Links 4/2/14

Dear patient readers,

We are a little behind schedule today. We will have 5-10 more links up by 7:30 AM, as well as a post we’ve nearly completed, so e-mail readers should visit the site for the final version.

Disaster declared after Chile quake BBC

Vast hollow chamber within iconic Swiss mountain worries geologists PhysOrg (Robert M)

The Greatest Mass Extinction May Have Been the Doing of Microbes ScienceWorldReport (Ilargi)

History Unfolding Higher Education (Chuck L). Important

Carbon Delirium, The Last Stage of Fossil-Fuel Addiction and Its Hazardous Impact on American Foreign Policy Michael Klare, TomDispatch

What Kills The Economy Kills The Planet Kills Us Ilargi

The Absurdity of US Natural Gas Exports Our Finite World (bob)

Essay: The Real Competition to Virtual Currency Peter Eavis, New York Times. This is the sort of piece I wanted to write next on Bitcoin. Key issue: that Bitcoin promoters don’t care about the needs and preferences of real world customers. In other words, it doesn’t offer compelling advantages to users over the status quo.

Yuan mission accomplished for the PBOC? MacroBusiness

Tiger hunting on fiscal cliffs FT Alphaville. Argues anti-corruption drive is contractionary. I suppose that is why we are so much smarter here in the US and leave the crooks alone.

Combat-Ready China Military Seen as Xi’s Goal in Graft Battle Bloomberg

Euro-Zone Jobless Rate Stays High WSJ Economy

Dr. Draghi Prescribes a Dose of Deflation for Spain as his latest Quack Cure Bill Black

France’s New Prime Minister Faces Tricky Task WSJ MoneyBeat

Abbas Takes Defiant Step, and Mideast Talks Falter New York Times

BEIRUT: Lebanon moves to quell Syria spillover violence, sends army into Tripoli McClatchy DC (furzy mouse)


Ukraine crisis: NATO suspends cooperation with Moscow CNN

Ukraine Aims to Retrieve Crimea Through International Court Moscow Times

Why Did BRICS Back Russia on Crimea? The Diplomat (1 SK)

Gazprom uses gas to tighten noose on Ukraine Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Russian threat to retaliate over JPMorgan block Financial Times

Ukraine’s Unelected Government Imposes IMF Austerity Ian Welsh (Carol B)

How Crimea Hurts Russia OilPrice

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Senate Report Exposes Torture and Misrepresentations By CIA Officials . . . But Recommends No Prosecution Jonathan Turley (Chuck L)

Colorado Town Considers Letting Residents Shoot at Drones Bloomberg (Carol B). An update.

Obamacare Launch

Obamacare hits enrollment goal with 7.1 million sign-ups, President says CNN

Obamacare misses the target John Sunnunu, Boston Globe

Hobby Lobby invests in contraceptive, abortion drug manufacturers Daily Kos (Carol B)

Corporate Lobbyists Assail Tax Overhaul They Once Cheered New York Times. I never thought we’d get meaningful tax changes.

PG&E indicted on 12 charges in San Bruno blast case SFGate (Bill C)

The zombification of our neighborhoods – Florida communities top the top 10 list Bay (April Charney)

Goldman And SocGen Accused Of Defrauding Libya Out Of Billions With Derivatives During Gaddafi’s Reign Forbes (1 SK)

Clearstream Banking faces US criminal probe Financial Times. The criminal case the DoJ hinted at. Again, small fry, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bourse.

FBI Seeks Help From High-Frequency Traders to Find Abuses Bloomberg

Rate rise pattern is different this time Financial Times

Former McDonald’s Store Managers Say They Withheld Wages Bloomberg (furzy mouse). And these workers barely make any money to begin with.

Citigroup CEO Named To “Key Administration Post” Simon Johnson (Michael C). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (Tim F):


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  1. skippy


    WTF St. Louis Federal Reserve Fred Graph system was changed without even a warning and replaced with the Obama care sub-info-graphic substitute.

    1. abynormal

      i rec’d an email notice of changes for FRED graph interactions. of course this change lasted a week, before the ‘real’ changes…measuring the density of smoke.

      “At the crash of economic collapse of which the rumblings can already be heard, the sleeping soldiers of the proletariat will awake as at the fanfare of the Last Judgment and the corpses of the victims of the struggle will arise and demand an accounting from those who are loaded down with curses.”
      Karl Liebknecht

  2. gonzomarx

    Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy
    New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent

    “This production [of documents], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement … These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

      1. Klassy

        Yes, don’t you remember the widespread outrage in light of these revelations? (and the subsequent sweeping reforms?)

