Links 7/4/14

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Animals in the News Atlantic (furzy mouse)

‘Vampire’ squirrel has world’s fluffiest tail Science (Nikki)

“Caribbean could lose its coral reefs within 20 years” DailyMail (John B) :-(

Using happiness scales to inform policy: Strong words of caution VoxEU

Some people would rather be electrically shocked than left alone with their thoughts Science (Nikki)

Crowdfunded Tesla tower project seeks to recreate inventor’s wireless energy transmission system Treehugger. Lambert: “It would be nice if this weren’t a scam.”

Biggest Risk to China’s Economy? Look to the Shadows, Bankers Say WSJ ChinaRealTime

After Relative Silence on Hong Kong Protests, Mainland Media Outlets Note Arrests New York Times

Siamese dreams in the time of the junta Asia Pacific

Amazon embroiled in EU tax crackdown Financial Times

German Manufacturing Orders Decline on Geopolitical Risks Bloomberg

IMF warns of negative spiral in France as recession looms again Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Syria’s chemicals: A potential great danger for Mediterranean failed evolution

Argentina bond investors challenge long arm of US law Financial Times


The JCS wants a reinforced brigade in Baghdad Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Obama’s Blueprint for Fighting Terrorism Collides With Reality in Iraq New York Times

The war for Iraq Economist

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

If you read Boing Boing, the NSA considers you a target for deep surveillance BoingBoing. Confirms something I warned readers about repeatedly: if you use Tor, you are waving a big red flag at the NSA to take interest in you. But since reading BoingBoing has that effect too, all of you are probably in the NSA’s crosshairs anyhow. More at ​XKeyscore exposed: How NSA tracks all German Tor users as ‘extremists‘ RT (Nikki)

NSA targets the privacy-conscious (Seite 4) Das Erste Panorama

Privacy group files Facebook complaint Financial Times

Goldman Sachs Demanding E-Mail Be Deleted Bruce Schneier

Another Shareholder Performance: Microsoft’s Gestures of Transparency Counterpunch

Google hit by 70,000 ‘right to be forgotten’ requests France24 (Nikki)

Google wants us to forget about its near-total monopoly over what we know Mark Ames, Pando

F-35 fighter jets to be inspected after major engine fire in U.S. CBC

Obama Takes Aim at the Heart of Wall Street: Bonuses Bloomberg. Wow, the Dems must really be desperate. Obama had his chance to have his way with the financial services industry when he took office. That window shut long ago. This is just noise for the rubes.

If You Support Democracy You Are Urged to Boycott Maryland’s Eastern Shore This Summer Firedoglake (Chuck L)

How a Fracking Company Tried to Buy Pennsylvania Residents’ Approval For $50,000 EcoWatch

Jobs Reports

Reading the Jobs Report’s Tea Leaves Mohamed El-Erian, Bloomberg

A Boffo Jobs Report, but Questions Linger John Cassidy, New Yorker

June Employment Report Tim Duy

June Full-Time Jobs Plunge By Over Half A Million, Part-Time Jobs Surge By 800K, Most Since 1993 ZeroHedge

Class Warfare

Perverting Piketty Pieria. I’ve read enough careful treatments that take issue with some of the points made here that I am not sure that the claim that Piketty was misunderstood or misrepresented on these issues is entirely correct. Rather, in a 700 page book, it seems more likely that Piketty was either ambiguous or inconsistent on some of these topics

“Them That’s Got Are Them That Gets”: Piketty’s Lessons for Activists Labor Notes

“How the South is becoming a solid band of poverty” Daily Mail (John B).

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

LInks yellow frog

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Ned Ludd

    These results are not “startling”:

    For 15 minutes, the team left participants alone in a lab room in which they could push a button and shock themselves if they wanted to. The results were startling: Even though all participants had previously stated that they would pay money to avoid being shocked with electricity, 67% of men and 25% of women chose to inflict it on themselves rather than just sit there quietly and think, the team reports online today in Science.

    I would expect any scientist, or any curious person, to press the button. See this classic xkcd comic. Also, “Stimpy & The Button”.

    1. craazyman

      another triumph for science. the stream of discoveries amaze and confound the imagination.

      you wouldn’t want somebody to pick your nose but people pick their own without a 2nd thought.

      there must be an equation for this, maybe something like p > n. let an economist go at it and we’ll figure it out

      1. trish

        “another triumph for science.”

        That’s great. perfect. someone in comments can always make me laugh.

      2. skippy

        He giveth and he taketh away… eh.

        Revealing sparks: John Wesley and the
        religious utility of electrical healing


        In the eighteenth century, dramatic electrical performances were favorite
        entertainments for the upper classes, yet the therapeutic uses of electricity also reached
        the lower strata of society. This change in the social composition of electrical audiences
        attracted the attention of John Wesley, who became interested in the subject in the late 1740s.
        The paper analyses Wesley’s involvement in the medical applications of electricity by taking
        into account his theological views and his proselytizing strategies. It sets his advocacy of
        medical electricity in the context of his philanthropic endeavors aimed at the sick poor,
        connecting them to his attempts to spread Methodism especially among the lower classes. It is
        argued that the healing virtues of electricity entailed a revision of the morality of electrical
        experiment which made electric sparks powerful resources for the popularization of the
        Methodist way of life, based on discipline, obedience to established authorities and love and
        fear of God

        Skippy…. snort…. the button compels…

        1. Paul Niemi

          Amazing. Now we can suppose that Yale’s Stanley Milgram got the idea for his famous experiments from John Wesley. Me, I tend to think that Milgram’s work proved that all the best psychological experiments involve hooking subjects up to wires, and the tradition continues to this day.

          1. Gerard Pierce

            Actually, after the shock experiments, a group of academics reviewed the effects on the “subjects” – the guys who pushed the button believing they were shocking the other person. The academics decided that there could be a negative effect because the experiments demonstrated to the shockers what they were really like and it might hurt their little feelings to have it demonstrated.

            The “tradition” halted right there and no one ever performed the experiments that might explain why modern day Americans were so easily induced to support water-boarding and torture.

            1. Paul Niemi

              Well, I used “subjects” because that can refer to humans or animals. The subjects in Milgram’s experiments all believed they were applying a noxious stimuli as a punishment, a positive punishment intended to condition the learning response of the students who were hooked up in the chamber. Now we have the above study, where the subjects appeared perfectly willing to shock themselves, fully knowing that it would be painful. I would conjecture that they interpreted the act of pushing the button to receive a shock as a punishment too, but for what I ask you? What lays behind this ostensive need for punishment? A latent guilt, perhaps? Or is there an alternate interpretation? Intriguing questions, indeed.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                My guess is the brain fears being cut off from receiving requests from the rest of the body to process information…like a general fears being cut off from his soldiers.

                That hurts the brain.

                In comparison, the shock, painful as it might be, is preferred. Here, something is better than nothing.

                For a Zen monk, nothing is better than something.

                Thus, a Zen monk is probably (my guess) less likely to press that button.

                So, when the state (totalitarian) puts a Zen master in prison, he or she goes, ‘Great. Lots of time for zazen. Hopefully, they have vegetarian meals.’

                This contrast with the Modern Man, who, walking among other people, along the beach, for example, would panic without his earphones and music in tow. He fears silence, even when he is not alone.

                I would also add that, while anyone is capable of locking himself in a bathroom, even without a gentleman’s girlie magazine, (daydreaming), he does not like being told or forced into a bathroom (told to think).

                1. Paul Niemi

                  I really like your explanation. I happen to love amateur psychology. The opportunities for playful, humorous BS are just endless. And professionals often take themselves oh so seriously. I’m sitting at home four weeks after having had a total hip replacement, and I don’t go back to work for four more weeks. Not much to do but snack, nap, read, and check in at the computer. Lately these NC blogs have been really enjoyable. There is a great crowd here.

              2. Ned Ludd

                People sign up to be guinea pigs because they need the money. They are treated with either indifference or contempt by the researchers. They are lied to (especially in psychology experiments) and ordered around.

                You are stuck in a lab room, entertaining a bunch of obnoxious researchers because you need the money. You have nothing to do and nothing to look at. Even listening to music or spending the time outside, sitting quietly under a nice blue sky, is verboten. The researchers make the experiment as unpleasant as possible. You are left with just a button and told that something bad will happen – an electric shock – if you press it.

