Links May Day 2014

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California readers: Please come to our CalPERS hearing or encourage CalPERS retirees in the Bay Area to attend. It’s this Friday, May 2, 2014, 9:30 a.m., Superior Court of California, Department 302. That’s on the third floor of 400 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 (map). But be sure to check here after 2:00 PM PDT on Thursday! The judge may postpone the hearing, so double check that it is still on before you drop by.

However, if it is on (probable), this looks to be an unusually fiery hearing, so please come if you can. More explanation here.

Mad Magazine’s Al Feldstein Dies at 88 New York Times

Kittens reaching peak cuteness Daily Mash

Animals in the military DW. Link to slideshow on the first page under “Editors’ Choice”

In the 1970s, Scientists Discovered a 2 Billion-Year-Old Nuclear Reactor in West Africa Physics arXiv

Ancient hunting camp found beneath Lake Huron USA Today

Mysterious Kidney Disease Slays Farmworkers In Central America NPR (furzy mouse)

Programming Sucks Still Drinking

China April Manufacturing Data Add to Signs of Weakness: Economy Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s folly Columbia Journalism Review. On how Bloomberg caved when pressured on investigations into official corruption.

China’s pollution plagues coastal waters Financial Times

Gerry Adams held over 1972 murder BBC

U.K. Economy: Goldilocks and the Three Charts WSJ Economics

House price boom ripples out of London Telegraph

A rejoinder to ELSTAT’s & EUROSTAT’s defence of the New Greek Statistics Yanis Varoufakis

Syria ‘stalling’ on giving up chemical weapons, U.S. says Washington Post


Ukraine Says That Pro-Russia Militants Won the East New York Times. Wow, the Grey Lady can’t put lipstick on this pig.

Ukraine government ‘has lost control of east’ Guardian

Ukraine: Coup-Government Acknowledges Defeat Moon of Alabama

Ukraine and Georgia: Different Approaches Counterpunch

Putin Threatens Retaliation Against Western Oil Companies OilPrice

IMF Warns Further Sanctions Will Prolong Russian Recession Wall Street Journal

White House urges business to snub Putin Financial Times. Another pathetic gesture.

UK drives hunt for Ukraine’s missing billions DW

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

British Spy Chiefs Secretly Begged to Play in NSA’s Data Pools Intercept

The Strangest Interview Yet With the Outgoing Head of the NSA Atlantic

What’s The NSA Doing Now? Training More Cyberwarriors NPR

Obamacare Launch

Major Obamacare insurer backs away from double-digit rate hike prediction Washington Post

Report: 67% of Obamacare enrollees have paid so far CNN. Note so far this isn’t off track with the rule of thumb that 80% of enrollees will pay. The last-minute ones haven’t been billed yet.

The White House’s Obamacare victory lap looking more like a false start Washington Post

Why Democrats should worry about the ABC/Post poll Politico

DCCC: “Final notice” Lambert

Dem donor secrecy: ‘Irony, but it’s not hypocrisy’ Politico

Shifting Demographics Tilt U.S. Races Wall Street Journal

White House opens door to tolls on interstate highways, removing long-standing prohibition Washington Post (Carol B)

As New Shipping Rules Are Studied, Another Oil Train Derails New York Times

For more states, execution means improvisation Washington Post

Forecasting a Speedup in Growth, the Fed Again Cuts Bond Purchases New York Times

US unemployment: A long-term trap Financial Times

Fast Food Pulls a Fast One Michael Winship, Moyers & Company

OCC: 87% of settlement funds distributed to borrowers Housing Wire

A new housing bubble? UCLA (Lisa E)

Post-Crash economics clashes with ‘econ tribe’ Cameron K. Murray (Richard Alford)

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse). Before and after pet photos:


And a bonus, the trailer for a movie about Aaron Swartz, which has gotten good reviews at Sundance. Please circulate.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Jim Haygood

    Here’s an extremely rare admission in the MSM that Israel runs a segregated school system, of the kind that disappeared 50 years ago in the U.S.:

    Israel’s schools are as fragmented as Israeli society itself, with four distinct systems: secular, state-funded Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, and Arab. As of 2011, 56 percent of Israeli Jews attended secular schools, 25 percent went to ultra-Orthodox schools and 19 percent studied in state-sponsored religious schools, according to government data. About a quarter of the pupils are Arab Israelis.

