Links 4/12/15

Coral-killers The Economist

France widens HSBC Swiss bank inquiry to global holding company Guardian

Risky Moves in the Game of Life Insurance NYT. It could be my bearish imagination, but there seems to have been an uptick in this sort of story; as if the powers that be hear footsteps behind them. Readers?

Questioning the Seaworthiness of Bond Funds NYT. As above.

What Causes Recessions? Noah Smith, Bloomberg. As above.

A painful way to abolish boom and bust FT. As above.

Mark Blyth–Banks, Jean-Claude and Two Tales about the Euro YouTube

Citi Economist Says It Might Be Time to Abolish Cash Bloomberg

Man Fatally Shoots Himself Near U.S. Capitol; Lockdown Lifted ABC. Had a sign taped to his hand. “Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said the sign said something about social justice, but he did not reveal the exact language.”

Shooting at U.S. Capitol was a suicide, police say; lockdown has been lifted CNN. “A witness, Robert Bishop, told CNN [the sign] also said something about taxing the ‘1%.'” Moral: Post your selfie holding the sign first. Don’t rely on cops or reporters.


Hedge-Fund Magnate Robert Mercer Emerges as a Generous Backer of Cruz NYT. “It just takes a random billionaire to change a race and maybe change the country.” So awesome.

The Defining Moment, and Hillary Rodham Clinton Robert Reich

This is what a non-candidate Elizabeth Warren looks like for 2016 WaPo

Now Now Now Now Now Now Now Now Eschaton

Obama says Castro meeting a ‘turning point’ in US-Cuba relations BBC

East Asian influx slowly changes East Lansing Detroit News

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Visualization: US Police Have Killed More than 2,500 People Since 2011 KQED

Michael Slager Is Not Going to Prison for Killing Walter Scott: Here’s Why Daily Beast

National Bar Association wants second officer in Walter Scott shooting video fired, arrested Post and Courier. “[D]eliberately left material facts out of his report.”

Passengers on Metro bus asked to keep hands up during police search for suspect KMOV. The bus driver, too!

Q&A with DeRay McKesson ’07 Bowdoin Orient. #BlackLivesMatter activist.

The police can’t police themselves. And now the public is too scared to cooperate with them. WaPo

How Can We Restore Faith in Police? Slate. Get them out of their cars and make them walk the beat. And take away their guns.


Eurogroup wants Greece’s list of reforms by April 20: report Business Insider

Euro bank identifies risks in Greece anti-foreclosure law Jurist

Greek church offers up property to help Athens raise funds for debt AFR Weekend

Euro zone officials shocked by Greece’s stance: Germany’s FAS paper Reuters

Greece’s poor are back to where they were in 1980 WaPo

Shocking Video from Athens Polytechnic Riot Greek Reporter

Virtual Protest: Activists Launch Hologram Demo Against Spain’s New Anti-Protest Laws [Video] Inquisitr. Franco would have been proud of those laws. Attaboy, Rajoy.

Kiev Becomes First European Capital to Openly Glorify Criminal Ideology Sputnik. Well, except for Cameron’s London.

What’s Really Behind The War In Yemen? World Post

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

DEA sued over “suspicionless” mass surveillance of Americans’ phone records Naked Security

FTC to examine privacy issues with ‘cross-device tracking’ Arizona Republic

As encryption spreads, U.S. grapples with clash between privacy, security WaPo

Fake NYPD Badges available for sale on dark web Security Affairs

A War Well Lost Sam Harris

My killer review of the Apple Watch Patrick Bateman, The Next Web

Class Warfare

Let Them Eat Privilege Jacobin

The 1 percent are parasites: Debunking the lies about free enterprise, trickle-down, capitalism and celebrity entrepreneurs Salon

Tech titans’ latest project: Defy death WaPo. Apparently, it takes less than a decade of free money to turn our elites into insane people.

Women are more likely to be physically assaulted in developed countries, study shows Science Daily

‘They,’ the Singular Pronoun, Gets Popular WSJ

Tracey Emin, Egon Schiele and the politics of the nude FT

Re: Our Relationship The Atlantic

The Moral Urgency of Anna Karenina Commentary

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

And now for something completely different: Chimpanzee takes down drone with a stick.

(I’m spacing out on who sent this in; whoever you are, take a bow!)

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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. Ned Ludd

    When Cops Cry Wolf

    In the old days police would carry a “drop gun” or a “drop knife”—an inexpensive weapon cops would bring along on patrol to drop onto or next to a suspect they had taken out so they could say he had threatened them. Today you don’t even need to do that; all you have to do to justify the use of deadly force if you are a police officer is to say that you feared for your life, for whatever reason. If the victim dies, that just means there will be one less witness around to contradict the testi-lie. […]

    If you think that what happened in North Charleston is a unique case, it is not. Only recently, in another case, a policewoman in Pennsylvania first Tasered a black man, then shot him twice in the back as he lay face down in the snow. She was chasing him for an expired parking sticker. There were five seconds between shots. She said she feared for her life.

    Frank Serpico

    1. James Levy

      Going out on a limb here because I’m angry, but here goes: why is bravery a disappearing virtue? Being brave, showing guts in the face of danger, used to be a badge of honor, of manhood (sorry about this virtue being gendered, but it was). Now, the ethos seems to be always “better safe than sorry.” Please do not tell me that “thus has it ever been.” For my father, uncle, and the men who fought in World War II, such displays of cowardice that we see time and again from the cops and today’s military would have been scorned as unworthy and unmanly. Is it all because so few of us experience dangerous situations that we simply haven’t got a clue how to appropriately respond to them? Do we no longer fear being branded cowards? Is it that we are no longer capable, in our me-centric universe, to even accuse anyone of cowardice? I was stunned at how many people on comment threads defended the Italian ship captain who skedaddled overboard rather than stay at his post–he was just looking after his own safety! The idea that a cop or a ship captain or a soldier on patrol in a civilian area is NOT supposed to be thinking of their own safety first appears to be alien to a large and growing percentage of the population.

