Links 2/27/14

[Yves asks me to tell you that she’s sick. –lambert]

Now that’s a purr-fect paradise! Man with 18 cats spends $35,000 to turn his home into a pet playground Daily Mail

Population of Known Alien Planets Nearly Doubles as NASA Discovers 715 New Worlds Space. Yes, and they’ll probably let us off Earth when they think we’re good and ready.

Virus that caused flu pandemic dominates again New Scientist

China hard landing fears return Macrobusiness

TPP Talks Fizzle Again under Broad Opposition Eyes on Trade

Where Did the Bitcoins Go? The Mt. Gox Shutdown, Explained Businessweek. Glibertarians call for government regulation so their free market can function at all; too delicious. Also too.

Can bitcoin capitalize on the death of Mt Gox? Felix Salmon, Reuters

JPMorgan, Goldman, 16 Other Firms to End Analyst Previews Bloomberg

US senators rebuff Credit Suisse arguments over tax allegations FT

The Secrecy and Perks Of Credit Suisse’s Offshore Bank Accounts Online WSJ

Regulator probes Ocwen ‘conflicts of interest’ FT

Foreclosures Surging in New York-New Jersey Market Bloomberg

Mortgage applications at lowest level in two decades The Center of the Universe

Study: More than half of U.S. housing wealth concentrated in 10 percent of communities WaPo

When Measuring Mobility, Location Still Matters The Equitablog

The foie gras bubble FT Alphaville

The Costs of Bad 401(k) Plans Baseline Scenario

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Breaking Up the NSA Bruce Schneir

Richard Clarke: NSA revelations show potential for police state TechTarget

White House Weighs Options for Revamping NSA Surveillance WSJ

RSA protests by DEF CON groups, Code Pink draw ire CNet

FBI Never Revealed It Had Al Qaeda Mole Who Met Bin Laden NBC

How the Fed Let the World Blow Up in 2008 Atlantic

Guest Contribution: “The Obama Stimulus and the 5-Year Anniversary of Market Turnaround” Econbrowser

Most Democrats Want Clinton to Run in 2016 Times. I guess the hopey change thing didn’t work out, then?


Poll: For Right Price, Consumers Will Accept Limited Choice Of Doctors, Hospitals KHN. Remember “If you like your doctor…”? Good times.

BREAKING: National Quality Forum CEO Cassel cutting ties to Kaiser, Premier Modern HealthCare. Casell shouldn’t “cut ties,” she should resign in shame. But one Flexian perk is the surgical removal of shame glands.

A General Theory of Obamacare Fiction Paul Krugman, Times. Krugman should check his intellectual honesty; there’s a lot more at stake than putting a W in Team D’s column. Whoever causes one of these good NPR-listening liberals to stumble….

Publishers withdraw more than 120 gibberish papers Nature (Furzy Mouse)

The truth about the great American science shortfall LA Times. STEM takedown.

Global Unrest

Armed men seize Crimea parliament and hoist Russian flag Guardian

Sustaining Ukraine’s Breakthrough George Soros, Project Syndicate

Everything you know about Ukraine is wrong Pando Daily

Venezuelan intelligence agents arrested over murder of protesters Guardian

30,000 Protesters Take To The Streets in Nantes, France Prudent Investor

Get Ready for a Bloody End Game in Thailand Business Week

Thais bring children to the insurrection, despite recent deaths Global Post

Yingluck’s Affinity with the Police and Thailand’s Divided Security Sector China Policy Institute Blog

Thai Farmers Lose Pickup Trucks as Protests Raise Debt Risk Bloomberg

USDA farming census: Maine has more young farmers, more land in farms BDN. So it would be nice if corporations didn’t destroy their Common Pool Resources.

Fukushima’s Radioactive Ocean Water Arrives At West Coast LiveScience

But [Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Mass.] thinks even low levels of contamination merit monitoring, both for human health information and for the wealth of data about Pacific Ocean currents such monitoring could provide. On Jan. 14, he launched a website called “How Radioactive is Our Ocean?”, where the public can make tax-deductible donations to support the analysis of existing water samples, or propose and fund new sampling locations along the West Coast.

