Links 1/19/15

SELC and Shareable Kickoff Campaign to Save Seed Sharing in the U.S.. Please sign!

Is Genius Smarter Than Past Attempts to Annotate the Web? MIT Technology Review (David L)

Be My Eyes crowd-sourced app assists the blind Thai Visa (furzy mouse)

Ditch the ‘wellness’ logs, charts, apps and get a life Financial Times (David L). I have trouble believing that there are people who think it makes an iota of sense to run your life this way…but clearly there is a market for these aps.

Alabama Legislators Say You Must Be A Salaried Employee Of Old School Media To Get Approved For Press Credentials Techdirt

Price Slump Tests Bitcoin’s Self-Correcting Economics MIT Technology Review (David L)

The mystery of shellshock solved: Scientists identify the unique brain injury caused by war Independent (martha r)

PTSD May Raise Women’s Risk for Diabetes NIMH (martha r). Obesity and antidepressants cited as possible culprits.

Detailed study confirms high suicide rate among recent veterans Los Angeles Times (martha r)

China margin lending curbs slam stocks Financial Times (furzy mouse)

Eurozone QE is on way — with conditions: ECB to put burden for losses on national central banks Financial Times. This is a buy high, sell low strategy if it succeeds in increasing inflation, which I though was the goal.

Markets pricing in substantial QE operation by the ECB Walter Kurtz

No One Was Supposed to Lose This Much Money on Swiss Francs Matt Levine, Bloomberg

Preparing a new Gladio for the Left in Greece! failed evolution

Low Oil Prices Force OPEC Members To Rethink 2015 Budgets OilPrice. The Saudis project needing to tap all 5% of their sovereign wealth fund next year, even with a 10% increase in spending.

Podcast: Journalist Dan Cohen on What He Saw as Gaza Endured Deadly Winter Storm Firedoglake (JB)

Hebdo Fallout

Charlie and Theo Project Syndicate (David L). A particularly good piece on the “free speech” angle.


Gorbachev Warns of Decline in Russian Western Ties over Ukraine Der Spiegel (Robert M). A must read.

Novorussia SITREP: Intensive combat operation all over the line of contact in Novorussia Vineyard of the Saker (Chuck L)


Iraq is now partitioned. Forget it and move on. Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)

A Former FBI Special Agent Says The CIA Kept Him From Helping Stop 9/11 Business Insider (David L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

New Snowden Docs Indicate Scope of NSA Preparations for Cyber Battle Der Spiegel (martha r). A must read. Key section:

It’s a stunning approach with which the digital spies deliberately undermine the very foundations of the rule of law around the globe. This approach threatens to transform the Internet into a lawless zone in which superpowers and their secret services operate according to their own whims with very few ways to hold them accountable for their actions.

N.S.A. Breached North Korean Networks Before Sony Attack, Officials Say New York Times. I hate to sound like the sort that rejects supposed new information, but if the NSA had intel, pray tell why are we being told at this late juncture? This looks like a defensive gambit to try to deal with widespread skepticism about the North Korean hack claim among IT professionals.

Obama under fire over plan to tax wealthy Financial Times

The Historian, Legal Experts, And Justices Who Think Judges Asking For Cash Is A Really Bad Idea Media Matters (DF)

APS authored Congressional letter to feds asking to crack down on solar industry ABC15 Arizona

Andrew Cuomo’s Top Aide Lobbied For Firms With State Business International Business Times

Albuquerque prosecutor indicts cops, immediately faces repercussions Washington Post (martha r)

Rahm Emanuel’s offensive new pension-gutting scheme David Sirota, Salon (JB). Rahm puts himself above the law.

Morrison family dealing with aftermath of April ’14 fatal shooting Billings Gazette (expatmd). A police shooting from the policeman’s side.


Oil Industry Withdraws From High Cost Areas OilPrice

Will The Fed Take a Dovish Turn Next Week? Tim Duy

Can the U.S. Be an International Financial Center? SEC. SG: “GOP SEC Commissioner and reform obstructionist Daniel Gallagher says getting more IPOs on US exchanges is more important than protecting investors.”

One Thing Gangs Smuggling Latin Migrants Over the Border Can’t Do Without: Big U.S. Banks Bloomberg

The End Of The World Of Finance As We Know It Ilargi. Personally, I don’t find the remarks of central bankers to be in accord with their actions. The denial of a Greenspan/Bernanke/Yellen put is a sign it’s become too obvious. And even if they want to exit ZIRP, they’ve really painted themselves in a corner. It would take years of very gradual increases not to produce market temper tantrums.

Class Warfare

Half global wealth held by the 1% Guardian

Fears mount of work stoppage at US ports Financial Times

Antidote du jour (Kevin H):

Water Strider

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Ned Ludd

    As a Muslim, I’m fed up with the hypocrisy of the free speech by Mehdi Hasan.

    Consider also the “thought experiment” offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the “unity rally” in Paris on 11 January “wearing a badge that said ‘Je suis Chérif’” – the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. “How would the crowd have reacted? . . . Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended?” […]

    When you say “Je suis Charlie”, is that an endorsement of Charlie Hebdo’s depiction of the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira, who is black, drawn as a monkey? Of crude caricatures of bulbous-nosed Arabs that must make Edward Said turn in his grave?

    Lampooning racism by reproducing brazenly racist imagery is a pretty dubious satirical tactic.

    “Ironic racism” is liberals being racist under the cover of satire. It is akin to wearing blackface and calling it satire of minstrel shows. As Scott Long wrote, quoting Theodor Adorno: “… satire has for thousands of years, up to Voltaire’s age, preferred to side with the stronger party which could be relied on: with authority.” Irony “never entirely divested itself of its authoritarian inheritance, its unrebellious malice.”

      1. Jack

        Is this the same ‘moral high-ground’ that mandates the spread of the ‘Realm of Peace’ through force of arms (though not forced conversions, the implicit assumption is that those will naturally follow the spread of the Caliphate)? People can believe whatever they want to believe, I honestly don’t care. But I don’t appreciate being called an ‘animal’ and told something is a religion of peace when a simple look at history will show you it was literally founded on conquest.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Excellent article, although I suspect we all know why it did not appear on the NYT editorial page.

      I further suspect that the defense of “free speech” would be nowhere near as vigorous had most of the “unity” marchers’ placards read “Je suis GAZA.” In fact, I doubt such a display would be considered “free speech” at all.

        1. MartyH

          And Charlie Hebdo, itself, ousted one of its own for Anti-Semitism. One might make the odd correlation that Anti-Semitism is not speech .. or at least, if it is … it is hate speech where anti-Muslimism is not.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Last summer, France banned pro-Palestinian rallies.

        Thousands of people took part in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris on Saturday despite a police ban on the rally. […]

        The French government has come under fire for banning this and two previous pro-Palestinian rallies in Paris, one in the Barbès area in the north of Paris last Saturday and another in the suburb of Sarcelles. Despite the bans thousands of protesters turned out for the demonstrations – both of which erupted in clashes with police.

        Visiting a Paris Mosque on Friday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for calm, but critics argued that banning the protest only served to heighten protesters’ anger.

        The French government employed the same logic used to ban civil rights marches in the 1960’s. Martin Luther King, Jr. responding to the eight white clergymen who penned “A Call for Unity”, wrote: “In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence.”

        I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      C’mon, I gotta call bullsh1+ on blaming this on the Dirty F***Ing Hippee Libruls. There are Whackos on both sides of this issue (albiet small minorities). And by Whackos I mean anyone willing to kill someone for what he/she says (or draws) because it offends them.

      1. Ned Ludd

        In France, some of the Wackos have the state (and the violence of incarceration) on their side. A 16-year-old high school student was arrested, presumably for posting this parody of a July 2013, Charlie Hebdo cover, “accompanied by an ‘ironic’ comment”.

        1. Llewelyn Moss

          Ok, good example. I agree. IMO That student should NOT have been arrested for that cartoon — a clear case of double standards. Still not seeing the tie to a ‘Librul’ Conspiracy, but whatever.

        2. BondsOfSteel

          Killed? No. He was arrested for his speech, not executed.

          While both are wrong, there is a huge moral difference been the two that no arguing over the content can change.

      2. hunkerdown

        Siding with the bullies just because they’re in a position privileged enough they can have others throw their punches for them?

        Really, that’s this Charlie Hebdo thing in a nutshell, isn’t it? A celebration of the right to bully?

        (If you answer “It’s more complicated than that”, no, it’s not.)

        1. Llewelyn Moss

          Um, noooo. Here, let me help you with this one. I know, I know, it’s a tough one.

          Charlie Hebdo sided with those that were being bullied: Women who were not allowed to attend school because they are not men; Women who get stoned to death if they are unfaithful; people who are murdered for leaving a religion; it’s a long list …

          So I’ll just put you down as FOR murdering someone who says (or draws) something that offends you.

          Gee did they give you a baseball bat on the playground when you were a child.

            1. Llewelyn Moss

              Those were examples relevant to the subject of this thread. Charlie Hebdo was an equal offender of all other religions, politicians, institutions etc.

            2. optimader

              “they sided with those who got bullied by muslims”
              Presumably the women in question are also Muslims, no?
              Vatch, go find this on digital TV and watch occasionally.
              pretty whacked out stuff

    3. drb48

      One doesn’t need to justify or endorse Charlie Hebdo’s content to defend their right to publish it without being murdered. And BTW, while Charlie Hebdo was an equal opportunity offender with their insults, only the Muslim community decided to respond by murdering those responsible. IMHO that ended any conversation re Charlie Hebdo. You’re either with the murderers or with their victims. To me that’s not a close call. Je suis Charlie.

      1. diptherio

        You’re either with the murderers or with their victims.

        Um…sounds dangerously close to an infamous line by Bush the Younger. Personally, I try to avoid all black-and-white thinking, as it tends to blind one to the intricacies of reality…

        1. drb48

          I don’t generally disagree with you on the black and white thing but I don’t see any moral relativism regarding murdering people over some cartoons – that’s about as black and white as it gets.

            1. Jack

              Sure. The more I learn about Charlie Hebdo the more I come to the conclusion that they’re a bunch of assholes. But it should be their right to be assholes. If you don’t like something, don’t read it. Trite but true. Especially if part of the supposed ‘offense’ is that they violated a rule of Islam. Well, sorry, but non-Muslims aren’t subject to Islamic rules, at least when it isn’t a Muslim ruled country.

              “But they didn’t just show the Prophet, they insulted him!” Okay, and? Christians don’t like that Piss Christ photo, it shouldn’t give them to the right to censor it. As a non-Christian I don’t particularly appreciate having my eyes assaulted by those grotesque shirts that say “How much does Jesus love you? THIS MUCH” and then a graphic picture of a mutilated Jesus on the cross, but I have no desire to ban those shirts.

              Yeah, the hypocrisy is rank in this whole affair, and I’m willing to have conversations about the larger context that led to this shooting. What led the shooters to take that path, what were their grievances, how did otherwise normal people reach a point where they decided murder was a valid option? But in the end they choose to pick up guns and mow down an office full of people. They could have chosen to not do that, and their choice to do it makes them utter bastards.

          1. Jack

            It’s quite easy, actually. A nice place to start is by not twisting yourself into intellectual pretzels to try and contextualize or equivocate killings. The Left needs to drop the whole “these killings are terrible BUT…” act. There is no but.

