Links 9/17/14

Portraits of the adorable creatures of the night New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)

Don’t shop at Urban Outfitters. Their ‘Depression’ shirt is latest controversy Guardian (Chuck L). I must to not getting this. The assumption is that the shirt is about psychological depression, as opposed to the economic type, or say, a mere physical depression, like a hollowing out in a surface. The reactions look like a classic case of projection, or maybe free floating anger in search of pop culture objects. And even if it IS about psychological depression, can’t one argue that blazing it on a nice looking shirt destigmatizes it?

Scientists reset human stem cells to earliest developmental state University of Cambridge

The MOOC Revolution That Wasn’t TechCrunch (furzy mouse)

Smart chopsticks to detect Chinese food gone bad? Why not, says Baidu Tech Times. Lambert: “Way less obnoxious than Google Glass.”

New York’s No. 1 VC Has An Ominous Warning For The Tech Industry Business Insider (David L)

Carbon Capture Plant Runs Into Cost, Legal Obstacles OilPrice

China’s PBOC Injects $81 Billion Into Top Banks to Counter Slowdown Wall Street Journal

Economists React: PBOC Injection Fails to Impress WSJ China Real Time


Vanguard Scotland? Project Syndicate

Scottish independence: Forget the polls, the money is on a ‘No’ vote Telegraph

I hope Scotland leaves, and I hope England follows them Open Democracy (Richard Smith)

Ignored and fed up, UK regions call for Scottish-style devolution Reuters (Richard Smith)

Catalans eye Scottish vote CNN


Ukraine crisis: Rebels defiant over new self-rule law BBC

Under Pressure, Ukraine Leader to Seek Aid on US Visit New York Times


A Strategy of Hopes and Dreams Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

Pentagon: US ground troops may join Iraqis in combat against Isis Guardian

To Crush ISIS, Make a Deal With Assad New York Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Justice Department Proposal Would Massively Expand FBI Extraterritorial Surveillance Just Security

Justice Sotomayor says technology could lead to “Orwellian world” Ars Technica (furzy mouse). Gee, ya think?

John Key ‘trying to defy gravity’ over spying claim TVNZ

Tax doubts dampen hiring by US companies Financial Times. The Financial Times takes a page from Fox News. A reader points out: “This is a biz/right wing paper published in a banking haven.”

Narco Cash Flowed Thru Citi, Deutsche Bank and BofA, Court Papers Say 100 Reporters (Chuck L). The authorities looked the other way at drug money laundering during the crisis, but these allegations cover 2010 and 2011. Oops.

Landmark Groundwater Reform Headed to Governor’s Desk KQED Public Media for Northern CA (EM)

N.J. announces sale of controversial pension investment tied to Massachusetts candidate for governor More Chris Christie-Mass gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker fallout. And the Christie camp is losing it. Get a load of the meltdown by Christie spokesman Guy Haselmann.

Whither Fed?

Today’s Obsession in Fed Land: Two Little Words Jared Bernstein

Prices Remain Flat, Easing Urgency for Fed Reuters

Class Warfare

A Hedge Fund Wants to Cut Jobs at Olive Garden, but Everyone Is More Worried About Losing Breadsticks SLOG (frosty zoom)

A Rare Drop in the U.S. Poverty Rate Doesn’t Deliver Much Good News Business Week

Pakistan Rehman Malik: Passengers force ex-minister off plane BBC

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

links baby elephant

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. abynormal

      Thanks D.Mathews. deplorable…”The hedge funds, including Perry Capital, Fir Tree Partners and other members of the self-styled Ad Hoc Group of investors”…”Acting as part sleuth and part coach, one of the hedge funds pointed out, for instance, that Puerto Rico was using outdated economic indicators — arguably making the fiscal picture look worse than it actually was, said people briefed on the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly about the discussions.”

      1. Fíréan

        The Puerto Rican story reads a little like the early days of Iceland’s relationship with USA financial instituations.

