Links 3/25/14

Brothers Spend Entire Life on Rural Farm (Carol B). I couldn’t view the images at all in Safari, but they came up just fine in Firefox.

Academics Spy Weaknesses in Bitcoin’s Foundations MIT Technology Review

Macabre fixation with a missing plane MacroBusiness

Why Speculation About MH370 is Evidence of Innumeracy TJ Radcliffe. Haha, my attitude has been “This speculation is a waste of time, we’ll eventually find out what happened, even if “eventually” is a long time from now.” And this story is clearly being pushed hard in the US and UK. You don’t see it getting anywhere near as prominent coverage in the Nikkei or Xinhua, when the crash was in their back yard and the flight had a large number of Chinese passengers.

Angry Chinese Homeowners Vent Frustrations After Price Cuts Wall Street Journal

Phat Dragon on how China will stimulate MacroBusiness

Taiwan government faces backlash after student crackdown Nikkei

German Confidence Falls for First Time in Five Months Bloomberg

Investors pile into Greece and Portugal on recovery bet Reuters

Tom Clancy, Military Man Andrew J. Bacevich, The Baffler (Chuck L)


Russia braced for $70bn in outflows Financial Times

Russia Gets Ready for Life Without Visa and MasterCard Bloomberg

Russia can hit US where it hurts, on Iran Financial Times

Crimea crisis: Russia and Ukraine hold first meeting BBC. I thought Russia was not recognizing the current Ukrainian government. So was this just an informal chat?

The Latest Heist: US Quietly Snatches the Ukraine’s Gold Reserves 21st Century Wire. Deontos points out that Jesse was on to this weeks ago: Ukraine Gold Reserves Said To Be Put On Plane For Safekeeping in the US

G-7 major powers snub Sochi summit over Ukraine crisis Nikkei versus Russia Is Ousted From Group of 8 by U.S. and Allies New York Times

Ukraine crisis: The weakness of Europe BBC

Petition for Alaska to join Russia gains 15k signatures Intellihub (1 SK). And in only three days.

Russia excluded from True Detective finale Daily Mash

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Report: Obama to propose NSA data overhaul USA Today

NSA Bids to Expand Spying in Guise of “Fixing” Phone Dragnet Marcy Wheeler

NSA: House bill would lower standards for collecting individuals’ data

After Reports on N.S.A., China Urges End to Spying New York Times Guardian

Obamacare Launch

Why enrollment numbers aren’t the final story for Obamacare success Daily Kos (Carol B)

Uninsured People Don’t Like or Understand Obamacare Atlantic. Lambert: “Tax on time”.

Health insurance basics stump many Obamacare shoppers, survey finds Los Angeles Times. Also increases odds that some of the supposedly happy Obamacare policyholders don’t understand what they bought and will be less happy when they find out that they have high deductibles and/or are in narrow networks.

Veteran New York Times Reporter: The Obama Administration Is “The Greatest Enemy Of Press Freedom That We Have Encountered In At Least a Generation” George Washington

The Missing Link to the Democratic Party’s Pivot to Wall Street Counterpunch (Chuck L)

More bodies found after US landslide BBC

Revealed: Visitor logs show full extent of Pierre and Pamela Omidyar’s cozy White House ties Pando. And this today: First Look publishes new editorial independence statement after Pando reveals Omidyar White House ties Pando. These statements about independence are not terribly credible in the light of reports that Omidyar is the most active person on First Look’s internal e-mails.

Janet Yellen’s Bigger Problem Bloomberg

Bankers’ Deaths Shine Light on Stress in Industry, Tunnel Vision Bloomberg. The industry has long demanded insane hours, so I am wondering why this is happening now, as opposed to 30 years ago. It may be that the gap between what high end banking and any exit options pay (even in finance) pay that the incumbents feel locked in (that in the old days, people would find new jobs and now they won’t even consider that). When I was at Goldman, the partners would remark when someone got married, “Now we really have him.”

ROSENBERG: The Business Spending Story Will Surprise Us To The Upside versus GRANTHAM: ‘The Next Bust Will Be Unlike Any Other’ Business Insider

What the Wolves of Wall Street can teach us about risk Robert Skidelsky, Project Syndicate

US loses edge as employment powerhouse Financial Times

More Evidence that Half of America is In or Near Poverty Nation of Change (RR)

Hurt in Crisis, TPG Pursues Smaller Deals New York Times. Big private equity firm has feet of clay.

Firm buys more Florida rental homes to bundle as bonds for investors Palm Beach Post

The Overprotected Kid Atlantic

Antidote du jour. Merlin sent this picture of her son’s Australian sugar glider:

Sugar Glider

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  1. vidimi

    omidyar is a scary person and greenwald et al would be wise to be more skeptical. his intentions are murky at best, and his connections should make alarm bells ring.
    however, it is wrong to attack the journalists themselves over this as their work has been unimpeachable. it is also counterproductive, as people are more likely to respond defensively to personal attacks.

    i just hope that greenwald, scahill, poitras, wheeler, taibbi, froomkin, and anyone i’m missing out – a truly all-star cast – are careful to avoid walking into any traps.

    1. psychohistorian

      The all-star cast has already walked into the trap. They have been carefully herded into an organization that can and will neuter their efforts.

