Links 4/21/14

Eco-terrorist sentenced to read Malcolm Gladwell Guardian (furzy mouse)

BREAKING NEWS: 16-year-old boy survives UNHARMED after flying from California to Hawaii in the wheel-well

Study casts doubt on climate benefit of biofuels from corn residue University of Nebraska–Lincoln

A Swarm of Tiny Ant-Sized Robots at Your Service New York Times (Robert M)

How Earbuds Have Changed The Sound (And Business) Of Pop Forbes

Man Compares His $42k Prosthetic Hand to a $50 3D Printed Cyborg Beast 3DPrint

Biotech’s Hard Bargain James Surowiecki, New Yorker. Surowiecki seldoms strays far from orthodox thinking, so this article is a sign that elite opinion is turning on the issue drug pricing.

Are Western Policies Evil or Desperate? Counterpunch (Carol B)

How Obama lost friends and influence in the Brics Financial Times

Obama is set to ‘rebalance’ ties with allies in Asia Politico

MH370 hunt ‘still drawing blank’ BBC

Sherpas Contemplate Strike Amid Disaster New York Times

China seizes Japanese cargo ship over pre-war debt BBC. This is a real stick in the eye to Japan.

China walks tightrope over exchange rate to fend off US wrath Nikkei

England’s Mean Unpleasant Land Counterpunch (Carol B)

Huge blaze blankets Leeds city centre in smoke Telegraph. :-(

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money Independent


Ukraine: The Bloody Eastern Escalation Moon of Alabama (barrisj)

Ukraine shootout threatens to bury Geneva peace deal Guardian

US to Deploy Troops in Poland Almanar. Reader Moss points out that this move hasn’t gotten much notice.

Why Putin Isn’t Scared by $115 Billion of Debt: Russia Credit Bloomberg

Unknown takes separatist spotlight in Ukraine DW

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

As we sweat the NSA, Google collects our personal data Guardian

FALLOUT: The Geopolitics of the Snowden Files by Adam Norris Los Angeles Review of Books

Elizabeth Warren book dishes on big Washington names Politico

Bankrupt City Fighting to Open a Crack in California’s Pension Agency New York Times

Tech Companies Adopt Astroturf to Get Their (Wicked) Way Truthout

You want a good internet economy with lots of jobs? Here’s How. Ian Welsh

Tech Giants Discussed Hiring, Say Documents Wall Street Journal

General Mills: About-Face Credit Slips. Mirabile dictu! Over the weekend, General Mills really did back down. For more detail: General Mills Reverses Itself on Consumers’ Right to Sue New York Times

After foreclosure crisis, renters suffer under Wall Street landlords Aljazeera (Chuck L)

Lane Kenworthy, Prosperity, and the Infinite Forms of “Redistribution” Angry Bear

Flash In the Pan: On ‘Flash Boys,’ Michael Lewis’s Baffling New Book Moe Tkacik, New York Observer

Is America An Oligarchy? John Cassidy, New Yorker. A useful reading of the much-discussed paper on the influence of the rich on policy.

Antidote du jour (Lance N):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. diptherio

    So I was at the Alternative Banking working group meeting yesterday and a couple of German filmmakers were there. They are going to be presenting Goldman Sachs with an “award” for unethical business behavior at 10:30 am this morning. I would be there if I could, but I can’t, so some of you all should go. Outside Goldman at 10:30, look for the Alternative Banking banner. These folks (Leslie and Lawrence, iirc) came all the way from Europe to deliver this award, which was voted on by internet denizens during the World Economic Forum in Davos.

    I hope some NCers can make it. Goldman Sucks, and they need to recognized (and ridiculed) for it.

    1. LucyLulu

      Unfortunately a little late and far to help out, but this is awesome. Hopefully somebody went and can post how it turned out. JPMorgan must have run a close second.

  2. dearieme

    “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise”: it’s long been my observation that the American idea of freedom of speech is very limited – it means something like “the federal government is constrained from restricting speech”. There wasn’t much freedom of speech for the chap fired by Mozilla the other day.

    And as for “freedom of association”: come now, that idea is just a historical relic, surely?

    Anyway, the question that matters is not whether the US exhibits some of the symptoms of an oligarchy – I’ll bet all countries do that – it’s whether the oligarchy provides competent government. It doesn’t seem to.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      As you suggest our ‘freedoms’ are at best limited freedoms represented on paper but falling short in actually. If money is speech, as the Supreme Court would have it then the speech of all but a very small number of Americans is extremely limited. I can complain to my friends in my own living room, seems to be about the extent of free speech, other than what can be expressed in blogs. Even complaining in blogs must be circumspect given that there might be an unintended audience listening in for reasons other than to engage in democratic debate.
      The paper referenced in the New Yorker article gets off to a peculiar start — a start is as far as I’ve got so far. The article makes the obligatory review of past work and interestingly cites Domhoff’s “Who Rules America” while at the same time citing Dahl’s study of local politics. Leaves one to wonder where the authors of the paper stand. Domhoff revisited Dahl’s study of the local politics of New Haven in his book “Who Really Rules? New Haven and Community Power Reexamined” and thoroughly contradicted Dahl’s conclusions. I suppose the authors just want to demonstrate that they work within a big tent.

