Links 3/4/14

Dear patient readers, I am still quite ill, spending 14 hours or so a day in bed and not able to leave my apartment. So forgive the thin offerings today.

Man tries to hug wild lion, you won’t believe what happens Facts FM (Richard Smith). Watch the video!

Your Broccoli Is Way Too Thirsty Barry Ritholtz

‘Fewer crops’ now feeding the world BBC

Report: Medical studies still neglect gender differences Newsday

Fed ‘has no authority’ over Bitcoin Guardian

Choosing Secure Passwords Bruce Schneier

Report from an MSRI MOOC conversation Cathy O’Neil

Forget The “Comfort Women” Row: Here’s Postwar Japan’s Biggest Abomination And It Is Still Unresolved Forbes (Bob H)

Thailand: Will the Yingluck government cease to be a caretaker government soon? Asian Correspondent

UK patients’ data uploaded to Google servers, serious privacy concerns ensue Engadget. Lambert” “Neo-liberal trolls and griefers wrecking the NHS, no doubt.”

David Cameron’s porn-filter advisor arrested for possession of images of sexual abuse of children BoingBoing (Richard Smith). Surely he had this material for strictly professional reasons, to test that the filters were working…right?

Iraqi Government Killing Civilians in Fallujah TruthOut

Obama warns of ‘fallout’ for Israel if peace effort fails Reuters


Putin orders troops near Ukraine border back to bases Telegraph. Mr. Market liked this.

Russia Calls Ukraine Intervention Legal Citing Yanukovych Letter Bloomberg

Ukraine crisis: UK prepares to rule out sanctions against Russia amid threat to global economy Telegraph. As we tweeted, with Europe dependent on Russian oil and gas, the idea of anything other than token sanctions against Russia is a non-starter. Or if I turn out to be wrong, this will be a circular firing squad.

Top Russians Face Sanctions by U.S. for Crimea Crisis New York Times. Sanctions against officials? So the US is gonna what, seize three apartments in Brooklyn? Putin must be laughing.

UK seeking to ensure Russia sanctions do not harm City of London Guardian. More of the same.

Inside Ukraine: Mish Reader Who Speaks Ukrainian and Russian Challenges Western Media View of Events Michael Shedlock

Cold war over Ukraine? AlJazeera (Richard Smith). This is a “cut the bullshit” analysis.

Why Russia no longer fears the West. It’s the offshore, stupid Tax Justice Network. Richard Smith points out that one should be wary of single-factor analyses, but this is indeed likely to be part of the equation.

Crimean Foreshadowing Slate. Wikileaks cables.

What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis Robert Parry, Consortium News (Lambert). A really solid piece.

Russia’s 2010 Military Doctrine Just Security

Russia’s central bank hikes overnight rate, ruble continues to weaken Walter Kurtz

Russian stocks rise as Asia keeps watch Financial Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Telecoms giants reportedly join tech firms in pushing back against NSA Inside Bay Area. Chuck L: “Seeing is believing.”

Obamacare Launch

U.S. Fine-Tunes Messaging for Home Stretch of Obamacare Sign-Ups Bloomberg

January Spending Was Driven by Health Care Dean Baker

Obama ignores the fundamental collapse of the black American family Guardian. Ahem, but bias in prosecution and sentencing plays a very big role in higher levels of incarceration among blacks too. White kids particularly affluent ones, get away with all sorts of stuff that puts black kids in jail.

Lies Our Political Elites Tell Us As They Rip Us Off Down With Tyranny (RR)

Secrecy at the Border On the Media. Francois T: “About the incredible lack of accountability of the US Border Patrol Agency and DHS in general. THAT is a great example of a fascist police state. Downright scary.”

Scott Walker’s little-known scandal: When he treated welfare recipients like dogs Salon

Philly Gas Works to be sold, pending City Council approval, for $1.86Bil, proceeds to fund pension benefits But: No quick OK by Council seen for PGW sale (Paul Tioxon)

How Colleges Could Get Rid of Fraternities Atlantic. Lambert: “I know! Let’s ask a billionaire for a big fat check! No, I’m not kidding.”

William White: Central banks making it up MacroBusiness. White was the chief economist of the BIS and started warning central bankers about housing bubble in many advanced economies in 2003. He was ignored because (I am not exaggerating) all he had was empirical information, and not a formal theory (and since neoclassicals believe prices are always right and virtuous, basically that was like asking to square the circle).

