Links 4/14/14

Global warming forcing Mongolian nomads to change lifestyles Asahi Shimbun

IPCC: Cost of Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change Super-Affordable if We Act Now Jeff Masters, Weather Underground

The Mellon Lifestyle as a Brand Times. Wretched excess.

A room with a view: Homeless building snug studios into the Manhattan Bridge Daily Mail

Criminalizing People Who Live in Cars Is a New Low in the War on the Poor Truthout

Let them eat McMansions! The 1 percent, income inequality, and new-fashioned American excess Salon

Real-Estate Crowdfunding Finds Its Footing Online WSJ

Slowdown puts 1bn middle class at risk FT

Tensions over money flows bode poorly for global economy Reuters


Tech insiders dumped shares ahead of slide FT

Pay for Performance? It Depends on the Measuring Stick Gretchen Morgenson, Times

Banks fiddled while Rome burned: how to predict the next global financial crisis Guardian


Ukraine: soldier reported dead in gun battle as tensions rise in eastern cities Guardian

Ukraine gives rebels deadline to disarm or face military operation Reuters

Ukraine Tension Turns Deadly as Russia Seeks UN Meeting Bloomberg

Spotlight shifts to Estonia town if Russia tests Nato’s mettle FT

Overseas Chinese and the Crimea Crisis The Diplomat

Are Americans really jingoistic yahoos? A cautionary statistical tale Princeton Election Consortium

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Transcript of the Snowden EU Parliament testimony European Parliament [PDF] (SW). The video.

German Minister: ‘US Operating Without any Kind of Boundaries’ Der Spiegel

Pulitzers must contend with Greenwald, Snowden being ‘the most appropriate choice’ to win Agence France Press

Glenn, Intercepted: Pierre Omidyar’s quarter billion dollar journalism project seems to have stopped publishing Pando. Ouch!

How Heartbleed Broke the Internet — And Why It Can Happen Again Wired

The Democratic Party’s Phony Populists Are Hijacking U.S. Moves toward Equality Alternet

How LBJ Saved the Civil Rights Act The Atlantic

Democrats settle on fairness issues hoping to avoid a repeat of 2010 midterm disaster WaPo. Five years too late.

10 questions that could decide Election 2014 Politico


The AP downplays its Obamacare scoop CJR. “They say, ‘You are expecting me to pay the premium every month and once I go to the doctor I have to pay $5,000 before there’s coverage?’ Then they walk away.” But 7.1 millions sign-ups!

Meet the Press Transcript – April 13, 2014 (Sebelius) NBC (see also).

The other Social Security battle: the squeeze on customer service Reuters. A bit stale, but check this on why some people still like paper: “They’re not that comfortable putting their financial information on Internet.” But why?!

America’s Energy Edge Foreign Affairs

Post-Fukushima Japan Chooses Coal Over Renewable Energy  Bloomberg

Grand Visions Fizzle in Brazil Times

Thailand’s Political Tensions Are Rekindling Ethnic and Regional Divisions Times

Contrary to popular and academic belief, Adam Smith did not accept inequality as a necessary trade-off for a more prosperous economy British Politics and Policy

Notes and Finger Exercises on Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”: The Honest Broker for the Week of April 19, 2014 The Equitablog

Insights from the Counterculture, Part 4: William S. Burroughs Who What Why


The Slaughter Bench of History The Atlantic

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. vlade

    “Contrary to popular and academic belief, Adam Smith did not accept inequality as a necessary trade-off for a more prosperous economy ” Anyone who actually read Wealth of Nations would know that. But then, we like to talk about stuff we know next to nothing about..

    1. allcoppedout

      Adam Smith lived in times of great inequality, slavery and crass treatment of workers, soldiers, women and animals. I wouldn’t trust a word he said.

      1. Working Class Nero

        Has any human ever existed during a time where there was not. “great inequality, slavery and crass treatment of workers, soldiers, women and animals”?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps not even when the cave of the Trois Freres was being painted.

          Humans were probably raiding other humans back then.

          The only viable option, then when the world was young and there was plenty of Lebensraum, was to go east.

          Go east, young men. Go to Ukraine, Persia, India, Siberia and America.

          1. ambrit

            “Go east, young men. Go to Ukraine, Persia, India, Siberia and America.” Where you would in all probability have met Solutrean young men going west.

  2. arby

    The ‘Tensions over Money Flows’ article leaves the impression that the privilege blindness of Western elites renders them incapable of understanding simple words and concepts from the elites of developing nations.
    One particularly savors the argument by the western financial official that developing countries should let the market determine currency value when all available evidence indicates that all important markets – including FOREX – are rigged …. by the western institutions to the benefit of the management of those institutions.

  3. no more banksters

    The “parrots” who reproduce the systemic propaganda, insist to speak about the new age, the new economy. However, the fact that for the first time an economically developed area is being tested through the current experiment, is in reality the only innovation that someone can find. For the rest, not only nothing new can be found, but on the contrary, Europe walks backwards to the Feudalism and Machiavellianism of the 21st century guided by Merkel, something that someone could call as “Merkiavellianism”.

  4. jjmacjohnson


    “The Mellon Lifestyle as a Brand”, seems Mr. Mellon says technology makes us lazy but he accepts bit coin as payment! Says a lot!

    That was an amazing post. Thanks for the find! So many great quotes!

    “They are not exactly starting from the gutter.”

