Links 4/3/14

Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? Riddle Finally Solved Discover Magazine (Lambert)

What Monsanto and college funds have in common Cathy O’Neil

The Consumer Student Reuters. University as mall, UK-style.

Chinese Bitcoin Exchanges OKCoin, FXBTC Report New Deposit Freezes CoinDesk

Bitcoin set for fresh Chinese regulatory attack Financial Times

The credit cycle and LatAm vulnerabilities VoxEU

Work Suspended on World Cup Soccer Stadium Seats After Death Bloomberg. Lambert: “Horrible working conditions for stadiums in Brazil and Qatar are a continuing story, potentially significant since protests in such stadia would be seen by a truly global audience.”

Global banks issue alerts on China carry trade as Fed tightens and yuan falls Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

China Sees Sharpest Contraction of Output Since November 2011; Japan Returns to Growth but Business Sentiment Collapses Michael Shedlock

Pettis: China is slowing successfully MacroBusiness

Thawil case could force Yingluck’s exit ThaiVisa (furzy mouse)

Nigella Lawson barred from boarding US-bound flight Telegraph. Huh? Russell Brand has said he was a heroin addict. I’m not clear on why Nigella’s confession led to this outcome. Was it because it was in court, and not merely in the media? I’m not a Nigella fan, but the border rules are becoming more stringent and look increasingly capricious.

Did Powerful Elements in Turkey Plan a False Flag Attack to Drag the Country into War with Syria? Alternet

Mubarak, Morsi may be amnestied in case al-Sisi wins Egypt election Voice of Russia (furzy mouse)

Refugee-host Lebanon at “breaking point,” says UN DW

Peace talks edge towards collapse Guardian


Ukraine a threat to global economy, warns IMF chief Christine Lagarde Telegraph

In Crimea, Russia Showcases a Rebooted Army New York Times

Partial Disclosure of Report on CIA Interrogation Wins Support WSJ Washington Wire. Lambert: “Collins and Snow use the word “torture” which is good. All that’s being released is the executive summary, which is bad.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Yahoo sets out rules to protect users Guardian

Consumers are souring on Web, post-NSA, survey says USA Today. There was an article a couple of days ago where the tech types were freaked out that mobile use of the Web had fallen from 20% to 14%. I wasn’t bothered because I had assumed that people had gotten addicted to some of the new games (the balance of use was apps). That is, the pie had gotten bigger so the surfing share was down, but not necessarily in absolute terms. This suggests it is affecting e-commerce broadly.

NSA searched Americans’ communications without a warrant Washington Post. In case you had any doubts….

Obamacare Launch

Health Enrollment Numbers Lift Democratic Hopes New York Times. But the usual dropout rate from enrollment to actually completing the steps to have a policy is typically 20%….

Too early to run Obamacare victory lap CNN

Supreme Court Officially Hands US Over to Plutocrats

Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Political Donation Cap New York Times

McCutcheon Ruling Requires Americans to Reclaim Democracy Public Citizen

A Supreme Court out of control! How McCutcheon will spur corruption and inequality Salon

EPA didn’t warn test subjects Politico

The Shocking Rise of Wealth Inequality: Is it Worse Than We Thought? Slate

No Fooling – When a Retired Conservative Politician Warns About Oligarchy… Health Care Renewal

Where’er the Merkin eagle flies Michael J. Smith

Drilling Company Could Force Pennsylvania Landowners To Allow Fracking Under Their Land ThinkProgress

‘Hope-for-Growth Momentum Investing’ Testosterone Pit

More Michael Lewis/HFT Debate:

High-Frequency Trading May Be Too Efficient Matt Levine

High-Frequency Traders Chase Currencies as Stock Volume Recedes Bloomberg

High-frequency trading and the retail investor Tyler Cowen

Blythe Masters Ends 27-Year Run at JPMorgan Bloomberg. Comments not at all sympathetic.

Former Evercore banker pleads guilty in insider trading case Financial Times

Criminal Inquiry Said to Open on Citigroup New York Times. This is progress, but again, only a subsidiary.

US job market healing Walter Kurtz

Private-sector hiring breaks out of winter freeze Reuters

Fed’s Lockhart: If Weak Growth Persists, Outlook for Rate Increases May Change WSJ Economics

Central bankers edgy over credit bubble Financial Times

The Secret Life of a Food Stamp Slate

Completely Surreal Photos Of America’s Abandoned Malls BuzzFeed (Lambert)

Antidote du jour:

Description_ cid_6589F6F2-3229-40AE-B7AC-8F97930F3768

And a bonus, the first time I’ve had one sent by Twitter (@MarcosCarreira). Message: “Cannot expect to find many fish near sharks”:


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  1. gonzomarx

    Might be of interest for the non UK
    live blogging of last night’s debate.

    Nick Clegg vs Nigel Farage, round 2: LIVE updates

    Farage has some gall in using the “people’s army” shtick and Clegg gave the establishment view
    and if I remember correctly UKIP was set by members of the 1% who thought the Tories were/are to left wing!
    oh and the UK’s euro elections are just a month way.

