Links 2/8/15

The mysteries of chili heat: Why people love the pain Salon (KF)

Our Amazingly Plastic Brains Wall Street Journal

Gauging the financial crisis end game Credit Writedowns. Interesting thesis, especially if true.

BIS says financial flows partly to blame for oil collapse FT

Currency-hedged ETFs in vogue as investors clamor for more Reuters

In J.P. Morgan Emails, a Tale of China and Connections Wall Street Journal


Greece says has no cash problem, to present plan next week Reuters

U.S. Ambassador to PM: Greece Must Work with EU Colleagues, IMF Greek Reporter

Defiance and Charm: A Measured First Week for New Greek Leader Der Spiegel

Yanis Varoufakis, Greek finance minister FT

Paying the Piper: How America’s Iraq War haunts its Failed Syria Policy Informed Comment

Brian Williams: NBC news anchor ‘temporarily’ steps down BBC. And yet Cheney and Bush still walk the street….

A Blackwater World Order The American Conservative (C).


Op-Ed Want to arm Kiev? Better have a Plan B Los Angeles Times

‘Last Chance’ Ukraine-Russia Peace Deal To Be Decided Upon Next Week Forbes

More War In Ukraine Needed So Lindsey Graham Can “Feel Better” Moon of Alabama

Europeans Laugh as Lavrov Talks Ukraine Bloomberg. Classy!

Merkel Objection to Arms for Ukraine May Spur Backlash for Obama Bloomberg

Merkel warns Ukraine peace plan may fail, but worth the effort FT

Biden says Ukraine has right to defend itself against Russia Reuters. Beau agrees!

Of droughts and flooding rains The Economist

Australian PM brings forward vote on leadership to Monday Reuters

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Stockholm: Members of Epicenter workspace are using microchip implants to open doors International Business Times (Ned Ludd). My gracious! Whatever next?

Abe acts quickly to exploit Japan’s ‘nightmare’ Japan Times. First lick at the self-licking ice cream cone….

How the ACLU, Ron Paul and a former EFF Director helped jail a CIA whistleblower Mark Ames, Pando Daily

US takes another shot at stopping warrantless reading of emails ITWorld. In Senate and House, sponsors from both parties.

Health Care

Health insurers may be finding new ways to discriminate against patients WaPo. “[P]atient groups say they’ve spotted an alarming trend of some health insurance plans designing drug benefits to purposefully keep out sicker, costlier patients.” Of course, Naked Capitalism readers knew that insurance companies would game the system with narrow formularies back in June 2014.

The future according to HHS Heatlh Care Finance

A Primer on Medicare Physician Payment Reform and the SGR Brookings. “Accountable care” sounds great, but you can bet that care won’t be accountable either to patients or the American people generally.

How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science New York Times

My first and last time at the Crunchies Medium. Tech dudes behaving badly.

Class Warfare

Stream of Foreign Wealth Flows to Elite New York Real Estate New York Times. Very good; the later William R. Gibson crossed with the later John LeCarré.

Princess Bedrooms That Rule Wall Street Journal. But for how long?

Why Howard Dean and the Democratic Party owe Teachers and Parents an Apology Badass Teachers Association. Yeah, Hoho really shouldn’t be supporting the scabs at TFA.

Adjunct professors get poverty-level wages. Should their pay quintuple? WaPo. Honk if you [heart] agnotology!

Union says U.S. refinery strike widened; cites unfair labor practices Reuters

Only 20% are Middle-Class, Most Don’t Come Close Economic Populist. There seems to be a sort of convergence on this 20% numner. I might say “pillars of the regime,” not “middle class,” but that might just be me.

The end of the low-pay puzzle? Economist. Cutting benefits forced people to take crap jobs, goes the story. But it’s all good, because now they can ask for raises!

The job market is unquestionably improving, and at a nice clip. But wage growth is not heating up. Jared Bernstein, WaPo. Film at 11.

The First Bank of Bud New York Times

The Search For Neutrons That Leak Into Our World From Other Universes Medium

Secret stash of Moon artifacts found hidden in Neil Armstrong’s closet Gizmodo

FAA appears to be attempting to expand its authority to moon activities (CL).

New High-Tech Farm Equipment Is a Nightmare for Farmers Wired

Grammys 2015: Transcript of Bob Dylan’s MusiCares Person of Year speech Los Angeles Timss

The Rise of the Frugal Economy Project Syndicate

Antidote du jour (via):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. jjmacjohnson

    It is interesting that paid mercenaries can go on like torturers to have teaching positions.

  2. Will

    Has anyone heard any reasonable speculation on why Merkel and Hollande keep insisting that this peace mission is unlikely to succeed but worth trying anyway? What kind of narrative are they trying to shape? It’s like they’re preparing us for a failure where they can say they did their best, and now we have to mobilize because Putin’s so unreasonable and violence-loving.

    1. tgs

      I think your speculation is reasonable. The mainstream narrative is that Putin is an austistic aggressor incapable of reason waging war in Ukraine right now.

      The role of the media in selling this is extraordinary. On CNN yesterday Hala Gorani brought on a ‘Russia Expert’ from the Institute of Modern Russia who went on about Russian tanks and advanced weapons in Ukraine – CNN did not feel it relevant to mention that the Institute is a foundation run by the son of Mikael Khordorkovsky.

      Later in the day Poroshenko was showing what he said were Russian passports, claiming that they were absolute proof of Russian aggression in the east. No one that I heard challenged the plausibility of this.

      It becoming clearer and clearer that the West wants capitulation or war.

        1. Andrew Watts


          Do you really find it that hard to believe that Iran was covertly aiding the Iraqi insurgents and sending in it’s irregular troops to fight the American occupation forces in Iraq?

          The idea that Putin is helping the separatists through arming them and/or sending in his troops is just as believable as what actually happened in Iraq. In any case he’d be incredibly stupid not to because there isn’t a damn thing anybody else can do except make us all listen to the Ukrainians whine about it.

            1. Andrew Watts

              The point I was trying to make is that Russia aiding the separatists isn’t as big of a deal as our media propagandists are making it out to be. It’s a relatively common occurrence throughout history under very similar circumstances. Nor is it as unthinkable or unknowable as pro-Russian sources are asserting.

              Bah, nevermind.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                Maybe Russia can send their Flying Tigers or the Russian people can form an International Brigade.

                1. Andrew Watts

                  Oh, I have an even better example of that…

                  During the Upper Canada rebellion American sympathizers helped arm the rebels and volunteered to fight alongside the Canadian republican rebels. William Mackenzie who was one of the main rebel leaders even organized and launched attacks from American soil. When the British protested to the state of New York and federal government about these transgressions the government of New York played clueless while the state’s forces helped to facilitate and later according to some reports even fired upon British forces during the siege of Navy Island. President Van Buren chose to appease the British imperialists by outlawing the American volunteers.

                  Isn’t history fun?!

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    It is.

                    And there is always the other side of story apart from the orthodox history we are given.

                    1. Andrew Watts

                      Yup. I should add that President Van Buren wasn’t really given a choice due to the weakness of the Canadian rebels. There was a good chance that Putin would’ve disavowed the separatists and Russian volunteers if they lost the battles they fought over the summer.

      1. Jim Haygood

        When Khrushchev started provocatively installing missiles on Cuba, 90 miles off the Miami coast, JFK phoned him and told him to knock it off. The western hemisphere is our hemisphere, chump, Premier K. was told. You don’t belong here.

        For the US to arm Ukraine, on Russia’s border, is a similar provocation. Ukraine has zero to do with US security. We are the Soviets now, comrades, complete with the swaggering military, hollowed-out economy, pervasive KGB NSA surveillance, propagandistic media, and rubber-stamp parliament.

        When is our 1991 moment coming?

        1. Optimader

          Yes, well it all comes down to boomer submarines these dsys.wetherthe rest of it even works if it came to pushing the button is not so relevant

        2. Vatch

          The missiles in Cuba were large and nuclear capable. If the U.S. were to install similar weapons in Ukraine, your point would be absolutely correct. But if the weapons are smaller and conventional, such as defensive anti-tank weapons, the comparison is incorrect. Even conventional weapons that can be used offensively, such as tanks, are in a completely separate category from the Cuban missiles.

          1. Jose

            Your comparison is also incorrect.

            You can’t attack the US with tanks stationed in Cuba whereas tanks stationed in Ukraine could surely be used for offensives against Russia.

            And the Soviet missiles in Cuba were a response to US missiles in Turkey (and to US meddling in Cuban affairs – the Bay of Pigs, etc).

            Even JFK admitted that – he quietly withdrew those missiles from Turkey shortly after the Cuban crisis.

            1. Vatch

              You’re correct about the missiles that were in Turkey. However, I doubt that there are any serious plans to provide the Ukrainians with enough conventional weapons to be any kind of a threat to Russia. Meanwhile, Russia is definitely a serious threat to Ukraine (and the Baltic nations). There’s saber rattling on both sides, but it’s Russian tanks and troops that have entered another country, not the other way around.

              1. Jose

                Serious plans are never pre-announced.

