Links 1/8/15

Two U.S. lawyers file defamation suit against attorney Dershowitz Reuters (EM). This is starting to look like a Punch and Judy show.

Cape Town traffic police impound 34 Uber vehicles

Science at risk as young researchers increasingly denied research grants PhysOrg (Chuck L)

UBS Turns to Artificial Intelligence to Advise Clients Bloomberg (David L).

Antibiotics: US discovery labelled ‘game-changer’ for medicine BBC (furzy mouse)

From a Pile of Dirt, Researchers Discover New Antibiotic MIT Technology Review (David L)

Diabetes drug found in Lake Michigan could harm fish, researchers say McClatchy

Worst ever sea water invasion threatens orchid farms in Sam Pran district Thai PBS. Jim D: “Global warming & rising sea levels.”

China’s courtship of Latin America tested Financial Times

Correa Heads to China for Financial Lifeline PanAM Post

Why Emerging-Market Debt Could Balloon in a Flash WSJ Economics

Q&A: Why should we be worried about eurozone deflation? Telegraph

Draghi’s Deflation Nightmare Bloomberg

Eurozone South is still not a place for young workers Bruegel


Should markets fear Greece’s radical party Syriza? CNBC

The early ending of the new political control? failed evolution

These Three American Families Are Funding Half Of Netanyahu’s Re-Election Bid BuzzFeed


Iran’s Supreme Leader Is Skeptical of Nuclear Talks With U.S. New York Times

Isis: the inside story Guardian (reslic)

Imperial Collapse Watch

A Self-Perpetuating Machine for American Insecurity, Welcome to the National Security State of 2015 Tom Engelhardt


Analysis: Shumlin built ‘lead airplane’ for single payer VTDigger (martha r)

Those Protesting Harvard Professors Have a Point Helaine Olen, Slate

Obama to Outline Proposals to Bolster a Lagging Housing Sector New York Times

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Is a Pending Disaster Robert Reich, Huffington Post. This from a man who pushed for Nafta…

Vanishing New York: Icons and residents crushed by surging rents Aljazeera (Nikki). Retail store rents are being doubled in my neighborhood, and businesses are dropping like flies. And their replacements are idiotic high end concepts, like a store for upscale frozen food, that will be dead in a year.


Coal Companies Are Selling Coal To Themselves To Get More Government Subsidies ThinkProgress

Fed Bond Purchases Had Larger Overseas Effects Than Rates, IMF Says WSJ Economics


Oil Prices Slide as U.S. Gasoline Inventories Jump Wall Street Journal

US export code adds to bearish oil outlook Financial Times

How $50 Oil Changes Almost Everything Bloomberg

Mounting Debt For Oil Drillers OilPrice

Deep Debt Keeps Oil Firms Pumping Wall Street Journal (Brian C)

Standard Chartered to Shut Equities Business Wall Street Journal

Credit Suisse Waiver and Too Big to Bar Corporate Crime Reporter (Kimo)

Risks lurk in failure to simplify finance Satyajit Das, Financial Times. Important. Key quote” “Extra capital, while welcome, will transmit losses in the event of a systemic crisis to insurance companies, pension funds and private investors. Bailing them out may be politically necessary or expedient.”

Class Warfare

Nighttime Must-Read: Larry Mishel: American Wages Have Stagnated Brad DeLong

Sotheby’s and Christie’s Return to Guaranteeing Art Prices New York Times. Proof of robust demand at the top end.

Ireland’s Resurgent Left Jacobin (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour (Samuel A):

cat in snow links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Juneau

    Re: funding for young researchers
    “Since 1980 the share of biomedical research funding from industry sources has grown from 32% to 62%,”. With all due respect to the recent antibiotic advance, which coincidentally was funded by NIH (publicly) a research trust and some German grants…..I assume the funding source (corporate vs public) influences where the money goes. Established industry insider researchers may be a better bet for pharmaceutical companies. Not sure of the effect but can imagine less common, less profitable curable disorders will not draw a lot of that funding.

    1. tyaresun

      It is a great deal for the industry, the government pays for the first 95 cents (infrastructure including building, faculty, students, administration,…), the industry pays the last 5 cents and walks away with all the spoils, i.e., patents, high priced drugs, etc.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The 5 cents the industry pays includes educated workers who most likely had been educated with public funding (from the US, and other provincial nations whose job is to supply the empire with goods, services and good serfs, only to see brain drain with the latter).

        1. fresno dan

          And of course, after all is said and done the CEO and maybe CFO capture outlandish amounts of compensation – for pretty much thwarting markets by NOT letting drugs be re-imported.
          The arguments that FDA uses for not allowing re-importation of drugs are hard to refuted because they are so intellectually dishonest, outlandish, and such non sequiturs.

          “Nearly 40 percent of the drugs Americans take are made elsewhere, and about 80 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used in drugs manufactured in the United States come from outside our borders—from more than 150 countries, many with less sophisticated manufacturing and regulatory systems than our own. ”

          So let me try and explain FDA’s argument – almost all the important parts of drugs are not made in the US, so FDA needs a lot more money, but don’t worry, because the drug ingredients are still safe – but still, give us more money.

          Now, once the drugs are made here, and shipped off (exported), we can’t possibly allow them to be re-imported, and this is NOT BECAUSE they would be cheaper (even though they would be)….oh no, its because they would be so, so dangerous….because a drug that goes from the US to Germany and back again is so, so dangerous, while ALL the ingredients made in China (which in fact have had a number of frightful contamination events), Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc, are fine and dandy (super SARC).

