Links 12/19/14

Birds fled ‘day before’ US tornadoes BBC (furzy mouse)

Poking fun at power: Why dictators and despots hate political cartoonists New Statesman (Chuck L)

New York Regulator Outlines Changes to Bitcoin Rules New York Times

The Single Most Terrifying Trend Facing Google Business Insider (David L)

China is Planning to Purge Foreign Technology and Replace With Homegrown Suppliers Yahoo (furzy mouse). Hardly surprising after the Snowden revelations.

ONEURO: Greece, the EUROZONE and the prospects of a SYRIZA government Yanis Varoufakis

For Cuba, Few See Rapid Change, Especially in Economy Wall Street Journal


Putin blames west for Russia’s woes Financial Times

The West should not let Russia fall apart Fortune

Defiant Vladimir Putin digs in for two-year slump, dismisses talk of palace coup Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

The casualties of Russia’s decline BBC


Rewriting Syria’s War Foreign Policy

What have we left to fear for? We have already buried our sons Dawn (martha r)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The Future of Privacy Pew Research (martha r)

The National Security State “Works,” Even If Nothing It Does Works Tom Engelhardt

CIA Report Warned Assassination Programme Might Backfire Wikileaks

Getting Rid of Al Sharpton and the Misleadership Class Glen Ford (Chuck L)

Not Just Public Lands: Defense Bill Also Incentivizes Fracked Gas Vehicles Steve Horn

John Galt Faces Prison For Contaminating West Virginia Water emptywheel

U.S. to sue NY City over rights violations of teen Rikers inmates Reuters (EM)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tries To Exempt Financial Firms From Ethics Laws David Sirota, International Business Times

How a Memo Cost Big Banks $37 Billion Wall Street Journal

Whither Markets?

Russia sounds a warning on the frailties of global debt Gillian Tett, Financial Times. Important.

Pimco: Don’t Fret Falling Oil Prices WSJ MoneyBeat

Rigging the Market Paul Craig Roberts, Counterpunch

Fed Calls Time On $5.7 Trillion Of Emerging Market Dollar Debt Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Surveys suddenly weakening Warren Mosler

A real danger to global financial system from oil price collapse Financial Times (Michael C)

Just another downside indicator… FT Alphaville (Scott)

Class Warfare

The Economics of Social Status ribbonfarm (martha r). From 2013 but clearly topical.

America’s Wealth Gap Is Becoming a Wealth Chasm Slate

Déjà Vu All Over Again Archdruid (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour (Kevin H):

flower longhorn beetle links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. dearieme

    “For Cuba, Few See Rapid Change, Especially in Economy Wall Street Journal”

    So, rapid change is about to happen.

    Personally, I think it would be wonderful to see a revolution, with the Castros strung up from lampposts. If only to see how O would react.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Really. What heinous crime, exactly, have “the Castros” committed?

        Not the ones we SAY they committed or the ones WE committed and blamed on them, but the ones they ACTUALLY committed?

    1. Banger

      Are you serious? Cuba without Castro is Cuba run by organized crime. Cuba is, despite a lot of stupid policies, still an island of sanity compared to the vicious and fundamentally criminal actions of the U.S. government and its allies in the corporate world.

    2. diptherio

      Ever been to Cuba? I’ve got quite a few friends who have, and by all accounts the Cuban people loved Fidel and are supportive of their government. And that government, by the way, has done a pretty good job of making that country livable, despite being embargoed all these long years.

      You don’t like the Castros? Too f–king bad–it’s not your country. If you’re going to talk about executing state officials, make it sure they’re your own state officials, or you come off sounding like an imperialist. And after all the rapacity and looting by leaders in the US and Europe, you complain about Castro? Motes and beams, etc…

      1. slick

        I’ve spent a lot of time in Cuba, and shot a couple of films there. The notion that the people are super repressed and ready to turn against the regime, is completely wrong. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say the majority of the population loves the Castro brothers either. It’s much more nuanced than that. Most of what people in the US *think* they know about Cuba comes from our government, and the exile community, both of which have an axe to grind.