            1. drb48

              “The Left needs to drop the whole ‘these killings are terrible BUT…’ act. There is no but.”


              1. Ned Ludd

                For Charlie Hebdo: “These killings are horrific, BUT the murder of Muslims is hilarious!”

                Charlie Hebdo, laughing at Muslim protesters killed during the July 2013 coup in Egypt.

                BUT if you post a similar parody, except mocking the deaths of white satirists…

                1. Jack

                  No one should be being killed, is my position. Certainly not for saying or printing something dumb or insulting, but really for no reason period. They’re hypocrites and douchebags, okay. I totally agree with how disconcerting and utterly lacking in self-awareness the French and Western reaction has been. But if one of the valid criticisms is that there is never a ‘Je suis Yemen’ or ‘Je suis Iraq’ and people only seem to care when white people die, that doesn’t make the exact opposite position correct. I was very sad to see Hedges come out and essentially say “these killings are horrible of course, but let me tell you about how iron fragmentation bombs on Palestinians are far worse…”. We’re not talking about Palestine or drone strikes, we’re talking about 17 French getting mowed down by bullets. There just seems to be a certain psychopathy on both sides in the discussions I’ve been seeing.

        2. Optimader

          I am the ultimate gray tone visualizer but im pretty diapponted if any one here cant come to the b&w conclusion that its WRONG to kill someone in this circumstance.
          Are you avoiding b&w thinking about the cop that was murdered in the street and the people that were apparently just grocery shopping??
          Who CH portrayed in cartoons makes absolutely no difference, the murders are not justifiable in any way, whats not clear about that?

      2. vidimi

        that they were an equal opportunity offender is simply not true and needs to be corrected. it’s not an argument germane to the discussion either.

        1. drb48

          The poster I was replying to did made reference to Charlie Hebdo’s “depiction of the French justice minister, Christiane Taubira, who is black, drawn as a monkey?” That among other comments leads me to believe that Islam was not the only target lampooned by Charlie Hebdo. What IS germane to the discussion IMHO is the idea that violence is a justifiable response to a perceived “insult” – whether the insult involves one’s race or religion.

      3. Massinissa

        Go to hell man. I have my rights to disapprove of the racist magazine and the murderers both. I dont appreciate you essentially labelling me ‘an enemy of free speech’ because I disagree with the French version of ‘Der Sturmer’.

        You know, the editor of Der Sturmer was executed by the Allies, and you know what? Im not sure I disapprove of that.

        1. drb48

          Sorry dude but when “disapproval” rises to murdering people, you’ve exceeded the bounds of rational argument. I don’t know anything about “Der Sturmer” so I can’t say if the comparison to “Charlie Hebdo” is remotely appropriate – though I doubt it. And if the editor was “executed” I presume he was granted some sort of legal process and found guilty of a capital crime. So again the comparison is frankly bullshit.

          1. hunkerdown

            There you tedious arrogant bourgeoisie go again, claiming that you are some sort of exemplar of rationality because you’ve “mastered” yourself to a degree that makes you the exemplar of slavery.

            Can you self-Enlightened infants take your stage show somewhere else? You and your sort disgust me, and that’s not a way to inspire mimesis.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Your comment is out of line. If you can’t be civil, you go in moderation. Resorting to verbal attacks is generally the resort of someone who can’t rebut the points made.

            2. Optimader

              Drb48 is my prophet and your comment is offensive, would you please shoot youself for me?

        2. Yves Smith Post author


          One more like that and you go in moderation. Your “rights” HERE are subject to house rules of discourse. This is my private, hosted, space and you have ONLY rights I allow to commentors. If you can’t behave, you suffer the consequences.

      4. Ned Ludd

        I can support your right to publish something, and still condemn what you publish. […]

        Of course, satire that attacks any and all targets is by definition not just targeting the top of the food chain. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges,” Anatole France wrote; satire that wounds both the powerful and the weak does so with different effect. Saying the President of the Republic is a randy satyr is not the same as accusing nameless Muslim immigrants of bestiality. What merely annoys the one may deepen the other’s systematic oppression. To defend satire because it’s indiscriminate is to admit that it discriminates against the defenseless.

        Why I am not Charlie

        1. drb48

          blah, blah, blah, blah. Sorry, I can’t hear you. Because people are dead. Not discriminated against – dead. End of story. Now I don’t care about your argument any more. When Muslim clerics stop issuing fatwahs and their radicals stop murdering cartoonists – or school children trying to get an education – get back to me and I’ll be happy to have a conversation about the social status of French immigrants. Or whether the “satire” published by Charlie Hebdo exceeded the bounds of propriety. It probably did. Since when does that justify killing people?

          1. Ned Ludd

            Could you quote the remarks where I, or Mehdi Hasan, justified killing people?

            Conversely, the heads of the state from the “unity march” spread violence, chaos, and destruction.

            After NATO murdered Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, French president Nicolas Sarkozy traveled to Libya to personally gloat over the country he helped to destroy. He was joined by UK prime minister David Cameron, who was also among the killers-in-chief who arrived in Paris looking solemn. France and the UK are part of the NATO effort to destroy Syria and turn it into a chaotic ruin as they have done to Libya.

            Martin Luther King, Jr. on violence:

            As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.

            1. drb48

              I never claimed you or Mehdi Hasan expressly justified killing people. The killers of the people at Charlie Hebdo on the other hand did claim justification for their actions. There isn’t any. I opened this thread with the simple proposition that you’re either with Charlie Hebdo – and support the right of people to engage in social and political criticism or even outrageous and obnoxious and legal I might add, behavior, without fear of death from self-proclaimed moral arbiters of what is acceptable – or, by inference, you’re tacitly endorsing the actions of those who killed the people at Charlie Hebdo. Being “with” Charlie Hebo in that sense doesn’t mean you endorse all its content, just their right to publish it free of reprisal from religious fanatics. Otherwise the entire concept of “free speech” is rendered moot.

              1. drb48

                p.s. – “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government”. Accurate, but irrelevant. Charlie Hebdo was not a government entity. Strikes against it were not acts of protest against government repression or violence. The perpetrators aren’t “martyrs”, they were terrorists. Pure and simple.

                1. Ned Ludd

                  Martin Luther King, Jr. “walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men” who advocated violence with “Molotov cocktails and rifles”.

                  Do these angry young men sound familiar?

                  He approached “the oppressed in the ghettos” with “my deepest compassion“ – even though they advocated violence – “while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.”

                  But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems…

                  There are many people in the world who use and advocate violence. Martin Luther King, Jr. chose to focus on the greatest purveyor of violence – his own government – before he would raise his voice against the violence of the oppressed.

              2. Jackrabbit

                There have been several good articles written about the hypocrisy of the ‘free speech’ practiced by Charilie Hebdo. I suggest you search for those and read them.

                One can deplore the killings and not be Charlie. Your ‘religious view’ of this issue is flat out wrong, so your challenge that we make a false choice is obnoxious.

              3. jrs

                Or you can accept the fact that a slogan like “je suis Charlie” is just too ambiguous to bother with as is any slogan that can simultaneously represent things one supports and things one is utterly opposed to (though granted a French context is not an American one). What are we MARCHING FOR?

                It’s akin to the flags after 9-11, ok one is horrified by 9-11 that’s fine and even if one believes the official story, but what those flags became (two aggressive wars) Flags are also too ambiguous to wave in knee jerk fashion.

                Maybe a slogan about opposing violence would be better (I can minimally understand some French, but no way I trust my French to make a slogan so I’m sticking to English).

              4. Doug Terpstra

                The “with me or against me” demand is old-school binary conservative nonsence used to justify aggressive militarism, just as it is predictably used here to consolidate the police state. It’s a worn-out Bushism. One can be appalled by both evils: the hateful, racist obscenities of CH as well as their alleged killers, who were never tried. There are obvious acceptable limits to free speech, incl obscenity, profanity, incitement of panic or violence, leaking legitimate state secrets, slander, and so on, none of which justify killing the offender, but one is not forced to embrace either offender, so our provocative false dichotomy is baseless.

                Also, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus Christ were depicted as a goofy simpleton, naked on all fours, ass-up and ready for sodomy, if it might not inspire some unbalanced nominal Christian to use his God-given assault rifle to visit divine retribution. It is unthinkable that any Muslim would do something so vile and offensive, so it’s a purely hypothetical situation. But would you say everyone must choose which offender to embrace?

                1. drb48

                  “I can’t help but wonder if Jesus Christ were depicted as a goofy simpleton, naked on all fours, ass-up and ready for sodomy, if it might not inspire some unbalanced nominal Christian to use his God-given assault rifle to visit divine retribution.”

                  I wouldn’t be surprised. Unbalanced religious fundamentalism is not limited to Muslims. If it were to happen, the perpetrators would be just as wrong as the killers in Paris.

                    1. Ned Ludd

                      If someone is murdered, you cannot criticize them. If people at Stormfront were murdered in reaction to what they published, you would need to show 100% unconditional support for Stormfront. It would be an affront to freedom of expression and Western civilization to dredge up old posts showing it is a hateful, racist piece of trash.

                      No “BUT’s”.†

                      † Unless Muslims are murdered, which is hilarious.

          2. hunkerdown

            Blah blah blah, drb. You’re simply expressing your allegiance to the bullies and the tools that work for them. Having said that, can you spare us the reiteration of your foppish sales pitch?

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              One more like this and you go in moderation. This is lame, content free invective. You are aping the bullies you claim to deplore, but with more whining and less effectiveness.

      5. hunkerdown

        I’m with the murderers. Why? Because they’re against the bullies.

        Bullies always deserve every mistreatment coming to them. Strange that Westerners love the concept of bullying so much they’ll build national religions around the idea that they should be coddled, defended, funded lavishly.

        1. Barmitt O'Bamney

          Yep, you are with the murderers. You definitely are. And it doesn’t occur to you that the murderers in this case are bullies themselves. They are bullies who want to silence a whole civilization, with ak47s, with beheadings, and acid in the face for the uppity females. Thank you, hunkerdown! You are the perfect example of the modern “liberal” and what that has degenerated into.

          1. Jackrabbit

            hunkerdown was responding to the false choice of murderers or victims. And I believe that by ‘bullies’ he was referring to: drones, torture/rendition, and other such behavior.

            See, for example: Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Drone Program Most Extreme Terr-rist Campaign in Modern Times

            There are very very few in the West that would condone the murders of innocents – no matter how provocative their behavior. The real, and very legitimate, issues that have been raised by many (google is your friend) is:

            a) how far free speech should go, and

            b) when will millions of people in the West protest the evil that is done in their name?


            drb48 and others who insist that we make a false choice are not interested in debate and thoughtful analysis. Not surprising that the false choice offered is accompanied by intimidation and ridicule for any that dare not fully embrace drb48‘s POV.

            1. Barmitt O'Bamney

              If you think there is ANYTHING to debate over or to choose between some obscure people who drew offensive cartoons on one hand, and people on the other hand who murder the likes of the first group and who pursue a course of terrorism against their adoptive society because their Imaginary Friend got offended, then there is something very, very wrong with your thought process. The false moral equivalence game is the opium of the western liberal in the twilight of his culture. This filthy addiction sooner or later leads him to OD. Get a bath, some clean clothes and solid food, and go check yourself into rehab before it’s too late.