Hey, I’ve got an idea! Why don’t we hold a bake sale?

The Future of the News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All in One Place Marc Andreesen, Andreesen Horowitz. Talking his book, but it’s interesting that is his book.

The Rent Seeker, Posing as Visionary Streetwise Professor (Big Picture). Zuck, is that you?

Antidote du jour:


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


      1. Howard Beale IV

        Sorry, I’m not buying that pic. When Giant Panda’s are born, they’re the size of a stick of butter and they’re pink. No how, no way is that real.

  1. Hugh

    So Blackrock was “surveying” analysts to get information ahead of the rest of investors, i.e. engaging in insider trading and all Schneiderman gets out of it is a few hundred thou to cover the expenses of the investigation, no admission of any wrongdoing, and a pact not to do it again which other market players sign on to. I guess the real risk here was that the C level management of these companies might die laughing.

    As for Richard Clarke, we already have a surveillance state and a surveillance is a police state. So there is no question of potential involved.

    The thing to look for in Ukraine is a breakup with the Russian speaking regions in the East plus the Crimea seceding, leading to a possible Russian intervention in them. We have already seen this scenario play out in Georgia.

    It is interesting the dearth of leadership in both political parties that the Republicans can only run cartoon caricatures and the Democrats have only a retread of a retread like Hillary. I tend to look at this as an aspect of late stage kleptocracy where no one at the national level can even pretend to arrive at that level without being completely corrupted. I agree Obama put the nail in the coffin of the whole hopey changey line.

  2. Steve H.

    Re: The truth about the great American science shortfall LA Times. STEM takedown

    When Sputnik went up, the Federal Government responded with a massive influx of money to fund research in the hard sciences. The U.S. was dominant in science & engineering for decades after this, and the overflow led to a great deal of understanding in the social sciences.

    When Clinton whacked the EPA budget by about a third, there were two effects. People with experience were on the market (worker supply went up), while likelihood of enforcable action went down (industry need for those workers dropped).

    The point is that Federal investment is a great driver of market forces in science and technology. Following are quotes from a recent article from the local paper; I live in Bloomington, home to a major research university. At the current rate, NIH grants will drop to Zer0 within nine years. Incoming graduate student numbers are dropping in kind, since 1) there may not be funding to complete the degree, and 2) there may not be money to run the equipment the student is supposedly training on or developing. The LA Times article seems to simply focus on market forces, without noting the collapse of government interest in development.
    ” At IU, funding from the National Institutes of Health has fallen from about $220 million in 2010 to around $163 million in 2013.

    So, incoming classes have fluctuated, drastically in some cases, depending on the department. The graduate numbers in molecular biology dropped from a yearly range of about 15 to 17 students to a new norm of 12. Chemistry reduced from 55 in 2012 to 22 the following year, though the number will increase in 2014. Enrollment of graduate students in physics might decrease a slot or two next year.

    “The level of funding right now is eroding what will be available to the field in 10 or 15 years. ”


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Presumably, Made-In-America science is of the same quality as Made-In-India science.

      Science is science.

      But if an ounce of Made-In-Russia science is less costly than an ounce of Made-In-US science, any smart capitalist knows to go for the cheaper ounce.

      1. hunkerdown

        That assumes pricing is an accurate, comprehensive piece of information. No price is too much to get a needed result, or there wouldn’t be think tanks.

    1. Klassy

      I like it when he lectures Russia about respecting the sovereignty of other nations. If the US is about one thing, it is about respecting sovereignty of other nations.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Speaking of Kerry’s predecessor, an article linked above says 8 of 10 Democrats want her to run in 2016. That’s political decadence: when the leading candidate for the White House was IN the White House 20 years ago, pushing an early draft of Obamacare (though that inconvenient fact will have to be shoved down the memory hole).

