Links 4/14/15

Rogue Microwave Ovens Are the Culprits Behind Mysterious Radio Signals National Geographic. Tinfoil will take care of that.

Vatican to train army of exorcists to deal with rising number of ‘demonic possessions’ Daily Mail

Why are interest rates so low, part 4: Term premiums Ben Bernanke, Brookings Institute

The mythic quest for early warnings Money and Banking

New Solutions to Old Problems Roger Farmer’s Economic Window. “We cannot buy insurance over the state of the world into which we are born.” But surely that applies to every human endeavor, not just financial markets?

Wall Street’s Wealth Transfer System Is Imperiling the U.S. Economy Wall Street on Parade

Fed official warns ‘flash crash’ could be repeated FT

Bond Traders Brace Themselves for Another Flash Rally Bloomberg

Credit Crunch Underway: Can Recession Be Far Behind? Global Economic Analysis (Furzy Mouse). Damned if I know, but the zeitgeist seems awfully skittish, suddenly, for an economy that’s supposed to be powering ahead.

U.S. Budget Deficit Widens, Ending Run of Shrinkage WSJ. Good!

Ackman Says Student Loans Are the Biggest Risk in the Credit Market Bloomberg

Ex-hospital executive in kickback scheme looks to spread the blame Reveal

Multi-millionaire owner of Nina Ricci fashion company jailed for trying to hide more than £15million from French taxman in HSBC Swiss accounts Daily Mail

UPDATE 1-US court allows EU money-laundering case vs RJ Reynolds Reuters

The black hole theory of the Eurozone Piera

In Odd European Twist, Banks Owe Borrowers WSJ

EU working with Italy to solve bad loan issue: EU official Reuters

Europe Slow to Adopt New Accounting Standard Despite Greek Crisis WSJ


Greece prepares debt default options FT

UPDATE 1-Greece denies report that it is preparing for debt default Reuters

Greeks quash snap election rumours as eurozone deadline looms Telegraph

Eurozone officials slammed Greece for acting like a ‘taxi driver’ as it ‘just kept asking for money’ Business Insider. I’ve noticed a lot of inchoate anger against taxi drivers in several contexts worldwide over the past year or so. I think it’s the rage of Richistanis who are forced, by circumstance, to realize their dependence on perceived social inferiors. Hence, Uber.

Millions of Russians Edge Toward Poverty as Economic Pressure Mounts Moscow Times

Are Russian Military Exercises a Threat? How to Interpret Russia’s Military Maneuvers in 2015 Registan (Furzy Mouse)

Ukraine: Right Sector Breaks Ceasefire, Newsweek Smears Akhmetov Moon of Alabama


Saudi Arabia, Turkey Discussing Unlikely Alliance To Oust Syria’s Assad HuffPo

U.S. Widens Role in Saudi-led Campaign Against Houthi Rebels in Yemen WSJ

How Iran won Bush’s Iraq War Juan Cole

Tom Cotton: Obama’s Iran Deal May Lead to Nuclear War The Atlantic. Good to have the Israeli view.

Changing public opinion: how Nigerian media won the 2015 elections Ventures Africa

China’s export numbers miss expectations BBC

China Walks $264 Billion Tightrope as Margin Debt Powers Stocks Bloomberg

Tepco gives up on rescuing shape-shifting reactor robot Japan Times. Expected to last 10 hours; died in three.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

NSA declares war on general purpose computers Boing Boing

Machine Learning Algorithm Mines 16 Billion E-Mails Technology Review. “Anything that usefully helps to ease the burden of e-mail overload could become an important part of the hidden bureaucracy of communication.”

Clinton drives conservatives bonkers. Is that a good thing? Crains Chicago Business

U.S. Encouraging Cuba To Shift Toward Democratic System Of Corruption The Onion

The Tangle of Coordinated Health Care NYT. Have any readers encountered this syndrome?

Not Sheep The Rochesterian. Parents opting children out of group tests.

Class Warfare

Genes Don’t Cause Racial-Health Disparities, Society Does The Atlantic

The New Liberal Consensus Is A Force To Be Reckoned With Modeled Behavior, Forbes and Look Who’s Talking: A ‘New’ Conventional Wisdom on Labor Medium

Work makes Fritos Max Speak, You Listen

Working, but Needing Public Assistance Anyway NYT. With handy map.

A Tenured Professor On Why Hiring Adjuncts Is WrongTalking Points Memo

Determining the optimal U.S. tax rate for higher earners Washington Center for Equitable Growth

AP Was There: Original AP report of Lincoln’s assassination AP

What if Abraham Lincoln had lived? WaPo

Tools for verifying and assessing the validity of social media and user-generated content Journalists Resource

New emotion recognition model: Humans perceive feelings of others via pattern recognition Science Daily

The Greatness of Günter Grass Salmon Rushdie, The New Yorker

Antidote du jour (via):


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Disturbed Voter

    NSA report link is broken ;-)

    Following up commentary via Google … yes, we are back to the V chip … for everyone. And it is Demos who are pushing this … because tyranny is more palatable from them than it is from the Repugs.

    It is relatively simple to do good symmetric key block encryption using a spreadsheet and a little know-how. To be successful the NSA would have to confiscate every computer less special purpose than an iPhone or iPad. The only question will be, will the CIA shills at Microsoft, Apple or Google be the ones to profit from this massive dumbing down of computer power.

