Links 1/10/15

What People Asked the New York Public Library Before Google Laura C. Mallonee (martha r)

Professional Cuddlers Embrace More Clients Wall Street Journal

Computer program ‘perfect at poker’ BBC (David L)

Bitcoin’s upcoming capital crisis FT Alphaville

Book sales up as readers stay true to type Financial Times. Dunno about you, but I barely used a Kindle. I don’t like looking at books that all look the same, typeface and layout wise. And I find that “sameness” makes it harder for me to recall the exact source of things I’ve read.

Mapping the World’s Problems New York Times (David L)

Danish research links circumcision to autism Copenhagen Post (martha r)

Researchers find exposure to nanoparticles may threaten heart health PhysOrg (Robert M)

Companies Pay Millions To Promote Some Of Their Most Unremarkable Drugs ProPublica

Once More, the Hospital CEO as Scrooge – Cape Cod Healthcare CEO Collected Millions in Severance After Laying Off Hundreds of Health Professionals, and Being Sanctioned by the State Medical Board Health Care Renewal

The Erosion of Law Project Syndicate

Global supply chains and the transmission of shocks VoxEU

Europe’s deflation risk leaves no option but quantitative easing Financial Times (Scott). *Groan*. It won’t solve the problem.


Why I am running for a parliamentary seat on SYRIZA’s ticket Yanis Varoufakis

How to reduce the Greek debt burden? Bruegel

Greece Is a Crime Scene, and Vulture Funds Are to Blame Greg Palast, Truthout (RR)

Hebdo Fallout. Lambert will have more in-depth coverage in Links tomorrow.

Days of Sirens, Fear and Blood: ‘France Is Turned Upside Down’ New York Times

The Delegitimization of Israel CounterPunch (Chuck L)


Evidence Points to Syria Still Working on a Nuclear Weapon Der Spiegel. Martha r: “spiegel is reliable source ……. right? :)”

5 Months of Air Strikes in Iraq and Syria in 4 Charts Defense One (furzy mouse)


Gorbachev warns of major war in Europe over Ukraine Reuters (martha r)

Russia Cut to One Step Above Junk by Fitch on Oil, Sanctions Bloomberg. That pretty much guarantees no Russian company will be rated higher.

US prosecutors recommend criminal charges against Petraeus: N.Y. Times Reuters

How Wisconsin Became The First State to Mandate Outside Investigations of Fatal Police Shootings Real News Network

An NAACP Office Was Bombed on Tuesday — And Nobody Seems to Care Mic (martha r)

Great Lakes teeming with tiny plastic fibers: scientists Chicago Tribune (Robert M)


A history lesson on the perils facing oil and gas investors (Scott) John Dizard, Financial Times

New drilling affected by oil price fall Financial Times


Friday lay day – unemployment is a pernicious state Bill Mitchell. In fact, it’s state terrorism.

Unemployment Rate Drops Due to Almost Half a Million More Not in Labor Force Economic Populist. Good to see these guys working those charts once more.

Gross Says Wage Growth Not Enough to Sustain U.S. Expansion Bloomberg

Hiring Booms, but Soft Wages Linger WSJ. If you consider permanently higher disemployment and crapified jobs a “boom.”

The economy’s broken record: Lots of jobs, but no raises WaPo

Wage Growth – or Lack of – Continues to Surprise Tim Duy. Why is this a surprise? Disproportionate hiring in McJobs.

The Wage Weakness May Not Be as Bad as It Seems Bloomberg

Why Your Wages Are Idling in Neutral American Prospect

An Economic Warning? Menzie Chinn, Ecnobrowser

Guest post by Tom Adams: Obama homeownership push or mortgage market share battle? mathbabe

Have Large Scale Asset Purchases Increased Bank Profits? Juan Antonio Montecino and Gerald Epstein

Class Warfare

29-year-old leaves NFL and $37 million contract to become farmer in order to feed the hungry Daily Kos. Doug: ” I just learned about this from November …. and while it’s a bit dated, it is the kind of special, good news worth sharing.”

Antidote du jour (Patrick). From the Seattle Zoo:

seattle zoo lion cubs links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. dearieme

    “unemployment is a pernicious state … In fact, it’s state terrorism”

    I do dislike the way people use words such as “slavery” or “terrorism” in feeble analogies. It cheapens the horrors of the real things. Shame on you, Yves.

    1. mike

      Yes, because “terrorism” is only blood and destroyed lives accompanied by tears and wailing. Intentional state (in)action that leads to increased but bloodless and quiet death and misery on larger scales than “terrorism” isn’t a “real thing.” What could you be thinking, Yves?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Unemployment being state terrorism may be the truth but not the whole truth.

        It leaves Big Business out of that description.

        Unless we find this to be true: State = Big Business.

        In that case, we better oppose the state being able to print and spend as much as it wants.

    2. Ben Johannson

      The threat of unemployment has always been used as a measure to discipline workers. Fear keeps them in line and under control, which sounds like terrorism to me.

      1. dearieme

        A job-destroying piece of legislation such as Obamacare is just as much terrorism as 9/11? Bollocks.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Could we call it fearism? Desperationism? How about horrorism? Financial terrorism can indeed inflict existential pain and chronic shame and anguish so profound and terrifying that death by one’s own hand seems the only relief. Can you imagine any greater horror? Karma is a cruel bitch; I wish she was more selective in her blowback targets.

        2. Cynthia

          Now imagine a system where medicine isn’t delivered for a profit. Hospitals still cling to the “good old days,” awash in wealth, still paying their CEO’s seven and even eight figure salaries, buying up physician practices as fast as they can to eliminate competition and charge higher fees. All they need is a mask and a gun, then their outfit would be complete.

        3. lord koos

          It doesn’t seem a stretch that a million American jobs lost could result in the premature deaths of more people that were killed in the 9/11 attacks. One of the things that unemployment and poverty bring is stress, and lots of it.

        4. Ray Phenicie

          The Affordable Care Act involves a transfer of billions of dollars from the bank accounts of millions of individuals to the health care insurance industry-as well as to the associated subcontractors who do authorizations for care and supplies. In addition, medical practitioners will see increased traffic into their offices (putatively a good thing) so they can be in on the take as well. But meanwhile millions are coerced into participation in a program which will not make them healthier or better cared for; the health care system is still broken. The already broken health care system does not and cannot deliver better care. We isolate the role of the practitioners and facilities and think that by allowing lucky few to access to those offices and facilities-we think this constitutes health care; we forget that there is the social context of health care. We are a neglectful society of each other and state run programs like the ACA only cover this up; the iron fist beneath the gloved hand that doles out so called care still grinds down on us unmercifully. We are not talking about health care when we talk about the ACA; we are talking about a political act to put on the appearance of care. The real act is one of strengthening the tyrannical forces that center in the major power centers of this country.

          While it is hard to categorize the exact nature of this coercive transfer of funds to the health care industry, it is not benign and it is not based on democratic principles. It is a form of authoritarian state organized tyranny and is a continuation of the building of a police state that has been going on since the Truman administration. And so yes, the ACA is another brick in the wall of state organized tyranny which imprisons us. And so yes, terrorism. The present regime (in power since the appointment of Harry Truman as Vice President) is based on maintaining a rule of tyranny and fear.