                The US had no “serious plans” to enlarge NATO in 1989 (they even told Gorbacev the opposite and he was gullible enough to believe it) yet expand it they did – it´s now at the borders of a diminished Russia.

                1. Vatch

                  Well, for what it’s worth, I think Ukraine would be better off as a neutral country like Finland or Sweden. But Putin put them in a very awkward position when he annexed Ukrainian territory in February, 2014, and then provided assistance for the separatists in Donbas shortly afterwards.

                  1. OIFVet

                    Crimea was not annexed, unless you count Krushchev’s taking it from RF and giving it to Ukraine. Crimea seceded, as is their right. Keep hating them Russkies, it’s working very well for the glorious Ukie banderistas.

                    1. Vatch

                      Crimea was conquered by Russia in the 1780s, then it became a separate non-Russian autonomous republic in 1921 or 1922. In 1944 it was downgraded to a Russian oblast, and about 200,000 people were deported (many to the GULAG). In 1954 it became part of Ukraine.

                      Some of those people who were deported or their descendants came back during the 1980s. Needless to say, they do not trust Russians.

                    2. OIFVet

                      How the hell do you know that these people “do not trust the Russians”? Because a few carefully vetted “leaders” were trotted out to tell you, the Wiki-addicted seeker of simple explanations masquerading as “THE truth”, that it is so? I can just as easily carefully vet a few selected individuals to tell you the opposite. Ethnic issues are never so simple as you Wiki-educated seeker of “THE truth” want them to be. The Ottomans slaughtered countless Bulgarians over the centuries, yet ethnic Turks and Bulgarians today live in peace in the same towns and regions. Try to explain that using Wiki.

                      More to the point, did it even occur to you to ask yourself, as you typed your post, “Wait a minute, didn’t Russians control Crimea, Ukraine, and the whole of the former USSR in the 1980s when these people began to return to the Crimea?” Do you see the problem with your sweeping claims, Sparky? Again, inter-ethnic issues and relations are never as simple and straightforward as Wiki-edumacated USians want them to be. I know that simple answers to complex issues appeal to your provincialism as they make you feel well-informed and provide cover for your irrational biases and hatreds, but unfortunately for you things are never that simple and black-white as you make them out to be.

                      So why would a Tatar prefer Russia over Ukraine? First, the repeal of the language law by the junta, its very first act upon taking power. Telling for everyone but the Wiki-edumacated USians thousands of miles away. Second, the bandera-lovers talking about ethnic purity being given the key security ministries and institutions. These people can count, and in their world 2+2 still equals 4. Finally, better salaries and pensions. Pocketbook issues matter.

                      Simple, non?

                    3. optimader

                      You should consider containing you’re ad hominem attacks and hyperbole or no one will want to play with you anymore..
                      Culling through in no particular order…
                      1.) The Russian language ban meme
                      “…In short, the 2012 law was not about “giving Russian special status.” It wasn’t even specifically about the Russian language at all. But the uproar that the move to repeal it caused—all the result of both pundit incompetence and deliberate distortion even as the bill died in the legislature—gave Putin a weapon that he made full use of in Crimea and, later, in Eastern Ukraine….”

                      2.) “Second, the bandera-lovers talking about ethnic purity being given the key security ministries and institutions”
                      Rebranded version of the Hitler meme… please elaborate on who in the Rada, “ministries and institutions”” is a Bandera(ite) and what anti ethnic legislation policies they instituted. Out of curiosity, are the Bander(ites) worse than the Stalin(ites) aficionados in Russia?
                      Bottom line, what representation do Bander(ites) have in the Rada?
                      3.) “Ethnic issues are never so simple as you …want them to be”
                      Kinda like Chechnya, right?

                      3.)The Ottomans slaughtered countless Bulgarians over the centuries, yet ethnic Turks and Bulgarians today live in peace in the same towns and regions.”
                      Well, personally, I’m still not too sure about the French Acadians but I have to admit I do love their food and music… But I digress, I guess your point is ethnic divisiveness is a sham basis for The Russian Federation annex of Crimea, right?

                      4.) I haven’t seen any citations for for relative “salary benefits” advantages, but you are claiming this is a legit reason for annexing sovereign territory?
                      Eeehaw, time to have us some referendums in Chihuahua, Sonora and Baha !

                    4. optimader

                      “Crimea was not annexed,”
                      I’ll direct you to 21march, this is a decent timeline, but you can catchup on this subject at any a number of links such as:

                      “unless you count Krushchev’s taking it from RF and giving it to Ukraine.”
                      Was this not ratified by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet?. Ah, yes indeed it was (sorry for the wiki link but it’s rather concise on the subject)

                      “Crimea seceded, as is their right. ”
                      Interesting. Can you offer a citation on that that actually has a professional opinion on the subject?
                      I think this is a thoughtful one, concluding with:
                      “…I note that Russia has within it its own autonomous regions and republics. Yet, I see nothing indicating that they believe those entities can voluntarily secede from Russia.

                      Words like “self-determination” are rhetorically persuasive when kept vague but they also have actual legal meaning. One needs to be careful about setting up unreasonable expectations by claiming certain results (such as secession) as a matter of right, when no such right exists.
                      Such use of legal rhetoric does not help resolve conflicts; it only makes some people more intransigent and the conflict more intractable.”

                    5. OIFVet

                      “Ad hominem and hyperbole”: Vatch is an admitted heavy user of Wikipedia. Unless you claim that Wikipedia is an adequate and impartial source of deep knowledge, I don’t see how pointing out the superficial understanding that Wikpedia provides to be an “ad hominem”. On the other hand, I do consider the propaganda lies spread by some to be a form of an insult upon the intelligence of the commentariat.

                      “Russian language ban meme”: Huh? Where did I say it was just aimed at Russian? It is Aimed just as much at Bulgarian and all other minority languages. Nice try at deflection, and extra points for quoting Maidan propaganda. The fact is that the repeal did not die in legislation — it was duly passed and despite Turchov’s promise to veto it following international outcry, it has not been vetoed to date. So we have a de facto intention to Ukrainize minorities. How democratic. Perhaps the Maidan should ask itself why did ethnic Bulgarian organizations in Bessarabia felt compelled to send a letter to the BG president and prime minister in November 2014, alleging Ukie mistreatment and asking for protection. They are Putin’s puppets, right? It is easy for you to quote Maidan propaganda from the safety of thousands of miles, but this people have to live under the junta.Then there is the fact that the issue of ethnic minorities in Banderastan is giving momentum and popular support to toxic nationalists in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, thus destabilizing your putative allies and the ethnic peace within their own borders.

                      “please elaborate on who…” Yatsenuk, Turchinov, Avakov, Yarosh, Tyahnybok, Lyashko, Kolomoyski, to name the main banderites. The banderite-staffed NAtionalGuard reports directly to Avakov. He is also the one who appointed neo-nazi Azov Battalion deputy commander Vadim Troyan as police chief of Kiev Oblast, and has appointed other banderites to police leadership positions elsewhere. Your disingenuous question about the banderites representation in the Rada is BS cubed: it is what they control and they happen to control all the security institutions. Nice try, but them that has the guns has the power. And also too, the nazis stated as a small regional party too.

                      “Kinda like Chechnya, right?” Exactly like Chechnya.

                      “time to have us some referendums…” The more the merrier.

                      “But I digress…” Disingenuous, again. Seems to be a pattern with you when confronted with points you can’t so easily refute using empty propaganda cliches.

                      “I haven’t seen any citations…” Takes about 30 seconds of googling. I won’t hold you, get to it.

                    6. OIFVet

                      “Was this not ratified by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet?” I thought the Soviets were an evil, oppressive regime. Now you seem to claim that the Supreme Soviet was a paragon of representative democracy. Make up your mind already.

                      “I’ll direct you to 21march…” You mean after Crimea overwhelmingly voted to secede from Ukraine and asked to join Russia? What a shocking disregard for the banderite desire for “Great Ukraine” on the part of Crimeans.

                      ” Can you offer a citation…” The only legal opinion is that of the people of Ukraine, who had already voted for autonomy in the early 1990s. That was Putin’s doing too, I suppose.

                      I think this is a thoughtful one…” And just what makes you think that I don’t support the right of any people to secede from the RF should they so desire? Disingenuous argument on your part, again…

                      “Words like “self-determination”…” Oooh, a barrister weighs in. Laws, national and international, are rarely written to promote change. They are usually written to protect the status quo, for the benefit of the elites. As such “legal” rights have nothng to do with human rights, which are really all that matters. Unless of course one is just so biased against them Russkies that he is willing to embrace the status quo in order to justify such bias by clothing it in the “respectability” of the law. I can only scratch my head in wonderment as I try to figure out how your stated belief in the laws of the status quo and your stated contempt for Big Food coexist in you in regards o such things as Ag-Gag laws… My brain would explode if I were in your position.

                  2. Jackrabbit

                    For what its worth, Vatch, Russia proposed a neutral, federated Ukraine almost a year ago.

                    These various proxy wars are really a struggle for the make-up of the world order. Few in the US/West really care what happens in Ukraine.

