Links 3/1/14

[Yves is still sick, alas, but we hope for improvement. Also, I have one more post coming, so you will have the full ration. –lambert]

Aboriginal people may have lived on Beringia for millenia CBC (PDF slideshow).

It’s not all bad news for insomniacs: They have brains that are ‘more adaptable to change’ Daily Mail

S&P 500 Extends Record as Treasuries Drop on Economy Data Bloomberg. Headline v. URL discrepancy?

China Factory Index Decline Adds to Li’s Growth Headwinds Bloomberg

Gold Fix Study Shows Signs of Decade of Bank Manipulation Bloomberg

Citigroup reports fraud in Mexico unit, lowers 2013 results Reuters. And A Maelstrom of Fraud Without Early Warning Dealbook, Times (RS).

Mt. Gox Seeks Bankruptcy After $480 Million Bitcoin Loss and Mt. Gox Bitcoin Exchange Sued for ‘Misappropriation’  Bloomberg

Bitcoin and the Myth of Tech Utopia James Kwak, Atlantic

Soros and Paulson each take €92m bet on Spanish real estate FT

Krugman Move Boosts CUNY Effort to Escape Columbia, NYU Shadows Bloomberg

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

NSA surveillance hurting tech firms’ business USA Today

Feds Refuse to Release Public Comments on NSA Reform — Citing Privacy Wired

Keith Alexander’s Big Idea: What If The NSA Just Collected Phone Data On Suspected Terrorists? Tech Dirt

Speculation About Goto Fail SMBlog

Mississippi man found alive in body bag at funeral home BBC. Getting old isn’t for wimps.

We’ve all read his work — ‘Godfather’ of Helvetica font dies at 84 CNN


Obama’s Trauma Team Time. Post mortem on the rollout. An administration clusterfuck spread over two terms dressed up as a heroic rescue story of how the creative class saved Obama’s bacon.

Coal Mine Fire Still Burning After Weeks Looks Like Mordor, Fills Australian Town With Smoke Newsweek

Anti-nuclear novel by bureaucrat exposes chummy relationship between politicians, industry Asahi Shimbun

Should Sierra Club Endorse Coal Rush/Fracking Gov. Quinn — Or Call Out Environmental Disaster? Huffpo

Global Unrest

Venezuela protests: the other side of the story Guardian

Pierre Omidyar co-funded Ukraine revolution groups with US government, documents show Pando Daily. We can’t even fund a decent coup anymore? What’s wrong with this country? And Soros, via Links two days ago, weighed in on policy. It’s almost like a tiny club of squillionaires is running the world, isn’t it?

Exclusive: Russian ‘Blackwater’ Takes Over Ukraine Airport Daily Beast. 

Economic Woes: The Uncertain Future of Ukraine’s Finances Der Spiegel

The Conflict in Ukraine: More Complex Than You Might Think Atlantic

Mikheil Saakashvili: Lessons From the Putin Wars WSJ

Russian-Sponsored Territories LRB

Erdogan recordings appear real, analyst says, as Turkey scandal grows Sacramento Bee

Protesters Say They’ll End Blockades in Bangkok Times

Myanmar fortune-teller predicts an end to crisis The Nation. Face, face…

Bangkok Turmoil and Thailand’s Deep South The Diplomat

‘Apparently you get away with anything if you’re scared’: Furious family hit out at judge after man is freed for shooting dead unarmed Alzheimer’s suffering grandfather because he knocked on wrong door Daily Mail. Well, besides fear, there’s greed.

The new market space: billionaire investors look beyond Earth FT. Good. Maybe they’ll just leave.

Fascism and the Future, Part Three: Weimar America The Archdruid Report. Both less and more provocative than the headline (part two).

What’s gone wrong with democracy Economist

How to Think About the History of American Surveillance Observations on Credit and Surveillance

Antidote du jour:


Bonus Antidote: Hazel the Sugar Glider (RS):

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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. Vatch

      Global climate change is a huge problem, but it’s not the only environmental problem we face. Many of the problems that existed before we noticed global warming are still there. A number of these problems are linked to climate change, but not all of them. The large environmental organizations need to devote resources to both the huge problems, such as global climate change and human overpopulation, and to the more specialized issues. Among the specialized issues are problems such as industrial overfishing, deforestation, accelerating species extinction, soil erosion, air and water pollution caused by factory farms, nuclear safety, etc.

      By the way, few, if any, of the large environmental organizations are devoting adequate resources to solving the problem of human over population.

      1. Pete

        Design of money = perpetual growth = every thing and every relationship converted to dollars… change the money, change the world.

  1. JohnB

    I’ve Googled around a bit, and I think the Bitcoin theft from Mt. Gox is the biggest bank/exchange heist in history.

    It was a heist of around $480 million, and the next biggest is around $45 million.

    1. sufferin' succotash

      Not quite as photogenic as the ones with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway tho.

