Links 3/25/15

Review: ‘Life of Cats’ Spotlights a Centuries-Old Fascination in Japan New York Times

‘Extinct’ bird rediscovered: Last seen in 1941 Science Daily

Are smartphones making our children mentally ill? Telegraph (furzy mouse)

Climate denial is immoral, says head of US Episcopal Church: ‘It is a very blind position’ Raw Story (furzy mouse)

Slavery taints global supply of seafood Associated Press (Bob H)

Stop Making Us Guinea Pigs New York Times. Op-ed against Monsanto’s Roundup.

Bitcoin’s lien problem Izabella Kaminska, FTAlphaville. Important.

Banning Cash Stumbling and Mumbling

A new take on the gold standard? Michael Perelman

Currency concerns everywhere Reuters

New Signs of Slowdown in China’s Manufacturing Sector Wall Street Journal

Biggest Wealth Fund Ready to Buy ‘A Lot’ of Asian Properties Bloomberg

Europe is waiting room full of the sick Financial Times


Greece said to run out of cash by April 20 without fresh aid ekathimerini

How Greece Hopes to Get Some Quick Cash WSJ Brussels

Athens raids public health coffers in hunt for cash Financial Times

ECB tells Greek banks not to raise exposure to Greek gov’t debt-source Reuters

Greece: Fascists At the Gate Counterpunch


Kremlin heads for collision course with Ukraine over debt haircut Telegraph

The Political Perils of a Ukraine Default Bloomberg


Too many rats, not enough cheese Sic Semper Tyrannis (Chuck L)


Obama Agrees to Afghan Request to Slow U.S. Troop Withdrawal Wall Street Journal

The CIA Just Declassified the Document That Supposedly Justified the Iraq Invasion VICE (Chuck L)

U.S. Surveillance Planes Aid Fight by Iraq, Iranian-Backed Militias for Tikrit Wall Street Journal

Rebukes From White House Risk Buoying Netanyahu New York Times

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

US tech giants face fresh Europe fight Financial Times

Google Makes Most of Close Ties to White House Wall Street Journal

It’s Not Too Late: Save Democracy By Amending the Constitution Nation (Carla R)

Why the Supreme Court Might Actually Rule Against the Corporate Interest Dave Dayen, New Republic. OMG, Scalia might be on the right side of an issue!

Bipartisan Deal on Health Care Issues Hits a Snag Among Senate Democrats New York Times

U.S. Congress Clears Deck for Pension Decimation PEU Report

‘What have you actually accomplished?’: Megyn Kelly pushes Ted Cruz on his record Raw Story (furzy mouse)

Pennsylvania Cop Charged with Homicide After Shooting Unarmed Man Gawker. The cop charged is a woman.

Ars Technica has obtained Oakland’s entire license plate reader database The Verge


Low returns drag down US shale industry Financial Times

Saudis Up The Pressure On Oil Markets OilPrice

Dismal Scientists

Not even Paul Krugman is a real Keynesian Boston Globe

Messed-Up Macro Robert Skidelsky, Project Syndicate

Fed’s Bullard sees roaring boom for US economy, but nasty shock for markets Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Shadow Banking System Shows Signs of Stabilizing After Collapse Bloomberg

Class Warfare

The Capitalist Takeover of Higher Education Counterpunch

9 Billionaires Are About to Remake New York’s Public Schools—Here’s Their Story The Nation. From last week, still germane.

Antidote du jour. Andrea: ulls wind dancing over the impromptu Alps of the shoreline point in NE whaling town, whete they had nowhere else to dump the snow!

gulls in snow links

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Disturbed Voter

    The CIA revised redaction is curiously timed to match the US ramp up of anti-ISIS activity, and the further delay “at Afghanistan’s request” of full withdrawal of US forces there. The linked article is completely exculpatory of all the failures that happened in 2002-2003 … even if there were no conspiracies involved. “We did what was best at the time, given the limitations imposed by the “fog of warmongering” … and anything that happened since was pure “unintended consequences” that “couldn’t have been foreseen” … in spite of what the PNAC says. So basically nobody is at fault for what they did during that period or since … right in line with the “immaculate conception of US foreign policy” embraced by the last 4 administrations.

    1. Jim Haygood


      WASHINGTON — President Obama’s decision to maintain troop levels in Afghanistan through 2015 is partly designed to bolster American counterterrorism efforts in that country, including the Central Intelligence Agency’s ability to conduct secret drone strikes and other paramilitary operations from United States military bases, administration officials said Tuesday.

