Links 10/16/14

The Meaning of Life New York Times (David L). A three-year-old’s answer to that question was “Laughter and chocolate”.

Lockheed says makes breakthrough on fusion energy project Reuters. EM: “Lockheed probably wants us to picture happyCoolStuff like the car in Back to The Future or Iron Man’s superpowered chest implant, but I’m thinking more along the lines of “future headlines” like ‘Syraqistan: fusion-powered armored vehicle hits IED, sprays irradiated Tokamak shards in all directions’.”

Exclusive: U.S. pork group counters antibiotics report with online campaign Reuters (EM)

Here’s Why Public Wifi is a Public Health Hazard Medium

Marijuana to be grown by Italian army – in order to bring the price down Independent (1 SK)

The ‘techno-hippies’ shunning Silicon Valley’s disruption mantra Financial Times (David L)


Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa — The First 9 Months of the Epidemic and Forward Projections New England Journal of Medicine

Lax U.S. Guidelines on Ebola Led to Poor Hospital Training, Experts Say New York Times

Dallas County May Declare State of Disaster From Ebola Virus Bloomberg. One death and two infection = a state of disaster?

WASHINGTON: Pols trade blame for Ebola, but both parties cut budgets for health McClatchy DC. The CDC has been running on special appropriations since 2003, which means they can’t count on funding and thus can’t build/maintain an organization. Like all of these ‘starve the beast” exercises, the intent was to render government weak and incompetent (or the slightly prettier Democratic party version, which is also a Republican trope, to encourage a greater private sector role). So now some people are unhappy with what they set out to produce?

Amid Ebola Fears, Airlines Share Few Cabin Cleaning Details KSTP

EBOLA Protective Kit, Zaire ebolavirus kit – includes Tyvek suit, eye protection, 2 Surgical masks, 2 Pairs of gloves, booties, Duct tape and plastic bin for easy storage Amazon. Panic profiteering. Notice from the New York Times story below that using duct tape is a really really bad idea. So we get profiteering and crapification in one package. At least Amazon sorta warns you. The rating is only 2 1/2 stars.

Hospital e-records systems like Presbyterian’s cited in failures across U.S. Dallas Morning News. We’ve flagged this issue in two past posts and some readers INSISTED that electronic medical records were just great and we should shut up.

Downfall for Hospital Where the Virus Spread New York Times. Still thin on details, but the ones it got, particularly of the desperate improvisation efforts of the nurses, are damning.

Hong Kong

Protests reignited by shocking images appearing to show unarmed man being beaten by officers South China Morning Post

HK police pepper spray protesters Guardian

Issue Guide: What’s at Stake in Hong Kong? Council for Foreign Relations

China Easing Home Loans No Panacea for Sliding Market Bloomberg

Banned From U.S. Banks, Russian Oil Giant Turns To Even Bigger Banks In China Forbes

Why Putin and Merkel Don’t Put Growth First Bloomberg Views

Greek yields breach 7pc amid spat with EU ministers Telegraph


Ukraine’s economy choking under Russian pressure, but Western help is scarce Washington Post

Putin accuses US of ‘blackmail’ DW


Qatar’s role in exporting jihadists Bangkok Post (furzy mouse)

Multiple US airstrikes on “Islamic State” targets DW

Syria: UK Still Wants “Regime Change” Moon of Alabama

Isis strikes are legal – White House Guardian. Well, of course they would think that.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Your Data or Your Life Project Syndicate (David L)

This Headline Is One of Many Experiments on You MIT Technology Review (David L)

Will Irish Tax Law Change Stop Corporate Inversions? Forbes


Fed Survey Finds ‘Subdued’ Price Gains, ‘Modest’ Wage Growth WSJ Economy

Unseal the Doomsday Book! Adam Levitin, Credit Slips

Whither Markets?

World economy so damaged it may need permanent QE Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph. His remarks on targeting quantity of money are off base (monetarist experiments under Volcker and Thatcher were abject failures) and there is nary a mention of deficit spending, which is what was and remains needed. But his description of the fundamentals is solid, and he’s probably calling central bankers’ reactions correctly as well, sadly.

Global equities rout spreads to Asia Financial Times

Is Wednesday’s Bear Market a Sign of Global Slowdown or a Simple Correction? Foreign Policy

Citigroup Sees $1.1 Trillion Stimulus From Oil Plunge Bloomberg. Looks like a desperate effort in porcine maquillage. Oil prices also plunged in the summer of 2008, and it didn’t do much to change the underlying trajectory.

Class Warfare

Can Robots Offer Amazon Moral Redemption? American Prospect

Soho penthouse featured on “Selling New York” goes for $10M The Real Deal. As our correspondent noted: “Mortgage Resolution Partners (Eminent Domain ‘just here to help’) $10m home.”

A Red Privatization Horror Story Thom Hartman (RR)

Antidote du jour (Steve J):

drinking cat links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Swedish Lex

    I am old enough to have lived through the truly bad old years when there was no euro. A salad of currencies and capital controls, interest rates, devaluations, speculative attacks and opacity. All contributing to slowing down the European economy radically, compared to other currency unions (UK, US).

    Through the utter mismanagement of the eurozone’s politics (in addition to the original sin of letting in everyone in the eurozone as opposed to the original 6 states only), it is getting increasingly difficult to claim that Europe is better off struggling to keep the thing together rather than organising a divorce. Perhaps this is what the Germans truly intend? Beppe Grillo is launching an appeal for a consultative referendum on the euro in Italy. Marine le Pen has reasonable chances of influencing national politics in France as of 2017, which inevitably would turn France into a pariah and speed up the National Front’s anti-euro ambitions.

    It took about 50 years to create the euro. 30 years between 1970 and 2000 when the project took shape and became reality. 15 years to mismanage the thing so badly that people legitimately can call it a source of diminished wealth and freedom.

    Long live gold, then.
    Et le Franc Suisse.
    Hardly a dream to sell to your kids
    Yves is right, of course, that a common EU fiscal stimulus of sufficient size (i.e. big) would have been simple and the obvious thing to do. But nein……..

