Links 4/26/14

New Quantum Theory Could Explain the Flow of Time Wired

How farmers took over the world: Hunter-gatherers fell for their agricultural rivals, new DNA study finds Daily Mail

MERS spread by travellers ‘very likely,’ WHO warns CBC

Frustrations of the Heterodox Paul Krugman, Times. “What happened instead was a failure of real-world observation — failure to notice the rising importance of shadow banking.” So that’s alright, then. And another man’s doxy.

Lessons from a rock-star economist FT. The Piketty moment continues.

If the Techtopus wage theft suit proves anything, it’s that the philosophy that built the Valley is no more Pando Daily

The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Trust, It’s About Desperation New York. Again, renting your stuff isn’t sharing. It’s renting.

Stop Sacrificing Sherpas The Editors, Bloomberg. How about Walmart workers?

Obama and Abe fail to reach trade deal FT

Pritzker Says Deal Close on Pacific-Trade Agreement (Transcript) Bloomberg

What’s behind these fracturing countries? Stalled economies Globe and Mail


Kerry Lies, Repeats Debunked State Department Claim Moon of Alabama. Fakery as bad as Bush’s WMDs; worse, if you remember Russia actually has WMDs.

Military tension builds in Ukraine McClatchy

Ukraine: pro-Russian separatists hold European military observers captive Guardian

Ukraine crisis: Russia warns Kyiv will pay for ‘anti-terror’ campaign Al Jazeera

Exclusive: Putin Halts All Talks With White House Daily Beast. Kerry: “I’ve had 6 conversations with Lavrov in the last few weeks. The last one was Kafka-esque… It was bizarre.” Uh thanks that was great.

Putin calls internet a ‘CIA project’ renewing fears of web breakup Guardian

Politics is about to destroy the internet Vox

NetMundial Smári McCarthy

I’m Shocked, Shocked! Baseline Scenario. Flexians in the FCC and cable.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Phone Company Bid to Keep Data From N.S.A. Is Rejected Times

John Oliver to Interview Former NSA Director in HBO Debut Hollywood Reporter. Comedy tonight!

Germany downplays hopes of fast end to NSA tension AP

Passover Greetings from the Editor The Intercept. #JustSaying.

WATCH: Hillary Clinton Blasts Edward Snowden for Fleeing to Russia and China Mother Jones. Liz?

2016: A Bush-Clinton rematch? CNN. The horse race makes me want to claw out my eyeballs.

5 Reasons Hillary Clinton Shouldn’t Worry Too Much About Elizabeth Warren National Journal

Who Will Win The Senate? Times. Memo to Nate: Nobody’s essential.

‘Rahm will look good’: Emails show how CNN producers worked with Chicago mayor’s office to portray him as a ‘star’ of documentary series Daily Mail


House to reconsider failed ObamaCare fix The Hill.

Democrats race to embrace Obamacare in Pennsylvania primary Politico. Harris Wofford.

More Evidence That Republicans Are Abandoning Obamacare Repeal  New Republic

What Obamacare? Meet 4 People Choosing To Remain Uninsured KHN

Texas family plagued with ailments gets $3M in 1st-of-its-kind fracking judgment CNN

Ohio Geologists Link Earthquakes to Fracking, State Introduces Seismic Monitoring DeSmogBlog

‘Straight from the Horse’s Mouth’: Former Oil Exec Says Fracking Not Safe Common Dreams

A battle is looming over renewable energy, and fossil fuel interests are losing WaPo

25 Dead Cats Found Hanging in Yonkers Trees Times. Yikes.

The Utopian Origins of Restroom Symbols Atlantic

Study: Home Rotisseries Only American Technological Field Still Advancing The Onion

Sabotage (Former U.S. Government Secret Manual) Another Word For It

Decision accuracy in complex environments is often maximized by small group sizes (abstract) Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. abynormal

    hanging cats from trees: Lieutenant McCormack said, concerned residents had asked if there was any ritualistic element to the murders. Other than the care taken to hang the remains, he said, the **killings did not appear to be ritualistic**.

    i got your ‘ritual’:
    Patrick Sherrill, who killed 14 coworkers at a post office and then shot himself, had a history of stealing local pets and allowing his own dog to attack and mutilate them.

    Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped, stabbed, and mutilated a 7-year-old boy, had been widely known in his neighborhood as the man who put firecrackers in dogs’ rectums and strung up cats.

    Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer had impaled dogs’ heads, frogs, and cats on sticks.

    Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a San Diego school, killing two children and injuring nine others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often by setting their tails on fire.
    and on and on

      1. sufferin' succotash

        Hmm. The massacred cats in Darnton’s essay were (in his interpretation) victims of a kind of 18th century class warfare. Les chats belonged to an employer who was so hated by his employees that they got back at him by killing his wife’s pets, What’s going on with our animal torturers/killers? Can’t help being reminded of a certain US President who had loads of fun blowing up frogs with firecrackers,

        1. Vatch

          The young George W. Bush was pioneering enhanced interrogation techniques with those frogs. I don’t know whether any of the frogs ever talked though. They probably just croaked, in more ways than one.

    1. F. Beard

      Makes sense since:

      A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. Proverbs 12:10

    2. evodevo

      Yup. The #1 sign of a budding sociopath/psychopath is cruelty to animals. I’d be looking into this more carefully if I were the local cops. Much more dangerous to society than some “satanic ritual” nonsense.

  2. petal

    Thank you for posting the MJ article about Hillary Clinton blasting Edward Snowden when she spoke at UConn. I saw it this morning on the Daily Mail. Suppose it isn’t good for my health to be this sickened and frustrated so early in the morning.