        If you want to get any understanding of the people, the government, and their relationship, you really need to look into the history of the island. Which was basically under crushing colonial domination by Spain, until they were under crushing (defacto) colonial domination by the US. The Castros and the revolution changed that, in a way that was not all together bad. It has devolved into something else, but there are still many alive there who remember the time before the regime when the country was run by oligarchs who controlled the puppet regime and organized crime. Many, particularly the young who did not live through the early days of the revolution, would like change but are not so distant from the past that their parents and others have forgotten it. Yes, there is certainly repression, but their is also an enviable way of life so distant from our crony capitalism, the few in the US can even imagine it.

        When was the last time you spent an entire day without seeing a billboard, hearing commercials, or getting advertising forcefully crammed into every orifice in your body? Having hard time remembering? They have it everyday. The Cubans are, for the most part, wonderful folks with a sense of humor and a patience that only comes with hardship. I was hauled in by the secret police on my last visit, and much info was written down (something you really do not want to happen, because then you are on “the list”). It is my hope that this thaw in relations will allow me to return without worry. The island is beautiful, with natural areas unlike any in the Northern Hemisphere, because the haven’t been over-developed. The are beaches there that look like they did 300 years ago, try finding that else where. It is a place I would love to see again.

      2. annie

        friends–british, fluent in spanish, hardly subject to american propaganda– went to cuba just few months ago and were thoroughly depressed by what they found– standard of living, level of personal freedom, maintenance of natural resources.
        impression too was of pervasive surveillance–not of themselves but of anyone they spent time with. one acquaintance was taken in by police before they left. they stayed off the tourist paths–that seemed to be a mistake.
        or is it still criminal to be gay in cuba. it’s a long time ago but i recall how nestor almendros despised fidel.

        i’d like to believe what you say is the case.

        1. diptherio

          It’s been about half a dozen years since anyone I know has been there. Reports back had it no worse than other third-world countries, but with a better government. Admittedly, my friends were there to study percussion and were staying with musicians who were paid by the State to play traditional music, so maybe their experience was biased.

          1. annie

            the friends i cited are very familiar with third world countries, traveling constantly for business and vacation. cuba trip was meant to be ‘vacation.’ not. or very grim one.

            1. Carolinian

              The issue isn’t about what Cuba is really like. It’s about the United States telling other countries what to do. Also when we talk about assassinating their leaders their citizens, even the opposition, are apt to become a mite peevish.

              At any rate American policy toward Cuba has always been about the looneys in Miami, not about the Cuban people. Those oligarchs who got run out of town want their stuff back. Plus our own US oligarchs in the Republican party feel that a socialist government can’t be allowed to succeed. It gets people to thinking.

        2. slick

          I was not trying to make the place sound idealistic – it isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination. I apologize if I gave that impression. However, it is not, as many will tell you the completely oppressive and frightening place that you are told it is here. The situation is much more nuanced than that.

          Life is hard, getting enough calories to get by takes a good part of your day, the destitute suffer. You can get in serious trouble for your politics. You can also find very heavy party officials who will protect you if you are there to do cultural work and not a USAID mission. Essentially, all I was trying to say is that some of what you are being told is a lie. I have been very, very far of the “tourist route” there. Looking into the Gitmo from the Cuba side with the army. I have been to Baracoa, Santaigo, Guantanimo, Holguin, Manzanillo and other places running cameras on people speaking freely about their politics. I am not trying to tell you that didn’t make me nervous.

          BUT, I think what they Cubans would like would be an opportunity to be the ones who fix their own problems. Not with “help” from Spain, or the US, or the Soviet Union. They are, away from tourist dumps like Havana, a very proud, independent, education, and culturally unique people. I think they would like a shot at making some of the own decisions and they are plenty capable of doing it, under better circumstances. Castro isn’t loved, but he belongs to Cuba. We never had a place at the table of what to do with him, and shouldn’t have tried to take a seat there.

    3. Yata

      They needed trade and commerce, but instead got a U.S. embassy and the state dept.

      I have a feeling the future “economic progress” envisioned for Cuba will leave it in roughly the same straits as Puerto Rico finds itself today.

