Links 4/18/14

Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Prize-winning explorer of myth and reality, dies at 87 Washington Post

What Gabriel García Márquez Means to His Fellow Colombians Slate

Jesus died to give us two bank holidays Daily Mash

Crows Like My Pal George Aren’t Just Smart, They’re Also Jokers Scientific American

What It’s Like to Spend 20 Years Listening to Psychopaths for Science Wired (furzy mouse)

Deadly Viral Disease MERS Spreads From Middle East to Southeast Asia Wall Street Journal. Death rate higher than 1/3 of those infected.

Iranian murderer saved from hangman’s noose by victim’s own mother Daily News

Why Are Search-and-Rescue Drones Grounded? IEEE Spectrum (JSC)

Malaysia stands firm on TPP ahead of Obama visit Nikkei

China admits widespread soil pollution Financial Times

Real estate prices beginning to drop across inland China Nikkei

Thailand charges reporters over Pulitzer-winning article Agence France-Presse

Thailand Monument Builder Looks Overseas as Unrest Damps Growth Bloomberg

ECB moving closer to unconventional policy Walter Kurtz

Uber taxi service suffers setback in Berlin Financial Times

US Anti-Tank Rockets in Syria: Did Congress Approve? TruthOut


Deal struck to calm Ukraine crisis BBC

Ukraine Talks Gain; Putin Keeps Force on Table Wall Street Journal

Kiev’s Military Campaign in East Ukraine Collapses DSWright, Firedoglake. In case you wondered why diplomacy suddenly ramped up….

The specter of civil war hangs over Ukraine DW. As in the Great Powers may not be able to arrest what they’ve set in motion.

Demands That Jews Register in Eastern Ukraine Are Denounced, and Denied and Groups Deny Link to Leaflets Threatening Jews in Ukraine City New York Times. Readers yesterday were duly skeptical of the original story.

For Investors, Ukraine Tensions Finally Starting to Matter WSJ MoneyBeat

US financial showdown with Russia is more dangerous than it looks, for both sides Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

The I.M.F.’s Data Disagree With the NYT on the State of Russia’s Economy CEPR

Putin is Losing Eastern European Energy Gamble OilPrice

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Edward Snowden defends decision to question Vladimir Putin on surveillance Guardian

FBI drone deployment timeline includes dog fighting rings and fugitive manhunts MuckRock

Is This the Missing WikiLeaks PayPal Order? Marcy Wheeler

Obamacare Launch

Here’s how we got to 8 million Obamacare signups Washington Post

Report: Oracle pushes back against Oregon officials over troubled health care site ITWorld

Privatization is a Ramp for Corruption and Insouciance is a Ramp for War Paul Craig Roberts, CounterPunch

Holder and Mueller Spent $7.8 Million Taxpayer Dollars on Personal Travel Peter Van Buren, Firedoglake

Democratic donor pleads guilty to campaign fraud Financial Times

G.O.P. Discovers Useful Voter Outreach Tool: Gun Sweepstakes New York Times

Labor Shortage Threatens to Bust the Shale Boom Bloomberg

Jobless claims edge up, but 4-week average falls to prerecession level Los Angeles Times

Ginnie Mae To Big Banks: Show Us Your Mortgages. But Can They? Abigail Field

Housing Bubble 2.0 Veers Elegantly Toward Housing Bust 2.0 Wolf Richter

The problems of HFT, Joe Stiglitz edition Felix Salmon

Why current turbulence cannot be likened to the dotcom crash of 2000 Telegraph

Animal activism is great. Why can’t we get as loud on (human) workers’ rights? Guardian

Antidote du jour (Steve L). A marmot at Palouse Falls:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. lolcar

    A very good sign that the Ukrainian soldiers just handed their weapons over to the so-called “terrorists” in the East. I think it shows very well that the whole crisis has been manufactured by external forces. The average Ukrainian doesn’t seem very keen to start killing other Ukrainians. Nor to kill Russians, for that matter.

  2. dearieme

    “Readers yesterday were duly skeptical of the original story.” No bloody wonder. I blame that Obama. He’s a disgrace to Kenya.

    1. skippy

      Don’t forget – Dunham was born in Saint Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas,[7] the only child of Madelyn Lee Payne and Stanley Armour Dunham.[8] She was of predominantly English ancestry, with some German, Swiss, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh ancestry.[9]


      Dunham spent her childhood in California, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, her teenage years in Mercer Island, Washington

  3. Skeptic

    What It’s Like to Spend 20 Years Listening to Psychopaths for Science Wired (furzy mouse)

    Wouldn’t two obvious questions to any intellectually curious scientist be: how many psychopaths in the Elite and their minions? Is there a disproportionate number of psychopaths in the 1%?