    1. Banger

      You shouldn’t be sickened. Clinton sees the national security state as a key ally in her quest for the Presidency. The national security state sees Clinton as an ideal candidate–she will automatically get a very high level of female support blunting the tendency of women to put compassion before aggression. Like Obama, a Clinton candidacy, once again, will fragment the anti-Imperial tendencies of the American people many of whom believe that women are less warlike simply because they are women–sorry, I don’t believe it.

      1. Jim Haygood

        “When [Snowden] emerged and when he absconded with all that material, I was puzzled, because we have all these protections for whistleblowers.” — the Hildebeast

        HA HA HA … that’s a good one! We all know exactly what would have happened if Snowden hadn’t exiled himself.

        As Hillary (an attorney) knows, Snowden was charged in June 2013 under the Espionage Act, which carries sentences ranging up to execution (e.g., the Rosenbergs).

        Before being ‘tried’ in federal court (with a conviction rate north of 95%), Snowden would have been offered a plea bargain: admit guilt, accept a life sentence, and be spared execution.

        As exemplified by Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence, what Hillary means by ‘whistleblower protections’ is that they will be spared death in return for complete cooperation.

        Meanwhile, the woman who threw a shoe at Hillary (and missed) is still in the federal Gulag, not even offered bail. Don’t mess with the HIldebeast!

        1. optimader

          “Meanwhile, the woman who threw a shoe at Hillary (and missed) is still in the federal Gulag, not even offered bail. Don’t mess with the HIldebeast!”

          What is she charged w/ that justifies no bail??

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          “Don’t mess with the HIldebeast!”

          True that! And don’t even try doing any honest reporting/opining. Just ask Randi Rhodes or Sharyl Attkisson.

          While I fear Banger may be right about my fellow members of the XX club, Hill apparently feels no obligation to return the favor.

          Not that it really matters. If TPTB decide that Hillary is the right man for the job, then the job will be hers. Any current or former association with a uterus will merely provide a plausible, predigested explanation.

        3. Skeptic

          I do like that Hildebeast. I’ve often wondered why Obummer or Obumma or Owhatabummer and other variations never caught on. Anyway, this time round there’s also Hellary.

          Most oppressed societies have had their own language to describe their oppressors and oppression. We need our own language to accurately describe the activities of our one and only 1%. MONDIABLO for MONSANTO, MAL*WART for yooknowwho, for example.

    2. BondsOfSteel

      Yes… Clinton’s comments show she is either woefully misinformed, or being intentionally misleading. I don’t know which is worse.

      Whistleblower protections? Ha! Who would he blow to? Mr. “I can Lie to Congress” Clapper or the “I can spy and mislead the Senate” CIA? Congress has shown who’s in control. If Clinton really feels Snowden should be whistleblowing in the US, she should be pushing Congress for immunity for testimony. This could have happened when he was in Hong Kong.

      Secondly, criticizing him of staying in Russia… knowing that he has no choice is offensive. Everyone knows he wants to go to South America. Heck, we forced the President of Bolivia’s plane out of the air and searched it against his will trying to arrest Snowden.

      Shame on Ms. Clinton.

  3. Steve H

    “Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible.”
    – from the sabotage manual

    “Decision accuracy in complex environments is often maximized by small group sizes”

    And then a Raven yanking the Eagles tail.

    I’m sensing a through-line here.
    There is a simple model which says that the way to break up a complex, interdependent oligarchy is to create smaller interdependent groups. This both provides resilence to the system as a whole, and reduces the ability to sequester most gains at the top.

  4. dcb

    I put this up on the krugman blog regarding heterodox economics. As usual his posts are distortions and lies

    I’m heterodox . I became heretodox after a degree in biology, years working in a lab, , and a career in science . It took 1/2 a class of maco in an MBA course to see how screwed up economics is. I watched the financial crisis explode (I had predicted it ) because, I knew the levels of debt consumers had and their income. I watched the policy response and correctly predicted how it would help mainly the welthy. it did and is continuing . I predicted the sovreign crisis based on their policies. We had s and L crisis, japan bubble, emerging markets crisis, latin america debt crisis the tech bubble .The policy responses is always bailing out western banks/ speculators who made mistakes. the head of the fed says bubbles can’t be seen and that the proper response is to deal with the fall out. Since banking profits, is based on leverage (the amount of credit in the system), and the rich make most of their money in the price of assets. It takes 30 seconds to realize official policy is to endlessly come to the rescue of the most wealthy . deflation may cause depression (although the real data for that says no it doesn’t) and you realize that margin in the markets (wealthy borrowrring to buy more assets) is always rescued. How many times does a rational person see the same thing happen and say enough. These people use economics to justify and endless bailut of the rich.
    Official policy creates instability (leverage) which benefits the most wealthy, then rescues it. ENOUGH

    1. Banger

      Many of us who are trained, for one reason or another, in critical thinking skills has to feel like putting a gun to his or her head sometimes. The vast majority of people completely lack critical thinking skills and cannot see what you see. They may suspect what you suspect but will go along with whatever they think conventional thinking is. At this time, I don’t see a way to change this fact–thus, there is no rational way to dethrone the rich unless the rich themselves grow a conscience or the left somehow becomes very militant.

    2. fresno dan

      Baker has a tendency to be way too deferential to Krugman – in the above post he appears to finally have enough. Orthodox economics refusal to acknowledge that most of the stuff at the top is self dealing, legerdemain, fraud, and every type of white collar crime and that it has profound and significant effects on the economy is equivalent to all the toadies who justified the power of the king as God’s representative on earth.

  5. Banger

    Re: Ukraine

    I notice the tendency of the Western press to downplay Ukraine news. What’s going on here? RT is covering it pretty intensely as much as CNN is covering the Korean boat disaster.

