Links 3/5/14

[Excessive links. I blame Ukraine. –lambert]

If the Moon Was Only One Pixel Josh Worth. Totally cool.

Are plants more intelligent than we assumed? (CL)

Fed Nominee Stanley Fischer Has a Citigroup Problem Wall Street on Parade

A Standoff of Lawyers Veils Madoff’s Ties to JPMorgan Chase Times

Indian Shadow Financier’s Custody Extended Over Refund Plan Bloomberg. “[U]ntil he presents an improved plan to refund $3.9 billion to depositors [!!].”

Dangerous Black Ice Mad Cow Productions. Fun stuff. I still don’t get why the CIA would go all Miami Vice when, with a little help from their friends in the NSA, they could front-run wherever they wanted.

Blockchain acquires RTBTC, adds real-time trading, data, and news offering to become “the Bloomberg of bitcoin” Pando Daily. Bitcoin is a “disruptive” “innovative” “ecosystem” “gabba” “gabba” “hey.”

Global Unrest

Asian stocks join global relief rally FT

Live Ukraine crisis BBC

Ukraine crisis: US and Russia to hold key talks BBC

Obama says Putin ‘not fooling anybody’ over Ukraine AFP

Ukraine crisis: Vladimir Putin is not ‘unhinged’, White House says The Telegraph. Damping down that “in another world” mistranslation of Merkel.

Raw: Kerry Honors Fallen Protesters in Ukraine AP

Putin appears to blink in Ukraine USA Today

Ukraine has revealed the new world of western impotence Simon Jenkins, Guardian

RT Host Abby Martin Condemns Russian Incursion Into Crimea – On RT First Look. And the follow-up.

The EU U.S. Tug Over Ukraine Policy Moon of Alabama

Ukraine – some thoughts on who is playing for what Golem XIV

Ukraine’s Mesopotamia LRB. Must read.

Thai Opposition Losing its Gamble? Asia Sentinel. According to one “Western banker,” yes.

Venezuela to mark Chavez death anniversary Al Jazeera

EU vs. Moscow: Russia Tries to Woo Back Moldova Der Spiegel

ECB May Repeat Japan Mistake That Triggered Lost Decade Bloomberg

Cyprus passes bill to privatise utilities FT. Let the looting begin!

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

C.I.A. Employees Face New Inquiry Amid Clashes on Detention Program Times. CIA monitoring Senate staffers?

Sprint Accused of Overcharging Feds Millions for Wiretapping Wired. Hilarity ensues.

FCC questions state laws that block cities from building their own broadband network McClatchy

Factbox: On U.S. tax reform, Obama and Republican rival on same page Reuters

House votes to curtail flood insurance rate hikes McClatchy (306-91. (Sigh).

Poll: Democrats’ advantage on key issues is not translating to a midterm-election edge WaPo

A New Populism? Michael Tomasky, NYRB. Deck: “Will the Democrats make a historic turn to the left?” Only if they feel enough fear. And perhaps not even then.

Glenn Greenwald, PandoDaily tussle over Ukraine, editorial independence WaPo. Life’s little ironies.

Kentucky Baptists use gun giveaways to lure unchurched to Christ Courier-Journal


New O-Care delay to help midterm Dems The Hill (and). So do the people who bet wrong and dumped a plan they were happy with for ObamaCare get a do-over? Or do they just suck it up?

Obama’s Accountable Care Organizations are Just Rebranded HMOs FDL

RadioShack’s back to the ’80s culture meets 2014: Company to close 1,100 stores WaPo. Could they connect with the Arduino/maker crowd?

WhatsApp founders’ secret weapon: five-year-old phones FT

Between Revolution and Tyranny: A Fluid and Highly Permeable Line Truthout

There is no easy path to democracy Martin Wolf, FT. Matthew 7:13.

The Collaborative Consumption Trap Medium. The Moustache of Understanding has indeed blessed “the sharing economy.” Truly, we are doomed.

Antidote du jour:


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Vicky Else

    RE: Greenwald, First Look, and Pando Daily: Glenn Greenwald is a lawyer, and lawyers do the whole “mental barricade” thing all the time. Otherwise they could not defend the people they defend. They focus on the legal issues and leave anything extraneous out of the equation. So to him, acting completely independently of the political views of his investors or bosses seems possible. And maybe it is.

    1. Brindle

      Pando seems to have an axe to grind for Greenwald—don’t know the backstory but it doesn’t help their credibility, imo.

      1. vidimi

        mark ames should just go away. he’s clearly not willing to do any journalism of his own and is wasting the time of all-stars like greenwald and marcy wheeler when they indulge him by rebuking his falacious claims.

        perhaps he really is an expert in journalism corrupted by the political views of its owners, though: marc andreesen and peter thiel, two pando financiers, are staunch pro-nsa advocates and pando did recently write that the nsa stories broken by greenwald were a libertarian conspiracy to damage the public’s trust in the government.

        1. borkman

          So now we have Glennbots?

          You have clearly not been paying attention. Ames writes a lot of pieces besides his material related to Greenwald, but you didn’t bother getting your fingertips dirty on Google to learn that.

          And Omidyar doesn’t just own the place, he’s the most active person on internal messaging. Which means he’s a very very intrusive boss. By contrast, Thiel contributed money but not even enough to have a board seat. They don’t have any say in what goes down.

          Might help to get your fact right before slinging mud.

