Links 6/3/14

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Human personality just a reaction to weather Daily Mash. Sydneysiders are definitely more cheerful than New Yorkers.

How We’ll Talk To Aliens Popular Science (Deontos)

‘Female’ hurricanes cause more deaths, but only because people don’t take them seriously Verge

Tactical Maneuvers: Scientists are creating viruses that naturally home in on tumor cells while simultaneously boosting the body’s immune system to fight cancer The Scientist (Nikki)

As EPA Launches War On Emissions, U.S. Plays Catch Up With Europe On Renewables OilPrice. Shorter: Obama is a hypocrite, not that that is news.

Energy watchdog in investment warning Financial Times (Joe Costello)

Beyond Obama’s Plan: A New Economic Vision for Addressing Climate Change Huffington Post (David L). I’m a bit concerned at the aggressive promotion of devices that monitor homes, since that assures “all surveillance, all the time.” And look at the benign moniker: “The Internet of Things.”

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts opens his mouth and inserts his foot — who will invest in Internet infrastructure? CIS 471

Chinese blockade agents as house prices tank MacroBusiness

Thai authorities to build state-owned social network site Prachatai

Sex, drugs and GDP calculations Bangkok Post (furzy mouse)

Is Europe Overbanked? European Systemic Risk Board. A rigorous yet accessible document.

Obama Proposes $1 Billion European Defense Fund Wall Street Journal $1 billion? Isn’t that the equivalent of couch lint in the defense procurement game?

Corruption redefined as tourism in Czech Republic BBC. Linda: “These could be held in NYC, couldn’t they?

Ocean explorers with Cape connections held in Honduran prison Cape Cod Times and Dangerous detention for six Americans in Honduras after weapons charges CNN (alex)


Unveiling “Western” Hypocrisy Russia Connects Syria And Ukraine Moon of Alabama

Ukraine crisis: Border guards’ camp attacked in Luhansk BBC

Ukraine’s 2014 presidential election result is unlikely to be repeated Washington Post

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Study: Privacy is gone, but that’s OK because we get stuff for free Pando :-(

Google inundated by 12,000 take down requests in one day through right to be forgotten page The Drum (Richard Smith)

Apple seeks to make iPhone a health hub Financial Times. Looks more like aNSA item rather than a consumer product. I’m a health junkie and I wouldn’t touch this with a 15 foot pole. And monitoring your performance overmuch, like getting on the scale every day, is often counterproductive. Athletic progress is not linear and trying to make it so is the path to neuroticism and/or injury.

Spies Say They are Confused and Outraged by Restrictions on Talking to Journalists Foreign Policy

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seeks asylum in sunny Brazil Agence France-Presse

US companies warn on foreign tax threat Financial Times

Washington‘s Shale Boom Going Bust New Eastern Outlook. From last month but a very good overview.

New experience for GOP: No heir apparent McClatchy (furzy mouse)

Gun-rights group organizing delegates to open carry assault rifles at Texas GOP convention and NRA slams ‘downright scary’ Open Carry Texas gun lovers: They ‘crossed the line’ Raw Story (furzy mouse)

Adventures in Smartness, Assassin’s Edition New Yorker (furzy mouse). You need to read this.

The Betrayal of Cecily McMillan Reader Supported News (RR)

Hospital Charges Surge for Common Ailments, Data Shows New York Times

War Makes Us Poor … And Drags the Economy Down Through the Floor George Washington

U.S. Factories Expanded in May Wall Street Journal

Is the Market Crazy? Treasurys Are Screaming Crisis While Stocks Yawn Pam Martens. No, this is what the Fed wants, financial markets disconnected from fundamentals.

French Officials Twist U.S. Arms in Bank Investigation New York Times

FINRA Bombshell: Biggest Wall Street Banks Are Trading Their Own Stock in Dark Pools Pam Martens

Burt Reynolds faces foreclosure WCPO (Deontos)

ECONOMISTS’ ADVICE Stumbling and Mumbling (RA)

Private Equity

US apartments in debt deal rent for less Financial Times. Hahaha! PE guys can’t command what traditional single family landlords get, either because they bought crap house or they are getting a bad name as landlords and tenants will chose non-PE firms if they have any choice.

Fed’s Junk-Loan Caution Spurs Creative Accounting Alchemy Bloomberg (AE). From a few days ago, still germane.

Documents: Petraeus Fracking Field Trip Reveals ND Government, Oil, Private Equity Nexus DeSmogBlog

Class Warfare

Back to the Dark Ages of Feudalism CounterPunch

Phantom household formation and the inability of the young to purchase real estate: Will we see a resurgence of young homeowners buying homes? Dr. Housing Bubble (Dave Dayen)

Watch 40 Years Of State By State Unemployment Changes On This Awesome Map Movoto. The map is impressive even though what it shows is depressing.

Minimum wage: Seattle approves $15/hour, will other cities follow? Christian Science Monitor. An important step. See more at Seattle City Council approves historic $15 minimum wage Seattle Times (Paul Tioxon)

A neat solution to the high class jerk problem Cathy O’Neil

An Empire Without a Military Strategy for a Military Strategy Without an Empire Voltaire Network. (Lambert). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. scott

    This is already happening: a web-based thermostat in his house which you get in exchange for a lower electric rate. It allows the power company to turn up your thermostat if demand gets high in hot weather. Not a totally bad idea, since few have programmable thermostats or can use them correctly, but now you have a private corporation using a Federal mandate to decide how comfortable your dogs will be when you’re at work (or if they survive at all).
    Add this to the fact that 129,000 of the 190,000 multifamily units built in 2013 were electrically heated, and we will soon find that cold winter mornings will surpass summer heat waves for stress on the electrical grid.

    1. zephyrum

      Man I know signed up for the little box that suppresses your A/C compressor when PG&E (northern California’s electric utility) decides to reduce demand. It’s only supposed to shut down for up to a half hour, but due to a “glitch” it disabled their A/C for almost two days during a serious hot spell. His wife is disabled; they had to evacuate the home. Eventually PG&E apologized and promised it would never happen again. (You can take that to the bank.)

      SF Chronicle: PG&E’s SmartAC program malfunctions

    2. Clive

      Yep. Electric resistance (strip) heat is almost a crime against humanity. But it’s cheap to install. So, well, you know, because Markets…

      1. Kurt Sperry

        You realize that all electrical heating is essentially 100% thermodynamically efficient because the result of inneficiency is inevitably–well, heat. That’s not to say that all electrical heating is equally effective because of circulation and insulation issues but still…

        1. Clive

          Yes, quite right, at point of use it is 100% efficient. And emissions free. And it doesn’t need servicing. The problem is, unless the power is generated from renewable sources, you’re burning a primary fuel (thermal coal, or gas usually*) then incurring transmission losses on top of thermodynamic limitations in the generations process. By the time 1 watt radiates off the strip heater, you’ve lost at least another 2 along the way getting to that point.

          Air or ground source heat pumps (many of which have Coefficients of Performance of at least three, some now even have CoPs of 4 or 5) not only compensate for those losses but make up ground in their extra efficiency. A far better use of electricity. But they cost more to install of course. A lot more. That up front saving though is paid for many many times over in the running costs of resistance heating.

          * — I deliberately dodged the nuclear generation issue :-)

          1. craazyboy

            Heat pumps also will take care of the AC – with resistance heating you still need a conventional AC unit. This closes a lot of the cost gap of both equipment and installation, because the heat pump is just like a bigger AC unit as far as the installers are concerned (I mean the simple above ground heat pumps).

            Also, I do recall when living in Chicago once upon a time, they had a apartment complex there with resistance heating. People had $250 winter electric bills in an apartment that rented for $300/month. This was way below market rent because everyone knew electric heat was gonna cost them and the owners couldn’t get market rent for them.

            I’m not an apartment architect, but this sure looks like a case of cutting a little marginal cost and ending up with a very bad idea.

            Also, the easy way to compare resistance heating without analyzing the base resource-to- heating thermodynamics is just compare costs to gas heating. Gas is way cheaper – the market did all the thermo analysis for you!

        2. optimader

          Clive prefers burning natural gas or oil rather than taking his inefficiency at the electrical utility.
          It’s all about where you prefer to draw your Control Volume.. thermodynamically speaking

          1. Clive

            Ah… actually I’d prefer a CoP 5+ air source heat pump (mini split with an air handler in the conditioned space NOT ducted) and embedded solar (e.g. on your roof). And a well insulated built structure. All possible today — you could go out and buy this infrastructure right now and be more-or-less self sufficient and zero carbon emissions.