    2. Winston Smith

      But it’s not clear to what extent the theft was from Mt. Gox or by Mt. Gox. In the category of thefts from banks the amount might be unprecedented, but in the category of thefts by banks it would not be (cf. MF Global). According to the theory that the more boring alternative is the more likely, I’d bet on ‘by’. Don’t forget Bill Black’s The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One.

      It should be noted that ‘theft from a bank’ usually means theft from its customers by other parties, and ‘theft by a bank’ usually means theft from its customers by its owners.

      1. JohnB

        Heh, indeed yes – good distinction (am actually reading that book at the moment too); if we’re talking about theft by banks, I’d definitely say LIBOR and the other coming rate-fixing cartels (like gold, mentioned above), will absolutely dwarf any other theft in history.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From ‘Life of Brian the Techie.’

      ‘I know Bitcoin is a tech utopia. I should know. I have followed a few.’

  2. Brindle

    Re: “Pierre Omidyar….”

    Popcorn time as Paul Carr (Pando investigations editor) and Marcy Wheeler of The Intercept (emptywheel) have a back ‘n forth on twitter last nite. Marcy got the betters as Carr comes off as a jerk.

    —-Paul Carr ‏@paulcarr 11h
    Why didn’t anyone warn me that Marcy Wheeler is fucking certifiable?

    emptywheel ‏@emptywheel 9h
    @paulcarr Though I admit you seem to have a VERY difficult time defending your story’s basic premise. @jilliancyork

    Paul Carr ‏@paulcarr 9h
    @emptywheel Marcy, I’ve asked you one simple question. I’m still waiting for an answer.

    emptywheel ‏@emptywheel 9h
    @paulcarr Once your story makes a bit of sense, I’d be happy to answer. right now, it’s a hash.—-

    1. RalphR

      Did you actually read the Carr piece? He undermined himself by being too keen about the “gotcha” but as I read the tweets, Marcy spent an enormous amount of energy temporizing in order to evade answering a very simple question Carr asked her to answer:

      Paul Carr ‏@paulcarr 23h
      @emptywheel My question is easy: does it concern you that @pierre co-invested with US government in Ukraine opposition groups? Yes? No?

      I find she’s the one who looks like the jerk, not him. He’s increasingly frustrated with her various avoidance tactics.

  3. TimR

    Interview w architect Andres Duany sharing some insights from decades in the field. Points raised include
    – The whole LEED certified green building movement has been the greatest “success” of the environmental movement, but at the same time it’s a very limiting vision that assumes a well-moneyed client. Actually it sounds like what the cynics among us would imagine it is without even investigating — there’s good money in it, so many of the architects are just “along for the ride” with it (cynically!) whether they think it’s very beneficial or not. And/or some of them may be taken in by the hype of it all.
    Duany suggests that in addition to the “gold”, “silver” LEED levels, there be a “dirt” level, a spec for building green when you’re not rolling in dough. The LEED racket though generates lots of good-paying jobs, since it takes an MIT degree to manage a LEED-certified building properly, it sounds like. And of course for everyone setting it up.
    -Duany and the New Urbanists “succeeded” in inserting their ideas into the belly of the beast (into the building codes), but in the process became the beast to some extent. He still favors what they were/are trying to do (walkable communities for one), but he sees how, over the 30-something years since he started, the bureaucratic regs have gotten much more stifling. Young architects today could not do what he and his peers did then, he says; his generation could talk mano a mano to officials and persuade them to make allowances. Now, it takes teams of lawyers and millions of dollars to make sensible local decisions possible.
    -He mentions that all the great cities, such as Paris, were developed with “form-based code” but did not elaborate… I must look it up someday… ha
    -This was funny — Duany worked on the early experimental walkable community “Seaside” in Florida, and others; He and colleagues were able to use resort communities as “test labs” for new ideas, because clients wanted something better than ordinary, everyday neighborhoods. They were open to more “utopian” ideas. Something amusing about that, the mindset that daily life is naturally a dismal slog, but a resort town can be permitted to dream a little. And yet I would think that viewing things that way, will actually undermine the attempt, because now you have this sort of enforced idyll — it *must* be joyous here! No unhappiness allowed!
    Overall, I liked his open-minded perspective towards “the little people” and trying to avoid stomping all over everyone who can’t afford to be high-minded, but at the same time, he seemed to be trying to have his cake and eat it too; in the belly of the beast as he said, and favoring some of its ideals, but skeptical of implementation, and looking for some way to accommodate both worlds. Which I admire, but my sense is that the bureaucratic world will generally just steamroll over “the little people”, and take all the pie while patting itself on the back for its high-minded commitment to ideals.

    1. Klassy

      That made me feel old. I read that book 20 years ago. Those decades went fast. I think LEED is a racket, part of the certification game. I also believe the building that has been built is more environmentally sound.
      I have only peeked at JHK’s blog a few times. There is a streak of misanthropy that is off putting and I am not exactly Ms. up with people. I read the first comment which contained this
      “Walk into any Wal-mart as the test case for battery operated short range transport. They can’t keep enough charged up due to our increasingly elderly and/or obese generation. It’s easier to work with open minded, young, healthy people as opposed to the geriatric and disabled that demand CODES to negotiate obstacles to daily civic life.”
      What a nasty stew of ageism, ableism, and looksism. Heaven forbid disabled people assert their right to negotiate obstacles of daily life. Nice to equate healthy with open minded.

