Links 11/14/14

Landmark 20-Year Study Finds Pesticides Linked to Depression In Farmers Modern Farmer

Police in California and Texas Test Networked Guns MIT Technology Review (David L). Great in theory but police will resist unless the reports can be tampered. On the other hand, doctored reports would make for fantastic evidence in court….

Climate Change: Afghanistan on Front Line (& You Thought the Taliban were Bad) Juan Cole


Liberia ends Ebola emergency; Mali cluster grows CIDRAP (furzy mouse)

Exclusive: MSF should have called for Ebola vaccine earlier, says aid group Reuters. Wow, this story should be a test of NC reader critical thinking skills, but I’ll spoil the fun. First, this is a single sourced story. Second, tell me exactly how much influence a call from MSF would have had in getting Big Pharma to develop a vaccine faster. Ebola has been around since the 1970s. It’s hardly unknown. Third, it takes time to develop vaccines. Even if MSF had made noise earlier, it’s not clear if a few months of extra warning would have made bupkis worth of difference in development timetables. Fourth, it has been widely reported that Big Pharma ignored Ebola because it didn’t see the profit potential there. Having MSF (one aid group, admittedly the most experienced) say it was getting out of control in Africa wouldn’t have changed that. And why was the onus on MSF to make that call? The WHO and national governments have vastly greater ability to put pressure on Big Pharma than MSF, which has never been in the business of lobbying private industry.

Oh, and there is a fifth issue here: with front line health care workers being most at risk, as in the MSF workers themselves, a call for a vaccine by them would be seen as self-interested and thus discounted. And how many MSF workers died treating Ebola? Last figure I saw was four in treating thousands of cases. Four is tragic, but it’s not enough to motivate Big Pharma to crank up its drug development machinery.

Let’s face it: what forced Big Pharma to get off its tush was Ebola cases in advanced economies. Period. Nothing MSF said about black people or its own workers dying in Africa would have mattered. Big Pharma sees no money in treating the poor in third world countries. Hysteria in advanced economies, on the other hand, and in particular, hysteria from politically powerful people, is quite another matter.

So this story looks like an obvious plant that amounts to a bald-faced effort to shift blame from Big Pharma and public health bureaucracies to MSF(to the extent you think blame is warranted; I still think the fears over Ebola are way overdone. It would be vastly more efficient to improve containment and care efforts in Africa. And let me again remind you that given how Ebola infects people, the targets for an Ebola vaccine is front line health care workers, and not the public at large, except in areas where the infection is widespread. So this means that there is no way Big Pharma would develop a vaccine absent government pressure, and MSF was in no position to deliver that).

US–China emissions deal will put pressure on Australian growth china Spectator. “Australia still seems intent on taking the most parochial, least enlightened position of all G20 attendees on climate change” thanks to Tony Abbott.

Plans for Pushback Against China Lose Steam as Asean Meeting Begins Wall Street Journal. Lambert: “So much for the pivot to Asia.”

Next Phase in Currency Wars: Yen Plunge, Yuan Devaluation, and “Tidal Wave of Westbound Deflation” Michael Shedlock (furzy mouse)

Eurozone economy returns to growth Financial Times

IMF’s Post-Crisis Austerity Call Mistaken, Watchdog Says Bloomberg. this is huge.

Tim Geithner reveals in the raw how Europe’s leaders tried to commit financial suicide Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph (Richard Smith). When Geithner comes off as the sanest guy in the room, you know it’s bad.

Traders Are ‘Scared As Hell’ Of What’s Happening In Venezuela Business Insider

Angola on the road of de-dollarization failed evolution


ISIS announces new currency CNN

Nationalist Youths Attack U.S. Sailors in Turkey New York Times (furzy mouse)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program Wall Street Journal

DRTBOX and the DRT surveillance systems Top Level Communications. Lambert: “Looks like the dirtbox technology (Boeing subsidiary) got its start in the prison industrial complex”

How Obama Endangered Us All With Stuxnet Daily Beast (furzy mouse)

Harry Reid Moves for Senate Vote on NSA Reform National Journal

Mission Creep-y: Google Is Quietly Becoming One of the Nation’s Most Powerful Political Forces While Expanding Its Information-Collection Empire Public Citizen

Et tu Poitras? Bill Blunden, Cryptome

How Democrats can fix their midterm turnout problem: By moving elections to presidential years Daily Kos. Carol B: “Are there two Valhallas of the inconsequential? I mean, this is screamingly funny. And so typical. Tiny Revolutions, indeed.” Yves: “This make it clear that the Democrats would rather do anything that suck less.”

