Links 5/27/14

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Giddy up: John Lopez’s Wild West welded animal sculptures – in pictures Guardian

American War Dead, By the Numbers American Prospect

The loss of Memorial Day’s meaning is just one way we short-change veterans Guardian

Monsanto: the Toxic Face of Globalization Monsanto

Can Rural Brooks Actually Pose A Threat To The Environment? OilPrice. Headline misleading, but the substance is important.

Atlas hid: Uber has set up a decoy office to keep drivers away from its shiny new HQ

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Gov’t releases raw satellite data linked to plane’s path CBS

China’s housing “Titanic” MacroBusiness

China Middle-Class Protests Turn Violent After Petitions Ignored Bloomberg

Vietnam accuses China of sinking boat Financial Times

Heads roll across Europe in wake of polls Financial Times

Euro-Election Post-Mortem… Cassandra

Winner Accuses French Government of “Massive” Election Fraud Wolf Richter

Europe must create jobs to counter populist wave – Merkel Irish Times. This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

France urges reform of ‘remote’ EU BBC

Russia joins global dash for shale in policy volte-face Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph


Obama talks Ukraine, swipes at Putin Politico

Ukrainian leader vows swift action against ‘pirates’ Washington Post

Ukraine launches air strikes against pro-Russia militants Financial Times

Ukraine president: calm ‘in hours’ amid airport battle Guardian

Ukraine Forces Appear to Oust Rebels From Airport in East New York Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Glenn Greenwald to publish list of U.S. citizens that NSA spied on Washington Times

Snowden ‘considers’ returning to US – report RT (furzy mouse)

E.U. Debates Which Nation Will Regulate Web Privacy New York Times

Obamacare Launch

Obama Administration Moves To Unilaterally Make Billions Available To Insurance Companies Under The ACA Jonathan Turley

How Obamacare Will Screw Black Doctors Daily Beast

Doctors Surveyed On First 120 Days With New Obamacare Patients Forbes

Health Care Cost-Sharing Works — Up to a Point New York Times

EPA Set to Unveil Climate Proposal Wall Street Journal. Um, while the US fracks, which releases methane?

Republican Warmongers Should Be Held Accountable for VA Scandal Alternet

Rove: Clinton ‘old and stale Politico. Sexism alert.

Flashboys and “Investor” Outrage Triple Crisis

FT v. Piketty

Thomas Piketty’s real challenge was to the FT’s Rolex types

FT analysis of my book is ‘ridiculous’, says Thomas Piketty Independent (furzy mouse)

Blogs review: The Piketty data controversy Bruegel

Class Warfare

Global income distribution: From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Great Recession VoxEU

“The US Labor Market is Not Working;” Antonio Fatas “On the Global Front” Angry Bear (psychohistorian)

Krugman: How American Capitalism Fails—and Northern European ‘Socialism’ Succeeds—at Job Creation Alternet (furzy mouse)

Antidote du jour (Planet Earth, via Lambert):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Eureka Springs

    “Republican Warmongers Should Be Held Accountable for VA Scandal Alternet”

    In a nutshell this title alone is why I, a citizen who has cast one vote in his life for a Republican (Ron Paul as a protest vote in the last pres primary), have all but forgotten (and never read) Alternet. Alternet should look in the virtual mirror if they want to see “liberal” warmongering perpetuated.

    1. Carla

      Re: “Alternet” and like sites: Until the electorate turns away from the Republicrat and Demoplican factions of the Corporatist regime that rules this country, we are doomed.

      Every election, people love to tell me that I’m “throwing away” my vote on Green candidates. I reply that they are the ones wasting their votes, not me, but guess what? They can’t even hear it. We have a very long way to go.

      I remain grateful to Naked Capitalism and Black Agenda Report for cogently and consistently speaking truth to power.

      1. fresno dan

        Oh I agree 1000% – it drives me insane to hear that voting for a third party is “throwing away your vote” And I always reply, “and your not? You choose between horsesh*t and bullsh*t – at least I refuse to choose sh*t”

      2. Benedict@Large

        Even if one is disgusted by the results of our election and think they don’t matter, it’s still important to vote. Simply vote a blank ballot as a way to say “none of the above”. If only a few do this, the powers will just write it off as malfunctioning machines (or voters !!! they LOVE to blame the voters), but if we can get even 10% of the voters to do this, the press will be forced to address it, and cook up a way to explain the embarrassment to the two parties.

