Links 2/9/15

‘SpongeBob’ unseats ‘Sniper’ at weekend box office AP

Fluid fragmentation shapes rain-induced foliar disease transmission The Royal Society

A tidal wave of global capital is looking for safety and Rise in financial alchemy is worryingly familiar FT

Well Connected at Home, Young Malaysian Has an Appetite for New York New York Times. And by “New York,” we mean “New York real estate.” I’m reliably informed that this will be a scandal of SHTF hugeness in Malaysia; this video from the local opposition explains gives the rich, seamy background. If there are any Asia hands reading NC today, I’d like to know your views in comments.

HSBC files show how Swiss bank helped clients dodge taxes and hide millions Guardian. Part 1 of a series.

US scrutiny of Barclays and UBS widens forex trading probe FT. So many small fish we could make nuoc mam.

Hedge funds short property companies as London housing wobbles FT

Dubai’s Real-Estate Moguls Bet on Another Property Boom WSJ

The Fraud Years Paul Krugman, New York Times. Krugman names names. Ha, fooled ya. You thought the headline meant financial fraud, as in accounting control fraud, didn’t you? The past is not dead….

Comcast calls customer ‘Super B—-‘ on bill CNN. I say let’s give control of the Internet to the cable companies because….

FACT CHECK: What happens if Homeland Security shuts down? AP. Hopefully what happened when the NYPD started arresting people only when it was “absolutely necessary.” Nothing.

Colombia Marxist rebels invite Miss Universe to attend peace talks Al Arabiya


Greek prime minister not backing down Ekathimerini. Quotes from Tsipras barnburner in Parliment, which got a standing ovation.

No extension to Greek bailout, says Tsipras FT. “We will put an end to this damaging tripartite arrangement of interest groups, the political system and the media.” Which the EU likes, actually, since this gets operationalized through fighting tax evasion by oligarchs.

Highlights: Greek PM Tsipras outlines government policies Reuters

Greek finance minister says euro will collapse if Greece exits Reuters

The Greek Varometer Al Jazeera. “φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θέοισιν…”

Greek bank deposit migration – another neo-liberal smokescreen Bill Mitchell

Greece: Greenspan predicts exit from euro inevitable BBC

The next card Yanis Varoufakis will play The Conversation

Russia is reportedly getting military bases in an EU state Businesss Insider. Cyprus. Do note the “reportedly.”

Cyprus President slams British diplomat In Cyprus. Source of the above in the last paragraphs? Heaven knows the Cypriots have every reason to twist the EU’s tail — and especially the ECB’s — but when you read to the end, this looks either like a non-story, or Anastasiades trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.


Ukraine conflict: four-nation peace talks in Minsk aim to end crisis Guardian

Ukraine conflict: Merkel takes peace plan to Obama BBC

Leaders scramble to avert ‘dramatic spiral’ in Ukraine Reuters

Don’t Arm Ukraine New York Times. C’mon. What could go wrong?

Legal Options for Ukraine’s Russian Debt Problem Credit Slips

Sarkozy: Crimea cannot be blamed for joining Russia RT


UAE orders stationing of F-16s in Jordan Al Arabiya

Jordan pounds ISIS positions as air war begins to bite Daily Star

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces face risky urban warfare in battle against Islamic State WaPo. Wait, we “trained” them and gave them millions of dollars in weapons again? Did I not get the memo?

Turkey, Russia’s Gazprom survey new pipeline route Daily Star

The Tonaissance – how can Tony Abbott recover? Sidney Morning Herald. After a near-death-experience vote of confidence.

Ideology Matters: Parsing Recent Changes in China’s Intellectual Landscape The Sinocism China Newsletter

Class Warfare

It’s cheaper and easier to rent an MBA than to hire one Quartz. Über for an MBA precariat should have been easy to see coming.

Steelworkers Union Expands Walk Outs to Two BP Refineries Wall Street Journal

The secret policy war at the Grammys Politico

Climate change marchers told to hire private security firm Guardian

The Foolish, Historically Illiterate, Incredible Response to Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Speech Ta-Nahesi Coates, The Atlantic. Give credit to Obama, poking the so-called National Prayer Breakfast in the eye with a sharp stick was, IMNSHO, a righteous act.

A Walk Through the Gallery New York Times. The Matisse cut-outs. Last day, February 10….

Antidote du jour (MR):


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. frosty zoom

      the russians are experimenting with santa/bunny frankenhybrids in order to further their plot of north pole annexation.

      the only solution is to supply yukon cornelius with non-lethal military aid.

      “The bumble sinks! Ha ha!”

      1. skippy

        Ahhh you nibbled… no offense to your feline masters of course, but, it did seem a virtual pet per your ummm…. tastes…. snicker.

        Love your work of late and having some of the same fun over here… local finance and insurance. Whats up with all this fraudulent conveyance, seems no one can do a straight up deal, with out it, even when its cheaper and safer. Must be bloody clever or its no fun… [????].

        Skippy… dopamine thingy?

      2. Yves Smith

        I’ve met his cats and they are exceeding attractive (although Fisher, the more social one, is a bit of a klutz) and very smart and personable.

        Richard likes anti-antidotes only on his screen, not as fixtures in his home.

        1. skippy


          Duly chastised marsupial by two of his favorite heavy hitting blog operatives begs atonement…

          Tho per the fraudulent conveyance, how does a T1 flagship Euro car dealership change hands and the entire data base go walkies with the original owner… not to mention at one time a single individual owned 7 such entity’s with in the state… ummm… lulz.

          Skippy…. don’t get me started on subsidiary’s of Chubb… especially bespoke stuff…

    2. Mel

      “It’s cheaper and easier to rent an MBA than to hire one”

      John Gall wrote a very good book, Systemantics in 1975, and introduced the concept of “Orwell’s Inversion” (I don’t know why he related it to Orwell, I trust there is a link.)

