Links 2/13/15

Crows Understand Analogies Scientific American (Chuck L)

Florida Teenager has world’s first penis REDUCTION surgery Daily Mail (Dr Kevin). Choosing to foreclose his future options as a porn star! Be sure to read the comments.

Oceans choke as plastic waste pours in at 8m tonnes a year Financial Times (furzy mouse)

Your Toothpaste Is Destroying Asia’s Rainforests Bloomberg

The Global Economy’s Chinese Headwinds Project Syndicate (David L)

Web pioneer Vint Cerf warns of internet history ‘black hole’ Financial Times

Apple Bans ‘Bonded Servitude’ at Supplier Factories Worldwide Bloomberg

Neoliberalism is our Frankenstein: Greece and Ukraine are the hot spots of a new war for supremacy Salon (Oregoncharles)

EU anti-establishment parties rise BBC

Eurozone Economy Grew 0.3% in Fourth Quarter Wall Street Journal. Um, that does round to zero.

Leaked : TTIP negotiations to constrain regulations that protect public interest failed evolution

Le Monde owner’s criticism of HSBC leak coverage lays bare fragility of press freedom Guardian (Chuck L)

Sweden cuts rates below zero as global currency wars spread Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Currency Wars Have a Nuclear Option Bloomberg


A new start for Greece Bruegel. Leading edge conventional wisdom in Germany: “A deal may still be possible but the Greek side will have to move most.”

The ECB just made a worrying move in approving more emergency liquidity for Greek banks Business Insider

Ecuador and Venezuela Extend a Hand of Friendship to Syriza teleSUR

Greece and The Greek Games: Game Theory Value Walk (Stephen M, Chuck L)). Good but dated, see today’s post on Greece for some modifications to assumptions.

Central Banks and the Bottom Line Project Syndicate (David L)


European leaders cautious over ‘Minsk II’ Financial Times

Why Putin’s Days Are Numbered Foreign Affairs. Furzy mouse: “​Um, don’t they wish!!​”

Russian Banks Look to Build Islamic Finance Knowledge in Face of Sanctions Moscow Times

Kiev’s Bloody War Is Backfiring Antiwar (furzy mouse)

Brazil faces water disaster; scientists warned it was coming UPI (Stephen M)


Congress Shows a Lack of Enthusiasm for Giving Obama War Powers to Fight ISIS New York Times (furzy mouse)

The War Nerd: Islamic State and American Narcissism Pando

U.S. Is Escalating a Secretive War in Afghanistan New York Times

Loretta Lynch is Condoleeza Rice With A Law Degree Bruce Dixon

Loretta Lynch’s HSBC Deal Facing Renewed Criticism After ICIJ Report DSWright, Firedoglake

Keystone XL Pipeline Project Vote: Oil And Gas Industry Gave $250K To Senators Who Voted ‘Yes’ International Business Times (furzy mouse)

Police in Washington state fatally shoot man who threw rocks at them Reuters (EM)

U.S. gunman kills three young Muslims; motive disputed Reuters. EM: “If a mentally-unstable Muslim killed 3 young Christians, would we be seeing delicate wording like ‘motive dispured’ in the headlines and studious avoidance of the word ‘terrorism’ in the article?”

This US City First to Run 100 Percent on Sustainable Energy Nation of Change (furzy mouse)

Bill de Blasio Is Caving to New York Cops New Republic

New York City sets record with no murders in 10 days in a row Reuters (EM). Um, and is our police partial work stoppage still on?

Two J. P. Morgan Executives Connected to Asia Probe Pushed Out Wall Street Journal


As Oil Price Drops, Texas Lenders Watch for Fallout Wall Street Journal

Here’s how a $50 drop in oil prices affects every country in the world Business Insider

Antidote du jour (Lambert). Yes, this is supposedly a real dog:

Komodor Hundarian guard dog links

And a bonus video, courtesy Chuck L. Look at the lovely capybara spa! They even have citrus fruit in their hot tub.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. wbgonne

    Neoliberalism is our Frankenstein: Greece and Ukraine are the hot spots of a new war for supremacy Salon (Oregoncharles)

    Not one mention of Obama. Or Clinton I or Clinton II. As if Reagan and Thatcher did it all on their own 30 years ago. This is what passes for a Leftist critique in America. How puny.

    1. JurisV

      Actually, there is a mention of both Clinton’s in Raimondo’s article — as well as a fairly brutal criticism of neoliberal policies in the piece. Here’s a relevant quote from the article:

      …this is what we can expect from a future Democratic administration, if one should come to pass, with Hillary Clinton taking her husband’s Slavophobia – remember the Kosovo war? – to new heights of unreason.

      Otherwise, I pretty much always appreciate your comments.

      1. wbgonne

        Am I missing something? The linked Salon article is written by Patrick Smith, not Raimondo, and — unless I’ve gone blind — there is no mention of Obama or the Clintons, just Reagan and Thatcher. While I appreciate the author’s attempt to broaden the framework for critiquing neoliberalism, until the American Left removes its partisan blinders, its complaints will rightfully fall on deaf ears (to mix my metaphors).

        1. JurisV

          Wow !! Very sincerely, deep apologies to you — It’s my eyes and brain that were obviously asleep or blind.

          You are absolutely right ! I had both articles (from Salon by Smith and from Antiwar by Raimondo) up on the browser and must have had one (or more) of those “senior moments”… and conflated/transposed parts of the two.

          Thanks for the kind response and correction.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Agreed. Democrats, esp BHO, the linchpin messiah of the neoliberal religious coup, are conspicuously absent. Robert Parry similarly tip-toes around this in otherwise insightful analysis, casting the pivotal villain as victim if he mentions him at all. It may be the realpolitik of journalism for retaining a respectable audience (and income) or hysterical blindness against the impotence of total despair. The shame in this is that Obama continues to preach so convincingly, sincerely and passionately against everything he actually practices, to the point where the disconnect is so profound, so surreal, that our lying eyes and ears simply rebel.

      Still, it’s a sound analysis and indictment of neoliberal religion, esp WRT Greece and Ukraine. This seems so much closer to the endgame than ever (never mind it’s felt like that for eight years.) Both. In Greece’s case, beyond simply surrendering all of their remaining assets to Germany and submitting to generational slavery, it has nowhere to move. Similarly in Ukraine’s case, yet another ceasfire, negotiated without the key beligerent, hasn’t the slightest chance of holding. In both cases, this points to the last domino standing against the neoliberals’ compulsion for full-spectrum dominance. As the article notes, underlying the neoliberal catechism, is violence, and absent a great awakening, great violence is assured.

