Links 3/23/15

Puma known as P-33 makes a safe freeway passage Los Angeles Times

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Founding Father, Dies at 91 WSJ

The Strongman of Singapore Foreign Policy

Eurozone QE relies on confidence trick FT

The Fed Keeps Getting More and More Pessimistic Bloomberg

Central banks in the firing line The Economist

Have the Banks Escaped Criminal Prosecution because They’re Spying Surrogates? emptywheel

Are the methods and terms by which we’re collecting all this financial intelligence to use against some bad guys precisely what prevents us from holding the even bigger bad guys — the ones affecting far more of us directly, in the form of the houses we own, the towns we live in, the opportunity costs paid to financial crime — accountable?

That’s a very good question.

The Fuzzy, Insane Math That’s Creating So Many Billion-Dollar Tech Companies Bloomberg

Global fund managers warn on bond bubble FT

The AIIB Debacle: What Washington Should Do Now The Diplomat

China Internet Company Yielding 18% Shows Default Risks Brewing Bloomberg

For Clintons, a Hedge Fund in the Family New York Times. How cozy.

Is Tony Blair retiring to spend even more time with his dictators? Independent (RS).


Τα 10 βήματα προς τη δραχμή Ekathimerini. Seems the same as “10 Steps to the Drachma” by Gr Reporter. Interestingly, there’s no English version at Ekathimerini.

Greece Faces Decisive Week as Tsipras Is Set to Meet Merkel Bloomberg

In Greece, Syriza Struggles to Deliver Promises as Money Runs Out New York Times

The shades of “Paradise” To Vima (about). Seems Yves is not the only one to pick up on governance issues.

PM’s office backs minister over reports he signed contracts to rehire sacked staff Ekathimerini

Greek minister Katrougalos – “corruption allegations” or just a “moral question”? Keep Talking Greece. Then again… Note sourcing on this story: To Vima.

Syriza and Its Discontents Truthout

Sarkozy’s UMP Tops French Local Vote With Le Pen’s Gains Capped Bloomberg

France is Europe’s ‘big problem’, warns Mario Monti Telegraph

‘Abandoned’ French working class ready to punish left’s neglect by voting for far right Guardian. Why vote for fake Republicans when you can vote for real ones….

France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels Guardian (furzy mouse)

Smog-choked Paris forces half of cars off roads AFP

River Thames seeps over banks as flood alerts remain in place for parts of London Evening Standard

Russia warns Denmark its warships could become nuclear targets Telegraph

Imperial Collapse Watch

F-35 Still Years Away From Being Ready for Combat Medium

DOT&E Report: The F-35 Is Not Ready for IOC and Won’t Be Any Time Soon Center for Defense Information

The Planet’s Best Stealth Fighter Isn’t Made in America Daily Beast

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

FB user fakes suicide to see how the Facebook suicide prevention tool works and lands in mental asylum Techworm (furzy mouse)

Cyber snoops track students’ activity Politico

New Chevy Malibu will come with built-in NSA-style Teen-Tracking Spyware Hackread

Culture of brutality reigned at state prison in Florida Panhandle Miami Herald

‘Shoot the gays’ initiative likely to be circulated San Francisco Chronicle. The “Sodomite Suppression Act.”

Under Health Care Act, Many Tax Filers Are Discovering Costly Complications New York Times. Nobody could have predicted….

More cash-strapped Americans turn to tax refund advances AP. Assuming ObamaCare doesn’t screw that up, of course.

Significant pension cuts loom for retirees Columbus Dispatch

Class Warfare

Survival of the fittest might have actually been survival of the richest​ WaPo

Minding the nurture gap The Economist

Between the sack and the sanction Maid in London

Hong Kong domestic helpers allege murder over death of maid crushed by concrete slab South China Morning Post

How a pesticide loophole increased cancer risk at a California school Center for Investigative Reporting

A High School Where a Student Might Letter in Polo New York Times

9 Billionaires Are About to Remake New York’s Public Schools—Here’s Their Story The Nation

A disputed diagnosis imprisons parents WaPo. “Shaken baby syndrome.”

Misrepresenting the Left Counterpunch. “We are not liberals!”

Too Much Oil Jacobin

To move beyond boom and bust, we need a new theory of capitalism Paul Mason, Guardian. Terry Jones to popularize Hyman Minsky (!).

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. Swedish Lex

    As regards the F-35 vs. Sweden’s Gripen.

