Links 2/5/15

Be Suspicious of the New Harper Lee Novel Jezebel (Carol B)

Scientists discover bacteria that haven’t evolved in more than 2 billion years Business Insider

AI Software That Could Score You the Perfect Job Wired (David L)

Holding Data Hostage: The Perfect Internet Crime? MIT Technoloogy Reveiw (furzy mouse)

Essential Oils Might Be the New Antibiotics Atlantic (furzy mouse)

Debt mountains spark fears of another crisis Financial Times. McKinsey goes full on neoliberal, failing to distinguish between government and private debt, and currency issuers versus users.

Did China just join the global currency wars? China Spectator

Obama-Dalai Lama meeting ‘a diplomatic rebuff for Beijing’ DW (Nikki)

McDonald’s pulls out of Iceland BBC

Grexit, Draghi as Godfather Special Edition

ECB raises heat on Athens with curb on cash for banks Financial Times

Greece Loses ECB Funds, Raising Pressure to Yield to Austerity Bloomberg

What the ECB’s Move on Greek Government Debt Is Really All About Bloomberg

ECB Shuts Off Direct Funds to Greece Bloomberg


Gazprom Confident In European Future Despite ‘New Cold War’ OilPrice


Startling revelations: IS operative confesses to getting funds via US Expres Tribune. Nikki: “Wait, the Americans are funding IS while also, elsewhere, fighting them? Even Kafka couldn’t have written this novel.”

US citizen wounded in Saudi Arabia car shooting BBC (furzy mouse)

US officials: 9/11 plotter’s claims Saudi royals aided al-Qaida ‘inconceivable’ Guardian (furzy mouse)

Pre-9/11 Ties Haunt Saudis as New Accusations Surface

Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Israel Consortiumnews (Chuck L)

Daech brûle 2.000 livres et manuscrits et détruit des œuvres datant de plus de 7.000 ans FranceTVinfo (Nikki). :-(

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Germany’s Spies Store 11 Billion Pieces Of Phone Metadata A Year — And Pass On 6 Billion To The NSA Techdirt. And remember, Germany is not one of the Five Eyes.

Where the internet lives: the artist who snooped on Google’s data farm Guardian (furzy mouse)

Obama’s 10 new taxes – Kelsey Snell and Kim Dixon and Brian Faler Politico

What the Corporate Media Aren’t Telling You About the TPP Truthout (furzy mouse)

When Company Is Fined, Taxpayers Often Share Bill New York Times. Not new news, but worth a reminder.

Walker proposes changing Wisconsin Idea — then backs away Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Jody K)

Extreme cold, ice reveal faults in U.S. northeast mass transit Reuters (EM)

Suit: Man held 20 hours after asking to file TSA complaint Twin Cities (Chuck L)


U.S. Supply Growth To Halt This Summer OilPrice

A Long Time Before We See $100 Again Says BP Chief OilPrice. You have to love the contrast of bullish v. bearish stories from the same news source, and the bearish one is from the big corporate CEO, who you’d expect to sell hopium to goose his stock.

The capital markets versus the more adventurous drillers John Dizard, Financial Times (Scott). Dizard called this dynamic early.

Big oil is not the biggest victim of cheap crude John Gapper, Financial Times (Scott)

Investors Are Fleeing The Largest ETF Near Its High Dana Lyons (furzy mouse)

Another economic crash is coming. How did this happen? Guardian (Fran S)

CME Group to close most futures trading pits Yahoo (furzy mouse). An end of an era.

Wall Street Pays Bankers to Work in Government And It Doesn’t Want Anyone to Know Dave Dayen, New Republic

As Night Closes In Archdruid (Chuck L)

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

links dog and boy

And a bonus video, a tennis-mad Golden Retriever (hat tip Scott)

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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        1. diptherio

          Well, duh…we got that. But Johnson cites evidence and obvious spin doctoring/faulty logic. What have you got? Do you have counter-arguments that address Johnson’s critiques? If not, simply reaffirming your unsubstantiated opinion adds nothing of value. Come on Ty, pull your weight. How can we have a discussion if one side just says “well, I disagree”?

          Do you have anything for this?

          Now we get to “On a planet 4 C hotter than baseline, all we can prepare for is human extinction.” The reference for this pretty important statement? An opinion piece in the Guardian.

          And what does that opinion piece in the Guardian say? NOT that we are headed for extinction.

          To see how far this process could go, look 55.5m years to the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, when a global temperature increase of 6C coincided with the release of about 5,000 gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, both as CO2 and as methane from bogs and seabed sediments. Lush subtropical forests grew in polar regions, and sea levels rose to 100m higher than today. It appears that an initial warming pulse triggered other warming processes. Many scientists warn that this historical event may be analogous to the present: the warming caused by human emissions could propel us towards a similar hothouse Earth.