    Washington has found out that the Europeans are dragging their feet on sanctions and starting, in earnest, a new Cold War. I suspect that the neocons and their “humanistic” interventionists allies carried out the Ukraine coup d’etat precisely to bait Russia into seizing territory. We have to remember that Ukraine had a balanced policy and that, if Washington wanted stability and peace (as the realists in DC favor), they wouldn’t have spurred on the fascists in Kiev to act so aggressively in deliberately creating tensions in Eastern Ukraine.

    Ok, so having said that and getting the Western press to report the coup as a natural consequence of a corrupt and authoritarian regime without noting that Ukraine had held a number of fair elections and had a functioning constitutional democracy. But then the media stopped pushing for aggressive actions and focused on the missing plane or other matters. The Hawks is Washington are still trying as hard as they can to push a militant and aggressive line and Kerry is redoubling his lying and disinformation campaign but it appears the media, while not questioning the propaganda line, is putting this crisis on the back burner and not whipping up war-hysteria as they did last year with the Syrian gas crisis.

    Right now we are getting very close to war in Ukraine and you almost could describe it as civil war which was, in my view, obviously Washington’s plan in the first place–but is it a “plan”? I suspect, as I’ve said, that we are still in the midst of an internal struggle for power in Washington that remains unresolved–in fact, I believe this battle is far more important than the Ukraine situation–Ukraine has forced this conflict out in the open–Obama has to decide whether he’s going to follow the path to war or not. He is facing a complex calculus–should he risk world financial panic to go to war? Will war help him in his election? Who’s in charge in the WH? Is Sy Hersh’s account of what happened to avoid massive U.S. bombing during the Syrian crisis fundamentally accurate? Is Ukraine Obama’s Cuban Missile Crisis?

    1. Danb

      Washington Week, carried on most PBS stations Friday night, spent no time on Ukraine last night. it was mentioned once or twice in passing as Obama in Asia and free trade were discussed. I was astounded by how the panel ignored the issue. So I your find your comments persuasive, because Washington Week is the place to go for officially approved topics, rhetoric and propaganda.

      1. Banger

        Since I know that the U.S. mainstream narrative is propaganda I read it the way Russian scholars once read the USSR press. These guys would “read” Kremlin policies and power balances through the content or lack of content of stories in the official press. I find the U.S. media to be similar to the USSR media–but more complex because there seem to be more factions within the U.S. oligarchy. However all these factions agree to the Party line as it evolves.

    2. Eureka Springs

      Why use the word neocon? Is there a difference between neolib or neocon in this respect? Is there anyone anywhere in either party leadership who isn’t neocon in this situation? Isn’t this UKR situation an almost exact replay of the Neoliberal Shock Doctrine in 1970’s South America? I raise these points because so many in this country seem to use the term neocon in order to ignore their very own liberal votes/alignments usher in bloody murderers like Both Clintons, Kerry and Obama (as well as all D congressional critters) time and time again. Any reasonable reading of Obama Kerry actions should bury them in the Hague for life… just on the basis of ushering in, funding, lying in order to cheerlead a fascist coup alone.

      Also why suggest this is a civil war? Is any war civil? No doubt a war is brewing which will rip the fabric of Ukrainian society leaving the UKR peoples blood running down the streets but it is clearly a war fomented, funded and no doubt armed and trained by US for the benefit of a few rich oligarchs/corps control of finance, agro, oil and gas infrastructure in particular. Aside from the Crimean vote which Russia and the Crimean’s insisted upon I have seen very little which suggests the interest of the UKR people is of any import… in fact the very opposite. Remember the UKR fascists, their little parties/candidates have never garnered so much as double digit vote percentages in elections gone by. Hell, we in the US would have more than that percentage if they were given a vote in a multi party system. If less then ten percent of extreme baggers took billions in Chinese funds and training and weapons, overthrew D.C. would you call that a civil war? I would call it a coup, foreign initiated war.

      Finally, you so often suggest there are decent people in DC… could you perhaps from time to time name some of them? What they are saying, to whom? What makes them decent? How are they even allowed in a room of influence if they are decent around these neo war mongers in charge unless they are puppets. I would really like to know.

      1. Banger

        I guess labels are confusing. Neoliberalism is the general policy of the USG and it has been well defined here on NC. Neoconservative philosophy is “strong” neoliberalism; it’s chief ideology is as follows: US society is deeply divided along class, race, culture, region, tribe and must have an over-arching mission to avoid descent into chaos, in addition, consumer society always tends to encourage hedonism which neocons abhor. Neocons and neoliberal-lite ideologues believe in American Exceptionalism which states that the US has a unique mission to bring the world together through a single world system aka the Empire. Realists, in contrast believe all enthusiastic moral crusades and ideologies are usually dangerous and they seek to simply further national self-interst and avoid over-extending power; they believe, for the most part, that neoliberal philosophies are the most practical course for human progress but hesitate to use brute force to impose it. Realists believe that the world will just naturally evolve towards neoliberalism and brute force can be counter-productive while neo-cons believe force, even when it is counter-productive in the short term is always necessary–aggression is as requirement and upheaval, chaos always serves the interests of imperialism.

        As for decent people–they exist everywhere in almost any milieu whether they are “wise guys”, career criminals, cops, or government officials. As for names I’m not going to get into that but just read Sy Hersh’s articles over the decades–his sources are the good guys in all of this and some of those guys are CIA people. Believe it or n
        OT the Army and Marine Corp have many dissident officers who year in year out block the mad plans of neocons, if they aren’t decent who the f!ck is?

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          Re: … “OT, the Army and Marine Corp have many dissident officers who year in and year out block the mad plans of neocons. If they aren’t decent, then who the f!ck is?”
          +1000 and it’s not off topic. Thanks for this observation, Banger.