    1. Glenn Condell

      Russell Brand deserves some credit for this:

      He has been on this issue for a while:

      I admire his balls, which must be the size of churchbells. The establishment HATE him, but he keeps marching straight into their maw and exposing via the media the hypocrisy and rot normally obscured by that same media. I have had otherwise sensible people solemnly point out to me that he himself must be a hypocrite because he is… rich. The barrel’s bottom, surely.


  2. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Getting Rid of Al Sharpton and the Misleadership Class Glen Ford (Chuck L)

    “In the absence of a Black mass movement, the Democratic wing of finance capital and their Black operatives will once again divert African Americans from mounting their own challenges to the evils that oppress them, and we will witness another sickening circling of the wagons around the supposedly Lesser Evil blue donkey…….”


    If there’s been a better description of Hilary Clinton written, I haven’t seen it.

    I DO loves me my Glen Ford commentary.

    1. Banger

      I think we’re beginning to see a gradual shift away from the DP on the part of the left. There is no longer a rational reason for supporting the DP other than the good cop/bad cop routine that is U.S. party politics.

      1. NOTaREALmerican

        The good cop/bad cop is all there is. “The left” and “the right” basically won the argument 70 years ago. Both love large centralized organizations run by very wise knowledgeable (and, just coincidentally, wealthy) people who only want what’s best for “da masses”.

        There’s just a very slight disagreement on which group of very wise knowledgeable (and just coincidentally, wealthy) people should run things, but the very wise knowledgeable (and just coincidentally, wealthy) people work this out with elections.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The word that stands out is ‘mass.’

          That’s da people, people power, or people money.

      2. lord koos

        What saddens me is that I have many otherwise intelligent friends who remain Democratic party loyalist cheerleaders. How long can people continue to accept the “we’re still better than the Republicans” as a reason to vote for them? Given the current make up of the Republican party is setting the bar awfully low and it seems to be the only real reason most people I know still vote Democrat.

        I’ve come to think that the lesser of two evils is still evil. I’ve been voting Democrat since 1972 and have watched things steadily get worse since that time. Other than local elections, I’m done with them.

        1. jrs

          Is it even provable that they are better (by a standard liberal definition of “better” I suppose) than Republicans low bar that that may be?

          As sorry as an argument as “lesser of two evils” is, is it even TRUE? I mean in terms of actual legislation, not in terms of talk, not in terms of voting decently on bills that fail anyway. In terms of actual LAWS that get passed.

          Of course this won’t calm any “what if” fears of republicans, what if the next batch are even worse? I don’t know, W was really bad, Obama is not better …

    2. Jess


      If there’s been a better description of Hilary Clinton written, I haven’t seen it.

      I DO loves me my Glen Ford commentary.”

      You and me both.

  3. Faye Carr

    CUBA: I’ve got a friend traveling to Cuba in January (she travels there a lot). Cannot wait to get a first person non-media filtered opinion on how things are going for Cuba.

    Speaking of which… Tin Foil Hat Department: when news this big and media cycle consuming I always wonder what horror is happening in the background. Ya know, stuff in the Friday Night News Dump.

    1. Jim S

      Erm, torture? No stories in today’s links. Oh, right, sorry. Old news, no one wants to hear about it. Cuba and all that. Sorry. Won’t bring it up again.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The stories I saw were rehash. And I am not omniscient, nor do I have unlimited amounts of time. If you see something of interest that you think we missed, the usual practice is to provide that link.

        1. Jim S

          Please excuse my broad brush. Sarcasm was directed at the dearth of MSM reporting, as you point out, rather than any failure to link, although I have nothing to prove this weak apology. More care warranted in any case!

  4. PeterP

    Good comments under the ridiculous Fortune article about the need to help Russia. Once they withdraw from Crimea we can start talking about help, otherwise it would set a bad precedent in the region.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        ‘Help’ is coming to Cuba.

        As China purges foreign technology, US surplus can be rerouted to that island.

        Talk about good timing.

