Links 12/2/14

Therapeutic bronchoscopy performed on a dolphin PhysOrg (Chuck L)

HIV evolving ‘into milder form’ BBC (David L)

Killer robots: Why we should ban autonomous weapons systems Japan Today

Documents show how eBay’s Meg Whitman and Pierre Omidyar conspired to steal Craigslist’s secrets Mark Ames, Pando

State Department Keystone XL Contractor ERM Bribed Chinese Agency to Permit Project Steve Horn

U.S.-China Commission Describes The Multiple Tactics Of A Rogue Nation Whose Policies Have Destroyed The U.S. Economy, And The U.S. Federal Government’s Failed Response Manufacturing and Technology News

The Greek Patient: Europe Debates Third Bailout Package for Athens Der Spiegel


Russia Scraps South Stream Gas Pipeline as Putin Slams EU Moscow Times (furzy mouse)

Capital controls feared as Russian rouble collapses Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Putin Gambles on a Weak Ruble Bloomberg. This has the chart I’ve been looking for, which is the mix of Russian imports. Pharmaceuticals are an obvious category with no substitutes, and you can look at the others and judge Russia’s ability to adjust or make do with less. For instance, cheese is the largest food import category, and Russia already banned imports from Europe, with domestic producers moving in to take up the slack, and some getting help from multinational food chains as to how to improve their product. So some categories don’t have any ready substitutes, some have not as good and/or more pricey substitutes that probably won’t get much better over time, but shifting demand to domestic producers could result in real improvements over time. Regardless, consumers and businesses will face dislocations and higher costs near term.


1.7m Syrian refugees face food crisis as UN funds dry up Guardian (furzy mouse)

Obama Falsely Claims Human Rights Law Does Not Apply To Syrian Mercenary Training Moon of Alabama

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Edward Snowden wins Swedish human rights award for NSA revelations The Guardian


The Real Threat to Obamacare New Yorker (furzy mouse). A safe bet the author has never shopped for an Obamacare plan.

Underinsurance Remains Big Problem Under Obama Health Law New York Times

Three Words and the Future of the Affordable Care Act Journal of Healh Policy, Politics & Law

Shootings by police show their evolution into “security services”, bad news for the Republic Fabius Maximus (furzy mouse)

Obama: Wants to avoid ‘militarized’ police culture Associated Press. More than a little late…

Translation of story above: Obama resists demands to curtail police militarisation calling instead for improved officer training Guardian

GENEVA: U.S. shootings by police, prison conditions trouble U.N. McClatchy

FDL Going on Hiatus Firedoglake (furzy mouse) :-(

How dozens of failing for-profit schools found an unlikely savior: a debt collector Washington Post. Martha r: “Corruption in higher education.”

Chinese investors sign up to fund I-95-Pa. Turnpike link Martha r: “Corruption in public works financing, global version.”

Whither Markets?

Equity investors should heed message from commodities and bonds Mohamed El-Erian, Financial Times

Oil, Gold And Now Stocks? Ilargi

Money Supply – Dudley, the Fed & financial markets FT Alphaville

Fed Governor Dudley “U.S. Economic Outlook Looks Brighter”; Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell Michael Shedlock

Fed Watch: Sometimes I Wonder Tim Duy

OPEC’s War Won’t Be All Over by Christmas Wall Street Journal

US shale lenders caught in energy sell-off Financial Times. We said bank that lent to frackers would take a hit, as well as those with secondary exposures, like real estate in energy boom areas.

Black Friday’s Guesswork Gloom Barry Ritholtz

Cyber Monday Sales Start Slow As Early Discounts Hurt Reuters versus Cyber Monday Sales Shatter Records Business Insider

Class Warfare

Goldman offers clients Uber service Financial Times (furzy mouse)

Homeownership and Wealth Creation New York Times

Colleges that pledged to help poor families have been doing the opposite, new figures show The Hechinger Report (martha r)

Antidote du jour (Kevin H):

Raccoons in the Tidal Flat

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. dearieme

    “In fact, China remains a rogue nation, undeterred in its pursuit of creating hundreds of millions of jobs in whatever manner it deems appropriate, and at whatever cost to the U.S. economy.” My, how I laughed. This is the US – invader of the world – complaining of some other outfit being a “rogue nation”. And – how very dare they? – the swine seem to arrange their government policy in what they see as that government’s interest, not in the USA’s. What rotters!