      Orwell’s Inversion.
      The confusion of Input and Output.
      Example. A giant program to Conquer Cancer is begun. At the end of five years, cancer has not been conquered, but one thousand research papers have been published. In addition, one million copies of a pamphlet entitled “You and the War Against Cancer” will have been distributed. Those publications will absolutely be regarded as Output rather than Input.

      I notice this article here says a lot about founders, funders, financing rounds, but only drops a couple of names in place of showing us customers.

      Considering the other question, “What could go wrong?”. William I of Prussia did not make his life happier by hiring Otto von Bismark as Minister-President.
      “I’d like to buy some smart decisions.”
      “Absolutely! I’ve got the smart decisions for you! Tell me, just how stupid … no … How many decisions would you like, and what kind?”

      1. McMike

        Orwell’s Inversion. Thanks for that.

        I think the link to Orwell is the idea that meaning gets turned upside down/reversed, until language means the opposite of itself. In this case, what’s measured stands in for the actual goal, which is something else. Bit of a stretch I guess…

        Outcomes should outweigh activities

        1. McMike

          Incidentally, and this came by accident, I looked up Systemantics, and discovered a pretty neat summary of my critique of the vaccine system – (which has exploded from a small handful of inactivated pathogens, to nearly 70 shots given en mass to infants, composed of GMO chemicals, toxins, metals, adjuncts, preservatives, animal proteins, and nanotech.)

          “Systems tend to expand to fill the known universe”
          “Complicated systems produce unexpected outcomes”
          “Systems tent to oppose their own proper function”
          “The system itself does not actually do what is says it is doing”
          In complex systems, malfunction…. may not be detectable.”
          “Systems develop goals of their own…”
          “Intra-system goals come first”
          “Complex systems tend to produce complex responses (not solutions)…”
          “As systems grow in size, they tend to lose basic functions.”
          “Colossal systems foster colossal errors.”

          All of the above is simply another way of describing simulacra.

          There’s also a quote somewhere about large institutions tend towards pathology and self-perpetuation.

          1. Vatch

            70 shots given to infants? Could you please provide a source for that? Here’s a CDC PDF file with the recommended schedule for ages 0-18 years, and I don’t see 70 shots.


            Perhaps I misunderstood something on the chart. If annual influenza vaccinations are included, the number rises dramatically, but I still don’t see 70. Here’s the CDC vaccination schedule web site:


              1. Vatch

                Oh, I see the difference. Measles Mumps Rubella is one shot, and Diptheria Tetanus acellular Pertussis is another, and there are multiple doses of those. Your chart separates them.

                1. McMike

                  Yes, doses would be the precise term. And includes annual flu shots, as per recommended.

                  Surely there is an upper number at which we step back and say, wow, that’s a lot of shots.

                1. McMike

                  Getting warmer for sure. I’d have to look at the formulations. There’s maybe three of the diseases that actually scare me.

                  Overall, if vaccines are indeed a public health priority of the magnitude that children should be mandatory injected, some reforms need to happen.

                  Start with getting the drug companies out of the equation. Implement a real data gathering system for vaccine reaction injuries. Create a truly effective independent review and regulatory body. Reform the drug research and reporting system. For starters.

                    1. bob

                      Yes, because merck was selling a version of the vaccine which they knew was less than effective, it proves that all vaccines are deadly?

                      A vaccine that is less effective should be a GOOD thing for people who don’t like vaccines.

                2. McMike

                  Another factor is to study what the diseases are actually like in modern western society.

                  For instance, how does polio behave in an era of indoor plumbing, sewage treatment, and hand washing? And nutrition for that matter. A lot of these dread diseases got their reputations in eras of major national malnutrition crisis and nonexistent sanitation practices and only basic medical care.

                  How does polio and measles respond to modern medical care? As I wrote over in the water cooler, of 700 measles cases studied since 2008, there have been no deaths and no encephalitis. That surprised me, based on the hype.

                  1. apber

                    The vaccine era began in the 1960s; before that most kids got measles. developed life long immunity as a result and were fine after a few days. NOBODY DIED FROM MEASLES (absent significantly compromised immune systems from other medical issues). Since the MMR vaccine, there have been 1000s of cases of adverse effects and some 500+ deaths. Why should a parent take that risk? The act of mandating unproven vaccines is criminal at best and smacks of Dr Mengele at worst.

                    1. Yves Smith

                      You miss the issue with measles. It is a highly HIGHLY contagious disease. You can get it after someone has left the room. The population that is vulnerable and DOES die from it is babies who are way to young to be vaccinated. Measles is a no-biggie ailment in older populations.

                    2. Vatch

                      Today, in Water Cooler, I posted this comment about the dangers of measles:


                      Here’s most of what I said:

                      according to this WHO document:


                      Measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.

                      The disease remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Approximately 145 700 people died from measles in 2013 – mostly children under the age of 5.

                      No doubt, some of those deaths occurred because the disease was combined with malnutrition and/or poor sanitation. Nevertheless, I strongly suspect that we would start seeing deaths from measles here in the U.S. if measles vaccine avoidance were to increase.

                    3. McMike

                      re Yves. Yes, the common cold is damn contagious too. But you need to be in pretty bad shape to die of it.

                      In the 700 US cases studied by the CDC since 2008, no one has died of measles. In fact, only 20% of the infected were hospitalized. Only 10% of those were under 1 year old.

                      Take a pill.

                    4. McMike

                      Given that no one in the US has died, and only a handful seriously sickened from the measles out of the 700 studied cases since at least 2008 (as far back as I looked), yet thousands have been sickened and perhaps hundreds killed by the vaccine: what do you say to the parents of a child that dies, or has brain damage, or a severe allergic reaction, or get encephalitis after a MMR poke?