      1. wbgonne

        Obama continues to preach so convincingly, sincerely and passionately against everything he actually practices, to the point where the disconnect is so profound, so surreal, that our lying eyes and ears simply rebel.

        The Great Confounder. I’ll bet the percentage of Americans who think Obama is a neoliberal is nowhere close to the percentage that believes he is a progressive/liberal.

        Also the Destroyer of Hope. I sometimes read the comments at Daily Kos and one caught my eye yesterday:

        Obama’s failings in regards to “change” is what is driving Hillary’s support across all factions of the party. What can a non-Hillary candidate run on? I’ll take on Wall Street? No one believes anyone will actually do that, and if they want to (Warren), they’ll get buried before a shot is even fired. Hillary doesn’t inspire the change and ambition that Obama did, but no one can, because few believe its possible anymore.

        The Progressive/Liberal Great Black Hope was unable to accomplish anything despite his “best intentions,” which proves that there is no alternative, there will be no change, there is no hope. Bring on Hillary.

        As W would say: Mission Accomplished.

        1. Jack

          In my experience most Americans don’t even know what neo-liberalism is. Nine times out of ten they think it’s a phrase I’ve made up and/or it means some sort of new-fangled super-progressive. Just as even the acknowledgement of America’s Empire status is nonexistent in the MSM, so the very term ‘neo-liberal’ is completely absent.

        2. Doug Terpstra

          “The Great Confounder” fits perfectly. He sows confusion and reaps chaos and division in a hopelessly tangled web. Few people are able to understand the constitution anymore, recognize blatant war crimes, or cast informed votes.

        3. different clue

          The Great Black Conman’s goal was to destroy all hope of hope right from the start. He has accomplished that mission, among others.

    3. susan the other

      I loved this editorial. They did imply neoliberal administrations have ruled ever since 1980. The answer to: What will Kerry tell Poroshenko? seems to have been answered – more of the same. That is, John told Peter and Vlad that if the Minsk agreement holds (in all its corruptible complexity) the US would lift sanctions. That Patrick Smith has compared Ukraine to Greece as victims of subhuman neoliberalism doctrine is accurate. But one thing I didn’t like was the way a very distinct difference was ignored. That east Ukraine is (probably – imo) desirable real estate because it is the only corridor for the US to invade the Caspian from the north. Nobody ever mentions this little geographic detail. I think it is a verboten subject. The only other reason Ukraine is interesting is because it is rich farmland/wheat land. But I’m pretty sure nobody involved gives a fig about wheat.

      1. Fíréan

        Monsanto have an interest in the rich arable land of Ukraine, a sizable wheat basket.
        Here’s map of Ukraine overlayed upon that of Germany and Czech Republic, Belguim. The Netherlands, a part of Poland and extending out into the north sea ( was difficult to line up only over land) ;

        “Some 30% of the world’s blackest top soil is in Ukraine and 42.8 mn of the country’s 60 mn hectares or 231,660 sqare miles is agricultural land . . .
        Annual production of wheat in Ukraine is 15-22mn t. Total grain production averages 90 – 100 mn t. Domestic demand, even if dramatically increased,consumes 35 – 45 mn t., leaving 50 -60 mn t. available for export .As a result, Ukraine is the sixth in the world grain export market .” My bold emphasis

    4. Oregoncharles

      In Smith’s defense: although he doesn’t name Clinton or Obama, and I agree that he should have, his whole point is that present policy is continuous with Reagan and Thatcher – that we HAVE, not just had, a neoliberal administration in charge.
      I recommended it in comments yesterday because I thought it was an illuminating take on two topics nc consistently covers.

      1. wbgonne

        Yes, I may have been too harsh. I did like how Smith posits a unified theory of neoliberalism. But, honestly, these tepid Leftist critiques are just not adequate. Until the American Left renounces the corporatist Democratic Party we won’t get anywhere in this country politically. But I know I am preaching to the choir with you and baby steps are probably as good as we’ll get. In any event, I suspect it is moot because it seems clear that the U.S. is all-in for neoliberalism and we won’t change but be changed by events beyond our control. When change does come — which it will — the U.S. will be a furious bystander clinging to the detrius.

        Of course, I have been wrong before.

        1. different clue

          John L. King once said “he who is not surprised when the future comes lives very close to the truth.” Those who expect a future of detritus might think about what the detritus will be, and how to prepare NOW to be able to live among the detritus LATER when it arrives. Such thinking has been called “Survivalism” and dismissed as a Right Wing Nut Cult. Dmitri Orlov of ClubOrlov
          calls it “preparing for collapse” and gets an audience which the Survivalists have not reached.

          People who visibly demonstrate an ability to live more-or-less sort-of-okay among the detritus may be turned to for advice and inspiration by the lost and seeking multitudes. Perhaps self-identified “leftists” might want to be among those successful surfers of the detritus to come. That way, “leftists” might be among the people turned to by the desperate seeking masses.

  2. Ned Ludd

    Apparently, the official visit to Greece had to be requested by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador, has a PhD in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “where he wrote a doctoral thesis exploring the downside of the economic liberalization policies adopted in Latin America during the 1990s.”

    When Correa became president, Ecuador defaulted on billions of dollars worth of bonds while maintaining the dollar as its currency. Ecuador conducted an audit to justify its default. Unfortunately (emphasis added):

    Auditing of the debt was one of the demands approved at the Syriza congress and is stated as such in the final document. But this was one of the decisions that has been silenced since by the majority.

    Correa is smart and unorthodox. If Syriza was less wed to the West, NATO, and the E.U.; it would have sought out his consultation and advice from the start. Correa’s latest policy, an electronic payment system, could also be useful to Greece.

    In 2000, Ecuador moved to ditch its stumbling currency for the U.S. dollar. Now more than 15 years later, the South American country is revamping its monetary system again—using digital currencies.

    Ecuador’s Sistema de Dinero Electrónico (electronic money system) kicked off in December by allowing qualifying users to set up accounts, and it will begin acting as a real means of transaction this month. […]

    Claiming that there’s no plausible reason for Ecuador to provide “an exclusive medium for mobile payments,” Lawrence White, a professor of economics at George Mason University, wrote in a recent paper that “it is hard to make any sense of the project other than as fiscal maneuver that paves the way toward official de-dollarization.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s not easy to keep one’s own monetary sovereignty.

