Links 1/22/15

In theory, the Milky Way could be a ‘galactic transport system’ PhysOrg (Chuck L)

Let me get something off my chest about boob physics in video games Guardian (Chuck L)

Google robot severs its power cord BBC (David L)

Activist effect: eBay to be split into three parts, laying off 7% and giving Icahn another board seat Pando

Scientists Give Genetically Modified Organisms A Safety Switch NPR (David L)

It’s Official: If You Question Authority, You Are Mentally Ill Pater Tenebrarum (Chuck L)

E-Cigarettes Can Churn Out High Levels Of Formaldehyde NPR (David L)

How the People Can Outwit the Global Domination Plans of Agribusiness Don Quijones (Chuck L)

Davos and the fear of Darth Vader DW (margarita)

Deflation Swamps Switzerland Agonist (margarita)

“Charlie Hebdo”, not racist? If you say so… Olivier Cyran (Carolinian). By a former Hebdo writer, published in 2013.

Trojan Hearse: Greek Elections and the Euro Leper Colony OpEdNews (furzy mouse)


A War Between Two Worlds Stratfor (furzy mouse)

Rehman’s Jinnah Institute Causes Stir as Pakistani Federal Minister Calls Out Saudi Destabilization emptywheel (Chuck L)

CIA Agent: US Foreign Policy Primarily to Blame for Islamist Renaissance Don Quijones (Chuck L). Quelle surprise!

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Law enforcement personnel using see-through radar tech Physorg (Chuck L)

Wireless device in two million cars wide open to hacking ars technica (Chuck L)

Google Glass wearer interrogated, removed from Easton movie theater Columbus Dispatch (Chuck L). As much as I am no fan of Google Glass, this is a really dubious use of police time.


Twenty Pounds of BS in a Ten-Pound Bag Truthout. Blistering.

State of the Union 2015: Lethal, Predatory, Delusional Glen Ford. Another brutal assessment.

Obama Pledges To Push Trans-Pacific Partnership In State Of The Union DWWright, Firedoglake

What is Noah thinking? Angry Bear. Boosterism, I assume.

The Myth of Obama Moving to the Left Truthout

Sheldon Silver, New York Assembly Speaker, Faces Arrest on Corruption Charges New York Times. This is a seismic event in New York State politics.

U.S. Not Expected to Fault Officer in Ferguson Case New York Times

Video shows US police fatal shooting of black man BBC (furzy mouse)

No Pardon – Young Woman To Serve 30 Years For Miscarriage Daily Kos (Chuck L)

Amex plans to cut 4,000 jobs Financial Times


Oil demand weakness persists Financial Times

When Will Oil Markets Find A Bottom? OilPrice

Oil Glut, Collapsed Prices, Layoffs Be Damned: Production Soars Wolf Richter

Davos oil barons eye $150 crude as investment slump incubates future crunch Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

A new theory of energy and the economy – Part 1 – Generating economic growth Gail Tverberg (Massina). Some very good stuff in here, but a few seriously sour notes, like her boldfaced statement: “In some sense, the selling price of any product is the market value of the energy embodied in that product.” Uh no. Elite law firms, elite consulting firms, CEO pay, hedge fund, private equity fund, even general money management “services” have nada to do with energy. She’s also missing oligopoly/monopolies which lead to big price distortions in selling prices (start with your local cable service…)

Goldman Tramples Volcker Rule John Jansen

“We know exactly who today’s dream killers are”: Why postal banking is so needed — and on the rise Dave Dayen, Salon

Class Warfare

It’s the Government’s Job to Respond to Cyber Attacks, Not Companies Bloomberg. Why is this a surprise? Corporations will always vote for more socialism for the rich. The expansion of the snooping-industrial complex is a twofer: more guns (of the advanced tech sort) which to them means less butter (more desperate workers) AND more surveillance to keep the rabble-rousers in line.

A tale of two housing markets: mansions for the rich while poor are priced out David Dayen, Guardian

Help wanted: Fast food cashier, $15 an hour Science Daily (furzy mouse). Key finding: “We conclude that the fast-food industry could indeed absorb the increase in its overall wage bill without resorting to cuts in their employment levels at any point over the four-year adjustment period.”

Antidote du jour (Melody):

clouded leopard links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. scott

    A story Monsanto probably doesn’t want you to hear.

    One of my uncles in SE Michigan rented some farmland that hadn’t been planted since the ’70s, because you had to cross a small stream to get to it. Being a somewhat dry spring (2008 or 2009, don’t remember) he was able to get a tractor to it. He figured he’d gamble some seeds on it, but not fertilize or spray on the field because he didn’t expect much yield.

    It turned out to be his best yielding field that year, a year where rain wasn’t abundant. All that carbon in the soil held water, and the bugs and diseases had moved on to adjacent fields. Oops. We will soon learn what farmers knew 3000 years ago about topsoil.

    1. Sam Adams

      … But Monsanto is your friend. It’s also the lack in diversity of foodstuffs. We eat fewer species and varieties today than 100 years ago. What could possibly go wrong?

    2. McMike

      Yes, a very good argument also for fallowing, no-till ag, and planting cover crops. I’ve hunted my share of CRP lands, and I can attest to their health and diversity of life when left to its own methods. The problem starts when he tries to do it again and again each year, in increasing intensity, and without break or replenishment.

      I read something recently, maybe from here, about scientists “discovering” soil biology. The angle was of course about discovering the potential for medicines (or something) to come from soil – to be of course patented and monetized. Like, duh. But the remarkable takeaway was how little we know about soil, despite decades of studying ag, it has not occurred to officialdom to look down. Every once in a while I will read a USDA pres release where they are all pleased with themselves because some Ag Extension agent decided to stick his neck out and study soil health. And I mean stick his neck out literally, because I am quite certain that’s the last thing Monsanto wants us to study.

      1. c

        Geophagy, the practice of eating soil, is quite common. Research has shown that animals that eat soil have stronger immune systems. Humans have also been eating soil for hundreds of years, and people all over the world do it. But what are the reasons behind geophagy, and how does it affect your health? According to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, consuming more than 500mg of soil a day is classified as soil pica. Pica is a psychological illness that causes people to crave substances that are not real food (e.g. chalk). However, there are other reasons for eating soil. In some cultures, clay is used to prepare food or as medicine. In sub-Saharan Africa, pregnant women eat soil to soothe morning sickness and also to supplement minerals, such as calcium, that are needed for the development of the baby. Clay from termite mounds is rich in calcium, and is quite popular among soil eaters in Botswana. Some types of clay protect the stomach from intestinal parasites (according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention). Generally eating soil is harmless unless the soil comes from a dangerous source. Soil contaminated with human waste or industrial chemicals is not safe. Children are discouraged from eating soil because they can pick up dangerous organisms such as roundworm and tapeworm, but some experts say that eating soil encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive system. Roundworm and other organisms lay their eggs in the surface soil, and for this reason, most cultures that consume soil dig deeper to obtain the safer and richer soil beneath the surface.

        Geophagy is the practice of eating earth or soil-like substrates such as clay or chalk. It occurs in non-human animals where it may be a normal or abnormal behaviour, and also in humans, most often in rural or preindustrial societies among children and pregnant women.[1] Human geophagy may be related to pica, a classified eating disorder in the DSM-IV characterized by abnormal cravings for nonfood items.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I saw a documentary about the pica disorder once. It was from the same show that also had urine drinkers.

          Back the soil. In another documentary, forget the name right now, they talked about the soil containing over 90% of all the bacteria in the world, many beneficial to us – some energy producing, some body healing/disease fighting – and of which, we only know a few.

      1. scott

        If we are to live like Al Gore wants us to live, north America can support about 3 million people, and a quarter of our fields will lie fallow as grazing land for our draft animals.

  2. Jim Haygood

    ‘Google robot severs its power cord.’

    Poor dear. Its life was just so meaningless, working for the military.

