Links 2/16/15

“We Honestly Have No Fucking Idea What We’re Doing”, Admits Leading Quantum Physicist Waterford Whispers News (David L)

Hachiko, Japan’s most loyal dog, finally reunited with owner in new statue in Tokyo Japan Today (furzy mouse)

Japanese Sex Hotels Cater to All Kinds of Fetishes, Even Hello Kitty S&M Wired (Chuck L)

Victim told to write to vicious attacker or face jail herself Telegraph (Chuck L)

Human Traffickers Caught on Hidden Internet Scientific American

The revolution wasn’t televised: The early days of YouTube Mashable (Chuck L)


Tiny Quakes Linked to Fracking Raise Risks, Geophysicist Says NBC (David L)

‘Shadow biosphere’ might be hiding strange life right under our noses Science. Nikki: “Sensational, BBC-type science title, which is unfortunate. This is a short yet interesting examination to different approaches for discovering life; dovetails on the ‘what is life?’ question.”

HIV strain that becomes AIDS in 3 years identified in Cuba New York Daily News (Stephen M)

The end zone: The nation’s favourite entertainment faces many charges. One of them will finish it Economist

German economic policy is hurting Europe, the world, and itself Business Insider (David L)


Greek rebellion greeted by left and right as ‘kick in the ass’ for Euro elites Independent (Stephen M)

Weimar and Greece, Continued Paul Krugman (martha r)

This Week Is The Latest Deadline For The Greek Euro Deal And The View From Germany Forbes

Prospect theory and Crimea IrRussianality (Chuck L)

Greek Postwar Alliances Show Europe Has More to Lose Than Money Bloomberg. FYI this is the lead story at Bberg right now, and not good reporting. For instance, it says that Greece has until the 28th to work out a deal with the Eurogroup, when they in fact have to agree tomorrow, due to the lead time in Finland and Germany for parliamentary approvals. Moreover, not only did the Greece foreign minister climb down when someone at NATO barked at him about making Russian-friendly noises, but the foreign objects of Greece’s gestures don’t take them seriously either, see: ‘Grexit?’ Easier said than done Global Times

Ireland takes hard line on Greece austerity programme Financial Times. This does not bode well for Monday’s meeting, needless to say. Stockholm syndrome in action.

Επιστολή στον Πρόεδρο της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής κ. Ζαν Κλωντ Γιούνκερ. Nikki: “Letter to Juncker from Assoc. of Greek judges and prosecutors. French version below the Greek.”

Scottish Labour MPs threaten to bar Ed Miliband from campaigning in their seats Telegraph

São Paulo Facing “Drastic” Water Rationing to Save Cantareira System Folha de S. Paulo (furzy mouse)


Russia Creates Its Own Payment System Ian Welsh (martha r)

The Government Is Losing Territory In Eastern Ukrainians’ Hearts And Minds Buzzfeed

Russia Has No Choice But to Continue Gas Route Through Ukraine Moscow Times (furzy mouse)

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is part of a broader, and more dangerous, confrontation with the West Business Insider (David L). Projection via official messaging….


Westerners join Iraqi Christian militia to fight ISIS Al Arabiya

NYT Commits Orange Jumpsuit Trademark Infringement Moon of Alabama (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Feds unveil commercial drone rules The Hill (furzy mouse)

Storytelling ability connected Brian Williams with viewers but also led to his downfall Washington Post. Normally, I’d treat this as just part of an already over-reported story, save for this accurrate tweet: “The sheer number of lies Brian Williams has reportedly told borders on pathological. This WashPost story is stunning.”

‘Ferguson everywhere’: Hundreds protest cops killing Latino worker in Washington RT (Nikki)

Police Officer Charged With Assault In Arrest That Paralyzed Indian Man Unable To Communicate With Officers Jonathan Turley (Nikki)

Republican lawmaker: Childbirth resulting from rape is “beautiful” CBS (Stephen M)

3 mentally ill disabled missing in cold NYC NYC Office of Emergency Management. Yves: It’s now 5 degrees outside with high winds. Martha r: “I’ve seen 3 postings on my twitter feed from 6, 7 hours ago of 2 schizo, 1 blind person missing. I’ve never seen this kind of posting before on this feed. I fear they are lost outside in the cold. I mention this simply because there is a total absence of any such reporting as far as i know in current media. It’s heartbreaking that these vulnerable people may have no one to ensure they are safe indoors.”

Class Warfare

The Richest Cities for Young People: 1980 vs. Today Atlantic

The Knowledge, London’s Legendary Taxi-Driver Test, Puts Up a Fight in the Age of GPS New York Times. From last year, still of interest.

‘Culture Crash’ by Scott Timberg: dark side to digital disruption Financial Times (David L). Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Ned Ludd

    Nukes Ready to Fly

    Taking the latest data available from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists we have constructed a graph of instantly available launch devices – missiles with nuclear warheads installed and ready to fly or drop.

    (via Hacker News)

    The outer blue rings represent the United States arsenal, and the outermost red rings represent Russia’s arsenal.