      Is he wise to have the dollar as their currency?
      From the exceptional imperial perch, we see no reason to have foreign currency loans, but if you don’t produce the needed medicine or enough foodstuff, or if you need Western technology to modernize, and even if you run current account surplus, in all these cases, you still need to borrow, even just short term to manage cash flow. And what is the deal with Apple reportedly raising billions in Swiss francs? It must be raking in enough Swiss money to feel safe about that. I wonder if Apple moved its headquarter to the duchy of Fenwick, borrowing in dollars would be considered foreign currency borrowing for them.

    2. susan the other

      How do capital controls affect dinero electronico? Perhaps not at all? Interesting things about Ecuador. I wonder what it is like to live there. About an audit of the debt. It would seem like a slam dunk for Syriza to do one – but they are so sincere about staying in the EU that they are almost compassionate toward all those lamebrained German and French banksters, and their own oligarchs. That might be the big compromise. We won’t out you idiots if you straighten up.

  3. wbgonne

    Keystone XL Pipeline Project Vote: Oil And Gas Industry Gave $250K To Senators Who Voted ‘Yes’ International Business Times (furzy mouse)

    Here’s a modest proposal: bar politicians from voting on bills affecting industries from which they receive substantial money.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      Aw, c’mon! Don’t be such a killjoy. That would take all the fun out of being a 21st century politician.

      1. wbgonne

        That would take all the fun out of being a 21st century politician.

        Yup. So I think we would see far fewer politicians and the ones who would run might actually do so for less venal reasons. This code of conduct already applies to judge (as least in theory). Why is it okay for legislators to harbor grievous conflicts-of-interest but not judges?

      2. hunkerdown

        Whoa, pardner. If they spent less time at work they could go back home and do the things that are important to them, like gardening or potlatches or basement tinkering or key parties or what have you, and still easily make the same hourly rate as when they spent their free time dialing for dollars for the Party. OMG unstructured play! Think of it!

  4. wbgonne

    U.S. gunman kills three young Muslims; motive disputed Reuters. EM: “If a mentally-unstable Muslim killed 3 young Christians, would we be seeing delicate wording like ‘motive dispured’ in the headlines and studious avoidance of the word ‘terrorism’ in the article?”

    A rhetorical question I assume. I observed this as the story was initially reported. FOX News was the first to suggest that the murders were over parking spaces (!), not religion. (As if the two are incompatible, not additive). Then the rest of the media rolled that way. My point being that FOX News drives the American corporate media and is now the preeminent news source in the country. Nice, huh?

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Actually, Fox first consults with Rush who passes it by Glen for a sanity check.. If Glen is indisposed on yellows, Hannity will do.

    2. Vatch

      In this particular case, EM should have said:

      If a mentally-unstable Muslim killed 3 young Christians atheists, would we be seeing delicate wording like ‘motive disputed’ in the headlines and studious avoidance of the word ‘terrorism’ in the article?”

      From the article:

      On Facebook, Hicks’ profile picture reads “Atheists for Equality” and he frequently posted quotes critical of religion.

  5. rich

    Alaska Dispatch Misses Owner’s Conflict of Interest

    State owned Alaska Aerospace Corporation is exploring privatization, according to the Alaska Dispatch News. Minutes of the Alaska Aerospace Corporation show dwindling state funds in coming years. They also show potential federal funding:

    The FAA recently selected six national test sites for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) thirty-seven states competed with over fifty applications. Six were selected and one was the Tri State Pan-Pacific Proposal led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, involving Alaska, Oregon and Hawaii, to develop a total of 13 launch sites to test and validate technologies.

    Private investors want to buy valuable public assets on the cheap. Board minutes show a possible future partnership with PT Enterprises. PT Enterprise’s is held by PT Holdings. Investors in PT Holdings include Alaska Dispatch Majority Owner Alice Rogoff Rubenstein, wife of Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein.

    Alice Rogoff Rubenstein is also on the Advisory Board for PT Capital, an investment firm founded by Hugh Short, a 27% owner of PT Holdings.

    1. susan the other

      And those capybaras in the spa. Only in Japan. Something tells me the Japanese themselves are an untapped resource of pure intelligence.

  6. Jim Haygood

    This morning the S&P 500 is trading above its previous record high close of Dec. 29th.

    Old Wall Street lore: a market at a new high is telling you something.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Unhappy days, probably.

        The worse things get, the more QE, and the more stocks go up.

        Perverse but true.

            1. Jim Haygood

              My thoughts precisely.

              Nasdaq 5000, an exalted level achieved for only two days in March 2000 at the crest of the Internet Bubble, is only 2.5% away.

              Naz 5000 will send the media monkeys berserk, shrieking and swinging from the trees.

              1. ambrit

                Then you see Silver take off almost 3% on the upside and wonder about all those “animal spirits” roiling around the trading floor. Meanwhile, gold plods along at a 1/2% rise. I’d be curious to see if any large funds are playing the PMs today. A sign of overreach as they chase the unicorns over the rainbow.

        1. susan the other

          I wonder if US companies are taking a new tack. The CEO of Unilever just came out for corporate responsibility for the mitigation of global warming. Yes, they have no choice but still. And his phrase is “If you can’t measure it, you can’t treasure it.” Which translates in my brain to “…there are a lot of things that never get put in the ledger and never see the bottom line…. and they are now critical to our survival and so they are the new treasure…” I think it is entirely possible that companies are well positioned to be effective global warming changers. But would they if it weren’t for pending legislation? And further – if the true value of all things considered is considered then aren’t stocks worth at least twice their current value?

    1. BondsOfSteel

      It makes a great headline. ‘tankbusters’ coming back to Europe when the Ukrainians a complaining about a lack of good anti-armor weapons.

      Then you realize that this looks a lot more like a regular troop movement. Only 12 planes? 21 were there two years ago. (Last rotation?) USAF has 54 in active service (and 119 in reserve). Plus 1/2 the article is about A10s being used against ISIS.

      IMHO, this article is really about increasing the visibility of this aircraft and to trying and extend it’s lifespan. It’s an article about the military budget.

          1. OIFVet

            Not talking about Russia, I am talking about intra-EU tensions and domestic tensions in some EU countries that give rise to right-wing nationalism. This is ending up destabilizing Europe far more than undermining Putin. Like I said, yankee go home.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Home is everywhere when your money is accepted globally.