Ocwen plans $2 billion in mortgage principal reduction Housing Wire

Citi Affiliate’s Troubles Multiply With Subpoenas New York Times

Carmakers Say Sales Were Sluggish in Chilly February New York Times

Top 20 Heterodox Economics Books Lars P. Syll

Antidote du jour. From Strange Real Animals (Richard Smith):


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    1. sufferin' succotash

      Regarding the Parry article, it seems that Obama is just now in the process of finding out that the neocons are not his friends any more than congressional Republicans are his friends.
      Some learning curve.

  1. corner cubicle

    RE: “Your Broccoli Is Way Too Thirsty,” I would be interested to see what the water consumption footprints for various servings of meat are.

      1. Vatch

        Thank you, corner cubicle and markf! I was wondering the same thing. A huge amount of water is used for the alfalfa and corn that is fed to the cattle. Compared to the meat, the broccoli uses water very efficiently.

        Added bonuses: the meat has artery clogging saturated fat, which the broccoli lacks, so the broccoli doesn’t cause heart disease. And the broccoli has myrosinase and glucoraphanin, which are converted to cancer inhibiting sulphoraphane by chopping or chewing.

        So eat your broccoli with a clear conscience!

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Broccoli is good but ‘fewer crops’ now are feeding the world.

          So, don’t forget to eat a balanced diet with a bit of everything, meat, vegetables, fish, etc. and help maintain biodiversity (by not overeating and over-procreating).

        2. Pete

          Not all meat is the same. Pastured animals actually provide nutrient dense foods. Saturated fats are not your enemy. Processed foods, hydrogenated oils, refined grains and sugars will destroy your gut health, where most of your immune system resides.

          “What if I told you that there’s no evidence to support the idea that saturated fat consumption causes heart disease? What if I told you that the 50+ years of cultural brainwashing we have all been subject to was based on small, poorly designed studies? And what if I told you that a review of large, well-designed studies published in reputable medical journals showed that there is no association between saturated fat and heart disease?

          Well, that’s what I’m telling you. We’ve beed duped. Lied to. And we’ve suffered greatly as a result. Not only have we suffered from being encouraged to eat packaged and processed foods made with cheap, tasteless vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates (low-fat cuisine), but these very foods we were told would protect us from heart disease actually promote it!

          The recent review I’m talking about is a meta-analysis published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It pooled together data from 21 unique studies that included almost 350,000 people, about 11,000 of whom developed cardiovascular disease (CVD), tracked for an average of 14 years, and concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease or stroke.

          Let me put that in layperson’s terms for you:

          Eating saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease.”

          1. Nathanael

            Um, sorry, I’m not going to believe one meta-analysis; those are always shaky to start with.

            The evidence is far too strong — from good studies — that massive overdoses of saturated fat at the expense of all other food groups does promote heart disease among those who are genetically predisposed.

            In short, you shouldn’t be living off of pure butter and lard, and you shouldn’t be eating marbled beef as your main food group either.

            Like most other things with food, moderate amounts of saturated fat don’t seem to matter at all. But there were a lot of people in the US who lived on ridiculous almost-all-fat diets from the 1950s through the 1970s. The original move against saturated fats was correct; and then, of course, it was overblown.

            Moderation is the watchword.

            1. Pete

              “Massive overdoses” ?? If you are eating beef that is marbled due to being stuffed with grain, you are eating an herbivore that was raised on a diet it was not meant to eat. Grass-finished beef has very little marbling and has about as much fat as skinless chicken. It is nutrient dense. There are far more “good studies” now indicating it was our love affair with “whole grains” (which are typically not whole at all and go through heavy processing) and “low fat” sugary substitutes that have turned the US into a giant heart disease/diabetes clinic. There is plenty of available information about the entire ‘switcharoo’ pulled by the diet dictocrats….

              “Fat is an essential part of everyone’s daily intake – this is an undeniable fact supported by reams of scientific research! While many billions of dollars have been spent on marketing the dangers of saturated animal fats and the benefits of vegetable, grain and other seed oils for massive profits, I would like to tell you what you have not been told about fats, saturated, animal or otherwise.

              Saturated fats Animal products are the primary source of saturated fats in most people’s diets, although coconut oil and palm oil are 92% and 50% saturated fats respectively. Saturated fats constitute about 50% of the cell membrane. Together with protein, fats give our cells stiffness and integrity. They play a vital role in the health of our bones; for calcium to be effectively incorporated into the skeletal structure, at least 50% of the dietary fats must be saturated. They lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease. Saturated fats are needed for proper utilization of essential fatty acids; elongated omega-3 fatty acids are better retained in the tissues when the diet is rich in saturated fats. Saturated fats are also a rich source of Vitamins A and D.