    Personally, psychopaths with billions of dollars of power concern me much more than bottom feeding ones. Particularly when these top echelon psychopaths can buy things like their own bio and nano tech research labs and, for all practical purposes, operate them in an unregulated fashion.

    The article is a reflection on how our Injustice System focuses on low level crime and ignores the real crazies running rampant at the top. Wired, you can do a lot better than this.

    1. McMike

      Jesse has been on this for a while at his blog. Don’t have the links handy. He often links and cites papers on the issue.

      The punchline is: yes, there is a higher proportion of sociopaths at the C-level and on Wall Street. It systematically attracts and rewards people without conscience who are motivated by greed without regard for others, and who enjoy inflicting suffering on others.

      1. down2long

        I was listening to a radio show the other night with a psychiatrist, and he works with psycho/sociopaths. He said the percentage of pyschopaths in the general population is about 1%. Of course, given confirmation bias, that number aligns very well with the 1%. But on the other hand, actions do speak louder than words. And a lot of these 1 percenters are sick people with no empathy or concern for anyone but themselves. I wish I had attribution, I will say the show was “Coast to Coast.” and yes, I get that is an often unreliable source. The percentages can probably be ascertained in more, um, respectable locations.

        1. Mcmike

          The number that comes to mind from Jesse’s show was 1% in general, but more like 5% or 10% among financial elite. But I might have made that up.

          Also of concern is the learned sociopathology in that environment – aka moral degeneracy and a celebration of lawlessness and fraud.

          1. Skeptic

            “learned sociopathology”

            Yes that is a very important point. I am reminded of the Civil War where a low percentage of humans would actually shoot each other. Modern learned warfare has gotten those number up to much higher. I am also reminded that in countries where drunkeness is not socially tolerated, there are lower rates of alcoholism. So, how much of sociopathology is Nature and how much Nurture?

            1. McMike

              Yup, now we can get some soldiers to kill practically for fun. A lot of them don’t come back so okay though.

              I think it is important to understand that science believes true psychopaths are born that way. Born without a conscience as it were. Wall Street has created the perfect environment for them to thrive rather then be shunned.

              The psychopaths are so well rewarded in fact, it’s created environment that entices people with functional consciences to ignore/overwrite theirs. Gresham’s Dynamic again.

        2. Lambert Strether

          I think that, rather than regarding *pathy as some sort of essence, we need to ask ourselves how to avoid creating systems where *pathic behavior is adaptive, or, rather, where it’s actually maladaptive.

        3. Chris

          Its narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) that we are discussing.

          It starts in early childhood. Adults who had secure early childhoods almost never have it. Rich people often have it because they grew up rich and their parents were not there for them when they needed them. They are neurologically different. They never developed empathy. So its like they remain trapped at a six year old level, in a certain way. But, – they hide it very well. VERY well.

          Have you ever seen the second (the best) version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”?

          I think that film is kind of about narcissists. Its terrifying. They are terrifying. Ive had the misfortune to have to deal with them a number of times. They are sick people.

          I wouldn’t put any evil beyond their capacity.

    2. Gian75

      There could be a concentration among billionaries, but then again that number is probably related to a very strict definition.
      Far more interesting, imho, are what I would tentatively name “psycopathic behaviors”, that is, behaviors one would expect somebody perfectly fitting the definition of psycopath to enact routinely/constantly, but that are also enacted by others who do NOT fit the said description/criterion.

      For instance, consider the apparently callous disregard for the fate or conditions of others expressed at times in words, or in deeds, by some very wealthy people. What I am interested into are the rationalizations that those people use to support (or excuse) their reasonings and their actions (or lack thereof).

      I am even more interested into commonly accepted axioms/assumptions which are deeply misinformed or irrational,for instance ,one is entirely responsible of everything happening to him/her or, one should suffer the full weight of the consequences of one’s decision. More specifically, I am wondering to what extent the so called “liars loans” were also enabled by
      the notion that, once you have signed a contract, you cannot walk away from that contract no matter the consequences because of a misguided notion of “honor”.

      1. jagger

        Just look at tribal or insider vs outsider behavior. Throughout our history, a person can be absolutely the finest person in the world to his family or his tribe or his buddies and at the same time, a cold blooded killer when it comes to outsiders or the others. You don’t have to be a psychopath to do incredibly evil things. It might help but isn’t necessary.

