Links 11/15/14

Researchers Got A Big Surprise When They Sequenced The Genomes Of The Longest Lived People Business Insider (David L). No magic gene, which suggests for a lot of people that longevity is a function of lifestyle.

Long-Term Cell Phone Use Linked to Brain Tumor Risk Medscape (Patrick F)

Countries Around The World Are Worried About ‘Killer Robots’ Business Insider (David L). Terminators coming to a war zone near you.

Sunken Soviet Submarines Threaten Nuclear Catastrophe in Russia’s Arctic Moscow Times (furzy mouse)

Danish Naval Architect Uncovers Important Clues to MOL Comfort’s Demise gCaptain

Rat poison chemical found in pills linked to India sterilization deaths Reuters


WHO: Experts favor controlled trials for Ebola treatments CIDRAP (furzy mouse)

The Pacific Age Economist (David L)

In veiled message to China, Obama renews commitment to Asia-Pacific pivot Reuters (furzy mouse). All hat, no cattle.

Eurozone dodges recession but submerges in ‘lost decade’ Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Eurozone growth figures: Germany narrowly avoids triple-dip recession Guardian

Signs of resistance against the neoliberal catastrophe in Europe failed evolution

Protests in Italy over job reforms Reuters

Greece is eurozone’s top performer Financial Times

Greece’s recession is over but unemployment is still 25.9 percent Washington Post

Dutch Fighter Jets Intercept Russian Plane Over Baltic Sea Moscow Times (furzy mouse)

Russia enacts ‘draconian’ law for bloggers and online media BBC

Russia’s Putin arrives to chilly reception at G20 CNN

Russia braced for ‘catastrophic’ oil plunge Financial Times


Ukraine PM wants focus on building army Aljazeera

As the Ukrainian ceasefire falters what next on sanctions? Open Europe

Russia sanctions ‘undermine trade’ BBC


UN says Islamic State imposing rule of terror in Syria BBC

Can the U.S. Defeat ISIS Without Removing Assad? Atlantic (furzy mouse)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon says billions needed for neglected U.S. nuclear force Reuters. EM: “Only a few days after bogus headlines about ‘savage defense cuts!’. There is definitely an organized ‘These kittens will die horribly if we don’t throw $trillions more into the bottomless pit of warmongery’ PR effort going on.”


Affordable Care Act’s Cost of Coverage to Increase in 2015 New York Times

Most Aren’t Going to Use the Insurance Exchanges Correctly Jon Walker, Firedoglake. The headline REALLY bothers me, as it says citizens are misbehaving by not going like good robots to their exchange every year. How about, “Most people don’t think it’s reasonable to have to shop for health insurance once a year for the rest of their lives. People keep their same homeowners and car policies year after year. Why should medical insurance be different? Who has the time to shop for insurance every year and stress out about whether migrating from one plan to a new one will work smoothly, and having to remember a new set of hospitals on the ‘permitted’ list. Shopping and changing are COSTS.” The balance of the post sorta makes this point but no where near forcefully enough. Carol B adds: “Read OldFatGuy at #4. Suze Orman has written that she had a broker’s license to sell insurance and can’t figure out the fine print of insurance policies. Presumably, the policies are written for that purpose.”

Obamacare enrollees overwhelmingly approve of quality and affordability of their new insurance Daily Kos. Carol B questions whether they have actually used it much/at all yet. Also, there may be sample bias, in that the skeptics may have opted not to participate (there are various permitted outs, and one is vague enough that mere mortals might try using it).

How a $47 Shrimp Treadmill Became a $3-Million Political Plaything The Chronicle of Higher Education (Lambert)

This Is the Left’s Confidential $100 Million Plan to Win Back the States Mother Jones. The $50 million it spent in 2014 looks to have been wildly ineffective, so why should throwing more money at this strategy produce better results? Plus I hate exaggeration: “largely unknown” does not equal “confidential”.

Fracking Boom Spurs Demand for Sand and Clouds of Dust Bloomberg

Waste Water from Oil Fracking Injected into Clean Aquifers NBC Bay Area (EM)

Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s Warburg Pincus to Profit from Tar Sands Exports Steve Horn

Forex banks prepare to claw back bonuses Financial Times

The finance curse as a new grand narrative? SPERI

Class Warfare

Exclusive: Ex-wife of US oil baron to appeal $1 billion divorce award Reuters (EM). I know billionaires are not a popular lot in these parts, but the wife happens to be right. That does not mean she’ll prevail.