    1. cwaltz

      How dare the Chinese government actually consider the actual country it is supposed to be representing instead of the US! Clearly they are doing it all wrong, they should do as our country’s government does and consider places like Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, etc, etc over the well being of most of the country’s citizenry.

      I gotta laugh because if I didn’t I’d cry. Someone might want to tell the idiots who blather like this that a government is supposed to have the interests of the people it represents before anything else because clearly with all the outrage at China for looking out for China’s interests or at Russia for looking out for Russia’s interest, the people in charge don’t even understand the function of government(which explains a lot.)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Neo-Confucians classify their society into four castes or classes, under the Son of Heaven.

        At the top, the scholar-gentleman class.

        Then, farmers.

        Then, laborers, artisans, workers.

        Lastly, merchants, bankers, etc.

        So, they have had a tradition of scholar-gentleman mandarins, coming up through the imperial examination system, to staff the government, with a mandate to serve the Little People, and the possibility of the removal of that mandate should they fail to do so.

        In a way, it was a rudimentary, passive democracy, relying on an imported idea – karma, as the Hindus and Buddhists believe.

        DO bankers still belong t the lowest caste in New China today? I dunno.

        1. hunkerdown

          If I remember correctly, the merchant class were held in especially low esteem in western Europe for quite some time as well, despite their relatively comfortable incomes.

      2. hunkerdown

        Would that more of us would muster the agates, not to laugh, but to angrily and unapologetically cry “SHUT THE FRACK UP” in the faces of these people. Telling them anything else serves only to encourage them.

    2. rusti

      My, how I laughed. This is the US – invader of the world – complaining of some other outfit being a “rogue nation”. And – how very dare they? – the swine seem to arrange their government policy in what they see as that government’s interest, not in the USA’s.

      Thanks for highlighting this, the article is a wonderful unintentional comedy piece that I’d hopped over on my first skim of today’s links.

      In addition to their malicious pursuit of jobs, they’ve committed the cardinal sin of moving away from policies that promote open markets which is horrible for their citizens, because everyone knows that liberalized trade with the United States would lead to a new wave of enduring freedoms for Chinese citizens.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to find rigged trade going on here. At our earliest convenience, perhaps in 2020, well after the horses have left the barn, we should also comission a Commission to determine whether or not SHAFTA pacts are contributing to inequality, the decline of the middle class, the death of democracy, and the rise of police-state fascism. Someday we should also study the efficacy of the GWOT in stamping out terrorism and the manifest benefits to the global economy.

    4. different clue

      I have to get to work any minute now. I havent read the “China-rogue” article. I will just pre-say on general principals here that whatever China did/does, it is only did/doing what the International Free Trade Conspiracy wants China to do. The Free Trade Treason Agreements and Treason Treaties were written up precisely and exactly to greenlight China ( and others) doing whatever it is this article is going to complain about China doing.

      The obvious answer is to abolish Free Trade, abrogate every Agreements, withdraw from every Body, and restore Belligerent Protectionism.

      1. cwaltz

        I’ve long thought it was beyond hypocrisy to criticize China for currency manipulation when essentially that’s EXACTLY what the Fed does to the dollar here in the US. It manipulates the dollar value which in turn affects other currencies. How do you blame another country for attempting to ensure that THEY remain economically competitive?

  2. diptherio

    Re: eBay and Craigslist

    I don’t imagine that all corporate executives are sociopaths, but Whitman and Omidyar certainly are. But as a commenter points out, “ebay’s current ceo john donahoe is on a council for the President,” so we’re unlikely to see any actual prosecutions, methinks.

    eBay CEO to Advise President

    1. McMike

      What is striking is the apparently deep and persistent naivete at Craigslist.

      I mean, you gotta admire the stubborn refusal to monetize the service. It’s quite epic really, in the old sense.

      But something about this story makes me wonder wtf were they thinking?

      I guess it’s the same thing pension fund managers think when a Goldman/PE deal maker sits down at their table. Instead of tarring and feathering and riding him out on a rail, they defer a vastly undue amount of credulity and credibility.