          Now, stealing and adulteration of final prescription drugs is a real problem, and really happens….ALREADY (it happen now WITHOUT reimportation).
          Would re importation make it worse?
          Maybe, but the very same controls to help prevent that would make the current final prescription drugs that are NOW being adulterated in the present system (i.e., without re importation) safer as well.

          To me, this is an argument that pretty much every bureaucracy gets captured by industry. The argument that FDA puts forward is so ridiculous that it is simply difficult to describe how idiotic it is. Its like saying grain grown in sewage, washed in toxic waste, stored in open containers with mice, rats and bugs crawling over it, it fine to be imported – yeah, we should do something about it, but whatcha gonna do – we lost all our manufacturing capability.

          Now, once that cereal is made from that grain, and it gets shipped to Germany, well…it just puts us in tremendous danger to have any of it shipped back….

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            ‘We lost all our manufacturing capability.’

            Yes, but that’s the price we have to pay to put our imperial currency in circulation to grease global commerce and catapult our national elites to the status of global elites.

            Back to pubic funding.

            Today, college athletic programs are but cost-free farms for professional teams. In the same way, college degrees are but certificates of cost-free training for corporations. No one talks about going to college to become enlightened. If you can’t get a job upon graduation, the experience fails to meet a personal objective.

  2. timotheus

    Re young scientists and evaporating research support: a friend (30-year behavioral-health-related research career) said just two days ago that he is advising young researchers to leave the field, no future in it. One outcome will be that the research that IS performed more likely will be very policy-oriented and based in health departments. This is not entirely terrible, but we will lose the more visionary, cutting-edge studies that could lead to real innovations. I suppose there is a parallel in the basic science stuff, that the withdrawal of NIH support will mean the pharms set the terms even more than now (and scoop up the rewards, of course).

    1. tyaresun

      I work in an unrelated industry (data science) now and the applications I get for jobs posted in my department make me cry. The people applying have 5-10 years of post-doc experience with very interesting research but are fleeing because of lack of funding as well as very poor salaries.

      They can make three times the money if, for example, they can improve the click through rate for on-line ads from 1/1000 to 2/1000.

      Beam me up Scotty.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The terrible dilemma (to get or not to get) would be if they do get jobs, those projects are usually funded to further entrenched the 0.01%.

      That’s the view from the very top of the pyramid, I imagine…”Let’s put our research money where it will be most useful (to us the elites).

    1. Doug Terpstra

      The chickenhawks fledglings come home to roost. The blowback has only just begun in the war of terror.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Not even the CIA can tell friend from fiend I think. Thus the breeder-reactor GWOT reads like biblical geneology of frenemies: the CIA begat the Mujahideen; the Mujahideen begat al-Qaeda and the Taliban; al-Qaeda begat al-Nusra and FSA; al-Nusra begat ISIL, and so on and so forth…

          It’s hard to keep track of who we’re at war with at the moment. But it’s important that we remain paralyzed by fear so the villain du jour must be constantly paraded and analyzed on mainstream media.

    2. OIFVet

      Now NATO wants cooperation with Russia… NATO calls Russia anti-terror ally after Paris attack. “Russia “should be an ally in the fight against terrorism,” Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, stated during his visit to the Bavarian town of Kreuth…In May, NATO Deputy Secretary General Aleksander Vershbow said the block had to start treating Russia “as more of an adversary than a partner.” So now that the blowback has began, Russia is suddenly an ally? Perhaps the West suddenly remembered that Putin had warned them all along about the huge potential for Syria-related blowback.

      1. fresno dan

        As they say, nations have no permanent friends or enemies, just interests.
        Of course, I wish we could figure out our interests – because it seems to me, we’re not doing such a hot job…
        My vote for our interest is …..Isolationism. I know, bad, bad, word. We have to be involved. Because Bush, Rice, Obama, Clinton, Kerry are such masters of real politic and can see so, so many moves ahead on that 3 dimensional chessboard…

        1. OIFVet

          But isolationism is not profitable, no groaf in it. Neocolonialism is just such perfect self-reinforcing positive feedback loop: money for MIC=neocolonial wars= blowback=more money for MIC etc.

          1. OIFVet

            PS I believe the term surreal politik best describes our policies, which are pretty much embraced by both wings of the corporatist party.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Maybe I will get called an extremist, but I believe, too, we need more isolationism. That is, we need a mixture of isolationism and engagement abroad, but right now, we have too much of the latter and need to go the other way a bit, and sometimes we say we need isolationism, or we are painted as advocating isolationism, when we are for increasing it by some degrees and not something like Japan’s 200 years of, let me google the term here, ok, Sakoku.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                And it didn’t turn out too bad for the Japanese, at least from 1860 to 1940, and with a brief interruption, resuming and lasting till the Plaza Accord in the late 1980’s.

                And in Asia, where long term results matter, so unless Wall Street where short term is already to taxing for one’s patience, that sort of outcome can’t be lightly dismissed.

                Sakoku…not all bad.

      2. Andrew Watts

        In a recent article Patrick Cockburn advocates a diplomatic solution to the Syrian Civil War and the NATO secretary is hinting at a US/NATO alliance with Russia. Ukraine was the headache that nobody needed after all and IS is the nightmare that won’t go away. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking but isn’t it nice how the Islamic State can bring us all together?


      1. Propertius

        Sorry, but the money quote from Moon absolutely disgusts me:

        To claim such insults should not matter is itself an insult in that it declares one culture, that of absolute free speech rights, to be superior to other values.