        I imagine many of the powerful see the mass of the people as outsiders or the others. If you don’t belong to their group, you are, at best, nothing to them and at worse, you are the enemy justifying any behavior to destroy you.

        I wonder what percentage of humanity- weak, powerful, poor, rich-does think in terms of tribal relations. I imagine it is a fairly substantial percentage.

    1. McMike

      Jeepers. Don’t step back little feller.

      My old office overlooked a steel company’s pile of steel beams. Marmots had taken up residence, as well as feral cats. The marmots would come out and sun on the beans during the day. Each would rear their litters in there. I often wondered about their coexistence. I am pretty sure an adult marmot could fend off a cat, but wondered about protecting their litters.

    2. craazyman

      it’s either a grizzly bear with a huge nose or a chipmunk beside a tiny waterfall.

      Trying to get rich quick with stocks is like that too

      1. diptherio

        Know any good bars within walking distance of the Ferry terminal, craazy? I won’t be able to make it to the meet-up (curses!) but I believe you promised me a beer awhile back and I intend to take you up on it, if at all possible. Also, I need an excuse to get off SI. I’ve been here for two weeks and have only ventured across the water once. The rest of my time I’ve spent beautifying the neighborhood by turning the Everything Goes furniture store from dirty white to gleaming green and yellow. It’s been fun, but I have a feeling there’s more to the city than the low-rent section of Staten Island (although I do kinda dig the neighborhood).

        1. craazyman

          There used to be a nice Wall Street watering hole where you could talk business and do deals, but I think it closed a few decades ago. George Washington slept there once. That’s how out of it I am. Last time I walked around down there I saw a jeweled horse saddle on display in an Hermes store and I thought “This is what it’s come to.” Wall Street used to be all about fat guys in suspenders smoking cigars getting drunk at lunch then sleeping it off in their desk chair until 5 pm. Not much used to happen on Wall Street in the old days. The economy was much better off.

          Maybe Tues, Wed. or Thursday if it works for you guys and anyone else. I’m down with a respiratory bug now that won’t let up. Wanna chill for next couple days and try to feel better.

          Maybe we could meet up near Zucotti park and there’s loads of bars within a few blocks

          1. Jackrabbit

            I think you are talking about Fraunces Tavern. There’s also a museum next door (the Fraunces Tavern Museum).

            I think I had the same bug, craazyman. Its very hard to get rid of.

            FYI I am flying out of NY on Wednesday evening. I hope you guys can get together before that.

            1. craazyman

              wow it’s open! It actually looks appealing with the beer menu.

              We’ll make a capitalist yet out of Diptherio at Fraunces Tavern. Then we can all get rich quick working for him once he starts his co-op. Gold is not cooperating.

              Capitalism isn’t bad, as long as regulation is good. It’s like NFL football, you need rules and referees to make it a sport. Otherwise, it’s just mayhem.

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      Palouse Falls in the arid desert area of the state of Washington. Extraordinary, especially this time of the year when the snow melts in the mountains at the river’s source and it runs high. Thank you for posting this.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Like a Chinese brush painting, Nature is front and center, and our critter friend shows his humbleness by being small and to the side.

        He or she is one with the universe.

    4. Chris

      Yves, thank you for all the cute animal pictures. They balance out all the other stuff quite well.

      I wonder if any of those animals (the kittens, maybe) are your own? Where did the giraffe images come from?

      1. Peter Pan

        I had a (some) “cute” marmot(s) shred my backpacking tent and track mud all over my sleeping bag while I was climbing and skiing down Glacier Peak, Washington in July.

        But since I trespassed onto their backyard, I guess I had it coming. There was no food or sweaty clothes (salt) in my tent so it had to be the trespassing. At least they didn’t defile anything with bodily waste.

  4. McMike

    From the “crapification of everything” file…

    I am a long time amateur part time audiophile, but have been out of the game for a while, so I had not heard of this: The Loudness Wars:

    Learn more at Wiki, and in the meantime:Turn Me Up

    It became noticeable to me when I broke down and bought a direct-digital-output connection for my i-device to my home stereo (versus the analog connection which is expected to be crap). Listening to music files and pandora and even the radio left me constantly wanting to fiddle with the tone controls to no avail. I thought it was my ears going old, or the speakers or something. But the problem may well be that the music is muddier than it used to be.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “the music is muddier than it used to.” Why? I see the technical discussion of the loudness wars, but I don’t see the cause of it; presumably, profit or rent, but how?

