Links 2/13/14

900-Year-Old Viking Message Decoded, Reads ‘Kiss Me’ Huffington Post (Carol B)

Completed genome from Clovis-era skeleton proves Native American origins, scientists say Reuters

‘Mother Lode’ of Amazingly Preserved Fossils Discovered in Canada LiveScience (Chuck L)

Sid Caesar, pioneer of live television comedy, dies at 91 Los Angeles Times

French media goes crazy over rumor that President Obama and Beyonce are having an affair Daily Mail

The Limbo of Asian Markets New York Times. Lambert: “Note picture of boats.”

China offers cash to tackle air pollution Financial Times

China’s Jade Rabbit rover comes ‘back to life’ Yahoo (Lambert)

China’s iron ore build a dodgy dash for cash? MacroBusiness

China Banking Outlook 2014: A Turbulent Flight Ahead Standard & Poors (John Jansen)

World asleep as China tightens deflationary vice Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph (Scott)

Euro’s fate is now in Germany’s hands MarketWatch

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Pakistani Drone Victim, Who Has Sought to Hold CIA Accountable, Kidnapped & Disappeared Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

Internet governance declared ‘too US-centric’ Guardian

Facebook Deal on Privacy Is Under Attack New York Times

Rand Paul sues government over NSA spying Financial Times

French journalist “hacks” govt by inputting correct URL, later fined $4,000+ ars technica (Chuck L)

Utah Legislator Vows to Fight NSA by Cutting Off Its Water Supply The Wire (1SK)

Daily Meme: Northern Liberal Elites Are the Real Racists American Prospect. Um, if he had the target more specific, “Pandering Fauxgressive Political Operatives,” then it would probably be harder to take exception to Thomas’ point of view.

Whose Distressed Baby Is It? New Yorker (furzy mouse). Wow, Armstrong has a history of harassing women with costly pregnancies.

Propane, drying corn, and cold winter Angry Bear

Buffett’s Pal Munger Heads a Very Weird Company Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Luxury Fashion CEO Says The 99% Needs To Stop Whining Because They’re Better Off Than The Chinese Business Insider

Anti-Debt Group Happens To Be Nearly Broke Huffington Post. This is not an “anti debt” group. It is a Boomer hate group, as in stoking antipathy towards older people (explicitly) to justify budget cuts aimed at their “entitlements”. In other words, another “let’s make old people die faster” initiative.

Some Reasons for Guaranteeing Both an Income and Job Heteconomist

IMF Paper: No U.S. Manufacturing Renaissance WSJ Economics Blog (Scott)

Comcast Acquiring Time Warner Cable for $45 Billion Wall Street Journal. More crapification. An OK cable provider is to be bought by a terrible one.

Cisco unnerves with profit margin squeeze Financial Times

There is no such thing as the banking profession John Gapper, Financial Times

The Bank of England has confirmed that economic forecasting is basically impossible Quartz (Scott)

RealtyTrac: Monthly foreclosure filings reverse course, rise 8% Housing Wire. So far, just a blip in a long term downward trend.

This is nuts. When’s the crash? FT Alphaville

Death by Finance Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate

The Best Government Money Can Buy Counterpunch (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour. A 2012 flood picture, but still timely. Richard Smith adds: “A familiar sight from my school days, as it happens: a flooded towpath in Worcester, and lots of swans avoiding the fierce current out in the river.”


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    1. hunkerdown

      Maybe they have an arrangement like the Clintons might well have had. I mean, nobody gets to that level without an Off switch.

      1. participant-observer-observed

        Perhaps POTUS favored Wall St over FLOTUS and she had to stop smoking the hope and change pipe like the rest of us!

        Gives new meaning to the idea of Guantanamo internment!

  1. Klassy

    The Can Kicks Back! I had not checked out their facebook page in a while. Comedy gold. It is rather frustrating that this group has served itself up in a silver platter to comedians and I watch someone like Colbert and he is still delivering tired riffs on Fox News.
    They’re not that bright at the Can Kicks Back. I read this:

    “A recent Rolling Stone article argues that the Millennial generation should be fighting for guaranteed jobs, Social Security for all, and “make everything owned by everyone”.
    In response to the outrageous Stone article, the Wash Post’s Wonkblog published “Five Conservative Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For”.
    Would you fight for any of these proposed reforms?”
    Even if you had not read the first couple of paragraphs in the Dylan Mathews piece they linked to, it would have been clear that he simply refashioned the arguments for the policies described in the Rollingstone article to appeal to conservatives.

    1. squasha

      “(The only exception to this pattern appears to be, for some reason, France, where Gérard de Nerval used to walk a pet lobster on a leash and where Jean-Paul Sartre at one point became erotically obsessed with lobsters after taking too much mescaline.)”

      fantastic, thanks

        1. squasha

          might at times be a scream as well. they do say one party is always at least a little bit more in love than the other, seems like Mr “travel, polygamy, transparency” may have been merely tolerated at that love-in

  2. diptherio

    Re: Completed genome from Clovis-era skeleton proves Native American origins, scientists say–Reuters

    Because, obviously, all Native Americans must have descended from a single group of original migrants. There is absolutely no way that there might have been multiple migrations originating from several different places…nope, all Native Americans are obviously part of a single group, that came from a single place (outside NA) otherwise why would anthropologists refer to them as a such? [/snark]

    Gaaawd, what is so hard about thinking with a little bit of nuance? Anthropologists decided long ago that everyone in the Americas who didn’t show up on a ship from Europe post-Columbus, was a member of a single homogeneous group. This was simply because Anthropologists needed to fit these people into their racial hierarchy; but, of course, that contention had (and has) no basis in reality and was not supported by much in the way of facts. However, once having decided that all N. American inhabitants must share exactly the same ancestry, Anthropologists have ever since busied themselves with arguing over where, exactly, ALL Native Americans originated. Puh-leez.