              The irony of all this is that if the Islamists get their way, people like you and hunkerdown won’t get to say ANYTHING about ANYTHING – ANYMORE. You won’t get to mock and you won’t get to criticize. You won’t be allowed to employ rational sounding rhetoric in defense of the indefensible anymore – nor in defense of the perfectly defensible either. If you open your mouth at all it had better be to praise Allah and his Prophet. And since people like you two will have helped that situation come about by perpetually excusing the terrorists, and saying Oh but it’s OK that a dozen or so elderly, puerile cartoonists that nobody paid attention to were brutally slaughtered because Bush did so much evil or Obama did so much evil, you will deserve nothing better. But millions of others in the west, and indeed in the Islamic world too, do deserve better. Try not to fuck up the future for all of us, eh?

              1. Jackrabbit

                Summary: False Choices + Hysteria + Pointing Fingers + Intimidation

                Thanks for making my point.


                Its called ‘blowback’. Look it up. Then look in a mirror. Western governments and the Western elites they represent have:

                1) supported terr-r groups – from Mujahadeen in Afghanistan which led to Al Queda to Syrian ‘rebels’ which has led to ISIS while supporting dictatorial regimes in Saudi Arabia, Eqypt and elsewhere;

                And have directly or indirectly assisted extremists via:

                2) allowing excessive immigration to reduce wages and divide the lower classes – leading to an unemployed, disgruntled “enemy within”;

                3) pursued unjust wars and covert actions that have killed hundreds of thousands, injured and displaced millions, and generally acted in a degrading manner toward Islamic people (the vast majority of whom are not extremists).

                Lastly, we are ALL victims of this ‘blowback’ because our governments have found it necessary to establish police states to counter it.


                Once again: one can deplore the killings without being ‘Charlie’.

                H O P

          2. jrs

            But if you want to make it a “war of civilizations” and to talk about one civilization silencing another, add up the body count. Most of the dead are Muslim’s and one civilization is doing far more of the killing and that’s “Western civilization” (which mostly just reminds me of the quip attributed to Ghandi: what do you think of Western Civilization. I think it would be a good idea).

            Now I don’t think it’s a war of civilizations, I think it’s a war of resources and the west with the U.S. leading it is imperialist and intent to dominate (but others may aspire to this role too).

            This is what I think the problem is in order of how much harm it does:
            1) western imperialism (who can deny this does the most harm)
            2) violent Muslim religious fanaticism
            3) racist cartoonists

    4. Vatch

      Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the “unity rally” in Paris on 11 January “wearing a badge that said ‘Je suis Chérif’”

      Bad example. Suppose someone wore a badge with the name of an innocent Muslim civilian who had been killed by a drone strike, how would the crowd have reacted? I suspect that many in the crowd would have been very supportive.

  2. rusti

    And even if they want to exit ZIRP, they’ve really painted themselves in a corner. It would take years of very gradual increases not to produce market temper tantrums.

    Can someone give me the guide-for-dummies explanation of this? Why are markets so sensitive to raises in the interest rates, and what scary mechanisms are triggered by a sudden rate increase? It seems like most of the articles I stumble across are written for people with a better macroeconomics background than I have.

    1. financial matters

      I think this just means reversing the artificial increases in asset markets that central banks have helped cause. It would probably better reflect reality if the stock market lost half its value (better reflect fundamentals) and if housing lost a third of its value (make homes more affordable for first time buyers and rental prices more reasonable).

      But it might be very disruptive if this happened quickly.

      1. McMike

        Sort of like wondering what happens if you take a bottle of vodka per day alcoholic and cut off his supply. He will eventually find some kind of new equilibrium, but only after one heck of a bumpy ride.

        Better analogy though is what happens if you cut off Paris Hilton’s allowance. Or Thomas Gilbert’s.

        1. mk

          Yes, Thomas Gilbert Jr., I was going to say it’s a strategy used by abusive people, even republican politicians and it seems to work, so why not….

      2. Robert Frances

        Agree with you that increasing interest rates would likely cause many asset prices to decline, which *might* lead to some company defaults and asset prices falling further if investors and speculators start heading for the exits. Once a ponzi scheme starts to unwind it’s always best to get out early.

        Disagree with you about rents declining if real estate values decrease. Rent prices are not based on costs. Rents are based on how much income people have in the local community and the local RE supply and demand factors. Plenty of families have multi-million dollar rental property portfolios on the east and west coasts they inherited from their parents or grandparents. Their “costs” are very low, but the rents they receive have never been higher as people gravitate to the coasts where most of the jobs are located. In every company I’ve worked at selling prices are always based on what people are willing to pay and what competitors are charging for similar goods and services, not what it costs to produce the good or service.

        1. McMike

          I have always been fascinated by the RE industries’ discipline to not decrease rents in the face of slack demand such as during a recession. At least in commercial RE. Clearly, they would prefer vacant store fronts for years rather than cut prices.

          This is impressive when you consider that ownership is pretty diverse.

          I assume there’s a tax benefit underlying it.

          1. Robert Frances

            Valuable real estate assets (apartment buildings; commercial real estate in good locations) often get passed down from generation to generation, so their operating costs are usually quite low (no or low debt and (often) minuscule property taxes). It’s typically better to let the RE asset lay fallow for awhile than get a marginal return from a low rent paying tenant. It’s usually just a matter of time before the prior real estate excesses get washed out of the system and the banks and government start cranking up the easy money to get RE values and rents soaring once again.

        2. rusti

          Once a ponzi scheme starts to unwind it’s always best to get out early.

          Is this the same fundamental dynamic that countries like Japan and Sweden are in?

      3. MikeNY

        Didn’t Bernanke come out recently saying something like ‘we may not see normalized rates in my lifetime’ or some such? (I don’t think it was Greenspan, because that wouldn’t be such a strong statement…) Also of interest, Ben Inker at GMO ran a piece questioning normalization and the meaning for the asset markets if we stay in Wonderland. It’s the difference between ‘purgatory’ and ‘hell’, he wrote. It was a good read, but kinda depressing. It’s on the GMO website.

    2. ohmyheck

      From one dummie to another–
      ZIRP (QE) and interest rates are separate issues. But, in a nutshell, ZIRP is printing press/ computer notations that loans massive amounts of money to banks. The banks are supposed to use this money to lend to the 99%, but since the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the banks instead hand it over to their financial side of their bank/corporation, who use it all to place bets in the stock market and make their bank/corporation tons of money for themselves.
      With zero percent interest rates, the banks/corporations get this loan for nothing-it is free money. When they do loan it out, they get to profit from whatever percentage they loan it out at.
      Derivatives are bets placed on the other side, kind of like insurance, so even if they lose in their casino gambling, they still win, just from a different source.
      It is only since 2008 that these policies have been in play, and the crooks love it! The only reason you read Very Serious People say that stopping QE or raising interest rates is going to be the end of the world is because they are being paid by the crooks to get people to believe that, because they do not want this game to come to an end.
      Because Markets.

    3. Whine Country

      Don’t forget that with mark to market fantasy accounting, an increase of interest rates will decrease the value of assets on the balance sheets of our TBTF banks and therefore decrease the so-called capital that protects us all from their being TBTF, and requiring another bailout. Basically we will no longer be able to marvel at their new clothes, but instead will find out that it has always been nothing but smoke and mirrors. Of course, the actual people who are benefiting from this charade will still end up very rich while the rest of us realize that the discomfort we feel is from all of the smoke blown up our collective…ah, rectums.

    4. susan the other

      I think Ilargi has lost some of his marbles with this essay. His premise is that we are looking at the end of finance as we know it. So he prognosticates going back and starting over with the same insanity that brought us here in the first place. The fact is, our world of finance never worked. Not when it appeared to be temperate and not when it gradually ran aground. So why should we freak out and hack it up with ax now? How can we make something work that could never work in the first place? (Someone please cite a time when our economy “worked”.) It only appeared to work because there was always a new frontier to exploit. That Ilargi thinks we can normalize a totally abnormal system, now a worldwide system, is a tad irrational. And who is to say that this dysfunction which evolved to maintain a functioning – but irrational – system, won’t actually find a new equilibrium. Sending interest rates to the moon is just more boom and bust economix. Which impoverishes the earth and poor people even faster. I’m no fan of our paralysis but let’s not deny reality. We humans have always been out of sync with the natural world. And we can’t continue to exploit our way through it anymore. In fact if we intentionally crash the system by cranking up interest rates it will lead to even more devastating exploitation just to get back to the misery we have today.

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      Any increase in interest rates means lower prices for investments, since you discount their future value at a higher interest rate. It is particularly true for bonds, since you have a pre-set stream of payments.

      That effect is magnified at super low interest rates. A 1/4% interest rate increase when interest rates are 1/4% is a much bigger deal than when prevailing interest rates are 3%.

  3. Ned Ludd

    Margaret Kimberley shares her thoughts on the “unity march” in Paris.

    France was at the table during the 1884 Berlin Conference which chopped Africa up into European spheres of influence. France engaged in mass slaughter again and again as it attempted to prevent colonies such as Vietnam and Algeria from gaining independence.

    After NATO murdered Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, French president Nicolas Sarkozy traveled to Libya to personally gloat over the country he helped to destroy. He was joined by UK prime minister David Cameron, who was also among the killers-in-chief who arrived in Paris looking solemn. France and the UK are part of the NATO effort to destroy Syria and turn it into a chaotic ruin as they have done to Libya. […]

    The group photo should have been a perp walk to the Hague instead of a photo opportunity for the seriously blood thirsty.

    On Twitter, she remarked: “Unity march? Unified in imperialism and racism and murder. #JeNeSuisPasCharlie” She also linked to an essay by Ajamu Baraka: “The Charlie Hebdo White Power Rally in Paris: A Celebration of Western Hypocrisy”.

    In short, Je Suis Charlie has become an arrogant rallying cry for white supremacy that was echoed at the white power march on Sunday in Paris and in the popularity of the new issue of Charlie Hebdo. […]

    The valuation of white life over everyone else is a fundamental component of white supremacy and not limited to those people that might be defined as white. That is why no one cares about the families that weep for their love ones in Nigeria and no one marches for them. That is why anti-Muslim and anti-Arab violence has exploded across France but the only mention in the Western press is the supposed fear in the Jewish community.

  4. Llewelyn Moss

    Re: Albuquerque prosecutor indicts cops

    Geezus. I just saw the video of the cops executing the homeless man for illegal camping. Stunning. They just gunned him down like a he was a rabid coyote. No other way to interpret the video. They executed him. Releasing the police dog to attack him when he was dying on the ground was icing on the Fascist Police State pie.

    Shooting is first 2 mins of video

    1. cnchal

      Police departments everywhere are a sewer of organized crime and corruption. From the article is this.

      It’s also a city where this just happened:

      It was an undercover operation to bust two men for selling $60 worth of methamphetamine, but things didn’t go as planned.

      An Albuquerque police lieutenant shot a fellow officer who was working undercover in a McDonald’s parking lot near Central and Tramway just before noon Friday.

      Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said Saturday the male officer remained in critical condition at University of New Mexico Hospital. He is in the intensive care unit and has undergone multiple surgeries.