        I’m perfectly happy to make that declaration, Carolinian.

        1. Lambert Strether

          It’s interesting that the warmongering over The Interview also took the form of a “free speech” justification. So, it’s interesting to wonder what else is going on underneath the free speech justification in France. I rather wish Le Pen had gone off the deep end. Instead, she’s going to meet with Hollande….

  3. ambrit

    I couldn’t come up with better figures on short notice, but, $250,000 towards a national campaign? Even in Israel that seems like a small amount. That 90% of Likuds money comes from the US looks too much like International Oligarchy for my taste. Having gone to a high school with a large, middle class Jewish population, I can attest to the rabidity of the Zionist clique. (In the interests of fair play, it was a small, insular group.) Thus, the enthusiasm with which some American Jews support an Ultra Nationalist movement in the “Homeland” for the worlds’ Hebrew peoples comes as no surprise whatsoever. That this almost Messianic political party does so well in Israeli elections has to be a testament to the power of propaganda.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You are used to the US.

      The huge costs of campaigning here is solely due to TV ad costs. In Australia, no one can buy TV ads for political campaigns. Each party that exceeds a certain (low) % gets a set amount of free airtime for major races. Other countries limit or bar political commercials.

      Israel also has all of what, 6 million people? Even if some TV advertising is allowed, it can’t cost that much.

      1. ambrit

        I append the following blog post from Nepal as an ‘economic’ analysis of their local politics.
        An interesting argument. Perhaps I should have looked at the subject from the perspective of cost of election as a percentage of GDP? The cost per vote cast? Or the cost in distribution of social ‘goods’ as a result of the style of governance enacted as a result of the election in question?
        This all brings up the question of the ‘costs’ of politics for the society as a whole. However, that’s one of the reasons this site is superior. It isn’t afraid.

        1. diptherio

          Nepal’s political machinery is even more dysfunctional than ours, if that’s possible. The corruption is rampant there as here, but unlike in the US it is upfront and acknowledged by all. If someone scores a government job and doesn’t soon after begin construction on a big modern house (funded by corruption), people will say “some people walk through the jungle and don’t see any firewood.”

          On the upside, you can get away with quite a bit that would normally get tied up in the bureaucracy if the system were more functional.

    2. Jim Haygood

      From the BuzzFeed article:

      The vastly wealthy Falic family of Florida, owners of the Duty Free Americas airport shops as well as several high-end fashion brands, have been one of the most consistent donors to Netanyahu’s campaign. Closely following them were the Book family of New Jersey, owners of Jet Support Systems, and the Schottenstein family, owners of the American Eagle fashion chain.

      Jet Support Systems is strictly B-to-B. But we can certainly do our part to avoid funding apartheid by boycotting Duty Free Americas and American Eagle.

  4. James Levy

    The “drillers keep pumping” reminds me of one of the oldest stories from the Great Depression. World War I set off a mad scramble in the US to replace home-grown grain in Britain, France, and Italy and Russian exports. 1915-20 were a mad boom in US agriculture. But when the European grain market began to return to normal, the farmers were faced with overproduction. As prices fell, they began to churn out even more grain so as to keep their incomes level. By 1928 the Depression had already hit the grain belt as prices collapsed, and overproduction had initiated the conditions that brought on the Dust Bowl. Of course, Republican politicians hailed this collapse as a godsend (“a chicken in every pot!”). This seems to be the situation in the non-traditional (shale oil, tar sands) sector of the oil industry right now. Tax cuts and easy money in the 20s helped keep production up, as they have for nonconventional oil. What we may be seeing now is the crash.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Capacity cycles are endemic in every industry. Reading them outside of crash periods (which are obvious to all) is an art. Much of Warren Buffett’s investment success derived from his adroit management of the insurance underwriting cycle, where excess capacity drives down rates, followed by some participants exiting the field to stanch losses, sending rates back up.

      Kondratiev observed commodity price cycles from the early 19th century on. Unfortunately, the cycles don’t exhibit the stable periodicity that some had supposed. From a Kondratiev standpoint, early 2009 (when the U.S. CPI actually went negative for a few months) likely was the K-wave trough. This year’s drama is just a secondary reaction. Keep calm and carry on!

    1. MikeNY

      I’m frequently on the EWR-SFO flight, and the plane is always packed. Even the red-eye. The planes keep getting smaller (like 737s), but they depart almost on the half-hour. No food, of course. In economy, the seats barely recline an inch. Scheming and fighting for space in the overhead bins has become a blood-sport. There’s a screaming baby planted every few rows. If you’re seated by a window, escaping to get to the bathroom is to walk an obstacle course, and on the last flight, my boot snagged on someone’s backpack and nearly did a face-plant in the aisle. And the flight gets longer every time I take it.

      It is its own special hell.

      1. BondsOfSteel

        On a positive trend… better seats are finally available. You used to have a choice between 1st class and cattle class… and the price difference is so much. Now airlines are adding another option economy plus.

        I flew Delta from JFK to SEA in Economy Plus. Faster boarding, further reclining, more legroom, meal (and dessert) included, cocktails too! Ya get what you pay for… and I think it’s worth it.

        1. Jess

          Sounds like a junior version of old Business Class, except probably without the wider seats.

          Just curious, but as to leg room: How tall are you? (Need to compare to my height.)

    2. McMike

      Had a recent uneventful flight end by spending an hour on the tarmac after landing, in sight of the gate, which had not yet been vacated by the plane before us.