            (Clive, mounting soapbox) — it really gets on my ti*ts that there’s so much climate change hand wringing “oh, it’s so terrible but what can we do ?” when this is one change we can make, right here, right now and it would make a considerable difference (space heating and cooling accounting for >50% of a residential utility expense But still we build some structures with the insulation capabilities of a wet paper bag and then ask their poor (often literally as well as figuratively) owners or occupuiers to heat them with electic heat. Okay, the capital first cost is a lot higher to do things the right way. But if states and governments (and homebuyers too if they can afford it) can’t / won’t borrow to pay for this at today’s historically low rates then that does make one wonder.

            This sort of infrastructure is perhaps limited / better suited to single family housing so I’d never say it was a cure-all. But to not even try where it is suitable… well, for crying out loud…

            1. fresno dan

              because markets….
              and GDP – spending money makes the economy look good, doncha know. You and your 30 cents a month utility cost. Than you would have us riding bicycles….pretty soon the total US gdp is 1 million dollars (TOTAL!!!!!). People would be happier, healthy, and actually more prosperous… must be a communist.

              by the way, what letter does the * stand for?

              1. Clive

                Primary fuels cannot last forever (even ignoring CO2 emissions). They may last — at current prices, or double or even triple them — for what, 20 years ? 30 years ? 40 years ? We might even squeeze out 50 years. But sooner or later, they’ll be gone. And they’re not coming back once they’re gone. Then what ? Perhaps we can just kick that can down the road and make it tomorrow’s problem. And why not ? We’ll have got ours won’t we… I’ll have shrugged off this mortal coil, you too probably. So that’s okay then. Let our descendants pickup our pieces. I’m sure they won’t blame us at all for not taking care of our business while we had the chance.

                How dare they call us the “me” generation ! With our sort of selflessness, we’re kindness and consideration personified. We’ll tell those pesky rate commissioners where to stick their increases !
                Oh, and if you want to find me, I’ll be over there in the corner with Ayn Rand, necking.

              2. Clive

                Been trying to think of how to explain the “*” ! Still can’t really, it’s an English colloquialism “you / they / it / etc. is getting on my (add in part of anatomy here)…” which signifies annoyance. The greater the annoyance, the more outlandish the part of anatomy referenced. If you’re really annoyed, pick a ridiculously inappropriate part.

                Extra-credit example: “The way President Obama made out — and still makes out — like he was bringing hope and change to the great unwashed masses but then just hopped in the sack with the 0.1% really gets on my tits”. (perversely, saying this only really works if you’re a man; women could say this but it would lack the emphasis because of the obvious silliness of a man saying it).

                Hope that’s cleared that one up… but probably left everyone none the wiser !

            2. optimader

              Mini-splits, or compact systems I advocate for here when the opportunity come up. If for no other reason they have SCR drives which optimize motor kw. and you can heat/cool the space your using practically w/o jacking around other than with a remote control.

              Use of a heatpump is geographically sensitive, if you live in the S, ,SE, SW it’s a falling off the log good idea. Heatpumps in the Midwest N and NE? A waste of money.Burn gas or use electricity depending on local utility rates. Actually in recent history NG rates here( Chicago area) plunged to the point that it would have been economical to run a genset to produce my own electricity. Economical but not worth the hassle.
              I do agree w/ any and all reflections on chasing efficiency tho, either through insulation, architectural thermal mass, radiant heat (electric, hydronic). The thing is with good insulation, thermal mass and radiant heat, domestic energy use can be dramatically reduced.
              Solar collectors? MMM, again, maybe not so much where I live.

            3. jrs

              I’m going to continue to wring my hands about climate change thanks. I’m a renter.

  2. ex-PFC Chuck

    in re Today’s Must Read
    The late USAF Col. John Boyd (, whom many familiar with his thought regard as the equal of Sun Tsu and Clausewitz, put forth a set of criteria by which to evaluate a nation state’s grand strategy. He was continually tweaking his presentations so he’s something of a moving target, and the version of these criteria I find most insightful is shown below. There is one subsuming tenet, and five supporting ones:

    The Fundamental Goal of Grand Strategy:
    Ensure the nation’s fitness, as an organic whole, to shape and cope with the ever-changing environment of which it is a part.

    Supporting Sub-Objectives:
    · Strengthen national resolve and increase the nation’s internal political solidarity.
    · Weaken the resolve of the nation’s adversaries and reduce their internal cohesion.
    · Reinforce the commitments of our allies to our cause and make them empathetic to our success.
    · Attract the uncommitted to our cause.
    · End conflicts on terms that do not sow the seeds for future conflicts

    One can understand why the tin-foil hat types might conclude that since the end of the Cold War our foreign and domestic policies have been under the control of Manchurian Candidates.

    1. diptherio

      This line from the end of the article warmed my cockles a bit:

      Against all odds, less than a quarter of the 1064 graduates of the Military Academy at West Point applauded the president, while the majority remained unmoved.

      Perhaps there is hope yet…

      1. Banger

        Maybe–but the grads could be a little bummed that the Prez implied a lesser role for the military.

        1. optimader

          most of them are underlying into military conflict as a foreign policy strategy, and are weighted toward conservative southern sensibilities. BHO is not their man.

      2. Jackrabbit

        What did protests at Rutgers that successfully prevented Condoleezza Rice from giving the commencement address do for your cockles?

      3. ohmyheck

        I had a very strange encounter with a young veteran the other day. I mentioned the section in the NDAA wherein the President could legally order the military to fire upon US citizens within US borders.

        He told me that it is a well-know and universally agreed-upon fact, that individual US Military men and women will disobey and refuse that order, should it ever be given.

        Unfortunately, the civilian police force is another story.

        1. Andrew Watts

          The apparent power of our political leadership depends on the decisions of those men and women. The police are not in such a defining role of national prominence.

        2. optimader

          He told me that it is a well-know and universally agreed-upon fact, that individual US Military men and women will disobey and refuse that order, should it ever be given.

          They must have universally agreed on that sometime after May 4 1970

          1. ohmyheck

            Just a kid. We talked for an hour and a half. Obviously suffering from PTSD. I agree with Jagger, downthread. He speaks for himself and it is probably wishful thinking on his part.

            I could go on and on about the things he said. It was eye-opening, as I have never had the opportunity to question the mind of anyone in the military before.

            He is far down that Rabbit Hole, and I feel great concern for his well-being.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            That was the National Guard, which it not the same as the armed services.

            1. optimader

              The National Guard is the reserve force of the US Armed Services (Army and AirForce)

              The National Guard Mobilization Act, 1933 Made the National Guard a component of the Army.

              The National Guard Status Act of 1933 created a new reserve component of the Army called the National Guard of the United States. Henceforward, every Guard member would have two statuses, though he or she could only serve in one status at any given time. A Guard member could either serve under state authority as part of the National Guard of the several States, Territories and the District of Columbia, or under federal authority in the National Guard of the United States when ordered into active federal service by the President whenever Congress declared a national emergency.

              13.The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 Pub.L. 109-364 Federal law was changed in section 1076 so that the Governor of a state is no longer the sole commander in chief of their state’s National Guard during emergencies within the state. The President of the United States will now be able to take total control of a state’s National Guard units without the governor’s consent.

              During the Vietnam War serving in the National Guard was considered a military service dodge from deployment into the War, but infact National guard did serve there. Considering Guard deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan there is little distinction that I see between tehm and regular Army other than that they probably have inferior equipment .


        3. Jagger

          ——He told me that it is a well-know and universally agreed-upon fact, that individual US Military men and women will disobey and refuse that order, should it ever be given.——-

          Regardless of his belief, I suspect he speaks for himself. It is very easy for the young to assume everyone thinks just like themselves. The military knows how to recruit particular types of people and then train them to follow orders. And when the crunch comes, most will follow orders.

          Anybody remember MacArthur and the army burning the veterans camp in Washington DC? Different times for sure but certainly counter intuitive.