    1. hunkerdown

      Of course. It says the actual value of the chits exchanged is less important than the elite magnitude of the exchange and that it happened.

  5. Luke The Debtor

    When did climate change (global warming) become “dangerous”? From 18,000 years ago to the present, climate change has done an immense amount of good for human civilization on average. What is different this time around.

    1. allcoppedout

      I’d like to see more discussion on that Luke. We might have to start from an immense amount of good and harm rather than stressing the good. In history we have spent a of of effort protecting ourselves from the elements. Why give up now?

      1. Tyler

        Luke, we need all that ice that is melting in the Arctic. Too many people are already dealing with water scarcity.

        1. Vatch

          Too bad the melted ice quickly becomes salt water when it flows into the ocean. Not immediately — density differences keep the melt water separate from the salt water for a little while, but the melt water won’t be available for drinking or irrigation.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Why give up?

        It could be it’s already too late.

        In movies, it’s usual that there is something the protagonist can still do to save the day. Most of us are not that fortunate.

        In the back of my mind, I can’t shake the feeling that all the ‘do this by 2040 or that by 2025’ is misdirection…that the 0.01% are already planning for an inevitable post-collapse world, by accumulating as many resources as possible, backed with sufficient force to defend them.

    2. Eeyores enigma

      When did climate change (global warming) become “dangerous”?

      Since it began going exponential due to human involvement, you know…the hockey stick thing. Prior to that we have had a degree of equilibrium for tens of thousands of years. The fact that you ask this question and how you phrase it shows that you either do not have a clue or you are a disinformation troll.

      1. Eclair

        Exactly, Eeyore. One of the climate scientists featured in last week’s Links said that humanity’s greatest tragedy may be that they cannot grasp the concept of exponential growth. We’re like bacteria in a petri dish: the injection of fossil fuels into a medium (our planet) that just barely sustained growth has resulted in an exponential growth spurt in the past 250 years (a mere blip in the geological time that has previously measured climate change).

        And, like rapidly multiplying bacteria, we’re gulping down that nutrient-rich medium until … we begin to drown in our own excreta and run out of resources to support life and reproduction.

        I always believed that humans were smarter and more aware than bacteria, but I am beginning to have my doubts.

          1. Vatch

            Why is climate change dangerous? Here are a few reasons.

            When the climate is altered, crops that grew for decades in a particular location may die. This is especially so if rain patterns are altered. This is a serious problem if the plants are perennials, because the people can’t just simply decide to plant something different next yet.

            Tropical diseases move into new areas, especially if they are insect borne, because the insects habitat changes as the climate changes. Insects and fungi can also affect the health of forests. In recent decades, some forests have been severely damaged by pests that moved into areas where the pests previously could not survive the winters.

            As the polar ice melts, sea levels rise, and the amount of land available for human habitation diminishes. This will be especially bad, since our population keeps growing. Any low lying coastal area could transform from land to sea.

            The warming of mountain areas melts the glaciers that provide drinking water for vast numbers of people. If the glaciers disappear, the rivers that flow from them will dry up. This problem could be especially serious in Asia, where many rivers originate in the glaciers of the Tibetan plateau. It can also affect Southern California, as the Colorado River dries up. The Rhine River partially originates in Swiss glaciers, and the mighty Amazon River also partly depends on glacial waters.

            1. David G. Mills

              Yawn. Same old broken record. Wake me up when it starts warming up which it hasn’t done in the last 17 years.

              Predictions by a number of solar physicists, the scientists I trust (not climatologists) are that we are headed for a mini-ice age, perhaps in a solar cycle or two. Even the conservative solar physicists are not beating up on their colleagues they way the did five years ago.

              Perhaps another Maunder minimum (low period of solar activity from 1645-1710) is in the works. The 1680’s were the coldest decade of the last millennium.

              I have been reading about the sun almost daily for the last seven years. It’s change over this last solar cycle is something to really get alarmed about. Personally, I like warm. And I used to think “An Inconvenient Truth” was the best documentary of all time.

              1. hunkerdown

                Yeah, and after that Maunder cycle, then what? Do previous relationships between CO2 and global temperature become invalid just because they’re inconvenient for someone’s economic projections? You gotta work harder than that.

                It’s 72 in southeast Michigan. It’s going to snow tonight. You’re doing a fine job of following the industry’s talking points from twenty years ago by resetting the “global warming” straw man and swinging “but it’s not warmer” at it to knock it down but good. Attaboy, Dave! Excuse me while I call my HVAC tech….

                1. davidgmills

                  Thanks for the condescending BS. You are the kind or person who probably has never looked at the science of your own accord. Groupthinker personified.

                  I will challenge you. Spend about a year seriously studying what solar scientists are saying about the sun and get back to me. This may not be an issue for you but it is a serious for them.

                  One thing they all agree on is that these are very interesting solar times. Even the most conservative ones think that. We haven’t had solar times like these for quite awhile.

                  But you would be absolutely clueless about that, because the science is settled.

                  1. skippy

                    David your one of Watts drones [true believers], that others get tired of its observer bias [gawd and republicans], and are called out for it – its a self inflicted wound.

                    Skippy… go back to watching more real private lives of of Nashville wives, vote republican and your worship.

                    1. davidgmills

                      But be that as it may, I welcome you to learn something about the sun. It is quite a fascinating topic when you begin to study it for awhile.