        1. optimader

          China “purging foreign technology”? I double checked to see if that was sourced from The Onion. I think you’ll need to go back a few centuries til you find truly indigenous Chinese technology. Anything contemporary is purchased and reproduced or just stolen outright.

    1. Strangely Enough

      Can we make it a “once we withdraw from…” I don’t know, everywhere, kind of deal?

      Seems fair.

  5. Carolinian

    That point was inadvertently proved with perhaps the most provocative kernel of information that emerged during the disorienting past few days. In the middle of the swirl, the Daily Beast revealed communications between Sony Entertainment chief executive Michael Lynton and the State Department, which told him that “The Interview” had the potential of actually moving the needle in North Korea. Lynton had already run the project by a specialist at the Rand Corp. (where he sits on the board of trustees).


    In a June e-mail, Rand defense analyst Bruce Bennett wrote to Lynton: “I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government. Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will).”

    Lynton subsequently wrote back: “Bruce — Spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially). He agreed with everything you have been saying. Everything. I will fill you in when we speak.”

    The plot thickens. Are the N. Koreans really so wacky in seeing H’wood as the tip of the regime change spear? Which is not to defend North Korea. But you wonder if these moguls would be quite so brave (or foolish….they are turning out to be anything but brave) when it comes to regime change at home.

    1. hunkerdown

      The differences between Fight Club‘s ending in the novel and in the film suggest an answer. Being waited on hand and foot in Heaven vs. watching a building go down with the Gotten Girl by your side… geez, think small, Americans!

    2. jrs

      Yes thank you. It will be propagandized that N Korea is attacking free expression when in fact they are attacking an industry one of whose functions is to be a propaganda arm for the U.S. government (the other function is to rake in lots of money of course).

      And people think totalitarianism has anything on inverted totalitarianism, when inverted totalitarianism has people paying to be brainwashed.

      Frankly I regard the entertainment companies as not in the interest of the people. They work with the government (state department and the CIA) to propagandize. They’re often the major sponsors of horrible trade deals like the TPP. Etc..

  6. Jim Haygood

    FT article:

    ‘According to BIS data, there are some $2.6tn of outstanding international debt securities from emerging market borrowers, three quarters of which are issued in dollars. A significant slice of this is being serviced by revenues earned in domestic currencies, the BIS believes.’

    This happens over and over. Emerging market (EM) borrowers get lower interest rates on dollar borrowing, because the dollar is regarded as more stable in value than their local currencies. When the developed world is optimistic on emerging markets, developing countries load up on low-cost dollar financing from rich investors beating the bushes in search of higher yields.

    Then when crisis strikes and EM currencies start cratering (just as rich-country lenders had feared), the principal and interest explodes in local currency terms.

    It’s going to keep on happening under the floating exchange rate regime that emerged in the wake of the US opt-out from Bretton Woods in 1971. This system is inherently disorderly and can be relied upon to generate frequent, damaging shocks. Why does it persist? Because politicians want absolute discretion to pursue any domestic policy they want. Something has to give, and it’s the currency (formally called the Trilemma):

    Got hryvnias?

        1. Alejandro

          Its not the interest per se, but the chameleonic tandem of how the risk is “ assigned” and what “ justifies” compounding.

          Your reference is just a variation of your “trademark” demagogic-obfuscatory-misdirection. You won’t or can’t seem to engage these two issues.

          1. Jim Haygood

            Compounding is just math: (1 + r) raised to the nth power. Nothing you or I (or Congress) can do about it.

            +1 for ‘chameleonic tandem.’ It trumps Matt Rose’s ‘recrudescence’ in today’s semantic sweepstakes.

            1. Alejandro

              If it were “just” math and confined to some school-work excercise, then I would accept your implication that it’s harmless. When it’s used to “rationalize” the delusion that financial claims can “grow” infinitely against finite stuff that “recrudesces” after decaying ad infinitum, can you recognize the conflict?

              “Nothing you or I (or Congress) can do about it.”
              That reads like a variation of TINA. I prefer to think about TINA as having a bodacious set of TAAA-TAAA’s (There Are Always Alternative’s). When bubbles ‘pop’, why doesn’t the corresponding debt, ‘pop’ accordingly?