Rahm Emanuel & His PACs Got $600K From Firms Managing Chicago Pension, Despite SEC Rule David Sirota, International Business Times

Exclusive: Controversial U.S. energy loan program has wiped out losses Reuters (EM). We thought the criticism of Solyndra was way overdone but we didn’t have the bandwidth to weigh in at the time. It was venture-type lending. You expect some losses. You care about results on a portfolio basis. Solyndra got whacked by a not-readily-foreseeable collapse in solar prices, so it was not an unreasonable loan even with the benefit of hindsight.

Obama Administration Explores Ways To Collect Student Loan Payments Without Middlemen Huffington Post

Obama Plan May Allow Millions of Immigrants to Stay and Work in U.S. New York Times

A Fatally Flawed Switch, and a Burdened G.M. Engineer New York Times. Lambert: “Crapification.”

Massive MSR deal between Wells Fargo and Ocwen is officially dead Housing Wire (Deontos). Thanks to Benjamin Lawsky.

Oranges, lemons and forex: How to understand the market-rigging scandal Dan Davies. I beg to differ on the timetable of when conduct got to be problematic. I did a short study for the biggest foreign exchange dealer in London in 1984, which basically meant they had the biggest FX operation in the world. I saw clear cases of cheating customers then.

In market-rigging case, US Justice Department treats corporate criminals like juvenile offenders David Dayen, Guardian. Go Dave!

Longtime Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship indicted Charleston Gazette. See that? CEO indicted. Faces up to 31 years in prison. And not for crimes against the investing classes, either.

Class Warfare

Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Reveals Why Robots Really Are Coming For Your Job Business Insider (David L). Stiglitz says the Luddities were right.

FedEx workers at New Jersey facility vote against unionization Reuters (EM)

Black Panthers: The Musical TruthDig

Silicon Valley Shakedown Nation of Change (dcblogger). $1.21 an hour….

The Case for Trailer Parks National Journal (furzy mouse)

A House Is Not a Credit Card Bethany McLean, New York Times (Fred A). Note this website regularly pointed out how more than half the subprime mortgages written prior ot the crisis were cash-out refis. McLean neglects to mention that many of these loans had to be refied; they had two-year teaser rates and the borrower would not be able to afford the payments after the reset. So originators would call borrowers prior ot the reset date to refi, and would encourage them to borrow more since their house was worth more. Countrywide would call some borrowers a mere six months after they got a mortgage, and falsely tell them their mortgage was about to reset and they needed to refi pronto.

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse). Don’t try this at home.

hugging tiger links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. proximity1

      News update! ;^ ) Tiger may be some sort of other cat—or maybe even a hoax, non? The sole photo I’ve seen so far (shown also via BBC’s report) is truly an UWA (unidentified walking animal. ) As Special Agent Gibbs was heard to say of a CCTV captured photo, “I’ve seen better pictures of Sasquatch.”

      “Tigre et clowns en liberté, c’est vraiment le cirque en France”

      Par, publié le 14/11/2014 à 10:16

      En savoir plus sur

      It might not be/probably isn’t even/ etc. a real “tigre”.

            1. ambrit

              I’ll give them credit for having a wiki on wireheads.
              Google has ‘droid’ as a related search. Hmm….
              However, considering what a droud is, and the uses it can be put to, silence on the subject by the MSMs is no surprise.