                Instead of wondering about the inner lives of the subjects, we should question the purpose of the researchers and their experiment.

      3. craazyman

        I heard they ran the experiment again, but instead of the empty room they left copies of articles randomly selected from academic economics journals.

        Oddly, 79% of men and 46% of women shocked themselves rather than relax with the supplied reading material — a significant increase over the control group across all articles,

        A second group was allowed access to the iinternet and Youtube music videos. The shock percentage fell to near zero for both sexes.

        Strange how science works!

    2. trish

      I’m a very curious person, but I’ve had enough brief but unpleasant experiences of accidental shock as a child via an electric fence at my grandmother’s farm to know that I hate the feeling of shocks and thus would have absolutely no desire to press the button. Much prefer to quietly think.

      I would be hesitant to describe the preference to being shocked over thinking quietly as curiosity in most participants.
      those kinds of studies are limited. But can’t miss that everywhere and anywhere people are glued to their gadgets.

      1. Ned Ludd

        When our fence first went up, my uncle talked me into grabbing it, claiming it was just a tickle – my uncle and his sense of humor. However, after that point, I was not afraid to work around or cross through the wires of the fence. I think it was helpful that my first shock was on purpose, instead of by accident.

        1. trish

          I was told as a kid by one somewhat mean-spirited uncle that my grandfather used his brother (another uncle, one with emotional difficulties), to test the fence after clearing in the spring to see if ample enough shock. Rather disturbing possibility. Never found out if true. Grandfather jumped into frigid lake Ontario one night after many struggles with illness, alcoholism a few years before, and didn’t dare ask the uncle.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if Benjamin Franklin was going for the shock as well, flying his kite…couldn’t just sit quitely in his room.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Exactly. The whole point of this research is that we should “steer our thoughts in a pleasant direction”, spending our time lost in “fantasies and stories”. Anyone who did not heed the warning of the people running the experiment – and decided to instead exercise their agency and press the button – are pathologized.

        Gosh, who might be helped by a more docile populace that trusts authority?

        1. David Lentini

          From the article:

          “I’m really excited to see this paper,” says Matthew Killingsworth, a psychologist at the University of California (UC), San Francisco, who says his own work has turned up a similar result. “When people are spending time inside their heads, they’re markedly less happy.”

          Sound like the opposite—People who seek solitude are the freaks. I wonder if Facebook sponsored this research?

            1. OIFVet

              The tyranny of non-introverts really drains my energy. They are energy vampires to us introverts, and when they don’t have us to suck energy out of, they have to shock themselves in order to charge up. Who are the freaks, really?

          1. Ned Ludd

            The researchers thought that people would (and should) enjoy sitting quietly, focusing on their pleasant memories and constructing fantasies and stories – while home alone or in a lab room. Instead, people preferred reading and listening to music.

            Overall, the subjects said they enjoyed activities like reading and listening to music about twice as much as just thinking. […]

            “We went into this thinking it wouldn’t be that hard for people to entertain themselves,” Wilson says. “We have this huge brain and it’s stuffed full of pleasant memories, and we have the ability to construct fantasies and stories. We really thought this [thinking time] was something people would like.”

            Being in a silent room – without music – is not a pleasant place to daydream or self-reflect. One of the researchers even admits: “the pressure to think on command—whether it’s being demanded by researchers, or while you’re waiting in line with nothing else to do—may be what’s difficult and unpleasant for so many.”

            The researchers appear to be looking for a way to get people more comfortable with the isolation of modern society. Let people lay quietly in a park or under a canopy of trees; that would be pleasant since they would not be isolated and alone.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              They want, I think,

              1. people to get used to isolation
              2. get used to isolation when told, because there will be times when they will be told to do something else, like engaging other subjects (for whatever purpose the authority deems necessary).

              1. OIFVet

                I think that all the experiment shows is just how much we have become addicted to sensory stimuli that are in reality distractions from our thoughts. Even at home the subjects found the experience of thinking unpleasant. Why should that be? If our lives were so great wouldn’t our thoughts be pleasant? To me, the connectedness of modern society masks the deep isolation of so many from it. We are all one click away from virtual communities yet how many of our ‘friends’ do we regularly socialize with in person? I refuse to join any “social” network, and my real life friends think I am a Luddite because their socializing has been reduced to the virtual kind for the most part; their jobs are sucking up the time that in the past would have been used to get together with friends. So the researchers took away the phones and forced people to think. And the lack of phones forced people to realize just how utterly alone they really are, and that is indeed unpleasant. This is what it boils down to me, people are already isolated and the “social” networks are there to prevent them from realizing it, acting as a modern day soma if you will.

                1. Ned Ludd

                  The people who participate in these experiments are usually in need in the money and, consequently, can only afford to live in areas that are not pleasant to live in.

                  Background noises in modern society are unpleasant, so people of means often seek out silent homes, but that too is artificial. Laying quietly in the countryside – looking at the clouds, with the wind rustling the leaves on the trees and the birds singing in the branches – is a lot more conducive to daydreaming that being at home next to a busy six-lane freeway or sitting isolated in a completely silent room in the suburbs.

                  1. OIFVet

                    I don’t think many modern strivers care to daydream or about the sounds of nature. I live in a very quiet residential neighborhood by the University of Chicago, on a tree-lined street leading up to campus a few blocks away. Not much car traffic at any time of the day, most residents work at home or walk/bike to campus. Looking at the people on their way to campus, probably 80% have those annoying i-buds and are walking with their eyes glued to their i-master. Forget about the morning songs of the many cardinals, these people are so focused on their i-crap that they will walk right over you and look annoyed that you weren’t paying attention FOR them. The point is, I do not see many of our contemporaries enjoying or having the ability to enjoy the beautiful sounds of nature, they need their i-noise and i-surfing like a junkie needs crack.

                    1. kareninca

                      I think that the sort of neighborhood you are describing, although nice, is NOTHING like being in nature. I live in a very nice leafy neighborhood, and have no complaints, but it is in no way like being out in the woods. When I visit my parents in rural CT, and go to a state park (which will be deserted, unlike the CA parks near me which are mobbed) it is a completely different aesthetic and psychological experience.

                    2. OIFVet

                      I agree actually, I don’t think I expressed myself very well. I meant that compared to most typical neighborhoods one can hear some of the sound of nature, we do have a lot of songbirds since there is a bird sanctuary on nearby Wooded Island, and not much traffic and other urban sounds. One really can enjoy different bird songs in the morning, I love that feature. Of course it is far from real nature, but about as close as it gets in a big city. What I meant to illustrate was how most people do not care for these sounds in any case, preferring to pipe in the sounds of ‘civilization’ into their ear instead. I really think that we as people have become addicted to distracting stimuli and that to many the beauty of nature’s sounds is very much lost.

                    3. skippy

                      ***i-hole universe*** where everyone is their own – personal sovereign – of their own personal universe. You just have to link to the master server for the palette – “With Palette you can have a tool that is personalized, increasing your experience and productivity. It’s a tactile interface that you can feel without looking, and that excites the senses.”


                      Skippy…. OIFVet do you remember the days or have heard of them, when such devices were like small storage lockers one would carry on shoulder w/pig tail head phones, in the Army? The popular nomenclature was life support systems, sort of like astronauts employed… snicker….

                    4. OIFVet

                      Good lord, someone named this hideous monstrosity “Palette”? Must be some kind of hipster ironic name. As for Army comm devices, not much has changed. The SINCGARS echo model halved the size of the previous model but it remains only slightly lighter than a lead brick and is carried by the comm slave in a ruck, with batteries spread around the squad. And it is still overpriced crap, sometimes one couldn’t communicate with the squad around the corner.

                    5. Paul Niemi

                      I know what you mean, and I remember the neighborhood. Your remarks made me reflect on how in the western tradition we place ourselves as apart from or in dominance of nature, and in the eastern tradition we try to blend in or strive to become one with nature. There is a different approach, and it is of peoples like the Navajo: to try to live in harmony with nature and practice modesty. I admire that way.

