right? Isn’t it?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          But you are missing the point. A manual exam by an experienced practitioner is just as effective as mammograms in detecting cancers. And cheaper, less likely to produce false positives, and no exposing yourself to radiation.

          1. Punchnrun

            A manual exam by an experienced practitioner missed this one. However even the surgeon struggled to detect, and she knew where to look. Stepping back though, your point that the practitioner be experienced is the most important. The experience factor is key. The radiologist on the other side of the country who was following the calcifications was experienced. The radiologists who apparently missed or dismissed those calcifications and (presumably) missed this may have been experienced, but is a generalist and does not specialize in reading mammograms.

            The mass production mentality that has been deployed in so many arenas may central to mammography making such a poor showing. Now I’d better stop before I get started on health insurance as a profitable business and the cost reduction mantra driving the specialist and craftsperson out of the picture. Or from the other side, putting an x-ray machine on wheels and mass-marketing, even getting it pronounced “the only way to save the tatas.” Lots of money to be made. Right here in River City!

        2. Jessica

          I wish the best for your wife and you. It is sad that we have a medical system that is inferior in so many different ways.

      3. Punchnrun

        I missed this point and then spent a number of paragraphs trying to illustrate it below. Though we have found that the expertise is not always readily available, and it is not apparent to the lay person just who is an expert and who is not.

  14. diptherio

    Can NGOs Escape Professionalism and Become More Like People? Review of Anarchism in the Boardroom and NGOization by Dru Oja Jay, the Media Co-op

    Nuance. Nikolas Barry-Shaw and I heard that word in many difference Canadian cities we visited on our book tour. Our book argued that government-funded “Non-Governmental Organizations” are not just prone to dragging their feet politically, but are actually playing an active role in manufacturing consent for neoliberal policies and imperial military occupations. Almost no one was willing to argue that that’s not a major part of what NGOs do, but more than a few NGO veterans who came to our talks demanded nuance where they saw us as making sweeping generalizations.

    From an inside perspective, things look different. Many well-intentioned people get caught up in benevolent-seeming efforts that sap support and resources from social movements that could actually challenge the policies that deepen poverty and perpetuate wars and occupations. But there are those few who see the big picture and fight hard for small but important shifts. It’s an invisible and mostly thankless role.

    It’s fair that people who choose to reject the relative smooth sailing of going with the neoliberal flow, opting for a stress-filled life of constant backroom maneuvring and political haggling, should not want to be ignored or erased from the story. Our typical rejoinder was to honour these efforts, but to say that it’s also fair to call a spade a spade, even when it contains a rebellion of valiant, tiny hearts.

    Were we being too flip? While the complicity of NGOs with the nefarious agendas of their funders seems unavoidable, perhaps there’s something to be gained by engaging more directly with the exceptions, the margins and the edge cases. Two new books make that argument (among others) in different ways…

    1. diptherio

      From the end of this article, and apropos of Justine “Loony” Tunney’s offer to fund the revolution the other day:

      Arundhati Roy’s speech “Public Power in the Age of Empire” turns ten this year, but it remains one the most incisive and eloquent analyses of the NGO system. In 2004, she said:

      “The NGO-ization of politics threatens to turn resistance into a well-mannered, reasonable, salaried, 9-to-5 job. With a few perks thrown in. Real resistance has real consequences. And no salary.”

      Chew on that one, Tunney

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        More than a century after the arrival of motion pictures, acting*, as an art, if not better, is at least more widely practiced.

        *members of this particular guild among dark arts-practicing brotherhoods/sisterhoods specialize in, among other things, false flag ops, getting in front of a parade, co-opting, etc.

  15. Jackrabbit

    Five Surveillance Myths . . .

    Indirectly shines a spotlight on Obama:

    1) He will not (or is powerless to) hold Alexander and Clapper responsible for lying or misleading Congress.

    2) He, himself, misled the American people when he said “No one is listening to your calls”, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”, and when he said that Congress was briefed.

    3) He staffed the Security Review so that it would be pro-Security State and the reforms that he has talked about are meager.

    4) He has angered allies by dismissing their concerns (“everyone does it”). And probably would’ve been the one that authorized the forced landing of the Columbian President’s plane.

    But it gets worse:

    5) He signed the NDAA – and did so in a sneaky, secretive way.

    6) The Obama administration (and Obama himself may have known/been involved) used the IRS to target political enemies.

    7) Obama/Obama Administration practices access journalism like never before. And criminialized reporting via a “war on whistle-blowers.”

    8) Obama can not control his Attorney General any more than he can the NSA. the list of Eric Holder’s infractions are long, making him an embarrassment to the Administration, yet he remains in place, sheltered by the President.

    9) By all accounts, the Obama Administration has conducted a war on whistle-blowers.

    10) Now he says he will act by Presidential decree. This seems problematical in light of points (1) – (9).

