Links 12/7/14

Pearl Harbor Day anniversary…

US chimpanzee Tommy ‘has no human rights’ – court BBC (furzy mouse)

Only developed societies prefer highly masculine men and feminine women Brunel University London (martha r). Wow, they ignored highly sexualized marketing as a possible culprit.

Top 10 Crazy Christmas Trees Made from Bottles, Bikes, Shopping Carts and More! Inhabitat (furzy mouse)

Fall snow cover in Northern Hemisphere was most extensive on record, even with temperatures at high mark Washington Post (martha r)

Why Are 100,000 People On A Waiting List To Buy Duck Boots From L.L. Bean? Consumerist. Personally, I prefer Swat Boots. Great in the snow and surprisingly comfortable. But L.L. Bean hunting and fishing gear has been a staple in my family long before the yuppies discovered it.

Uber Confirms It Is Assisting Police In India Following An Alleged Rape TechCrunch

Governments Shouldn’t Auction More 4G Spectrum SaaS in the Enterprise

Wasting away again in our Dementiavilles Kronstantinople (Sylvia)

Sierra Leone to jail ‘entire families’ in Ebola crackdown African Spotlight (martha r)

Phasing out safe economic bets is no easy task for Beijing South China Morning Post

China’s corn import curbs ‘may be just the start‘ Agrimoney

Europeans can’t swallow U.S. pact ‘Frankenfood‘ UPI (martha r). TTIP pushback.

Life expectancy in Spain is highest in EU and fourth-highest in the world News GNOM

Opinion: We need fraternité against the cancer of French anti-Semitism DW

Danish People’s Party support hits historic high The Local

Toxic Pool Creeping Over India Kills Thousands of Kids Day by Day Bloomberg


Putin ‘has hope’ for Ukraine truce BBC

Troubled ruble hits former Soviet states Taipei Times

Japan, Russia to hold high-level talks aimed at Putin visit Japan Times


Barking Dog Foils Rescue as Hostages Killed by al-Qaeda Bloomberg

‘Morale poor’ among UK crews at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus BBC (martha r)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Forgetting the Lesson of Cypherpunk History: Cryptography Is Underhanded TruthOut

Judge: Give NSA unlimited access to digital data PCWorld. OMG, you have to read this. Richard Posner sides with the Stasi.

Little Change in Public Satisfaction with their Personal Healthcare Costs Jon Walker, Firedoglake. Um, notice the change is going in the wrong direction.

Energy Firms in Secret Alliances With G.O.P. State Officials New York Times

Dems’ final insult: Landrieu crushed Politico

Mary Landrieu lies about single payer on her way out the door, so good riddance Corrente

Antonio Weiss Is Not Qualified To Be Under Secretary For Domestic Finance Simon Johnson

Looking for the Effects of the Black Friday Boycott New York Times

In Light of Eric Garner Ian Welsh

There simply are No “Good” Cops Anymore Daily Kos (chinabeach)

Political Polarization as a Social Movement Outcome: 1960s Klan Activism and Its Enduring Impact on Political Realignment in Southern Counties, 1960 to 2000 Justin Farrell (martha r)

Economics for Economic Reporters Lesson 34,721: Monthly Wage Data Are Erratic CEPR

Class Warfare

Linda Tirado on the realities of living in bootstrap America: daily annoyances for most people are catastrophic for poor people Slate. A must read. If you read A Man in Full, a character winds up in prison because money and time mishaps cascaded over a day. And it was only a few dollars at issue. So Tom Wolfe recognized this issue decades ago. As more people become downwardly mobile, it’s starting to impinge on mainstream consciousness.

Poor behaviour Economist. Contrast with the piece above. Attempting to be sympathetic, but still plenty patronizing. Cathy O’Neil has a much better take, that the poor are rational, but pampered middle class people have no clue as to what their lives are like.

As college costs rise, more food pantries sprout on campus Kentucky (furzy mouse)

The Worst Industrial Disaster in the History of the World Baffler (martha r). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour. Timotheus: “Stanley has a sharp fashion sense and prefers a dark background that favors his coloring.”

Stanley links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. David Lentini

    Posner, the NSA: Neocon Stasi Apologist

    The Posner article just illustrates again how Posner is the Milton Friedman of the Economics half of Chicago’s (in)famous Law and Economics Movement, which can be traced back to the law school’s reactionary attitude towards the New Deal in the ’30s. The whole point of the movement has been to subordinate the law to economics, i.e., power, with an eye towards undoing the New Deal and returning to the GIlded Age.

    Posner’s opinions (both legal and otherwise) nearly always jiggered to equate justice with the protection of the powerful (think Trasymachus in Book I of Plato’s Republic). Usually he makes bald statements of “truth” that serve as the axiomos the logic that folllows to his desired conclusions in the service of the powerful.

    A rare showing of just Posner is a whore for power, following the crash he started to revisit and even recan some of his Law and Economics views. (Perhaps he thought real just was just around the corner and thought he had to get started on his Nuremburg defense.) But the piced linked here shows that he’s betting on the security state now.

    1. wbgonne

      When I began law scool in the mid-80s there was a section in torts on Posner and the Chicago School. It seemed to me like a weird appendage to the course. Little did I know that the finanicialization-of-everything, including tort law, was the new American paradigm and this was a harbinger.

    2. diptherio

      Judge: Give NSA unlimited access to digital data, not only shows how out of touch Posner is with the rest of society, he seems more than just a little disingenuous when he says:

      “I’m shocked at the thought that a company would be permitted to manufacture an electronic product that the government would not be able to search,”

      And here I thought the argument was over whether they should be required to obtain a warrant in order to conduct a search…silly me.

      And would creating a device that the government absolutely would not be able to search even be feasible? Seems like some kind of cypherpunk holy-grail…

      The real story here is why the heck anyone would trust Google and Apple to secure their customer’s data from extra-constituional search? Weren’t they both in the Snowden slides?

      1. lightningclap

        The tech companies ARE part of the MIC, they just cloak themselves with hip branding and infantile-sounding names. Who wouldn’t trust a company who’s name sounds like a toddler babbling?

    3. Vatch

      From the article on Posner:

      “I think privacy is actually overvalued,” Judge Richard Posner, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, said during a conference about privacy and cybercrime in Washington, D.C., Thursday.

      “Much of what passes for the name of privacy is really just trying to conceal the disreputable parts of your conduct,” Posner added. “Privacy is mainly about trying to improve your social and business opportunities by concealing the sorts of bad activities that would cause other people not to want to deal with you.”

      It’s as if Posner is completely unaware of the history of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or Communist China. There was nothing disreputable about many of the private activities that those regimes were interested in. In fact, it’s often the most highly virtuous and heroic private activities that oppressive governments care about finding. People are punished for being good.

      Yves, thank you for making explicit Posner’s similarity to the Stasi.

      1. trish

        also what is striking to me is that the entirety of his reasoning is essentially because me. The egocentrism of an eight year old! Like his frontal lobe development stalled somewhere around that age. He can’t look beyond himself.
        Privacy is not that big a deal to me, so thus…
        they’d just find a picture of my cat, so thus…
        The world is scary to me, so thus…
        And this in a man in that kind of position. Stunning.

    4. Roger Bigod

      Mentions of Judge Posner always remind me of his um thoughts on Bush v. Gore. It was morbidly interesting to watch him drop the facade of careful quantitative logic and argue from raw power. This is even more boot-on-face.

      I’ve written a few comments to NYT items in which I pointed out that Milton Friedman’s legacy includes the image of a pile of bodies in a soccer stadium. For some reason they weren’t published.