          1. Ray Phenicie

            Another brick in the wall of state run (via large corporate power structures) terror, fear and tyranny. Vying for Market Share, Companies Heavily Promote ‘Me Too’ Drugs

            “For more than five decades, the blood thinner Coumadin was the only option for millions of patients at risk for life-threatening blood clots. But now, a furious battle is underway among the makers of three newer competitors for the prescription pads of doctors across the country. The manufacturers of these drugs — Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis — have been wooing physicians in part by paying for meals, promotional speeches, consulting gigs and educational gifts. In the last five months of 2013, the companies spent nearly $19.4 million on doctors and teaching hospitals, according to ProPublica’s analysis of federal data released last fall.”

            Another example of how our so called health care system is broken.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thank you.

        As I have mentioned before, we have to increase our awareness of not just physical violence, but emotional violence as well.

        Long term nagging can actually shorten the victim’s life span.

    3. Light a Candle

      For sure, unemployment is state-sponsored terrorism, it keeps a terrified population compliant and off-balance. Maybe a few adjectives would help? i.e. state-sponsored, sneaky, long-term terrorism.

    4. McKillop

      To dislike, personally, how words are used or misused literally or figuratively is perfectly fine.
      Why do you consider your dislike to be a matter for which Yves should warrant shame?
      Especially in these times words such as terrorism are very much abused – and often to provoke control and injustice against everyday comments and protestations.
      You might reconsider your judgement of Yves, based on a throw-away comment, especially in light of what others have had to say.

    5. Benedict@Large

      Bill Mitchell is of the MMT school of macroeconomics. One of the prime demonstrations of that school is that a (first world) country’s unemployment rate is entirely determined by the fiscal policies of their government. This means that all unemployment therein is deliberate. Since the general reason why countries want internal unemployment is to scare their citizens and make them more docile and compliant, and since these same goals are often the goals of terrorists, Mitchell is not stretching much in calling the two to be the same.

    6. Ray Phenicie

      More on how folks are kept under the thumb of the top 0.3% =

      worth reading the whole article but here’s the crunchier parts:

      “The neo-liberal Groupthink has managed to convince societies that unemployment is an individual failing when before the 1980s we clearly understood that it was the result of a systemic failure of the economy to produce enough jobs.

      It has been an extraordinary exercise involving associations between ridiculous and spurious articles being published in mainstream academic journals, vehement hectoring from politicians and business leaders etc, which has contrived a new nomenclature that has been relentlessly rehearsed in the media – dole bludgers, leaners, cruisers, job snobs, etc

      Surveys show how successful this three decade campaign has been. Even though the robust research shows that a miniscule fraction of those who are unemployed would prefer to live on income support and never work, the reality is ignored as this carefully crafted message is pumped out without cessation.

      There is a resistance from the inner crowd (the Group), which perpetuates the myth about unemployment, to anyone who dares challenge the mainstream view. The Groupthink is very powerful.

      It then leads to poorly crafted policies, which fail to achieve any desirable goals and amount to state terrorism. But these failures have unintended consequences, most of which arise from the extreme social alienation that accompanies unemployment.”

    1. Carolinian

      Long form reading on a Kindle takes some getting used to and after owning one for a couple of years I still can’t say it’s as comfortable as a real book. However the advantages of great portability and control over text size (good for us geezers) are a big plus. Readability wise the Paperwhite is definitely better than the earlier Kindles.

    2. katiebird

      I am completely indifferent to the delivery method of fiction. Whether it’s a physical book, an ereader of any sort or an audiobook — I get lost in the story to the point where I don’t even know where I am or what’s going on around me. Which is why I only listened to an audiobook once while driving to work. I got there without any memory of the commute!!

      But I don’t like ereaders for nonfiction. I seem to need the physical pages to nail down the source and to imprint the information in my memory. I don’t retain the stuff I read on the Internet they way I do reading magazines.

      So I use my Nook for fiction reading (and now that I have the glow-light I can read in bed!) carrying around my whole library (I love to reread novels). But only have very few non fiction books in that collection.

      1. diptherio

        “I get lost in the story to the point where I don’t even know where I am or what’s going on around me.”

        Lucky! That has only really happened to me once, when I was a kid. Probably fourth grade or so. I finished a test early, and so dove into reading Where the Red Fern Grows. I swear I was seeing the story, totally immersed visually and aurally, totally oblivious to the world.

        At some point I felt a tap on my shoulder, and looked up. All the other kids had finished their test, the bell had rung, and everyone had lined up at the door and gone outside for recess…and I hadn’t even noticed! I was rather shocked to look up and find myself sitting in an empty room, with the teacher looking down at me quizzically, asking if I wanted to go outside.

        It’s never happened since I’ve been an adult though, that I could totally tune out the world like that. Your imagination must have maintained that childish intensity that mine lost. I’m jealous…

        1. katiebird

          I guess I am lucky — It’s so natural to me that I never realized how rare it is to have that sort of focus. I can focus like that when I’m deep in a project too (not so much in the early phases of projects though) … I think it’s a technique I developed living in a family of 8 kids (I’m the oldest) and no quiet space for homework. I just learned to tone everyone/everything out.

      2. optimader

        Audiobooks by a long shot for me.
        I have been back on two books a week for the past couple years due to the accessibility of the format –after degenerating down to a couple hardcopy books a quarter at best.
        I will buy or barrow through library the occasional hardcopy if unavailable or when its technical/graphic rich in nature.

      3. BobW

        Word of warning: reading laptop (w/Calibre e-reader, for example) in bed risks falling asleep and relearning gravity.

      4. Lisa FOS

        I’m the same, the great escape from reality. I also agree about real books being far better for technical non-fiction (though e-readers are ok for soft stuff like history, etc). But the great attraction to me is being able to have so many books available. I’ve got over 1,000 on my Kindle, that’s a lot of space to use up on paper books. But I am blessed/cursed with having a very high reading speed.

        1. Jessica

          I love the ease of highlighting on a non-fiction e-book and displaying just the highlights later as a way to review. For longer traveling, e-books are a godsend.
          I do wish it were not a monopoly product.
          One can protect oneself against Amazon somewhat by making a copy of the My Kindle Content folder, preferably onto a removable medium. Of course, if the need to use that folder arose, you would need to disable your Internet connection while you did…..

            1. Larry B.

              There are ways of stopping Amazon from reclaiming a book. The open source “Calibre” program copies books from your Kindle onto a computer’s hard drive. There is a plugin available to defeat the Kindle DRM encryption. Once you do that, your book is safe.

        1. cwaltz

          :( I can’t imagine not reading fiction from time to time when real life gets hard and depressing. Reading was a huge coping mechanism for me growing up.

  2. markf

    a few months ago

    “The world’s oldest-known wild bear has died of old age in northern Minnesota, quietly coming to her final resting place in a shady spot that a bear would find as a good place for a nap, a leading state researcher said Tuesday.

    The decomposed corpse of the female American black bear, known to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources researchers as Bear No. 56, was found last Wednesday by state researcher Karen Noyce in the Chippewa National Forest near Marcell. The bear was 39 ½ years old.

    “She had left her home range … looking for food, apparently,” Noyce said. “I was surprised in her state that she would do that. She was just lying in a wooded spot, next to a little bit of a low area, a shady area. It was a kind of place a bear would lay down and take a midday nap.”

  3. steviefinn

    Thanks for the Silicone Dioxide link – i can now add it to my ever increasing list of possible reasons for my 5 cardiac arrests last August. I have used silicone rubber to make moulds for the last 35 years & as the product was declared as not being in any particular way toxic, I was not over careful in it’s preparation. i wonder if the problems described are limited to the manufacture of items containing SD or do they persist when the componds have become inert or the finished article. They are used for breast & other medical implants, tablets & many other applications as shown in the link below.