    1. Paul Tioxon

      You know, it’s not a “nation-state” without the force of violence to maintain its boarders from pressure on the outside and force of violence to quell the dissenting malcontents from within to dissolve the union. The structural integrity of the state is assured by the sword and shield of the national security apparatus, the army and the police, the yin and the yang of the republic. Get back to me with a was Marx right about the dissolution of the current social order into communism. And keep checking those Fred charts, and keep telling yourself they tell the rest of the story.

    2. participant-observer-observed

      Excellent interview about this also the other day on Democracy Now. One glaring question: if there was a terrorist bomb plot truly believed to be underway among the occupy activists, why weren’t the activists themselves warned about this threat to their life and limb by the authorities?

      This is a MUST SEE interview!

      Exclusive: NSA, FBI, DIA Sued over Refusal to Disclose U.S. Role in Imprisonment of Nelson Mandela
      Why Did FBI Monitor Occupy Houston, and Then Hide Sniper Plot Against Protest Leaders?
      Why Did the FBI Label Ryan Shapiro’s Dissertation on Animal Rights a Threat to National Security?

  3. milesc

    RE: Essay: The Real Competition to Virtual Currency Peter Eavis, New York Times. This is the sort of piece I wanted to write next on Bitcoin. Key issue: that Bitcoin promoters don’t care about the needs and preferences of real world customers.

    Before you write you piece, I would point out the essay takes an awfully narrow view of who “real world customers” are: “With minimal inconvenience, they can make secure noncash payments online and in stores, and they can do so around the world at any time. The existing system also allows people to store their money safely in insured banks, and those banks have the ability to create new money out of thin air when they lend to other consumers.” There are billions of people in this world that have no access to banking or credit. Take Africa, for example. Banks haven’t found a way to extract money from the general population so 80% of Africans are “unbanked”. Their needs and preferences are very different to peope living comfortably in the US. Look at the success of M-Pesa and consider whether the banking system works just fine for Africa’s “real world customers”. Bitcoin will go one step further (which is why integration with M-Pesa is already happening — look up Kipochi).

    While we’re at it, how did the banking system do for Snowden or Wikileaks? Yes, it blocked virtually all modes of donating. Personally, I wouldn’t anyway, but what a great way to ignore the needs and preferences of more “real world customers”.

    The Bitcoin experiment and its global scope necessarily means it is different things to different people, but I think it’s unfair to generalise.

    1. milesc

      Loosely related, yesterday it cost me £14.48 to receive £420 via PayPal (I sold an item on ebay). Nearly 3.5%!

  4. David Lentini

    History [Read: Naïveté] Unfolded

    How can any essay by a self-proclaimed Harvardian genius that includes the claim “As I mentioned last week, our foreign policy establishment is committed to a rather naive belief in the continuing, unstoppable spread of democracy” be important, other than to demonstrate that the writer is either delusional or a child? Apparently, our voracious reader of history, who knocks off treatise after treatise in his afternoons, can’t figure out that difference between rationalization and truth. Anyone who thinks that American foreign policy has ever been about “democracy”—as that word is properly defined as opposed to Orwellian propaganda—please contact me about a golden bridge in San Francisco I’d like to sell you.

    And likening the period of 1815–1860 to the Cold War is also just as absurd. A better thesis is that post-Napoleonic 19th Century in Europe was largely about political and domestic unrest on the Continent as the industrial revolution took hold there, leaving no country in a position to try to dominate any other. This suited Britain just fine. Instead the various powers dealt with their internal messes (leading to the unification of Germany and Italy) while adventuring overseas. In contrast, the Cold War was just that—two nations fully integrated and capable of regional domination squaring-off in a tense stalemate. How these are alike, especially in the way described in the ‘blog post, is beyond me.

    Please, some better links.

    1. Ulysses

      “Self-proclaimed Harvardian genius!” Yes… he couldn’t be any more full of himself without turning into a black hole. I’ll grant that he’s a competent researcher, but much of his work suffers badly from his disinclination to read carefully the work of other scholars.
      Here’s a typical reviewer’s comment on his “American Tragedy:”
      “Kaiser appears to see himself as a lonely voice in the wilderness standing forth boldly against the powerful forces of Eisenhower revisionism. He seems grandly unaware that, at least on Vietnam, Eisenhower revisionism has long been discredited.”

      Like many over-privileged folks, Kaiser is very often “grandly unaware” of the world existing beyond his monstrously inflated ego!

    2. Ed

      There are a few parellels between the position of Britain between 1815 and 1914, and that of the United States after 1945, but its easy to get over-carried away with them.