    In addition:

    11) Obama’s neo-lib economic policies (including Obamacare and Obamatrade), “oops, did I do that?” austerity, and formulation of a ‘liveable’ (hardly) minimum wage as the answer to outrageous inequality add to what many see as a ‘war on the middle class’.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Its sorta funny that GOP/Conservatives accuse Obama of being a ‘progressive’ or ‘socialist’. Given Obama’s record, one could well wonder if the lip-service Obama gives to progressive ideals is solely meant as a lightening rod to attract GOP/Conservative attacks. This dynamic strengthens the two-party duopoly by sucking up media attention and taking wind out of sails of those who seek real change.

    2. fresno dan

      good summary.
      I think one could posit that he is worse than Bush. Is it because Obama is worse, or is it because democrats were at least willing to pretend they believed in civil liberties when a republican is in the White house and push back???

    3. Crazy Horse

      Glen Greenwald’s in-depth article about how targets for assassination are chosen under the Obama Doctrine is required reading for anyone who doesn’t believe that we are already living in an Orwellian state. It is the lead article on his new site, THE INTERCEPT.

      The summary: Amerika’s fleet of 11,000 drones are targeted by intercepting cell phone conversations recorded and analyzed by NSA. Assassination hits are targeted upon cell phone SIM cards rather than individuals. In some instances an individual suspect may not even be identified— only a pattern of cell phone usage that fits a profile.

      Orwell must be rolling over in his grave.

    4. Doug Terpstra

      Well done for the record, Jackrabbit. Not exhaustive by any means, but key highlights. One could go on ad infinitum with the cat food commission, Patriot Act II, Gitmo, union betrayal, amnesty for fellow war criminals, coups in Honduras, Ukraine, Syria, and Egypt, settlements in Palestine, Neoliberal appointments to every post and every court, etcetera and so on and so forth.

      Obama is an epic fraud but a sufficiently brilliant charlatan to keep his congregation enthralled, his media choir in harmony, and his critics ready for padded cells. He’s Wall Sreet’s perfect Manchurian candidate.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Thanks for adding that. Yes! the list is long.

        I was inspired write what I did by the fact that the article talked around Obama’s involvement.

        Also, many have remarked about how incorrect it is for the right to label Obama as ‘progressive’ and ‘socialist’ but few have remarked about how this _helps_ Obama.

  16. Jackrabbit

    BS Meter on the Minimum Wage

    Why aren’t more people angered by Obama’s formulation of the minimum wage as the ‘answer’ for inequality? I feel like I am the only one.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You’re not alone.

      How many minimum wage earners does it take to make a billionaire?

      BTW, that is not a Zen koan.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      The mimimum effort on a living wage is typical sleight of hand, affecting only a subset of federal contractors. It’s hardly better than his token rhetorical gestures, abandoned as soon as the words fade from the teleprompter.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Anatomy of a Hunger Crisis.

    Sad story. I just want to add that a solution, any solution, is not only about people being not hungry, but should also be about making sure people, all of us, having access to healthy eating.

    It’s similar to say we not only want jobs, but we want quality jobs.

  18. fresno dan
    This is the comments from an Instanpundit link about the lack of consequences to the police riot of shooting with regard to Dorner. (instapundit is a right/libertarian blog)
    It is a half full/ half empty scenario. On the one hand, every single commenter, and they are all from the right, decries the lack of accountability of the police and are outraged by it.

    On the other hand, when both the right and left reach such overwhelming consensus that the police were wrong, what does that say about our political system’s total lack of action with regard to the populace’s outrage????????

    1. squasha

      very nice! The last one is particularly transporting. Wonder how this might work in a rusting rotting, yet still heavily ad-blanketed city?

  19. jjmacjohnson

    Not sure if Buddism and hatred do not mix but violence has been a tradition of it’s past. Via wikipedia:

    One of the celebrated rituals in Tibetan Buddhism is the Tibetan monastic assassination in 841 of King Langdarma.

    Tibetan and Mongolian Buddism involved conquering and a warrior class.

    Time shave changed in general and that is for the better.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They had warrior monks in Japan, so fierce that Nobunaga burned to death hundreds of them in a mountain.

      In another mountain in China, the Shaolin monks were legendary warriors.

      It’s probably the same with all religious traditions. One can recall the Crusaders and their counterpart adversaries.

  20. Bruno Marr

    Those smart crows are the reason there a so many fewer songbirds near your home. They will raid any nest, even other crows. Urban scavengers of the worst sort.
    Hundreds caw and cackle in a grove near my home.

  21. JEHR

    We all know that when the ocean dies, humanity dies. We should be worried. Below is a link to a two-part series on what is happening to the ocean. It is scary stuff right from the mouths of the scientists who are studying the ocean.

    A large part of the problem is carbon dioxide absorption by the ocean which leads to acidification and death of some oceanic life forms to say nothing of “dead” zones where no oxygen is found, large amounts of floating plastic and garbage, overfishing, etc.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thank you for the link.

      Everything humans do, when done excessively, is destructive.

      Little radiation, raw sewage here and there, etc, – Nature can handle.

      Overpopulation of humans x overconsumption by humans x overindulgence for humans = misfortune for all.

    1. fresno dan

      “Turns out that M. campanulae was occasionally replacing plant resins with polyurethane-based exterior building sealant, such as caulking, in its brood cells—created in a nest to rear larva”
      Bob Villa would be proud – I wonder how much they save on their utility bills?