      I read Calabresi’s Cost of Accidents and it appeared to be neutral regarding income redistribution. So law-and-economics analysis doesn’t have to be a stalking horse for RW craziness.

    5. DJG

      Ahh, yes, Friedman / Becker and Posner / Becker. Not to be too charitable about it, a trinity of knuckleheads who have done real damage to the University of Chicago, let alone to academic discourse and to the economy that real people have to live in.

  2. Carolinian

    This Times story seems worthy of NC’s attention. There’s a Timken bearing plant in nearby Gaffney (home of the giant metal peach not to mention Andie MacDowell as a tyke).

    The story is about the conflict between “activist investors” who want short term gains versus old time long term investment–in other words a parable of our industrial decline.

    For Tim Timken, making things still matters. In business school at the University of Virginia in the early 1990s, one of his professors suggested that manufacturing wasn’t really relevant to the American economy anymore, that banking and health care would be the future. It was a defining moment for Mr. Timken.

    “The professor said we’d all be bankers and consultants and lawyers and health care professionals,” Mr. Timken recalled. “There’s a role for those people, but the ripple effect of manufacturing is dramatically higher than the ripple effect of banking. It creates wealth. And countries that have let it slip away have suffered.”

    “It’s been 115 years and we’re still here,” he added of the family business. “We never went bankrupt, never sold out and I feel a personal obligation to continue it.”


    “In the microcosm of Timken, you can see the larger forces playing out in manufacturing in America,” said Ms. Berger, who studied the company for a 2013 book she wrote, “Making in America.” “It’s not classic greed, like ‘Barbarians at the Gate.’ But we’ve set up financial markets in a way that’s injurious to long-term investment and industrial companies.”

    “We’ve got a financial system in the U.S.,” she said, “where California teachers have to protect their pension funds by hurting manufacturing in Ohio.”

    1. wbgonne

      In a more mundane example, in response to investor demands JetBlue just shortened its seats and eliminated its one-free-bag policy.

    2. Optimader

      Timken is(was) one of the greatest heavy industry/manufacturing/technology companies of the US. Much was leveraged off of them , now your average american doesnt even have a clue what Timken represents. Canary in the coalmine for US industrial infrastructure

      1. James

        Worked a few years in the trucking maintenance business as a – wait for it – actual maintainer. Timken was and is a mainstay in the precision bearing (the little roller thingies that allow them truck and trailer wheels to keep going round and round right next to you on the interstate highway while you’re commuting to work) business. The idea that investors – fools with money looking for return – are somehow “good for business” is the height of stupidity on the face of it. The idea that the US or any other so-called “first world” nation could fall for this shit says all you need to know about our current predicament. Fools with too much money gained by doing nothing productive in the first place, seeking more of the same for doing even less. “America the Great” has gradually become a nation of pretenders and fools, with only the pretenders even pretending to actually produce anything anymore. All while the fools among them take great comfort in their surfeit of essentially counterfeit US Federal Reserve Bucks, which, for now at least, allows them to live as kings. Alas, pieces of paper (digital ones and zeros) are in the end just that. Promises to pay which were never ultimately meant to be redeemed in the first place.

    3. Alejandro

      Underlying this madness is the belief that financial claims can “grow” infinitely against stuff that recycles finitely between natural growth and decay.

    4. Benedict@Large

      “We’ve got a financial system … where California teachers have to protect their pension funds by hurting manufacturing in Ohio.”

      This is a pretty amazing statement, because within it lies almost all of our problems, from the macro of how and why we create money, to the micro of how grandma decides whether to feed the cat or herself.

    5. Mel

      This was covered in NC a while ago, probably findable in archives. Important story on all levels, and worth reading — again if you’ve read it already. Money people reorganize a working business so that it matches the columns on their spreadsheets. These people were not trained in physical reality.

      1. optimader

        yes it was, and I think I made the same comment..
        You are absolutely correct in your observation. Timken is an example of an industrial company that grew rationally only to be exposed to financial people that don’t understand the long play. Parasites.

  3. rjs

    glad to see your link to Kronstantinople; i’ve been following sylvia for about a year and watched as she has produced some of the most stuning posts on the web…the backstory to the one you’ve included above was posted at the economic populist and starts this way: Darkness at Sunrise: A multinational corporation warehouses dementia patients for $74,000 a year – When you step off the elevator onto the fourth floor of Sunrise Senior Living, and you enter the secure “Reminiscence” ward — where dementia patients are housed — you might well become overwhelmed with a sense of dread. The first thing you see is a large, semi-dark room – known as “the TV room” — in which about 25 women sit virtually all day in theater-style rows, with their eyes closed and their heads either hanging down or thrown back. A couple of them gaze vacantly into the distance. There are no interactions between them, and the seating arrangement certainly isn’t conducive, even to eye contact. Is this what the website meant by “individually tailored care”? No one is watching “Let’s Make a Deal.” They ignored “The Price is Right” as well. It would be too bad if they were interested: The sound is turned off. These women look gray and dead. They seem unreal, as if they were in Madame Tussauds’ rendition of Zombieville. I am sick with grief and guilt as I confront the fact that my mother is moving into this $74,000 a year institution tomorrow.

    1. GuyFawkesLives

      I was delighted and saddened by the article.

      My Mom has dementia. And it is quite hard to watch how the decline happens. However, when you try to connect, think of things that will stimulate your Mom’s brain. I remembered that my Mom used to read us the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” books and those books have become our daily routine again. When I visit, I read her a couple chapters of these books. The books inspire conversations about my Mom’s youth growing up on a farm in South Dakota.

      You can find things that will connect, you just need to think about what will connect with your own parent. The staff at my Mom’s nursing home suggest reading the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. But I have found that the Little House books connect me in a different way with my Mom. I hope you find your connection, because you can connect. You can.

      1. trinity river

        Thanks for saying this. I wish more people understood. And you can’t connect long distance.

        My mom loved to play cards. We continued even after she couldn’t talk. No matter how many hands we played she always won. And truly enjoyed herself.

        1. GuyFawkesLives

          My Mom loves playing pinochle, a game I’ve never played. Perhaps I need to take it up.
          Thanks for your suggestion.

      2. Elliott

        Dham me. I helped care for my father as he disappeared into dementia and I never thought to do this. As kids he would read to us from Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories, which surely his Nebraska-bred father read to him as a child – our favorite being the story of Pony Pony Huckabuck (we even named our dog Pony Pony, only have to call her once!). I so wish I had thought to read him those stories. I hate myself.

        You’re a good son.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Saw a documentary (I thin PBS) about assisting living…less regulated than nursing homes.

      1. sd

        If you think assisted living is unregulated try private rehab and sober living. $5,000 to $10,000 a month to share a room with little to no regulations at all – including in the kitchen – where at minimum you’d think that health inspectors might actually have a care about sanitary handling of food. Hot dog vendors have more regulations than these facilities.

  4. Vicky Else

    Not sure what to make of the sexual dimorphism study, without seeing how it was conducted. But power structures are more sexually differentiated in non-agrarian, labor-alienated societies, for example, putting a social premium on dimorphism. In other words, where women and men work at the same jobs and make similar contributions to the social weal, similar traits will be valued (strength, determination, capability). Where leisure and wealth encourage time to be spent on pleasure and power games, on the other hand, the opposite would be true.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Agreed. My family comes from Maine, which has has sustenance farming and fishing as its main activity for a long time, and resisted industrialization (literally: the Portland town fathers turned down a Ford plant). Still a lot of sustenance framing in the poor North, and even on the coast (lobstermen). You also have a richer slice on the coast, which is wealthier people who summer there, and the people who cater to them, and some year-round businesses (the universities, LL Bean, Bath Ironworks. The airbase in Brunswick was another but it was shut down).