      Any animal can kill. Men (and women) have the will and the ability to risk death for the safety of the community. That means putting your own safety well below the safety of others. This is an historically grounded, evolutionarily established practice. People have done it in the past. Why are we losing the capacity to do it in the present?

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        What the cops have become is a distilled example of what is really trickling down.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          And it’s not just a few bad apples. It’s a whole attitude that goes from top to bottom that actually sees nothing wrong with covering up everything no matter how heinous the crime.

      2. fresno dan

        It always strikes me that if these guys (i.e., police) are so fearful, than they are in the wrong profession.
        But they get away with it, because this society permits them too.
        The police shot two women in the Dorner case, who were of a different race, driving a different model truck, than the MALE suspect, and who the police claimed, that the sound of the falling newspapers the women were delivering resembled a gunshot.
        And not one of them was fired….

        I think one could put a plausible argument forward that today is worst than reconstruction or the 30’s, as the killing of blacks by authorities is de jure today, (it is added, abetted, and justified by the government) while previously it was merely de facto.
        I don’t know if the 2,500 number of killings by police referenced in another post is true, but it certainly strikes me as plausible, especially in light of the fact that until very, very recently it was NEVER even considered any kind of a problem.

      3. Calgacus

        Police are trained to behave that way. Better to have less or no training – or train them solely with reruns of the Andy Griffith Show – than the kind of training they get now, which is more proper to the training of an aggressive imperialist state’s armies of occupation.

      4. Lexington

        For my father, uncle, and the men who fought in World War II, such displays of cowardice that we see time and again from the cops and today’s military would have been scorned as unworthy and unmanly. Is it all because so few of us experience dangerous situations that we simply haven’t got a clue how to appropriately respond to them?

        This is a very interesting topic but unfortunately I only have the time to address it very briefly.

        First, attitudes toward masculinity have undergone a profound change. Chivalry really is dead, feminists buried it in the same grave as male chauvinism, for the two were always opposite sides of the same the coin.

        Second, the 20th century saw the almost complete delegitimization of traditional sources of authority. Science devoured God, nationalism stood accused of incubating some of the worst atrocities known to humanity, traditional forms of social organization were destroyed by urbanization and industrialization, habits of elite difference gave way to the triumph of egocentrism, in which each individual is the center of their own universe. Self sacrifice requires a belief is something larger than oneself, something important enough to forgo in at least some measure one’s one comfort, convenience and even safety. What would that something be today?

        Third, social mores changed. The individual became the basic unit of analysis, and it was understood that individual’s wants, interests, aspirations and values took absolute precedence over any rival claims. If self actualization is the highest good then making any demand that inhibits its realization was ipso facto immoral.

        Finally, ethical incompetence became normative, because it was naively assumed that “ethics” is something any right thinking person innately possesses, and therefore it does not need to be thought about, let alone discussed. The result was the triumph of situational ethics and moral relativism – any action is ethical as long as it accords with my own personal standards of conduct (Unless those standards include something like drowning puppies. Cause then you’re straight to the ninth circle of hell).

    2. neo-realist

      Many years ago, a transit cop told my father, an MTA employee, that if you have a bad shoot, put a piece right next to the victim.

      1. barrisj

        “The suspect (sic) reached into his waistband…”, (and I had to cap him); “The suspect (sic) made a threatening gesture…” (so I had to cap him); The suspect (sic) tried to grab my gun…” (so I had to cap him)…and on and on. The courts, DAs, defense attorneys, judges – everybody involved in the “criminal justice (sic) system” knows and accepts that cops lie, it’s rationalised as “the cost of doing business” sort of thing. Only with the advent of smartphones and small video cameras has the pervasiveness of the lies been brought into the public sphere, and one would surely think that the usual excuses to cover up police murder or serious injuries to “suspects” would be rigourously challenged during court hearings. Unfortunately, this is not the case (as yet, anyway), for too many vested interests still profit from the “system” as it now exists, and until a genuine and fundamental reboot of what constitutes “law and order” in the US is effected, only the most notorious cases of police misconduct will be prosecuted, and thousands of other instances occurring each year not having the benefit of instant video replay will quietly be disposed of in the usual manner.

  2. Disturbed Voter

    Citi economist … maybe it is time to abolish banking in general, or Citi in particular? We are told that the Amero, Bancor and SDR are conspiracy theories … and then the powers that be, go and do something, or say something, that reinforces the notion that it isn’t a conspiracy theory. Techno-triumphalists keep coming up with crazy ideas that the 1% can use in their nefarious plans … I can’t wait for a food-futurism booster to prove that Soylent Green is nutritious.

    OK, let’s consider this rationally. We could get rid of coins and notes … and just have government issued debit cards. And this could be privatized like Snap (food stamps) … with JP Morgan/Chase providing the actual cards (at a modest profit to themselves, say 4%). Basically this amounts to a replacement of the Federal Reserve, which charges the Treasury about 4% for its services, but the Federal Reserve today, has to give almost all of its profit back to the Treasury.

    Was the recent recession led Snap program a dry run, to put the entire US population on food stamps, except that in most cases, the government supplied balance on the card is zero, to be incremented by one’s employer instead? And like Snap, doesn’t this reverse the situation where the Federal Reserve has to return most of the profit to the Treasury … with JP Morgan/Chase getting to keep it, like the Federal Reserve did in times past? So for each one trillion dollars of GDP … JP Morgan/Chase will get 40 billion dollars?

    Of course having a complete computer record of every earning and purchase … couldn’t have negative consequences could it … not even considering the huge drain that JP Morgan/Chase would be on the entire economy?

