Links 3/8/15

Selfie sticks are now banned at the Smithsonian Business Insider

“Patient” is History Tim Duy’s Fed Watch

Bankruptcy Filings Down Again 10.1% in February 2015 Credit Slips

US economy: Digging in for the downturn FT. In the oil patch.

The end is not nigh The Economist. “No other country is ready to challenge America’s dominant global position.”

Will Tesla Ever Make Money? Bloomberg

Why the west loves a kleptocrat FT

Europe, The Morally Bankrupt Union Automatic Earth


Eurogroup head responds positively to new Greek letter: government Reuters

Greece must reform and forget Syriza’s ‘false promises:’ ECB’s Coene Reuters. One might almost think the ECB was the sovereign, not Greece.

Is the IMF About to Make Greece an Offer It Can’t Refuse? Wolf Street

Gürtel: A Dangerous Spanish Silence The Spain Report. “The Popular Party as an organisation will now officially be tried, not as a suspect prosecuted for a crime but for being a ‘profit seeking participant’ that benefited from the allegedly criminal fraudulent activities of its three former treasurers.”

Austrian state faces ‘bad bank’ crisis Deutsche Welle

Heta Damage Spreads in Austrian Downgrades, German Losses Bloomberg

German bank PBB’s profit drops by 120 million euros due to value adjustment Customs Today

Austria is fast becoming Europe’s latest debt nightmare Daily Telegraph. Of course, the Torygraph has priors….


Hillary Clinton sidesteps email, foreign money questions McClatchy

Obama weighs in on Hillary Clinton’s private emails CBS. Obama learned “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.” He never checked the From field?

Bill Clinton defends foreign donations to foundation AP

Jeb Bush, Confronted by DREAMer, Compares Obama Orders to Decrees of ‘Latin American Dictator’ Bloomberg

A “PR Pawn” Confounds the Public Relations Burnishing of Texas Health Resources and its CEO Health Care Renewal. Ebola and a market-driven health care system.


Obama says Selma a living history lesson for his daughters AP

Obama honors ‘sacrifice in the face of wanton violence’ Politico

Selma, 50 years after march, remains a city divided Los Angeles Times

Billboard honors KKK founder near historic Selma bridge Daily News

EPA: Illinois oil train derailment threatens Mississippi River McClatchy

Train carrying crude oil derails near Gogama, Ont. CBC. This does seem to keep happening.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Madison police shoot and kill black teen; protests follow Journal-Sentinel; Mayor Paul Soglin: ‘We all deserve to know the facts’ in Tony Robinson shooting Wisconsin State Journal. This does seem to keep happening.

How Racism Became Policy in Ferguson Dissent

FOUND: Ferguson Mayor bragged about privatized law enforcement services months before Brown shooting Mark Ames, Pando Daily. Excellent catch on economic violence.

Inexcusable Absences The Marshall Project


This broken 700-ton generator demonstrates everything that went wrong with the reconstruction of Iraq Business Insider

Canadian killed by friendly Kurdish fire in northern Iraq McClatchy. “Canadian special operators have been among the most aggressive trainers and consultants….”

Yemeni Economy Moves Towards Deterioration and Collapse National Yemen. Seems like the Saudi near abroad is a little more lively than they’d like, these days.

Ukraine Reports First Casualty-Free Day of Conflict in Months Bloomberg

Boris Nemtsov murder: two held “may be hired hitmen” Daily Telegraph

Class Warfare

The month that killed the middle class: How October 1973 slammed America Salon

Capitalism’s secret love affair with bureaucracy David Graeber, FT

State-owned RBS pays millions in bonuses to its banker fatcats despite disastrous year with £3billion losses Daily Record. It almost makes you wonder what the purpose of the banking system is.

Naming Wrongs Felix Salmon, Slate

City-run Internet services still in limbo after FCC vote Center for Public Integrity. If the Internet is regulated like a public utility, then it makes sense for municipalities to run it, right?

Fridge caught sending spam emails in botnet attack CNET. In the Interent of Things, there will be spam.

In the Future, Robots Will Write News That’s All About You Wired

Pakistan Cricket: The Good, The Bad And The Brilliant WSJ. “In this case, the game was shortened to 47 overs, with the required run rate calculated using the complicated Duckworth-Lewis method.” Come on. Could a robot have written that?

Why America fell out of love with golf WaPo. Too many crooks not letting the amateurs play through?