      Maine is also old.

      Maine is full of spectacularly unfeminine women, both by nature and nurture. Lots with square faces, thick waists (not because they are fat, because this is their build), high hip girdles and flatish butts. Least use of makeup and hair color you’ll see pretty much anywhere in the US, and likely not just due to relative poverty (you see this even in the affluent coastal areas, and remember, you can get hair color at the drug store and do it yourself at home pretty inexpensively).

      Yankee women are sturdy and look, and maybe even are, pretty robust. They look like they can lift and tote and do physical labor, even if not as much as men.

      In a society without much in the way of labor-saving devices, a highly feminine women would likely be a less useful helpmate than a woman that was stronger.

      And superficial manliness isn’t necessarily a valid indicator of physical prowess. My (again Yankee) great uncle was arguably the best athlete the State of Maine every produced. He did all the throwing events, sprinting, middle distance running, hurdles, and relay races. In one track meet, he scored more points than all the other schools there combined. He won a bronze in the Helsinki Olympics for the hammer throw (long story as to how that event was gamed to put him at a disadvantage; all of his practice throws would have gotten him the gold). And he was strong all his life. He hauled lobsters without a winch well into his 80s.

      You’d never single him out as a physical specimen. Normal height and build. Not particularly “manly” looking. So I am also skeptical of the thesis that more than ordinary manliness in men is a good predictor of physical ability. Even if your are a big bruiser, you may be trading off size versus speed, and in a lot of contexts, that might not be the best tradeoff.

      1. McMike

        Trying to recall… was in a song or novel I think, of a description of a farm recollection of: sturdy women (almost dwarfing) very lean men. Point is, the lean diet and long term daily exercise of life tended to create lean sinewy men, not muscle bound oafs.


        I am sure warrior societies valued giants, but as with your athlete example, while it may help intimidate your enemies, it did not necessarily translate to skill or wisdom on the battlefield (witness: David & Goliath parable)..

        Still I have some questions about the study. Sounds like a lot of room for bias in the selection of starting points and methods of altering. And how do you control for the possible impact of subconsciously being able to detect an actual photo versus a digital alteration?

      2. OIFVet

        So much better put them my reply to Nero bellow. The nature of work one is expected to perform is a great determinant of one’s build. At least, this was the case prior to Bernays’ revolution in marketing. It is also a subtle and sometimes not so subtle indicator of one’s social and class status. In BG, the white collar “creative class” protesters of the summer of 2013 called themselves “the beautiful, smiling, moral, and able to pay their bills” in order to distinguish themselves from the protesters of Feb/Mar 2013 that toppled the government, whom “the beautiful” protesters labeled “ugly, toothless, pensioners, and poor”. The first demonstrated for “European values”, the latter because they couldn’t pay their winter electric and heating bills and buy food. It is a rather striking, if unintended, juxtaposition: European values vs. the basic necessities. So the marketing-imposed ideals of beauty have in effect become yet another front in the class war.

      3. YankeeFrank

        Absolutely true. In this era of the fascist-looking tall square-bodied male physique that apparently every actor in Hollywood must share with the models in the magazines in order to get a role in a movie, everyone looking like a superhero a la batman or superman, we don’t realize that real sportsmen don’t have bodies that look like superheroes, with massive chests and obscenely broad shoulders. Just look at baseball pitchers: mostly hips and legs those guys. Cyclists are thin and wiry. The only athletic body that looks like a superhero is the gymnast, and they tend to be quite short. Even swimmers are lanky and long though they do have the broad shoulders from all that butterfly. And forget about other olympic sports like volleyball or wrestling. Runners? Basketball players? Football players? None of them have the “sculpted” look we nowadays associate with masculinity. Its just a silly fashion that in ten years we’ll look back on as comic and stupid looking.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          One can overcome it with money.

          A lot of artificial love can be purchase with it.

          And buy a lot of artificial intelligence as well.

        2. optimader

          “Absolutely true. In this era of the fascist-looking tall square-bodied male physique that apparently every actor in Hollywood must share with the models in the magazines in order to get a role in a movie”
          That explains Danny DeVito, Michael Fox, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Robert, Downey Jason Statham, Tom Cruise…..

          What is fascist looking anyway?

          1. YankeeFrank

            Your list is telling. All the names you include of non-chiseled actors are guys that made it decades ago. As for Cruise and Statham, they prove my point. Haven’t you noticed that almost all action hero actors these days are “Bob Boxbody” types with square faces, square bodies and broad shoulders? In the past we had Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Bert Reynolds, James Woods, etc. none of whom had supremely chiseled male bodies. Sure they weren’t slouches, but nowadays it seems our action heroes need to look like male models and its not just boring but conformist in a fascistic sort of way.

        3. Yves Smith Post author

          Actually, the one sport where the athletes (male and female) fit the modern ideal of buffness is sprinting. You have to have a lot of fast-twitch muscle fiber to be genetically predisposed to perform well in that sport (which is the same type of muscle fiber used to lift weights). And they are constantly working out in the “lactic acid” work range (20 seconds to two minute work intervals), which means they generate lots of human growth hormone, which in turn leads to really low body fat.

          1. YankeeFrank

            I don’t know Yves. Yes they have low bodyfat, but they’re also generally wiry, not blocky with bulky muscles like what is perceived as “built” these days.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Go look at Usian Bolt, or any Olympic or Olympic qualifying meet. The women sprinters will be quite muscular and often have impressive shoulders. It’s the distance runners that have smaller muscles.

      4. steviefinn

        During my Father’s time in the army he had cause to deal with the SAS – he was surprised by the fact that contrary to his imagination they were not giants, but rather of stocky build at what he estimated was an average of about 5′ 6″ – 5′ 8″ – probably taller now as this was about 30 years ago.

        1. YankeeFrank

          Generally speaking, larger bodies are slower and less coordinated so its not that surprising. The 5’7″ range is around average height and makes for the perfect height/weight proportions for fast maneuvering and fighting.

        2. bob

          Pilots have always been ‘smaller’, or, as pointed out above, average.

          Size and weight are always a factor with airplanes. Every ounce or inch counts.

          But, it’s also about the possible number of the talent pool for pilot training. You want to design to the largest possible pilot size pool- Average. There are a lot more 5’7″ people than 6’4″ people.

          1. Propertius

            Shorter pilots are also less at risk for blacking out in high-G maneuvers, and of course they take up less room (allowing for smaller cockpits).

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In our ‘really developed society,’ I believe, we go for highly net-worthy men and superficial fertile-looking (but with long legs – most cats will respectively disagree – and slender waist) women.

      So, for our boys, money is power…and whoever controls money, controls the nation.

  5. Carolinian

    More good stuff from the NYT (hey, they’re not all bad).

    The residence also offered indoor and outdoor pools, commissioned artwork by the graffiti artist Retna, and an operating room in the basement. “It’s not like it’s set up to take out your gallbladder,” said Mark David, a real estate columnist for Variety, who has toured the house. “It’s for cosmetic procedures — fillers, dermabrasion, that kind of thing.” The house sold, with all its furnishings, to an unidentified Saudi buyer for $44 million.

    A relatively humble 23,000-square-foot modern spec house currently on the market in Beverly Hills’s Trousdale Estates neighborhood has an infinity pool with iPad-controlled fountains and a subterranean lounge with floor-to-ceiling candy dispensers on one wall and mounted tequila bottles and machine guns on another. The lounge opens onto a 16-vehicle garage with a Bugatti Veyron revolving on a car turntable, just like at the dealer’s. According to TMZ, Beyoncé and Jay Z looked at the property twice. The asking price is $85 million, not including the Bugatti.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Subterranean lounge…OK.

