Links 1/15/15

The World of Internet Memes Embraces the Year of the Goat WSJ

How well-intentioned Americans trying to save monarch butterflies may actually be destroying them WaPo

J.P. Morgan’s Dimon Says Big Is Beautiful WSJ. Dimon: “Banks are under assault.” Cheese with that?

Dimon warns breaking up JPMorgan would hurt US financial power FT. Dimon: “I wouldn’t want to see the next JPMorgan Chase be a Chinese company.” Really? What’s wrong with infesting the economy of a global competitor with lethal parasites?

Agents Raid Office Of Man Who Helped Inspire Hollywood Film CBS Miami. Film: The Wolf of Wall Street. Clue stick: Wall Street isn’t actually in Miami, and the 40 FBI agents (!) deployed in the raid might have been better employed going after big fish in their natural habitat.

How Amazon Tricks You Into Thinking It Always Has the Lowest Prices re/code

Retail sales fall shakes confidence in US recovery FT

Bank of Korea cuts 2015 outlook for South Korean economy AP

What, Us Worry? Economists Stay Upbeat as Markets See Trouble Bloomberg. A “wall of worry.”

Caesars Largest Unit to File Own Chapter 11 Bankruptcy WSJ

Inflation Doesn’t Hurt So Much, Does It? Bloomberg

Forget Emerging Markets. Hot Topic at Davos 2015 Is the U.S. Bloomberg

Oil

We burn 2.7 million gallons a minute, so why’s oil so cheap? AP

Back to the Future? Oil Replays 1980s Bust WSJ

Lower Oil Prices and the World Economy Conversable Economist

Oil projects worth billions put on hold FT

Grexit?

The End of TINA Jacobin

New Opinion Poll Puts SYRIZA 3.4 Percentage Points Ahead of New Democracy Greek Reporter

Let us hope for a Syriza victory Mainly Macro

Spanish PM backs Samaras, stresses risk of anti-austerity sirens Ekathimerini

Moody’s: Greece exit from euro zone unlikely, less risk of contagion than in 2012 Reuters

It’s time we reconsidered the principle that states must always repay their sovereign debt London School of Economics

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Five Yemeni inmates released from Guantanamo Al Jazeera. I’m trying to recall cases where released Gitmo detainees were interviewed by the press, and I can only think of the Tipton Three. Odd that there aren’t more, or am I not recalling them? You’d think there’s be an alumni association, with reunions and so forth.

It’s Time to End Torture Lee Hamilton, HuffPo. Kudos, but who would be stupid enough to believe us if we said we had? There is only one way to do that, and that’s to put the torturers on trial, and convict them.

CIA finds no wrongdoing in agency’s search of computers used by Senate investigators WaPo. Attaboy, Evan Bayh, who led the “internal panel.”

Low-Hanging Fruit LRB. The show trial of the Holy Land Foundation.

German investigation of the cooperation between NSA and BND (III) Electrospaces

Falsehoods programmers believe about addresses Michael Tandy. Uber-nerdy, but if you want insight into the challenges surveillance warehouses face in getting useful information out of their big data in the general case, read it, and then use your imagination. One also might imagine a secondary market developing in glitchy addresses….

Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close Daily Beast

Buchenwald concentration camp immigration plan criticised Daily Telegraph. Ooopsie on those optics…

Class Warfare

Battling Global Unemployment: Too Soon to Declare Victory iMFdirect. “[I]n advanced economies, monetary policy should continue to support the recovery in demand and policies to reduce public debt must be as growth-friendly as possible.” Look! It’s a square circle!

Philippine Catholic Church struggles with social costs of labour migration Reuters

London’s Poor Fetish The Baffler

Town Halls Occupied in Guerrero, Mexico for Ayotzinapa Telesur

Leaked Records Reveal Offshore Holdings of China’s Elite ICIJ. With handy chart.

Do Fashion Trends Still Exist? The Business of Fashion. It’s like there’s now HFT in coolness….

New Research May Solve Puzzle in Sea Level’s Rise Times

Bitcoin revealed: a Ponzi scheme for redistributing wealth from one libertarian to another WaPo

Yep, Gasoline Lead Explains the Crime Decline in Canada Too Mother Jones

Thoughts on Violence Corey Robin

The Small Miracle You Haven’t Heard About Amid the Carnage in Syria TPM. Ignore the icky heart-warming title. Readers, can you contextualize?

Antidote du jour:

antidote_mule_deer

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.

93 comments

  1. wbgonne

    New Research May Solve Puzzle in Sea Level’s Rise

    The article title buries the lead, which is that the seas are rising far more rapidly than previously thought. Luckily for us, AGW is a myth so all that water is imaginary.

    1. different clue

      Again I say: this is a wonderful contrarian investment opportunity for all those people who say they have reason to believe the ocean is not neither rising and “global warming” is a liberal hoax. They should all buy oceanside beachfront property. Then we will see they really believe what they tell the rest of us.

  2. Ulysses

    The piece linked above from the Baffler about London instantly made me think of Williamsburg and Bushwick:

    “This is the romantic illusion that these bars, clubs and street food markets construct; that their customers are the ones on the edge of life, running the gauntlet of Zola’s Les Halles, eating local on makeshift benches whilst drinking beer from the can. Yet this zest is vicarious—only experienced second-hand through objects and spaces that have been sanitized enough for the middle classes to inhabit. Spaces that have been duly cleansed of anybody who is actually working class; the former clientele both excluded by the increased prices and relegated to the roles of service staff.”

