Links 1/11/15

Monkeys can learn to see themselves in the mirror Science Daily

U.S. Stocks End Down for the Week on the Wildest Swings Since 2009 Bloomberg

Investment round table — 2015 prospects FT

The Biggest Looming Source of Inflation: Non-College Educated Men CSEN (Joe Weisenthal).

Self-correcting depression and virtue of deflation FT

Charlie Hebdo

World leaders to join Hollande in Paris march for unity FT

Charlie Hebdo: Paris attack brothers’ campaign of terror can be traced back to Algeria in 1954 Robert Fisk, Independent. The past is never dead…

Paris attacks: Don’t blame these atrocities on security failures Patrick Cockburn, Independent

The Paris Attack Is ‘The New Normal,’ U.S. Officials Say Daily Beast. Maybe if we stopped blowing far away brown people to pink mist? Just a thought.

Why France’s most famous writer is predicting a Muslim president Quartz. Hysteria?

The Charlie Hebdo Killings Are An Affront to All Europeans, Fiyaz Mughal Tell Mama

This Muslim Man Saved Several Hostages During The Paris Kosher Market Siege Buzzfeed. #JeSuisAhmed.

Paris shootings: Ahmed Merabet’s killers ‘pretend Muslims’ says brother BBC. “My brother was Muslim and he was killed by people who pretend to be Muslims. They are terrorists, that’s it.”

Around 35,000 Germans rally in Dresden against racism and xenophobia Reuters

It Sadly Unclear Whether This Article Will Put Lives At Risk The Onion (DJG). First typo I can recall seeing in an Onion headline…

Here’s why Mumbai did not burst into communal riots despite Sunday’s flashpoint

NYPD Slow: Times Square had 1 million reveling, zero tickets written WaPo. Please remind me what’s wrong with the cops only arresting people only when it’s “absolutely necessary”? I mean, except for breaking a bunch of over-time rice bowls.

Gun ‘hero’ George Zimmerman ordered to surrender arms after assault Christian Science Monitor


Bernie Sanders opens a new front in the battle for the future of the Democratic Party Vox. Stephanie Kelton’s appointment.

A signal of distaste for dynasties bodes ill for Bush, Clinton WaPo

Progressives Seek Control Of The Democratic Party Talking Points Memo. The problem, here, is that most of these “progressives” were 200% for Obama in 2008 – 2009, when the most damaging policies of the Obama administration were all put in place, and the House Progressive Caucus has been notoriously ineffective for years. There’s a track record here, and it’s not pretty.

Start Paying Attention: What’s Happening Now in G.O.P. Matters for 2016 NYT. The “invisible primary.”

Keystone Pipeline’s Nebraska Path Cleared as Congress Votes Bloomberg

Lessons from Vermont Jacobin

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Obama turns focus to Internet security, privacy Reuters

Exclusive: Edward Snowden on Cyber Warfare Nova Next

The NSA and the art of the Friday news dump WaPo

Reaching Outside C.I.A., Obama Picks Treasury Official to Become Agency’s No. 2 New York Times. Weaponizing the financial system. What could go wrong?

Official: Federal prosecutors want felony charges against Petraeus Stars and Stripes. Petraes must have made somebody really mad. I mean, it’s not like leaks and adultery aren’t SOP in the Beltway.

In Colorado, Legal Pot Fails to Meet Predictions of Supporters, Critics WSJ

Class Warfare

Family ties that bind: Having the right surname sets you up for life Springer (gonxomarx). ICYMI.

The hidden cost of being an Uber driver and why fare cuts really do hit their bottom line Pando. In the language of Uber more miles mean wage cuts and sharing means taking, that is plain.

Where the Pivot Went Wrong – And How To Fix It CFR

Chinese passengers yank open moving plane’s emergency doors after row with pilot South China Morning Post

Protesters decry bus and subways fare hikes in Brazil AP. Not large, but Free Pass movement, which started the 2013 protests.

NOAA Reduces Odds of El Niño Conditions This Winter Weather Underground

One Extra Second In 2015 Could Break The Internet HuffPo.

Tech world feels its way through the dark in internet of things FT. “Pricing would be negotiated in the background, machine-to-machine.” Do I get a better price if I have a more stupid phone? That’s how it works in the travel industry.

The Demands Demands!

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. John Merryman

    Weaponizing the financial system? Never heard of Buzzy Krongard?
    The power of money is that it is quantified hope and the two poles of social control are hope and fear…

  2. Foppe

    Re: “Monkeys can learn to see themselves in the mirror.”

    Why are we so fascinated with the question to what extent other animals are (self-)aware in the same way humans are? Take fancy rats, for instance. They can tell, from the smell of urine both how long it’s been there, who peed there, and whether or not (in case the rat who peed was female) the rat who peed there was or wasn’t fertile. We, obviously, cannot. At the same time, we see ‘being able to recognize oneself in a reflecting surface’ as something that is morally relevant (i.e., it leads us to conclude that an animal is ‘more like us’, and therefore more deserving of being included in the moral sphere); and being able to discern information from stale urine as irrelevant. Fancy that…

    1. DJG

      We seem to be in a phase of redefining animals, as always, from the point of view and needs of human beings. With new focus on intelligence and artificial intelligence, we have made the discovery that animals are intelligent. My question: Have none of these people ever lived with a dog? In ancient times, animals were messengers of the gods. In the medieval era, they were moral beings (Saint Francis and the wolf of Gubbio). The Renaissance saw them as machines (Descartes). Then animals went through a phase of being all instinct and territoriality (during the Cold War, hmmm). Now they are intelligence again. [And what are animals? Messengers from the gods, with their own animated (ensouled) intelligence, going extinct because human beings have no perspective.]

    2. craazyman

      I don’t know about you, but I”ve never tried to do that myself.

      So we don’t really know. Maybe we could!

      I have no plans to try and find out either. Some things are better left as mysteries.

    3. optimader

      “They can tell, from the smell of urine both how long it’s been there, who peed there, and whether or not (in case the rat who peed was female) the rat who peed there was or wasn’t fertile”
      I can only tell if the pee-er had fresh or old asparagus. To be fair, I haven’t spent much time honing my urine identification skills. I wonder to what productive end this skill can be taken?

      “(i.e., it leads us to conclude that an animal is ‘more like us’, and therefore more deserving of being included in the moral sphere); ”
      With inclusion in the moral sphere, will monkeys then be culpable w/ regard to their proclivity for date-rape?

      1. Foppe

        “With inclusion in the moral sphere, will monkeys then be culpable w/ regard to their proclivity for date-rape?”

        Do you consider people who are severely mentally retarded culpable of ‘crimes’ in the same way you do fully ‘compos mentis’ folks? Children? If not, does it follow from your/our judgment of severely mentally retarded people and children as (partly) inculpable that we should feel free to use them as forced organ donors, in (dangerous) medical experiments? (I would hope your answer to this is ‘no’.) Sentience is enough for inclusion in the moral sphere; culpability/responsibility requires something more, like ‘moral sapience’, or whatever you want to call it.

        1. craazyman

          why do you think monkeys are behind bars in the zoo?

          it’s a monkey jail.


          1. craazyman

            I’m sorry I’m a little disturbed these days. Even more than usual.

            I heard something the other night that sounded absolutely ludicrous, until I started thinking about it. Every body knows the moon is hollow, since if you hit it hard enough it vibrates like a bell. Scientists know this but they just don’t talk about it. They also have no idea where the moon came from. They say they do but none of it makes sense if you look at their arguments and theories. Especially when it rings like a bell. That makes no sense.

            I heard some dude on the radio present a theory that the moon is a jail for criminals from alien civilizations. Or if not a jail, at least a rehab center or an asylum for punitive measure of some kind. The jail is the inside of the moon.

