Links 6/6/14

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Good-looking groups of friends unable to sustain conversation Daily Mash

Your vanilla ice cream is about to get weirder Mother Jones (James R)

D-Day/World War II

A U.S. soldier’s last letter home before he died on D-Day Washington Post

D-Day Propaganda Misses The Soviet Contributions Moon of Alabama

On iconic U.S. Route 66, German and Italian POWs lie in Oklahoma graves Reuters (EM)

Researchers to use exosuit to explore ancient Antikythera wreck PhysOrg (Chuck L)

NYC Wants Food Scraps to Help Heat 5,200 Homes Bloomberg

The case against the annual physical exam for healthy patients MinnPost (Chuck L)

One Multinational Grocery Retailer Just Made a Moral Decision to Put Health Before Profits Food Revolution (furzy mouse)

Canadian Oil sands Are Filthy, But Canada Doesn’t Care OilPrice

S&P loses Australia appeal over ratings Financial Times

Junta opens foreign front in PR blitz Bangkok Post (furzy mouse)

A worrying sign ThaiVisa (furzy mouse)

Draghi Unveils Historic Measures Against Deflation Threat Bloomberg

America prosecutes its interests and persecutes BNP Felix Salmon, Financial Times. Long form treatment on how this proposed sanction is about US security interests.

London’s Dirty Secret: Pollution Worse Than Beijing’s Bloomberg

How mistakes can save lives: one man’s mission to revolutionise the NHS New Statesman (Chuck L)

A eulogy to the NHS: What happened to the world my generation built? Guardian (Kevin F)


Farmers In Annexed Crimea Are Running Out Of Water – And They Can Only Get It From Ukraine Business Insider (John L)

This Time, Russia-China Alliance Will Last Bloomberg

Gazprom Deal With China May Cost Russia OilPrice

Giant Sucking Sound: Russian Money Yanked From US Banks Wolf Richter

Do We Really Need to Re-Start the Cold War? George Washington

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

US Secret Service seeks Twitter sarcasm detector New Statesman (Chuck L)

NSA reform bill finds few allies before Senate Guardian

DOJ’s Idea of an Appropriate Passive-Aggressive Response to Accusations They Destroyed Evidence: Destroy More Evidence Marcy Wheeler

America’s telecommunications companies want fewer data protection rules Pando

FBI provided Anonymous with targets, new leaks show RT (Chuck L)

Obamacare Launch

The Inexorable March of Big Government Health Care American Prospect. This is NOT “big government health care” Health insurance is NOT health care, and government subsidies to incumbents is not the same as a government-run program like the VA, which is being put on the road to being made safe for looting, um, privatized (at least in part)

Jeez, I hope those 10 guys with AR-15s in this restaurant don’t have keychains! GunFAIL LXXI Daily Kos (furzy mouse)

Snyder: Regional water authority possible, not critical to Detroit bankruptcy exit Detroit Free Press John L: “Disaster capitalism in Detroit.”

BofA in Talks to Pay At Least $12 Billion to Settle Probes Wall Street Journal. The officialdom is seeking more in hard cash and less in all-too-easily-gamed homeowner “relief”. So perhaps the criticism on that front of past settlements has had a wee impact.

How Institutional Defects Get Ignored: The GM – and Lehman Reports by Valukas Bill Black, New Economic Perspectives. Highlights the role of attorneys, in this case appallingly conflicted ones, in justifying elite crimes and misconduct.

Class Warfare

The newest threat to the middle class: Why private equity is becoming a public problem David Sirota, Salon. Good to see this issue getting more traction, but this is the antithesis of a “new threat”. private equity has been the driver of the corporate squeeze on labor since the 1980s. Corporate America has emulated their techniques (albeit in a less extreme implementation).

Medical Breakthrough: Low Dosage “Piketty” Prevents “FT” Fits Paul Jorion

Real Wage Growth Around the World Triple Crisis

How Fast Food Companies Steal from Their Employees Alternet

Who Is Behind the National Right to Work Committee and Its Anti-Union Crusade? TruthOut

Bloomberg’s Banal Bloviation Makes McCarthyite Headlines at Harvard Reader Supported News

Antidote du jour (Lance N):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. abynormal

    re Grocery Chain makes Moral Decision: “The candy and junk food lining the register is making us sick, it’s undermining the health of the entire country. Its rendering young adults unfit for military service, it’s clogging our hospitals, it’s infecting children with serious adult diseases.”

    Colored lights can hypnotize
    Sparkle someone else eyes
    Now woman, I said get away
    American woman, listen what I say

    American woman, said get away
    American woman, listen what I say
    Don’t come hangin’ around my door
    Don’t wanna see your face no more
    I don’t need your war machines
    I don’t need your ghetto scenes / guess who

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Junk food will make anyone sick.

      Lack of exercise makes one out of shape, in many cases…was watching a Bourdain show when he was in Sardinia where people today still ate natural, free range/wild meats and the grandmothers were, let’s say, not skinny. Good food can be fattening…in many cases, and you don’t have to go to Sardinia to see that…now or in the 19th century.

      Junk food, though, will make you sick.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday brought a new chapter in the annals of central bankster insanity, with Europe’s unveiling of KNIRP (Know Nothing Interest Rate Policy).

