Links 6/13/14

‘Game of Thrones’ creator George Martin breaks his promise, joins Twitter RT. He’ll never get the damn book done if he starts tweeting!

A superbug resistant to “last-resort” antibiotics has made its way into the food supply  Salon. So awesome.

FDA Backs Down In Fight Over Aged Cheese Forbes. That was fast. If only working at Walmart were considered artisanal, the workers there might catch a break!

The French are right: tear up public debt – most of it is illegitimate anyway Guardian

How to destroy the web of Debt Golem XIV

Goldman and Bain pay $121m to settle buyout conspiracy case FT

How $170,000 in Options Moved Clorox Shares $450 Million Bloomberg

SEC Commissioner calls on US regulators to end turf wars FT

Tesla Making Patents ‘Open Source’ to Boost Electric Cars Bloomberg

EPA leaves out the most vital number in their fact sheet Watts Up With That? (TL) “We ran the numbers as to how much future temperature rise would be averted by a complete adoption and adherence to the EPA’s new carbon dioxide restrictions.”

Who Does Wall Street Own In Washington? Down With Tyranny (RR)

Giddy Dems’ new strategy: Watch the GOP implode Politico. Obama: “At a certain point issues are important enough to fight for.”

How ordinary Americans can influence policy – no super PAC required Al Jazeera. Follow-up on Page-Gilens study.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Mother Of Seven Dies in Jail While Serving Sentence For The Truancy Of Her Children Jonathan Turley

Fusion Centers Approached 2011 Black Friday Consumer Boycott Like a Terrorist Threat Partnership for Civil Justice (RS). “The ICSC report detailing Occupy Black Friday ‘threats’ includes images of ‘Sample Anti-Black Friday Icons and Posters’ with slogans urging people to ‘buy local’ or ‘do your shopping at a small independent merchant.'” Crazy pants.

Chile Rejects $8 Billion Dam Project in Patagonia AP (TL)

Schroedinger’s Kingdom: the Scottish Political Singularity Explained Charles Stross

JK Rowling donates £1m to Scotland’s anti-independence campaign Guardian

The Corleones of the Caspian Foreign Policy

Cordesman Laments, Confirms Russian “Radically Different” Views Moon of Alabama

Why Bashar Assad is still in charge Economist


Americans being evacuated from Iraqi air base AP

Obama says ‘all options on table’ to aid Iraq, but others say that’s not really true McClatchy

U.S. Secretly Flying Drones Over Iraq Wall Street Journal. Senior US Official: “It’s not like it did any good.”

Baghdad launches air strikes on insurgents in Mosul FT

ISIS “success” facilitated by betrayal, Iraqi government inadequacies Al Akhbar (Beirut)

Iraq Splinters Into Pieces, Al Qaeda in Control of Several Cities, Kurds Take Oil City Kirkuk; Thank George Bush and the Neocons; Iraq Before and After Global Economic Analysis

The Iraqi Army Was Crumbling Long Before Its Collapse, U.S. Officials Say Times

U.S. State Dept. Document Confirms Regime Change Agenda in Middle East Middle East Briefing

Iraq is the ultimate startup everyone knew was doomed Pando Daily

The Fall of Mosul and the False Promises of Modern History Juan Cole

Class Warfare

Hedge Fund Billionaire: The Statue of Liberty Was Great PR When the Oceans Kept Out the ‘Weak’ Observations on Credit and Surveillance. Funny, but being smart about money doesn’t mean you’re smart about anything else.

U.S. Economic Recovery Looks Distant as Growth Stalls Times

U.S. retail sales miss expectations, jobless claims rise Reuters

Cameron hosted Thai billionaire linked to slavery in fishing industry Guardian (Dhanin Chearavanont).

Pact to halt forced labour snubbed by Thailand, Gulf – ILO Thomson-Reuters Foundation

The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra LRB. Good background for the Thai junta’s coup.

Thai junta holding the mother of all garage sales Spectrum sale. “Sources have confirmed rumours that the MICT [state telecom authority] is at least in the vendor consultation phase of a total lock-down of the domestic internet. Under the plan, every Thai citizen will need to authenticate an internet log-on session with a smart ID card. Earlier reports said that every citizen will have at most 6 IP addresses allocated at any one time. Asked how foreigners can access the internet, the permanent secretary answered, ‘I have not thought of that yet,’ one vendor said.”

U.S. expats find their money is no longer welcome at the bank Reuters. FACTA. They won’t even let us escape!

Social media has been privatised. Why do we treat it as a public space? New Statesman

The Revolution Will Not Be Monetized Inc.

Antidote du jour, the owl of Minerva:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. vidimi

    very important: Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis worsens as tens of thousands flee combat in east

    this has been going on for weeks, but none of the media have been reporting on it. some key quotes:

    Fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian militia is fuelling a worsening humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing combat, most of them from the rebel capital of Slavyansk, where almost daily shelling has claimed numerous civilian casualties since late May.

    Most residents in the besieged city have been without water, electricity and gas for the past week. Food supplies are limited, and grocery stores smell of rotting food from the lack of refrigeration. Dozens of people queue for drinking water.

    About 270 people have died in the east of the country since Kiev launched its “anti-terrorist operation” two months ago, Ukraine’s health ministry said on Wednesday. Of those killed, 225 were in Donetsk region, including Slavyansk, where fighting has been heaviest. At least two children have died of shrapnel wounds in Slavyansk this month, according to the health ministry. However, past government estimates have been low, excluding deaths in rebel-held territory.

    Appalling conditions in rebel-held towns have caused thousands to flee. The exodus from Slavyansk gathered pace when Ukrainian army shelling intensified at the end of May, with most residents going to the nearby city of Svyatogorsk were they are dependent on the goodwill of locals for housing and food. About 15,000 to 20,000 refugees from Slavyansk have arrived in the city since the end of May, according to mayor Alexander Dzyuba.

    1. Banger

      It is truly tragic and the official media (all of the mainstream media is essentially a loose Ministry of Truth) is not reporting it because the U.S. covert operatives in Ukraine who are egging on the Ukrainian gov’t to try to make the conditions right for military action by Russia which then will spring up as a big surprise and the media will howl that it was unprovoked and so on. On the other hand, I sense part of the USG doesn’t want to bait the Russians so there’s a muddle.

      One of the missed issues with the Iraq War that some of us familiar with how Washington works kind of “got” was that there was no single U.S. policy in conducting the occupation. You had many agendas all going on at the same time and some at cross-purposes with the other–and this is just within Washington and doesn’t count the Brits and others who were running their own independent show (their involvement was very toxic). I think its the same thing in Ukraine–the neocon fanatics are running the show on the ground mainly with covert operatives including mercenaries and others are in Kiev urging more compromise to please the Europeans who are very nervous, obviously, over all this.

      1. Vatch

        What’s happening in Ukraine is truly tragic. But I’m not sure your sequence of events is quite correct. There already was military action by Russia when they occupied Crimea. That’s the main reason (possibly not the only reason) that the Ukrainian army is fighting in the east — they don’t want to lose any more provinces to Russia.

        1. Banger

          There was an overwhelming vote to join Russia from the citizens of Crimea and no spin can change that. Russia did not start this and did not remotely want the outcome of the Kiev coup which was carefully engineered by Washington which has changed its tactics from direct military conquest to covert operations.

          1. Vatch

            The vote occurred after Russia had occupied Crimea with their troops, and the electoral numbers strongly implied fraud. You often tell us that you are a realist. In the real world, how would you expect a country to act after a portion of its territory is taken by another country?

            A couple of days ago, the Links section pointed to an article about a huge tax fraud scandal. Whether Yanukovych’s tax chief was involved or not, we can be confident that the government was not collecting anything close to the taxes that were due. During the protests in Maidan, Yanukovych’s Berkut security thugs committed numerous crimes. It was somewhat reminiscent of the “disappearances” during Argentina’s dirty war. The Ukrainian people had enormous and legitimate grievances against the Yanukovych regime, and whatever involvement the U.S. had in recent events did not cause that.