            But sometimes the inmates get out and come to earth and cause problems. it may be they exist in nearby but not entirely overlapping dimensions, and it may be they can escape most easily using the light from the sun. This would explain the problems with human behavior associated with the full moon. It would explain a lot of things, actually. It would explain more things that economics, that’s for sure, so the initial instinct no doubt is to write this all off to complete lunacy. That’s only a tautology. If the theory is true that is, which seems to be likely, or at the very least, plausible.

    4. optimader

      BTW, you are aware that:
      Mice are merely the protrusion into our dimension of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who, unbeknownst to the human race, are the most intelligent species on the planet Earth. They spent a lot of their time in laboratories running complex experiments on humans…

  3. Carolinian

    This was linked in comments yesterday and Moon of Alabama makes it the centerpiece of his latest post but I think it may deserve yet another link because it’s so incredibly spot on.

    On 9/11, that day that shaped our era, I recall thinking to myself that somewhere around the world the be-limbed, the Agent Oranged, the bombed with impunity were muttering to themselves: “Gotcha.” It was compared to Pearl Harbor and it was similar in the universal outrage that behind our two oceans someone would dare to attack us. In my neighborhood practically every house (but mine) sported an American flag. Some even mounted little American flags on top of their cars (for those wishing to make fun of flyover country this could be exhibit A although those tv anchor flag pins were a more tasteful version). Says the New Yorker, that voice of the intellectual establishment

    A tone of genuine puzzlement always seems to accompany terrorist attacks in the centers of Western power. Why have they visited violent horror on our peaceful societies? Why do they kill when we don’t?

    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

    One can but hope that the elites of a country born in the Age of Reason are finally coming to their senses. But if they and their Europe minions want to continue to play the new Rome then they should expect some blowback to rule by violence. Karma is a bitch.

    1. MartyH

      What I find missing in the bulk of the coverage is the recognition that there are classes of Protected Hate Speech and classes of Prosecuted Hate Speech. In many parts of Europe and the US, factual reporting of Israel’s treatment of their non-Jewish Israeli Citizens and populations in the Occupied Territories is attacked. Anything stronger is, under some National bodies of law, actionable under local Laws. You can be imprisoned for such. We are seeing reports of similar punishments (or much worse) in middle-Eastern countries (espceially Saudi Arabia itself) for insults to Royalty, Imams, etc. These are examples of Prosecuted Hate Speech.

      Yet, public transportation agencies are forced to display Pamela Geller’s self-aggrandizing anti-Muslim propaganda by “Political Correctness” rules and political pressures. She might be beheaded in Saudi Arabia for it. Here, she gets air time. The same for Charlie Hebdo. In the US, African American demonstrations and activists are treated as dengerous (proto-)terrorists while White Supremacists are allowed by the government to perpetuate a crime on Federal Property (the Cliven Bundy affair). One is Prosecuted (Persecuted, at least) and the other Protected (Rewarded, at the worst … by the worst … in the Koch/Murdoch media cartel’s outlets).

      One can only conclude, it would seem, that such biases are not organic. There are those in seats of public and private power for whom these imbalances, these examples of supported and suppressed propaganda, and these outbursts of violence are useful. Failure to curb the worst outbursts of puerile hatred (like Charlie Hebdo) leads to retaliation by those who most feel the sting. Sometimes it is paint on or rocks through windows. Sometimes it is a bomb or airplane into a building. Sometimes, it is a black operation, commando style, to make a point.

      Schoolyard bullying in grade-school, if not addressed by students, parents, and teachers, leads to bad outcomes. Lessons are neither learned or taught. I don’t understand why we can’t learn from our own early-life experiences and devise better ways to temper these nasty bullying forces. It is never acceptable to shout “Fire” in a crowded space. But that is exactly what voices like this are trying to do.

      1. diptherio

        In our Western fetishization of free speech, we have apparently decided that not only should a person be free to say whatever they like, but that they should also be free from the (entirely foreseeable) consequences of that speech. Well…at least if said speech is directed against the heath…er…Muslims (although not so much if directed against Israel). When you mock and insult and try to purposely offend other people, you should expect a reaction–hell, that’s what you’re going for. Charlie just got more of a reaction than expected. A tragedy, to be sure, but one that could have been avoided by the simple expedient of not being a complete dick.

        1. James Levy

          My problem with your position is that there are dickish things about Islam and its adherents. As someone who has gotten in trouble around here for comments about the actions of the Jewish community here in the US of A, I must be an equal opportunity offender–many Muslims simply refuse to get their heads out from up their 14th century assess and stop whipping, stoning, and decapitating people for not showing the proper respect for their version of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his prophet. I think that should be mocked, just as I think claims that another variation of the FSM gave “the land of Israel” (i.e. the old Roman province of Palestine) to “his” “chosen people.” And, call it temerity, but I think I should have that right in a free country (which this nation and France proclaim themselves to be) and not be murdered for it by imbecile throwbacks to the Middle Ages.

        2. Vatch

          Salman Rushdie has correctly pointed out that the “But Brigade” is out in force:

          “Oh, I’m for free speech, but….”

          The word “but” is usually followed by a warning that one shouldn’t criticize Islam. The “But Brigade” is an insult to the heroes of free speech and a rational approach to religion as exemplified by Denis Diderot and Thomas Paine, among others.

          I prefer a religion that has a sense of humor about itself. I like the Buddhist denominations that honor Budai (Pu Tai).

          1. Massinissa

            Im all for peoples rights to poke bears.

            People just need to realize poking bears means the bears poke back, in addition to being in bad taste.

          2. diptherio

            I don’t have a problem with criticizing Islam. But I don’t think depicting their Prophet in pornographic poses really rates as criticism.

            If you insist on calling someone’s mother a whore, you don’t get to hide behind free speech when they come over and beat your ass. That doesn’t mean the person doing the beating is justified, but their response doesn’t relieve you from taking responsibility for what you say.

            Crude insult does not equal criticism, and defending people who engage in the former on the basis that the latter must be protected doesn’t seem entirely logical to me. No one should be executed by masked men with guns, but when you know those people exist and you insist on taunting and insulting their religion and culture, I have a hard time not saying, “well, what did you expect?” Meanwhile, the slaughter of innocents by our drones and other advanced weaponry continues, mostly unnoticed. 2,000 people are slaughtered in Nigeria and protests and displays of solidarity fail to appear, as does coverage by the media.

            This was another small tragedy in a world full of tragedy…but it happened to white people in Europe, and so it is perforce a more tragic tragedy than other, numerically larger tragedies that occur elsewhere, or at least that seems to be the subtext. I’m not buying it.

            In sum, blowback is blowback, and this is blowback–that’s all I’m saying.

            1. Ed

              From what I’ve seen of the cartoons, French authorities could reasonably and probably should have classified the cartoons as pornography, basically as designed to titillate but not contribute to the discourse (I’ve seen actual pornography that was more thoughtful), and restricted its distribution, or had a word with the editor to tone it down. This is a long established publication in France and has a history of doing these sorts of things, not least against Christianity. It used to be possible to prosecute publications for blasphemy, but I think the pornography statutes are sufficient and less subject to abuse.

              I think you need a better reason to shoot at people than this.

            2. optimader

              “If you insist on calling someone’s mother a whore, you don’t get to hide behind free speech when they come over and beat your ass”

              Crude insult or criticism, pornographic or not, bottom line there is no parsing justification for murdering people, incidentally, also people that had absolutely nothing to do w/ the perceived insult.

              “I have a hard time not saying, “well, what did you expect?” Meanwhile, the slaughter of innocents by our drones …”
              “comparative tragedy” parsing is bllsht as well, introducing US drone strikes is a non sequitur.

              “but it happened to white people in Europe”
              Were only “white people” victims of murder in this event?
              Does it matter if it was only “white people” ?

              “In sum, blowback is blowback, and this is blowback–that’s all I’m saying”
              No, “in sum” it was murder.

              Was Islam the only subject of Charlies Hebdo’s brand of cartooning? Were you alternately also maybe expecting members of other religious or political affiliations to “blowback” by going on a murder spree in Paris?