      1. Lord Koos

        As a musician, finally a subject I can talk about with authority on NC! The reason it is called “the loudness wars” is because tests have shown that casual listeners perceive louder as sounding “better”, so every record company wants their products to stand out as louder than the rest, especially on the radio. The overuse of compression and limiting really started to get out of hand in the 1990s. Formerly it was used carefully to prevent distortion when transferring master tapes to vinyl, and to limit volume spikes which would distort on AM radio. But since the advent of the CD, it has been over-used to make records sound louder than the competition, with the result being the unfortunate degradation of audio on most if not all modern pop records. The effect can be very fatiguing to the ear, even more so will low-res MP3s. The advent of MP3s also made it advantageous to heavily limit and compress the music since more audio information can be crammed into the file, but it sacrifices the quality. Back in the1960s, Motown was a user of compression in their mastering process, and Motown 45rpm singles were known to be louder than the competition, which helped their music stand out on jukeboxes and on the radio. But what Motown did in those days is nowhere near the amount that is applied now. For a good example of how over-the-top compression destroys audio, take a listen to the red Hot Chili Peppers album “Californication”. It’s basically used as an effect, but the sound is horrible. One of my pet peeves is that this process is now being applied to reissues of older pop records which were never originally processed that way… for example the Rolling Stones early catalog which is re-released on CD by ABKCO. The dynamics of the original recordings have been destroyed. The use of computer software in modern mastering makes the overuse of compression extremely easy to do with the click of a mouse. The sad irony is that when CDs first came onto the market, the hype was all about how much more dynamic range (loud to soft) digital had when compared to analog. But now most records have the life crushed out of them and there is less dynamic range on many CDs than on most old vinyl.

        1. Banger

          If you listen carefully to old recordings on a really good system or even just good headphones you can really see how much better they are to the ear even vey high-energy rock. Compression can help bring out some instruments in a mix but if you do it to the entire mix it does, literally, become tiring to listen to. Another problem is chorus and reverb that also muddies the mix if used too much. The weird thing is that modern audiences seem to think loudness is good and over amped subs as well.

          Thanks for your excellent presentation.

          1. McMike

            Indeed. Crapification as simulacra. The music becomes secondary, incidental actually, to the product, which is selling bits & bytes – to the point that the product is on the verge of becoming not-music.

            It is now just eye candy, that grabs your attention off the shelf, but is unsatisfying and offensive in the long run.

            Not exactly a new phenomena in the music industry, the tug of war between the suits and the artists, but as with much or our modern crapifcation world: they take it too far.

        2. McMike

          Thanks Lord K. Yes, the defilement of past music. They aren’t satisfied just ruining things going forward. But that’s the point of crapification via monetization, buy the rights to something with brand recognition, then cannibalize the heck out of it.

        3. Chris

          Well put. Also, the CD format we have been stuck with is not so great because the bit depth is too shallow and the sample rate is too low.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Wow, I am now happy that I own a lot of old CDs. Some sound different than the vinyl originals but most don’t. And my mother still has a fair bit of vinyl.

        4. habenicht

          Very helpful!

          This is the kind of discussion thread where it would be great if there was some kind of bookmarking functionality!

    2. jrs

      Interesting, and as some articles suggest if this just fatigues you then it’s music and the stress response as well.

  5. Brindle

    re: “The IMF’s Data Disagree w/ NYT on Ukraine…”

    The NYT reporter on that story was David M. Herszenhorn, who has been one of the leading propagandists for the U.S govt position on Ukraine and Russia. The corporate media’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis has been as poor as it was during the Iraq Invasion buildup, with WaPo and the NYT jockeying for the title of “the worst”.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Operation Mockingbird soldiers on. Like ambassadors, journos are good people sent abroad to lie for their country.

      Talking down the Russian economy through the press will help Americans feel better about the sanctions. Unbelievably, now I get pop-up ads from S&P Dow Jones, offering technical help with details of our economic blockade of Russia.

      Are you in compliance, comrades?

  6. Skeptic

    Edward Snowden defends decision to question Vladimir Putin on surveillance Guardian
    Putin says Russian Spoox follow the rule of law.

    “Vlad, do you have a bridge in Brooklinovich I could buy?”