      Think about where we are in the iron fist coming out of the velvet glove. The all-star cast has been leading efforts to show the ugly underbelly of our social organization and before now those efforts were more ad hoc. Now, TPTB will know before hand what the story line will be and can limit them internally and/or prepare to counter them externally……no more surprises.

      It makes me wonder about Snowden’s release of his NSA data trove to these folks. Was it a mistake by him or just part of a bigger scheme to keep us little people enthralled? If Snowden is the real thing, he will release his NSA data trove to others to insure it gets more embarrassing exposure than it will now. If he doesn’t then the conspiracy theories will grow about the power of money.

      1. vidimi

        according to gg’s latest post, snowden has no more documents to release as he gave them all up to the few journalists he trusted to do as they thought best with them. so far, the reporting has been well researched, thoughtful, and prudent.

        the problem is that the doj is trying to build a case against gg and first look may be throw him and the others under the bus should they let their guard down for one second and slip up anywhere.

        anyway, i don’t think there’s much to shock us left in the snowden trove, despite the journalists saying that there is still a lot more to come. i think the truly revealing stuff is already out in the open, and it’s now or never when it comes to putting a lid on these rogue institutions. time will tell, of course, but i think the now ship has sailed away and we’re left with the never.

      2. hunkerdown

        What makes you think Snowden is still is in possession of anything to hand off, or even if he had that he could do so without incurring unacceptable risks on behalf of people who aren’t even interested in the debate?

        You and others who make such demands aren’t even whistling Dixie. You’re wandering through the streets of Gordium whistling Scarborough Fair in the key of McGuffin.

        At this point, there’s enough out there to understand that we have the status of livestock to those who have authority over the means of production, and that we need to resist their constant calls to be nasty and brutish to one another over believing the “wrong” system of lies if we’re to become capable of the unified action necessary to get out from under the internal imperialist boot.

  2. ambrit

    The Andrew Bacevitch piece on Tom Clancy is right on point, and very soft pedaled.
    The several army vets working at the Boxxstore I toil mightily in generally share Mr. Bacevitchs’ wry view of the actuality of military service versus the fictional kitsch served up by Clancy and his ilk. The two I speak with who have actually “seen the elephant” and have the scars to prove it both scorn Mr. Clancys type of storytelling. Both remark that real warfare is much more like “Catch 22” than anything written by those described by one of them as “War Pornographers.”
    I was going to compare Mr. Clancy with Kipling. Both were writers of what I can best describe as “Official Imperial Propaganda.” That would be a disservice to Kipling. The man was also a poet. A product of his time and place, Kipling ended up losing his only son in the Trenches of WW1 France. Mr. Bacevitch did the same in the Iraq war. Having supped too fully at the font of sadness, these two, not the legion of fantasists pandering to the baser urges of the uninformed, deserve our regard and our respect.
    Rest in peace Tom Clancy. The Empire you so assiduously shilled for will be joining you soon.

    1. Banger

      Clancy mined the fact that Americans need to believe in something beyond greed–that “something” is and was “our brave men and women in uniform” and “thank you for your service” bullshit–the idea is here are people who risk their lives for very low pay for the good or our country. There is virtually nothing the military does that does any good and they most certainly do not “protect” us from anything. But the need to believe is something “good” is an overwhelming need for all of us–we consider all military people as “heroes” because we don’t have any–selfless behavior is so rare we invent it even if it doesn’t exist so great is our need.

      1. vidimi

        nothing makes me sicker than referring to any schlub in a uniform as a ‘hero’, often with the ‘h’ capitalised.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          The veracity of your comment notwithstanding, it brings to mind such phrases as “third rail” and “ten-foot pole.”

      2. MikeNY

        ITA Banger. For the guy on the street, it’s tied up with American Exceptionalism and the belief that America really is the promised land and the empire of good. It’s terribly hard for people to hear, let alone accept, that the US is probably the greatest malevolent force on the planet, that life in other countries may actually be better, and that they’ve been force-fed propaganda since kindergarten.

        Of course, the reflexive veneration of the military perfectly suits the plutocrats’ and elites’ agenda: protection from the pitchforks.

        1. psychohistorian

          I agree but think that if the global plutocrats really expect those in uniform to protect them, making many of them rely on Food Stamps for survival is not a good strategy.

          1. vidimi

            once they’ve completed their service, they are discarded like everyone else. i can’t really feel sorry for them, though.

          2. hunkerdown

            But if they turn them loose with a chip on their shoulder among the general populace, well, maybe Something Unfortunate Will Happen and they can ratchet the next bolt down in the destruction of the public.

      3. optimader

        The “best and brightest” plucked from stripmall parking lots across small town America by trained recruiters

        1. James Levy

          It’s very hard to see inside the life of the military today. The letters and diaries and courts martial records of the 1880s and 1890s are more revealing than anything we have to rely on today to tell us the nature and culture of today’s military. Just as the letters from Civil War soldiers are so much more revealing about what war and combat are like than anything available to 20th century historians. By World War I self-censorship and fear that someone up the ladder will read my letter and punish me for “disaffection” or some-such nonsense had taken hold and by WWII the letters home were completely bland and almost uniformly unrevealing (and unlike the Civil War, families no longer seem to keep them, probably because they don’t say anything). Therefore, handicapping what the military will do under any given set of circumstances is a mugs game.