              1. Vatch

                The treaty allowed them to be on their military bases, but not elsewhere in Crimea. Large numbers of troops left the bases, and that was a violation of the treaty. It’s likely that more troops arrived from Russia, although I don’t know whether that happened. Remember all the reports about soldiers without insignia at multiple places in Crimea?

                1. OIFVet

                  Remember all the reports of indiscriminate artillery and air strikes in civilian areas in Crimea? Yeah, me neither. You are basically rationalizing war crimes committed by the Kiev regime and then bemoaning the tragedy of it.

            1. Banger

              I doubt seriously Russia is in a position to rule people who don’t accept its rule particularly in an area that sensitive. I’ve seen no indications of fraud even in the mainstream. Troops have been there under a previous treaty. So I assume you believe that the Kiev change of gov’t was fueled by corruption of the previously freely elected administration and had nothing to do with Nuland and McCain’s NDE–next you’ll be telling me that the Shah of Iran came to power from a popular uprising against the democracy that preceded it. Ok, whatever….

              1. Vatch

                No, there were multiple causes for the Kiev change of regime. You seem to believe that actions of the the U.S. and other western powers were the only reason for the regime change. If I’m wrong about what you believe, please tell us.

                I already answered your comment about the treaty in my answer to Massinissa. Your snark about Iran is uncalled for. Of course the CIA engineered the overthrow of Mossadegh. Similarly, the Soviet Union engineered the overthrow of other countries.

                1. Banger

                  No, not exclusively but it was a situation the covert operatives have been waiting for quite a while. You need to inform yourself about the world of black ops which have no oversight. At the center of these operations, however hiding in plain sight is NDE. Nuland herself admitted that billions were spent on Ukraine not for democracy but for influence. Not that the Russians are innocents in this–that part of the world is pretty rough and dominated by gangs of oligarchs with shifting an dual alliances. But have you followed the history of the former USSR and the attempt by the U.S. to encircle Russia with missiles and alliances? This has nothing to do with the up Ukrainians of either west or east anymore than our adventures in dozens of countries has had anything to do with the welfare of the people involved. In short, I humbly suggest you open your eyes to the big picture rather than parrot government propaganda from a compliant media that systematically lies about most things of significance as a brief examination of history should show you.

                  1. Vatch

                    If I’m parroting U.S. propaganda, then perhaps you are parroting Russian propaganda. The world is very complex, and your idea of what constitutes the big picture appears to be rather selective. To paraphrase what Hamlet said to Horatio, there are more things in the real big picture than are dreamt of in your philosophy. I readily admit that my awareness of the big picture is similarly limited.

                    As for what Nuland said, we’ve discussed that already. It was spent over a period of more than 20 years. She was also very likely bragging and exaggerating her own importance.

                    1. Banger

                      We can agree with Shakespeare.

                      As for Russian propaganda, not very important for me. My analysis goes back to my early research on covert ops since WWII and the general goals of U.S. foreign policy around the world.

              2. Binky Bear

                That first sentence is the unintentionally funniest thing I have read in years. The next sentence is pretty funny too.
                There are no angels in international relations, just different teams of devils with little investment and less concern for human costs and outcomes. There are no good guys, just competing interests-it is a perfect outcome when a corrupt government is overthrown and replaced with a corrupt government.

        2. JL Furtif

          Whatever the Russians did or didn’t do, there is not a single report of casualties, not in Crimea, not elsewhere.
          The article in the Guardian talks about an ‘anti-terrorist’ action. Who are these people terrorizing, when they remain just at home? Why are they depicted as ‘pro-Russian’ when they declare themselves as ‘anti-Kiev’?
          On the other hand, having the army indiscreminately shell the civilian population is a war crime, which is not even mentioned, and even less condemned in the MSM.

      2. susan the other

        A truly strange article posted today on CNBC about how Iran, the US, and Maliki are going to form a coalition to protect Shiite interests in the region and put down the Sunnis and their terrorism. (aka our henchmen). Iran claimed to have lots of Shiite power and to control factions in Syria for (?) Assad which it could throw into the coalition against the Sunnis in Iraq. And it looks like the Kurds will be in on it with the oil fields they claim beneath Tikrit. Iran is intent on protecting Tehran (aka big oil fields on the Caspian). And blah blah blah. So the pilot thickens. It looks almost like Ukraine was just a mafia tactic by the West to pry Iran out of the friendly hands of Russia. So if the West drops Ukraine now like a hot potato and Russia is not vilified for extending its former influence over its former regions of interest we will know that we have finally secured a toehold in the Caspian. Maybe.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          When things go completely beyond the capacity of the American media to make any sense out of what is going, I tune in history and turn off the TV. In getting to the end of Tony Judt’s final Magnum Opus, “POSTWAR: A HISTORY OF EUROPE SINCE 1945”, there is a remarkable item during the midst of the dissolution of the USSR. George Bush Sr is visiting Kiev in Aug of 1991 and he is telling the Ukrainians to consider carefully what they are doing in trying to break from the Soviet Union and declare themselves a sovereign nation.
          “Some people”, he declared, ” have urged the US to choose between supporting Pres Gorbachev and supporting independence-minded leaders throughout the USSR. I consider this a false choice. Pres Gorbachev has achieved astonishing things… We will maintain the strongest possible relationship with the Soviet Government of Pres Gorbachev.”

          Here is the US President telling a part of the Soviet Union that America stands with the Soviet Union, and not you as an independent state. The strongest possible relationship will be maintained with Gorbachev government! Reagan and Bush and all of their advisers were completely confounded by comprehending what was going on at the time. So was Gorbachev for that matter. Today, there is precious little public understanding other than Ronald Reagan personally parachuted into the Kremlin and dispatched the Politburo thereby liberating the world from the evil empire. This cartoonish lie does not aid in understanding how important stability is to leaders around the world. And when armed hostilities break out, how damaging it is to the day to day business of politics, diplomacy, business and civil life in society. States may go to war, but society gets turned into a slaughter house. Whatever is going on today in the Ukraine is more complex than most analysts can present without an exhaustive and lengthy building up of details too foreign and time consuming for even the most educated and well read to contend with.

          Of course, as soon as Ukraine pops up on the serious radar, Iraq falls apart. The status quo, stability at any cost is the watchword for politicians who know how quickly the opened gates of hell can deliver a world of pain. By then, we are in the middle of a Plague.

  2. abynormal

    Love that fluffy Owl Lambert…Thanks

    combs her starlight hair –
    parliament of owls

    1. Emma

      Hegel: “die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug”
      (Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly)
      Sure as owls eggs.

  3. taunger

    “EPA leaves out the magic number …” is a total hit piece against common sense mitigation of global warming. It masquerades as a reasonable criticism of an Obama policy. A criticism many will accept and circulate because they do not like Obama policy (yours truly is no fan, either). BUT, the criticism contained therein would apply to ANY policy enacted at a nation level.

    The criticism is that the 30% reduction in existing power plan emissions will produce a negligible reduction in overall global warming emissions (I assume they are including international emissions, though the piece is ambiguous on this issue). However, ANY SINGLE policy at a national level would induce a negligible reduction. And forget about local, like community or municipal action to increase efficiency, build robust grid systems, or install distributed generation. Those actions are less than a rounding error.

    The inevitable choice facing the reader is either there is no possible policy solution, no community, business, or state action available to mitigate global warming, or global warming is a hoax. Neither is a particularly inspiring view for me.