            2. different clue

              The abstract arithmetic of “compounding” is just math. But applying compounding methods to numbers denominating real debt is a politicalegal way to extract more rather than less money from the targetted borrower.

              Is there any biophysical reason why compound interest could not be outlawed and interest limited to simple only?

        2. susan the other

          But it IS all equities. So why shouldn’t we deal with it equitably? Well, because some people want to protect their interests and so they do derivatives (debt instruments in this case) for interest but they do not jeopardize the underlying capital. That’s the main problem with “finance.”

  7. Brooklin Bridge

    Poking fun at power: Why dictators and despots hate political cartoonists

    It seems that political cartoons of the Obama administration have been few and far between, but then I’ve not been paying as much attention to the MSM as I used to.

    When you think of it, cartoonists are just like whistle blowers; traitors to their country and the height from which they should be hung for all to see corresponds exactly with the truth about corruption and misuse of power they attempted to reveal!

    1. Vatch

      I’m reminded of some anecdotes about Boss Tweed and the cartoonist Thomas Nast.

      From the Tweed Wiki:

      ‘Tweed had for months been under attack from the New York Times and Thomas Nast, the cartoonist from Harper’s Weekly – regarding Nast’s cartoons, Tweed reportedly said, “Stop them damned pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures!”‘

      From the Nast Wiki:

      Tweed was arrested in 1873 and convicted of fraud. When Tweed attempted to escape justice in December 1875 by fleeing to Cuba and from there to Spain, officials in Vigo, Spain, were able to identify the fugitive by using one of Nast’s cartoons.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We are being educated to lampoon only dictators and despots, judging from the headline, as most people only read that or pictures.

      That means, of course, we should ignore corrupt politicians, because they are not, in strict sense, dictators nor despots (at least not obvious for people too busy to stave off starvation).

      Whoever is directing this is very smart, for sure. Too many smart people in the world, that seems to be the problem.

  8. Banger

    The PCR article kind of puts together aspects of how markets are rigged. The situation is more complex and more extensive that PCR reports–still reading the article will give you a good sense of the general atmosphere of the “big picture.” There are informal networks now that exist between various sovereign funds, international organizations like IMF/World Bank and the major TBF banks which we can not identify as parts of the State, at least in the U.S. and Britain. I think we are past the time that we can even regulate the major markets–the attempt is futile because, at this point in history, regulators do not have much real political support and are even more vulnerable to “offers that cannot be refused” than before the 08 crash.

    Thus the only way “out” of this is to create some kind of alternative financial system. Loretta Napolieoni suggested modelling it on the the Islamic system–I don’t know but we need to remove to gradually boycott all the major institutions from education to medicine to the police–just FYI don’t think that if you’re white, middle class and own property that you are immune from police abuse and use of excessive force we have a friend who was the victim of that quite recently–she was arrested and they never even read her rights and she did nothing wrong and the case will be thrown out of court on Monday I’m sure. I think that will be the future since the police will be, in their persons, the law–this is the basic fact we see emerging from a plethora of courts cases–we are wrong if we focus on race here–we are all vulnerable to the police in theory. Make your own evaluations of your local police if they are arrogant and strutting around then you are at risk.

    1. TimR

      The focus on race is a deliberate ploy to divide and conquer, inflame tensions, confuse and mislead, etc.

  9. Jim

    Love “Rigging the Market” by Paul Craig Roberts this morning.

    Especially like his observation that “apparently Putin has been sold along with his internal enemies the Atlanticist integrationists on “free trade gllobalism. Globalism destroys the sovereignty of ever country except the the world currency country that controls the system.”

    This comment nicely captures the interplay between networks and nationalism. It was, of course the Harvard network (guys like Hay, Schleifer, Summers and their Russian counteparts like Chubais) who helped introduce neoliberalism into the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s (largely through a privatization plan which benefited this network and certain oligarchs while hurting the average Russian.

    But the ultimate winner, at least at this point, was American nationalism and its sovereign world currency that still controls the international political/financial system

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Whoever controls the World Sovereign Currency controls the world.