    2. Tom Allen

      I’m not entirely clear on how “We’re totally independent of our boss!” answers the point of the story: Omidyar joined with USAID and TED in meddling in Ukraine. (Sometimes it’s not all about Greenwald.) And “I’m proudly ignorant of the politics of the guy who pays my check” coming from journalists isn’t a stellar recommendation either. Particularly since said ignorance doesn’t stop the First Look crew from immediately springing to Omidyar’s defense each time he’s criticized.

      1. Clive

        It’s been pointed out here at NC before that the left is on occasions (too many occasions in my opinion) way, way too pious about money. Perhaps it explains why we are in the predicament we’re in.

        The right (neo cons, neoliberals, neo the guy from the Matrix probably) have no such qualms.

        Now, if I had a spare few hundred million to throw around and could buy myself a dozen congressmen or so (not sure what the current going rate is for that commodity, but that’s probably the right ballpark), I could start to make a real difference.

        And as for Greenwald, well, don’t a lot of us on a daily basis manage to take the Queen’s shilling (or whatever your local equivalent is) and yet still manage to stay reasonably true to our values by fair means or foul ?

    3. JohnB

      I think Greenwald can maintain independence regardless of who he works for, but he is corruptable in the unseen ways that all humans are – by who he associates with and what he listens/lends-credibility to.

      So there is a legitimate argument from Glenn, that he can maintain independence regardless of who funds him, but he has to keep a guard up and stay distant enough from his funding, so he isn’t influenced in these unseen ways.

      I think what Mark Ames picked up on years ago, was Glenn’s ties to Cato, and remarks about Citizens United at the time (I don’t have any links at hand, but it can be Googled), which (and I definitely got this impression as well) seemed to suggest that Glenn’s economic views were influenced by Libertarians, potentially by the Cato institute, who he still has associations with (his recent First Look articles, reference authors from Cato).

      Now – this is complicated…it’s not as simple as the above looks.
      What I think happened, is that Glenn was influenced by Libertarian economic views, but I think this was only brief, and (I am totally just guessing/speculating) only happened because he wasn’t yet very knowledgable about economics – and I think this has since changed, and that this small ‘breach’ of his independence, isn’t there anymore.

      Worth noting: I found out about Naked Capitalism, and through here, (indirectly) a lot of what I now know about economics/MMT/etc., because Glenn (who I had been reading for years) guest-hosted Yves at Salon, so obviously his views are a lot more nuanced/varied than the above suggests.

      So, this is all actually very interesting, because Glenn is correct that he can maintain journalistic independence if he keeps his guard up and is careful to avoid influence from corrupt ideologies – including other people affected by them (Libertarianism is capable of, in my view, fooling/co-opting even the most intelligent of people, into believing utter nonsense – that’s why I despise it so much), but Carr/Ames also have a point, that who he is associating with can have an unseen influence on him, if he doesn’t keep some kind of distance, and it looks like this has happened before.

      1. psychohistorian

        I appreciate your nuanced comment and want to add a bit to it.

        In the latest Pando posting about this dust up Carr transcribes an interview that Greenwald did in 2007 and asked the same sort of questions that Carr is asking about Omidyar of Ben Smith about his Politico boss, Fred Ryan.

        What concerns me about Greenwald now is that he seems quite defensive and unwilling to admit his humanity. It also bothers me that the Snowden files are now all held/controlled by this one organization and I can’t help but believe that the public loses some transparency/completeness of exposure of the information contained in them with this arrangement.

        I would rather our world evolved from its current plutocratic led idiocy into eliminating the plutocrats rather than having a fight amongst them to see who the new top plutocratic core are.

        1. JohnB

          Heh, just read that Pando article – even though I give Glenn the benefit of the doubt here, it’s fun/amusing to see Carr/Ames dig back 7 years for a quote to nail Glenn with (and not to denigrate them – they’re right to point it out :)).

          They’ve pinned Glen with a legitimate criticism, that nonetheless Glenn kind of deserves benefit of the doubt on – so it’s all kind of an interesting grey area; I can’t blame Glenn for being a bit defensive on it, in one way, since it’s kind of obvious Carr/Ames would run away with any admission and he’d never hear the end of it – not a good reason to be defensive, but can understand it.

          1. Synopticist

            The thing that concerns about greenwald hanging out with oligarchs is the psychological fact that people have a deep founded need to RECIPROCATE.

            If CATO or some Silican valley Lord do you a favour, you want to pay back, that’s human nature. Very rich people always understand this, it’s part of what gives them power.

            1. hunkerdown

              Yes, but palling around with oligarchs is not the same as palling around with flexians. One might give Omidyar some small credit for aspiring to Soros more than Hearst.

              1. psychohistorian

                When Omidyar comes out with an impassioned effort to end/neuter inheritance and is successful, I will start believing in him.

                Until then he is just another global plutocrat wannabe in yet another century of this idiotic form of social disorganization.

    4. bob

      ” acting completely independently of the political views of his investors or bosses seems possible”

      That assumes that his political views aren’t the same as his boss’s. It could be that he was hired for his political views.

    5. Stephen V.

      Wemple writes:
      Greenwald, Scahill and their colleagues at First Look are radical transparentists, and they shove that credential in the face of anyone who questions why they would publish official secrets. Consistent with such a worldview would be a statement simply stating all of Omidyar’s projects, interests and investments, regardless of whether they surfaced in long-ago press releases.
      I think this is a good start, but as finance people, can we not demand more? I mean how are they structured exactly–ownership, etc. And why in the heck can’t we figure out how to separate Omidyar’s $$ from the FirstLook project?
      Eg. Set up another entity, find a way to pull together an independent Board, publish the dang minutes of the meetings & regular financial info. er, voluntarily? I mean: really how hard can this be? both on the ‘demand’ and the ‘production’ sides?
      I guess I’m arguing for limits to are assumed privacy when we tell the world how ‘independent’ and ‘transparent’ we are. Are not all of us the ‘auditors’ of this project?