      After 20 years of fronting for empire, they don’t call her ‘pretty in pink’ no more. Which suggests a campaign slogan … Hillary 2016: Loathsome, On’ry & Mean.

    3. abynormal

      Kerry, GET A CLUE:

      “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”
      Howard Zinn

      1. hunkerdown

        Calling them “stupid” is just running cover for them. Call them colonizers, abusers, rapists, but “stupid” is a cultural judgment, and they don’t care.

    4. Synopticist

      Kerry is the very essence of the over-entitled plutocratic US elite, failing upwards time and again. He’s dumb, way stupider than Bush. He’s 57 varieties of dumb. He was dumb before he flip-flopped about how dumb he is. He was dumb when he exaggerated how dumb he was on a boat.
      He’s a muppet.

      1. sd

        Except for one leetle detail…Kerry launched the investigations into BCCI and Iran Contra.

        Alas, where did that Kerry go?

    5. cwaltz

      Someone should tell Sec. Kerry that he can’t have it both ways. We can’t be cutting food stamps for kiddies here and telling every dept. at home that they’ll have to make do with less and be considered a “rich” nation.

      Welcome to the austerity train Sec Kerry. All Aboard! Choo Choo!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Yves, hope you get well soon.

          I had a flu shot but was still sick for a little over a week. It took another week or so to stop feeling weak and tired.

      1. Howard Beale IV

        If she did get the flu, at least Tamiflu will cut the symptoms down a few days, but she’ll still be shedding the virus for about a week. That’s the nice thing about being a telecommuter-when the flu hits the building I usually escape it (I also get a flu shot.-I haven’t had the flu in over a decade.)

        But what I find obnoxious is that many self-funded healthcare plans do not cover Tamiflu/Relenza-your doc prescribes it, you pay full price.

  3. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Publishers withdraw more that 120 gibberish papers

    Another “big data” solution to the thorny problem of having to think up a hypothesis, design a study to demonstrate its validity and write up and present proof of same–“the Google Scholar database.”

    If I remember correctly, the Greyhound Bus Company used to have a successful and memorable advertising slogan–“Leave the driving to us.”

    Memo to Google and techies in general: Just use the slogan “Leave the THINKING to us” and get it over with already.

  4. S Haust

    Withdrawal of gibberish papers!

    Well, guess what it ain’t new. I remember when, in 1964, there was a paper in the
    Proceedings of the IEEE about a topic that was called “spatial filtering”. To put it simply,
    the idea was (roughly) that if you were to place a pattern of clear and opaque areas
    on the objective lenses of, say, a pair of binoculars, then this “graticule”, as it was
    called, would cause some objects in the field of view to be enhanced and others to
    be suppressed. Of course this was a military concept and had obvious military,
    ummm……, “application”. In other words, if you suspected you would be attacked
    by tanks, you could choose your “tank” graticule and thereby see the approaching
    tanks sooner than otherwise. Or if you were slogging through the jungles in Vietnam
    and expecting an invasion of “gooks” or “slopes”, you would get out your “gooks or
    slopes” graticule and apply it to gain the advantage by seeing them sooner.

    The idea was and is total, absolute rubbish and on a purely optical system (i.e.
    not digital) cannot work.

    Nonetheless. IEEE published a long and complicated paper purporting to
    analyse and explain the theory of “spatial filtering”. In the division of
    Westinghouse where I was then working as a neophyte (recent graduate)
    engineer, none of the senior engineers understood this thing, so they sloughed
    it off to me. Gee whiz, this could have been my stairway to the stars, except that
    it was garbage. It took me a couple of months of intense study to realize that
    the whole paper was a fake. None of the equations made any sense and
    none were even consistent with the text. The paper was full of graphs of
    mathematical functions that I eventually established had been stolen from a
    book of such graphs written by an author named Morse and published by
    Dover. Of course, none of these figures was referred to anywhere in the text.
    The whole paper was like this. 70 pages or so of huffery and puffery illustrated
    by meaningless equations and stolen graphs, with no real conclusion.