                      Right now, the sun is making solar physicists giddy because they have never seen the sun like this before. Reputations are going to be made and lost based on what the sun does in the next cycle or two.

                      The first problem is that there are those who think the sun just went through a solar maximum and then there are those who think maybe the sun just went through a normal phase. You see, the science is not settled about what it takes to have a solar maximum but they really don’t know, because we may not have had a solar maximum for a thousand years. They seem to be rare, maybe ten percent of the time.

                      Or maybe if this was a solar maximum we just went through, maybe we haven’t had one like the one we just had for 8,000 years. Because the science is not settled, we just don’t know.

                      Then there are those who think the sun is about to go through a solar minimum like we haven’t had for 400 years, but they really don’t know that either because the science is not settled. Solar minimums are rare too, but apparently not as rare as solar maximums. But we aren’t sure, because the science isn’t settled.

                      Then there are those who think a solar minimum will cause the earth to cool and cause a mini-ice age and those who are not sure and those who don’t. And there is no consensus on that because the science is not settled.

                      But as I said this is a great time to be a solar physicist because the sun is now acting much differently than it has any time during the space age. In fact, the solar wind is so reduced, satellites can stay in orbit much longer because the drag of the solar wind has gone down considerably. And that is just one of the many changes a solar minimum causes.

                      This is just an exciting time to be a solar physicist, because the science is not settled. Do you get the point of the science not being settled about the thing that causes the earth to not be 4 degrees F above absolute zero?

                    2. skippy

                      @David, the fact that those such as yourself, can’t wrap you’re heads around – is – that – EVERY THING – is changing at an unprecedented pace.

                      Its not all about temp [energy], its about human activity and the cumulative effect its having on this planets carrying capacity.

                      skippy… hard cog dis burn, really hard. HInt try expanding your horizons [all fields of study] and stop with the myopia [sun worship].

                    3. davidgmills

                      There is no doubt about the fact that everything is changing. Change always happens. the question is twofold: what will the change be and why?

              2. different clue

                But it has been warming up. It is heat being dumped into glaciers and icefields which is melting them back and shrinking them. Heat is thawing permafrost in parts of Alaska and Siberia.
                And if 20 million cubic miles of ocean water have increased in temperature by 0.1 degree centigrade, that is an awful lot of gained heat.

      2. BondsOfSteel

        I think the media’s focus on water height and C instead of F lured many into a sense of security. After all rising oceans don’t sound scary if you live in Iowa. Plus the timeline for 20′ increase is many, many lifetimes.

        Most people don’t realize the 4.5C (8F) would mean the extinction of 40-70% of all species. We’re on tract to this this by the end of this century. (Read the IPCC report.) This stuff has been in the reports… just ignored.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          A planet of our size can support 200,000 humans, even with that water height and temperature increase, if these people have enough money and technology, such as domed habitats, robots, nuclear energy, etc.

        2. hunkerdown

          The volatility is the alarming part. Rest assured they won’t be showing min-max bars.

    3. Banger

      What is “bad”? If you study ecology with a systems approach you will find out that the question of change itself is not a big issue–a bigger issue is the rapidity of that change–does it give organisms a chance to mutate fast enough (organisms do mutate faster when their ecological niche is threatened) to adapt to the changing conditions. The fact is that this period of human-caused climate change, if you consider keeping human civilization and the current complex set of interlocking ecologies more or less intact, is to rapid to be able to provide that positive result. On the other hand nature, as it always has, is responding and will continue to respond rapidly making slower changing organisms with small life-spans obsolete for a time. Nature is fine–it always recovers but will we?

      Also, there is a problem in this situation with positive feedback loops resulting from release of methane gas (check out its properties sometime) in the tundra that has been frozen for millenia and from ocean releases due to increased temperature. All this because human beings don’t want to take public transportation or curtail their stunningly wasteful lifestyles.

      Sadly systems thinking still is as exotic to the vast majority of the population (except as applied to extremely narrow professional concerns. People still think in crude linear forms of thinking and think of feedback as the interplay between guitar an amp, are you one of those people?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Nature is fine–it always recovers but will we? – Banger

        I think it depends on what we mean by ‘we.’

        The world population is about 7 billion.

        One percent of that is 70 million.

        One percent of one percent of that is 700,000 people.

        If we look at only the 0.01% of the First World, maybe we get about 200,000 people.

        With the 99.99% being encouraged to move up the ladder by contributing to new scientific/technological discoveries (only to benefit the 0.01%), it’s possible these 200,000 people, or about 50,000 or 60,000 elite families, can cope with, more or less, whatever climate change will bring, via robots, drones, police states, nuclear energy, etc.

        To Banger’s question, the likely answer is, ‘we’ – the global 0.01% – probably think ‘we’ can recover as well.

      2. just me

        Cockroaches were obsoleted away eons ago, but the dinosaurs living amongst us are fine?

        On the other hand nature, as it always has, is responding and will continue to respond rapidly making slower changing organisms with small life-spans obsolete for a time. Nature is fine–it always recovers but will we?