    I will never get tired of reminding whoever may or may not wish to listen that the Norwegians got offers from both the Americans for the F-35 and from the Swedes regarding the Gripen. The Norwegians took out their calculators, hit a few keys, and concluded that the F-35 was cheaper than Gripen :)

    Nobody ever believed this, of course, but it is kind of fun that this was the lie that the Norwegian Government chose to give to their taxpayers.

    Wikileaks have since published correspondence between the Norwegians and the Americans confirming that it was all bogus.

    Meanwhile, the Norwegians are stuck with their plane and will be for the foreseeable future.

    Finland will replace their F-18s soon too. If they choose Gripen, the two (non-NATO) countries would pretty much have one seamless Air Force.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Yes, and let us forget the entire idiocy of grossly wasteful hyper-costly dysfunctional complicated “systems” that require huge maintenance and supply chains and result in devices which carry a huge burden of equipment and engineering to let a few privileged jet jockeys get off on high-Gs that will never be high enough to let their peacock posteriors escape a bevy of incoming relatively cheap missiles that will turn them to scrap. What a f__king treadmill for us taxpayers to be harnessed into, “supporting a jobs program” which crap like the F-22, F-35, Gripen and the rest of the reeking froth at the top of the MIC “preparedness” idiocy are largely sold as.

      The Bullsh_t from the MIC,

      And one tiny voice from the supposedly saner but still “OO-Rah!” side:

      Everyone ok that the idiocy continues? Toys without survivable missions? More war, 24/7, a nice place to make some money?

    2. Ed

      The Norwegians bought the F35 because Norway doesn’t really need a fighter, but does need (or the government thinks it needs) to have good relations in the United States. Sweden and Finland are closer to Russia and there is a small chance they may actually have to use their air forces some day.

    3. James Levy

      There is something almost hallucinatory from my perspective as a military historian watching armed forces around the world grow weaker and less capable while they grow more expensive every day. At no time since the Middle Ages have the central governments in Europe commanded less effective military muscle than they do today, yet billions upon billions get sunk into these armed forces. In countries like Nigeria and Iraq you see multi-billion dollar armed forces that can’t handle poorly trained fanatics running around in Toyota pickup trucks. The US and UK completely failed in Afghanistan, and their face-saving strategy in Iraq was to bribe the enemy long enough to skedaddle. Yet American politicos and millions of ordinary citizens think we’ve got “the greatest army in history.” It’s just bizarre.

      1. Demeter

        You say that like it’s a bad thing, that war becomes impossible because of waste and fraud in weapons design, manufacture and procurement….

        It gives real, honestly aggrieved people a “fighting chance”!

    4. Jack

      I’m going to disagree with the article slightly. If they ever fought (why would they though?) I would fully expect an F-22 to outfight a Gripen. So on the grounds of sheer combat effectiveness the F-22 remains the best stealth fighter (at least until the Russian’s get their T-50 into full production).

      But it isn’t remotely cost effective, nor is the F-35. And since no one else pisses away money on military spending like the US does, cost effectiveness is something that matters to the majority of countries. Aside from the Gripen there are a whole plethora of other cost-effective choices for countries to choose from as well, like the Mirage or the F-16 (the most advanced F-16s aren’t American, they’re a version only flown by the UAE). Boeing is also trying to sell their F-15SE to international buyers. And there’s always the Eurofighter, but apparently no one can actually afford to operate it these days because of austerity.

  2. Chris in Paris

    The techworm piece seems like it was written by a bot. I had a hard time making out what really happened…

  3. diptherio

    ‘Shoot the gays’ initiative likely to be circulated San Francisco Chronicle

    Umm…how is this not incitement to murder? If someone kills a gay person in SF, will this d-bag also be held accountable? Free speech is one thing–but when you’re using it to suggest that citizens murder other citizens because of the latter’s actions do not coincide with the former’s beliefs, I think it is appropriate to reign that sh*t in a little. Certainly, the state shouldn’t feel obligated to accept his initiative, regardless of whether he paid the filing fee.

    1. rusti

      Free speech is one thing–but when you’re using it to suggest that citizens murder other citizens because of the latter’s actions do not coincide with the former’s beliefs, I think it is appropriate to reign that sh*t in a little.

      I’m not exactly schooled in the finer details of the first amendment, but isn’t this pretty much exactly what Glenn Greenwald always writes about? Should Anwar al-Awlaki have been charged with incitement to murder if he preached jihad (ignoring that this charge wouldn’t carry the death sentence)? Or should someone who advocates carpet bombing Iraq in a comment section on the Internet be charged? Beats me, but I’m skeptical that anyone is gonna see this idiot’s proposed measure and say, “Hey, that’s a great idea, maybe I’ll administer a bit of vigilante justice!” who wouldn’t have found some other catalyst anyway.