Guess How Much Money Bill Gross Made Last Year? Barry Ritholtz (Ed Harrison)

High marginal tax rates on the top 1% VoxEU

Federal judges order California to expand prison releases Los Angles Times. Radley Balko via Twitter: “California AG’s office worries that if prisons release nonviolent inmates, the state will lose slave labor.”

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

baby elephant links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. JCC

      Although I did not read the article (I don’t need yet another internet login/password) the headline did not surprise me. As a SatCom Tech in the US Army Sig Corp (MOS 26Y) years ago as well as an Amateur Radio Op I have been inundated over the years with all the studies saying that these frequencies were dangerous close up. In fact in the Army we were required to read some of the summaries of these studies and take regular annual physicals looking for signs of physical degradation due to the close work around these high freq generating pieces of equipment.

      When talking to friends that were avid cell phone users about this stuff, I was often pointed to articles that stated that studies have been done showing that there was no harm and that there was no proof that there was harm, even though the US military itself had contracted multiple studies that showed that potential harm was a real and serious issue.

      Interestingly, I noticed that all the studies showing no harm and poo-pooing any study showing harm (or worse, denying any study showing harm had been done) all started appearing in the early to mid 2000’s, right about the time that the Big Guns (providers of infrastructure and manufacturers of the equipment) started rolling out cell phones on a mass scale. (Of course, noticing the time frame could have beeen a bias on my part since I never bothered owning a cell phone until about that time).

  1. David Lentini

    Genes Aren’t Destiny. But That Doesn’t Mean We Control Our Health Either.

    ” No magic gene, which suggest for a lot of people that longevity is a function of lifestyle. ”

    Not really. Biologists have fallen into a trap by assuming that evolution acts as a sort of Newtoian force on biological function and development. Since genes are the heritable material, the assumption is that genes act as as sort of prima causa to explain all sorts of biological and medical phenomina. They compound the trap by assuning the so-called “Central Dogma” of a one-to-one correspondence between genes and proteins, which are the real building blocks of organisms.

    But having been involved in the early search for telomerase inhibitors (I actually got to hold a Petri dish contining the first normal human cells immortalized by telomerase activation) life is not so simple. This should always have been obvious by simplly observing the great diversity of life and the general lack of predictability of many complex biochemical functions. But the real nail in that coffin was the Human Genome Project, which showed how few active genes we really have; thereby indicating that the one-gene-one protein model was wrong, and the relationship of genes to proteins is really many-to-many. Worse for those who want predictability, we continue to discover that proteins themselves are modified repeatedly by other proteins and that how proteins are folded—which is critical to how they function—can vary depending on many factors.

    In short then, the idea that “if it isn’t in your genes, it’s in your hands” is not a very useful rule. We really still understand very little about how our bodies function. I wish scientsts and the press would start being more circumspect, otherwise genetics will start looking a lot like economics.

    1. Christian

      Great explaination. As a student and practitioner of Nutritional Genomics it frustrates me to see this “nature vs. nurture” debate beling played out as exvidenced in the tag line that was written with the link; “no magic gene”. There may well be magic genes and there may well be foods we could eat/avoid that can assist the enzyeme those magid genes create. For more on the complexity of the pathways involved in DNA methylation and repair, as well genes that can create or remove oxidative stress, please see my Pathway Map:

      It is, and will always be, nature AND nurture.

      1. David Lentini


        What scares me more is how this phony determinism vs. free will arghument plays into the hands of the insurance insurance industry and goverment (pretty much the same in our Corporatist Brave New World). We’re getting squeezed between the pincers of gene-based justice and economics for what’s “natural”, and nudges, sticks, and carrots to “do the right thing”. All driven by an industry fed and nurtured by crappy science.

        1. jrs

          Even regardless of the genetics that argument strikes me as pure BS – that’s it’s all in our hands. Even if none of it were genes whatsoever, everyone already knows the society people live in has an effect on health, from pollution to social equity to social support to even prenatal experiences.

    2. Demeter

      And there is the growing study of the bacteria that colonize the human body, contributing their DNA to the mix either directly or indirectly by affecting digestion, immune systems, etc.

      It truly appears that without our “friendly” bacteria, we are dead or dying. Unhealthy, at least.

        1. craazyboy

          You can make homemade kefir, or water kefir – that has a broader range of little critters. I make water kefir – doesn’t use milk (fat) and costs almost nothing to make.

          You can buy milk kefir in the store now too, with active cultures. But it’s way too yummy to be good for you.

          1. lordkoos

            Amen on homemade kefir, we use 2% milk to make it. If you have dairy allergies, you don’t have to worry about Kefir as it converts the lactose to sugars. We don’t need to drink that much of it to get the benefits so the dairy fat isn’t really an issue for us. We’ve been making our own kefir for many years, and the health benefits are not hard to observe. It’s much easier to make than yogurt.