      2. allcoppedout

        That’s the way I feel. Some of the foot-in-mouth US diplomacy has been so bad as to be funny. Yet why do we end up with these dire people apparently running the show? And why would we credit such obvious turkeys with the ability to listen to argument? They drop to Lambert-style hostile-defence poses at the first provocation there is more to think about on MMT than in his small world. Lambert’s obviously too decent a guy to bracket with the vile actors of US foreign policy, but the lack of ‘argument capacity’ has something to do with the dire state of politics. Corners start being defended long before there is any need, with all the usual projection on the Other. The scary floozie RT has been showing lying for days seems to sum a lot of it up. Can’t remember her name – youngish (to an old fart like me) in over-bright dress and dull brain, slept her way up sort of thing. There are a few movements afoot to try the hard arguments instead of much of the jive put in front of us. Most argument, set against what reality you can find by getting out more and history a long way from main media, tends to make one think the actors cannot be decent people or know argument other than in terms of winning and losing. Even now I suspect we can’t realise just how assimilated we have become in ‘the neo’

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think of the neo-cons as a subset of the neo-libs, though almost everyone in DC is a subset of the neo-libs. And I think of the neo-cons — it’s been awhile, so I may get this wrong — as a much more tightly focused single network of flexians, starting, IIRC, with ex-Trotsky-ites from New York, and including the Kagans. The neo-libs are a lot more diffuse, and they aren’t a single network, more like a network of networks.

    3. ohmyheck

      Did you read Sy Herch’s article? Obama’s Cuban Missile Crisis?
      No. If you READ Sy’s article he plainly states, repeatedly, that Obama wanted the war in Syria, big-time. Sy says that there were those in the Pentagon that made it very clear to the Administration that it did not support that war.
      Sy claims that Obama did not realize that he was potentially starting WW3, until it was outright Mili-splained to him. Obama want this Cold War 2.0, as well.

      READ the article. Blinders off.

      1. Banger

        Of course I read it like I do every Hersh article! As I’ve repeatedly said over the years, there is a dissident movement within the national security community that has been working tirelessly against war since the neocons came in with Bush II. You have to understand that the neocon’s radical policies deeply shocked the FP establishment that I once knew fairly well. It is the crazy neocon ideologues around Obama that have been moving us towards war just as the generals and others tried to move Kennedy into nuclear war during the CMC–the fact he solidly rejected war and moved towards detente insured his assassination. Also Obama appears largely ignorant of international affairs–he never struck me as being as smart as people seem to think.

            1. John Jones

              Yes whistleblowers are but I am wondering how wide spread
              those same feeling they have are in the organizations among the ones who don’t say anything.

              1. steviefinn

                Since Clinton hasn’t it been the case that in Camelot the courtiers with most influence have held the same views no matter who was appointed king. Nuland – Obama / Kagan – Romney. They have squeezed out the good guys – It’s getting kind of inbred as in Clinton 2 Bush 3.

                1. John Jones

                  Yes the leaders all seem the same.
                  But I wonder about the actual regular people in those organizations. The ones doing the actual work.

    4. Synopticist

      The German industrialists are not going to give up their Russian raw materials, markets or investments. London is largely dependent on foreign oligarchs throwing their money around.

      Everyone in Europe knows how much we rely on Russian gas. The EU will make the right noises and look compliant and get it’s media to stay on message, but there’s no way we’ll do anything serious in terms of sanctions, and perhaps Washington is starting to understand that.

    5. VietnamVet

      A realist would ask how can we avoid a confrontation between Russia and NATO over Ukraine that is likely to escalate into WW III. Simple. Agree to a federated Ukraine and stipulate that Western Ukraine cannot join NATO.
      If this is unacceptable to Washington DC then the reason must be that the neo-conservatives in the State Department want to destroy Russia. The neo-liberals, everywhere, want to destabilize Russia. And, President Obama, White House, wants to bench Vladimir Putin (regime change).

      This is terrifying because this means the only realists left to keep us alive are in the Department of Defense.

    6. Doug Terpstra

      Ukraine machinations are really quite simple. Just follow the money — black gold, the devil’s excrement (Chavez) … or in this case, gas. Sure, at the margins there’s war-lust versus the realpolitik of preventing WW3, but I doubt that any except Cheney, Israeli hawks, and similar apocalyptic psychos really want a hot war with Russia. They just want to milk the prospect.

      The real goal is low-grade conflict, constant instability, here and the Middle East — for profit. Rag-tag Al Qaeda is getting a bit decrepit as a terror specter, and the MIC needs a more formidable enemy and a key energy nexus for guaranteed profit-power stream. Resurrection of the Cold War, simmering conflict and instability, is the perfect play, and just as Israel thrives on the very anti-Semitism it incites, the US military empire too needs and creates constant enemies to justify its violence for profit.

      The reason the MSM is relatively quiet, I suspect, is that they don’t want people paying too much attention in this phase of the game, as in Syria, when it’s all too obvious that the US is the instigator and perpetrator of this international crime. The Obama regime is clearly baiting Putin with Blackwater-assisted Ukraine-NATO provocations in order to trigger a Russian reaction sufficient to justify a new global standoff and lucrative Cold War to replace the geriatric War on Terror. They just don’t want new embarrassing Nuland/Kerry gaffes or too much attention paid at this point.

      The Obama regime media is strategically quiet for now. Rest assured, however, that if/when Putin takes the bait and moves to protect Russians targeted by DC-Kiev violence, then Russia will be featured 24-7 (between sports and celebrity trivia) by the presstitute media as a hideous ogre and a gigantic global threat to peace. And voila, we’ll be off to a new low-grade war for fun and profit.

  6. David Lentini

    “What we’ve been trying to do is to continually raise the costs for Russia of their actions while still leaving the possibility of them moving in a different direction,” the president said at a press conference Friday in South Korea. “And we’ll continue to keep some arrows in our quiver in the event that we see a further deterioration of the situation over the next several days or weeks.”

    Robert S. McNamara unavailable for comment.

