Links 11/19/14

The Business of Blogging Womens Wear Daily. In which people like yours truly are advised to sell clothes rather than ideas. But maybe I could sell “the revolution is coming” desk toys. Wouldn’t you like having a tiny set of stocks (the kind they used to use in town squares) on view and fantasize how fetching Jamie Dimon would look in one? Or how about a working mini-guillotine on your desk? If it was really good, you could use it to cut carrots too. But that means you’d need to keep it well away from children’s fingers.

We Finally Found The Mystery Virus That’s Turning Starfish Into Goo Business Insider (David L)

However, I also bet if I came up with an “apres moi le deluge” clothing line meant to make fun of the rich for being ludicrously expensive relative to the quality, that it would actually sell. Americans aren’t good at irony.

Uber tries to head off privacy criticism Financial Times

University Installs Prescription Drug Vending Machine On Campus CBS Las Vegas (furzy mouse). Only in America.

Why I Left United Airlines Tim Wu, New Yorker. Crapification.

Hong Kong

Thousands of police called up to help clear Mong Kok roads South China Morning Post

Protesters Smash Doors, Windows of Hong Kong Legislature WSJ China Real Time

ECB inflation target lacks credibility Financial Times

Europe’s Central Bank Defies Own Rules in Cyprus Bailout New York Times

German town tricks neo-Nazis into raising money for an anti-Nazi charity Independent (Chuck L)

Germany’s Merkel toughens tone with Russia’s Putin BBC

China and Russia vow to build alliance Financial Times


On Media Outlets That Continue to Describe Unknown Drone Victims As “Militants” Glenn Greenwald, Intercept

Yale chaplain forced out by Zionist attacks WSWS

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Libertarian Champion Rand Paul Helped Kill NSA Reform Bill Huffington Post

Keystone Fails in Senate (For Now) Foreign Policy

Gulf-Bound Tar Sands for Export? Follow the Oiltanking Trail Steve Horn

Jim Crow Returns Greg Palast, Aljazeera

Fees Paid To Rahm Emanuel Donor Firm Increased After Emanuel Became Mayor David Sirota, International Business Times

Mark Paffrath fired after Facebook photos of Homeland Security vehicles near Ferguson Daily Mail


Whither Markets?

It Official: Party Now, Apocalypse Later Wolf Richter

JPMorgan Downgrades US Stocks Business Insider (furzy mouse)

Hugh Hendry on central bank terror MacroBusiness

Class Warfare

Seven big U.S. companies paid CEOs more than Uncle Sam in 2013: study Reuters (upstater)

Are Some Banks Using Credit Reports to Help Collect Discharged Debts? Credit Slips

Paris chefs call for end to French kitchen violence BBC

The Best Look for a Leader Inc. Looking healthy is a big status marker. Winston Churchill was really proud that his reforms when he was Home Secretary led by World War II to the height difference between upper and lower class men being eliminated.

The Real Roots of Hedge Fund Manager Rage ProPublica. From last week, still germane.

Antidote du jour. From @theadvocatebr, via David M: “Can’t make this up: 6 show cows escape on @LSU campus; at least 1 wanders down sorority row..”

rescued cow

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. proximity1

    Tory propa-crappa-ganda

    First, the Tories’ propaganda line went, “Our policies are working! The recovery we promised has come! Employment up, inflation, nowhere in sight, GDP increasing, this is no time to change! We’ve got to stay on course!”

    Then, as reality intervenes to defy and disturb that fairy-tale, the Tory propaganda lines changed to, “Beware! The economy is fragile! Other nation’s are in or are nearing renewed recession! We can’t and we mustn’t deviate from our long-term plans for economic recovery! We’d risk slipping back into recession if we did that!”

    In an economy which is feeding upon its own carcass, the Tory remedies are always and only more cuts–never tax increases on the wealthy people who are enjoying a bonanza in these times which, for almost everyone outside the privileged wealthy, are desperate.

    From Channel 4’s “Dispatches” program, freely available from their “on demand” for the next 28 days:

    “How the Rich Get Richer”

    See :

    1. dearieme

      The coalition government isn’t much good, but its economic problems are almost entirely the consequence of the Blair/Brown government.