    OK. So, if it makes any difference, it seems that IEEE and probably others
    are no stranger to this sort of thing.

    As far as I know, this paper was never withdrawn or even critiqued by anyone
    else and if you have an archive of IEEE Proceedings going back that far, it
    will still be there.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Puts me in mind of an article linked to recently on NC about the “job finding rate.” (Searched “job finding rate” to provide the link but it didn’t come up.)

      Four authors named, equations provided.

      Conclusion: Low “job finding rate” due to low job “vacancies.” It was pretty hard to believe that one scholar lent his/her name to this embarrassment, let alone four (if I remember correctly.)

      1. S Haust

        No, I would not. He was a fraud and knew it. IEEE was a patsy for him.
        And just to be clear, the idea does not and will not ever work.
        Digital filtering is an entirely different thing based on entirely different
        principles. Computers will not, no matter how hard you try, make an
        optical system do something it can’t do. Simply because one would like
        to see better does not make one a visionary and, then again, I’m
        not even sure that a digital process would make that desired end
        “work”. And don’t be telling me about night vision goggles because
        that is still another process altogether.

  5. financial matters

    How the Fed Let the World Blow Up in 2008 Atlantic

    “2. Lehman. There are three magic words in central banking: whatever it takes. The Fed did that with Bear. It didn’t do that with Lehman. It could have let Lehman become a bank holding company, which is what Lehman wanted, and what the Fed ended up doing for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley a few weeks later. Or it could have given Lehman bridge financing to try to finish a deal after everything fell through on September 14th. None of these would have been popular decisions, but what’s the point of an independent central bank if it won’t do unpopular things to save the economy?”

    I think letting Lehman fall was a move in the right direction and the problem came with the subsequent bailout of AIG etc. But with a lot of fraud and leverage still in the system I think it would be useful to view this as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming round 2. I think it would be useful to review Bagehot.

    “”1.2 Summary of the Crisis Response and Consequences: A Review of Findings Presented Last Year

    a. Liquidity or Solvency Crisis?

    It has been recognized for well over a century that the central bank must intervene as “lender of last resort” in a crisis. Walter Bagehot explained this as a policy of stopping a run on banks by lending without limit, against good collateral, at a penalty interest rate. This would allow the banks to cover withdrawals so the run would stop. Once deposit insurance was added to the assurance of emergency lending, runs on demand deposits virtually stopped.

    — However, banks have increasingly financed their positions in assets by issuing a combination of uninsured deposits plus very short-term non-deposit liabilities. Hence, the GFC actually began as a run on these non-deposit liabilities, which were largely held by other financial institutions. —

    Suspicions about insolvency led to refusal to roll over short- term liabilities, which then forced institutions to sell assets. In truth, it was not simply a liquidity crisis but rather a solvency crisis brought on by risky and, in many cases, fraudulent practices.””

    and understanding these dynamics for the near future can be very important..

    “”These “too big to fail” institutions are seen by some as “systemically dangerous institutions”—often engaged in risky and even fraudulent practices that endanger the entire financial system.””

    “”If we are correct in our analysis, because the response last time simply propped up a deeply flawed financial structure and because financial system reform will do little to prevent financial institutions from continuing risky practices, another crisis is inevitable—and indeed will likely occur far sooner than most analysts expect.””


    “Finally, it guaranteed debt of Citigroup, and extended loans to insurance giant AIG, both of them insolvent firms deemed too big and too interconnected to fail. In conducting these actions, all in the name of the LLR, the Fed violated the classical model in at least six ways.

    Fourth, the Fed ignored the classical admonition never to accommodate unsound borrowers when it bailed out insolvent Citigroup and AIG. Judging each firm too big and too interconnected to fail, the Fed argued that it had no choice but to aid in their rescue since each formed the hub of a vast network of counterparty credit interrelationships vital to the financial markets, such that the failure of either firm would have brought about the collapse of the entire financial system.