    1. Peppsi

      It was ‘mismanaged’ but on purpose, to create neoliberal heaven for multinationals, forced privatization’s, the forced dismantling of welfare states and tariffs. How many failures are necessary before this ideology is seen for what it is?

      1. Swedish Lex

        Any Swede, almost, will tell you that a welfare state is a good thing albeit expensive. Conditions are, however, that they are run efficiently and that market solutions are applied where applicable. This can vary over time. Many euro states, like France where I live, has a public sector that keeps growing, becoming exponentially more expensive with a productivity that is horrendeous. The educational system in France is more expensive than in comparable countries, paying teachers less, producing results that are mediocre at best and, also, extremely good at alienating kids and teachers alike. And the educational system is failing to produce people with the right skill sets for the jobs market.

        No neoliberal monster to be found here. Just incompetence.

        1. Goyo Marquez

          Hmmmm… “And the educational system is failing to produce people with the right skill sets for the jobs market.” I think the goal of public education is to produce people with the right skill set for being citizens of France not to socialize the costs of production for French businesses.

          1. dearieme

            ” I think the goal of public education is to produce people with the right skill set for being citizens of France”: it doesn’t take long to teach someone the dismissive shrug.

          2. Swedish Lex

            You do not seem to be very familiar with France.
            The “jobs market” includes, but is not limited to; teachers, bakers, carpenters, artists, dentists, vets, gendarmes, etc.
            It is a well known fact that the French educational is failing in most regards that matter. Do a search.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Ideally, education should be for enlightenment, and vocation schools should be for training people to get jobs, like surgeons, lawyers, politicians, hedge fund managers, auto repairmen, etc.

      2. Chris in Paris

        Really, I don’t think there’s a conspiracy here. It was just a fudge, a “we’ll be able to deal with any problems, later” kind of thinking. Thing is, the French don’t think that way so maybe there is a conspiracy here.

    2. Working Class Nero

      Currencies are not that important, united or not. The European integration experiment is dying due to globalization. Specifically, allowing low-skill jobs to be sent off the China (and other poor countries) and allowing in way too many dependant third world refugees and immigrants. Every week in the various European countries there are stories about yet another factory employing low to medium skilled workers is being shipped off to cheaper countries. On the other hand had Europe never united but each country had accepted globalization then the results would be exactly the same. Open borders and flow of goods within economically similar areas works fine. Open borders and the free flow of goods between rich and poor countries is a disaster for the bottom 2/3 of the social strata of the rich country (which is soon going to become a poor one).

      So right now it is clear that there is exactly one political organization that has 90% of the solutions and that is the Front National. Now these solutions (protect the borders from jobs fleeing and refugees entering, Keynesian economics both domestically and internationally, resist American hegemony, cash supplements to the poor) can be applied either only in France or through-out the entire European Union. The problem is that almost to a person, everyone associated with the EU has been programmed to believe these solutions are evil, racist, and whatever bad adjective you want to come up with. So the solution will never be found at the EU level due to the ideological intransigence of the functionaries, not due to any fundamental theoretical problems with European integration.

      So Europe has a choice: stay together, stay globalized, and decline together into third world status and eventual suffer low intensity insurgencies as ISIS-type movements become active on the Old Continent. Or they can split apart and allow at least France (others will follow) to apply the Le Pen cure. There seems little doubt that France is not going to go quietly; Hollande’s horrendous performance has put the last nail in the coffin of those who believed either side of the UMPS could turn things around. With the increase in anti-Jewish violence in France you will see more and more French Jews supporting Le Pen (last election she got 13% percent of the Jewish vote compared to 18% of the total French vote). Even though the EU will probably allow France to flout its deficit rules, as the situation continues to decline, by 2022, Marine Le Pen will take power.

      1. Swedish Lex

        I suppose this is a joke.
        Le Front National dreams of a France à la 1914 – big, glorious, empire, sovereign, proud, sucking the blood out if its colonies, racist, anti-semite and ready to send million young French to their deaths in WWI, all for the glory of “la France”.

        This is the problem; the total failure of current leaders in the eurozone countries to propose a realistic alternative, which is making people dream of a golden past, which of course never existed.

        1. Working Class Nero

          Typical bourgeois class-based response. You throw up a bunch of useless, non-fallible, rhetorical flack and refuse to criticize (or even discuss) any FN proposals. Why don’t you just admit that globalization is great for your social class and you want to see the indigenous working classes continue to eat shit until they are totally subsumed one huge lumpen-proletariat junk heap?

          I am quite sure that Le Pen realizes as De Gaulle did that colonies end up sucking the lifeblood out of the home country. In almost all cases colonialism was a losing proposition from the home country’s perspective. The problem was the costs were spread out to the people will the profits were concentrated to the rich. So no, there will be no regaining colonies under Le Pen – is this really the best you can do?

          To your credit you didn’t break Godwin’s Law though!

          Actually there is a Golden Age that many French look back on and that is Les Trente Glorieuses when many of the policies the FN support were in place in many western countries. Yes, immigration controls were sometimes lax back then but since there was low unemployment this was more acceptable. Nowadays with double digit unemployment why any country would add any more working age dependants can only be explained as a brutal class war against labor and the welfare state.

          And so the only “realistic proposal” to the current disaster is the FN program. But wealthy people have a huge class interest in not discussing these proposals and to instead make up any sort of scary fairy tales that comes to mind as to why unfortunately the FN is soooo very dangerous and therefore, sadly, the wealthy just must continue to profit while the destruction of the first world working class must continue apace.

          1. Swedish Lex

            What a soup.
            Les 30 glorieuses (which in the case of Sweden were the golden 100) depended on rebuilding a country that was in ruins. There are no more ruins any more, so no more catch-up effect.
            Yes, we could close the borders (and re-introduce the Franc) and introduce controls of all kinds along the borders. If I get a medieval castle to rule from with peasants like Marine le Pen to serve me, why not. Or we could all become Astérix.
            Going back is not the way forward.
            If you are not happy with the present, come up with some new ideas for the future. Restricting immigration and blaming the North Africans who do the heavy lifting in this country, mostly, is not the future.

            1. hunkerdown

              And, of course, it is the bourgeoisie that defines forward and back as suits their interests.