      1. psychohistorian

        Exactly!!! This trust us because we are great BS is sad….where is the transparency? This history written by the winners meme has to stop.

        As I said above, with this arrangement we seem to be just watching a potential changing of the global plutocratic guard instead of evolving away from our centuries old class based idiocy.

        1. hunkerdown

          A friend of mine who dabbles in PC circles once explained that conversations involving sex at work were politically incorrect because men get more power from them than women. Far from claiming that we need some authorities to enforce our order on the world at our behest, I claim that we’re better off treating those forces as something over which we have little control, and instead using their own momentum against them. That doesn’t preclude playing the annoying mosquito and forcing what mistakes we can; it does require watching closely for them whether forced or not, and evaluating effectiveness without sentiment.

          Or, in a word, tactics.

          As for history being written by the winners, the only answer to that is to stop competing (which boils down to subjection to who runs the competition), stop pleading and start demanding.

      1. diptherio

        Abby is awesome. Period. I watched the two-hour podcast she did with Joe Rogan and it was apparent that this young lady is 100% legit. She’s idealistic and stubborn, but also self-aware and curious; she’s sick of the mainstream BS and willing to be blunt about it. We need more like her, and on networks other than Eurasia Today…er..I mean Russia Today.

        Here’s her recent interview with Green Party DC Council candidate Eugene Puryear. Good stuff.

      2. diptherio

        Yes, see how the Cass Sunstein’s “conspiracy-theory shaming,” to coin a phrase, plays out in real life.

        What? You think the government might be lying to us about something important? You’re a conspiracy theorist and therefore insane. Now we don’t have to pay attention to anything you say, because everyone knows that 9/11 was planned by a cabal of evil Muslims working from a secret Lex-Luthor-like underground cave complex in Afghanistan. Donald Rumsfeld told us so. What are you, stupid?

        (be sure to click on that link for a little 40 second reminder, in case you’ve forgotten, of what a real bat-sh*t crazy conspiracy-theorist sounds like)

      3. neo-realist

        Hopefully, if Abby gets out of Crimea in one piece, she’ll leave RT and join some other independent media outlet. Her intelligence and courage is much needed today.

  2. Jim Haygood

    ‘ECB may repeat Japan’s mistake,’ warns Bloomborg. I’m more worried about Japan repeating Japan’s mistake: namely, raising its consumption tax again.

    We’ve seen this movie before. In 1997 Japan hiked its consumption tax from 3 to 5 percent. The economy promptly slid into recession and deflation.

    Why is next month’s swingeing bite, from 5 to 8 percent, going to be any different? It isn’t. Maybe Japan should stop paving its coastlines and building bridges to nowhere, instead of hiking taxes to fund remilitarization.

  3. carl

    Radio Shack – every store I’ve been in has had a relatively large Arduino display for a few years now. Maybe even some Raspberry Pi stuff, I’m not certain. Of course, the staff wouldnt be able to tell you a thing about it and they haven’t done any marketing targeted in that direction.

    I think the Maker scene is still fairly small. The hobby requires nontrivial disposable income and it takes a lot of cultural capital before one is exposed to the aptitudes involved. I suppose Radio Shack could try to cultivate the culture of tinkering by sponsoring makerspaces and putting 3D printers in every store but ultimately I think retail is cursed to forever chase already-apparent demand. That goes double for a company under the yoke of constantly pumping up “shareholder value.”

    1. diptherio

      You’re probably right that a retailer would have a hard time making a go of it as you describe. But it would also be bad-ass to have such spaces available. This could be part of a new wave of community centers. Non-profit community entities devoted to providing coding and “maker” skills to kids, getting them interested early and giving them access to things like 3-d printers and raspberry pies, etc. (is that the correct plural of raspberry pi? Idk). At the very least, the Y should consider adding DIY computing/making to their schedule of activities.

      It’s fun to dream about what life would be like in a rational society….

      1. taunger

        There is such a space in the extremely affluent community where I have found a niche. My 8 year old will take a Minecraft urban planning class there this spring – its a compromise between the Scratch programming class I had hoped for and the Monster Traps class he wanted.
        But that said, I don’t expect any of the classes there to offer skills more urgent for an 8 year old than he would gain if the neighborhood kids were available for all day adventures in the woods.

  4. Dikaios Logos

    Yves, Lambert,

    Branko Milanovic linked on twitter to a new paper that looks at Swiss data and asserts that private banking’s distortions of reported macro data are massive, including underreporting income inequality and hiding that U.S. and EU are still net creditors.

  5. Paper Mac

    “Could they connect with the Arduino/maker crowd?”

    There’s zero reason to deal with a brick and mortar retail staffed by a bored wageslave who can’t do a thing to help you if you need it. Anyone who knows what an Arduino is is already familiar with Newark and other professional (and cheap) component suppliers. I can’t think of a single reason to prefer Radio Shack, other than employing your neighbour’s kid or something.