      Aside the seemingly ever-shrinking cattle car crowding – not otherwise allowable in jails, chicken coops, or pet pens – the just-in-time ethos means that there is no slack available in the event of the slightest disruption. Hence a butterfly’s wings causes the entire system to go into meltdown.

      I fly only to visit my aging parents. And otherwise avoid it like the plague.

      I hate everything about the airlines and air travel, from their business model, to the security theater, to their treatment of passengers, to the union busting and bankruptcy finessing and pension raiding, to the elite class buy-up preferences (including, particularly security fast lanes), to the delays and lies about delays, to the inscrutable fares, to the bag fees and change fees and fee fees, to the car traffic and parking and lines for baggage check and lines for trams and lines for shoeless xrays and lines for coffee and lines for boarding and lines for seating and lines for overhead bag space, and the pay-per wifi and pay-per TV and pay-per peanuts, and the babies screaming and guy with the flu behind me and the huge elbow hog next to me and the guy in front of me trying to tilt back into my lap and the kid behind me kicking my seat, and then we land and do it all again in reverse.

        1. inode_buddha

          I haven’t flown since 9/11 mainly due to the security theater. Until they end that, I’m not going to. I refuse to let anyone treat me like some kind of suspect, let alone *pay* for the so-called privelege. I manage to stay in contact just fine via driving, although it does mean re-scheduling vacations. For that matter, I used to commute thru Canada; not anymore. The US side is absolutely a circus.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            When I lived in Detroit, we would head to Windsor several times a week. I visited friends last time I was back – 1 hour going and 2 hours coming back. Ugh. All for what exactly?

            1. ambrit

              All for the creation of unease and disquiet in the general public, to be exploited by the MIC for selfish ends.

  5. steviefinn

    Not so sure about the resurgent Left in Ireland & in particular Sinn Fein’s role in it as related in the Jacobin article.. Hopefully I am wrong but I think that SF will use the present discord to further their aims in trying to achieve a ‘ United Ireland ‘. He only mentions the Irish Labour party in reference to Joan Bruton who along with other senior members, must take the prize for reneging on election promises.
    I remember before the election how the then leader Pat Rabitte & others, cheered my desperate heart by tearing to shreds Fianna Fail fat cats for putting unsecured bondholders & bankers before the struggling people of Ireland – but alas it was a mirage & once they had secured their positions, they fully supported the flipside of FF, namely Fianna Gael. The same thing had happened previously when a few Green party TD’s had ensured that FF’s Lenihan, ( who was advised by Merrill Lynch ) had handed the country on a plate to the Troika.
    In the North the voting is also basically tribal & the appetite among Catholics for a ‘ United Ireland ‘ has somewhat diminished due to the basket case status of the South – although the North is catching up but it is less obvious, as it falls under the UK’s so called economic recovery which many, despite the evidence on the ground to the contrary are hanging on to. There is also a feeling from some. that voting in the North is a bit pointless as all the real decisions are made in London. The Greens in the North are making a bit of headway but are probably never likely to break the political cartel.
    The water charges seems to have been a tipping point in the South, which has caused ordinary Irish to declare that enough is enough, & people I know like my daughter who previously was apathetic towards politics, have hit the road in large numbers & through other information sources are becoming radicalised. There is also a growing number of potential Independent TD’s who might make a difference – I hope so anyway as ordinary Irish people have taken enough shite.

    1. James Levy

      I am constantly amazed at how, country in and country out, the politicians sell out their voters. The uniformity of this process screams “conspiracy”, and I would dare anyone who dismisses that claim to find any overarching theory for why politicians in nation after nation sell out their people to the bond traders and central bankers, and how every vote to change that policy ends in the continuance of that policy. Either this is the greatest case of “cognitive capture” in human history, or bagmen are having a field day (or death squads are conspicuously oiling their semi-autos).

      1. steviefinn

        My inclination is that the majority of politicians are careerists – maybe they just take the easiest option armed by their gifts of self justification.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Another link further above: Housing lagging.

      Exactly how is housing lagging? For whom? For those whose properties won’t go up more so they can sell to new owners who must charge more to justify the cap rates?

      For those potential buyers, housing should lag more if the prices will come down.

  6. Jim Haygood

    RUFO is gone … and nothing has changed, according to Bianca Fernet:

    At midnight on 31 December 2014, the Rights Upon Future Offers (RUFO) clause expired, meaning that if Argentina’s government wanted to, they could now pay the holdouts, or vultures, without having to pay the holders of exchanged bonds the same amount, thus bankrupting the country.

    Now that RUFO is no more, Argentina could pay the holdouts the roughly US $1.2 billion owed and pick back up making payments to the holders of exchange bonds. ‘Will Argentina Pay?’ That is the headline du jour this week. The answer is no, Argentina will obviously not pay.

    Cristina will not pay because she said she won’t. It’s really that simple. This administration’s claim on power is embedded in an emotionally-charged “us versus them” ideology. To make a deal with the holdouts now would be akin to Barack Obama outlawing birth control and ending welfare, or the Taliban coming out in favor of religious plurality and women’s rights.

    Cristina Fernández de Kirchner settling with the holdouts would be ridiculous.

    The accompanying photo shows the Widow K. impersonating Morticia Addams at what appears to be a Halloween party. Scary!