    1. Ned Ludd

      Just last week, a backdoor was discovered in OS X. The NSA has plenty of money to buy all of the exploits it needs to gain control of any computer.

      Nations Buying as Hackers Sell Flaws in Computer Code

      The hackers, Luigi Auriemma, 32, and Donato Ferrante, 28, sell technical details of such vulnerabilities to countries that want to break into the computer systems of foreign adversaries. The two will not reveal the clients of their company, ReVuln, but big buyers of services like theirs include the National Security Agency — which seeks the flaws for America’s growing arsenal of cyberweapons — and American adversaries like the Revolutionary Guards of Iran.

      I expect that some exploits are introduced intentionally, to be sold to the highest bidder. In other cases, technology companies work directly with the NSA. “The NSA spends $250m a year on a program which, among other goals, works with technology companies to ‘covertly influence’ their product designs.”

      Since 2011, the total spending on Sigint enabling has topped $800m. The program “actively engages US and foreign IT industries to covertly influence and/or overtly leverage their commercial products’ designs”, the document states. None of the companies involved in such partnerships are named; these details are guarded by still higher levels of classification.

      Among other things, the program is designed to “insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems”. These would be known to the NSA, but to no one else, including ordinary customers, who are tellingly referred to in the document as “adversaries”.

      Silicon Valley probably wants to renegotiate for more money from the NSA; while the NSA would like to get everything for free, in perpetuity, without all of the haggling over payoffs.

      1. sd

        Maybe Apples half a billion in subsidies are actually payments for making back doors. Alas, more likely means Apple is getting even more government money that remains unreported. How would citizens feel if they found out one of the Americas most successful companies had actually received one billion dollars in federal assistance?

        1. Disturbed Voter

          What would citizens feel if they found out that one of America’s most successful companies had actually been sheltering many billions of dollars of potential US taxes overseas?

          Battle of the grifters … much like Rock’em-Sock’em robots ;-)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            How would the citizens feel?

            1. US money overseas means more global reserve currency to grease international trade. We have to embrace the global village. Stop being provincial.

            2. Taxes paid = money destruction. Not helpful in the midst of a War on Deflation.

            3. I forget what else I was going to say.

            1. Disturbed Voter

              The global village sizes us up … not unlike Procrustes (an appropriately Greek myth). Currently Greece is in need of a Theseus to kill Procrustes. If I am no longer a provincial … is QEII or The Pope my master? Perhaps President Xi?

              You can’t destroy what is a fiction … money is neither created or destroyed … only a fraud inflated or deflated. In any case, there is no real War on Deflation, any more than there is a real War on Poverty, Drugs or Terrorism. I still have my Whip Inflation Now button from the Ford Administration ;-)

      2. participant-observer-observed

        Condi Rice moved to Silicon Valley years ago and has been on the board of Drop Box for a year, which company has now “partnered” with Microsoft to allow “seamless integration.” Now, Microsoft has announced it will “give away” Windows 10 for free around the world. Is it really hard to fathom who is subsidizing for that?

        None of this is secret; it operates in broad daylight because the majority of the public has accepted the status quo of the new stazi state culture and most of the minority who object are powerless to influence policy in any case.

        Here is a challenge to non-believers: Set your antivirus firewall to block all inflows and outflows from your computer from all of your Microsoft programs (except svchost), and you will quickly see how much of your life is recorded into the archives in Redlands on a daily basis!

        (See also drop-dropbox but as i said, people are not dropping it because fascism for personal convenience is simply a “cost of doing business” even as public executions of black men without arrest and due process of law becomes a daily occurrence)

        1. hunkerdown

          I don’t think it’s so foily as that. Microsoft isn’t giving Windows 10 away for free, so much as finally matching the going price of a PC OS. Linux, iOS/OS X (free with supported hardware), and now Windows. (Ironically, Android devices are each subject to about $10 in licensing due to Microsoft.)

          Granted, assuming all corporate software artifacts are poison and not doing anything personal on corporate software is good lifesec, but not necessarily *easy*.

    1. diptherio

      The Lakota, Nakota and Dakota peoples are, if fact, still very much alive…but your point is taken.

      1. frosty zoom

        what did lincoln call them?

        anyhoo, i grew up looking at this dude on the penny. “oh, he freed slaves. that’s so cool.”

        and it is cool.

        but closer inspection of any being, great or vile, reveals more layers of greatness or vileness. lincoln, a man of his times at times, made many, in my humble opinion, mistakes.

        and thus, it rather dismayed me to read in the linked article the section entitled “western development” did not even mention the people who were being “moved”.

        if the slaveholding south had conquered the industrial north instead of vice versa, i imagine the sioux et al. would have recieved an even crappier deal.

        1. frosty zoom



          i’m gonna learn to write in lakota. it has to make more sense than english.

        2. diptherio

          Yes, strange isn’t it, how we whitewash our founding genocide. The West was not developed, it was looted and pillaged…but then that’s how empires role. Patricia Nelson Limerick has a great book on the topic, Legacy of Conquest.

          And just in the interest of spreading a little cultural understanding, the word “souix” means (approx.) “foreigner” in the Odawa language, i.e. the “souix” never called themselves that. It stuck, but I try to avoid it in the interests of cultural sensitivity.