    While the government built more than 3,000 classrooms in Arab schools between 2007 and 2011, as part of a five-year plan to reduce disparities, that system still suffered from a shortage of more than 6,000 classrooms and 4,000 teachers, according to the Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education, an advocacy group.

    “It’s quite simple: The Ministry of Education discriminates between Arab and Jewish students by allocating less money to Arab schools,” said Atef Moaddi, director of the Nazareth-based committee. “Unless new funds are allocated, Arab children will continue to suffer from underfunded schools.”


    Integrating Israel’s schools isn’t even on the table. Worth remembering, next time a politician claims it ‘shares our democratic values.’

    1. F. Beard

      It’s simple, let the Arabs convert to Judaism. There’s only one God and apparently they picked the wrong candidate.

      What would your choice be, Jim?

        1. skippy

          Actually its a bit of a grab bag, not unlike the RCC allowing indigenous spiritual beliefs to be incorporated into its ritual observances to forward membership. Previous mythology’s evolve or are commingled for political purposes as ethnic groups spread out and then bump into each other, something that has been going on since hunter gather i.e. the sharing or imposing of ideals [technological and mythical].

          skippy… add in psychotropics and you have the worlds longest party eva.

  2. Ulysses

    Interesting discussion of the Anglophone Academy by Max Haiven:

    “In other words, far from a reclusive cloister or merely an institution of privilege, the university has become central to the operations and reproduction of capitalist economic and social relations, and the crisis of the university today cannot be separated from the crises of the capitalist system of which it is an intimate component: the financial crisis, the post-Fordist crisis, the ecological crisis, the crises of social reproduction and the overarching ideological and imaginative crises that haunt capitalism today.”

      1. Vatch

        It means they’ll never send another letter asking for a donation until next month.

  3. diptherio

    Re: US Unemployment: A long-term Trap ~FT

    There are also worries that technological shifts and globalisation have left many US workers unfit for the high-skilled jobs of the 21st century, making it even more difficult for the long-term unemployed to make a comeback. The evidence that the US is suffering from a chronic skills mismatch has been mixed, but much of the political attention in Washington has been focused on tackling that very problem.

    Last month President Obama and Joe Biden, the vice-president, took a rare joint trip to a Pennsylvania community college to tout a $600m package of job-training proposals. These are designed to help schools link with businesses to equip workers for jobs in fast-growing sectors, from information technology, to advanced manufacturing, to healthcare.

    Whatever happened to on-the-job-training? Hell, I’m only in my thirties and even I can remember a time when pretty much every employer would train you for your job (and pay you while they trained you).

    The truth is, this isn’t a matter of job training, it’s a matter of not enough jobs being provided by the private sector. All this “teach a man to fish” BS is just another distraction to keep the little people from realizing what the problem actually is and that their leaders aren’t doing crap to fix it.

    Ed Whitfield, of the Fund for Democratic Communities has a great bit that he does debunking this whole idea:
    Why the “teaching a man to fish” parable is a lie

    1. CarlH

      The power imbalance between labor and capital has shifted enough that the burden of training is entirely on the worker. Not only are employers unwilling to invest in training new hires, but even if one goes through a course of training to acquire some skill or technical certification they will be passed up unless they have multiple years of experience doing the exact same work.

      There’s simply too many available candidates for employers to choose from for retraining to help the long-term unemployed. Maybe once U6 is back below 10% that will change.

      1. jrs

        “Not only are employers unwilling to invest in training new hires, but even if one goes through a course of training to acquire some skill or technical certification they will be passed up unless they have multiple years of experience doing the exact same work.”

        Yes exactly but the truth is noone is all that productive doing the same work for years and years either. It does jack for job satisfaction or even productivity as all it does it produce horrible boredom (please, please give me some slight variation …). And I don’t even mean the division of labor, I mean the nano division of labor where you can’t do a related but not identical task because you haven’t been doing it for 10 years.