    1. James Levy

      Christie’s style of arrogant, truculent jerk is out of synch with the “countrified” or “Southern” style of arrogant, truculent jerk that we see so prominently in the GOP. People from my neck of the woods (born in Brooklyn, raised on Long Island, live in rural Massachusetts) are too direct and confrontational; they lack the slicker, plantation-owner approach to rabble-rousing that the Confederatized GOP is good at. Christie doesn’t naturally create a feeling of “us” among his listeners the way that Reagan or Dubya (or for that matter “feel your pain” Clinton) did so that he can then rally the troops against a real or imagined “them”. You have to already be an angry Irish, Italian, or German Catholic guy or gal (or someone with money who is or is about to be on his Republican Gravy Train) to identify with Christie. We have tons of them up here and they will go to the polls to stick it to the blacks and Hispanics, damn the consequences for them and their family. But nationally, he’s not going to get many Gumba Johnny votes in Iowa or New Hampshire (well, given the number of “Massholes” who have moved up there, perhaps in New Hampshire).

    2. afisher

      This may not matter much across the US today – if he tries for POTUS – that is another story entirely. Now that Mass. has approved of Tesla selling their own cars – Christie will once again be seen as a stick in the mud – we don’t want progress – there is less money for politicians w Tesla .

      The Christie hit list just keeps on growing.

  1. Jim Haygood

    Jim Crow (the reprise):
    With little fanfare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2012 amended its Form 4473 — the transactional record the government requires gun purchasers and sellers to fill out when buying a firearm — to identify buyers as either Hispanic, Latino or not. Then a buyer must check his or her race: Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander or white.

    The amendment is causing a headache for gun retailers, as each box needs to be checked off or else it’s an ATF violation — severe enough for the government to shut a business down. Many times people skip over the Hispanic/Latino box and only check their race, or vice versa — both of which are federal errors that can be held against the dealer.

    Requiring the race and ethnic information of gun buyers is not required by federal law and provides little law enforcement value, legal experts say.


    We’ve come full circle, from New York’s infamous Sullivan law (1912) designed to keep guns out of the hands of minorities, to nationwide application under (who else?) Oreobama. The insanity of zero tolerance, in which a dealer can lose his license if someone overlooks to tick a box that isn’t statutorily required in the first place, is also on display.

    1. Banger

      Race is a designation in various forms both governmental and non-governmental. We are, still, a deeply racialist society and the government wants to keep it that way–divide and conquer, naturally.

    2. Bene

      Er, Washington Times? The Moonie rag? Nothing but an Obama hit piece. A non0story. I doubt a single direct report to Obama would have a clue as to what this article was referring to.

      1. Jess

        There’s an old line: “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” The Washington Times may be suspect in a lot of ways, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t occasionally stumble on to, or publish, an accurate or important story. Remember, it was the widely ridiculed National Inquirer that broke the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter story. Gossip site TMZ has broken a number of stories, most recently the Ray Rice elevator video. We really can’t bash the MSM for not reporting lots of politically incorrect stories, then savage outlier publications on the left or right when they fill the vacuum.

  2. GR

    “Surely the honorable oil executive, government subsidy in hand would willingly submit to the same routine scrutiny of his panty drawer as the single mother subsisting on a welfare check.”
    Download Pine Valley free today!

  3. Fool

    “…The reactions look like a classic case of projection, or maybe free floating anger in search of pop culture objects.”

    I would say a combination of both, but you’re forgetting a third reason: the quality of content is secondary to number of page-views. More than people like feeling indignant, perhaps, is feeling indignant about another’s indignation, and so it goes….

    1. vidimi

      in my estimation, “liberals” who support mainstream, neoliberal political personalities like obama in the u.s. or milliband in the u.k. need to project their indignation in ever more obscure and absurd ways. since they can’t claim international mass murder, economics, and increasingly even gender issues, under their parties’ banners, they need to find other things that the “right” isn’t sensitive enough about.

      1. Synopticist

        It’s a little early to write off Millband as another Blair/Obama type. He was arguably the most leftwing of the leadership candidates in the Labour primary.

        1. paul

          He ‘s had all the time he needs, he’s useless.
          he’s just a placeholder for his brother, who is being given a taste of the highlife courtesy of the military/charity complex in the USofA.
          ‘Red Ed’ will lose the next election, step aside and his brother will step in, after the conservative coalition have done all the dirty work, and rule over the wreckage.