    NBA Brooklyn Nets owned by Russian Oligarch or State Agent (take your pick), Mikhail Prokhorov. They play in the Barclay’s Center named after the TBTF Brit Bank. All brought to you by the usual transnational pushers of booze, fats foods, geegaws and gottahaves. We are all Globalists now.

  7. diptherio

    File Under: Obamacare Fustercluck

    Read this yesterday in the Staten Island Advance. Narrow networks, Obamacare’s broken back-end, and the horrific results. And you thought we lived in a civilized society…

    STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — After receiving her new health coverage in January through the New York State of Health Marketplace, Arden Heights resident Margaret Figueroa, 49, who suffers from two chronic illnesses, went to her pharmacy to fill her prescriptions. Although her insurance company, EmblemHealth, assured her she was covered, her insurance card was denied.

    While she had signed up for new health coverage — because her insurance carrier dropped her old plan — the company’s internal paperwork apparently wasn’t filed.

    She also learned that all her long-time doctors didn’t accept the new insurance plan.
    After intervention by Grimm’s office, Ms. Figueroa was able to obtain some of her prescriptions on April 1 for which she had refills.

    She takes five different medications several times per day, like morphine for the chronic pain and other medications to help slow the affects of her nerve damage.

    But some of her prescriptions had no refills, forcing her to go without them for three months.

    And Ms. Figueroa can’t find a doctor who participates in her new plan to write new prescriptions, give her referrals for pain management care, or treat her for her illnesses.

    “Even though the insurance company cashed your check, it doesn’t mean it (the policy) has been implemented,” said Grimm.

    “That’s the problem — that the back end of Obamacare hasn’t been fully built. You can go on the front end of an application and look at a list of plans, but what they don’t tell you is that many of those plans don’t have doctors yet.”

    Ms. Figueroa said only six doctors in the borough accept her new health plan, and she has yet to be able to get an appointment with one.

    But I’m sure O-care is helping someone, right?

  8. Carolinian


    more from Robert Parry on the recent NYT eyebrow raiser

    I’ve seen Moscow correspondent Herszenhorn on the News Hour and he bears a passing resemblence to “our man Yats.” Must be something in the water over there.

    However I’m not sure I’d agree with Parry that this is the ultimate press nadir. That would probably be the Iraq war.

    1. Brindle

      Herszenhorn’s “reporting” on the front page was closer to a Charles Krauthammer WaPo opinion piece. I guess the NYT assumes we are all mindless zombies.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not all government spending is waste.

        Publicly funded brain research has been very valuable in practical, everyday propaganda campaigns and making mindless zombies out of us.

  9. Larry Headlund

    The link labeled Thailand charges reporters over Pulitzer-winning article has an incorrect url attached. It takes you to Demands That Jews Register in Eastern Ukraine Are Denounced, and Denied at NYTimes, burning one of the free visits of the unwary, like myself.

    1. Ned Ludd

      Try setting your browser to delete all your cookies every time you quit. In Firefox, this is under Privacy settings: “Clear history when Firefox closes.” This also reduces the ability of web sites to track you.

      The correct article, about Thailand, is here.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Fixed, thanks.

        Adding, thanks for the tip on clearing history. I need the history of sites visited, so I used the Advanced settings to clear only cache and cookies. Maybe that will have the desired effect….

        1. Ned Ludd

          Silverlight and Adobe Flash can also be used, by websites, to store tracking information. In Firefox, go to the URL about:addons. Then go to the “Plugins” section. For plugins that you use, you can set the drop-down box to “Ask to Activate”; this lets you turn on a plugin for only those sites where you use it. Any plugin that you don’t use should, for security purposes, be set to “Never Activate”.

      2. Ben Johannson

        If you use Firefox you can also download the Self-Destructing Cookies add-on, which will destroy them whenever you move to a new page.

  10. Banger

    RE: NYT and Russian economy

    This is just another example of the NYT being just a department of the U.S. government. Nothing they say or report should be taken seriously except at it reflects particular opinions of the shifting power centers in Washington. You read the Times as I used to read Pravda and Izvestia.

  11. Ned Ludd

    Graham Phillips, who is currently reporting for RT, observes that “they are replacing many of the #Russia flags with ‘Donetsk Republic’ ones”. He calls it the Geneva effect. He posted a short video.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From Housing Bubble/bust 2.0,

    “Private equity firms and REITs, prime beneficiaries of the Fed’s nearly free money, gobbled up vacant homes sight unseen in order to convert them into rental housing, and in the process pushed up prices – exactly what the Fed wanted. But now high prices torpedoed their business model, and they’re backing off.”