  1. diptherio

    In market-rigging case, US Justice Department treats corporate criminals like white, wealthy juvenile offenders

    There, fixed it. I sure wish they’d treat these crooks like they do poor black (and white) kids who get shanghaied into the system…and vice versa–black kid steals a candy bar, fine JPM a couple million bucks. That’d make at least as much sense as what they do now…

  2. diptherio

    Another note on Re-fis: a friend got a couple sub-prime mortgages and both times, the sales pitch from the mortgage lender included something along the lines of “So your interest rate and monthly payments are going to go up after a couple of years, but don’t worry: you can just refinance before that happens.” Fortunately, it worked out for him, basically–but the point is that lenders were using the ability to re-fi as a sales tactic to get people to sign who otherwise would have been put off by the balloon-payments and increasing rates.

    1. ambrit

      Yep. Just look at all the newly foreclosed houses coming on the market. Unless the Feds come up with a new “user friendly” mortgage re-fi scheme pdq, it’s going to be a bottom feeders paradise.

  3. rich

    Conflicted Governor Rauner: Rahm’s Mentor

    Private equity underwriter (PEU) Bruce Rauner won the Illinois Governorship and made the news for taking political donations from executives at firms that manage state pension funds. Doing so is against the law, but when do laws apply to the greed and leverage boys or their sponsored politicians? Pretty much never.

    PEUs exploded after the new millennium, becoming ubiquitous under Presidents Bush and Obama. Rauner mentored ex-Congressman Rahm Emanuel, steering him into investment banking. Emanuel went on to serve as President Obama’s Chief of Staff and Chicago Mayor.

    Here’s what the PEU virus delivers:

    Illinois Governor-elect Bruce Rauner accepted more than $140,000 worth of campaign donations from executives affiliated with firms in which Illinois pension systems have investments, according to documents reviewed by the International Business Times.

    But back to public pension money and Rauner’s conflict:

    Financial disclosure documents show he still retains ownership stakes in 15 GTCR entities. Though Rauner said he retired from the firm in 2012, SEC documents show he retains a partnership stake in at least one GTCR subsidiary. The two state pension systems he will now oversee as governor list GTCR as managing state money.

    It gets more twisted when one considers Rauner’s GTCR is also a big investor in health care, which taxpayers fund through state Medicaid programs. Rauner has layers and layers of conflicts.

  4. Juneau

    MSF and Call for Vaccines: Apples and Oranges. The person writing this article is making numerous claims that should be substantiated. Firstly, bearing witness means having the guts to go there and see what is happening. What is remarkable is that they became the most important and effective agent in the EBola fight and that the international authorities took so long to step in aggressively. It was never MSF’s responsibility to protect the World Health (perhaps another Organization had that mission?). In following this since August, I concluded that they spoke up about the lack of international response after giving the global authorities time to respond and did a courageous job of it. They chose to go to West Africa out of the goodness of their hearts.

    13 MSF staffers have died. They have the best PPE protocols but they are not meant to provide global public health protection. The individual writing this article betrayed them. The issue regarding Dr. Khan goes beyond their purview, again, as higher authorities should be protecting the brain trust that may eliminate this disease (like maybe governments, Central public health organizations for Disease Control, etc….). MSF is there to help the poor. That is their mission it seems to me. Who knows what the real story is there.

    1. Jonathan Nguyen

      Somewhat ironic timing with Liberia lifting its state of emergency and WHO reporting the incidence rate in Guinea & Libera may no longer be increasing nationally. These gains, plus the success of Nigeria, have all come from conventional “identify and contain” practices.

      The cynic in me sees big Pharma seizingn opportunity to capitalize on a culture of fear to garner government windfalls. Are any other sources echoing Bradol’s claim that: “It’s very hard to imagine controlling this epidemic now without a vaccine.”?

      Elsewhere in Ebola irony, I totally thought CNN’s headline ‘Out of control’: How the world reacted as Ebola spread might actually be in regards to their fearmongering, but nope, it’s a completely sincere chronology of their reporting.

  5. diptherio

    Re: IMF Advised Outright Stupidity in Wake of Crisis

    Kenneth Rogoff, chief economist at the IMF from 2001 to 2003, said the fund “was in good company” with the Federal Reserve and private economists in giving rosy outlooks.

    “Clearly a big factor underlying IMF advice after the crisis was that its growth forecasts were consistently way too optimistic for most advanced economies,” said Rogoff, a Harvard University professor.