    1. Jason Ipswitch

      And if you’re on the lower-end of “enough income to afford a Maker-related hobby” the markups on buying retail tend to put a damper on the desire to do so. Maybe it’s just my local stores, but I keep running into prices that are of $20-$40 higher on low-end stuff, and several hundred dollars on stuff like new laptops. It’s not affordable if I want to actually do stuff with my Pies.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: New O-Care Delay to Help Midterm Dems

    So acknowledging that this law doesn’t work is supposed to get those “lawmakers” who voted for this POS without reading it and along party lines is supposed to get them RE-ELECTED????

    If this works, there truly is no hope for the brain dead American voters and those of us who have to get dragged along behind the stupid, clueless herd.

      1. hunkerdown

        Unsourced partisan Moonie garbage. Not that the statements couldn’t possibly be true, but, as the kids say, “citations needed”.

  7. diptherio

    Re: Kentucky Baptists giving away guns

    Begs the question: “What Would Jesus Pack?” I’m guessing a nail-gun…just sayin’.

      1. diptherio

        All I’m saying is that the dude was a carpenter. Every carpenter I know packs a nail-gun. What did you think I was talking about??? ;-)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          As Styrofoam construction gains in popularity, more and more carpenters will favor glue guns over nail guns.

          That’s today’s investment idea du jour.

    1. Jessica

      You are wicked. Anything that makes me laugh this hard counts as an extra antidote.
      So does your “It’s fun to dream about what life would be like in a rational society…” post above.

    2. paul boisvert

      Well my two main men are Jesus and old John Birch,
      So we’re going on down to the gun sale at the church.
      –Beat Farmers

      …captures the fundamental trinity of American darkness in 2 sublime lines–guns, greed and god. Songwriting just doesn’t get any better than that…

        1. Carolinian

          It doesn’t matter what I believe but in the propaganda soup surrounding this situation important to keep known versus unknown carefully separated. Moon’s Bernard has high credibility in my mind. RT?….one hopes.

          1. Murky

            Good luck getting reliable news and sifting out the propaganda. The best method IMHO is to wait until stories percolate to the BBC or the Guardian. RT as a reliable news source? You’ve got to be kidding.

            Curious story about the ongoing propaganda war over Ukraine. I subscribe to Johnson’s List, a daily newsletter that’s one of the mainstay sources for English language information about East Europe and Russia. It’s read by people in the State Department and academia. Google it if you are curious. The editor is temporarily shutting down his publication, because news about Ukraine has turned into propaganda wars. Even distinguished academics who are normally restrained and so well balanced with their opinions are openly brawling. Currently impossible to have academic quality debate. Too much vitriolic content.

            I agree with Johnson. Burnout approaching fast. Good time for a vacation.

            1. Vatch

              Hi Murky,

              RT as a reliable news source? You’ve got to be kidding.

              I think RT sometimes has some useful news about the United States that is underreported in the U.S. But they definitely have an axe to grind about news in Eastern Europe.

              1. Murky

                In complete agreement. I know Russian media fairly well, as I work with their hard copy publications in my professional life, and I regularly get news from Russian websites. Long ago it was TASS, the Russian Telegraph agency that was Russia’s single source for news. But it was in the language of officialese, containing bricks of ideology which were largely indigestable by the Russian public. So in 1962, if I remember correctly, the news agency Novosti was created with the specific purpose of providing a more palatable content for the general public. Still, content was issued in a top down fashion by communist party officials, without ever consulting public opinion in a systematic way. Only when Gorbachev came to power were Soviet sociologists able to establish centers for the study of public opinion. Yuri Levada and Tatiana Zaslavskaia were the key sociologists who got the regime to see that public opinion was actually quite useful. They founded VTsIOM, which is currently the main state agency for the study of public opinion in Russia. The RT news network represents a final level of sophistication in Russian news broadcasting, and was established only during the Putin regime in 2005. Yes RT has some very good quality content, and I actually watch more of it than I do BBC. But for coverage of Ukraine, there is a lot of disinformation. Check out Wikipedia’s article on RT for verification that RT is used as a tool for propaganda. Particularly read under the heading, CRITICISM.


                1. optimader

                  Interesting background Murky.. I have friends that have spent quite bit of time in that geography (former SU and soviet block) professionally in the field of refining process technology during the early thawing cold war era til present times. My contact w/ Russian technocrats started just after the Chernobyl incident when we were starting provide them nukepower infrastruture technology –in my case aspects of fuel enrichment for making fuel rods. It had become obvious so much of their nuke infrastructure was a catastrophe that they could not afford to upgrade on their own, we got involved.
                  The Russians I had contact with were just blown away to the point of abject depression when they were experiencing their personal reality checks vs the propaganda conditioning they were fed, and these were guys that were at the upper echelons of their industry, being the first ones to be allowed to travel.

                  At that that time the propaganda envelope they existed in was very effective.

            2. JerseyJeffersonian

              Cameron’s BBC? The Guardian, home of the NeoCon/NeoLiberal useful idiots, the R2P crowd? When whatever hyperpropagandized stuff bubbles up there, it’s like a sewer backing up.

              Murky, seriously, you just never fail to advocate for the NeoCon/NeoLiberal consensus, and condescend toward any and all sources of contrary information or interpretation. Your act looks suspiciously like cognitive infiltration to me, and maybe to others as well. Not buying it.

              Gotta admit you’ve got a head start on the project, as many of the readers here imbibed Hatin’ on Dem Russkies with their mother’s milk, and it’s a hard habit to break. But everyone here should recall that that Russkie Hatin’ was, and still is, the agitprop of the Cold Warriors, people who to this day have never stopped looking for ways to stamp any nation or people into the dust who dare to go up against their most deeply held belief in American Exceptionalism (a/k/a we got first dibs on the resources and the money, not because we really give a shit about all of that “democracy” prattle we spout and actually deserve the world’s adulation, but because we are nasty enough to shank anybody who gets in our way).