    1. arby

      One would assume that the EPA could, if it chose, rebut the figure generated by the off-the-shelf climate calculator used by the author of the article. One has the nagging suspicion, however, that the unveiling of this proposal could partake of the hope and change branding machine so well oiled in areas like finance, justice and international trade. One would observe that to achieve real change on real problems like climate requires much more than tweaking one aspect of an existing system. Doing away with incentives and tax concessions to energy companies or breaking these vast integrated up into lesser parts might have a more impactful result on climate.

      1. McMike

        Indeed. Feeling generous, and taking the article at face value, I think we can interpret this not as a criticism of the climate change legislation per se, but as proof of how hard – politically – it is to do something about it, and how much sound and fury is involved in taking even the tiniest of baby steps.

        That is of course not what was intended by the author.

    2. Paper Mac

      WUWT is Heartland Institute (ie Koch et al)-funded denier agitprop and I have no idea why it periodically shows up in daily links.

      1. Vern Rutter

        Umm, because Lambert {bless his heart) is kind of a crank about anything Obama. Sometimes his crankiness is petty bullshit. This was such a time.

          1. susan the other

            I think we are dealing with a villain in the shadows here. Not the fracking industry, as bad as it is, but with nuclear energy. The worst outcome for nuclear would be a decentralization of electricity generation, say done by every house or large building, or by every small town from their own rooftops supplying all their own needs and donating the rest to a decentralized grid. Because the original purpose of nuclear was to produce plutonium and that has now taken on a true pointlessness at best now; a terrifying danger at worst.

            1. ambrit

              Right about the Plutonium. I just read a piece in Foreign Policy, (scroll down past the Corleones of the Caspian article,) that discussed Japans decision to bring their Uranium reprocessing facility online soon. The Japanese are still planning on using Plutonium Fast Reactors for electricity generation! (The part about the nearly non-existent security precautions around the labs and containment warehouses is scary.)

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            Thanks for a link from a better source making the same point. I don’t engage much in the climate wars, and so we rely on readers to supply sources, and to set us straight on them.

            Frankly, when I looked the Watt site it didn’t occur to me that something that amateurish looking could be funded. And I didn’t look deeply enough at the About page, which shows that although the site isn’t directly funded by the Kochs, Watt is on the denialist lecture circuit. My bad.

            All that said, IMNHSO treating the Kochs as uniquely baleful squillionaires is a sure sign of Democratic tribalism and strategic hate management.

            I mean, come on. Warren Buffet (WaPo investor) owns BNSF, which sends coal outbound to China (bad too, right?), and feeds Walmart inbound with containers, so he’s got us coming and going. It’s the class of squillionaires that’s the problem, not one family/clan/faction.

            1. SDB

              @Lambert “when I looked the Watt site it didn’t occur to me that something that amateurish looking could be funded. And I didn’t look deeply enough at the About page, which shows that although the site isn’t directly funded by the Kochs, Watt is on the denialist lecture circuit. My bad.”

              It’s a fine blog with plenty of thoughtful pieces and commentary. Is it perfect? No. But no blog is perfect.

              Yeah, it’s in the “denialist circuit”… but one should judge the material there on it’s merit not on a slanderous labeling “denialist circuit”. Or we can just stay in our own ideological bubbles. I encourage you to spend time reading there. W.R.T. Climate Change, you may just get converted to the dark side! :) muhahaha.

              1. SDB

                Tim Mason,

                RealClimate is a fine website to get the mainstream perspective. If one is looking to get skeptical perpectives, RealClimate is not the place to go. WattsUpWithThat is probably the best place to go for skeptical perspectives. Almost always a good idea to hear out competing perspectives otherwise we get narrowed into ideological tunnel vision.

              2. SDB

                Also, RealClimate isn’t very active. I just hopped over there and the 5 most recent posts were: June 1st, May 8th, May 2nd, April 30th, April 25th.

                Watts Up WIth That usually has 5 or so posts every day. Just looked, it’s 5 most recent posts were all yesterday. With that much activity, WUWT is probably a better first stop. Fresh material daily.

                1. skippy

                  ” Fresh material daily ”

                  LOLWUT = science made fresh daily, science is a main stream prospective, skeptical perspectives refute the scientific community’s consensus…. cough… “ideological” bias… too some.

                  Skippy… the grok fail wrt Social Darwinism has to be the most epic absurdity in humanity’s history, a self enforcing feedback loop to extinction.

                  1. SDB


                    It’s not all science over there. It’s related news as well. After all where are you going hear about what’s happened with Caleb Rossiter? Progressive news and blogs won’t be covering this.

                    But there is plenty of science over there thats largely ignored in the progressive news and blogosphere. WUWT brings “skeptical” perspectives to your attention, if you’re willing to consider it.

                2. Tim Mason

                  Most of the day-to-day action is to be found in the monthly “Unforced Variations” thread.

    3. Conal Tuohy

      Exactly … the article is complete nonsense and bereft of basic logic. Why should anyone pay tax, if their tax contribution was an infinitesimal part of the total tax take? Why shouldn’t you smoke that cigarette, if it’ll only take 2 and a half minutes off your life? Why should any person refrain from looting their local supermarket, if the impact on the global crime rate would be negligible? For that matter, what point is there in ever telling the truth, if you’re only going to get drowned out by a chorus of mendacious, self-serving propaganda?

      1. jrs

        We’re going to keep game theorizing our way all the way to human extinction I guess …

        1. hunkerdown

          An interpretation of the three laws of thermodynamics seem applicable here:

          1. You can’t win.
          2. The only way to win is to break even.
          3. The only way to break even is to quit the game.

    4. Vatch

      Here’s an interesting sentence from the article:

      “While the proposed EPA plan seeks only to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, in practice, the goal is to reduce the burning of coal.”

      I don’t know whether that’s true, but if it is, bravo! Coal doesn’t just cause global warming, it also causes many lung and other diseases. Radioactive thorium, neurotoxic mercury, and acidic sulfur compounds are emitted when coal is burned. Coal is nasty stuff, and far too much of it is in use.

      1. susan the other

        And coal also causes another danger that no one discusses: global dimming. It reduces the sunlight hitting the earth enough to cool the earth. This is dangerous because, combined with enough C02 warming which is absorbed by the oceans, this dimming will accelerate the rapid cooling of Europe and maybe the eastern USA because the Gulf Stream will no longer bring warm waters north. The best solutions are still the obvious ones: get rid of coal altogether and cut back as drastically as possible on C02 emissions. Especially methane. Stop mining methane altogether and figure out ways to capture the natural and escaping sources, like the stuff bubbling up from the un-frozen tundra or the un-frozen stock yards. Nobody considers puting time, energy into critical projects unless can produce a “profit.” It will be our complete downfall.

        1. Carolinian

          Of course Obie is gung ho for nukes too. Or at least he was before Fukushima. The administration signed off on two Southern Company reactors that are now being built in Georgia.

          There’s no question that coal is bad stuff. The other day I offered up this link about China’s smog problems. It sounds like an Onion piece but is apparently real.

          But as far as global warming goes, I’ve seen the latest bandaid approach boxed around in both the WashPost and NYT. It’s not just Koch propaganda to suggest that Obama isn’t that serious.

      2. Blayne


        I’m sure there are other sources NC could have found to criticize the … shall we say “half-assed-ness” of the EPA policy, but I shudder to think Naked Capitalism is giving WUTW traffic and revenue. Ick.

        That said, reducing the amount of coal we’re burning has more benefits than just reducing CO2 emissions.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The best thing to do in this case, if I may say so, is not merely to complain about sources, but to make a positive contribution by supplying better ones. NC is very attentive to URLs provided in comments.

          1. Paper Mac

            Lambert- quite right, mea culpa. In this spirit:

            I highly recommend referring to Anderson for these issues. He is an extremely well respected academic at the UK Tyndall institute and has the most realistic and sober data-driven assessments of climate policy I’ve seen. If you or others are interested in a longer lecture where he lays out exactly what must be achieved in order to meet the (now diluted to something like “~50% chance of”) “not exceed 2 degrees” climate change target, I strongly recommend this:


            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Paper Mac, thanks. I think this is the nut graf:

              Yet even if total emissions were to follow the example of the power sector, they would still fall far short of the country’s 2°C commitments enshrined in agreements from the Copenhagen Accord to the Camp David Declaration.