    1. Garrett Pace

      What I wonder about is migration the other way. The Atlantic crossing is a lot easier from North America to Europe than vice verse, right? Surely some groups ended up there, much the way the Vikings did a millennium ago.

    2. Garrett Pace

      “Gaaawd, what is so hard about thinking with a little bit of nuance?”

      I don’t suppose anything is wrong with their brains – is it more to do with faction? Academic people seem to group themselves into camps and defend their territories assiduously.

    3. Binky Bear

      Anthropology and archaeology and physical anthropology all have different relationships with the empirically provable world. In this case we have phys anth evidence in the form of dna which links vast populations together by shared genetic markers. This is cutting edge human biology and is meaningful in the sense of biological relations. Still doesn’t get at the universe of social relations except through some really gross and cockamamey “inferences” based on outdated economics and unelucidated models of human behavior.
      Likewise the use of carbon dates to get ages for the elk bone rod and the human remains. Carbon dating is a tool derived from physics and very well researched and refined since Libby came up with it in the 1950s; now we count carbon atoms in a sample with a particle accelerator. But relating the carbon date to human behavior and depositional environment and correcting for natural biases (marine carbon reservoir, carbon reservoir differences, atmospheric carbon, contamination with dead carbon, use of fossil materials) is tough.

      The rub comes when we get these clues that are strong facts and we start slapping inferences, conjectures and wild fantasies onto the few solid data points that exist for the past. They took a quasi-fact ( there were few elk back then allegedly, no proof or backup data though) and the divergence in carbon dates between the elk bone rod and the human remains (without considering possible calibration and contamination issues common in carbon dating) and declare that the people who buried the kid had carried the elk bone around for 400 years because they thought it was important. Fwoar!
      From there they go off on a straight up Clan of the Cave Bears track that has little or no supporting data.

    4. craazyman

      what difference does it really make? they’re all dead

      But if somebody really wants to think about it, I bet they came from all over the place, even the sky!

      some stayed on, some wandered around, some flew home, some were even 9 feet tall and some just walked off the earth. some didn’t even leave a trace, and those are the really interesting ones.

      1. craazyman

        “But still there is more. It calls up the indefinite past. When Columbus first sought this continent—when Christ suffered on the cross—when Moses led Israel through the Red-Sea—nay, even, when Adam first came from the hand of his Maker—then as now, Niagara was roaring here. The eyes of that species of extinct giants, whose bones fill the mounds of America, have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now.”
        -Abraham Lincoln, Meditation on Niagra Falls, 1848

        I’m not making this up. What a riotous joke to debate whether they walked here across Alaska or took boats from Europe, when just who lived here is a topic shrouded in collosal ignorance.

      2. craazyman

        In addition to giants, there were also dwarfs. Most tribes had such legends. The New England tribes certainly did, as their oral folk histories attest. So did the Cherokees. These weren’t just made up stories, they were quite real.

        “The Native peoples of North America told legends of a race of “little people” who lived in the woods near sandy hills and sometimes near rocks located along large bodies of water, such as the Great Lakes. Often described as “hairy-faced dwarfs” in stories, petroglyphs illustrations show them with horns on their head and traveling in a group of 5 to 7 per canoe.”

        and blockheads are arguing over whether people 15000 years ago walked over Alaska or took a cruise ship from Yourup. hahahah

  3. joeshump

    Re Anti Debt Group (Yves commentary):

    I don’t know how sympathetic younger people will ever be towards the boomers. The boomers got to enjoy the party while it lasted, and now the Millennials have to deal with the mess.

    David Gergen was the commencement speaker at Ohio State when I graduated in 2010, this is basically what he said:

    “We screwed up! Our generation screwed up…It’s up to you guys now to go out there into the world and fix it.”

    Any idea how disillusioning that is?

    I would never say I want people to suffer/die, but it’s awfully hard to feel sympathy for a group of people who:

    -Stood by idly while the government was converted to a corporate-fascist state.
    -Made gazillions of unearned money through years of financial engineering, specifically designed to extract wealth from future generations.
    -Squandering/wasting of natural resources.
    -Went full retard with said money and resources — not to do anything great — but to buy junk. Mountains and mountains of junk. Not to educate people or create a more equitable society. But to buy junk.

    So don’t be surprised when there’s no sympathy for the boomers — they consumed/spent enough for four generations, and what do they have to show for it? Debt? Fascism? Poverty? Ignorance?

        1. psychohistorian

          I will dispute its underlying truthiness, as I am sure others will.

          I am an early boomer, now 65. I asked the same question about my parents generation. You know, the ones that allowed the motto of the US that had been good enough to last for 150 or so years to be changed from E pluribus unum to In god we trust. Why in the heck did they let that happen? It pretty much has been a slippery slope from there, right?

          Us early boomers stopped a very stupid war of empire but were not able to push the social organization further, but hey, not as many of us died as did those in the depression era that gave my parents the economic boom they thrived and brought us kids up under. But many were and still are co-opted and brainwashed by the tools of power and money that many still don’t see.

          And if you look seriously enough at the issue, your blaming the boomers is a continuation of that effort by TPTB, and it seems to be working for them again, right?

          The boomers are not your enemy. The class system of ongoing accumulation of wealth and control supported by stupid inheritance rules is your enemy, and mine. Please wake up and be clear about sickness inherent in the social organization that has been in control for the past five or more centuries.