    3. Klassy

      Apparently, our voracious reader of history, who knocks off treatise after treatise in his afternoons, can’t figure out that difference between rationalization and truth.
      But that is kind of the whole point of Harvard, isn’t it?

    4. Bruno Marr

      …while I agree with your sentiments… the bridge in San Francisco (hometown) is not golden (International orange, actually). The Golden Gate is the watery gateway to the San Francisco Bay that the bridge spans. It is the noted structural elegance of that span that gives the bridge its attraction. It was never golden in color.


      1. ambrit

        I thought the term “Golden Gate” referred to the entrance to the Promised Land. Where the streets were paved with gold, (from Sutters Mill of course.) Somewhat like the Bosporus, which also separates two totally dissimilar lands and peoples.

  5. Brindle

    Re: “Citigroup CEO Named….”

    The shadow/tentacle of Robert Rubin is a 24/7 presence in the Obama administration.

    —“The crop of Obama administration picks who’ve spent time at Citi illustrates both how quickly the banking giant’s reputation has recovered in Washington since it was bailed out during the financial crisis, as well the enduring mark former Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin has left in Democratic economic circles.”—

    1. Milton

      About time for some “Pro-Democracy” demonstrators to surface on the streets in Santiago.

  6. Alan Honick

    I don’t know if you’ve already linked to some of these, but Peter Turchin has been making some interesting observations regarding Crimea and Ukraine in his blog. He brings an interesting viewpoint, being both Russian and and researcher who is studying history from an evolutionary perspective. Here are his relevant posts:

    1. Murky

      This is my first reading of Turchin, and I like his thinking. What strikes me is his departure from standard journalistic opinion about the crisis in Ukraine. He’s not interested in taking sides, neither with Ukraine, nor with Russia, or nor with the West. Instead his interest is in providing some quality of historical analysis.

      Turchin is a professor at the University of Connecticut, specializing in ecology and mathematics. What’s notable about Turchin is his application of evolutionary biology to the study of history. See the Wikipedia article on Turchin for details. He has successfully modeled long term historical processes using variables such as population density, social inequality, and militarism. As regards Ukraine here are his conclusions:

      1) “All Ukrainian politics is thoroughly dominated by billionaire oligarchs.”
      2) The Maidan uprising was supposedly about ending corrupt government and rule by oligarchs. But Turchin notes, “As far as I can see, there is no effort to curb the power of the oligarchs.”
      3) The only viable candidates for the May 25th 2014 Ukrainian Presidential Election are the oligarchs Tymoshenko and Poroshenko. Tymoshenko is known as the ‘gas princess’, after having made a billion dollars in the natural gas industry back in the 90’s. Poroshenko is the ‘chocolate king’, having made his fortune in the confectionery industry. Both have served in various government posts, and neither is fresh honest face that is likely to unwind the high levels of corruption in Ukraine.

      In short, Turchin looks upon Ukraine as a failed state ruled by oligarchs, and it’s not getting better any time soon.

      For people still holding on to some kind of optimism for Ukraine, there is a candidate for the Ukrainian presidency with exemplary credentials, Olha Bohomolets. Her chances of winning? Negligible.

      For comprehensive detail about oligarchy in Ukraine (a 100+ page academic study):

      1. Synopticist

        If you read the oil price link, you’d have realised that the RATING AGENCIES are going to get Putin. I’m sure the ruusskies are quaking in their fur lined boots at the thought of the scary rating agencies fighting them.

  7. YankeeFrank

    Now I’m no bitcoin enthusiast or whatever they call it, and I’m thoroughly agnostic on virtual currencies, but there were a number of whoppers in that dealbook piece that I just have to point out. First this:

    “As a consumer, not only am I using a real currency, I also have access to credit and access to a secure bank,” said Ed McLaughlin, chief emerging payments officer at MasterCard.”

    Access to credit? Secure banking? The vast majority of Americans don’t have access to credit, and if they do, its not credit that is worth its weight in feces. And the banks are only secure because the FDIC backs them using taxpayer dollars. Great solution there.

    Then there’s this one:

    ” And even if a virtual currency proves over time that its own system is secure, governments may demand wider types of compliance — to prevent abuses like money-laundering and fraud — that push up the costs of using it.”

    Yes, and the government and banks are doing a bang-up job preventing money laundering using the good old US dollar. Yeppers, they sure are.

    And then this:

    “The dollar is embedded in America’s democracy. That gives voters some say over the government entities that back, spend and print the nation’s currency.”

    If “some say” means “no say”, then I can get behind this statement.

