Links New Years Eve

New Year’s Eve Partying Could Wreck Your Immune System Business Insider (David L)

Severe Flu Cases on the Rise in U.S. New York Times. I though last year was a bad flu year…

Best of 2014: Google’s Secretive DeepMind Startup Unveils a “Neural Turing Machine” MIT Technology Review (David L)

The “Netscape Moment” in IOT Daniel Obodovski (David L). Ugh.

Pope Francis Has Declared War on Climate Deniers New Republic

Rising sea to claim 7,000 properties BBC (David L)

Greece comes back to haunt eurozone as anti-Troika rebels scent power Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Greek Polling Points to Coalition as Voters Reject System Bloomberg

Rufo expiry will test Argentina’s willingness to settle debt Financial Times


Russian Woes Continues As Ruble Plumbs New Depths OilPrice

Fragile calm restored to Russian banks Financial Times


Did Climate Change Cause Syria’s Civil War? Juan Cole (Nikki)

U.S. senator tells Netanyahu Congress will follow his lead on Iran sanctions Haaretz

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

DARPA Is Building A Surveillance System That Can Pick Up Tiny Details From 17,500 Feet Away
We Are the Mighty

CIA Torture Report

Our New Politics of Torture New York Review of Books

Exposing America Project Syndicate (David L)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Stop Kidding Yourself: The Police Were Created to Control Working Class and Poor People LAWCHA (martha r)

Our Three-Year Struggle to Get Chicago to Admit We Were Beaten by the Police VICE (martha r). White victims of police brutality and their efforts to obtain justice.

NYPD Soft Coup

Emails and Racist Chats Show How Cops and GOP Are Teaming Up to Undermine de Blasio Max Blumenthal, Alternet

‘No resolve’ after talks between New York mayor de Blasio and NYPD unions Guardian. That is actually positive. A “resolve” at this juncture could only be the mayor capitulating to the cops.

NYPD Work Slowdown Results in Massive Drop in Arrests Alternet (furzy mouse). I wonder what happens if the crime rate does not go up.

When New York City Police Walk Off the Job New York Times. Editorial. Two in two days. I can’t recall a parallel in recent years.

Nashville police chief shares message, responds to questions Tennessean (martha r). A sorely-needed contrast.

Idaho toddler shoots and kills his mother inside Walmart Guardian

US approves more ultralight oil exports Financial Times. Not sure this is all that significant until transport facilities are built, and if the falloff of shale gas output is as fast as the better analyses suggest, the economic case for construction may not be there.

California judges sue Calpers pension system over contributions Reuters (EM)

Behind New Jersey’s Tobacco Bond Bailout, A Hedge Fund’s $100 Million Payday ProPublica

ICE bans ‘disruptive trading’ strategies Financial Times (David L)

The Cartel: How BP Got Insider Tips Through a Secret Chat Room Bloomberg. Surprised we have not heard about more of this sort of thing. Most major multinationals run their treasury operation as a profit center, meaning trading operation.

Oil workers to pay for near 50% price fall Financial Times

Banking Culture Encourages Dishonesty Scientific American (martha r)

Class Warfare

This City Eliminated Poverty, And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It Huffington Post (martha r, margarita f). As we will discuss next week, a much larger scale, 40 year experiment produced the opposite result, allowing employers to keep wages low and producing pauperization of the poor and greater wage disparity. Note that is the conclusion of a prominent socialist.

The True Costs of Corporate Welfare Truthout

Antidote du jour (Li):

Dubai camel links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I have no idea how WordPress rotated that photo, since it was not rotated on my hard disk. But I found where to fix it, so it should now look OK.

      1. diptherio

        I was enjoying the horizontal orientation, actually. It’s good to have something unexpected to start the morning—put’s one in the proper frame of mind of dealing with the rest of our absurdist reality…

      2. hunkerdown

        There’s an orientation flag in the EXIF info. Some minimalistic/dated browsers might not correct for it.

        diptherio, were you using Android Jellybean perchance?

      1. abynormal

        lean closer. if it hurls a large one on your face and licks it off…its a giraffe ‘)


      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Giraffes have beautiful eyelashes.

        I am attracted to them as a totemic spirit for another reason – their heads on in the clouds, but their feet firmly on the ground.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      “Responsibility” is just a right-wing code-word for austerity.

      The Koch brothers are probably behind this “Kwanzaa” thing.

      1. hunkerdown

        Methinks you’re off the mark there. I doubt the word “collective” would ever issue forth from any industrialist Koch’s lips without a six-figure “fine” to the FCC.

  1. dearieme

    While I can see that far too often American policemen behave in a way that is unnecessarily violent, and quite indifferent to the safety or lives of the people they deal with, I find it hard to see that de Blasio is a good man to deal with the problem.

    1. NOTaREALmerican

      Cops are constantly dealing with the least desirable elements of society (like people who constantly speed because they don’t believe in the austerity of individual responsibility).
      They probably get jaded quickly.

        1. RUKidding

          Ehm, I think I see the tiniest bit of difference between a jaded customer service clerk and a nasty entitled pissed off Cop. That’s just me…

  2. wbgonne

    I find it hard to see that de Blasio is a good man to deal with the problem.

    Why isn’t De Blasio a “good man” to deal with the recalcitrant police? Who else will deal with the problem? De Blasio is the mayor. But if he’s looking for suggestions, here’s how I would deal with the pouting police:

    Do your effing jobs or find new ones.

    1. MikeNY

      I suspect that in the opinion of the NYPD, a “good man to deal with the problem” is a man who doesn’t see the problem.

    2. dearieme

      “Do your effing jobs or find new ones”: probably, but is de Blasio the man to say that and implement it?

