Links 5/10/14

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Help! Elephant ate my iphone. LiveLeak. Furzy mouse: “Video on link….hysterical!!​”

Sheepdogs condemn glass ceiling in the workplace Daily Mash

Semelparous videos, news and facts BBC (Richard Smith)

Appeals Court Doesn’t Understand The Difference Between Software And An API; Declares APIs Copyrightable techdirt (Chuck L). Aieee.

Router company that threatened a reviewer loses Amazon selling license ars technica (bob)

Pope Francis urges governments to redistribute wealth to the poor — maybe even half of it Raw Story (furzy mouse)

South Sudan government, rebels agree to cease-fire DW

Obama resets the ‘pivot’ to Asia Asia Times

Goldman probed over Asia hiring practices Financial Times. Oh, and HFT too.

Anti-government protesters take over Thai television stations Sydney Morning Herald

Draghi performs euro conjuring trick Financial Times

Another proof for the fact that Greece has been sold to banksters unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens

London black taxis plan congestion chaos to block Uber BBC (bob). Interestingly, readers at Slashdot, which skews libertarian, are pretty supportive. If this succeeds, it might mark a turn of the tide from when Thatcher broke the coal miners’ union in the early 1980s.

A Brief History of the Bank of England’s Endogenous Money Policies: An Ode to Roy Harrod Phillip Pilkington

Please Don’t Cry For Bottomfeeding Barclays Bank 21st Century Wire


Ukraine crisis: Vladimir Putin visits annexed Crimea BBC. The use of “annexed” is par for the course for Western media.

Ukraine Refuses Russian Gas Price Hike Market Pulse. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Ukraine: Today’s Incursion Into Mariupol Moon of Alabama

Civil War Has Begun in Ukraine; U.S. Backs Neo-Nazis against the Democrats; U.S. Media Suppress that News George Washington

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The NSA’s Corporate Collaborators CounterPunch

The NSA and Snowden: Securing the All-Seeing Eye Communications of the ACM

Obamacare Launch

Employers Eye Moving Sickest Workers To Insurance Exchanges Kaiser Health News

Axing Obamacare’s employer mandate would do little harm, study says CNBC. Would love to see how they arrived at this conclusion.

Why the FCC Is Ditching Net Neutrality Mother Jones (Jeff)

FCC’s Tom Wheeler Says He’ll Ask For Public Comment On Whether It’s Appropriate To Reclassify Broadband techdirt (Chuck L)

Comcast offers Internet access for $10 a month — sort of Washington Post

First Million-Dollar Drug Near After Prices Double on Dozens of Treatments Bloomberg (Francois T)

US politicians step up Pfizer scrutiny over deal for AstraZeneca Financial Times

Schumer, Warren, other key Democrats will not support Johnson-Crapo Housing Wire. As predicted.

EXCLUSIVE: Christie officials gave millions in public funds to VC firm, despite “pay to play” rules David Sirota, Pando

FBI investigating death threats, intimidation, and weapons violations at Bundy ranch Raw Story

Protesters quietly take a stand at meeting Alburquerque Journal. Ken G: “Here is a video of one of the most beautiful peacful protests I’ve seen recently.”

Chicago Teachers Union passes resolution opposing Common Core Washington Post

Protestant Church Faces New Sex-Abuse Scandal as Victims Defy Threats, Censorship to Speak Out Democracy Now (Chuck L)

Tennessee Deputies Arrested Student for Video Recording on Night Choking Photos went Viral Photography is Not a Crime (furzy mouse)

Fed Homes in On ‘Shadow Banking’ Wall Street Journal

Goldman bets on gang members keeping out of jail Bloomberg (David P). I don’t have time to shred this, but astute readers can tell this article is stenography. Short form debunking: there’s no reason to launder either charity or government support though financial services firms. All it does is add costs. Housing finance is a bigger illustration of this problem. The subsidies often go to the wrong people and it’s even more difficult to measure their effectiveness than if they were direct.

The Average Stock Is In A Bear Market Business Insider

American dynamism dimmed Economist

The Six Principles of the New Populism (and the Establishment’s Nightmare) Common Dreams (Lawrence R)

Obama’s Top Economist Has Some Problems With Piketty’s Book New York Times. How about the one Doug Smith pointed out: 700 pages on a problem and only one solution.

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. diptherio

      A moment of passion at feeding time.

      Whatever is going on there, that guy is enjoying it…notice how he’s got his left arm wrapped around the beast–he’s pulling the thing in, not trying to push it away. Love knows no bounds…

      1. allcoppedout

        Sea lions do sign language Dip. This one is explaining he left a training bomb in that bucket and remote detonation is immanent if the fish don’t turn up soon.

        1. allcoppedout

          Or we could be watching killer whale evolution and their first steps back to land.

            1. allcoppedout

              If the Eodelphis kabatensis find is right, the toothed whales have been waiting 13 million years for this moment.

    2. Jagger

      A few years back, I had driven up north of Santa Cruz, Ca. I parked my car and went down to a deserted area near the ocean and started walking south. And after awhile, I stumbled amonst hundreds and hundreds of Sea Lions on shore all along the beach. Impressive sight. And the Male Sea Lion is absolutely huge but fairly clumsy. The one in the photo looks kind of small.

      1. Klassy

        Sea Lion looks like he is wearing a wig. For some reason he is reminding me of David St. Hubbins even thought the “hair” color is wrong.
        The other day the porpoise antidote reminded me of a pair of salt and pepper shakers so maybe I am off with my impressions of sea mammals.

        1. craazyboy

          When I first glanced at that pic this morning, before finishing my first cup of coffee, I thought “Holy Crap – That guy is being attacked by a werewolf!”

          Then my eyes slowly came into focus and I noticed the little seals, then realized it was just a big hairy seal – like it was a cross with a lion or something.

        1. allcoppedout

          We specifically designed him that way for the US Navy after the dolphins went on strike demanding more fish.

  1. Banger

    Re: Pope’s message

    This Pope is asking us to re-discover Christian teachings and move away from the what much of Christianity has become–a religion of the Pharisees.

    It is, in every way, a good thing to balance out the vast disparities in wealth. The culture of the rich, for those who know it, is perverse and ugly because it worships at the shrine of separation and exclusivity. That culture does nothing but damage rich people as human beings from what I’ve seen directly. To share is also to connect and to connect is to allow yourself to experience the greatest human pleasures. When we increase human happiness–and it would be so easy for the rich to do this everyone benefits and people can relax and be in the moment far easier than we see today.