    As the Nasdaq parties like 1999 and the S&P vapes on into the empyrean, a question lingers in the air: is Bubble III bigger than the Internet Bubble?

    One thing’s for sure: in the sixth year of a massive rally in which the S&P is within 3% of tripling its 2009 low, the Fed funds rate remains stuck at zero, and QE still rumbles on.

    As I told J-Yel at the Federal Reserve softball game last weekend, ‘Janet … y’all is done gone PLUMB CRAZY!’

    1. Jim Haygood

      With Dow 17,000 approaching, James Glassman is feverishly revising his classic 1999 investment tome, Dow 36,000, for a second edition. The world is ready for it this time.

      As ol’ Bob Prechter used to say, ‘WAVE 3 of III, BITCHEZ!’ (Okay, I made up the last word in the quote.)

      Despite their technical brilliance, reading between the lines of Dr. Hussman’s weekly commentaries, one can see a slow-motion, Sylvia Plath-like cracking of his psyche, as the market violates all his rational boundaries of overvaluation. One night, the poor man may snap, and go leveraged long. Then it will be time to sell.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe this time, the Dow can surpass Nikkei’s all time high of 38,957, set in 1989…in a back to the future sort of way.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Yes, it was on 29 Dec 1989, the last trading day of the year.

          The BOJ had just implemented the third in a series of rate hikes. Marty Zweig found that rate hikes were bad for U.S. stocks, to the point that he named this syndrome ‘Three Steps and a Stumble.’ So I asked one of my sogo shosha colleagues, Mr. Abe [no relation to Shinzo], whether the Nikkei might soon succumb.

          He conferred with his fellow Japanese salarymen (all of whom were balls-out long) and returned with their consensus: mondainai (no problem). The Triple Merit stocks were still roaring, so rate hikes didn’t matter.

          You know how the rest of the story went. Here in Bubblelandia, the rate hikes don’t even start till 2015, if ever.

      2. MikeNY

        LOL Jim.

        Grantham has a hit-tip to Hussman in his quarterly letter. He respects Hussman’s data analysis, but also says the bull market could easily have another 2-3 years and a couple hundred points on the SPOOs to go. And then it will be in good old-fashioned, 2-sigma bubbleland.

        We all know that’s what Easy Janet’s aiming at, even if she doesn’t.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The stock market is celebrating one thing – NO money creation via the Little People spending it into existence, but through the Fed buying financial assets from the wealthy. They then put the new money into the stock market.

          The minute we announce that Money is to be created via the Little People spending it into existence, Main Street will rejoice and Wall Street will probably crash.

          1. MikeNY

            Of course.

            Jim Cramer has come out and admitted no wage growth = higher corporate profits = bull market.

            It’s short-sighted, as Grantham and Co. recognize, because without wage growth, there will be a revolution. And revolution is not good for owners of capital. (see Revolution, Russian, French)

          2. inode_buddha

            “The minute we announce that Money is to be created via the Little People spending it into existence, Main Street will rejoice and Wall Street will probably crash.”

            Good. Can’t happen soon enough. I live on Main Street, like most other oeople, and have done so my entire life. IMHO the answer is to tax capital at a higher rate than labor (wages). That alone would eliminate most of the ills we discuss around here. Not to mention taxing things like carried interest (PE groups) and transfer pricing…

      3. craazyman

        I still believe he’ll be right eventually and I’m using channeling techniques to time it to the day. The goal is getting rich quick with deep out of the money puts and long volatility bets. I’m thinking a 3- or 4- bagger in 2 or 3 weeks, when it happens it’ll be fast, and then I’ll hit the bars, the couch, the beach and the sack — in varying combinations of sequential order. That’s the plan. That’s been the plan for 3 years. There is no other plan. Working is not a plan, it’s a cage.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I am not enthusiastic about right to work (in a cage) either…much less, guarantee work (in a cage).

        2. craazyboy

          Miss Mobius and her twin sister Esha Print work in a cage sometimes. But I sure wouldn’t want to.

          1. craazyman

            sounds like they’d probably run me over and flatten me like a soda can under their wheels. I’m a sensitive type! — at least when I’m sober. bowhahahah

            1. craazyboy

              You’re thinking of the Dual Flying Taekwondo Lap Dance With Flashing Disco F*ckme Heels.

              That’s something different.

  3. tongorad

    I found the A Eulogy to the NHS article to be very powerful.

    “It ends where I began my life – in a Britain that believed health care depended on your social status. So if you were rich and insured you received timely medical treatment, while the rest of the country got the drippings. One-fifth of the lords who voted in the controversial act – which provides a gateway to privatise our health care system – were found to have connections to private health care companies. If that doesn’t make you angry, nothing will.

    Sometimes I try to think how I might explain to Marion how we built these beautiful structures in our society – which protected the poor, which kept them safe at work, healthy in their lives, supported them when they were down on their luck – only to watch them be destroyed within a few short generations. But I cannot find the words.”

    A must-read.

    1. dearieme

      It starts with what is essentially a lie: “In 1926, Harry Leslie Smith’s sister died of TB in a workhouse infirmary, too poor for proper medical care. In 1948, the creation of the NHS put a stop to all that.” TB was stopped by antibiotics not by the NHS.