          Change is not the same as extinction. In this scenario, people would just be living at the poles, in lush, subtropical forests. Would lots of people die before things leveled out? Sure. Does that imply extinction? No.

          The Earth’s carrying capacity would be hugely reduced. Billions would undoubtedly die.

          You know what billions dieing causes? Massive reductions in human emissions of green house gasses. That’s what you call a negative feedback loop. That’s the kind of thing your man McPherson conveniently ignores.

          1. Tyler

            Billions would die, but maybe not everyone!

            President Muffley: You’re talking about mass murder, General, not war!

            General Turgidson: Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.

            1. diptherio

              I’m not saying that I’m in favor, just simply pointing out the facts. Assuming humans start dying in large numbers (which you seem to think is inevitable), our carbon foot print will start to drop-off dramatically as well.

              Your McPherson seems to be running the same playbook as every other prophet of impending doom we’ve seen come and go. Excuse me if I’m not impressed (note: that doesn’t mean I don’t think the environmental situation is dire and needs addressing). Also, you still haven’t provided any refutation of the debunking piece by Johnson.

                1. diptherio

                  Well that settles it (for me anyway). McPherson is not an authority to listen to, thanks for making that clear. He completely misrepresents Johnson’s article. Did you read Johnson’s article, btw?

                    1. Vatch

                      Billions dying would be a huge catastrophe, and it might happen. But as horrible as it would be, it’s not the same as human extinction. I think the collapse of civilization is a genuine threat, but there will still be people if that happens. And we can’t reliably predict when civilization might collapse — it might be a decade from now, or a century from now, or it might not happen for thousands of years.

                      I think that predicting imminent extinction overstates the danger, and harms the credibility of people who predict somewhat less severe disasters. And that bolsters the cornucopianists who think we can continue emitting all the carbon dioxide and methane that we want, and that we can continue to have families with large numbers of children.

                2. Jack

                  It’s very telling how McPherson doesn’t actually counter any of Johnson’s points, and merely claims he’s paid to say what he says.

                3. Optimader

                  Tyler, i suggest you get every creditcard you can and crank them to the limit. If you have any asset, morgage it as you can. Take the proceeds and have some serious goodtimes instead of posting blog comments.
                  Btw in “our time” referrs to who, just want to calibrate my own spending/personal behaviour with a little finer resolution.
                  BBtw i am not a certified financial planner..

          2. Ed

            One thing different about McPherson is that he is a biologists, and believes that the human body simply breaks down at certain temperature thresholds. Climate scientists tend to not be biologists, so they still talk as if humans are around at higher average temps, just running into all sorts of difficulties. If the human body really does stop functioning at a certain temperature threshold, then there is no escape. Everyone goes when we get there. I think even McPherson’s own commentators tend to miss the logic.

            Will the human body just break down at certain temperatures? We don’t know because we have not been around when temperatures were that high. Citing an instance 55 million years ago when temperatures were high as an example of humans surviving high temperatures does no good, since there weren’t humans around 55 million years ago, and if they were around, they weren’t recording their experiences.

            I think there is a theoretical level of temperatures where the human body does break down, so an increase in temperatures could wipe out the human species if it just continues and continues to rise.

            I actually agree that humans won’t go extinct, because the post World War II population explosion contributed an enormous amount to the increase in greenhouse gasses, and the deterioration of the environment will reverse that increase, creating a negative feedback loop as you say. As Tyler pointed out, this is not a good thing at all, unless the population reversal is accomplished by three or four generations limiting themselves to an average of one child per couple (this is really unlikely to happen as quickly and on the global scale needed). A die-off on the scale of the die-off in the Americas after contact with the Europeans is going to traumatize the survivors and their descendents for centuries. From the perspective of an individual in the developing world, you live in a dying culture and any descendents you have will all have died within a century. From God’s perspective, its not as bad as the entire species going extinct but from an individual’s perspective, the whole species might as well go extinct.

              1. Mark P.


                [1] Near-term human extinction via the failure of nuclear weapon-based deterrence remains a far great likelihood than the species’s extinction as a result of climate change.

                [2] Geoengineering is scarily cheap and possible, if one takes one’s ideological blinders off and actually educates oneself about the science and technological possibilities. Sure, however done, it will doubtless create its own cascade of failures, potential catastrophes and new problems — but it will be done once the excrement starts hitting the fan.

            1. Optimader

              ” think there is a theoretical level of temperatures where the human body does break down”
              Knock off a couple degrees and you may have a new twist on a crash weightloss program?
              Utter BS , surely humans would die of starvation due to disruption of the foodchain before “acute temperature poisoning”.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                No, there is are humidity/temperature combinations at which humans overheat and die pretty rapidly because sweat can’t cool them off. This is not speculation. The Bloomberg/Hank Paulson/I forget who the third important cofudner was report on county-by-county climate change in the US found that lots of counties in the US would have over 50 days a year with that combo. The Upper Midwest was one of the big victims. And they went out IIRC only to 2039.