              Short and medium chain saturated fatty acids have important anti-microbial properties, which help protect us against harmful microorganisms in the digestive track. Today as we are rampant with problems of digestive dysbiosis and parasite infection; it is one the most common issues that I see in my clients. Consistently, I find that athletes or people trying to recover from injury do not respond to exercise nor a high grade organic diet because they have parasite infections. I am of the belief that if more people ate quality fats from sources such as organic animals and organic coconut oils, we would not have such these problems with parasites and dysbiosis.

              Mary Enig PhD, a renowned researcher on fats, points out that the scientific evidence does not support the assertion that “artery-clogging” saturated fats cause heart disease. Actually, evaluation of the fats in artery clogs reveals that only about 26% of those clots are made of saturated fats. The rest are unsaturated, of which more than half is polyunsaturated – the stuff that is supposed to be good for us!”


              1. Vatch

                Regarding “artery clogging saturated fats”. That was my phrase, and it was intended as shorthand for the effect that saturated fat has on the liver. I apologize for the over-simplification. My understanding is that saturated fat in the diet induces the liver to manufacture harmful forms of cholesterol. So some of the components of the plaques that clog arteries are caused by saturated fat, even though those components are not saturated fat. Yes, I know that some cholesterol is necessary for proper cell functioning. As Nathanael says, moderation is important.

                As for grass fed beef, the average person is not going to have access to that type of food. If it increases in popularity, there will undoubtedly be cases of fraudulent labelling.

          2. Vatch

            Oh, crud. Something else I need to learn about. So dietary saturated fat might be benign? Please don’t tell me that artificial trans fats are benign or beneficial, because that will make my brain hurt!

            1. AliGator

              This discussion always reminds me of the Inuit Paradox- “a group of people who eat primarily only meat and fat, very little fruits and vegetables and are healthier than any other group of people. They seem to eat all the things that are blamed for heart disease and cancers (meat and fat) yet somehow have little to no diseases of modern man”. It seems that not all fats are created equal.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                The Inuits are not germane unless you plan to take up living in the Arctic Circle.

                It takes an enormous amount of calories to do physical work in extreme cold. Eating lots of fat is the only efficient way to do that. They are burning every bit of fat in daily activity, while Americans have well controlled temperatures and cars.

                1. Pete

                  When your body becomes ‘fat-adapted’ it uses fat for fuel and does not require the SAD dieters’ typical and frequent rush to reload on refined carbs to keep the metabolic motor running. Fat does not beget fat. The fat-adapted person can eat a (pastured/grass-finished) meat and veggie meal at 6pm and fast until noon the next day with no hunger pains, fatigue, or blood sugar fluctuations. I’m not an Inuit, but have recently taken up farming in the south so I do burn more fuel than the average cubicle rat, but I have no body fat (never have to “work out”) and blood work indicates I am in the best health of my entire life. Sorry for the anecdote but any nutritionist worth a salt can corroborate that “fat” has been falsely demonized by the junk food industry over the years….

                2. AliGator

                  Yves, respectfully, by that logic a disabled Inuit would develop heart disease. But they didn’t. Mother Nature doesnt make mistakes with her food supply. It’s humans tampering with her natural whole foods that caused most health problems (think eskimos now eating a Ritz cracker with a highly processed cheese spread both full of chemicals, trans-fat, empty carbs what have you).

                    1. Vatch

                      Of course, there is plenty of disagreement about this, and the Wikipedia article contains contradictions. Still, whatever the prevalence of suicide or euthanasia, in a harsh environment, people are likely to die from other causes before cardiovascular disease can take its toll.

                    2. AliGator

                      Vatch, are you saying that if by some good fortune a disabled Inuit lived to old age they WOULD develop heart disease? I would make the case that they would NOT.

                    3. Vatch

                      We’ll probably never know, until or unless the science of lipids and arteries advances significantly.

                    4. AliGator

                      So until those studies are in we should encourage the Inuit to eat our more civilized food of Fruit Loops and Pringle’s potato chips?I think the jury is in that their high-in-saturated -fat diet worked well for them. Not that we in the lower 48 could find properly sourced whale blubber at our nearest grocery store….but it does show that there are a lot food/diet narratives out there that are myths.