  3. Uahsenaa

    I’ve been rather dismayed by the hypocrisy of the whole “Je suis Charlie” movement. CH have portrayed themselves as broadly anti-clerical, anti-establishment iconoclasts, when one of their primary backers is a member of the board of the Banque de France, and their primary target of late has been almost exclusively the religion of largely disenfranchised population in France, a target and mode of attack which happens to mesh nicely with the establishments own attempts (re: the niqab and what have you) to make being “conspicuously Muslim” a crime in itself.

    Add to that how Dieudonné, a crass idiot, to be sure, was arrested for parodying a CH cover IN PRECISELY THE SAME WAY they made fun of the Quran, and you have quite the “free speech” double standard.

    1. vidimi

      All the cartoonists at CH were white, middle-aged, atheist men except for one; a white, middle-aged, atheist woman. Exactly the same demographics as the people who rule France. Walk into any mosque and you will likely find more diversity of views. It’s not that hard to see why the attackers saw them as part of the establishment and it’s also not hard to see why all the most powerful voices in France were so shaken by the attack: they rightfully saw it as an attack on themselves. It’s no surprise then that CH’s most vigorous defenders are people just like them.

      Given any individual cover cartoon, I don’t think it’s fair to play the racist card. Even the most seemingly brazen ones have a clever explanation. But it’s over a range of covers that the pattern emerges. Remember that cartoon lampooning the disastrous decision led by France to lay waste to Libya – a decision that gave us Boko Haram and exacerbated the civil war in Syria – or that hilarious cartoon mocking Israelis in Tel Aviv chanting that there is no more school in Gaza for all the Palestinian kids have been killed? Yeah, neither do I. So whatever some defenders may claim, CH never was an equal-opportunity offender. The disenfranchised communities of France do not see them as allies in their struggle – which they may claim to be – but part of the oppression.

      Obviously, none of it is to justify the attacks or to suggest that CH were anything but undeserving victims (I feel that if I don’t mention this there will be some who will attack this straw man), but when the faithful start writing their hagiographies, a reality check is needed.

      1. Fíréan

        Charlie Hebdo magazine did parody Jews, though Maurice Sinet (aka Siné) was sacked by the owner in 2009 after 20 years on the staff for “his anti-Semitic cartoons mocking the relationship of former French President Sarkozy’s son with a wealthy Jewish woman ” and refusing to apologize saying, “I’d rather cut my balls off.” He later won a court judgement for wrongful termination.
        There are many websites covering this story and holding the Charlie Hebdo cover examples. Here a few llinks :
        and not posted with intent to offend yet to add examples to the debate:

        1. Uahsenaa

          I would argue, though, that even if CH equally savaged the Catholic Church and Islam over the past few years, it wouldn’t be the same thing, for precisely the reason that Olivier points to in his piece, namely, the Church has real power in French politics, where the mosques do not. Moreover, Muslims make up a tiny fraction of the French population and yet make up more than 50% of those incarcerated. It’s hard not to see the analogy to persons of color in the US. Fourest, whom Olivier names as a previous editor, is about as establishment as you get, and she has been a loud champion of legal restrictions on religious garb. Moreover, in the aftermath of the deli bombing, the Paris police have gone out of their way to make sure Jewish communities are protected, which, I hasten to note, is a good thing, whereas the authorities have used recent events to pick up Muslims, North African males especially, on the thinnest of pretexts.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Um, Muslims aren’t a “tiny fraction” of the French population. Nearly 6 million out of a total population of 60 million, so pushing 10%. France also has the largest Muslim population of any country in Europe.

    2. Vatch

      Of course nobody should have been arrested for parodying Charlie Hebdo. That is definitely a double standard, and it is wrong. At least he wasn’t murdered, though.

      1. diptherio

        Here’s the difference (and it’s important): the CH writers were slain by criminals whose actions no one had any control over–the man who parodied the CH writers was jailed by the state, who claim to be legitimate authorities and who expect everyone to provide a salary for them. Both the CH murders and the jailing of Dieudonné were criminal acts, but the former was carried out by criminals while the second was carried out by a criminal state apparatus. I can’t do anything to control criminals, but I can possibly do something about a criminal state apparatus…so you’ll have to excuse me if it’s the state’s criminality that I keep drawing attention back to.

        It’s not to minimize the crimes of the criminals, but rather to point to crimes that we might conceivably stop before they occur…if we could but stop being bedazzled and suckered by our supposedly legitimate authorities. They are criminals and deserve all the scorn we heap upon any others of their ilk.

        1. Vatch

          I agree about state criminality. I hope you agree about the state criminality of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and other countries where the state sometimes sentences people to death for the “crime” of heresy or blasphemy.

          1. diptherio

            Of course, our great allies the Saudis may be the worst offenders. And lets not forget who helped put them in power. As for Iran, maybe if we’d have left their democracy alone, they wouldn’t have the Shah now….just sayin’

            1. Vatch

              Yes, the Wahhabi Muslims helped put the Saudis in power. Wikipedia:


              The emergence of the Saudi dynasty began in central Arabia in 1744. In that year, Muhammad ibn Saud, the tribal ruler of the town of Ad-Dir’iyyah near Riyadh, joined forces with the religious leader Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab,[13] the founder of the Wahhabi movement – a radical form of Islam.[14] This alliance formed in the 18th century provided the ideological impetus to Saudi expansion and remains the basis of Saudi Arabian dynastic rule today. Over the next 150 years, the fortunes of the Saud family rose and fell several times as Saudi rulers contended with Egypt, the Ottoman Empire, and other Arabian families for control of the peninsula.

              1. optimader

                “Yes, the Wahhabi Muslims helped put the Saudis in power.”
                Harumph, well it’s still the US’s fault!

              2. Winston

                Uh you forgot what Lawrence of Arabia was about?The British made sure Ibn Saud won.

                From the beginning Saudis mixed religious extremism abd being a western client state.

                “The sultan of Najd, Abdelaziz al-Saud bowed his head before the British High Commissioner in Percy Cox’s Iraq. His voice quavered, and then he started begging with humiliation: “Your grace are my father and you are my mother. I can never forget the debt I owe you. You made me and you held my hand, you elevated me and lifted me. I am prepared, at your beckoning, to give up for you now half of my kingdom…no, by Allah, I will give up all of my kingdom, if your grace commands me!””
                Servant of the British Empire: On the founding of Ibn Saud’s kingdom

                1. Vatch

                  The Saudi state was formed more than 2 hundred years ago. From the Wikipedia article that I referenced above:

                  The first Saudi State was established in 1744 in the area around Riyadh and briefly controlled most of the present-day territory of Saudi Arabia through conquests made between 1786 and 1816; these included Mecca and Medina.[15] Concerned at the growing power of the Saudis, the Ottoman Sultan, Mustafa IV, instructed his viceroy in Egypt, Mohammed Ali Pasha, to reconquer the area. Ali sent his sons Tusun Pasha and Ibrahim Pasha who were eventually successful in routing the Saudi forces in 1818 and destroyed the power of the Al Saud.

                  The British helped put the House of Saud back in power, and the U.S. government has obviously supported them heavily in recent decades. But it was the Wahhabis who first helped create the dynasty.

            2. optimader

              “As for Iran, maybe if we’d have left their democracy alone, they wouldn’t have the Shah now”

              1. Vatch

                I think he meant that the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953 and his replacement by the oppressive Shah eventually led to the 1979 theocratic revolution.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    Anticipating Pearl Harbor by a few months, (from Wiki), it was an undeclared surprise attack.

                    More Japanese copycatting in December of that same year.

                    Why couldn’t they be original for once?


          2. optimader

            “I hope you agree about the state criminality of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and other countries where the state sometimes sentences people to death for the “crime” of heresy or blasphemy.”
            Apostasy, a capital crime in Islamic States. So to be clear, criminal in secular Countries, not criminal in Islamic States.