          1. frosty zoom

            i fully understand that. take “sioux” as a metaphor.

            the name “yucatan” is probably from maya meaning “i don’t understand you”

            what do you call hungarians?

          2. LifelongLib

            The “genocide” was mostly accidental, a result of introduced diseases that nobody knew how to treat. If it hadn’t been for smallpox the Aztecs would have wiped out Cortez, and the militarily inept settlers wouldn’t have had a chance in North America if that disease and others hadn’t already killed 90 – 95% of Native Americans. The only thing that might have made a difference is if Europeans had all stayed home.

            1. Ulysses

              “The “genocide” was mostly accidental.”

              It may comfort you to believe that, but it simply isn’t true. When white settlers wiped out all of the Paiute men, women, and children in Circleville, Utah, in 1866, leaving no survivors, that wasn’t “accidental.” No, it was one of many thousands of deliberate genocidal acts committed by Europeans (my own Dutch and English ancestors amongst them) in the centuries following 1492.

              One other deliberate genocidal tactic, often used, was to foment and amplify wars between native peoples, as was done so often in the French and Indian Wars.

              1. davidgmills

                I think his point was had the native Americans not been so decimated by European disease, the Europeans would have never been able to get a toehold in North America from which to launch what was left of the genocide.

            2. vidimi

              wasn’t there a case of the whites deliberately handing out infected blankets to the natives?

  2. James Levy

    The article on adjuncts is very good. One critical, unasked question in all this discourse is, what the hell are non-profit institutions doing squeezing their workforce? I mean, since they don’t need to generate profits, why the obsession with surplus value extraction? And since Ivy League schools in particular are not increasing the number of incoming students in each class (heaven forbid it “hurt” their acceptance rate, which must remain as low as possible in order to prove how exclusive and excellent these august institutions are) why do they need so much more money wrung from the wage side of the ledger?

    I’ve got a solution: charter universities so that they are self-governing corporate bodies with restricted limited liability. All profs who are hired are voting members of the corporation; they get to vote for who will hold the administrative offices. Only tenured faculty can hold designated offices (which can’t amount to more than a few percent of total faculty) and they only get a stipend for the time they serve, no increase in pay, and no one can hold any office for more than six years. If the corporation runs in the red, the profs are liable. This will limit the incentive to overspend. It will also keep people moving back and forth between faculty and administrative posts, which will be good for both sides of the divide and hopefully shrink what today is a yawning gap between administrators and faculty.

    1. diptherio

      …why do they need so much more money wrung from the wage side of the ledger?

      Admin bonuses, of course!

    2. Ernesto Lyon

      Non-profit is a tax status. Executive positions in the universities are very highly paid.

      Also, the extension of student loan limits has allowed universities to increase their tuitions. The money goes to buildings and top administrators.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The fear is like self-service gas stations replacing full service ones, they will give us ‘do it yourself education.’

      And it’s not like self-taught is derogatory.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      People under-estimate the Democrats in many, many ways, not just on this question.

      What the right wing party does, the Dems can do better. They just need to overcome this inferiority complex propaganda.

      1. theinhibitor

        Hope you forgot that /sarc tag.

        Dems, reps, right, left, blue, red… it doesnt matter when the underlying politics are strictly for Wall Street and lining their own pockets.

  3. Oakchair

    After Greece paid the IMF its doubtful that they would default and tell “the institutions” to screw off.
    Given that polls show that Syriza would win a majority in a new election its apparent that they are not willing to do what is best for Greece and instead will be content with following the economic policies that started in 2007 which lead to 26% unemployment. Lucky for Greece they will have 200mn in humanitarian relief, more equal rights for gays and immigrants more focus on taxing the rich and some other minor improvements that’s lucky right?

    1. participant-observer-observed

      That is an important observation actually.

      Countries need not kowtow hat in hand to the troika of the day. Stand tall, and for every hovering monster with pliers looking to extract teeth, demand a few pints of blood in return!

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Genes…racial health disparities…society does.

    Moreover, civilization itself is responsible for a whole host of health issues…issues not there for hunter-gatherers.

  5. Jackrabbit

    How Iran won Bush’s Iraq War Juan Cole

    Juan Cole’s can barely contain his glee at Iran’s ‘win’. Unfortuneately, he seems to have fallen into the trap of accepting the non-deal at face value. THERE IS NO DEAL WITH IRAN. What has been reached is merely an “understanding” on a framework for possibly reaching a deal. The document describing this explicitly states: “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

    Knee-jerk liberal triablism is granting the Obama Administration an as-yet-undeserved political/propaganda victory. The Administration also uses Iran negotiations for pretending that there is a distancing of USA from Israel and KSA. We’ve seen enough good-cop/bad-cop illusions from our political leaders that this should be taken with a big grain of salt. Do you really believe that Obama the deceiver, who has otherwise given neocons a free reign, found a spine on the issue of Iran? Its much more likely that the Obama Administration simply said what they had to so as to bank a political/propaganda victory (which M$M and liberal tribalism is burnishing for him nicely).

    Already the Iranians are complaining about key aspects of the non-deal – even before negotiations on the details of a possible deal are negotiated. And, despite this “peace deal” (and/or the possibility of undermining it), Iran still finds it important to purchase the Russian S-300 air defence system (Russia just approved the sale – which the US has been strongly opposed to in the past). Seems likely (just logical, really) that the US will object to the sale until a real deal is reached. Because “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. Will the M$M note this objection when it occurs? I doubt it as that would shine a bright light on the rush to paint Obama as “peace maker”.