    4. Brooklin Bridge

      From 18,000 years ago to the present, climate change has done an immense amount of good for human civilization

      I believe the argument is that the difference and the danger comes from gradual vs. sudden change as in 10,000 vs.100 years. For instance, If the process of global heat circulation in the Gulf Stream changes/is disrupted overnight in geological terms by the sudden change in ocean salinity – brought about by the sudden melting of the arctic glaciers in turn brought about about by man’s 100/200 year contributions to GW, it’s doubtful the result will do “immense good” for humanity unless massive catastrophe is for our own good. I’ll admit that such seems a considerably more defensible argument than that it used to only a few decades ago. My only quibble would be that those who are on the short end of the catastrophe stick – who are going to suffer immensely to use your qualifier – are not the ones who caused the catastrophe.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Apologies for whatever I did to have just about every comment put in moderation. I’ll take the hint.

      2. Luke The Debtor

        Ideas like the shutdown of the thermohaline evolved from explanations for the Younger Dryas. However, IPCC’s technical summary looks like it indicates that sea level will rise.

  6. Brindle

    re: “The Democratic Party’s Phony…”

    This March 1990 LA Times article on the then 28 yo Obama is revealing in that it shows Obama had his misdirection schtick down decades ago:

    —-Referring to his fellow students at the review, whom he edits, he said: “These are the people who will be running the country in some form or other when they graduate. If I’m talking to a white conservative who wants to dismantle the welfare state, he has the respect to listen to me and I to him. That’s the biggest value of the Harvard Law Review. Ideas get fleshed out and there is no party line to follow.” —-

    1. just me

      I wonder what the story is.

      “Rising Manhattan rents forced us to Brooklyn, but we have incurred debts and costs that are insurmountable,” the board members wrote, saying that they had decided to close the forum “with dignity” and the hope that “the larger project we all care so deeply about may survive in a different form.”

      Debts and costs as in operating expenses stayed usual while our working left members got poor?
      Debts and costs as in we took out covenant-lite subprime loans?
      Debts and costs as in Jefferson County, AL?

  7. FUM

    de Maizière’s is necessarily the most muted, cautious, servile viewpoint you could have.

    Good talk on NSA sabotage methods from a guy who has to fix the damage.

    He sees the solution as political – something like mandating user control over devices. The best bet for an NSA-proof device right now is Astra linux, because Russia’s threat model is identical to ours: NSA.

  8. McMike

    Re: thousands in premiums followed by thousands in deductibles. Welcome to our glorious private insurance system!

    Those of us on individual plans or whose employers switched to High Deductible/HSA accounts have been feeling this for years.

    You pay ten thousand or more per year in insurance premiums and what you get is: not-insurance. You cover the first $5,000 to $10,000 (yes, $10,000) in first dollar claims, then you pay another 30% in co-pays. And God forbid you go out of network.

    And this deductible is per-person, not per-family.

    The really cruel trick is that it isn’t catastrophic medical insurance either. Because if you have a health catastrophe, it is well-understood that the companies will find a way to deny coverage and/or cancel your policy.

    I read somewhere that the reason behind the ridiculously complex and impossible to fill out individual insurance applications was to guarantee that you make a mistake, which will be used against you when they come looking for an excuse to drop your coverage.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “And this deductible is per-person, not per-family.”

      And also PER YEAR. Which means that, with a $10,000 deductible, if you spend $9,999 out of your own pocket in any one year for “covered” services, in ADDITION to your premiums, your insurance company will not have spent one thin dime for any “care” you received that year. And the next day, you start all over again at $0.

      Deductibles are not set randomly. They are carefully calculated to “insure” that they are difficult, if not impossible, to satisfy, thus limiting insurance company liability. Premium payments must be made first, which just reduces the amount you have available for deductibles. Which is why, as CJR points out, caps on deductibles are being eliminated or delayed. Insurance companies have also successfully lobbied against applying drug costs against the deductible.

      Effectively, uncapped deductibles are doing the work of limiting insurance company liabilities that “pre-existing conditions” used to do.

      When attempting to satisfy the deductible, you are essentially a cash patient. The only benefit you receive during this time is, presumably, the lower charge for a “covered service” that your insurance company has negotiated with the provider. As if you would know, since prices are unpublished and, to hear providers tell it, complete unknowns.

      And if you think about it, that just makes satisfying your deductible that much slower and less likely.

      1. OIFVet

        And most of these plans offer incredibly narrow networks so the out of pocket “maximum” will be anything but for many people. Medical bankruptcy is a problem this frankenmonster was supposed to address. It won’t; instead those who were supposed to be the main beneficiaries of the insurance reform will be its main victims as they are being herded into those “cheap” plans with cell phone type premiums. Pushers of defective product is one way to describe the democrat Congress critters, cruel lying bastards is another.

        1. Bruno Marr

          This is a KEY issue that most folks don’t understand!

          Your medical insurance is for services provided by a particular network of doctors, hospitals, medical servicers (PET scans, Lab work, etc.). Hospitals are UNCONCERNED with the details of a patients medical insurance (whether the prescribed care is in/out of network), so the chances of getting a bill from a non-network provider (a bill that must be payed, but does NOT get included in the accounting of “maximum out-of-pocket expense” is very real (actually very likely). This expense is ADDED to your financial cost for care. The take home lesson: Out of network, out of luck!

  9. Paul Niemi

    I don’t consider myself a jingoistic yahoo either, but it’s good to know the bow tie types at Princeton have discovered that one in six Americans can’t find Ukraine on a map. Actually, I think it might be more disturbing if most people I met during the day actually could find Ukraine on a map. Nevertheless, I have a suggestion for their next survey: asking incoming members of Congress if they support military intervention in Freedonia. The results could cause teacups to be set down noisily.