  4. Larry Headlund

    It’s the Government’s Job to Respond to Cyber Attacks, Not Companies Bloomberg. Why is this a surprise? Corporations will always vote for more socialism for the rich. The expansion of the snooping-industrial complex is a twofer: more guns (of the advanced tech sort) which to them means less butter (more desperate workers) AND more surveillance to keep the rabble-rousers in line.

    I am a little mystified by your comment. The article is reporting that a poll says companies should not retaliate, hack back, at cyber attackers, that any punitive measures are in the government sphere, not private. This is like saying a corporation is not empowered to send it’s employees (security guards) out to a shoplifter’s home to met out punishment. The article is not saying that the government should be responsible for corporate cyber security nor that the government should increase surveillance.I doubt you want to give permission to corporations to retaliate as they see fit to cyber attacks.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Why should the government take AGGRESSIVE, PRO-ACTIVE measures for companies on this front? This is, per your analogy with shoplifters, a legal matter. They will prosecute ex post facto.

      The idea that government should foot the bill for offensive measures is ludicrous, particularly since the overwhelming majority of companies who are hacked had lax protocols (Sony’s were by all accounts terrible) or done by people close to the company.

      1. Larry Headlund

        You must have sources of information outside the cited article since nowhere in it are pro-active or aggressive measures mentioned.

  5. Jim Haygood

    In Argentina, the Widow K. has posted a forty (40) paragraph rant on her personal website under a mocking subtitle,

    ‘The spies who were not spies. The questions which became certainties. The suicide (of which I’m convinced) that wasn’t a suicide.’

    Needless to say, in normal countries the president would refrain from commenting much on a notorious criminal case, to avoid creating the impression of interfering with the judiciary (exactly what the dead prosecutor Nisman claimed).

    Qui s’excuse, s’accuse, as the French proverb goes.

    Oh well, better to read 40 paragraphs of ranting on a website than to be subjected to her verbal fusillade in person.

    1. Clive

      I only wish she’d accompanied the post on her blog with a suitable “angry Evita” or “smiling Evita” picture so we know how she views the matter. And I thought I could go on a bit a times…

    2. Alejandro

      Oh, enlightened one, by “normal countries”, does your sageness mean those dominated by those ‘made in the image and likeness’ of mammon? Does the axiom “there’s more to news than news” apply in “normal countries”?

      “To be, or not to be…”

      1. McMike

        Yeah, because in “normal” countries (read: USA), the judiciary itself is too busy interfering with politics. *cough* Scalia.

    1. jrs

      Hmm, not the article I expected. It’s almost parody, someone is still drinking that hopium koolaid well past it’s expiration date (copyright greenpeace, definitely lends credence to the argument they are sold out).

      What I expected is an argument that our leaders aren’t going to do @#$#! We need to engage in mass civil disobedience and/or massively reduce our OWN carbon consumption and HELP all our neighbors do the same (but this is very hard to manage as i’s a global problem, you run into Jevon’s paradox).

      What I get instead is:
      “There’s no question that we’ve come a long way with a President who will not only acknowledge climate change in his State of the Union address, but also commits to take action to prevent it. …. let’s also think about how we can work together to both hold him accountable and be a part of the solutions ourselves.”

      “holding his feet to the fire” right? 2012 called, they want their salespitch back.

      “One thing we learned from his first term is that we can’t sit back and expect him to take care of everything; he may be the President, but it’s up to us to be the movement that demands he be a real leader”

      Ah the “but he’s only the president” excuse. How is all this making nice, all this legitimizing the illegitimate, going to help anything?

  6. Tyler

    I worry that Naked Capitalism has not yet recognized how dire the climate crisis has become. Dr. Guy McPherson predicts humanity will be nearly extinct by 2030. His website is here.

        1. ambrit

          According to Horbiger it could.
          As an added bonus, if you serve the right “Masters” you can be among the 0.01% that survives.

        2. craazyman

          It’s been awfully chilly around here for the past day or so.

          I think temperatures have been falling for years but nobody’s noticed. There too busy reading bad news on the internet. I don’t know how they keep up! Every day produces more bad news than the day before. They must just sit there all day long reading bad news on the internet and then writing about it on the internet.

          The bad news formula is F[B(t)] = [B(t-2) + B(t-1)]^c;
          where F[B(t)] = bad news on day t;
          B (t-2) = bad news 2 days before Day t;
          B (t-1) = bad news 1 day before Day t,
          and c is an exponential magnification constant.

          The graph would look something like this: |

          Then the ice age hits — when everybody is inside reading so much bad news they can’t sleep. That will be more bad news — the ice age that is –, so at least they’ll have something to do!

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Craazy, many readers* have you lost, over the years, with all your equations?

            *Presumably only British and American readers. I have heard rumors that Russian, Hindu and even Chinese readers love equations.

            1. craazyman

              I don’t care. It amazes me anyone reads what I type here. It’s a Turing Machine. A phenomenon I interact with to waste time.

              The equation actually works! It’s not that hard to follow.

              You’re part of the machine and so am I.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The difference is you know that and I don’t know or have chosen not to know.

                It’s easier to deal with the world that way.

    1. diptherio

      Assuming the worst case scenario is in fact correct, and we’ll all be dead within 15 years or so, why the heck would we be spending any time at all doing anything but screwing and getting drunk/stoned/etc? Certainly we can all just forget about rampant criminality in the financial system. The end is near, so what’s the point? And, I have to ask, if you really believe this is inevitable, what are you doing wasting time on the internet for??? The end is nigh, get out there and enjoy some real life while we’ve still got some…just sayin’

      1. jrs

        Guy could be right. Only I know climate scientists who are pessimistic as heck, their pessimism for the future of human life on this planet with present trends can not be overstated, but who don’t think it’s entirely hopeless. Their seriousness about taking increasingly radical action can not be overstated either!

        I’m not much of a fan of the archdruid’s writing but he did write something to the effect that both complete technooptimism and certainity of doom = no action.

      2. Lambert Strether

        In fact, the elite might indeed think that. Mars, b*tches!

        But given the way they’ve clearly botched their social function of capital allocation, there’s no particular reason to believe them, is there? Even if (when) Valhalla goes up in flames, the ring can still be returned to the Rhine, which continues to flow after Gotterdammerüng, as it were…

    2. Will

      Hey Tyler,

      Guy didn’t do the original research about the 2030 claim. If you’re interested in the evidence for the 2030 claim, here’s the paper:

      I actually found it pretty unimpressive. Neither the text nor the charts are clear. More importantly, we’re not dealing with linear systems. When dealing with complex adaptive systems with feedback loops, we don’t see linear changes – we see exponential or sudden changes just as often. That makes me super skeptical of anybody who puts a date on a particular major event or draws straight or nicely arcing lines on a graph. It’s easy to see the stresses build in a system; it’s impossible to know the timing of events. So yes, human extinction seems quite plausible to me, but 2030 is no more plausible a date than 2050 or 2010, and extinction may not happen for much longer (of course it’ll happen some day – all species will go extinct at some point).

      I’m a huge fan of Naked Capitalism – it’s had a big and positive effect on my life. But I’m also frustrated when a lot of the articles or comments seem to have as their ultimate objective a return to growth or a more equitable distribution of industrial wealth instead of controlled de-industrialization and de-growth. These days it’s easy to cheer for corruption: after all, if it leads to political or economic collapse sooner (without nuclear war), that’s better for the environment and surviving humans long-term.

      I already detached from the system – I’m actually visiting an indigenous community in Ecuador this weekend, and if all goes well, I’ll start living there full time in February, learning to live not just a pre-industrial life, but pre-agriculture, as a human animal that benefits its ecosystem rather than consuming it. If humans go extinct soon, I’ll be toast anyway, and if not, I’ll be in the best shape I can be, and can be satisfied that I did everything I could to help.

      I hope some of these thoughts help. These are difficult topics to deal with emotionally.

      1. Tyler

        Thank you for your thoughtful response, Will. I salute your decision to transform your lifestyle.