    1. That doesn’t sound like there will be a bust, if they are ‘backing off,’ due to current high prices. That means, instead, there are price supports…levels below these guys will pounce again. The bust will come only when rates go up.

    2. The rich always will and can have money to spend…all the time, recession or no recession. So, when we are in one, the thing to do is to get spending money to the poor and the rest of us ASAP, delivering ‘medicine’ to where it is actually needed, and not this ‘trickle down’ stuff, which is like telling the starving serfs to wait for the gluttonous manor lord’s leftovers when he is done bingeing. Money Creation via the Little People spending it into existence is one simple and powerful way to do this, not only in a recession or an emergency, but all the time – it’s so good, you can take this people-sovereign medicine everyday.

    1. rich

      Crime in Our PEU World

      Our world has politicians Red and Blue. Both love PEU.

      Economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.

      Research confirms what many of us already knew in our gut.

      keep believing…..

    2. Ed S.

      With respect to Point 1, Wolf’s point is that the artificial demand created by the Fed’s cheap money enabled large funds to buy up and limit supply available to “organic” purchasers. Ultra-low rates supported “organic” purchasers as well.

      So where we are now is

      1) Prices up 20% to 50% from the lows.
      2) Interest rates are up 30% from the lows
      3) Large “investors” have all they want (and made up anywhere from 25% to 50% of the purchase market over the past several years).
      4) Ultra-low rates lock-in move-up purchasers (not sure about this)

      So unless supply and demand doesn’t apply to the RE market, I don’t see how an increase in supply and a decrease in demand would equal stable (or increasing!) prices.

      Now I do think that low inventories are an issue, but less of an issue than the RE Industrial Complex would like you to believe. It’s unlikely that more inventory — of the same quality and at the same asking price — would increase sales volume. It will either result in reduced price or a buyer/seller standoff (the latter more likely)

      A quick numerical example
      Then: price 100, Interest rate 3.375 %
      Now: price 120, interest rate 4.5%
      Same down payment available to purchaser — monthly payment is 40%+ higher (taxes and PMI ignored),

  13. Percy

    HFT Stiglitz Edition

    The SEC Chairman (or “Chair,” as she prefers to call herself for some reason), Mary Jo White, refuses to respond to all this even though the SEC staff has had all the necessary information about bad HFT practices (not all of them are bad, but many are unforgivably so) and was warned convincingly about their impact on the proper and fair functioning of the market since at least 2011. (See, e.g., Haim Bodek’s book and articles.) Of course, she has no background as a regulator, only as a litigator, so her hesitation and indecisiveness in regulatory matters is to some degree understandable. But she seems smart, so it ought not to have taken this long for her and her fellow Commissioners to get a handle on HFT even though the issues are complex. Rather than do anything, or even propose to do anything, broad in scope and specific to address these issues, however, she retreats into a shell of saying that more study is needed and that nothing will be done that is not “data-based” — her new mantra to excuse delay and inaction. Really? What on earth does she think more data is going to tell her about this? Could she give us a hint? What is she looking for? She now also mentions that the SEC has several investigations into HFT practices pending. That’s it. Sure, it’s hard to put out new rules and understand their consequences. (The massive Regulation NMS, for example, sadly and inadvertently set the table for HFT in ways that have been repeatedly described and that have long needed correction — but nothing at all has been proposed to do that. Similarly, pernicious new exchange order types enabling market-wrecking HFT conduct were blindly approved by the SEC staff, using delegated authority from the Commission, that now must embarrass the agency and have made it complicit in this disaster.) Hard as it is to make the necessary tradeoff decisions and craft new rules embodying them that can withstand judicial review, that’s the SEC’s job, not endless study and shilly-shally. The public has every right to be outraged — not only by bad HTF practices, but by the SEC’s indolence. Get on with it, Mary Jo! Lead! Bang it out with your staff and fellow Commissioners and get on with it.

  14. Jackrabbit

    The Ukraine Summit Farce

    1) All sides seemed to be talking past each other
    – Disarming “illegal” groups and ending “illegal” occupation? Each side sees the other as “illegal”!?!?!
    – Russia has not fallen into the trap of a) refusing to talk; b) refusing to ‘agree’ with calls for a peaceful way forward
    – Neither side has moved off their basic position. Devolution falls well short of the federalism: the US/West appears to be intractable; they are playing for all the marbles.