    2. susan the other

      Ambrit, you were the one who directed me to Bacevich. I read two of his articles and listened to his interview on Democracy Now. I liked his style – factual and relentless, but not so much playfulness. This Baffler post is a little too playful for my radar. I like everything Bacevich is credited with saying here – about the really bad bad Clancey romance novels on modern-day chivalry (more or less) and I’m amused that Clancey is an equally bad cadaver. But the things that make me a tiny bit uneasy are the comments about Reagan. Who only bluffed about going to war and who wanted to end the cold war and eliminate the threat of nuclear war and disaster. Yes, Reagan was the Hollywood President, but my instinct tells me somebody else besides Bacevich wrote the bulk of this clever and satisfying article; somebody who stands to gain from framing Reagan as the idiot responsible for our military misadventures, when in fact it is another group of people altogether. Just my gut feeling. I always hated Clancey. He was an immoral whore.

      1. ambrit

        Dear sto;
        You hit upon something my subconscious was trying to tell me too. This reads like something Bacevitch would send to a colleague or friend as a private message. You are right, too jokey for the Profs usual style. Could he have been “lightening up” his style because the piece was intended for the Baffler from the beginning? I know nothing about how the Baffler acquires its’ content. Do they request pieces, or do writers “pitch” them to the editors? It would be educational to find out. (Demand push vs. demand pull.)
        As for the Regan Anti-Hagiography in evidence, if my reading serves me well, Bacevitch served in the Army precisely during Reagans Reign and was thus in the right spot to see the special kind of madness that the neo-cons were imposing upon Americas’ soldiers. That, along with his personal loss due to the Neo-Con Adventure in Iraq could account for the Anti Reagan tone we saw in the article. The Wiki on Tom Clancy prominently mentions Clancys’ close relationships with the Neo-Con movement. It does go so far as to mention that a positive mention of “The Hunt For Red October” Clancys’ first book, by none other than then President Reagan started Clancy on the road to part ownership of the Cardinals, among other trappings of “Popularity.” IU do hope that the Baffler doesn’t “help” contributors “punch up” their pieces. Bacevitch is certainly not a man who would sit still for meddling in his writings. So, the Mystery remains.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The Baffler edits very heavily. The current editor virtually dictates story lines. I refused to write for them when I got a wind of the editorial approach, and another writer I like says writing for this editor was hell, he basically thinks he’d a genius and everyone who writes for him knows less. He literally tried lecturing me on the history of finance and he was just….wrong….and refused to respond to facts.

    1. dearieme

      “traditional East End funeral procession”: and there was me thinking it looked like a gangster’s funeral.

  3. abynormal

    Thanks Merlin for today’s antidote!!
    (part of me says ‘I Want One’…another part thinks they just ‘look’ adorable’))

  4. dearieme

    German Confidence Falls for First Time in ……ooh, wait for it ….Five Months


  5. Banger

    I think the obsession with the missing plane is, in part, a function of our fascination with disasters and in part a need for society to establish that everything, ultimately, is under control and that out-of-control events will be dealt with no matter the cost.

    On the Ukraine Gold heist–if we existed in a world where there was a solid system of international law this would not be a problem–but we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where power comes from force only. Those that have it rule those that don’t are ruled.

    1. Banger

      FYI, the mainstream media has said nothing about Ukrainian gold–sometimes they attempt to debunk this kind of story–but haven’t so far. Of course, the story may be yet another fake news-story.

      1. notexactlyhuman

        Too busy pandering #expertspeculation about a missing plane to cover real news. Whoops, you weren’t supposed to notice. Slight of hand and all.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        According to the story noted by Jesse and translated from Russian, the Ukranian gold was transported to the US on an “unregistered transport plane … “

        Recently I think I heard something about some overseas airline having trouble accounting for all of its planes…..

        Just thinkin’ out loud……

      3. psychohistorian

        For those of us that consistently skim ZH, this is couple week or so old “news”. I put news in quotes because I no longer seriously believe much of what I read as the complete truth.

        1. susan the other

          I’ve been thinkin’ that the US protests too much. Our MSM has been howling about this tragedy for 2 weeks without providing any info at all. So my first suspicion is that there was a Chinese official, or person of influence, who knew too much and was not in line with US global objectives right at a critical time – of manufactured excuses for Russia to align with China and India, for instance, in a new oil trading block, and this person or these people needed to be quickly silenced. Maybe. Like anyone believes in a free market or even globalization any more.

          1. James Levy

            The entire affair was a disgraceful joke. Everyone playing dumb, nations giving out no information or degraded satellite images, no news on the transponders in the passenger’s PDA’s or cell or satellite phones, no news from the huge radar facility the US has on Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean–a complete joke swallowed whole by an ignorant press and gullible public. I’d guess that one or more countries knew what had happened within 24 hours of the disappearance, but the families were left to twist in the wind and hear so much rubbish that the families will never be at peace. But rest assured, our capabilities are safely hidden from those who already know what the are or can’t duplicate them if they did.

      4. Synopticist

        The fact that the usual suspect MSM hasn’t covered this with an eye-rolling “these crazy gold bug conspiracy theorists” attitude might indicate it’s actually true.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I agree with the part about showing everything is under control.