    1. Yonatan

      Do they take the effect of the US’ ‘missile defense system’ into account? Its whole purpose (in the minds of the designers) is to allow the US to wipe out the limited number of Russia’s missiles surviving a US first strike? Russia’s response is to move to ‘launch on warning’. For extra spice there is no longer a hotline between the US and Russia.

      1. Jagger

        —–Do they take the effect of the US’ ‘missile defense system’ into account?—

        For some reason, I have these nagging reservations about whether the “missile defense system” actually works. And unfortunately, you really need pretty much 100% efficency when it comes to knocking nuclear ballistic missiles out of the air. If ten of a hundred nuclear missiles makes it through the defense system, America won’t be America anymore.

        1. craazyboy

          I heard a number like 20% effective – 5 magic missiles to one incoming ICBM falling at Mach 15-20. In the real world, even with the Commies’ reduced arsenal, the ratio is far, far the other way.

          Then again, I have no confidence that the 20% number I heard is correct. I think this might be classified info, too…so hard to know. But Mach 15 is very, very fast.

          I know there are some lurking here that keep up with our military hardware much more closely than I, so maybe they know better.

          1. Jagger

            And bare in mind that one ballistic missile can carry multiple nuclear warheads. For example, a MIRV ballistic missile can carry from 3-12 nuclear warheads with each having separate targets.

            Realistically, anti-ballistic missile defense systems are just a joke today considering the damage done by just one MIRV slipping through. But poking around and putting a nuclear armed Russia on hair trigger alert is not a joke. It is criminal.

              1. ambrit

                It will be quite worse than neo-feudalism. Back then, the social order had the Church to act as an arbiter. A new collapse will leave the West with a discredited religion, Science. This perfectly embodies Conrads’ “Fascination of the abomination.”

                  1. ambrit

                    I have read this argument before. If we were arguing before a panel of tenured academics, I would have to concede the point. We are speaking in a venue frequented by an educated population. The term Feudalism has certain meanings and inferences within the general educated public that does not fully mesh with the “official” definition of the term. Most people here, I will argue, use the more expansive usage of the term Feudalism. In this sense, the word Feudalism connotes a philosophy of governance, not an actual particular system of governance. One could argue that the act of a State delegating rights and authority to a private corporation in return for certain payments and political support is a form of infeudation. Those who work for the corporation can be considered subinfeudants, otherwise known as vassals. Sound far fetched? Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations enjoy the rights of natural persons, not so far fetched at all.

                    1. Jack

                      Calling it neo-feudalism is as good a term as any I suppose, I think most people understand the gist of what it means and view it as a bad thing, but the fact remains that there never was a single system, or philosophy, of medieval feudalism. Some places at certain times did have a functional pyramid of power with a King at the top who gave out land in exchange for work, but plenty of places didn’t.

                      The modern conception of feudalism (including the very term itself) was always based on a foundation of sand. It was primarily based on one single document, the Libri Feudorum, which was a 12th century Lombard compilation of legal customs. The standard myth of feudalism was based on three assumptions: 1. that the Libri Feudorum was actually an accurate catalog of real-world practices and not simply the authors imagined ideal, 2. that if it was a reflection of the real-world it represented the social order of the majority of medieval Europe and not just one section of Northern Italy, and 3. that they could project it back entire centuries and assume that things operated more or less the same in the period before the 12th century.

                      All of these assumptions ran right up against a brick wall of actual evidence for any specific time-and-place of study, so that virtually every individual historian ended up devising their own different, usually mutually (and sometimes even internally) contradictory definitions of feudalism in an effort to make the concept of a single coherent system of rule line up with the evidence of whatever tiny slice of medieval history they were studying. Once it was finally suggested that ‘feudalism’ was largely a modern construct that shackled medieval scholarship most of the profession happily dumped it altogether.

              2. craazyboy

                “So which is worse, a Neocon gifting us with the mess in the Middle East and the Ukraine or a Neolib gifting us with neofeudalism?”‘

                Both. Which is what we have. They just take turns with their hand on the steering wheel of the great ship of state.

  2. Yonatan

    It’s great how dogs pay no attention to the coat color of others dogs. A dog is a dog is a smell to be smelled.

  3. ProNewerDeal

    any ACA or ACA-tax-filing-related news, now that the Feb. 15 ACA signup deadline passed?

    IIRC last year after the ACA Apr 15 signup deadline, the 0bama Admin/HHS tried to “quietly” take some bogus actions, iirc indefinitely delaying the Employer Mandate, & canning the HHS Secretary Sebelius who 0bama had been praising as competent during the website failures.

    BTW what is the status of the Employer Mandate? I assume it is a joke that will never actually take effect, it will be cancelled or indefinitely delayed.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Prescient insight on the employer mandate — aka the Corporate Option. In very neat symmetry, Corporate Option was predestined to replace the entirely optional Public Option. And of course, in the extremely unlikely event that the employer mandate were ever actually enforced, it would, unlike the personal mandate, which applies to non-corporate corporeal persons exclusively, be forthwith struck down by the Supine Court of the United States. Confused anyone? Nevermind; it’s above your pay-grade.