    2) Separate press conferences
    – demonstrates how far apart Russia and US/Ukraine are
    – Kerry’s pique at the last question of the news conference (regarding Crimea) further demonstrates how adamantly US/Ukraine remains committed to a unified Ukraine.

    3) “De-escalation” ignored/broken immediately after
    – NATO sends warships to Baltic Sea
    – Ukraine insists on continuing with anti-terrorist operation in east/south
    – east/south separatists continue to occupy buildings (don’t recognize Ukrainian govt authority)

    Crimea Question
    Since US/Ukraine insist that Crimean “annexation” is illegal, does that mean that does Cimeans now effectively have dual citizenship? Will they be allowed to vote in the Ukrainian elections on May 25th?

    1. Jess

      Yeah, I’m waiting for that disarmament of the illegal groups, too. Let’s see:

      – The Neo-Nazis won’t disarm because they want to retain the power to coerce the legislature and whatever devolved/federal entities remain standing when the dust clears.

      – The average people who just want a better country won’t disarm because that would put them at the mercy of the Russkies and the right wingers, not to mention preventing them from staging some kind of Hungary ’56/Czechoslovia ’68 genuine reform revolt.

      – The pro-Russian groups won’t disarm because they fear the regular folks, the right wingers, and the established military (not to mention whatever “special police” might be reconstituted in the future.

      Yep, this is go just the way they wrote it up. No doubt.

  15. Lambert Strether

    The article on how we got to the 8 million ObamaCare signup figure is pretty level-headed. WonkBlog has improved with Klein’s self-aggrandizement and access journalism excised. Of course, this being WaPo, matters will deteriorate again soon enough, but for now….

    1. Cynthia

      The spin machine is going full tilt, trying to mitigate the damage caused by an unworkable health care scheme. It is just amazing to see the sudden proliferation of favorable articles. The bottom line is that the plan is not financially sound. Medicaid provides substandard care that drives its covered lives to seek care in hospital emergency rooms. A substantial percentage of those who have signed up with ObamaCare plans have not actually paid the premiums, taking advantage of a grace period in doing so. Acceptance of health insurance by young people, needed to stabilize premiums, is not occurring as the cost of such policies is greater than penalties owed to the IRS for being uninsured.

      Large numbers of insured, particularly small business people with high deductible individual policies lost coverage and now have to attempt to sign up for lower quality, more costly plans.

      Now the plans that are offered have narrower coverage. What exactly does that mean, other than more profits for the insurance industry by allowing it to shrink benefits?

    1. OIFVet

      Haaretz: “Flier calling on Donetsk Jews to register now widely seen as fake, Ukrainian city’s separatist leader, whose alleged signature is on document, says he never signed it; ADL ‘skeptical of fliers’ authenticity.'”

      Seems like the propaganda is getting sloppier and more desperate since the Kiev lapdogs’ “anti-terrorist” campaign devolved into an embarrassing wave of desertions and general unwillingness on the part of the army to fight its own people.

  16. susan the other

    Abigail Field on the latest MERS fiasco with Ginnie Mae. I thought this was a little timid of Abigail since she has been so detailed and hard hitting in the past. Maybe this is just her “wait and see” appearance.

  17. Cynthia

    Re: “Holder and Mueller Spent $7.8 Million Taxpayer Dollars on Personal Travel”

    The pervasive sense of entitlement among these elected officials is simply the result of following the example set by the family who resides at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The most recent being Michelle Obama, the daughters and mother-in-law traveling to China and being received like an official government delegation when in fact they’re simply on vacation! Mrs. Obama and her mother were not elected to any office and as such, the Obamas should reimburse the government for this frivolous expenditure paid for by American taxpayers. Certainly if they want to get away from Washington on “spring break,” a suitable locale can be found within the US.

  18. zephyrum

    What’s all this about “psychopaths for science”? Is that some sort of advocacy group? As my friend Emily used to say, it just goes to show you…

  19. Oregoncharles
    Despite his abysmal showing on his signature issue, health care, Gov. Kitzhaber has decided to run for re-election. CoverOregon is hardly his only offense: he’s also been terrible on forestry, a major issue here, and on the coal trains, a big global heating issue. In short, a typical neoliberal Democrat.

    Anybody out there from Oregon? Because of Kitzhaber’s record, the Pacific Green Party intends to run against him, but so far, we don’t have a candidate. (The nominations are May 17.) So I’m abusing the comments section to solicit suggestions. If you are interested, or know someone we should approach, please contact us via the website, I expect, at the least, a substantial protest vote, which at the least would help keep the Green Party on the ballot.