      1. Paul Niemi

        Some reporter actually did ask new members of Congress that question, as they arrived for the new session in 1995, as I recall. The answers he got were absolutely hilarious. I think only one of them immediately recognized Freedonia was a fictional place in a Marx brothers film.

        1. Bruno Marr

          This is a KEY issue that most folks don’t understand!

          Your medical insurance is for services provided by a particular network of doctors, hospitals, medical servicers (PET scans, Lab work, etc.). Hospitals are UNCONCERNED with the details of a patients medical insurance (whether the prescribed care is in/out of network), so the chances of getting a bill from a non-network provider (a bill that must be payed, but does NOT get included in the accounting of “maximum out-of-pocket expense” is very real (actually very likely). This expense is ADDED to your financial cost for care. The take home lesson: Out of network, out of luck!

    1. craazyman

      That doesn’t make sense to me because maps usually have the country names printed in type over the countries, which are usually in different colors too so they stand out. It would be hard not to find it under those circumstances.

      What would be amusing is how many Princeton profesers could find Ukraine on a map if the names were left off the map and if there were no colors, only borders. I doubt I could have figured out which one it was.

      I find it very helpful to have the names printed.

      1. Vatch

        Without labels, it’s easy to get the locations of Montenegro and Kosovo confused. Knowing that Kosovo is ethnically Albanian doesn’t help, since both Montenegro and Kosovo are adjacent to Albania.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Equally difficult, or perhaps harder, is to find Earth on a map of the Milky Way Galaxy, without labels.

          1. Tiresias

            Does not a depressingly large slice of the population of the US – including almost every Congress person – believe the Earth resides at the center of the Universe, with the firmament revolving around it?

            With, of course, the USA at the geographical center of the Earth?

        2. Peter Pan

          Isn’t Kosovo the one next to Serbia? (j/k)

          The confusion over Ukraine is due to the map used. Some maps depict the Crimean peninsula with Ukraine and some maps depict it with Russia. This is obviously what confused my fellow Americans.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Read ‘Are Speculative Bubbles Good?’ in conjunction with ‘Grand Visions Fizzle in Brazil.’

    When the pain of the last bubble collapse is forgotten, and disreputable characters (venture capitalists; academics) are telling us that bubbles are good, one can deduce that probably we are in one again.

    Buy now before prices go up …

    1. Jackrabbit

      What always goes unsaid is this: the game is rigged. Even if there is no front-running (like HFT) or other such obvious mischief, bubbles maximize the Wall Street advantage from:

      1) the ‘carried interest’ tax deduction
      2) information
      3) deal flow (deals that would otherwise be impossible to sell are easy at peak mania)

      ‘Economists’ who trumpet bubbles as stimulus are committing professional malpractice.

      1. Paul Niemi

        It brings to mind Lawrence Summers and bubbles being necessary for growth now, or maybe he just saw bubbles in his champagne that day.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        I actually think it’s simpler than even that. Cyclical variations present profit taking opportunities on both upslopes and downslopes. Where even smart speculators have trouble will be a condition of relative stasis, even static prosperity. The wave action powers the speculative process and complicates and obfuscates seeing whatever underlying meaning might exist. A static market would make the games played far too transparent.

  11. Eeyores enigma

    I don’t blame Masters as he is just passing on the info from the report but the idea that climate change will only cost pocket change and the economy will continue to grow for ever is so completely disconnected to reality its not even funny.

    Organic or “real” growth is 100% dependent on cheap, highly dense, transportable fossil fuels (FFs) with a very large energy surplus, (small amount of energy to produce huge amounts of energy). No other source of energy provides that.

    As FFs have declined in surplus energy over the last 10 or 15 years modern society has attempted to disconnect the economy from energy surplus and replace it with financial surplus. This in a nut shell is the story behind all of what is happening in the global economic world.

    What is outlined in the report wrt replacing FFs with alternative energy is in essence asking the world to continually pay more and more and more for less and less. And they project that this will only have a .5% to 2% effect on the economy? This is high grade lethal Hopium that will kill all who buy it.

    1. Working Class Nero

      What’s worse is that if you read further into the report we learn that by 2050 the world has to cut its green house emissions to 40 -70% of what they are today and by 2100 there can be no more greenhouse gases released.

      If we look at the numbers since 1990 we see that Europe has cut their overall greenhouse gases by around 10%, the US has held steady (or a tiny increase) while Asia has practically doubled their carbon dioxide omissions since 1990. Asia’s emissions are more than Europe and the US combined. So even if the US and Europe by some miraculous feat of conservation were able to stop all greenhouse gasses within the next twenty years, from the global perspective it will not mean a thing because if Asia’s growth trend continues then just their increased gas emissions will equal what Europe and the US pump out today.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      It would seem that cheap FFs can only fuel “growth” if they’re being used to manufacture or mine or grow something.

      Since we in the US have given away just about all of our industrial capacity, it would seem that the economic impact of cheap FFs might be somewhat “muted” here.

      How much cheap FF does our “knowledge” economy really need? You can only drive one Bugatti at a time.

      1. Eeyores enigma

        Even with 40 year low employment participation rate the US has not reduced its FF consumption very much and in fact we have increased diesel use which is the trade off for having someone else do your Mfg.