    2. jrs

      I really like the idea of it meaning economic depression, signaling we’re in a depression folks, those who told it was just a recession lied. If only all the homeless could afford it.

  4. Brooklin Bridge

    Does the “…money is on a No vote” to Scottish independence indicate awareness of something the polls are missing or is it awareness that the vote is sufficiently “tipped” so that the Nos will prevail regardless of actual vote count? The pressure to corrupt the vote, never mind the polls, must be enormous and it seems these things are always too close to call, a state where political/mechanical/software manipulation is easiest to hide, and so one wonders…

    1. Benedict@Large

      Interesting conjecture. Jimmy the poles to make them seem close, simply to insure that it’s appropriate to then jimmy the election itself, insuring thusly that the “proper” result is achieved. It’s a stretch, but these days I’m doubting that there’s a single election anywhere of any importance that is not being hacked by the elites.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Agreed/ Another indication, to me, of vote supression/manipulation in general is a near total media silence on the subject. But I would be curious if anyone with specific knowledge of this particular referendum has opinions or knowledge on the possibility or likelihood.

    2. gonzomarx

      the main media meme of the last couple of days has been the ‘intimidation and threats’ of Yes voters by No voters. Precious little evidence is ever shown and still the story runs and runs, but I think that it’s a sign that the Yes camp some what desperate by shifting the story to ‘tone’ over ‘issues’.

      Apart from pro Yes 1 newspaper and a couple abstaining the whole of UK MSM has been in the No camp along the the whole political establishment, the fact that it within the margin of error says a lot!

      The vote is by paper, postal and proxy ballot so no easy E-Fraud

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Thanks, good information, I was very curious about the form of the vote among other things you touched on.

      2. gonzomarx

        the last live debates with undecided in the audience both on BBC2 and Channel 4 now, are getting a lot and I mean a lot of talk from the floor on social justice, inequity, poverty, unresponsive elites and direct democracy…..all the stuff that’s normally verboten.

        this I think, is the underlining threat, The threat to TINA and of a good example.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Absolutely, this is why so many are rooting for independence because the whole thing rivets attention on exactly those unmentionable items; social justice, inequity, poverty and a royally indifferent elite class in a context that can not be so easily ignored.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes so tacky of people to point out that Maher is a Muslim basher and a religious bigot. One of the more recent was the always off the wall Glenn Greenwald.

        Maher also has quite the history as a male chauvinist and used to spend a lot of time hanging out with Hef at the LA Playboy club. Gives new meaning to “smarm.”

        1. Banger

          Maher is a world class a-hole and a bigot of the first order but he is also a brilliant writer. Sometimes assholes are valuable because they have the arrogance to tell truths others are too cowed and frightened to consider; mind you I disagree with him quite a lot (where do I start?). My main problem with him is that he is rather humorless for a comedian. Having said that I would love to drink with the man and go toe to toe with him intellectually or in other sorts of manly contests.

          1. Carolinian

            Maher pretends to be a rebel but panders to his conventional liberal audience at every opportunity. You’ll notice his “bravery” and defiance of PC never includes anything that would offend them (happy to be proven wrong). Doubtless he slags Muslims because he thinks he has nothing to lose by attacking people widely disliked by the H’wood crowd. His debunking of religion is also highly selective. His only real defiance of political correctness is in the area of feminism where he likes to play the bad boy. I’ve never been a fan of Maher going back to his Politically Incorrect cable show.

            But hey that’s just me. People I know like him.

            1. Brooklin Bridge

              But hey that’s just me.

              No, it’s not just you. His slickness repulses as much as it attracts and at the same time. He is like taking a shower with a can of oil. Even at his sharpest, his finger is to the wind.

            2. chris

              Maher was also on board with cutting Social Security. He is just another millionaire neo-liberal laughing (at us) all the way to the bank. I stopped watching years ago… and I have to take issue w/Banger calling him a “brilliant” writer. Twain was a “brilliant” writer, so too Vidal and many others (most of whom are now deceased) but Maher is an overpaid blowhard who most likely pays others to write his material. I honestly struggle to name anyone who could be considered “brilliant” these days, not because they aren’t capable but because they are captured by their fidelity to TPTB and greedy reaching for fame and fortune.