    The notions that come from Christianity are certainly not exclusive to Christianity and I hope this Pope moves in the direction that the last great Pope, John XXIII, was moving towards–dialogue and cooperation between all religions who all emphasize compassion and connection.

    1. David Lentini

      It’s been so gratifying to see a Pope really stand up for the Church’s Social Justice teachings. My wife just joined the Church, and I returned after many years; we’ve been so excited by the new Pontiff’s statements and actions.

      1. Procopius

        I am not a Christian, although I admire what little is known of Yeshua bin Yusif’s teachings. Their vision of a Creator God is contrary to anything I could accept, but I am glad to see they finally got a spokesman who shares my understanding of the points Reb Yeshua was making, as far as we know.

    2. savedbyirony

      He has been taking steps towards co-operation and dialogue with other religions and POVs (for example, he has also reached out to atheists). Just an added comment, in the book he co-wrote with the head Rabbi of of his home country, he stated that if it were up to him he would open up all the still sealed Vatican records concerning WWII and the Holocaust, and i wish someone would perhaps publicly remind him of this.

    3. savedbyirony

      Also to add, Francis appears (so far), however, to be not one step farther down the road towards cooperating, dialoguing and treating females with equal dignity and empowerment.

    4. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      I don’t think Jesus is aware of what has been done to his message.

      Too bad — it would be really entertaining to witness him mete out a little vengeance on the money changers in the temple.

    5. mk

      If the UN calls priestly pedophilia torture, I’d say that’s real progress compared to Pope Francis’ actions to protect the church.
      Experts said a finding by the committee that the systematic abuse amounted to torture could have drastic legal implications for the church as it continues to battle civil litigation around the world resulting from the decades-long scandal that saw tens of thousands of children raped and molested by priests.

      Katherine Gallagher, a human rights attorney for the New York-based nonprofit legal group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, said such a finding could open the floodgates to abuse lawsuits dating back decades because there are no statutes of limitations on torture cases. Gallagher, whose group represents Vatican sex scandal victims, said rape can legally constitute a form of torture because of the elements of intimidation, coercion, and exploitation of power.

      “The torture committee’s questions really were about sexual violence and rape, and they made it clear that these acts fall within the definition of torture and the Vatican’s obligations under the torture convention,” she said after the hearing.

      “A recognition by the torture committee that this is one of the most significant crimes could really open up a new level of prosecutions and accountability,” she added.

      1. gordon

        I’ll believe the redistribution message when the Catholic Church starts redistributing some of its own wealth – and compensates the victims of its sexual abuse.

          1. Procopius

            There was a story about a bishop in New Jersey who has used several million dollars of church money to build a mansion intended to be his retirement home. I would be very pleased to see Pope Francis order him to Rome for a little retraining and then order him to Gabon as a missionary. For the good of his soul, you understand.

  2. David Lentini

    Three Cheers for the CTU! Now What Will the Dems. Do?

    The CTU resolution shows how the rank and file teachers are finally stepping up against the national unions that sucked up to Bill Gates. Given Obama’s and Duncan’s move to punish those states that have backed away from the Common Core deal straightjacket, and the growing move by conservatives to attack Common Core, the state Dem. parties could be in for a rude shock this Fall if they don’t act now.

    Here in Maine, the state GOP approved a very strong anti-CCSS platform amendment sponsored by a member of No Common Core Maine, despite the strong attachment of the state’s former Commissioner of Education, Steve Bowen, appointed by Tea Partier Paul LePage, to the CCSS reforms.

    I sent the following to Maine’s House Leader, Democrat Mark Eves. (So far, no answer.)

    Hi, Mark!

    It’s been too long since we were last in touch, but I’ve been figuring that you’re way too busy for me to bother you over anything too frivolous. Now, however, I have an issue that I think is important enough to ask for your attention: the Common Core State Standards (“CCSS”). I started researching the Standards last year, when it became apparent SAD 60 would have to change (“align”) its curriculum to them as required by Maine’s Department of Education. I’ve now become so concerned that the CCSS is really a move to destroy our local control, that I’ve joined No Common Core Maine to fight its imposition on our schools and wrote an op-ed in the Press Herald about my concerns. I think CCSS will be a hot issue in the elections, and I fear that the GOP will use this effectively against the Democrats if you don’t act quickly and boldly.

    Common Core is developing into a big campaign issue. Although the CCSS has been around for several years now, and 45 states agreed to implement it as long ago as 2009–2010, only in the past two years have we seen the real affects of implementation. The public is getting mad, especially over the high-stakes testing required by the CCSS, and the states are starting to drop out. About 30 of the 45 states have legislation pending to end or limit CCSS implementation. Nine states have quit the testing programs for CCSS, and four more are actively debating quitting. Parents in New York have formed a very strong alliance that lead to the implosion of inBloom, a company founded by Bill Gates, to analyze and use CCSS testing data. Washington and Indiana have both dropped such key portions of the CCSS that the U.S. Department of Education has or is threatening to rescind their waivers of penalties under NCLB. A recent poll by the University of Connecticut shows that the more familiar the public becomes with CCSS, the more they hate it.

    Despite the fact that much of the support for the legislation behind the CCSS at the state and federal levels has come from the Republicans, they have been moving quickly not only to drop any association with them but to take the role of dragon slayer. Perhaps you noticed that Maine’s GOP platform includes strong language supporting the elimination of CCSS. (That language was introduced by a No Common Core Maine’s member, by the way.) The conservative media has been in full combat mode against CCSS for months now. Polls show that a large majority of Republicans are against CCSS.

    But it’s not just Republicans who are attacking the CCSS. The teachers unions are also turning on it. Both the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers have backed off from their earlier endorsements of CCSS. The MEA, as I’m sure you know, has just asked for a testing moratorium. The Chicago Teachers Union just passed a major resolution calling for the abandonment of CCSS. Meredith and other teachers have told me privately that many teachers are against CCSS, but are afraid of reprisals from their principals and superintendents if they speak out.

    Yet despite all of these warning signs, the Obama administration appears to keep doubling down on CCSS. Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, has starting punishing states that have withdrawn from key aspects of the Standards. Duncan has also been quite nasty to parents and administrators who have questioned the Standards and testing.

    I’m worried that in a tight three-way gubernatorial race this year, as Maine begins to implement CCSS in earnest, Governor LePage will use CCSS as a major campaign issue unless the state Democrat party takes serious action now. Given the growing concerns over the real affects of CCSS on the schools and teachers, I wonder how many teachers—one of the most natural and reliable constituencies for the Democrats—will quietly vote Republican. That would be a disaster, especially this year.