            2. Paul Niemi

              Is solitary confinement cruel and unusual punishment? Perhaps that was the aim of the research. It would stand to reason that if people shocked themselves rather than sit in silence, then maybe the answer to the question is yes. And that’s topical, because prisoners spending time in solitary have been on the increase. That said, I believe I can prove to you that sitting quietly in a room without stimulation and relying only on your mind for activity is not only doable, it is easy. Ned, to prove this to you, with your permission I will give you a brain worm. I’ll only do it if you reply and say, “Yes, give it to me.” Then I will reply with the brain worm, and it will run through your mind the rest of the day, demonstrating that your mind will stay occupied without continuous external stimuli. And other readers will be warned. I don’t want to be unnecessarily cursed by others accidentally reading it.

              1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

                Jeez. Yesterday, I had The Who’s ‘Boris the Spider’, of all things, stuck in my head. Haven’t heard it in years, and don’t much care for it, in the first place.

                1. Paul Niemi

                  I’ll give you a clue. The brain worm that goes so well with the quiet room experiment we have been discussing is a song by Simon and Garfunkel.

        2. Gerard Pierce

          For what it’s worth, one of the subjects mentioned in the post-experiment reviews was a young German exchange student. When the experiment was described to her, her immediate response was: “This is wrong and I will not cooperate”. One of Milgram’s reasons for running his experiments was to find out if there was something pathological about the Germans that led to their conduct prior to WWII. One German young woman seems to have learned what people of the United States have forgotten.

          1. susan the other

            The Germans have been doing a lot of soul searching, unlike their recent overlords – witness their forgiveness of the Russians and vice-versa. The USA? Not so much.

        3. hunkerdown

          I remember reading several weeks ago that people who daydream and fantasize are less effective at achieving outcomes. And now we have psychologists trying to encourage vapidity.

          It’s not a conspiracy. It’s a war.

          1. Ned Ludd

            Daydreaming is different than, or at least more nebulous than, fantasizing. I think the research you are referring to was about people who fantasize about accomplishing things; this fantasizing was correlated with a failure to accomplish those goals.

            Daydreaming, in my experience, is more like letting your mind wander and relax, undirected and open, not fixated on any particular thing.

            Industrial society is hostile to daydreaming. However, with restless masses, whose labor is no longer needed because of automation; it is important that they start daydreaming more, despite the constrained, unpleasant, and isolated conditions of their lives.

            Mellow out or you will pay!

    4. HotFlash

      Well, I’d give it one shot, anyway, just to see. A better measure would be prople who did it more than once, no?

    5. ewmayer

      Re. “People would rather be electrically shocked than left alone with their thoughts”

      Since smartphone and social-media addicts display a similar “fear of being left alone with own thoughts”, I’m sure there will soon be apps to enforce said fear via small shocks to the hand. A few years on this feature will become standard in mobile devices, with users having to face endless frustration to opt out.

      O brave new world, that has such people in it.

    6. Tiresias

      Lordy! One of my daily battles is finding a distraction-free half-hour for my Mindfulness Meditation. To be given the ideal location and be paid for it…..

      Mind you that isn’t to say that I wouldn’t have pressed the button once. I ‘helped out’ the psychology department on a number of occasions in my University days and double-guessing the experimenters was par for the course. The possibility that pressing a ‘forbidden’ button might in fact deliver a reward could not be discounted, especially given what we Arts types thought of psychology students. Perhaps this explains why more men than women pressed the button.

    1. prostratedragon

      All that yellow and blue, perhaps a version of Michigan J. Frog?

      (Michigan is the star of “the Citizen Kane of animated film?” The original in its screamingly funny glory is not free online, but here’s a pretty good recreation of the first couple of minutes, in which the frog is discovered: “One Froggy Evening”)

  2. trish

    re Google wants us to forget about its near-total monopoly over what we know Mark Ames, Pando

    I think this is a very important link, a must-read. Ames gets right at a crucial issue. excellent reporting, as always.

    thanks for posting.

    (And there’s another brief piece on pando worth a read by the always-good Yasha Levine on limits of social media -and the tragedy of the war- in Ukraine.)

    1. Carolinian

      Shorter Ames: Things sure are bad…wish somebody would do something about it. If he thinks Google is so sinister then perhaps he should suggest a remedy. However it turns out that’s not so simple since Google is not, in fact, a monopoly. Most browsers give you a wide choice of search engines including Bing and Yahoo. Many people like the more privacy conscious Duck Duck Go.

      To be sure Google like Amazon or Facebook enjoys tremendous market power because computers are complicated and its easier for people to just to latch onto one choice. Therefore early entrants to a field–usually after the very first entrants have blazed the path–gain an advantage. But if you think that’s a problem then you are saying the computer/internet ecosystem is itself inherently monopolistic. All open source then? It isn’t clear what Ames really wants.

      1. Lord Koos

        I used duck-duck go for awhile, but they’ve recently changed the search engine somehow so that a lot more crap turns up now. is another one to try. Unfortunately google is still the best, although I avoid using it as much as possible.

        1. Carolinian

          I use Google but I do adjust Firefox to maximize privacy settings and never use Google search while signed into Gmail (for what that’s worth). It seems to me that Google searches gave better results in years past but there is an entire industry now built around gaming their algorithm so lame listings may not be entirely their fault. I’m sure there are people around here who know a lot more about this topic than I do.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Google gets 97% of search traffic on smart devices.

        DuckDuckGo sucks. Its search results are terrible. I’ve tried using Bing and have wound up going back to Google. Google sadly is the best of a bad bunch, which allows Google to get worse on every axis.

      3. Oregoncharles

        I use Yahoo’s “Goodsearch”, which is no more private than Google, but no worse a search engine, and at least pays me for my personal information with a small donation to a charity of my choice – in my case, the Pacific Green Party. The idea was actually promoted within the party. Both my wife and son insist on using Google, but I don’t see that heir results are any better.
        When I tried duckduckgo, the results were almost perfect nonsense, unrelated to my intended search.

  3. JLowe

    The story, “how a fracking company tried to buy Pennsylvania residents’ approval for $50,000” initially produced for me the expected “how awful” response, followed by, “well maybe I’d sign on if they offered me $500,000”, to a more nuanced thought about how the residents with some appropriate expert guidance could go through the the risk-benefit exercise of what is the expected monetary value to them of being subjected to the noise, air quality, traffic, water quality risks, etc. to come up with their settlement value, terms and conditions and negotiating strategy (how much would I pay for granting a complete “hold harmless” clause, versus some stringent conditions, versus “buy me out and resettle me” options). If the states or Federal government aren’t going to provide regulatory leadership in this area, maybe it’s time for the communities to start organizing and dealing directly with the fracking companies.

    1. diptherio

      There is a basic problem with this conception. A few actually. One is that air and water are common pool resources in which everyone (not just the locals) have a stake. Just because the air or water gets polluted in your neighborhood doesn’t mean it stays there or that other neighborhoods aren’t also effected. Where does one draw the line for remuneration, and on what objective standard is that line based?

      The second problem is that you are still advocating for the comparison of incommensurable values. What makes you think that dirty air and water, and their attendant health problems, are reducible to monetary values? If your own health–your own life–is not something that you would place a monetary value on, why should anybody else be expected to? And if you are willing to place a monetary value on your health/life, well…I think you might need to go see a shrink or something…

      And how does one put a monetary value one’s sense of place, on the web of human and non-human relationships that make up a community? If one understands the actual value of these things, one doesn’t. The people whom our ancestors massacred so that they could inhabit this land understood this–our ancestors, less so…us, not at all.

      Not everything is reducible to monetary values. To try to sidestep the issue by saying, “yes, yes, but at any rate we have to compare everything somehow, and this is the best we’ve got,” as so many apologists do, is to accept that incommensurable values exist in theory, while denying them in practice.

      1. JLowe

        A well-articulated presentation of the first response, “how awful”. Some things to consider:

        The problem of where to draw the line and how to define the objective standard for what’s significant in terms of pollution is a concern – but there is some experience with it, for example, the process for figuring out how much it costs to clean up a Superfund site.

        Many would reject the assertion that dirty air and water and dollars are incommensurable values. Where do air and water quality standards come from? The key environmental laws in this country include a cost and feasibility balancing that follows the assessment of risks to public health and the environment. How are payouts in toxic tort liability determined? Would it be possible to do the same process in perhaps a more collaborative, less adversarial way?