                      This is real and you do not seem to be wrapping your mind around it: the measles is not as deadly as advertised, and the vaccine is not as safe as advertised. The vaccine is maiming and killing people every year.

                      And inasmuch as the justification for the vaccination it to benefit the abstract vulnerable members of the “herd”, we really need to come to grips with the actual facts, rather than the mythologized and hysterical propaganda. And do a better job of honoring the parents of those kids who take one for the team, by dealing in reality.

                    5. bob

                      Point to one example of a child who died as a direct result of the vaccine.

                      One. No perhaps. An actual example.

                    6. McMike

                      re Bob. Apparently you are not aware of the vaccine injury compensation system, which published its statistics. It has paid out billions in compensation, including thousands of death claims. It denies far more claims than that, since the deaths did occur not within impossibly short time periods after the vaccine (i.e. a couple days).

                      This ignorance of a fundamental part of the legislative structure of vaccines does not seem to stop you from forming (wrong) opinions.

                    7. bob

                      My question wasn’t about what you think I know.

                      “Point to one example of a child who died as a direct result of the vaccine.”

                      No? Nothing?

                      You are the type of person who, on hearing that the odds of winning the lottery are 4 million to one, go out and buy 4 million tickets, and expect to win.

                      That’s not how statistics work.

                    8. bob

                      So, you can’t point to one single example of a child dying as a direct result of the measles vaccine?

                      One. Single. Example. Just one. No lecture on what you may or may not think I know.

                  2. Yves Smith

                    Did you manage to miss that Franklin Roosevelt got polio? He most assuredly had indoor plumbing his entire life. And Americans have actually gotten to be terrible at hand washing after using the loo, so trying to claim we are better on that axis than we were 50-60 years ago is inaccurate. Plus if you were informed on this topic, which you clearly are not, it takes a full 90 second hand wash to eradicate all germs. And forget about those hand sanitizers, except maybe alcohol (but even then, you’d need to use it liberally enough that you’d dry your skin out). An ex NIH colleague (biomedical engineer by training) who is now an FDA lawyer (not at the FDA but at a specialist law firm) has long said they are a crock. If they did what they claimed they do, they’d need FDA approvals as drugs.

                    The idea that you’d actually suggest people should not be vaccinated against a scourge like polio is utterly irresponsible

                    1. Vatch

                      Good point about Roosevelt — he was very prosperous, and definitely did not depend on outhouses. The 1980 vaccine regimen that was mentioned includes polio, measles/mumps/rubella, and diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis — those are important vaccinations.

                      One can have doubts about some of the modern vaccines that are given to children such as hepatitis, haemophilus influenzae (different from influenza), and rotavirus, but the important ones should not be ignored.

                    2. bob

                      You ARE basing your decisions on the “right” to NOT have public policy, with anecdotes that assume over 90% of the population is already vaccinated.

                      Is public policy ever allowed?

                    3. McMike

                      You boys are getting too cryptic for your own good.

                      And lambert is now the defender of the corporate- government mandate state. Brilliant.

                      Talk about systemantics

                    4. bob

                      You can’t or won’t answer a very simple yes or no question-

                      Do you agree that public policy should exist, or not?

                      Boy…go get my shoes so I can put one up your ass.

                      Also, still looking for ONE SINGLE EXAMPLE of a child dying as a direct result of the measles vaccine.

                    5. Lambert Strether Post author

                      “the corporate- government mandate state” Oh, puh-leeze. Stop dancing around the question of whether you support public policy as such and answer the question.

                    1. Lambert Strether Post author

                      Then it should be very easy for you, in a very long and deeply nested thread that’s quite difficult to track, to supply the link again.

                      Unless what you “pointed to” was the “Just Google it” thingie?

                  3. Lambert Strether Post author

                    If people would not create cross-threads by hauling in content already posted on one thread into a second thread, I, as a moderator, would be grateful. In addition, if this practice becomes prevalent, the Google gods will become angry. Thanks to all.

                  4. Lambert Strether Post author

                    Yes, there has been a general improvement in health due to public policy in regard to sanitation.

                    You’re not arguing that it’s OK to dump your turds in a public reservoir because of the sewage-industrial complex, right?

          2. Yves Smith

            This is thread-jacking. You’ve managed to shoehorn your pet obsession into a totally unrelated conversation. This blog is not a venue for you to carry on about your favored topics. Get your own blog.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        That reminds one of Janus words – words that have opposite meanings.

        Words like sanction, weather, apology, etc.

        The newest one: bad.

        The dude is so bad (meaning he’s very good).

        And depending on the sincerity of the speaker, help, as in, I am here to help (yeah, right).

        1. Mel

          Don’t forget “oversight” — a personal favourite. “Oh, we forgot to check. We’re the Oversight Committee; it’s what we do.”

        2. norm de plume

          ‘Janus words – words that have opposite meanings’

          The neolibs have turned ‘reform’ into a Janus word.

          Maybe ‘efficient’ too.

        3. Mel

          Just noticed “minimum standards”, another strong candidate. Either an agreed level below which nothing will sink, or a sanctioned (:)) level set to the least possible.

          1. Mel

            More I think about this, the less I like it. This is just a matter of sliding a modifier into a proposition and being vague about what part of the proposition the modifier affects. Might as well be called “weasel wording”. The real Janus words — “sanction, weather, apology, oversight” legitimately carry two opposed meanings.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        A new term to add to the kit that includes sowing the dragon’s teeth, the self-licking ice cream cone, and blowback.

        This concept, or system, or pattern, or whatever it is, seems to be heading toward the leaderboard of the Zeitgeist Watch.

  1. Jim Haygood

    From the Telegraph:

    Senator John McCain reportedly compared the [Ukrainian peace] initiative to the Munich Agreement in 1938 between Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister at the time, and Adolf Hitler, which allowed Nazi Germany to annexe the Sudetenland. “History shows us that dictators will always take more if you let them,” Senator McCain allegedly said.