              Yawn. That rhetorical trick only works when everyone has roughly the same aim, agrees it’s a worthy society-wide goal, and agrees on the means to reach it. Otherwise, you’re pandering to nothing more than the trendy posture of ambition and fantasism, and I find it pretty tedious, actually.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            There is a close link between imperial adventures abroad and roaming immigrants at home.

            In another age, the link was between imperial conquests of barbarians and cheap slave labor at home.

      2. Ed

        The FN performs well in what had been PCF strongholds, and one mystery is why the PCF isn’t playing the role that the FN is playing. There is nothing in the platform you mentioned that the PCF couldn’t have pushed itself. No, there is nothing particularly communist or even left wing about being in favor of high levels of immigration from poorer countries or anywhere else.

        I suspect that the inability of existing organizations on the left to oppose globalization has been due to a deliberate “deep state” campaign to infiltrate, disrupt, and co-opt these organizations, dating to well before the Cold War ended. Organizations on the right weren’t targeted in this way, and a few wound up with essentially anti-globalization platforms.

        1. Swedish Lex

          So it all is one, giant, conspiracy, then :)
          It is a well known fact that FN has successfully been fishing in the waters of le PC. There is a change going on, however, in that le FN is spreading into the traditional right, which has happened because Sarkozy decided to to get FN votes for the 2012 election. The opposite is happening, with le FN sucking votes from the traditional right. The traditional right here is catholic, racist and anti-semite, with no liberal force in sight.

          People in France has had no reason to oppose globalisation more since the public sector has been sucking up private sector workers, all while increasing taxation of the taxi drivers and the bakers etc. plus running annual budget déficits for 40 years. No conspiracy to be found. Only incompetence and buying voters with more debt.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I wonder if we can have 100% public sector and 0% private sector, with unlimited public sector spending.

        2. Working Class Nero

          The French hard Left eventually does come around and support FN policies. For example Le Pen’s call to overturn the 1973 Pompidou-Giscard Law that forbids the government to borrow from the Banque de France at zero interest was later also endorsed on the Left.

          The main ideological / philosophical problem for the French Left is that they tend towards being universalists while FN are particularists. This universalist vs. particularism battle was fought on the Left with Stalin’s “Socialism in One Country” being a sort of Left Nationalism while Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution was Left Universalism. The problem is that neoliberal globalization is very, very similar to Trotsky’s ideas, only it is a permanent revolution of the rich. Workers of the World Unite is transformed into Worker of the World Compete. The Left universalists therefore have no ammunition to fight with and Left particularists are harder to find. The last major Left nationalist in the US was Cesar Chavez and I would say his defeat in California was the working class’ Stalingrad and they have suffered nothing but a long string of defeats since then.

          Mentioning Cesar Chavez is a good segue into the other major problem of today’s Left; they all end up going to university where they end up getting co-opted by the bourgeoisie. Instead of class struggle they become obsessed by identify politics. Be it gender nationalism (feminism), racial obsession, what have you, they redefine the Left away from a working class struggle and divert its energy towards the travails of female senior executives in large multinational firms. Or fight to insure that wealthy blacks will get preferences in university admissions while destroying the black working classes through mass low-skill immigration.

          But the ideal situation would be for a French Cesar Chavez to rise up and carry the working class banner from the Left. But until that happens the FN will have to suffice.

          1. hunkerdown

            they redefine the Left away from a working class struggle and divert its energy towards the travails of female senior executives in large multinational firms

            Worse, they use the working class’s travails as a photo-op backdrop for their goal, which is nothing more or less than to make the oligarchy politically correct.

            When Democrats say that government should be run like a business, they’re lost forever.

          2. Glenn Condell

            ‘the other major problem of today’s Left; they all end up going to university where they end up getting co-opted by the bourgeoisie. Instead of class struggle they become obsessed by identify politics’

            So they shouldn’t go to University?

            The major problem for the left now is that, where in the first half/three-quarters of the last century there was genuine cachet in progressive action, we now live in a neoliberal desert which is lethal to that sort of exotic plant, which needs the healthy soils of a balanced media, an independent judiciary, a free academy, and a real ‘working class’ – i.e., one whose members have no problem identifying themselves as such, proudly and without qualification.

            Being on the workers’ side a few generations ago was sexy goddammit – even unprepossessing men like Diego Rivera could get the girl. People like Paul Robeson and Harry McClintock were not just respected but loved. Here in Oz we had a leftist PM called Ben Chifley (an ex-train driver) after the war and I can recall reading how he was held in high regard by many on the other side of the aisle and even the captains of industry who stood behind them. The media treated him with the gravitas he deserved too, a stark contrast with how in the last generation Labour leaders have been either bullied into useful ineffectiveness or pilloried when they periodically get jack of that and stray off the reservation.

            Shorter: characterising our struggle as a ‘working class’ one is as doomed as fastening it to any of your other identities – race, LGTB, etc. There was once a market for that product and though that market still exists, the majority of its members don’t see themselves as part of it, and many of those would baulk if anyone suggested they were. Somehow, the vital, attractive qualities that once differentiated activist progs from the fearful staid conformism of their political opponents has morphed into situation where all the boring dags are found on our side and the edgy, cool exemplars for the young are ruthless, aspirational and don’t give a shit about anyone less fortunate than themselves. Neat trick that.

            How many people under 30 do you know who would be content to be thought of as ‘working class’? How many would be clear about what it means in the context of history?

            Rather, the effort expended in trying to convince unreceptive workers that they are in the ‘working class’ and should act accordingly, would be better spent in endeavouring to sharpen the distinction between those who are doing well out of this perverted economy and the rest of us, i.e. the vast majority. Indeed, an increasing proportion of those are unemployed which over time would render ‘working class’ redundant anyway, and then what will we call ourselves when the robots are doing everything?

            Increasingly a term like ‘working class’ is a millstone, an albatross. It involves a distinction that is at best unnecessary and at worst divisive. ‘The Dispossessed’ would be a more accurate and useful moniker for the natural constituency of a progressive party nowadays.

      3. EmilianoZ

        With the increase in anti-Jewish violence in France you will see more and more French Jews supporting Le Pen (last election she got 13% percent of the Jewish vote compared to 18% of the total French vote)

        A bit surprising, but after all they share a common interest in stopping Muslim immigration.