        The third point about disrupting the sense of place that is a community, well that is the rub, isn’t it. Maybe the residents in rural PA particularly the white ones will begin to sense the dispossession (minus the slaughter) experienced by the peoples on this continent encountered and massacred by our ancestors.

        Not everything is reducible to monetary values, despite the best efforts of our political and economic leadership. However, money resonates with corporate entities such as governments and energy companies, and hitting them in the pocketbook is a good way to make them pay attention to a problem – which is why toxic torts are such an important weapon for impacted residents and communities. What is delusional is to believe that simply screaming “NO” at the tops of our progressive lungs is going to be of any benefit to these communities.

    2. McMike

      Except a lot of these people are about to have a train roll over them which they cannot stop, and their property values and way of life are already completely scrooged, and there is not a damn thing they can do about it, and the odds of collecting compensation on the back end is remote and lengthy and costly, and so in this context, the $50,000 is sort of a booby prize that you might as well accept.

  4. Ned Ludd

    Linux Journal is an “extremist forum” and its readers get flagged for extra surveillance.

    I would guess that Naked Capitalism is, by now, also classified as an extremist forum. “Extremist” is a synonym for thinking the wrong things and criticizing the wrong people.

    Marilyn Monroe

    Recently obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, the updated FBI files do show the extent the agency was monitoring Monroe for ties to communism in the years before her death in August 1962.

    Ernest Hemingway

    Decades later, in response to a Freedom of Information petition, the F.B.I. released its Hemingway file. It revealed that beginning in the 1940s J. Edgar Hoover had placed Ernest under surveillance because he was suspicious of Ernest’s activities in Cuba. Over the following years, agents filed reports on him and tapped his phones. The surveillance continued all through his confinement at St. Mary’s Hospital. It is likely that the phone outside his room was tapped after all.

    In the years since, I have tried to reconcile Ernest’s fear of the F.B.I., which I regretfully misjudged, with the reality of the F.B.I. file. I now believe he truly sensed the surveillance, and that it substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide.

    In the past, the government was hostile towards people who were completely harmless, simply because they kept the wrong company and entertained the wrong ideas. Why would things be different now?

    1. David Lentini

      Interesting comment about Linux. Given that the 9/11 terrorists used MS Flight Simulator, why not pick on Windows or Macintosh? Could it be that’s because those have back doors in place already!

      1. Banger

        Because the State has little interest in “terrorists”–their policies are aimed at domestic repression almost exclusively.

      2. hunkerdown

        I doubt a competent dodgy enterprise is going to run their IT department on Windows! There’s simply too much vulnerability to not only state-level actors using Windows Update as a remote code execution tool but to clever, cheap lay persons in former Soviet republics or to just picking up something by touching a doorknob, and no sure, trustworthy way to verify that one hasn’t been compromised or is secure against unknown unknowns. Such enterprises would most likely use Linux due to its comparative transparency and strippability. Therefore NSA hunts sysadmins.

        They aren’t just looking for Linux Journal readers, of course; the XKS ruleset disclosed also includes Tor directory servers and websites of that and other security packages. Anyone attempting to practice comsec should probably expect to be challenged.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Many large banks use Windows, believe it or not. I had a client who was hugely respected all over Wall Street for his technical chops who did a ton of consulting at places that ran on Microsoft.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      The assassination researcher Matthew Smith makes a plausible case in several of his books that Marilyn Monroe’s “suicide” was, shall we say, assisted. Dr. Thomas Naguchi’s autopsy of her showed there was no trace of barbiturates in her upper GI tract, but massive doses of three different ones in her colon. Her stomach did contain, however, remnants of a date-rape type drug. The theory of the crime put forth by Smith is that she was knocked out with a spiked drink and then given a massive barbiturate enema. As to motive, Smith argues that it was the work of people in the intelligence community, perhaps at the behest of the “deep state,” who wanted to render JFK political road-kill. Monroe had been visited by Robert Kennedy earlier that day and Smith asserts there was a confrontation between them about some documents that JFK had given her that the Kennedys’ wanted back and which she refused to surrender. Smith’s theory is that the instigators expected that the death would force the revelation of JFK’s affair with her and perhaps implicate his family in her death. However according to Smith this never happened because Chief William Parker of the LA police, who was under the illusion that JFK was about to fire J. Edgar Hoover and appoint him his replacement, oversaw the cover-up of the murder as a suicide. This is put forth in Smith’s book <a href="; title="Conspiracy: The Plot to Stop the Kennedys

      1. Banger

        Of course it invites a new investigation–the hard evidence of the autopsy would be the starting point–not sure of the politics of it–very confusing and intricate I’m sure.

      2. dearieme

        It seems rather simpler to assume that the Kennedy gangsters just had her killed to shut her up.

        1. hunkerdown

          Because the government would never lie or try to create a narrative from whole cloth, would they?

    3. Howard Beale IV

      How ironic that the Linux Journal is a Puzzle Palace target, given the significant amount of work the NSA put forth in SELinux and other various open-source products.

    4. ewmayer

      Interesting stuff/thoughts about Hemingway – thanks.

      But, there are so many other obvious contributory factors in his long physical and mental decline, repeated severe depressions and eventual suicide that attributing it to FBI surveillance — which he only became visibly paranoid about very late in his life, when he was very clearly not a well man in so many other ways — seems a reach. There was a family history of depression and suicide (possibly linked to familial genetic hemochromatosis, which both H and his late-also-via-suicide father were found to have suffered from), decades of hard living and multiple serious injuries from war, car and plane crashes, and chronic alcoholism, which excerbated it all and got especially bad in late life, as a form of self-medication, on top of whatever antidepressants and sedatives his doctors had him full of.

      In addition I’ve long thought his suicide – the culmination of years of feeling his ability to engage in his beloved craft slip away – may well have had as a proximate cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy due to repeated brain trauma (the same issue the NFL is at long, belated last coming to grips with). In Hemingway’s case the brain traumas were due to several small-plane crashes he suffered during a trip to Africa in 1954, these possibly on top of damage due to his wartime experiences (shell blasts and ambulance crash) and auto accidents earlier in his life. Unfortunately no brain tissue from his autopsy was preserved (AFAIK), so we’ll never know for sure.

      But as there were serious signs of depression and effects of hard living already much earlier, let’s start there. Here is Wikipedia (I’ve deleted the [] footnote links for better readability — cf. the Wikipage for those):

      Hemingway said he “was out of business as a writer” from 1942 to 1945. In 1946 he married Mary, who had an ectopic pregnancy five months later. The Hemingway family suffered a series of accidents and health problems in the years following the war: in a 1945 car accident he “smashed his knee” and sustained another “deep wound on his forehead”; Mary broke first her right ankle and then her left in successive skiing accidents. A 1947 car accident left Patrick with a head wound and severely ill. Hemingway sank into depression as his literary friends began to die: in 1939 William Butler Yeats and Ford Madox Ford; in 1940 Scott Fitzgerald; in 1941 Sherwood Anderson and James Joyce; in 1946 Gertrude Stein; and the following year in 1947, Max Perkins, Hemingway’s long-time Scribner’s editor and friend. During this period, he suffered from severe headaches, high blood pressure, weight problems, and eventually diabetes—much of which was the result of previous accidents and many years of heavy drinking. Nonetheless, in January 1946 he began work on The Garden of Eden, finishing 800 pages by June. During the post–war years he also began work on a trilogy tentatively titled “The Land”, “The Sea” and “The Air”, which he wanted to combine in one novel titled The Sea Book. However, both projects stalled, and Mellow says that Hemingway’s inability to continue was “a symptom of his troubles” during these years.

      Nonetheless, he had one last masterpiece in him, a gem of deceptive childishness (perhaps that deliberate superficial simplicity and lack of pretension is why it is so widely beloved):

      [In 1951], furious at the critical reception of Across the River and Into the Trees, he wrote the draft of The Old Man and the Sea in eight weeks, saying that it was “the best I can write ever for all of my life”. The Old Man and the Sea became a book-of-the-month selection, made Hemingway an international celebrity, and won the Pulitzer Prize in May 1952, a month before he left for his second trip to Africa.