          1. Massinissa

            “Us early boomers stopped a very stupid war of empire”

            Can I be rude? Thats BS. The elites stopped because they wanted to stop. You didnt stop ANYTHING. Thats why the goddamn war went on 10 damn years. The elites got tired of waging it, boomer protesters had NOTHING to do with it. They were the Reagan who told Gorbachov to take down the wall when the wall was already destined to come down, so they got the credit, thats all.

            If anyone stopped the war, it was the Viet Cong fighting for 10 years, not protesting boomers.

            Now, that caveat aside, I do agree with everything you said otherwise, ESPECIALLY the last sentence.

            Scapegoating boomers is pointless… Gets nowhere. I just dont like the whole “BOOMERS STOPPED VIETNAM!!!” meme, sorry.

            1. Brian

              He’s right you know. We were the only ones that stood up to our country to stop a war. It is one of the only times public opinion has risen from a small minority to take hold. And no, we the people, didn’t learn from the lesson. But we remember.

            2. Lord Koos

              You’re simply wrong. Boomers led the protests against the war, which were pretty effective in forcing the general public to take another look at what was going on. The protests didn’t really start until the late 60s when the draft went into high gear, so it’s not like we were protesting for 10 years. Taking to the streets in enough numbers can change things… just ask the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Ukraine, etc. Perhaps your generation should try it sometime instead of looking at your smart phones and blaming things on those who went before you. We all have to deal with whatever era we are born in. We boomers were lucky I suppose to have lived thru the peak of the American empire (and before the environment was so wasted) but much was decided before we were born. What was missing both then and now, was wise and uncorrupted leadership.

          2. taunger

            I used the Colbert word “truthiness” on purpose – I agree that TPTB are a far more culpable actor than “Boomers”, regardless of birthdate. I’ve never thought how far back TPTB could be realistically traced, but DuPont and certain British banking interests certainly meet span centuries, as you note.

            My point is that the OP sentiment “it’s hard to feel sympathy” feels true to me – I really have a hard time feeling sympathy to the liberal clods supporting US state terror in my neighborhood. And even less for the ones that support cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Soc. Sec. as part of some “political compromise.” But don’t worry – I have outright contempt for the water bearers of my generation ;)

        2. sleepy

          “-Stood by idly while the government was converted to a corporate-fascist state.
          -Made gazillions of unearned money through years of financial engineering, specifically designed to extract wealth from future generations.
          -Squandering/wasting of natural resources.
          -Went full retard with said money and resources — not to do anything great — but to buy junk. Mountains and mountains of junk. Not to educate people or create a more equitable society. But to buy junk.”

          I’ll dispute it. I think it’s silly and inaccurate to paint boomers in general with that broad brush as particularly characteristic of that generation. If I didn’t know the context, I would have no idea what or who you were referring to specifically.

          I can only speak on behalf of myself–born 1951–and my friends and associates. I have never identified with those generalities and neither have they. Those statements refer to a generalized economic and political oligarchy which continues to create injustice and which transcends generations. The boomers didn’t and don’t have some secret generational control over that oligarchy anymore than subsequent generations such as yours.

        3. Katniss Everdeen

          Well, I sure as hell will “dispute” said “truthiness.” And, by the way, a hack like David Gergen can only credibly claim to speak for all “boomers” because brain-dead members of whatever generation YOU claim buy it. You’re just another STUPID tool. It speaks volumes that you, with your Ohio State degree (I know I’M impressed) don’t even know it.

          Most boomers are members of the 99%. (99% is much greater than 1% in case you were recovering from a frat party the day they taught arithmetic at Ohio State.) The vast majority worked, paid their taxes (INCLUDING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE) and saved to send snotty, overindulged, permanently-adolescent whiners like you to college. (Where you needed five years instead of four to get through.)

          And what did we get for our trouble? A bunch of technology-addled, selfie-snapping thumb-typers and “tweeters” (Jeee-zus!!!) who demand million dollar bonuses for writing algorithms that rip off our savings and pension plans, manipulate our investments, jack up the cost of energy and demand cuts to our Social Security and Medicare as bail-outs when these “innovations” go to shit.

          Not quite the results we “boomers” were hoping for and nowhere near worth what it’s costing us.

          And here’s another thing. The guy whose making BILLIONS selling you out to the NSA, CIA, FBI, DEA and whatever else is 28. Got that? NOT A BOOMER.

          So, go ahead. Swallow whole what the Gergens and Druckenmillers and Petersons of the world are feeding you. They’ve already screwed you royally with student loans and you’re blaming us. I wonder what they have in store for YOU a few decades down the road. I’m sure it won’t be pretty.

          You want to take their side in this bogus generational war, fine. Just get the hell out of my basement and pay your utilities.

        1. Joe

          Be careful with that bag of Cheetos dear. If you keep waving them around you’ll get orange residue all over that nice education Mom and Dad bought you.

          Admit it; you’re just just pissed that we spent all that money that you thought you were going to inherit on LSD. Guess what? We don’t regret it. Wish we could say the same for you.

          You’re welcome,

          Signed The Old Farts That Paid For it All

          1. optimader

            “Be careful with that bag of Cheetos dear. If you keep waving them around you’ll get orange residue all over that nice education Mom and Dad bought you”

            that’s in the permanent file

          2. Boz

            I’m not here to defend his argument, but your silly response does nothing to squelch his preconceived notions. I

            1. Joe

              I responded to obvious troll bait in kind. I’ll be damned if I’ll respond to something that infantile and ignorant with anything that would be mistaken for serious.

              I hope he/she chokes on his/her preconceived notions.

              I’ll respond to comments as I see fit. I don’t require your permission.

          3. hunkerdown

            The nine scariest words in the English language: we choose your nursing home. We’ll probably staff it.

        2. Larry Headlund

          Let us go over your post in detail.