    See more info in my previous writing on this subject (click on link).

    H O P

    1. LucyLulu

      Do you really believe that Obama the deceiver, who has otherwise given neocons a free reign, found a spine on the issue of Iran?

      It isn’t that Obama has found a spine so much as he is attempting to build a legacy. Negotiating peace with Iran and the Muslim world was a key part of his campaign, earning him his yet undeserved Nobel Peace prize. This is a last attempt to pull success back from the jaws of defeat. It’s also a worthy effort since war with Iran is the last thing the US needs. Iran is a far cry from Iraq or Afghanistan and will make a formidable adversary, likely triggering WWIII. Though I doubt Iran would make the first strike, nuclear weapons or not, its understandable why they would feel threatened and want to have an equal playing field and effective deterrent against the bully nations. Unfortunately, a nuclear Iran would lead to a nuclear Saudi and Turkey, etc. A buildup of nations with nuclear weapons (bad enough Israel has them, or anybody has them) in a region that will continue to be a hair’s breadth from imploding until problems of water distribution caused by climate change are solved, deserves our best efforts at prevention.

      Republicans and pro-Israeli Congress critters, Netanyahu can lead to a stronger deal on the part of the US, assuming they don’t go overboard and kill any chance for a deal altogether in the pursuit of political gain. And there IS a chance for a deal, as both sides have strong motivations to strike a deal, though the window will soon be closing as other partners lose interest in supporting sanctions, as the deal with Russia demonstrates. However, traditionally such deals have been under presidential authority to make, rarely involving Congress. Interesting though that Congress still hasn’t made any moves towards AUMF for Iraq, which Constitutionally IS part of their authority.

      1. Jagger

        ————–Unfortunately, a nuclear Iran would lead to a nuclear Saudi and Turkey, etc. A buildup of nations with nuclear weapons (bad enough Israel has them, or anybody has them) in a region that will continue to be a hair’s breadth from imploding until problems of water distribution caused by climate change are solved, deserves our best efforts at prevention.—–

        Does Israels possession of the nuclear bomb have any impact on determining whether and why a nuclear arms race may exist in the Middle East? Or does the arms race only start if an Arab country attempts to obtain the bomb?

        I strongly suspect Israel’s possession of the nuclear bomb, their extraordinary aggression and complete lack of respect for any sort of international law undoubtably inspires all Arab countries with a desire for nuclear weapons simply as a form of self protection against Israel. So is Israel possession of nuclear weapons the origin of any existing Middle East nuclear arms race? I think if we are going to point fingers about nuclear weapon arms races, we need to bear in mind the origin of the race.

        ————-deserves our best efforts at prevention—–

        IMO, our “best efforts at prevention” would require an agreement signed by all mideast countries to keep the Mideast nuclear free. Considering that Israel is in the Mideast, they would need to join the aggreement if we want to eliminate nuclear arms races in the mideast. Considering the general good and welfare of humankind, I would support any needed sanctions to persuade any country which refuses to sign the agreement eliminating any existing middle east nuclear weapons programs and/or nuclear weapons. Sounds reasonable? I bet Iran would sign in a New York minute. Not so sure about Israel.

        1. LucyLulu

          I couldn’t agree more with your point about the agreement including Israel giving up their nuclear weapons. They are the biggest threat to the region (along with the US) and in manner of ultimate hypocrisy, have refused any inspections or to reveal how many weapons they have, while threatening to attack Iran. Unfortunately Israel would never agree nor does it have any motivation to agree to do this. They depend upon their military superiority and US backing for their continual encroachment of settlements beyond 1967 terms and apartheid practices against Palestinians. I have yet to figure out how Israel is the US’s “best friend” in the region. We provide them with billions in military aid, do battle with enemies on their behalf while they remain uninvolved, adding to existing bad will towards Americans. Iran’s backing of terrorist groups, IIRC, is limited to Hamas and Hezbollah, who solely target Israel. Shia’s and Baathist’s haven’t targeted Saudi Arabia, where Islam’s most holy sites of Mecca and Medina are located, discounting religious motivations.

          Can somebody tell me what Israel does for the US besides supplying us with technology for our global surveillance network, and for which we pay by having them ensure they secretly retain their own access? With friends like Israel, who needs enemies?

      2. Jackrabbit

        I think you are not thinking clearly about this. Did you really read what I wrote above? You seem to have drunk a lot of Cool-aid.


        It isn’t that Obama has found a spine so much as he is attempting to build a legacy.
        Obamacare was “building a legacy” also, but it was a ‘give’ to corporate interests. With this non-deal, Obama is being hailed as a peace maker before the peace has been made. Will it ever actually result in a real deal?


        Negotiating peace with Iran and the Muslim world was a key part of his campaign . . .
        He broke many promises, why is this one any better than the others? You ignore that he is being given credit for “peace with Iran” before there is a real peace agreement. And his “new beginning” with the Arab World is a flop as the Egyption military dictatorship attests to.


        “. . . earning him his yet undeserved Nobel Peace prize.”
        He seems to get much that is undeserved, including excuses from those who can’t understand/accept that they’ve been had.


