Links 7/6/14

Whales as ecosystem engineers: Recovery from overhunting helping to buffer marine ecosystems from destabilizing stresses Science Daily

Virus Plagues the Pork Industry, and Environmentalists Times. This is uber-icky.

Rupture-Prone Oil Trains Keep Rolling After Quebec Crash Bloomberg

Trans-Pacific Partnership talks going on in Ottawa CBC (rjs)

Let’s Just Pretend We Didn’t Offshore Manufacturing Eyes on Trade. Jiggering the classification system.

How the ‘PayPal Mafia’ redefined success in Silicon Valley Tech Republic

The Truth About Tinder and Women Is Even Worse Than You Think Businessweek

David Cameron orders probe into lost child sex file FT


Health Care Coverage under the Affordable Care Act — A Progress Report NEJM

Proposal To Add Skimpier ‘Copper’ Plans To Marketplace Raises Concerns  KHN

Hospitals Are Mining Patients’ Credit Card Data to Predict Who Will Get Sick Businessweek. Minority Diagnosis.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are WaPo. Must read.

NSA’s Spying: Medical Records, Resumés … and Obama Emptywheel

NSA Experts: ‘National Security Has Become a State Religion’ Der Speigel

Crunch time for NSA reform The Hill. Just like the banks. If nobody goes to jail, nothing changes.

Germany Getting Ready To Divorce U.S. Ally Moon of Alabama


Ukraine calls capture of key pro-Russian rebel stronghold ‘start of a turning point’ National Post

War by any other name The Economist

How Bulgaria’s Bank Run Affects Ukraine’s European Dream Bloomberg

Egypt sharply raises energy prices FT

Israel does not want peace Haaretz


Islamic State releases video of Baghdadi in Mosul in new assertion of authority McClatchy

The Kurds’ big gains Le Monde Diplomatique

Why did more than 200,000 Cambodian workers leave Thailand? Asian Correspondent. Mass migrations are never a good sign.

‘Send me back to jail’, says Long Hair as pan-democrats surrrender to police over July 1 march South China Morning Post. Hong  Kong

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon grounds all F35’s over engine problems, runway fire Sacramento Bee. “Defense analysts say some of the problems are the result of starting to manufacture the high-tech jet fighters while its design was still being completed.” What could go wrong?

The surprising ages of the Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776

Economic Underpinnings of the U.S. Revolutionary War Conversable Economist

“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”  Black Agenda Report

Darwinian Soup LRB. Memes.

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Ned Ludd

    I remember a discussion, awhile back, about whether individual purchases at the grocery store are being tracked.

    Imagine getting a call from your doctor if you let your gym membership lapse, make a habit of buying candy bars at the checkout counter, or begin shopping at plus-size clothing stores. […]

    If the early steps are successful, though, Dulin says he’d like to renegotiate to get the data provider to share more specific details with the company’s doctors on their patients’ spending habits. “The data is already used to market to people to get them to do things that might not always be in the best interest of the consumer,” he says. “We are looking to apply this for something good.”

    To have privacy in the 21ˢᵗ century, you apparently need to pay for everything with cash, not have any memberships, and wear a baseball cap and a fake nose when outside of your home – and while inside, too, if your computer has a camera.

    1. grayslady

      The other day I was buying something at Walgreens and the checkout lady asked me if I had a Walgreens Balance Reward Card that I wanted to use with purchase. At first I just said no–even though I do have a card–but then she started with the “Would you like to open one?” routine. That’s when I decided to tell her the truth: I do have a card but I don’t intend to use it again because I value my privacy and I don’t like the idea of anyone tracking my purchases. She just looked at me quietly for a few seconds and then said, in a low voice, “I feel exactly the same way.” Sometimes it’s valuable just to stand up for your rights in small ways so that others don’t feel alone.

      1. Ned Ludd

        I buy many things with cash. Some of the cashiers at big box stores used to get irritated and impatient having to deal with bills and coins and counting – instead of a simple credit card swipe. I don’t encounter that sort of irritation anymore. I also try to shop at local and regional stores, when possible.

      2. NotSoSure

        Nowadays, I just have people working at CVS, Ralphs, etc scan the store’s card whenever I need a discount. Machine learn that!!!

    2. Jagger

      ————–To have privacy in the 21ˢᵗ century, you apparently need to pay for everything with cash, not have any memberships,———–

      That is exactly what I do now unless I absolutely have no choice. And most places will still accept cash.

    3. Cynthia

      Hospitals aren’t tracking patient personal spending habits in order to improve quality of care or patient outcomes. They are doing this to save their profit margins. That’s because ObamaCare imposes stiff penalties on hospitals if any of their patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged from a prior admission. For instance, if a hospital uses credit card information to discover that one of its so-called “multimorbidity” patients has ordered food from “Five Guys Burger and Fries” instead from “The Sunflower Cafe” and ends up at the ER in urgent need of being readmitted, say, for chest pain or shortness of breath, then that hospital is armed with the necessary proof to dodge a hefty readmission penalty.

      This should serve as a wake-up call for anyone who is still naive enough to believe that ObamaCare aims too improve patient care. If anything, ObamaCare is causing quality of care, which is already pretty poor, to deteriorate even further. That’s because all of these “Big Brother” tactics that ObamaCare is incentivizing hospitals to engage in is causing them to hire more and more data miners in the back office, leaving fewer and fewer frontline nurses and doctors to care for patients.

      Thanks to this and other ObamaCare abominations, overhead expenses among hospitals are now consuming such a ginormous share of healthcare dollars that there are very few of these dollars left to provide care for patients. Believe me, I’m not exaggerating! This ObamaCare-induced cost shifting is having a detrimental effect on patient care. I see it happening before my eyes, and it’s only getting worse each day.

    1. munanomaniac

      In German

      Poll: germans want more independence to USA

      “Big Brother good by: According to a SPIEGEL- Poll a majorita of germans want more independence to (from?) the USA. The thrust into the ally has decreased, lots hope for e more close contact to Russia.
      In it (the poll) 57% of the test persons opined for a larger independence of Germany to the USA. 69%
      opined same time, that their cofidence to the american ally has decreased recently.
      In relation to Russia 50% called for a larger independence of Germany. 40 % by contrast had the opinion
      Germany should work closer together with Russia.”

      (This message, a hint for the coming print-edition of the SPIEGEL, has been cancelled meanwhile)

      1. toldjaso

        Are Germans getting the message? Are Americans? Imagine The People v. Finance Capital (Societe Anonyme: ipso facto FOREIGN to the People’s/the nation’s interests everywhere). Are the People of Maine ready?
        James Petras placed many a depth rod into these foul waters in 2007:
        “Foreign investment [now blatant “privatization” by finance capital credipreditors], especially large-scale buyouts of strategic enterprises, severely compromises national sovereignty and converts political regimes into ‘hostages’ of the foreign owners.” (p. 228)

        [So What’s the Matter with Russia?]
        “The shift toward foreign-controlled speculative capital emerging in China, India and Brazil as opposed to national- and state-funded investment in Russia accounts for the seemingly irrational and undoubtedly vitriolic hostility exhibited by the western financial press to President Putin.” (p. 20)

        Are We the People beginning to see the light? The way awaits.
        “CHAPTER 15: ECONOMIC ALTERNATIVES” – “Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire…” by James Petras (2007, Clarity Press, Inc., Atlanta)

      2. ewmayer

        “In German” — well, maybe Google Translate thinks so. :) [Although simple copy-and-paste from a GT result would surely not have misspelled “trust” as “thrust”, so maybe you are attempting a reverse-Turing-test-style imitation of GT?]