      After all, ‘counterterrorism’ and drone strikes worked so well in Yemen!

      Let’s all give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back, for being such exceptional people.

      1. MikeNY

        Yes, and now the buffoons in DC are scheming and arguing about how to circumvent budget restrictions and find another hundred bil to dump into the Middle East cesspool.

        It would be far easier to douse a hundred bil in gasoline and set a match to it.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Humpty Hadi, on the run:


          ‘We came, we saw, he fled.’

    2. andyb

      Can’t interrupt the opium supply chain funding all of the CIA black ops and providing funds for the 535 in offshore accounts. Apparently no real journalist has seen the pix of our troops guarding the Afghan poppy fields. No different than the Vietnam era Air America drug cargoes smuggled into Saigon and then transferred by military cargo to Andrews AFB. This is the real reason the US will NEVER leave Afghanistan.

      1. susan the other

        the mineral resources in the southern mountains of Afghanistan are a bigger objective, long term control of gold, precious metals, and rare earths – anybody can grow poppies

        1. Disturbed Voter

          Though in Afghanistan, like in Iraq, all the spoils are going to Chinese companies. Chinese mining companies have already destroyed a number of ancient Buddhist sites in the Afghan mountains, because they are on top of valuable deposits. The Taliban didn’t completely destroy everything during their rule … Chinese mining companies will do the rest.

  2. Juneau

    “Life of Cats”: Cats may be in the foreground or background but they are always there; reminds me of my favorite quote which I believe is from Tribe of Tiger by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas:
    “Cats love us despite themselves”… How true.

  3. Faye Carr

    Re: Banning Cash. What a devious way to further pocket picking. I’m slowly discovering just how many ways my debit & credit cards are being “hit”. Besides the Retailer Fee issue, or the ‘foreign ATM’ charges, it’s so easy to rack up.

    I wanted $20 cash back after purchase at a retailer register (Dollar Store) until the cashier told me they clip my account for $3!

    Just imagine all us direct deposit (forced to it) low wage earners discovering this for the first time.

  4. rich

    Carlyle’s Rubenstein Wants TPP Trade Deal

    CNBC interviewed Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein. Near the end of the interview he addressed trade legislation:

    “… the business community would like to see is trade legislation passed by the Congress in this session. I think that would do a great deal for the U.S. economy, particularly the Pacific related trade agreement. If that could get done, passed through the Congress I think that would do a great deal for the U.S. export market. I think it would be good for the countries that sign on to it. We’re very focused in the business community on trade legislation. That’s probably the highest priority right now.”

    Got that Congress? They pushed through pension busting legislation for the business community with no sunshine or debate. Next up are trade deals that put business rights above national laws and court systems. It’s our PEU world, where politicians Red and Blue love PEU.

  5. Nope

    The Bitcoin piece on FTAlphaville is wrong because there is no such thing as a single bitcoin. Bitcoins cannot be traced through the system in the way they suggest. Here’s an example. Two addresses, A & B, send one bitcoin each to bitcoin address C. C sends one of those bitcoins to address D and one to E. Okay, here’s the question. Did D receive the bitcoin from A or from B? There’s no way to answer that question because there is no such thing as a bitcoin in isolation from the flow of bitcoins. So if the person who holds address A still thinks he has a claim on the coin that used to reside at A what’s he going to do? Sue D and E? Sue just D? Sue just E? And remember, my example is the simplest possible, not the reality. The reality is that A may have a claim against C, but that’s where his claim ends because he can’t trace “his bitcoin” any further through the system. And, importantly, there may be no way at all for him to find out who controls address C in order to sue in the first place. Complicating this further, each bitcoin can be broken down to 9 decimal places, each smallest unit called a “satoshi”. Its thoroughly impossible to trace where each satoish, or .000000001 of a bitcoin has gone from the myriad potential paths each follows. Its kind of funny that George Fogg has been thinking about this for 14 months without understanding that basic piece of the technology, but this is a potential pitfall when old fogies try to wrap 20th century ideas around 21st century tech.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Your statement is not correct. The blockchain provides a complete transaction history: “A new block contains information that “chains” it to the previous block thus giving the block chain its name. It is a cryptographic hash of the previous block, using the SHA-256 hashing algorithm.” Similarly, in this layperson version:

      Bob creates a new transaction by following the same procedure as previously, except that he first computes the SHA-256 checksum (a unique fingerprint) of the encrypted transaction he wants to transfer and then inserts the checksum in the “What” field of the new receipt. In effect, he is linking the new transfer receipt to his previous transaction with Alice, and by doing so, transfers its value to John.