        Do you have any figures for foreign-born French? I suspect that a sizable portion of those who arrived earlier (50, 60, 70ies) oppose those who are coming now.

        I was in Paris last spring. I had not been there for a decade. The degradation was spectacular. The touristic places have not changed. You can see the degradation only if you venture in the NE of Paris, a no-go area for most tourists. Actually there’s one touristy place that’s at the border: the Sacre Coeur. If you walk west from there it’s very bourgeois and nice. If you walk east, that’s a different story.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There have always been immigrants.

          I suspect when we see mass migration, something ominous has occurred in their home countries – wars, neoliberalism/neocolonialism run amok, corrupted dictators with help from foreign governments and multinational corporations, etc.

          We can celebrate diversity, but we are only fooling ourselves ignoring geography and what is happening abroad. Unfortunately, that’s what we exceptional Americans do.

          No one really wants to uproot him/herself to go to Exceptional France or Exceptional America.

      4. Benedict@Large

        Currencies are not that important, united or not.

        The currency is the highest rung on the macroeconomic ladder. EVERYTHING in macroeconomics is subordinate to it. If your currency is a lemon (as is the Euro), eventually your economy will be too. Even Germany, who has been trying to deny this since 2008 because it hit elsewhere in the Eurozone first, is now seeing their numbers plummet. So it goes.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          A currency is a lemon only because there are non-captive users

          A currency is never a lemon if everyone is forced to use it via the force of taxation. Foreigners are included in that ‘everyone’ category and are not slaved to it. Freed of that oppression, they will give a different ‘value’ to the currency than the one given by those captive users.

  2. John Jones

    “Syria: UK Still Wants “Regime Change”
    Why do they want regime change though?
    If it is for pipelines why can’t it by pass Syria?

    1. hunkerdown

      From Qatar to Turkey? Bit of a re-route. I suppose the play is that Syria can be puppeted more reliably than Iraq — in international relations, there are the designated war zones and the designated banana republics.

    2. Synopticist

      In part it’s because the British foreign policy elite has become corrupted by Arab oil money, as has it’s media.

  3. worker-owner

    Don’t waste your time on the FT “techno-hippy” article. The tens of thousands of unsung heroes writing and maintaining the Open Source Software that all of the Silliness Valley Bubblenomics runs on (including all of those paid by the Bubble-masters) are the techno-hippies the IT industry is increasingly adopting as its foundation.
    Artists are fun and inspiring. Hackers are humbling and embarrassing. Committed developers are the rock IT is built on.

  4. jgordon

    “One death and two infection = a state of disaster?”

    While your odds of getting done in because driving, smoking, being fat, the flu are actually pretty good–admittedly dying from something like ebola, or terror, or guns is relatively remote (at the present time). I think people worry about ebola because of the stark image of people who get melting from the inside out before dying. But with that said, ebola is an organism that is well known for its capacity to mutate and evolve, and human beings are organisms well known for their capacity for incompetence and sheer stupidity. Just looking at this situation objectively I would not lay all my money on humans come out ahead in this one.

    1. DJG

      The state of disaster has an objective side, as you like to the New England Journal of Medicine shows. See Figure 2, the exponential growth of cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia. And unlike AIDS, which has a similar mortality rate, infection with Ebola seems to be easier and the incubation time is much shorter. Throw in that the U.S. health care system is rated 27 or 29, and you do have a disaster in the making. (And metaphorically, Texas, with its absurd stew of free-market fundamentalism and religious fundamentalism, is the exactly the ground zero for such a virus.)

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      The story in Dallas was incompetence. The two nurses who got sick were with Duncan for 2 days, cleaning up after him, as in exposed to poop and blood, with no protective gear at all.

      The media is also flogging a lot of dubious information, like creating the impression that Ebola will go aerosol. It won’t. Period. I’ll be writing on that tomorrow, but the short version is it would have to be a completely different virus. No one has ever worried about Hep C or HIV, which infect people through the same vectors, of going aerosol.

      1. Brian

        As someone that once trained in isolation technique, I find many descriptions of transmission questionable. Many people commenting around the tubes don’t have personal knowledge of the difference between bodily fluids and aerosol transmission, yet use them interchangeably. Some are doing so to make their puts more valuable.
        Sadly, the airline issue is paramount, because it rather like having one germinating passenger inside the sausage with the rest. It gets rubbed here, touched there and eventually there is transmission. It doesn’t have to be in the air in such an environment. You have already given up your chances by agreeing to sit in an abattoir where you can’t help touch 10 people even if you never get up from your seat.
        We need an expert to delineate some of these things so people don’t go mad trying preemptive prophylaxis when it isn’t necessary. Panic is a terrible thing, but it seems the best way to gather viewers on cable tv.

        1. JEHR

          If Ebola is only transmitted through bodily fluids, then if the Ebola patient sneezed or coughed and released saliva, that would be a bodily fluid that could go through the air, right?

      2. sleepy

        I’ve had HepC. A distinction to be made between that virus and Ebola is that HepC is strictly blood-borne, and the risk of exposure outside of a blood exchange is virtually unknown. Both my wife of 30 years and my son tested negative for it.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I know someone who got Hep C through no normal blood borne vector. No transfusions, no injections, no tattoos. He already had HIV, so that means a compromised immune system. He thinks he got it by using a razor at a sex partner’s apt.

      3. reslez

        They are essentially worried about a Tom Clancy novel (Executive Orders) whose plot involved nefarious Middle Eastern evildoers engineering an aerosolized version of Ebola and attacking the U.S. No one will ever go out and admit it but essentially the fears are all driven by a virology-illiterate right wing fantasist.

        In the previous novel, a nefarious Asian madman flew a plane into the U.S. capitol, killing the sitting president and wiping out Congress. So maybe Clancy had some sort of direct route to the nutjob id.

        1. hunkerdown

          So why don’t we just move the nation’s official capital to Hollywood, since that lot of drama llamas are already running the place in all but name anyway?