          1. Peterpaul

            Not just MacArthur, but Patton as well. They lined the tanks up on one side (the anvil) and the cavalry on the other (hammer) side of the Mall in Washington and smashed through a “Bonus Army” of women and children. IIRC, about 5-8 or so were killed in the ensuing chaos. Those that say the army would never fire on civilians don’t know their history OR human nature. Just in America we have Shay’s Rebellion, Bleeding Kansas, the Civil War, the Ludlow massacre in Colorado, Kent State, etc. All had the army attacking American civilians. If the local garrison won’t do it bring in another from the countryside, amp ’em up and turn ’em loose.

            1. ex-PFC Chuck

              At the time Eisenhower, who was one of MacArthur’s most trusted staff members even though only a major (IIRC), tried to talk his boss out of confronting the vets with bullets and bayonets, not to mention being visibly in command. To no avail, unfortunately.

              1. alex morfesis

                according to hoover, they were a bunch of communists


                and he did not really mean to do all that…it was just to push them out of the
                buildings they had “taken over”

                but McCarthur ignores orders to just push them out
                and “do not cross the bridge”

                lost in the noise of the issues of the bonus army was the support they had from certain quarters…

                it was US Grant the 3rd, grandson of the president, who in his official federal capacity at that time, gave the bonus army permission to use the
                Anacostia area

                but then again, the truth is hardly ever what it appears to be…some insist that Patton led the charge, others say he was reprimanded for refusing to lead the charge, others say he led the charge to push them out of half empty buildings, but refused to charge into Anacostia when he realized MacCarthur was ignoring his actual orders.

                Then again, to the victors go the history books…

                had not Patton been accidented, we would never have had any notion of NIxon, as they were from the same political district and Pattons family was not just military…they were politicians…

    2. Andrew Watts

      The toxic combination of imperial arrogance combined with an inexhaustible supply of stupidity adequately explains American decline. In the typical mindset of a conspiracy theorist every occurrence is the desired result of the manipulations and schemes of the power elite. This isn’t a viewpoint I’m inclined to agree with. Although I’m not denying that conspiracies exist amidst the rich and powerful.

      The existence of the American empire came about through a variety of circumstances. Some of which were planned and others which were beyond the control of mortals. The United States itself would probably not have became an independent country if the British Empire had not won a crushing victory in the Seven Years War. With the menacing French presence in Canada gone and British protection wholly unnecessary the window was opened for colonial independence. If the Thirteen Colonies had attempted to breakaway from the Empire in a continent filled with powerful European countries, a rather dubious claim considering the later rebellious colony of Massachusetts voluntarily taxed themselves at 2/3rds of their incomes and freely offered volunteers when under threat and were politely requested assistance by Pitt, they would have found themselves confined to the Atlantic seaboard and a hopeless pawn of European political intrigue. As it was the US was manipulated by Napoleon into conflict with the British on the eve of the War of 1812.

      The collective delusion of our political leadership is not inspiring much confidence that the American empire will end as peacefully as the British Empire. British intellectuals who are without contemporary peers like Arnold Toynbee studied history and the inevitable response those society’s mounted to their decline. His insights assisted in guiding the British response to their country’s decline. While present day intellectuals have repeatedly and frequently denied the reality of America’s imperial decline.

      “In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise — who suggest that America is in decline, or has seen its global leadership slip away — are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.” -President Obama

      How it will all end is anybody’s guess. Although the failure of the democratic process to revitalize constitutional government, the election of a demagogue who decides to end it outright, military defeat, and/or other common signs of social disorder and institutional collapse will only accelerate what has slowly become an inevitable outcome.

      1. Clive

        “The collective delusion of our political leadership is not inspiring much confidence that the American empire will end as peacefully as the British Empire.”

        Not wishing to be too Pollyanna-ish, I think that US citizens are getting to the same point that many Brits got to at the end of our Empire: We’d had enough and just wanted shot of it. The baggage it came with had long since started to outweigh the benefits. Kudos is an empty reward. The political classes of the time (not least Churchill) didn’t / couldn’t read the writing on the wall (see also today’s NC feature about the EU leadership — same thought processes at work there too methinks). But the proletariat could and many didn’t mourn the loss.

        Incidentally, for me, the American Empire isn’t actually in decline right now. I’d say more a case of “not yet in decline but in the torpor which precedes it” (E. M. Forster, “Maurice”)

        1. Andrew Watts

          The final stages of decline feature the alienation of the internal proletariat to the values, goals, and institutions of the power elite. When this occurs the stage is set for the fatal collapse of imperial power as it was in the last days of the British empire. This prescient example was articulated by Toynbee in his book the Study of History.

          1. Synopticist

            Empires frequently collapse very soon after reaching their fullest extent. Britain and France added former German and Turkish possessions after WW1. Russia seemed to have made Afghanistan a colony in the early eighties. There are other examples.

            1. Andrew Watts

              True. This process is what happened in part after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s so cliché to bring up Afghanistan as the graveyard of empires but even Alexander the Great had to run from Afghan tribesmen.

      2. James Levy

        The key period was the 1930s. The smart British elite (personified in Chamberlain) understood that Britain had enough muscle left to be either a European or an Imperial power, but not both. The dummies (personified by Churchill) imagined that they could eat their cake and have it, too. Churchill, the aristocrat from the Marlborough clan, never understood the economics of warfare. Chamberlain, from a Birmingham manufacturing family, understood all too well that without a complete economic recovery from WWI and the Depression, Britain could not fight another major war and emerge as an independent Great Power. He knew WWII would only help the Bolsheviks and the Americans, and he couldn’t stand either of them. Churchill was always under the delusion that Britain could muddle through and trick the dopey Americans into doing England’s bidding. In ’43-44 he drank himself into a stupor when he realized that Roosevelt had thrown him over for a rapprochement with Uncle Joe. From that point the British Empire was doomed.

      3. susan the other

        Our sense of mission has been stumbling around for a long time. We don’t know what to do with our dubious success because we achieved our goal – global capitalism – by pyrrhic victory. We trashed the planet. It’s gotta be impossible for those very smart and unenthusiastic cadets to suspend their disbelief and stand up and clap for Obama like Liz Warren.

  3. James Levy

    As for the “Empire without a strategy” essay, I cannot tell how much of what he maintains is true. During World War II every combatant nation employed propaganda. But people who wanted to read between the lines could figure out what had happened, if not always what was happening. Things like the disaster at Pearl Harbor, the U-boat depredations along the Atlantic seaboard, the defeats at Moscow and Stalingrad, could not be kept quiet for long (or at all). This GWOT crap is all in the dark. There is almost no way to verify what is actually happening, or what happened. When the Dieppe Raid turned into a fiasco, the people back in Canada who provided most of the cannon fodder were not deceived by the official story, and that official story had to take into account the “heroic” losses. But how do you pierce the veil of death squads and drones? So we have essays like the one here at the Links, filled with assertions the author cannot hope to prove. How can we know Russian technology works great, when it has never been tested? Was Osama bin Laden innocent of 9/11, and did he die in 2001? The truth is out there, but it is hidden in a wilderness of lies, disinformation, and speculation, and I’m damned if I can track it down.

  4. craazyboy

    “How We’ll Talk To Aliens”

    hmm. The boys at NASA went thru a lot of trouble figuring this out and wrote a book about it, ” Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication. ”

    I’m afraid to say it will be anyway the space aliens want, if they even choose to.

    But it’s worth the click into the article just to see the picture there. They pointed the Hubble ‘scope out there and found a huge multi-galactic cat staring back at us. Too spooky for an antidote, tho.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Before we start looking for space aliens, it’s best we master the technology of cloaking our planet.

      The basic 2 laws of interstellar life form communication:

      1. If we are superior, we offer our space friends upward mobility so they can work their way up the serfdom
      2. If they are superior, we come in the name of peace (though obviously, no possibility of communication at all, in the first place, is much, much preferred; thus the need for cloaking the planet).

      But being Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens, we just rushed in without a plan B.

      1. craazyboy

        Scientists like diversity – they made the earth an interstellar beacon for both nice space aliens and the hungry kind with toothy expanding mandibles and brain energy sucking antennas.

        You’d think they would have known better after the anal probing fiasco.

      2. LucyLulu

        The aliens have already come. They too were looking for other signs of intelligence in the universe. They left our planet and solar system when they didn’t find any.