      1. Danb

        Not to be a wise guy, but what you are describing is a standard -and academically obligatory- review of the literature. The authors clearly delineate competing models of political power and the policy-manking process and then indicate how they will test these competing models.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I couldn’t resist snark for uncalled for snark. My better angels deplore me.
          I suppose my writing is unclear. The paper cited in “Is America an Oligarchy?”: “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” contains a “standard and academically obligatory” – using your words to replace my previous construct “the obligatory review” – of prior art and literature citing the work of two remarkably contradictory authors. This is indeed a big tent, a very very big tent, for models of American Politics. After scanning the rest of the paper I decided I’ll take the results – Uncle Sam don’t listen to John Q – hardly news though interesting to hear this view from this source.

          As for the rest of the paper, and its study of the four families of theories and testing them, I’ll leave that to those more wise than I who can read a clear delineation of competing models into this paper and its results.

          And what about “whether the oligarchy provides competent government”? By way of apology for letting my views of Dahl and the breezy style of “Testing Theories …” draw discussion away from the point that began this thread: our current form of government provides anything but competent rule. I’m not beyond suggesting that our current government acts contrary to the long term interests of our Empire and country, contrary to the long term interests of those who rule, and most often contrary to the simple needs of us poor minions scrambling after what crumbs may fall to scatter us.

    2. Paul Tioxon

      Elizabeth Warren’s book in sneak peek at the Politico link provides an example of freedom of speech and association:
      “In April 2009, when Warren served on the Congressional Oversight Panel, she got a call from Obama’s National Economic Council director.

      By then, “Washington insiders” had already expressed surprise and even aggravation that the COP panel was just as critical of the new administration as it had been of the previous Bush White House, Warren writes.

      Warren and Summers met a the Bombay Club restaurant downtown, where she quickly “lost count of Larry’s Diet Cokes.”

      Summers’s message to Warren? “I could be an insider or I could be an outsider.”

      “Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them,” is how Warren summarizes Summers’s advice to her. “Insiders however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.”

      Warren adds: “I had been warned

      Read more:
      You can have freedom of speech at the expense of association with influential people who can make what you have to say more than peppy slogans of outrage or ringing calls to idealistic action.

  3. Brindle

    re: Elizabeth Warren Book..

    Sounds like she is not too fond of Geithner:

    —Geithner, Warren recalls, “explained with obvious pride that the car was bulletproof and that the driver and his partner were both highly trained and carried big guns. ‘We’re safe here,’ he said in a tone meant to end the conversation.’”

    Geithner did not respond to a request for comment.—

  4. p78

    Bankers win friends again in Europe with lure of easy money

    “Former Bank of France and IMF director Jacques de Larosiere […] runs a Paris-based think-tank called Eurofi where investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan pay for membership in part to interact with the officials and parliamentarians who decide the fate of their industry. […]
    Now he is proposing a scheme to securitize – repackage and sell to insurers, pension funds and […] the ECB – loans made in the go-go years that have turned into a dead weight on banks’ finances. The declared aim is to make it easier for the banks, once unburdened, to lend to credit-starved small and medium-sized companies. […]
    Last month, the European Commission said it would loosen the rules to make it easier for insurers and pension funds to invest in securitized debt. And the ECB is warming up to its use, accepting more such debt as security in return for credit. […]
    Insurers have 84 trillion euros of assets, while pension funds have 37 trillion euros […]
    He dipped a croissant in his coffee as he talked to Reuters.”

    1. William C

      I have met Jacques de la R., who is actually a charming and highly intelligent man. The idea does not in itself seem a bad one on the face of it, but perhaps I am missing something.

      1. Christopher D. Rogers

        I’ve not met Jacques personally yet, but please be warned, if you try and have an adult dialogue with these folks – be they central bankers, bankers, lawyers, accountants, or whatever, please be advised some may call you “bottom feeder”, or worse: a “whore” to the monied elite.

        Whilst it may not be true, some don’t like facts getting in the way of their personal prejudice, which is a shame, because how are you supposed to have a “grown-up dialogue” hiding behind a keyboard continually. Still, that’s the difference between working class and liberal types – the liberals and progressives always bolt for the exit at the fist sign of trouble and let us more common folk take the beatings – but, they are more left wing than us with our bloodied faces, and obviously fail to grasp Mao’s dictum that power really does come out of the barrel of a gun, or words to that effect!

        1. William C

          Well it was ten years ago, when the world seemed a different place and I am out of that world with no expectation of going back, so I am not worried about personal accusations.

          I only met him once for a couple of hours when he, my boss and a few of Jacque’s juniors had a business lunch. What impressed me about him was that apart from being obviously very bright, he was also very gracious, and though easily the most distinguished person there, addressed everyone (including the waiters) as equals and appeared genuinely interested in what everyone there had to say for themselves. He actually appeared to listen and give a respectful hearing even to a relatively lower form of life like me. I met quite a few people at that level during my career and few of them were as gracious.

          It would be interesting to hear him reflect on his career in retrospect now. It would not surprise me if he was like a top former World Bank man I spoke to a few years ago who looking back said, in effect, ‘we made a lot of mistakes’.

          I think Jacques had realised that if you are gracious to people and genuinely listen to them then you make a lot of friends and you open yourself up to a wider range of ideas.

          None of which is to question that he must have known how to be an ‘operator’ or he would not have got where he did.