    1. allcoppedout

      The dreadful thing is Farrage won hands-down even in our died-in-the-wool red living room last night. It’s almost inexplicable.

      1. paul

        Strange Times
        I can see myself voting:
        UKIP in the euro elections – the only place for a single issue party
        SNP in the Scottish elections – the best available here
        Labour in the UK elections – my MP is a person of good intent
        Yes in the independence vote – because its just so exciting

      2. Synopticist

        Clegg walked into a few blows when he compared opposition to western policy on Syria and Ukraine to not believing in the moon landings. He was out of his depth.

        1. paul

          I’m pretty sceptical about all three.
          Clegg is a spoilt, dim creep. Charles Kennedy,pissed, was a far better politician and human.
          The liberal democrats had a choice; let the tories rule as a minority government, a situation not without precedent, or become their flunkies and create a conservative majority.
          The yellow book faction did what their hearts told them and may they rot in hell with their masters.
          Farage’s matey exterior sheds pretty quickly when he’s not indulged the way he has been so far by our media.
          Witness his choleric reponse to the welcome he was afforded in Scotland.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      In spite of the UKIP Farage was representing being a xenophobic reactionary tea party analog, he did in fact clearly win in my view. Although the EU has not been able to really get its tentacles too deeply into the UK because, as Farage pointed out and Clegg couldn’t rebut, the integrationists lost on the score of Euro adoption, keeping the UK fiscally sovereign. Farage did turn ugly with his xenophobic and rather ridiculous scare mongering, claiming the entire country of Bulgaria was packing its bags for the UK but that’s bedrock UKIP rhetoric and as such expected.

      Farage comes across to me as a pretty intelligent sociopath and Clegg came across as unprepared and probably beyond his patrician station with his awkwardly earnest folksy delivery of his canned talking points. As an American it was another reminder of how it isn’t just our politicians that are so execrable, it’s a worldwide norm. Britain’s political class seems as bereft of moral integrity or creative spark as our own.

  2. Jim Haygood

    ‘That liberation of stocks from economic and business realities … is the Fed’s greatest achievement in its illustrious 100-year history.’ — Wolf Richter

    Robert Shiller’s P/E10 (which averages the past 10 years’ earnings of S&P 500 companies) is at 25.32. Invert it, and stocks’ earnings yield is 3.95%. For every $100.00 you put into stocks, you get $3.95 in earnings (partly in dividends, partly in stock buybacks, and the rest reinvested).

    By contrast, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note is only 2.80%. Its yield is directly depressed by the Fed’s policy of keeping short-term interest rates at zero.

    It’s not that stocks are any bargain, but rather that the return on fixed income is so meager, which leads investors to choose stocks as the least-bad alternative in what’s probably the bleakest investment landscape of our lifetime — ‘bleak’ not in terms of current bubbly markets, but rather the near-zero prospective return which today’s towering prices imply.

    The same deep smash that occurred in 2001-2002 and 2008 has been cued up for a third time by the Fed’s ineducable PhD morons, who are diligently searching for bubbles the same way O.J. doggedly pursues the ‘real killer.’ Meanwhile, with yesterday’s fresh record, the Flying Yellendas’ unwritten target of ‘S&P 2K by springtime’ is less than 6% away.

    Go, go … Janet B. Goode!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Better that they just declare victory and go home. It is impossible to add value by centrally planning interest rates. Leave them rates alone, and they will set themselves. As David Stockman says:

        [Zero interest rates] allowed Washington to treat the financing cost of our $17.5 trillion national debt as a free good. In a world in which even the official inflation rate (CPI) has averaged 2.4% during the last 14 years, there is no other way to describe a policy that actually pulled the weighted average cost of the total Federal debt down to about 2.5%—which is to say, zero, nichts, nada or nothing in real terms.

        How is it that the Fed is more profitable than the wholesale, retail, entertainment, food service and hospitality industries of America combined? Self-evidently, it’s the magic of printing press money: The Fed buys Treasuries and MBS with a coupon; pays for them by issuing new liabilities without a coupon; collects the spread which gets recorded as a “profit”; and then returns this “profit” to Uncle Sam at year-end.

        In less polite company it might be called a fiscal circle jerk.

        1. Paul Niemi

          I like David Stockman, and he does a good job explaining what may really be going on most of the time. As you have described how the Fed returns its profit to Treasury at the end of the year, the question is: “Can the Fed in reality be independent?” Or does the Treasury now own the Fed, more than ever, as a vehicle for acquiring income streams amounting to over $100 billion a year? That income is used to reduce the size of the federal deficit, and in reality it is a backdoor tax increase, bypassing Congress. The Fed buys MBS, gives the income to Treasury, after paying big banks to service the mortgages. The problem is, the government in general does not do a good job owning property. I think that is relevant. The examples of real estate neglected by the government are all over the map and throughout history. For example, consider any of the big city federal housing projects. Is there a difference? Not really. An axiom of good government is that government should only own the land and buildings necessary to perform its essential functions, and stay out of investments in other real estate. The prediction is that with the government essentially owning the houses, eventually the housing stock will be neglected, and I think that is abundantly evident all around us.