    2. RanDomino

      On-the-job training? Sounds like you’re asking corporations to do something that would cost them some amount of money with no immediate return. Why do you hate job creators?

      1. McMike

        You see, if they first privatize eduction, then the companies GET PAID by the taxpayers to train their own workers.


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Until they, meaning the pharmaceutical corporations, in conjunction with brain researchers, come up with pills that have the ability to train and educate humans, by constructing neural connections inside one’s brain…sort of ‘brain-infrastructure project’ pills.

          It is based on the same idea that to lose weight, you can do it by taking pills, instead of exercising.

  4. JerseyJeffersonian

    One of my favorite twisted poems from Mad Magazine (with apologies to Wynken, Blynken, and Nod):

    Melvin, Norman and Fred one night
    Sailed off in a garbage scow,
    Sailed down the river of floating blight
    With coffee grounds on the prow.

    Where are you going
    and what do you want
    the Coastguard asked the three
    We have come in search of the city dump
    Where a thousand rats run free
    Stuff that’s rancid and ripe have we
    Said Melvin, Norman, and Fred

    The Coastguard scowled and searched the three
    As they rocked in the garbage scow
    They found smuggled guns in kegs marked tea
    And contraband in the prow.
    We wonder who could have put that stuff there
    Surely it wasn’t we
    So wimpered aloud the smugglers three
    Melvin, Norman, and Fred

    Melvin and Fred are at Levenworth
    and Norman’s on the rock
    The garbage scow has a lovely birth
    In custody at the dock.
    Melvin’s due out this coming fall
    And Fred in ’23
    Norman…he tried to go over a wall
    But a guard just happened to see
    And that was the end of 1/3 of the three
    Melvin, Norman, and Fred.

  5. McMike

    re programming sucks.

    Seems to me a bridge builder might indeed say the exact same thing about construction projects. Or a teacher about education. Or a dancer about a new Broadway play. Certainly a solder about war. Certainly a congressional staffer.

    In fact, it strikes me that nearly every human endeavor more complicated than a task you can do by yourself in your backyard in an afternoon ends up resembling trying to build an airplane while it is already in flight.

  6. Klassy

    Happy May Day
    According to an account I read, on this day in 1932 from 35,000 to 100,000 people turned out for the May Day March in NYC. And the spectators were friendly! The communists (and many others) were so convinced of the inevitability of the revolution that they could afford to direct their wrath at the socialist Jewish Daily Forward as they passed their offices.
    The government has money when it is needed to tamp down revolutionary fervor. At least in 1932 the means weren’t surveillance and prisons.

  7. Cal

    “Mysterious kidney disease”….

    “A similar epidemic is afflicting sugar farmers in Sri Lanka, in response, the Sri Lankan government banned the use of glyphosate this past March. It is the generic version of the popular herbicide marketed by Monsanto as Roundup.

    Officials at the Ingenio San Antonio in Chichigalpa say they also use Roundup. But a link between the herbicide and the disease hasn’t been proven.”

    Why don’t the corporate officials at Monsanto bury this scurrilous rumor once and for all by having their wives and children drink a glass of water with a drop of the “harmless” Roundup in it on national T.V. We must stop these attacks on these companies that are just trying to make a living and create so many jobs.

    Study: Monsanto’s Roundup Herbicide Linked to Cancer, Autism, Parkinson’s
    Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, may be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” say authors
    – Andrea Germanos, staff writer

    The active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide may be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” being responsible for a litany of health disorders and diseases including Parkinson’s, cancer and autism, according to a new study.”

  8. Cal

    Wow, I didn’t know how natural nuclear reactors were. They are just like sunshine and puppies and flowers. I guess that means they must be safe in our communities and upwind of us. Why doesn’t Wall Street put together some kind of investor driven financial instruments to guarantee funds to pay for clean up of nuclear waste and closure of plants as well as the tiny percentage of health effects that might be proximate to them?

    1. hunkerdown

      Whaaat? They’re as safe as anything else in nature once you take humans out of ’em.

  9. Vatch

    The link “UK drives hunt for Ukraine’s missing billions” got me thinking about the claims that Victoria Nuland orchestrated the Ukrainian uprising against Yanukovych with $5 billion or $6 billion dollars. For one thing, how much of that money was diverted into the private accounts of oligarchs? Any diverted funds would have been unavailable for the purpose of instigating the demonstrations and the uprising.