              “Sorry, we don’t take Hryvnia.”

              “No, no Drachma here in Athens. We are united with our government that we will only take Euros or the imperial currency (welcome, welcome). No Grexit.”

            2. different clue

              Don’t you live in America now? If so, shouldn’t you be saying ” Yankee, COME home” ?

              Actually, since it is the Europoid Leaderships which keep our soldiers there, it is better to say . . . “Free the NATO 100,000!” As in . . . 100,000 thousand American soldier-hostages in Europe. ( Or if Europe holds less than a hundred thousand American hostages now, then put the lower number in the quote).

              1. OIFVet

                Can you please come home? Pretty please?? Your proposed language is a form of begging, something I don’t do. I am interested in hearing more about the mechanism by which “Europoids” (whatever that is) are holding American GIs hostage. Can you expand on that theory? I thought that the US was the top banana in NATO and used the “alliance” as a tool of control to keep the Europeans in line. Now you propose that the US is a victim of scheming Euros, but selflessly grins and bears it by providing 100K GIs for Euros to use and abuse in some way. Your POV is interesting, to say the least.

      1. ambrit

        That’s why they’re ‘forward deploying’ the Seals and SAS types to Poland silly. To protect the airpower, and light up some ground targets too, (think anti aircraft missile batteries.)
        Being somewhat of a cynic, I can well imagine Uncle Sam sending a helicopter carrier taskforce into the Black Sea, and using those assets to assist the ‘valiant freedom fighters of Kiev’ fight of the Mongol Hordes, (er, Russian speaking separatists.) Then, a Russian unit near or adjacent to the old Ukie Russia border gets fried, (by mistake of course,) as a provocation to the Evil Asiatics. It will take all of Putins’ skills to stop the Russian Army from getting revenge. Presto, changeo! World War Three!
        Mission accomplished! (Now find an American carrier still afloat to land your executive jet on.)

  7. Andrew Watts

    RE: Congress Shows a Lack of Enthusiasm for Giving Obama War Powers to Fight ISIS

    The Islamic State is swiftly establishing the facts on the ground. Unless I’m mistaken it no longer matters if Congress passes a new AUMF. By capturing most of al-Baghdadi IS is able to threaten the lines of supply/communication to the city of Ramadi and menace the base at Ain-al Assad.

    You simply cannot give up on Anbar province and/or Iraq without similarly writing off Saudi Arabia. A victory by the Islamic State in Anbar will prove to be the decisive battle which may very well decide the fate of not only Iraq but the surrounding Sunni states.

    “The enemy holds a strong position; how is he to be forced out of it? In the second, the difficulty may be stated thus: The enemy is advancing in superior numbers; how is he to be checked? The answers are identical: By threatening or cutting his line of communications.

    The line of supply may be said to be as vital to the existence of an army as the heart to the life of a human being. Just as the duellist who finds his adversary’s point menacing him with certain death, and his own guard astray, is compelled to conform to his adversary’s movements, and to content himself with warding off his thrusts, so the commander whose communications are suddenly threatened finds himself in a false position, and he will be fortunate if he has not to change all his plans, to split up his force into more or less isolated detachments, and to fight with inferior numbers on ground which he has not had time to prepare, and where defeat will not be an ordinary failure, but will entail the ruin or the surrender of his whole army.” -Colonel George Henderson, The Science of War (1905)

    Contrary to popular belief the battle of Kobani was nothing more than a speed bump that temporary slowed the advance of the Islamic State. After IS withdrew from the city they also began to pull out of Aleppo province and it appears they’ve shifted their offensive strategy back to Iraq. This battle was an opportunity to foster Kurdish unity and it also gave the US time to get it’s strategy together that would ideally forge an informal alliance with Shia crescent powers with the tacit submission of Saudi Arabia.

  8. Andrew Watts

    RE: The War Nerd: Islamic State and American Narcissism

    The Islamic State is only able to recruit from countries that share an enthusiasm for Wahhabism. It isn’t simply a matter of being a Muslim, an Islamic country, or being an individual of the European middle class. In Indonesia religious tolerance between Sunni and Shi’te is high which makes a high number of intolerant jihadis recruits implausible. This in spite of the fact that Al Qaeda has a franchise presence in that country. The specific case of recruitment in Saudi Arabia is a far different question.

    Most foreign fighters who join the Islamic State are usually used as suicide bombers or cannon fodder unless they’re able to speak Arabic or they have technical skills to offer. As for the foreign fighters that actually matter the Chechen brigade is among the best that IS can field.

    – – – – –

    It’s been fun watching the West cheer on the Kurds in Kobani while casually ignoring what that big ol’ red star on their flag signifies.

    1. Eureka Springs

      How about we butt out … including stopping all arms supply, bases, spooks and mercenaries of any kind to anyone for say at least the next hundred years. Every one of these so-called enemies is pointing a U.S. made or supplied weapon at us or our so-called allies.

      1. Andrew Watts

        It’s always a good idea to stop digging a hole for yourself. Unfortunately that isn’t what’s happening in Iraq. That particular question is more along the lines of how do you get out of the deep pit you’re trapped in? There aren’t any good answers or ideal outcomes to that question.

        We tried running away from it once already and look at what’s happened.

        1. James Levy

          We didn’t run away–that’s baloney. The Iraqis forced us out by refusing to sign a status of forces agreement that would indemnify us against killing their people. We are not in Iraq because no significant portion of Iraqis wanted us there, period. After murdering over 100,000 of them in an unprovoked invasion, can you blame them?

          1. Andrew Watts

            Spare me from your outrage and angst. We’re running away from the idea that the war ever ended. That’s why we are having this stupid debate in Congress about the AUMF. Either withdraw the military trainers and GTFO now or provide the necessary orders and support to the troops in the field who likely won’t be facing a fight that is going to be on their terms. Doing nothing will lead to disaster and pretending to do something will end just as badly.

            “We are not in Iraq because no significant portion of Iraqis wanted us there, period. After murdering over 100,000 of them in an unprovoked invasion, can you blame them?”

            The Sunni tribes of Anbar who are actually fighting IS requested one division from the Army and two brigades of Marines when they visited Washington. The Republicans think we can get by with 10,000 troops total. A division and two brigades adds up to a heckuva lot more than just 10k. While the Democrats vacillate about any war responsibility while we have a small number of vulnerable troops dispersed throughout the country. This is the kind of idiocy from Congress I’ve come to expect.