      But I’ll credit my NHS GP for agreeing with “The case against the annual physical exam for healthy patients”: I asked him about it and he laughed it off as an American extravagance quite unsupported by evidence.

    2. JTFaraday

      “One-fifth of the lords who voted in the controversial act – which provides a gateway to privatise our health care system – were found to have connections to private health care companies.”

      I don’t know who they think is going to pay for this.

  4. Jagger

    —Farmers in Ukraine running out of water—
    I suspect Ukraine better let water flow to the Crimea or make a water deal fast. Russia is not going to let the Crimea go. If they must annex eastern Ukraine for water to sustain the Crimea, I think there is a very good chance they will. And the fighting going on in eastern Ukraine gives them the perfect excuse to do it now rather than later.

  5. Eeyores enigma

    A good start on the discussion of how to actually allow people to not work.

    I would add paying anyone who goes to school at any level, any age. Make all hospitals teaching hospitals. Make all big business/corporations teaching institutions where you get paid to intern. Put the emphasis of education on understanding the fact that we live on a finite planet and must live accordingly. Expand all the arts, crafts, humanities, and basic trade crafts departments in all schools. Pay people well to apprentice with master trades people. Its actually quite easy to find a reason to pay someone.

    In essence education is the center of our society from birth to death. Some of the best live entertainment I have enjoyed was at our local University.

    1. cwaltz

      A basic income could be a good way to subsidize education. My biggest concerns regarding the basic income is the fact that it is being utilized as an argument to cut social programs like food stamps or housing. I think in most instances that replacing them with money that can be utilized on anything it wouldn’t be a huge problem. However, there is a percentage of the population that if you give them a sum of money to spend on their kids food, clothing and shelter that they might use it to blow on substance abuse. Do I really want to risk those kids getting lost in the cracks(and I think the odds increase exponentially for that if we start winding down social programs)?

      I really do like the idea of a basic income though otherwise. It could even be a basic way to pull down debt for schooling or household debt.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Depending on the amount of basic income.

        Too low, it locks in a permanent elites-lower middle class reality.

        Making it larger, basic income = GDP sharing.

        Basically, we want GDP sharing.

        We are all rich Middle Class or we are all poor Middle Class.

        In any case, a more wealth-equal society = a happier society.

  6. Vatch

    At first I thought that the articles “US Secret Service seeks Twitter sarcasm detector” and “Jeez, I hope those 10 guys with AR-15s in this restaurant don’t have keychains! GunFAIL LXXI” were from The Onion or The Daily Mash. Nope. The real world is becoming as strange as satire. What would Doug Piranha make of all this?

  7. Clive

    Re: D-Day/World War II

    France’s President Hollande has just (according to the translation I was listening to) lumped “financial deregulation” in with a load of other ills of the modern world reminiscent of what the Nazis espoused while making the D-Day landing commeration address to the assembled Heads of State (including US President Obama of course). Gesture politics and playing to the gallery maybe, but he’s definitely gone up a smidge in my estimation. Okay that was from a level so low as to be almost subterranean, but, hey, I’ll take my reasons to be cheerful where I can get them these days.

  8. heresy101

    San Francisco crowing about collecting 80% of the food waste is a joke. They are collecting all this green waste and trucking it 30-40 miles where it is composted in long rows where great compost is made and sold to the vineyards, but ALL the methane is released into the atmosphere!! Even if you don’t believe in global warming, you can agree that this is a STUPID waste of resources.

    In NY, generating gas for sale is not the most efficient use of the food and organic waste. It would be better to use the gas straight from the digesters and pipe it to large reciprocating engines to generate electricity. 24 cylinder (36′ long) Kawasaki and Warsila engines are 50% efficient and can run on biogas. If they are situated near where the waste heat can be utilized, the combined heat and power can be up to 80-90% efficient. A lot of the older buildings with boilers and radiators could probably use the hot water directly. Someone in NY should look into this because they are probably not hung up on the political correctness of composting like SF.

  9. JCC

    Wage Theft doesn’t just occur in the Fast Food Industry. I know many who experience it weekly in upper-level IT positions or in mfg. environments, especially in the contractor world. If the Company does admit a “mistake”, it can take months, if not years, to get the back pay or “comp time”… even as little as a couple of hours worth.

  10. Jackrabbit

    Do We Really Need to Restart The Cold War -Washington’s Blog

    Talks about US military seeking ‘first strike’ advantage.

    @Banger The continuing effort to seek such an advantage doesn’t seem to mesh with your opinion that the Deep State isn’t interested in conflict with Russia and acts as a check on ‘the crazys’.

    1. Jagger

      My understanding is that you cannot guarantee the destuction of ballistic missile submarines at sea. Any nation with submarine nuclear missile capability, such as Russia, US and recently Israel, will always have a retaliatory nuclear strike capability which will absolutely obliterate any country. (IMO, absolute insanity to give the Israelis subs with nuclear missile capabililty)

      I was really surprised the article dismissed nuclear ballistic missile subs as a credible retaliatory nuclear capability vs a first strike. Just didn’t make sense to me. Of course, the story wouldn’t make sense unless you did dismiss them.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Good point. I don’t know much about sub detection technology. I imagine that both sides are constantly trying to improve in this area. What is the range of sub-launched missiles? Could ABMs be placed offshore to shoot at any missiles fired from offshore waters? The US also has efforts to shoot down missiles from space.