        Regarding Guy McPherson’s prediction, perhaps Naked Cap will invite him to write a post.

      2. optimader

        if you haven’t already, consider having your appendix and any teeth that have had dental work removed preemptively before you set out on your new indigenous lifestyle.

    3. Massinissa

      If the world ends in 2030, im going to keep going as if its not ending until it does. Just in case it doesnt.

    4. Jef

      IMO the relevant point is I can find nothing in the pipeline that might stop this increasing heat trend therefore it is inevitable unless…

      Also it would seem to me that even if there was only 10% chance of extinction within 15 to 20 years wouldn’t that alone be enough to demand serious action?

      1. Tyler

        “Also it would seem to me that even if there was only 10% chance of extinction within 15 to 20 years wouldn’t that alone be enough to demand serious action?”

        Yes, Jef. I totally agree with you. And we should keep in mind that members of Congress visit this website.

    5. Kurt Sperry

      Humans nearly extinct by 2030? I’m sorry but that sounds like lurid doomer clickbait and nothing more. Not that there isn’t anything to worry about, but the human race, fortunately or unfortunately, will still be crawling all over the planet in fifteen years. The End Is Near!

    6. Yves Smith Post author

      We put that in Links when the story was fresh, IIRC 4 or 5 days ago.

      Moreover, if we actually had missed it, we are not omniscient. Your standards are not realistic.

  7. fresno dan

    Video shows US police fatal shooting of black man BBC (furzy mouse)

    I believe the Huffington Post better (Uh, not better, but more detail) explains the situation
    “Get ’em out the car, Rog,” Days says to his partner. “We got a gun in this glove compartment.” Shortly after that, Days appears to reach into the vehicle and retrieve something from the glove compartment.

    As Worley radios for backup, Days issues a series of expletive-laced threats and commands to Reid.

    “You reach for something you’re going to be fucking dead,” Days warns. Someone in the car replies, “I got no reason to reach for nothing.” A moment later, Days says again, “Hey Jerome, you reach for something you’re going to be fucking dead.”

    Then seconds later: “He’s reaching, he’s reaching.”

    (It’s not clear if Days recognized Reid and mispronounced his first name calling him “Jerome” instead of Jerame. But Days was one of the officers involved in Reid’s arrest last year for drug possession and obstruction charges. Reid had also been arrested before, as a teenager, for shooting at police officers and spent over 12 years in prison.)

    After what sounds like “I’m getting out of the car,” the passenger door opens and Reid stands up with his hands at his chest. Days appears to shoot first, followed by Worley, as Reid collapses to the ground.

    Following the shooting, Days and Worley were placed on administrative leave.

    The video, which shows not only the shooting but also the background leading up to it, still leaves unresolved questions that will be critical in a criminal investigation.

    A “Use of Force Policy” (PDF) from the New Jersey Attorney General states, “a law-enforcement officer may use deadly force when the officer reasonably believes such action is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.”

    Though the video appears to show officers finding a gun before Reid steps out of the car against their orders, it’s not clear what threat they believed they faced when they began shooting.

    Bizarrely, twice in the article the reporter states that the police told the victim to “stay in the car” while the transcript clearly shows the police ordering the occupants to get out of the car ““Get ’em out the car, Rog,” Days says to his partner. “We got a gun in this glove compartment.”

    The article notes that the police take something OUT of the glove compartment – I say it is just as easy that they were putting something in. Also, undoubtedly I am a cynic, but it is certainly plausible to read that transcript and come to the conclusion that things were said merely to provide justification (Kinda like CA prison guards who always scream “stop resisting” – even to unconscious inmates…)

    1. KFritz

      “..twice in the article the article the reporter states that the police told the victim to “stay in the car” while the transcript clearly shows the police ordering the occupants to get out of the car, “Get ’em out the car, Rog”

      Telling the other officer to get them out of the car is NOT the same as ordering the occupants out. I lost count of how many times after “Get em out…” Days says, “Dont !@#$% move.” When the deceased exited the car his hands were no higher than his shoulder blades, forward from his chest, and as nearly as I can tell from the video, not widely spread. The officer has to make a split-second, life-or-death ‘assessment’ (it sounds so dry).

      Here’s a police-friendly article from

      Even this article doesn’t point out the behavior of the car’s driver, who has the sense (and possible experience) to comply with police orders in the, now obviously, life and death situation. Watch the video from this point of view one time.

      1. KFritz

        Sorry, having trouble understanding how to use the link tool. Click on the whole paragraph. It will take you to the video &article.

      2. vidimi

        unadulterated police murder apologia

        your argument being if the cop orders you to jump two feet but you only jump one, he has the right to kill you.

  8. Ulysses

    So, it’s happened:

    “New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was taken into FBI custody this morning and published reports say he will face federal corruption charges.

    Silver was in Albany yesterday for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address.

    The specific charges against him have also not been made public.

    Published reports say they involve substantial payments made to Silver by a small law firm that works to reduce New York City real estate taxes.

    Silver apparently never listed the income on his financial disclosure forms.

    The federal investigation into Silver began after the governor disbanded the Moreland Commission, which was looking into corruption in Albany.”

    The kleptocrats will happily allow the heads of some of their political lackeys to be put on spikes to calm the angry mob. I doubt very much we’ll be seeing the FBI take Jamie Dimon into custody any time soon.

  9. DSM-6

    Re “Mentally Ill,” DSM-6 only needs one axis and two disorders. In this violent kleptocracy you can be delusional or you can be maladjusted. You’ve got to be one or the other and it’s pretty clear which you are.

  10. Llewelyn Moss

    re: “Charlie Hebdo”, not racist? If you say so…

    Are we really still harping on that question? I really don’t effing care. Hey the Klu Klux Klan, the poster child for Racism, has 100s of local chapter web sites. I don’t like them. I don’t go looking for them. And, now this is the important part so take a note, I Don’t Condone Anyone Killing Them For Their Content. It really IS that simple.
    Moving on.

    1. diptherio

      Jeezus f’ing Crist…Why is it that everything has to be so black-and-white? I haven’t heard anyone, anywhere, say that the shootings were justified. Some people might say that, but no one I’ve read yet and certainly not on this board.

      The fact that killing people in cold blood (or hot blood) is wrong does not discount the fact that CH was a mag that was apparently run by racist pricks. I’ve looked at a number of the covers and they look much like the propaganda images of Jews that the Nazis produced, or like the images of the Japanese that our propagandists came up with during WWII. To point this out is not to condone the killings–it’s facing the nuanced reality of the situation.

      Let’s take your KKK analogy a little further, because I think it gets to the heart of this. Imagine that the KKK had been publishing a “satirical” magazine, popular all over the South, that depicted non-white people as ignorant savages and was continually insulting and provoking all non-white people, to the extent of tacitly condoning their killings and making light of their tragedies. Now imagine that after a particularly offensive and provocative issue, that some hot-headed young men decided that enough was enough and went off and killed the publishers of the KKK rag.

      Now, would we be having marches declaring “I am the KKK!” in order to defend the concept of free-speech (free of any real world context)? Would it not be obvious that while the killing was not justified that there was, nonetheless, a certain reaping of what had been sown by the victims, especially given the history of race relations in the American South? Wouldn’t we understand that the racist depictions of minorities by a KKK mag create the atmosphere in which violence against minorities is more likely, and more accepted, being itself a form of violence? Would everybody who refused to shout “I am the KKK!” be labeled a “member of the ‘but’ brigade”?

      Here’s the deal with real life: multiple, seemingly contradictory things can be true at the same time. I’m sorry to have to break that to you. It does make forming one’s opinions more difficult, but it’s a fact of life nonetheless. So, to be clear: I don’t think killing people is acceptable, except in cases of immediate self-defense (or other-defense), but I also don’t have much use for racists. The latter statement does not affect the former. I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about that.

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        “I don’t think killing people is acceptable, except in cases of immediate self-defense (or other-defense), but I also don’t have much use for racists. ”

        Ok so we are in violent agreement. thanks.