  4. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: New Chevy Malibu will come with built-in NSA-style Teen-Tracking Spyware Hackread

    “The beneficial aspect of this system is that parents can inquire kids about why he needed to probe the family ride’s top speed and test its collision-warning feature repeatedly. Conversely, the reports with the information contained within them can become a video-game like “achievement” field for kids.

    What does this grammatical garbage can of a paragraph even mean? What in the world is an “achievement” field?

    My advice to parents would be to skip the new Malibu and “inquire [your] kids about why he” can’t take the bus.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Without shoes. I remember those days fondly.

        I also remember the days of “word counts.” A construct like “the reports with the information contained within them” would have earned me an afternoon in detention.

      2. ambrit

        Yes! I had to walk across a public golf course every morning and evening to get from home to High School. The Lava Traps were definitely the worst part! (That, and of course, self motivational avoidance behavior guidance inputs in abidance of personal corporeal protective anti-impact medium sized velocitizing spheroid geo spatial organizational pattern recognition ideational biases. [You know, not getting hit by flying golf balls.]) On a hot weekend day, all those golf balls slowly sizzling in the semi plastic lava field looked like reverse negative pictures of chocolate chip cookies. Once or twice, the spectre of a pair of golf shoes stuck in the viscous mass would tell the tale of some hardy soul who tried to chip the singed sphere out rather than suffer the “Hot Penalty.” Ah. Halcyon days.

        1. zapster

          Whoa. Ok, this one is a work of art. I’m thinking needlepoint, framed and hung in a prominent location. I am humbled by your erudition.

      3. Brooklin Bridge

        Ha, I had to walk 7 miles each way through glacial snow and each way almost vertically up hill. The snow was so deep we would trip over the telephone wires and get hot foot zapped when we did. I remember how impatient I used to get for my birthday to arrive cause I got to wear the family pair of shoes for the day.

        1. ambrit

          When was your birthday? If it was in the winter, that ‘day’ could last for months!
          Your family had a pair of shoes?!

          1. JerseyJeffersonian

            Well, actually, I have a report from the Third World concerning shoes to deliver. About 50 years ago, I traveled with my parents to Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Panama. Travel was kinda different in those times, but my dad was an adventurous sort. Lots of stories concerning that trip.

            But to the anecdote: In La Paz, Bolivia, it was not uncommon to see indigenous couples on the street who had only one pair of sandals between them. They each wore one of these sandals, presumably alternating upon which foot they wore them from day to day. These sandals were made from old tires, having been cut out of the tread area, and employing twine or rope of some kind to hold them on to their feet.

            That whole trip was a real eye-opener for a thoughtful kid from the heart of American suburbia, let me tell ya. It is not merely an old saw that travel is a broadening experience.

            1. ambrit

              I hear you loud and clear. My Dad worked in South America and the Caribbean for USAID in the ’60s. The closest to that experience we have here in America today would be the homeless “camps” that the ‘authorities’ try very hard to make ‘disappear’ on a regular basis. (Even the old style migrant agricultural workers got at least something. Florida was full of them during the orange harvest.)
              Getting back to your family’s trip; did your parents exhibit a faith that the West’s destiny was to improve the lives of all those impoverished people you met? That’s what I “learned” from my parents. We were supposed to ‘save the world’ by improving the material standard of living of all the “less fortunate” of the Earth. Now look at us.

  5. fresno dan

    The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing into abuses of the H-1B skilled guest worker visa program. Lawmakers heard experts describe how the use of foreign workers has come to dominate the IT industry, with many tech giants using the program to fire well-paid current workers and replace them with workers from abroad at significantly lower pay.
    But…but….but……BUTT – to get a good job, get a good education
    Oh, and because I have a genetic defect that compels me to bash the FED no matter what – where’s the yammering about DEFLATION…..oh, that’s right. When its wages, its…productivity or something….

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      “Lawmakers heard experts describe…”

      And of course by experts they mean Scum Sucking Industry Lobbyists.

      I love hearing Obama wax poetic about STEM jobs being the key to US competitiveness. While in the smokey backroom of the White House they plot how they can bring in more barefooted workers to do the “Good Jobs” for less money (aka H1Bs).