  5. diptherio

    Prison Inmates to Strike in Alabama–Declare they are Running a “Slave Empire” ~Salon

    First you imprison (largely) poor and black men for the victimless crime of wanting to feel good. This reduces the unemployment rate by decreasing the “non-institutionalized population” (NIP). Then you make these “criminals” (ha!) work for free, which is “good for business” and also serves to deprive the non-incarcerated of jobs. This increases the unemployment rate, as members of the NIP have job opportunities taken away from them and given to unpaid prisoners. This, of course, is rather depressing and leads some people to turn to illicit substances to combat this depression. Then they get arrested for wanting to feel good, which again lowers the unemployment rate, and the cycle repeats…until every black man in the country is once again working for free. “History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.”

    Definition of a self-licking ice cream cone…

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      All of these prisons are staffed and managed by self-styled Defenders of Freedom and Justice. Oh, the irony of it all.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Just as Lambert has been saying …

    Georgia insurers received more than 220,000 applications for health coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s exchange as of the official federal deadline of March 31, state officials said Wednesday.

    Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, though, said premiums have been received for only 107,581 of those policies, which cover 149,465 people.

    “Many Georgians completed the application process by the deadline, but have yet to pay for the coverage,” Hudgens said in a statement Wednesday.


    It’s the end of open enrollment as we know it … and I feel fine!

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      The billing cycle lags the sign-up period by approximately a month. When I successfully applied (on the 15th of March), I was informed that my premium would not be due until the 19th of April (coverage began on April 1). Nonetheless, I paid immediately. I’d still rather get an invoice/bill before paying. OTOH, once the money is paid, it’s a done deal.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Sorry if this is a duplicate comment (my cable is iffy, at best, today)

      The billing cycle lags the sign-up period by approximately a month. When I successfully applied (on the 15th of March), I was informed that my premium would not be due until the 19th of April (coverage began on April 1). Nonetheless, I paid immediately. I’d still rather get an invoice/bill before paying. OTOH, once the money is paid, it’s a done deal.

    3. afisher

      An had you bothered to look at the sign-up DATE and when the premium was DUE – perhaps the door hitting your backside could have been avoided.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Me? No door hit me in the backside. If you weren’t addressing me, then never mind.

  7. OIFVet

    Re: US to Deploy Troops in Poland. There has been a long line of Baltics and “New” Europeans eagerly begging the US to occupy them, pardon me, to send troops to their territories. Their desire is to be lorded over by yet another colonial master, having discarded the old one and the EU proving to be insufficiently lordly for their servile tastes. One notable exception given the events of 1956 has been Hungary, which seems to be relishing its status of “New” Europe’s pariah and refused to condemn the annexation of Crimea.

    1. Vatch

      Interesting about Hungary. I wonder whether the presence of substantial numbers of ethnic Magyars in Romanian Transylvania and Serbian Vojvodina has anything to do with this? Are some Hungarians hoping that the Crimean events will set a precedent that might allow them to annex portions of Romania and Serbia some day?

      1. OIFVet

        I couldn’t say, Vatch. I rather think not, though in rejecting the condemnation of Russia the Hungarian representative did make some noises about former Hungarian territories with heavily ethnic Hungarian population in the very western tip of Ukraine. Still, I think it was just a matter of principle, and also about yanking the Europeans’ chain and exacting some payback for four years of condemnation by the eurocrats of the current ruling party, Fidesz. It is populist right wing nationalist and rejects ECB/IMF/Eurocratic economic diktats, plus it is socially conservative so it is not exactly welcoming to minorities and alternative lifestyles. Add it all up and the euros have been having a fit for the past four years while Fidesz remains popular (and arguably economically successful) and very recently won reelection. For Hungary it must have been great fun to poke the euros in the eye in regards to Russia. Mark my word, right wing european populism will only get stronger as the eurocrats continue to encroach on national sovereignty.

    2. Optimader

      RE: Hungary
      A bit of recent history….
      Amongst the EU member states, Hungary has one of the highest shares of natural gas in its energy mix for consumption, with around 38.30% (fourth, after the Netherlands, UK, and Italy). Furthermore Hungary imports around 70% of its natural gas consumption from one supplier, Russia. Parallel to its high dependency on imports, Hungary’s domestic production of natural gas has been decreasing continuously. The political dimension of gas security is highlighted by the fact that a majority of Hungarian households uses gas for heating. During the 2009 Russia-Ukraine gas dispute, Hungary has been one of the most affected EU countries in terms of supply shortfall. This increases the need to improve the security of gas supply for Hungary even more.

  8. tiger

    As an Israeli and Jew I find the Anthony shaker CounterPunch article (Are Western Policies Evil or Desperate?) To be one that is difficult yo support and divisive. While I agree with his thesis and even with some of the finger pointing at the Israeli government, the articles mentions my wonderful little country that o love way too much and thus reveals the author to be clearly anti Israel biased. Not a surprise given that he specializes in Islamic studies. He probably spends too much time with people who hate me. It’s too bad to see NC link to articles by persons who so clearly hold bigoted views against Jews and it’s even more sad because his arguments could easily have been made even if the hatred had been subtracted.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      The “hatred” between Muslims and Jews is a 20th century piece of political manipulation. Until then, the two religious groups managed to live in relative harmony (respect for “The People of The Book” is mandated in the Koran, if I am correctly informed). If I’m also not mistaken on a broader point, the history of hatred of the Jews (pogroms and such), was much more a “Christian” behavior (I’ve met several “Christians” — two from the Russian/Greek Orthodox churches — who were stunned to learn that Jesus was a Jew).

      Anyway, I wish both sides of this conflict would wise the F up.