              But he doesn’t say, or I missed, how he comes to that conclusion.

              1. Paper Mac

                If you’re looking for the data Anderson is using to determine that the US must achieve >80% reductions in carbon emissions by 2030 to achieve its commitment to the 2 deg C target, it’s available in this (seminal, in my opinion) paper:


                A variety of scenarios are presented, most requiring Annex 1 nations to drastically cut emissions well before 2030 in order to meet the carbon budget implied by the 2 degree target. The Anderson youtube lecture I linked above is a substantially more accessible presentation of the same data.

  4. abynormal

    so Rowling has whipped out her wallet. Marvelous.

    “JK Rowling says she did not realize she was writing a fantasy novel”…
    “I would have thought that the wizards, witches, trolls, unicorns, hidden worlds… would have given her a clue?” ~Terry Pratchett

  5. John

    “U.S. expats find their money is no longer welcome at the bank”

    FACTA + FBAR are the ultimate power grab. It is not about tax collection but about Uncle Sam placing his boot on your neck. Stateside Americans do not have to worry about such intrusiveness. Not only do foreign banks have to start reporting your on your account, but so do employers, business associate income and spousal income. The most egregious ones are the business associate and spousal income reporting. Let’s you formed a business with a Spanish partner in Spain. You are making all sorts of money. Now the income of your partner is subject to reporting because it is part of the business. Also, you are married to a Spanish teacher. Again, both of you live outside the USA. She makes some income. Her salary too must be reported when you file jointly.

    Wait, there’s more. Lets say you are making over $200K per year, which is not too hard to do when overseas. Anyway, Obamascare all of a sudden rears its head and slips in a 3.8% special tax just for the pleasure of you living overseas. It is a stealth tax which you can count as: taxation without representation.

    Abandoning ones American citizenship crosses many ex-pat minds when dealing with Uncle Sam’s troubling tax reporting. Just because the number is low — 3000 — for those surrendering their citizenship last year does not mean others did not imagine following them.

    Unfortunately, Congress is not interested in looking at this unfair, over-reach, reporting requirement either. That is because the cliche is: if you are putting your money in an overseas bank you must be hiding something. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  6. DakotabornKansan

    Giddy Dems’ new strategy: Watch the GOP implode…

    “The world is a raft sailing through space with, potentially, plenty of provisions for everybody; the idea that we must all cooperate and see to it that everyone does his fair share of the work and gets his fair share of the provisions seems so blatantly obvious that one would say that no one could possibly fail to accept it unless he had some corrupt motive for clinging to the present system.” – George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

    Democrats used to be the canaries in the American mineshaft of modern democracy. Today they are no more than useful idiots. One can imagine George Orwell visiting that mineshaft today as he did 75 years ago at Wigan Pier. Substitute neo-liberal Democrats for socialist to understand their failure with those ordinary citizens, who under normal circumstances should benefit from the Democratic Party.

    According to Orwell, the typical socialist “is someone who in five years time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage … or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaler, and often with vegetarian leanings … with a social position he has no intention of forfeiting.”

    Describing a gathering of leftists, Orwell said, “every person there bore the worst stigmata of sniffish middle-class superiority. If a real working man, a miner dirty from the pit, for instance, had suddenly walked into their midst, they would have been embarrassed, angry and disgusted; some, I should think, would have fled holding their noses … The ordinary decent person, who is in sympathy with the essential aims of Socialism, is given the impression that there is no room for his kind in any Socialist party that means business.”

    The Democratic Party’s appeal to ordinary Americans seems very much like Orwell’s descriptions. One used to think that they could not possibly fail, unless they had some corrupt motive for clinging to the present system.

    1. Banger

      Wonderful–I cut my intellectual teeth on Orwell–the first real essayists along with Thoreau and Emerson that I read. But with Orwell I read with much greater delight. One of my favorite books is Down and Out in Paris and London–I had to plug it–gives a great view of differing attitudes towards poverty.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sounds like he was talking about GDP sharing…some corrupt motive not to support it, instead of clinging to the present system….

    3. Tim Mason

      Orwell was a rather insecure chap. It shows up in this kind of thing. He’s really talking about himself. The innocent by-standers that he clobbers so meanly were highly likely to have as good a day-to-day knowledge of people of the working classes as he was himself. And I doubt whether they obsessively drew up lists of ‘crypto-communists’ however – although Orwell probably had their names down in his little black book.

  7. Dino Reno

    The Revolution Will Not Be Monetized.

    This article is total bullshit.  The NSA can hack into any devise anytime it wants and is three steps ahead of the private sector’s data encryption efforts.  Snowden scoffed at the idea of the any privacy in the current regulatory environment. The privacy badasses depicted in this article are con artists, nothing more.  They are promising miracles and selling a magic potion that doesn’t exist. Gotta go now, time to raise another round of funding.

    1. abynormal

      difficult to hang ones hat on just one revolution…as Pratchett said, “Revolutions always come around again. That’s why they’re called Revolutions.”

  8. Banger

    I have to say something about hedge fund billionaires–I met one once and had a talk with him and his wife. They are not that intelligent but it was like being in a tank with a shark–his wife, however was very sweet–which sort of shocked me.

    About Iraq–what a mess! It’s all because of the Brits ultimately. I don’t quite understand what is going on there except that it is all about plots within plots within plots. The whole Iraq situation was dominated by a Star Wars cafe congregation of operatives, fixers, mercenaries, intel agents, double agents, triple agents, from a variety of countries that conspired, accidentally on purpose to create complete chaos. There was no war plan just a bunch of operatives within government and the contractor community focused mainly on one thing: money and, secondarily, having a rollicking good time playing bang-bang-shoot-em-up.

    Today we have Sunni extremists who have their origin with British intelligence in the interwar period and supported throughout the Cold War (mainly to fight Nasserism) by the CIA. These forces with roots in Syria and Libya and the Gulf-states (who themselves are at cross-purposes) are also supported covertly by certain sectors of the USG (who knows whether it is directed from the WH or not) are now the power to be reckoned with. This was probably the case for some time but the mainstream media under direction of the gov’t refused to report this–certainly they do not and will not report who these people are, where they are from and who is controlling them. Are they ideologues as they are portrayed? Are they, as is the pattern with Al-qaida, a mixture of fanatics, criminals, hustlers, and intel agents. How did they become a potent fighting force? Where they trained in Libya? Was that the point of destroying that country which is, btw, destroyed and the American propaganda organs have been pretty quiet on that?

    1. McMike

      I didn’t read the article, but I want to test the idea that billionaires need to be smart even about money. What they need to be is to have a bottomless pit of neurotic need, and a bottomless well of craven ruthlessness.

      1. Banger

        It’s more ruthlessness. Being around rich people as well as those who play the power game (which is why I love the show House of Cards which accurately portrays the psychological makeup of many players in Washington) has shown me that it is not greed so much that motivates these people but the urge to “win.” In other words much of our misery is caused by people who see themselves as competitors in a sport.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


          Sports were invented to imitate life.

          Now, these psychopaths see life as a sport.

        2. hunkerdown

          Which includes those proud jersey-wearing 1000% Merkin grunts at the retail level, too. The popular hostility toward any solution that was not placed on the field by their own betters is the tell.

  9. McMike

    Hmm. Just got invite from Third Federal bank for a 2.9% 10 year mortgage and only $295 closing costs.

    Smells hinky. Not sure what to make of it though. What’s their angle?

    They’re offering a “reply now” an get a $100 Home Depot gift card. Did they run out of toasters or something?