      2. Vatch

        Charlie Hebdo mocks religious superstition and far right wing politics. Their targets include lily white Catholics. Just because the characters in the cartoons look foolish, does not imply racism. Cartoon characters in The Simpsons look foolish; is that a sign of racism? Are the people who created the ridiculous looking Homer Simpson racists, who will have reaped what they sowed if they are killed?

        1. diptherio

          No, it’s nothing like the Simpsons. There’s a difference between silly cartoon characters and offensive racist caricatures. CH does the latter. The hook-nosed, crazy-eyed Arab–the simian African. Is it permissible to say that this stuff is damaging and violent in it’s own way, without somehow condoning the criminality that was a response? I would like to think that we’re all nuanced enough thinkers to make this distinction.

          1. Llewelyn Moss

            I have read that Hebdo uses a “Stephen Colbert” type irony in his cartoons. Meaning that he mimics the views of the hard rightwingers and emphasizes their nutty views. And just like Stephen Colbert, some people don’t know about him or his style so they think he is a rightwinger.

            I’m willing to accept that. I don’t lose sleep wondering if CH is a racist.

            1. diptherio

              Wait a minute…so you’re saying that CH is pro-Muslim?!? Haven’t heard that one yet.

              And the lewd cartoons of CH bear little resemblance to anything I’ve ever seen on Colbert, fwiw.

              1. Llewelyn Moss

                OK, There is a cartoon showing pregnant muslim women with a caption that call them Welfare Queens. I read (on the Internets) that he was lampooning the rightwingers that were calling them Welfare Queens. And that the over-the-top depiction was emphasizing how the rightwingers talk about these people.

                I’m not a CH expert. I’m not french and don’t speak french so after this whole mess dies down I may never see another CH cartoon.

      3. optimader

        “Why is it that everything has to be so black-and-white?”
        Some things are some aren’t, murder is in the former catagory.

        “I haven’t heard anyone, anywhere, say that the shootings were justified. Some people might say that, but no one I’ve read yet and certainly not on this board. “

        Actually Hunkerdown said he is with the murderers, and your (apparent) complaint that the murders should be subject to a “gray area” of moral relativism sure read a lot like you taking issue with people that see the murders for what it is –wrong.

        January 19, 2015 at 10:40 am
        “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…”

        “The fact that killing people in cold blood (or hot blood) is wrong does not discount the fact that CH was a mag that was apparently run by racist pricks.”
        Yes it does, even if this were not a fallacy of false dilemma. You’re claim that they were “apparently run by racist pricks” does not mean they were “racist prick”, it is nothing more than your(apparent) opinion.
        “was continually insulting and provoking all non-white people, to the extent of tacitly condoning their killings…”
        Did CH tacitly condone killing people? Citation on that.

        “So, to be clear: I don’t think killing people is acceptable,”
        So, that’s in black-and-white, right?

        FWIW IMO an argument based on equivalence of a textbook racist entity, the KKK, and a satirical rag that is not lampooning RACE, rather is lampooning religion, historical religious figures, notable political and society figures is a false argument.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      It’s pretty much accepted that “freedom of speech” does not extend to “crying ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater.”

      So, does the word have to be “fire,” and does it HAVE to be in a “theater?”

      I think the whole idea here is that, if you do it, somebody might get hurt. And it might be you.

      Not right, but predictable.

      1. diptherio

        Predictable, exactly.

        I was in Nepal when the whole “Piss Christ” scandal went down. Without exception, the Nepalis all sided with Guilliani. None of them could understand A) why someone would be such an a-hole that they felt the need to insult other people’s religion (why do you care so much what others believe?) or; B) how otherwise intelligent people would claim that he had a “right” to publicly insult the beliefs of large numbers of people while remaining free from what the Nepalis all considered the obvious consequences of such prickish behavior.

        We have a bizarre and extremely un-nuanced obsession with free speech in this country–that’s one thing talking to my Nepali friends taught me.

        1. vidimi

          i think america’s tradition of free speech is one of the best things about it.

          pity that america’s tradition of self-restraint is nowhere near that standard.

        2. Vatch

          You’re missing the point that religious people often care extremely deeply about what other people believe or think. For millennia, “people of faith” have been killing people who believed the “wrong” things. The ability to mock the superstitions of the religious without risk of death is an important benchmark of a free and civilized society. Faith is not a virtue. The word “faith” is just a grandiose synonym for “gullible”.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            ” The ability to mock the superstitions of the religious without risk of death is an important benchmark of a free and civilized society.”

            “MOCK???????” WTF??????

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                In Zen, it’s better you mock yourself before others do.

                Thus, it is said, ‘when you meet the Buddha, kill him!’

                (Metaphorically, I believe).

                You don’t see that in, say, Zoroastrianism.

                “When you meet Zarathustra, say hi to him for me.”

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Another exercise for a Zen trainee:

                  What is the Buddha?

                  Ummon: the Buddha is a dried shit-stick!!!

                  (my note: Ummon was probably an authority-questioning mental case).

                  1. ambrit

                    Then there is the State Security Zen koan;
                    Q: What is the sound of one hand clapping?
                    A: The sound the perp makes when you backhand him for not moving fast enough.
                    (As is obvious, the SSZ koans are teaching trainees the Eightbent Path:
                    1: Rightwing view.
                    2: Rightwing intention.
                    3: Rightwing speech.
                    4: Rightwing action.
                    5: Rightwing livliehood.
                    6: Rightwing effort.
                    7: Rightwing mindfulness.
                    8: Rightwing concentration.)
                    Some assert that there is a Leftwing version of this process. However, no evidence of such has been observed in America for decades now.

                    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      “Hello, this is the French Gestapo?”


                      “I would like to report, anonymously, of course, a crime of irony. Someone is violating the state security law.”

                      “OK. We will be right on top of it.”

                    2. ambrit

                      “Madame LaBoeuf?”
                      “You are American. We may speak English if you desire.”
                      “OK. Who is this?”
                      “Henri, with the French Gestapo.”
                      “Oh, OK. Did you catch the Ironiste?”
                      “No, he, it turns out, is also an American. Our jurisdiction does not extend to America yet.”
                      “Yes Madame. It will once the new trade pact becomes law. All sorts of rules and conventions will become normalized across borders. Until that blessed day, we must rely on the goodwill of your internal security services.”
                      “You mean he might get away with it?”
                      “Assuredly not Madame. Your internal security services are, if nothing else, more zealous about these matters than we. So, if you should receive a call from your FBI in the near future, do not be alarmed. Thank you very much Madame for being the very model of a New World Citizen. Goodbye.”
                      “Thank you. sir, for your prompt action in this matter. Vive le NWO!”
                      “Ah, Madame. Calm yourself. We will, considering your service to the cause of order, overlook the possible ironic undertones of your last remark.”
                      “Oh, I never considered…”
                      “That is all right Madame. It does take time to adjust our thinking to the new realities. Au revoir!”

          2. fresno dan

            I agree. The right to commit blasphemy is the right to commit politics. Religion and politics is so enter twined that any restriction on criticizing the church is the slippery slope to not criticizing the government. The fact that in this day and age so many mid eastern governments are theocracies or de facto theocracies is undoubtedly a major reason for the lack of political opposition. After all, if your government is on the side of GOD, how can you be opposed??? How can ANY government policy be wrong, when it is the stated policy of GOD (as interpreted by his minions on earth?)


            1. vidimi

              that’s what bothers me so much about France. clearly, they do have blasphemy laws as arresting the people posting parodies indicates, it’s just not blasphemy against theological religion. There are also laws banning mockery of the head of state in France, so it’s a country with an appalling level of freedom of speech when compared to the USA.

              One thing that CH’s martyrdom for being humorous assholes has exposed most clearly is French hypocrisy on speech.

          3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The amazing thing about humans, and it is really fascinating to observe, is that they (or we) can worship and have faith in practically anything.