Like Humans, Apes Make Irrational Economic Decisions The Atlantic

That Way We’re All Writing Now Medium

Structures, diagrams, rules, and flows Understanding Society

Antidote du jour:


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. rjs

    what is wrong with this graph?
    especially as we continued to import 7.4 million barrels of oil a day during that last week of February, 89,000 barrels a day more than we imported the previous week?

    1. Synapsid


      The recent steep climb on the graph is light tight oil (LTO–shale oil) from the Bakken in North Dakota, and the Eagle Ford shale and the Permian Basin, both in Texas. It’s blended with the heavier oils coming from Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela, so they’ll flow through pipelines, and to make up the gravity (viscosity) that Gulf Coast refineries are set up to handle. There has been so much overproduction from the shales that the excess is going into storage.

      Production should be dropping by this summer unless the oil price goes up.

  2. James Levy

    The idea of structures in the last post above is very interesting. I once told a class that the big difference between the way scholars like myself were trained to see reality, and the way reality is presented to and largely thought of by most other humans, is that I was taught to look at structures, while society is encouraged to think in terms of individuals and their personal psychology. Thus whereas I and many here see Obama as a cog in a much bigger machine, millions see him as an individual responding exclusively to his own agenda (think the way D’Sousa tries to portray him as a Kenyan Commie product of his father’s psychoses). When we look at Hilary, we see the network of backers and entrenched interests that she fronts for. When most people see Hilary, they see a bitchy broad. While I see a capitalist system of surplus value extraction, most people see their boss, who may or may not be a good person and treat them well or ill. Getting people to see the interconnectivity and structure of things is a real challenge.

    1. susan the other

      Shanghai looks positioned to be a powerhouse of cooperation. Not many places around the world to match it. Few great cities at the delta of a great river at edge of the ocean; because trade.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Probably easier to book a maternity motel spot from Shanghai than say, Lhasa.

      1. Norm de plume

        Well you won’t see England, they just got beat by Bangladesh. England are becoming endearing like their hapless rugby and soccer teams. Must be galling to invent all these games and never win World Cups.

        If it had been either Pak or Ind losing that game there would have been dark mutterings about bookmakers. The fact that there wont be must also be galling… No suspicions, just ‘dear old England’

        And no disrespect to Bangladesh intended, they are getting better all the time.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Manto & kj1313,
      Thanks, and good luck to both your national teams. Your exchange gives me hope for the future relationship between your two nations.

  3. Garrett Pace

    The Way We’re Writing Now

    One bit of encouragement I’m going to give my kids as they grow up is to develop drawing skills – people won’t dedicate time to reading anymore and seem to be much more interested in what pictures, drawings and graphs communicate.

    …thousand words &c.

    Also, someone pointed out to me that marketing is mostly done through visual, emotional affect, and most of what we see everywhere is marketing, so…

  4. LizardLounge

    Re: The Way We’re All Writing Now
    When the article fails to connect the dots between the way we’re all writing now on the social webz and the language of advertising. Esp. Reminds me of those visa “priceless” moments commercials., and their list of reasons for this syntactical phenomenon (vague, mysterious, emotional, universal) are like an ad copywriter’s mental checklist. Because sometimes honing your social media presence is a required part of your job, so you might as well approach it like a pro.

  5. Llewelyn Moss

    Speaking of “Starving Artists”

    McDonalds is proving how hip the company is by hosting a stage at the South by Southwest festival in Austin. But McDs hipness is over shadowed by how they are paying the bands. They are inviting indie groups to play on their stage but will not pay them money. Instead they tell the bands that the social media buzz created by playing is their compensation.

    Haha. “Come play on our stage. We’ll Pay You In Tweets.” Beware companies with a Clown mascot.

    1. Antifa

      Are you kidding? You can dice up a mess of tweets, toss ’em with a nice vinaigrette, serve the whole band three plates full and still lose weight!

      1. Llewelyn Moss

        I think McDs is going to deep fry the Tweets in lard before payment. But yeah, guaranteed weight loss. :-)

    2. craazyboy

      In Orange County, CA the live music clubs used to charge bands for playing there for the very same reason. We had an overabundance of rockstar wannabees. There was still a cover to get in and expensive drinks too. It’s what the market will bear all the way around.

    3. Jason King

      That’s really not that much worse than being accepted to play at SXSW. Bands that are accepted can opt either for free admission to the festival (which costs a bit north of $1000), or get paid somewhere around $150 (and buy your own admission).