        Better Umsetzung of the headline:

        Poll: Germans want greater independence from USA

        Big Brother bye-bye: According to a SPIEGEL poll a majority of Germans desire greater independence from the USA. Trust in the alliance partner has sunk, many hope for a closer relationship with Russia.

        1. ewmayer

          Sorry, “Übersetzung”. Being fluent I actually felt while translating like I was merely transcribing.

  2. Ned Ludd

    Frederick Douglass responds to his critics:

    But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, “It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, an denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed.” But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. […]

    At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

    Martin Luther King, Jr., who faced similar criticism, wrote the incisive Letter from Birmingham Jail as a rebuke to the “Call to Unity” clergymen.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Today’s media is very effective at promoting an edgy, fake left, which displaces any real dissidents or critics of power. These soi-disant radicals are libertarians playing to a liberal crowd, criticizing the worst-behaved members of the elite while finding ways to protect and justify the system as a whole. Vice, the news site co-owned by Rupert Murdoch, publishes a lot of these fakes, such as Molly Crabapple.

        I do have a genuine respect for the old, evil robber barons. At least, they built real things, they built railroads, they built steel mills. And then, they took all of their ill-gotten and exploitive gains, and they built libraries, and places that looked like cathedrals.

        The new left – finding a way to sell 1800’s despotic capitalism to today’s youth. “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.” – Jay Gould, one of the old-fashioned, wealthy railroad builders that Crabapple has such respect for.

        1. Patricia

          Molly Crabapple is an artist who found her chance through Occupy, a small businessperson who made it in this era. That encourages a libertarian mentality which she certainly has, but your quote is disingenuously selective; she doesn’t say that robber barons were fine, only that we know they were horrible, but they were less so than the banksters/corps we have today.

          Sweeping cynicism helps no one.

          1. Dakine

            It was not disingenuously selective. She’s a kooky kook libertarian, and so are most people of her generation.

          2. hunkerdown

            That’s as may be, but remember that she’s playing into a field prepped by hero stories and Christianity. She’s doing us[1] no service so long as she’s still promoting private philanthropy as any sort of amends for the company town and consequently succoring the ancien regime, the “old normal”.

            (Oh, and trish, hi down there, I think we can include major social networking as a proper member of the MSM by now, especially when they’re doing audience research.)

            [1] Whoever that happens to include at the moment. When consuming political content, I suggest construing each instance of the word in the way least favorable to the target audience’s interests.

          3. Synopticist

            On the contrary, sweeping cynicism toward faux-left libertarians who write for the MSM and cuddle up to democrats is extremely helpful.

            1. Ned Ludd

              David Mizner wrote: “For 3rd Anniversary of War in Syria, Molly Crabapple Turns Into a Liberal Hawk”.

              Taryn Fivek points out that Molly Crabapple’s “partner and room mate (Fred Harper, pictured) is quite literally an Army propagandist.”

              As Lily Tomlin said, “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”

          4. OIFVet

            Lesser evilism at its finest, TPTB sanctioned and approved of course, but given a seemingly dangerous and rebellious edge by the Occupy “credentials” of Crabapple. How radical. One couldn’t be cynical enough in this day and age.

            1. Patricia

              OMG, really OIFVet? This has nothing to do with lesser evilism! Nothing to do with foul Clinton “never let perfection be enemy of the good.”

              This has to do with proper quoting and offering fair criticism. Crabapple is not a nasty greedy creature (no CEO/banker/politician/MediaF-up) but part of some few people who are clear about the basic problems but have some (or many but not all) different answers to it. If we are not willing to work with fellow citizens in those areas where we can, we are truly sunk.

              Well, apparently we already are.

              But if we weren’t sunk, we might have also been glad of Crabapple’s art pieces. If we weren’t truly sunk, we might have understood that she is not good verbally because she’s visual, thus when we quoted her, we’d have listened to the whole damn thing with a bit of mercy:

              “…I think that form of capitalism, as awful, as horrible, as exploitive, as…you know…child labor-fueled, as you know murderous as it was, still definitely has a lot in favor…a lot to speak in it’s favor above the sort of capitalism of using financial instruments to suck things dry really quick….I’m not sure business students would like me for saying that, but that’s what I would say to them.”

              1. OIFVet

                Yes really Patricia, It is basically the same crap as those who would have us vote Democrat “because they are horrible too, but less horrible than the Republicans.” Same. Fucking. Thing. And Crabapple’s “genuine respect” for the robber barons that made “that form of capitalism, as awful, as horrible, as exploitive, as…you know…child labor-fueled, as you know murderous as it was” is beyond repulsive. Ditto her milquetoast article about her visit to Gitmo. And her support for the neolibercon project betrays her as either a fool or an active collaborator to the same people she ostensibly protested at Occupy.

                1. Patricia

                  I did not know she had an article on Gitmo. It was not part of Ned’s criticism. I’ve been out of action for a while with illness, and have just been creeping back under the news fountain. Where/when published, do you know? I would like to read it.

                    1. Patricia

                      Pics at Vice are ok, livelier than most court drawings, they must be system-approved, right? Can’t be political cartoons. Liked the guards–surprised they let that pass. Another –

                      Ah, on soundcloud:

                      OIFVet, would you mind telling me what you mean by “her support for the neolibercon project”?
                      So far, she just seems to me very young and energetic, half-formed.

                    2. OIFVet

                      You are focusing on the wrong element, it is the writing that is the problem. It is designed to make fauxgressives feel good about themselves by focusing their feelings onto the hapless military. No discussion whatsoever that it was and it still is the collective us that allows Gitmo’s continuing existence. No mention of the double cross that Obama did on her circle of admiring readers, and the failure of the latter to hold him accountable. Heaven forbid she should make them experience any cognitive discomfort by challenging their self-admiration for their innate goodness. Also no mention of the murders of Gitmo detainees, certainly no tough questions for her minders. Why, she did her job so well she was invited for a return visit!

                      As for her support for the neolibercon imperial project, see her war-hawk stance in support of US involvement in Syria, and her attack on the anti-imperial left in support of this involvement. She blames and name calls the antiwar left for resisting further involvement by the same people who broke the damned country in the first place, people who arm and train the very islamic terrorists we are supposed to be at war with. All because Asad stands in the way of some mighty powerful energy interests in the Middle East and in the US. Lord save us from the energetic efforts of half-formed Crabapples.

          5. Ned Ludd

            Crabapple has a “genuine respect for the old, evil robber barons”. Genuine respect. Does she also have a genuine respect for Southern plantation owners, for growing crops and building wonderful mansions?

            Crabapple is blithely indifferent to the ugly history of the 19ᵗʰ century: including the Pinkerton thugs who “used to bust strikes-often by busting heads”; the fraud committed against Native Americans to take their land; and the exploitation of Chinese workers.

            In June of 1867, two thousand Chinese railroad workers strike for a week, demanding an end to beatings, increased wages and work hours equal with whites. Central Pacific breaks the strike when they withhold food supplies to the Chinese, isolated as they were in the high mountains of the Sierras.

            In 1869, after digging 13 tunnels through solid granite in the Sierras, after losing more than a thousand of Chinese workers to snow avalanches and other hazards never mentioned in the labor contracts, the first transcontinental railroad is completed.

            But, hey, they built† things.

            † The workers were the ones who actually built the railroads and the steel mills, but Crabapple disregards them and instead praises the robber barons who exploited their labor and treated them like chattel.

            1. Patricia

              Why are you instead doubling/tripling down? Do you think I don’t know history? Did Crabapple say she thought robber baron era was bestest? Are you so rough-hewn in your thought processes that you cannot understand that she was comparing two monstrous eras and preferred the older one to make the point that we have it worse now, even though most USians don’t see it that way?

              I repeat, criticize her libertarianism, fine! Use ACCURATE quotations, offer up looks at her artwork, and make clear why libertarianism won’t work even for an artist such as Crabapple.