    None of this means bitcoin is either useful or practical. But it does show that the current system leaves much to be desired, and its only natural for people to seek alternatives, however misguided they may wind up being. When the post office is suggesting offering credit to the poor at 38% APR, and that is a massive improvement over the current payday lenders roughly 400% APR, we have a long way to go before there is any equity or fairness in our current financial system. And the electronic payments system, ACH, is a dinosaur held together with scotch tape and spit. Its a sad fact that it takes 2-3 days for an ACH payment to clear, and if you’ve ever lost a payment in the ACH system you know that its almost impossible to figure out who dropped the ball and where your money is. Granted its rare enough, but it should never happen at all. I’m just lucky I only lost around $100 that time. And it should take 5 minutes for an ACH to clear. The fact that it doesn’t, and that the banks have no incentive to improve it, shows how little competition they face. And isn’t capitalism supposed to be about competition? I read that somewhere once.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      The criticisms leveled against bitcoin are simply hypocrisies voiced by those holding vast quantities of the even more dishonest and crime-enabling USD.

  8. craazyman

    that frog looks like an inter-dimensional space alien. it reminds me of “Blake’s Instructor” — an astral being who taught William Blake how to draw and paint.

    I’m not kidding. I almost think the frog could be related, maybe a cousin or a nephew.

    If you look carefully into the eyes of that frog you realize just how little you know about the universe. It’s scary.

      1. craazyman

        I live in New Yaaawwk. How the hell am I supposed to know the difference between a frog and a chameleon? I can tell a pidgeon from a sea gull at 50 feet.

        I bet that Matterhorn study is a hoax and a diversion. The hollow chamber is probably actually in Mt. Blanc and it’s probably where the Holy Grail is located. The Ark of the Covenant might be there too. You can’t believe everything you read especially when it’s on the internet. If you don’t have to pay to print, you can lower your standards.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Crazzie, one way to educate yourself is to eat lots of frogs, which you can get even in New York.

          After that, you can teach me, although I am not really in a hurry to learn. So, take your time.

        2. Kokuanani

          It’s a GECKO! Look at the “pads” on his/her feet: used for scaling walls.

          We have tons of them here in Hawaii.

  9. ep3

    Yves, I want to deviate a little from any topics you have above and relay an “on the grounds” account of something.
    What I want to cover is the roads in Michigan. Because everyone says the roads stink. But I want to share what I see as contributing factors to their condition because no one talks about WHY. First, obviously, we have significant changes in seasons. From 100 degrees in summer to near record cold this last winter (-40 with wind chill). Or, like 2 years ago, we had 2 weeks of 85 degree weather in march where the temperature went from 20 degrees (all in Fahrenheit) to 85 back to 20. That causes the ground to shift and break up the roads. Second, the snow and ice bring out the salt trucks, which add to the breakup as they plow the roads and add salt to “raise” the road temperature. So already damaged spots have chemical changes which weaken their integrity. And so average traffic wears on edges and breaks them up.
    The final reason I want to bring up is the one I feel that’s the most important yet the least talked about. Once a section of road becomes so far destroyed that filling in potholes is pointless, a decision is made to strip the asphalt/concrete down to dirt, build a new foundation and then lay down brand new road. This project can take a whole summer. When done, the new road will last years and will not need repairs, only simple maintenance. But what happens is that within periods sometimes less than 6 months after laying this new road, other entities (cities, public utilities, those that have infrastructure below our roads) will find some reason to cut holes in the roads to dig down to do their repairs and then they “repair” the road with different asphalt. This guarantees future potholes, as the repaired spot is never bonded with the other material and is always uneven and fixed sloppily. When you drive over the repaired spot, your vehicle reacts to going over an uneven surface. They usually cut squares in the road so that when they repair them, your vehicle encounters the sharp bump of that sharp edge. All that money spent rebuilding the road is wasted. Our potholes come directly from these “repairs”. The repair material is inferior and the repair job is done poorly. The ground below is not properly prepared like the rest of the road and this results in “heaving” underneath this weakened spot, which weakens the patch. And as I said, your vehicle “impacts” these repaired spots, thus increasing the degradation of the repair.
    I could go on. But something needs to be done to remedy our roads. And our media does not point blame, they only encourage more money to be thrown at a losing battle.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      So I guess if I’m driving a Chevy Cobalt, I should stay off the roads in MICHIGAN.

      Isn’t that the state that GM built?


    2. bob

      A lot of “roads” in the US, especially in rural or suburban areas were never built properly. They paved over whatever was there before, there is no “base”, and very little thought about drainage.