        I think there’s a distinction between intent and capability. The article makes the case that the US seems intent upon a ‘first strike’ capability. That makes obtaining access to countries around Russia important – to place ABMs there.

        Note: I think the info about military budgets is very misleading. Isn’t personnel expenses a big part of the budget? I expect that Russian and Chinese military personnel get paid MUCH less that the US and Europeans. Without taking into account relative cost structures, a spending comparison makes it seem like the Russian and Chinese military are much less capable than they are (and likewise, makes the US seem much more dominant).

      2. Peter Pan

        Well, at least he did assert that the US ABM system is incapable of knocking out Russian ICBM’s (or more correctly their ballistic velocity and highly maneuverable re-entry vehicles). The US ABM system is just a boondoggle for defense contractors that completely hoses the US taxpayers.

        But then Obama asserts that Russia is just a regional power, never mind their capability of making the rubble jump in the USA or that Obama felt the need to sign another nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. I’d say that makes them an international power but not an excuse for another cold war.

        I did have a laugh about US troops stationed in Belarus, Moldova and Kazakhstan. These are at best five men advisory teams (Moldova) and/or the standard practice of having marines guarding US embassies. That was a bit over the top.

      3. Jason Ipswitch

        Unfortunately for MAD, the Russian SSBN fleet is in rather sorry shape at present. They have one operational Borei-class sub (with two more undergoing trials) and one operational Typhoon (the rest have been decomissioned), both armed with new SLMBs that have experienced a number of problems. I believe the Russian nuclear-capable bomber fleet is in similar (although not quite so dire) situation.

        If the United States wants to “win” a nuclear war with Russia, now is the time.

        1. Peter Pan

          Well, it would certainly reset the current climate change problem into a new climate change problem. “Winning” is not an option.

          I understand that hallucinogenic drugs in conjunction with therapy helps with PTSD.

          1. James Levy

            They’ve done the modeling: 300 or so (perhaps 330) ground-burst US nukes digging the Russian ICBMs out of their silos (and the concomitant forest fires) would generate a nuclear winter in the northern hemisphere. There is no neat trick around this fact. Any full-scale counterforce strike would be suicidal. The US might be able to destroy China’s missile force on the ground, but Russia’s is way too numerous and extensive to destroy without wrecking the US.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          Are You Ready For Nuclear War?
          — Paul Craig Roberts

          “Pay close attention to Steven Starr’s
          guest column, “The Lethality of Nuclear
          Weapons.” Washington
          thinks nuclear war can be won and is
          planning for a first strike on Russia, and
          perhaps China, in order to prevent any
          challenge to Washington’s world

          “The plan is far advanced, and the
          implementation of the plan is underway.
          As I have reported previously, US
          strategic doctrine was changed and the
          role of nuclear missiles was elevated
          from a retaliatory role to an offensive first
          strike role. US anti-ballistic missile (ABM)
          bases have been established in Poland
          on Russia’s frontier, and other bases are
          planned. When completed Russia will be
          ringed with US missile bases.”

          Utter madness — the USA is an asylum run by the criminally insane.

    2. Banger

      Certainly there are factions that want a nuclear war. If you read accounts of the Cuban Missile Crisis you find out that a good chunk of the military wanted to not even bother negotiating with the Russians but launch an immediate attack. So far those that, in my view, hold the balance of power believe that it would all be very bad for business and a few also believe it would be immoral. My guess is that the Eurocrats have agreed to be more compliant to U.S. “Interests” in exchange for no nuclear fallout on their heads–or at least that’s probably a component in all this.

      The article is scary though and I believe accurate.

    3. ChuckO

      It is impossible to win a nuclear war. Even if it were possible to launch a preemptive attack on Russia and destroy her ability to retaliate, the resulting fallout and nuclear winter would devastate the rest of the world. It’s frightening that there are those in powerful positions in the US who actually believe such a war is winnable.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Who Is Behind the National Right to Work Committee and Its Anti-Union Crusade? TruthOut

    If you didn’t know it already, it’s the usual suspects–Koch bros., ALEC, Cato, Scott Walker, Rand Paul etc.

    It goes without saying–if the middle class is ever to be revived, labor must reclaim the power to demand and receive its rightful share of American production.

    I am not persuaded, however, that relentlessly and vigorously defending public sector unions is the right means to achieving that end. While I wholeheartedly support and demand the rights of fast food and home “healthcare” workers to organize, the “law-enforcement” unions are a different animal entirely.

    I’d like to see THAT union nuked until it glows.

    The idea that “peace” officers can spend 20 or 30 years cracking peaceful protesters’ heads, (protesters just trying to get the same workplace protections and benefits that those very “peace” officers enjoy,) or tossing grenades into the cribs of sleeping babies while executing “no-knock” warrants, or shooting and killing any number of unarmed innocents for no reason with impunity, and then retire with 6-figure pensions and benefits, paid for by the very people that they have serially abused is REPULSIVE. It makes me want to puke.