      But no nuclear fallout shelter? What would the poor homeowner do when the Russians were coming?

      That will knock at least $10 million off any offer.

      Also, are iPads waterproof for use in infinity pools?

  6. Butch In Waukegan

    Re Barking Dog Foils Rescue . . . It exposes a glitch with the vaunted WOT intelligence — the dog didn’t have a cell phone.

    At least they were able to prevent the release of the South African hostage: Moon of Alabama.

  7. OIFVet

    Re: Masculine men and feminine women. So what’s the problem with Putin’s “macho” persona that the NYT and Angela Merkel have been going on about recently? Are Germany and the US not developed societies then? I think that this is a dangerous glitch in the sexualized marketing campaign that can lead to unpredictable responses from a public confused by the mixed signals. If it is OK for W to stuff a couple of socks in his flight uniform and play a fighter jock, then why are Putin’s displays of masculinity a subject of scorn and derision?

    While I won’t suggest that what we have here is due mostly to marketing, its role is significant and damaging in many ways. Child beauty queens made up to look like adults is exploitative and demeaning. Forcing women to live up to unattainable expectations is a danger to their physical and emotional well-being. And on, and on.

    1. hunkerdown

      According to Kevin Floyd in The Reification of Desire: Toward a Queer Marxism?, gender’s basic utility is as a principle of division of labor, but when observed from a standpoint other than style (the only world bourgeois eyes can see?), gender roles have converged: in an industrialized society, taking no shit is disruptive and men and women are largely interchangeable in employment. In fact, it’s now a consumer product.

      Putin is apparently playing the populist-nationalist card, and apparently with intent to deliver. Western aristocrats are apparently flipping their shit that their own proles might dare to demand (as a group) that they be talked to as if they were actually present, adult, and created equal, essentially a repudiation of all the USA and its ancestors, all the way back to ancient Rome and Athens before that, has ever stood for.

    2. Pepsi

      It’s because every leader who isn’t a supplicant to American power is portrayed as an insane/goofy/unpredictable person.

  8. linda amick

    The man made polar vortex in November caused by manipulation of the gulf stream with attendant aerial spraying, may have fooled Americans about the dire state of the climate but around my parts it did not fool the indigenous trees. The pin oaks still have their leaves and are only now shedding.
    The only accomplishment, besides giving americans a false sense of the situation, was dead fall crops.

      1. sd

        Sorry to whine…Is it possible to move the new spell check button so it doesn’t interfere with iPad cut/paste?

  9. wbgonne

    The Obama speaks its mind on “free trade” and is promptly deconstructed, Lambert-style:

    Let’s pick apart what he’s saying here:

    The horse is out of the barn, and we already gave all those jobs away so there aren’t any more jobs to lose.
    But he also says that actually the trade agreements didn’t cost jobs.

    Trade agreements “have increased the capacity for working families to improve their economic standing” – whatever that means.

    “No doubt that some manufacturing moved offshore in the wake of China entering the WTO and as a consequence of NAFTA.” Actually several million jobs and more than 50,000 factories.

    “…more of those jobs were lost because of automation and capital investment.” I suggest visiting Shenzen to see if people are employed in manufacturing or not.

    “We have to be able to talk directly to the public about why trade is good for America, good for American businesses and good for American workers.” Good luck with that. Visit Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania — anywhere that used to do lots of manufacturing to see just how good free trade has been for them.

    “Don’t fight the last war — you already have. If somebody is wanting to outsource, if any of the companies here wanted to locate in China, you’ve already done it.” The horse is out of the barn, and he isn’t going to try to bring those jobs back.

    “If you wanted to locate in a low-wage country with low labor standards and low environmental standards, there hasn’t been that much preventing you from doing so.” You can say that again. We used to protect democracy and the prosperity it brings. But that was called “protectionism” and protecting democracy is somehow bad for us. Now we just protect the giant corporate interests. At least he’s honest about it.

    Actually, as he was supplicating before the Business Roundtable, Obama’s speech was a true peek into his neoliberal mind. And the whole thing is worth a read (note the call for privatizing infrastructure development):

    From what I’ve seen this is The Obama taking the mask down more than I’ve even seen and this is his pre-sales pitch for Fast Track (to persuade the American people who are too stupid to see how great free trade is . . . for Vietnam and China). Since Obama is sticking his nose out, perhaps someone knowledgable might take a crack at chopping it off before it grows too large.

  10. Jpalmer

    Re Chimpanzee Tommy
    Corporations are “human” (with human rights in courts) with the right to sue for free speech (and lie at will with massive advertising), with the right to avoid “unreasonable searches and seizures” (like requiring warrants to investigate companies violating the clean waters act so they can get away with polluting public waters), etc and yet living, breathing animals do not have such rights. As we all know there is no longer equal justice in this country. So I shall watch the movie “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” again. At least the apes are winning there. A country is judged by how it treats those most vulnerable or with the least among us. This country fails in all ways.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A civilized society respect human rights, ape rights, dog rights, cat sovereignty, pig rights, horse rights, etc.

      In the meantime, until their emancipation, I propose a temporary solution – allow animals to form corporations.

      1. Mel

        But would apes, dogs, cats, pigs, horses respect other peoples’ rights? Would a society run by alpha chimps count as civilized by your criterion? Look at the society we have now.

        1. sd

          Dogs are not known for respecting privacy particularly when it comes to your crotch. Cats tend to ignore boundaries ie. it’s their bed, not yours. on the plus side, they are willing to negotiate especially if food is involved.

      2. lightningclap

        “In the meantime, until their emancipation, I propose a temporary solution – allow animals to form corporations.”
        Oh, that’s just the type of comment I would expect on this blatantly pro-feline site!

  11. proximity1

    “Putin ‘has hope’ for Ukraine truce” (BBC)

    Sure. And why shouldn’t Putin state that banality as a fact of the matter? Hope is very, very, cheap, isn’t it? Just how actually “invested” in that hope is our Mr. Putin? “Lots”? An enormous amount?

    I’d read it as “Putin has simply nothing to lose in stating that he ‘has hope’ for a Ukraine truce. Western press dutifully reports this pseudo-news. ”

    Much hope? Little hope? Hardly any hope? I’m hoping for a pony for Christmas. Maybe I’ll get one, maybe I won’t. In any case, I’m betting here on there being no effective, useful, durable truce–that leaves Ukraine (as we understand that term and nation today) in any lasting position to do as it pleases, free of direct or indirect interference from Putin–or, as you may prefer, “Russia,” or “Moscow.” That’s my prognostication on the chances of the truce.

    1. OIFVet

      “Sure. And why shouldn’t Putin state that banality as a fact of the matter?” Because he shouldn’t imitate Barry Obama, or Francois Hollande (“Hollande hope Ukraine ceasefire…” blah blah). Hey, you live in France don’t you? Write Hollande a long winded diatribe about banalities stated as a matter of fact. This is a shocking, previously unknown phenomenon amongst politicians. Better stop it before it spreads further.

      “Putin has simply nothing to lose in stating that he ‘has hope’ for a Ukraine truce. Western press dutifully reports this pseudo-news. ” Almost a refreshing break from reprinting State Department missives almost word for word. Definitely a welcome respite from the fearmongering, lies, and propaganda that are the Western press’ daily fare.