        There is no such thing as a “Knowledge” based economy. Tech serves the real economy period. No real economy, even if, and maybe especially if the manufacturing is done elsewhere then there is no tech. It is a common fallacy and one that may prove to be our downfall that technology will be able to cut ties with the real economy and soar on its own. Same with finance and when people put both of them together the believe there is no problem in the world that is unsolvable so stop worrying and get to work on that IPO.

        1. hunkerdown

          There is such a thing as a knowledge-based economy. It just requires the ruthless manufacture and enforcement of arbitrary scarcity in order to function.

  12. Banter

    On the Ukraine on the map thing. Part of the problem is that Ukraine was considered part of the USSR for so long–I didn’t, for example, know that the Crimea was part of Ukraine. There is a correlation between ignorance and war-mongering that I believe is true. Generally, lower-class Americans tend to have a punitive parenting model–if a kid misbehaves they tend to believe corporal punishment is usually the best answer. Thus, if a country does something that the U.S. doesn’t like then the U.S. should strike that country. Thankfully, loyalty to the central government has seriously eroded over the years by this segment of the population so war-mongering exists mainly among the ambitious people jostling for power in Washington who see drastic events as opportunities to fulfill their ambitions for power. The same is true for nearly all mainstream journos who are all part of the same endlessly conspiring courtiers at the imperial court. Imagine thousands of Frank Underwoods all playing the same game and you have Washington DC.

  13. rich

    IRS Goes for Little Guy

    WaPo reported:

    Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.

    The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years.

    The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.

    Four years ago private equity underwriters successfully defended their preferred private interest taxation. PEU’s pay virtually no federal income taxes.

  14. susan the other

    The IPCC press conference and preliminary report got relatively good coverage and over several days this last week. More than ever before. The most notable thing about this report was that nobody jumped up to deny their findings. And the message was clear that we have to take drastic action and do so globally to mitigate global warming. In November, no doubt, the final report will explicitly state what drastic steps must be taken. I’m guessing that the use of cars will be strictly regulated because we don’t have a replacement for fossil fuel. Certainly we don’t have a replacement that is in such supply that the world can continue to drive cars. Thinking we can keep our cars is absurd. The implications are massive: the automobile industry, since WW2, has single-handedly brought about the consumer society; the manufacturing of cars is a huge industry; the support industries that depend on an automobile industry are ubiquitous across the planet; and retail will be a shadow of its former self if we can’t drive to the mall and fill the trunk with all that stuff. On the other hand, if we refuse to control cars the implications are much worse. And time is running out fast.

    1. optimader

      A private vehicle prohibition is unrealistic. On the other hand people commuting is 300HP Garden-Sheds is also unrealistic. There is a reasonable compromise to be struck which will require investment in public transportation and the scaling back of vehicle size. Further to a point I made on a previous thread, an unintuitive aspect of more efficient devices is that people often seem inclined to neutralize efficiency achievements w/ more consumption. In the case of internal combustion engines efficiency improvements over the past couple decades passenger, vehicle sizes have on balance gotten larger. So have the people…hhmmm

  15. jfleni

    RE: Democratic Party’s Phony Populists Are Hijacking U.S. Moves toward Equality

    Who are they?
    o Clowns like Friedman in the NYT, the chief windbag of foolish and nonsensical economics: “It’s your own fault Bubba, you should’a been in school instead of drinking beer!

    o Crazy neocons who think we desparately need another dozen or so aircraft carriers (etc., etc.), instead of a crash public transportation system (which could actually result in a labor shortage), construction of computer networks, serious action on environmental problems and Global Warming, and very serious stimulus;

    o Deluded Democrats like Mdms Sink, Power, (Hillary) Clinton, who think that contributions from fervent butt-kissing are indications of “serious” advances in public policy.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      “Labor shortage” are two words no oligarch ever wants to hear. I trust nobody remains believing the high unemployment rate in the western world isn’t a very consciously planned condition. We are told an absurd quasi-religious fairy tales about “the invisible hand” and free markets, removing all agency–and hence responsibility–for economic conditions from those who control it. As if unemployment or wealth inequalities were like the weather or the result of natural laws that act inexorably and cannot be changed.

      A recovery that brings down unemployment is the last damn thing any billionaire wants to see.

  16. susan the other

    Also on LBJ and the Civil Rights Act. It’s hard to understand the Supremes these days. Loved Ginsburg’s quote about not using your umbrella anymore because you weren’t getting wet. Times were pretty dark back in 1964 too… LBJ knew he had a one-time opportunity, not because he was such a good politician, but because the country wanted to go to war and he could extort passage of the CRA and other Great Society concessions out of congress by promising them their war. I think it all boils down to that. LBJ was a formidable extortionist.

  17. afisher

    In response to Pando – or karmic timing – the Intercept came to life today and treated the readers with an explanation from the new Editor in Chief, so there is that.

    1. Bruno Marr

      What the Pando cartoon of Greenwald doesn’t explain is the shrewd timing of the release of new publications by Greenwald (and others). New revelations seem to follow soon after MSM echo’s Alexander, Clapper, and Obama lies about the NSA. Of course, most of us want more revelations (daily?), but how many folks are willing to “get in the street” over them? Maybe The Intercept can get us there.

      1. Garrett Pace

        This is breathtaking. John Cook down in the comments:

        “I’m fairly obsessively focused on my own little stovepipe, so while I’m eager to learn about what other sites may be in the offing here at First Look, I know just about as much as you do. ”

        So who IS running the whole show over there? Pierre?