      1. Ulysses

        The mayor is the nominal boss of the entire NYPD, from the commissioner on down. Mr. DeBlasio was elected mayor by the citizens of New York. Asking whether he is the “best man” to perform this role is completely nonsensical. He is the only man with the authority to perform this role! Your question is like asking, when on an airplane, “I wonder if the pilots and copilots are the best people on board to be flying this plane?”

        1. Banger

          I don’t know what the popularity of the police is in NYC–I find cops there to be arrogant and tribal more so than in other cities I’ve known. The Mayor needs to do something about the police but politcically that is difficult for a number of reasons. First, the police are corrupt and in the pay of various interest groups and criminal gangs–sorry but that’s just the reality of most large PDs. They also can physically threaten the Mayor, his friends and his family–remember NYPD has a far-flung operation around the world with deep connection to intel services in Washington and fucking with them is just not a good idea. What he can do is keep the issue of brutality and violence in play in the news-media by mentioning it when it happens. He will get active hostility from the police but that is the best he can do short of suspending most of the force and starting from scratch which has not chance of happening.

          DiBlasio is doing the best he can at this time–I give him credit for even his mild opposition.

          1. neo-realist

            I don’t know what the popularity of the police is in NYC–I find cops there to be arrogant and tribal more so than in other cities I’ve known

            Come to Seattle

          2. Alejandro

            Are you suggesting that “democracy” is no-more or never-was? Who or what ARE they accountable to? Who or what SHOULD they be accountable to?

          1. annie

            you can’t be serious.
            any serious dem in the job would be getting the same opposition. the point in electing de blasio is to free us from guiliani goons or bloomberg quasi elitists–or c.quinn’s establishment bedfellows. it’s up to us to support de blasio! and we will.
            the person i wonder about in all this is bratton. seems his job as commish to quash this. de blasio is taking the full brunt.

      2. optimader

        Don’t live in NYC so maybe I’m nuance free which always makes it easier to make the call from the sofa….but..

        Hasn’t De Blasio already proven he isn’t the man for the job? The NYPC has professionally/personally insulted and slandered the guy,all fro the wrong reasons. Polite should not equal weak.

        The NYPD has the pack of dogs mentality and they obviously enough can sniff out weak.
        If I were him (haha) I would make the NYPD my personal mission. As ambrit pointed out previously, put them on the beat.

        If he had the will, the mayor could get together w/ the city attorney and push down NYPD edicts. Retire (pick a number 30%?) of the vehicular fleet put these guys on the street in neighborhood, while instituting the Don Corleone ward (precinct?) scheduled meetings to develop punchlist agendas of citizen requests in the purview of the City to resolve. People will figure out pretty quick if it’s BS or not.

        Design some incredibly shitty jobs limited only by the imagination for those that cant get with the program, like inspecting and photographing ( so you know its being done) the contents of dumpsters for “bombs”. Free Tyvek suits.

        1. Working Class Nero

          What the NYPD is doing is striking on their roles as tax-collectors-by-other-means directed against the bottom 50%. The police have a slight advantage here since they typically come from the bottom 50% so they know how the game is played. Now the pearl clutching bourgeois liberals are forced to go public about how terrible it is that the police have stopped collecting the taxes from the poor that the wealthy really should have been paying all along. Seems to me Debaser is backed into a corner and it’s going to be kind of awkward to make the case that the police just have to get back out there and do their real jobs of shaking down the working classes and poor.

    3. Bridget

      “Do your effing jobs or find new ones.”

      Wait, is this April Fool’s instead of New Year’s Eve? Rather startling to see such sentiments expressed on the pages of NC. I should get another cup of coffee.

    4. voxhumana

      NYC is one of history’s greatest crime syndicates. I finally had enough after 25 years there and left once it became clear that Bush/Paulson/Obama/Bernanke (and all of the Democrats inside the beltway) had chosen to save the do-nothing-to-make-millions Wall Street criminals over America’s working classes. During those 25 years the do-nothing-important NYPD criminals murdered any number of innocent people – mostly African Americans (Eleanor Bumpers, Michael Stewart and Amadou Diallo come quickest to mind) and the only mayor to even pretend to care was Dinkins (during whose tenure crime rates dropped, for which the odious scumbag Giuliani received credit after the fact).

      Had any of the neolib mayors I was forced to live under, from Koch to Bloomberg, directed their D.A’s and Police commissioners to take on the REAL criminals that dominate that city (not just the Wall St. thieves but the landlords and developers, etc) we might not be talking as much about the tragic results of “broken windows” policies and the criminalization of poverty.

      Spurious suggestions that any of those mayors, including DeBlasio, were or were not the “right” man for the job of policing the police elide the real discussion that should be happening in this wretched country.

    5. bruno marr

      Yep. In my little city they held the physical performance test for ONE available spot on the force, in public at a ocean side park. 200 people of all types were taking the physical performance test and the chance for POST academy. I’m sure NY would see a similar rustle.

  3. dogwood

    This is very macro – but still a breathtaking overview:

    “• When the British got tossed out of India, they set up Pakistan, as a sort of anti-India, precipitating a nasty hot war, followed by a frozen conflict over Kashmir.

    • When the US lost China to the Communists, they evacuated the Nationalists to Taiwan, and set it up as a sort of anti-China, and even gave it China’s seat at the United Nations.

    The goal is always the same: if they can’t have the run of the place, they make sure that nobody else can either, by setting up a conflict scenario that nobody there can ever hope to resolve.”

    Warm wishes and a Happy New Year to all!