    1. HotFlash

      But but but … I always wanted to be Morticia Addams, didn’t you? Didn”t everyone? To be tangoed every night, and even afternooons…

  7. Carolinian

    Anyone around here seen Citizenfour? Terrific. Snowden, in his quiet way, spills the beans to Greenwald and colleagues. A few hours later he is watching himself on CNN–the lead news story across the planet. Who says millenials aren’t making a difference?

    Not long ago Moon of Alabama analogized the US/NATO policy in Ukraine to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. One wonders if that might not also apply to the elites’ enthusiastic embrace of computers and the internet. It is well known that the reason Hollywood can’t conquer piracy is that hackerworld, what Cory Doctorow calls “the darknet,” understands cyberspace and computers a lot better than they do. It’s a few hired guns versus millions of crowd sourced brains. Those in power can try to put the genie back in the bottle as with their heavy handed persecution of Assange but it may well be a losing battle.

    So to the luddites: here’s a case for optimism. The much maligned millenials may be the salvation of us all.

    1. MikeNY

      I saw it. Yes, I came out of the screening with a lot of respect for ES. The movie theater was like a morgue when the film ended. People were upset and unsettled, including me.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Nice to see some support for the Luddites.

      Today, over at Marketwatch, there is something about the Fed won’t tolerate a strong dollar. That’s interesting, because intuitively you would think printing money like we have been doing, the dollar should be weakening. But have no fear, we are…exceptional.

      This how I understand the strong dollar: as we see chaos descend everywhere, with barbarians running amok, most local, native elites are rushing back to the safety of Rome with their loot.

      And now, with Ukraine about to be admitted in, being threatened by a monster from the east, it reminds one of the irony of Rome letting in the Visigoths, who were being haunted by a menace from the east, who later sacked it.

      1. Vatch

        The Romans treated the Goths very badly when they first admitted them to Roman territory, after the Goths requested asylum from the Huns, who had taken over much of the formerly Gothic territory. The story is rather reminiscent of the U.S. Trail of Tears and the Russian ethnic cleansing of the Circassians.

        Valens promised the Goths farming land, grain rations, and protection under the Roman armies as foederati. His major reasons for quickly accepting the Goths into Roman territory were to increase the size of his army, and to gain a new tax base to increase his treasury.[citation needed] The selection of Goths that were allowed to cross the Danube was unforgiving: the weak, old, and sickly were left on the far bank to fend for themselves against the Huns.[citation needed] The ones that crossed were supposed to have their weapons confiscated;[1] however, the Romans in charge accepted bribes to allow the Goths to retain their weapons.[2]

        With so many people in such a small area, famine struck the Goths, and Rome was unable to supply them with either the food they were promised or the land; they herded the Goths into a temporary holding area surrounded by an armed Roman garrison. There was only enough grain left for the Roman garrison, and so they simply let the Goths starve. The Romans provided a grim alternative: the trade of slaves (often children and young women) for dog meat. When Fritigern appealed to Valens for help, he was told that his people would find food and trade in the markets of the distant city of Marcianople. Having no alternative, some of the Goths trekked south in a death march, losing the sickly and old along the path.

        When they finally reached Marcianople’s gates, they were barred by the city’s military garrison and denied entry; to add insult to injury, the Romans unsuccessfully tried to assassinate the Goth leaders during a banquet. Open revolt began.

        1. James Levy

          Two modern historians looking at this both feel that the incident showed starkly the growing incapacity of the Roman state and the inability of emperors to know what the hell was going on. This was more a case of ineptitude, ignorance, and mendacity rather than deliberate cruelty. The Roman military response to this uprising was equally inept, and ended at Adrianople. When people today talk about collapsing trust horizons and their effect on society, the later Roman empire is a beautiful example of suspicion, paranoia, selfishness, and the subordination of everything to the immediate needs of a rapacious elite.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Hopefully, this time, it’s different and we won’t see strong, healthy Ukrainian construction workers abroad and young, Ukrainian comfort women in New York bars…or at least, this time, they can journey leisurely in modern jets (skipping any upgrades, of course – they cost too much imperial money).

      2. Carolinian

        Actually, I disagree with the Luddites….guess that wasn’t clear. I believe there’s a case to be made that technology may be our salvation rather than our demise. A smartphone, that thing we take for granted, is a miracle of human inventiveness. We are an amazingly adaptable species and problems created by science could very well be solved by science. It’s really our social arrangements that threaten everyone. To be sure technology exacerbates this, putting dangerous weapons in the hands of lunatics. But it’s too late to turn the clock back on that. What the world needs at this point is more science, not less.

        1. OIFVet

          Science is in the hands of lunatics too, by virtue of its funding sources. Also, solving problems created by science by using more science… Almost a self-licking ice cream cone, idn’t it? I know what you are saying, and at this point we have very little choice but to rely on science to try to extricate ourselves from this mess we have created. But what kind of science (social, natural, both?), and how do we ensure that science doesn’t lead to yet more consequences (intended or unintended)?

          I look at my grandparents’ garden and I am convinced that big resources are are expended by science to rediscover the wheel and to then misapply the findings in the most damaging way possible. That garden is in large part a permaculture wonder, even though my grandparents have never heard of the word, much less possess a formal degree in agriculture. Generations of observations led to acquired folk wisdom about interconnectedness, something that science is very good at classifying and exploring down to microscopic level, but terrible at applying the newly rediscovered knowledge in an environmentally sustainable and socially-conscious way. Science is a double-edged sword, and a dose of healthy skepticism about how its findings are applied is called for, IMO.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


            We are humbled, or should be humbled (and proud) that tomorrow’s best explanation will be better than today’s best explanation.