      Can’t wait to hear the Happy Talk they make up for TPP and how the New World Order will be good for “Merican Workers”.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Three of the four anonymously “testifying” workers were former employees of Southern California Edison.

      Dianne Feinstein, one of two senators from CALIFORNIA, who is supposedly representing the interests of the citizens of her state in the capitol, is a member of the “judiciary” committee.

      The significance of the fact that the “victims” of H-B1 visa abuse are forced to “testify” anonymously, an unusual circumstance in congressional “investigations”, is apparently lost on Ms. Feinstein and the other august “liberals” on the panel such as Schumer, Leahy, Durbin, Klobuchar and Franken to name a few.

      One really must marvel at the mental gymnastics being performed in the heads of these people in attempting to square the ever-so-earnest promises of “job, jobs, jobs” with even the possibility of INCREASING the number of H-B1 visas available instead of demanding the program’s immediate elimination.

      I am humbled at the level of intellectual superiority of which these public servants MUST be possessed, and am grateful that they have deigned to “serve” the likes of someone as stupid as I am. After all, I am STILL trying to figure out how outsourcing millions of high-paying manufacturing jobs was good for the “middle class.”

  6. Jim Haygood

    Latest ‘Operation Mockingbird’ dispatch from the Saddam’s WMDs paper:

    WASHINGTON — The evacuation of 125 United States Special Operations advisers from Yemen in the past two days is the latest blow to the Obama administration’s counterterrorism campaign.

    The loss of Yemen as a base for American counterterrorism training, advising and intelligence-gathering carries major implications not just there, but throughout a region that officials say poses the most grievous threat to United States global interests and to the country itself.

    Grievous, comrades, ‘grievous.’ We wring our hands in despair, do we not?

    Terrorism in Yemen is exactly what you’d expect after the US spent years providing the military muscle to prop up a hated dictatorship and keep rural villages terrorized with Obama’s drone strikes from the skies.

    Expelling 125 carpetbagging American crusaders and looters ought be commemorated by a new national holiday in Yemen. Good riddance to bad yankee rubbish.

  7. fresno dan

    ‘Abandoned’ French working class ready to punish left’s neglect by voting for far right Guardian. Why vote for fake Republicans when you can vote for real ones….

    I’m glad here in ‘merica we got a choice of a republican Goldman Sachs treasury secretary, or a democratic Goldman Sachs treasury secretary…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Working class abandonment is a system (global reserve currency) feature, not a Republican bug or a Democratic bug.

      We have to ask, what is all the global reserve currency money doing being locked up in US Treasuries?

      Shouldn’t it be used for buying a tire company like Pirelli or lubricating global commerce?

      Right now, we are in a negative spiral – we lose jobs to competitors abroad so the government can borrow to spend, some on adventures, some on surveillance, with a little to help the needed. And we continue to lose jobs and the cycle repeats.

      But unlike any other country, being the issuer of the global reserve currency, we will never have to kowtow to the IMF or the World Bank. We can print as much as we want, to buy stuff from overseas, without bothering (or inconveniencing, to be more sarcastic) our manufacturing plants or having to worry about inflation. And with ‘financial liberation,’ and no capital control, hedgies can borrow ‘good for anywhere money’ here and rush in and out of markets everywhere to their profitable delight. Any other nations that try to do that, they will run into reserves problem soon enough…their central banks don’t have enough dollars for their hedge funds, loaded with cheap, newly printed local money, to exchange into.

      Basically, you can only do big-time currency speculations here…thanks to our dwindling but exhorted to spend, some have called them patriotic, working class (with little they have or can borrow, and properly motivated by commercials) and the global reserve currency status of the dollar.

      Now, you know the source of those billionaire (I did it on my own) hedgies.

  8. McWatt

    Too Much Oil

    Here in the Chicago area we are witnessing .34 cent a day price swings on gasoline at the pump.
    What is up with that?

    “They can do anything we can’t stop them from doing.” Heller

  9. Katniss Everdeen

    O/T, but a pleasant interlude for schadenfreude aficionados.

    During last night’s Kansas vs. Wichita State NCAA basketball playoff game, the smiling mug of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who was in attendance and sporting a T-shirt supporting BOTH teams, was projected onto the big screen for all the crowd to see.

    He was resoundingly booed by both sides. The reaction appeared to be satisfyingly “uncomfortable” for him.

    1. optimader

      that’s a keeper.. for themz who vicariously live and can devote the time to the rqd minutiae .

      The cross all class/political/religion boundaries success of 21st century bread and circuses never ceases to amaze me. Human nature is fundamentally constant I guess, the details of the diversion differ is all.