    1. Klassy

      We got that one too. It probably isn’t hinky. When we refinanced to a 10 year. The closing costs were minimal (they were actually less than advertised!). This is because it is actually a home equity loan. We had to act fast because our balance was heading into too low to refinance territory, so sorry to see we missed out on a little lower rate.
      Third Federal is a bank that held on to their mortgages. Our lender does not sell their mortgages either.

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Iraq Splinters Into Pieces, Al Qaeda in Control of Several Cities, Kurds Take Oil City Kirkuk; Thank George Bush and the Neocons; Iraq Before and After Global Economic Analysis

    “Such is the idiocy of nation building.”

    Pretty hard to call it nation BUILDING anymore, if it EVER could have been called that.

    RIP, Saddam. He who laughs last, laughs best.

    1. McMike

      Well, if by “nation building”, they mean implement the shock doctrine, and then have an orgy of pilfering and profiteering, I’d say it was a rousing success.

      People have this tendency – even those savvy enough to come to NC – to keep defaulting their framing into granting at face value the intentions to the people in Washington. You implicitly assume they actually care (in terms of first or even second level goals) if Iraq is a democracy, kleptocracy, or North Korean ghost town. They do not care; so long as the bombs fly, the spooks spook, and the money flows into numbered offshore accounts.

      They will go back in, openly and directly, or not, and perhaps even boldly call it without shame: nation RE-building.

      Using what Michael Parenti called a “radical analysis,” we step around the stated intent and evaluate the affair by imputing other motives. I do so by looking for ways to define these things as a success, then work backwards. Kind of a cui bono analysis. aka “follow the money.”

      Inevitably under this approach, we can see Iraq and its ilk as huge successes for those who benefit. i.e. Name one person/player in the Bush power cabal that did not get hugely rich over this, or who faced any sort of accountability (legal, political, financial) or even career setbacks for any of it. None, it was the Best Orgy Ever. Just like the Wall Street meltdown that accompanies it.

      The fact that the blowback in terms of carnage is a little bigger than perhaps planned is only an inconvenience, and also precisely analogous to the Wall Street created meltdown, and, perversely, an opportunity for yet another round of shock doctrine looting. It is, perhaps, a natural consequence of the shock doctrine run amok: escalating entropy.

      IBG/YBG baby!

      1. fresno dan

        I’d say your exactly right. Birds gotta fly, bees gotta buzz, and the DoD/State gotta screw around in other countries.

      2. Working Class Nero

        Another framework trough which to study things is what I would call imperial analysis, which isn’t all that different from radical analysis. The world is currently defined by a struggle between the US/EU/Zionist/Sunni Empire attempting to reach global dominance against the Russo/Shia bloc who are holding out for some sort of multilateral world. China is sitting on the fence trying to play the two sides off each other. And all evidence points to the fact that the ISIS is part of the US imperial realm.

        Seen in that light, the nascent Jihadi Spring favors the US in the sense that Iran is now forced into a position of defending both Syria and Iraq from Sunni Jihadis. While we may have the surreal scenes of Iranian troops defending the US embassy in Baghdad; a more likely scenario is the Jihadis will lay siege to Baghdad forcing the Iranians to expend more resources than they are able to expend. And with a stalemate in Iraq, the US Empire can raise pressure on Syria. At some point Iran may crack and/or cave in at the negotiation table. Their current regime is facing a tough summer.

        The US Empire also has Russia tied down in a struggle in Ukraine that the Russians currently have no problem maintaining. It will be interesting to see if as the strain becomes unbearable for the Iranians, if they try to call in the Russians for more overt support in Iraq.

        If things deteriorate in Baghdad, the US embassy will be pulled, WTC 7 style, only cubed. There will be some delicacy in terms of getting US personnel out before the whole compound is blown to bits. But the US is falling back on strength; a Sunni Iraq is in their imperial interests.

        So Jihadi Spring is really just a reigniting of the Iran / Iraq war of the early 80’s with the added feature of forcing the Iranians to help fight a Western front in defending Syria.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          So what appears to be criminal stupidity is really criminal Machiavellian cunning. It seems like a world of failed states and perpetual conflict — mass-murder for profit — is the key to full-spectrum dominance.

          1. Working Class Nero

            Full-spectrum dominance is the key. The US will “own” neither Right Sector nor the ISIS. But whether the individual militants know it or not, and as much as their ideology says otherwise, they are both furthering US imperial aims. Luckily the US has a “white-hat” President who could never be linked to these unscrupulous groups by reasonable observers.

          2. Banger

            Whether he’s right or wrong it is always all Machiavelli all the time when it comes to imperial politics. My take is that the Imperial Court is divided among factions and the real story is in DC and its dynamics.

        2. VietnamVet

          In the next weeks we shall see if Iraq was another Regime Change by the Empire to get rid of Nouri al-Maliki or did the Sunnis go off the ranch when opportunity arose to regain control. Watch what happens to the 10,000 American Contractors and Embassy Personnel in country. If ISIS stops short and lays siege to Baghdad and they make it out alive without a helicopter evacuation like Saigon in April 1975 it was all planned ahead of time. But, if the American infidels are beheaded; well, that is unplanned.

      3. Working Class Nero

        Another framework trough which to study things is what I would call imperial analysis, which isn’t all that different from radical analysis. The world is currently defined by a struggle between the US/EU/Sionist/Sunni Empire attempting to reach global dominance against the Russo/Shia bloc who are holding out for some sort of multilateral world. China is sitting on the fence trying to play the two off each other. And all evidence points to the fact that the ISIS is part of the US imperial realm. Seen in that light, the nascent Jihadi Spring favors the US in the sense that Iran is now forced into a position of defending both Syria and Iraq from Sunni Jihadis. While we may have the surreal scenes of Iranian troops defending the US embassy in Baghdad; a more likely scenario is the Jihadis will lay siege to Baghdad forcing the Iranians to expend more resources than they are able to expend. And with a stalemate in Iraq, the US Empire can raise pressure on Syria. At some point Iran may crack and/or cave in at the negotiation table. Their current regime is facing a tough summer.

        The US Empire also has Russia tied down in a struggle in Ukraine that the Russians currently have no problem maintaining. It will be interesting to see if as the strain becomes unbearable for the Iranians, if they try to call in the Russians to more openly support them in Iraq.

        If things deteriorate in Baghdad, the US embassy will be pulled, WTC 7 style, only cubed. There will be some delicacy in terms of getting US personnel out before the whole compound is blown to bits. But the US is falling back on strength; a Sunni Iraq is in their imperial interests.

        So Jihadi Spring is really just a reigniting of the Iran / Iraq war of the early 80’s with the added feature of forcing the Iranians to help fight a Western front in defending Syria.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m toying with the idea that all the chaos and pain (especially around the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Red Sea and the Gulf) is a form of churn that creates opportunity for profit. We (the US) don’t really care who “wins,” and in fact would rather have the churn continue. The post- and-transnational 0.01% running the world these days also prefers weak states, as any parasite prefers a weakened host, and the churn also has the effect of weakening states (even the United States, as imperial services are privatized). I think the basic, over-riding goal of these guys is a world where their families get to hang onto whatever they can grab, and servants are cheap. I also toy with the idea that cheap servants is their basic metric, in fact; the essential fact of their daily lives.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          “…servants are cheap”…and disposable. The disregard for loss of life and suffering is breathtaking and despicable.

          Indeed, such abject serial stupidity no longer seems a plausible plea for our successive catastrophic aggressive wars IMO, nor I think is bottomless ignorance for our vast “intelligence” web that can’t even predict a sunrise with any reliability (USSR, 911, Boston, WMDs, Iranian hostage crisis, Iraq2x, etc.), nor is Obama’s unfailing deceit. I suspect it’s mostly a matrix of virtual reality conjured by the deep state. But the “black-cat glitches” are more frequent and visible now. Maybe you are “The One”, Lambert.