    I am convinced that there is a cultural, and not merely vulture capitalist profit-seeking, incentive behind the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs here in the U.S. Many bourgeois Americans are embarrassed when they see actual workers who do actual hard, physical work. They want to put our industrial past into a museum, and turn former hubs of productive activity into places for trust-fund hipsters to hang out. They do put in long hours at what they call “work,” on powerpoint slide-shows, sales-forecast charts, market studies, etc. They want to feel that they are “workers” too– even though nearly all of their efforts are oriented towards extracting wealth, with very little effort invested in actually producing useful things.

    1. MartyH

      Ulysses, thanks for that thought. I have been trying to pull that from the cotton-candy that passes for a brain between my ears for some time now. We, all of us, want to feel like we’re “working hard”, being “manly” (or whatever), etc. and therefore want what we do to be “real work.” There is definitely a sense that we would like actual physical labor to disappear so we can feel like what we do is “the real work” supporting society.

      Hard to do with a straight face, I know. I guess everyone thinks it is worth a try.

      1. McMike

        I once asked a doctor friend to explain why he was worth several multiple more money than a coal miner, whos job may well kill him sooner or later.

        I work hard he insisted.

        Uh huh.

        Aside recouping some costs and investment, it is very clear that how hard you work has nothing to do with it.

        1. James Levy

          I learned that lesson when, out of college, I took a job running a summer education and recreation program in Jersey City (pre-gentrification). My kids were overwhelmingly Hispanic. There mom’s worked one job, their dad’s often two or three–they were never around, which is why the program was actually so important. Of course, they were also poor as church mice, despite having mom and dad gone all day working. This convinced me that the crap I had heard all my life in the white suburbs about hard work and getting ahead was just that–crap. These people worked harder than anyone I had ever known, and had nothing. The connective tissue linking hard work and wealth was forever severed in my head, and I’m damn glad for that.

        2. lee

          By selling insurance, I made more money than many doctors and now my insurance company pension still provides a multiple of what coal miners earn. Prior to selling insurance I worked as a janitor, a logger, and as a boilermaker at oil refineries among other mostly dirty, dangerous jobs. By making the transition from blue collar to white collar work, which was more the result of luck than the product of prudent choices, I got paid a great deal more for doing quite a bit less.

    2. Christopher Dale Rogers

      Ulysses,

      Great post, those that do work are castigated and despised, whilst those who make work, most of it imaginative and extractive must be adulated. Just look at Dimon’s comments today to get the gist of this nonsense, still, it is Gods work after all – although no where in the King James Bible can I find that particular quip.

    3. McMike

      Sometimes i go into all those gentrifying neighborhoods, with their mix of bars hanging on that still have 7 am happy hours and artists fixing up warehouses and chefs opening up in rough neighborhoods and want to run down the street shouting: dont do it!

      1. wbgonne

        bars hanging on that still have 7 am happy hours

        Long ago I worked the dayshift at a GM assembly-line plant. We’d all hit the local bar for egg sandwiches and the oldtimers would get “special” coffees to start the day. That wasn’t healthy, obviously, and even then the younger folks thought it was crazy. Unless, of course, you’re in New Orleans where livers never sleep.

    4. DJG

      Excellent point. Hannah Arendt might say that hipsters do labor whereas people in the trades and crafts still produce work. So the hipsters are dressing up to pretend that they are tool-and-dye makers, lumberjacks, cabinetmakers, and silversmiths when they are gofers at Groupon. No wonder there’s no class consciousness–there is no work, only the process of processing things and the endless sorting of distribution systems.

      I see this false consciousness in my neighborhood in Chicago all the time. The most visible recent example is a “gastropub,” a category that is a sacramental among the hip, that charges 20 dollars and up for an entree–but serves the water at table in Mason jars. ‘Cuz we’se the people, right out of Grapes of Wrath.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Physical labor, up to a point, including some farming or garden work, is healthy for you. But you have to judge for yourself.

        It’s not healthy if only the overseer decides how much you should exert yourself.

    5. John Merryman

      Not to pop the bubble, but don’t overthink it. We needed to send the jobs overseas and print the money to pay for the product, in order to globalize the dollar. Everything else is just backwash. The upper 10% riding the wave and the rest drowning in a global workforce.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And we can print as much as we want without ever having to concern ourselves with the IMF or the World Bank telling us what to do.

    6. Jerry Denim

      “They want to put our industrial past into a museum, and turn former hubs of productive activity into places for trust-fund hipsters to hang out.”

      Yeah, exactly. Not too many Long Shoreman roaming the streets of the Brooklyn waterfront these days. Red Hook has Ikea and Pok Pok.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Bloomberg catches up to Lambert, who several days ago detailed the exquisite tax headaches coming for Obamacare victims consumers with subsidized policies:

    The biggest change for most taxpayers is on Line 61 of Form 1040: a box to check if you have health insurance and a tax to pay if you don’t. Millions who received insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges will have a more complicated set of calculations to complete.