    1. steviefinn

      Well here in Northern Ireland the black economy does very well, especially across the border with the Republic. I imagine that the above would lead to a system of barter, as seems to be happening in Greece & elsewhere. As for ‘ Boom, Bust ‘. Not much sign other than in the media of the Boom bit in these here parts – maybe because that has become the sole reserve of those sitting at the high table……Bust, screw, bust, repeat ad nauseum.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        Good luck with that. The Republic of Ireland has been a test-tube experiment of the City of London … as it was in prior centuries, even pioneering the plantation economy later used by the British West Indies Company and their equivalent on the N American mainland. One of the reasons, but not the only one, for getting rid of coins and currency … is to prevent the “little guy” from having any economic freedom. The Big Boys of course will continue with their piratical legerdemain on the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, the Bahamas and the Grand Caymans.

        When there is a great deflation, there is a rise in script … an alternative for Greece to run parallel to the Euro. This was done in post WW I Europe … in Germany and Austria. Script was also accompanied by un-offical token coin issues. This all happened, before the Great Inflation … which is how you get out of a deflation … unfortunately the cure is worse than the disease ;-(

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Barter before cash money.

      “I will scratch your caveman back if you will scratch my cavemen back. Deal?”

      “How do we pay each other? With money?”

      “What is that, money? We have been doing this without the whatever-that-is abomination , and shall remain unspoken (may the bear-spirit forgive you for what you just said) since our ancestors were chimps.”

      “You mean, no one can accumulate more ‘you need to scratch my back’ debt than anyone else, that we live in an equal clan?”

      “Not really. The alpha male, the one offering us clan-defense, our commander-of-the-clan chief, he can demand his back to scratched any time from anyone. He says he does that, not for himself, but to soak up excessive demand for back-scratching. It’s all for our own good.”

      1. Disturbed Voter

        Your clear eyed view of the basic principles of economics is encouraging. Government money was invented by King Croesus of Lydia, or his father … as a way to corner the trade in electrum (and eventually its purified golden form) … an early financial nationalization. Precious metals were used as barter in prior times, but it takes government to really mess barter up ;-)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          What’s more, sharing came before bartering.

          “I just saw a bunch of squirrels. Let’s go, hunters!”

          Sharing and cooperating…in the Jungle of Eden.

        2. susan the other

          So just wondering then. No doubt that money was backed by the thing it wanted, gold. That’s not a bad model. Not gold, of course, but something that is actually valuable. Like people and the environment. When money is backed by the thing it values most, MMT makes more sense than any other organizing principle. When Buiter describes the zero bound, the regulatory point at which money ceases to function, the point when negative interest rates make money under the mattress more valuable than in the system, the “zero bound” is when value is uncertain. So another question arises: What determines the value of electronic money? Old money? Money is created out of thin air because meaning is created out of thin air.

          1. susan the other

            and when money is backed by the thing it values, putting money into those things, aka investing, makes money worth exponentially more – it’s capitalism comrades

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Sharing should be valued most.

            “Just take that water. No money needs to be paid for the thirsty.”

            “Take it. Nature is abundant when we share.”

            1. Brooklin Bridge

              I love your thesis, but I’m not so sure about the squirrels in my back yard…

              Also, I absolutely love Canada Geese (I still call them “Canadian Geese”, but I’m not supposed to). I marvel at the way they raise their young and the way they fly in formation just to name a couple of things. But when in groups on the ground, you should see them fight over food. They seem to get more pleasure if no one can eat than if a bloke two inches away can get a single bill full. Granted, not all the time, but still the food fights happen.

    3. susan the other

      In order to abolish cash and go to digital the entire country, even world, has to accept and use digital. This could be done on a card that everyone used which recorded credits and debits, just for the purpose of cooperation. Maybe some agreement that there are limits to your spending. The genius part of this change would be that we clearly do not need banks and they can just shuffle off. The puzzling part is that digital transactions will be hard to value. And if digital value is controlled like currency, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. If digital is regulated by supply and interest rates, it will be same old. If digital is merely a device for exchange of goods and services and does nothing more than run an eternal tab, then it might work. One question is, how does digital control greed and fraud?

    4. different clue

      As long as physical coins and bills (notes) exist, people will use them, deeply underground in the Blackest Market if necessary. The more bills and coins that tens of millions of people begin saving up now, the more ‘liquid’ (did I use that word right) the Deepest Undergroundest Blackest markets will be in the “cash is forbidden” future.

    1. Paul Tioxon

      More on crude by rail. This is a big local story for the people who stare at the tanker cars rumbling through their communities. Taken all together, it’s a huge national story. A lot of the tight oil is first refined into gasoline or in the case of the Delta Airlines owned and operate Philly refinery, into jet fuel. The gasoline is then exported. Storage of crude won’t be a problem because the value added refinery industry makes the export profits that the raw material drilling industry supplies at a bargain due to legal prohibitions against reaching higher priced foreign refineries. Gasoline exports are at an all time high. Crude glut will continue due to safety valve of American refineries using it for feed stock that is then exported as refined products.

      1. frosty zoom

        you must take the oil train,
        to go to sugar hill way up in houston.

        if you miss the oil train,
        you’ll find you’ve miss the quickest way to meltdown.

        hurry, get on, now, warren buffet’s smiling,
        listen to those rails of denialing.

        get on the oil train,
        soon you’ll be on your way up to kingdom come.


        with many apologies the mr. strayhorn (pbuh)

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I too especially enjoyed the piece on Anna Karenina. I’ve never read the book but after reading this review it’s on my list.

      As I finished the review I received a strange idea. The reviewer should write a script for an Indie movie based on Anna but placed in the present time or recent past (to save $$$$$ on costumes and sets). Besides changes in time and place (and avoiding the numerous names and nicknames for each character which Russian novelists seem to love) the script would focus on the lives of the characters this critic identified as the true heroes of the story. The screenplay would draw out the insights of this fine critical analysis of Anna Karenina.

      1. Santi

        In a sense Wim Wenders/Peter Handke complain about the same “Happy people have no history” in Wings of Desire, in the Epic of Peace scene in the Berlin Library:

        My heroes are no longer the warriors and kings, but the things of peace, equal one to the other. The drying onions being equal to the tree trunk crossing the marsh. But no one has so far succeeded in singing an epic of peace. What is wrong with peace that its inspiration doesn’t endure and that it is almost untellable?