                    And once again, what do you think would happen if Quebec fell under the sway of the Russians? That the USA would just roll over and be happy with that, or that the USA would take every measure it reasonably could to secure important area and support resistance?


                    I would say you need to re-think your position but for you it is more basic: you need to assess your own biases and assumptions.

                    H O P

                    1. OIFVet

                      “Few in the US/West really care what happens in Ukraine.” Indeed. It’s why it is the Empire of Chaos. The costs, as always, are paid by others. Yet myopia, haterism, and USian provincialism are too ingrained in some to even notice, much less care.

                    2. optimader

                      “Russia proposed a neutral, federated Ukraine almost a year ago.”
                      “each region would have control of its economy, taxes, culture, language, education and “external economic and cultural connections with neighboring countries or regions,” Lavrov said.

                      Gosh, now I wonder why a Country would not bite on an offer like that from a neighbor! Hahahah Why I’ll bet Lavrov would offer to help write it up for them too? ohh he did!

                      “Ha. I wonder if the Russkis would like a cold water port on the Atlantic? Snicker.”

                      Well, until recently they were leasing a warm water port from Ukraine, what advantage a cold water port, so they could founder some dodgy ships off the Newfi coast? BTW, Anyone know, is Russia still honoring the longterm lease contract?

                    3. OIFVet

                      “Why I’ll bet Lavrov would offer to help write it up for them too?” It’s not like he is appointing a government for them. like some other country that we all know and love… Besides, didn’t Porky play a rhetorical homage to federalization, in between shelling kindergartens and hospitals???

                  3. OIFVet

                    Get your fainting couch ready. Sarkozy: Crimea chose Russia. “Crimea has chosen Russia, and we cannot blame it [for doing so],” he said pointing out that “we must find the means to create a peacekeeping force to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine.” Heads gonna explode: first Sarkozy destroys the narrative of “evil Russkies annexing Crimea, then he goes and points out that it is Russian speakers who need protecting from the glorious, freedum-lovin’ Kiev junta (and Bulgarian speakers also but that is a matter of a separate post). Then he commits the cardinal sin: “The interests of the Americans with the Russians are not the interests of Europe and Russia,” he said adding that “we do not want the revival of a Cold War between Europe and Russia.” Indeed. Let’s hope that the rest of the Euro poodles wake up to this fact, and soon.

                    1. Vatch

                      If there had been a free and fair election, Crimea very well might have chosen Russia. But there was no such election under the watchful eyes of “the Little Green Men”. The 96.5% vote in favor of unification with Russia was a farce, worthy of North Korea or a Chicago ward politician.

                      A country’s borders need to be changed carefully, with the concurrence of both sides. The Czechs and the Slovaks managed this, but what happened in Crimea was completely different.

                    2. OIFVet

                      Far more free and fair than Florida 2000. Again, why is it so effing hard for Wiki-edumacated USians to accept that ethnic Russians and Russophone Ukrainians would prefer Russia to a bunch of bandera-lovers driving the train off the cliff? Just because you don’t like Russia and want to live in it don’t mean that Russians and Russophone Ukrainians and other Russophone minorities share your petty hatreds and biases.

              2. OIFVet

                For the n-th time, where is your evidence of these tanks and troops? Are they invisible or sumpthin’?

                1. Vatch

                  I don’t know nearly enough Russian to independently verify this, but I have read in multiple places that The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia has made numerous claims that this is occurring. Here are a couple of western sources that refer to this:


                  On Friday, the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, a respected NGO


                  Up to 15,000 Russian soldiers have been sent to Ukraine over the past two months, and at least 200 may have died in combat there, according to rights groups.

                  Moscow denies that it has deployed regular troops to Ukraine to prop up separatists battling Kiev forces, but reports have emerged over the past weeks that Russian soldiers are on the ground in Ukraine.

                  Valentina Melnikova, head of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, the main organisation representing the troops’ families, said an estimated 7,000-8,000 Russian troops were believed to be in Ukraine.

                  According to her estimates, between 10,000-15,000 troops have been deployed to Ukraine in recent weeks. “I am convinced I am right,” she said, adding that her calculations were based on information from families whose husbands and sons were sent on drills close to the border, but had subsequently gone incommunicado.

                  I’m unhappy with the discrepancy (7,000 to 8,000 in one paragraph, and 10,000 to 15,000 in another), so I’ll treat the lower estimate as the more reliable one. Another Guardian article:


                    1. Lambert Strether Post author

                      Well, we naturally have satellite photos, from an unimpeachable source (hard to imagine, after Bush’s WMDs) as opposed to somebody holding up passports on the teebee. Or did I not get the memo?

                    2. OIFVet

                      I know what you are saying, Lambert, but the Bush warmongers at least went through the motions of presenting “evidence” and recruiting “witnesses” such as Curveball. The current class of warmongers does not even pretend to go through the motions, all it offers is its say-so and urges us to check out social media as supporting evidence (per Kerry). I just think that shows even more contempt for us, the public.

                    3. Vatch

                      Regarding Muzhenko’s statement: as is often the case, reality is complex. I found this web site:


                      The Russian Defense Ministry, however, was puzzled by a statement from Muzhenko’s subordinate, Sergey Galushko, made several hours later. According to Galushko – an employee of the Department of Information Technology – Russian troops are located in the so-called “second echelon.”

                      On Thursday, Muzhenko said “the Ukrainian army is not engaged in combat operations against Russian units.” He added, however, that he had information about Russian individuals fighting in the country’s east. He also said the Ukrainian army has everything it needs to drive off armed units in Donbass. His speech was aired by Ukraine’s Channel 5 television, owned by President Petro Poroshenko.

                      Commenting on Muzhenko’s statement, Galushko said that reporters were only allowed at the open part of the meeting. He said that later, during the closed part, the chief of general staff said that Russian units are “in the second tier.”

                      So according to Galushko, Muzhenko said that the regular Russian troops are in Donbas, but they aren’t on the front lines. Are the separatists using regular Russian army weapons? Although the regular Russian army troops aren’t on the front lines now, were any of them fighting in August, 2014? These questions aren’t answered. Reality is not black and white; it is gray and multicolored, so reasonable people can disagree about complex issues. It would be nice if we could try to remain polite about things that none of us is really sure about.

                    4. OIFVet

                      “second echelon” = advisers. It is a basic doctrine of wars by proxy, we have our advisers they have their advisers. All we are is mad that they are beating us in our own game. I remember a conversion you and I had last spring, when you insisted a certain news report with the doctored photos (talking about you, NYT and Michael Gordon) showed that the “polite men” were conducting foot patrols. I explained in a detail why that’s BS: it is simply not part part of the doctrine of special forces anywhere, and would constitute a waste of training and capabilities. This still stands today as it did last spring and last August: the Donbass militia is highly motivated and capable under proper guidance. The Russians do not need to do any of the fighting last spring, last Augus, or now. The Ukies, OTOH, keep making the same mistakes time and again, like getting themselves surrounded with no lines of retreat and no resupply lines. Perhaps McCain should yell about getting the Ukies better advisers rather than more weapons, the PMCs Western bailouts are paying for are getting schooled and their Ukie advisees are dying like flies as result.

                      PS Macedonia?! I love Macedonians and their inferiority complex. Did you know that Cleopatra was Macedonian? It’s true, because it says so in the official Macedonian encyclopedia.

                2. Andrew Watts


                  No, but they’re quite visible to journalists who were reporting from the Ukrainian-Russian border.

                  “Are these army trucks resupplying rebels in Ukraine?

                  I can’t tell. But at this point, there is no doubt that Russia is outfitting anti-Kiev rebels with weapons and manpower. About a week before I got to the border here, Roland Oliphant and Shaun Walker spotted a column of Russian armor casually driving through a gap in the border fence. Russia may deny it, but at this point it is doing very little to hide its involvement. The border is huge and porous. Why drive a bunch of armor into Ukraine at the one spot that was crawling with bored journalists? It seemed like they wanted us to know — either that, or there was an Ivan Chonkin type managing the arms supplies.” -Yasha Levine, Welcome to The Luhansk People’s Republic

                  It’s quite unfortunate that the US government will never reveal the capabilities of their satellites to furnish undeniable proof of Russian involvement in Ukraine. Secrecy is for losers.

                  1. Ned Ludd

                    Below are the captions of the photos, from the article that Levine links to, as the source of his claim:

                    • “Armoured personnel carriers with Russian military plates move towards the Ukraine border.”
                    • “The aid convoy on the road in Russia”

                    Where are Oliphant’s and Walker’s photos, showing “a column of Russian armor casually driving through a gap in the border fence”? Surely, they thought to pull out their respective smartphones to photograph such a find.

                    They were pressed on this point, on Twitter, and from what I saw, just ignored people who asked them for photographic evidence. I used to follow Shaun Walker on Twitter and eventually stopped because I found him to be a dishonest, snarky, anti-Russia liberal imperialist – a fine example of The Guardian’s imperialistic drift over the last decade.