    This is one of the rare instances when I favor boots (two of them) on the ground. Let’s issue a saber and 5,000 hryvnias to Hanoi John, send the demented old crank to the Ukrainian front in a Kiev taxi, and watch the motley rebels scurry as he warns them, ‘Look on my drones, ye mighty, and despair.’

    1. craazyboy

      Which one is the dictator? I mean, everyone really believes Putin was elected. (no offense Germany – but Hitler was elected too)

      Sometime I wonder why AZ isn’t at war with anyone. But we should pick someone easy, like maybe New Mexico. Or maybe a small city in CA – say Calexico or Palm Springs.

      The saber is a good idea. Damage limitation and rebuilding costs will be much lower. When ya think about it, if you really want to deal Russia a blow, stick them with Ukraine “Nation Building”. I think Iraq is up to $2 trillion so far – and it looks like the meter is still running.

      1. Jim Haygood

        In 1934, Arizona stood on the brink of armed conflict.

        The governor declared martial law, machine-gun nests were put in place and ships were authorized to carry troops, all to deal with one of the gravest dangers the state had ever faced — an invasion by the water-thieving varmints of California.

        If McShame had been around back then, it would have turned into a shooting war, with General John in a Napoleon hat leading the saber charge on the Californians.

        History records what happened to ‘McCain’s Navy’:

        [Governor] Moeur authorized ferryboat operators in Parker to transport the troops across the Colorado River, creating an official, if temporary, naval force that consisted entirely of two antiquated ferryboats.

        The Navy of Arizona had something of an inglorious history. When the ferries ended up snagged in the river during a nighttime reconnaissance, construction workers from the enemy state of California had to rescue them.

          1. optimader

            The Mouse that Roared….
            The tiny (three miles by five miles) European Duchy of Grand Fenwick, supposedly located in the Alps between Switzerland and France, proudly retains a pre-industrial economy, dependent almost entirely on making Pinot Grand Fenwick wine. However, an American winery makes a knockoff version, “Pinot Grand Enwick”, putting the country on the verge of bankruptcy.

            The prime minister decides that their only course of action is to declare war on the United States. Expecting a quick and total defeat (since their standing army is tiny and equipped with bows and arrows), the country confidently expects to rebuild itself through the largesse that the United States bestows on all its vanquished enemies (as it did for Germany through the Marshall Plan at the end of World War II).

            Instead, the Duchy defeats the mighty superpower, purely by accident. Landing in New York City, almost completely deserted above ground because of a city-wide disaster drill, the Duchy’s invading “army” (composed of the Field Marshal Tully Bascomb, three men-at-arms, and twenty longbowmen) wanders to a top secret government lab and unintentionally captures the “Q-bomb” (a prototype doomsday device that could destroy the world if triggered) and its maker, Dr. Kokintz.

            The invaders from Fenwick are sighted by a Civil Defense Squad and are immediately taken to be “men from Mars” ….

              1. optimader

                try ordering it from your library.
                I happened to have watched it recently. Going down the Peter Sellers/ Alec Guinness lists, I realized I hadn’t seen this film as an adult.

                I saw it as a kid at the Saturday YMCA program I used to attend! — (a subversive Program Director?) Seemed a bit of a bore, the cutting satire was lost at the time.
                Really an excellent movie…

          1. craazyboy

            Cold War. AZ bought the London Bridge and used it to span Lake Havasu. We can now deploy the AZ National Guard by ground transport into CA territory. That is, if we got ’em all back from the ME yet. General McCain has us stretched a bit thin.

            But you didn’t hear this from me. I don’t want to be arrested for divulging state secrets, have to flee the country, and end up being Snowden’s roommate in Moscow.


      2. Vatch

        Hitler was not elected, at least not until after he was appointed Chancellor by President Hindenburg on Jan. 30, 1933. I’m not sure if Hitler was ever specifically elected — other Nazis were elected, and he was the leader of their party.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I believe that you’re right. The other thing to remember is that when Hindenberg did appoint Hitler, the Nazi vote had already peaked (Richard Evans’ Third Reich books).

      3. cwaltz

        By golly you’ve got an idea there! If we let Arizona war with New Mexico then maybe we can actually rebuild and fund some infrastructure in our own country without it being called “socialism.” WE get 2 trillion instead of the ME or Ukraine.

        1. craazyboy

          Yikes. I may have started something here. What if all 50 states want to do it? I feel terrible.

      4. optimader

        “if you really want to deal Russia a blow, stick them with Ukraine “Nation Building”. ”

        How about picking up the pieces where they’ve took a nuclear sht?
        Oh that was the Soviet Union.. not the Russians, at least their contributing to the underfunded/behind schedule Chernoybl safe containment structure…. Oh wait! I guess not

        At least Rosatom (the Russian Nuke Power Agency) would be so irresponsible to still operating CARBON PILE !?!? ( paging Enrico Fermi) RPMK power reactors they built , no less WITHOUT CONTAINMENT VESSELS…oh wait!
        without containment vessels? Well yeah, that’s cheaper to build.

        Well surely they’re running them at a de-rated capacity while pursuing decommissioning?

        “…One nuclear power plant experimenting with running reactors beyond capacity is the Kola station, which is such a source of worry to Scandinavia.

        In October, the Kola station was given the go ahead to continue running its 30-year-old No 4 reactor for an astonishing 25 more years – an unprecedented license extension in the industry. The extensions means not one of the plant’s reactors is not operating longer than it’s engineered design limit.

        “Extending the resources of the Kola plant, as well as running its reactors beyond their power capacity, is associated with regional power demands, not just because the industry wants to do it,” said Sergei Zhavoronkin, secretary of Rosatom’s Public Chamber on Safe Nuclear Energy Usage in the Murmansk Region.