    Another huge question: when was the money donated? Was all of it donated and spent in the past year or two, while Yanukovych was president? Or was it donated and spent over a long period of time? A web search suggests that the money was donated and spent over a 22 year period, starting in 1992. So an average of $273 million was spent per year. Here’s what Politifact has to say:

    We had a feeling that folks repeating the claim missed important context from Nuland’s speech. Wasn’t Nuland talking about money given since Ukraine broke away from the Soviet Union?

    The State Department said yes.

    “The insinuation that the United States incited the people of Ukraine to riot or rebel is patently false,” said Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokeswoman.

    Since 1992, the government has spent about $5.1 billion to support democracy-building programs in Ukraine, Thompson said, with money flowing mostly from the Department of State via U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as the departments of Defense, Energy, Agriculture and others. The United States does this with hundreds of other countries.

    About $2.4 billion went to programs promoting peace and security, which could include military assistance, border security, human trafficking issues, international narcotics abatement and law enforcement interdiction, Thompson said. More money went to categories with the objectives of “governing justly and democratically” ($800 million), “investing in people” ($400 million), economic growth ($1.1 billion), and humanitarian assistance ($300 million).

    The descriptions are a bit vague, which could lead people to think the money was used for some clandestine purpose.

    But even if it that were so, the money in question was spent over more than 20 years. Yanukovych was elected in 2010. So any connection between the protests and the $5 billion is inaccurate.

    And Obama was elected in 2008, so any connection between $5 billion and Obama also is inaccurate.

    Contrary to claims, the United States did not spend $5 billion to incite the rebellion in Ukraine.

    That’s a distorted understanding of remarks given by a State Department official. She was referring to money spent on democracy-building programs in Ukraine since it broke off from the Soviet Union in 1991.

    We rate the claim Pants on Fire.

    Does anyone have evidence that refutes the Politifact verdict?

    1. Jason Ipswitch

      The difficulty with that narrative is that the United States has a demonstrated history of using ‘democracy-building programs’ as cover for much less savory operations. See the story of the Fake Cuban Twitter for one recent example.

      As far as I’m aware, no one has presented ‘proof’ that the money was used, directly or indirectly, to work towards the eventual overthrow of a pro-Russian (or insufficiently pro-Western) Ukrainian government. Neither does there appear to be definitive evidence that some branch of the Russian government is behind the separatists in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Yet based on past behavior it is a reasonable assumption that both claims are true.

      1. Vatch

        Hi Jason, thanks for your reasonable reply. I think it is very likely that some of the money was used in the past year or so to encourage dissent against the Yanukovych administration. But the amount spent on such activities was certainly far less than the 5 or 6 billion dollars that people have been claiming. Most of that money was spent long before Yanukovych became the Ukrainian president.

        People weren’t demonstrating in Maidan because salaried Ukrainian agents of the U.S. government tricked them into doing that. They were there because they were fed up and furious.

        1. Jess

          “People weren’t demonstrating in Maidan because salaried Ukrainian agents of the U.S. government tricked them into doing that. They were there because they were fed up and furious.”

          Absolutely correct. We simply assisted and exploited an already fertile critical mass of hugely dissatisfied normal everyday folks. And now those same folks will get screwed over again by US/EU austerity.

          1. Vatch

            I agree. The Ukrainian people are the victims, whether the victimizer is the U.S. government, the E.U, the I.M.F., Vladimir Putin, the Ukrainian oligarchs, or a combination of several of these.

            1. bwilli123

              more detail from the well informed John Helmer, Dean of the Moscow Foreign media

              …”in the millions of dollars spent to date on Ukrainian democracy, almost nothing has been paid by the US to encourage Ukrainians to expose, challenge, or remove the Ukrainian oligarchs who control, still, the Ukrainian economy.

              The US budget for Ukrainian democracy became a state secret at the start of this year. Before, congressional budget documents for the State Department, US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) indicate annual spending of about $100 million per year on Ukraine. Of this, about $10 million went on democracy training. About one-third of that was handed out to local Ukrainian organizations.