              1. Banger

                Sorry–I didn’t mean to compare him with Vidal or Twain or Orwell or, Hunter S. Thompson. He writes some brilliant stuff but he is not in the same universe as those aforementioned guys–he is clearly not a great writer. He’s kind of like Christopher Hitchens–very clever dude.

                1. chris

                  no apologies necessary.. I didn’t really take you to mean “brilliant” like Twain. Few are that brilliant indeed. Just making a point and you gave me a good set-up! :)

              2. JoeK

                Thanks for that. I grew up reading great writers including some real geniuses and listening to great musicians playing the music of true geniuses (Bach, not Lennon, sorry), so I find the devaluation of the words genius, brilliant, renowned, and so on in the internet age…well, I’m now conscious of devaluing a word. Perhaps tragic is too strong, but it seems a sense of real value in the arts is dying out quickly. James Joyce portrays this devolution of English vividly in one of the episodes of Ulysses, and I’ve wondered what kind of appendix he’d add to it were he alive today. An epic one, no doubt.

    1. GuyFawkesLives

      Unforgiving? When a retailer is promoting “depression” “anorexia” and their latest: a replica of a blood-stained sweatshirt from Kent State including red splatters to represent blood splatters? OMFG. I cannot and will not forgive this kind of ruthless amoral retailer, will you?

      1. jrs

        I don’t know maybe the crowd to which “depression t-shirt” it actually meant to appeal is goth, emo, etc (because depression expression in fashion is nothing new under the sun at all)..

        Meanwhile the average retailer, UO probably included, is merely making clothes in horrendous slave labor conditions, but at least the t-shirts don’t say “depression”.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Smart Chopsticks.

    But you still need your dumb, working stomach to detect malfunctioning smart chopsticks.

    “Excuse moi. Gotta run. My stomach is working. Where is your WC?”

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?

  6. Brindle

    re: Big Brother: N.S.A. to monitor Americans visits to porn sites.
    James Bamford is most always on the money:

    —–The document, from Gen. Keith B. Alexander, then the director of the N.S.A., notes that the agency had been compiling records of visits to pornographic websites and proposes using that information to damage the reputations of people whom the agency considers “radicalizers” — not necessarily terrorists, but those attempting, through the use of incendiary speech, to radicalize others

    In Moscow, Mr. Snowden told me that the document reminded him of the F.B.I.’s overreach during the days of J. Edgar Hoover, when the bureau abused its powers to monitor and harass political activists. “It’s much like how the F.B.I. tried to use Martin Luther King’s infidelity to talk him into killing himself,” he said.—-

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      “Among his most shocking discoveries, he told me, was the fact that the N.S.A. was routinely passing along the private communications of Americans to a large and very secretive Israeli military organization known as Unit 8200. This transfer of intercepts, he said, included the contents of the communications as well as metadata such as who was calling whom.”

      Ya think some of the info picked up about our Congress Critters just might have found its way to AIPAC and had something to do with the near unanimous approval of the resolutions supporting the Israeli collective punishment in Gaza?

  7. Yonatan

    The BBC on Ukraine

    “Ukrainian troops and rebels have been clashing since separatists seized a number of eastern towns in April”

    Yup, the separatists seized the towns – the towns where they live in order to protect themselves from rabid Nazis from the far west of Ukraine who are the foot soldiers for the ethnic cleansing policies of the Ukrainian oligarchs. The same Nazis who think nothing of burning Moskals alive.

    To think that the BBC was once credible.

    1. Banger

      Maybe it was never that credible–it’s hard to say. Back when I listened regularly (the seventies) it was the only way to get good international news–was it true? I don’t know–maybe it was all propaganda also. The BBC accents (very different than the ones they use today) kind of reassured me for some reason–and they had “My Word” on which NPR has bowdlerized in a number of programs.