          3. Inverness

            One shouldn’t punch downwards, and insult the weak. One should be aware that in a racist, islamophobic society, mocking the marginalized is deeply hurtful. One should also take context into consideration. This is part of being a grown-up, responsible global citizen.

            1. Vatch

              One group of people, the Islamists, has guns, and another, the cartoonists, does not. Who’s the weak, and who’s the strong?

              1. Massinissa

                You think its only the Islamists that are being made fun of here, and not the 5 million muslims in france?

                Do those 5 million muslims have more power than these French cartoonists?

                1. Vatch

                  Who’s still alive, and who’s dead?

                  Tens of millions of French Catholics were also mocked by Charlie Hebdo. Who did the killing?

          4. DJG

            Vatch: And Americans, with local traditions of puritanism and self-censorship around the powerful, seem to be the Coalition of the Willing when it comes to the But Brigade. Pornography? Consequences? Really?

            1. Vatch

              I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what your point is. I support efforts to expose the superstitions that are given special status because of “faith”. Really, why is gullibility considered a flaw, but faith is considered a virtue?

              Last month, the NC links section exposed the flaw in the Christian concept of the Virgin Mary, which is simply a mistranslation of the Hebrew “almah” with the Greek “parthenogenesis”:


        3. Stephanie


          In that vein, I recommend bombing the bejesus out of Howard Stern, the entire cast and crew of “Two and a Half Men” and Roosh V. While we’re at it, we can take out Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. If we can possibly prevent Tyler Perry from ever making another Madea movie or another Frank Miller comic being adapted to the big screen, by either killing or disabling the parties involved, I would be down with that, too. Personally I’m tired of sucking it up. Sleeping bears and all that.

          *Runs off to dig out her old “Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society” shirt from back in the day.*

          1. MartyH

            Hope you find the shirt. Can we get a selfie ;-)

            Diptherio … I was too lame to use the “beat your ass up” argument but that was my point with the playground reference. It was a common approach to bullying in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Probably still works in nicer neighborhoods.

        4. different clue

          Larry Flynt once said: “If the First Ammendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.”

          If we accept the principle that “being a complete dick” makes one deserving of being killed, then anyone can define “being a complete dick” anyway they like, and demand moral acceptance at least for killing their designated “complete dick”. A lot of Intel Community people consider Snowden a complete dick and would like to kill him. How would your principle apply any less to an intel-assassination of “complete dick” Snowden than it applies to the multiple assassinations of complete dick cartoonists?

    2. Inverness

      Of course, the West doesn’t see itself as violent. Until we start to examine ourselves, our drones, our wars, we’ll keep committing atrocities and won’t see the blowback for what it is. Look at France, and the response to Charlie Hebdo. It’s one thing to acknowledge and grieve the brutal murder of journalists. Yet it’s quite another to not even discuss how France’s foreign policy and racism create an atmosphere of islamophobia which alienate many French people of Arab origin. Or maybe even consider that those French political cartoonists often draw Arabs and Africans in a way that recalls the Nazi’s Der Sturmer days.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Today the NYT laments the ‘durable and sinister’ influence of Anwar al-Awlaki, whom Obama murdered with a drone in 2011, giving him martyrdom status. Just to bait the hook a little more, two weeks later Obama murdered al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, an American citizen.

        Chalmers Johnson wrote the book on blowback, but the failed community organizer who’s impersonating the president didn’t read it.

        1. James Levy

          Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is not blowback for real atrocities. Blowback for real atrocities would be blowing up a French Air Force base or shooting the President of the Republic who ordered the bombing and the killing. This was a dopey act of revenge for making fun of somebody’s “holy prophet.” I am prepared to declare certain acts legitimate retribution or at least understandable revenge. What happened at Charlie Hebdo was no such thing.

          1. JTFaraday

            It seems to me that hitting symbolic targets might be very powerful. Was this not the point of said “satiric” cartoons in the first place?

      2. optimader

        “Of course, the West doesn’t see itself as violent”
        Starting with a fallacy, need one read more?
        Is “the West” amorphous?

    3. JTFaraday

      Of the articles I’ve perused on this over the past few days I thought these two were interesting for their claim that it is important to move this event out of the abstract realm of the defense of “free speech” and into its more immediate context.

      Right now it seems to me that the dominant knee jerk reaction is to defend the right to be offensive– in the name of the high minded ideal of “free speech”– which may play right into the hands of all of those both in “the west” and in the middle east who each want, for their own reasons, to enlist support and heighten the conflict to the eventual detriment of Europe, certainly, and probably the US as well.

      Not the first time we’ve seen high minded ideals, like “democracy” and “liberalism” and now “free speech” deployed in support of generating ever more turmoil in the middle east by stirring the passions of the populace.

      Meanwhile, what have we gotten out of this? Certainly nothing resembling democracy, liberalism, or free speech.

    4. FederalismForever

      @Carolinian. Almost any group anywhere can find something in history to be upset about, and to use as a motivation for violence. Vietnamese Americans, for example, could choose to engage in acts of terror throughout America given all of the damage wrought on Vietnam by America during the Vietnam War. Similarly, Mormon Americans would have every right to be upset about the thousands of Mormons killed by USGovt during the “Mormon Wars” in the 1830s and 1840s, which included an “extermination order” being given by the then Governor of Missouri. Perhaps we’ll soon see dozens of blonde-haired and blue-eyed Mormon terrorists and suicide bombers in the news. Maybe we’ll also witness an explosion of violence from the Cajun community in Louisiana, to protest the ethnic cleansing of Acadians back in the day.

      What’s truly unusual about the steep decline in U.S. v. Arab relations in recent decades is that so many aspects of the prior history between these two groups would seem conducive to the formation of a strong relationship: (i) U.S. and British engineers had developed the oil industry infrastructure throughout the middle east, which resulted in many Arab groups becoming enormously wealthy (this was NOT the usual pattern of colonial exploitation, in which the local groups are made materially worse off), (ii) Eisenhower had sided with Egypt against the British and French imperialists in the Suez crisis (i.e., he sided with “the little brown people” against the evil white people), (iii) the U.S. had provided crucial arms and funding to the Afghan rebels against the Soviets (again, notice, the U.S. is siding WITH the “little brown people” against a group of (mostly) white people), (iv) the U.S. had again come to the aid of the Saudis in Gulf War I by protecting their oil fields. To be sure, there is the Israel issue. But both the U.S. and the Soviets had recognized the new State of Israel in 1948. And Israel was just one of the “new” states created around that time. After all, the state of Pakistan was also created in 1948, but I’m not aware of massive and ongoing protests by Islamic groups against the creation of Pakistan.

    5. Anonymous

      A cartoon has been published in Haaretz in Israel. It is similar to the ‘Je suis Charlie’ marketing gimmick, just some text in white on a black background. It has provoked outrage in Israel, with calls for the people responsible to meet the same fate as the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.

      “We must do what the terrorists did to them in France, but at Haaretz,”
      “Why is there no terror attack at Haaretz?”
      “Let the terrorists eliminate them”
      “With God’s help, the journalists at Haaretz will be murdered just like in France”
      “They should die.”
      “Haaretz is where the terrorists should have gone”
      “Death to traitors”
      “I hope that terrorism reaches Haaretz as well”
      “With God’s help, [there will be] a Hamas operation that kills all of you, like the journalists in France”

      What was so outrageous about this cartoon? It simply stated that 10 journalists died in Paris and 13 journalists died in Gaza during the last Operation Gaza Punchbag and includes a JeSuisGaza hashtag.

  4. Inverness

    The French writer Michel Houllebecq has often been provocative. He also said that “Islam is the stupidest religion,” several years back. His fiction (I’ve read a few of his novels, “Plateforme” and “La Carte et Le Territoire” have managed to sell, and in large part because he is media-savvy and knows that he will always have those who support his provocative behavior.