              1. Ned Ludd

                Which part of my quotation is inaccurate? The video is here.

                I do not have “genuine respect” for people who used brutality to make their fortunes off of the death and exploitation of others. And it is absurd to think that the oligarchs of the 19ᵗʰ century were somehow less cruel or better people than the financial oligarchs of today.

                1. Patricia

                  Here’s what preceded your snippet: “You should think about the companies that you’re working for as not just these things that you suck just as much money as possible out of for five years and then like you move onto the next one, leaving the current one worse and the world at large worse. Bur rather as institutions that you can build that actually can have a positive impact. I mean, I umm, I am a bit of as skeptical anarchic person who umm who just by being an entrepreneur is not the fondest of large companies [insert your bit].”

                  Here’s what followed your snippet: “…I think that form of capitalism, as awful, as horrible, as exploitive, as…you know…child labor-fueled, as you know murderous as it was, still definitely has a lot in favor…a lot to speak in it’s favor above the sort of capitalism of using financial instruments to suck things dry really quick….I’m not sure business students would like me for saying that, but that’s what I would say to them.”

                  1. Ned Ludd

                    Railroad expansion was fueled by financial speculation. It led to the Panic of 1873.

                    Her respectable robber barons were the beneficiaries of the financial speculation she so deplores.

          6. Patricia

            hunker, Synop, Ludd:

            Yeah, sure, criticize the way she clings to libertarian delusions when she “gets hers”, but quote her accurately.

            And also take the time to approve those art pieces of hers that embody much of what is written here daily. Setting up cardboard figures to shoot down in front of your crew is cynical and lacks integrity. Ned Ludd does the same to Taibbi.

            We are not writing, here, about bankers/CEOS/politicians who are across-the-board nasty but fellow citizens who are fairly clear and passionate about the problems but have many (not all) different answers.

            You can breathe the rarified air of your own purity or work to find common ground on basic issues. You choose.

            But either way, be accurate. Especially because you are that pure. Yes?

            1. Ned Ludd

              The quote starts here, at the 34 second mark.

              Please let me know which part I transcribed improperly.

              1. Patricia

                Yeah ok conflate a young visual artist with an establishment media f***up, whatever.

                But please, in your purity, quote completely and accurately.

                1. Ned Ludd

                  The link I provided for Ezra Klein is from 2004, back when he was just an obscure blogger at Pandagon. He was not born into the establishment media. However, liberal hawks such as Klein and Molly Crabapple end up getting higher perches in the press.

              2. Patricia

                And dammit, I didn’t say she was my ally. I said that we have some things in common with fellow citizens such as her, and we need to reach across together AT THOSE places.

                Your thinking is common as mud, just another form of exceptionalism. And this type of thought is a constant drain of energy on the left because the ideology isn’t exceptionalist. But on the right, which is proud of exceptionalism, it feeds and nourishes it. Thus the difference.


                1. OIFVet

                  Collaborating with the Vichy “left” is the source of the constant drain of energy on the left. I can reach out to a genuine article libertarian with whom I share, say, anti-war agenda. Reaching out to a fake, TPTB-approved “leftist” such as Crabapple can only undermine the genuine article. This is what the Third Way did, this is what Crabapple does.

                  1. Patricia

                    But she’s not “left” at all, she’s some version of libertarian.

                    I really do not understand, OIFVet.

                    There are different political viewpoints in my neighborhood, yet we work together on issues we hold in common. Yes, we argue and we don’t allow others to erase our differences, but we still get some stuff done. The only ones who don’t help are those who don’t give a crap and those who think getting involved is beneath them. And they make everything harder.

                    Crabapple’s artwork is a bridge for all—everyone who is active here enjoys them, across the political board.

                    Ah well. G’night.

                    1. OIFVet

                      A self-described “kinda anarchist”. Read up on what anarchism is, libertarianism descends from it but no libertarian would describe herself as “kinda anarchist.” Perhaps she is indeed so half-formed that she don’t know what the hell she is, except that which happens to further her career. I want nothing to do with such persons, especially given her attacks on the antiwar left.

        2. trish

          also, I think, there’s not enough desperation yet. people- thanks to the MSM functioning as neoliberal organ, that army of faux progressives, and the circuses, that together keep too many deaf, dumb, and doped.

  3. John

    “Germany Getting Ready To Divorce U.S. Ally”

    When NSA was caught spying on Germany I am sure they found a country that has great antipathy for the USA but has a budding empathy towards countries (ex. Russia) they can exploit via mercantilists means. They probably also found how Germany has exploited the EU apparatus for its own advantage at the expense of millions of fellow Europeans.

    Germany has enjoyed immense success at the expense of its partners, including the USA. The title of the article should read: U.S. To Get Ready To Divorce Non-Ally Germany

    A divorce from Germany should be highly desirable.

    1. susan the other

      Germany has been too expensive for us, and now we really can’t maintain our relationship any longer. So we want Germany to embrace Russia. It does make sense geographically. And it will keep the engine of Europe chugging away. It would cost us zillions of dollars block their way. Is it a coincidence that Ukraine blew up just now? Ukraine grows wheat (slightly radioactive wheat). Europe could use a bread basket to exploit. So Russia gives western Ukraine to the EU and then does big trade deals with them. It looks like chaos to us because it was designed that way. Just like the chaos in the Middle East. We’ll throw “Old Europe” under the bus, but we’ll fight for control of every last drop of Middle East oil.

      1. susan the other

        Russia doesn’t trust us much tho’. They just cut us off from access to the oil fields around their end of the Black Sea and the Caspian. They pretended they had huge overruns building the Olympic venue at Sochi. Right. And we just said OK you can have Crimea, but keep a low profile. When you look at everything that has happened in the last decade (and ignore the press) it looks choreographed. It’s probably more important for us to keep Russian oil at a higher price that Saudi oil. Plus for sure we want Russia’s oil and natgas to be depleted – so China, and now Europe. Whatever.

  4. trish

    re Whales as ecosystem engineers.

    That whales function as a buffer via nutrient pumping etc is interesting if completely unsurprising.

    The planetary ecosystems are complex systems involving an incredible richness of life existing in complex, intricately-interrelated, important ways. We devastate, blow away a part that took millions of years to evolve in a fraction of the time. Of course there are consequences. Consequences well beyond the tragic loss or sharp decline of a single species (or order, genus, whatever).

    It seems our species is the only one that doesn’t play an important role in our ecosystem other than destroyer.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Any closed ecosystem will suffer if a particular species becomes overrepresented. An aunt of mine once tried to create a self-sustaining environment in a large aquarium. She was diligent and studied her idea before trying to implement it. She spent years tweaking and starting over. She ended up buying food as an input, and a filter to clean up the waste.

      Balance is beyond our grasp, as the apex species. Too much nuance and too many subtleties in the complex interrelationships between organisms to be managed by us.

      1. trish

        closed ecosystem? don’t see what the earth’s ecosystem have to do with a fish tank. except in that we when we deplete, destroy, manipulate one component, there are of course repercussions.
        maybe I’m missing your point.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          If you can’t grasp the concept or the analogy, I can’t help you.

          We are a big, potentially (and naturally) self-sustaining fish tank, but we have tipped the balance.

          We don’t get inputs from outside our system, and we don’t deal with our toxic wastes by removing them from the system.

          You really don’t get the analogy?

          I’m glad I didn’t go with the 7th grade biology experiment of the closed jar with water and grass inside.