        But, as Bellona Murmansk has noted many times, the region holds an energy surplus, to which the Kola nuclear plant contributed 60 percent of the energy, with the remaining 40 percent coming from hydroelectric stations. The energy literally has nowhere to go due to a lack of serious consumers….

        1. OIFVet

          “How about picking up the pieces where they’ve took a nuclear sht?” Good question. By all means, hold the company and countries responsible accountable. In that vein, I am sure you will agree that GE and the US is responsible for Fukushima — it knew that it’s reactor design was unsafe from the get-go (General Electric Knew Its Reactor Design Was Unsafe … So Why Isn’t GE Getting Any Heat for Fukushima?)

          “In October, the Kola station was given the go ahead to continue running its 30-year-old No 4 reactor for an astonishing 25 more years – an unprecedented license extension in the industry.” Surely you jest. “The NRC has granted 20-year license renewals to 74 of the 100 operating reactors in the United States. These reactors may now operate for a total period of 60 years.”

          1. optimader

            “I am sure you will agree that GE and the US is responsible for Fukushima ”
            Actually Japan was responsible for the acquisition, operation and the utter clstrfck of the physical site selection, emergency planning and failure remediation.

            Unfortunately, at the time of acquisition they could have purchased a FAR superior (more expensive) design from Combustion Engineering, Inc. or a couple other notable alternative vendors.

            That said, at the time of the disaster, if you look at old posts I was strongly advocating the US step in and take over emergency containment as well as ongoing remediation management.
            The Japanese were and continue to be utterly out of their depth, and culturally inhibited from admitting they have had a disaster of a scale beyond their grasp. .
            Frankly, I still do not trust them as far as I can throw them and believe an international consortium should be managing/monitoring the site remediation as it has FAR more long term implication than being just a Japanese national disaster.

            I shudder to think of what the outcome would have been had the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Commission and Tepco been utterly irresponsible and installed graphite pile reactors without containment vessels!

            1. OIFVet

              Since it was only yesterday that you mentioned your belief in laws, I will be remiss not to mention that there is a pile of case law that holds manufacturers of faulty products legally liable for damages caused by their faulty products. In GE’s case, it knew it had an utterly defective product, yet it failed to rework its designs to fix the faults. For all of your talk about Russian reactors without containment vessels, the containment vessel of GE’s reactor failed to contain anything. So I would say GE’s fault rises to criminal negligence because it knew it had a faulty product and didn’t fix it. GM was held liable for knowingly putting defective ignition switches in vehicles just last year, if memory serves. Why should GE and the American government not be liable for Fukushima??? If you click through the links, you will also read about US government pressuring the Japanese to operate these reactors in a way they were not designed to operate…

              1. optimader

                I’m all for GE being tagged for any liability legally assigned to them.

                it was the Japanese Nuclear Commission that licensed the facility that was in a seismic zone that ultimately exceeded the plant design, as well had insufficient tsunami protection and emergency backup standby power generation. Tepco and it’s consultants made their technical evaluation of the vendors. In the trade they would be a sophisticated customer. Did they conclude the design was utterly unsafe at the time?
                How did GE fraudulently misrepresent relative to the plant being granted continuing operating permits ?

                GM victimizing unsophisticated customers purchasing a retail consumer product is of course a vacuous comparison.

                “the containment vessel of GE’s reactor failed to contain anything”
                Let me get this straight, you are saying there is no fuel in the damaged reactor containment vessels, it has all breeched?? Thats real breaking news to me, Citation please.

                1. OIFVet

                  How is it possible for the Japanese to be both “sophisticated customer” and “utterly out of their depth”? Seem like two rather contradictory assertions to me. Moreover, there is still the matter of GE’s defective design and US political pressure on the Japanese. And trust me, US political pressure can be considerable. Kerry just sold a Westinghouse contract to the Bulgarian colony that is far more expensive than the Russian offer and does not include spent fuel disposal, which the Russian offer does. US State Department as sales department of American corporations…

                  “it has all breeched?” You mean a containment vessel is not meant to contain all? So what’s the use, then?

            2. bob

              I love the design of those reactors. Who else but the navy could pay to make something like that work?

              They look like they came straight out of a sub. Just scale it up! Hot holding tanks high above the reactor? Much easier to unload for a sub. For a land based reactor, not such a great idea.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      It was only a matter of time before the “appeasement” card was played.

      History is always so convenient when a Hitler reference can be invoked.

      1. James Levy

        Notice how none of these clucks ever says how bad appeasement is when it is the Germans, the French, Mexico, or the Japanese appeasing us? Or call on Iran or the Palestinians not to appease Israel and the US because appeasement is such a bad thing no one should ever use it? What these idiots mean by appeasement is diplomacy, and America can’t have that now, can it (harrumph)!

    3. OIFVet

      “send the demented old crank to the Ukrainian front in a Kiev taxi”: I believe this should read “send the demented old crank to the Ukrainian front on a pterodactyl.” Once a fly boy, always a fly boy. Beside, the Ukies are running short on attack aircraft these days.

    4. Brian

      Isn’t it about time McCain is informed that Henry Kissinger was personally responsible for making him stay in Hanoi when they were trying to ship him back to the US?

    5. susan the other

      + all possible US boots; and to katniss to for pointing out that it was just a matter of time before the nazis invoked hitler.

      1. craazyboy

        Well, almost. The Neo-cons pointing to Hitler as a bad guy in order to support the Neo-Nazis.

        But juicy goodness whichever way you care to state it.

  2. Ned Ludd

    But the most alarming Russia-Cyprus dalliance came during the height of the Cypriot financial crisis when Cyprus was reportedly negotiating with Russia for a bailout in 2013. The EU was particularly nervous about this because there was speculation that Russia might ask for a naval port and access to the country’s gas reserves in return.