    Honestly, he knows the premise of his latest book is completely ridiculous, and admitted as much to the Paris Review.. There is no risk of a Muslim president elected in one of the most xenophobic countries in Europe. But flirting with Islamophobia, then proclaiming the right to offend is a formula that actually works there.

    So no, Houllebecq isn’t hysterical. He’s too cynical and “médiatique” for all that. He wants to stay relevant, in the press, and sell books, which isn’t easy these days. His formula works.

    1. scott

      Islam is a political movement posing as a religion, with the Prophet replacing Lenin, for instance. Substitute “Kulak” or “bourgeosie” for “infidel” and the supra-nationality of Communism’s “worker’s paradise” with the Caliphate.

        1. FederalismForever

          @James. But consider the recent separatist wars involving descendants of Muslim immigrants who now want independence from the countries that originally welcomed them as immigrants: Philippines, Indonesia (Aceh), Thailand (Narathiwat), Kosovo (Serbia). Can these be understood as rooted in a desire to “oppose Western imperialism”? Seems to me these wars are better understood as part of the broader recent trend among Islamic groups worldwide to separate from all other groups and live in societies structured in accordance with some version of Islamic law. Consider too all of the ethnic cleaning recently meted out by Islamic groups worldwide, from Algeria (Berbers) to Sudan (Dinkas), etc. The populations of Christians and Jews have declined in some cases almost to zero in many Islamic societies recently. See:

      1. Carolinian

        You are correct that people with political grievances are using religion as an excuse but that’s because it’s often the only outlet that they have. Happy people do not go around blowing themselves up. Check out a movie from, yes, France called The Horses of God that explores the sociology of terrorism. It’s the story of a real bombing in Morocco.

        1. Inverness

          Another fantastic film to explore is “The Battle of Algiers,” which also addresses French terror, a subject rarely addressed in France, despite the French colonial brutality.

        2. MikeNY


          I have a sneaking suspicion that so-called Islamist nihilism might be connected somehow to a century of imperialism, military interventions, coups, puppet governments, resource extraction, and other self-serving hijinx by western states in the Middle East.

          Call me crazy.

          1. different clue

            But if that is so, why have those Muslims who have suffered most from American violence (Iraq) done zero terror, whereas those Muslims who have benefited most from
            America buying their oil (KSA millionaires and all their subsidized and trained little terrorist jihadi livereating headchoppers) doing all KINDS of terror?

            Bin Laden was a multimillionaire, don’t forget.

            1. MikeNY

              I think it is an open question who has suffered MOST from American and Western meddling. Was it the Iranians, before the revolution? Is it the Saudis, who live under an utterly corrupt and repressive regime, propped up by Washington? Is it the Palestinians? And now, is it a surprise that ISIS is taking root in Iraq, the country which we have plunged into more than a decade of chaos?

              There are a few good choices.

        3. wbgonne

          You are correct that people with political grievances are using religion as an excuse but that’s because it’s often the only outlet that they have. Happy people do not go around blowing themselves up

          Exactly. Will there be any self-reflection by the West questioning why so many people find blowing themselves up a good alternative to present reality? Not that I’ve seen so far.

          Check out a movie from, yes, France called The Horses of God that explores the sociology of terrorism. It’s the story of a real bombing in Morocco.

          Excellent film. Highly recommended.

        4. MDBill

          And for those with access to Netflix, “The Horses of God” is available for streaming thereon. I have added it to my queue. Thanks for the tip.

      2. Eclair

        Umm, Scott, you represent religions and political movements as polarities, whereas political movements morph into religions and organized religions support and sustain political movements. They are intertwined, even the ones that eschew belief in some invisible (male) deity.

        The early followers of Jesus Christ, the rabble-rousing Palestinian chafing under Roman occupation, were a political movement. Kings and emperors in the ancient world easily made the transition from a mere human to a divine being, so it was a natural transition for the Christ to assume divine form after his martyrdom.

        And Christianity as a bulwark of new world domination, politics as usual: the Papal Bull of 1493 declared that any lands not inhabited by Christians were available, legally, to be ‘discovered’ and exploited.

        But, I think it was delightfully clever of you to attempt to equate Islam and Communism. Perhaps you could do the same with Christianity and Communism? Or, Judaism and Communism? Or US Ultra-Nationalims and Communism?

        1. different clue

          I am confused about something . . . isn’t the historical Jesus considered to have been a Judean? And didn’t the Romans call that province Judea? I am willing to stand correctible if I am wrong. But if I am wrong about that, then the Monty Python players seem to be captive to exactly the same error as myself. Otherwise, why would they have mocked the Peoples’ Front of Judea as against the Judean Peoples’ Front in their Life of Brian movie?

          1. vidimi

            you are correct. the region was only renamed palestine (after the philistines [pelasgians]) after the rebellion of 70 was put down.

        1. scott

          I was going to word it differently. I tried multiple times to edit, then to delete the whole post, but the 3 minutes were up and neither function worked.

          I in no way believe that Islam is alone in using religion to justify murder, just that it does seem to be acting more like a political movement. Having studied how the Bolsheviks murdered millions of “unbelievers” in Leninism (guilty or not), I saw some parallels.

          1. diptherio

            You’re saying that some people are using the religion of Islam for political ends. That is an entirely uncontroversial statement. However, you could just as easily say the exact same thing about Christianity in this country. I seem to recall Bush the Younger asking soldiers to sign a pledge saying they would pray for him. And I also remember something about “God told me to do it”…

            Power mongers will use whatever tools are to hand to divide and conquer. The most useful tools are those obvious divisions among people: race, language, religion. The modus operandi is ever the same–play up the differences between groups, claim your group is superior to others, proceed to kill/conquer/enslave the other groups.

            Religion is a handy divider, but there are plenty of other dividers that work just as well. And there is much more wisdom within our various religious traditions than just the bits that the power-mongers use to rile the masses. For better or worse, much of our acquired wisdom down through the ages has been retained in the form of religious thought, philosophy and practice. If we totally reject everything that is contained with religion, we are rejecting our heritage, both the good and the bad. Myself, I prefer to throw out just the bathwater and keep the baby. Islam includes Idries Shah, for instance, and he’s great.

            1. MartyH

              Yeah, the more “divider” buttons you push, the more the individual divisions you create and the more distraction from real issues you create.

            2. John Merryman

              The premise of monotheism is politically convenient. The absolute, as universal state, is equilibrium. So a spiritual absolute would necessarily be the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell. Though it is convenient for those at the apex of the social oder to claim the authority of a higher state. Those who assume their cultural ideals are absolute tend to become extremists. Which seems to be the direction everyone is going.

    2. vidimi

      i wouldn’t single out france as being “one of the most xenophobic countries in Europe”.

      others, including the UK, are just as bad, albeit in different ways against different out-groups. italy, germany, austria, poland, denmark, spain, switzerland, etc can all lay a claim on that title on their day.

      1. Inverness

        I would, and not just based on my anecdotal experience. Read some actual research on xenophobic, homophobic France:

        The National Front’s Marine Le Pen would come out on top of a presidential election, were one held today.

        1. vidimi

          i looked at those studies and they are all tosh.

          different countries have different racist problems and, conversely, some things are more culturally acceptable in one country than in another.

          taking the uk, for example, racist against eastern europeans is socially acceptable. bulgarians and romanians are personae not gratae and it’s hilarious to perpetuate stereotypes of people east of budapest as totally backwards. borat, as funny as it was, was also a deeply racist movie but that sort of thing is acceptable in the uk and wouldn’t register on a study that phrased the question like “would you mind having a person of another race be your neighbour”. if you asked the question “would you mind if someone from a lower class moved in next to you instead, i suspect britain would be near the top of the list while france near the bottom, as discussions of class in france are considered taboo. if you are priviliged in france, you would never flaunt it.

          in strictly xenophobic terms then i would expect italy to top the list as foreigners from any country are not welcome to move in to a village.

          bottom line is that each country has it’s own unique problems and sometimes experience in them trumps culturally-biased studies like the ones provided in your links.