      1. steviefinn

        Or the fact that all 4 parties minus the Greens who are to be represented on the BBC debate pantomime are all more or less agreed on the same Neoliberal agenda.

  2. rich

    DaVita Settlement Omits Role of Two Former CMS Chiefs

    Under the Settlement Agreement, the United States agrees to release the Company from any civil or administrative monetary liability arising from allegations that the Company caused the submission of claims to the federal health care programs that were ineligible for reimbursement due to certain violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute in connection with certain of its dialysis center joint venture arrangements.

    The behavior in question occurred with two ex-Medicare Chiefs sitting on DaVita’s Board of Directors. Both William L. Roper, M.D. and Nancy-Ann DeParle were appointed to the DaVita board in May 2001. Roper served on the Board compliance committee and DeParle on the audit committee.

    In March 2004 the board established two new standing committees, a public policy committee and a clinical performance committee. The public policy committee consists of Ms. DeParle and Dr. Roper, with Ms. DeParle serving as the chair.

    I believe DaVita expected these two to block for the company and its numerous violations, illuminated in the legal complaint. After ignoring its internal compliance handbook over a decade’s time the company said:

    We are proud of our commitment to compliance over our 15-year history. We have worked incredibly hard to get things right and it is our belief there was no intentional wrongdoing.

    The legal complaint reads intentional wrongdoing of the repeating kind. That I believe. It occurred under the fiduciary oversight of two former Medicare Chiefs and neither the Department of “Just Us” nor the media shared this basic fact.

    don’t try this at home…it may land YOU in jail.

    1. Cynthia

      I work at a hospital-based nephrology unit, which operates side by side with DaVita. We care for acutely ill dialysis patients, while DaVita merely dialyzes them. Keep in mind, anyone with renal failure who is in need of dialysis automatically qualifies for Medicare, regardless of age or income. That’s largely why DaVita is one of the most profitable healthcare providers, beating out most, if not all, of the mega-hospital chains. DaVita is making billions of dollars off of the backs of the US taxpayers, providing its CEO Kent Thiry with an income this year of $25.7 million:

      You would think that if DaVita were getting rich off of dialyzing renal failure patients, then the nephrology unit where I work would also be getting pretty rich caring for these patients when they become acutely ill. But that’s not the case. Not the case at all! The nephrology unit is a big money loser for the hospital. That’s because DaVita takes the lion’s share of the reimbursement money from Medicare, leaving the nephrology unit with just enough money to keep it from going broke. This really shouldn’t be so, because it is not very labor intensive to dialyzes a patient, but it’s very labor intensive to care for one of these patients when they become acutely ill.

      To make matters worse, Medicare is penalizing hospital providers for high readmission rates and high mortality rates. Apparently, Medicare doesn’t understand, or perhaps just doesn’t care, that renal failure patients are going to have high readmission rates and very high mortality rates despite hospitals providing them with the very best of care. Medicare knows as well as anyone else in the hospital industry that renal failure patients oftentimes have diabetes, heart and liver failure as well, making it very challenging to keep them out of the hospital, let alone keep them alive. So for Medicare to penalize hospital provider for caring for one of the most challenging patient populations just goes to show how cold and heartless these bureaucrats are!

      Many of us in nephrology are looking to transfer out to a unit that has better patient outcomes, and thus is at a much lower risk for being penalized by Medicare, because we all know it’s a losing battle caring for renal failure patients. Of course, DaVita is excluded from these penalties because technically it’s not classified as a hospital providers. My hunch is that this was done by design.

      The stress of working in a highly penalized hospital unit is taking a toll on me. But I will stick with it a bit longer because I deeply care about these patient — a concept that’s too full of warmth and sensitivity for a Medicare bureaucrat to understand.

      1. juliania

        Bless you for that, Cynthia! You have taken the path less travelled by, and that will make all the difference.

  3. dearieme

    “Serving the health-care needs of our students is still our highest priority.” Absolutely. But on the other hand “the school’s pharmacy closed in September.”.