      1. ambrit

        Agreed there. The Raj was somewhat like the old Yugoslavia under Tito. A bunch of competing power centres held together by a strong central force. When WWII finally ended, Britain was a spent force. Then those Mandarins in Washington figured out that if they built up Germany again, Germany would be a counterweight not only against the Soviet Union, but Britain too. Arguably, Britain with its’ post war Labour Party would be a prime candidate for establishing a workable Socialist State in the West. That could not be allowed.
        Don’t forget, up until WWII, the Raj included Burma too. Then you ended up with Burma, India proper, Pakistan, Proto Bangladesh, and a bunch of princely States. Kashmir? Even the Chinese are mixed up in that one. (Let’s agree to not even mention Afghanistan, which could just as easily be called Pashtunistan.)
        The Great Game. The fun never ends!

  4. Uahsenaa

    The Times takes this to be a problem:

    drug arrests by the Organized Crime Control Bureau were down 84 percent

    but if the NYPD’s little fit accidentally brings about the end of our ill-considered drug war (along with lax enforcement of petty offenses that harm no one), then I say let it continue. I’m not sure less policing in this context is a net negative.

    1. Banger

      Though I don’t know for sure I’m sure elements within the NYPD are almost certianly in league with some drug dealers–that’s an important reality of the “drug war” to understand–the media will never report this but you see it in fictional accounts and histories of the Drug Wars most notably by Douglas Valentine. The pattern is to bust the less connected drug dealers and leave the main ones alone–I’ve seen this, personally, back in the day, and I’m sure that nothing has changed.

      1. RUKidding

        I’ve worked in the legal system in USA and Australia (not an attorney). The “going after the small fry drug dealer” gambit is very popular everywhere I’ve lived & worked. Keeps the so-called criminal justice system wheels turning (and lots of cash for lots of people from the cops, the DA, the judges, the Prison Indus Complex, on down).

        I was on a jury once for the most senseless useless waste of time, money, resources “trial” of some incredibly small fry dude who was peddling a teeny tiny amount of crack to homeless people. The WASTE of it all was breathtaking. My fellow jurors duly drank the Kool Aid passed out to them by the Prosecutor that this was the most terriblest heinous ohmyf*ckinggawd horrible crime of the century. Displayed this infinitesimal amount of crack being peddled. Dude was selling it from a frickin bicycle. Got sentenced to some ridiculous amount of jail time. Cha ching cha ching cha ching!!

        Nuts. War on Drugs, my @ss. Been a big money maker for many at the top.

  5. 5th-4985th column

    Slaughter, holy crap. US institutions and officials held other US institutions and officials to account?

    This is her notion of justice: some stilted media hand-wringing once the coast is clear. CIA maintains not just impunity but anonymity for torturers. Pigs not only get away with it but insouciantly keep on lynching black guys. No prosecutions. No mention of prosecutions. Obsessive rumination on the utterly irrelevant issue of torture’s efficacy with no mention of the law that nothing justifies torture.

    Slaughter is insane. You can’t buy that kind of glassy-eyed psychopathy. This county is Germany in 1939. These brainwashed propagandists for torture and murder and aggression will have to be wiped out. Russia has accepted that the USG is not going to let them alone, they will have to fight. They and the rest of the civilized world have conventional superiority on their own terms and more than enough nukes to fight the US to a standstill at the brink of ecocide. Evidently this is what we’ll have to go through to get rid of these psychos. It’s our only chance. Let’s get on with it.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Ever heard of a wage slave winning millions in a lottery, and then managing within a couple of years to lose it all and end up right back where they started?

    That’s the theme of ProPublica’s story about New Jersey’s tobacco bonds. After years as silent partners of the tobacco companies, happily accepting taxes on cigarette sales, states suddenly turned on them under the guidance of Clinton administration antitrust lawyer Joel Klein, and extorted trillions. It was supposed to be a windfall.

    But it never occurred to the extortion gang that their millions of alleged beneficiaries — fictitious creatures called ‘misled smokers’ — wouldn’t just stand still to be soaked. A new market called e-cigarettes appeared. And the usual tax hells such as NY and NJ kept cranking per pack taxes ever higher. How did they expect cigarette sales to hold up, if prices rose out of sight? Evidently they thought cigarettes were like school taxes — just raise taxes as high as you want, and the silly little peeps will dutifully pay up. After all, they’re addicted, aren’t they?

    Sixteen years on from Joel Klein’s strong-arm heist, tobacco bonds are nearing default and it’s costing states money to fix them. Oh, the humanity!

    1. hunkerdown

      They thought that people would wean themselves off smoking if taxes were raised high enough and the total price of cigarettes became less affordable. We know this because they’ve said as much only thousands of times.

      Unless you can explain how They can cash out on this trade, you really need to stop projecting the profit motive onto government.

    1. craazyman

      shopping is a job in itself. How exhausting is shopping? I’d rather work out in a gym for 2 hours than go shopping. I’d much rather lay around doing nothing. Even internet shopping is an exhausting pain in the ass. Especially when you submit a form and it tells you you left somemmthing out. Then it’s all empty when you start over. Oh that sucks.

      if people consider these payments as enabling shopping that otherwise would not take place, they’ll see it in a profitable light.

      This approach has already occurred to me & I’ve give a lot of thought to it. Deep theorectial thinking, I mean theoretical thinking, sorry, that was a typo.