            There was a study done many years ago concerning an area of Georgia (the country, not the state) that had an unusually high number of people in their 90s and 100s. One of the factors that the researchers considered was the long tradition of drinking kefir in that region.

            1. lordkoos

              I should add, store-bought kefir is pricey and it’s not really live kefir, if it was, they would not be able to keep it in a sealed container.

    3. dearieme

      Well said, Mr Lentini. “No magic gene, which suggest for a lot of people that longevity is a function of lifestyle.” is just a non sequitur.

    4. MikeNY

      Thanks for this comment.

      From MSM accounts, it usually sounds like science is about to solve the last riddle: why there is something, and not nothing.

    5. Banger

      The best we can say about genes is that they turn on and off depending on complex environmental conditions. The problem with the “it’s in your genes” kind of viewpoint is that it reflects the degenerate intellectual foundation that most scientists or at least those who fund science have about the nature of matter and life itself. We know quite a lot and everything points to “complexity” not simple on and off switches which is such a seductive idea to those of very little brain. It’s a sort of intellectual fascism to suppose there are such simple answers to complex problems like disease or behavior. The data has been pointing in the other direction for some time though funding for studies that say, essentially, “it’s complicated” are not going to win anyone many accolades.

      1. TimR

        Banger- I wrote a reply to you in the “Water Cooler” for 11/14 (just in case you missed it and feel like responding.)

    6. cwaltz

      It also seems to focus on the genomes of those that live the longest. What about the fact that quite often that those who die young INHERIT genetic material that ultimately leads to their demise? It seems to ignore diseases like Downs Syndrome or Muscular Dystrophy. It also seems to ignore genes that can cause problems with lifestyles I daresay anyone asks for Schizophrenia or alcoholism but these genes cause real significant lifestyle problems for those that inherit them.

      Every other year science appears to tell us they have it all figured out only to circle the wagon the following year and tell us that the new study contradicts what they thought they learned in study one. I just wish they’d admit that while what they learn is useful it isn’t necessarily applicable. Science may indeed be able to explain everything but scientists still have a long way to go to get to that point.

    7. Oregoncharles

      There is a lot of evidence, like smoking, drinking 106-yr-olds, that lifestyle isn’t the answer, either.

      However, the lack of a SINGLE “magic gene” does not prove what they say it does. There’s a serious failure of logic here. There is no reason to think there would be or needs to be just one. In reality, there would be (at least) thousands, in an even larger number of permutations. Longevity, involving every single bodily function, is about the most complex function a body can have.

      Granted, there are lots of examples of single genes that SHORTEN it. but their conclusion doesn’t follow from that, either.

      It’s hard to trust scientists who fail at basic logic. What else did they get wrong? The design of their study?

      1. Vatch

        Thank you, Charles. I have been frustrated by other people’s statements that the lack of a single longevity gene implies that one’s genes don’t influence longevity. Longevity and behavior are influenced by a very complex interaction of heredity and environment, and as you point out, there must be a very large number of genes involved.

    8. Jeremy Grimm

      I focused on two trends in your thought. By questioning the Central Dogma you suggest we have an area needing a lot of basic research. Suggesting “we understand very little about how our bodies function”, in contrast with the dogmas that claim otherwise, I infer our basic research is skewed toward elaborating the dogmas. I am not in the life sciences, but I would strongly favor funding wholesale expansion of research into the basic science of biology. Aside from the benefits of better understanding disease mechanisms enabling the design of better drugs, and understanding how to better nurture the plants and animals of our world enabling their better husbanding, as well as many other benefits I lack the vision to see — I can think of no better teacher of the mysteries of chemistry than the mechanisms of the life around us and within us. We could learn and achieve so much if only we could cast off the yoke of neoliberal economics and politics that captured our science along with so much of the rest of our culture and society. It is hard not to grow bitter and angry seeing such potential sacrificed for the benefits of the undeserving few.

  2. Carla

    “Feeling shortchanged by a ruling that allows the Continental Resources (CLR.N) chief executive officer to keep around 94 percent of the estimated $18 billion rise in his Continental shares during a 26-year marriage, Sue Ann Hamm will appeal within a few weeks, one of her lawyers, Ron Barber, told Reuters on Thursday.

    She believes the decision was “not equitable,” Barber said.

