Links 5/5/14

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Thousands gather for knob throwing BBC

Donald Sterling Just Glad Tape Recorder Batteries Died Before He Got To The Real Shit Onion

A Richard Smith anti-antidote (actually by his standards, an antidote)

Smartphones: The Silent Killer Of The Web As You Know It NextWeb

Infusions of young blood may reverse effects of ageing, studies suggest Guardian. Alarmed reader reactions yesterday in Links and via e-mail. Both Vatch and I thought of Elizabeth Bathory, arguably the world’s most prolific serial killer.

Gary Becker, economics Nobel Laureate, dies at 83 Japan Times. I know it is not polite to be disrespectful of the recently deceased, but when I saw Becker speak at the Milken conference in 2008, it was the first time I saw toads hop out of someone’s mouth.

Jailed Al Jazeera Journalist Is Actually Kind of a Dick Vice

The world’s media have failed in their response to the kidnap of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls Independent (Chuck L)

From luxury to poverty: The once grand hotel which attracted the wealthy is now home to squatters trying to find shelter where drugs and disease is rife Daily Mail (Bob V)

5 indicators pointing to persistent economic weakness in China Walter Kurtz

How is China’s jobs market? MacroBusiness

Ital-Thai drops its revenue forecast The Nation. Lambert: “This is a big deal; Ital-Thai is a humongous conglomerate that does a lot of construction and you see their hoardings all over Bangkok on big infrastructural projects, so it’s dependent on a government that functions, which Thailand does not now have.”

Brussels cuts eurozone inflation forecast Financial Times

U.S. Firms With Irish Addresses Get Tax Breaks Derided as ‘Blarney’ Bloomberg

We must not hide Max Clifford’s crimes behind a veil of euphemisms New Statesman. Chuck l: “NS criticizes the kid gloves with which most media continue to treat sexual assault by the rich and/or famous.”

Afghanistan—A Nightmare of Failure Counterpunch (Carol B)

Uncertainty, not China, is replacing US power Edward Luce, Financial Times

Comparative Military Dominance and the End of American Hegemony Ian Welsh (Carol B)


Kiev Struggles to Break Russia’s Grip on Gas Flow New York Times

Pro-Russians attack police HQ in Odessa DW

Rebels ‘retreating’ in Sloviansk BBC

Weakening Russian Energy Sector May Not Support Geopolitical Ambitions OilPrice

America Backed Fascists In Ukraine 70 Years Ago George Washington

CIA power play ousts DIA Chief Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Liberal donors eye new long-term investments in states and new voters to boost Democrats Washington Post

Get Away with Theft and Terrorism: Be a White Male Conservative! Phoenix Woman, Firedoglake (Chuck L)

With Unlimited Financial Campaign Contributions, One Robber Baron Can Control a State Truthout

Proposed Nickel open pit mine by wild Smith River roils Del Norte County folks SFGate (Bill C)

Guns are a public health issue Washington Post. Lambert: “NC prematurely correct on guns, see here and here.”

Jury Seated, Trial Starting for Former Beaumont Cop Accused of Blinding Woman in DUI Stop Banning-Beaumont Patch (Carol B). Holy moley.

Voting Rights, Corporate Personhood and Power Abigail Field

Keen: We need bubbles or bastards to grow MacroBusiness

Boston Fed Warns Rising Inflation Expectations May Not Drive Higher Spending WSJ Economics

Pentagon PR Hit Man At The Small Business Administration? Lloyd Chapman, Firedoglake (Chuck L)

Too Big to Jail Continues: DOJ May Charge Two Banks with Criminal Acts, But Not Hold Them Criminally Accountable Truthout

Help Elizabeth Warren Change Wall Street and Pass the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act Public Citizen

The basic flaw in all economic modelling MacroBusiness

LEAKED: Docs obtained by Pando show how a Wall Street giant is guaranteed huge fees from taxpayers on risky pension investments David Sirota, Pando. Another “public pension fund as chump” story, this with Blackstone as the victimizer on a hedge fund of funds.

New Careers for the New America David Cox, Firedoglake. Carol B: “And comment #1.”

America’s Emerging Housing Crisis New Geography

In addition to circulating the Bill Moyers video on net neutrality to friends and relatives, Jeff W provided an excellent list of links on how to write the FCC and tell them “hell no!” on their plan to give into the local broadband duopolies. Please act on it and sent along to others. Vatch flagged the relevant White House petitions to sign. Thanks for your efforts! NC is in jeopardy if the communication giants get their way.

Antidote du jour. Squirrel in snow, Grand Canyon (David L). The critter is an uncharacteristically small feature in this antidote, but I liked the shot and hope you do too.

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 6.43.04 AM

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Larry Headlund

    The link for Smartphones: The Silent Killer Of The Web As You Know It is broken. This will work.

  2. John

    Some of the arguments for Net Neutrality are behind the times. Companies can order faster Internet without government intervention at any time. All they have to do is place an order for few hops and very low latency (QoS) with Verizon or Comcast and they get it delivered. The public saw a glimpse of this when they watched the 60 Minutes Flash Boys story. The Flash Boys had turbo charged access that supposedly beat the competition to market. Yep, if you have the loot you too can have Ferrari speed access — now.