    1. Banger

      Nice find JR–it does make sense to me and its good that we are getting a lot of creative insights. Eventually, one hopes, some of this might get reflected in the mainstream–see no signs of it yet though. Sy Hersh is still ignored in the mainstream.

  20. barrisj

    Another “Profiles in Courage” moment from the O-man:

    Keystone XL Review Delayed Again
    A final decision on the pipeline may not come until after November’s elections.

    The State Department announced Friday afternoon that it’s extending its deadline for review of the proposed Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline, a move that could punt a final decision until after the midterm congressional elections.

    “…until after the November elections”. Well, how about until after the 2016 Presidential election. This is one of the most contentious and dreaded decision-making ordeals by the WH, as Obama simply is unable to do the right thing and sink this abomination for good. More can-kicking down the road…”leadership” it’s called.

    1. hunkerdown

      It’s not can-kicking, it’s hostage-taking, just like in 2012 with the LGBT mainstream. What environmentalist has a Savage Love-class market penetration among Millennials? If they have a price, expect that they will be purchased just like Dan Savage and expect them to squawk on demand according to the Party’s and Administration’s policy needs just the same. If I had to hazard a guess, someone from The Discovery Channel, if not one of their properties.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      You got me from your opening sentence with your moniker for Dear Leader. Not to be disrespectful, but since it’s fairly clear where he’s going with this matter it brought back memories of the character Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld’s series:

      How did the term “Lame Duck” originate?

    3. different clue

      He’ll have to approve it sometime if he wants to get the money which approving it will get him from wealthy interested parties after he leaves office.

  21. participant-observer-observed

    Just in time for POTUS TPP promotion in Malaysia:

    FYI, William Lowther, “staff reporter in Washington” reports on the front page of 4/18 Taipei Times:

    “US report supports TPP membership
    REBALANCING:A US Senate commitee report says the US should ensure that Taiwan is included in all appropriate regional architectures and institutional building efforts”

    Is it another way of saying, “play along?” Meanwhile, reserve cash currency store in Taiwan remains high.

  22. Knative

    So I suppose most of you probably know about Digital Entertainment Network right? It was a tech company and it imploded in 1999 because the CEO used the company as a way to rape teenagers. Also this company was put together by Capital Entertainment Partners, which ran by Dana Giacchetto who would defraud like half of Hollywood. So anyway, he would have these parties, right at his sort of rape mansion, and he would invite a bunch of rich and powerful CEOs and moguls and what not who had invested in Digital Entertainment Network to his parties, at least per his rape victims: David Geffen, Michael Huffington, Bryan Singer and a bunch of other CEOS, gay chickenhawks. Then he would brutally rape the teenagers and force them to have sex with the CEOS, and the FBI, LAPD, and pretty much no one else besides the LA Times gave a damn. What the hell?

  23. J Sterling

    Oh no, the labor shortage!

    Labor Shortage Threatens to Bust the Shale Boom: “Labor scarcity can erode profit.”

    That’s so sad; let me weep a tear for profit-makers. Dude, it’s called the falling rate of profit, and it goes back to John Stuart Mill. But deeper in the article it appears the labor shortage is so “bad” that workers are taking courses in the middle of the night, on top of their day jobs, for the chance they might get the shale jobs. That doesn’t sound very labor-scarce to me, that sounds like labor is desperate.

    I remember when employers would take on workers and train them on the job, now that was what a “labor shortage” looked like. But seriously, whenever you see the phrase “labor shortage” used un-ironically, you know you’re reading a member of the asset-owning, labor-employing, rent-collecting minority class, or one of their supporters.

  24. J Sterling


    Oh no, the labor shortage!

    Labor Shortage Threatens to Bust the Shale Boom: “Labor scarcity can erode profit.”

    That’s so sad; let me weep a tear for profit-makers. Dude, it’s called the falling rate of profit, and it goes back to John Stuart Mill. But deeper in the article it appears the labor shortage is so “bad” that workers are taking courses in the middle of the night, on top of their day jobs, for the chance they might get the shale jobs. That doesn’t sound very labor-scarce to me, that sounds like labor is desperate.

    I remember when employers would take on workers and train them on the job, now that was what a “labor shortage” looked like. But seriously, whenever you see the phrase “labor shortage” used un-ironically, you know you’re reading a member of the asset-owning, labor-employing, rent-collecting minority class, or one of their supporters.

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