    In 2012, there was “also talk about stationing Russian naval vessels in Piraeus, Athens’s main port.” If such speculation could take place in 2012, why not now?

      1. guest

        Perhaps I should have asked: what kind of antidote has that animal ingested, and is its appearance due to the effects of the antidote or to the contamination that required the antidote?

      1. Demeter

        You’re joking,

        Nature would never make anything so unfit for life….it has to be a man-made hybrid.

  3. Jef

    THE PERFECT STORM (see p. 59 onwards)

    The economy is a surplus energy equation, not a monetary one, and growth in output (and in the global population) since the Industrial Revolution has resulted from the harnessing of ever-greater quantities of energy.

    But the critical relationship between energy production and the energy cost of extraction is now deteriorating so rapidly that the economy as we have known it for more than two centuries is beginning to unravel.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Grand, magnificent monumental projects millennia ago were powered by slave energy.

      They can be done again.

      When you are rich, and smart (and have the biggest atlatl) there is almost nothing you can’t achieve.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        As I recall, Michael Hudson has a group translating old cuneiform tablets to trace the accounts from some of the big projects of the past. He said his group had strong evidence the workers on these projects were well fed and relatively well paid and not slaves.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          All the more reason we (or our elites) should be ashamed today.

          Our elites pale a great deal in comparison (I bet they provided doctors or at least herbalists).

          1. Michael Hudson

            Our volume, Labor in the Ancient World, will be published next month (600 pages, $70.
            NO ancient monument was built by slave labor. Especially the Pyramids.
            They were group events. Many beer parties, Much more animal protein than usual. Not everyone wanted to, so some relatives would buy off the corvee labor time due (from their relatives, mainly).
            The key to labor in antiquity is that there was a labor SHORTAGE. Wage labor only developed quite late, at the margin. Citizens supported themselves on their own agricultural land outside the city gates.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Thank you, Dr. Hudson.

              I wonder if the Great Wall was built by slave labor or it was a distortion by Han historians.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                The Han historians are not known to be always reliable when it comes to their predecessor, the Qin empire.

                The burning of scholars by the First Emperor is debatable, I recall.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              And I look forward to your book. The topic is very interesting, much more so than ones about kings and conquerors.

      2. optimader

        There was a rather good NOVA episode a few years back on this subject. Reads more like union tradesmen.

        Well, the graffiti gives us a picture of organization where a gang of workmen was organized into two crews, and the crews were subdivided into five phyles. Phyles is the Greek word for tribe.

        The phyles are subdivided into divisions, and the divisions are identified by single hieroglyphs with names that mean things like endurance, perfection, strong. Okay, so how do we know this? You come to a block of stone in the relieving chambers above the King’s chamber. First of all, you see this cartouche of a King and then some scrawls all in red paint after it. That’s the gang name. And in the Old Kingdom in the time of the Pyramids of Giza, the gangs were named after kings. So, for example, we have a name, compounded with the name of Menkaure, and it seems to translate “the Drunks (or the Drunkards) of Menkaure.” There’s one that’s well-attested, in the relieving chambers above the King’s chamber in the Great Pyramid, “the Friends of Khufu Gang.” This doesn’t sound like slavery, does it?

        In fact, it gets more intriguing, because in certain monuments you find the name of one gang on one side of the monument and another gang, we assume competing, on the other side of the monument. You find that to some extent in the Pyramid temple of Menkaure. It’s as though these gangs are competing. So from this evidence we deduce that there was a labor force that was assigned to respective crew, gang, phyles, and divisions…

  4. NV

    The Al Jazeera profile of Varoufakis was most welcome. That he is a child of the Greek diaspora of the Eastern Mediterranean makes perfect sense, as the Egyptian and Asia Minor Greeks were cosmopolitan. And that he was thwarted by a Greek university, again… this is not a surprise, given that when the Greek mathematician
    Caratheodory tried to reform the Greek university system (along German lines, as he had been a professor there)
    he faced insurmountable obstacles. Not certain if the entry below details this, but I’ve read it elsewhere.

  5. Integer Owl

    In my opinion, Abbott survived for one reason only; the fact that the LNP has absolutely no idea where to go from here. They have been revealed as puppets of the IPA (Institute of Public Affairs), which are a very well-funded right wing thinktank with patrons such as Murdoch, Rhinehart, and Monsanto.
    Info on the IPA

    I expect the more astute (less out-of-touch?) members of the LNP have realised they are in dire situation and want time to regroup and strategise before they elect a new leader and get back to work on the shopping list of policies the IPA has given them to implement. I am hopeful that critical awareness of the corruption of the LNP will blossom in the public sphere in the meantime.

    1. gordon

      In response to continued unpopularity and the rout of the conservative coalition in the Queensland State election, Tony Abbott abandoned the only good idea he ever had – the paid parental leave scheme – and fell back on the tired and unpopular agenda of the 1980s New Right.

  6. NotSoSure

    In terms of corruption, although I am not a Malaysian, but coming from one of its neighbors, I am not sure what the big deal is. In South East Asia, it’s pretty much a given that all politicians there are pretty much corrupt. If someone had the nerve to investigate things, I am pretty sure corruption even exists at the highest level of government of supposedly squeaky clean Singapore. At the very least Singapore is complicit in hiding the ill gotten wealth from people from neighboring countries. It’s estimated that there’s at least 33 billion of Indonesian “black money” in Singapore banks.
    Coming back to Malaysia, even Mahathir is corrupt, one just needs to dig around the story of how the Petronas tower was constructed to see that it’s all just cronyism. But hei don’t say there’s no karma because people are stealing from Mahathir as well:

    1. NotSoSure

      Another thing that perhaps bears watching is that since the latest election where the Chinese population of Malaysia pretty much abandoned the ruling party for the opposition, there has been an increasing number of comments from the ruling party that can only be construed as racist. In fact recently a minister went so far as to ask Malay consumers to boycott products from Chinese traders. The big story IMHO is whether there will be some issue in the future that will cause things to come to a head along racial lines. If that’s the case, will China be involved given the long history it has with the region i.e. Sun Yat Sen received a lot of monetary help for the revolution from the region.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I seem to recall many ‘pogroms’ against the Chinese in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries in Southeast Asia.