              According to the 2012 NED report, $3,098,038 was awarded to these locals. Just one grant was made to help investigate and expose corruption. That was for $31,293,…”

              1. Synopticist

                “Just one grant was made to help investigate and expose corruption. That was for $31,293,…”

                Yeah, that figures. NED spends a hundred million, of which thirty thousand goes on fighting corruption, in one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Ten million on “democracy training” eh? Or rather soft power coup training.

                And they wonder why they’re losing the PR war to the Russians. Reading the comments under the Guardian piece is interesting. The most popular are those bashing the west, by a long way.

                1. Vatch

                  Mr. Helmer appears to have made an error. The amount in the report is more than 10 times larger than $31,293. One particular grant was for $359,945, and there were several others from around $25,000 to close to $70,000. Search for the word “transparency”:

                  2012 NED Ukraine Report

                  Still, I agree that more should have been done to combat corruption.

                  1. JerseyJeffersonian

                    Clutching at straws again. Unconvincing, as is most of your argumentation above. Crayfishing a wee bit with, “gee, it probably would have been better to actually tackle, you know, the oligarch issue a bit more forcefully”, just won’t cut it.

                    The intent of the whole process of funding those NGOs all along had nothing – repeat, nothing – to do with advancing the best interests of the Ukrainian people; it was all about tricking the poor bastards into opening the door so that the US could sweep in and further encroach upon the near abroad of Russia; Clinton did it, GW did it, and now Obama is doing it.

                    Those Ukrainian oligarchs who were willing to play ball would be untouched, a classic pattern in US policy around the world for a half century. These oligarchs think only of themselves, and that suits the US policy makers to a T; by assuring them that they will retain impunity for all of their ongoing corruption if they help sell Ukraine down the river, they can be enlisted to the cause of slipping Ukraine into NATO’s pocket, and a filthy deal will be struck. Did you not notice how the putsch immediately appointed several of these oligarchs to “govern” regions of eastern Ukraine. How illegitimate do these actions have to be for you to avoid recognizing the situation for what it is? It is gangsterism, plain and simple; it has absolutely nothing to do with respecting the legitimate aspirations of the Ukrainians for a better life, transparently so because they_weren’t_asked. No, the people will be left to the tender mercies of the IMF, those NeoLiberal rapists, after all is said and done.

                    You want a nauseating example of how our Western Misleaders have been, and no doubt still are, playing footsie with corrupt Ukrainian oligarchs? Here you go:


                    This is how they roll, abroad and at home.

                    Okay, I shouted down the well. A fair lot of good it’ll do.

                    One final Parthian shot: you make a great deal out of how $5 billion dollars of expenditure, stretched out over a number of years, isn’t too much on an annualized basis; but there is an opportunity cost associated with this large aggregate expenditure, namely that it was not spent to the benefit of the citizens of THIS country. In the final analysis, after all of the logic chopping, and crafting of excuses, how do you justify such an expenditure on some empire-building project, rather than applying it to the real, present, and enduring good of the citizens of the US? After all, it’s our money, not some slush fund for grandiloquent sociopaths to advance their malign, dehumanizing agenda around the globe.

                    1. Vatch

                      Just a few points:

                      1. I didn’t “make a great deal out of how $5 billion” was spent over a period of years. It was other people who had made “a great deal” out of the $5 billion, and they made it appear that the money was spent to finance the uprising. Their claim was false, and I proved that.

                      2. It’s pretty clear that the money was wasted, considering how things are in Ukraine. U.S. taxpayer dollars shouldn’t have been wasted like that.

                      3. The people in eastern Ukraine will trade Ukrainian oligarchs for Russian oligarchs. Little, if anything, will change for them. Crimea might be an exception, since Putin may decide to make that a showcase of his “benevolence”.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Gawd, Vatch, you are like a dog with a bone–you just NEVER give up.

      The veracity of an explanation is inversely proportional to the time it takes to make it up. In this case, it’s taken so long to come up with this farcical “average $273 million per year over 22 years” line that it doesn’t even register on the scale.