        2. Mark P.

          Lambert wrote: ‘is a form of churn that creates opportunity for profit. We (the US) don’t really care who “wins,” and in fact would rather have the churn continue.’

          You’re only starting to play with this idea?

          From the Encyclopaedia Britannica —
          “…from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to World War I (within) the European balance of power, Great Britain played the role of the “balancer,” or “holder of the balance.” It was not permanently identified with the policies of any European nation, and it would throw its weight at one time on one side, at another time on another side, guided largely by one consideration—the maintenance of the balance itself. Naval supremacy and its virtual immunity from foreign invasion enabled Great Britain to perform this function …. ”

          I’m not trying to snark. But throughout human history there have been ultimately only two hegemonic grand strategies: either balance-of-power geopolitics like the British did it or wholesale imperial-occupation like the Romans. That’s it.

          I come to NC to get educated about the workings of financialized capitalism — and I get educated, thanks — but I am continually struck by the extraordinary naivete of most commentators here when it comes to international relations. (As in the good guys-bad guys-centric discussions about Ukraine above. Because yes, of course, it’s all Machiavellian, all the time.)

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Well, er, yes. However, are you really sure that Britain as the balancer is the same as fomenting chaos for the sake of profit? I’m not. That seems more colonial…

            Adding… I’m more used to thinking of the US as developing a network of client states, rather than as just wrecking everything to “make a killing” on the remains.

      5. Doug Terpstra

        Mike Whitney sees similar Great Game machinations:

        “…many people feel that Obama and Co. are just pretending to be surprised at the sudden turn of events; that they actually knew something like this was brewing all along but decided to look the other way figuring that the ISIS’s aggression would help to implement their larger regional strategy to disempower Arab-controlled nation-states by erasing existing borders and creating a “soft partition” that would strengthen US-Israeli hegemony making it easier to repress the indigenous population and pilfer their resources.”

  11. Jim Haygood

    If ISIS (+1 for the Egyptian illuminati reference!) has any PR smarts, they will topple a statue of George W. Bush for the Al Jazeera cameras, thus neatly bookending the April 2003 destruction of Saddam Hussein’s statue by a U.S. M88 armored recovery vehicle.

    As someone lamented in another forum yesterday, ‘How can you screw up SOOOOOOO badly that a country you destroyed requests you to re-bomb it?’

    Hint: a degree from Harvard Business School sure helps!

    1. McMike

      Iraq is the gift that keeps on giving.

      More chaos. More profiteering. More distraction. More carnage.

      and Obama can blame it all on Bush.

      1. DakotabornKansan

        “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” – Senior advisor to George W. Bush

        Quiet men with white collars, men without chests…

        “I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of “Admin.” The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.” – Uncle Screwtape in the “Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis

        As Ted Koppel wrote in the Washington Post:

        “The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, succeeded far beyond anything Osama bin Laden could possibly have envisioned. This is not just because they resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths, nor only because they struck at the heart of American financial and military power. Those outcomes were only the bait; it would remain for the United States to spring the trap.”

        “The goal of any organized terrorist attack is to goad a vastly more powerful enemy into an excessive response. And over the past nine years, the United States has blundered into the 9/11 snare with one overreaction after another…Could any enemy of the United States have achieved more with less? Could bin Laden, in his wildest imaginings, have hoped to provoke greater chaos?”

        Orwell warned that fear and hatred of a potential enemy would destroy the basic premises of democracy. A nation constantly in fear of being attacked and continually at war cannot be free and democratic.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Great quotes. It’s really as if bin Laden and the US military kleptocracy were in collusion.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            An “emergent conspiracy.” Though I have to say that flying the Bin Ladens home when all other flights were grounded did seem a little odd at the time.

    2. Andrew Watts

      It’s more messed up than that if you can believe it. The only forces defending the Green Zone are Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The airstrikes launched by the Iraqi government (or what’s left of it) might have had American military advisers at the helm. The Kurds are two steps away from declaring independence which will provoke a Turkish intervention. The most disturbing thing that has transpired is secular Baathists making common cause with Islamic Jihadis in the Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq.

      The Sunni shall rise again. Err, have risen again.

      1. sufferin' succotash

        Future map of “Iraq”: Iran takes the south, Kurds take the north, Sunnis and whoevers control the middle and a chunk of Eastern Syria. The result bears a suspicious resemblance to the pre-WW1 Ottoman vilayets of Basra, Baghdad and Mosul.

      2. fresno dan

        “Iran has sent two battalions of Iranian Revolutionary Guards to help Iraq fight ISIS. These aren’t just any old Iranian troops. They’re Quds Force, the Guards’ elite special operations group. The Quds Force is one of the most effective military forces in the Middle East, a far cry from the undisciplined and disorganized Iraqi forces that fled from a much smaller ISIS force in Mosul. One former CIA officer called Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani “the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today.” Suleimani, the Journal reports, is currently helping the Iraqi government “manage the crisis” in Baghdad.”

        My enemy, who is the enemy of my other enemy, is my ally, sometimes…. but the ally of my other enemy, and my enemy’s cousin’s former roommate….I provisionally support, except on Tuesdays. As a general rule, in months that begin with vowels, all allies become enemies, and all enemies become allies, but only is areas that are bounded by the previous no fly zone in Iraq…

        1. Banger

          Curiouser and curiouser. Now, which side are the Americans on? Answer: both sides–the U.S. favors chaos for whatever reason.

          1. MtnLife

            I think, as McMike put in a comment above, that if you work backwards from both options being a “success” we can figure out why. So in a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose strategy, if the Iraqis repel the attack the oil fields we “secured” for big oil will be safe, the whole act of nation building will be firmly entrenched as a success, and it used as a platform for further acts of nation building (MIC FTW, Big Oil happy). If Isis blows through and takes over the country we have a new enemy to fight with the new fervor whipped up by “Americans (in our massive embassy) being attacked” (great for the MIC home and abroad sales and related on the ground contractors) and energy prices will jump as they always do during times of “unrest” (which would help frackers at home where, in certain wells/fields, energy prices have dropped near or below drilling costs). So I’m going to guess the MIC is leading the charge with Big Energy riding shotgun.

  12. flinders

    Anent McClatchy, all options are on the table, my ass. McClatchy’s pretty good article parochially leaves out what’s happening with the ultimate authority. The UNSC’s current president, Russia’s Churkin, said no one has suggested measures against ISIS. Churkin and Gerard Araud are going to keep the focus on the failed state the USG created in Iraq with its aggression. UNAMI is talking sense against the US terror hysteria, saying Baghdad is not at risk. Zionazi newb Feltman is not talking.

    That ultra super-duper state of emergency Maliki called for? Parliament blew it off. The loss of a city or two to jihadi cannibals is noise in a disintegrating state. That’s what scares the UNSC grownups.

    1. James Levy

      To cut off all aid to ISIS is to destroy the Syrian “resistance.” Obama wanted to destroy Syria and he lost Iraq in the process. The Saudis are the big winners in all this, as all they care about is sticking it to the Shiites. Shiite Iraq will be, or already is, a satellite of Iran. If the Turks roll into Kurdistan it will be Armenia all over again, because they don’t want to rule over the Kurds, they want to destroy or displace them (probably right into eastern Syria).

      The dominoes, for once, are falling.

        1. James Levy

          From Riyadh, the dominoes are falling towards them. They now have a toehold in Mali, Libya, Egypt, Syria (although that one is going away, to be replaced by a more valuable one astride the Mosul oil fields) and Pakistan. Expect them to fund whoever takes over in Afghanistan once the US leaves. Saudi Arabia is using the last decade or two of their oil to secure their strategic environment before they have to start living off their accumulated capital. And they are doing a pretty impressive job of it. And we are largely aiding and abetting this process for short-term economic reasons and to placate the Israelis, who are happy being surrounded by pliant Sunni puppets of the Saudis. The big losers are the Palestinians (whom the Saudis have long since abandoned to their fate), Iran, and the Shiite minorities in Sunni countries. America can live with this, at least temporarily.