              Funny how you never want to allow for the possibility that other people besides the power elite of the West have a story that merits a listen, and deserve to be taken seriously when an attempt is undertaken to formulate a well-rounded assemblage of points of view. You just want to shut any contrary voices down, and conjure up the historical antipathy toward any and all things Russian. Every dish is served liberally slathered in “Bernays” sauce.

              The highest expression of cultural and political arrogance, is the out of hand dismissal and ridicule of the history, viewpoints, and self-directed aspirations of other cultures and nations. This is closely akin to the sort of beat-down inflicted upon the less powerful by psychological abusers; they just never permit any agency or even an attribution of humanity to those they seek to dominate and to cow into submission. Physical abusers are bad, but sometimes they themselves are in thrall to past negativity, and suffer from a repetition compulsion, and are not only to be censured, but also to be pitied. But psychological abusers are manipulative; they deserve only scorn, because their abuse is wholly volitional.

              I see a lot of psychological abusiveness in the Washington/Western Elite consensus and its advocates. I rather suspect that this Johnson’s List that you recommend is chock full of this smug, self-congratulatory triumphalism and condescension toward the stories of the peoples and nations that it takes as its subject matter. Perhaps the vitriol being expressed arises from the inchoate sense that that point of view, today’s articulation of the White Man’s Burden, is inherently insulting. History matters, religion matters, culture matters; other peoples and nations are not longing to be led out of their darkness by the Western Illuminati, they are not merely passive lumps of clay to be molded into simulacra of the deracinated consumer units of the West. They have other ideas, and this is something that Our Misleaders cannot, or at least will not, understand. Their ideal is the Procrustean bed of NeoLiberalism; these people don’t fit, well, either stretch ’em or cut something off of them to make them fit. Because how else do you expect to make money off of them? And perhaps also present is a fear that if they relent for just a minute in the application of their discipline, that they might lose control of the situation. And what they can’t control, they weaken and destroy. So send in the Jihadis, dial up the Neo-Nazis; Operation GLADIO has been repurposed now that NATO, moving with the times, has gone global.

              1. Murky

                Wow, what a rant! Well, I’ll be civil with you. Just what news sources do you recommend, if the Guardian and BBC are so very biased? And nope, I do not advocate for ‘neocons’ or ‘neoliberals’ as you allege. I’m anti-NATO. You might have figured that out if you read my posts in recent days. And the American and European banking system is indeed throughly corrupt. That’s why I come here to read, because Yves is one of the best sources to expose banking corruption. And the United States government is thoroughly corrupted in so many ways. Seems like we agree on the basics. What are the other charges you have made against me? Oh yeah, you think I’m anti-Russian. I’m not. Read my post from the day before yesterday, defending Russia’s seizure of Crimea. As for your rant, you don’t discuss the details of modern history at all. For me that’s the best content; I can learn from others here who are actually knowledgable. Instead your post is thoroughly ad hominem. You allege that I ‘condescend’. That I ‘hate’. That I’m ‘arrogant’. That I’m a ‘psychological abuser’. That I ‘dominate’, and ‘cow’ others ‘into submission’. That I’m ‘manipulative’. And so on, and so forth. Well, your hostility is misplaced. And it makes you look bad. So get civil, man! About Johnson’s list, I mentioned it specifically so people here could take a peek. And yes, it is establishmentarian, you got that much right. It is also an excellent summary of daily news from Russia and East Europe. Even you will find articles there of interest. Doubt me? Today’s content includes the full story about alleged snipers of right wing protesters at Maidan. Google it and read for yourself. Well, JerseyJeffersonian, no malice in my words. Hope you can reciprocate.

      1. Jim S

        This is correct. b, however, makes it clear that it lends credence to the theory that the snipers were a false-flag operation. Did you not read this as well?

        Currently on liveleak is a video analysis of some of the shots, titled Maidan. Inconvenient truth : shooting in the back. I won’t link it as it shows graphic violence, of course, but the forewarned may wish to see for themselves. The trajectories of the latter shots are not clear to me from the video, but the first two shots analysed clearly came from behind the victims rather than from the police positions before them.

        1. Jackrabbit

          On a video I saw of the shooting, a protestor fell to the side (apparently dead). I thought that strange at the time – if a shot is coming from ahead of him, wouldn’t he have fallen back?

          I dismissed it at the time as my ignorance of the effect of shots on victims.

          There are also other questions:
          1) Has the new leadership in Ukraine been blocking an investigation (as mentioned in the leaked phone conversation)?; (Why would they block an investigation if they KNOW that the former regime is at fault?) Also (heresay), someone on another blog (ZH) mentioned that that Ukrainian embassy wiretaps were ordered destroyed.
          2) Who had more to gain/lose? To most westerners anyway, firing into a crowd seems rather foolish and counterproductive.

          1. Jackrabbit

            Here’s the video from the Guardian website that I referenced in my comment above. At 1:54 a protester falls to his right side (seemingly dead)

            I don’t exactly know what to make of it. The protesters seem to believe that the firing is coming from ahead of them. There is a very brief moment when (it appears) he is hit but then he falls to the right.