      And we pointed to the UCC issue about Bitcoin over a year ago, when this post at Credit Slips ran:

      As many readers will know, all 50 states have enacted the UCC with only minor variations. Article 9 governs security interests in personal property – that is, movable and intangible property as opposed to land and buildings. The bank that gave you a car loan has an Article 9 security interest in the automobile serving as collateral for the loan, and the bank providing operating capital for your corner bakery similarly may have an Article 9 security interest in the inventory, equipment, and accounts at the store. Article 9 is one of those laws that only specialists tend to know, but it plays an important role in the flow of commerce.

      The bakery example was deliberate given this news about a Durham, NC, bakery accepting bitcoins. I have no idea about the financial circumstances of this particular bakery, but to understand the point assume it has loan from a bank secured by the bakery’s “inventory, goods, equipment, accounts, and general intangibles.” Such an arrangement would not be uncommon and would effectively give the bank an Article 9 security interest in all of the bakery’s property that is not real estate, sometimes referred to as a “blanket lien.”

      When a customer pays the bakery with bitcoins, those bitcoins certainly now become part of the bank’s collateral. Given that one bitcoin is worth over $600 today, the customer either has ordered the world’s most expensive donut or technically will have paid with bitcoin subunits. For ease of exposition, let’s just call them “bitcoins.”

      The bank’s security interest will attach to the bakery’s bitcoins. When the bakery uses bitcoins to buy flour from a supplier, the bank’s security interest will continue to encumber them. UCC section 9-315(a)(1) provides that the bank’s security interest “continue in collateral notwithstanding . . . disposition thereof unless the security party authorized the disposition free of the security interest. The supplier is not protected by the “buyer in ordinary course” provision of 9-320(a) because that provision only strips security interests from “goods.”

      Further, the security interest will remain with the bitcoins through subsequent transfers (UCC § 9-325). A remote transferee of the bitcoins will take the bitcoins subject to the bank’s security interest. Assuming the bank has taken the easy steps to perfect its security interest, which it almost always will have, the bank can seize the bitcoins as collateral if the bakery’s debt goes unpaid. The possibility of another party with superior property interest in a bitcoin would seem to substantially dampen their utility as a medium of exchange.

      1. Nope

        I’m sorry Yves but you and all these non-tech people are wrong. If two bitcoins flow to one address, there is no way to trace each of those coins from that address to the next, unless they are both transferred to the same subsequent address. As soon as those two “coins” (or any fractions of them) are transferred to different addresses there is no way to determine which “coin” went where. The thing that gets cryptographically signed is the transaction, not the bitcoins. Bitcoins don’t have serial numbers, and can’t be traced the way they are claiming. There is no such thing as an isolated, single bitcoin.

        And I’d add that even identifying who is actually holding the coins at any given address can be almost impossible, so bringing suit to regain said bitcoins, even if it could be proved that the coins at that address really flow from the source they claim, which can’t be done, is going to be a non-starter as well.

        1. bob

          It’s not about the future, it’s about the past.

          Being able to track a ‘bitcoin’ forward is not the issue, being able to track it backward is. When someone who was the victim of theft can track a ‘bitcoin’ back to where it was “stolen”, then they can have a claim to that ‘bitcoin’.

          If they “buy” a ‘bitcoin’ that was stolen, the ‘bitcoin’ itself contains the transaction record of the theft.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sheesh, we’ve been going there (to Fore Street) for a few years (as in it is not new) and I have to tell you, we’ve never been all that impressed. In fact, you and I went there in 2013. It was the place with high ceilings, open booths, and brick walls. IIRC, you had steak. How can they say it opened in 2014?

  6. Jim Haygood

    From the NYT:

    Every American president since Harry S. Truman has had differences with Israel, [Ambassador Ron] Dermer told the group [of Democratic congress members], and they always work themselves out.

    Representative Steve Israel, Democrat of New York, who initiated and organized the dinner, said, “What people need to do right now is read a little bit of history, take a deep breath and relax, because every administration has had moments of tension with Israel, and it’s always forgotten.”

    The gathering was part of a bid by Mr. Dermer, the American-born former Republican operative … to smooth tensions.

    Israel (the congressman) suavely assures us that Israel (the country) — despite forty years of defying US policy on settlements, hijacking our political system, and sucking in $3 billion a year in tribute — is our friend. Israel has always been our friend.

    Yeah, right. Sounds plausible to me! /sarc

      1. neo-realist

        Did the Israelis dust off some old Reichian invention and remake it into a weapon of black mail?