    To understand why CCSS has engendered such animosity, please take a look at my piece in the Press Herald a few weeks ago. I’ll spare you a recapitulation of the article, other than to point out that what we call the “Common Core State Standards” is in reality a combination of several major programs including standards, testing, data collection, and test-based teacher evaluation, that together are designed to create a national curriculum and weaken both the teaching profession and local control. Many of the key selling points for this program have been shown to be lies, and the costs for implementing the programs have been far in excess of the estimates given to the public and legislators when CCSS was introduced.

    In short, CCSS has been largely a sham that is really intended to deliver public education to a handful of large corporations that will work with the US DoE to nationalize our schools and cripple the teachers unions and with them professional teaching. It’s sad to see a Democratic administration playing in this charade, but that has become all too common in Washington over the past two decades. I think the state Democrat parties that run away from Obama on this issue will do much better than those that don’t.

    I’d love to talk to you directly about these issues in more detail.


    1. tongorad

      ” It’s sad to see a Democratic administration playing in this charade…”

      The Democratic administration isn’t playing, they’re leading. You name the issue – fracking, the surveillance state, privatization, empire, etc – the Democrats are the drivers in all of these.

      1. Calgacus

        Yeah, tongorad. For example Rahm Emmanuel – major Obamite – now leads the destruction of schools, schooling and teachers in Chicago. Some of the funding opposing the fascistic and stupid education “reform” emanating from the Gates Foundation and the like has come from the Koch Brothers. Can’t say they never did anything good.

  3. Ulysses

    Heidi Boghosian hits the nail on the head in this comment quoted in the linked CounterPunch article:
    “People need to know that for all intents and purposes, the distinction right now between government and the corporate world is virtually nil. They are hand-in-hand working to gather information about Americans as well as people across the globe, to really be in a race to collect more information than any other country can, because I think in their eyes, having this information, storing it, and being able to access it for years on end is a symbol of power and control. So that you can’t really make that distinction anymore between big business and government.”
    There are indeed some folks left in the “private” sector who respect privacy rights of average people. Just not any of the big players. And it’s not just the Feds who help big business interests spy on citizens, this kind of collaboration also happens at the state and local level. Just ask anti-fracking activists in Pennsylvania:

  4. JTFaraday

    re: Obama’s Top Economist Has Some Problems With Piketty’s Book, New York Times. “How about the one Doug Smith pointed out: 700 pages on a problem and only one solution.”

    Oh, I don’t know. I generally don’t like single policy “cure-alls,” and I haven’t been following this Piketty thing too closely, but it seems to me that Piketty’s “one solution” comes much closer to addressing the kind of extreme inequality he’s talking about than anything the Obama Administration has put forward:

    “In addressing his recommended policies for fighting global inequality, Mr. Furman mentions longstanding priorities of the Obama administration, such as expanding access to preschool, striking international trade deals and raising the minimum wage.

    There is no sign he is embracing the more radical solutions for rising inequality that Mr. Piketty recommends, such as drastically higher taxes on income in the highest brackets or a global 2 percent tax on wealth.”

    It seems to me that most policy entrepreneurs today try to sell their own policy cure-alls by saying they reduce “inequality” when they do nothing of the kind.. Even when discussing that 1950s Lord Keynesian Golden Age of lessened inequality that everyone is so nostalgic for, no one wants to emphasize that FDR also raised taxes on the wealthiest:

    So, if Piketty is another bullsh*t artist, at least he’s adding a color to a rather drab rainbow.

    1. allcoppedout

      I suppose one person one vote was a move towards equality, but we ended-up with one dollar one vote. One could do inequality data in photographs. Those of us who remember nationalised industries, which we had because the private sector wasn’t up to delivering them, might wonder why we need private money at all. For as long as it has been about there has been massive inequality. Surely, it can’t be the cause? Like a Rothschild having $50 trillion can’t be why my opportunities are less than his, surely?

      Rather than Piketty’s gradualism, we could have an electronic auction about building a society we actually want and the earth can support. We would devise an honest accounting system to apportion resources. This could be robust, agile and flexible, relying on reports from the building itself to keep proportional track, and we could redesign money in terms of contribution to these projects, with Rothschild mansions and such redeployed to leisure.

      This starts as “fantasy” – but the first reality of this fantasy is to make us aware of what money currently is – not some neutral measure but connected intimately with libidinal greed and the inability to do stuff because it is right. Imagine a world in which people could earn their security building green energy projects. You lack these skills, but could equally work digging, cleaning and producing leisure resources converting a Rothschild estate. Automation might reduce the amount of work we need to do, but our honest accounting system would reproportion our credit to enjoy leisure. Sure, this would need policing, but if we were the military and police, getting credits for doing our bit this would be democratised.

      We’d need some holding plans to achieve this, but what are we scared of in not trying? Do we really think anyone has earned 5 time US GDP and it would be unfair to redistribute this and welcome the Rothschilds back to a world in which they wouldn’t just be kidnapped for ransom? Do we really think most people would not work in a world in which the vast majority got much more than now without planet burning groaf-oafism?

      Implicit on this is making money a very ordinary means of exchange and giving over its creation to the people in a system that proportionately adjusts what it is worth and can be exchanged for. This is entirely different from its purpose now which is to create libidinal excess and control, buying prostitutes, politics and dynasty. We might be properly scared of what government might be in this, but look at today’s farce.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        ‘…making money a very ordinary means of exchange and giving over its creation to the people…’

        That’s Money Creation via the Little Fishing People spending in into existence, yah?

        ‘We might be properly scared of what government might be in this, but look at today’s farce…’

        There is an equation I have been working on that goes like this:

        PP x GS = K

        In American English, it means,

        People’s Power times Government Size equals a Constant.

        When 99.99% of the people are happy, free, vigorous, healthy and strong, mentally, physically, financially, politically, there is very little need for Big Government. That’s why

        PP x GS = K

        When PP is low, it’s natural to think GS must be large to keep K constant.

        This is where charming charlatans come in.

        That GS must be the right GS, but wrong GS is possible, because GS, like everything else, has a distribution problem.


        MONEY. We have enough money. Just not distributed equally.

        FOOD. Enough food globally. The rich countries have too much and poor too little.

        GOVERNMENT SPENDING. Enough already. Too much on spying and drones.


        And so, with GS, that is, with government, Size is not Everything, because

        1. Size can be misleading. Distribution is key.
        2. By empowering the people, we lessen the need for government.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            I once confused the purpose of government with making the government big, when it fact, the purpose of government should be about making the people happy, which can be assured by empowering the people.