            1. Jim S

              At 1:54 it is not clear where the shot came from, but the victim fell to the camera’s right because he was seated and reclined in that direction–you can see his left arm pushed out behind him for support–having just turned to looked behind him. When he is struck he rises up a little, and as his weight comes back down on his outstretched left arm it deflects his fall to the right side. It may be that he was shot from the front, or it may be that he was shot in the small of the back from behind. Either way, it looks like he is dead when he lands. Ugh.

              What is clear is the segment beginning at 0:40 with the bunch of protesters scuttling forward. At 0:48 a shot rings out and strikes the trunk of the tree closest to the protesters, almost dead center of the frame, leaving a clear white mark. This shot could not have been fired from police in front of the protestors–it could only have been fired from behind them, probably from the right side. It is not clear, however, that they are the sniper’s target.

        2. Synopticist

          Shooting protesters is an age-old agent provocatuer trick. If you search the liveleak site you’ll find a video of Egyptian MB supporters shooting dead a protester next to an army vehicle.
          Similar things happened in Syria at the start of the uprising there.

    1. Vatch

      It would appear that the English language media is starting to pick up this story, although it doesn’t appear to be in the mainstream yet:

      Of course there are many questions. Were all of the snipers working for the same people, or were there 2 or more groups of snipers? Did the snipers always shoot the people they were aiming at, or did they sometimes miss and hit the wrong person? I don’t see how we can trust any of the major players in this crisis.

      1. Fíréan

        The Telegraph and Channel4 are a part of the British mainstream media. The Telegraph being of the conservative right wing news print origin, and Channel4 television ( as are the Guardian and BBC too). Which would put the story out there in the mainstream media , if not the USA media . . . yet.

      2. Sufferin'Succotash

        what was quite disturbing, this same Olga [Bogomolets] told as well that all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides,” the Estonian FM stressed.

        Ashton reacted to the information by saying: “Well, yeah…that’s, that’s terrible.”

        1. Vatch

          Hi Sufferin’. I read that, and I didn’t understand whether she meant to say that there were snipers on both sides, or victims on both sides. It seems as though she’s saying both.

    2. Jim Haygood

      The lovely Madame Hillary Ceausescu is on the case, with one of her characteristically restrained comments:

      LONG BEACH >> Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday compared recent actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine to those implemented by Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s.

      Putin’s desire to protect minority Russians in Ukraine is reminiscent of Hitler’s actions to protect ethnic Germans outside Germany, she said.

      Putin has been on a campaign to give Russian passports to anyone who has Russian connections, Clinton said. The Russian leader has recently done so in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which, Clinton said, is similar to what happened in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s.

      1. Thor's Hammer

        Rumor has it that the original screenplay for “House of Cards” featured a ruthless woman politician scheming her way into the Presidency. That script finally had to be abandoned when producer Kevin Spacy came to the realization that no fictional character could possibly be as diabolical as the real thing.

  8. Furzy Mouse

    Regarding Black Ice, I wish to add that in ’78, during my first visit to Nepal, I thought I was visiting a fellow musician studying ragas. When I happened upon him and an associate loading cocaine into a large talcum powder can, I was of course, taken aback; however, we were all already booked for a flight to New Delhi the next morning. The flight was harrowing for me, to say the least, but as it turned out, he was a CIA operative busy funding his/their covert ops. According to “Legacy of Ashes”, a history of the CIA by Tim Weiner, this has been their modus operandi since the 1950’s. The book details “a litany of failures” such as the CIA’s assertion that there were WMD’s in Iraq. All we need to add is crony capitalism into the mix, and the “ice” becomes very dark and slippery indeed. And may we ask, what good has any of this done, but to line the pockets of ex-generals?

    1. Jim S

      When the democratic mask is finally pulled off the police state, I expect the CIA to rename itself to S.P.E.C.T.R.E. … Sorry for butchering an old joke.

      A question about yesterday’s Unit 731 link: Who brokered the deal? Who made the decisions? Who received the data?

    2. Emma

      Furzy Mouse – there is also an interesting book written by Douglas Wissing that goes further detailing how the US has ended up bankrolling the Taliban in Afghanistan as they’ve cut deals and colluded with Afghan Drug Warlords.
      If the US wanted to end the drug trade, they could aerial spray the poppy fields. But they don’t, do they?

      1. hunkerdown

        They wouldn’t even have to risk pilots (or PTSD pensions) to do it, thanks to the magic of drones.

      2. optimader

        It would be astronomically less expensive to pay them to grow the poppies and then burn the damn things at the power plant, providing a steady source of revenue to allow them to improve their lifestyles, buy shit and go into debt and have something to live for in this corporeal life.

        Of course a more enlightened model would be to do the same thing but engage them to grow a useful product, like industrial hemp, with which they could sell while developing various low tech valueadded products (rope textile ect)

        Nah, lets allocate 10x that amount of funds to Lockheed-Martin instead….

        1. Procopius

          I remember from the McCarthy and early rock and roll days, the Birchers were all convinced that marijuana was being spread by the Communists to lure our boys and girls to using heroin and opium to weaken their moral fiber. Really. That leads my undisciplined mind to wander on to the idea that the wingers often accuse others of doing things they dream of doing themselves (e.g., their “hatred” of homosexual acts). So I wonder if the decision to let the warlords go ahead and sell their poppies isn’t based on an underlying strategy to keep American minorities down by providing them with will-sapping, morality-destroying drugs. And other Americans from the 47%, too, of course. Keep the Occupy people demoralized, you know. Anyway, the story of CIA delivery of heroin for sale to American troops in Vietnam was well-known. It was a major occupation of Air America, one of many shell corporations created by the CIA which ended up making a hell of a lot of money for them.