            However, that doesn’t make it any more tolerable.

            1. cwaltz

              The reality is we can’t call it democracy if we are the ones making the decisions for Iraq. It isn’t surprising that they want help NOW however,Levy has it exactly right, we left after they decided not to renew a Status of Forces agreement.

              The reality is that war may never end in that region. Is the solution to spend all our money there indefinitely?

              1. Andrew Watts

                I never mentioned anything about the status of force agreement. Do you people really think that I f—ing watch Fox News? How insulting!

                The incident I was referring to was the whole “Mission Accomplished” proclamation by Dubya. Which was followed by the insurgency that Al Qaeda in Iraq grew out of.

                The reality is that war may never end in that region. Is the solution to spend all our money there indefinitely?

                I’d prefer to bury IS on the way out but I don’t really think we can trust our political leadership to accomplish that. What I cannot support is this lack of any strategy and do nothing attitude.

                1. James Levy

                  Spare me your “do it right this time” bullshit. The war was a crime. It’s not our war. ISIS is the Arab’s fucking problem. If they want to fight ISIS over there, let them. Not my war, not America’s war (except that we made it happen by invading Iraq in the first place).

                  Perhaps we should go back to Vietnam, too and “finish the job on the way out”–shit, are there any Indians left: why not kill off the last of them and finish that job, too!

                  1. Andrew Watts

                    So the US started it through the invasion and helped it grow through the insurgency but it’s not our problem? Okay, that demonstrates an utter lack of forward thinking.

                    Based upon the longstanding Saudi-American relationship and other factors we’re probably going to be drawn back in if IS seizes any territory in that country. By any chance have you found a replacement for 10 million BPD of oil?

                    Either way regardless of how we response we will reap what has been sown by our political leadership. I am not any happier about this situation than you are.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There is a way to get out of that hole.

          Start printing paper money to fill the hole. Make sure you are on the top (0.01%) that you don’t get buried underneath. Eventually, you step off the pile of money onto terra firma.


      2. Jim Haygood

        Seems like only last week we butted out of Yemen. But it’s already down the memory hole. No helicopters taking off from the embassy roof; only the anticlimax of our heroes handing in their weapons and boarding commercial flights to be evacuated. It don’t make good TV.

        Well, we barely made the airport for the last plane out
        As we taxied down the runway I could hear the people shout
        They said, “Don’t come back here yankee!”
        But if I ever do, I’ll bring more money

        Don Henley – All She Wants To Do Is Dance

  9. Vatch

    “Your Toothpaste Is Destroying Asia’s Rainforests Bloomberg”. The palm oil used in a wide variety of products is grown in southeast Asian and African plantations, which are located where forests used to exist. The palm oil trade is causing massive deforestation, and the article discusses a way to find out where the palm oil in the products that one uses comes from. I have trouble seeing how this will solve anything. Some people who care about forest health will insist that the products that they use come from ethical plantations. If a lot of people demand this, then companies will be able to charge more for “ethical palm oil”. Most customers will want to save money, so there will still be a huge market for the forest destroying products.

    The only real solutions are either finding replacements for palm oil, or reducing the total number of customers. And replacements for palm oil might have their own set of environment problems. Human population reduction is the only reliable fix for this mess: people need to stop having so many babies. This is especially true in the countries such as the United States where palm oil products are used, but it’s also true in the countries where palm oil is grown. Palm oil is a source of employment and profit for people in many parts of the Third World.

    1. JerryDenim

      I wrote a long email to Whole Foods this week after discovering they had secretly added palm oil to their previously palm oil free organic peanut butter without any fanfare or new labeling. More disturbing the peanut butter proudly wore the USDA Organic badge which I find highly dubious given I’ve seen and heard the tales of horror from the main palm-oil producing regions in SE Asia. When in Sumatra one man told me of his uncle who was murdered for opposing the illegal cutting of protected rain forrest for palm oil cultivation. I met another man who was missing a hand and told me it was the result of his opposition to palm being planted on HIS land. Any business willing to eradicate some of the most majestic megafauna in the world, (sumatran tigers, orangutans, birds of paradise, great hornbills, elephants, black rhinos) chop down mind-bogglingly bio-diverse virginal rain forests, and murder people certainly can’t be trusted to have any scruples with pesticide usage! Organic palm oil! How absurd. Its all evil regardless and I call total BS on the organic part.

    2. JerryDenim

      “Palm oil is a source of employment and profit for people in many parts of the Third World.”

      True, but palm oil is not very labor intensive. It employs very few people relatively speaking, especially in terms of jobs per unit of raw acreage. After harvesting almost everything is done by machine. Those same people could do much better for themselves growing fair-trade coffee, tropical fruits or anything else besides a very land-intensive unnatural monoculture which is quickly gobbling up the last of the remaining rain forests in SE Asia. Palm is a cheap, easy low maintenance crop which can be easily planted on freshly clear-cut rain forrest or swap land. Its a problem of economics, but its also a problem of political will and corruption especially in Indonesia.

    3. Vatch

      Charles and Jerry: you both make very good points, but as long as our world is over saturated with humans, people will find harmful ways to use the land. Jerry, I commend you for your efforts to reform Whole Foods, and I hope they mend their ways. But even if people use the land to grow crops other than palms, they will still be destroying habitat and contributing to the 6th Great Extinction.

  10. montanamaven

    Louis Proyect reviews two films on Vietnam and compares the motives of the troops initially as “Killing commies” and “killing jihadis”. One film shows vets from the Vietnam era returning to clear fields of land mines. In Proyect’s view, these are real heroes rather than the hero worship of American snipers. On the other hand, the Kennedy documentary barely deals with the Vietnamese people and concentrates on how Americans escaped in the last days of the debacle. “The Mirror of Vietnam” is a reminder to look at other people in other countries as just like us and not anonymous “hoards”.

  11. Markf


    ” … one evening, a man walked in leading on a length of string a fully-grown capybara. … the capybara wandered about the garden with a fearfully aristocratic expression on his face, occasionally nibbling at a bloom when he thought I was not looking. … at about midnight my companion and I were woken by a most peculiar noise. It sounded like someone playing a Jew’s harp, accompanied by somebody else banging in a vague sort of way on a tin can. I lay there, wondering what on earth it could be, when I suddenly remembered the capybara.
    Uttering a loud cry of ‘The capybara’s escaping!’ I leapt out of bed and rushed downstairs into the garden in my pyjamas, where I was soon joined by my friend.
    In the garden everything was quite quiet and we found our rodent sitting on his haunches, looking down his nose in a superior manner. My friend and I had a long argument as to whether or not it was this animal that had been making the noise. He insisted that it could not have been, because, he said, the capybara looked so innocent, …”

    Gerald Durrell

  12. Garrett Pace

    Brazilian water isn’t some new problem.