          1. trish

            I was just looking at your comment the wrong way.
            the tipping is so obvious to me -everywhere, every ecosystem- that I mistakenly “heard” an argument I get frequently from ignoramuses here in the south…

            1. ambrit

              I have found that backwoods types here in the Deep South at least, are becoming very aware of environmental degradation.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                Same up here. Especially since the backwoods are being targeted by global corps and their compradors for landfills and other destructive “development” because groaf/jawbz.

                1. ambrit

                  Dear Lambert;
                  The thing I’m beginning to hear around here is something to do with leaf brown off, and pine needle brown off, occurring at unusual times of the year, and in greater amounts than observed in the recent past. Local history here is dominated not by cotton plantations, but by timber tracts, clear cutting, and commercial selection for fast growing, soft wood pine trees for paper. Timber growing, harvesting and paper mills are the big industry in the backwoods. Paper mills? Well, once you’ve smelled one, you can guess the rest. Plus, what about all those years of uncontrolled releases of toxic sludge into the local rivers?
                  Don’t get me started about all the chemical spills caused by Hurricane Katrina! I personally suffered some ill effects from one such ‘dispersal’ of gunk from Port Bienville Ms. No one wants to talk about what was pulled back out into the Bay of Saint Louis from the Dupont Paint plant in De Lisle Ms. Or all the stuff stored in Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi Ms.
                  That experience is what has me convinced that people are turning a blind eye to one of the major problems we can expect from sea level rise; the removal and clean up of all the chemicals stored everywhere in the shoreline zones. What chemicals? How about, all of the underground gasoline storage tanks from each and every gasoline vending station world wide. If you have ever seen a creek or bayou into which any petroleum based product has been spilled, you know what I mean.
                  As for groaf/jawbz, who wants to bet the sociopaths presently at the apex of our system decide to sub the clean up program to the Yakuza? There’s an export “commodity” for Japan! (We’re going to be “Turning Japanese” in more ways than one!)

      2. susan the other

        Maybe she should have started from the ground up. She probably did. Research what kinds of bacteria her terrarium needed. And what they thrived on. Toss in some dead birds and some healthy poop.

      3. MtnLife

        One of the main issues with your aunt’s idea is scale. Small scale systems are notoriously difficult to regulate and are more susceptible to massive fluctuations in pH, temp, and so on. I’m having the same issue now in my aquaculture/ponics setup and I’m using an old pool with near 15000 gal capacity. It is, however, much more forgiving than even the largest standard fish tanks and is more about guiding the setup to where it needs to be and less manhandling of conditions. Think about how much space there is in the oceans dedicated to growing the massive base of the food pyramid vs trying to accomplish that on anything smaller than pond sized. I intend to put beehives over it to use the dead workers they push out as fish food but that is an outside input.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          I think that one problem was size, the other was expectations. Example: The first thing that grows in fertile water with ample sunlight seems to be algae. Can’t see through the glass of an aquarium when it’s covered with the stuff, and “Algae-Eaters” and snails don’t seem to be able to graze on it quickly enough. Multiply this by 100 other, similar little problems, and you get the idea.

          Anyway, this was in the ’60s, and my aunt is long gone. It was interesting and educational to watch her great experiment take place.

  5. trish

    re Let’s Just Pretend We Didn’t Offshore Manufacturing.

    So all those (virtual slave) laborers over in China might really be doppelgangers of our US manufacturing workers, the ones who might not have been displaced after all when the erosion of US manufacturing might not have actually occurred. wow, who’d of thought.

    1. Moneta

      It did permit the developed world to pretend that their per capita use of oil did not really increase during the last 4 decades…. just have other countries put those pesky numbers on their pseudo balanced sheets and voilà, le tour est joué!

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      There is no inflation as long as you don’t count things that people need to buy.

      A part-time, minimum wage “job” without benefits is the same as a full-time “job” with benefits.

      Any kind of “healthcare” insurance policy equals as “healthcare.”

      Borrowing money to “buy” something you will never own is a “sale.”

      And now manufacturing done in another country is US manufacturing.

      Having redefined inflation, job, “healthcare” and sale, they were bound to get around to manufacturing sooner or later.

      We truly have a “Goldilocks” economy–it’s all a fairy tale.

      1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

        Goes right along with “saving” money by spending less on sale items you don’t need.

    3. ex-PFC Chuck

      From the link:

      But the problem with this proposed redefinition is not merely that it offends common sense.

      To channel Bill Clinton, it depends on what the meaning of “common sense” is. If it’s “common sense” to keep giving the 99% the mushroom treatment (keep ’em in the dark and feed ’em s$#t) it makes perfect “common sense.” Or maybe we should coin the new phrase “conning sense.”

      1. hunkerdown

        Whose sense is so common? Break “common sense” in two and you’ll see it just means “shared opinion”. This is just one very common (in the sense of prevalence) way conformity is sold as wisdom.

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          It’s common sense that the stove is hot, and that we teach our children so. Conformity can be very helpful. The ‘wisdom of crowds” OTOH . . .

    1. Carolinian

      Interesting. But will the “Frankentrees” lead to “Frankensquirrels”?

      I would like to see the salvation of the Hemlocks. They are wonderful deep forest trees.

      1. Paul Niemi

        When I was starting to look up the Hemlocks, I ran into this other story. Apparently some lawmakers in the North Carolina Legislature have a bill to outlaw the publication of aerial photographs taken over the state. It seems there are local farmers who don’t want environmentalists flying over and taking pictures of what they are doing on their farms and then publicizing the pics on activist blogs and so forth. It begs the question: Just what are those farmers doing that they don’t want the public to see? Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!

        1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

          I believe this treachery is becoming widespread. I think it’s called an “Ag-Gag.”

          1. Paul Niemi

            I couldn’t speculate about motives for ag gags in the Carolinas, but I learned a couple things today. In the Southern Appalachian forests, the Hemlock trees are being attacked by the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, a foreign invasive insect. As the trees die, they are replaced by other species, such as the Sweet Birch and the Rhododendron. This concerns foresters in that the leaf water transpiration rates will be changed, thus resulting in lower stream flows in the Summer and higher stream flows in the Winter. It is unclear to me if there exists any effective means at this time to confront this pest. What I also learned is that sustainable agriculture in the form of smaller, diversified farms, the kind of farms I remember from childhood, is making a comeback in the Carolinas. Also, many of these farms are building guest quarters for “farm stays” for people escaping to the countryside on vacation. I think that is a delightful idea, and I don’t know why more of the family farmers I used to know didn’t think of that years ago. Most either got big or got out, and agriculture has not been the same and it hasn’t been a good thing.

            1. Vatch

              The motive for Ag-Gags is simple. The conditions on factory farms are terrible, and the farm corporations don’t want people to know about it. So they get their stooges in the legislatures to pass Ag-Gag laws. Problem solved.

              1. Paul Niemi

                It is a long, complicated, contentious topic, but it is reasonably safe to adopt the posture that the factory farms are not, in fact, sustainable. They are not sustainable for reasons well know for years. Perhaps the last persons to realize that these facilities are not sustainable will be the bankers that have financed them. I grew up on a dairy farm, and I am familiar with what farm animals need to live healthy lives. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PEDv) is just the beginning of public awareness that factory farms represent an unsatisfactory and dangerous environment for raising farm animals for many reasons, reasons which will be fully explicated in coming months and years.

    1. James Levy

      Oy vey, it’s the culture, stupid. Not everything is related to our genes (which are anyway so much more plastic and interactive with their environment than thinkers like Pinker want them to be). I was either a student, a graduate student, or a university teacher for 30 years. I’ve seen the beast close-up. People write the way they do because 1) they didn’t take much writing or literature as undergrads and therefore have few models of good writing in their heads, 2) you get points in grad school for using the jargon and sounding serious and objective, not for writing clearly or elegantly, 3) you are taught to address “the discourse”, not real people. I went to Britain and got my Ph.D. in Wales. There, I was encouraged to write clearly and with an educated audience of non-experts in mind. The sad fact is that such writing makes you sound less convincing to other experts. It also makes your work more succinct, which hurts, as a 25 page article always impresses American academics more than a 12 pager does, even if you say as much or more that is new and interesting in the 12 pager. Somehow, if you don’t bore the shit out of people with a dull, comprehensive review of the literature with nods (or in some fields, genuflections) in all the right directions using all the right buzz terms before you get to anything remotely new or interesting you are not being a serious scholar.