        This is a last attempt to pull success back from the jaws of defeat.
        Once again, THERE IS NO PEACE DEAL WITH IRAN. It is only an understanding on a framework for a possible peace deal. And even that understanding looks shaky.


        It’s also a worthy effort since war with Iran is the last thing the US needs.
        You have fallen for the media narrative: War or Peace. There is a third choice: more of the same.

        We are already in a proxy war against Iranian interests. We have anti-terrorist sanctions against Iran that will not be lifted (because Iran support Hezbollah and other groups). We are actively trying to topple Iran’s Syrian ally, Assad. And much of our support for “moderate rebels” (including many of the rebels themselves) has wound up with ISIS, which is attacking both Syria and the Iraq (which has close relations with Iran).


        “. . . triggering WWIII. . . . first strike, nuclear weapons . . .”
        Just repeating the scare-mongering. Hardliners have been saying that they are close to building a bomb for 10 years or more already.


        “. . . a nuclear Iran would lead to a nuclear Saudi and Turkey, etc.”
        So why didn’t we conclude an agreement with Iran years ago? Obama’s non-deal could’ve happened long ago. And Obama and his neolib Administration is more likely to arrange for such commercial opportunities than to negate the need for them.


        “Republicans and pro-Israeli Congress critters, Netanyahu can lead to a stronger deal . . .[if] they don’t go overboard and kill any chance for a deal altogether in the pursuit of political gain.
        You suspect opponents to maneuver for political gain but have no such reservations about Obama?


        “And there IS a chance for a deal, as both sides have strong motivations to strike a deal, though the window will soon be closing as other partners lose interest in supporting sanctions
        OTOH, if Iran is depicted as breaking or backing away from a “peace deal” they will be labelled as untrustworthy extremists and sanctions will be extended and deepened. In addition, as you point out, commercial opportunities for nuclear infrastructure will balloon.

        1. LucyLulu

          And if US backs away from the deal, our global partners will back out of sanctions, as Russia appears to already making motions towards. The US is not the only part of the deal. They can’t enforce sanctions unilaterally. Sanctions are driving Iran to the table, but don’t count on them surviving much beyond June. Meanwhile, the deal isn’t over until it’s over. Haven’t folks here ever seen political posturing before? Both sides have hardliners that need to be appeased. However, since the last elections, Obama has been less concerned about appeasing and playing politics, in part evidenced by his flurry of executive orders vs. floating (lousy) grand bargains. And pre-emptively, no, I’m not a fan of Obama. However, my feelings towards him don’t color my perceptions such that he is precluded from EVER viewed as having succeeded or done anything that benefits the country. No presidency is ever so black and white. A deal with Iran that delays Iran becoming nuclear and/or averts war would also be historically advantageous for Obama.

          Making a bomb won’t take Iran another 10 years, by any stretch. It’s trivial for an advanced country like Iran. Obtaining the fissile material is the primary difficulty and has been the obstacle they’ve been unable to yet overcome, and why they need all those centrifuges………. or another nuclear nation to provide them with some.

          1. Jackrabbit

            . . . global partners will back out of sanctions, as Russia appears to already . . .
            The Russians agreed to sanctions at a time of friendly-ish relations with the US. Now that has changed, so of course they have lost interest in playing ball.


            Sanctions are driving Iran to the table . . .
            Actually sanctions are NOT preventing Iran from developing its nuclear industry. In that regard they are not working. And Iran does not seem to be in any hurry to end sanctions by relenting on its demands. One of these demands is that sanctions are lifted quickly and all at once.

            The Iranians seem to think that this is what the framework indicates but the Obama Administration seems to thing otherwise. Did US negotiators convey this impression purposely so as to get a deal for Obama (with no intention of follow-thru)? This alone could be the end of the peace non-deal.

            If sanctions WERE working, I would guess there wouldn’t be any negotiations. The neocons would demand that they be allowed to continue. But there is a new element that is generally not considered in M$M reporting. That is the rise of ISIS and its sectarian war. Do neocons want to see how THAT plays out? Endless talks with Iran that go nowhere would certainly allow for that.


            Haven’t folks here ever seen political posturing before?
            Many “folks” (here and elsewhere) are wary of Obama because his ‘political posturing’ – which you hint at being harmless – has always meant fooling ordinary people for the benefit of powerful interests.

            Even the word “folks” in any context that includes Obama makes me cringe.


            . . . since the last elections, Obama has been less concerned about appeasing and playing politics
            This has little bearing on the issue at hand. But Democrats were trounced in the mid-terms, reflecting the growing realization of Obama’s betrayal(s). And his 11-dimensional chess was not appeasing, it was colluding.


            . . . succeeded or done anything that benefits the country.
            Please tell us what Obama has done that was designed to solely benefit the country – that did not provide a big or bigger benefit to a powerful group or monied interest?

            “Change You Can Believe In” was a scam – there is little transparency, executive signing statements are still done, Guantanmo was never closed, we are still in Afghanistan and only left Iraq because the Iraqi’s forced us out, the ‘carried interest’ tax credit for wealthy Wall Streeters was never closed, IRS spies even more than they did under Bush, no one has been brought to justice by “no drama’ Obama, global warming has not been dealt with (except some meek actions to ‘mitigate’ its effects).

            Obamacare was a corporate give-away.

            HAMP was ‘foaming the runway’ for the banks.