      We can grow our way out of this. Economic system still valid, still good… Under control.

      We can still save the planet. We know how. I am in charge here now… Under control.

      Thus, the search here for a cause. Maybe this one: ‘We know why the plane disappeared. Not enough stimulus money spent on surveillance. We need more money to cover every inch!’ Lucky one timer. We know how to fix it. We are in control here. More money and everything is good. Money can buy anything. All good. All under control.

      Thus, every story, every movie must have an ending. For crying out loud, don’t leave your audience hanging.

    3. Andrew Watts

      The whole furor over a missing plane is designed to distract and focus attention on something else. I’m guessing the unfolding story of Ukraine is becoming uncomfortable to report on. Either to the American public and/or due to the fracturing sentiment within the Establishment.

      The vast majority of Americans don’t want to know what’s really going on anyway. Let’s be honest over the fact they’re being given exactly what they want. For the rest of us it’s just another instance of “all the news the government wants you to hear”.

      1. Synopticist

        This is something which isn’t getting the attention it deserves…
        A huge al qeada led offensive into northern Syria, clearly co-ordinated with Turkish intel, with wounded fighters getting rushed straight to Turkish hospitals. They managed to assemble several thousand jihadi fighters, with the logistics train that goes with them, without alerting Syrian intel, or the attentions of anyone else. Not something you can do without serious state assistance. Turkey also shot down a syrian jet a few days ago. Our NATO “allies” chumming up with al qeada yet again, despite making noises about not doing it anymore.
        The very exceptionally sparse MSM coverage leaves out the fact that most of the fighters involved belong to AQ,,,

        1. Andrew Watts

          The last thing I’ve heard about Syria is Assad’s forces capturing a major rebel stronghold. If they’re launching attacks from across the border this seems like a desperate forlorn hope. It might be the last rebel offensive of the conflict.

        2. Banger

          AQ, in particular and violent Islamic radicalism has long bee aided and abetted in the region by British, Israeli, Turkish, Saudi, and U.S. covert operators as a counter to socialist and progressive forces in the region since Nasser reared up and provided a different vision for the Arab world other than underneath the boots of colonial powers.

          The mainstream media will not and cannot examine this reality.

          1. Synopticist

            In pure machiaveian, real-politiqiue, nation state self-interest terms there should have been a terminal date to this idiot policy. Some point in mid september, 2001.
            Before that it might have made debatable sense. After that, it was suicidally f*ckin stupid to carry on with it. Al qeada is not the friend of the west, and it never will be.

            1. Banger

              Well, they certainly are not my friends–but why is NATO supporting them then? Aren’t they more noxious than Assad? Why have the Saudis, the closest US ally in the region (along with Israel) been the main source of support of AQ before and after 9/11?

              1. Synopticist

                Why are we supporting them? Certainly in part it’s become a matter of national prestige. We announced “Assad must go”, and therefore he must go, or we’ll look weak. And because the AQ involvement in Syria started from a low base (unlike the sunni sectarianism, which was there from the start), we could first deny it, then minimalise it, then as now rationalise and blame the regime for it. So the fact of heavy AQ involvement was never properly intellectually confronted, which might have led to a change of policy.
                And now we’ve spent so much soft power/propaganda in demonising the Syrian govt that we can’t go back. Just a few days ago HRW (an arm of the State dept when push comes to shove) demanded a UN arms blockade on the Syrian regime, but not the rebels. That might have looked sensible and fair in 2011, but in the spring of 2014 it’s patently absurd.

                As for the saudis, spreading Wahhabi beliefs is their form of soft power imperialism. And AQ are a form of semi-deniable, semi-detached Saudi hard power. There have been long debates within Saudi elites about how much support to give them, but they’ve been useful in de-stabilising enemy regimes even as they threaten on the home front.
                Oh, and oil, obviously. So they get away with funding people who kill NATO soldiers, cos they’re Saudi.

                1. Procopius

                  The CIA created Al Qa’ida, funded them, trained them, armed them and provided them with intel. Wiping them out was never a goal. We’re using them now to achieve our objective, just as we did in the ’80s. Also, too, Iran-Contra.

  6. Jim Haygood

    From The Atlantic article on O-care by Olga Khazan:

    Opposition to the law is as high as the annual cap on out-of-pocket expenses for a family plan at the Bronze level.

    The bigger problem? Many uninsured people have no idea what that last sentence means.

    Well, sh*t, neither do I. For Bronze plans, the annual out-of-pocket cap for a family plan is $12,700.

    So the level of opposition to Obamacare is equal to $12,700? Bad news, on a day when the temperature’s barely above 32 inches, and it might snow a couple of degrees.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Bah Humbug!!! and Get Off My Lawn!!!

      From her picture at the bottom of the article, Olga looks pretty young. It wouldn’t be out of line to cut her some rhetorical slack.

      Although your comment WAS pretty funny and clever, I’m sure her thoughts, oblique though they might have been, were along the lines of “VERY” high.

      1. Jim Haygood

        What she probably meant was the ‘copay percentage’ (an estimated 40 percent) and not the ‘annual cap’ (a dollar amount).