    1. curlydan

      Jeremy Grantham thinks the S&P could top out at 2,350 before the bubble is popped. Barring a major FUBAR in China, I agree with him.
      “We do think the market is going to go higher because the Fed hasn’t ended its game, and it won’t stop playing until we are in old-fashioned bubble territory and it bursts, which usually happens at two standard deviations from the market’s mean. That would take us to 2,350 on the S&P 500, or roughly 25% from where we are now.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Still have time to party on for our pretty Cinderella Market.

        It’s not midnight yet, if Grantham is right.

        More Champagne for everyone rich enough to be invited)!

  3. Steve H.

    Apathetic Pacifism.

    NY Times, NATO generals issuing warnings about Russian aggression, and it takes three reflections to get to the underlying morale reality.

    1. Do they actually believe what they are saying? *snort* Russia was okey-dokey with the status quo, they just played the hand they were dealt.

    2. So is it a sales pitch? Smedley Butler and Eisenhower say ‘Yup’.

    3. So what? Why Russia? If this is the ace-in-the-hole, it may indicate a geriatric strategic mindset, an old war-horse ready for the glue factory. Republicans couldn’t muster 50% of their own party willing to bomb Syria. German business-volks aren’t going to undercut the billions invested with Russia. The F-35 reigns supreme on ‘tarmac superiority operations’, while Brazil buys Swedish jets they can actually use.

    The MIC has a sales problem, in that taxpayers and fighting-aging citizens may be wondering ‘who is fighting for us?’ That is a morale problem. Whoda thunk that the clarion cry for decreased militarism wouldn’t be ‘give peace a chance’, but rather ‘latte to go’.

    1. Jim Haygood

      No need to wonder ‘who is fighting against us’:

      The killings [of civilians by Albuquerque police] highlight the increasing use by the police of military-style weapons to fight street crime, which some experts have argued are fundamentally changing the nature of urban police work.

      In James Boyd’s shooting, on March 16, officers tossed a flash grenade, discharged a stun gun and fired six shots from an assault rifle at him, apparently as he turned away.

      There’s your ‘tarmac superiority ops,’ right here in the Homeland!

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        “…. which some experts have argued are fundamentally changing the nature of urban police work.”

        Gotta hand it to those “experts.” They are on the case.

        1. allcoppedout

          On my first armed op two shots were discharged. Interesting, as we were in the wrong, empty house. I note the experts have still not caught on to the incompetence of adrenaline-fuelled officers as we reach the Robocop Age.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I would have gone out shopping and contributing to the economy more (after overcoming my aversion to buy anything at all beyond the essentials, but sometimes even those), if I could just get past my fear of police brutality and/or traffic ticket scams.

        1. OIFVet

          What better way to pay the bill for the “protection” you enjoy? Or should I say the protection our overlords enjoy. I took the SO out dining yesterday evening. Terrible traffic for 8pm on a weekday. It gradually dawned on me that there were cops on every corner and several major streets were cordoned off, heavy police presence in the richest neighborhood in Chicago. The reason? Obama was in town to collect his payoff from the Daddy Warbucks for services rendered. That’s what I get for not paying attention to the corporate news media. So we were late for dinner and got stuck with the bill for all the police overtime required to protect our overlords as they transacted business. Its a very clever system, my hat’s off to TPTB for getting us to pay their bill. So go out shopping and face the costs that come with owning a vehicle and being “protected” by our militarized police force, our entire way of life and system of government require your full compliance on the matter.

          1. allcoppedout

            I always notice how visible US cops are in comparison with the UK. I find this generally reassuring as a working tourist. These bastards looked more like a vermin hunting crew.

            1. OIFVet

              Its different for you mate. I find police in the US to be menacing. They serve and protect, but not us regular people. Democracy, freedom, whatever: the militarization of American police forces, even campus police, is meant to stifle any and all dissent with the fascist policies of the PTB. And then we have the gonads to go and lecture everyone else about the virtues of democracy and freedom, the right to protest be it at the Maidan or Tahrir. In the meantime, this is what happens when we Americans dissent:

              This guy survived two tours of duty in Iraq but barely survived his encounter with OPD while exercising his Constitutionally guaranteed rights:

              And of course, the world famous Leftenant Pike from UC-Davis:

  4. Profumo

    Lambert: “Horrible working conditions for stadiums in Brazil and Qatar are a continuing story, potentially significant since protests in such stadia would be seen by a truly global audience.”

    People say this before every big event such as this one and it never comes true. The thing is once the event begins people get really caught up in the excitement and pride of hosting as soon as the events begin. I live in England and can attest to this. Before the 2012 Olympics there was this huge veneer of pessimism about the Games which disappeared completely in the moments after the opening ceremony ended. I remember reading an article claiming that there was a similar feeling in Sochi with prominent Putin critics suddenly praising the Games they’d been criticising as a huge waste of public money. I can’t guarantee that there won’t be riots or protests in Brazil, but I would be hugely surprised if there were.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I already don’t watch anything on TV.