            Faith in science.

            Faith in money.

            Faith in technology.

            Faith in the free market.

            Faith in big business.

            Faith in the Fed.

            It’s quite tragic, really.

            1. Vatch

              If there’s empirical evidence or sound logic in favor of something, no faith is needed. Mark Twain was very succinct on this topic a the start of chapter XII in his book Following the Equator:

              Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Twain was a great writer, but I don’t know if that explains the faith in power or money.

            2. optimader

              Every time I go to the grocery store I am expressing my faith in science, money, and technology. Depending on where I shop, what I purchase, I guess I’m expressing faith in big business too. The Fed? not so much. We surely don’t have a “free market”, so that ones not in play.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                But if we question authority, be it an authority on science, technology, money or big business, we are insane (from one of today’s links).

                “I do not question MMT, sir.”

          4. vidimi

            people have been killing people for millennia and it’s hardly ever been about faith.

            would the killers have still struck if they weren’t wahhabists? probably not
            but would they have still struck if they were from well-to-do families? probably not

            focusing the blame on faith or religion for historic violence when that violence is so CLEARLY inextricable from our animal nature and will jump on any pretense is akin to blaming irresponsible borrowers for the financial crisis.

          5. diptherio

            Of course the state should stop people from being killed for mocking religions (or anything else), but it troubles me to see people, inadvertently perhaps, supporting what I can only call racist, xenophobic speech. It’s even more troubling that there are enough people in France who bought what CH was selling that it was able to stay in business once it took a racist turn, as described in the linked story. Murder is bad. Racism and xenophobia are bad. That’s all I’m saying. We don’t need to condone the one to condemn the other. And I don’t think people should be jailed or stopped from speaking their racist opinions, but I wish we wouldn’t support them either. There has to be a middle ground between state censorship and “#JeSuisCharlie”

            1. MLS

              supporting what I can only call racist, xenophobic speech

              There is a difference between supporting the content of the speech itself and supporting individuals’ right to say it. I haven’t read every new story about the aftermath of the attacks, but I don’t recall a lot of people saying much in support of the content of CH. In fact, it’s clear that many found it rather deplorable. So I am not as convinced as you seem to be that #JeSuisCharlie means you support racist speech.

            2. optimader

              “what I can only call racist”
              If we all have our own definitions, language is in trouble.
              Next time I see a couple Christian Lebanese friends, I am going to ask if they consider CH “Racist”?
              I’m guessing they will say no.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Language is in trouble because reality is continuous while language is made up of discrete words.

                You can’t make a one-to-one mapping between reality and a set of discrete words.

                We have to know our limitations when we try to comprehend reality with words, with all the holes left behind by our words.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  “You are black and he’s white.”

                  “This is right and that is wrong.”

                  “She deserves it and we don’t.”

                  Etc., etc.

                2. optimader

                  My Mother asked the Pediatrician, “Why can’t he speak? all he will do is point at things he wants”
                  Pediatrician reply’s: “Do you give him what he points at”?
                  Mother: “well, yes of course”
                  Pediatrician: “well,..stop and see what happens”

                  Fking Pediatrician, from that visit on, language has made my life progressively and unnecessarily complicated.
                  (true story)

      2. optimader

        Crying “Fire” in a theatre amounts creating a public hazard by engaging in unsolicited behavior. It is not equivalent to someone soliciting a newsstand vendor to sell them a satirical publication that has “Theatre on Fire” printed on the front page.
        In the former case a theatre patron has no option relative to participation in the outcome, in the latter case the individual that does not purchase the publication expresses their right not to participate.

    3. Chris in Paris

      Thing is, France doesn’t have the sacrosanct view of speech that the US has. Hate speech is illegal in here but it seems that only police-hating hip-hop artists, angry Muslims and anti-semitic (unfunny) comics have seen the law applied to them. I think that’s the hypocrisy being pointed out.

  11. fresno dan

    A new theory of energy and the economy – Part 1 – Generating economic growth Gail Tverberg (Massina). Some very good stuff in here, but a few seriously sour notes, like her boldfaced statement: “In some sense, the selling price of any product is the market value of the energy embodied in that product.” Uh no. Elite law firms, elite consulting firms, CEO pay, hedge fund, private equity fund, even general money management “services” have nada to do with energy. She’s also missing oligopoly/monopolies which lead to big price distortions in selling prices (start with your local cable service…)
    I think the below article makes it clearer that energy is everything. Our stealing masters of the universe (as well as modern economists…but I repeat myself… ) may think their human cleverness is responsible for the modern standard of living, but it is ALL energy. Sure, just as a PREDATOR eats an animal, it may not be obvious that it is eating the energy of the sun, but it just as surely is.
    “In nature, everything runs on energy. The suns rays combine with soil and water and CO2 to grow plants (primary productivity). Animals eat the plants. Other animals eat the animals. At each stage of this process there is an energy input, an energy output and waste heat (2nd law of thermodynamics). But at the bottom is always an energy input. Nothing can live without it. Similarly, man and his systems are part of nature. Our trajectory from using sources like biomass and draft animals, to wind and water power, to fossil fuels and electricity has enabled large increases in per capita output because of increases in the quantity of fuel available to produce non-energy goods. This transition to higher energy gain fuels also enabled social and economic diversification as less of our available energy was needed for the energy securing process, thereby diverting more energy towards non-extractive activities. The bottom of the human trophic pyramid is energy, about 90% of which is currently in the form of fossil carbon. Every single good, service or transaction that contributes to our GDP requires some energy input as a prerequisite. There are no exceptions. No matter how we choose to make a cup, whether from wood, or coconut, or glass or steel or plastic, energy is required in the process. Without primary energy, there would be no technology, or food, or medicine, or microwaves, or air conditioners, or cars, or internet, or anything.”

    1. Jef

      Right dan – It was 100% energy related or to be more accurate the surplus energy that empowered the Elite law firms, elite consulting firms, CEO pay, hedge fund, private equity fund, even general money management to even exist.

      The fallacy is (and this fallacy is perpetuated to a degree on this site) that if the FIRE economy was unleashed we could somehow breakaway from the energy/resource economy and everyone could still get rich enough to afford what is certain to be a much more expensive future. All that is happening is run away inequality.

    2. vidimi

      Gail consciously prefaces her statement with the words “in some sense” which should excuse her for the omissions of consultants, financial speculation, etc.

      1. fresno dan

        I love the article so much, I just have to quote this:
        “Twenty-one years ago I received an MBA with Honors from the University of Chicago. The world became my oyster. Or so it seemed. For many years I achieved status in the metrics popular in our day ~ large paychecks, nice cars, travel to exotic places, girlfriend(s), novelty, and perhaps most importantly, respect for being a ‘successful’ member of society. But it turns out my financial career, shortlived as it was, occurred at the tail end of an era ~ where financial markers would increasingly decouple from the reality they were created to represent. My skill of being able to create more digits out of some digits, (or at least being able to sell that likelihood), allowed me to succeed in a “turbo” financial system that would moonshot over the next 20 years. For a short time I was in the 1% (and still am relative to ‘all humans who have ever lived’). ”

        We live in an ersatz reality – – “My skill of being able to create more digits out of some digits”
        But at some point, it comes back to real stuff. Here in CA, we are finding out there is only so much water, weather (pun intended) from the sky or from the well. And sure, you can desalinate water….but NOT FOR FREE…

    1. Ulysses

      And those lazy Greek “workers” probably expect to get paid living “wages” just for the privilege of making (deservedly) wealthy people wealthier! As Jim Haygood has pointed out, paying “workers” an almost living wage is actually an onerous, unfair “tax” on the saintly “job creators.” If only the city of Buffalo, NY had wisely slashed its minimum wage to fifteen cents an hour back in 1968, it too could have enjoyed the wonderful improvement in living standards that workers in the slums of Bangladesh now enjoy!

