Links 12/9/14

‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas tree in Pennsylvania gets lone red bulb Reuters (EM)

Earth – How to scare off the biggest pest in the world BBC (furzy mouse)

Scientists find the part of your brain that’s giving you chocolate cravings Reuters

Internet giants wage war on pop-up ad blockers Japan Today

Uber Banned in India’s Capital After Rape Accusation New York Times

The mind-bending effects of feeling two hearts BBC (furzy mouse)

NAB predicts two interest rate cuts after gloomy business confidence survey Sydney Morning Herald (EM)

China Markets Plummet Wall Street Journal

European Stocks Fall Second Day as Tesco, Energy Companies Slide Bloomberg

Foreign Stocks Have Never Been Weaker Relative To The U.S. Yahoo Finance

French politician to Merkel: ‘Shut your trap’ DW

EU plans for ‘Robin Hood’ tax fall into disarray Telegraph

Greek shares fall 10.7% on snap election Financial Times

Saudi in ‘race against time’ to cut reliance on oil Financial Times


Putin Plan to Ship Gas to Europe Via Turkey Seen as Unrealistic Bloomberg

A passage to India — Putin goes to New Delhi Financial Times

Russia’s Ruble Disaster in One Chart Bloomberg

Ukraine Sends Russia Huge Advance Payment For Gas OilPrice

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Citizenfour, Snowden, and the Surveillance State Counterpunch

The Debate about Torture We’re Not Having: Exploitation Marcy Wheeler

White House and G.O.P. Clash Over Torture Report New York Times

CIA torture report: US raises security ahead of release BBC


Obamacare helps private equity get its rehab clinic fix Reuters (upstater)

Half of Doctors Listed as Serving Medicaid Patients Are Unavailable, Investigation Finds New York Times (ginnieNYC). Medicaid expansion is the main bennie of Obamacare….

Obama says he willing to defy Democrats on his support of Trans-Pacific Partnership Washington Post (lydia)

FDA Advisers’ Financial Ties Not Disclosed Wall Street Journal. This is major.

Fuel to the fire? Fuel exports soar under Obama Associated Press

Inside the Koch data mine Politico (MA)

Congress gives Native American lands to foreign mining company with new NDAA RT

Black Injustice Tipping Point

High School Guidance Counselor on Leave After ‘Die-In’ Protesters Threat Posted on Facebook

Carolers in New York tweak classics to protest police violence Reuters (EM). Notice racial mix of singers.

Oil Falls to 5-Year Low, and Companies Start to Retrench New York Times

Oil Price Winners and Losers Around the Globe WSJ Economics

Teen apparel retailer Delia*s files for bankruptcy Reuters. EM: “Two PE firms (Salus and Cerberus – some kind of Grekenaming convention at work here?) get a mention.”

Large Banks Face U.S. Tougher-Than-Global Capital Rule Bloomberg

The New Republic is dead, thanks to its owner, Chris Hughes Washington Post

The New Republic’s Ugly Reality Robert Parry, Consortium News

Class Warfare

If you want to see the gap between the House of Lords and reality for yourself, then just look at their champagne budget Independent (MJL)

Study: Minimum Wage Workers Ripped Off Even More Than We Thought Bill Moyers

Antidote du jour (@EnglishRussia1, via Lambert):

Babushka walks hippos links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Working Class Nero

    The key paragraph from the Washington Post article on TNR:

    The same day the article appeared, Hughes lashed out in a group e-mail to staff because senior editor (and former Post reporter) Alec MacGillis had dared to propose writing a piece about Apple avoiding taxes just after Apple’s Tim Cook had come out of the closet. Hughes shot back that “Apple has acted squarely within the law” and that MacGillis’s argument would be “tone deaf.” MacGillis quickly backed off, but Hughes did not, writing twice more to defend Apple’s tax strategy and to call Cook “incredibly heroic” for coming out.

    This paragraph shows the beauty of Identity Politics. We are moving towards a victim-ocracy where as long as wealthy people have some sort of victim credentials, that is anything outside of being cisgender, straight, gentile, non-rape survivor, white males, then have paid their dues and now have immunity from criticism over economic issues.