  6. Jim Haygood

    ‘Obama learned [of Hillary’s private email server] “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.” He never checked the From field?’

    Naw … her emails all went to his Spam folder.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Some good from this: reportedly VP Joe Biden has publicly released all of his emails from the last six years … both emails were released.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Drug War II propaganda takes a more nuanced approach than Drug War I’s Reefer Madness, in which a dope-crazed fiend laughs uproariously as he runs over a cardboard-silhouette pedestrian. Here, long paragraphs of lay pseudo-science conceal the usual hardball D.A.R.E. punch lines:

    Those who [have a gene mutation] may also be less likely to become addicted to marijuana.

    Studies show that those without the variant gene suffer more severe withdrawal when they stop using cannabis.

    Having a double dose of a gene mutation gives you a big advantage in being able to “just say no.”

    Yeah, I remember the writhing, agony, screams and sweats of so many friends going through the horrors of cannabis withdrawal — NOT!

    “Just say no” … to government lies.

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      Having conducted lots of experiments, I can conclusively say that Ice Cream is far more addicting than Weed.
      Corollary: A few tokes of weed may lead to an Ice Cream binge.

      The truth: The Drug War was originally created to Punish Hippies — because peace and love is not as profitable as war. But it has been since co-opted by the Prison Industrial Complex to fill beds.

  8. afisher

    Mark Ames ( Pando) article on Mayor of Ferguson well worth the time to read. Then pull the string on the linked article that includes the Robert Poole agenda via Reason.

    Poole’s privatization primer is divided into chapters that each describe how to privatize a different sphere of local government. After two introductory chapters, Poole’s book gets down to the nuts and bolts of privatizing police departments (Chapter 3), privatizing the criminal justice system (Chapter 4), fire departments (Chapter 5), and so on… down to privatizing libraries and museums (chapter 8), privatizing daycare and welfare services (chapter 10) and finally, privatizing America’s K-12 public schools (chapter 14).

    TL:DR? If we forgot how we got to where we are, then we are guaranteed to repeat the mistakes. As we watch police across the country . Privatization of the police – what could possibly go wrong?

    1. Llewelyn Moss

      The DoJ Ferguson report just concluded that cops are using ticketing and incarceration as a city profit center. And that is BEFORE you privatize police and massively increase their financial incentive to prey on citizens. Let’s also face the fact that Ferguson is just a typical example of most US Police Depts — not an exception.

      Is the US a Fascist Police State yet? Do I really need to ask?

      Privatization of Everything – Milton Freidman is smiling his grave.

  9. JEHR

    Re: Canadian soldier killed by “friendly” fire. Our government, our Prime Minister himself, assured Canadians that the troops were only in Iraq to train, not to fight. A while back, we heard about Canadian soldiers firing back in self-defense (twice) and still the PM insisted that there would be no Canadian soldiers fighting. Now we have a dead soldier. Will the PM say that the Canadians aren’t fighting? I’m really fed up with this war mongering that Harper thinks will get him a few dozen votes from those who get a charge out of killing. I wonder how many bodies we will have to count from Iraq just as we counted weekly bodies coming back (out of the public view) from Afghanistan.

    Our PM’s motto: war and fear will get you elected now that the economy is in the (oil) toilet!

    1. susan the other

      I’m prolly wrong on this, but I think the Canadian troops are deployed in the northern part of Iraq, and now “re-taking” Tikrit from the dreaded ISIS who somehow “took” it from the hapless Kurds a month ago. Our brave troops are edging ever closer to the conjunction of Teheran and Dagestan, which is prolly the land the Kurds are determined to protect and claim. Friendly fire? Or weasel fire?

      1. susan the other

        Here’s the deal. Russia has vast resources which it guards jealously as would any nation. And has done so to the consternation of the capitalist fascists (now financialists) for 100 years and counting. Vicki has patriotically volunteered to be a high-profile member of the A-team to try to get some oil and maybe some stuff like rare earth minerals for us; maybe a nice new bread basket. But it will take a bloody war. Vicki’s OK with all that because she is really brave, like, she doesn’t even care.

    1. lee

      “And the thing is, these neocons have a point. Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq war; supported sending arms to Syrian rebels; likened Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, to Adolf Hitler; wholeheartedly backs Israel; and stresses the importance of promoting democracy.

      It’s easy to imagine Mrs. Clinton’s making room for the neocons in her administration. No one could charge her with being weak on national security with the likes of Robert Kagan on board.”