    1. rich

      you know priorities vary depending on your position… patient vs industry.

      November 18, 2014
      Cost to Develop and Win Marketing Approval for a New Drug Is $2.6 Billion

      BOSTON – Nov. 18, 2014 – Developing a new prescription medicine that gains marketing approval, a process often lasting longer than a decade, is estimated to cost $2,558 million, according to a new study by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development.

      The $2,558 million figure per approved compound is based on estimated:
      Average out-of-pocket cost of $1,395 million
      Time costs (expected returns that investors forego while a drug is in development) of $1,163 million

      Estimated average cost of post-approval R&D—studies to test new indications, new formulations, new dosage strengths and regimens, and to monitor safety and long-term side effects in patients required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a condition of approval—of $312 million boosts the full product lifecycle cost per approved drug to $2,870 million. All figures are expressed in 2013 dollars.

      The new analysis, which updates similar Tufts CSDD analyses, was developed from information provided by 10 pharmaceutical companies on 106 randomly selected drugs that were first tested in human subjects anywhere in the world from 1995 to 2007.

      “Drug development remains a costly undertaking despite ongoing efforts across the full spectrum of pharmaceutical and biotech companies to rein in growing R&D costs,” said Joseph A. DiMasi, director of economic analysis at Tufts CSDD and principal investigator for the study.

      this is the way we line our pockets, line our pockets, line our pockets…

      1. afisher

        And then there is reality – in which the Tufts bs is outed as bs.

        GlaxoSmithKline’s CEO Andrew Witty himself says the figure of a billion dollars to develop a drug is a myth; this is used by the industry to justify exorbitant prices. We need to ask ourselves, if the CEO of a top pharmaceutical company says it’s a myth that it costs a billion dollars to develop a drug, can we really take this new figure 2.56 billion seriously?

        I’ve never been a CEO – but I often read: In 2011, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSEPS) cam sup with quite a different – much lower! – estimate of $59 million (see “A New Estimate of Drug Development Cost”) and the Office of Health Economics (OHE) at the University College London estimated the cost to be $1.5 billion in 2013 (see here).

    1. not_me

      Kill bankers and Satan will laugh; kill banking and he’ll cry.

      So just how do Progressives plan to kill banking? Mostly they don’t.

    2. ambrit

      The Ancestors save us! I woke up out of a deep sleep, in agitation, just like that evil samurai lord in “Chushingura,” to the realization that the Yakuza have already discovered a use for those miniature guillotines!

  4. JIm A.

    Interesting quote in the Hedge Fund Anger piece: “Check out London, Manhattan, Aspen and East Hampton real estate prices, as well as high-end art prices, to see what the leading edge of hyperinflation could look like,” Mr. Singer wrote. Since the wealthy are the only people whose incomes have been going up the things that they buy are the only things whose prices have been going up. This is the inevitable result of the increasing concentration of wealth.

    1. Carla

      Actually, most of us like to eat, and the price of food, especially meat, is way up. But I guess down here in the serfdom, we’re supposed to make do with flakes made of GMO corn.

    2. fresno dan

      hedge-fund price spiral – Ferraris, Van Gogh’s, Goût de Diamants, Taste of Diamonds’, London real estate, etc., just keep going up, up, up and away – tying the 0.01% in a vicious asset race of rats….
      Won’t someone think of the squillionaires???
      Yeah, our Federal Reserve.

    3. Ed

      I have found that just losing any expensive (or even bourgeois) tastes you have goes a long way to successfully adjusting to the current economic climate.

      But avoiding the education bubble is harder if you have children, and its the food and transportation costs really get you. Transportation is tied to real estate, since all the cheap places to live are in out of the way areas where you wind up losing what you are saving on housing on transportation costs. They are probably OK if you are retired and don’t mind staying home all day.

      1. Jagger

        Auto insurance just received state approval to go up 5% this year. I count that has inflation as well. And how many 5% increases per year to double the cost?