        And just in case you think this can’t work, Icelanders do this often, In fact, right after their crash, blank ballots out-polled the party that was in office when the crash happened.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Interesting take.

          I have always thought there are two aspects of voting when one cast a vote

          1. You’re voting one of the choices on the ballot
          2. By voting, you validate the election system itself.

          And so, by not voting, you are already voting ‘no’ on #2 above.

          It’s too bad that (implicit vote on the election itself) is not enough that one has to cast a blank vote (explicit vote on the election itself).

        2. James P Sykes

          Very much agree with the gist of your comment, and glad I found a site which gives a different and seemingly more accurate take on our questionable economic system.
          However I must correct you on a point of fact regarding the 2009 Icelandic election results. The percentage of blank and spoiled ballots, taken together, was 3.5. In the 2007 election, before the crash, the Independence Party won the most seats and was in power with 36% of total votes.
          However, the 3.5% invalid votes in the 2009 election was more than double that in the previous 5 general elections. And in the 2009 election votes for the Independence Party dropped to an al-time low of 23%.

    2. Ronald Pires

      AlterNet, a site I like, is unfortunately guilty of playing horse race politics in this article. The fact is that both parties have been doing a very good job at providing patients for the VA hospital system, and that regardless of what Republicans have done or not done, Obama has been in charge of the system for over five years, we have known that entire time that there are severe access problems for VA care, and Obama has failed to act before now on this known problem. Considering the size of this current scandal, in fact, it’s doubtful that Obama even looked at this problem before it bit him in the ass.

      P.S. Interesting to see how angry Obama is about this. He never seems to get angry about anything until some conduct by his administration embarrasses him. Only when it hurts him personally does he respond like this to a problem.

      1. CB

        obama can be summed up in the feminist line, “The personal is the political.” obama defines the phrase.

    3. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      If we gave a damn about our soldiers we wouldn’t use them as cheap cannon-fodder in the first place.

      Outside their usefulness as political pawns, nobody really cares. Same goes for poor people, aborted fetuses, the unemployed, indebted consumers and consumer wannabes (students with crushing debt), shot-dead coeds and kindergarteners, and the otherwise physically and mentally disabled and/or downtrodden.

      “It’s a beautiful world we live in — a sweet romantic place . . .”

  2. rich

    N.Y.U. Crisis in Abu Dhabi Stretches to Wall Street

    As chairman of New York University’s board of trustees, Mr. Lipton has been dealing with revelations that the university’s much-heralded new campus in Abu Dhabi might have been the product, in part, of rights abuses of foreign laborers.

    Hours after the article was published, Mr. Lipton went into full crisis mode and sent an email to some members of N.Y.U.’s board, which is stacked with Wall Street boldface names including Laurence D. Fink of BlackRock; the hedge fund impresario John A. Paulson; and a Home Depot founder, Kenneth G. Langone.

    Mr. Sexton might have been trying to create distance between N.Y.U. and the contractor, but it is a red herring: The general contractor that helped oversee the construction of the campus isn’t some fly-by-night firm outside N.Y.U.’s purview. Quite the opposite. The contractor is run by a trustee of N.Y.U.’s board: Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, the chief executive of the Mubadala Development Company.

    This is not N.Y.U.’s first governance crisis. While part of the N.Y.U. faculty objected to the new campus, calling it a distraction or worse, others have been upset with Mr. Sexton’s other initiatives, which they say have devalued education at the university, and led to one of the highest tuitions in the country and soaring debt levels for its students. They went so far as to approve a vote of “no confidence” against Mr. Sexton in March 2013. (The vote was 298 to 224, with 47 abstaining.)
    A group of university faculty members wrote a public letter calling Mr. Lipton’s support of Mr. Sexton “an intransigence that is as threatening to N.Y.U.’s survival as the scandals whose clear impact you deny.”

    “Any school that profiteers so avidly is sure to be renowned, not as ‘a world-class residential research university,’ ” they wrote, “but as a global clip joint with an academic logo; and yet, like the Gilded Age inequity at N.Y.U., that sprawling operation has your full support.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘In his remarks [at the NYU Abu Dhabi commencement], Mr. Clinton expressed support for his friend John Sexton, N.Y.U.’s president, while voicing concern about treatment of foreign laborers who helped construct the building where the ceremony was held.’

      Triangulation, comrades: you can have your cake and eat it too.