      1. Emma

        I’d forgotten about BCCI – thanks McMike.
        In the words of Ezra Pound, and thanks to the Medici:
        “with usura hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall, no picture is made to endure nor to live with, but is made to sell and sell quickly with usura, sin against nature”

    3. montanamaven

      Great book! It’s a chronicle of one debacle after another with a lot of partying and living high. Originally most of these “spies” came from the Ivies. JFK admired one because he had a butler. A great and really creepy movie directed by Robert de Niro and starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie “The Good Shepherd” is about the rise of these spooks after WW II. Highly recommend.

      1. Emma

        Y, good film.
        Plus a younger Professor Dumbledore in double-disguise (as a nazi spy in disguise as an English professor) makes an appearance too!

  9. mookie

    The Occupy movement absolutely astonished me. They had a brilliant slogan the 99 and 1 per cent – that was the first time I thought someone’s got it, but then they completely blew it. I went to their meetings and they have been completely captivated by this pseudo-managerial theory of a new kind of democracy where there are no leaders and everyone sits around gesticulating if they disagree. It was one of the most absurd ideas in modern politics. If you are dealing with questions of power you have to understand power, and you can’t pretend it doesn’t exist, either on your side or their side. The point about managerialism is it pretends power doesn’t exist; it’s a way of keeping you in your place. For them to buy into that was the most cosmically stupid ideas I have ever heard in my life.

    Adam Curtis interviewed by Rob Pollard at the New Statesman

    1. optimader

      “..I went to their meetings and they have been completely captivated by this pseudo-managerial theory of a new kind of democracy where there are no leaders and everyone sits around gesticulating if they disagree. It was one of the most absurd ideas in modern politics”

      Mookie you’re not a cat person are you?
      Just kidding, but I agree with what I think your expressing.

      It is political equivalent of a heatseaking missle that someone forgot to take the boot off before firing.

      And the 99%-1% meme is wrong.. Should be 99.9%-0.01%.
      There are plenty of sharp (and influential) people in the 1% that can recognize the economic unsustainability of unchecked wealth consolidation into the 0.01%, but they are the babies thrown out w/ the bath water

      1. Jessica

        Yes, there is a difference between the mass affluent (1%) and the oligarchs (0.01%). It is the latter who have so much economic power that they can command all other forms of power, even at the expense of the rest of the 1% when the need arises. Although much of the rest of the 1% provides the highest level services to the 0.01%.
        with extreme material stratification

        “Oligarchy” by Jeffrey Winters is an excellent book explaining all this.
        BTW, if they are the 0.01%, we are the 99.99%

        1. Optimader

          Spot on. (Missed a significant digit in my chicken pecking –99.99%.
          The other differentiating distinction lost in the signal to noise is income vs wealth. Vastly different metrics

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The One Percent Of The One Percent (TOP-of-TOP) – that’s how I was taught to remember it.

  10. HotFlash

    Paging an Obamacare expert! (Lambert, you busy?) This article just appeared at TruthOut,

    If/when you have a mo’ could you cast an eye and comment? I know you don’t take assignments, but I am not convinced by ‘how it’s supposed to work’ as an argument. And here in Canada, Obamacare is pretty well a spectator sport, but I have rellies south of the border who are really confused.

    1. Yves Smith

      We linked to this when it ran at Angry Bear.

      The CBS story looks to have been false on multiple levels.

      However, what I find disturbing is that the media keeps trotting out individuals (anecdote is not data!) who have supposedly dramatic problems with Obamacare, and many of those are a crock. But there is tons that is legitimately wrong with Obamacare (narrow networks, deductibles for many that are so high as to make the insurance close to useless) that they aren’t covering, presumably because the reporting would take more work and the story would not be as sensational.

      1. optimader

        ” that they aren’t covering, presumably because the reporting would take more work and the story would not be as sensational.”

        absolutely, as well:
        “who have supposedly dramatic problems with Obamacare, and many of those are a crock.”
        from my more cynical perspective, a classic form of disinformation. Float red herring problems, then allow them to be discredited. See, no problems! it was all an evil cabals political ambushing.!

        1. Procopius

          Krugman and Dean Baker have commented on that, and other bloggers I read as well. They point out that there must be thousands of people who really do lose from Obamacare, and it seems baffling that the wingers don’t find them and use them in their ads, instead of these phonies. I think it was Krugman who speculated that most of the big losers are people who would not arouse sympathy, e.g. healthy young well-to-do guys. I dunno, but it’s not as if all lefties are unaware that O-Care has problems and there will be losers. Still, it seems very odd that Americans for Prosperity, with their millions of Koch dollars can’t find real sad cases.

  11. McMike

    re Subsizdizing flood zone mansions. Good, now can we please get back to destroying the postal service and complaining about big government social security.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      It’s no longer possible to count the ways the American taxpayer has been robbed in service of “the American Dream” of home ownership.

      When these stories appear, you sure never see a photo of an American oligarch, in his Bentley, surveying the flood wreckage of his 15,000 square foot “beach house” that the taxpayers now have the privilege of rebuilding for him. The American Dream indeed.

      Instead you get the paunchy “everyman” standing in knee-deep water, calling his “roommate” in some unknown backwater: George Pavan calls his roommate who evacuated to tell them of flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in Morehead City, North Carolina, on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

      It seems “we’re all in this together,” until we’re not.