            If we can wait, let’s do it tomorrow….unless we have to do it today.

            The problem is, when greed is the motive, we can’t wait.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Thus, we can say, with some confidence, that laziness is not always bad.

              I hope this doesn’t upset those with strong Protestant work ethic.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                ‘Can you go slow on your next version of crapified software?’

                ‘Can you please go slower on your next generation of GM foods?’

                ‘Surely, I feel better if you wait at least till tomorrow.’

                1. OIFVet

                  But then the non-creatives will have time to ask too many questions: ‘Why is this necessary?’, ‘Who benefits?’, ‘Who loses?’, etc. That’s the point behind fast track authority, get it passed before the proles have time to object. Because greed, as you said.

          2. Carolinian

            I’m just offering a personal expression of optimism. You don’t have to agree. And that was also my point at the top of the thread. It could be this computer generation’s mastery of their machines will save us from Big Brother and not deliver us into his clutches. Computers are empowering devices in the right hands. The bureaucratic fossils who are trying to turn all this against us may not quite realize what they are up against. Just ask Sony.

            As to the nostalgic look back at peasant agricultural self sufficiency: what was the world population then? If that’s going to be our future then we are going to have to have a lot fewer people. So that’s a social problem too. Perhaps we need a more scientific approach to people themselves, not in a sinister Nazi way but in a practical way. This won’t be easy because humans are creatures of instinct as well as reason. But somehow we’ve made it up to now even if it was, as Thornton Wilder said, by the skin of our teeth.

            1. OIFVet

              I neither agree nor disagree. I am simply cautioning against blind faith in science that leads to the God complex that we as humanity have adopted. As to peasant self-sufficiency, the point was that uneducated peasants had found a sustainable way to feed themselves and their parasitic overlords. Permaculture is ultimately far more productive per acre than “scientific” agriculture of the Monsanto type, and this productivity is sustainable. Science harnessed in the name of industrial agriculture profit has brought us unsustainable agriculture and animal husbandry that by destroying ecosystems and reducing biodiversity will ultimately reduce its carrying capacity.

            2. jrs

              Is the millennials mastery of the machines any better than previous generations? I mean at the serious of level of coding and hacking etc.? I’m entirely unconvinced of that. All that stuff was done, and been there and done that, by Gen X (and even boomers) when computers were mostly for nerds. I don’t know if the pool of computer talent in the Millennial generation is any greater than it was in Gen X (note I’m talking about aggregates, not about any particular Millennial or Xer or boomer …)

          3. Gaianne

            OIF Vet–

            Well said!

            As a method of study, science is great. As an institution, it has become corrupt, meretricious, and crapified–like everything else. And as it comes increasingly to merely serve power, it becomes inherently evil. Which wasn’t true at the outset.

            History shows that in fact the Luddites were right. They knew that the new industrial methods would destroy both their livelihoods and their lives, and make the common people worse off–and that is exactly what happened.

            Sure, the rich made money. Then and now the happy talk is just that: Self-serving happy-talk.


            1. Carolinian

              Yes let’s all go back to the 18th century when three quarters of the population died in infancy. I’m a great fan of the critic Pauline Kael who grew up on a chicken farm in Petaluma, CA. She used to say those people who romanticize farming don’t know much about farming. In fact my own grandparents grew peaches, strawberries and other produce about fifteen miles from where I am sitting. It was a hard life. If you really want to cast aside modern technology then be ready to live rough.

              1. OIFVet

                Which part of “as it comes increasingly to merely serve power, it becomes inherently evil. Which wasn’t true at the outset.” do you have trouble comprehending? For an English major you have the occasional trouble comprehending rather straightforward sentences All the scientific advancement in the world won’t help us regular people as long as science serves the lunatic elites, as it does now. And for all the vaunted advancements of medicine, US child mortality is an embarrassment compared to that of some less “developed” countries. Same with life expectancy and end of life quality of life, as indeed quality of life throughout one’s lifespan. That’s so because the benefits of science mostly go to the top, as anything else, and we get but a mere trickle down plus the costs.

                As for Kael, she lived in on a chicken farm until the age of 8. That’s not “growing up on a chicken farm.” Didn’t she also say that she didn’t know anyone who voted for Nixon? Lord save the liberal elites from the nightmare of having to perform hard work… Yes, life on a farm is hard; so was life in the factories beginning with Victorian England, so is the life of the temp workforce in that contemporary “creative” economy of ours. What’s the difference then? A measure of independence and freedom, something that has been in steady decline since the English began the process of enclosure and herded the masses into the factories.

                1. Carolinian

                  Might want to put away the blunderbuss. Re Kael, since her parents were farmers for awhile then obviously she did know something about farming. If your dispute is with her then I’m afraid she’s no longer with us.She did say that. Of course she wasn’t against hard work and had worked odd jobs cleaninig houses and sewing to support her daughter until she made the big time as a writer. In fact I suspect you know nothing about her other than what you just read on Wikipedia.

                  But to the main point, to blame science and technology for what politicians and businessmen choose to do with them is just silly. And even if that weren’t true there’s no going back. So we are just going to have learn how to live with science and technology and do something about those politicians and businessmen. That will take more than merely complaining about it.

                  I have nothing against the simple life and if some want to live that way then more power to them. But it’s not an option for most people. They need real solutions and not imagined utopias. Science, in my opinion, will be the solution or at least I hope so. At any rate trying to wish it all away will solve nothing.