      [Clinton] predicted that the students would give themselves a “fist pump” of congratulations when N.Y.U. released the findings of its investigation, which he said would be a testament to the transparency of the university.

      As transparent as the Obama administration! Fist pump!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s amazing we have had 2 Gilded Ages in the last 10 years of so, interrupted oh-so briefly in late 2007.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      I’ll bet the NSA knows everything there is to know about the fox and the flower.

  3. Jagger

    From Wash Post on Greenwald and Snowden:
    —–Mr. Greenwald also pointed to the failures of the NSA to catch Mr. Snowden during his download and theft of 1.7 million documents, and said that’s further evidence of the government’s inability to guarantee data security.—–
    Heard Greenwald interviewed on Fresh Air program of National Public Radio. Greenwald never once described Snowden actions as theft. The hostess consistently described Snowden’s action as theft. In the WP article, the post has Greenwald describing Snowden’s actions as theft. No, I don’t think Greenwald said that at all.

    So how does the NPR and the Wash Post both coordinate the description of Snowden’s actions as theft when no rational person can reach that conclusion? If you expose government docs which prove illegal government activity which places public good and governance clearly in danger and done at huge personal risk and no personal gain, how can that possibly be theft and not a good citizen???

    How can two separate professional mass media sources reach exactly the same absurd conclusion? Are they just truly stupid? Or maybe English is their second language or perhaps they are acutally illiterate? Or are they incompetent? So how can a professional stand up to the public and their colleagues and openly put their name and reputation on the line by describing Snowdens actions as theft? How????

    1. fresno dan

      All I can say is: Compare what the reaction to Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers to today. The arguments used against Snowden are practically identical to the arguments used against Ellsberg. Whether propaganda has gotten better or the populace has gotten stupider is up for contention….
      I hope naming names will show how venal domestic spying is…but in truth I doubt much will come of it.

    2. Banger

      How does NPR and WaPost coordinate their “terms”? Because they are each divisions of the Ministry of Truth. Believe it or not these people meet regularly, mainly informally, over lunch, symposia, and after-hours social events–they all know each other and they mix with public officials. There is a lot of talk among journos and editors on what stances they ought to take on various issues. My take it that WH people told all of these journalists that “theft” was the word to use–and I say this literally–it’s that simple and it could have happened over lunch or whatever. There is no wall of separation between official Washington and the mainstream media–none.

    3. James Levy

      No need for coordination. This is C. Wright Mills in action. People are recruited and rise in a system because they have internalized the goals, values, and attitudes of that system. Because the NSA did not authorize that information to be released to the public, it had to have been “stolen” before it could be “given away.” A person who “steals” information is engaged in “theft”. All context is erased because it never, ever pays in any major American institution to talk about context or history, unless that use of context or history is as exculpatory evidence for the powerful or the rich, i.e. to get your bosses off the hook.

      Most people in the press seem to think that the government will tell us what we need to know when we need to know it. They are, after all, “keeping us safe.” We ignore that the most prominent reporters with the best jobs and the best pay are men and women who have internalized the needs, wants, and prejudices of their bosses and supplied them with what they want–hell, that’s how they get to be prominent reporters! If you’re a jackass like me committed to doing what you think is right, and to hell with what you’re being told if what you are being told is nonsense, you wind up unemployed, commenting on other people’s work while you have none.

  4. fresno dan

    Glenn Greenwald to publish list of U.S. citizens that NSA spied on Washington Times

    There is this genuinely menacing [spy] system and at the same time, [they] are really inept about how they operate it,” he said, Newsmax reported. “Not only was he out there under their noses downloading huge amounts of documents without being detected, but to this day, they’re incapable of finding out what he took.”

    They don’t know what he took because NSA doesn’t know what they have. When I was in the Air Force I worked at NSA, and what the people running the machines do with them versus what they are suppose to do are two different things. I suspect their are terrabytes of drone videos of Hollywood starlets nude sunbathing….

    1. Banger

      I think you’re on to something. The world of intel is very peculiar and the work of NSA is chiefly to spy on everyone just because they can–I don’t believe they are that interested in true “national security.”

      1. fresno dan

        The bitter truth of bureaucracy is that the more people your in charge of the more money you make – that’s really what my section boss was interested in. Maybe at the top other factors come into play, but in the little section I was in, a good portion of our effort was lobbying for more people….to essentially do an activity that was analogous to counting how many riders the NY subway system has….to be able to calculate how many people are in NY city.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The Washington Times intermittently does decent reporting. Same is true for the New York Post.