    1. Watt4Bob

      Buy all the speed you want on the front-end, it doesn’t guarantee a thing if ISPs are allowed to throttle back delivery on the back-end.

      Without Net Neutrality, you’ll get ultra-fast access to Wal-Mart, and Amazon, but slow, fitful access to Naked Capitalism, or Firedoglake because the intent is to profit from squeezing the big operators whose cash-flow would be impacted by anything other than fast and open access.

      The prospect of handicapping political dissent is a bonus feature since most dissenting opinion by its nature does not come from sources with deep pockets.

      BTW, the success of the Flash Boys lay not in raw speed, but in finding a way to circumvent the crooked HFT guys who leverage speed acquired mostly by proximity, that is locating their servers next-to, or inside the exchanges.

      Ironically, the Flash Boys won by timing/slowing down delivery of their orders so as to make the HFT time advantage irrelevant because they hit all the exchanges at about the same time.

      Loss of Net Neutrality means more freedom to shop, inevitably at higher prices, and less, maybe very little freedom to dissent.

      1. Ned Ludd

        For Bing, when page delivery was delayed by 2 seconds, the number of people who clicked on a link dropped 4.4%. Google discovered that: “Half a second delay caused a 20% drop in traffic.”

        Imagine if it took 20 seconds to bring up the Naked Capitalism website. Existing readers may continue to visit, but most would read fewer posts and visit less often. A new reader, who followed a link here but had never visited before, would lose interest before they even saw the site. Instead of censoring a website, ISPs can limit its audience (and influence) simply by delaying its delivery.

  3. craazyman

    Did anyone else see the toads? Or was it just a personal vision of transcendence? In fact, this might be a newly discovered symptom of “The Disorder” (TM). The toads could be manifestations in the energetic realm of economic “tools” proffered as solutions for the social ills perceived by the economist. This might be a topic for empirical research, we don’t want to be “normative” lest anyone accuse us of a failure of analytical rigor. Let’s all do ‘shrooms then go hear one of these dudes yack and count the toads.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Instead of ‘shrooms, you can just lick toads (Sonoran desert toads), which will produce visions of even more toads.

  4. Ned Ludd

    Paula Slier, of RT, is currently reporting from inside Slavyansk / Sloviansk on her Twitter stream.

    • Guy just warned me sniper can see my face. Guys keep telling us not to film faces. – 5:09 AM – 5 May 2014

    • Crawling past guy in sand pointing rifle — tells us not to film him says that if his sister sees him, she will kill him. – 5:21 AM – 5 May 2014

    • They keep shouting at us to take cover — there’s a small room — I am going inside. – 5:31 AM – 5 May 2014

    • can’t get out of Slavyansk — all checkpoints in and out city blocked. – 5:57 AM – 5 May 2014

    1. Cocomaan

      Regardless of anyone’s feelings about RT, if they sent in Paula Slier, it’s safe to call that a civil war.

      I hope the Powers that Be are happy, they got exactly what they wanted.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Well, not quite yet. Not until they disrupt any near term economic integration of the Eurasian World Island; no New Silk Roads for you, rather the Procrustean bed of US-dominated NeoLiberalism. A multipolar world is not in the interest of our NeoLiberal elites. But if they can generate events sufficiently heinous to induce the reluctant Russians to intervene in Ukraine, then they can get Cold War II underway. That oughta do it.

      2. alex morfesis

        coney island in the late 70’s and early 80’s was more dangerous

        sorry…but the world has wimped out…

        2000 people died of malaria
        4000 died of lung cancer
        4000 died of Diabetes
        4000 died in from car accidents

        100 people died in car accidents in the US
        (who says all americans don’t believe in the death penalty)

        you get the freedom you are willing to fight for

        the ukranians don’t care enough

        ugly reality, but they don’t care who mugs them

  5. kgilmour

    Dirty cops, sadistic prison guards – corrupt PO”s — every day we are treated to more evidence that our system is irretrievable.

    I love to tell the story of my best friend – a psychiatrist – who took a temporary post at Ypsilanti Federal Penitentiary – ostensibly to research a paper on prison and gang tattoos and recidivism. After just weeks at the prison – she called me and said she was changing the subject of the paper.

    The most dangerous people at Ypsilanti prison were the guards! She began to research the institutional sadism of prison work. The ‘women’ if you can call them that – were actually more dangerous than the male guards.

    She learned that the people who gravitate to ‘enforcement’ work are often as dangerous as their charges. But given a badge, a gun and the authority – they become dedicated sadists. Sociopaths.

    Gosh… has nobody seen this in our local police? In conversations with my friend since then, we’ve discussed the nuances of how the institutional sadism racket works. And it’s a class structure. The socio economic group that gravitates to enforcement work usually preys upon their own and lower castes…. A white, college educated, male driving a BMW is now likely to be pulled over and tazered – but a black female with kids in New Mexico was shot at as she fled the scene because of Latino cops who she believed were dangerous and corrupt. Gee…

    New Mexico is undergoing a Justice Dept “review” of police policies… because of rampant abuse of the citizenry.