            I got out of that trap when I realized that, besides government, there was not just Big Business (nice nasty propaganda there), but the people as well. Small government does not imply Big Business. Small Government can be because the Big Little People.

            And, so, now I share that – because the Big Little People.

      2. JTFaraday

        “Imagine a world in which people could earn their security building green energy projects.”

        I think maybe part of the problem is that no one today is talking about enabling people to “earn their security.” Self styled “progressives” talk only about living hand to mouth.

        I think that what Piketty dredges up by talking about enduring inequalities in weath is that one can create all kinds of employment arrangements where people can earn a maintenance–let’s call it “full employment at a living wage”– doing what the state and/or the wealthy decide they should do, but not only does this not address “inequality,” but there is no way for people on “the maintenance plan” to accumulate any sort of savings.

        So, they’re surviving but they have no security and no personal autonomy, and no prospects of having any, in a world in which a lot of people are doing whatever the f*ck they want because they have the accumulated savings / wealth that makes all kinds of things possible.

        Bringing stuff like this up is bound to irk those who advocate “full employment” within the context of the current status quo, while patting themselves on the back for their enlightened views, when at best it’s still all about coercing the behavior that they want out of those available to be coerced–while also making sure they stay coerced. It’s the (non)ethic of capitalism all dressed up for people who think that if the government makes something a policy it’s more moral somehow.

        Now, I don’t know. Maybe “you’re free if you think you are” and that’s okay. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that the reason so many people joined and continue to join the contemporary rampant looting– in this era of declining opportunity to accumulate any kind of net worth at all through “jawbs”– is that they think it’s not okay.

        And it’s hard to disagree with that. So, yes, on some level the looters and their fellow travelers are technically “right,” as far as it goes, and the self styled “progressive” moralists are not particularly moral.

        It’s kind of hard to find anybody to like here.

    2. Procopius

      I haven’t read Piketty’s book yet. I probably never will. From comments about it that I’ve read, though, I don’t get why there’s so much enthusiasm. Most especially, I read one comment which stated that early in his book Piketty stated that there was no inflation prior to the industrial revolution. If that is really what Piketty said, then he is a charlatan and his whole book probably wrong. Episodes of inflation and recession (collapse of aggregate demand) are known since at least the twelfth century and there seems to be pretty good evidence going back as far as 1800 B.C.E. The sixteenth century was marked by terrible hardship due to the enormous inflation across Europe caused by the import of gold and silver from Mexico and Peru.

    1. Skeptic

      I have one of these wonderful dogs, a Border Collie from Sweets Corner, Nova Scotia thus the name Sweets. These dogs just want to go and go and go. Their energy is contagious thus it is a good geezer dog if you are up to it. They are also real Managers and want everything just so. Sweets does not tolerate loosey-goosey dogs.

      In connection with Lassie, there is a most humorous movie called Laddie with Peter Lawford. Set in WWII, Lawford is a pilot and Laddie stows away on the aircraft and they are stranded in, I think, Norway. Laddie is a complete Loser does everything wrong contrary to the usual Tinseltown formula. Lawford also shows no interest in a certain female attracted to him. Was available at everyone’s favorite file sharing site.

      1. allcoppedout

        Just been walked by Maxwell and met a woman with a chocolate Labrador. The dogs had a conversation about stupid owners taking them out in the rain. We huddled under my umbrella. Pointless when the hounds came back soaked and shaking. Maxwell got a chew and I got a bonbon. Brief Encounter or what!

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          I pre-apologize, but for a moment I thought that mutual butt-sniffing was going to take center stage in this encounter.

  5. diptherio

    Six Principles of the New Populism:

    “The darkest secret in the big money world of the Republican coastal elite is that the most palatable alternative to a nominee such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas or Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky would be Clinton,” concludes Politico.

    Remember that in 2016, when you’re standing in the polling booth, trying to figure out which of the two evils is lesser…

    1. GuyFawkesLives

      The lesser of two evils is the third party. I intend on voting for Ms. Stein again, should she choose to run.

      1. habenicht

        agreed – those who argue in terms of lesser of two evils as regards the “legacy” parties is blind to the fact that Republicans and Democrats are more the same than different for the vast majority of issues.

    2. VietnamVet

      The Iraq Invasion was so crazy, I swore I would never vote again for a Republican. Bob Ehrlich was the last one I’ve voted for. Supporting neo-nazis in Kiev is insane. After the Odessa Horror, I will not vote for a current incumbent in the Democrat Primary. If a Third Party agrees to support public service pensions, I will vote for them.

    3. Alexa

      Hear, hear, diptherio!

      Excellent post at FDL recently on this same topic!

      And regarding Robert Reich–he’s been leading a [faux ?] populism crusade for some months now.

      He’s even got a “documentary” film. It’s available to stream on Netflix (or so I read), if anyone is interested–“Inequality For All.”

      Heard him months ago talking about this film, and every other word he uttered was “cynicism.”

      By and large, it sounds like the film was made because the Democratic Party Elites are concerned that they can no longer con their Base–regarding their desire to “shore up” the so-called Middle Class.

      Plan to stream this movie sometime before the midterms. (It’s difficult to put aside 88 minutes for what probably “won’t amount to a hill of beans.”)

      We’ll see. Maybe (hopefully) I’m wrong. ;-)

  6. Klassy

    Sorry if this is unrelated to the links, but I was wondering if anyone else is feeling that there is some sort of stealth campaign to do away with the socialized medicine of the VA health care system. I understand there is a scandal going on at the VA hospitals, but I am also hearing calls to scrap the entire system. For instance, the other evening when I was cooking dinner I received a call telling me that I was being connected to a town hall meeting of a state official in the executive branch. Since I was making dinner, I kept it on speaker curious to see what this was all about. The first call was from a vet complaining about the fact that she could not see a doctor of her choice. Then, yesterday I saw an NBC military analyst declaring that a “large bureaucracy” was entirely incapable of providing quality care for veterans.
    I’m wondering if this scandal will be used for other purposes rather than some needed reform.

    1. ambrit

      A well functioning VA is a direct threat to the ACA stealth giveaway program. Critics can point to the VAs’ track record to undergird the push for single payer. It goes something like this: We have a single payer medical system that works, and works well. It’s called the VA. It embodies all the methods and systems explicitly left out of the ACA. It is cheaper, more efficient, and delivers results superior to the Private Model (TM)
      . Why are we empowering a system, the ACA, that makes health care worse? To avoid embarrassing questions like that, the VA must be killed. We cannot allow the perfectible to be the enemy of goods.