    2. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      The Stasi was unable to sort through all of the data it collected (“data,” in this sense, meaning massive accumulations of uncorroborated observations of one’s neighbors), much less interpret it. The NSA certainly has a technological advantage over their Stasi brethren.

      Anyone who thinks that the NSA is about protecting the American citizenry from terrorism is not paying attention. The NSA is about protecting entrenched, illegitimate political interests. Notice how even legitimate threats to the status quo instantly, and upon weak argument, become enemies of the State.

      State secrets cover state crimes.

      1. Jim Haygood

        “One of the big questions when is comes to domestic spying is, ‘Who have been the NSA’s specific targets?’ Are they political critics and dissidents and activists? Are they genuinely people we’d regard as terrorists?” ‘

        If Dianne ‘She-Wolf of the Stasi’ Feinschwein is on the list, then the answer to the third question is an unequivocal ‘yes.’

        Seriously, I’m betting that the eerie passivity of Congress — as compared to its feistiness in investigating the executive branch as recently as the 1970s [e.g. the Church committee] — is the result of surveillance-based blackmail.

        Are the spooks really going to give secret briefings to Congressional leaders and key committee chairs, and then not monitor whether those secrets are leaking? Over fifty billion in annual black-budget spending hinges on this off-the-record, unconstitutional process of keeping rank-and-file members in the dark. Therefore, one would expect some serious teeth to back up the NSA’s omertà blood oath imposed on Congressional leaders.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson


          Yes, I’m sure they do, indeed, have sharp teeth. So do we. I believe we have forgotten that.

          The real question is whether we will be eaten with or without a fight. If being eaten is a foregone conclusion, I’d guess it’s better to fight.

          Backbone will be more important than teeth, in the long run.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Europe must create jobs to counter populist wave.

    Well, beggars can’t be choosers. And this is a start.

    But, really, you create jobs because you care about the little people, not to save yourself from populist wave.

    Still, my ideal deconstruction is like this:

    1. The economy doesn’t have to grow to create more jobs.
    2. You don’t have to have a job in order to live. If we are supposed to look up to the 0.01%, then we all should aspire to enjoy life by just being (here, being doesn’t imply doing nothing), instead of subsisting on serf-jobs.

    But like robots, we chant the ‘The GDP Must Grow’ war cries.

    1. Eeyores enigma

      The Krugman piece illustrates the negative effect of the lie we have been repeating for generations. The lie that without the threat of “No Money=You die” hanging over our heads no one would work.

      Instead all this lie accomplishes is to bring out the worst in humanity.

      We really need to figure out how allow for everyone to do less without that meaning they must wither away and die.

      1. MtnLife

        One of the best places to start reforming society would be our industrial food system. Instead of one guy petro-farming we could put tons of our unemployed back to work in the fields producing real food in balanced ecosystems instead of monocrop dead zones (ever notice your windshield isn’t covered with bugs driving by huge cornfields?). I’d rather give healthy food to people than give them money to make poor food choices (in part economically driven, bad food is cheap) and enrich some megacorporation. This will not only save on food assistance but decrease our staggering health costs (food and exercise), decrease our oil dependence, and release nature from the chemical oppression of factory farming.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Everyone, be he/she a human or a Vulcan, wants to

          1. live long
          2. prosper

          The rich are closer to realizing those 2 goals than the rest of us. And they are our tools for devising ways to defend ourselves.

          You’re right about eating healthy and living an active life.

          The rich get you in 2 ways

          A. Profiting in the front end from selling you unhealthy diets and lifestyles.
          B. Profiting in the back end from the resulting extra, unnecessary health care.

          And A & B contribute the our GDP (everyone is happy).

      2. jrs

        “The lie that without the threat of “No Money=You die” hanging over our heads no one would work”

        Yea but however much that is swallowed, it’s really just cover for a system of: work to serve the capitalists or die. What we are really told is that without a system where we work for the profit of the 1% noone would work.