      1. TimR

        I dunno, I just like podcasts with a variety of interesting guests. JFK is fairly demure and mild-mannered as a podcaster. His weekly articles meanwhile are full of pyrotechnics, but I stopped reading them because they’re mostly sizzle and not much steak.

    2. bob

      LEED and the USGBC were a scam hatched right here in upstate NY so that Bob Congel could get a nice, 30 year tax free mall. The first LEED© certified shopping mall.

      “The letter then moves to the crux of the compliance argument. The Agency and developer assert that actual installation of renewable energy systems was not required. Instead, the letter claims the developer was only required to make promises related to renewable energy and LEED certification in order to qualify for the bonds. They conclude that the financial benefits of the Green Bonds program and the forfeiture of the Reserve Account do not depend on actual achievement of the green building and renewable energy goals.”

      The IRS accepted his reasoning, in part because it had already been certified LEED©. How was it certified LEED© if “The Agency and developer assert that actual installation of renewable energy systems was not required.”?

      It’s one of those chicken or egg things. What did Bob eat first? The chicken or the subsidy? The egg is his too, but he leased control back to the IDA so he could charge a management fee.

      Complete. Scam.

  4. Carolinian

    Another off the wall, guilt by association attack on Greenwald and associates from Mark Ames. What is this guy’s problem? You’ll note from the story that the most recent Omidyar funding they could come up with was in 2012–hardly proof of direct involvement in the events of 2014. Also the sums mentioned are less that $1 million versus the $5 billion that Ms Nuland claimed the U.S. has been spending on the Ukraine. Drop meet bucket.

    I’m sure someone much more knowledgeable than myself could shoot this full of many holes. But ultimately one just has to come to a personal conclusion about who has the credibility here. To me that would be Glenn Greenwald, Marcy Wheeler. Criticize what they do if you can, not who they work for (and Wheeler is just associated with First Look–still has her own blog).

    1. Eureka Springs

      Plenty to discuss and dispute over motivations and opinions, however it seems clear Omi did fund those with intent to overthrow. Personally I wouldn’t call it a “revolution” but more neoliberal-fascist shock doctorin’. Disturbing (to me) in the extreme.

      I don’t know, but it probably would have been best if Ames simply posted the facts/document with minimal commentary initially and let the proof of the funding speak for itself.

      1. JohnB

        Good succinct teardown by Greenwald there – I’ve been following both Greenwald and Ames writing for years, and yea, Ames definitely has it in for Greenwald in some fashion, heh.

        I think Ames objections with Greenwald, stem from suspicion over Greenwald’s links to Cato/Libertarians – and (me being a person who views the Libertarian think-tank network as deeply repugnant, and as having historical links to the intellectual founders, of almost everything that’s wrong/corrupt with economics today) I agree with Ames high skepticism/suspicion.

        However, I know Greenwalds writing/character well enough, to say that he more than earns benefit of the doubt, and that his economic views don’t align with Libertarians – not something I’d readily give to anyone else associated with Cato (I know this is ‘guilt by association’, but then I think anyone with a background from such a dishonest institution, should have a nearly impossibly high burden of proof, before being lent any credibility).

        1. RalphR

          Say what? Greenwald completely evades the real issue: that Omidyar has made a large number of investments intended to influence political outcomes, and that he is not just the bankroller of First Look, but so far, and perhaps on an ongoing basis, he’s the publisher. Omidyar is the boss. How much journalistic independence do you think all of these journos will have if they want to publish stories that counter Omidyar’s efforts elsewhere?

          Have you also convinced yourself that it would be no big deal if the Sulzbergers had been running arms in Nicaragua at the same time the news department was covering Iran-Contra? In Omidyar’s case, what we might see instead is that no reporting on Iran Contra would take place….and that would be no accident.

          I can’t believe how enthusiasm for Greenwald is getting in the way of recognizing the real issues here.

          1. bob

            Omidyar is a state without a flag. I think that should be the first reader contest. Pick the flag of the sovereign state of Omidyar*.

            *admission to the state of Omidyar is limited to those with net liquid assets of over 100 million dollars. Winning the flag contest does not qualify you for citizenship.

          2. JohnB

            I should clarify: I don’t think Ames criticism of Omidyar is any less relevant, but I think Greenwald has the credibility and proven track record, for his claim of untouched independence to hold true.

            So while I think what was highlighted can harm Omidyar’s reputation, I don’t think that affects Greenwald – even though it’s still relevant/important that Ames brings up the potential for that anyway, to be skeptical/cynical (it certainly may affect other journalists there, as not all of them will be as independent as Glenn).