    One issue with the mandate is that workers won’t get statements from employers that say whether their insurance met the law’s requirements for minimum coverage. The IRS delayed that requirement until the 2016 tax filing year, and the lack of information will limit the government’s ability to enforce the law.

    The other complication is figuring out whether any of the exemptions to the penalty apply. A bonus or a move to a higher-paying job could cause some to owe the government money that they never actually received — because it was sent straight to the insurance company.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-15/have-obamacare-you-may-need-it-to-get-through-tax-filing-season.html

    So here comes yet tax form that employers will have to file, stating not only wages paid, but also whether employees were covered by a qualified health plan or not. But that’s not till 2017 (for the 2016 tax year).

    Meanwhile, one can infer that there is no matching program for the legendary ‘box on line 61.’ Those who received subsidies obviously are on the hook to file Form 8962, reproduced in all its complexificated glory in Lambert’s post. But for rejectionist hooligans who are neither covered nor signed up, Box 61 is essentially an honor system. Unless something else calls attention to a return (such as claiming excessive deductions), no return is likely to be examined simply because Box 61 was incorrectly checked.

  4. Carolinian

    The Ukraine crisis may be mostly off the radar screen at the moment but this is somewhat interesting. Orlov explains Russia.

    http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2015/01/peculiarities-of-russian-national.html

    Meanwhile: et tu Frontline?

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2015/01/14/vladimir-putin-frontlines-way/

    This is the political dynamic of recent Russian history the Western press (and to some degree academia) stubbornly refuses to accept despite overwhelming evidence – that the alternative to so-called Putinism was not liberal democracy, it was chaotic rule by a greedy gang of crony capitalists. The power struggle was not between the people and the elite but among the elite with the average Russian mostly siding with the faction led by Putin who promised order and a semblance of the state system many preferred compared to the whirlwind of instability that “freedom” had brought thanks to the oligarchs. Democracy was never on the table in post-Soviet Russia and it still isn’t. Furthermore, if the Putin government collapses, as some in DC truly hope for, it will not be the Moscow liberals that take power but bellicose reactionaries even more determined to restore the Russian Empire. And for all the buffoonish behavior of the Russian reactionaries that makes them appear fantastic and cartoonish the nuclear weapons they will control are quite real.

    But, if anything, the Russian political and economic system must have been familiar to Frontline. Like Russia, the US also has an elite that largely exists above the law – a phenomenon in the US well documented by Frontline in their aptly named program The Untouchables which made it abundantly clear that it was due to incestuous connections between policymakers and economic elites – not an absence of criminality – that led to there being no prosecutions for the financial crimes that brought the US and world economy to its knees in 2008.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Last night, the Zerohedge site got hoaxed into posting a Daily Mail article about a Russian cutoff of gas to Ukraine on 1 Jan 2009. The article has only ‘Updated’ appearing the date field. A report of ‘oil reaching a three-week high of $49.91 in New York yesterday’ gives an ersatz impression of the article having been written yesterday.

      But a reference to ‘Israel’s military operation in Gaza’ (27 Dec 2008 – 18 Jan 2009) is the giveaway that the article in fact is from six years ago. A Google search shows that dozens of other blogs picked up the ZH post last night and reported it as fact:

      http://tinyurl.com/mypd84t

      This morning, the hoax post has been removed from ZH without a peep of explanation or apology. Down the memory hole … it never happened. So much for journalistic integrity!

      1. Clive

        Jim, did you really just manage to put “ZH” and “journalistic integrity” together in the same paragraph ? That’s no small achievement… at least they weren’t in the same sentence.

    2. anon1

      Carolinian – I too found the Orlov article interesting as it is pure propaganda, albeit from a different perspective. The meme of “there is no racial tension in Russia” comes across as a bit too thick and makes me wonder if Orlov has been to Russia recently. Orlov fails to mention the Western Ukraine as an area where two cultures that share a language that is 40% common where not able to get along, and paints a picture of Chechens as integrated into Russia in a peaceful and harmonious way.

      The different perspective is useful but the article is no less wishful thinking than many NYT articles.

      1. Banger

        Actually Western and Eastern Ukraine did get along for a long time, more or less. In my view, this conflict like many conflicts in the world are fueled by Western operatives, in the case of Ukraine supporting neo-Nazis and so on. In the case of the ME pitting Shia against Sunni against secularists while always favoring the worst elements–the militarists, criminal gangs and, above all, eht crazed fundamentalists (the more crazy the more support they get).

        Having said that, the people involved in these conflicts bear even greater responsibility by lacking political sophistication and a robust culture to combat such effects–in essence they’ve allowed their hearts and minds to be captured due to weakness much like the American public has swallowed the most absurd sorts of lies promulgated by the oligarchs about itself and the world in general. We, Americans, deserve the bloated and corrupt military budgets we happily pay for.