      The repairs drive me nuts. I used to work with paving crews a lot. There is no substitiue for a full asphalt paving. The mat that the giant paving machine puts down is far superior to any “patch”. The patch material, while it might technically be the same spec, is not the same. It usually comes out of a batch plant where quality control is difficult.

      When a road is truly paved, it’s done with extremely homologous material. They mix the entire days haul of asphalt, then draw it out of silos for delivery to the job site.

      I always spoke to city/town/state authorites about their “cut fees”. Most muni’s allow the cut, but require a permit, payment, and adherence to patching. But, a gas line crew is not a paving crew. There also isn’t someone from the muni always availible to make sure that the patch was done properly. And once the black side is up, all sins are covered.

      Muni’s should charge a TON more for cuts. Part of the cut fee should go toward a full width paving fund. What the cuts leave behind is not equilavent to what they destroyed, even if it’s done completely properly. It’s not a mat.

      In one of the worst instances I saw, I was working on the tail end of a 2 year project paving it. Gas, telephone, all of the utility companies were notified 2 years before the start of the project that it was happening, and that if you needed to get under the road, it was a good time to do it.

      Gas company truck shows up with a backhoe one hour after we paved a section. No one noticed, but they just started digging. Finally one of the guys asked why the road was so soft. “this is easy digging!” I wanted to toss him into the hopper.

      Another good story was when we added 3 inches to a road. 3 inches. The first tractor trailer to run down the road clipped off nearly half of the telephone lines on the road. Phone company was, again, given ample opportunity to raise these lines before we arrived, plus a phone call from me when I got there about how I thought a lot of the lines were low. “Don’t worry about it!”

  10. David Lentini

    Yves, and Lambert—Any intention of covering the Common Core issue? This is shaping up to be a coporatist take-over of public education.

      1. bob

        I’m very glad she came to town. Sharon Contraras, Broad Foundation “graduate” is the current superintendent-

        She couldn’t do a better job at destroying what was left of the district if she tried. I think she is trying. Race baiting is her go to move, as well as stacking board of education meetings with her supporters, hours before the meetings start.

        The local union is on her payroll too. Most of the younger teachers are all fired, then have to re-apply every year.

        But why is she doing this? She’s even built a hardened bunker for her and her growing C-level $150k+ admins.

        If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and gets paid by Eli Broad, it’s probably a charter school tool.

  11. ambrit

    Friends; In reference to the Zombie Neighbourhoods article, I read the captions in the graphic at the tail end of the piece.
    Under the Kill Solution it gives a quote from a “Harvard sponsored study” about Cleveland that reads in part; “..demolition will likely remain the dominant means of blight removal and market stabilization.” Market stabilization!? Nothing about all the homeless, and those impoverished by inflated and excessive rents. Said excess a direct result of rent seeking driven “market stabilization.” I would comment about how this is a sign of “responsible parties” having their heads up their a—s. However, I see that this is impossible as they are already being vigourously buggered by the Financials.

    1. McMike

      Never understood why more neighborhood associations don’t go commando and start maintaining the zombie homes (minimal basic) themselves, encourage structured squatting, and other guerrilla moves like adverse possession actions.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I’ve always found it kinda interesting how this works.

      Late on your mortgage payment? Pay a late charge to the “owner.” Need approval for a short sale? Ask the “owner.” Homeowners Insurance is required by the “owner.” OK, no problem.

      But–property taxes not being paid? We can’t find the “owner.” Property unoccupied and in disrepair and dragging neighbors’ property values down? It’s “often difficult” to “track down” the “owner.”

      Communities should prohibit even a “whiff” of foreclosure by the “owner” until that “owner” definitively identifies itself, and reaffirms its responsibilities for the property in accordance with community standards.

      It’s pretty simple. The “owner” must notify local authorities of any intention to initiate foreclosure BEFORE it does anything so that those authorities know whom they need to bill, sue and/or hold responsible.

      Then charge them BIG TIME until they sell the property to someone who will occupy it.

  12. McMike

    Re Zombie homes.

    So.. on the one hand, we have banks sitting on tens of thousands of empty homes, keeping them off the market to keep prices up and keep their balance sheets clean and protect their CDOs from collapsing I suppose, but maybe also to keep inventory down to reduce options for underwater homeowners perhaps?

    On the other hand, we have PE’s buying up homes to rent them back to the suckers and package the deals off to bigger suckers. They would like low prices initially, but then tight inventory later to drive rents up.