      Police haven’t released the name of the officer who was shot, the lieutenant who shot the officer, or the identity of another officer who suffered minor injuries during the operation. Criminal complaints filed in Metropolitan Court against the two targets of the investigation identify the undercover officers as detectives Holly Garcia and Jacob Grant.

      “Undercover narcotics work is probably some of the most dangerous work that we do in law enforcement,” Eden said during a Saturday news conference. “Due to the nature of those undercover operations it’s impractical for those narcotics officers, those narcotics detectives, to wear body armor. It’s very impractical for them to wear on-body cameras.”

      The complaint makes no mention of the shooting, and police haven’t yet provided any details about what went wrong, or why the high-ranking officer opened fire.

      The drug suspects were charged with drug trafficking, but faced no weapons charges. So it appears that the police lieutenant opened fire despite there no being no threat,. It will be difficult to blame this shooting on the victim reaching for a waistband, or on anti-police rhetoric.

      Who will pay the medical bills because of the police lieutenants trigger happy disposition?

      Every police officer, prosecutor and judge should look in the mirror and try to find the human.

      Eric Garner was trying to make a few dollars by selling “loosies” cigarettes, and was murdered by a police officer making $75k per year, with several other police officers, also making $75K per year there as a viewing audience.

      In economic terms, Eric Garner did what all other businesses do. He purchased a pack of cigarettes, ie got his supply in bulk, and sold his product one or two at a time to maximize profit. His “profit” might only be a few dollars, but for him it was a way to get by.

      The other thing Eric didn’t do was put a gun to anyone’s face and demand that they purchase his cigarettes, unlike police departments sticking guns in taxpayers faces, demanding ever bigger budgets and respect.

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        Yup. There are bad cops, just like there are bad people in every profession. The fact that the police depts and local courts are performing Unnatural Acts to protect the bad cops from prosecution rather than weeding them out, speaks volumes. The Blue Mafia is out of control.

        1. James Levy

          That’s what blows it for me, and renders the “it’s a tough job” defense untenable. It’s the systematic capitulation of “good” cops to protecting the bad ones. It’s the fact that cops demand that we hold them to a LOWER standard than they hold everyone else. In the end, it’s the gutless conformity on the part of people who love their macho posturing and their self-pitying justifications that just burns me.

        2. juliania

          Thanks for posting this link, and also thanks to the Washington Post. Albuquerque’s was the first ongoing public protest after the Boyd killing last year, hasn’t received as much attention as the anti-racial element of police brutality protests but the video says it all.

          The plight of homeless, mentally disturbed individuals confronted by this kind of aggressive approach is deserving of public attention. Kudos to this DA and her office.

  5. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The mystery of shellshock solved: Scientists identify the unique brain injury caused by war Independent

    “It is important to understand that at least a portion of these difficulties may have a neurological foundation.”

    Why, that’s positively BRILLIANT!

    I hope they don’t start looking into the effects of mustard/chlorine gas, agent orange or depleted uranium. They might find something.

    1. Roger Bigod

      This comment is gratuitously nasty.

      For a long time, it’s been known that different kinds of head trauma produce different patterns of injury in the brain, with important implications for outcomes, and hopefully therapy. But solid understanding has lagged the anecdotal impressions because there’s a lot of tedious, plodding work in assembling histories and carrying out examinations, especially autopsies with detailed chemical analyses. The story described such an effort in a subset of trauma victims. The presentation might have given more perspective, but it deserves better than an idiot flinging poo-poo.

      1. Whine Country

        “The presentation might have given more perspective…” Is it possible that that perspective could lend substantial support for Ms. Hunger Games sarcastic response and therefore calling her an “idiot flinging poo-poo was more than out of line? For example had the article correctly pointed out that while the subject does “require a lot of tedious, plodding work assembling histories and carrying out examinations” it has taken far too long because funding for such promising work has for generations been a low priority. And the reason for it being a low priority is that the principal beneficiaries of the delay in such research, the US Government, have not been eager to own up to what has been very obvious based on those “anecdotal impressions” your refer to for fiscal reasons. Not to mention that the delay would have made the Village Idiot embarrasssed had he done similarly. I would have liked to seen that “perspective”. Whatever Ms. Hunger games is, she is surely not an idiot and your remark is flinging poo-poo. Whatever you are sir, you are assuredly not a combat veteran and likely do not know any.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Thanks for the DE-fense, WC. Kinda makes me wish you’d been on the football field in Seattle last night.

        2. Roger Bigod

          Um. I’m a veteran and I served in a combat zone, in the Medical Corps.

          Concocting a government conspiracy to suppress research is a fun substitute for thinking. But the result is the generation of another layer of poo-poo.

          1. Whine Country

            Please share with us which combat zone, which Medical Corps and exactly what you did while there. My two sons and I have “served in a combat zone” but our experiences were quite different. Also, I find it curious that you chose to omit your capacity while serving there. For example, you may have been a Navy Corpsman which could mean that you served in a hospital aboard an Aircraft Carrier that got within 20 miles of a War Zone. Or you could have been attached to a Marine infantry outfit that was under extensive hostile fire for a great deal of the time. (I really doubt the latter). Your CV is unimpressive to me as stated. I have extensive experience with combat veterans and particularly those being treated with PTSD and I know very well that the military has dragged its feet and moved slowly and incrementally on properly diagnosing the connection to combat trauma, and seriously treating it. During my time in the VA system, the VA went from completely denying that PTSD existed or could possibly be related to combat trauma, to requiring that each patient be screened for the symptoms and immediately introduced to a treatment for a service-connected condition. My first screening was done in 2010, some 42 years after being wounded in action, and was initiated by pressure from Congress because of the epidemic of veterans who are continuing to commit suicide on a daily basis. Quoting from the article: “This is the first time the tools of modern pathology have been used to look at a 100-year-old problem: the lingering effects of blasts on the brain.” So Mr. Medical Corps, a person who suggests that waiting 100 years to do autopsies because of the advances in pathology to its present modern state, is undeserving of our unconditional admiration, makes that person an idiot slinging poo-poo. I have never met a person medical professional in the VA system, the principal means of treatment for post discharge combat related trauma who is not embarrassed by the delays in properly studying the subject of PTSD with due diligence. On the subject of poo-poo, your better late than never excuse is bullshit!

            1. Roger Bigod

              I certainly agree that society’s response to the prevalence of head trauma is tragically inadequate. But it isn’t a constructive response to sneer at the researcher who assembled a series of cases or the newspaper who reported on his work.

              Government foot-dragging is partly based on avoiding disability claims. But the neglect of this area by academics goes back a long way. Professionals naturally concentrate on conditions that are seen as treatable, so trauma and degenerative diseases were met with fatalism. It took 50 years for people to recognize the significance of Alzheimer’s disease because cognitive decline in the elderly was shrugged off as “senility”.

              I try to attend my country’s wars, and the one I showed up for was in SE Asia, where I spent 18 months (I extended) in Evac Hospitals, including running the blood banks.

              Members of the Army Medical Corps are AFAIK always MD’s. So if you insist on a formal term of address, it should more properly be “Dr. Medical Corps”.

        3. Whine Country

          Yves – What is the point of moderation when a poster such as this Roger Bigod can come on and address a serious topic with to 100 percent ad hominem attack calling those he differs with an idiot slinging poo-poo and a conspiracy theorist adding an additional layer of poo-poo. The man seems to believe that the strength of his argument lies solely in his good name. Right or wrong, I detest this kind of interchange. If a person’s arguments are completely off the wall, the best thing to do is ignore them. Neither Ms. Everdeen’s nor my comments were in anyway off the wall, and in my experience, on both sides of the political isle they are mainstream (off the record, of course). Stopping those who use the board to make personal attacks and characterize others as fools, idiots and sometimes worse detracts seriously from what I believe is your mission of promoting and making changes for the better.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Your comment is at the top of comments in our backstage, so I am seeing it without having reviewed what Bigod wrote to determine if your claims about his arguments are accurate.

            However, honestly, your complaint is out of line.

            We have repeatedly made clear that posting is top priority. We have all of 1.3 people who work absolutely punishing hours. This site has 575,000 comments, all of which have been read by at least one person.

            As for our moderation policies, you seem to project onto us that all comments are reviewed before they appear. You know, or ought to know, that that is not how it works. We have moderation tripwires that do a good job of catching a lot of comments that in fact do not get approved, but as readers know, already generates a fair number of false positives. More stringent rules = more readers upset about a higher level of false positives.

            In addition, if all that is wrong with Bigod’s remarks is persistent ad hominem, we can’t moderate in advance for dishonest argumentation. The software does not exist for that. If someone persists in bad faith argumentation, we might put them in moderation, but that is AFTER they’ve established that that is their pattern.

            In other words, you are basically asking us to be able to do pre-crime with commentors. That’s an utterly unreasonable demand.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            And now that I’ve read the thread, you chose to amp up a fight on unjustified grounds.

            Be careful what you ask for. You are the one who goes into moderation. Bigod was not anywhere near as out of line as you depicted him as being and you were the one who escalated way out of proportion.

            Moreover, Bigod did not engage in ad hominem. His point was substantive, if expressed at points crudely. Katniss was denigrating the research for being done at all, as irrelevant and a waste of research dollars. Bigod, as a vet, told he it wasn’t and that there were reasons the research took so long to do. And I have to tell you that head trauma is a huge deal and is indeed not well understood. There is a well-funded research effort out of Harvard, MIT and Dartmouth on this very topic, a reflection of how little is known. For instance, there is now concern that soccer players are getting long-term brain damage because heading the ball creates sub-concussions. Do you think that does not have large-scale implications, given the number of young girls, with presumably even more vulnerable brains, who play soccer?

            1. Roger Bigod

              Thanks for your approval. My comments weren’t intended as ad hominem. I had no negative feelings about “Katniss”, just reflex disapproval of making fun of the investigator. And it was out of the blue, since my response was to feel sorry for hum. Assembling even that small series was probably a huge logistical hassle, considering how low autopsy rates are.

      2. Jackrabbit

        Katniss is a shrewd observer whose comments often contain biting insights. She/he is a valued commenter at NC and certainly not “an idiot flinging poo-poo” or gratuitously nasty.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Katniss can come too close to being abusive. Her comments are often very good but she is not a paragon of virtue. She can be unproductively argumentative, as she was above in her “atta boy” to Whine Country, which led him to decide to prove his manhood a second time and resulted in him being put in moderation.

    2. Vatch

      Thank you for mentioning depleted uranium. A lot of people don’t realize that it is radioactive. What is depleted is the U-235, which is fissile, leaving the U-238, which is still radioactive, even though it cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction. When U-238 atoms decay, they release an alpha particle, so U-238 (and depleted uranium) is still dangerous. I wouldn’t want any depleted uranium atoms inside my lungs.

  6. abynormal

    re; work stoppage US ports
    A full-blown work stoppage would be “catastrophic”, he added.
    “About 40 per cent of our footwear comes through the southern California ports,” he said. “Can you imagine how disruptive that would be to the footwear market if there’s a lockout or some kind of total shutdown?”