  22. kareninca

    A crow story, from a few days ago. When my husband comes home during the day, he will come down the walk squeaking squeaky balls to excite our dog. I was half dozing, waiting for his arrival, waiting for dog-playtime. I was awakened by the squeaks, early!!! Jumped up!!! Then I realized that it was the crows outside, imitating the squeaky ball noise; both types of squeaky ball noise. Damn crows!

    They have also learned to imitate the way my husband says my name, when he is trying to be annoying. Kkkkaaaaarrrrreeeeennnn . . . The first time I heard them imitate that I nearly fell over. The climate here is nice, and the patio door usually open, so they have a lot of opportunity to “listen in.”

    Last year I rescued a crow that was being attacked by its fellow crows. It was being punished, it was clear. I chased its attackers away. Well, that was probably stupid of me, it was probably the O.J.Simpson of crows.

    1. Synopticist

      When I was a kid we used to have a particular whistle for our dog, which a crow began to copy.
      We’d be outside when it would copy us, and our dog would charge around the corner, before looking really pissed off and disappointed, as only a border collie can.

  23. kareninca

    Here is an antidote, to go with the adorable lemurs.

    A few nights ago, my dog (golden retriever german shepherd mix, we think) wanted to go out to the patio area to pee. It was about 2 a.m.; she rushed out onto the patio, then paused and sniffed. She started to create a ferocious bark – then stopped in mid bark – and rushed back inside and refused to come back. I stood there for about a minute with my flashlight, and then, on the other side of the patio fence, I saw a very, very small calico cat get up from its spot in the foliage and walk away. I tried to get my dog to go back out and actually pee, but she was far too scared; she refused to go outside again until morning when it was light out and my husband was up, too.

    It was clearly a mountain lion in disguise; very clever of my dog for realizing that.

  24. savedbyirony

    Of course, as a catholic this drives me crazy: because if you happen to be a catholic actively involved in trying to help the poor and working class, especially if you are a vowed catholic sister, you may very well find the Office of the Inquisition (the CDF) “investigating” you and making threats. But taking a million dollars from the Koch Bros. for the the Bishop’s own sponsored University to co-opt and corrupt catholic social teachings -no doctrinal problem there! And i don’t see this state of affairs changing much under Francis because of steps he will take himself, though his presence is clearly already inspiring more catholics to speak and act-up, and that i think he truly endorses.

    1. Howard Beale IV

      Actually, in the inner album cover from the KBC Band, lies the truth:

      “Life is a test. Had this been a real life, you would have been told where to go and what to do.”

      1. Punchnrun

        But then there’s the saying in the army that goes something like “you have to go by the book when you don’t know what you’re doing.”

    1. psychohistorian

      I am frankly surprised that Matt Taibbi is still alive and able to write exposes like this….its a good one about the current manipulation of the commodities markets by the financial industry.

      So not only has the financial industry screwed the world by bankrupting the US dollar but they are in the process of screwing those that saw the screwing of the dollar and moved their investments to commodities (metals specifically).

      Just more of the WHOOOOCOUDDAANODE brought to you by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that ended the famed Glass-Steagall Act separating bankers and brokers.

      Whew! Read the article and answer for yourself why the rest of the sane world wants to bring down America’s empire…it can’t happen soon enough, IMO and it will be ugly.

      The next thought to have is what you think/thought of the Germans that supported Hitler? Do you feel a bit like them now, fellow Americans?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The problem is this expose is wrong in a lot of respects. He attributes the Goldman metals warehouse purchase go GLB. In fact, it was due to the Fed grandfathering some rights Goldman had as investment bank to participate in these activities for a few years after it got its banking license, and Goldman poking a stick in the Fed’s eye by doing the deal (the purpose of the grandfathering was to give Goldman more time to make an exit; the grandfathering is NOT permanent, contrary to the impression Taibbi gives).

        The much bigger issue is lack of Fed enforcement. JPM was supposed to get out of physical commodities years ago and seems to have been making “dog ate my homework” level excuses as to why it hadn’t sold the ops yet. The recent Senate hearings on this issue seem to have finally gotten the Fed to tell JPM enough is enough with the stalling tactics.

        Similarly, Taibbi calls a lot of deals “investments” and gives the impression they are owned by the banks when they are in fact infrastructure deals where the assets are sold to third party investors. The banks do NOT own them, although they do rip out a lot of fees.

        These errors are going to permit finance industry participants to use the article as proof that critics are uninformed and thus can be ignored.

        1. psychohistorian


          As a finance insider I trust your understanding of the details of these arrangements as being legal. But just like the Comcast/Time Warner merger of the two biggest cable providers, does any of this consolidation and crapificaton of the finance industry work for any but the plutocrats. You say that third party investors really held the commodity investments but are these any more than sham deals given the interlocking directorships and capital control at the top of our food chain? How does one get to be one of those third party investors?

          I guess I still support my contention that the trend of abuses brought on by rolling back Glass-Steagall is just handing more control to a corrupt financial sector and thought you have made that argument yourself before.

Comments are closed.