    Oh what a tangled web…

    1. abynormal

      Colorado marijuana sales more than $3.5M in January

      Florida: On Wednesday, March 5, 2014, HB 1039 had its first reading in the Florida House and is now in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee for review. Democratic Florida House Representative Randolph Bracy went all out with the introduction of this bill to fully re-legalize the use of marijuana for any purpose – with some strings attached. HB 1039 would allow the recreational use of marijuana for those over 21 years of age in Florida and would also re-legalize marijuana related accessories legal for sale such as pipes and bongs.

      The bill is one of at least four in the Florida legislature, not including the initiative which is set to be on the ballot this November for voters to legalize cannabis use for medical purposes. This is quite a reversal when just last year such a bill would never see the light of day. That changed last year once state politicians saw the writing on the wall – and poll numbers showing Floridians overwhelmingly favor legalization of marijuana.

      (FL desperately needs a replacement for that long forgottenTourist industry)

  13. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Hobby Lobby invests in contraceptive, abortion drug manufacturers Daily Kos

    Damn! I hate articles like this. The smug, self-aggrandizing, “TA-DA, look what WE found” kinds of articles. The Kos is on the case kinds of articles. As if anyone would have expected anything different.

    The Greens are conservative religious fanatics. In that capacity, they are “committed” to one thing only–a biblically-inspired notion of superiority based on human biology. The biological control provided by freely-available, individually-determined abortion severely erodes the exercise of that essential control.

    The philosophical “inconsistencies” noted in this article are not inconsistent at all. The Green’s legal challenge is most likely one of those “case-shopping” exercises that have become all too familiar lately. Unable to outright abolish abortion, opponents have taken to nibbling around the edges. To finding believers willing to do their part to make things just a little bit harder. The “death by a thousand cuts” approach. The Greens are, apparently, happy to oblige.

    Inability to exercise a right is just as good as abolishing it altogether.

    That the Greens, or any of the other belligerent religious fanatics at work in this country today have a deeply-held reverence for “life” is just a gross, demented joke. Kind of like those “religious” manufacturers of military rifle sights inscribed with bible verses. THAT is the inconsistency that Kos should trumpet–again and again.

    All this sanctimonious reverence for “life” that’s been rearing it’s angelic head lately sure hasn’t done much to help Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians or Americans. You know, the already-born kind. And it wouldn’t surprise me to find that the Greens want to abolish SNAP, or own a few shares of stock in a military assault rifle maker either.

    1. abynormal

      “After listening to Rick Santorum, I’m now for late-term abortions (say up to age 53).”
      Quentin R. Bufogle (i find Quentin short-sited…my list is ongoing)

      1. ambrit

        Don’t forget the Phillip K Dick story where abortion was declared legal by the SCOTUS up until the “fetus” learns algebra.

    2. Vatch

      The owners of Hobby Lobby are odious, but this might have been an April Fools article. It’s hard to be certain, since genuine news sometimes comes out on the first of April.

      1. optimader

        I wont be reading the article, but presumably they have money in diversified funds that have investments in everything from bullets to condoms.

        1. Garrett Pace

          This is something that’s been on my mind. Buying in a fund is basically an investment in western civilization, and all the objectionable baggage that goes along with it.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I have felt that way a little when contemplating saving for the second half-century of life.

            Holding imperial fiat currency (cash) implies faith in its sovereign similarly, with Damocle’s sword of unlimited new money hanging over, when a rich guy robs a serf, and instead of going after the rich guy, the sovereign issues new money, so everyone can forget the unpleasantness, and more robbers can join the party.

    3. allcoppedout

      Not sure I understood any of that Kat, yet feel in complete agreement. It’s a bit like those people who would stick an ice-pick in a smoker’s back but appease Nazis. Brillinatly constructed form.

  14. KGilmour

    As a member of the disgruntled 60% who float between left and right – I wonder who can garner majority support after the Big O betrayal.

    Let’s face it. A vote for O was little more than date rape. No matter how much I hated Bush/Cheney, the Obomney betrayal was more heinous, because of expectations. I knew Bush was a poseur and a monster. O played me. Big time.

    He could have redeemed himself and the office by jailing some high profile wolves. But he was a tool in black face.
    Don’t get huffy readers… there is no polite way to describe his insertion into the process by the same 1% who gave us Bush, Clinton, and the rest of the dung heap.

    What we need now is a good hangin judge. Americans left and right are yearning for street justice. I have Tea Party relatives. They HATE multi nationals – want a Teddy; Roosevelt Republican to sweep in and impose tariffs on overseas manufacturing and a heavy hand on banksters and Wall St.

    Left and right have never been more aligned in what they abhor. Forget the cultural wars… left and right are both savvy to the game being played on em using religion, sexuality and xenophobia. Those are our differences… our similarities are hating the creeps who keep stirring those pots and keeping us poor while the 1% garner more and more of the worlds wealth.