    On Monday, Oklahoma County Court Judge Howard Haralson ordered the CEO, who is believed to own more oil than any other American, to pay his ex-wife $995 million. The ruling allows her to keep additional assets, including a California ranch and an Oklahoma home, worth tens of millions more.

    The Hamm v. Hamm divorce judgment is one of the largest in U.S. history, but Sue Ann’s award is a small fraction of the wealth Haralson allowed Harold Hamm to keep.

    He holds more than 68 percent of Continental’s stock, a stake valued at around $13.5 billion today. It was worth more than $18 billion before the 9 1/2-week divorce trial began in August. Continental shares have fallen sharply since then, in line with global oil prices….

    Continental holds a leading position in the Bakken Shale, the largest U.S. oil discovery in decades. Harold Hamm is often credited with pioneering its development.”

    This is disgusting. Yves, the wife is NOT any more in the right than her criminal husband. That ill-gotten wealth should be confiscated and returned to the citizens of Oklahoma and the United States. Would you say the wife of a Mafia don had the “right” to more than $1 billion of said Mafia don’s $18 billion — or $13 billion — fortune? And the Mafia are just pikers in the world of organized crime, where oil barons and bankers reign supreme.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Under the law, the wife is entitled to roughly half the marital assets. You don’t make a case as to why his gains are any more ill gotten than those, say, of Bill Gates, who has made buggy consumer software an acceptable standard. And to focus on her and him as opposed to, say the Kochs or the Walmart heirs is perverse.

      If you aren’t willing to accept rule of law for the rich, you can hardly expect it to apply to citizens at large, like homeowners facing foreclosure or people hounded by regulation-breaking debt collectors.

      And it looks like the spectacle of a rich woman wanting fair treatment bothers you. Plus you have no idea how she might spent her money. It can’t be any worse than what her husband would do with it.

      1. McMike

        Didn’t read the article, and won’t, but you’ve at least conceptually omitted the role of pre-nups. She’s indeed entitled to half, absent an agreement to the contrary.

        Just a guess here, but I suspect if I got to know them, I’d not feel much sympathy for either.

        Besides and frankly, I’d take the hard assets, and let him hold the bubble stock. They spend any more time sorting this out, and the issue could be moot. ;-)

        1. craazyboy

          Besides, if he only has $18 billion, he can only afford 18 wives as it is. That’s not that many, IMO. (‘course being single is waaaaay cheaper)

        2. Banger

          Actually prenups don’t always hold up. A family member found out ver quickly that there are ways around them.

        3. cwaltz

          It’s actually kinda interesting because in this case the wife was around for 25 + years and at several points was working for the Continental resources as an exec. She’s a lawyer and economist. So yeah I think she got a pretty raw deal as well. Additionally of not the divorce claim was HIS unfaithfulness so essentially he caused the dissolution of the union.

        4. optimader

          Put them on the APL Poland ( MOL Comfort sistership ) off the coast of Yemen ’til they work it out. HA! my half still floats!

        5. Yves Smith Post author

          She had no pre-nup. I had assumed any reader would take the trouble to the short article before commenting. Plus pre-nups can be declared invalid, for instance, if the lesser-earning (presumably female) spouse did not have independent counsel, or the pre-nup was sprung on the to-be-wed too close to the marriage (one hedgie, I forget who, did it right before the rehearsal dinner!)

  3. craazyman

    I gues they still haven’t caught that cat in Paris. It’s probably somebody’s overfed tom cat that just looked big standing next to a very small tree. It’s like the moon. You see it next to the horizon yellow and huge and it looks like The Rapture is upon us. Then an hour later you see it up in the sky and you wonder what you were thinking. It’s almost embarrassing how the imagination runs away on you. Fifty armed me in Paris roaming the woods with tranquilizer guns looking for somebody’s pet cat. hahahahahahahah. Let’s just hope they don’t see the moon on the horizon or they might let loose 100 rounds of high velocity ammo and the might hit something important, like somebody’s pet cat. Otherwise, it might have gotten loose from Magonia and then they’d really freak out if they knew what it was.

  4. McMike

    MOL Comfort. Interesting video of huge ship flexing in heavy seas. Spooky.

    Was 39th anniversary of Edmund Fitzgerald sinking on Monday. To celebrate, the NWS did a simulated Live Tweet of its last voyage. #EdmundFitz1975. Cool or creepy?

    Gordo did it better

    Bonus: dig that cutting edge news graphic!

    1. optimader

      if it didn’t flex it would crack.
      As I recall the conclusion was the EF sunk due to unsecured davits on the hold covers and she took on water. A friend of mine has a great telephoto photo of his dads sailboat with a wall of steel behind it –look closer and the bow reads Edmund Fitzgerald.