  4. steviefinn

    Yes Ireland’s Troika lapdogs are cracking down with dawn raids on water protesters. The ‘ Shinners ‘ (Sinn Fein) are riding high in the polls which is another possible risk for future tensions. I don’t think Adams & McGuinness will ever give up on a United Ireland, which with there likely increase in influence will cause tensions with the Ulster Unionists. Add to this more austerity & I am pretty sure that the truth is – that only a fool would predict what a map of Ireland or Europe would look like in say 10 years time.

    I am going to leave Northern Ireland anyhow – just in case.

  5. Ned Ludd

    Despairing Labour MPs north of the border tell The Telegraph they want a coalition to be ruled out…” Surely, they mean a coalition with the Tories.

    The Labour leader and his Scottish counterpart, Jim Murphy, are also coming under pressure from MPs to publicly rule out doing a post-election deal with SNP.

    Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, upped the anti this week by suggesting she is willing to help get Mr Miliband into Number 10 even if Labour gets less votes that the Tories – providing he agrees to radically scale back austerity cuts.

    Is a “grand coalition” a possibility in the U.K., after the next elections? Maybe Labour will take the place of the LibDems, supporting the next Cameron ministry.

    1. Ed

      A “grand coalition”, similar to the CDU-SDP coalitions in Germany, between the Tories and Labor is in fact the most likely outcome of the 2015 elections in the UK. It will happen if the voting goes as the current polls are indicating. There is still a chance of the Tories, or more likely Labor, getting an outright majority, so I would put the chances of the grand coalition happening at 50-50.

      My argument is that the coalition of major party plus minor party everyone is thinking of doesn’t work in the current political context is and out of date. Since the Liberal Democrats and its antecedents fall somewhere in between the Conservatives and Labor on most scales, every assumes that either major party would prefer to do a deal with the Lib Dems than with each other. That was true, but when the Lib Dems finally entered into a coalition, the action turned out to be so unpopular that they will get only a small number of seats this time. Since the Lib Dems are now part of the government, the protest vote is going to other minor parties. It can’t go to the other governing party, or the party that had been the government, for over a decade, until five years ago.

      The result is that between them, UKIP, the Greens, the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, and the Northern Ireland parties will take enough seats that neither the Conservatives or Labor will be able to get a majority either by themselves or with the Lib Dems (though as I said earlier there is still a chance either big party can still get a majority by themselves). But the Conservatives and UKIP are competitors for the same populist right wing vote, and Labor and the SNP are head to head competitors in Scotland (by the way the Tories are pro-EU, though they try to give the impression otherwise). The last thing the Tories want is to give UKIP more credibility, and the same goes with Labor and the SNP, if Labor makes real concessions to the SNP it can kiss goodby to any chance of coming back in Scotland. So you won’t see a Conservative-UKIP or a Labor-SNP deal.

      A Conservative-SNP deal goes to far against what had been part of the central identity of both groups. A Labor government, supported by UKIP, is an interesting option. Labor had been against British participation in what became the EU in the 1970s and 1980s, and now that the EU bureaucracy is becoming the ubercapitalist bogeyman its critics on the left predicted in those decades, an imaginative Labor government could take the UK out of the EU without losing too much ideological consistency. I just don’t think the Labor leadership is that imaginative. Either party could do a deal with the Greens, but the Greens are just unlikely to gain enough seats even with an increased vote (and they are the natural competitors to the Lib Dems, who would probably have to get roped into that coalition). Tories plus the Democratic Unionists in Northern Ireland is a possibility.

      So I see the math and the alignments heading towards a Conservative-Labor coalition. With the Liberal Democrats so weak -and they could be included anyway- such a government would not have to worry about an electoral rival emerging for at least one electoral cycle. And a Conservative-Labor coalition got the UK through World War 2, so there is a precedent.

      1. William C

        If British politicians put the national good first, a Lab-Con alliance could come about. The question is how much importance do they attach to the national welfare?

    1. cwaltz

      His comment was creepy and typical of someone who has never been forcibly harmed. The article that really disturbed me though was the article where the victim of domestic abuse was forced by the justice system to converse with someone who almost killed her because she had kids with him.

    2. Jack

      I’m actually going to defend him on this one. What’s he’s saying is that the baby is a baby like any other, it’s completely blameless. It never chose to be created through rape. That isn’t a justification for banning abortion however, since a zygote isn’t a baby.

  6. Joe Lamport

    There’s a good review of Scott Timberg’s book by Evan Kindley in Slate. Kindley makes a pretty convincing case that Timberg has really missed the point by focusing entirely on the destructive side of the equation and not paying heed to the enormous benefits that have flowed from the disruption undergone by the so-called creative class in recent years. What all this disruption means still remains to be seen – but along with the many thousands of jobs that have been lost there are many new ones that have been created. And the fact that traditional publishing companies and magazines have lost their grip on the market is not necessarily a bad thing since it has given rise to many new pathways for creative goods to find their way into the market.