        It was her gratuitous taunt that ‘most uninsured people have no idea what that means’ that obliged me to point out that actually, her garbled terminology doesn’t mean anything.

        Goes to show, though, that insurance companies use words to mean very specific things. For those without degrees in contract law and actuarial science, translating these terms into an estimated payout on one’s own health scenario is an exercise in futility.

        Meanwhile, one thing is perfectly clear: Social Security pays a death benefit of $255. Off to Pottery Barn to choose a nice urn!

      2. Lambert Strether

        I like the phrase “health literacy.” It means learning to fight your way through a horribly designed and user-hostile system that funnels profit to sociopaths, and then feeling proud of yourself because that’s how life should be, exactly like “computer literacy.” And “financial literacy.” Because markets.

        1. Procopius

          Ah, “markets.” To achieve Pareto efficiency, all market participants must have complete information. They must know everything about every provider, every product (the products are supposed to be homogenous, but …) and every other consumer, throughout time neverending. Most particularly, according to Alan Greenspan, they must know about any character flaws and any tendency to dishonesty in every participant in the market. Obviously they must know the asking price. In addition, there must be no obstacles to entry into the market and no transaction costs associated with finding other participants and agreeing on a transaction. When we have markets like that for health insurance or health care I’ll be more inclined to think there could be some reason for consumers to “have skin in the game.” Medicare for all.

  7. notexactlyhuman

    Good thing Obama played his DADT and DOMA cards at precisely the right time. Looks like the groundswell against his deadly administration and it’s coziness with corporate America was spiraling out of control. Got the gays and Bradley Manning supporters off his back right quick, reeling the Obamapologists back in and leaving the remaining malcontents to stand on street corners kicking rocks all by their lonesome. Whatever happened to that Bradley Manning kid, anyhow; hitch a ride on a Drone to Pakistan?

  8. Whine Country

    Janet Yellen’s problem: How do you keep people informed of policies that you are making up on the fly? Hard to have a real policy when the Fed’s mission is to provide cover for our idiot legislators who believe that they have been elected to re-arrange the deck chairs.

    1. curlydan

      Janet Yellen’s problem pt 2: How do you kick heroin without serious withdrawal?

      Grantham’s full interview is worth a read. Click the link in the BusinessInsider article. After the fact, he’s advocating a rip the Band-Aid off solution (to mix metaphors) while Yellen is slooowwlyy peeling the Band-Aid back all the while dumping antibiotics and antiseptic in all the time.

  9. optimader

    Why Speculation About MH370 is Evidence of Innumeracy

    Much of the speculation is evidence that many people want to believe the worst about other people. It’s easy, sensational media content to exploit and it serves the Organs of State Insecurity. The minority of fact driven speculation is signal overwhelmed by noise.

    Noise aside, is the desire to reveal a mystery any more or less a waste of time than speculating about the enigma of economics and what the future hold for us?
    From a practical perspective, rational or not, solving the former will give me a bit of information to consider before boarding an aging 777 in general, and more specifically, one operated and maintained in Asian service. In the past, I flew in a couple pretty dodgy looking 747s between Narita and Beijing, just say’in…

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Word of the day from the Bacevich article: LOGORRHEA

      Definition: excessive talkativeness: excessive talkativeness, especially when the words are uncontrolled or incoherent, as in some psychiatric conditions


      noun 1. pathologically incoherent, repetitious speech. 2., incessant or compulsive, talkativeness; wearisome volubility

      Used in a sentence: The relentless LOGORRHEA surrounding the disappearance of MH370 may be construed by some as an attempt to reinforce flagging support for the abuse of airline passengers by Homeland Security/TSA agents at American airports.

    1. sd

      Developers build in well-known wildfire zones (Glendora), in liquefaction zones (SF ballpark), on flood plains (lower 9th ward), slide zones (Malibu)…the list goes on. The developers are long gone by the time death arrives.

    2. armchair

      King County, the county south of Snohomish County where the mudslide occurred is in the same ecosystem. It was a major political battle when growth restrictions were put on East King County. The political borders of both King and Snohomish Counties go East into foothills and all the way up to the passes. People still bitch about the growth managemern policies. Snohomish County does run totally red, but it is definitely more red state than King County. Growth management is properly seen as government control, property takings and communism. The King County Executive, Dow Constantive has a nickname among East King County developers, Chairman Dow (hahaha). Still, no place can ever outsmart nature, and besides population pressure is a force of nature too. I think the county and state government should be accountable, but I am not boiling any tar just yet. I need to look in the mirror before I do that. After all, I’m perched on a steep hill as I write this.

      1. armchair

        Should not have said, properly seen as communism. Should have edited. It is understable, though, why it is vulberable to that king of rightwing rhetorical attack

  10. McMike

    Good stuff: Chomsky’s right: The New York Times’ latest big lie
    More misleading half-truths from a paper too cowed by power and myth to tell the truth about U.S. foreign policy

    [excerpt] The adage among properly cynical diplomats used to be that they were sent abroad to lie for their country. During the Cold War, as Washington’s sponsored atrocities grew evident, the thought took a turn: Diplomats were sent abroad to lie to their country.

    Consider it a template and apply it to our press folk.