      1. Dirk77

        FWW, a friend who worked on the ore docks at the time the ship went down, says the scuttlebutt is that the EF bottomed out in the shallows around some island, cracking the hull. Because of the storm the crew never knew it.

          1. Dirk77

            Not knowing much besides the wiki article I just read, I’d say the ship just broke up due to the storm, the added stress from taking on water possibly contibuting. So as you say.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      I couldn’t believe the ships are not routinely equipped with strain gauges and dataloggers, the resulting data would certainly be of use both for calibration of the models the code is based on and to naval architects. The video of the engineer’s passage is particularly impressive.

  5. craazyboy

    “Countries Around The World Are Worried About ‘Killer Robots’ ”

    Why is everything so much scarier when a robot does it?

    Just nuke the damn thing. Jeez.

    1. Paul Niemi

      I was going to ask you, if we should be concerned about the idea of robot submarines and drone torpedoes or smart mines? What countermeasures could ships take for protection? I think your project with the little rover is pretty impressive, by the way. I used to make a few upgrades for elderly Mac computers, so I like tinkering too, but the stuff you do is really forward looking and thinking.

      1. craazyboy

        Every killer bot will need a counter-killer bot. Great for biz! Then I think the ideal situation would be if they cordoned off a section of the world for the ‘bots to fight and then there would be a safe section for people to live, assuming they take away all our guns, tanks and hand grenades. Not sure if our leaders have the “ideal” case in mind , however.

        ‘Course they would spend all our Social Security money on bots and we would all starve to death when we turn 65. (assuming you keep your defense job ’till 65) But at least we’ll all be safe until then.

        Ya, Rover is a fun challenge. Lots of tech involved here.

        1. Paul Niemi

          I was thinking of the bots as a stealthy way rogue regimes might cause horror and chaos, shut down world trade, and render naval ships useless in the future. It is good to know it may only apply to a cordoned off section of the world, and we could be safe in the rest. If drone designs evolve like other mechanical inventions, they will get bigger and badder.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            I believe the ability of robots to project sabotage with minimized risk to the perpetrator is one of their redeeming qualities. They present a potential counter balance to the ongoing sacrifice of our society on the altar of neoliberalism. Of course their programming by fallible human programmers remains problematic, though without remedy.

          2. optimader

            “they will get bigger and badder”
            Smaller and cheaper is the insidious combination. A huge asymmetric warfare field leveler. I can envision clouds of them drifting into aircraft takeoff/landing ops. Think intelligent FOD

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Human soldiers make mistakes. They follow bad orders, and sometimes they refuse to follow bad orders.

      A robot makes no mistakes, feels no fear, no pain, no remorse, no guilt, no empathy and offers no quarter. It executes its algorithm, which human programmers write. Humans make many mistakes. That frightens me.

      Human soldiers, and human police are scary for many of the same reasons that robots are scary, but robots are more scary. “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.” [Terminator 1]

    1. rkka

      “Tony Abbot wants to “shirt front” his guest Putin at the G-20…”

      You know, in view of the fact that Putin holds a 9th degree black belt in Judo, I would pay money to watch what would happen if Abbot tried that!

      1. Oregoncharles

        There’s a memorable story from the early days of the opening of Japan. There was an attempted assassination of a prime minister (I think it was); he jumped out of his palanquin with a sword and dispatched the assassins personally.

  6. mark

    re…more money for nuclear weapons

    “for those interested in accountability and reexamining history in light of new evidence, what the United States spent on nuclear weapons along with the justifications for that spending can shed light on the pace and scale of the U.S. effort and offer important lessons for the United States and for other countries that have or seek to have nuclear weapons. What Did the United States Spend?
    From 1940-1996, the United States spent a minimum of $5.5 trillion on its nuclear weapons program.”

    Stephen I. Schwartz
    Monterey Institute of International Studies

    1. Watt4Bob

      I don’t think that I’m going too far out on a limb to point out that that sort of money would provide a tuition-free PHD to every person on the planet, and most likely a proven alternative to fossil fuels?

      But hey, lets not cry over spilt milk?

  7. Watt4Bob

    I don’t think that I’m going too far out on a limb to point out that that sort of money would provide a tuition-free PHD to every person on the planet, and most likely a proven alternative to fossil fuels?

    But hey, lets not cry over spilt milk?

  8. wbgonne

    This Is the Left’s Confidential $100 Million Plan to Win Back the States Mother Jones. The $50 million it spent in 2014 looks to have been wildly ineffective, so why should throwing more money at this strategy produce better results?