      (Note that A Moveable Feast, a memoir of his expatriate-in-Paris days in the 20s was compiled and polished by him in the late 1950s, but the source material was a large corpus of his own recently-recovered writings of that earlier time in a set of notebooks, which he had left in two trunks at the Paris Ritz in 1928 and believed lost until he was reminded of their existence-still-in-safekeeping in 1957.) But things went rapidly downhill from there:

      In 1954, while in Africa, Hemingway was almost fatally injured in two successive plane crashes. He chartered a sightseeing flight over the Belgian Congo as a Christmas present to Mary. On their way to photograph Murchison Falls from the air, the plane struck an abandoned utility pole and “crash landed in heavy brush”. Hemingway’s injuries included a head wound, while Mary broke two ribs. The next day, attempting to reach medical care in Entebbe, they boarded a second plane that exploded at take-off, with Hemingway suffering burns and another concussion, this one serious enough to cause leaking of cerebral fluid. They eventually arrived in Entebbe to find reporters covering the story of Hemingway’s death. He briefed the reporters and spent the next few weeks recuperating and reading his erroneous obituaries. Despite his injuries, Hemingway accompanied Patrick and his wife on a planned fishing expedition in February, but pain caused him to be irascible and difficult to get along with. When a bushfire broke out, he was again injured, sustaining second degree burns on his legs, front torso, lips, left hand and right forearm. Months later in Venice, Mary reported to friends the full extent of Hemingway’s injuries: two cracked discs, a kidney and liver rupture, a dislocated shoulder and a broken skull. The accidents may have precipitated the physical deterioration that was to follow. After the plane crashes, Hemingway, who had been “a thinly controlled alcoholic throughout much of his life, drank more heavily than usual to combat the pain of his injuries.”

      All very depressing, so I shall try — in defiance of Hemingway’s own famous “All stories need end in death, and any author who keeps that from you is a liar” quote — to end on a positive note, looking ahead to 21. July: Happy 115th, Papa!

  5. Banger

    The NYT is a very confusing paper to read. Sometimes they have some fairly good reporting but analysis pieces like “Obama’s Blueprint for Fighting Terrorism Collides With Reality in Iraq” make me wince. These pieces act as if history doesn’t exist. First of all the war going on in Iraq and Syria is one directly caused by the U.S. The U.S. and its Gulf State allies funded and armed the ISIL forces and these forces have been very successful. The U.S. has, for over a half-century, supported and funded and infiltrated extremist groups in the region to do its geopolitical bidding just as U.S. supported the proto-Al-qaida forces in Afghanistan and the U.S. chief ally in the region, along with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan directly created the Taliban which Pakistan supports but pretends to fight and the U.S. pretends to fight with much greater ferocity.

    Terrorism, in my view, serves U.S. policy interests by acting as a threat to scare the public in the U.S. and elsewhere into supporting permanent war. The U.S. wants to fight people it itself created directly or indirectly. All we have to look at is the region before WWI to see that people, for the most part, lived in peace with Sunnis, Shia, Kurds, Christian, Jews living in relative peace together for over a thousand years. Not that there were no wars–only that there was mainly peace. Why since Britain, France and after WWII the U.S. started meddling through divide and conquer techniques perfected by Britain in India (what a history that is!) that the region became unstable and chaotic. But, for the NYT, history does not exist. The fact the U.S. fought a war in Iraq is forgotten and the NYT implies we should go back and fight some more. Why did the Iraq War fail? The NYT never asks those kinds of questions, obviously, since it is a division of the U.S. government.

    Obama is merely trying to move U.S. policy away from direct military intervenetion and, on the whole, the U.S. media wants and has wanted more and more U.S. military involvement in any war. I think the “training” of rebels in Syria is a compromise to throw at the war-mongers–that half-billion means nothing and is probably something to enrich some contractors while they pretend to “train” fighters who are just going to go over to ISIL sooner or later. The pro-U.S. forces in Syria, as far as I can tell, are a fraud. There was never a real intention to fund a non-sectarian opposition because Assad has been the guarantor of non-sectarianism in Syria which was doing just fine before the Intel community through various NGOs started funding movements to undermine the regime in Syria–all that showed just what the whole “color revolution” movement was always about–undermining regimes to create chaos and factional fighting–Ukraine being another case and point.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘For the NYT, history does not exist.’

      Operation Mockingbird does not deal with history. It exists in the Eternal Now, where today is all that matters.

      Ommmmmmm …

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thank you for thoughtful and insightful comments, Banger and other respondents. And thank you, Yves, for keeping the mess in Iraq in focus, although it all makes for very painful reading on this “Independence Day”.

      Remarkably, after losing and damaging thousands of lives; squandering trillions of dollars that could have been used for domestic infrastructure, education, healthcare, sustainable clean energy initiatives, etc.; and radicalizing large segments of a foreign population in another failed military adventure and occupation, they’re back:

      Guess that wasn’t the war they were looking for. It’s astonishing to me that these people evidently retain credibility in the corporate MSM and possibly even in the arena of policy input.

      So who is driving this bus now, really? Rumors abound regarding past and current U.S., Saudi, Iranian, Israeli, Russian, Chinese et al involvement with all the various parties in Iraq, including supply of arms and “advisors”, and subsets of competing “policy makers”. A three-dimensional matrix would seem to be necessary just to keep track of the parties, the extent of their respective involvement, their perceived objectives and interests, etc. (Oil, anyone?)

      Wonder what the truth is here, and how those of us who stand for peace can help effect it? Banger’s final sentence particularly raises questions for me.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘It’s astonishing to me that these people evidently retain credibility in the corporate MSM.’

        Without the platform given by the MSM in 2002 to low-life nobodies like Wolfowitz, Perle and Feith, the Iraqian disaster wouldn’t have happened.

        A dozen years later, the song remains the same. The MSM is the enemy.

        1. Carolinian

          Of course.

          I think television ruined journalism. Big name reporters became tv stars with salaries to match. With that much at stake they couldn’t risk their careers by bucking the system. You’ll see people like Joe Klein claiming the web is the ruin of the news business but you’ll never see them attacking tv. They luv being on Charlie Rose.

  6. ambrit

    Re. the Panorama article; I could only read to Teil 3. Teils 4 and 5 would not pull up. I was constantly redirected to Teil 1. Interesting since teil 4 was titled, “Simple web searches are suspicious.” Doing a recheck has alerted me to the fact that now, only the Introduction and Teil 1 are loading. Hmmm…

  7. McMike

    Three days now and not a single article of analysis, outrage or speculation about Greenwald?

    1. DakotabornKansan

      Interesting observation by Jesse at Jesse’s Café Américain:

      “I think we may have discovered that the best way to effectively muzzle some of the great dissenting voices of your time, including Greenwald, Scahill, and Poitras, is to have some fortunate billionaire fund an electronic journal with John Cook as rédacteur-en-vacances, and then let it falter. The Intercept is remarkable chiefly for its lack of output, almost incredibly so since mid June.

      At least Greenwald and Taibbi have their book tours to occupy their time, and twitter as a means of communication.”

      1. McMike

        Indeed. I am specifically curious though why NC has not posted a single article on this topic in their “big brother” section.

        1. Lambert Strether

          One possibility is that nobody posted such a link in comments; we often pick up links for the Links section that way. We’re a one-and-a-half person crew covering the waterfront. Frankly, the best indication that readers are really interested in a topic is when they do a little research on their own.

      2. McMike

        in re Greenwald/Tiabbi, one would think the obvious taint of selling out would be enough to keep them from making the leap. The price or threats made must have been plenty generous, to make these guys throw appearances to the wind and pull a blatant Captain Renault.

        I presume that both were well-enough compensated by their previous employers to allow them to weight the more-money-versus-credibility question, and if they were being censored at Guardian/Rolling Stone, I could not tell, and further if they were indeed being censored, one would therefor expect a prompt pent-up dam-release tell-all under their new employment, which has not to my knowledge happened.

        In other words, we are witnessing a blatant open sell-out that is barely bothering to pretend differently.

        (I am however willing to accept that perhaps Greenwald got made an offer he couldn’t refuse).