    Crisis-era research by Rogoff and Harvard economist Carmen Reinhart, used to justify austerity in the U.S. and Europe at the time, was at the center of a storm in economics last year after flaws were revealed.

    Data Omission

    Reinhart and Rogoff acknowledged in April last year that they had inadvertently left some data out of their calculations, in response to a paper questioning their methods released by researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The economists said they had inadvertently left some data out of their calculations, while saying the error didn’t change the thrust of their research.

    Um, not only did they “inadvertently” leave data out of their calculations, they refused to let anyone look at their data and calculations for years (decades?). Strange behavior for academics, where peer-review and reproducibility of results are supposedly pretty important…unless, of course, you’re trying to cover up intentional malfeasance.

    And they’re still lying about their research. The inclusion of the excluded data changed their correlation coefficient considerably, wiping out the supposed groaf-killing effects of budget deficits. I’m pretty sure Rogoff is evil, not just stupid.

    And as for that first bit: what conclusion should we draw from that statement? Here’s my take-away: the IMF, the Fed, and most economists don’t know what the heck they’re doing and have their craniums planted firmly, and deeply, in their rectums…oh, but now we should listen to them, ’cause I’m sure they’ve totally remedied that situation…NOT!!!!

  6. mk

    “The Case for Trailer Parks National Journal (furzy mouse)” – the problem with trailer parks and manufactured homes, at least in the Los Angeles area, is the land lease, it can get quite expensive, worst than HOA payments. Like $800/month or more (in addition to your loan payments for the trailer)… And there is no way to stop these monthly payments from going up. I suspect most trailer parks are owned by investors, so monthly charges are sure to rise…

    1. ambrit

      From my experiences, most trailer parks are our modern version of Dickensian slums. They serve the perhaps inevitable purpose of being the Whitechapel red light districts for many metropolises. The bottom line is that if society doesn’t want to spend the time and treasure to improve the lives of its’ less fortunate members, it will figure out some way to ‘contain’ them and their problems, preferably out of the sight of their “betters.”

      1. wbgonne

        Penthouses and mansions for the Rich. Trailer parks and micro-apartments for everyone else (if they’re lucky). The New Normal. The American Dream has become a nightmare.

        1. trish

          micro isn’t the main problem. extortionary rents is, and often for apartments that are crap, run down or cheaply constructed within and without…These kinds of hovels, slums, and trailer parks for everyone else…and yes, if they’re lucky.

      2. cwaltz

        We’ve got actually a fairly interesting experiment going on in my neck of the woods. We have housing for middle wage workers(corporate research center folks) being built on a block that has several mobile home parks located on it. It isn’t complete yet but I do find it interesting that HUD is helping to fund it(big ol billboard in front of the project.)

        Our landlord is a bit of a jerk but I will give him this, each year we have an increase of $8. He is very clear in the letter he sends out that the $8 increase is to ensure that those of us who live here don’t have steep increases later on. There are definite disadvantages to living in a trailer park but for the most part the owners seem to recognize they can’t gouge the people who live here.

        1. ambrit

          You are one of the lucky ones. The trailer parks I took co-workers home to after shift, or did plumbing repairs in were for the most part overpriced dumps. (I must be associating with the wrong crowd.)
          I found your mentioning that there were several trailer parks on a single block interesting. Here Down South, most of the trailer parks I’ve seen encompassed entire city blocks themselves, said blocks usually being on the edge of the suburban zone. (Lower land prices coupled with weaker zoning requirements usually tempt trailer park owners into the rural fringe. Close proximity to a transportation corridor helps insure a supply of working and semi working tenants.) All that being said, rents in general are outrageously high when compared to the populaces’ income levels. I have seen cases in the last few years of trailers in small parks being rented out by the week, with a premium added to the price. This takes advantage of those who can’t raise the deposits generally required for monthly rental. (Since deposits are usually a multiple of the monthly rent, as rents increase, so do deposit levels. So, not only are most people falling behind in their ability to pay the rents, they are also being double slammed in raising the deposits.) As the number of people losing their homes to the foreclosure disaster increases, I expect the upward pressure on rents, at all levels, to follow suit. I know several people who are now living in their cars. They have incomes, of a sort, but can’t make enough to afford rent. (The hobo jungle next to the Wal Mart I have mentioned before was cleaned out by the cops last spring, and the area is now heavily posted and patrolled.)
          Down here, most of the corporate research is done in an “Incubator Park” associated with the local Universities. I don’t know any of the people working in it, but our son does. He describes what I can only think of as a typical bunch of graduate students.