            Dodd-Frank was watered down by the extensive rules-making that came after passage of what was initially hailed as a landmark for regulation (as critics predicted); the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ was a fiasco that made most Bush tax cuts permanent but allowed deep cuts in social programs via “sequester” (a sort of politically “forced” austerity – only not).

            The “New Beginning With The Arab World” and “reset” with Russia all went sour because the Obama Administration didn’t follow-thru on its rhetoric.

            I think that’s enough. I won’t go on.


            A deal with Iran that delays Iran becoming nuclear and/or averts war would also be historically advantageous for Obama.
            That may be so, but I have to ask, again, why did Obama buck the neocons on this ONE issue? (Note: Obama’s negotiations with Iran began almost three years ago.) He has given them free reign otherwise. Doesn’t it seem possible (some might say likely) that the neocons were consulted all along and were OK with talking – as long as it never results in any real peace (unless on their terms). If so, then Obama has smartly ‘banked’ a political/propaganda ‘win’ with little expectation that a final agreement will ever be reached.

            Many good people, like yourself, just can’t imagine why ANYONE – even Obama – would act in any way that is adverse to the oh-so-logical, long-sought peace with Iran. You don’t understand the neolibcon mindset. A suggest you meditate a bit on Nuland’s “F*ck the EU!” statement.

            Also consider this: Obama hasn’t achieved “peace”, yet he is hailed by M$M as a peace-maker. If peace agreement is never achieved (for whatever reason), who do you think will be blamed?


            I just want to add that I want peace as much as anyone. But I am tired of the Obama headfakes and the knee-jerk support that enables him.

        2. LucyLulu

          It’s no different than buying a car or negotiating a divorce settlement. Both parties insist on getting more perks than they settle for in the final agreement. Until everyone signs on the dotted line, the agreement isn’t final.

    2. Michael

      We’ve seen the difference between Obama the indifferent (the economy, the environment, pot) and Obama the committed (TPP, bankster protection, nonproliferation).

      It’s a pretty dramatic difference, and it’s easy to tell.

      1. participant-observer-observed

        (the economy, the environment, pot)

        whoops you forgot one: criminal justice!

        (as the corpses of young black men pile up in the streets)

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Emotion recognition model.

    A new one.

    Oh, good.

    Now, we can really improve our interrogat….check that, truth seeking procedure.

    “Herr doctor, that research money was not wasted. Good job for the good guys. Another great day for science….mental science. We are advancing it. You can measure the fear emotion in him. The model is positive about that.”

    1. participant-observer-observed

      A lot of the studies use facial recognition protocols too, which method the science-naive public already uses, the only difference is it not being quantitative data!

      Even fMRI of ansular insula (aversion) brain anatomical function is just blood flows, not actual brain tissue scans: for that you need PET!

  7. Car Burgular

    This isn’t the first time taxi drivers have surfaced in the Greek crisis.

    The Memorandum of Understanding with the Troika had a provision for restructuring the Greek taxi markets! There’s your example of the level of detail the institutions need in restructuring proposals. How do you think it was identified as a problem in need of repair, and so quickly that it was on the list for inclusion on the Memorandum? Deep economic analysis? A long train of empirical studies? Lambert is right. It smells to me like some particular official had a couple of rough rides into Athens from the airport, and I bet the backstory could be uncovered without too much digging.

    Of course a fully competitive taxi market can only help the Greek economy attain maximum efficiency and global competitiveness!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A door is now open for Chinese taxi drivers, or any other efficient/productive taxi drivers (let not single out any particular country), to take over that particular sector of the Greek market.

      1. participant-observer-observed

        hey that inspires a new business idea:

        Partner traditional chinese medicine doctors with taxi drivers, and the economically disenfranchised uninsured can get a Dx & Rx in transit!

        The transit to 3rd world economy will be profitable to the enterprising. The 99c Only stores are booming!

    2. BondsOfSteel

      To be fair, Athens’ taxis are pretty much an example of rampant corruption. In ’99, I was in a group of 12 people that all flew into Athens separately and met up at a hotel downtown. When we compared what paid for taxis, it varied by 2x-3x. Only 2 out of 12 of us got honest fares:

      None of us were really upset… it’s just the way things work there.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe this will be called nonsense, but can we really rule out faulty fare-meters?

        How do we know they were not made in China, or rather Cuba, Fukushima or North Korea (let’s stop China bashing for now)?

  8. Vatch

    Why isn’t this an Onion article?

    “Vatican to train army of exorcists to deal with rising number of ‘demonic possessions’ Daily Mail”

    If they’re thorough, they’ll also recruit vampire slayers and werewolf hunters.

    1. Ulysses

      We should send all these new exorcists to Wall St. !! Can’t hurt, right??!!? At the very least this new army of exorcists will join the ranks of the newly employed– and maybe cast the demons out of the C-suite occupants with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

      1. craazyboy

        It’s about time someone takes job creation seriously. Productivity has gone off the charts in this country and next thing ya know comes deflation and low interest rates. The Fed needs help fighting the spiritual world!

        Sure – The Order of St. Buffy, the Order of St. Van Helsing and somebody needs to make sure all those zombies stay buried. Otherwise zombie banks could take over, Congress would be full of deadbeats, and disembodied female spirits might possess anyone wearing nice shoes, even Hillary. What if dragons appear in the sky again spewing hellfire at the citizenry down below??? Someone needs to save us from this fate.