  6. Benedict@Large

    “Europe must create jobs to counter populist wave – Merkel” || Irish Times

    Also: “French president: EU reforms needed” || Times of Israel

    But actually, if you look around, there’s a chorus of “we have to change” lyrics coming out of the Neolib EU leaders. “We hear you,” they will say now in unison, but as the elections fades to memory, so will any resolve to action, even if these early calls are sincere. These people have an amazing ability to lie to themselves.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Oh, they’re not lying to themselves. Mercy, no; they are adepts at lying to everyone else. It also helps that the EU bureaucracy and the NeoLiberal scum who are heads of its constituent states are largely unaccountable to the “electorate”. They have learned well by watching how the Yankees run things, and emulate them accordingly. So the feigned “sincerity” is part and parcel of the dissimulation.

      Now, tumbrels rumbling through the streets toward scaffolds outfitted with guillotines might get their attention, but the citizen capons still cluck, scratch, and peck obliviously at the European NeoLiberal Factory Farm.

      Rather like here in the good ol’ USA.

  7. craazyboy

    This is why we need economists

    Krugman attends ECB meeting and informs them that CBs have it wrong (+100 for Krugie)

    And then scores a -1000 with this gem of wisdom:

    “Speaking to a gathering of the European Central Bank’s top researchers and policy makers, the Nobel Laureate said the ECB and other banks around the world need to raise the inflation targets they have clung to since the 1990s. At 2 percent, those goals are too low and increase the risk that central banks will run out of room to cut interest rates — the so-called zero lower bound. ”

    So to re-phrase, just a tiny bit, Krugie wants the CBs to create monetary inflation – the result being this might cause higher market interest rates – and the reason to do this is so they have room to cut interest rates?!

    These people are brain damaged to the point that they could crack up a fruit fly.

    1. James Levy

      Krugman can’t escape the fantasy that if the central banks create the money, it will magically go to where it needs to go “because markets.” The fact that it obviously goes, again and again, into speculation and the hands of the wealthy and does almost nothing to stimulate employment or wage growth bounces off of Krugman’s cranium. None of these men (notice these economists are all men) can admit that money creation will not get people back to work or increase the purchasing power of average people.

    2. susan the other

      Think about it this way. Fukushima is being managed by us. The Japanese are doing their best and we are calling the shots. At some point this disaster will be the most expensive in human history. We don’t have the digits to even account for it. So inflating the dollar is a foregone conclusion, if we mean “virtual printing” all those dollars. Fukushima makes old-fashioned accounting an absurdity.

  8. Banger

    I’m having a lot of trouble with onswipe crashing or taking forever on my iPad–I thought NC was going to disable it. Onswipe is a terrible system.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’ve told you repeatedly you can opt out. The icon in the upper left allows you to choose to view the desktop version. That choice persists for a month.

      Since we have a redirect, disabling Onswipe takes a little more doing than just yanking ad code.

      1. Banger

        I know about the choice and do choose when I get to the page to opt out-I am not that clueless. But, mainly I never get to that screen because it crashes or just churns 90% of the time.

  9. No ICC for Bill Buckley

    Spook burned! Bureaucratic infighting! Night of the long knives! Obama playing hardball with CIA!


    The CIA torturers in Kabul are running screaming for the exits like Columbine cheerleaders. This burn charade is the cover for the real reason they’re running wee-wee-wee all the way home: the ICC came knocking. Moreno-Ocampo started this. Fatou Bensouda picked it up with a much thicker bill of indictment from NGOs.

    Crime against humanity, scumbags. It’s the ICC or else it’s, ah, restorative justice with Buckley, Mitrione, Gouglemann and all the rest, one by one.

  10. the heretic

    I wonder why it is so hard for politicians to realize that large scale job loss, declining prospects, and the threat of poverty, which causes economic harm but also social alienation and emotional pain, is the swamp from which violent monsters emerge.

    Hopefully the politicians of Europe remember that the Nazis AND Communists made great strides in popularity during Germany’s period of duress from 1918 to 1932. (indeed communists and fascists around the world made progress during this period of time). Both parties grew strong due to the economic distress of the middle and working classes and the sense of disillusionment with the nation. The nazis were more skilled, and were able to gradually win the electorate; after which they imposed totalitarian control. For the sake of peace and harmony on the European continent, It would be wise for the present power elite to address the factors of poverty, declining prospects and dissillusionment before the mood of their nations morph into something evil.

    1. Massinissa

      LIke the german and russian elites before them, the modern elite think they can control the new monsters.

      Although… The german elite were right. Hitler <3ed them and they <3ed Hitler. It was the working class of Germany who lost out when unioned were outlawed, etc, not the upper class. Anyone in the upper class who wasnt Jewish benefited from Hitler immensely, at least in the short term.