    My father was a “union man” until the day he died, even though the union brass never delivered his promised pension. He made me a believer. But…..

    There is no doubt that “labor,” in all its modern forms, deserves the voice, power and economic share that it is currently denied. I don’t believe, however, that defending the increasingly parasitic “public” unions, in their current territorial iterations, is the way to get it for them.

    1. cwaltz

      I think most of the unions today are a mixed bag. They’ve kind of done what is happening to them to themselves. I’ve seen them sell their own people on getting less and less because “they have to give the company something.” It’s even worse for the people who haven’t even become members yet because lots of times they’ll let companies pay out a lump sum to present employees to get out of paying future employees the same benefits. Of course, in those instances what happens is Joe Present Employee votes self interest and that means Joe Future Employee is paying more money for less from the organization that represents him and the guy who has been there for 15 years.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The greatest propaganda of the 20th century was the Manichean division of the world into a struggle (staged, it turned out…all make believe) between

        Big Government vs Big Business.

        Each side: If you are not with us, you are against us.

        All along, the Little People were told they were nothing and couldn’t do nothing.

        According to the Hindus, it’s all Maya.

        When we wake up from this Maya, we, the LIttle People, know we are the source of all power in the republic and Money Creation Via the Little People Spending It Into Existence is a simple reflection of the power of the Little People.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Money creation via the Little People spending it into existence bypasses the partiality of more government and more government/public union workers, and puts money directly to in the hands of the people, all of the people, whether in private or public sector.

      In contrast, money creation via the government spending it into existence favors government/public union workers and which ever private sector contractors so favored by the government, so money can trickle down to the rest of the not-favored private sector.

      More trickle down, if you like that sort of thing.

  12. fresno dan
    Geithner watch – target rich environment…

    “For as I read the book, and compared the book with what was written at the time and what was written afterwards, I noticed something odd, and perhaps too bold to say in polite company. As much as I really wanted to hear what Geithner had to say, I quickly realized that I wasn’t getting his actual side of the story. The book is full of narratives, facts, and statements that are, well, untrue, or at the very least, highly misleading. Despite its length, there are also serious omissions that suggest an intention to mislead, as well as misrepresentations of his critics’ arguments. As I went further into Geithner’s narrative, even back into his college days, I got the sense that I was seeing only a brilliantly scrubbed surface, that there were nooks and crannies hidden away. It struck me that I was reading the memoirs of an incredibly savvy and well-bred grifter, the kind that the American WASP establishment of financiers, foundation officials, and spies produces in such rich abundance. I realize this is a bold claim, because it’s an indictment not just of Geithner but also of those who worked for him at Treasury and at the Federal Reserve, as well as indictment of the Clinton-era finance team of Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Michael Barr, Jason Furman, and other accomplices”
    “Geithner also addresses his critics, motivated by what he derisively calls “Old Testament justice.” It may be morally righteous to hang the bankers, he argues, but it’s irresponsible to do this at the cost of allowing a crisis to destroy the lives of millions. He tells an anecdote in the book, about how Bill Clinton pulled him aside and said that he could knife Goldman Sachs’s CEO in a back alley and the populists would be satisfied only for a day.”
    Davos man speaks….those rubes won’t be satisfied with prosecuting the guilty, so we won’t bother….

    “In 2009, Johnson published his essential argument about the US bailouts in an article titled “The Quiet Coup.” Johnson’s argument was political—he portrayed Geithner’s strategy as fundamentally entrenching a political oligarchy. That article put forward the theory that through the bailouts, America’s democratic system was being replaced by rule by financial titans. Geithner has never acknowledged that power was involved in the bailouts; those with power are loath to admit it exists. Critics of Geithner come as close as possible to calling him personally corrupt and have even marshaled the evidence that his cronies did fantastically well.”

    “The second problem with Geithner’s argument is that the reform bill passed in the aftermath, the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law, is inconsistent with the wall of money theory. In the book, Geithner argues that Treasury lacked the legal ability to deal with large failing banks, to put them in a sort of bankruptcy process. Dodd-Frank provides those tools. However, according to Geithner’s wall of money, this doesn’t matter. Either you provide the assurance and everyone gets paid off, or it’s a collapse. If that’s true, why pass Dodd-Frank? Geithner wants it both ways”

    That’s UNFAIR! Geithner wants the ILLUSION of laws. None of them get enforced, so it doesn’t matter what Dodd-Frank says, just like it didn’t matter what Sarbanes-Oxley said…or all the laws about fiduciary responsibility, fraud, conspiracy, robosigning, etc., etc.

  13. Cynthia

    Re: “Medical Breakthrough: Low Dosage ‘Piketty’ Prevents ‘FT’ Fits ”

    I have yet to read Piketty’s book, but even a simple look at anecdotal evidence in today’s society amply supports Piketty’s observation of growing inequality in today’s America.

    All of the high end retailers cannot keep up with demand, but the middle class retailers, such as Sears and JC Penney are struggling to stay afloat, and even Wal-Mart, the low cost retailer for the low income has seen its cash flow declining, as fewer people can afford to buy more than the bare necessities.