      You want refutaional evidence, try this:

      “The insinuation that the United States incited the people of Ukraine to riot or rebel is patently false,” said Nicole Thompson, a State Department spokeswoman.”

      If a state department “spokesperson’s” lips are moving, they are lying. When taken in “context.”

      1. Vatch

        6 billion / 22 years approximately equals 273 million. Try using a calculator.

        If you have some facts, I’m interested. As for being a dog with a bone, there are others on this forum who have posted far more messages about Ukraine than I have. But since you agree with them, I guess they aren’t dogs with bones.

    3. Banger

      The conclusion does not follow the facts. First, what is written into a budget may or may not reflect the facts bur I’m inclined to believe the money was spent, more or less, as the article indicated. What was done there, or any other part of the world that has significant strategic importance, is that relationships were set up with groups that had sympathy with U.S. interests. However, any budget to, say, pay demonstrators would have come out of intelligence funds that cannot be traced or accounted for–some of these funds come from the budget for CIA and some come out of other agencies (mainly the Pentagon–though they have no control over it) and some of the funds come from all the various illegal enterprises that all intel agencies indulge in.

      We have to remember that, on the surface, the Ukraine coup follows a pattern that is typical of CIA operations. We also need to understand that since 9/11 the CIA and it’s world of contractors were given a new lease on life and were allowed to “take off the gloves” when dealing with “terrorists” which means any person or entity that opposes the will of the national security state.

      1. Vatch

        I certainly agree with you that the finances of the Deep State are dark and labyrinthine, especially since 9/11. I also believe that people like V. Nuland influenced events in Ukraine, but I’m skeptical that they were even close to being fully in control. They may have had some luck when their man “Yats” got the job. I think there would have been demonstrations against Yanukovych sooner or later, even without U.S. meddling.

        I don’t think that “coup” is the precisely correct word for what happened, although it’s far more concise than anything that I could come up with. I think it was a botched impeachment following furious anti-government demonstrations with a denied but real presidential resignation. I can understand the preference for the word “coup”!

        Whatever the causes of these events, the Ukrainian people are likely to be tormented by IMF austerity, and Aleksandr Dugin‘s Eurasianist Greater Russia movement will take a few steps forward.

        1. Jackrabbit

          “They may have had some luck when their man “Yats” got the job . . .”

          Nuland spoke with confidence as a kingmaker. “Luck” had nothing to do with it.

          How do you explain the training of Right Sector thugs in Poland. I don’t think any of the State Dept money went for that. I’m sure that there is a lot of expenses and funding that has not been accounted for. And how much money has US puppet allied govts distributed in Ukraine?

          Then, consider this: Ukrainians are very poor. A few hundred million each year means a LOT more to the average Ukrainian than to people in the prosperous West. $300 million/ year is probably more like $2 billion to us.

          Lastly, consider motivations and results. 6-9 months after Snowden in June 2013 and Syria in August 2013, there is Maidan (Feb 2014). Yanokovich does not seem to have been anti-West – he signed a deal with Chevon in Fall 2013 and gave EU an opportunity to bid for Ukraine trade. He accepted what was clearly a much better deal from Russia. But instead of a counter bid from EU, Ukraine got demonstrations. Then when a deal was struck to end the Maidan crisis, it was torn up. And now, the conflict is not even about democracy as the West refuses to accept self-determination!

          It is disingenuous to claim (and you are not the only one) that the influence of the money is being blown out of proportion with out addressing all of the means brought to bear and the context. They paid what they felt they had to pay. Neocon/neolib ideologues pushed for a result and they are still pushing.

          1. Vatch

            Just because Nuland displayed confidence in public, doesn’t mean that she was in control of the situation. Maybe she’s just arrogant or she’s a slick B.S. artist.

            If Yanukovych wasn’t anti-Western, then why would the Neo-cons be so stupid as to try to overthrow him? Did they want to create disorder? Perhaps, but if so, events have certainly blown up in their faces.

            Funny thing about self-determination: in one set of circumstances, faction A supports self-determination and faction B opposes it. In another set of circumstances, faction B supports it, and faction A is opposed. I hate to step into the Syrian morass, but that country has been ruled by the Alawite minority for decades. Russia opposes self determination for the majority of the country, and the U.S., well, okay, I admit, I really don’t know what the U.S. government supports. In contrast, in eastern Ukraine, Russia does support self-determination.