    2. OIFVet

      Is that you, Bibi? I am trying to figure what what part of the article got you worked up and frankly I can’t find anything to merit indignation on the level that you display. Uri Avnery routinely publishes articles on CounterPunch that go far, far beyond the two instances of the word Zionist and calling Netanyahu “Bibi the bomber.” Truth can be offensive to some but the connection between our neocons and Zionism is undeniable, as is the many crimes committed by Israel’s government against Palestinians. I am someone who deplores all injustices against ethnic and religious groups, and my posts here indicate my support for Jews. That however does not give Israel carte blanche to engage in repression, discrimination, and murder. Get over yourself, or explain exactly what part of the article was so offensive toward Israel.

      1. tiger

        The proportion of Israel references vs the length of the article and the generalized nature of the article. It’s a very short general article yet israel is mentioned again and again even though the argument could have been made without mentioning israel at all. It screams of bias.

        1. OIFVet

          Israel is mentioned twice by my count, yet here you are claiming it is “mentioned again and again”, which tells me that any mention of Israel is objectionable to you. First of all your entire argument is a red herring, second it does not work that way bud, Israel does not have a free pass. What I find objectionable is that you claim to agree with the point of the article yet you slam it for mentioning Israel as if you believe that Israel either does not espouse the types of policies the article describes, or is otherwise always justified in having them. Either way your argument is extremely offensive and embraces the same kind of vile exceptionalism in respect to Israeli policies as is used in the US to justify our own policies. Why, do you think you are god’s chosen people or something? What a crock.

    3. Jim Haygood

      ‘…clearly anti Israel biased … persons who so clearly hold bigoted views against Jews …’

      Nice sleight of hand, conflating criticism of Israel with religious bigotry. Usually the intent behind this specious equation is to silence all criticism by indiscriminately labeling the critics as bigots.

      1. barrisj

        SOP for knee-jerk defenders of Israeli policy toward Palestinians…throw in some Holocaust references or “Never Again” and there you have it.

        1. tiger

          See this guy is a bigot. Cynically mocking and attempting to corner a Jew out of defending oneself. This is the issue with Israel. We got ourselves a country so that people will not hurt us on their land but now we are subject to political attacks which can be EITHER legitimate or illegitimate. The challenge for us Jews is to address the legitimate and bettering ourselves while still retaining the capacity to call out bigots

          1. OIFVet

            Describing the SOP is bigotry? Yeah, whatever. I am rather amused about your insistence that criticism of Israel can be either legitimate or illegitimate. Who gets to define the legitimacy of the argument, you? I am yet to see any criticism toward Israel be accepted as legitimate by your fellow likudniks or whatever other right wing faction you belong to.

          2. Hugh

            Your hasbara will find few friends here. Your own racism is breathtaking. Apparently per you, Israel only belongs to its Jewish citizens. At the same time that you argue that Jewish Israelis need their own state to prevent others from hurting them, you conveniently ignore Israeli’s brutal near 50 year occupation of the Palestinians. You also ignore that Jews live in countries like the US and Canada with little or no discrimination. Countries that define themselves by race or religion are inherently racist. This is the point you seemingly can’t face up to.

            1. tiger

              You’re an idiot. I went to school with Arabs and have had and still have arab friends here in canada. We are not racist ? You think exactly each Israeli is a racist ? I am not racist and neither are the vast majority of Israelis. We have not been subject to racist propaganda and this conflict is way more nuanced than bigots like you want to believe. We built our country BECAUSE of racism. Our country isn’t racism it’s the answer to it. But of course Jew haters like you would like nothing more than to destroy my country so that you can go back to picking on us in America Europe etc.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Ah, the good old pre-Neoliberalism days when people didn’t always want money for everything they did.

                Now we monetize everything.

                ‘I like your cat. How much do you want?’

    4. Kurt Sperry

      The deliberate conflation of disagreement with Israeli policies with ” bigoted views against Jews” is in no way a substantive refutation of those disagreements. Obviously. Here is the entirety of the article’s reference to Israel–

      “Is this how human rights and democracy are to be established in countries we claim to care about? Or, is this a useful instrument with which to demolish states that the governments of both the US and Israel feel are blocking their view of the glorious future awaiting us all under Israel-American “guidance.”

      Bibi Bombs

      What currently drives the United States is a cartoonish vision of the world at the intellectual level of Bibi the Bomber during his comical address at the UN. I say this because it has become amply clear the US is on a fast-track to the “dustbin of history” on this march, with lots of help from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and is in no position to dictate.

      American losses are piling up. The purpose of using Saudi-sponsored and Israeli advised armies of Wahhabi terrorists, most devastatingly in Syria, is not to build anything, but to pave the way for direct foreign control in an increasingly desperate situation for the Anglo-American alliance with Israel on nearly every front (geopolitical, diplomatic and economic).

      There is clearly *nothing* here ‘bigoted against Jews’, this is a simple criticism of policies. The categorical attempt to falsely portray and smear criticisms of Israeli policy as bigoted is a tiresome, disingenuous and intellectually bankrupt argument. And one that needs to be called out as such whenever it is employed.

      1. tiger

        Like I said to others I mostly agree with the content but the proportion of the article devoted to Israel unnecessarily is what reveals the anti jewish bias.