    The fact is there is more than enough evidence to support Piketty than there is to support some hack from the FT, whose job it is to ensure, not only that the wealth stays in the hands of the truly wealthy, but also the system that allows for this parasitic growth in income inequality remains in place.

  14. Carolinian

    A Counterpunch article that is mostly a restatement of what is known but this tidbit was new to me. Note the rogue’s gallery in attendance.

    It Was All Planned at Yalta

    In September 2013, one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, Viktor Pinchuk, paid for an elite strategic conference on Ukraine’s future that was held in the same Palace in Yalta, Crimea, where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met to decide the future of Europe in 1945. The Economist, one of the elite media reporting on what it called a “display of fierce diplomacy”, stated that: “The future of Ukraine, a country of 48m people, and of Europe was being decided in real time.” The participants included Bill and Hillary Clinton, former CIA head General David Petraeus, former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, former World Bank head Robert Zoellick, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, Shimon Peres, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Mario Monti, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite, and Poland’s influential foreign minister Radek Sikorski. Both President Viktor Yanukovych, deposed five months later, and his recently elected successor Petro Poroshenko were present. Former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson was there to talk about the shale-gas revolution which the United States hopes to use to weaken Russia by substituting fracking for Russia’s natural gas reserves. The center of discussion was the “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement” (DCFTA) between Ukraine and the European Union, and the prospect of Ukraine’s integration with the West. The general tone was euphoria over the prospect of breaking Ukraine’s ties with Russia in favor of the West.

    Conspiracy against Russia? Not at all. Unlike Bilderberg, the proceedings were not secret. Facing a dozen or so American VIPs and a large sampling of the European political elite was a Putin adviser named Sergei Glazyev, who made Russia’s position perfectly clear.

  15. EmilianoZ

    Re: London air pollution

    I was in Paris this spring. The air pollution was horrendous. The authorities even had to limit the traffic. On certain days only cars with a license plate containing an odd or even number were allowed on the road. I thought air pollution was a French thing but now realize it’s a European problem. Diesel is an absolute abomination.

    I think the problem might be compounded by the crazy prices of housing in Paris. I know some people born and raised in Paris who had to move out to the suburbs. But they still work in Paris so they use their diesel cars to commute.

    The media try to convince the French that their pollution is better than China’s because the particles are larger or smaller (I dont remember which).

    1. optimader

      The media try to convince the French that their pollution is better than China’s because the particles are “..larger or smaller (I dont remember which)…”

      Small=worstest.. look up PM2.5 and finer
      The diesel soot from the old days, think material service truck accelerating from a stoplight up a hill 5-10 years ago.

  16. scamsensor

    There was a great Ted Baxter line on the old Mary Tyler Moore show. Ted has the inspiration of hiring Idi Amin as the station’s African correspondent, and he says: “We can call up Idi and ask how things are going in Africa — and she’ll tell us!” What brought this to mind is the NSA’s (and the US Government’s) apparent strategy on surveillance: “Gather all information on everybody all the time everywhere — and then filter it!” I’m not suggesting that the two problems, of news ratings and government intelligence, are analogous. Rather, just compare the relative level of sophistication of the two algorithms.

  17. a pyramid of Democratic skulls

    Yeah, Medicaid enrollment is a huge victory for Democratic Party scumbags. Democrats laid the trap in 1993 with OBRA by mandating “estate recovery” of health care costs from the most excluded part of the population – poor people with no estate to speak of. Seemed silly at the time.

    Then Obama Democrats sprung the trap with the ACA by imposing unlimited health-care liability on all the people who can least afford it. It’s illegal age discrimination and illegal discrimination based on economic status, but very clever. They’re targeting people who saved just enough to live on, people who can’t buy a politician, so it’s safe to screw them.

    Now, thanks to Democrats, each state’s biggest hospital has a collection unit that decides if your survivor can live in your house when you die. They decide if your survivor can buy food with your IRA. Try to find out what the rules are, you can’t. The states keep them secret. They lie when they push you into the program. Estate recovery units impose unlimited debt on you for ‘health care,’ based on corrupt and arbitrary negotiations with the health care industry they work for. Democrats are asset-stripping Grandma now.

    This is the most effective austerity measure ever devised. What Democrats have brought you is Greece, old ladies eating out of garbage cans. But it looks like the dwindling ranks of voters are too stupid to make Democrats pay. By the time they understand how they’ve been betrayed, it will be too late.

  18. EmilianoZ

    Re: BNP vs US

    I wonder if the issue is gonna be used as a bargaining chip in some unrelated dispute between France and the US. Obama has been pressuring France not to deliver some military vessel to Russia:

    Curiously, at the same time, there has been some noise that there might be some kinda loophole (asile constitutionnel) permitting France to grant asylum to Snowden despite his not being on French soil to do the application:

    France will never dare do something like that. I suspect they’re just making some noise in view of the negotiations.

  19. OIFVet

    From Saker: “… there is a gradual coalescing of anger and determination taking place on all levels of the Russian society which will eventually result in a Russian military intervention against the Ukrainian death squads in Novorossia… My sense is that Poroshenko or, more accurately his puppet-masters in Washington, have just a few days left to stop the so-called “anti terrorist operation.””