    Correspondents used to be sent abroad to keep the country informed (in theory, at least). Now correspondents go forth to send home a simulacrum of truth, a semblance, while keeping their country misinformed.

    1. vidimi

      thanks for that; an important piece.

      the only thing i’d disagree with is the assumption that the disconnect with what the media are telling us and what we’re actually doing is a result of the empire’s decline. i would posit that the gap between what we do and what we think we are doing was always an integral part of america’s foreign policy, whether at the peak of its empire, at its ascent, or now in its denouement.

    2. MikeNY

      Yes, it’s arrogant, hypocritical, and risible that the US Government thinks it can pronounce who has a ‘right’ to nuclear technology. It’s like being lectured on parenting by Jerry Sandusky.

  11. kristiina

    I do think it is quite strange that an entire aeroplane can just disappear. And now it turns out it disappeared not too far from Diego Garcia. Don’t they have any kind of lookout for things flying nearby? I mean, if it is possible to spy on everything, how come it is totally impossible to find out anything about this missing plane? I, for one, am mystified.

    1. McMike

      Yes, it is possible to believe that most nations’ radar systems has limits that leaves gaps out in the ocean. Most nations.

      I also find it hard to believe that the US does not have 24/7 radar/satellite/electromagnetic/thermal/Godknowswhat tracking of every inch of every part of the entire earth. Literally.

    2. psychohistorian

      Of course the US has satellites and such that track everything in the air.

      But it was only a few hundred “foreign” people and therefore cannot justify letting all know our real monitoring capabilities. (snark/off) Think about how many died on 9/11 and in the trumped up wars since…..what are the lives of a few hundred in the larger scheme of empire?

      1. bob

        The plane disappeared over the southern indian ocean. That’s not a place with anything, let alone anything worth watching.

        Take a basketball. Bring it to the end of your nose. How much of the basketball can you see with one eye?

        That’s a satellite view of earth.

  12. Andrew Watts

    RE: NSA: House bill would lower standards for collecting individuals’ data

    It’s isn’t lowering standards as the “reasonable articulate suspicion” is what the NSA is already using for bulk collection data. This standard of suspicion is permissible as long as it involves a degree of transparency so that it’s not being abused. It should also only be applied on an individual basis. The FBI isn’t necessarily going to have a clear case of probable cause with every counter-intelligence investigation. Which is a genuine area of concern that the Freedom Act omits from consideration.

    Despite the glaring shortcomings (see Wheeler’s article) of the House bill it represents real progress towards a political settlement. It accepts the limits on the length of time this content can be held as well as other concessions that I’ve made abundantly clear in the past are non-negotiable.

    It’s not the final say in the matter though.

    1. hunkerdown

      What makes you think that, if they’re not adhering to the law as it stands, that they would as it stands tomorrow? They need privileges taken away, a bodacious whupping behind the woodshed, and sent to bed with no supper. They don’t need a behavior contract!

      Dr. Benjamin Spock’s childrearing advice is unsuitable for dealing with our institutions. We should be looking to the child abuse manuals of the Christian Reconstructionist movement for a more effective stance.

  13. Synopticist

    “…officials are asking the same question of Europe: “How strong is its resolve when it comes to Ukraine?””

    Answer, not at all strong. Can Germany do without it’s massive export market, can London survive without Russian oligarchs, can Europe keep warm without Russian gas? Do we want to become even more reliant on semi-rogue, terrorist backing Gulf absolutist monarchies to keep the lights on? Do we want millions of Ukrainians flooding into western Europe driving down wages, when there’s already a chronic youth unemployment problem ??

    Nah. This is mostly idiot neo-cons getting back at Putin, and we want no part of it. Poland, the Baltic states? Yeah, that would be different. But so the benighted, poor, multi-disappointed Ukrainians can swap one set of oligarchs for another without holding an election, count us out.

      1. Banger

        It is a good idea to start with this concept and really think it through. The U.S. mainstream media from Fox to NPR are propaganda/PR outlets for various factions of the oligarchy. There is no “objective” coverage of the news. Almost everything published about Russian and the Ukrainian crisis are blatant lies. I think we can safely say that, increasingly, the media in Europe is following, slavishly the lead of their leaders.

        I’ve noticed this tendency for a long time in the U.S. press since the 80s. But it’s gotten worse during this administration. The news, as reported, is so obviously a tissue of lies that I am actually shocked. Reporting in previous crises had some sense of truth about it–but this one is truth-free.

        That is not to say that you can trust RT either but its reporting is far more realistic.

        1. Murky

          Remember the bombing of Serbia? That propaganda campaign was even worse. Serbs were demonized as evil incarnate, and Kosovar Albanians were a brutally oppressed freedom-loving people. Yada yada yada. Never mind the facts of any civil war are extraordinarily complicated. Propaganda is effective. Simplifies issues to stereotypes of good and evil. People suck it up and acquire instant opinions. Once people reach a verdict in their own minds, no further thinking is required.