                You spend too much time outside, you be dead.

                1. Vatch

                  And yet the humid tropical regions are among the most densely populated parts of our planet. I’m not denying that people are more likely to die when it’s too hot and their sweat can’t evaporate. And if it gets hot enough, everyone would die. But planetary temperatures and humidity levels aren’t uniform. So people just won’t live in the worst areas, and people near the worst areas will use fans and take siestas.

                  I believe we’re headed for a global disaster, but I don’t think that extinction is the disaster that will occur.

                  1. Ned Ludd

                    Future temperatures could exceed livable limits

                    The researchers calculated that humans and most mammals, which have internal body temperatures near 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, will experience a potentially lethal level of heat stress at wet-bulb temperature above 95 degrees sustained for six hours or more, said Matthew Huber, the Purdue professor of earth and atmospheric sciences who co-authored the paper that will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

                    “Although areas of the world regularly see temperatures above 100 degrees, really high wet-bulb temperatures are rare,” Huber said. “This is because the hottest areas normally have low humidity, like the ‘dry heat’ referred to in Arizona. When it is dry, we are able to cool our bodies through perspiration and can remain fairly comfortable. The highest wet-bulb temperatures ever recorded were in places like Saudi Arabia near the coast where winds occasionally bring extremely hot, humid ocean air over hot land leading to unbearably stifling conditions, which fortunately are short-lived today.” […]

                    “The wet-bulb limit is basically the point at which one would overheat even if they were naked in the shade, soaking wet and standing in front of a large fan,” Sherwood said.

                    Emphasis added. Today, the wet-bulb temperature – TW – “is surprisingly similar across diverse climates..… TW never exceeds 31°C”, which is 88°F.

                2. Optimader

                  Sure mammals die at an adverse relative humidity and temperature where evaporative cooling does not occur but this scenerio I doubt is the basis for a global human extinction event.

                  The Australian aborigines and Greenland wheat farmers will barely miss the ones that are poached.

              2. Ned Ludd

                Severe global warming will render half of world’s inhabited areas unliveable

                Sherwood told the conference: “Seven degrees would begin to create zones of uninhabitability due to unsurvivable peak heat stresses and 10°C would expand such zones far enough to encompass a majority of today’s population.”

                He said air temperature measurements were a poor guide to the true impact of global warming on people. A better assessment is “wet-bulb” temperature, which combines temperature and humidity. “A warming of only a few degrees will cause large parts of the globe to experience peak wet-bulb temperatures that never occur today.”

                An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress – by Steven C. Sherwood and Matthew Huber

  1. russell1200

    Only an architect would think it was a good idea to protect his candy bars and a watch by wrapping it up in a pvc pipe. If I was trying to spoof a bomb, I couldn’t thin of a much better approach. If he wasn’t and architect, I’d almost wonder if he was trying to panic them.

    1. ScottW

      Is carrying pvc pipe in carry on luggage against TSA regulations? Nope.

      Just another example how small minded security agents define appropriate conduct. And that should worry us all as we read, write and express opinions about the powers that be. Small minded people defining threats to this Country is a very scary proposition.

      The fact most Americans mindlessly go through airport security, even though there is absolutely no suspicion they have committed, or are going to commit any crime, demonstrates our compliance with the erosion of our civil rights. I don’t own a gun, have flown hundreds of times, never even been arrested, yet the TSA agent can pat me down for what? Based upon what reason? Who is he or she keeping safe?

      Suspicionless searches should be rejected by the courts out of hand.

      1. JTMcPhee

        …kind of silly to assume that “the courts,” which exist and continue as part of the power structure, and are staffed by people who are beholden to the same, whether elected or appointed, are in any way going to protect the many against the predations of the few. Local exceptions, like where a few judges have stood against stuff like patently fraudulent and “illegal until the Kochs get the laws changed” foreclosures, and where “individual rights” as supposedly conferred by the Constitution are momentarily “protected” until stuff like “First Amendment Zones” are invented, are just that: local exceptions. What us weakers (as opposed to “strongers”) can do to resist losing even more scope and place to the “strongers?” There’s the $64 million question, now isn’t it? Whining and blogging and filing lawsuits and stuff don’t seem to be having much effect…

        1. Ulysses

          “Whining and blogging and filing lawsuits and stuff don’t seem to be having much effect…”

          The whole point of these activities, which you rightly point out are most often by themselves futile, is to continually confront the kleptocrats with the fact that we are not quietly accepting their rule. The (admittedly small) hope is that this will encourage others to speak out, organize, and eventually help to build powerful enough resistance movements to actually accomplish some good things.