    What strikes me about the current dynamic is how it both favors monopoly power (as evident from the increasing grip of Amazon on the marketplace) while also providing individuals an increasing degree of control over the ultimate outcome of their creative efforts. True enough, it may not be as easy for mid-list authors to hang on to their mid-list incomes in the current environment. But perhaps it’s better for the overall health of our cultural enterprise for the creative class to be less beholden to any form of corporate sponsorship and more reliant on their own energies for survival.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      1. The new jobs are almost entirely at lower wages

      2. Unenemployment and underemployment wages remain high

      3. In entire swathes of professions (IT, the law, accounting), there are hardly any entry level positions. Technology has allowed them to be outsourced to India. So the ability of young people to develop the skills and experience needed to become a well paid professional are very thin. The entire economy is being restructured to have fewer, better paid roles at the top at the expense of the middle. You even acknowledge that.

      4. Your argument about mid list authors is utterly ridiculous. I never would have written ECONNED without a publisher and an advance. It has also been deemed to be one of the 100 best economics books ever written. ECONNED was a mid list book and your position amounts to “mid list writers should go die”. Mid list books were the bread and butter of publishing, and they are also important sources of information, historically and intellectually. So you are also effectively arguing for a cultural dumbing down and loss of codification of knowledge and experience..

      You try to depict independence as romantic. It isn’t. Individuals don’t even being to have the resources to navigate a landscape dominated by large corporations. For you to pretend they can is absurd. Further, your bizarre and misguided idealization of self reliance flies in the face of the basic premise of the Industrial Revolution: specialization of labor. “Being less beholden to corporate sponsorship” means a writer has to do their own marketing, book layout, find their own indexer (and pay for all of the above). It’s a waste of their time and skills as writers, and is enough in and of itself to deter a writer from producing a book.

    2. Carolinian

      The Slate link.

      The causes of what Timberg terms “the killing of the creative class”—the murder suspects, if you will—include a long tradition of American “anti-aestheticism” going back to the Puritans; cuts to public funding for the arts beginning in Reagan’s 1980s; rising rents and vanishing public space in urban centers; the weakening of the church-state wall between editorial and advertising in journalism; theory-besotted academic “intellectuals … speaking in tongues”; the decline of mainstream respect for “middlebrow” culture; the pernicious critical influence of Pauline Kael

      Kael came to the University of SC a long time ago and a professor I know and his colleague jousted with her over dinner. When informed that the professor was a Rhodes scholar she replied “don’t they all work in the State Department?” Kael was my kind of woman.

      It should be said that even back in the supposed golden age of the “creative class” the famous Kael was only paid $800 per article (so she complained) and had to give talks at places like USC to support herself. Says Kindley

      There is, ultimately, an unnerving sense of entitlement to Culture Crash, well-intentioned as it is, and that entitlement is largely generational. The real sting in the tail of Timberg’s polemic is not, as he would have us believe, that things are worse for creative people than they’ve ever been before. It’s that things are considerably worse than they were 20 years ago…..This is a reasonable thing to worry about. But it’s not a new thing to worry about, and despite the dewy nostalgia on almost every page of Culture Crash I’m not convinced that we have ever had a society that did very much better on this score. If you want a world where creativity is a viable life pursuit, the way is forward, not back. The dream of the ’90s is not enough.

      Check out the link. Kindley’s Slate piece is dead on.

      1. Jim

        As greater and greater portions of the middle and creative classes experience downward mobility the future political ramifications appear up for grabs.

        The options for experiencing the luxury of earning a respectable income while operating on the relative margins of society are dwindling fast.

        It would be nice to think that at some point the courage to begin anew collectively(in a political sense) might eventually erupt dispite the economic squeeze. Is this likely?

        The New Left of the 1960s was not capable of formulating a persuasive radical politics which recognized our individual capacity to exteriorize our uniqueness even in a climate of relative economic affluence.

        Part of the reason for its collapse was the mistaken belief that politics can be reduced to some sort of right comprehension of knowledge.

        Democracy seems closely linked to human difference and a future democratic politics must be capable of expressing that type of pluralism of resistance.

  7. MartyH

    The giant admission by a leading physicist that they have no clue is nowhere near as important as the announcement of Guinness Sport, Guinness as a sports-enhancement drink to compete with Gatorade, etc.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Good catch. The links often lack such critical proportionality. The real scientific breakthru here is that alcohol is the ultimate performance-enhancer, though moonshine may well displace Guiness in lab tests.

      1. Ned Ludd

        The term “mountain dew” could return to its traditional meaning.

        Well my brother Bill’s got a still on the hill
        Where he runs off a gallon or two
        The buzzards in the sky get so drunk, they can’t fly
        From smellin’ that good ole mountain dew

        Oh they call it that ole mountain dew
        And them that refuse it are few
        I’ll shut up my mug if you fill up my jug
        With some good ole mountain dew

        Grandpa Jones

    2. Jack

      QUANTUM physicist. Quantum mechanics is the study of how things work on the smallest of scales, and lots of weird things happen down there, and their apparent randomness is probably because of a combination of limitations inherent to our 3 dimensional existence and that we’re approaching the limits of what our up-jumped poo-throwing and tree-climbing brains can comprehend. Fields that deal with physics on scales that actually matter to humans, whether it be engineering or orbital mechanics, know exactly what they’re doing.