        2. bruno marr

          …that big ol’ billboard is required by the terms of the HUD funding. Folks want recognition, ya know.

      3. jrs

        It’s the high end version in that case. Have you seen how sophisticated homeless housing is getting … not just boxes but roofs, trash cans outside etc. all underneath the overpass, whole homeless villages, almost neighborly everyone with their little plot (don’t call them Obamavilles).

  7. Petey

    How bizarre is it that a ‘Torygraph’ columnist, (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard), seems to be the most prolific voice of sanity on Eurozone matters?

    I mean, he’s not advocating for the necessary full-on Keynesian monetary stimulus necessary by temporarily suspending the 3% deficit limit, but otherwise, he’s been spot-on for quite a while. The ‘Torygraph’ certainly isn’t where I’d expect to find sanity…

  8. Petey

    “When Geithner comes off as the sanest guy in the room, you know it’s bad.”

    Certainly no fan of Geithner, (or most of the Obama administration’s economic policy), but everyone has always acknowledged that the comparison with Olli Rehn made the execrable Geithner look like Jesus Christ…

  9. Banger

    Re: Stiglitz:

    I urge people to read or listen to the work of Federico Pistono who wrote, a few years back, the book Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That’s OK. He brings up some interesting ideas worth entertaining.

    I think most work is useless and stupid, btw and that we are wasting our lives living in a toxic economy and we should be avoiding not encouraging jawbz. Personally, I don’t mind working at all in terms of actual activities I have to do–I view it as “chop wood and carry water” Zen training but for most people this pestilence of meaninglessness is harmful. We have to do it sometimes to feed our families but barring that avoid work.

    At any rate–the dramatic improvements of robots will only increase their presence in our economy and we should welcome them since it forces us to seek meaning and sustenance elsewhere–the emergence of robots and AI forces us to look at what we want society to be and what we want out of life individually and collectively which, to me, is a really good thing because I believe we no have the technology to produce abundant food and provide elegant engineering solutions to our energy and other technical problems as well as how and where we live. Sadly, most people want to wallow in the nostalgic past with our obsolete 19th century educational system, 18th century political system, early 20th century medical model and so on.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It looks like you couldn’t be bothered to read the Stiglitz piece. I suggest you do that before opining.

      Stiglitz makes the point clearly that robot-induced unemployment leads to workers not finding replacement work. In theory this problem should be solvable but in practice it isn’t, to the degree that similar work displacement led to the Great Depression (and recall that Stiglitz is the most cited economist in the world, and hence by an objective standard can claim to be the best).

      More or less the same thing happened in the first two generations of the Industrial Revolution. English workers saw a decline in their standard of living and urban slums exploded. There’s a reason that both Marx and Dickens inveighed against industrial capitalism in their different ways.

      1. Banger

        Sorry but I did read the piece. What I’m saying, and I must have not made it clear, is that we don’t need replacement work as such but a new definition of work, human society and our place in it. Robotics and the general movement around the Singularity movement demands that we rethink what it means to be human because, as Stiglitz and others note, there is no solid replacement work on the horizon.

        As for the horrors of Dickensian times, to some extent the situation was bad–but others did quite well particularly the middle-classes and those that remained on the land with property. Those that suffered were the landless and displaced. Life, on balance, at the end of the 19th century in Britain was better than life before for most people–depending how you define “better.” Another example cited by many including Studs Terkel was that, while life during the Depression, was very hard for many, there was an improvement in conviviality due to solidarity among people who, according to accounts I’ve read, were more ready to share. One of the great advantages of that period was that when WWII began Americans, already used to solidarity, did not have to be convinced to “pull together” in the war effort. That mood lasted until the 60s when the U.S. encountered multi-faceted series of cultural traumas.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The real land-lords are the Little People – they are, or rather we are, the lords of the land.