          So these activities, when combined with organizing in the real, not digital, world in numbers too large to ignore, may contribute to solving problems. When people do nothing more than sign online petitions, file lawsuits, etc., then they will certainly be disappointed.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Events on the Ukrainian front have developed not necessarily to our advantage:

    Ukraine’s hryvnia lost 34 percent against the US dollar after the head of the central bank signaled it can no longer support the currency with regular interventions and will allow greater fluctuations. The hyrvnia hit a historic low of 24.5 per 1 USD.

    The bank also announced an unexpected interest rate hike to 19.5 percent from 14 percent, in a move to try and mend the worsening economic situation.

    John Kerry is in Kiev today and may discuss further financial aid for Ukraine. The government in Kiev has already secured a $17 billion aid package from the International Monetary Fund, but only the first two tranches totaling $4.6 billion have been sent. The Central Bank expects the IMF to make a decision on the next tranche on either Friday or Saturday.

    Kerry is in Kiev. But he’s not taking Hunter Biden’s frantic phone calls about Burisma’s worsening plight.

    A hundred hryvnias for a cup of coffee, comrades! But they’re out of coffee.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A Ukrainian pensioner might have to substitute bpa-lined canned food for fresh vegetables to keep that inflation down.

      Of course, by doing so (keeping a lid on inflation), their CPI adjustment will be lower than otherwise, further necessitating more food substitutions.

      It’s a virtuous cycle.

      That’s called ‘Dummies’ Guide to Killing Yourselves Slowly While Fighting Inflation.”

      Luckily, Ukrainians are not alone in this fight. They are joined by their brothers in almost every nation in the world.

      Here in the imperial core, the choice is between radiated Pacific fish, but fresh, or bpa-lined Atlantic sardines. For patriotic inflation fighters, the latter is the choice when priced cheaper for them to implement the substitution effect and will lead to a smaller Social Security annual increase, so next year, they can do more substitution…all to make the banksters feel safer with their fixed rate loans.

    2. curlydan

      In Ukraine’s case, I get the feeling coffee would be cheaper (and more available) if there were more comrades and fewer patriots.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Substitution works with deflation as well.

        If pork and beef both get too cheap, people either buy more beef or can finally afford pork now (assuming pork is more expensive than beef before).

    3. gordon

      Millions for Ukraine but not one cent for Greece. I kind of wonder if things would be better for the Greeks if Golden Dawn was in government there….

  3. roadrider

    Re: AI software that could score you the perfect job:

    The problem is not that we need AI to match people with jobs. The problem is that we don’t have enough jobs to match people too. Yes, that’s true even of technical jobs despite the standard techno-liberturdian bullshit mythology of a “skills gap” that is uncritically repeated here (no surprise considering the source). Of course, actual data wouldn’t interest them.

    The job-matching software used by every job board I use does suck and the “skills” of the human job matchers at recruiting firms and HR offices are even worse. But the larger, and far more important, problem for the millions of unemployed and underemployed people is not how to find a job that allows you to take your dog to work (or in my case, and I’m sure many others’, one that doesn’t allow that kind of nonsense) its how to find a job at all. I don’t think AI is the solution to that problem unless its applied to policy makers in the White House, Congress and employers.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      And I agree that the US Tech companies are complaining about a non-existent shortage of workers. The game is to talk up a shortage to justify an increase in H1B worker visas.

      This video of a law firm explaining the Playbook for gaming the H1-B program to execs is eye opening.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “Why can’t you guys get along with the slaves I just captured and transported over from planet Skull Coast? You guys are such bigots.”

        “Look at me, I LOVE these exotic slaves, sorry, exotic people. My brainwashing propaganda pieces, check that, my movies are doing very well in their home planet. These serfs, make that these people, they aspire to be like us ,” he says proudly as he sips champagne in his comfort limousine.

    2. Ed

      This can’t be said often enough. The jobs shortage, which is global, and was widely and accurately predicted in the 1970s, is itself due partly to AI (and partly due to overpopulation, a massive increase in the global labor force faster than any economy could grow to provide the additional jobs, discussion of this was common in the 1970s but for some reason verbotten today).

      So you get lots of nonsense articles that claim that unemployment is caused because somehow job seekers forgot how to look for jobs in the last few decades, or apparently employers forgot how to hire (actually there is some evidence of this, but its not the main problem). Its hard to match up real workers with imaginary jobs.

      1. juliania

        Ah, thank you – I now realize that the problem with shipping all those factory jobs overseas was that they didn’t also ship all the factory workers along with the jobs – now somebody really fell down not legislating that. Lobbyists, what were you thinking???