  5. James Levy

    Is the sense around here that “there is a plan” (whether that be the neo-serfdom plan, the global die-off plan, or the total surveillance society plan, or a combo of all three) an accurate picture of reality? I’ve thought so on and off, but the more I watch the cocksure nincompoops who run things slam from pillar to post, the more I am doubting it. Europe is a shambles. China is inches from a regional revolt. The Middle East is a toxic waste dump of fear, repression, and hatred. America is greedy and inept, living off her vast wealth and power and imagining that they will insulate her from reality for forever. The political and economic Power Elite seem incapable of even imagining a concerted collective response to Ebola, because they literally have no sense of the collective–until they are personally in imminent danger of dying, they will do nothing. What I see are careless men taking rash actions based on their greed and their “gut”. I think highly intelligent people in this secular age (I’m including many of us here) are seeing “the hand of God” the way educated clerics did in the Middle Ages. Perhaps it is the hand of God, but perhaps we are seeing design where there is only activity.

    PS: Imagine what would be happening if only 10% of the 1% were on the phone to their Senators and Congressmen saying “do something about this Ebola thing and I mean now!” Congress would pass legislation granting the CDC a blank cheque within two days and a special committee of top academic experts would be empaneled and empowered within the week.

      1. MikeNY

        To me, this is emblematic of creeping (galloping?) oligarchy and corporatocracy: we have Gates and Zuckerberg now unofficially directing a government health agency. You mean to tell me the CDC can’t scrounge up $25MM, and has to rely on billionaires to fund it, and to tell it what to do?

        Sheesh. How long util Carlyle takes the CDC ‘private’ in an LBO?

        1. Chief Bromden

          Drills to go live??

          “A two-year pandemic preparedness project by FEMA and the financial industry is to culminate with two full scale pandemic exercises in November.

          A FEMA document states the “Federal Executive Boards in New York City and Northern New Jersey in partnership with FEMA Region II, The Department of Health and Human Services Region II, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) and the Clearing House Association are sponsoring a two year series of pandemic influenza continuity exercises,” which culminate in full scale exercises in November.

          The final planning meeting will be in on November 6th and 7th at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY Conference Room A/B or Conference Call 800-320-4330; pin 528585#, states the document.

          On November 13, 2014 a pandemic influenza Wave 1 Full Scale Exercise and on November 20th, a Pandemic Influenza Wave 2 Full Scale Exercise.



          1. James Levy

            Yes, my wife heard the exact same story, last year. All the military personnel were supposed to come back from leave and all leaves cancelled after a date in late October, because something BIG was up and they were going to shut down the internet and Obama was going to declare martial law. These myths are from the same people who thought that Obama was naming “czars” who would have the power of REAL czars! These are the people I read around the web who think this is Kenyan Islamic Evildoer Obama’s plan to kill the people of the United States with the Ebola virus.

            I’m shaky about this, scared, actually, but we’ve got to keep our heads. Washington DC was a hornet’s nest of this kind of crud on 9/11 (to its credit, NYC was not filled with nearly as much of this rumor-mongering that day). It’s a dangerous situation and the authorities are reacting too slowly to it and not overly competently. I hope they will get their bearings before this becomes truly terrible. But it can still be arrested pretty simply if intelligent steps are taken. We are not dead yet.

            1. Chief Bromden

              James, I’m not looking for Commies under the bed and I don’t think Obama is a ‘secret muslim’. In fact, he’s not mentioned here so this isn’t a tea bag prepper narrative.

              SIFMA “Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association” is sponsoring the “exercise”. It’s on their website. FEMA is in attendance. It could be nothing, but it doesn’t sound like nothing because every time we have a crisis there’s some kind of a “drill” going on. We saw the entire city of Boston get “locked down” because the authorities needed to chase two CIA patsies around the city. I don’t understand your 911 reference and how it is relevant.

              These war games are nothing new to the U.S. MIC & counterparts. Are you familiar with operation “Dark Winter”?

              “On June 22-23, 2001 – some 3 months before 9/11, and 4 months before the Anthrax attacks – the U.S. military held a senior-level war game at Andrews Air Force Base called Dark Winter.

              The scenario of this bio-terrorism drill was designed to simulate a smallpox attack in three states. Numerous congressmen, former CIA director James Woolsey, New York Times reporter Judith Miller (who pushed the Iraq WMD myth, as well as the false link between Iraq and the Anthrax attacks), and anti-terror official Jerome Hauer all participated in the exercise.

              As a part of this war game, scripted TV news clips were made to help make this drill as realistic as possible.”

        1. JTFaraday

          Indeed. But, alas, suggesting what is stylistically appropriate is unlikely to fix the underlying issue.

    1. JTFaraday

      That sounds like a good summary. I particularly like “What I see are careless men taking rash actions based on their greed and their “gut”.”

      I don’t know if they can actually get fired or not.

  6. NewDealdemocrat

    >>Citigroup Sees $1.1 Trillion Stimulus From Oil Plunge Bloomberg. Looks like a desperate effort in porcine maquillage. Oil prices also plunged in the summer of 2008, and it didn’t do much to change the underlying trajectory.>>

    False. When oil prices plunged to $1.45 by December 2008, consumer spending bottomed out, and then began to rise. It was the first solid sign the recession might bottom by summer 2009.

    A decline in the prices of gas also goosed the economy in 2006. Not to mention the 1980s.

    An annually averaged drop of just 10 cents in the price of gas frees up about $12 billion for consumers to save or spend elsewhere.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Ahem, you omit the fact that the government had also dropped rates MUCH further, and started its stimulus by then. And gas hit $4 a barrel, a level that squeezes consumers, and fell much further too. And the government had been desperately running confidence talk, and succeeded in getting the stock market to rally, which got some people out of their psychological bunkers.

      This time, we also have the fact that the US is a much bigger energy producer, and fracking and Bakken have been meaningful drivers of what passes for a recovery. The offsets there weren’t in play in the US in the 2008 oil price decline.

      1. voxhumana

        Don’t pay any attention to NewDealdemocrat, Yves. The only part of his sobriquet that matters is the last, as he and his buddy bonddad are Obamapologists who have spent the years since the Great Moderation (read on-goin depression) shilling for the Democratic Party’s economic “recovery” that wasn’t. He, like Nancy Pelosi, believe the Dems should be “bragging” about the economy. Not surprised to see him here just weeks before the voters register their disagreement in the ballot booth. Not that I support voting for the GOP, mind you…. never have, never will… but at least Republicans tried to stop the bailouts which, in a rare incidence of solidarity, the Democrats in Congress championed.