  7. Eeyores enigma

    “What’s behind these fracturing countries? Stalled economies ”
    Post 9-11 the world was well into the hockey stick blade portion of exponential growth. 9-11 turned everyone into an American. The world empathized then identified with us. Technology and finance were going to make everyone equally rich, happy, and peaceful.

    Then Fossil Fuels hit a wall, primarily diesel the life blood of real economic growth. First the price climbed precipitously then there were shortages all around the world. This is an inconvenient fact that is conveniently ignored by most analysis, particularly by economist. Nobody even asks, why is it that diesel has always been half or less the price of gas historically and now, since the crash, diesel is consistently more than gas?

    This one simple fact is so key as to why there has been and most likely will never be real economic growth. Banking/finance tried to convince everyone that resources are not that important and they will just make up for the real world constraints by pumping more money making money, making money, and insuring it all then selling it all to make money make more money. The only problem with their plan is that all that money action only goes to a tiny percentage of the population with the absolute tinniest amount trickling down to a few hangers on.

    “The fundamental cause of all this unrest – in such a variety of societies – is likely slower global economic growth.”

    BINGO! Well almost. Increasingly scarce resources while adding 1.4 million new people to the planet every week = no or negative growth. Or more likely fantastical growth for some and accelerated de-growth for the majority. And yes more and increasingly violent conflict.

    Unless we all sit down and discuss the real issues, end financialism, capitalism and all other isms, and structure humanity in a way that optimizes for positive behavior.

    1. Ron

      Modern life and fossil fuel are joined at the hip as your analysis points out the impact of higher fossil fuel prices have on various societies around the globe. In 1945 the price of a barrel of oil was $1.00 inflation adjusted that would be close to $14.00 today a long way from the $100 a barrel that most countries are paying. Fossil fuel dependency has a short life ahead given current rate of world wide consumption so your point about the correlation between fuel prices and unstable societies will only increase as hording, depletion rates and price rises continue to impact modern life’s dependency on cheap available fossil fuel for continued economic growth.

    2. Andrea

      Egypt has just agreed to the setting up of coal driven plants to produce electricity. July (when Morsi was thrown out) is coming up. Electricity shut offs are common, often several hours a day…in Cairo! Small biz. try to buy personal generators (run with FF, as in Iraq and Afgh. for ex.), etc. This situation will only get worse.

      So the Egyptian Gov. is scrambling to hold on, right now supported with billions from Qatar and other ME, it continues to subsidize energy costs to households / biz as it can’t do anything else. The prime aim, imho, is to avoid new ‘bread riots.’ Importing coal is a desperate measure.

      There will be no economic growth in Egypt, in France, in Italy, even in the US. In fact, in all these countries GDP per capita sinks year by year, though that is hidden, and the ‘compensatory‘ measures (debt, aka massive borrowing and bank shenanigans, plus re-distribution to the poor, hyping new energy stuff) keep the ball in the air for a short while.

  8. Ned Ludd

    An interesting list of sabotage techniques to look out for, courtesy of the CIA. If you replace the word “patriotic” with the word “radical”, this illuminates how a few people can easily derail any radical activist group.

    • Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

    • When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

    • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

    1. allcoppedout

      There’s a brilliant reference to this in Goffman’s ‘Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’. He finds bureaucrats doing all this and yet still saying nothing that can be pinned down. Spanish and Portuguese friends when I was a kid used to tell me the blathering old duffers were actually a sign you hadn’t lapsed to fascism yet. They were still pretending to persuade rather than openly inverting ‘persuasion, coercion, violence’. Now, I suspect, they can do violence to us through PR that we know is untrue. They have us to scared by years of the same promises, gestures and unholy failure.

  9. Ned Ludd

    April 19th marked six months since the creation of First Look Media was announced by Glenn Greenwald and Pierre Omidyar. […]

    Working for The Intercept, so far, seems to have a silencing effect. With very few exceptions, all of these journalists have stopped publishing everywhere else (a clause in the “Agreement” they signed?), including their own blogs.

    From a post about the work of six† of the journalists hired by First Look Media. Note the big drop-off in cumulative articles published and cumulative words published.

    † “The main reason for choosing only six is that cataloging their work turned out to be a very painstaking process.”

  10. spooz

    Following the discussion on debt free fiat in the yesterday’s MMT post comments, I enjoyed reading Correntwire’s post “Warren Mosler on Martin’s Wolf’s ‘Strip private banks of their power to create money'”, an intelligent conversation about Fisher’s Chicago Plan :

    “Strip private banks of their power to create money
    The giant hole at the heart of our market economies needs to be plugged
    Printing counterfeit banknotes is illegal, but creating private money is not. The interdependence between the state and the businesses that can do this is the source of much of the instability of our economies. It could – and should – be terminated.”

    Music to my ears. Thank you for the post, Lambert.

    1. lambert strether

      Nah, thank Mosler. I just slammed his work into a post and hit submit ;-) Not every day you get to see line by line commentary on Martin Wolf….

      1. spooz

        I didn’t agree with Moser’s analysis, he seems to think status quo is just fine; seeing Wolf’s comments posted alongside his allows those who can think for themselves can decide who they agree with. For me, its nice to see ANY discussion of it, beggers and all that.

        1. allcoppedout

          Much as I agree Spooz – this suggestion has been on the table since the 1920s and actioned nowhere (it was even said by a BoE Governor back in the day). I’d ‘blow up’ the banks tomorrow peaceful – but what happens in the wake of this if we still allow accumulated money as we have it now? I guess we still have to have utility banking to prevent loan sharks and the chop systems, but deep thinking on this is a bit like fighting the Hydra – chopping off one head only leads others to grow. Looking at the various revolutions in the world scares me because of what follows after – which is Hugh’s kleptocracy. The spring-times don’t last and I suspect this is down to lack of planning and understanding how much our arguments are already penetrated by theirs (in the main, they educated us).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps no need to blow up the banks or other tactical moves.