    Notice the emphasis on Cook’s coming out; it was a not too subtle statement that anyone who questioned his alleged tax cheating ways would actually be revealing their homophobic tendencies.

    Over the past forty years economically we have careened to the right but on social issues we have swung to the left. Anyone now fighting to swing us back to the left on economics will have to be ready to stand up to the mobs shouting them down as right-wing thought criminals on social issues.

    1. DJG

      Working Class Nero: I doubt that this is identity politics. Instead, it is the baroque. This is the idea that Caravaggio’s melodramatic life trumps any assessment of his work. This is the idea that spectacle matters more than substance. This is divide-and-conquer.

      1. Max

        When you realize that Apple is a fashion company, not a tech company, this makes complete sense. Bret Easton Ellis is as much a prophet as William Gibson.

    2. Ulysses

      You may take some comfort in the fact that Christine Quinn wasn’t able to rely on merely being a lesbian– to obscure to NYC voters that she would pretty much continue all of Bloomberg’s oligarch-friendly policies if she was elected mayor.

      This isn’t to say that our current mayor, Bill de Blasio, will turn out to be actually much of an improvement over Bloomberg, merely that those voting for him (including many in the LGBT community) thought they were voting for someone far to the left of Bloomberg on economic issues.

      Your point is a good one, however, and worth addressing. I am often pretty exhausted with defending my work for unions– like the Teamsters and I.B.E.W.– from ignorant people. These holier-than-thou people seem to think that because their membership doesn’t devote a lot of time to bashing straight, white males that their struggles for good benefits, pay, and working conditions for all workers are not worthy of support.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Oh, no, I had to look up cisgender and was shocked to discover that it describes me. In fact, I suffer from all of the conditions you list, so I have no victim imunity at all. Damn. Well, at least I get to look down at everyone else, right?. Divide, conquer, rule, and kill works so reliably.

    4. hunkerdown

      Heh. I had to stop reading with rage after

      I told him in an e-mail that he was “doing the Lord’s work in rescuing this proud old brand” and called him a “21st-century Walter Lippmann.”

      But this stuff really isn’t leftist. A left position would be that gender doesn’t matter, which is at odds with identity politics’ claims that it matters more than anything else. What we have here is simply a different social hierarchy imposed from above.

    5. different clue

      There ought to be a rhetorically-simple way to reply to this. About tax-chiseler Cook coming out as gay, one could reply . . . ” oh yeah? well, he’s just as much a tax-chiseler as if he was straight.” Stuff like that there.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Well, I suppose it’s a civilizational advance that now gay CEOs can chisel workers out of their pay and scheme their way out of corporate taxes, functions previously reserved from straight CEOs. But I don’t think it’s quite as much an advance as it is sometimes presented to be.

  2. sufferin' succotash

    What we’re seeing here is a striking demonstration of the Pythagorean Theorem: the sum of two hippopotamuses is equal to…

  3. steviefinn

    Baroness Jenkins who sits on the no doubt, very useful Lord’s champagne committee, was recently forced to apologise for stating that those who used ‘ Food banks ‘ were doing so due to a lack of cooking skills – perhaps she was pissed at the time.

    It appears though, that when it comes to one’s ‘ Bolly & feast bank ‘ – One has to maintain certain standards & should most certainly not be required to have to demean oneself, with that whole dreadful grubby artisan business of cooking & preparation – after all one has menials for such things.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Mocking an Obamacare villain:

    A tea party group said its members will greet Jonathan Gruber, the man at the center of Obamacare’s troubled public image, with T-shirts reading “I’m with Stupid” when he shows up to defend himself Tuesday before what’s likely to be a hostile congressional panel.

    Republicans call Mr. Gruber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a key architect of the Affordable Care Act, while Democrats are rushing to put distance between them and their erstwhile star after several rounds of caught-on-tape remarks about the “stupidity of the American voter” and the need to game budget rules to pass Obamacare were made public.

    “With all that’s going on in the Capitol, we didn’t want Mr. Gruber’s curtain call to go unnoticed,” said Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Patriots co-founder. “We commemorated his appearance, and in the spirit of the Season, we’d like to offer the Obamacare architect a dozen. He can use them as stocking stuffers for the economically unsophisticated.”