      1. diptherio

        Good-hearted people tend to think that everybody else is good-hearted as well. I used to be like that, but then I traveled through Asia and got taken a few times by what I thought were other good-hearted folks. That wised me up pretty quick. I would imagine that the Craigslist guys will be a little more skeptical in the future. Let’s hope, anyway.

        1. McMike

          Sure, but…..

          When you are running an obviously attractive takeover target worth billions and billions of dollars, and the executives from a leading possible competitor approach you to simultaneously acquire shares, join your board, and talk mergers – in an industry known for cutthroat takeovers and espionage – well, I mean, c’mon.

          No one at CL, not even their CFO or General Counsel thought, say, this might be a bad idea….?

          1. diptherio

            It is amazing that they have gotten as far as they have being that naive…and Pierre must be quite the actor.

            The whole deal just makes me shake my head in wonder…some people’s kids

        2. neo-realist

          Growing up in any big city would wise up just about anybody to the most rotten of the rotten.

    2. Chris in Paris

      This stuff is frankly stunning. In a world where the DOJ actually did their job, Whitman and Omidyar would be on their way jail for conspiracy (to defraud), wire fraud, theft of business secrets and many, many counts of infringement.

      1. McMike

        And note how the mythical sacred obligation to shareholders apparently does not extend to members of the Board of Directors.

    1. McMike

      The profiteering, crapification, and fraud are going to collide with the peak complexity of techno-utopianism and medical arrogance – fueled by our deliberately agitated fear of mortality and infantilized pursuit of free lunches, instant gratification, and magical thinking – and lead to one hell of a train wreck in western medicine.

      It is increasingly clear that medical experts haven’t got the slightest effing clue what they are doing.

      Captured perfectly in the Ability advertizement disclaimer about what the drug is thought to do…. “Keep in mind that the exact way ABILIFY works has not been fully determined…”

  3. Jim Haygood

    ‘Homeownership long has been central to Americans’ ability to amass wealth.’ — NYT editorial board

    Gahhhh … who ARE these deranged clowns? Did Kurgman write that?

    Housing is a depreciating asset that provides shelter (a consumption good), but creates no wealth. If house prices keep up with inflation as one might expect, then housing is a zero gross real return asset. After depreciation, it delivers a mildly negative net real return.

    Leveraged speculation (with government-subsidized borrowing) on decades of persistent inflation generated the widely-believed fallacy that home ownership ‘creates wealth.’

    All that the NYT’s purblind editorial indicates is that the PTB are preparing to relax lending standards again to lure in marginal buyers, as they did a decade ago, setting them up for the inevitable price drop, foreclosure crisis, and mobile living in their luxurious leased automobiles. This way to the egress, my friends!

    1. bruno marr


      And you gotta love the disclaimer that once Dodd-Frank reforms kick in, it will be all gravy for homeowners!

      Look, owning a home is a crapshoot. The great neighborhood CAN become not so great in as little as five years. The neighbor next door could die and the new owners become a pain in the ()*() . Your job could vanish. Getting to your suburb could take longer and cost more after just a few years. Here’s the kicker: any appreciation gets eaten up by the ridiculous transaction costs of selling your home. (RE brokers are not your friend, and not worth 6% of sale.)

      Did I mention that you should spend 1-3% of the homes valuation on maintenance each year. Or that filling that (large) home with furniture is an endless endeavor (re-decorating is a recurring event). And it will all happen on the weekend, when you’d rather be fishing/recreating (refreshing for Monday!)

      And so it goes. (Buy a simple condo in a good location and live life largely outdoors.)

      1. Jim Haygood

        Since 1890, Robert Shiller’s long-term U.S. house price index has appreciated in real terms by 0.33% annually … which might not even be significantly different than zero.

        By contrast, the S&P stock index has produced real capital appreciation of 2.2% annually since 1890, and real total return (including dividends) of 6.4% annually.

        Investing in the non-market journalism of the NYT is another excellent way to lose money, as demonstrated by its sagging stock chart:

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe we will soon hit that S&P target, pause, thus, allowing housing to catch up????

        2. Vatch

          Okay, there’s probably something I don’t understand, but how can the S&P stock index have increased since 1890? The first Standard and Poor’s index was created in 1923, and the S&P 500 index dates to 1957. See:

          Did someone actually go to the trouble of checking the prices of all the stocks in the index back to 1890? What about companies that didn’t exist back then?