          David Gergen was the commencement speaker at Ohio State when I graduated in 2010

          David Bergen was born in 1942, so is not a baby boomer hence whatever he says about his generation, disillusioning or not, does not apply to the boomers.

          Stood by idly while the government was converted to a corporate-fascist state.

          Yeah, there were no protests or demonstrations by boomers. None whatsoever.

          Made gazillions of unearned money through years of financial engineering,

          All the boomers made gazillions through financial engineering? Where was my check?

          specifically designed to extract wealth from future generations

          Actually they didn’t care a bit where the money came from being solely concerned about where it went to (them). FYI it mostly came from, wait for it, boomers.

          Squandering/wasting of natural resources

          Yeah, there were no environmental or conservation movements before the millennials.

          Went full retard with said money and resources.

          Full retard was wit when Robert Downey said the line. With you, only half so

          they consumed/spent enough for four generations

          Median income has been flat since 1973, just when the boomers were coming of age. Just how have they consumed four times as much as other generations?

          and what do they have to show for it? Debt? Fascism? Poverty? Ignorance?

          All four of which were, of course, unknown before the Baby Boom.

    1. Massinissa

      One question though: How does blaming boomers HELP us get out of the mess exactly?

      Oh, I just realized, it doesnt do DAMN SHIT, except maybe make you feel a little better.

      Stop bellyaching about who is to blame and start bellyaching on how to actually address the problem?

      (Not a boomer. I think im one of the younger commentators here at 21)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You’re 21?!?!

        You sound like a wise 50 years old.

        Yes, who doesn’t make mistakes?

        No one is perfect.

        If the boomers screwed up, learn from them and know this – often, good is possible because, or precise because there is evil. So, here is the chance for the next (and the next after that) generation.

        1. sufferin' succotash

          As a pre-Korean War Boomer (5/4/50) I think my age group has been a disappointment but not for some of the reasons given above. Certainly the 1945-64 age cohort has no monopoly on hoggish consumption. Its particular problem was/is the apparent hypocrisy of producing a lot of idealistic-sounding noise back in the 60s and then going in for hoggish consumption. As for Vietnam, my reading as a former antiwar protestor is that the relationship between the movement and the withdrawal from Vietnam was incidental at best. The antiwar movement probably did play a role in stopping an escalation of the war in 1967-68, but getting out of Vietnam was a Nixon-Kissinger Production, with the protestors cast as scapegoats.

        2. eeyores enigma

          The reason it matters is because without a massive redistribution program, which the boomers will be the largest demographic involved on the giving side (obviously the 10%, 1%, and .01%, will need to put in more but represent a much smaller number of people) then from here on out it all just a monumental and horrific game of economic musical chairs to the DEATH disproportionally represented by the rotting corpses of the young.

          The issue is what does the blame mean? Do we blame and then hate? Obviously not. But the boomers do need to acknowledge that their prosperity is the direct result of luck. Luck at being born at the right time in history. Most of all they NEED to acknowledge the fact that they do not just now get to sit back and heap the blame on all generations to follow telling them to suck it up and get busy.

          The key to future stability of our nation lies in the hands of the boomers more than any other group and they simply can not just sit back and watch and BLAME.

          A 57 year old who has lived a fortunate life.

          1. sleepy

            Do boomers really blame the young?

            Most folks my age–born 1951–have children and grandchildren who are having a very difficult time of it economically, and recognize that fact. Imho, most also recognize that times for the young are far more difficult than when they were young.

            And the 70s weren’t exactly economic boomtimes either, but still far better for the young than now.

          2. Larry Headlund

            The reason it matters is because without a massive redistribution program, which the boomers will be the largest demographic involved on the giving side

            It may be a little late for a redistribution program from the boomers. If you are going to redistribute the fruits of production (which is all there ever is to redistribute) then it is well to pick people who are producing. The problem is that the boomers are rapidly leaving the productive pool. The oldest boomers are around 70, the youngest 50. Labor force participation peaks around 50 (epi) and falls below half the workforce by 66, So we are past peak for all of the boomers.

            You could institute policies designed to keep people working longer but this does not seem to be a good policy in a period of persistently high unemployment.

            That leaves claims one group has on the productivity of others: wealth. If you go where the money is then in the US the top 1% have 37% of the wealth and the next 19% have 50%, Generational issues fade compared with these figures. Further, much of the ‘wealth’ of the lower groups is in the value of their homes which is not income producing, not a claim on the productivity of others.

            1. eeyores enigma

              “f you are going to redistribute the fruits of production (which is all there ever is to redistribute)”

              This is strawman BS.

              The bulk of the so called productive economy is not production, it is MONEY making MONEY. (Plug debt and credit into that equation).

              Those who have secured assets, capital, savings, credit, not to mention production, OWN the future and get to decide how that future plays out.

              It’s not about instituting policies. It is about a fundamental understanding of where we are, where we are currently headed, and then EVERYONE working to make this deflationary, end of growth, power down paradigm happen in the least violent way.

              Most who are what would be considered “in a comfortable financial situation” will come up with some kind of rationalization or out right dismissal of this reality but they do this at their own risk.

              Do you want your golden years to be spent sitting in a chair in the basement with a rifle across your lap?

              1. Larry Headlund

                Those who have secured assets, capital, savings, credit, not to mention production, OWN the future and get to decide how that future plays out.

                Those are all claims on production in some form.

    2. reslez

      If an arsonist breaks into your house, ties you to your bed, and starts a fire, is it your fault when your house burns down? How much of the blame really belongs to you? Well, maybe you could have installed expensive polycarb windows to prevent him breaking in. Maybe you could have overpowered your bonds and stopped him before he lit the match. But to say the responsibility is entirely with the homeowner overlooks the obvious obstacles intentionally put before him to prevent him from acting.