        1. JTFaraday

          Well, the tech bubble billionaire wanted his vanity press to play with, but he doesn’t know what it should be yet:

          “And so Omidyar gathered, at his expense, several of First Look’s top executives and about a dozen high-profile editors, journalism educators, industry analysts, and former reporters last Saturday in Laguna Beach, Calif., to listen to his vision, dissect his emerging strategy and offer advice on both.

          The only catch: The day was governed by what is known as the Chatham House Rule, under which participants agreed not to quote from the proceedings directly.

          We sat in a U-shaped formation in a ballroom at Omidyar’s elegant Montage Hotel. The group spent eight hours asking questions, challenging First Look’s brass (and each other), and generally seeking to understand the burdens and opportunities that come when a billionaire decides to push $250 million toward a journalism venture for which he has extraordinary expectations…”

  18. just me

    Editor Cook is taking questions till 3pm. Scanning down, this caught my eye:

    Nick Manes
    14 Apr 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Are there particulars attributes or beats you’re looking to fill for as you staff up with reporters?

    John Cook
    14 Apr 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Not white. Not male.

  19. Hugh

    Firstlook looks first and foremost like the media outlet that wasn’t. Cook’s passover letter is incoherent. It is going to be a “full-bore” news operation and it will be publishing for what looks like the foreseeable future sporadically on the Snowden documents and not much else. Try to square those two.

    Firstlook was first announced 6 months ago, and there had to have been talks going on prior to that. Yet all they have come up with in all that time is a promise to keep milking and gatekeeping the Snowden material for their own personal profit. Setting the issue of the increasingly dubious use of the Snowden document trove aside, what does Firstlook add to any of this? Isn’t this the same work Greenwald was already doing at the Guardian? Firstlook keeps making big promises it doesn’t fulfill. If your brand is kickass journalism, it’s got to hurt that brand if five guys in a clown car look to have better organizational skills than you.

    Newspapering has been around in this country since before there was a country. Yet with more than two hundred years of history to draw on, a couple hundred million dollars to spend, a population of “kickass” bloggers, and more than 6 months to put together a creditable operation, Firstlook remains without any real vision, mission, organization, and above all content. That’s a pretty across the board fail from where I’m sitting.

    1. different clue

      Perhaps firstlook’s real secret mission is to occupy its space to prevent others from occupying it, and then salt the earth thereunder to make sure no “real” digital fighting-journalistic outlet will ever emerge in that space.

      1. rayduray

        This same thought has crossed my mind. The situation is reminiscent in a way to the Hollywood studio system of the 1930s. If you were a high powered talent in the wrong studio, your career could go into a serious stall.

    1. optimader

      mmm. probably just making our Fleet of torpedo magnets light up their electronic gewgaks to see what new, then go home and pick it apart.

      1. OIFVet

        You got it, a little ELINT gathering on the Aegis with the added bonus of some hysteria-induced mouth foaming amongst certain crowds.

        1. optimader

          the russkies are cleaning the dustbunnies out of some 50 yo aviation museum artifacts. Imagine the challenge of keeping this stuff airworthy..miles of baked out wire insulation..
          The mission was aborted because the pilot that was older than the plane needed another restroom break. I can only imagine this was edge of the seat “breaking news” in the crap cable MSM?
          This performance theater stuff is such a waste of resources.

          A Russian attack plane performed multiple passes near an American warship in the Black Sea.

          The aircraft, reportedly a Russian Air Force Su-24 Fencer, flew within 1,000 yards of the USS Donald Cook, the U.S. Navy destroyer currently operating in the Black Sea. According to the Associated Press, the Fencer flew at 500 feet ASL (Above Sea Level) and performed passes that the ship commander considered “provocative and inconsistent with international agreements.”

          The ship, that has been operating in the Black Sea since Apr. 10, issued several radio calls and warnings to the Fencer, that was unarmed and was never in real danger of coming in contact with the ship.

          Noteworthy, the U.S. warship was also being shadowed by a Russian Navy frigate, but this is just routine during operations conducted in international waters east of Romania.

          Such close encounters are quite frequent is seas around the world. Some years ago a pair of Tu-95 Bear flew quite close to USS Nimitz in the Pacific. For sure, when this happens in the Black Sea and amid raising tensions following the Russian invasion of Crimea, the episode assumes a completely different meaning.

          1. skippy

            Hay we could counter with our already obsolete F-35. Btw that’s the superior 5th gen Fencer-E aircraft, so more than likely wanted the ship to turn on its gizmos for a peek a boo.

            skippy… The Baltic sea is a kill zone…. far from home.

              1. skippy

                At par right now, F22 has better radar, super cruse and stealth. The Su-27M/35 has better IRUV detection and thrust vectoring [quicker pointy end of the stick maneuvering]. The big problem being is fuel, if the tankers get shot down the F22 goes for a swim.

                So its a wait and see with the PAK FA [India partners], its much cheaper, so its up to industrial capacity and commitment to archive numbers, tho China is another story.
                “Mr Price: They were sitting over the ocean off Taiwan. This is the simulation required by RAND. The Super Hornets had come off carriers and come out of Okinawa. The confrontation was mainly to the north of Taiwan. The only requirement that RAND had that must be met in terms of developing a situation was its hypothesis that in 2018 the Chinese would have developed high frequency over-the-horizon radar which would defeat the stealth characteristics of both the F22 and the F35.