    “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”
    Bruce Lee

  7. Frances

    Re: Women, PTSD, Diabetes, Antidepressants, Weight Gain
    From the NIH site linked on NC:

    Use of antidepressants and higher body weight accounted for almost half the increased risk, Koenen said. “The antidepressant finding was surprising because as far as we know, no one has shown it before,” she said. “Much more research needs to be done to determine what the finding means.”

    Anyone who has experienced sudden, considerable, intractable weight gain while taking Prozac (for example) need only Google such and find confirmation going back many years that many, many experience(d) the same.

    Do pharma companies have data that confirms this? Do they have a responsibility to release this data? How about the large percentage of “obese” children who “happen” to take SSRIs?

    Research leading from this data would point to further research that is needed regarding diabetes, breast cancer, high blood pressure, etc.

    The devil is in the details in the small print on pharma labels, if it even appears there. The FDA is silent at best, complicit at worst.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I’ve heard of SSRI weight gain and am under the impression that 10-15 lbs is common for men and women. The fact that it is not more generally known is what I find surprising, which I assume means doctors don’t tell patients of the risk.

  8. Dino Reno

    A Former FBI Special Agent Says The CIA Kept Him From Helping Stop 9/11 Business Insider (David L)

    This supports the neocons’ world view. It was an intelligence failure, not a policy failure.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        It seems to have been a pretty densely layered phenomenon, whatever was going on there.

          1. tim s

            I’m scratching my head as to why this type of article is posted in the links after the recent events in the comment section. What, specifically, are we supposed to be (or allowed to be) discussing? I fully grant those who run this site may limit the scope of discussion to avoid running down certain rabbit holes, but I’d not expect to see bait for these holes to be just staring at those who tend in that direction.

            1. Banger

              Essentially the limits involve what is reported, more or less, within the “mainstream” either the actual MSM or the broad consensus of the “left”–but that is from my POV. The border, if you want my humorous opinion, lies right down the middle Paul Craig Roberts. PCR was published regularly in Counterpunch now as well as when Alex Cockburn ran it–PCR opinions on 9/11 were not allowed however. After Alex Cockburn died PCR was allowed to give a one-time piece about 9/11 in CP and that’s it. He’s still regular there as long as he isn’t to far into CT. PCR cannot be completely ignored because of his CV. In fact, what brought all this hooha was a reference I made to one of his stories about the CH killings. BTW, I have no clue what transpired with the CH matter there nor did I claim to know.

              1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

                Calling someone ‘kook’ or conspiracy theorist is often a way to shut down otherwise polite discussion or prevent following skeins of evidence. That said, there’s a lot of stuff out there that goes straight to eleven. I always assume the readership here is thoughtful and discerning. I wouldn’t bother commenting on something like Alternet.

    1. Chief Bromden

      The Business Insider story links to another at Salon…

      More lies exposed in the commission report.

      “I am outraged and have been ever since I first learned that the CIA knew these guys were in the country,” explained Clarke. “But I believed for the longest time that this was probably one or two low-level CIA people who made the decision not to disseminate the information. Now that I know that 50 CIA officers knew this, and they included all kinds of people who were regularly talking to me, saying I’m pissed doesn’t begin to describe it.”

      Clarke said he assumed that “there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share that information.” When asked who might have issued such an order, he replied, “I would think it would have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet — although he added that Tenet and others would never admit to the truth today “even if you waterboarded them.”

      Sounds like Richard Clarke is describing what could possibly be defined as a “conspiracy” by the CIA.

  9. Jim Haygood

    More tax ‘n spend from the tax ‘n spend party:

    Flanked by a collection of liberal groups and labor leaders, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday announced a raft of proposals on social issues, among them a plan that would raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour in New York City and $10.50 an hour in the rest of the state.

    If approved by the State Legislature, the proposal would make New York’s minimum wage among the highest in the country.

    Confiscatory taxation drives away people. Texas blew past New York in population in 1994; Florida exceeded it in 2014. Crushing taxation (min wage being a de facto tax on employment) makes an economic wasteland of upstate New York. From a NY Fed paper:

    By 1970, growth [upstate] had all but ceased. In addition, while the nation’s population expanded 38 percent between 1970 and 2000, upstate New York’s increased a scant 2 percent.

    Population growth by age cohort indicates that upstate New York is losing its young, prime-age workers. Between 1980 and 2000, it lost roughly 20 percent of people twenty to thirty-four, mostly during the 1990s.

    No worries, comrades. Cuomonomics will put all these young adults to work at $10.50 an hour in sparkling new casinos. Then they’ll be able to afford some of the nation’s highest property taxes, gasoline taxes and tobacco taxes. Hillary (a resident of downstate NY) can run in 2016 on this record of economic success!

    1. McMike

      Surely you realize that an increase minimum wage is not a tax, and that the increased income goes directly to the people who do the work, not to the government.

      In the meantime, I was wondering if you could you provide some evidence that the population shifts are the direct result of tax flight. Perhaps they are heading to Kansas.

      1. Jim Haygood

        By ‘de facto tax,’ I mean arbitrarily jacking up the cost of employment without offering any counterbalancing incentive. Minimum wage will be (if this passes) $10.50 an hour in Buffalo, NY vs. $7.25 an hour in Wichita, KS.

        Wichita gained 40% in population since 1970, while Buffalo lost 44% of its people. If Cuomo prevails, this gap likely will accelerate.

          1. Jim Haygood

            As you know, it’s impossible to tease out the multiple factors that cause population shifts. Buffalo was heavily dependent on a steel industry that was in terminal decline in the 1970s, and is now gone entirely. New York State’s top marginal income tax rate reached an astounding 15.35% in the mid-1970s, which not only helped to empty Buffalo, but also brought NYC to its knees.

            That Cuomo is introducing casinos in depressed areas, rather than value-added activities, is very appropriate symbolism for the fading Empire State.

            1. McMike

              As you know, it’s impossible to tease out the multiple factors that cause population shifts.

              So why use this thread to imply the opposite?

            2. Sam Adams

              the saving grace for upstate NY will be the same reason industry located there in the first place: cheap hydro power from the many waterways and ease of transportation.

              1. Calgacus

                That is one of the problems of the area – the power is being given away in longterm deals for peanuts. As David Cay Johnston notes in his 2012 The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use Plain English to Rob You Blind

                “All that cheap power could foster an economic boom in western New York, historically a center of innovation and manufacturing. Cheap power is doing just that on the Canadian side of the border as automakers and others flock there…. But in New York the cheap power benefits only a few. Just ten corporations get two-thirds of the cheap power not dedicated to the handful of publicly owned electric utilities in New York.”

        1. Llewelyn Moss

          $7.25 an hour in Wichita, KS.
          = $15,080 year
          Dorothy, you are now a Poverty Slave to the Wicked Wichita of the West. haha.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          “By ‘de facto tax,’ I mean arbitrarily jacking up the cost of employment without offering any counterbalancing incentive.”

          As opposed to, say, “arbitrarily” jacking up the cost of a dozen eggs 2% per year (because the economy can’t function without “inflation”) without offering any counterbalancing incentive. Like another egg.

          There’s nothing “de facto” about that tax.

          1. cwaltz

            Silly Katniss- you act as if consumers and labor are actually part of the market instead of just business owners.

            It never ceases to amaze me how the same people who bitch, moan and whine about wage increases aren’t insistent that power companies, real estate owners, and every other part of business that is utilized for creation of a good or service keep their costs consistently the same. It’s funny they never seem to insist that we stop the people who provide feed to cattlemen from raising prices and passing that cost on to cattlemen who pass it on to business owners but heaven forbid that counter employee get more money- the world will end. *shakes head at the ridiculousness*

    2. Ulysses

      “By 1970, growth [upstate] had all but ceased.”

      Upstate N.Y. did not have significantly higher minimum wages than other regions of the country in the late 1960’s or early 1970s. Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, etc. were all cities that suffered from the same vast changes of de-industrialization that negatively impacted the entire “Rust Belt” which extends to the upper Midwest.

      The decline of high-wage, huge employers like Xerox, Carrier, Kodak, NCR, etc. had nothing whatsoever to do with the minimum wage, or taxes. Indeed, there is evidence that in our post-industrial economy those those states that increase there minimum wages see better job growth than those who do not:

    3. Ulysses

      The reason that the economy of upstate NY has been stagnant since the early 1970’s is the same reason that the entire “Rust Belt”, extending from Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo to the upper Midwest, has experienced the same stagnation: de-industrialization. The minimum wage was completely irrelevant to the decline of huge employers like Xerox, NCR, Morse Chain, Carrier, Kodak, etc. who all paid wages far higher than the minimum in their heyday.

      Indeed, there is some evidence that in the post-industrial economy we live in now, raising the minimum wage may actually promote job growth:

      1. Carolinian

        Surely Kodak and Xerox were victims of tech “creative destruction” as much as anything else–particularly Kodak. They made their fortune on all that celluloid. Upstate does still have Corning. Fabulous glass museum there.

        1. Synapsid

          Carolinian et al.,

          I believe Corning uses the same sandstones, to make glass, that are being mined for fracking proppant. There could be an interesting market conflict developing there.

      2. MartyH

        Ulysses doesn’t mention IBM, once a powerhouse employer from Endicott down into the lower Hudson Valley (40,000 – 60,000 or more in NY State?). Now, in the thousands if that much. De-industrialization, globalization, and flat-out looting all contributed and several metropolitan areas are ghost-towns for the lost IBM jobs (and NY State lost all the relevant benefits of hosting such a seminal Big Business). The important part of this comment is that it is almost impossible to blame minimum wage or wage-and-hour laws for this de-industrialization. NY State made numerous tax concessions to IBM to keep them in the State, to grow, to … blah, blah, blah. In the end, the Corporation walked away.

        It’s not about this policy or that policy. It’s about being one of the cool kids who can maximize the benefits of labor arbitrage and escape the responsibilities of their negative externalities (and social responsibilities).

        1. Ulysses

          Good point! We also shouldn’t forget that General Electric started out in Schenectady.

          I’m glad that New York hasn’t tried to race to the bottom, and compete with the lower labor costs of Mississippi. It is sad that I.B.M., and many other high-wage employers are no longer employing as many people, but the upstate agricultural economy is flourishing, thanks in part to the popularity of Greek yogurt.

          There is no happier place for me in the world than upstate! Even when I lived on beautiful Lake Como, in northern Italy, I was missing the wine country of the Finger Lakes where I grew up.

    4. Banger

      Since I live in an area (North Carolina) that is awash with migrants from NY (mainly Long Island) I have a pretty good idea why people have moved here. Mainly its weather, more relaxed culture and cost of living.

      I think a big part of the problem in NY state is not so much taxation as corruption. People are not unhappy to pay taxes if they thing they are getting a good return. Other countries have much higher taxes but a less stressful life because they don’t have to worry about medical, dental, and mental health care or being without hope should disaster strike. I would be a social democrat if I believed that paying taxes would provide a Euro-style welfare state. But I believe the better course for the U.S. may be in the opposite direction until we can bleed the corruption in the system. I saw directly how anti-poverty funds were used back in the late sixties and early seventies to, as my lying eyes showed me, fund politically connected racketeers that pretended to train people for jobs and various scams and rackets that were connected with “urban renewal” that involved the local Mafia (this was Providence, RI back in the day). Believe me, I knew the scene back then from the bottom up and how machine politics functioned in those days.