            Strategically, this might work (at least I hope, if not today, maybe in the post-collapse future – but let the idea be known now, so no one of our descendants, if any, will say we did not suggest it back in 2014).

            1. Say ‘NO!!!!’ to status quo with Money Creation via the Little People spending it into existence.

            2. Prevention of money/wealth accumulation by implementing GDP Sharing and a Wealth Tax.

          2. spooz

            A citizens dividend, using debt free fiat to offset the loss of liquidity as the banking system “reorganizes”, would help to fight inequality in at least two ways, it seems:
            1. those at the bottom would have a huge boost in their ability to accumulate wealth
            2. those at the top would have major haircuts

        2. Nobody (the outcast)

          he seems to think status quo is just fine

          No he doesn’t. A lot of his proposals can be considered “radical” if you care to look at them. and here. I’m not qualified to critique them, but a lot of them seem good to me. The way things are in D.C. means none would be implemented anyway. His banking proposals (second link) are really good, IMO.

          1. spooz

            In comparison to The Chicago Plan, MMT looks like status quo. Business as usual, pretty much, for the TBTF banks. Too much hope and change for my way of thinking.

            1. spooz

              Okay, the banking proposals look good, but so did the Volker Plan before the lobbyists had their day.
              I like more significant reform that provides more social good.

              1. Nobody (the outcast)

                The primary problem is not the monetary system, it is the Legislative/Executive branches that fail to do their jobs for the good of the country. Democracy is dead.

                1. spooz

                  I see the our current monetary system as an integral part of the control fraud that is our financial system. The banks control our money supply and MMT does nothing to stop them. The central bank acts outside of our democratic system, in service of the banks, and is unaccountable to the people. The Chicago Plan would give the banksters their just deserves. The collateral damage could be offset with a debt free fiat citizens dividend. imo (sorry to say, there is no “we”, only a disparate group of others with whom I agree, more or less)

          2. JuneTown

            Can I presume that you have read Warren’s multi-faceted denials of MW’s proposal to make the government the monopoly issuer of the currency, with Warren’s position being a basic contradiction with Mosler’s MMT claim that the government IS the monopoly issuer of the currency?
            How ’bout a little consistency, let alone truth?
            As to his banking proposals, they ignore the FACT that the banks are the monopoly issuers of the currency today, and , if anyone’s watching, this is the Status Quo problem.
            Why does MMT defend private banks creating the nation’s money?

    2. Eeyores enigma

      Striping private banks of their power to create money would only work if all debt was forgiven or else that debt can never be repaid and we would simply intensify the inequality by an order of magnitude over night.

      That and it would have to include massive claw back of wealth created and hoarded over the last … say fifty years.

      1. spooz

        I see private debt being repaid in installments out of the citizens dividend. Seems the fairest way to me.
        The clawback would occur naturally as the financial markets “adjust” to the lack of plunder to exploit.

        1. JuneTown

          Stripping private banks of issuing money has a balance of empowering the government to make the money system work. There is no reason for money to not be available to pay off the debts, no matter who is issuing the money.
          And since bank credits require more unwanted debt contracts, the government is much more flexible in terms of providing the circulating medium needed to achieve our objectives and our potential.
          The jig is up.

      2. allcoppedout

        A lot of debt can be netted out. After that we need a lot of thinking through. I have no problems giving people the homes they live in free of banks and building for those without to establish something like a fair share. I guess we can spreadsheet this and more. The situation reminds me of Descartes’ position on radical re-examination and what to do in the meantime – though his unsatisfactory ‘trust in a beneficent god’ doesn’t wash far. We have to grow food, keep water clean and cope with ‘motivation’ in the new world conditions.

    3. financial matters

      It seems that Wolf and Mosler aren’t addressing a major point here. How do derivatives fit into the picture? It seems they would be part of the 97% of credit creation and should be treated differently that a basic loan. Who bails out a cdo squared or a credit default swap?

      This is also why the Fed is behind the times. How is it regulating these products? What the Fed is doing instead is vying for more power to bail out these products if they go bad therefore endangering tri-party repo and money market funds. Think AIG.

      The Fed needs transparent governance instead of more power to bail out these products which are not productive. A healthy Fed would use credit creation for the public good.

      1. spooz

        In debt free fiat monetary reform, public banks wouldn’t engage in derivatives. During the restructuring, when the implicit fed backing disappears as the fed is absorbed by the Treasury, there will most likely be heavy losses in the financial sector. Nobody bails the cdo & cds. This is a feature, to me, not a bug, and will aid in decreasing inequality overall. The resultant loss of liquidity could be offset by a citizen’s dividend.

  11. Brian

    Quantum explanation of time, one mention of entropy. Could we be mistaken? If we were to explore by measurement perhaps, the entropy of a 2D pathway, a 3D pathway and the 4D pathway, would we not learn the same things? Yes, many markers would be hidden in the compounds that absorbed our evidence so nothing is perfect except the entropy.
    Don’t get me started about time or time zones because no matter what we do, we have to deal with local rules.

      1. allcoppedout

        The prevailing conception of fundamental physics which is to predict what will happen from initial conditions and laws of motion. Constructor theory seeks to express all fundamental scientific theories in terms of a dichotomy between possible and impossible physical transformations – those that can be caused to happen and those that cannot. If constructor theory fails then something else will unify emergent-level laws such as the Turing principle and the principle of testability with the other laws of nature. Something else will provide an exact statement of the second law of thermodynamics, and a full statement of the content of conservation laws.

        David Deutsch’s ideas – so I guess physicists are aware of short-comings.