      “I’m betting here on there being no effective, useful, durable truce–that leaves Ukraine…in any lasting position to do as it pleases, free of direct or indirect interference from Putin–or, as you may prefer, “Russia,” or “Moscow.”” Ukraine free of direct or indirect Russian meddling is a Ukraine free to be meddled with by the US Empire. Quite the improvement, oui? Freedom and democracy will reign supreme, Hunter Biden will get his bonus, rapacious freedom corporate buccaneers will be free to enter, cheap Ukrainian labor will be free to exit to the EU to do their part in driving down wages, and Proxy (for whom if I may be so bold as to ask?) will get his sparkle pony (that all you asked for!? Sucker). Hallelujah! Too bad not a thing will change for the regular Ukrainians, but look-Freedom!!!

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Ukraine has long been deeply integrated into the Russian economy,and that’s before you get to its dependence on Russian energy. There is no long-term path for Ukraine that does not involve Russia in a big way, unless it is carried economically by the West, and the EU and IMF have made clear that that is not happening.

      And Russia has legitimate security interests in not having a government overtly hostile to it on its borders. Do you imagine for a nanosecond that the US would sit pat if the government in Quebec was taken over by a party with a strong anti-American wing, installed some of its most radical members in key government positions, had clear and strong ties to the Chinese and was getting funding from them and the Chinese were expected over time to move their military equipment and personnel in, and announced a plan for the confiscation of property and forced resettlement of Americans living in Quebec?

      And you also airbrush out of the picture that the US started this fight by destabilizing Ukraine and promoting anti-Russian faction, with the intent of moving in NATO. Putin was fine with status quo ante, but we were the ones that upset that apple cart. As Kissinger pointed out, “For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.” In context, he means for our refusal to allow or force the two domestic factions to work together, rather than backing the anti-Russian faction. You read that article and as I discussed earlier, you also went to some length to misrepresent it and then shifted ground when I pointed that out.

      1. dearieme

        Foreign policy was indeed infinitely more intelligent under Nixon, Reagan and Bush the Elder, than under Slick Willie, W and O.

        1. Jef

          “Foreign policy was indeed infinitely more intelligent under Nixon, Reagan and Bush the Elder, than under Slick Willie, W and O.”

          Yes and it had absolutely NOTHING to do with any of these individuals nor even their parties so either name names or refrain from comment.

          1. hunkerdown

            Like many Americans, you appear to not believe in the fourth dimension of spacetime. With all due respect, may I ask that you refrain from comment in matters to which you are blind?

      2. Banger

        Amen. And some people want an enemy now that the terrorist “threat” seems kind of silly. Having said that the “threat” from Russia is very useful in domestic politics and to enable a number of people to buy better boats and so on. The fact that Russia is a serious foe which the U.S., used to only being able to fight using overwhelming force, is not a real target since it has a sufficient nuclear deterence and a non-trivial standing army. Just as an aside, a very serious martial artist friend went to Russia some years back he was astonished at how advanced and excellent the training was. He showed me techniques they used techniques based on Asian martial arts but, in my view and his, upgraded–they’ve spent a lot of time and money refining not just hand-to-hand stuff but weapons training as well. No one is going to war with those guys.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Isn’t that the same army that couldn’t reconquer a village in its own country, and from which the “terrorists” escaped intact? Yes, they reconquered Chechnya, at huge expense and essentially by leveling the place.
          Granted, that was a long time ago now. Maybe they’ve done a good job of reform. that would be tough for their subject nations, to say nothing of Ukraine, now that battle is joined.
          I’m not excusing US trouble-making, just questioning the condition of the Russian army.

    3. BIllC

      Some of us are old enough to remember what we learned in school about the Monroe Doctrine … as applied in the Cuban missile crisis. I was a kid growing up on a SE US military base. When Washington saw the prospect of missiles 90 miles from Key West, they chose to risk war rather than allow it (hostility/paranoia to the point that we had MPs inspecting our school bus every day when we came through the main gate returning from school; meanwhile our daddies were preparing for Total Nuclear War). The only thing that surprises me about Putin’s reaction in Ukraine is that he didn’t send in the tanks the moment Victoria Newland started recruiting acolytes among the local wannabe Sturmtruppen.

      1. Vatch

        One significant difference between the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and the 2014 Ukraine Crisis: in 1962, the missiles were already in place, but in 2014, there are no missiles in Ukraine.

        In both cases, the United States and the Soviet Union (or Russia) were or are considered to be the major players, and we seem to forget that these events were or are taking place in Cuba or Ukraine.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In moderation and voluntary, it’s said to be good.

        Involuntary and only reserved for the non-elites, very bad.

        1. steviefinn

          Yes it’s the basis for ‘ Intermittent Fasting ‘ which has been good for me. The issue reminds me of how in the 18th century in England one flaunted sign of being successful & wealthy was to be fat – It can be seen in the portraiture of the time & the fashion for bountiful ladies as was probably best expressed by Rubens.
          On the other side of the coin, unlike Downton Abbey the servant class were smaller in stature & probably malnourished – A good illustration of this is the small hidden doors in the corners of the dining rooms that are seen in National trust aristocratic piles in the British isles. I think I’m right in saying that this is where the phrase ‘ To look down on ‘ comes from – thank goodness for gout.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When you have the global reserve currency, you have to use it and spread it around a little.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Basic Citizen Income is a special case of a more general theory relating to money creation.

  12. MartyH

    Interesting calculus in the China GMO corn article. Corn grown from expensive (proprietary, licensed) seed that has to be shipped across a continent and an ocean is “cheaper” than local corn grown from heirloom (free) stock? No gummint subsidies here!? (LOL) Free (rigged) trade at work.

    Not that I would expect that level of introspection from Agrimoney.

  13. Working Class Nero

    Re Sexual Dimorphism

    Among the various societies in the world, now and in the past, there is a continuum of how marriage partners are selected that range from forced marriages (no spousal imput in the choice), arranged (minor spousal imput), and autonomous (total spousal decision). Arranged marriages can be further broken down into exogamous (with outsiders to for example build alliances), endogamous (among partners of the same ethnic and social class), and consanguineous marriage which is between first cousins and is an extreme form of endogamous marriage.

    And so one fairly obvious hypothesis would be that sexual dimorphism (at least the type discussed in the article) increases with the amount of input the spousal partners have in the mating decision. Whereas parents or village elders might favor social economic compatibility in making their choices, potential spouses might favor sexual attraction in choosing their partners.

    Another variable could be the amount of male parental investment over time. If a male is planning to stick around for the long term then the aesthetic choice of his bride becomes more important than it is for a pump and dump type of dad. This is intensified if there is both a relative shortage of men and pressure to form monogamous couples. In that case it is a man’s world in that while woman may still control access to sex, the men decide which women become brides.

    There is speculation that, for example, in Europe there has been for a long time relatively autonomous marriage selection and relatively large amounts of male parental investment. Peter Frost studies these things and he speculates male domination of the marriage market explains the great diversity in European hair and eye color in contrast to the rest of the world where there is very little diversity in hair and eye color.

    1. OIFVet

      Then there are the changing economies. Just to give you an example, when BG was mostly an agricultural country of small farmers with little mechanization, males had a preference for well-built women who could withstand the vigors of hard farm work and bear many children. The most famous satirical work of the late-19th century played on that by placing a rude and crude BG rose oil farmer in the middle of Vienna’s high society, whose women he deemed unfit for marriage (too skinny) but fit for extramarital…activities. Now that BG has a service economy, the US Barbie ideal is more desirable. Just saying.