      2. Anon E Mouse

        Some time ago there was a terrorist attack by takfiri wannabes in Chechnya. The Chechen security forces eliminated them. The leader of Chechnya, Kadyrov, then publicly apologized to Russia for allowing the terrorists to get into Chechnya.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYKUpzE9BFM

        More recently, Kadyrov assembled a significant part of his army and special forces and after a long speech pledging allegiance to Russia, asked them to confirm they had handed in their letters of resignation so they could join the Novorossian forces as individuals. So far, I think 300 have done so.

        http://russia-insider.com/en/2014/12/11/11-01-03am/chechens_loyal_russia_fight_alongside_east_ukraine_rebels

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irj_4IVLBP8

      3. Anon E Mouse

        Some time ago there was a terrorist attack by takfiri wannabes in Chechnya. The Chechen security forces eliminated them. The leader of Chechnya, Kadyrov, then publicly apologized to Russia for allowing the terrorists to get into Chechnya.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYKUpzE9BFM

        More recently, Kadyrov assembled a significant part of his army and special forces and after a long speech pledging allegiance to Russia, asked them to confirm they had handed in their letters of resignation so they could join the Novorossian forces as individuals. So far, I think 300 have done so, forming the ‘Death’ battalion.

        http://russia-insider.com/en/2014/12/11/11-01-03am/chechens_loyal_russia_fight_alongside_east_ukraine_rebels

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Irj_4IVLBP8

    3. montanamaven

      I highly recommend this week’s post from Dimitry Orlov. It is one of his best although every time I read him I wonder at how he can continually best himself. He truly is a superlative writer and ace historian. He describes how Russia is a place with

      infinite, although mostly quite diffuse, resources.

      It is a vast country of many waterways and the portage spaces in between them. So Russians bargained and traded with other peoples and avoided conflicts to insure peaceful trade routes.

      Thus, a very different conflict resolution strategy has emerged, which survives to this day. If you insult, aggrieve or otherwise harm a Russian, you are unlikely to get a fight (unless it happens to be a demonstrative beating held in a public setting, or a calculated settling of scores through violence). Instead, more likely than not, the Russian will simply tell you to go to hell, and then refuse to have anything further to do with you.

      We are now watching the “go to hell” phase as Russia continues to trade with other countries. The U.S. could do this too. What US Neocons and Neo Libs are trying to do as Napoleon and Hitler’s countries did before is try to steal Russia’s resources rather than buy them. Orlov doesn’t think that will work any better than it did before.

      1. Christopher Dale Rogers

        Which is what “Regime Change” is about, putting a neoliberal puppet in charge, or hoping to put one in charge and then financialise the hell out of the place after purchasing all assets for peanuts – however, i was under the impression that this was tried once under Yeltsin, apart from the fact it was a handful of Russian gangsters who purchased everything for a loaf of bread.

        No satisfying these buggers to put it in my usual language.

    1. Garrett Pace

      If there’s a less traveled National Park than Great Basin, I don’t know what it would be. I wonder what other treasures lay in plain view up on that mountain.

      It has a fun cave.

      1. bruno marr

        Is there a more remote national park in the lower 48? It is on the border of Nevada/Utah and since it’s designation in 1987 receives about 60,000 visitors/yr. (most of those visit only the stalactic Lehman Cave and not the 12,000′ Wheeler Peak).

        Given that some real old codgers (90+) lived in this area, the rifle may have only been “lost” for 50-60 years. In any case, like the bristle cone pines in the park, the rifle stock was probably some hard weathering wood.

    2. ambrit

      Well, the Wall of Pays is growing. We used to be able to cross link to a different story after reading the linked one. Now the WaPo gives me a popup telling me I have X free stories left for this month. Two days ago, the NYT gave me a screen cover asking for a log in or subscription when I cross clicked from an article linked to by NC. It may not be the overt intent of paywalls to suppress the free exchange of ideas and news, but it certainly works out that way. (There I go, using that four letter word again: Free.)

      1. craazyman

        that was so cool. I watched the whole epiisode whiile my froze dinner cooked!

        that was cool. whoa, how good was that? the writing, the acting, the camera work, the directing. that is just awesome stuff. As fresh today as 50 years ago.

        That is TV. I mean that’s really TV at it’s finest potential. it does’t get better than that. Only different, but no better. if anybody doesn’t call that true art they’re not even alive. Shlt. Can you imagine if that sort of thing happened to you? Whoa. it does happen actually, but people won’t believe it.

        1. ewmayer

          Glad you liked it, craazy — now before any “nattering nabobs of nincompoopery” object that “that story was supposedly set in 1847 – way more than 130 years ago!” — here’s the clincher: The IMBD page lists

          Goofs
          This story is set in 1847, and Christian Horn is carrying a Trap Door Springfield Rifle made in 1884.

          1884 – almost exactly 130 years ago. In other words the real rifle Cliff dropped in real life – not the alleged one his character dropped in TeeVee land – precisely matches the age of our ‘mystery rifle’. All it took was for the real-life rifle-picker-upper, or one of his descendants, to somehow end up not too far away at Great Basin with it, and, perhaps a tad delusional from the heat of the sun, decide that the right thing to do would be to leave the rifle out in plain sight in hopes that Cliff – either in real-life form or TeeVee character form – would retrieve it, thus lifting the dire “curse of the ill-gotten alleged-1847-but-really-1884-Springfield TeeVee show rifle” which had afflicted the clan of the real-life rifle-picker-upper ever since the wrap of shooting of that TZ episode.

          Thus, thanks to application of rigorous logical reasoning and the scientific method, mystery solved!, I say. Another triumph for truth, democracy and the American Way, enabled by the Interwebs and its wonderful Al Goreithms. (And h/t IMDB.com – please give generously on your next visit there.)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I go to the Claudius pizza chain. He’s always clowning around, though eventually, he will take it all.