    Ho — who would’ve thought the little people would react with such venom to an elitist patronizer?

    Gruber, shocked by the disrespect, likely will reply, ‘But … but … I’m a famous academic!’

    1. Carolinian

      And funny how “tea party groups” are doing what liberals should be doing. I can remember a time when the lefties were the faction of the common man.

      Much head scratching about why my region has so totally deserted the Democrats. I’d offer up Gruber as exhibit A. It’s hard to win people over by showing contempt for them. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about….a bigoted screed against bigotry.

      One doesn’t have to defend the rightwing politics of Kennesaw to point out that not everyone who lives there is an idiot just as not all Muslims are terrorists (a meme, btw, which probably has more currency in Brooklyn than Georgia).

      1. Jim Haygood

        People adopt memes — the South as a bastion of racism, South America as a region of military dictatorships, Islam as synonymous with fanaticism — and through intellectual laziness, never bother to update them to account for changing facts.

        Still, sometimes stereotypes can be delivered with humor, as in this hyperbolic riff by Norman Liebmann:

        It is reasonable to describe the Clinton library as a virtual leper colony of memorabilia. Among the chipped and powdery artifacts there are a few thumbed over books. It is a reasonable supposition that there was more serious reading going on at the Mustang Ranch than at the Clinton Library.

        Clinton personally chose the location for his Library because it was conveniently located near universities – and brothels. Putting the Clinton Library in Arkansas is its own irony. One wonders what use is a warehouse for cockamamie bric-a-brac, much less a library in that cultural moonscape.

        In the end the Clinton Library will be remembered with less affection and respect than the Texas School Book Depository. Here are some of the items listed among its so-called attractions:

        — an illustrated history of Arkansas titled “A Trailer Park named Gomorrah”
        — the primitive artwork of young Bill’s days in kindergarten (most of which were drawings of stick figures copulating)
        — the charred Bible that burst into flames when he was being sworn into office
        — a wreath laid by Clinton at The Tomb of the Unknown Pervert
        — a life size oil painting of Whitcomb Judson and Gideon Sundback – inventors of the Zipper

        1. Carolinian

          Bill should have located his library at Broad and Wall. He probably has more fans there than in Arkansas.

      2. Propertius

        One of the main functions of the MSM is to prevent the Left and the Tea Party from ever figuring out how much they have in common. Hence the focus on wedge issues and unflattering caricatures.

        1. different clue

          The Pot People and the Tea People will have to decide to work on issues of co-mutual interest
          without having to like eachother, eat eachother’s food, or listen to eachother’s music.

          Allies, not friends. Allies of convenience, if necessary. Ever-shifting coalitions of single-issue coalitions-of-the-willing.

      3. hunkerdown

        ^ Yep. The purpose of the guards is not to win people over. It’s to forestall defection by way of social opprobrium, much as Native American villages were surrounded by white forces to keep the whites from defecting as much as to keep the injuns in.

  5. JCC

    From ZeroHedge and William Banzai7 this morning;

    “They (Cheney, the CIA, et. al.) are worried that folks will get angry and violent when they read the purported findings of the report and therefore it is unconscionable to release it.

    And that dear friends, is the modern principle of American transparency in a nutshell.”
    — WB7

    1. Jim Haygood

      Anthony Romero of the ACLU votes for transparency too:

      Mr. Obama could pardon George J. Tenet for authorizing torture at the C.I.A.’s black sites overseas, Donald H. Rumsfeld for authorizing the use of torture at the Guantánamo Bay prison, David S. Addington, John C. Yoo and Jay S. Bybee for crafting the legal cover for torture, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for overseeing it all.


      Or, he could punt by telling them, ‘Go see President Hillary in 2017 with $400,000 in a paper bag, and she’ll take care of you. Tell her Denise Rich sent you.’

  6. jjmacjohnson

    “Hughes is no idiot (he reads Balzac in French)”

    Just because one can read a book in another language does neccesiarily elevate one above being an idiot. Nor does it prove intelligence. Ugh!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Another test is whether he reads it like a Chinese book, from back to front and right to left.