      1. Klassy

        By reform I would mean more staffing and other resources– not incentives based on meeting targets which sounds like what they have been doing. Shades of school reform? I suppose it is like the school reform movement in that the VA serves as a perfect scapegoat. No hospital system is perfect; especially when you starve the beast. Some of the problems that veterans face manifest themselves as what is labelled as “mental illness” but their problems cannot be solved simply within the health care system, even if the care is of the highest caliber.

    2. Hugh

      The VA is underfunded and suffers from most of the problems associated with a fairly low priority bureaucracy. Soldiers are only heroes and worthy of laudatory speeches when they are out getting themselves killed and maimed for God, country, and the elites (although obviously not in that order). Once they get home and are out of the service they are pretty much written off.

      The “Medal of Honor winning” military analyst NBC’s Brian Williams falls all over himself about and who advocates dismantling the VA is Jake Jacobs. An important fact about Jacobs omitted by Williams is that he is an investment banker. I don’t use linkedin but if anyone is signed in there, they might find out what boards Jacobs sits on and what his current corporate connections are. Mostly though, Medal of Honor winner or not, Jacobs is a corporate shill masquerading as an “analyst”.

      1. Klassy

        The military analysts are up to their eyeballs in conflicts of interest for sure. I believe Glenn Greenwald wrote about NBC’s in particular. I’d be interested to see who this Jacobs guy is shilliing for.
        Veterans– we’ll cut your benefits, but give you an all star salute at the Superbowl in return. Sounds like a fair trade off.

      2. OIFVet

        We were and will always be just meat to be fed to the meat grinder of the US war machine. There will always be an eager pool of poor dumb kids too young to know or care about what they are getting into to feed the grinder, so there is no incentive to treat the vets as human beings. The folks at the VA do really try though from what I have seen, they are limited in what they can do by inadequate funding. I had a very rough time after my deployment and without their counselors I would not be in a very good situation right now. I still get phone calls every few months from my counselor to check on me and I know I can go there any time without appointment if I have to.

        And as to the dishonorable colonel, his Medal of Honor does not protect him from criticism. If he is shilling on behalf of special interest and does not disclose his conflict of interests then he is fair game. To work against one’s fellow veterans is beyond simple contempt in my book.

    3. OIFVet

      Wouldn’t surprise me one bit, as Ambrit points out a well-functioning VA system is a threat to the ACA rent extraction tool. As a user of Chicago’s Jesse Brown VA hospital I must say that the care I receive there is first rate and that I have never had to wait for an appointment, urgent or routine. Matter of fact they call me like clockwork every six months to schedule routine visits. The Phoenix VA, for whatever reason, is obviously dysfunctional; still my experiences with the VA have made my previous hospital, the University of Chicago Medical Center, look like the money-grubbing hellhole and profit-first insult to the Hippocratic oath that it really is. The contrast with the patient-first care I have at the VA now is quite stark. Damn them DC assholes if they take away this valuable benefit we have earned with our blood, sweat, and sacrifices.

      1. Klassy

        Yes, the VA doesn’t have their eyes on the profits. They also don’t have an advertising budget.

      2. Paul Tioxon

        The VA is overwhelmed because it downsized facilities, not expecting another Viet Nam War size and duration cause of casualties due to the collapse of the USSR, the peace dividend. The hospital I was born in, the US Naval Hospital in Philadelphia was imploded and turned into a state of the art NFL training and practice facility. Without directing any animosity towards Ambrit, there is too much paranoid style political analysis on NC. The VA was sued in 2007 for the exact same scandal that is making the rounds in the news in 2014. The following is from WaPo 2007. Walter Reed Army Hospital used to be synonymous with Gold STandard medical care. Not any more, it closed in 2011 for good reason.

        By Dana Priest and Anne Hull
        Washington Post Staff Writers
        Sunday, February 18, 2007

        Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan’s room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

        This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

        The common perception of Walter Reed is of a surgical hospital that shines as the crown jewel of military medicine. But 5 1/2 years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable 113-acre institution into something else entirely — a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients. Almost 700 of them — the majority soldiers, with some Marines — have been released from hospital beds but still need treatment or are awaiting bureaucratic decisions before being discharged or returned to active duty.

        They suffer from brain injuries, severed arms and legs, organ and back damage, and various degrees of post-traumatic stress. Their legions have grown so exponentially — they outnumber hospital patients at Walter Reed 17 to 1 — that they take up every available bed on post and spill into dozens of nearby hotels and apartments leased by the Army. The average stay is 10 months, but some have been stuck there for as long as two years.


        1. OIFVet

          Paranoia is well-justified when it comes to the privatization of government services. Schools and prisons are being privatized, infrastructure too. Intelligence gathering, check. Hell, in Iraq we dined in KBR dining halls manned by TCNs (mostly Filipino). If you think that the VA medical system is not a juicy apple to be plucked by rent-seeking leeches then you must be very trusting of the good intentions of the politicians and their corporate paymasters.

        2. Lambert Strether

          In order to privatize VA, it must be seen to fail. Hence, it must fail. Hence, it did not “downsize,” but was downsized. Because markets. Same playbook as NHS.

    4. Vatch

      It’s possible that VA hospitals in fast growing states have more problems, in part because they haven’t been given the funding that their growth requires. Arizona, the home of the Phoenix scandal, had the second highest percentage growth in the United States from 2000 to 2010: 24.6%. The state increased by 1.26 million people during that period.

      I’ve seen reports of other scandals in South Carolina (15.3%, 613,000 people), California (10%, 3.38 million people), and San Antonio (Texas, 20.6%, 4.29 million people). Has anyone noticed whether the scandals are mostly in the fast growing states? Other fast growing states by percentage are Nevada (35.1%, 702,000 people) and Utah (23.8%, 530,000 people). By numbers, other fast growers are Florida (17.6%, 2.8 million people), Georgia (18.3%, 1.5 million people), and North Carolina (18.5%, 1.48 million people). Source for the growth numbers: (5 megabytes)

    5. m.

      About the VA and the GATS/TISA privatizations of public services globally.

      The WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services only has very narrow exemptions to its mandate to basically privatize everything. The US is one of the biggest fans of the GATS as we use investor-state suits under GATS and other FTAs to challenge “trade barriers” in many other countries. This seems to now mean that the US is taking great pains to assert the broadest possible interpretation of GATS, which is basically also the WTO’s position. So we are seeing a virtual war on all remaining public services, however, because the US media seems to try to not cover any news about these FTAs at all, nobody seems to realize that the WTO GATS agreement is behind innumerable privatizations and that they then can become permanent, superseding national laws. Therefore one bad administration can permanently make it impossible for a country to have affordable health care forever by immortalizing the set of conditions that existed at its signing in the international legal equivalent of carving in stone

      Once a multinational firm gets involved in the US health care services industry, they and other for profit firms get to remain in that industry forever, making any future public involvement impossible as it becomes costly. See the discussion in this paper.