                    1. Andrew Watts

                      If those journalists did take pictures I’m guessing they wern’t in their possession for very long. They probably would’ve turned them over to the spooks in the embassy right away. Taking pictures of military forces or bases in a foreign country is something that US passport holders are explicitly warned against doing. It’s an unwise action and possibly illegal in some countries.

                      But like I said above the whole idea of Russia arming and supplying the separatists with “volunteers” isn’t that unique of a situation in history. It was also a good idea for the Russian government to ban social media use by all active duty servicemen. Putin was KGB counterintelligence after all.

                      Just sayin’…

                    2. Ned Ludd

                      Did they destroy the negatives, too? Too bad they only had 20th century film-based smartphones.

                      The Guardian article – the source of Levine’s claim – includes pictures of Russian military forces, despite what “US passport holders are explicitly warned against”. But the pictures do not show Russian forces crossing into Ukraine – they show Russian forces in Russia. Consequently, the inclusion of these pictures looks like intentional deception.

                      And why would we trust British journalists who work as an arm of their intelligence services, by turning their pictures over to spooks instead of publishing them, as you speculate?

                    3. Andrew Watts

                      The integrity of the journalists isn’t the primary issue. The separatists were in retreat and were forced to withdraw from territory they held to shorten their defensive line. Nor did they apparently have the manpower to swiftly liquidate the northern cauldron. In the absence of Russian intervention how’d the separatists suddenly turn the tide over the summer?

                      For somebody so skeptical of western media claims you don’t seem to have a problem with accepting Russian claims at face value. Your cynicism is wholly incomplete.

                    1. Andrew Watts

                      Who said anything about going to war? I am merely using this example of how f—ing serious this situation is and how far the Russians are willing to go. That’s all.

                    2. OIFVet

                      How far are the Russians willing to go? I submit they will go as far as we go. IOW, if you don’t want peed off Russkies then don’t crap in their backyard, and don’t egg on ethnic cleansing of ethnic Russians and Russophone Ukrainians by our puppets in Kiev. That way we won’t have to be yakking about serious situations of our own making. First step: force the warmongers in DC to realize that their dream of hegemony is delusional and destabilizing. Step two: force the EU puppets to care about their own people for a change.

        3. ex-PFC Chuck

          What makes the situation so dangerous is that there’s scuttlebutt that the US wants to put cruise missiles in Poland and Ukraine. If that happens Russia will have little choice but to adopt a launch-on-warning nuclear strategy, at which point the Doomsday Clock gets reset from its present 3 minutes before midnight so 30 seconds or less. When Chomsky and Kissinger are equally shrill on the same side of an issue, it’s time to listen.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Are we pivoting to Asia through Russia?

            Are we opening up a third front (across the Pacific, and up from the subcontinent)?

            1. Jackrabbit

              We are pivoting while we stand firm.

              We are opening fronts, while we close minds.


              War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

        4. Robert Dudek

          I’ve thought for some time now that the Soviets won the Cold War because the West has Sovietized itself.

        5. Yonatan

          The Cuban missiles were a response to the US placement of missiles in Turkey. The deal was to remove both sets, except the US imposed conditions that the missiles in Turkey would not be mentioned, and the US could pretend that the Soviets blinked. US domestic politics at its finest. The hubris enabled by that deception still haunts us today.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Has anyone heard any reasonable speculation on why Merkel and Hollande keep insisting that this peace mission is unlikely to succeed but worth trying anyway?

      Quite simply they’re afraid of another disastrous European war. Neither side in the conflict is willing to concede anything. The separatists will never accept the Minsk accord because it doesn’t recognize the tactical momentum shift and the gains they’ve made since the summer. The administration *cough* regime *cough cough* in Kiev won’t accept any compromise but that agreement for other reasons. Which probably includes the possibility the neo-nazi militias wouldn’t honor it, Any further diplomatic concessions may even be used as a pretext for them to wage war on Kiev itself. If you can believe some rumors on the internet a few units of the Ukrainian Army have already clashed with the militias.

      Personally, I’m not sure what to make of it all but because I’m autistic I know exactly what Putin is thinking because all autistics share a hive mind. (“It’s science.”) If peace talks fail and/or Washington is stupid enough to arm the Ukrainians the situation will escalate and Mariupol will fall to the separatists. After that event the separatists won’t stop until they take Odessa and the rest of New Russia. Russia will then send in their peacekeepers to help consolidate the separatist gains. Putin will likely get away with all this because the global economy is just as dependent on Russian oil as it is Saudi Arabian oil.

      So what does the allegation of Putin having autism have to do with this all? I think they’re trying to walk back the claim that Putin is the new Hitler. In terms of domestic politics Putin is increasingly boxed in by Russian ultra-nationalists. If he’s replaced or overthrown it’s pretty much a guarantee his replacement will be more of a nightmare than he ever was. Only this time it’ll be that much worse of a situation. The West will once again be presented with a fait accompli but the epic failure of European collective security will likely pave the road to another World War.

      1. Jackrabbit

        They have little hope for success because they are offering the same old ‘solution’ that wasn’t workable last year. What they call federalization is really devolution. And they don’t really want Ukraine to be neutral.

        Kissinger, Merkel, Hollande, etc. are being played up as ‘reasonable’ and independent voices when they really are NOT. Its just good cop / bad cop, blunting any gains by the other side, and attempts to finesse.

        Watch Lavrov’s Munich Press conference (you can find it on Saker’s site). His frustration is palpable – and for good reason.

        H O P

        1. Andrew Watts

          Mmm, I think the Europeans are getting scared. Besides the Ukrainians they have the most to lose out of this. Whether that is directly influencing Merkel or Hollande is unknown. I wouldn’t lump either of them with the likes of Kissinger though. It was interesting that they met Putin alone without any of their aides or the British tagging along for the ride.

          1. Jackrabbit

            The Europeans NOW offer to put humpty-dumpty back together again.

            I imagine the deal looks something like this:

            1) Putin pressures rebels to accept less than federalization;

            2) Europe prevents USA from sending arms (pinky swear);

            3) Europe funds rebuilding of Ukraine;

            4) Sanctions are lifted.

            If Putin balks – he is a crazy warmonger. If he accepts the deal (its for the children!), Ukraine grows stronger militarily and NATO membership is not ruled out.

            Everybody wins!?! Any IBGYBG banker-type would do this deal in a heartbeat.


            PS Why hasn’t the peace deal been made public?

            1. Andrew Watts

              Well, we don’t know what an actual peace deal would look like. My guess is that there will be an expanded demilitarized zone to compensate the separatists for their gains. The other thing you’re ignoring is how good the Russian intelligence services are at what they do. Even if the US supplied weapons to Ukraine there is a good possibility that they would never reach the front. Similarly Russia is in a position to destabilize Ukraine (and possibly Eastern Europe) if any NATO-Russia tension continued or god forbid an actual confrontation took place.

              1. OIFVet

                “Similarly Russia is in a position to destabilize Ukraine (and possibly Eastern Europe)” They don’t have to, the US is doing that superbly on its own, thank you very much.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            “… or the British tagging along for the ride.” Assuming they met in a Faraday cage and left all their electronic goodies behind, and went through scanners on the way in, yes.

        2. Jackrabbit

          You can’t ‘sell’ WAR to the public. You can only ‘sell’ peace.

          USA/Soros/et al want Europe to fund Ukraine ($50 billion request). Putin’s apparent unwillingness to reach a peace deal would help to make that happen.

          TINA is workin’ it. Big time.


          Irresponsible not to speculate has become foolish to believe what we are told.
          Because Obama.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Whatever it is they are trying to achieve, Merkel and Hollande are no Chamberlain. The current situation involves more players and is a lot messier.

  3. Carolinian

    Re the Wired story and high tech tractors: it should be said that computers have been a big step forward for all things internal combustion. My 20 year old car runs just as well as it did the day I bought it because its engine is controlled by a computer rather than the electromechanical nightmare of the engines that preceded it. The real villain of the piece is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, one of the most misbegotten laws ever passed by the US Congress. The whole notion that personal property is in fact the intellectual property of someone else has provoked a commonsense revolt among the public. I’m sure most farmers, unlike the one in the piece, aren’t waiting around on a DMCA ruling to fix their tractors. As Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing says about DRM when applied to movies and music, laws like these just cause consumers to see piracy as the obvious choice. So far there’s no indication that the war between lawyers and tinkerers is being won by the lawyers.

    1. McMike

      Sure, my car starts in the winter a whole lot better too, not to mention fuel efficiency. But when it dies, it dies, call the tow truck, there’s no limping to the shop.

      But I am not sure the tractors can be fixed by tinker-farmers. Even if you decide to hack them, it requires technical intermediaries with software skills. So far, none have been willing to publicly hang an after-market shingle, due to DMCA. It’s not the sort of thing that can scale on the black market, since I am sure the local Deer dealer would be all over them like a cheap suit..

      Was it here on NC that I read about Keurig trying to limit coffee making to their own brand containers? Man, you don’t even own your coffee maker anymore.

      Kinda puts a troubling light on the internet of things….

      1. bob

        There really aren’t ‘mechanics’ any more. Most large farm equipment is a massive, full levered capital good. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars.