  3. Bill the Psychologist

    Ah, Paris, and Dior’s The New Look, with those awful long skirts…….I remember it well, and also how much I disliked it. It was the Post War reaction to the shorter skirts women had to wear due to material shortages during the War, and it defines for me the ugliness of the 50s.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What women want to be conditioned to wear on themselves is their business, I have been ‘educated.’

      ‘You look lovely with that tattoo.’

    2. Carla

      @Bill the Psychologist: But don’t forget, the reaction to the long skirts of the ’50s was the (possibly even less attractive) 14″ long miniskirt of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

  4. Ned Ludd

    Singular they is useful and practical. It does not decrease the expressiveness of the English language. It does introduce ambiguity, which you need to resolve by the context. I find singular they preferable to the alternatives.

    That said, grammarians decision to allow singular they because it appeared “in the work of writers from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Jane Austen” sounds suspiciously like argumentum ad verecundiam. If it was only hoi polloi – and not literary celebrities – who used singular they for seven centuries, grammarians would likely insist everyone stick to clunky alternatives like “he/she” or “s/he” – or use one of their bizarre academic inventions, like “thon”, “xe”, and “ze”.

    Now, to get rid of the ugly hyphen in “e-mail”, we apparently need to find “email” used in the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, or Jane Austen.


    Re Life Insurance Rumblings: I attribute the discourse momentum to the amount of analysis that is being done worldwide as the EU struggles with implementing the new Single Resolution Mechanism. What becomes increasingly clear as one studies insurance company failures is that the vast majority happen in an up interest rate cycle. Since we have had a down rate cycle for 30+ years, insurance co managements literally do not know how their assets & liabilities will reprice when rates do rise. Failures yes, policyholders burnt, yes, systemic contagion to other parts of the system, unknown. The vast majority of bond traders alive have never had to take a capital loss, what happens when they do ?

    1. EmilianoZ

      Truffaut once called Tati “laborieux”. Jacques Tati is the French Buster Keaton. More Ingenious than funny.

      1. Mel

        Les Vacances de M.Hulot does chug along. You know it will end some day. And cutesy and sentimental. I do like Mon Oncle, and Playtime (esp. if it doesn’t have the useless American dialog track trowelled on.) And there’s one about a little company struggling to get to an Amsterdam auto show with its flagship product — camper van conversions based on Austin Minis; very Bob & Ray, really.

        1. optimader

          ugh, moderation purgatory, w/ the youtube link rmvd…

          April 12, 2015 at 9:42 pm
          Your comment is awaiting moderation.
          Truffant’s body of work speaks for itself, also an excellent actor director

          Bed and Board (Domicile Conjugal) –>youtube
          Truffaut pays homage to Jacques Tati: Antoine Doinel meets Mr. Hulot

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Risky Moves in the Game of Life Insurance NYT.


    Certainly no surprise to see Goldman Sachs involved here by way of Bermuda. No scam gets past them.

    I guess we’re gonna need a program where every american is required by law to buy some sort of life “insurance” policy. It could be enforced by the IRS, and lower income americans could have their premiums subsidized by taxpayers, so the “bailout” is a little less obvious. Bronze, silver, gold and platinum levels, or something like that might work…… Since social security is going broke and all.

    “Footsteps.” Maybe so.

    I have recently begun seeing ads on TV for “selling” life insurance policies that are “no longer needed.” Older people whose children are out of the house claim to have been paying on the policy “all these years,” and now no longer have a “need” to wait for the payout.

    I’d imagine if “investors” bought a lot of these policies, it would be a whole lot harder to refuse a bailout to insurance companies when the whole thing collapses. Sanctity of “contracts” doncha know.

    1. sd

      Prudential ran a scam back in the 1980s that almost bankrupted the company, landed itself in very serious legal trouble, resulting in a massive class action that was at the time one of the largest ever awarded. I, of course, attempting financial responsibility, had one of those policies. Learned my lesson and won’t touch life insurance today.

      Needless to say, this article comes as no suprise. More evidence American companies are failing.

    2. craazyboy

      Berstanke used the example of old people on fixed income annuities as one of the reasons they had to bail out AIG.

      On the topic of do you get a good deal out insurance companies on either investment products like annuities, or emotional consumer products like life insurance, I think most financial advisors say nay on the annuities, and “it depends” on the life insurance. Of course the last person to listen to is a life insurance salesman.

      But there is a huge biz insurance part of the economy, and re-insurance to spread the risk around (this is called risk-management by insurance folk) – and if that breaks, it’s a systemic problem too. (some folks screwed Goldman)

      1. craazyboy

        The article talks about how they are getting around independent re-insurance…

        “Here is how captive reinsurance works: A life insurer sells policies, creating long-term obligations. Then it packages the obligations and puts them into a wholly owned subsidiary, called a captive. The captive is said to have reinsured the obligations, meaning that it now has the duty to pay the future claims. The parent is no longer responsible for payment and no longer has to keep all those low-yielding bonds on hand to satisfy the liabilities.”

        Sounds like “off balance sheet vehicles” once again. Once again the regulators are ok with it, sorta.

  7. SoCal Rhino

    re life insurance

    I wonder if this isn’t more the product of demutualization. Does pricing Of bonds matter that much when you hold long term bonds to maturity to pay long lived liabilities? Don’t think so, but do think the game changed for the Prudentials when they moved to the corporate model to “improve access to capital.” That and the increasingly fragile whole life business model that they’ve been looking at for at least 20 years.

    1. Chris in Paris

      And the insurance commissioners who went along with it are truly guilty parties. Commissioners could have stopped demutualizations by supporting policyholders who brought derivative suits in the late 90s but instead just allowed the insurance companies to rewrite the insurance codes. And here we are.

    2. susan the other

      Starvation by malnutrition. Starving for capital even though it takes ever more of it to nourish the economy. Kinda like the dilemma of the starfish. They are turning to goo, going bankrupt by extinction, because their systems have failed. And sea urchins too. Enter the Crown of Thorns, a spiney starfish, that eats coral. If the Crown of Thorns is eating up the Great Barrier Reef, it must be seriously hungry. For calcium. In an acidic ocean. Oceans of capital. etc.