      Decisions are made by a secret WTO tribunal and do not reflect American values, they enforce a completely different, alien moral code which sees many positive things as bad. Also, in addition to being absolutely irreversible, there is no accountability..

      Similar privatization pressures apply in the K12 and postsecondary education industries and the postal/delivery industries. Almost nothing is clearly exempted. Perhaps soldiers on active duty during wartime ARE exempted, however, as long as there are not any for profit-healthcare providers in that market. See the discussion here.

      Additionally, the still secret TISA agreement also may incrementally, irreversibly globalize many additional service industries such as nursing, teaching, medicine, etc. Possible issues /conflicts may arise over harmonization of practice requirements, elimination of discriminatory market barriers such as national licensing requirements, and downward wage pressures due to opening formerly closed local markets to competitive international bidding. These bills have huge impact but they are currently “under the radar” of many in the involved countries thanks to what appears to be intentional lack of coverage in the media..

  7. Alan Honick

    In the story “American Dynamism Dimmed”, it seems odd to me that an obvious powerful correlation was left out: the decline in creation of new businesses corresponds quite closely with the rise in wealth and income inequality.

    1. scraping_by

      True. Both the creation of small business and the number of large businesses, reduced through M & A. Which speaks to the utility of all that money they’re piling up.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Tennessee deputies…

    Too bad I am a Luddite, otherwise, I would be for robot cops.

    I am pretty sure, this way, we can get rid of, for example, selective speeding citations. Anyone going over the limit will be pulled over, not just here and there. Traffic may initially become impassable, but it would be fair. Much like a more equal world is a happier one, even if less wealthy, we will be better off with robot traffic cops. And traffic will improve once drivers adjust.

    We just have to make sure robot cops are programmed to be non-violent and non-lethal.

    1. allcoppedout

      Blow up cops have been shown to be more effective than real ones. No need for too much tech.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The danger, my friend, is I fear the bad guys would just take out blow up plastic dolls from their closets and dress them as female (mostly) cops.

    2. ambrit

      From Kubricks’ film of “A Clockwork Orange.”
      “A job for two who are of job age. The police.”

    3. habenicht

      For all the claims that surveillance keeps us “safe”, this episode is a clear demonstration of what this really means:

      Surveillance footage is neither intended to document police mistakes or crimes nor to provide exculpatory evidence for everyday citizens. Any citizen found capturing footage for these purposes (for their own safety) will be prosecuted!

      The conclusion to draw is that surveillance is only designed to keep the state safe – keeping a constant eye on these restless plebes!

  9. GuyFawkesLives

    Why is it when it is the American government that is so much worse than others, yet our population cannot “take over the television stations”??? When will our situation get bad enough?

  10. susan the other

    Funny elephant and cell phone video. Advice from my husband (the engineer): They should just call the number and answer the elephant turd that rings.

    1. RWForce

      Did you watch the whole thing? That’s what they supposedly did. Totally fake, a cellphone wouldn’t survive the passage, unlike the famous Tilley Hat.

    2. allcoppedout

      Ringing elephant turd could save a great deal of shoe-cleaning thinks I eyeing my Labrador.

      1. susan the other

        I think you’re right. Well, then this could be the seminal fable for the New Aesop for The 21st Century.

  11. scraping_by

    “700 pages on a problem and only one solution.”

    OTOH, given the mountains of paper economists have piled up ignoring, explaining away, and even celebrating income equality, 700 pages doesn’t seem so much.

    Demanding the opposition have all the answers is a well known cheap rhetorical device.

    1. allcoppedout

      Yep. Forget stuff like the evidence of your eyes if you travel far enough.How can we seriously debate inequality rather than just get on fixing the problem? We’re being had.

  12. Andrew Watts

    RE: The NSA and Snowden: Securing the All-Seeing Eye

    What does the “s” stand for in NSA? It surely isn’t security! This piece demonstrates that the national security state is designed not to protect us but to enrich well-connected individuals with fat government contracts. While raping our collective privacy in the process. They obviously don’t know what their contractors are doing. This oversight process makes their self-reporting system a ridiculous sham of accountability.

    Edward Snowden did the country a great service by revealing how inadequately they handle the large amounts of information they collect on all of us. Whatever harm that may have come from his actions.

    Worst case scenario: The NSA is a subsidiary of a foreign intelligence service.

  13. Hugh

    Of the 6 principles of populism Robert Reich lists, he never mentions anything about reducing wealth inequality. And he lets the cat out of the bag at the end with this

    “If the American establishment wants to remain the establishment it will need to respond to the anxiety that’s fueling the new populism rather than fight it.”

    It is all about the preservation of the Esablishment, the class to which Reich belongs. Populism is not an alternative to the elites but a manifestation of discontent among the proles.

      1. ambrit

        Sorry, that should be “Give Me Prozac and Give Me Something D—-d Like Death!”

    1. Lambert Strether

      Which explains why Reich, along with the rest of the political class, can use the word “inequality” quite comfortably, when what’s really going on is class warfare.

  14. Hugh

    Re Ukraine, this is about dictates of empire for both the US and Russia. From the US point of view, the makeup of the current government in Kiev is irrelevant as long as it is anti-Russian and pro-West. Fascists or Jeffersonian democrats, it wouldn’t matter.

    As for civil war, all civil wars are revolutions (or counter-revolutions), and all revolutions are civil wars.

    1. gordon

      Ah, the “dictates of empire”! And how exactly does “empire” benefit the average American?

      1. OIFVet

        Entertainment and chest-beating my man, that’s how. You mean you don’t get goosebumps from overpriced jets dying flyovers before kickoff, watching a country’s infrastructure get shocked and awed beyond repair, and angry rednecks smashing Dixie Chicks CDs? What kind of Murican are you?

  15. susan the other

    About the Asia Times article on Obama’s Pivot. I thought it was very prescient. I think Asia Times is a very good publication. And I still think we are pushing Russia together with China almost against Russia’s will. Russia would prefer to just come in and supply Europe when we claim it as our market. Even tho’ we’ll have to retail Saudi oil and gas. We want Russia to deal with China. There is a good match between their resources, China’s needs, and proximity. Why does everything have to be such high military theater?