      I’ve considered that the money unity quantity can be broken down into three parts — a private part (no jokes now),, a social part and a systems part. It’s like a vector with 3 elements. When transactions occurr it’s like multiplication of two vectors — outer products, in this case, for you math geeks — each creates an upper diagonal 3 x 3 matrix with values in all rows and columns. the private part measures personal utility creation, the social part measures social utility (cann be positive or negative) and the systems part measures system stability (can be pos or neg). No longer are you confined to one number, you now have 3 numbers and variances and covariances when you calculate economic well being. How do you calculate the social and systems part? Quite eaasily in fact, through the appropriate probability density functions. This really would broaden and deepen the meaning and calculation of national economic conditions. Send the Nobel Prize here: Dr. T. Tremens, GED, PO Box 8, Magonia, 20% discounts offered for cash prize money in lieu of medals

      1. Clive

        By an utterly bizarre coincidence, that’s exactly the same address I was told to write to if I wanted to find out more about how (according to the very tantalising ad which must be legit, because it was on the Internet) a “London mum makes £3,000 a month with just a laptop”. Can I get a multi-buy discount do you think?

      2. ambrit

        P. O. Box “Lucky” 8! This has to be legit! How do I take advantage of this amazing offer? (Your people will tell me how to be taken advantage of, correct?)
        An eager new customer.

      3. participant-observer-observed

        Oh, so maybe you mean that when a transaction has no social value, you get an orthogonal cross-product, showing by the right hand rule that society gets SCREWED !!! ????

      4. not_me

        I’d much rather lay around doing nothing.

        I certainly believe in generous resting (and the Bible supports this, btw, eg. the Sabbath, Sabbatical Years, feast days, etc) but that alone will not allow me to outlive most of my generation (the baby boomers) and look with satisfaction on my former opponents – their graves that is.

        And I have someone whose welfare I’m committed to so I must live for her too.

        So, bottom line: I eat plenty of steamed veggies, walk/jog at least 5 miles a day, do pushups and situps and will work up to a 40 day water only fast, if I can. AND get plenty of rest.

  7. armchair

    A work stoppage has to produce a reduction in crime rates. After all, there will be fewer arrests and less reported crimes. A broken window isn’t a crime if no one gets arrested for it. Also, this will be great news for insurers. They can ask why you didn’t report your stolen property to the police. The insurance company can just shrug when you say the police didn’t come. Another snarky angle is that the police department may end up making the case that they are bloated with too many officers. Perhaps having too many police officers is part of the institutional racism. The cops have too much free time so they pick on people to look busy.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You file most theft reports in police offices in NYC. They aren’t shutting local precincts. So crimes against property will continue to be reported, or at least ones where insurance was involved. The story indicated that what they had stopped doing were penny-ante crimes and minor drug offenses, a big area where blacks get treated differently than whites.

      I should have clarified I meant major crimes like assaults and homicides.

    1. Jackrabbit

      – still nothing done about climate change; but more extreme weather raises concerns; protests

      – Iran talks fail to reach agreement (again) but not extended as Iran turns to SCO

      – Syria severely pressured by ISIS; Iran sends regular troops to Iraq at Iraqis request

      – Russia blamed for Ukrainian hardships / more sanctions applied / Ukrainian hostilities resume

      – SCO adds Iran, India; advances plans for a NATO-like central military command

      – BRICS accelerate plans for alternate financial system (alt-currency; alt-SWIFT; etc.) – to be fully functioning by end of 2016, available to non-SCO countries by 2018

      – low oil prices stimulate western economies but the price rises dramatically by the end of 2015

      – plans announced for manned mission to Mars

      – yes, its Jeb and Hillary

      1. Jackrabbit

        – Trade deals: Obama Administration relaxes terms/reorgs, plays up growing SCO “threat” to clinch trade deals and get ‘fast-track’ authority

    2. Doug Terpstra


      Obama honors campaign promises and hope and change pledges:

      – closes Gitmo

      – prosecutes war crimes, torturers, police murders, and wall street fraud

      – nominates Paul Volcker as new Fed Chair, rescinds derivative refoms and outlaws al future “free” market bailouts

      – withdraws from Afghanistan and Iraq

      – ends war on whistleblowers, pardons Snowden and awards him Medal of Freedom

      – abolishes the CIA, throws Hayden in prison, and reforms NSA and DHS

      – leashes the puppet kingdom of SA; lifts sanctions and opens unconditional talks with Syria, Iran and Russia

      – ends sponsorship of neo-Nazi coup cabal in Ukraine while revealing the truth about Ukraine’s shootdown of MH17

      – ends drone murder campaign

      – repudiates TTP/TTIP and eenegotiates NAFTA to safeguard workers’ rights and environmental protection

      – ends fracking and arctic drilling

      – initiates massive New Deal 2.0 with heavy investment in alternative energy, transportation, sustainable urbanism and micro-permaculture

      – announces foreclosure moratorium and new homestead act

      – implements higher taxes on wealth, capital gains, and inheritance

      – lifts cap on FICA taxes

      – imposes strict moratorium on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, recognizes Palestine, and demands that Netanyahoo immediately comply with international law

      – implements single-payer Medicare for all

      – surrenders himself to The Hague and throws himself on the mercy of the court

      NOTE: I am not accepting wagers at this time on the foregoing predictions.

      1. abynormal

        you brought me to tears Doug.

        the way to create is to burn and destroy
        ordinary concepts and to substitute them
        with new truths that run down from the top of the head
        and out of the heart

      1. RUKidding

        Whilst driving around in a refurbished car lovingly snapped up & brought to Merka by one of those companies already set up to vulture into Cuba and hoover up every single one of those vintage cars.

  8. Garrett Pace

    “I wonder what happens if the crime rate does not go up.”

    I assume you mean violent crime, because the “crime rate” itself has gone down dramatically, with no one being arrested for drugs or cited for public urination.

    1. Carla

      Gee, maybe that means no one has been arrested for sleeping on a park bench or in a parked car, either. A relative of mine was recently arrested for sleeping in his parked car. We cannot allow such behavior!