    2. buffalo cyclist

      NYT Editorials are really becoming garbage. Equities have a much higher rate of return than housing. Also, the tax advantages of IRAs are much stronger than the mortgage interest deduction.

      Some people only want/need small housing units, which are effectively unavailable in many communities because of zoning regs and contractor preferences. Meaning that if someone who wants a small house buys a larger house, they are wasting a lot of money for the rest of the life.

      Home ownership ties one to a specific community, regardless of changed economic circumstances that might otherwise warrant a move.

  4. Jim Haygood

    From our ‘silence is golden’ department:

    Breaking its own regulations, the Venezuelan central bank has stopped publishing the official inflation rate, which stood at 63.4 per cent at the end of August.

    According to the former research chief at the central bank, Jose Guerra, directors there are considering a plan to stop publishing inflation data altogether and only release it on request after vetting petitioners’ applications.


    May I please have a heaping helping of inflation, kind sirs?

    * bangs spoon on tin gruel bowl *

    1. Oregoncharles

      Considering the demand for inflation in, say, Europe, they’re missing a bet. They should be exporting that stuff – bet they could get a very good price for it.

  5. TheraP

    If only the Financiers could learn from HIV. Viruses are smart. They want to survive. If a human host is dead, the has virus effectively committed suicide. So evolution provides way to adapt. Live and let live…

    If the rich and powerful were like HIV, we’ get income redistribution and sane environmental policies and police departments would recruit social workers, and we’d have single payer healthcare, etc. etc.

    But humanity seems to lack evolutionary principles when it comes to greed. I wonder if this is our Achilles heel as a species.

    I can imagine a future – not too distant. The rich with all their money squirreled away. Slowly dying because the poor live too far away, in abject conditions, so no one comes to care for the rich any longer. As the world warms and warms and the soil, air and water can no longer support life. The rich May last longer than the poor. But it won’t be pretty.

    HIV: A lesson for the rich and powerful, the deceitful and greedy. When will they ever learn….

    1. Ulysses

      Fantastic comment! Reminds me of another great recent comment by Jesse over at his Café Americain:

      “One can appeal to reason and justice, and even to the most practical exigencies of common sense and informed self interest, but it is hard to stop a group of privileged insiders who are consumed by greed, and feel arrogantly entitled to do whatever they wish, whenever they wish, to whomever they wish, and become inordinately wealthy by doing so.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Nice comment with the analogy to the 0.01%.

      The other question I have is, why don’t all ‘lethal’ viruses (lethal to the human hosts, that is) adopt that evolutionary strategy?

      Why did the HIV virus take this ‘peace-gesture?’ This ‘coexistence’ way of life?

      How do we communicate this message to the Ebola virus, even as we try to ‘bomb’ each other to smithereens, to even before the Stone Age, back all the way to the Primordial Soup Age?

      1. bruno marr

        …now, you know that evolution is NOT directed. The coal field moth didn’t turn from white to black because it thought that would be a good thing to do. It did so by a random recombination of factors. A virus begets a legacy in a similar random fashion.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Bruno, you’re right.

          I should have said, why did the environment favor coexisting HIV in this case and not other viruses? Can we expect future random combinations to occur elsewhere?

          1. vidimi

            actually, i remember an article in which doctors warned that ebola was in the process of evolving a longer incubation period, because it was killing its hosts too quickly and not giving itself enough time to propagate. so ebola, too, is mutating in such a way that, if not being less deadly outright, it becomes deadly later. it does so because strains that are latent longer get to spread more and, hence, end up dominating the other variants. nature is similarly favouring the HIV.

      2. TheraP

        Actually, all viruses do tend toward less lethality. It may take awhile because unfortunately the virus needs “opportunity” to mutate. So, for example, Ebola while deadly, has sickened far fewer people than HIV and while there is evidence it is mutating, it hasn’t yet found a way to live with its host, rather than kill its host. Also, given African burial practices, Ebola currently makes use do dead bodies which are washed and touched by mourners.

        So the principle of mutation lies within every virus. And it’s “peace gesture” (what a wonderful term!) is actually a survival mechanism.