      2. Antifa

        The raygun holds hundreds of projectile rounds, which is possible because each projectile is thin and flat. And every projectile carries the likeness of Thomas Jefferson. Getting hosed down with this tension releasing weapon is extremely comforting to a Congresscritter. One of the private pleasures of being among the 535.

    1. Jagger

      Of course, Israel is our eternal friend. Otherwise, why would the US hand over to Israel mass, unfiltered NSA data? Israel clearly has to be our Very Best Friend Forever, especially when considering how dangerous unfiltered NSA data could be in the wrong hands. Undoubtably, the political blackmail potential of NSA data never even entered the mind of our VBFF. And it naturally follows that unfiltered NSA data would never ever possibly be used by our BFFF against the US to ensure “it’s always forgotten”. /sarc

      And for our Irony of the Day we have this: Israel’s Foreign Minister Lieberman accused Arab-israeli’s of being a fifth column w/i Israel.

    2. tgs

      And it is not just here. Apparently, undying loyalty to Israel is a requirement in the UK, France and Germany as well. Such loyalty is apparently one of the ‘western values’ neo-liberal politicians are always going on about.

    3. Bunk McNulty

      This could be entertaining: In their quest to undermine Obama and derail any chance for negotiations between the United States (and it’s allies) and Iran, the GOP had pushed the envelope right up to the edge of the table. It’s becoming clear that it may have finally toppled over.

      1. Jim Haygood

        From your link:

        When asked about [receiving] Israeli intel, [Boehner] claimed he was “baffled” by the allegations. Don’t expect him to budge from that position anytime soon, because the implications of admitting to the charges would not only be political suicidal, but possibly criminal.

        According to U.S. law, “espionage” is defined loosely as “The act of obtaining, delivering, transmitting, communicating, or receiving information about the national defense with an intent, or reason to believe, that the information may be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”

        With the R party chairing Congressional committees, they aren’t likely to investigate themselves for espionage. And while federal prosecutors all nominally answer to the D party’s ‘Justice’ department, professional courtesy probably means that Boehner won’t be invited to testify to a grand jury either.

        Nevertheless, we can hope. The traditionally Israel-friendly D party has ruefully awoken to how shabbily it has been treated by Netanyahu. If the R party takes over the presidency in 2017, no such restraint will be shown. We’ll be back to the days of George W. Bush, who told his cabinet to ‘just give them everything they want’ — Iraq war and all.

  7. Garrett Pace

    “Climate denial is immoral”

    No, the immorality would be indifference or negligence to our shared environment. Loving money for yourself more than clean water for your neighbors. You can love the planet and still have unpopular or even untrue beliefs about its condition and direction.

    1. MikeNY

      Interesting comment.

      I am an educated person, but I feel incompetent to render an informed, confident opinion about the reality of AGW. I rely on the collective judgment of the scientific community, so I suspect that AGW is occurring; I can’t say I know it is.

      I agree with you that indifference to the welfare of the planet and to the circumstances of others is immoral. I think over-consumption is immoral and the wealth gap in the world is immoral. On that basis alone I believe the West should reduce its resource footprint. I am not sure how to prioritize the goals of i) economic justice, and ii) reducing global resource consumption. Ideally, I would like both. But I feel far more confident in saying that economic injustice is a reality (seeing it with my own eyes) than in saying that AGW is a reality.

        1. andyb

          The ongoing unstoppable radiation from Fukushima will kill us all long before any climate change effects.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Anthropocentrism is our salvation – most popular paradigm, circa 2015.

          “Nature revolves around humans!”

      1. Paul P


        Double the amount of food you eat, you’re going to gain weight. Humans are taking carbon that has been locked up in coal, oil, and gas over geologic time and spewing it in the atmosphere and oceans on a human time scale of 300 years. This is being done in addition to the normal carbon cycle.

        Scientists have measured the carbon going into the atmosphere and the increasing average global temperature. Both have been increasing. The troposphere is heating up. The oceans are heating up. The permafrost is thawing. The Arctic and Antarctic ice is melting.

        These are measurements, empirical data, and not controversial. Philosophically, we cannot know anything for sure. But, I’ll bet you had your kids vaccinated. Do you feel incompetent to render an informed opinion about the efficacy of vaccinations?

        1. MikeNY

          Paul, I have tried several times to answer you, but each post has been eaten (perhaps because I am posting from another computer?). If I can get this posted, I shall try again…

          1. MikeNY

            Sadly, eaten again. *sigh*

            Perhaps I’ll try again later. There have been no embedded links. Can Yves or Lambert tell me why this might be happening repeatedly? Is it because I am using a different computer and in a different location?