    2. susan the other

      What’s with NASA. They haven’t been able to get us excited about space and space travel for a long time. But they keep trying. Why don’t they go whole hog and write about how all those highly advanced space aliens who have been watching us with such a benevolent attitude have now decided to clean up Fukushima for us. Wow. The aliens are gonna do it!

  5. jfleni

    RE: ‘Female’ hurricanes cause more deaths, but only because people don’t take them seriously.

    That’s easy to fix! From now on, these storms should be named something like “Rip”, or “Bubba”. I hope no ladies will be offended by this effort to take these potentially dangerous storms anything but seriously!

    1. Working Class Nero

      The slight little problem with the article was that from the early 50’s until the late 70’s, hurricanes were ALL named after women. But this was of course sexist (jokes were made about stormy women) so they started alternating genders. So yeah, back then hurricanes caused many more deaths that in recent years. Maybe a simple little detail like this should have been taken into account when doing a study that would have been rejected as an Onion article?

      The question is, was the clueless woman who conducted this study paid 22% less than her male colleagues?

      1. Working Class Nero

        Oops, my bad, the researchers were actually aware of the fact that hurricanes were all named after women from the 50’s to the late 70’s. For this era they estimated the degree of femininity (they say Fern was obviously less feminine than Camille back in those days for example) and so it seems the sexists would were more afraid of the butch-sounding storms and high-tailed it towards safer passages while showing no respect for the femme-sounding storms and refused to flee.

        I wonder if they controlled for effeminate sounding male names? Not afraid of Francis but evacuating with a quickness for Grant?

        1. Working Class Nero

          It turns out that if they had done this study a little less than two years ago — before Hurricane Sandy — then the results would have been the opposite; more people dying in male-named storms. I suppose in that case the feminist shtick would have been than people are more comfortable and trusting of male names and therefore stayed close to home during a storm but were irrationally fearful of female hurricanes and therefore fled to safety.

          And the funny thing about basing your whole study on the first name Sandy is that it is really a unisex name. There are a couple famous baseball players named Sandy.

          1. craazyboy

            I think they should re-think the whole naming thing altogether. Female names for hurricanes, male names for tornadoes. At least then we can tell which is which?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder what the noun gender for hurricane is in languages that make the distinction.

      In German, it would der Hurrikan Eve…male noun.

      To make things up, I think we should have boy/male financial crisis name…the 2007 Adam financial crisis.

      1. Gabriel

        MyLess –

        Male names for bear financial crises – and female names for financial bull periods? Maybe we can use the names of the US presidents [bears] and their wives [bulls]?

        Lady Bird expansion? Lyndon contraction?

        Barak recession? Michelle recovery?

    3. ChrisPacific

      Hurricane Butch. Hurricane Knuckles. Hurricane Shredder. Hurricane Guido. Hurricane Tyson.

      It’s a good idea but you would run out of names pretty quickly.

  6. craazyboy

    “Beyond Obama’s Plan: A New Economic Vision for Addressing Climate Change”

    Nice piece of sci-fi writing, but really, the “marginal cost” of green energy with be zero? hahaha. Surprised they didn’t throw in the 1970s 100mpg carburetor. And anyone will tell you the biggest bang for the buck for home energy efficiency is roof insulation and door weather stripping – not whether your refrigerator knows when to order lettuce for you and send lettuce tracking reports to your iPhone.

    Me and a buddy recently decided to play with microcontrollers as a new hobby and this potentially ties into the “Internet of Things” space plus the ability to interface with whatever web services are out there acting as data and info sources.

    Here’s what small solar panels cost us – a bit more than the 62 cents/watt, boldly stated as fact in the article.

  7. rich

    How Big Banks and Corporations Use Bilateral Treaty Agreements to Curtail Citizens Rights

    Published on Jun 2, 2014

    Bill Black: Corporations are using private arbitrators to strike down national regulations that are passed to protect the public”

    1. Andrew Watts

      Correction: Corporate entities backed by American imperial power.

      There is good news and bad news. The loss of power suffered by business interests circa 1914-1945 coincided with the instability of the British imperial system which assisted in improving the overall plight of workers worldwide. The two great wars that occurred during this time were not great experiences though.

  8. Kurt Sperry

    Re: Comcast CEO and Netflix– If the pipe isn’t big enough to meet demand, don’t screw around with punitive schemes or bureaucratic or legislative band-aids, just make the pipe bigger. Internet infrastructure investments create a huge, almost unprecedented, economic public benefit. Private internet providers with near monopoly status have almost no incentives to improve service quality. In most places there are so few broadband options there is no real competitive dynamic–given the choice of investment or profit taking, the profit taking will win almost every time. Collusion whether consciously orchestrated or of the informal variety is all but guaranteed. Commercial for profit internet providers make as little sense as would have commercial roads or commercial water and sewage providers, real competition is impossible because having multiple infrastructures makes neither logical or economic sense and today internet is as necessary as water, roads or sewer. The only way private internet providers makes any sense at all is to put them under huge regulatory controls where they must apply for and justify rate increases and at that point public ownership makes far better sense. In fact billing small or non-commercial users fees at all makes no sense, as every dollar spent on accounting and billing bureaucracies is a dollar wasted on unnecessary and hugely expensive accounting, bureaucracy and paperwork. Billing and accounts require huge costly inefficiencies in that they contribute exactly nothing to actually providing the service–in fact they only exist to block access. If private companies need be involved at all, better to do away with individual customer accounts entirely and have a single public payer that has real negotiating muscle–something the individual customer with no real choices never has.

    This notion that private enterprise is magically more efficient than public enterprise needs to be killed and buried once and for all. The notion works at the small business scale where the consumer has a lot of choices, but where the actual number of consumer choices is small, private enterprise is likely to be the least efficient way to fill a consumer demand.

  9. Fool


    Isn’t the below market rate a positive outcome of rent-securitization? (For the renter, at least). Theoretically, if you’re a landlord and you can offset (“securitize”) rentier risk, wouldn’t this lower the risk premium, i.e. effectively lower the rent?

    Around a year ago I had thought of rent securitization working this way in areas like Bushwick, Bedstuy, Crown Heights, etc. wherein a local landlord — presupposing the landlord is, say, a middle-class family that rents out units in its townhouse/rowhouse/apartment building and not a slumlord — would be not only be able to free up capital by locking in a cash flow, but also, in so doing, anchor down the market rate and thereby undercut unseemly developers (e.g. foreign investors, PE). Everyone wins, no?

    Granted, this is hardly why the rental-backed security was created — when I mentioned the possibility of this outcome to someone very closely involved it was met with a shrug. Anyway, point being, as the rent is indeed Too Damn High…isn’t this a good thing?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Sort of.

      It’s cheaper because it’s of lesser quality, or not as safe, or reliable…

      Maybe we can think of it as hedonic substitution – if being healthy 99% of the time is too expensive, the patient, sorry, the consumer can opt for a cheaper, sorry, a more affordable, plan of being health 50% of the time.

      1. Fool

        I dunno…where to rent is a choice made more out of availability or necessity than it is of hedonic preference (if the latter were the case, then it would seem that the obvious preference would be to buy…). And even still, the average landlord is no santa claus; Blackstone, on the other hand, would probably rather throw money at a problem like home-repair — along the lines of, say, Grandma Moses’ broken window — than have her writing a letter to the FHA.

      1. Fool

        But what if the lease was signed through a third party (“X”)? Renters, in theory, would be paying X and not the landlord. This way, you could securitize the payments over a longer period (say, 2-5 years) and still account for the high frequency of turnover in the rental market — meanwhile, the landlord is incentivized not to raise the rent (credit risk) and with the guaranteed cash flow he can then free up capital.

        Better the local landlord buy up more local properties than parasitic investors, no?

  10. Jackrabbit

    Unveiling “Western” Hypocrisy Russia Connects Syria And Ukraine – Moon of Alabama
    Reader JSorrentine pens an indictment of Western leadership (below) and civilization that I think raises many important questions. Is this hyperbole or is the West fundamentally immoral and aggressive? Have we learned nothing from history? Is WWIII inevitable? etc.

    In the minds of the psychotic Western elite, there is no alternative to thinking how they currently do and I don’t mean that lightly.

    Do people think that if someone could have just sat the leaders of the British Empire etc down and explained to them the unjustness of colonization that they would have stopped?

    That all mankind needed to do to avoid the US Civil War was to rationally explain that slaves WEREN’T really subhuman animals?