        Zero sum is apparently bad for survival. So the “American Way” – as the “wicked” are warned in Psalm 1 – is the “way of doom.” But the way of the virus is ultimately “peaceful coexistence.”

    3. vidimi

      many philosophers and scientists have made the claim that intelligent life would be quickerto make itself extinct than more basic organisms. our ability to adapt cannot keep pace with our ability to engineer new problems.

      1. Banger

        We are well equipped to handle change and engineer solutions rather than problems. The solution to our destructive tendency is to stop being in denial. If you refuse to accept what is actually going on because you’re attached to an out-dated and impossible view of life that can never be then you can’t solve any problem in front of you–you’ve cut off your hands and can do nothing. That is our main problem in today’s world.

        1. Massinissa

          Havnt you read the Archdruid? We are entering the inevitable cycle of civilisational collapse.

          Fighting collapse is like fighting an aging body. Denile is a symptom of civilisational collapse, not a cause. Sort of like how denial is a symptom of grief, and one of its stages.

          Remember, Denial is the first stage of grief. We know intuitively our civilization is collapsing, we just arnt admitting it yet.

    4. curlydan

      I think the rich and powerful could be like viruses in terms of evolving, but the evolution takes a _long_ time and has to be prompted from some pain. For most of the rich, that pain hasn’t been felt. But lately, GM apparently prefers to shift more production to Canada to take advantage of their single payer healthcare. To me, that’s a decent sign of evolution. If only more companies and their wealthy owners were at that level of pain…

  6. nobody

    Regarding “improved officer training,” I saved some comments by a former cop on a mutual facebook friend’s page in response to a post on the shooting of Kajieme Powell:

    “They were trained to do that. All cops are trained the same. I know what I’m talking about… The FBI train cops too. The initial training a cop gets at the academy is usually correct. But when they hit the street they are retrained by the murdering cops. All cop shops have an official annual retraining but it is seen as a joke within the department. They go to their phase 2 training thinking they know everything already. Then it’s back to work. All cops keep secrets or they will lose their job… And I do know what I’m talking about because unfortunately I used to be a cop. I was trained just like all the rest. And I did the right thing. I quit.”

  7. diptherio

    Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Marion Barry:

    Marion Barry: DC’s Co-op Mayor

    Early into his term, Barry established an “Energy Office” whose job was to help residents set up energy cooperatives, especially around heating oil, according to Johanna Bockman, cooperative scholar at George Mason University. The Energy Office also supported food cooperatives around urban gardening.

    A year later, on June 13, 1980 Barry issued a Mayor’s Order establishing a Commission for Cooperative Economic Development. The Co-op Commission’s first head, a national advocate for cooperatives by the name of Cornelius “Cornbread” Givens, said the group was “the very first commission of this kind anywhere in the nation.”

    According to Johanna Bockman’s history of the DC cooperative movement, Givens envisioned an entire community development plan organized by a community-wide cooperative which would allow neighborhoods to integrate producer cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, credit unions, low-income housing cooperatives, a local charity funded by profits from the other cooperatives, and which would develop social action programs such as schools, hospital and child development centers.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Capital controls feared, Russia.

    At least it’s not pegging the Ruble to the Dollar.

    Pegging is begging to be a monetary colony. You have been conquered.

    After pegging,

    A) you can’t expect to print your money at will to buy all the dollars you desire (No. You have to earn them).

    B) But the Dollar sovereign can print as much as she desires to buy your currency (and let your worry about pegging – you’re the one doing the pegging) and your country.

    1. optimader

      “Pegging is begging to be a monetary colony. You have been conquered”
      If you look up pegging in the Urban Dictionary, yeah that’s about right.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The risk of Big Government is the existence of that Revolving Door to Big Money.

      And we the Little People are paying a Big Price.

  9. Vatch

    “Russia Scraps South Stream Gas Pipeline as Putin Slams EU Moscow Times (furzy mouse)” points to a New Yorker article about Obamacare. I know; Indra’s Net, everything is connected, holograms, etc., but isn’t this a little extreme?

  10. Oregoncharles

    “The Real Threat to Obamacare” –
    A classic example of market failure – which is characteristic of medical care in general, for a variety of reasons (which I hope are pretty obvious).

    IOW, “markets” just don’t work, and CAN’T work, when it comes to medical care.

Comments are closed.