    The possible causes of my & many others health problems continues to increase & many besides the usual suspects it seems are caused by man made additives, particularly in food. Omega – 6 in processed food appears to be a growing suspect as are foods high in pottassium such as the low sodium salt that I used for many years as I thought it was an healthier option – of course Stevie’s wild years didn’t help.

      1. steviefinn

        The filler they use in all grades of silicon is silica. As the mould making is low grade in contains a high percentage of silica in order to keep the price down. The version used for breast implants is a much higher grade so hopefully this means less risk from the above.

  4. Andrew Watts

    RE: Danish research links circumcision to autism

    As somebody who was diagnosed by a doctor as a highly functional autistic at an early age and who had a behavioral specialist as a parent I feel confident in saying circumcision has nothing to do with the early childhood development of autism. Quite simply my brain functions differently than non-autistic people. This was consistently proven time and again in a variety of tests that were continued until my early teen years when I finally got tired of being treated like a lab rat.

    I think there’s a variety of factors that determine the existence and severity of the condition. These include environmental factors like irregular development while the fetus is still in the womb and possibly genetic factors which favor the emergence of autism in males over females as well as other issues. Physical damage or abnormalities to the amygdala and pituitary gland and their function are potential factors.

    1. Demeter

      As the mother of an autistic daughter, I’d sure like to know why anyone thinks circumcision has ANYTHING to do with developing autism.

      Relevant facts I have learned in 31 years of observation, experimentation, and research:

      Autism is genetic. Parents with logical minds (engineers, lawyers, etc) can now meet and marry through equal opportunity education and employment, which wasn’t true for centuries due to discrimination against women. (Logical-thinking women were more likely not to marry or reproduce at all–the spinster schoolmarm, or the woman who didn’t want to endure pre-birth-control fertility risks.) These couples tend to produce autistic children, because the DNA in a fertilized egg tends to make or accumulate multiple copies of genes as part of the randomization of evolution. If those genes affect the nervous system, there is an optimum level of copies: too few and a slow thinker results, too many, and autism is the outcome. Hit it just right, and you have an engineer, physicist, etc. The “optimal” individuals can still display “shadow syndrome”: autistic traits at a much less severe level, more a tendency or quirk than a full-blown impairment.

      Autism leaves physical markers. These can include external markers such as macrocephaly (very large skulls, 120% of average, for example) and internal markers, such as the size of the amygdala and other inner-brain organs, detectable through MRI.

      (Autism is a symptom, by the way, not a disease. Many different genetic combinations can produce autistic behaviors, which is why there is a spectrum. Only rudimentary differentiation between different types of genetic conditions has been defined by the research, which is still in its infancy.)

      Even the highest-functioning person with autism is at a severe disadvantage in society, Temple Grandin notwithstanding. The victim cannot recover; it is how well s/he can cope that we see and applaud.

      Males with autism tend to be more in the “classic” autistic mode: either the rocking, head-banging style or the Asperger’s mode (which for some reason is being lumped back into the undifferentiated category).

      Females are more often categorized as PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental delays-not otherwise specified).
      The implication is that some of those genes are on the X and Y chromosones, and most likely a daughter needs two really bad X chromosomes to get the full whammy.

      By the way, Temple Grandin’s parents met at Harvard…both highly intellectually gifted people.

      1. Andrew Watts

        “I’d sure like to know why anyone thinks circumcision has ANYTHING to do with developing autism.”

        I believe they’re trying to stigmatize autistics and promote their political agenda with regards to circumcision. My first response to that article was “F—- those people”. I usually don’t talk about autism but that article triggered a response due to it being junk science on the level of eugenics.

        “(Autism is a symptom, by the way, not a disease. Many different genetic combinations can produce autistic behaviors, which is why there is a spectrum. Only rudimentary differentiation between different types of genetic conditions has been defined by the research, which is still in its infancy.)”

        I disagree with that and view it as a neurological condition. By labeling it as a symptom you’re implying that it’s the product a disease. For all we know it’s an evolutionary development that isn’t quite understood yet.

        “Even the highest-functioning person with autism is at a severe disadvantage in society, Temple Grandin notwithstanding. The victim cannot recover; it is how well s/he can cope that we see and applaud.”

        Although I’ve spent most of my life trying to conceal my condition I don’t view myself as a victim. Just because we’re different and have personal challenges to overcome on a constant and ever present basis doesn’t makes us a victim. That’s just another negative stigma that autistic people are forced to bear. It isn’t an overtly hostile one like the “scientific research” that claims that autistics are inherently anti-social, lacking in empathy, and/or more prone to criminal behavior though.

        But I’d admit autistics are at a severe disadvantage in mainstream society. This is due to the fact that most people are uncomfortable by deviations in behavior, thought, and/or appearance.

        Whether they like to admit it or not.

        1. Demeter

          Well, you see, they used to call it “rheumatics” but now we know that there are multiple types of arthritis from multiple causes, and different treatments work for different causations. The same will be found (I predict) for autism. Some genetic deficits may be amenable to supplemental medication. It’s even a remote possibility that some surgery might help.

          I am afraid, however, that like sickle-cell anemia, genetic counseling will be the best medicine, once the activated genes are discovered and tests are designed. Which knowledge will be several generations too late for you, my daughter, and hundreds of thousands more.

          1. Andrew Watts

            Those researchers in the Netherlands aren’t helping autistic people… they’re trying to eliminate them from the human gene pool. They are far from alone in that endeavor. I don’t think I’d voluntarily submit to a cure if one was invented but I doubt that I’d be given much of a choice in the matter.

            “Die Juden sind unser Unglück.”

        2. BondsOfSteel

          There is so much junk science around autism that it’s got to be hurting the real science. I see a link on it and my knee jerk reaction is to skip over it, assuming it’s just another weak causation study.

          At what point do talented researchers choose to study something else out of reputational risk?

          1. Andrew Watts

            I don’t know but these people obviously have an axe to grind. That isn’t motivated by any deep insight or a sign of intelligence. I’m starting to think the entire field of research into autism is tainted by eugenics.

              1. Andrew Watts

                I had a good laugh when you pointed that out. I assure you it wasn’t intentional or meant to be humorous.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            This is a large-scale study, with over 300,000 Danish boys tracked, and circumcision was correlated with 46% greater odds of developing autism by age 10.

            That is a large enough sample and a strong enough finding that you can’t dismiss it out of hand.

            It could also have to do with how circumcisions are done in with the males who are in Denmark (mainly Muslim, not Jewish).

            People who thought ulcers were caused by diet and stress reacted the same way when presented with the idea bacteria was the cause.

            I’m not saying this is right since it appears to assert causality for a correlation (although we see that all the time in medicine and economics) but NONE OF YOU appear to have looked at the study. This does not pretend to explain autism in non-circumcised men or in women, for instance. But all I see are knee-jerk, “We know already, don’t bother us with new information.” Disappointing.

            1. Andrew Watts

              The whole premise of the study that early childhood trauma is the cause of autism is junk science without any empirical observation. The researchers then make an amazing leap in logic by tying this early trauma to circumcision. I can understand why people are looking for answers and I appreciate the difficulties of raising an autistic child but latching onto every hypothesis as truth isn’t science.

              “But, but it’s SCIENCE!”

              The functions of the human body are a complex set of interacting variables. Only around 10-15% of biomedical studies can be reproduced by other researchers. This includes many landmark cancer studies.

              As with other things so much about autism is not understood. There hasn’t been much any progress over the years. This has not stopped fraudulent claims from being widely propagated. These lies are probably kept in circulation because reputations and grant money are at stake.

              The fact of the matter is that we need to be just as skeptical of scientific claims as economic ones particularly where politics and money are playing a major role.