  8. ohmyheck

    My Outrage du Jour- “Left for dead? US govt refuses to evacuate 1,000s of Americans from Yemen”

    That guy from the State Dept. is a disgusting excuse for a human being. But then human beings won’t be found in government these days, not after the Psychopath Coup. What year was that again?

    I’ll go see if there is a petition to raise hell with the State Dept. about this.

    And even worse, the US Government is supplying the weapons and support to actually murder its own citizens that it has abandoned. How low can ya go?!

    1. quixote

      Did you know that Somalia, Somalia, which supposedly has no functional government, got its citizens out two weeks ago?

      And to think I used to worry about the US becoming Third World-y. It never occurred to me then that it might be an improvement!

  9. TarheelDem

    Eliminate cash = privatize the money supply

    That forces everyone into a bank account, which has computer security implications. And becomes an argument for eliminating central banks, which might be a good argument except that the replacement is likely to be the megabanks. What could go wrong with that?

    That was the monetary system several times during history. It seems not to work for the same reason that most money and credit systems don’t work. Gaming the system eventually causes it to collapse. We are eight years beyond the latest collapse without a sound replacement system.

    Somehow eliminating currency seems pretty small-bore a proposal for that replacement and most likely is a camel’s nose.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      You are correct about the dangers … not only is computer security an issue, but insider abuse is so much easier if you have the password to the magic spreadsheet. This isn’t a camel’s nose … but a camel’s arse … but then fiat currency is already so much camel dung.

    2. Benedict@Large

      Eliminating hard currency might just be the “step too far” that breaks the trust in the dollar. People suggesting this are cloistered fools.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        I think that human adjustment to cognitive dissonance says … if you change something gradually enough people accept the change no matter what it is. The general view at least in advanced societies … is that things have gotten so bad … everyone has turned on each other … please throw him under the bus, as long as you don’t throw me under the bus. Scapegoats and sacrificial lambs are the order of the day (at least in Easter season).

        The theory on the street says … that the dollar is the least dirty shirt … at least until we get a gold backed renminbi. The new Shanghai precious metals exchange, to replace the LBMA and Comex … is just starting. One of several venues to make renminbi free trading possible, independent of loose pegging to the US dollar … and to make it the new international trading currency.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          They like their renminbi to be cheap for now.

          Perhaps another day, when they are ready and prepared, it will be backed by gold.

          1. frosty zoom

            gold, schmold. the externalized costs of cyanide/arsenic laden tailings effectively reduces the value of the stuff to zero.

            we need one forest-backed currency for the entire planet and soon.

            1. Disturbed Voter

              A wonderful idea … bravo! Nearly extinct animal species should be treated as precious gems … that you can actually breed more of, once the ecosystem is improved. Lao Tzu would approve.

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


              Instead, we have a nuclear-violence backed global currency, after having gotten rid of the one age-old thing thieving politicians thought would restrain a hegemon’s reckless monetary aggression.

  10. craazyboy

    “Risky Moves in the Game of Life Insurance NYT”

    Ya. Apparently the Fed wants Insurance companies to adopt the AIG model. Grow some ‘nads and take a little risk investing in failing Vegas casinos so we can get this economy growing again!

    But I’m glad some Very Serious People are putting some of these little concerns and anecdotes into the public discourse. That way it’s not only just a few unsophisticated craazy savers moaning about QE and ZIRP – and the real problem is we just don’t understand how to invest our little nest egg gooder enough.

  11. Vatch

    Here’s a good example of the “He said WHAT!?” genre of foot-in-mouth disease:

    “Walmart and its IT contractors are driving down standards in the tech industry in the U.S. by using H-1Bs visas excessively to keep costs low. Walmart is among the companies seeking an increase in the H-1B cap,” commented Greg Penner, the vice chairman of the Walmart board of directors.

    Efforts are being initiated by Congress to raise the H-1B visa cap and also restricting its use by offshore outsourcing firms.

    So H-1B visas lower standards, and Walmart’s vice chairman wants to increase the use of the standards lowering visas. Huh. Norm Matloff briefly discusses this at:

    This of course is exactly what I’ve been warning about: The unwarranted focus on the IT service firms, oblivious to the industrywide nature of the abuse, will be used as an excuse to INCREASE the H-1B cap (and to create additional H-1B workaround visa programs, such as automatic green cards for foreign students, extension of the OPT period and so on).

    In other words, American executives think that H-1B visas are only bad when they’re used by foreign companies. They’re perfectly fine when American companies use them.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      They are also getting ready on how best to eliminate debit cards … because futurism. I think it involves a chip that can’t be removed. This is also necessary to identify all users of the Internet … because terrorism.

      It is normal human behavior, to like some people’s behavior, and dislike other people’s behavior. Most people include themselves … coincidentally, in the first category. This is a “shifting the blame” strategy of … a conscientious predator, as well as the camouflage used by certain kinds of wolves.

      Unfortunately the 1% are not a different species from the 99%, they merely are more successful … there is not only a crown predator in a given ecosystem, but also crown predators within a given species of crown predator.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Once they get all our money on cards…. Oh, heck. What’s the use? What could go wrong?

      Oops, I forgot the privatizing seignorage thing. They’ve got so much, but they want it all.

    3. sd

      Hmmm. A case of Barry Ritholz Magazine Cover Indicator – meaning time to stuff cash under the mattress?

  12. Vatch

    Thanks for the article “Coral Killers”. The crown of thorns starfish isn’t the only danger for coral reefs, which are threatened in many ways, both natural and man-made. The importance of coral reefs is summarized by this quote from the Wikipedia article on coral reefs:

    Often called “rainforests of the sea”, shallow coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. They occupy less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean surface, about half the area of France, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species,[1][2][3][4] including fish, mollusks, worms, crustaceans, echinoderms, sponges, tunicates and other cnidarians.