    Let’s hope that all parties will come to their senses and none of this will come to pass. Kiev’s escalation of force over the past week and reports of possible war crimes (mostly unconfirmed as far as I am concerned) seems to be calculated to elicit precisely this outcome. Which is sheer madness, but then this whole fiasco has been madness from the beginning. I can understand the neocons’ twisted rationale, but not the junta’s willingness to go along with it.

    1. VietnamVet

      Yes, with Right Sector killing civilians and wounded soldiers, and Ukrainian artillery and aerial bombardment of the cities in the Eastern Provinces; I agree, that Vladimir Putin at some point will be forced to stop the massacre going on next door. What is really frightening is that the Western leaders could say right now “We won. We’ve freed Western Ukraine, and made a peaceful settlement”. No. They are purposely allowing the Nazi killing rampage to continue. Propaganda does not matter. The blood of the dead in Eastern Ukraine is on their hands.

      As discussed above, the only purpose to extending the carnage has to be to egg on Russia to invade and justify the nuclear first strike of Russia. This is flat out crazy and will kill us all.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Russian anger and determination are a predictable, humane response to deliberate criminal provocations by the US puppet regime in Kiev, undoubtedly heavily coerced (with IMF/NATO thumbscrews) into aggressive military brutal military assaults on its own citizens in the east. And Saker has posted some compelling links, and these (allegedly) US-orchestrated massacres certainly appear to be correlated with Obama’s relentless, hypocritical charges of Russian aggression — absent a shred of credible evidence. Yet while Obama debases himself as a pathetic embarrassment, Putin proves an exceptional statesman and chessman who steadfastly refuses to be baited.

      Putin is alleged to have once said, “Negotiating with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, shits on the board and then struts around like it won the game” — a truly prophetic window into Obama’s bumbling farce in Ukraine. It’s rather tragic that the once vaunted orator and bold champion of transformative hope and change, a messiah to many, has finally shrunken and shrivelled into this hollow spectacle, “a walking shadow, a poor player [who] struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: [his] is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” How ironic that this naked emperor should herald the liquidation of empire.

    1. craazyboy

      Holy Crap. Now we’re gonna have cyborg babies! That’s how Battlestar Galactica got started.

  20. Elliot

    re: your ice cream is about to get weirder

    Vanillin in use in the US is synthetic already, albeit not via this process. If real vanilla is all you care about, look for vanilla on the label, and avoid vanillin. Buy your own vanilla beans, and make your own vanilla (it’s a revelation!).

    As to the broader concerns, I think the impact on farmers and the natural flavorings/fragrances industry looks to be more staggering.

    There is a fast moving play by the synthetic fragrances & flavors industries to basically kill off the naturals (much easier to corner the market if you don’t need to worry about plantations and far flung distillers) which is aided and abetted by spreading fear about allergens; moves in the EU to ban more and more natural compounds in favor of synthetics… pushed by the houses that make the synthetics.. are already crippling production and driving small producers out of business. Getting naturals declared unsafe, and getting health regulators to ban them and require synthetics if you want fragrance (shampoo, soap, conditioner, perfume, lotion, detergent, fabric softener…) or flavor is a multi-million, if not multi-billion- EU scheme. And I am sooo not surprised to see Venter in this.

    1. Tom W Harris

      He was known as a tough guy in DC, but here in Chicagoland he’s known as The Ballerina.

      1. OIFVet

        AKA ‘Tiny Dancer’ and ‘Mayor 1%.’ Every 6 months my property tax bill arrives and I have the chance to see how much more of my money will go to various TIFs to subsidize the Penny Pritzkers rather than to fund my neighborhood public schools. Then, as I slalom around the giant potholes on Garfield Boulevard that have dotted the approach to the Dan Ryan on-ramp for at least three years, I shed a wistful tear for Richie Daley’s old-fashioned corruption and apologize for all the bad things I ever said about him.

  21. Roland

    In a globally integrated liberal economy, Canada’s natural competitive advantage is in the export of energy and raw materials.

    Canadian elites decided to follow the globalist liberal route, reversing the more balanced national approach which had characterized policy in the past. Since 1988, the country has become steadily more dependent on exports, and among those exports, more and more dependent on primary products.

    Today, thanks to the liberal globalist policies of Canada’s elites, Canada is now more dependent on raw material exports than at any point since the Canadian federation was formed in 1867. Moreover, those exports more and more consist of non-renewables.

    History documents few instances of a country’s ruling elite openly and deliberately de-developing the economy of a modern state. Since the current Canadian government is drawn from the faction of Canada’s elite which draws support from the energy-exporting provinces, it is not surprising that Harper pursues the Canadian globalist liberal agenda with particular zeal.

    But no government in Canada will be able to stop expanding Tar Sands exports. The country’s economy is too badly hollowed-out by now. We can’t stop exporting fossil fuels any more than Norway can, and our main remaining fossil fuel supply is heavy crude. You can thank globalist liberal capitalists and their so-called “Utilitarian” doctrines for this state of affairs.

    It is very interesting to watch a First World country deliberately de-developing itself under its own national elite.

    Unfortunately, I happen to live in Canada. Once the housing bubble here starts to correct, it might be worse than what happened in the USA. You can say bye-bye to our public health and pension systems.