    2. vidimi

      i suppose that explains how you were able to get through the 600-page torture report so quickly. people with ‘normal’ minds would have struggled through the grind.

      i would never have guessed, though: your contributions to the comments section are always insightful.

      1. Andrew Watts

        Thank you for your kind words. Most people who know me aren’t aware of this. They view me as either highly intelligent and thus eccentric or just plain weird. I’ve successfully hidden it from not only family members and childhood friends but also trained professionals as well who should probably know better.

  5. rjs

    2014 will go into the record books as seeing the greatest job creation since 1999, and the greatest private job creation since 1997…furthermore, there were less layoffs in 2014 than in any year since 1997, and their were fewer first time claims for unemployment per capita in the fourth quarter than in any quarter in US history…add to that the fact that the 3rd quarter saw the fastest economic growth since 2003, and that without an inventory buildup, and it looks like we’re at the top of the economic cycle…so believe it or not, it doesn’t get any better than this

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      So here we are at the Top of the business cycle and wages are down. To coin the old cliche, “This Time is Different”. The Oligarchs have screwed the pooch on this economy.

      The question is: what are the primary causes? Off-shoring all the ‘good jobs’ ; illegal immigration driving down wages; the system rigged FOR the ‘money counting’ class and AGAINST working class; 7 years of ZIRP (and this bunny is still going); [add you favorite peeve here]

      1. TedWa

        Inflation, always a stealthy tax on the lower class to benefit the elites, has reached the point where it’s usury. And they can’t figure out a way to change that dynamic without upsetting the banksters new world order. That’s not a bug, it’s a feature. In about 100 years the Federal Reserve has taken 95%+ of the dollars value. Nothing is affordable anymore to workers who must work and get food stamps to get by and raise a family. When the mandate of the FR creating jobs doesn’t include compensating for inflation, and disguising how bad things are by extending credit to everyone with a pulse to keep the inflation ponzi going and with the government handouts of food stamps to disguise the real state of affairs among the working citizens, the only possible result is increasing serfdom for the majority and an oligarchy/monarchy at the top (hence the Bush-Clinton-Bush-ObamaBush-Clinton leaders they’re foisting on us). The Federal Reserve has a basis in the middle ages and that world order then is the only thing they understand at a fundamental level. Out with the Fed and in with the new.

        1. TedWa

          If they’re going to keep inflating essentials out of the reach of ordinary citizens, then I wholeheartedly agree with a payment yearly to every citizen, as in a basic survival stipend like they do in Alaska where the yearly payment helps people afford to live there. Maybe around $25k. Besides, corporations don’t create jobs, the consumer spending does by creating demand that creates innovation and corporations to serve that demand.

          1. cwaltz

            I think the number could be lower than $25,000. That being said, I suspect even though producers and whatnot could potentially use their basic income to lower their production costs that everyone receiving a stipend could also lead to inflation since a spike in demand also causes rises in prices. Gimme more profits is a mantra for the inherently greedy.

            1. TedWa

              With everyone having more money and with that increased competition for market share, I think prices would go lower. Because asset bubbles

  6. Ned Ludd

    Why I am not Charlie by Scott Long:

    When a racist bombed a chapter of a US civil rights organization this week, the media didn’t insist I give to the NAACP in solidarity. When a rabid Islamophobic rightist killed 77 Norwegians in 2011, most of them at a political party’s youth camp, I didn’t notice many #IAmNorway hashtags, or impassioned calls to join the Norwegian Labor Party. But Islam is there for us, it unites us against Islam. Only cowards or traitors turn down membership in the Charlie club.

    On satire and power:

    It’s an exercise in power. It claims superiority, it aspires to win, and hence it always looms over the weak, in judgment. If it attacks the powerful, that’s because there is appetite underneath its asperity: it wants what they have. As Adorno wrote: “He who has laughter on his side has no need of proof. Historically, therefore, satire has for thousands of years, up to Voltaire’s age, preferred to side with the stronger party which could be relied on: with authority.” Irony, he added, “never entirely divested itself of its authoritarian inheritance, its unrebellious malice.”

    When Bush was president, Atrios remarked that you could not reason with Bush supporters, you could only mock and ridicule them. Once Obama was in office, liberals found it easy to aim their mockery to their left, satirizing “purity trolls” who would not get behind Obama’s right-wing agenda. “He who has laughter on his side has no need of proof.”

    Reliance on satire in the place of well-reasoned arguments has a corrosive effect on clarity of thought. Like salt, satire can enhance in small amounts. But, also like salt, excess is used to mask a dearth of underlying substance.

    1. Andrew Watts

      The Archdruid has previously warned of the perils of this kind of political hatred and intolerance. Of course he was only speaking of Americans, buuuuut…

      “The pornography of political fear appeals precisely because it provides a culturally sanctioned opportunity to indulge in the forbidden pleasures of unrestrained hate. The intoxication of feeling justified, and even virtuous, while wallowing in hatred for an irredeemably evil Other is a potent force in today’s culture – and it may yet become an equally powerful factor in tomorrow’s politics, with disastrous results.”

      “More than two thousand years ago, much the same process was mapped out in precise detail by a long line of Greek philosophers, who explored the ways that the republics of the classical world gave way to tyranny. The key to the process, according to many of these ancient witnesses, was the rise of bitter factional struggles over wealth and power that spun so far out of hand that the machinery of civil government broke apart and the rule of a tyrant became the only alternative to chaos and civil war.”

      This doesn’t mean that France or Europe is on the verge of a religious war, civil or otherwise, but given the provocative attacks conducted by the Islamic State / Al Qaeda and the self-righteous fury of the non-Muslim population it’s a distinct possibility in the future. Incidentally this outcome is what Daesh wants and given what I’ve read about some European leaders you really have to question their motives.

      “Clinton said U.S. allies in Europe blocked proposals to adjust or remove the embargo. They justified their opposition on plausible humanitarian grounds, arguing that more arms would only fuel the bloodshed, but privately, said the president, key allies objected that an independent Bosnia would be “unnatural” as the only Muslim nation in Europe. He said they favored the embargo precisely because it locked in Bosnia’s disadvantage. [..] When I expressed shock at such cynicism, reminiscent of the blind-eye diplomacy regarding the plight of Europe’s Jews during World War II, President Clinton only shrugged. He said President François Mitterrand of France had been especially blunt in saying that Bosnia did not belong, and that British officials also spoke of a painful but realistic restoration of Christian Europe.” -Wikipedia entry on the Bosnian War

      So why wasn’t Turkey let in the European Union again?

    2. barrisj

      Many of the so-called “cartoons” published by Charlie Hebdo over the past several years have been overtly racialist – crude caricatures of “the ugly Arab”, hook-nosed imams, the lot. However, no politicians or commentators rushed around calling for censorship of such “art” as demeaning of a race of people. On the other hand, cartoonists and lampoonists who have a go at Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, or vicious warfare against Gazian Palestinians are forever brought to the bar for “gross anit-Semitism”, and usually forced to give (or their publishers forced to give) abject apologies for “crossing the line”, whatever. I mean, would anyone consider Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer a “satirical newspaper” for having a go at German Jews and Jews in general? Should the “cartoons” published in Der Sturmer during the Hitler era be considered “satirical” or “irreverent”? Why is “speech” that incites animosity or hatred toward Arabs or the Muslim religion be any less reprehensible than “speech” inciting hatred toward the Jews, Zionism, or Judaism? What am I missing here?

        1. ambrit

          You’ve obviously not spent any time around members of the Jewish Defense League.
          Besides, outright murder is a crude technique. There are far better methods to quash dissent short of murder.