          Or at least that’s the way I see it. Nero, I have a feeling, may agree.

          1. Banger

            What you say makes some sense but I see it from the vantage point of Washington power politics which from where I live now in North Carolina appears to be increasingly chaotic and more divided than when I lived inside the Beltway. Let me put it simply–there are those who want the current Iraqi regime to be saved and those who want, as you say, a hegemonic Saudi/Israeli virtual state in the region. And, I always forget the third force that emerged during our occupation of Iraq, i.e., the opportunists who see opportunity in chaos. It’s a muddle. Washington now, after trying to influence the ancient cultures of the Middle East and Central Asia has become a virtual state in that area full of plots within plots within plots with a corrupt and predatory ruling elite.

            1. Jackrabbit

              Really Banger, this is nonsense. You might as well say “there are those . . . “ whose name in english begins with a vowel, others whose name begins with a consonant, and some who can’t remember their name.

              We know who wants to see what outcome. And we know who is running Washington. What other info do you need?

              Before you claimed that ‘realists’ could save the day. Now everything is so unclear to you. “There are those . . .”. Hehe, you just can’t bring yourself to name the neocons.


              I wouldn’t care much, Banger, except making things ‘murky’ is exactly what our political leaders do when they don’t want us to know the truth. And I feel that you should be held to a higher standard because you have many times declared that you have special knowledge of D.C. due to having lived/worked there and followed politics closely.

  13. Jim Haygood


    All Our Patent Are Belong To You
    By Elon Musk, CEO

    Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

    Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.


    The Tesla model, versus the Apple model. Don’t be evil.

    1. subgenius

      Sustainable transport? A maserati styled cockextension with a battery pack costing more than the sticker price of the car (because subsidies) that a) is too fucking exclusive for 99.6% to afford and b) is so full of exotic materials only that .4% will be able to have one before we hit extraction limits? And an idiotic comic book concept for a superspeed bullet train? I call bullshit… At least the real Tony Stark was a fiction…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A reliable, biodegradable and sustainable transport – the camel.

        And camels provide camel milk.

        Apparently, camel milk is good too.

        I can’t wait for camel yogurt and camel cheese.

        1. Yonatan

          Obligatory saying, allegedly Saudi:

          My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet-plane. His son will ride a camel.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            My only concern is that camel-riding might lead to more dependency on the Saudis.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Camels (and horses) are also perfect for buying local (vacation packages, for example).

          And they go well with slow food, slow living and slow economy movements.

  14. Eureka Springs

    “Mother Of Seven Dies in Jail While Serving Sentence For The Truancy Of Her Children ”

    Even sans the death… she’s was not only in jail for someone else’s truancy… she was serving time in jail for being poor. And the children, serving a sentence whether in school or not.

    Question, young woman why did you attend/graduate high school? To keep my mother from dying in jail. God bless America! The Jerry Springer show is the template, not the warning.

    Madness, every aspect. I could yet again decide I hate this country… but it’s much easier on the soul to simply consider it with every fiber of my being evil and illegitimate…. it must fall apart…. hope I live long enough to witness at least part of it.

    1. vidimi

      this is the result of allowing profiteering from incarcerating human beings. if prison corp’s get paid by the state per inmate per day, they will lobby for more severe laws that will imprison as many people as possible.
      such a sick, depraved system.

    2. fresno dan

      “Jail increasingly seems the answer to every social failure for politicians. It not only magnifies the problems in these families but gives these parents criminal records.

      In this one county, more than 1,600 people have been jailed and two-thirds of them are women since 2000 over truancy fines. Yet, the “give-them-a-dose-of-jail” crowd will likely be undeterred.”

      Of course, no investigation and if there is one, it will be a whitewash. No one fired, no one demoted, no one prosecuted. Is there less truancy than there used to be? I really doubt it.

      1. hunkerdown

        How dare the experiment not perform according to the hypothesis! Smack those flasks around until they behave! That’s how we do science in the US of A!

    3. Banger

      Tip of the iceberg. This is why I urge resistance to the current system at all levels. Evil comes pretty close to describing it though the people in that system are mainly not evil at all but will become that if they stay in it. For those of you in the system spend your time trying to get out or ….

  15. McMike

    re Bain/Goldman PE bid fixing: I think this is an under-reported story. (At least I was not aware of it, but I may have scandal fatigue).

    Oh look, every single major player – all the big household names – are engaged in yet another massive comprehensive and deliberate long term collusion conspiracy (yes: conspiracy) to screw everyone else.

    This is another one of those revelations that prove both:
    – Wall Street is thoroughly, fully, and irredeemably corrupt in any and all functions it performs.
    – The myth of PE success is built on a fundamental lie. They possess no special genius, they just rig a market so they can steal the assets, and then start the game standing on third base. This may be a boon for PE firm owners, and to a lesser extent their syndicates. But (as with much if not all on Wall Street) it comes at the direct cost to everyone else.

    Here’s a non-paywall link (thanks Jesse)

    And despite the long train of revealed massive scandals, the firms still line up for public subsidies, regulatory forbearance, government contracts, and a wide array of official perks.

  16. Vatch

    “A superbug resistant to “last-resort” antibiotics has made its way into the food supply”. The article says that the bacteria were found in raw squid. I wondered who, if anyone, would eat raw squid. Apparently it does happen, and the results can be genuinely creepy. Here’s an article about what happened after someone ate cooked squid (perhaps it wasn’t cooked thoroughly enough):

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The end result of more and more medical science (antibiotics in this case).

      And when we eventually come face to face with the end result of more and more science, this will be seen as but one special case.

      1. Massinissa

        I wonder if those kooks in the Dark Enlightenment crowd will still be around to say “I told you so”.

        Theyre still loonies (Bringing back Monarchies and Feudalism? Lolwut?) but maybe they have a general idea somewhere that makes sense.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Connection to Fukushima?

      Question: Which is deadlier – antibiotics resistant squid or justice-resistant vampire squid?

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Tear up public debt – most illegitimate.

    And private debt?

    For the little patriotic people currently holding government bills/notes/bonds, should they try to beat the rush now?

    1. susan the other

      It sorta sounded like the little people holding public debt would be the choice of sovereign governments and that socialized banks holding the money of all the little people would become the new financiers of governments so governments could actually spend money where it is needed – on the little people. But who knows? Michael Hudson summarizes the goals of the French Committee for Citizens’ Audit of Public Debt with 3 points: 1. All countries should audit public (usu odious) debt, 2. Identify and track all debt holders, and 3. Socialize banking. No more private financiers serving their own ends. I think this Guardian post dovetails nicely with the little spat going on at the SEC between Stein and White. Actually I think that spat is just cover for White so something like this doesn’t happen here.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With Money Creation by the Little People spending it into existence, the Little People can spend it where the government needs it, instead of the government spending it where the Little People need it.

  18. Jim Haygood

    The MSM is an exclusive club that we don’t belong to:

    Chelsea Clinton earned an annual salary of $600,000 at NBC News before switching to a month-to-month contract earlier this year, sources with knowledge of the agreement told POLITICO.


    One hopes that Chelsea’s new contract ups her compensation to a respectable level. $600K barely even covered the maintenance on her $10 million Manhattan condo.

    Meanwhile, Hillary is poor that she had to hock her Thomas Kinkade collection to make the lease payment on the Gulfstream.

    1. optimader

      “Meanwhile, Hillary is poor that she had to hock her Thomas Kinkade collection to make the lease payment on the Gulfstream”

      You can be sure Hillary is not picking up the tab.if time is being bought on one for her use.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Sorry, was just using a bit of literary license.