    What about the Native American genocide? Gee, if only we’d have had Rachel Maddow back then, right? Shucks.

    Nope, for whatever reason and there are numerous reasons, the US war criminal elite and their Western minions have demonstrated time and time – exposed hypocrisy after exposed hypocrisy – that they are ALL IN in regards to their current trajectory. They have made their decisions.

    Thus, we are not engaged in a polite debate with these war criminals where a fitting charge of “hypocrite!” is going to make them pause or stop what they are doing especially as TPTB have been very skillful in crafting/framing their obvious – and UNDEBATABLE – commissions of war crimes as the subject for polite debate and discussion.

    No, we are witnessing the waging of a full-on war of aggression directed by people whom we should not treat as if they are bluffing and by bluffing I mean that TPTB really do rationally understand that they are being hypocritical/criminal and could chose NOT to engage in said actions/crimes if the just understood what was “right” and what was “wrong” as determined by certain bothersome – yet teensy weensy and non-powerful – segments of society.

    1. Andrew Watts

      I blame human nature. Morality is governed by power, ideals do not shape power, When the Russian/Chinese alliance dominates the course of the next century we’ll all be nostalgic for the American empire.

          1. Andrew Watts

            This is the perfect excuse for a quote by Reinhold Niebuhr. (“Yay!”)

            “What is lacking among all these moralists, whether religious or rational, is an understanding of the brutal character of the behavior of all human collectives, and the power of self-interest and collective egoism in all intergroup relations. Failure to recognise the stubborn resistance of group egoism to all moral and inclusive social objectives inevitably involves them in unrealistic and confused political thought. They regard social conflict either as an impossible method of achieving morally ap- proved ends or as a momentary expedient which a more perfect education or a purer religion will make unnecessary. They do not see that the limitations of the human imagination, the easy subservience of reason to prejudice and passion, and the consequent persistence of irrational egoism, particularly in group behavior, make social conflict an inevitability in human history, probably to its very end.” -Moral Man and Immoral Society

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It’s a collective Dunning-Kruger we suffer as a species.

              Let’s call it Whole Village Dunning-Kruger.

        1. jrs

          Russia, hmm, maybe. But China is enough condemend by it’s own smog choked cities, it’s poisoned farmland. The destruciton of the biological matrix on which human survival depends of is enough of a condemnation. And no “so does the U.S.” doesn’t really fly with me as I’ve never been much into the “lesser of two evils”.

        1. Andrew Watts

          Maybe in another million years humanity will have evolved into a species capable of a higher intelligence. Just kidding.

            1. Andrew Watts

              I believe that individual people retain the moral capacity to do right by their fellow man in spire of the tragic condition of humanity.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Western Civilization FAIL?

        “Civilization” – law, religion (codified morality), etc.- was suppose to check the worse aspects of our nature. JSorrentine’s comment suggests that to the extent that the bad behavior of the 99% is checked (becoming sheeple), the 1% are emboldened to do harm.

        1. Andrew Watts

          I don’t believe that the proles are morally superior to the bourgeoisie. The oppressed have often become the new source of injustice after they’ve overthrown their oppressors. It is the blindness to their capacity for evil which inevitably breeds more injustice.

            1. Jackrabbit

              @Andrew Watts

              Reading what you write in an earlier comment, I think I took what you wrote in way that you may not have intended. So I think I have to clarify my response.

              The proles may indeed not be morally superior but the relevant point is that civilization has greatly limited the ability of proles as a class to harm others while elites (no matter their background) are much less constrained. In fact, in Western thinking, it is the ‘job’ of elites to relentlessly run companies efficiently (reducing worker pay and benefits, fire people, etc.), aggressively pull countries into the Western sphere, etc. They begin to think their ‘toughness’ and ‘connections’ makes them superior.

              1. Jackrabbit

                Um . . . so, to complete the thought.

                “When the government fears the people there is liberty, when the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

                By turning people into fearful sheeple (including spying on them), elites think they have slipped the bounds of prole-imposed morality.

                @Andrew Watts: the solution is not overthrowing elites but restoring balance.

              2. Andrew Watts

                Kudos for re-evaluating. In a sense the power elite are trapped by the expectations and circumstances they operate under. This limits their ability to act. They are further contained by the lack of creative ideas to address the problems they face. It’s probably why they’re in such a stupendous form of denial when they lack a cohesive plan that transcends wishful thinking and self-delusion.

                The tendency of power is to expand because it is insecure. Even though the NSA spends billions of dollars every year former officials openly worry that individual hackers will eventually gain the capabilities of the intelligence agencies. Despite the massive accumulation of power their data collection programs represent they were clearly unprepared for Snowden’s actions.

  11. optimader

    Burt Reynolds is looking like a muppet these days. He must be pretty poorly advised.

  12. Kurt Sperry

    This is nice. The reporter even supplied her own Steadmanesque illustration for it:

    Donald Trump’s hair should not be.

    It sits on his head like a soufflé, both airy and solid, as improbable as any building to which he’s given his name. In Dubai, I get to inspect Trump from all angles. His hair is otherworldly, but his face is more easily dissected. It’s tangerine, save two pale circles around his eyes.

    Ivanka looks perfect, however. Even when her mouth is a moue of hate.

  13. optimader

    Re: NRA slams ‘downright scary’ Open Carry Texas gun lovers: They ‘crossed the line’
    They should all be given free transportation to Yemen or Somalia to live the dream of open carry

    1. Kurt Sperry

      One wonders what the open carry crowd would do faced with an organized group of 100 or so large angry black men openly toting around ARs, AKs and SSKs. I think I know but I’d still like to see it.

      1. fresno dan

        I was going to say exactly the same thing.
        It would actually be in line with my idea of curtailing police abuses….

        “The Panthers, however, took it to an extreme, carrying their guns in public, displaying them for everyone—especially the police—to see. Newton had discovered, during classes at San Francisco Law School, that California law allowed people to carry guns in public so long as they were visible, and not pointed at anyone in a threatening way.

        In February of 1967, Oakland police officers stopped a car carrying Newton, Seale, and several other Panthers with rifles and handguns. When one officer asked to see one of the guns, Newton refused. “I don’t have to give you anything but my identification, name, and address,” he insisted. This, too, he had learned in law school.

        “Who in the hell do you think you are?” an officer responded.

        “Who in the hell do you think you are?,” Newton replied indignantly. He told the officer that he and his friends had a legal right to have their firearms.

        Newton got out of the car, still holding his rifle.

        “What are you going to do with that gun?” asked one of the stunned policemen.

        “What are you going to do with your gun?,” Newton replied”

        History – always amusing. One of those ironic things – if liberals are serious about gun control, start encouraging black people to carry guns where the NRA says they have a right to carry them.
        Does the NRA allow reporters at their news conferences to pack???
        And I would love to see the cognitive dissonance at FOX when a black radical with a 44 magnum sits down for an interview….I mean, FOX does believe that Americans (what was his name…Clive Bundy???) have a right to have a firearm when dealing with the “authorities” (hmmmm….is that just Federal authorities or does it apply to local police????)
        As a matter of Fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing ole Clive and a few of his more “eccentric” followers in a FOX studio with their plethora of firearms. And Fox policy should be that every guess should be allowed to pack on air. I bet the discussions would be more circumspect, civil, and courteous at least…

  14. Andrew Watts

    RE: Spies Say They are Confused and Outraged by Restrictions on Talking to Journalists

    When this plan was first unveiled a few of us in the NC commentariat thought it’d cause morale problems. It seems to have inspired contempt for our political leaders. I really don’t think this is a positive development.

    “They’re not going to confront Clapper about this, they’re just going to ignore him,” the former official said.”

    Sooner or later time will tell.

  15. diptherio

    Just came across this rather interesting site:

    The Universal Expansion Group. Sounds like a UFO cult crossed with a CIA front-company…

    Their business model is three-fold: a mutual credit platform, an e-commerce site, and a credit-clearing division. Here’s a description of their credit-clearing methods from their site:

    This innovative division of Universal Expansion Group is a unique alternative to conventional collection agencies…

    There are two aspects of this program, either one to be activated according to the role of the company that approaches us for solutions. Creditors approach us to implement our Accounts Receivable Assistance. Debtors approach us to avail themselves of our Accounts Payable Solutions…Credit Clearing is not Credit Collection, and the outcome is far more desirable. When working for the Creditor, we do strive to get them back dollar-for-dollar what they are owed. We don’t buy their debts for ten cents on the dollar. We don’t alienate and hassle their struggling customers who are drowning in debt, we throw them a lifeline. This strengthens customer relations, rather than destroying them. A settlement offer is directed to the Debtor on behalf of the Creditor, to settle at a premium of 3:1 in Digital Gift Certificates, which we then proceed to sell off to the public for cash at 50% of face value on Dealacopia. The Creditor receives 2/3 of the proceeds from each sale to get paid back in cash, or bitcoin, at 1:1.