    1. wbgonne

      Yes, I’m surprised this hasn’t received more attention. It is emblematic. And everything the nasty brat said will probably come true. Daddy will buy his troubles away. Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta!

      1. Propertius

        In a more civilized age, young Mr. Hilton would have been the recipient of a therapeutic right cross.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It is speculated, and for me likely true, that the wanton lust for wealth is caused by a particular virus.

        The idea is not to absolve robber barons of guilty, but to advocate early prevention and the need for level 5 isolation facilities globally.

  4. Bill the Psychologist

    “Startling revelations: IS operative confesses to getting funds via US”

    Suspicions confirmed, I’ve always thought the US CIA scumbags must be lurking in the background somewhere, these people popped up suddenly with way too much money and power not to be being propped up by some rich, unscrupulous, nefarious foreign power: our CIA.

    1. AndrewW

      Try reading the full story next time and not just the headline. The IS operative confessed to getting funds routed through the United States. That isn’t the same thing as being funded by the US government or anybody else in the country. You gotta figure they’re probably going to use this incident as an excuse to spy on everybody’s finances.

      As odd as it may seem to people the Islamic State does get funding from countries they’re fighting through oil and food sales. Both the Syrian and Iraqi government have been forced to purchase due to their need because their territory is under the control of the Islamic State. When Mosul and Northern Iraq was still under the official control of the Iraqi government it was rumored that IS was able to impose it’s own taxes.

      1. Bill the Psychologist

        You may be willing to give our govt/CIA the benefit of the doubt; I am not willing to do that. “Routed through” is a euphemism AFAIC. Unless you have some solid knowledge of the situation ?

        1. AndrewW

          Hah. The burden of proof isn’t on me especially when you didn’t even read the story. The illicit oil sales amount to a few million dollars a day and that’s not even projecting how much money they’re bringing in from taxing the 7-8 million people who live underneath their rule.

          Could they be laundering their money through the US? Possibly. Maybe even likely but again that isn’t the same thing as funding or controlling them directly.

        2. diptherio

          There is no mention of the CIA in the story. You’re speculating beyond the evidence. And it would be no surprise to find out that US banks are, knowingly or otherwise, facilitating business for our ostensible enemies. HSBC, Iran, drug cartels, etc. So the fact that ISIS’ money is being routed through the US doesn’t require or even imply CIA or other gov’t involvement: the banksters have no problem helping thugs either.

          That doesn’t mean that our intelligence agencies aren’t involved in unscrupulous ways in the ISIS situation, I’m almost certain they are, but that’s not what the evidence presented in the link purports to show. The CIA angle is one possible interpretation, but definitely not the only one.

          The most telling quote in the piece for me was this bit at the end:

          “The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests and that is why it launched offensive against the organisation in Iraq but not in Syria,” he added.

          It actually seems less likely to me that CIA or other intel agencies are directly funding ISIS, than that we trained them to fight Assad, not caring about their beliefs or other intentions, and then they decided to start making decisions on their own. There is a long, long history of this scenario playing out in one way or another many times over the years (cf. Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussien).

          But even without direct funding from US gov’t agencies, our conflicted motivations are showing. Why is it that we’re focusing the fight against ISIS in Iraq and not in Syria? The answer is obvious to everyone (excepting a good percentage of my fellow Americans): because we don’t actually give two wet farts about ISIS’ human rights violations–it’s all about the realpolitik: the enemy of my enemy is my friend and there’s no contradiction between fighting a group in one theater and (at least tacitly) supporting them in another. Anyone who plays strategy board games knows this. All the rousing talk of human rights and liberating women is just to fool the rubes…er, voters…and to keep the troops motivated.

          1. AndrewW


            The most telling quote in the piece for me was this bit at the end:

            Not really. That part of the article is the same old after the fact rationalization that conspiracy theorists like to engage in. In this case though I don’t think it’s conspiracy theory. It’s more likely an attempt at propaganda to smear the US Government. Russia is taking the lead in introducing a UN resolution targeting IS funding and IT’S ALL AMERICA’S FAULT. /sarcasm

            Why is it that we’re focusing the fight against ISIS in Iraq and not in Syria?

            It’s complicated. We don’t really want to help Assad/Hezbollah/Iran nor do we want to help the Kurdish PKK as it makes the Turks nervous. Thankfully we did anyway during the battle of Kobani. Aiding the Shia crescent alliance would also run afoul the designs of our Turkish, Israeli, and Saudi “allies”.

            It isn’t as complicated of a situation in Iraq. The defense of the American client state of Iraqi Kurdistan is a priority and the fact that Anbar province is Sunni and close to Baghdad and the borders of Saudi Arabia is a concern. If you can’t stomach that last thought just remember… 9.5 million or so bpd.