  9. dSquib

    Nice Cuba hed from the Onion.

    The problem with the opening of relations with Cuba is maintaining of the language of problem management, meaning the move is open to being judged by whether or not Cuba is “democratic” by Freedom House criteria by 2020 or whatever. It won’t be.

    Why can’t we ever just say the embargo was a bad idea so we’ll stop doing it.

      1. dSquib

        Won’t be surprised if agreement to lift embargo includes the right to “preferential” treatment for US biz.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            With the global reserve currency that we can print at will, as much as we want, we will always party like it’s 1492.

            “I love you, my don’t-leave-home-without-it currency…forever.”

  10. cwaltz

    I do know that the billions we’ve spent to coordinate things via computerized medical records hasn’t panned out completely. While the pharmacies can and do indeed communicate with hospitals the doctors can not communicate with each other unless they are from the same network. I had a heck of a time when my primary care physician was in the Carillion network but my specialist was HCA. My primary care doctor had no way to know what testing was completed and what the results were without me explaining things.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      Correct … and sometimes even “within network” there are problems communicating. Usually it may take several days for a lab to be resolved … if it is outsourced to a specialist lab … therefore the results not being known to the physician until days after the medical encounter … and the encounter entry is already closed. The physician then has to inform the patient of the results, particularly if significant … and in theory the results can be attached as addenda to the original patient encounter. Often external labs have a hard time communicating electronically with the sending facility … they may have many different ones they do business with. Generally pharmacy interaction is better developed than lab or radiology, both within and outside the network. If the doctor fails to append the results … then they are lost to the next exam … and will tend to be reordered sooner than necessary. It is in the financial interest of medical equipment and software providers, to lock down their proprietary systems.

  11. JTMcPhee

    Bernanke ‘splainin’ interest rates. Guffaw!

    One acute comment from the piece:

    f productivity increases at 3% per year, it doubles in 24 years. Over the 80 year life expectancy of an American, it increases by an order of magnitude (10x).
    The current year’s increase in per-capita product is, under such circumstances, equal to the entire per-capita product of some previous year. Depending on one’s math, one might find that the per-capita output of a particular year toward the beginning of the 20th century is equal to the per capita output increase between 2014 and 2015. This is a hint about how much product in the current year is ‘discretionary’ – nice but not essential.
    Labor in the 19th century was just that – pick and shovel, horse drawn plow, carrying loads on one’s back. The early 20th century was shifting to electric power and internal combustion engines, as well as high pressure steam (locomotives in the 19th century were made out of iron until the 1880s, from there, they used steel). Therefore, even 115 years ago ‘labor saving machinery’ was moving productivity far beyond outputs needed simply to survive.
    ‘Marginal utility’ of economic output is declining at an accelerating rate. If my grandparents lived in an 800 square foot house, my parents lived in an 1800 square foot house, and someone is trying to sell me a 3200 square foot house, I might decide I can live quite comfortably in 1200 square feet. At that point all the people that would be loaning me money for appliances, furniture, wide screen TVs, and decorative appurtenances are basically trying to sell 2015 product to a 1970s consumer. Lenders have decades of reinvested profits to loan out, but consumers simply don’t have the appetite for that much stuff.

    Eeeewww! Look at what’s under all this froth! (On second thought, maybe don’t until your tummy has settled…)

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    They look like bird-drones.

    This will probably resurface in my dreams…along with space junk disguised as satellites or maybe the other way around…you can’t tell when you’re dreaming.

    1. frosty zoom

      those are lovedrones, dropping invisible (and scent-free!) reefer bombs on an unsuspecting populace, thus inducing them to a blissful state of hotpockets and season 3 of futurama!

      hey, that’s a good idea!

      attention darpa: stop trying to fry the evildoers; just get them really buzzed and then walk in and subdue them with nachos.

    2. lambert strether

      The birds are Parisian swifts. I thought they were instantly recognizable. and so in the Limks minimalist tradition, did not explain.

      1. frosty zoom

        ah, yes, the limks school, a movement that grew out in rebellion against the overwhelming chaos of the canvases of the mouvement hompage.

      2. different clue

        Parisian swifts? Are we sure? They look very like rock doves ( “park pigeons”) to me. Too big to be swifts. Bodies not shaped like cigars. Look especially at the 2nd top left bird with the fan-spread tail and the strongly bent-at-the-middle-joint wings. Swifts just don’t do that, expecially they don’t ( can’t) flare/spread their tails to be wider at the tip than at the base.

  13. rich

    Government Service Golden Parachutes at C, GS, JPM, MS

    I recently received an email from the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund urging a vote in favor (“FOR”) their shareholder resolutions asking Citigroup (C), Goldman Sachs (GS), JPMorgan (JPM), and Morgan Stanley (MS) to issue a report to shareholders disclosing the dollar amounts of government service golden parachutes – pay their senior executives will receive if they voluntarily resign to enter into government service.

    GSThe proposal is a good idea. I hope to be following up with posts on how I voted at Citigroup (C) and Goldman Sachs (GS). I do not own any shares of JPMorgan (JPM) or Morgan Stanley (MS). Below is the the AFL-CIO rationale for why “government service golden parachutes” do not serve the interests of shareholders.
    What is a Government Service Golden Parachute?