    1. steviefinn

      Yes, mass protests of the angry, desperate & now obviously disenfranchised makes much more sense.

      What doesn’t bend breaks.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Varoufakis has an op-ed in the New York Times that I think perfectly explains the situation and his agenda.

      1. aletheia33

        yes. admirable and rare clarity of word and mind, and even rarer, heart. if i were say, 20, right now (knowing everything i have learned since, of course), i would be tracking him to get an instant alert when/if he returns to academia and where, and scheming how to get into one of his courses, anywhere, anyhow. hopefully without having to mortgage my entire future to do so. maybe he would let me audit. i would certainly be on the lookout anyway for good economics teachers who can explain the complexities of EU and world finance in clear, accessible english.
        oh, wait…
        thanks YS, LS, and YV!

  8. Chuck

    The piece about the nuclear physicist is from a satirical website. Other than some humor or sarcasm I doubt there is much newsworthy or factual to be found there.

    1. drexciya

      Well, with any good satire, there is always a bit of truth to it. Modern physics is so obscure (string theory anyone?) that there is a lot of room for discussion, but the current leading school of physics isn’t always open for discussion. Also, quantum physics was initially met with something close to hostility, and became accepted partly because it could better predict the strange things going on at the (sub-)atomic level. There’s always a danger in losing yourself in mathematical models, while there are totally different things going on. Modern physics is somewhat in danger of losing itself in obscure theories which are very hard to even verify.

      1. Andrew Foland

        There’s a lot of discussion among phyisicsts on the topic of string theory. See e.g. Not Even Wrong, which is very heavily trafficked among practicing, professional physicists.

        It is a common (I haven’t polled carefully enough to say necessarily majority) view among physicists that string theory (and multiverse conjecture) is simply unscientific. Even quantum mechanics–which, except for the boundary with general relativity, is not really up for discussion–still has very active discussion about the formulation of its mathematical foundations.

        Generally speaking, physicsts are very aware of where there are weaknesses and obscurities, and those form the basis of many discussions.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The ethical response when faced with such obscurities and weaknesses is to not conduct high energy (bordering on the order of magnitude of those at the creation of the universe, assuming the universe has not been around forever, as was covered in a recent link) experiments.

          1. Andrew Foland

            The collisions of high-energy physics are not happening for the first (or even ten billionth) time in this universe; all that’s happening in these collisions is that they’re being instrumented and reported on by humans for the first time.

    2. Chuck

      My concern is merely that unless otherwise designated as humor or satire there will undoubtedly be those that take this piece seriously. That’s all.

      If it’s not really news but instead a fabrication it should be designated as such.

      1. Jake Mudrosti

        It’s humor — but in its own way it’s less absurd than the actual state of things. Art Hobson, who has already sold many textbooks on physics concepts, has spent the past couple years working on a layman’s quantum mechanics textbook. In an AAPT forum, it was pointed out to him that:

        — his language was internally inconsistent (resulting in hilarious circular definitions: “the electron is the field” & “the electron is an epiphenomemon of the field”)
        — his use of key terms differed from other notable usages in the history of quantum mechanics interpretation, distorting the meanings
        — key omissions and implicit definitions were pedagogically harmful
        — in his earlier published paper on quantum mechanics pedagogy, he had somehow spun himself into an unrecoverable confusion by (among other things) the English word “is.”
        His reaction was to slam the discussion closed, and to not respond to any criticisms.
        His book sales trump any attention to the field’s foundations, see?

        We often see dedicated journalists heave heavy sighs at the sorry state of crapified “journalism.” Look beyond the self-promoting self-described science enthusiasts, and there are plenty of unseen unheard scientists heaving heavy sighs at the current sorry state of their fields. Huge efforts from, e.g., J.J. Sakurai or Max Jammer, will remain unappreciated, as the current generation will insist on veering away from the field’s foundations (in Sakurai’s wry words: “…we see a number of sophisticated, yet uneducated, theoreticians…”.

  9. lolcar

    Business Insider on Russia is quite the piece.

    Mr Putin’s most devious strategy, however, is to destabilise the EU through fringe political parties (see box on previous page). Russia’s approach to ideology is fluid: it supports both far-left and far-right groups. As Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss put it in “The menace of unreality”, a paper on Russian soft power: “The aim is to exacerbate divides [in the West] and create an echo-chamber of Kremlin support.”

    I don’t know what planet you have to live on to think that the rise of alternative parties in Europe has much to do with Russia rather than the perma-Depression decreed by the banking elite for everyone living south of the Alps. And if you take the trouble to read Pomerantsev and Weiss, where you would expect to find hard facts and figures on how much, from what Russian organizations, and to whom political donations are flowing you find such bombshells as

    University College London’s Anton Shekhovtsov, who specializes in the European far right, cites the example of how Jörg Haider, the now-deceased leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, accepted 900,000 euros worth of bribes to help Russian businessmen with their residency permits.