  22. Roland

    @Jagger, Peter Pan

    Re: First-strike, SLBM and BMD

    1. Submarine tracking today is quite good, the more so since Russia’s missile sub fleet is mostly old and considerably smaller than it was during the Cold War. Even in the 1980’s the USSR felt obliged to keep most of its missile sub fleet within home waters to help protect it against possible NATO preventive attack. Every USSR missile sub that operated outside of home waters during the 1980’s was continuously shadowed by NATO hunter-killer subs and surface forces, such that it was less than 50/50 that they would get a chance to launch their weapons. Today, the old Soviet missiles subs’ degree of vulnerability is worse. SLBM second-strike capability offered excellent deterrence in the 1970’s, and adequate deterrence in the 1980’s. Today? Iffy.

    2. The USA’s various Ballistic Missile Defense systems have never been intended to serve as a passive defense against an opposing first strike by a major power. The BMD have always been intended as defenses against the retaliation strike of either a minor nuclear power, or a major power opponent already crippled by a US first strike. BMD really protects against second-strike, not against first strike. Naturally, US politicians don’t like to discuss the strategy of BMD. Note that BMD has enjoyed comprehensive bipartisan support and continuous funding now for over 30 years, which should give you an indication of its importance in the eyes of high-level decision-makers in that country. US leaders would rather have the programme ridiculed for decades on end, rather than explain the actual strategic value of the systems. BMD has always been intended to serve as an enabler of US first strike, and to thus afford the US the holy grail of strategic nuclear superiority.

    3. Strategic nuclear superiority would give the USA “escalation dominance” in any world confrontation, i.e. an opponent will be discouraged from trying to fully respond to a US aggression since they would know that at every higher level of conflict, they will still lose much more than the USA.

    4. In the 1970’s, a first-strike could be expected to eliminate about 80% of the opposing forces before they got a chance to launch. Since most of what was launched would be expected to malfunction or miss, that was why the superpowers wanted to build strategic arsenals which could destroy the enemy at least ten times over. That insuperable margin of retaliatory counter-value capability was what made “assured-destruction” the safer and more stable strategic defensive posture.

    5. The recent trends in technology, along with the overall shrinkage of arsenals, have tended to favour the nuclear first-striker. Russia’s early-warning systems are also largely out of date, although they’re struggling to upgrade. Nevertheless, Russia’s vulnerbility to a US first strike is bad enough nowadays that they might have to do something that was often discussed but seldom practiced during the Cold War: they might have to adopt a posture of “launch on warning.” During most of the 1970’s and ’80’s, neither superpower did this. They preferred to rely on assured-destruction deterrence from a “second-strike posture,” i.e. let the enemy attack first, and then retaliate, trusting in the sheer size of your arsenal that you’ll have plenty left over after the enemy have done their best. “Launch on warning” is a lot less stable, but an inferior nuclear power facing a real first-strike threat might rationally adopt that posture.

    6. The other thing Russia might have to do is what the USSR relied upon in the 1950’s: if you can’t credibly retaliate against the enemy, then threaten the enemy’s allies and trading partners, to ensure that they know their world will be a much worse place if they attack you. In the 1950’s Russia could only mount token threats to the USA–a slim hope that one or two long-range bombers might make it through to their target, and the no less slim chance that they might have time to fill an early ICBM with its liquid fuel and that it would successfully fly to target. During the 1950’s Russia’s real nuclear deterrence lay in threatening targets in Europe and Japan. Only once Russia’s arsenal grew larger and with the introduction of underwater-launch SLBM’s and the solid-fuel MIRV’d heavy ICBM’s in the 1970’s could the Russians start to feel some confidence in their national nuclear deterrence. But by then their country and their people were getting impoverished by the effort involved.

    1. James Levy

      If you go back and read this, please know that I wrote a graduate-school paper on the history of nuclear strategies and you could not have said it better. Well done.

  23. Roland

    @Chuck O,

    1. The Chernobyl disaster released much more radiation, and of longer-lived isotopes, than would be expected in a limited nuclear war. Chernobyl’s long-term effects have been mostly local, and from the perspective of a warlord, the losses from contamination have been quite cheap. The bright little boys and girls at the Pentagon have not been slow in taking that lesson to heart. By 1996 interest in nuclear “war-fighting” approaches was reviving in USAF circles. In the 2002 defense doctrine (which famously stated, “permit no peer competitor”) first strike became official strategy.

    2. Bear in mind that due to the accuracy of today’s weapons, the yield of nuclear weapons has gotten steadily smaller. Today’s first strike won’t be conducted with the multi-megaton monsters of the 1960’s, or even the 300 kT stuff typical in the 1980’s. We’re talking 20 – 50 kT employed in a US-launched counter-force first strike. That means global environmental impact might not loom very large in the calculations of today’s nuclear first-striker.

    I don’t write this sort of thing because I am fond of the idea of the US hegemonists using aggressive warfare to ensure that their world-system enjoys absolute supremacy. I write this because leftists need to understand some of the potential military rationale behind the power-political behaviour of the US bourgeoisie. It is no accident that all factions of the US bourgeoisie have become steadily more aggressive in their policy and conduct since the mid-1990’s.

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