            1. diptherio

              It’s complicated. We don’t really want to help Assad/Hezbollah/Iran nor do we want to help the Kurdish PKK as it makes the Turks nervous. Thankfully we did anyway during the battle of Kobani. Aiding the Shia crescent alliance would also run afoul the designs of our Turkish, Israeli, and Saudi “allies”.

              Exactamundo. But is that the story their telling us in the MSM? Hell no. The truth is we care more about screwing with Assad, Hezbollah and Iran more than we care about taking out ISIS. This is why covert operations have to be covert. Not to hide our actions from our enemies, but to hide our actions from the American public. They know damn good and well they have to sell it on idealism, because most people would recoil from the ruthless calculation that is the reality (and maybe vote something different in).

              1. Deltron

                Agree. I think the question you have to ask is why Syria? Do you really think this is about “spreading democracy”? Look at the other atrocities occurring across the globe, or even just look at what’s occurring in Africa. There’s a reason Syria was the initial target, and now Ukraine has become the next battleground (so to speak). It’s not out of the goodness of the U.S.’s heart. At it’s core, this is about greed.

    2. Eureka Springs

      I’m sure this particular ‘operative’ is a moderate. You know, opts out of beheadings… won’t shoot towards Israeli bombers over Syria, etc.

  5. Pwelder

    wrt BP Chair Bob Dudley on the oil price, Yves wrote: ” You have to love the contrast of bullish v. bearish stories from the same news source, and the bearish one is from the big corporate CEO, who you’d expect to sell hopium to goose his stock. ”

    Not so. BP and the rest of the majors remember acquisitions they made during the price collapse back in the ’80’s. The majors have had disappointing returns on their massive exploration expenses over the last decade, and need to pick up some resources at bargain prices. If Dudley is cynically talking his book (always a possibility, though I doubt it’s the whole story here) he would naturally talk down the outlook to dampen the expectations of potential sellers.

    The problem for Dudley and his counterparts is that they can’t be sure of the motives behind the Saudi policy reversal back in November. If it’s primarily a commercial operation – a cartel management exercise aimed at policing the free riders – they should be done by Labor Day. That’s the relatively bullish scenario. But if it’s a foreign policy exercise aimed at weakening and possibly replacing regimes with rival interests, that will take a lot longer. If you run your company on the presumption of the bullish scenario, and get the latter, you can lose your job and maybe your company. So it’s an easy call. That’s why these companies are in the process of massive capex cuts and layoffs, which are going to put more of a dent in the macro numbers than most now expect.

    Yves and all who share her desire to shut down fracking in the US need to be clear about two points: It’s an objective that they share with the Saudis and the Russians, and if they succeed oil will be well above $100 real soon now. That of course doesn’t speak to the policy’s merits. But it is something to be kept in mind by bloggers who – rightly – decry the neoliberal habit of calling for big sacrifices by other people. Do your homework, and be very careful what you wish for.

    1. Pwelder

      Here’s a good recent link to a CSIS presentation on the outlook for oil pricing and production. It goes on for well over an hour, but IMO the meat of the presentation is with the first two speakers. If nothing else, you’ll see how “lower for longer” became the new conventional wisdom. It’s a YouTube video, so if you watch in full-screen mode the slides come up fine.

    2. Glennf

      I have been reading Oil Price for a while now and I find it to be a sales site with some decent reporting thrown in to make it look good. Many of their “articles” are oriented to push potential investors into very risky oil industry investments.

      We should be weening ourselves off oil (electric cars, solar PV on our roofs to charge them, etc.) so when it rises to $100 again, we won’t care as much.

    3. Optimader

      You pretty well nail it imo, though i wish i had a crystal ball for “will be well above $100 real soon now. ”
      As an aside I went to high school with Bob Dudely. (He is a UofI ChemE grad as well). I assess him to be a pretty smart and honest guy, though he has made what for me would be unacceptable lifestyle choices to get to where he is. In the context bp ceo’s there have been far worse.
      As an aside It was Putin that ochestrated the visa non renwal when Dudely was incharge of the joint venture. The skulduggery is a pretty good story along the line of the saying “you can make alot of money in Russia as long as you dont try and claim it”

      1. Pwelder

        There’s a memorable picture of Dudley’s predecessor signing the TNK-BP founding documents with someone from the Fridman/Blavatnik/Vekselberg crowd , Putin and Blair looking over their shoulders. It was obvious the expropriation had Putin’s OK, but surprising to hear he was directly involved given his involvement in setting up the joint venture.

        Must have been a harrowing experience for Dudley. On the upside, he did get to learn Russian. And BP took enough out of the deal in cash dividends and Rosneft stock to make the exercise worthwhile from a shareholder’s perspective.