    This is only news because it’s affecting the first-world south. When I was living in the northeast (the redneck south of Brazil), most houses and buildings have simple concrete tanks on their roofs that fill up when the water is on, for washing and boiling when the water is off.

    I remember living in Timbauba outside of Recife. When it had been raining we’d turn on the tap and if it was clear we’d drink it and if it was brown we’d wait till later.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Interesting you say it’s the redneck south of Brazil. All I knew before was their great Afro-Brazilian cuisine.

  13. JEHR

    Re Crows: As soon as I read that “… animals do not speak” in the article, I stopped reading the article. If they are wrong about that, then the whole thing is problematic. Anyone who steps outside on a spring morning can hear all kinds of animals “speaking.” The author needs more experience.

    1. OIFVet

      The author stated Descartes’ and Locke’s positions as a prelude to pointing out that they were wrong. You should read the rest of the article, you will like it.

    2. susan the other

      Interesting and good point, that the blatant bias is that speech is only what humans use. It’s amazing that any useful research ever gets done.

  14. OIFVet

    I hear that Andorra is a blood-thirsty expansionist power with thousands of tanks menacing poor Spain. It has been stirring tensions in Catalonia where Spain fears secessionists.

    I am away from my computer right now so I can’t find the links, but these are interesting times in BG. Last Sunday there was a large protest against NATO and its plans to open a command center in BG. That was before the Defense Minister announced on Monday that armor will be forward deployed to BG as well, rather than command and control personnel only. After that the proverbial crap hit the fan. Opposition parties insisted that the President (think Biden but with his finger on the button) convene the local NSC to explain himself and his government, and alleging that this constitutes a hostile act and preparation for war against Russia, an such d therefore threatens national security. To which the foreign minister, a former National Democratic Institute functionary (NDI is closely related to NED which we all know and love) with “service” in Lybia and Iraq, among others, called the behavior of the opposition “abnormal and illegal”. The defense minister issued threats that speech could can come under “the blow of the law” and that the stationing of NATO armor does not require the approval of Parliament. Fine example of how neo-colonialism works.

    I have posted on this issue earlier (see Despite the protestations of the foreign minister that BG won’t be drawn into war with Russia, this rings hollow because he was the foreign minister in the interim government that drafted a document that basically accused Russia of engaging in hybrid warfare against BG. That would be the same interim government that came to power after the US did a little unnoticed regime change in BG. Now, it appears that the current government thinks it has suspended the Constitution, judging from the ministers’ threats against the opposition. Democracy my butt, this is US-sponsored Stalinism. Yet another country destabilized by US meddling, this one with 70% of the population being Russophiles. It’s a recipe for disaster as this is giving the nationalists a major boost, and BG has a large ethnic Turk and Roma minorities. Nationalism is rising in Europe in general, and that’s the result of US meddling and the servile Euro poodles. Thanks, Washington DC.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      OIF Vet,

      Thanks again for your dispatches from another hotspot of NeoLiberal aggression. I read your earlier report with dismay. I had heard rumblings from other sources on this regime change operation, but your unpacking of the situation gelled my earlier apprehensions about this into dismay.

      NATO/EU (poodles) delenda est.

      1. OIFVet

        I’m glad that you liked it, I hope that my recent focus on how BG is being affected by neolibcon policies in general and by the mess in Ukraine in particular is not getting to be too much. It is very much the case that Ukraine is increasingly reverberating in Europe, and given the many ethnic Bulgarians in Ukraine and the stationing of NATO assets in Eastern Europe to protect Easterners from “Russkie aggression”, as well as the huge disconnect between the BG public and its vassal elites, it has particularly strong effect in Bulgaria. I will have a little something tomorrow or Sunday as well that relates to what I wrote today.

  15. diptherio

    Re: The War Nerd on Islamic State and American Narcissism

    Ouch. Wasn’t expecting to read a take down of Bill Moyers this morning, but it seems pretty solid, although I haven’t read the Moyers piece. Sounds like he mangled a “blowback” argument…I can’t believe he was actually trying to minimize IS’s actions. Two wrongs don’t make a right, amirite? Pretty sure Bill is hip to that. And I don’t see any contradiction between holding both that:

    1) Large portions of the ME have been captured by bands of atrocious thugs, and
    2) Previous actions by the US (and others, but mainly us) played an important part in creating the environment for this to happen.

    I don’t see why we can’t condemn both at the same time…in fact, I don’t see how we can’t…

    Fortunately, some people on the left have indeed been keeping up with the real heroes–or rather, heroines–in the fight against oppression of all kinds:

    Revolution Defended in Rojava–For Now

    After approximately four and a half months of fighting, Kurdish forces have successfully pushed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as ISIS or ISIL) out of Kobanî. The coalition of ground forces most notably included the People’s Defense Units (YPG) , Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) , and the Peshmerga from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).At the same time, through the air, a U.S. led-coalition made 700 airstrikes against ISIS. On February 6 it was reported “fourteen more villages and some strategically important points have been liberated.” In an October 2014 article for Naked Capitalism Claude Salhani noted the strategic importance of the region. Salhani stated “victory for” ISIS in the region “would give the group prestige among the dozens of groups lined up in the fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad. It would also secure the terror organization’s flow of oil to a lucrative market.”

    Yet, great damage was sustained in Kobanî, with thousands killed, over 260,000 refugees having crossed the border into Turkey. For all the attention given to ISIS by mainstream Western media, these events have been tremendously underreported. Recent developments in the area known as Rojava may indicate why. Many report a social revolution is underway in Kurdistan, with the three cantons of Rojava – Efrîn, Kobanî, Cizîre – being at the forefront of this social transformation.

    An academic delegation, including prominent anthropologist and anarchist David Graeber, has not only confirmed, but has expressed support for what is taking place in Rojava. Graeber himself reports participatory democratic alternatives being attempted throughout the core and capillaries of Kurdish society, remarking in an interview that “One of the first places we [the academic delegation] visited was a police academy (Asayiş). Everyone had to take courses in non-violent conflict resolution and feminist theory before they were allowed to touch a gun. The co-directors explained to us their ultimate aim was to give everyone in the country six weeks of police training, so that ultimately, they could eliminate police.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When you stand up and fight for a just cause, ‘with thousands killed, over 260,000 refugees,” is that a price we have to pay?