                3. Mildred Montana

                  As Nathanael said above, “…..massive overdoses of saturated fat at the expense of all other food groups does promote heart disease among those who are GENETICALLY PREDISPOSED.” (caps mine)

                  The life expectancy of the average fat-eating, beer-guzzling German is 81. The average fish-eating, abstemious Japanese has a life expectancy of 83. A mere two-year difference, when one would have expected it to be ten or twenty.

                  Clearly the Germans are genetically designed for a diet high in saturated fat. So, apparently, are the Inuit. Any discussion of diet which fails to take into account genetics is virtually worthless. And that probably applies to individuals as well as to groups.

      2. JohnM

        I raise 100% grass fed beef and lamb on non-irrigated perennial pasture. The ‘water consumption’ of my meat likely has no relationship to the values provided in the NatGeo link. Maybe these simplistic kind of comparisons would be more useful in evaluating alternative ag production methods rather than food types.

        1. Pete

          Conjugated Linoleic Acid….! Nice work. I’m getting tired of agricultural narratives that attempt to neatly fit into the ‘meat vs. vegetable’ false dichotomy. Whatever the corporate agriculture industry is mass-producing is the real threat to our ecosystems and health.

    1. different clue

      The water doesn’t disappear. It goes back into the solar-driven water cycle to be used again and again, same as for the last billion years. Just don’t use more of it for any purpose than what can cycle back to use for that same purpose, or you’ll create a local/regional water shortage. (Which is really an overuse longage).

        1. Keith

          High energy photons like UV crack apart water molecules. The hydrogen escapes into space while the oxygen combines with something else. On Mars, oxygen combines with iron atoms into red iron oxide. The same is probably happening on Earth but we started with much more water.

          1. Vatch

            Also, we have a planetary magnetic field that shields us from much of the solar radiation. Mars is a smaller planet, and its core solidified a long time ago, so there’s no longer a magnetic field being generated by circulating molten iron.

  2. dearieme

    “Report: Medical studies still neglect gender differences Newsday”

    But gender is just a social construct.

    P.S. The link doesn’t work for me.

    P.P.S. Get well soon, Yves.

  3. change agent

    Re. Ocwen’s 2 billion principal reduction agreement; as it stands at the moment, any fool taking a reduction or short sale deal is liable for Federal Income Tax on the full amount “earned” by accepting such a deal. If you owe 300k principal and they reduce it to 150k, you will owe a likely unaffordable amount to the IRS, and they’re not inclined to make deals.

    1. Brian

      If Ocwen is speaking, it is lifting your wallet while you watch. Recall Ocwen is the company that tells people that send it legal requests for detailed information regarding a beneficiary that; “we don’t know who owns your loan, just keep paying us”.
      I will bet a farthing that Ocwen has no beneficial interest on which it can rely as an agent/servicer.

    2. MLS

      Not necessarily. From the IRS website:

      The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.

  4. Chris Maukonen

    Top Russians Face Sanctions by U.S. for Crimea Crisis New York Times

    “In the first move under this new rule, Federal officials have seized 2 apartments in the Bronx, a Pizza Parlour and a stray cat. The apartments were unoccupied at the time and it has been reported that the Federal Officials ordered a large Pizza with anchovies. It is not know where the stray cat was taken for interrogation.”


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It sounds like something out of writings of the Ukrainian born Russian writer Gogol….maybe his St Petersburg Tales. We only need a wandering un-attached nose to complete this tale of sanctions in Bronx.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      It appears that at least some “lawmakers” are capable of understanding that institutions do not commit “crimes,” the HUMANS controlling them do. And that the most effective deterrent to such “criminal” activity is punishing those actual “humans.”

      Now, perhaps they could apply that same logic when considering the “illegal” activity of banks and drug companies…………

    3. Wayne Reynolds

      Could those be the pizzas that Ellen ordered at the Oscars? America needs to know.

    1. Wayne Reynolds

      The flu kept me in bed for 2 weeks a few years ago. Take it slow. Rest, rest and more rest.

  5. Raven

    “David Cameron’s porn-filter advisor arrested for possession of images of sexual abuse of children BoingBoing”

    That’s funny.

