Links 12/11/14

The Science Of Misheard Lyrics or Mondegreens New Yorker (furzy mouse)

Study Gauges Plastic Levels in Oceans New York Times

Researchers learn more about the possible role of gamma ray bursts on life extinction in the universe PhysOrg. Chuck L: “Yet another potential mode of life-extinguishing catastrophe to obsess about: asteroid collisions, super volcanoes, and now gamma ray bursts. Or not.”

Superbugs to kill ‘more than cancer’ BBC

Don’t Homogenize Health Care New York Times

Consumer confidence plunges to 3-year low Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

Hong Kong Police Begin Clearing Main Protest Site Wall Street Journal

Spain Seeks €60 Billion of Juncker’s Alleged €315 Billion Development Fund; Vaporware Funding Michael Shedlock

France Is About To Plunge Into Deflation

Greece Reruns Doomsday Scenario as Politics Rocks Markets Bloomberg

US to impose sanctions on Venezuela Financial Times


Russia, Turkey pivot across Eurasia Pepe Escobar, Asia Times (YY)

These are lies the New York Times wants you to believe about Russia Salon (YY)

The Myth of the Russian Oligarchs Masha Gessen, New York Times. The eXile and Gessen had a combative relationship, yet she went to bat for them when US allies tried undercutting the disruptive paper. Haven’t gotten Ames’ take on this piece.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Congress Just Passed Legislation Ramping Up Mass Surveillance to Super-Steroid Levels George Washington. To be precise, the House passed the bill, but it is apparently every bit as terrible as GW intimates. Update: I couldn’t find it on GovTrack, but another reader did. It did pass the Senate, so it might as well be law.

We know you love privacy, Judge Posner. We just wish you’d share. Boing Boing

Report: Significant technical trials remain before drones can safely access national airspace NetworkWorld. A rare bit of good news.

CIA Torture Report

U.S. Tells Court That Documents From Torture Investigation Should Remain Secret New York Times

Report slams psychologists who devised Bush-era interrogation Reuters (EM)

Bush ‘fully informed’ of CIA methods BBC

Torture is Good? Chris Floyd, CounterPunch

Taking Responsibility for Torture New Yorker (furzy mouse)

CIA torture report: Obama under pressure as calls for accountability grow Guardian

Torture Report Puts Presidential Hopefuls in Quiet Mode New York Times. Cowards.

Obama Asks Congress For Unlimed War Authority Moon of Alabama (MJL). While you were busy reading about that torture report….

Millionaires’ choice for president: Hillary CNBC

The Long Shadow of Robert Rubin American Banker. Confirming our thesis re the Elizabeth Warren fight versus the appointment of Antonio Weiss

Judge sets deadline for James Risen subpoena Politico

Frightening SWAT Team Raid Called in on Business for ‘Barbering Without a License’ Alternet (furzy mouse)

Airbus Faces Investment Conundrum as A380 Orders Vanish Bloomberg.

Oil Price Tumbles After OPEC Releases 2015 Forecast OilPrice

Oil below $65 for first time in 5 years Financial Times

Hold the champagne: Why OPEC still has oil markets over a barrel Financial Post

Wall Street’s newest bubble: loans against portfolios Yahoo

Banking Lobbyists Opposing FOIA Reform Bill, Sources Say FreedomInfo

SEC Commissioner Warns Harvard of Vulnerability Wall Street Journal (Adrien). You have to read this. A Republican commissioner threatens Lucien Bebchuk, one of the most respected critics of corporate governance practices, that his research that might help investors get more influence over boards exposes Harvard to litigation. So the message is that shareholder democracy, which has already been deemed by none other than the Economist as a failure, is also a sham.

Class Warfare

Remember Ben Edelman, the Harvard B-School prof who threatened a Chinese restaurant over charging him $4 more than he expected because they hadn’t updated their website to reflect current prices? This isn’t the first time he’s done that sort of thing: There’s More: Edelman Did This Before, And Worse Oh, and get a load of this: Harvard’s Ben Edelman, Web Sheriff, May Have a Conflict or Two Bloomberg

You’re Likely to Be a Lot Poorer Than You Were a Few Years Ago—And It’s All By Design Alternet (RR)

Why Big Business Loves Desperate Workers Common Dreams

The Wall Street Takeover of Charity ProPublica

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. craazyman

    Don’t they have a web site??? WTF????