    The French learned what happens when the middle class goes hungry along with the peasantry. It gets very very ugly. Vertical deportations in the Loire. Portable guillotines in the streets.

    sound extreme? Yes, but events insure that it will be extreme. A Mcmansion in leafy Connecticut [like perfume in 1793 Paris] could be enough to damn trophy wives along with their gangster husbands.

    My observations are from the center. I have family and friends on extreme left and right. They all hate Wall St. they all hate multi nationals. They all hate the banks.

    They all hate the front runners in their respective ‘parties’. AND they all know both parties are shoveling sht. as fast as they can before the mid terms.

    1. Jess

      If you want a fictional look at how street justice might morph into genuine Constitutional reform why don’t you check out the reviews for my novel, Public Enemies, available on Amazon. (Yeah, I know, Amazon, but if even if you have a major publisher, if you want your book to sell it has to be on Amazon.)

    2. optimader

      “…Let’s face it. A vote for O was little more than date rape. No matter how much I hated Bush/Cheney, the Obomney betrayal was more heinous, because of expectations. I knew Bush was a poseur and a monster. O played me. Big time…”

      No criticism of your lizard brain revulsion of BHO, but wow, what a case study for how unremarkable the candidacy of The Quitter and Whazhizname–Grumpy Old Guy in a Bath Robe, and the follow on tag team: The MORmON and his dog Paddlefoot were.

      Certainly by the BHO second term election cycle, B/C were as irrelevant as last weeks paper the fish was wrapped in.

      Bush/Cheney deserve revulsion, but they were not candidates in either race against BHO.

    3. David G. Mills

      You got played but some of us were quite skeptical. Lawyers can pretty much figure out another lawyer’s game. BO was not a litigator. He was a community organizer. You don’t have to stand much ground being a community organizer. Same with the Clintons. They don’t understand that every once in a while you have to go get in a fight and take whatever lumps come your way. Otherwise it is just an exercise in giving away the farm in slow motion.

    1. diptherio

      If the author would condense his points down a bit and present them as a two-minute Youtube video, I think they would get a lot more attention.

      1. Ulysses

        I can boil down the three “points” he makes without spilling too much ink: 1)More elitism is the solution for what ails us: ” We need men and women at the head of our institutions who can think both historically and on behalf of our whole society.” 2)The best place to look for these wise, elite statesmen is of course that most perfectly meritocratic of all human institutions, Harvard, where, btw, he got in, not because he was the son of a wealthy diplomat, but because he had “demonstrated substantial intellectual ability.” 3) Putin is definitely more of a big ol’ meanie than even Bismarck. How does he know this important fact with such certitude? See points 1 & 2!!

  15. Vatch

    The U.S. Supreme Court has removed some limitations on the amounts that the rich can donate to politicians and their campaigns. A continuation of the notion that money is speech. There’s less linguistic nonsense in the works of Lewis Carroll! Two of the many articles emerging about this foolishness:

    1. abynormal

      “When the [Supreme] Court moved to Washington in 1800, it was provided with no books, which probably accounts for the high quality of early [and present] opinions.”
      Robert H. Jackson

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Just saw this – The Court extends its Citizens United ruling. The news is everywhere so I won’t provide a link.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Instead of forward progress, we seem to be going backwards – the same thing we saw with money printing/more money in the system, after 2007, with most of the subsequent growth going to the 0.01% – thus the backwardness – instead of a wealth tax, so money could really ‘trickle down at the speed of light’ (or as fast as it took to sign the legislation) from the top to the bottom, without draining money from the system (this last bit is for the MMTers).

      ‘We may not be progressing, but we are consistent!’

    2. David G. Mills

      It is just the Supreme Court’s recognition that if you want to buy a politician, they cost money these days. In the old days they were much cheaper.

    3. MikeNY

      Wow. There are three possible explanations:

      1. The really do exist in THAT big a bubble.
      2. They, like Congress, are bought and paid for.
      3. They have a fetish for heads dangling from lamp posts.

  17. fresno dan

    Senate Report Exposes Torture and Misrepresentations By CIA Officials . . . But Recommends No Prosecution Jonathan Turley (Chuck L)

    “Though the White House denied the stories, Obama later gave his controversial speech at the CIA headquarters and did precisely that. In the speech, he effectively embraced the defense of befehl ist befehl (“an order is an order”) and, in so doing, eviscerated one of the most important of the Nuremburg principles. Obama assured the CIA that employees would not be prosecuted for carrying out orders by superiors. This was later affirmed by Holder’s Justice Department, which decided that employees carrying out torture were protected because they followed orders.”