    1. Bunk McNulty

      I went to a swanky game reserve near the Kruger National Park in South Africa. The guide told us to stay inside the Land Rover. “The car is like a can of beans. As long as you stay inside it, the animals can’t smell you.” He also told us that a guide who’d gotten out of his vehicle for a smoke had been killed by a lion, and that the lion then had to be hunted down and killed, because, as he said, “Once they know they can do it, they’ll do it again.” He also said that every year a couple tourists get killed somewhere in Kruger because they think they can approach wild animals and pet them. “They’ve seen too many Disney movies,” he said.

      I greatly fear that this video is going to get people killed. I will not be at all surprised if Kevin Richardson eventually becomes one of those people.

      1. LucyLulu

        Definitely needs one of those “do not try this at home” labels for the children and any adults stupid enough to think that anybody other than Richardson can approach these lions.

        But it’s an amazing video. Later on one learns he raised the lions since birth after being abandoned by their mother. Nonetheless, he is a “lion whisperer”, he can read them, he knows their body language, and as Cesar Milan says, he has the “right energy”. It’s an ability that can be honed with practice but must already be present. The most amazing part to me was that he was able to speak “jackal” equally fluently.

  6. Pwelder

    wrt UK’s reluctance on economic sanctions over Ukraine, you can be sure that it’s not all coming from financial “services” types in the City.

    BP has a big slug of Rosneft, the remains of the lucrative TNK – BP joint venture that John Browne executed with AAR in 2005, with Putin standing behind the signatories at the photo op. Based on past performance, I think the Russians would expropriate that position in a heartbeat if given what they would regard as a pretext.

    US policy makers will be hearing a similar message from Exxon Mobil. Both companies talk to their governments; usually manage to keep the conversations out of the press.

  7. Hugh

    As I keep pointing out, the Soviet Union ended 22 years ago. The West, principally Europe had more than 20 years to pull Ukraine into its orbit, if it had wanted to. It did not want to. This sets up the dynamic of the present situation. The US and Western Europe feel the need to protest Russia’s actions, but they just really don’t care very much about Ukraine and never have. Germany is much more interested in the natural gas coming from Russia. Much of it transits Ukraine, but Germany considers Ukraine unreliable and has been seeking to bypass it. For the UK, Ukraine isn’t even a blip on the screen. Its priority is servicing the financial and money laundering needs of Russia’s oligarchs through the City of London. The low esteem of Ukraine in Europe was epitomized by the risible offer the EU made to Ukraine and which Yanukovych rejected. Meanwhile the US is focused on winding down the war in Afghanistan, continuing the war on terror, and its “pivot” to East Asia. Ukraine is little more than a distraction to these plans. Yes, the usual neocon clique will demand military action and talk about who lost Ukraine, but they always do this.

    Consider now Putin, his belief that the breakup of the USSR was a terrible mistake, and his vision of reconstituting it in the form of a “co-prosperity sphere” dominated by a colonial Russia. Ukraine is central to that vision. So we have this disparity in priorities. Ukraine is of squat importance to the EU, and its a very big deal for Putin. Remember Putin shelled out $50 billion for the winter Olympic Games in Sochi. What do you think he would be willing to pay to achieve de facto control of some or all of Ukraine and fulfill his imperial ambitions?

    There are a range of scenarios about how this could play out. The current minimum for Putin and Russia is the detachment of Crimea from Ukraine. The next step up from this is autonomy for Luhansk, Donetsk, and possibly Kharkov. The step up from this would be autonomy for the whole southern tier all the way to Moldova. This would effectively landlock, isolate, and contain what is turning into a highly anti-Russian Ukrainian hinterland in the north and west. To avert this and to remain viable, Ukraine needs to control Odessa. That is key.

    As happens in these situations, the possibility of miscalculation is enormous. It’s important to realize that while the Russian military has regained some capability, it is not anything remotely like the military under the Soviet Union. Russia is a commodities producer. While this makes it flush with lots of money, it is very dependent on its buyers and on the cash flows from them. Oligarchs are expensive. Their looting is a serious drain on the country, and anything more than a short interruption in external cash flows would destablize the country. This is all to say that Putin is running risks and this could all blow up in his face. It is not Russia’s strength which is more perceived than real but the West’s lack of interest that is his main advantage at the moment.

    1. optimader

      all renders to:
      1.) BOTH Europe and Putin & friends want reliable pipeline stewards for the NG transiting to the Ukraine to Europe, something like 30% of the European supply;
      2.) Putin & friends expecting Crimean leases to 2047 being honored.

      Europe went nuts when the NG supply was shut off in 2009, then under duress reestablished at lower rate while Putin & friends waited for the Ukraine to pull out the checkbook, (never happened w/ his progressively unreliably flunky Yanukovych).