      1. optimader

        “Gee, maybe that means no one has been arrested for sleeping on a park bench or in a parked car, either. ”
        Well, maybeset your goals incrementally Carla. How about no one gets shot 15 times for sleeping on a parkbench?

        “A relative of mine was recently arrested for sleeping in his parked car.”
        Assuming he was legally parked (not trespassing), didn’t have the keys in the ignition while blowing ethanol, or anything observably illegal going on inside the car he should have been good. Like most things it’s in the details.
        Is it true that you can be arrested for sleeping in your car?
        “…A profile of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas a few years ago mentioned that he likes driving around the country in his RV every summer, and often spends the night in Wal-Mart parking lots, as do many others. Dunno if he ever gets rousted for SWB (“Sleeping while black”)…. ”
        Never slept in a car, butt if I did, I have heard that Walmart parking lots are a place to do it.

        1. hunkerdown

          I think the calculus there is that anyone who can afford to drive an RV can likely afford to make petty harassment not worth the officer’s while.

          1. bruno marr

            WalMart parking lots are private property. “Sleeping in car” rules only apply to public streets (at least in my area).

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Good links. It’s amazing how people get in line to follow the Pied Piper of convenience and march bouncing along accepting the most obvious potential pitfalls of technology. And unfortunately, in a world where corruption rules and promotes and ethical behavior and beliefs loose, the value of just about any technology translates to potential for abuse.

        Of course I’m a Luddite for saying that; after all, some of this “stuff” really does make x, y or z’s life easier, but given a society and system that is totally swept up by corruption, that convenience comes – in every case – at a significant cost. It invariably gives control to others and that WILL be misused – no matter how convenient the object or how well marketed its so called convenience and no matter what pathetic check is in the mail promises are made about security.

        What’s particularly bothersome with these damn household items is that it will get harder and harder (and more expensive) to find anything that is NOT connected to the net. I can see legislation within five years paving the way for the requirement that all household items be connected and more immediately that certain objects (such as furnaces and hot water heaters) are to be connected to and controlled by the power companies (for our convenience, of course – to better ensure our comfort).

        1. hunkerdown

          I trust you are aware that Ned Ludd (the historical figure, not our good comrade) complained not about technology, but who received the spoils from it.

          In this case, there is a plausible benefit to the consumer — kilowatts on the spot market cost well in excess of what they can bill residential customers for them, so it makes business sense to orchestrate high-density energy consumption and stay within the contract market. Presumably the residential consumer gets a chunk of that reward.

          Anything to avoid talking about district heating too cheap to bother metering…

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        Good links. I wrote a reply earlier but anything i write longer than a sentence or two automatically goes into moderation (an algorithm with compassion for others I guess).

  9. ambrit

    After reading the WSJ piece on the flu, I tried to cross click to a piece about Obamas’ last two years and hit the pay wall. Oh well. The first paragraph, a teaser if you will, made me laugh out loud. Obama came into office with a Leftist agenda! Oh my, what a bunch of bollocks! Do these people really believe what they are printing? Just after Hurricane Katrina, we spent several hours with a young woman who worked for the WSJ. She was touring the disaster zone and stayed with us for an afternoon getting the ‘feel’ of the place. A very bright person who did a very good bit of reporting. I cannot imagine that woman falling for the obvious ‘messaging’ going on in this Obama hit piece. Where have the good journalists gone?

      1. ambrit

        Or perhaps anything having to do with what’s “left” after the elites have skimmed their “share.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In a non-Euclidean political geometry, you go right to get to the left.

          Thus, Banger (I think) mentioned the other day that the extreme right and extreme left could come together.

          “Toto, this is no Kansas. Nothing is flat here.”

          1. ambrit

            “…the extreme right and the extreme left could come together.”
            They did once, when the WWI German General Staff facilitated Lenins’ return to Russia. (That worked out really well for all concerned, eh?)
            Then there is the Democratic Party of America and their embrace of neo-liberalism. Oh wait, you said “extreme” left, didn’t you. My bad, their shame.
            Actually, now that I muse about it for a while, that might be better described as non-Euclidian political geo-mancy. Mother Earth will set the rules, we will pay the cost.

            1. Banger

              Actually I mentioned it a long time ago–much depends on what you call the extreme right of course. What I don’t mean by extreme right is the Koch brothers and their cynical band of operatives. What I mean are not-authoritarian libertarians and Alex Jones types (not specifically him but those that appear on his program). There is no correlation, btw, between the German right in WWI or between the wars and the right I speak of in the U.S. Totally different societies, if you know both cultures (I do) even today.

              1. ambrit

                By German right in WWI and inter-war, are you referring to the Junker class? I somehow find it difficult to imagine the Krupps as ideological rightists. (One too many viewings of Viscontis’ “The Damned” will do that to you. Now, I could see an indie version of that film being updated to todays neo-liberal elite.)

            1. Banger

              Good point….

              I don’t know–some of it you see here. Extreme left would be anyone who believes that all people have worth beyond wealth and social class and want society to be arranged so all of us benefit from abundance and suffer from deprivation more or less equally.

              1. optimader

                It would be illuminating to see a list differentiating historical results of extreme left and right social models.

              2. Ulysses

                Actually you can find the extreme left in surprising places and times. I overheard people at a Methodist Church potluck in suburban Illinois– agreeing on a class analysis of the present day U.S., that would make Angela Davis sound like a Rotarian banker, lol.

              3. Doug Terpstra

                That sounds a whole lot like authentic Christianity and the constitutional “body” of the early Church. I always thoughty Jesus was/is a certifiable small-c communist. OTOH, nationalist Curchianity today with its conveniently selective Old Testament justice, its myriad sectarian rifts, its patriotic creeds and gospel of private prosperity are RADICAL inversions, renunciations, of its founding covenants.