        But I still want to protest.

        Will be working on how and welcome suggestions.

  5. abynormal

    SNAP cut 18 billion…US prices up 19% 3 months into 2014

    It crawls within my gut,
    Slithering to my throat.
    The feeling is overwhelming,
    Like being tossed from a boat.

    It slowly consumes me,
    Leaking into my veins,
    It is all I think about,
    I can’t ignore the pains.

    Suddenly I look,
    And all I see is food.

    From desk to pencil,
    They all suit my mood.

    I start gnawing and tasting,
    Nothing eludes me.
    For when hunger strikes,
    The refrigerator will be empty.
    K. A. Mello

    “All cruelty springs from weakness.” Seneca

  6. Skeptic

    The Secret Life of a Food Stamp Slate

    Congrats to Slate and NC for calling attention to this issue. This is a corporate welfare scheme for the conglomerate retailers and the industrial food conglomerates like Kraft, Nabisco, etc. It is a further example of the corruption of our very language to even call what is bought with these electronic cards food at all. Rather this “food” is, in the main, industrialized processed matter. If there must be cards, then let them be Nutrition Cards.

    Hopefully, the next two parts will address the actual type of “food” bought and what stores are licensed to be paid through the cards.

    As the 1% Crime Wave expands, Real Food becomes less and less available and more expensive. .

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Along those lines:

      “In order to be authorized by the government to participate in SNAP, a store must meet certain standards and fulfill certain responsibilities. It must keep a specific amount and variety of food in stock. “

      I’d like to see a list of those “standards” and “responsibilities” seeing as 7-Eleven and Dollar Stores qualify. Hopefully that will be covered in the next installment.

      But whenever Walmart and SNAP are mentioned in close proximity, I always come back to the same question–how is it that Walmart is not a staunch supporter of an INCREASE in this particularly filthy, anti-capitalist, sloth-promoting, liberal-left concocted, anti-American, Marxist, commie-loving socialist abomination of a program?

      It would appear that their very life, or at least their stock price, depends on it. Could get a little uncomfortable for the boys in Bentonville in that ever-tightening space between that capitalist rock and corporate hard place.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Bull’s Eye, Skeptic.

      It’s not ‘food.’ It’s more than making sure people don’t go hungry. (What were we thinking in the 50’s…DDT…record harvests, but not health, not organic). It’s quality food.

      Similarly, it’s not jobs. It’s quality jobs. Job Guarantee is not enough. It’s Job Quality Guarantee.

      That’s when we look at more than those out of work.

      We need to look at and help those not happy at work too.

  7. James Levy

    The Supremes have fixed on a facet of the Constitution that nobody thinks about any more–that it does not guarantee the right to vote but sets Federal voting standards as that of the lower house of the state you are in. They’ve secretly embraced this anachronism, I believe, as the lynch pin of a campaign to roll back voting rights to those of the first decades of the Republic. Why not? It’s what those holy supermen “The Founders” intended for us (sounds like a scifi novel). I am sure that Roberts and Scalia and Thomas at least do not believe that we have any such right as the franchise. To them it is a privilege, one that is fungible. It certainly isn’t primal and preeminent the way they view property. So why shouldn’t rich people be able to use their property (money–which ironically isn’t property because you can’t own greenbacks, but that’s beside the point) to purchase that which they deserve–political entre and influence. Hell, it’s an evil constraint of their liberty to prevent them from buying that which they wish to purchase! Such, I believe, is the underlying logic bent on destroying universal suffrage and one-man, one-vote.

    1. Linden

      And yet, those mighty warriors of the franchise were there in Bush v. Gore to prevent Florida from possibly harming the chances of their hand-picked president through enforcement of its pesky state voting laws. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  8. Eureka Springs

    “McCutcheon Ruling Requires Americans to Reclaim Democracy” – Public Citizen

    Perhaps people who think this way should demonstrate when we ever had democracy… and define the term – say what it would look like. When I hear the word democracy as in someone wanting to pretend we have it, reclaim it or in any way pretend it ever existed in the US, I now think of the longest con in the American zeitgeist.

    1. James Levy

      During certain periods in American history (1830-60, 1904-1920, 1933-72) the mass electorate had an impact on national policies. This is not really democracy but it is more than what we have today, where there is no choice, except on certain social policies. What I think is inescapable is that the influence of the electorate is rapidly disappearing, and this is a bad thing.

      1. Eureka Springs

        I can agree with everything you say. But fleeting moments or decades of democracyesqueness doth not a democracy make. Ian Welsh tried similar arguments yesterday. I think people can make a difference around the edges, but not in a peaceful democratic manner on significant changes.

        As an aside, I’m not even sure we the people would choose democracy if given the choice (then or now). Had we the people been given the opportunity at some point to vote on our constitution in developmental increments as well as the final document we would have a much better idea…. because the constitution we have now, passed by a few rather quickly (without debate or much public notice at all) with much arm twisting among those few certainly made sure democracy would not rule the day.