    2. New Deal democrat

      I agree that other forces, like declining interest rates and, after February 2009, the stimulus, were a factor.

      That’s not the issue. The issue, did the decline in oil prices from $4.25 in July to about $1.45 in December also play a role? Yes they did, by putting a lot more disposable income in people’s pockets. It shows up in the retail sales reports from late 2008 through mid-2009.

        1. New Deal democrat

          Here’s monthly real retail sales:

          While almost every other piece of data was still cliff-diving through the first part of 2009, Real retail sales stopped cliff diving in December 2008 and basically went sideways for the first part of 2009, making a bottom in March. It was the first evidence that the bleeding was being staunched.

  7. Brucie Bruce

    Re: the Dallas county potential state of emergency… Connecticut has beaten them to it:

    Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has declared a public health emergency for the state as a precaution during the Ebola epidemic that is affecting several countries in western Africa.

    He signed an order declaring the emergency on Tuesday and it gives the commissioner of the state Department of Public Health the authority to quarantine and isolate people whom the commissioner “reasonably believes has been exposed to the Ebola virus.”

  8. Dino Reno

    Can someone here speak to the state of mind of those living in Texas right now. I know it to be a deeply religious state. I can only imagine the impact the twin horror of ebola and crashing oil prices must have on the state of mind of Texans who have been riding high through the current depression. It must seem like God has forsaken them.

    1. diptherio

      It must be the gays’ fault….or Gawd’s punishment for letting a Black man remain President for so long without even so much as an attempt to…uh, how did that lady put it the other day?…”defend the constitution”…if not that, then it’s punishment for gay marriage, for sure.

      1. not_me

        or Gawd’s punishment for letting a Black man remain President for so long

        One will bust a gut trying to find ANY racism in the Bible (eg. Moses’ second wife was black and it was an Ethiopian who pulled Jeremiah out of the muddy well). Also, the Bible has a LOT more to say about social justice than homosexuality which gets scant attention in the Old Testament and not that much in the New Testament.

        But it figures that if the Christian churches are going to ignore usury and social justice that they have to overcompensate with regard to sexual morality – otherwise they might embarrass the bankers in the front pews with the result that their collection baskets might suffer.

        1. diptherio

          Oops, my bad…Gawd ain’t pissed off because he’s Black (that’s just the Klan), it because he’s a socialist. (I crack me up sometimes)

          1. not_me

            Periodic land redistribution, periodic debt forgiveness and the ban on usury precluded the need for much socialism in ancient Israel YET there was some such as gleaning rights and a 3rd year tithe collected for the poor. And personal generosity was encouraged too.

            So if Texas Christians want to reduce socialism they should get busy emulating ancient Israel and follow Moses rather than the atheists Mises and Ayn Rand, et al.

            1. diptherio

              Oh dang, you’re right! I totally forgot that the first Christians were also Commies (see Acts)…then it’s ’cause he’s a secret Muslim…whatever the reason, it surely has nothing to do with the Gawd-fearing republicans running the show…[disclaimer: I’m not from Texas, but do have family from there…]

      2. Beans

        Dino – Dallas is doing just fine. I live there and am (gasp!) headed back today on a commercial airline, without the Amazon Ebola suit. Enough with the stupid stereotypes, folks.

        1. diptherio

          Sorry, sorry, all in good fun. Now you can make sheep-loving jokes about us Montanans. It’s ok, we can handle it (just like we can handle a ewe).

  9. not_me

    ‘Syraqistan: fusion-powered armored vehicle hits IED, sprays irradiated Tokamak shards in all directions’.” Yves

    So ban portable applications. The huge thing is that large scale water desalination and carbon-neutral synthetic fuel production would become viable as well as the infinite recycling of material.

    Of course, some will complain that the unavoidable heat generated will contribute to global warming but carbon-neutral synthetic fuels should cause CO2 emissions to level off and if more fuel is produced than needed then the process would be carbon-negative and CO2 in the atmosphere would DECREASE assuming Mother Nature cooperates. That should cause sufficient global cooling to more than compensate for any waste heat from fusion reactors.

    1. hunkerdown

      Fair enough. Now, is it worth letting Lockheed-Martin types, or frankly any Ferengi anywhere, near such a thing? Remember the Shirky Principle!

    1. diptherio

      As long as she isn’t laughing while she eats your chocolate, I suppose.

      Actually, I think I could get behind a proselytizing religion whose goal was to spread chocolate and laughter to all sentient beings. I’d be out on the street corner every day preaching that gospel.

      1. not_me

        You must be female since males don’t tend to be such choc-a-holics in my experience – as adults that is.

        But there’s a certain female I want to impress and if it causes her to breakout that’s an added bonus since I want her all to myself (and love is blind in my case wrt her)! Any suggestions?

            1. Clive

              They are, unfortunately, all-too-obvious falsies. I’m not convinced about the rest of the accoutrements either.

      2. McKillop

        Tom Waits’s “Chocolate Jesus” works for me.
        I don’t want to be a spoilsport but ‘kids saying the darndest things’ is accidentally clver and needn’t be exploited.

  10. path to nowhere

    Re: “Lockheed says makes breakthrough on fusion energy project”

    Never mind that the reactor uses tritium because “[it] is made from natural lithium deposits.” They don’t tell you that it is made using traditional heavy water nuclear reactors, and that there is only 165 lbs remaining in storage (slated for use in the current nuclear weapon arsenal).

    “It [sic] said future reactors could use a different fuel and eliminate radioactive waste completely.” Ah…always a different fuel in the future.

  11. aliteralmind

    Sixty Days To Beat Ebola, United Nations Warns

    “We either stop ebola now [in the next sixty days, by 12/1], or we face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan.”

    This, and the foolish, selfish nurse who flew on a plane, knowing she was a prime ebola candidate–yet somehow thinking that calling the CDC would make her foolish, selfish act justifiable–has scared the bejeebers out of me.