      1. cwaltz

        Clinton’s foreign policy is exactly why I won’t be supporting her in 2016 no matter what.

  10. optimader

    “It’s extremely important that the case doesn’t just stop with the shooters, whether they are the real killers or not,” he added. “The key task is to find and detain those who ordered it.”

    lol that

    “Anzor, Zuar.. you remember dat thing we took care of for you when you were arrested?
    Well we got a little thing for you to take care of for us. Your kids are really grown’in up nice eh? you must be real proud of ’em?
    Maybe we give you a haircut first, eh? No, don’t worry we’ll clean up the mess. So, whadda think of dis Makarov? Go ahead, pick it up, nice balance, eh?”

  11. Christophe

    “Train carrying crude oil derails near Gogama, Ont. CBC. This does seem to keep happening.”

    So many oil trains derailing in such a short period of time. One might even think it was planned. The tracks may be icy, but I haven’t heard of any non-oil trains derailing over the same time period. Odd, that.

    Did the Keystone pipeline need a surge of popular support to become a reality? It’s a shoe in, as no one wants their kids incinerated in a crude oil fireball.

  12. susan the other

    About the antidote. Love potguts. Our distant ancestors. I think I recognize those guys from a previous family portrait. And just to remind everyone, they have a very structured social organization and they have a vocabulary to at least match crows who are very verbal.

  13. susan the other

    I thought Wolf Street misrepresented Varoufakis words, mixing up “banks” which probably originally referred to Deutsche and the French banksters, for Wolf Street’s preferred “Greek banks” (not that the Greek banksters are paragons of virtue, but let’s not have a double standard either, OK?). One thing we have all learned in the late 20th C. is that if you make something illegal, profiteers will flourish. Just as illegal marijuana made drug dealers rich, illegal sovereign money makes banks rich. That should be the topic of Wolf Street’s next little fudgie coverup.

  14. Optimader

    Exclusive: Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 a year

    Avoid the whole cost analysis….at all cost. So if it is conceded the baaken crude is too unsafe to transport due the high vapor pressure fractions, the cost to strip them out before transportation needs to be built into the $/bbl. justification. That will require enough carnage to move the perception of the public to demand policy change. I expect we’re talking alot of carnage.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Apes…irrational economic decisions.

    Being economically irrational does not preclude one from being say, emotionally, environmentally, morally or socially, rational.

    The world is bigger than just economics.

    1. skippy

      The word – rational – is loaded…

      Skippy… So the question is… who loads it and then who pulls the trigger….

    2. OIFVet

      Economists are yet to understand that extreme rationality is extremely irrational in real life.

      1. skippy

        Yet some schools of economics actually state that their – certified / credentialed members – are the only ones which can actually – think rationally – and as such…. all others are irrational.

        Skippy…. when rationalization is a factor of funding thingy… barf~~~~

  16. Chris in Paris

    Wrt the big decline in golfers, seems pretty clear that a game that requires lots of free time and disposable income is going to lose participants in this cracked world we’re in. My clubs have been in my closet unused since 2010. Just an individual case, probably not a correlation.

  17. frosty zoom

    Train carrying crude oil derails near Gogama, Ont. CBC. This does seem to keep happening.

    indeed, it does:

    It was the fourth CN train derailment in Northern Ontario in 2015, and the second near Gogama in only three weeks.

    On Feb. 14 a CN derailment released one million litres of crude oil about 37 kilometres from the site of the March 7 derailment.
    “CN said on Twitter Gogama’s drinking water supply was not adversely impacted by the derailment.

    But the Sudbury and District Health Unit said people who draw their water from Minisinakwa Lake should exercise caution.”

  18. LifelongLib

    The Salon article on the middle class says that it was greater Congressional openness after Watergate that contributed to the rise of special-interest lobbyists, by giving them ways of influencing legislation. The old secretive committee system produced legislation more favorable to the average American. I have the same impression of the party convention system, that it brought forward better presidential candidates than today’s primaries do. In nominally more democratic processes, most citizens lack the organization and skill to fully participate, leaving the field to special interests.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Also public funding of primary elections constitutes a vast subsidy to the D and R parties, which locks in their duopoly. Let parties run primaries at their own expense.