            2. buffalo cyclist

              A meeting of US extreme leftists in the US could take place in a single phone booth (if such a thing still exists). I think Kshama Sawant, the Seattle City Councilwoman, qualifies as “extreme left”. Ted Rall, the blacklisted cartoonist, also qualifies. Maybe Howie Hawkins, the recent Green Party candidate for governor of New York, and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan. And that’s about it in the US.

            3. flora

              Oh, how I wish the “The extreme left.” was a simple, declarative sentence, where “left” is a verb and “extreme” is a noun.

          2. optimader

            Three right 90degree turns get you back where you started.. things are not as they appear if your looking to closely in both political and spherical geometry

            1. Alejandro

              “Three right 90degree turns get you back where you started..”

              That’s only true if you travel the same distance before each turn.

              1. craazyman

                You could walk in a rectangle and go two different distances, but you’d have to walk the same distances twice. I figured that out walking on bookshelf-width boards I bought at Home Depot and tracking myself with a compass and a pedometer.

                -Maxwell Plank

                1. ambrit

                  But craazyman, Plancks are not consistent over time! What used to be a 2″x4″ is now, through evolutionary regression, a 1and 5/8″ x 3 and 3/16.”
                  I like your methodology though. Four square and true.

    1. hunkerdown

      Stringers gonna string…

      It’s better to think of the WSJ as Awake! for middle-management Randites than any sort of impartial chronicle.

      1. ambrit

        Oh, do you mean to say they are both printed at that big communal production centre Straight out of Brooklyn?
        Oy veh!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe, but the theory goes that humanity becomes extinct before humans.

      Thus, we need to set up early warming detectors to see if humanity is still there.

    2. Vatch

      Aw, heck, our ancestors survived the giant Toba eruption 75,000 years ago. There may have been as many as 20,000 humans remaining (10,000 “breeding pairs”)! I’m a little concerned, though. My stone age flint knapping skills aren’t up to par.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We made it out of Africa with only a few…may not even be a thousand.

        But water was sweet and air clean back then, though.

        This time, it’s different.

  10. Dan Lynch

    Re: “a much larger scale, 40 year experiment produced the opposite result, allowing employers to keep wages low and producing pauperization of the poor and greater wage disparity.”

    I look forward to your post on the subject. In the meantime, it’s important to note that the Canadian MinCome was a means-tested BIG, not a Universal BIG (UBI). The economic differences between a BIG and a UBI are huge. Like MLK and Uncle Milt, I advocate a BIG, not a UBI. I can easily imagine how a UBI could suppress wages and end up benefitting employers more than ordinary people.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am partial to People’s Federal Reserve (or reformed Barefoot bankers) where new (People’s) money printed, make that ‘created,’ belongs to the People directly and immediately.

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The job wasn’t quite finished with the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.

    Luckily (or perhaps it was foresight) Saddam was misled to invade Kuwait a year earlier in 1990 and imperial military presence was ‘appropriately’ equipped, for that time, to do some projection. Since then, more presence has been required in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and elsewhere in Russia’s southern sector, setting it up for the imperial currency legions to march on Moscow, winter or no winter (take that, the Grande Armee and Wehrmacht!!!).

    Once the Bear is tamed, in the near future hopefully, as a neoliberal pet, China can expected to get back to working hard to earn something she can’t print – imperial money.

  12. PeonInChief

    A couple of points on New York policing:

    Every African American and Latino parent tells her kids to be very careful in dealing with the police. Any number of studies have shown that the police (no matter what their color) are more likely to shoot African American and Latino men. That’s why white people don’t get shot when holding a cell phone.

    What the cop “strike” will point out is the degree to which government at all levels has become dependent on the harassment of young men of color, the poor etc. with arrests for petty “crimes”. In California, where the government can’t easily raise taxes, the fines and fees for traffic violations have become a major support for government operations. The cops are simply the enforcers for government policy. Matt Taibbi wrote about the effect of these policies in The Divide, where poor nonwhite men are arrested for loitering in front of the buildings where they live.

  13. Scylla

    Re: Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical

    I am seeing so much hype about this all over the net, and how he is going to go after climate deniers, etc. I will not deny that I will be happy to see him take such a position, however I find myself wondering if the Catholic church will put its money where its mouth is and reverse its stance on birth control. Lets be real here, if Pope Francis truly cares about the effects of climate change (and the environment as a whole), this would be the most substantive step he could take. I have a feeling I will be disappointed and that he will simply point fingers at others rather than address harmful policies within his own organization. Pope Francis talks the good talk, just like many others. I guess we will see if this leads to any real action.

    1. Banger

      I think we can do without the petty sniping at the Pope. He is a major historical figure at this time no matter what you think of the Church. He is trying to finish the work for peace and reconciliation that John XXIII (he was involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis)–had that Pope not died I may have kept being a Catholic–who knows? The fact Francis is inserting himself into this crisis (and it is a crisis) says a lot about him and the Church–maybe it isn’t as rotten as many of us have believed.

      1. davidgmills

        I think Scylla hit the nail on the head.

        Overpopulation was always a real threat to humanity; global warming, not so much. All the predictions in the 60’s about the upcoming population explosion and its ill effects have come true. But the prediction twenty years ago about what the global temperature would be by now was not even close, since no global warming (or at most miniscule warming) has occurred since then. (No global warming to speak of in the last 18 years seems to be the only genuine consensus on global warming).

        The Catholic church, with its policy of no-abortion, is at the forefront of overpopulation, so I buy
        Scyllia’s point.