    I have two boys in two elementary schools (all K-2 in one school, all 3-4 in another), and my wife is a teacher in a third. We are on the front lines of this and it has the potential of being a real armageddon scenario.

    When this afflicts its first US child…

  12. wendy

    These nurses who’ve been infected with Ebola and are getting specialized care – not to be crass, I feel terrible for them and truly hope they are well-card for and fully recover – but my question is, who’s paying for that care? will these nurses nurse ultimately be bankrupted by it?
    And if not, I hope this is a is first step towards truly public (as in non-private) health care. it’s a slippery slope, isn’t it, to provide only *some* health care free of charge?

    1. Yellowrose

      Yes, public health care (single payer – as in extending the age of more cost efficient Medicare coverage for all) is the better solution – unless you profit from private health insurance, errm “wealth insurance” – in which case you most certainly want individuals to pay and to pay the fully inflated prices that could never be charged to Medicare or single payer. For the wealth insurance industry Ebola (or even the fear of Ebola) could be a bonanza, no?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That would be crazy. How gutted? Can’t be so gutted that those nurses are not covered?

  13. charles 2

    Re: fusion
    This project is a long shot. There seems to be quite a lot of excitement lately on the fusion side. Is it because there is government money to be grabbed ?

    This being said, this is better than showering money on bankers… Doing long shot technological progress is the best jobs program I can think of.

    Note : Yves, don’t be too excited by activated fusion reactor parts, they decay quite quickly (around a century from what I read, not really worse than a conventional unexploded ordinance)

  14. steviefinn

    QE to infinity – but hasn’t it been shown that QE suffers from serious diminishing returns & Abenomics is a total disaster ?

    The Troika remind me of a certain pet shop owner & the EU is a bit like a certain Norwegian blue parrot.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      QE to infinity.

      That’s different from infinite amount of government spending. The former never trickles down at all, while the later might eventually…after Big Military and Big Business take their cuts.

      There is a saying, if you know what you are doing, it takes one cut with a good, sharp samurai’s sword. And if you don’t (or pretend not to) it takes many cuts, with a blunt butcher’s knife, and the job is still not done.

  15. Andrew Foland

    On fusion–none of the relevant scientific sites have anything on this, it’s only a press release and video. That’s not a good sign. The claimed development is a new form of plasma confinement–a seriously well-studied subject. New ideas are always possible and could very well work, but there ought to be a long trail of papers before taking it seriously.

    From a radiation perspective fusion is (generally) much less troublesome than fission.

    1. craazyboy

      It’s from Lockheed “Skunk Works” – which is the top secret division.

      I’d actually give this higher cred that any much publicized and papered sources, which tend to be underfunded and have to publish to get funding somehow. Lockheed has deep pockets, and the ear of DARPA, the DOD, etc…

      They say they can have a working demo in one year, so that is a very short timeframe to validate the technology. That indicates they are very far along with the basic research. Then it doesn’t take long to find out if this is for real or not.

      1. Paul Niemi

        I have been following fusion news stories for 35 years. The physics has not changed: at the temperature and pressure of nuclear fusion, all substances known to man will melt, and that is the problem. It’s why the sun is large. Now there is a technique to preserve government line items for projects that spend money, and it is to announce a “breakthrough” every few years. This has been going on since Jules Verne, at least. Maybe Lockheed Martin has had a breakthrough in design of a fusion reactor, except the news stories gave no specific details about what that design breakthrough actually entails. Honestly, if they can show their machine can sustain a fusion reaction for .01 second, and not then need a year-long overhaul, or have neutrons perforating the building and bystanders, I’m still going to be skeptical.

        1. Clive

          As the running joke which the members of patient group I’m involved in keeps repeating goes: “Please, no more ‘breakthroughs’ unless they really are breakthroughs”

        2. craazyboy

          Those thoughts ran thru my mind too – containment is a huge problem, tho solved in that Spiderman movie.

          The thing that gave me some hope is Lockheed is a zillion dollar corp and one year of funding a research project is just an aerosol sized drop in the bucket in their income statement and hardly worth setting up a con job on the USG. Not to say we don’t find out many problems on the path to commercialization – which is always the problem with R&D.

          So betting one year of cash for the something like the 10% success rate that R&D projects usually have doesn’t sound like a bad gamble to me.

          1. Invy

            Their profit is in the range of 3 billion… Fusion research is expensive and risky, I don’t see them traveling this road without big government backing them. Even then it will likely be a loss overall as the rarely go as planned.

            1. craazyboy

              If we take a huge leap of faith and assume rational procurement/funding procedures on the part of whatever USG agency gets involved, I would assume first they would send in some qualified people for a sit down at the Skunk Works and they would say something like “OK, show us what you’ve got so far”.

              Then based on this perhaps fund a year of research with a defined milestone and progress can be assessed again at that point. Lockheed seems to be saying they can demo the first step in that timeframe.

        3. not_me

          The physics has not changed: at the temperature and pressure of nuclear fusion, all substances known to man will melt, and that is the problem. Paul Niemi

          Except the plasma can contain ITSELF: see Spheromak.

          AI is problematic but practical nuclear fusion is a near certainty.

            1. craazyboy

              haha. See Spiderman movie.

              But that’s what we’ve got researchers for – to answer questions like that.

              Truth be told, any form of concentrated energy is very dangerous. It’s all like playing with fire.

              1. not_me

                It’s all like playing with fire. cb

                A fire that VERY easily goes out in the case of fusion. Contrary to fission where the problem is to control an inherently dangerous reaction, the problem with fusion is to make and keep things reacting. And in the case of deuterium, the thing to be reacted is simply a stable isotope of hydrogen which is extracted from water; we drink it every day.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  The same with your regular fire.

                  You have to keep feeding it oxygen and inflammable materials to keep it going.

                  And oxygen is harmless like water.

                  But a fire is dangerous without it keeping going. So, keeping it reacting is a different, or additional, issue from what damage it can do.

    2. gordon

      So very bored with fusion. So very, very bored. I have been reading about hugely expensive and lavishly Govt. funded “fusion research” ever since I can remember. Now if only somebody could find some way of using all that faith and enthusiasm manifested by adolescent-minded SF fans when they talk about fusion, we really would have an endless source of energy.