      The exceptional one prints it at will, as much as it desires, while all others must earn it.

      For a time, the thieving politicians among nations did not trust each and sought to check that unlimited hegemonic power by demanding that it be tied to some thing tangible, jade, cowrie shells, giant underwater stones. Thanks to one domestic shock after another domestic shock, a golden opportunity invariably presented itself to free the hegemon from the barbarous shackles. And that’s where we are today.

      The quest, for our hero, then, is to tame the dragon and restore that power to the people. Only through the wisdom of the people can that power be wielded to better the world for all, and not just a privileged few.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Wealth gap becoming wealth chasm.

    Thanks to science and technology, that chasm will one day be space void, as our billionaires ascend ever upward to their new abode among the stars, perhaps Olympus Mons on Mars or some other undisclosed exoplanet, accompanied by a few select proletariat comfort men and comfort women, for these self-proclaimed new gods and goddesses, like their Greek predecessors, can’t just leave the rest of us alone.

    They all too proudly call it Billionaire Ascension Day.

    1. Vatch

      Mars has a very weak magnetic field, so there’s much less protection from solar and other radiation than there is on Earth. The billionaires who move to Mars will be able to enjoy higher rates of cancer and mutant children!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks to taxpayer funded research projects, such as stem cell, etc, these new gods and goddesses should be able to afford immortality, based on the knowledge glimpsed from above said leveraged ventures, with the wealth they have amassed.

      2. hunkerdown

        So is *that* how the Ferengi will come to be… here I thought it was just an exaggeration of Britons and their bad teeth and their empires.

  11. Light a Candle

    The Pew Report on internet privacy issues is a very interesting, albeit long, read with thoughtful observations by a wide variety of experts.

    Privacy doesn’t seem to be an issue at all however:

    “By 2025, privacy will be a moot issue, most likely. Instead, we will be focusing on the moral issues behind using proven techniques of behavior modification, if there is any debate at all. “

  12. Uahsenaa

    “If the world had acted as American air power has done in these years, many people who shouldn’t have gotten married wouldn’t have gotten married and the world would be a saner place for marriage.”

    One of the great joys of Engelhardt’s writing, aside from his insights into the peculiar machinations of the security state, is his wonderfully macabre sense of humor.

  13. Light a Candle

    I realized after reading the WSJ article about the $37 billion extracted from the banksters by the federal government that this means nothing for ordinary citizens: people aren’t getting their homes and lives back and we don’t have a functioning, sustainable society.

  14. Vatch

    Supposedly, the government has made a profit of $15.3 billion on a $426 billion TARP bailout “investment”. That’s 3.6% over the course of around 6 years: about 0.6% per year. Pretty dismal, but it’s actually better than my bank account pays. I wonder how much of the TARP “profit” came from other government programs for the banks? Of course this has been discussed here at NC many times.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Yeah, it has been discussed and “TARP made a profit” has been debunked by Yves and others. Ask yourself:

      – What’s the “return” when backdoor bailouts are included?

      – Whats the “return” if the Banks had to pay full restitution?
      (The government “foamed the runway” and otherwise helped the Banks to reduce or stretch out their liabilities.)

      – What would the numbers look like if Banks marked to market?
      (you STILL can’t trust bank asset valuations)

      – What kind of return would a real investor expect in a distressed situation when they are the sole source of capital?
      (Who do our elected representatives really work for?)

      Financial reform has largely been blunted but the ‘fix’ is in: next financial crisis will be ‘solved’ via bail-ins rather than bail-outs.

      H O P

      1. fresno dan

        I agree with you Jackrabbit
        BUT, I will post this….so I can refute it
        I like propublica, and this kind of green eyeshade accounting is what is often used to say, “HEY, it was all paid back – what’s your beef?”

        Well, Steve Waldman explains it better than I can, though in a nutshell it amounts to walking into a casino, losing a bunch of money, but than finding out that if you had won, the casino had no money to pay you. Were you defrauded? In that type of transaction, if one participant is indemnified against loss, but not paying for that indemnification, that means the other participant is. Even if you never go to a casino, you are paying with our taxes to bail the casino out.