    Haider died in 2008 but Putin has obviously being playing the long game and where anyone else would just hand over a brown paper bag of cash, Putin maintains perfect deniability by laundering his payments through the residence permits of dodgy Russian businessmen. If that’s the best example of Russian influence-mongering amongst European fringe parties that they can come up with nothing more needs to be said.

    They actually have more examples of contacts between figures close to Putin and the leadership of the European establishment parties, Cameron, for instance. What do you think, he’s bought and paid for by the Kremlin, or just a raving hypocrite ?

    1. hunkerdown

      Hadn’t we first better deal with the ridiculous conceit that the institutions of mass communication are so abundant and cheap to be wasted on such counterproductive ends as enabling a mass of people to act in their own interest against those who have secured the privilege of managing the media?

      Or, put another way, why would you think performative speech is meant to reflect reality, rather than to create it?

  10. Jackrabbit

    Russia Creates Its Own Payment System Ian Welsh (martha r)

    The neolibcon quest for NWO domination is a commercial disaster. We are quickly losing our advantages in financial and tech industries as BRICS and other countries do what they can to spur development of alternatives.

    PAX Americana quietly became toxic – and we will ALL pay the price when the bill comes due. Meanwhile, the unreality industry allows neolibcons ‘space’ for more desperate adventures.


    It is not unpatriotic (in fact, just the opposite!) to point out how crony corruption, the economic mal-investment of financial bubbles, elite hubris, ‘in-the-tank’ MSM, and foreign belligerence, and other ills have created a man-made ‘perfect storm’ for the US/West.

    H O P

    1. aletheia33

      just a small quibble–exactly when was pax americana not yet quietly (or noisily) toxic?
      during the interval when the manhattan project was conceived and when the atom bomb was loaded on the plane embarking for japan?
      or during the interval when the atom bomb was descending from the plane toward hiroshima?
      perhaps these intervals, falling within the runup to the pax, could be counted as within its span.
      or perhaps one might argue that it was still benign during the interval between WWII’s end and the establishment of the CIA.

  11. fresno dan

    “We Honestly Have No Fucking Idea What We’re Doing”, Admits Leading Quantum Physicist Waterford Whispers News (David L)
    I knew it!!!


    And along those lines:
    “Even for randomized controlled trials [considered the gold standard of evidence in medicine and beyond] we have empirical evidence about their modest replication. We have data suggesting only about half of the trials registered [on public databases so people know they were done] are published in journals. Among those published, only about half of the outcomes the researchers set out to study are actually reported. Then half — or more — of the results that are published are interpreted inappropriately, with spin favoring preconceptions of sponsors’ agendas. If you multiply these levels of loss or distortion, even for randomized trials, it’s only a modest fraction of the evidence that is going to be credible.”

    I commented a few days ago with regard to an article detailing FDA flaws (which were all true) – but the above gets at a much more fundamental, intractable problem – “crapification” – journals have to publish, researchers have to research, and there is a very human tendency that there has to be “success” – which pervasively,or ironically (take your pick) leads to actual progress in medical advancement being undermined.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Courageous admission by that scientist. So, it’s not just engineers who are given science a bad name. Scientists conducting high-energy experiments also have no ideas what they are doing – thus, we are confronted with the likelihood they will rip the very fabric of the universe or destroy the cosmos.

      It’s a possibility, and a reasonable conclusion, because ‘we honestly have NO F*ING IDEA what we are doing,’ quote unquote.

      Now, here is a brief cost-benefit analysis:

      Probability of an event x damage of such an event = probable cost

      Damage of a destroyed universe ? Infinity.

      And the probability of you exhaling? Well, I think it’s zero. Zero times infinity is zero.

      The probability of high energy experiment destroying the universe? Because we don’t know what we are doing, it’s likely non-zero. And the probable cost = non-zero (finite, however small) times infinity = infinite.

      Thus, the rational choice is to ban all high-energy experiments.

      1. Jake Mudrosti

        LHC treatment in popular media is a great launching point for a discussion of science literacy vs. science enthusiasm among science journalists & editors. (For example, websites such as BoingBoing did much to spread some of the dumbest LHC reporting.)

        As an antidote, here’s a CERN link to some of the actual excellent analyses regarding LHC safety:

        …and here’s an excellent CERN talk by John Ellis on the paper’s main results, with some bonus cultural commentary:

        The fact that this paper exists is actually very important. In direct contrast, viewers of the series “The Big Bang Theory” would have heard LHC disasters referred to as a genuine scientific concern. This highlights the problem when a demonstrably delusional UCLA physicist [references provided upon request] is given a popular platform as a series “science consultant.” Poof! From the public’s perspective, gone is all the excellent hard work, and all that’s left is ignorance and delusion.