    Fed policymakers neglected to notice that Bagehot already had examined this argument and had shown that interconnectedness of debtor-creditor relationships and the associated danger of systemic failure constituted no good reason to bail out insolvent firms.Modern bailout critics take Bagehot one step further, contending that insolvent firms should be allowed to fail and go through receivership, recapitalization, and reorganization.

    Although assets will be “marked to market” and revalued to their natural equilibrium levels, nothing real will be lost. The firms’ capital and labor resources as well as their business relationships and specific information on borrowers will still be in place to be put to more effective and less risky uses by their new owners.””


      1. financial matters

        I don’t discount this take and find this especially pertinent

        “Of course, as we said earlier, Bernanke never really needed the money from TARP to stop the panic anyway. (Not one penny of the $700 bil was used to shore up the money markets or commercial paper markets where the bank run took place.) All Bernanke needed to do was to provide backstops for those two markets and, Voila, the problem was solved. Here’s Dean Baker with the details:

        “Bernanke deliberately misled Congress to help pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He told them that the commercial paper market was shutting down, raising the prospect that most of corporate America would be unable to get the short-term credit needed to meet its payroll and pay other bills. Bernanke neglected to mention that he could singlehandedly keep the commercial paper market operating by setting up a special Fed lending facility for this purpose. He announced the establishment of a lending facility to buy commercial paper the weekend after Congress approved TARP.” (“Ben Bernanke; Wall Street’s Servant”, Dean Baker, Guardian)”

        And this wasn’t even that large compared to the trillions used in the financial backstop so availability of money is not the problem, it’s more in how we use it.

        It’s not hard for me to imagine that after Lehman fell looking into the AIG abyss would be like deer looking into headlights. But stress inoculation can be a good thing combined with analyzing the outcome and Janet Yellen was there through all of it.

  6. diptherio

    Get well soon Yves. Hopefully, you’ll get some benefit out of your convalescence. Had time to watch True Detective yet? I’ve heard you can torrent it….

    1. abynormal

      i call BS. if Yves was intimidated with malfunctions etc…she’d thrown in the towel YEARS ago.

      Yves has Backbone…not a wish bone.

  7. yenwoda

    “Venezuelan intelligence agents arrested over murder of protesters”

    I thought the protestors were killed by CIA-trained bankster-sympathetic neo-liberal agent provocateurs trying to undermine the world-leading health and happiness that comes when true Bolivarian solidarity is realized between nations like Cuba and Venezuela.

  8. diptherio

    Re: Wood’s Hole Radiation Monitoring Fundraiser–W…T…F?…we have unlimited finances available for secret wars and for meeting extortion demands, er…I mean bank bailouts, but we have to depend on the voluntary donations in a down economy to fund basic, kinda important scientific research? I’m so glad the serious people we’re letting run this show have their priorities in line…

    1. Benedict@Large

      Woods Hole is top of the line. The cat’s meow of oceanographic research. If they are having trouble getting necessary funding, you can bet everyone else is also.

      1. skylark

        I am sitting right down the road from WHOI here on Cape Cod. “The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations” (Wikipedia). That might explain why they are having a bake sale to fund monitoring of the radiation that no one in government wants to talk about.

  9. Garrett Pace

    The Future of the News Business

    What a horror show! I stopped reading at the section, “how to make money” because that’s all this is. The future of news is just like the present: ad-saturated infotainment only more profitable.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: For the Right Price, Consumers Will Accept Limited Choice of Doctors, Hospitals

    Not sure the headline accurately reflects the poll results:

    “The narrow networks have encountered resistance from doctors, patient groups and some insurance regulators, who fear consumers will not grasp their limited options until they seek medical care.”


    “Among the public overall, younger people and poorer people are more likely to favor the smaller networks than older and wealthier people, the poll found.”