              Often we forget that…we forget when new money is created, we don’t have earn it through blood, sweat and tears as it trickles down via government spending. That money is ready for the people – the Lords of the Land – to spend. Unfortunately, through conditioning, we ‘think’ we have to be worthy and we have to be ‘deserving’…the Protestant work ethic.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              To repeat: always remember, the Little People are the real Lords of the Land (landlords).

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          ‘Another example cited by many including Studs Terkel was that, while life during the Depression, was very hard for many, there was an improvement in conviviality due to solidarity among people who, according to accounts I’ve read, were more ready to share.’

          A glimpse into a happier world with less GDP (but more equitably shared)???

      2. Bridget

        “I believe we no have the technology to produce abundant food and provide elegant engineering solutions to our energy and other technical problems as well as how and where we live. ”

        Which will have to be produced by somebody else because special snowflakes can’t be bothered with useless and stupid work and jawbz and mundane stuff like that.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I believe the key question is ‘who owns the robot?’

      If your boss owns the robot that takes your job, that’s bad for you.

      If you own the robot that now can go to work 8-5, M-F, for you, why not?

      Of course, like very science and technology innovation, we have to ask, who is funding it? In this case, it’s Capital. (Sometimes it is Big Rich Brother, Big State and they like to study the brain or particle physics…not to impress their friends at soirees, of course, or on a weblog, but for manipulation and domination.)

      So you can be sure that Capital ownership of robots puts Labor at a disadvantage.

      That’s why we have to be able to envision, first, home-made robots….robots you and I can build. Start a social movement, like homemade surfboards, homemade ham radios, homemade beer, etc and soon, we too have our own robots to go up against Labor’s robots.

      Right now, if you are a worker, robots are a menace….not something to help you to a more meaningful life.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There is a Marketwatch article today about the disappearing $1 tip.

          Do you have to tip robot beer-fetching waitresses?

  10. Eureka Springs

    Justice Dept Spy Planes Spy on Most Americans’ Cellphones

    Outrageous, FUBAR! That screamed, perhaps we’re are going about our blogging and screaming the wrong way.

    I’m going to call everyone I know with a cell phone and talk about war/torture crimes as well as banksters. Oh and that long dead Fourth Amendment. Probably should find one of those burner phones to do so.

    1. wbgonne

      Evidently, Obama’s constutional expertise is regarding the Soviet Union’s constitution. Who knew?! The Rule of Law is inviolate. More show trials! IOW: go with the burner.

      1. James Levy

        I’ve been re-reading Perry Anderson’s Lineages of the Absolutist State and trying to fit the world I see around me into his matrix. Anderson argued that the nobility more or less willingly surrendered power to the Monarchy (with the provision of sinecures and tax breaks for the nobles) in order to create an entity (the Absolutist State) that could keep the clamps down on the peasants and preserve social hierarchy and private property. I look at the wholesale destruction of the 4th Amendment and the collapse of Congress (which if you read the Constitution is in no way co-equal with the other branches but clearly dominant–Congress can get rid of Presidents and Supreme Court Justices and push forward Constitutional Amendments to outflank them both, but neither the Executive nor the Judicial Branches can legally touch Congress) and I see disturbing parallels to the earlier time. You often think, “won’t the PTB finally put a stop to this gutting of the Constitutional Order and the Rule of Law; I mean, all this nasty apparatus of control and coercion could be used against them”, yet they seem to just stand by idly and let it all go down the tubes. Perhaps they are reasoning like those aristocrats of old? Sure the king might lop off a few of our heads on trumped-up charges, by most of us will live safe and secure in our unimaginable abundance and relative power vis-à-vis the hoi polloi. Just another profit to loss calculation, I guess.

        1. Ulysses

          Very interesting comparison! Another potential similarity lies in how there are always powerful, shadowy figures behind the throne, who in many respects have the most real power in an absolutist system fronted by an hereditary monarch. Who are the analogues today of Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin?