    But before we praise St O let’s look at the political environment which caused this new ‘concern’ for the population at large.

    New Mexico was ripe for the revolt because identity politics has elevated an obscure conservative Latina… whose only credentials for GOP gubernatorial largesse was her surname and green chile recipe.

    Hey, if it’s good enough for Condi… it’s good enough for Maria.

    So the DEMS were/are in need of a wedge issue to push back the creeping Latino/catholic/conservative impulses of the electorate.

    DO NOT credit Cantor for a pressing need to save the population from predatory cops in, say, Democratic Mississippi.

    Political hatred does have it’s uses… but only in an election year sea change. It’s too much to hope that Government for CHANGE… would clean up Democratic bastions as well.

    But for New Mexicans… we’ll get a small reprieve from gun happy sickos – back from Iraq – with nobody to shoot or torture.

    1. Banger

      Americans are not generally aware of not only the deep corruption of the police, prison and “justice” systems. Many are surprised that the Wall Street organized crime organizations survived virtually untouched–but if you understood courts, prosecutors, the FBI and other enforcement agencies you would more easily understand how it works. If you’d seen with your own eyes how cops protect favored drug-dealers and bust the unimportant ones you would know the whole enforcement mechanism from the DEA down was a crock of sh*t.

      Prison guards are the lowest rung of law-enforcement even if they aren’t sadists they become sadists often. Look at the Stanford Prison Experiment and other social science research projects–you will see that the situation invites evil. Americans obsession with law-enforcement, hatred of compassion, love of “winners” and visceral hatred of “losers” is the chief cause of our problems not the prison guards or cops or prosecutors or judges who oversee our rotten and cruel legal system. That there is some mercy and compassion by individuals in the system is a testament to humanity–the system itself is structured to bring out the worst in everyone.

      1. kgilmour

        Brain fart… I credited Cantor… not Holder for the NM raid on corrupt cops.

        sorry… too many demons… so little time

      2. Benedict@Large

        Prison guards are not the lowest rung. Prison administration is worse. And yes, that’s first hand.

      3. Ulysses

        Our “justice” system is simply another cog in the machine of corporate control. We have to either confront the kleptocratic machine and defeat it, or prepare to become its slaves.

        Today Chris Hedges wasn’t pulling any punches:
        “The goals of corporate capitalism are increasingly indistinguishable from the goals of the state. The political and economic systems are subservient to corporate profit. Debate between conventional liberals and conservatives has been replaced by empty political theater and spectacle. Corporations, no matter which politicians are in office, loot the Treasury, escape taxation, push down wages, break unions, dismantle civil society, gut regulation and legal oversight, control information, prosecute endless war and dismantle public institutions and programs that include schools, welfare and Social Security. And elected officials, enriched through our form of legalized corporate bribery, have no intention of halting the process.

        The government, by ignoring the rights and needs of ordinary citizens, is jeopardizing its legitimacy. This is dangerous. When a citizenry no longer feels that it can find justice within the organs of power, when it feels that the organs of power are the enemies of freedom and economic advancement, it makes war on those organs. Those of us who are condemned as radicals, idealists and dreamers call for basic reforms that, if enacted, will make peaceful reform possible. But corporate capitalists, now unchecked by state power and dismissive of the popular will, do not see the fires they are igniting. The Supreme Court ruling on our challenge is one more signpost on the road to dystopia.

        It is capitalism, not government, that is the problem. The fusion of corporate and state power means that government is broken. It is little more than a protection racket for Wall Street. And it is our job to wrest government back. This will come only through the building of mass movements.”

        Please read the rest of this commentary on the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Chris et al.’s challenge to the, outrageously unconstitutional, indefinite military detention without charge or trial provisions of the NDAA:

        1. kgilmour

          What he said

          Fire up the portable guillotines…. it’s gonna be Boomer activists who start getting tossed in the slammer…. We cannot help ourselves — I find myself more emboldened every day to tell em to come get me if they don’t like my recipe for justice and the fading American way…

          I always had the feeling I died in a prison cell in a past lifetime… I”ve always been an outlaw…. but without a prison record. I have just about had enough of being groped by buzz cuts at the airport… and ordered around when visiting a government building…. I just start in on whomever is flashing a badge… they can kiss my royal arse…. I hate this government and it’s operatives with every fiber of my being…

          and by the way… I’m one of the lucky ones… I still travel, ski, have employed children….hey – the average wage slave must have blood in their eyes.

  6. Ned Ludd

    Graham W. Phillips, a stringer for RT, is also reporting from inside Sloviansk.