    1. McMike

      Oh, I read it as the set up for a snarky insult. Like saying he is good at building model ships in a bottle.

      As in “go back to your Balzac buster, and leave the business to the big boys…”

  7. global

    I was predicting for long Russia will make deal with India.But problem remains:how will Russia supply gas?
    a)pipeline-will not happen because of china,Pakistan,Afghanistan
    b) ships :possible but who will build tankers and LNG terminals?
    Currently India gets gas from qatar and oman.So it is starved nation.There are dozens of power plant including Enron lying idle because of no gas or coal..
    A assured gas and nuclear fuel will help solving electricity problem

    My guess is russia will supply gas through tankers,it may not be cost effective but it will work

  8. timotheus

    Re carolers: the Garner/Brown demos have been at least 2/3 white here in NY, and everyone is indignant. It would be interesting to see a report on what motivates the 20/30-something white kids to pour into the streets on this as racial profiling and all the rest do not immediately touch them. I smell alienation of a much broader and deeper category. Lyndon Johnson learned to his chagrin that turning this demographic into an adversary is unwise.

    1. craazyman

      Most of the police I see in the subways are kids — Hispanic kids, orientals, kids with faces you could see in a 1958 black & white photograph of some side street in Brooklyn vacantly playing stickball, an amalgamation of southern and eastern European.

      They all look like kids, clean soft faces without scars or wear or the hardness that years of hate and bile forge into a permanent mask, a death mask worn forever. They don’t have that, the way kids don’t. Instead they have a quiet and restrained curiosity and I find them to be impeccably polite, but I have a suit & tie and look like I’m an authority over something. hahahahahahah. that’s hilarious to contemplate. but it’s true.

      The women especially, some have startled me with their uniform and gun and handcuffs and baton, some have faces out of painting by a Spanish master in the 1600s. Faces leaning over a wounded and dying Jesus. Faces radiant with a maternal adoration of the infant Lord in a manger. That’s the police, to me. Faces in the subway full of grace.

      What they hell is all this about the police being out of control? It’s certainly true, however. The police al over America are out of control. There is no doubt. What’s in control? That’s the more interesting question.

      1. ambrit

        You live in New York, the principality with the, what is it, sixth or seventh largest army in the world? With that large a group to draw on, the NYPD can afford to let the nice cops be the public face and keep the not nice cops hanging around in the dungeons until needed. Out here in the boonies, such a wealth of resources is not available. We get to interact with the full spectrum of policemen and women, with somewhat different results from you, evidently. For me, all women are beautiful, so the Spanish Master Painter image is natural. (A Pieta in Uniform would be an interesting painting, if only for its’ iconography.)

        1. craazyman

          It’s not that simple. Back in the OWS days when I was down in Zucotti Park to test my civil liberties and do some research for the department of contemporary analysis at U. of M. right before the clean out the whole park was ringed with armed riot police to keep citizens out (and urban campers with their nylon tents and tattoos).

          Squared-jaw-crew-cut steriod-pumped robots of violence were side by side in riot gear with the types of kids I described above — black, white, Hispanic, oriental, whatever. Mostly, they all looked bored out of their minds. Standing there all day long protecting the cement surface of the park from the soles of citizens shoes while office workers walked by. Not exactly a day-job that engages the mind. They looked like they wanted to go home, I’m telling you, that’s all they they looked like they wanted to do. Except maybe a few steroid heads among them.

          But If all hell had broken loose it would have been an indiscriminate baton flying mee-lee. I’m not being sentimental about this. When the tornado arrives everything blows away in the wind.

          1. craazyboy

            yo craazyman

            I’ve got a vid of Rover doing laps at the park!


            I’ve programmed in GPS coordinates for the 4 corners and he drives from one to the next. Still working on speeding him up even more.

              1. craazyboy

                Yes, thought about ultrasound sensors. You need them for the Sparkfun race because they put up some obstacles to go around.

                I’ve used the cheapies($3 a piece) on my first Arduino project which was a little carpet crawler bot that did obstacle avoidance. These only have a 8 ft range, but work ok for very slow speeds.