    1. ambrit

      Why not, it’s basic Capitalism at work. All the big punters now play at the Wall Street and City Casinos. Creative destruction and all that. What makes me sad is that now Celine Dion will have to find another bosky glen to weave her Magic Canadien in. Oh my, and what about the Red Piano. I feel an attack of the Vapours coming on.

      1. optimader

        ” What makes me sad is that now Celine Dion will have to find another bosky glen to weave her Magic Canadien in..”
        She can ramble the Winnebago to Branson Missouri and be the opening act for Charo and Petula Clark while they’re backstage waitng for the ibuprophen to kick in.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Serves them right for being so stupid.

      The house always wins – unless they get greedy and build a monstrously expensive hotel on top of the house.

      You have to be REALLY stupid to lose money running a gambling outfit where the odds are heavily in your favor. And yet these ventures go belly up pretty often.

  5. Jim Haygood

    From our Monetary Disorder department:

    In a surprise statement that sent shockwaves through equities and currency markets, the [Swiss] central bank ended its cap of 1.20 franc per euro and reduced the interest rate on sight deposits.

    The franc appreciated as much as 41 percent to 85.17 centimes per euro, the strongest level on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At 2:55 p.m. in Zurich, the franc had given up some of those gains to trade at 1.02292 per euro.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-15/snb-unexpectedly-gives-up-cap-on-franc-lowers-deposit-rate.html

    Volatilize much? For currency traders (including banks) who operate with up to 100-to-1 leverage, a ten-sigma move of 41% is enough to wipe them out many times over. As our dear leader might quip, ‘We vaporized some folks.’

    Bruce Krasting, who had raised this possibility in several blog posts, interprets:

    ‘This confirms (to me) that a very big QE from the ECB is coming. Why else would the SNB have folded today? They looked around the corner, saw what the ECB was planning, and then ran for the hills.

    Whatever you were expecting from the ECB yesterday, you can double that amount today.’

    And indeed, the euro plunged to another nine-year-low of 1.1635 dollars.

    The global ‘QE race to the bottom’ is on … and we’re losing, comrades. Having the strongest currency on the planet is the old maid card. (See minutes of the last meeting, 1929-1933). Central bank egos are such that the Fed is not about to restart a program they just ended last October. U-turns hurt credibility.

    What’s to be done? More of the same, probably. We can make the Nasdaq into a monster, if we all buy together as a team!

    1. Paul Niemi

      It looks like a Maalox moment for hedge funds that shorted the Swiss Franc. I’ll be watching what they sell to cover the margin calls. Interesting day. I hope there are no jumpers, of course.

    2. MLS

      Any trader or hedge fund that was short the Swiss Franc deserves to get vaporized. The whole purpose of the SNB’s peg was to stop the Franc from rising due to the massive inflow of capital from Euro holders running for the hills. It was pretty obviously an undervalued currency vis-a-vis the Euro, and it would be criminally stupid to take the position that it would fall.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Heard from an ancient serf:

      Money, money everywhere, nor any dollop to little peons in red ink.

      1. ambrit

        Oh, oh! We had to learn that at school. Uh, what was it, oh, yes, I’ve got it, “The Rhyme of the Ancient Merchant Banker” by Cashrich!
        Thanks for bringing back a bank vault of memories!

  6. fresno dan

    Thoughts on Violence Corey Robin
    ========================================
    Psychological factors influence anyone’s decision to take up arms or to speak on behalf of those who do. But those who emphasize these factors tend to ignore the central tenet of their most subtle and acute analyst: that the normal person is merely a hysteric in disguise, that the rational is often irrationality congealed. If we are to go down the road of psychoanalyzing violence, why not put Henry Kissinger or the RAND Corporation on the couch too?

    There is more than a question of consistency at stake here, for the choice of psychology as the preferred mode of explanation often reflects little more than our own political prejudices. Violence we favor is deemed strategic and realistic, a response to genuine political exigencies. Violence we reject is dismissed as fanatic and lunatic, the outward manifestation of some inner drama. What gets overlooked in such designations is that violence is an inescapably human activity, reflecting a full range of concerns and considerations, requiring an empathic, though critical, attention to mind and world.
    ==============================================
    I am reminded of the old Soviet Union and its psychiatric hospitals for political dissidents.

    1. Eclair

      Nice quote, fresno dan. I am always disturbed by our leaders’ and our media’s characterization of the actions of the latest killers as “cowardly.”

      A small group of heavily-armed men rush into a hostile environment, take hostages and/or gun down a bunch of mostly unarmed people. If they are Muslim or any other group currently on “our” enemies list and the target is people on our current ‘friends/allies’ list, they are “cowards.” If they are Navy Seals and the target is Bin Laden, they are “heroic.”

      Any leader worthy of the name can indoctrinate a group of young men (and, maybe, young women), who have been previously ‘sane’, to hate and fear another group or person, and to believe that elimination of that group/person by violent means will solve the problems of the world. The actions and the results are identical: huge amounts of energy/anger generated and expended on destruction … and a lot of dead people.

  7. Banger

    Charlie Hebdo:

    Some things to consider–is there any evidence for the official story? Are there interesting anomalies?

    Here is PCR: The Charlie Hebdo Attack: Characteristics of a False Flag Operation?