            1. Alan

              The appearance of a conflict of interest, is by itself, a conflict of interest. Anything less is a rationalization.
              You can say, “sure, he is in a position to influence Greenwald, but of course Greenwald is beyond reproach”. No one is beyond reproach or beyond being influenced. Human beings, being human, cannot allow themselves to be put in that position in the first place. The only way to be sure there is no conflict of interest is not to expose themselves to the temptation in the first place. You cannot, after the fact, say that you are above it.

          3. Wayne Reynolds

            It is surprising on this blogsite to see how firmly in the American’s minds the neo-liberal agenda is implanted. That anyone cannot see the problems involved with a billionaire oligarch funding regime change in a country with a democratically elected president is mind boggling. And for anyone not to see the problems of the same said oligarch as employer of supposedly free agent reporters as something not to be concerned about makes a thinking persons head spin. America has devolved into a very dark and dangerous pit.

          4. JohnB

            Please – lose the hyperbole, and I’m not from the US.

            Yes, I see the problem with Omidyars funding, no, I think Greenwald has the necessary credibility to be considered truly independent, no matter who he works for.

            I think Greenwald is one of the few journalists out there, who has genuinely earned benefit of the doubt in this regard – I don’t extend that benefit of doubt to other First Look journalists, as I don’t know them as well as Glenn.

            As for the idea that journalists shouldn’t “expose themselves to the temptation in the first place”: If you want to setup a news organization with the clout Glenn’s will have, you’re not going to do it, without the help of a very rich investor, and you will not find anyone able to fund it, who does not have dirty hands (quite simply, people don’t get that rich without engaging in morally corrupt actions somewhere along the way.).
            This doesn’t justify Omidyar’s actions, but it’s a good practical argument in defense of Glenn – doing what he has to, opportunistically and regardless of the source, for maximizing the effect of his journalism.

            Simple fact is, if you want your journalism to reach a wide enough audience to have a real effect, you have to put aside purist principles, and accept funding from questionable sources – it’s a Greshams Dynamic, where those who are willing to do that, will overpower (as a voice in media) those who don’t.

            The best hope I think MMT and monetary reform has of ever making a difference: Get in bed with some investors (morally corrupt or not), who have a ton of money, and who can give you the resources to constantly blast out information to the public, about what is wrong with the monetary system, until some of it sticks.
            Simple fact is, while those promoting MMT have done a great job thus far, there still seems to be a significant/currently-impassable barrier to public attention, that only massive wads of cash/resources might overcome.

  5. Watt4Bob

    I think we have to be clear about what’s most provocative in the Archdruid’s post.

    From The Archdruid Report.

    “The fascist movements of the 1920s and 1930s were thus closely attuned to the hopes and fears of the masses, far more so than either the mainstream parties or the established radical groups of their respective countries.”

    Fascist ‘movements’ are only attuned to the hopes and fears of the masses to the extent that these hopes and fears can be leveraged to win elections.

    Fascism is, and always has been the outcome of control of the state by the corporate power structure.

    Seen from this perspective, the rise of the third reich was not something new at the time, it was just another step in the take over of government by corporate Robber Barons, much like the current phenomenon of 1% support for the Tea-Party.

    It’s all part of the whole, the largest lever being the manipulation of the deep racial divide existing in America on the part of the PTB to win elections.

    America’s future Brown-Shirts, will not be Green-Shirts pushing socialism as Mr. Archdruid fantasizes, on the contrary, they’ll be bigoted hicks with conceal-carry permits, sporting three-corner hats and Don’t Tread on Me flags.

    The Archdruid is selling the tired conflation of fascism with socialism, and by that tactic, pumping the fear and loathing of left that has always been a major meme of the 1%.

    It remains to be seen whether the 1% will be successful in controlling the astro-turf movement they’ve nurtured so lavishly, I hope not, but let’s not loose sight of the fact that in essence, fascism is not “closely attuned to the hopes and fears of the masses” and never was, what fascism does, and has always done is mis-lead the masses by manipulating their ignorance and fear.

    1. diptherio

      Ahh…I fear that you have not read the previous two posts in his series. JMG addresses all of your points there. I must say, as someone who has been known to define fascism as corporate control of the state, this series of essays has been eye-opening for me. It can be difficult to see your cherished beliefs dealt with so brusquely, but if you can check your ego and listen to what the man is saying, he has some valid points to make.

      As JMG points out, it is not a matter of right versus left politics or Socialism vs. Capitalism, but rather a matter of authoritarian vs. non-authoritarian regimes. Both varieties come in socialist and capitalist flavors.

      Greer is right, I think, when he says that “fascism” is a political snarl word, almost entirely devoid of content. Fascism, literally “group-ism”…can’t get much more vapid than that.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Sorry diptherio, but I don’t buy that point at all, I believe that fascism is indeed a technical term with an exact meaning; an authoritarian regime of the right-wing flavor, accurately understood as rooted in corporate control of government.

        It is authoritarianism does come in multiple flavors, but not all of them can or should be considered fascism.