          1. MikeNY

            There are, indeed — if you possess power.

            I can’t make any sense out of radical Islamism or events like Charlie Hebdo without invoking inequality of power.

          2. Vatch

            I absolutely refuse to defend the Jewish Defense League. But I still haven’t seen an answer to my question: how many cartoonists or lampoonists have been murdered for their criticism of Israeli policy?

        2. barrisj

          Critics of Israel are silenced, not by assassination but silenced nonetheless. My point is that incitement of racial hatred (in the guise of “satire”) – really, acute Islamophobia in this particular case – can only exacerbate tensions between non-Muslim and Muslim peoples, and legitimatise wholesale retributive and violent acts against “the Other”…burning of mosques, attacks on Arab-owned businesses, police harassment – or worse – of males of Arabic descent, etc. Surely you recall the mass roundups of Arabic men in the US in the days after “9/11”, Arab-owned shops and even cab-drivers attacked as well. Here, read this piece by Richard Seymour to get a better flavour of what I am trying to say:

          On Charlie Hebdo
          The murder of Charlie Hebdo journalists is appalling. But we should fear the coming Islamophobic backlash.

          1. Vatch

            “Charlie Hebdo” frequently attacked Catholicism, but Catholics didn’t murder the staff of the magazine. Other satirical cartoons, such as “South Park” and “Family Guy” also frequently mock Christianity, yet the writers of those shows are still alive. Perhaps it’s because they rarely mock Islam….

      1. vidimi

        charlie hebdo was militarily anti all religions and frequently lampooned them all, though islam and christianity more than most. this is probably because the latter is the most represented religion in france and the former is [perceived to be] the most sensitive. france has a ~220-year tradition of laicité – irreligion – so the attack on c.h. is perceived to be an attack on laicité itself in france.

        personally, i don’t like charlie hebdo’s aggressive abuse of free speech. but it was still free speech, and there’s just no way i can rationalise the murders.

    1. Demeter

      the comments at NYT are boiling over with bile and hate….that 2 Minute Hate we are hearing so much about….by perfectly ignorant adolescent trolls.

      1. Light a Candle

        Were you thinking of the Snowden article on the WaPo? The comments are pretty sad.

        On the other hand, I find the comments on the NYT outstanding: thoughtful, insightful and progressive. And well written. Admittedly I am reading a limited selection of NYT articles—usually linked from Naked Capitalism!

    2. Foppe

      Sorry, but I don’t quite understand what it is you are trying to say. How and why are her looks relevant? Do you think he would judge his life differently if her looks were less appealing to you?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        A lot of men do. I’ve had men discuss me at length the phenomenon of men who choose women whose looks will evoke jealousy in their male friends. They find that pattern to be homoerotic (as in they are looking for signs of sexual reactions in men) and leads to a series of failed relationships.

        Now I am not saying that is at all the case with Snowden, particularly since their relationship was so strong she was willing to upend her life entirely to be with him.

        But way too many men and women will look at the optics: man with “hot” woman and react, “Oh he must be really successful to get her” or in the case of Snowden, “Gee, he must be ‘normal’ to have a woman like that.” And of course, the judging someone by their significant other’s looks (if female) or bank account (if male) also fee

  7. Bunk McNulty

    “You may own a Kindle full of books, but in reality, the only thing you truly own is the Kindle. Buried in the spaghetti code that is Amazon’s Kindle license agreement is the truth: your eBooks are not yours. You have a license agreement to view those books, and Amazon can revoke it at any time.”

    You Don’t Own Your Amazon Books

    1. katiebird

      That part would bother me more if paperbacks and modern hardcovers held up better over time. Paperbacks especially are worthless as a permanent investment. I just threw away a full trashcan of paperbacks that couldn’t be reread or (obviously) donated.

      At least (for now) I’m assuming my ebooks will be around for the rest of my life (giggling at the various post apocalyptic novels I’ve read lately that would disagree)

    2. Another Gordon

      If memory serves there have been cases of Amazon deleting books when threatened with libel action. How long before bad state actors legislate to have dissenting texts deleted? It’s so much easier than burning them.

    3. Carolinian

      Try Project Gutenberg. They are all free and forever. Also old of course. Gutenberg Australia has some newer titles up through the 1930s. These may need coversion into the Kindle format. You might also try the links at They have some newer books that have expired or waived copyrights.

      Also many libraries now loan recenty published e books. Mine does.

  8. Jim Haygood

    So it turns out [‘Delegitimization of Israel’ in Counterpunch link] that like former NYT Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner, NYT columnist David Brooks also has a son serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. Public editor Margaret Sullivan took up the question of disclosure, as Brooks writes columns lauding Netanyahu. Her article quotes Brooks:

    Mr. Brooks described the situation [of his son deciding to join the IDF] as “worrying.” He added: “But every Israeli parent understands this is what the circumstances require.”

    Well, it’s lovely that in multicultural America, we have columnists who see themselves as ‘Israeli parents’ writing for a leading U.S. newspaper. Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor, says it’s no problem at all. But what kind of ‘news’ are you gonna get from a paper written and edited by partisan supporters of a foreign country?

    1. Demeter

      Look at Stanley Fischer, 2nd in command at the Fed Reserve and dual US/Israeli. One of the board members of my condo association is also; she served in Israel’s military.

      If I were to go for dual citizenship, it certainly wouldn’t be with the TWO most-despised nations in the world…I’d try to find one with a better reputation, in case the US got its comeuppance in my lifetime.

    2. fresno dan

      I really had no idea that Brooks ?is? – Jewish. Or is he a secular Israeli?
      Maybe because I don’t read the NYT or Brooks in detail.
      I would really be curious to know how many people who read Brooks know of his Israeli connection.

    3. Banger

      That’s because Jews who are deeply loyal to Israel believe U.S. and Israeli interests are the same and if they aren’t they ought to be. I have been shocked at times at the fierce loyalty to Zionism in Jews in government and the media more in the older generation than younger but still a major cause of making it nearly impossible to criticize Israel in public; but I can also tell you that many non-Jews in senior positions in the power structure resent the power of the Israeli lobby but since that lobby always supports the ruling elites in other areas they put up with it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The same interests now and forever…that’s quite a strong bond.

        We don’t know if we want an Anschluss where Israel becomes be our 51st state or we their 2nd state.

    4. Benedict@Large

      No doubt for balance, the New York Times also has columnists who see themselves as ‘Palestinian parents’. These parents too describe the situation [of their sons deciding to join the Palestinian defense force] as “worrying.”

    5. MartyH

      The issue of Israeli dual-citizenship is quite troubling. Public people, particularly people in public office, it would seem to me, have a responsiility to disclose such arrangements. I think the voting public needs to know whether a sitting judge or a a legislator is a dual-citizen and, potentially under the conflicts of allegiance that may (will?) arise.

  9. flora

    Re: Bitcoin’s upcoming capital crisis.
    Great article.

    I expect VCs and other deep pockets will keep throwing money at some form of cryptocurrency in hopes of becoming the ultimate middlemen/power brokers.
    Bitcoin is the warm up for “Ethereum”, or Bitcoin 2.0. Ethereum is premised on a decentralized internet where every user is his/her own node, where contracts can be executed without trusted 3rd parties (no regulations), and where there will be a constant stream of micro-payments made to one another by means of blockchain.

    From Wikipedia:
    “Ethereum is unlike most cryptocurrencies, as it is not solely a network for transacting monetary value, rather, it is a network for powering Ethereum-based contracts. These open-ended contracts can be used to securely execute a wide variety of services including: voting systems, domain name registries, financial exchanges, crowdfunding platforms, company governance, self-enforcing contracts and agreements, intellectual property, smart property, and distributed autonomous organizations.”