                For the Sparkfun race, everyone uses the better “sonar” sensors that sell for about $40 ea (you need at least 2). But these still only have a range of about 20 ft. This isn’t good enough for even the speeds I go at now, and I’m trying to get my PID Nav controller to handle speeds even faster than the 25mph or so I go now. The RC monster truck chassis I have can go 35mph. If I change to Lipo batteries and maybe taller gearing, it’ll do 45mph. I’ll outrun any kind of affordable distance sensor and smash Rover face first into something.

                So I’ve decided to make my own rules. I’ll have GPS programmed race tracks and go like hell.

              1. craazyboy

                Dogs don’t seem interested in Rover. Probably doesn’t smell right.

                OTOH, he attracts kids from miles around.

          2. ambrit

            dear craazyman;
            There you have it; the tyranny of the should in action.
            Individually, we’re all capable of being nice caring people. When we’re in a group, the dynamics change. Mobs are feared for very good reasons. Some mobs come in uniforms. Do be very careful with yourself. Living to tell the young’ns all about the collapse of the West is an undeniable ‘ten bagger.’

      2. Cynthia

        We lost control of our politicians. Now we are losing control of our police. It’s like in the old western movies where the crooked politician hires a crooked sheriff.

  9. Ignacio

    The “Inside the Koch data mine” reinforces my idea that voting polls and other social studies are killing democracies and should be banned. I think this is as important as the public surveillance by federal agencies.

  10. ambrit

    Yesterday Fannie and Freddie released new rules for mortgages. 3% down payments for distressed groups, and 43% of income as the monthly payment upper limit.
    I thought that something like this was one of the drivers of the previous housing ‘crash.’

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Campaign budget, House of Lords and reality gap…

    Why doesn’t Big Business just bribe the little People directly? Why does it have to go through a bunch of middle men? Wouldn’t it be easier to just send cash directly to the little People and skip elections?

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Parry’s article was good, particularly his point questioning whether it wouldn’t be better to simply bury the thing.

      But the real question is: Does The New Republic deserve to survive? Wouldn’t it be appropriate that at least one neocon institution faced some accountability for the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, not to mention the other victims of reckless U.S. interventionism in the Middle East or the tens of thousands of murdered Central Americans during the Reagan years?

      That would indeed be nice but it would beg the same question regarding just about every other media institution over the last 40 years.

      Parry’s description of the deep “liberal” hypocrisy of TNR doesn’t give much of a plug to Hughes other than implicitly making it clear that what ever Hughes does can’t be much worse.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Saw a documentary once about ivory and elephants in Africa.

      One ‘investor’ in Beijing was quoted as saying to the effect, to me it’s just mumble-jumble, that elephants were revered in Buddhism, maybe a symbol for Manjusri, a bodhisattva, and how elephants sacrificed themselves or how they would live on in those tusks. Like I said, mumble jumble.

      Personally, I think it would be better if jade is appreciated more over there, instead of ivory…Ho Tien jade, Russian green jade, Burmese jadeite jade, etc. There were eight virtues associated with jade, according to Confucius, all good qualities a scholar-gentleman was supposed to possess.

    2. lordkoos

      Of course prices will go up, the scarcer ivory becomes. The more restrictions and attempts to curb the trade, the more upward pressure on prices. Did people expect the demand and the prices to go down?

  12. Adam S.

    In regards to the articles about TNR’s editorial shakeup;

    To be perfectly honest, I was genuinely surprised that TNR was labelled a “liberal” or “progressive” magazine. For my entire life (granted I’m only 29), I had always seen TNR as a neocon trashrag. I avoided it precisely because it seemed to be a cheerleader for those gorging themselves on the not-quite-dead corpse of our democracy.

    After reading several other articles, I’m surprised at how TNR’s editorial decisions mirrored the public discourse through the ’90s and ’00s. I have no idea if it actually drove the discourse, but the status quo seems too eerily similar to the beltway assumption of situation normal.

    Personally, I’m glad Hughes shook up the organization. We’ll see what arises out of the ashes.

  13. financial matters

    Naomi Klein’s excellent book on the urgency of addressing climate change (This Changes Everything) perhaps doesn’t reach high enough when considering funding mechanisms. She wants the polluters to cough up the money which is fair enough but I think dismisses too lightly a much larger funding mechanism.