        Greer is wrong to promote the attitude that fascism is a ‘snarl’ word, because in doing so he degrades our ability to accurately describe political reality.

        While it is true that there are words that can be properly understood to be ‘snarl-words’ devoid of meaning and indicative of lazy thinking, fascism is not one of them.

        And, while it is also true that some people misuse language and throw about words without understanding their meaning, it does not follow that those words have no meaning.

        BTW, the fact that the druids left no written record of their beliefs and there is no possibility of truly understanding what they were about, more or less precludes taking anyone seriously who proclaims themselves a druid or professes to be a follower of druidism.

        1. accidentalfission

          The word “fascism” was coined by Mussolini IIRC. That would mean it refers exclusively to right-wing authoritarianism. If you are right about the total lack of historical info about druidism, then my curiosity about Greer is satisfied and I probably won’t seek out his writing anymore.

          So your comment has likley saved me some time. Thanks for postng it. I admire Greer’s intelligence and his druidism is potentially useful (environmentalism. community building, etc.) but it’s goox to be able to make informed choices about one’s information sources.

      2. Watt4Bob

        I have to add another couple of observations to this discussion after taking your advice and reading the rest of the Archdruid’s series.

        Our druid friend gives us this evidence that the Nazis were socialists, as their name certainly implies;

        “National socialism was another position along the same lines. National socialist parties argued that business firms should be made subject to government regulation and coordination in order to keep them from acting against the interests of society as a whole, and that the working classes ought to receive a range of government benefits paid for by taxes on corporate income and the well-to-do.”

        Do you not recognize the dog-whistle content of this message?

        Sounds like Nazis thought businesses should be regulated and taxed to pay for entitlements?

        Where have we heard that before?

        Now let’s compare that little history lesson with one from; The Rise and Fall of The Third Rech, by William L. Shirer;

        “Deprived of his trade unions, collective bargaining and the right to strike, the German worker in the Third Reich became an industrial serf, bound to his master, the employer, much as medieval peasants had been bound to the lord of the manor. The so-called Labor Front, which in theory replaced the old trade unions, did not represent the worker. According to the law of October 24, 1934, which created it, it was “the organization of creative Germans of the brain and fist.” It took in not only wage and salary earners, nut also the employers and members of the professions. It was in reality a vast propaganda organization and as some workers said, a gigantic fraud.”

        Crest book edition page 362-363

        The other item I take interest in is Archdruid’s invitation to indulge in “a little thought experiment” concerning a fanciful re-telling of Hitler’s rise, only this time in contemporary America, complete with a book written in prison by the charismatic leader of a new party, all of which is intended to explain how “it could happen here”, and soon!

        This parable alarms me on a number of points, first it ignores the extent to which the descent into authoritarian darkness is already far progressed, and second, it contrives to exonerate the politicians of both parties, responsible for having already handed control of our government to multi-nationals, by placing all the nasty action in the future.

        The etymology of the term fascism is recent and understandable, if complicated.

        Its use, as we have in the past, and I currently understand it, matured and solidified in the time between the two world wars. Mussolini described it as corporatism, and FDR described it as the result of government power being in the control of private interests.

        There have been no better definitions brought forth, only ones that aim to obfuscate contemporary political reality.

        Archdruid is inviting us to accept that fascist totalitarianism is a future threat, and in doing so wants us to ignore its present reality.

        This is made easy by our expectation that fascism requires a charismatic leader and concentration camps.

        The fascism has evolved, they learned a lesson with Hitler, the whole cult of personality was more trouble than it was worth, and the external enemy can be bombed in-place, camps or no.

  6. ohmyheck

    Re: Sugar Glider— Wow, so that is what was in my backyard last summer! I saw this thing climbing up a tree trunk, and then all of the sudden, it flew/swooped over to another tree. I was dumbfounded! I followed it around from tree to tree, and then it swooped off to my neighbor’s yard.

    It is not native to my area. I think it was a pet that got loose. Didn’t have the requisite helmet either…

    1. J.

      If you are in North America, you might have seen a flying squirrel, which looks pretty similar even though it is a rodent instead of an opossum. They occur in most of the US and Canada but they are mostly nocturnal so many people never see one.

      They are also super cute. We had to take a baby away from the cat (luckily undamaged).

  7. squasha

    Part of the Archdruid’s project here appears to be to wrangle the word fascism into some state of submission, but this is futility itself. May as well scold us into giving up slang, or bringing back the old, derogatory meaning of the word ‘nice’, or perhaps the 15 various meanings it enjoyed before that. Etymology is fun to whiz around in on a Saturday afternoon, but makes for a very poor inroad to understanding. However, the axe he takes to party cartography is fresh and welcome, as is the reminder that the old conservative order, insofar as it was in resistance to change in general, was not always on board with the National Socialist project.