    Two shortcomings jump out:

    1. To put it mildly, this isn’t exactly the Powell Memorandum in its scope.

    2. The effort appears to be sponsored by the same neoliberal a-holes already running the Democratic Party.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      There are two factions fighting for supremacy in the Democratic Party. The traditional D powers have settled into a comfortable “we would if we only could” narrative where “ineffectiveness” and “compromise” are the best we can do because the electorate is too stupid to not vote Republican. But there is also a “we can do it” “progressive” faction that really wants to govern and really (delusionally) believes in nudges and public-private partnerships and data-driven government, and is frustrated because the electorate is too stupid to not vote Republican. So the photo link above should more accurately have two slightly different-looking pigs.

      The chart shows a $9 million investment from Wisconsin, biggest of any state. It’s not clear how much of that, or the rest, was invested IN Wisconsin – hopefully (in one sense) not much because there is certainly nothing to show for it. The D’s continue to get pounded at the polls (which gerrymandering amplifies). Nor is there either any identifiable organization/program in the state identified with this investment/program, or any public discussion about why the D’s are losing the midwest.

      1. Banger

        The Dems get pounded in the polls because they are an utterly fraudulent political party at the national level and the rubes who still volunteer still don’t get it.

        1. JCC

          Not to mention the other utterly fraudulent political party, of course (or to put it another way, “the other side of the same coin” :-)

      2. Lambert Strether

        How much are they spending? $100 million? Throw a bankster in jail, a big one. A lot cheaper, and problem solved, IFF you define the problem as winning votes.

        Of course, if you define the problem as walking around money for Democratic operatives, creative class types, data geeks, and website programmers, then you come up with solutions that look like what we see here.

  9. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Most Aren’t Going to Use the Insurance Exchanges Correctly Jon Walker, Firedoglake.

    While the article is a steaming pile of victim-blaming, magic-markets garbage, the comments are pure GOLD.

    Needless to say, Walker’s commenters are not buyin’ what he, on behalf of what’s left of the democratic party, is sellin’.

    And to those “lefties” looking to spend $100 million to “win back” the states, (different link) try this comment on for size from CoachBill#6: “The ACA is in the process of eliminating any reason for existence the democratic party may have ever had and reinforces the republican claim that government can’t do anything right.”

    It’ going to take a lot more than $100 mil to revive a party headed by a broken-down, McCain-channeling hag who “pals around” with Lloyd Blankfein. If it can be done at all.

    1. McMike

      I am a highly trained filler-of-forms and analyzer-of-options and I can say with complete certainty that these things are designed to obscure. The more you know; the less you understand. I have created elaborate models and spreadsheets to analyze insurance choices and cell phone plans, and came to the conclusion that I wasted a monumental amount of time and would have achieved the exact same outcome with a six-pack and a dartboard.

      As the folks at NC would say: feature, not bug.

      1. optimader

        Havent had to look at the pile ACA crap thankfully, but brought to use by the same class of cipher as the IRS. All designed to obfuscate.

  10. dearieme

    “Can the U.S. Defeat ISIS Without Removing Assad?” I’m afraid that that brought forth a cynical, dismissive laugh. They take us all for fools, don’t they?

  11. dearieme

    I see that the boys (and girl) at Pimco have been pretty good at pillaging the shareholders. I also enjoyed “It has been four decades since it was spun out of Pacific Life Insurance Co.”: I take it that most of those forty or so years correspond to a huge bull market in bonds. If so, just how much genius do you need to do well in bonds?

  12. rjs

     not taking anything from Steve Horn’s excellent investigative piece, but Geithner wont be profiting from tar sands oil at these prices…the Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that oil-sands projects need a price of $85 a barrel to be profitable in the current cheapest (in situ) method and new standalone mines will require $105 a barrel to make a reasonable return…

    1. beene

      Well we finally have something to thank the neoliberals, by over reaching they have killed trade deal, and shale oil projects. Not to mention joining Russia and China at the hip and I may finally get my wish that the fed is destroyed in its present form.

      1. craazyboy

        Love to hear how you think the Fed will be destroyed? Personally, I don’t think the Shamens will leave the Temple willingly. (if the international value of the dollar drops, they will have some reason why that’s good….besides, we already know food & oil prices are “volatile” and therefore are not the worrisome kind of inflation….um, because “volatile” means they go up AND down. I’m sure they can dredge up some more economic insights we are not aware of.)