        1. OIFVet

          Indeed. The marriages in BG were not arranged either, though the family elders had reserved the right to veto the choice of the young if the other family or their offspring were deemed to be of questionable morals or work ethic. It was all about finding a spouse which would be a good partner at work and in life. Sturdy women were simply better suited for hard farm work than thin women, and given the prevalence of tuberculosis at the time, were also thought to be far healthier.

      1. I.G.I.

        the US Barbie ideal is more desirable

        I doubt that’s a matter of “desirability”; more likely a wholesale cultural import and domination that annihilated the preceding female emancipation.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s the Imperial Matron Ideal.

          Most barbarians thought a Roman wife or (a native imitation) would really cement the local’s authority and enhance his reputation.

        2. OIFVet

          Oh I agree, I meant to say that the Barbie ideal has supplanted the previous ideal, particularly with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the wholesale entry of western media and culture. During communist times, women would work the same kinds of jobs as men and were far stockier than the new generations that followed. The physical appearances of these hard-working women also caused some members of the “communist” intelligentsia to disdainfully sniff about “manly women”. Georgi Markov of the Bulgarian Umbrella fame comes to mind as one of them. In his memoirs, he describes a scene at a factory where he had been an engineer, of sturdy women beating up on a thin, “Barbie” type for sleeping with their husbands, while their “emasculated” husbands had been forced to watch the punishment under duress. Markov held this as an example of how communism stifled personal freedom and empowered brutes (the “masculine” women) over the weak promiscuous Barbie. I read his work in my early teens and the impact of this story did not register until I grew older and came to understand gender issues far better. I now find it outrageous that a dissident for “freedom” would cast aspersions on women based on their looks, particularly when they had been the wronged party to begin with.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Of course, those jokes about hairy East German athletes that we all told back then.

            Little did we know of the important part they played in defeating communism…by enticing them with our Barbie women, Sassoon hair cut and Rock and Roll.

            1. OIFVet

              Goes to show how superficial men are, particularly with part of our blood flow diverted … elsewhere. There is hope that Eastern Europe can beat the US at its own game though. Just think how many Barbies Ukraine produces. I tell you, when Eastern Europeans decide to adopt imported fads they never go half-way. Brabies, neoliberalism, take your pick.

  14. Swedish Lex

    Regarding the reference to A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe.

    The novel centers on a real estate crisis in Atlanta, turning billionaires into billionaires-in-debt. A few real names, former real estate tycoons, are cited in the novel, including Swedes (yes, some Swedes invested heavily in Atlanta at the time with loans from stupid Swedish banks). I met a couple of them right after their Swedish and international investments blew up. Spending time with people who previously had been considered immortal but who now were so deep in debt and legal problems that there was no end in sight transformed me (I was young, then) and my attitude towards success and the worship of fame and fortune.

    They all seemed to have believed that Icarus’ story applied to everyone else. They were different. They were men in full.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      BTW the main characters in the book are all closely modeled on real people. For instance, the main Atlanta mogul is based on a Birmingham, Alabama developer, H.E. Drummond, and the black Atlanta mayor, on Andrew Young.

  15. Jim Haygood

    ‘With nearly all the ballots counted, Cassidy led Landrieu by 14 points, 57 percent to 43 percent.’

    This is a preview of 2016 returns for ‘Her Turn Hillary,’ who campaigned for Landrieu. Americans just don’t want another four years of an Ivy-league-educated lawyer from Chicago with a lifelong interest in community organizing and health care ‘reform.’ We’ve been here, done that, got ourselves fed up, ain’t gonna take it no more.

    And all the Clintons’ billions can’t change it.

    1. Jim Haygood

      A second cautionary tale for the Clintons from Louisiana:

      ‘In the race for Cassidy’s House seat, Republican Garret Graves beat former Democratic Gov. Edwin Edwards, the colorful, 87-year-old seeking political redemption after felony convictions for corruption.’

      Like Hillary did for Marc Rich’s pardon, Edwards accepted brown paper bags full of cash for political favors. The difference was that he actually got prosecuted and imprisoned for it.

      Edwards shares the Clintons’ mentality of life as a permanent campaign. He’ll be back!

    2. wbgonne

      See also Martha Coakley, Alison Grimes, Michelle Nunn, Kay Hagan, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich. What American voters really don’t want is more neoliberal GOP-lite candidates from the Democrats. But that’s what HerTurn is going to offer. OTOH, The Obama has been the best GOP president since forever — better than Reagan — and I’m sure the Business Roundtable is salivating at another 8 years of Democrat-imposed corporatism. So what will the GOP offer? Another sacrificial lamb to ensure Hillary’s ascension? Remember, it’s either HerTurn or the GOP mega-loon . . . because LOTE/TINA.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘What American voters really don’t want is more neoliberal GOP-lite candidates from the Democrats.’

        What Americans want is DRAMA. In the faux-country themed Stand With HiIlary video, there’s an image of ‘2016’ scrawled on a window with lipstick.

        Any on-the-ball editor would’ve added another word to complete the obvious cinematic allusion: REDRUM.

        1. wbgonne

          What Americans want is DRAMA.

          Well, that’s what we get, whether we want it or not. Why? Because the neoliberal paradigm subsumes both parties so we can’t get a non-neoliberal candidate to vote for from the duopoly. Drama — or shall we say, circuses (rodeos?) — is the substitute for policy choices. So my point stands: what the American people want is a party and a viable candidate who is not going to continue fucking us over on behalf of rich psychopaths. But as we aren’t going to get that, so your point stands as well: drama it is. Unleash the rodeo clowns!

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          You can’t blame American consumers with the insipid programming you see on TV these days.

          If circuses are being provided in the political arena, why not?

        3. hunkerdown

          What Americans want is DRAMA.


          And I want more bread, less circus. I’m proud to not be an American — I just work here because there’s little else to do.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      As the Godfather said, ‘You don’t reform me. I reform you!.’

      An economic stimulating project idea: building more politician reform schools. I think Mao might have come up with that idea or maybe it was Stalin…for their ‘invited’ (consider yourselves lucky) students, of course.

      1. hunkerdown

        I suspect that effective ones would be modeled on the teen boot camps so popular among the authoritarian set more so than the Internats.

    4. Luke The Debtor

      It’d be nice, despite winning the past two presidential elections, for the Democratic party to show some backbone and to counter the stereotypical Republican image. They stumble and bumble upon good things for the wrong reasons. One case in point is the XL-Pipeline. Instead of taking up opposition against the pipeline in order to protect American jobs in the shale boom, they use trite arguments like global warming or environmentalism.

      There have been more environmental disasters and human deaths due to transporting Canadian oil by rail than there would ever happen with the XL-Pipeline. Also, weak arguments include the number of “permanent” American jobs – usually cited as 30-40. Do they honestly think it will take 40 people to supply diluent (Bakken oil) and refine it for shipping while maintaining the integrity of the pipeline?

      What would be really nice to see from the Democratic party is to introduce legislation to overturn the Jones Act and allow American companies to export oil. Or to levy import tariffs on countries with poor human-rights records like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela. But, Republicans clearly do not want this. They want the cheapest oil money can get and the Democrats just can’t do anything about it.

      1. wbgonne

        trite arguments like global warming

        Yes, more carbon fuel is the answer because Al Gore is fat. Oh, and the shale “boom”? It’s going boom alright, but not before ruining our water and destroying our international credibility on AGW. Sorry about those lost fracking jobs but maybe those guys could become crack dealers instead. They’d still make good money and they’d do a lot less harm.