        The argument of bigotry certainly doesn’t refute arguments – agreed. But the antisemitism argument is not old and tired. It is overused and abused BUT it is not old and it will never be old. To tell an ethnic group to stop defending themselves against bigotry is, in and of itself, a threat to that ethnic group. So no we will not shy away from calling out bigots.
        I agree that pointimg a finger at israel is not antisemitic however any Disproportionate finger pointing at israel is in fact antisemitism (if it was premeditated, of course)

        1. Lambert Strether

          “Disproportionate.” An excellent weasel word that lets hasbarists deploy the full arsenal of sleazy tactics they always deploy; prominent among them the false charge of anti-semitism you deploy here. Nice try.

          1. tiger

            By using the word ‘hasbarists’ and labeling me with it. Lambert is doing two things that are stupid and offensive and dangerous. First he’s creating a box to put me in and then he puts me there.

            You can ask Yves to investigate however she likes – I have been around here since 2008 and am deeply interested in mortgages and have even joined the alt banking group thanks to Yves. Yet I am being treated as “just another” Israeli defender even though I have repeated that I agree with the criticism of israel in the piece.

            Lambert is the one who is suffering from cognitive dissonance not me.

          1. Optimader

            Zionists Offer a Military Alliance with Hitler

            It would be wishful thinking if it could be stated that the leaders of the Zionist movement sat back and ignored the plight of their dying brothers and sisters. Not only did they publicly refuse to assist in their rescue, but they actively participated with Hitler and the Nazi regime. Early in 1935, a passenger ship bound for Haifa in Palestine left the German port of Bremerhaven. Its stern bore the Hebrew letter for its name, “Tel Aviv”, while a swastika banner fluttered from the mast. And although the ship was Zionist owned, its captain was a National Socialist Party (Nazi) member. Many years later a traveler aboard the ship recalled this symbolic combination as a “metaphysical absurdity”. Absurd or not, this is but one vignette from a little-known chapter of history: The wide ranging collaboration between Zionism and Hitler’s Third Reich. In early January 1941 a small but important Zionist organization submitted a formal proposal to German diplomats in Beirut for a military-political alliance with wartime Germany. The offer was made by the radical underground “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”, better known as the Lehi or Stern Gang. Its leader, Avraham Stern, had recently broken with the radical nationalist “National Military Organization” (Irgun Zvai Leumi – Etzel) over the group’s attitude toward Britain, which had effectively banned further Jewish settlement of Palestine. Stern regarded Britain as the main enemy of Zionism.

            This remarkable proposal “for the solution of the Jewish question in Europe and the active participation on the NMO [Lehi] in the war on the side of Germany” is worth quoting at some length:…..

      2. tiger

        And by the way I otherwise loved the article. It was simple yet made an important point elegantly. I was struggling to like it. At one point I thought the israel arguments are not too much but then it just didn’t stop … What exactly did my country do that deserves such a prominent role in the article?

    5. McKillop

      Having read your comment, I read Mr. Shaker’s article to witness its validity.
      His criticism of Israel appeared to be more a reference to Netanyahu’s comments and recent Israeli policies and there was no statement expressing hatred of Jews is general or Jews specifically.
      Will I now be considered anti-Iraeli biased or bigoted with hatred towards Jews because I disagree with what you’ve claimed? It saddens me that people are represented now by those who misrepresent admirable traits for nefarious ends.

      1. tiger

        I mostly agree with the article’s content actually. My issue is the quantity of Israel references and the fact that the argument could even have been made without mentioning israel. And note that I am agreeing with the claim that my people influence policy via Washington lobbies in ways that are necessarily evil, something most of my friends and family won’t agree with and don’t understand. So no, I am not bibi as one poster suggested

  9. Eeyores enigma

    tiger – why do you think it is that you and others from your “wonderful little country that o love way too much” are ok with imprisoning and abusing all of Palestinians including women and children in an open air prison, deciding how much water and food they get, how much land they get (at an ever shrinking rate), and virtually every other aspect of their lives?

    1. tiger

      I do not agree with everything my government does and on top of that your question is a nit picking one. And arguably it is a hyperbole. So obviously I have nothing to answer here.

      1. Emma

        “The sadness of the world has different ways of getting to people, but it seems to succeed almost every time.” Celine

        Let’s all crack cheap jokes about Nazis instead. That’s all the Germans are from the dark side of the light bulb…..

      2. Lambert Strether

        Well, nothing except everything. Smarter trolls please. (I love the idea that you don’t have to answer anything that’s “arguable.” Apparently, the NC comment section is only useful insofar as it can be used to propagate hasbarist talking points which are, by definition, inarguable, being revealed truths.)

      3. jrs

        Well I agree with almost NOTHING “my” government does (perhaps beyond a few ameliorative social programs that basically maintain the system). Yes as you may have guessed, I am an American. But the question is not nit picking or hyperbole. If you were one of the victims of the Israeli government you would not think this way.

        Educate yourself, consider the fact that reports like this MAY contain some truth, and tell me it’s nitpicking and hyperbole:

        It might be a wonderful country to live in for you, you may love the people, the culture etc. and there may be much that is lovable about it. But you really should look at what the Isreali government is actually doing. You may have only so much control over this (hey I live in a country where Princeton studies tell me my opinion changes absolutely nothing) but nontheless you may as well look at what is going on.

        Anti-semitism is real, but criticism of Isreali is often well deserved and not anti-semitic at all, given the human rights abuses Isreal has engaged in.