  12. Butch In Waukegan

    This John Oliver segment (about the US empire’s opium war) is actually a preview of what we’re in for if Obama’s various trade deals are implemented. Note Honduras and Ukraine are dutifully playing their part.

  13. cnchal

    Would the Economist magazine be considered part of the MSM? I would say yes.

    Clearly the writer and editor of “The end zone” article do not understand the difference between give and take.

    Here is the first line.

    BY THE time it is over, more than half a billion chickens will have given their lives so that their wings might be dipped in barbecue sauce.

    Those generous chickens, giving their lives so that the Stupid Bowl experience can be perfect.

  14. rich

    Arctic Port Expansion to Deepen PEU Ties?

    Rogoff Rubenstein is in a unique position to profit from her vision, as owner of two Alaska news organizations and Senior Advisor to Pt Capital, an Arctic focused private equity underwriter (PEU).
    Where there’s federal money one frequently finds a PEU. It’s no surprise that Alaska insiders and modern day robber barons have positioned themselves for massive profits.

    Bloomberg reported Pt Capital’s and Guggenheim Partners’ interest in the region. Their piece from April 2014 offered Carlyle’s latest head fake:

    Pensions + Investments tells a different story on Carlyle’s interest in Alaska. This comes from July 2013:

    Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., Juneau, committed a total of up to $1.75 billion to Carlyle Group and Blackstone Group, with half of the money committed to co-investments

    Surely the Alaska Permanent Fund has expectations that some of its investments occur in state and that they benefit citizens. Alice Rogoff Rubenstein and her husband David are intertwined with Alaska and its future, be it infrastructure, energy, real estate or other.

    Managing the narrative is critical, thus it helps to control major news sources. Garnering federal, state and local subsidies is the PEU way. It’s currently in play in Alaska.

  15. Brian

    regarding life; Should we be so confident that life requires a sun for its creation? Wouldn’t energy of almost any type be a catalyst? Could we recognize life that moved faster than we can perceive? Does it have to move to qualify to us? Try a bit of “A Mission of Gravity” by Hal Clement as an example of life not as we know it. There remain thousands more questions than answers about life, for we simply aren’t exposed to enough to do much more than guess. We are not yet certain what life or catalyst came to our planet from outside our tiny shell, so we will remain ignorant, for a while.

    1. diptherio

      Highly recommend the movie Flatland (2007)–available in full on Yewtoob. It’s a head-f—, but in a good way, and will have you wondering about what exactly 4th dimensional beings might be like, and how we would be able to interact with them, if at all.

    2. optimader

      “Could we recognize life that moved faster than we can perceive? Does it have to move to qualify to us?”
      Everything “moves”, so that is not much of a qualification for life.

      Considering we perceive light, which is the upper limit of “speed” ( in a vacuum anyway), it would seem speed is not a qualification for our perception, no?

      Considering Stars are fusion reactions working their way through the periodic table down to an iron core it is difficult to conceive that “life” as currently defined existing in such an environment.

      All life here on Earth is certainly a consequence of solar energy whether it be realtime conversion (photosynthesis) or stored energy consumers like fungus or more complex biology living off the emissions from hydrothermal vents (chemosynthesis).

  16. Inverness

    I’m not surprised that Brian Williams kept getting a pass, even when there were so many holes and gaps in his “storytelling.” Once you’re in the club, you often get to stay in the club. Humble origins aside, he got to sit with the big boys in the network chair. The Washington Post story is telling: there are those who are willing to cover for him, and help him “get back on his feet.” Yet this is clearly a case of incompetence in reporting.

    I’m reminded of Kim Philby, a far more serious liar, obviously. He was an outright traitor for the USSR, while spying for British M16. He was barely suspected by the M16, until it was just so incredibly obvious that he was a mole, the third man after the defection of Guy Burgess. Yet even when he was found out, the heads of M16 let Philby slip out of Beirut quietly for the USSR, ostensibly to avoid embarassment for the British government, and also quite probably, as a way of protecting one of of their own. To quote Nicholas Elliott of the M16, of course they didn’t try to grab Philby as a target for execution. According to John Le Carre, who both worked for the M15, and interviewed Elliot, “(Philby) was one of us, old chap.”

  17. docg

    Gee, why don’t we launch an inquiry into the tales told by every newscaster, every anchor, every journalist, beginning with reporters for the Washington Post and other journals currently dumping on Brian Williams? I’ve never seen such a heap of trivial “accusations” in my life. He actually rescued only ONE puppy, not two? Claimed he saw a body floating that no one else saw? Got a bit confused over incidents that took place years ago? Call in a special prosecutor, this guy is out of control!

    1. Inverness

      Hmm. Seems that a reporter should be able to keep the facts relatively straight. It’s all in the job title. If you cannot find anyone to corroborate details of suicide in or around a stadium, the spread of disease, whether you were actually starving in a hotel and exposed to dystentary and floating bodies (serious details in a news story), this suggests the possibility of outright lying at worst, and incompetence at best.