                  1. OIFVet

                    A blunderbuss can never kill a hundred Waziris celebrating a wedding. A drone, this wonder of science, can. Nice try to pin primitivism on me Mr. English Major, but ’tis me who is published in JCEM. My healthy skepticism of science is due to me having a scientific background. I refuse to worship science with religious fervor because it is susceptible to abuse like any other religion. And that abuse can come not only from politicians and corporations but also from some of the high or low priests of science as well. After all, when the funding for grants is diminishing, scientists become just as political as politicians and can shed science ethics like a snake sheds its old skin. Until the ethical questions about how science is used and applied, and for whose benefit, are addressed and resolved, I will remain deeply skeptical about any innovation with the potential to be abused to the detriment of the majority, as is the case now. The ever accelerating pace of “scientific progress” only pushes these questions and their answers further aside and thus provides ever more benefits and weapons to the lunatic PTB. It’s time to slow down and rethink things before we rush headlong ever further into the abyss.

                    1. Carolinian

                      I’m an English major but seriously considered majoring in Physics. That may sound weird but there it is. Needless to say this was all a long time ago. And killing somebody with a drone is no worse than dropping a bomb on them or spraying them with Maxim guns which is what they did in the 19th century. In fact when it comes to blowing people up we’ve barely moved the needle much at all.

                      However to get back to the original topic, the Snowden movie shows how technology has given the powerless a tool to throw a spanner in the works and that’s why i think science may, in fact, be the way out.

                      At any rate I’m a technological optimist and that’s just my opinion. If you disagree that’s fine too.

              2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Can living rough lead to longevity?

                Hard work, weight lift, no Sunday TV with a remote on the couch munching extra caloric snacks but working in the yard – does it allow one to live longer and healthier?

              3. Bridget

                “She used to say those people who romanticize farming don’t know much about farming.”

                Farming is probably great if you farm in Hawaii. Everywhere else it’s long, hard, and risky. Rain, cold, wind, sun, none of them ever cooperate. I know lots of farmers and they are all crazy. Farming does it to them.

          4. different clue

            Science by itself won’t change anything. Science in pursuit of what?

            I remember Buckminster Fuller claiming his approach to design engineering would let us save ourselves by “doing more with less”. Unfortunately our political and bussiness governators get richer and more powerful by having us “doing still more with no less than before” and then moving on to “doing more more more with more than before”.

            Fuller’s approach to design engineering could be useful if coupled with a vision of moving from “doing more with less” to “doing the same as before with very little”, to “doing less than before with almost nothing”.

            Science and technology can be applied in either direction. The power struggle will be over who gets to say what direction we go.

        2. Louis

          Carolinian wrote: “It’s really our social arrangements that threaten everyone.”

          To a large degree I’d say this is true, especially when it comes to employment. Full-employment is a thing of the past from the strict economic standpoint—you simply don’t need as many workers to accomplish the same things as you used to. Our cultural and social attitudes in this country—rightly or wrong—regard employment as a given: i.e. anyone who isn’t continuously employed is suspect.

          The obvious problem is that with fewer people required to fulfill economic needs, you have a structural employment problem: i.e. there are more people than available jobs, so what do you with them? Unless our attitude towards employment changes to one that accepts that fewer people will be working, and figures out something to do with those that aren’t, technology will continue be seen by many people as a threat to their survival and livelihood–not part of the solution.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            You aren’t suggesting we have run out of things that need doing, are you? Why is it a job for me to look after someone else’s kids or aging parents but not a job to look after my own? What we have here is a failure of imagination.

            1. cwaltz

              I know right? I must of missed the innovation that does my shopping, cooking, laundry, takes care of the kids, etc, etc. Mind you I’m glad I no longer need to wash my clothing in a stream or need to spend hours laboring like they did in the past but everything I’ve seen suggests that people are a long way from a life of leisure because there is nothing left to do. As a matter of fact, I’d argue I spend more time waiting because businesses are too cheap to hire adequate amounts of people, not that we’ve run out of things to do.

        3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Oh, :(

          Maybe Neo-Luddites then?

          Actually, there is another way of looking at it…sort of the congressional accounting way.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That is, we will spend less, in the sense that we will be spending less than the current projection, and not less than what we spend currently, in the same way that we spend less on surveillance, meaning less than the current projection, and not less than what we spend to spy on everyone currently.

    3. aletheia33

      a must see.
      edward snowden is an extraordinary human being in any generation. in the film, he says he hopes his action will “embolden others.” he is clearly prepared to spend the rest of his life in jail, to never see his home country again, to spend the rest of his life in russia (not a destiny i would choose), and so on. he has thought it all through and is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. “coffin-ready,” as cornel west puts it so well. there are only a few of these in any generation. yes, there will be a few more, and let’s hope their actions do “embolden others.” of all generations.

      1. different clue

        Russia is better than jail or prison or Guantanamo. Russia is a huge country with lots to see and an intelligence service which may be able to protect him from Five Eyes kidnapping or assassination. The price of safety and an interesting life in a huge country, which is what Russia is; is that he can never ever leave the borders of Russia ever again if he wants to survive.

  8. Louis

    I agree with the critics, in the New York Times article, that nothing is going to change significantly in the housing market under President Obama’s proposed plan. The gap between wages and housing prices is going to have to be narrower than what it is right now before there is a noticeable increase in younger, first-time buyers.