        They still have people that change parts out, but all of the troubleshooting and maintenance is done by chemists, in a lab, dealing with fluid samples taken from the machines, and computer analysis. Chemists and programmers.

        Down time is not an option with an enterprise as large as a multi-million dollar combine. A few hours of down time during harvest season can completely BK the ‘farmer’ or whoever ‘owns’ the machine.

    2. different clue

      Some things MUST be digital, like computers and blogs. Some things could very well stay analog, like farming and tractors and cars. When you substitute brute silicon force for elegant analog grace, you are at the mercy of the silicon brutes. Let the silicon know all the things people can’t be bothered to know any more. Analog knowledge is lost over time.

      There is a parallel class of micro-mini farmers emerging around towns and cities, selling food directly to human customers. I suspect most of their operations are still analog. They are still a tiny sector compared to the agri-bulk commodity producers. I wonder if some of the agri-bulk producers will begin to de-digitize and re-analog to escape this level of digital gatekeeper-lamprey control.

      1. Carolinian

        Analog may have been elegant on a ’57 Chevy but when it comes to modern pollution controls you don’t want to go there. And we need those pollution controls not to mention the high gas mileage that is aided by precise computer control.

        As for John Deere, the story says some have indeed hacked the tractor firmware. This may be regarded as dubious on a $100,000 tractor but if people want to do it they should have that right. For cars traveling at high speed on the public highway it’s more questionable.

        1. McMike

          Oh I am sure a few intrepid souls have hacked their $100,000 machines – without a doubt voiding the warranty in the process.

          But this doesn’t change the overall issue that the vast majority no longer “own” or can independently maintain their equipment.

          Come to think of it, they don’t own or independently supply their seed either.

          1. Carolinian

            Actually there’s a lively subculture of hacking car “ECU” so lots of people do this. Usually, though, it’s the modern version of hot rodders rather than farmers. I think the point of the story was that the practice is literally illegal according to the DMCA which treats reverse engineering as a kind of thought crime. The mere process of figuring out how something works and publishing that information can be against the law regardless of whether you are in any way profiting from someone else’s ip.

        2. bob

          My mechanically fuel injected 1980’s VW jetta got much better mileage than anything I could buy today. Not on the label, or in EPA estimates, but in the real world. 40 mpg on the highway. Gasoline.

          1. OIFVet

            My college car was an ’89 Civic hatchback. 45MPG, and that was the sporty Si version. My current non-sporty late model Civic barely gets 33MPG.

  4. Llewelyn Moss

    Man, Dylan really rambled on in his MusiCares acceptance speech. Sounds like he really took all his critics personally; And dissed the music industry in general for being so Top-10 Hit focused. Pretty much agree. I don’t listen to the radio anymore. It all sounds like glitzy, auto-tuned, computer generated, “Look at me, I’m a star.” crap.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      No, I disagree (except when he got wound round the axle on the critics). I saw name check after name check. That’s a good thing! And it’s good to see how rooted his work is.

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        Definitely, he acknowledged lots of people who helped him move forward. I’m a big Dylan fan. I thought it was a pretty good speech. And why not critique the critics.

        My little Dylan story. Back in the 70s I was waiting outside his tour bus to snap his photo. Just a kid with a really crappy camera. When he exited the bus, instead of bee lining directly into the civic center, he took a few steps over to me and tipped his hat for the photo.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Back at the turn of the millennium a few friends decided we wanted to start a vintage limo service. Our first restoration was ’79 stretch Lincoln which we painted deep metallic purple and named Shaft. What happened in that car? Everything! Among my favorite memories was on a whim, following Bob on tour through Arkansas and Missouri for a few shows… taking back roads the entire way.

          Rick James, among others, loved that car.

        2. Linda J

          Aw shucks, yeah, if you want to overlook the Victoria’s Secret ads and his stubborn Zionism, he’s great. Just like Bruce Springfield crossing union picket lines, I don’t blame Bob; just people who don’t want to see this stuff. “Dylan’s songwriting has always meant what his audience wants him to mean.”

  5. Carla

    Re: Financial Times story on Yanis Varoufakis: we know what it means when the media focus on a public figure’s choice of clothing. Women and our accomplishments have been marginalized this way ever since we got “uppity.”

    1. Ulysses

      Apologies if this story has already been linked here:

      “The municipal authorities in Patras have removed the European flag from the municipal building. The empty space is now filled with a flag with the emblem of the city. So, from now on, two flags of the municipality and the national flag of Greece in the middle will flutter in front of the building. In statements to the local online edition, municipal government spokesman Andreas Antonopoulos gave grounds for the decision by saying, “The flag of the European Union was removed because it is a symbol that people hate.”

      It appears the Eurocrats haven’t been too successful in their campaign to win the “hearts and minds” of the Greek people. OTOH if the Eurocrats’ intention all along has been to push them out, then their campaign is doing quite well!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        ‘It’s important they start the war that we want to have.’

        ‘It’s important they vote the candidate we want.’

        ‘Its important they make the move to leave when we want them to be gone.’

        ‘We are not ancient Egyptian pharaohs after all. We need to and we are much smarter. We don’t lord over the people. We are their servants here to serve them. We spend in the name of helping them. We conquer in the name of protecting them.’

    2. MartyH

      Somehow, I don’t think Yanis V. is playing to the FT. Their attempt at marginalization is predictable. They would find something wrong with his tie or vest or shoes if he dressed like a Bankster Penguin. They can’t like him.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Varoufakis is a game theorist. But any one who plays poker can join in.

        It’s bluff, reverse psychology, double/triple reverse psychology, etc.

        When Yanis is too composed and charming, I worry if he’s panicking inside. And if he’s panicking on the outside, maybe I feel better thinking he’s got an ace up his sleeve.

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      Informative article in the Financial Timesabout Yanis Varoufakis and his roots. I didn’t feel the writer was ridiculing the Greek Finance Minister, but rather implicitly acknowledging that his manner and dress may symbolize a profound turn from the recent past for Greece. When I read his observation in the FT ““Sometimes the larger, powerful democracies undermined themselves by crushing the smaller ones,” I was reminded of Gandhi:

      “Ridicule is like repression. Both give place to respect when they fail to produce the intended effect. … It will be admitted that non-co-operation has passed the stage [of] ridicule. Whether it will now be met by repression or respect remains to be seen. … But the testing time has now arrived. In a civilized country when ridicule fails to kill a movement it begins to command respect.”

  6. Garrett Pace

    Princess bedrooms?

    These articles are part of the problem. They don’t discuss the aesthetic touches, the effects on the imagination, the semiotics of role-playing. It’s just how much $$$ did each feature cost. That’s the only thing that matters to them.

    It’s a shorthand way for the culturally illiterate to measure quality – it must be good because it’s expensive.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Do a follow-up study on these pampered kids 20 years from now, and tote up the psychological damage.

      One thing’s for sure: people who start ‘lean, hungry’ companies don’t grow up surrounded by every luxury that mommy and daddy (who have their own psychological problems involving the substitution of money for love) can buy.

      Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.

        1. jrs

          It probably takes more than that to drive a person to drugs, they’ll be in therapy though. Grandiosity, narcissism, delusion, lack of contact with reality. Then again maybe those are desirable traits in the ruling class.

  7. Kelly

    On the article “The Search For Neutrons That Leak Into Our World From Other Universes”.

    I recall from thermodynamics 101 that our universe is treated as a closed system. That way, natural laws (such as entropy always increases for the ‘system’ continue to be true.

    It’s how entropy decreases locally to form people and rocks and stuff, while universal entropy increases for these processes. (what most biblical literalists can’t seem to understand about evolution. Local vs universal production of entropy)

    Seems the premise of cross universal leakage would upset basic thermodynamics.

    P.S- entropy often called the arrow of time- i.e. we know time is going forward because entropy is increasing. Yes hecklers, universal entropy change can be zero, but never negative.

  8. Benedict@Large

    Health insurers may be finding new ways to discriminate against patients (WaPo)

    I’m surprised this even has to be a story. This was written right up front into the law. Why wasn’t this reported before the law was enacted?

    As for insurers gaming the system, EVERYONE is gaming the system. Like PhRMA and their new policy of the $10,000 pill. Is it any wonder when insurers then feel they have to monkey with their formularies then? Two branches of BigMed, both tearing at our wallets over the same nickels and dimes, seeing who can get the bigger share. While we’re caught in the middle, unprotected by a BigLobby’d government who puts a little dose of Free Market into every prescription bottle.

    But don’t worry. The Republicans are coming.

    Burr, Hatch, Upton Unveil Obamacare Replacement Plan – February 5, 2015

  9. Andrew Watts

    RE: How the ACLU, Ron Paul and a former EFF Director helped jail a CIA whistleblower

    Hah! Characterizing the late Senator Moynihan as the Democratic Party’s leading neocon is a smear verging on the ridiculous. The Democrats were trying to gain control of the Senate at the time and doing nothing in the aftermath of the assassination of Welch wasn’t an option. At least Ames mentions the fact that Moynihan came out against the bill he introduced, and a few other relevant biographical details, but it wasn’t a surprise and his assertion about the Senator is a bad joke.