    Among the more odious threats to reefs is the deliberate dumping of mine tailings (waste) on the reefs, in addition to the inadvertent runoff of pollutants. This is mentioned in this 26 page article (22 pages + references) about the status of coral reefs. Cyanide fishing also damages reefs. That’s right, cyanide fishing.

    Here’s a shorter article with some of the same information:

  13. Vatch

    “The 1 percent are parasites” is a good article with a bad title. There are many one percenters who perform valuable services, and who deserve to be well paid. Not all of them are good, obviously, and perhaps only a minority of them deserve respect. But I think that the decent minority of the economic top 1 percent is a non-trivial number of people. The problem is the top 0.01% (very probably also the top 0.1%). I guess the phrase “the top 1 percent” is a lot easer to say than “the top 0.01 percent”.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How can the 0.01% become stealth?

      Invisible cloak?

      No, by hiding beyond the 1% or the 20%. From Marketwatch today: Top 20% pay more than 80% of Income Taxes.

      Tax the rich – the rich being anyone making over $100K,t $200K or $250K a year. If you need to raise $500 billion, by including these guys, the 0.01% take a lesser hit. The concept (or fantasy rather, as it will never come to pass – taxes destroy money, bad with disinflation/deflation) is called ”pain sharing.”

      1. Vatch

        Exactly. By including the lower segment of the top 1%, the 0.01% aren’t taxed or regulated at a high enough level.

        There are many people who imagine themselves one day becoming part of the top 1% (in most cases, an unrealistic fantasy, but people continue to hope). They don’t want the rug pulled out from under them just when they finally make it big. If we are serious about convincing people about how bad inequality has become, we need to emphasize the 0.01%, not the 1%. Rightly or wrongly (mostly wrongly), many 99 percenters are able to identify with the 1%. They don’t identify with the 0.01%.

        1. Carla

          “Rightly or wrongly (mostly wrongly), many 99 percenters are able to identify with the 1%. They don’t identify with the 0.01%.”

          I think this is more the case: the top 0.99% completely identify with the top 0.01%. And then the top 2% totally identify with the top 0.50%. And the top 10% identify pretty neatly with the top 1%.

          And from 89% on down, in varying and increasing degrees, we’re way too involved with surviving on a daily basis for any of that shit to matter.

      2. optimader

        Tax the rich – the rich being anyone making over $100K,t $200K or $250K a year. If you need to raise $500 billion, by including these guys, the 0.01% take a lesser hit.

        exactly.. the 1% BS is for the innumerate. Work on the asymptotic part of the wealth curve if you want to accomplish some productive societal/economic reform.

    2. hunkerdown

      Then they’d better give away all their wealth and start walking like the rest of us.

      There are only useful 1%ers if you have sworn a vow of allegiance to the system. I wish you’d at least mention that when you genuflect toward the Establishment. :)

      1. Vatch

        Some one percenters perform useful tasks as physicians, inventors, or in various creative endeavors. I do not include financiers, overpaid CEOs, their lawyers, or their lobbyists among the useful one percenters.

      1. Carla

        Well, I agree. It should have said the TOP 1 percent are parasites. Let there be no doubt. And they’re not the only ones: any of us who is doing in any respect okay in this economy is doing so at the expense at those who earn and have less.

        1. optimader

          the TOP 1 percent are parasites.
          Yes and in the hypothetically perfect innumerate world a Starbucks barista will be your oncologist because all skills and wages are equal, right?

  14. Kyle

    “…who deserve to be well paid.”

    Hmmm! By what reaching rationale do the 1% assert their one hour of labor is worth 5-6 times that of common labor? Certainly one might condone the reasonable expectation of just compensation for the education required. But even that becomes somewhat dubious when positions give the appearance of being handed out based upon membership in “hotsy-totsy clubs” as opposed to any real enhanced marginal utility over and above that of a common organizational manager. Thus the parasite description may well be more than justly deserved.

      1. Vatch

        The minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (I think). Multiply that by 500, and it becomes $3625.00 per hour. Multiply that by 40 hours per week by 52 weeks per year, and we reach an annual salary of $7.54 million, which is vastly higher than the annual income of the people in the bottom of the top 1%. To be in the top 1% by income, one needs to have an income of about $350,000 to $400,000 per year.

        The people in the bottom of the top 1% aren’t necessarily the enemy, although some of them are foolishly loyal to the 0.01%.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          If I might embellish on your observations — it’s not just the income — it’s the power that comes with that income. After a certain point, a point we’re well past, consumption is less important than the power that money accrues. Income per se may purchase many fancies for consumption but there is a point we passed long long ago when our wealthy had surfeit of all the consumption they could consume. The remainder went into power and control over others, even beyond that growing power employers wield over their workers. The lust for power is Evil beyond any Evils of consumption.

          1. Vatch

            Yes, you’re absolutely correct. That’s why I prefer to focus on the top 0.01%, rather than on the top 1%. Most people in the top 1% don’t have much more power than the rest of us, they just have more creature comforts. Sure, they’re a lot less likely to be shot by a police officer or to become homeless, but they don’t have the ability to significantly influence major elections. Among today’s links, there’s this item:

            Hedge-Fund Magnate Robert Mercer Emerges as a Generous Backer of Cruz NYT. “It just takes a random billionaire to change a race and maybe change the country.” So awesome.

            That hedge fund magnate isn’t just a 1%er. He isn’t even just a 0.01%er. He’s more like a 0.001%er. I don’t think he’s quite a billionaire, but he is almost certainly a hecto-millionaire. That’s the sort of wealth accumulation that we need to fight.

            1. optimader

              The (pick a number ~0.01% ?) wealth not earnings population are the closed loop multigenerational asset aggregators (from capital gains) that have the resources to game the system.
              The perpetual droll bashing of “the 1%” wage earners is not particularly well focused if the purpose is to effect change to a more sensible and sustainable society.

              1. different clue

                But putting the spotlight on modestly successful dentists is a fine way
                to keep the cameras off of wildly powerful FIRE sector operators, for example.