  16. Vatch

    Great 3 minute video at the site linked to by “Why the FCC Is Ditching Net Neutrality”. If you haven’t signed the White House petition on Net Neutrality, please do so, because time is running out, and more than 38,000 digital signatures are still needed. Everybody who regularly reads Naked Capitalism should sign:

    If for some reason you can’t see the video at the Mother Jones site, you can see it here:

  17. skippy

    A new study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health says that the widespread demise of honeybees is due to the use of a class of popular insecticides called neonicotinoids, combined with cold temperatures during the winter months. The study is published online in the Bulletin of Insectology.

    The deadly combination of insecticides and cold weather causes honeybees to abandon their hives–a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Over recent years, Western countries have lost between 30 percent and 70 percent of their honeybee populations, scientists say.

    The new study replicates earlier research by same research team that found a link between CCD and low doses of imidacloprid, another neonicotinoid insecticide.

    “We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely responsible for triggering CCD in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter,” said lead author Chensheng (Alex) Lu in a statement.

    Lu’s group studied the health of 18 honeybee hives in three separate locations in central Massachusetts from October 2012 through April 2013. At each location they separated six colonies into three groups, one treated with clothiamidin (another neonicotinoid), one treated with imidacloprid, and another left untreated.

    The researchers observed a steady decline in the size of honeybee colonies treated with insecticides. By April 2013, six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had abandoned their hives. Only one of the control colonies was lost, the study says.

    Read more:

    Skippy… seems larger hives would suffer the same results, biomass being the operative time and space thingy to departure.

    1. HotFlash

      Read a while back that neonicotinoids cause changes in bees (and possibly people? they haven’t looked yet) that resemble Alzheimer’s symptoms, IOW, inability to recognize places and faces. If that is the case, the bees didn’t ‘abandon’ their hive (that would be swarming, and that is *not* what is happening here) but rather they lost their ability to find their way home. Which, for some reason, breaks my heart.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that we have already poisoned the entire planet.

      Chernobyl, Fukashima, the giant floating mass of plastics caught in the doldrums (being churned into microscopic particles that enter the food chain), CO2, methane, GMO crops and their related and unrelated insecticides, spent radioactive munitions, antibiotics/medicines and industrial chemicals in our water supply, etc.

      The bees are the equivalent of a dying canary in a coal mine.

      1. OIFVet

        A canary which just happens to pollinate most of the crops we depend on. Man is dumbest animal.

  18. craazyboy

    Appeals Court Doesn’t Understand The Difference Between Software And An API; Declares APIs Copyrightable

    Just got around to reading this one.

    Doesn’t sound like a .open && .close case to me.

      1. craazyboy

        That didn’t help much. The lawyers could keep this going till hell freezes over.
        I missed the beginning of the trial, so it’s difficult to figure from reading these articles what Google did to get sued by Oracle. Plus its been a very long time since I’ve had the Java SDK download on my computer , so I only have a dim recollection of the runtime executables, and APIs – which could also be called language extensions – they are classes built up from Java language to add specific higher level functionality. Then all these things came in “jars”, which was an irritating concept anyway to a MSFT COM programmer.

        From what I can tell without doing extensive research on this is the clue to what is going on comes all the way down the page in this paragraph here:

        •”given the record evidence that Google designed Android so that it would not be compatible with the Java platform, or the JVM specifically, we find Google’s interoperability argument confusing. […] The compatibility Google sought to foster was not with Oracle’s Java platform or with the JVM central to that platform. Instead, Google wanted to capitalize on the fact that software developers were already trained and experienced in using the Java API packages at issue.”

        So I think it means when Google developed the Android operating system/programming language, they wanted to minimize the learning curve for experienced Java programmers and mimicked at least some of the Java APIs. (Application Programmer Interface)

        So Oracle may very well be trying to enforce copywrite over the words;

  19. gordon

    Moon of Alabama says: “I am slowly coming to the opinion that the Kiev government and its CIA handlers are intentionally pouring oil into the fire”.

    I came to that opinion days ago. Quite obviously they believe they have an opportunity to crush the separatists in the East of Ukraine if they strike now. The only problem they seem to be having is finding the troops to do the striking. Their efforts appear poorly coordinated and under-resourced. But those disabilities are also reflected in the separatists’ efforts, so the Kiev regime is still in there with a good chance, particularly now that Putin has disclaimed any intention to support the separatists.

    So when Moon also says: “Do [Kiev regime forces] know that they will have no chance to win should the east really rise up against them?”, I think his imagination has run away with him. “Rising up” in the face of superior and coordinated firepower isn’t easy or likely to succeed. It now looks as though there is at least an even chance of the separatists’ being crushed, which would be followed by a pretty ruthless round-up of large numbers of them. Little Vladimir may have to cope with a pretty substantial flow of Russian-speaking refugees from E. Ukraine over the next few months.

    1. OIFVet

      ““Rising up” in the face of superior and coordinated firepower isn’t easy or likely to succeed”

      You sure about that? You must have forgotten Iraq but I have not. Asymmetrical warfare is not something we Muricans do well. The Ukies would be even worse at it, particularly with nothing more than Russia supplying weapons. Memories are long in that part of the world, and the intervening years haven’t exactly made Russians like nazies any more than they did 70 years ago. They still hate Mazepa, and his treachery occurred more than 3 centuries ago…

      1. gordon

        There was an uprising all over Iraq in 1991, which failed in the face of Saddam Hussein’s forces, internal disorganisation and lack of foreign (US) support – which had been expected by many of the uprising’s leaders in the aftermath of the Gulf War. In general, civilian uprisings are very long-odds gambles in the face of determined armed repression. Where there is foreign support the odds are shortened considerably.

    2. Banger

      There are elements within the USG who want to egg on the fascists in Kiev to attack the East but there are also elements who are against that policy–you often see different factions sometimes united by ideology, sometimes by Byzantine posturing, and sometimes money all jostling to take control of U.S. policy. Iraq was a case and point of many factions all fighting separate “wars” which was one reason why Iraq was such an unmitigated disaster.

      In this case I think everyone knows that Western Ukraine cannot subdue the East–even if they retook the buildings and city centers they would still have a citizenry that would resist and fight in an active resistance. The neocon factions within the USG want to, ultimately, provoke the Russians into crossing the border–the Russians know this and will not invade unless thousands are killed by fascist goon squads. I don’t think this will happen because the anti-neocons (realists) appear to be in charge of policy for now and are happy to keep Ukraine simmering but not flaring up. All sides probably want a little bit of tension in the region to keep the MIC/National Security State (Deep State) humming along.