    A more reasonable headline might be: “Consumers” Will “Accept” Limited Choice of Doctors, Hospitals When They Don’t KNOW That They’re Buying a Pig-in-a-Poke, or Are Too Poor to Afford Anything Better

    1. Benedict@Large

      I keep looking at all these ObamaCare gadflies and thinking, do these people even know what kind of crap is being sold to them? It’s going to take four or five years for this abortion of a law to fully take impact, and people are going to be screaming.

      1. Benedict@Large

        RE: Krugman – A General Theory of Obamacare Fiction

        Krugman’s M.O. for all things ObamaCare is to pick on the Republicans who represent the stupid side of the party. He NEVER picks on Republicans who are actually trying to do some good work on this (yes, there are some, but their voices are being buried by the hyenas), and he never picks on anyone from the anti-ObamaCare left and/or single-payer advocates, except maybe to toss out some generic pabulum on ObamaCare being a “good step forward”, which it’s not. Krugman shows his own severely lacking knowledge of insurance (he thinks he’s an actuary; he’s not) by restricting his criticisms ALWAYS to this low-hanging fruit that comes out of the knuckle-dragging branch of the GOP. I’ve found it best to ignore him on healthcare. He’s little more than an cheerleader for O-Care, and not offering anything substantial beyond that.

      2. notexactlyhuman

        I suspect you’ll see a big outcry between January 1 and April 15 next year, when all us paycheck to paycheck mopes get the $1200 fine.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Half, actually more than half, of US ‘HOUSING WEALTH’ concentrated in 10% of communities.

    What happened here?

    The top 1% owns 40% of the US wealth…the richest global 1% control half of global wealth…one percent of Americans control 1/3 of global wealth – we all have heard about these.

    Somehow, housing wealth is ‘a little better’ distributed…from the top 1% to the top 10%.

  12. docg

    Where did all the BitCoins go?
    Long time passing.
    Where did all the BitCoins go?
    Long time ago.
    Where did all the BitCoins go?
    Hackers plucked them ev’ry one.
    Oh, When will you ever learn?
    When will you ever learn?

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China hard landing.

    Don’t know if it’s a Chinese proverb, but I imagine Zhuang Zi might say something like this: Hard landing from a low place is manageable; Hard landing from a lofty position can be fatal.

  14. Andrew Watts

    Best wishes and feel better Yves!

    RE: White House Weighs Options for Revamping NSA Surveillance

    Allowing the intelligence agencies to store the collected metadata (or any other content) is a situation ripe for abuse. While forcing the private sector to store it is a more disastrous idea. They are not capable of securing the information they already have in their possession.

    There was an incident a few days ago involving thousands of passports involving government officials and if skilled hackers can get to it than foreign governments certainly will be able to. The last thing I want to see happen is the US government providing foreign intelligence agencies with information on it’s citizens that they’ve collected themselves… by accident. (wink)

    The United States government unfortunately has a history of doing exactly this. Our diplomats were the best spies the British ever had in the days before the Five Eyes treaty. We didn’t encrypt our diplomatic communications so everybody from Colonel House to the State Department was feeding Her Majesty’s Secret Service with important political and diplomatic intelligence. It was a particularly valuable source regarding Imperial Germany.

    For more information on this topic please refer to Herbert Yardley’s book “The American Black Chamber”. Those that don’t learn from history… are going to get owned.

    RE: Breaking Up the NSA

    Giving the FBI the dragnet surveillance powers of the NSA is an extremely bad idea. The ghost of J. Edgar Hoover doesn’t agree with me.

    1. hunkerdown

      On the other hand, if private business is storing it, think of all the police resources that could be wasted by fabricating evidence that every citizen of Atherton, Calif. exchanges child pornography with one another. Well, I’d rather think about that than of said businesses forging such unsavory information on activists and suchlike.

  15. Peter Pan

    In regard to global unrest and Ukraine, I suspect that another pawn on the chessboard will come into play: Moldova…they have a breakaway territory with Russian troops and another region within Moldova that is leaning in Russia’s direction.