        1. bruno marr

          No global warming? Are you kidding? The ocean temps are rising. It is the oceans (water has an enormous latent heat capacity) that are mediating the increase in global (air) temps. The energy that is being dissolved in the ocean will find its way back into the atmosphere and expected weather patterns will either be disrupted or intensified. A climate change that the in-place infrastructure is ill-suited to accommodate. See Sandy. See Philipine Islands. See your local flood control district after the unexpected “200 year storm”.

          1. cwaltz

            The water temp rising is a real problem too since essentially water vapor is the primary greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.

      2. hunkerdown

        Or, alternately, maybe it is (save for Pope Francis), and upper management would sooner blow the whole thing up than get their fingers out of the laity’s pants. ‘Tis the eve for predictions, and St. Malachy certainly has produced some.

      3. Scylla

        Petty sniping? Seriously?

        I think most everyone here will acknowledge that the human population is already much too large, and the Catholic church as an institution encourages baby making by forbidding the use of EFFECTIVE birth control through doctrine. I do appreciate that the current Pope is making positive statements, but they are just that: statements. Pope Francis’ efforts to influence policymakers’ actions is better than nothing, however we must remember that the Catholic church has the power to make changes ITSELF. Reversing the doctrinal stance on birth control would go a long way to lower future carbon emissions, habitat loss, resource depletion, and many many other deadly serious issues. There is nothing petty about my comment. I am pointing to a specific problematic Catholic policy that the Church leadership could alter that would have a very positive impact. This is something that is within the power of the church to do. I think it is wonderful that Pope Francis is trying to take a leadership role here, but he should lead by example. Otherwise any statement he makes is simply “Do as I say, not as I do”.

        I too was raised as a Catholic and I certainly have not revealed to you my feelings regarding the church to you. Anyone, Catholic or otherwise, can see the problematic nature of some church doctrine. The Catholic church and its leadership are not immune to criticism nor are they entitled to any more consideration or respect that is not due to any other organization. The current Pope has said many wonderful things that we all support, but so did a certain president once upon a time. Words need to be translated into substance, and I suppose we will all see what really happens once the encyclical is published.

        1. savedbyirony

          In countries were it is available, yes. In countries were the RCC still has major political influence, no – but not because catholics don’t want to use contraceptions and i’ve seen a number of polls that back that up.

          Back in the seventies, under Pope Paul Vl, the RCC convened a broad committee of “experts” from various fields ranging from the medical to theological on this issue (and related others) which recommended the catholic church changes its doctrine about this and was much anticipated by catholics. Paul Vl was scared off and JPII worked hard to shut the conversation down and scare people working for the institutional church from pushing for this long-over due change. I agree that Francis should work seriously to change this doctrine officially, especially as he claims to care so much for the poor. Better off catholics have access to and use safe birth control without any ramifications from the church. Everyone knows this. But the poor continue to suffer because of the RCC’s hypocritical stance towards medical birth control, as opposed to what they call “natural family planning”, which power-hungry prelates love to use for political and other sorts of manipulation.

          1. hunkerdown

            It’s not hypocritical; it’s the self-defense exception. Perpetually horny people make for more obedient and committed followers. If one can make them feel guilty about their need, even better.

            1. savedbyirony

              I meant hypocritical in the sense that their arguments against medical forms of contraception, such as the pill, apply just as well (or poorly) to their own NFP method. (granted, nfp isn’t really intended to work well). i don’t disagree with your comments about obedience and guilt.

    2. psychohistorian

      When the pope starts talking about ongoing accumulation of private property and inheritance, along with population “control”, hell will be freezing over.

      Xtianity and the above stated underpinnings of Western society are mutually supportive TINA aspects of our species that we can’t seem to evolve beyond.

      Xtianity and associated religions need to be relegated to the myth status they deserve, ownership of any property needs to be replaced by 99 year lease agreements and changed rules of inheritance need to eliminate the God of Mammon virus the global rich have infected our species with.

      And I want these changes ALL made in 2015!

  14. Howard Beale IV

    Ambac Sues B of A Over Countywide Mortgage Bonds: Chicago Tribune

    In a complaint filed on Tuesday in a New York state court in Manhattan, Ambac accused Countrywide of lying about how well it underwrote so-called “pay option adjustable-rate mortgage negative amortization” loans that backed the securities.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Stop kidding yourself. The police were created to control the working class and the poor.

    Also seriously not kidding – economics was created to manage the manorial household.

    Thus, we have ‘the economic world according to the Lord of the Manor’ and inflation is not serf-friendly (food inflation – wage inflation, the proper way basically to measure whether you as a serf can out-maneuver starvation) and unemployment is not about how many are not participating in serfdom, but how many ‘willing’ slaves are left in the auction market before other lords bid up their prices.

    And Manorial Household Economics is taught everywhere – in Kansas, Berkeley, the Senate…

    1. davidgmills

      The police and military serve the same functions in our neo-feudalistic society as the knights did in historic feudalism.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Year 2014, I want to say to you, ‘Go away quickly,’ but then, 2015 could be worse and perhaps then it’s ‘2014, stay a little longer. Don’t leave just yet.’

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Big Brother…DARPA…Mighty Surveillance System.

    I also see fascinating new technology just over the horizon, something like James Bond nano-drones that a captured agent can release by urinating.

    “Excuse, my dear totalitarian state captor, I need to go to the bathroom.”

  18. Jef

    Mother with the mentality of a two year old, leaves loaded, cocked, safety off hand gun with infant for safe keeping.

    Darwin Award Winner as they say.