      You could easily say the same applies to the Boomers, by which I mean the American public at large. Sure, some blame for the state of the country applies to citizens in general. But they have the burden of not only acting correctly, but also overcoming those who oppose them, who actively seek to make the public as powerless as possible. That said, obviously we need to move forward from where we are and stop our house from burning down (as it were). But it’s also important to recognize where the blame lies to defuse some of the helplessness and negativity out there.

      1. harry

        Its your country – who else would you suggest blaming?
        Someone voted for all this nonsence. And if they didnt they failed to throw the bums out.

        I call that culpability.

        1. lambert strether

          Generations don’t vote. If they did, they’d have lobbyists, which us why the failure of KTC, a lobbying group, shows the vacuity of generational classification as an analytical tool in politics. Just strategic hate management by looters.

    3. different clue

      David Gergen lies when he says “his generation”. He shines the spotlight on “his generation” in order to keep the cameras away from his social class masters and betters. The Youngers who fall for “the boomers diddit” are like the cats who chase a laser pointer dot wherever the laser master aims it. They deserve zero sympathy right back. Are they tools or fools or possibly both? Do mirrors crack with laughter when they walk by?

    4. lambert strether

      Any sentence pronounced by David Gergen with the word “we” in it, I have to question. Couldn’t you have produced a more credible authority for your argument in favor of bigotry and hate?

    5. Benedict@Large

      What you are referring to is called “intergenerational accounting”. Intergenerational accounting is fraudulent economics designed with the sole purpose of poisoning the young against their parents and grandparents. Read Wray, Mitchell, and other MMTers who have addressed this issue, and destroyed this left-over monetarist garbage.

    6. davidgmills

      I think this was a great rant. Wrong, but still great because your frustration gushes forth.

      I am a boomer born 8/5/50. There is no doubt our parent’s generation gave many of us a lot to work with. We got cheap and very good educations, and that is what I mean by a lot. Some, unfortunately, didn’t even get that; and they really struggled. So what little those of us in the 99% ever acquired, we earned; and as other posters have commented, by the time we got into the job arena after school, for most of us, things were already on the downside.

      My own story in brief — as an anecdotal example. I was a personal injury lawyer for 35 years. I got my JD and license in 1977, a little late, due to a two year career deviation in grad school. But by 1978, the very brief hey-day of Plaintiff’s lawyers was already over, except for a few places in the US, and I wasn’t anywhere near those jurisdictions. By then, almost all the pickins’ that were left in the legal profession had begun to go to the lawyers who represented corporations, and who now dominate our federal and state benches. (See Senator Warren’s website for the latest update on the status of that).

      But I am concerned for my kids and grandkids. Very concerned. They are living tough lives, but most importantly the lives of limited hope. At least we had some hope of betterment, naive as it was. So I share your concern, but don’t think I deserve the blame you throw at me and most of the boomers I know.

  4. financial matters

    I think this is an interesting idea. Dollar swap lines while helping to prop up foreign currencies would seem to be anti-austerity and therefore also anti typical IMF policy,–leaving-no-global-lender-of-last-resort

    The Dollar and the Damage Done


    “The other development was the decision to make permanent the dollar swap arrangements put in place during the financial crisis by the Fed, the European Central Bank, and the central banks of Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Japan. Under these arrangements, the Fed stands ready to provide dollars to this handful of favored foreign central banks – an acknowledgment of the dollar’s unique role in international financial markets. Because international banks, wherever they are located, tend to borrow in dollars, the swap arrangements allow foreign central banks to lend dollars to their local banks in times of emergency.

    “But the US has offered to provide dollars only to a privileged few. And in its policy statements and actions, it has refused to acknowledge its broader responsibility for the stability of the world economy.

    So what should the Fed do differently? First, it should immediately negotiate permanent dollar swap lines with countries such as South Korea, Chile, Mexico, India, and Brazil.

    If US policymakers are worried about these issues, their only option is to agree to quota increases for the IMF, thereby allowing responsibility for international financial stability to migrate back to where it belongs: the hands of a legitimate international organization.”

  5. Vatch

    Regarding the article “Luxury Fashion CEO Says The 99% Needs To Stop Whining Because They’re Better Off Than The Chinese”: Perhaps the 1% should stop whining whenever someone proposes raising the top marginal income tax rate. After all, the top 1% in the U.S. are vastly better off than the Chinese (or the Bangladeshis or the Ethiopians or the …. U.S. 99%). I see that the CNBC lick-spittle agreed with the fashion CEO. It’s nice that the article contains reminders about other idiotic statements by ultra arrogant wealthy people.

    Class warfare always seems to be started by the Haves, although it isn’t called “class warfare” until the Have-Nots become fed up and actually try to defend themselves against the acts of class war committed by the Haves.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Without class (upper/middle/lower), there is no class warfare.

      That’s the best way to peace.

      1. cwaltz

        I’m all for that. We should just tax the crap out of this a$$hole until he’s worth around $35,000. I mean at that value he’d still be richer than most of the poor in the world.

        Let some of these jerks choke on their own words. Tax em’ until their net value is worth everybody else here(where they’ll still be better off according to their own words.)

      2. optimader

        “Without class ”

        With the exception of StarTrek hypothetical, I cant think of a Society that ever achieved a society “without class”.
        There will always be an “equal class’ and a “more equal class”, it is fact of human (as well other animals) nature.
        File under: Animal Farm–Seven Commandments of Animalism, abridged, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think it depends on the tolerance in the definition.