      1. McMike

        Indeed. Joe Plumber is worthy when he is at the same trough as the elite. (Post-Katrina reconstruction being a poster child of luxury homes and condos getting the money first and foremost).

        But when Joe Plumber gets in the unemployment or food stamp line (or Medicare/Social Security for that matter) he is a dependent shiftless taker.

  12. Bruno Marr


    When the WaPo apologizes for its’ Iraq cheerleading, maybe I’d give it some renewed credibility. The Pando smear on First Look indicates that redemption is not near.

  13. TarheelDem

    In the early days of capitalism, collaborative consumption in shelter was called “hot bunking”–three and four high.

    1. McMike

      Still going on in immigrant and migrant trailer parks and apartments across the country.

  14. fresno dan

    C.I.A. Employees Face New Inquiry Amid Clashes on Detention Program Times. CIA monitoring Senate staffers?

    Along the same lines:
    “A leading US senator has said that President Obama knew of an “unprecedented action” taken by the CIA against the Senate intelligence committee, which has apparently prompted an inspector general’s inquiry at Langley.

    The subtle reference in a Tuesday letter from Senator Mark Udall to Obama, seeking to enlist the president’s help in declassifying a 6,300-page inquiry by the committee into torture carried out by CIA interrogators after 9/11, threatens to plunge the White House into a battle between the agency and its Senate overseers. ”

    Now you have to ask this question – why would Obama acquiesce to a problem (USA condoned torture) that occurred in the Bush administration? Well, the truth is I think obvious, on most issues there isn’t the width of a hair’s difference between Dems and Repubs. Obama and any democrat who can be nominated will out Bush….Bush.

  15. fresno dan
    “Although this distinction may appear clear, it quickly becomes blurry on closer examination. For example, technically speaking, a URL is very much a “delivery instruction;” it specifies the address of the web page that you are requesting. But it is also content: requesting a web page essentially means sending a message saying “please send me back the page found at this URL.” In addition, a single URL reveals exactly which page was sought, and thus exactly what content was received…

    In addition, whether information is content or metadata can depend not only on the type of information but also on the context in which it is created or used. This means that exactly the same information can be content in one situation and metadata in another. For example:

    Your location may or may not be content depending on context. If you call your friend and say “I am at Starbucks,” the words you speak are content. If you use your smartphone to “check in” with Foursquare, that check-in is also content. But many courts have held that your cell carrier’s record of the location of your phone at the exact same moment is not content. And what if you take a picture or post a Tweet that you tag (intentionally or unintentionally) with your current GPS coordinates?”

    Remembering that antique document, the Constitution, and that government limiting 4th amendment, I wonder if Jefferson would have thought that British scribes sitting outside of Independence Hall when the Declaration of independence was being signed, taking note of the comings and goings of every individual was kinda the whole point of the 4th amendment???? — you know, government monitoring citizen activities. Of course, the British would say they were…..wait for it………………terrorists.
    Just a thought.
    Of course, in light of my 2:18 post, I would be curious how many terrorists the CIA thinks are in Congress….

    1. psychohistorian


      I like the creative writhing concept……grin It must take off pounds by the hour.

    2. optimader

      A twist on BASF’s Better Life through Chemistry –> Better Life through Gambling

      I had to laugh at this.. Last month I was in Telluride, CO. I struck up an acquaintance with a young fellow working at the facility I was staying. He told me he loved the place, moved there 2 years ago, money was tight compared to his previous job as a construction manager somewhere in Wisconsin, but lifestyle justified giving up a 6 figure salary.

      An tangible benefit of his current lifestyle was that he was in great shape, dropped the 45lbs that he put on during his last gig –building out an Indian Casino! The Casino provided the fringe benefit (?) of a free buffet lunch for the construction project team.

      1. skippy

        Alas my lady… you get straight to the point… that which can not be gleaned from orgies floor…. can be purchased with other item[s of trade.

        skippy… something about beautiful people and devolving into a formula methinks.

            1. skippy

              Is the abyss a place where some chick up the wall, getting a shave, by one of the top west coast lawyers in the late am, is hanging out before a big court case that morning???

              skippy… inquiring minds would like to know thingy….

  16. rich

    America’s Long War Against Humanity – Michel Chossudovsky

    Published on Mar 5, 2014
    Rosa Luxemburg Conference, Berlin, January 11, 2014.

    The event was organized by the German daily “junge Welt”. This year, the Rosa Luxemburg Conference marked the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

    Worldwide militarization is also part of a global economic agenda, namely the application of the neoliberal economic policy model which has led to the impoverishment of large sectors of the World population.

    The world is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity.

    1. psychohistorian

      Instead of a Long War I would cast it as the ongoing design, implementation and maintenance of Empire.

      In the past we had kings. Now we have global plutocrats but the concept and execution of Empire continues. The military are just one of the tools of execution of Empire.

      However we characterize our societal sickness, it is a sad description of our attempt at civilization.

    2. optimader

      America’s Long War Against Humanity
      A German critique?
      Pot may I introduce you to Kettle? I’m sure you both have much in common to talk about..

  17. Procopius

    I was so naive. Because I hadn’t seen any of them in the neadlines recently I thought the neocons were gone. Now I realize there must be dozens, maybe hundreds, among the thousands of Bush holdovers Obama decided to keep. Many are in the Department of Justice, but now we see that some are very influential in State. Obviously Victoria Nuland is too high up to fire. Maybe Obama could make her ambassador to Yemen? Or the Central Aftican Republic?

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