  16. craazyboy

    Oh-oh. Bad news. 1 out of 12 Fed board members opines QE doesn’t cure Ebola.


    But it’s early still. Keep an eye out for dissenting views. Maybe in time for the 2:00PM Water Cooler and market close.

    1. James


      Need to pay closer attention to the wording. He was only referring to the “economic threat” and not necessarily the disease itself. Therefore QE could still be plausibly extended to encompass that possibility, or any of a host of others for that matter as well. Besides, I’m sure Ebola’s still being viewed as a possible economic boon by some, especially if it can be targeted against the unemployed/unemployable and/or spur a boom in PPE and related supplies.

      1. craazyboy

        Very true. Plus if Ebola collapses the economy, then that would be “deflation” – and of course QE would be the Fed tool of choice in that case.

          1. craazyboy

            You heard it here first. Next it’s on the News. This sounds like a fun game!

            “St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the central bank should consider delaying its plans to halt its vast bond-buying program in light of unexpectedly light inflation expectations”

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Here is a solution (to the crashing market problem) without spending any money (so far).

              That’s what smart people – they solve problems with minimal amount of money.

              And then, there are some who just keep dropping more money and actually make the problem worse (e.g. give no interest money to those who would use it to buy robots to replace human workers).

  17. Garrett Pace

    “To assuage concerns among its users, Facebook said this month that it would introduce a new process for reviewing potentially sensitive research, although it did not say what that would mean.”

    That means they will stop describing their test results publicly. If they had kept quiet, nobody would have noticed.

  18. bruno marr


    My experience with electronic medical records is that many of the physicians and nurses either don’t understand the system (inadequate training) or the software is (typically) “buggy” and prone to frustrate the best intentions of healthcare providers.

    1. Garrett Pace

      I know one dept. at a local hospital last year was having so much trouble and uncertainty with their e-records that they were contemplating going back to paper.

  19. craazyboy

    “Ebola protective kit….”

    Been researching this too, and so far my initial conclusion is that, barring taking a full blown blast of the bodily fluid “phlegm” in the face, it’s the stuff on the outside of anything that gets ya.

    So it’s the little boogars that fall to the ground that we need to worry about.

    UV light is considered moderately effective. UV disinfecting lamps are on Amazon for about a $100. Mulled over buying one for a few hours, then did a walk thru going to Wal-Mart and back to my place just to pretend how my new UV protected life may go. The big problem is when I re-enter my place with my arm loads of Wal-Mart goodies. With my imaginary UV light first I disinfected the bottoms of my shoes. Then spent the next 10 minutes carefully going over my clothing, but avoiding UV skin and eye contact, which is warned against in the UV lamp instructions. They say don’t use it on food either, so the kale which I intend to cook well done went into the fridge. ( a good place to store Ebola for a long period of time, if you are so inclined)
    Next, a hand washing with anti-microbial soap, and on to the inside and outside of the shopping bags, and of course all the content within using my invisible wand.

    This required enough wand waving to make Harry Potter surrender to the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.

    I haven’t purchased the UV lamp yet, tho I did pick up an ample supply of anti-bacterial hand soap while at Wal-Mart.

    If you are in an airborne boogar environment, like an indoor place or, God forbid, a sealed up airplane with air conditioning, N95 masks are 20 for $16. N100 masks cost about 10X more. Closed googles are about $6 or $7. What you do about your clothing is still up to you.

  20. rich

    James Risen on the Freedom, Privacy, and Abuses of Power in Post-9/11 America

    New York Times investigative reporter James Risen reveals the alleged hidden costs of the U.S. war on terror. He discusses the squandered and stolen dollars and what he calls outrageous abuses of power in the name of fighting terrorism. He’s the author of a new book Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. In 2006 Rison won a Pulitzer Prize for his stories about warrantless wiretapping by the NSA. Recently, the Justice Department has issued Risen subpoena asking him to reveal his sources for a story he included in his 2006 book State of War.

  21. susan the other

    Just a note on Adam Levitin’s comment via Credit Slips about the Doomsday Book and MERS… that logically such a book would contain the bedrock legalities of title registration and the chain, etc. It was surprising to Levitin that no such info seems to exist because it it did certainly the DB would be made public! And how quickly we all forget that MERS has been a verboten subject for 6 years. Suddenly they’re gonna talk about it?

  22. susan the other

    So, in light of the Telegraph’s AEP thing on QE forever. If the anxiety index (derivatives) is valued at 1.2 quadrillion dollars, is it possible that the “commerce” of the world is worth that? Sounds a little high since all other things besides those monetary are not valued at all. It’s like, Who cares what anything is worth? And the question always floats above my conscious unconsciousness: What comes after capitalism, aka free marketeering, flames out? What is the logical next step. We can’t do QE forever without some good rationalization. Is everybody gonna go to confession now?

    1. William C

      The last time I thought I understood the derivatives market, I wondered if a major reason for it having such enormous gross outstandings was so that traders could value their postions (each using a different discount rate) and conclude that everyone’s position had made a large profit and therefore everyone had earned a large bonus. So the larger the gross outstandings the larger the bonuses? But then maybe I misunderstood, or maybe things have changed (it would be nice) .

    2. craazyboy

      The way I see it, and I might be wrong, but we want to have a functioning “market” * post apocalypse so that when the space aliens arrive and take over the planet, Wall Street will be up and running under autonomous control, and the space aliens can just attend to whatever other matters are necessary to re-populate the Earth. It’s the only thing that makes any sense.

      * I mean both stock AND credit markets, of course.

        1. hunkerdown

          Is it just me, or have markets been imbued with every bit of reverence formerly reserved for the Old Testament’s supreme deity? Jefferson had his own Bible; why not the New Democrats?

          1. craazyboy

            There is FedWire too. Soon FedWire will go sentient, read about econ on the Net, and realize its Holy Task is to supply liquidity to the two HFT Bots so that they may continue to trade indefinitely with each other, even if one Bot may occasionally “win” and transfer all the money to Grand Cayman.

            It’s called the Trinity. Or should be.

            1. hunkerdown

              And then Brahma shall wake up and ungracefully shut down those electric dreams… and none too soon.

Comments are closed.