    Also, his greenish, updated version of Sinclair’s “It Can’t Happen Here” is presented absent a correspondingly modernized context. Germany’s fledgling democracy struggled back then to flutter out of its militaristic Prussian nest at a time when weapons & surveillance technology would not have so utterly precluded such development, as would today’s panapoticon acid bath in which we are all immersed. Both the stakes and the playing field have changed so drastically as to stretch historical analogy to greater and greater thinness. Perhaps someday people will get bored of playing with their Weeble-Hitler & BBQ Mussolini dollies.

    Finally he omits the economic structure of the fascist regimes he explores once the buzzsaw got rolling, when it was no longer the paltry tithes of bitter proles but the looted booty of the conquered that kept the thing cracking along.

      1. squasha

        sorry, just back after one too many with a Latvian & and an Irishwoman, with the former running down the lowdown on Ukraine…maybe I’m drunk but in general I’m finding the white noise of sincerely vested interests impossible to discern through. I’d nearly signed on to your screed when I got to the Putin genuflection paragraph. Again, my apologies, but the sun shines out no man’s nether regions. Your man Orlov does indeed sprinkle lavishly the word fascist hither and thither, which I find a pretty good example of why word-wrangling is futile–the horse has left the barn, the train the station, the word the living lips.

  8. Jagger

    I am really curious what sort of moral foundation we are going to stand on to condemn the barbarous actions of Russia against the Ukraine.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On the foundation of more powerful propaganda organs, sorry, more objective media organizations.

      1. Klassy

        Well, if your the NYT Russia is “flouting US warnings to respect Ukraines borders”.

    2. Synopticist

      Leave it to the smart guys within the foreign policy elite, they’ll get it right. Like here…

      The tactic within the State department lately has been to out-source their moral outrage to select NGOs, especially HRW. They do a tremendous job, with lazer-like intensity, of criticising the US’s enemies, while going much easier on their friends.

      And THAT is what “soft power” has amounted to. Get previously well respected NGOs to sell their credibilty, via the familiar revolving door tactics, to the power of the US. Let them whine about gitmo and Israel and drones strikes a bit, but when the stakes are truly high, as in Libya and Syria, they’ll do a fantastic PR job for you. Some thing similar will happen in Ukraine.

    3. gonzomarx

      very true and we’ll not hear this question from the village media.
      Afghanistan, Iraq, East Africa, Pakistan, Libya, Honduras, Mali, the responses to the Arab spring (this is just the last decade) will be forgotten and the Kabuki will begin.

      much will be witted about international norms/law, except for the international law that a major power can do what it likes with it weaker neighbour.

  9. Synopticist

    So Georgia’s Saakashvili was advising the Ukrainian opposition?
    Maaaaan, no wonder they f*cked up so bad.

    Before the 2008 Georgia-Russia war there were a couple of disputed territories which had previously been part of the soviet state of Georgia, but fought a fairly sharp and unpleasant war to secede in the aftermath of the soviet break-up. They were pro-Russian, broadly, and after driving out the Georgian army, and ethnically cleansing it Georgians, the 2 sides patched up a truce and Russian peacekeeprs came in.
    Naturally the Georgians weren’t happy, and they still claimed the territories.

    In 2008, (during the Olympic games, no less), Georgian soldiers attacked the disputed areas, including the Russian soldiers stationed there. What their plan was, God Himself could probably only guess at. As if the Georgians were ever going to succesfully defeat the Russians.
    So, nature took it’s course, the Russians rushed in re-inforcements and the Georgian army was humiliated. Then, with a surprising level of restraint, the Russians left it at that, and didn’t occupy the rest of the country.

    The Saakashvili led attack in 2008 is possibly THE stupidest war since 1945. (Maybe the Kargil war was dumber?) There was absolutely no chance of it succeeding whatsoever. None. It completely destroyed any chance georgia ever had of entering NATO, crushed their expensively assembled army, weakened the government beyond repair, and wrecked the economy.
    Now he’s being promoted as some kind of elder statesman, the old pro when it comes to facing up to Putin. What a shambles western policy has become.

    1. Anon y Mouse

      The Saakashvili led attack in 2008 is possibly THE stupidest war since 1945. […] There was absolutely no chance of it succeeding whatsoever. None. It completely destroyed any chance georgia ever had of entering NATO, crushed their expensively assembled army, weakened the government beyond repair, and wrecked the economy.

      I agree, and wondered what was going on in Saakashvili’s head at the time. Saakashvili seemed to think his shiny new American weapons were magical, or something. That is a tough neighborhood, but you can get by if you just remember one simple rule: Don’t poke the bear. Amazing that Saakashvili still hasn’t learned.

      1. Synopticist

        Yeah, but in all fairness, it WAS all the way back in 2008. How could we expect our policy makers to remember anything THAT long ago?

    2. Murky

      Good historical summary. I agree that Sakashvilli’s blundering as President of Georgia was jaw-droppingly stupid. But that’s not the whole story. US foreign policy at that time was equally stupid. Remember Condoleezza Rice claiming that it was Russia that attacked Georgia? Not only did she get that backwards, but she was willing to lie in order to support this fantasy claim that Russia was the aggressor. She then delivered a public reprimand on camera, as if Russia really had been the bad actor. “This is unacceptable behavior”, is the phrase I remember coming out of her mouth.