        1. tiger

          Yes i Avoid screaming matches with idiots who don’t want to hear anything, while engaging when the comment is made by someone who seems to genuinely be interested in intellectual debate even if they disagree. You have some kind of problem with that approach?

    2. Lord Koos

      So it’s “nit picking” to mention government sponsored oppression of an ethnic minority?

      1. tiger

        I don’t think you understand. The poster was asking a question about something the israel government does. So??? Who says I speak for the Israeli government?, who says I agree with it or anything it does? I. Actually specifically said that I DO AGREE with the criticism of israel in the piece. It’s like I’m being attacked but people won’t even focus on what I said in the first place. Instead of addressing me You’re addressing a virtual Israeli that you have been thought to imagine. Talk to ME, not anyone imaginary.

  10. bob

    Friedman googling himself, or how he came to love the hypocrisy of knowledge-
    “I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load.”

    Does Mr. Block have any ideas on how Mr. Friedman gets paid to write? Maybe it’s because he can read an MRI?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I easily aced my computer programming class (and I was not rigorous in my thinking much), but could never get an A+ in any English course.

      So, I would like a more challenging load would be the exact opposite of what he said.

      1. bob

        There was no education in computer subjects when I was going through school. There was some, but it became very evident on the first day of class that they prof knew less than anyone else in the room.

    2. jrs

      I’ve heard being a paid NYT columnists indicates a lack of rigour in your thinking.

      Rigour in thinking has nothing to do with the topic one is thinking about. Gah this stuff is so basic just not apparently to NYTs columnists who degrade the quality of everyone’s thinking. A computer science major may indicate familiarity with certain types of mathematical problem solving, that’s all. And if you are after a real scientific background and experience doing science I’d go with an actual science, natural or physical, rather than computer science (said without disrespect to any major). Btw, companies that most people are never going to get a job in like google aside, who is to say most employers are really after rigour in thinking anyway? I’ve never seen much evidence of that.

      1. hunkerdown

        The computer scientist is also better equipped to deploy systems approaches to non-computing problems. The English major, on the other hand, has only the tools to persuade, not formulate.

        Which one do we need most right now? I get the sense that the English language on the whole prescribes, or at least encourages, a certain social order that is maladaptive for most of the currently most likely futures. Perhaps one ought to be majoring in Lojban instead (bonus: can probably get a minor in comp sci for nearly free).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think computer programming is kind of like writing…kind of, in a way.

          I mean, a good poem can make you cry, in the same tragic way, kind of like, a badly written computer program can too.

      2. allcoppedout

        Most people don’t do science well. I was near the top of the small group who could hack it. No doubt the rest of you sub-humans …. argh! The academically bright across all subjects show remarkable stupidity. We are as dumb on education as the Israeli who wants Israel just for the Jews. The average doughnut who appreciates Shakespeare or Goethe is less use to us than a decent plumber or someone looking after disabled kids. We all might benefit from education that didn’t rank us. One wonders how anything so beneficial has to be compulsory or have to make so many false promises that it will set you up as salaried-superior to others for the rest of your life.

        1. bob

          I was an early “computer guy”. BBS’s etc. I can and could code some, but never saw the longevity of it. Every job I ever interviewed for within the “computer” space was a project. The project being- write a program that does your job and allows us to fire you.

          Opted out early.

          Hey, Mr. Block, is this part of a PR offensive? Mr. Friedman- What is the best education for polishing a turd? Did you go straight down to the corner to turn tricks and then decide to slum it in the papers?

          No one wants this to go to trial-

  11. Eeyores enigma

    So we have the Princeton study and Piketty book documenting the fact that the 90% have no voice or power over their government, that we are not a democracy, something that has been lamented in countless op-ed pieces for a very long time and is now fact, and yet we still all just discuss it as if it is mildly interesting topic and maybe even debatable.

    This is nothing short of taxation without representation. Something that used to get the average American more than a little worked up.

    Oh well, everyone has to go to work in the morning so lets just shelve it for now.

        1. hunkerdown

          To the extent one needs a day job, anyway, which is partly driven by the custom to have certain accoutrements to prove one’s pedigree as a housebroken, neutered Good American who’s not bound to damage the good cheer by believing heresies. If one can do without those accoutrements and without those Good Americans, and interacts with like minds in the same structure of social economy to meet their other needs as insiders do to protect their fraudulent claims and reward one another, one doesn’t generally need to work all that much. (4/17/2014 Archdruid Report has a few comments touching on this, fwiw.)

      1. Ken Nari

        I’m hoping Yves,and Lambert realize MoA seems to be coming under DoS attacks lately, that they have been watching developments at MoA, and that they realize the first sign of coming trouble is a sudden increase of out-of-nowhere, provocative comments defending peripheral and imaginary slights. These then generate emotional, hate-fill comments — possibly from sock puppets — and then things spin out of control. This is not meant to criticize Bernhard at MoA, who has fought hard and well.

        As I heard someone say, “Who is the father of all these goddamned trolls?”

        Or better, as Condolezza Rice might say, whoever imagined someone recruiting all the trolls on the Internet to be cyber Blackwater mercenaries ?

        1. Cynthia

          What specific evidence do you have that DoS is conducting cyber attacks against Moon Of Alabama (MoA)? What has Bernhard specifically dug up and written about that has made him a target of these attacks? I can see how his criticism of US hegemony is strong and powerful enough to send the cyber spooks into attack mode, but the same thing can easily be said about Common Dreams or — or even Naked Capitalism for that matter. However, none of these sites are being targeted for attacks.