      I believe so.

      And do we pay that price for a Grexit, because we have to stand up for a just cause?

  16. Praedor

    The water crisis in Brazil offers potential for civil unrest…DEFINITELY with a little “push” from the CIA and USAID. If there is ANY hint or real social unrest in Brazil (or the possibility of unrest) then you can be absolutely certain that the US WILL seek to push it over the edge and foment LOTS of civil unrest and even a coup. Keep in mind that Brazil is a namesake for the BRICs. The US would do whatever it can to try and undermine Brazil and ensure neoliberalism dictatorship there, with the added “bonus” of having another avenue to undermine China AND RUSSIA. The same old bullshit game. Watchout Brazil. Be VERY wary, VERY alert, and VERY proactive. Permanently arrest any CIA agents or USAID clowns you might come across. Indefinite detention is A-OK now (and absolutely deserved for US CIA/USAID operatives).

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘Hi, we are from the US government. We are USAID. We are here to offer aid. We are here to…help.’

      ‘Hi, we are the CIA. We are from the US government. Nothing specific about aid or aiding in our name, but we are here to, I know you will love this word, help.’

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘Bonded servitude.’

    Unless a company requires higher pay/benefits and better working conditions, their suppliers can always produce evidence of free-ranging voluntary serfs.

    “No, No, No. Mr. American consumer market under your control buyer, he is not here on bonded servitude. He’s a free man, free to work anywhere in this capitalist wild west town to support his starving wife and children.”

    ‘Well, I am only willing to pay this much for a manufactured smartphone. You work out the math and be humane and ethical. You are a genius…you can solve that simple mathematically impossible problem. Any third grader can.’

  18. Integer Owl

    Just thought I’d mention that on Thursday (12/2/15), Australian politics transitioned from bad to worse (than anyone could have imagined).

    ‘Captain Australia’, Tony Abbott, probably set the record for the worst performance in a 24 hour period that a politician has ever accomplished.

    After an Australian Human Rights Commission study of the effects of indefinite detainment of children in Australian refugee camps at Nauru, led by an extremely accomplished woman named Gillian Trigg, along with a team of medical and psychological specialists, had tabled a report of the conditions under which refugee children live, Tony Abbott has told her that “she ought to be ashamed of herself” for a “blatantly partisan report”. Nevermind that the report covered the situation over a time span that included both major Australian political parties (ALP and LNP), and detailed, among other things, that children under 10 years old were on suicide watch, and many children were engaging in self harm. Unfortunately, political point scoring seems to know no bounds.

    He also compared the unemployment rate under the previous Labor government to the Holocaust, during a televised parliamentary sitting. He did end up apologising for this, however I expect if someone had not informed him of the gravity of such comments, he would not have even remembered.

    He also disclosed details regarding a alleged ‘terrorist plot’, during the same televised parliamentary sitting, that had not previously been in the public domain and may compromise the charges as it will be hard to now find an impartial jury. This was also done in the context of political point scoring and trying to ratchet up the public fear level, for self-serving ends.

    I am also led to believe that on the same day (12/2/15), a US think tank declared him the most incompetent leader in the western world. I do not know the details on this however it has been reported in Aus media.

    As well as all this, I think there was one more notch added to the incompetence belt on this disgracefull day that escapes me. Perhaps something to do with submarines.

    I am feeling my pride in Australia leaking. This is getting beyond a joke. Thankfully the polls are suggesting that the public is fed up with the current government. Apologies for posting this rant when today’s links are not related, however I thought this would be the best place to post this.


    1. skippy

      “The Abbott government asked the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, to resign ahead of the publication of the commission’s critical report into children in detention.

      Guardian Australia can confirm the resignation request, reported in the Age on Friday, and understands it was relayed to Triggs on behalf of the attorney general, George Brandis, by the secretary of his department, Chris Moraitis. It is understood that Triggs was offered another position in the same conversation.

      Government backbenchers have also ramped up their public calls for her resignation and threatened a parliamentary inquiry into “bias” in her organisation.

      Triggs is understood to have refused to resign from her position. She was appointed the president in July 2012 for a five-year term and can be removed for bankruptcy or serious misconduct only. She is understood to have the support of her fellow commissioners, who all approved the report before publication.

      It is understood Triggs has been unable to arrange meetings with the prime minister or the new immigration minister or, in recent weeks, the attorney general. The commission has said it would welcome a public inquiry into its work.

      “I have more confidence in getting impartial advice from Green Left Weekly than from Gillian Triggs,” the Queensland backbencher George Christensen told the Australian on Friday.

      Christensen chairs the House of Representatives social policy and legal affairs committee which has had early discussions about terms of reference for an inquiry into allegations of “systemic bias” in the commission.

      “She has effectively sidelined herself and the HRC from having any credibility with the Abbott government. If she wants to do the right thing by the commission and have their views listened to by the government again, she needs to tender her resignation,’’ he said.”

      Skippy… the really scary part is… there is a powerful segment on the LNP that is even more far right than Abbot…

  19. Left in Wisconsin

    The various deflation stories are kind of scary. Each one suggests a national political leadership/national bank that doesn’t seem to understand the consequences of everyone trying to depreciate currency at the same time. Hard to see how we avoid big, big trouble ahead.

    1. Jim Haygood

      If everyone tries to depreciate currency at the same time, eventually they will succeed.

      Buy now before prices go up!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Why don’t they just add a few zeroes to their currencies?

        Instant inflation.

        $500 for that bag of 6 apples? No problem with this new money!

        You have to be a very bad central banker to say you can’t manufacture higher inflation.

  20. Oregoncharles

    “EU anti-establishment parties rise BBC”

    Carefully ignores the dramatic rise of the Green Party in the UK AND the rise of Die Linke in Germany (now in a coalition with the Greens in a state gov’t.) In other words, pretty fake.

    Someone here described Le Pen’s economic policies as populist, as opposed to her ethnic and immigration policies. But there was no detail – can anyone illuminate us on that? They may be running France in the near future, so it would be nice to know more about them.

    1. gordon

      Not me, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there isn’t much to tell about policies other than immigration.