        1. Carolinian

          So when Greenwald does publish his story will you get the Google’s wayback machine to erase all these comments? Last I checked Greenwald–and the various outlets he has partnered with–have given the NSA story considerable legs and made major revelations. And that’s including after Omidyar supposedly bought his silence. As I’ve said around here before, one person not complaining about Greenwald is Edward Snowden. Snowden told Brian Williams that he specifically did not want all the documents made public. Perhaps your beef is with him.

          As for the question of whether The Intercept is vaporware–perhaps. But so what? Maybe Greenwald, a lawyer by training, just isn’t very good at running such a thing. Hard to say he hasn’t already made his mark. And I’d claim that would be true even if he’d never heard of Edward Snowden.

          1. McMike

            I give Greenwald plenty of credit, and have previously in these very pages.

            This latest episode, however, on the heels of the Omidyar thing, reflects a troubling trend at least towards tone deafness and/or bad judgment.

            I have no problem with both players taking pains to protect legitimate bona fide national security concerns in the course of disclosure of the crimes and lies. The devil is of course in the details.

          2. Ned Ludd

            The last time liberals gave a surveillance story legs, we got the FISA Amendments Act. Dribbling a story out, and muddling it with the government’s rationale and justifications, teaches people learned helplessness.

            Also, I don’t take moral direction from a former CIA operative. Snowden offers no apology for joining an organization that kidnaps, tortures, and murders people. As far as I know, he has never called for any of these things to be halted. However, he did become disillusioned when the CIA manipulated a banker, in order to have him arrested.

            By Snowden’s own account, ““I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA… I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.” Snowden’s goal is to strengthen U.S. imperialism, not to undermine it.

        2. Ned Ludd

          Taibbi is not selling out. He built a brand, and now he is cashing it in. Also, Taibbi is no left-winger. He told Reason that he was “more of a libertarian than anything else”.

          He despises the religious right but wants Roe v. Wade overturned because he’s a staunch federalist. He opposes the Iraq War, but doesn’t feel that homosexuals should have federal job protections.

          Taibbi crossed a picket line to appear on the Colbert Report. “Behind all the ‘gonzo’-scented smoke and fire is just one more incrementalist, a rich dude telling tales on the worst-behaved members of his class”.

          1. McMike

            Monetizing the brand is different than selling out? Only by degrees perhaps.

            I didn’t say he was a liberal, but he occupied a brief space in time when he was one of the few notable voices that was making early, cogent, direct, sustained (and humorous) attacks on Wall Street in the MSM.

            1. Ned Ludd

              Taibbi wrote many informative, and accessible, articles; he may write more in the future. I don’t see him as a principled person, though. He is more of an entertainer; the long-form print version of Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert.

              1. McMike

                Perhaps. There’s a quote about comedy being the safety valve for taboo dissent or something like that, but I am too lazy to look it up right now.

                There are some 11 dimension chess arguments about whether people like Stewart make things better or worse, but on net, they bring ideas of challenging authority palatable to a wider audience, so I’ll take what I can get.

                1. James Levy

                  I wonder if any principled person could get close enough to find anything out any more. Taibbi always seemed to have way too many names in his rolodex and connections on Wall Street to be a real outsider or enemy of the system. Greenwald is a hopelessly self-satisfied and hyper-touchy individual. Neither strikes me as a good man, although both have done good, important work. But motivation and character matter, especially at crunch-time. And as has been pointed out, Snowden had no qualms about working with the CIA. What we need are fearless, honest men and women of integrity digging up the trash and letting us know what’s happening. But I doubt a person like that could get within a mile of the levers of power to find out what was going on inside the machine. I just don’t know.

                  1. McMike

                    Put another way: no good decent men want to cover themselves in the slime and compromises required to get there, and no sane humble person would subject themselves to the abuse and tension, confrontation, and threats required to keep at it.

                    1. McMike

                      There’s a quote I saw once and have searched for since that says something like politics attracts the people we hated in high school, but it is mixed up in my mind with quotes about people who desire public office should be disqualified for the fact that they seek it.

                      I think it was Hunter S or PJ O’Rourke.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I am not omniscient, nor do I have the time to cover all topics. Finance and economics is our primary beat, and even on that we miss too much due to limited resources. I am on the verge of burnout and hectoring me does not help.

      1. Oregoncharles

        You’re doing remarkable, indispensable work, Yves. Don’t mind the bickering, and do whatever you need to to stay healthy and keep at it. Believe me, you are appreciated. There is no other site like yours.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Dow 17,000 — check.

    S&P 2000, 0.7% away — check.

    So where does the billowing, boisterous Yellebubble go from here? Why, to Nasdaq 5000, that empyrean summit attained for one day in March 2000, only to be succeeded by an 80% smash over the next 30 months. It’s less than 12% up from here — a fitting goal for 2015, or even this summer on the last fumes of QE rocket fuel.

    Nasdaq 5000, comrades: for the children. After all, the little tykes were told about a magic beanstalk. Why should we withhold it from them, when now we have the means to make it real?

    1. abynormal

      MAGNIFICENT, adj. Having a grandeur or splendor superior to that to which the spectator is accustomed, as the ears of an @ss, to a rabbit, or the glory of a glowworm, to a maggot(s) [home of free mkts].
      Devils Dic.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I see a lot of houses for sale around here…maybe people can finally get out – the same escape route for those still trapped in NASDAQ since 2001…unfortunately some of my best stock ideas (fiber optics, e-commerce, etc) had passed away (lack of health care insurance for those idea-beings).

      1. Jim Haygood

        The Fed is setting up a replay of 2000-2002 with their irresponsible policies.

  9. susan the other

    The Unbalanced Evolution of Homo Sapiens. Nobody knows exactly what chemicals from Syria are being refined using hydrolysis just off the shores of Crete. Nobody knows how toxic those sarin ingredients are all by themselves. Nobody even guesses what damage it will cause in the Mediterranean where environmental regulations are lax. Some indication that the US wants to recycle some chemicals. The lack of precise info on what the chemicals are, are there some not connected to the sarin flap?, makes me think that there might be radionuclides in that mix too. And yesterday on Enenews there was a blunt statement by a nuclear engineer here in the US that, No we can’t help Fukushima because that technology doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. And another terrifying one that Fukushima has already entered the China Syndrome phase of its meltdown and predicted one possible outcome when the sizzling plutonium reaches enough underground water it will shoot up radioactive geysers for miles around. We should all be thinking WIPP about now.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thank you for your thought-provoking comment on a subject of great concern, Susan.

      Re WIPP, per
      EPA Response to 2014 Radioactive Release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)
      EPA is in regular contact with DOE, the New Mexico Environment Department and the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center. To date, EPA’s review of the data collected indicates:
      • That the radiation releases do not pose public health concern.
      • That DOE followed the procedures previously approved by EPA.
      • That the WIPP facility remains in compliance with EPA regulations.

      I myself have been wondering what is turning all the seastars to goo along the entire West Coast from So. California to Alaska. They are an apex predator.

  10. abynormal

    “Noi fummo i Gattopardi, i Leoni; quelli che ci sostituiranno saranno gli sciacalletti, le iene; e tutti quanti gattopardi, sciacalli e pecore, continueremo a crederci il sale della terra.”
    Giuseppe di Lampedusa hehehe, Happy Humble 4th !

    for me…to share with Yall ; ))

    1. toldjaso

      Mazzini’s “Young Italy” led the way to Pike’s treason for the Dynastic Big Take through the Bloody Hegelian Dialectic called the “Civil War” — not a “War Between the States” but a war of “Babylon’s Banksters” (Ferrell) against We the People the Nation, still going on today. “” (Gunderson) still, of .01%DNA + .99%Agency du jour, to “Rule the World” through (pre-emptive) wars of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for Monopoly of Earth’s resources, Monopoly of financial/political/religious power and control in perpetuity, enforcing the Monopoly of The Law Merchant by the BIS/NATO deadly forces. The Nuremberg Tribunal of 1945 stopped short for cause. Jefferson ensured the power of The Law of the Land, the Law of We the People the Nation, in our Constitution of the United States. The so-called “Trade Treaties” of the “Globalists” intend and do subvert our Law of the Land, enslaving us to The Law Merchant, the “supranational” Totalitarian “Admiralty Law” System made for the perpetuation of .01%DNA Global Dynastic Reign and Rule. The People’s law is the Law of the Land. To subvert the Law of the Land is to commit an act of treason against We the People of the Several and United States. Hence, those involved with the creation and imposition of the WTO, GATT, NAFTA, NAU, etc., are guilty of treason, and the TPP is their last nail in the coffin of our autonomous existence as the People the just Government of the United States.