    Furthermore, making it easier for people get mortgages won’t automatically solve the problem. As has been detailed here on Naked Capitalism and elsewhere, a substantial number of real-estate purchases (including housing) in recent years have utilized all-cash. Those who can’t pay all-cash, even if they have good credit and qualify for a mortgage, will remain at a serious disadvantage as long as all-cash transactions are commonplace.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Correa heads to China for financial lifeline.

    China is also extending a helping hand to her northern neighbor.

    How? She can’t create the needed elixir, that is, she can’t print unlimited imperial money or, in fact, any at all. The key is that she has been a very good worker nation, a good supplier to the empire and has earned enough to help these nations now.

    And that’s the lesson for all, except the exceptional nation – work hard, make quality products and/ or hand over your natural resources, and don’t worry you won’t get paid, because…well, because the empire can print as much as you need.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Emerging market debt…could balloon…in a flash.

    I believe only the empire can afford to never borrow in another currency.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Those Protesting Harvard Professors Have a Point Helaine Olen, Slate

    Not much here that NC readers have not known and discussed for months, if not years.

    But here’s a little gem that’s conspicuously unmentioned, from the Washington Examiner, in an article titled:”Half of Obamacare subsidy recipients may owe refunds to the IRS:”

    “Tax preparers, who frequently advertise their ability to deliver big refunds, have been working feverishly to avoid customer anger stemming from lower-than-expected refunds due to insurance premiums. They also are trying to make sure customers understand the potential fines for not having insurance.”

    That’s H&R Block talking. Not exactly a tax preparation lightweight.

    And with regard to that little issue of “balance billing,” I’m thinking of printing up some stickers that can be affixed to the back of Obamacare insurance cards. The wording would go something like this:

    “I explicitly refuse consent for ANY and ALL treatment, drugs, devices and lab tests not in-network as defined by this insurance policy. I’m telling you here and now, that, should you ignore this warning, I will NOT be paying the bill–it will be on you, the unauthorized provider. If you don’t have an in-network anesthesiologist, tell me NOW and I’ll find somewhere else to have my surgery. This notice applies regardless of my level of consciousness.”

    What do you think?

    1. cwaltz

      Don’t limit your market to just Obamacare. We have private insurance and took our son to an in network ER when he had a high fever. The doctor was not in network so while my co pay was $75 the bill for the ER doctor was over a grand. Adding insult to injury I don’t think we even saw the guy for the first visit he billed us for and I ended up making a second trip and insisting that they pump some fluids into my kiddo to help pull the fever down. Grrrrrr just thinking about it is aggravating.

  12. OIFVet

    Milton Friedman lives! First, UChicago privatized a public street to build a monument to old uncle Miltie. Now, it wants to privatize public parkland so Obama could build a monument to himself: U. of C. Obama Library Pitch Includes 20 Acres of Parkland. In a statement Wednesday, the university said the Obama Foundation, tasked with recommending a site to the president, was given 20 options by the university and chose parkland over other sites because it would be accessible and not displace residents. Yeah right, as if the residents of the extremely poor neighborhoods at either park won’t be displaced once gentrification begins.

  13. Jackrabbit

    Strange how “ISIS: the inside story” neglects to discuss how it was/is funded/supported.

    From what I’ve been able to piece together, Al Queda in Iraq was all but defeated but offered their services as mercenaries (indirectly and covertly, of course): to KSA to counter Iran-supported Shia in Iraq and to Qatar for toppling Syria’s Assad. Then they brought in the former Iraqi military leaders to add to their abilities.

    I still find it hard to believe that they are not STILL getting support from other countries. For example, they appear to have played upon Turkey’s anti-Kurd stance, and the failure of the “Fee Syrian Army” makes them even more valuable against Syria. Plus, they have become important in the Iran talks as a threat that the US could help with – or not. And, if there is no deal with Iran on nukes, then ISIS seems like a convenient vehicle for attacking Iranian/Iranian-linked interests that would please both Israelis and Sunnis.

    So US/Western hyperventilating over the ISIS threat is just BS and goes hand-in-hand with the ‘blowback’ from Imperial CHAOS! rebuff to those who seek a deeper understanding. It seems clear that our “allies in the region” find ISIS, and the extremism that allows it to thrive, to be useful.

    H O P

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    UBS turns to artificial intelligence to advise clients.

    I would one-up it by offering artificial love as well.

    “Here, at our great bank, you get both artificial intelligence and artificial love (because both are more efficient and cost less than human intelligence and human love).

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Only if you can inspire your bank’s artificial confidence, which, the developer’s goal is to make it cost less than human confidence..

  15. Left in Wisconsin

    Re: Nighttime Must-Read: Larry Mishel: American Wages Have Stagnated Brad DeLong

    Highly recommended. Not sure why the link goes to DeLong’s blog rather than the original. Perhaps because New Republic? You have to click through from DeLong anyway:

    1. jrs

      If American wages have stagnated does that mean working people have achieved a steady state economy?

  16. ewmayer

    Re. the new “miracle antibiotic”, I saw the same story via Reuters:

    Scientists find antibiotic that kills bugs without resistance | Reuters

    “Without resistance” is overblown – compare to what the discoverers actually say:

    Co-researcher, Bonn’s Tanya Schneider, explained in a teleconference that teixobactin belongs to a new class of compounds and kills bacteria by causing their cell walls to break down. It seems to work by binding to multiple targets, she said, which may slow down the development of resistance.

    Prediction: If the new compound ever does pass human trials, it will quickly become so over- and mis-used that resistance will develop nonetheless. The only long-term solution here is to drastically cut our overuse of antibiotics, in both human medicine and animal husbandry.

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