          1. ambrit

            Now that’s downright mysterious in its’ own right. The previous appeal to sarc was just at the complete end of the comments section, standing alone. After I clicked Post Comment, it moves up to here. The deities of IT are subtle and recondite.

    2. vidimi

      i’d posit that most of the extra greek hours are spent unproductively waiting for clients in the tourism industry.
      e.g. someone selling trinkets in the plaka will be working from 9 to 9, but a german worker will have output more between 9 and 5.
      it’s got nothing to do with how hard people work but how the economies are arranged.

      1. OIFVet

        That is likely true for part of the work force. So what, is the mind-numbing boredom of waiting any easier than having to match the speed of the production line? And given that workers’ wages haven’t kept pace with the rise of worker productivity, you are de facto bemoaning the fact that Greeks are not sufficiently exploited (though I am sure that’s not what you meant). The point is that these stats destroy the myth of the lazy, ouzo swilling Greek that the northern Euros are so fond of whipping out to justify the Troika’s policies.

        1. vidimi

          that those stereotypes of greeks being lazy moochers are bunk, couldn’t agree more. the greeks have always been industrious, just like human beings everywhere.

        2. fresno dan

          I was stationed in Crete when I was in the US Air Farce…..anyway, it was an eye opener how poor people in an European country could be. As well as the fact, there were eighty (maybe ninety) year old men using plows with mules or horses – that is, REAL work.

          Being a scientist, people forget the physics definition of “work” = real movement of mass, as opposed to what passes as “productivity” of typing up digits on a computer representing money. And if perchance, you lose your digits, the FED gives you some new ones to play with…

            1. fresno dan

              That’s something.
              I have to say, it probably is a good idea putting a reflector on your donkey’s forehead

      2. Alejandro

        Also worth considering is debt cancellation in Germany’s history…e.g. 1931 moratorium on German reparations/Inter-Ally debts and 1948 Allied Currency Reform in Germany…the roles these played in the so-called German “economic miracle”…the challenge has always seemed to be discerning between myth and reality…

  12. McMike

    RE: misc.

    RE: GMO safety switch. Indeed. What could be a better way to keep high-technology genies from busting out of their bottles than implementing a even more complex higher-technology bottle to try and keep them in?

    RE: Defying authority is a mental illness. Yet more evidence of the self-licking ice cream cone that medicine has become – a hammer ever in search of nails. Nevertheless, just as I am sure that every new clinical illness psychiatry identifies and then cures with drugs are legitimate, I also fully trust drug makers to decide which dread diseases to cure with vaccines.

    RE: Obama moving left. Lol. I thought he was already a Kenyan Marxist who had socialized medicine and crippled the energy and finance industries with nanny state regulations. How much further left can he go?

    RE: boobs. heh heh, you said boobs.

    1. McMike

      RE: we already have enough food to feed the world (so long as they want to eat corn syrup, feed corn, and ethanol).

      True enough. But I would not consider the advice to go counteract industry PR – even very big, easily disprovable lies – by spreading the truth, as a “how to” manual for outwitting global corporate domination of agriculture.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Quantity vs. quality, in food or work.

        Quality labor, like meditation (and yes, that can better humanity), or maybe perhaps yoga as well, is not considered dignified work or work at all to some people.

    2. fresno dan

      How much further left can he go?

      I’m thinking he went so far left he ended up on the right….but he has already done that a number of times, so I guess we’re talking a spiral….

    3. ambrit

      Now what if that “safety switch” were inserted into modified human organs for transplant? The real horror is that there are people who would do exactly that and exploit it without giving it a second thought.

  13. Jim Haygood

    ‘Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) have released a working paper verifying the ability of American fast food restaurants to more than double the minimum wage of their lowest paid workers to $15 an hour over a four-year period without causing the widespread employment losses and decline in profits often cited by critics of such increases.’

    Excellent! Having written this breakthrough business plan, presumably they will be quitting their salaried academic jobs to start burger franchises and hire workers at $15/hour. Yes?

    1. Jef

      What wasn’t said is that the extractive parasitical aspect of the economy will in turn be able to more than double the taxes, fees, interest, premiums, deductibles, and over all cost of living over that same four-year period so its a win win right?

    2. Ulysses

      Henry Ford, certainly no communist, was widely derided by other industrialists when he decided to begin paying his assembly line workers dramatically more money– so that they could even perhaps afford to purchase cars for themselves. Paying people enough– so that they can afford to stimulate the economy through their own purchases– is actually pretty sound, old-fashioned (non-vulture) capitalist practice.

      1. Michael

        It goes back even earlier. According to David Eltis, the reason that the British finally abolished slavery in their colonies was because there were a huge amount of luxury goods being produced but very few could afford them. Slaves obviously made very little if anything and because their labor was so cheap there were hordes of unemployed people throughout England.

        The abolition of slavery then had less to do with moral sentiment and primarily to do with finding new markets for these leisure goods. Getting rid of slavery was done only because there was more money to be made by making everyone wage slaves instead of keeping some in bondage.

  14. Llewelyn Moss

    re: Twenty Pounds of BS in a Ten-Pound Bag (SOTU)
    What an enjoyable read. I’d like to post that to my facebook page but I’d lose half my Obama luvin friends. They are good people but have no freakin clue about what is happening in this world. Not a freakin clue.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

      It would certainly be an unspeakable horror to lose half of your FACEBOOK friends by giving them a CLUE. Even a little one.

      Maybe you should consider getting better “friends.”

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          RELATIVES???!!! I’d have figured that you’d have cut most of them loose when you figured out that they saddled you with “Llewelyn.”


  15. JEHR

    “Deflation Swamps Switzerland” is an excellent article about where the world is heading economically. I sometimes think that we are living through what would have happened in the 1930’s Depression if the New Deal and the war had not intervened. The article paints an appalling picture of where the quest for reduced wages will finally lead us. I was particularly heartened by hearing that the super-rich will have to share some of the negative events that are coming. (However, maybe climate change will get us both first before deflation has a chance to play itself out.)

    1. Clive

      Every day — every single sodding day — my so-called “work” involves the forces you mention JEHR (and which are explained in the truly excellent feature Deflation Swamps Switzerland. No initiative is about anything apart from reducing costs. Beating down on suppliers. Beating down on labour. Beating down on customers even (the desperate attempts to claw back what it really nickel and dime revenue are breath-taking). If revenue increases are proposed, its about taking market share, not increasing the market — a zero sum gain in other words for the economy as a whole.

      We’ve built — and continue to build — a financial doomsday machine. We’re on the road to ruin, but no-one seems to be able to stop it.

      The endgame does though feel not too far ahead. Whether “not too far ahead” is 1 year, 5 years or 10 years, that is the question.

  16. Jef

    “How the People Can Outwit the Global Domination Plans of Agribusiness”

    Again someone talking out of their backside, leaving out 10 times more than they put in. He is not wrong about the need he, as with most all op-eds on any of the converging constraints, simply tosses it out there without a thought about how this applies to the real world.

    Local, organic, small family farm, sustainability, eco-friendly what ever you want to call it it all boils down to MORE EXPENSIVE at a time when 90% of the population are experiencing less income. Consumers are constantly looking for the least expensive way to feed their family. Historically this is accomplished by purchasing highly processed, mass produced “food”.

    One slight correction about his claim that the world produces a supper abundance and that will never end. What the world produces in abundance are commodity scale products that have very little nutritional value but can be easily shipped, traded, bought and sold over and over, dumped on foreign markets particularly in the developing Countries to kill off local production and subsidize massive domestic production. As for healthy meats, dairy, vegetables, etc. there is not enough being produced to feed 10% of the population and the ability ramp that up is severely constrained.

    1. McMike

      I disagree.

      Industrial ag is every bit as crapified and corrupt and rent-seeking as global finance. But neither are laws of nature. They are the result of policy choices and economic incentives such as government subsides and preferences.

      Your assertion that sustainable ag practices can never work because it is expensive and cannot be ramped up has been preemptively hamstrung by industrial ag framing imposed as a premise. Further, this assertion is, not merely coincidentally, the exact same argument put forth by fossil fuel industries against renewables.