    “So, if we accept that governments are broke, and they’re not likely to introduce “quantitative easing” (aka printing money) for the climate system as they have for the banks, where is the money supposed to come from?”

    I think more people are starting to wonder ‘if for thee then why not for me’, especially for large worth-while projects like renewable energy.

    Mariana Mazzucato in another excellent book (The Entrepreneurial State) also addresses some of the problems with private venture capital taking on large projects like this often without having the public’s best interests in mind.

    “Even as clean technologies like wind and solar power struggle to gain a foothold in world energy systems, the executives and shareholders (even of the losing firms!) find themselves able to reap millions in returns underwritten in part by the State (Hopkins and Lazonik 2012).”

    Michael Hoexter also addresses this issue:

    “The national polities of the world and their currency issuing governments or government institutions have no need to base the amount and type of absolutely vital public climate investment upon fossil fuel industry finances.”

    1. Lambert Strether

      For reasons that are now reasonably well known, governments that are currency issuers are not broke. Too bad Klein rejects, or does not know about, the method that government can use to fund the programs she wants.

  14. Keenan

    RE Scientists find the part of your brain that’s giving you chocolate cravings – Reuters

    Title & photo are bogus – outright misleading. The word “chocolate” appears only in the title and not at all in the story which deals with glucose – sugar – & associated enzymes. Any bittersweet dark chocolate aficionado knows the difference !

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You can put a democrat in a room, and through chemicals in the air and electromagnetic waves aimed at the brain area, induce him/her to think totally Republican thoughts.

      Welcome to Total Control Democracy.

      Still, in about 100 years, they will laugh at how rudimentary we all were today (as Dr. McCoy said in that whale Star Trek movie, of doctors in late 20th century, ‘Oh, boy, they are not surgeons. More like butchers!’ or something to that effect – don’t bash me over inexact quotes.)

  15. anonymous123

    Not sure if anyone has been following the Berkeley protests, but last night was pretty incredible. The protesters shut down an entire freeway (again) for several hours in both directions as they walked down I-80 from Berkeley to Oakland. They also shut down the Amtrak line for several hours, as people laid down on the tracks in front of the train. The protests were really peaceful; protesters livestreamed via their GoPro cameras, which allowed people to watch the entire thing live from inside. The police were out in full force–and full-on riot gear–but the protesters just kept singing “Amazing Grace” to them. I’ve heard these past few nights were even more intense than the Occupy Oakland protests here in 2012.

    Twitter had excellent coverage : as did our local independent news site, Berkeleyside:

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I hope they expand them to include protests against corporate buyouts of the university, or attempted corporate buyouts…endowments for exclusive research projects.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Glad to see student-inspired activism somewhere. Here in Madison it has been very quiet.

      1. anonymous123

        Oh it wasn’t just students at all. There were many many people from the Berkeley community and from Occupy Oakland.

    3. Lambert Strether

      Good for them. Blocking transportation nexuses has been a feature of this wave of protests, which is neat because it works in areas that have sprawl (unlike Occupying City Squares). Far more serious than breaking into Whole Foods to drink champagne, I would say.

      What’s a GoPro? Is it different from a cell phone?

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Congress…Native American lands…foreign companies.

    Aren’t Native American nations still sovereign? Can they issue their own sovereign currencies? The Iroquois Wampun? Sioux Gold coins?

    1. hunkerdown

      Now, now. Wampum was only good for a specific set of payments, such as blood price. Much the same as a diamond ring is mainly redeemable for a bride in the West.

      The imminent social credit economy can’t come soon enough for me.

    2. Lambert Strether

      They could, by fiat, but whether they could get acceptance outside their own jurisdictions is open to question.

      I’ve often wondered why they never went into banking, as opposed to gambling. I’d be happy to put such money as I have in an Indian bank over a secure connection, especially if they’d promise no bail-ins and genuine privacy which, as sovereigns, they could do.

      1. not_me

        especially if they’d promise no bail-ins Lambert

        That promise would not be credible without a lender of last resort, would it? After the banks’ capital is wiped out then loan losses would have to come out of the depositors and other creditors, no?