  13. Ignim Brites

    “This Is the Left’s Confidential $100 Million Plan to Win Back the States”. Wealthy progressives would be much further ahead funding secession by referendum initiatives than futilily trying to win legislative control of enough States to provide a progressive edge in the 2020 redistricting. Which means it will be 2030 before there will be the slightest chance of a progressive Congress. How long should the commoners wait to maintain the world historical illusions of wealthy progressives?

  14. lambert strether

    Oh dear. It looks like I should write something up on that Jon Walker piece. It’s not possible to use the exchanges correctly, because the administration has not released key information that would enable comparison shopping.

  15. fresno dan

    “None of which bodes well for the idea that policy or other debates can be solved by simply giving people accurate information. As research by Yale University law and psychology professor Dan Kahan has suggested, polarization does not happen with debates like climate change because one side is thinking more analytically, while the other wallows in unreasoned ignorance or heuristic biases.9 Rather, those subjects who tested highest on measures like “cognitive reflection” and scientific literacy were also most likely to display what he calls “ideologically motivated cognition.” They were paying the most attention, seeing the duck they knew was there.”

  16. flora

    Re: This is the Left’s Confidential $100 Million Memo –

    So, data analytics, messaging and fund raising, ie better advertising…. again.
    Bill Moyers hosted Zephr Teachout and Lawrence Lessig this week. Teachout said this:
    “When we look at Democratic losses….
    “Some Democrats aren’t telling the truth about what’s happening in the economy….
    “It’s the sense that Democrats aren’t really telling you the truth, or they’re really working for Wall St. and say that they’re not that, I think, turns people off.”

  17. rich

    Morgan Stanley pushed murky China stock to market

    Morgan Stanley’s private equity team and its stock analysts have reaffirmed their confidence in Tianhe’s management since the company’s reputation came under attack. But a two-month investigation by The Associated Press identified significant discrepancies in publicly accessible financial records and statements Tianhe made to investors, including questions about whether its chairman sold himself Tianhe’s main assets while he was running a predecessor company owned by the Chinese government.

    The controversy surrounding Tianhe — and Morgan Stanley’s role in bringing the company to global investors — carries special significance at a time when China’s financial markets are rapidly opening to the world. In September, Alibababa Group Holding Ltd.’s $25 billion New York IPO set the record as the world’s largest. And next week, for the first time, foreigners will be allowed to buy shares in the roughly $3.9 trillion of companies traded on the Shanghai Exchange. Even investors who don’t seek such companies will likely end up owning shares in them through mutual and pension funds that seek to replicate returns of the broader market.
    Tianhe’s financial filings indicate that one principal customer, Shanghai Xidatong International Trading Co. Ltd., has bought as much as $100 million in chemicals each year. Business data purchased by the AP said the company’s annual revenues and expenses in 2012 were less than $6 million, and the company’s net worth was $900,000 in the red at the end of 2012. Its chief executive, Zhang Silang, declined to answer questions from the AP. Shanghai Xidatong’s registered office is an unoccupied room containing broken furniture and old mattresses in a dilapidated apartment building. It conducts its business out of a different office with signs for another chemical company.

    “It’s one thing for a company’s executive to make optimistic statements about growing revenue, but it’s a real warning sign when management is making statements that don’t appear to be consistent with reality,” said Jay Ritter, a professor at the University of Florida’s business school who studies global initial public offerings.

    Morgan Stanley declined to answer the AP’s questions, but one of its managing directors, Homer Sun, said in September that the $65 billion investment bank’s Asian private equity unit stands behind Tiahne. In their most recent publicly available research note, Morgan Stanley’s investment analysts continue to recommend that investors bulk up on the stock, which they predict will double within a year.

    Doubts about Tianhe could have consequences broader than market losses for the pension funds and retail investors who owned shares worth hundreds of millions of dollars through Morgan Stanley’s private equity arm and mutual funds managed by firms including Blackrock Inc. and The Vanguard Group Inc. Funds owned by both companies held Tianhe’s stock as of the end of September.

    Trouble could be costly for the banks that took Tianhe to market: Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS AG. Problems would embarrass Hong Kong regulators, who have recently threatened to impose criminal penalties on banks that fail to prevent IPO clients from misrepresenting matters to the public.

    is it dew or due in the diligence?…sticky, eh?

  18. PeonInChief

    Inmates in California don’t just clean up the prisons and do the cooking for other prisoners. They also are firefighters, clean up state parks and so on. (The firefighter jobs are particularly sought after, as the prisoners who hold these positions live separately from other prisoners in their own dormitories and are allowed to cook separately.) If the state didn’t have these low-risk convicts, they’d either have to provide a lot more supervision of more dangerous inmates or hire people and pay them more that 37 cents an hour–a lot more.