        The Clintons are like squirrels raiding a bird feeder. They are incapable of feeling shame. And no matter how firmly they are swatted away, they’ll be back in 15 minutes, swilling out of the trough again. That’s what they do.

        1. Carolinian

          There was an NYT story awhile back about the “21 Club” and it said there’s a display of celebrity wine choices–they lay in a special stock for the elite–and one was marked for Chelsea Clinton.

          Apple/tree….not very far.

          Perhaps some could verify. All I know about the inside of the 21 club is watching Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis in Sweet Smell of Success. I do recall they had a line of lawn jockeys out front….painted white of course.

      2. Romancing the Loan

        I heard art collections are one of the ways the wealthy inflate their assets – you borrow on the security of your massively overvalued art collection (which keeps right on hanging in your room in the meantime, of course!) at a sweet 2% interest rate and then invest that money in bonds that pay out more. Payola from those making the loans provides a nice income stream that’s barely taxed at all.

    2. optimader

      “NBC News”

      WOW people STILL watch that stuff? Must roll into some great fake Reality Show opium.
      Americans by-in-large are ignorant.

    3. OIFVet

      It’s the way of the Clintons. In 20-odd years Chelsea will run for president and will be able to claim that she came up hard, making only 600K, but in a true meritocratic fashion she pulled herself up by her own pump straps and made good.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    They won’t even let us escape…expats’ money not welcome.

    First, we need amnesty for escapees. Then their money will be good again.

  20. infamous redeye

    Awwwww. Of course Apple’s no longer cool. What kind of tool would bend over for their corporate/government privacy rape? They make well-designed boxes, but it got so you had to spend too much time under the hood ripping out their consumer-surveillance crap. You don’t realize how they’re groping you till you ditch them for linux.

    Wanna be revolutionary? Gimme my frickin privacy back, assholes.

  21. David Petraitis

    On the FATCA this was strenuously fought when it was prepared. What struck me as a long time expatriot was the facile dissing of the problems that US citizens face overseas as “You’re all just tax cheats…” Although FATCA does close the loopholes a little – for the real wealthy there are always other methods of tax avoidance or cheating. The amount of hassle this causes for people like English teachers, lower paid professionals is all out of proportion to the amount of money the IRS gets back.

    In addition it is a US job killer. No US company thinks about putting a US citizen into a professional position anymore overseas. They hire local even for highest level people. The IRS scrutiny and tax compensation problems are just to onerous. US citizens are no longer welcome as business people overseas. It is a shame.

    Many of my US friends who are independent contractors or mid to high level professionals are now getting rid of their US citizenship, paying the IRS off (a 5 year payment equal to your last tax year) and getting naturalized as local citizens. A loss of goodwill ambassadors.

    I now advise my children who are part Dutch and part Swiss NOT to seek a US passport or SSN or ITIN. Another loss to this country is the high level foreigners who avoid US stints due to the possibility that they IRS would then have an “interest” in their overseas family businesses, and particularly, their potential inheritance.

    All a picture making the US the worst country to desire to become an immigrant, rather than the most attractive one.

    1. hunkerdown

      The grassroots sanctions as blowback amuse me greatly, but the sudden closure of the international labor market to US expats strikes me as intentional. Gotta keep those Silicon Valley proles down.

      I don’t suppose you can recommend (or write, heh) a good Dummies guide for the proletarian US independent contractor trying to get out safe and free?

  22. Roland

    The Economist piece on Syria is embarrassingly bad for such a publication.

    The author of the piece cannot bring himself to face the fact: the regime retains more public support than its domestic and foreign opponents expected.

    Note that the author cannot bring himself to acknowledge that Bashar has exhibited considerable acumen in facing one crisis after another since 2005.

    The author cannot bring himself to admit that the bulk of the fighting done by government forces has been done by native Syrians. The author fails to realize that the small number of foreign auxiliaries would be of no use whatsoever if Bashar did not retain the loyalty of most of the army and its officer corps.

    The Economist badly needs a new editor for Middle Eastern affairs–ideally one who can at least look at what’s plain to see.

    1. gepay

      Have to agree. “The regime’s forces rely on foreign support (mainly from Iran and Russia) and brutal tactics, including the use of sarin gas…” Reminded me of the reports I would read in Time or Newsweek about the Vietnam War.
      The biggest reason Assad has been able to hang on besides having the support of most of his Army is that Russia has stopped Nato from using its Air Force unlike Libya. It is a fact of modern warfare – If you have an air force and modern ground weapons and your opponent doesn’t have an air force then you will win most conventional battles.
      The closest you will get to an honest Western reporter on the Middle East – Robert Fisk – will say most of the people in Syria prefer Assad’s governance to that of the rebels.

  23. Roland

    Nuclear energy with a closed fuel cycle is the most logical long-term choice for Japan. Really, all nuclear energy use in the world should be based on a closed fuel cycle with reprocessing and fast breeding. The obsolete Non-Proliferation Treaty forces most of the world to waste over 95% of the potential energy in a given mass of uranium, and thus contributes to a massive unnecessary amount of nuclear “waste” which should actually be fuel.

    Fossil fuel imports are ruinous for Japan’s balance of payments, esp. since the export markets for Japan’s manufactures is so much more competitive today. Expanding hydroelectric would flood too much scarce and highly fertile farmland.

    It is also logical for Japan to retain a nuclear weapons “breakout” potential. Fully independent deterrence is the only way that Japan might avoid getting caught in the growing geopolitical rivalry between USA and PRC.

    Of course, it’s not surprising that a publication like FP would be bellyaching about a country trying to look after its people’s best interest, rather than submitting itself utterly to the Western Bloc.

    1. JTFaraday

      So now we know how they pump out all that stuff! (It is a pee on demand world).

      Also, is the New Republic (God help us) branching out into media criticism? Elsewhere in these pages,

      Alain de Botton “believes that journalism should be more like art. ‘If Tolstoy, Flaubert, or Sophocles were in the newsroom, the medium might well give us rather more of what we need.’ Or: ‘We might interpret the news according to the distinctive biased perspectives of Walt Whitman or Jane Austen, Charles Dickens or the Buddha.’ You will agree that the comic possibilities are endless.”

  24. Abe, NYC

    Re The Corleones of the Caspian

    Around 2006, the amount of money flowing into Azerbaijan exploded along with the oil price. The consequences are not all negative. Baku has been transformed from a drab post-Soviet town into a shiny, modern, clean city. Infrastructure has seen a lot of investment (according to Azeris, the roads – of which a lot were built – are the most expensive to construct in the world. They may be exaggerating, but you get the idea). People’s standards of living has risen, they are getting more crumbs from their overlords’ table. The middle class, which was almost destroyed in 1990s, has reappeared.

    At the same time, while the political situation was getting somewhat better until 2006, it has then decidedly turned for the worse. Two students post a satirical video on youtube, without even mentioning any names, and end up with lengthy jail terms. Activists are imprisoned left and right, just like the article says. The opposition has been ground into oblivion, and any signs of dissent are crushed.

    That’s the price of $100 oil, and the regime will last as long as it does. If oil goes down to say $60 – unlikely but not unthinkable, it’s happened before – regimes in Azerbaijan, Russia, and many in Central Asia will collapse. In these countries, corruption is the way of governance, and the masses are kept at peace by rising wealth trickling down. When it dries up, so will the agreement of the governed.

    Overall, the article is so extensive and well written, there isn’t much more to add. Except that the tragedy of the hundreds of thousands of refugees is very real, and a fifth of the land is still controlled by Armenia. Obviously the elites don’t give a damn about that stuff.

  25. Erick Borling

    The Guardian editorialist doesn’t know the difference between public debt and private debt. What the article calls public debt should really be called private debt. While I agree with the main argument of the article, ignorance of economics is typical of the Guardian’s economics reporting.

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