    In any case it’s good that Kiriakou is out of prison. Next up: Manning. Whose disclosures revealed the US military’s complicity in the Bush Administration’s torture regime. For more information see Gareth Porter’s investigative reporting into the matter.

    1. sd

      Good lord. Do your research. Senator Moynihan was indeed a neocon. See: Coalition for a Demcratic Majority. They are all there.

      1. Vatch

        Moynihan did not easily fit into any predefined categories. The Wikipedia page about him provides evidence of his ideological elusiveness:

        He voted against the death penalty; the flag desecration amendment;[34] the balanced budget amendment, the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act; the Defense of Marriage Act; the Communications Decency Act; and the North American Free Trade Agreement. He was critical of proposals to replace the progressive income tax with a flat tax. Moynihan surprised many in 1991 when he voted against authorization of the Gulf War. Despite his earlier writings on the negative effects of the welfare state, he surprised many people again by voting against welfare reform in 1996.

        1. Andrew Watts


          There isn’t any doubt that Moynihan was pro-Israel. The Coalition for a Democratic Majority was a pro-Israeli organization. Just because somebody is pro-Israel doesn’t automatically make them a neoconservative even though all neocons are firmly in that particular camp.

          1. sd

            Committee on Democratic Majority sponsored the Coalition on Present Danger which essentially advocated that US Foreign policy be based on militarism. Moynihan was very clear he supported a militaristic doctrine and used his bully pulpit in support.

            1. Andrew Watts


              …and where’s Senator Moynihan public endorsement of that sponsored organization?

              Sen. Moynihan was a well-known critic of the Reagan administration’s foreign policy in Latin America and in particular it’s obsession with communism. Before he became a Senator he supported the political line of whichever administration he served. If that isn’t solid evidence that he wasn’t a neocon I don’t know what is.

  10. Vatch

    A couple of days ago, NC featured a very useful article about the flaws of the U.S. H-1B visa system (In Search of Cheap Labor by Wolf Richter. Here’s a new article at Computer World reporting that Representative Darrell Issa is “disturbed” by reports of the layoffs at Southern California Edison. The huge irony is that Issa claims his bill from the last Congress, HR2131, would solve the problem. That was a bill to increase the number of H-1B visas!!

    From the bill’s introduction:

    Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act or SKILLS Visa Act – Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to set worldwide employment-based immigration levels at: (1) 140,000 through FY2013, and (2) 235,000 beginning in FY 2014 reduced by the number of returned visas resulting from the elimination of the diversity immigrant program.

    The contrast between Issa’s public statement and the bill that he introduced and continues to praise is quite Orwellian.

    1. fresno dan

      funny – I ready the sentence too quickly (hey – its kinda of a complex sentence structure) and interpreted it as meaning that Williams plunging “non” believably was the problem (i.e., the two negatives would mean that his credibility is increasing…uh, which makes one think: Would the Times regard that as a problem?)

  11. craazyman

    This is huge! This is bigger than all the strident narrative political and economic fabulations disguised as “news” and “analysis” that march through the mind like a parade of thought clowns numbing what remains of the human person after the bludgeoning of stupidity they endure at the “day job” limbers them up for a final blow the way a wooden mallet limbers up a steak for the grill, and when they turn on a TV or read an Op-Ed they get it.

    No. This is huge. They have caught Bigfoot on video at Yellowstone Park. This can”t possibly be a hoax, unless somebody put on a Bigfoot suit and snowshoes, possibly since they can’t make crops circles in the snow and need something to do before spring. That can”t be completely dismissed as a plausible explanation — since there are no doubt people who would amuse themselves that way –, but there are many problems with that theory and Occam’s Razor would suggest this is just what it looks like.


    1. Vatch

      A yeti (abominable snowman) is one of the characters in the book Escape from Katmandu, by Kim Stanley Robinson.

      Spoiler alert!

      There’s a scene in which the yeti is wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses in an elevator, and ex-President Jimmy Carter is also in the elevator. The Secret Service guys are somewhat suspicious of the guy wearing the sunglasses and baseball cap. I think the book might have been fictional.

      1. craazyman

        all right, I’ll go on record with the opinion this video is probably a hoax. The bigfoot’s arms seem too short and they bend at the elbows like a guy polling his way across snow on skis, and the posture seems too erect, with a shuffling gait that looks like a dude walking snow shoes or cross country skis.

        On the other hand, the bigfoots do in fact seem very very tall, it’s hard to tell but you’d think something that far off in the distance, compared to the foreground bison, would be 8 or 9 feet tall. Obviously That’s non human scale and would be hard to fake, if that perspective is realistic distance-wise.

        Also there are many species of bigfoot-like phenomenon, some are thin and wiry, some are dog-headed beasts with human-like torsos and red eyes that glow in the dark, some are 10 to 14 feet tall while others are 6 feet. Some are gray and reddish-gray, not dark brown. Few are below 6 feet. Below 6′ and you start getting into the realms of Little People and Gnomes. The Bigfoot type I’m most familiar with is about 8 feet tall and thick across the torso and head like a huge gorilla with long ape-like arms that swing in pendulouus arcs from its shoulders. That’s clearly not what we see here. These are pencil-necked skinny Bigfoot Geeks by comparison, maybe it’s an expedition of Bigfoot scientists doing research on global cooling. You never know.

    2. craazyboy

      I know you are excited about this, craazyman, but when you calm down after a few hours, I think you should read this wiki about “run on sentences” before posting again. Just a little reminder.

      But, yeah, video of Bigfoot is huge! And if they say bipeds are bigfoots – I couldn’t argue with that.

      But I know how you want that 10 bagger so you can quit your day job and pursue your dream of becoming a paranormal investigator- whether it pays money or not. Catching a Bigfoot would be really, really big (and I mean a real Bigfoot – not a Montana Snowwomen – they’re too easy.), so you still have an opportunity to vault to the top of your new field if you can just nail that 10 bagger and get to work tracking down Bigfoot.

      Stay focused and I’m sure it can happen for you!

      1. craazyman

        did you see in that FT article somebody else said Professor V looks like a night club bouncer? Evidently it wasn’t just you and me who had that impression. But everybody here in the peanut gallery thinks the FT article was a smear. I didn’t think so at all. it seemed like a human interest story written in good humor. Who has patience anymore for tedious analysis? It’s usually so boring you can hardly get through the first few paragraphs. i know I can’t. First they quote a bunch of numbers in the hundreds of billions, then they say something about ‘competitiveness’ then they use about 67 acronyms like ECB, IMF, EU, EMU, Toika, inspectors, (I know those aren’t acronyms but after a while you don”t care), BUBA, Finland, SNB, then they talk about agreements and programmes (with two m’s and an e, they don”t even spell it rite). Who can make sense of any of that? For some people it’s like a crossword puzzle or knitting. They wake up and start thinking about it and they pick it up and they start working it. It just goes around and around. It never goes anywhere. Then they go to bed. Anyway, the FT article quoted some woman, i think a Spanish politiician, who said professor V is pretty hunky. That’s not too bad. They also saiid he rides a motor cycle and looks like a movie star. That”s not bad. I don’t know what the problem with that is. I guess some people lose their sense of humor reading too many analyses of acronyms and numbers in the hundreds of billions and all the tendentious reasoning why this is that and what’s what. There are many categories of problems that can’t be solved by logic or rational reasoning of any kind. Certainly the problems in Europe are that way. They are not solvable by math or reasoning. They are only solvable with a change in perception of the fundamental reality. I see that”s what Professor V is trying to do, and frankly I think he’ll do better than alot of people think. Because that”s the reality people want, even the people who dont think they do, they really do, and the politicians will realize that, slowly at first, and then all of a sudden. It’s just hard to time it. i bet GREK is a 3 bagger from here.

        1. craazyboy

          Didn’t read the FT article. Too lazy today to first search around the pay wall, then actually read ANOTHER article about Greece. But sure, it’s obvious Dr. V looks like a night club bouncer. But speaking of opinions, Greenspan came out and said he thinks Greece exits, and can’t see how the Euro can survive long term with or without Greece. So long term Europe becomes a big cornucopia of brightly colored paper money again. What’s not to like? Greenspan also became a gold bug recently.

          Anyway, my feelings about things in general that have no logical solution was summed up in a youtube video I tried posting this morning. But youtube links seem to trigger the Devourer and it went into internet purgatory and no one has dug it out yet. So I’ll say what it was about. Some guy has a herd of cows and he drives a RC Monster Truck around playing with the cows. The cows chase the truck, then the truck stops and turns facing down the stampeding herd. The herd stops on a dime and act scared of the truck. Then the truck bolts for some open space, and the herd goes in hot pursuit.

          You can go to youtube and do a search on “Cows chasing a RC car around a field” and watch it. Guaranteed to bust a nut!

  12. Brooklin Bridge

    It’s become an incredible slog, wading through all the propaganda regarding Ukraine looking for bits and peices of fact. All I could manage out of this recent steaming pile (except for Moon) was that Merkel and Hollande went to Moscow to meet with Putin.