  17. barrisj

    Among others, there is DIck Cheney dismissing the Senate Report on CIA Interrogations as rubbish, and continually declaiming the “value obtained” by the use of torture on “detainees”, and how many “terrorist plots” were “prevented” by use of the “intelligence” gathered by torture. Greenwald and Marcy Wheeler both make the salient point that one principal objective of the torture program was in fact to solicit bogus information out of the “detainees”, information that fit the highers-up policies and conclusions, much in the way that the runup to the Iraq invasion was prefaced by fabricated intelligence ” being fixed around the policy”, as stated in the infamous “Downing Street Memo”. Saddam Hussein in league with al-Qaida? Sure, no problem, we got a raghead here who is willing to say anything to stop the pain. And it was in fact the Office of the VP who was pushing the SH-AQ “links”, even well after it was shown that these “links” were pure fantasy. Which really makes much of the Report a reflection on the bottomless immorality of the Cheney-Bush crowd, where the CIA was torturing to obtain custom-designed “confessions” to bolster US policy both domestically and abroad to further the “war on terror”. And yet we have people like Anne Applebaum, still ranting on about the Stalin purge trials of the ’30s, where “confessions” and public “self-criticism” were used to fabricate a narrative to support the views of the Party and Stalin against the “enemies of the State”…vile, hideous Stalin and his autocratic and murderous methods. So what is the Senate Report about, if not a playbook on how to fabricate a narrative to support the ruling elite in its campaign to eradicate “the enemies of the State”, both at home and abroad? I ask you, is this not the “moral equivalence” – perhaps not in extent but surely in intent – of a similar mindset common to all totalitarian governments?

  18. tiebie66

    I’ve been traveling recently and was in Australia when the Murray Report on banking was released.
    Apologies if it was discussed here, but I missed it. It received quite a bit of coverage in Australia. Some questions that came up for me were the following:
    1. How does one choose between robustness (of the banking system) and economic growth when these two aims cannot be aligned? The report emphasized robustness (though I got the impression the mandate was to promote economic growth).
    2. The report recommended increasing Tier 1 capital ratios to put Australia in the top global quartile. Better capital ratios makes sense, but not yoking those ratios to competitors: either the ratios are good enough or they aren’t, irrespective of what others do. There are times when ‘competition’ does not make all that much sense.
    3. Fees and levies to be used to finance the ASIC regulator, but why not also proceeds from fines? IIRC, Yves has made the case for independent and sufficient funding of regulators before.
    4. Saw a mention of applying GST to financial transactions (which are currently excluded). Why were these excluded? Why are some transactions ‘holier’ than others?
    Anyways, I’d be interested to hear more about the merits (or not) of the report and how the Australian approach contrasts with the US (and others’) approach.

  19. optimader

    Completely OT but anyone that uses olive oil might pay heed that the Mediterranean crop was trashed. I bunkered away a year supply. This might not bode well for the orchards next season as well?

    “Owing to a multi-pronged attack, the 2014 olive crop coming out of major Mediterranean producing countries is small – almost nonexistent. Whole olives and olive oil production rates are well below normal, and the olive oil that is being produced is of such low quality it is unlikely to be fit for export markets. In short, “foodies” of the world will have to fork over more cash for their coveted oils, or forego their use altogether. Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France are the hardest hit in this case, with Spanish olive production forecasted to be more than 50% less than the prior year’s production. Industry organization Federolio is forecasting a 30% increase in olive and olive oil prices for the coming year.

    The cause is a combination of factors, including disease, insect damage, and unseasonable weather conditions. First, large swaths of olive country were infected with a bacterial disease caused by Xylella fastidiosa, which causes a condition like leprosy in the trees. Second, unseasonably warm spring weather severely decreased the trees’ abilities to flower. Finally, the warm, wet spring weather created ideal breeding conditions for the insect pest Bactrocera oleae, also called the olive fly. This combination of biotic and abiotic stress conditions spelled disaster for the region’s growers. Going forward, innovations like Oxitec’s genetically modified sterile olive fly varieties have the potential to help protect the region from future damage.”

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