        But I don’t think resettling them back to China is a solution at all. Maybe a two-state solution in some countries there.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Corrupt governments are not bugs, but direct results of a feature in the system.

      We get kettle governments calling pot governments corrupt.

      There are exceptions of course…some exceptionally exceptional.

      In general, the people have only themselves to rely on, especially on important issues like money. And it is important we empower ourselves.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      That which we call bald baby bunny by any other name is just as cute, would smell just as sweet (I think).

    1. MartyH

      Interesting. The Victory Condition is “Tenure Track”. There’s a funnel with a big cone and a small spout.

  7. OIFVet

    On Ukraine, let those here who support the Kiev junta and its Western puppeteers watch this video. Then explain to me what right does our government have to play with people’s lives in distant lands. This is a human tragedy that we started, and we enlisted a bunch of banderites to carry out our dirty work for us. What for??? Is the pursuit of hegemonic empire worth it to the American people? We all know it is worth it for our elites, but just what do you have against these people, who only want to be left alone, that you are willing to support the Kiev junta as it proceeds to wage a war on its own people who are unwilling to follow it and break their centuries-long bond with Russia? Like it or not, there are other civilizations out there, and their people are just as fond of their civilizations as we are of ours. We have no right, moral or legal, to impose our civilization on anyone. Yet this is precisely what we are doing, and some are willing to go to some length to justify our meddling. It is just so easy to do that from the safety of your living rooms thousands of miles away, talking about Stalin and Putin, “freedum” and “democracy”, who invaded whom and when, whatever. However talking is cheap, while these people have to pay the price for our hegemonic drive.

    And resistance to the draft is happening EVERYWHERE in Ukraine, with villages kicking the junta representatives out and young men fleeing — to Russia. Not the West, RUSSIA. You won’t hear it in our courtier press, of course. But it is happening, and now there are more fault lines opening up amongst other minorities: Bulgarians, Gagauzians, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians. Bessarabia is in revolt against the draft, they want no part of the fratricidal war waged by the junta and egged on by our government. This article is written by a Bessarabian Bulgarian: “Uprising of Bessarabian-Bulgarians Against Ukrainian Mobilization” (in Russian). The resistance is widespread and the Bessarabians of all ethnic backgrounds are threatening to take up arms as well. A “Congress of the People of Bessarabia” has been announced by ethnic Bulgarian, Gagauz, and orthodox Albanian leaders, with a stated purpose of “preserving the multi-etnic and multicultural make up of Bessarabia, harmonizing inter-ethnic relations, developement of a programme to support multi-ethnic cultural links, protection of the minorities traditions, language, and culture, etc (my translation from Russian) This has stoked speculation of yet another separatist movement. Meanwhile The Bulgarian media reports that Bessarabia is being cut off from the rest of Ukraine by the Ukrainian Military (in Bulgarian) This is Bulgarian courtier press, mind you. “The line on the map connects the region populated by ethnic Bulgarians with the continental part of Ukraine. The objective behind the massing of Ukrainian army units in along this line is to isolate the region from the rest of Ukraine. The reason: the mass refusal of ethnic Bulgarians and Gagauzians to be mobilized. (my translation).” Very democratic by the junta, huh? Meanwhile ethnic Bulgarian organizations have sent an appeal for protection to the Bulgarian government (Appeal by Bessarabian Bulgarians, in Bulgarian), alleging repression by the junta authorities, revealing the names of ethnic Bulgarians killed by banderites in the Trade Union House in Odessa, and asking for humanitarian relief for the Bulgarian diaspora in Donbass. They ask the Bulgarian government why it takes the side of the junta and does not do anything to protect the ethnic Bulgarian minority the way Czech, Slovakia, and Hungary have done with theirs. This has raised a wave of nationalism in Bulgaria, which is never a good thing in view of its multi-ethnic makeup. The nationalists ask why the BG government is accepting refugees from Syria and North Africa but has made it cumbersome for ethnic Bulgarians from Ukraine to seek refuge from the civil war there. The pressure has forced the government to promise to welcome ethnic Bulgarian refugees and simplify the cumbersome procedure of granting them citizenship (lots of empty words and promises based on my immigrant experiences). So there you have yet another effect of Western meddling in Ukraine: destabilizing one of its neo-colonial territories, and raising yet another wave of nationalism in Europe. Well done.

    Of course, simplistic narratives about “good Ukies seeking freedum” vs “evil Putin warring on the gloriously noble Ukie maidanites” are very appealing from thousands of miles away. The reality is that the West forced Ukraine into an impossible “choice”, and the people of Ukraine are voting with their feet and voices, rejecting simplistic views that some have created for themselves to justify petty biases. Far too many have a cultural affinity for Russia and they don’t want Western civilization, hard as it may be to imagine that from Western perspective. The people of Ukraine are paying a high price for our attempt to impose ours hegemonic interests upon them, it is the way of empires to get others to pay its tab. Whatever Putin’s faults, and there are many, he didn’t start this $hit, our governments did. They also had the chance to convince the junta to federalize Ukraine, they failed to do do so. Now they want federalization, but it is too late. Too much blood spilled, too high a price paid by the resistance. That’s all on us.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Do we have data on where the refugees fled? A quick Google search finds hundreds of thousands fleeing to Russia, but a story today has refugees fleeing to Kiev (from Reuters, untrustworthy, therefore). Do we know if the refugees have a choice, like door #1 (the West/Ukraine) or door #2 (Russia). If they do, and they choose door #2, that’s a very interesting data point.