        It upsets me so much because if we are to have a “free market” or “capitalistic” system, it has to be understood that it is a “profit and LOSS” system. If the people who are responsible for the losses (i.e. MALINVESTMENTS at best, FRAUD at worse) get to continue to make decisions….is it any wonder why things aren’t going well?

        1. Vatch

          Ah yes, here’s an article about the use of other government funds to pay back some of the TARP bailout loans:

          Unfortunately, a GAO report that is referred to in that article does not seem to be available on the web anymore. Quelle surprise! Here’s the URL:

          Perhaps because this report contradicts today’s announcement, it was important that the contradictory GAO report be removed from public eyes.

  15. ambrit

    File under ‘Stupid Press Tricks.’
    Call me terminally cynical, but I find it hard to believe that anyone working for an outfit as big as Yahoo News would make as basic a mistake as to print this title, “City secretly sells a Cezanne for $100 million,” when the seller is the fully independent non-profit Edsel & Elanor Ford House Trust. The title implies that the City of Detroit deceived everyone during the Detroit Bankruptcy negotiations. Appearance vs. reality. It’s all in the messaging.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Ironically, paintings are about appearance and reality.

      “Ceci n’est pa une pipe.”

      Especially not in Cuba (they hardly use pipes).

      1. ambrit

        True. I remember going to see a travelling exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art and marveling at how physically small the self portrait of Cezanne was.
        (..they [Cubans] hardly use pipes.) They do have a love for saxophones though.

  16. fresno dan

    Only because I have this bugaboo about copyright.
    I disagree that the old way is better. And I do not believe this sentence to be true: “We need to figure out how to make this digital distribution work for everyone.” I disagree with it because within its mundane language are tacit assumptions: the framework of an exploitative system that I have been at odds with my whole creative life. Inside that trite sentence, “We need to figure out how to make this work for everyone,” hides the skeleton of a monster.

    Let’s start at the beginning. “We need to figure out”: the subject of that sentence, the first-person plural, sounds inclusive but the context defeats that presumption. Who would have the power to implement a new distribution paradigm? Who would be in the room when we discuss our plans for it? Who would do the out figuring we need to do? Industry and consumers? Consumers is a likely response, but did the consumers get a vote about how their music would be compressed or tagged or copy protected or made volatile? Did anybody? Did the consumers get a choice about whether or not Apple stuck a U2 album on their iTunes library? Of course not. These things were just done and we had to deal with them as a state of being. Consumers rebelling or complaining about things – “market pushback” – isn’t the same thing as being involved in the decision to do something. Clearly the “we” of this sentence doesn’t include the listener. I believe any attempt to organise the music scene that ignores the listener is doomed.

    How about the bands? Do the bands get a seat at the “we” table, while our figuring-out needs are met? Of course not. If you ask bands what they want – and I know this because I’m in a band and I deal with bands every day – what they want is a chance to expose their music and to have a shot at getting paid by their audience. I believe the current operating status satisfies the first of these conditions exquisitely and the latter at least as well as the old record label paradigm.

    So who is this “we”? The administrative parts of the old record business, that’s who. The vertical labels who hold copyright on a lot of music. They want to do the figuring. They want to set the agenda. And they want to do all the structural tinkering. The bands, the audience, the people who make music and who pay for it – they are conspicuously not in the discussion.
    Disney still has Mickey Mouse copyrighted….because Walt could rise from the dead…or something….and he would need those royalties…to get dewormed.

  17. Luke The Debtor

    Has fracking ever polluted the drinking water of three-hundred thousand people? All the more reason to ban coal and go to fracking. There is no such thing as clean coal.

    1. Vatch

      Coal is filthy. However, wasn’t that pollution of 300,000 people’s supply of drinking water temporary? The contaminated water was flowing river water, and after a few weeks it was very likely safe to drink again. When fracking contaminates water, it’s groundwater that is contaminated, and years or centuries can elapse before it is safe to drink again.