      2. susan the other

        If entanglement can only happen once. I thought entanglement existed because particles were separated at the beginning of time at the moment of the big bang, and like identical twins they sense each other no matter how far apart they are. So if one particle spins to the right the other simultaneously spins to the left, but they respond to any changes in the other, so doesn’t that mean that they are reversible? Two thoughts on reversibility – one is that it could be a veritable quantum motor industry and solve all our energy problems; and two – entropy seems to occur because of the arrow of time and not that the arrow of time occurs because of entropy – so we cannot remember the future simply because it is too ethereal and we haven’t engaged in it yet. So how does this define time? Anyway, all this is really good news because just reading NC everyday entangles us and all sorts of other people and all the bad stuff will reach some saner balance as a result. Assuming we are sane.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    MERS spread by travelers ‘very likely’…

    Nature is designed, or maybe Nature designs herself, in such a way that the deadlier the virus, the quicker the victim dies, and the less likely it will travel far.

    Thanks to ‘progress,’ we have overcome that particular limitation.

    To our sciencer and technologian friends, muchas gracias.

    1. Vatch

      It’s good that the epidemiologists are making progress in understanding MERS.

      It’s bad that the prosecutors and bank regulators are failing to make progress in understanding MERS.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Today is Saturday and I am posting from home, so I guess I can ask this question.

    ‘How about a Big Brothel Watch, in addition to the fascinating Big Brother Watch?’

    1. allcoppedout

      I found brothels got boring much quicker than I expected when I was on vice. And let’s face it Beef, if they can “fascinate us” with Big Brother (I take your edge here) we must be well down the ‘whale oil beef hooked’ tube. There was a time when I used to nick people who took pictures of other people sleeping.

        1. allcoppedout

          Can you expand about this?
          “We blokes are suckers for a pretty face unless we take certain types of anti-depressants.

          Psychologists (in the main) do loads of lab experiments with humans. In this one, the psychos first discovered nearly all men do more favours for pretty women. Honey trap sort of stuff. So they dosed some of the men in the test with anti-depressants. Here’s the Nature abstract:
          Recently, minocycline, a tetracycline antibiotic, has been reported to improve symptoms of psychiatric disorders and to facilitate sober decision-making in healthy human subjects. Here we show that minocycline also reduces the risk of the ‘honey trap’ during an economic exchange. Males tend to cooperate with physically attractive females without careful evaluation of their trustworthiness, resulting in betrayal by the female. In this experiment, healthy male participants made risky choices (whether or not to trust female partners, identified only by photograph, who had decided in advance to exploit the male participants). The results show that trusting behaviour in male participants significantly increased in relation to the perceived attractiveness of the female partner, but that attractiveness did not impact trusting behaviour in the minocycline group. Animal studies have shown that minocycline inhibits microglial activities. Therefore, this minocycline effect may shed new light on the unknown roles microglia play in human mental activities.

          Lots of biochemical stuff affects us, often coming from such as bacteria we co-exist with. My biochem/biology is years out of date. I maintained an interest because my jobs have been boring and I’ve always struggled not to believe I must be a stranded alien in what passes as human society. The depressive position in Freud is the sane one, as opposed to paranoid schizoid. My real interest in this is why we argue so badly, yet convince ourselves we are good at it. Much biochemical is in the way of rationality. Of course, in working on my ‘argument pill’ I’m not sure whether everyone else needs it or just me.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                I like complex material explanations; I think the most likely planetarys-scale being is a mycelial mat, after all. That said, we have layers and layers of complex, interactive systems, and the paper only points to one….

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From hunter-gatherers fell to their agricultural rivals:

    A genomic analysis of eleven Stone-Age human remains from Scandinavia revealed that expanding Stone-age farmers assimilated local hunter-gatherers into their community, but that the traffic was one way.

    A few questions.

    1. Was the one way assimilation ‘voluntary?’
    2. Where did shepherds and nomads fit in this ‘one way transition’ story?

    My thesis is that shepherds and nomads did NOT descend from hunter gatherers. They were former farmers.

    Instead, they escaped farming – there is your exception of ‘one way assimilation’ – after domestication of certain animals.


    Perhaps there was no freedom under agricultural around 3,000-4,000 BC. By then, slaves/serfs could be found everywhere there was farming.

    1. allcoppedout

      Good speculation on the voluntary. Remarkable what they are saying with a few dead, well-rotted bodies given the data sets we are supposed to admire from tax offices about what goes on in our lives (Piketty et al). Pretty sure archaeology makes Beef’s point here. Lots of modern, crippling diseases arose from the new farming work. The white dead at Little Big Horn were mostly young, crippled-by-hard-work Europeans. Imagine what a few human bodies are going to tell what comes next about wealthy inequality!

    2. Eeyores enigma

      A great follow up to “From hunter-gatherers fell to their agricultural rivals:” would be;

      How Bankers took over the world: Farmers fell for their Financial rivals

    3. Nobody (the outcast)

      Agriculture allowed humans to breed profusely and required steeply hierarchical systems and military “states” to manage the population and protect the surplus. I doubt there were many voluntary assimilations. I would guess that most looked similar to what happened to the Great Plains natives of North America.

      1. Nobody (the outcast)

        Also, agriculture consumes the land which required ag societies to continually move and consume more land, leading to inevitable contact/conflict, and I think conflict was the way it almost always went. The two ways of life are diametric.

      2. efschumacher

        Not only the Native Americans. As the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (which was written by the winners) makes clear, the Scando-Germanic parasite culture, whilst warring among itself over 5 or 6 hundred years, progressively pushed the Natives (variously identified as Britons, Welsh and Picts) into subjection, and dispossession. The Domesday Book merely documents the dispossession of one Scando-Germanic group by another. The natives have been paying the Saxon-geld, the Dane-geld, and the Norman-geld ever since.

        While the DNA record shows that upwards of 2/3 of population – depending on where you live – has Celtic roots, nowhere is there a Celtic cultural or financial hegemony.