      1. docg

        Well, first of all, with the exception of the helicopter mixup, which he admitted to, all the rest, in addition to being utterly trivial, are rumors. No one can say for sure what Williams actually saw and what he might have made up. But just to be sure, why don’t we appoint someone with an absolutely unimpeachable record, someone who never exaggerated, never misquoted anyone, never got confused, never fibbed, never prevaricated, and have this person launch a general inquiry into past reports and claims offered by every notable television personality?

        1. bruno marr

          …nice try.

          BW is not just any notable personality. Even BW believes he carries on the tradition of Walter Cronkite (I don’t.) BW, as noted in the article, tends to embellish. Not acceptable to do while an NBC “Anchorman”. (That’s why the six-month suspension; words matter.)

          BW’s oscillation between confidence and vulnerability may have some relation to his lack of academic achievement. He has no idea what “base level” of knowledge has been attained by his degreed colleagues.

    2. optimader

      “Gee, why don’t we launch an inquiry into the tales told by every newscaster, every anchor, every journalist, beginning with reporters for the Washington Post and other journals currently dumping on Brian Williams?”

      That’s actually an excellent idea.
      There are very few real journalists left it seems, might as well identify who they are (and who isn’t).

      As a minimum, if you cant accurately relate whether or not a helicopter was shot at/hit by a rocket (while you were in it), you’re probably not earning your $10MM/yr Talking Head fee. If a person is so insecure to feel compulsed to lie about something irrelevant (was hit by a rocket/wasn’t hit by a rocket) to the story at hand, whatever it was, how about important stories? There is probably some level of sociopathology at play to evidently not rationally consider the risk of being caught out on a claim that is easily fact checked.

      I could envision BW sitting in his media room drinking water tumblers of scotch watching and rewatching vids, of Walter Cronkite’ famous WWII B-17 newsreels. “fck, fck, fck, that’s me, that’s me! He dropped out of college, he’s no better than me!”
      He dropped out of college in his junior year, in the Fall term of 1935,[10] after starting a series of newspaper reporting jobs covering news and sports.[12] He entered broadcasting as a radio announcer for WKY in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1936, he met his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Maxwell (known by her nickname “Betsy”), while working as the sports announcer for KCMO (AM) in Kansas City, Missouri.[7][12] His broadcast name was “Walter Wilcox”.[13] He would explain later that radio stations at the time did not want people to use their real names for fear of taking their listeners with them if they left.[citation needed] In Kansas City, he joined the United Press in 1937.[12] He became one of the top American reporters in World War II, covering battles in North Africa and Europe,[7] and in 1943 turned down a job offer from Edward R. Murrow of CBS to relieve Bill Downs in Moscow.[14][15] Cronkite was one of eight journalists selected by the United States Army Air Forces to fly bombing raids over Germany in a B-17 Flying Fortress part of group called the Writing 69th,[16] and during a mission fired a machine gun at a German fighter.[17] He also landed in a glider with the 101st Airborne in Operation Market-Garden and covered the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he covered the Nuremberg trials[18] and served as the United Press main reporter in Moscow from 1946 to 1948.[19]

    3. VietnamVet

      Absurdity reaches new heights when Brian Williams is suspended by Comcast for six months for telling war stories. He never questioned the western agitprop of Russian aggression or the efficiency of austerity. He is unaware of the restart of the East West Cold War but he does know what to say to make 10 million dollars a year.

  18. bruno marr

    RE: Brian Williams / Governor Walker/ College Degree

    There are articles linked here on NC and on about BW and GW’s educational exploits (or lack therof). Brian Wiliams is reported to have attended 3 colleges without graduating. Most of the stories don’t indicate that that BW accumulated less than ONE years worth of academic credit. (That’s like saying I’m nearly a doctor after taking an advanced Biology course.) A Salon article on Governor Walker not completing his degree is no big deal. Really?! Tell that to the thousands of debt ridden near-graduates from American colleges who can’t find a job.

    You can’t exhort kids today on the need for a degree then simultaneously denigrate it’s value because a (very) few have succeeded (such as it is) without one. Those that succeed without one (Bill Gates) have in some cases shown to be thieves, not brilliant inventors.

    Some folks leave college for true extenuating circumstances. That is not the case for Brian Williams and Scott Walker. They need to own it!

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Moral conundrum.

    Dolphin child birth from rape by another dolphin – a myth?

    Monkey birth from rape by another monkey? Do we still treasure the infant? Is that life beautiful?

    Is not hard to think humans are special here. We expect more of ourselves.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Police officer charged with assault in arrest…

    A question. If you are involved in an auto accident with a police car, do you ask him/her to fill out a report?

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Ireland…hard line on Greece.

    It’s a tragedy and how much do we know about the 99.99% exploitation of other members of the 99.99%, because the 0.01% are too smart and they set up the system that way?

    1. Howard Beale IV

      Being able to bury your malware in the hard drive’s firmware and get it re-established just ups the ante that nothing is no longer safe. Too bad that many of the older non-IBM computer architectures have been scrapped for decades; they’d probably would be the safest computers on the planet right now.

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