      1. ambrit

        Good catch. In evidence thereof, allow me to direct your attention to Visconti’s film “The Damned”, Szabo’s “Mephisto” or Bergman’s “The Serpent’s Egg.”

  11. Synopticist

    The BBc is really showing it’s hand here…”Is US foreign policy ‘vacuous, vapid and weak’?”

    They do that western world-type propaganda, where narratives are preceded by the “naturally all sensible people agree that…” insinuation. They quote a spiky, republican neo-con, who says it was terrible not bombing al qeada into power in Syria, and we now need to escalate tensions in Ukraine.
    By way of contrast, they then speak to an more centrist neo-con , who says how awful it was we didn’t bomb Syria back into the seventh century, and we need to escalate the tension in Ukraine, and spend more money on defence.

    I cannot believe what’s happened to my formerly beloved BBC. They spent most of the last decade being highly oppositional to UK/US foreign policy, and frankly acted as a “trendy left” opposition to the last government. Now they’re total neo-con mouthpieces, in every sense of the word.

    1. James Levy

      Perhaps they are beaten and they know it. Britain is a post-ethical society, in that no generalized set of ethics still retains force among much of her population, certainly her elites, who were so scared shitless by WWII and anticolonialism that they jettisoned all their schoolboy “such things are just not done” education in favor of ruthless expediency. The elite over there command complete hegemony–they are unchallenged and perhaps unchallengeable. My guess is that you either go along or wind up blackballed, or worse. They spy on everyone and can destroy anyone. For a while under Blair the media imagined that they were players and could get away with telling some truth. Now, that’s all dead. Cameron’s red-headed media operative getting taken down (and oh how they’ve buried that story) was perhaps the last gasp of a free press in the UK. No more of that nonsense, I’m sure the BBC et al. have been told. So if you can’t beat em’, join ’em.

    2. Massinissa

      Check to see if the publication was sold or went under new management in the last few years. I dont know but you may find answers.

    3. Banger

      Same thing happened to NPR here in the states–it’s a matter of careerism. People just will shun you if you color outside the lines as we used to say in Washington. Still, the charges of “weakness” in Washington are a good sign, in a way. It shows that realists may feel they are on more solid ground–usually Democratic administrations are scared to death of being called “weak” but the great deep, dark secret is that the American people do not want more conflict–the level of stress in the country is high enough we don’t need another f-ing war.

  12. abynormal

    thanks for the monsanto link. ain’t this the truth: “Thus, the target of protest is not only GMs, although GMs are a central aspect, but also the supply chain of multinational corporations that transforms food into a commodity that many throughout the world cannot afford.”

    (a look back…and consider the speed going forward):
    Glencore: the most powerful company you’ve never heard of,1

    When financial powerhouses like Glencore are able to control and engineer the terms on which they are governed, economics has painfully little to say. Rather than being “price takers”, today’s financial behemoths are price makers. To understand the power at play, we’re better served by the insight of the French historian Fernand Braudel – that capitalism is, at its pinnacle, not about the facilitation of free exchange, but about its destruction.
    (they are starving/killing us…slowly/painfully)

  13. OIFVet

    Another Pepe Escobar must-read. Be sure to also follow the link to the Der Spiegel story about a Kiev debate driven by “a clueless Yale historian”. It’s a real doozy, featuring everything from Orwellian treatment of reality to Fukuyama’s “The End of History.” A teaser sample: “It isn’t about Putin. It’s about us. Europe has just experienced the best 25 years of its history. That’s a long time, and we’ve been lucky. We’ve become accustomed to peace and prosperity. It was as if we had made it, as political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote in 1992, to the end of history. We were lulled.” Quick, someone tell the Greek and Irish crybabies the good news.

  14. Veri

    On Memorial Day…

    I retired from the military in 2012 after signing up on July 31st, 1990. My last deployment was to Europe in The Middle East, from 2007 to 2012. My last loan here in the US was in 2003, in which I dutifully paid off my car by 2007 and sold it as I was headed back overseas for what seemed like the thousandth time.

    Now, I checked FICO score – ironically being reported at around 650. In reality it was a 0. No loans, no credit cards, always paid my bills and sent money to my sister and parents.

    In 2013, I attempted to buy a vehicle. The dealership, plastered over with patriotic stickers and signs, made me an a generous offer.