    Audio from Bonnie Faulkner’s interview with Michel Chossudovsky.

    It certainly smells bad and it may be totally innocent but I doubt it. I believe, as I have for many years, that Western intel services are involved in either directly controlling or maintaining a “dark alliance” with terror gangs and private armies like ISIL. The goal is to achieve the “War of Civilizations.” I don’t believe it will work. The CH events will pass–I’m not sure it will persist.

    Many of us here deeply distrust the gov’t when it comes to financial and corporate issues but somewhat trust the gov’t in terms of FP and national security policy. I suggest that distrust is merited in both areas. I believe the main focus of FP is to assist the establishment of a global imperial order under which we are living under. I think we ought to oppose that NWO and get to know its mechanisms starting with looking “deeply” into the CIA from its origins (if you don’t look at the origins you will fail to understand the present.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t know why people imagine I won’t keep my New Year’s resolutions.

      * * *

      After I removed the not-up-to-NC-standard material — including and most especially the expansive but linkless assertions, along with the “Me too!” and “What about?” and “It’s just like!” stuff — there wasn’t anything left, unsurprisingly. It’s a big Internet, and there are plenty of other sites for such material. But it makes NC look bad.

      Yes, I know some commentary was trying to hold back the tide but (to mix metaphors) that only feeds it. So, sorry about that, but my advice is don’t enter a target area by engaging.

          1. ambrit

            Lambert;
            There are so many possible subjects for scrutiny here, it stuns the mind.
            I will rush in where Angels fear to tread.
            First, sloppy thinking and writing are endemic in our society. Yes, I’ll agree that a site such as NC is trying to point the way in many senses. Hence, an ‘accommodation’ with Civil Entropy is to be eschewed. I would mention here that the manner in which the rules of the debate are framed often determines the outcome of that debate. The concept of wiggle room becomes important. How much exterraneous information and argument is allowed into play? Is argument counter to the socially accepted norm to be banned? Pertinence is an insufficient measure, since pertinence can only be measured against the known. The theory of asymmetry of information is applicable. What weight to give to inference becomes key. Like detectives, commenters and many posters are piecing together the outlines of an event from scattered evidence. Like detectives, for whatever reason, we often get it wrong. Like, also, a Grand Jury, we get things wrong because we are given deliberately obscure and incomplete, sometimes fabricated evidence.
            Comments are by their nature, quickly framed responses to the prior content of the thread. Some are better at it than others. An element of practice and facility with language play an important part. Strict textural analysis can not be the sole arbiter. We have not all read “The Elements of Style”, much less internalized the lessons it imparts.
            The use of boilerplate propaganda is a red flag event itself. The suppression of such is understood. A spam filter for argumentation if you will. Use of such boilerplate would be not so much a case of sloppy writing as one of sloppy thinking, which term I assume you extend to include the incurious regurgitation of common social propaganda themes. What, however, of anti social-propaganda themes? This is where the idea of sloppy thinking comes into play. I will suggest that incuriosity is also a sign of sloppy thinking. The management of this curiosity, and the clashes it entails can, given the level of debate shown here, be almost fully delegated to the commentariat. Rough and tumble makes smoother ‘stones.’ As an added bonus, the moderators task is easier. Self regulating systems are much easier to run.
            That’s enough for now. thanks.

  8. Andrew Watts

    RE: It’s Time to End Torture

    As long as the US intelligence community favors secrecy over competency what has happened before is guaranteed to happen again.

    Even though some of the agency’s actions likely violated the law, criminal charges aren’t likely to satisfy even the most vocal opposition to the agency’s behavior. More importantly, they would only consume enormous amounts of time and energy, and serve to divide and demoralize our intelligence community at a time when Americans need it to be as strong and effective as possible.

    I’d actually be happy if Obama just issued a presidential pardon to the whole lot of them. This would include Kiriakou, Manning, and anybody else who brought attention to the human rights violations perpetrated by the US government. I’m getting tired of all the scapegoating that’s happening. As any farmer would tell you a few bad apples does in fact ruin the whole barrel.

  9. Andrew Watts

    RE: CIA finds no wrongdoing in agency’s search of computers used by Senate investigators

    Don’t worry, it’s just a few bad apples.

    “Brennan had at one point issued a “stand-down” order to halt the searches and had sought to open a joint inquiry with the Senate, but his instructions failed to reach some involved in the probe.”

    I suspect that they simply ignored the order. This was why I wasn’t previously in favor of firing Brennan. It wouldn’t have done any good at any rate.

    1. Banger

      There are some things we need to understand about the Agency. First, it has a history and that history is fairly easy to find if you dig even if you know the areas of ambiguity. Second, the Agency is compartamentalized not just between the covert ops and military areas (yes, the CIA has a military force–I actually knew a guy in it way back in Nam) and signals intel/reseach/intel gathering areas–and these areas are very narrowly compartmentalized within those areas. Third, much of CIA activity today occurs “outside” the Agency proper by contractors both the usual suspects in Washington but also including organized crime (this is a long standing relationship that goes back to OSS), foreign intel communities (including “enemies”). Fourth, key members of the intel community have veto power over anything the government or media choose to do–this one may be hard for many people to accept but it is a fact as far as I’m concerned. Finally, fifth, one reason the Agency and its satellites are so powerful is that their activities are closely tied into the financial community and media.