    2. Llewelyn Moss

      Planet Destruction for fun and profit — It’s the Neoliberal thing to do. After they turn the Earth into a barren rock, they’ll just rocket away to Marz.

      Neoliberal’s motto: “Hooray for me and f**k you!”

  8. Alex

    Just a bit of general feedback, perhaps you find it as funny as I found it: last night I met with an old friend who is one of the top journalists in Germany. He told me: “It’s been two years ago that you told me about TTIP and why that is a problem. One year later the “quality journalism” in Germany cought up on this issue, and now, only one year later, even the leader of our large “left-wing” party seems to grasp that there may be something wrong with that.

    …of course, what I told my friend two years ago were informations I found here, at NC!

  9. craazyboy

    “The CIA Just Declassified the Document That Supposedly Justified the Iraq Invasion”

    I guess it’s official then. If a POTUS wants to fight his own personal war using the full resources of the USG, all he needs to do is make up whatever story he wants, tell us it’s “intelligence” contained in a Top Secret Document and have your Sec of State wave around his personal stash of cocaine at a UN hearing – claiming it’s chemical bio warfare stuff made by the enemy.

    After you invade and everyone finds out the “intelligence” was not so accurate – blame the source. When you get pressured to declassify the actual documents under the Freedom of Information Act – release the document “redacted” from top to bottom. Run for re-election – everything’s fine.

    No actionable legal problems here, nor any repercussions. The un-redacted document gets released 13 years later and your brother runs for POTUS. Whata country!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Still, US political dynasties (who are obliged to take turns every eight years) envy the electoral predictability of Yemen:

      Hadi was the sole candidate in the presidential election that was held on 21 February 2012. His candidacy was backed by the ruling party as well as the parliamentary opposition.

      But as Yemen slides toward civil war (another Islamic country destabilized!), all of Obama’s drones can’t prevent Humpty Hadi from having a great fall. Especially since the Houthi rebels inherited a half billion worth of weapons when our mercenaries heroes scurried out of the country on commercial flights, surrendering their weapons at the airport.

      Do we have the world’s smartest neocons, or whut?

      1. craazyboy

        So ya have a setback now and then. But everywhere else is going swimmingly. Isn’t it?

        Then there are all those other ex-Soviet countries(that I can barely remember the names of when I see ’em – much less spell them – but they all seem to be in “close” proximity to the Caspian Sea) and a liberated Eastern Europe that are our friends now. Plus Africa in general is coming along well for us, as Wolfie had hoped.

    2. Carla

      I’m currently reading “National Security and Double Government” by Michael J. Glennon. Y’all might want to check it out (think I first heard of it a few months back on NC, then I stopped at the library the other day and there it was!)

      1. susan the other

        That’s an interesting title because “double” implies options and flexibility whereas “shadow” implies oligarchy.

  10. ProNewerDeal

    Apparently in Modern Murica, sportspeople are held to a much higher standard than the powerful poli-trick-ians or businesspeople. Apparently the Outrage Du Jour on Sports talk radio is how some NFL HandEgg teams have given jobs to players accused or convicted of beating their girlfriend (Greg Hardy) or young ~5 yr old son (Adrian Peterson). These are bad guys that harmed 1 person but did not murder than 1 person, yet they are criticized much more than the Most Evil Muricans that murder 1000s. Meanwhile, 0bama and the Sickcare Mafia Oligarchs who own him annually murder 50K Americans by killing Medicare For All or a “Public Option” to buy into Medicare at actuarial cost. Ditto for Mass-Murdering 0bama and his Military Industrial Complex Oligarch Puppeteers annual drone-strike murder of 100s of innocent civilians, including several innocent US citizens like the Denver-born teenager al-Awlaki son , as well as 100s of innocent US civilians by Terrorist Police murders.

    The most evil, criminal USians are barely criticized for their heinous crimes, certainly not by BigMedia. Modern Murican Hypocrisy & Bizarro-World morality may the most absurd in world history.

    Meanwhile, I still hear some idiots spew the cliche that “the more powerful you are in an organization, the higher the moral standard you are held to” or some such nonsense. The Abu Gharib torture scandal is 1 such example that shows these idiots have it completely back-a**wards. The low-paid enlisted soldiers got a prison sentence or a dishonorable discharge, while Bush43, Cheney, Donald Dumsfeld, and the MIC Oligarchs who own them, faced no felony, financial, or reputational penalty for ordering these soldiers to torture these prisoners.