      Both coal and fracking should be avoided. Because of this, we need to increase our investment in renewable energy sources and we need to reduce the world’s population (by reducing the birth rate, of course, not by increasing the death rate). Fewer people will mean less demand for energy, some sources of which are inevitably quite harmful.

  18. financial matters

    Birds fled ‘day before’ US tornadoes BBC (furzy mouse)

    Beautiful birds.

    This reminds me of a story in the book ‘Deep Survival’ about some Navy Seals who were vacationing in Indonesia during the tsunami and were tipped off by bird behavior in time to reach high ground. This book was largely about situational awareness and adapting to changed circumstances. This relates to Naomi Klein’s section in her new book (This Changes Everything) on ‘Magical Thinking’.

    Starting to climb a mountain and seeing storm clouds means you have to re-evaluate. Magical thinking would think that nothing had changed, either in the sense of denial or in the sense that the solution will be easy because you’ve climbed the mountain before.


  19. fresno dan

    Déjà Vu All Over Again Archdruid (Chuck L)
    It took until July 5, 1982 for the boom to turn definitively into a bust. That’s the day that federal bank regulators, after several years of inconclusive fumbling and a month or so of increasing panic, finally shut down the Penn Square Bank. What they discovered, as they dug through the mass of fragmentary, inaccurate, and nonexistent paperwork, was that Penn Square had basically been lending money to anybody in the oil and gas industry who wanted some, without taking the trouble to find out if the borrowers would ever be able to repay it. When payments became a problem, Penn Square obligingly loaned out the money to make their payments, and dealt with loans that went bad by loaning deadbeat borrowers even more money, so they could clear their debts and maintain their lifestyles.
    The oil and gas boom had in fact been nothing of the kind, as a good many of the firms that had been out there producing oil and gas had been losing money all along. Rather, it was a Ponzi scheme facilitated by delusional lending practices. All those Lear jets, vacation condos, alligator-skin cowboy boots, heaps of slightly used women’s clothing, and the rest of it? They were paid for by money from investors and upstream banks, some of it via the Penn Square Bank, the rest from other banks and investors.”
    Hmmmmm…substitute “housing bubble” for oil.

  20. optimader

    Story of R32 – short film

    from Vladimir Vlasenko 6 days ago All Audiences

    It’s the story about lonely robot who just tries to attract attention to himself.
    Director & CG – Vladimir Vlasenko
    Director of photography – Igor Guryev
    Sound & music – Nikita Troepolskiy, Igor Smirnov, Danil Varakuta
    Rotoskopy – Maxim Artemenko
    Actors – Nadya Vecherya, Nastya Borsh, Alexandr Sheweiko, Alexandr Koval

    1. ambrit

      Thank you! Very good job. The creativity and hard work involved are appreciated. (I’ve watched in fascination when my wife has worked for hours to balance colours in a painting. It’s not for the faint of heart.)
      Did you use wet on wet for some of the cells?
      Seeing as these are watercolours, shouldn’t you spell your ‘handle’ optimadder?
      This is appropriate in that we are now living in a Phil Dick continuum.

  21. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for the link to the article by Yanis Varoufakis. I am not familiar with the situation there other than what I read and see on television. But I am hopeful that perhaps the suffering of the Greek people under that nation’s continuing severe economic depression along with severe externally imposed austerity will soon be over. Public assets have been sold off (“privatized”), essential public services have been deeply cut, and taxes have been increased.

    Depending upon the borrowers, the collateral, and the amounts of the purchase discounts, asset purchases from distressed Greek banks by U.S. private equity firms and hedge funds such as those mentioned in the linked article below could be a leading indicator of expected improvement in the Greek economy (although they could also, of course, merely be part of a pattern of foreign-owned entities feasting off the carcass and/or a conduit for indirect bailouts of privately owned large European banks headquartered in other nations):

    Lets hope it’s not either of the latter two scenarios, nor yet another manufactured charade such as Yanis mentioned. Maybe the sharp decline in the price of oil will contribute to helping elevate Greece out of severe economic depression. What does seem clear to me is that those who presently control a dysfunctional EU and Troika are not willing to relent in terms of either fiscal spending initiatives or debt forgiveness.

Comments are closed.