      2. OIFVet

        What an uninformed position. The fact is, the environmental damage caused by the transportation of Alberta oil sands production pails in comparison to the environmental damage caused by the extraction itself. It destroys the landscape and uses A LOT more carbon-based energy than the traditional extraction methods. Throw in the impact of all that oil being burned and the Alberta oil sands production is a huge environmental disaster. To whine about the perceived damage from the blocking of the XL pipeline is to miss the point, and places the blame on the same people who are trying to prevent this disaster in the first place.

        1. Luke The Debtor

          What a contradictory argument for an American to use considering the amount of stripping mining in the coal industry – which is much greater than what is being done in Alberta. Notice how most arguments and money against oil and gas drilling come from the US northeast – a region of the country unequipped with the means to burn natural gas. What a half-hearted effort.

          1. inode_buddha

            WTF do you mean about the northeast not being equipped to burn natgas? It’s the preferred medium nowdays, previously it was heating oil. For 8 months out of every year, there’s this thing called “winter”. I know for sure that National Fuel dominates NY state, can’t speak for other areas. My heat bill last Feb. was higher than the rent!

      3. hunkerdown

        How many of these oil train “accidents” happened because trains were left short-handed, unattended or in poor order? How many of these oil train “accidents” happened before KXL protesters showed a willingness to put their bodies on the line, compared to after? And, since it *is* Pearl Harbor Day, how much does a staged accident cost, including fines, penalties and insurance payouts, as a percentage of how much money KXL supporters stand to gain from its completion?

    5. alex morfesis

      life long interest in community organizing….???? this is why and how great societies fail…it’s one thing to deal with the victors writing the history books and needing to try to decipher what really happened a few centuries back…but how does being a goldwater girl make her a community activist…she was raised a republican…she went democrat cause it was convenient…and before you go off and say…but what about eugene…

      Even so, she also worked as a Washington, D.C., intern for Gerald Ford, who was then the Republican leader of the House, and she attended the 1968 Republican convention to work for New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s unsuccessful effort to get the GOP presidential nomination (from her own admissions in her book it seems…)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It might be the Night of Infamy, as someone slept on his watch. Radio Tokyo was broadcasting ‘East Wind Rain,’ to all her embassies.

      The Chinese KMT secret service chief, Dai, was said to have cracked the code and passed that information to the Americans. He was later recruited and helped in the victory at Midway.

  16. EmilianoZ

    What’s the difference between a dollar and a ruble?

    A dollar.

    (Old 90ies joke. We were cruel in those times because we didn’t have NC to explain to us what neo-liberal policies had done to Russia.)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have manufactured enough imperial currency missiles to sink that enemy fiat-money.

      Luckily, there is no non-proliferation of monetary-weapons treaty.

    2. Benedict@Large

      The 90s were pretty funny. The US neoliberal crowd convinced a HUGE country with a fiat currency that it was broke, and that it should give away everything it owned to carpetbaggers and grifters. It doesn’t get much funnier than that. Unless you actually live there, that is.

      And then we wonder why Putin tells us to pound sand when we suggest how Russia should run its affairs? Now that’s REALLY funny.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And Russia didn’t get out with more currency printing, as far as I remember (don’t recall any Nova Deals over there), but with the exit of Yeltsin and Harvard advisors, limited clawbacking of some targeted oligarchy, narrowing corruption just a little bit to fewer elites, and oil price going over $100/barrel for a while (among other commodities rallies). And of course, time – time heals all wounds, little by little.

        1. OIFVet

          That was the essence of the Novaya Sdelka: the oligarchs had to either be mindful of the national interest or face destruction. Those who took the deal, survived. Those who didn’t had to run for their hides or went to jail. In return for rising standard of living and most of all, the return of law and order after the lawlessness of the 1990’s, the population had to accept the existence of the surviving oligarchs.

  17. JCC

    Bill Blunden is absolutely spot-on. Like Airport Security in the U.S., most cryptography is theater. and, as advertising propaganda, definitely underhanded.

      1. efschumacher

        Really? I read it as a wild-eyed scare story. There is in fact good work going on in the IETF to make sure that there’s a suite of crypto-algorithms strong enough and uninfluenced by Agencies that don’t have your best interests at heart. Try following the uta group.

        If you encrypt using PGP, it is not “Google’s” crypto you are using, it is RSA. If you are nervous about the integrity of RSA algorithms you have three options: (1) learn some math for yourself to figure out the crackability of RSA cyphers, (2) Use some other crypto algorithm (such as one you invented yourself, though best to equip yourself with some of option (1) first); (3) Don’t use email for anything really important and subversive.

        Google’s REAL problem with user selected encryption is that they don’t know what ads to target you with based on the gobbledegook in your message bodies.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You are missing a huge issue: you don’t have end to end security. It IS Google’s crypto:

          The first thing to understand is that most commercial encryption systems have servers that act as pass-through transactors for email, video conferencing and the like. When an email, or Skype call is processed on one of these servers, the message is decrypted and then re-encrypted if the recipient of the message or video call is encrypting.

          There was a huge discussion recently, way above my pay grade, about how the “wrapper” of pretty much all supposedly encrypted e-mails was/could be compromised.

          1. hunkerdown

            Ah, you must be talking about downgrade attacks from TLS to clear. Those are analogous to picking the lock on a Pony Express bag and reading the cleartext postcard inside that you helpfully entered into Google’s form or whatever. End-to-end means from your computer to your recipient’s, which is not a use case of interest to the average cloud service provider so they don’t specially accommodate it.

            PGP, on the other hand, *is* end-to-end. The cleartext and private keys do not leave machines under the sender’s and/or recipients’ control, and only the enciphered text passes outside of those spheres. If that assumption holds and you aren’t leaking data in some other way, you can paste your encrypted message into a blog comment and only GCHQ and the NSA have any real chance of doing something with it, and most targets aren’t hard enough to make that significant expenditure worthwhile. Google can’t do squat with a PGP-encrypted message without the recipient’s private key, which of course should never leave that person’s control.

            That said, can one trust the *people* in the crypto community? Would I use a crypto library Robin Seggelmann (“careless” creator of Heartbleed) has ever touched? Not if I have other credible options… and I don’t see those are “there” yet.

            1. bob

              PGP is end to end. In theory, maybe. But then-

              Are both ends secure? How does anyone know anymore?

              There are back doors built into everything these days. Can you honestly say that whatever system you are using, right now, is 100% secure? No, you can’t, No one can.

              1. bob

                The very secure message (in theory) could be received by your machine, still secure, then be sent right back out by a buffer overflow, or any other number of automated attacks, sometimes very low tech.

                Do you check your physical keyboard connection for a keylogger everytime you use PGP?

                All it takes is ONE mistake, and the key is blown.

                There is also no notification that the key is blown, so you don’t know.

                That’s one bit about snowdens position that most people, even in the crypto community, fail to appreciate- He could use his NSA sysadmin privilege to see if he was leaving a trail. He could check and see if he was secure.

                How many other people have this ability?

        2. bob

          Yes, everyone just needs more math. Math cures all!

          This assumes that if PGP was “broken” that you would know about it. In the most famous instance, how long were the allies listening in to german coms during WW2? The spooks didn’t go out bragging that they broke the code.

          The whole argument devolves into BS. You shift the argument to the encryption algo, and not the equipment or people, the easiest way to “break” it.

          ” it is RSA” Running on what platform? What platform is 100% secure? Google android? Microsoft windows? Linux? (opensource magic! security) Apple? What percentage of computers and phones today are already “rooted”, and not known to be rooted by the user? I’ve seen estimates as high as 50%, depending on the OS.

          ” (1) learn some math for yourself to figure out the crackability of RSA cyphers,”
          No. What possible advantage would I have in “cracking” the cipher that thousands of spooks don’t have access to? Public and private spooks. Google and the NSA.