    1. abynormal

      Jef…“No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”
      P.J. O’Rourke

        1. abynormal

          JoeJoe, so nice to hear from you and what a GEM you’ve shared!
          HAPPY NEW YEAR to you, myFriend.

          great quotes in the piece:
          They probably tell themselves: “I possess all these things alone. I am so clever, I am an important man. I am rich!”

          Their thoughts are constantly attached to their merchandise. They do not think that they are spoiling the earth and the sky, and that they will never be able to recreate new ones.

          They even take their crumbling houses from them and force them to camp outside in the rain with their children. It scared me to see such a thing.

          If one of our people is killed by arrows or sorcery blowpipes we only respond by trying to kill the enemy who ate him. This is different from the wars with which the white people mistreat each other. They fight in great numbers. They even kill their women and children.

          When they speak about the forest, white people often use the word “environment”. What they refer to in this way is what remains of everything they have destroyed so far. I don’t like this word.

          1. abynormal

            “Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests,
            and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his
            Ralph Waldo Emerson

        2. Vatch

          “People in the west live squeezed together, frenzied as wasps in the nest”

          It isn’t just the people in the west. It’s people all over; here’s a list of the world’s densest cities. More than 111,000 people per square mile in Manila, more than 42,000 per square kilometer. That’s scary! Surprisingly, there’s only one Chinese city (Macau) on the list of the 50 densest. Perhaps that’s because China has so many factories, which reduces the amount of real estate available for residential structures.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Two countries take a principled stand in favor of illegal occupation:

    The United Nations Security Council rejected a resolution requiring Israel to withdraw from territories it captured more than four decades ago.

    The UN measure, introduced by Jordan, failed by a vote of 8-2 in the Security Council yesterday, falling one short of the nine needed for approval.

    The U.S. and Australia voted against the measure, while five nations on the 15-member council abstained.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We also need ‘Popular Vote’ instead of the permanent Big Five vetoing things.

      Then, China will be ‘properly’ reckoned with and Gore would have won.

      1. davidgmills

        The real problem with the electoral college is that it makes voting irrelevant in about 40 states.

        1. jrs

          On the plus side, it spares 40 states being swamped with election propaganda till they can’t even see straight anymore, and all for a choice of one duopolist or another without that much to separate them. I’m not sure the benefit of one’s voice supposedly “counting” (by voting for Obama versus Romney or Jeb versus Hillary) is worth the mind corruption.

  20. jerry denim

    I finally punched out of NYC this past spring for warmer more relaxed environs after 14 years in the city. I have found the soft-coup actions of the NYPD disturbing and reminiscent of Ecuador’s attempted police coup of 2010. I was happy to see the NYT double down and take a bit of a stand against the NYPD’s behavior but they still stopped way short of identifying the Police behavior for what it really is; a direct assault on democracy as well as a threatened coup.

    The NYT piece is spot on, except for one other thing: the NYPD was NEVER interested in traffic enforcement during the years I lived there, (2001-2014) but parking tickets and petty citations were a different matter altogether. During my time in NYC I witnessed a police department far more interested in collecting revenue than fighting crime. The NYPD “traffic” cops would ticket AND tow your car faster than you could turn off the ignition but despite hundreds of deaths and thousands of serious pedestrian and cyclist injuries every year, exactly ZERO traffic summons were issued by the midtown south precinct in 2012. In all the rest of Manhattan in 2012 there were only a couple dozen. Killing anyone with a car in New York is the perfect crime because it almost guarantees you will get away with murder scott-free, irregardless of how criminally reckless and negligent you may have been. If you were drunk or if you flee the scene there is only the tiniest of chances the police will put forth the effort to charge you and even then odds are good you will walk if you can afford a lawyer.

    If things with the PBA and DeBlasio ever cool off and the police decide to go back to doing their jobs as they did when Doomberg was mayor, instead of choking guys trying to squeak out a living selling loose cigarettes and focusing on generating lots of revenue for the city with parking tickets and hundreds of thousands of petty citations issued on a quota system it would be great if the cops of New York could actually enforce some traffic laws. You know, if they’re not too busy feeling victimized, unappreciated, murdering, raping or just threatening a coup against the democratically elected mayor of New York.

    If anyone thinks I’m hyperventilating or being over the top check out these links:

  21. Jim

    Issues for 2015: Status, Vanity, Ressentment and Downward Mobility

    Across the political spectrum there has always been a strong concern with status but it is rarely publicly discussed.

    If downward mobility continues to accelerate how will it effect our collective and individual status concerns?

    If downward mobility continues to accelerate will we be entering an era where a new politics built around status anxiety could begin to take shape?

    What role will envy, pride and ressentment play in a politics of downward mobility?

    Is a declining middle class still capable of formulating a positive political vision based on more and more direct experience with downward mobility?

    Will the direct experience of the likelihood of downward mobility for many of us in the West in the 21st century have a similar political/cultural impact to the direct experience of upward the 16th through 20th centuries in the West?

  22. buffalo cyclist

    There’s a blatantly corporatist pro-TPP article on Business Insider. What’s really interesting are the all highly negative reader comments (even some right-wingers bash the article). I expect that from now on the Koch Brothers and the Obama administration will pay trolls to post pro-TPP comments as the TPTB don’t want to lose control of the debate.

  23. Ysaac

    “This City Eliminated Poverty, And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It Huffington Post (martha r, margarita f). As we will discuss next week, a much larger scale, 40 year experiment produced the opposite result, allowing employers to keep wages low and producing pauperization of the poor and greater wage disparity. Note that is the conclusion of a prominent socialist.”

    Yves,sorry I didnt quite understand whether you were being sarcastic here and what your position on this idea is. Are you seriously going to be releasing a story regarding how a basic income idea was misused? It would be VERY interesting if you did.

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