          Russian media and propaganda is not any better than the Western variety, and in a number of respects worse. Worse because it’s more directly state controlled, and the disinformation tends to be a bit thicker. Do you know any history of Russian news media? For the Soviets it started with TASS (Soviet Telegraph Agency – raw party line dreck 1918-), then NOVOSTI (soft prop for general consumption 1962-), then RT (Russia Today, highly sophisticated 2005-). My job requires that I occasionally wade through all this stuff from various decades. In general, I find it harder to dig out the truth when dealing with Russian sources. There are still a few independent news outlets in Russia. Ekho Moskvy is a big favorite of the intelligentsia, but it’s not TV, just radio and a web portal. If you want a break from RT, try Moscow News which is in English and does carry some quality of content.

          The broad question: How to side-step propaganda whether East or West? I’d say read historians rather than journalists. Historians tend to have a couple decades sunk into their subject, which does qualify them as true experts. But hiding from the mass media is almost impossible, and we get soaked in journalistic opinions whether we like it or not. We’re all brainwashed to some degree.

          About the Tymoshenko audio tape… She advocates using nukes against them Russkies in East Ukraine! Oh yeah! I’ll believe that! It’s on audio tape! Gotta be true!

  14. Jackrabbit

    BBC’s Crimea crisis: Russia and Ukraine hold first meeting includes a capsulized summary of events leading to Crimea’s joining Russia:

    “Moscow’s annexation of Crimea on 16 March came after protesters overthrew pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych in February.
    It followed months of street protests sparked by Mr Yanukovych’s decision to reject a planned EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with Moscow.”

    In contrast, the article Putin is Making the Wests Cold Warriors Look Like Fools in yesterday’s links has this capsulized summary:

    “The question remains: why did the West back a group of rock-throwing thugs as they forcefully ousted a Ukrainian president who, while no angel, had been legitimately elected until 2015? Why did we scrap a deal, signed by three EU foreign ministers, to form a ‘government of national unity’? Why is the current Kiev government ‘legitimate’ when its creation was opaque and transgressed Ukraine’s constitution?
    International law says ‘territorial integrity’ must be preserved and Crimea shouldn’t join Russia without Kiev’s say-so. But the UN Charter also enshrines a right to ‘self-determination’ — a right which Crimeans, for all the finger-pointing about a rigged ballot, have expressed in no uncertain terms.”

    = = =

    The BBC also dismisses the Tymoshenko recording as follows:

    “Meanwhile, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has denied the authenticity of a taped conversation in which she allegedly called for Russia to be turned into “scorched earth” and for ethnic Russians in Ukraine to be killed.

    Ms Tymoshenko said the recording, which has featured prominently on Russian news reports, was produced by Russia’s security services.

    She admitted speaking by telephone with Nestor Shufrych, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, but she said her words had been edited to discredit her.”

    Tymoshenko’s belligerent attitiude toward Russians is not even addressed. And the BBC doesn’t even provide a link to the recording on youtube. Nothing to see here.

    = = =

    The take-away:

    1) Propaganda is thick on both sides and is directed at each side’s own people. However, Western MSM seems to be more guilty because:
    * a) they tend to ignore history and key facts that a Western audience needs for a better understanding (Russians and Ukrainians are more cognizant of the history) – such as the agreement not to expand NATO at the end of the Cold War;
    * b) we expect more from our “free press” so manipulation – which can be detected by anyone with a bit more than average knowledge – is glaring;
    * c) you don’t fight propaganda with _more_ propaganda – you fight it by by pointing out lies and inconsistencies within the other sides propaganda. The US/West doesn’t seem capable of doing this, either because the US/Western position is fundamentally wrong (as the spectator snippet suggests) or they are inept (doubtful).

    2) The release of the “F@#k the EU” recording was could be interpreted as both push back and warning (as in “we’re on to your plans”). The release of the Tymoshenko recording has much the same feel. It provides an opportunity for Western re-evaluation. Yet it doesn’t appear that the West is inclined to take up such an opportunity.

    The continuing propaganda and sanctioning (no meeting of G-8 in Sochi) suggest that the US-led West has no intention of backing down / climbing down from an ill-advised, neocon driven geopolitical over-reach. MSM propaganda might facilitate such a wrong-headed path but Western intentions/actions in Iraq-Libya-Syria-Ukraine, (not to mention NSA spying) etc. will cloud our relations with non-Western states for years to come.

    When India and a US installed and supported Karzai publicly support the Russian position, you know that there is a serious problem. To use Nuland’s colorful analogy, for everyone except the neocons, the jelly has landed face down.

    1. Banger

      I think you have it about right. I would say, however, that Western coverage of the Ukraine crisis is 98% fact-free. RT’s reporting, while biased is more nuanced and more believable than the obvious and heavy-handed propaganda worthy of Stalin that comes from the U.S. media.

      As for the U.S. back-tracking–yes, it is likely to happen. What you are seeing is a tug-of-war between FP realists and neoconservatives (not that simple but those are the basic camps). One side makes a move and the other side counters that move–Washington is buzzing with dissent, disunity, and factionalism within the military, State, the intel community and the endless hands outstretched to catch the flying dollars. While I”ve often said the Prez has little power in Washington in times of such chaos I think Obama, who is a realist, will keep disaster at bay. The sad part is the mainstream media seems to be entirely run by the neocon faction–even Comedy Central, at least as far as FP is concerned.