  11. wbgonne

    Evidently, Obama’s constutional expertise is regarding the Soviet Union’s constitution. Who knew?! The Rule of Law is inviolate. More show trials! IOW: go with the burner.

  12. Andrew Watts

    RE: Harry Reid Moves for Senate Vote on NSA Reform

    If the Senate ends up passing the Freedom Act during the lameduck session I’ll consider it a minor defeat for our side. The money interests want to pass it in it’s current form and the administration wants to avoid a nasty struggle in Congress. It doesn’t mean anybody else should agree.

    “That sunset could very easily touch off an ugly intra-party battle among both Democrats and Republicans,” said Harley Geiger, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Transparency, which supports NSA reform. “Everyone expected it to be ugly.””

    That’s the entire point of that provision of the Patriot Act in the first place. It was meant to reinforce the checks and balances of our system of government and provide an outlet for democratic governance. Since when did people start thinking we didn’t want to fight?

    “We are not going to put an end to secrecy. It is at times legitimate and necessary. But it is possible to conceive that secrecy, a culture of secrecy, need not remain the only norm in American Government as regards national security. It is possible to conceive that a competing culture of openness might develop which could assert and demonstrate greater efficiency.” -Senator Moynihan (D-NY), Chairman’s Foreword of the Report of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy (1997)

  13. Light a Candle

    About the story criticizing MSF for not calling for vaccines earlier, CRASH does seem to be an internal review group of MSF, here’s a link to a CRASH blog And Jean-Herve Bradol, who is quoted, was the president of MSF from 2000-2008. And I have found Reuters to be a relatively unbiased news source.

    That said, I agree with Yves, ridiculous to think MSF could have successfully lobbied for Ebola vaccine.

    Interesting though the MSF has so many mechanisms for self-reflection. Big organizations should learn more from MSF.

  14. Andrew Watts

    RE: How Obama Endangered Us All With Stuxnet

    One of the many ironic aspects of the NSA’s internet and mass surveillance programs is that they’ve helped weaken the defenses that would protect the US’s infrastructure that the NSA itself is dependent on.

    In a previous comment I recounted the story about how the CIA allegedly planted a logic bomb in software that the KGB stole designed for the management of natural gas pipelines. I also mentioned that the US might have already been a victim of such an attack with the Northeast blackout of 2003. That story coincides nicely with the general context of Stuxnet the article provided. With an advanced piece of malware like Stuxnet there is a greater degree of control than the unrestrained use of a logic bomb. Despite all that I sincerely believe that Stuxnet wouldn’t have been deployed unless it was an act of retaliation.

    While it’s probably not a good idea to elaborate about this topic, as I have no doubt it’s top secret, I will say that I firmly believe Iran was behind it due to the geopolitical tensions at the time. Back in the late 90s, Senator Moynihan tried to warn the nation that such a cyber/electronic attack on our national infastructure was possible. Amusingly he thought that thirteen to fifteen year old hackers would be the culprit. Which should give everybody a good baseline threshold of how hard is is to pull off such a feat.

    At the time of the Northeast blackout there was a lot talk and preparations that made a war with Iran seem inevitable. The Iranians didn’t and haven’t offered any significant concessions in terms of their alleged plans for nuclear power since 2003. This is all a very bit of coincidental timing. It’s circumstantial evidence and honestly that’s all I really have because the scary thing about logic bombs is that they don’t leave any trace in the systems they infect. Everything is fine until it isn’t. In the destructive wake of a logic bomb it will look like an unremarkable software bug was the culprit. Guess what the investigation into the official cause was from the report on the Northeast blackout of 2003?

    A software bug that caused the Bush administration to emphasize the need for changes to the U.S. national energy policy, critical infrastructure protection, and homeland security (Wikipedia)

    1. Demeter

      I think not. The neglect of the Grid (especially in Ohio) and the lousy patchwork of interconnectivity between states was sufficient cause for the Balckout of 2003, without bringing in any extra “hacker’s influence”.

      Sometimes all that’s needed is basic Next Quarter Greed and institutional laziness to wreak disaster upon us all. Occam’s Razor, and all that.