  19. Oregoncharles

    In Walker’s article on “Most aren’t Going to Use..”, I was struck by the last paragraph:

    “This also means a lot of these people on the exchanges could be hit with some big surprise costs next year if they just let their policies automatically renew. The tax credits on the exchange are based off the price of the second-cheapest silver plan. If some new cheaper plan enters your exchange the size of your tax credits will drop. So even if the official premiums for your policy don’t change much, the amount you are required to pay could increase noticeably.”

    This is practically the definition of “boondoggle.” In the first place, the complexity is mind-boggling – a clear case of the misuse of computers. In the second, it lays a malicious trap for the unwary, which is most of us (according to the article, 68%). It isn’t just that shopping is a cost, though that’s certainly true; it’s that they’re out to get you. It also points to the bizarre and essentially unmanageable complexity of the program, and the clever ways the law subsidizes insurance companies. Walker doesn’t actually point all that out, which he should have, but it’s pretty obvious.

  20. Oregoncharles

    “Beginning in 2015, Republicans will control 68 out of 98 partisan state legislative chambers, the most in the party’s history. It will also hold 31 governorships. Republicans will maintain one-party control—holding the governor’s seat and majorities in both legislative chambers—in 23 states.”
    Heckuva job, Barack!

    Seriously – I think this IS his job, plus making sure the next president is a Republican. Because that’s the arrangement.

    More broadly: this malicious conflation of the “the Left” with Democrats is meretricious (I’m trying to think of really bad words to call it) and the reason I don’t read Mother Jones any more.

    1. jrs

      What if all those disgusted people who didn’t vote had voted 3rd party instead (at least where the option exists). Would have been an interesting message wouldn’t it? But 3rd party is wasting one’s vote apparently even compared to not voting. It’s like “if I’m going to go to all the effort to vote, it might as well at least be for the duopoly!”

      1. Oregoncharles

        That’s the Green Party’s perpetual fantasy, but so far it hasn’t worked out. I sometimes say essentially this in comments, though: if you’re too disgusted to vote Plutocrat Party, at least vote 3rd.

  21. Oregoncharles

    From the “finance curse” (great meme, that) article:
    “Brain drain, where higher salaries in finance suck the most skilled and educated people away from other sectors;”
    I strongly suspect this is a myth – or more precisely, that those “most skilled and educated people,” as a scarce resource, are. It’s really just part of any dominant class’s self-glorification, like the notion that CEOs have some special sauce.

  22. skippy

    @Yves and commentariat, has OZ MacroBusiness gotten the G20 treatment or some other similar treatment.

    skippy… been down over 12 hours now….

    1. ambrit

      I just linked to MacroBusiness through the NC blogroll. I hope your problem is over now. We here in Hattiesburg using AT&T two wire service lost it for about ten hours Wednesday. The nice young chap in Calicutt said it was a city wide service interruption by the IP itself. “The system says that this is a 24 hour repair time problem. Sorry sir. Please try again in a few hours.” Things here are steadily degrading. Hope you all do better.

        1. ambrit

          Oh my. Don’t we wish we had someone over here in the U.S. who would skewer our politicians like that. (I don’t include the so called ‘lefty’ media ‘stars’ here because they seem to have descended into partisan ‘flackhood’ lately.)
          As for as bad as it gets, my favourite quote was: “It doesn’t matter what spending program you look at, it doesn’t matter how wasteful that spending program might appear, there are always some people in the community who vote, who love that program very much…”
          I believe it’s called democracy Tony. It put you where you are today. Try it, the people will thank you for that.

  23. Chris Geary

    Doesn’t declaring a recession being over require at the very minimum rapid growth to regain lost output? Is this happening in Greece?

  24. Oregoncharles

    (this failed to post before, so once more unto the breach.)
    “No magic gene, which suggests for a lot of people that longevity is a function of lifestyle.”
    No, that doesn’t follow; the logical failure is shocking coming from scientists. Longevity would reflect essentially the whole genome; you would never expect a single gene to determine it. Every single bodily function is involved.
    Instead, if it is genetic (and it does run in families, as well as regions), it would involve thousands of genes in millions of possible combinations. Probably very different in different populations. The famously long-lived populations are in Ladakh, Georgia (east), and a valley in the Andes. They could hardly be less related – except for the mountains, which promote isolation and a physical lifestyle.
    What’s certainly true is that lifestyles can DEFEAT genetic tendencies to longevity – though the oldest known veteran, at 106, smokes and drinks.

    A logical error that big does not suggest confidence in, for instance, their study design.

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