  11. tgs

    re: The Capitalist Takeover of Higher Education

    I teach in the philosophy department of a large community college, and can say that this article is completely spot-on. Our course offerings are popular – all six sections I taught this semester were maxed out and four were wait listed. The same is true for many of my colleagues. And yet, we barely survived an attempt to fold our department into a general ‘social science’ department last spring. We are informed that enrollments are irrelevant. Our offering a variety of courses ‘confuses’ students and is a major factor in low completion rates. There is a move to give incoming students a complete two-year schedule (no electives) so as to simplify the process and increase both completion and ‘success’ (the new term of art). In fact, we have a whole new sub-department called ‘Success’.

    As you can imagine, morale especially among senior faculty is low, since we apparently share a view of education that is no longer relevant. The current push is to produce problem solvers rather than critical thinkers.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Money is like tanks, and as the Germans found out a few wars ago, you have to concentrate them for these beasts to be effective.

      Concentration and mobility…gotta be able to rush in and out of emerging markets. Gotta beat into them, sorry, negotiate trade deals to eliminate these pesky capital controls.

      Now, back to our Gotham city. You can think of a billionaire as being like a Panzer division. And you can do a lot with nine of them.

      1. susan the other

        As we have now learned, education for profit is a racket. Student loans are on the verge of being forgiven, and none too soon. Which means that education does not pay off enough to justify spending a premium for it. And the same rule applies to 9 billionaires as it does to subsidized student loans. Unless those 9 rich guys think they can honor all the expectations of society and do so at a profit this is just more capitalist folly. Not only should student loans be forgiven, totally, but all future education should be free to each and every student who maintains a C average. So the 9 rich guys in question would then be forced to lobby every state board of ed and every state legislature to get reimbursed for their private administration expenses, plus built in profits, by the taxpayer. So why the hell give them a venue in education when the public system we have now will work just as well if not more objectively?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That free education is like ‘basic tuition income guarantee.’

          Some one once pointed out to me that learning was a job. To me, it is both tuition income and job guarantee.

          “What school are you attending?”

          “School of hard knocks.”

          “Who is your teacher?”

          “I am learning from life.”

          “What is your major?”

          “I major in Starvation Avoidance.”

          “Approved for Basic Income Guarantee! Sorry, I mean Job Guarantee.”

    2. sleepy

      I worked in the humanities at a local community college for years. My wife is still at it, but as been informed she will be terminated at the end of this semester. We both were/are English teachers, my wife with 18 yrs at the college.

      Humanities teachers are being let go right and left. Administrators are increasingly engaged in what is essentially make work at its best, and at its worst a mad dash for quantitative results. The worst is a proposal that all teachers who teach the same course follow identical syllabi so that on any given day everyone is on “the same page”. Recently, via a grant called “mastery writing”, a group of non-faculty have taken over much of what used to be freshman composition. So, the faculty gets let go.

      The handwriting was on the wall 4 years ago when the admin cut out all departmental head positions. Instead, those positions are now reduced in number to 2 and filled by quasi-administrators. Beyond that, the college has an “in-house” company owned faculty association which negotiates on behalf of faculty with no authorization. Been trying to clear that up for years, but no one is interested. Go figure.

      Student outcomes, retention, the fine arts teacher just got laid off, theater is gone, etc., etc. I am just glad that my wife and I are well into are 60s and able to handle retirement.

      1. tgs

        And of course the end game is to get rid of faculty, teacher’s unions, the lot – massive online classes with content provided by commercial and government vetted content providers will be one aspect of our dystopian future.

          1. susan the other

            mindless specialization… it’s the way we become extinct extincter, extinctest -( thanks Orlov for my new favorite phrase)

      2. Carla

        Many thanks, sleepy, to you and your wife for your many years of service teaching English to young adults at the community college level. And best wishes for your retirement(s).

  12. Eureka Springs

    Well it looks like the text of Move To Amend’s proposed amendment has tightened up somewhat. I’m sure the Koch Brothers and their ilk have a good laugh over it since they are not incorporated it wouldn’t slow them down one bit. And legislative bodies would still have the power to keep the money flowing their way.

    Therefore I still stand opposed to the fecklessness of Move To Amend whomever they are, they at best seek to turn the clock back to pre Citizens United… which was anti-democratic and corrupted by money at its core.

    1. Carla

      Corporate personhood goes back to at least Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886. The We the People amendment restricts Constitutional rights to human beings and overturns money as speech. Since you consider Move to Amend to be “feckless,” I’m curious to know how you would restore democratic rights to American citizens. Or perhaps you think this is not worth doing?