      No drama NG transit and warm water for a struggling bluewater fleet, that’s about it, Otherwise the Ukraine is a loss leader for Russia. If the Crimea declares “independence” from the Ukraine, maybe Putin can negotiate a better deal. for his fleet logistics?

    2. Jackrabbit

      “Europe had more than 20 years to pull Ukraine into its orbit, if it had wanted to. . . they just really don’t care very much about Ukraine and never have.”

      I’m not sure that the case for neglect is that strong. Consider Poland, which was free of the Soviet Union as early as 1991 but didn’t vote to join the EU until 2003. And the problems that have come to light with Greece make it difficult to make the case for Ukrainian membership.

      My knowledge of Eastern Europe is not great, but important drivers of the current situation seem to be:
      1) The looming possibility of a closer connection with Russia via the up-coming “co-prospertity sphere” frightens western-leaning Ukrainians.

      2) Unrest in Ukraine is something of a ‘win-win’ for neo-con’s. Even if Ukraine is not wrested from the Russian orbit, Russian attention is diverted from other areas (Iran, Syria, Venezuela, etc.).

    3. susan the other

      A stable trading federation among the states of the former USSR is the greatest threat to our new trade agreements – that is our new “free” trade agreements because the former USSR will have rules that preserve national sovereignty which is the very thing we are trying to obliterate. Going after Ukraine is like a temper tantrum on our part. We really can’t accomplish anything. It’s true our oil majors would like to frack for natgas in Ukraine and offer Germany a better price, but not even Germany trusts us. I’m sure France is just telling us what we want to hear when it comes to TAFTA and we will achieve far less than we are hoping. So no one in the EU is going to facilitate our oil companies going into Ukraine to undercut the present pipeline from Russia. And without that concession we have little reason to storm the Ukraine. Add to this general worldwide distrust of the United States and the growing trust in Russia all over the world, and the growing trust for China as a trading partne and it looks like we are simply isolating ourselves and we are willing to sacrifice our own sovereignty to our feckless and fickle corporations to achieve this. So we don’t trust our own country. Who would? Speaking of fickle and feckless, we certainly can’t trust what Obama will do next. Altho we should give him credit for dismantling the millitary and going back channel with Putin. I’m glad to learn this.

      1. Hugh

        To answer you and the other commenters, the co-prosperity sphere would be colonial in nature. A lot of the natural gas that Russia sends to Europe originates in Central Asia, and Russia already takes a highly disproportionate slice of the profits from it. Ukraine has a high level of historic and economic importance to Russia. It was the USSR’s breadbasket and the eastern areas of it contained coal mines and heavy industries.

        While the media can’t, countries can and do multi-task. So Ukraine can occupy a lot of Russia’s resources and attention. This does not mean that its role in Syria especially disappears.

        Regardless of any leasing arrangements, Russia, and in particular Putin’s Russia was never going to relinquish its naval base in Crimea.

        Putin’s imperial ambitions conflict with Russia being a reliable supplier of natural gas to Europe. Empires do not run on commonsense. Putin needs the revenues from natural gas going to Europe. At the same time, the implicit threat to shut Europe off from this supply is part and parcel of the imperial mindset.

        1. Optimader

          “Regardless of any leasing arrangements, Russia, and in particular Putin’s Russia was never going to relinquish its naval base in Crimea.”
          Mmmm… Whos to say.. They were close to rolling up tge carpet in
          “… and Russia already takes a highly disproportionate slice of the profits from it…”
          Agian speculative. Whos to say what is disproportinate…? Im sure the russians would say the ukranians skimmed a disproportinate amount.

      2. Jess

        “the former USSR will have rules that preserve national sovereignty which is the very thing we are trying to obliterate”

        Normally, Susan, your comments strike me as containing a lot of knowledge and common sense. But this statement? Putin’s new Eurasian Union preserving national sovereignty? Like, by invading Ukraine? Keeping Belarus on puppet strings? I’m not the only one taking the opposite position. There was a linked post just yesterday that listed “no democratic governments” in the new Eurasian Union client states. And with only puppet governments controlled by Moscow’s iron fist there can be no national sovereignty.
        “we certainly can’t trust what Obama will do next. Altho we should give him credit for dismantling the millitary and going back channel with Putin”…
        Dismantling the military? Because he and Hagel are proposing a slightly downsized budget and knocking 20,000 men off our total number of troops? First, we have plenty of private contractors we can outsource boots-on-the-ground operations. Second, drones are an effective proxy for troops. Third, every Congressional district with a military base or a defense industry installation (IOW, every Congressional district) is going to fight any attempt at downsizing that might costs jobs in that district. Fourth, back channel with Putin? You mean a very public 90 minute phone call that the whole word knows about? Sorry, but today you seem to be off your game.