    For the purpose of these shareholder resolutions, a government service golden parachute is the accelerated vesting of equity-based awards for senior executives due to a voluntarily resignation to enter government service. In other words, senior executives who enter government service will receive equity compensation that they would otherwise forfeit for failing to meet the employment period or performance vesting requirements of their equity compensation.
    How are Government Service Golden Parachutes Unusual?

    To our knowledge, the provision of government service golden parachutes is unique to Wall Street banks.
    Government Service Golden Parachutes Raise Troubling Questions

    The provision of government service golden parachutes also raises troubling public policy and ethical questions. How do Wall Street investment banks benefit from giving their executives a financial incentive to enter government service? Do they expect to receive favorable government treatment from their former executives? These public policy questions may further harm the reputations of Wall Street investment banks that have already been tarnished by the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Once you have captured something, anything, you have to have your people on the ground to occupy it. Incentivizing volunteers for that purpose is necessary.

      Now that it is secured, it is the time to reveal to the world that Budgets Limited Inc. is actually Budgets Unlimited Inc.

  14. susan the other

    Thank you for the homage to Gunter Grass by Salman Rusdie in the New Yorker. And from there to a 2007 piece by Grass explaining his incarnation as a 17-year old SS recruit in the last days of the war: How I Spent the War. I paid my respects to him by reading the whole thing. It was wonderful and gruesome. And made even clearer the images and message of The Tin Drum. We could all heed them today. Because if we fail to grow up and continue to allow the corporatists and the fascists to trick us into war again, we will carry it on our conscience forever. They? Not so much.

  15. participant-observer-observed

    Okay NC eco-geek special COOL-aid here for you for your water cooler thirtsts:

    TRRN’s Paul Jay interviews PERI Co-Director: Robert Pollin says the living-wage movement is building momentum as hundreds of thousands are expected to rally on Wednesday (FF strike)

    Interview w PERI chock full of cherished endangered species of number crunching x social econ sanity!

  16. Oregoncharles

    “Credit Crunch Underway: Can Recession Be Far Behind?” –

    Now, wouldn’t that be a clever way to rig the next election – for the Republicans, since it’s their turn.

    1. craazyman

      these clowns have been writing this shlt almost continuously for 5 straight years. Eventually they’ll be right but it won’t be prescience. It’ll be luck.

  17. noone

    Anyone out there in California, brutally shoved onto Medi-Cal, aware that one of the main Medi-Cal support line numbers links to employees paid by Xerox, even though the message states “Welcome to Medi-Cal”? Further, the government entity who provided you that number (because they aren’t able and/or willing to answer your questions) does not inform you it is Xerox employees who you will be relaying highly specific personal data to.

    A heads up, at least one of the Medi-Cal main support line numbers is a Xerox/Medi-Cal phone line -out of a Xerox colt’s (really young near minimum wage Xerox employee who desperately needed a job and ended up at a 1-800 Xerox/Medi-Cal Call Center) mouth – they are Xerox employees, paid by Xerox.

    So, when you relay very specific personal information, which ends up recorded and databased, on “Medi Cal [Xerox, at al?]” Support Lines, you may want to ask beforehand, who the person you’re speaking to is being paid by.

    Sincerely and clearly,

    ‘noone’ (one of millions of no ones)

    1. ambrit

      The Heritage Foundation Care sign up phone bank here in “My Home Town” Mississippi is run by General Dynamics. It was set up in an empty box store in the old, and run down, mall near where we live. During sign-up season, the parking lot is full of increasingly older, more ‘gently worn’ automobiles. The workforce looks quite evenly split between twenty somethings who have that newly minted BA degree look, and an older, forty and fifty somethings crowd who all look like they’ve just left a mid level managers meeting at a corporate regional hub. Very few, if any, smiles. A lot of desperate frowns, and really death defying driving habits. (The locals steer clear of that ‘zone’ during shift change and lunchtime.) If this is the face of the “new normal,” then it’s about time to tear it all down and start over.

  18. noone

    A search such as Medi-Cal xerox help line 1-800 might verify (at least presently), it worked for me, for those who may think things have not gotten that bad.

    Sincerely and clearly,

    ‘noone’ (one of millions of no ones)

    1. LucyLulu

      Damn, comment lost to cyberspace.

      Summary: Xerox acquired ACS, a multizillion dollar business process and IT outsourcing firm in 2010 and is now called Xerox Healthcare Solutions, LLC, locations based largely in NY (tax-free for 10 years?), India, and Ireland, . They provide services to 17,000 govt agencies across 50 states, with more than 25% of their business devoted to the healthcare industry. They purport to lower medical costs, often through the use of data tracking and analytics. They operate private health insurance exchanges, health portals, and provide EHR solutions. They are best known probably though for their EZPass toll system and parking solutions. Here is a snip from a 2011 news release:

      Future technology…
      Parking charges with no on street equipment, no cell phone usage, and no enforcement?
      A Canadian company is working on a system that will use the car’s GPS location to track length of stay and then charge the owner’s account based on the rate at that parking space. A device within the car will identify the vehicle to the satellite and appropriate charges made. If an overstay or ‘red zone’ violation occurs, the citation can be automatically sent to the vehicle’s registered owner.
      How’s that for ultimate parking technology.

      Public is private = profit in every nook and cranny = ain’t free markets grand!

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