  13. Ulysses

    Nice piece by Chris Hedges celebrating the work of journalist P. Sainath:

    “The traditions, rituals and struggles of the poor and workingmen and workingwomen are replaced with the vapid homogenization of mass culture. Life’s complexities are reduced to simplistic stereotypes. Common experiences center around what we have been fed by television and mass media. We become atomized and alienated. Solidarity and empathy are crushed. The cult of the self becomes paramount. And once the cult of the self is supreme we are captives to the corporate monolith.

    As the mass media, now uniformly in the hands of large corporations, turn news into the ridiculous chronicling of pseudo-events and pseudo-controversy we become ever more invisible as individuals.”

  14. linda amick

    Ref: Cop charged with homicide.

    If you examine the few instances of cops being charged for killing unarmed suspects you will find that they are ALL non-white men. Speaks volumes.

    1. Elliott

      That was my immediate response as well. The details in this case are horrific, but still, she is a woman cop.

      As Katniss Everdeen notes below from comments there: “It’s called a brotherhood for a reason.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        I believe that is what a Zen monk should shout out loud (very loud) when he realizes his satori.

    2. vidimi

      my hope is that by holding even some to account we can pave the way to them all being held to account

  15. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Pennsylvania Cop Charged with Homicide After Shooting Unarmed Man Gawker. The cop charged is a woman.

    The top several comments pretty much sum up my thoughts before I even read the article:

    “So the only way to get charges brought against a cop for shooting an unarmed citizen is if it’s a female cop. Noted. ”

    “It’s called a brotherhood for a reason.”

    “AND if the victim is a white male.”

    I guess they didn’t like her enough to go the secret “grand jury” route to clear her. Maybe she rebuffed the sexual advances of a superior or filed some sort of sexual harassment complaint and the piper demanded payment.

    Interesting bit about the video camera in the stun gun. I wonder how long that’s been the case. First I’ve heard of it.

    1. vidimi

      would you have preferred she wasn’t charged? impunity for some is a more unstable situation than impunity for all.

  16. Andrea1

    On John Helmer about Kolomoisky:

    Idk about the state of Kolomoisky’s Swiss resident permit, whether it is current, lapsed and not yet renewed, or renewed. Media have not published anything about it.

    However the Helmer article is confused and inaccurate on many points. The article mixes up two different status types and treats them as one, and mis-reports on both.

    1) Being a non-Swiss resident in Switzerland (CH.) Kolomoisky has the absolute right to be such, as he holds a Cypriot passport, which affords him free movement and establishment rights within the Schengen area, which is far bigger than the EU and includes CH. Moreover, he would have that right even without the Cypriot passport, through family re-grouping laws. His wife and children live in CH. That is a side issue in one way (not treated in the Helmer article) but it would count in case of non-renewal and him fighting it. These residency permits are of various types (e.g. student, intern, one year residency, see for ex. different foreignor classifications in the US) and the rules for renewing them are simple (concern close on 2 million people) – it is not true that CH has no ‘permanent residency’ (green card type.) K has a type of permit that has to be renewed each year.

    2) Taxation not on wealth+income but on expenditure. Most (not all) cantons in CH offer such a scheme. The conditions, which vary, are, to be rich (obviously), to not work or have worked in CH for the past ten years, to not have business in CH, etc. It was designed for rich retirees, and is now abused by various ppl (French rock and sports stars etc.) and the cantonal authorities, to get revenues. The tax authorities calculate what is ‘owed’ each year as a lump sum, based on various ‘metrics and conventions.’ No ‘regular’ tax declaration needs then to be filled in…The number of ppl under this regime is minuscule: 5,500 about, it changes day by day / a population of over 8 million.

    Zurich recently abolished the status, a study showed that 40% of the beneficiaries paid more than they would have under the ordinary tax regime, 60% less; 50% moved away (or died) after the change.

    This ‘special tax status’ is independent of nationality, and residency status. (A Swiss national, a person with a permanent / temporary residency permit, can attempt to gain that status. As can foreignors living abroad. In the last case, they obtain, at the same time, a residency permit.) K seems to have negotiated such a deal. But it has nothing to do with his residency – he could change back to ordinary taxes, or the tax board could claim he no longer fits the criteria and rescind that supposed privilege. There is no ‘paying’ for a residency permit. The lump sum he (presumably) has paid in the past are the taxes he owes and I’d be very suprised if they were as high as mentioned in the article.