  15. nobody

    Better than a Bush-Clinton rematch for 2016:

    Somebody should start a movement demanding that George P. Bush and Chelsea Clinton conceive a child together who, upon reaching the age of 12, shall initiate a glorious 1,000 year reign for the Bush-Clinton absolute monarchy.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Decision accuracy in complex environments is often maximized by small group sizes.

    Is that only short term decision accuracy?

    Does short term decision accuracy necessarily lead to long term decision accuracy?

    1. allcoppedout

      One might ask here ‘decisions on what’? Imagine blue sky thinking morons in Japan coming to the decision ‘I know, let’s go to war with the United States’. Not good on Beef’s long-term there, though Japan is now a democracy. Cursed hard to measure these thingies. What is the data?Count the number of cheering stooges before and after?

      There’s actually lots of well-reasoned stuff on argument and decision-making suggesting most of us are not good on our own and get better in collective argumentation situations. I’ll be the guy saying ‘that won’t work’ a lot, or ‘we need to plan this better if we don’t want our arses shot off’. And the guy who sends someone to measure a road junction 70 miles away when planning a ship build while others ask what this has to do with the price of fish.

      In neuroscience adaptation by social science clowns, one can even measure how all this irrational collectivity (testosterone, gene-reading etc.) leads to trust, leads to better decisions – and then “poof” goes the beauty of success as one discovers traders in 10 different banks have been screwing each other in more ways than one to achieve the success of the bailout-in.

  17. rich

    Hillary’s Undeclared Conflict of Interest on Snowden

    President Obama has a war on whistleblowers which Hillary will continue if elected President of the United States. Her skirmish on the Snowden affair reveals her desire to discredit a very important whistleblower.

    June 2013 – Snowden blows whistle from work inside Booz Allen Hamilton
    June 2013 – Carlyle group owns 69% of Booz Allen Hamilton
    September 2013 – Hillary speaks at Carlyle Group’s annual investor meeting for speaking fee of $200,000
    February 2014 – Carlyle sells stake in Booz, ownership of company down to 53%
    April 2014 – Hillary speaks of whistleblowing but does not declare her conflict of interest with The Carlyle Group, 53% owner of BAH.

    I take it conflict of interest laws do not apply to the Hillary class.

    just what we need…more of the same.

  18. John Mc

    Funny how Krugman’s latest op ed does not mention the heterdox criticisms just written yesterday by Michael Hudson.

    As Philiip Mirowski reminds us in his book “Never Let a Crisis Go To Waste”, that the academic left on TEAM REGULATION has done just as much damage as TEAM GREED on the right. There is nothing more destabilizing to the middle class as a trojan horse expert who repeatedly needles us with complexity wearing a cloak of infallible neutrality.

    And when you look examine the neoliberal ego behind the curtain, the central point he gleans from the heterodox crowd is that “they want to get rid of me too”. Yes, Paul, yes we do.

  19. The Heretic

    Concerning the article in Wired magazine about quantum mechanics and time.

    Trying to explain why a hot object cools down in a cooler room, it seems like the quantum guys are desperately trying to give justification for their models, to give an impression to the lay person that they can understand and explain the behaviour of the quantum universe and apply it to our every day experience. My suspicion is that the state of science in quantum mechanics is equivalent to ship building and astronomy in the time of Tycho Brache or perhaps Kepler; scientists of Quantum mechanics they can make new discoveries and accurate observations, but they cannot explain why things occur, nor apply their findings to other phenomena. Not until Newton’s laws of motion would their be a scientific theory that could applied to both the planets and to very small dust particles. Conversely Engineers and Craftsman of Kepler’s time could build ships to survive the high seas via experiment and experience, but they had no general theory that predict wether a new design would fail or succeed. That would require the Newtons’s laws of forces, theories of stress and strain, and detailed knowledge of the material properties and failure modes of wood of material failure, before any accurate explanations and predictions could be made. I suspect our knowledge of quantum mechanics is in a similar state; and it is Hubris of the scientists to not also reveal the assumptions and dilemmas that they struggle with.

    1. optimader

      “Trying to explain why a hot object cools down in a cooler room,”
      I’ve been quite successful applying this one.. Thank you Messrs. Stefan and Boltzman

      In the world of hurt we live in these days, of all the people in the world to have a case of the a– for, I gotta say, quantum physicists are pretty darn low on my list, Maybe at about the level of the icecream vendor truck guy that courses our Village streets at 15mph playing one bar of Three Blind Mice”…

      1. allcoppedout

        I take your drift Opti. Of course, some recent work in thermodynamics doubts Kirchoff’s Law. Perfect Lambertians are involved somewhere, obviously dubious … Lambert’s cosine law I hasten to add

  20. allcoppedout

    One wonders what “The present can be defined by the process of becoming correlated with our surroundings.” means. Like waking up in the gutter ‘correlating’ to how you got there and what to do next? I like Heretic’s metaphor on how immature quantum physics may be, I’ve seen this Wired story for over 20 years.

  21. Propertius

    Like the “penalties” levied against Wall Street, the $325 million Techtopus settlement is just a cost of doing business (and chump change compared the wealth of the companies involved). It’s also miniscule compared to the actual damage done by wage-fixing, since Valley salaries are the effective upper-bound for tech worker compensation throughout the country. Civil penalties and monetary settlements provide virtually no disincentive to corporate abuse of this kind. The only way to stop corporate misbehavior is to abandon the fiction that corporations somehow magically “decide” to do something – the decisions are made by those in the C-suite and the consequences ought to be borne by them. Or, as Lambert is so fond of saying, “bankers (and tech execs) in orange jumpsuits doing the perp walk on the teevee.”

  22. willf

    5 Reasons Hillary Clinton Shouldn’t Worry Too Much About Elizabeth Warren National Journal

    This story reads more like expectation management than it does analysis.

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