        1. Jess

          If you want to check out some Constitutional amendment reform suggestions you might be interested in those presented in my novel, PUBLIC ENEMIES, available in h/c, p/b and Kindle from Amazon. 4.4 out of 5 star rating on 38 reviews.

  9. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The Consumer Student

    An excellent article, chock full of money quotes. My favorites:

    “All here are victims of perhaps the most dangerous extremism of our times: market fundamentalism. Here the market is literally a god – a providential mechanism that will determine the futures of both individuals and institutions.”


    “The message that is persistently being sent out is that democratically engaged, educated, assertive and committed young people are not ideal citizens; they are demonised as dangerous, liable to erupt at any time unless monitored constantly and prevented from asserting themselves. This should worry anyone who has an investment in meaningful democracy rather than one reduced to consumer choice.

    And last, but undoubtedly MOST important:

    “…. Frederick Douglass’s famous words that bear constant repetition: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Yes, great piece — right on the money!
      of note: in the U.S., 70% of faculty is casualized ‘adjunct’: crap pay and no benefits.
      The author cites 30% in the U.K.

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      I have noted an increasing tendency of politicians and policy makers to refer to the residents of the US as “consumers” rather than as “citizens”. Being denominated as a “citizen” implies that one enjoys agency. Perish the thought. Consumers, on the other hand, are merely presented with unsatisfactory alternatives, and are expected to accept this without complaint. Agency is neither desired nor encouraged. The politicians and policy makers are letting you know what they think of you; to them it is a fait accompli.

      1. Gareth

        My wife worked at our local polling place yesterday. On a leaflet that was distributed to poll workers by the City Clerk’s office, voters were referred to as ‘customers’. This pisses me off almost as much as hearing the word ‘Homeland’.

        1. JerseyJeffersonian

          Yes, Gareth, this is a further extension of the “consumer” appellation, because what are “consumers” but “customers” after all. And as “customers”, I guess if we can’t find anything we want among the offerings, we can take our business elsewhere. Oh, wait.

          When I first heard the word “Homeland” applied to the nation, I immediately flashed on the German word, Heimatland. What They really meant to say was “Bantustan”, but that had other unfortunate resonances.

  10. Jackrabbit

    File under: You just can’t make this sh!t up.

    Caught on tape/otherwise revealed (probably by Russia):

    – NATO-member Turkey plans false flag attack to start war with Syria (an attack on Turkey would be considered to be an attack on all NATO countries).

    – Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian Presidential Candidate favored by US displays her bitterness and animosity toward Russians – confirming Russia’s concerns

    – Nuland: “F@#k the EU” – hints at plans for overthrow of Ukrainian govt (saying quick steps could mean landing “jelly-side up”) and plans new govt of Ukraine govt

    – Saudi King Threatens Terrorism at Sochi Olympics if Putin continues support for Assad

    And all of these appear to have been confirmed directly or indirectly.

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      All the stuff that during the Age of Clinton was called ‘conspiracist’ thinking is being verified by mainstream media with a shrug or bland assurances that it’s all for our own good.

      1. Synopticist

        Ahh, the MSM these days…
        Pure lies and BS all the way. We’ve all longsince stopped believing them, but there are still some who do.

  11. Jim A

    Re: Bitcoin.
    Just as any new media will be used for porn, any new method of payment will be used for money-laundering and criminal activity. Now I’m all in favor of giving competition to the rent-seeking of CC companies and others in the business of processing payments. But any system that avoids having the controls and legal limts put on those processing payments will be used for drug payments, scam artists and those whose primary objective is avoiding those controls.

    1. allcoppedout

      I agree Jim – but I think the big Bitcoin story is just how easy it might be to set up clearing banking and how cheap it could be.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      The USD has served the money-launderers and criminals quite well. The disenfranchisement of holders and controllers of dollars can’t come soon enough.

    1. borkman

      Not buying it.

      Normally takes 6-9 months to evict someone in New York City. Housing statutes are very favorable to tenants and housing court judges are sensitive to abusive landlords and rules-bending tenants.

      Graeber says his family has been in the apartment for 52 years. His apartment is almost certainly rent regulated, either rent stabilized or rent controlled. Landlords are really eager to get tenants like that out and watch like hawks for violations. Most common ones are charging roommates too much for rent (tenants can charge roommates only their pro-rata share) or illegal sublets (landlords can’t “unreasonably withhold” a tenant’s right to sublet, but doing it legally is a pain in the ass, and some landlords take their sweet time to discourage the subtenant).

      Graeber could fight the eviction in court. Either he didn’t or he lost. Those are significant omissions.

      1. allcoppedout

        I guess we have to wait for the full story. I have to say my own dealings with authority of late I should have been far more paranoid.

      2. nobody

        He’s saying that he “was there when the buildings opened and we moved in 3 years later & have always been on the income affidavit etc” but he “wasn’t on the original occupancy agreement because it was signed before [he] was born.” That his “mom…tried to fix this when she was terminally ill but they continually stalled her until she was dead.” He “had an incompetent [attorney], but getting a good one would have meant digging in & doing battle in the courts for ages.” To fight it he would “have had to drop pretty much all other activist & intellectual projects and still not been guaranteed of victory.”