    It isn’t surprising to see Nick Marinoff’s statement: “…a default on its “secured notes,” an alleged form of debt”.

    Self-enforcing contracts? A Mt.Gox voting system? What could go wrong?

    1. cwaltz

      Up next, convincing the rubes to trade in beads, feather or perhaps seashells- LOL

      After all it worked out for the Indians.

  10. Jim Haygood

    From a review in The Atlantic of a new U.S. economic history by Adam Tooze:

    ‘Before the 1914 war, the great economic potential of the U.S. was suppressed by its ineffective political system, dysfunctional financial system, and uniquely violent racial and labor conflicts.’

    ‘Ineffective political system’ and ‘dysfunctional financial system’ are code phrases for ‘lacking a central bank, an income tax, and a defederalized Senate,’ all of which were duly installed in the annus horribilis of 1913, under the baleful influence of ‘progressive’ gov-worshipers.

    Don’t we miss that ‘ineffective political system’ of 1913, which simply didn’t have the funding (with fedgov spending at 3% of GDP) for militarized police, domestic spying, and global projection of power.

    1. fresno dan

      You are on the ball, Haywood. I was going to post that.
      “That staggering quantity of Allied purchases called forth something like a war mobilization in the United States. American factories switched from civilian to military production; American farmers planted food and fiber to feed and clothe the combatants of Europe. But unlike in 1940-41, the decision to commit so much to one side’s victory in a European war was not a political decision by the U.S. government. Quite the contrary: President Wilson wished to stay out of the war entirely. He famously preferred a “peace without victory.” The trouble was that by 1916, the U.S. commitment to Britain and France had grown—to borrow a phrase from the future—too big to fail.”

      Did we support who we thought was right, or who we thought we could make the most money from? Silly rabbit, they’re one and the same – because we make sure of it…

      “The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” He continued “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

      1. three eyed goddess

        “You would not, I trust, deny that the more cunning and dishonorable a man is, the easier his life is?
        “No, I wouldn’t”
        “And his life is easier precisely because he adapts more readily to change?”
        “Well then, there exists a level of dishonorable cunning, my dear sir, at which a man anticipates the outcome of change even before it is completed, and as a result he is able to adapt far more rapidly than everyone else. But far worse than that, the most sensitive of scoundrels actually adapt to change before it has even begun.”
        “What of it?”
        “In actual fact, all the changes that happen in the world only take place because of such highly sensitive scoundrels. Because, in reality, they don not anticipate the future at all, but shape it, by creeping across to occupy the quarter from which they think the wind will blow. Following which, the wind has no option but to blow from that very quarter.”
        “Why is that?”
        “It is obvious surely. As I told you, I am speaking of the most villainous, sly and shameless of scoundrels. Surely you can believe them capable of persuading everyone else that the wind is blowing from the precise corner in which they have established themselves? Especially since this wind we are talking about blows only within this idiom of ours…………….”
        from _Buddha’s Little Finger_ by Victor Pelevin

      2. Jim Haygood

        Ron Paul says it best:

        If Americans were honest with themselves they would acknowledge that the Republic is no more. We now live in a police state.

        It was accomplished by ever-increasing taxes, deficits, borrowing, and printing press money. In the meantime the policing powers of the federal government were systematically and significantly expanded.

        The predictable poverty that results from such a terrible system is now upon us and is a strong motivation for the militarization of local police as part of the expansion of the national police state.

        War is the health of the welfare state. With ‘national defense Democrat’ Broom Hilda running against some Ted or Jed or Biff from the R party, surely new regime changes are on the horizon in 2017, as the world is made safe for managed democracy.

        1. cwaltz

          I agree with his conclusion but not with his cause.

          The problem has nothing to do with taxes or government borrowing and everything to do with private interests that have bought off the government.

          In short, he believes the problem is government. I believe the problem is his “free markets” in bed with government in a bid to create a captive market.

        2. skippy


          “The Bizarre Libertarian/Christian Reconstructionist Alliance
          April 8, 2013 by Libby Anne 81 Comments

          Ron Paul has just announced a new K-12 curriculum for homeschooled students—The Ron Paul Curriculum. It is comprehensive—history, economics, math, science, literature, Bible—and focuses on the “biblical principle” of self responsibility and the history of liberty. It advertises itself as incredibly academically rigorous—such that a student who makes it through will test out of the first two years of college.

          All of this honestly sounds like standard fare for these circles—not unlike a more comprehensive repackaging of Douglas Wilson’s Omnibus curriculum. But here’s the weird part. The Ron Paul Curriculum’s director of curriculum development is Gary North. This Gary North:

          “When people curse their parents, it unquestionably is a capital crime. The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death.”

          Gary North is a Christian Reconstructionist who is on record endorsing the stoning of children who curse their parents, LGBTQ individuals, adulterers, fornicators, women who have had abortions or encouraged or assisted in abortions, and blasphemers. Yes, death by stoning. Public stoning, actually. Back to North:

          “Why stoning? There are many reasons. First, the implements of execution are available to everyone at virtually no cost. Executions are community projects—not with spectators who watch a professional executioner do ‘his’ duty, but rather with actual participants. … That modern Christians never consider the possibility of the reintroduction of stoning for capital crimes indicates how thoroughly humanistic concepts of punishment have influenced the thinking of Christians.”

          It actually wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Gary North is today’s leading Christian Reconstructionist—and he’s also the son-in-law of the founder of Christian Reconstructionism, the late Rousas Rushdoony. Christian Reconstructionists seek to institute Old Testament Law, today, in the United States. Rushdoony is on record saying that “The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state … Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.””

          The whole libertarian movement is reverting into a singularity it seems.

          Skippy… Jimbo… Ron Paul a modern day prophet n’est-ce pas?

          1. cwaltz

            I guess in Gary North land parents are never wrong- even though they are human beings who by their very nature are fallible. I also guess that Thou shalt not kill commandmant is entirely optional for this sect of Christianity. How wonderful that they’ve got God all figured out and coincidentally He thinks exactly like they do.

            Here’s to hoping that Judgment Day for them includes requiring the forgiveness of every single individual that they are summarily suggesting be executed because they don’t fit into their narrow world view. Perhaps another round of life on the planet AS a LBGT or as a rape victim who finds themselves involuntarily pregnant would be in order to give their souls an opportunity to see how hurtful judgment HERE by others feels.

            1. skippy

              This tap dance and brimstone mob is also a prime T-bag driver, which salivates at Gov debt default, liberal libations of theocratic BBQ sauce applied with wild abandon.

              Its trending well in TX amongst other enclaves.

              “The Texas Home School Coalition estimates that more than 300,000 Texas children are home-schooled, with an annual growth rate around 7 percent since the mid-1990s. Leaders also estimate that between 2 and 3 percent of all Texas students are educated at home.”

              “Paul is the latest in a series of conservative public figures to design their own educational programs for the youth of America. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich currently hosts “Newt University,” an online college course for Kaplan Higher Education Corporation. Gingrich recently devoted a lesson to the subject of driverless cars.

              Conservative radio and television personality Glenn Beck has announced that he is planning an ambitious $2 billion Texas compound called Independence, USA. Inspired by the vision of Walt Disney, Beck’s Independence, USA claims it will incorporate a theme park, a marketplace where craftsmen and artisans can run their own small businesses, a multi-denominational church, a media center to train journalists, and a research and development center where people will be educated in the principles of liberty.”