        1. optimader

          The Nikaians make British football hooligans sound like little girls.
          If only they had chain-link fences at the Hippodrome

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: For Clintons, a Hedge Fund in the Family New York Times. How cozy.

    It is wickedly delicious to envision the Clintons, having thought that Chelsea married Wally Cleaver, come to the realization that she actually married Eddie Haskell or, perhaps more accurately, Lumpy.

    PS. That photo is creepy. You can almost see the halo surrounding the great, white father’s head, and stopping just short of Mr. Mezvinsky’s adoring yet unworthy face. As contrasted with Dikembe Mutombo’s “whatevah” demeanor.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Chelsea marrying Gordon Gekko fits the puzzle perfectly. :-)

      That article “Misrepresenting the Left” has a few choice things to say about Billy C and his policies during his presidency (He’s Liberal, NOT Leftist). Speaks volumes about what we’ll be in for with a Hellery presidency.

      Liberals fear the end of capitalism and therefore will not support those who desire to undermine it. This is why they supported the Cold War. It is why they support the establishment of a client state in Iraq and one of the reasons why they support Israel. It is why they support the expansion of the US war in Afghanistan. It is why they support a health care bill that is not single payer but supportive of the insurance industry. It is why Barack Obama had no doubts when he bailed out Wall Street.

  11. Jef

    “…survival of the fittest…”

    I have an acquaintance who is at least a couple hundred lb overweight, literally no neck, and is an uncouth lout to boot. He has a smoking hot blond wife and It can only be because he is a hedge fund partner with loads of dough.

    The other night we all went out and as I talked to blondie for a while she mentioned she was going to write a book as a guide on how to have a happy marriage. What it boiled down to was all you have to do is give unlimited oral gratification to your hubby and he will keep your high limit credit cards topped up. She honestly said this to me as if she discovered some secret, previously unheard of system. She didn’t say that in so many words but when she was done laying it out there was simply no other way to look at it.

    So something is being perpetuated but I am not so sure that it is the fittest.

  12. Garrett Pace

    Minding the Nurture Gap

    I was interested to see that on the time-spent-with-children-on-developmental-care graph, the time spent for poor goes up too, just not as much as the rich people, basically tripling between 1995 and today. That’s a remarkable parenting shift.

    1. cwaltz

      At some point child care becomes unaffordable and it makes more sense to stay home with the kids.

  13. Jill

    No the banks have not escaped prosecution because they are surrogate spies. They escape prosecution because they’re part of the group who is running things. Spying is a big business for them. They make a lot of money selling that data. It’s a profit center, just like arms dealing.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Significant pension cuts.

    Let’s see, for some pensions, they tax the public to fund the projected shortage. That’s taking money out of the economy to put into, what? Bonds? S&P index fund? Maybe the sellers take the proceeds to buy food, neutralizing the initial economically subtractive taxation or maybe the sellers are foreigners and the money goes to stimulate foreign economies.

    Why doesn’t the government just print more money and put it into those pension funds? Is that inflationary? Maybe. But isn’t it actually good in times like today?

    Do we not do it, because the people must not ever be given free money, except to show the magnificence of the ruler? The people must be conditioned to ‘earn it?’ Only the government can have free money?

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Smog choked Paris. Half of cars off roads.

    According to a 2011 World Health Organisation report, the planet’s most polluted city was Ahvaz in Iran with an average of 372 mcg/m3.

    Beijing had an average of 121 mcg/m3, while Paris was measured at 38 mcg/m3.

    Here is a great question for our SAT test takers – how many cars should off in Beijing?

  16. Savonarola

    Go, P-33, GO! I hope that she survives to reproduce, raise her young, and lead a healthy puma life. The incredible barriers we put in the way of wild life are a curse on the planet. I hope that she beats the odds.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We live in a crazy world.

      We should put everyone in a mental institution.

      Maybe we are already in one, but don’t realize it, because we are not sane enough to know we are insane.

      1. Demeter

        If we were in an institution, wouldn’t there be regular meal service? Working toilets? Lights out?

  17. G3

    Reg the non-prosecution of banks :
    Ted Rall thinks that the Silicon valley companies like Google, Apple etc have been arm-twisted to submit to NSA mass surveillance regime in return for non-prosecution reg tax havens. Sounds plausible to me.

  18. montanamaven

    I liked the Ron Jacobs article. Nothing I didn’t know but very concise description of Liberals versus Leftists.

Comments are closed.