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    1. Clive

      I’m sure that will become a staple of the infomercial shopping channels. They need a new product line. After all, by now everyone must have hard-as-iron abs, enough to miracle bras to last a thousand years and plenty of cooking skillets which, seemingly, were only perfected recently through the adoption of a concrete-like cooking surface. If this isn’t all Progress Through Science, I don’t know what is.

      1. russell1200

        Volcanic activity is associated with all but our most current mass extinction events. It is also is likely part of the culprit for the Little Ice Age (1645–1715) which had some very serious effects over a very long period of time. NASA said recently we have large solar events every 12 years or so. Obviously they don’t all hit us. The last one that did (1859) was pretty impressive.

        The list of these low occurrence-high consequence events is pretty impressive; At least localized versions (tsunamis for one) occur all the time. Preparing for very specific rare bad events is insanely expensive, but some sort of preparation of a generic level of trouble/system disruption seems to make sense.

    2. fresno dan

      Thanks!!! I was just looking for one of those.
      don’t they have a link???
      Also, I need to order it through Amazon so I can get free shipping….

      1. ambrit

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    1. ambrit

      To experience a Nuremberg Moment, the Empire must first be humbled. As of yet, no such remorse or glimmer of conscience has been displayed by those in positions of power capable of changing behaviours. If, for an extreme example, China were to establish a Protectorate over the Philippines and make it stick, then a wailing and a gnashing of teeth would be in order. Otherwise, business as usual.

    1. bob

      Not sure they ever were, looks like a photoshoping. Both animals are in very good focus, indicating a wider/longer focal length than the background, which is never in focus. Doesn’t match up.

      The bird is also “banded”.

      1. Mcmike

        Yes, the background field raises some concerns.

        However, since it appears to be a trained bird, the event itself is not that hard to imagine happening.

      2. Bill

        It’s actually pretty common to work falcons and hawks over dogs. They quickly learn that a dog on “point” indicates a bird about to be flushed, and will begin to stoop before the bird is even flushed. This takes advantage of an existing behavior in wild birds. Most raptors will naturally follow other carnivores to take advantage of prey that tries to escape. I had a prairie falcon follow my dog and I for over two miles recently, my assumption was that it was waiting for such an opportunity.

        My take on this is that these two know each other, and are out playing.

      3. bruno marr

        Agreed. The photo has been “shopped”. There is also a subtle hallow effect around the dog’s ears.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Trouble in the fjords, comrades:

    The governor of Norway’s central bank says western Europe’s biggest oil producer is facing a major economic slowdown as crude prices continue to plunge.

    “Our job now is that we need to prevent a severe downturn in the economy,” Oeystein Olsen said today in an interview after a press conference in Oslo. “Overall, that is presently the major concern of the board. That explains why we have reduced the rate.”

    Olsen cut Norway’s main interest rate today by 0.25 percentage point to 1.25 percent, a move that shocked markets and sent the krone down almost 2 percent against the euro. Even after today’s cut, the bank sees a “50-50 chance” for another rate reduction next year, Olsen said.


    If rich Norway (whose sovereign wealth fund owns about 1 percent of all the common stocks on earth) is slashing rates to devalue its knone, just imagine how Venezuela is getting along with its bolivar overvalued (on a purchasing power parity basis) by about twenty (20) times versus the Norwegian krone.

    Credit default swaps indicate a 94% probability that Venezuela goes over the waterfall, as its insane ‘strong bolivar’ fixation sends it spiraling into default. Clearly, a Gideon Gono monetary policy prize is in the offing.

    1. Jef

      For the last 50 plus years world economies would stumble on a couple dollar increase in oil price.

      Now all we hear about is how a $10 or $20 dollar a barrel drop in price threatens collapse of national economies.