      Now, for something that cannot be explained by the usual suspects, I would pick the exploding rocketry in the US-privatized space program….

  15. jerrydenim

    The Blakenship/Massey story is the best antidote ever! I wonder if he’ll get to wear his cowboy hat and American flag shirt while he “Freedom Jams” with Ted Nugent this fourth of July? Wow. Justice for a CEO criminal.

  16. Larry Headlund

    The Case for Trailer Parks National Journal
    This article is more press release than journalism. Consider the comparison

    The average sales price for a manufactured home in 2013 was $64,000, according to the Census Bureau, while the average sales price for a single-family home was $324,000. The single-family site-built home includes the land, though, while owners of manufactured homes often have to still grapple with landlords and leasing issues. But the structure itself is nevertheless significantly cheaper: New manufactured homes cost around $43 per square foot; site-built homes cost $93 per square foot.

    Not included in the square foot measurement of a conventional house (but included in the gross cost) is foundation or basement (40% of new houses have basements), garage (90% of new construction), bathrooms, driveways, walkways,landscaping and connection to utilities like gas,water,electric and sewage. None of these are in the price of the manufactured home. The real elephant is size; the average new convential single family is 2600 sq. ft., a manufactured home is 1575 sq. ft., 60% of the size. You can argue that the average house doesn’t need to be that big but there it is. One of the things driving the size increase in new construction is that the construction cost of all those extras does not go up in proporton to the house size. Does all this matter? Let’s look at the example from New Hampshire:

    New Hampshire residents Wanita Ordway and her husband Kevin … stumbled across a manufactured house last year that cost just $87,500 for the structure and the two acres of land it’s on.

    …They qualified for a loan worth $114,000

    Either the Aughts came back when I wasn’t looking and you can borrow more than 100% of the cost of a property or some of that $26,500 is going to pay for those extras. Assuming that they paid the average $64,000 for their manufactured home and say $20,000 for the extras (guess) they are now paying around $53 a sq. ft. The real kicker is the difference in interest rates

    their interest rate was 8.875 percent, much higher than most rates on a traditional 30-year fixed mortgage

    This translates as an extra $350/month or $125,000 over the life of the loan. Another way to look at it is it adds $70,000 to the price of the home, or $46/sq. ft.. Now the comparison would be $53 + $46 = $99 vs. $93 for a conventional home. This is not surprising since more or less constant costs (garage, utilities, etc.) are being absorbed by a smaller footprint.
    The article also contrasts the energy efficiency of new manufactured homes with Energy Star certification against older manufactured homes when the appropriate comparison would be against conventional homes with the same certification.
    I have friends and relatives who have purchased manufactured homes and were happy with their choice. There is a case to made for manufactured homes. It doesn’t need a gilding job.

    1. lordkoos

      There is a huge difference between trailer parks and manufactured homes. Many people by an acre or two and put a pre-fab house on it. Trailer parks are a whole different story… they can range from very nice to totally ghetto. The roughest looking neighborhood in our small town is a shabby trailer park that is well out of public view, inhabited primarily by Mexican immigrants.

  17. tr

    re Obama Administration Explores Ways To Collect Student Loan Payments Without Middlemen

    Is this the start of examining ALL private contractors who have been “[gifted] public responsibilities [who] cut corners or become mired in scandal,” all in order that they might profit immensely (with the joke as predicted on the public)?
    (interesting that last profiteering part isn’t mentioned in the piece despite “billions of dollars [paid out] over the last few years.”

    Hey, maybe next the obamacare middleman! Satisfies many of the same criteria, including “has become a nightmare for some.” In both cases, should say ‘many’…

    But then examine examine examine. Easy, this part. Good PR (and interesting timing). But then those economic interests at stake start the push back…

    Anyway, I’ll believe it when I see it.

    oh, and re “guided by the theory that taxpayers would save money and get more efficient and accountable work.” That was never the theory. The writer’s confused. that was the marketing gimmick.

  18. Anna Beaulieu

    I would so like to know more about the antidote du jour, especially this one big tiger.
    One can almost feel what it seems to feel….his or her eyes closed like that.

    Thank you.

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