  5. Carla

    @Tim Wu: it was Continental that left me. Since I lived in a Continental hub city, I had hardly ever flown United. But once I took United to Hawaii. It was dreadful. The flight attendants were surly and rude–something I had not experienced on Continental. I swore not to fly United again, but eventually it turned out, that would have meant not flying again, so I have had no choice.

    After the merger, my city (Cleveland) lost its hub status. Not only did the fares go up dramatically, but due to many more connections, flight times ballooned as well. Now we often have the pleasure of flying to Baltimore or Newark on our way to California. Very few of the discount airlines bother with Cleveland and Southwest has cut flights. It’s been another kick in the head to a city struggling to survive. But we peasants toil on, and crapification thrives!

    1. Jerry Denim

      Rumors of Continental de-hubbing Cleveland have circulated for many years. The Plain-Dealer even found the rumor so credible it ran the story as front page news once as I recall. I am convinced the newly merged United waiting until after the Presidential elections in 2012 to de-hub Cleveland was part of the deal to get the merger approved with Justice. Sorry about your plight, Ohio has suffered far too much. Unless the airline economy tanks in the near future things will probably get much worse for places like Cleveland before they get better as the looming regional pilot shortage will make smaller less-profitable markets even harder to serve. Decades of terrible pay (18k and less) terrible work/home/life balance, loads of debt (200k +) and lots of personal liability have crimped off the supply of young people willing to become airline pilots.

  6. JCC

    One way to express displeasure of situations like the Drury Hotel Chain incident is to use your dollar vote. Email the company ( ) or call (314 587-3104) and remind them that you don’t support secret police on any level or in any country, the US included, and that you will never stay at one of their hotels as long as they support this sort of action.

    As a Vet myself, I personally find the behavior of the Hotel Chain disgusting.

      1. JCC

        Very interesting article on Optimism, but I’m not sure what it has to do with Mark Paffrath and the link above regarding his getting fired by the Drury Hotel Chain for posting pictures of DHS Vehicles on his facebook page… and my comment that I found their action to be pretty bad and that maybe people should tell them so.

        Did I say something wrong? :)

      2. Oregoncharles

        A financial advisor thinks financial penalties (as in boycotts) don’t matter?

        Granted,just nc readers are unlikely to have much impact, but if it scales, this approach could get Paffrath rehired – and make it harder for Homeland Security to keep their presence secret (I can’t imagine why they thought this fleet of white vehicles – just like the ones ISIS uses – would be inconspicuous.)

        At least it’s something, and the right kind of thing.

    1. TulsaTime

      I have not seen this story anywhere on the web, but have not been to ZH yet. It sounds just like our fine authoritarian government to squelch any informal mention of their, undoubtedly massive, presence in the Ferguson area and in the national press. DOJ and POTUS will make cooing sounds about the poor oppressed population of metro St Louis, while backing law enforcement in the area with everything up to, and including, Boots In The Street.

  7. Andrew Watts

    RE: Libertarian Champion Rand Paul Helped Kill NSA Reform Bill

    “Congress must narrowly and unambiguously define the Intelligence Community’s surveillance authority. Sen. Leahy’s USA FREEDOM Act fails this basic test, and is not the substantive reform originally envisioned and supported by the public.”


    “For these reasons, we call on the House and the Senate to reject this version of the USA FREEDOM Act As long as S. 2685 contains ambiguous language that can be abused by the Intelligence Community and lacks language that clearly protects innocent Americans, we believe that focusing on USA PATRIOT Act reauthorization next year, remedies in the courts, aggressive confirmation hearings for personnel, and defunding of Intelligence Agencies are more constructive paths forward”

    Rand Paul is in good company alongside Daniel Ellsberg, Thomas Drake, and William Binney.

    1. afisher

      So, instead we have the “investigate with cause” – and store forever….somehow that is not what I would say is an improvement. None of the 3 that you attempt to be Rand cheerleaders aren”t running for POTUS – he is using his bs. as CYA

      1. Andrew Watts

        In the meantime legal challenges can work their way through the courts that would’ve otherwise been tossed due to the lack of standing if the Freedom Act passed through Congress. Furthermore with the Patriot Act / FISA provisions set to expire our hand is strengthened for a better bill.