    When working for the Debtor, we seek to offer their Creditors a favourable settlement offer of pre-paid credit to purchase goods or services from our global network of companies, optionally at a premium above what they are owed, at no risk. If they can’t spend it, they are still owed the debt. If they can spend it, they are increasing sales and exposure for our client, who is then responsible to offer more of their product to the network…The simplicity of our approach to clearing credit holds the key to it’s potential. Together we can make debt disappear, regardless of the fickle fiat monetary supply and it’s correspondingly mathematically-impossible-to-repay debt.

    The Mutual Credit Network is a barter network for businesses and individuals that offers an interest free line of credit for businesses:

    Businesses are eligible for 0% interest Deficit spending privileges, effectively a Line of Credit, to spend within the network. This enables businesses the security of spending first, and only providing their product to cover what they have spent.

    In addition to businesses, NPO’s can use this trade network to their benefit by accepting donations from businesses with excess capacity. NPO’s offer tax-deductible receipts to the network to pay for their purchases. A simple way to connect the excess capacities of industry to the needs of benevolent organizations.

    Which fits in nicely with the e-commerce site:

    Dealacopia is where we arbitrage our Digital Gift Certificate inventory, part of which we earn from the Accounts Receivable Assistance section of our Credit Clearing Solutions division. This is how we can distribute cash to our various clients, contractors, and shareholders, while driving business to their struggling customers. Together we are clearing B2B credit issues, and fighting inflation by contributing deflationary pricing for the benefit of the public consumer.

    On the whole, it sounds like they’ve got an pretty interesting model. Anybody heard of ’em? Cause part of it also sounds a bit like a pyramid scheme:

    It is easy and free to set up an account on Dealacopia, and when you do, you’ll earn 10% of the cash spent by your referrals, paid out bi-weekly, forever! Put a referral tracking link on your site, in your signature, your blog, wherever you want. It’s residual, passive income, and it doesn’t cost you a cent.

    Promises of free income (forever!) always make me skeptical, but leaving that aside, their whole system sounds kinda cool.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If a monetary sovereign can never run out of its own currency, we have a few possibilities:

      1. Free capital gains forever for rentiers
      2. Free working income forever for the Little People

  16. dearieme

    Feudalism was in the Middle Ages not the Dark Ages. I hate it when journalists confuse their cliches.

  17. Jim Haygood

    ‘For stocks, which are wedded to earnings, to be rising while Treasury yields are falling shows a serious decoupling of market logic.’ — Pam Martens


    There they go again — trying to analyze markets with logic. It don’t have to make sense.

    You hyper-rationalists out there might aks yoselfs … what is the biggest difference between now (Bubble III) and the previous Bubbles I and II?

    Answer: the yield curve. In Oct. 2000, T-bills yielded 7% more than 10-year T-notes. Stocks were already on their way to a 45% decline, and the economy entered recession a couple of months later.

    Similarly, in Nov. 2006, T-bills outyielded 10-year notes by nearly 10%, sounding the death knell for the great housing bubble. Stocks peaked less a year later, as the 2008 crisis began.

    Today, by contrast, T-bills yield 99% less than 10-year notes. In the fifth year of an expansion, the yield curve (pegged at the short end by J-Yel & Co.) is still flat on the floor. Translation: ‘pedal to the metal, turbo at max boost.’

    Why shouldn’t stocks be screaming? There’s nothing to stop them: the traffic cops are high-fiving stocks as they blast through a special needs school zone [Wall Street] at 120 mph. Go, stocks, go!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Cool animation; thanks.

        My only quibble is during the period from Aug. 2001 to Feb. 2006 when issuance of 30-year Treasuries was suspended, I wish they’d picked up the yield on the longest-available maturity, rather than freezing the 30-year yield until it recommenced.

        Though the animation gives the misleading impression that it was anchored, the longest-available yield was flopping around as usual during them years. As exemplified by Operation Twist and its modern variants styled as QE, the Fed wishes in its megalomaniacal fantasies that it could dictate the whole yield curve. But the market is bigger than a bunch of PhDs gathered at a walnut conference table.

        Hey, who swiped my donut?

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      I don’t want to analyze their markets. I don’t want to participate in their markets. And, as has been the case following all previous episodes, it’s the banquet of consequences that concern me. I don’t care for the dishes being force-fed those of us who choose not to participate in their rigged markets.

      So who is the individual deciding the prices of these stock indexes, Treasury bonds, etc.? I don’t recall voting for him or her… or for their policies of economic coercion.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Chinese Blockade Agents As House Prices Tank:

    “Ifeng reports that a property in Guangdong that sold for between ¥16,000 and ¥21,000 per sqm was cut to ¥9800 to ¥12,500 per sqm, or 40% off. Existing homeowners were so angry that they locked the gate of their development and did not allow and sales people or customers access…”

    I don’t recall reading similar stories in other countries.

    Existing homeowners angry and getting physical about developers discounting.

    It seems no one buys a house just to live, but as a major investment…which it is, along with it being a home to live in, but it seems to be the only thing over there.

    Is it more typical of a late-stage bubble?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Mark to market…hold till maturity…

        It’s interesting banks don’t hold loans till maturity (typically 15 or 30 years), but foreclose when the indebted becomes, for example, contemporary out of work.

        Compare that with ancient Roman slaves.

        When a Roman pays cash, in aurei, for a Vandal slave, for example, he usually holds the slave’s slavery until he/she matures into another world…be it 10, 30 or 80 years. The Roman master does not terminate the slave, due to temporary incapacitation, and forecloses and sells the slave, in whole or in part, for scrap value.

        Hold till maturity.

        In comparison, our modern debt-slavery is much more cruel.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Seattle $15 min. wage.

    I prefer GDP sharing and Money Creation via the Little People spending it into existence over that, but if one is to adopt the hiking min wage approach, I wonder if a single-city implementation might cast negative comparisons, in this age of financial, commercial and manufacturing mobility, compared with, say, a state wide or nation wide mandate.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Building local support is a crucial step towards a state/nation wide mandate. Personally, I would prefer the plan that labor unions proposed during the Carter Administration. The minimum wage being set at a rate no less than 60-70% of a union worker’s wage. The minimum wage would then be exclusively in the hands of unions instead of Congress.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Oops. That’s what I get for copying and pasting an incomplete response.

        *Raising the minimum wage would then be exclusively in the hands of unions instead of Congress.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You hear how they scream at Marketwatch about this hike being the latest headache for the Fed; I assume this is the ‘inflation’ they fear, never mind the $5/gal gas or food inflation.

          If I understand MMT correctly, with inflation, aside from the fact that this is a particular virulent form of inflation for the Fed, we need more taxes.

          Finally, tax time (probably not taxing the rich, but a general inflation tax -:(…shared sacrifice, you know)!

  20. rich

    Wall Street Firms Using Their Dark Pools To Make Markets in Their Own Stocks

    These self-named dark pools are operating as private exchanges, with a faux type of specialist system managing the order book, with all the insight and power that it entails. The layman may not quite comprehend this, but anyone familiar with Wall Street operations and history will certainly do so.

    That they are trading for their own parent company stocks, and possibly for their own books, ought to raise more than a few eyebrows.

    The lack of integrity in the Western financial system must seem appalling to anyone whose ears are not firmly taped to the corporate news feed droning out of New York and London.

    After Charges of Running a Price Fixing Cartel on Nasdaq in the 90s,
    Wall Street Banks Are Now Trading Their Own Stocks in Darkness
    By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 3, 2014

  21. Pwelder

    That Engdahl piece on shale from New Eastern Outlook is a good example of the pitfalls awaiting bloggers outside their areas of expertise.