    “The Republic of Moldova: Lost in geopolitical games” –

    “Moldova, the EU and the Gagauzia Issue” –

  16. Chitownrdh

    Wow, just wow. The revolving door now includes crooks to teach the next generations of crooks. Great. Let me guess….he is a Milton Friedmanite. How very Shock Doctrine like.

  17. David Petraitis

    SciGen meet James Galbraith!
    It seems to me that even peer-reviewed economics papers are mostly gibberish…
    I wonder if SciGen for Ec has been written?

  18. Bruno Marr

    Re: Richard Clarke

    “… he described the employees at the three-letter agencies as “incredibly intelligent people” who are focused on combating terrorism and punishing violations of human rights. ”

    Nice talk. The employees a the 3 letter agencies don’t direct the show! Dirt Bag Clapper does. The “compartmentalized” employees simply pursue the Holy Grail of government service: an inflated paycheck and pension. (BTDT.)

    1. curlydan

      From the article: “Clarke noted that the seemingly endless scope of current government surveillance activities stemmed largely from a lack of strict guidance from policy makers”. Guidance from policy makers? How about guidance from the Constitution and the 4th Amendment (part of The Bill of _Rights_!) with a check and balance from the Judiciary (hello, judges, are you awake?).

  19. David Petraitis

    Might this be one for the links?
    David Greaeber on “Fun”

    Liked his equating “rational explanation” in social science as equivalent with creating a description of a set of observations to appear like an economic actor trying to maxmize some utility function… that’s “rational”

    I must emphasize here that it doesn’t really matter what sort of theory of animal motivation a scientist might entertain: what she believes an animal to be thinking, whether she thinks an animal can be said to be “thinking” anything at all. I’m not saying that ethologists actually believe that animals are simply rational calculating machines. I’m simply saying that ethologists have boxed themselves into a world where to be scientific means to offer an explanation of behavior in rational terms—which in turn means describing an animal as if it were a calculating economic actor trying to maximize some sort of self-interest—whatever their theory of animal psychology, or motivation, might be.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Good link. The NYT as Criminal Reserve apologists. Mistakes were made; whocoudanode; look/lean forward, not backward; this is not the time for finger-pointing, the blame game; of course they meant well; they’re just stupid, not evil or venal; but most important, we’re all in this together and we’re all to blame, so can’t we all just get along?

  20. M Raymond Torres

    I read Krugman’s column and Olenick’s analysis and am baffled by your charge of intellectual dishonesty against Mr. Krugman. Perhaps you didn’t understand that he was referring to particular unfounded claims be made by ACA detractors, although it’s hard to miss as he comes right out and says so. Or perhaps you have inside information that proves that he is intentionally ignoring legitimate findings of wrongdoing regarding the ACA roll-out. Or perhaps you aren’t a regular reader of M. Krugman’s column and are, therefore, unaware that he is and has been a vocal critic of the ACA all along. Or perhaps some other unexplained grievance is animating your criticism.

    Troubling as Mr. Olenick’s analysis is, your mud-slinging does nothing to illuminate the ongoing debate about the direction we need to be taking to fix healthcare in this country and your choice of Krugman as its target appears gratuitous.

    1. hunkerdown

      “Debate about the direction” is nothing more or less than wistful bourgeois posturing. Decide first who gets to decide the destination, then decide the destination, decide we want to be there, then let’s stop making excuses for interests that have no business at the table, in the restaurant, or even eating at all — and *do*. Just like Obamasurance did. (Obama”care” is a misnomer.)

  21. optimader

    If you have the head/chest cold I had, figure two weeks, sorry… Ask some one do a Costco run for Kleenex (I upgraded to paper towels, but you are of a more diminutive scale)

  22. kimyo

    Monsanto’s Roundup may be linked to fatal kidney disease, new study suggests

    The incriminating agent, or Compound “X,” must have certain characteristics, researchers deduced. The compound, they hypothesized, must be: made of chemicals newly introduced in the last 20 to 30 years; capable of forming stable complexes with hard water; capable of retaining nephrotoxic metals and delivering them to the kidney; capable of multiple routes of exposure, such as ingestion, through skin or respiratory absorption, among other criteria.