            I think what really has been happening in Ukraine this year is still very unclear.

            1. Jackrabbit

              Vatch, each of the series of points you make is an attempt to muddy the waters. This just shows the weakness of your the position you are trying to advance.

              Muddy#1: Nuland’s confidence . . . maybe she’s . . .
              Your conjecture is both truism and silly on its face.

              Muddy#2: Why would the neocons be so stupid . . . [it has] blown up in their faces
              They are ideologues. They do what they think advances their interests without much care for anyone else. WE are all expected to pay for their adventures in blood and treasure – they will NOT suffer from any ‘blowback’. Russia is blocking neocon plans.

              Muddy#3: Next you seek to dismiss the hypocrisy in Ukraine by relativism and false equivalence.

              Muddy#4: Whats been happening in Ukraine is very clear to anyone who bothers to pay attention because the powerful interests behind what is happening have clear goals that they are pushing to achieve.

              1. Vatch

                Oh, no you don’t. I’m not muddying anything. The situation in Ukraine is already very muddy. Unjustified claims of clarity are completely wrong in cases like this. Pretending that there’s clarity where there’s only mud is a technique of the True Believer. Reality rarely fits within the confines of an ideology.

                1. Jackrabbit

                  Vatch, who do you think you’re fooling?

                  Harping on minor points, ignoring context, offering strained explanations to excuse and confuse is muddying the waters. Period.

                  Now you compound this with being argumentative. In any conflict there will be some confusion on the ground but when you look at the powerful interests at play and understand the larger context, then it is clear what is happening.

                  Muddying the waters is an attempt to relieve those responsible for this clusterf@#k from any responsibility. And it is clear from other comments that you have received that I’m not the only one that sees through your BS.

                  1. Vatch

                    You were argumentative before I was , with your claims that I was muddying the waters, and that I was being disingenuous. Pardon me for defending myself.

                    I’m not supporting the neo-cons. I do not want American troops in Ukraine. I do believe that Putin is an imperialist (like the neo-cons), and he is in the process of expanding his empire. That is the larger picture.

                    Yes, several people disagree with me here. There are also people who agree with me, but they’ve been shouted down over the past couple of months, and they’re probably tired of the abuse, so they don’t post messages on this topic anymore.

  10. Dino Reno

    UK drives hunt for Ukraine’s missing billions

    At first I thought it must be an Onion Headline, as in, investigators surprised to find the money stuffed in their own mattresses. Since The City, and by extension the UK, is running the biggest and best dirty money laundering operation in the world, one would think that finding one particular slug of Ukrainian money would be a slam dunk. But it’s complicated. So many banks, so many shells, so much money makes the task, well you get it, impossible. It could take months, maybe years to find it right under their noses and by that time it may be gone to God knows where (some other bank down the street). Turns out the UK miracle of a return to prosperity is not such a miracle after all.

    1. windsock

      Try living here… the political system is a farce, the economics are ridiculous, the bureaucracy is fragmented, the welfare is being turned into a criminal justice system the NHS is being demonised and dismantled…. while we watch, powerless to do anything except laugh among ourselves and wait for the collapse when we can build from the ground up, again.,

    2. Otter

      Its very complicated. Not only do they need to find enough money laundered by the bad guys to make good headlines; but also they need to avoid finding money laundered by the good guys in the junta.

  11. F. Beard

    re: For more states, execution means improvisation Washington Post

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

  12. David Brunner

    Yves, I’m a tech entrepreneur in SF with a doctorate from HBS. I greatly appreciate your work. I’m trying to decide whether to attend the hearing tomorrow, but it would help to know how I can be useful for you. Is it helpful just to show up as an indication of public interest in the matter? Or should I have brief prepared remarks? If the latter, pointers on how to be constructive would be extremely helpful. For me, and I expect for some other readers, court hearings are not within my area of expertise! Apologies if this is a distraction. Thanks again for your extraordinary blog.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks so much for your willingness to attend!