    So it’s guessing, but still, It’s just possible that a ray of sanity managed to get through to Merkel. It’s like trying to whisper a message through a forty foot thick concrete wall. And until she (and the French poodle that travels with her) publicly rejects further economic sanctions and starts to lift the current ones (or allow them to expire), it won’t make all that much difference. Economic war is war. It’s just as lethal and creates just as much resentment so for the US to send arms to Ukraine on top of it is pure provocation to extreme potential for run away escalation.

    Europe will come to it’s senses or it will pay an incredible price as Joe Biden smokes a cigar and ponders how he can profit from the ash heap (and that’s assuming it isn’t all out nuclear war and we go up with it). And our utterly shameless Baghdad Bob media doesn’t help anyone, least of all the pathetic politicians who swallow this pathetic swagger wholesale.

    1. tgs

      Even if Merkel and the poodle are coming to their senses, I can’t see Washington allowing the French and the Germans to cut a deal with Putin. The puppets who govern Poland, Lithuania, Latvia etc.,, will also attempt to scuttle any peaceful solution.

      And there’s this from our vice-president:

      US Vice President Joe Biden has called on European countries to show unity when it comes to sanctions against Russia, labeling the dissenting voices “inappropriate and annoying

      Surely, that’s pretty much the thinking in DC

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Biden, what a bufoon! But yes, that’s the thinking in Washington, no matter how embarrassing.

        Merkel has to decide whether she wants Germany to go up in a cloud of smoke or whether she
        wants to play German Shepard attack dog for DC. At least it’s clear she gets the options now.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘Economic war is war.’

      Thus, non-violence (we usually think of violence as physical violence) can kill too.
      But because usually we associate violence with physical violence, it’s important to get the other side to get ‘physical’ first.

      “They started it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

      By the way, ‘I know you have been emotionally abused badly over the years, but you shouldn’t use force (to slap him/her on the face shove/push someone, or to chop down his/her tree, for example).’ What values are we assigning to severe, prolonged emotional abuse vs. use of force, in any amount?

      I think the rule is any use of force is worse than emotional/psychological/spiritual abuses, even if we suspect the latter can kill spiritually or, in fact, reduce life span more than some use of force.

  13. Jef

    “Gauging the financial crisis end game”

    Again with the everything has to do with banking/finance BS! Maybe cancer research needs to start looking for a connection between finance and cancer in order to find a cure ;-}

    Break even, whether in reference to production of oil or the Fiscal break-even of exporting Countries, is not relevant to the Global economic crisis unless we are talking about prices 10 times or even 100 times break even. Since all money is loaned into existence Banking/finance demands very large surplus in order to exist.

    The Global economy/capitalism has evolved to the point where the vast majority of business is about extracting the excess out of any and all operations. That is the issue at hand. Oil has historically generated massive excess in all human operations which is what has allowed this process to evolve. One penny’s worth of oil could perform the equivalent labor of a hundred men. This is what built the Global economy that everyone is in awe of not finance. Banking/finance has simply held on with both hands and hitched on for the ride. Eventually banking/finance got a foot hold and was able to get a jump on this excess, eventually even jumping ahead of this excess and reaping the profits from it before it even happened. Then the constraints started to show and banking/finance thought “no problem, we can fly on our own now”. WRONG!

    As long as we treat this crisis as one of just about banking/finance we will never accomplish anything. We will keep kicking wingless birds out of the nest at 200 feet and watch as they flap their stumps then splat!

    P.S. Alternative/renewable energy is like $150 to $200 oil sure is it useful and we can use it but it doesn’t generate more than a teaspoon of excess and is therefore useless to the current Global economic system.

  14. Vatch

    Regarding the Antidote: Did those foxes manage to tree a fox hunting member of the British aristocracy? I hope so!

  15. roadrider

    Re: The job market is unquestionably improving

    Really? I don’t know if I have the words for how sick and disgusted I am with think-tank pukes like Jared Bernstein and their triumphalism concerning the too-little, too-late nature of an anemic “recovery” that has failed most of us who have suffered the consequences of the economic collapse.

    So there’s been a small uptick in the number of “sidelined” workers joining the job market. Well that’s fine as far as it goes but as the Economic Policy Institute points out there are still nearly six million “sidelined” workers remaining and if they all rejoined the job market the unemployment rate would be 9%.

    Its even worse than that for those of us in the ranks of the long-term unemployed because we are now considered undesirable by most employers. Even if the job market recovers we will be left out. The damage to our careers, our savings and our lives will never be made up and we will more than likely be forced into too-early retirement or extremely crapified jobs that guys like Bernstein will never have to stoop to. But it will be “Mission Accomplished” for the tribal Dem/Obot loyalists. The permanently disemployed will merely be the breakage.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Just had a look at Twitter’s #TheTruthMatters and it appears to be a conservative messaging platform. I do not endorse that.

        By “TheTruthMatters” I meant to support the end of the lies and media corruption that keep people uninformed and deceived. I guess I will have to find a different term for it.

  16. Carolinian

    With regard to Lindsey and Moon of Alabama I’d just like to apologize on behalf of my fellow Carolinians. Clearly power, or at least the power to get yourself on television, still corrupts–the absolute power to get yourself on television corrupts absolutely. Thanks to the recent election we lucky SC voters have 6 more years of Senator Huckleberry. Perhaps someday the Democrats, or someone, will decide to seriously contest his office.

    1. OIFVet

      Oh no need, I for one enjoy watching Miss Lindsey’s pretending to have the vapours. All that’s missing to make the show even better is a fainting couch and smelling salts. John McCain should see to those.

  17. Mel

    This is amusing:

    The Rise of the Frugal Economy … A self-organizing frugal economy could generate billions of dollars in value and create millions of jobs in the medium term.

    Except the reason the people started making the stuff in the first place is that they didn’t have billions of dollars to spend on it. That’s apart from the non-economic motive of getting more control over their stuff (and thus the fraction of their lives where they use the stuff.)

  18. GuyFawkesLives

    “The job market’s heating up.”

    Now maybe I can get two more service level $10/hour jobs so that I can pay my mortgage payment?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You have to let the guy come up for a breather when you’re waterboarding, I believe that’s proper technique.

    2. fresno dan

      ONLY two!!!! Are you one of those pansies who think they need time for sleep? Or eating? Or showering – our great marketplace has invented deodorant – now slather up and get cracking!

      1. GuyFawkesLives

        Dan, Dan, Dan…..I said two MORE jobs.
        Cuz my one service level $10/hour job doesn’t even buy groceries.

  19. andyb

    The article about the various possible financial end games could have been written by a FED lackey. His preferred scenario certainly is the same as that of the 1%. Obviously the master criminals would like nothing better than to keep kicking the can and preserving the status quo of debt enslavement and the incremental march to totalitarian control. But the neo-Keynesian solution for creating more debt to cover old debt is absolute insanity, and it can not last much longer. I envision a USD devaluation this year, and a derivative implosion that will have a disastrous domino effect. The FED and other central banks are backed into a corner; there is no way other other than a debt jubilee or WWIII. The most likely is the latter.

  20. OIFVet

    UChicago commissions a poll on Obama library (PDF link). I would say that the methodology of this poll was absolutely designed to elicit a higher approval for the library using park land amongst the locals. The most glaring bias-eliciting concerns the wording of the description of the opponents of the plan by presenting only part of their position while omitting the main source of contention: the appropriateness of using public park land for a private museum. Another issue is that the questions were meant to elicit a racial bias by stressing that Obama is the “first black president” (as if) to respondents who are overwhelmingly black. That’s how “public opinion” gets shaped these days. Bernays would be proud.

  21. lightningclap

    Great Dylan speech! He gives credit where due, name-checking others who are also distinctly non-commercial individuals. I especially like that there’s “nothing special” about what he’s done; that anyone who was immersed in Folk / Country / etc. traditions could do the same. There is SOME truth to that, but he’s being very humble.

    I come here for the hard news, but the Dylan link inspired me this morning.

  22. lord koos

    Regarding chili peppers — “pain” is very subjective. Chili peppers have a strong sensation, however it is a cultural bias to refer to it as pain, rather than labeling it some other sensation or association. In many places chili heat is not thought of as pain.

    1. Vince in MN

      Yes, it the term “pain” seems to imply that those who like chili peppers are of the same ilk as those who enjoy root canals without anesthetic.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      My other question is, why do people like the pleasure of sugar?

      Well, maybe moderate amount of it. Why then, do some like the pleasure of excess sugar?

      And why do some like the pleasure of excess wealth?

      It seems then, pain and pleasure are no good guides to what we should do. Our human biology has come up short???

    3. Santi

      I recently discovered that chili greatly improved my irritable bowel/diverticulitis/you name it disease symptoms, quite accidentally, due to an error in a goulash someone prepared to me. I’ve never liked hot spices, so I don’t usually eat them or use them for my cooking.