        1. nobody

          Asked by a journalist from the New York Daily News “What role does it look like police intel played here?”, he responded: “well I can’t really go over it on twitter at this point.”

        2. borkman

          Glad for the detail. Another way to look at this:

          1. There are steps family members can go through to get a lease transferred from one party to another. Graeber never bothered doing it until his mother was terminally ill. Oh, and it normally does take a long time. Friends in a similar situation had it take a year.

          2. Another way Graeber could have gotten the lease: living with his dying mother for at least a month before she passed away. Know someone different whose long term plan had been to inherit his mother’s lease. He and his wife moved in with her when she started getting feeble. But she died unexpectedly, he hadn’t been living there a month, and so he lost the apt.

          So he wasn’t willing to live with her or the “police”/landlord established that the apt. wasn’t his primary residence (he wasn’t living there at least half the time). Some buildings track every time tenants enter and leave just to be able to determine that.

  12. Garrett Pace

    Consumers are souring on Web, post-NSA

    “Almost half the more than 2,000 adult respondents (47%) to a recent Harris poll commissioned by security firm ESET said that they have changed their behavior and think more carefully about where they go, say and do online.”

    I think that is one of the NSA’s main goals – an anxious and circumspect citizenry.

    1. Ulysses

      It certainly is one of their main goals. We need to start thinking seriously about what sort of Samizdat techniques may work best to keep free thought alive– when the NSA and friends go even more full-bore Stasi than they have already!!

      1. Peter Pan

        I liked the comment by the woman that was rent extracted out of SF and into Oakland:

        “I’m incredibly excited for the island to become a reality. Planning to finally get my SoMa apartment back.”

        – Laura P., new Oakland resident

      2. Strangely Enough

        As Silicon Island’s official food, Soylent will be kept in ample stock. Stay well-fed and healthy, without ever needing to cook. In fact, the island will have no kitchens.

        Kinda gives the game away there…

  13. Bill Frank

    “A Supreme Court out of control! How McCutcheon will spur corruption and inequality”

    This decision isn’t such a big deal. Nothing more than a continuation of past practice. Did anyone really expect anything else? We are already saturated in corruption and inequality.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Zebra stripes, riddle finally solved?

    In science, there is no finality.

    Only the current best explanation.

    This is another of on-going abuses of science. And this happens everyday, without people paying any attention.

    In the meantime, though, perhaps zebra shirts and zebra pants will be in fashion in nations where bug repellents are popular.

    1. optimader

      Of course there doesn’t need to be only one explanation.

      Successful evolutionary vectors can have more than one driving force. Patterns on prey that sap energy from predators by confusing their interpretation of speed and direction may be a strategy most successfully exploited by the healthiest (fastest), least fly infested Zebra.

  15. Jagger

    If we really want high health insurance enrollment within Obamacare, all we have to do is increase the penalty to the point where it is less painful to buy the health insurance than it is to pay the penalty. Voila! Of course, don’t expect a lot of happy customers or voters.
    I imagine there are a lot of industries that would like the same deal as the health insurance industry. They must be green with envy and asking their lobbiests, “why not us”?

  16. JohnB

    Article on increasing homelessness in Ireland – with rising rent costs putting private accommodation increasingly out of reach for many, reduced welfare rent allowance in the face of rising rents, and inadequate social housing with a significant backlog/waiting list of people waiting for social housing (and next to nothing being done to curtail the backlog):

    Seems like increasing homelessness is a trend that is going to keep on growing, with the end being no more in sight than, our mythical economic recovery…

  17. optimader

    YIF you are chained to your publisher for all format rights, perhaps consider posting your publisher contact information relative to reader solicitation for an audio book format.
    I think Econned could be a very popular in audio format.

    Just a thought

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    That antidote with sharks, it looks like an impressionist painting by Van Gogh.

    I think the photo is worth about $20 million.

    1. abynormal

      WoW BeeF…my first impression too!
      a few of my Gogh favs
      “It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.”

      “Exaggerate the essential, leave the obvious vague.”

      “I will not live without love.”

      “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, ‘You can’t do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can’t’ once and for all.” (!)

      “As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.”

      “If I am worth anything later, I am worth something now. For wheat is wheat, even if people think it is a grass in the beginning.”

  19. optimader

    Whats not to love here, the 21st century Animal Farm only better!
    This cinched it for me! I sent an email asking if they have a vendor on board w/ the program to supply fully automatic pistols and cocaine, or it it’s up to member to bring their own?

    “..One of the most important productivity tricks is a healthy work-life balance. We strongly believe that the people who party big enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. So Silicon Island will have a vibrant nightlife scene. Few laws apply, so you can fully express yourself. ..”

  20. Peter Pan

    IMF managing director Christine Lagarde warns that economic problems could spill over from Ukraine unless its crisis is “well managed”.

    Ha ha !! Too late. Say hello to a country that will be significantly worse off than any of the PIIGS after the IMF/EU/USA gets done with them. Ukraine got fooled again.