      1. OIFVet

        I am sure there are some that flee to Kiev. As for refugees fleeing to Russia, the data is provided by the Federal Migration Service (thus untrustworthy to some), according to which “About 2.5 million Ukrainians, including 1.193 million of conscription age, are currently staying on the Russian territory,” the press service of FMS said in a statement. “Out of this number, more than 850,000 people arrived from Ukraine’s south-eastern regions, 440.000 of them applied for a refugee status.” These are serious numbers. I have heard that draft dodgers from Ivano-Frankovsk stay in Romanian hotels near the border in significant numbers as well, though those obviously lack refugee status. Little wonder then that Kiev has instituted travel ban unless the local draft boards approve of such travel. Which makes today’s announcement of the BG government that ethnic Bulgarians in Ukraine will be subject to relaxed visa regime meaningless, unless they skip illegally through the Romanian border or by sea, or a refugee corridor is secured (unlikely).

        As for choice, I think it is personal and no official choice exists given Kiev’s draft and travel policies in pursuit of its war. Putin has talked about relaxing Russian laws to make it easier for Ukrainians to spend extended periods in Russia without needing to go through the bureaucratic hoops, so that may become an official policy. Will see.

        My issue at this point is that this civil war is becoming a humanitarian disaster for those who are unable to flee, and some of it hits too close to home given the large ethnic Bulgarian population and the Bulgarian government’s indifference to them. I began talking about these ethnic Bulgarians almost a year ago here on Naked Capitalism, it really doesn’t take a genius to have foreseen where this was headed. That the government did nothing for a year, and then only under intense public pressure, demonstrates its puppet nature to me and to those in BG. And like I said, I am not happy that this gives momentum and sympathies to nationalists, that’s never good in a multi-ethnic place. We managed to avoid becoming another Yugoslavia, I hope it stays that way.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Today Bloomberg posted an article titled Ukraine Bailout: What Will It Take To Avoid Default in Wartime?

    Thus today’s Obama-Merkel summit, in which Merkel expressed grave doubts about the efficacy of a military solution.

    Obviously the ‘wartime’ and ‘default’ issues are linked. If new loans are used to expand Ukraine’s military response in the east (which could absorb nearly unlimited funds), then Ukraine will have little prospect of meeting economic targets or servicing its debt. War invariably drives up debt at a rapid rate, as even the US discovered in Vietnam.

    Is the IMF really going to fund a country with an internal war devouring its resources, while the US and EU chip in with bilateral aid of their own? Crazier things have happened, though the late financial novelist Paul Erdman would have been admonished that such a far-fetched scenario would unduly strain readers’ credibility.

  9. L.M. Dorsey

    re: National Prayer Breakfast

    Jeff Sharlet has written extensively about the 80-year-old group behind this annual event, beginning with his 2008 book “The Family,” a cringe-making account the perduring influence of this publicity-shy group of elitist Christian fundamentalists in American politics. Must read.

    While doing promotion for the book back in 2008, Sharlet was interviewed by Phillip Adams on Late Night Live (RN Australia):

  10. gordon

    Prof. Krugman has a post about Greece which includes: “What Greece is asking for — although German voters probably don’t know this — is not a fresh infusion of money”. And this: “… what ‘everyone knows’ has never been explained to northern European electorates…”.

    This is worrying. If the new Greek Govt. wants to make progress it will have to appear reasonable to the electorates of other EU States. There is a big PR job to be done, and if Prof. K. is right it’s being missed.

    1. Yves Smith

      Krugman is wrong that there is any hope of getting through to the northern bloc voters, or that they are the right target. Their politicians dominate their media. There is no receptivity to a pro-Greece message. That would wind up admitting that the bailouts went to French and German banks. There has been a small minority of pundits in Germany who write from time to time about the problem with the Eurozone structure and why austerity is failing. They have long been marginalized.

      The parties that Varoufakis is trying to reach are voters in the other periphery countries plus France. The northern bloc will have to pay attention if voters in these countries throw out their right-wing governments.

      1. gordon

        Maybe “the other periphery countries plus France” are enough. But I wonder whether Syriza’s message is even getting through to them.

  11. juliania

    That is not a cute baby bunny but rather an infant jackalope, common in these parts, and hybrid between a jackrabbit and an antelope, inheriting all the pugnacious characteristics of both breeds of critter. Once their horns develop there is no messing with them, which is why nobody messes with New Mexico. (We even spell it ‘chile’ not “chili” or perish the thought “chilli” – and Texans back down when we do that.)

    Just take another look at the expression on that face and tell me you wouldn’t back down.

    So let’s have no more wild talk about interstate conflicts. Our critters are ready.

  12. Steven

    Concerning Malaysia:
    It’s a power struggle between the ruling elites. The previous premier Tun Dr. M, wants the current PM Najib Tun Razak out. He has set a series of elaborate traps, encircling key allies of the PM., The first major casualty is the current Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was thrown back into prison on charges of sodomy yesterday. Anwar and Najib has got a long political history together. Slowly, the praetorian guards of the PM is falling. His allies are abandoning him.
    Politics has been called the art of the impossible. This is real politics at play. An elaborate situation with 9 monarchs in the nation, business elites, and the minority Chinese tycoons, who keeps the economy running, but for the first time since Independence, have lost the support (90%) of the Chinese community. The external factors, 1MDB (as stated in the NYT articles), and ISIS, are converging with national interests, affirmative action for the ruling elites, religion, inequality, worsening racial relations, and a weaken economy (currency). This has created a precarious situation for the current PM. It doesn’t help that his wife has an acquired taste for luxury.
    Take note that Malaysia is one of the very few democratic nations that has not have a change of government. Major cracks are appearing, and a deep sense of fear among the ruling elites that they could lose political power. This itself is politics worth observing!

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