  5. jjmacjohnson

    Explains a lot, the council on foreign relations has few asians, indians or people of color at their asian desk.

  6. roadrider

    Re; Progressives Seek Control

    What a bunch of dipshits. Keith Ellison thinks Warren should run to “make Hillary Clinton a better candidate”. Sure, she’ll fake it for the primaries and the election and then revert to being America’s Margaret Thatcher as soon as she takes office and begins crapping all over anything people like Keith Ellison think would be worth doing.

    I’m not on the Warren bandwagon by any means (respect her work on financial issues but agree that she barks loudly but her “solutions” don’t bite, she’s all in on the GWOT and unquestioned support of Israel and not in favor of single-payer) but the reason for her or any other “progressive” to run is not to make Hillary Clinton a better candidate but to run her and her like out of any leadership role in the party.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Keith Ellison thinks Warren should run to “make Hillary Clinton a better candidate”.

      That’s a euphemism for ‘make an honest woman out of her.’ If Elizabeth Warren has read up on William Gladstone, she should know it won’t work:

      ‘Gladstone was a man of strong and conflicting passions. A secret reader of pornography, he was also physically attracted to women of the streets. After visiting prostitutes in their lodgings, he would return home and, wracked with guilt, scourge himself with a whip. Clearly, his now famous “rescue missions” among London’s prostitutes served other than altruistic philanthropic interests.’

      1. Eureka Springs

        Keith Ellison thinks:X (Little evidence of that!)
        Keith Ellison thinks Hillary should be Pres.

        Ellison, one of 200 percent “Progressive” Obot supporters. Progressives at best are ineffective, except as gatekeepers, and they are determined to stay that way.

    1. Ed

      Supposedly the affair took place after both officers left the military. But I’m wondering what happened with all the security clearance investigations.

  7. McMike

    Lol. Zimmerman tells his right wing paranoid arm chair hero fantasy gun nut constituency not to pay attention to internet comments or the opinions of monday morning quarterbacks….

    I hate to tell you dude, but arm chair quarterbacks spewing about issues on which they have bad facts and worse context is what gets your fan boys out of bed in the morning.

  8. Gareth

    Due to the NYPD work slowdown there are 2,000 fewer inmates in Riker’s Island – The horror! Fewer jails, prisons, judges, cops, parole officers and drug tests, will destroy America as we know it. Bring it on.

    1. McMike

      I can tell you when the slowdown will end….. at least one full month before the cops and DAs start working on their annual budget justifications.

  9. Brooklin Bridge

    Obama turns focus to Internet security:

    Later he will visit the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity nerve center to promote voluntary information sharing between government and private sector and industry to fight cyber threats “while protecting privacy and civil liberties”, the official said.

    Oh Boy…

    1. flora

      right. I am not reassured that Obama has cybersecurity initiatives. The whole “N.Korea did it, digital Pearl Harbor” sounded ginned up for political reasons.

      side note: The Reuters story had this sentence. “Internet security became a national focus after a cyberattack on Sony Pictures that Washington blamed on North Korea.” I noted the phrased “Washington blamed”, instead of repetition of the official narrative that N.Korea was definitively the culprit. Maybe the MSM is finally hearing what the private IT security professionals have been saying for some time now.

  10. bmeisen

    lessons from vermont

    my German “public” health care provider (gesetzliche Krankenkasse) informed me last week that my premium will be lower this year, down from 14.9 to 14.5%. my employer pays half. converage includes – sometimes with modest co-pays – dental, chiro, pyscho, medical leave, prescription drug.

    don’t know why the Jacobin article refers just to the Canadian and British public plans. The better plans are arguably on the continent. The best is arguably the Swiss, and the common feature of all public health insurance is that all residents are legally required to be insured – NO opting out. You are in from birth and paying from adulthood to death.

    Hurts so good.

    1. LifelongLib

      For health care (in the U.S. at least) mandatory participation through the tax structure (e.g. Medicare for All) would be more palatable than explicit forced participation in an insurance plan(s), especially plans run by poorly regulated private companies that take a lot of money for doing very little.

      1. bmeisen

        Point well taken. The organizations should be well run and regulated. Mandatory coverage however entails blind admission aka less administration for the organizations – no cherry-picking necessary and anyway it’s forbidden! The decisive feature in terms of efficiency and cost control is the pubic model’s universality: everybody’s in, the young healthy ones and the old healthy ones too and the sick and the obese smokers. And because they’re insured nobody’s going to emergency for a cold.

        I can’t believe that health care managers in the US are not aware of the clear advantages of public plans in terms of efficiency and cost control. At the very least public models must be the subject of at least one lecture in the standard MBA/Health Care curriculum. While boldly entrepreneurial managers don’t need MBAs the market generally gobbles up candidates with them. Why aren’t these educated professionals demanding single payer across the country? What happens within the system of private extraction? Does truth disappear to be replaced by deceit?

        1. LifelongLib

          IIRC when Obama first introduced his health care proposals, he did say that if we were starting from scratch a different system would be preferable (public? single-payer? don’t recall), but he didn’t want to just discard the existing system. Translation: public/single-payer would break too many rice bowls.

  11. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Paris Attack Is ‘The New Normal,’ U.S. Officials Say

    Everybody should read this piece. It demonstrates how resigned and demoralized the officials of the US gov and intelligence community are. Far from being a bunch of fascists (in a smear word sense) their anxiety and sense of helplessness is obvious. They’re fighting an enemy they don’t understand under unfamiliar circumstances. When they tried to become all militant and all Jack Bauer-y it blew up in their faces. The important thing to remember is that while they (AQ/IS) may succeed in launching terrorist attacks they won’t succeed in taking away our values and the identity that defines who we are. That’s something only we can do to ourselves through… let’s call it a “huge mistake”.

    “Maybe if we stopped blowing far away brown people to pink mist? Just a thought.”

    It’s not that simple. Why do you think the Europeans who were hellbent on their holy Crusades couldn’t just leave the people of the Levant alone? Hell, when do you think this all started?

    1. Bart Fargo

      What I took from the article is that the military-security-intelligence complex is now fully confident they’ve found their new decade-long gravy train in the Syrian Civil War.

      1. vidimi


        basically, they’re saying don’t expect not having a permanent state of war in your lifetime

        1. ambrit

          Or the ultra loyalist partisans hiding out in the woods surrounding Chernobyl. “We will glow with the pure light of patriotism! Urrragh!”

      2. Andrew Watts

        @Bart Fargo

        I don’t think so. The salad days of the Pentagon are over for now with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nobody wants to re-occupy Iraq and fight the Islamic State anyway. Under normal circumstances the price tag of the F-35 program wouldn’t be an issue. The mass surveillance programs are also at an important crossroads. Alan Grayson thinks that Congress is divided into two camps; the people who are afraid of terrorism and the other side which is against pervasive spying. Which if anybody hasn’t noticed aren’t exactly stopping the terrorist attacks.

    2. Grizziz

      Just a quick WTF on the Beast: we can’t even get an attribution for ‘the new normal’? Is this ‘the new cowardice’ in the face of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations? Between access journalism and the G’s endless push to tickle our amygdala with fear, our trust will drop to zero. How does the (cough) intelligence community intend to maintain a civil society by endlessly playing the ‘Wurlitzer’?

        1. grizziz

          I see your point on the Iron law, but it seems more like symbiosis. It appears to be two institutions; journos and intelligence. Neither reporert for the Beast (Yousef or Shane) appear to have worked for the intelligence community. You could posit a combined institutional structure of Journalism, Intelligence and Universities, like the military-industrial-congressional complex in order for the law to apply. There would probably need to be some revolving door occurrences to prove up the institution.

    3. Banger

      You completely misunderstand that community. I suggest you study history starting with the birth of the CIA (and the activities of the OSS particularly in the latter stages of WWII) to see what the intel people are like, where they come from and what their goals are. My own examination has led me to the following conclusion–you can make of it what you want: the GWOT is largely a fraud as was much of the Cold War. The military and intel types don’t care to win wars anymore they just want to fight them to earn promotions, make money and have fun.