    Engdahl writes: “Translated, that means on average after only four years, you have only 20% of your initial gas volume available from a given horizontal drilling investment with fracking. After seven years, only 10%. The real volume shale gas boom appeared in 2009. That means in the fields where significant drilling was present by 2009 are already dramatically depleted by 80% and soon by 90%”

    This is the kind of rookie mistake that Yves has called out dozens of times in reacting to ill-informed reporting on banking and finance. Given the typical decline curve of shale wells – which is well known to everyone in the industry – there are some early wells out there that have pretty much done what they’re going to do. But these fields are big. The shale operators drill many hundreds of wells a year, and they think that – geology and technology permitting – there are enough well sites to keep this up for a long time. It’s a huge error to leap from an assumed type curve to confident generalizations about entire fields like the Marcellus or the Montney.

    Art Berman might well turn out to be right. So might Ryan Lance. Just now neither of them knows for sure. And you can count on it that the same is true of Mr. Engdahl.

    By contrast, FWIW I think the IEA report referenced in the FT link is a worthwhile read for a general audience. Unfortunately the FT article did not include a link to the report itself or to the comments and presentations at its launch. Here it is:,72035,en.html

    1. Pwelder

      Apologies for the acronyms. It’s the International Energy Agency report on the investments that will be required to meet the world’s energy demand.

      Spending in real terms has doubled since 2000, with relatively puny increases in production. Outlook is for more of the same.

      That’s if we’re lucky.

    2. Luke The Debtor

      Engdahl also mentioned Rice Energy’s CCC+ bond issuance. Rice may be an exception to the norm for most oil companies. Rice is very much a family run business – where the VP of Geology is just 28 years old.

  22. rich

    County agrees to help billionaire Koch with $35 million bond for Oxbridge Academy

    By Christine Stapleton

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    The Palm Beach County Commission agreed this morning to issue a $35 million, mostly tax-exempt bond to help the private school expand.

    The commission approved the bond issue without discussion and there were no comments by the public.

    The school, where tuition costs $25,000 a year, intends to use the money to buy the 54.3-acre school site it now leases. The money would also be used to improve and expand the four buildings and sports venues on the campus.

    The school would be responsible for paying off the debt principal and interest. Taxpayers would not be on the hook, even if the school defaults on the bonds.

    An economic impact analysis conducted by the county staff shows a positive impact of $59.2 million over five years, according to the documents. However, details of the financial benefits were not included or presented during today’s meeting.

    1. jrs

      ok it’s obviously costing the taxpayers opportunity costs even if they really truly aren’t on the hook, that money I don’t know, could be used for a public purpose …

  23. don't let that gerbil get away

    Desmogblog, that is so tragic. Clearly KKR let Petraeus staff his own entourage and replicate all his wonted desk-jockey busywork. KKR didn’t know enough to do what the beltway bandits do: just serve a nice lunch and sit him down in an advisory panel, kiss his ass and let him make shit up. The last thing you want is this oily little squirt swanning around drawing attention to your crookedest deals. Next thing that happens, guaranteed, is what always happens when you hire a spook to do real work: the spook stages a major histrionic shit-fit that turns the unit upside down and all work grinds to a halt. This is KKR, after all, so at some point Petraeus is going to get himself purged like a Taco Waffle blasting back out of Britney Spears.

    1. optimader

      60km off russia’s shore is not over international waters but well within russian airspace..

      1. James Levy

        The Americans under Reagan declared a 12 mile limit off their coast as being under US jurisdiction (a wild inflation of the old 3 mile limit that had existed for two centuries). Other countries, of course, followed suit. Flying within 60km (37 miles) of Russia is provocative and certain to draw a response from Russian air defenses. If a big old Soviet four engine spy plane was flying 37 miles off the coast of San Francisco or New York you can bet your ass we’d send fighters up to say “hello.”

        1. optimader

          1. defines international airspace. It is harmonized with United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

          2. international convention for sovereign airspace is 12 NM

          3. Surveillance flights along the Russian (or US) border in international airspace are not anything new or provocative.

          It is expected that an escort aircraft showup, that is not the concern expressed. I gather you miss the point.

      1. optimader

        It’s an good site, David is insightful

        By David Cenciotti
        According to U.S. Defense officials, the one between a U.S. RC-135U and a Russian Air Force Su-27 Flanker was something more than a routine intercept.

        The RC-135U is one of the most secretive U.S. surveillance planes. It provides strategic electronic reconnaissance information, performing signal analysis by means of a wide variety of commercial off-the-shelf and proprietary hardware and software, including the Automatic Electronic Emitter Locating System.

        In short, the Combat Sent can simultaneously locate, identify, and analyze multiple electronic signals.

        Only two such kind of RC-135 are operated by the 55th Wing from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska but they are usually deployed abroad to keep an eye where needed.

        On Apr. 23, a U.S. Air Force RC-135U Combat Sent performing a routine surveillance mission in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk, north of Japan, some 60 miles off eastern Russia was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker.

        Unlike almost all similar episodes, occurring quite often during and after the Cold War across the world, the one conducted by the Russian Air Force Su-27 at the end of April was a “reckless intercept”, “one of the most dangerous aerial encounters for a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft since the Cold War,” according to Defense Officials who talked to Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz, who first unveiled the near collision.

        According to the Pentagon, the first part of the interception was as standard: the Su-27 (most probably the leader of a flight of at least two Flankers) approached the RC-135U and positioned more or less abeam the “intruder”. Then, instead of breaking away after positive identification of the “zombie” without crossing the line of flight of the intercepted aircraft, the Su-27 crossed the route of the U.S. spyplane putting itself within 100 feet of the Combat Sent.

        A dangerous maneuver (not compliant with the international standards) that momentarily put the two aircraft in collision course.

        An episode that reminds the far more dangerous close encouter of another U.S. spyplane with the Chinese Navy back in 2001.

        On Apr. 1, 2001, a U.S. Navy EP-3E with the VQ-1, flying an ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) mission in international airspace 64 miles southeast of the island of Hainan was intercepted by two PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy) J-8 fighters.

        One of the J-8s piloted by Lt. Cdr. Wang Wei, made two close passes to the EP-3 before colliding with the spyplane on the third pass. As a consequence, the J-8 broke into two pieces and crashed into the sea causing the death of the pilot, whereas the EP-3, severely damaged, performed an unauthorized landing at China’s Lingshui airfield.

        The 24 crew members (21 men and three women), that destroyed all (or at least most of ) the sensitive items and data on board the aircraft, were detained by Chinese authorities until Apr. 11.

        Anyway, Russian pilots have been involved in similar incidents during intercept missions during the years. Just two examples.

        On Sept. 13, 1987, a RNoAF P-3B had a mid air collision in similar circumstances with a Soviet Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker over the Barents Sea.

        In Apr. 2012, whilst flying over the Barents Sea on a routine mission, a Norwegian P-3 Orion came across a Russian Air Force Mig-31 Foxhound.

        Image credit: U.S. Air Force

        H/T to Giuseppe Stilo for the heads-up.

        David Cenciotti ( is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy.

        Born in 1975, he’s a private pilot, a former 2nd Lt. of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) and a graduate in Computer Engineering.

        Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide media outlets and magazines, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces.

        “Flight guru […] Aeronautics Buff David Cenciotti […] has strong credentials” Gizmodo

        His work has appeared on Air Forces Monthly, Revista Força Aérea, Fighter Tactics, Combat Aircraft, Aeronautica & Difesa, Airline, RID, Rivista Aeronautica, Airplanes, Tech News Daily and Innovation News Daily and I’m regularly interviewed by newspapers, televisions and radios.

        “He gives a refreshing Italian perspective, from a professional, of aviation. His books are top notch and he covers current dramatic aviation news with insight and objectivity. His opinions regarding current events is concise as well as accurate. There is no sensationalism or pandering or undue excitement as is found, too often, in today’s news media” SeattlePI

        Since Jan. 2013, he is the “first and only featured contributor” for Business Insider Military & Defense. Here’s The Aviationist’s section on BI. Read the introductory article Robert Johnson (BI Military & Defense Editor) wrote about David, including a long interview, here.

        If you want to know when a new article is published on a magazine or when I talked in TV or was quoted by newspapers check the in the News / Citations section.

        He has written four books; among them, the famous best-seller “Frecce Tricolori – an exciting 50 year flight” published by DeAgostini in 2010, the only official book of the Italian Air Force for the 50th Anniversary of the Frecce Tricolori display team.