    1. LifelongLib

      If you look at top salaries in science and engineering (fields that require a lot of education and training but aren’t in a good position to manipulate the financial system) they’re maybe 20 times minimum wage. This is probably the actual difference that education and training make. Differences of 100s of times arise from something else.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I take a small exception with your comment — you would seem to suggest there is some rational explanation or some common rationale for relative levels of pay in our economy. I agree with your assertions about 20x minimum as a reasonable maximum ratio for any rationale arguing for one person to receive higher pay than another. However, I question the existing rationale and custom behind any differences in pay — and let me qualify this by stating up front I have no objection to differences in the level of pay for different jobs or experience or ability — up to the ~20x number you proposed. I have a problem with the existing rationales. For example, the work I did until recently never got my hands dirty or wearied me past mental fatigue. I required education, experience and demonstrated capability to perform my job but at the end-of-the-day I’m do not feel entirely comfortable that my relatively greater income was truly “fair” or “Just” [– and of course I have no intention of returning that portion of my pay which I might discover were unjustly or unfairly placed into my hands].

  15. susan the other

    I really felt like I had an epiphany reading Sputnik’s article on the legitimization of the Ukranian Nazis. They are eligible for social security for their “work”. They are the vanguard of the new nation of the Ukraine, just itching to become. So I thought there is an old pattern here. The rise of neo nazis all across the EU is kept in check, except where it is needed to eliminate socialism starting in the weaker countries. And Ukraine is economically desperate. Then there is all that money George Soros poured into Ukraine to jump start it for his own gain. And David Cameron panicked when we failed to send deadly weapons to the Ukrainian nazis, and sent off a platoon of UK special forces. Which haven’t been heard from since. One problem is the Ukraine is so factionalized it officially hates everyone. Funny. But if this is a pre-planned political move to shore up the EU by encouraging all the various nazis to go to Ukraine, could this politics extend to Greece? Cause the EU seems intent on achieving a reactionary government in Greece overthrowing Syriza

    1. Santi

      I had also an epiphany, specially as I had just read about Natalie Jaresko, the FinMin, having been a former employee of the Department of State…

      I got sightings of “The Quiet American”, mixed metaphors and suddenly felt that a new Palestine is being created to deal with the natural gas flows into Europe…

  16. frosty zoom


    the word “police” appears 7 times in the links, yet only 3 times in the comments (where there is a far greater number of words).

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Yes, it is interesting. I think perhaps the police have reached a low so low we expect little from them and fear their interventions. Like the dogs in “Animal Farm”, they serve only the interests of those animals more equal than others. Not much left to comment on after arriving at that conclusion.

      1. frosty zoom

        excellent. i was worried the ol’ “we’re watching you” was making people skittish.

  17. Oregoncharles

    A passage in the Robert Reich article verges on shocking:

    “Some wonder about the strength of her values and ideals. I don’t. I’ve known her since she was 19 years old, and have no doubt where her heart is. For her entire career she’s been deeply committed to equal opportunity and upward mobility. ”

    This is delusional; it flies in the face of her entire record – much of which Reich participated in. Apparently she’s been telling ol’ Uncle Bob exactly what he wanted to hear for over 40 years. Worse yet, he bought it, hook, line, and sinker. Is he really that clueless – or just that besotted with Hillary? Does his wife know about this?

    All that in service of one of the worst Dembot excuses: that they’re just “afraid” to speak out. What would they be “afraid” of? Oh, yeah: their big-time funders. The money guys – and the Dems now get as much as the Repubs, or more. Obama got a LOT more, and Hilary’s planning on raising 2.5 billion. They aren’t “spineless;” they’re corrupt, beyond redemption, and in his heart of hearts, poor Bob knows it.

    It’s also a good example of another sad theme: liberal pundits pretending to “advise” the Democrats like Clinton II. Bob, she has plenty of money; if she wanted your advice, she’d pay you for it. If she cared, she’d stop lying to you. And you should stop lying to yourself.

    1. Carla

      Ole’ Uncle Bob has been telling HIMSELF exactly what he wanted to hear. That’s obvious to anybody who’s been listening to him for awhile. No need to blame Hillary for that. To cut the guy a pinch of slack, it’s only what all the elite do, every bloody day.

    2. optimader

      I’ve known her since she was 19 years old, and have no doubt where her heart is
      Strange, isn’t that usually followed by something along the lines of: “… and I am sure we can all agree her many efforts have had an incalculable impact on us all. As you may have heard by now, she has chosen to resign to spend more time with her family, I am sure everyone joins me with all the best wishes to her and her family”

  18. Oregoncharles

    How Can We Restore Faith in Police? Slate –

    Set up a powerful, truly independent enforcement mechanism, and throw a bunch of them in prison.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      That would do the trick! For banksters too. So elegantly simple, so incredibly effective. And so many light years away from actually happening.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      We might “bell the cat” but in lieu of that I believe we have a very real need for our Police departments, a need they are not filling and a need they poorly are poorly able to fill.

      When I was a kid, we had a Civil Defense of sorts — though I don’t know exactly what that meant or how well it was realized — that’ s beside the point in any case. We have a pressing need for Civil Defense organization NOW. The local police departments seem like the best candidates for keeping order and more importantly organizing civil response to the kinds of crisis that loom in our future. We’ve had two recent hurricanes which caused major destruction here in New Jersey where I live and in New Orleans. FEMA was at best ineffectual and regardless, a local solution, supported by the Federal Government through FEMA and/or Homeland Security (I hate that name!!!!!) makes better sense. Instead of collecting military transport vehicles our local police departments should be collecting surplus power generators and water purification vehicles. The authority of local police should rest on their ability and WILL to help the community — NOT their firepower against desperate citizens.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        The police as a group seem to be a trickle down phenomenon of our general social political and economic state. As with banks, the bad ones are rising; they’ve become the winning strategy. Beyond that, It’s stunning how their “character” changes as you go from poor to more affluent neighborhood.