    • Unconfirmed, but from a good source, reports of 2 Ukrainian military helicopters now landed just outside city, state of some panic here now. – 5:03 AM – 5 May 2014

    • Reports of mounting body count here in #Sloviansk, unconfirmed figure of 20 at this stage. – 6:41 AM – 5 May 2014

    • Shops closed, streets deserted in central Sloviansk as fighting reported as waging on outside of city now. – 6:46 AM – 5 May 2014

    1. Synopticist

      The situation is getting very much worse every day. The DW link about rebels attacking a police station fails to mention that the people freed were the survivors of a massacre a couple of days ago. They Jailed The Survivors Of A Massacre. In which 42 people were mostly burned and shot to death.
      A couple of badly translated and perhaps overly conspiritorial Russian links…(nasty pictures warning)
      In the above link he claims there were these guys in red armbands who attacked the pro-Ukrainians in order to provoke them so that they would then attack the pro-Russians in turn…
      The second link has a photo right at the top showing one of these guys, with a red arm band, wearing ribbons of both the Ukrainian blue and yellow flag AND the orange and black stripped st george flag of the Russian separatists. Maybe it’s been photoshopped, maybe the guy just didn’t remember to take the first of his ribbons off…

      Meanwhile the junta in Kiev is blaming the Russians for the massacre. And the western MSM does it’s upmost to obfuscate what happened, while slowly losing the propaganda war. I wouldn’t normally take over-heated claims from Russian bloggers seriously, but there were those mystery snipers at Maiden square, who also managed to kill 19 policemen. So there’s reasons to be suspicious.

      1. Ned Ludd

        RT reports that Russia’s Channel One television channel “reconstructed the chronological order of events using publicly available YouTube videos detailing what happened in Odessa on Friday.”

        Then the visibly smaller group of alleged anti-Kiev activists started to attack the march, apparently provoking the demonstrators. Footage then shows a smaller group [of] men wearing red bands luring the pro-Kiev crowd into a different direction.

        At some point, the police line opened up to let the men wearing red bands through and closed back up again. A video then shows a man standing behind the police lines shooting at the pro-Kiev crowd. […]

        The alleged anti-Kiev activists then disappeared and angry pro-Kiev supporters headed to the opposition camp based in front of the House of Trade Unions.

        From the earliest reporting, it seemed odd – and tragic – that the (purported) anti-government activists who started the clashes took off, while an uninvolved encampment of peaceful activists, occupying a small group of tents, got chased down and firebombed.

        1. Benedict@Large

          Sounds like a false flag group gave the pro-Kiev group its excuse to inflict violence.

        2. Synopticist

          Quite frequently”odd” and “tragic” become “provoking a massacre” if someone is trying to start a war.

      2. Yonatan

        Here is a link showing a false flag operator. He has forgotten which side he is supposed to be on as he has both yellow/blue Ukraine and St George Russian tags. His uniform looks suspiciously like that of the police, down to the bullet-proof vest and night-stick.

  7. jgordon

    “the deaths in Newtown are an “enough is enough” moment”

    Well obviously it wasn’t, and in fact the Newtown massacre prompted a new era of gun resurgence and enhanced political power for the gun lobby. In other words, the arguments being made by the gun control ideologues and the way they are going about advancing their cause does not seem to find a lot, or at least enough, of resonance with the American people. Tangentially, Albert Einstein had a famous quote with regards to people who do the same thing over and over, expecting different results each time.

    1. Cal

      No mention of the psychotropic drugs that the shooter was on. That poor kid was so medicated that he couldn’t see straight. A huge proportion of Americans are taking this garbage, often sold by corporations “headquartered” in Ireland, as per other stories in N.C. What a disgrace.

      See this video for the history of this profit taking and crazy making enterprise. The BigPharma executives are right up there with the bankers in line for a meeting with the French doctor’s extra-medical device.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Also no mention of the fact that the guns used in Newtown were all bought LEGALLY, that is, according to the “gun control laws” in Connecticut, which are considered some of the most strict in the country.

        1. CRLaRue

          The Newton event will play it’s self out again and again and…….
          No mention that these drugs cause a percentage of the user to become
          homicidal or suicidal!!

  8. dcb

    Hey, this is really not fair because just the past week put up two posts regarding inflation and spending and why the theory is nonsense

    turns out my beliefs seem to be correct
    and of course one noble prize winner from the nytimes wrong again with his flawed theories based on flawed assumptions who doesn’t know enough to know what he doesn’t know
    as before I put this on krugman’s blog
    then please see article and links below

    @peter. You must be an economist, because you say this:
    it’s been proven that
    Rational investors will vary their ratio of investment to
    consumption in response to real interest rates, not the
    of inflation. Your premise is faulty.
    it’s been proven that
    You are probably reacting to discussions about deflation.
    Rational consumers in a deflationary period will postpone
    consumption in anticipation of lower prices in the future.

    except we know investors and consumrer’s aren’t rational.
    See that’s what economist do. The entire initial premise
    that people are rational is false. and the things he says
    know economists have never actually measured , but they
    apply it in their policies
    This is why I’m ascientist and you’re an economist.
    It shows in a simple illustration that economists don’t
    understand the basics of science methodolgy, and don’t

    wow what a surprise the real world may function exactly the opposite of an economic proof.
    LOL and an economic proof can exist without real measurements. Economics is so screwed up

    thank you for putting up the wsj link , I assure you it generated another letter to krugman

  9. Cal

    If a corporation is headquartered in Ireland, “pays” Irish taxes and is a fictitious person, then I guess if you have a civil dispute with it, then Irish law applies and you can ignore all summons and other things–from Ireland, unless of course you go there a lot and don’t want to be arrested, in Ireland.