          A society can be without classes when no one is, say 50% or 100% or even 1,000%, 2,000% richer than the poorest (which can happen through age-accumulation alone), or a society can be classes with the richest no more than 5% richer.

          When it gets to a billion versus a few thousand, it’s not classless.

          1. optimader

            “or a society,,,with the richest no more than 5% richer. ”

            I cant think of a Society that ever achieved “with the richest no more than 5% richer.”.
            Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s as much an unworkable Utopian dream as continuous wealth aggregation in the top 0.1% is unsustainable long term. Eventually the “currency” become worthless in both cases.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You’re right and I am more inclined to go with the more inclusive definition, to allow for age-accumulation.

              1. optimader

                What is a reasonable strategy in the structure of your current legal framework, by my way of thinking anyway, is the ungaming of the system. I think much of obscene distortion of wealth is a DIRECT result of unprosecuted and pervasive fraud.
                Electing political Representation that will initiate William K. Black adroitly termed “control fraud” prosecutions would be a huge step toward influencing a more natural distribution of economic winners and loosers, wherein the economic loosers, whatever teir circumstance could be addressed in a humane manner.

                I think we can agree that the economic model we are domestically subject to wherein the majority of the society (middleclass) is stovepiped into economic looserdom reeks of a system gamed by special interests.

                Age related class warfare is ignorant.
                “All babyboomers must die” should be considered an actuarial fact, not a call to arms.

                Incidentally, from upthread, who gives a Flying F what David Gergen has to say!?!. He is a Breakfast/lunch/dinner circuit retreaded Court Cipher circa Nixon admin.

        2. psychohistorian

          Now there is a TINA argument if I ever read one.

          Given what the global plutocrats are doing to our world, maybe its time to take a chance and find out if we can organize society differently.

          If you don’t believe so, can you at least get out of the way of us that want to try, please and thank you?

          1. hunkerdown

            Au contraire, we have organized society in many different forms over the course of history, and the present-day acephalistic societies of the Pashtun are subjects of some study. It’s just that the combinations of infantilizing religions and empire, evangelism and authority, carrot and stick make for a most effective apex predator, especially if the prey believes they’re “competing” in a fight, with genuine rules and referees and recourse.

            Unfortunately, the status of apex predator brings with it a certain sense of divine entitlement even under the best of circumstances — there’s always some Augustine of Hippo theologically pandering to the patricians and steering dozens of generations wrong. When the dominant narrative is some variation of TINA, as it is in American Exceptionalism by way of “we must be the alternative”, waiting for the end of empire generally reduces to waiting for resource or pollution crises to open the window for some opportunistic Visigoths.

  6. TarheelDem

    The Bank of England has confirmed that economic forecasting is basically impossible.

    I guess that means that weather forecasting is possible only because the atmosphere does not read the weather reports.

  7. fresno dan
    I never get tired of reading about the vampire squid – you gotta hand it to them, they are masters at scr*wing us. Do we liked being scr*wed…in such a bad way???

    “And last summer, The New York Times described how Goldman Sachs was caught systematically delaying the delivery of metals out of a network of warehouses it owned in order to jack up rents and artificially boost prices.

    You might not have been surprised that Goldman got caught scamming the world again, but it was certainly news to a lot of people that an investment bank with no industrial expertise, just five years removed from a federal bailout, stores and controls enough of America’s aluminum supply to affect world prices.”

    Why does Goldman Sachs remind me so much of a football, Charlie Brown, and Lucy???

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Bonus!!! Two Clinton-era gifts that keep on giving in the spotlight today–Gramm-Leach-Bliley and the Media Consolidation enabled Comcast monopoly.

      We need more like this!

      HILLARY in 2016.

      1. Jim Haygood

        The queen is gone but she’s not forgotten
        This is the story of Hillary Rotten:
        It’s better to PORK OUT than to fade away
        My my, hey hey

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thanks for this link, Chitown. Hugely disturbing article by Matt Taibbi. These guys want to control the world and us, and they appear to be well on their way to doing so.

      Thankfully, it appears opposition is building in Congress to stymie their TPP initiative that they could use to shield themselves from their schemes being undone, whether through enforcement of anti-trust and racketeering laws, environmental regulations, etc.

      The span of control over our lives that these people are building with Fed cash makes the huge trusts that TR dismantled look like a quaint anachronism.

    3. JTFaraday

      “Gramm quietly added another time b*mb to the law, a grandfather clause, which said that any company that became a bank holding company after the passage of Gramm-Leach-Bliley in 1999 could engage in (or control shares of a company engaged in) commodities trading – but only if it was already doing so before a seemingly arbitrary date in September 1997.

      This meant that if you were a bank holding company at the time the law was passed and you wanted to get into the commodities business, you were out of luck, because the federal law prohibited banks from being involved in physical commodities or any other forms of heavy industry. But if you were already a commodities dealer in 1997 and then somehow became a bank holding company, you could get into whatever you pleased…

      For nearly a decade, this obscure provision of Gramm-Leach-Bliley effectively applied to nobody. Then, in the third week of September 2008, while the economy was imploding after the collapses of Lehman and AIG, two of America’s biggest investment banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, found themselves in desperate need of emergency financing. So late on a Sunday night, on September 21st, to be exact, the two banks announced they had applied to the Federal Reserve to become bank holding companies, which would give them lifesaving access to emergency cash from the Fed’s discount window.

      The Fed granted the requests overnight. The move saved the bacon of both firms, and it had one additional benefit: It made Goldman and Morgan Stanley, which both had significant commodity-trading operations prior to 1997, the first and last two companies to qualify for the grandfather exemption of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. “Kind of convenient, isn’t it?” says one congressional aide. “It’s almost like the law was written specifically for them.””