  15. Boo-r....

    While the military was building Clancy’s military-fantasy brand, it was making the troops shut up. In 2007 Dana Boyd wrote,

    “A month ago, the military banned MySpace but not Facebook. This was a very interesting move because the division in the military reflects the division in high schools. Soldiers are on MySpace; officers are on Facebook. Facebook is extremely popular in the military, but it’s not the SNS of choice for 18-year old soldiers, a group that is primarily from poorer, less educated communities. They are using MySpace. The officers, many of whom have already received college training, are using Facebook. The military ban appears to replicate the class divisions that exist throughout the military. I can’t help but wonder if the reason for this goes beyond the purported concerns that those in the military are leaking information or spending too much time online or soaking up too much bandwidth with their MySpace usage.

    “MySpace is the primary way that young soldiers communicate with their peers. When I first started tracking soldiers’ MySpace profiles, I had to take a long deep breath. Many of them were extremely pro-war, pro-guns, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, pro-killing, and xenophobic as hell. Over the last year, I’ve watched more and more profiles emerge from soldiers who aren’t quite sure what they are doing in Iraq. I don’t have the data to confirm whether or not a significant shift has occurred but it was one of those observations that just made me think. And then the ban happened. I can’t help but wonder if part of the goal is to cut off communication between current soldiers and the group that the military hopes to recruit. Many young soldiers’ profiles aren’t public so it’s not about making a bad public impression. That said, young soldiers tend to have reasonably large networks because they tend to accept friend requests of anyone that they knew back home which means that they’re connecting to almost everyone from their high school. Many of these familiar strangers write comments supporting them. But what happens if the soldiers start to question why they’re in Iraq? And if this is witnessed by high school students from working class communities who the Army intends to recruit?”

  16. evodevo

    Brothers Spend Entire Life on Rural Farm
    Garrison Keillor’s “Norwegian Bachelor Farmers” !!!
    Obviously, this photographer hasn’t ever been to Ky. – I can point her to similar situations right here, albeit not as frequent as before 1980….

  17. bob

    More from “the great” steve jobs-

    ” Eric,

    I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this.



    “In general, we have a very clear ‘do not call’ policy (attached) that is given to every staffing professional and I reiterate this message in ongoing communications and staffing meetings. Unfortunately, every six months or so someone makes an error in judgment, and for this type of violation we terminate their relationship with Google.

    Please extend my apologies as appropriate to Steve Jobs. This was an isolated incident and we will be very careful to make sure this does not happen again.



    1. skippy

      Ummm…. cattle rustling is a hang’in offense… boys get the rope… where hav’in a party!

      skippy… there’s an app for that now…. sigh

  18. Hugh

    “US loses edge as employment powerhouse,” and no doubt written without any intention of irony.

    Re Glenn Greenwald et al, Omidyar and First Look, if you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas. I’m not sure who’s doing the hiring at First Look, but what I see is a clear tendency to hire reporters and bloggers who do not delve into the deep structures underlying their stories. It is all someone did something to somebody. This often makes for great reads, but it does not tell you why someone did something to somebody. Taibbi is a great example of this on the financial beat. He’s coarse, and funny, and in your face, but would you really depend on him to understand what is going on in the economy? I wouldn’t. Maybe it is because I write in some of these areas. Don’t get me wrong “vampire squid” is one for the ages, but does Taibbi know what a fiat currency is? Has he ever read an actual jobs report or gone through the tables?

    Objectivity is a myth, a lie, a con. Good reporting is a product of critical thinking, but it carries with it our values and the theoretical structure we place them in, our ideology as Glenn Greenwald has called in in the past. In the MSM, there is little critical thinking, and objectivity means defense of the status quo. At First Look, there is a great deal of avoidance about this. If they are writing to inform us, why are they gatekeeping so much of the Snowden material? Do they think we are too stupid to be incapable of making our own judgments about them? If they are writing to point out abuses and promote change, it is valid to ask what kind of change are they seeking and how much. None of this gets addressed. It is just swept under the carpet. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing” or “Know us by our product” does not begin to answer these questions.

  19. Sundog

    Re: Hanna Rosin’s The Overprotected Kid

    Applaud NC for placing it in the vital last link. Very thought-provoking piece.

    Doug Fabrizio at KUER Salt Lake did a good interview with Rosin about her work.

    Via Twitter, Steve Randy Waldman passes along a link that’s very much related, about a preK teacher driven beyond her limits.

    What impresses me is how quickly and radically what children *are* can change. Monbiot on extinction and the anthropocene doesn’t mention this explicitly, but I guess it’s very much related.

    1. PNW_WarriorWoman

      Hanna Rosin…she’s so full of crap. First it’s “The End of Men” [Oooohhhhh, those poor Mens] then “The Case Against Breast Feeding” [so many of us just didn’t do it and don’t need to make a case against it or for it.] and “You’re Not as Busy As You Say You Are” [Well, duh! Self-evident!] is now flapping on about “The Overprotected Kid” in The Atlantic. If she’d spend some time on real social, educational and economic inequality issues instead of click bait incendiary social shit that’s about three personal experiences and 6 inches from her nose on the playground and so damn easy to poke holes through she’d really be doing some good with her publishing platform which, BTW, comes along to her marriage and pillow time to the editor of Slate. But you see, that doesn’t help you monetize your brand in Washington D.C., so we have to suffer her wasting time and internet bandwidth on this baloney.

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