        Dudley has to be a huge improvement on his predecessor, a numbers type whose drive for profits at all cost created the culture that produced the dreadful body counts at Texas City and later at Macondo IMO.

        1. pwelder

          Correction: It wasn’t Dudley’s immediate predecessor as BP Chair at that signing ceremony, but the Lord Browne of Madingley. Browne was succeeded by the hapless Tony Hayward, who was replaced by Dudley in the wake of Macondo.

          1. Optimader

            Hayward -> deer in headlights annointed to take the hit for bps abysmal behaviour instigated by Brown, a real creep

        2. Optimader

          Yes , Dudelys carrerr was vaccinated by the settlement, silk purse from sows ear material
          A fun fact for the CT crowd here on NC, Bob D was friends with Terry Shwartz(on our HS) swimteam. Terry’s sister was Emily Shwartz (aka Emily Harris re: a cofounder of The Symbonese Liberation Army– patty hearst and all that., Emily hooked up with the wrong croud at Berkeley)

          You read it here first.. May the dot connecting begin

  6. fresno dan

    US officials: 9/11 plotter’s claims Saudi royals aided al-Qaida ‘inconceivable’ Guardian (furzy mouse)
    Moussaoui, whose trial for his involvement in the 9/11 plot exposed a history of mental illness, echoed longstanding allegations that members of the Saudi royal family helped bankroll al-Qaida ahead of the attack.

    But he also made a dramatic new claim, alleging that he discussed a missile attack on Air Force One with a diplomat from the Saudi embassy in Washington.
    everal ex-intelligence officials contacted by the Guardian expressed skepticism about Moussaoui’s claims. All drew a distinction between more plausible claims that individual Saudis aided al-Qaida in their private capacity and less plausible ones of official Saudi Arabian backing.
    We should believe a mentally ill person when he tells us what we already believe, except if the mentally ill person implicates a rich, oil supplying “ally” – because implicating our allies – that’s just crazy talk!
    And if there is no “official” memo with the gold ring wax seal of the Saudi king, well obviously, as the US is the only country in the world that is so sophisticated to understand “plausible deniability” it can’t be true…

    With that kind of analysis, do CIA analysts believe that Saudi Arabia funds fundamentalist religious schools, and if this poses a problem? Or is keeping the “moderate” Saudi family in power considered the lesser of two evils (i.e., even more radically fundamentalist regime) and therefore glossing over how diametrically opposed to western values Saudi Arabia is must be the first priority?

  7. Jim Haygood

    From Dana Lyons ‘Investors are fleeing …’:

    ‘Although the SPY closed barely 3% below its 52-week high yesterday, the amount of shares outstanding was down over 13% from its recent 3-month peak.’

    Besides confusing ‘amount’ with ‘number’ (which ought to earn him a sharp rap on the knuckles from the grammar police), Lyons totally misses that SPY operates in a competitive environment offering multiple S&P 500 index funds. SPY has an expense ratio of 0.0945%, higher than its largest competitors IVV (0.07%) and VOO (0.05%) which are (to no one’s surprise) gaining market share at SPY’s expense.

    While a study of net share creations in all S&P 500 index funds might be revealing, the premise of Lyons’ study — that a bullish or bearish message can be extracted from net creations in a single fund with many competitors — is simply wrong. This is like analyzing the soft drink market by focusing only on Coca Cola, as if Pepsi, Cadbury Schweppes and many others didn’t exist.

    1. MLS

      Well put, that was my suspicion when I saw the headline and reading the article confirmed the laziness of the reporter or the general lack of understanding of the topic (and quite possibly both).

      It’s not a hard subject to grasp, but it does require taking an interest and some effort. But I guess it’s easier to just put an attention-grabbing headline out there and prey on the uninformed.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    AI software —> perfect job.

    Unfortunately, the world order is set up like this: Job —> Happiness, and not Happiness —-> activeness.

    In a better world, perhaps, we get AI software —-> Happiness —–> Active (and Meaningful) Life.

    “Little Rabbit, where did you put my Artificial Love software?”

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China joining the global currency wars?

    Do currencies fight one another? Maybe, but that’s for another day.

    Making war on someone – corporations have been warring on their customers forever it seems. Why else do they all talk about ‘our captive client or customer base?’

    Taking living beings captive is either an act of war or an act of terrorism or crime.

    Yes, people have been known to take others captive out of love (“I vill keep you in my cage forever, my love”), but that is still wrong.

    1. GuyFawkesLives

      I would up that ante to say our political/military/business elites are psychopaths rather than sociopaths.