    Well, good to see ever expanding and novel rationales for not prosecuting criminals. This has history, so even more ironic than not prosecuting financial crimes “because the economy…”
    How long before we get a presidential address:
    This constitution thing, it just hinders us from protecting you from terrorism…and people who want to weaken our shadow banking system. We’ve had 40 years of stagnant middle class income, and declining blue collar wages. GDP has increase 40% but 95% of the wealth has gone to the 0.01% – this is a good and necessary thing….because markets! Or I need someone with big bucks to pay for my campaign. We really can’t imperil that with this “no one is above the law” or “equal justice under law.” Don’t you people get it? The rich are so, sooooo, much better than you. I’ve been on my knees kissing their butts, and it is true – the stars shine from their ass.

    1. optimader

      Through the Babel Fish interpreter-> “Misrepresentation” = fancier version of “Misled” which is a corruption of the word “Lie” when by uttered by someone of “more equal” status.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Xi’s Graft Battle.

    Signs are emerging that Xi’s anti-corruption campaign could be creating a backlash among former leaders.

    Former Presidents Jiang and Hu Jintao warned Xi not to expand his anti-corruption drive too far, the Financial Times reported yesterday, citing three people familiar with the matter. Further escalation of the campaign could hurt their interests, the paper said.


    I hope he succeeds.

    Then, he will have the Chinese president making, say, clean, uncorrupt $100,000 a year, and those lower, in government, the party or military, making less, but honey money, while private sector billionaires run rampant.

    I don’t see how that is any improvement.

    They need wealth equality as much as we do here.

    In any case, that’s looking down the road. Right now, I am not sure how far he can proceed, without risking coup or army revolt.

  19. Klassy

    re: Simon Johnson
    Whoa! O’s going big: An executive order to create “a new President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans”.
    And the CEO of Citigroup will be heading it! This will definitely cement his legacy.

    1. bob

      “President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans”

      Best argument for government funded abortions ever.

  20. Hugh

    “FBI Seeks Help From High-Frequency Traders to Find Abuses” This headline reads like something from The Onion. In other news, the FBI is asking any uncaught bank robbers for their help in improving bank security. It is also looking for similar vulpine input on henhouses.

    Some might say that this is a case of “set a dog, to catch a dog.” But it is rather important to first make sure the dog you are setting is not the one you want to catch.

    “Senate Report Exposes Torture and Misrepresentations By CIA Officials . . . But Recommends No Prosecution” This is another joke headline. It is rather a common occurrence for official reports to uncover in scathing tones serious wrongdoing and then recommend no criminal action against the perpetrators. If you look at the reports for the PR exercises in damage control that they are, this makes perfect sense.

    Speaking of kabuki, “Abbas Takes Defiant Step, and Mideast Talks Falter”. How can something stillborn falter?

    1. participant-observer-observed

      “Some might say that this is a case of “set a dog, to catch a dog.” But it is rather important to first make sure the dog you are setting is not the one you want to catch.”

      It is also a clear case of “the tail wagging the dog,” showing who really pulls the marionette strings on DOJ et al. (hint: it is not POTUS!)

    2. optimader

      “FBI Seeks Help From High-Frequency Traders to Find Abuses”

      Actually the FBI has a reputation for being lazy prima donnas, having others do the heavylifting and then stepping in for creds. why should this be different.

  21. notexactlyhuman

    What have we done?!

    “These many years later it should matter to us that we were told about fake atrocities that researchers were unable to ever find, any more than anyone could ever find the weapons in Iraq, or the evidence of plans to slaughter civilians in Benghazi, or the evidence of Syrian chemical weapons use. We’re being told that Russian troops are massing on the border of Ukraine with genocidal intentions. But when people look for those troops they can’t find them. We should be prepared to consider what that might mean.”

    “The country’s Interior Ministry declared a month of volunteer surrender of firearms in March, extended on Monday for another month. Kiev believes that disarming Ukrainians will help to halt the threat of violence that has risen with the formation of self-defense groups.”

  22. notexactlyhuman

    “over the weekend the US sent 300,000 food rations as aid to the Ukrainian military.

    The rations, called MREs for ready-to-eat meals, began rolling into Kiev over the weekend, and before the last of the shipments had even entered the country, enterprising Ukrainians had started selling the food packets on the black market.over the weekend the US sent 300,000 food rations as aid to the Ukrainian military.

    The rations, called MREs for ready-to-eat meals, began rolling into Kiev over the weekend, and before the last of the shipments had even entered the country, enterprising Ukrainians had started selling the food packets on the black market.”

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