    On what grounds could/would the Swiss not renew his residency permit? The first would be that he actually doesn’t live here (in terms of spending time, being too involved elsewhere, etc. But the family thing would be difficult. Morevoer, it seems that his primary residence is not in CH but in France…) Secondly, the Russian accusation of war-crimes etc. – maybe – but if K was on the Interpol list the only duty the Swiss need fulfill is to arrest him when on CH territory.

    1. vidimi

      schengen is not far bigger than the eu. in fact, many EU countries, including the UK, Ireland, and yes, Cyprus, are not members.

      helmer wrote at length about the grounds by which CH would refuse him which he linked to in the article.

      1. Andrea1

        You are right, The EU is 28 members and Schengen 26. My bad. I should have just said ‘Schegen which is not the same as the EU’…

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Life of Cats…Japan.

    You don’t get the impression that the Japanese of the Edo period (1615-1868) and the half-century after were as crazed about cats as Internet culture suggests we are today.

    Maybe they did and they enjoyed Soseki Natsumi’s “I Am a Cat” novel.

  18. susan the other

    about mining human feces for gold being a viable business plan: we should all eat a bit more mercury to make our gold deposits more accessible… just so them mining companies can make a tiny bit more profit

  19. ewmayer

    Greece said to run out of cash by April 20 without fresh aid | Ekatherimini

    Hitler’s birthday – how fitting. /sarc

    ‘What have you actually accomplished?’: Megyn Kelly pushes Ted Cruz on his record Raw Story (furzy mouse)

    “We filibustered some folks” — Although as with Scalia’s alleged non-bankster-owned state (which I’ll believe only when I see it in vote form on a suitable SCOTUS case), given that said filibuster was on Obamacare, it might be a case of “OMG! Cruz might be on the right side of an issue!”-ness.

  20. Ulysses

    Looks like the cat may have gotten out of the bag this afternoon:

    Thursday, 26 March 2015, 12:08 pm
    Press Release: Wikileaks

    Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – Investment chapter

    “WikiLeaks releases today the “Investment Chapter” from the secret negotiations of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) agreement. The document adds to the previous WikiLeaks publications of the chapters for Intellectual Property Rights (November 2013) and the Environment (January 2014).

    The TPP Investment Chapter, published today, is dated 20 January 2015. The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.

    The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies.

    Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. The TPP is the largest economic treaty in history, including countries that represent more than 40 per cent of the world´s GDP.

    The Investment Chapter highlights the intent of the TPP negotiating parties, led by the United States, to increase the power of global corporations by creating a supra-national court, or tribunal, where foreign firms can “sue” states and obtain taxpayer compensation for “expected future profits”. These investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals are designed to overrule the national court systems. ISDS tribunals introduce a mechanism by which multinational corporations can force governments to pay compensation if the tribunal states that a country’s laws or policies affect the company’s claimed future profits…”

    1. John Mc

      I feel like a Star Trek character, Bones, when I read this document.

      “Jim, for godsakes, I am only a doctor” —-

  21. optimader

    Spider Silk Strength: Stronger Than Steel

    Kraig envisions that this genetically engineered spider silk, with its superior mechanical characteristics, will surpass the current generation of high-performance fiber. We believe that spider silk is in some ways so superior to the materials currently available in the marketplace, that an expansion of demand and market opportunities will follow spider silk’s commercial introduction. For example, the ability of this natural silk to absorb in excess of 100,000 joules of kinetic energy makes it the potentially ideal material for structural blast protection. The table below illustrates spider silks incredible toughness and strength yet weighing less.

    Comparison of the Properties of Natural Spider Silk, Kevlar® and Steel

    Material Toughness [3] Tensile Strength [4] Weight [5]
    Dragline spider silk 120,000-160,000 1,100-2,900 1.18-1.36
    Kevlar® 30,000-50,000 2,600-4,100 1.44
    Steel 2,000-6,000 300-2,000 7.84

  22. Jack

    ‘A report issued by the government funded think-tank RAND Corporation last December titled “Blinders, Blunders and Wars” said the NIE “contained several qualifiers that were dropped…. As the draft NIE went up the intelligence chain of command, the conclusions were treated increasingly definitively.”‘

    In the film In the Loop, which is a satire of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, a central plot device is a memo weighing the pros and cons of invading an unnamed middle-eastern country. There’s a scene where a White House suit orders an aid to simply highlight the entire ‘con’ section of the memo and backspace it out of existence. How horrifying that the reality seems to have been pretty exactly that.

Comments are closed.