        1. ohmyheck

          In Links today, by Robert Parry, may be the reason for ” back channel with Putin”. Whether the article is true or not remains to be seen.

          1. VietnamVet

            The neo-cons are dug into State and DOD. Chevron sponsored the gathering where Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland (wife of Robert Kagan, chief neo-con) boasted that $5 billion had been spent to bring democracy to Ukraine. The revolving door and being cozy with the upper crust are in full force. But, deep down ideology drives the neo-cons. Russia is evil. So what if there is a war. God is on our side.

            Our leaders are so incompetent that they don’t know what’s going on below them. Also, they don’t care. One has to make $200 million to double up on the Clintons.

  8. Kurt Sperry

    It isn’t clear that lithium-ion batteries are or will be the best means of energy storage for a new more distributed and decentralized power generation future but his high profile effort may well push the ball forward. My cynicism about the corruption of late stage oligarchical capitalism where our putatively democratic political institutions have become little more than chew toys for squillionaire supervillains and rapacious sociopathic supranational corporate looters makes me wonder about whether needed challenges to the status quo will even be given a fair chance to supplant existing entrenched interests. Expect those entrenched interests to fight tooth and nail to deny opportunities to any alternatives that threaten their business models or income streams. It may sadly be that, to paraphrase American gun rights ghoul Wayne LaPierre, the only way to stop a bad oligarch with a squillion dollars is with a good oligarch with a squillion dollars.

  9. Emma

    Re: Man tries to hug wild lion…
    Richard – Many thanks for sharing this both beautiful, and awe-inspiring video.
    It’s truly alarming that we’ll probably not see lions in Africa in 20 years as Kevin points out, and his conclusion is appropriate “We don’t need clever humans coming in telling the animals how to do what they know how to do naturally. Giving back habitat, and restoring habitat, that should be the token.”

  10. Jackrabbit

    I just read the ‘ABOUT’ page. Kudos to Yves for a very eloquent and clear statement of what NC is ‘about’.

    Get well soon Yves.

  11. Jackrabbit

    Man tries to hug wild lion

    This story is wrong in a way that is very dangerous. I believe that the lions ARE wild but only because they were released from captivity. Richardson and the lions have know each other for a long time.

    As explained in his wikipedia entry:

    “He warns about following in his footsteps, however. All the pictures of his adventures do not portray his years of experience and bonding. “People like to take things out of context. They don’t know the relationship I have with this lion.” As a rule, Richardson only interacts with lions he has been with since their birth.”

    Hopefully no one will be inspired by this sensational article to go hug a wild lion.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      This is the Age of Cuteness we live in…it may be dangerous, but it’s cute.

      Thus, rapacious corporations all have cute names or logos.

      Gotta be trendy and fashionable.

      1. Laurens M. Dorsey

        Cuteness, indeed, the idiot child of Sentimentality, what James Baldwin called “the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty.”

    2. Emma

      Jackrbbit – watching the video makes it clear that he only connects with those he’s known since birth. The video is about protecting and managing wildlife to leave/maintain a legacy because so much of it is in danger due to mans acquisitive exploits.

  12. optimader

    “Hopefully no one will be inspired by this sensational article to go hug a wild lion.”
    At least not without a video camera running

    1. Emma

      Didn’t read the article. Only watched the video and was rather inspired to go blow up factories and towns encroaching upon the natural environment into which lions and other animals in peril today, are born.
      It is interesting that most animals today become extinct because of the actions of man, and are not replaced by new and better adapted forms. Clearly now, the process of natural selection is reserved for a minority, and growth advances if not hindered by losers (or protecting those losers) who foresee their livelihoods and few privileges they have, being lost.
      So we end up with instability, scarce resources etc. etc. because many of us ARE actually weaker game (like the lions in the video) and unable to win the rules of the game.
      Just who the winners ultimately are in this game will have a lasting impact on the trajectory of our planet and I suspect the tragedy will be infinite, unless we can go make whoopie on a nice sparkly new planet, eh’?

      1. optimader

        I urge you to watch this documentary.. Order a copy from your local library. One of the finest documentary productions I have seen, and I’ve seen a few.