        “None of the 3 that you attempt to be Rand cheerleaders aren”t running for POTUS – he is using his bs. as CYA”

        If anything Rand is following their lead. So just because there are plenty of good reasons to not pass the Freedom Act or some watered down version of it right now the only important thing is the presidential elections in 2016? Gotcha.

  8. petal

    Here’s the latest on VT Single Player/Grubergate. “Documents obtained by the vice chairman of the Vermont GOP Brady Toensing shed new light on the relationship between Vermont and Jonathan Gruber, the man at the center of a national controversy.”


  9. zephyrum

    I fly United frequently, just over 100K this year. It works fine for my business travel. The key is that my expectations are zero, so anything good that happens is gravy. They generally get me from A to B with few delays, and for that I’m grateful.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Agree, nothing can be worse than US Airways, so as long as United is better than that it’s the best you can hope for.

      Airplanes are just flying buses. If you want great service on an flying bus, do first-class or do those private-jet time-shares that the Elysium Class uses.

    2. Carl LaRue

      Traveled United when I lived in Japan! Six of nine flights to Japan where delayed
      to the point that the airport was closed. No connecting flight! No transportation!
      Don’t let your unaccompanied minor fly United!!

  10. psychohistorian

    Is our government really thinking about shutting down the Post Office?

    The trope that private industry can do a better and cheaper job is a big lie that shows how effective the propaganda machine is in this country…..sad

    When this train of stupidity dissolves our government, who gets control of the nukes?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s a good question.

      I believe the Russian people have been saddled with their portion of USSR era sovereign debt, as the Russian soviet public existed the world stage.

      Notice 1) the people had to pick up the pieces after the catastrophe (babushkas, soviet veterans and retired public workers have had especially hard)

      and 2) their previous government enjoyed spending during the good times and then split?

      That’s another way to understand why new money should be only for the people to spend, and the government spends what the people consent to be taxed and authorize it to borrow.

      If you the People have to pick up the pieces after a bad relationship, you should be the one to spend the money.

      1. optimader

        Less a case of just being “saddled with debt”, more a case of active predation, assets were stolen from them, shipped abroad and laundered by the present government.

        “… that he has built a system based on massive predation on a level not seen in Russia since the tsars. Transparency International estimates the annual cost of bribery to Russia at $300 billion, roughly equal to the entire gross domestic product of Denmark, or thirty-seven times higher than the $8 billion Russia expended in 2007 on “national priority projects” in health, education, and agriculture. Capital flight, which officially has totaled approximately $335 billion since 2005, or about 5 percent of GDP, reaching over $50 billion in the first quarter of 2014 alone, has swollen Western bank coffers but made Russia the most unequal of all developed and emerging economies (BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India, China), in which 110 billionaires control 35 percent of the country’s wealth.”

        “..Some people visualize Russia in the late 1990s as a country that went through a “Wild West” period, or something similar to Al Capone’s reign in Chicago. But in 1999 a prominent expert stated in testimony before the U.S. Congress:

        For the U.S. to be like Russia is today, it would be necessary to have massive corruption by the majority of the members of Congress as well as by the Departments of Justice and Treasury, and agents of the FBI, CIA, DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], IRS, Marshal Service, Border Patrol, state and local police officers, the Federal Reserve Bank, Supreme Court justices, U.S. District court judges, support of the varied Organized Crime families, the leadership of the Fortune 500 companies, at least half of the banks in the U.S., and the New York Stock Exchange. This cabal would then have to seize the gold at Fort Knox and the federal assets deposited in the entire banking system. It would have to take control of the key industries such as oil, natural gas, mining, precious and semi-precious metals, forestry, cotton, construction, insurance, and banking industries — and then claim these items to be their private property. The legal system would have to nullify most of the key provisions against corruption, conflict of interest, criminal conspiracy, money laundering, economic fraud and weaken tax evasion laws. This unholy alliance would then have to spend about 50% of its billions in profits to bribe officials that remained in government and be the primary supporters of all of the political candidates. Then, most of the stolen funds, excess profits and bribes would have to be sent to off-shore banks for safekeeping. Finally, while claiming that the country was literally bankrupt and needed vast infusions of foreign aid to survive, this conspiratorial group would invest billions in spreading illegal activities to developed foreign countries… The President would not only be aware of all these activities but would support them.