      Later, in my work and “hanging out” in the Washington DC area I saw how politics functioned and, on balance, the Federal gov’t seemed to try to address issues and gradually (and it did not matter in the least who was President) deep corruption set in particularly a result of “re-inventing” government that basically gummed up the works and create a whole class of contractors most of whom ended up playing the angles and, while there were many honest attempts at reform from time to time, the angles just got more numerous and corruption became rampant.

      A social-democrat, if he or she is honest, has no place to lay his/her head in Washington. Government whether its social policy or security policy does not, in the aggregate work (there are areas of government that do work but they are now isolated and not the norm) in terms of providing a good bang for the buck. This is why the libertarian arguments have such resonance with the public. The public would probably favor social democracy if it was presented in such a way that we could eliminate tribal factors (poor whites believe taxes go to “lazy” blacks etc.). But there is a strong distrust of all institutions abroad in our (US) culture and I don’t see how faith can be renewed.

      NY State is, of course, a very corrupt state as Cuomo himself amply demonstrates year after year along with the state legislature. But upping the minimum wage is a good policy that will not cause, in itself, a flight of capital. I believe a higher minimum wage creates less stress in workers and a greater sense of self-worth that will translate into higher productivity–low income people are desperate–they live in a society that seems to be utterly separate from them particularly when confronted by a society that only honors mainly wealth. Science shows us that when we are exposed constantly to riches and we don’t have it it causes stress and disease. Large income disparities are a cancer in the body politic and should be eliminated if we want a healthy society and all indications are that we don’t want that or, at least, the elites don’t want that.

      1. James Levy

        They leave because they can sell their high-priced homes up here and then take their government pensions with them down there.

        1. cwaltz

          Shoveling snow isn’t a lot of fun when your older.

          I disagree that they come for “culture” though. New York has Carolina beat by a mile when it comes to culture. If you want to see a show, eat good food, or go dancing you can easily do that in the city. If you want to hunt and fish you can do that too(just upstate instead of in the city.) As far as I know all Carolina has going for it is barbeque.

          1. Banger

            Well, living in NYC certainly has advantages but it is expensive. In terms of culture it depends on what you like–music, particularly “roots” music is very good here where poor musicians can live. I find life more relaxed down here–people are not so ambitious and feeling they have to constantly “improve” people feel a bit freer just to be. Eccentrics are more tolerated here–my wife who was born and raised in the town we live in and is a true eccentric by any standards–she has been tolerated and beloved by many people who are very conservative. To give you a clue, when she was eighteen she showed up for her first factory job barefoot–they sent her home and she returned with shoes–they didn’t fire her. People are much “harder” up north more quick to exclude others.

    5. Carolinian

      @Haygood. You are just making the case for why the minimum wage must be a national standard rather than regional or targeted. DC tried to pass a minimum wage law that would, basically, only apply to Walmart and failed. One could argue that taxes should also be a largely Federal matter with revenue sharing sending back money to the needier areas. This would be a real darned socialist idea to be sure and sooner or later we are going to have to come to that–to stymie all this “labor arbitrage” which only benefits the plutocrats. I live in a region that was industrialized by Northern mill owners leaving Massachusetts and other textile areas for the low wage South. The neighborhood I live in is named for one of them. Another, Roger Milliken of the New York Millikens, recently passed. The guy was a somewhat famous rightwinger who gave money to a local college while at the same time gifting all the professors a subscription to National Review.

      So yes people are moving to the Carolinas as my fellow Carolinian Banger notes below. And perhaps he is right that low tax libertarianism looks more attractive if all the Federal government is going to do is prop up Wall Street and wage pointless wars. But this won’t solve the country’s problems. The distribution of power is going to have to undergo a big change.

      1. skippy

        What Jim Haygood and Banger completely forget or white wash is the architects and their benefactors desires.


        How do individuals form expectations about future in ation? We propose that per-
        sonal experiences play an important role. Individuals adapt their forecasts to new data
        but overweight in ation realized during their life-times. Young individuals update their
        expectations more strongly in the direction of recent surprises than older individuals since
        recent experiences make up a larger part of their lives so far. We nd support for these pre-
        dictions using 57 years of microdata on in ation expectations from the Reuters/Michigan
        Survey of Consumers. Dierences in life-time experiences strongly predict dierences in
        subjective in ation expectations. Learning from experience explains the substantial dis-
        agreement between young and old individuals in periods of high surprise in ation, such
        as the 1970s. It also explains household borrowing and lending behavior, including the
        choice of xed versus variable-rate investments and mortgages. The loss of distant mem-
        ory implied by learning from experience provides a natural microfoundation for models
        of perpetual learning, such as constant-gain learning models.

        When you combine all my “labours are *** mine – I ***”, with hyper inflation expectations OCD “diminishment of “mine – I” labours,” and then add on Taxes are another diminishment of “mine – I” labours… wellie you get a situation not unlike watching a economic Saw Movie dilemma.

        Skippy… or maybe the Cube, yet in both cases the walls are self inflicted bias in construction.

    6. zapster

      This isn’t taxation. It’s returning the income to people that earned it. And as they will spend more of it in the city, it will boost the city’s prosperity. Funneling millions out of the city to corporate coffers is the real “tax”. This is simply restoring what has been stolen. Have you looked at the the stats on wage theft lately?

  10. McMike

    re “no one was supposed to lose this much money.”

    I know the article is sarcastic. But the fact that it needed to be written is a glimpse into the entitled, self-aggrandizing, rationalizing, yet ultimately exceptionally childish world of the Masters of the Universe.

    They think themselves bold risk takers, geniuses at evaluating and identifying opportunities, with a sophistication and analytical acumen the rest of the world is simply too dumb and too naive to comprehend, pulling global levers, earning every bit of their huge fees due to the fruits of their huge brains (and bigger balls) – Masters of the Universe indeed – yet when simple, mathematically predictable acts of gravity occur, and they discover that they can lose money in the game too, they revert into various child-like states of denial, magical thinking, and rage.

    For all their talk of free markets, it is been repeatedly shown, that when markets are actually freed, even a bit, their bold money making schemes fall apart, and they start to whine and stomp their feet like babies.

    1. Demeter

      In other words, the game was rigged, and the rigging fell apart.

      May all such rigging unwind this year. The People have had enough!

      1. McMike


        And the money quote in the article was the acknowledgement that it was suspected this sort of thing might happen, but maybe not until 2016. Yet they continued to price their margin requirements as if it could never happen.

        That is prima facie evidence that the Greenspan put is alive and well.

    2. MikeNY

      when markets are actually freed, even a bit, their bold money making schemes fall apart, and they start to whine and stomp their feet like babies.

      True, and the Fed capitulates because the only tool they know how to use is ‘wealth effect’.

      1. Paul Niemi

        A two year moratorium on creation of new reserves by the Fed would restore the function of interest rates in price discovery. Let it make new loans of reserves from repaid principal only for two years, buy no more assets, and remove the policy of paying interest on excess reserves held by the Fed. There is already more than enough money in circulation to run the economy; the world is awash in dollars, and that’s clear. What would happen is the restoration of the money markets. Your local bank would start offering decent interest rates for money market accounts. After two years, the Fed could resume lending new money at the interest rates presented by the market.

        1. zapster

          If the world is awash in dollars, why are they so expensive we can’t maintain a domestic economy?

          1. financial matters

            The problem is distribution. Being bound psychologically by market forces we lost our ability to distribute resources in a socially meaningful way. Our ‘central’ banks could be acting as central clearing centers interested in the public purpose instead of the health of banks. Even better governments could operate in a fiscally responsible manner. ( best wishes to Stephanie Kelton)

            Bill Black sums it up well on failed austerity practices: “We know now that when the NYT pins the “populist” label on a Greek leader it means that he or she puts “ordinary Greeks first” – exactly where they belong.”


          2. Paul Niemi

            Austerity tends to favor a high ratio of consumption, meaning consumption of consumables, over investment, both by businesses and governments. Secular stagnation and disinflation occur when the government has made a decision not to invest, and hence is not in competition for goods and services with the private sector. It is merely raising less in taxes to pay consumers to buy consumables, and inflation is low because government is not in competition for scarce goods and services with the private sector, a condition pointing to lack of investment.

            Investment is a positive decision, it doesn’t happen on its own, and it must be continually husbanded. The most reliable way to decide in favor of investment is through fiscal policy, and that requires independent agency on the part of the elected government, something missing, for example, in Greece. Monetary policy is then subordinated to fiscal policy, because investment precedes both the money supply and the velocity. It isn’t a matter of the money being expensive. There is a difference between financial assets and real assets. The latter is the aim of investment, the substance that drives the cash flows necessary for a healthy economy. Financial assets may inflate and deflate in a speculative bubble, but real assets endure. Fiscal policy is not the sine qua non of investment, in an otherwise healthy economy, but in hard times it has worked the best.

        2. MikeNY

          You may be right, Paul — but what would Dimon, Blankfein & Moynihan do without the $8 billion or so of riskless interest income they’re getting each year from the Fed? Surely, chaos would ensue.

          1. Paul Niemi

            Sometimes I put an idea out to test if it gets repeated. Given the lack of meaningful opposition to QEs 1, 2, and 3, I want to find out if the opposite idea of a moratorium on new money creation by the Fed for a couple years would get the same ho hum. As for what the bankers could do, in absence of the intravenous drip of new credit injected continuously by ZIRP, they could very well make money the old-fashioned way, by earning it. Congress can always use fiscal policy to solve any emergent problems.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, agreed, that is what is both good and horrifying about Levine. He cops a studied and very effective irony, but it’s based on the MOTU premise. And he can make the most astonishing defenses of bad industry conduct seem reasonable.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Shocker in Argentina. This is bad, really bad:

    The Argentine prosecutor who last week accused President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of trying to absolve Iranian officials from their involvement in the most deadly terrorist attack in the nation’s history has been found dead in his apartment.

    Alberto Nisman’s body was discovered by his mother and a police officer in the bathroom of his apartment last night alongside a gun and the shell of a bullet, according to a statement by the Security Ministry, which didn’t provide the cause of death. Nisman was scheduled to present evidence for his accusations against Fernandez at a lower house commission today. He was 51, according to local media.

    “The autopsy has already begun,” Prosecutor Viviana Fein, who is in charge of the investigation into Nisman’s death, told reporters in Buenos Aires today. “There were no witnesses or neighbors and there was no letter.”

    Nisman alleged that Fernandez and her Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had sought to cover up an investigation he was heading into the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that left 85 people dead and hundreds injured.

    1. Fernando

      It’s a pity that this note is not in english but it’s the clearest and least biased I have found around:

  12. Jackrabbit

    As we near the State of the Union (SOTU) speech in which Obama is expected to call for higher taxes on the wealthy (now that it is almost certainly not possible to pass) its worthwhile to revisit Austerity (known in the US as ‘the sequester’). Please see my comment from yesterday.

    Austerity drains money and opportunity from the lower classes in the name of “belt tightening”. It is not difficult to see Austerity as a ‘sanctions’ regime akin to sanctions on foreign countries that we disagree with. Such a view is very much in line with the notion of a “War on the Middle Class”. While there are many benefits to a strong middle class, it has traditionally been an obstacle to elite malfeasance.