      I suggest to you the security types are drooling with pleasure at this point–lot’s of money and power will be thrown their way–most of which will not be used to fight terror but, as history has shown, augment it. Just take a look, if you will, at the fact U.S. policy since WWII has a tendency to support fundamentalists (the Saudi Kingdom) all over the Muslim world first as a bullwark against socialism and nationalism (like Nasser) and any leader that chooses to develop their country rather than lay supine at the feet of Western imperialists–look at what Iraqi society once was and look at what Afghani society once was–and for that matter look at Iran under Mossadeq.

      The U.S. wants terrorism to flourish and does very little to stop it. I will say that there are agents that do try and work hard but they are outranked by CIA-centered operatives who undermine them at every turn. We have to remember to tally up how many people are killed by U.S. imperialists and their puppets and compare to how many people are killed by extremists in the ME and Europe.

  12. Andrew Watts

    RE: Official: Federal prosecutors want felony charges against Petraeus

    (Note: I am not an admirer or fan of General Petraeus. I actually think he belongs in prison for a variety of reasons. Keep that in mind when reading the following.)

    The prosecution of Petraeus would probably be a “huge mistake” for this country as a whole. While it would demonstrate that the FBI/DoJ isn’t playing any sides in any political disagreements (…) it will alienate his supporters and likely the US military. None of this is necessary so I propose a presidential pardon for Petraeus and a few other people. President Obama could claim these pardons were being made in the spirit of national reconciliation and letting the past be the past.

    Furthermore this action has a sound basis and precedent with former CIA Director / DCI John Deutch’s pardon by President Clinton for a similar offense… but if Petraeus is the only person who receives a pardon than f— all that noise. By the way, I had a good laugh at people who claimed Edward Snowden committed treason. As if Deutch wasn’t guilty of some “light treason” in his day. Seriously, taking a computer full of classified material / top secret material with access to the DoD/Pentagon onto the internet… yeah, that was probably a bad idea.

    1. Andrew Watts

      D’oh! I forgot to include the obligatory links to Arrested Development. If you’re interested in that just look the quotes up on Youtube.

    2. Grizziz

      Ditto on your parenthetical statement. These charges are mere Kabuki to get Petraeus to shut up. I cannot speculate why, but being neck deep in the GWOT he knows where a panoply of bodies are buried.

    3. Howard Beale IV

      The UCMJ applies to retired members as well as active members. Why he wasn’t charged under the UCMJ is a scandal in of itself, let alone that the DOJ has been dragging its heels here.

      1. bob

        Holder still sitting in his seat, that he doesn’t want anymore, is probably part of this show. The new nominee for AG should have cleared the senate and be sitting by now. Why isn’t she?

        A guess? Schumer, and his loyalty to the kennedy-cuomo-clinton aristocracy, want Preet in the AG office. Preet may want it too. He named Sheldon Silver in a non-news cycle release over the holiday.

        Something changed from the time when they announced Holders replacement to the time when she should have been seated, aka two weeks ago.

  13. Andrew Watts

    RE: Where the Pivot Went Wrong – And How To Fix It

    It’s fairly obvious this person hasn’t opened a history book on World War II. The Philippines and Singapore are both strategic liabilities. Especially if the goal is the containment and encirclement of China. The original war nerd, Homer Lea, foresaw the coming war between Japan and America and almost the exact invasion plan specifically the route the Japanese would use to annihilate American and Filipino forces and conquer the islands. Additionally he believed that a military confrontation between the Anglo-Saxons and Slavic, Asian (Oriental), and Teutonic “races” was inevitable and would end in disaster for the empire of the Anglo-Saxons.

    Lea was an insufferable militarist and social darwinist but those biographical details don’t necessarily make him wrong. When Teddy Roosevelt realized that the American possession of the Philippines was the Achilles heel of the US military’s position in the Pacific he quickly turned against the idea of American empire and turned his focus towards maintaining influence in our traditional sphere of influence.

    When will they admit the so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’ has failed?

  14. Andrew Watts

    *Huff… puff… wheeze*

    RE: The NSA and the art of the Friday news dump

    It’s more important that this material is declassified and released to the general public. Even though 9/11 happened and Senator Moynihan passed away none of that changed the terms of the deal that was struck. Where everything is secret nothing will ever stay as such for very long.

    Speaking of that material I should probably cover the Patriot Act Section 215 report that was just released over the holidays. It covers a few issues that are similar to the cross posts that have been featured on Naked Capitalism lately.

  15. gonzomarx

    Circle in talks to exit private contract to run Hinchingbrooke hospital
    Healthcare company managing Britain’s first privately run NHS hospital blames funding cuts and surge in A&E demand (Ha-Ha)

    no demo’s, hashtags or even much coverage for these victims.
    Boko Haram’s ‘deadliest massacre’: 2,000 feared dead in Nigeria

  16. David in NY

    Pardon me for being a stickler about WaPo’s English usage, but Hillary is not part of any dynasty. None of her ancestors were prominent or in politics.

    1. McMike

      well, of course the term can refer to powerful groups or families.

      But perhaps the WaPo was referring to the TV show. Wherein everything is contrived, made up, not as it seems, and subject to post-facto revision.

    2. Vatch

      Catherine “the Great” of Russia was German, but she’s considered part of the Russian Romanov dynasty as a result of her marriage. Hillary is married to Bill, so if she becomes president, she could be considered part of a Clinton dynasty. There’ve been a lot of dynasties in U.S. politics; some presidents, some in the Senate and governorships. Here are a few:

      Adams, Lee, Harrison, Taft, Long, Kennedy, Daley, Stevenson, Rockefeller, Cuomo, Bush.

    3. Ssam Kanu

      Pardon me for being a stickler about WaPo’s English usage, but Hillary is not part of any dynasty. None of her ancestors were prominent or in politics.

      So you’re saying….you knew Eva Peron and Hillary Clinton is no Evita?

      Well that’s a relief, because all other signs point to us sliding to banana republic levels. I expect congress to shortly decare that their jobs are lifetime positions, will be handed down to their children or wives. And they will start wearing red sashes while in session.

      Would make sense, since lobbyists are now droppng that career to be congressmen!

  17. DJG

    There is a fundamental tension among the monotheist religions that is being played out. First, each considers itself an / the exclusive guardian of truth. Each also considers itself the successor of others. So you have Judaism as the progression of monotheism and the wiping out of rival gods–all of those Ba’als who couldn’t get their altars to ignite. Then you have Christianity conceiving itself the fulfillment of Judaism–the revenge of Paul, I suppose. Anti-Jewish riots by Christians go way back–and then Christians turned to descrating temples and oracles of the Greek/Roman gods. Islam considers itself the fulfillment of prophecy in the fullness of time. What could go wrong? Jealous god who seeks to have sons sacrificed to Himself (Isaac, Jesus, Ishmael). The exclusivity of monotheism with regard to other beliefs (Epicurus and his skepticism about the interest of the godhead sure was repressed). Idols to be smashed. Theological omnishambles.

  18. DJG

    I’d also point out that when the But Brigade goes on about French laws and Islamic head coverings, the French response is that they’ve spend 250 years getting religion out of the public sphere–including the school system. That’s why there are no crucifixes in French public schools. It may seem like an overly pure form of secularism, but the U.S. version, with exceptions like In God We Trust on coinage, keeps allowing the religious in places where they don’t belong. You may argue with French secularism, but you don’t have in France the equivalent of Republican rightwinters and Sarah Palin fanboys who claim that separation of church and state is not what the U.S. was founded on. (Tell that to James Madison, who argued against a chaplain in the national legislature.)