      1. hunkerdown

        Noooooo. Parties should be hung, drawn, quartered and burning in hell, not given the benefit of the doubt as to their clear lack (at best) of public benefit. “Conspiracies against the common rule” — which, if you think about it, are the primary purposes behind the “freedom to contract” that is such a glibertarian rallying point, the perverse redefinition of representation by trophy instead of policy outcomes, and the pathologization of anti-authoritarianism as “oppositional-defiant disorder” and “vigilantism” — are far worse than just stealing a few horses, and ought to be subject to the exact same sort of popular veto.

  19. Jill

    Dreamer: Bush is correct. This is exactly like a dictator, Latin American or otherwise. No one should support the imperial presidency, the rule of fiat. What a president giveth, so may he taketh away. We have a Constitution which gives the responsibility for making laws to the congress.

    You may personally like/benefit from what a certain president does. If you support the rule of fiat, this means that you give consent to what any president does, even when you don’t like it and don’t benefit from it. That’s one reason why every person should fight for the return of the rule of law, not support presidential fiat. Democrats are really stupid about that now that “their” guy is in power. Republicans were really stupid about that when “their” guy was in power. Citizens need to stop being stupid!

  20. JTFaraday

    re: “City-run Internet services still in limbo after FCC vote,” Center for Public Integrity. “If the Internet is regulated like a public utility, then it makes sense for municipalities to run it, right?”

    Isn’t that just like asking for the Jefferson County sewer disaster? Then they can turn it into Ferguson to collect “the taxes” to pay the banks.

    If it isn’t one thing, it’s ten others.

  21. Santi

    It is nice to see the there are reports about the Gürtel affair, the biggest corruption case unveiled in Spain, where the Spanish ruling party is being processed, without any relevant political responsibility accepted.

    The very same Mariano Rajoy that lectures Syriza in the newspaper is documented as having received substantial black money envelopes with payments from the “B” accounting of the party in the Barcenas affair. In Spain people jokes that “dimitir es un nombre ruso” (literally “resign is a Russian name”, i.e. nobody knows the meaning of “resign”), so it is unlikely that we see significant movements until we are able to get rid of them before the end of this year.

  22. participant-observer-observed

    RE public internet, Gar AlperovitzThomas M. Hanna’s piece for Yes! Magazine explains:

    Just before his State of the Union address last month, President Obama showed up in the small city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, to highlight the work of Cedar Falls Utilities, a publicly owned utility that operates an Internet network in the city. Cedar Falls has one of the oldest community-owned networks in the country and, with recent upgrades, is now one of the fastest. In addition to having higher-speed connections than neighboring communities in Iowa, the publicly owned network’s more than 11,000 subscribers pay around $200 less per year.

    While in Cedar Falls the President stated his opposition to the spread of corporate-backed state laws banning local communities from operating their own networks. An accompanying White House report highlighted several community broadband success stories, including efforts in Chattanooga, Tenn., Wilson, N.C., and Lafayette, La.—all of which further document the possibilities of a forward-looking community broadband strategy.

    Now, anyone out there fighting the TPP (E & W versions) and fast track, or looking to fight the never-ending Comcast lawsuits, here you have it: the left hand giveth while right taketh away, so don’t delay to paralyze that right hand NOW with diversions, distractions, and frontal assaults (NY anti-fracking style)!

  23. bob

    “FOUND: Ferguson Mayor bragged about privatized law enforcement services months before Brown shooting Mark Ames, Pando Daily. Excellent catch on economic violence.”

    I’ve always wondered about the reporting on that stuff. How long until a fine that can’t be paid, isn’t paid, and is “written off”?

    These “privatization” numbers where they “save” money or “increase revenue” could just be book keeping fraud.

    Paper “profits” for issuing more paper. Nothing at all backing them up. Blood from a stone- But we’re making money!

  24. OIFVet

    Jean-Claude Juncker calls for EU army:

    The European Union needs its own army to help address the problem that it is not “taken entirely seriously” as an international force, the president of the European commission has said.

    Jean-Claude Juncker said such a move would help the EU to persuade Russia that it was serious about defending its values in the face of the threat posed by Moscow.

    Sure bud, today it is Russia that’s undermining the so-called European values of the Eurocracy in Brussels. Tomorrow it will be Greece that the EU Army will be sent to defend against the undermining of the “austerity values”. Or against Hungary for undermining the “relinquish your national sovereignty” values. The Eurocracy is full of clowns, but this one is simply inimitable.

  25. GuyFawkesLives

    America didn’t ‘fall out of love with golf,’ America just doesn’t have any fucking money.

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