        This statement was made in testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Banking and Financial Services by Richard L. Palmer, who had been CIA chief of base and chief of station in countries of the former Soviet Union. When Palmer gave his testimony in September 1999, Putin was not yet president, but he was prime minister, he had been head of the successor organization to the KGB, the Federal Security Service, and he had been investigated on a number of occasions for high-level corruption and criminal activity.

        Of course, there were those in the Russian government who were aware of the problem and had tried to correct it. On February 18, 1992, for example, the Yel’tsin-Gaidar government signed an agreement with an American corporate private investigation firm, Kroll Associates, to track down and help repatriate money illegally held or taken abroad by former Communist Party and Soviet government agencies, including the KGB. The money had allegedly left the country prior to the August 1991 attempted coup against the reformist-oriented Gorbachev by conservatives in the highest echelons of the ruling Communist Party and the KGB…”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I didn’t know or maybe I forgot about the Yeltsin-Gaidar effort and that, Putin, when prime minister was investigated a number of times, whose public image seems to be less ‘non-clean’ than Yeltsin and Gaidar (to me, anyway).

          More pieces for the Little People to pick up after a bad relationship.

          And more reasons to pay the Little People first – i.e. exclusive right to use, including the right to spend, new money.

    2. optimader

      “Is our government really thinking about shutting down the Post Office? ”
      Whether or not it is “efficient” ( however that is measured) isn’t it’s existence guaranteed by the US Constitution??.. oh wait..

  11. Jerry Denim

    Regarding the New Yorker piece on United;

    As an employee of an outsourced United ‘partner’ company I had a front row seat for the Continental-United merger. It was and continues to be an ongoing train wreck but I did notice a few inconstancies. Glenn Tilton didn’t score a seventeen million dollar bonus because ‘he allowed his company to be ruined’. Tilton, a miserable failure as a manager, was a success as a deal maker because he found a sucker willing to buy his failing company that had been locked in a death spiral for years. Larry Kellner, the Continental CEO who preceded the irritating parental man in the preflight videos, was forced out of Continental by the board because he had no interest in merging/buying the failed debt-barge with a bad business model and a bad culture known as United Airlines. The Continental board had short-term perverse incentives to see the highly lucrative but long-term ruinous merger rammed through, so Kellner was tossed aside and Smisek the M&A attorney was promoted to skipper with strict orders to merge the two airlines come hell or high water. So an M&A attorney with no experience running any kind of a business has been in charge of running the world’s largest airline since 2010, and and one side of the company was a dysfunctional basket-case circling the bankruptcy drain before the merger. What could go wrong?

  12. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    In for a complete set of The Revolution Is Coming desk toys. Maybe 1:12 scale? That’d make it about 10 inches high or so – though you’ll need the blade spring assisted if it’s to be functional, since the original relied on weight. The stocks would be 5″ or so (Jamie Dimon Figure sold separately).

  13. Susan the other

    Hugh Hendry was funny. Better than Bill Gross. All about how he learned kick back and love the Fed. Even funnier is how he avoids thinking about the fact that “the market” no longer exists and therefore what about him? Finance should logically become a government service; banks, utilities; brokers, public servants; and fund managers, contracted to individual investors. Computers can handle all the details.

  14. Kim Kaufman

    “But that means you’d need to keep it well away from children’s fingers.”

    Not a problem: I have no children or pets. :)

    In certain circles, handcuffs are a fashion item. I’d like to make that circle bigger – to include Jamie Dimon et al.

  15. Luke The Debtor

    What do people have against exporting Canadian oil to India? Is global warming India’s fault, too?

    1. pretzelattack

      sure, but another problem is that the oil carried by proposed pipeline is from tar sands, bad idea.

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