      1. JTFaraday

        Yeah, consider that Hannah Arendt is one of the most cited “theorists” within the humanities and social sciences, but you seriously have to wonder if she would even get away with writing that way within academia today.

        Bizarre, if you think about it.

  6. Jim Haygood

    John Mauldin on the YelleBubble:

    On July 2, two days after the BIS report [cautioning against raising rates ‘too slowly and too late’], Janet Yellen took the stage at the IMF conference and basically said, “Kiss my grits.” Mario Draghi piled on the next day, as if to reemphasize that the leading central bankers of the world are simply not going to pay any attention to increasing financial instability risk.

    The next crisis is shaping up to look a lot like the last one. The intense drive for yield is driving down interest rates and volatility, pushing up assets of all kinds, and setting us up for the same song, second verse of the 2008 crisis.

    In the corporate credit markets, covenant-lite loans now represent half of all corporate bonds outstanding, according to Barclays. And in ABS land, the spread between AAA and subprime auto loans is the narrowest since 2007.

    I don’t know what the trigger for the next debt crisis will be, but whatever it is, it will result in an even deeper liquidity crisis than we saw in ’08.


    Later this decade, the collapse of Bubble III will destroy many defined-benefit pension plans. Calpers, for instance, which clings to the delusional belief that it is going to earn 7.5% on its assets.

    Federal Reserve bubble blowing is nothing but gratuitous financial vandalism. They are drunken PhD rock stars, heaving hotel furniture through the windows as they scream ‘ZIRP me up, Scotty. There’s no intelligent life down here! Mwa ha ha ha!

    To no one’s surprise, J-Yelzebub is a product of Yale, which also gave us the Clintons and the Bushes. How’s that elite rule workin’ out for us, huh?

    1. susan the other

      I like Yellen for her financial dovishness and I love her when she tells it like it is. She knows the truth about the economy and the real unemployment stats; and the truth about all the other GDPs of the world. And she is undoubtedly aware of the expensive implications of global warming. The thing is, when Obama became our dear leader he promised to do an accurate budget. The budget is a little understated tho’ because nobody really adds up what we spend every year on the military, and certainly not what we began spending since 2002. Not too many people are willing to say that a full trillion dollars a year, year after year for 12 years is OK, if we have to we will just raise interest rates. I mean really. Our national debt does not reflect profligate social entitlements at all. It represents all our war adventures since Little George. Screw the BIS.

    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Thank you for this comment and the link to John Mauldin’s post, Jim Haygood.

      “Macroprudential” regulation?… (Luv their ongoing inventions of policy language) Based on Mauldin’s observations, this would evidently not be your father’s “prudent regulation”, although improved regulation and increasing interest rates are not mutually exclusive policies. Central banks, together with respective government regulatory agencies, can do both concurrently, of course.

      But as the BIS observed, it’s late in the cycle. So, I wonder to what extent the BIS is setting the stage for cover when the lid finally blows of this latest Central Bank-fueled asset bubble?

      Are we to be cast into Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day”, into a series of endlessly repeating asset bubbles followed by collapse?

      What is to become of monetary policies, which do have some utility, and perhaps even the Fed itself, should it again be profoundly discredited?

      And why are fiscal policy solutions being so deliberately and studiously ignored? I am reminded of the article by Mario Seccareccia on this blog late last November in the wake of Larry Summers’ Nov 8, 2013 speech to the IMF favoring a “recurring asset bubbles” economy:

      … “[I]if Summers et al., are really worried about secular stagnation and truly want to kick-start the economy, what is needed is an expansionary Keynesian fiscal policy of massive public investment, not as a temporary measure (as partly happened during the financial crisis with the disjointed implementation of fiscal stimulus packages internationally), but as a long-term measure that would sustain aggregate demand in the long term. This measure will support not only employment growth in more well-paying and highly skilled jobs, but also long-term productivity growth, thereby encouraging private investment as well.”

      1. susan the other

        Thanks for this info. I noticed about 6 months ago, in an accounting of the latest military budget, that a new category of expenses was included: Nuclear cleanup work.

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          Thank you for that information, Susan. I hope the funds are being put to the use that was specified. If so and in an effective manner, that is encouraging.

            1. Chauncey Gardiner

              I would hope not, Ambrit. Like you, I read news reports of yakuza involvement in the Fukushima clean-up efforts some months ago. Likewise, I hope the budget line item Susan mentioned isn’t merely an accounting reserve established after the fact to compensate U.S. sailors who were reportedly involved in the Fukushima effort and are reported to have suffered adverse health effects as a result, although I hope they are compensated as best we are able to do so.

              As Susan pointed out yesterday, the situation at Fukushima appears t/b a very serious matter.

              1. ambrit

                Mr. Gardiner;
                I hadn’t thought of the sailors on the Navy ships caught in the radioactive snowstorm. Who will compensate the West Coast? Fukushima is evidently not serious enough for the operator of the Diablo Canyon atomic plant on the California shoreline to decide to close it down. PG&E applied in 2009 for a twenty year extension of the facilities operating permit. Notwithstanding that it sits directly over one fault zone, and adjacent to the San Andreas fault zone, PG&E seems to be moving towards twenty more years of atomic fission at Diablo Canyon.
                The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Facility was chosen for shut down in 2013. However, Southern California Edison, the primary stakeholder in the plant said that: “Actual decommissioning will take many years until completion.” Even when they are on their way out, Atomic Plants will be an issue for years to come. “The gift that keeps on giving.”

      2. Doug Terpstra

        Manifestly sensible policy. Studious avoidance of such common sense makes it clear that the architects of disaster capitalism are not intent on kick-starting this economy. What is their ulterior agenda?

        1. ambrit

          Mr. Terpstra;
          I think that you give them too much credit. They are displaying an all too common trait, short term thinking. About the only thing they might be kicking is their heels in delight when they get their next bonus checks.

  7. Banger

    There are two interesting articles in the WaPost today. One concerns veterans who were interviewed in Afghanistan, by name, about how they felt about the apparent disintegration of Iraq and it was completely bogus because servicemen are not allowed to speak freely so why bother? The second was more interesting and, written fairly well, by Aly Khedery, called “Why we stuck with Maliki and lost Iraq.” In it Khedery, who hung around in Iraq for almost the life of that war gives us an interesting insight into the thinking of policy makers in Iraq—I won’t comment on the substance other than say that he warms up the “we did the right thing” and, gosh, somehow it didn’t turn out right because Maliki fell in love with power etc. and it’s all his fault for not fulfilling the sacrifices Americans made in Iraq and blah, blah. But if you read it carefully and know how to read propaganda it becomes more interesting–and I leave that to you.

    Norman Mailer quipped once that the tragic flaw of Americans was that on all sides of any issues Americans believe they are doing the right thing. I will put it another way–Americans will believe anything if it puts them and their motivations in the light of righteousness. Most people who supported, fought and maintained the Iraq War were of the following three classes: 1) self-deluded “patriots” who “believed” in a mission that was impossible, illegal and immoral from the start–they had to believe because they wanted to fight and needed a justification; 2) the usual Star Wars’ cafe of mercenaries, hustlers, criminals, con artists and so on that gravitate to any war but this one, due to the large number of the self-deluded, was particularly juicy; and 3) the class of professionals who feel their job is to accomplish what is directly in front of them because thinking deeply on an intellectual or moral level is just, well, plain un-American.