    1. Ed

      “Tell that to James Madison, who argued against a chaplain in the national legislature”

      This is a tangent to your point, which is good, but given that the House of Commons met in a church for much of its history, and there is a piece of daily business that was (and still might be) called “Prayers”, a descendant of the religious services that opened the sessions, Madison’s idea wasn’t going to fly. People forget that the US got independence and established its Constitution before the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and American political thought has had problems getting out of the eighteenth century. I also suspect that if Congress had started out without a chaplain, it would have acquired one eventually, along with all the other American traditions that were in fact invented during the twentieth century.

  19. jfleni

    RE– Edward Snowden on Cyber Warfare.

    I have always had reservations about Snowden and his actions, but it must be said, that he now looks like a moral and intellectual giant compared to the stumple-bum morons of DogPatch-DC.

    1. barrisj

      Agreed…given the huge amount of attention given on this blog as well as across the Internets on “Charlie”, the Bamford/Snowden/Nova interview is utterly fascinating in its breadth and depth in all matters “cyber”, and tremendously important for all that. His point about the NSA morphing from “Security” to “Surveillance” in its actual mission has been reported on before, but not in the contexts offered by Snowden. And the salient points made about “offensive” v. “defensive” cyberwarfare needs a huge national airing, as the entire objective of the grotesque militarisation of the Internet by the US has been to create and exploit security weaknesses in systems used globally, including by America itself! Rather than try to fix these exploitable and vulnerable “attack points” – and render the entire global system more safe and secure, the main emphasis is to increase the risk of catastrophic breakdowns by perpetuating and refining this points of vulnerability, ultimately to the detriment of every government, private corporations, and private individuals who depend upon a secure Internet environment. An absolutely must-read piece, and really demonstrates how immensely vital Edward Snowden’s knowledge of the NSA and of the pernicious end-use of technology
      that normatively must be secure from manipulation from any source.

        1. barrisj

          Also, my man Dan Froomkin has a interview posted with Scott Norton, on Norton’s new book, “Lords of Secrecy”, which goes into depth on what is called “the national security elite” and how this elite takes it upon itself to decide critical national policies on surveillance, “cyberwarfare”, counterterrorism activity, including establishing black sites, torture, “Stuxness” ops, the lot, with virtually zero public involvement or discussion. Worth a read:

          Q&A: On the Untouchable ‘Lords of Secrecy’

    1. Banger

      The Saudi royals have been the direct tool of U.S./Western intel since even before WWII. They may be the most corrupt and deeply disgusting collection of human beings we have seen since the end of WWII. It is no wonder they are so close to the Bush family. Anything and everything these guys do is about maintaining the power of the Anglo/American alliance. I believe the price was bound to drop quite a bit simply by supply and demand–I think the Saudis just gave it a gentle push to keep their market share and help the U.S. in its crusade against Russia.

      Interestingly, this may cause the Russians to abandon being a petro-state and focus on actually building a productive and modern economy in the style of China. We shall see if Putin can step out of the shadow of neoliberalism and his own oligarchs.

      1. Paul Niemi

        I do think that is an interesting possibility. Russia has the resources. On the other hand, the oil collapse will soon start causing debt defaults and bankruptcies. The question becomes, if that will be contained, or if it will start a real financial conflagration that grows and spreads?

      2. Yves Smith

        Please explain the oil shock of 1973. They are most certainly of acting independently and hurting the West in a very large way when it is in their interest.

      3. different clue

        It seems to me like the KSA actions are more than a crusade against Putin. They seem to me to be a crusade against domestic Frackin’ & Bakken oil. Unless they are doing it on the secret behalf of Major American Oil Companies, how is this a pro-American policy?

    2. john gleason

      Chris Cooke has an interesting article about the price of oil over at European Tribune which throws a different light upon the drop in price. (Sorry haven’t learned how to copy and paste.)

      1. john gleason

        I should have added that Mr. Cooke thinks Saudi Arabia’s use of “prepaid credit” in conjunction with Goldman Sachs and Chase and the stoppage of Q3 is the reason for the sudden drop in oil prices.

        1. Paul Niemi

          I saw Cooke’s graph. I have said oil was in a bubble. The price was supported above market after 2008 by a cartel of investors, including the big banks, which bid up oil futures, even stored oil in rented tankers offshore. I would point out that the Fed’s policy of ZIRP, zero interest rate loans for the big banks, started at the same time as the beginning of QE, shown in the graph. Indeed, interest rate suppression preceded the oil price increases prior to 2008, when there wasn’t any QE, and that previous crash was precipitated as the Fed was raising interest rates. The end of QE may have helped pop the latest bubble, but it would have burst anyway. To respond to prices above $100 a barrel, producers had ramped up production, with the cheap money available, at a rate above growth in demand, and since oil has a high price-elasticity of demand the high price could not last. At the same time, growth in demand was slowed by the same high oil prices.

          1. john gleason

            I take it that you do not think “prepaid credit” usage has nothing to do with oil price collapse?
            If you sold a credit slip at $10.00 to someone and was able to redeem that credit slip at $0.10, would you not redeem it?

            1. Paul Niemi

              Is it true to say the Saudis sold coupons redeemable for oil in advance, and deposited the funds as reserves to draw upon in case of an oil price crash? The other side of the trade would have been expecting oil to keep rising in price? Or was this arrangement to get access to the Fed discount window or to borrow money without usury through repurchase agreements? I don’t understand it, so I don’t know, but if they knew the price was too high and would eventually fall, then hedging somehow, without alerting other producers, would indeed be very shrewd behavior.

      2. Jackrabbit

        We now have multiple explanations. It may be that some combination of these best explains the price drop.

        Some comments about the QE/ZIRP theory:

        1) We don’t (yet?) have info regarding how manipulated the market was. For example: what is the size and extent of the “prepaid credit” sold? Who were the principal buyers (allegedly funds seeking an interest hedge)? etc.

        2) As Paul Niemi points out, all prices were even higher in the period before the 2008 GFC. Over $140 a barrel. To what extent did the market “learn its lesson” from the price drop in 2008-9? Does that explain why prices topped out in this last cycle at about $115?

        3) The global economy is weak, but it seems to be stronger than early 2009. This, together with the ‘price discipline’ described in #2 would imply a higher bottom in this cycle (we may already be there).

        4) The Saudi refusal to help stabilize the market in November still raises questions. In the interview with Ms. Bartiromo, the Saudi Prince doesn’t mention the end of QE/ZIRP. Instead, he talks about other producers – especially Shale Oil and (suspiciously) seems to pretend to know less than one would expect about the market. When Shale Oil can’t get financing, it is ‘run off’ and that occurs about $80 (as far as I can determine).

        5) Benanke’s intended end of QE in August 2013 – about the same time that Syria was to be bombed – comes into sharper focus. Bombing Syria would’ve angered Russia and Iran. Was the US/Fed timing the drop in oil prices with geopolitical events? In November 2013 Obama’s negotiations with Iran was announced and the Ukrainian protesters were camped at the Maidan.

  20. Jackrabbit

    A Saudi prince would never lie – especially to Maria Bartiromo.

    What a croc.
    That no one expected that the price would fall dramatically only 6 months ago (“. . . the minister of oil in Saudi Arabia just in July publicly said $100 is a good price for consumers and producers.) and actually supports that the degree of the price drop is not market driven.

    Plus, setting the frame of reference to “6-months ago” – before the Saudi’s had determined to take any action – allows the Price to utter truthful untruths. That Maria, our crack M$M reporter allows such manipulation says all you need to know. Just to further drive this home: the Prince also claims not to know how prices will affect the Shale producers. That is BS. The Saudis probably have as good info on the market as ANYONE so they know with a high degree of certainty what effect a certain price has on other producers.


    As I’ve said several times at NC (HOP back to see), The Saudi’s could’ve stabilized prices at about $80 with a threat to go lower. Other OPEC members were willing to work with them to do that. Now they are losing more than $30/barrel than they had to (about 40%) so that they can pump an additional 1 million barrels (assuming that other OPEC members would also cut back – and there is every reason to believe that they would) or much less than 10% of their production??? Do the math. They are losing MUCH MUCH more than they really had to.