                The Super Hornet has got no stealth at all. At the end of the day, it is a technological lemon for a modern air-to-air combat aircraft. It has got one speed, so it will fall out of the sky as soon as you shoot it.

                The issue for the other two was that they had stealth, which in the endgame may reduce the attrition based upon an ability to defeat the weapons, because there it is not aircraft on aircraft but weapon on aircraft. The issue for us was to develop a simulation such that it represented what the environment would be like should the Chinese be able to provide targeting information at the course level to attacking aircraft that would enable them to use sensors other than radar to detect and engage the F22 and the F35.

                In combat, the back end of the F35 on afterburner is something like 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. In terms of temperature, aluminium combusts at 1100. You are talking about something really, really hot. If you have got a dirty big sensor on the front of your SU35 or your PAK FA or whatever, it lights up like Christmas lights and there is nothing you can do about it. And the plume, because of the symmetric exhaust, is all over the place. It is not shielded, it is not ducted in any useful way. So from an IRUV point of view, the advantage that the Russians, Chinese, Indians, you name it, can have is that they have a range of different seeker types on their weapons that can engage the aircraft.

                We are basically limited to medium range with one type of technology. Short range we have an IR missile, the Sidewinder or the ASRAAM, but at the end of the day you cannot get into a position to fire the thing before you are shot by the adversary’s weapons. That was the outcome of the analysis of the exercise.

                CHAIR: Just to clarify this, essentially it was an aircraft-on-aircraft exercise? With no support of the—

                Mr Price : We had four AWACs in support. They were the first things targeted by the SU35s in the engagement. They had a life expectancy of about 17 minutes. Mind you, that is eight minutes better than what they have got in Europe.

                Then it came to the tankers. The tankers were all rolled up, but they generally got rolled up after the fighters had been engaged. The issue for the F35 in particular, was that because the aircraft is aerodynamically poor it is not able to engage very fast leakers that can get through a screen and take out the AWACs and your tankers. Once you take out the AWACs or the tanker—the JSF at its full capacity is burning something like 3.38 kilos of fuel per second—unless you have a flying gas station behind you, going into high-end combat an F35 has a very short time span activity.”


  20. abynormal

    Scientists reported today the first human recipients of laboratory-grown vaginal organs. A research team led by Anthony Atala, M.D., director of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, describes in the Lancet long-term success in four teenage girls who received vaginal organs that were engineered with their own cells.

    “Be glad you don’t have a vagina,” my friend, who does have a vagina, told me. “You have to have a special doctor. You have to have these awful exams where you basically get naked and then remove your dignity. And then the various parts down there can get cancer and have to get cut out. I’m telling you, having a vagina is like having a pet. Like a dog that’s always chasing cars.”
    When she described it this way, it did seem a blessing that I was born without a vagina. I mean, I can’t even handle having a heart.”
    Augusten Burroughs, Possible Side Effects :-/

    1. craazyman

      faaak if they can just plant those fake vaginas in love dolls there’d be less creepy guys in the bars. You know, the 10 guys the ladies don’t want to have to talk to. That wouldn’t be good for the beer industry. Or probably anybody, actually. Sometimes it’s better to find a way to make it happen, awkward though it may be at first. Deep thoughts about biotechnology that make the mind shake and quiver in waves of contemplation.

  21. abynormal

    “In filing one’s taxes, it may be necessary to distinguish between breast implants that are merely “large,” and breast implants that are “extraordinarily large.”

    The relevant ruling on this subject came in 1994 in a case known as Hess v. Commissioner. The plaintiff, a self-employed exotic dancer, had implants that expanded her bust size to the size 56FF. For tax purposes, she treated these as a deductible business expense on her schedule C. The IRS contested her deduction.”
    “The relevant issue in Hess was whether breast implants – traditionally thought of as a luxury good bought for personal benefit – could be considered a legitimate business expense. Given that the plaintiff was an exotic dancer, she had a fair argument. But in general, taxpayers aren’t allowed to treat personal appearance expenditures as business expenses unless they aren’t suitable for personal use. Hess, arguing pro se, convincingly established that her implants were inconvenient in everyday life due to the sheer enormity of her breasts. The courts ruled in her favor:

    Because petitioner’s implants were so extraordinarily large, we find that they were useful only in her business. Accordingly, we hold that the cost of petitioner’s implant surgery is depreciable.”

      1. abynormal

        my sis says, ‘GAAP is meaningless anyway’.
        (show me yours i’ll show mine…but you first’)

  22. p78
    US ambassador to Kosovo hired by construction firm he lobbied for… pushed through deal for Bechtel Corporation to build controversial highway to Albania
    Michelle Michael, a spokeswoman for Bechtel, said[…]:“As you likely know, one of the roles of US ambassadors is to promote American business interests. Chris spent more than 30 years as a public servant, and any suggestion that he acted inappropriately or otherwise failed to meet his responsibility as a public servant is both unfair and offensive.”

  23. just me

    This seems fairly significant: UK Moves to Block US Senate Report to Protect Blair, Straw and Dearlove

    From a British diplomatic source I learn that Britain has lobbied the United States against the publication of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture and extraordinary rendition. The lobbying has been carried out “at all levels” – White House, State Department and CIA. The British have argued that at the very least the report must be emasculated before publication.

    The White House, the State Department and the CIA — and not the Senate Intelligence Committee itself?

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