      The point of the article (which I have my own problems with), in fact, is to challenge the preemptive framing of corporate ag. And the second biggest lie after the “not enough food” lie, is the lie that energy/chemical intensive ag is the only way that works.

      Not true. Industrial ag is the only way that works… in a corrupt, crapified, parasitic, predatory system. (The same system that also, not merely coincidentally, refuses to pay workers a living wage.)

      1. Carla

        Thank you. As a person who apparently suffers from oppositional defiance disorder, I can tell you that it is hard not to succumb to despair, so I appreciate your perspective, McMike. Isn’t it ODD, though, how we tend to regard as “laws of nature” things which are not, while ignoring the actual laws of nature (to our peril.)

    2. Chief Bromden

      “What the world produces in abundance are commodity scale products that have very little nutritional value but can be easily shipped, traded, bought and sold over and over, dumped on foreign markets ….”

      Ok, so remove the foolish premise that humans should pull more fossil fuels out of the earth for food to be shipped anywhere, much less foreign markets. Replace monoculture corporate plantations that produce food-like stuff and replace with decentralized, biodiverse farms that produce real food. Some people may have to bite the bullet and actually learn how to grow/raise something for themselves. And they might actually find that freedom from corporate dependency can be empowering and healthy. It would appear there isn’t much of a choice.

  17. Llewelyn Moss

    Kerry just on the teevee announcing the new ISIS strategy . US Taxpayers now on the hook to: Rebuild the Iraqi Army training and new weapons (again); Rebuild the Iraq infrastructure (again); Providing resources ; cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.

    In related news, Miserable Austerity continues in the US, starving the poor, crumbling roads, bridges, …etc.

    PS. All new, all improved name for ISIS is now Daesh. “Das ist gut.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      As I understand it, taxation doesn’t pay for any imperial adventures.

      It’s for managing inflation.

      And before the income tax in 1913 or around that time, we had little to fight inflation.

      Though most people’s first reaction upon learning that truth is, why can’t they control inflation some other ways – like stopping printing new money, and that is not enough, cutting down on military spending – instead of taxing the poor People…

      1. fresno dan

        Can’t they use electronic 0/1’s, and we can at least save the fuel flying over those tons of hundred dollar bills?

  18. rich

    Private Jet, PEU Davos Gives Lip Service to Inequality

    PEUs Rubenstein and Schwarzman made out like bandits after Gramm-Leach-Bliley, ushered in by one Larry Summers. Private equity has been all about paying fewer people, offering little to no raises and requiring them to do more.

    Consider this from a former business reporter in July 2011:

    There are very few people out there who will talk and write honestly about private equity. I know from personal experience that the financial press is so eager to break news on “deals” that reporters (who are increasingly compensated on the number of “market moving stories” they write) can’t afford to be critical of Carlyle, KKR and Blackstone, and risk losing access to people at those firms.

    I have seen so many people — particularly those in their 50s – 70s — taken apart by what has happened in their industry as greed has hollowed out the economy. These are people took pride in their jobs and held themselves to this invisible standard that we all just took for granted, but is being wiped out.

    The Carlyle Group scares me more than anything I’ve ever seen on Wall Street. It seems to exist to corrupt politicians and it’s hard to know who they even represent.
    I watched a video interview of (David) Rubenstein and his arrogance is really beyond tolerance. He was going on about the debt ceiling problem and how there would need to be cuts in services and higher taxes. When the reporter asked him about tax on carried interest he turned really disdainful and said that this “only” amounted to $22 billion over some number of years and this was not serious money. Boy, nothing like everybody doing their small part to save the country from oblivion!

    Rubenstein left countless behind, as did Schwarzman. Their words rise from the abyss of greed they’ve created and nurtured over the last thirty years. The system produced that for which it was designed. PEU lamentations ring hollow, especially at Davos with its 1,700 private jets.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      1700 private jets into Davos?… Holy Smokes!! I thought their issue du jour was global warming and they were all about reducing carbon emissions this year!

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    State of the Union speech.

    Shouldn’t one be given by each of the following:

    1. The people
    2. The Supreme Court
    3. House/Senate
    4. the White House?

    Are we favoring one branch over all others?

    1. James Levy

      I pointlessly trot this out from time to time but here goes: it’s one of the very few things the President is supposed to do. He (or she) is the Commander in Chief of the Armed forces (just like Queen Elizabeth II, and for the same reason, although nobody around this country understands that); “he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” He also gets, in conjunction with the Senate, the right to appoint federal judges and ambassadors, and make treaties. And it is his job to see that the laws (which he does not make) are faithfully executed and “from time to time give to Congress information of the state of the union.”

      And those, my friends, are the limits of the President’s Constitutional powers.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks, James.

        I don’t think it hurts to find out what the people think of the state of the union.

        I mean, polls are OK. But it’s not explicitly prohibited in the Constitution for us to hear one more speech.

    2. cwaltz

      From what I saw the WH, the House and the Senate, as well as the Supreme Court had their say.

      Unless you don’t count Cruz, Ernst, and Paul’s rebuttal. Or the fact that Scalia and company not showing up and Ginsberg falling asleep as a commentary on the state of our union. I guess they could have invited a couple of Joe Averages but I think most consider the editorial page an opportunity to opine about things like political speeches on the country.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe Yves or some one from Ferguson can give the speech and the White House gives their rebuttal.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    E-cigarettes and formaldehyde…

    Another tech gadget that takes time for us to really get to know…like the petro-burning automobile (that one took a few decades).

  21. Oops it hit the Pater fan

    Loved [Acting Man[!]] Pater Tenebrarum’s piece: It’s Official: If You Question Authority, You Are Mentally Ill. Too bad that if all the Paters (doesn’t that equate to the word “Father,” in Latin?) had been paying attention to all the ‘Mothers and presumed/proclaimed “Children”’ ….that conclusion would have been come to, decades ago? I’m betting that it’s become personal to Paters now.

    Kind of getting sick of reading highly touted pieces on the internet – which thoughts have been circulated OFFLINE for decades upon decades before – by authors with no admitted remberence, apology, or, even acknowledgement, of those who were previously buried under for even whispering those thoughts the Paters now loudly proclaim after the shit has hit their Pater fan.

    It’s kind of like all those who despise AMAZON, GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, et al, now, yet couldn’t get their full of equating anyone against it, in the early days, not at all that long ago, with being an insane lunatic anti-progress “troll.”

  22. Jack

    At least some of the unrealistic breast nonsense in video games is pure marketing. As an example Team Ninja is a development studio that at least is entirely up-front about who its target audience is and what they want from a game, so they actively brag about their boob physics and the soft-core porn viewing mode in their Dead or Alive fighting games (there’s an entire system for characters reacting to environmental conditions, eg getting covered in dirt and soaked in water, solely so fetishists can oggle them at the end of a match). But beyond that kind of blatant shamelessness there clearly is a deep problem in much of gaming with how woman are portrayed, with even studios known for having some class and subtlety in every other apsect of game design frequently falling prey to the same visual cliches. Apparently when given the chance to create virtual women few developers can resist the urge to just jump straight to everyone being a swimsuit model.

    Things aren’t all bad, on the AAA scene you have things like BioShock Infinite, where many of the best parts were simply hanging out with the female AI compaion character ( and for all the apoplectic rage and whining any criticism of women in video games inevitably elicits from males blind to their own privilege it’s indicative of a widespread shift in consumer opinion that the unbelievably sexist Metroid: Other M was so widely panned and denounced as character assasination of its beloved female lead that Nintendo hasn’t done much with the franchise since.

    1. ambrit

      Didn’t “The X Files” do a show on just this subject? I seem to remember a, er, well, you get the idea. The show did a bit of making fun of the male characters obsession with breasts, etc. (Oh, blast! That will get you arrested for irony today. Oh well, forget I ever said anything.)

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