        “The 37-year-old Cenciotti rivals ace Aviation Week reporter Bill Sweetman for breaking news about military aircraft.” Wired’s Danger Room

        As an Information Security and Cloud Networking pro, opinion leader and expert, he’s been working with large organizations analyzing their network architectures, assets, threats, security requirements and procedures, to manage their risks by means of proper countermeasures since 2001. He’s a Lead Auditor ISO 27001, ITIL v3 certified, and owns several more professional certifications.

        Still, the views expressed here are his alone and have not been authorized by, and do not necessarily reflect the views of his employer.

  24. Ulysses

    Nice conclusion to a sobering post today by Peter Van Buren:

    “The striking trend lines of social and economic disparity that have developed over the last 50 years are clearly no accident; nor have disemboweled unions, a deindustrialized America, wages heading for the basement (with profits still on the rise), and the widest gap between rich and poor since the slavery era been the work of the invisible hand. It seems far more likely that a remarkably small but powerful crew wanted it that way, knowing that a nation of fast food workers isn’t heading for the barricades any time soon. Think of it all as a kind of “Game of Thrones” played out over many years. A super-wealthy few have succeeded in defeating all of their rivals — unions, regulators, the media, honest politicians, environmentalists — and now are free to do as they wish.

    What most likely lies ahead is not a series of satisfying American-style solutions to the economic problems of the 99%, but a boiling frog’s journey into a form of twenty-first-century feudalism in which a wealthy and powerful few live well off the labors of a vast mass of the working poor. Once upon a time, the original 99% percent, the serfs, worked for whatever their feudal lords allowed them to have. Now, Walmart “associates” do the same. Then, a few artisans lived slightly better, an economic step or two up the feudal ladder. Now, a technocratic class of programmers, teachers, and engineers with shrinking possibilities for upward mobility function similarly amid the declining middle class. Absent a change in America beyond my ability to imagine, that’s likely to be my future — and yours”

  25. Howard Beale IV

    TrueCrypt is dead-long live TrueCrypt:

    TrueCrypt warrant canary confirmed?

    Bruce Schneier is wondering WTF’s happening here:

    Brian Krebs reports: “Using TrueCrypt is not secure”:

    Truecrypt’s Sourceforge’s wesbite recommend folks to use Microsoft’s BitLocker :

    Note that BitLocker is only available on Professional/Enterprise levels of Windows OS’s (Vista, 7, 8) and Server OS’s. and requires some tweaking if your motherboard doesn’t have a TPM chip.

  26. Roland

    If you think that the USA’s empire is in “decline,” then prepare yourself to spend the rest of your life being dismayed.

    1. Remember that the well-being of the USA’s empire is not directly related to the well-being of the inhabitants of the USA. It is perfectly possible for the US empire to remain very powerful, while the majority of the US population is reduced to ignominy, subjection, and wretchedness.

    2. The current technical conditions of warfare are not as labour-intensive as was the case in the 19th or 20th centuries. Therefore, the empire doesn’t need the masses to fight. The empire doesn’t need the masses to produce. Thanks to its soft-currency system, the USA’s empire doesn’t even need the masses to pay taxes! The empire only needs the masses to remain quiet. Judging from the behaviour of the masses, it seems to me that the empire is getting everything it needs from them.

    3. I can’t believe that anyone could look at a map of what has happened in the past 25 years, and claim the American empire is in decline. Take a blank map. At convenient time intervals, mark the bases, shade the regions with friendly regimes. You see is growth and success. Americans are mostly suffering, but their empire is doing just fine.

    4. Remember that the success of an empire has little to do with the success or survival of a civilization or a culture. It is perfectly possible for an empire to last for centuries, while the civilization and culture from which it sprang lies moribund and decaying. According to Toynbee’s famous Study of History, empire is the standard response of a ailing civilization to the problems that its ruling elite find themselves unable to solve. Empire is always a case of what elites try to do when they fail to rise to the occasion. Empires are born out of a civilization’s defects, and they thrive on a civilization’s decline.

    In other words, the people can be poorer, the culture can wither, and the environment can deteriorate, while the Empire endures for centuries. That’s what empires do. That’s what empires are for.

    The only good thing that can happen to an empire is for it to collapse. The pity is that the imperial collapse almost never happens soon enough. In the late stages of a civilization, the empire unfortunately ends up becoming synonomous with the civilization itself, so it is no longer possible to shed the worthless weight of empire and restore the dynamism and vitality of the underlying civilization and its people.

    It would be nice, though, if we were the first ones to try to go off-script.

    1. Andrew Watts

      You’re ignoring the unfolding events in the imperial periphery. The United States is losing influence in traditional spheres of influence while losing ground in Eurasia. Somehow it has managed to unite it’s adversaries in an alliance that will challenge it’s hegemony. If I didn’t know better I’d assume the neoconservatives were deliberately trying to sabotage the empire.

      1) The overall condition of the people is not dependent on the well being of the empire. This assertion has been well known throughout American history. From the anti-imperialist league featuring Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie to Martin Luther King’s “Every bomb dropped in Vietnam falls in Harlem.”.

      2) Irrelevant. No country can afford to alienate their allies, squander their military power, or dismantle their economic base. Nor can they afford to repeat costly mistakes with solutions that always fail.

      3) Considering that Toynbee saw the Anglo-American empire as a successor to the British empire it is a huge step downward in size, scope, and influence. The only advantage the American empire has over it’s predecessor is the scope of it’s cultural prowess. This factor only ensures the survival of American culture after the implosion of it’s empire. Which brings me too…

      4) One of the major failings of Toynbee was to equate civilization and culture with empire. While this was true in the case of the Roman Empire it does not apply to every instance. The collapse of an empire does not necessarily mean the civilization who gave birth to it will collapse as well.

      An empire is built through the strength not the weakness of a civilization as Toynbee believed. This is a reason why he lost popularity after the second World War.

  27. Roland

    Losing ground in Eurasia? The USA just installed a client regime in the western part of Ukraine. This development has unfolded before our eyes in real time.

    Take a look at a map of Eurasia. Mark the extent of US political control, bases, clients, allies, satellites etc. as they stood in 1980. Then mark where they stand today. Compare the two. That’s a pretty funny sort of “losing ground.”

    Most US people are declining, in terms of their quality of life. The biosphere is declining, in terms of extant species. But the US empire, unfortunately, is not among the things to be found in decline in our world today. Can it go on indefinitely? Of course not. But it can go on for a surprisingly long time, far longer than one might “rationally” expect. Put it this way: the empire is going to make sure that a lot of other things die, before it whimpers its last.

    You write: “One of the major failings of Toynbee was to equate civilization and culture with empire.”

    Have you read A Study of History? Somervell’s two-volume abridgement, which was fully endorsed by the author, is manageable enough for the general reader.

    If you have read it, then of course you will know that your quoted remark is altogether mistaken–embarrassingly so. Toynbee certainly does not equate civilization with empire. In Toynbee’s dialectic, the attempt to establish what he calls a “universal state” (note that Toynbee does not use the term in the Hegelian sense) only occurs in a civilization which is in “breakdown.” Toynbee is quite clear about this.

    Toynbee is personally ambivalent about empire. You will find pro-imperial passages in his work. But his analysis of history easily accomodates a variety of interpretations that reach much beyond the author’s own political opinions. That’s why his 1930’s work remains cogent.

  28. AndrewW

    It’s no wonder you think the empire isn’t in decline. The western Ukraine doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. If it did US/EU aid would not be dependent on keeping the country unified with eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian gambit was all about Sevastopol. It would have been a historical win for US/NATO to deprive Russia access to the Black Sea. The potentially disastrous plan to deny Russia naval bases in Syria never got off the ground.

    So what does the overall picture look like? As mentioned above the Russians are not contained in the Black Sea or the Eastern Mediterranean. The Russo-Georgian war was another major setback for the growth of US imperial influence in Eurasia. Iraq was a neocon disaster and Afghanistan isn’t exactly a win. While US military bases in the Central Asian republics are gone. Finally, if Putin’s plan successfully unfolds in the Eastern Ukraine then Russia will only stand to gain more influence in Europe.

    Not exactly a string of victories for the American empire but it gets worse. However, I don’t see a reason to reiterate points you blissfully ignored… or arguing over Toynbee’s work.

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