    That is, what would happen if a lawyer claimed in a civil suit that an American court had no standing since it’s an Irish corporation, pays Irish taxes and relies on Irish law?

  10. Ron

    Housing Crisis: At least this article highlights the issue of new housing starts but does not discuss where or what might be built and specifically mentions Calif rising home prices. The reality is that fifty years of urban single family sprawl with its reliance on cheap AG land for building and low auto fuel producing hours of commuting is no longer a suitable alternative to building close to metro employment centers. The problem now is the what to build where and how to change the restrictive zoning laws to allow more multi family structures within traditional single family neighborhoods and build up the necessary public transportation structure.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      People have learned to cope with living in tight (physical and mental) spaces, but there was a reason why they moved to the suburbs.

      Except being chained to the metro GDP-generating, Nature-conquering machine, they would not have needed to emit all that carbon transporting themselves back and forth. It would have been better if they can just escape ‘civilization’ and don’t have to look back.

      As it is, more cities will soon be like Kolkata or Dhaka.

  11. Banger

    It’s interesting that the events in Odessa that led to the raid on the police station by “pro-Russia” advocates are portrayed in the mainstream as having virtually no cause other than Russian aggression. Ok, fascists attacked an encampment of people who want a federalized Ukraine (a country that was created by the German General Staff in WWI) and chased them into a building and set fire to it killing many and those that jumped out were beaten to death, mostly. This fact is not important to the official U.S. media (basically now nothing but another federal agency, The Ministry of Truth). All the problems in Ukraine are 100% the fault of Putin the New Devil. The proof of that incident is plain–there was video footage that appears to be genuine.

    So, again, we live in the new USSR, i.e., the U.S. and its satellites in Europe. If you want the truth about any issue that contradicts the fundamental story-lines of Washington you can’t find it in the mainstream. Having said that there are continuing sighs that Washington is not united. On the left, I see little enthusiasm for U.S. Ukraine policies–I see zero mention of Ukraine over at Daily Kos–which is, for those that don’t realize it by now, the official “left” Democratic Party site that usually reflects official thinking–anyone who crosses the line over there is purged without warning. The Nation seems to be skeptical of the Washington consensus and the New Republic usually always ready to push for war and reflecting the left side of neoconservative views seems less than enthusiastic about official policy. It’s only a matter of time, I hope, before the mainstream starts dribbling in some truthful accounts–certainly the WaPost and NYT seem to be providing more nuanced and less black and white propaganda stories, while still seeing Putin as the villain but coverage may well evolve from there as reporters stick their toes in to see if they are published or punished for what they say–with Washington divided this is a good opportunity for a freer mainstream media–one hopes.

    1. Synopticist

      “with Washington divided this is a good opportunity for a freer mainstream media–one hopes.”

      I think that’s an excessively optimistic view in all honesty, although I agree with the rest of your analysis. The MSM in the UK is trying as hard as possible to make the massacre of 40 people by neo-nazis as small a deal as possible.

      1. Banger

        My point is that it is the confusion around this issue that may provide some cover for reporters to tell the truth–when Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Vietnam started to go wrong editors gave reporters more leeway to actually report something resembling the truth (always with a very limited hangout). Usually these windows don’t last very long because a new consensus emerges and then it’s back to just propaganda.

        1. Synopticist

          I see what you mean, but I think we’re in a different era now.
          Judging at least from the UK perspective, large parts of the left-leaning media at least were very frequently antagonistic in foreign policy terms, even though theres always been a strong MI6 influence within the MSM. The BBC and the Guardian were incredibly hostile once the Iraq war started for example. Likewise their coverage of Afghanistan was hardly positive (they don’t report it any longer). And that’s only a few years ago.

          However, the way the entire media is reporting Libya, Syria, and now Ukraine, is utterly different. They’re not even asking the most enticing, juiciest questions about collusion with al qeada and neo-nazis for goodness sakes. Things which any journo would have been screamimg about 10 years ago.

          The banker bailout has changed the balance. The power relationship has altered. Or perhaps been revealed. As the veil on the true nature of politics has been lowered, so must the veil of the media be raised. So in this new era, the media is no longer free to point out the inconsistencies and idiocies of our foreign entanglements, lest our elites be opened to even more contempt.

          1. Banger

            I can’t say I disagree–there is no left-leaning mainstream in the U.S. they are all centrists–MSNBC is, still, just pro-Obama/Democratic Party. The mainstream media is, in my experience, much more narrow than the UK. Still, I’ve been watching the U.S. media for many decades very closely and I sense a change and I definitely sense a change in their enthusiasm for war which was always bordering on the hysterical because they thought Americans were naturally violent and they wanted to cater to that tendency. Americans, however, are becoming isolationists–they don’t see the practical value of Empire and it has registered, even if people avoid talking about it, that U.S. military adventures have been a disaster. No amount of sugar-coating can change that.