              “Christian, Bible-based economic methodology

              North has written that the “starting point for all economic analysis” lies in the fact that “God [has] cursed the earth” in Genesis 3:17–19; this “made scarcity an inescapable fact of man’s existence”.[18] In his 1982 Dominion Covenant: Genesis, North wrote that mainstream modern economics, whether libertarian, conservative or liberal, is “in disintegration” because it is “humanist” in its approach and consequently rejects the notion that “biblical revelation” is necessary for sound economic theory. He also wrote that economics “must begin with the [Biblical] story of creation” if it is not to collapse into “total chaos”.[19]
              Proposed “Christian theocratic” political and social order

              A 2011 New York Times article identified North as a central figure in Christian Reconstructionism, the philosophy which advocates the institution of “a Christian theocracy under Old Testament law [as] the best form of government, and a radically libertarian one.”[18] North has written: “I certainly believe in biblical theocracy.”[20][21]

              The article also described North as “the leading proponent of ‘Christian economics,’ which applies biblical principles to economic issues and the free market.” North supports the abolition of the fractional-reserve banking system and a return to the gold standard. According to the Times, North believes that the Bible forbids inflation, welfare programs, and also writes that “God would prefer gold money to paper”.[18]”

              North has outlined four goals of the educational project: providing a “detailed study” of the “history of liberty”; teaching a “thorough understanding of Austrian economics”; serving as a “an academically rigorous curriculum that is tied to primary source” material rather than textbooks; and teaching “the Biblical principle of self-government and personal responsibility”, which North calls “the foundation of the market economy”.[17]”

              This all gets back to the issue of long term greedy begot short term greedy which begot savage cannibalism. What informed those positions, who funded it and why. The bad if not down right ridiculous esoterica or mental crutches used to obfuscate [see Econned] this social engineering is an aside.

              The only thing America is manufacturing is Billionaires at the moment, 492 at the moment as compared to China’s 152.

              Number of billionaires in the United States from 1987 to 2012

              This graph shows the number of billionaires in the United States from 1987 to 2012. The number of billionaires in the U.S. has increased tenfold during this time, from 41 billionaires in 1987 to 425 billionaires in 2012.


              Skippy… Lambert do you remember who funded MPS and why.

          2. optimader

            The first clue should be that he still wears three piece suits from the 1980s! He’s been writing his ponderous flaked out stuff on lewrockwell for years

            “North has written that the “starting point for all economic analysis” lies in the fact that “God [has] cursed the earth”
            North favors capital punishment for a range of offenders; including women who lie about their virginity, blasphemers, nonbelievers, children who curse their parents,[22][23] male homosexuals, and other people who commit acts deemed capital offenses in the Old Testament”
            well there you have it. I wont be inviting him over for a pool party anytime soon.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Interesting you say ‘gov-worshippers.’

      Whereas some are said to worship science, this particular ‘god’ himself, that is, science itself, claims (or philosophers of science) clearly that it is not quite omnipotent, but only doing its current best.

      On the other hand, for gov-worshippers, if the government is to be the new god, it is an omnipotent god, as far as money creation is concerned. But perhaps it is too strong to call them worshipers, as it’s not merely an article of faith to the believers, but a fact that the government is monetarily omnipotent. On that score, they are on a firmer ground than science worshippers (to be distinguished from science inquirers).

      As for your mentioning of an ineffective political system, either in 1913 or today, I am curious to know if anyone has done any research on how often the term ‘the people’ comes up in political discussion, whether in person, on TV or in a weblog, in contrast with terms like ‘congress,’ ‘the White House,’ ‘the Supreme Court,’ ‘the Republicans,’ ‘the Progressives (but no “Enlightened”*) etc.

      I believe when we substitute liberals and right wingers for ‘the people,’ and when we do it almost exclusively when we talk politics, it’s not accidental but by design.

      *Enlightened are to be distinguished from progressives.

    3. cwaltz

      It could just as easily be argued that before 1914 the economic aspect was stymied by transportation since cars weren’t commonplace until the 20s or by the lack of a good means to advertise like televisions which became more commonplace in the 50s.

      Then there’s the whole entire for almost a century that labor was fairly cheap by OWNING people.

      But hey let’s simplify and blame everything on federalized government.

      The free market fairies will solve everything. LOL

  11. barrisj

    An excellent read in today’s NewYorker on-line blog, offering another perspective on “freedom of speech” and liberte, in the wake of the Hebdo shootings. The writer points out that while commentators and politicians in “the West” are rushing out statements of support for the fallen journalists, actual “free speech” and the wherewithal to deliver, for example, anti-government writings and actions are under severe constraints if not active attack by those self-same proclaimers of “freedom” and liberte. “Mournable Bodies” are readily identified and the circumstances of their deaths roundly condemned; but what of the thousands of “Unmournable Bodies”, those innocents caught up in military operations against “Islamic terrorism” across the Muslim world – who publicly mourns them?

    Unmournable Bodies
    The scale, intensity, and manner of the solidarity that we are seeing for the victims of the Paris killings, encouraging as it may be, indicates how easy it is in Western societies to focus on radical Islamism as the real, or the only, enemy. This focus is part of the consensus about mournable bodies, and it often keeps us from paying proper attention to other, ongoing, instances of horrific carnage around the world: abductions and killings in Mexico, hundreds of children (and more than a dozen journalists) killed in Gaza by Israel last year, internecine massacres in the Central African Republic, and so on. And even when we rightly condemn criminals who claim to act in the name of Islam, little of our grief is extended to the numerous Muslim victims of their attacks, whether in Yemen or Nigeria—in both of which there were deadly massacres this week—or in Saudi Arabia, where, among many violations of human rights, the punishment for journalists who “insult Islam” is flogging. We may not be able to attend to each outrage in every corner of the world, but we should at least pause to consider how it is that mainstream opinion so quickly decides that certain violent deaths are more meaningful, and more worthy of commemoration, than others.

    France is in sorrow today, and will be for many weeks to come. We mourn with France. We ought to. But it is also true that violence from “our” side continues unabated. By this time next month, in all likelihood, many more “young men of military age” and many others, neither young nor male, will have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere. If past strikes are anything to go by, many of these people will be innocent of wrongdoing. Their deaths will be considered as natural and incontestable as deaths like Menocchio’s, under the Inquisition. Those of us who are writers will not consider our pencils broken by such killings. But that incontestability, that unmournability, just as much as the massacre in Paris, is the clear and present danger to our collective liberté.

    1. YY

      By far the most significant threat to free speech and all that it entails are governments and law enforcement in service of governing authorities. “Terrorists” and alienated crims do not pose for me any threat that I can see that relates to free speech (unless one allows for the indirect consequences of those reacting to terra and gagging those who may want to exercise free speech) . And I’m “fortunate” enough to travel in areas where one has to be very very unlucky to get blown up or shot by the misguided souls with AK-47’s or for that matter be hit by drones. People parading around (I’m sure they mean well) identifying themselves as Charlie on pre-printed signage(I would guess in massive quantities) off of social media distributed templates are apparently not self-aware that they are participating in what may be described as spontaneous generation of state propaganda. This is the creepiest part of the whole thing, clever cartoons of broken pencils not withstanding. This is not about free speech.

      1. cwaltz

        I kinda disagree with your premise. The reality is that radical extremist groups ARE a threat to freedom. They are just as much about authoritarianism as governing authorities. I’d even argue they use the exact same tactic-FEAR. The larger difference right now is they are angry because they do not have control of the government apparatus that allows them to outlaw things like speech they disagree with or behaviors they disagree with. Don’t think for a minute if an extreme Christian group was able to wrest authority they wouldn’t do everything in their power to make their prevailing viewpoint law. Heck, with Hobby Lobby we even got to see an example of how they’d rule.