    H O P

    1. Jackrabbit

      If Bartiromo was more interested in the truth than in her relationship with the wealthy and powerful Prince, she might asked questions like:

      Was the oil price discussed at Kerry’s meeting with the Saudi’s in September?Did you give USA any advance warning of your intentions? Has the Obama Administration tried to persuade you to not not drop the price?

      As the swing producer, your pricing philosophy and actions have a great influence on Shale Oil investors. So why didn’t you (and other OPEC countries) take action against Shale Oil years ago? What caused you to become so hell-bent on market share early this fall?

      Shale Oil wells that are currently producing are likely to keep pumping until they run dry. The profit maximizing strategy, then, is to simply cut off financing to the Shale Oil producers. Publicly available info indicate that Shale Oil funding would stop at a price about $80 – and a threat to bring the price down further if funding for Shale Oil continues would also have helped to deter funding – so WHY DIDN’T the Saudi’s work with OPEC to stabilize the price at about $80?

  21. Banger

    I’m not sure the killing of cartoonists was about religion but is, rather, about power. Power will flow to the martinets on all sides. I do know that the killers were known to the security services and allowed to go on about their military activities–I suggest to you that the authorities are perfectly happy when terror events “shock” the public in giving up their civil liberties (surveillance is mainly used to harass peaceful dissidents) and throwing money and power at the security services. Just as the U.S. military is uninterested in a peaceful world (what would they do then?) the security services thrive when terror strikes. “They” kill a dozen or more people and its the end of the world though when we kill thousands (the toll in Iraq may well be over a couple of hundred thousands–who knows?–the intel services have done everything they can to stop any accounting) it is of no consequence.

  22. Jack

    What I’m finding really disheartening about so much of the discussion about these attacks is that it seems many people have forgotten (or never learned in the first place) lessons they were taught as children. Namely ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ and ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. So the newspaper insulted you. And? Don’t read it, or respond in a variety of non-violent ways. The idea that the paper ‘shouldn’t have poked the bear’ is insane. It wasn’t a bear! It was thinking human beings who decided to murder in response to, what, emotional distress? They could have just not read the damn newspaper, which was apparently experiencing falling circulation anyway, which means these guys had to go out of their way to get a copy so they could be ‘offended’. You wouldn’t say a guy getting knifed in an alley was justified because he said something about the attackers mother, would you? I don’t see how this is fundamentally any different.

    These attackers were bastards, and utterly in the wrong. I’m willing to explore why they became bastards, and what steps can be taken to prevent future people from becoming radicalized bastards, but bastards they were, and their attack completely indefensible. Further I’m well aware of the hypocrisy both in terms of how little the West actually values free-speech when it deems it inconvenient and in the outrage over 17 deaths but little or no outrage for all the slaughter in parts of the world where ‘only’ a dozen or so killings would be a good day, often as the direct or indirect result of Western policies. But murder is murder, it should be condemned in all circumstances. And I don’t see how these civilians are supposed to be culpable for the actions of their government.

    Given how the JeSuisCharlie hashtag has taken off I’m confident most of the people re-tweeting it are genuinely defending freedom of speech as a principle, not specifically the ‘offensive’ cartoons that were printed. And I stand behind that view. No one should have to be scared of voicing an opinion because they’re scared of violent retaliation. And once you start down the path of censorship for ‘hate speech’ how long until the Ministry of Culture is shutting down dissenting voices? I can guarantee you naked capitalism is high on many important peoples lists of things they wish they could shutdown.

    And finally this whole affair has really opened my eyes to the inhumanity of much of the Moon of Alabama and especially the Saker community. Comment after comment with opinions ranging from a complete lack of empathy and dismissal of the deaths to claims that the magazine staff deserved to die because they were ‘imperialist propagandists’. I’ll still visit those sites but from this point forward I’ll be taking any outrage over dead Muslims or slaughtered Donbass civilians with a grain of salt. France and the West may be selective in regards to the sanctity of free-speech, but those two communities are clearly very selective in regards to the sanctity of human life.

    1. Jackrabbit

      It’s certainly a dilemma for Western people. I think maybe religion clouds the issue so I’ll attempt to put this in different terms (apologies in advance for any offence – this is just an exercise to illuminate the issue).

      Would you remain steadfast to your ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘sanctity of life’ beliefs if you were the victim of a home invasion that resulted in the death(s) of family AND the criminals:

      a) got off because they could afford the best attorneys who engaged in ‘blaming the victim’ (WMD! backward beliefs!) and plead temporary insanity (“we tortured some folks”); and

      b) made boatloads of money from an outrageous book/publication that mocked your beliefs and implied that your family ‘had it coming’ in some way (while claiming that they themselves were exceptional and moral people)??

      Furthermore, you might ask yourself if our foreign policy really reflects what US/European people want and believe? and “makes us safe.” Or does it benefit a small number at the very top that have hijacked our Democracies?

      You are rightly disturbed by what has occurred. And you will get no argument from me about sanctity of life and other such values. But where fault really lies is not so clear. In my view, M$M propaganda seeks to narrow our view by focusing on the ‘terr0rists” and the horror. That is because they know that what our leaders/elites are doing/enabling does not conform with our values.

      H O P

    2. Banger

      These “bastards” were well known to the security services–and it is useful to the security services to have these events increase their power and budgets. Since no one ever bears the consequences of either military or security failures in the West there is little incentive to be successful. Now it’s either incompetence or some kind of “let it happen” scenario.

      Also missing from your comment is a body count. Perhaps we should compare who has been killing who in what numbers. Twelve Westerners is worth thousands of dead bodies of wogs–right? Certainly I think there are few sorts of people worse than religious fanatics so don’t think I approve of these actions nor do I think they are in any way justified no matter how rude the cartoon. I think, in fact, religion needs to be questioned and critiqued as much as possible–it gets too much of a free ride.

      1. Vatch

        Regarding body count, I think we’ve encountered a false dichotomy. It’s a bit like the Michael Brown case versus the murdered New York police officers. Which lives matter? Everyone’s life matters: Muslims, cartoonists, African Americans, police officers, and the billions of people who don’t fit into one of those four categories.

  23. fresno dan
    All images of Piss Christ have since been scrubbed from AP’s website—they’re all gone, including legitimately newsworthy photos of a vandalized Piss Christ. In an attempt to explain the memoryholing of Piss Christ, the AP says they’ve “revised and reviewed our policies since 1989.” The implication: Piss Christ should’ve been removed from the AP’s website years ago and its presence until yesterday afternoon was an oversight. (Perhaps the AP will send the Washington Examiner a thank-you note for bringing this matter to their attention.) The AP’s explanation is complete and total bullshit. They didn’t pull down those images of Piss Christ because they were “deliberately provocative.” The AP pulled them down because they’re afraid.

    Here’s what the AP should’ve said to Christian conservatives screaming about Piss Christ and double standards: “Yeah, we blurred out those Charlie Hebdo cartoons because we’re afraid of them. We didn’t do the same to Piss Christ because we’re not afraid of you.”

    You can’t have real freedom of discussion if someone can pull the “You have offended my…honor…mother…wife…religion…..mustache….and you must die”
    It is bad enough in this country that some have been threatened with terrorism laws that CANNOT EVEN BE REVEALED. Its a slippery slope that ends in Orwell’s world.

  24. buffalo cyclist

    It will be interesting to see what Bernie Sanders proposes as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

  25. Chauncey Gardiner

    Lambert, Thank you for the link to the Stars & Stripes article regarding the ongoing investigation of possible security violations by Petraeus and Lt. Col. Broadwell. Reading elsewhere of concerns about the possibility of deeper issues.

    I hope there is a thorough investigation of this matter and that judicial proceedings are initiated if warranted.

  26. Lambert Strether Post author

    That last link on #BlackLivesMatter “demands” is important, and oddly, or not, this story isn’t getting any coverage. Remember how Occupy never issued any demands?

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