      This is a legal proceeding, so members of the audience do not have the opportunity to participate. But it will be helpful to show public interest and to show support for Team Transparency.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I am sure that is completely wrong.

    It should be like this: Humans reach peak kitten cuteness awareness.

    The cause?

    Our brains are deteriorating faster than we can even comprehend. We are sicker than we think.

  14. financial matters

    Regulatory arbitrage. Hard to avoid. Why are we taxing businesses and workers anyway? We should be heavily taxing rentier activity and the activity that leads to destruction of businesses such as raiding. Let the businesses create jobs. Also don’t burden them with another extravagant rentier activity, health insurance. The government can afford health insurance and needs to use taxes to help promote productive activity.

    Tax inversion deals highlight the need for tax code reform in the U.S.
    May 1 2014

    If Pfizer is successful in acquiring U.K.-based AstraZeneca, its plan to redomicile there will save it millions in corporate taxes. The tax arbitrage scheme, called an inversion, creates a holding company in the foreign country with the lower tax rate. Britain’s corporate tax rate is 21% (20% next year) which is substantially lower than the U.S.’s top rate of 35% (up to 40% when state and local taxes are included).

    About 24 U.S. companies have employed this strategy since 2008. Ireland, Canada, Switzerland and the Netherlands are also popular destinations for redomiciling.

    According to Reuters, many of the m&a deals this year have been driven, at least in part, by tax inversions.

    Predictably, investment bankers are working feverishly to generate deals in various industries that take advantage of the loophole before Congress acts to close it.S

    Some lawmakers say that the best solution is to reform the U.S. business tax code.

  15. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Strangest Interview Yet With the Outgoing Head of the NSA

    Spooks typically lie through omission. There isn’t a point in the interview where Alexander blatantly lies to John Oliver. As such he neglects to mention the fact that the NSA is externally overseen through a system of voluntary reporting. What happens in the instance that the NSA deliberately chooses to keep any access violations to themselves?

    Anyway, I’d really love to see a few of those “Oops, I accidentally targeted an American” reports. Especially the violations involving illegal access for the sole purpose of LOVEINT.

    “Did you intentionally target an American?”


    “If yes, why did you do it?”

    I’m stalking a hottie who might be a potential girlfriend in the future.

    “Any further comments?”

    Yeaaaaah, buddy! *censored*

  16. ep3

    Was just reviewing our BCBS rates for the coming year. They are now rating persons by age. So a 40 year old pays $400 a month while a 60 year old pays $850. There is no longer a family rate; you take each spouse’s rate, add those together and then for each child under 18 you add a flat rate to get a total. for example, one spouse is 38 paying $395, the other spouse 42 paying $434, with 3 children paying $195 each, for a total of $1,414 a month for coverage. For our company, which is a small business on the 50 employee borderline, our rates jumped between 15% and 50% over last year’s “pre-obamacare” rates.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Haha, that really means Matt Stoller gets to run most stuff, since virtually everyone on that list listens to him! But still a nice shout out.

  17. JerseyJeffersonian

    The South China Sea Follies – this should be fun.

    So, our clueless diplomats are running around, signing documents happily construed by their counterparties as ironclad guarantees of military support – come what may, and no matter how the confrontations were sparked, or who was identifiably an aggressor – that may obligate the US to enter a state of war against other nations via conveyor belt. More “entangling alliances” struck as part of the “Pivot to Asia”™. Excuse me, but in this centenary year of the beginning of WWI, this sounds painfully familiar; automatic warfare as a result of ill-considered alliances with nations likely to take Big Brother standing behind them as a fine occasion to throw some weight around. Let’s you and him fight.

    China, the target of said “Pivot to Asia”, after having seen a clear, convincing, and above all, unrelenting demonstration of the mendacity of the US, the West in general, and its military alliances in their efforts to isolate and ultimately destroy Russia over a course of years, is not amused. Kissinger – bless his black little heart – must be shitting bricks to see the result of his diplomatic efforts to put some space between Russia and China coming unraveled right before his eyes. Instead, the two major powers of the World Island of Eurasia (h/t Halford Mackinder) are ineluctably being drawn together as they perceive themselves to be comrades in arms against a common enemy.

    Let’s hear it for our perspicacious Elites.

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