          Even very knowledgeable people have very little ability to search through millions of lines of code.

          “Google’s REAL problem with user selected encryption is that they don’t know what ads to target you with based on the gobbledegook in your message bodies.”

          User selected? That’s got a talking point sound to it, just enough of a hint of truth, covered in a hard shell of “choice”.

          Part of it. Google likes encryption that they provide because it excludes others parties from snooping on “THEIR” products, aka users.

          Honestly, if you have PGP set up on an android device, do you think google can’t break that? They might not be able to break the cipher, but they have all they need to be able to read the message. THEY OWN THE OS.

          There is no magic pill. Never will be.

        3. bob


          How do I use PGP to browse the web? How did you use it to post a comment here?

          You’re talking about using PGP to encrypt an email message. In theory, if everything is just right, it might work.

          What about the rest of the internet? How can PGP figure into anything that most people do on the internet? I’ll give you email, for the sake of argument. What other use is there for it?

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Government auctioning off 4G spectrum.

    OK, money from prior -G spectral auctions belongs to the People, as it is really the people who own the spectrum.

    That money should be distributed even to all, so those who are in need can use it to meet the Obamacare deductibles.

  19. dearieme

    “Life expectancy in Spain is highest in EU and fourth-highest in the world”. Good for them. For pension planning Life Expectancy at, say, age 65 is important. But for a brief summary of what happened last year, surely median age at death would be far better?

    The defects of Life Expectancy for summary purposes include: for a start, “life expectancy” at what age? At birth? At age 6 months? …. With application of which smoothing functions in the analysis? What other assumptions were made? Too complicated. Just publish what happened last year: median age at death. Sometimes it’s best to look at the data without adjustments having been made. Adjustments can be slippery fellows.

  20. McMike


    Pretty much a perfect microcosm of contemporary sociopathic capitalism. Death, suffering, and toxic blighted wasteland in its wake. While the company and its leaders party on like a Humvee that just rolled over a chipmunk.

  21. CuJo

    RE: Boostrap America

    We must also remember that besides the costs of being poor there are industries that routinely take advantage of the poor, not only making worse the “costs” but taking a cut at the same time. Particularly egregious are the usury banks, ahem, sorry, payday loan companies.

    Here’s their latest scam up here in the great white north:

    The program has since been cancelled–our centre left NDP and our right wing Conservatives both opposed it–but of course there’s been no peep out of them to fundamentally change the industry. Or better yet, abolish it.

    1. Benedict@Large

      That’s the old food stamp scam. 50 cents on the dollar. I always thought folks should hold out for more.

  22. McMike

    Re Frankenfoods. My money is on the EU being force-fed an American toxic simulacra diet by the end of the decade.

    Nevertheless, this is priceless: “In France, food is about pleasure, about taste. But in the United States, they put anything in their mouths.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      To be fair, we also spit more garbage (especially the talking heads at our propaganda ministry) out of our mouths as well.

  23. Or just tape some shotguns to their necks

    Great précis by Ian Welsh. Others have made the case in devastating detail, including Scott Horton of Harper’s and Andrew Krieg’s Justice Integrity Project. But since a gelded judiciary is so crucial to the methods of US state repression, nothing’s going to happen without international disgrace and coordinated pressure from civil society. Fortunately, the civilized world is on it. Ask Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. US victims of our Neo-Soviet show trials should be inviting her here, and making the US government work to keep her out. Avoiding special procedures is a notorious US government dereliction. Concerted needling could really pay off here, expecially now with DoJ Pecksniffery so comprehensively exposed as a total crock of shit.

  24. bob

    Swat boots. Work boots. etc. Guess what people? The people who have to wear boots all day might just have a clue on what works. Look at their feet. Cops, mailmen, construction workers, etc…

    Most “hiking boots” are work boots with a 50% mark up. Lower quality too.

    Socks, also, cannot be underestimated. Gump foray- Your feet sweat, A LOT. That’s normally what makes for cold feet in cold weather. Don’t wear cotton socks. It’s the worst material ever for cold weather. It doesn’t breathe or dry out very well. Wool or synthetic fibers are best. Warm even when wet, and they can dry out quickly. They breathe.

    What normally happens is that someone will overdo things. They buy a badass pair of boots, paired with 3 layers of socks because 2 weren’t enough. I’ve also seen people heat their boots up before they put them on.

    As soon as your foot goes into that boot, it’s going to sweat. That sweat is what will make your feet cold.

  25. KeithInModesto

    I was listening to some commentary about the failure to indict over the choking death of Eric Garner, and I wondered, were any cigarettes found on his body after he was killed? The cops apparently suspected that he was selling illegal, untaxed cigarettes. Was he carrying any cigarettes? I did a little google searching, but haven’t found an answer. It should be in the coroner’s report, right? It wouldn’t justify the killing even if he did have cigarettes on his person, but if he didn’t even have any (so obviously wasn’t selling any), that would be a little icing on this cake of excessive force for a minor suspected crime.

  26. Banger

    Quite a strong anti-cop rant on DKOS. I don’t think, a few years ago, it would have been allowed. Interesting how things change over there.

    I think this tendency on the part of cops to feel separated from the rest of society is in line with the general fragmentation we see everywhere. Also, much of your view of “cops gone wild” depends on your experience. My good friend who lives next to a house filled with gang-banger-types, loud, cursing, angry, fighting, and obnoxious who are African-Americans has a quite different view of this whole issue. The fact of the matter is that many African-Americans are really hurt and angry and nothing is being done to heal this–but it’s not my friend’s fault they are that way–he has no money so he can’t move to a fancier neighborhood.

    We need to find a way to be comassionate to all sides–including the cops who themselves were probably raised harshly and since many of them are veterans, may have taken part in atrocities our society doesn’t like to talk about.

  27. tawal

    Cops should be required to live in the neighborhood they police. If the people they serve were their neighbors, they would not be nearly as violent, disrespectful, because we would know where they live too.

    1. hunkerdown

      But could police enforce the law of the kind and to the degree the absentee landlords want, if the police are not foreigners of some sort themselves? For the same reason insurrections are often put down by foreign military forces (Saudi police actions in Bahrain, for example) and businesses in hard-hit areas are very rarely owned or managed by people of the same social identity as their customers, police who identify with their wards are more likely to enforce justice instead of law, which would be fatal to the Establishment.

      Therefore, while your ideal and principles are good and sound, they’re DOA — empire just doesn’t bend that way.

      1. tawal

        All the small business owners in my neighborhood run the businesses themselves. Of course we have some national fast food chains too, but we can choose not to cater to them and cook our own food, or eat at family run restaurants.

    2. Howard Beale IV

      Same thing should apply for fracking execs: they should live no fewer than 75% of the time on site and not be allowed to purchase any bottled water under civil asset forfeiture of the entire fracking operation.

  28. bob

    Re- Energy companies…NYT

    “That ethos, he said, is depicted in a large oil painting in his office that shows local authorities with rifles at the ready confronting outsiders during the land rush era. “The founders recognized that power concentrated in a few is a bad thing,” Mr. Pruitt said.”

    Stands alone…

    “This strike force ought to take the form of a national state litigation team to challenge the E.P.A.’s overreach,” Mr. Miller said in an email to Mr. Pruitt’s office. “Like the Dalmatian at the proverbial firehouse, it could move out smartly when the alarm sounded.”

    Dalmatians are genetically predisposed to deafness. So much so, that firefighters favored/used them BECAUSE they couldn’t hear the alarms.

    Is tom friedman writing for the republican AG’s now?

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