    Another way to look at the middle class is as another example of the Commons. A strong middle class is valuable to society as a whole. Feeding off the middle class – to extinction – transforming the US/West into a banana republic destroys enormous value while enriching a few with a small part of that value.

  13. flora

    Thanks for the “New Snowden Docs” link.
    About the NYT NSA story, I agree with your assessment. Their story keeps changing.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Reading the today’s link to the discussion of Snowden’s leak about the NSA plans for cyberattack reminded me of an idea from the play “In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer”. The play suggested Oppenheimer opposed work on the hydrogen bomb because there were only 2 or 3 suitable targets in the Soviet Union but hundreds of suitable targets in the United States.

      The United States seems especially target rich for cyberattack and especially dependent on the Internet and other networks — let’s not forget the phone system and banking networks among others. Our computer hardware, chips, circuit boards, and even many systems originate from foreign sources many of which have close ties with one of our chief rivals. The supply chain for much of our commercial, industrial and even some of our military electronic systems is far from secure. Counterfeit parts have been a problem for several years. Some cyberattacks could use dark hardware features introduced into our hardware by our rivals the same way that NSA designed features find their way into software.

      Not so very long ago several industries went to lengths to repair the Y-2K limitations of their software. A lot of that software was written in Cobol but most Cobol programmers and software maintenance programmers in the United States had been laid off years before. I heard rumors in computer contracting circles many of the Cobol programmers doing Y-2K maintenance came in on work visas from Russia and parts of the old Soviet Union. At the time, I wondered whether some of these Russian Cobol programmers might have ties to the Russian mafia.

      Today, much of the software guts for our computer systems originates in software houses located in India, some in China and other scattered places in Eastern Europe. Most recently IBM sold off its chip manufacturing facility in Vermont to a foreign company. The Vermont facility, where some of the chips for our special military electronics were manufactured, was the last large scale chip manufacturing facility still located in the United States and run by a United States based company.

      Our rivals have already demonstrated considerable capability for creating computer attacks. I believe the Sapphire Worm of a decade ago was a warning shot from the Chinese. The worm was based on a zero-day attack — a new attack not seen before and not protected against by most firewalls or attack detection/protection systems or software. The worm attacked a flaw in the Microsoft SQL Server program, widely used in commercial applications. The worm was constructed in a single UDP packet. It took over an MS SQL Server and immediately propagated itself. Within 15 minutes it infected a large part of the MS SQL Server applications running on the Internet — worldwide. No one knew exactly where the worm originated but there were indications Hong Kong was the source.

      There is the old saying: “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

  14. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Morrison family dealing with aftermath of April ’14 fatal shooting Billings Gazette. A police shooting from the policeman’s side.


    A “policeman” who was referred to by his chief as “aggressive.” A “policeman” who at the time of the Ramirez shooting, was a little more than a year removed from another fatal shooting, an incident in which he shot Jason James Shaw as he reached for what was later found to be a BB gun that looked like a real gun, and six months removed from a coroner’s jury ruling it was justified.

    To be fair, I didn’t know what happened, so i read the Billings Gazette account of the incident:


    Then I read the Billings Gazette account of the department review:

    Interesting thing from the review article: “The shooting was the third fatal BPD officer-involved shooting since 2013.” Sounds kind of like Officer Morrison was responsible for two of the three fatalities.

    I guess it’s a good thing he now works for the DEA. Blowing away filthy, hapless druggies for the feds is so much less PTSD-inducing. Although I might suggest he change careers before he hurts someone who really matters. Or runs into a prosecutor with balls like the WOMAN in Albuquerque.

  15. vidimi

    “No, no, no,” he answered. “I wish I did.”

    He went on to say that things might’ve happened differently had he known when he pulled the car over that Ramirez was inside and unarmed. Maybe he would’ve held him there at gunpoint, or waited for backup before approaching the car.

    “It’s the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Grant said at the inquest. “I wish I didn’t have to make it. I wish I just knew he didn’t have a gun, but I couldn’t take that risk.”

    Read more:

    this is what police work has come down to and people still think of the police as “brave” “heroes”. but instead, cops are constantly fed fear to the extent that they become distilled cowards who will shoot you unless “they know for sure” that you don’t have a gun. mind you, america’s gun ubiquity is the main cause of this.

    1. fresno dan

      I am so old, I can remember when they didn’t shoot until they KNEW you had a gun…

      and a supercynic might say, as it is impossible to prove a negative, the police can always shoot first….

      1. Alan

        I know. I read it months ago and said ” guy has done this twice, case closed”. Then I read this view from his family, his wife sympathetic to the victims family, the stresses of the job….you know this is just one job I could not do. Not a coward to do it. Maybe his wife encouraged him to do a job he is not meant for. I don’t know. It’s just that there are always two sides to every story. Always.

  16. Banger

    MLK day today. MLK was killed exactly (!) a year after he decided to break with the then African American power-structure and most liberals and make a anti-Vietnam War speech at a time when it was still a war supported by most Americans opposed only by dirty hippies. Just before he was killed he organized a Poor People’s March to emphasized the plight of the poor in America and entered into class-struggle with both feet whereas MLK was seen purely as a leader of black liberation. I need to remind people that MLK was, above all else, deeply interested in assaulting ruling-class privilege and breaking up the War Machine that rules us today. He was, rightly, deemed the most dangerous man in America to the ruling elite. Martin’s speeches seem sort of quaint today delivered in a style that seems dated–but he had an extraordinary power to move people in those days because he exuded moral authority with every pore of his body.

    I mourn his assassination as a deeply tragic end (along with RFK) of the social-movements of the sixties and their transformation into the fragmented movements we still see today.

    From William Pepper who ended up being the King family lawyer there is this rememberance:

    Now, he thought carefully about this war. . . . I remember vividly, I was a journalist in Vietnam, when I came back he asked to meet with me, and when I opened my files to him, which were devastating in terms of the effects upon the civilian population of that country, he unashamedly wept.

    I knew at that point really that the die was cast. This was in February of 1967. He was definitely going to oppose that war with every strength, every fiber in his body. And he did so. He opposed it. And from the date of the Riverside speech to the date he was killed, he never wavered in that opposition. Now, what does that mean? Is he an enemy of the State? The State regarded him as an enemy because he opposed it. But what does it really mean, his opposition? I put it to you that his opposition to that war had little to do with ideology, with capitalism, with democracy. It had to do with money. It had to do with huge amounts of money that that war was generating to large multinational corporations that were based in the United States.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      MLK’s moral clarity is even more vital today, a time of perpetual war and rumors of war. But there is certainly no community organizer of King’s courage, character, or pulpit who comes close today. We live in a time of mercenary charlatanism and cowardice with the Prince of Darkness ascendant.

  17. Andrew Watts

    RE: Iraq is now partitioned. Forget it and move on.

    The United States is going to learn an unforgiving lesson of history soon… the hard way. Wars often begin when you please but they don’t end when you will. Considering how much crap the people who opposed the Iraq war took at the time I only have one thing left to say on the matter.

    Suck it up buttercup.

    1. Banger

      Some of us who opposed the Iraq War did believe that, ultimately, chaos would result. We have to remember what Iraq once was–a relatively liberal (by standards of the region) secular state ruled that ended up, with Saddam, as an autocratic regime. But, women were relatively free and education was encouraged such that Iraq became the most Western society in the Arab world. The general project of American policy was to discourage nationalism (that is why the CIA overthrew the democratic government and installed the Shah and also why the U.S. was hostile to Nasser’s pan-Arabist project) and secularism and, instead, encourage a movement towards religious fundamentalism that would guarantee that no one in the oil rich region of the ME would achieve real independent political power.

      What we have is what some had predicted, religious, tribal statelets which now have no legality at all which makes them even more powerless. What does this mean in practice? In practice it means that all these little entities are subject to bribery or threats from “legitimate” powers like Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and above all these the U.S. and its Western satellites. We need more information about IS and how it was formed and who runs it. Western media seems to not be interested in the history of this organization or its connection with those who fund it and those who benefit–such questions tend to have uncomfortable answers and everyone seems to be interested in the comfort of one kind of orthodoxy or another.

      1. Andrew Watts

        You haven’t changed your tune since June when it was beyond obvious that the US or anybody else for that matter would not benefit from the ascension of the Islamic State. The belief that America is behind everything that happens in the world is a disgusting bit of exceptionalism.

        “We need more information about IS and how it was formed and who runs it.”

        That’s a a dead end. Syrian intelligence was known to assist Al Qaeda in Iraq after the 2003 invasion but they’re hardly benefiting now from the Islamic State on Syrian soil. The Iranians didn’t need the formation of IS to gain control over Iraq. The Saudis and Gulf states are next on the list of nations that the Islamic State is going to attempt to seize control over. This despite whatever assistance was offered to them previously. The other Arab countries like Egypt will likely turn into failed states if the Islamic State secures a large enough foothold on their territory. Turkey is threatened by the Kurdish PKK and any deal they may have cut with IS cannot be trusted. Finally, the United States will not benefit from any of this circumstances for reasons I’ve already articulated.

        You want to know what my theory is for who is behind all this? I think the Caliph is a quiet and modest man which shrouds his formidable intelligence and cunning. He is also a charismatic figure which can inspire a diverse set of followers. In all honesty I believe he has been the real power behind Al Qaeda in Iraq with previous leaders being mere figureheads. As numerous reports and eye witness accounts from Camp Bucca have proven even the Americans looked to him as a leader of sorts. Furthermore he has the wisdom to surround himself with smart and talented advisers and then listens to their good advice. In other words he is everything that our political leadership is not. Which is both the how and why we found ourselves in this quagmire.

        But that’s just a theory and a f—ing scary one at that.

        1. Banger

          Must be very clever indeed. Still, following the money and cui bono is always interesting if sticky. One thing I kind of disagree about is the notion that individual states are unified and have coherent policies. I suggest to you that, for example, Turkey has many factions who are working at odds with other factions–this is also my direct observation of the USG which has vicious fights even within the Pentagon. Elements of the Saudi and Turkish regimes seem to cooperate–to what ends I don’t know. A smart leader can play one side against the other and gain leverage but those types of disunities must exist exist for the Caliph to do that.

          1. Andrew Watts

            One of the first things that ISIS/ISIL did in Syria was seize economic assets. After they acquired enough resources they declared independence of Al Qaeda and began feuding with other rebel factions like the FSA and al-Nusra. I doubt anybody is externally funding them in the present. That is and has remained their strategic imperative so if they’re consistent with it we’ll know exactly where they will strike in Saudi Arabia first.

            One thing I kind of disagree about is the notion that individual states are unified and have coherent policies.

            Most definitely. I just don’t know enough about say the controversy surrounding the Saudi succession or Turkey’s internal politics to competently comment on it. I would imagine various Saudi factions hostile to the current Crown Prince trying to use any means to undermine his succession but covertly cooperating with IS is insanity.

            But hey, everything I wrote about the Caliph is crazy too.

        2. Jackrabbit

          Yes, but . . .

          Despite EVERY nation in the region and beyond hating on ISIS, they are not effectively countering it. That can only be because on the whole they find it USEFUL. IMO, that use is to topple Assad and potentially war against Iran if Obama’s peace initiative doesn’t pan out (and maybe even if it does?).