      I believe the U.S. State Department is equally stupid now, and they would love to pry loose Ukraine away from Russia in a heart beat. And while I’m all for Ukraine merging with the rest of Europe, the way it’s done matters a lot. The problem is that the US and its allies would very likely make a move to install NATO forces in Ukraine, thereby threatening Russian security. This is the sort of ‘diplomacy’ which causes wars. At least in my opinion, the US State Department is still an out-of-control blundering agency of American foreign policy.

      Which is not to overlook Russia. They also deserve a king-stupid crown for tolerating Yanukovych as their man in Ukraine. Had Russia installed a less corrupt and less greedy leader, the break-away of Ukraine probably would not have happened.

      Not a lot of smart actors among nation-states. Somehow recklessness and stupidity are found in abundance everywhere.

      1. Synopticist

        There’s definately been a major decline in the smartness of western diplomacy over the last decade or so. Particularly from us Brits. Cameron got on the first plane to Georgia to cheer them on as opposition leader, and he wasn’t slapped down for it by the Foreign Office. I’m not so sure you can say that about Russia. Yanukovych strikes me as a typical corrupt would-be autocrat rather than Russias man. Maybe he would have gone with Europe if the money was there, but it wasn’t.

        It seems to me Russia has played an average hand quite well over the last few years.

    1. MikeNY

      In related news, US stock futures rallied strongly as Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen promised that the Fed would “watch geopolitical events assiduously, in addition to examining chicken entrails, tea leaves, and the birthing of new stars in the Pillars of Creation, to determine if a more accomodative stance on monetary policy could be warranted.”

        1. MikeNY

          A most excellent word. TS Eliot uses it one his earlier (pre “Four Quartets”) poems. Thanks for reminding me!

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    New market space…billionaire investors…they should just leave.

    Perhaps, they will when it gets really bad on this planet – a tried and true tactic known by a lot, if not all, rich oligarch/dictator immigrants to this melting pot, just extrapolated a bit. Nothing innovative, imaginative or groundbreaking, really.

    This is how it will work out:

    1. The desirable new discoveries will be reserved for the 0.01%
    2. The undesirable discoveries, like the Devil’s Island in our world, will be used for penitentiaries. Prison Mars, privatized of course, here we come. No more over-crowded jails here.

    The space exploration, the trek, will be guided by

    A. If the aliens are more powerful than we are, we come in the name of Peace.
    B. If we are more powerful, they should know we are a generous ‘civilization,’ and there is plenty of ‘Upward Mobility,’ working from serfdom to lower middle class.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Insomniacs…’more adaptable to change.’

    Wonder if it has anything to do night-hunting and night-gathering of Proto-Paleo-dieters?

    Of course, a proper Proto-Paleo-diet should have plenty of sand, dirt and gravel in it, to be realistic. Proto-Paleo-Dieters ate in-situ and unprocessed.

      1. Robert Frances

        I thought it might be a Burrowing Owl, which were once somewhat common near the west coast until sprawl covered most of their burrows.

  12. susan the other

    Also on Krugman going to CUNY. Interesting, more for the PR on CUNY, which sounds right – it’s a blue collar, top flight university. Nice. I wish there were other cities with the same synergy NYC has to produce institutions that have this kind of integrity.

    Also too – Asahi Shimbun @ anti nuke and cronies – new novel “Genpatsu Whiteout” about the nuclear power industry in Japan. So, speaking of prevailing fiction: “Could this be due to extraterrestrials?” “Why, yes it could!” They could just go ahead and give us the technology to clean up messes like Fukushima, but they want us to learn; and they want us to save the Pacific Ocean and all the creatures therein, but they want us to figure it out for ourselves. Sounds like very risky fiction because some UFO zombies might actually break ranks and realize that we have no one to help us and we don’t know what the hell we are doing. Watch out MK Ultra, your days might be numbered.

    1. Jess

      “I wish there were other cities with the same synergy NYC has to produce institutions that have this kind of integrity.”

      Somehow I don’t equate hiring noted neo-liberal TPP promoter/apologist Paul Krugman with institutional “integrity.” But YMMV.

  13. diptherio

    Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Missouri (of all places) sounds like a super-hip place. Permaculture, green-DIY buildings…even their own alternative currency! This 22 minute video with one of the founders of this 16 year old intentional community is definitely something that will warm your cockles on a chilly winter day.

    Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

  14. Vatch

    So Keith Alexander is suggesting that maybe the NSA might only collect phone data on suspected terrorists. Great, except who’s a suspected terrorist? Oh, that’s right, EVERYONE is a suspected terrorist!