      If you imagine a “game” (game-theory) where one player has the ability to keep his moves secret while other players cannot then over many iterations of the game no matter how many mistakes the “secret” player makes he has such a competitive advantage that he will end up being the main power in the game or own everything and everyone. Of course I don’t think the CIA and its satellites control everything but, rather that they wield a hell of a lot of power.

      So to put it another way, the CIA does whatever it wants and it is always justified–who is going to oppose it? Frank Church is long dead and Feinstein knows the score.

    2. James Levy

      When did they revoke the law that stipulated that internal security and counter-espionage are the work of the FBI, and the CIA’s mandate is exclusively foreign intelligence? Did I miss something, or isn’t the CIA spying on the Senate ipso facto a crime?

      What made me lose my mind when hearing about this last night on NPR was the idea that “they had no malicious intent.” Since when does breaking the law depend on intent? I mean, ignorance of the law is no excuse, but intent gets you a “Get Out of Jail Free” card? I keep hearing this in case after case dealing with anyone powerful–you can’t prosecute the CIA/Ratings Agencies/Banks/Brokerage Houses/Mortgage Companies because “you need to prove intent”. What happened to, if you break the law, you get punished? It’s enough to drive me insane.

      1. inode_buddha

        I suspect it was somewhere back during the passing of the Patriot act, that the original lines were blurred, because “turrists”.

  10. Toni Gilpin

    Re: press interviews with former Gitmo detainees

    In response to your question, I asked my husband, an attorney who has been involved with habeas litigation on behalf of the detainees since 2003, whether he knew of any interviews with former Guantanamo prisoners, either alone or in groups. His response: “I don’t recall much offhand. The one most often quoted is Moazzam Begg, who is one of the Tipton Three. I think I’ve also seen Murat Kurnaz quoted, and also Boumediene and some of the other Uighurs, who have been the subject of stories of what it has been like to be resettled in Bermuda and Palau.”

    Russell Brand did an interview with Moazzam Begg recently.

  11. Light a Candle

    Wow, really good short article by LBR (London Review of Books) on the show trial and complete miscarriage of justice by the US prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). I wonder how those judges can sleep at night.

    I think that ties into the decrease of crime article. I am skeptical, maybe less crime is reported but we have a less lawful society: increased killings of civilians by militarized police forces; unlawful harassment and arrests of peaceful protestors; no prosecution of the banksters’ fraud; corrupt governance . . . . show trials.

  12. Carolinian

    The Post is clicking on all cylinders this morning. Here’s a story about a couple being threatened with a police investigation and–worse!–social workers for believing in “free range kids.”

    http://m.washingtonpost.com/local/education/maryland-couple-want-free-range-kids-but-not-all-do/2015/01/14/d406c0be-9c0f-11e4-bcfb-059ec7a93ddc_story.html

    George Carlin used to joke about his “free range” childhood and how he would swim in the then very polluted Hudson. He said as a result he had never been sick a day in his life (until he died….of heart disease I think).

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Big is beautiful?

    Only Bigness that is beautiful is Big Love (under which you can have Big Heart, Big Universal Brotherhood of the Little People, etc.).

    Big Business? No good.

    Big Religion? Maybe another day.

    Big Government? What is important is the heart, not how it looks on the outside.

    1. Paul Niemi

      It’s the assumptions of the ego: Big is always better than small. Fast is always better than slow. Hard is always better than soft. Long is always better than short. Heavy is always better than light. More is always better than less. Expensive is always better than inexpensive. Loud is always better than low volume. Etc. And it eventually goes on to war is better than peace.

      1. hunkerdown

        My finger in it is better than not my finger in it. The brain-damage of an individualistic society.

        1. Paul Niemi

          It’s also the finger out the car window. Humans can learn the phenomenology of ego and how to not respond. I am not my ego. It does not rule me.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Gasoline lead and crime.

    Would be interesting to see how crime relates to places where people work with gasoline with lead.

  15. juliania

    I call ‘baloney’ on that monarch butterfly article.

    First off, it doesn’t put the onus for decline where it belongs – on Monsanto. Lovely to say ‘increased use of pesticides’ – true enough but how come those pesticides are being used in such mega quantities? Because of GM that enables frankenstein ‘food’ plants to live happily whilst their wild ordinarily organic weeds are reacting as living vegetation naturally reacts to such onslaught – they are dying!

    And second, such ‘research’ to prove that monarchs becoming sedentary is a bad thing supposes that there will not in future be butterflies within these culpable sedentary groups which hearken back to their generational antecedents and ‘go west young man’. The opportunity will arise once spring comes and the dormant milkweed seeds in neighboring coldweather states arise and flourish – boy, I am looking forward to spring!

    Here in the mountain west, the sight of monarchs feasting on chamisa flowers is one I long to see. Go buy those milkweed seeds everyone. We can lick this problem. And keep on keeping on resisting GM products – all they produce is death for our biosphere. We don’t want it; we don’t need it; we can do better!