  18. Andrew Watts

    (From Yesterday)

    RE: Islamic State Has Tripled Its Territory In Syria Since U.S. Started Airstrikes

    The US intervention has been one of the only forces inflicting casualties on IS conventional/guerilla forces. Besides stopping the fall of Kobani the air strikes have imposed a price for every IS advance. In the absence of the airstrikes the gains the Islamic State would’ve made would increase exponentially. I expect the Islamic State to control at least 50% of Syria by the end of the year in spite of this less than decisive factor.

    When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state, his generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy’s forces. He overawes his opponents, and their allies are prevented from joining against him.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    The strategic situation in Syria is the perfect environment for the Islamic State to thrive in. It’s why ISIS/ISIL was nothing more than a war band before it’s entry into the Syrian Civil War. It’s opposition isn’t united and it was given almost a year to consolidate the territory it swiftly seized.

    Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy’s purpose” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    In the face of it’s rapid expansion the main goal of the contending factions is still the overthrow of Assad. This will only strengthen the strategic initiative the Islamic State has already been operating under in Syria. An official merger with Al-Nusra is a likely possibility later this year.

    RE: Saudi Arabia Plunges into an Abyss

    (Note: I don’t buy any of Robb’s pet military theories but that’s my cognitive bias at work. I memorized most of Sun Tzu’s the Art of War by rote when I was around twelve years old. Don’t judge me.)

    I sincerely doubt the Islamic State will attack the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia until they’ve secured Anbar and that means they need to capture Ramadi and Ain al-Asad. Sacking the Green Zone would be a bonus as it would cause major chaos and likely cause the collapse of the Iraqi government. This factor makes the forthcoming battle for Ain al-Asad a decisive battle which will determine the course of not only Iraq but the surrounding Sunni states as well.

    It will be a great opportunity to inflict a major defeat on the Islamic State. They’re going to rapidly assemble and throw their best forces at that base.

    When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is collapse.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    The idea that a border fence will stop the Islamic State is laughable and a sign of desperation. The Great Wall of China was a total waste of resources. Any barbarians that wanted to raid China usually just bribed the border guards stationed at the wall. With the assassination of the commanding officer in charge of border defenses the forces of Saudi Arabia are significantly weakened on top of those factors.

    1. Jackrabbit

      ISIS is a strange animal. There are many who are suspicious of an ISIS connection to KSA and/or other Intelligence Services due to their:

      * previous money raising (from wealthy arabs, we are told);
      * rapid rise;
      * the failure of countries to unite and effectively counter them;
      * slick media including staged, bloodless beheadings;
      * anti-Shia orientation (the vast majority of their operations);
      * a highly hierarchical structure (control in the hands of a few);
      * the history of KSA and ME;
      * etc.

      Even this fence gives one reason to question. While it offers some protection, it seems likely that ISIS operatives can probably find other ways to infiltrate the Kingdom (if they chose to). So is it just for show? An appearance that is offered as proof to others that KSA does not support ISIS? After all, many (most?) of the US-trained FSA have joined ISIS and it is unclear how the US will prevent fighters they train in the future from joining as well (Note: the US is said to begin training an additional 5,000 fighters this Spring).

      So is ISIS ‘blowback’ or ‘false flag’? It could be that ISIS is tolerated for now – by different countries for different reasons – simply because they are useful (against Syria, Kurds, and possibly Iran). That toleration resembles collaboration. But ISIS’s call for Muslim’s in western countries to conduct attacks in its name shows independence and argues for ‘blowback’ over ff.

      H O P

      1. Andrew Watts

        I don’t see any reason to reiterate what I’ve said previously before the successful assassination of the Saudi general. You’ve made an excellent gadfly so I hope you won’t be offended with what I’m about to say… It’s a pity that for whatever reason you, like Banger, are unable to see past your own bias and the disinformation that is out there in the face of a rapidly evolving situation.

        1. Banger

          Now wait a minute–I am not wedded to any static position about ISIL. I said we need to know more–I don’t know enough about it other than the old relationship between various actors in the past, i.e., Saudi, U.S., Turkish, Pakistani, Israeli intel and how they’ve acted in the past in alternately supporting and fighting Sunni fundamentalists. You know that, on the broader level, it is in the interests of TPTB in Washington to create chaos and conflict to both make a ton of money and to keep the world in a state of tension and fearful of terrorism–that’s why I’m always skeptical of any terrorist event or terrorist enterprise like ISIL. I don’t think your POV is at all off-base but a very healthy and imaginative (in the positive sense) approach to this issue.

        2. Jackrabbit

          Allow me to explain.

          Lay people like myself are trying to process info while mindful that governments/govt officials can be deceitful. I am not a fan of ‘false flag’ interpretations because that decontextualizes and denies agency. With that said, most of the better CT allows that attacks are carried out by the extremists but ‘allowed to happen’. IMO, since the underlying basis for the attack in such (more reasonable) scenarios is still valid, it seems best to focus on that, instead of ‘hairball’ speculation.

          Now, in the case of ISIS, virtually all independent analysts already accept that US and US allies are covertly supporting the rebels (each in different ways and degrees) so the question I raise really just amounts to how involved they are with each. ISIS is special for several reaons, one of which being that it has morphed into much more than an anti-Syrian rebel group and appears to be making a play for Sunni leadership (how realistic that is, is debatable).

          While I believe that blowback is a better explanation for unintended consequences that arise from foreign policy even that involves a conspiracy of sorts – via propaganda and ‘conspiracy of silence’ – that amounts to negating any ill effects from policy in favor of a narrative that describes any attack on the West as motivated by hateful envy (they hate us for our freedoms). Thus sanitized, policymakers are free to doubled-down and the self-licking ice-cream cone of ‘exceptionalism!’ is reinforced.

          On top of trying to understand the various group dynamics and regional fault lines is putting these events into geo-political perspective.


          I do not claim to be a ME expert and I try to keep an open mind because there are so many agendas in relation to the ME. I think people should be more aware of what is going on and make up their own minds. That is why I mention the alternative case.

          1. Jackrabbit

            Adding: It’s because people aren’t aware of what is (really) going on that the SHOCK of an attack can be used to manipulate them. Then, continuing to keep us in the dark and pounding out the accepted/acceptable narrative serves many purposes. This dynamic, again, calls for skepticism regarding what we are told.

          2. Jackrabbit

            I just read about the upcoming Saudi succession and I think that explains a lot. Its looking to be messy and ISIS is a wildcard – they may attack while the Saudi’s are weak and pre-occupied with succession. What a mess! It makes the fence somewhat understandable: they want to take every possible measure.

          3. vidimi

            israel just assassinated a top iranian general in a gunship attack in syria. iran has been leading the fight against ISIL. it is, therefore, fair to say, that israel is not worried about ISIL at all, and it’s not unreasonable to conclude that this assault helped them. if we can conclude that israel’s foreign policy goals are aligned with america’s (i think few will object to this), then it becomes apparent why ISIL has gained so much ground in syria: it is not despite american air strikes, but precisely because of them.

            there has been neither any evidence nor any other reason to believe that america’s goal of toppling assad has changed over the past year and we are simply seeing this mission in progress.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      They might need a way to employ young men. Lots of people in Saudi Arabia are effectively on government support. Someone might have decided that giving them work would be a way to enrich some big local construction companies and keep young men out of potential trouble-making idleness which might lead them to turn against the Royal Family.

      Your theory is more likely to be accurate, that this is just dumb, but it could also be a combination of diverting more money to some special friends of the House of Saud and doing a bit of social engineering.

  19. lyman alpha blob

    Hard to work up much sympathy for this guy. Doesn’t seem to have occurred to him or anyone else in the Billings justice system that maybe he isn’t fit to carry a weapon. Nope, right back at it with the hard lesson learned from his first killing that ‘It all gets better in time’.

    What a brilliant move to give so many of the criminal minded a gun and a badge – no wonder the crime rate has gone down so much in recent decades!

    1. cnchal

      Fire them all. They are the useless eaters, and there are only 20,000 of them.

      In his new book Trillion Dollar Economists, Robert Litan of the Brookings Institution argues that the economics profession has “created trillions of dollars of income and wealth for the United States and the rest of the world.” That sounds like a nice contribution for a relatively small profession, especially if we do some simple arithmetic. There are, for example, only 20,000 members of the American Economic Association (of which I am President-Elect); if they have created, say, $2 trillion of income and wealth, that is about $100 million per economist.

      This is astounding gassbaggery, to claim economists are responsible for wealth creation. Has an economist ever felled a tree, mined a rock, or made a production tool?

      We have economists to thank for turning China into a toxic waste dump, as per Larry the economist’s advice. The trillions lost because self serving economists couldn’t grasp the reality of too much debt, is lost on them too.

      Particularly grating is the comparison of economists to doctors, and the claim that because the doctor couldn’t predict all of our illnesses economists should be held to the same standard.

      The seat at the policy table economists have had over the years, makes them responsible for the financial mess and destruction of wealth. We should be charging every one of these asshats $100 million for the damages caused.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is economics genuine education? Maybe.

        “Has an economist ever fell a tree, mined a rock or made a production tool?” – interesting question.

        Are economists different from or similar to navel-gazers?

        Can they be part of the Job Guarantee?

        1. hunkerdown

          Ah, ah, keep your church and state on their own separate dishes. Merging them is not kosh — wait, what are cloven-hooved ruminants doing on our meat dishes in the first place?!

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Some people worship power (political power, for example) and some worship monetary power.

            It’s hard to separate church from church.

  20. fresno dan

    Huh. I tried to post that yesterday and it didn’t take, and my comment about it won’t take today. Strange, because my other comments post…. (maybe the amount of pasting???)
    Anyway, Shiller has to own up to the rising inequality and stagnation of incomes of most people. You can’t have “economics” taking credit for a “wealth” creation and than wash it’s hands of any responsibility for rising inequality and poverty.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Great TV shows, like one in the 70s that showed racial bigotry and got people to better themselves – they make real positive impact on our society.

      By hey, TV violence doesn’t make people more violent.

      It can only be found on the plus side, never on the negative side.

      Kind of like baseball managers – hey, he can’t make players field or hit, so don’t blame him, but yes, he was the manager of the year last season when they won, because he (something something) and players hit and field. “He was so happy to receive that award.”

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      DO NOT repost!!! Ever!

      It means you are more likely to wind up in the Spam folder and you train our software to think you are a spammer. And the spam folder is so ginormous (we get over 1000 spam messages every day) that Lambert and I cannot dig through it on a routine basis.

      I’m really sorry your comment got eaten but as Lambert says, the Internet is a hostile environment.

  21. repetitive punitive toxic imagery is life destroying

    (See also, the first comment thread, started by “Ned Ludd”)

    01/16/15 By Shailja Patel, Nairobi, Kenya – The Funny Papers – Rape Cartoons are a Riot, Aren’t They?

    (For me, one of the most stunning omissions of the Charlie Hebdo ‘conversation,’ has been the lack of commentary on the rape imagery. Also, do peruse the angry arab site (no one could tag him as a muslim religion practitioner, let alone an extreme one, though he did grow up in Beirut), regarding the genital headware imagry of that latest, proclaimed apologetic, Charlie Hebdo issue.)

  22. norm de plume

    failed evolution is lucky he gets a link because his belief in the US Deep State would get his cage rattled in comments.. !

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