    Iraq displayed all the worse features of American Imperialism due to the dominance of the above-referenced types. The pattern was set in Vietnam and has continued in every major intervention since then. The Vietnam War, Afghan War, and Iraq War are all crimes against humanity and every single one violated key provisions of the Geneva Conventions on war. Many of the main strategies featured terror-tactics. In Vietnam free-fire zones, terror bombing, frequent use of torture, and the Phoenix Program (assassinating village elders and others who were considered unfriendly to the U.S. war-effort). In Afghanistan pretty much the same thing though not as frequent a use of torture and a bit more surgical in their version of the Phoenix Program. In Iraq the situation was as bad or worse than Vietnam but more use of strategic bombing to terrorize the people starting with “shock and awe” tactics and continuing with more sophisticated methods learned from the Israelis.

    If these nasty methods had a result that actually created some kind of civil society in those countries that really did accomplish “nation building” then I would say, still bad, but at least Americans are learning to be good imperialists. But, instead, these wars are, ultimately, being fought just to fight them–there is no over-arching strategy, no careful and considered policy but just chaos and more chaos–why? Because thinking strategically and realistically seems to have no cash-value in Washington other than in inside the Beltway plots and conspiracies a la House of Cards.

    Which brings me to the F-35, the ultimate symbol of what the American military is acutally all about–i.e., corruption. The plane, appears to be worse than useless and, at every step, critics said so yet the project marches on. Many experts are adamant that in a head to head match-up between Russia’s latest fighters and the combo of F-22 and F-35 (they are supposed to be used together) would lead to the complete defeat of the American jets. At all times American jets have been superior to Russian fighters until this new generation. F-16 were the last great fighter-jet, it seems. At any rate, it is now nakedly obvious that the whole war machine is built not for defense/offense but for contractors, Congresspeople, and Pentagon officials (after they leave the Pentagon) to make sh!tloads of money. This is why the American Empire is unsustainable and we are now ten to twenty years away from loss of “full-spectrum” dominance at least in the air.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “Norman Mailer quipped once that the tragic flaw of Americans was that on all sides of any issues Americans believe they are doing the right thing. “

      Not to quibble with Mailer, but more insightful, perhaps, would have been a quip to the effect that “on all sides of ANY issues Americans believe they have the RIGHT to DO the THING.”

      Such insight would, by the way, have rendered the rest of your commentary unnecessary.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Please, let’s give credit where credit is due. Page 8 of this report lists the 39 distinguished KongressKlowns who comprise the Joint Strike Fighter Caucus 2014:

      ‘Death to the middle class!’ as they chant at the opening of their caucus meetings (or should).

    3. ex-PFC Chuck

      Good post, Banger, although I take issue with one point as would, I believe, still-active members of the fighter mafia such as Pierre Sprey and Chuck Spinney:

      At all times American jets have been superior to Russian fighters until this new generation.

      Prior to the deployment of the F-16 the American advantage was not because of superior aircraft but because of the superior pilot training made possible by John Boyd’s development of the Energy Maneuverability Theory. During the late ’60s Boyd and led some associates in the development and running (on then-expensive, bootlegged computer time) of a program based on EMT to evaluate fighter aircraft. The results consistently showed US fighters to be inferior to their Soviet counterparts. Although Boyd had a few attentive ears in high places the bulk of the USAF establishment was in “I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you” mode. Thus, for not the only time in his active duty career, Boyd soon found himself being simultaneously considered for commendation and court martial. The F-16 would never have existed if it weren’t for Boyd. He led his handful of allies in almost literally forcing the program down the throats of a kicking and screaming Air Force. By that time he had realized that the notion of the OODA loop, which he developed as a systematic analysis of air combat, was equally applicable to bureaucratic warfare and the brass never knew what hit them. Sadly the service now takes steps to make sure that such independent thinkers don’t make it very high on the career ladder.

        1. James Levy

          It’s a complex question why American fighter pilots tend to be so good. Part of it is the huge amount of time and money lavished on their training. But part of it is that America produces and identifies a disproportionate number of men who are more comfortable killing and/or less afraid to get killed. Analysis of dog fights in WWI and WWII proved conclusively that 5% of the pilots were responsible for 80% of the kills. Most men are just trying to survive up there, but a few are focused on killing the other guy. America seems to either produce or successfully identify and train (or both) a higher proportion of such killers. How and why would make a hell of a study, but I’m not holding my breath to see it because no one wants to know such unpalatable information (does anyone in this country want to admit that our heroes are so heroic because they are highly effective cold blooded killers?).

      1. hunkerdown

        Thank you so much for bring up the OODA loopS. The MSM could be said to be the OO stages of civil society’s decision loops, which goes a long way toward explaining why the outcomes of civil society’s DA stages seem to disproportionately benefit those politically closer to the MSM.

    4. fresno dan

      nice analysis, Banger.

      A little added cynicism:

      “The conditions took a toll on Takei. As a teenager, he had to reconcile what he was taught in school — about the land of freedom, civil liberties, and other principles of America’s founding — with his childhood experiences. Often, Takei argued with his father.
      “He was the one that suffered the most under those conditions of imprisonment, and yet he understood American democracy,” Takei said. “He told me that our democracy is a people’s democracy, and it can be as great as the people can be, but it is also as fallible as people are.”

      A nice little story, but a great example of exactly how sentimentality and emotional appeals, in excusing the bad conduct and lack of adherence to the republic’s principals, shows exactly how such a travesty comes about. (maybe the demos can be excused, but the “leaders” were abhorrent)
      One can see this very same lack of deep thinking, to give up fundamental rights and freedoms for protection against minor dangers, extolled by scoundrels for their own advancement and profit….

      1. hunkerdown

        … such as Takei’s own toe-dipping into shilling for other varieties of Democratic identity politics? Well played!

      2. Banger

        I think Takei, for all his sufferings was brought up in a cohesive culture that, in the end, accepted him. There was still, basically, Constitutional rule (internment in a real-war as opposed to a largely imaginary war is understandable though still wrong) which we no longer have.

    5. Yonatan

      Here is an impressive photograph of an F-35 taken doing a vertical takeoff.

      Most high performance military fighters have two engines. The F-35 only has one. The F-104 was another US single engined fighter. It was known as the ‘widow maker’. Fortunately the F-35 has a Martin-Baker ejector seat, possibly its only reliable component.

  8. fosforos

    It is shocking that an article on the “American Revolution” has not a word about what to the “patriots” were its two decisive causes: slavery and the colonizers’ westward imperial expansion drive. It was the British law recognizing the rights of the American peoples west of the Alleghanies and prohibiting settlement in American lands–in other words, prohibiting what was already envisioned as the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the American peoples–that was the central grievance uniting the settlers North and South, whether or not they personally owned African slaves. Moreover, anti-slavery sentiment was growing rapidly in Britain and its abolition by parliament had become a matter only of time. And even before that legal abolition, were it to have been much delayed, the vast expanse of free America open to “runaway” slaves would have quickly made the whole institution quite unviable economically. So all you “patriots” get used to the truth: this nation was founded on slavery and genocide and fraudulent rhetoric about “liberty.” It still awaits refoundation.

    1. FederalismForever

      @fosforos. Nonsense. In 1776, the abolition movement in Britain had barely started. By contrast, numerous colonies in New England had already tried to ban the slave trade (or “man-stealing”) only to have these laws overridden by the British Crown. The first abolitionist society was formed in Pennsylvania in 1775.