      The BBC piece just about makes the point that people are supporting these parties because they (voters) want to have governments that control policy. Despite the anti-Nationalist rhetoric with which the EU has constantly surrounded itself, the reality is that National governments are where the democracy is. To surrender democracy in the process of limiting the destructive potential of nationalism is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. People don’t like it. And I for one don’t blame them.

  21. Kyle

    Sweden cuts rates below zero as global currency wars spread –

    “Janet Henry from HSBC said the measures are clearly a ‘beggar-thy neighbour’ manoeuvre to weaken the krone, the latest such action in a global currency war that does little to tackle the deeper problem of deficient world demand. “

    With investors desperately in search of a reasonable return, labor desperately in search of jobs and producers desperately in search of markets, neoliberals seem to be of one mind in the frustration of them all. Appearing determined to deny a classical Keynesian approach as a solution to these problems and thus highlight their failed policies, neolibs are marching forward in the exploration of experimental economic “science projects” rather than pursue government fiscal stimulus which has historically proved to be effective.

    The question then remaining is whether or not they will go so far as to destroy the world economic structure before relenting. As this process continues, expect further economic instability which their policies have so empirically shown. Apparently the whole world must suffer in the avoidance of their fall from grace. Black swans indeed.

  22. Jack

    That War Nerd article…what is he even talking about? IS is the ‘darling of way too many idiot Western Leftists’? News to me. What he points to as evidence for this claim are articles that say there really is nothing uniquely evil about ISIS, and portraying them as backwards dark age savages when we ourselves were lynching black men not too many decades ago is hypocrisy. And of course I don’t have to point out that our great ‘ally’ Saudi Arabia cuts off more heads on a regular basis than ISIS and gets nary a single criticism in MSM, and in fact continues to get military aid from the US. And then he claims turning the conversation back to America is narcissism. Uh, no, since ISIS and its rise to power are inextricable from recent American actions. They didn’t emerge from a vacuum.

    I would think the War Nerd would actually care about the minutiae of the consequences of our constant war-making. Clearly he doesn’t.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Uhh, the War Nerd is concerned that IS atrocities are overshadowing the present heroic efforts to resist them. The Kurdish PKK and YPG/YPK are fighting the good fight while the pseudo-American left are trivializing them and getting all self-righteous and indignant over history they don’t have any control over. Although that doesn’t mean that Kurdish efforts are being ignored by American lefties as the War Nerd alleges.

      Anarchists vs. ISIS: The Revolution in Syria Nobody’s Talking About

      1. James Levy

        Hey Watts, why don’t you fight the good fight, get off these boards (and your ass) an go over there and fight that good fight against those eeeeeevil Moslems. Or, you could stop trying to push us into another war which will kill god only knows how many MORE people and contaminate who knows how much more land and water with depleted uranium and unexploded bomblets from those peace-loving cluster munitions.

        1. Andrew Watts

          Do yourself a favor and don’t read anything I write until you can response without getting all emotional.

      2. Jack

        I’m pretty sure Moyers doesn’t qualify as ‘pseudo-left’. He has been consistently both a voicer of genuine left-wing opinions and provided an outlet for many other similar voices. A significant portion of that War Nerd article is downright pathetic attempts at character assassination.

    2. El Guapo

      The War Nerd piece was total garbage. I have not come across any writer on “the left” (or the right) calling ISIS “victims”.


      “The US is the root of all evil, so IS is only acting out because it’s a victim. We did something bad to it somehow.”

      Has been said by no one. Certainly not Moyers.

  23. rich

    For A.L.S. Patients, a Hopeful Drug That Is Out of Reach

    While the diagnosis has been heartbreaking, I have recently found a new reason to hope.

    A new A.L.S. medication called GM6 has shown in a 12-person trial to dramatically slow down the progression on the disease. The drug maker, Genervon, a Pasadena biopharmaceutical company, announced in January a single-patient study of a 46-year-old man with A.L.S. for 10 years. After 12 weeks of taking the drug, the man showed small improvements in speech and swallowing, and certain proteins used to signal disease progression actually moved back toward the normal range.

    GM6 has also been studied in 67 other patients as a treatment for stroke and Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, given the length of time it takes to win approval for a new drug, it will be about 12 years, $4 billion and many more deaths before GM6 makes it into my medicine cabinet. I will be in a wheelchair, using a feeding tube, or dead by then.

    The Food and Drug Administration has the power to stop that from happening for thousands of A.L.S. patients, including me, if it grants “accelerated approval” to drugs that are deemed safe and can help terminally ill people. This program was first implemented for H.I.V./AIDS medication in 1992 — an issue depicted in the Oscar-winning film “Dallas Buyers Club.” Accelerated approval is often used for cancer drugs, and it is estimated that about one-third of all drugs are approved after one study.

    Genervon now is seeking accelerated approval of its A.L.S. drug, possibly as early as this week. More than 120,000 people have signed an online petition that urges the F.D.A. to wave its magic wand and make this drug available to the 30,000 people fighting this wretched disease.
    It is not going to be an easy battle.

    sign the petition and help some people…..

    Keep the Pressure Up!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hate to tell you, a 12 person trial is utterly unreliable. You need at least 100 people, double blind, placebo controlled to even begin to come to a conclusion. Moreover, a 12 person trial raises the specter that the drug maker did 5 or 10 12 person trials and hid the result of the ones which showed no results.

  24. direction

    Just got back from Indonesia and can attest to the garbage problem there. Found myself pulling paint cans and hunks of metal out of popular snorkelling spots, but as I was heaving it out of the water I saw how much waste was littering the beach and decided not to go back for more. There is a tendency for villages to dump garbage by their stream and in the wet season (now) the rains come take out the garbage. Kuta beach in Bali was disgusting. Plastic every inch of the way along the waterline after mild rainfall. Out at sea, our ferry between two small islands seemed to follow a trail of plastic bread crumbs. I saw no one on these rides pitch anything overboard, but there’s so much trash, it has got to be from the ferries; you can seriously follow the trail for an hour as if it’s a paved road. Until our huge engine sucked up a huge bag, and then we got stranded for a while trying to free the prop. I talked with locals in one small fishing village where the coral looked much more alive. Turns out 10 years ago they got together as a community and made an informal agreement about the trash and the coral. Women clean the beach daily and the fishermen don’t dump; the place had recovered significantly. Grassroots initiatives like this usually have to be locally sourced, not a well meaning NGO coming in to boss people around. If anyone has ideas on how to promote that other coastal communities clean up, I’d love to hear about it.

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