    1. James Levy

      Other than special pleading and an appeal to human exceptionalism, I find it difficult to argue with the Archdruid’s point. We either are part of the natural world and governed by its laws or we are not. From the First Intermediate Period in Egyptian history through the Mayan Hiatus to the Black Death and beyond, societies that grow too numerous and impose too much on their ecology get into serious trouble and face massive setbacks, die-offs, or collapse. The combination of fossil fuels, fertilizers (now made with fossil fuels), and the collapse of populations in the New World and its resettlement by masses from Europe provided a one-time escape valve from such stress, but I think that was likely a one-shot deal. The technophiles may be right in asserting that escape is the new template, but I’d rather use the 99 examples of crisis over the one example of (temporary?) escape to model the future and plan around.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Wall Street pays bankers to work in government.

    Top Mission (Mission Possible): To locate the spigot that turns out unlimited amounts of new money. If not in perfect working condition, repair it. Enlarge it if necessary, so it will work more smoothly. Don’t want new money to jam the spigot.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My theory is that a healthier menu means more profits and healthier (mental, physical and financial) workers as well.

    2. hold the fries

      The McDonald’s article is from 2009 actually. But it does show a country can survive for over five years without them…

  11. Ed

    “Extreme cold, ice reveal faults in U.S. northeast mass transit”

    Its not a bad headline, but this is one case where some historical perspective will help. In the case of New York, the agencies that manage the mass transit system essentially stopped maintaining the system for a period in the 1970s. They started again, but are still playing catchup, so the system can’t handle weather that wouldn’t have been a problem in the past, as it continues to deteriorate.

    Also New York City is a rare case of a northern city that has been increasing in population, in the 1990s they made up the big population drop in the 1970s (and then some, alot of the gain are illegal immigrants who try not to be counted) plus brought in lots of tourists (deliberate policy) and this puts more strain on the infrastructure. I’m not sure what the story is in Boston, which the article also mentions.

    I’ve also lived in the Midwest, where the weather in the winter is even worse than the Northeast, and outside of Chicago -the CTA has similar problems to the northeastern transit agencies- they handle the problem of the weather and mass transit by not having mass transit, plus a cultural expectation that people do the drive into work regardless of the conditions.

  12. GuyFawkesLives

    Major Breaking News about the unraveling of MERS and there’s not a mention of it here? I am disappointed.

    Citibank v. Herman – NY Appellate court

    “ORDERED that the order is reversed insofar as appealed . . . . the Hermans established, prima facie, that MERS was never the holder of the note and was without authority to assign the note to the plaintiff. In opposition, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact.”

    1. ambrit

      Now we have to prevent any Federal level “get out of jail free card” for MERS from being enacted.
      Either a Federal land registry will have to come about, to remove the state level tangles, or this ruling be finessed in New York.
      Yay! MERS is now dead!

      1. GuyFawkesLives

        Look into the Uniform Law Commission. That idiotic group of white men are writing “Home Foreclosure Procedures Act” in which they are writing into this proposed bill that the promissory notes are not needed……just wait for the federal fix to come down the pipeline….

    2. Yves Smith Post author


      New York is a judicial foreclosure state, so the mortgage follow the note. The problems with MERS aren’t really all that important in NY State foreclosures. You look to if the foreclosing party is the holder in due course (the party with legitimate authority to enforce the note, not merely the one in possession of it). Foreclosures are way way down in New York after the bench implemented rules that had the effect of making it way easier to sanction attorneys who submitted bad or merely unverified documents in court.

  13. mundanomaniac

    It might be always interesting for some of you , to compare the dramatic on the political surface of Europe this week with the archetypal background of this week, which is given by the constellations of the illuminated “signs and times” in the sky, showing, what the “gods” are preparing with all the contradictory material out of which the
    the creation is skillfully formed, and which to handle seems so difficult for the so called rational “leaders”.
    Here it is, this week:

  14. sorry

    Sorry David, but that Republic, is exactly the ‘entity’ which fully allowed to be set into motion; embraced; and is still embracing ‘Permissionless Innovation’. That, despite the lack of permission by those millions that elite Republic has been allowed to make decisions for; while asking no commentary whatsoever from those struggling millions they’ve “legislated” and bullied (an understament, if ever there was one) into the current $TATE of ‘virtual reality’ regarding your Title:

    06/11/14 ‘Permissionless Innovation’: Using Technology to Dismantle the Republic

    (I very much would have preferred contacting you about it one on one, ‘in person’ …. CONFIDENTIALLY, David, which is why it has taken me so long to blurt the above out; but, the only option you presented, GMailing you, to comment/critique privately (sans background howling) on your – frequently read by many in the Academia and Rule of Lawz [for only those very, very few handful who can afford $400 plus an hour] Whirled – above piece, is not at all contacting you CONFIDENTIALLY, one on one. I still cannot get beyond those discussing Privacy Violations, who skip over the fact that GMails are about the least private, one on one communication a person could engage in.)

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