        Most would agree that we need the police, just not this police, but you can’t really have the ones you want without first changing things above.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Well said! But how much change would you require or allow “this” police to carry on? I believe the level of “things above” need go no higher than the “things above” local to each department.

          I want to believe that the police still serve their public. I want to believe in my local police force. I want to believe they really did join the force to “serve and protect”, which includes me and you among those served and protected. As you said, the bad are rising, and as you said things must change from above. It is indeed stunning how the attitudes of the police change with the demographics of their neighborhoods. I want to believe, however naive that may be, that those who chose to be police, not unlike those who chose to be teachers, are moved by a higher calling. We must call upon them to listen carefully to that higher calling and act as they must.

          Given this trust, and deep faith, if the Police act contrary to their true calling … then I might and will act against them for the greater good of society, as I hope others who believe in that greater good will act.

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            Not sure I’m getting your point – but that never seems to stop me…

            How high? If the Supreme Court says no need to read Miranda rights, it will hit the beat the following morning. That’s how high the change needs to start from.

            When I was growing up in Massachusetts, everyone thought it was illegal for the highway police to go in unmarked cars. I don’t know if it really was, but it might just as well have been for no cops ever did it and this restraint had a definate effect on people’s views. There was a sort of fair is fair assumption. Now unmarked is the rage; the only thing that identifies them is the plate and that is often hard to see. The colors used now are specifically designed to conceal and intimidate, to militarize, but not to be part of a smoothly operating highway system based on any sort of mutual respect. All of that militaristic attitude comes from the top. If Obama snuffs someone from 6 thousand miles away, the cops pick up on it and become that more beligerent. Little old ladies get tazered for frowning at El Officerissimo. Police departments swoon over license readers and face recognition software.

            Given this environment, it is very hard for the police you describe as wanting, and having faith in, to maintain any sort of compass bearings related to a higher calling. And I strongly suspect that in the selection of candidates and the training of those candidates to be police men and women, the whole “serve and protect” philosophy is dropping out of the criteria whole sale.

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              Reading through the thread again, I have to concede. I guess I watched my “Mary Poppins” DVD a few too many times.

              With one exception every single one of the guys from my high school who became cops were bullies in high school and worse as cops. Things were bad back then but as you point out the process for selecting cops today seems to select anyone but those who come to serve and protect — e.g. returning veterans from our foreign wars — the ones who enjoyed the “action.”

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    @Risky Moves: “It could be my bearish imagination, but there seems to have been an uptick in this sort of story; as if the powers that be hear footsteps behind them.”

    I don’t know of “footsteps behind them” but there does seem to be something of an uptick in the bearish references in the Links and Posts on this site. Given my impression of the depth, breadth, and analytical reach you, Lambert, and Ives have in scoping the available sources of information and evaluating their importance and “reality”, I trust on this faith, that the pattern of links and posts strongly suggests something is happening behind the scenes or is about to happen. I don’t think life insurance alone pivots the fulcrum point of the change.

    In day-to-day relations with people I deal with, but do not know … librarians, bank tellers, store clerks, I have noticed a much greater readiness to comment on how bad things seem to be getting and how little suggests any change to this degradation of our lives. I sense a broad change of mood … “a disturbance in the Force” recalling Ives post from a few years ago. There is anger where before I found tolerance or apathy.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I watched the movie “the Wave” last night and reflecting on that, especially the teacher’s speech near the end of the movie, wherein he espoused a string of nicely progressive sentiments, I am left with a feeling of foreboding and fear. If Huey Long ran for President now (taking the advertised view of Huey Long as an opportunist and demagogue) I think his chances would be good, assuming he could avoid assassination this time.

      I like to think of myself as something of an intellectual at least in the sense that I regard ideas as important and make an attempt at “… critical study, thought, and reflection about the reality of society,…”. I felt admonishment reading the presentation of Tolstoy’s criticism of intellectuals in the excellent critique of Anna Karenina from one of today’s links, a link I most appreciated and will treasure.

      1. Carla

        Why would you take the “advertised view” of Huey Long? I think the truth is a little more nuanced than that.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I take the advertised view of Huey Long solely for purposes of argument. I might vote for him if he ran for President now. I chose the advertised view of Huey Long as a proxy for the demagogues we might vote for now, and deliberately identified my view of him as “advertised” to suggest my lack of knowledge about the “real” Huey Long, a lack of knowledge I readily admit to.

  20. optimader

    National Bar Association wants second officer in Walter Scott shooting video fired, arrested Post and Courier. “[D]eliberately left material facts out of his report

    In my armchair legal perspective Scott is an accessory to murder.
    After seeing the original video, I made a point of watching media presentations of said vid wherein the end which reveals the second cop, Habersham, was a black was invariably edited away, presumably for the purpose of not diluting the racist white killer cop narrative. Pravda right? Msm is oh so toxic.
    Now Scott may well be a racist white killer cop, but that would just be an incidental circle on the Venn Diagram w/ the relevant circles defining Scott and Habersham each as evil sons of bitches and the intersection being killers w/no respect for the sanctity of life.

    My last point is that they should BOTH be held to the same legal standard as civilians, wherein if someone is killed in the commission of a crime it is an automatic murder charge circlejerk for any perp involved. If the law has fidelity it should apply to everyone equally, right?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Take no haste in making such judgments. Habersham is a victim of the “thin blue line” and deserves to be treated as a victim. He may be culpable, but the strong presence of a “thin blue line” — must give protection of sorts — even to accessories to murder. We must not as a society assume the blase application of “law” somehow implies or by devious means leads to “Justice.” Justice and law long ago parted ways. That is a root cause for too many of today’s problems.

      1. optimader

        I don’t buy into the thin blue line justification. There was no effort to provide first aid. He was left to bleedout w/ his hands cuffed behind his back.

    2. Carla

      The name of the white police officer in this instance is Michael Slager. The name of the victim he shot repeatedly in the back and killed is Walter Scott. If you’re going to expound on these matters, you might at least get those rather important names right.

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