          I adore Bernhard and hate to see this happen to him. It broke my heart when he closed down his site several years back. It would be too much for me to bear if this time he closes it down for good. ;'(

          1. Yonatan

            The DDoS is directed at so any blog using Typepad, such as MoA, is affected. It looks like the DNS for MoA has been redirected to a parking page. Hopefully that is not permanent.

            1. Jim S

              SST was having problems earlier for the same reason. It might not be directed, but still imparts a sense of foreboding.

              1. Yonatan

                It is possible that the MoA blogger thought the DDos was directly explicitly at him and his site. I notice that the whois records show a change of registration today, and he has wisely used a domain privacy option to remove personal details (real address, phone number, direct email) from the registration.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Thanks to a poster over at Vineyard of the Saker, here is a URL to a bare bones version of Moon of Alabama. Comments are not activated, but the posts are there.

      The report is that typepad is having difficulties. Sic Semper Tyrannis was also affected, but last I looked is back up. Not so Moon of Alabama. Things that make you go, “Hmm”.

      1. Emma

        Easter’s ended but my Easter Bunny level of understanding is still here. I thought it was Uncle Wiggly with the Three Graces, or Goldilocks and the Three Musketeers.
        Thankfully the human race evolved over millions of years to present three Rush Limbaugh remakes and Rush Limbaugh III could point to ‘The Way Things Ought To Be’. So the antidote shows the enchanting sophistication of a Tea Party fundraiser with a new type of super-enemy – the March Hare and three Coca-Cola Bears.

    1. gordon

      Nothing new here. Mafiastan just amounts to turning the ME into a series of regimes similar to the Latin America of the 1950s – 1970s. The US is comfortable with that kind of thing. Batista’s Cuba or Somoza’s Nicaragua or post-Arbenz Guatemala or… are examples. Nothing new here.

      1. gordon

        If I felt like having a snark, I could say that the US ruling class is doing its best to turn the US into a Mafiastan too. Poetic justice?

  12. fresno dan

    Is America An Oligarchy?
    I wish it was an oligarchy – right now it is a criminal conspiracy.

    “A recent example is the failure to eliminate the “carried interest” deduction, which allows hedge-fund managers and leveraged-buyout tycoons to pay an artificially low tax rate on much of their income. In 2012, there was widespread outrage at the revelation that Mitt Romney, who made his fortune at the leveraged-buyout firm Bain Capital, paid less than fifteen per cent in federal income taxes. But the deduction hasn’t been eliminated. ”

    Getting back to inequality, it doesn’t matter if r > g because if I have to give up 30% of my puny income (and its funny how all the FICA taxes aren’t included in these discussions of what percentage of income is being paid) year after year, and Mittens only has to give up 15% of his ginormous income, …..well, who do you think is gonna have a lot more increasing wealth after 30 years???

    1. cwaltz

      Actually when they were comparing Romney’s tax rate it was FICA and Medicare taxes were mentioned by all but the people in the Romney camp. Then again the Romney camp was under the assumption that if you didn’t pay any federal taxes that you must be a taker despite the fact that those that make small amounts did the exact same thing he did to limit the taxes owed- took every deduction and credit available. It never seems to occur to the very rich that the reason that people who make $20,000 a year pay such a small amount is because THEY also get deductions and credits just like the very wealthy. it just so happens that their income is small enough that the deductions and credits zero out any taxes that would be owed. They could owe nothing as well, of course they have to give up the cushy six figure income for it to happen.

      1. jrs

        It is pretty much impossible to owe no taxes on a low income unless you have dependents. You won’t get any but a very but a very minimal earned income credit without them (and yes that’s a deduction that the poor get – they don’t actually get very many at all – very very few deductions apply to the poor). So it’s not enough to earn minimum wage to get out of taxes, maybe if you earn minimum wage and have several kids (that’s what the tax code rewards).

      2. jrs

        Look at the tax code and tell me how a single person earning 20k a year doesn’t pay federal income taxes. EEC? Yea but not enough to get out of taxes. Mortgage interest? Can’t afford a mortage most places earing 20k. Health care expenses? If your earning 20k you probably aren’t getting much healthcare period sad to say.

  13. Garrett Pace

    “You want a good internet economy with lots of jobs? [Break up google, apple, etc…]

    Remember that Google’s power lies in delivering eyeballs. Everyone who visits their website does so with some degree of agency.

    It’s not the stars, it’s us, passive creatures, that consumes whatever information is delivered to us most conveniently. We could destroy Google tomorrow if we wanted to, no intervention required.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Operating systems and search engines are like paved roads and traffic signal systems of the early 20th century.

      Except this time around, everything is privatized…actually, it was private from the start, so there was no need for privatization.

      No visionary leaders who might have said, ‘We need public information paved roads, and a standardized traffic signal system and rules of the road.’

      1. hunkerdown

        There were — the Constitution explicitly mentions designating post roads as a power of the Government — but modern political sensibilities consider strong, capricious middlemen the fundamental unit of society.

  14. montanamaven

    You should watch last night’s “The Good Wife” on a whistle blowing NSA guy who tells the law firm that the NSA is monitoring their phone calls and the Governor’s; and how they get his bosses in trouble. Well done.

    And thank goodness last night’s episode of Game of Thrones had the Mother of Dragons telling yet another region’s slaves “you have nothing to lose but your chains.” (Although major pogroms continue in the North.)