    Now tie in the economic and noncooperation sanctions on both sides and a “spill over” is guaranteed.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      More spill-over: anti-corruption drive will be subtractive to the Chinese GDP and that’s a good thing.

  21. Whitney MacMillan's fanged scolex

    Starting to see the ‘free-trade’ secret tribunals as a corporatist attempt to end-run state responsibility doctrine. The US tried and failed to derail state responsibility last October. Here’s a digested part relating to compensation for internationally wrongful acts:

    “lost profits have not been as commonly awarded in practice as compensation for accrued losses. Tribunals have been reluctant to provide compensation for claims with inherently speculative elements. In the context of claims for lost profits, there is a corresponding preference for claims to be based on past performance rather than forecasts. For example, the UNCC guidelines on valuation of business losses in decision 9 state: “The method of a valuation should therefore be one that focuses on past performance rather than on forecasts and projections into the future”. Compared with tangible assets, profits (and intangible assets which are income-based) are relatively vulnerable to commercial and political risks, and increasingly so the further into the future projections are made. In cases where lost future profits have been awarded, it has been where an anticipated income stream has attained sufficient attributes to be considered a legally protected interest of sufficient certainty to be compensable This has normally been achieved by virtue of contractual arrangements or, in some cases, a well-established history of dealings.”

    Still, the commentary lists 3 things that could justify compensation:
    – Temporary loss of use and enjoyment of the asset
    – Unlawful taking of income-producing property
    – Impairment of contractually protected interests.

    Do you see profit projections affected by state regulatory actions in compliance with the law on universal health, labor, privacy, or resource rights? Me neither.

    1. JTFaraday

      Filing a claim for damages based on my fantasy future sounds like a better idea to me anyway. Could be these people have the right idea.

  22. Hugh

    Roberts’ opinion in McCutcheon further exalts wealth in this country. It is important to remember that with the exception of the 20 years between Brown in 1954 and Roe in 1973, the Supreme Court has not sought to uphold the rule of law or the Constitution but rather to defend and expand class privilege. For the other 200 years, it has fought for the haves against the have-not rest of us. When wealth was measured in property, it defended the propertied against the unpropertied. When that property included slaves, it defended slavery. When (post-Civil War) wealth came from controlling labor, it fought against unions and for sweatshops and child labor (and institutionalized racism as with the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson). When FDR came in with his emergency programs in the midst of the Great Depression, the Court struck them down. Nor should we forget that it was only 14 years ago that the Court staged a palace coup in the 2000 Presidential election.

    The Warren Court was the only time in American history that the Supreme Court was on the side of ordinary Americans even some of the time. For this, it has been endlessly reviled and demonized. And “Federalists” like Roberts have made it their life’s work to undo the little that was gained during this period.

    I can not help but quote the opening lines of the syllabus to the opinion:

    “The right to participate in democracy through political contributions is protected by the First Amendment, but that right is not absolute. Congress may regulate campaign contributions to protect against corruption or the appearance of corruption. It may not, however, regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics, or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others.”

    This statement exudes hypocrisy at every pore. Roberts is not talking about “participation in democracy” but the purchase and ownership of the political process by those of his class. Big Money = Corruption of the political process. Roberts naturally can not accept this self-evident proposition so he simply gives us a Big Lie that the two somehow have no intrinsic connection to each other. And then there is the last line that can be translated as: Nothing should be allowed which restricts the political dominance of the rich in order to enhance the relative influence of everyone else.

    We need to keep repeating this. The Supreme Court does not deserve our respect. It is not legitimate. It is not an impartial arbiter of law and the Constitution. It cares nothing about the rights of the American people, only those of the rich and powerful, and with one too brief aberration in its 220 years, this has always been the case.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “The right to participate in democracy through political contributions is protected by the First Amendment, but that right is not absolute.”

      OK, so I am not a lawyer, and I ask this question sincerely. Is there REALLY a case to be made that the first amendment protects participation “in democracy through political contributions?” Doesn’t the first amendment use the word SPEECH?

      Is there no case to be made, in governance of the country, that WORDS should be assumed to MEAN what the majority of the citizens would EXPECT them to mean?

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      Lawrence Lessig starkly points out that the self-styled “Originalists” on the court are no such thing in a post at the Daily Beast:

      Of course, Mr. Lessig actually gives a shit about “original intent” enough to have carefully parsed the meaning of the word/concept “corruption” to the minds of the founding fathers, and not some narrowly-defined concept from far later in history and political culture.

      But then, can you really imagine Holder and his merry bunch a) caring enough to think this comprehensively on the matter, and throwing the sophistic BS back into the teeth of the extremist conservative wing on the court, and b) being motivated to do so out of ideological conviction that their reading would be an injustice? Holder the Whore is likely sympathetic to the ruling, but for reasons of the “optics” he had to put up a token defense. As George Carlin would have no doubt noted, Holder is “in the club” and we, his ostensible clients, most assuredly are not.