      I have been researching after that, and some people told me in Bolivia they use chili to cure gastritis, paradoxal as it looks. There are some scientific papers related to what is called neurogenic inflammation, and how capsaicin works on it. So I wouldn’t rule more health effects on it than claimed in the paper. I am seeing that a small dose of chili, around two/three hot chili in vinegar mouthfuls a week, is enough to kill this inflammation for me.

  23. Linda J

    So bringing up Dylan’s Zionism and Bruce’s crossing union picket lines doesn’t make it through moderation? Sad. Sacred cows, I guess.

  24. different clue

    So global warming will heaterize parts of Australia worst of all? One can only hope that the worst effects visit
    those parts of Australia which voted most strongly for Abbot. Let the Abbotoids die of that for which they voted.

  25. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    FAA…moon activities.

    Who has the ‘legitimate’ authority?

    The UN? The Moonies?

    Is the Moon the 51st state?

      1. ambrit

        Oh well, there I go again violating Rule #1 of commenting: Read the link before commenting.
        Time to repeat some slowing down exercises.

  26. Marianne Jones

    “How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science”

    Bias? Try outright discrimination and active demoralization. 4th grade teacher, during a report card review, told me “Your math grade is low, but that’s okay because girls are not good at math.” 35 years later, my mother is still pissed off with that teacher. As she puts it “it gave you permission to slack off and your math performance suffered until high school.”

    What was really going on at the time was an issue with visual number handling, a kind of dyslexia. Once I progressed to algebra and geometry that was less number dependent, and I went from a Cs to As. Geometry, I was top of my class. Math teachers who had written me off were bewildered. I still have issues with number handling. 7s become 9s. 9s to 7s, 6s to 9s, 9s to 6s. Reading numbers aloud, writing numbers I hear requires hyper awareness.

    Back when I was a young student, I could have benefited from some sort of remedial intervention because I’ve proven to myself that certain repetitive tasks (ex. seeing number, typing it) reduced the transcription errors. But instead of educational support, I was on the receiving end of gender bias.

  27. fresno dan

    Our Amazingly Plastic Brains Wall Street Journal

    “Imagine if there were a drug that could reduce the risk of dementia by 60%. It would be the most talked-about drug in history, but this astonishing finding has been fairly quietly received.”

    Imagine that…now, a cynic who doesn’t believe in the market might think that’s because there is no money in it for doctors or drug companies to encourage healthy eating and exercise….

  28. blowncue

    I really thought there would be a deal on Greece, but now I wonder if they are going to blow up Alderaan to scare the south into submission.

  29. Yonatan

    The Ukraine Peace Process (TM) is as meaningful as the Israel/Palestine Peace Process (TM). In this case, three of the main actors, the US, the Ukrainian Nazis and the Novorossians are not party to it. The Nazis will ignore any process thought up by Merkel et al as the have done will all ceasefires to date. Yesterday, the Novorossians negotiated a ceasefire in the Debaltsevo cauldron, supposedly to allow trapped civilians to be bussed out. The Nazis opened fire on the civilian convoy so very few civilians got out. The OSCE was supposedly monitoring this convoy but not the Ukrainians who took the opportunity to ship out some of their wounded and to ship in more ammunition.

    The results of the process is supposed to be presented to Poroshenko. If he wants to remain in power, the Nazis will make sure he ignores it. If there is a coup, and Yatsenyuk gains power, the Nazis will be given free reign anyway. The Novorossians will not tolerate attempts at ethnic cleansing by the Nazis and will be compelled to defend themselves. Putin will then have the choice of supporting them or not. If he declines and the voentorg is closed, the Nazis will eventually finish their job and Putin will lose power in Russia for failing to support the Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Therefore he will be bound to continue supporting them. The US, in turn, will see no problem with long term low level supply of weapons to the Ukrainians keeping the conflict alive as a festering sore.

    The only solution is to remove the Nazis and the corrupt oligarchs.

    1. Jackrabbit

      Sadly, there are not many who share our skepticism (see my comment above), Yonatan. Too many are just not paying attention and thus all too willing to accept the official narrative.

  30. OIFVet

    Cyprus has offered Russia to have air and navy bases on its territory. “Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades announced that the country is ready to host Russian aviation and naval bases. The official agreement on military cooperation between the two nations is expected be signed on February 25, 2015, according to”

    The US-EU game of containment has succeeded in giving Russia access to the Mediterranean, something it has sought for centuries. Let us all congratulate neolibcon foreign policy for yet another success. First they failed to get their grubby little hands on Sevastopol, and now Russia is about to get it’s long-sought Mediterranean base. Could it be that Greeks and Cypriots, unlike the other EU lemmings, have finally realized that true aggression comes from the West? We can now begin the countdown to another color revolution.

      1. OIFVet

        True. More’s the pity: the world needs Russian bases in the Mediterranean like it needs a hole in its head. Same with the new NATO (read US) command centers and quick reaction forces in six Eastern European countries, that were announced last week. These developments will only further destabilize the world, and Europe in particular. As a native European I simply can’t wrap my head around the idiocy of Euro “elites”. They either don’t realize that the US is undermining their countries’ interests, or don’t care. Either way, as lousy as US elites are, I think that the EU elites should bear the lion’s share of the blame for being servile lemming.

        1. I.G.I.

          NATO will build its command centre in Sofia…. Somehow the Bulgarians always manage pick the wrong side to join forces with – in all 20th century conflicts they fought on the wicked side. At least back then the policy was driven by nationalist aim of territorial expansion; in contrast the current governments appear to be guided only by obsequiousness before the US hegemonic power.

          1. OIFVet

            Sadly true. I should note that there were NEVER Soviet troops stationed in Bulgaria when it was part of the Warsaw Pact. Now there will be NATO troops stationed there, thus confirming its colonial status. Sold out by its elites yet again. There was a protest in front of the presidency on Sunday against the stationing of NATO troops. As if the puppet would deign to listen to his putative subjects.

            1. I.G.I.

              Of course those in power will not listen to a handful of protesters… and why should they when the entire political and intellectual strata sold out for the reason of corruptibility and/or conformity. The barbaric neoliberal policies were in full swing in Bulgaria since the beginning of the 1990s, far much longer than in Greece; the devastation by all accounts is far greater though it doesn’t benefit from the media coverage accorded to Greece. Yet, I am sad to say, the Bulgarians proved incapable to muster the moral and intellectual courage and elect from among themselves an opposition force similar to Syriza. The parallel is very telling because until relatively recently (end of 19th century) both Greeks and Bulgarians were part of the same state (the Ottoman empire) and of the same self-governing orthodox Christian millet (the principal self-identification in those times); and consequently both modern nations share a lot in terms of culture and mentality.

              1. OIFVet

                Yes, 25 years of neoliberal policies have done more material and moral damage than 500 years of Ottoman occupation. Just like 25 years of neoliberalism have done more damage in Eastern Europe in general than Soviet times ever did. Negative birth rates, especially in the Baltics and Bulgaria, that seems a fitting epitaph for the anti-human nature of neoliberalism. Do not wait for a Syriza in Bulgaria, unfortunately the “left socialists” were willing participants in the neoliberalization of the country, just like the “lefty” democrats in the US and the “socialists” in France, thus the left has lost all credibility. I am afraid all you can expect in BG is right wing populism of the LePen variety. More’s the pity. I hope that Syriza is successful in giving the Greek people a measure of economic well-being and the dignity that comes with it, they deserve it.

  31. jrs

    I wouldn’t equate the middle class with those who serve the rich and powerful, because they don’t all. Well except in the sense that to labor in this economic system AT ALL, at any level, serves the rich and powerful, which while true enough, isn’t very meaningful for anyone who has to work to live. I’d believe 35% are middle class and of that 35%, it could be true that over 50% serve wealth and power (the 20% but I think it might be more like 10%).

    Although I don’t find an article that doesn’t reference cost of living in talking about what wages are poor, middle class and upper middle class very meaningful at all. He thinks a middle class income should be able to pay a mortgage, and yet calls a 100k income upper middle class. But that won’t pay the mortgage in somewhere like silicon valley of course. And yet I wouldn’t call 100k poor even in Silicon valley, so the metrics are off, due to no consideration for cost of living variances.

  32. Winston

    The New York Times Does What It’s Told:
    What the media’s not telling you about our next likely foreign intervention

    No Doubt: US Taxpayers Will be Robbed to Arm Poroshenko

    Sending weapons to Ukraine would escalate violence – UK Defence Secretary
    Nightmare or Necessity: Is It Time for Regime Change in Russia?

  33. ambrit

    I hold an unpopular view on a certain subject here on NC. Fair enough. However, some news out of an ACLU FOI request should concern us all. The DEA has suggested, which usually means they are already doing it, that they start using License Plate Readers at gun shows to keep a data base of everyone who attends a gun show for any reason. (Another government list I’m probably on.) No matter what your politics are concerning guns, this is a dangerous precedent for all of us. Simply put, this is a form of warrantless search. It can be implemented anywhere. If the theocrats gain power, it can be used to keep track of those pesky Methodists, or LDS, or Hebrews, or whoever is on the outs.
    Appended find the FOI document. Do notice how much of it has been redacted.

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