  15. Garrett Pace

    “Are western policies evil or desperate”

    When I see this kind of statement I stop reading:

    “Therefore, Western largesse to the dregs of Ukrainian society—ultra-nationalists with known links to Nazi proxy forces back in WWII”

    World War II, you say!

      1. Garrett Pace

        Well, Ukranians suffered a lot more than your average Russian in the war.

        But I’m not comfortable slurring Putin for what the USSR did in WWII, regardless of what he’s doing today.

  16. LizinOregon

    About China collecting that old debt from Japan – do you think they got the idea from the IRS?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More like from Capitalism 101.

      They want money for 2 leased ships, but nothing about millions of war dead.

      People…you always can have more. Ships…they are hard to replace; you need MONEY to build them.

      That’s Capitalism 101.

  17. sd

    Bubble watch…

    Medium sized house for sale (1650 sq ft), asking price is $669,000. Price in 2006 was $695,000. NAR says median income in the area is $92,000 however county data says it is $72,000 (there is a large gated community that skews income data).

    Where is the money coming from to buy houses these days?

    Meanwhile, same general area, very small crappy one bedroom apartment with new carpet and fresh paint for rent – $920 month. Should be $450 tops.

      1. sd

        Greater Los Angeles area. Pick any property off of Trulia or Zillow and you will find similar results. (I arbitrarily set the minimum price point at $500,000)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It was a long, long, long time ago that you would get a house that size for that price range in Beverly Hills though.

          Maybe that’s why what realtors say is true – you have to get in early.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            And it seems Americans trust their real estate agents more than, say, politicians, because they agree that real estate is the best place to invest, per Marketwatch today (and probably all over the mainstream media as well).

            Me? I never could pass my Critical Thinking 101 and have become suspicious, rather, just plain superstitious about putting money whenever can’t-lose genius bets appear in the world against dunce advices.

        2. CB

          I took a quick spin around LA in the early seventies and was shocked at the house prices. With no yard. Just small boxes built to each other and postage stamp grass plots. Looked like the back end of old Savannah with better construction and very slightly more grass.. (And, yes, I saw the back end of old Savannah, GA, when highway construction routed traffic thru that section, 1972. We were dumbfounded. We talked about it all the way to the dem presidential convention in Miami, which is why we were on the road in the first place.)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Where is the money to buy these houses?

      I don’t know. But LA Times seems to think student debt is holding back would-be homebuyers.

      Maybe that’s a good thing…saving many would-be, young underwater homeowners…and divorces.

      1. CB

        Good point, but I don’t know that they’re appreciative at the moment. Maybe later when the reality of end stage capitalism sinks to the place we believe.

  18. ewmayer

    Re. “Eco-terrorist sentenced to read Malcolm Gladwell” – Ah yes, Mr. Gladwell, he of the pop-maths bestseller fame and of the Igon Value problems. (And no, that’s not what you end up with when you kite a check to your favorite “domimatrix”.)

    A destructively immature eco-narcissist forced to read a pompous innumerate – there may be a weird kind of justice in that.

  19. Howard Beale IV

    The Top Spook’s stupid Gag Order, Jack Shafer, Reuters:

    “The nation’s top spy has prohibited all of his spies from talking with reporters about “intelligence-related information” unless officially authorized to speak. Intelligence Community Directive 119, signed by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper last month and made public Monday in a report by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, threatens to reduce the flow of information from the national security establishment to the press — and hence the public.

    As Aftergood notes, Directive 119 does not merely bar intelligence community employees from sharing classified intelligence information with reporters. It also bars the discussion with the media of unclassified intelligence information “related” to intelligence. Under Directive 119, any and all conversations between spooks and reporters not explicitly authorized by top officials will be criminalized at the worst or potentially put intelligence employees out of a job at the least. The same discussion of unclassified matters between an intelligence community employee and a non-reporter would be allowed, Aftergood further notes.”

  20. OIFVet

    So now it appears that Poland trained the Right Sector neo-nazis in skills that are essential if one wants to, say, overthrow a government: “According to this source, in September 2013, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski invited 86 members of the Right Sector (Sector Pravy), allegedly in the context of a university exchange program. In reality, the guests were not students, and many were over 40. Contrary to their official schedule, they did not go to the Warsaw University of Technology, but headed instead for the police training center in Legionowo, an hour’s drive from the capital. There, they received four weeks of intensive training in crowd management, person recognition, combat tactics, command skills, behavior in crisis situations, protection against gases used by police, erecting barricades, and especially shooting, including the handling of sniper rifles.”

    The article is based on information published by a leftist Polish weekly. Mr. Sikorski-Applebaum consorting with neo-nazis, wonder how the Jewish Mrs. Applebaum feels about that.

    1. skippy

      4 weeks – wow – look maw I’m a pro!

      To bad most that stuff goes right out the proverbial window once the clock is a tick’en, 6 mo is the baseline normative to cognitive [intuitive behavioral adaptive integration]. If the intel holds true their just chucking shit at the problem out of desperation or deluded in their capacity to effect change with pre packaged skill blocks.

      skippy… to many re runs of the matrix thingy.

  21. Boris Day

    Would you folks be able to do an article about Obamacare being designed to give large employers a legal excuse to lay off large numbers of workers (a RFOTA, or RFOA) and also to keep wages for low paid workers with sick children or spouse down. (if they make slightly more, their insurance costs skyrocket)

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