      Pee Coil is here and it still is not being acknowledged.

    2. vidimi

      seems like the sanctions are intended to do just that: the bolivar is hanging by a thread and the u.s. is hoping that some stinging sanctions will sever that last string of fabric. guess we’ll find out soon enough if that will work, though it will be a shame to see venezuela fall back into american orbit.

      1. cwaltz

        I’m not convinced it will. I, like Michaeld Hudson, think the US tends to think optimistically when it comes up with outcomes on other countries becoming unstable.

  3. anonymous123

    If anyone is curious about how the Berkeley protests are going, here’s a quick recap of yesterday.

    2:30pm, 500-1,000 Berkeley High School students stage a walk out, march to city hall, then up to the UC Berkeley campus to stage a die-in. News (?) helicopters were already out capturing the whole thing; I could see them hovering for about 2.5 hrs. Later in the evening, protestors were back at the Berkeley campus and shut down Peter Thiel’s lecture at Wheeler Hall.

    Smaller crowd Weds night; reports on Twitter that ~100 still in jail from Tuesday’s arrests.

    Here’s where things get messy. ~6 hrs aho, multiple individual reports on Twitter that 2 undercover cops were part of the protests and possibly initiating the looting of an otherwise peaceful protest. A few pics and videos posted that confirm. Crowd reportedly started beating the cops, who pulled guns and arrested a few people. Very unsettling.

    1. anonymous123

      Forgot to add that there were no live streams of the protests last night like there had been for the previous four nights. Maybe because the live streamers got arrested last night? Really convenient.

  4. DJG

    The New Yorker article is absurd and doesn’t take responsibility. Torture is bipartisan, as attested by the article about Mary Jo White that Yves Smith just posted. [In which we learn that White was detailed by Obama to check up on the torturing going on at Guantanamo). And then there is this serving of word salad from the miles gloriosus McCain: “As Senator John McCain noted in a floor statement after the report’s release, “Our enemies act without conscience. We must not. This executive summary … makes clear that acting without conscience isn’t necessary, it isn’t even helpful, in winning this strange and long war we’re fighting. We should be grateful to have that truth affirmed.”” Truths affirmed. Strange wars. Exceptional consciences. Sure, I’ll believe that. So the narrowing of the charges and time span begin, as does the coverup by all involved.

        1. different clue

          It actually got a very loud and strategic shout of total support and affirmation from a very key and strategic Democrat. Pelosi took impeachment “off the table” precisely in order to protect the torture program and protect the torture Administration.

          No, of course I can’t “prove” that. I just very firmly feel it to be true.

    1. fresno dan

      And of course, this:
      But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better. Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past.

      Yup, the bad ole past….can’t do nuthin about what happened in the past.

      I wonder if it works for speeding tickets??? “But officer, I’m not speeding NOW. I’m not moving at all – I can’t go any slower. That speeding was in the PAST. Let’s move on….”

    2. ChrisPacific

      I agree it softpedals the responsibility question, but some of the additional details are sickening. An intellectually disabled detainee tortured purely to obtain leverage against his family. Individuals imprisoned and tortured solely on the basis of fabricated confessions also obtained under torture. This isn’t 1984, it’s Animal Farm.

      Worse still is the general response I’m reading online. There is a fair amount of outrage but also a pretty large contingent that thinks the US did nothing wrong. (Sample comment: “Having trouble getting worked up about what happens to a bunch of terrorists.”) For a country founded on ideals, the US has certainly fallen a long way.

  5. dearieme

    Amazeballs! The mondegreen article has a mondegreen in it. ‘Tain’t “Earl Amurray”. ‘Tis “Earl o’ Moray”.

    1. OregonChris

      My favorite jokes are often based on these, I didn’t know they had a name!

      Here is one real quick: A pastor sees his young son and some friends conducting a funeral service for a dead bird that they found. He hears his son singing:

      “Glory be to the Father… and to the Son… into the hole he goes!”

      Coach from Cheers does a lot of these also.