            The wild card would be a false-flag event but, again, I don’t think it is possible because there is disunity and endless elbowing and minor conspiracies going on within government at this time and a false-flag event would not be appreciated by some of the factions involved in the pushing and shoving–but you never know.

            1. James Levy

              You know how rigged the MSM is when a guy targets and kills three Jews for being Jews and the story is disappeared. If that guy was a Moslem, it would have been a week of 24/7 and front page news. Because he was a Klansman with ties to the FBI they buried the story in 2 days.

  12. diptherio

    A few quick facts on Cooperatives and their many benefits:

    The economic activity of the 30,000 cooperatives in the U.S. contributes an estimated $154 billion to the nation’s total income. The co-ops have helped to create over 2.1 million jobs, with an impact on wages and salaries of almost $75 billion (Deller et al 2009).

    Cooperative businesses have lower failure rates than traditional corporations/small businesses: after the first year (10% failure versus 60-80%) and after 5 years in business (90% still operating versus 3-5% of traditional businesses) (World Council of Credit Unions study in Williams 2007). Evidence also shows that cooperatives both successfully address the effects of crises and survive crises better (Borzaga and Calera 2012).

    This way to the exit, folks, life boats are this way…

    1. Banger

      You’re right–of all the ideas floating around cooperatives and collectives are the best way to make a political difference. Power that isn’t oppressive can only come from communities.

    2. F. Beard

      But what about hostile takeovers financed by the government-backed counterfeiting cartel, the banking system? Or what if the co-opt itself decides to finance expansion with loans from said cartel and become oppressors themselves?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        There aren’t many hostile takeovers now because executives are happy to sell out.

        And private equity firms, which are the most active buyers, get bridge financing from their fund investors (ie they don’t have to go to banks for loans) and they often pay off the bridge loans with bonds (again disintermediating the banking system).

  13. just_kate

    OT, my employer today announced they will discontinue the pension benefit for future hires/re-hires and solely offer a 401K option. I guess I’m not surprised but when a profitable established company so transparently joins the race to the bottom it’s really depressing.

    The language in the notice is very strange, starting off self congratulatory re the importance of the prior program for us peons then basically saying since no one else needs to offer pensions anymore our company shouldn’t either. Sigh. It was not a very generous benefit anyway and with any raises being a fraction of inflation every no-exec just falls further and further behind. Even promotion increases now are offered at basically true inflation percentages – so much for working your way up!

  14. Forcible overthrow time

    Fun fact related to psycho torture cop Enoch Clarke. When the US ratified the Convention Against Torture, it illegally redefined torture to limit it to persons in custody or physical control, so the government could ensure impunity for the common practice of public police torture. Blinding is clearly torture under the DoJ’s own definition: treatment the mention of which sends chills down your spine. Yet Clarke won’t be convicted of torture. That’s because torture is a serious crime of concern to the international community and the US wants to keep torturing its subject population into compliance. DoJ’s position on torture is that if they want to do it, they write some standard procedures for it, then it’s not torture, it’s compulsion. And compulsion is the only thing that keeps this state in power.

    This is going to come up in November when the Committee Against Torture airs how the US government systematically undermines the CAT to perpetuate its decentralized Gestapo. The US government can’t meet the most basic, imperative standards of the civilized world. This government has no reason to exist. Putin and Xi should just annihilate the US regime in a war, come in and root it out. Then under multilateral reconstruction and reconciliation we can take care of the DoJ scumbags that administer this totalitarian state.

    1. diptherio

      ‘Cept we’d all be dead due to war and annihilation and whatnot, right? You might want to think this one through a little more thoroughly….

      1. hunkerdown

        Decapitation strike. A few tens of thousands in DC and a few tens of thousands elsewhere, at most. But world opinion matters, and I think the US would be constrained by brand management even in its responses to the Beltway under siege. Why, we might find the USG has already printed “Keep Calm and Go Shopping” posters to prepare for the possibility.

  15. Jackrabbit

    Media support of the Administration is noteworthy. But once again I would clarify this:

    . . . continuing sighs that Washington is not united.

    The neocons/neolibs that are in control seem quite united.

    The propaganda is subtle. Based on omission of relevant material, biased assumptions like:
    – Russia has nothing to fear from US/Western “democracies” (problem: they are far from “democratic”).
    – America is exceptional – we only a force for good: the keepers of world peace.
    – Russia illegally “annexed” Crimea (no proof or discussion of Russian point of view)
    – Barely any mention of Russia’s proposed federalization & nonalignment of Ukraine
    – The US/West will prevail in any new Cold War – just as we did in the last
    – Because Obama: Dear Leader is being patient, statesmanlike.
    – Because Markets

  16. diptherio

    Re: Bubbles and bastards on Macrobusiness

    And Australia is going to export to whom, exactly? And that un-named country will pay for those imports how? And even if Oz manages it, doesn’t that just force some other country(ies) to make the decision between bubbles and bastards, and make the amount of either necessary to cover for their resulting current account deficit all the greater? Is this dream of becoming an export powerhouse not simply a dream of beggar-thy-neighbor?