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      And it may not only be Monarch butterflies who have problems thrust upon them through the ubiquity of Roundup usage. Vide this post concerning linkages between glyphosates and autism (at least some forms):

      http://www.anh-usa.org/half-of-all-children-will-be-autistic-by-2025-warns-senior-research-scientist-at-mit/print/

      Particularly note the alarming possibility that glyphosate may disrupt the life cycles of beneficial gut bacteria responsible for supplying our bodies with crucial amino acids. Since we exist in complementarity with these organisms, this would be really bad news. Perhaps this might explain the sudden, recent rise in products that resupply our gut bacteria? If what we eat is killing those already present in our intestines, this would be a necessity. Anybody else notice the correlation in the rapid rise of soy (now largely GMO for glyphosate tolerance) milk products largely marketed to women as a way to avoid fats, with the rapid rise in the marketing of probiotics, again to women, to sort out the problems with unhappy bowels, bowels which may be unhappy due to consuming foods that kill your bacterial fauna? And then add in the dosages received through our consumption of glyphosate-tolerant GMO corn, and this becomes a concern for everybody. Knock-on effects, as the Brits might say.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Philippine Catholic Church…social costs of migration.

    We too often think of immigrants from only our American (or European for those over there) perspective…the economic benefits for us.

    We forget the social costs to their home countries, often victims of neoliberalism (thus, explaining the migration).

  17. barrisj

    Je suis Charlie? Well, apparently not if one publishes strident or violent anti-Israeli commentary online, or denounces Nato airstrikes, or calls for victory over infidel invaders, etc., etc., as the French authorities are busily arresting dozens of people for the above “offenses”:

    Charlie Hebdo shooting: France arrests 54 as al-Qaeda in Yemen claims responsibility

    France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and those glorifying terrorism and announced Wednesday it was sending an aircraft carrier to the Middle East to work more closely with the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS militants.

    Authorities said 54 people had been arrested for hate speech and defending terrorism since terror attacks killed 20 people in Paris last week.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/charlie-hebdo-shooting-france-arrests-54-as-al-qaeda-in-yemen-claims-responsibility-1.2900109

    Ah, yes, the notorious “Glorifying Terrorism” charges, a Draconian law on the books in many Western countries, notably Britain and France, where those who go online and call for Muslim peoples to, e.g., violently oppose Western military incursions/invasions are brought to book for “supporting terrorism”, while others who urge a “final solution to the Islamic problem” are allowed to carry on without even a mild censure.
    Call for violence in opposing Israeli “settlers”? Sorry, mate, you’re nicked. Call for forced removal or death to Palistinians? Just a bit of free speech, don’t you know.
    What a bloody shower.

  18. barrisj

    Enlightened opinion from the Pacific Northwest:

    Legislators: Expand Cold War subversive law to Muslim extremists

    Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon walked into the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning to sell his proposal to scrap the state’s Cold War-era subversive activities law.

    But with the recent terrorist attack on a satirical Parisian newspaper fresh in their minds, Republican lawmakers recommended keeping the law. Some even suggested updating and reactivating it as a 21st century version that included Muslim extremist organizations and the Occupy movement.

    Drafted in the early years of the Cold War, the Subversive Activities Act made it a felony to be a member of a subversive group. It also required state workers or job applicants to take a loyalty oath stating that they weren’t a Communist Party member. Despite being ruled unconstitutional in 1964 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Subversive Activities Act has remained on the books.
    […]
    “How about Al Qaida, ISIS, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, down the list,” said Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, who cited the attack on Charlie Hebdo. “You’re going to give these people a free skate by getting rid of this?
    […]
    Haler also called out the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). As it has in several recent years, Washington’s state chapter of CAIR is scheduled Monday to hold its annual Muslim lobbying day at the Capitol.
    “We do have a group in this country called CAIR, which is basically run by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, they are a political entity” said Haler. “And their goal is to overthrow the country.”

    […]

    http://blogs.seattletimes.com/politicsnorthwest/2015/01/14/law-from-cold-war-hot-topic-in-olympia/

    As a matter of fact, the “Occupy movement” is treated as “subversive” by the security organs of the State, given the massive amount of surveillance and infiltration accompanying its early days. And, for example, the NYPD had a special office directed against “Muslim activities” until it was disbanded, at least formally. But, I do feel safer now that the WA State Legislature is resurrecting the notion of a “loyalty oath” to screen out A-A-A-rab subversives from public employment, the schools, etc. After all, “they” want to overthrow the country, or at the very least introduce “Shari’a law”, n’est-ce pas?

  19. a

    Low Hanging Fruit – the Missouri DA must have read this accounting – as is sure sounds a lot like what happened during the Michael Brown grand jury “hearing”.

  20. cripes

    Concerning the probability of government involvement or manipulation of spontaneous or false flag attacks, this excerpt is illustrative of how pervasive such thinking is in corriders of western power:
    ” Then-Vice President Dick Cheney once pondered the option
    of having U.S. troops shoot at U.S. troops dressed up as Iranians. Moments
    before a White House press conference at which then-President George W.
    Bush and then-Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed they were trying to avoid
    war in Iraq, Bush had proposed to Blair that they paint planes with UN colors
    and fly them low trying to get them shot at.”
    If those morons are talking like this, imagine what real spooks are doing.
    Don’t be too quick to accept official story.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Why reinvent the wheel? Consider how successful the Gleiwitz Gambit was for ol’ Adolph when he wanted to give the situation a little push in the right direction. There’s a long history of this sort of thing, these false flag operations. Very useful.

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