  6. dearieme

    “There is such a thing as privacy” should have no bearing on public officials pursuing their public duties. Perhaps Judge Posner would like privacy for judges in the execution of their duties. Why might that be?

    1. Glenn Condell

      Think of the millions of people, or better, the percentage of the populace, who have had affairs, surfed porn, visited hookers, sent off-colour jokes… then think of the uses that knowledge (stored, mapped, easily searchable) can be put to, in the hands of the sort of unaccountable and brutal officials in police and intel we have seen just lately..

      On second thoughts, don’t think about it (and certainly don’t write about it!)

      1. dearieme

        None of which need involve their public duties. If a judge keeps a mistress on his own time that’s none of my business. If he’s canoodling with her on court time, it is.

    1. diptherio

      Nice coat. And one of the best by-lines evah

      Inigo is a writer and graphic designer from Manila, Philippines. He is a soldier of love who will carry you on his strong back of awesomeness when the zombie apocalypse arrives.

      Good guy to know…

  7. McMike

    [Cue the conspiracy music]…. I have noticed that lately whenever I visit NC site, my computer starts working really hard in the background, and leaving NC makes it stop.

    Probably just ads overburdening my computer. But, well, just sayin’…

  8. Paul Niemi

    And the good news is that it is raining in California. I looked at Sacramento weather, and so far there have been 3 inches of rain for the month of December, historical average being 3.5 inches for the month. The latest storm coming onshore is expected to dump 6 to 8 inches in some areas by itself, and there is a flood watch in effect in the area. There are two more storms in the Pacific, backed up to come ashore behind this storm. Some relief from drought there makes me feel better about the news, for a change.

    1. fresno dan

      And since I’m stuck inside, I have plenty of time to read not only all the NC articles, but all the links in the comment section as well ;)

  9. Vatch

    Masha Gessen, in “The Myth of the Russian Oligarchs”, says that there are no longer any oligarchs in Russia. She claims that when Putin came to power, he either arrested or forced the emigration of the oligarchs who would not acknowledge his authority. This part is true, but it does not mean there aren’t any oligarchs any more. Instead, it means that the nature of the Russian oligarchy changed under Putin. Previously, it probably could be described as a Ruling Oligarchy, in which multiple oligarchs played a significant role in running the country. After Putin consolidated his power, it changed to become what Jeffrey Winters calls a Sultanistic Oligarchy in his very useful book Oligarchy, published by Cambridge University Press in 2011. So there are still multiple oligarchs in Russia, but one of them, Vladimir Putin, is clearly at the top of the hierarchy.

  10. Brian

    The UK hires economist to determine outcome of antibiotic attentuation problem. Lord Mondegrene was Churchill’s boss and a uncle grampa to Freddie Mercury. When I thought Mick Jagger said “She said she’d like to play with Mr. Microphone” was all wrong and I built a career on it.
    Damn fine way to start a Thursday.

  11. fresno dan

    A little off the beaten track. Besides some competition in the movie industry, it gives a chance to see movies that would not be distributed because they would not meet Hollywood cultural/financial criteria. I’m partial to Iranian (Taste of Cherry) and Finnish (Leningrad Cowboys go American) myself, but I’m for anything that broadens access and horizons.

    “Viva Riva”!
    excellent cinematography, editing, etc. I was surprised at the excellent technical aspects. The story was complex and sophisticated.

  12. Jim

    Interesting to note that the debate among the NC commetariat about the nature of our modern State has reached the pages of the Financial Times. In today’s edition Geoff Dyer has an article entitled “Democrat’s report underlines growth of “deep state” in US.”

    Dwyer quotes Michael Glennon:

    “Increasingly, national security policy is forged and carried out by a managerial class that is effectively removed from electoral and constitutional constraints.”

    Dweyer also argues that “US political life functions on two separate planes, the surface world of gridlock and hyper-partisanship and noisy cable television…but less often glimpsed a national security establishment whose influence enducres administration after administration, Republican or Democrat, and that constantly seems to evade political constraints.”