  13. Michael Hudson

    Dear Kids,
    Regarding the nice video of hugging lions, please DON’T try this with bankers. You’ll get devoured.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Everyone back in the pool! The S&P 500 is trading at a record 1870. Less than 7% to go, to reach the Flying Yellendas’ whisper target of ‘S&P 2K by springtime.’

    Don’t hug the Bubble. You’ll get devoured (eventually).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The thing is, bubbles don’t trickle down.

      Bubbles tend to fly awayyyyyyyyyyy..

      1. Jim Haygood

        Speaking of bubbles, our permabearish friend Dr. Hussman of Hussman Funds has updated his 10-year return projections. In this week’s commentary, he states:

        ‘We estimate nominal total returns for the S&P 500 averaging just 2.4% annually over the coming decade.’

        With the 10-year T-note yielding 2.68%, a 50-50 stock-bond mix (a rough baseline for modeling pension portfolios) would return just over 2.5% annually for the next decade.

        Meanwhile, Calpers assumes a 7.5% total return. Let me just assert, for the record, that there is not a hope in bleeding hell of Calpers averaging a 7.5% return over the next 10 years, with or without the magic of private equity. And Calpers ain’t the only one living in Fantasyland.

        1. optimader

          What is important is a Spreadsheet scenario that justifies the fund management salaries, reality is irrelevant. The old adage “Ride This Pig Down” is operative.
          As for me, I would be ecstatic w/ 5%

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            If I could borrow at 0.0%, and borrow a lot, I would be thrilled with 0.5% or even 0.0%, if I knew a Debt Jubilee was coming.

            1. optimader

              If I could borrow at 0.0%, and borrow a lot, I’m good with 0.0% or even -0.5% and just go with the cash burn throttle up

  15. diptherio

    Jackson Rising, an organization started by late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, is holding a New Economies Conf. this May. Their vision is to turn Jackson Mississippi into a center of New Economy/Solidarity Economy organizing and practice. They are currently trying to raise $10,000 by March 15th in order to “help offset food cost, provide housing scholarships for residents of Mississippi outside of Jackson, and provide stipends for local Jackson outreach staff.”

    Help them meet their goal, if you’ve got some pennies to spare:

  16. neo-realist

    Caveat Emptor re Crystal Wright’s piece on the collapse of the Black American family: She’s got a blog called “Conservative black chick” and “those people”, regardless of race, are always blaming the victim rather than those broader institutional safeguards that ensure White privilege and Black subjugation in America.

  17. fresno dan

    Choosing Secure Passwords Bruce Schneier

    My method for passwords is not acronyms or abbreviations for goofy sentences, but shapes on the keyboard – – a trapezoid starting at say “x” gives xftyuio;/.,mnbvcx
    a lot easier to remember the starting letter and shape than all that other stuff…

  18. optimader

    RE: White was the chief economist of the BIS and started warning central bankers about housing bubble ,,,,

    Mr. White needs to set up a Financial Law consultancy with William K. Black

  19. JTFaraday

    re: Antidote du jour. From Strange Real Animals

    What’s strange about them? They look real happy to me.

  20. skippy


    Irena Salina’s award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century – The World Water Crisis.

    Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel.

    Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question “CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?”

    Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround.

    skippy…. Hope you took the time to give to yourself whilst down and out Yves, a good film, book or just blank out. Get well chook… when your ready… eh.

    1. optimader

      If you have what I had….Recliner, comforter, dark room, miles davis, and a pitcher of margaritas on the rocks.. real lime and grapefruit juice. Worked for me, at least I got some sleep

      1. skippy

        Ahhh… Tequila [tres], Cointreau [older the better], fresh limes, cracked ice and thin slice of candied orange peel… absolutely no salt[!]… truly has to be one of mankind’s greatest achievements partaken of… ill or other wise… monkeys spotlit fruit has evolved into a discerning palate… eh.

        skippy… Miles Davis – Bitches Brew ~

          1. Optimader

            This was in the Checkers Lounge in Chicago,1981. Of couse m jagger proves himslf to be the least talented guy in the room, but vintage Muddy. I was Mr. Morganfields neighbor at this time, great guy. Who woulda thunk he was a stutter? All came out smooth as silk when he sang tho

            Muddy Waters w/ Rolling Stones – Champagne and Reefer

            Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones Live At The Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981 DVD/CD
            Muddy Water & The Rolling Stones (185)

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