      Citizens, arise, and assert your rights under the Law of the Land, the apple of Jefferson’s eye given to/for us to use in just such a time of tyranny as this. The right to exercise the Citizen’s Arrest is all-important now, and perhaps the only means left for exerting our sovereignty over “enemies foreign and domestic.”

  11. flora

    Re: Obama Takes Aim at the Heart of Wall St: Bonuses

    “The president also declared that “Too Big to Fail,” the idea that banks have become so large that they enjoy a form of built-in taxpayer support no matter what they do, has largely been addressed.”


    Meanwhile, back at the ranch…..

    Obama Admin’s TPP Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks.

    “Officials tapped by the Obama administration to lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations have received multimillion dollar bonuses from CitiGroup and Bank of America, financial disclosures obtained by Republic Report show. …

    “…Leaked TPP negotiation documents show the Obama administration is seeking to prevent foreign governments from issuing a broad variety of financial rules designed to stem another bank crisis.

    “…Senator Elizabeth Warren warned that trade agreements such as the TPP provide “a chance for these banks to get something done quietly out of sight that they could not accomplish in a public place with the cameras rolling and the lights on. ”

  12. Jim Haygood

    A Venezuelan journalist escapes the economic prison it has become:

    In December 2013, we made extra cash from a freelance job and decided to invest it in tickets to Miami. When violent protests erupted in February a half-block away from our home, we knew that our tickets would be the key to an exit door out of danger. Then we took the time-honored Latin escape route: the plane to Miami.

    [Florida] reminded us that another life, a good life, is possible. The first days there, my wife used to stand in front of the supermarket cases full of brands of yogurt, stressed out by her inability to decide which one to choose. For months, finding any yogurt in Venezuela had been an epic achievement.

    “About 80 Venezuelan families arrive every week,” someone in the real estate business told us. Middle class, of course, or upper: In Venezuela, the poor don’t emigrate.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      OK, I’ll take a stab at the point of this one.

      Venezuelan populism BAD, NAR enabled money-laundering in Miami real estate GOOD?

      Am I close?

    2. OIFVet

      Hehe, the oldie but a goody “land of [capitaist] plenty”, except that ‘yogurt’ is not yogurt and the illusion of choice boils down to which GMOd and corn obesity-causing product you will spend your money on. I feel those Venezuelan immigrant strivers though, I used to be them not long ago. It’s human nature to look at the Potemkin facade and mistake it for substance…

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        I wonder why some can see it, and some can’t. Maybe it takes too much effort.

        God Ol’ “American Cheese Food”

        1. OIFVet

          I don’t know about anybody else, but for me the path to the truth began when my father developed Type 2. Researching, reading, talking with others, I soon came to the conclusion that industrialized agribusiness produces food that kills both the environment and the people eating it. Throw in the stresses of life under modern financial capitalism and there is little wonder that we are in the midst of diabetes and obesity epidemic. Being obese is no longer the mark of wealth it used to be in the pre-industrial age, it is the mark of poverty. It really is that simple.

  13. theblame/e

    Yves, I have been reading your site for a while. With all due respect, you started out with “anecdote du jour” and one cutesy animal and have grown to more and more. Today your site looks like something out of MSN. How can you expect to be taken seriously when your site looks like a petting zoo? Worse, is how when anybody comments about it your reaction is like that of an entrenched animal hoarder, you add more cutesy animals — almost out of spite. Are you okay?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You must not have visited the site recently. We have had the baby snow leopards as our Tip Jar for quite some time. The only other complaint we ever got about them is that someone found them scary. We went through an extensive redesign and got four rounds of comments from readers.

      As to seriousness, most sites have far more images (junk images, I might add, ones added to please Google) than we do. We use far fewer images than most sites, save blogs written by and for economists (but even in that space, I can name ones that include at least one image per post as a matter of convention). Our posts on average are very long and save for the Links page, uniformly text heavy.

      We have not added to the number of images, so I have no idea what you are talking about. And today we have a frog which most people would consider very deficient in the cuteness category.

      1. Vatch

        I sometimes use the animal picture in the daily links page to entice family members and friends to read Naked Capitalism. I send them the links URL, advise them to scroll down to see whatever animal is pictured, and I hope that they look at more than just the picture. At least one person has told me that he does look at more than the picture.

      2. theblame/e

        So, the baby snow leopards, the scary frog, the two (2) articles in the main section, one about a squirrel and the other about “Animals in the News” (which I failed to read because between the baby snow leopards and the scary frog that was more than enough for me). Not too much animal coverage? Sorry to be such a “bear” about it,

        1. Vatch

          I count 33 articles in the Links section that are not specifically about animals. Also, most days have a greater number of feature articles than today and yesterday, since weekends and holidays have fewer articles. I think your complaint is much ado about nothing.

    2. OIFVet

      Dude, you really need to relax. That’s what the antidote is for. If that doesn’t work for you perhaps a little dried cannabis sativa will. Light[en] up.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Hey, OIF — just a heads-up: They want Cannibis Indus. Sativa is better for making paper. I have no idea how I would be able to make this distinction.

        ; )

        Have a good, good holiday!

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          Caninibis Indica?

          Damn. Now I have to look it up. Too bad I’m not able to focus on one thing at a time, right now. Give me 15 minutes.

          1. OIFVet

            Nah, they are both good but the effects are different: “The high produced from smoking Indica bud is a strong physical body high that will make you sleepy or ‘couch-locked’ and provides a deep relaxation feeling compared to a Sativa high, which is known to be more energetic and uplifting.” So perhaps you are right, the deep relaxation of indica might be called for in this instance. I mean railing against the antidote?! Who the fuck does that?!

    3. ewmayer

      @LearnedHelplessness: If you don’t like the fuzzy pics, turn off image rendering in your browser. (Similar for other distracting annoyances: flashSpam, popups, noisy clips, loud/bright colors, &c. I’ve been browsing in that kind of “quiet mode” for years. It’s all about the content for me. If I need to view a particular image or piece of dynamic content, it’s a 1-click deal, and *only* applies to the content I selected, not to any other stuff on my open page(s)/tab(s). If your viewing medium doesn’t allow you that level of control, the problem lies with it (and by extension, you). Stop whining and instead expend a modicum of effort to take control.

    4. kareninca

      wow, theblame/e, you seem to have missed the point. Yves’ articles and links are mostly bleak; the antidote is just that, an antidote. For a period of time there were quite a few “dark” antidotes that weren’t cutsey; I wrote and pleaded for the cutsey ones back; perhaps other readers did, too (the “dark” antidotes were pretty depressing). Yves site in no way resembles a MSM site, visually or content-wise; if you think so maybe you’re not getting a lot out of your visits here. This just boggles my mind: someone who objects to a few animal photos in a sea of important news, and bothers to object; my you have time on your hands. And your “are you okay” question is very creepy and condescending.

      You know, organizations like the NSA employ trolls whose role is to try to make bloggers feel bad, in trivial pointless ways. Just to see if they can. Of course they hire evil creeps to do it. Hmmm.

  14. fresno dan

    “If you read Boing Boing, the NSA considers you a target for deep surveillance BoingBoing. Confirms something I warned readers about repeatedly: if you use Tor, you are waving a big red flag at the NSA to take interest in you. But since reading BoingBoing has that effect too, all of you are probably in the NSA’s crosshairs anyhow. More at ​XKeyscore exposed: How NSA tracks all German Tor users as ‘extremists‘ RT (Nikki)”

    And I’m sure if you read NC, the CIA is monitoring you….although I’m more worried about the BoA and Goldman Sachs assassins.

    On another subject
    Country living on this over 1 acre property. Featuring 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, greatroom with fireplace, central heat and air and a 2 car garage. Home needs new well.”

    “HOME needs a new well” is something as I look for a house in the central valley of CA I see more and more. There comes a point that no matter how deep you drill, there ain’t no more water. Economists will than discover that there ain’t alternatives for everything…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That house needs a new well like we need a new planet.