      But even more damaging to your ill-informed diatribe is the fact that 7 of the 13 colonies enacted laws to ban slavery shortly after Independence. Tens of thousands of slaves in the northern colonies were freed as a result. Slavery was a hotly debated topic during the Constitutional convention, with many speaking against it, or even (in some cases) refusing to endorse the Constitution unless it completely banned slavery. Unfortunately, terrible comprises were made and the “three-fifths” clause and fugitive slave clause each made it into the original Constitution. However, the Constitution did at least ban the slave trade after 1808.

      If you really want to know why the American Revolution was fought, do some research into why Alexander Hamilton, Marquis de Lafayette, Tadeusz Kosciuszko and John Laurens fought alongside George Washington throughout the Revolutionary War.

  9. shtove

    The surveillance articles (including healthcare) are interesting.

    This from the Washington Post link on the NSA:

    There are many ways to be swept up incidentally in surveillance aimed at a valid foreign target. Some of those in the Snowden archive were monitored because they interacted directly with a target, but others had more-tenuous links.
    If a target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, regardless of subject, as well as every person who simply “lurked,” reading passively what other people wrote.
    “1 target, 38 others on there,” one analyst wrote. She collected data on them all.

    1. Banger

      Question is what is a “valid’ foreign target? When the motivation of the security services (of all countries in my view) is always questionable. How do we know the NSA or any other entity is indeed acting on our behalf? I submit to you we don’t know for sure–my own sense is that the NSA is not acting in our collective interest.

    1. hunkerdown

      As troublesome as a well-insured business fire, I’m sure. Mission Accomplished as Moot!

    1. fresno dan

      Seems like a good idea to me. Of course, my idea to get Arabia into the 21st century when I was in the air force and stationed at the NSA was to paradrop DVD players with XXX rated lesbian videos. Later, we would airlift in whiskey and beer….
      Eventually, our nefarious plans for conquest would reach their penultimate with the zero down home mortgage (it was never intended to be used on our OWN PEOPLE!!!)

    2. flora

      ha. Reminds me of the CIA’s zany idea to get Castro’s beard to fall out by using a depilatory.

  10. Jim Haygood

    John Mauldin takes apart the Obamacare Jobs Paradise:

    Some of us pointed out, when the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was being debated way back in 2010, that the bill would result in an extraordinarily large number of temporary and part-time workers. We were called delusional and told we were just using that argument to oppose the ACA.

    It turns out, Mr. Kurgman et al., that we were right. An unintended consequence of the ACA is a dramatic increase in part-time employment, especially among young people. There is no disputing this, unless you are willing to ignore the clear data from the BLS.

    1. Carolinian

      Perhaps the American system of health insurance through your employer is what doesn’t make sense. And changing to single payer would also solve the Hobby Lobby problem. In a way I agree with Hobby Lobby’s owners. Forcing private businesses to provide these services, controversial or not, is just the government evading its responsibilities.

      Obiecare shows the foolishness of incrementalism. And it isn’t just Krugman. Dean Baker, unfortunately, is also on board with the Rube Goldberg arrangement.

  11. Sluggeaux

    Thanks for posting the “PayPal Mafia” and the “Truth About Tinder and Women” pieces in perfect juxtaposition. Between 1981 and 2001 my wife was in the middle of the Silicon Valley start-up scene. Most readers would recognize the name of one of the companies she worked at, a company supposedly started by a couple of Palo Alto High School pals where she was Employee #16 and responsible for the original marketing that helped their product to be widely adopted.

    From the beginning however, that little company had “big name money” in the background and the product was simply piggy-backed off of someone else’s brilliant engineering — a secret kept to this day. The mythologization of Silicon Valley start-ups never ceases to amaze me. Silicon Valley is at its core a Ponzi, with big money seeking out greedy little geeks writing plug-ins, who will after the fact proclaim their “genius” if the money people pick their same-as-a-hundred-other-schemes to inflate into a nice little IPO bubble for the suits to skim.

  12. Vatch

    Thanks for the link “Virus Plagues the Pork Industry, and Environmentalists”. This is yet another demonstration of just how bad factory farming is in the U.S. CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) need to be banned completely. When huge numbers of animals are crammed together in very close proximity, epidemics are inevitable. And the dangerous over-use of agricultural antibiotics won’t even help in these cases, since the disease is caused by a virus.

    The discussion of “Ag-Gag” laws in the article is important. These laws are clear violations of the First Amendment, but we can be pretty darn sure that if the U.S. Supreme Court ever rules on them, they’ll be upheld by a 5-4 vote.

  13. flora

    Re: Israel does not want peace – Haaretz

    “The Israeli longing for peace seemingly died about a decade ago, after the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000, “

    Wonder if that’s why WaPo editorials are undermining Clinton. “She’s too experienced. “ “Can she reinvent herself ?“ “ She’s made too much money” etc.

    (note: I’m not a DLC fan and therefore not a Clinton fan but I think these WaPo editorials are disingenuous.)

    1. Banger

      The chance for a peaceful solution benefiting both sides was dead before 2000–that was just the official end of the peace process there–all “efforts” since then were outrageous frauds. The Oslo Accords were the best chance–both sides were not “good” in fulfilling their side of the bargain but it was Clinton who refused to penalize the Israelis (of course he couldn’t since Israel intelligence had infiltrated all levels of government) for their settlement policies which are the direct attempt to create “Greater Israel” which, I guess, U.S. policy-makers have signed off on–the two-state solution is dead–there will be one Israeli State and a “Palestine” which will fulfill the role of Helots to the military state of Israel.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Neither Palestine nor Islam is an existential threat to Israel. Peace is. Just as peace, not “terrorism,” is the real existential threat to America.

        Without perpetual war, where military might and that of “allies” does all the talking, ideas, principles and a country’s adherence to its stated beliefs would be on full display. No bombs or drones or close air support to drown out the discrepancies.

        Neither the US nor Israel could stand up to that kind of scrutiny. Peace is the only option that can never be on the table. It would destroy both Israel and the US in a heartbeat.

    2. Cynthia

      The Israelis are for piece. They want a piece of Lebanon, a piece of Syria, a piece of Iraq, a piece of Jordan, a piece of Egypt, and of course, all of Palestine. They want all this piece on the backs and blood of the American taxpayer.


      1. Doug Terpstra

        Haaretz states the blindingly obvious … after a mere sixty years of investigative journalism. Blind squirrels find more acorns and broken clocks are more often accurate. It’s been abundantly clear for many decades that the Scionists’ messianic obsession with Eretz Israel, the recreation of pre-Babylonian borders, is non-negotiable. Still, it is something of a breakthrough. Who knows, maybe Haaretz will in time even conclude that Israel deliberately exploits and incites anti-Semitism in order to perpetuate its occupation of concentration camps and the lands of others. It could happen.

  14. different clue

    I got a Krogers loyalty card years ago. I filled out the form with a false name and a false address. I just wanted the card for the discounts while in the physical store. Also, I only pay cash.

  15. different clue

    Since our program here at work is now broken and my comments no longer nest, might I just say in reply to Cynthia’s comment way upthread about how Ocare is crapifying the quality of medical care . . . . this could well have been the intent right from the start, in order to kill people before they live long enough to collect Social Security.

  16. rich

    Accountant Conaway Drops Congressional Junkets from Annual Disclosure

    The Standard Times reported:

    The House Ethics Committee, in a manner so quiet as to immediately invite deserved suspicion, has scrapped a requirement that lawmakers report privately funded trips — a euphemism for “junkets” — on their annual financial reports.

    San Angelo’s Congressman Mike Conaway, CPA, chairs the House Ethics Committee. Why would an accountant not want vital cost information recorded for the public to easily see? That’s what the Ethics Committee did under Conaway;s leadership.

    The committee dropped the requirement that members of Congress report the cost of free trips provided by lobbyists and high dollar supporters in their annual financial disclosure.