    1. fresno dan

      I would agree as far as it goes, but it is incomplete. He needs to add that it also applies to all things finance…

  13. Carolinian

    Salon: These are lies the New York Times wants you to believe about Russia

    I did like the Times’ head, parenthetically: “Putin, Amid Stark Challenges, Says Russia’s Destiny Is at Hand.” Without going histrionic, that is likely to prove precisely what is at hand. My favorite MacFarquhar sentence: “Mr. Putin enjoyed ever-greater support from March to August, but in the months since, as sanctions began to bite with inflation, support began to erode — though his approval ratings remain in the 80s.”

    You have to love a paper that will publish this. Somehow.

    Ain’t it the truth.

  14. fresno dan

    The law penalizes merely recording the police when their in public. Pretty much should be entitled, “Allow police to commit crime” And I’m positive the people passing it, when the police are accused of committing a crime, would scream, their is no objective evidence of a crime!

    The margins by which the law passed are shocking. The inquisition is starting to look like a paradigm of objectivism, search for truth, dispassion, and mercy compared to the US legal system…..

    1. cripes

      Well, not very accurate. Illinois’ lousy “wiretapping” law, intended toovercome state supreme court finding that it not constituional, does say ‘private’ conversations’ but does little to define that, effectively chilling citizen oversight of police misconduct unless they are willing to risk enhanced charges for recording law enforcement personnel. Chris drew, since deceased, was one ofthe test cases who recorded police indoors,

  15. Yonatan

    US to impose sanctions on Venezuela – as Venezuela has supposedly failed to protect protestors rights. Lt John Pike anyone?

    Perhaps the US NGO regime change scam has failed or is failing in yet another country.

  16. NOTaREALmerican

    Boy, it sure would be nice if our government was a bit smaller. Maybe the assholes running things wouldn’t have the resources to do so much damage. (Yeah yeah, I know, next election the nice-people will win).

    1. cwaltz

      The size of the government is not the problem. Why in the world would you think a small inept and corrupt government would be better than a large inept and corrupt one? The problem is the inept and corrupt part of the equation. As it is I’d argue that the public private partnership used to “downsize” has been just as much of an excuse to loot taxpayers as a larger public establishment.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I am for the ‘small and yet powerful’ model…kind of like our voluntary army. Hopefully, used for noble causes, and not, for example, for monitoring every single citizen.

        In any case, the government should not steal from the People. If you name the People as the plaintiff, any money should go to the People.

        “I am your attorney and you’re the plaintiff. Remember that in front of the judge. We’re two separate entities.”


        “But any money after the verdict, it’s all mine, or at least, there is no difference between you and me. Your money is mine money. We are one. Because government.”

        “Wait, I am confused.”

        “OK, just think of it as 100% contingency. Suing is expensive and we have a budget, like a household.”

    2. davidgmills

      Smaller in what way? There’s the rub. It seems to be too small to have a decent infrastructure. It seems to be too small to adequately take care of it’s citizenry. The military on the other hand…..

      1. cwaltz

        Apparently we need a HUGE military and tons of people willing to spy for the government but no pesky regulatory agencies or social programs. Those can never be small enough nevermind we’re at a point where we are on the honor system for allowing agribusiness to potentially give us all salmonella or that we’ve hit a point where we’re essentially closing down offices where elderly can get information on the benefits they’ve earned by contributing for years. Yayyyyyy small government (tongue firmly in cheek)–politics.html;_ylt=AwrBT7lyGIpUu5sAuLRXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEzMW92ZzZ0BHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1NNRTY1Ml8x

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What we have is big government for big business.

          Big government also provides big army to blow up the world to provide Rome with cheap serfs.

          Somewhere there, there is a size that is appropriate.

          The risk of a too-small empire is bad for the American people (some disagree. To them, the empire is needed to save the world and so, a too-small empire is bad for the world.)

          The risk of a too-big empire is bad for everyone everywhere.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Aiee, you are right. I looked in GovTrack in the wee hours of the AM and didn’t see the Senate vote. Maybe not updated as of then? Have amended the post.

Comments are closed.