      1. Synopticist

        It’s changed very considerably in only a few years. It used to be quiter oppositional in terms of foreign affairs, now it’ss like the English Russia Today.

        1. different clue

          It has also become much more simple and less information-dense. It is trying to appeal to a younger digital-devices crowd, I suppose. The newsreaders make silly jokes and yuk-it-up on the air to show how grooovy, hipp, and coool they are. That never used to happen.

  8. barrisj

    Just loooooved the Olive Garden article…many, many years ago, our son’s then-girl friend’s parents invited us “out to dinner”, which turned out to be the local OG, and what a culinary disaster area that was! You know, when you watch the telly adverts showing the “cuisine” at corporate food chains, those tight closeups of someone ladling treacly, artificially thickened “sauces” over the “surf and turf” absolutely makes me violently ill. Gummy, near-transparent heated library paste comes to mind.
    The other aspect of Paul Constant’s piece is the business about how Starboard will “unlock shareholder value” by – inter alia – “improve the labour model”…that is, screw over the already-harassed staff by increasing part-time employment, “just-in-time” shift scheduling, cutting wages with a view to top-up via tips, etc. Now, exactly how motivated will those unfortunate wage slaves be to earn decent tips from a customer base looking to eat on the cheap? The article is hilarious except for the fact that real people’s livelihood will be on the line, as is the case throughout American service industries.

    1. Banger

      As a born and bred food snob that is my reaction to OG–however I am usually able to psych out restaurants like that–first, never order pasta of any kind–always order grilled or whatever they can’t mess up. I usually talk to the wait staff and gauge what is good etc. My wife, in contrast, will happily eat whatever is in front of her despite the fact she is a first-rate cook.

      1. Synopticist

        “never order pasta of any kind–always order grilled or whatever they can’t mess up…”

        Sage advice for visiting any corporate Italian eatery.

    2. chris

      I shouldn’t admit to this but… for several years I was the “off screen” voice for OG commercials. They had an ad campaign over a decade ago using opera in the background. At the time I was a young apprentice baritone at the Met and somehow I got the call. Unbelievable how much money jingles made me (again, I’m embarrassed to admit). I made more singing 30 and 60 second spots of about 10 measures of music then I ever made singing Schubert’s Winterreise or Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

      I am VERY please to say, however, that I never once ate at OG, and not only because they offered no discounts to those of us who were employed to sell their awful food!

  9. mitzimuffin

    Re: Urban Outfitters. I hadn’t seen the depression of eat less shirts, but I did see the Kent State sweatshirt. I actually would have bought it as an anniversary commemoration, but not for the rediculous price of $129.00! I was in college and actively protesting the Vietnam war when that violent attack happened. Most everyone I know of that vintage would have commemorated it since, it seems, “our” government still does not respect the lives of citizens.

    I’d love to hear what others of my age feel about that sweatshirt (the price notwithstanding).

    1. Jay M

      Funny, had a similar reaction–I was a freshmen when it went down, and then the CS&N song commemorated the massacre–why is this reminder of state violence being so quickly suppressed? Cambodian invasion wasn’t it?
      Not exactly in my price range as well.

  10. Brooklin Bridge

    Being watched by Big Brother and Big Business is already very difficult to avoid without considerable resources either in technical knowledge or in money, and even then only for brief periods, but it looks like it is going to become downright impossible in the very near future possibly even for those with very deep pockets.

    Nothing new there, but what is somewhat new or at least still breath taking is the sheer brazenness of governments barely bothering to cover it up. They almost seem proud of it. Ambrit posted an absolutely chilling link the other day (9/15 Links) on NC about the US DOJ requesting community leaders to rat on anyone they found suspicious as radicals. Good God!

    New Zealand’s election will be interesting. Do people even care anymore? The sheer volume of unconstitutional travesties virtually everywhere, along with the complete acquiescence if not active participation by all branches of government but particularly the justice systems and the MSM, is bringing world class criminal behavior by international leaders down to the level of bar fly chatter.

    It may be the only thing that can turn this movement towards a dystopia around is collapse by it’s own weight of corruption, though I’m still rooting for lose, lose, lose, lose, keep losing and then win

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