      So not only do we not have a friend in the Supreme Court, we don’t have one in the Executive. And I think that it goes without saying that we don’t have a friend in the Legislature, either. Rude, Screwed, Tattooed.

    3. Synopticist

      Yes, I’ve always been perplexed how in the UK there are left-liberal types who want more power given to the Supreme Court over here. They clearly haven’t learned that courts favour power and money just as much as politicians do, the only difference being you don’t get a chance to vote the bast*rds out occasionally.

  23. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    From High Frequency Trading Too Efficient about some paradox –

    ‘This is the idea that if markets are efficient — if market prices accurately reflect all the information in the world — then there’s no incentive for anyone to invest any time or money or effort into finding more information. And if no one goes looking for information, then there’s no way for market prices to be accurate. ‘

    But markets don’t stay the same. You need to look for how it changes and which factors will be more relevant (or simply completely new factors*), and new information or data on these now-important factors.

    I am not sure that is a paradox.

    * Unlike century-old observations of the same (more or less) physical universe, which a new physics theory must be able to explain as well – the object under observation being more or less the same – a new economic theory today may not be able to explain observations made in Marx’ time, if we are dealing with different mechanisms, processes or conditions.

    1. optimader

      This is the idea that if markets are efficient — if market prices accurately reflect all the information in the world.

      And that idea is wrong out of the blocks. Markets don’t reflect all the information in the world because market are populated with lunatic investors, idiots, liars, opportunists, chumps and predators and large entities that cant move into our out of positions quickly. The consequence are events like irrational bubbles, corrections and short squeezes.

    2. skippy

      Phantastic objects and the financial market’s sense of reality: A psychoanalytic contribution to the understanding of stock market instability

      financial bubbles;
      group functioning;
      market instability;
      phantasy relationships;

      This paper sets out to explore if standard psychoanalytic thinking based on clinical experience can illuminate instability in financial markets and its widespread human consequences. Buying, holding or selling financial assets in conditions of inherent uncertainty and ambiguity, it is argued, necessarily implies an ambivalent emotional and phantasy relationship to them. Based on the evidence of historical accounts, supplemented by some interviewing, the authors suggest a psychoanalytic approach focusing on unconscious phantasy relationships, states of mind, and unconscious group functioning can explain some outstanding questions about financial bubbles which cannot be explained with mainstream economic theories. The authors also suggest some institutional features of financial markets which may ordinarily increase or decrease the likelihood that financial decisions result from splitting off those thoughts which give rise to painful emotions. Splitting would increase the future risk of financial instability and in this respect the theory with which economic agents in such markets approach their work is important. An interdisciplinary theory recognizing and making possible the integration of emotional experience may be more useful to economic agents than the present mainstream theories which contrast rational and irrational decision-making and model them as making consistent decisions on the basis of reasoning alone.

      skippy…. hyper competition in a numerical void becomes an enders game[???]… one wonders what might happen if externalities were some how experienced, within real time, for the gamers.

  24. fresno dan

    Nigella Lawson barred from boarding US-bound flight Telegraph. Huh? Russell Brand has said he was a heroin addict. I’m not clear on why Nigella’s confession led to this outcome. Was it because it was in court, and not merely in the media? I’m not a Nigella fan, but the border rules are becoming more stringent and look increasingly capricious.

    UH, isn’t is obvious? She’s known for “Nigella Bites”
    Homeland Security is full of the dullest paring knifes in the drawer
    Obliviously, America (or American men) are in grave danger from this woman
    You probably think that’s sarcasm. I worked at the NSA when I was in the Air Force and I saw rationales even more specious than that.

  25. abynormal

    Yellowstone Volcano Eruption in 2014? Are Animals Fleeing Park As ‘An Alert’?

    Videos of bison seemingly fleeing Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming have sparked concerns among some bloggers that recent seismic activity could trigger the eruption of the park’s so-called supervolcano.

    “Whether I believe this, or whether I don’t believe the story or not, I don’t know. I can tell you this story I saw this morning about the buffaloes running the street … whether or not it’s because of any activity in Yellowstone or not, I don’t know,” said blogger Jay Lee, who posted a story on his site

    “But I’ll tell you this, whatever the case may be, that their running away from Yellowstone is an alert of some sort.”

    1. psychohistorian

      Thanks for the link. Interesting speculation and geological perspective.

      If the aliens can’t come and save us from ourselves then maybe a jolt by our planet into some serious humility may change perspectives. It can’t come soon enough for me.

    1. Hugh

      Jobs and employment always go up in the spring. The problem is the jobs being created are by and large crap in terms of wages and the benefit they confer to our society. Note too is making the common MSM mistake of treating trendline numbers as real and the use of indices rather than actual, real numbers of jobs. The stock of a job recruiting agency has gone up. Conclusion: job markets are healing, blah, blah, blah.

  26. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the photos of abandoned malls from BuzzFeed. Living in a predominantly rural area, I was unaware there are so many. With some large legacy retailers that serve as anchors for many malls reportedly under financial pressure, I expect this could become a trend. It will be interesting to see what becomes of these spaces over time.

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