    25% interest. On a $18,000 to $30,000 dollar vehicle.

    It seems I could not take time off in the middle of combat to go down to Baghdad Bob’s Ford Dealership in The Green Zone and get a loan from Chase or BoA at The Green Zone Branch Offices. Or stop by Taleban Used Toyota in Helmund Province and the local branch of Chase or BoA to fill out the loan applications. And who really needs a vehicle in Europe? Public transportation always made out good or you knew someone who had a vehicle to car pool with.

    I am not expecting special treatment. I don’t deserve that ultra-low perfect FICO score financing. I do not deserve to be ripped off by America.

    Memorial Day is nothing more than a shopping holiday for most Americans to pretend.

    The good news is that I found a dealership and a salesman, curiously without all the patriotic signs lying to me, who was able to get me into a vehicle. The salesman had buddies who served. He never did. He understood. The best he could do for me was 9.6%, which I am refinancing. Seems I am eligible for a better rate through USAA. Got to love USAA. They are not a bank, but a finance company that acts like a bank. Run by veterans.
    My payments are on time and I even overpay.

    Sorry, Yves, if it sounds like advertisement. It is simply what is happening.

    This country is not about patriotism. Or doing the right thing. Or being the best. The US of A is about greed, profits, ripping each other off, lies, wars, drugs, fads, a bankrupt culture, serving the few over the many. Still, lots of good people. Good people who do little to nothing to really make a difference. Too busy trying to earn what little scratch they can, to have the time to care enough to go out and make a difference.

    Want to know something funny? I called a buddy of mine who retired a few years before I did. He went to Ukraine, married a wonderful woman, set up a small business, and – until recently – was doing quite well. I told him about the 25% interest I was offered. He told me that he would call me back in an hour. So he did. He called up his banker, who he had been banking with for the last few years, and explained my situation. The banker was willing to offer me less than a 4% loan to buy whatever vehicle I wanted, based on a character reference from my buddy. My buddy offered to buy me a plane ticket for that night if I would come over right then and there.

    Maybe I should have taken him up on the offer. Then again, looking at the recent mess The Good Ol’ Democratic Loving US of A is making over there in Ukraine, maybe not. I had a little place in Bulgaria I was going to settle in. Nice place once the locals get to know you. Helps if you speak the language, close enough to Russian. Found myself back in The States to help out a friend of mine.

    Can’t wait to leave.

    1. John

      You hit on a much underreported problem. Industry has found ways to skim money off of unwitting transitioning ex-military, since most do not have a credit history nor a lot of money for a down payment. Because they don’t have a credit history they are subject to paying much higher interest payments for cars, houses, & stuff in general. It is like they have to start life all over again.

    2. OIFVet

      Were in Bulgaria, приятелю? You know how it is Veri, right next to the front gate of every base I’ve been to are pawn shops, payday lenders, and other assorted financial bottom-feeding scumbags. LES withholding make the newly enlisted in particular an easy mark and guaranteed risk-free profit centers. NCOs spend hours every month counseling indebted soldiers and teaching basic financial skills like balancing a checkbook and paying off high interest loans first to try and protect them from that scum. The politically produced failure of public education is the bottom feeders’ profit. Not saying that’s what your problem is, your “problem” is that you avoided credit in the first place and were punished for it. The point is, the military personnel in general is one of the most exploited groups by the patriots of the predatory lending industry, and there is not a damned thing the civilian and military leadership will do about that.

      1. Veri

        My problem is, that in America, I paid my bills and was responsible.

        Thanks for the reply.

      2. Veri

        Near Veliko Turnovo. Was looking out near Borgas. And north of Varna. Away from the tourist cities. There is a beach north of Varna not too many know about…

        1. OIFVet

          I was born in Veliko Turnovo You definitely picked the right region, the only other inland region that can compare is the Rhodopes. Well, perhaps Rila and Pirin too, but they are overrun with Brits packed in ugly condo developments that spoil the beauty of the mountains. As to the Black Sea, I am guessing you are eyeing around Balchik or Kavarna, the south is overdeveloped with ugly concrete hotels and overrun by drunken Eurotrash teens and creepy sex tourists. The beauty of Euro-style neoliberalism in its full glory: spoiling the pristine dunes in order to market the only industries that survived EU membership, cheap booze and cheap sex. Despite all that it is still a lovely place to live though, hope you get back there soon.

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