    These factors pointed to glyphosate, used in abundance in Sri Lanka. In the study, researchers noted that earlier studies had shown that typical glyphosate half-life of around 47 days in soil can increase up to 22 years after forming hard to biodegrade “strong complexes with metal ions.”

    Rice farmers, for example, are at high risk of exposure to GMCs through skin absorption, inhalation, or tainted drinking water. GMCs seem to evade the normal liver’s detoxification process, thus damaging kidneys, the study found.

    The study also suggests that glyphosate could be linked to similar epidemics of kidney disease of unknown origin in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and India.

    Recent investigations by the Center for Public Integrity found that, in the last five years, CKDu is responsible for more deaths in El Salvador and Nicaragua than diabetes, AIDS, and leukemia combined.

  23. Synopticist

    Soros, making the world safe for the Wall Street wing of the democratic party.
    He helped drive out the pro-Russian faction of the obscenely corrupt oligarchs, now he wants Germany to bail out the entire nation so that pro-western oligarchs get to govern.

    Maybe Europe doesn’t have the twenty billion dollars needed to prevent Ukraine from defaulting right now, George. Maybe the rest of us aren’t so angry at Putin over Syria that we’re willing to risk another proxy regional war. Maybe we’re a little wary of siding with neo-nazis, however sympathetic we may be towards ordinary Ukrainians.

  24. Howard Beale IV

    JUst before Bitcoim catastrophe, Mt. Gox dreamed of riches:

    “At some point in recent weeks, MtGox appears to have pitched investors, arguing that it was poised to increase its profits 20-fold in just two years on the back of “no debt nor outside financing.”

    That’s according to a newly published document entitled “Business Plan Europe 2014-2017,” and it appears to have been authored by MtGox executives in 2014. The 27-page document, which was first published late Wednesday, puts the company’s fiscal 2013 profits at $286,000, its projected fiscal 2014 profits at $2 million, its projected fiscal 2015 profits at $13.85 million, and its projected fiscal 2016 profits at $39 million.”

  25. Andrea

    On : The secrecy and perks of Credit Suisse’s offshore banking accounts.

    This is a very weak article which explains nothing at all.

    By ‘offshore’ they mean accounts in CH banks held by ppl not resident in Switzerland.

    Any non-resident (except these days US citizens or US persons, which is not the same thing and a whole other ball of wax) can open an account.

    “Secret” (this is an informal definition) means a numbered account. Where the account holder’s name is held back, except for, of course, the very highest level in the bank (1 or 2 ppl or a few more perhaps, with the info locked in a safe or whatever), plus the account-holder’s counsellor.

    The account, however, on a legal level, is the same as any other account (incl. e.g. child savings account) and it can be opened up – revealed, divulged – like any other account. This takes strong proof of suspicion of fraud, whitewashing, fiscal matters, etc. and a procedure close to a court order (again, except for US ppl who are now in a different position.) The account holder is by law informed of the procedure so that he or she can contest it before…it grips. (Some have contested successfully.)

    The “secret” account is a service offered by the bank to those who request or might want it. It is extremely pricey, and all it effects is that the holder can fix the conditions of communication between him and the bank – that might be by fax only, by post to a PO box of a dead auntie, secret face-to-face meetings in Berlin, disguised e-mails, no info for years, whatever: Le client est roi! (The client is king.)

    So the cloak and dagger type secrecy is first, a lucrative commercial offer, making ppl feel ‘special.’ Like a top concierge! Except it costs way more.. The client is the mark, there are no perks at all, it is a service paid for, that is all.

    Then the secrecy on the part of the bank who prefers (even 20 years ago and ongoing) that it not be bruited about that it holds a lot of accounts for tax cheats and makes a pile off them.

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