        1. YY

          Western government using FEAR of extremists to curtail freedoms is a true threat. Extremists may be threat to one’s life if one is very unlucky or alternately silly enough to push buttons and goad them so that you end up on some sort of a target list. In the meantime governments with the help of reasonable people including the press try to curtail speech by “legal” means whether it be the signature that is required on a consent decree or by arresting you on national security logic. And there is absolutely no shortage of those who self censor based upon prevailing orthdoxies dictate, I tend to look at those that are pulling strings or riding the events as opportunistic waves, than those who end up being expendable soldiers out of their small delusions.

  12. Ed

    On the employment and wages link, its basic macroeconomics that a drop in price is caused by reduced demand or increased supply. The explanation for why wages are dropping (after inflation) or stagnant while the number of jobs is increasing is almost certainly because the data is bad and this is not happening. Either wages are actually increasing or employment is not increasing.

    Looking through the Economic Populist piece, it seems clear that the explanation is that employment/ jobs are not increasing at all. The labor force participation rate dropped. The labor force participation rate is much less gamed by the government and media to hide job losses than other employment indicators. And I’ve seen media cycles like this (employment grows but wages stagnate, oh wait, it turns out employment didn’t really grow) something like biannually for the last twenty-five years. You would think people would have caught on by now.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Naming and shaming the American Mengele — it can get you arrested in the land of free speech:

    (Reuters) – Two protesters were arrested at the McLean, Virginia, home of former Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday after 20 demonstrators, some in orange prison jumpsuits, walked onto his property to mark the 14th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay prison.

    The protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink walked up to the house before police arrived and asked them to leave, said Fairfax County police spokesman Roger Henriquez.

    Another Code Pink group demonstrated without incident outside the home of CIA Director John Brennan, also in the Washington, D.C. suburb of McLean, as part of its “Guantanamo Anniversary Weekend Torturers Tour.”

    Now that all the Nazi-era concentration camp guards have been deported and stripped of their citizenship, we’ve only got home-grown war criminals like Cheney and Brennan and Kissinger remaining at large.

      1. vidimi

        why not? scale is slightly off? just because one was responsible for 10^7 deaths while the other ‘only’ 10^6 doesn’t mean the analogy is no good.

  14. Re Sticks and Stones

    I thought, and felt, that was a beautiful (yet so poignant and painful to even have to say it) response to “dearieme”, “Jackrabbit.” (1.3 above, sorry, unable to use the ‘reply’ option), regarding the stunning deadliness of ‘emotional pain.’

    Isn’t it common knowledge, since humans walked the face of the earth, that repeated and continuous emotional pain is lethal?

    One’s bad physical organ can now be replaced (See Dick Cheney), but, as to one’s emotions …….. once they are crippled, most particularly when malicious intent is involved, they cannot be replaced like that; ……… that emotional crippling is terrorism, at its most invisible, venal …and deadly.

  15. NV

    The targeted murder of cartoonists in nothing new; it was pioneered by the Israelis. See below regarding the death of Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali:

    On Wednesday July 22 1987 at five in the afternoon, Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali parked his car in southwest London, and walked a few meters towards the offices of the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas where he worked. He was shot in the head by a gunman, dressed in a denim jacket, who walked calmly away down Draycott, near Sloane Square and vanished.
    Ten months after Naji al-Ali was shot, Scotland Yard arrested a Palestinian student who turned out to be a Mossad agent. Under interrogation, the Jerusalem-born man, Ismail Suwan, said that his superiors in Tel Aviv had been briefed well in advance of the plot to kill the cartoonist.
    By refusing to pass on the relevant information to their British counterparts, Mossad earned the displeasure of Britain, which retaliated by expelling two Israeli diplomats from London. A furious Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister, closed Mossad’s London base in Palace Green, Kensington. Undeterred by the British reaction, Mossad used forged passports of another Western government to send its agents to Tunisia to lay the groundwork for the assassination of Abu Jihad.On Wednesday July 22 1987 at five in the afternoon, Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali parked his car in southwest London, and walked a few meters towards the offices of the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas where he worked. He was shot in the head by a gunman, dressed in a denim jacket, who walked calmly away down Draycott, near Sloane Square and vanished.

  16. skippy

    Just to pep you up tho’ Jimbo Haygood….

    Why China Just Made A $20B Investment In Venezuela

    “Following a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday, Maduro announced that China, through the Chinese Development Bank and Bank of China, agreed to invest $20 billion in energy, social and industrial projects over the next decade, although he didn’t specify any of the projects involved. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a press conference that China would support “efforts by the Venezuelan side to adjust its economic structure and build a production-oriented economic model,” but he didn’t confirm the investment amount or offer additional details on how the money might be used. It also remains unclear whether any part of the recent agreement involves loans that Venezuela could use to make additional debt payments.

    China has granted Venezuela more than $50 billion in loans since 2007, around $20 billion of which is still outstanding, and Beijing remains Caracas’ largest creditor. About half of the nearly 600,000 barrels of oil Venezuela ships to China every day goes toward servicing that debt.”

    Skippy…. Caveat emptor muchacho….

    1. optimader

      Never loan money with the expectation of seeing it again.
      Some question Chinas strategy of trying to secure (energy) resources in this manner rather than purchasing at prevailing market price.

      We will see if it is a wise strategy.

      1. skippy

        Your first sentence should be something kids learn at an early stage and would include more than moeny.

        Don’t know if your statement about securing energy is completely accurate, could be cheaper than setting up a military presence w/ missile capacity w/ force projection or defensive capacity. Simply fighting free market fire with more of the same, imagine the free market posse trying to argue against its own handbook. I would personally depart with something precious for a front row seat at that theatrical production [Woody and Sellers [exhume for role] as main protagonists].

        Skippy… China is a pro at oblique action, where as the free market posse only know aggressive action.

  17. vidimi

    france has declared war on radical islam. as expected, they have chosen to fight evil with evil. i have no doubt that they will succeed in out-evilling the extremists, but it’s not a battle i want to fight. we haven’t just forgotten the lessons of world war 2, we never even learned them. i was thinking of moving back to france (after a previous four-year stint) at the end of the month but now i’m rethinking it.

  18. skippy

    “The amount of debt that is carried by the fracking industry at large is about double what the sub-prime was in the real estate fiasco in 2008.”

    “In summary, we’re looking at an explosion in potential that is greater than the sub-prime market of 2008 because, number one, oil and energy are the most important sectors out there.”

    “Number two, the derivative exposure is at least double what it was in 2008. Number three, the banking sector is really more fragile and we have less ability to weather the storm.”

    Skippy…. eek?

    Morgan, who is also “a big-picture macroeconomist,” says oil derivatives could take down the system just like mortgage-backed securities back in the last financial meltdown.”

    “The Fed said the sub-prime crisis would be “contained.” It was not. So, could oil derivatives take down other derivatives in a daisy chain type of collapse? Morgan says, “Absolutely, there is no question about it. The main problem is the overleverage of the system as a whole.”

    1. ambrit

      “The main problem is the overleverage of the system as a whole.”
      If I were a cynic, I might ask, “Problem for who?” Someone lives down the rabbit hole. I assume they will be grabbing handfuls of money as the economy streams past them towards Gehenna.

  19. Sam Kanu

    “An NAACP Office Was Bombed on Tuesday — And Nobody Seems to Care Mic (martha r)..”

    So business as usual in America, then….

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