    1. Hugh

      The Bonddad article is something of a mishmash. The labor force can not become smaller simply because fewer people are entering it. People have to be leaving or rather defined out of it. In fact, the labor force is always in flux with inflows and outflows. The problem is that the outflows quite large last month relative to the inflows. How much of the outflows is due to retiring Boomers is anybody’s guess since the BLS does not directly track what’s going on with the Boomers. As far as I can tell to date, Boomer retirement may subtract off 0.5-0.7% off my numbers.

      I considered using the category Not in labor force want a job now to recalculate the real unemployment and disemployment rates a few years ago. 2 million from trough to peak may seem like a lot, but this is really just under 1.3% of the labor force. It doesn’t seem to take into account population growth. My current estimate is 3-5 million higher. Even knocking off a half-percent for Boomer effects, that is still 8.25-10.75 million.

      Bonddad also reports that the economy has produced 225,000/month over the last 3 months. This is making the common error of mistaking the trendline “official” numbers for the reality. Employment runs through a seasonal cycle. We are currently in the spring rebuild portion of it. Since January the economy has added 2.8 million jobs. This is similar to 2013 but suspect given the weak performance of the economy in the first quarter.

      Bonddad’s conclusion is worth quoting,

      “The calculation above is in accord with recent papers by the Atlanta Fed , researchers at the IMF, and Shigeru Fujita of the Philadelphia Fed that, while most of the increase in the “missing workers” initially was due to discouragement, in the several years there has been a relative increase in the number of retiring Boomers, thus reducing the number of those who are “not in the labor force, [but] want a job now.””

      The research cited was really about trying to explain the declining participation rate. That rate has been falling since 2001. And it has been an amazing tour de force to see how all these “explanations” avoid the obvious of fewer jobs and the poor quality of the ones being created. Bonddad seems to think that discouraged workers just disappear off the face of the earth never to return. As for Boomers, they started turning 65 in 2011, some ten years after the participation rate began to fall. And here too they don’t just disappear either. How many are retiring a lot poorer than they planned? How many can not afford to retire? How many will face poverty or be forced back into the labor force when the bubble in stocks implodes?

      On the one hand, we have incomplete numbers that really don’t address what we want to measure. On the other, we have a restricted vision of the plight of the American worker.

  17. McMike

    Re: pension funds ripped off with heads-i-win-tails-you-lose contracts that cannot withstand the light of day. Blackstone just did a cut-and-paste of the privatization contracts. If you look closely, you can see some places where they forgot to change “parking meters” to “pension”.

    Re: voting rights. The GOP dismantling of voting happened without nary a meaningful peep from the Dems. Can’t seem to be roused even to protect their own electoral chances.

    1. James Levy

      Well, the pundits on TV and the editorial boards of the Murdock papers would yell that the Dems were being shrill, vindictive, inciting class war, buying into conspiracy theories, and “everybody does it”, so cease and desist or we’ll bury you this Fall. Meekly, the Dems would shut up. The Dems know Their Masters’ Voices when they hear them. At this point, they know the refrain before the Mighty Worlitzer even strikes up the tune, so the don’t even bother to pipe up.

      The Dems exist to take over after the Republicans have fucked things up so badly they are no longer electable, not to be electable themselves.

  18. dcb

    well I guess pointing out actual facts Vs economic theory gets you banned from the NYtimes because I no longer get reply notes to the papers I sent to the editor and krugman about inflation and spending/ savings.

    please understand I have been writing to him for a long time every time he writes this.

    so others want to take the time to let him know the real data and why you can’t make these assumptions (and bad assumptions they are) assume they are true, based on crappy data, and make policy please feel free.

    Just about the perfect examplye of what’s wrong with economics/ economists.

    1. James Levy

      Yes, he’s about the most unspontaneous of men. Dubya suffered from a similar problem. It seems that one must be massively inhibited to make it through the primaries without saying anything meaningful or from your heart so you can be nominated and have your PR people get you elected.

  19. Mark Gisleson

    I was disappointed to see you make the connection between Erzsébet Báthory and blood transfusions from the young. Disappointed because I’m only half way through writing a novel writing about Bathory inbreeding her family over the centuries to improve the bloodline which through transfusions keep her alive.

    Don’t know why I’m mentioning this in the comments section of an economics blog because certainly there is no way you could use bloodsucking old people as a metaphor for our economy, is there?

  20. dearieme

    “Afghanistan—A Nightmare of Failure”: fighting unnecessary wars and then being defeated – not the brightest policy.

  21. Hugh

    Nigeria should have reported that the two hundred school girls were on a large jetliner and that after the kidnapping the plane mysteriously disappeared. This would have ensured 24/7 coverage on at least one cable news network.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      No one in the mainstream media is reporting the curious case of millions of missing workers.

      When millions of worker bees go missing in the economic forest, can this silence be heard by the profit-party goers?