    A record-low seven percent of Americans said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress

    I wasn’t sure how Congress could fall any further in the eyes of the American people, but CPA Mike Conaway may have found a way.

  17. gonzomarx

    a couple of illustrative things happened this morning.
    On the Andrew Marr show in the 1st segment, Norman Tebbit was 1 of the guests reviewing the Sunday papers, during a discussion on the reports of 114 possibly relevant files on child abuse committed by MPs in the 1980s have gone missing from government records, he says this
    “At that time I think most people would have thought that the establishment, the system, was to be protected and if a few things had gone wrong here and there that it was more important to protect the system than to delve too far into it. “That view, I think, was wrong then and it is spectacularly shown to be wrong because the abuses have grown.” Asked if he thought there had been a “big political cover-up” at the time, he said: “I think there may well have been. But it was almost unconscious. It was the thing that people did at that time.”

    now watching this I yelled at the TV (a habit my partner barely tolerates) well he should know as he was a Minster, Chairman of the Party and 1 of Thatcher’s BFFs and sat back to waiting for the answer to my question that Mr Marr would surely ask….but question came there none!
    aside from the actual grim story 2 things came to mind.
    1) nice to hear the unwritten rule spoken out aloud about the protection of the system by whose well placed within the system
    2) while Marr’s show is normally just about his fellatio of his guest this was a gob smackingly lack of journalism, which is known by all concerned as the iplayer page for this mornings show displays “this content doesn’t seem to be working please try again later”

    rumours and the odd story around this have been bubbling and swirling about for a while and maybe soon break. maybe this is why Savile was untouchable

    Edwardian house at heart of a long-simmering sex scandal

    A senior Tory urged me not to name living politicians over sex abuse

    Home Office ‘child abuse cover-up’: Michael Gove rules out public inquiry into claims of paedophile politicians at Westminster

    Westminster paedophile ring allegations: timeline

  18. gonzomarx

    couple of illustrative things happened this morning.
    On the Andrew Marr show in the 1st segment, Norman Tebbit was 1 of the guests reviewing the Sunday papers, during a discussion on the reports of 114 possibly relevant files on child abuse committed by MPs in the 1980s have gone missing from government records, he says this
    “At that time I think most people would have thought that the establishment, the system, was to be protected and if a few things had gone wrong here and there that it was more important to protect the system than to delve too far into it. “That view, I think, was wrong then and it is spectacularly shown to be wrong because the abuses have grown.” Asked if he thought there had been a “big political cover-up” at the time, he said: “I think there may well have been. But it was almost unconscious. It was the thing that people did at that time.”

    now watching this I yelled at the TV (a habit my partner barely tolerates) well he should know as he was a Minster, Chairman of the Party and 1 of Thatcher’s BFFs and sat back to waiting for the answer to my question that Mr Marr would surely ask….but question came there none!
    aside from the actual grim story 2 things came to mind.
    1) nice to hear the unwritten rule spoken out aloud about the protection of the system by whose well placed within the system
    2) while Marr’s show is normally just about his fellatio of his guest this was a gob smackingly lack of journalism, which is known by all concerned as the iplayer page for this mornings show displays “this content doesn’t seem to be working please try again later”

    rumours and the odd story around this have been bubbling and swirling about for a while and maybe soon break. maybe this is why Savile was untouchable

    A senior Tory urged me not to name living politicians over sex abuse

    Home Office ‘child abuse cover-up’: Michael Gove rules out public inquiry into claims of paedophile politicians at Westminster

    Westminster paedophile ring allegations: timeline

    1. Synopticist

      Aye, there’s some very murky stuff going on there, which is finally, slowly, agonisingly being dragged into the light. There have been some MPs on the case who won’t let go, including Tom Watson, who was instrumental in getting the Murdoch bugging story out.

      I heard those very same rumours about the senior tory grandee literally a couple of decades ago.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Fukashima is unsafe, at any temperature.

      I don’t think the world knows how bad this is. Maybe I’m being a pessimist, but it doesn’t come naturally. In a scenario with unknown quantities and factors, experience, prudence, and pragmatism lead me to assume the worst.

  19. Propertius

    Given that the average life expectancy in 18th Century America was barely 35 years, I fail to see why anyone would be surprised that so many of the Founders were in their 20s.

  20. shtove

    I’m not American, so I assume you are a threat to me. And to yourself.

    Seriously, what the fuck has gone wrong with you lot? America used to be a good example to everyone, now it’s just weird and nasty.

    1. Johann Sebastian Schminson

      Reagan happened to us — the same way Thatcher happened to y’all.

      Granted, we’re No. 1 (in the industrialized world), when it comes to weird and nasty.

      Then again, we have a much shorter and compressed history (more narrative than history, actually), and it’s very easy to get our über-religious/gun-toting/redneck/misogynist/racist/xenophobic/science-hating/intellectually stunted contingent to get “patriotic” (to the point of openly calling for the overthrow of government, with no alternative offered) and emotionally twerked-up about it.

  21. shtove

    Historical life expectancy is three score years and ten. If you haven’t figured out the bull newspaper stories about 35 years etc you’re a bit thick.

  22. Johann Sebastian Schminson

    Depends on how you define “life expectancy.”

    “. . . the life expectancy generally quoted is the at birth number, which is an average that includes all the babies that die before their first year of life as well as people that die from disease and war. The genetics of humans and rate of aging were no different in pre-industrial societies than today, but people frequently died young because of untreatable diseases, accidents, and malnutrition. Many women did not survive childbirth, and individuals who reached old age were likely to succumb quickly to health problems.

    It can be argued that it is better to compare life expectancies of the period after childhood to get a better handle on life span.[75] Life expectancy can change dramatically after childhood, as is demonstrated by the Roman Life Expectancy table where at birth the life expectancy was 21 but by the age of 5 it jumped to 42. Studies like Plymouth Plantation; “Dead at Forty” and Life Expectancy by Age, 1850–2004 similarly show a dramatic increase in life expectancy once adulthood was reached.”

  23. Nick Smith

    Dear Yves, it’s so easy to mock conservatives and look down upon them with an air of superiority for their rejection of the obvious supported by science – say, that the planet is warming. However, recently the left, both in the US and Europe, has developed a denialist addiction of their own, and it is related to the crisis in Ukraine. The left stubbornly fails to accept some very basic facts: (a) Ukraine is not run by fascists and neo-nazis in whatever form and fashion, (b) what we are witnessing in Ukraine is not a popular uprising but a guerrilla warfare orchestrated by the Kremlin and led by Russian citizens with ties to the Russian secret services and oligarchs while locals are used simply as cannon fodder, (c) current Russian leader is a Frankenstein child of the failed US necon and US/Russian neoliberal policies towards Russia and inside Russia; those political failures have continuously fueled the crisis in Ukraine. I consider a wide audience of Naked Capitalism to be educated, knowledgeable and decent. However, most of them do not speak Russian or Ukrainian, and we can’t expect them to be experts on Russia or Ukraine. Please do not disorient them with at times totally bizarre coverage of the crisis in Ukraine (the latest contribution to that coverage is a totally faked Russia Today report regarding RAND study which allegedly advocates establishment of internment camps in Ukraine).

  24. Yonatan

    Ukraine calls capture of key pro-Russian rebel stronghold ‘start of a turning point’

    The Ukrainian army, after using white phosphorus shells, flechette weapons, cluster bombs and high explosives against civilian targets, manages to plant a flag on top of undefended building. A great photo op and medals all round!

    Now they are running ‘filtration’ camps to sort out the remaining civilian male population.

  25. Yonatan

    “Israel does not want peace”

    Succinct, accurate, truthful – a perfect summary.

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