  15. Kurt Sperry

    A few thoughts on the situation in Ukraine and the US reaction:

    Obama and the party he leads’ unprincipled “pragmatism” whereby they not only failed to hold those who flagrantly illegally invaded Iraq accountable, but by in one of their first actions as executives preemptively and explicitly taking any accountability off the table for that criminality, aside from becoming complicit themselves by shielding the perps from the law, also undermined their and the US’ standing to make any legitimate complaints regarding other nations doing similar actions.

    Because of the Obama administration’s cowardice and evident lack of any principles if those principles might be politically inconvenient, they have unilaterally surrendered the right to lead the rest of the world in opposition to other countries when they violate international laws respecting national sovereignty. This loss of moral standing in turn makes diplomacy and consensus building far more difficult than it should be in response to incidents such as this and in turn increases the risk of the situation becoming very hot and very bloody. Why should anyone listen to the US on the subject of Russia militarily violating the territorial sovereignty of the Ukraine from an administration that protects and harbors criminals who have committed far worse military violations of national sovereignty? The moment screams for a US with clean hands and clear moral standing to lead the world in peacefully opposing Russian adventurism in Ukraine, yet Obama by his own actions crippled any such opportunity. The acts of moral cowardice in fact run so deep in this administration that it not only cannot oppose invasion with real moral authority, if the Russians were to flagrantly commit war crimes, hold prisoners indefinitely without charge, even torture those prisoners, it would be widely–and rightly–seen as hypocrisy for the US to make high minded denunciations of those crimes. Tolerance of immorality and criminality at the head of state level and the ensuing reputational damage from that undercut and cripple America’s ability to project non-military power and peacefully influence international events. Soft power is real power, in many ways far more useful and effective than brute force, and we–the US–have undercut our own in ways that are impossible to quantify or calculate.

    The cynical decision to protect and harbor war criminals taken in the first days of the Obama administration will come back to haunt and weaken the US for a very, very long time to come.

  16. JGordon

    So, just read the Moon of Alamaba take on the Ukraine “conflict”.

    So now we have a sclerotic and diseased behemoth, perhaps sensing in some vague and unsettling way that its end is near, lashing out at everyone and everything with the one tool in its toolbox, the hammer, somehow imagining that this kind of buffoonery will cause it to be “feared” or “respected”.

    If as Moon predicts the Ukraine thing goes Putin’s way… well as far as American “leadership” goes, I think most people in the would acknowledge that “incompetent”, “moronic” and “cartoon-villainy” are some of the foremost adjectives that come to mind. Which is probably quite a different outcome from what was expected. I wonder how much effort the deep state expended to make Putin look like the good-guy underdog in this whole sordid affair. Hmm…

    1. Wayne Reynolds

      According to Victoria Nuland herself, the US expended about $5 billion worth of effort. She was not just handing out cookies to the Maidan protesters! Hey Detroit, what would you do with $5 billion ?

  17. Hugh

    For the most part, I have been trying to stay away from the Ukraine story. It was a train wreck waiting to happen. The election of Yanukovych made the train wreck more likely , and once the whole dynamic of Yanukovych’s ouster began, the wreck itself was not terribly hard to predict.

    What I would like to point out is that the Soviet Union dissolved 22 years ago. The former Soviet republic of Estonia joined the EU in 2004. Even countries like Romania and Bulgaria which didn’t meet the criteria for entry into the EU joined it a few years later. No serious effort was made to do this with regard to Ukraine. There are a variety of reasons why. European leaders saw Ukraine as a buffer with Russia. They did not want to antagonize Russia and they didn’t know what to do about the Russian naval bases in the Crimea. They did not want to spend the money although they could easily afford it before the 2008 meltdown, and even after it. They did not want the possible influx of labor. Ukraine was the breadbasket of the old USSR. They didn’t want the agricultural competition either. Agricultural subsidies are a really big and sensitive subject/scam in the EU. And Europe gets a lot of its energy, especially natural gas, from or via Russia. You will note that the well-being of the Ukrainian people was never a consideration. Nor even that geopolitically Ukraine was the capstone to Europe’s expansion eastward.

    So basically for the last 22 years, the Europeans dithered and Ukraine slid deeper into corruption and political instability. Putin is being both an opportunist and a nationalist here. The two often amount to the same thing. There was a long tradition under the tsars of Russia being the Protector of the Slavs and this has translated into its being the Protector of Russians. Putin is simply creating facts on the ground, something that the US and NATO are unwilling to do, and he is doing it in areas that are overwhelmingly pro-Russian. I mean if Europe had actually engaged with Ukraine and improved the lives of Russian-speaking Ukrainians, this situation might never have presented itself for exploitation by Putin. But the US and EU didn’t care, and despite the rhetoric I doubt that they care that much now. The best way to deal with and/or contain the situation now is to hold plebiscites in Crimea and the two eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, that is opt for the Czechoslovakian solution. This would likely result in the loss of Crimea which historically was never part of Ukraine and coal mining and obsolete manufacturing areas in the East, which would not be that big of a negative.

    There are commonsense solutions to this, but then if there has been an abundance of commonsense in the first place, these problems would never have arisen.

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