      Well, I’m sure it was. I always figured GS crashed itself so that it could derive the benefits of being a “bank holding company,” without actually having to serve as a bank holding company, knowing it already had its bailout nest well feathered with public servants, not least Hank Paulson, temporarily in for for the Rubinites.

      Who knew it was a two-fer.

      You know, honestly, people have met with firing squads for much less than this in other dysfuntional countries.

    4. Garrett Pace

      The sense I get is they didn’t need to repeal Glass-Steagell to get away with all this. By co-opting regulatory and law enforcement processes they can do whatever they want. Laws are just words on paper.

  8. fresno dan

    I’m glad people are reading about it!
    And because I can’t resist
    “Rich made these reported deals while in exile from the United States, which he fled in 1983 after the U.S. government charged him with tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering and trading with the enemy after being caught trading with rogue states like Iran, among other things. The state filed enough counts to put him away for life, and he remained a fugitive until January 2001, when a little-known Clinton administration Justice Department official named Eric Holder recommended Rich be pardoned. A report by the House Committee on Government Reform later concluded that Holder had not provided a credible explanation for supporting Rich’s pardon and that he must have had “other motivations” that he didn’t share with Congress. Among other things, the committee speculated that Holder had designs on the attorney general’s office in a potential Al Gore administration.

    In any case, in 2010, a decade after the Rich pardon, Holder was attorney general, but under Barack Obama, and two Rich-created firms, along with two banks that have been major donors to the Democratic Party, all made moves to buy up metals warehouses. In near simultaneous fashion, Goldman, Chase, Glencore and Trafigura bought companies that control warehouses all over the world for the LME, or London Metals Exchange. The LME is a privately owned exchange for world metals trading. It’s the world’s primary hub for determining metals prices and also for trading metals-based futures, options, swaps and other instruments.”

    GET the BAD PUN – its two RICHES screwing us…the RICH and MARC RICH.
    (yes, I’m gong to the worst circle of hell – the one reserved for people who make bad, bad puns…)

    1. bob

      Holder and Issa. Both the “cops” on the beat in DC. Telfon…

      Let’s ask outright- What would Holder have to do to be thrown it Jail? Anything?

  9. Massinissa

    “99% need to stop whining because theyre better off than the chinese.”

    For now, anyway. How much longer, I do wonder?

    Anyway, when we reach wage parity to China, he will probably change the metaphor to Haitians or Indonesians or who knows what. Race to the bottom, folks! Make sure to tone down any expectations you had of a secure life!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not the 99% are better than the Chinese (because hopefully one day, the 99% of every country can be better than where they are today), but the 99% justifiably have a case that people have been oppressed by the 0.01%.

      Nice try for the author of that quote to shift the topic.

      1. psychohistorian

        The global plutocrats own all the microphones so what else do you expect to hear?

        And the merger of Comcast/Times Warner is a further consolidation of media that the Comcast CEO says is good for competition and good for consumers……..and we all believe that right? After all that is what faith is for and our motto now is In God We Trust. And if you can’t trust the bankers doing God’s work then well, what is there left to believe in?………grin

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The best government money can buy.

    If government has as much money as it wants, why does it have to sell itself for (more) money? How can you buy a government if that government can create as money as it wishes?

    If a person has infinity money, or OK, say, just a billion dollars, would he or she sell him/herself for $1,000/night?

    Talk about government inefficiency (to put it mildly).

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Good article with lots of good links.

      Apparently our best hope for “world peace” is to pack the pentagon with incompetents, and let them spend the entire budget on planes and things that don’t work.

  11. Jim Haygood

    ‘The Parable of Argentina’ — from The Economist, via La Nación in Buenos Aires:

    The February 15th issue, titled “The Parable of Argentina,” is accompanied by a caustic, ironic subtitle about current government policy. “What other countries can learn from one hundred years of decline,” reads the caption, next to an image showing the back of Lionel Messi’s soccer jersey.

    In a recent note, The Economist warned that the government of Cristina Kirchner “is struggling to stay on its feet.” The article, a review of events in the last months of 2013 (police protests, constant power cuts, rising inflation, fiscal deficits in the provinces and dwindling reserves), mentions that “the combination political lethargy and economic fragility raises doubts about the precarious situation of the country,” in a context described as a “summer of discontent.”

    Days later it took another shot at the country, referring to the “weak economies” of Argentina and Venezuela, where — it declared — “the party is over.” According to the article, the two countries “are reaching a tipping point.”


    So we can’t print our way to prosperity? Crap, back the drawing board!

    1. psychohistorian

      I stream online Jazz and they occasional play Caesar’s ditty about hip and Shakespeare’s Brutus speech…..”……so don’t put Caesar down.” Very well done.

      I salute you as well Caesar!

    1. financial matters

      It seems difficult to channel investment into productive activities rather than financial products. I think changes in tax incentives can be useful here. I thought this was a good comment.
      Against Regressive Taxation
      September 28, 2013
      By Fadhel Kaboub

      Robert Avila | September 29, 2013
      What I cannot figure out is why economists have never made a stronger case for progressive taxation and the graduated income tax. The US became the world’s dominant economy led by a vast array of strong creative corporate enterprises during the period from 1917 through the 1970s when the US had an income tax system that was, by today’s standards, confiscatory at upper income levels. I believe the case can be made that the progressive income tax was a highly successful solution to the agency problem: that the tax system fostered corporate governance that greatly discouraged corporate executives from using their governance position primarily as means of building their personal fortune, that with today’s historically low marginal tax rate every corporate executive has an incentive, in what ever way possible, to transfer as much corporate resources as he or she can into their own personal account and then to invest that money in private equity funds that engage in the same practice of transferring corporate assets in to private holdings.