  22. Jess

    I agree with virtually all of Hedges’ sentiments but have difficult with his blanket condemnation of capitalism in all forms. What is to replace it? And it seems to me that the idea of getting rid of capitalism entirely will never take hold in a country in which too many people own their own businesses. Are we to outlaw the local dry cleaner, the building contractor, indeed even the independent tradesman plumber who comes out to fix your stopped up drain? No car dealerships except for cars made by government-owned companies? Is every single citizen to be the employee of a government-owned and government-operated enterprise? Wasn’t that the failed Soviet model?

    1. hunkerdown

      Decide what outcome you want, decide whether it can be done, then make a proper go of it. You’re a writer; why are you trying so hard not to use your imagination?

    2. Banger

      Your comment, of course, points to a real weakness in the left–no pragmatic alternatives have been presented to capitalism which puzzles me because there are so many possibilities. I believe we should start going on two tracks: 1) attacking the modern limited liability corporation with something quite different which would involve accountability and removal of this “personhood” nonsense; 2) really mapping out what sort of world we would like, i.e., a convivial world rather than this obsessive and over-stressed monstrosity that we call civilization today that is nothing of the sort. We have the capacity both in technique and technology to create radically different and sustainable political economy but the American intellectual class flat out refuses to discuss it–so focused are they in preserving their narrow little worlds or their service to the oligarchs. Aside from the movement of journalists into PR and propaganda, the move of academics into triviality is almost as troubling. We need to look at what great opportunities we have rather than grumble at the power elite.

      Actually, I have a beautiful panacea taken from Ivan Illych–we should have a maximum speed limit of 15mph for all vehicles (we could make an exception for racing). This would radically change society, remove sprawl, encourage more gardens, more slow-everything, and, above all, tighter communities. To me, cars have done more to make the modernist project a dead-end than anything else I can think of.

  23. Jessica

    We need to establish a clear difference in everyone’s eyes between an independent contractor or small business owner who makes their living from actually working on the one hand and enormous corporations that make much of their money from monopoly and special connections with the government. The first deserves respect. The second needs to be seen in a class with child molestation and treated accordingly.
    We also need to establish a similar clear difference in everyone’s eyes between activities that usefully coordinate people and genuine, helpful innovation on the one hand and taking advantage of employees on the other.

    1. Jess

      First, Hedges doesn’t do that. He has a blanket ban on all capitalism. Second, your response may address the small business issue but what of large scale enterprises such as car manufacturing that needs enormous amounts of…capital!…to launch the initial enterprise? I’m in favor of true employee-owned businesses, and it’s easy to see a road to achieving this if employees of an existing concern own the stock. But how do you get the egg before the chicken? How do you START such an undertaking without either having money to start with or being able to get investors who want a return on their money?

      I think of this in the way that someone (Churchill?) described democracy as a terrible form of government but still better than the alternatives. To me the issue isn’t capitalism, it’s unregulated capitalism’s excesses and its ability to buy government.

      As for hunkerdown’s challenge: I am at work on a book about possible solutions to restore democracy and regulated capitalism.

  24. Howard Beale IV

    Russian law bans swearing in arts and media: BBC:

    “Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning all swearing in films, television broadcasts, theatres and the media.

    Offenders will face fines – as much as 50,000 roubles (£829; $1,400) for organisations, or up to 2,500 roubles (£41; $70) for individuals.

    Where disputes arise a panel of experts will decide exactly what counts as a swear word.”

  25. Roland

    Jess, there’s a difference between marketplaces and capitalism. Marketplaces long predate capitalism. Marketplaces will always exist–as long as people want to trade goods and services with one another. We had markets before the capitalist mode of ownership, and we will have markets after the capitalist mode of ownership.

    Another thing is that there’s a class difference between the petty bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie proper. Of course, under mature world capitalism the petty bourgeoisie are a doomed class. They get liquidated by the bigger bourgeois and most of them eventually slide down into the proletariat. For Americans of today, this is the backdrop to your life story.

    Unfortunately, the petty bourgeoisie’s pride is a contradiction which prevents them from forming class-alliances against the bigger bourgeois who are destroying them. The petty bourgeoisie will sneer at the proletariat even as they join that class themselves. It is fascinating to watch this class-tragedy, to see how the petty bourgeois will degrade and indebt themselves, in a frantic effort to postpone the day of their impending proledom.

    It’s hard to blame them. The petty bourgeoisie, as a class, have many virtues. It’s just too bad that nowadays we’re all stuck in a world run by a class of big bourgeois who want to own everything.

    1. jrs

      Yea I’m not sure even Lenin banned half the things Jess is suggesting will be banned (if someone wants to read a defense of Lenin into that, it’s not there).

      I think it’s mostly the professional middle class that is sliding down, those that have always been EMPLOYEES, but once if not better treated at least better paid. The self-employed have as far as I know been a very small porportion of the population for near 100 years (it may have been different in the 19th and early 20th century). So the idea that getting rid of capitalism will never take place in a country when most everyone is employed by others because a tiny percentage of the population is self employed is absurd. But it’s true mom and pop businesses aren’t what’s wrong with the world and they would be just fine in my utopia. But what does that have to do with the big companies that actually are destroying the world? The Exxons and BPs and Trans Canada and Monsanto and etc.

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