      1. gordon

        “The neocon factions within the USG want to, ultimately, provoke the Russians into crossing the border…”

        Possible, but frankly I doubt it. I think it’s more likely that they want to preserve the current borders of Ukraine. What would the US do if the Russians did “cross the border”? Say the Russians inserted a force for “peacekeeping” purposes and confined its activities to E. Ukraine. Such a force could provide a cover for a quick referendum on separation and union with Russia (on the Crimean model), Moscow would immediately accept the referendum result (as with Crimea), and it’s all over in maybe 5 or 6 weeks at most. Would the Kiev forces attack the Russian peacekeepers in such a scenario? Not, I suggest, without ironclad guarantees from the US and the EU, and guarantees like that could be interpreted as a declaration of war on Russia.

      2. allcoppedout

        Oifvet is on a good tack in this game of rock,paper, scissors. The Swedes are re-arming to reclaim their old empire. The Russians no doubt want the Cossack armies deployed against the Polish menace, exposing Ukraine to Tartar and Rhadamantine Jewish slavers. Of course, Churchill, the Murican money spy with the pretty mother who slept him to the top of the British Establishment and who engineered the rise of Hitler in the plan to curtail Eurasian Soviet expansionism by having 90% of the Wehrmacht exhaust itself on the USSR, would recognise the current strategy. JP Morgan are known to be very disappointed with Merkel and her inability to mobilise the unionised German armies. The last plan failed because the Japanese, armed to the teeth with British-built expertise and training, failed to focus on China and the eastern underbelly of the USSR and struck too soon on the US fleet, so accurately mapped for them by British spies Churchill had mentored. This Japanese treachery prevented the agreement to cut up Asia and Europe with the British and launch a US invasion with converted German and Cossack troops War Plan Red would have been puny defence against. Having failed to achieve world domination with this cunning plan, Money went into deeper cover in Operation QE Overlord. Watch for the taper and where it is shoved. After a few months of that, volatility levels will be such that a chance stop at a Balkan butty-bar suffices as trigger for the mass blood-letting vampire money demands. Simples!

        Uncle Screwtape

        1. gordon

          Well, that’s what uninhibited Great Power rivalries can look like. Make sure there is no such thing as a UN, crank up the propaganda machine, arm yourself to the teeth and off you go. And no benefit at all to the poor citizens of all these places.

          1. allcoppedout

            We like the simpler idea of ‘no benefits to the poor’. Advise against terms like ‘citizens’ – might make the unwashed uppity. Grind them down nephew Gordon. That’s what they’re there for. And we need to crush that postal voting thing. It will upset our plan to turn voting booths into termination centres, outlined in the Screwtape Business Review last spring.
            Benevolent regards from your kindly Uncle.

            PS. I love the term ‘spring’ – that last delicious irony of the proles massing to fight for freedom on the road to inevitable dictatorship. O the subtle pleasures of our acid tears of joy!.

            1. OIFVet

              We stopped being citizens long ago, we are now consumers and have three-digit credit score identifier and insurance score identifier etc ad infinitum. The last time a government bureaucrat referred to me as ‘Citizen Vet’ was in BG when I was obtaining my passport. He was a holdover from communist times and must have missed the memo on the conversion of citizens into consumers.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Well . . . the ‘secret’ part is all blown to hell.


      I wish our citizenry understood that by declaration, all rights conferred onto Americans are assumed to apply to all people.

      Nothing scarier than a government afraid to put prisoners on open trial.

  20. allcoppedout

    One wonders, given Banger’s notion of what happens to the odd brave soul that penetrates the leadership net, how long Pope Francis will be allowed to live. The guy has his sums wrong of course. One the basis of the story from Luke it would take a great deal more than half the wealth of the rich to repay those stiffed – more like four generations of indenture.

    Screwtape tells me there is a wider plan. Francis is being set up to endear himself amongst the plebs before open assassination by an Iranian sponsored terrorist group in a coordinated plot that will also wipe out the transgender winner of the Eurovision Song Contest who also advocates world peace. The hitmen have already been recruited from the Vatican Mafia and are currently being painted brown. The group works in secret as Fatwa Incorporated, so our farsi scholars are working hard on a convincingly ominous Persian soubriquet. Putin’s hordes have already been distracted by the Ukrainian diversion. Iran is already under siege and ‘Operation Shaft the Pope Killers’ planned in minute detail.

    I was uncertain on sharing this inside information even with friends here, so we could coordinate our investment programme. Scewtape himself redirected my attention to the history of false flags and gullible public notions they will share in the future stolen oil, rather than pay higher prices through our control of the stuff. The acid tears of joy flowed, I can tell you, over discussion of the success his universal education programme, that has led the proles to literacy only in what we would have them read. The great soul bought pasteurised beer all round so we could watch a gaggle of fools pretend to enjoy drinking the muck. We left without paying, of course, apportioning the expenses to public debt, much as the war costs will be.

    One or two friends have pointed out that Vlad may send his impalers into all of Ukraine and his gas-powered tanks to sweep through Germany. Sweet anticipation lads and lasses. Once Prince Bandar is installed as Potentate of Persia and flings new Jihadis into Putin’s rump, wearing socks marked ‘death to Israel’, the loss of our major manufacturing competitor and its links to Britain staying out of the Euro, will be celebrated at the Coronation of King Farrage of Runway 51. I announce today, a call for volunteers to organise the launching of the Japanese Geriatric Grenadiers into rightful reclamation of Chinese lands after our friend in North Korea sends human-guided air torpedoes around the Orient when the firework show celebrating his birthday goes ‘sadly wrong’ owing to his insistence on lighting the blue touch-paper himself.

    In the meantime, as ever, investment advice will be freely given to friends sending large boxes of cash to Craazyman (Offworld Finance). Rumours we are smoking up these pipe-dreams are subject to plausible deniability. One word of caution on the acid tears. Wipe them off quickly or suffer Thatcher-Reagan ‘hag-face syndrome’.

  21. Invy

    In reference to Piketty’s 700:1 problem to solution… I like to call it the Piketty Paradox, he has all the data to back up the diagnosis, but he ignores all the history. The fact that we have tried this solution before. The estate tax is a wealth tax from the populist movement, and the so-called progressive income tax has been turned against the common man.

    Repeating an action and expecting a different result.

    1. John Jones

      “It was not by accident that the USA’s two most highly qualified generals spent almost the whole war relegated to secondary campaigns, while a staff colonel without any record of field command skyrocketed to four stars and the big show at SHAEF. Politics.”

      Roland would you be able to tell us the names of the two generals and staff colonel?

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