      Under the highly progressive graduated income tax along with the lower LONG TERM capital gains tax executives had the incentive to build strong viable institutions. At the same time corporate governance could be relaxed enabling executives a great deal creative freedom to act because the incentive to put personal gain ahead of corporate gain was greatly reduced.

      This is not an argument about “unjust” allocation of social resources, or even one in favor of the so called “greed tax”. Rather it is an argument based on aligning incentives with institutional objectives and the efficiency of investments. The highly progressive graduated income tax was a remarkably simple solution to the classic agency problem that strengthened US economic institutions. Without it the incentives of corporate executives in finance and commercial enterprise are continuously compromised.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Rather than what is it, this is what it should be:

        1. Money should be created by the people spending it into existence*, not by the government spending it into existence.

        2. As such, the government is like a household.

        3. Consequently, the government has a self-interest to want to tax more.

        In addition, the focus should be on wealth tax, not income tax.

        Given all these, taxing wealth is the way to go.

        And that wealth tax money should be set aside in a separate trust account to be given the poor as soon as it comes in every quarter, and not for the government to spend it on war or surveillance.

        * Money can be created by the people’s spending it into existence by 1. giving newly created money to them in cash or 2. by crediting their accounts at their banks.

    2. Massinissa

      And if they take money from peoples bank accounts, they will probably skip the accounts with over a million euros. Well to be fair, all the bank accounts with that kind of money are probably in the Caymans anyway.

      1. financial matters

        Yes, this seems more similar to China’s ‘wealth products’ rather than a true ‘bail-in’. They convince you to put money into a riskier product rather than a guaranteed savings account. Actually somewhat similar to money market funds which are true mutual funds which can lose value ie ‘break the buck’.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China, cash to tackle air pollution.

    Hopefully, they avoid money-burning schemes that will just add more carbon into the air.

  13. diptherio

    Here’s a report from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies’ recent conference on building the Worker-Cooperative and Solidarity Economic sectors in NYC:
    A Call to Develop the Worker Co-op Sector in NYC ~John Lawrence, GEO

    And here’s some deep thinking from Michael Johnson about what he learned from a “near death experience” at the 1968 Columbia University “student rebellion”. It’s a riveting story:
    Tales of Two Under-Cultures, part 2

  14. optimader


    February 12, 2014
    Right of Return

    2014: Centuries after King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella banished all practicing Jews from the kingdom of Spain, the country has passed a law that will make it easier for descendants of Sephardim expelled in the 15th century to acquire Spanish citizenship. Under the new law, applicants will be allowed to retain citizenship of their home countries while simultaneously becoming Spaniards. The Telegraph reports:

    “The law we’ve approved has a deep historic meaning: not only because it concerns events in our past of which we should not be proud, like the decree to expel the Jews in 1492, but because it reflects the reality of Spain as an open and plural society,” Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said after the cabinet approved the draft law last Friday.

    Prospective applicants must prove their Sephardic background through their surnames, language or ancestry and get a certificate from the federation of Jewish communities in Spain.

    Applicants do not have to be practising Jews, Mr Gallardon said and those who have knowledge of the Ladino language – the Judeo Spanish tongue spoken by the Sephardic Jews – will also be considered.

    1492: Having already obtained a papal bull that made it easier for predominantly Catholic Spain to restrict the movement and activities of the country’s Jews, Ferdinand and Isabella took their anti-Semitism one step further in 1492, when they issued an edict ordering all Jewish Spaniards to convert or get out:

    Notwithstanding that we were informed of the great part of this before now and we knew that the true remedy for all these injuries and inconveniences was to prohibit all interaction between the said Jews and Christians and banish them from all our kingdoms, we desired to content ourselves by commanding them to leave all cities, towns, and villages of Andalusia where it appears that they have done the greatest injury, believing that that would be sufficient so that those of other cities, towns, and villages of our kingdoms and lordships would cease to do and commit the aforesaid acts. And since we are informed that neither that step nor the passing of sentence of condemnation against the said Jews who have been most guilty of the said crimes and delicts against our holy Catholic faith have been sufficient as a complete remedy to obviate and correct so great an opprobrium and offense to the faith and the Christian religion, because every day it is found and appears that the said Jews increase in continuing their evil and wicked purpose wherever they live and congregate.

  15. Mark P

    Jesse (of Jesse’s Cafe) was all over this when it was happening to give him his props. (Metals, after all, are his bailiwick.)

  16. F. Beard

    Here ya go, ye fearful naysayers:

    Graphene’s love affair with water: Water filters allow precise and fast sieving of salts and organic molecules

    Here’s a miracle: Graphene will block HELIUM (!!!) but allows H2O to pass without resistance!

    You shall NOT have the excuse of resource depletion to deflect you from matters of justice – such as abolishing the government-backed banking cartel?

    The faithful shall go from wealth to even more wealth while the fearful (and proud) shall go from poverty to even worse poverty?

    1. optimader

      If your interested in this science Beard, it’s referred to as a “molecular sieve”, you have a pinch in your Britta (or equiv) water filter in the form of zeolite or activated alumina.
      It’s an interesting field of materials engineering (to me).

    2. skippy

      The natural replenishment cycle is what determines the usage rates – not what tech – we can use to try and over come that epoch old mechanism. As potable water is only 1% of the total supply, you might want to scale that need.

      1. Optimader

        The natural replenishment cycle is what (should) determines the usage

        Promising technology for special application does not necessarily scale up to be a magic bullet substitute for missing mountain snow pack in California

          1. skippy


            I can’t hear you… I’ve got the blow dryer on… give me another glass of water. – Robin Williams redux

            skippy… (should) – is problematic when seeking Justus… oops… Justice.

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