      Year 2114, Planet Earth’s space-tourists/travelers customs/immigration check point:

      ‘Welcome to the New Mars’

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        “. . . bend over — we need to see the dark side of your moon . . .”

    2. Howard Beale IV

      Bingo. After all, it’s entirely possible that the NSA considers Naked Capitalism a ‘rogue’ site.

  15. OIFVet

    I love my neighborhood’s wacky liberalism. Even the 4th of July parade is wacky: “War is not the answer”, “sense, not guns”, “stop the violence”, “save public education”, these were some of the banners I saw in the parade. I was getting my hopes up, then my sensible SO reminded me that most of these people voted for Obama. She always has to rain on my parade like that.

    1. Nobody (the outcast)

      “…conservatives who actually conserve are about as rare these days as liberals who actually liberate.” — J.M. Greer

      1. abynormal

        YOU myFriend just blew out my Quote-A-Matic….Double Hat Tip from abnormal to outcast

  16. Veri

    Ah, France. Once had a discussion about France with another individual. Mr. Hollande was pushing through some reforms after his election. Something about taxing the rich.

    The discussion boiled down to, Mr. Hollande was incurring the wrath of Financiers by doing so. That soon, bankers who did not like his policies would begin to pull investments from France.

    And that has happened.

  17. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    “When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”

    ― Napoleon

    1. Mark P.

      ‘The few who understand the system will either be so interested in its profits or be so dependent upon its favors that there will be no opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that capital derives from the system, will bear its burdens without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests.’

      The Rothschild brothers of London, writing to associates in New York, 1863.

      1. Fíréan

        Of those few who understand the system one particular group spend a far greater amount lobbying to influence the system (specific europe )
        quote :
        ‘The financial industry spends more than €120 million per year on lobbying in Brussels and employs more than 1.700 lobbyists to influence EU policy-making, according to a study published today by Corporate Europe Observatory, ÖGB Europabüro (Brussels office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation), and AK EUROPA (Brussels office of the Austrian Chamber of Labour).
        The new report, “The fire power of the financial lobby” shows the financial industry commands tremendous lobbying resources and enjoys privileged access to decision makers. It reveals the financial sector lobbies EU decision-makers via over 700 organisations, including companies’ public relations offices, business associations, and consultancies.
        This figure outnumbers civil-society organisations and trade unions working on financial issues by a factor of more than five, with an even bigger imbalance when numbers of staff and lobbying expenses are compared. In sum, the financial lobby is massively outspending other actors, by a factor of more than 30.
        In order to result in a safe estimate, the survey used the most conservative figures. Therefore, the actual numbers – and the imbalance between different interests – are likely to be far higher. ‘ /unquote

        from an april 9th issue of

    2. Benedict@Large

      The idea that a nation issues its own currency but is dependent upon bankers for access to it is complete nonsense. That we have a generation of elected leaders who actually believe this nonsense says something more still about how corrupted our sources of information (media and academic) have become. Our elected leaders have become blathering morons when it comes to money and how it works, while we, the people who actually do the work, get ground to a pulp as a result.

  18. rich

    Another Novel Carlyle Group Defense

    The Missoulian reported:

    In order to side with the Carlyle Group in its motion to dismiss, Missoula County District Court Judge Karen Townsend would have to “adopt novel and creative legal arguments with scant support.

    In the eminent domain case the city of Missoula filed against Mountain Water Co. and the global investment firm, Carlyle tried to argue it shouldn’t be named as a defendant in the condemnation case given the multiple layers of ownership between the water utility and Carlyle. Carlyle argued it was an “upstream owner,” but it wasn’t the legal owner of the company’s assets in Missoula County.

    “That distinction is lost on this court in light of Carlyle Infrastructure’s representations to the city,” Townsend wrote in a ruling issued Thursday.

    Carlyle’s lawyers are infamous for novel legal arguments.

    Carlyle’s lawyers pump toxic lies so the greed and leverage boys can make another billion and keep their shiny image intact.

    Once upon a time a blog challenged the untoward acts by private equity underwriters (PEU’s). It was known as PEUReport.

  19. OIFVet

    RAND’s plan for ethnic cleansing in Easter Ukraine leaked:

    “A leaked memorandum from the RAND corporation think tank suggests the Ukrainian govt should engage in an all-out war in eastern regions, including shutting down all communications, putting citizens in internment camps and kill all who resist such actions.” The whole article is well worth it to read.

      1. OIFVet

        It makes one really proud of our gubmint on this 4th of July. Genocidal neonazis in Ukraine, muslim fundamentalists in Syria, are there any extremists we will not get in bed with in order to further our corporate national interests? Worse, we have actually written the script for the genocide to be carried out. All in the name of “democracy” and “freedom” of course, though I guess these are not meant to be enjoyed by the subhuman Russian animals.

  20. Carolinian

    St. Clair”s Tour de Vegas–worth a look.

    On the plane from Portland, I sat next to an engineer who has been working for the last decade at Lake Mead. The reservoir is shriveling, drying up before our eyes. The water level drops each year, leaving a baleful white stain on the walls of Black Canyon. His company’s job is to paint the freshly exposed bone-white walls of the canyon back to their accustomed color, so as not to frighten the tourists.

    Of course, it’s not the tourists who should be petrified by the dwindling of Lake Mead, but the moguls of the Strip. They are the retailers of illusion. The biggest Mirage in town isn’t the shimmering gilt-colored casino, with its topless poolside bar ($40 entry fee) and ghastly aquarium, but the illusion of water. Slotted on the desiccated basin floor of the Mojave, Las Vegas is moistened by less than four inches of rain a year. That’s the old average. The future looks even drier. Yet there is water everywhere on the strip: the vast pools of Caesar’s Palace, the waterfalls at the Wynn, the gondola-festooned lagoons of the Venetian, the dancing fountain at the Bellagio. The biggest illusion, the one that must be maintained at all costs, is that in Vegas there are no limits.

    1. Tiresias

      Is there not a bigger illusion yet? That the ideology of the U.S. of A. can make even deserts bloom.

        1. Steve H.

          This article has been the one that stuck to the wall for me today.

          “But the dream is coming to an end. A reckoning is fast approaching. The water is running out. Today 90 percent of the city’s water is sucked from Lake Mead and Lake Mead is drying up. The latest forecasts predict the once vast reservoir may be completely tapped out by 2021. Count ‘em: That’s seven years. After that, all bets are off. No water tunnels or emergency pipelines can possibly compensate for the shortage. Vegas’s days are numbered. Deal with it, baby.”

          Juxtapose with Vegas Zip code 89030:
          Homes underwater: 61%. Delinquent: 16%. Amount owed as a percent of home value: the bar for >200% is over twice as high as those at <40%.

          "Our revels are now ended"

  21. kareninca

    Since the NSA is targeting the privacy conscious (to hell with you, NSA; yes I DID buy that treat-dispensing dog toy), I figured I might as well go to Boing Boing. It is a totally normal news site, with a big range of history and science articles; interesting article re a black woman WWII vet. Clearly the NSA is desperate to come up with some way to distinguish people from one another, so they are coming up with categories that they can show their supervisors (“we’re watching the really scary dangerous privacy-seekers and Tor users and Boing Boing readers!!!). They must have so much data, and so few ways to deal with it, that their little heads are ready to explode. Morons.

    I worked for a government agency one summer, just after working in the same field in the private sector. I actually liked the government workers; they were kind of sweet. But they were completely incompetent and unable to do anything. The interns at the private sector job, were far more capable than the higher-level people at the government site. And this was something far, far less mentally-taxing than tech. If the NSA is anything like that job site, their workers are just sitting around gabbing, and then frantically trying to put something together to make it look like they have done some work. The only time they get anything done is when they contract out to the private sector, and then of course all secrecy is lost, haha.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I wouldn’t bet on him turning into a prince, if that is what you are wondering. I have the impression that all the fairy tale frogs are pretty standard issue frogs in appearance.

  22. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    A buss on the cheek, or full on the lips?

    I’m thinking you might just get poisoned, or high, or both.

  23. Swedish Lex

    Living eternally in heaven, stuck with one’s thoughts, without any eject button, must be total hell
    Why people spend their lives, at least for those of us with sufficient means, dreaming about and hoping for an eternal post mortem is beyond me…..

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